Sunday, December 23, 2012


I'm thinking back to that day a few weeks ago when we decorated our Christmas tree.  Carefully packed boxes of sparkling things came in from the cold garage and began to emerge from their long sleep.  Every year we say we will count the ornaments as they go on.  And every year, when all five of us are hanging and decorating we get so involved that we begin to lose track.  We get up to fifty or so and nobody notices that we have lost count until it's too late.

We tried again this year.  Even though years of experience told me how the story would end.  We began to count anyway and just like every time before, we got to the end and we realized we were having so much fun that we forgot to count the ornaments.  We stepped back and look at the finished tree and remarked about how full it is.  How beautiful.  How each year we get so many new ornaments and somehow we find room for them on a tree that is already so full.  So.  Full.

Somehow we make room.

I wish this for you.  In your life.  That as you amass your blessings, you honor the simple act of trying to count, but get so busy enjoying each one that you lose track.  That you notice how each year you get so many new blessings and somehow you find room for them in a life that is already so full.

And act accordingly.

***A note from Susan, the photographer.
I was thinking a lot about what an ornament is the past week and something occurred to me.  An ornament takes something ordinary, like an evergreen tree or a plain package, and makes it beautiful.  Sometimes you don't realize the potential beauty of an object until you adorn it with something special.  I have walked past this statue several times a day, every day for almost a year now and never realized how beautiful it was until there was a dusting of snow on it.  Snow was its ornament and it looked so lovely that it made me stop and photograph something that had always been ordinary.  Until now.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I have been waiting for a sign.  With just hours left in what according to the Mayan calendar will be my last day, I tried hard to see more clearly today.  To be more aware. 

My favorite song came on the radio this morning and just as it ended and I switched the station, and it played again on the new station!  Score!  Must be a sign.

I dropped the lid to the peanut butter jar today...and it landed messy side up.  Rock!  Must be a sign.

I picked up my cell phone to check the time and a person who I have been trying to get in touch with called me just as I grasped it.  Coincidence?  Sign.

However, I also got a mouthful of yuck when the string broke on my tea bag and it broke open into my toasty beverage, slipped on the ice when I went out to get the mail and had some yellow snow blow back into my face as I was shoveling the front walkway this afternoon.  Fail.  Maybe those were signs too.

I think it has to do with what you see and how you see it.  A wise man I know...not one of the 2,000 year old ones, although this will be a big birthday year for him...says, "We all see things with our own eyes."  Very, very true.

I don't really have any concern for the fate of our planet tomorrow, but prophesy of the end of days does cause people to do strange things.  So in honor of the apocalypse, I will conduct myself accordingly and do something I do not ordinarily do.

Quote scripture.  Have I got your attention now?

Proverbs 31:6 directs us to "give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress."

This is our plan for tomorrow.  We are going to gather some of our favorite people, dress all in red...because for some reason my mother thinks red is what the Bible says you're to wear to an apocalypse...sit tight, and wait to see what happens.  Strong drink will most certainly numb the pain of a planetary collapse and if we all survive, we'll have just the provisions to toast our good fortune.

What does this all mean? 

I think there are two lessons to be learned here;

1.  End of days or not, don't stop looking for signs because it helps you to see everything more clearly. 

2.  Close your mouth when you shovel yellow snow into the wind.


There is a spectacular 9 foot Christmas tree in my living room.  It can be seen from more than two blocks away, glowing and festive through our big front window.  True story...nearly 8 years ago when we were shopping for a house, I fell in love with the one we now own because the first thing I imagined when we came up the stairs with the realtor, was a tree, in that window.

Multiple times over the course of the holiday season, people will come into our home and walk right up to it and remark, "Wow!  It's gorgeous.  Is it real?"  And I always respond, "Yes, it is real.  It's a real tree, with lights and ornaments and a bit of dust because it is also artificial.  It is a real artificial tree."

And I love it.

I love that it is 9 feet tall and that it is exactly wide enough to fill the space we have, creating just enough Christmas coziness and no Christmas crowded-ness.  I love that it comes apart in 4 easy pieces and stores away safely in my garage.  I love that from every angle it holds tiny baubles of Christmas memories; vacations, people we love, special events, favorite things.  And I love that it came, preloaded with nearly 1,300 energy saving white lights that save me hours every year by not requiring that I put them on myself and take them off again in January.

But here's the thing about those lights.  Some of them have gone out.  This magnificent tree is on it's 4th Christmas and there are hundreds of bulbs that no longer light.  Some got broken and a few burned out here and there.  On the back of the tree there are 4 large branches that no longer light at all...the whole branch.  Dark.  There's also this one branch on the left that blinks on and off occasionally.  The nutty professor has spent lots of time scraping corroded sockets and moving bulbs around and even he cannot determine why sometimes it blinks on and other times it stays off.

But the dark branches are on the back where nobody will notice them and that crazy on again off again branch...the funny thing is I only notice it when it changes.  All of a sudden it will come on I will laugh because I hadn't noticed before that something wasn't working as it should.  We found the tiny bag of replacement bulbs and tried to fill some of the holes, but the new bulbs stuck out like sore thumbs because they were so much brighter than the old ones that had been dimmed by 4 years of Christmas twinkling.   Those empty sockets are sprinkled here and there all over the tree and it really doesn't seem to matter.

