Thursday, December 8, 2016

I Do

Going nowhere...isn't about turning your back on the world; it's about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.

This was in my very-cluttered in-box, this morning, from  It reminded me of my favorite song from "Godspell," "Day-by-Day:"

Day by day, oh, dear Lord, three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly, day by day

Day by day, day by day
Oh, dear Lord, three things I pray

To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly, day by day

The song's simplicity and repetition, makes it a chant. And a chant is just what I need sometimes, to help sort me out, drown out all the noise and internal mind chatter, and just settle down.

The quotation reminded me that while I'm a big fan of "going nowhere," sometimes you gotta go somewhere. Got home last night from a 7-day, 6-night "honeymoon" with my husband. We got married in Hawaii 25-years-ago this month, and felt that was worthy of the money and multiple preparations it would take to pull off a get-away like that.

It was.

I won't go into how 25+ years ago I became engaged, but was not formally proposed to. There, in Hawaii, my husband dropped to one knee, pulled out a simple, elegant, platinum band, and asked if he could have the great honor of 25 more years together.

He placed the ring atop the other rings, making a trinity. The past. The present. The future. The good. The bad. The ugly. The richer/poorer. The sickness/health. The better/worse.

My hands ain't what they used to be. 25-years-ago someone suggested I could be a hand model. Today, they are veiny, heavily spotted with age, the knuckles so large I need an "arthritic clasp" to get one ring on. I've never loved my hands more. My hands tell a story. Our story.

We left 85-degrees, yesterday, and returned to 35-degree Portland, where school has already been cancelled, and snow and ice are on their way. We got into our car at the airport, and a tire was flat. Same tire that gave us trouble before we left. Same tire I said needed to be fixed before we go, because I didn't want to come back from a great trip, and have a flat tire waiting for us. Same fight, different version, we've been having for 25 years. 

There isn't a doubt in my mind we'll continue to play this out until death do us part. We are two very different people, with very different approaches to just about everything, with a few exceptions. We are, at our cores, two people who trust and love one another, and take our vows very seriously.

Those lyrics can apply to marriage, too. To see each other more clearly. To love each other more dearly. To sometimes lead, sometimes follow, and sometimes walk along side of each other, through this thing called life. 

Our vows, a chant.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


It was after noon before I brushed my hair, yesterday. I'd been up since 5:00, had run a million errands, all in my sweats, and finally got in the shower about 12:30. Decided at that point, what was the point of even washing my hair? Just ran a brush through it and called it good-enough. 

Started thinking about all the time I used to spend on my hair each day, sometimes over half-an-hour, blow-drying, curling, spraying, examining it from every angle with a hand-held mirror, and trying to get it just so. I cannot tell you the last time I used a hand-held mirror, to see my head from any angle. What my hair looks like from the back, is none of my concern these days. I don't care.

In the 1950's house I grew up in, we had a fancy mirror/medicine chest system, comprised of three mirrors. The two on the ends opened, and you could position them in such a way that you could see the back, front, and center of your head. When you got up close and squeezed them in, it had an infinity effect - you went on forever.

I woke up this morning with that image. While I think it's important to look back from time-to-time, it's not important to dwell on the past. While it's important to look forward, to plan, to get excited, to anticipate, to prepare, it's not where our heads should "be." What's behind us and what's before us, isn't as important as what's right in front of us, the front view, facing forward. 

We go on forever, we are infinite, but all we can control, all that is ours, is this moment. The now.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Many and One

I've had two people tell me they're waiting for me to say something profound, to help them understand what just happened in the world.

I, myself, don't understand, and have been a bit of a recluse the last two days, trying to avoid human contact as much as possible. I've stayed off social media. I've felt the division so strongly in the world, that it makes me afraid to even open my mouth at all, anxious about the response I might get.

Couldn't sleep last night and made the mistake of turning on the TV. CNN was showing live, the riots in downtown Portland. It was surreal. This was not "elsewhere," this was five miles from my house.

Openend up my email this morning and found this nugget from The Universe:

These are the times, Carrie - when hopes are dashed and chaos abounds - that golden opportunities, prized ideas, and new friends emerge into the view of all, but at first are seen only by the few who look. 

Let's go crazy, 
    The Universe

The few friends I have talked to about the news, had one thing in common: it's a time for action. It's a time to decide what most matters to us, and to get behind it. We can't be complacent. We can't stay in our grief and overwhelm, we have to get moving.

One thing I heard discussed in the after math, was the assumption that certain blocks of voters, would vote a certain way, and either they didn't all do that, or they didn't vote at all. I think any time we put each other into categories and restrictive, assumptive boxes, we are asking for trouble. Do you fit tidily into just one anything?

At our church we sing a song I love, Many and One reminding us that we are called to bring mercy and peace to this world. After we have recovered from the shock and depression, we must look up,  out and forward. We must seek to unite. We must see what we have in common with those on the "other side," and how to work together to serve those that need our help.

We must remember that while we are many, and it feels like an Us vs. Them situation, we cannot resign ourselves to that way of thinking, we have to see that we are One.

Monday, October 24, 2016


I hate this election and everything about this election, and have started many a blog post to tell you just that. Instead, I am going to tell you how I took Wil out to lunch at the most disgusting "restaurant" after church on Sunday, and it and everything about it was doomed from the start. First of all, the place was hard to find. The only reason we were going there was because he'd done his research, and they served Tropicana fruit punch from a self-serve dispenser, and what's better than that? The line to order was miserably long. And slow. Lots of little old ladies and their coupons. Lots of inefficiency and disorganization. I wanted to turn and walk out a number of times.

