Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Too tired, too hot, too spent, too scattered, too energized, too buzzing, too sleep deprived, too already-on-tomorrow's-trip-to-Chicago to post anything coherent about the nothing short of magical week I'm having in Iowa City, IA.


Go here and read what someone with her wits about her has to say!

If you are a writer, you need to come to this festival at some point in your life. You won't regret it!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cry Me a River

“Will you miss me every day all day long?” he asks.

“Every day, all day long,” I say.

“Will you cry a river you will miss me so much?” he asks.

“85 rivers,” I say.

“Make it 86,” he says.

“Okay,” I say, “86.”

“No. How about 87. Cry 87 rivers you will miss me so much,” he says.

“87 it is.”

“How many days will you be gone? Seven? Better cry 87 rivers a day,” he says, quickly grabbing his calculator and doing the math. “That’s 609 rivers. That’s a lot of rivers. You are really, really going to miss me.”

“Yes, I am really, really going to miss you,” I say.

“But you’re really, really ready for a break, right?”

“Really, really.” 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

All Planned Out

10,000 miles up in the air, flying high with a friend, off an adventure we’ve planned for months, down to the slightest detail. We’ve had lists we’ve created, crossed off and double checked with each other. A long layover in Minneapolis has been coordinated with my agent for a dinner we’ve got dialed down to the minute. We’ve confirmed flights, hotels, cabs, you name it.

We’ve thought of everything.

What we didn’t have on our list was one of my closest cousin’s husband, dying at age 46, leaving her a widow at 44, the mother of a 10, 12 and 15-year-old.

Didn’t plan for me to be only 236 miles away in Iowa from their home near Chicago.

Didn’t plan for me to be on vacation while someone I love watches her life change in a single moment.

Didn’t plan on being so close yet so far.

Didn’t plan on changing my plans to drive from Iowa City on Thursday to be in Chicago in time for the funeral on Friday.

Didn’t plan to extend my stay and see if I can help.

Didn’t plan for others to be there at the beginning, not needing me until later, when I can easily be there.

Didn’t plan on Thursday being later.

Didn’t plan on being so thankful I can be where I need to be, when I need to be there.

Couldn’t have planned that.

* Photo from

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Farmer in the Dell

Introducing a new blog by a friend of mine, A Farmer in the Dell. Rojo is responsible for the name, are you surprised? Andrea and her fiance, Taylor, are working at Taylor's parents' organic farm in Massachusetts. When Rojo heard Andrea was leaving to go work on a farm, he said, "Oh, like the farmer in the dell," and thus, a great blog was born.

Check it out, you'll learn more about organic farming, get great (easy - even I can probably make them) recipes, and you'll enjoy Andrea's upbeat spirit.


Friday, July 23, 2010


I'm off to the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival for a week with friend and fellow writer, Deb.

High hopes of writing a lot, reading a lot, listening a lot, learning a lot, and being inspired a lot.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What Does it Matter?

Woke up this morning feeling anxious, lists and lists and lists running endless cycles through my head. Don't forget this, don't forget that. Getting ready to go on a week-long trip without the family and want to make sure I've thought of everything before I go. The world might come to an end if they run out of anything while I'm gone. God forbid my perfectly capable husband has to run out and get something, call in an order, make a special trip. No, the perfect order of the family relies on me and only me, and that is the story and my ego is sticking to it.

Couldn't quiet my mind, so gave up, logged on to the computer and read my e-mails. Had two updates on CarePages (free patient blogs for those updating their families and friends of the health of a loved one). Two different people I know have cancer. Both are parents of three young children. Both are pillars in their communities. Both are good and have done good, and spread good and deserve good but have cancer nonetheless.

All the ridiculous things I was worrying endlessly about right before were made to feel as insignificant as they truly are. None of it matters.

If it's not life and death, does it matter?


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Happily Ever After

Rojo had a really great birthday, and got about a million presents. As my cousin Julie said, "It doesn't hurt when your mom blogs that it's your birthday."

Have a recent college graduate working with him this summer, she just got her degree in special ed and needed some summer employment, and let's face it, I needed the break she provides 2-3 days a week, 3-hours at a time.

Made a list of all the gifts Rojo got, and from whom, and asked her to take him up to Bi-Mart and have him pick out thank you cards, and then gave her the daunting task of managing the writing of said thank you notes. "How many should I get, one package? 8-10?"