There is a spectacular 9 foot Christmas tree in my living room.  It can be seen from more than two blocks away through our big front window.  It gives off the most perfect glow when the rest of the house is dark.  There are hundreds of bulbs on this tree that no longer light...but it doesn't matter.

The tiny details don't always change the big picture.

This is how I'm living.

Monday, December 17, 2012


 When all that's left is the shell of what once was, where is the joy?  
When all you hear is the clamoring and the bickering, who speaks of joy?  
When everywhere you look there is damage, how can you find joy?  

This is the truth of where we find ourselves.
Surrounded by wreckage. 
...after a December Friday with so much loss.  The wreckage is sacred ground.  
And someday the rebuilding will have to begin.  
Love and joy are the foundation blocks.

My own child asked me, "Will they have Christmas in Connecticut this year?"  
I started to respond with a complicated, adult type of answer.  An answer wrapped up with all of my grown up baggage about motherhood and love, mental illness and being safe at school, holidays and how hard it is to struggle with loss.  
And then I stopped.

Answer the question you have been asked.

"Yes, Love.  They will have Christmas in Connecticut this year."

Love and joy are the foundation blocks.

A father in Newtown was asked, "Can your town recover from this?"

He replied, "We're going to have to.  We have so many children left."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Yes is not maybe.
Yes is not I'll try.
Yes is not I might.

Yes is not probably.
Yes is not possibly.
Yes is not perhaps.

Yes is not it could be.
Yes is not there's pretty good chance.
Yes is not it's likely.

So many other words to choose from...
don't say yes unless you mean it.

Yes is I will.
Yes is I am.
Yes is I do.

Yes is yes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


It's a tragic story really...

A troubled teen wildly overreacts to the empty threats of an elderly neighbor and runs away from home.  No mention is ever made of her parents contacting the local authorities or making any attempt to locate their missing child so we are left to assume she was unwanted to begin with.  She encounters some catastrophic weather and loses conciousness for an unknown period of time when she hits her head during the storm.  Upon waking, she discovers that she has unknowkingly committed a homicide during her blackout.

She is pursued by the grieving relative of the deceased and receives a tip from a local charlatan about a man that can help her get out of town quickly.  Walking the dizzying streets of this unfamiliar city, she is serenaded by some suckers singing about a world made of doughnut holes, attacked in the woods and ultimately duped into joining a gang of hoodlums who it turns out are victims of organ trafficking and psychological warfare.  They too are directed towards this local ring leader who might know how to procure them some replacement organs.

After several encounters with dangerous wildlife and an opium trip that lasts for an undetermined amount of time, the teen and her gang locate the residence of the man they seek.  The plan to flee the city undetected nearly fails when he is exposed as an imposter and turns out to be a completely incompetent imbecile that tries to distract the teen from his deception by suggesting she ruin a perfectly good pair of shoes by bashing the heels together and destroying the red glitter.

Then she wakes up and it turns out it was all a dream.  Or a bad trip.  The truth is perfectly unclear.

Things are not always what they seem.  Are they Dorothy?

Wicked right?

Monday, November 26, 2012


There's something amazing about letting go of the outcome and learning how to be better at the Now.  The Here.  The During.

Falling takes you from one place to another place.

Whether it was an accident or a planned departure, a leap of faith or a calculated exit, a jump in with both feet or a heel slip over the edge.  Falling takes you somewhere.

Falling makes me feel isolated.  I'm all alone in this.  How did I get here?  When will it be over?  I don't always know what to look for when I'm trying to stop falling.  I  see people standing next to me in line, or sitting across the table from me and they look so still.  So grounded.  They don't even realize, that on the inside, I'm crashing right in front of them.

I tend to hold it all in.  I think I'm trying to protect people.  To preserve their joy.  And I absolutely am not helped by the, "It will all work out.  You'll be fine.  You'll get through this." comments.  I don't want people to feel bad for me.  That.  Does.  Not.  Help. 

I have started to write about falling.  That seems easier.  For me.  It's still isolated because I get to roll it all out at my own pace and it's less messy.  It took awhile for me to be ready to write about struggling because I was afraid of the half-hearted commentary again.  I shouldn't have been afraid.

The posts that I've written that have received the most comments are the ones about falls and struggles.  But readers didn't say, "You're strong, you'll be fine.  This will pass.  It will all work out."  They didn't say that.  They said, "Thank you for sharing.  I've been there.  I'm there now." 

And it helps.  But not for the reasons I expected.  It's quite amazing really. 

Sometimes, it seems to me, the help you find at the end of your own arm isn't there because you cried out for someone to save you.  More often the hand is there because that person was falling right along beside you.  They know how it feels.  They are there too and they simply extended their hand.  I'm down.  You're down.  But we're not out yet.  It's not over yet.

There's something amazing about letting go of the outcome and learning how to be better at the Now.