Time to tell my story


My love affair with the written word began more than six decades ago.  As a quiet, tender child, great expanses of my childhood were spent in solitary play, befriended by the comfort of make believe.  During those early wanderings into fantasy worlds, I discovered the power to create stories in my mind which eventually, when the tools of reading and writing were delivered into my eager grasp, found their way onto sheets of ruled tablet.  I recognized the ability to become someone else, to transport myself to another place or time, to empty out emotions and sift through my confused view of a family that rode the roller coaster of dysfunction.  Writing became a sanctuary in which I found safety and comfort.  Handprinted prose penned by a lonely little girl morphed into miniature tomes, tiny volumes that remain in my possession more than a half century later.  It was there I first learned to be brave, to trust the voice that whispered from somewhere deep within, urging me toward the power of language as self expression and preservation.

And so I wrote, encouraged by teachers and adult mentors that glimpsed some promise in the manner in which I wove words together.  English assignments, high school journalism and small town newspapers provided the exercises that led me toward the belief that writing should be my career path.  My daily journals captured the searchings of myself, and guided me through the madness of adolescence and my second decade.

Did I become a successful author?  Obviously not.  Not only did life itself offer too many excuses to step back from burning intentions, the reality of my own ability and talent began to cast shadows on youthful courage when viewed in the arena of truly gifted writers.  The dream faded and fluttered away, even though a desire still beat beneath my breast.

Today I resolve to honor that fragile, blue-eyed child and try again.  I will reach to attain the title of “wordsmith”  that a man I hold in high regard once bestowed upon me.  Good, bad…it doesn’t really matter.  I just hope to be brave again, to listen to the call, to tell my story.  Perhaps someday the words that tumble forth from my keyboard will speak to a heart, ignite a fire, spin magic onto the page.

I’m not quitting!

My blog site is going to expire?!  Really, how can that be?  Impossible, I tell myself, that a year has slipped past since the generous gift from my children that nudged me toward a commitment of written self expression.  Looking back, I likely set the bar too high for myself, thinking that each entry necessitated some illuminating nugget of wisdom or exemplary composition.  It would appear, by the mere half dozen entries for the year, I quite effectively created my own  writer’s block.

Recognizing and owning that fact, I have resolved to resume this journey, determined to be gentle with myself and tell that smirking inner critic to shut the hell up.  As my first act of kindness to my courageous self, a quick review of the initial intentions I set forth one year ago, prompts me to quite enthusiastically proclaim, “Atta girl…good job!”  The lens of retrospect assures me that I did pretty well, and to never mind the shortfalls:

“This year is about me.” I gave myself permission to believe and live this statement, mostly free of self-inflicted/perceived guilt that had dogged so much of my life.  It is not selfish for me to  nurture myself, and it felt really good!

I completed the year long art class in which I had cautiously enrolled, certain that I did not deserve to call myself an artist.  The pleasure I gained by allowing my inner child to explore my creative yearnings was immense.  My artwork is not prime for gallery showing or sale, but I had fun getting paint covered hands and sharing the energy of a a world wide art community.  I have currently signed up for two more year long classes.  Bring it on, 2016!

Relationships.  That’s a big one.  Simply stated, amazing transitions, beyond my greatest hopes have evolved these past twelve months.  Certainly, I do not credit myself with all of the positive changes, but I do acknowledge my role by “recognizing and accepting that I cannot bear the full load of resolving old destructive patterns.”  I’m just not that powerful.  Let go.  Trust the universe.  Incredibly difficult, but an inexplicable calmness settled over my world once I learned this lesson.

I hoped to write a new story.  One which included unity, harmony and love among all those I hold most dear in my heart.  Today I am at the greatest inner peace I have  ever known, and filled with tremendous gratitude.

It has been a good year. Challenges, growth, triumph…it is the stuff of life. The horizon beckons with reassuring brightness.  Renew my blog?  Heck yes!

