Thursday, September 30, 2010


Took my last walk around the Sisters development. Tried to be mindful, and when I wasn't, I tried to Jack Kornfield my mind, as in bringing the mind gently back to awareness, not yelling at it for wandering off.

Caught movement off to the left and saw a few deer. 1,2,3,4. Four deer. One quickly crossed in front of me to the other side of the street and two more followed soon after. I decided to stop walking and just watch whatever was going on with the deer - see if they had a message for me.

The fourth one followed the first three and stopped mid-track. It turned and looked back in the direction from which it had come. It stared and stared at "nothing."

Finally, I saw that it was waiting for another deer. It was not so much waiting, as waiting for the other deer to see which way the others were headed. When eye contact was made, the mid-track deer leaped off with the first three.

Five deer, then. hmmmm....  I thought, five is a weird number...

Sure enough, a sixth and seventh deer came into view and stood with #4. They seemed to be taking a long time to decide if they wanted to join the first four, or head off on their own.

It was deer #4 that spoke to me, the one that knew which direction it wanted to go, but was overly concerned about everyone else...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I've been having fun finding your favorite Rojo blogs, cutting, pasting, reformatting and placing them in some semblance of chronological order. I'm calling this "writing," even though I have yet to construct an original sentence.

The plan is to use those for the scaffolding of the book, to read what they say and write around them. We'll see how that goes. I've already deleted 10,000 words that were too repetitive, vent-ish, and as my friend Laurie says, "crazy-making." My goal is not to make the reader crazy, but to inspire.

Through some flukey search and replace chain of events I couldn't begin to describe if I tried, every single time the letters "rd" appeared in the "manuscript," they were capitalized. I tried my best to search and replace RD for rd, but no. 483 of them remained. And yes, I am just anal retentive enough to have spent the better part of Monday morning individually correcting that.

But here's the deal, so many words have "rd" in them: forward, word, card, etc... but do you know what way too many of my "rd" words were? "Hard."

I do not want to write a book about how hard it's been.

I don't think it was an accident that search and replace worked perfectly for every other thing I tried to make it do, but refused to budge on this one. It took me 483 times to get that I do not want to write the book on hard, but the book on the love, the divinity, the blessings, the glory, the richness, the peace and the wouldn't-trade-my-life-with-anyone's.

That book.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Closet Cleaning

As it turns out, writing a book is a lot like cleaning out a closet - both of which I've been doing a lot of lately.

The thing is, to really clean the closet, you pretty much have to take everything out and see what you've got. This creates a much bigger mess than whatever you started out with, and the temptation is to just cram it all back in and close the door. This does not work.

No. You must go through everything in there and see what you've got. Then you must ruthlessly toss whatever isn't working with the other things in there - even if it's beautiful. Even if it cost you a lot. Even if you absolutely love it. If it doesn't go, it doesn't go.

If it doesn't fit, hasn't been used in at least six months or is simply out of style, never to come back,  it's got to be cut.

* Photo from

Sunday, September 26, 2010


(My favorite tree here)

Over 20 years ago my mom moved over to Central Oregon, first Bend, and then Sisters, where she bought a house. First one she bought all on her own. Recently divorced and ready for a new life, she left the grey and rain of the Willamette Valley and started over. She bought a business, ran it for years, then "retired" by volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and Together for Children.

I made the three-hour drive across the mountains frequently: before I married STM, after, then eventually hauled Woohoo over and later, Rojo. I nursed my babies in the blue wing-back chair. I taught Woohoo to ride a trike, then a bike in the cul-de-sac. Both kids really got comfortable in water in the development's swimming pool.

Eight years ago my mom moved back to Portland and kept her house in Sisters for a get-away for all of us. She's used it less and less as she's re-made Portland her home. We have continued to use it for family vacations and probably most importantly of all, a place for respite for STM and I to separately, and occasionally together, get away to re-group.

