Saturday, December 24, 2011

Habits of Prosperity

Louise Hay says, "For every habit we have, for every pattern we repeat, there is a need within us for it. The need corresponds to some belief we have. If there were not a need, we would not have it, do it, or be it. There is something within us that needs the fat, the poor relationships, the failures, the cigarettes, the anger, the poverty, the abuse, or whatever there is that's a problem for us. When the need is gone, you will have no desire for the over eating or the failures, or the negative pattern."

Wow. Don'tcha just love her?

Every outer effect is the natural expression of an inner thought pattern. In other words, we prove our beliefs. I heard that many years ago from a wonderful man named Bob Burr. He was leading a co-dependency workshop in Chattanooga, Tn. He followed that thought with examples of how he set out, albeit unconsciously, to prove his beliefs about women with his wife, Judy. I could truly hear the "GONG!" in my head.

Here is an example: If my inner thought pattern is "Men are controlling", then I will unconsciously look for behaviors in my husband that I can label as controlling and at some point say, "SEE?! Men are controlling! That proves it!"

Here's another one: If my inner thought pattern is "I don't deserve to feel good", then one of my outer effects can be poor health. Or I create wonderful, feel-good experiences in my life and unconsciously sabotage them because I won't allow myself to feel good for very long. My mother does this. I watch her sabotage her joy on a consistent and regular basis. She grew up in a home permeated with beliefs around scarcity. So joy, among other things, is ...rationed if you will. Not uncommon for people who grew up during the Depression.

Here's another physical manifestation of internal beliefs: If my thought pattern is "My boundaries aren't respected", then an outer effect can show up as added layers of protection/fat, which is a physical boundary.

If we have inner thought patterns of scarcity and lack, then we will live our lives from a place of scarcity and lack. And we will always be hungry for more. I have a friend who cannot have a conversation without giving some verbal expression and attention to lack of money. But interestingly, my friend has a beautiful, well-maintained home and always manages to pay the bills and have enough good food to eat. If I live from a place of lack, no matter what abundance I may have in my life, I cannot see anything but lack. It becomes my experience because it is what I live internally, not externally.

This scarcity and lack thing is an issue I have been intentionally working on changing in my life. I grew up with those messages and developed those beliefs in my own psyche. And it wasn't just around money. In my home growing up, the experience was there is not enough money, time, love, energy, attention, anything. It permeated everything. So in my family, we experienced the world from a place of "not enough".  

The good news is we learned our beliefs, so we can UNlearn them. We can teach ourselves new thought patterns. It is a practice... just like meditation. I have been working with a particular affirmation. I look in the mirror into my own eyes. It goes something like this: "I now realize that I have created this condition, and I am now willing to release the pattern in my consciousness that is responsible for this condition. I release the need to create scarcity and struggle in my life. I deserve a life of ease, comfort, and joy. I now create an ABUNDANCE of good things in my life. I am now open to prosperity of health, prosperity of wealth, prosperity of relationship. I am open and receptive to all good!"

This practice of developing new thought patterns has created indescribable joy in my life. I am happier and more content than I have ever been. I had mistakenly thought that the way to that joy and contentment was in having the 'wealth' of things I thought I lacked. Only then would I feel ease, comfort, and joy. But what I discovered is that that kind of thinking is backwards. The key is to first change my thought patterns. That creates good feelings in my body; the joy, contentment, ease, etc. And then interestingly, when I am in that place of joy and contentment, it appears that from that place is where I create and attract the external 'wealth'. Ah-Ha! Who knew?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

That Dirty Little Word

(of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.

Tell me why, why is it considered so bad in our culture, to be “concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure”.
Open yourself to a paradigm shift here. I mean, who else is going to be concerned with my personal pleasure and profit? Isn’t that my job? And why is it assumed that if I am chiefly concerned with my own personal profit or pleasure, that I “lack consideration for others”? Can’t I experience both at the same time? Why is it assumed that one cancels out the other?

This post isn’t really about the word selfish, although it does speak to it. This post is about another word. An archetype. Mother.

Some time ago on Facebook, I asked people to post what they believed was a “good mother”. I had an express purpose in mind. Today I begin to tackle that. Today, I begin to put into words what has been churning around inside me for some months now.

On a scary day in August, 1987, I checked out of an in-house treatment facility after 21 days. Part of my aftercare treatment was to be in a group with other individuals who also had also been in some kind of treatment. The man who facilitated our group said something all those years ago that I have never forgotten. His exact words were, “Another person’s reaction to my behavior says a whole lot more about them and their history than it does about me and mine.” Wise and helpful words for a severe co-dependent.

