Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow Angels Exist

A year and a half ago, my exhusband moved out of the house and sold the snowblower he had bought the previous winter. It wasn't a big deal to me at the time--it was too large for our house anyway, and he really needed the money to make the move. But when the first winter came without it--and without his help to shovel the long driveway--I wasn't so happy about his decision. I made it through the winter: paying the 17-year-old neighbor across the street some cash, and even ran out the door in my pajamas one morning to throw some money at the landlord who owns the house next door in exchange for a clear driveway. I had other help--the woman next door in her 80s would run her snowblower across the sidewalk between us and make a single path up my driveway so I could at least escape city fines and walk out of the house without needing to change my jeans. And I even once borrowed the snowblower from my friend across the street--and we promised each other we'd go in on brand new one two share for next winter.

Well next winter is here. The first major snow was overnight and I rushed to work the next morning--not getting my shovel out until dark just to do the sidewalk, and then three days later to clean up the driveway. But today, the snow's been falling steadily for nearly 24 hours. It's beautiful to watch out the window--covering everything in a glittery white. And even when I went outside to begin the shoveling, I couldn't resist picking the fluffy snow up in my hands--so light it seemed fake.

I began the shoveling job by creating a path from the back door to the garage--just enough so I could walk to the car with ease. And then I began on the driveway. My heart has been weary lately, so I had to stop every couple of rows to take a breath or two--it tires easily, I believe, because it is carrying so much worry instead of Trust. But I kept on--and while I worked thoughts passed and some I would hold on to for a minute, some I would let go of. "Maybe I should move to a warmer climate" or "maybe living in an apartment downtown would save me from the job of shoveling." And then other thoughts came and went as I watched my neighbor with her old snowplow and thought about how the houses on this end of my street are all owned by women who take care of things on their own: their houses, their kids, themSelves. And I thought about how lucky we are that we are such capable women, and also how lucky we are to have people who support us in many different ways. We may not have partners helping us shovel or snowblow our driveways, but we have family to celebrate with, neighbors to laugh with, and kids to keep us young-at-heart.

And as I'm thinking these thoughts, a truck with a plow hitched to its front end drives down my street. I stop to watch as its driver slows and I think "it would be amazing if he backed up and plowed my driveway." Almost in tandem with my thoughts, the driver hit reverse and pulled into my driveway. I looked up at him--covered in snow, red shovel in my hand--and smiled. "Let me help you with that," he shouted down to me. And I watched, wide-eyed and full of awe as he pushed and pulled the snow and drove off. "THANK YOU," I yelled into the air, his truck already making the turn off my street. And I laughed--big open laughter--and said to myself, "I'm the luckiest girl in the world!"

I finished the sidewalk in minutes, exchanged awed conversation with my neighbor, hung up the shovel and cried. So very, very grateful to the Snow Angel that helped me today and reminded me that support and love is out there in so many different ways. We are not alone. Not one of us. The world is full of just the people and opportunities we need. If you believe that what you need will come to you, if you Trust that magic can happen--then it will.

May we all be blessed in the new year. Cheers.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


I must get behind the purpose of my preoccupation with food. I found myself in a silent battle next to my parent's refrigerator this afternoon with my nose deep inside a Ziploc baggie. The brisket from last night's dinner was carefully laid out on slices of challa bread, topped with cheese, pickles, mayo, and ketchup. The scent was a memory: my favorite sandwich from my childhood. My mind flooded with thoughts of my father (who was sitting in the next room eating the other half of the sandwich from the baggie) and the bites I used to take off his lunch, cuddled up on the couch on a weekend afternoon as he watched TV. There is a closeness, an intimacy, connected to the scent of this brisket sandwich and I wondered what it was I actually craved.

Did I salivate because my body is signaling some need for brisket--its scent causing a hunger I've not experienced in quite some time, or was it merely the intimacy and tradition connected to the sandwich? I didn't know. I still don't. All I know is that for nearly three years I've been preventing myself from eating meat for a variety of reasons, and now for the last three months every time I smell Shay's fried chicken in her cubicle on Wednesdays or the flank steak my parent's seem to serve whenever my boyfriend comes to dinner, I salivate, battle, and leave meal time in an irritated state.

"What would happen if I ate it?" I continue to ask myself.

Would I have a panic attack because, originally, I had stopped eating meat out of fear? Fear of illness and creating a sense of control. Would I get sick--the pain in my phantom gallbladder erupting again? Would I forgive myself for breaking a rule I made? And if I made that rule, aren't I the one who can change it?

Last week I left work because I wasn't feeling well. I treated myself to a tai chi yoga massage from a dear friend who began his practice a few months ago. It was amazing. In the midst of it, I fell into a meditative state and as I paid a little attention to the thoughts coming and going by, I noticed there was a theme. There is sacredness to all living things and this idea is important to me. It is also an adjacent meaning behind my refusal to eat meat. But there is also the idea of appreciation. I couldn't remember the last time I gave thanks for a meal, and I knew this was a place I needed to start. Instead of fighting my food, I need to be grateful for it. Gratitude will bring a different energy to the table--or as is often the case--to my standing in the corner of the kitchen. Gratitude for the sacredness of the food, the energy, the nourishment that is before me.

My boyfriend recently told me a few stories about his meals in East Africa that he had experienced. In these stories I learned that he had bought live animals at the market, learned how to slaughter them, and then cook them for his meals. He also shared with me that he was taught special prayers to give thanks and honor the animal before the slaughter--understanding that their life was a gift to him for his nourishment. Now, I could go into all sorts of details about the problems I have with the power principal here, but I won't. The point is, that there is a sacredness to each and every living thing and to be grateful for it makes a difference in my mind.

Now, will it make a big enough difference for me to change my eating habits again? That remains to be seen, but as I lay in my meditative state last week those were the thoughts that gently floated by: that there was something in the meat my body needed, and that if I gave thanks to the animal who was going to fill that need for my body, then it would be okay.

Ah, this all sounds a little crazy, I know. But I struggle with making sense out of the purpose of my condition. I don't even remember what it feels like not to care about what I was eating...and I don't mean that in a gluttonous or immature kind of way, but just to be able to sit down with a plate of healthy food with good flavors and eat it without worry of one sort or another would just be unbelievably freeing...

Fear of Food

Monday, November 8, 2010


I keep wanting to retell the story
to capture the moments leading up to the first kiss:
The broken glass, the gentle rain, the train whistle
--and the hints of spring
the feel of your corduroy jacket on my fingertips
as I lace my hand through the crook of your arm and ask, "is this all right?"

It is more than all right.

I keep wanting to relive the dance
in kitchen of the rented cottage on the lake.
Freeing me from fears and
quietly scribbling freedom across the inside of my wrist
so that I can remember what it is like to choose
at any given moment, what it is I desire--and then live it.
and across the waves I say, "I really like you."

I more than like you.

I keep wanting to replay the song
our voices mingling through the air
--alighting a room of people who shared the moment
the story; the dance
watching me, watching you. with eyes that say:
Yes, I too, more than like you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Early this morning, thanks to the marvels of the Internet, a friend I've not seen in more than fifteen years posed a question on the Facebook status I posted about being okay. "Are you centered, too?" she asked "Are you grounded?"

Indeed, I am not--as illustrated by my trip to the MD's office yesterday afternoon--my first in years. If I were grounded, centered, balanced--well then, I wouldn't be feeling foggy or like I'm falling, and then panicking about the fact that I feel that way. At work yesterday, right before eating lunch I felt light-headed and out-of-it. I figured it was probably low blood sugar, having only had coffee and a banana for breakfast and a tootsie-pop for a mid-morning snack. So I ate a protein-packed garden burger, voraciously, and waited for the feeling to fade. When it didn't, I worried. My heart raced, my fingers and toes tingled, my breath quickened. I got up to walk to my friend Shay's cubicle and felt like I was falling over. When I got to her extra chair, I didn't want to move again.

