Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Arthurian Morning

     The full moon greeted me as I stepped out the door, placing herself square in front of me so that I could not watch the road without watching her. She gathered her orchestra of violin clouds and sang with the CD.
     Illuminated stars became shattered pieces of my heart. Pieces offered in love and pieces taken in greed. Pieces taken for granted by myself and others.
     Turning right the moon plays tag and darts over to the left hiding behind trees and houses. When I turn left she dances to the other side, no longer leading, guiding and showing me the way. Why can she not stay in front and show me the way? Why can’t I drive towards her and slide on the Milky Way? Why can she not share a constellation with me? Why can she not spell out a word, just one, to tell me whether I travel the right path?
     A curve in the road places her square in my vision. Her full grin has now softened to a Mona Lisa smile. A knowing smile. A smile whose beam illuminates the metal on a building. For a brief moment the building’s side, a sliver, a piece, catches moon fire and glistens in a white brilliance. A sword.
     The hands of my spirit reach out and grab the sword. Like Arthur I brandish it against the night sky. The infirmities of age released, I thrust it into the blackness of the sky and claim it my own. The ram’s horns of war bellow and the pieces of my heart amass and are drawn towards the sword. My spirit wants to melt but stands strong, tall and poised commanding their return by my stature, my strength and my fearlessness.
     The pieces, now soldiers, encircle me. I set my face towards the moon with arms raised high. My warrior’s voice, deep and raspy from the years, bellows towards her waning presence, “If I am lost I shall travel in this good company. And if not lost I shall send them forth to find those who are.”
     I wait for her reply but none is heard. Dropping my arms my spirit inhales the night sky. I grab the sword still quivering from the force of my strength. Extracting it from the sky I thrust it back again shaking the sky. The pieces, the soldiers, like drops of mercury, go rolling across the night sky.
     Smiling, I return to my castle, my heart, my home. Entering the gates I order the guards to leave the drawbridge down. They look at me puzzled, concerned for my safety. A slight chuckle tickles my face. “The others will be back soon and with them, their friends.”

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Scanning for Updates

“Windows has important updates to install.” Hmm. Click.

“You may continue working while Windows prepares updates.” Click. Click.

“Windows must restart to install updates for programs and services. Save any open files and restart your computer.” Huh? You said I could…

“Do you want to restart now?” No!

“Windows must restart to install …” Click. Click. Click. Wait.

“Windows is configuring update one of three. Do not turn off your computer.” Naughty Beth. Just wait.

The black laptop screen reflects my image.

Restart complete.

“Windows has updated your computer. Click here to see the updates installed.” Go for it. Click.

“Security Patch KB0..” click.

Note to God: Um, if I may, did you see that?

Note to Beth: Reboot.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Butterflies and Column IV Row 65,356

Main Entry: 1but•ter•fly
Pronunciation: \-ˌflī\
Function: noun
Usage: often attributive
Date: before 12th century
1 : any of numerous slender-bodied diurnal lepidopteran insects including one superfamily (Papilionoidea) with broad often brightly colored wings and usually another superfamily comprising the skippers
2 : something that resembles or suggests a butterfly; especially : a person chiefly occupied with the pursuit of pleasure
3 : a swimming stroke executed in a prone position by moving both arms in a circular motion while kicking both legs up and down
4 plural : a feeling of hollowness or queasiness caused especially by emotional or nervous tension or anxious anticipation
5 : a defensive move by a goalie in ice hockey executed by dropping to the knees while spreading the lower legs outward

     I have sat with this definition for almost fourteen hours now. Not my idea, but a butterfly’s suggestion to tame the corporate world. Before the tumbler completed its turn in the office door, the pre 6 a.m. voices said it was not going to be a good day nor month end. The red light for voice mail appeared to have melted the handset on my phone. The work cell phone had been trying to electrocute me with its pocket vibrations while driving to work.
     Snapping the laptop into its little space station I remained faithful to the butterfly image. I confess, the insect definition bothered me- it was not ethereal or particularly beautiful. Butterflies have a way of mutating reality. I thought of how annoying insects were in their insidious ways of always popping up when you least need them – dinner party, guests, when your realtor is hosting an open house. They are like the French Revolution – covert, sly and fly under the radar. Ha! Today, I shall be the insect soul of the butterfly and fly under the radar. I would, moving on to definition two, unabashedly seek my own pleasure, laughter and fly above their despair. It shall not, it would not be mine.
    Diving into one of five spreadsheets, totaling well over 50,000 rows that I had to merge, pivot, and collapse into a four line table, I began to swim (definition three). My legs were jumpy as my toes were tapping, faster Beth, faster! No God! Please no, not the hour glass of program not responding! Like the goalie, I dropped to my knees, and admit, it isn’t the typical position of prayer, but deflect, not genuflect was the scream in my head. Saved!
     Task one done. The corporate summary completed. As I prepared to send it off to the corporate world that sees profits not people, a simple Ctrl-End command sent me to the column IV and row 65,356 on the Excel spreadsheet. And, that cell shall forever remain a treasure in my heart, for there, I pasted an image of a butterfly. I hid the row to keep it safe in its little cocoon, knowing it would soar with me.
     With a push of the Send button, my butterfly flew away and off I went to the video conference. As I walked into the room, there, in full magnification on the screen was my spreadsheet. Granted, only the tables needed were visible, but never, never, have I smiled and giggled during a finance call or any business meeting as I did today. For I, and I alone, could see a beautiful blue butterfly calling me to play.

