Sing your song

I grew up in a singing family. My dad was a barbershopper, and sang in a men’s chorus every week until just before he died. He grew up singing in churches with his brothers and sister in the 1930s and early 40s, following my itinerant minister grandfather all around the midwest US. He remembered those hymns and could sing them in perfect pitch all of his life, including when he was robbed of most of his memories by dementia at the end – he didn’t remember who I was or even who he was, but he remembered the words to those songs he had sung as a child, 70+ years earlier.

Music was really who my dad was. He played several musical instruments, and he loved listening to all kinds of music. It was not ever what he did to make a “living,” though. He played in bands on the weekend. He sang in groups in the evenings and on weekends. He was a happy guy in all areas of his life, because he was able to do what he loved. He truly sang “his” song, and I was lucky to grow up with him as a model for living.

I love to sing, too, but writing has always been my passion. Like music for my dad, it has played a large part in my life, but writing has not been how I’ve made my living, either. It has always been there for me, though, and it is fundamentally how I think of myself: I am a writer. I’ve been writing online the last 30 years, and I especially like blogging. It gives me the opportunity to speak my truth and share it with the “world.”

According to, there are currently 600 million blogs on the internet. 600 million. This is just one of them, and I don’t reach a lot of people. I don’t care about that number, though, and I can guarantee you, that there is no other blog like this one, because it’s the only one I write. No one sees the world in the way I do, thinks like I do, or expresses themselves in exactly the same way. No one has had my history, or was born with my particular talents or skills or faults. No one has my exact DNA.

I am the only me.

I trust that there is some reason I want to write what I write when I write it, even though the odds of one of the 8 billion people on this planet finding my blog in the sea of 600 million in this vast other-world, called the internet are astronomical. Truth is I’m not very good at math, never have been, and also, I don’t see that those other blogs have anything to do with me. The internet is not an either/or place. It’s an and/with place. Not you OR me, but you AND me. There’s room for all of us. I’m doing it cuz it’s what I want to do. The rest is no concern of mine. I’m the only me and I’m just doing what makes me happy.

You are the only you.

What makes you happy? Are you doing that thing?

You have come here to give the gift of you, without which the fabric of creation is incomplete. – Mary Morrissey

Nothing less than that – the fabric of the universe – is at stake. Each of us is unique in the universe and on this planet; each with a special part to play. If you’re not stepping into your role, living your purpose, singing your song, we’re all missing out. Most of all, you, though – you’re missing out. Playing small or thinking there’s no room for you, that you’re no good at whatever it is, or there isn’t enough time, or not enough whatever is doing yourself and the world a disservice.

Do what you want to do. Listen to your heart. What is it telling you? What do you want to do? What have you always wanted to try, but were afraid to give yourself permission to explore? Did you convince yourself that it wasn’t for you? That you would fail? Well, those things may turn out to be true, but what if they aren’t? And what if they are? Just trying and learning about something new may lead you to something you didn’t know about that you love more! Instead of focusing on what is, how about asking what if? That one letter could make a huge difference in the way you see the world!

What if you experience unimaginable success? What if it changes your life and you want more? Is that what scares you?

Yeah, the unknown is risky and definitely scary. So start small, and don’t tell anyone. This is for you. You don’t have to share it until you’re ready, or never, if that’s what you want. This is a big beautiful planet, and there are so many wonderful creative pursuits, fascinating places to travel, sports to experience, just SO many delightful and meaningful experiences to be had – highs and lows of human life that you can only know about if you step out of your comfort zone and try. Ultimately, whatever you want to create is within your grasp.

It’s probably not going to change the world, but if it changes you, that’s what’s important. Even if it just makes you happier, that’s enough. More happy people in the world will change it. You’re not responsible for anyone’s happiness but your own, though, so focus on that. Make time for what you love. Invest in it. Time, money, energy. Arrange it so that whatever it is can be ready to go at a drop of a hat when you have a few minutes, even if unexpected. It’s worth it.

You’re worth it.

And we want to hear your beautiful song.

Seeds of promise

Resist and sit, curled and waiting. In this waiting place, uncover what is enough. Not in the sense of settling or in playing too small, but the kind of enough that allows our hearts to expand and our shoulders to loosen, the kind of enough that allows creativity to blaze and joy to bloom, the kind of enough that opens space in our lives to hold ourselves and our seed dreams. Darkness and silence can hold both the sparks of our dreams and the embers of our hopes. We are our own seeds of promise.

–Molly Remer/Mother Tongue Ink, We’Moon 2023

Enough. I am enough. You are enough. There is enough time, money, energy, love – whatever it is we need.


Growing up I felt alternately, depending on who I looked to for affirmation, that I was either not enough, or too much. Most of the adults in my life (not all, thank goodness) either found me lacking or tried to rein me in. I finally came to understand that those assessments had way more to do with them than it did with me. Later, 20 years or so ago when I filed for bankruptcy, I felt there wasn’t enough of anything, really, especially me. I didn’t think I would ever recover financially, or emotionally from the claustrophobic feeling that I wasn’t enough; not good enough.