I have brought friends here, held retreats, had a few crisis', withdrawn from SSRIs, read a million books, watched every episode of "Sex and the City," numerous times, and slept the sleep of the dead. I have walked the loops around the neighborhood during every phase of fitness, pregnancy, weather and mood.

Last December STM and I were here for two nights alone and we noticed the wood stove wasn't working properly - smoke was coming out, not going up. I called a repairman and arranged for him to come out later, after we'd already returned to Portland. He called us and said, "I can't get in your house, there is standing water everywhere."

The power had gone out (electric heat) and two pipes had burst when the town had temperatures in the teens for several days, and as I said, no heat.

We set to cleaning up and repairing the damage. Insurance helped, but we decided it was time to do some long put off updates while we were at it: replacing the single-pane windows with new, getting a new tub/shower to match in color everything else in the bathroom, that kind of thing. The house had never looked better when we were done in late April. STM and I had many difficult talks about the necessity, and perfect timing of now trying to sell it - with the best weather coming and the house looking good, it was time. My mom agreed and knowing she's not getting any younger, was ready to liquidate.

As we made all the changes we kept in mind, sell, sell, sell. We went for colors that were neutral, redecorated with Everyone in mind, kept all the kids' artwork off the walls and in their places put up stuff Everyone would like. We picked a brownish carpet, khaki walls, stainless appliances and off-white blinds. Not choices I would have made if I were repairing/replacing/remodeling for myself. Gone was the bright splashes of color. Gone were the family photos. Gone was, well, the very personality of the house.

I think it was at that time that I began to let go. My memories, experiences and nostalgia were washed away with the flood. Newness replaced familiar. Fresh replaced cozy. Everyone replaced the me in this house.

Now there is an offer and it is looking like it will go through. It's time to pack and time to leave. I came over to prepare for STM, who will do all the heavy lifting when it actually does go through. My job it to sort, purge, label and make piles. My specialities, if I do say so myself.

Had a hard time driving over the mountain Friday, actually found myself dragging it out, took a long time getting out the door then made two stops along the way. Didn't want my last trip over here to start. Or finish. Got here and wouldn't you just know it, Nancy was here for her daughter's volleyball tournament. I literally walked in the door and then made contact with her, put on a cooler shirt (gorgeous fall weather), peed and was back out the door - delaying the process even further. Met Nancy at her hotel and we walked into town. We didn't mean to, but we walked by all my favorite haunts. Together. Walking and talking and laughing and sharing, I was able to say goodbye to all "my" places.

Then I went back to Nancy's hotel and we had Beer O'Clock with all the other volleyball parents, and I was able to totally forget why I was here, and instead, just enjoy the fact that I was.

Yesterday I was going through the kitchen, putting things in piles for the thrift store, things to bring home, things to pack up and save for Woohoo, etc. What should I do with all this canned food?  I thought. Sure, we could use it at home, but we are trying to leave as much of what we don't need as possible. Not 30 minutes later, I kid you not, three young people came knocking on the door. They were doing a CANNED FOOD DRIVE. Yes! That very day! I have had maybe three other people knock on the door when I've been here in 20+ years!

As my grandmother used to always say, "Isn't it wonderful how the Lord provides?"

And that's just it. The Lord is providing.

Today I will say goodbye to this and hello to Something Else. Not sure what that is or how it will look, but it will all be provided.

Friday, September 24, 2010

(Flicka in the backseat with Elmo, waiting to get Rojo from school)

Thank you to all of you that commented or sent e-mails with your favorite Rojo-isms/stories! (Keep 'em coming!) It was very helpful! I'd forgotten most of the stories that struck many of you, and what really stood out for me was how you've been touched by Rojo's purity - how he has never complained, never said an unkind word to or about anyone, never been selfish. Never.

How easy it is to take for granted what we live with day after day. Easy to remember the hard parts, easy to forget the profound blessings. Thank you for the reminders!

You also helped me define my target audience, which is (mostly) women interested in personal growth, spirituality and children.

