Thursday, December 19, 2013

Winter Solstice Poem (my actual favorite)

Each winter solstice, I put together a "Solstice Sack" to celebrate one of my favorite holidays and to remind all of us New Englanders that the light will return.

This year, my favorite poem didn't make the Sack, as it could be construed as a death poem and I don't want to make the kiddos cry:)  It was the best one, however:

Lines for Winter

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
 you find yourself--
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon's gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.
                                                                        Mark Strand

Winter is a happy time up here in the North!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

State of the Union

You know how presidents feel compelled to address the nation about the state of the union?  How far we have to go to achieve social justice, universal healthcare, and global warming?  I feel the same way about turning 50.  Compelled to share my wisdom, plead for unity in my house of representatives, and set a course for the next few years.  Turning 50 feels quite different than the other landmark years.  I have no urge to get a tattoo, move to Nepal, or take up paddle boarding.  I still may do all of those things but in a more peaceful manner.  Out with the wolf on the bicep, in with the OM mantra so I can still chant when I lose my memory.

It's nice to be past the mid-life crisis point and on to the spiritual crisis point in my trajectory.  My big move will not be to dye my hair, pierce some parts, and lose a few pounds.  My big move is to continue to move inward.  Talk less, judge less, care less.  Just realizing for the first time the connection between "careless" and "care less".  Pay attention to subtleties .  Luckily, I married well for that one.

Appreciate the mortality of my parents, and everyone.  It is all so fleeting.

I am proudest of my relationships.  My family.  My  friendships reflect well on me (for having the good sense to pick them).  The people in my life rock in all kinds of amazing ways.  They write and teach and solve equations and make music and art and history.  They protest and help those without much power.  They all have integrity and courage and that is how I have those things.  At 50 you know that you draw strength from people who put the shopping carriages back and do what they say they are going to do.  People who forgive and show compassion, even when it hurts one's own pride to do so.

At 50, I'm hanging on to the physical side of myself because I have young kids and because I want to keep moving forward.  I have learned that I can still run with the Navy ROTC guys for the first mile in a 5K and then I will nurse a groin injury for 2 months after that fleeting 7:45.  2 months and counting, actually.  Pace yourselves:)

These are the things I think my younger  friends need to find:  yoga, a supportive bra, a favorite poet, good pressed powder, a compassionate pediatrician (if applicable) and one good joke.  It just has to be funny to you.......I was addicted to the Hokey Pokey, but I turned it all around.

So this is me at 50.  Proud of who I am, where I'm from and most of all....who I love.  Peace to you all!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


We have been in a frenzy over here preparing for Thanksgiving, hosting Thanksgiving, and storing 3 gravy boats from Thanksgiving.  It was an amazing day and I may do it again someday.  Nobody got food poisoning, so that increases our chances.

While we were turning the office into a dining room, I had to go through piles of papers, books, and detritus.

I found an old dog-eared copy of Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  Married to an alleged Nazi sympathizer, first born kidnapped and murdered and yet out of that pain came such a beautiful and elegantly written gift to women.  Following on the heels of Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain, it was a welcome balm:

     With a new awareness, both painful and humorous, I begin to understand why the saints were rarely married women.  I am convinced it has nothing inherently to do, as I once supposed, with chastity or children.  It has primarily to do with distractions.  The bearing, rearing, feeding, and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationships with their myriad pulls--woman's normal occupations in general run counter to creative life.......It is more basically:  how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.

I need to revisit some of her wisdom as I enter the holiday Tsunami season.  My hub is not cracked but it seems to be veering off the road on occasion.

Of all the books to reappear, this one is truly serendipitous.  As my darling children scream and throw socks at each other, in an inescapable game they play daily called "Stinky Feet", I give a silent prayer of thanks for the wise women who carved out enough time to pass on their wisdom.    

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Greatest Generation

My stepfather's father died this month at the age of 91.  Lt Col. Frank Crook joined the air force 10 days after Pearl Harbor on the day he turned 20 years old.  He was a fighter pilot and later served in the Korean War.  He traveled all over the world and retired to Shreveport LA.

I knew him as a kind, generous man who was always by the side of his wife Joyce.  I never saw the two of them apart.  For the past ten years, they sent cards to my children every Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.  A ten dollar bill always fell out when they opened up the holiday greeting.

This afternoon, when I grabbed the mail, I saw two cards addressed to Luke and Emma in beautiful script that will soon be extinct in the modern world.  As they opened up their Happy Thanksgiving cards, the money fell out, as expected.

In the middle of her heartbreak, Joyce remembered to send my children their cards.  I am simply stunned by our elders and their adherence to doing things in a mindful and honorable way.

As I ponder the loss of the greatest generation, I hope that somewhere along the way, we pick up some of their habits.

God Bless you Lt. Col Crook.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Something is bugging me

Whenever I get stressed, I get psychosomatic lice.  It is such an odd thing to be terrified of, really but those of us who have been down that road never forget.  I tried to get my husband to check my head at 4:00am this morning but he has learned to pace himself, and refused to wake up.  I had a colleague do it at work, very professional but I had to know.  "Just Dandruff" she says jauntily.  Whew.  All clear.  Except for the underlying anxiety that drives me to think I have lice about once every 3 months.

I am reading a biography of Thomas Merton, a Catholic Trappist monk who talks about  his sinful life before his conversion experience.  At the top of his list was his fascination with Freud and Jung and the "false God" of psychoanalysis.  He attributes getting a young woman pregnant and fleeing Oxford for America to that particular cult which ultimately lead him to Columbia which ultimately lead him to God.  A circuitous route.