And so we did. Namastè to the butterfly who gave me this gift.

butterfly. (2010). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
Retrieved March 29, 2010, from

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pet Rock

     Years ago I ran marathons. Note – please do not view my prior athletic prowess by my current body! I would easily log over 50 miles of running every week. I was not a sprinter. My body and my spirit were made for long distance running. I think that rhythm, that heart beat and breathing are part of my writing. There are times when I write that I can feel the movement of my legs and hear the tapping of my size two and a half sneakers giving high fives to the pavement. Sometimes, sorry, it takes me longer to warm up and get into the flow. Other times, I begin immediately with the muscles loose, the thighs burning and my breath in complete harmony with my legs.
     And then, one sees the finish line. A marathon, mind you, is 26.2 miles. Not twenty six miles, it is 26.2 miles. Do not forget those two tenths of a mile. When you think you see the finish line, believe you have made it, crashed through the physical and mental walls those two tenths of a mile taunt the last drop of reserve in your tank. The goal is visual and close. The race, truly a race against yourself not others, is almost over. You have mined yet another depth of your being to draw upon, when life becomes challenging outside the race, if you can but finish those two tenths.
     Other than the physical pain and mental fatigue, a runner’s worst enemy can be a stray pebble or over sized grain of sand that finds its way into your running shoe. A runner knows their body. However slight the grain of sand may be it dislodges their balance. Even worse, the mental concentration and physical rhythm are derailed. Will it become a blister? Will I be able to finish the race? Should I stop now and remove shoe and sock hoping to ward off a DNF (did not finish) or an injury that will side line me for weeks? What…no running? When I was running, I had friends who would throw my running shoes at me and tell me to go run, knowing that I always returned whole and healed. What if I could not run because of a blister?
     During the obsessive self talk and doubt, trying to find your stride once again, you see them. Neighbors from the houses lining the streets are sitting out in their lawn chairs cheering you on and clapping. Some have set up picnic tables with water cups to quench your thirst and douse over your head. They hold their offerings out to you so you don’t break stride having to stop and pick up the needed gifts. No, they stand and wait for you and as you approach their arms stretch out and they ask only to serve. I still remember my first marathon when I approached the first such gathering. I stopped dead in my tracks – almost creating a massive pile up, mind you. If I were a better writer perhaps I could help you see what I saw and what I felt, but alas, I can only say it was stunningly overwhelming. I tucked that cup behind my paper number pinned to my shirt and kept it for years. I do not remember that first marathon’s miles, they clipped away unnoticed as I pondered the tiny paper cup tucked against my body.
     I miss running. And if you have read between the lines above you know the depth of that statement. There are days when I find a pebble or over sized grain of sand has covertly found its way into life and my walk becomes a touch unbalanced. I will not say I handle this well, I don’t. But sometimes when something precious has gone, if you stop running, you might just notice the outstretched hand holding a tiny paper cup of water. They do not try to break your stride. They offer their cheers, support and are simply there because they want to celebrate your effort, your desire, your passion and your life in that moment. No, I don’t run anymore. I think, perchance, life is teaching me to walk, pause, sit and enjoy the company of the outstretched arms. To say thank you, ask their name and share my name not my runner’s number. And if that be the lesson of the pebble, then well done my pet rock!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ice Sculpture and Sculptor

Disclaimer: To those who know me, not to worry, no sharp objects were actually placed in my hands, nor did I run with the scissors.

    One cannot say ‘done’ for that implies a sense of completion, task completed, book closed, “The End” written and fade to black. The week has been one of spring cleaning. A week of going through the notebooks of images and old journals of the heart and pulling out the pages now unreadable, scriches that go nowhere and those that time has covered the original meaning, emotion and intent. A few were tossed into the cyber world’s fabric, others were re-weaved and others were sent sailing, with full honor, upon their funeral pyre.
     In truth, I have been ice sculpting. I have taken chisel in hand and begun to chip away at the block of ice wherein a voice is calling. I tap, tap, tap ever so gently, fearful that I will inadvertently strike a weakened area and crack the entire block. I trust my hands. I trust my heart. I trust the voice calling. I do not know if others have felt the cold of this block. As the point of the chisel strikes against the ice I pray forgiveness from those who may have felt its cold sharp exterior and could not see the sculpture contained. Perhaps I should have put up “Under Construction” signs to warn them. Nay, the construction is done, I have but to see. “Limited Visibility” would have been more appropriate.
     The sculpture begins to take shape, though still incomplete. Like Venus, I think she has no arms. I smile, put the chisel down and hold the warm cup of coffee in my hand. I like that. My hands are always, always in my pockets when they are not working. But no, this is not about pockets. The armless ice sculpture reminds me that my reach, my hope, my love, my compassion extends beyond the reach of my short arms. I will learn to embrace like the horizon and the domed night sky.
     I begin to shake and put the coffee cup down. But what of the impending spring and heat- what will happen to my ice sculpture? The chisel falls to the floor. I reach down to pick it up and feel the melted ice pooled on the floor. Cupping the sculpture’s life in my hands I whisper my promise, “I will give drink to the thirsty and cool the foreheads of those in pain.” Looking up I catch a wink from the block of ice. I know the wink. It is a wink that doubts my reserve, my will, my fortitude and my hope. Overly ambitious? Too ethereal? Perhaps, but you are but a block of ice and I am the sculptor. And I begin to chisel again.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Conversation over Time

