Wednesday, August 31, 2005


When I think of the hurricane that has devastated the Gulf Coast, I see only faces. Nameless, they could be a friend or me. Just a few days ago, water ran from the tap, there was food enough, and a soft bed. Today those things are gone. Blown or washed away. Helpless, I watch as they sit on rooftops, or search for loved ones. I cannot imagine it really. It seems unreal, and yet they are real.

I wonder what words would form on my lips if I stood looking in their eyes. And what might I see there.

There are no words in me today...but I hold healing thoughts for them in my head.

Monday, August 29, 2005


There has been a misunderstanding.

When you said you were my
I thought you said

I felt bound by a silken cord
woven with soft hands
and never imagined
the pain of steel cuffs.

Alone together in this
cold cinderblock room
there is no escape
And you do not speak.

I feel the tug of your weight
when I pull away.
I think myself

You are not there
I see only a shadow
of the man I remember.

Searching fingertips reach toward
your nebulous shape
and touch nothing.

There has been a misunderstanding.

When I pled guilty
I thought the charge was
felonious love,
my crime noble.

And you a willing co-conspirator.

Are you innocent of this
grave infraction?
Is that why
you sit in silence?

Are you wrongly charged?
Waiting for release?
Or are you a masked jailer
with a hidden key?

There has been a misunderstanding.

I wither in this place
with no air and black bars
until I too am a

Amorphous now,
my wrist slips through steel cuff
and between black bars.
Will you speak now?

And will I understand?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

just when you think you have it licked

...the creatures in the 100-acre wood decide to play Poohsticks and drop a rock on you. Or you might be BOUNCED by Tigger....

Where's Christopher Robin when you need him?

on turning 44 and OTHER THINGS

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 44 with just a little hoopla. Though I had made plans, the universe had OTHER THINGS in mind. And it was okay somehow. I didn't fight it - I'm done with fighting each day as if it were a staunch competitor with a punishing 1-2 punch. I will follow time's river wherever it winds.

I've decided to spend my next year that way...letting myself wander and float through it. I don't want to make a plan or set a goal or find a path. And I know that with this in mind, being 44 will be okay.

I will be Pooh. When life gives me a honey jar, I will eat the honey and save the VERY USEFUL JAR I will no longer be trembling Piglet...a VERY SMALL ANIMAL. I will not be wise owl or gloomy Eeyore. When OTHER THINGS alter my course, I will accept them as gifts and lessons, and I will wink at the clever world.

It will be a year of animal medicine and getting in touch with the wild woman in me. The signs are clear. The earth calls me to the untamed. The lizards continue to show themselves, calling for detachment from old pain. They signify connecting with dreams and intuition, so I will trust myself more, and allow my truth its place in the world.

Then came the rabbits, who showed themselves first at dawn on my birthday, and again as I took Bailey on his last walk of the night. This morning, yet another appeared on the edge of a grove of trees. I asked the rabbit, "do you have a message for me?" He was still, unafraid of my leashed dog. So I will think of him today and learn rabbit lessons.

My birthday has passed, blessed by angels, and graced with animal messengers. I float and wander, and all is as it should be.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Good Medicine

Sweat dripped from my forehead as I walked along the trail to the top of the mountain. With eight and a half miles behind me, big sky and clouds replaced the green pine branches when I looked up. I was skittish as I walked. I watched my feet, electrically alert for small mountain creatures. Fresh pawprints from a big cat reminded me that despite the vastness of the space and the absence of other humans, I was not alone. Snakes, mountain lions and javelina made there homes here. And in the drought, some were hungry.

Standing in a small clearing, I raised my water bottle for a drink and caught my breath. The air was thin, and my muscles were taut. In the beauty and the silence, my eyes met those of a stranger. He stood motionless, looking over his shoulder to size me up. He was slight in stature with a golden gray coat. His black eyes were locked on me. I didn't move. I'm not sure how long we watched each other before he disappeared into the brush.

The encounter left me terrified. I wasn't sure if I'd seen a wolf, or a coyote, or if the creature was real at all. But I was sure I was ready to go back down the mountain. My fear had overcome my desire to see the view from the top, and I had been so close.

Today I wonder if it happened at all. Truth is, it doesn't matter if he was really there. He left a legacy. He had a message for me. Native American wisdom teaches that when a wolf shows up, he reminds us to trust our intuition, and to listen to our inner voice. He also asks us to find a new path and look at rituals and patterns that aren't working for us.

