Saturday, June 30, 2007

Let's Be Real.....

I've been surprised at how many comments on my recent posts mentioned how much of myself I share on this blog, and how happy I seem to be. Here I go sharing again, but the truth is I'm happy only some of the time. I'm unhappy about a few things I can't seem to work out and/or integrate into my daily life. I'm working hard on patience, acceptance and temperance.

Lest I mislead because I try to be optimistic or present a false picture, here's a report from the interior ministry:

I cannot think of a thing to say
Even this rhyme is fading away
So I'll leave it for now that as of today
I'm trying to keep forlorn-ness at bay

Sometimes I'm fine, sometimes I'm not
I'd be more morose if I wouldn't get caught
The road to happiness can get kind of hot
I hope I'm learning what's here to be taught

Please don' t ask me to change or explain
It's enough that I'm working so hard to maintain
If you listen too closely you'll hear me complain
So please bear with me while I change travel lanes.

And if I were a magician, I'd pull from my sleeve
This hope for the future I want to believe.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Alphabet Soup

Some time ago this meme came my way. Since I don't think I posted it, for reasons I can't remember, here it is--part 2 of what seems to be back -to-back revelations about myself. I sometimes wonder if/why I share information that is personal to me, but it's a question I can't answer. Like Bibi, the words often just come. I'm learning to modulate and screen them, but it seems I'm also learning to be myself. So in the interest of congruence (good word, huh!), here's my alphabet soup:

A is for age: 38 years old. This is not my actual age but it is how old I would be if I didn’t know how old I am. I am actually 59. If this is a shock to any of you, please know it is a shock to me too.
B is for beer of choice: I don’t drink. I can’t drink. That’s another story. But if I did drink, I wouldn’t drink beer. I was a fine wine and zambuca girl….
C is for career: I’m a self employed counselor/consultant/trainer who is happily becoming a writer.
D is for favorite Drink: hands down, my favorite is Italian Roast Coffee. Every morning I squeal with delight while it’s brewing.
E is for Essential item(s) you use everyday: Ok, no lipstick, no jewelryfor me, though I use and like both. I t’s a pen and paper. I’d be lost and longing without them.
F is for Favorite song at the moment: Eva Cassidy’s Fields of Gold. It makes me cry for a good reason.
H is for How About Whatever Favorite I Choose: Ok, I choose my favorite color. It is green, like grass.
G is for favorite Game: I hate games. I try to avoid board games especially. I will play poker or whist but that’s all. Please don’t ask me to play board games. Please.
I is for Instruments played: Guitar, piano, tuba, trumpet, violin, drums, and sax. No, none of this is true. I made it up to impress for a fleeting second.
J is for favorite Juice: Cranberry juice with soda water and a twist of lime, in a wine glass please. This way I can toast and caress the stemware, just like one of the gang.
K is for Kids: I have one darling daughter, one baby grandson, and I love kids of all ages and sizes.
L is for last kiss: This afternoon to jb before she left for Newport.
M is for marriage: Yes. 19 years unofficially. 2 years legally. 21 years in all. Happily.
N is for full Name:As if it's a giant secret. Still, can’t do that in Blogland. My name is not my favorite, but my parents must have liked it. Only a few close friends actually call me kj.
O is for Overnight hospital stays: one at age 5 when my tonsils were removed; one at age 30 with the birth of my daughter; one at age 33 for a scary biopsy, and one last fall for back surgery
P is for phobias: I have my share: the worse are being alone at airports, driving in snow and ice, and the first 30 seconds of public speaking (all of which my work requires),
Q is for quote: "Hell No" or "Hell Yes" said with Ces' cowboy accent. I also like “What the frick..”, which I also picked up also Ces, and now love to say when the moment is right.
R is for biggest Regret: hmm. I wish I had saved more money faster. But then again, I’m not sure I would change anything either. If I have to sell shoes at Macy’s when I’m 85, I just hope I don’t have to touch strange feet.
S is for sports: I love love love baseball. It is mystical and magical. I believe I am an expert on the game.
T is for Time you wake up: varies: sometimes 7:30, sometimes 8, occasionally 6 am.
U is for color underwear: most often black. And they match.
V is for Vegetable you love: Is an artichoke a vegetable? I love artichokes, especially reaching the heart and dipping it in lemon butter or holidaise sauce.
W is for Worst Habit: I can perseverate and nag in an attempt to have it my way.
X is for X-rays you’ve had: Because I think this is a stupid question, I decline to answer it.
Y is for Yummy food you make: I make a mean garlic and cheese bread, my dad’s spaghetti sauce, and I just mastered turkey gravy—after at least 300 attempts.
Z is for Zodiac sign: Leo the Lion, but please be aware even though I am regal I have learned humility.