Wait, we did, and when we finally got our food, Wil tore into a tub of barbecue sauce and it sprayed his coat, covering his front and both sleeves. I helped him out of it, pulling it inside out and placing it in the re-usable bag I always carry in my purse. We finally finished our "meal," hurried home, and I threw the inside-out coat and the re-useable bag, in the wash and started it.

Heard a clunk-clunk-clunk but was all about getting into my walking clothes, and getting outside. Came home, pulled out the coat and thought it felt awfully heavy. It was then that I put it all together, and realized I'd not gone through the pockets, and of course, Wil's phone was in one of them.

Now, it's not a smart phone or anything fancy, but he loves it and we want him to have it for all the reasons people want and need phones. We carry insurance on it because believe you me, this is not its first run-in with water. Not two months ago we replaced it because it went in a swimming pool, after he deliberately took it from his shorts, and put it into his swim trunks, got in, then reached in his pocket to make a text before realizing what had just happened.

I get it.

He was super cute when I told him the bad news. He just kind of smiled that, You're a real piece of work smile, and I assured him we'd get it replaced, AGAIN, and he'd be back in business, AGAIN, but we'd have to wait around all day for the UPS delivery tomorrow, AGAIN.

Today, before we headed out to run our errands, he ran back in the house. When he met me in the car he said, "I wrote you a note so you wouldn't forget to take my phone out of the pockets before you wash my coat, next time."

No promises.

Friday, September 30, 2016

We Can Sit Wherever We Like

Wil and his friend, Timmy, are taking a rhythm and drumming class on Wednesdays at noon. We pick up Timmy, I drop the boys off, then have an hour all to myself, that just so happens to coincide with lunchtime. This week, I decided that I would seize the beautiful fall day, and walk to a nearby restaurant, and dine on something other than pizza or hamburgers for a change.

We eat out a lot, but the restaurant choice is never mine, and to eat in a healthy (vegan, even) restaurant with a cloth napkin, and be seated at a cute little table in a hip neighborhood, was a real treat. A sweet-faced young man looked at me and asked, "Just one, today?" I don't know how he knew I was alone, and not just the first to arrive, and maybe he didn't know, maybe that's just what he says to people that walk in alone.

What I do know, is that once he got busy serving, a woman with purple hair, many tattoos and a lovely smile, began greeting the new arrivals. Two woman walked in, and I overheard, "We can sit wherever we like." That sounded a bit confrontational to me, so I looked over and saw that the hostess was still smiling, and the two women were delighted with their table.

Next, a man walked in, and again I heard a woman say, "We can sit wherever we like."

I was confused. I put down the book I was reading, and looked up. The hostess was indeed the one letting the patrons know that "we" can sit wherever "we" want. Like I says,* it was noon, and the restaurant was quick to fill up. Over and over I heard, "We can sit wherever we like."

It turns out the "hostess" wasn't the hostess. There was no host. There was no hostess. There were only employees that worked together in a restaurant, and at least one of them wanted to make sure that the everyone that walked in those doors, felt like part of something larger than themselves.

We really can sit wherever we like, when you think about it.

The choice is ours.

* I say this just to annoy my husband.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Still Stuck

Couple nights ago I dreamed we were going to move and share a house with another family we know, whom also has a child that experiences a disability. I was very optimistic how all that was going to work, how we were going to share time, talent and treasure, until I got chided for using the wrong bathroom. When I looked around the house again, I realized she was right, I'd been using the one near their bedroom, and I hadn't even noticed the one right by ours. This is never going to work, I decided then and there.

Last night, I was driving with Wil and my friend Kim, and I can only assume her son, Tim, was in the backseat with Wil, but he was uncharacteristically quiet, in the dream. Like I said, I was driving, and that can only mean one thing, I'm bound to get us lost. Kim is a very good driver and navigator, and in the dream she was also trying to help, but I went too far down some weird road, and then couldn't find a place to turn around.

Eventually, I turned into some sort of site and made an attempt to turn around but it was impossible. The road ended and the only choice would be to make a jump for it, and try to cross the abyss while flying through the air. Because we were nearly wrapped around a large tree and at a dead stop, there was no way to gain enough momentum to even consider the risky move.

We were stuck.

We couldn't go forward and we couldn't go backward.

We couldn't leap into the unknown.

We all got out and walked to some building, which turned out to be a lodge of sorts. There were other guests also staying until they could get un-stuck. I was given confusing directions about where to go to reserve a room for the night, how one actually gets out of there, and ended up even further lost and confused. The staircases were "wrong," and unusable. The front desk wasn't where I was told it would be. The route out took two days by foot, led by a man with a cane. "But I have a car," I said, "what about that?"

Mid-dream the other people I was with switched from Kim and Tim, to my cousins and their families. They seemed to have no problem figuring out a solution to the situation. I could see them down in the lobby making reservations and treating the whole situation like an unexpected vacation. I couldn't even figure out how they got to the lobby from where we were, let alone how they seemed excited about the whole thing.

Finally, I ended up in the side office of a very nice woman, and cried that I had a child with special needs. I didn't have any food he would eat, I couldn't find any restaurants. We were due home and there was no way I could wait until tomorrow to start a two-day, slow walk back.

The dream ended when I woke up. There was no clear ending. There was no satisfying resolution. There was no disastrous result, either.