That was a difficult time, and it has taken a while, but I’m back to the me who had the courage to start that failed business originally 27 years ago. It’s nice to be that me again, and it’s nice to feel that there is nothing lacking. There is enough of me, certainly – I am able to manage everything I choose to fairly well, I think – and there is enough of everything else, too.

The reality is that there always was – evidenced by the fact that I’m still here – and there always will be. The universe is vast, and within it is everything you can imagine and certainly everything you need. Occasionally I catch myself feeling that there isn’t enough time for all I want to do, but then I remember that time is infinite, and it’s my 24-hour a day thinking that limits me, not time.

So, yay! I have all the time in the world, and money flows freely and easily from everywhere, and I’m loved beyond measure and my energy is boundless, as long as I take care of myself.

Oh. There’s that. The taking care of myself part.

As it turns out, it’s not all about the limitless nature of the universe. My human body on this planet has limits and they’re part of the bargain. If I ate everything I wanted to, did everything I wanted to, didn’t do everything I didn’t want to, I would be limiting my life and my potential dramatically. So turns out living without limits includes living with limits.

Wait – what?

Everything is a choice, and choices have consequences. How I spend my time matters. What I eat matters. What I do matters. I have to choose, and if I choose wisely, I’m more likely to live life in the limitless way I envision. If I choose wisely, I get more choices. If I don’t choose wisely, at some point I will lose the ability to choose. It’s like planting a seed. If you plant it in good soil, and you water it and make sure it gets the light it needs for optimal growth, and fertilize it, it will sprout and grow to its full potential. If you just press it in the ground and walk away, you are limiting that potential. It may still sprout, cuz that’s the nature of seeds, but the plant will not grow for very long without light and water.

So, what does this mean in my daily life?

I limit social media, cuz I am more interested in how I see the world than the fake portrayal of life that shows up in my feeds. I limit news and other input from online sources and TV for the same reason. I limit time with people who try to make me feel bad about myself or anything else, whether intentionally or not. I limit the amount of sugar I eat, and snacks, and I pay close attention to portion size. I limit alcohol and fat and cholesterol, and I pay attention to calories.

Conversely, I am mindful of replenishing what is given or taken away daily. I take vacations from work when I feel depleted. I meditate most mornings so I start my day with a calm focus. I prioritize getting enough sleep. I eat nourishing food. I exercise most days. I get a massage monthly. I journal every night before bed. I keep in touch with and spend time with friends. I drink a lot of water, cuz just like that seed, our bodies do better when they are hydrated properly. I brush my teeth and put lotion on my skin most days after my shower.

All of those things ensure that I am healthy enough and happy enough to do the things I want to do. Yes, they take time. And yes, sometimes I don’t want to bother with them, or stop eating, especially anything chocolate, and admittedly, sometimes I don’t stop when I’ve had enough, by choice, every once in a while just cuz I can.

Most of the time, though, I try to act with considered intention. I simply try to be mindful in every choice I make. I do the best I can to limit mindless consumption of anything.

This is me now. This wasn’t me 20 years ago, especially with the eating. It’s been a process, and it’s difficult to limit yourself when certain things charge up the endorphins and you feel so good. Scrolling on Facebook, or having a few drinks when you feel bad, or eating the whole chocolate cake, or spending a weekend binging a season of a show you love definitely can make you feel better momentarily if you are not feeling like you’re enough – less than – for whatever reason. I get that. I’ve lived that.

And now I’m living this, and for me, this is better, more sustainable, and more enjoyable. The thing with the scrolling, or the cake, or the beer, or the whatever you’re binging on is that it doesn’t last. You come down off that endorphin buzz and then you have to deal with the self-recrimination, cuz you know it’s not the best way to expand your choices, and that ultimately it will damage your body and your mind. You know that, regardless of how hard you try to convince yourself otherwise. You are limiting yourself by not limiting yourself from the things that are harmful to you.

Be kinder to yourself.

Put down your phone and the ice cream, and turn off the TV. Know that you are enough. You have enough. You matter and you’re worth taking care of. The world is waiting for you to share yourself. Share your voice, your vision, your unique experience of this human life. There is enough time. There is enough money, energy and love. You have it all. There is enough you. The world needs you; it needs all of us, every minute, to be fully embodying our place on this planet in this time.

We’re waiting for you. Listen to your heart. I guarantee you it isn’t telling you what you need is more NetFlix. Figure out what it is telling you and do that thing; give yourself whatever it is. Give yourself more choice. Plant a seed – start small – water it, give it room and light, feed it appropriately, and watch as you grow.


We need you.


No limits

2023 has been good to me. I feel lighter and everything seems a little easier. The last 3 years wrung a lot out of me, and I think that’s partly where the lightness comes from – I finally gave up a lot of expectations about work and life and relationships. I think the pandemic especially taught us all that absolutely anything can happen at any time, and the idea that we are in control of what happens is largely delusion. A useful delusion, I suppose, as it helps us keep getting up in the morning and doing what needs to be done day to day, but ultimately, when it comes to the bigger picture, it’s in our own best interest to just sit back and watch the show. Let it be.

