Getting Some Zen On

How touching Bruce Springsteen’s ass changed my life

Thought I’d republish this story today on Spaight Talk from a 2009 Posterous blog, in honor of that site shutting down today. (Buh-bye, Posterous…it was real. Sort of.) This could also be titled, How Changing My Outlook On Life Enabled Me To Touch Bruce Springsteen’s Ass. Or, if I wanted to get all new-agey on you, I could call it something about the Power of Possibility. It’s real, man. BELIEVE. Case in point…

AH, TO BE 16.

It all goes back to when I was 16, grounded, and my Dad snuck me out of the house against my Mom’s wishes to go to the Springsteen Born In the U.S.A. show at Alpine Valley. I remember standing on the hill in my *super hot* aqua tube top, white shorts and jean jacket, getting chills up my spine listening to the harmonica wail through the acoustic version of No Surrender. (Or maybe it was just my outfit that was giving me chills; it had nothing on the pink cowboy boots, white Coca-Cola brand jeans and yellow tank top that I wore to the Grateful Dead show, but that’s a different story altogether and one that shall never be told…at least not in its entirety. But I digress.)

ASKING, “WHAT IF…?”

Fast forward from 1984 to 2002, several states of residence, a slightly better wardrobe, including, ironically, a better Gap 1968 jean jacket. I’m in my mid-30s and after being called “the gypsy” by my family for a decade or so, have come back home to the Milwaukee area to “settle down.”

It is the post-September-11 Rising Tour, and Bruce is coming to Milwaukee. On a whim, I decide to stop by the Bradley Center ticket office and see if I can get two tickets to pay my Dad back for that long-ago magical night. I figure we’re going to end up in the nosebleeds, if I can get tickets at all, and I don’t care. I just want my Dad to know how much I appreciate what he did.

MIRACLES HAPPEN.

So, I’m sitting in the lobby waiting for the ticket office to open, and a guy, turns out his name is Bill, comes walking in with a clipboard.

Bill: “You here for Springsteen?”

Me: “Um, yeah.”

Bill: “YOU’RE NUMBER ONE.”

Me: “Um, thanks, but, huh? I don’t even have tickets. What the hell are you talking about?”

Bill tells me that he is a fellow fan organizing the line of fans into the order they will enter the show. Meaning if I can scrounge up two general admission tickets, my Dad and I will be front row, dead center. So, being resourceful, I do. And, we are. And it’s absolutely MIND BLOWING. The heartbreaking City of Ruins is like prayer, and Bruce breathes new life into every person present. The newspaper comes and does a story about how my Dad, an 80-year-old fan, is the first guy in the show, and due payback has been achieved in glorious fashion.

BELIEVE.

Sometimes, you just have to believe in possibility, even if it is against all odds. Sometimes, good things just happen to good people for putting themselves out there.

What are the odds that I would show up at the last minute like that, and end up front row center? Pretty damn slim. But it happened, and it happened because I took a chance that it might be possible.

OH YEAH…BRUCE’S ASS.

Wait, though. You’re wondering about the ass part, and where that comes in, right?

The Milwaukee epiphany leads me to a Bruce show in Miami, where Bruce does a duet of Because the Night with Bono and where I meet my friend Mike from Boston, who accompanies me to a show in Columbus, Ohio, where we get so close to the stage that I get to hold Bruce’s hand during “Mary’s Place” and, yes, cannot resist the very unlady-like urge to touch his ass, just because it’s right there in front of me.

Life, my friends, is right there in front of you. Are you going to grab it?

How to make someone’s day

ohmygawd…the G-man is on coffee!!! I am both ridiculously giddy about and deeply touched by this.

My amazing friend Steve Hawthorne from Stone Creek Coffee made this happen for G, for his wildlife fundraiser this Saturday, March 31 at Adventure Rock.

As cool and worth sharing as that is, I actually do have a point here. Steve’s kindness has brought to the forefront of mind how wonderful it is to make someone’s day. Within whatever resources we have at our disposal.

It doesn’t have to be STUFF, it can be as simple as a sincere compliment (my Dad is the master of this), a note in a lunchbox, any thoughtful thing that says:

“I see who you are and what you are doing, and care enough to acknowledge it.”

I try to do this from time to time. A yoga class for a friend in need of healing. Emergency gummy candy “meds” for a stressed-out friend. A good book for a friend who is missing her dogs, lost in a sudden divorce. But I need to do more.

It makes a LOT OF JOY. Imagine if we all did this every day.

What can you do to make someone’s day?

Peace. Spaight

Saying thank you

Two of the most important words in the language, IMHO, are “thank you.” It’s a powerful phrase for individuals and companies alike. Recognizing your friends and supporters is sooooooo important. We talked about this last Friday when I spoke at First Edge, along with my belief that I’d much rather have a smaller, core group of people who REALLY care, than a huge number of friends/followers/subscribers who SORT OF care.

So, thank YOU. For your attention, your time, your friendship and your amazing support during what has been been a #bajeezuz of a 2-3 weeks. I am fortunate to know every single one of you, and am really humbled by all of the caring notes, thoughts and prayers I have received during these challenging days.