Anybody else want a go at this A to Z?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Steppin' UP

The following letter to the Editor appeared in yesterday's Boston Globe:

I am a first grade teacher in Norwood.

In September, I received a package at

school filled with children's books,

stationery, stickers, classroom decorations,

pencils, and candy. Inside was a note from

someone identifying herself only as

"a friend", encouraging me to stay positive.

The author fondly recalled her own years

of teaching and her love of children.

As the months passed, I continued to

receive packages at school--at Halloween,

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter. After

each delivery, I discussed the beauty of

our gifts with my students. I was able to

convey the value of giving without expecting

anything in return.

About a week ago, the school secretary called

down to my room and reported that another

package had been delivered.

I ran to the front of the school and followed my

mystery angel, a woman unfamiliar to me, to her

car. "Who are you?" she asked as I asked her the

"I won't tell you my name," she told me, "but I will
tell you that I never wanted you to see me. Some-
one in your school told me that you were new
here, and I wanted you to feel encouraged and

She said she felt that educators often don't
receive the support and love they need to carry
out their jobs.

After embracing me and wishing me well, my
"friend" drove off, leaving many of my questions

Although I never learned her name, I did learn
a lifetime of lessons from her this year.
Megan Walsh

A simple act. A huge act.

It's pretty easy to be a Mystery Angel. You just have to do something nice and not get caught doing it.

And most of the time you end up feeling terrific, not to mention the effect on the receiver of your kindness.

Today I offer you a CHALLENGE: sometime during the next three days--from now until Tuesday or Wednesday of the week--find a way to be a MYSTERY ANGEL.

Do something nice and don't get caught.

Then feel good about it.

Then tell me. And I will reward you with a prize. It might be a poem written especially for you, or something else--you never know....

Be a MYSTERY ANGEL this week. Just one time. Do something that heals and helps.

I ask this of you because I think acts like this make a difference in the world far beyond our assumptions.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thursday 13 plus 3: Jobs I've Had

I began working when I was 14 years old, one weeknight and every Friday night and Saturday at Woolworth's 5 and 10 store.
My mother's always said that I never seemed to need money. It's true: I worked every summer in various manufacturing and temp jobs during years of college.
For a few months I did temp work which unexpectedly led me to plan and design a benefit concert by the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Shortly after, at 22 and newly married, I moved to Germany with my then-military-then husband and landed the plum fantastic job of first teaching and then counseling and co-running an Army Education Center situated on an artillery base.
When I returned to the States almost 3 years later, I moved to Oklahoma with my then-graduate school-then husband and for a year had the second worse job of my life.
When I returned to New England I blindly landed a job as a state Rehabilitation Counselor. I had only a degree in English but my hands-on counseling work with the Army brought me to this terrific job which would define my career and set my direction.
From there I became a Resource Coordinator for the non profit New England Spinal Cord Injury Foundation. When I took leave to have my precious baby daughter, I was contacted by the Easter Seal Society to direct and publish a resource directory.
That was the beginning of my work as a self employed Consultant and small business owner, which I've done ever since with three exceptions: JB and I opened a restaurant for the briefest of times; I was a General Manager and somebody else's employee for a one year stint in the worse job of my life; and, since June 30, 2006, I have altogether walked away from my consulting business in order to write, which is where I still am in this moment.

Read on only if you want to know the details and story-behind-the-story of the challenging and diverse careers of one woman named kj:

1. Woolworth's Five and Dime: My friend CC and I started our jobs together. She ran the popcorn machine, which was far more prestigious than my assignment in the Stationary department. I was required to dust and look busy at all times, which was not easy. I was later transferred to knicknacks and that was even worse because I hated dusted all those little ceramic kittens and plastic vases. I did this job for about two years, until I was politely asked to leave because I was calling in sick too many Friday nights saying my mother needed me (had to have a socI ial life, afterall...)

2. I quickly got another job at the Anderson Little Men's Clothing Store. I worked behind the counter and ran the only register, which was big-cheese status as far as I was concerned. The store had a small women's section, handled by a very nice woman named Lovie, but mostly it serviced men buying and being fitted for suits. I kept this part time job through my first years of college--it was the main reason I always had money. I spent my money frequently ordering 2 am pancakes at the International House of Pancakes with my college friends Moose and Ann. One Sunday morning while I was cooking bacon, Anne's brother called me to say Anne had been killed by a drunk driver who hit her from behind while walking. Moose was living on a sailboat with her husband and could only be contacted by the longest saddest walk of my life down her pier to pick her up on our way to comfort Ann's mother.

3. During my college summers, I worked mostly in factories. I spliced film at Polaroid on a clunky machine that had previously packaged Wonder Bread, I soldered computer circuit boards before computers were mainstream, and I blew water from copper bellows by placing the bellows, one at a time, over a strong gush of hot steam that sometimes burned my fingers. I liked these jobs because I found myself working with union-type hard working men and women who got a kick out of me, the college kid. My affection and easy way with all kinds of people probably came from those irreplacable days.