I'm usually quite good at calming myself down, having had years of practice. As I sat in Shay's cube, I focused on my breathing, I massaged my neck over the aortic artery to slow my heart-rate, I distracted myself by helping Shay with the work she was doing on her computer. But each time a new wave of fog passed through me, I panicked again. And then I cried. Right there in cubicle land for all passersby to see. Another coworker who asked if I was okay, called the head of the first responders team in the building who came to look me over. It was utterly embarrassing, and at the same time relieving--somebody else was in charge.

Eventually it was decided that I should see the doctor just to get my vitals checked, and since I didn't feel I could drive, I called my mom who left her busy work schedule to come get me. I cried more. By the time I reached the office, I was steady but weak. 

Shay texted me: Feeling any better yet? call or txt when you can.

I replied: I'm ok. I think I just overdid the "I can handle this."

And I can handle this. This of course being the new formation of family. With my exhusband now living 800 miles away, and my worries in the middle of the night about how the kids will be affected, how they will navigate long visits with their father over school breaks and summer, how I will survive their absence when they go, it's no wonder I feel like I'm falling and stumbling through a blinding fog.

I know, deep down, that we'll all be okay. We are tremendously good at surviving. But for some reason yesterday, the weight was too much, and I was thankfully lifted by friends, family, and coworkers. I can't do this alone, and I am lucky that I don't really have to. The village comes to me when I need it--and I need to do better at asking for it. I need to turn "I  can handle this," into "We can handle this, and I'm so thankful that you are here." 

I need to handle my Self with as much care as I handle my children. I need to ground myself--my spinning thoughts, my eating vending machine lunches, my stiff and trembling body letting me know that even though I'm taking measures to slow down, there are other things I need to pick up to support mySelf. To ground myself.

And my kids wake now to start a new day. My son is always first to hug me in the morning with the strongest of arms, and I'm reassured with a new day. A little nervous, too, but I'll get through this day. And the next. And the next. And soon, it won't just be "getting through," it will be rising above with my feet firmly planted.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


"I don't need you to follow in my footsteps," I tell her. 
"I need you to take your own steps."
This is all of the conversation she wants to hear, 
But it is enough.
Like the time I told her:
"Your greatest gift to me is for you to Love yourSelf."

And I tell her this because I fear that I don't love enough. 
Because I don't love myself enough. 
Because I can not be who I think I should be, 
and instead am working on Loving who I am.
and wishing everyone else could too.

Like the Yoko Ono wish tree in D.C.
That's what I wrote: Peace can only be found
If each individual in this world Loved themSelves
well then, there would be no space for hate,
for fear,
for anger,
for jealousy.
These things would become obsolete.

Wouldn't that be nice?

Monday, October 4, 2010

This Too, Shall Teach

I am trying to remember that this, too, shall pass. I feel stuck and frustrated much of the time--a common theme in my life, especially right before a big shift. And I am trying to go easy on myself, because I get scared that I will spiral downward every time I don't feel like getting out of bed, or when I cry--consistently--about the claustrophobia of my job, or when I stuff myself with M&Ms regardless of whether or not I actually want to be eating them.

Having seen myself in bad shape before, I know the signs and I know that I am lucky to have people in my life to reach out to and experiences to hold in my heart reminding me of how far I have come. Like the fact that I no longer deadbolt my door at night, look out the window, and worry about who is lurking outside only to come back and check again hours later. Or that I no longer stay up late and watch TV until I fall asleep because it is the only way for me to get relief from my thought patterns. Or that I no longer starve myself out of fear that what I eat will make me sick, and that my hands no longer bleed daily because I have killed yet another layer of skin with hand sanitizer or scalding hot water.

So I realize I have made great progress, but there is still work to be done.

Last night, after I lifted a piece of flank steak my dad had cooked to my nose and breathed in its delicious scent, I was asked why I didn't just take a bite (I've not eaten meat in years--after having deleted it from my diet because it was deemed--in my mind--unsafe). The question comes up for me more often now as my cravings for meat become stronger. Two days ago, I nearly took a bite of my daughter's chicken nugget. I thought to myself "I could just take a bite. I could chew it and I could taste it and then I could spit it out," and as I type those words I know that it sounds ridiculous, but in my head it makes sense that it wouldn't harm me if it didn't make it to my stomach.

And so last night, as I salivated and cut the steak in pieces for my daughter, my mom says to me, "You could have gotten professional help, you know. Actually, you still can," and I remind her that I had been seeing both a therapist and a nutritionist at the time I was at my worst. She struggled along with my struggle, as mothers do, because I insisted on helping myself in "nontraditional" ways. Instead of popping pills, I dug into an exploration of what purpose this new anxiety served. I came up with a lot of things, actually, many of which you can read about in other essays and here on my blog. And doing that helped, a great deal, and I believe created more sustainable change, as my life is richer and my relationships with people more open and honest.

So on days like today, when I struggle, I remind myself that I handled things in my own way and I've gotten better, but I also know "full recovery" is not a term I can use. I am  uncertain that it is a term that would ever even make sense because I can't go back to not knowing things I now know. I can't go back to being who I was before I became afraid of food. I created a whole new set of rules and regulations and habits around food--many of them actually good habits--and I don't feel like it's even possible to have the same relationship I had with food prior to this experience of fear. Nor do I want to, because of who I have become as a result.

This experience is a great teacher, and I remember this, too as my frustration grows. These days I am tired, a lot. I am tired because my life is very full of activity, and I am tired because I don't serve my body well. I am tired because I am not writing enough, and I am tired because I eat cinnoman rolls for breakfast. I am tired, because I give out my energy to Others, and I am tired because I don't reserve enough for myself. But this too, shall pass, and I will remember to take my own advice and that is:

to Be here. Now.

to Love my Self as fully as I love Others.

to be patient with Change.

to take walks or make phone calls when the broken record in my mind begins to weigh me down.

to remember I'm better than I was, and tomorrow will be greater.

to Let Go of expectation.

to get out of my own Way (by acknowledging and then releasing Fear).

and to Breathe.

Friday, September 24, 2010

On Education. Part 1?

I just began listening to an audio recording of a program called Purpose2Prosperity created by my friend Laura Rice. I have been poised, for a long while now, to get clear about my career. I'd been an English teacher on and off for six years--focusing mainly on at-risk teenagers with whom I connected with easily, and passionately.

But the system drained me. I wasn't there for content and discipline, nor could I consistently create lesson plans. Instead, I wanted to open my students up, to show them their brightest lights, to get them to understand that the circumstances that brought them to their current place were not the end of the line. And it wasn't that education was going to necessarily free them from the bondage of deadbeat parents or poorly run special education programs, it was more a desire that they find inspiration, that they find something they love, that they begin to care about something--anything--and create it, become responsible for it, nurture it.

But I couldn't do it within the confines of detention slips and test scores. I couldn't do it with three kids of my own at home who demanded and deserved my attention just as much as my kids at school. I just couldn't do it any longer.

So I quit.

And I've had some great jobs in the meantime: freelance writing, editing for an educational publishing company, and now writing for a major corporation. I've also come back to my passion for music and writing: publishing articles and essays as well as performing original music and singing for two bands.

And yet, I'm still not balanced. I'm still spending a majority of my time in a cubicle doing work that does not fulfill my passions, and dreaming about the time when I will be rewarded--monetarily--for creating and doing what truly inspires me.

So I met with Laura--it had been years since we last talked--and she generously pointed me in the direction of her program. And I began to listen tonight with an intensity I hadn't had before. An openness, once again, to the idea that I can figure out my purpose, that I can live my passion, and that I can prosper at it. And as I listened, she spoke about passions and she began to list examples of possibilities: "earning that 6-figure income" or "starting up a business of your own." And then there's the one that stopped me: "open up an experiential school for children." And I was immediately in tears.

When I entered my graduate program for secondary education, I did so with the idealistic dream that one day I would open my own school. My school would have the kids no one else wanted. My school would develop the whole student--in whatever creative or analytical manner that was. My school would be crawling with connective energy--each person feeding off the ideas of another. But when I got my first teaching job my brother--who had been teaching for ten years at that point--told me to throw my idealism out the window. I just didn't want to buy it, I told him, and I dove in anyway only to crack under its pressure.

