Friday, September 28, 2007


Last night I found myself in a meditation room with a counselor-type woman who speaks to spirit guides.

Ok, if I''ve lost your attention, I understand. But when she explained the differences between acceptance and choice, she got my attention. Then when she said the following sentence, I understood in the clearest way that I can and must accept reality and yet I still get to and must choose what to do about it.

Here's the sentence. It starts with acceptance and ends with choice. It's possible it might be the answer to every question:

Given what is,
What am I to do?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday 13: A Brief Mish-Mash

How brief can I be? Let's see:

1. Autumn: Less garden more ground.
2. Dearest friend who performs magic on simple card. 3. Bulletin:Europe less uptight about sex than America. 4. kj finally lays brick border, back predictably gets pissed off. 5. Annual lottery in Provincetown for solitude week in a no-ammenities dune shack. 6. Mister Ryan does Easter Bunny, both smaller than ever
7. kj awards Inspirational Award to.Melissa and Joy Elizabeth. Both totally highly deserving.
8. Old photo, kj's Mom second from right.
9. Companion Stella does the Mass. Turnpike. 10. kj wants flag symbol to be non-political.
11. kj attends weekly auction and bids $ 10 for miscellaneous glass.
12. Beach-walk is beautiful.
13. Haiti: pride trumps poverty.
Hey! Friends! How about an occasional Thursday 13 of your own?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Take a Guess

It’s a shimmer alright
Right into the light—
This by day,
That by night.
It shakes and glows
Slithers and sows,
Flickers and flashes
Straight down to my toes.

Do you think it’s fame?
A beast to tame?
Something foreign?
Or more of the same?
No! No! It’s none thereof,
Not a diamond or golden glove
Not a treasure or cooing dove
It’s just old fashioned gooey love!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Well, it was probably inevitable. It's time for me to get back to work.
I realized this last weekend while jb and I were in the midst of a tour of local artists, their studios, and their gardens. We visited 8 homes and studios and I found myself thinking, "Gee, some of these folks could use help. I should contact the Art Center and Community Assistance Program and offer some workshops in self employment or working as an artist." And then, "Gee, I wonder if I should set up a business of my own again?"
I have a tendency to get in too deep too fast. I promised myself I would not do that when jb and I moved here, and I've pretty much kept that promise by sticking to writing. Now I know I am a writer and will always write. But it's time to shop around the career book I've finished--publish it myself if I have to--and maybe it's time for me to revisit the always present initial terror of offering self-help workshops.
So.....Today I took my first step. I've opened a website/blog called "CAREERS". I'll include some exerpts from my book, answer some questions about life and career choice, and MAYBE set up a telephone counseling service where I can work with people from all walks of life. (MAYBE).
Of course, Ces had to help me set up the new site. Its address is CAREERS. Stop by if you'd like. I don't know where this is heading but like anything else, saying it outloud is the beginning of experiencing it.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I wrote this some time ago. I've edited it only slightly, leaving out all the continuing internal changes within me that have occurred since. Still, the bulk of these words hold true.
It’s easy to be a little or a lot defensive about getting older because increasing age bubbles up any combination of real or imagined insecurities,vulnerabilities, reductions in dreams, agility, or power. These things may be true or not—I really can’t tell you yet. Currently I’m into unknown and unsteady ground after a few medical breakdowns like I’ve never had before and a soft but definite edge that makes me aware of my age. In the last year I’ve noticed that I sometimes feel less comfortable around 30 year olds than 60 year olds, but that’s not entirely true either. I also notice that in general I tend to feel more myself, less likely to jump at offense, and more hopeful and earnest about my plans and life ahead.
When I was 30, I believed I could achieve anything—anything—I wanted, short of a career in brain surgery. Then I had not yet had my heart truly broken apart, or fully known what it means to love a daughter so much you would chase a bullet down for her. I had not witnessed my precious business rising and falling and rising again, leaving me with special skills and certain experience that has served me well every day of my life. Then my energy and confidence pushed my creavity and drive. I was prominent in my field, charmingly likeable, and I combined that with articulate passion and practiced humility that kept me at the top of my game. My game? Odd language for a congruent life, but I didn’t know that.
Then I also drank too much and didn’t know when I was or wasn’t truly present. Not like I know now. Today, if I sit across from you, I will make a full effort to be with you 100%. And if I don’t have that to give, I will more often than not elect to simply do what I can do, not trying to fool you into believing otherwise, accepting that about myself instead of judging or feeling deficit.
For large chunks of my life, I’ve been ambivalent. When you’re not sure where you want to head, or are heading, or whether you even deserve to head anywhere, you can fall short simply because you don’t know what better or best is. By most standards I have been very fortunate. In life and in work, I’ve been treated by others with kindness and high regard. My opinion has usually mattered, and I’ve been able to operate as a maverick and innovator in some very stoggy environments.
I’ve worked hard at being a good parent, rarely failing to point out that flowers can dance, money skills are underrated, and honesty and tears make you stronger in the broken places (thank you Ernest Hemingway). I look at my daughter and think about the son she will raise and I am 100% confident that these are people who will heal, not hurt, the world they live in.
I know it means something to be older, but I can’t tell you what. I don’t like thinking I will only have 30 or so springs left—if I’m lucky—and I don’t like feeling like a physical train wreck recovering from back surgery. But---I know I’m a pretty good person. Honest to God. When I find myself judging anything or everything, I wonder if I’m falling short, but when I’m just here with my hopes and home, I see that I’m choosing kindness, trying to write, and avoiding confrontation so much more than ever before. I’m trusting in every way that I’ll be ok, and I’m balancing some time to stop and do whatever in the hope of resurfacing replenished, fresh, open. .