4. I also did a couple of office temp jobs, including working a calculator all day, every minute for Mary Kay Cosmetics and a brief stint I can hardly remember except that the boss was a jerk. We used to kid around and cluck like chickens for some unknown reason and as a result he sent around a notice that the office clucking had to stop. What was I thinking that on my last day of work there, I left a note on his office wall that said "Cluck You".

5. Just after I graduated from college, I found a temp job working for a spacey college professor who had started a non profit agency to send food and supplies to Biafra, a country where children and families were starving and dying by the hundreds every day. On my first day in his makeshift office, he told me the Boston Symphony and the Boston Pops orchestras had volunteered to play a benefit performance at Symphony Hall. It was up to me to coordinate the event.

Ooooh. I was impressed beyond my years and dove into action. I was to find performers who wanted to perform with these world-known symphonies. I wrote out a list of people I thought would be sufficiently famous, starting with Barbara Streisand, tracking down her agent by calling 411. When it was finally in place, Peter, Paul and Mary, a classical pop guitarist named Mason Williams, and the top comedian at the time (Pat Paulsen, who was also spoofily running for President) joined Senator Ted Kennedy, conductor Arthur Fiedler, and me, this star-struck kid with no experience, for a day of rehearsals and an incredible night at the theatre. This was the beginning of my career as a big cheese. I picked up confidence that lasted me all the way to the disaster of the Restaurant.

6. I student-taught 8th grade English and for a brief time was then a substitute high school teacher. When I married my husband and left for Germany 3 days after our wedding, I somehow landed a job teaching reading and English to American soldiers who had not graduated from high school. I've always liked teaching--I like the challenging of keeping things interesting and simple--but it is exhausting work. (Don't let anyone tell you teachers have it easy. These folks are the backbone of society and they should paid accordingly).

7. Just my incredible luck that the one and only Counselor position opened up at the Army Ed. Center where I was teaching. I passionately loved this job. First of all, these guys were in Germany with no family, driving tanks and artillery into the woods, and dealing with military structure and toughness that not everyone could handle. So I learned to be a counselor, a listener, and a problem-solver on-the-job. Plus I ran diversity workshops, set the GED and college course schedule, and decorated the ed. center so it was a comfortable haven from the tanks and barracks. When my husband was given a chance to leave the army early, I left my job here expecting to return to the states only temporarily. It didn't turn out that way and eventually my little counselor desk was filled by someone else.

8. My now-civilian-then-husband had started grad school in Europe. In order to finish his degree, we packed up for Oklahoma shortly after we left Germany. I got a job as an Administrative Assistant in the Freshman Dean's office at the University of Oklahoma. I don't know what went wrong. I never felt liked from my first day there. I was an outsider and nothing I did seemed to help. Eight months later I walked away from that job vowing I would never again work somewhere I did not feel good about.

9. My "career" began for real as a Rehab. Counselor for the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. I had a caseload of 30-35 severely disabled adults--men and women who wanted or needed to work but needed help because of a disability. My clients were paraplegic, quadriplegic, psychiatrically impaired, had heart conditions, amputations, all sorts of chronic illnesses or injuries. In this job, I learned how to find resources that did exist and create resources that didn't exist . I learned people are people are people.I got my master's degree in Counseling during this time, and I went to work excited and fulfilled every single day. When I die, I'm guessing the word "Counselor" will be one of the few to describe me, and I like that.

10. One day I saw an ad in the Sunday paper for a Resource Coordinator for the New England Spinal Cord Injury Foundation. Since I knew alot about spinal cord injury, I went for the interview as calm and cocky as anyone could be who really doesn't want the job. But I got it.

I spent the next two years traveling the state, meeting every single newly injured person, often just days after their lives would change forever and forever. I'm talking about people who are fine one day and permanently paralyzed the next. For months and years, I stayed with these folks --through their intensive rehab. learning to use a wheelchair and hold a fork, through their challenging transitions home, through creative planning for them to work again.

The world is generally not hospitable to disabled people, but I learned that didn't matter so much as long as the people in your life loved you and as long as you weren't alone in tackling and overcoming certain obstacles. In this job I began writing and publishing: I was Project Director or a regional, and then a national, Resource Directory. Lily Tomlin's quadriplegic character Crystal wrote the book cover's inscription. Forgive me for bragging, but at the time this resource directory made a huge difference in the movement for independent living. I'm proud of it to this day.

