Beauty is forever.

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Yesterday I received a gorgeous anklet from a woman I met during yoga teacher training. Creating one of a kind anklets, necklaces and such is an artistic endeavor that grew into a small business she runs with her mother.

They take commissions, have an online store and do parties locally. During the training, she took orders from many of our classmates and I watched from a distance as a brisk trade in yoga inspired anklets exploded.

Towards the end of the training, I admired one of her creations and she asked, “Would you like me to make you one?”

And I did. Though I hadn’t asked her earlier because of an internal debate I had about the frivolous non-essentialness of such a thing. But I thought, why not? A graduation present to myself in the form of a tangible memory. Like a class ring.

When I mentioned paying her later on however, she shrugged it off. It was a gift.

Which reminded me of my college chum, Leslie.

She is an artist, and when we visited her in the spring, she gave me a wrap that she’d designed and sewn. She sells them at craft fairs and online. They are one of a kinds as well.

How lucky am I that people give me things that are rare and beautiful?

During the Friday opening of our yoga training weekends, Cat always asks us if anything is new.

The reason for this is twofold. First to discover who might not be physically up to the long daily practices. This last weekend our longest practice on the Sunday ran a bit past 3 hours and the shortest on Saturday was just two.

The second reason is to discover if anything is new in other areas of our lives as yoga is about the spirit and mind as well as the body.

I’d been in a small amount of agony all week. My back muscles were in a literal twist due to smoke intermittmently choking the air in our hamlet. An atv had set off a forest fire about 30 minutes north of us and the wind carried the char as far as the city to our southwest. Bad asthma days have the potential to bind me physically as well as clog my airways.

I kept that to myself though. I was determined to practice. I have practiced every day now for a bit over a month. Even on my worst days last week, I crawled onto my mat and did something.

As Cat surveyed the room, yoga face greeted her but no one volunteered until Rie spoke up.

Rie is different, as my daughter would say. I find her a bit tiring. She talks almost non-stop when not engaged in the actual asana practice  and she is someone who has done that, been there and likes to share.

A former body-builder and self-made business woman of considerable means, she’s trained in India and I think I could appreciate her knowledge base more if she wasn’t prone to talking over people or interrupting. Not that I think she does this maliciously or dismissively. She’s just really excited and enthusiastic. All the time.

“I’ve got something to share,” she piped up. “I’ve been remembering my past lives. It’s so cool. I’m realizing that I know or have been meeting people I’ve known before in other existences.”


Cat’s face freezes in a half-smile and wide eyes that seem to be begging anyone to respond so she doesn’t have to.

Fortunately, Rie doesn’t seem to need or expect a response and the class continues as Cat quickly leads us into opening meditation.

Past lives. I have covered this a bit here and there. I don’t believe in soul mates. That, in my opinion, is a modern invention that has led us to the current level of dissatisfied dysfunction in relationship terms in our society. The idea that a world that has billions of souls on it at every given time can mathematically produce only one match person is ludicrous.

For a while, I preferred “kindred spirits” because even though I think soul mates is a very junior high/Romeo and Juliet thing, I can’t quite dismiss the idea that sometimes you meet someone and you simply click – without preamble or any discernible cause for doing so.

I read a few books that Rob has that talked about the idea that we travel through our earthly existences in groups that reconfigure with each pass and it felt “right” to me. The book called these compatriots a “soul group” and discussed how each of us comes into life with an outline of who we should strive to connect with and what tasks we have to do and what personal issues we need to improve upon.

As I thought about Rie’s revelation, it occurred to me why I have felt so isolated for most of my life – I am going it pretty much alone in this existence. I rarely meet people and feel a connection. Mostly I feel cut off and out-of-place as though I am not normally “here” but should be somewhere else on the globe and hanging with a different crowd.

Canada is one of the few places I have been that didn’t feel foreign. New York City was another place to which I didn’t get that “brand new” feel. I feel comfy in the mountains and at home in/on the water – any kind of water. Victoria felt familiar, which isn’t odd because like NYC, it is coastal.

Not many people feel comfy. I have to learn people and often I am not driven to do so because – and this is just a guess – most of the people I’ve met over the course of my life aren’t part of my outline.

Will was someone I’ve known – though I don’t think we’d ever been married before or even romantic partners. His illness and death were part of my outline – tasks for me and somehow I owed him this.

My mother is/was a task. I was meant to be around for her and I think for one of my nieces and nephews too.

I was supposed to teach in Des Moines. 1987 was a horrid year for new teachers. Jobs were scarce, but I’d turned down two just to wait on a the promise of a job I’d gotten from Jerry Wadden, the English Supervisor of the Des Moines Public Schools. It was a crazy thing to do and yet, I felt it was the right thing. What I was supposed to do.

There were a lot of children who passed in and out of my classroom in the first ten years for sure whose lives I know I changed. Kids who’d never had a good school experience and thought they were stupid or bad, and I made the difference for them.