I worship at both the shrine of modern psychological thought and the mysterious unknown of spiritual contemplation.  Which can shed light on our fears and peccadillos?

I looked up the Freudian interpretation of bugs and found that in dreams, bugs are considered symbolic of cares and anxieties.  They are considered projections of our own disowned human behavior.  Never was much of a Freudian so onto the Jungian interpretation of  insect phobias:

To this day God is the name by which
I designate all things which cross my
willful path, violently and recklessly
All things which upset my views
plans, and intentions
And change the course of my life for
better or worse.

God has landed on my head.

Or the fear of God.

I wonder what Earwigs symbolize?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Keeping Faith

Mom is back in the hospital.  My thoughts are with her and her recovery.  I have written and erased this post three times which leads me to believe that my feelings are a bit complicated about her experience as a patient.  The important piece of information is that she is getting the help she needs.

Times have changed.  We no longer have a neighborhood doctor who goes to church with us and knows our families.  We have three different primary care physicians in our family and I have the following additional doctors:  cardiologist, neurologist, rheumatologist, physical therapist, gynecologist, and hematologist.  I love some of them and suffer through the arrogance of the others.  I currently have been trying to get an appointment with my cardiologist for 3 weeks.  His office will not call me back because I am fine.  Which begs the question of why I have to see him every year?  Let me go, please.

I am no better or worse a patient than my parents.  When I am sick, I  pretend to feel better than I do; I hate hospitals, and I am the boss of me.  The doctor who knows all of that about me will be retiring any second now.  She will be replaced by a 12 year old who I will hate initially but will hopefully come to grudgingly respect.  I can't wait.  Really.

So, what it really boils down to is that I am feeling grateful that the imperfect system we have in place managed to catch my mom as she was falling.  I will try and keep the faith in our medical system, against the odds.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Notes from the Pew

I'm really enjoying not teaching RE this fall.  I love the curriculum, I love the kids, and I love Margaret (our RE director) but I also love hearing sermons.  When I chose to attend church as an adult, I initially made that decision because I wanted to give my kids a spiritual framework.  I also wanted a free thinking group of folks who could band together when we saw injustice in the world and make a difference.  Of course, the UU's spend a lot of time thinking about which particular injustice should get our time and resources but we always eventually land on something.  I have said before that every Sunday I attend I end up singing and crying.  Without fail.  That is worth the price of admission on it's own.  As I was crying this week, I had the thought that crying is soul work because we are opening up and letting wisdom/emotion/pain flow through.  It is often tears of joy but not always.  I also had the thought that crying is not about weakness and that our culture has that wrong.

But there is more.....this Sunday a group of parishioners spoke about what they believe.  All ages, all races, and all cultural backgrounds.  The youngest is 12 and the oldest in her 60's.  All spoke from the heart about the importance of taking responsibility for one's actions (12), believing in the unlimited potential of the human race (16), and the extraordinary in the ordinary (60's).  The stories were inspirational and the honesty and openness, inspiring.

Changes are happening in my beloved community.  I am on the committee to find candidates for an interim ministerial position.  Judith is retiring to pursue her own spiritual quest.  She was the perfect minister for me and so many others.  I can't imagine anyone else as my spiritual teacher and then I receive a teaching from a 12 year old.

As I grapple with Judith's last year of ministry with us, I promise to stay open to the new possibilities.  I also promise to do my best at finding balanced candidates to help us bridge the gap as we let go of the known and move toward the unknown.

This guy plays it better:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013



My sister had a childhood friend who ended up sleeping with all of our boyfriends and some of our husbands but I digress.....she was a single mom who said "I just see extra work when it comes to birthdays and holidays."  This morning when my husband told me his workmates had put together a Halloween extravaganza for the children of employees, I said, "Aren't they too old for that?"

Sometimes, in the whirl of life I forget how blessed I am that life is whirling.  Bitterness sneaks up on the back of fatigue so I am headed out to yoga to knock it off.

My little red riding hood and Neo were not too old.  It was me.


Do you want your kids to be happy or to be accomplished?  People who are good at things have put in some pain time.  And that brings me to yoga.  I spent the bulk of last night, as I do most Tuesdays, trying not to cry or vomit.  My teacher is not unduly hard but I am unduly broken.  It is not relaxing or easy and I am not happy while doing it.  Yet every Tuesday I go because I know that I have to try and undo some of what I have done to myself.  I am trying to figure out where the drive to do hard, unpleasant things for a greater good comes from.  How do we teach it?  Can we teach it?  I just know that we need to.....


I noticed today that I am not creating enough art.  For the first time in many years, I did not make origami bats with some of my students.  Never mind that nobody came down to guidance and said, "hey, where are all the cool origami bats"?  To be balanced is to, music, a line up a cliff, or an origami bat.  Tonight, I am starting on Christmas gifts, while watching the Sox win the world series.  Surely.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

You can't rant with a lama

Well, it wasn't the lack of sleep.  I am still surly.  Perhaps, along with one's teeth and knees and bowels, one's patience ages?  I cut off a team member today in the middle of her haranguing a parent because a.  I could as the chair of the meeting...b.  She was being unkind.....and c.  My patience has a patina.  It glows with wisdom and then cracks wide open.

I think I'm OK with this state of things.  As a younger therapist, I worked my tail off to see every point of view and made sure I was operating from an unbiased stance.  There is no such thing and not everything is deserving of equal time.  Too much patience leads to collusion and an avoidance of saying hard truths.  I'm done being accepting and understanding of teachers who don't honor students.  Truly and completely done.