11. Next: I'm pregnant. I take a leave of absence for 12 weeks. I receive a call from Easter Seals to do a resource directory for them. I don't understand that my boss at the Foundation hasn't approved this, so I accept. Some confusion ensues and as a result I become a self employed Consultant (as well as a new mother). The project was fun and easy. I continue to consult for the Foundation as well, but I've had my first taste of entrepreneurialship and I like it.

12. A friend and I decide to teach a class together. We call it "Shifting Gears: Exploring Personal and Career Choices". We offer it through my town's adult ed program. The first night 7 people show up. The next week 13 people show up. We are off and running, making up the cirriculum as we go along. By the time it's finished, we've decided to go into business together. This was the birth of OPTIONS Associates, a company I would run for the next 25 years.

13. What can I say about OPTIONS? At one point we had 100 employees and managed community residences throughout the state. At another point we had consultants and nurses and vocational rehab. specialists in 8 states along the eastern seaboard. The company was well known in case and disability management, voc. rehab, training, and developing new programs and products. Along the way we had a few splits, the business got too diverse and too big for my liking, and for a time I let things fall apart for reasons I will not get into. When I made the decision to return to my roots as an Independent Consultant, it took me a while to realize how much happier I was without worrying about all the marketing and supervision and administration that was required of me.

14. Although I was regularly working as a Consultant, JB and I cashed in on her dream to own a Restaurant . We called it Tomato City and specialized in American tapas--interesting appetizers that combined to be a main entree. We renovated a dingy space for five months and transformed it into what I called "a slightly upscale American cafe". It was a hit from day one--cozy, relaxing, fabulous.

But there was one problem: JB and I didn't know what we had gotten into. We were exhausted, the place was too big (65 plus another 35 seats in the back room), and neither of us could cook or keep up as well as we thought. We almost killed one another. We closed 5 months after we opened because it was that or us. We were lucky to sell the lease and assets without getting creamed. It took us a year or more to forgive eachother--yikes--but today I can say I'm glad we did it. There is nothing like opening the doors and seeing the space fill up with happy customers. It was exhausting, but it was also exhilerating.

15. Here comes my worse worse job: I agreed to help a casual friend get his business on track. I did this because I was experienced in helping private clients choose and set up their own businesses and he and a partner owned an Independent Movie Theatre that needed help. Plus he wanted to start a Local Artisan Cooperative. This was the only time I became somebody else's employee in years and I was confident and excited. It was a disaster. These guys ran their businesses off the cuff and in ways I couldn't agree with or adjust to. I managed to build a wonderful cooperative, which is still wonderful and going strong, but the movie theatre was no better when I left than it was when I started. It's now ok, I believe, several years later. All I can say about this whole experience I learned alot and good luck.

16. Consultant/Counselor turned Writer: Until last July, I had clients throughout the United States and some locally, focusing on either disability needs, return-to-work planning, or self employment. From time to time I continued to offer workshops and training in happiness, communication skills, and professional development. I did this until a gig I had wound down and I stopped. I just stopped. I stopped because JB encouraged and allowed me to write. So here I now am, writing every day, readying to publish, and loving every minute of it. I do not yet know if I can make a living doing this, but I am going for it.

Because, as you may remember, I promised myself years ago I would only work at something I liked. And that's what I'm still doing........

Rhyme Time

First Marloes wrote a post called distraction. Then my closest pal Ces wondered about our mutual distraction due to the sheer joy and voluminous time we spend together. Then in my weekly Big Yellow writing group, I found myself with something to say about distraction.
As long as we are alive, we each get the same amount of minutes each day. So if distraction means consciously living in the moment, savoring those special people and places, and slo-o-o-w-ing down, why not?, you might ask. Why not indeed......

The paint awaits
The sweetest fate
As though I’m eight
And already late

I’m moving slow
And well below.
No grass to mow
And even so

Who would have known
The sunrise tone
From the telephone
Rings not alone

The laundry stack
Wants to attack
But instead sneaks back
in a laughing sack

Who would have guessed
My maybe best
will now confess
that more is less

The colored sky
Does not ask why
So why would I try
To reach so high?

My list is long
I could plug along
With tweezer tongs
That don’t sing songs

But suddenly I stop and rest--
Decide to quickly flunk the test,
Remember why I’m kind of blessed,
And snuggle in my secret nest

It’s distraction, yes, it is, no doubt
It snakes inside and then peeps out
When I forget to pause and pout
It’s because I’m playing all about

Tell me that I’m wasting time
And I’ll be inclined to remind
The kettle to forget to find
the hooting steam that fails to bind

I’m painting words upside down
Twirling, turning each around
Until they fall without a sound
Onto orange sacred ground

I might watch them dance before they spill
Just beyond the window sill
or maybe roll down the widest hill
into space that I won’t fill

It’s Saturday and winds will blow
Around everything I use to know
And should you stop instead of go
Please be glad I told you so

You can sniffle, wince, regret and moan
And cover, conquer, then atone
But when it’s clear you’ve finally grown
I hope you hightail it back to home.