Earlier today I read the speech of a high school valedictorian who spoke out against the system of public schooling. So this idea that Laura mentioned, of opening up a school for experiential learning, comes on the tails of this article today. My thinking was already focused on this idea that the public school system has long awarded the drones of societal youths and beaten down its most creative. I, myself, have played the school game and even earned a Master's degree in the process. There is great value in education, but what kind of education is the most valuable and to whom? And why now--when I've sworn off returning to the classroom and dreamed of writing my book, is this idea back in my head?

Why? Because I am a teacher. I was, and always will be.

And I wonder how this will play out in my next steps. I may not ever find myself back in a public school classroom, but I will teach in other ways. I must. I know this now.

And I'm thankful.

For more information about Laura Rice and Purpose2Prosperity go to

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Image of Body

I've put on more than 20 pounds in the last two years. The first ten, many will tell you, I needed. The second ten, however, I didn't. But in the grand scheme of things they are just numbers, sizes, extra flesh and fat covering my body that is still sexy, still looks good in the right dress and a fine pair of boots, that is still considered to be in pretty good shape--especially three kids later.

And most days, I am content with it. My body serves me well, and is certainly only one part of the whole quantum structure--including thoughts, feelings, and mechanisms of life--that contain me. But today, I am torn between being a woman who doesn't let societal standards of beauty define me and a woman who stares at the thickening upper arms in the mirror and wonders how I got back there. The linebacker.

My mom used to tell the story about when I was a baby and the doctor examining me for my check-up commented on my wide shoulders and sturdy one-year-old frame. "She could be a linebacker," he chuckled. And we always laughed at the retelling of it.

The reality is that I was never really overweight until after my second child--despite the teenage chatter about my thighs being too thick, or my belly curling over my jeans only when I leaned over (if only that were the case now!). Sure, I put on weight with my first baby, but I was young and active--and while I never went back to those pre-baby jeans, I certainly retained a healthy weight for a young twenty-something.

With my son, it was different. I was closer to 30 and craved hot dogs and big macs. I put on pound after pound in my second trimester after my doctor warned me that I wasn't putting on enough weight. A year after he was born, I was still 40 pounds over my natural weight and miserable. It was the pain from my diseased gallbladder than finally kicked in the weight loss--foods high in fat triggered a pain comparable to labor and as I waited six weeks for surgery, I dined on only the finest vegetables, fruit, and bread. Even lean meats would induce a daggering effect under my ribcage--and the weight fell off, and continued to fall for three months until I became pregnant with my third child.

And the weight climbed, steadily and healthily--just as it should when nurturing a new life. And I didn't worry about the weight. I ate well, and gained well, and after my baby was born I set my sights on fat-free foods and just right portions.

And then I got sick. Real sick, and the lines began to blur between my state of mind, my body's reactions, and the motivations behind not only my physical digestive ailments, but also the psychological beginnings of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in which I had thought germs were contaminating my food. (Read other details of my experience with this here.) There are so many different facets of what began as the flu and what ended as some strange mix of OCD and Anorexia, that I have spent the last two years pulling out each piece and examining it. This piece here, I'm realizing, is the body image part--which until recently, I didn't think was actually involved.

But as I struggle to fit into the jeans I bought six months ago, and I resist putting on the pants that I swam in two years ago, I understand that I truly wish to be thinner. I look at photos of myself (there are not many) when I was at my lowest weight in the winter of 2008, and I long to see the bones of my hips and wrap my hands around my upper thigh until my thumbs touch. But I know--also--that I was not well. My body may have been thin, but it wasn't healthy.

I was having heart problems, pain and odd rhythms, enough so that I had to wear a heart monitor for 30 days which recorded every palpitation that luckily came out to be harmless as far as heart disease and such was concerned, but it was a signal that my electrolyte balance was off. Nutritionally, I was not feeding my body enough calories, and so the amount of energy I was expending daily was akin to running a marathon. In less than six months my body mass index (BMI) went from 24% to 18%--the low end of the "normal" scale, and was the signal to my physician that I needed to see a nutritionist to make sure I was eating enough. Which, of course, I shamefully knew I wasn't.

And so I would look at that thin body in the mirror and tell myself it wasn't good, even though I felt that I looked fabulous in my new jeans and my niece's skin tight tanks and tees. But I was cheating, and I was miserable. Anxiety ridden at every meal and without any appetite to speak of, I forced myself to eat so I wouldn't kill myself slowly. Other things began to change--outside elements that healed my aching heart and cleared my cluttered mind--and I gained new perspective. I began feeling hunger again. I began feeling other things, too, like desire and happiness. And all this helped. I was eating consciously, but healthily, and slowly I'd introduce different forbidden foods back in my diet.

But now I'm finding--as the scale tips in the other direction--that so has my appetite, and also my feeling of once again being out of control of what I am eating. Stuffing myself with sugar in many forms: cookies, candy, sweetened teas and feeling like I can't shut off the valve. The numbers on the scale climb back up and the majority of the clothes in my closet don't fit, but I don't understand it because I always likened overeating with a state of unhappiness, and I'm certainly not unhappy these days. Instead, I am now beginning to understand that my relationship with food goes beyond the markings of the scale, beyond the last few years and my struggle with OCD, and even beyond the linebacker comments of my early childhood. Instead of nutritional need, food has a place in my life as something that controls me, or needs to be controlled. It is manipulation. It is comfort. It is greed. It is love. It is loneliness. It is sex.

And so this isn't really about body image after all. It is about my ability to redefine, once again, the role that food plays in my life. To understand that my discomfort with my growing waistline is more about being out of control than it is about being overweight, and to try and understand that. My body is the vessel within which my soul moves about in the physical world. It is the piece that ties me between the spirit and the earth, and it deserves as much attention, love, and nurturing as the rest of me--no matter what shape or size I may be.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

October Choices

I've recently gotten to the point where life gets in the way of passion. Where I long to write, but stare at a blank page while my mind races with things left undone. Where I feel no desire to play, to sing, to dance--until I'm in the midst of doing those things, of course. And I am reminded that in order to be our best Selves, sometimes it takes a little force, a little dragging, and often a lot of patience and acceptance of the times in which we feel the need to retreat, once again, deeper into ourselves.

Last fall I wrote an article for a local magazine, Little Village, that discussed fall as a time of gathering and retreat. It's not only the animals that forage and store up for winter; It's not only the trees that drop their leaves and turn themselves inward. It is people, too. And so I've learned to go with the feelings of retreat and not worry that there is something wrong if I no longer wish to stray from home on a Saturday night--even if it will be my last chance to do so for a while. I've come to greet the turning inward as a time to digest the whirlwind of summer, to reflect on what's come before and make choices about what I wish will be.

Choices. We have them. Always.

The choice to embrace change, or the choice to fight it. Last year I wrote a song called October. At its core, it's a song about transitions. And while the word "October" doesn't actually occur once in the entire song, it embodies some of the bigger changes my personal life has gone through--many of which in the last few years began in the month of October. On the first of October in 2004, my now former husband and I bought our first house. In October of 2005--right around Halloween, we found out I was pregnant with my third child. Two years later, in the month of October--my husband and I separated. The following year, in October of 2008, our divorce was legally finalized, and a year after that, again on the first of October, I bought his share of our home and became sole owner.

But this October will bring a different change. While my boyfriend's car sits in my driveway awaiting his October return, my exhusband is back in my home--temporarily sleeping in the basement. By October 1st he will be gone--taking a job a few states away, and hoping the space will provide him with a much needed new outlook. His leaving will mark a new era for our children, as they negotiate living with a long-distance father, and I know the change will affect each of his children in different ways.