Sometimes, when you go down a weird road for too long, it's very difficult to find a place to turn around.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


10. Wishing I'd been a journalism major

 9.  Being super glad I'm not a journalist in today's world

 8. Reading a lot of memoirs and judging them (both the memoirs and the memoirists)

 7. Making long lists of possible titles for possible books I could possibly write

 6. Checking Amazon to see if my great titles are already taken by writers much better than I

 5. Immediately emailing various people to let them know my great ideas have been dashed

 4. Watching YouTube videos how to download a library book onto my Kindle

 3. Browsing through tons of books I have no intention of ever reading

 2. Drinking a lot of coffee in various coffee shops, while "writing"

 1. Watching Pets Who Hate Donald Trump, instead of doing almost anything else

Monday, September 5, 2016


Is it just me, or are you all getting asked all the time, "Doing anything fun today?" or some iteration of that theme. I get asked at the grocery store when I'm checking out. I get asked when I'm paying for our froyo. I get asked as we're paying for our pizza.

I want to shout back, "This is the 'fun' thing we are doing today!"

I don't.

I know they are just being polite and trying to be friendly and start a conversation. They are trying to take an interest in me/us. They are just doing their job.

So I don't shout at all. But nor do I ever have a satisfying reply.

It makes me feel like my life isn't fun enough. Like I'm not out there whooping it up like the other customers. Like I've somehow failed at fun and need to go home and study more, so I can pass the test the next time it's offered.

I think my (ridiculous) irritation comes from me assuming they are describing "fun" as "pleasure," and "pleasure" as equalling "happiness."

I think I think every question needs an answer.

I think I think too much.

Over-thinking, is not "fun."

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Yesterday, I took Wil and a friend of his to lunch. Generally, when Wil and this friend, Timmy, make plans, the plans are 99% Wil's plans, and Timmy has to go along for the ride. This time, however, Wil made a stab at being considerate, and suggested we go to New Seasons, and eat outside on the roof, because Timmy had been suggesting that for quite some time.

New Seasons, for those who don't know, is a high-end grocery store, that happens to have a roof top dining option. While it's been in our neighborhood for almost a year, and I've been there many times, I had not attempted to figure out how the whole buying-your-food-downstairs-and-taking-it-to-the-roof thing, worked.

To say Wil is neither an adventuresome, nor healthy eater, is an understatement. I didn't know what we'd find there that he would actually eat. Timmy and I settled on build-your-own burritos, and I talked the man behind the counter, into selling us a plain ol' bowl of shredded, seasoned chicken, for Wil to eat. "Taco," as Wil for years has called such meat, was going to be just the ticket. This was going to be the day I high-fived the Universe and reveled in our success at branching out, trying new things, doing something fun and different.

I had hoped to time our trip to New Seasons to avoid the noon-hour rush, but circumstances had us arriving there at exactly that time. "Circumstances," being Wil's random, but hard fast rule that we'd leave the house at 11:51. When we arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn't crowded at all. Then, I remembered seeing all the school buses and back-to-school hubbub in the morning: Portland Public Schools had started up again.

We got our trays, paid for our stuff, hiked up two flights of stairs, found a great table with a view of the area below, and enjoyed the perfect weather.

For about 2.5 minutes.

In his perfect bowl of organic, cage-free shredded chicken, Wil found a tiny bone.

That was it. He wasn't eating another bite. No amount of combing through the rest of the bowl to prove there were no more bones, that that was not going to happen again, that it wasn't normal to find bones, and was just a fluke, would convince him.

My bliss was broken. I then became aware that the only other people up on the roof, were moms with toddlers. The table next to us had two women with strollers, their toddlers happily eating all the healthy food they put in front of them, while the women discussed the preschool options in the area. I couldn't help but over-hear. I couldn't help but be wistful. I couldn't help but see that at times, it feels like we're going backwards.

If not backwards, not forward. Maybe more of a "Groundhog Day," type thing. Stuck. Time marches on around us, and we stay in the same place.

There is evidence all around us, to the contrary. I know that. You don't need to reassure me of that or remind me of "how far we've come." For sure, we have. Big time.

But the grief/acceptance cycle isn't predictable or linear. Chicken bones can get stuck in more than your throat.

They can stick in your heart.

Sunday, August 21, 2016


Last night I dreamed I was about to take a final. I was somewhere between the age when people typically take finals, and the age I am now. I was some vague age taking some vague final for some vague class. I had not studied. I could not remember having been to the class for quite some time. The final included memorizing formulas of which I had not ever bothered to learn. It was 30 minutes before the final, when I finally remembered I was to take the final. Emotionally, I was a mix between freaked out, and perturbed that my plans for the day would have to be altered, if I wanted to get to that final.

Had a dream a couple of weeks ago, one of those back-to-school dreams, that teachers know so well. Was assigned a new school, a new grade (kindergarten!), and showed up to work for the very first time, on the first day of school. Walked into my new classroom, just as the kids were arriving. Had nothing arranged. Had nothing planned. Had nothing ready for the day, let alone the year.

Once a student, always a student.

Once a teacher, always a teacher

Aren't they one in the same? Aren't we all teachers and students, students and teachers, every day, all day long, our whole lives?

Do we ever go "back" to school?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Net Gain

Been awhile since I posted. Been busy and yet have had plenty of time to watch bad TV and in general, just goof off.

Summers are for that, goofing off.

Made a goal in May to read six books this summer. Just finished number six. That being said, two were Mindy Kaling's memoirs, and while delightful, hardly qualify as literature.

Don't feel much like doing anything that requires much brain power. Might be being over 50. Might be not being all that intelligent to begin with. Might be that at times it feels each and every thought I have, big or small, important or irrelevant, is interrupted and replaced with someone else's big or small, important or irrelevant thought.

