Friday, May 19, 2023

Thoughts on Taylor Swift

 I’m definitely not an average fan. I ‘discovered’ Taylor Swift and her music not even a year ago, and besides that, I’m seventy-five. You won’t find me climbing up to Section H, Row 32 in any stadium. But I’m a writer, I love words that rhyme, and I like music. I’m also a counselor who senses that Taylor Swift is a nice person. At this point, I still don’t know which of her song titles go with which of her songs, but I’m learning. Her talent is amazing. It’s obvious that her sexy moves and glittered leotards are just window dressing for her incredible, multiple talents. Her song writing, her story telling, her catchy musicality, her stage presence, her physical movements, her connection with her fans—each of these are skill sets, and they’re extraordinary.

        That Taylor Swift is thirty-three years old with a seventeen year career is an incredible achievement. That she is filling 70,000 person stadiums night after night, presenting a forty-five song, three hour concert, on stage constantly moving and emoting and singing, without a break, is ground-breaking enough. The reviews I read and the video clips I see have catapulted her fifty-two city Eras Tour into a generational once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. Taylor Swift has released over two hundred songs and her legion of fans know the sing-along words to all of them. 

            I should add that her phrases and images are also extraordinary: ‘They told me all my cages were mental/So I got wasted like all my potential…,’ ‘They say all’s well that ends well, but I’m in a new hell every time you double cross my mind…,From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes…,’You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath…,’ ‘You call me again just to break me like a promise…,’And if I get burned, at least we were electrified…”Cuz there were pages turned with the bridges burned, Everything you lose is a step you take…’


            These are words from an observer and a participant in life; from someone who knows how to frame and share images that we all understand.


 The Eras tour began with Taylor Swift snugly in her almost seven year relationship with Joe Alwyn, or so it seemed. For all that time, this couple kept their private life and relationship private, a remarkable feat for the performer of the Century (Century, not decade.) The breakup, announced on the opening night of her filled stadium in Tampa, was a shock to Taylor’s fans, who were quickly concerned about how she was doing. With a thumbs up from the stage, she made it clear she’s doing fine. Word has it that 'Taylor and Joe' actually decide to move on in February, and she’s looking forward to being more open in her personal life and relationships. She’s confirmed this so far by hanging out publicly with friends in New York City, more than once, and, as of two weeks ago, enter the rocker, Matty Healy.

            I don’t know any diehard Taylor Swift fans to check with, so I only have my own opinion, but only three months after ending a seven year partnership, and dealing with all the emotional feelings and fallout in leaving someone you truly loved, and jumping quickly into another relationship, isn’t usually the healthiest or smartest thing to do. Surely Taylor Swift knows this, because she’s smart and introspective and observational. Yes? So, what’s going on?

            Certainly, I have no idea. I have no agency into the private life of Taylor Swift. But do I think there’s some cause for concern? I’d say yes to that. It doesn’t help that the press and paparazzi are all over the Taylor-Matty story. There’s good evidence that she’s keeping herself pretty busy. That’s often a good coping tool to get through a break up. But also, major life changes need time to percolate. Even when a breakup is mutual or expected or healthy, all kinds of feelings come with it: attachment/abandonment issues, loss, old wounds, triggering  memories, outdated beliefs, old and new fears. A sudden jump into ‘dating’ again, and especially intimate dating, doesn’t allow time to process all this, and a guy who by all reports has been a ‘bad boy,’ who’s publicly made racist and homophobic statements, seems, well, a surprising choice. My guess is many (most?) of Taylor’s fans expected (hoped?) to witness a strong, amazingly talented woman rebuild her life as now-single and independent, with determined courage to move forward, on her own. 

            It’s so presumptuous of me to question the decisions of a woman I have never met, and whose relationships I know nothing about. So why am I writing this? Honestly, probably because, for what it’s worth, I have (unsolicited!) advice. I’m holding up a flashing yellow slow-it-down light. It’s my experience talking, just in case.  Don’t rush, Taylor Swift. Take your time, alone, and with your family and friends. Have fun. Breathe. Feel. 

            But don’t let passion drive you, not yet. 


Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Refining JOY


Lately I’ve been thinking about joy. I chose this card to enclose in our Christmas cards last year, because the unsettled times seemed to call for a reminder of how much joy matters.

But I’ve been rethinking this advice. It’s not that joy doesn’t matter–it matters a boatload, but let’s face it: it’s increasingly hard to hold on to joy when there are so many worries and crisises all around us. The climate is bringing devastating floods and high winds everywhere; a political breakdown still allows automatic guns and mass murders; our schools and movie theaters and churches and shopping malls and get-togethers no longer feel safe. This is real stuff. 

