The Light

Were you afraid when you realized you were going blind? I asked, unable to conceive of a world of shadows.

I imagined not seeing the sugar cane blowing gently on top of the hill in front of us,

not seeing the tossing and turning scramble of the brook,

not seeing the ants crawling carefully with full rose petals balancing on their heads,

not seeing the hummingbirds jostling each other away from the sugar water, although there was ample for all,

not seeing the orchids that grow everywhere – on trees, hanging on fences and shocking me with colors I never knew existed.
No, she said, as she gazed straight ahead.

I am grateful I had my sight. Grateful I have seen the world.

Now, she said, I see other things.

Like what? I asked.

Like people, she said. I see them without color, without expression, without the judgement we rely on when we can see with our eyes.
I can see their hearts.
We sat there side by side. She, staring peacefully, unseeing.

Me, watching the sun slowly descend.
Contemplating what I see in the world.

Christmas Eve.

Waiting for the Light.

On Successful Creativity

“To live a life creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” Joseph Chilton Pearce

What would you and I do if we knew we could not fail? Have you, too, heard that question? It has never seemed quite right to me.  I think the better, more audacious question is “What would we do if we knew we would be successful?” 

If we knew, for example, that our abstract acrylic painting of a still life vase of flowers would qualify for a juried art show. If we knew we could play beautifully “Stairway to Heaven” despite our “status” as a novice musician. If you or I knew our blogs would be read, enjoyed and even be inspirational in the lives of others.

Would that prospect scare us silly? Or motivate us to make it happen? Would it make us think how grandiose and ridiculous our dreams are? Or smile at our future success?

Since I was a small child, I have loved to read words, write words and study words. I have felt intimate kinship with an author as she describes the taste of her grandmother’s homemade biscuits or when her description of her home place conjures deep memories of an old white house in the country where I played with my sister and cousins.

I have loved adjectives and adverbs and phrases in books that I carefully highlight in yellow because the meaning for me is so visceral. I have loved writing in those precious moments when The Divine takes over, an hour flies by and suddenly, I have written something beautiful.

So why is it that I and, perhaps you, don’t assign our creative pursuits a place on our calendars like we do an office meeting or a dental appointment?

Today I give my Inner Child permission full permission to create while I silence my Inner Editor’s negative talk, criticism and judgment. Instead, I’ll allow her to write meaningful prose and to paint a lovely abstract of a still life vase of flowers.  I want to hear your rendition of Stairway to Heaven, read your childhood stories and marvel at your sculpture. 

What does your playful and creative child want to do today? Enjoy her success!


On Seeing the Art in the World


Ocean“Life is a great big canvas. Throw all the paint on it you can.” – Danny Kaye

“I can’t draw a straight line, much less a painting,” I’ve said all my life.

And my artist friends have said back, “Anyone can,” while I have simply shaken my head, quietly knowing they have no idea.

And then, in mid-January, some girlfriends and I got this crazy idea to convene at Vino and Van Gogh where we had a little vino and were taught to paint a vase of flowers.

Since that night, I have not been able to stop drawing and painting. It has become a go to pass-time where I lose hours and hours in quiet spiritual time trying to understand what it takes to draw dimensions, to mix colors, to use different art mediums.

Since that night, I see the entire world differently. I stop on walks with my husband and friends and say, “Look at that flower!” “Look at the way the shadows drift over lawns and make the grass so many different colors.”

Since that night, I have appreciated the Divine more than ever before – amazed at the beauty around me all day long. I look more carefully at depths, shadows and colors and sometimes feel a little sad that I have hurried by most of my life like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, checking my watch ever mindful of the time, missing the sheer loveliness around me.

Recently, I apologetically shared a painting I did with an accomplished artist friend, saying, “It looks so amateurish,” to which he quickly responded, “Oh, I missed the part where you have become a professional artist.”

And a master artist, I realized, is not what I seek to be. However, what I appreciate about this fun new venture is how much I have learned.

Like I can paint a straight line and more.

Like I can use my brain to study and to begin to learn a new skill.

Like I see the world in a much more thoughtful and appreciative way.

Like the Divine loves us so much that She splashed beauty everywhere for our enjoyment. (And must it grieve Her that I have so long not paid more attention.)

So, I am going to look more carefully, splash more art on a canvas and be unconcerned about how it looks. Instead, I am going to relish the fact that it has opened my eyes more fully to this beautiful world and embrace the wonderful connection it gives me to The Greater Power.


