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.