About Me

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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The thing about presence

The past few days were spectacular. Spectacular because I got to immerse myself in a great deal of natural beauty, and surround myself with incredible new friends.

I started the weekend off with Friday evening devotions at the home of some close friends. Many of the writings we read at our devotions this week were about forgiveness, and how, when someone offends us, we must immediately forgive them. I find this to be a challenging one, and we had a great discussion about forgiveness in our everyday lives, which gave me a lot to reflect on and practice over the next week.

After devotions we had a great BBQ prepared by the parents' of the hostess, who were visiting from Puerto Rico. I have never met anyone from Puerto Rico before, and being such an island enthusiast, I was interested to hear all about the island, and what life is like there. It is interesting to me that no matter where an island is in the world, certain themes run like a current through all islands and island cultures. Like what? Like the high rate of unemployment. The high rate of emigration. A strong sense of community and family. The lower salaries than on mainlands. I have never felt much at home in the country I was born in, but then I have never been to islands that are considered part of the US, and I have always been curious if I would feel more at home if I were living on a US island territory.

Saturday morning began early with a free yoga class with Yoga Aross America, at McKinley Park. Yoga Across America is trying to make yoga accessible for communities all over the United States free of charge. It is a great initiative started by Gina Garcia. This weekend we had live music, provided by Alma Desnuda, which created an inspiring and uplifting atmosphere for the 268 folks that turned up to practice yoga on Saturday.

There was a lovely breeze. The music slowed and picked up tempo based on what we were doing. The birds were chirping away, and it was just an ideal way to practice. At the end of class the band played a number of extra tunes, and some woman even served homemade granola in cups to anyone who wanted some.

On Sunday morning some friends and I cycled over to Orphan for brunch, followed by a bike ride out to see a home that one of my friends has just made an offer on. The bike ride took us out along the river, over a bridge, and along the levee. The river was deep blue. The trees arched over us, and the path stretched out endlessly ahead. We made it to the house in about 45 minutes and sat down on the back porch to enjoy the view of a man-made lake, complete with fountain, and a lovely cool breeze. As we prepared to leave, I discovered that my bike had had a rather nasty encounter with some thorns, and had two very flat tires, which refused to re-inflate, even for a short distance. Two of my friends decided to ride back into town to get their car, and then come back and pick myself and my friend Meredith, who kindly offered to stay with me, up. Meredith and I decided to walk to the nearest Starbucks to get out of the heat, so we took off along the scorching roadway, pushing my flailing bicycle alongside us. We had made it to the Starbucks and sat down with our cold drinks when we received a call from our friends who were supposed to be coming to get us: one of them had two flat tires also, so they were walking to a bike shop to get the tires mended.

Long story short: if you want to take a short bike expedition, stay on the paved trails. Apparently sliding down the side of the levee to get to the house we were going to check out was where we picked up the thorns. We did finally get picked up, and went to grab Mexican takeout and then head to the park for a picnic with a bunch of friends who had been patiently waiting around for us to make it back into town! We spent the evening relaxing on the grass, playing bocce (my Italian grandfather would have been well-pleased!), munching on tacos, and eventually heading off to Gunthers, one of the most well-known local ice-cream joints, to end the day.

I got home last night feeling truly happy, and realizing that I had been so immersed in what I was doing that I had not stopped to think about any other place all day long. This blog is all about presence, and what I realized yesterday is that it is when I actually stop thinking so much about presence and absence, and just enjoy where I am, what I am doing, and the people who I am spending time with that I am most fully here. The thing about presence, it seems, is that it seems to arrive unexpected when we stop thinking and analyzing so much and just get on with life with everything we've got to give. You knew that already, didn't you? Just think how much time you would have saved me if you had just commented on my first entry, way back when. Maybe it's time for a blog title change? ;-)

Speaking of enjoying where I am, in my last entry I talked about the farm I volunteer on, Soil Born, and how gorgeous our youth garden is looking. I had meant to upload some photos, but I had a small accident with my camera a few weeks ago when I was frolicking through the crashing waves of the Pacific, and so I had to borrow a friend's camera to take photos of our garden, and was waiting for him to send me some of the shots so that I could share them with you. He kindly emailed those to me this weekend, so I present to you our colourful youth garden:


Happy Monday evening, people! And have a great Tuesday!


  1. Yes, I agree Ariana,
    we truly live when we least expect it. Then we go back to recapture the moment to put it into words. But first thing is first...:-)

  2. love the photos of the garden! you are a beautiful presence in the world of humanity :)