As for me, I’ll still be here
Distracted from this daily care
Strangely brave about old fear,
Skipping sidewards, holding dear.

You can tell me I am wasting time
But don’t forget the time is mine
And if I forget to toe the line,
Well…all I can say is: “Fine!”

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ok Already: Meet the Family

I loved all the comments I received about the post I pulled to protect my image (smile). However, one will stay with me for years. I will print it and keep in front of me for a reminder to be myself, always and fully.
Before you meet the critters that inhabit my space, take a look at this gift from my friend Pieterbie. It's a huge important message to me, certainly, but maybe to you too....
Comment from Pieterbie when kj retracted her post:
Oh come on.Since when does a strong minded woman like you give a s... (sorry 'bout that) about what other people may dare to think of you?Surely you cannot believe that I would take this post serious.Now the one with the furry animals, that one I took seriously.That was real. Feelings, emotions, sharing someting very personal.Wel congrats KJ, I admire you for having the guts do to such a thing.And of course I read it, of course I commented, I thought it was great.Much better than what you have posted here now, making me react in such a manner.So you are scared that people may think that you are excentric. Why does that scare you? What is wrong with excentric?I come here to read real stuff posted from the core, heart, mind, no, soul of the real KJ.So please do not give me any "Have a nice day" stuff.I want the real KJ and I won't settle for less.At least you have some furry animals, a mouse (what was his name again, the one with the rat's tail, was it Cedric?), a boozing witch, hell all sounds like great fun to me. And it all makes perfect sense.And if you are unstable, then I must me completely lost.Your number one fan awaits the next worthwhile post.Not that I want to pressure you, of course, but expectations are expectations.Have a nice day!
And now the post that was, wasn't, and is again:
I happen to live with someone who has a vast imagination, including an unusual array of friends and relatives. It took me a while to get use to the many "characters" who inhabit my household and/or immediate surroundings, but I've gotten to know most of them because they have names. And let's face it--once you name something, you have a connection that would not otherwise be there.

So this Thursday I am introducing some (not all, believe it or not) members of the family. Please treat me kindly if you find yourself shaking your head and/or questioning my sanity. I can only tell you this begins to feel more normal over time:
1. This is Cecil. When Ces gave Cecil to JB,he did not have a name. She did this because JB and I were battling mice in our kitchen for a while and Ces was unmercifully enjoying our animated reactions to the whole thing. As soon as she handed JB this mouse, he became Cecil. He sits in a prominent spot where guests come in and comment on how cute he is. Except he has a tail that, according to JB, appears to be more the tail of a rat, not a mouse.
2. This is Frank and Birdie. Frank is a miniature dinosaur who appeared in JB's Christmas stocking one year and has been around ever since. Birdie, probably an illegal immigrant from France, used to chirp like an angel until she lost her voice for unknown reasons. Frank and Birdie are also in prominent locations.
3. This is a new addition. One morning I found these "bunnies" all tucked into a corner. Soon I am going to discreetly put them away somewhere when JB is not looking. The little yellow one with the white ears, by the way, was JB's childhood Easter bunny.
4. Esther and her charge Mildred are well known. Despite my complaints, they have sat on our couch in the four places we've lived. Esther hands out Halloween candy to little kids and has been known to drink too much on occasion. I know this because we once found her upside down on the staircase. We have cautioned her not to drink and fly. However, like Emily Rabbit, she doesn't listen to us one bit.
5. All I can tell you about Picasso is that shortly after his arrival JB put him under the bed covers. When I innocently pulled the covers back to go to bed, he scared the holy hell out of me. I screamed. I thought a real monkey was in my bed. I almost fainted. I was mad at JB for days. She tried to act apologetic but I know she enjoyed the whole mean episode.

6. and 7. Francine and Dolly are both in our little dining area. I brought Francine home with me from Santa Fe and her fame and popularity increased after she was highlighted in one of Ces' fantastic paintings. Francine is very sweet and I am very fond of her.
My mother gave me Dolly as a Christmas present one year. She lights up when you plug her in. JB regularly puts seasonal scarfs, bows, and/or hats on her. Sometimes I rub her neck, which is a vivid reminder that I have indeed lost my senses.

8. Little Irene: She is my dearest favorite. I used to take Irene with me to conferences and sometimes keep her in my suit pocket, where her little head would gently peek out. She has traveled with JB and I on dozens of trips. She is now in the Magic Cottage and from this photograph, she looks like she is happy there.

9. I don't know either one of these acquaintances of JB's. They are also in the Magic Cottage and have never given me the time of day, so I just ignored them.