It has taken me a long time in my life to finally really understand that, but the events of the last 3 years have convinced me. I continue to plan, but I’m much better now at letting those plans go, if necessary. (I think. 😜) So…lighter and clearer I have stepped into this new year, and so far so good. I’m excited about the future (haven’t felt that way in a loooooong time), and I’m thinking about this year and what I have yet to accomplish before retirement, and then after retirement–what is it I really want to do?

So many things!

I’ve also been spending a fair amount of time thinking about WHO I AM, and why I think I’m here on this spinning blue beauty. As part of an online thing I did last fall, I participated in a guided meditation in which I journeyed to a garden, and in the garden was a wise woman waiting for me. I asked her what I needed to know, and she said, “Trust your heart.”


You mean I get to listen to my own feelings/ideas about what I want and how I should live? Really? What I love matters? Can that possibly be true? Yes, well, I already knew that, I think, and in some ways I have lived it, but a reminder is helpful, especially when you are really ready to HEAR what someone/the universe/your life is trying to tell you. So, since then, I’m getting this message EVERYWHERE, of course, and it’s making its way through the mush in my brain and working hard on chipping away the debris that still exists in my heart from childhood and earlier life (despite years of therapy that got rid a lot of that crap).

No joke – I was diagnosed with mild arterial sclerosis a few years ago. My heart was hardening, quite literally. A very powerful metaphor. Another powerful metaphor: the doc discovered something was amiss because she heard a heart murmur. My heart was speaking to me, letting me know that it was in big trouble and I wasn’t listening! Yikes! So I’ve been diligent about limiting cholesterol and sugar, etc., and continuing with all of the other “good health” stuff I’ve been doing for several years now. I intend to live a very long time. I have to confess, though, that I didn’t recognize the metaphor or the spiritual/emotional “threat” until recently. I can be incredibly dense at times, I tell you.

So. Trust your heart. How do you do that? Intuition, my child, intuition. Listen for it, act on it. Trust it. I’m highly intuitive – always have been – but at some point, I decided someone else’s voice was more important than my own inner voice. My mother’s, mainly, for most of my life, but other people’s and society’s voice occasionally, also. I realize now that I never really believed that what I wanted was okay. I never thought that I could know what was best for me. I have always felt a little like an outlaw when I didn’t follow THE RULES, and certainly, when I was a child and didn’t do or couldn’t be what my mother wanted, I was judged harshly, and received the silent treatment or actual punishment until I changed my mind and/or behavior. I had a lot of practice using my intuition to figure out what other people wanted from me; none at all at listening to what it was trying to tell me about who I am or what I wanted.

Even then, I marched to my own drummer on some things and on others I listened to what society (and my mother) had to say. I went to college because I wanted to, but the major I chose was not what I wanted. I didn’t want children, and I was pretty clear about that, but I also didn’t really want to be married. I figured for a long time, though, that I had best try to find a “suitable” mate, cuz that was what I was supposed to want, and I put myself and quite a few men through hell until I finally came to terms with my reluctance to compromise/commit. Really what I wanted was to be FREE. From everything, really. I have achieved that in many ways, that is, I have achieved freedom from most of society’s constraints because I did listen to my intuition when it mattered, and said “NO!” when I absolutely could not compromise or pull off whatever it was that was being asked of me without wanting to curl up and die.


I didn’t achieve total freedom, and that brings me to the answer to the rest of my question: Who am I and what is my purpose in this life? When I look back, I realize that I’ve been serving, certainly all of my adult life, but also as a child, and that has been my role.

I have worked in service jobs, including serving in restaurants, as a Customer Service Representative for a large manufacturing company, and in my own business providing services to small businesses. The position I’ve held at Acme Health Services the last 22 years serves the greater community.

Most importantly, though, for all of my life and continuing now, I have served my family. When I think about all the trouble the universe went to in ensuring that I grew up in this particular family, with its particular dynamics and issues, I know that it was no accident. I’ve thought that for a long time, but I have struggled with resentment in that role for most of my life.

In the last couple of years I’ve been thinking of it differently, and that’s a relief. Resentment is insidious and just eats you up from the inside out. I like serving, as it turns out. I value being of use, and feeling like I’ve made a difference. In many ways, it is a fundamental part of who I am and who I always was and I feel good about that.

I was still getting hung up on the issue of time, however. The lack of time for some of the things that matter to me was a result of the role I’m playing in my mother’s life, in addition to working full-time. I’ve been working on that with mom, ascertaining her expectations versus her actual needs, and my supervisor has helped me adjust my work schedule so that I have some time to myself a few days a week. Both of those things have helped so much, and I feel so much lighter and freer!

Instead of being a super-caregiver and super-employee, I’ve been honest about expressing my limitations and needs recently and it has changed everything. Imagine that. Who knew? I’ve been listening to my intuition and trusting my feelings and making changes that support me and the life I want going forward. I’ve been asking myself “What do you really want?” before making decisions, and listening to the answers. Most importantly, I’ve been giving myself permission to show up in each moment exactly as I am; not pretending to want what I don’t or pretending that I don’t know what I want.


