Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why Read....Books?

Thank you Kindle, for being built by a bored teenager in an impoverished part of the world (most likely) and breaking down in a way that my WCE * husband could not fix...even with his high-powered safety googles and very tiny screwdrivers.  Apparently, I just need to call Amazon and they will send out a replacement but the universe is talking to me, through imperfect products, and I'm listening:

Universe:  What were you reading on Kindle that you miss?
Me:  Not much, I downloaded the entire Game of Thrones series which included murder, incest, rape, and naked princesses. 
Universe:  What have you picked up at the library since your Kindle went offline?
Me:  Biographies of Margaret Sanger and Kurt Vonnegut, a book on Buddhism, and some Irish short stories.
Universe:  Hmmmmm
Me:  What are you saying, Universe, that the Kindle's choices are mainstream and that I have to pick up an actual book and see if it calls to me?
Universe:  No, I'm wondering how the the last book in the series turns out.

Regardless of the smart ass universe, I'm not sure I liked what I was reading on the Kindle.  The choices overwhelmed me and for whatever reason, I picked down, not up.  I was talking to my buddy about reading and why we do it and we came to the conclusion that we all read for different reasons.  She beautifully stated that she reads to be moved.  I think I read to know more about what we all share.  The best writers transcend their culture and place and speak a universal truth.  The best example of that for me this year was The Elegance of the Hedgehog.  Stop reading this silly blog and order it on your Kindle, right now:)

May the new year be filled with transcendental books, and of course, the next one in the Game of Thrones.

*World Class Engineer

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Dear Santa

Dear Santa:

I love all the stuff you give me, every year.  So I'm writing this note to ask you a couple questions.  Like:

1.  Do you have any pets? (besides reindeer)

2.  Do you ever get sick after eating so many cookies?

3.  Do you have back-up reindeer? (if one gets sick or dies)

4.  How many people usually get on the naughty list?

5.  Do grown-ups get presents?

6.  Do you ever shave?

From Emma...please write back
PS.  Am I on the naughty list?


I do have some penguins-
You and Luke never make the naughty list
I'm off to Jersey,
Thanks for the cookies

Merry Christmas Everyone, may the wonder continue throughout the year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Updated Version of 12 Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true love said to me:  I think we can do it this year.
On the second day of Christmas, my true love said to me:  100 postage stamps?
On the third day of Christmas, my true love said to me:  darts can be safe .
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love said to me:  are you sure you want flannel?
On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love said to me:  I may explode. 
On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love said to me:  I hope it's not Strep.
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love said to me:  It's all my high school buddies.
On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love said to me: Tequila hits the spot.
On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love said to me: The tupperware's on fire.
On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love said to me:  What do you want for Christmas?
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love said to me:  Time to hang the lights
On the twelve day of Christmas, my true love said to me:  We are very lucky.

All true and please sing it out at the top of your lungs:)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sadly, there is now wax in the hummus

So, we are in the Tsunami party season.  We kicked it off last week-end with a rollerskating party for 18 eight year olds and I consider it a personal success story that we only needed one icepack.  I consider it a personal failure, after my years of skate ranch experience in Lubbock, Texas, that I could not out skate aforementioned eight year olds, not one of them.  Something about their starting hockey at age three gives them the hometown advantage.  After the skating birthday party, we moved into pageant practice.  This year's pageant is a morality tale focusing on the Tinsel children and featuring my son as a:

Shrub.  He nailed it in practice.  They hit their marks, yes they have marks, and they projected into the wee hours.  All of that will not make one whit of difference tomorrow morning but it gave us something to do on a Wednesday evening.  It was especially fun to keep them from running around on the seductive wooden floor as the yoga class downstairs was entering into shavasana.  Namaste from all of us.

Next in line are the yearly holiday parties:  baking cookies for the swaps, buying a brilliant gift for the Yankee for all the discerning gals at the neighborhood party and one for my husband's family party with the theme "Occupy Boston" with not one word of explanation.  Next comes the clarifying call to another we exchange Christmas gifts or just birthday gifts?  I feel the slide into the Christmas Zone.  Packages wrapped and sent off to Texas?  Pictures taken for Christmas card?  Seven relatives emailing for suggestions on gifts for the kids and telling them all the exact same thing?  Half-finished advent tree?  I am standing on familiar ground.

Today, these snippets of conversation captured it all.  I will not bother telling you that I am going to relax and enjoy the season.  The best I can offer is to try and laugh about it all once or twice:)

I'm not sure fake poo is the way to go (me)
That is way too fancy for a rugby player (my daughter)
This is my blue book, I need to write that down in my red book (my husband)
Doubles tennis, anyone? (my son)
Sadly, there is now wax in the hummus (me)

Good luck to us all.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sands of Time

Much has happened in the last week.  My husband's company shut their doors for good last Friday, and he joined the ranks of Americans struggling to find work and security in these turbulent times.  But, as the universe is wont to do, it sent some monks my way to help me keep perspective.  The Gaden Jangtse Tibetan monks are traveling throughout the country for a year, building medicine sand mandalas and educating us about the ongoing plight of Tibetans who are denied religious freedom in Tibet.

So the monks came to our church and seven of them spent a week building the mandala.  They used small brass tubes and amazing technique which takes 6 years to learn.  We joined them mid-week and Luke pronounced the whole process "awe-inspiring."  Indeed.  On Sunday, they joined our service and it was quite fun to watch our minister metaphysically arm wrestle with the lama for control of the service.  I learned that lamas are pretty good at metaphysical arm wrestling.  At the end of the service, the lama blessed both of my children.  What a gift.

That afternoon, there was a formal ceremony where the monks undo all that they have done in the previous week.  The chanting and music was beautiful, and we all left with some of the sand.  It is quite auspicious for your next life to have the sand placed on your corpse.  I'm in.  Several of my non-Buddhist friends have asked about the meaning of the ceremony...why sweep away such beauty?

The first noble truth of Buddhist theology is that life is suffering....we can't escape it.  Suffering is caused by attachment.  Attachment to a job or a way of life.  It will change and end and you must flow with those changes.  Be in the moment but don't cling to what was.  Scott came over mid-week and watched the mandala being created.  He also joined us for the ending ceremony.  He and his coworkers were doing good work, building solar panels and trying to move the world closer to renewable energy as a viable energy alternative.  It is a great sadness to see that work swept away.  But just as the monks travel on to a new city and create new energy and patterns, so will the engineers/technicians of Evergreen Solar.  Here is to the journey:)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Notes from the Pew

So much to stuff into an entry when you are only writing every other week:)  A few things have happened:  the kids and I got lost on the way to the bookstore to pick up the latest copy in the Ranger Apprentice series, ended up in the projects and the locals threw yellow paint all over the car as we were touring through....I have been deconstructing this event in my mind since it happened.  It threw me.  It threw my kids.  We had to have a tough conversation about class, urban life, violence, parenting, and compassion.  What a suburban tale, really, lost in the projects on the way to the bookstore. 

Then, we went to the Cape and had a wonderful time, frolicking on the beach in the off season.  I have always been drawn to the water when the people leave.  I spent a winter in Gloucester in a summer home, powered by a wood stove just trying to stay warm.  I walked the beach every morning and found such peace.  My partner at the time nearly went insane with the solitude.  Each to their own.

Today, it was back in the saddle, teaching RE.  Our topic was the question "what is prayer?"  Here is what my beautiful class came up with:

Prayer is when you are talking to the don't really get an answer sometimes but
it feels good to keep trying.

Ain't it the truth.

