Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I have just spent the most glorious four days in Oregon. The weather was perfect - sunny and crisp, cool enough to justify wearing my most comfortable sweat pants, but warm enough for a t-shirt on top.

The company was divine - two of the most clever, courageous and talented women I've come across in this lifetime. We came with a purpose; to provide fresh, honest perspectives on each others' writing projects and damn, did we deliver! We wrote and talked, listened and shared, drank coffee and cooked for ourselves and each other. We walked and processed, slept and woke to the sun, shared stories of ancient history and life-altering moments. We laughed and wrote some more and when it was all said and done, we had achieved magic.

Each one of us is writing a magnificent book.

Each one of us is ready for the next book.

Each one of us loves the others deeply and believes in the others completely.

Carrie, thank you for your time and energy. Your honesty and openness. Your house in the mountains and your willingness to share it.

Deb, thank you for your perspective. Your love and compassion. Your easy companionship.

Two better writing companions I could not ask for, nor find. I am blessed.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Listen for a moment. If it is a Thursday or a Friday (my two days off of working at the school and parenting during the day), you can just hear the faint strains of the song from the movie "Rocky." Sylvester Stallone is wearing his old baggy sweats, jogging down the street as his trainer trails him closely

Getting stronger

Given a stretch of time to myself, my thoughts always turn to self-improvement. How can I shampoo the stained carpets? What can I do to straighten up the bookshelves? Today's the day to shave my legs and experiment with a new way to do my hair so that it doesn't always look like I just got out of the shower and finger-combed it before rushing out the door. Flip on the TV and find a DIY channel so I can learn to replace the wax ring under my own toilet without calling a plumber or a handyman. Surf the web to get a jump on my holiday shopping. By the time Bubba and the kids get home, the house will be sparkling clean and I'll look like a million bucks. This time, I will have discovered a new way to organize my closet and use my existing makeup to enhance my appearance without adding 30 minutes to my morning routine.


By noon, I've spent bursts of energy vacuuming, rearranging, sorting, and sweating. I've created a mental inventory of things that I can do to make myself better. And all I've really succeeded in doing is convincing myself that I need to be better. Look better. Stand straighter. Exercise more. Keep a tidier house. Cook healthier meals. I'm exhausted and a little disappointed in myself.

I head up the stairs to shower no longer feeling like Rocky, but determined to get there. Under the warm spray, my brain is in my bathroom drawers, cataloging my makeup and hair gels, wondering how I can use them in a better way this time.

As I finish rinsing the conditioner out of my hair, my gut breaks in. How many days will I waste doing this? How much money will I spend trying to imPROVE myself? How much do I really want to spend the next half hour wrestling with cords and gels and powders?

The breath wins out. Squeeze the water out of my hair, dry off, shimmy into my most comfortably-worn jeans, smear some pit-stick on, pull a shirt on over my head and make my way down the stairs to write. The thing that makes me feel good about myself. The place where my words and thoughts are my own - no apologies.

The soundtrack slows down. Muscles release their hold on each other. The warmth of my laptop soothes my hurt feelings. Ahhh.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Spectrum

"The other side of the story."
"Two sides to every coin."
"Black and white."

Common phrases we have all heard and uttered throughout our lives. What about the shades of grey? What about the space between those two visible sides of the coin?

So often as we travel through our daily adventures we focus on the ends of the spectrum. The best outcome if we're hopeful, the worst if we're fearful. Think about how often either one of those things comes to fruition. More often than not, what actually happens is some combination of the two, something more along the lines of a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. Yet, we still continue to hope for the tens and expect or dread the ones.

GW Bush has preyed on our insecurities for the last eight years of his presidency. He has attempted to motivate Americans by scaring the sh*t out of them time and time again. As recently as ten days ago he was warning us that if Congress didn't pass the bailout deal there would be "dire consequences." Now that it has passed and the economy hasn't rebounded the way he had hoped, he is attempting to do something he is not quite so versed at: calming fears.

I spoke with a man the other day who is terribly concerned about the economy. Although he is currently sitting well financially, he is worried that if things don't turn around soon he and his family will run out of cash assets and be forced to "start all over." My response:

The most frightening three years of my life were when Bubba was sick with his mystery illness and I thought I was going to lose him. I am willing to give up my kids' extracurricular activities to save money. I am willing to sell our house and move to a smaller one or rent for a while if we need to hoard some cash. I don't care if we find ourselves living in the minivan or a tent in the park so long as we are together. We have family and friends who love us and whom we love. If we all band together, we can find a way to get through.

His response, "I don't see anything as drastic as that happening!"

Well then, what are you worried about?

He followed up with, "And I'd move in with my mother-in-law before I'd let my family live in a tent."

Perspective. What a beautiful thing. There are other colors in the rainbow besides the ones at either end.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Happy Birthday, Gandhi!

A Pledge for Grateful Living
by Bro. David Steindl-Rast O.S.B.

In thanksgiving for life, I pledgeto overcome the illusion of ENTITLEMENT
by reminding myself that everything is a gift and, thus, to live GRATEFULLY.

In thanksgiving for life, I pledge to overcome my GREED,
that confuses wants with needs,
by trusting that enough for all our needs is given to us
and to share GENEROUSLY what I so generously receive.

In thanksgiving for life, I pledge to overcome APATHY
by waking up to the opportunities that a given moment offers me
and so to respond CREATIVELY to every situation.

In thanksgiving for life, I pledge to overcome VIOLENCE
by observing that fighting violence by violence leads to more violence and death
and, thus, to foster life by acting NON-VIOLENTLY.

In thanksgiving to life, I pledge to overcome FEAR
which is the root of all violence by looking at whatever I fear as an opportunity
and, thus, COURAGEOUSLY to lay the foundation for a peaceful future.
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