     Late, as usual. I nodded my silent apology to Seth and took my seat. The video was already running. I backed into my seat, already drawn to the subject on the video. I knew the room where the video was taken, Seth, the chair and the position of the camera. The size of the room enhanced the camera’s zoom affect, focusing only on the young girl. Seth would have been to her left, out of sight of the camera but near enough where he could have easily touched her without leaning or shifting his position.
     The video setting oriented in my mind I now focused on the subject. She was probably in her early 20’s and very thin. The color of her eyes wasn’t certain until she looked up, they were blue. The stiffness of that upward head movement let me know that was not going to be common view. She looked fragile and pale and very stiff. Her blue eyes and dark hair were in stark contrast to her pale face.
     “How do you feel? Are you ok?”
     I smiled. I knew that voice, soft, gentle and deep. I quickly glanced at Seth but the recognition went unreturned. He was focused on the video, on her.
     My head snapped back to the video. She spoke. At least I think she did.
     “Do you want me to turn the camera off?”
     The head made a quick left to right movement.
     “What would you like to talk about?” Seth’s question received a quick shrug of the shoulder.
     In that brief instant she had unfolded her arms and glued them to the arms of the chair. I squinted to see if there was any color in her clenched fists. My first reaction was that Seth should have terminated this video interview.
     “Are you hurting?”
     “Would you tell me?”
     My face snapped at the thought that I caught a small smile.
     “Have you ever told anyone that you were hurting?”
     It was a smile and this time it lasted a bit longer. I waited for the silhouette to say “no.”
     Instinctively my eyes squinted and head tilted. That wasn’t right. Everything about her said she would never have let anyone know she was hurting.
     "Did she say anything?”
     "Not at first.”
     “What did she say?”
     This wasn’t right. Everything about her said she was a no talker. Granted, it wasn’t an elaborate conversation, but there shouldn’t be any conversation. Someone that tight, that walled and self protected would not expose her pain. Seth was good but not that good.
     “I cannot stop what you’re driven to be. I will not stop loving what you are.”
     The clenched fists now began to slowly and deliberately rub against her bent thighs as one would rub two sticks together in hopes of creating a fire. My mind continued to rebel against the image I was watching. It wasn’t right. I knew this was the third interview. Should not be at this stage. Out of synch.
     "Did she explain what she meant?”
     She can’t answer. To explain meant she understood. To understand meant she must have let her walls down for this person. That body, those eyes and those fists would never let anyone that close. Why was he focusing on this conversation? This line of questioning could go nowhere.
     For the second time the head looked up and turned to the left. She would have been looking directly at the bodiless voice. “Turn away,” I thought. She’s going to turn away. He’s gone too far too fast. “Turn away” I kept repeating, unsure if the mantra was audible.
     The face looked up and said, “ Janet said, One day I would see both who I was, am and will be and say yes.”
     “No!” I said looking at the face on the video looking at me.
     “What do you mean?” Seth said looking at me.
     “That was not what Janet said.” I replied glaring at Seth.
     “What do you mean?”
     “I don’t think that’s what Janet said. Janet would not have said that.”
     “That’s what you told me she said when we filmed your session.”
     “This is over. I said.”
     The chair fell back. The interview was over. My rigid body became fluid and ran out of the room.
     “Please come back!” The bodiless voice echoed down the hall.
     I grabbed the car door handle. His hand grabbed mine. I’ve no idea how much fear was in my eyes when he grabbed my hands. He knew from the first day I had clearly defined body space walls and never let anyone touch me. He broke the rules. Despite the night I could see every wrinkle in his face as well as his fear. He didn’t remove his hand. His grab turned into a gentle hold and his eyes remained fixed on mine.
     “Why wouldn’t Janet say that?” Seth asked. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know it would hurt so much to watch yourself on the video. Please come back in and I’ll erase the tape. His voice was slow and calculated knowing the risk of one false word or another false move.
     “I can’t.” My hand was permitted to slip out of his. I opened the car door and jumped in. He didn’t move as I raced the car out of the lot.
     Looking up into the rear view mirror to make sure he wasn’t following me, she stared back. The eyes were shallow but no longer fearful. Headlights from the car behind me briefly betrayed tears on her face.
     “That was what Janet said” the face in the mirror whispered.
     “That’s not what she said” I shouted to the mirror face.
     “You’re right. That’s not everything she said. ‘Love who and what you are first. The image you see in the mirror will be the eyes with which you see the world.”

Ain’t the world a beautiful place?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Moth's Paradox

My heart is a moth drawn to the light
Joyfully dancing around its shell.
In its passionate joy it realizes not
The battered body and wings it sustains.
Departing at dawn to dream of its quest,
When next night falls it finds a flame.
Opened warmth, enticing it to touch
Quest sought and found, it flies within
And is consumed.

