Saturday, December 29, 2012


December 31, 1991

STM and I went out to dinner on Friday to celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary. Such is fitting for two middle-agers, we were home by 7:00, in bed by 9:00. That is not to say that we didn't have a wonderful time. We hoisted our wine glasses, looked into each other's tired eyes and STM said, "We've hung in, hung in, and hung in, and we still love each other."

It's fair to say we love each other more than we did when we got married, certainly more than when we thought we were first in love. And it hasn't all been "hanging in," there have been a lot of laughs along the way. Nobody can make me belly laugh like that one.

I can't, and won't even try to write the book on love. Married love, above all, is so complicated. (Parental love is simple.) There is no magic formula, it must work for the two parties involved and that is all - what is good for the goose, may not be good for the gander. There are double standards, silent agreements, spoken arrangements, and times when going to the mat is the only choice left. There are times when saying nothing is a sin, and when it's the greatest kindness you can offer the other. There are situations when retreating is the thing to do, and when being a dog with a bone is the saving factor. There is no road map and no key to the kingdom. It's trial and error, it's gut-it-out, it's savor the good and overlook the bad, it's for better for worse, it's forgive and forget, it's a spiritual covenant, it's a karmic relationship, it's a sacred contract.

I don't think all sacred contracts are meant to last a lifetime - some relationships, marriages, friendships, do what they were supposed to do - take us to where they were supposed to take us, teach us what they were supposed to teach us, then they expire. I do believe that my contract with STM is multi-lifetime, and that we came together in this lifetime, for very specific purposes (not the least of which was to have Woohoo and Rojo), and we have many more ahead.

At the end of January we will return to where this picture was taken - Kauai, 21-years later. We will celebrate my 50th birthday, and the people we are today, look back at the "kids" we were then, and look forward to what we will become. Together.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thank You

I woke up with the day-after-Christmas blues, one day late. Yesterday we kept busy, STM and Woohoo went back to work (she has a 3-week gig), Rojo and I went to yogurt with Kathleen and exchanged our Christmas presents with her. Then Rojo, my mom and I went over to visit my cousin and two of her kids that are visiting from Chicago, that was fun, and kept the festive feeling alive.

Today the it's-all-over-but-I-am-not-ready-to-put-it-all-away feeling crept in. I need to go to the grocery store. And the bank. And the drug store. And get gas. I need to do a lot of things that have been put off until "after Christmas," and the list overwhelms me, so I decided the thing to do was make an eggnog latte and sit down and write thank you notes. If I've learned anything, it's that nothing chases the blues away like a big dose of gratitude.

I gave Rojo personalized notecards for Christmas, and he was game to start using them today. He even embellished them slightly, veering from his standard, "Thank you, love, Rojo." As I sat down with my stack, lighted candle, pretty music and yummy drink, a feeling of deep thankfulness swelled up and washed away the blahs. The gifts themselves are lovely, and I appreciate them, but more than that, I appreciate the givers. I appreciate the thought that went into them. I appreciate, in four cases, that unexpected people gave me unexpected gifts that were right up my alley - and with no expectation of being given a gift in return.

And isn't that what a gift is? A gift? Not half of an equation, not part of an arrangement, not an obligation, not blind obedience to tradition, just simply an act of love?

Friday, December 21, 2012


Years ago when I heard about the Mayan calendar ending on 12/21/12, I went into a panic that rippled for quite some time. As we got closer and closer to the year, I got more and more worked up. Then a funny thing happened, as we turned our 2012 calendars to December and the 21st was just one more day before Christmas, one more day to get stuff done in a hurry, the last day Rojo had school, a day with things to do, people to see and places to go, it lost the feeling of being a day of any significance, and became just another day.

Then I spoke to my friend Val, and we decided it should NOT be just another day, it must be a day "marked by grounding and gratitude." We both feel that 2012 does, indeed, mark the end of an era, and that is a good thing. We feel the tides are turning and the winds of change are blowing. We might be wrong, but at least we'll be optimistic, hopeful, grateful and grounded while being wrong.

Val and are getting together for a couple hours today to meditate, share, hold each other's intentions for 2013, and do whatever the Spirit moves us to do. We'll each have Our Lady of Guadalupe candles, special books, and I'm even bringing my Enlightenment Cards.

And we will pray the prayer, that I think is the perfect prayer:

Open our eyes to see beauty,
Open our ears to hear truth,
Open our mouths to speak kindness,
Open our minds to seek wisdom,
And open our hearts to love.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Light One Candle

Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.