Had a circular conversation yesterday over the change from a $5.00 bill. The ice cream truck came through the neighborhood for perhaps the second time all summer. Five notes in of, "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" and I'm in PTSD from the years and years and years of revolving our lives around whether or not the ice cream truck would come, when, and where. Gave Wil $5.00 and a drawstring bag, and told him to go find the truck on his bike.

We've come a long way.

He came back very happy, and had eaten a Minion treat that he said was $1.00. "I gave him $5.00 and he gave me back $2.50, because it was a dollar." No amount of me explaining it must have cost $2.50, since $2.50 plus $2.50 equalled $5.00, was accomplishing anything except making me want to stab myself.

I dropped it.

I was able to be happy that he had made it all happen without me. Without drama. Without stress. Without any working knowledge of basic, functional math, either, but without me.

Ran errands on Saturday morning, and he was prattling on and on about the fall football games coming up, his plans to have a sleep-over after every-other game, while simultaneously giving me Starbucks orders for people for whom he'd like to buy a treat. All of a sudden, he grins from ear-to-ear, joy in his voice and says, "I should marry myself 'cause everything good is happening to me."

My brain may be shot, but my heart and soul grow by the minute.

Thursday, July 14, 2016



Wil is 20 today. No longer a teenager. In fact, I'm out of teenagers around here, which makes me feel old and accomplished, both at the same time.

Somehow, two decades have passed, and we enter a third. We are all a little/lot the worse for wear, yet, enriched, enhanced, perhaps even a tad more enlightened.

Wouldn't wish the last 20 years on my worst enemy.

Wouldn't trade them for the world.

It's the push and pull.

It's the paradoxes that make up life and love.

It's the living in the liminal space.

It's having to establish boundaries where we need them, and break them down where we don't.

It's having to grab hold of what keeps us sane and let go of what no longer serves us.

It's a paring down and a building up.

It's a force-fit into more mindfulness.

It's a clarifier that 20 years of having that feeling of your feet in the starting blocks, ready for that gun to go off, can bring.

On a continuum between barely surviving and completely thriving, we've moved in the right direction.

Today, as we celebrated at 5:07 AM with ice cream cake and boxes to open, what the boxes actually contained being of little to no importance, we heard a "Thank you" after each gift was discovered. When I said, "Look up, I want to take your picture," he looked up. He then helped clean up the mess, put his dirty plate in the sink, and washed his hands without an argument.

He quickly changed his clothes into the new Nike apparel, before hustling off at 6:45 for the daily Mass that starts at 8:00. Last night at a church BBQ, the priest received his instructions to have the mass-goers sing Happy Birthday this morning. When asked by one friend what he wanted for his birthday, he said, "Vacation Bible School is my present. I have everything else I want."

He is here to serve.

He is here to teach.

He is here to tire, wear down, exhaust and deplete to such a point, that what goes back in has to be different than what went out.

Happy birthday to my teacher, my sidekick, my companion, my friend.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Near Miss

Well, Wil forgot entirely about "needing" ground cocoa, but did not forget about needing a lid for his certain re-usable cup he wanted to fill with water for camp. He did not forget to make it my #1 mission in life to track down said lid, before there could be any peace.

Off we went to 7-Eleven, in hopes one of their Big Gulp lids would fit. It did. The nice man behind the counter said we could have the $0.001 lid, but I felt obligated to buy something, so we looked around the store.

We were the only ones in the store, until a man wearing one of those fluorescent orange vests, walked in and headed to the coffee. We left the store with our purchase and our free lid, and got in my car. I started to drive out of the parking lot, and noticed the driveway was semi-blocked by a truck. Thinking that was weird, I stopped, watched for a second, and realized the truck was indeed in motion. Looking up at the cab of the truck, I saw that it held no driver. Putting two-and-two together, I realized the driver must be inside 7-Eleven, getting coffee (which he, obviously, had not had enough of).

I reversed, parked, ran in the store yelling, "YOUR TRUCK! IT'S MOVING! IT'S ROLLING DOWN THE STREET!" The man in the orange vest flew out of the store, hopped in his truck and drove it to safety, before hitting or injuring anyone or anything.

I don't know what I'm more in awe of, the fact that there are no accidents? If we hadn't needed that lid, we never would have been there. If we'd taken the lid and left, and not shopped for a minute, we would have been gone before the man arrived. Or, that with enough adrenaline, my brain can still kick into gear and process information?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I Forget

In the last 42 hours, I have helped my children find two sets of keys, a wallet, a jacket, a pair of prescription glasses, and a cell phone. These were not items misplaced at home, no, these were items that were left behind and had to be tracked down. In all cases, the items were found and held safe by  good-hearted strangers, until we could claim them.

It should be noted that I was not with either of my children, when they lost said items.

Had an impromptu, and lovely, visit with my neighbor and friend last night. She is busy with a demanding career and the responsibilities that come from taking care of aging parents. Although we live across the street from one another, we rarely see each other.

As we caught up, the conversation moved from subject-to-subject. I shared with her, that I'm very worried about my poor memory, the lapses between what I want to say, and what I am actually saying, the increased dependence on Post-It notes and phone reminders, to make sure things get done, and the train of life stays on the track. I shared that I made a grocery list last week, came home with everything crossed off, yet, when I went to look for the corn tortillas, they were nowhere to be found. I remember standing in the aisle looking for them. I remember not finding the ones I like best on one stand, and intending to walk across the aisle to the other stand. Somewhere between that intention and the execution, I became distracted. Could have been that I got a text from Wil with further orders for the day. Could have been that I saw something else in the store, that wasn't on the list, and when I veered for a second off my shopping rhythm, I lost the thread of what I was doing, entirely. Could have been that I thought of something else, grabbed my phone to make a note so I wouldn't forget, and then, forgot what it was I was doing while I was trying to remember what not to forget.