I trusted the wolf medicine, and began listening to the tiny voice inside myself. It has changed the direction of my path. Aligned with the song of my soul, I am stronger. One day I will stand at the top of that mountain with no fear. I will sit under clouds with the sun on my face, my fears behind me, looking for my next teacher.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


She was a victim of love. She was held under its power, cuffed to another who would not release her. Helpless and afraid, she struggled with the cords that seared her wrists and bound her heart. She begged for a savior, but none appeared.

"Life is pain," she thought. And this was her truth. She died a little each day, becoming numb. As the years passed, her heart no longer ached. She grew fearless. Her only thought was escape. She must save herself.

"I can do without that hand," she thought. "It, like my heart, is numb." With the skill of a butcher, she severed it and walked away. A piece of herself was forever gone. The hand that held her hostage had provided her excuse for a slow and torturous death. It affirmed her belief that life was suffering.

She crawled through a dark and lonely tunnel toward freedom and light. Her progress was slow, inches each day. Exhausted, she grieved the loss of her hand. She slept, and dreamed of finding the sunshine. She awoke, her body aching. She was no longer numb. As her emotions surfaced, her tears flooded the tunnel, rushing in violent swells, they swept her to freedom.

She gulped the air, breathed in life. "I am not dead, or numb, or victim. In choosing to cut off that which held me captive, I am whole."

"Life is bliss," she thought, raising both her hands to the sky. And this was her truth.

Friday, August 19, 2005

pet peeves

This is Bailey. I'm sitting here with him sleeping at my feet and wondering if the relationships people create with their pets mimic their relationships with humans they love?

As a "fixer" I have had the habit of doing everything for others and neglecting my own needs. This has consequences. Some of them not so good. The first is that I've taken on the responsibility for the happiness of other people. Which allows me to feel VERY IMPORTANT - but wears me out. It is impossible to carry the burden, and the results are disastrous. The OTHERS begin to rely on me for little thing, unable to make simple decisions or carry out simple tasks without consultation. Truth is, they are more than capable when pushed into a corner, but are so accustomed to me fixing, that they have come to expect it. It's quite a surprise when I don't come through and leaves them floundering until they get their sea legs.

In much the same way I have enabled my dog. He, like the OTHERS, knows that I will fix every little thing in his life. When he whines enough, he gets his way. Food, treats, a walk. He even tells me when I need to get up in the morning. When we go for our evening walk, he determines the route. When I try to turn back, he stands like a stone, legs locked, allowing no deviation from his chosen path. And I laugh a little, and allow him to have his way. I like that he has a mind of his own. And unlike with the OTHERS, I don't really mind it. He has been a loving constant for the last twelve years. He gives back what the OTHERS don't. And I think in his own canine way, he really appreciates it. I think I will keep him, despite the fact that I no longer choose relationships with needy humans.

My daughter has a way of bringing dangerous relationships into her life. She likes to live on the edge. It's no surprise that she has chosen a dangerous dog to love. He can be sweet, but he's always unpredictable, and is easily provoked. He has bitten her foot more than once - she admits he's dangerous, but is unwilling to put an end to their relationship. He is much like her string of boyfriends. They too are dangerous - and they bite and cause her pain. They are easily provoked, yet she goes back for more. She says her next dog will be a gentle one, a loving companion. My wish for her is that she makes the same choice when it comes to humans.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

right this moment

It's 11:04 p.m. and right this moment I love life. Right this moment I am happy. I am peaceful. I am grateful - for friends, for Paris, for linguini, for soft pajamas and flamingo slippers, for little apartments and silky red blankets, for sisters, for opera, for orange glass rings and turquoise, for bamboo and summer jasmine.

What I thought would never return has come back.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Today I am restless. The walls seem closer to me than yesterday and the windows not near large enough to let the outside in. I feel the need to wander into something wild and windy.

I could find a forest - seeking tangled woods, viney green and dark, a hard-to-find footpath, where another once walked, and another before him. I take off my shoes and feel the coolness of the moist ground and become grounded again - connected to blood, bone, flesh and energy - death and rebirth.

I could follow the sunset. The red rocks of the west, warm to the touch, beg me to run my hand along their rough surface. Swirling warm ochre and orange hold me captive as I walk a narrow pebbled passage between yesterday and tomorrow. A jutting rock ledge offers rest, tells ancient stories in its silence. Perched precariously over miles of nothing and space and silence, I feel the warm sun and the wind on my face.

I close my eyes and hear nothing but the sounds of Earth dancing. Limbs sway in infinite time. The rhythm of life beats in my chest. She takes my hand and we are partners in this intimate pas de deux.