Here is my favorite Buddhist prayer:

May I be filled with lovingkindness.
May I be well.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
May I be happy.

May you be filled with lovingkindness.
May you be well.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be happy.

May we be filled with lovingkindness.
May we be well.
May we be peaceful and at ease.
May we be happy.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It is Raining Geraniums

We all turn into our elders.  It is only a matter of time.  One of my favorite dad stories is the time he sat me down to talk to me about being more aware of my surroundings and encouraged me to slow down and think before I sped from one thing to the next.  I nodded in agreement, willing the lecture to be over;  "I get it, I get it."  As he nodded that I could go, I shot up and hit the hanging plant over my head, shattering the pot and raining down dirt and geraniums on both our heads.  The next nod I got was one of resignation.

Now, I am giving the speeches, and they are so very good and equally effective.  Today's classic response to one of those eloquent speeches that I have given 30 times before was "I never heard you say that before."  Just like I never heard my parents, until right about now.

Kids are karma, your very own spiritual teachers reminding you of you...the younger you, the you that sped through life without a care in the world, trusting your parents would pick up the pieces, which they did, time and time again.  My mom pushing us to be compassionate, my dad pushing us to "do right" and my grandmother pushing a spiritual path.  What a pushy group.  So as I sit here, watching a foot of snow fall in October, I am thankful for who I am turning was my grandfather's voice telling me to fill my car up with gas before the storm.  I am especially grateful for those voices when it is raining geraniums.  Bring it on my little campers, I was taught by the best.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

3 Cups of Tea

I enjoyed Greg Mortenson's tale of building schools for girls in Afghanistan and combating terrorism, racism, and poverty.  I even continued to feel sympathy and compassion for all involved after Jon Krakauer wrote his digital expose "3 Cups of Deceit" detailing how much of the story was a myth created by a self-aggrandizing odd duck.  Don't get in the middle of dueling mountaineers, they are notoriously cranky.

My own tale is a more humble version having nothing to do with a global vision and everything to do with my internal descent into chaos.  This morning I woke at 5:30 from a dream that featured me frantically trying to dial my husband at work on a rotary phone and a cranky operator coming on the line telling me that "those phones" don't work anymore and that I would have to drive over and give him the message.  Am I the phone?  Most likely.  I do a little negotiating with myself in the morning....5 more minutes and just forget about picking out jewelry.  5 more minutes after that, you can just buy lunch at work.  There is a lot of wheeling and dealing with part of me that really just wants to sleep, a bunch more. 

Still so tired, I made some tea and put it into Cup #1.  Just as I was about to drink it, a great debate ensued about the application for ski club that had a hard and fast deadline of "right this minute".  No tea for me, time to drive to work.  I poured tea into Cup #2 and headed out the door.  As I sat in the driver's seat, I realized that I had chosen a cup with no lid.  Cup #3 was chosen from several possibilities because the content was still liquid.  

Lately, I have felt combative, restless, and astray from my path.  When those feelings wash over me, I return to the writings of those who have travelled for many lifetimes:

Drinking Tea

This cup of tea in my
two hands,
mindfulness is held uprightly.
My body and mind dwell
in the very here and now.                     Thich Nhat Hanh

Even if you have to do it three times:)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

You can't use your crossbow in the house

As a mom, you sometimes find yourselves saying things that perhaps have never been said before, by anyone at anytime in history.  Or that is how it feels when it is coming out of your mouth (see title).

Still, the trickier times are the ninja conversations.  These are the conversations that sneak up on you, pulverize you and melt back into the alley.  Today, on the way to church, we all read this billboard in front of the local Church of Christ:

God invented Sex, so follow his advice about it in the bible.

Son:  What does that sign mean Mom?
Me:  Well, that sign is saying that you should follow what the bible says about sex (trying to remember what the bible says about it that sex is bad?, that is not it exactly...oh, right, right, you shouldn't have any for quite some time....until you are married...I think that is it!!!!!!!)
Daughter:  What does the bible say about sex?
Me:  To the best of my recollection, the bible says that you should not have sex before you are married.
Son/Daughter:  That sounds good....what do you think mom?
Me: (Thank you Church of Christ, thank you so much)  The thing about sex is that your body is ready for it before your mind and soul are ready (where are these words coming after school special lodged in my psyche?)
Son:  I'm not ready, I haven't even seen the puberty film (coming up in his 5th grade health curriculum)
Daughter:  What is puberty?
Son:  It is a growth thing
Me:  It is not gross...I know your wigged about the puberty film but puberty is a natural thing, it is not gross
Son:  I said growth, not gross.
Daughter:  It is gross.

Ninja conversation, come on back...I'm going to do a little training.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Things are being interfered with.....

This working thing is relentless as in it happens every single day.  Things are being interfered with like writing and musing and running and creating and singing and raking and planting and dancing.  Just to name a couple.  All my buddies are telling me this thing takes time, that I will acclimate to being back in the work force full time.  But here is the thing; I acclimated pretty damn well to not working.  I got used to being sorta relaxed and most of all, being my own boss.

Here is my metaphysical quandary:  all that gold may glitter but at what cost?  We buy into this idea that we need to work hard, doing something we are passionate about and contribute to the greater good.  But sometimes, we let go of our creative selves, our balanced selves, our best selves unless we are very blessed to find a job that allows us to be those things, some of the time.  I hope my job will turn out to be is my spiritual work to make it so.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Restraint Training

I spent today in restraint training, which poses a few philosophical questions not unlike the questions politicians are faced when going to war.  To maintain peace/safety, I am going to invade your country/physical space and move you to where I think you need to be.  Same deal.  A country or student is aggressing and hurting others.  What to do?  My answer is usually to walk with the kid, away from the trigger and talk/listen.  It goes a long way.  It is helpful to know what to do if things escalate but I'm not going to put a kid down and I'm not going to fire a weapon in the name of peace.  So, I think it is safe to say that I did not pass my training with flying colors.  No heart, no skill.

On the drive home, drivers were beeping at each other, and cutting each other off.  I yelled out "everyone needs to calm the hell down."  I thought I showed great restraint.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

In True

I have added a yoga class to my regime, in the quest to come back in true ( a great word left over from my cycling days which means "to make true, shape, adjust accurately; to make level).  When you are 20, you still blame your parents for being out of true.  In your 30's, it is your crazy spouse, job, commute, etc.  Now, I'm finding that it is on me.  My happiness, my balance, my peace are in my hands.  If I choose to go back to work full-time and continue to try and do it all, the wheels will come off and I will be, spectacularly out of true.

Here is the week in review:

Monday:  Working off of 3 calenders and 4 lists.  Spend 1/2 hour at work figuring out a system for which list/calender to put which items on.  Can't remember teacher/student/parent/nurse or crossing guard names.  Eat lunch alone.
Tuesday:  Work, kid's soccer, SuperStore of one kind or another, laundry, happen to notice it is fall.  Put rusty Halloween pail on porch.  Trip on pail and may need tetanus shot.  Yoga:)
Wednesday:  Colleague at conference, no lunch, lock-down, no peace.  Husband takes kids to Lion King, I cry with joy.
Thursday:  What, work again?
Friday:  Work, kid's dance, and somehow everyone needs to eat.  Living on Luna bars, green tea, flatbread sandwiches from Dunkin Donuts and grapes...just to keep it healthy.
Saturday:  Yoga, seeing my friends,kid's soccer and now...writing a few notes to myself.