I also know that there is much that I could fear, but that I am making the choice not to. I've had advice from friends and family members who insist that I see a lawyer right away--they worry he will take the kids, or not pay me enough money. They worry that I will be left either with everything, or nothing. They worry, and I understand their worries, but I can not swim in them. In order to keep my Self--and my children--afloat in the next big transition I must continue to rely on the strength that has gotten me through each big change in my life. That strength comes from a faith in knowing that good will prevail, that I don't need to spend my time fretting about what COULD happen, and rest in the knowledge of what IS happening and what my choices are within that space.

And what IS happening is a shift in relation. Despite our differences, I know that he is a good man who is making the choices he believes are going to help him become a better person. I know that our children will survive, not without bumps and bruises, but with a whole lot of wisdom--and a community of friends and family who will continue to help me care for them daily. I know, that at the end of the day, what matters most is how I choose to react to the change.

My children will take cues from me on how to choose to react. The most important choice being that I allow them to feel their feelings, and also that I show them strategies to shift those feelings with a change in thought, in scenery, in music. I could choose to be angry that I'm left doing it "alone" or I can revel in the fact that I get to be with my children, and that I'm loved and supported by others who get to be with them, too. I'm no fool. There will be days when all I will want to do is howl and scream, when the kids will act up and the money won't replace the man, when I've not had a moment to myself for weeks and I'll feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. But those times, too, will become lessons learned. They will be moments to let flow and rise above. Moments to feel and then heal. Moments to rely on the love of others, and the strength of family and friends.


I can choose to suffer alone, or I can be strong enough to know when I can't do it mySelf.


I can choose to be afraid, or I can choose to Trust that everything will work out just fine.


I can choose to believe that my children--and even I--would be lost without him in our daily lives, or I can choose to believe that the distance will provide a space in which understanding and compassion can prevail.

So this fall, as the weather cools and I once again look forward to spending most of my evenings at home, I have much to reflect on. And it is my hope that reflection will give birth to a new kind of strength--the kind of strength that surpasses my fingertips in order to hold together the hearts of my children.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Mind Over Matter

For the last few years I have diligently managed to prevent illness in multiple ways. At first, it was the manic hand-washing and careful observation of what touched my mouth, ears, and eyes. Around the same time, I was also doing some heavy reading on the Law of Attraction, The Secret, and a book called, Feelings Buried Alive Never Die (see my earlier post about books, here), and I began visualizing myself in a protective bubble of sorts--imagining that the energy around me was filled with golden light. I'd place that bubble on my kids, too, each morning as I dropped them off to school, or before they entered the infamous "germ pit" play area at the mall.

But as I dug deeper into my beliefs about mind over matter--essentially putting to test my fear of germs against what I knew to be true about illness in the body--I didn't need those outside forces to keep me healthy. In my new world view, it is trouble in the Soul--the Self, the Spirit--that sends signals to the body. The signals often come through subconscious memory, to the mind, and lastly rest in the body. The headache is a signal that something isn't going quite right--often, that there is resistance to whatever is occurring in the Now, and the task then becomes one of figuring out what is amiss in your heart and mind, rather than how many milligrams of Execedrin to take. The scratchiness in the throat is more about the hurts you've swallowed, or the anger you've not expressed moreso than because Strep throat is going around the neighborhood. And while I certainly don't discount germ theory entirely, or the magic of a pill from time-to-time, what's more important to me is the knowledge that my body can heal itself--quickly and completely--when I've tended to my higher Self and taken the time and space to heal through meditation, imagery, and sometimes even the help of my Doctor. She is a doctor who works to clear interference: the energy that gets in the way of the body's ability to heal.

And this is how I've operated for a long time now. While those around the office hack through winter months, and friends recount stories of stomach bugs being passed around the home, I feel confident that because I am spiritually healthy--and because I pay attention to my own body's signals (they come first in the form of feelings, and if ignored--aches) that I am able to continue a state of health. It's been a wonderful way of being, and I understand not only how to maintain a state of health--but also ways to shorten the duration of an illness I may get--without the use of antibiotics or cold medicine.

I am very thankful to have this strong belief about my body's ability to be healthy and heal itself, and so I was caught a little off guard a few weeks ago when I woke on a Monday morning with a sore throat and developed a low-grade fever by Tuesday. After a day full of rest, I was nearly back to complete health but I still could not pinpoint the moment in which my immune system could not work its magic any longer. I could not consciously figure out what was stirring so deep inside that my body was ailing so much.

In the end, I came up with this: I had been overloaded with the idea that I had to stay in a 9-5 job to keep my family afloat financially, and the thinking was causing me to feel very restricted. I want to change the idea that I can not make money doing what I love (writing, music, making connections with artists of all kinds) and because the desire to change what I am doing is so strong, my resistance to where I am Now career-wise is even stronger. In my fight came misery; in my misery came poor health. It was as if my Soul was saying: "You want out so bad right now? Fine, here you go. You're too sick to go to the office today, and again tomorrow." So I got out of sitting in my cube for a couple days, but I also didn't have the energy to do anything else. I cried hard at one point, understanding that if I want to move from Here to There, that I've got to appreciate what I have Now and step up, instead of continually fighting against what I'm "required" to do. In order to attract the experiences and people in to my life that will allow me to be a stable financial and emotional source for my family, I must feel those possibilities, believe in them, and at the same time be grateful for the road that gets me there: including the cubicle in which I dare to dream.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


It came in little waves of inspiration, not one big "A-ha!" moment. And while I sometimes expect that breakthroughs will be like that: that I will come to see new perspectives and new ideas in some profound and dramatic way, I've come to realize that it is in the simple, quiet moments that the Truth appears.

I have a job to do, and that is to continue seeking Joy. And in my acceptance of that job, I will continue to learn and teach others how to do the same. We are here for that. Joy is our purpose. Learning is our purpose. Love is our purpose. And there is no need to fear that. No need to "wait for the other shoe to drop" or hover over the idea that if it's good now that something bad will inevitably come along.

No. What is good is good. It is just so. And being fully in the Good, just means more good will come.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


For most of my life,
I have let Fear define me.

Now: it is my fearlessness,
my freedom,
and my faith
in Love.

For that, I am grateful

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Picking Up the Pieces

After a disaster, or some sort of nature-made upheaval, there is a time in which you step back and survey the destruction. After the recent storm here in Iowa, a short-lived thunderstorm that toppled over trees and powerlines, pieces of my roof were ripped off. I took pictures of the scattered tiles around my backyard and made the appropriate calls to the insurance company. The kids and I piled up all the tiles we could find, I thanked my lucky stars that the roof was mostly in tact and there was no water leaking into the house, and then off we went to a movie. The clean-up was pretty much out of my hands: my dad took care of meeting with the roofers later in the week while I was at work, and a few days later it was fixed.

But the aftermath of my divorce has been a little different. There are no insurance companies to call and no clean-up crew. And after three years apart, and only one year living under different roofs, the debris is still scattered across my house--which used to be our house--and I can't get motivated enough to pick through it all at once, so it comes in waves.

Like tonight.
By now, things that were once "ours" are relegated to the basement storage room. It's a mess. There are boxes everywhere, and even just piles of random stuff lying on the floor: photo albums, books, kids' items that they have outgrown or will one day make it into a scrapbook--if I ever get around to making those.

I went in the storage room to look at my old computer, a Gateway my parents had bought me when I was a single parent living with them while in graduate school. I got out of bed to see if my old PC had an ethernet port in it--having some idea about connecting it to my cable modem and rehooking up my wireless router so that I could carry my mac around with me. Finding nothing but a modem port--which I already knew was busted--I stood and stared at the mess around me.

I shuffled a few things around and found a book that I'd taken from my Mom's shelf years ago: Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet. I flipped through the pages and came upon his teachings on marriage, which I had first read before I ever met my exhusband. Gibran talks of allowing for space in togetherness, letting the "winds of the heavens dance between you." He also talks of individual strength, saying that "the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow."

This was the kind of marriage I had always longed for, and yet it was not the marriage I participated in. My longing for space has been with me since I was little--I came into the marriage with this unmet need. Additionally, my individual strength has waxed and waned over the years, and when I gained it back I was no longer the woman who had said "I do."