"No," I said. He's popular. We need at least 20."

When I got home 20 thank you notes were all done and ready for me to address, stamp and mail. Happy. Few things please me more than getting something checked off the list.

One slight catch. He'd picked Disney princess thank you notes. The boy has never seen a Disney movie. Never read a Disney book. Has no interest in princesses. Don't know what got into him. Probably just a whim. His tutor said she tried to steer him towards a few others, dogs, cars, etc., boy cards, but no, it was Disney princesses for my kid. Maybe he just thought they were pretty - he is 14 now, you know.

And so it is.

Inside the card it says something about thank you for making his happy ever after.

So, thank you, all of you, for your wishes, your gifts, your physical expressions. Presents are nice and fun to open, but most of all, thank you for your presence. Priceless.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Walking Alone Together

"I know why families were created, 
with all their imperfections.
They humanize you. They are made to make 
you forget yourself occasionally, so that
the beautiful balance of life is not destroyed."
- Anais Nin

This is a recent picture of my cousin, Julie, and me. We are six months apart in age (I'm older). She is one of my dearest friends and certainly the longest.

We have much in common: world views, eye color, our mothers are sisters, love of sweets, on and on the list goes.

On a day-to-day basis our family lives are very different. One could say she is living the "normal" of the two lives - three busy children, a husband with a demanding career, a part-time job of her own, a house to run, parents to take care of, property to maintain, friends in crisis, etc.

Yesterday Michelle O'Neil left a comment on one of my blog posts, "No one can truly know what it is like to walk in your shoes. We each walk our own path but I hold sacred space beside you, as we walk alone together."

When I read that I thought about all my friends, blog friends, acquaintances, etc., but mostly I thought about Julie, and just how true that is. No matter how different our lives are on the outside, inside we are together, walking. Walking together. Forever.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Life is a very narrow bridge between two eternities. Be not afraid.
Rabbi Nachman of Braslav

* Photo from

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sense of Accomplishment

So often I forget how great it feels to do something all by yourself. It's so hard to teach Rojo to do things for himself and so hard to be patient as he tries, and so hard to resist jumping in to make them go faster/easier/cleaner.


Every year a few months before his birthday I start brain washing him about the next big hurdle he's going to cross when he turns a year older. One year it was riding a two-wheeler. Last year it was taking a shower (instead of a bath - a big deal due to his Sensory Processing Disorder). So, for the last year he's showered, but I've helped. I've washed his hair. I've dried him off. I've picked out his pajamas. I've put the dirty clothes in the laundry room, hung up the towel, shut the shower curtain. Basically he stood in one spot and sort of rubbed soap on himself.

So, for the last few months I've been telling him that 14-year-old boys need to completely shower by themselves - no mothers allowed. AND, they need to shower every single day. Last night he did the shower and hair, but wanted help drying off (crossing the midline is a bitch).

Tonight I said, "Rojo, it's time to go upstairs and take your whole shower by yourself. I'll be downstairs waiting for you, and when you come back down, I will flip my wig five times (something I said once inadvertently and it has stuck - he's loathe to miss a wig flipping opportunity).

Darned if the boy didn't run upstairs, get himself a clean towel, shower, wash hair, dry off (sort of) put on clean pajamas and come back downstairs, in under five minutes! (The hanging of the towel and subsequent trip to the laundry room will be tomorrow).

Cannot TELL you how proud of him I was.

But the best thing of all was how proud he was of himself.

* Photo from

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Birthday Love

Rojo had a great golden birthday - full of love. He got phone calls, e-mails, texts, and drop by visits. Plus gifts. Lots and lots of gifts. A dear friend gave him $14 (all in ones) for the ice cream truck - he was thrilled. He got a great hat, a new bike helmet, and a lot of little things wrapped up simply for the joy of opening (think: toothpaste and hand sanitizer).

Rosie, a dear friend of Rojo's that I've written about several times, came by with a Cookie Monster and this card. C'mon. What 13-year-old girl goes out shopping and selects a card like this? Inside the card it says, "And today I am just grateful to be one of them."

I was outside watering in the backyard when Rosie came to the door. By the time I got around to the front he'd already opened the card. Rosie looked at me, "You're gonna really love the card I gave Rojo, Carrie," she said.