Centuries of absolute love have failed to breed
Within the moth a trait for withholding.
Nor has the weeping sight of moths consumed
Enlightened the centuries of lovers and poets
To the dangers of their hearts inflamed.
Likewise we are consumed

And yet, reborn.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Paged Turned

     “You folks have a good day. I’ll be back later.”
     “Would she feel any pain?”
     The footsteps stopped, backtracked from the door and returned to center stage where our eyes were focused, always focused. She paused and looked at the body draping over the soul that dared to speak. Quietly, she sat down on the corner of the bed.
     “No sir, there, would be no pain.” For the next half hour or so, her quiet voice comforted, factually but gently, the saddened soul. When no more questions were asked, she patted the leg next to where she sat, my mother’s leg, and left the room.
     Nothing more was said. I did not speak nor did my Daddy. No mention had ever been made of taking my mother off life support. His question, spoken with his soft southern drawl bellowed against the walls of the Hospice room where we sat with my mother.
     The next morning, when I opened the door the silence was overwhelming. Never has silence screamed so loud. All life sustaining equipment had been removed. No ticking, whirling or pumping. Total silence. There sat my small father, in his chair, looking at my mother unplugged and natural. Neither of us said anything for a while. We just sat together.
     “It was time.”
     “Yes sir.”
     Hearts beating as they waved good bye were the only sounds in the room. It was in those moments of eternity that my spirit and brain fully embraced what it meant to sit with the stillness of your breath moving in and out.
     Why, in the midst of a day that started with little to no sleep, at work at 5 a.m., guzzling more coffee than any human being should consume, in the midst of a corporate tug-of-war, this page should open I do not know. Life has a way of creating gentle breezes that act like invisible hands that playfully turn the pages in the book of life. When you least expect it, you notice you’re no longer on the page you were reading. You don’t know remember the page being turned. You were reading one sentence and now it has mutated into a different sentence, a different message.
     To no longer sit with the shrouds of what were because they, well, because they were. To no longer sustain those bits and pieces of myself which have gone and no longer sustain me. To know the silence of love’s kiss good bye that is really a hello. To welcome the sitting, the empty room and know it is time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


     “It is said that writing is easy. All you have to do is cut your wrist and let it bleed. The story will follow. Interesting analogy when you think about it. The blood in our system is actually blue, it is definitely not red. But when it comes into contact with the air, it turns red.
     "That is what writing is about. Taking that story, those images, those feelings, those experiences within you and letting them out. It can, and probably will be to some extent, painful. Those images, feelings and experiences will not look the same once you’ve released them. Others will see a different color. You will see blue, the real untouched color of blood – and possibly sweat and tears. They will see what everyone in the world acknowledges is blood – and blood is red.
     “We are not talking about the subtle differences between ‘tomato’ and ‘tomato’ or ‘potato’ and ‘potato’. We are talking about the ability of human beings to see the same thing, to read the same words, to witness the same crime and factually, rationally, without bias, see something different.
    "So I ask you, is your story, your story, or theirs? Do you write to release your feelings, insights and view of the world or theirs? When you write the words ‘the end’ you have finished. Your labor is over. The demon has been released. The bloodletting is complete.
     "For them, the pain, the humor, the wonder is just beginning. You have consciously set them on a journey. You’ve put them on a plane and they have no idea where they are going. You’ve basically kidnapped them. The ransom is the price of the story. Only, like most kidnappers, you will not be around to bring them home. You set the top spinning and walk away.
     "Much like grandparents who feed the grandkids tons of sugar, let them run wild and then give them back to their children to take home and put to bed. Your book is the colorful magical parade with bands and elephants. Your readers are the street sweepers who follow behind. What will you leave them?”
     Silence draped the room. But then it always did after she finished her final thoughts for the day. It was a ritual they willingly entered into. The class was set in an amphitheater causing her lectures to be given looking upward. Her five foot runners body would normally have been dwarfed by the raised seating were it not for her low deliberate voice.
    And then, there was the crack and launch as they called it. The one sided smile would crack across her face simultaneously with her left eyebrow launching upwards. The meaning unfolded slowly during the semester. First a quirk, a tick and then came understanding. She took her lectures seriously. She took her art passionately. She took her words prayerfully. The crack and launch was her hand shake. Some even wondered if when the crack and launch occurred she stood before them naked. She reached out and offered her hand, her words, and her soul. Those that got it were inspired. Those that didn’t...didn’t.
     “If writing is like cutting your wrist and letting it bleed, why would you want to write? And what about the world that sees your story, your play, your novel or painting as red instead of blue? ”
     Who would be the first to speak? It felt like God had just created the world, said it was “good” and turning to the angels said, “Well what do you think?”
     A voice ventured an opinion. “I want to think that my life and experiences mean I have something to say. They matter.”
     Silence, Jeez. That was like launching a grenade. There was no crack and launch. All eyes were on her eyes. Would they crucify the bodiless voice? The emperor had no clothes and everyone felt uncomfortable. Those sitting around the voice twitched slowly in their desks, trying to avoid association.
     Her eyes looked upward. The trajectory seemed to be higher than the students’ bodies. What was she looking at? Was she praying for forgiveness for the desire to murder she felt in her heart? Was she considering the options of tenure versus early unplanned retirement if she answered the voice directly?
     “Sometimes.” Her head bent slightly to the right, eyes still looking above them at an invisible target.. “Sometimes.” Her head righted itself, eyes still looking upward. “To have something to say means you have to speak. That’s what you did. The fact that you did speak means it mattered. If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there does it make a noise? It does not matter. Something living is now dead and that matters.”
     Crack and smile. Eye contact. Relief.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Flight of Truth

