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.