I put the book down and picked up a thick baby blue photo album. Our son's newborn photos: My exhusband was skinny in the photos, looking very young and excited. I was about 30 pounds over the 30 pounds of baby weight, and looked exhausted. My son's beautiful images, with his bright brown eyes, couldn't shake the trepidation with which I held the photos in my hands. I didn't want to look at them. I didn't want to remember.

And when I put the photo album down, I turned and reached for the red and gold goblets that had been surrounded in bubble wrap since we moved back to Iowa nearly 6 years ago. They were from Pier 1 Imports. Tall, glass champagne flutes with a deep red coloring at the base and gold painted designs weaved around the glass. I bought them--a year before I met my exhusband--because they reminded me of the intricate henna designs young women have painted on their hands and feet before their weddings. I wanted to drink from these beautiful glasses on my wedding day; I wanted them to represent the beginning of an exotically beautiful and rich relationship.

I wasn't the type of girl who spent a lot of time dreaming up her perfect wedding day--collecting ideas for dresses and picking out color schemes. In fact, I was pretty certain I was never going to get married. But these glasses were magnificent, so I bought them. And months later, when I became engaged and began planning a wedding, these glasses became the centerpiece with which I was going to work around.

But I didn't have that wedding. I had a different one. There was no red and gold. I wore blue and white and laughed nervously through my vows as our immediate family looked on. We had lunch at a restaurant that put us down for the wrong date in their calendar, and we had to wait in the lobby as they set up a table for 15 in the middle of a crowded room. I brought the glasses with me--along with some sparkling cider because I was nearing the end of my first trimester--and we toasted, drank, and celebrated the beginning of the next adventure.

But two days later, the adventure turned into a marital screaming match. In a fit of anger, I threw my keys at our apartment wall and shattered the chain of beads that my five-year-old daughter had made for me--my name spelled out in block letters. She and I picked up the beads, each of us in tears, as my new husband locked himself in the back bedroom. Recently, all three of us on different occasions had said that that day marked the time in which we knew--in our hearts--that we had made a mistake.

But I would never take back those mistakes, not with the beautiful children and the amount of wisdom I have gained. And tonight, I unwrapped the glasses, and gingerly ran my fingers along the sides to follow the golden swirls. I cried a little. I was also tempted to throw them and watch them shatter--a dream lost; a symbol of something that never was. But instead, I carried them into my office nook and placed them on the window sill.

I am not sure how long I will keep them there; I am also uncertain if I will ever let them go. In some ways, they give me a bit of hope that the ideas I once had about a relationship allowing for both togetherness and space can exist (if I work to make that happen), and can include a kind of exotic beauty that is etched in these glasses. The flutes are tall, elegant. They look strong, and yet they are fragile--much like my own heart. And now, they stand apart like Gibran's pillars, so that the "winds of heaven dance" between them and the strength of hope is restored.

Friday, June 11, 2010


When I was 13, I took a trip to Wacky Waters with a group of girls. Stuffed into a big van--complete with shaggy carpet trim--we blasted music, ate twizzlers, and gossiped during the hour-long drive. I was excited, and a little nervous, but knew I'd have a good time with my friends.

When we got to the water park, we split into a couple of groups. I already had a fear of heights deeply embedded in my psyche, and my friend Anna stayed with me as we toured the kiddie pool and its slides. Everyone else, however, went straight for the big one. The Daredevil slide twisted and towered over the park, and I just knew it would be terrifying.

As the afternoon went on, I watched my friends repeatedly climb the Daredevil staircase. Anna, kind enough to stand by my side for the first hour or two, decided she was going to follow the others and brave the skyline views. I stood at the bottom, watching them from a distance--feeling alone and left out--listening to the squeals of laughter that echoed through the tubes.

My thoughts, like a ping-pong match, volleyed between: I could go up there and I'll never make it.

And then Anna came out from the bottom of the slide, her wet face glistening in the sunlight and her smile broad. "Come, on!" she hollers out to me, "you can do this! It's SO MUCH FUN!"

She jogs over to where I'm standing and wraps her left arm in mine. "I'll be with you all the way up there," she says, and she gestures over to our friend, Casey, to follow us. Casey's arm entangles my right arm and the three of us walk to the bottom of the Daredevil staircase. Casey whispers in my ear: "I'll go first and wait for you at the bottom, and Anna will come after. You can even close your eyes as we walk the stairs. We'll hold you. You'll be safe."

My friends are good to me. Even at 13, they understand the need to face fears. They understand that I'm scared, and also that I'm frustrated because I know I'm missing out on something I could enjoy just as much as they do.

So I climb the steps and the first few flights come easily. The line of people waiting for the slide is long, and I find that the further into the air I step and then have to wait, the weaker my legs become. About halfway up--holding tight to Anna and Casey, I begin to look out. I am taken aback by the majestic view, despite the sensation that I'm falling. More than 50 feet in the air, the crowds across the park start to blend into a mosaic in motion. Once at the very top, I let go of Casey and Anna's arms and hold on to the railing and breathe--slowly and fully. I'm standing higher than I've ever been in my whole life. My knees are weak, but I feel the blue sky surrounding me, and as I look out beyond the park at the rolling hills of the Iowa cornfields I feel a sense of comfort. It is midsummer, and the crops are solid this year.

Casey is up next, and a jolt of fear pierces through me. I begin to salivate as the lump in my throat quickly thickens and my breath staggers. Before the lifeguard gives her the signal to go, Casey turns to me, looks me in the eye beaming with excitement and says, "It's so fun. You'll love it." I immediately don't believe her and I watch, in horror, as she disappears down the blue tunnel and squeals.

It takes mere seconds for Casey to reach the bottom, and the lifeguard to my right gives me the signal. Anna is still behind me and I turn to her.

"I can't do this," I tell her. "I need to get down." But the long line of impatient and rowdy teens behind her are not sympathetic.

Anna holds on to my hands encouragingly and tears begin to well up in my eyes. "You made it all the way up here. That's amazing," she encourages. "Going down is the fun part and it will go so fast. Trust me. You'll want to do it again."

I don't believe her, either. I'm afraid of heights, I'm afraid of speed, and I'm afraid of spiraling out of control. But I'm also afraid of the kids behind her who are now unkindly urging me to get going. The lifeguard pushes up the rim of his red hat and tells me I've either got to go down the slide, or get out of the way.

I look to Anna. "Go," she whispers. And I free her hand from mine. I reach out to the top of the tube and hold on to balance myself as I sit. I'm afraid to let go. My heart races, the tears are now flowing effortlessly down my face, and the noise behind me grows--the pressure mounting as the cool water flows under my thighs and behind my back.

The water builds up around me, and in a split second, I release my grip and flow down with it. Faster and faster I slide--alternating between darkness and light as the tube around me opens up in intervals--allowing the sunlight to hit my face. I'm screaming. I am screaming from a place deep inside myself, the blood-curdling sound of fear and I feel completely out of control. I try to stop myself midway down, my arms flailing trying desperately to grab hold of something--anything--but it's no use. The water pushes me on, and I gasp for air between screams.

And in another flash, it's over. I'm forced into the pool with enough momentum to make me stand and jockey me around to gain footing. As promised, Casey is there waiting for me, her arms spread out wide like a proud mama who has just watched her toddler go down the park slide on her own for the first time. I fall into her arms heavily, hold tight and begin to sob.

"You did it!" she cries, "You did it!" and she tries to jump up and down in the shallow waters as I continue to convulse, releasing all the fear from my gut. And then I hear Anna splash behind me, being released from the monster I just tackled, and she wraps her arms around me from behind.

I am sandwiched between pride and comfort, and I am spent. The lifeguard at the bottom of the slide toots her whistle at us and motions to us to get out of the water. Anna and Casey lock their arms around me once more to guide me out of the pool.

I sit on the concrete and wipe away the last of my tears. I am proud of myself, yes, but I am also emptied of energy.

"Wanna do it again?" Casey snickers at me, her sly smile giving away a piece of her adventurous nature that we hadn't fully been introduced to yet.