Could it be that I forget what I'm doing because I spend so much of every day keeping everyone else on track? "Do you have your key?" "Do you have your phone?" "Do you have your money?" "Remember when you get there to ___________."

Could it be that I am bombarded from 5:30 AM to 8:00 PM, every day, with total and absolute minutiae that is made to be do-or-die? Last night, while trying to enjoy an outing with STM and two of our favorite people, I got an urgent text from Wil: "ONE THING WE NEED TO GET ALSO FOR OUR HOUSE IN PORTLAND IS GROUND COCOA."

Could it be that I'm 53 and just plain getting old?

Where was I going with this? I don't know. What I do know, is I have to wrap this up because we "need" to go get ground cocoa. Not sure what we'll do with it, but that's neither here nor there.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

To Die Before Dying

We know there are many kinds of deaths. We experience the death/loss of relationships, ideals, aspirations, images and identities we held for ourselves, hopes and dreams. Life is on a continual and multi-level cycle of death and rebirth. The old must "die" for new life to be born.

We speak of caterpillars and butterflies. We talk about the circle of life. We throw up our hands and say, "It is what it is," but for most of us, the struggle continues. The struggle to understand and the struggle to lose the need to understand. The struggle to control and the struggle to lose the need to control. The struggle to hold on and the struggle to lose the need to hold on.

I sat this morning, prayerfully shuffling the Mother Mary Oracle cards. I drew Our Lady of Resurrection. She comes to us at a time of resurrection and release. A time of light at the end of a long, dark, circuitous tunnel.

The invitation comes to reflect on the wisdom and meaning of the nocturnal animal, the owl. What has this night-time of the soul brought forward? We think of owls as serene, wise, with an unusual way of looking at things. With the help of owl wisdom, we can find peace after a "death" of any type, we can find our serenity, our wisdom, and adjust our way of looking at things.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


Today is the 20th anniversary of my father's death. June 7th, 1996. I was eight months pregnant. We had our house for sale by owner. I had a barely-two-year-old. My father had been living two hours away. I'd had insomnia for months. I was big, hot, tired, overwhelmed and pulled in every direction. It was  not a good chapter, and I don't often let my mind go there.

And yet, 20 years later, there's been enough time, healing, distance, perspective and dulling of memory, to make it all feel like a bad dream - one in which I've awaken from. Either that, or a story I heard about someone else. Someone, perhaps, I used to know but with whom I have lost touch.

Today,  I will light a special candle for the man that helped bring me into this incarnation. I will let it burn all day. I will reflect on the light held safely within the glass. The light that has the power to purify. The light that has the power to transform.

Friday, June 3, 2016


Had it all planned out. I had the laptop ready-to-go. I was going to spend at least a couple hours trying to write, elsewhere, since no real writing seems to get done at home, what with all the constant noise and demands, both real and imagined.

Just as I was grabbing my keys, putting on my shoes, and about to leave, my husband called. There was a family emergency, of sorts, and was I free?

While dealing with the sort-of-emergency, Wil called. He was at home with his support worker, and the WiFi wasn't working to his satisfaction. Why ask your support worker to help you, when you can just call Care?

"Go upstairs, look at the wall where the WiFi 'things' are plugged in, and unplug them," I coached.

"These?" He asked. "Right here?"

"I can't see what you're looking at. Are you looking at the wall?"

We went several rounds of that, before I asked to speak to the support worker.

Hours later, when all the emergencies of the day had been dealt with as much as they could possibly be, I reflected on Wil's questions. "These? Right here?"

It is often hard to know what we're looking at. Despite guidance, direction, information and having it right in front of us, we cannot always see it. We don't know what to do with it. It's confusing. Sometimes, we need someone else to come along and unplug us - force us to step back, take a break, before starting up all over again.

Monday, May 30, 2016


So many dreams, so little time to tell you all about them. Let's go with the most prominent one:

I have offered to help a friend with her young daughter, I am going to go across, and up the street and get her, but the day turns to black night, is filled with cars coming from both directions, with no headlights on, and I can't cross. The street turns to ocean, but the sky remains black. I levitate across the water to the other side, but it's so dark, I can't find the daughter, so I come back. When I am rejoined with my friend, the sky has turned back to day, and I try to convince her it had just been pitch-black a minute ago, I swear.

Immediate thoughts:

I was only going to be able to help for 25 minutes, anyway, so what's the big deal?

What's up with the sky dramatically, and unpredictably changing?

What's up with it only being me that saw the sudden shifts?

When did I learn to levitate, and why can't I do it all the time?

"Deep" thoughts:

Life can look dark, then suddenly, the sun comes out. And vice-versa.

We don't need other people to see what we see, experience what we experience, to make it true.

Things change.

Getting up and over the tricky parts of life (levitating) is the key.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Had a Monday morning walk planned, that I'd been looking forward to. Needed the fresh air. Needed to move the body. Needed to get caught-up on ELD (every little detail) with my friend.

As I am wont to do, I tried to cram one more To Do in, before leaving for the walk. I had two outside planters with not-thriving plants in them, and was going to re-plant with thriving plants. Moving the planters from the front to back, where I'd have a hose, and a working surface, and the new plants, seemed hard. The planters were heavy. Tried moving the new plants and all the stuff to the front, but was making such a mess, decided to go back to Plan A. Got a little make-shift cart from the garage to help transport the planter. Tried pulling it. Didn't work. Tried pushing it, worked, until it didn't, and we hit a change in elevation on the driveway, and the cart, with increased velocity due to the incline, sent the planter straight into my shin.