Lovingkindness                    by H.H. the XIV Dalai Lama

Right from the moment of our birth
We are under the care and kindness of our parents.
And then later on in our lives
when we are oppressed
by sickness
and become old,
we are again dependent
on the kindness of others.

Since at the beginning
and end of our lives
we are so dependent on
others' kindness,
how can it be
that in the middle
we neglect kindness
towards others?

I will begin anew tomorrow:)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Back in Texas

I'm in Houston, in no small part to the heroic efforts of family and friends who are stepping up and in while I am away. If you want to see how you will look when you are 80, get up at 3:30 in the morning and ride a couple of vans and a plane to travel out of state. Then talk to 37 health care providers on a Friday who are contemplating discharging your mother without a solid plan in place. Finally, FaceTime your kids that night with your chin tucked into your neck so the camera angle captures all possible folds.

Make no mistake, there are two health care systems in this country: one for patients with resources, one for patients without. Our family is lucky but even in a great hospital, you have to advocate for appropriate treatment. In between tracking down doctors, making and receiving calls yesterday I thought about the fate of the patients who were in that same hospital alone.

I find it a bit ironic that I am in the state that is producing the jackass that is trying to take down universal healthcare at the same time I'm realizing we need even more. I was proud to hear my mom issue a tirade to that effect even in the midst of her pain yesterday.

The good news is that my lack of sleep has not made me surly:)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, September 20, 2013

Headed back

Good news on the Cancer front:  Mom came through a 10 hour surgery and the docs assure us that they got it all.  I'm headed out in a few days to help in the recovery process and to get "boots on the ground."

I started hearing that phrase as Congress and the President lobbied back and forth about what to do in Syria.  I am so very tired of the idea that surgical strikes can only harm the bad guys.  There must be a place we can evolve into that doesn't involve killing people.  Surgeons work for 10 hours in teams to save a life and  yet we talk so casually about taking others.  I sometimes wonder if my political beliefs are sagging just like my.....well, other parts.

So I ponder the metaphysics of it all....which life is worth saving and which is expendable.  Which lives I would give my life for and I think back to the dharma talk I attended a couple of months ago.  Geishe Dondup told his audience that we achieve enlightenment when we feel about everyone in the world the same way we feel about our children.  When we are willing to sacrifice everything for the solider on the other side of the world we have never met.

Meanwhile, I rolled my eyes at 4 people today (2 of which deserved it, 2 of which it's just reflexive now) and I stopped speaking to my husband when he played soccer on a night I wanted to chat.  I have to start smaller.

So I'm homeward bound.  Bound we are, indeed.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Desert Places

Desert Places
Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow, 
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it--it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less--
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars--on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.                              Robert Frost

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Back to school

Parenting breaks you wide open.  We all know it and think we are already open but there is always room for more, always.

This week, youngest went to middle school for the first time.  She of the wild colt energy took such care with preparations, I had to hold back tears every step of the way so she didn't think I had some rare disorder that causes inopportune crying.  She laid out 4 different red shirts one evening to examine the differences in hue, sleeve length, and feel.  We went back to school shopping in June as Staples is one of her favorite stores, and she has rearranged pencils until they need to be sharpened again.  The night before the big day she washed and braided her hair so it would bounce the first day of school.  No detail was overlooked.  She was ready.  I am never ready but have learned to fake it just a bit.

Eldest was also going to a new school for the first time since kindergarten without his best friends, who moved to the next town.  He bravely told me about sitting alone in the cafeteria and rushed to add "I know you are going to worry about this mom but don't, I will figure it out."  And he did.  I didn't even have to email the assistant principal, his homeroom teacher, or the adjustment counselor.

I didn't feel anxious this time around but continue to fight back tears.  I see the people they are becoming and I know that I will be broken apart the widest when they are ready to leave for good.  Until then, I will continue to practice. sis is bringing up my nephew to college this week-end.  We get him close to us for the next several years.  Yippee!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Put some Teeth Into it.....

My dentist is a great guy.

Episode One

Several months ago, I did a week-end certification program to become a yoga teacher.  It was great fun but left my legs a little wobbly.  So that was the perfect time to go on a trail run with my hubby who likes to see how far I can stretch before I break.  As I rounded the bend on Cold Harbor Trail (no water in sight) I caught a root and went down.  In a heroic attempt to save my IPhone, I took all my body weight on the non-phone carrying side.  The phone was saved.  Whew.  Alas, I jacked up my hand, chipped a tooth, and banged up my leg.  What to do?  Immediately call my dentist.  Lovely Betsy asks if I can get into the office in fifteen minutes.  Of course I can as long as I don't stop to wash off the twigs, blood, dirt, and possibly a couple of insect remains on my person.

I walk into the office and lovely Betsy almost falls out of her chair to get me hustled to the back so I "don't scare people."

"What is wrong with you?"
"I chipped a tooth."
"Why are you covered in blood?"
"I tripped on a root, thus the chipped tooth."
"Teeth don't bleed."

You would think the folks in the dentist office would be used to a little blood but I learned that day that they like it to remain in the mouth.   Nothing to be done about the tooth but they all encouraged me to go home and wash up. Dr. P was a champ.  

Episode Two

My hubby likes to give me running advice.  I can get a little persnickety when he offers me tips on what to do when I run.....wear a heart monitor, tell people the route you are running, watch out for roots, etc.  I decided to turn over a new leaf.  He offered me gummy protein blocks so I wouldn't bonk on the Rail Trail, a longish hot run in mid summer.  Love in a gelatinous form.