Perfect seams

It was not until long after she was gone that I realized, or perhaps allowed myself to acknowledge the inadequacies of my mother’s talents as a seamstress. I spent my childhood in appreciative awe of the magical garments that spun forth from her sewing machine, much like gold from Rumpelstiltskin’s spinning wheel. She labored, lost in her creations and dreams, as we children slept or played within earshot of the steady hum of the old Necchi machine. Silently her knee pressed the motor steadily and ever faster, her graceful, tapered fingers guiding the fabric in its path to completion. Piles of dress up outfits,  suitcases of doll clothes, stuffed toys, intricate Halloween costumes, matched seasonal ensembles for her three little girls…they all appeared in a flurry of material remnants and her imagination. I spent my early years, joyfully clad as a nurse, ballerina, bride, elegant lady, and even a cowgirl. Encouraged to indulge my fantasies, I had only to express my desire, and I would find myself transformed into the world of my dreams.
My school years were marked with daily compliments of “I like your dress.” from the girl friends that admired the outfit for which I had stood patiently a day earlier as my mother pinned a newspaper pattern to me, designing the one of a kind garment. It was not until much later that I began to wish for just one dress that came from a store or catalog.
She dressed me for school plays and debate tournaments, high school formals and homecoming queen, beauty pageants and college wardrobe. She sewed my assortment of bridesmaid dresses and my own first ill-fated wedding gown.
Eventually, her love would be delivered in a wrapped brown paper package, to a homesick young bride and expectant mother…maternity smocks and tiny knit sweaters in soft pastels. It was her hands and machine that continued to dress my sturdy little man children in furry bunny suits and jambos, denim overalls and parkas, miniature flannel shirts, engineer hats and cowboy vests.
Full circle.  Mother to child to grandchild. Her sewing machine sang. And then she was gone. There would be no more.

Not once in all that time had I ever really inspected the quality of the garment that clad me and my children. I didn’t turn them inside out to observe the often raw edges of seams and crooked top stitching. I didn’t look because it didn’t matter. My eyes just saw the finery with which she clothed those she loved most dearly. Each stitch echoed the song which must have played in her head as she sped to produce quantity rather than quality. “Hurry, hurry,” it said, “time is short.”
There would be no more tiny he-man shirts, cut from remnants of flannel, pieced together from her imagination and zigzagged with threads of love.
And so I washed and folded them carefully, packed them away, took them out from time to time, caressed the miniature collars, cuffs and buttonholes. Treasures of my heart from the woman that guarded her emotions. I smile at the knowledge that it was never her goal to sew a “perfect” garment, and yet, she did. That was her gift.

Be a good one

I haven’t blogged or journaled in quite a while.  I have been resting.  Just because. Sometimes reflective silence is necessary.  Today, I write.

This morning I read a posting of a casual acquaintance on social media.  This is a man of successful professional stature.  He holds a prominent public position, but has chosen to strip himself bare over the past several months to grapple with the  pain of losing his father, a man of integrity, compassion and leadership.  Having known his father well, I understand the void this man is facing at the  loss of the one major constant in his life.  I understand the floundering emptiness, not because of who his father was, but because I shared the same dazed confusion when I lost my own mother.  I, too, wanted to pick up the phone to call her for words of reassurance to get me through the shock and loss.  Even now, nearly 36 years later, the stab of grief nearly chokes me if I revisit those first moments too closely.  I do understand the pain, the process, but there is something much greater than simply healing and moving forward that I have learned from this experience.

I have many milestone flags by which I mark the passage of my life; when I married, when my sons were born, when we lived in various cities, when I began my career, when it ended.  But, no matter what the time frame of reference, the one demarcation line which never waivers is “Before Mom died” and “After Mom died”.  The power of some things simply never wanes.

We are all just humans, trying to live and love in the best way we know how.  Often, we don’t do it very well.  And yet, in spite of our sometimes stumbling footsteps, it is a likely probability that we may  be that one person in someone else’s life, that person around whom defining moments may be built.  It is a staggering responsibility to contemplate, but one which can only inspire  us to reach for the best within our heart and soul.

“Someday you’ll be just a memory for some people.  Do your best to be a good one.”  So achingly profound and honest, whether it is one person or the world that remembers us.  Perhaps it is the only real truth we need to guide our journey.

Last night I exchanged text messages with one of my oldest friends.  This mother of sons recently lost her young, courageous daughter in law.  Now she  is facing palliative care with her husband of 40 years.  I stood up with my friend when she married this man, and now all I can do is promise her that I am still here if she needs me.