There are people of all ages in my life and I like that. My friends tend to be abit younger than I but still beginning the second half of life. Jessica is 29 and jb and I really like when we spend time with her friends. They seem to have the same genuine interest in us that we have in them. And some of the incredible writers and artists I’ve worked with, and talents and folks on the blogs are in their late 20’s/early 30’s . I don’t communicate with the same swagger I would if I were closer to their age. I don’t know if that’s because it’s not who I am now, or if it’s because they do not accord me the same status. In Oprah last month—the only time I have read her magazine in probably 5 years, someone said “When you’re young you learn. When you’re older, you understand”. I understand that….

I am secure ways that eluded me in my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. . I don’t have a lot of friends: one uniquely special soulmate and maybe 4 or 5 others that I would/could/hope I would/could turn to if/when it all fell apart. But the friends I have I trust. I have jb. And I have Jess. I’ve learned to love beyond my ego’s pushiness. I don’t see myself ever purposely or consciously doing anything that would hurt someone else, often I don’t struggle to put myself first, and I’m amazed at how easy that choice has become. I’m a better person for it.. The more practice I get at being kind, the more I’m learning how to live with less effort and more zeal.
My thoughts today: "Not bad for a woman still quietly confused, still overtaken by love, and still showing up".

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Lesson of the Five Balls

Hidden in a sappy novel by James Patterson called Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, a story of a young mother with cardiac trouble, lies a gem called the Lesson of the Five Balls.
The five balls pretty much sum up what’s important in life.
Four of the balls are made of glass. They are breakable. But the fifth ball is made of rubber.
Work is flexible. It can rebound. But this is not always true of your family. Or your friends. Or your health or your integrity. These balls must be handled carefully and gently.
But work? Work is a rubber ball.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Room of One's Own

It's just a small corner of the cellar, make shifted in front of the boxes of Christmas decorations. I vacuumed up all the spider eggs, put down a who-cares rug, and set up a who-cares table. I'm ready to paint again.
My intentions got lost last winter. This year, I hope I will sometimes mosey downstairs on quiet nights and paint wood. Birdhouses where wacky people reside, boxes that can hide secret treasures, and abandoned magazine racks and candle holders whispering stories from the past. In wild bright colors. Some with polka dots.
Meanwhile, upstairs, down the hall, in the wing, I write.
And perhaps too, out the door, somewhere yet unknown, I return to my job-work.
It's a life with patterns not yet established, habits not yet formed. It's all I have. Some days I wake up and know exactly what I will and must do and other days I fall into it all. Would I be better off if my directions were written out for me, handed to me by a fair but strict universe in 1-2-3 steps I would then follow and be done with it?
No, not me. I have loosely pieced together this life of mine for years now. Perhaps I should be richer, or wiser, or more grounded by now. Perhaps, but I kind of like it this way.
So when I begin to sit at the little table in the corner past the cellar stairs, I'll let myself know how the wood smells and whether the colors match as I hope. Until then, well, the room is ready.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My LIfe as a Duck