So, when I began to receive posts about the archetype of Mother, it was a great mirror into the personal wounds of many people, though I doubt they saw it as such. Without knowing, or perhaps they did know, they told of their own experiences; what they got from their mothers, what they didn’t get and wished they had, what they strove to give their own children, how they saw themselves as mothers, and as adult children.

I am a daughter of an un-mothered mother.  As a result, I doubt I was a very good mother to my own daughter in her young years. How could I be? Knowing what I didn’t get from my own mother, and having a strong desire to give what I didn’t get, does not make me a good mother. Did you get that? Read it again. 

Knowing what I didn’t get from my own mother, and having a strong desire to give what I didn’t get, does not make me a good mother. So then, what does make a good mother? And does everyone even need to know, especially if they are not mothers and never plan to be? I answer with a resounding YES! Here is why:

Ideally, our parents (if they got what they needed from their parents) equip us with the skills to become good parents to ourselves. So that one day, finally, we have our own internal guide to self-direction and nurture as we make decisions in our daily lives. To what end? That we might live with authenticity, integrity, and joy. Although that last one tends to elude many (now we are back to that dirty little word).

If, as most people I know, you did not have those ideal parents, then you did not develop that internal guide to self-direction and nurture. Add to that a cultural and societal message that says to be chiefly concerned with your own personal profit or pleasure means you lack consideration for others. Slap on a few layers of Hallmark cards with sappy, unrealistic sayings about mothers who never think of themselves, only others. Hold this up as an ideal and tell me you have a strong, healthy and balanced internal mother. Not possible. Not unless you are willing to:
1.      Look in the mirror (literally and figuratively).
2.     See all of you.
3.     Own it.
4.    Take action, meaning to begin the work of developing the internal mother.
Now some of you may have a visceral, somatic reaction to the word “mother”. If your mother wound is so great that an internal “mother” is offensive, then use another word. But what I am speaking of is the part of us that is life giving; the source of nurture and nourishment. The part of us that breathes life into our creative endeavors. The part of us that nudges us when we need to slow down, rest, eat, spend time with friends. That wise part of us that will lay us down with sickness if we do not heed that nudge to slow down and give self-care.

I can speak all day long about what a good mother does and think that I am doing that for my children, because I know how important those things are. But the knowing doesn’t make me a good mother. The only way to live it is to learn to mother myself. Remember the oxygen mask example on an airplane? We are always instructed to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first, be it a child or another person in need. But MOST women I know who believe they are “good” mothers, have no experience or practice around mothering themselves. Why? Because their own mothers had no experience of it either. Many women I know who are mothers of grown daughters don’t/won’t understand why their own daughters don’t see their own value, or take good care of themselves. How could mothers who have no knowledge or experience of it teach their children? That’s just it. They couldn’t and didn’t. It is now our job to teach ourselves. In that way we become “good mothers”. We must develop our own internal mother so that we may lovingly mother with patience and acceptance and often a tough love. We mother our own projects we are birthing. We mother our lives, our creative endeavors, our relationships. It has to come from within.

So to come full circle; it is my job to be concerned first with my own personal profit or pleasure. You may think those words sound ugly. Well, isn’t that what putting the oxygen mask on first is doing? I profit (I live) from giving myself air to breathe first. That gives me pleasure. The oxygen feels good. Life feels good. I breathe the air and I am alive, and it feels good! And then? Then and only then can I give and do for others.

So create your lists and descriptions of what you believe a “good mother” is and does. But then use that list to examine the development of your own internal mother. What kind of internal voices do you most often hear within you? What internal dialogue would you like to hear? Begin there, and place that life giving oxygen mask over your own face first. In this way not only do you create a life of authenticity, integrity, and joy, but you model it for those around you. What greater gift is there than that?

Friday, November 11, 2011

No Small Thing

Yesterday I took some me time. Drove down to the beach in south Miami somewhere... around 87th st. Parked my mom's car and dropped a few quarters in the meter. It was a weekday, so it was sparsely populated. I picked a spot in the sand and lay my towel out. The water was turquoise. And I'm not just saying that to be poetic. That was the color. Taking a short stroll down the beach, I quickly discovered that even though I knew the water would be cold, I had to get in it. Wearing a tank top and faded cut off sweat pants, (UT hand-me-downs from my daughter), I pulled off my shorts and headed into the water. Navy bikini panties and a tank top in Miami Beach go unnoticed.

I was right. The water was cold. It took my breath away, and I gasped. Then I laughed out loud. It was delightful! With only a slight hesitation, I plunged under the water. Full immersion. Aaaahhhhhh. Surfacing, I lifted my feet off the sandy bottom and floated with my arms outstretched. My toes, peeking out of the turquoise water, were white. I don't mean without a tan (although I do mean that too), I mean white like the white high rise condos in the background white. Shortly before blue lips and shivering, I returned to my warm towel in the sand.