Thank you, Target Audience!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Need Your Help

In keeping with my vow to ask for help, I need some help from you, faithful blog readers. I am wondering which Rojo stories over the years have struck you the most. I am busily making notes for the book about him/us and am having trouble deciding what stays and what goes.

Would you please either leave a comment below or drop me an e-mail and let me know your favorite(s)? You can be as brief or expansive as you want/have time for!

A million thanks,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Was walking down the street with Kathleen and Flicka yesterday (same street at Recessed Mary, BTW), bemoaning all the things I have to do, and how overwhelmed and incapable of doing them I feel. Side note: I've come to the conclusion that venting is necessary and healthy, within the safe confines of trusted friends and in moderation.

So. Venting, venting, venting along the way and suddenly a man pulls over, rolls down the passenger window nearest to us and asks directions to a nearby hospital. I knew in that instant he was a messenger of Mary. She was simply saying, "Ask for help. Get directions."

Of course that's always the last thing to occur to me, that indeed, I don't have to do everything all by myself. It almost feels like Mary has dumped a whole bunch of big and unexpected (and urgent) "problems" in my lap as to force me to ask for help, truly, it's impossible, impossible for me to do them without help.

Came home and called my mom, told her about one of the most stressful situations and asked if she could make a few phone calls to see who could help. Yes, I got help GETTING the help! Brilliant, right? She was happy to do it. I'd almost go so far as to say giddy.

Told STM all about the venting, the Mary tree, the message from said Mary and he said, "She's given you that message before, you know."

Yes. I know.

But this time I'm really going to try to get it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Elephants in Our Head

STM just came home from a week of doing Cycle Oregon, a grueling 500 mile ride that takes place over seven days. Each night he camped in a tiny tent with a sleeping bag in 25 degree weather, got up, rode 80 some miles, rested, and did it all over again the next day.

Had a ball.

Went with two friends (a married couple), and met a lot of nice people along the way. Came home and said the sexiest words he's ever said to me, "Riding 80 miles a day is a piece of cake compared to being the one that stayed here and ran the show for a week."

It's quite a show we run, and it has us both, well, running. I know many of you blog readers know all about running the special needs show, but raising all kids is complicated and exhausting, period.

STM's friends talked about their kids, two active almost teenagers. The parents both work full-time and between all the kids' after-school activities it's 8:30 or 9:00 before they all sit down to eat dinner. STM learned a lot about their day-to-day life over the course of the week. I asked if he shared much about our life. He said no.

"They don't know what to ask," he said, "and I didn't want to tell them more than they want to know. Unless you live it, it's really hard to get."

And I get that.

I will say this to you parents of only typicals, however, it's okay to ask us about our lives. We can always tell the difference between genuine interest and idle curiosity. It's okay if you bumble around and say the "wrong" thing, we appreciate you wanting to know. You see, that allows us to talk about the elephants in our head, the one thing that takes up most of our thoughts, time and energy. To not ask us about that will cut you off from who we are. You will only know a tiny fraction of us if you don't know about what it's like to raise our special children.

We thank you for trying to be sensitive. We appreciate that you don't want to say the wrong thing. We appreciate that you don't want to make us talk about something that we don't want to talk about, but we do want to talk about it. And if you will let us, you will then, and only then, know us.

Thank you.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Been drawing Angel Blessing cards each morning during my meditation time. Would you believe that the last FOUR days in a ROW I have drawn THE EXACT SAME CARD? Yes. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Today.

Each day I take the card off the meditation table, put it back "randomly" in the deck, shuffle like a card shark in Vegas, and draw a new one.

Each day I have pulled out... love.

The card begins with the quote, "To love for the sake of being loved is human, but to love for the sake of loving is angelic." Alphonse de Lamartine

It goes on to say, "Eternal love alone satisfies the need of the soul. Hadraniel's mission is to awaken your memory of this love. When experienced passionately, these three Ascension Attitudes (love, gratitude, surrender), become an invincible force for healing."