Sometimes my spirit and brain work together like a snow globe - no words, just images.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

NOT Words No More

     Ok, I think anyone who has followed these little blogs, will quickly realize that I am NOT Martha Stewart. Simple things like “boil” and “broil” continue to elude me. Which one is on top of the stove? Which one goes inside the stove? Sounds simple to most. It is a foreign and unpracticed language for me.
     The same applies to directions. North? South? Forget it. I require land marks and a dry run to any place new before I actually have to make the trip. Helpful directions like “if you cross the bridge you’ve gone too far” are not helpful-they assume you are actually going in the direction where there might be a bridge. Don’t ask how I know this truth. I imagine that when someone gives me directions I become the equivalent of a spinning hour glass and a message board running across my forehead with the message “program not responding.”
     When I’m out and about I have a faithful network of friends who have memorized all the locations of convenience stores. They leave their cell phones on, waiting for the little southern voice to come across the Minnesota phone lines with the usual sigh of despair and the “Yep, again.” They are kind, and unless it is a really good “lost” they manage to wait until I hang up to laugh. GPS has been a blessing but at times I still manage to outwit the computer.
     What is interesting are the emotions that boil (broil?) up inside me when I get lost. I should know better, I should be able to do this and the various litanies of self deprecating remarks. Which leads me to today’s musing (I warned you about the bridge). How much of what I know is not what I know as it is what I’ve told myself I am or 'am not'?
     There’s a concept in Buddhism that translates “fearlessness” into “doubtless” or “doubtlessness.” The idea in the translation is that one can be fearless, embrace the courage of a lion, go forth into battle and still have doubts. But if one is doubtless, turns away all doubt, that is the true foundation from which pure fearlessness can emerge. Fear is not necessarily a bad thing. Doubt can erode the soul and you never see it coming. Doubt is like those huge sink holes that swallow up houses. The earth was moving, changing and sinking all along. But in our minds, it just happened, out of nowhere, or without any warning the event occurred. In reality, the erosion was taking place all along, we just didn’t see it. That’s doubt. The reality is, wherever you point doubt, erosion will occur and undermine everything. The absence of doubt feeds fearlessness in its most powerful and non aggressive form. You simply, have no doubt.
     I’ve begun a journey much like swimmers experience in a racing pool. Their lanes are marked separating them from the other racers yet they share the same water, their laps are individual, unique and timed and yet they traverse the same pool. My journey is much the same, I’m charting new territory, unknown, separated and defined differently than the roads I’ve traveled before. Yet, like the swimmer, my journey, in part, is not so new. The newness is perhaps only in my recognition, finally, of where I’ve been. Different, unique, uncharted and yet familiar in the recognition that I have not so much “changed” as recognized what has been, what was there all along.
     Like the swimmers’ race, the distinction of “fearlessness” and “doubtlessness” is recognition of what is (the sameness), defined by what it is not. I do not know the grammatical term, but both are “not” words and you have to understand the base word in order to understand the “not” word. You are in the same pool, sharing the same water, you repeat the lane over and over, the only difference is that this lap is “not” that lap. If you don’t understand that then the swimmers appear to be mad, the equivalent of Einstein’s definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
     I really like the distinction between fearlessness and doubtless. I prefer the strength of doubtless. But, I do not want to concentrate on a “not” this. I no longer want to think in terms of “not this” and “not that.” I want a concept that says “what is.” The not words have distracted me for too long. They are good words, but now I need to see what is. When I am at the Gulf, I can stare at the waves in the blackness of the night. I hear the waves but do not see their white caps or swells. I see nothing and yet the image of the gulf is made visible by its sound, what is.
     My life can be and is getting fearless. I am nurturing doubtlessness, but like the invisible waves, my strength and power will be in the sound of my voice. By that strength and courage you will know me-even in the black of night. I will stick with Hope as the sound of the waves, constant, surging, spilling themselves completely upon the beach, retreating and returning to bear new treasures. I am still under construction, so beware of the unexpected splash. Hope is strong but always playful. Hope shall be my “is” word, my new compass. It will no longer be about where I am NOT, as it is focused on where I AM, where I ‘be.’ And for that, there is not better GPS than my heart.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Longing and Layers