My husband tells people, "No matter where we go, if there's a dog within a hundred miles, my wife will find it." What can  say? I'm a dog person. It was a brindle boxer. A female. And she couldn't have been more than 6-8 months old. I was lying face down on my towel. Only a moment earlier, I had awakened from one of those drooling naps that are so satisfying. My eyes opened only enough to see what was directly in my line of sight, body still quiet and unmoving, like the dead.

She was eyeing the beach, looking for a playmate. I purposefully lifted my head slightly off the towel, the movement catching her attention. We made eye contact. I smiled. Her puppy body got that strained "Let me go, daddy! I see a playmate!" look. Shaking the sleep off my sun-warmed skin, I got up and walked over. "Is your dog friendly?" I ask. "May I pet her?" The handsome young man reached out his hand in a firm gripped hand shake, introducing himself. "Captain Kevin Santana... Just got back from Afghanistan... 8 years."

"WOW! You've been gone 8 years?! That's a long time. Welcome home." I clasped my left hand over our handshake, "Thank you! Thank you for everything you do for our country." He smiled as he struggled with an over active boxer puppy. "My wife left me. I came home, and she's gone. I don't know where she is." His eyes half lidded, bloodshot. "Beer?" he asks as he reaches for another can from his knapsack. "No thanks... Wow. That's rough. You got any kids?" He takes a gulp, "We have a son. He's a year and a half. She took him with her."

What do you say to that? I offer meager words of recognition. His puppy, I discover, is named Gooch. "Does she like the water?", I ask. "My lab won't stay out of the water." "I'll show you", he says. "Watch this!", and he jumps up, unhooks her lead and runs into the water, calling her. She bounded after him, loving it.

I stayed about 20 more minutes in their company before I headed back to my mom's condo. In that short time, I learned he enlisted when he was 19 and is now 29. He was a Ranger, Special Ops, part of the K-9 unit. To this I replied, "I'm guessing you've seen some pretty horrible stuff." "Yeah. I don't even want to talk about it", and quickly changed the subject back to his absent wife. I asked him if he was going to find his son. "I'm gonna try", he answered.

"You married? Got kids?"  I told him yes, that I had a daughter his age, and that I was in my second marriage. I told him this time around it was a good one, and that there was more joy to be had for him in his life, though I doubt from where he was sitting that seemed like a possibility. "I've never been to war and cannot begin to imagine what you've been through. But if there is one thing I can offer you at 54 it is this: I've learned that I always have a choice. I always get to choose how I respond to whatever is in front of me."

"So, tell me something good about your life right now." Without hesitation he responded,  "I've got all my arms and legs." "YES!", I chimed in emphatically, "You've got all your arms and legs... and that's no small thing." I thought of him being Special Ops, K-9 unit. Bombs. No doubt there were some gruesome visuals mercilessly imprinted on his psyche. "Tell me another thing good about your life today, right now." He patted Gooch's hip as she lay curled in his lap, "I've got this." "Yes. You've got your sweet puppy. You've got all your arms and legs, and you've got your dog, the best companion."

A moment of silence passed as we sat there looking out over the horizon of an incredibly beautiful seascape. "What about this day? This amazingly beautiful sky and ocean." To which he paused and said, "I'd almost rather be back in Afghanistan with my men." "I've heard that", I said thoughtfully, "that it's tough for those who have been through the kind of thing you have been through, to make that transition." I sat there with him for a moment more, then said I'd better head back. "If you were staying, I'd take you to dinner", he said. "I'd be good company", I replied. "I think you would", and stuck out his hand. "Captain Kevin Santana", he repeated, and squeezed hard. I squeezed back, "It was good to meet you."

That was yesterday. Today is Veterans Day, and today I am thinking of Captain Kevin Santana and hoping he is allowing some joy in his life today.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I wake this morning early and push the button on my mom's coffee maker. I slept fitfully, on her back porch that looks out over a beautiful bay somewhere in North Miami. Sailboats of varying sizes rest anchored on the water. Last night an owl came to visit, which is a strange occurrence since it's Miami beach, for Christ's sake, and there are no woods really.

A few palms line the well manicured sidewalk along the water of this retirement community. But as I sat here and listened to him "who-who-whooo" in the darkness, I finally saw his silhouette perched on the top corner of the adjacent building. He was perched there, calling out over the water. I was reminded of the barred owl Michael & I often hear in the back yard of our neighborhood at home.

It is my understanding that the Native Americans believe that everything is a mirror and therefore can teach us something. Owl has night vision; the ability to see through the darkness. I am visiting my 81 year old mother who has cancer. Facing death... you don't get much darker than that.