I look sideways at her, my breathing finally returning to normal. "No," I say. "Never again."

And they laugh, easily and comfortably.

That day entailed one of the scariest and proudest moments of my life and I return to it often to find courage. My current self now understands that the moment of letting go and allowing the current of water to carry me back into the safety of my friends who loved me would have gone a little more smoothly if I didn't fight it. The scrambling to grab hold of something when there was nothing there produced more fear, and in some ways I want to go back now so I can do it again--relaxing and releasing control--allowing the water to guide me.

Water, and its current, is often used as a metaphor for life. Water is powerful: Something to be cautious of and revered at the same time. And in order to survive its current--its twists and pulls--you can't fight it. You have to just let go.

This morning at the office, my friend Shea notices I had been crying. I am struggling with the same feelings of that 13-year-old girl standing on the side of the pool watching life experience pass her by.

"You miss him," Shea surmises.

"Yes," I whisper. "And he offered to buy me a plane ticket to fly me out there next weekend." The weakness in my voice is apparent.

"So, go!" my dear friend urges. "Get a direct flight, no puddle jumpers, and I'll drive you to the airport." I'm walking behind her now, through the doorway of the room where we get our coffee. And she stops and turns to face me.

"You can do this," she tells me.

"I haven't been on a plane since 1995, Shea. How can I DO this."

She smiles, her eyes as sly and confident as Casey's were years ago.

"Because you can."

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Today is a day of moments. I looked across the dissipating clouds and knew
I was right where I needed to be. I sang my heart out. I made and shared music with people I love.

I am a lucky girl, and I always remember that it is the people in my life that bring me the greatest joy and allow moments of all sorts to happen.

And then I traded places with my daughter: she watched my performance this morning; I watched her tap this afternoon. Tears of pride, once again filling my eyes. Another moment, another milestone in her life is also a milestone in mine. 12 years old, and beginning to make her way more independently in this world, I marvel at her courage and laughter.

And in a quiet moment of evening, now alone with my thoughts, I look ahead to the next few hours and hope time will slow...ever so carefully, so that I may savor it before the next moment begins.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Beating Down the Walls

Some days are harder than others. It is true that even in this new life of positive thinking and conscious living that I have feelings of sadness, defeat, and often fear. What I have come to know is that feelings of any kind are just our signals. They tell us when something is Right for us. They tell us when something needs to change. And most importantly, I know that they must be felt--not ignored or avoided--so that they may flow through me instead of weighing me down and rendering me useless, overwhelmed, or exhausted.

I cry much more now than I ever used to, and it's a wonderful kind of release: in an instant tears can express any anger, anxiety, or sadness that I feel (as well as positive emotions like gratitude and love). In high school, there was a period of time in which I physically could not cry--the anger and repressed sadness too heavy to let out in tears. At 16 years old, my frustration at the darkness of the world around me took hold. I was bitter, angry, and tough. No tears would come, but hurling words and punching mailboxes and walls became a typical behavior for a time. My knuckles would bruise--and similar to the odd satisfaction I was also receiving from scarring my own skin by scratching it with a paring knife--relief would come and I would know I was alive.

It's hard for some people to get a sense of how physical pain can relieve emotional pain. I don't even know I fully understand it. For me, in the few instances in which I cut my skin--carving angular designs into my leg and once even, on my left breast--there was a deep sadness inside that I was not able to express in words or tears. I wanted so badly to feel something other than the dark, roaring turmoil in the depths of my gut, but I was often speechless and afraid to let others know that it even existed within me. And as the burning sensation in my skin progressed with each small stroke of the blade, I felt that somehow I breathed easier.

But the relief was always short-lived. I wasn't actually acknowledging and releasing the negative emotions built up inside me. Luckily, even as a teenager I learned some better coping skills because I had a great network of supportive friends and parents who still showed me love when I pushed hard against them. I remember one night in particular, in a fit of rage after a high school football game I got out of my car in the church parking lot that was across from the field--not even bothering to shut the door--and began wailing on a tin shed. I have no recollection of what made me so angry at the time, but as I heaved one blow after another and my knuckles began to bleed, my best friend came out of the car to stop me. She held my arm, she talked me down, and that small intervention brought me out of the spiraling madness inside my own head.

Sometimes, all we need is someone else there to open our eyes to what we are doing to ourselves. Someone that is there watching us, accepting us, and loving us despite our anger and pain--or even because of it. Someone who can pull us out of our own way. This is why friendships and love--in its truest sense--are imperative. Others help us see who we are: the good, the bad, and the sometimes ugly, and they can help us take down our own walls from the inside--brick by brick--instead of trying the beat down the walls outside of us.

And for that, I am truly grateful.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

"I see you."

I watched Avatar for the first time this evening in my living room. I could get into many different kinds of conversations here on politics, on energy, on humanitarian, or environmental efforts. But I won't. Not now.

Instead, I come away tonight thinking about the three words exchanged between the lovers in the film: "I see you."

They say this to one another as a replacement to the phrase, "I love you." "Love" is often misconstrued or abused in this world we have now. Love today has sometimes meant manipulation. Just fill in the blank: "If you really loved me, you would _________ for me." Or it's used as an apology, "but, I love you" as if that could immediately erase fault.

But, "I see you."

To me it means to fully see and appreciate another for who he or she is inside and out. To view him or her as Other, and yet know and connect to him or her as one--all in the same breath. To truly see another person is a gift to both the seer and the observed, for the observed can feel the openness, the acceptance, and yes--the love--being exchanged in a glance.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Stepping Fearlessly

"Do you want to walk in fear, or do you want to walk in love? " asks my dear friend, Dr. Tanya English. I'm not sure if she is the one who coined the phrase or not, regardless, I often hear the words in her voice inside my head. It's a question I pose to myself in the midst of worry or confusion. It helps me to see the intention behind my thinking patterns--to know if I am making choices based on fear or based on Trust, openness, and desire. The latter, of course, being the kinds of choices I wish to now make.

Fear is restrictive. It causes tension in the muscles and in the mind. Fear-based thinking doesn't allow for change or new ideas. And for many of us who are habituated into fear-based thinking, it's often what comes up first.

I was recently invited to take a trip this summer to West Virginia for a music festival, and although I was immediately excited about the prospect, some anxieties quickly crept up. In my 12+ years of mothering, I have yet to take even a weekend vacation without my kids--let alone a camping trip up in the mountains for an entire week. I used to be afraid to leave my children for any length of time because I worried that something would happen to them. And I wanted to make sure I was always near enough--just in case.

One thing my divorce and the subsequent taking turns at child-rearing has taught me over the last year is how to let go of worry and simply Trust that my children will be all right outside of my watchful eye. And they are all right. They are better than all right. They survive without me hovering. They survive, and even thrive, in the hands of others. And their absence often makes me appreciate their presence that much more. So, when I think of leaving them at their dad's for a week while I take a summer road trip, I breathe easy. My perception shifts: they--and I--walk in Love.

When I first read about this music festival that takes place in the mountains in West Virginia, my other knee-jerk, fear-based thoughts were "how am I going to get up there?" and "what if I freak out and can't go any further." My last ride into the mountains years ago had me stuffing my head under a sweatshirt, hiding tears from my then 4-year-old daughter. I began to wonder if I was going to be reliving that scenario. And camping? The closest I had ever come to sleeping in a tent was hanging out in my friend's backyard in 7th grade until my parents came to get me at midnight. So "how will I shit in a port-o-potty?" and "who is going to tell the mosquitoes to leave me alone for 4 days?" suddenly seemed like really logical questions to have.

But I stopped myself and posed a different question. That one about walking in fear or walking in love. I thought about all the amazing adventures I could have on this trip, like seeing parts of the country I've never been to and the prospects of jamming with some incredible musicians. I thought about how luxurious the scenery would be at nightfall and the tranquility that would wash over me as I doze off to sleep under a starlit sky. I thought about all the notebook paper I would fill, being able to catch the wind of inspiration at any given time.