Hurt like hell and my first thought was how irritating. Looked down, and there was huge swelling and bruising, instantly. Walking was painful. The sheer speed and size of the swelling scared me. The rest of the day's plans were scraped, and I spent as much time as possible, elevating and icing it.

Wil really "needed" to go to Bi-Mart and get the one thing from "our" list he had forgotten the day before, from "our" very important list. Talked my now-cancelled walking partner, into taking him to Bi-Mart, as I didn't think I could drive with my right leg in the condition it was in. Didn't know until she brought him home, that she was under-the-weather, too.

Some days our plans are just big cosmic jokes.

Some days our friends go the extra mile, and put your needs before their own.

Some days you just have to accept the situation for whatever it represents, for whatever it is, for whatever it isn't, and just elevate.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Had a very fitful sleep last night. I needed to pick someone up in the "middle" of the night (10:00 PM),  and when I got them where they were going and got myself settled in bed, I tossed and turned all night. Long about 4:00 AM the land line rang. Now, before you say it, the only reason we have a land line, is it would raise our bill to cut it. Turns out someone was trying to fax something to our non-fax phone, and they were quite persistent, and no sooner had I hung up, than they would try again.

Very annoying.

And so, when I did sleep, I dreamed weirder-than-usual dreams. Most memorable was helping a young teacher move into her newly redecorated classroom, and realizing there were no chairs for the students. Suddenly, a large group of older kids and adults were all filing out to go in search of chairs, and we ended up outside, far from the school, and walked (without the chairs) in the opposite direction. I ended up in a different school (high school?) with three other people, crouched in some back stairway, all using our smart phones to determine where we were, and where we were supposed to be, and the route in which to get there.

To no avail.

Nothing I/we tried worked, and ironically, the most map-challenged one of us (me) seemed to be leading the charge.

Moral of the story: Your smart phone ain't gonna tell you where you are in life, where you're supposed to be, and the route in which to get there.

Or something like that, I'm too tired to figure it out.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


I've been playing, and loving, the game Masterpiece, since 1976, when it came out. We owned a game, my cousins owned a game, and between the two families, there have been a million turns around the board, amassing each of us lots of play money and familiarity with the art featured in the game.

Ten years ago, three of my cousins and I were all together and in Chicago, and able to walk through the Chicago Art Institute, where many of the masterpieces used in the game, are actually hanging. We all had our favorites, we remember which ones were "worth" $1,000,000 one time when we "owned" them. We remember which ones, despite the odds, frequently were forgeries. We remember when I mis-pronounced "forgery" and said, "fogery," and we remember how we've never let that joke die.

We taught our own kids to love the game, and have fun playing it wherever we're together. Somewhere along the line, we picked up extra games at garage sales, and each of us "kids" have our own game. When my mom moved from her house in Sisters, I donated the game to the thrift store. My aunt went to that very thrift store, and bought that very game, not knowing it was her sister that had donated it. When we helped my aunt to clean out her house before moving, I ended up back with the exact game I'd donated, originally.

Yesterday, was Woohoo's 22nd birthday. Her college graduation was the day before. Lots to celebrate and appreciate - much gratitude to be given for her, her birth, her accomplishments, and all that lies before her. We ended the evening with a game of Masterpiece.

The round of Masterpiece was a metaphor for each of our personalities: STM broke all the rules, he went for broke, he was able to completely detach from what the paintings looked like, and focus only on what they were worth to him. He brokered deals. He made the game his own, and unsurprisingly, won the game by having over a million dollars more than the runner-up.

I came in last place. I played conservatively. I followed the rules to a T. I bought and sold paintings based on emotion and connection, or lack thereof, to the painting. I played the game the same way I've been playing it for 40 years.

The values of the paintings are in one pile, and the paintings in another. Each new game the piles get shuffled, and are paired "randomly." There is no question that STM and I have been in "the game" before. We've been reshuffled and in different pairings throughout many incarnations, I believe. I don't know all the pairings. I don't know all the past-lives. All I know, is that together, we are a masterpiece.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blind Spots

Recently, I've gone on three blind "dates." That is to say, I've had coffee with women I'd never met before - women who are friends of friends or somehow linked to other women I know in the special-needs world.

We've met under the auspices of me sharing my information, experience, resources, etc. with them. And a little of that happened each time, but very little. What these women really needed and wanted, was someone to listen. Not just anyone, but someone that walked a similar path. Someone that identified with and understood their fears, neurosis, exhaustion, burdens, joys, transformative experiences, life-alterations, isolation, epiphanies - basically, life with the volume turned up.

There are innumerable ways life can turn up the volume and bring us to our knees, either in defeat or surrender (two sides of the same coin?).  At these times all our "stuff" gets activated. The strong parts of ourselves, the parts that are unhealed, the light and shadow sides of our basic personalities.

I'm trying, once again, to understand where I am on the Enneagram. Richard Rohr is breaking it all down in his daily emails. He has done this before, and yet, I still struggle to determine where I am - which probably is a very telling sign of where I am (whichever one is most in denial and out-of-touch with their shadow). I am, most likely, a TWO, the Helper, which sounds great, until you learn more about it. One thing that rings true, unfortunately, is the need TWOs have for recognition for all they sacrifice.

Oh, if I had a nickel for how often I've thought, How hard would it have been to say, "Thank you," ? Is that why I continue to go on these blind dates? Because it feels so good to be recognized and appreciated? Because I just thrive on that?