I’m not an alarmist or a pessimist. I truly believe that positive energy and happy connections with ourselves and others promote a joy that is our human right. But I’ve come to  believe that an emphasis on joy, contentment, self-satisfaction–without acknowledging what happening around us, doesn’t work. I think it’s time to say that out loud. 

Joy lives in the little things: gatherings with family and friends, a job well done, the scent of garlic on your fingers, the sound of rain on the roof, the excitement of a blossoming garden, the passion of romance, the pride of recognition, the feeling kindness brings to the giver and recipient. 

But these days, I think it’s a mistake to pursue ‘joy’ as if it’s achievable without coming to terms with the many factors that aren’t joyful at all. Yes, it’s painful to watch the evening news. Yes, we’re in a major climate crisis. Yes, women’s rights are threatened. Yes, our kids aren’t safe in school. Yes, our government has broken down. Yes, our country and world have huge problems. 

And yes, of course joy matters. My point is this: I don’t think most of us are going to be successful if we don’t also acknowledge that there’s a  canope of anxiety over us these days. The anxiety is real, and there are real reasons for it. I think it helps to recognize that. 

So, I offer some unsolicited advice: be realistic. Cherish your life and the people you love, practice gratitude, and snatch and welcome joy whenever and wherever you find it. But also, these days, be extra gentle with yourself and your hopes. These aren’t easy times. Don’t let anyone mislead you about that, or tell you that the ‘canope of anxiety’ isn’t real. No sing-songy messages are going to change that until we humans collectively change what’s happening around us. I just think it’s healthy and helpful to know that…..

Friday, October 14, 2022


OMG I finally have a new Apple MacAir and already my inferior computer skills have become so much easier. This includes being able to post photos on my Blog without Herculean effort. 

Here's home: where I'm nesting these days. It's a beautiful place to be inside and out. Our house isn't fancy but it's comfortable and welcoming. I spend a lot of time looking on this scene, from the couch, often writing. It's a big deal that I've added Microsoft Word to my laptop. It's been a foolish disadvantage I saddled myself with since every agent and publisher wants manuscripts and queries and everything in Word. So now I can stop worrying about how a document or file will look when I export it. Not to say that I know what I'm doing even on Word, but I'll learn. I'm motivated. 

The time of day and the tides here in Provincetown determine the light of scenes like these. I'm amazed every time. The third shot is just outside my front door. Sunset. 

In two weeks there will be mid-term elections in the United States. It's horrifying to think that people who lied and still lie about our Presidential election still have a following--and a violent following at that. It's a troubled time in the world. I don't know if I can even write about it. I keep thinking that too many people don't understand what it actually means if Democracy fails. 

This glittering scene is one block from our house. It's hard to feel anything but grateful when I pass by this. I'm an optimist. I hope reality doesn't force me to reconsider. Already I'm no longer a loyal fan of  the human race.

 And finally today, this little tree in the front porch is my reminder that the holidays will soon begin. I'm all over that! For some reason I'm far more creative during the Christmas season. I draw more; I search for interesting presents; JB and I bake and decorate our almost-famous sugar cookies. And we have little get-togethers and pot-lucks. This time of year, I do my best to offer some much needed cheer. 

Monday, October 10, 2022


His name is changed but this is a true story. I was a psychotherapist some years back and I could tell you a hundred stories like this. 

The spacing didn't turn out correctly on this post but for some reason it's right as it is. 

 Davoni never answered. No matter what I asked him, he grinned and shrugged. “I don’t know,” he always 

said. This was his response when I asked him if he missed his mother, when I  asked him how he felt when his 

foster mother told him that she didn’t want him anymore, what he thought when the new foster family shaved his 

head and he had to he start a new school in a new home. I told Davoni that I would pay myself  a nickel every 

time he said “I don’t know.” and I’d soon be rich.  “Oh another nickel—that’s fifteen cents so far today!”  I joked

and and we laughed together, the way we sometime laughed for no reason when we walked to the little room 

holding hands and  tickling each other’s palms. He’s only six and he’s been in three foster homes so far. 

Davani only cried twice in front of me, once on the last day of kindergarten, when two of  his teachers kept showing him his special music award and told him how great he sang.. But later, in the school library room where we sometimes met, when I  asked him about the award and, he began  to cry and couldn’t stop. Finally he sobbed, “It should have been in spelling, not music. I didn’t try in music.” 

