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Monday, August 24, 2020



If you were a kid any time before the mid-’90s (when the vaccine became common practice), chances are HUGE that you had the chickenpox.  It was a horrible, unsightly, rite-of-passage that most of us experienced, stealing WEEKS of our childhood while we remained quarantined in the house with our itchy blisters. I “caught” my case from my younger sibling (thanks, sista!) who, as I remember it, had to miss our year-end dance recital because of the illness.

It was at the beginning of summer vacation when my turn came, so I got to listen to everybody else running around outside enjoying their freedom while I picked at my scalp (where most of my “pox” manifested) and felt profoundly sorry for myself.  I also had to miss the big girl scout camping trip that all of my friends got to enjoy, although in retrospect I do not understand why I was so devastated because anybody who knows me knows I love NOT camping.  Bottom line—I knew I was “missing out,” and nobody likes that feeling.

Since that harrowing experience, I had by and large experienced mainly good health until early last year; I took an antibiotic for a bacterial skin infection and my whole life suddenly changed for the much, much worse, as I have already detailed.  I went from being a robustly healthy person to a debilitated person literally overnight, and unfortunately in spite of the many thousands of dollars I have spent on both traditional and holistic remedies, that remains true.  My life stopped being about TODAY and started being about SOMEDAY.

SOMEDAY I will be well again.  SOMEDAY I will be able to do the things I am no longer able to do again.  SOMEDAY I will be able to eat (dairy!  wheat! Sugar!), drink (something other than turmeric probiotic shots!) and be merry again.

Not unlike those weeks I spent as a little girl listening to summer vacation happening WITHOUT ME, I spent most of last year feeling like an outsider in my own existence, someone who can watch and listen but not participate.  The joys of living and the world seemed remote from inside the prison of my damaged body.  All I could think about was FIX THIS, FIX THIS, FIX THIS so that I can get BACK to the world and my LIFE.

Yeah, I know.

I know it sounds kind of solipsistic today, considering that nearly everybody in the world feels this exact same way now.  My personal hell has become on a certain level all of our realities.  This pandemic means we have stopped being about TODAY because all we can think is FIX THIS, FIX THIS, FIX THIS so that I can get BACK to the world and my LIFE.

One of the clear memories I have about my bout with the chickenpox is that although it was virtually inevitable that I was going to come down with the virus (my sister and I shared a room), in my little kid way I tried to mind-over-matter that fact away.  I tried to fool my body (and my Mom) into believing that I was feeling FANTASTIC (not punky and room spinny) and kept my little self busy preparing for the camping trip I knew in my heart was not happening for me.   In this very small way, I do understand the people who don’t want to (or don’t) wear masks, in spite of the reality that their efficacy is a proven fact.

Pretending (for children) is an important coping mechanism, but if we don’t outgrow it, it becomes something we call “denial”.  And while denying the facts may provide some temporary psychological relief,  it quickly becomes something destructive because none of us, even in our current, socially distanced reality, lives in a vacuum.  Denial turns you into the guy who insists he isn’t drunk when you try to take his car keys away—you are a danger to yourself and to others.

I think a big factor—maybe the biggest—in our fact denying fellow citizens refusal to look out for their own wellbeing (and yours) goes back to my childhood fear—that fear of MISSING OUT.  This year has been the official spokesperson for MISSING OUT, as important milestone events large and small have been canceled, and even our regular, relied upon routines have been entirely upended.  But here’s the thing—this is not like that summer vacation all those years ago where I was, in FACT, missing out;  this year you can safely stay at home and rest assured that the only thing you are really missing out on is an opportunity to contract a ferocious and sometimes deadly virus.

We ALL, mask compliant or not, want to FIX THIS, FIX THIS, FIX THIS so that we can get BACK to the world and our lives, but the reality is---we just have to wait.  We have to wait for a vaccine, we have to wait for more effective treatments and the only thing those of us who are not actively participating in that process can do to help is STOP SPREADING IT AROUND.  We have to start living in today again, making those small daily choices that remind us that even in a socially distanced world, we need each other.

Thanks to my tangle with the neurotoxic antibiotic, I am now the oft-discussed “immunocompromised” person that your refusal to wear a mask disproportionately endangers; because of my resulting tangle with Guillain Barre Syndrome, even when there is a vaccine, it will not be safe for me to get it.  That means my life is not going back to “normal” for a very long time…or possibly, I now accept, ever.  So if I don’t start living for today, I may run out of days before I start living again, and that would be a waste.