It's not fun exploring the underbelly of our personalities, really seeing and understanding all parts of ourselves, how and why they got started, and what we can do to heal and unify ourselves. But what other option is there? Perhaps, going on blind dates, is a way for me to open my eyes to the parts of me I am blind to.

Sunday, April 24, 2016


Had a dream last night that I was driving a car full of people, and went the wrong way, made a wrong turn, and ended up on the wrong freeway. This was not a nightmare, this was par for the course, as I am very likely to do just that in my regular life. I have lived in Portland for 31-years, and still need people to tell me how to get where I want to go. I have gotten lost, walking, in my own neighborhood, where I've lived for 20 years. It's as though the chip for directional skills, is simply missing from my brain. Don't you dare try to tell me to go north, south, east or west on anything. Don't give me the numbers of highways and freeways, all I hear is, "Blah, blah, blah." Don't muddle things by reminding me how I've done it before - each day is a new opportunity to get lost all over again.

Because I have an excellent sense of timing, and would rather die than make someone wait for me, I always allow plenty of travel time + strong-possibility-of-being-lost time + looking for parking + general chance of delays. All this is to say, I am generally the first one "there," and spend a lot of time waiting for others. I have found ways to over-compensate for my traits and tendencies, at least as it relates to timing and travel.

In the dream last night, I was driving in the middle lane, struggling to converse with my passengers, while simultaneously looking for the way off the wrong freeway, and onto the right one, I noticed a car approaching me. Sure enough, there was one car in the fast lane, that was coming toward us, not driving ahead of us. I first saw the headlights, thought that was weird, then tried to get back to my other problem at hand. But a few seconds later, another car's headlights approached, and then another. All the cars in the fast lane, were going the wrong direction. Those of us in the middle lane were confused and disoriented. The people in the slow lane were just over there minding their own business and moving along, unaffected.

Was this a dream that reinforced slow and steady wins the race?

Was this a dream that taking the wrong route can be scary, but not necessarily a bad thing?

Was this a dream that life in the middle part of life, is disorienting?

Was this a dream that being in mid-life feels like the younger generations are going too fast and out-of-control, and the older generations are oblivious?

Was this a dream that the Middle Way is the way of wisdom?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Flow

We've all heard the advice to just go with the flow. Good advice. Hard to follow. More difficult, perhaps, than going with the flow, is identifying it, and discerning how to get in it, and making choices that keep you there, rather than letting the external conditions toss you all around.

You know when you're in flow - things click along, line up, the Universe feels like a collaborator, and not a punisher. There are more "chance" happenings, more "perfect timings," more "meant to be," experiences. It feels great, and you think to  yourself, Ah, I got this. That very thought, it seems, invites chaos and your feeling in the flow is threatened.

When you are feeling out-of-the-flow, when everything you try to do seems to make it worse, the only thing to do is stop doing. Step back. Take yourself out. Remove the boulder from the flow, which is you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Moving Over

I have a friend going through an extremely difficult time. The layers and layers of the issues she is addressing are daunting and paralyzing. Where to begin? She can't do this until she does that, but she can't do that until... and so on. Most resources are depleted: financial, emotional, physical, time.

What is not depleted, is her faith. "I have learned through all of this, that the more I stand out of the way, the more God sends angels in to help." She then told me story after story about doctors, fellow parishioners, teachers, neighbors and friends, stepping in and stepping up, in a big way, and leading her out of this dark forest of burden.

She has helped remind me that sometimes, when you don't know what to do, do "nothing," just move out of the way.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Love Rocket

I've been playing upwards of 16 races of MarioKart now, for weeks. You'd think I'd be great, but if I get in the single digits, I'm thrilled. Wil and I typically come in 11th and 12th place, and whichever one of us gets 12th, shouts, "DEAD last!"

The great thing about being in the back of the pack, is you are able to get what we call, the rocket. When your guy/gal is in rocket mode, you zoom ahead and get caught back up, and are given another shot at competing. It wasn't until I tried to find an image for this blogpost, that I realized it's not a rocket, it's actually a bullet. We'll go on calling it a rocket.

I have quite a day ahead of me today. I decided to do a little morning meditation, imagining a love rocket zooming ahead of my day for me, and soaring ahead with all things good, paving the way for me to "stay on track" and get through the finish line. (Today's "finish line" will be binge-watching the second season of "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.")

I'm an excellent worrier, one of the best. I can go to worst-case scenario in 0.2 seconds. It takes greater effort to move through life's challenges with a sense that love prevails, that there are forces of good, both seen and unseen, working to conspire and collaborate with us.

See you at the finish line.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Veil

One friend recently became a grandma.

One friend just lost her father.

One friend learned this morning that her friend of 35 years, passed away in the night.

The baby was born on Good Friday. Two weeks before he was due, but apparently, wanted to be born on one of the holiest days of the year.

The father waited until his wife of well-over 50-years briefly stepped out of the room, threw open his arms in full surrender, and died peacefully. "That was Daddy's last gift to me, not to have me watch him die."

The friend defied all odds, had eaten virtually nothing in two-and-a-half months, her body nothing more than a skeleton, yet her face angelic, peaceful, radiant, beautiful. An anointing ceremony was held over a week ago. The song, "On Eagle's Wings" was played on the piano and sung while her friends, relatives and priest gently placed holy oil on her face and arms, and said their goodbyes. "I'm ready to go, send me off," she said. Eight days later, she was "off."

As you know, I'm a big fan of Theresa Caputo, aka the Long Island Medium. After watching every episode of her show over the years, I'm even more convinced that the veil between "here" and "there" is thin and fluid, and Spirit (as Theresa calls it) moves freely amid them.

