There Are No Ordinary Moments

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So, I was snorkeling in Mexico the other day…

Okay, it was last month, but I wish it was the other day. Hell, I wish it was today for that matter.

Anyway, I was snorkeling in shallow water, right off the beach of our hotel. Just floating there, letting the waves and currents take me, observing.

I had been out for a couple of hours kind of deliberately snorkeling; swimming around looking for stuff. And I had seen some pretty amazing things (I’m a Pisces, so this was like letting a kid loose in a toy store….aka my idea of heaven).

There were rays, jacks, some pretty stinkin’ big french angel fish, beautiful blue tang, cute polka-dot trunkfish, stunning brightly colored basslet fairies, parrot fish (I love their comical bucked looking teeth) and these little yellow and black bastards that were kind of aggressive and thought my hair & parts of my bikini (and once my upper arm – ouch!) were edible…I have no idea what they area called, but they seemed to be everywhere.

I saw a spotted moray, an ocean triggerfish and got closer than I would have liked to a barracuda almost as long as I am tall who was doing an excellent job of blending into his surroundings. I can sum that up for you in three words – holy shit, TEETH!

I even chased a puffer fish well out past the buoy marker for where the reef dropped off, in a vain attempt to get it to “puff”. Turns out they swim a lot faster than me and will flee rather than puff if they can. Bummer. That’ll teach me to believe Finding Nemo.

Did I mention this took place in waist deep water, only a few yards from our hotel balcony? Yeah.

I was positively elated from all of the fantastic sea life I had seen and frankly feeling quite spoiled by the splendor.

I was getting a little tired, sort of hungry and I totally had to pee, but I couldn’t tear myself away. This is when I started to just let myself drift around. Conserve energy and that sort of thing. Maybe even convince my bladder to shut up.

It was pretty shallow. Floating there I initially saw nothing but some rusty colored seaweed, rocks, flotsam. Lots of beiges and browns…no gloriously colored things like I had been seeing.

“There is nothing here”. I thought, and I was just about to turn back to the deeper water and find a different area to explore.

“No, I know better than this…there is always something going on”, I reminded myself, and I stilled my mind, let go of my expectations and floated.

Then I saw him. A teeny, tiny squid. He (for some reason I have decided it was a he) was only about 2″ long. The size of my pinky.

If he hadn’t been moving, I never would have spotted him. He was translucent with these rust colored blotches that kept pulsating, changing and moving. His camouflage was flawless in the bland seaweed.

I was transfixed. I have kind of a thing for squid and cuttlefish (and calamari, but I didn’t mention that to this little guy) and I resolved that I would watch him until I pruned beyond all recognition.

He propelled himself along under me. Every now and then he would shoot out his two longer tentacles, catch a miniscule bit of…something I couldn’t see, and eat it.

A few times as he was jetting merrily on his way, he stopped and struck this pose that made him look like a scary, squiddy claw. His coloring would turn on full blast so that he looked as big as possible. When I glanced in the direction of his defensive posture, I would see a large fish cruising by.

He was a perfect miniature of reef squids I had seen in aquariums or on TV. Right in front of my eyes. In real life.

Two inches long and this little creature was fearless. He hunted. He protected himself. He instinctively adapted constantly to what was going on around him. He flowed gracefully through his world.

As I observed him I realized some of the biggest life lessons can present themselves to you in the most seemingly insignificant of places.

I kid you not when I say that he was one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen. I still think about the experience and smile. Floating above what I thought was nothing but some boring seaweed and – boom – into my life squirts a tiny cephalopod buddha.

And I easily could have missed it. I took a sweeping view and nothing flashy caught my eye, so I almost moved on.

Only by releasing my expectations and focusing willfully on that moment was I able to see him there, in all his diminutive glory. I got a glimpse into the microcosm and IT. WAS. BREATHTAKING.

Something amazing is always happening. There is always something going on.

Stop. Breathe. Be open to even the tiniest of miracles. Each and every moment really is extraordinary.

Be happy in this moment my friends, you just may find it holds exactly what you need.

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A Spirit of Gratitude

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What do you think about when the end of November rolls around?  Do you think of food, football, a couple days off from work, preparing to shop ‘till you drop?

Do you give any thought to what it means to actually be, you know, thankful? Not just when it comes to your pre-meal ‘round the table recounting of what rolled your socks up and down this year. And, if you do (good for you by the way), do you give thought to the abundance in your life on any other days of the year, or just before you dive into your turkey and stuffing?

What do you suppose it means to cultivate a grateful spirit?

Personally, I’m not a “holiday” type. I believe every day of life is a blessed event and ripe with reasons to be filled to overflowing with appreciation, peace and love. I don’t need a calendar to tell me when to give thanks, to foster peacefulness or to show the people I surround myself with that I love them.

