Uma Bode

No Bullshit Here

Been going through hard times the past few days. Within that journey there’s always nuggets of wisdom peeking out from the darkness. Navigating the confusion that arises in my mind is the only way to find the clarity that I seek. Bumping around the dark is required.

I’ve been rather silent here on my blog. The intent has always been to write the insights and the muddiness, to share the vision, to offer what I can to anyone who happens along.

One of my dearest friends, asked me last night if I’ve been writing about everything I’ve been going through. The answer was: “Sort of, no not really. In my journal somewhat each morning.” He has always encouraged me to write my experiences for everyone. To put my journey out on offer. It may be that my willingness to tread deeply into my own interiors, meet the God of my understanding in any locale, truly grow and stretch and change are of value to many.

It thus occurred to me that all I have to do to keep the blog going is to write my morning journal here, tidy it up as needed, and hit the PUBLISH button. Okay. Agreed. I’ll do it.

So, here we are.

It’s hard to know where to start with what’s going on, today. It’s hard to know what exactly to write in a digestible small packet for you. YOU. My reader.

My father was a writer. It’s been in my blood for as long as I have been alive.

And.

I am a spiritual warrior. Nothing fancy, nothing on the outside to call your attention to it. Just another middle aged woman, kind of an old hippie, going about life trying to get by. But inside…

Inside, it’s all about my soul’s journey.

Who you are and what you have experienced will determine how you interpret that statement. So, stay open, my friend.

It is doubly or triply hard to write honestly here and tell my story because so many facets of it feel intensely private and not something I want most people to know. I feel like I have an image that I need to protect in certain parts of my life. For instance, my new real estate business and any of my business personas from jobs past. People I know or have known “professionally” might find this blog. What if they read it? What if they find out my failures and challenges? These things feel like weaknesses and things that I should be protecting, keeping hidden.

After all, isn’t that what we all do? Isn’t that how life proceeds? Choose your image and grow it hard and hide all the other shit in some closet in a back room.

Well, yes. That IS how we usually proceed.

But for whatever reason, if I am completely honest with myself about what my mission is, really, here on Planet Earth, it’s to counteract all that bullshit. It’s to shine a real light on the human journey and do what I can to show a way to complete authenticity. Someone’s got to do it first. If I keep waiting for someone else to make it safe for me to show up as me in all my messy confusion and all my glorious clarity and everything in between…

I’ll probably be dead before I ever share anything of value with you.

And, guess what? That is not acceptable.

So, here goes.

I am in Chapter 13 bankruptcy to try to protect my house and deal with an accumulation of credit card and medical bills. I’ve been in Chapter 13 for 20 months. I’m behind in payments. I got fired, yes, fired, from a job I loved at the end of February. I can’t and won’t talk too much about that because, frankly, I’m legally prohibited from doing so due to a legal settlement. I’m not even sure I’m allowed to say that, but fuck it. It was unexpected, cruelly done by my former employer, awful and painful for me, and it put me through a ringer that I’ve never been through before. In fact, I’m still coming out the other side of it. It set me up for another round of financial ruin as well as an emotional dive so deep I actually called the National Suicide Hotline one night. As you can see, a nice woman on the other end of the phone talked me off the ledge.

However, because in general this is how I roll, I picked myself up off the floor, got to work figuring out what to do, talked a lot with God (and listened even more), started a bunch of new business ventures of my own, commenced legal action against my former employer, got my real estate license and hobbled along.

As of today, none of these are really bringing in much money and all the savings and small legal settlement are gone in trying to get everything started and pay bills and eat. At any point, I could get a real estate client and close a deal and things would even out for at least a while. But, nothing as of yet and it takes at least 6 weeks usually for any deal to close and to get a check. I have one source of income and that is my Airbnb. It brings in between $800-1200 a month.

Oh yeah, before I go further, let me clarify: I am alone. Completely alone in this journey on a daily basis. I have cheerleaders and supporters in friends and family who love me. That is an immense blessing. But, in the little moments of time, I do not have someone I talk to about what is going on, no one to run my ideas by each evening, no one to help me get the car to be serviced, clean the house, make dinner, do the dishes, keep up the yard, or any other damn thing. It’s just me and what I can pay for. (I’m just telling you the facts, ma’am.)

So, now, here I am. Months behind in the bankruptcy payments, looking at a foreclosure action if the BK is dismissed, with about $6k in a IRA and not even $500 in the bank. Trying to come up with possible solutions, to figure out how to play that little bit of money into keeping the house and getting by until things turn around financially.

A couple days ago, it all became more than I could bear and the tears came. They linger just behind my eyelids, a tightness in my throat. There has been complete meltdown and inability to see clearly what to do or how to proceed. Fear and sadness have gripped me.

