Thursday, September 12, 2019


Driving a car without brakes--stopping the card Fred Flintstone style, new year at college with new roommates, a house so filled-to-over-flowing, I will be required to share a bed with a stranger, these are but a sampling of my dreams of late.

Obviously, anxiety dreams, specifically about being asked to do too much, sometimes requiring super-human strength.

My husband often says that the hardest part about his job, is switching gears. If he can go into work and go from start to finish on whatever it is, it's easy. It's the constant interruptions, the putting out of fires, the pulls in opposite directions that require a hitting of the brakes, a shift of gears, and a revving up, over and over and over again, that is the most exhausting. Just like buying a used car--you want to find one that has mostly highway miles, and not a lot of town driving. All that town driving takes its toll.

Speaking of traffic, I recently heard Portland is the 10th worst city in the nation. Everyone I know is complaining about it. It's noticeably worse than it used to be, there are no more secret shortcuts, and it's become too difficult to avoid, it's bleeding into all day, every day.

The car without brakes.

The constantly shifting gears.

The traffic.

I think what I am feeling and experiencing is far from unique, in fact, I may be tapping into the collective.

Becoming contemplative, staying present, breathing. These are the antidotes. Those to whom I most often turn are: Eckhart Tolle: A New Earth and Richard Rohr: Another Name for Everything. They center me, return me to more of a state of equilibrium, remind me that peace begins within.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

A Year

Our sweet Flicka was put "up" a year ago. We continue to miss her. When we look through old pictures, she is in so many, always by someone's side, quietly holding space. She was a true angel in the form of a black Lab, and she continues to be an angel in all our lives.

When she was buried, we made a little memorial area for her. Yesterday, on the anniversary of her death, I refreshed the planted flowers, cut some fresh ones, and lit her Mary candle for the day. When we went outside in the evening to have a little toast to her, Honey came, too. After we sat down on the patio and gazed upon the memorial, we noticed Honey repositioning herself, as though she wanted to be right next to Flicka. Yes, the spot she chose was in the sun, but there were lots of other sunny spots in the yard--she picked that one.

A year ago, we swore we'd never get another dog. No way. Wouldn't even consider it.

Some of my life's greatest blessings fell from the sky, showed up out of no where, with no effort--and often resistance--on my part.

Thank you for all your work on both sides of the veil, Flicka.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019


Went to Trader Joe's on Sunday, and there was a man selling Hermiston watermelons on the corner of the parking lot. He had a white van, a couple Costco tables, and a huge box full of watermelons. On the tables were selected watermelons, their ripeness visible from the way he'd turned them. Along the inner edge of the tables was a row of homemade corn muffins.

I parked my car, and walked over to the man. He swallowed whatever he was chewing--presumably a corn muffin--wiped the crumbs from his face, and extended his big, warm hand to me. He was several inches shorter than me, and I noticed a walker pushed up against a nearby tree.

"I'm Gray," I thought I heard him say.

"I'm Carrie," I said.

"I just lied to you, my name is not Great, my name is John. I'm 91 so I get to say and do whatever I want."

"Nice to meet you, John," I said, noticing his smile full of original, white, straight teeth. His eyes looked 91, but the rest of him belied his age.

"Which one do you recommend?" I asked, pointing to the watermelons.

"They're all good--guaranteed. I been doing this for 76 years, in six states," he said, again flashing me his incredible smile.

I grabbed one, and referred to the crudely made sign, to determine the price. "$7.99/each, 2 for $13."

Handing him a $10.00 bill I said, "Keep the change."

"Well, now you gotta take a gift," he said. "I work for that guy," he said, pointing up at the sky, "He told me, 'John, you gotta give people a gift, when they buy one of your watermelons.' I said, 'But I'll go broke!' He said, 'No you won't, John, you gotta give people a gift.' So I made my grandmama's corn muffins. Take your gift."

I took my gift.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

First Day of School

For me, the day after Labor Day, will always feel like the first day of a new year--much more so than January first. First as a student, then as a teacher, then a mother of students, there are a lot of first days of school in the rearview mirror.

I miss back-to-school shopping. I miss getting a classroom ready. I miss the organizing and newness, the fresh start with new supplies and a ready attitude. Good thing I have a friend that's an elementary teacher, and she lets me come in and write names on name tags, mail boxes, folders and notebooks.

Portland Public Schools actually started last week, so the school right down the street from me, had all that eager energy a week before I was prepared for it.

Today is the day I am ready to start again.

This 2019-2020 school year, I am vowing to waste less time--especially with my phone. If I have five minutes here, ten minutes there, I will pick up a book. Or, I will take one of the 78 Tarot cards I've always wanted to understand, and study it, learn its intricacies, with the hope that end of this school year, I, too, will have been a student. I will keep a journal, and jot down my thoughts, ideas, gratitudes and concerns. I will not settle into a laziness, but continue to strive, grow, challenge and expand.

Off I go...

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