Last week he cried like that again, this time because he scratched another kid in his afterschool program and was suspended for five days. The teacher aide told me he cried so hard he couldn’t talk. She said he seemed like a good child, and smart; that she understands that he is in  a new school with new teachers and a new foster family, new faces, new  rooms, new rules. “But,” she said, he had to be punished. She also said he’s falling asleep in class.
“Do you sleep okay in your new room?” I asked him.
“I dunno,” he said.
            “Oh! Another nickel!” He laughed. We laughed. 
“Devoni,” I put my hands on his head and rubbed  his stub of hair. “About scratching that kid at afterschool, I can teach you how to use your words instead of your hands. I think that will help a lot, what do you think?” 
He looked up.“ I dunno.” He smiled and  paused. “Yes,” he said.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Betty Bird

 This is Betty Bird, made by my partner JB from a piece of driftwood and embellished to her heart's content. JB is finally realizing her passion and dream as an Artist. She's in a local gallery and she's as happy as a clam. 

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Time to Chill


Hello from Sebago Lake in Maine. JB and I are here on a five day mini-escape from chores and obligations. Life is finally settling down after months of unexpected and important demands. During that time, I've done nothing to promote either of my already published books and instead, I've started a new one!  I've already shared a couple of chapters of our pre-Covid Road Trip across America, but as of today, I've finished a draft one run-through and I'm beginning to edit. But the really fun part comes when I start  adding photos. This will be a different kind of book for me; the pictures alone will make it different. But it's also personal, almost a memoir, and sometimes it's hard to know what to include and what to leave out. Other people and their feelings and reactions to my descriptions of them matter, but so does the honesty of my writing. And once something's in print, there it is--so I want to be extra careful about boundaries. 

None of this is easy for me. My computer skills are lacking. Even the most basic formatting--setting up margins and indentations and paragraphs--is often too confusing, and sometimes I end up messing up what I already have.

But, aside from legitimate guilt in not promoting my existing books, this process of new writing is such a joy for me. I can tell that my writing has gotten tighter and more descriptive, all good, but I'm never sure whether anything I write is good enough. I know that's common and I know that's not a reason to avoid writing. 

So here it is, fall in New England. I am currently looking out onto a vast shimmering calming lake. Around me I have my manuscript and laptop and colored pencils and a moleskin and a coloring project I just might finally finish. All good ways to spend a few days creating. Because we're on an island, JB and I have stocked up on interesting food and treats. Mattie is with us and where we are is isolated and private and beautiful. No TV, no heat. No demands! 

I'm aware that this kind of 'escape' is essential from time to time. Otherwise my head fills up and my body gets depleted and I explode. Last week I got so frustrated over nothing important that I threw a coffee box and then a paper bag across the kitchen. That sounds ridiculous and harmless enough, right?--but I was mad and actually out of control. Too many problems that needed fixing were piling up and I reacted. Lucky that I didn't throw a plate or a bowl. I could have. So I'm aware that anger is too close to the surface for me, and I'm at least smart enough to know I have to break that cycle.

So here I am at Sebago Lake. It's been a brilliant decision. I wholeheartedly recommend a change of pace and a change of scenery from time to time. Especially now, with so many political and moral challenges adding to the human pot. 

More to come about the road trip book. I'm excited to have the first go-round done!

Thanks always for stopping by. 

love kj

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Two Homes

I currently live in Provincetown, at the very tip of Massachusetts, where the bay and ocean is barely a block from home. Before that, for more than a decade, JB and I lived in Western Massachusetts, in farm country that also had the benefit and vibe of six local colleges. 

I don't think I'll have to tell you which photo is from which location. What I will say is that the Universe has blessed me with wonderful homes. I love having the sea a part of my daily life--JB and I check the tides every day--and at the same time I miss the farm stand that was barely a mile from our house, where we bought just picked strawberries and just picked peaches and just picked corn on the cob, all of this following the rhythm of the farm seasons. 

My life here is Provincetown is a new chapter for me. I've 'retired' from my paid consulting work, although my 'volunteer' schedule is still pretty busy. I have the skills to help people get through tough times, and I can't (yet) justify not jumping in to help when the need is right in front of me. In any case, 'retired' isn't the right word. I write now: I've published two books and am working on two, maybe three more. I garden, sometimes I cook and bake, I have more local friends than ever before in my life, and I have a precious family--my Jessica and her husband and four awesome kids, and our extended family, and JB, my loved and loving partner of how long is it?--37 years? 

Here are some random photos of my life in both places. You'll know which is where.