Writing. Tibet. Zombies.

person using typewriter
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I like blogs. One of the things I do when I’m bored and taking a little break at work is look for new and interesting blogs to read. WordPress helps me out in this endeavor by providing a Search function. Just in case you’re stumped for topics to search on, I guess, WP offers a few suggestions below the Search box. I get the biggest kick out of these suggestions, sometimes I go to the Search page just to see what comes up:

Sharks. Fitness. Photography.
Happiness. Red Sox. Poetry.
Rugby. Spring. Beautiful.
Poetry. Flying. Government.
Philosophy. Art. Groovy.
Happy Place. Food. Sunday Brunch.
Astrology. Recipe. Beauty.

Sort of like WP’s version of haiku. Cracks me up. I’m sure it’s an algorithm or some other clever little piece of code, but what if a person gets to come up with those suggestions? I want that job!

I’m finding it hard to concentrate this morning at work cuz it’s Staff Meeting Day. Two things are tugging at my attention:

  1. The table full of goodies in the hall adjacent to my office. I really, really want a chocolate chip cookie, but settled for an orange earlier. The cookies are CALLING. MY. NAME. though. I can hear them whispering sweet nothings right through the door.
  2.  The 90 or so women who are in the meeting room next to my office. They are quietly listening to presentations for the most part, but every hour or so in between presenters they TALK. Loudly! Happily! What fun it is to catch up with friends you haven’t seen in a while at work! The door to the meeting room is open into the hall, and the volume is deafening on those breaks.

At least I can’t hear the cookies…

What are you doing today? What’s tugging at your attention?

I, myself

All acts and facts are a production of spiritual power,
the successful ones of power which is strong enough;
the unsuccessful ones of power which is too weak.
Does my behavior in respect of love effect nothing?
That is because there is not enough love in me.
Am I powerless against the untruthfulness and lies
which have their being all around me?
The reason is that I myself am not truthful enough.
Have I to watch dislike and ill-will carrying on their sad game?
That means that I myself have not laid aside small-mindedness and envy.
Is my love of peace misunderstood and scorned?
That means that I am not yet sufficiently peace-loving.  –Albert Schweitzer


I would love to believe that my life begins and ends within the boundaries of my skin; that I’m connected to nothing and no one, and that I bear no responsibility for anyone other than myself.

But that’s just not the way the world works. For better or worse, we’re all part of the same big world. We’re all connected in so many ways to each other and everything else on this planet.

There are ways of being in the world that do not contribute to its wholeness or well-being. I would like to crawl up into my head and say, “Not me!”

I’m doing it right. It’s the others. It’s them over there. They’re screwing everything up. And they should have to experience the consequences of their misguided, stupid, irresponsible, thoughts and actions. Not me. Not my responsibility. I’m doing it right.

But it is me.

As long as anyone on the planet is hungry, the responsibility is mine. As long as children are abused, the responsibility is mine. As long as other living things are devalued and not respected, the responsibility is mine. As long as the planet is being abused, the responsibility is mine. As long as anyone is homeless, unable to pay the heating bill, unable to get the drugs they need, unable to be educated, supported, loved, cherished, the fault is mine.

Because I am you. And her. And them. And us.

All of us. We. This world, and all the two-legged, skinned, finned, furred, feathered and green things in it. Whatever is lacking is whatever is missing in me. And I’m the one who has to fill those holes.

It begins with me. And until I really understand that, I’m not doing it right, after all.

This little light of mine…and yours


An old Hasidic tale…

The rabbi asked his students: “How can we determine the hour of dawn, when the night ends and the day begins?” One of the students suggested, “When from a distance you can distinguish between a sheep and a dog.” “No,” said the rabbi. “It is when you can look into the face of human beings and you have enough light in you to recognize them as your brothers and sisters. Up until then it is night, and darkness is still with us.”

The student is never right in these stories, is he? You think you have the answer, but no, once again, you`ve got it wrong. All your study and striving in life means nothing, because you still don’t have it right. And you probably never will. At least, it feels that way.

Because, as always, the answer is within you — the last place we remember to look. Why? Perhaps because it seems to all be happening OUT THERE. That’s where the action is, the really interesting stuff. Out there. Not in here. In here there is only me, and I’m sick of me. I’m tired of being in the dark. I want to be out there, where it seems to be bright and interesting, warm and inviting. There doesn’t seem to be enough light in me. So I reach out there, out there, out there.