The Joy of Migraines

The train began pulling out of the station when I woke up twice in the dark of the night screaming  that burglars were getting into our house.  After waking my husband, Trey,  up both times and getting reassured that the alarm was on and no one was in the house, I went back to sleep only to encounter a huge snake on the sidewalk writhing and changing colors like a chameleon.  Something  (the migraine) was pushing me down and I was falling on the snake when Trey woke me as I was screaming, “noooooo!”

Minutes later, the migraine train geared up and began to drive straight into my head as I stumbled to  my emergency pills.  Several hours later feeling a little better, Trey and I met a dear friend for lunch when the migraine descended enforce on me complete with flashing lights, nausea, and every little sound resonating like the clanging cymbals in the Tschaikowsky’s 1812 Overture.

For the benefit of those fortunate readers who have never experienced the searing pain and complete immobilization that a migraine  brings with delight to those it chooses to stop dead in our tracks, that is exactly what it does.

You write off the day. You turn out the lights. You get into the bed. You take emergency pills and you try to figure out whether you are more afraid that you will die or more afraid that you won’t die and instead must deal forever with the pain.

I did survive another one recently with the after effect leaving me feeling as one must feel after a long succession of 24 hour a day  partying.

I don’t believe it is the will The Divine that gives me these horrible but occasional assaults. Why  would anyone wish to believe in  a Divine Who would intentionally do that?

But I do believe that because the Divine gave me the free will to choose to suffer or to take the opportunity to climb into the bed, close the shades, cut down the lights, turn off all the electronic devices and simply surrender to the migraine’s unpredictable timeline.

The medicine helps. Thank goodness. But the timing and intensity is beyond its scope of control.

Usually, really always, I have things planned on the days that the uninvited antagonist  moves in.

But no matter…On these days, if I had an appointment with The Pope and President Obama themselves, I would have to reschedule.

Migraines don’t care  about my schedule, plans, responsibilities, who is depending on me for what. They are unconcerned that I have important things to do and don’t have time to be infirm.

So I am left with only one choice.  Complete and total white flag surrender.  Wave the flag, admit defeat and surrender. Say yes to the migraine and the inconvenience.  Say no to work, internet, music, food, reading, talking, previous plans.  Yes, to the dead stop that occurs in my life when this monster sets up shop in my head.

This time a friend helped me remember I am rich and blessed on even these days.  A comfortable bed and home to serve as my recovery quarters. A husband who will stroke my forehead,, cuddle,  bring me meds and water and Saltines and lay down beside me.

So, in the end, even though I never welcome gladly these days of unexpected intrusions, they give me the opportunity to be grateful for the  warmth, the love, the comfortable home and bed, the superstar husband and a safe and secure place  where I belong.

Pain is not a choice but suffering is. So  I have learned to surrender to the pain and choose not to suffer and to focus on the unexpected day of rest that is the floral arrangement of joy that a migraine affords. A complete and unexpected day of rest.

So at least my revenge is sweeter.






















A Deeper Dream for Life’s Purpose

When you dream, you are returning to the Home, the very womb of your Spirit and a world that speaks the language of your soul. Thomas Moore

I have lived in this house for ten years. My husband and I had it built. But I never knew it had a basement.

Then late one night I opened a mysterious door that I had never seen before and made my way down steps that I never knew had existed.

And found a basement.

In a space juxtaposed half above ground, half below, light and darkness and the glint of intricate chandeliers cast a sketchy spell over a room like an unwieldy checkerboard.

Elaborate draperies tumbled from the sky-high ceilings and fell in massive great heaps of abundant fabric on shiny, marble floors. Ornately woven tapestries adorned thick, darkly paneled walls.

A great rug covered the center of the expansive room and was crafted carefully, filled with many shapes and color, hand-stitched by a fine carpet master.

Shelves were laden with shiny gold bells, soft bears dressed in exquisite costumes and angels of all sizes dangling from their high perches keeping watch. The limbs of freshly cut giant firs were crammed with thousands of strings of light and beads and ornaments of all colors, sizes and shapes.

In the middle of the long, antique table stood three, almost real, soldier nutcrackers at least 8 feet high, each stepping busily in place.

Fireplaces were ablaze at both ends of the room and I felt warmth within me like that of returning home after a long, hard journey.

The dream has stayed with me for years and grown even more important as I have studied the work of the famous psychologist Carl Jung who believed that in dreams, a house represents our levels of consciousness and the ground floor or the basement represents our deepest and most often, undiscovered parts of our selves. Where we have to go, for example, to remember who we really are and to discover deeper meanings in our search for our life’s purpose.

The basement was decorated for Christmas – a time of sharing gifts. Yet I had not discovered this great gift for ten years.