Today we'll do a ritual around releasing resentments long carried. We will burn the list of grievances and empty the ashes into the water. Then we will smudge with sage and fill the opening left from the release with affirmations of love, acceptance and healing. It is a good day.

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Senior Moment

I rounded the corner outside the pool. There are several of them here in this 55 and older community. Pools, I mean. Three white haired women in one-piece swim suits, sat in lounge chairs, chatting by the pool. “Oh, isn’t that cool” I thought, “the seniors out by the pool having their girl-friend time”. In my mind, I pictured myself as the young daughter come to visit her mother, out taking a walk at her mother’s retirement community. A gust of wind blew my white hair across my eyes. I laughed out loud because it hit me. My hair is white too. I am them. They are me. And at 54, I’ve lived long enough to know the immeasurable value of talking with women friends in a relaxed setting on an easy afternoon. Something I did not know in my twenties. With that quick and humorous shift in my perspective, I continued my walk... my senior walk.

Friday, October 21, 2011


My mother is not doing well. She has been struggling with Leukemia. As of late, she seems to be losing the battle. I find myself pulling in and hibernating much. Cold weather is moving in. Seasons are changing. Leaves are doing their thing. Turning. Dying. Falling off the tree.

I don't want her to die. To think that at some point, I won't be able to call her and hear her laugh her "Pinky" laugh, or tell her stories, brings a heavy sadness I don't want to bear. We have a new level of connection now that we have not had before. I am immeasurably grateful for it, and I don't want it to end. When she was physically healthy, we did not have this level of emotional health. Now that we have this emotional health and connection, her body is sick and weak. I wanted both. I wanted to have this kind of connection and be able to enjoy the daily living of life with her; a walk on a beautiful afternoon, lunch at a funky little cafe, travel to places we both enjoy, skyping. But it is not to be.

I believe it was 1991 when she called me and asked me if I would find out where Mary Lee Zawadski was and drive her to check into treatment for co-dependency or alcoholism, whichever it turned out to be. She said she wanted me to drive her because I "knew". I had checked into treatment myself back in 1987. She did not attend my family weekend at the treatment center. She wasn't ready. She couldn't look at herself, and you can't show up at something like that and not have the proverbial mirror held up. It was about 4 years later she called.

I found Mary Lee Zawadski, who was an excellent facilitator, in a small treatment center in Roanoke, Alabama. I didn't even know there was a Roanoke, Alabama. It was an honor to drive my mother. I remember I drove her little convertible Miata she had at the time. We played Carly Simon's Life Is Eternal all the way there.

Last weekend when I was in the mountains marrying two friends of mine, I found myself singing it again in the hot tub, late at night after the ceremony and reception. There I was under an almost full moon, deep in the woods with piles of fallen leaves all around me, alone in the hot tub singing Life Is Eternal. I sang until I felt sleepy, then dried and wrapped myself in the softest robe and slippers, and headed back up the hill to my little cabin. I slept peacefully. The following morning, I spent a couple of hours journaling with the morning sunlight coming through the turning leaves at the window, fresh mug of Cafe Estima in my hands.

This morning, I leave you with Simon's lyrics about life and death:

I've been doing a lot of thinking
About growing older and moving on
Nobody wants to be told that they're getting on

and maybe going away
For a long, long stay
But just how long and who knows
And how and where my spirit will go
Will it soar like Jazz on a saxophone
Or evaporate on a breeze
Won't you tell me please
That life is eternal
And love is immortal
And death is only a horizon
Life is eternal
As we move into the light
And a horizon is nothing
Save the limit of our sight
Save the limit of our sight

Here on earth I'm a lost soul
Ever trying to find my way back home
Maybe that's why each new star is born
Expanding heaven's room
Eternity in bloom
And will I see you up in that heaven
In all it's light will I know you're there
Will we say the things that we never dared
If wishing makes it so
Won't you let me know
That life is eternal
And love is immortal
And death is only a horizon
Life is eternal
As we move into the light
And a horizon is nothing
Save the limit of our sight
Save the limit of our sight

To hear it click here

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Chaise Lounge

It’s a beautiful fall morning. I slept until 7:45, which is reeeeeally late compared to my week day 4:30 a.m. I am sitting on my chaise lounge on my back deck, wrapped in my white terry robe. A fresh brewed cup of Komodo Dragon in the mug I bought back in 1987, while I was in a treatment center. It reads, “No matter where you go, there you are.” Wise words.

The air is cool. Cool enough for my finger tips to be a little numb. The warmth of my coffee mug feels soothing in my hands. I hold it with both and warm myself, a big, contented smile on my face. The dog's toe nails click-click on the wooden deck as they find their spot to rest. The morning air has that turned-leaf smell of autumn and is cool to my nostrils.