I don’t want to work anymore, so I’m retiring. I miss my house and I want to live there again someday, so I’m sprucing it up and preparing for that, and in the meantime I’m spending more time there. There are other things, but those are the two “biggies,” that have made a huge difference in my outlook the last couple of months. I’m reaching (stretching) for increased freedom in all areas of my life, and I’ve no doubt that what I’m envisioning will come to pass sooner rather than later. I aim to find out where the limits are and go beyond them if I’m able and if I choose to. One thing at a time, one day at a time. From now on, as long as it’s legal and doesn’t harm another, the only opinion on how I live my life that matters is mine!


Reaching out

I chose a word of the year rather than making resolutions this year, cuz I find that don’t feel resolute about anything anymore, really. I think everything’s up for grabs and changing even more rapidly than normal since the start of the plague in 2020. Who knows what’s going to be next? My money’s on locusts. We’re having flooding and hurricanes and tornados and anything else Mother Nature can throw at us, our society is expanding on one hand and contracting on the other – depends on who yells the loudest on any given day.

The rules about work and love and health and relationships and aging seem to be changing ever more quickly, and I find that I no longer know what they are, let alone how or whether to follow them. Admittedly, I haven’t been that concerned with society’s rules for most of my life, I don’t see any reason to start now. I am now classified as older (some would say old – just ask a Millennial), and have been an unmarried, childless woman for all of my adult life. I was a bookish, needy, dramatic kid; an introvert and just generally struggling to figure it all out.

There have been lots of places in my life that I didn’t fit into at all, and some that I didn’t fit into very well, and when I was younger I tried to mold myself into someone who would fit into some of those places, but that was uncomfortable and pointless and I gave that up quite a while ago. I decided that I liked myself well enough just as I am/was, and if other people didn’t like me that way, it was fine, because probably I didn’t like them much anyway, either. This didn’t happen overnight, but thanks to pharmacology and a good therapist, I was finally able to make that leap.

I’ve been lucky in my life in that I have had it pretty easy as human life goes. I’ve dealt with some tricky stuff, but all on the low end of the Continuum of Human Misery scale. I’m grateful for that, and honestly, I hope that luck holds out for the rest of my life.

So now, having said all that, I find myself at the beginning of a new year. Not just any year, actually, but the end of my working life. I will be retiring at the end of 2023, and I’m pretty excited about that, and also just a little apprehensive. Not about not working per se; I’m ALL about that. I started working (at a real job–not babysitting) when I was 14 and my mother will tell you that I’ve been ready to retire since I was about 16 and the bloom was off that rose. For the most part I was happy in my jobs (until I wasn’t) and I especially loved being self-employed for a while (until I couldn’t) and I was especially lucky to land at Acme Health Services almost 23 years ago, where I have made life-long friends and enjoyed working with committed compassionate folks.

And so now here I am, and I’m thinking, “Great!” and then “Now what?”

So my word is STRETCH. I aim to expand my thinking, my horizons, and my possibilities this year, so that I can step into next year really firing on all cylinders and blast off into the next phase of my life. Ha! I intend to redefine my perceived limitations and reach beyond them. My guess is that at times it’s not going to be comfortable, but it will be exciting, and I feel like I’m ready to welcome something new. (Maybe not – I’ll let you know. 😁 Sounds good, though, doesn’t it?)

PS – I think maybe we all need to stretch a little; start seeing the planet and each other a little differently. Reach out to meet and welcome the GOOD. Seems many of the old ways of being and doing are not only not working anymore, but are downright dangerous to our wellbeing. I’m hopeful that all this darkness is the fertile ground of the womb, and that something is trying to be born in us, and that’s why it all seems so painful. We need to stretch to aid in the birth. Makes sense to me, and I hope it’s true! Cuz the reality is that sometimes the dark is just darkness. (I’m an optimist, though. I’ll stick with the birth thing. Makes it possible for me to keep finding my way with my dim light.)


Finding new life

I’ve always had a job, sometimes more than one, and I’ve always worked hard and done my best. At some of them I failed miserably (I was a horrible waitress and a horrible business person), at others I performed well-enough to meet and occasionally exceed expectations. (I’ve always been pretty good of learning new things on the fly). Most of the time my work has been average, and not valued very highly.

It’s hard to accept being average, though most people are. We all think we’re special, and as individual human beings each of is certainly unique, and special in some way.

For sure.

I’m talking more about being average talent-wise, and specifically at the jobs we do.

This includes most of the work I’ve done at my current gig at Acme Health Services, where I’ve been for 22 years. Most of my co-workers and the leadership here are medical professionals, and the work I do is not prioritized, not really on their radar, and not really valued in the same way as someone providing health services.

That’s okay. I get paid, and I’m comfortable with who I am and my level of expertise. I’m not the best at what I do. I’m probably not even the second best. I own that. what I lack in talent I make up for in commitment and effort. I try really hard and I take my work seriously. I do my best to meet the needs as they are described to me, and for 22 years, I think I’ve done a good job for an organization whose primary focus is elsewhere.

When I was young I was sure I had special talent. I imagine that we all do. We want to believe that we have something special to offer the world; that we will make an impact. It would be really cool if we could all be that person, but it simply is not the way the world works. Some people really stand out.