10. This photo does not do justice to Gisselle. She is the sweetest and most fashionable giraffe. She travels with us sometimes also. Once during a very difficult trip to Tucson Arizona, we left her in the bed when we checked out of our motel room. We felt terrible, horrible. When we got back to New England, we phoned the motel and asked housekeeping to look for her. Several days later, a package arrived at our back door with Gisselle lovingly and comfortably tucked into a little bed made of tissue paper. Obviously, whoever found her and sent her back understood the importance of loving relationships.....

11. This is Alfred. I don't know him either but I do know he and JB are very close.








12. This bird arrived in JB's Christmas stocking this year and is now clipped onto one of the living room table lamps. JB was very surprised that Ces , with her ever enthusiastic and classy eye did not notice it, and another bird on a second matching lamp.

13. Oh dear God: it is my plight in life to have to endure multiple lizards. This very large "family" of lizards is currently on the bench just outside the Magic Cottage. I do not want them in the house, ever. In winter, snow covers their bodies and I have to look at their scaly heads.

And as an extra finale: for some unknown reason, Cecil has made his way off the table to the floor and has turned his back on the comings and goings of the household. I'm sure this is temporary, but I'm wondering what he's thinking about, and why.....

Yes, I know: I'm officially certifiable.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Not Much

My well of words is mostly dry right now.
A few days ago I prepared a briefly-posted Thursday 13 on all the little critters and stuffed animals that co-exist with JB and Stella and me, but upon further examination and some well regarded feedback from two of my favorite people, I pulled it to avoid the possibility of being, well, ahem, hmmm, eccentric. Flaky. Juvenile. Ok, and possibly unstable. I don't mind approaching the edge of controversy and/or revelation, but, afterall, I'd like to be viewed as somewhat mature and emotionally intact, at least some of the time.
Some realities in one's inner world are best left there. It's enough I've already introduced Emily Rabbit, Francine the Giraffe, and Esther and Mildred the Witches.
It's a slippery slope--this business of writing real and true without opening your raincoat wide and wider. So unless impulse wins out at some later date, don't expect to meet Dolly, Frank, Birdie, Picasso, Irene (stop! that's enough, kj!)

Instead, today I am just going to say hello, best wishes, and thank you for your visits and support. My blogging friends are very precious and important to me. Your comments and support help me as a person and a writer more than I could ever express. !

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Brief Poem

Oooooh, sometimes I think I'm so clever.....

The Teacher

I’m looking for the universal
Under the butter dish
Because if it can’t hide under there
It doesn’t deserve counter space

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I am soon approaching the one year anniversary of "my writing career". It has taken its own form and shape without much guidance or structure from me. I'm surprised at that because I've let it meander along without worrying too much about goals.
But I have been writing. I effortlessly love writing poems. I've shockingly finished the first draft of a novel, and I've completed a self-help book on changing careers that I hope will find its way to an interested publisher. I excite myself by imagining I will one day walk into a book store and say, "Ohmygod, there's my book".
And timidly waiting in the wings, hiding inside my file cabinet, barely able to breathe on its own, is my first true love: the still untitled book about Who's Happy and Who Isn't and Why and Why Not.
Why am I saying all this? Because after the poems and the novel and the self-help books, I'm also being courted by the Short Story. Indeed, the story of Izzy and Casey--these two characters I totally love who are telling their story with such glee-- is such a joy to write I can hardly contain it to my weekly writing group, where it was born, prefers to develop, and wants to keep to itself for a while longer.
So what's the point? (Jeez).'s a new short story. If you have the time or inclination, I'd welcome the feedback.......


She walked to the front window specifically to watch the rain moving down in an aggressive straight line, until each strand hit the middle pane and vanished abruptly.
“Isn’t that what’s happened to me? ”, she asked out loud, surprised that given her present state she would make any connection at all, let alone one that started with the physical world of her front yard and ended with her current internal landscape, which as of Tuesday was bleak.
She took a chance and lost. She couldn’t say she didn’t know what she was doing from the first moment, when she put aside the little toothpicks that so fiercely though ineffectively had guarded her heart since this smooth as olive oil guy, Matt, had walked out on her one Saturday morning at 11:43 am. She knew this because she looked at the time of his email before she read his sorry lines that told her, the way all cowardly bastards always do, that she was wonderful and perfect and beautiful and intelligent, that the problem was of course him, that for certain some other guy would come along and see her for the precious irresistible woman she obviously was.