Chaise lounge. Don’t you just love that word? I love the way it feels on my tongue as I say it. It feels …luxurious, decadent. I thought of buying a chaise lounge for a long time, to do this very thing I am doing. I wanted a black, wrought iron one with wheels and a thick, weather resistant pad. Every year I would search images and prices on the internet, imagining the luxury of having this very kind of time I am having now. And every year I would put it off until I had forgotten about it for another year.

This pattern went on for some years until one year I saw the pattern and became curious as to what it was about. That’s when I really heard the word “chaise lounge” for the first time. “Lounge”. Hmmmmmm… I realized I avoided buying one because I had resistance to allowing myself to lounge. I discovered I had all manner of internal messages about lounging, and they were quite discouraging. “Lounging? Who has time to lounge? Lounging is lazy, and I am a very busy and productive person.” And of course busy and productive are tied to one’s value and worth in this culture, are they not? Don’t we brag when we “haven’t taken a vacation in five years!” This culture loves martyrs. Martyr mothers that give, give, give to their children and have nothing left for themselves. Martyr fathers who work, work, work and exhaust themselves and burn out. Martyr employees who work and work and take no vacation and are always the first ones to step up and take on one more thing. Yes, this culture loves martyrs. It’s considered quite noble to suffer for others. It’s ironic then, how we often sit in judgment of other cultures who will martyr themselves with their life for what they believe. Food for thought.

So anyway, I decided to allow lounging. I decided to make room for it in my life. That year, I bought my black, wrought iron chaise lounge with wheels and a thick pad. I watch myself struggle with actually using it. I’m getting better at it. This morning I am enjoying the luxury of it, and sharing that luxury with you. I encourage you, give yourselves permission to lounge. You deserve it. I challenge you to take a look at the internal messages you carry around scarcity vs. abundance. What do you tell yourself on a daily basis? Listen with a thoughtful ear. I promise you, you will learn much. There are treasures in that inquiry. 

Friday, October 7, 2011


My alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. Even though I don't consider myself a "morning person", I like that time because it is solely for me. I took the dogs out this morning and looked up into the night sky. It was beautiful. Orion's Belt, and the Seven Sisters above me were two constellations that were familiar to me. It brought a smile to my face, the beauty of it. I felt grateful and content. Small moments like these are a great way to begin the day. It was so peaceful there in the driveway as I waited for the dogs. A quiet calm. No neighbors. No lawn mowers or leaf blowers. No traffic. Just a beautiful, quiet stillness.

Yesterday, I sought to create a similar quiet stillness in my classroom. I played a soothing station on Pandora as my students entered the classroom. The lights were off, and we sat in the quiet for just a minute or two, just breathing. If you teach elementary schoolers, you know this is no small feat. But it was nice. It helped our brains catch up with our bodies. I noticed that even if the class got ramped up again later, I was calmer. My voice had lost the edge of irritation and sarcasm.

Today, I will take the quiet calm of the night sky with me to work. And to each of you who read this, may you too experience a similar experience in your work day.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Creative Mornings

What's the first thought you think, or the first thing you say to yourself, when the alarm goes off in the morning? It has been brought to my attention that many of us, myself included, may have the thought, "I have to get up". Perhaps it's something like, "Oh shit. I don't want to go to work" or "Ugh! I'm so tired!". The words "have to" in our vocabulary put pressure on us. They create feelings of resistance and even dread. Have you ever noticed those words in your daily vocabulary associated with procrastination? I have... And the feelings that go with it are feelings of resistance and dread.

Lately, I have begun the practice of waking with thoughts of gratitude. When my alarm goes off, I snuggle into bed, feel my husband spoon with me lovingly, and say to myself, "Thank you bed, for giving me such a good night's sleep". I noticed while in the shower, I think thoughts about what I need to do that day and begin problem solving. I noticed it creates a low level of anxiety and stress for me. My new practice is to think about and focus on how good the shower feels, how thankful I am for whoever invented showers and indoor plumbing. My new affirmation for showering is, "I am showered with miracles all day long!" What that brings to mind for me are all the times something turns out in a surprisingly positive way that I hadn't even seen a s possible. The totality of possibilities lies before me. What a feel-good way to begin the day.

My sister, Gay, who is also an elementary art teacher, told me of the practice of beginning every class with 1-2 minutes of silent, peaceful breathing with the students. That is something I am beginning as well. I will keep you all posted on what kinds of shifts these new practices create in my life.

Also, I am still ruminating about the "Good Mother" thing I had put out. I have received a great many responses to what characteristics a good mother has. I want to write about that as well. For now, I am sitting with it.