Most don’t.

That’s okay. It’s great to have your ego stroked. It feels really good, and it affirms your efforts. It’s not fundamental to growth or a good life, however, and in some ways it can be detrimental. If you feel your value as a human is all wrapped up in one ability or attribute, what happens when/if you lose it? Then who are you? My current job is very important to me, but it is only one facet of my life and my history, even my work history. It’s not who I am in total, any more than having brown hair or being a good speller defines me. We’re all complex beings, and most of us work because we have to – primarily. Food is important, and having a place to live is nice, too. You don’t get those things usually unless you have a job. (Yes, sometimes having a job doesn’t guarantee either of those things. I understand that, but that’s a topic for another post.)

I’m struggling with this right now because I’m at the end of my career, and my abilities and my ideas are sometimes reflective of another time. Not always; sometimes I surprise myself and others. I’m willing to defer to younger minds with fresher skills and perspectives.

I really am.

What I’m running into, though, is feeling as though nothing I’ve ever done has been useful or even serviceable. The lovely young people I work with are very open with their opinions about what was happening before they came on the scene, and fairly condescending in the way they treat me due to their assessment of my previous work through the lens of a completely different time and world.

I’m sure this happens to most people as they age in their professions, and the world tries to move on without them, thinking they no longer can keep up. I want to believe that my years of experience and expertise is of value – not to mention that I am still here and there’s creative life in this old brain yet – but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Not new, I know, and I know I’m not alone in this. I know that, too. It’s the way of the world to move on to the next generation’s way of doing things – that’s how we progress as a society and as humans. I get that, and I applaud it. I’m all for change and I envy these young people their ability to effect it. (Having said that, I wouldn’t be young again, especially now, if you gave me all the money in the world!)

I wish I was in a financial position to step aside and let them have at it. As long as my mother is alive I’m not, however. I’m guessing I have to stick around for a couple more years, at least. So I want to be of use and I want to remain relevant, and I have to find a way to convince my new co-workers that I’m still both of those things.

Wish me luck!

Photo by Pixabay on

Here’s looking at you

Pema Chödrön tells a great story:

A Buddhist monk in training approached his teacher and told him that when he meditated, his back hurt. He went on to say that this clearly indicated that he wasn’t cut out to be a monk, and that he was a failure at everything he had tried and…the teacher interrupted and said, “So what you’re telling me is that your back hurts.”

“Yes!” said the young man, “I have failed at meditation, and so cannot fulfill my dream of becoming a monk, and…” The teacher smiled and said kindly, “What I am hearing is that your back hurts.” “Yes!” said the monk, “I’m a failure…”

“So,” said the teacher, “Your back hurts…”

Life is harsh. Bad things happen. Disappointments pile up as the years go on. It’s difficult enough without piling on more drama. Everything that happens to us can become fodder for embellishment – it’s the “what it means” part of any life event, even the most mundane, that makes life harder than it needs to be. Our “poor me” stories, carefully fashioned, most since childhood, not only damage our integrity as adults, but also undermine our ability to cope with life’s ups and downs without added pain.

The worst part is that we do it to ourselves. Buddhists call this the “second arrow.” The first arrow is whatever life throws at us that is causing pain. The second arrow is the story we pile on top of it, causing 10 times more pain.

Something happened, so I’m a failure. I always fail. I’ll never have what I want. It’s not fair, and it’ll NEVER be different.

An easy way to spot the arrows: the words always and never. These are two of my favorite words, unfortunately, and I am an expert at turning even the smallest inconveniences into epic tragedies, with long-term consequences. This weakness caused me much pain throughout my life, but it’s not as easy to stop as you might imagine. Even though I’m much older and wiser, I still catch myself assuming the worst about everything.

I’m not a pessimist, and I don’t believe in fate, per se. I am very much an optimist, but when bad things happen, I do whatever needs to be done to remedy the situation (if there is something to be done, which, of course, is not always the case), and then I start spinning the story about what it means.

I’m cursed. Nothing ever works out. I will never have the life I want. Blah, blah, blah.

Ridiculous, of course. I am blessed in so many ways, and I have incredible luck most of the time. I know that, and yet, when the proverbial shit hits the fan, I get lost in it. I fire the second, third, and fourth arrows and I succumb to them.

I’ve been struggling with a deep depression these last few weeks, and I’m particularly apt to pull out the bow and quiver when I’m in this state. I start berating myself for being so self-absorbed when there are people suffering legitimately horrific losses like a tornado that happened near here recently, the shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo, the Russian assault on Ukraine. I feel guilty for feeling badly – or worse, not feeling at all, which is more likely with depression – when I have no real reason to.

The reality is simply that I’m depressed. Period. It’s something I’ve dealt with most of my life, and it will pass, sooner or later. It’s bad enough without piling on guilt and frustration and impatience. Instead of bemoaning my fate and mentally reciting my Litany of Loss over and over, I should be patting myself on the back for getting to work everyday and continuing to meet my responsibilities at home, even though my energy level is at rock-bottom, and what I’d really like to do is crawl in bed until it’s over.