I reach out to you, because I think I can see your light, and I want to be warmed by it. I reach out to God, whatever I think that means. I reach out to anybody – like a plant, I turn to any light I think I see, in the hopes of receiving nourishment, fulfillment. I want reassurance, warmth and comfort. I reach out there, to the flash and pop of modern life. I reach for food, or drugs, or alcohol, or money, or sex – whatever I think will give me that buzz and blast of light. Come on baby, light my fire. When there is no real light, artificial light seems like it’ll work. And it does, for a while.

For a little while. Then you start to feel cold again, and you realize, yup, still in the darkness. Still in here. Still me. All of us/only me. All in the darkness together, but it’s too dark in here to see anybody else, so I think I`m alone. And really, I am.

Because there will be no real light in the world until I nurture the light within me, and you nurture the light within you. Find the light and protect it, build it up, until we can all see by it. Not OUT THERE. In here.

In me.

In you.

In us. All of us.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—
that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and falling. And I do.
Mary Oliver, House of Light.

A guiding light lost to us. RIP Mary Oliver 1935-2019.


Finding my way


Is the American Dream still a thing? Do kids still believe in it – the belief that you can be anything you want to be, if only you try hard enough? I admit I used to believe it. I grew up in the 60s and 70s and I think we all believed it.

Maybe it’s just a youth thing, and isn’t unique to this country at all. Everybody thinks they know how to do it; everybody thinks they have the secret to life when they are young, and that they will be successful. It’ll be different for me. But some of us – I would venture to say most of us – have learned the real secret of life: it’s about failure, not success, after all. Success is easy. It’s failure that stretches us and helps us to grow.

I read stuff all the time about people who have risked everything to follow their dreams and who have succeeded big time. Yay for them! The message I get from these stories is that I should do the same; all I lack is courage. My lack of courage is the only thing stopping me from living the life of my dreams. Hesitating, or stopping to consider things like money or time or the rest of the world has more to do with my lack of courage than actual reality, because, after all – here it comes: I create my own reality. Right? So all I have to do is create what I want. Presto! If what I have in my life is not what I want, then I’m just not doing it right.

Well…I just don’t believe it’s that simple.

I have to say, I do believe in the esoteric truth of this principle. I think someday (if we and the planet survive long enough) we’ll have a better grasp on our ability to manipulate matter at the molecular (energetic) level. I believe thoughts have power. I believe in the collective unconscious, and I believe that everything on this planet and in our bodies ultimately comes down to the balance of energy and the power of the human spirit. But I do not believe that I create my own reality by simply changing my mind, or wishing harder, or dreaming bigger. Nor frankly, do I want to.

I have learned the hard way that when I try to “make things happen,” or create my own reality – I get kicked in the teeth. On the other hand, when I let things flow, everything turns out pretty good, or at least not horrible, most of the time. Not exactly what I had cooked up in my grandiose little ego-mind, but okay nonetheless. I think if I hear one more person say “Let go and let God,” I’ll have to spit on something, but that’s exactly what I try to do now, though I would substitute Tao for God.

Here’s all I know for sure: Life is hard and wonderful. The range of stuff that can happen to human beings on this planet goes from short-lived really terrific to longer-than-you-think-you-can-endure really horrible.

So I think the trick is not to dream bigger or try harder, but to be happy with whatever is the reality right now. Be grateful everyday for all that I have and all that I’ve been spared. We have to honor our struggles and our pain, and then just get on with it.

Stop trying to “create” the life you want. Live the life you have.

If there’s something you really feel called to do, do it, or at least set your sights in that direction and plan a route. Just know and accept that nothing’s guaranteed. Life is just going to be what it is, no matter what we do or want or think. You will succeed or fail or experience something in between. Don’t be surprised, though, if they all look like the same thing. Our ideas of success have nothing to do with the way success is defined in universal or spiritual terms.

Clearly, some people are here to dream big dreams and to do big things, hopefully things that improve life on this planet for all of us (including the furry, feathered, buzzing, growing, and swimming things, too). That’s their path. But most of us are called to live smaller lives, to tread a less celebrated path, and we must learn to live as sweetly and as gently as possible along the way.

I’ve given up on my American Dream grandiosity, and am now concentrating on what I believe are the truly important things; the challenges that have been put in front of me right now, right here:

Be kind. Tread gently on the planet. Be of use, help out whomever and wherever I can. Be a good friend. Do good work.