Yesterday afternoon, in the middle of a meeting with the owner of the real estate company I’m affiliated with now, I got an email from the grown daughter of the family in Santa Cruz, California who adopted my beloved dog, Jake, in 2010. At that time, I needed  him to go to a safe and grounded environment as God called me onto the proverbial open sea in a boat without oars or sails (more on that story eventually, probably).  I have missed him so deeply and silently for 8 years. And now, she told me what I already knew in my heart, he is dying.

I have no money to go see him. My heart aches beyond words. So much grief connected to the stories of my life. So much grief to walk as a human no matter what our story. And the grief is balanced by joy. All of it wrapped up in messiness and mistakes and victories and lessons learned.

I sit today in the mountains, on the front porch of my cabin home, listening the crows and cicadas waking up, sipping coffee, writing this blog, completely steeped in the unknowing.

Last night, talking to my friend, I realized (again) that there isn’t really any solution. That no matter the fact that I had a different plan, this is being offered to me now. This whole damn clusterfuck of life. This is it, baby. It’s not gonna look all pretty and tied up in a bow. This is the truth of life as a human. I have no idea what the hell is going on. I can’t control any damn thing.

This is Life. Let it roll.

Jeez. It’s so anticlimactic to work so hard for so long and launch TheUmaverse.com and then none of the social media links work correctly and even the facebook posts about it just slip away.

Starting a website is a long-term project, even more so if it’s an online shop. It has to be a slow burn with gradual growth, and I knew that, but I’m still experiencing the post-launch period right now as a rude and sudden skid to a stop. It’s a strange feeling.

That said, I feel SO PROUD that I did it and that it’s live and while this is just the start and there’s much yet that I can do to grow and improve it, it has good bones. If I do say so myself. I’m so damn tired of the photos I’ve got for sale that I’m already wanting to dive in and find and edit some new ones.

I have sold twice so far in downtown Asheville for 5 hour shifts at the permanent Grove Arcade Outdoor Artists’ Market. Super fun and great feedback. And I sold a bunch of photos. People actually want my stuff. That helped me really kick into gear to get the website up and running. I just put in orders for more photo prints, mats, frames and packaging supplies (retail and mail) today. I’ll sell again Thursday and hopefully over the weekend.

It’s not a lot of money but it’s a thrill and it’s a start and it’s a dream I’ve had for 8 years. More, really. Forever I thought my photography, or anything I made or had to say, wasn’t “good enough.” But, thanks to so much feedback from friends and acquaintances over the years (yes, that’s YOU who are reading this) I finally believe.

And the Tarot Readings…they are the greatest gift of all. I love to do them so much. It’s like I get plugged in to some kind of cosmic connectivity when I read for other people. I so love to serve in this way, and to be served also.

Also, this is only a side gig. I’m working a lot on Walls of the Wild with my brother, Jeff Bode and sister-in-law Dede Lifgren, helping with marketing. Wow. Who knew that SEO could be fun. Who even knew what the hell SEO is.

But, the real gem here is the real estate career. Got my license end of May and just started last week with a local Weichert franchise. Soon, this will probably be my primary focus and I’m so excited about it. The Asheville real estate market is absolutely booming right now.

So, here’s the point of this rambling post about websites and work: For the first time in my life, I am doing 100% only the things I want and love to do to make a living. This has been a REALLY LONG TIME coming. And if you read to this point and you are longing for that also, I just want to say, don’t give up on the dream. And do all the work to understand what it is that you truly want, on the inside. Because the outside will only be a reflection of the inside.

My plan is to blog more about this very thing. Pray for me that I actually write those posts. I got shit to say. I want to say it. Thanks for listening to this rant.

For your rooms and walls: Photographic Art

For your inner spaces and growth: Tarot Readings

After years of daydreaming and night dreaming, talking and musing, dipping in and retreating, it’s official. Today I hang out the “open for business” sign. Come on in and look around at my new store, The Umaverse.

Welcome!

Notwithstanding that I am not a lover of long-term plans (because I tend to not stick to them), the basic idea is that UmaBode.com (where you are now) will come back to life as a blog of all things Uma, while the new site, TheUmaverse.com, is for commerce of all things Uma. That’s right, you can now buy Uma goods and services!

As for this blog – I really need to get back on that horse. I have so much to say and it’s not really fair to my lunch dates that they have to listen to me go on and on about every damn topic I care about. That’s what you-all are supposed to be for!

So, have a look at the new site and get yourself something for your walls and something for your soul. Either or both—I’m happy to help.

Charlotte was an amazing show. Really. I’m still a newbie to Bruce’s shows (though I’ve been a huge fan since 1975) but even the old-timers apparently are saying it was kinda phenomenal. I’m not going to do reviews (not my thing) but I do love sneaking iPhone shots (while trying to be very respectful of those around and behind me). Although they are blurry, I think that they managed to capture some cool energy of the show. I hope you enjoy.