She was so right.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Letter to My Son on His Fourteenth Birthday

Happy birthday, Rojo! Fourteen years ago today you were born - on your due date - big and healthy and full of life.

I asked God for an easy baby, I couldn't handle one that cried a lot. God gave me you and taught me patience along the way.

All the way along you have brought me gifts I did not ask for, and forced me to re-think the ones I have.

Through you I have learned compassion, empathy, tenacity, unconditional love, gratitude and faith.

You have shown me what it's like to be ego-less. You have helped me inch away from the goal of a perfectly clean home, to the goal of a perfectly clean soul.

Thank you for being my greatest teacher, my wise, funny, forgiving, consistent, persistent and ever-loving guide.

I love you now and always,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The River

"There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift, that there are those
who will be afraid. They will try to
hold on to the shore, they will be
torn apart and suffer greatly.

Know that the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore,
push off into the middle of the river,
keep our heads above the water.

And I say
.. see who is there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing
personally, least of all ourselves,
for the moment that we do,
our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over.
Gather yourselves. Banish the word struggle
from your attitude and vocabulary.
All that we do now
must be done in a sacred manner
and in celebration.
We are the ones
we have been waiting for."

-Message from the Hopi Elders 2001

* Photo from

Monday, July 12, 2010

Money Machine

Rojo gets dressed this morning, reaches in the pockets of his basketball shorts, pulls out $2.00 and declares, "Look! These shorts came with money! It's like a money machine in my pocket!"

* Photo from

Sunday, July 11, 2010


So Friday Rojo decided he wanted to meet Above and Beyond and her two boys at the park at 2:30 PM. He also decided he would like the ice cream truck to happen to be driving by at the same time, so he had me text A&B while he went to put $3.00, one dollar per boy,  in the pockets of his basketball shorts.

I texted A&B and said, "We're headed out the door, if it works to come right now, we'll see you there."

Didn't hear back.

We got three houses down the street and what did we hear? "Oh, Susanna," not only the ice cream truck, but the preferred song.

We plunked ourselves down in the nearest shade and waited for the truck to come closer. We've learned the hard way that trying to chase it is an exercise in futility. We waited about two minutes, and it turned the corner and came down the street we were on. We waved it down, were just making our way over to it and who should drive down that very street at that very time, but A&B with both boys.

Rojo looked at them with no surprise on his face, only relaxed certainty as if to say, "Oh, good, there you are, just as I'd planned."

The boys enjoyed their treats.

The moms enjoyed their visit.

The universe enjoyed the trust and faith of one special boy.

Friday, July 9, 2010


While camping during the 4th of July weekend (well, I don't actually camp, but Wooho does, and I provide the camping opportunity), her tent broke. The zipper. Shot. I think the damn thing is only two years old, too. Bummer.

Dragged my cousin and her engineer husband over to the tent and made them try to fix it. The engineer declared it toast. The cousin declared it toast. I declared it toast. The cousin said, "Can't wait to see how you work this into your blog."

"The wheels are already turning," I assured her.

One just can't look at a zipper that will not zip and not think how much that's a metaphor for life. When things are lined up, they're easy. When they aren't, they aren't. Simple as that. You can force the damn thing shut, but that never works. You can go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, hoping to get it back on track, but still, when it's done, it's done. When you need a new zipper, you need a new zipper.

But not a whole new tent.

* Photo from

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

For the last three days it's been nothing but, "Text C.'s mom and see if they'll meet us at the park." The days have been busy and the exact time we could get to the park was never certain. Plus it's been hot. After months of grey, rain, cold, we've got sun, heat, heat and more heat. The play structure is too hot to touch, literally, nobody wants to play there. Except Rojo.

Kept putting him off and putting him off until he wore me down. I finally texted (nothing could be more made than texting) C.'s mom about 6:15 PM and said, "We're going to the park at 6:30, can you join us?"

She texted back that no, she wasn't feeling well, and to try them again another time.

I told Rojo and he was disappointed, but still confident that C.'s mom would feel suddenly better and bring him to the park anyway.

We got to the park, Rojo tried to touch the play structure and got burned, so we sat under the only tree in sight and talked. About three minutes later who shows up but C. and his dad. C.'s dad didn't know about the texts back and forth with his wife, he just offered to take C. (six-years-old) out of the house for awhile and kick a soccer ball around (good dad).

