Tag Archives: Montana

Democracy at The DMV

Now on G32!

Today I find myself sitting outside DMV office with my number 64, my phone scrolling to let me know when I am within 6 numbers (currently at 32) and can come in, while reading the Heart of Democracy.

There’s a lot of information about my life right now in just that first sentence.

This is not my first two hour wait outside the DMV. Earlier this month I was here because my car tabs got lost and though paid had to come in to get replacement tabs. At some point since that event I lost the registration papers – lost, stolen, tossed out – I don’t know. But gone. So here I am again.

Now I am trying to stay curious about what I might need to know about these happenings. I will say it is creating the most community interaction I have had with people outside my ‘pod’ for awhile.

Since Covid, I go out with close friends and I pick up groceries but don’t stay anywhere long. The DMV offers the biggest variety of people I have engaged with. This trip it is raining so I am mostly staying in my car. But last time I stood outside, socially distant talking about everything from wearing a mask to which is more of a concern covid or our economic stability. I’d say the vote was split on that last one and fortunately everyone either had their mask on or stood talking from a better than six foot distance.

Which brings me to the book, The Heart of Democracy.

I am reading this book because a friend shared a post about the book and the ideas touched me deeply. The idea that the heart of democracy isn’t about left or right, republican or democrat – but about power and a divide between those who believe that power is found within us as well as outside us, and those for whom all power is external to the self.

His ideas so resonate with many of my own. The idea that we need to not be talking about ‘them’ (politicians – people in DC etc.) but talking with the people actually in the room. (Or on Zoom) The idea that this is not left or right – it’s about people and power and how we define and embrace where we believe we have some choice and control and where and when we don’t.

There are those who see his stories of individuals making a difference as just pie-in-the-sky beliefs and those who use the same stories to inspire their own action.

He shares how Occupy Wall Street and The Tea Party are examples of the same shared goal – to make a collective shift against perceived power. Sure you can say these groups are fundamentally different in ideology but in impact and influence – they are very much the same – examples of democracy in action and people making their power known – the power of “We The Power”.

It helps me to see the common elements and the possibilities that lies in seeing even these two efforts having a common purpose – to impact a change.

Why is that so important now?

Because I am anxious, angry, scared and feeling helpless more often than I wish to reveal. Aside from little pockets of conversation outside the DMV and a Zoom call with only people who share my values I am not having having deeper richer conversations that are touching my heart and helping bridge differences. No, what I am mostly seeing and hearing is screaming or fighting or negative ad campaigns. What is usually a time to gather an understanding of why something is so important to someone else and why I might choice to vote for one candidate over another has become a battle ground and mud slinging crazy talk. My heart breaks with this.

Covid makes it hard because normally I would be at an office, engaging in dialogue over dinner after a day with a team of leaders. I would be up at The Haven mixing with a variety of people with different backgrounds and positions. I’d be stuck in an airport or on a plane with someone who was clearly different than me and I could ask – why is that so important to you or what do you think of the potential Supreme court candidate. We may have some strong differences but we’d be there long enough to know something real about each other and maybe even influence each others position before going on our way. Those moment and those conversations would help my heart and faith in humans.

Even these DMV visits help.

It is for me one of the biggest challenges of Covid. Zoom, Teams House Party and Facetime don’t allow for quite the same spontaneous moments. Don’t get me wrong I am very grateful for what technology has offered because I can Zoom with my sisters, Zoom with my mom and friends. I can help I team bridge their differences and have some real conversations virtually. I can support my clients in breathing and getting more in touch with their heartbeats and breath. But I am missing the moments where I can gather in front of the TV watching the debate with strangers and talk about – what was that? Or why isn’t he answering the question? Or what did you get about his/her position on that? And talk.

I miss those moments right now at lot – because I think those moments and conversations are what make for democracy. Democracy is about the power of people and mostly about how WE THE PEOPLE need to be talking, sharing and listening more than just blaming.

I’d love to hear from and if you feel any of the same. If there is a way you are doing this differently – having real conversations and really getting to understanding someone else’s position – tell me about it.

Our Thanksgiving Adventure!

We thought we had the perfect plan.  Every year we have a Canadian client who plans their executive off site the week of our Thanksgiving. We don’t really have a huge issue with this, except the travel part of the equation. Being on the roads or in the air during the week of Thanksgiving is generally not such a great idea. So this year, with the location being in Toronto, I made the plan to stay an extra day and fly home on Thanksgiving day. I figured most folks wanted to be home for the holiday, thus the airports would be less crowded and things would be running smoothly.