To all of you readers for today: "Today is a fantastic day. Any problem is easily solved with wisdom and grace. Miracles happen at every turn."

Stay tuned.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson. A celebrity. Don't really know much about her. She can sing. Beautiful voice. So yesterday afternoon I saw her perform on the Ellen show. She was wearing a beautifully designed spandex dress. I hesitate to use the word spandex because it conjures up tacky hooker images for most people, and that is definitely NOT the look Kelly Clarkson had. There are those who would look at her and call her fat. Fat. That word... It's usually used in a negative context. Which made me ponder, is it ever used as a positive? I then thought of the word "phat". It sounds the same and is used as a positive descriptor. Interesting.

So anyway, I was watching her, her body language, how she projects, how at ease she seemed in her body... so confident. Small breasts. Wide, full, curving hips. Far wider than is allowed in our culture. A feminine, round belly curving just beneath her naval. A slight pooch at the top of her thighs when she turned in a certain direction. Her arms and her skin had that wonderful, creamy, soft, non-sculpted look. All the things our broader, white culture hates. All the things our broader white culture seeks to eliminate.

I sat there looking at her and I saw just how beautiful she was/is. And for me, much of her beauty emanated from her confidence. I mean, here she is a big celebrity... on stage... on Ellen, for Christ's sake! I mean how many viewers does she have?? And did Kelly Clarkson choose a dress that carefully and creatively camouflaged her "fat"? No, she did not. In fact, what was most beautiful to me was that she chose a dress that accented all those features. It was like, "F** YOU, larger white culture that hates women! This is me! This is who and how I am, and I choose to stand in the beauty of who and how I am!"

WOW. In my opinion, Kelly Clarkson clanks when she walks. Big, brass balls.

As I watched her I thought, I wouldn't have the nerve. I would be so worried about how I looked, and how fat television makes a woman look, and how all the magazines would say ugly things about my body, and on and on my brain would assault me. So, GOOD FOR YOU, KELLY! You are a wonderful, beautiful, and rare role model for the rest of us real women out here! There it is, Ladies! BE WHO AND HOW YOU ARE, WITH YOU HEAD HELD HIGH AND A PROUD, GENUINE SMILE ON YOUR FACE!

Thank you, Kelly Clarkson!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


My mom has cancer. Leukemia, to be specific. She is 81. I struggle with what to write... but I want to write something. I am at a loss for words... which if you know me, is new for me. I am flying down to visit her next week. One thing that has come of this is we are more connected than we were. I talk to her more often in real and intimate ways.

The obligatory 'call your mother' stuff is gone from my brain. I'm lucky. Even with all the dysfunction in my family history, I can still say that if my mother were not my mother, and I met her on the street, I would dig her. I would hang out with her. She's cool. I also remember her that way as a child. The good memories are of her full belly laughs, her high pitched cackles, her open-minded thinking, and her passionate, creative energy.

These positive qualities are just a few of the ways I am gifted by knowing her. Can I tell you some shitty stories? Sure. Do I have any f**ked up memories? Yeah. And, I am exceedingly grateful to add that I have a multitude of memories that bring a smile to my face, many that make me laugh out loud, and she has a great many positive character traits that I have been impacted by.

When my dad died, I spoke at his memorial service. I said out loud that my dad was not a great husband to my mother, and not a great dad in many ways. Yes, I said it. Out loud... at a podium on a stage up in front of family and friends. And I said, " And I loved him anyway. My father wasn't a saint. I didn't need him to be". That last sentence was really important for me. Still is.

There was a man, probably my father's only true friend, who spoke about him being a 'good christian', blah, blah, blah. Which was total words-you-say-at-an-american-funeral bullshit. My dad was not churchy and did not use 'christian speak', go to church even. Was he moral? Yes. That's how he would have described himself. He liked that word, moral. But his friend did not speak about the man I knew.

I have many good memories of both my parents. My father was sweet and loving to me. I know to the core of my being that he loved me with his whole heart. My mother too. Neither one of them were perfect and as far as parenting skills go, there was a lot to be desired. But what's gratefully true for me today is that I don't need them to be anything more than the humans they are/were. I can love them wholly and completely. What freedom there is in this truth! What joy and peace it gives me. I am feeling much gratitude for that today.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ceremony and Ritual

Two friends have asked me to officiate their wedding ceremonies in October. I am honored... and surprised, if I am honest. If you had told me a few years ago that I would be doing that, I wouldn't have believed it. I mean, not that it's unbelievable, but I just hadn't considered it. I love ritual, though. It is a very powerful thing. It is also a creative outlet for me. To create a ritual or ceremony that is custom designed for a person's specific need or rite of passage is beautiful and transformative. It is a great passion of mine to sit with a person and explore what is meaningful to them, what questions drive their lives, and design something for them that is uniquely their own.

