Integration

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As filled with chaos as my life has been this year…the sorrow, grief, loss, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and frustration…the one thing I always knew for certain was that something wonderful was taking place. I had no idea what the outcome would be…I still can’t say with certainty what the outcome will be. But, I’ve always known that life as I’ve previously known it was saying good-bye.

One amazing side effect of all of these shifts and changes in my life is that of integration. All of the pieces of myself that I’ve left in various places, with different people, kept hidden from certain groups of people…all of those pieces no longer wish to be separated or differentiated. It is time for all of them to come together in a unified human. Not in the old ways as the pieces once fit together, but rather, in a new unknown configuration. As each little piece falls into its perfect place, I watch in awe and amazement…acutely aware that some greater force is undoubtedly orchestrating this entire metamorphosistic process.

Last night, I realized that this blog is also asking for integration. I spent many hours trying to figure out how to keep this blog as it is…I like the safety…the anonymity…the premise…the wee collection of posts. Was I really ready to reveal myself to the world and let the world fully embrace all that I have to say and share with the world? The more I contemplated this, the more it became quite clear that despite the twinge of sadness, the answer was yes.

So, this will be my last post on this particular blog…to be continued in a new one that integrates all the different pieces of me in one place. Eventually, I hope to pull all of these posts over to the new blog so that there really is a continuity of experience for those who will need it in the future.

For you who have shared the journey of finding my voice and traversing the cocoon, thank you for your support and  companionship. I hope that, should you feel called to continue with me in this next phase of my life, you will join me at http://gyselagervais.wordpress.com.

With gratitude,
~Gysela

 

A Glockenspiel and Cake

How fun is this?!

I am a planner. I thrive on schedules and budgets and tend to hyperventilate whenever I see a display of organizational tools and new office supplies. I am also a researcher. Whenever I travel, I love researching all the possibilities for exploration in whichever chosen destination as well as studying into the history of a place (a.k.a. colorful citizens and scandalous events). The best part though, is the planning out of the details of the flights and hotels and the restaurants and the tours and then dreaming about it before it even happens. I remember reading about a study researching this phenomenon of planning vacations which apparently proves that my experience is true (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/18/how-vacations-affect-your-happiness/). Like other inalienable rights, I found the study so odd when I read it because it seems like such a redundant and self-evident thing. But, I suppose it never hurts to have a study support one’s neuroses.

Given all this joy and excitement connected to planning, it’s surprising then that I actually went on a trip last week with very little planning…and most of it done in the two days prior to leaving. Amazingly, everything fell together easily, as though I were the center of the Universe. Even with all the planning I’ve done for previous trips, nothing worked this well…even though sometimes I truly believed I was the center of the Universe.

The day after I arrived, I went to visit the department within the university which was the purpose for the trip. I felt a little awkward about it because for the first time, I hadn’t called ahead to make arrangements and set an appointment. Instead, I decided that I would be open to whatever exciting things would unfold during this visit.

When I arrived at the department’s door at the end of the long hallway, I saw the above sign and the child’s version of a glockenspiel and instantly started giggling. I picked up the mallet and proceeded to play whatever came to mind, ending with a minor descending 3rd to call for help. A student magically appeared…I wondered if this wasn’t a genie-like instrument. I introduced myself and explained why I was there and apologized for not calling ahead. She opened the door, motioning me in and exclaimed, “Oh, come on in! Everyone will be so excited to meet you! And, it’s our boss’ birthday today and we’re all eating cake and celebrating!”

I was so surprised at her welcoming invitation, but felt very embarrassed that I’d arrived during such an occasion, so I thanked her for her hospitality and then explained that I didn’t want to intrude and would return another day. She grabbed my hand and insisted on leading me to the back room. She introduced me and everyone there repeated her excited welcome leaving me completely astounded. Someone served me a massive slice of carrot cake (the only cake I like) and then they invited me to also help myself to the table’s contents: homemade enchiladas, Spanish rice, queso panela (yum!), freshly chopped cilantro (excellent!) and green sauce (my favorite!). It was heavenly.

Ninety minutes later, after much laughter, delicious food and excellent conversation, I had signed the boss’ birthday card and made six new friends. Although planning definitely has its perks and can bring much happiness due to anticipation, the adventure and pleasure of such unexpected parties is even better…especially one involving a glockenspiel and cake.

Rainbow Hangover

Jesse Arrington made me smile, then giggle, then laugh. A self-proclaimed “color loving Brooklyn designer,” her passion and free spirit shines through her website “Lucky So and So” (http://luckysoandso.com).

She first introduced herself to me through a TED talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/jessi_arrington_wearing_nothing_new.html) in which she described how when she travels, she makes it a habit to only pack enough underwear for the number of days she plans to be away from home. This certainly got my attention. One set of underwear for each day…carried in a delightfully brightly designed bag that could never be mistaken for another’s while traveling. That’s it. Why? To reduce her carbon imprint, she explains, by never purchasing a new item of clothing (except for underwear)…or worrying about lost luggage.

Upon arrival at her destination, she scours all of the thrift and second-hand stores to procure her new unique looks. These looks, developed for her week in Palm Springs for the TED conference, she proudly displayed in her talk. Once the week at TED was complete, she explained, she planned to do what she always does when traveling: donate all the newly purchased items back to a second-hand shop (minus the underwear…yes, these details are important!), ensuring that others will get to use the items and that her money goes to a good cause.

Intrigued, I went to her blog, Lucky So and So (http://luckysoandso.com/) and discovered even more fabulous outfits that she’s found simply by shopping at thrift stores. I admit, I hate shopping and thrift shopping is the most distasteful of all to me. However, with enough time, money and a good eye, she found impressively fabulous and amazing selections…things that I would wear (I think).

Ultimately, that was what was so inspiring to me…that she was so passionate about prints and colors, she wasn’t afraid to embrace them all without hesitation. I realized how muted and simple my closet is, and I think it might be time to look for some bright colors in some thrifty places…just for fun.

Gates of Paradise

Doorway to Paradise

Doors fascinate and intrigue me. They bespeak the character of the building by being that moment of transition from outward to inward; appearance to functionality. Does the other side of the door reveal the promise that this side portends?

There are those doors that are grandiose, such as Ghiberti‘s doors on a baptistery in Florence. There are those that are more humble, such as the door to Bilbo Baggins‘ home. Then there are those more sturdy wooden doors like those at Castle Chillon or Neuschwanstein. Or, the sole red door surrounded by tan and white in Notting Hill. Each suggests a story…a history…an adventure.

Then, there’s this entrance I came across this weekend. When looking at this exquisite piece of craftsmanship, I feel a bit like Crocodile Dundee brandishing his machete while exclaiming, “THIS is a knife!” Similarly, THIS is a door. Not just the bits that open and shut or the jamb that holds it all together. It is also a magnificent wall that surrounds and presents all the parts of the entrance. I just know that when I stand at THIS door something magical is about to happen. And, should I be fortunate enough to pass through to the other side I would find all my suspicions to be delightfully true.

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