I'm not sure what to let go far it seems to be healthy eating and cleaning my house:).  It is possible I will have to cut down to one book club and less crisis response volunteering.  I know I can trim the metaphysical adding yoga?  Maybe, maybe.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lessons on Starting Over

One of my dear friends said to me tonight "I knew I had to make this job work because I don't know how many first years I have left in me."  I have turned into a bit of a crank.  I didn't know this about myself until I started a new job (at age 47) this fall.  I still have a lot of energy, a bit of humor, and some flexibility.  I also carry with me an internal standard of how to do my work.  When I was younger, I looked for an external framework.  Around job # 3, I realized that some external frameworks are termite-ridden and you better build a back-up for yourself.

The building takes awhile but if you do it mindfully, you get pretty attached to it.  I like mine, that's why I bring it with me now.  The trick is in presenting your framework without dissing everyone else.  There are many ways to do things, I just know what works for me.  I hope that I am not holding up my way as the way but just a way.  Cut to home.

When you go back to work, you have to turn over some stuff to your partner.  Then, you have to be OK with how he/she does it.  Go easy on yourselves, all the way around.  I was was giving this very speech to a friend when my husband casually walked up to me and said "Oh, I was supposed to pick up Luke"...and turned around and left to take care of that.  We are eating on the run, skipping food groups, and the house is never, ever, ever in drop-in condition but we will find our balance. 

Meanwhile, my kids see us both sharing in more of the responsibilities of home and that work is equally important to both of us.  Two salaries in this economy make a good back up plan.  Some of my friendships seem to be taking a hit but in the end, your friends hang with you through all facets of your life and so you might as well get that sorted out now, before illness, old age, and hospice.

See, I think I have maintained my cheery outlook:)

Peace to us all.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Notes from the Pew

Let me start by saying "Holy Cow".  Working full-time after 10 years of doing the part-time thing is an adjustment that I completely underrated.  Kinda of like childbirth, heart surgery, and writing my thesis.  All good things that looked less complicated on paper:)

Take a look at this CSpan clip.  It is our very own Reverend Judith leading the opening prayer on Wednesday at the House of Representatives.  Then, she gets cited by Representative McGovern for doing good. 

  Reverend Judith has set the bar high by doing good all over the world but I'm going to start smaller, and just do good within spitting distance.  In fact, I may just start by not doing bad:)

I hope to get back to writing more often and staying in touch with all of you more when I swim to the surface.  Who knew I could hold my breathe underwater for 3 weeks?

Peace to you all....I miss this blogging energy!

Friday, September 2, 2011

It's time

In no particular order of importance, we have survived the following this week:

1.  Returned from Bermuda unscathed by rough waters or sunburns.  We did get a coral rash but it was a small price to pay for seeing the beautiful underwater vistas.

2.  Hurricane Irene with no power loss.  We know have 100 lbs of extra ice and may try our hand at building a luge run this week-end.

3.  Started a new job in a great place with great people.  To be yourself with like-minded colleagues in a school with an appreciation of what you bring to the table is nothing short of miraculous.  Amen and Blessed be.

4.  Eldest started middle school.  Now that I think of it, this one should be right at the top of the list.  He is doing a great job and I am so very proud of his courage.  Youngest started the 3rd grade, and she is rocking it as well.

5.  Husband is acclimating to the fact that his company declared bankruptcy right before we left on vacation.  He has decided to not freak out and I am trying oh so hard to meet him in Calmsville.  He hangs out there a lot and I only visit so I'm trying to get the lay of the land.

6.  Soccer, karate, and one asthma attack.  I won't get into how I was reading my Kindle at karate while my son was hacking up a lung at the dojo and one judgemental yet prescient mom said...and I'm quoting here "your son has an awful cough", no, those are seasonal allergies...."Really, sounds like a bad case of bronchitis to me."  Hard stare.  He is being treated for allergy induced asthma and the moral of this story is do not ignore all bitchy people.

In short, we survived the summer with all its glorious together time.  I loved it but when it's time, it's time.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Back from one of the B Islands

We just got back from beautiful Bermuda.  We had a most fabulous time!  Unfortunately, I inadvertently told some family and friends we were going to the Bahamas and what with all the hurricane activity....well, folks were glad we made it back.

This was our first time on a cruise and for a multi-generational family vacation, it has many advantages.  First of all, you get to be on the ocean for several days.  There is something very expansive about looking out and seeing water and the horizon every way you orient yourself.  The bear and I had to take motion sickness pills even on the calmest days but they worked beautifully.  Then there is the cornucopia of food:  fresh seafood, Indian, chilled soups, and a mango lime souffle, just to name a few of my favorites.  Each evening, we went to the Stardust theatre and watched a song and dance show.  Who knew you could feel nostalgia for hits from the seventies?

Bermuda is beautiful and surreal.  You can't drive a car there or own a home so it has a very insulated feel.  Bermudians seem to be very proud of their island and their way of life and can talk at length about the complicated water system that every house uses (special roof that collects rainwater that goes to a holding tank in the basement).  See?  It can be described quite simply but I didn't want to appear rude. 

Highlights of the time on the island were snorkling, swimming in the cove pictured above and a sunset Catamaran sail with my sweetie.  The last picture depicts the Norweigian Dawn and Enchantment of the Seas docked at night.  I was swizzled by that time so the picture may be a bit blurry:)

Best of all, I was off the grid for a week (sorry to those who thought we were in Nicaragua or drowned)....unplug, it does wonders.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

New Piano

One of the items on the summer bucket list was purchasing a keyboard and learning some tunes.  This leads to a small list of things you can no longer do while your kids are learning to play the piano:

1.  Blog
2. Talk to anyone on the phone.
3.  Read
4.  Keep from commenting that Fur Elise should not be picked out while the digital keyboard is on electric mode unless you personally want to be responsible for Beethoven haunting your very abode.

Here are some things you do that even the scales:

1.  Play the first four bars to "The Entertainer" 47 times with a big grin on your face.
2.  Pull out your old bassoon music books and play the grandfather part of Peter and the Wolf 47 times with a look of longing on your face.
3.  Pick out a bit of Chopin with a look of befuddlement on your face.
4.  Try to explain scales without knowing what you are talking about..."remember Sound of Music?"

We have gone too long without our instruments out.  I'm not sure our neighbors agree, but we are back, baby:)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Words to live by

One of my soul sisters came up for her annual trek to New England and we took a little field trip to Harvard Square.  One of the glorious things about showing someone your neck of the woods is that you see some trees you have not seen before.  It is all about the looking, really.

Right in the square is an old cemetery adjacent to one of the first Unitarian Universalist churches in the country.  How many times have I walked past that church?  This was my first time to do a little urban exploring.  All the tombstones written in Latin slowed us down just a bit but we persevered until we found the last resting spot of one Mr. Levi Bridge....he was a man of various acquirements...... Improved by education, study, and use.


I don't think it is macabre to ponder one's tombstone while still living, in fact, I think you better.  20 years ago, my tombstone would have read "She loved hats and she never voted for a Republican."  So, not only do you have to ponder your tombstone, you have to re-ponder every now and again. I would add that if you are really blessed, you will have an old friend who carries your history and honors who you have become and does not think it a bit odd that you take her to look at graves when she comes to town.  I love you Jen!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wisdom from the Whiskey Priest

So much wisdom I could share from Friday night but I will distill it down to the key points:

1.  Free shots are never free.  I want all daughters to know this in their bones.
2.  There is a small window where you can wear a bikini in a bar and pass out free shots.  Just because you can physically, does not mean you should spiritually.  Just saying.
3.  The Whiskey Priest seems to be long on whiskey and short on priests.
4.  If you ask the hostess if they sell tshirts, you lose some street cred, immediately:)
5.  Free Mentos do not a dinner make.
6.  If you are going to be standing up at the Whiskey Priest, and then dancing to the John Butler Trio all night, please, please wear cowboy boots.....