I am still too shaken up by the back-to-back shootings last week to write with any eloquence. As we approach the darkest day of the year, and with that, the turning back towards the light, let us light our candles with hope and optimism. Don't let the light go out, don't let the light go out, don't let the let go out!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our Lady of Guadalupe Day

Our Lady of Guadalupe day was wonderful on Wednesday, just what I need (what we all needed) after Tuesday's terrible tragedy. I was only able to attend the last half of the day because my hairdresser was only able to see me that morning, or not at all in December, and that was simply not an option. You understand. Just a little something I like to call priorities.

So, because I missed the morning, I had to do my homework ahead of time, and do what the other women were going to spend their morning doing.  I was to make a SoulCollage card, answering this question:

"What is Guadalupe asking you to bring into being, now, in this time of transformation?"

For those of you unfamiliar with SoulCollage, it's just that - you design a collage, by listening to what your soul is trying to tell you. You are really supposed to use just images, not words, but I'll be darned if what popped out from my soul was not words, words, and more words! I got the message loud and clear, what I'm called to bring into being is as "little" as possible. I think there's something big for me around the corner, but first, a time of stillness, at least inner, if not outer. See the one that says, "The O List"? I took that to mean the zero list. No list at all. Just typing that sends me into a panic. Where would I be without my lists? I hear tell of people that get themselves through a day without them! Hard to imagine!

At twelve noon we sat in a circle with our red Guadalupe candles aglow, and prayed together while listening to "She Who Hears the Cries of the World," from the CD, She Carries Me. I had to wipe my eyes several times, so emotional and beautiful to be in a sacred circle, very different women with one common prayer: peace.

I was with the sacred group for two and a half hours. The whole world may not have been transformed, but at least a part of me was.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


By now you've probably heard about the terrible tragedy in Oregon, where a gunman opened fire at the mall. That is the same exact mall where Rojo and I were just 24-hours (almost to the minute) before. The people in line to see Santa fled, Santa ducked and covered, two people died, one person was seriously injured, then the man killed himself.

I don't even know what to do with all this. I, who never watch the news, watched for three hours straight yesterday, staring in disbelief at what I knew to be true, listening to the same information over and over and over, hoping it would somehow change.

Rojo had big plans for us after school - I was to pick up Nancy on the way to get him, then the three of us would get yogurt at the Clackamas Promenade, then go to Costco because we were totally out of Tree Top fruit snacks, and that was the biggest problem in our lives at the time. Nancy and I got Rojo at 3:30 sharp, and five minutes later his whole school went into lockdown. Can you imagine Rojo in lockdown?

As we drove the short distance to the mall, we saw police car after police car, sirens blazing, but we couldn't quite tell where they were going, only that they were coming from all directions. By the time we got to yogurt we'd seen at least 20, and more were on their way. As Rojo started in on his second bowl of yogurt, a man ran into the place and said, "What's going on at the mall?" The workers there said, "There's a gunman in Macy's. 60 shots have been fired." (That number turned out to be exaggerated, but that was the number that everyone was hearing at the time.) It was surreal. Nancy, Rojo, me, the only customers, two trapped employees and some guy off the street, gathering our information and plan, suddenly thrown together by fate.

We told Rojo we would have to go to Costco another day - we wanted to get home and off the streets, we wanted to get in front of the news. Rojo protested briefly, but quickly saw that we weren't kidding. I think even he was shaken up a bit, although he argued to the contrary, continuing to blather on about minutiae, as we watched from across the street, the number of ambulances and police cars continue to increase their presence at the mall.

I know of one friend and neighbor who had just been to a movie with her elderly mother. Because her mother needed to use the bathroom before going home, they went out a different exit. Had her mother been ready to leave when the movie was over, they would have walked straight out into the food court where the shots were being fired.

Another neighbor and classmate of Rojo's was at the food court at the time, she and her friends abandoned all their things and ran out of the building. They are shaken up, but fine.

A friend of Woohoo's works at the mall. She had to hide in the building until the All Clear was called.



Lots of stories coming out about all the good will and cooperation that was shown, too. People helping each other. Store employees getting their customers in safely and then locking the gates. The elderly being helped to find safety, one man carried a pregnant woman while her husband picked up their toddler and ran.

Today is 12/12/12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Never have we needed her more.