I also thought about the company I would be keeping along the way, and realized that a part of me was fearing my own fears. Having been ridiculed and unaccepted by others in the past for having anxieties, I realized I was worried about my fears being intolerable to my travelling companion. But that, too, is fearful thinking. Instead, I needed to simply allow myself to feel the fear and then still choose to walk in love. Only from there can I accept my Self wholly and step into another grand adventure. It is one step at a time, this shift from fear to love, and when I step into life with an open heart, what I find is that I am met with the same openness and acceptance as I emit.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


About 3 years ago, I decided I wasn't going to settle for anything less than what I knew was right in my heart. I was teaching middle school reading--a job I both loved and hated, I had a failing marriage, a father recovering from cancer, and my anxiety levels were skyrocketing.

I had spent so much of my life being afraid--afraid of making people angry, afraid for my and my children's safety, afraid of not having money. I was afraid of traveling--by car, by plane, by boat. I was afraid that I'd get sick, or hurt, or die. I was virtually afraid of anything out of my own control.

In the process of trying to gain some semblance of control over my life, I developed obsessive compulsive disorder (this began just a few months after my third child was born). It was slow and harmless at first. As a family, we had taken turns picking up every virus that travelled though Iowa in the fall of 2006. I was tired of laundering sheets filled with vomit and stuffing my newborn with antibiotics, so I became more aware of where illnesses lurked.

Around the same time, there were spikes in the number of food poisoning cases around the country. Salmonella and e. Coli were showing up in peanut butter, spinach, and dairy products. I was beginning to feel sick every time I ate, and I wondered if I had contracted one of these awful intestinal bugs.

As a result, I began being more vigilant about washing my hands and using hand-sanitizer in my classroom at school. I started shying away from potlucks--questioning who had touched the food, where it came from, or how long it had been sitting out. By the time summer of 2007, rolled around, I had dropped 15 good pounds of baby weight just because I stopped eating all the cookies and candies that sat in the staff lunch room. But it wasn't because I didn't enjoy the homemade treats, it was because I was afraid of the germs that might have infiltrated them.

Meat--being the most common source of e. Coli and salmonella--was the next to go from my diet. After months of inspecting every piece of meat to make sure it was completely cooked before I put it in my mouth, I simply crossed it off my list of acceptable foods to eat. No more beef, chicken, pork, eggs, or fish. I didn't have to worry about was was in it if I wasn't going to be eating it. Thus began the rules (the obsession) and the subsequent rituals (compulsions) to ease the anxiety of breaking, or even thinking about breaking the rules.

In addition to a list of foods I would not eat, there were other rules to ensure that my relative state of good health remained constant in addition to making sure that nothing passed into my body that I hadn't deemed acceptable. I required myself to sanitize my hands after handling money, after touching doorknobs, after using the phone, and after shaking hands. I used toilet paper to lock the bathroom stall door, and my pinkie fingers to handle cupboards and drawers. If someone coughed or sneezed while walking down the street, I held my breath as I moved through the space in which he or she had just walked. However, most heart-breaking of all, was the fact that I stopped kissing my children. I held them, but I couldn't kiss them. The anxiety was too much.

Yet, while I focused on holding so many things at bay, my perception of fear began to shift. Though preoccupied with controlling food intake, managing germ exposure, and creating mantras for easing anxiety, I began a journey of finding an individual strength I'd never had before. I faced larger fears by starting a new career as an editor, filing for divorce, and going after a dream I'd long forgotten--music. I let go of expectations for who I was supposed to be and start believing in who I wanted to be.

And as each new song was written and mistakes of the past forgiven, I was able to let go of one of the rules I was punishing myself with. I understood that the only thing I had control over was my Self. I couldn't stop my ex-husband from being angry, no more than I could stop a train at high speed. I couldn't change the mistakes I'd made in the past any more than I could prove what would happen in the future. I finally settled into the realization that the only moment there is, is Now, and that I had a choice to make: I could choose fear or I could choose Trust.

So I chose--and continue to choose--Trust, despite its vulnerable state. And while I can not yet claim complete recovery, I can say that I have returned to eating lettuce from restaurants, sharing pizza with friends, and only washing my hands on appropriate occasions (in the bathroom, before eating, or after taking out the trash). I eat without anxiety: savoring flavors and enjoying a sense of being full. I live each day now with a sense of wonder, instead of confounding dread. And best of all, and as often as I can, I embrace my children and kiss them goodnight.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


In the end, all anybody ever really wants is to feel loved.
This desire drives decisions,
embeds itself into our psyches,
it even tells us that without love we are nothing.
The Truth in that is dynamically present.
Without Love, we are nothing.
But being alive in this world means
that Love flows within us
and around us, always. And so
The energy of Love is at our fingertips--
if only we look around and breathe it in.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


And the rains came
heavy in a downpour washing clean
the darkness: the anger and pain
and she looked into the fierce wind
smiling--acknowledging the power
that was always outside and yet, within

satisfaction and empathy took the reigns
steering along a rough and ragged path
to find out that what is--
is what has always been
but she never saw it before
and she laughed, tears streaming down her face
dropping into the soil, feeding the hungry Earth

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Watching Jets on a Sunday Afternoon

One of these days I will just decide to be unafraid. 
I will buy a ticket, shake hands with the pilot
And find a window seat in Row J. 
And it will go like that: in a quiet resolve. 
The heat no longer brazen in my chest; 
The scattered and hurried thoughts absent. 
In its place will be a comfort, 
A knowledge that I beat the fear of death 
And conquered every bit of darkness 
That creeps under my skin. I will be only Light. 
And Light will take me anywhere I wish to go.

Friday, March 12, 2010


In the space between
where you end
and I begin
lies possibility.

Seeking Love

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it" --Rumi

Rumi sets up what feels like a nearly impossible task. How are we to free ourselves from all the barriers against Love? How do we even know what they are? By the time we reach adulthood our DNA, our temperament, and our experiences create a mess of doubt, negative self-talk, and a belief that we must find in another, what we wish to be ourselves.

But, what Rumi tells us, is that once we open our minds and our hearts to receiving Love--rather than using it, denying it, or believing we don't deserve it--then Love will come.

Look inside yourself and understand what stands in your way of allowing Love in....and then simply believe in possibilities.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Where Science Meets Spirit: The Short (and Disorganized) Version

I don't remember exactly when my ideas about Spirit became clear, but I do recall being a curious child--often feeling anti-organized religion, even as I studied the Torah portion for my Bat Mitzvah in the synagogue. What I do know, is that at some point when I learned about atoms and molecules, the thought occurred to me that this is where G-d must exist. 

I understood, on a very basic level, that the energy of an atom never ceases to exist--that molecules can change form but energy is never lost. And if molecules and atoms made up every type of matter in the universe, well then, it seemed logical to me that Spirit must lie at the subatomic level.

What I learned, is that this idea has been pervasive in the science, religion, and new age sectors for years. What I've also learned is that often the difference between science, religion, and new age is a matter of semantics. What we call our ideas may differ, but in the end, the ideas are very much the same.

In monotheistic religions, like Judaism (of which I am most familiar), the overarching theme is that G-d is everywhere: omnipresent and omniscient. This all-knowing, all-seeing being exists within everything in the universe--much the same as matter makes up all things in the universe. 

Another aspect of the monotheistic G-d is creation. G-d created the universe and all things in it. The gift of life is creation itself, and understanding scientifically how sperm and egg meet to create new life is one thing--wrapping your head around how that connection then actually creates a new living creature takes a bit of faith. 

At a molecular level new life is even more intricate and amazing. Development relies on a series of DNA codes to form limbs, hearts, and lungs. On that subatomic level, a pattern emerges and life begins. Not just human life: animal life, plant life, astronomical life. These subatomic patterns exist in all living things, and science has always set out to understand how life works.

Before his death, Albert Einstein set out to discover the force which connected everything in the universe. Physicists studied his notes and began their own theories. One theory originally derived from Einstein's ideas is now called String Theory. 