And finally, get out, sample some music, feel the sea breeze on your face while someone is playing a didgeridoo and listen to this band.  The guys can play.

And a huge shout out to Roving Reporter, who got us there, and Maine Maverick who demonstrated the correct technique for seat pounding when the time came.  Rock on sisters!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


I am ashamed to say that it took me until mid summer to make it over to the rail trail.  I have waxed poetic about this neck of the woods in several posts but to summarize:  this run is what running is all about.  Babbling brook, breezy on the hottest of days, friendly folks, and very few hunters ( OK, there might have been one today but the shots helped my time tremendously).

I left it all on the field during this run (you runners out there know what I am talking about:) and it got me thinking about how rare it is that we allow ourselves to go right up to the edge of what we are capable of:  physically, emotionally, or intellectually.  Part of the problem is that many of us are busy raising kids or earning a living.  Both honorable pastimes but they don't allow for edge-living.  Now that I think of it, maybe edge living doesn't allow for the continuation of the species and so we are hard-wired to back off a wee bit.

When my sister heads off to Nicaragua, we carry around the worry for her safety.  When my husband goes climbing in the mountains for the day, I reconfigure my life as a single mom...what would that look like?  Part of me chides them for not letting go of regressive pursuits but when the fear subsides, I remember how important edge-living is to sustain us through everyday living.

So Roving Reporter and Maine Maverick, give 'em hell at the Spartan Challenge.  Auntie T, read every book you get your hands on.  And Scrappy, create until you drop.  We all deserve a little edge living this summer, whatever that looks like.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Cuss Box

Namaste.  Well, almost Namaste.  Before Namaste came me placing a bet with my little Buddha that I could not go a day without cussing.  She bet me a make-up box, a wily bet because I would not get it for her unless I lost aforementioned bet.  For the record, none of my close friends (with whom we were spending the week-end) thought I stood a chance.  Never mind the lack of faith.  I don't have to curse to make my points.  I have been meditating for 20 years...surely that will help me win a small bet and prove I can achieve equanimity when there is honor at stake.

I would like to show you a picture of the cuss daughter is awfully proud of it but blogger won't let me upload the photo.  Damn it.

For the record, I made it until 10:20 a.m.  Also, my husband set me up but that is a Freudian post for another time.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Do you need an tube socks?

My antiquing buddies have flat out denied me access to their personages after I took an artistic shot of them last year standing next to a purple the rain.  It captured the essence of Brimfield,  but they think that ridiculous tall animals should henceforth be captured next to me.

We all came away with treasures including an old first aide box, WWI poster, hooked rug, and a vintage cap gun.  The weather was perfect, the company sublime, and the pilgrim sandwich (fresh turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce) have to drive up for a taste of that.  Follow it up fresh squeezed lemonade.  It just doesn't get much better.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Leaning into the sharp points

There are moments in life that one will remember when turning 80.  Some of these moments are about transcendental joy...when you hold your newborn in your arms for the first time and even though she looks like an Eskimo, your husband assures you that he saw her come out and that she belongs to the both of you.  This child's first word is "mama" and she has placed her trust in you.  You say to yourself, "I will keep her safe, no matter what else I do, I will keep her safe."

But you can't...and she hits the coffee table edge going about 20 mph and needs her eyebrow glued shut, all the while saying "I'm OK, Mom, I'm OK".  And she falls on her bike, on her skis, on her skates, and off the monkey bars.  You think you are prepared for what may come, but you are not.

Some of these moments you will remember are about a fear so deep and so old that to go anywhere near it is to risk some part of yourself not returning.  Pema Chodron recommends that when we hit this place of profound fear that we "lean into the sharp points" and through the leaning will learn to work through our attachments.  I have found that sometimes we get thrown there.

Thursday afternoon, I went to pick up my daughter from a local camp.  As I drove into the parking lot, there were several squad cars and a bevy of reporters all lined up across the street.  As I walked into the building, I asked a staff person what was going on...she responded with "the headmaster will be addressing all the parents in the auditorium."  It finally dawned on me, in a flash, that something bad had happened.  I walked into the gym and in the chaos of the moment, I could not find my daughter.  I asked the headmaster if all the children were safe, and he did not answer.  It took me a minute, maybe two, to find my daughter.  It was the longest minute of my life.  We listened as he explained that there had been an accident in the pool and a camper had been transported to a local hospital.  As I write this, the camper remains in serious condition.

As a crisis counselor, I can tell you many of the symtoms of an acute stress reaction:  surreal sense of time; physical symptoms of nausea, headache, or fatigue; confusion around facts of an event; and disbelief at what has just occured.  I would hazard a guess that every parent that picked up their camper/s that day experienced some of the above.  In the end, we all moved into shared grief for the parent that was not in that gym but in a hospital room with the child that is a part of her transcendental joy.  We are all with you as you lean into the sharp points.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Within a certain context.....

As luck would have it, most of my friends are on vacation this week.  All at the same time.  They are in Maine, New York, the Cape, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, New Hampshire and even Massachusetts.  As a courtesy, I do not call or text my friends when they are off the grid....even if I have big news.  Which I do  not, I don't even have medium news.  Still, today I couldn't put my finger on what I was feeling until I realized it was lonliness.

I don't tweet or do facebook because once I go down a social media path, I get lost in the brambles.  I have had to change my texting plan, twice.  My husband, who will not answer the phone or a text asked me what I was texting on average of 15 times a day:

Here are some recent examples:

headed out for clambake and lobsters, the thing New Englanders do to make up for blizzards....

Done with stress test, they made me stop when I started hyperventilating.....I think I was hyperventilating because I was arguing with technician about stopping....they seem a little juiced about people passing out, if you ask me.

Thank you for warrior beta...feeling strong although difficult to text because I need bifocal contacts:)
Safe journey to you guys

You can't teach someone to be Zen, especially if you are a fake buddhist......

What is texting, really?  I think it is a place we get to distill our philosophy of life and wish each other luck or condolences, and say "we are in this thing together".  It is also an easy way to orient oneself.  I am here, where are you?  This may be yet another relational thing, the latest Nielson figures point out that women text more than men.  A friend of mine who is still in the dating arena says that texting has become an art form if you want a follow up date.  Clever, but not sarcastic; supportive but not cloying; and interested but not desperate. 

Typical text to my husband, which I think captures all of the above:
At Ready Med, per doc's orders, 2 hour wait.....where are you, exactly?

So come on back you guys.  If I don't get to text you, I have to analyze my texting patterns and figure out the meta-meaning of texting.....lonely work:)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cliff, We hardly knew ye.....

And, in fact, I don't know you at all in the tangible world.  But here is today's lesson about blogging and the follows the second noble truth which reads "the origin of suffering is attachment."  I got attached to your voice and to your blog. 

When I first started reading blogs, it was a cacophony of metaphors, language, and stories.  My head hurt.  Then I learned I could plug in key words like "Buddhism" or "Buddhist social work crafters" or any number of permutations.  My head still hurt, although in a more specific way.  Then, I stopped trying to find anything of significance.  That's when I found Cliff's blog.....the last entries chronicling his journey from the couch to the Paris marathon.  A journey that did have significance to me.