At the midway point, I stopped at the trail head and popped a gummy block.  As I was chewing, I became quite confused as it seemed there was a small nut in the middle of my treat.  I spit it out to take a look.  Imagine my surprise when the top part of my tooth, the cap, was embedded in the block.  I was so surprised that I had to share the news with an older gentleman who was trying to use the Porta Potty:

"I just lost a tooth", I said to him as I moved in to show him.  Sadly, he was backed against the Porta Potty and had no where to go, really.

"That is unfortunate", says he.

Now we seem to be good buddies because he is there for me in my time of crisis:

"What should I do?" says I.

"Put it in your pocket and call your dentist."  Wise man.

As it was a Saturday, I got the crisis number which turns out to be my dentist's cellphone.

"This is Steve (name changed to protect my dentist who has to take patients like me)."

Me, thinking that Steve and I are good buddies because I saw him 4 months ago, reply with,
"Steve, it is Kayla"
"Who is this?"
"I'm sorry Dr. P......, this is Kayla D, one of your patients....I've got another running related tooth injury."

Some take aways for you:  when your dentist tells you to cut down on your running to save your teeth, something is out of balance; be very careful when you try and hang with my husband, and true friends can always be found near a porta potty.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Summer Pics

It is about that time. Time to say goodbye to the easy rhyme of summer and gear up for the frenetic pace of back to school, back to soccer, and new this year, badminton tournaments in far away cities and states.

I didn't accomplish what I thought I would but as my dear friend said this morning "perhaps we have hit these roadblocks because we need to sit with our research for awhile."  I just finished a painful book entitled "Crisis in the Modern World", written by a French metaphysician.  That should have been warning enough, really.  He talked about the Western need for action vs the Eastern ability to just sit with things the way they are.  Gross stereotyping but some kernel of truth.  How do we learn to just sit with what is?

This summer, we lost Bill and have struggled to accept the cancer diagnosis of a loved one.  These things are out of my control, as is the past and all that could have been said or done differently.  I continue to  work on  being fully present for it all, but admit to watching all of "Orange is the New Black" on NetFlix in one binge driven day.  "Luther" was next but I think I got it out of my system.

As I look at these pictures, I am reminded that amid all the pain were moments of pure joy.

Fruitlands, Purgatory Chasm, and Max.

Goodbye Summer 2013, we hardly knew ye.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Book of Awe

This is our Book of Awe. I usurped the idea from a creative blogger whom I can't remember so can't properly credit. I decided to start last week after attending a dharma talk with Geishe Dondup on compassion. He supports this wonderful organization:

My son and I both wrote about his talk in our first entry. Emma wrote about jewelry making, and Scott about climbing. The idea is to write together, as a family, once a week about something that has moved you.

This week, we talked about connecting with old friends, a beautiful wedding, and the joy of meadow runs and crashing waves. Cultivate Awe. It is a habit worth strengthening.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Syrup Summer

Each summer seems to have a theme or a raison d'etre.  Last summer or maybe the summer before, I felt compelled to bring a little left bank to my small New England town and start think tank salons with all my gal friends.  They didn't bite or I didn't push or both.  We remain salon-less unless you count our fancy hairdos.

This is the Syrup Summer.  Everything is hot and hazy and slow moving.  I seem to be stuck in a kind of lethargy brought on by humidity and grief and yearning to be free of something.  Sometimes, it is my kids reciting the same litany of complaints:  WE are bored, we are bored, we are bored.  How can that be when you have been in nonstop camps since the end of June?  You have biked, hiked, crafted, swam in the ocean, in ponds, made smores, caught fireflies, frogs, and butterflies.  I'm working up a little lecture on negative space.....the need to experience solitude and read and do nothing to appreciate the canvas of life.  They are not biting.  Maybe they are trapped in syrup too.

In the syrup summer, I am worried about the health of  a loved one.  The bigger than life elder in the clan who I can't imagine going anywhere except to raise hell somewhere.  We love you and are with you in this.

So, swim on through the sickly sweet substance that has you in it's grasp.  Even if it is just an overdone metaphor.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Time Past

My taste in poetry has changed:)

A Time Past

The old wooden steps to the front door
where I was sitting that fall morning
when you came downstairs, just awake,
and my joy at sight of you (emerging
into golden day—
the dew almost frost)
pulled me to my feet to tell you
how much I loved you:

those wooden steps
are gone now, decayed
replaced with granite,
hard, gray, and handsome.
The old steps live
only in me:
my feet and thighs
remember them, and my hands
still feel their splinters.

Everything else about and around that house
brings memories of others—of marriage,
of my son. And the steps do too: I recall
sitting there with my friend and her little son who died,
or was it the second one who lives and thrives?
And sitting there ‘in my life,’ often, alone or with my husband.
Yet that one instant,
your cheerful, unafraid, youthful, ‘I love you too,’
the quiet broken by no bird, no cricket, gold leaves
spinning in silence down without
any breeze to blow them,
is what twines itself
in my head and body across those slabs of wood
that were warm, ancient, and now
wait somewhere to be burnt.

Denise Levertov

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bite of mindfulness

It has been too hot to function in the Northeast so that has given us all an excuse to go off the res, or to go off the mat. Be careful out there on the edges.

I practice yoga on Tuesday nights with folks who have been namasting together for years. Our teacher takes no crap for a blissed out yogini so it is no use complaining about the heat. She does have seeds of compassion in her and told us to get off the mat and practice on the cool floor. The practice of yoga builds heat and as the night wore on, the floor became a welcome balm.