An invincible force for healing.


Don't have to sell me on love and gratitude, big fans of those, however surrender? H-A-T-E surrender! Surrender is SO scary! Anything could happen when you surrender!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

We Are One Body

Last night was back-to-school night at Woohoo's high school. Parents were given their student's schedule and were sent on a mini-day: seven minute classes to meet the teachers and hear their spiels, and five minutes to switch in the halls. Fun to be walking down the halls and see friends of my own and be transported to my own high school days 30 years ago.

Went with my friend Nancy. First got to know Nancy eleven years ago when she was the room parent for morning kindergarten and I was the one for the afternoon class. We coordinated some event that brought the two classes together - can't even remember now what it was, but it seemed of critical importance at the time. Anyway, a friendship began then and took hold when we were chairs of an auction the year our daughters were third graders.

Planned to meet at the front door when we were both done with "our" classes. Saw her talking to Chuck. I know Chuck - has a son our daughters' ages, too. Then came Sally. Know her, too. Also has a daughter the same age. The four of us stood around catching up, marveling that our kids are now juniors. Where has the time gone? How quickly they grow up. Who's driving and who's about to be. That kind of thing.

Then we remembered that Chuck, Sally and I met for the first time, almost twelve years ago, at 5:00 AM one cold January morning as we stood outside the K-8 school, lined up trying desperately to enroll our children when they opened the doors at 7:00 AM. Only a few spots left in kindergarten. We all wanted them. I was particularly nervous because we weren't parishioners. Both Sally and Chuck were not only parishioners, they were graduates. Nervously we waited, chatted, got to know one another, and eventually the doors opened and lo and behold, we all got coveted spots.

The rest is history.

Went to Rojo's 8th grade mass this morning, he dressed the altar (with some help). He remembered to bow in the right places. He did not talk to anyone he wasn't supposed to be talking to. He's made huge and important strides in his own "career" at this little school.

As the community stood holding hands and reciting the Lord's Prayer, I took a quick glance around. So many stories under one roof. Lots of pain. Lots of suffering. Lots of miracles. Lots of healing. Lots of life lived. Together - for better or for worse.

Our closing song was "We Are One Body," with a chorus that repeats,
"... and we do not walk alone." And that's really it, isn't it, we are one body. Our families, our small communities, our larger communities, our cities, states, countries, world, universe.

We are one body.

And we do not walk alone.

* Photo from

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Hear You

Thought last week was going to be my week to recover from the summer. But, um, well, you know what they say about making God laugh, tell him/her your plans. Last week was an ass kicker on every level, we'll just leave it at that. And that's exactly what I'm trying to do, leave it at that. Leave it.

It was an ass kicker, but now it's a new week and the reconnoitering resumes. Got kids off to school, walked with Kathleen and Flicka and decided before I attacked the day in the usual Carrie fashion (read: frenetically) I would sit down with Mary in my newly moved meditation station and see what she had to say for me today.

Felt the need to dust off (literally) the Angel Blessings Cards as well as the The Instant Tarot Reader.

Meet Chamuel ("he who seeks God") the angel of Adoration. I read along and get to this, "Your body is a temple of God and you deserve to be fed by the energy of unconditional love. Do you put yourself last, devoting all your time to others, with little left for yourself? Do you feel unworthy of such loving adoration?"

Pretty much.

Then later it goes on to say, "Adore yourself. Love and appreciate who you are. Begin by doing one thing each day what expresses self love, then increase to four! Ask to be swept away in the rapture of adoration."

I nod in agreement, sounds good, yes, indeed I put myself last and could do with some adoration. I move on to the Tarot cards and get:

"You need to stop working so hard. If you cannot stop, then conserve your energy and pace yourself. When you are over-committed everything becomes a strain. Delay making decisions if exhaustion prevents good judgment."