Life is hard for everybody in some way. Give yourself a break. Be patient, and treat yourself gently and kindly. Fire those arrows into the air and let them fall harmlessly to earth. Better yet, hang up the bow and the quiver altogether. Find a way to keep going through whatever it is you’re facing without causing yourself or anyone else additional (unnecessary) pain.

Everything has a season, and life moves quickly. This too shall pass.

Hang in there.

Just. Be.

Yeah, not easy to remember, is it?

As someone pointed out in an email I received recently (thanks Alison), there seems to be themes to our lives. One of the most dominant in my life has been an obligation to family, and the need to prove myself worthy of my existence. Belonging and obligation, and the tension between security vs. freedom, has dictated my actions and dominated my thoughts since I was very small. My mother, particularly, has always been a concern, and it has been difficult for me to maintain boundaries with her suffocating need for love and attention.

Somewhere along the line, thanks to therapy mostly, I was able to untangle that web and make my life, and what I wanted for myself the priority. It became more difficult to stick to those boundaries when my dad became so ill and ultimately died, but I did it. I made a conscious choice to live with my mother then. I did not feel like I couldn’t say “no,” as I so often had when I was younger. I felt it was the right thing to do (still do) and I would make that choice again and again.

My time with my mother has been much longer and far more challenging in many ways than I ever dreamed possible when I made that move 10 years ago, but that’s just the way things are. It’s not her fault, and we’ve both gotten a lot better at maintaining boundaries.

Lately, though, I’ve been slipping back into old habits, and haven’t been taking very good care of myself while taking care of her. I have put her needs before my own, sometimes by necessity, but most of the time just because it was easier. Of course, for a couple of years COVID limited my life, as it did everyone’s, but even since things are starting to get back to normal a bit, I’ve been very conscious of her needs and less of my own. Trying to be super-caregiver, or super-daughter or something – I don’t know what.

And so I was starting to feel something that I felt a lot when I was younger: resentment. For me, with the r-word also comes depression and anger alternately. So I was starting to be a little unpredictable emotionally and downright explosive at times, and that wasn’t doing either of us any good.

As a full-time caregiver, with a full-time job, and 2 houses to maintain, life can start to feel like nothing more than a list of things to do. The reality is that there is always something to be done. I could be productive, working on that list 24 hours a day, and there would still be things left undone. That’s just the way it is, and I know that, but it got away from me. The resentment, depression and anger were eating me alive and still, I just couldn’t let go of the idea that everything depended on me, and I had to just keep going.

Fortunately, those feelings are not so common anymore, so experiencing them again as I had so often in my earlier life, sent up a few red flags, and forced me to figure out what was going on. So I’ve had to sort some things out and get back to finding time for the things I know keep me on track, including mediation, writing and journaling, activities with friends, and the really big one: time alone to just be.

I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, least of all my mother, or myself, for that matter. I don’t have to justify my existence or be the perfect anything. I’m fine just as I am – flawed and totally okay in equal measure – and I can relax in the knowledge that I have what it takes to get through life each day and enjoy it. I can just be me, without explanation or apology, and with love and good humor.

The list will wait while I take a walk, or go for a bike ride, or read on a Sunday afternoon alone in my room. I see to it that my mother has things to keep her occupied while I spend some time online or play a game, or write in my journal. There is time before work to meditate, and going to my room early to read for an hour before bed is not taking anything away from her or anything else. I get up early and I go to bed early, and while she makes it clear that she would rather I stay up to watch TV with her, I just give her a hug and say “good night.”

We don’t have to spend every moment together, even though she doesn’t like to be alone. That’s something she has to navigate on her own. I do like to be alone, and one way of being is not better or worse than the other. I compromise to meet her needs when necessary, and I expect her to do the same. We’ve managed to hammer out a pretty good “happy medium” for both of us in the last 10 years, and the only time it starts to get “unhappy” is when I start prioritizing her expectations over my own.

It’s okay for each of us to be who we are; to love what we love and to do the things that make life worth living. Everything in life comes down to balance, and when I’m out of balance, as I have been, I have to get back to being mindful of and honoring my own unique way of being.

Deep breath

Let it be.

Deep breath

Just be.


The view from here

I’m not a fan of winter, particularly, but I don’t hate it anymore. My perspective has changed. This is a good thing cuz where I live, winter lasts a looooong time. We still have snow on the ground here. It snowed as recently as yesterday. Spring will come, but it’ll be a while yet before it’s warm enough for me to enjoy being outside.

I don’t like to be cold, so there’s that, but the biggest reason I don’t like winter is that I don’t get to ride my bike outside for 7-8 months. In the past, that meant I didn’t get to ride at all for nearly 2/3 of the year. The remaining four, or five months were wonderful, but soon enough it was time again to hang up the bike for the winter, which made me so so sad, and ornery, and fat.

When I was younger, I just didn’t exercise for 8 months, and that seemed to work out okay. I bowled in the winter, and that was fun, if not particularly healthy, given the number of cigarettes I smoked and the number of beers I drank in 2 hours once a week. As I got older, however, it became apparent pretty quickly that those halcyon days of keeping the weight off without exercise in the winter were over.