I have blogged at length about my complicated relationship with yoga and suffice it to say we continue our uneasy partnership. I feel after 15 years of doing a blessed forward bend, I should be able to touch the blessed floor, but god bless it, that is not the case. Often, my yoga teacher shakes her head sadly while she is watching me in a pose but we continue gamely on together. That night it felt good to make it through the heat to the pay off of shivasna.

The corpse pose. Not aptly named, as it turned out, because when a corpse is bitten by an ant she does not grab her back, let lose a stream of obscenities, and lunge for her yoga block to kill the murderous little vermin.

I will say this, I did not disturb my fellow practitioners. I quickly thought of Thich nhat Hanh's teachings about incorporating distractions into one's practice and letting them become a path to mindfulness.

The ant is no longer with us but I am grateful for his lesson, showing me how far I have to go. As for the heat, it can turn you into a cold blooded killer, right in the middle of reaching for something else.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer Pensees

We are back from New Hampshire where we did not even remotely come close to killing anyone on a ridge hike. Promise.

I picked up a copy of Gary Snyder's book "The Practice of the Wild" which is worth reading. He writes in a gentle, but compelling way about the importance of remembering that the wild is the real world and all of our constructions have moved many of us out of balance. He also talks about the importance of place. We feel that when we are visiting our friends in New Hampshire and marvel at the previous generation's foresight in creating community for the folks who came after.

I am out of balance not because I have been out of the wild but because my ninja book club is reading "Infinite Jest".....I finished the 1400 pages plus tome and can say no more except that it was worth the time. Hurry up my ninja friends, I do have some thoughts about it. I will say this, he writes as authentically about addiction as I have read. Can I say that as a non addict but as someone who has done addiction counseling? That swings us over into literary relativism which I like to steer clear of so I will just move on to the next thought......

My son is attending camp with a lot of older kids. He is headed out tomorrow for 3 days and 2 nights for the first time. This growing up thing has some drawbacks. Day 1: "mom, this is torture, you know social situations are not my thing".
Day 2: "I think I will attend this camp each year until I go to college".

I am supposed to be working on a book, refinancing the house, and planning some kind of big celebration for our 50's. We might just sneak off to Holland.

Enjoy the flow of summer, when "the song sings itself".

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Summer started this year with a whirlwind trip to Texas to celebrate Tiny's marriage to Dave.  Tiny is my sister who, unbeknownst to me, has been passing herself off as the tall one in the family while I have been trying to survive up in the Northeast.  At her outdoor celebration, 110 degrees and that is not even hyperbole, I passed on to 80 of her nearest/dearest friends that "Tiny" was her nickname growing up.  Although technically not the truth then, it is my truth now.
Check out Finger pistol's website and listen to the song "Still in Texas."  They posted a great picture of Kat and Dave and they absolutely kept the crowd from fainting from the heat with their amazing music.  My nephew, Isak, who is coming on up here to attend Berklee College of Music and my stepdad played beautiful sets as well.  I had a heat induced epiphany that night that Texas creates such amazing musicians because it is too damn hot to do anything else.

We head out tomorrow for our favorite summer get away with our dear friends Dave and Ruth who invite us up every year to New Hampshire.  We are beyond blessed with generous friends and loving family.  I was able to get away to Texas because Scott's sister took the kids for a couple of days.  Another aunt/uncle are taking them to the Cape in a couple of weeks.  Dad masterminded my surprise visit to Texas and I can honestly say that it is the first time in my life that both my mom and sister were speechless:)

So, as I compile my bucket list for the summer, I find myself just wanting to catch up with the community that I sometimes neglect in the chaos of the year.  I will see you soon.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

And the beat goes on....

Today was a day of celebration and joy. The bear, along with many dear friends, celebrated graduating 4th grade. Some of the gals looked a little like wobbly colts in their first pair of high heels but you could see the women that they will become. Some of the boys opted for a more casual look with a tie and flip flops. I see them headed to Austin:)

I know she is ready for her next adventure, and I have the summer to catch up to her.

Monday, June 17, 2013


It seems like I was just writing about what an amazing woman Gert was. She passed away peacefully last summer. Bill could not remember that she was gone and grieved for her anew, every single day until June 9th, when he
died after sustaining a fall. His family had this to say about him in his eulogy:

In his final years Dad had no short term memory and couldn't connect events beyond about a minute. I have sometimes tried to imagine what it would be like to never know how you have gotten to the moment that you are currently in. More often I have just marveled at the qualities of outlook, trust in your fellow man, and confidence in yourself that would be required to face each new moment like this with the calm and happiness that Dad displayed. He kept these qualities until the end as he flashed us the thumbs up and hummed a happy song through the oxygen mask.
"You Are My Sunshine," was one of Dad’s favorite songs. Matt remembers being a young child and learning to sing this song with his Grandpa. While it was written as a lover’s song, so much of it could just as easily apply to Dad. He was the sunshine for all of us. And Mom was his sunshine.
Not only was Dad an amazing grandfather and father, he was a wonderful husband to Mom. He used to tell us about how he met Mom on the boat to Provincetown and every time he told the story he had a sparkle in his eye. You could feel the love they had for each other. Amy remembers him telling her that he still got butterflies in his stomach when Nana walked in the room. They were inseparable to the end, holding hands or smiling at each other. They were in love throughout their entire marriage. Dad would say things like "no wonder I fell in love with her." He would tell her she was the most beautiful person in the room. Dad always said he did not care what they did or where they went as long as he was with her. When Mom passed away Dad said he will "see her in his dreams." Now he is with her again.