I had already “lost” a year of my life to this illness before the pandemic started and now we are all headed into the 6th month of this new reality together.  I get, maybe even a little bit more acutely than most, how empirically HORRIBLE this has been.  The struggle is real.

But to me, the decision to wear a mask and practice social distancing is as straight forward as the decision not to drive drunk.  Yes, there is a chance the drunk driver will make it home without killing anyone, but we have facts and statistics that clearly demonstrate what a high-risk behavior it is.  Wearing a mask is not an infringement of your personal freedom any more than no littering laws are—keep your junk and germs to yourself.

Otherwise, we are all going to be missing out for a long, long time.

Image by Vesna Harni from Pixabay 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Why I'll Give You Something to Cry About

If you grew up in the era before liberal snowflakes RUINED EVERYTHING*, somebody at some point (most likely a parent) may have said to you, “I’ll give you something to cry about”.

This was always spoken when you were already crying, for whatever reason, and it not only implied that you were not justified in your emotion BUT ALSO that if you did not stop, the speaker would enact some more vicious means of causing you pain, whether emotional or physical.  Obviously threatening somebody who is already upset is universally agreed upon as THE BEST method of handling them and also, let’s face it, crying is for BABIES ONLY. 

People who cry when in pain, or when they are sad, or when they are frustrated, or when they are angry are really the WORST.

In fact, people who are displeasing to us in ANY WAY AT ALL, be it their race, religion, sexual orientation, weight, looks, taste in music, preference for cats over dogs, OH I COULD GO ON but REALLY, let’s all just AGREE—they are HORRIBLE and should be at least invalidated and possibly under the right circumstances PUNISHED.

*UGH, all of those laws that prevent this from happening!

Isn’t it nice when we all agree, though?  It feels really good when other people agree with you, it is a balm for the soul—someone agrees with me, I must be RIGHT!  And even if that agreement is in no way based on facts or evidence or even common sense, it is still really satisfying.

So why am I going to give you something to cry about?

Welp, it turns out my late, great father was right about me—I am what an industrial psychologist would call a “mismatcher”.  That is to say, when I look at any situation objectively, I automatically start to identify the cracks and problems and how they might possibly be sealed and solved.  It is just the way my brain works.

It additionally turns out that my mother was right about me when she called me “the kid from the emperor’s new clothes”. Yeah, sure, seeing a naked guy might be uncomfortable, but it’s the person who starts screaming about it that REALLY makes everybody cringe.  So greetings to the elephant in the room—I see you, I acknowledge you and I am as we speak figuring out a way to get you and your ginormous poops out of this small space.

This is on my mind because recently my tendency to “mismatch” has been on overdrive.  I think because for the first time in my life I have been so obviously and measurably diminished by an illness that NO ONE seems to have a SINGLE CLUE how to heal, it has made me even more hyper aware of the difference between a problem that CAN be solved and a problem that CAN’T be solved (at least not with the data currently available) and the good news is, most problems CAN BE SOLVED!!!! 

The bad news is, as my late great father used to say, there may be an idiot in charge.

I recently posted about my incredibly EFFORTED attempts to be well again (all failures so far) and how in touch I am becoming with the deeply embedded belief I have that my value lies not in my being but in my EFFORT.  When effort proves worthless and you are a person who has always laid stock in it, there comes a great awakening, something akin to the t-shirt wisdom that SH*T HAPPENS layered with some “dark night of the soul” search for meaning in the mess. 

But with the clear and present understanding that effort is not always the answer comes the just as urgent clarion call:  sometimes, IT IS.

And we (all of us) need to realize the difference between situations we CAN fix with effort and situations we can’t.

So here’s where I give you something to cry about.

There are a HUGE BUNCH of things in your life that you have been “crying” about that are completely and totally in your control.  Sorry, I’m right about this.  And btw, it is 100% TRUE OF ME as well!

My illness may not be something I can control, but there are many problematic situations I am living with that I could act upon but choose not to, for various reasons.  BUT I COULD.  Like the old Eagles’ song says, “So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key.”

Here are some examples of things you can stop crying about RIGHT NOW:

Your weight (unless you have a serious underlying and incurable condition that prevents the following advice):  lose it, gain it or accept it.

Your relationship:  leave it, go to couples’ counselling, go to therapy to figure out why you are staying in a relationship that makes you cry or accept it.**

Your job:  quit, ask about training programs, ask about transferring, take night/online classes to open new opportunities, apply for new positions outside the company, do things to build up your resume or accept it.