So often we cannot choose or understand the circumstances which we encounter in life.  Many are beyond our control or seem  unfair.  What we can choose is how we grow, and who we become because of these events.

I’m trying to pay attention.  I’m trying to see the beauty and the simplicity, to love imperfectly and unconditionally.   I ‘m trying to be someone that is worthy of good memories.







They weren’t boys

Sony, Maria and Teppi.  They were three flaxen haired, blue-eyed girls with varying degrees of dimples poked into their smooth cheeks.  They were the first born, the last born and the obscure middle daughters.  They were beautiful, innocent, loving and kind.  They were full of hopes, longings and dreams.  But, they weren’t boys.

The son rose one bright July morning, casting a new golden glow across the landscape and causing their world to shift slightly on its axis.  Sony and Maria felt the subtle change, but did not yet comprehend the significance of the unfamiliar light that now permeated their surroundings.  The radiance grew stronger.  Teppi emerged to join the girls, somehow sensing that their combined illumination could never overcome the shadow cast by the brilliant son.

In time it became clear.  There was a special throne, reserved for and accessible to only the son.  Only he would wear the cloak of a prince.

Memory distorts.  Perhaps boxing gloves and sparring commands to “put your dukes up and fight” weren’t really privileges to be coveted.  Perhaps the admonition that to complain about a transgression he had commited would result in punishment for the innocent, would become a crippling belief of arrogance for the protected.

Black and white photos seem to tell no lies.  The boy, bare chested and straining to hold the sagging line of fish in outstretched arms, his jaw set determinedly for the camera.  The boy, crouched on one knee, dark eyes alive with triumph, displaying the spoils of the hunt beside the man and the gun.

The girls watched in baffled silence.

Sony quietly flung her leg across her stick horse and led her rag tag band of neighborhood adventurers down the Cowboy Trail.  Time found her strong bronzed legs across the bare back of a a golden gelding, seeking her own identity in the peaceful countryside.

Maria retreated to the dreamy solitude of her make believe world of dolls, playhouse and doctor satchels.  Eventually, she sought solace and recognition of herself in the written page.

Teppi bravely and stubbornly pursued the position of the absent son, long after the others were gone.  She waded into muddy water, hoping to fill a vacancy that had no replacement.

The son moved steadily toward the far horizon, bathed in the confident glow of his own light. He strode purposefully and without hesitation toward the man he had been trained to be.

The girls became women, good women.  They became wives, mothers, nurturers, artists, caregivers, professionals.  They bore sons and daughters.  They continued to search for what seemed to be lacking in themselves, for an acceptance that eluded their female grasp.

Somewhere the son continued to shine, casting long shadows in his wake.  The strength of his beam diminished as he moved farther into the distance.  The softness of evening approached, and the waning light faded into blue darkness.

As night fell, they were there.  Sony  cradled the calloused fist of steel in her hands.  Maria whispered into the failing ear, “Don’t be afraid.  It’s okay to go.”  Teppi tenderly stroked the grizzled white beard.

They were just girls.




She dreamed of dancing

It returned from somewhere long ago.  Perhaps before time of conscious memory.  It arrived, unbidden and unexpectedly.

Standing quietly with closed eyes, beneath the steaming spray of water, my mind drifts lazily, allowing the stinging heat to massage stiff muscles and course in soothing rivulets down my calves.

With no direction from me, my feet shift position. Looking downward, I  watch mesmerized as they align themselves.  Right foot, planted firmly at a right angle, solidly becoming one with tiled floor.  Left foot, aligned in front of and kissing the right, pointed in the opposing direction.  As though connected to the flow of energy and knowing instinctively what to do, my spine straightens to its full length, slightly arched, shoulders lifted and pulled back. arms poised for the port de bras, neck extended and chin tilted toward the haze of steam that hovers above my head.

It is the fourth position.  Holding the stance, naturally and strong, a wave of recognition and familiarity pours through me.  The sixty-three year old body merges with the mind and heart of a tow headed little girl dreaming of being a ballerina. There had been no expensive leotards or pointe slippers.  Only a tutu sewn from scraps of satin and net by loving mother hands to fuel her child’s burning desire to dance.  There had been no barre, no formal instruction to nudge the awkward legs toward a perfect fouette.  The child simply knew that joy surged from somewhere deep within as she twirled and leaped in her homemade finery.