Many of Scott's friends came to the wake. They all said the same thing: "he made me want to be as good a man as he was."

I say this: Bill, you taught your sons/daughter how to love and that is how revolutions begin. You were a warrior for peace and I will love and treasure you always. I truly hope you and Gert are locked in an eternal embrace.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A poem for Mother's Day by A.E. Stallings


The finery of childhood--let them wear
It every day, in rain or shine. Don't lose
Your temper over patent leather shoes
Mud-puddle deep, or fret over Easter frocks,
Hand-smocked, that meet with chocolate or paint,
Let Sunday- best be mussed, new trousers tear,
Elbows of pure wool cardigans be rent
Let silken ribbons stray, mismatch lace socks,
Let grape juice stain. For Someday comes to call
And finds the garment now too tight, too small,
Outmoded, out of season, itchy, quaint,
Stored up in lavender and mothballs. Let
Joy sport it's raiment while still bright and loose,
Let what cannot be saved or spared be spent.
It's fitting: what is theirs is not your own,
The finery they did not spoil with use
That lies in drawers, unblemished and outgrown.
A.E. Stallings

Friday, May 3, 2013

Kindness Cowgirls

I don't post much about work because I shouldn't.  I work with wonderful kids, staff, and families but they certainly do not want their comings and goings posted and analyzed by me.  Still, today felt special and I know my partner won't mind if I post a picture from our Kindness Karnival.....I know, I know...we did the fake letter match thing:

(She is 9 months pregnant, by the way, and looks phenomenal).

Some of the kids we work with wanted to find a creative way to combat bullying and affirm the values of kindness and compassion we all need to hang onto.  Especially after the acts of violence that ripped through our state.

So, we held a Kindness Karnival today.  We laughed, and raced ducks, and walked the track for those neighbors who are struggling to get back on their feet in rehab right down the road.

It felt good to be a kindness cowgirl today.  Really good.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Here are a few shots that captured the week:

Inspiration Point, Texas Lions Camp

 Texas Lions Camp, Circa 1954
Near Enchanted Rock, where Sis is getting married

 2 generations of cousins
Guest of Honor, turning 70

Bluebonnets a Blooming

What a week we had; family, friends, wildflowers, BBQ, new cowboy hats, Shiner Bock, listening to the elders, and just catching some sun.  Thanks to all my Texan clan.  I love you.

Monday, April 22, 2013

new words

I was in Texas on April 15th, my home away from home.  We were slowly gathering from all over the country to celebrate my mom's 70th birthday on Friday.  Kat and I were pondering the table decorations and how much BBQ to order when a frantic call came in from France.  Her oldest daughter was trying to make sense of the news she had heard of a bomb going off at the Boston Marathon.

The next hour was spent trying to track down the people I love who either run or watch the marathon each year.  Tears poured down my face as I tried to explain to my daughter that I was just so, so sad and worried about family and friends.

"It's going to be alright, Sweetheart, it's going to be alright."  Later, when it was time to fly back to Boston, this same daughter struggled with overcoming her fears of getting on a plane and heading back to a city that had recently been shut down for a day.

"Daddy and I are not going to put you in a situation that is not safe."

We made it home safely and I began to process the stories of terror and fear that surrounded my loved ones that week:  the mother and two children who walked out of the chaos back to Fenway park, praying and crying; the family that could not fly home because the airspace around Boston was shut down; and the friend who stayed inside most of the week.

I listened to these "wicked strong" natives and I heard the change in their voices as they pondered their city, different today than it was a week ago.  Not much I could say.

Then I realized that the loss we are all grappling with is the loss of words.  I can no longer tell my children that I will not put them in harm's way, because I no longer know where the danger lies.  Celebratory events are rigged with explosives designed to maim and kill innocents.  I can't tell them that the world is a safe place.

So we will have to come up with new words.  Words that describe the runners who kept on running straight to the hospitals to donate blood.  Words that tell the story of the first responders who rushed back into the smoke.  Words that praise all the medical personal who saved lives by the dozens.
Words of compassion for those broken enough to kill.  Words for the children who witnessed such horror but will not be defined by it.

Today, a week after the event, I have never been prouder of my adopted city, and all the modern day patriots that will find new words of hope, resilience, and healing.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ode to the bookstore

Yesterday was Luke's first competitive badminton tournament:

When they say competitive, that is what they mean, he lost all four games:)
I have been reading a lot about building resiliency in kids and this author talks about the importance of failure and how we have been protecting them too much from real world consequences. Happily, the world of competitive badminton does not offer that protection:)

It was a long day, with a lot of down time. Luckily, I remembered that one of the best bookstores in the state was right down the road from the playing venue. Big shout out to New England Mobile
Book fair.

I had about an hour, and no plan. Since I am doing research for a book, I headed to the education section and picked up "my kid's an honor student, your kid's a loser" and Robert Coles "the secular mind". Then, onto philosophy for "the death of character" and "om at home".

Finally, poetry for "the best of contemporary Irish poetry".

No time for history, fiction, or art which saved me some money. It was a ninja strike on borrowed time.

Did I mention all these books are used? I know buying used books is not a joy my children will have, so my new philosophy is to buy double and let them shop our bookshelves some day:)

Finally, I will share a quote from the first book from my haul I am reading:

Again and again our professor would make that distinction for us:  the world of action , the world of reflection --and ask us, always, whether the latter qualified as the former.

Robert Coles commenting on a seminar he took at Harvard with theologian Paul Tillich

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Poem of the day

On top

All this new stuff goes on top
turn it over, turn it over
wait and water down
from the dark bottom
turn it inside out
let it spread through
Sift down even.
Watch it sprout.