It continues to be challenging in terms of pain management, but, I remain exceedingly grateful for what appears to have been the “best case scenario” outcome. My surgery went well, as well as it could have. As it turned out, there were no cysts Boom and Bah…just one huge bad mammajamma of a Chuck Norris cyst. (I have photos of Chuck, but I’ll spare you!) The biopsy is still pending, though since there were no visible signs of cancer we’re pretty confident that the “All Clear” will be sounding soon.

Until then…THANK YOU.

Making the most of precious time

Nearly two years ago, while waiting for results of tests to determine if I had ovarian cancer, I wrote this post, You can tweet like hell, but are you living loudly enough? I ask this question as much of myself as of you, of course. Lo and behold, yesterday, I received some potentially unfortunate news from my doctor. I don’t know for sure what it means yet – so let’s not jump to conclusions – but it’s enough to scare the hell out of me, make me feel how fragile life is, and make me wonder anew if I am spending my precious time well.

I have, for the most part, I think, lived out loud, though I am FAR from perfect, and too often lazy. Here are some things I would tell you – and would tell my own children – about how to make the most of it. What would you add to this? How do you make the most of your precious time?

1. Get away from the TV. If you’re the “average American” and spending 150+ hours per month in front of the TV, well, that’s just a sad waste of life, in my opinion. You can do a LOT of living in 150 hours a month. Honestly, the same goes if you’re spending 150 hours a month on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Different strokes for different folks, but unless you want them to put your last tweet on your headstone, GET OUT THERE and live IRL, too.

2. If you’re anywhere near the ocean, get up early and watch the sunrise if you’re facing East, and watch the sunset if you’re facing West. For me, few things have as much power to make me feel how beautiful the earth can be. The ocean is a poem waiting to happen.

3. Have children, if you are able, and so inclined, or spend time around children. Children are joy in its purest form. There is no sound on earth better than the laughter of a child. Griffin, if you ever read this, I am speaking absolute truth when I tell you that you are the best thing that ever happened to me. With my husband and two amazing stepdaughters right up there.

4. “Spend less time trying to be perfect, and more time trying to taste good.” A very wise, beautiful friend and messenger named Naila – whom I love and miss terribly – gave me this message when I lived in New York and went to photo school. I haven’t done a great job of heeding it.

5. Take some chances. It’s true what they say, you more often regret the things that you don’t do than the things that you do.

6. Be forgiving. It’s easy to harbor anger towards people who have put barriers in your way and had a negative impact on your life, even your health. To live happy, it is necessary to forgive them.

7. Puppies. Lots and lots of puppies. Particularly of the black labrador variety.

What else? Eat more bacon? Travel the world? What makes you feel as though you are making the most of your life?

What are you putting off? Deal with it

We all have things that we should be dealing with, but aren’t. Distasteful things, that it’s seemingly easier to ignore than to take on…and move on.

My dog died nearly five years ago , and his ashes have been sitting in an unopened box in a closet, waiting for the day when I would make it a priority to take them to his favorite place in the forest. For whatever reason, today, Mother’s Day, I was out riding my bike and I realized that today was the day that I was ready.

So we did it. My husband, son and I drove out to the forest, went for a beautiful hike, and finally, finally laid Gomer to rest. It was, obviously, very sad, and my son cried for a long time. He was super sweet about it, and helped make a little memorial, with rocks representing Gomey’s body. He said it made his heart hurt.

It made all of our hearts hurt, to be sure. Explaining cremation to a child, not so much fun. But now, somehow, I am a little bit…lighter.

Whatever you are putting off, whatever your box in the proverbial closet is, I encourage you to get it out, deal with it, and move on. It feels good.

It’s harder to receive than to give

Yesterday, Christmas Eve, I went to a yoga class at Yama Yoga Studio. One of the highlights (aside from the giant F-bomb that my dear friend Katie Klein dropped in the middle of class, making me laugh hysterically mid-pose) was a reading the fabulous teacher/studio owner Marietta gave on the topic of Receiving. I started thinking about how it’s harder (for me, at least) to receive than to give, when it seems like it “should” be the other way around. A Google search on that thought turned up an article from Martha Beck, Why It’s Harder to Receive Than to Give.

The juiciest tidbit: “The secret is this: no matter what happens, keep your heart open.”

This, my friends, is hard. Extremely hard. Painfully hard. The world, obviously, is not an easy place. So many bad things happen to good people every day that it can be very overwhelming and make it tempting to shut everything out, keep “putting it out there” without necessarily taking the time to take it back in. Even as I left yoga class, and Marietta so warmly offered me a Merry Christmas, I was busy packing my bag, messing with my phone, thinking about what I had to do when I got home. The ability to be in the moment and receive left as quickly as it came and as a result I gave a halfhearted Merry Christmas in return. Weak receiving leads to weak giving, which is part of the problem with it. It also leads to a chronic, vague sense of dissatisfaction.

So, going forward, I’m trying to get better at receiving. To, when someone says “you’re awesome” stop and believe it for just a second instead of dismissing it. To really soak it in like a big fat sponge of all the goodness in life. Yes, I said be a big fat sponge; there is nothing “wrong” with that, as long as you are giving, too.

Of course, it must be said that there are some people who have such strong spirits and are such powerful givers that it is next to impossible to not receive from them. One of these is the aforementioned Katie. Another, Sara Santiago, literally makes me overflow with emotion pretty much every time I see her. The goal is to react that way more often, with more people, whether it’s laughter, tears, whatever.

What’s harder for you? Receiving or giving?

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