Before I married my present and second husband, I did a great deal of soul searching. I was absolutely clear that this marriage must be something new, something quite unlike what I had believed and experienced marriage to be prior to that. I also knew that in this new marriage, I must put myself first. Sounds selfish, doesn't it? ...At least to our larger, traditional culture. But it is my truth that all love, caring, connection, respect, support, and nurture comes from within. It is a direct result of how I love, care, connect with, respect, and nurture myself.

So, I set about designing a ceremony where I married myself first, and promised to never leave me. I created the words I wanted spoken, chose the readings I wanted read, and the design of the ritual which was a Native American Medicine Wheel. I even chose a totem or symbol to remind me of my commitment to myself. It was a ring, the symbol of a circle with no beginning and no end. This ring goes on my finger before my wedding ring from my husband. That part is very important to me. In retrospect, I believe many of my friends didn't really understand what I was doing or what it meant. I think they thought it strange. But I knew what it meant, and that's what mattered. I wanted them there as family and as witnesses.

As a result, the wedding ceremony to my husband, Michael, felt true and free... an accurate and authentic fit for me and who I have become. And it was fun. Imagine that. Fun and playful. In fact, the wedding march was trumpeted in with white Kazoos, the best on the market. I did my research. The recessional was the song Mrs. Robinson, by Simon & Garfunkle, from the movie The Graduate. My husband is 17 years younger than I, and that little detail was a bit of a hurdle for me.

My father had died some years earlier, so I asked my handsome and fabulously-funny-best-girlfriend, Matthew, if he would give me away. To which he replied with a devilish grin, "Oh Honey, I've been wantin' to give you away for a long time!" Walking across that beautiful meadow to our circle of friends, with Matthew on my arm and me in my 'fire engine red' gown, was perfectly joyous.  Michael and I had co-created the perfect ceremony for us. It was a Celtic Hand-fasting with words that were true fit.

Life is constant change and transition. Who we were is not who we will be in a decade. What we hold dear and feel passionate about changes as we gain wisdom of experience. I believe stress is really fear of the constant change that we experience as humans. Having a tangible experience, a ritual or ceremony to mark those transitions, helps us move through those changes with beauty, power, and grace.

Friday, September 16, 2011


It's late. I'm sleepy. And, I want to post something before I thank my comfortable bed and crawl in between the sheets for the night. Tonight I am grateful. I am very aware of how abundantly full of friends my life is. Not just acquaintances, but I have a great many of those as well. No, I'm talking about true friends. People who really show up in my life. People who love and support me, and genuinely care about my well-being. I am extremely rich in that area. For this, I am exceedingly grateful. My life is full of joy because of these friends. Tonight I spent time with some of them. They showed up for Michael and I in a positive and supportive way. It's a good feeling when that happens... a really good feeling. So now I sleepily lay my grateful and smiling body down for the night, well aware of just how rich I truly am. Aaahhhhhhhhh..... Sweet dreams.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Her words were the dawn that clears the fog in my mind. I knew then what I needed to do...

For most women, fear of success is really fear of added responsibility.

With success comes new responsibility, and if I am not skilled at setting boundaries around my personal time and energy, then that added responsibility brings more stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Most women are very frugal when giving time and energy to themselves, but give freely and abundantly to others.

Because of my own personal childhood wounding, I fear taking up too much space, time, etc. I carry an inner message that says I'm an intrusion. Years ago, a friend pointed out to me just how often I apologized. In those days I was apologizing for my very existence.
In circle I've seen women do the dance of, "You go ahead."  "Oh no, that's okay, you go. I'll wait." Back and forth they dance, afraid to take up time and space.

So here it is; when a woman is willing to take up time and space, to set healthy boundaries around her own personal time, her wise self sees it. When her wise self sees this and knows that she has learned how to set these boundaries for herself, then she will attract all the success she can handle. The key being, "all she can handle".

This is the boundary setting I am working. I realized I was not having the kind of success I wanted with a dream/vision of mine. As I looked within, I saw that I do not set the boundaries for myself that I need to. One of the results is that I don't allow myself to be vulnerable in the ways that I would like, in the areas that I would like. It is a protective response. As I learn how to gain balance in this area, I can let go of the fear of being vulnerable because my wise self will trust that I know how to, and will, take care of myself and nurture myself in the ways I need.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Okay, so I was reading a book by one of my favorite people, Cheryl Richardson, called The Art of Extreme Self Care. Great book. I highly recommend it. I was reading the acknowledgments at the back of the book, looking for names I am familiar with and what she thanked these many people for. There was a long list. It was obvious that the list started with those people farthest from her 'home nucleus', if you will, and ended with those closest to her heart and most influential. It got me to thinking... who would be on my list?