I’m still riding along on training wheels for all of that stuff, and probably will be all my life. I started out on a tricycle, though, so I’m doing better, and I’m grateful for that. I remember writing a few years ago that I was in training for greatness (yes, I confess: affirmations seemed like a good idea at one point).

Now I believe I’m in training for not-greatness.

And that’s just where I want to be.


Small wonder


January 6 – The Feast of Epiphany in the church I grew up in. It marks the day the Three Wise Men visited baby Jesus, bearing gifts for the newborn, as described in the Bible. The symbolism is of something which comes to light; something hidden becomes apparent, in the way God became flesh. In common usage, usually, the word epiphany indicates a sudden revelation; an unexpected change in the way of thinking about something.

I’ve had a strong connection to this day and it’s meaning most of my life. The metaphor resonates deeply with me, even though I no longer attend church. I rarely think things out in a logical path; most ideas and thoughts come to me in an “I could have had a V-8!” kind of way. Even as a child I understood the symbolism in the church and in my life. My brain is, and always has been, more about revelation than reason. Every year around this time, something comes to light in a way I hadn’t seen before, usually right on the day. Often, in hindsight I find that I had an epiphany on Epiphany. Less often I recognize it as it’s happening.

This year it came yesterday as I was walking on a beautiful snowy, sunny northern Michigan day:

After living in the same small town most of my life, I finally realized I like it.

There are lots of times I’ve wished for more excitement, or opportunity, especially when I was younger. Many times I’ve been frustrated by a lack of anonymity, and the social obligations that come with living in a tiny community of people who have known me all my life.

But there are also times, especially in the winter, when I’m very happy to live in a rural area, and to feel a part of small town life. Summer is hectic and crazy when the tourists are here, but in the late fall, winter, and early spring, it’s just “us.” The locals. Doing our thing, keeping these little northern towns running, raising families, working and playing hard.

There aren’t many places to “go,” not compared to a city, and the pace in the winter is pretty slow. In my town there’s one movie theatre, one bookstore, one video store, one coffee shop, a few restaurants, a couple of bars. One two-lane street through downtown.

One stop light.

The library has evening programs fairly frequently, and they’re well-attended. There’s a book lovers group that meets once a month, high school basketball games almost every night between the girls’ and boys’ leagues, and lots of places to volunteer.

There’s the Kiwanis Club, the Lions, the Rotary, the Garden Club, the Grange. Every Christian denomination is represented, and if you belong to a church the congregation is small and there is a lot to be done, and activities to attend throughout the week. The kids are involved in sports, 4-H, Brownies, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. There are support groups, charity groups, two gyms. The Masons hold a Cribbage tournament every year, you can hike, snowboard or ski at the ski hill,  and every other weekend there’s a snowmobile ride-in. There are adult hockey leagues in a nearby town, for both men and women, and evening basketball and volleyball leagues, too. If you’re in your church choir, you most likely practice on Thursday night.

The rest of the time you work — hard — in one of 4 large local factories in the area, or farming, or fishing, or a combination of jobs to make ends meet. You drive a bus, or work in a body shop. You teach school, work for the county, run a daycare, or wait tables. Maybe you’re a part of the large artists’ community that meets and shares work in the old library building. Maybe you own a store or run a business that’s been in your family for generations.

You might work in the same place all of your life. You might live in the same house all of your life. Family is important. On Friday night in January, chances are when you walk in a restaurant you will know most of the people at the other tables as well as the person who cooks and brings you your dinner.

Not only do you know those people, but you know their parents, their brothers and sisters, and your kids play on the basketball team or are in Daisies together. At least once a week I run into someone with whom I started kindergarten and who was beside me 13 years later when we graduated high school 39 years ago. I see his kids and now grandkids in the paper. My parents knew his parents, and did since before we were born; they may have gone to school together, too.

Your doctor is your neighbor, and the police chief lives down the street. There are two fire trucks, one ambulance, and the EMTs and the fire department are mostly volunteers. The fire whistle blows every night at 9:30 for curfew (which no one acknowledges anymore), and no matter where you are in town you can hear the noon fire whistle and the bells on the Catholic and Congregational churches at lunchtime. At least one event you attend this winter will be a potluck, and someone will bring a jello mold, and something made with tuna fish.