So, I went to the gym, and if it wasn’t cold enough to freeze body parts, I walked in the evenings. I bought a trainer to ride my bike indoors, and for a couple of years, I was pretty good about sticking with it, despite the fact that it is quite simply the most boring activity on the planet and has nothing to do with why I love to ride my bike.

Then the plague happened, and two things changed everything for me really quickly: 1) I was working from home full-time, and 2) the government sent me some stimulus money. Working from home gave me extra time, and the money allowed me to purchase a “smart” trainer that connects to my computer and the internet and responds to programs that make it seem like I’m riding on a real route.

Game. Changer.

So I tried a bunch of different programs, and the one I stuck with is Zwift. I bought the trainer in September of 2020 and when winter came that year, I found I didn’t care! I could still ride and enjoy it, and I didn’t have to go out in the snow everyday for work! Now I’m back in the office 3 days a week, but I still manage to ride 4 or 5 days a week.

So I have been thinking about how that one thing changed my perspective so completely. It has inspired me to think about other things I can change within the frame of my work schedule and caregiving/housekeeping responsibilities so that I feel less trapped. When I get sad and ornery now it’s mostly because I miss the freedom I had before I moved in with mom 10 years ago. I never dreamed I would be there this long, and it’s causing me to chafe a little (sometimes a lot) at the bonds of the commitment I’ve made.

I often feel I have no time to myself, and to some extent that’s true – I certainly don’t have the time I did when I lived alone. However, I laid out a schedule a week or so ago, and I discovered that if I make a couple of small adjustments, there is some more free time to be found in my days. So right there, my perspective changed, and already this week I feel lighter and freer. I can’t travel, and I miss that, but being able to fit in other things that I’ve been missing has helped change my frame of mind.

Perspective is everything. Byron Katie suggests that for every thought we have, we question it. Is that true? Who would I be if it’s not true? Changing my perspective about things I take for granted – I don’t have time, I don’t have the freedom, I don’t have whatever I feel I need – makes me wonder what else I’ve been perceiving incorrectly: people, the town I live in, the work I do.

Everything, maybe. It’s worth thinking about.

How about you? What can you try to see differently?

Word by word

Get. To. Work.


I came across this quote yesterday in a book about writing. It struck me because it’s not only how I feel about writing, but also about life, in general. I’ve written here before about my desire to be of use in the world, an impetus behind my life I’ve recognized consciously for many years. For me, writing has often been a way of being of service, at least in my mind. That is my intention – for what I write to be of use to the people who read it. I have had a lot of blogs over the years, and my drive to write them has always been the same, to share my experience of life on this planet, in the hope that someone will benefit from it. I do the writing, and I figure it’s the Universe’s job to send people who need to read it.

Writing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was quite young, 2nd or 3rd grade, I remember trying to figure out how books were made, cuz I wanted to write actual books! I wrote story after story and taped or stapled the pages together, made covers out of cardboard, illustrated them, and agonized over just the right titles to go on those covers. I wrote scripts for puppet shows, and put them on for my playmates in the neighborhood. Admission price was a penny, but if you didn’t have a penny, that was okay. My goal was to entertain, not collect pennies. I’m not even sure why I chose to charge admission. I suspect that like making books with cardboard covers, charging admission made it seem real.

I wrote stories about EVERYTHING, and I read them to my dolls, the cat, and later the dog, who was a lot more attentive than the cat. Most have been lost, but I still have one about a priest who lost his faith, that I wrote when I was 11 or 12. I can’t imagine how I presumed to think that I had any idea what it was like to be an adult, let alone a priest, and how I ever came up with that idea is lost to me now.

I just loved to write. I loved stories. It was fun to make things up and write them down. I thought for sure I would grow up to be a successful writer, like P. L. Travers (Mary Poppins), Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables), Laura Ingalls Wilder, or Louise Fitzhugh (Harriet the Spy), who were my favorites, along with many others. I read everything I could get my hands on, and I wrote everything I could think of.

I still love and do both of those things, though time is limited now, and my taste in books has changed, although those are all still favorites. I have always thought of myself first and foremost as a writer, though that has not been the way I’ve made my living, except for a brief stint as a journalist many moons ago, which I didn’t enjoy very much. I didn’t stick with it, though the training was valuable.

Writing is simply the way I process life, the way I look at the world. I still love it like I did when I was a little kid. I’ve blogged, in one form or another, since the internet was text only, though in the beginning it wasn’t called blogging. Most of my writing online then was on news groups and bulletin boards. I’ve taken time off over the years, but for the most part of the last 30 years I was writing on a blog somewhere. I still write short stories, and poems, and I’ve knocked out large parts of several novels that never were finished for one reason or another. Writing has always been life for me – there is no separation.

So, having said all that, I also realized yesterday when I read that sentence, that I’ve been absent from this blog for a long time, and I haven’t been journaling or writing at all for too long. It’s time again to get to work. My life is complicated these last few years, and time is at a premium, but if I’m not writing, I’m not living.

It’s really that simple.