     The feet of snow have finally melted and yes I do have shingles on my roof and the grass is still there. The snow/ice sculpture on my roof that reminded me of a dolphin, then a wave and then a question mark is gone. I will miss nature’s artwork when I drive into my driveway. She always welcomed me home after a long day at work and made me smile.
     A couple of days in the 50’s and even a 60 degree day kicked the top of the ant hill and we all scurried out of our winter caves. Today, nature chuckled and played the role of prankster and ushered in a taste of winter. Were winter and spring having a friendly joust? Knock knock. Who’s there? And spring replied, “Tis I.” At which time winter laughed and locked the door.
     Winter’s clouds have hidden my stars and moon tonight. I look up to see my friends and they are once again cloaked in winter’s snuggly. I must confess, a frown jumped upon my face while I was not looking. But feeling the furrows in my brow my lips drew the drawstring and pulled them back and left me with a smile.
     Perhaps this is nature’s way of tilting her head , looking over her glasses, as my mother would do, and with an ever so subtle smile suggest I rethink what I was about to do or say. We may divide the seasons with blocks of time and calendar squares, but they remain eternally layered one upon another. The chill tonight reminds me that the spring and summer’s warmth will come but soon I will miss and look forward to winter’s sweatshirts, thick socks and the silence of the first night snow. Layers.
     And so to my hidden stars and moon, like the treasured memories in my heart, sea shells, friends, family and my dreams – I celebrate your layers. I celebrate your timelessness. I celebrate your eternalness. I embrace each of you with the hope of spring, the laughter of summer, the gathering of fall and the reflective winter’s heart. I pull the blanket up over your shoulder, tuck it in and kiss your forehead goodnight. And in my dreams, layered with the seasons and eternity, I shall lay down beside you and myself and in wakeful slumber dance with life.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Supper -also known as Dinner

     I will set a table to make Martha Stewart and Amy Vanderbilt proud. The fine laced linen tablecloth and napkins and the good china and silverware will be ceremoniously retrieved from the special cabinet. Crystal clear long stemmed glasses for water and wine will stand their post. Place cards with everyone’s names will be imprinted with fancy script. The room will be abuzz with circled conversations, laughter and squeals of hello as new dinner companions arrive. A gentle tinkle of the dinner bell will signal that dinner is served and the aromas from the kitchen will lead everyone to the table.
     Only … I do not have a fine linen tablecloth. My tablecloth is plastic and the closest thing to lace would be the occasional dog or cat hair that may be hanging from its edge. Paper towels are used for napkins, but they are the extra absorbent ones. I have a mismatched combination of jelly glasses and souvenir glasses and one semi long stemmed wine glass, a gift. The only resemblance my chipped plates of various patterns have to china is the country of their origin. I do not cook but I can do take out. The dinner bell will most likely be the ding from the microwave and unless we’re eating popcorn, not sure Lean Cuisine or frozen mini pizzas will arouse much of an aroma. All the place cards, written with a Sharpie, will read ‘guest.’ And a ‘but’ to offset the ‘only’s’ will be that elbows on the table are optional and expected.
     Some guests will mingle, eat and go, answering the call of other commitments and interests. Others will linger and savor the store bought cookies, wine and coffee. Some of the guests will not notice that others have left as they laugh and talk in the kitchen while washing the dishes. As the evening approaches dawn, a few will still be gathered, shoeless feet folded on the chairs and sofa, loosened belts from too much food, caught in the undertow of rapid conversation, laughter, followed by silence and appreciation and then launched yet again.
     May we all partake of life’s supper (dinner) invitation, whatever its setting. Greet each other and savor the time we have together. And to those whose stay is all too brief, we raise our glasses and wish you bon appetit!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Nothing Unsaid

     It was one of those moments that, in retrospect, leaves you naked and breathless. It was a moment that lacked the import of JFK’s assassination or the bombing of the World Trade Centers. It was a moment, nonetheless, like the others, that I shall always remember where I was and what I felt when I heard the news, the words. “We’ve been friends for so long, it’s not like there was anything left unsaid.”
     Her best friend had just passed away. Her comment was so casual, spoken without forethought that I do not think she realized the weight of its profoundness. To have walked beside someone, as a lover, a friend or as a family member and in absolute honesty be able to declare, “I have left nothing unsaid” is perhaps the summation of all spiritual quests. It transcends the literal translation of verbal communication and includes actions, presence, attentiveness and constancy.
     As I sit here, my tapping fingers are slowly wearing out the letters on the keyboard. Perhaps it is just a message for me and will not resonate with others. How does one write about leaving nothing unsaid? Have I come full circle again to the earlier post where frustration led me to Gabriel Oak’s quote? Can I unroll the scroll of my heart and speak their names in the same way? Will their names now bear the question of what is left unsaid? Alas, I am not so wise.
     When I look at you, fear not the concentration of my blue eyes. I am simply searching in yours what I have left unsaid. When I reach out to touch you, worry not that my hand may tremble or even linger just a moment. My energy, the force of life within me is speaking to you and asking what I have left unsaid. If you see me walk slower than normal do not assume the arthritis and my knees are cranky. The souls of my feet are speaking to the earth and asking what I have left unsaid. When I say ‘I love you’ it is the ‘you’ that you are, not what I need or wish you would be. I will not define you and risk a box that excludes and leaves something unsaid. And in my struggle to leave nothing unsaid, know that I am both saint and sinner, easily distracted and absent minded and my words may scale heights that my actions do not. My claim to imperfection will never go unsaid. Nor shall my cry for forgiveness and my zeal to begin again and leave nothing unsaid.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Liturgy of Being Tamed

“Goodbye,” said the fox. “Here is my secret. It’s quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes. . . . It’s the time that you spent on your rose that makes your rose so important. . . . People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said, “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose. . . .” [The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery]