I don't think human beings are re-incarnated as animals but I wouldn't be surprised if I'm a duck disquised as kj. Here's some preliminary evidence:

1. I love to be fed.

2. I take care of my family until they can swim on their own.

3. Ducks like to congregate and socialize and I do too.

4. My landings are often not graceful.

5. I glide and thrive in serene calm waters.

6. When necessary, and sometimes when not necessary, I squawk with the best of them.

7. Don't get me going: after I squawk, I just might stand my ground.

7. I believe I can fly.

8. I have only a couple of very special and close friends, and I treasure my time with them.

9. I try to carry myself with dignity.

11. I'm not afraid to spread my wings.

12. I know this pose only too well.

13. I line my ducks up in a row.

I could go on. But hopefully you get the idea. It's not easy being a closet duck.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thursday 13: Splendid Complaints

OK, so it's "Friday 13". I'm a day late. But I must be feeling better because I'm hankering to enjoy complaining. That's a sure sign of my improving mental health.

Here are some things that bug me:

1. Blogging is the ultimate in cause and effect. Fail to reciprocate visits to people who visit you and your fan base will shrink. (Please note: I am not referring to myself, right?)
2. Speaking of bloggers, my least favorite trait (besides moodiness, which would not easily show up in Blogland) is self absorption. I don't like it when a blogger showcases her/himself too damn much. (Please Note: I am not referring to myself, right?). See # 1 for the expected result of such an approach.
3. I am ripping rooms apart trying to cut through the plastic around my printer cartridges. The scissors are wimpering. Why in the world are plastic encasements made so damn thick???
4. Has any one noticed that house flies have strengthened their gene pool so that they fly faster and die slower even after several swats?
5. You're a cashier in the grocery store. Fine. You tell me how much I owe and I hand you my money. Fine. You hand me my change back while you are talking to Johnny at the next register. My change falls all over the counter. Um, not fine. Did you notice? No.
6. How long have I been on hold? 7 minutes? Oh, it felt like 7 hours, because 7 minutes is a LONG time to wait on the telephone. Don't get me started--because then if I cannot understand the person who FINALLY answers the phone, (I speak American English--an accident of birth), I'm out of luck again.
7. American Hospital Emergency Rooms are a disaster. Imagine a woman in her 90's lying on a gurney for 6hours--6 HOURS!--not in a cubicle but against an open corridor wall, waiting for an X-Ray to be read by a Physician's Assistant (not a doctor). Here's the worse part: several hard working good people a certain person spoke with--including the ER Nurse and the Ambulance EMT--justified the system, the process, even the wait. Health care has had a deep and gruesome fall. It barely works. Really. I kind of know.
8. When did people stop holding doors open for those just behind them? Actually, that's the wrong question. When did people stop NOTICING that someone might be behind them? This one's about AWARENESS as well as courtesy.
9. I like awards and recognition as well as the next person (ok, maybe even more), but how about letting them speak for themselves? Start bragging and my mind's wondering what to have for dinner.

10. I wish I could more easily forgive and forget. I'm pretty patient and mostly loyal, but if pushed too far, I'm apt to check out and stay away, even if it's self defeating and I don't want to. That's PRIDE steering that train.

11. How come I've never had a truly quality can opener that quickly and efficiently opens cans? Could it be because if they're too good, I won't have to buy another one? Come to think of it, how come there aren't tires that don't wear out? Or toasters? And how come I upgraded my cell phone today--same phone company, basically same phone--and I had to pay $ 29.00 for a new charger? How come the old charger conveniently no longer fits?

12. And speaking of phones, I hate the phone companies. Verizon. Sprint. Comcast. Every one of them. I hate all the confusing plans for minutes and service contracts. Don't tell me all the confusion is not purposeful, because I won't believe a word of it.

and finally, # 13: My complaints have dried up. It's a sunny day, I have fun plans, and the weekend's coming. I'm wrapping up by remembering my favorite piece of advice: Ride the horse in the direction she's going.....