In her company, the restlessness retreats into peace.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

the wall

Headbanging is for the music crowd. I'm not sure just what segment, which shows just how out of touch I've become. Nonetheless, it's not for me. Yet over the last few weeks, it has been my modus operandi.

There I am at the page, in the middle of Scout's bedroom, trying to decide just how the next scene will unfold, and smash, I'm there, banging my head against the wall. This entails staring at either the printed pages, marked with pink ink - okay, really destroyed with pink ink - or at the computer screen marked Chapter 6 and its blinking cursor. This lasts for what seems like hours but turns out to be only a couple of minutes before I decide I should fill my coffee cup. I push back the chair and wander to the kitchen, pour the coffee, put away the dishes, straighten out the cabinets, throw a load of laundry in the washer and rearrange the refrigerator magnets. (Why doesn't someone call me?) The kitchen meticulously organized, I wander back to the chair, look at the screen, and pick up Gumby. Gumby must be committed to his yoga. He is amazingly flexible. I light some incense and get out my yoga mat. Sitting in strained lotus, I try to breathe. (Shouldn't have had that last cigarette.) I try to get centered, but my mind is scattered with words unwritten. "Become one with the breath," I tell myself. This seems to help. I clear my head and stand in mountain pose. I begin the sun salutation. After five repetitions, some of the stress is gone, but the page is still calling.

Back to the computer. I read through the scribbles on Chapter 6, cross through all of it and pick up the pink pen. I open the spiral notebook, it's pages clean, begging for brilliance. I close my eyes and begin again. This time the words make sense. Scout makes sense. She does exactly what Scout would do. I write like crazy - scratching through only a few poorly chosen words. Six pages later (back and front) I am ready to touch the black keys. I highlight the entire Chapter 6 and hit delete. I type in the entire new chapter and when I glance up above the screen, the wall is gone. I am observing as Scout gets to know her friend Alex. The sky is blue. The wind blows through my hair. The sun is bright. The chapter is finished.

Then I see it...those words that inspire fear in the even the most brave writer...Chapter 7...I think I should have another cup of coffee.

Friday, August 05, 2005

building castles

They stood there on the beach, laughing, the late summer sun peaking above them. The family resemblance was obvious, but it was their connectedness that clearly defined them as sisters. With ease they touched each other and whispered secrets, built castles in the sand and shared dreams.

Each plays a role, earned by years of doing. The youngest, she makes them laugh and smile. Stylish and modern, her adventurous spirit inspires. She supports and allows the others to love her. She will always be the "baby sister" though she's all grown up.

Beautiful and fragile, another is the image of her mother. Her heart easily broken, she seeks love in the most unlikely of places, and finds it when she's not looking, in the face of her own precious child.

The next is the rebel, bold and unafraid on the outside, but clinging to what is safe on the inside. She is the mysterious one, few know her heart. She guards it within strong walls built with pain. Pretty, she takes long strides through life, but comes back to center for strength and assurance.

The oldest carries their hearts in her heart. Protective, she tries to share wisdom, though she questions most every move she makes. She searches for answers around every corner and steps gingerly, choosing her path carefully. She longs to be stylish and make people laugh, to find love in the faces of her children, and to be bold and unafraid.

As they build their castles in the sand, the outside world washes away with the tide. No walls hold them in. No expectations bind them. They simply are.

The castle will be gone in the morning, washed out to sea. But in each grain of sand, the memories are held forever, and the bond built of love stands for eternity.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Recently, a friend sent me a number of chapters of a book she's writing. I am humbled that she asks my opinion of this work that she holds so close to her heart. I chose a time when I might be able to sit uninterrupted with the pages and savor each word and paragraph, knowing that the manuscript would reveal seldom-shared secrets - pieces of herself.

I was engrossed as I sat cross-legged in my favorite reading spot drinking coffee. She explored her past from her current vantage point. The imagery was not always pretty, but the truth of it was beautiful. And the wisdom priceless.

What I know is that through the writing, she heals. Observing her past from outside looking in, she learns about herself. Through the disclosure, reality is affirmed. She says..."this is me - this is my voice - hear me, see me." I am awed by the bravery in that.

As much as writers all hope that one day their work will be noticed, sold, published, we write for ourselves. Because we must. We have something to say that must be said. The stories may have been told before, but it is our own experiences and our own voices that make it real, not only for us, but for those who choose to read our work.

The piece I take away from the time spent with the manuscript is this...write your truth, know you are worthy, know that healing is possible.

Dear Claire...I love your book and honor your bravery. Trust the voice, it is the divine in you speaking. Though I cry for the child, your smile reminds me that all is as it should be.