A mind like compost.
            --Gary Snyder

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Guild

Sometimes, I get in over my head. Could be on the slopes, at work, committing my son to a Dungeon and dragons tournament without asking him( sorry about that on so many levels). This week, it was agreeing to attend the local Artist's guild meeting, a group composed primarily of working fine artists.

My daughter's art teacher is such a gentle soul. He and I worked together a few years ago trying to establish a non profit art council in town with other like minded folks. It didn't go but he is always working on getting artists together.

So, cut to Monday night. I'm sitting in a room of working artists, mean age about 60 and they are the real deal. The facilitator of the meeting lays art supplies on the table and encourages us to draw like Van Gogh.

My table mates kept waiting for my rough sketch to flesh out. Some of their pieces were more Van Gogh than his were. My husband asked me why I was drawing gunslinger gumbys. Imagine my joy when we had to stand up and do a "walkabout". Painful and humbling.

Now, a week later, I have a different take on the whole experience. As we get older, we follow along the ruts we have created for ourselves because they are familiar and seemingly keep the wagon on the trail. It takes courage to veer off and create a new path, even for a night. But I think we have to. I think we have to expose ourselves and continue to reach for what we might become.

What is an artist? Some one who creates something new. And you can't say gunslinging gumbys are not new. Especially ones on Mars.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Make a little music for the earth beneath your foot

Today, it is a sunny 35 degrees but you can feel it coming. We skied on heavy, wet snow yesterday which is yet another sign. We will have one more big snowstorm and we don't put away winter clothes until the end of April but still, the light is coming back.

New Englanders are who they are because of the distinct seasons. I have finally figured out I can't fully join them in staying balanced during the long winter months. I ski, I snowshoe, I do my death hike and get shot at on my birthday, but I'm a displaced Texan and we dig the light.

Of course, it could be FM (faux menopause), or not having a working downstairs bathroom, or missing the obscure mid-week camp enrichment deadlines (yet again) that leads to the winter blues but I think not. My thoughts begin to soar when the light returns. This morning , I talked to Reverend Judith about intensifying my Buddhist meditation practice, she gave me the name of her llama who is doing an intensive in Cambridge. Last week, I watched old episodes of Macgyver. Just saying.

So, I celebrate the return of the light.. As does Mary Oliver:

The Poet Comments On Yet Another Approaching Spring

Don't flowers put on their
prettiness each spring and
go to it with
everything they've got? Who

would criticize the bed of
yellow tulips or the blue
So, put a

bracelet on your
ankle with a
bell on it and make a
little music for

the earth beneath your foot, or
wear a hat with hot-colored
ribbons for the
pleasure of the

Leaves and the clouds, or at least
a ring with a gleaming
stone for your finger; yesterday
I watched a mother choose

exquisite ear ornaments for someone
beloved, in the spring
of her life; they were
for her for sure, but it also seemed

A promise, a love message, a commitment
to all girls, and boys too, so
beautiful and hopeful in this hard world
and young.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chickens roosting

As I sit on a bag of frozen peas and drink a glass of red wine, I ponder how I got here. The year was 1985. I had just made the momentous decision to drop out of college for a semester and try my thighs out as a semi-professional cyclist (long on the semi). Our coach was a Polish man who had cycled his way out of poverty and good manners. We talked a lot about components and how to make our bikes weigh ounces less with the latest titanium petals. He laughed and told us to lose weight and stop eating pizza.

We were an all woman cycling team, The Bluebonnet Racers. I was a domestique, which is a fancy French word that means the worst on the team. My job was to race out ahead and try and pull the opposing team's best riders off their pace...wear them out and then make room for our top riders to take the lead. There were a couple of types of races: road races and criteriums. Crits are short races, usually under a mile that circle tight and have a high crash rate. I loved them because the domestique role was just for road races. Free to ride one's own race. That is always where I get in trouble. I have never been good at pacing, the excitement of competing pulls me out of having any sense.

That day, we were racing at an army base, about 30 miles south of Austin. It was drizzling and the racing conditions were sketchy. Our team was racing for cash, and I felt a certain obligation to make some money, as I was no longer in college and felt that winning highlighted the professional part of my new path. The course was 1/2 mile, with tight turns around the barracks. This time was going to be different; I was going to stay with the pack and actually pace myself. I managed to override my instincts for several miles. Things looked good.

Then, the drizzle turned to rain and the next minute of the race is still a blur to this day. The lead riders went down and started a domino effect of falling cyclists and crumpled bikes. All in all, 10 cyclists went down, most with broken collar bones. I dislocated my hip. The army docs did not seem to be phased by their barracks filling up. Lucky venue for us.

I was on crutches for several months and during that time realized a college degree probably had more staying power than my bike. Still, I cherish that time, those women, and even my irascible coach.

Today, 28 years later, I felt a bit out of shape. I tried a 20 minute "tone and tighten" regime that included some push-ups, crunches, etc. My hip started screaming "remember the barracks" about an hour ago. Our past lands on us and goes along for the ride.