I think of that splendor as a sparkling metaphor for personal gifts that we as human beings fail to recognize. What if we all have a basement full of treasure – talents and possible experiences that we miss because we don’t open the door? What if we each are endowed with a genius or a forte or a simple amazing smile given to us so we can help The Divine manifest Itself in our Universe?

What if we had the courage to open the basement door and discover our personal gifts? Gifts that we can impart to others. The gift of encouragement to a neighbor in need. The gift of baking for others to enjoy. The gift of writing. The gift of painting a tree adorned in autumn beauty.

This will all take work, of course, bringing those gifts up out of the basement to present to the world. And courage, too, to stop that inner editor who insists we have nothing worth sharing and replace her with a stronger voice that calls us to our full potential on a deeper level.

You know, I never intended to write a blog. Or to share my writing with others. But one day I gently stepped into the water. And then I begin to receive comments and encouragement from others. People who said it meant a lot to them. And I decided, if it only means something to one person, it is making a tiny difference in the Universe. So this small gift has been dragged out of the basement.

I hope it makes a difference to you. And maybe even inspires you to explore your basement.


Flying High On Love and Encouragement

“Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us.  Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.” Henri Frederic Amiel

On the night I turned 50, I dreamt about flying – the kind of free spirit, life-giving, amazing flying that happens regularly in my dreams where I simply raise my arms over my head, jump into the wind and take off like a confident eagle soaring to the top of the mountain. That night my flying was particularly astounding and I was the headliner star of an exhibition that was being held in a large stadium filled with thousands of people.

As I flew into the stadium, astride a small balloon, I yelled happily, “I always knew I could fly!” Then as a show starter, I pushed the balloon from beneath me and brashly waved it at my side and then released it completely as I dipped and twirled and waved and laughed. The audience was ecstatic, on their feet, thrilled and I was so happy to entertain them with my amazing skill!

Later on the ground, I moved past scores of country fair booths outside the stadium where vendors were selling their wares. One booth offered the pinkest, sweetest-looking strawberry cake. I watched as a lady stopped to admire it, decided to purchase it and then requested the recipe.

“Oh,” said the snappy vendor, “I did not make the cake myself.” I stood there wondering about its mysterious origin, its authenticity. Was it, in fact, homemade by someone else? Or could it be a store bought cake – just being offered for re-sale?

As I stood there, a passerby suddenly accosted me and loudly accused me of not really flying on my own – doing instead some kind of trick. My stomach fluttered and felt sick as I felt the gaze of those standing nearby. I couldn’t find my voice to rebuke her or defend myself. I stammered nearly silently and begin to question my own authenticity.

What if I am a fake, I thought. What if I cannot fly again? What if I am not bona fide after all – like the suspicious strawberry cake?

As I stood there, afraid and insecure, another passerby spoke to me and said gently, “Don’t pay any attention to that woman. You were wonderful! I loved watching you!” And with those words, I knew I could fly again. All I had to do was raise my arms, catch the wind and leap.

Our words are so very important.  They can make others laugh or cry, believe in themselves or believe they can only fail, bring joy or bring sorrow and wish love or the opposite.  Tonight I thank those who have brought light into my life through your words of kindness and encouragement.

We can all attain our goals.  We just need a little help from our friends.

False Expectations Appearing Real

False Expectations Appearing Real

The monster first appeared about 13 years ago in the dark of the night while I slept alone, going through my divorce, in my home in Asheville. After its first appearance, it began to show up so consistently that I was often reluctant to fall asleep.

On his horrifying visits in the shadowy night, he would stomp up the creaky stairs with heavy footsteps, pause at the double-locked bedroom door, giving my a touch of hope that he would go away, while I sat up in bed wide awake, grabbing the sheets and praying that he would leave, and he then penetrate the locked door as easily as if he were cutting through grape Jell-O with a chainsaw.

I watched him there at the foot of the bed looking like a huge, overgrown ape. Dark, sinister and shadowy he was. He glared soundlessly and stood ominously beside the nightlight at the foot of my bed and appeared every bit as big as an overgrown ape. In time he would simply sit down on the corner of the bed like a great Samurai while I crouched in terror on the opposite side of the bed, literally – literally – gasping for air.

He never did anything but sit. I realized he was completely unafraid of me that he knew me in every way, and although he was separate from me, somehow he was me.

After He was finally gone from my bedroom, I steeled my nerves, picked up the flashlight from the nightstand and bravely checked every single room, under every single bed, behind each shower curtain, throwing open and shedding light in each closet and even venturing as far as checking out the storage closet in the basement. I wanted him gone…but yet, what I really needed was for him to visit periodically to ensure that I persisted, that I lived my life – with as much courage as possible.