The nearest “city” is 60 miles away and is only a little bit bigger. The real cities are “downstate” – Lansing, Detroit, Grand Rapids. All three to five hours away.

Like a town stuck in time. But I suspect that most towns are like this, all over the country. The excitement is in the cities, and that’s great for lots of people, but small towns are the largest part of American life still, I think. Especially in the Midwest. I feel a part of this place, and I know that it’s a part of me, and that for all my complaining about the weather, etc., when I leave it will be hard.

There are downsides, too, of course, and sometimes they’re hard to bear. For example, in my town, there aren’t many people of color. Also, if you’re Jewish or Muslim, you have to worship in another town.

Sometimes people’s perspectives and attitudes are as “small” as the town. It’s rather insular, this small town life in this sparsely populated area of Michigan, and you have to make an effort to stretch yourself and your horizons. Not everybody feels the need to do that, and that has to be okay. In a town this size, you don’t have to be friends with everybody, but you do have to find ways to get along, and that means for sure you are going to encounter someone with whom you absolutely do not see eye-to-eye, and you must accept that person’s right to be as he is, or you had better move to a bigger place.

I grew up here. Lots of people have known me since my parents brought me home. It’s hard to escape your past when someone reminds you of it everyday. Winter stretches on forever and summer flies by in a whirlwind of activity. As in all things, you have to take the good with the bad.

No matter where I go later in my life, I’ll always be from this little town. I’ll always be a Midwesterner, a northerner, a small town girl. How could I not love it? It’s part of me, this place with the water and the trees and the snow, as are these people who look and sound like me, and who recognize me as one of their own. Suddenly that seems like a good thing. I belong here, for now, at least, and that’s comforting. Knowing that this place is in me, and knowing that I’ll take it wherever I go is comforting, too. We all have to be from somewhere, and as “somewheres” go, this is a pretty good place to be.

Much ado about nothing


Thanksgiving was really nice. Mom and I felt like we had reclaimed the holiday (one of my favorites) after the last two years were disappointing, to say the least. Turkey sandwich for lunch yesterday, then a walk downtown to do some shopping and see the holiday parade and the tree-lighting in the park. Santa was there! Flew in from New York yesterday, apparently.  The parade was short – this is a very small town – but just as well as this is northern Michigan and it was cold. Not too bad though, considering Thanksgiving morning for the Turkey Trot it was 5°,  and there was hot chocolate and cookies to warm everyone up. Spirits were high, and  I was glad I went.

Today the resting begins. I have no plans to get dressed. We’re doing the day in the key of low, and probably tomorrow, too. To my mind, this is the best part of this weekend. I usually take this whole week off – 9 days off in a row for the price of only 3 vacation days! – but I didn’t this year, cuz I’m saving my leave time in case mom gets really ill again and I have to stay home with her for a while like last Spring. So this year I’m doing 2 days of LOTS OF THINGS! and 2 days of NOTHING!, and that’ll be good enough.

And the Nothing has started! Yay! Reading and lounging and I don’t know what else, but whatever it is it will not involve wearing pants or shoes. I will probably put up our little Christmas tree and put new batteries in the outside twinkle lights, but that’s the extent of my ambition for this dark November day. Perfect day for pancakes and a cup of tea, then soft music and reading.

That’s the plan, anyway. When mom gets up that plan could be scuttled, depending on how she feels. She has good days and bad days, and one of the hardest things for me to come to terms with in this situation is that when she has a bad day it changes everything, including whatever I had planned, and there just isn’t any  way around that. I grew up in a household controlled entirely by my mother’s health issues and here I am again.

I’m an adult now, though. I get it’s not all about me, and I’m pretty clear that I’m here for my mother and not for me. So her needs take precedence, and I just try not to hang on too tightly to my expectations, so I’m not disppointed all the time like I was when I was little. In fact, I try not to have expectations in the first place, but that’s easier said than done, for sure. I knew a guy once who was a pessimist and he said the benefit of always expecting the worse was that he was almost never disappointed and sometimes he was pleasantly surprised. 🙂

I am fundamentally an optimist, though, so I’m afraid I can’t easily stop my battered brain from hoping, but I try hard to keep an open mind and heart and just go with the flow. Not necessarily without disappointment, but without resentment, and that has made the difference. Resentment will eat you up and spit you out if you let it, and I let it for a long time, I’m sad to say. I’m older and wiser now, though, and I avoid the R-word at all costs. Therapy helped me recognize it and banish it, and I’m so deeply grateful for that. Now meditation helps keep it from sneaking up on me.