    I unroll the scroll of my heart with the reverence, sanctity and veneration of a Rabbi opening the Torah’s scrolls. One by one my heart reads their names and bows to their images in my mind, each with their page sewn into my heart. Several have no images, only a name, but their inscription upon the scroll is equally deep. Some are present in my life today. Others have left this life and I await our meeting.
    The characters written upon the page differ in their boldness, grace and size. Written with love, the long strokes of fondness are thick and full. Other characters create names of those who taught my heart to heal. The pigment for the earth, her creatures, beauty, the sun, moon and sky are brilliant in their color and pictures. Whatever the boldness, size or color of the stroke each one has tamed me as I have been tamed.
    The liturgy is repeated each day and night and often when I spy a special star, a bird in flight or the sound of laughter. And as ritual and liturgy evolves over time so has mine. Time, roses and foxes have changed my ritual as I now begin with my own name.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Note on the Refrigerator

    I really wanted to write tonight. The fog in Minnesota has lifted and we actually saw the blue sky for the first time in days. My brain and little spirit were trying desperately to spaz like a cat attacking its own shadow. If you could crumple your computer screen like wads of paper I would have a bio hazard scattered all over my floor. In the end I guess all I really wanted to say has been said.
    When I gaze out to the first moon I’ve seen in several nights my thoughts go forth into the night to those I love, those I don’t know who are in pain, and to the world at large. And though it was not Gabriel Oak’s intent in the book, “Far From the Maddening Crowd,” when he spoke, I think for tonight he speaks my heart
And at home by the fire, whenever you look up, there I shall be -- and whenever I look up there will be you.
And with that, I leave my love note on the refrigerator of life to all.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Beauty and The Beast Do Battle

    I remember the battle of the beauty and the beast. Oh I remember it well and still shiver to think of it. It was well over 30 years ago and yet it seems like only yesterday. Amazing how these battles ring forth through the ages. Not even the Napoleonic Wars or the ever infamous (and still on-going) Un-Civil War between the North and the South can claim such a resounding memory.
    The skirmishes began long before the battle broke out. Small scrappy little skirmishes with lots of collateral damage among the innocent bystanders. A truce was reached and both parties withdrew to their borders, but the hostilities still burned. It took years of simmering, festering and plotting until the ultimate weapon was created. It would bring the enemy to their knees and victory would be won.
    Alas, the trumpets trumpeted, the flutes fluted, the drums beat, and war was declared between beauty and the beast. Serious, quite serious and there, 30 plus years later sits the constant reminder that I lost the battle. I surrendered. I tapped out and caved. All the years of absolute perfect pouting, screaming, sullen faces went down the drain. It sits and mocks me on the beloved piano. THE PICTURE. Oh it shivers me timbers to see it even now. THE PICTURE as it is known. I laid down all weapons and agreed to have a “glamour photo” session for my mama.
    I’m blue jeans, sweat pants kind of girl. Since these are forbidden at work, I eschew the preferred fashion. I dress in oxford shirts, sweat shirts and hoodies. If no jeans, I wear Dockers and always, always I must have pockets. I am not Barbie. I am not even Midge.
    Mama? Oh she and my aunt were the perfect mothers for little frilly, dressed up Barbie girls with their perms and make-up. Me? I’m out playing football with my brother. Dressed up meant I washed my hands and face. Mama tried, oh how she tried… until the clerks at the stores, innocent bystanders grabbing their children and running to the next department made even her realize that maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Now, take me to the jeans department and we had a grand time. We gradually de-escalated the hostilities. She would bring the frilly dresses home and we would engage in full contact sports trying to get me to put it on. Dad just went to his office and worked. Over time, we compromised and the tailored shirts were brand name and the pocketed slacks had a pleat. Fair enough.
    I guess time makes you lose vigilance and you stop being on the alert for those ever unsuspecting sneak attacks. It was around her birthday and she asked me if I would have my picture taken. It was an innocent question to which I said yes. Then, oh so clever was my mama, she described the photo would be one of those 'glamour' high styling photo sessions.
     A day at the hair salon taming my natural wild and wooly hair was followed by a make-up session. She and my aunt whisked me away quickly to the photographers where they unveiled my dress. The photographer, astute to notice the ball and chain, ropes and big burly bouncer standing next to them began taking pictures as quickly as he could. Not even Fred Astaire could tap as quickly as his camera was clicking. It was done. Over. I could gather the wounded and retreat across the border to safety. Until I went home to visit and there it was-THE PICTURE, aka beauty and the beast do battle, sitting on top of my beloved beautiful piano. It’s just wrong.
    After almost thirty plus years it is still there waiting, lurking and taunting me when i visit my Dad. I play my treasured piano with eyes closed. 'She' watches me and mocks my surrender. But it can stay there. It belongs there. It made her smile while she was alive. Me…. I’m bidding my time and keeping the shredder oiled.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Sometimes you just have to wonder. Not in the magical ‘what could be’ kind of way. Nope, it’s more of a wonder as you look down the path you’ve chosen
And suddenly you realize…. ‘We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto!’
 What once seemed so clear makes you wonder if you really saw what you saw in the first place. Today was one such day. My mind kept wandering around in the world of ‘stuff - big stuff, little stuff, unidentified and mislabeled stuff. I thought, perchance, I should reel it in but alas, my mind had a mind of its own. I was not invited; quite simply, my mind had stuff to do.
I cannot say I’ve learned to accept this walkabout my mind seems to enjoy. Nor, can I say I appreciate the fact that it runs off without me. What I do know is that when it has finished its flight of freedom,

It will playfully call to me

 And I will answer, "Don't worry, I'm still here."  

