Arizona Bound

I started out the day with a delicious breakfast. I’m so happy when my cooler is stocked and I don’t have to resort to skipping meals or eating crap. I had a bowl of quinoa with a handful of almonds, a handful of blueberries, lots of cinnamon and a 1/4 cup of coconut milk.

I had planned, many times to cook the stuff that I bought at the store, so I’d have cooked food on the road. But I was being so social that I never got around to it. Today was my very last chance, so I had to decide not to go to the Creating a Sacred Livelihood session of Kelle Rae Oien’s White Belt training.

I did the laundry, cooked up some food and cleaned up the apartment to erase any evidence that I was staying there. I was on perfect time as my last dish came out of the oven, with just enough time to shower while it cooled before putting it in the cooler. 

I was making a few trips to the car with my luggage. On the first trip, I could hear River barking from inside, all the way from the parking lot. So when I came back, I let him know I didn’t approve of his barking. I waiting outside the door until he barked again, and I burst in, mid bark saying “Shhhh! No bark! No bark! Lie down!’ he did. “Good Boy,” I said. Then I told him, ‘Now look, I”m going out to the car again, but I’m going to be right back. So I want no barking or bad behavior. I’ll be right back.” And I took another armful of bags to the car. When I got back, I didn’t hear any barking, but when I reached for the door handle, I learned that I had inadvertently locked the door; with me on the outside and River on the inside. 

I cussed a few times and then I remembered that River could hear me, so I changed my tune to “It’s OK, River. I’m here and you’re OK. Good boy!” He was being quiet. I was silently panicking. Fortunately I had my phone so I called my host, Michael at work to ask if he had a spare key hidden somewhere, but I got his voicemail.

I called Mark at StudioNia, because I was expected to show up for his noon Nia class in fifteen minutes. After talking to him, he calmed me a little bit. He has a naturally calm nature, and it was comforting just to talk to him.

I realized that River was fine inside there. He had air conditioning and a bowl of water and he was familiar with the place. I thought maybe Michael didn’t have his phone with him at work, or had it turned off, and I didn’t want to sit there, helpless, and also miss Mark’s Nia class. I knew that doing a Nia class would be the perfect thing for me to release all of the emotion that was coming up.

I went to the studio and had an emotional roller coaster ride as Mark took us through the Awake routine. I used the martial arts moments to express my anger at myself. I let the sensual movements touch me in ways that released sobs of panic, worry and guilt at not being a responsible human. I even attempted a couple of times to send River a telepathic message that he was fine and I loved him and I would be back as soon as possible. I was laughing, grunting and crying and skipping around singing “La la la la” and receiving messages from the music, from Mark’s pearls and from my own spirit, that I was OK and River was OK. By the end of the class I was in a beautiful, loving, grateful, beginner’s mind. Exactly what I needed.

I checked my phone and found three voicemails and four texts from Michael, who had since made it home and was waiting there with River. I rushed back and felt so bad for making Michael come home from work and for abandoning River. But all was well. Michael doesn’t hold grudges and once River ‘chewed me out’ for a couple of minutes, we were fine. Michael said he didn’t ‘chew him out’ at all, he just sat there and whimpered until I got back.

This ‘chewing out’ I speak of is actually an outcropping of a game we play called Push. I learned this game from a dog trainer. I hold my palm out and he’s allowed to charge into me, pushing his chest into my hand. While he does that, he can snarl and bare his teeth and bark and snap at me as long as he doesn’t put any teeth on my skin. The trainer said it’s a great way for him to release pent up energy. By giving him this safe outlet, he can control it. He is only allowed to play this game with me. Sometimes a real dog-lover will be riling River up and I can see him starting to push, so I have to step in and stop it. Not because of any danger, but because it can be a terrifying game. Even knowing that it’s a game, I’m sometimes a little bit taken by surprise by his ferocity. But I absolutely love the game and especially that at any time I can say STOP and he immediately stops. Sometimes, when something happens out on our walks and he gets really agitated, he needs to push. I can tell by his body language when he’s got a lot of energy he needs to get out, so I’ll give him the sign and he’ll go for it. I sometimes wonder if the neighbors think I’m training him to kill or if I have an out of control dog,

So, today, he needed to Push, but as is sometimes the case after I’ve been gone for a while, his Push takes on a different quality.  I can hear a difference in his growling/snarling as if he’s letting me know he’s upset by what I did. I get the sense that he’s telling me off. If he could speak he’d be saying, “You told me you’d be right back and you were gone for days. I was scared and I didn’t know what to do. Don’t ever do that again. Do you realize how upset you made me? I would never do anything like this to you, and I expect you to take a bit better care of me in the future!” etc.

This is the second day in a row I’ve left River somewhere to go do Nia. While I don’t intend to make a habit of it, it’s nice to know that we can grow from the experience and become stronger; not die from it.

Michael went back to work. I took a quick shower and finished loading the car and we took off for Arizona.

On the trip, the thermometer fluctuated in the range of 101 to 107 degrees all day. We had the windows up and the A/C on.

The landscape was beautiful, colorful, rock formations in the distance and lots and lots of sand with scrubby bushes in it for miles and miles in all directions.

It struck me that I have been in the desert for days now and I’ve not seen a single cactus.
We stopped at Painted Cliff Rest Area, just by the Arizona border. Right before we got out of the car, Billy Idol was playing on the radio. The song “Eyes Without A Face”, that line where he says, “Hanging out by the state line turning holy water into wine,” was running through my head as we hung out by the state line. The last part wasn’t really relevant, but I was really connecting to that first half as we sat in the shade, taking in all the beauty and sweltering in the dry desert heat.

River, finding shade wherever he can

Hanging Out By the State Line

I was really in danger of letting this whole day become a disastrous nightmare, but thanks to Nia, and Pushing, we both made it through just fine. A little sleepy, but fine.

Flagstaff is only about an hour from here, and I sleep there tomorrow but don’t teach until the following morning as I’m heading out to Las Vegas. So tomorrow we can really take our time and explore the region.  So far, from what I can see from here, there isn't much going on.
The view from our Motel 6 room.


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