The sensation melds the before with the now.  It is more being than memory.  It is a moment of of knowing my true self.  Tears seep beneath my eyelids, merging with the cleansing water pouring over my face and down my body, washing away a deep sadness for the lost dreams of the little girl.  Instead, my heart brims with love for that little girl.  Together we will make new dreams and dance our way toward them with joy.

Perhaps tomorrow we will master the plie.


The bluebirds are back


The bluebirds are back.  It feels premature since only the first frosty kisses of winter have chilled our world, and the warm, moist resurgence of spring  hovers weeks away.  Yet, there  they are, the brilliant flashes of azure against the muted, monochromatic backdrop of pasture and trees, now dressed in the hues of burnished leather and worn wood.  Three mated pairs dart quickly from branch to fencepost and back again.  Their arial ballet is graceful and choreographed, defining which couples belong together.

He is a vibrant neptune blue, and the fuschia feathers of his breast are slightly puffed against the cool morning.  She, a subtle, smoky version of his bold attire, flutters gently to perch at his side.  Together, they are the first to land on the weathered  cedar bird house secured atop the  iron fencepost.  Tentatively, he makes his initial inspection, pausing at the  fifty cent piece opening before disappearing inside.  A moment later he emerges,continuing the surveillence of the prospective new home by hopping from roof to step and back to entrance again.

“Go on”, he seems to tell her.  “Take a look for yourself and see what you think.”  She hesitates at the doorway, cocking her head from side to side as though she is evaluating the potential of this shabby little dwelling before darting through the  hole.  In a moment she  pops back out with a haughty flick of her tail and flutters to a branch a respectable distance from the tiny abode.

“Did you see what the last tenants left behind? What a mess!”, her twitter exclaims.

“I know”, he agrees, settling on the twig beside her and brushing against her ruffled plummage  ever so slightly. “But”, he continues reassuringly, “consider this; the roof is pretty good, just a little leaky. It’s a fixer upper, but we can do it.  Most importantly, it’s all about location.  You couldn’t ask for a better spot than atop a steel post. Our eggs will be safe from slithering predators and pesky squirrel neighbors.  It is within a couple of yards of a birdbath AND a fountain!  It sits squarely in a garden filled with seeds, bugs and worms so a quick run for groceries is super convenient. And, when the time comes to push our fledglings out of the nest, we are situated perfectly within a safe harbor of shrubs and low tree branches until they learn how to soar.”

“This place won’t last long,” he cajoles, nudging her gently. “Look at those other two pairs just waiting for us to fly away so that they can come in and stake their claim.  Besides, that other ‘one’, the one that can’t fly, but watches us from the other side of the invisible wall, she seems to want us to raise our family here.  So what do you say, pretty girl? Are you with me?”

She answers him with the slightest tilt of her head, hopping into the little wooden structure.  He is close behind.

We are not so different, these creatures of nature and I.  And yet, I marvel at their beauty and simplicity, their innate knowing of what is right and how to live, their ability to be in the moment, to trust their instincts.  I recognize that they are leaps ahead of me on the path of true freedom and understanding.  I  aspire to learn from them.

The bluebirds are back, and I feel a sense of calm.  I believe that somewhere in this vast universe, the ‘one on the other side of the invisible wall ‘ is watching me, smiling and whispering, “Welcome back.  This is where you belong.”

Back to square one

So,  not quite a week since my daughter in law patiently guided me through a tutorial on how to  navigate this new acquaintance called my blog.  Now, a mere few days later, I sit bewildered on how to continue and  enter a second post without my  computer whiz girl by my side.  A multitude of ideas and thoughts have been on a constant reel through my head, but I haven’t managed to nudge myself out of my ‘safe place’ and actually attempt to put them on ‘cyber’ paper without a coach to lead me through.  And, although I have actually told several people about the fabulous gift of a blog which was bestowed upon me, I have yet to reveal to anyone how to  find it.  Such silly insecurities!

This week has launched 2015. I won’t ruminate on the overused  idea of a new year, opportunity for changes, blah, blah, blah.  A symbolic page did flip on the calendar, to be sure.  But, there is nothing magical about the subtle slide of one day or year into the next.  It is merely the passage of time as we have chosen to define it.  The difference lies in the opportunity, real or created by our mind, to step forward into each sunrise with renewed gratitude for the gift of life and  the conviction to grasp those moments with the determination to use and appreciate them all.