Your looks:  get plastic surgery or accept the fact that there is not a single person in your life that you love because of how they look so, AHEM.

And I could go on, but I won’t because it isn’t nice to give people you care for something to cry about, even if what you are saying is totally fair and valid (as I have learned recently the hard way).  I am writing this very generic blanket post because I have REALLY TICKED SOME PEOPLE OFF by pointing out this kind of stuff to them specifically about their particular situations.  But seriously, when life confronts you with a circumstance you cannot heal or fix with effort, you lose a lot of your patience with people who could.

So while I am not going to tell you your pain is not justified and I am not even going to threaten you with corporal punishment (although if you were my kid I COULD!  STILL LEGAL in the good old U.S. of A., take THAT, liberal snowflakes!) I am going to say that as far as we know, this is your one and only life, so embrace what is working for you and change anything and everything that isn’t.  And maybe (just maybe) crying about your problems rather than fixing them is working for you.

Sorry, I’m right about this.


If you are like me, and REALLY want to learn to discern the difference between a problem that CAN be solved and one that can’t?  Then, please:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  ~ Mary Oliver

Own your problems and enjoy solving those you can.  That is the best life any of us can truly hope for, tears and all.

(**if you are involved with an abuser—please call the domestic abuse hotline and get help)

Sunday, January 26, 2020


So “Baby Yoda” was all over the news recently and while I was not curious enough to “click on a link” (as the kids don’t say), I WAS curious enough to ask my son about it (no, you don’t have to explain, he already did an adequate job).
The idea that Yoda was ever a baby brings up so many questions (none of them urgent enough to compel me to watch the program he is featured on), not least among them:  “What SPECIES is Yoda? And if he was once a baby, doesn’t that mean that he has parents?  Did the race die out , so he was the only one left by the time he met Luke Skywalker? And why on earth (galaxy?) did his theoretical parents teach him that there is no try?”
I am now seriously begging all Star Wars geeks NOT to answer any of my questions because what else will I perseverate on late at night when I can’t sleep?  To be clear, when I call y’all “geeks”, I am not suggesting that I, as a child of the 70’s, was not once captivated by Luke, Leia, Han Solo, et al.  I think I saw Return of the Jedi at least three times in the theater on its first run. 
But the whole “episode” this and “episode” that lost me and now I don’t check in anymore (although I did see The Force Awakens; my big takeaway was that there is NO WAY Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford would have a kid who looked like Adam Driver so—plot twist alert!—maybe Leia was getting some on the side?) but thanks to a handy 21st Century invention known as the “meme”, I will never be able to forget “adult” (?) Yoda’s advice to “baby” Luke Skywalker:


And seriously, how can 4 billion memes be wrong, amiright?


There is totally, absolutely a try, Yoda.  So “try” that on for size, old “man” (?)
Now, don’t get me wrong—I have heard about 4 billion people in my (relatively short compared to 4 billion years) lifetime LIE about “trying”, so I can get where Yoda might have some confusion about this.  “Try” is a catch-all word often used by underperformers and excuse-makers, so the fact that it has a bad rap makes sense.  BUT “try” is actually one of the most important things you can do in this world (I can’t speak for a galaxy far, far, away).  Like the ant with the rubber tree plant, you have got to have high hopes in order to “do or do not”.
Why am I feeling so passionately about this (apart from the fact that I need something to think about during the endless hours I lie awake most nights)?  I will tell you why:


We don’t even have to have a pageant or a vote or a competition, because nobody else wants the crown.  Because


might ALSO be known as


And THAT does NOT look good on a resume, for sure.

So call off the arm wrestling match, I’ve got this one.

Anyone who really knows me knows that as the


EFFORT is my KING!!!!

I literally SWOON over EFFORT, butterflies in my stomach, the whole shebang (as they say, but I am not sure who).

Not to be maudlin, but anyone who knows the remotest thing about me now knows that I have been (cough, cough) SICK for 10 months, going on a year.  And if you do not understand that I have TRY, TRY, TRIED my DAMNDEST to be well again, you DON’T KNOW NUTHIN’ (as the kids don’t say).  Here are some things I have “tried” (Yoda Baby):

An Organic diet

A diet free from gluten/dairy/alcohol/artificial sweeteners/ refined sugars/processed foods

Herbal and Vitamin supplements (“try” me, I’ve “tried” it)

Collagen Peptides

Massage (BAD idea)


Thousands and thousands of dollars on conventional doctors and medications (WORSE idea)

Daily prayer and meditation

Daily walks


…and the list of “trying” does go on.