Just decided my biggest decisions today will be whether or not I shower, and if so, when.

Friday, September 10, 2010


"Mom? Does everyone have to go to college?" he asks, legs kicking the breakfast bar, fingers separating cheese and sauce from pizza crust.

"No, honey, not everyone has to go to college," I say, reluctantly, because it would be my personal preference that everyone go to college.

"Do you have to go to college to be a dad?" he asks.

"No, you can be a dad without going to college," making myself squirm all the more because I have a strong bias there, too, even though STM's dad is Dad of the Year and never went to college and I know plenty of other such stories. Still.

"Well, then I'm not going to college," he announces.

I think he, at 14 and in 8th grade, is just discovering that he is not on the same path as his peers. This is the good news. This is the bad news. This is the three hanky news.

"That's it, I'm telling J., my girlfriend, tomorrow, not to go to college. I want to hurry up and be a dad."

"Well, honey, if she wants to go to college, you need to let her do that. There is time for kids after college," I say/plead/pray. How desperately I want him to have children in his life, if not as a father, as something... I want for him what he wants for himself, but he cannot even take care of himself. He can't brush his own teeth. He needs to be reminded to pee. He cannot use a knife and fork together. There are a thousand reasons why he can't be a father, and I don't have the heart to tell him this now. Maybe ever.

He lets the conversation fall.

And I let the tears.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Astrologer told me to spend the month of September "reconnoitering" before beginning (or, to be more accurate, picking back up) my book. Told me to rest. Told me to let my focused brain turn off and allow deeper/different/sub-conscious stuff to bubble up. Told me to exercise a ton. Told me to not make work my default button, how if I have 10 minutes here and there to use them to relax, not to get more done.

I don't relax well. What I find most relaxing is getting done the things I believe need to be done. I find movement soothing and inactivity (of the body) almost tortuous. I've decided that I will rest the compulsive checking of blogs/e-mailing/texting part of my brain and body, however, and put to use good ol' elbow grease.

Working like a charm. Got going in the kitchen. Worked on cleaning and sorting, purging and wiping while my over-used parts of the brain chilled, and the oft-neglected parts were allowed to surface. Didn't hurt one little bit that this day coincided with Rojo's first full day of school in THREE VERY LONG MONTHS, but I digress.

Looked up reconnoiter, had that word in English vocab. back in high school in the (very) early 80's. Thought I had a rough idea of what it meant, but love it even more now that I checked. It's a military term, it means to carefully and slowly access the situation before approaching, to make a preliminary observation. Something anyone that knows me can tell you I just plain suck at.

Think I'm going to go big with reconnoitering in general. I am one to cut three times and measure once. I am one to say yes quickly, and regret it slowly. I am one to get it done badly just to get it done. I'm not a reconnoiterer.


* photo from

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Big and Little Mary



Everywhere I go I see Mary. Could be me. Might be me. Probably is me, but c'mon, don't you see her, too? Right there in the trees? Was walking with Kathleen last week, deep in conversation and all of a sudden there she was, in a tree we've passed a thousand times in our 11 years of morning walking. 

Went on a walk later in the week with Nancy and tried to show her the Mary tree. Couldn't find her. Swore she upped and moved. Found Big Mary while we were looking for Little Mary. Isn't that always the way it goes? While you're looking for something small, you find something big? Something you didn't even know you needed more than what it was you were looking for?

Me, too.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gaining by Losing

It was just going to be a closet, my closet. The one that is a catch-all. The one with wrapping paper, photo albums, extra shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste. The one where things go that don't have any other place to go. That one. On Saturday morning I woke up and just couldn't stand that closet another minute. Mind you, it hasn't bothered me in seven years, but on Saturday it became intolerable.

Hauled everything out of there that had no business being in there, then decided to tackle my clothes and shoes. Decided that half of those were just taking up space, as well. Space I could use for, well... not sure at that time, but felt the call for space. More of it. 