I began this new page in my story by stepping out rather boldly, and doing it in a manner which I will have others to hold me accountable. It is simply too easy to waiver in personal fortitude when making “plans to change”.  Even if I fail in my attempts, I only suffer in my own private guilt.  It is a different situation if someone I love, someone I hold dear, someone I respect, someone I don’t want to disappoint is in my corner.  It steels my resolve to do what I know I am capable of doing.

So, having planted my intentions for 2015 firmly in my mind, I am stepping forward on my journey.  Join me if you wish.  I welcome your love and energy.

Two days into the new year, I declare:

This year will be about me.  It sounds so selfish, but it is time, and I deserve to love and honor myself with the same nurturing spirit that I try to give to those in my world.

Creativity feeds my soul, and I long to give my muse wings.  For that reason, I have enrolled in a year long online art course.  It feels foreign to find myself a part of a vast worldwide community of like minded artists, and I have not yet had the courage to share any of my work or comments on the group forum.  But, I am reading and looking at the posts and marveling at the support and praise that this multitude of strangers is offering to one another.  And, it excites me to know that I belong to that energy, albeit currently silently and somewhat insecure.  But, my confidence will grow, and I anticipate tapping into that well of common creativity.  One of the first lessons led us on a guided meditation to find our “word” for the year, which will lead us in the path we need to go.  Mine is: FREEDOM…to find my true self.

This blog.  It feels so wonderful to write.  It is a gift that has been mine from an early age (at least, that is what I have been told repeatedly by many through the years),and one which has provided me with insight and solace. And, I do believe in my heart that it is one of the greatest talents I possess. To write fills me with such a sense of my own power, the ability to take twenty six letters, formulate them into words and then to set them onto a page in such a way to express an idea, tell a story, speak to someone’s heart…what an incredible capability to have within my grasp.  Perhaps I overrate my ability, but I think not. In addition to being kind to myself this year, I hope to be honest with myself.  And that includes recognizing and embracing my strengths. So, I shall overcome the technical challenges of this media.  I will learn to set up categories  and archive.  I will post pictures.  I will face down my fear.  I will write.

Relationships.  That is an all encompassing challenge, because my relationships swirl around the core of my being, intersecting each other, often tangling the fragile threads that connect them to my heart.  It is a great wish of mine to have unity, harmony and love with all of the relationships in my world.  Such a complicated hope, but one which I will never relinquish.  While I now recognize and accept that I cannot bear the full load of resolving old destructive patterns, I am at peace that I will be  open to whatever hands are extended toward me in love and reconciliation.  I am weary of picking scabs off old wounds or trying to cover a scar of an old injury. I cannot change the past. I want to write a new story.  I began by opening a door that I tried to close many, many years ago.  I did it as honestly and with as much love as I knew how.  Now I am waiting to see if my brother will come through that door.  Either way, I will be at peace.

The rain is beginning to abate. This entry has become long enough. It is time to settle into this moment of serenity and simply be.




The journey begins

A blog.  I have been gifted a blog.  This is , perhaps, simultaneously one of the most exciting and terrifying Christmas offerings that has ever been placed into my hands.

Exciting because it is a declaration from special ones in my life that I have something worthwhile to say and/or share. According to them, it is time for me to bring my light from under the cover of personal insecurities and shine it fearlessly into the world.

Terrifying because, in addition to casting myself into the abyss of cyberspace, I am squaring off with the technical quagmire of computers…a foreign media that gleefully mocks me at every drop down box or on screen command!

To have an arena that belongs to me, a place to express myself, whether it is in written reflection or a joyful picture post that showcases the place that I have come to regard as my own enchanted personal paradise, is, indeed a gift that promises immeasurable freedom and growth.  At the same time, it throws down a gauntlet to search for and embrace my true voice in a manner that is honest and brave.

So, if you are reading this, you are either privy to and have been invited to travel with me on this journey of discovery, or you have randomly stumbled onto this site by strokes on a google search. Whichever the case may be, share it with me or move on to territory that may better meet your needs. You are welcome here, or continue on if you please. Either way, thank you for giving me this moment in your life.

I think I am ready.