So I’ll hope that the NOTHING plan comes off without a hitch today, but if not, well, I’ll do what needs to be done. Whatever it is. That’s what I signed up for, and that’s just the way it is right now. It won’t be this way forever. Who knows where or with whom I’ll be next  Thanksgiving? There’s always the chance that this is the last Thanksgiving for my mom, or for me, for that matter. The future is not meant to be known. If it was, we wouldn’t be able to go on, would we?

Holidays mark time. Among all the non-descript days in the year they stand out in our memories. I know exactly where I was on Thanksgiving day last year, and the year before that, the years my dad and grandma were with us, and the year I had 12 people at card tables in my little kitchen and we played Uno after dinner. Unlike most of the rest of the days that just glide by in the busy-ness, holidays are special. Friends and family gather and we celebrate our human life and each other and all that’s good in the world. We witness the changes in each other in the last year, and remember those who are no longer with us.

Hopefully we spare a thought for those who are alone or homeless or who’ve suffered tragedy in the last year, too. Because holidays mark the bad years, too, sadly. They are guideposts through the year, marking our passage through the Grand Turn, our trip around the sun, for better or worse. This year we’re good, other years less so. All part of our lives, the good and the bad. There’s no avoiding either.

So Thanksgiving is over and now on to Christmas, which I’m less inclined to look forward to, but still, there are good things, and it serves as an opportunity to take stock, give thanks and celebrate life and love and the return of the Light. I’m not a Christian per se, anymore, but I’m all about the light and the Solstice and the turning of the year. When I was a practicing Episcopalian, Advent was my favorite time of year. The anticipation of light’s (and life’s) return is especially meaningful to us in the northern realms, where light and growth is scarce for much of the year.

Whatever holiday you celebrate, in whatever way you give thanks and mark time, I wish you well and I wish you much more of whatever it is you long for.

For myself today and tomorrow I’m wishing and hoping for nothing. For rest and restoration. Renewed strength for the way forward.

In my pajamas! Onward ho.

Tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine

My first computer was a Coleco® Adam.

You had to write the programs, type them into memory and save them on a tape drive that looked just like an audio cassette. I loved it. Mostly I used it as a word processor cuz I had a program for that, and I was in college so it was really handy for papers, etc. That was 1983. I LOVED it. I wrote other programs for it – games and other easy things – and I spent hours on it. I had it for a long time.

My next computer, after college, was an Apple IIc. I got a bank loan to buy it and an ImageWriter printer.

I had a 5 1/4″ and a 3.5″ floppy drive for it. No hard drive. No mouse. I LOVED it. I used it for years. I ordered software by mail from catalogs – Broderbund, mostly. The screen was all text, no images, of course, but it was awesome. I used it everyday to write stories and balance my checkbook and play games. I had it for a long time. At work, I used an Apple IIe:

Apple IIe

It had a modem and that was the first time I used email. I’m guessing that was about 1986 or ’87. I still have that computer and the modem. Up to that point we had used a Telex machine. Remember those? Yes, Virginia, there was a time when fax machines and email didn’t exist!

I got a modem for my IIc at home and learned how to connect to our local college’s BBS system and email, then later ftp. After that, things moved pretty quickly. I bought a Mac and joined eWorld, which was Apple’s online system, then AOL. Then finally, we had access to an reasonably inexpensive ISP here in my little town, and I had access to the WWW. Text at first, and then Netscape (1994) came along and the internet as we now know it started to take shape.

I had a series of Mac Performas, and then a Windows laptop and then a series of Windows towers and laptops. Early on I had a business designing websites (starting in 1995) and my own website for my business, which became a personal website after my business failed in 2000. In 2003 I started a blog on Journalspace, called Friday’s Child.

I LOVED blogging. I had always journaled on paper and loved writing, and now other people could read what I wrote! And comment! And I read what they wrote and we were a community! Sadly, Journalspace died, so I started a blog on my website using WordPress software. I don’t remember what it was called. Since then I’ve written 2 other “special project” blogs – not for public consumption – and I started this WordPress.com blog in 2008 after scuttling my website.

So, now, here we are. Why did I force you to go on that trip down Tech Memory Lane with me? Well, cuz I think it’s interesting, for one thing. A revolution in the way information is deciminated in a VERY short time historically. I was a part of it, in the way my mom can remember when there was no TV and my grandmother could remember when there was no radio.