It was a wearying and lonely time for me though. Draining and I didn’t have the understanding of my purpose then that I do now, so I wasn’t as sanguine as I could have been about it.

Sis, BFF and probably Leslie are among the handful of “souls” I felt instant connection with but they are not part of my inner circle or path but perhaps orbited me a bit to shore my spirit up. I don’t think I am quite evolved enough to go it completely alone.

On Sunday, as I entered a discussion on past lives with a few others from the class, I had the revelation. In some lives we are one of the main characters and in others we are supporting cast.

This is my support life.

There are a few spirits who cross my path in order to pick me up a bit and there are time periods where I am allowed to shine, but mostly, I am behind the scenes.

Dee once told me – she was maybe three years old – that she chose me to be her mom again because she liked me so much the first time.

“This is the second time you’ve been my mom,” she said.

Dee is kinda to me what I was to my mother. Support. I strive though to not lean on her the way my mother did me. Despite it being my “job”, it was unnecessarily damaging and more than I should have been expected to do given how young I was when it began.

It’s one of the reasons that I was so open to the idea of remarriage. I really didn’t want Dee to ever feel responsible for me and she couldn’t avoid that if I were her only living parent.

Rob is a known. I have always felt as though we’ve known each other forever but that we’ve been separated for an inordinately long time of late.

“Maybe we only seek each other out now for respite and revitalization,” I told him the other night. “Perhaps we are workhorse souls for the time being and we only occasionally get to fulfill our hearts desires. We are like a holiday.”

Our maybe he is my holiday and I am his responsibility?

“Do you think though that we don’t pick up new soul partners as we travel?” Someone asked during that Sunday conversation.

I think we do. But I also think that some souls are part of our “natal” experiences and that anyone we pick up after will never be quite like that experience or have the same level of knowing for us.

Dee occasionally expresses her concern about my lack of companionship in terms of friendships. I sometimes wonder if this shouldn’t bother me more as well but it bothers me less and less really as time passes and I grow older. I am okay with the transient and proximal nature of my acquaintances and friends. People come and go and, probably, will again.

I was asked to read and review Jeffrey Zaslow’s best-selling book, The Girls from Ames because I grew up in Iowa. Ames is in Iowa. It’s near dead center of the state, about an hour from the city of Des Moines, where I lived for twenty years, and the home of my late husband’s alma mater – Iowa State University.

Ames is also the site of Mary Greeley hospital where Dee was conceived in a petri dish and where many of the Ames Girls were born. Of course, they were born, grown and mothers, most of them, long before I ever needed to venture to Ames.

Lisa, of TLC Book Tours, thought I might have a unique perspective on this quasi-memoir that follows the friendship of a group of girls from near infancy to middle-age. Well, I am middle-aged and from Iowa. I also was a child in the 1960’s and a teen in the mid to late 1970’s. Like the women in the book, I navigated the murky career, relationship and social waters of the 1980’s when much was expected and little was offered by way of advice from those who came just before us.

And I found myself nodding a lot because many of the girls reminded me of girls I knew and of situations that were (and still are) common when growing up female in North America.

But the Ames girls were people I would have known of but not been friends with myself. They were – as my seven-year old would say – “a clique” and a fairly exclusive one at that. Pretty, popular, financially privileged, they moved in circles that were off-limits and invitation only. Unless you were a girl like that yourself, your knowledge was based on rumors and hearsay, so it was interesting to know that they angsted like the rest of us and were unsure and actually got into trouble when they deserved to.

Zaslow discovered the Ames girls via a column he writes for The Wall Street Journal. He spent time with them and writes their memoir in a one girl at a time style that manages to chronicle all eleven of the women through to their mid-40’s. I could have done without his commentary or the tidbits he throws in about studies on this or that girl or woman issue because the stories themselves are much more interesting, and women in general don’t need to be told what our issues are.

The book is 360 pages with an updated Afterword, but is a quick, engaging read.

Below is a list of other reviews, you might want to check out or you could check out an earlier sneak peek review I wrote in March, and you can read an excerpt here.

Jeffrey Zaslow’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Wednesday, April 14th: Simply Stacie

Thursday, April 15th: Silver and Grace

Friday, April 16th: Chaotic Compendiums

Monday, April 19th: Rundpinne

Tuesday, April 20th: Luxury Reading

Wednesday, April 21st: Book Nook Club

Thursday, April 22nd: Suko’s Notebook

Monday, April 26th: Feminist Review

Tuesday, April 27th: Beth’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, April 28th: Bookworm with a View

Thursday, April 29th: She Reads and Reads

Friday, April 30th: Book Blab

Monday, May 3rd: Cafe of Dreams

Tuesday, May 4th: Janel’s Jumble

Wednesday, May 5th: Anniegirl1138

Thursday, May 6th: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, May 10th: One Person’s Journey Through a World of Books

Tuesday, May 11th: Life in the Thumb

Wednesday, May 12th: lit*chick