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11th

I don't remember why I was watching television on that early morning. Perhaps JB had phoned me to tell me what was happening. Two of the planes, including American Airlines Flight 11, were out of Boston, where I lived, so early on this was a local story. I called Jessica at work.

"Jess, something terrible is happening"

"I know, Mom. Our people are on that plane. We're meeting in the lobby to find out who".

(Pause). "It could be me, Mom".

I've kept a list of their names. And their ages, all women: 32, 32, 30, 27, 41, 33, 44. I know who left silly scribbled notes to their kids and husbands that morning before they left for the West Coast business trip. I know who left frantic phone messages while in the air during the last hour.. I know about the youngest passenger, a two year old girl, whose parents and picture are framed at my hairdressers' because they were her friends. I know how the second plane slammed into the second tower because I saw it from my living room. I know the cheesy hotel where 3 men slept the night before they murdered because it was right down the street from my house.

The losses could have been anyone, and in a way it was. So today I pause from my petty joys and mundane complaints and remember how incredibly, totally, magnificantly precious life is. I pause with eternal thanks that there is not an absent seat at the dinner table because of September 11th.

And I pray for a hard sought and hard earned solution to hatred born of ignorance.

Mish-Mash: Gratitude

Here I am on a grey day, after a grey weekend, with a new blog format and a desire to lighten up. Often, one of the best ways for me to do just that is to concentrate on everything I'm grateful for and let that blanket everything else.

So with grey skies, a restless mind, and my ever-hopeful heart, here's a mish-mash of gratitude:

1. JB and I moved here a little over two years ago. The house had been owned by one family who built it in the 1950's and cozily settled in without modern updates. We've plodded and planned our way into our own version of cozy. JB and I achieved this 'before' and 'after' together: we remarkably and uncharacteristically painted and color washed these walls with hardly an irritating word to each other. I'm grateful for that alone!

2. Ryan......

3. . She's my best friend. She makes me laugh, she amazes, she challenges, she uplifts, supports, questions, reflects, and creates, sometimes all at the same time. I'm grateful to many deserving creative inspirational people in my life, but Ces is in a class by herself. So I am hereby and herein presenting her and her blog with the first annual Ces Class By Itself Award. I'm not sure it's proper to give this award since she is the originator of it and I don't have it myself to pass on, but as far as I am concerned, that is the smallest techniciality.

By the way, I could fill a book with my favorite Ces paintings and illustrations, but here are some of my top choices:

4. And speaking of friends, when JB and I moved to a new and unfamiliar community, we did not dare hope for the unfamiliar comfort of having good friends nearby. It's been a treat to see a warm smile at the kitchen door, stopping by for a quick cup of coffee or dropping off a bouquet of flowers from the garden. So meet Tracy: she is friend and a new blogger, with substantial talent. Here are her one-of-a-kind birdhouses handmade for JB's yArt Fair.

5. I am giving an to several people who deserve it day in and day out. Skinny Little Blonde never fails to write with simplicity, humility and optimism. She writes about love, family, her life, and laughs along the way and so often hits a chord anyone can relate to and learn from. Likewise, her sister, Singleton writes prose and poetry that says everything even as she always leaves something unsaid. I am also giving this award to Jessie, whose honest journaling and wonderful artwork always remind me I am not alone. And last, to Sidney, whose photojournalism of the Phillipines is the kind of action that can change the world one awareness at a time. I am grateful to each of these wonderful bloggers everyday for nugding me in the right direction. There will be more to come.

6. I'm having a bumpy ride these days, but the truth is I am gratefully living the simple life I've always wanted, even though until I moved here from the City I didn't know I wanted it. Here's how JB and I spent last Sunday afternoon: a ride in the country and pizza in one of the hill towns. The pizza place was just one small room with 3 or 4 tables.

This building is one of only four making up a small village square with no more than a post office, a town hall, and in this case a combination pizza place and hardware store. It was just a great place to eat a surprisingly good pizza. That's all. But on a lazy Sunday afternoon, that was quite alot.