Mary, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Follow Up

I know you're hardly able to carry on with your Christmas preparations, what with all the nail-biter cliff-hangers I've left you with, therefore, I'll fill you in on what you've missed.

Let's start with my role as the Eucharistic Minister, shall we? Let's just say I was incredibly nervous. I'd studied, read and re-read my list of instructions, and went through the process in my head multiple (like OCD) times. I asked to do the cup because I was way too nervous to try to do the bread, and give non-bread takers a blessing. It may take me months to work up to that one. When it was over, and I polished off the rest of the wine that was in my cup (per instructions), I put it down, bowed before the Tabernacle with the other servers, and sat down with waves of relief. Then, I didn't give it another thought (other than, phew!).

Mass was almost over, we were singing the song of sending forth, and the woman sitting in front of me turns around and says, "Aren't you supposed to be up there?" I'd totally forgotten that I needed to recess with the other servers, the priest, the deacon, and all the other VIPs, such as myself. I was mortified, but able to nearly sprint up there, do a quick bow just as I heard the cantor (Rojo's DD caseworker) say, "Verse one again." I'd taken so long to get up there, they'd run out of music. Everyone was waiting for me. Like, nightmare time, when the whole crowd is watching you screw up and things move in slow motion. Truly, horrifyingly embarrassing.

I haven't quite recovered. But here's the thing. We always sit in the same spot, way in the back on the right. This time, before church, Rojo had informed us we were sitting in a different place, behind two of his faves. If we hadn't sat there, I wouldn't have had the woman sitting in front of me that told me to get up there. No accidents. Still, it's a scene I keep replaying in my head, and no amount of STM telling me nobody noticed, will erase the moment of horror.

On a brighter note, the visit to Santa was as easy and pain-free as such a thing can be. We bolted to the mall after school, got in line behind about four other families. They were all so engrossed in grooming their (small) children and selecting photo packages, they didn't pay us much attention at all. The "elf" did look at us a little strangely, but I shut her down and informed her we were "just visiting," and were not going to be purchasing a photo, let alone a whole set of them. I told Rojo he didn't have to sit on Santa's lap, he could just go up to him and talk.

Rojo had spent the whole car ride, walk through the mall and standing in line time, debating on what to ask for. I thought we'd had that settled, he'd told STM he wanted pineapple licorice. Then he changed his mind to Thera-putty, then as we were walking through the mall and I pointed out the store where we were going next for jeans, he said, "Maybe I'll just ask for jeans."

So, that is how my 16-year-old stood near Santa, pointed to his jeans and told him he'd like a new pair, only longer, as he'd grown since the last time he'd seen him. "That couldn't have gone any better," he said when we were done. A few minutes later he said, "I don't think he recognized me."

"No, he may not have," I said, "but that's because you've changed so much since last year."

But really, he has only changed on the outside, inside he's still the sweet, innocent, thoughtful, grateful, easy-to-please boy, we all know and love.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Making God Laugh

So, you know what they say about making God laugh? Tell her your plans? Yea. A little like that. Rojo's plan to e-mail Santa didn't stick. He started back up with STM to go see Home Depot Santa. STM's sense of urgency and mine aren't quite the same, and by the time he did some checking, we learned that Home Depot wasn't going to have Santa appear this year. Again I tried with the e-mail idea, and again, it didn't stick. "We will just go to the mall and see Santa when we go to Bath and Body Works to get hand sanitizer," he told me, killing both of my ideas with one stone.

And so, friends, that's how it came to be that today after school, I will be standing in line with the babies and toddlers, and there will be even more of them, because we are going even later in the season that we would have if I had known this was the way it was all going down, and had any say in the matter.

Not only are we seeing Santa, and not only are we looking/shopping for MORE hand sanitizer, we are also attempting to buy him new jeans, and get a couple things I have been putting off getting at the mall, AND eating at the food court.

Pray for me.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Our friend Tom sent me the latest Mary-in-a-tree picture. We never noticed her before. We think she's making herself particularly apparent now, what with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception today (12/8), and next week's Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. You don't think it's an accident that this year, that is on 12/12/12? Who here doesn't believe there is POWER on that day, like no other, for the much-needed feminine divine? Bring it, Mary!

I'm just super excited. I'll be spending the day with 11 other women. At 12 noon we'll pray together. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing that day, won't you join us at 12:00 PST? I personally feel the future of this world hangs in the balance. Let's tip that mother!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Kissing My Own Ass

Rojo has an expression, "I'm kicking my own ass!" when he's killing himself, or otherwise driving himself crazy. Kathleen and I have taken it and run, but today I decided to give it a twist, because, basically, I am kissing my own ass, so pleased with myself, I simply must share.