That was three years ago. It took her two of those years to stop crying without provocation, and several months after that to finally take down all the pictures and dispose of all the letters. Her friend Amy told her she had wasted too much time lamenting this jerk of a guy, but she didn’t see it that way. In her mind, she had cautiously, and guardedly, and hopefully, and only then appropriately, opened wide her proverbial London Fog raincoat to let herself believe again. She had not been sloppy or desperate any more this time than that other time. For her, believing was based on two precepts she held dear: the first, she would trust she would not be intentionally harmed; and the second, even if she was wrong about the first, loving someone was worth it. After the fact she knew that had been a mistake, loving a certain someone may be worth it, but if that certain someone doesn’t see it the same way you do, you’re bound to end up like that strand of rain, abruptly hitting the middle pane.
“What’s the alternative?” she kept asking herself all those months, and even now. It was a bitter question. She thought about her sister Claudia. What made things so different for her? Claudia made the same bad choices, the proof of that pudding being that she was currently languishing in a married man affair now in its seventh year. She could not keep up with the number of holidays she had phoned Claudia only to find her alone, waiting for the squeezed in call or quick secret appearance by this man who had succeeded in keeping her sister’s entire life on hold, with parenthesis before and after any decision that involved Claudia’s life without him. Once she calculated that in any given month, her sister had the benefit of her heart’s desire maybe—maybe mind you—5 to 10 percent of her entire life.
And yet Claudia seemed happy. One night after two bottles of Chardonnay she asked her how that could be.

Even with her charming slurred speech, Claudia answered quickly:
“First of all, I love him. I am alive when I am with him like no other time in my entire life. Second of all, I am devoted to him. That means I am willing to put him first, even if it means I suffer a lot of the time. I like devotion. I think it’s a good quality”.
She stood at the window. The rain was relentless. It was coming with such a ferocity she wondered how the impatiens and zinnias managed to keep their wits about them, not to mention their buds and blooms. She thought about devotion. Then, abruptly, she folded the morning paper and poured her coffee just before she sat down in her zebra covered wing chair, nestled her head deep into the aqua pillow, and dreamed about flying.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Thursday 13: Another Mish-Mash

It's officially summer. I love that. I am landscaping my yard, writing, pushing myself to cook at home more often (versus going to my favorite restaurants), and, with what is now, I believe, a permanent fact, letting deep love wash over me, even if it means I cry sometimes.
In no order, here's this week's Thursday 13:
1. I may have sold my book on Good Work! It seems I may have a publisher with an interest to work with me, better identify the marketing niche it will need, and hopefully provide a $$ advance and publishing contract.
2. If not, I am still uplifted and psyched by their interest. I'm someone who can sail far with alittle encouragement.
3. Related to # 2, I love compliments. If it's true you give what you want, I hope I make a good effort to communicate my appreciation to the people in my life.
4. Last year JB & I got a quote in the thousand's to landscape the yard. We signed the contract with the agreement that we could back out if the references and finished yards weren't what we expected. Ohmygod!--we looked at a few yards this "expert" had completed and we hated each one--plants and shubs too small for the size of the house, and boring same-old-same-old selections. So we got our deposit back decided I would do the landscaping myself. For me, it's probably a 3 year project, but I am loving it.
5. I am ready to send out query letters for the first draft of the novel I completed last November for the National Novel Writing Month Contest. And I am totally in love with the short story about "Casey" and "Izzy", entitled "Flight of the Heart: The Sob Story of Two Soulmates who Find Eachother at the Worse Possible Time.
6. I lie on Stella's dog bed with her sometimes late at night. Last week I fell asleep holding her paw and several hours later I awoke with a start, thinking I was holding someone's hand. In my sleepened state, when I realized it was a paw and not a person, I jumped a mile.
7. Mr. Ryan is now five months old. He smiles when he sees JB and me and our hearts tritely jump for joy. I didn't know what I wanted him to call me--I really don't like grandma or granny etc, so I started calling myself No-Name. At first Jessica shook her head pathetically, but it just might stick--that is, whatever Ryan's pronounciation of "No-Name" will be.
8. We'll soon find out if our house can effectively accomodate plenty of company this summer. Both JB and I want to welcome and enjoy guests without feeling that we have to be Grand Hostesses.
9. With all its farms, this part of the world grows and specializes in asparagus, and this is harvest time. I've never tasted asparagus like this before--with a little cream dill sauce, it is just awesome.
10. I'm finding myself with friends of all ages, ranging from 22 (Nicole!) to 83 (Aunt Theresa). I like this alot. And I am the beneficiary of a terrific best friend (Ces) who keeps me laughing, hopping, trusting, and settling in for life. Thank you, Universe.
11. We are having an art fair in our yard this summer. Anyone who wants can make or bring whatever they want and show it off, sell it, etc. As for me, I plan to read tarot cards for $ 5 a shot. Then I will spend the money I make to shop at the art fair.
12. A joke: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb?
Answer: Just one, but the lightbulb has really got to want to change. ( hahaha)
13. I am reading Eat Pray Love aloud with JB and we have just begun the Ashram/India section. I realize, with great surprise, that I would like to go to an ashram in India for 3 months or more. I used to meditate and chant at one near Boston. Although I tended to reject the "groupie" nature and orange dots and robes, I found wonderful peace inside myself every time I went. So if saying my desire outloud is the beginning of experiencing it, I might be ready for destiny to take the wheel....