No accidents.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I was asked to write "something about Mary." Kicking myself for not naming the blog that, as that should be a blog, although love. is pretty much synonymous, and I am all for an economy of words.

It's been a really busy last few days, no time for the deep soul searching and clever writing. I have Post-Its and scraps of paper all over my desk with ideas/phrases/moments that need to get woven into something, but no weaving opportunities. We got home from vacation and it's been nothing but laundry, grocery shopping, errands, appointments, etc. all the things we put off until we got home, BAM, need to be done, NOW!

Think I'll resort to my ol' standby, a Top 10 list, hoping to not only clear my mind, but my desk, as well.


10. Someone in my neighborhood (and no, it's not me, but I wish I'd thought of it), puts up the coolest signs along this fence. Today's reads: If you want more love, be more loving.

9. Had an annual family reunion over the 4th of July, was complaining to one of my cousins, she simply said, "Be blessed." I think she actually meant to say (she'd had a couple beers), "You are blessed," which is, of course, very, very true, but it came out as a command, and that was even more helpful. I'll pass along the favor to you: be blessed.

8. Rojo has taken one of my favorite expressions, "Not enough has been made of..." and improved it. I can't even remember how it started, I was probably saying it to STM for the 400th time that day, something along the lines of, "Not enough has been made that I __________," because I'm big into him acknowledging each and every thing I do that contributes to the family in the least little bit. Rojo pipes up from the backseat of the car, "Yea, nothing could be more made than that!" So. There you have it, nothing could be more made than how cute that is. Nothing.

7. Got all panicky when I heard that someone I was really counting on for a critical project, changed jobs - left the company. Then I found out that the person that replaced them has the last name of Divine. Nothing could be more made than that.

6. Flicka and I go for a walk every day. Every day she wants to sniff and pull me in all sorts of directions except the one in which I've decided is "right." Nothing could be more made than she may know more about which direction we "should" be going than I do.

5. Had a great talk at the family reunion with two like-minded souls/cousins about 2012 and the "end of the world," and our belief that the "second coming" is each of us becoming more conscious and that indeed we are at a tipping point on this planet - it could go either way, it could, but we know that God promises that "He" is love, and love wins. Period.

4. Rojo begged me to take him to the park last night when it was pretty much the last thing on earth I felt like doing, but I went, and of course, The Magic Bench did its thing. Again. Had the most incredible conversation with someone that left me in tears.

3. Had to come home and recover from the soul moving Magic Bench experience and numb it out with some "The Bachelorette," complete with rapt attention to Jake and Vienna's gory break up details. This is really not a Mary Moment so much as a clear indicator of just how far I have left to go.

2. Someone asked me to ask Rojo to create a nickname for them (his specialty, or one of them, anyway). Rojo has never met this person. He came up with a nickname in about 1 second, and I e-mailed it along. Turns out that's the name her father called her when she was a little girl. Nothing could be more made than that.

1. When someone asks you to write something about Mary, it's very hard to keep it to just 10. She is everywhere. She is busy. She is never subtle. She has a great sense of humor and her signs are abundant.

Holding Together

I throw the three coins: Water over Earth, an 8/Pi/Holding Together

The I Ching, or Book of Changes has been something I've long wanted to understand and work with more - an ancient text that both Confucianism and Taoism are rooted in. Coins are thrown three times, their heads and tales forming a number each time, the three numbers forming a lower hexagram. The process is repeated to form an upper hexagram. The two hexagrams are put together, resulting in a message from the oracle.

Water over Earth, "Symbolically this connotes holding together and the laws that regulate it. The same idea is suggested by the fact that all the lines of the hexagram except the fifth, the place of the ruler, are yielding."

I am ready to yield all parts of me except the strong inner ruler: love.

* Photo from

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Welcome to love.

Thank you for joining me here!

It's time for a fresh start for lots of reasons, all good. Something about approaching Rojo's golden birthday. Something about Independence Day. Something about starting a new version of an old book. Something about love.

* Photo from

Sorry Not Sorry

I'm sorry I keep pointing you towards BrenĂ© Brown's podcast,  Unlocking Us , but I'm not that  sorry.* I've appreciated ever...