Worked like a dog all weekend in between last trips for snow cones, trips to the park, Target for last minute school supplies/clothes, cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, and other weekend obligations and commitments.

When I was done I'd created space in my not-that-big-but-big-enough walk-in closet, to move my altar into it. Thing about my altar is, it's beautiful, but quite dusty and seldom used because it was set up right by a window that looks into the neighbor's house, and if I close the shade then it's too dark, and I don't want to turn on the lights, and well, you can easily see the trouble all that might cause for someone like me. My altar/mediation table had become something I dusted on rare occasion and when I remembered, filled up the offering bowls with water.

As I rearranged everything in my closet I decided that indeed, half of everything I own must go. After half my shoes and clothes were gone I looked at the top of my dresser. Covered in framed photographs. SO crammed I could not see any of them. Took half of them down and put them in the deal-with-later-pile which is now taking over the basement. Told STM about the new half of everything plan and he ate it up. "Just read in the I-Ching today that we gain by losing and lose by gaining." The man then set to work on his closet and purged it by more than half, probably by 3/4. "Someone could be really getting good use out of this and it's just taking up room in here."

So, be warned books, CDs, videos, candles, baskets, toys and outgrown children's clothes: you're next.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Writing Opportunities

My friend, Deb, has a variety of services she's offering writers, from 1:1 coaching to classes, to manuscript consulting, you name it, she can do it! There's no one I trust more with my own writing than Deb, and would hate to even imagine writing without her invaluable help, support and insight!

So, please check out her website and see what might fit your needs!

Writing the Breathings of Your Heart

Saturday, September 4, 2010



Every time you smile at someone, 
  it is an action of love
   a gift to that person, 
     a beautiful thing.

- Mother Teresa

* Photo from

Friday, September 3, 2010


STM and I went to the astrologer together Thursday. A date. A fun date. An informative date. A reaffirming date. I highly recommend such a date.

One thing she talked about that was going on in both our charts, was Saturn. "Saturn is the part of us that wants/ needs control, and we all have it," she said. "It's the part that builds structures that make things safe and hold meaning and value." STM and I have a LOT of Saturn activity in our charts. When you reframe it like that, however, it's so much nicer to think of yourself as creating structures to make things safe and hold meaning and value, than to just be, well, controlling.

Alas, there is a time for creating structures, and a time to step aside and let come what may.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Had an epiphany today: I realized that I have coupled in my brain, the belief that when something ends, anything really, that A) that is a bad thing, and B) nothing good will come after it. I know in my heart and soul that that is absolutely false, the opposite is in fact true, but my mind has itself convinced that endings are bad and changes brought about by endings are painful, hard, and to be avoided at all costs.

My cousin Emily was here in Portland recently. There was a second memorial service for her husband, and I got to spend more time with her. I told her how much I marveled at her calmness, her it-will-all-work-out-ness, and especially her lack of need for control. "You're easy to help," I said, "because you allow others to do it, you don't have a way it has to work, you're okay with however it does work."

"That's because I finally learned that things work out better when I don't plan them," she said. 

Since that conversation I've been really watching and touching with gentle awareness how true that is in my own life, too. Each day I try to have a plan for the day, and on the days something happens to change that plan (read: every day), when I allow the new plan to emerge and not fight it, but go with it, it works out even better than the very excellent plan I had thought/obsessed over. Without fail.

Got some news yesterday that some things are going to change around here. Even though the news wasn't a complete shock, or in any way bad news in and of itself, I have been struggling to not view the change as bad just because it is change. The change changes my plans. My plans were good ones, therefore any change to them is bad. I'm working with Mary to reprogram myself to believe that change is neutral and natural, that old moves on so that new may move in, seasons pass, we all evolve and with that evolution comes shedding and growing, dying and rebirth, over and over and over again.

And it's all according to plan.

* Photo from


Driving a car without brakes--stopping the card Fred Flintstone style, new year at college with new roommates, a house so filled-to-over-flo...