Here is the thing that I didn't realize until Cliff took his blog into semi-retirement.  In the world of blogging, bloggers get tired or move onto the next creative endeavor.....get attached and be reminded of the second noble truth.  As I have been doing the goodbye thing this week, I will add "This is This" to my list:  what the hell, when it rains it pours:)

Best of luck to you Cliff....your words were a joy to read.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Sometimes, you happen upon something that takes you back to another place and another time.  I am not going to west Texas this summer, but a bit of it found me on a hot summer day in New England.  With some free time on our hands, I called a family meeting and we voted for our top three things to do this holiday week-end:  swimming in a local lake; climbing; and buying a dog.  Two out of three ain't bad.  As we rounded the turn and walked toward the water, we were met with the above sight.  My kids had no idea what was happening but I was hit with a wave of nostalgia so strong, I could hear it...and in fact, this song made it's way to the front of my consciousness:

Are you washed?
Are you washed?
Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?  Are your garments spotless are they white as snow, are you washed in the blood of the lamb?

As a matter of fact, I am washed in the blood of the lamb....many years ago (this is code for being baptized).  Not in a lake, but in a baptismal which is kind of like a bathtub set high above the altar.  When you take Jesus for your savior, you wade in with the preacher, dressed in white robes, and he dunks you in the water.  The water washes away your sins, and you begin anew...walking with the Lord.  I remember two things from that day:  water getting up my nose and my grandmother's face, registered with relief, joy, and something else.  Perhaps the realization that her granddaughter had a few more spiritual beginnings to tackle before landing on sacred ground that would prove to be a better fit than the Church of Christ.  My dad was baptized in a lake by his dad, a Baptist preacher.  I think all of these rituals are embedded in my cultural memory.

I had mixed feelings when we witnessed yesterday's sacred act.  I felt like we were out of place and eavesdropping.  I also joked with my husband about swimming in holy water.  Then I remembered we are all striving for something holy in a world that sometimes forgets to look for it.  Sometimes it finds you when you least expect it. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

How to say Goodbye.....

I have a few goodbyes coming up and contemplating how to do them honorably has left me in a bit of a funk.  I am also suffering from a post-dash injury:  an over-zealous pedicurist, horrified at my mud-caked feet, went completely postal and gouged me with a very sharp mud-cleaning instrument.  My toe is inflamed and so am I.  Additionally, there might have been mud gnats as I have some kind of rash from the waist down...could possibly be poison ivy.

But back to the goodbyes:  how to say them?  Therapists have their own word for saying goodbye:  Termination.  It is an honest word because the promises we all make to each other when we are saying goodbye very rarely come to pass.  They are smooth phrases that ease the transition but as I have gotten older, just hit me with the truth:  I like you a lot, but I'm not going to drive 45 minutes to see you, so it looks like this is it.  I know in my heart that there are some folks I truly care about a great deal whom I will never see again.  Maybe being in a funk is not about figuring out how to say goodbye, maybe it is about the stone, cold fact that saying goodbye is part of being human.  We travel on and often, we do it alone.  Maybe it is contemplating that my kids will say goodbye to me someday, and move to Switzerland or Texas.  Maybe it is about the fact that I moved away from my parents, and now they are aging.

And then it comes to me:  the names of the few folks who have not allowed me to say goodbye.  The ones who show up routinely even though we live thousands or hundreds or tens of miles apart.  The ones I can see once every few years and no time has passed.  My soul sisters/brothers.  You just never know which relationships can morph into those, the ones that transcend termination.  Those are also part of the human condition.

As an aside, I have picked my summer reading program:  the intersection of science and religion.  Please join me.  The first book, which took about 2 months to read is "Cosmic Jackpot:  Why our universe is just right for life"  Paul Davies.  My husband called it "pop physics".  It had enough heft to it to make a nice thud when it hit him.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

There is your world within......

The Times are Nightfall

The times are nightfall, look,their light grows less;
The times are winter, watch, a world undone:
They waste, they wither worse; they as they run
Or bring more or more blazon man's distress.
And I not help.  Nor word now of success:
All is from wreck, here, there, to rescue one--
Work which to see scarce so much as begun
Makes welcome death,does dear forgetfulness.
Or what is else?  There is your world within.
There rid the dragons, root out there the sin.
Your will is law in that small commonweal.                        

--- Gerard Manley Hopkins

(thanks mom, he can turn a phrase:)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Warrior Dash

Hard to find the exact words to describe a race where you have to sign a waiver that states "I will not dive head first into the mud pit."  Also a few items about the fire pit you jump over but nothing about the barbed wire you crawl under.  How did I get here:
It started, as all good quests do, with a warrior friend who emailed me the specifics of the "warrior dash."  3 miles of fun-filled activities including crawling under barbed wire, climbing a military-style wall, jumping over fire, and slogging through the mud.  She had me at jumping over fire.  Sadly, my warrior buddy had a family emergency and could not dash.  Then, there was some bold talk at a wine and cheese party and several other friends thought the whole thing sounded pretty good.  The wine wore off and so did the good intentions.  In the end, I dashed alone.

Last night, I could not get to sleep thinking about the soundness of my decision to dash with a recent back injury (good news there, mud gives way and so if you have a back injury, slogging through 3 miles of mud is possibly quite therapeutic...who knew?); the need for a stress test to make sure my patched up heart could handle the aerobic strain; and the realization that I would be running with a bunch of 20 somethings who might just be wearing bikinis (only one that I saw, mostly folks were in full viking garb).  Luckily, as good quests do, I had a mission to pick up some viking helmets and so I put my nerves to bed around 2:30am.

My family came with me.  I met new warrior buddies and I had a beautiful day.  My favorite part of the race was pulling lighter racers out of waist deep mud when they did not have enough bulk to free themselves.  We were one.  One of the photographers shouted out the following, "you are kicking ass and you are twice as old as the girls you are running with."  I will take it....but let me tell you, the ass I was kicking was my own.  The voice that kept me up the night before, the voice that tells me I have to start taking it easy.  The voice that tells me I shouldn't, not anymore.  That voice got left in the mud.  I hope it stays there.

Special shout out to my buddy who got me into this:  you have a helmet waiting for you.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Starts

Whew!  I think we might have made it out of soccer evaluations-4th grade graduation-dance recital-quidditch blood rematch season and are sliding into summer.
As I was breathing a long sigh of relief tonight, I realized that I have not written down any of the camp dates for either of my children for the following camps:  science, dance, nature, climbing, or island magic.  How could that possibly be?  How could a competent therapist who manages several jobs and does not miss appointments, who arrives on time, and supports her friends and family decide to willfully not write down a single, solitary camp date?  This, by the way, will entail emailing several camps and trying to come up with a plausible reason why I have no idea when my child will be attending.

Do you ever watch yourself?  I feel my alter ego is a benign coach on the sideline who is starting to lose patience:  Hey, D....pull it back a are over-committing on the ball....they are going to get around you

D, you are walking a little tenderly...did you throw your back out at yoga doing "the dying warrior?"

D.....I need you with me on have to choose to let go of something......the beautiful game is being present and aware when you are with your family. 

Coach, I hear you.  I will spend the summer getting back in the game.  Right after I figure out this camp thing:)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Just Delicate Needles

This is a poem I usually ponder during winter solstice but I post it today in honor of all of our fathers: one who emerged relatively unscathed from a car accident (heal up quickly, Dad); some who are making peace with the "new reality" of aging; and some who are watching their families struggle.  To all of you, your sacrifices have not gone unnoticed.  We love and honor you today.

Just Delicate Needles

It's so delicate, the light.
And there's so little of it. The dark
is huge.
Just delicate needles, the light,
in an endless night.
And it has such a long way to go
through such desolate space.
So let's be gentle with it.
Cherish it.
So it will come again in the morning.
We hope.