The idea was working well coming through customs in Toronto. Our line was short and easy to navigate. Arriving in Minnesota, we had time for a matcha green tea at Starbucks and some snacks before getting to our gate for the last leg of the trip home. Our plans were to have a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with our friends at The Green Tea House.

As we were making our way to the departure gate, we saw the first sign of an issue. The word delayed was parked next to our flight number to Kalispell. We went to the nearest Delta desk to inqure. The answer was discouraging: “Wow, I have no idea what this code means, but the computer says your flight is only 30 minutes delayed”. I never like hearing, “I have no idea what that means.” I’ve heard that before and it generally means trouble.

Once at the gate, we saw that the delay was still showing as only 30 minutes. However, the folks at the desk were whispering amongst themselves, and I had a bad feeling about what might be coming next. Sure enough, the desk folks told us there was a maintenance issue, but that it wasn’t the plane but the gas line from the refueling truck. This should be fixed quickly.

The next sign of further issues came when some folks watching the plane out the window commented on the cloud of smoke coming from the back. At that point, it had been at least forty-five minutes since an update. With the crowd moving to the window, the desk folks made another announcement. This time we learned there was indeed a plane issue, some type of fuel line leak inside the plane. At this point they offered us food vouchers. I think they were hoping most of us would stop looking at the window.

There were various reactions to the news. I was frustrated with the inconsistent information but grateful we were not going to be boarding a smoking plane. Most folks were grumpy but not too upset. One woman started on a major rant about why anyone ever came to Montana and her appreciation for living in New York City. I briefly wanted to encourage her not to visit Montana again after sitting next to her while she complained to everyone she knew on the phone.

The desk team still held out hope for a flight but soon there was the first mention of a possible cancellation. Plus, the flight crew, which had boarded earlier, came off the plane. The pilot assured us the plane was too cold and they were just taking a break for warmth. Truthfully, he seemed nervous about having to inform the crowd of another delay. This really started the flurry of activity. There was only one other option for getting back to Montana that day, and it involved switching to Alaska Airlines and flying through Seattle. As an Alaska Gold member, I thought this, at least, sounded better than a night in Minnesota. So I called the member line to hear my options. The biggest issue was the fact we had already checked our bags. I could book and make the flights, but if we left without the original flight being canceled our bags would become the security risk that grounded the flight. At that moment, I did not care and basically shared this with the Alaska reservation person. She handled this amazingly well and talked me down, assuring me the reservation could wait. Apparently, neither flight was full and even if all fifty folks from this flight shifted, there would be room for everyone. Okay. I quit being so self-involved and came to my senses. I was not going to be the one who grounded a plane even if I was very frustrated with the Delta system.

Time continued to pass and it seemed more folks were opting to switch to the Alaska flight. A few were making this happen through tears and stories of why they had to get home. The New Yorker woman gave an Oscar performance. The tears were not believable to me because I had been sitting next to her and did not believe her sob story about how she had to get to her family. Other stories were much more heartwarming and gut-wrenching. One woman was traveling alone and not only was she missing her family, it was her birthday.

Because I had been sitting next to New Yorker woman I decided I could not let myself become like her. It’s within my abilities, mind you, but I just did not want to become that negative and she was giving me a fantastic mirror of what I can be like when upset. I started finding ways to make it work. We had friends who were tracking our progress and were willing to pick us up at anytime – even the late midnight Alaska flight was okay with them. We had a voucher for food and even though it really only covered another Matcha – that was something. I also booked the Alaska flight just in case, and learned that I would not ground the flight. I also moved away from the New Yorker woman and discovered some friendly folks who had been dealing with much worse circumstances and who were in great spirits. (They were the newly trained ATT Wireless folks coming home after three weeks of training, having already spent an extra night in Memphis. I was inspired by their spirit and loved the fact that this did truly mean Verizon was going have real competition.)

Finally, six hours later, we got the news our flight was going to be canceled. BUT the Delta team had asked for help and Compass Airlines was bringing in a crew and a plane to take us home! The news bought cheers and applause.

The next bit was surprising. We were leaving in less then fifteen minutes and had to leave the C gates rush through the airport to another gate, G7. The Delta desk folks shared with us a short cut and sent us on our way. Basically, there were forty of us running or at least walking very fast most of the way around the airport. Upon arrival at the G gates there was no sign of our flight. The desk folks there checked. There was a mistake. It wasn’t the G gates but the D gates. So off we went again, basically going back the way we came (the D Gates were right next to the C gates). It was somewhat comical.