7. We're just driving along and we come across this distinguished barn-of-sorts which sells stoves--all kinds of stoves. It sits on a back road route of farms and open space. Shortly after we pass this lone tree with a swinging tire and just up the road, we stop for turkeys, strutting along in the sunlight. JB reminds me to slow down, emphasizing that turkeys are not bright animals.

Click on the image to see the sweet tire and not-so-bright turkeys.....

8. Some time ago I posted the tarot short version of my current journey. The tale is still this: things can't be speeded up but even though I might be upside down there's no need to be uncomfortable; it's a burdensome weight but the effort is worth it; and third--the final result--
all will be blessedly well. OK, I'm ok with that.

9. I can't complete an inventory of gratitude without mentioning JB. She won't let me post her picture and she's not exactly a fan of my blog, but in and out, thankfully and lovingly, she is on and at my side.

10. This is where and how I get to hang out.

This is where and how I spent my summer.

Well. It worked! I feel better. Yes I do. :)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes

You will no doubt notice a new blog format. It's a work in progress. That's all for now.....

Most Sincerely,

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Day Late & a Dollar Short: Thursday 13

It's been a full day. A best and worse day. Up and down. In and out. Near and far.
Is this my life?? Could be.....

1. I am back to "serious" writing. A publisher has asked me to re-calabrate and re-pitch my Career Counseling book, to come up with a new angle aimed specifically at people who have to or want to change their careers. I can do that. I started today. I don't know if my effort will result in a contract with them, but it feels like second base. I was afraid when I left my agent I would be lingering off the bases, so this is a good step. Writing and refining book proposals is the marketing and commerce side of my evolving writing career. No complaints: today it feels great.

2. I like writing poetry best because it is quick and compact. But the in-progress story of Casey and Izzy is my very favorite. I won't be surprised if it will remain so 20 years from now.

3. I have a formal appointment book, but I usually keep my to-do list on the front of a blank envelope. This morning I had about 10 things on it. I finished them all. After a period of slacking off from life's daily chores, it looks like I'm mostly organized again. Then again, I'm glad I've learned to slack off, finally.

4. My mind gets stuck on something and I just can't let it go. If it's something even potentially sad, I might cry while I think. Plus I'm am too often impatient and fail to let things play themselves out. I can live with that for myself, but sometimes I end up pulling in and/or hurting someone else who doesn't deserve to have to deal just because I'm acting out. I did this again today. Damn.

5. "I'm sorry" can get pretty stale if I keep walking down the same road.
6. Finally I parboiled and skinned a couple of dozen tomatoes from the garden and made spaghetti sauce. This is a specialty of mine, recipe handed down from my red headed Italian father, but the homegrown tomatoes gave the sauce a sweetness all its own.

7. I've decided to set up a studio in a corner of the cellar. I will make a cozy little space for myself. There I will paint wood and make whatever mess I want. I used to paint birdhouses, some with polka dots and other neighborhood expressions, and then make up a story about who lives there. I might do this again.

8. Our hedges got trimmed today. JB and I started them last week but they were so overgrown we couldn't reach the middle. So now they look very spiffy, even a little funky. I gave our lawn guy creative license to make a few waves and wiggles and he joyfully did.

9. It is Fall in New England. Fresh apples, pears, blueberries, acorn and butternut squash, pumpkins. The leaves are just beginnning to change colors. In a couple of weeks they will be red and yellow and orange. It is a splendid sight.
10. The Big Yellow writing group starts up again next Monday. There's something in that livingroom air that makes writing there effortless and fluid. It is just wonderful to write and read aloud there. And it's just as wonderful to hear everyone else read aloud.

11. Here' a # 1 reason to rejoice.

12. My insecurity has a life of its own. I really am an optimist but waves of sadness toss me every which way. I don't know if I can or want to change this. I don't know much these days, really. I can't tell you if that's good or bad.

13. Here's a small hardware store in one of the nearby Hill Towns. It's one of four buildings that make up the town center. You couldn't make up this kind of authenticity.

Click on the photo to see all the small town details

Have a good day yourself. If it's full of dualities like mine, well, maybe that's just the way it is sometimes.....