--by Rolf Jacobsen

Translated by Robert Hedin

Friday, June 17, 2011

Humbled....A conversation with a 92 year old

Yoga took me out....again.  This time, it was the dying warrior pose.  Perhaps it is always the dying warrior pose, hard to say.  Wednesday morning, I tried to put my breakfast dishes in the sink and my back decided to shut down operations.  I had several home visits that day with elderly clients, all of whom offered me their walkers.  Here is a snippet of one conversation:

Me:  You look good today P
P:  You look awful, worse than me
Me:  It was yoga
P:  God Bless you, here is what we are going to take my walker and use it to get to your car.  Then, call me, and I will buzz the nurse who can come get it and bring it back

It strikes me that the most therapeutic thing I can probably do, that all of us can do for the elderly in our lives is to still be needed by them, and helped by them.  This week, that was surely the case.  Thanks for all the good energy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Bit of Wind

Pardon the blogging interruption, but we have been dealing with a bit of wind here in New England.  Last week, a series of tornadoes touched down in the western and central part of the state and left 19 communities reeling.  Folks I work with and for lost homes, all their possessions, and any faith that tornadoes are reserved for out west.  For the record, I think it is a bit of a raw deal that we can now add tornadoes to a list that already includes hurricanes and blizzards.  Also for the record, it is nothing short of a miracle that more people were not killed. 

In our neck of the woods, hysteria ensued when a very serious voice emerged in the middle of "Wizards of Waverly Place" and announced the following:  You are in the direct line of a immediate shelter.  Our 1889 basement does not exude the sense that everything is going to be alright.  On the other hand, as roving reporter pointed out, the house has been standing for over 125 years and that should count for something.  In fact, the tornado hopped over our town and travelled south.  My Northern husband did not feel the need to take shelter and continued to cook pasta which he graciously brought down to us, one bowl at a time.  My daughter sobbed "I am so sad that I am not going to get to live out my full life."  My son, the scientist, calmly retorted "there is a small chance we will see our friends again."

As I wrote about in an online newspaper the next day, the crux of these things is trying to manage your own anxiety and calmly reassure your children that everything is going to be alright.  No small task, as it turns out.  In fact, it is an impossible task because we can't know that things are going to turn out OK.  One mother died shielding her teenage daughter from a falling roof, another young man was killed when a tree crashed on top of his van.  Everyday, somewhere things go horribly astray.

The following week-end, I spent some time in a small town hit very hard by the storm.  I watched young people travelling all over town passing out water from a red wagon to their neighbors.  I ate a piece of peach pie dropped off at the fire station by grateful townsfolk thanking their first responders.  When you listen to stories of that day or stories from 9/11 or any life-changing event, you realize that our resilience and desire to do right by each other outweighs our fears.  So, although we don't know things are going to turn out for the best each and every time, we can with confidence tell our children that we live in a community with people who will be there for us every step of the way when trouble comes.

As for my Texas relatives, don't worry about us, we can, indeed, handle a little wind. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why is it always Soccer?

Soccer and I have a checkered history; I blame it on coming to the game late.  Growing up in Texas, soccer was offered but it paled in comparison to basketball, track, and even volleyball.  I'm not sure our high school even had a soccer team, maybe an underground one.  In college, it was all about the bike and then I moved out East.  Suddenly, there were pick-up soccer games everywhere and the gauntlet was thrown down by a guy who was an awfully good climber.  Could someone my size play such a quick game?  He was involved in a pick-up game that had been going on for 10 years.  Little did I know that he invited me to play soccer not for the love of the game but to set me up with his buddy.  Before falling in love with any of the players,  I fell in love with the game.  It was almost a short-lived romance as the players in this particular pick-up game went to the climber and told him that I was going to hurt someone and he better get me under control.  He has been trying ever since.  I am not a pretty player but I have learned to play a little cleaner unless the situation calls for something else.  I have broken my toe, vomited blood, and had a stroke on the soccer field.  I have played in several leagues and made some friends and lost some.  I am a defender.  I take it very personally when you get past me...I don't have a balanced perspective.

Now, fifteen years later, the climber and I are trying to teach our kids the beautiful game.  We are also trying to give them the perspective neither of us had or has.  I coach.  I'm not sure that I should.  The climber doesn't coach.  We are pretty sure he shouldn't.  My goal as a coach is to get my players to start the flirtation with the game that will ultimately grab their hearts and make them ask themselves 30 years from now...Why is it always soccer?

I don't know the answer to that question, but I know that Memorial Day Week-end, we are staying in town to see the Revs play the Galaxy.  Most nights, we watch taped games from the Premier League.  There is no greater joy than watching your child score a goal, or stop one.  Why is it always soccer?  Why not?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Jung at Heart

Carl Jung is my guy.  When asked on the rare occasion what my theoretical orientation might be as a therapist, I reply "I am a Jungian, at the heart of it."  My own analyst was a Freudian and for many years, she and I grappled with her idea that I became a Jungian just to recreate their famous split.  This is a very Freudian approach to analysis.  I'm not sure I completed analysis as somewhere in the process it seemed like a very bourgeois endeavor that only the wealthy could afford.  Still, without her efforts on my behalf, I would not have married or had children and so I hold her in my heart, as well.  She pointed out that Jung was anti-Semitic, possibly schizophrenic, and slept with his female patients.  All true.  He also developed the idea of the collective unconscious and was unashamed to be a mystic.  His writing is virtually unreadable in English but some of his points are soul-piercing:  Bidden or Unbidden, God is present or The decisive question for a man is:  is he related to something infinite or not?

At the age of 82, he wrote (I am quoting here from Jung, A brief insight by Anthony Stevens)

In the end, the only events of my life worth telling are those when the imperishable world erupted into this transitory one....All other memories of travel, people and my surroundings have paled beside these interior encounters with the "other" reality, my bouts with the unconscious, are indelibly engraved on my memory. 

How do we journey into the "imperishable world"?  Jung had a small place on a lake with a room that only he was allowed to enter.  This is where he did most of his writing and I daresay journeying into that world.  His wife, Emma, who was a brilliant analyst in her own right, took care of hearth and home.  So she is in my heart, as well....the workhorse behind the racehorse.

Jung would say that we are all in each other's hearts from the beginning of time.  As I age, I have moved through the archetypes of maiden to mother and am headed toward wise woman or crone.  These have not been smooth transitions but what has allowed for some small semblance of grace has been turning inward. 
As I return to working more, I have to make such a conscious effort to protect that.  I have no workhorse sweeping my castle:)

The last thing I want to say about Jung is that he believed that all psychological events, even the most disturbing symptoms, have purpose and meaning.  Those symptoms are the psyche's best shot at solving prickly problems and they provide a jumping off point for movement toward health.  It seems a good place to start in doing this work.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


I look at this picture and I can see how I get there, at least once a week.  This is their protected time and it means my time really belongs to them.  But that can lead to quite a state....roving reporter, who happens to also be a crack diagnostician, and not just because we agree most of the time pointed out that I was "heightened" based on all the evidence I had presented which included thinking our passports were not only good for an upcoming trip but would also be good if we had to flee the country.  That, my friends, is heightened.  Your emotional state is razor sharp, no matter which emotion you are leading with; you experience the world as somewhat treacherous; and your friends and family are fair game.  Since I spend some time analyzing others, I thought I would try and figure out how I became heightened this week-end and stayed there.  Somehow getting the passports triggered it.  It is hard enough being in charge of these young lives when I am on my home turf but stick us on a ship and head for another country, and I think my subconscious starts acting like an ass at the post office.  I berated Ed for taking all of our birth certificates and tried to barter with him.  Bartering works not one whit in the passport line at the post office.  Good to know.  It never helps that the more juiced I get, the more Zen-like my husband becomes.  Although admirable on a spiritual level, it is irritating as hell down here on earth.  Throw in 22 sporting events, including coaching myself and I just never came down.  Church didn't do it and running didn't do it.  Now, it is Sunday evening, and I have come to this simple conclusion:  I have always had the gift of becoming heightened and it has served me well many times.  Being a parent has allowed me to develop it into an art form.  So, embrace your crazy energy and let it be the fuel that keeps what Zorba the Greek called the "full catastrophe" going. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Notes from the green field