And together, once again, we will sit together, as we usually do, breathing, listening, and riding the tide.

Monday, March 8, 2010

And She Will

    She sits upon a rocking horse and rides the plains. She straddles the laughing brook and giggles as she weaves back and forth on its stepping stones. She jumps the cracks and plays hopscotch down the street’s concrete squares. She hurls herself down the hill until her legs abandon themselves to gravity and are no longer her own. She closes her eyes and spins in circles with outstretched arms until up is down and right is left. She lays outstretched in the grass, her chin in her hands bouncing her head in rhythm with hopping birds until she sees a bunny and then, of course, one must get up and hop. She is a thoroughbred waiting for the explosion of energy, muscles, instinct and grace. Give her a blanket or a toy horse or the cardboard center from a roll of paper towels or just a single crayon and scrap of paper and the world erupts in hours of magic, imagination and play. There is no song unworthy of her voice, especially songs played by the orchestra in her head.
    Years have paved over her Siddhartha’s tree. She’s forgotten how to straddle, weave, jump and hop. She shaves the legs she would scratch, bruise and scrape running through the woods. Her arms lift high for the next rung in the ladder of life. She no longer grabs the branch of a tree. Her rocking horse is steel, plastic and metal and without grace and instinct. She has grown up. She no longer sings.
    A neon light’s reflection captures her eye. A wild flower’s scent tickles her nose. The sound of a child’s laughter gives her goose bumps. She knows. She wakes up. She sees a tree. If I have but one get out of jail free card in life, if there is but one favor to call due, I would go all in and cash them out if I could be the ant on the ground to hear her when she whispers, and she will, “I am. I can. I will. I believe. Now.”
    She sits upon a rocking horse and rides the plains. She straddles the laughing brook and giggles as she weaves back and forth on its stepping stones. She jumps the cracks and plays hopscotch down the street’s concrete squares. She hurls herself down the hill until her legs abandon themselves to gravity and are no longer her own. She closes her eyes and spins in circles with outstretched arms until up is down and right is left. She lays outstretched in the grass, her chin in her hands bouncing her head in rhythm with hopping birds until she sees a bunny and then, of course, one must get up and hop. She is a thoroughbred waiting for the explosion of energy, muscles, instinct and grace. Give her a blanket or a toy horse or the cardboard center from a roll of paper towels or just a single crayon and scrap of paper and the world erupts in hours of magic, imagination and play. There is no song unworthy of her voice, especially songs played by the orchestra in her head. She has grown in. She is the music she sings.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Physics Meets Love

Bespectaled I should not have hit the door
My forehead bears its permanent imprint.
I hit my stride and ran with ease
Rhythm and breath were hand in glove.
My eyes wide open and all was still
Til face met door and physics won.

Direction reversed, right then left
Is it a box that I’m within?
Is bravery simply anger controlled?
Peace the quiet before the storm?
To be a warrior must I draw a sword?
To reach out must I also grasp?

No answer. Déjà vu.
Restless. Hungry.
Guided. Guideless.
I’ve been here before.
Clueless not keyless.
I’ll find the lock.

To everything there is a season
A time to reap a time to sow.
If my prints have touched here before
Why the surprise we meet again?

If lessons unlearned hatch again
Is now the season I should reap?
Do I know this field? And the crop
For beauty, food or replenishment?

If an entrance door is also an exit
If an exit door is also an entrance
Has the door ceased to be at all?
And now become a threshold?

To be invisible without name
A drop of rain distinct unseen

To stand as love without need
The handless soil for all roots.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Your Breath Alone

Whisper in my ear and tell me what was. Caress my hand and fingers to remind me of now. Gently close my eyes so that I may see tomorrow. Smile at me and watch my eyes twinkle. Speak my name and I am not alone. Till and turn the soil of my anger and plant your seeds of love. Sit with me and we’ll have coffee or tea and chocolate, of course. Welcome, sweet muse, sweet melody of my soul. Your presence is most welcome, even when we have no words to say and no words to write. Tonight, your breath alone will be both the pen and the paper.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

May I Have This Dance?

Nestled in the fingers of winter’s trees the moon and silhouettes begin their dance. A sentry bird calls out the watch echoed by another in the distance. Each recognizes the voice of the other. The moon and winter’s trees have danced before. There is rhythm in this dance. I recognize this chorus. I know the refrain.

If you desire to join in my dance,
Then take my hand and let us glide
Amidst heaven’s starlight chandeliers,
Having neither clock to strike tomorrow
Nor a calendar to speak of yesterday.
For we have but this moment, now
And already are what we were,
And contain within, what shall be.

From behind the curtain the sun makes its entrance and enters the dance. The sentries continue their songs. My mind is stretching like winter’s trees to remember the last line of the song. Silence descends and I listen to my breath which completes the song

My dance shall not be a solitary one
For when one dances as sun and moon,
One can never dance alone.
For inherent within the dance itself
Is the possibility of an eclipse.