# of “tries” that have “succeeded” in making me well?


So that makes them “fails”, right?

So where does that fall in the “do or do not” paradigm, Yoda?

Before you answer, keep in mind that most of the above list is still in the “trying” phase.  That is to say that just because I have been taking these supplements (for example) for ten months without any relief means I have STOPPED taking them.  HELL, NO!


“TRYING”, Yoda.

So why, when all of my effort and “trying” have failed to “do”, do I keep on keepin’ on?

Because I think Yoda is a liar.

I think “trying” is the only game in town.  I think that without “trying”, failure is automatic.  Without “trying”, doing is impossible.  Without “trying”, life is just a slideshow of presentations made by people who were willing to “try” when you were not.
If you’ve never “tried”, you’ve never failed.  If you never failed, you never learned.  If you never learned, you never grew.  If you never grew…
You are still Baby Yoda.
Yes, Virginia, there IS a “try”.
And some days, trying is all we have left to “do”.  So I will keep on trying (haters and Yoda be damned) and if I continue to fail, so be it.  But if you think I am just going to give up on “trying” for anything I want…

With all due respect to Yoda, baby.


Saturday, November 23, 2019


Oh my, doesn’t being “ghosted” sound EXCITING!  Damn, if I didn’t know what that means (according to boring old urban dictionary), I’d be like “SIGN ME UP!!  I AM ALL OVER BEING GHOSTED!!!”
It SOUNDS amazing, yes, but actually?
It’s just a much sexier way of saying someone has totally blown you off.
Wait, now I’m confused about which one is a sexier way of saying you are being ignored?


One thing that has consistently AMAZED ME about my blog:  PEOPLE ACTUALLY READ IT.  Seriously, God Bless you, everyone of you and I LOVE interacting with the wonderful world about my silly musings.  Peak experience for me, really and again:  THANK YOU.

So why did I very abruptly stop doing this about 8 months ago?  Hmmm.  Funny story.
Well, not that funny, but I DID think I was going to actually get to BE a ghost, so THAT might have been a funny story.  For me to have told to my dead relatives.  Because I got sick.
REALLY sick.
Weird, out-of-the-blue, oh-my-god-what-is-happening SICK.
And I spent over 2K in cash (yes, my deductible) trying to figure out why, exactly, I had SUDDENLY and IRREVOCABLY become so damned SICK.
Because it was a mystery.  For months.  And months.
So, when my doctors couldn’t figure out why my limbs were suddenly going numb and I was having trouble breathing and my heart was palpitating and my vision was haloed and my ears were ringing, they did what all good health care professionals should do:  they implied that I was CRAZY.  They suggested that I take medication to mitigate my sudden-onset craziness.  When my capillaries started leaking and I developed dozens and dozens of petachie overnight and my feet turned purple and my hands turned blue, they told me they could find “no objective reason for my subjective symptoms.”
See?  Funny story, right?
Actually, it wasn’t a real doctor who said that, it was a physician’s assistant (my doctor is on vacation a lot, as it turns out), and she didn’t say it, she wrote it in a message on the patient portal, so I could insert a screen shot here, in case anyone is looking for a REALLY nurturing caregiver.
TURNS OUT (when I finally saw the neurologist it took TWO and a HALF MONTHS to get an appointment with)…I had something called Guillaine Barre Syndrome.  Which explained why my limbs were going numb and I couldn’t breathe.
BUT ALSO (because why stop there?) my Guilliane Barre (which is usually caused by a virus) had been triggered by an EXTREME adverse reaction to an antibiotic I had taken for a simple skin infection.  So in addition to the excellent hallmark symptoms of Guillaine Barre, I also was having neurotoxic reactions and other dire physical manifestations.  Like, a one in a billion response to this antibiotic.
Aren’t I a lucky lady?
So all of this to say:  I stopped posting here (ghosted you) because I was trying my damndest not to ghost you in the literal sense.  Not only were there many days when I was convinced I was dying, there were many days when I would have welcomed it.  No lie.
I wrote a farewell letter to my son, which I would place on my bedside table each night in case he woke up in the morning to find a corpse.  I also wrote out plans for my funeral, including songs for my wonderful musician friends to “play me out” with; I asked that my family spread my ashes on Martha’s Vineyard, my favorite place I have ever been (and if you have not, please go because my creepy ashes are not there to get into your Mad Martha’s Ice Cream.  Yet.)
So what did I learn, when I thought I was dying and not a single member of the medical community had any help to offer me?  Actually, some surprising and amazing things:

1) I am actually not afraid of dying.  REALLY not afraid.  Fear being sick and disabled much more, funny how that works.  Like I said, at the worst point in the illness (they call it a nadir) I kept a note by the side of my bed in case my son came in one morning and found me gone.  But I actually had no fear surrounding it, which is a good thing to know.
2) TV Doctors make all real-life doctors look like uncaring, incompetent amateurs.  So ironically, and a bit humorously, TV doctors are the "truth mirror".
3) Being sick is boring.  REALLY boring.  You wake up each new day and think THIS SH*T???  AGAIN???  It's like eating the same food for 8 months.
4) I now TOTALLY get the old-fashioned days "convalescent hospitals".  In the old days, when you were sick (and rich) you got sent to some facility so no one had to deal with your boring, sick ass and you got fed rich puddings and took lots of naps.  People brought you flowers and hot tea.
We need to bring all that back.
Before you ask (and you will because you are so awesome!)…

NO, I am not well yet.  Weirdly.  I developed a whole body tremor late in the game that is plaguing me and my left eye and ear will never be the same. 

SIDEBAR:  antibiotics can be poison.  Be careful, please.

NO, I am not well yet.
I am no longer in imminent danger of “ghosting” you for reals.  I mean, I could get hit by a truck but…I promise I will be an INTERESTING ghost.  Maybe not as interesting as Patrick Swayze, but I’ll do my best.
And I will try to start posting here again more regularly. 
But BOTTOM LINE—I like life.  I like the people I have met and interacted with (which most likely means YOU) and I like the adventures I have had and the family I grew up in and the son I am raising.  I like the sound the floorboard heaters make and the smell of cold air and the way the sky looks at sunset.  I like being alive, but I am not afraid to die.
Best of both worlds, literally.
So, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, let’s be thankful for people both here and “gone” and be thankful for our opportunity to appreciate whatever the hell we are dealt…sometimes we hold them, sometimes we fold them, sometimes we walk away and sometimes we run…but we NEVER count our money while we’re sitting at the table.
There’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing’s done.
Or so we’ve been told.  And I believe.  Blessings to all of you.




Sunday, July 28, 2019

Why Unhealthy Relationships Are Junk Food for the Soul

Everybody has unhealthy relationships.

Whether they are with other people, with food, money, authority, work or all-of-the-above, we have unhealed places that assert themselves in how we relate to the various stimuli in our lives.

“Success” and “happiness” are not one-size-fits-all and they are never across-the-board wins. 

You may have a great marriage but struggle financially.  You might be at the top of your field but constantly battling with your weight.  You could be in peak physical condition but lacking in human connection.

This is why we have the expression “never judge a book by its cover”, because what we can see of another person’s experience is not the whole story.  Our envy about someone’s wealth or beauty or relationship is more a reflection of our own personal dissatisfaction than an accurate inventory of how their life is going.  “Physician, heal thyself” speaks to our need to get our own house in order before we start judging anyone else’s, for better or for worse.

One of the overriding anomalies of the human condition is our tendency, when we are already struggling, to “indulge” in behaviors and activities we know are not in our best interests.  Eating junk food, watching too much TV, slacking off on exercise; we “comfort” ourselves with unhealthy choices. And while experts may extol the virtues of an occasional “cheat day”, too often we fall down the rabbit hole in one (or more than one) area of life, where we are essentially “cheating” all the time.

This can cause myriad problems that spill over into the other, more robust parts of our life, whether by manifestation of health problems, excessive weight gain, debt or an absence of intimacy.

It is interesting to note that while most of us know the basic fundamentals of experiencing sound physical and financial well-being—aka eat healthily and in moderation, get regular exercise, keep to a budget, etc---many of us do not live our lives within these parameters, regardless of the stress the consequences of not doing so may bring.  So too do many of us “indulge” (or tolerate) toxic relationships because not only is the very idea of the effort it would take to extricate from them a tiring concept, the truth is often these connections become the junk food of our souls; we know they are bad for us but have convinced ourselves that “healthier” options are not as satisfying.

Sorry, that’s the truth.