Throughout the years, I have come to recognize what I knew all along. That this monster was real. He was composed of the frightful thoughts and my own personal fear. I manifested the thunderous thumping of my heart in my chest, the cold icy chill that ran down my backbone and permeated my soul with anxiety and worry. I have realized that no worldly thing can scare us as badly as we scare ourselves.

That barred door was never a barrier to his entry. My own vulnerability brought him in. That is what fear can do because it is our own dreadful thoughts, our own lack of control of what might come, our own version of a fairytale gone dreadfully wrong with no possibility in our minds of a happy ending and it is terrifying.

There is only one person that can stop that kind of fear and it is we ourselves. Your faith, your family, your counselor and your friends can help. But we must ultimately regain the power to become triumphant over it. And to recognize it simply as FEAR – False Expectations Appearing Real, as my counselor used to say.

One day I realized that I could stop the monster at the door. That slight pause was my opportunity.

But is was not easy. I had to find my own peace and my own points of light in the dark time of my life. The hardest part was realizing that I was the monster. It has been years since he has shown up again, but still I know, I could allow fearful thoughts of daily life to whirl together and I could bring him back to life again but I don’t want that monster to show up ever again. I want a life filled with hope and love and joy.   And a little scared will always be mixed in. Because that is life you know. That is life.

But fear does not have to rule. We have a choice.

Nurturing Our Little Girl

Nurturing our Little Girl

A number of years ago, I dreamt I was on a solitary walk in a park filled with beautiful trees and long walking trails.

A mother and her small daughter were out walking, too. Upon seeing me, the daughter left her mother and ran up to me asking if I would play with her. I said no, and when she persisted, I said no very firmly and wondered why the mother would not call the daughter away from me. Finally, the daughter pleaded with me tearfully and pulled at my arm. “Please,” she cajoled me, “Please play with me.” In my dream, I looked down at her without compassion and said, “I will not let you dominate my life anymore,” whereupon the young girl returned sadly to her mother’s side.

I have often thought about that dream. It has spoken to me throughout the years about the inner craving we, as women, have to be nurtured ourselves. As grown and mature women, we often concentrate more on caring for others and yet somehow we must find a way not to overlook that worthy little girl who resides inside us even today.

Our little girl has something to teach us – if only that we need to remember who we really are – who we were before the world came in and told us whom we are. And we need to remember that the child inside us has gifts yet to be opened that are both of value in the world and needed by the world today.

We can only revere her when we take the time to mother her, to nurture her and to hear her voice.

We all need a mother who is kind, considerate and who loves us unconditionally. Someone with whom we feel safe, sheltered, warm and cozy. Someone who will play with us, have fun with us and be there for us when we need them. Sometimes we have to take the time to be our own mother.

In our very adult worlds with so many responsibilities, deadlines and commitments, the easiest thing to do is to ignore our little girl selves and keep our eye on the “more important things” of our tightly wound lives.

But sometimes the little girl, as in the dream, will not go away. She is there persistently tempting us to love ourselves enough to indulge ourselves. Take me to the zoo, she begs. You know how I love to look at the orangutans, especially how the mommy plays peek-a-boo under a blanket with her baby. “Are you kidding?” I respond. “I have important work, a household to run, groceries to buy, meals to prepare.

Okay, but maybe we just play in your makeup a little bit? Maybe try on some different shades of lipstick or you could put some eye shadow on me…please, she begs and again I turn her down to do the things I “must” accomplish that day.

And the strange yet, always predictable, thing is, at the end of the day, I can barely remember why it was that I did not have time to take try on a different eye shadow. And by the end of the week, I have no idea why I am so exhausted.

I believe at times, we must focus on saving the little girl who something to say, even beyond just wanting to play.

She wants me to feel loved – valued – cherished in a way that only I can provide to myself.

Today, my little girl wants to go for a walk, color in her meditative coloring books and read a novel. And it is Sunday. And, yes, I could do any number of household responsibilities and I may or may not get around to it. This little girl has been busy too long, has worried too much, has not slowed down in a while and is a little burnt out. So now I will indulge her, love her, adore her. In the end, she has the power to help me feel well and stable. She has the insight to open doors to new ways of living life.

God bless my little girl, today and always. And yours, too. She is a pretty smart little cookie.

A Leader Who Could Speak in Love

photoThe political season exasperates me like no other.  Words are said publicly that often bristle with malice, hubris and personal attack.  They are generally the very first words we hear when we turn on the morning news.