Other than the Compass Airlines folks, the D gates seemed closed. Instead of the fast departure we had anticipated, we soon learned that going from one airline to another was not that simple. Everyone had to be rechecked in. Plus, there were suddenly all the folks who had made their cases for switching to Alaska who had to be transferred back again. Though no problem for us, the shift was a bit of a computer nightmare for the Delta and Compass folks. In many ways, a comical trip around the airport and the hours of uncertainty had bonded us together. Once on the plane, the Compass crew announced that they too had been called in special, just for our trip and we applauded their efforts.

The flight was smooth. It was clear that the flight crew were not regularly heading into Montana. They had no idea how to pronounce Kalispell (Cowsbells) and assured the passengers that gates agents would assist us upon arrival with any missing baggage. (Anyone who has flown into our airport after 7pm knows that there are no agents at the gate, just one security guard and one baggage person.) Still, they were great and had become part of our drama. Upon touch down, a large cheer went up. Indeed, we were all grateful to be home. (Well, I am not sure about the New Yorker woman, though I did see her with family at the baggage claim and she seemed much happier.)

Though not what we expected, I have no doubt this will be a Thanksgiving we won’t forget. We even made it to The Green Tea House in time for a late evening taste of the wonderful meal which had been saved especially for us. Our friends stayed to keep us company and I knew I had some great blog material. What more could I ask for!!

Let It Snow!!

Last night we got our first significant snow fall.  In truth, it is only 3 to 5 inches, however, there is simply something magical for me when the first snow falls.

As soon as I awaken and let the dogs out, I notice the silence and stillness that comes with the snow.  A blanket of white makes it easy to see outside without the need to flip on the outside light.  The real joy comes watching Bailey and Sooke, initially tiptoeing into the fresh white powder and then sprinting through the yard.  Bailey is especially cute in that he still attempts to catch the falling snowflakes with mid-air leaps while lunging in a somewhat forward direction. He usually ends up flopped over and covered in powder.  Not really a fan of the wet and cold, he is quick to jump up and shake it off.  That alone generates a giggle, igniting my own desire to find my snow boots and gloves so that I can join the party.

Bailey enjoying our First 2010 snow fall

Then there is the work side of the snow.  Our driveway is not really snow friendly.  I wasn’t nearly as neurotic this year about getting our snow tires on the car. As a result, only one of the cars ready for snow.  And the other, the VW Bug, is now sitting in a Les Schwab parking lot full of other cars waiting for their winter tires to be put on.  Here in Whitefish, Les Schwab seems a bit like the CPA’s office in April, with a major rush of activity during the first snowfall. I imagine that is when they make their big bucks.

I am still new to living with a true winter season.  I am still thrilled with the falling snow and don’t fully grasp the reality of having snow on the ground for the next four or five months.  By March I will probably be jaded and sick of the snow.  But today I will just let myself enjoy the silence, the stillness, and the beauty of Montana with it’s first few inches of snow, fully accepting the coming of winter and all that it offers.  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Simple Moments Of Joy

It’s a gorgeous day here in Montana: blue skies, sunny, and the mountains snowcapped and magical. I know we need more snow and I know all of the reasons this spring-like weather might mean a very difficult summer. However, I can not help but enjoy the moment! It is days like today that make it clear why I love living here!

So the Olympic Games are over and what a wonderful ending. The hockey game was perfect—played hard right to the final second and beyond, with Canada celebrating and laughing at themselves. In the end, the own the podiumseemed to have worked; at least in terms of gold medals and specially in terms of the hockey gold!

What’s next? As I mentioned before, Montana is sunny and warm. Bailey seems to have gotten kennel cough, so I am keeping him away from other dogs. CrisMarie is under the weather as well. I have a bunch of projects that should draw my attention. But for now I am happily sitting in The Green Tea House, blogging.

There are many things I could be worried about. I realize the future can hold some scarey prospects. I am not really one to focus on the negative; I am also not one that lives by affirmations or always looking on the bright side. However, when I consider the future, and have to decide if I want to believe in, a doomsday scenario or something else, well—I pick something else.

I have no idea what will happen in 2012, or any year for that matter, other than this one. The best I can do is fully commit to this moment and make the best choices I can for myself, others, and the planet.

I feel fortunate to have learned somewhere along my path how to fully embody joy. I have these moments when I just vibrate with life. Today, the Montana magic inspires that joyful resonance in me; Sometimes it a simple moment with CrisMarie. My heart is open and I am deeply in touch with loving my life. It is really the simple things that provide the greatest joy: a song, a touch, a taste, a smell or a gorgeous day. Indeed, the senses do heighten my joy meter.