We have all heard the expression “addictive relationships” and we may not feel ours fits the definition because we don’t perceive it as abusive.  But any unhealthy relationship can be defined as addictive because we are repeating patterns and thoughts that have not been effective in the past AS IF this time it may be different.  We may know that eating too much sugar or drinking too much or even just not moving our bodies enough can make us feel spacy, disconnected and unwell, but when we are triggered by anxiety we may slump back into the “solution” that never worked before and never will; we do this same thing in our addictive relationships.

Just as we may get temporary relief from a sugar high or a wine buzz, the “honeymoon phase” of an addictive relationship is what keeps us coming back for more.  And just like with any addiction, the so-called “positive” reinforcements of our behaviors become harder and harder to come by, and the results are shorter and shorter-lived.  We are addicted not only to what we view as our reward, but also to the rollercoaster ride we take to get it.

We are addicted to melodrama and yes, even to our pain; not only because we have been sold on highs and lows as “peak experiences” but also, quite frankly, because we are AVOIDING pain in some other area in our lives.  Just as food and alcohol might distract us from confronting critical questions regarding our overall wellbeing, so do addictive relationships.  And unlike food and alcohol, we won’t necessarily face any judgment for prioritizing our unhealthy marriages or partnerships, so they can become our perpetual excuse for not accomplishing our goals, health-wise, professionally, artistically, et cetera, ad naseam.

The truth is, unconditional love just isn’t that “sexy”, at least by the standards of the cultural conditioning we have received courtesy of our media.  Loving someone all-day, every-day, no-matter-what sounds a little bit ho-hum to a lot of people.  Where is the PASSION, they wonder?  Where is the EXCITEMENT?

The unhealthy relationship feeds us a steady diet of junk food for our soul; it is the habitat of the immature and the unevolved.  Sure, spending all day in bed with a box of pop-tarts and a video game console might sound fun to some people every now and again, but if that is how you want to live your whole life you are either completely emotionally and spiritually shut down (or you are 18).  Just like health and fitness and financial stability and success require discipline, so does a healthy relationship.

Ugh, what a drag, am I right?

But here’s a little secret for you:  yes, it will require discipline to achieve any worthwhile goal—your ideal weight, career, success, abundance and happy intimacy—but once achieved you will experience “highs” that do not go away with the next fight, the next disappointment, the next challenge. 
Unconditional love (like prosperity) is actually the ultimate level of FREEDOM.  When someone loves and accepts you just exactly where and how you are, it gives you the unfettered leeway to become more and more of it.  No more tiptoeing around yourself, your goals, your dreams and your magic; you have nothing to hide and your support system is locked into place.

Unconditional love is like a having a bank account that NEVER RUNS OUT.  I can’t think of anything sexier than that, frankly.  Because when your bank account never runs out, you always have plenty to give.

So stop eating the crumbs of junk food your unhealthy relationship feeds you, hoping to recapture the high it once gave you.  Commit to a healthy diet of unconditional love for yourself and the people in your life who do not abuse or undermine you; you will reach your goals sooner than you can imagine.

Just like a garden needs proper tending and fertilizer, when you stop feeding your body and soul junk food, you are able to blossom.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019


I have told the story before about the very first time I came to see the home I currently (and for the past ten years) have lived in.  I had authorized my husband to purchase the place sight unseen (by me) because after what felt like an endless and fruitless search I had finally honed in on what appeared to be the perfect offering on  My husband and our realtor scheduled an appointment post haste and when they reported back that is wasn’t a lemon, I made the snap decision to make a full price offer and put the nightmare of house shopping behind us; it was a calculated risk, yes, but I trusted my instincts and it paid off.

However, ten years ago smartphones weren’t really a thing and GPS was optional, so my husband trusted Google maps to direct us on our first visit together (DON’T.  EVAH.) and we ended up on this creepy little backroad that was hardly more than a path;  when the chickens and goats crossed in front of us, I openly began weeping.  Ah, memories!  Anyhow, like I said, it turns out we live in a perfectly lovely neighborhood with perfectly lovely neighbors and the chickens and goats are more flavor than template.

In the many years that have passed, my life therapy/exercise has drawn back to that fateful road on a daily basis.  Now an overgrown and muddy trail, it is still favored by walkers, runners, bikers, and ATVers; this has caused many deep wells to be impressed in the mud which are then graciously filled with snow and rainwaters by Mother Nature. In the spring it is a fertile breeding ground for frogs and hosts literally hundreds of newbies; in the winter it becomes a miniature ice rink and this is where my story begins.