A lot of you probably clicked off this site when you read that statement, which is of course your right. I’m not a traditional viewpoint, status quo maintaining type either. Then again, the title and tagline of this blog should have been an indicator of that ; )

For those  who stayed, I submit to you a story I heard the other night for the first time, and it got my little blonde brain thinking. It is a Zen sutra, and it goes something like this:

A Zen Master, who is out walking one day, is confronted by a ferocious, tiger. He slowly backs away from the animal, only to find that he is trapped at the edge of a high cliff; the tiger snarls with hunger, and pursues the Master. His only hope of escape is to suspend himself over the abyss by holding onto a vine that grows at its edge. Trembling, the man looks down to to see that, far below, another tiger is circling, waiting to eat him. As the Master dangles from the cliff, two mice – one white and one black – begin to gnaw on the vine he is clutching. If he climbs back up, the tiger at the edge of the cliff will surely devour him, if he stays then there is the certain death of a long fall to the waiting tiger below. The slender vine begins to give way, and death is imminent. Just then, the precariously suspended Zen Master notices a lovely ripe wild strawberry growing along the cliff’s edge. He plucks the succulent berry and pops it into his mouth.

He never before realized how sweet a strawberry could taste”.

You can delve as deep as you’d like into the metaphors of this story, and many far more wise than I, already have.

Is the tiger at the top that chased the Master to the cliff the Past? The cliff itself the Journey of Life? The circling tiger below the eventuality of Death? And are the white and black mice gnawing at the vine the relentless passing of Time? Is the strawberry the Present Moment?

I don’t know, for I am no Zen Master; I am but a mere loud-mouthed, feisty blonde, compelled to share with you lessons learned along the journey of my own path.

I’m a simple girl. Here’s what I come away with…life is full of tigers and life is full of strawberries. The one you choose to focus on is up to you. You can feed the tigers or you can let the strawberries feed you.

I’ve been chased by my share of tigers. I’m sure you have too. Even though those times may vex you and test your mettle, don’t you always feel like you come to the other side of them a stronger, more refined and empowered version of yourself?

It has been the most trying moments of my life that have molded me into the woman I am today. The woman who finally believes what she has to say is worth putting out into the world.  Whether or not anyone else does. Whether or not another living soul ever reads a single word I write.

That realization is my strawberry. But I never would have had the courage to pluck it if it weren’t for the hungry tigers.

Though it’s not the point of the parable, I would like to put out there for your consideration, since we’re talking about gratitude here, that both the tigers and the strawberries are worth giving thanks for.

Each and every day is chock full of things to be grateful for. Each and every moment  is.

They need not be big things…some of the most precious things in life are small. So tiny that, unless you are paying attention, they may slip by you un-noticed.

We need only be open to them, and magical things are all around us. Things worthy of our humble gratitude. But you’ve got to do more than look. You must be willing to see them. There are probably more strawberries around you than you’ve realized.

Don’t believe me? Just stop for a moment, take a breath and be still.

Be present.  See them?

And hey, if for whatever reason, all you choose to see are tigers right now? Remember…they are gifts too. They will give up their power to you, if you only turn and face them.

Be grateful.   For all of it. Appreciate each day. Imagine how fantastic every day…not just the 4th Thursday in November…would feel if you decided to be grateful for whatever life brought you.

You can be pissy about the tigers chasing you, or you can set your jaw, know you can face them with courage & dignity and get psyched that you’ll be coming out the other side a stronger person.

You can assert that you’re too busy to bother luxuriating in the succulence of strawberries; what difference will they make in the big picture after all?

Imma let you in on a little secret: there is no big picture. There is only this moment. So get to  savoring it.

Right here, right now, you have the power to change the way you think; you can decide how you navigate this world.

Be deliberate about focusing on the blessings. Find them everywhere around you. If you can’t, then determine to be one who creates them.

Choose to maintain a spirit of gratitude…every single day…and you may soon realize like never before, how sweet life can be.

Hello world!

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Welcome to the Acerbic Blonde! I’m so glad we’ve found each other!

I’ve been writing for a long time, for myself mostly, as a sort of running stream of consciousness. What I’ve taken public has usually been under a pseudonym. Not everyone digs my piquant nature, you see.

But you know what? In my real life, it seems like I’m always having these cool, interesting, inspiring conversations with people. Sharing life experiences.  Making connections. Sure, I piss people off now and then…but what fun would life be if everyone was the same?

Not much if you ask me. Wouldn’t be much reason to get out of bed if there wasn’t something new to learn, different territory to explore, dark places to shine light into, shit to confront.

Just the other day someone I had just met, after a very contemplative back-and-forth about whether or not dreams about loved ones who have passed actually mean anything, said to me, “You know, you have great stories. You should totally do a blog.”

And I went home and thought, “Huh…she’s not the first person who’s said that. Maybe she’s right. Maybe it’s time.”

Et voila! Acerbic blonde was born.

So enjoy…or don’t and move along. It’s all the same to me. The stories are the stories, no matter who likes them & who doesn’t.

Sometimes you’ve just gotta write.