What work are you neglecting? What will cause you to get back to it? The world needs all of us now, doing whatever it is we were meant to do, playing whatever role toward healing this planet and our humanity you feel you were given. The best gift we can give to the universe right now is simply being true to ourselves. Trust your gut, and get back to it. You may or may not be paid for your important work, and you may not feel like it’s good enough. None of that matters. Find what you love and just do it. Whatever it is. Trust that the universe gave you that love for a reason and follow it through.

Be brave, and get back to work! It probably won’t make you rich and famous, but it just might make you happy, and that’s all that really matters. Let me know how it goes!

Just. Keep. Swimming.

I hear the expression, God just wants us to be happy a lot. It bugs me to no end, and anyone who knows me, knows that. I have two problems with it, 1) I don’t believe there is a God who cares about us in that way, and 2) I don’t believe that the purpose of my life is to be happy, in the way people who say that so glibly mean.

The first point – whatever, your mileage may vary. The second, for me, is not really negotiable. If it’s what you believe, knock yourself out. You’re certainly not alone. You will never convince me, though. It may be true for some, but I don’t believe it’s true for most of us, and definitely not for me.

I was lucky enough to encounter a teacher early on in my life, before I had really thought too much about what my “purpose” was. Mostly I was interested in making money, having a good time, and riding my bike. I was a thinker about many things, but I avoided the “purpose” question, cuz I had a vague feeling I knew what mine was, and I didn’t want to accept it yet. Then, in a conversation while shopping with a friend one day, she said something to me that would alter the course of my thinking, and ultimately my life.

I don’t remember how we came to be discussing life purpose specifically, though those types of deep conversation were a common part of our friendship. In the course of this conversation she said she believed the purpose of life was to be of use. Those two words hit my brain and my heart with the force of truth, and I have spent the rest of my life dancing with that idea and the truth of it.

I didn’t want that to be true. I wanted life to be easy and fun, and I liked the idea that life was intended to be that way. I also understood immediately that for me, that meant service to my adoptive family. Somewhere deep in my soul I had known that since I was born, but boy, did I not want to know that. When I look back now, I can see that I had been living that truth, but I saw it as temporary, not my actual life.

When I was in college, I took a year off between my sophomore and junior years. I told people it was because I didn’t really know what I wanted so needed a pause, but the truth was that my parents needed me, so I went home. My mother had had a breakdown and couldn’t be alone, and my dad had to work. So I came home to stay with my mom while he was gone. I returned to school the following fall and graduated 2 years later.

Soon after graduation I had a job lined up in North Carolina, where I wanted to live, but before I left, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. My mother couldn’t cope with that alone, so I went home again to see him through that and turned down the job.

That time I didn’t leave. I’m here still, in the small town in which I grew up, and now in that same house, with my mother the last 9 years. I’ve had a good life here, if not the life I had imagined. I had all the important stuff – interesting and meaningful work (especially the last 20 years), good friends, family close by, including my grandmother, who was my best person in this life. All good. I had fun with friends, and I traveled a little bit, which I really enjoyed. It was not the life I had dreamed of, but it was good, nonetheless. At some point, my decisions were ruled more by the chronic depression I had lived with since an early age than my family, and then at some point in later years, I realized that I was here by choice, not by default.

I bought a house here in 2009, and though I’m not living it in currently, I have no intention of selling it. I will live it in again, at least for a while. When my mother is gone, I may decide to go somewhere else. Or I may decide to stay. I honestly don’t know. I try not to think that far ahead. It’s nice to think about options, though, cuz right now I don’t have many. That’s just the way it is for now, though, and that’s okay. I’m of use to my mom, and that matters to me. I’m finishing my service to my family and then I’ll be free to do something else.

Maybe. Who knows what the future will bring? What matters to me is that I’m living my life as intended, and I’m happy doing it. Mostly. I have moments of resentment, of struggle. Then I come back to the truth of who I am, and what my purpose here is, and I just go on.

That’s all there is really. Wherever you find yourself, whatever you believe your purpose to be, just keep going. Be true to yourself and to what you know your life purpose to be and though it may not look like anyone else’s around you, just go on. Live in the moment, and for the moment, and rest there. Be happy in the knowledge that you are doing what you came here to do. Be grateful for the opportunity. Even if it’s hard. Even if it’s not what you thought you wanted or what your life would be.

This is it. I really believe that you can’t miss your life. You will learn and do what you were meant to as long as you are open to it – as long as you listen to the truth in your heart. Life isn’t about circumstances. It isn’t about moods, or even feelings like happiness and sadness. You can be happy doing difficult things and during difficult times, and you can be sad in the midst of what others and maybe even you consider to be fun. There is certainly a place for fun and laughter and silliness in life, but it isn’t the purpose. We’re here to learn, and to grow in maturity and understanding, to live in community and to LOVE. The rest is decoration. (Don’t get me started about social media..)

I’ve noted here before that Dory from Finding Nemo is my hero. To my mind, she is a model for a good and successful life. She lives totally in the moment, and her motto is, Just keep swimming.

Yep. Just keep swimming. You’ll get where you’re going – where you’re meant to go – but you have to keep swimming. All you have to do is go on. There is nothing more required.