As a related aside, I would like to mention that one day fairly recently my 13-year-old son returned from some errand with his father with a fast food soda cup in tow;  I walked in on him melting the ice with warm water and marveling at the wonder of it. It is there one minute, entirely fierce and rock solid.  But then a mere trickle of warm water causes it to dissolve and be no more. 

Wow, how is that for a metaphor for facing our fears in life?
Okay, so back to the goat trail—these cavernous puddles, created by ATV enthusiasts, have endured a bizarre winter of freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw and I have had the joy of observing it.  Yes, and interacting with it.  Because like my son, I have determined that ice is a very satisfying plaything.  
As I walk I am always on the lookout for good sized rocks that I can easily carry in my pocket.  These rocks will be enthusiastically thrown into the ice to determine its fortitude.  Just the other day I hit the ice with such a precise shot that the rock made a bulletlike hole and sank below the surface, leaving the water no choice but to actually glug up through that clean and tiny opening.
The weather has been so unpredictable, however, that these simple puddles have becomes a scientific wonderland. With the temperatures fluctuating so wildly day-to-day, I have observed some fascinating phenomenon—my favorite being how the outer edges of the puddle will freeze with a kind of air pocket beneath, creating sheets of thin ice that shatter like window panes when pressured. So one day, as I was stepping on these fragile edges and then picking up the pristine pieces of ice and hurling them onto the more solid frozen center of the puddle, a lady on a bike happened upon me. 

She assumed (wrongly) that I heard her approach (shattering ice is LOUD) and so our near collision surprised both of us greatly.  When she realized, she apologized and I shamefacedly admitted—Well, you caught me playing.
 We have all heard the expression “skating on thin ice” and we have all heard the expression “playing with fire” but have we ever realized that they mean the same thing? They mean we are taking a calculated risk—we are employing what we know about these elements and trying to use them to our advantage, understanding that the possibility of backfire is higher than average.  We understand what we are dealing with and are betting on our luck? Cunning? Intuition? to guide us to safer and higher ground.

 I am laughing now (like I did as I admitted to the biker that I had been “playing”) because faith, in its most common human form, is a bit like skating on (or playing with) thin ice—we have a sense that it is generally okay but we know that our fear can sink us.  We know that what we DON’T know is a wild card, and we choose to walk forward in faith or retreat into that fear.  Will the Red Sea part or will we drown? And is one thing necessarily better than the other?
The older we get, the more comfortable we are with that kind of ambiguity; we know we don’t have all the answers and therefore we hesitate to label anything GOOD or BAD. We understand that the more open we become to all possible outcomes, the more likely the “best” possible scenario will manifest. This is the power of aging; the knowledge that thin ice may not be as “stable” as solid ice, but it’s actually considerably more interesting.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.” ~Helen Keller

To grow up is to no longer retreat into superstition. It is acknowledging that which has most meaning for us and acting on it, come what may. Today I am daring you to skate on thin ice and play with fire; but ONLY if you trust yourself.  That is where our power lies—in self-trust and self-worth.
As long as we are fishing for those answers outside of our own souls (“there’s no place like home”), we are using the wrong bait. You are the only authority as far as your world is concerned—shatter those illusions and grasp the gold ring—understand that satisfaction is not about outcomes but process.  As Goethe wrote, “The dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety.

 Is that not a call to freedom?

Thursday, January 31, 2019


When I was a little girl, I LOVED to color.  Actually “love” is almost not a strong enough word—coloring in black and white pictures sparked my imagination and my soul in a way that was almost transformative.  I imagined, with each precise stroke of my crayons, that I was bringing worlds to life; I was animating the inanimate and it gave me a sense of sovereignty and joy.

My very favorite series of coloring books was called “The Ginghams” featuring four beautiful sisters who always dressed in (you guessed it!) GINGHAM dresses.  For anyone who has led a life way too interesting to know what this means, “gingham” is a fabric featuring tiny checks of white and some other color.  Tiny, tiny checks on all of those dresses that needed to be filled in, one by one, in a white/pastel pattern over and over and over again.

Look, I know “OCD” is a real diagnosis with serious consequences, but for the sake of "painting" the most accurate picture of the anal child that I was, let’s call my obsession with coloring these books an OCD-like fixation.  In keeping with the template provided by the technicolor covers, one sister always dressed in green, one in pink, one in blue and one in red; I was fastidious in maintaining this suggestion and reveled in my perfect “creations”.  Not one stroke of color outside the line, of course; everything was in its place.