I watch folks struggle with the state of their lives: not having the job they need, the partner they want, the health they have thought would be a given or the opportunities they see others getting. It’s easy to get caught up in any one of those situations at some point in the day or week or month. I can spend many hours, days or weeks trying to change the bigger picture, totally forgetting the simple little moments.

Yet I have learned to tap into some little sensory moment that will wake me back up. It starts by taking a deep breath and becoming aware; aware of what I am doing and aware of how I am separating. Suddenly that choice is highlighted and I usually get it. Take the moment, feel the joy, and let that simple little reflection of all that is possible help me re-member; meaning becoming a member of the whole. When I touch that whole-ness, either inside me or all around me, I do, for a moment, resonate with oneness, the source—whatever you want to call that which is so much more then me.  That nano second of contact is enough juice to alter my cells.

That simple little moment is magical. Today I am very in-touch with the joy. Maybe later I’ll lose it, but for now I am soaking it in.  Tomorrow just seems okay from here and now! Maybe that is just as it should be.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

How to decide – to tweet or not to tweet? to join Linkin or Plaxo? Facebook or Myspace? These are the questions that are running through my mind.

Now that I am blogging, I can not help but want to take the next step and link myself further into the world, wide web. Yet I find myself overwhelmed with the choices. Plus I admit I am in fear of becoming someone who sits in front of my computer screen all day commenting, posting, tweeting and networking without ever getting out of the house.

This possibility of becoming totally connected and feeling responsible to reply or tweet whatever and wherever is intimidating.

Just a little over a year ago I moved to Montana to get away from the big city and enjoy open space, big sky and life in a ski and summer resort town. I love biking, hiking and just driving through beautiful country. My friends worried that I might become a gun carrying hunter who smokes and votes conservatively. I had no worries of anything like that. But I never thought the real concern would come from becoming too linked into to the internet.

I’m not there yet but I can feel the pull. The plugins call to me whenever I login to my dashboard in see that indeed my blog could be linked to more tags and search engines if I comment, post and tweet throughout the day.

I am a slight introvert so the pull to be able to remain here in the comfort of my own home and reach out and touch the world is tempting. But so is the sunshine and so far getting on my bike is more appealing then creating a Facebook page. But fall is coming and winters in Montana are an easy invitation to stay, sitting by the fire, plugged in to the web for contact and connection.

Yes I will have to make the leap. Tweet and post, comment and link but for now the open space of Montana still wins out over the world, wide web, face to face contact with people who’s names I recognize beats nicknames and RSS feed for communing and socializing.

But I see the day coming …. what will I decide…. to Tweet or not to tweet?

The Green Tea House Opens!!

Today is the first official day that The Green Tea House (TGTH) in Whitefish, MT is open for business.   TGTH is not my business though I am very excited and engaged in making it a success.  My friend, Vickie Kelson, had the inspiration for TGTH over ten years ago.  Last year she really started raising cash and breaking ground.  Over this past year there have many, many reasons why TGTH was not practical or viable.  TGTH is a gluten-free, organic, vegan cafe and tea house in the center of Whitefish, MT.  Nothing about the place is cheap or inexpensive.  In the current economy it is not looking like the best time for such an endeavor.  However, the opening day is proving that it is worth holding on to a dream even when the winds of resistance and frequent storms and obstacles get in the way of manifestation.

TGTH, is bright and colorful, the food is wonderful and I do believe it will inspire even the dieheart meateater to try a few vegan meals.  For anyone who has discovered the importance of taking in healthy food that nurtures the soul,  TGTH will be a naturally sweet surprise in a world too focused on fast-food, refined sugar, carbs and red meat.  For me it is the energy of a dream that I tap into whenever I come through the doors.

As I sit here today with the doors open and folks coming in for tea, I actually believe I will write my book.  I may just do it sitting here.  The place is alive with excitement.  Of course there are still many bridges to cross before The Green Tea House is solidly on it’s financial legs.  That the doors are open is a miracle and reminder that we do live in a world of unlimited possibilities.  I want to celebrate and spread the word – miracles happen when someone has the inspiration and courage to dream and stay with the dream through the storms that come with bringing a new idea to life. Way to go Vickie and all who have been a part of making The Green Tea House possible!!!

If you are interested in learning more or even in offering financial support to The Green Tea House you can find out more at www.thegreenteahouse.net.

Of course what I most highly recommend is stop by for tea!!