My interviewing adventures started at about 2:15 P.M. when I walked up to the G.A. ticket wristband line, and I met Marta and Magela from Spain. I had arranged via the Backstreets ticket exchange board to buy my G.A. ticket from Marta. All I knew was she was coming from Spain.

When I got to the venue, she and her friend, Magela were already in line. This is the first time I saw them:

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Marta on the left, Magela on the right

 

 

 

 

 

 

We connected immediately and I felt so lucky to have this ticket. More on these two and their dedication to Bruce below.

As we moved toward the door to get our wristbands, we also were talking to David and his daughter, Melissa. He was excited to be sharing the Bruce experience with her. This was Melissa’s first show. David is a doctor of pediatric oncology in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. So, going to see Bruce is one important way he gets to relax. That man needs it.

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Melissa took a few days away from college to come meet her father for the show.  I think I saw her studying organic chemistry molecules on her iPhone when we lined up for the Pit Ritual later that afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you, David, for doing this important work. (And I’m sorry you didn’t get in the pit! Beginner’s blessed luck is what I call my experience.) Oh, and thanks for giving my iPhone a charge with your portable charger. I’m gonna get one of them and I’ll name it after you.

I had lunch with my new Spanish friends across the street from the venue in an upstairs open dining room. While a band blasted from the other side of the bar, we shouted questions and answers to each other. This is what I learned.

Marta’s first show was in 1992; Marta’s was 1988. They have traveled to the U.S. at least four times to see Bruce. The first time was with a Spanish Bruce fan club that still comes regularly and is how they met. Marta lives in Madrid and Magela lives in Barcelona. They tend to travel on their own now and they’ve seen Bruce all over Europe as well.

Nashville was Magela’s 70th show and Marta is close behind!

When I asked them why they keep coming back, why so many times, why so much money spent…they both smiled that knowing kind of smile, the one that has stories and a lot of love in it. Magela answered.

“Once you cross that line to travel to see Bruce—once you realize that you CAN—everything changes. You meet other people who are doing it too, and you see you are not crazy. And you don’t stop.”

Then they looked at me and me at them, and we started to laugh. We were all thinking: “Is this going to happen to ME?!”

By the time we finished eating, it was time to go back and line up for the ritual of the pit. The wristbands we were given earlier each have a unique number on them and we all lined up in approximate order, in separate lines for each increment of 100. We were numbers 364, 365 and 366. At about 5pm, the Bruce folks who manage this crazy scene bring out a big bucket with all the numbers and someone in the crowd picks one. That is the first number in the door and, depending on the venue, a certain number of ticket holders after that number get into the “pit,” which is the area RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE STAGE.

They said that 400 people could get into the pit and they number that was picked was…DOH! 667 (or something like that). And we were definitely NOT going to get into the pit. Damn. I was really sad for Marta and Magela, because they are only here for 3 shows and it was this special anniversary for Magela.

As we waited to be let into the arena after the pit winners went in (they still line you up and let you in according to the number on your wristband), I talked to some of the people around me.

Jason was inspiring.

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At 23, this is his second show (I hope I got that right). His pastor, who is from New York, introduced him to Bruce and he saw him at the 2012 New Orleans Jazz Festival.

I asked Jason why he comes and he said, “For the joy of it.”

His favorite album? “Hard to say, but my gut instinct says Born to Run.”

Why?

“Because when Clarence starts playing the sax at the end of Thunder Road, that solo, if freedom had a sound, that would be it.”

Um, WOW.

Well said, young man.

Steve is from London and this was also HIS 70th show! He was first touched by Bruce in 1981 when he heard either Prove it All Night or Badlands on the radio. He can’t remember which one, but the Darkness album made him sit up and take notice.

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He’s come to the U.S. 8 or 9 times to see Bruce. Why does he keep coming back?

“Because for one day, I’m normal. Everyone around me understands.  And, for 3-4 hours, you don’t know what your gonna get.”

Loving life in the Mystery, my friend.

And then there were the foam brothers (and sister)…in their case, a picture (or two) is truly worth a thousand words.

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Finally, there were my heroes. Rice and Alex. Even though Rice made it into the pit, his son, Alex, couldn’t get down early to get a wristband. Rice wasn’t going to go down there without Alex. When we found out about the unused pit-access wristband on his wrist, Marta grabbed him and started saying, “Oh my god, you have to give it to HER” and grabbed me too, and shouted at me, “You have to go in, you have to go in.”

He held out his wrist, she peeled it off, slapped it on me (a careful and scary operation) and pushed me off. With tears in my eyes (I kid you not), I found myself walking into the pit. I saw the show from about 7 “rows” back. Thank you, Rice and Alex, Marta and Magela. Thank you so much.

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Rice on left, his son, Alex, on the right. THANK YOU!