Glorious Spring has Sprung.  Never mind that tonight the forecast is calling for a rain/snow mix.  Today, we ran on the green grass; picked up stale chips from a previous benefactor and feed the geese; and biked as if our lives depended on it.  One of my favorite short stories is about a girl who lives on a planet where the sun only appears for one day every seven years.  She obsesses about the day the sun will appear and her cruel classmates lock her in a closet and forget about her on the day the sun arrives.  The passage where they finally remember her, after the sun has set, and unlock the closet has stayed in my mind for 30 years.

Spring in New England is a bit like the one day of sunshine.  One can't lament the fact that the trees are still bare and that snow could still drop at any moment.  When the moment comes, you have to seize it, drop everything you are doing, and run.

Conversation while recovering from our one Spring day:

Daughter:  If I do get a tattoo, it is not going to be all over my body but just on the inside of my wrist, like Anna has....

Mom:  What will it say?

Daughter:  Peace and love

Son:  If I have to get a tattoo, there is only one possibility

Mom and Daughter:  What's that?

Son:  The recycling symbol, of course

Bad Ass.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thanks, May

I just finished reading the last journal that May Sarton published entitled, "At Eighty Two".  I don't know when I started reading her journals but my favorite is "Journal of a Solitude".  She was also a poet and novelist and traveled the world.  Her great sorrow was not to be considered a a first rate poet, which I don't think she was.  This last journal you can skip, as well.  It chronicles a deep depression, her ill health and the difficulties of old age.  All those things are admirable to write about but I was left feeling sorrowful for her because she spends so much time on obligation...writing thank you notes for flowers and so little time creating.  My wish for my old age is just the opposite.

Regardless, she falls into the camp of those women who came before, who broke out of society's conventional roles and broke ground for all of us.  She loved women, poetry, and life....especially poetry.  Here is one of her favorites from Yeats, as quoted from her last book:

A Coat

I made myself a coat
Covered with embroideries
Out of old mythologies
From heel to throat.
But the fools caught it,
Wore it in the world's eyes
As though they had brought it.
Song, let them take it,
For there is more enterprise
In walking naked.

Thanks for the poem and the reminder of how much we need our poets.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cold Harbor Trail lessons

A runner could get excited when they see a trail with this title.  One could envision the sound of the waves and the briny air pushing one on to greater distances.  Lesson One:  if you are running in the central part of any state, any trail name with the word "harbor" in it is apt to lead you down a false path.  Lesson Two:  if you stop paying attention to the roots that are lying in wait for you to ponder if there ever was a harbor of any sort anywhere near here, you will fall and have some new things to ponder, like can I run with a sprained ankle?

Lesson Three:  If you stop perseverating on the harbor business, you will begin to notice the beauty that can be found on an early spring day in New England, when the ground is still saturated from snow melt, the tree buds are contemplating busting loose, and the daffodils already said "what the hell".

Lesson Four:  Running can be a form of praying.  Today, my run guided me into thinking less about my time, and more about the day that was enveloping me; less about my creaking knees, and more about the creaking birds; less about me and more about the universe.  Amen, and blessed be

Sunday, April 10, 2011

He's the Man

Son:  Mom, if ever thing went your way, what would that look like?

Me:  I think the house would be cleaner, other than that, everything is pretty much going my way

Son:  If everything went my way, there would be no more war, deforesting, poaching, or pollution.  I think more people should drive solar powered cars too.

Me:  Oh, you are thinking big

Son:  Do you want a do-over?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Weak in Review

Notice my calm visage.  It is all smoke and mirrors, brought on by a quick run that felt spring-like but not so spring like that you still don't need a hat and gloves.  I am blogging less, running less, creating less because I am working more.  The irony is that I am working more for problems that might happen in the future, thus very effectively pulling me out of my present life.  Something has got to shift.

So here is my week in review, just for giggles:
 Monday:  Job interview in town about 30 minutes from here.  With my aforementioned need to shift, thinking it is a good idea to pursue one job instead of 4 part-time gigs.  Spend 15 minutes scrubbing out the ketchup? stain on my one suit.  Spend 15 minutes looking for one heel.  Spend 15 minutes figuring out what to do with my hair.  Spend 15 minutes looking for appropriate shirt to wear under suit.  Realize that I no longer have fluidity when I have to wear anything other than cords and boots.  Exhausted before interview starts.  The interview itself consists of 6 people peppering me with questions for exactly 20 minutes.  How did I do?  I believe I am as rusty at interviewing as I am at getting dressed for the interview.  Also, I have reached the age of a bit of arrogance and inadvertently laughed at one of the younger person's questions. (it was a bit silly).  She did not appear to be amused.  Roving reporter sent me this link to cheer me up:    It did and it will you too. 

Tuesday:  Worked two jobs to make up for taking the interview on Monday.  Met an 87 year old with terminal cancer.  Helped put some things in perspective.

Wednesday:  Rushed to drop off camp forms that are due today for camps that start in July.  Realize that organized people, although sometimes less fun, have an evolutionary step up on the rest of us.  Rush back home to pick up my son for karate.  Husband calls to let me know he has heard from son's teacher and son was inadvertently exposed to pornography at school.  Really?  Son gets in car and we have a talk about pornography, sex, cultural mores, mating, the beauty of the human body, the F-word, spiritual connection to love-making, and mortality.  Did the talk go well?  About as well as the interview.

Thursday:  Long day at the middle school where I work.  Some people got hurt, futures changed in under a minute.  This all went down on a day I wasn't in the building.  I feel like a Picasso painting, fragmented and not put back together in a coherent fashion.

Friday:  Decide that I am not leaving my current job which is probably brought on by my not hearing from the place I interviewed with, how lucky our thoughts match:)  Rush home from work to fix dinner at 4:30, pick kids up from field trip and get them dressed and ready for literacy night.  Daughter is crying because she is a reader and is very anxious.  Son helps situation by stating "what you're feeling now is why I would never do this in a million years".  Daughter faces her fear and gives a great reading.  While relaxing with 300 other parents in the cafeteria, roving reporter reminds me that I have 20 minutes to get across town and pick up daughter's lacrosse uniform from the trunk of a car.  She takes daughter, husband takes son, and I get uniform.

We are all charging through life at this pace, I get that.  I say yes to everything and then spend a lot of time trying to manage it all.  My friends are great at helping me thread the loose ends back into the tapestry but they have their own gigs.  So, next year one sport per kid, no coaching, and one or two less jobs.  There is strength in doing less but doing it more mindfully.

Have a peaceful week-end!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Notes from the Pew

Reverend Judith talked today about a couple of famous New Englanders...John Winthrop and Anne Hutchinson.  John Winthrop got a little agitated when his direct conduit to God was challenged by Ms. Hutchinson who claimed that she was also chatting with God.  So agitated that he excommunicated her and she had to leave the state.  She and her family were killed by Native Americans in New York.  This was all a backdrop to the idea that we are in charge of our religious communities and our relationship with our God.  Back in the day, this was a pretty radical idea.  Now it seems we are too distracted to think about what God is. 