My crash and burn days may be over, maybe, but I wouldn't trade 'em. Even if it means I have to sit on peas.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Winter musings

When I first moved to this small New England town over ten years ago, I had two small children and had left a community of very dear friends. I had also left the work force and was adjusting to working part-time. So, I was a bit over eager to forge new connections and make this suburban thing work.
My first two tries failed miserably. I met a woman at the local grocery store who told me about a book reading for toddlers. I thought she was inviting me to go and so when I showed up and saw her, I waved like she was a long lost relative returning from sea. She sensed stalker and ignored me. Painful but informative.
Next up, I meet a mom at the local library and we realized our kids were the same age. I invited her over for coffee. Things went well until I showed her my recently refinished hardwood floors and explained my husband felt like we could not use water on them. "Does that mean you are not going to clean them?" she said incredulously. "Well, not with water".
In point of fact, we do clean our floors with water but we had to figure that friend assessed that I was a non-cleaning lunatic (not all that far from the truth) and quickly left.
I eventually made friends here. I joined a wonderful organization that gave many of us an outlet for energy that we were used to expending at work. We met for play dates and ran social events for our children with over-zealous results. We came together and kept each other from aching loneliness and terror when those little ones were sick or scared.
Now, many of us are back at work and some of us have drifted apart. I think sometimes you walk together for awhile and then your paths diverge. I have friends out west whom I rarely see but will love always....we walk the same path but in different places. Philosophers muse on love and friendships but I think it boils down to this: with whom are you your authentic self? Not mom or artist or climber or spiritual seeker but just you. Or maybe a true friend allows you to flow from self to self.
Heady stuff brought on by the loss of a friendship. As I was thinking about that, I remembered those early attempts to forge connections. No energy spent in trying to connect with others is wasted..... even if it doesn't take or fails down the line. First noble is impermanent and ultimately death will separate us all. Enjoy the moment.
---philosophical musings brought to you by New England winters:)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Snowman garden

I tried to type in"Snowmageddon" for the title to this post, but auto correct changed it to the above.  I often wonder about auto correct and the trouble it gets us in and out.  I need it in other areas of my life, a Super Ego energy that knows what will keep me on track:

Me At work:  I find your thinking flawed and antideluvian.
Auto correct:  I find your thinking flawless on the Arctic.

Me at home:  I need one person to do any chore, ever
Auto correct:  I need one person to eat Anchovies.

Me with WCE:  We need an end date for the bathroom to be completed.
Auto correct:  we need a date.

So I may be cultivating an internal auto correct and see if it does not smooth out some of the edges.
As for Snowmageddon?  It's coming and I think we may get a few snowman gardens out of the deal.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Happy birthday to the the guy who is riding along with me on this great adventure.  He ordered his own birthday present after I broke his last darting in front of him to catch the view on a beautiful mountain in Vermont.

One gift we have given each other is our mutual love of gnomes.  It started when some dear friends brought back a genuine gnome from Switzerland that cost more than my wedding ring.  It continued with our wedding cake, topped by Snow White and a gnome.  Here is the latest:

This card was not cheap.  However, my little gnome helper and I had the following exchange in
the store:

Me:  8.00 is too much to spend on a card
GH:  Daddy has to have this card
Me:  It is really the principle of the thing
GH: (with stone hard stare) If we don't buy this card, we will regret it for the rest of our lives.

And so, my love, my greatest gift to you is the protector of what you need walking right by our sides.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

That kind of day

The present, the past, and the future all walked into a bar.

It was tense.

*thank you Margaret

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Snow day

We are doing some good work on this found day.  New England Snow days are the most glorious thing in the world.  Growing up in Texas, I missed out.  They allow us all a chance to catch up on the important things, like animal triage:
Huggy has been operated on several times but today's situation was dire:  he needed minor surgery on his stomach, neck and ear but when we got in, we discovered that he needed a "stuffingectomy".  He seems to be holding his own, but we are quiet in the living room, to give him some peace and allow him to recover (genius mom move). 

 These are the moments we all miss...I have decreed no room cleaning, no laundry, no chores.  This is a day for sledding, fort making, a bit of knitting, and anything that touches that part of us that doesn't see the light of day.  I may paint little stars on my toenails, or read some Walt Whitman.  It does seem like a day made for poetry.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Right Intentions

Happy New Year to you all.  I hope your holiday break was filled with fun, family, and a little piece of peace:)  All in all, I think '12 was a pretty good year.  We lost Nana and Uncle Roy but Amy is expecting a little girl.  Emma is beyond excited as she is eagerly awaiting I'm-not-the-littlest-one-in-the-family status.

I get a little contemplative this time of year.  Probably because heading back to work feels cumbersome.  Staying home wouldn't work but writing a book or a travel column would, I think.  I also had my 49th birthday and realized I am past middle age...I'm skiing down the mountain, as it were.  Which, as a skier, you know that is where one always get injured.  The light is flat and your legs give out.  So be it, you still keep skiing.

Here are some things I'm going to do/not do this year:

1.  I'm going to stop listening to idiots.....FoxNews, you are out (have been for awhile but it doesn't hurt to confirm right intentions) as is afternoon talk radio.  I'm afraid ET and TMZ are going to have to go, as well. 

2.  I'm going to have more patience with my kids and meet them where they are.  I think the biggest mistake parents make is to try and mold their children into a being that will not be wounded by the world.  I talked a lot this week about "mental toughness" with my kids.  I don't think it worked and I think they are probably a lot tougher than I know...and if not, stay open and be tough in that way.

3.  Weirdly enough, I'm going to try and eat less sugar.  I think it might be poisoning me.

4.  I need to relax about time......and most things, really.  One of my favorite students told me I was really uptight for a Hippie.  True.  Really true.

5.  I gave a little talk on gratitude.  Each day I'm going to start with a meditation on the things I'm grateful to keep that glass half full.

6.  Meditate more, read more, more yoga....stay balanced as the center continues to look, alarmingly, like it will not hold.

Have a blessed year, all of you and I will see you on the slopes:)