Cheryl's list was obviously people she knew she could count on, depend on in a state of need. These were people she had accepted help from or allowed them to help her. This got me to thinking that at the top of my list, I would acknowledge me. And it's kind of funny to me that since her book is about extreme self care, that she didn't acknowledge herself. I mean, think about it, there can be (and probably are) a myriad of people in our lives who would be happy to help us, give to us, do for us, but if I am not willing to ask for that help and receive it then it does me no good at all. For many of us, myself included, it is no small feat to ask for and then receive help. In fact, it occurred to me that with the person I present, most of my people probably don't even know when I am in need.

I present a person who is confident, strong, competent, wise, and efficient at what I do. The person I present doesn't need help. To ask for help and receive it means I put myself in a vulnerable place. As I walked, I asked myself, "Who do I depend on? Who do I call when I am in need? Who do I call when I feel vulnerable and need someone to lean on, to see me, really see me?" I came up with three people. 2 women and my husband.

Now I gotta tell you, that really surprised me. I have  dozens and dozens of wonderful women in my life. Women I have no doubt would be there for me. Women I could depend on. It's not them... it's me. I'm not saying 3 is a low number. I'm sure there are many people who would love to know they had three people they can count on. What I'm saying is that it was an opportunity to take a look at myself. And what I found in that examination was that I build an invisible wall of "I can do it all by myself". What I found was there is a part of me that is afraid to allow others to see me as vulnerable, as needy, and it has a profound impact on my life. I looked in that mirror and saw a woman who talks to other women about asking for and receiving help, but doesn't see the need to examine that within her own life.

Right then and there I decided to make some changes. I didn't yet know what they were, but I knew I had a new willingness. That was 4 days ago. Since then, I have talked with two of those people I depend on. I got some excellent feedback, and I have taken action. It is clear my own work at present is about honing my skills around setting boundaries... setting boundaries around my personal time and space. It is about saying yes when I mean yes, and no when I mean no. It is ultimately about giving to myself to build up a reserve of energy and nurture. It may be difficult for you reading this to see the connect right now, but it's crystal clear to me. And I'll write more on that later.  :-)

Monday, September 12, 2011

I've been giving myself the pleasure of walking. I say it that way because I've noticed something about my walks. I've noticed that often I shower before I walk. Which at first I thought was strange, because most people shower after they 'work out'. But that's just it. I realized my walks are for pleasure. For 14 years (in the 90's), I was a fitness instructor and personal trainer. I was a fitness freak. Used to be a walk was for burning calories, fat, etc. Any kind of exercise had a fitness purpose and I was strict about it. Then I realized for a while that walking for me, although not about burning calories anymore, was about "being productive". If I was going for a walk then I had to walk the dogs. If I wasn't walking the dogs, then I had to take my cell phone and return calls while walking. Not anymore. Today, I walk for pleasure. Today, my walk is for me. No dogs. No cell phone. Just me and my quiet time. And another thing... I don't walk. I stroll. Leisurely and gloriously, enjoying the air and the smells. The other day I even walked in the rain. It was a soft rain, and the newly wet asphalt had that hot summer then freshly rained on smell. I wore a ball cap so my glasses were dry, and I strolled in the rain. When I returned home, my husband asked, "So how was your walk?". "I really enjoyed it!", I replied. I was a little surprised, to be honest. But I did enjoy it. Nowadays I take a leisurely stroll just for me, because it feels good.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Today I am feeling vulnerable, as I would imagine many people are. Michael and I have been watching 9/11 programs all day yesterday and this morning. I feel vulnerable for many reasons. One is that these images bring tears, admiration, sadness, and all manner of emotion. These emotions make me feel exposed and vulnerable. But I don't feel weak in that exposure. I feel human. Such tender beauty in the stories. Such honor and heroism.

I am also feeling vulnerable about some new revelations in my personal life. I am also feeling courage about new choices and changes I am making. Today, I am meeting a friend for lunch. She said, "I am taking care of you today." She offered coffee or lunch or whatever I wanted. I asked for lunch. It was a big deal to ask for and allow myself to receive it. Today I'm learning how to say yes when I mean yes, and no when I mean no, and developing the fine art of building healthy boundaries around my personal time. I'll keep you all posted on how that particular stretch is working out for me. If you have any input on the subject, I would LOVE to hear it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New To Me

So much talk about blogging. Thought I would try it. Feelin' very awkward and vulnerable here. Still... it's kinda fun. Little steps at a time. We'll see how this works.

Okay, like for example, how do I figure out which fonts to use where? Many are cool but difficult to read. So do I give up the creative and go with the boring??