One of the things I like about Sundays and the structure of church is that it forces me to unplug, and become contemplative, at least for an hour.  There is always music and some readings to think about.  For me, that it is pretty damn close to hanging with God.  Today's reading talked about remembering "our highest resolve."  I am so good at lofty resolutions, to whit:
--for every Justice purchase (local kid's store), I will force my daughter to do a real act of justice
--no more canned soda after reading "the history of stuff"
--help a local crafter in need get her goods in the appropriate stores
--renew composting
--get the Eminem song off  my daughter's itouch
--more yoga, more meditation
--less buying
--maybe get the Eminem song off my Ipod
--read some articles on censoring

And so it goes.....our highest resolve, however much we fail should always be our guide.  Every time I pop the top of a can, I need to be reminded of the excessive nature of that act.  Start somewhere and fail because one day, you won't.

Speaking of resolve, Cliff over at is running a  marathon in a couple of weeks.  The cool part of this story is that he wasn't really a runner 9 months ago.  An example of "higher resolve".  I like his blog because I think the Brits have way better curse words.  They sound slightly bemused when in point of fact, they could be going postal.  Happy trails Cliff!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Texans came to town.........

Life is all about the timing.  Last week, I was diagnosed with pneumonia which I never realized you could "catch".  I thought pneumonia was something waiting in the wings for a good cold gone bad:
Pneumonia:  Hey you, you in the trachea....come check out the lungs
Cold:  I'm not supposed to go into the lungs, I'm not sure I could find my way back
Pneumonia:  Just follow me......
So the nurse thinks I picked up pneumonia in one of the nursing homes I have been visiting for work and this happened right before the Texans headed up north for a ski vacation. 

 We soldiered on.....
Kat adopted the Heidi look, very appropriate for the mountains of Central Mass
Next year's Christmas card, perhaps

Isak is a natural boarder, I'm sorry to say.  We tried our best to talk him out of knuckle-dragging, but he would have none of it.  This is a picture of his very first jump.  It ended poorly but it's all about the glory, even if you take a hard fall  It was a great visit, including meeting the french boyfriend.  He was very gracious and did not compare Mt. Wachusetts to the French Alps, even once:
Sometimes you see your family through a stranger's eyes.  I like what I see.  Older cousins who watch out for their younger ones, sisters who reconnect over the miles, and so much laughter, you have to be careful not to pee your pants.  Nothing foreshadows a joke like 40 years of history.  The Texans came to town and it was a great visit.  Happy trails, y'all

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dr. Drew

As a therapist, I try not to think about Dr. Drew all that much.  On a good day, I feel compassion for his narcissism and on a bad day, I am surprised that he doesn't lose his license.  This week, he was the talking head on all the talk shows commenting on Charlie Sheen's disintegration.  Charlie Sheen, rightly so, felt outraged that he was being analyzed from afar.  Lindsey Lohen, Britney Spears....Dr. Drew feels he has the right by lieu of his credentials to go on national television and speak about the addictions or mental health issues of celebrities.  He also fights the good fight on celebrity rehab.  Really?  How is any of this healing for anybody?

When I was in my twenties, I was the president of the Massachusetts Association of Rape Crisis Centers.  I was asked to go on a local talk show as an expert on rape and comment on a case against Mike Tyson.  My "opponent" on the show was a feisty defense lawyer.  What I remember about the taping was that the interview pitted us against one another and the actual facts of the actual case mattered not one bit.  Additionally, in retrospect, I did not know the people involved and really had no business commenting at all.  It is enticing to be thought of as an expert, but it is a false path.

So, Dr. is some advice from one therapist to another.  Put the camera down and get back to slogging through the mud.  You do not honor the stories or victories of your clients by breaking their confidentiality, even with their blessing.  One of the biggest emerging drugs in our culture is the incessant need for fame and exposure.  I don't think you are facilitating lasting recovery without tackling that addiction, both in yourself and in your clients.

Friday, February 25, 2011

How I spent my winter vacation....

So much for my dream of delving into fractals....and so it always goes.  My daughter had a bigger vision, and it included a lot of manual labor from me.  To her credit, she pitched in as did my husband.  A separate post might be about how an engineer and a social worker paint a room together.  Our old house will never be remodeled in any kind of extensive way because it would cost us a big part of our relationship.  I now know this to be true.  I also learned that it is a day wasted at Home Depot to try and talk my daughter out of her designated paint color "Barely Sage".  I did manage to talk her out of "Coriander Seed" for the trim by telling her it looked like poo.  Which it did.  She told me that "Whispering Birches" would be too light for trim.  Which it is.  For those keeping score, I'm down a point but I made the realization that my daughter has a better eye for design than I do.

So what I really did over winter vacation is continue to admire the artistry of my daughter.  Her room is shaping up beautifully, and we will put the finishing touches on the forest room by taking a road trip to IKEA to pick up a shag green "grass" rug.  She also wants me to hunt down some bamboo for her indoor garden.  When I look at the room, I see the artist she is and the artist she will be.  Fractals can wait.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Me and Yoga

Woman in Lotus Position Doing Yoga with the Tao Symbol Clipart Picture

Yoga:  You want to come over later and do some downward dog?
Me:  You know the last time I came over, you started with downward dog and then things got a little wild.....
Yoga:  I would not call The Pigeon wild, you have got to center yourself and breathe through the pain
Me:  Pain, that's just it, I'm supposed to be blissed out when I'm hanging out with you and yet after 15 years, still so much pain.  Also, while I'm at it, I still can't touch the floor when I'm bending from the waist down.  A lot of broken promises, yoga.
Yoga:  You want to talk broken promises?  You think I don't know about running, undoing everything we have done together?  And what about tele-skiing?  You couldn't even enjoy the child's pose because of what you did.  Don't deny it.  Namaste my ass.
Me:  Now the truth comes out.  You need me to give up running.  By the way, running is perfectly happy for me to do all the poses I want.  Seems like running might be a bit more enlightened than we thought, heh?
Yoga:  Running will leave you as soon as your joints go, you know it, I know it.  I'm in it for the long haul.  So you don't get butterflies or a big adrenalin rush.  Those things are distractions.  I'm not going to beg but know that when you are broken, battered, and bruised, I will be here waiting.
Me:  I do know that yoga, I do know that.  Maybe we should go away for a few days together.  I could work on pigeon and you could work on that temper.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A few thoughts on Fractals before Winter Vacation

Who gets to define who we are?  I have become increasingly aware that it is not only ourselves, defining ourselves.  I know who I think I am and who I want to be but that is one fractal, really.  Don't get me started on fractals.  I can't tell you what they are exactly, but I think they may be the key to unifying some things.  They are actually geometric shapes that can be divided into infinity.  It is clear that I am over-identified with fractals because I feel that I can be divided into infinity.  Start thinking about where you started and where you are now. 

I started as a beloved daughter and granddaughter and now see my mother in my daughter and we divide.  Samsara.  Over and over again until we bust through.  I try and contemplate my divisions, throughout the ages but the noise in this time and moment blocks the longer view and a deeper understanding.  I sense it rippling under the surface but it is elusive and can only be touched upon in silence.  Of which I don't have access to lately.

So here is my stated intention for Winter Vacation:  Bone up on fractals so what I write about them makes a bit of sense.  Sit in silence.  Be damned grateful for all the lifetimes that have led me to this post in this moment at the beginning of a vacation.  What a gift.