"Your loved ones are safe and at peace on the other side," Theresa says all the time. When something "weird" happens, a "coincidence" or unusual occurrence, she says, "Know that that was their spirit with you at that very time."

As "new" spirits come into our lives and familiar souls "leave," it is comforting, for me, to think of them as part of the continual cycle of life and death, and not the beginning or end.

We die a little each day, and ideally, we are awakened, or born, a little, too.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Woohoo graduates from college in 19 days. How is this possible? As they say, the days are long and the years are short. So true.

We decided we both needed new dresses and shoes for the big graduation. Not enough can really be made of this milestone, and new outfits would help to make a little more out of it. Sunday, Woohoo and I went to the mall where we've been together a million times, but not for a long, long time. That, in itself, was sentimental, just walking by the stores where we used to get her children's clothes, then her tween and teenage outfits. She's not much of a mall person these days, but recalls when going there was what she most wanted to do.

Times change.

Because Woohoo and I are similar shoppers (quick and efficient, no dilly-dallying), we were able to select our dresses and matching shoes pretty easily, and had plenty of time to go across the street and have a beer. Not enough can be made of having your children reach drinking age.

As we were leaving the mall, we spotted a woman who has a son that went kindergarten through high school with Woohoo. We stopped, visited, caught up, laughed and marveled that this woman and I met on a pre-dawn, chilly, dark January morning in 1999, as we stood in line outside the school, waiting to register our preschoolers in kindergarten. There weren't a lot of spots, and it was first come,  first serve. I was number 2 in line, she was number 3. We chatted. We got acquainted. 17 years later, there is still a strong thread that runs between our lives. Through 40th birthday parties, travel, divorce, re-marriage, the natural waning and waxing of most friendships, we have an unbreakable connection.

No accidents that we ran into her, of all people. She is a living bookmark of where we are now in the book of life, where we've been, and the exciting possibilities of where we will go.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Knowing Your Own Soul

"Yes, those with mental and physical disabilities, minority groups, LGBTQ folks, refugees, prisoners, those with addictions--anyone who's "failed" in our nicely constructed social or economic success system--can be our best teachers in the ways of the Gospel. They represent what we are most afraid of and what we most deny within ourselves. That's why we must learn to love what first seems like our 'enemy'; we absolutely must or we will never know how to love our own soul, or the soul of anything." 
       Richard Rohr

We live in very politically-charged times. We all have our opinions, our causes, our hot buttons and issues that make us passionate/crazy/react/retract/etc. It is my personally-held belief that posting on Facebook, or other social media, anything political, causes more unrest than it does anything else. I don't believe people pop on over to Facebook to be educated or have their mind opened/changed, and so, I choose to stay out of that. I have a friend whose own mother said, "We better part ways," over diametrically opposed opinions were posted on Facebook.

Yesterday, I read the above quotation from one of my best spiritual teachers, Fr. Richard Rohr (sign up for his amazing daily emails here). While it has long been my belief that those with disabilities are the best teachers, I, personally, see where I need to extend that belief to others that are beyond social and/or economic "success" systems. 

Harder still, perhaps, is asking ourselves how do we extend our belief that those within the "success" system?  Those running for office, those with power, those with influence, those with money, those with millions of people that agree with them, but with whom we strongly disagree. How do we see in them, the aspects of ourselves we are denying and afraid of?

Monday, February 15, 2016


I had a great birthday, thank you for all the warm wishes! I had the perfect combination of a morning all to myself, and an afternoon/evening with family. Wil took me to lunch at his favorite burger joint, and very cutely opened his wallet, handed it to the cashier and said, "Here's a $20." Might not seem like a big deal, but it was. He also re-gifted a little Valentine-decorated box full of candy, then promptly said, "You can give it back to me, if you want to."

Woohoo came over with a friend and they made a delicious, vegan taco repipe from Thug Kitchen, which you need if you really want to be Portlandia, and I know you do. My mom joined us and brought my favorite, boxed German-chocolate cake with coconut frosting, in a heart-shape.

It is a gift to feel loved and cared for, and I am gifted.

Thank you.

Sunday, February 14, 2016


Today is my birthday - 53. There is something about having a birthday that adds a layer of extra contemplation to one's life, don't you think? Where am I? How'd I get here? Where am I going? Where do I want to go? What's working? What's not? Am I spending my life doing what I want to be doing, with those I want to be doing it with? 

Eckhart Tolle describes contemplation as our thoughts and actions touched with gentle awareness. Richard Rohr describes it as a combination of observation along with love. The Jesuit priest, Fr. Walter Burghardt, describes it as a "long, loving look at the real."

Lent came early this year, adding solemnity to the occasion. Our priest described the ash crosses on our head on Ash Wednesday, as a sign of love. January 1st marks the new year. For many of us, the start of the school year is when we turn the page. Birthdays present another time to start over, to reform, revise and reflect. Anytime we start over and begin again, to do so with a "long, loving look at the real," is the trick. And in the end, the only thing that is real, is love.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Deep Thoughts from a Loud Boy

Wil is loud. Wil is loud when he's loud and Wil is loud when he's quiet. There is a beat, a hum, a drumming, always a something, coming out of him that makes his presence in the home, impossible to forget. It reverberates throughout the house, my body and psyche. Ear plugs help, but more than anything, it's the vibration that can't be muted or denied.

My dear mother has taken to having Wil spend the night on Friday nights. He rides his bike up there around 3:00 or 4:00 and for the next 28-hours or so, the house is blessedly still.

Yesterday, he came home and was instantly loud, and STM sarcastically said, "Boy, I missed you when you were gone!"

Wil, without missing a beat said, "God never misses you, because He's in you."


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...