First, I decided this year I simply could not, as in could. not. take Rojo to see Santa. For those of you that think it's cute and sweet that he still wants to go, I beg you to stand in line at the mall with the babies and toddlers, and your 5'10" 16-year-old, and tell me it's cute. It's not cute. It's brutal. Plus, Rojo had kind of opened the door to me not taking him when he said, "Would it break your heart if you didn't take me to see Santa this year? Would it be okay if Dad and I went to the one at Home Depot?"

I knew that STM's Santa-ability was even less than my zero ability, but I decided to make that Rojo's problem. "No, it would not break my heart. Work it out with Dad."

I asked a couple more times if he and Dad had a plan worked out, and Rojo would always say, "He's thinking about it." I knew that the longer it took to get the message to Santa, the more stress I'd be under trying to find whatever weird and random thing he pulled out of his butt to ask for, so I started getting panicky.

"You know, you don't always have to ask for something, you can just say to Santa, 'Surprise me!'"

Yesterday he was digging all over for "flavored" hand sanitizer, another of his obsessions. I had a stroke of brilliance. "Rojo! Why don't you ask Santa for flavored hand sanitizer for Christmas! He can bring you all kinds! AND, you don't even have to tell him in person, you can e-mail him! He just needs to know what you want, he doesn't have to actually see you."

"Do you just e-mail him at" he asked.

"Yes!" I said, having no idea if that were true.

I scurried to my BFF Google shortly after and found out that yes, you can e-mail ol' St. Nick.

Rojo's happy. Care is happy. STM is happy. Santa's happy. His clean, well-sanitized hands will be happy!

Then, the second big awesome accomplishment of mine, right on the heels of this one, was the Christmas card. Let's just say there were some bumps along the way, and in a frenzy I ordered a bunch without really counting how many I truly needed. When I printed out the labels I realized I'd ordered quite a few too many, and they weren't cheap (but I am). Here's the part where I get awesome: I made a list of people that weren't on the list, but should be. That was fun! They were, for the most part, people that are angels in Rojo's life, who aren't necessarily friends of the whole family, but they are his friends, therefore, ours. You know what I mean.

Ho, ho, ho!

* Photo from

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Contagious Personality

Rojo came home from school today with this list. Apparently his health class did some activity, where all the kids passed paper around, and the rest of the class wrote down what they liked about everyone. I'm having a bit of a hard time piecing it all together, as Rojo said, "I have no idea," when I asked him what the list was about. It was only after asking him if he wrote down things on other people's lists, that I got a few more details.

I love the list. I agree with the list. My favorite on the list, I think, is "contagious personality." I would have to agree that he's contagious.

His dear friend since kindergarten is in this class. It's the only mainstream class Rojo has (and he has a 1:1 student assistant). I love that Rojo and his buddy are together one period a day. I love that they try to crack each other up in there to make the day more fun for each other. I love that the friend wrote, "best buds 4ever."


Not enough can be made of that.

Contagious. What can I say?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Answering the Call

I recently went through a training to become a Eucharistic Minister - one that serves communion. It's something I've wanted to do for a long, long time. The winter schedule came out, and guess what? I am scheduled to serve communion for the very first time, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception - December 8th. That is the day that celebrates Mary's (as opposed to Jesus') immaculate conception, a woman free from "sin." Whether or not you buy all that, you've got to agree that Mary was someone that said, "YES!" to her calling, her purpose, her soul's journey.

Maybe it's the fact that I am nearly 50, but I have been spending a lot of time lately, thinking about just that. Am I saying, "yes," to my life? To what I'm called to do? My reason for being here? I know a woman that has had one impressive, and diverse, profession/calling after another, and she already knows what her next one will be. It, too, is exciting, and I couldn't agree more that she'd be perfect for it. Me? Not so much. When I was a teacher, I was a good one, but no part of me wants to do that again.  When I'm honest with myself, I've never really aspired to be "more" than a wife and a mother. Staying home and taking care of my family and home, has been my dream, and my reality. You don't get much more blessed than when that's the case.

I take comfort in the fact that Mary was not flashy in her time, she did one big thing in a quiet way - she mothered. She took care of a special boy so that he could do what he was called to do.

*Photo from

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Blunders and Absurdities


Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
Ralph Waldo Emerson


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...