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A Walk in the Park

"The resting place of the mind is the heart. The only thing the mind hears all day
is clanging bells and noise and argument, and all it wants is quietude. The
only place the mind will ever find peace is inside the silence of the heart.
That's where you need to go."
From eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I try every day to take Stella for a walk in the park. I do this because walking helps her orthopedic medical condition and because although she does not ask, she loves this time and she has had too little of it in her tough life before us. Most days we complete the mile and a quarter that circles the park area. Our routine is predictable even though the weather is not. I often complain I do not have time for this walk, but whenever I do it--which is 4 or 5 times a week, my knots loosen.

The park in literally in our back yard. We walk out our back gate and there we are. I let Stella stay off-leash while we pass the park administration building and walk along the back side of the first little lake.

We never encounter anyone else until we pass a clearing and hit the main road, where the ranger station is. So for these few minutes we could just as well be in paradise. Once I saw a magestic crane and today I saw these azaleas and rhododendrons. I take all of this in but I am also introspective and sometimes sad when I make this walk. I tend to think not about being lonely but being alone. Nature does that to me--I recognize my place in the world and sometimes I feel very small and lost. But not always. Other times I am contently connected and I feel nothing but great hope and anticipation. I mention this because I am convinced most of us experience this duality: sometimes we're fine, and other times we're not, and our circumstance and situation may or may not play a role in that.

We cross the road into the official park. This little hill you see is not always so little (for me) walking down it or up it. I'm aware I've had back surgery as I tighten my stomach muscles and try to make it look easy. Stella breezes through it. She knows she is going to get her full walk at this point, and she is thrilled.

This is a model park. It has seluded picnic areas, many along a brook; a silly water park that 4 and 5 years old giggle non-stop over; a kiddie train with caboose that circles the park and toots its horn generously; the smallest zoo with chickens and sheep and 2 deer and birds I have yet to visit; pedal boats for use in the smallest lake; an open air chapel on the second lake that anybody can use; free firewood and pushcarts for families to set up their camps and picnics; a beautiful little foot path that follows a brook with many ducks and once a swan.

I know I am very lucky to have this park in my back yard. It was not a factor when we impulsively made an offer on the house we live in. When I walk out the door with Stella, I carry my cell phone and either my moleskine or my camera, never both. I rarely walk quickly--my style in general is to look around and that's what I do. I stop at benches along the way and write or doodle, I call Ces or Jessica or sometimes I return a call or two from my envelope to-do list.

And I think. And feel. Often I talk outloud to myself. A passer-by would think I was chatting with Stella, and sometimes I use her as the sounding board for my words, but I am singularly thinking and feeling. I am an aspiring writer--I believe I will be successful at it--I have a precious family and wonderful friends; I am currently not obliged to earn money as I create my transition to the writing life. I am safe and secure and I know it.

So I can't tell you why I can be brought to tears when I look at these towering trees, including this sweet sanctuary tucked among them, or why I am so aware that sometimes I am feeling good and sometimes I'm not. The truth is I want my life to flow--to move from one moment to another in seamless acceptance. I achieve that about a third of the time.

I talk to this tree. I think you perhaps can see why: the tree kind of talks back.

This is just the new growth of a pine tree. All is well in that world.

And this is the little lake where you can rent a pedal boat and pretend you are peacefully floating up or down stream. I sit along this lake often when I write. I look across to the chapel where today, in the rain, a wedding is taking place. I'm a sap for beginnings: I can easily visualize when most important events have occurred in my life, and I recall and savor them as each season passes.

These photos don't show it, but Stella and I encountered quite a downpour. We were both soaked. (I didn't care. ) JB called my cell and asked if I wanted a ride home. Not even. Instead she had towels at the back door ready for both of us.

To keep dry, I sat in this little alcove for quite a while and talked to Ces. I rarely enjoy long stints on the phone, but she is the exception. Outside of cyberspace, she is as special and interesting as her blog.

And then Stella and I headed back the way we came, until we found ourselves looking at the back yard.

I look at the Magic Cottage and the hammock and the plants I added yesterday. Because of that my back hurts plus I am surprised I have not yet earned $ from writing and I have all this weight to lose and .....I will myself to stop this negative tap dance I do. I think about the people I love and the blessings I have. I can't control my periodic confusion--it's there for sure, and I think it's important--but for now I walk through the back door to that waiting blue towel and I say "Thank you".

Saturday, June 02, 2007

25 Years Later........

Happy Birthday to my spunky, talented,
intelligent, fascinating, tender, amazing
dearest friend.