Now, let’s flashforward:  I am a teenager, past the coloring years, but my sister, who is ten years older than I, has married and started a family.  Of course it was a top priority for me to introduce her first child to the joys of coloring! I remember vividly sitting on the floor with him at my sister’s house when he was just a toddler, demonstrating my perfect coloring form.

He would watch with polite interest; then, grabbing some bold primary color in his fist, he would scribble all over his half of the page.  Oh, the HORROR!  But I was determined to be a patient mentor, so I demonstrated, with my hand over his fist, how to choose an “appropriate” color and then yes, how to “color inside the lines”.

Again, he politely complied.  But when left to his own devices, he once more joyfully scribbled all over the picture with abandon.  My teenage self lost patience very quickly and said sneeringly, in a catchphrase of my own youth, “How would you like a nice Hawaiian Punch??”

My little nephew did not bat an eyelash.  He looked me dead in the face and responded, “How would YOU like a nice Karate Chop?”  (Kids DO say the darndest things!)

Of course I laughed and that was the end of my career as a coloring tutor.  Whereas my joy had been derived by meticulously staying within the lines, his was enhanced by the bold ignoring of such perimeters.  In retrospect, a normal, healthy toddler exploring his boundaries.

“Boundaries”!  This is something we talk about a lot these days; but I recently had a conversation with my son explaining to him why so many adults totally stink at holding them.  My generation, and those that came before me, were taught that children were not allowed such a thing.  Children did as they were told, went where they were asked and had NO RIGHT whatsoever to state preferences.

We were expected to eat what was put in front of us, even if it made us gag; we were subjected to bullying experiences within our own family and extended family interactions that were normalized; we were to be seen and not heard.  Consequences for attempts to enforce a boundary ranged from ridicule (do you think you’re special?) to punishment.  When it came to family culture, you had to toe the party line or be branded an outcast or a black sheep.

This was the entirely “normal” experience of most of my peers and virtually every single person I know who is older than me; children were expressly forbidden to “draw a line”.

Perhaps this is why staying within those lines felt so comforting to me.  I could not exert this control in my day-to-day life; but on those pages, I was in total control.  I was choosing my experience and it felt absolutely amazing to tiny me.

So now that I am a not-so-tiny me, I have come to realize the wisdom of that child; “drawing a line” is one of the most critical components to personal happiness.  We all, but women in particular, were taught that having preferences was somehow “selfish”; our every interaction was supposed to conform to the path that was least likely to “rock the boat” in any way.  Most of us were raised to believe that having “boundaries” was strictly a prima donna move.

Back when I was still in my 20’s, I developed a coping strategy that I referred to at the time as “the screen door”.   It was something I implemented when a person who entered my life for any reason—whether through work or socially or family marriage, etc—did not feel entirely “safe” to me.  I could still interact with this person, obviously, but I maintained the equivalent of a screen door between us—a latched screen door at that.

Some people you just throw the door open and welcome them inside almost immediately, but for the most part, the screen door is a decent bridge that gives you some breathing room.  It’s not fool-proof, of course; sociopaths and narcissists can entangle even the most self-aware of us; but it’s a good starting point.  And the older I get, the more able I am not only to hold healthy boundaries but also to pretty quickly recognize those who won’t respect them under any circumstances.

And really?  Who can blame the many generations who were taught it was not okay to say “I don’t like that” or “I don’t want that” or “That makes me uncomfortable” for NOT KNOWING how to draw a line?  It’s kind of a miracle any of us figured it out!  And oh, BTW?

MOST of us who are capable and willing to draw a line (especially women, sorry) will to some degree or the other be vilified for it.  Because it is not yet “the norm”.  We have not yet reached “the tipping point”.

So here is my manifesto for 2019, and I welcome all of you to share it with me:  I AM DRAWING A LINE.  Call it a line in the sand, call it a “limit”, call it “life is too short for B.S.”, but above all call it HEALTHY.  It is healthy to have preferences and act on them; it is healthy to make a decision not to tolerate abuse or disrespect.

Yes, I am drawing a line and going forward, like the little girl with the coloring book, I will decide which hues and nuances and boundaries animate my world; I will express my sovereignty and joy in technicolor.  “Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere,” suggested G. K. Chesterton nearly 100 years ago.  Let us go forth and express ourselves artfully and with common morality by drawing a line.