In essence, String Theory is the idea that on a quantum level there exists a string-like form that vibrates. It is believed that this vibrational form is what connects everything in the universe--and there are different vibrations that create different forms of matter, and possibly even different levels of existence (think alternate universes or other space-time continuums). Now this is where I get lost, not having a a science degree, or even the right language to convey this information adeptly. But, what I do know is that it makes sense that all these things combined is where Spirit lies.

Semantics: G-d. Spirit. Source. Energy. Whatever you choose to call it, the idea is that Oneness exists. There is something greater than ourselves and within our Selves that exists. And different forms of creation: life, art, music, and movement is what connects our conscious minds to the subconscious, subatomic level where Spirit lies. 

And it is in that space where Time ceases to exists. Where possibilities are endless. Where intention plays a role in creating the life you want for yourself.

From here, other ideas begin. Thoughts in the mind are electrical impulses. A firing synapse is energy jumping across areas of the brain. This energy has a vibration. This vibration is released into the Universe, and because of the Law of Attraction--where like attracts like--what you think is what comes back to you. What you believe your reality to be, is what your reality is. And so, as a consciously aware, creative being within this Universe who is made up of atoms and matter and Energy, you are all-knowing, all-powerful--omnipresent and omniscient. It is you who holds the key to the grand universe. It is each of us alone, and all of us Together that create the Space we live in.

And that is at once humbling and powerful. 

Monday, March 1, 2010


Releasing control. Perhaps it is the biggest form of freedom one can feel.
It involves Trust--Trusting that whatever will happen will be exactly what is Right for you.

Understanding the difference between the things you can control and the things you can't is the shortest road to happiness. If it it something you can control: like your own actions, words, or feelings--then you can take steps to remedy the situation.

If it is something you cannot control: time, other people, past events--then you must practice letting go, and must practice Trust. 

Saturday, February 27, 2010

My Teachers

When I was about 13-years-old, my mother gave me a book by Richard Bach called Jonathan Livingston Seagull. At the time I was not a voracious reader, but I loved the short parable about the seagull who felt a little different from his flock--who had a dream to transcend the expected existence of flying in low circles and scavenging food. Jonathan felt a different calling--he wanted to fly faster and farther and experience the rush of Flow. Flow--that feeling of being in a place where you are working and creating, and the moment of Now only exists.

At 13, I understood that Jonathan was different. That he had dreams and his fellow gulls just didn't see the importance of perfecting flying patterns. They tried to convince Jonathan that his efforts were wasted and the he belonged with the flock. Years later--and many rereads of this book--I realized that Jonathan was not only a gull with strength of character, but he also was a symbol for Transcendence.

I also realized that this book was the beginning of my own quest to find that Flow. I had long felt a little different from those around me, though still strongly connected. And I had a curiosity about existence and souls and dreams that surpassed any other interest (except perhaps music, but I believe that the soul is inextricably linked to music).

And in the years since, there have been many books placed in my hands by friends, lovers, and my own stumblings around book stores and libraries that have brought me more answers, more insight, and more connections. And while the following books have taught me many things, the people who have come in and out of my life--and the lessons I've learned from my experiences with them--have been my greatest teachers, and I am grateful for them.

Book List:
Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach
Running From Safety, by Richard Bach
Illusions, by Richard Bach
Seat of the Soul, by Gary Zukav
Conscious Living, by Gay Hendricks
Conscious Loving, by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks
Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, by Dr. Christiane Northrup
The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Luiz
The Law of Attraction, by Esther and Jerry Hicks
Ask and it is Given, by Esther and Jerry Hicks
The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne (also available in DVD)
The Higher Self, by Deepak Chopra (and many others!)
The Elegant Universe, by Brian Greene (also available in a PBS documentary series--highly recommended for those of us who are not trained scientists!)

And there are so many more... if you have suggestions for me and other readers here, or there are books you've found especially enlightening on your own quest for Self and Soul understanding please comment below. I'm always on the lookout for new and exciting books, movies, and information about this grand universe we are living in.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Labels and Limitations

Who would you be if you didn't have somebody to tell you who you are? --Wayne Dyer

Call them labels, stories, characteristics. Call them signatures, traits, even genes. Whatever you call them, the categories other people place us in--or the labels others give us (and especially the ones we give ourselves) can result in limitations.

Like the Sesame Street segment and song about "which one of these doesn't belong," it is natural for the human mind to sort and categorize. It's the way we map out the world. The way we make sense of the things and people around us, and in early development it is naturally taught and encouraged. Sorting blocks: the triangle plastic piece only fits in the triangular space.

As we age, and especially during adolescence, labels and categories not only become more important to development, but they also become more powerful: the jocks, the nerds, the princesses. The task of "which friend group will I belong to" becomes more about what's on the outside--what we do, how we dress, who we talk to--than what is on the inside. I've watched it happen as a teenager myself, as a teacher, and now as a parent. I've watched how labels first work to identify, and then become rigid and limiting.

There are myriad ways in which art seeks to dismantle the limitations of labels. Even popular culture now attempts to send a different message to teens. The premise of the highly popular movie, High School Musical is that the geeky girl gets the adorable jock as they bond through musical theatre. An unlikely story? Maybe, though even in the movie, stereotypes abound.  But, sometimes we don't give our pop-culture-crazed teens enough credit for being individuals. And the term "teenager" becomes its own limiting label. 

Think about your own labels. Who gave them to you, and which ones did you give yourself? Examine them. Where did they come from? How have they defined you? How have they helped you? Or how have they limited you? 

Look deep into your Self and identify the things that make you happy, the words that feel good. Now take the labels, the categories, the stories and hold them up against who you believe your Self to truly be. Your best Self. The Self you strive to be. If they align, immerse yourself in that feeling of contentment. If there is discord in your heart, begin to let go of the particular labels and categories that make you feel uneasy. Find ways to change them--incorporating the opposite, or positive label into a mantra or affirmation. 

We naturally sort and label, but we also have the natural capability to look beyond the definitions of things and people. When we look upon our Selves and Others as being limitless, new opportunities, ideas, and feelings open up.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Letting Go

When you let go, the world opens up to you.

To let go means that you decide to live in the Now: observing your thoughts, feelings, and actions as they relate to what is actually occurring--freeing you from both the memories of what is past and the expectations of the future.

When you find yourself feeling a certain way that doesn't align with the present moment, that is the signal to your Self to ask the questions: when have I felt this way before? What expectation do I have of this moment that isn't being met, and why am I having this expectation?

To let go means that you check your ego at the door. Self-consciousness and self-awareness are two very different things. The former is ego driven (what do others think of me? how can I compete?) the latter is Soul driven (how can I live as my highest Self, how can I understand my Self in order to understand Others?)

To let go is to release worry and have faith that what you need will come to you, exactly when you need it. Not when you THINK you need it, but when the time is right. Feeling that faith and having Trust in the Universe to support you will open up opportunities you didn't even know you had. Let go and trust the path before you, because it is great.

To let go is, ultimately, freedom. Freedom from fear, from complaint. Freedom from expectations and attitudes that do not serve your Highest Self. To let go gives you the freedom to Allow more of what you want into your life.

Begin now: that circular thought that has been plaguing you for hours or days. That worry that rests on your shoulders and down your spine--let it go. Breathe and look around you: is that worry a reflection of the present moment? Let it go. Release it into the air with each exhale and remind yourself that the answers, the support, the Love you need will come. Another breath in, and imagine Light lifting you and warming your heart.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Flesh and Love

flesh and love
remind the skin
what wonders it once held
lines across hips
freckles across lips
and the phantom flickers
that trigger the senses to recall
a foot to the rib or
an elbow cascading across 
a taut belly 
where flesh and love
were one

Begin Here

Ask yourself: what is it that I truly want for myself in this life?

Then dream it, feel it, allow it, and live it.


Change your thought, and it changes how you feel.

Breathe. Be Aware.


Now is the only time that exists.

Let go of expectations.

Believe in all possibilities.

And most of all Love.

Love Self. Love Other. Love Source

For we are One.

And Universal Oneness is the Divine Energy of Creation.