Could we do this all differently?  Without 24 months of an attempt to tear down another person (who has the courage to run for President) as the way to way to win a nomination?

I’m not an astute political person. And I should be better informed and study everyone in the Presidential race more carefully.  But I try to stay current as much as I can with a complicated and highly populated field of hopefuls on all sides.

This has caused me to consider the importance of the words we speak and how each of us view the problems that exist.

Recently, while with close friends, we happened upon a lovely wine and cheese shop while spending time together on vacation.  After the wine tasting, we settled on a bottle, combined a lunch of bread, cheeses, grapes and chocolate, and became involved in conversation with the vineyard owner whose political views were impacted by her upbringing in another Country.

We listened to her ideas that mirrored a childhood in her native, sometimes-considered “socialistic” country.  We talked with ease, a sense of openness and with no intention to change the mind of anyone.  Not that we could.

But the important thing was that we all listened.  I learned a lot from that lovely woman who makes her home and her living in the beautiful Northeast.  I  agreed with some of what she thought and, although all our beliefs were slightly different, we conversed together.

Each of us came to the table from very different backgrounds – two from the midwest, two from the deep South and one grew up in another country. Our lives had taken us down disparate roads which influenced our personal understandings of the issues. But for a few minutes, our journeys converged into one.

No one “won or lost” that conversation or necessarily changed our minds about anything in particular.    But we all agreed that our World has issues that are hard and are growing more complex all the time; that since the beginning of time, the world has burned with undisputed controversy and somehow we must work together to make it a better place.

Personally, I’d like a future leader whose words and actions encourage open and earnest dialogue that leads to a win/win for us all instead of a win/lose that keep us divided.

So am I too idealistic?  Okay, I have been called so before.  And would I be brave enough to even consider putting myself out there in such a public way?  No way.

But still I wish for a candidate that would arise above the political diatribe, consider that “the Truth” is not held by a single person and be willing to speak with a new voice that actually helps us dialogue and work collectively to take the best of our differences and create a better Country.

Is that dream possible? I have no idea.  But still I remember the words of a great man who once said, “I have a dream.”   Maybe one day.

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Saying Yes

Barn’s burnt down – now

I can see the moon. – Mizuta Masahide

When we are in Asheville, North Carolina, my husband, Trey and I blend into the crowd of “Jubilants” who come together joyfully on Sunday mornings at Jubilee!, a unique Community of Faith. With no particular denominational backgrounds, these folks assemble together – open, creative, and ready for the Spirit to call them to Life! This purpose is printed in the bulletin and, happily, we join them.

Music and dancing and hugs abound among strangers and friends alike, along with an atmosphere of joy, laughter, Sacredness, acceptance and love. The minister, every Sunday, looks around at the large and diverse circle of folks gathered and asks us to look at each other – to see the faces of the Spirit and to remember we are Spirit’s hands and feet in the world.

A few years ago, the minister spoke on meeting challenges head on – straight forward – looking them straight in the eye – embracing them – breakups, life’s transitions, divorce, illness, job loss, death, whatever life brings us and accepting it all as an adventurer and not a tourist.

My mind shifted to my early 40’s when all Hell rained down at once in my life. Divorce, job change, an emergency surgery that was serious and necessitated a significant recovery time, and leaving the town of Asheville where I had lived for so long for someplace new.

I remembered how I wanted to escape it so badly but instead I had no choice but to live through the chaos. Years later, I wish I had been able instead to accept (and not fight) what I could not change and embrace the strugglephoto with courage and curiosity. Just to say “Yes!” with an acceptance of the fact that the barn, my life, had burnt down and now, after such a long period of darkness, I could see the moon. 

For months, I struggled. But slowly, because no other choice existed, I realized Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade had provided a pretty good example of how to handle the situation. When he came to the deep divide and had to get to the other side, he did it by believing a bridge would materialize to facilitate the crossing. With extraordinary courage, he stepped into thin air with an assurance that what was not there, would materialize. And it did. Step by step.

And of course, that is what happened to me. Surrounded by loving friends, family and a wonderful counselor, I began to see the possibilities that existed now that the barn that was my life was destroyed. Slowly, I recognized a new freedom in the life that awaited.

A lot was lost in the firestorm of that time. Lost in the cleaning, refining fire. Making space for a new life, a life is filled with a new love, home and the most fulfilling job I have ever had. Perfect, no, but beautiful and happy, yes.

In the midst of the inferno, I found a strength that I did not know I had. These days that strength helps guide me when the challenges come, but more importantly, it has laden me with sensitivity and compassion anew for those in their own struggles. The barn burns down and we have to step outside and see what is next.