My geeky brain recognized the importance and potential of computers when I was young, and I have always been excited to be a part of the evolution of computer use and the internet. For all its imagined evils, the internet is an amazingly empowering thing. The blogsphere, especially, represents a revolution in the world of communication and information transfer among human beings in the last 20 years, and I’ve loved being a part of it.

As a writer, I’ve benefited enormously. I can publish whatever I want online whenever I want. That was not true even when I was in college – in order for a writer’s  (or singer or movie maker or artist) work to be available to “the masses” he/she would have to pass through a publishing gatekeeper. Editors and movie producers and record producers held all the keys and could decide who “got in” and who didn’t.

For writers and photographers and artists, blogging has caused a dramatic shift in what it means to be successful. I won’t ever be published by a big house, or even a paper magazine, probably, but I’ve connected with 100s of people over the years through my writing, and that’s what matters to me.

Community is hard-wired into the human brain. The explosion of the internet – a network of networks – is remarkably like our brains in the way connections are formed and likeness is sought. We want to connect to others who are like us and the internet allows us to do that without physical presence. I can connect to the world sitting in my living room typing on my laptop.

As a young person, I didn’t know anyone who struggled with depression. Even though I knew a lot of people in high school and college, I didn’t know anyone who dealt with a mental illness in the way I did. I didn’t know I had a mental illness – something that was known and had a name. I just thought there was something really wrong with me and I found ways to manage life and stay alive in spite of it. On my own. I had friends, but I was really alone. I did everything I could to try to appear as normal as possible.

It was exhausting and lonely.

That changed when I got on the internet. I found information and found out I was not alone and that yes, there was something wrong with me, but it wasn’t my fault. It isn’t a character flaw,  There are other people who feel like I do. 

What a revelation! When I started writing my blog and started really being myself online, I connected with people who were more like me than anyone I had ever known, and who supported me as I supported them. Through my blog and blogging friends I found other resources online that were helpful – groups and forums. It changed my life in that it changed who I believed I was. 

Online I was a writer and people liked me as I really am, not as I pretend to be to fit in in daily life. Anonymity is a two-edged sword online, though, and that’s where social media runs into trouble. People misrepresent themselves all the time, and that’s too bad, even if their intent isn’t criminal.  Because the real power in the internet, and especially in blogging, is in really being able to be yourself and to connect to others like you – as we really are. Mask off, warts and all. Here I am, world! Anybody out there?

Yes, we’re out here. Ready to reassure you, ready to know you as you really are. No need to hide. Not here. Be yourself, tell us about yourself and we will welcome you. Tell your story. Post your photos, your art, tell us about your dreams and your failures. Make us laugh, make us cry, make us feel who you are and what you’ve been through. What has the experience of life on this planet been like for you? Tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine and we’ll discover that we’re not so different after all, and that we are not alone. 

And that will make all the difference.

Thanks, Jenny, for the reminder.


I’m not wealthy, but I do have 2 houses – one I live in and one I own.

I live in the house I grew up in with my mother. I moved back in 2012 following the death of my father. I had been living in the house I own for 3 years when that happened. I still own it, and currently it sits empty as I’m reluctant to rent it and I don’t want to sell it.

My mother’s house is on a reverse mortgage, so after she’s gone I’ll be moving back into my house. In the meantime, I go there regularly. I do my laundry there every 2 weeks (long story) and in the summer I walk there from work to eat lunch on weekdays. A couple of times a year my best friend comes up and we stay there.

It’s a great house. I keep the lawn and the flower beds up as best I can and I keep the inside clean. It’s pretty small, but it’s perfect for me and I love it. I look forward to living in it again.

Last year, just before Halloween, I got new neighbors next door. They’re renting. I rented for most of my life, so I’m reluctant to judge anyone based on that, but so far they’ve been a disappointment. I don’t know them, and have only spoken to them a couple of times, briefly, as one of us was coming or going. They’re an older couple, and I’m sure they’re nice people, doing the best they can, but like many people I encounter lately, they’re inconsiderate of those around them. They’re hardly ever there when I’m there, so it makes it hard.

The first thing that happened was that they gave their plow guy the wrong address and he plowed my driveway. Okay, not the end of the world, even though he gouged my lawn in several places. I don’t have my drive plowed for that very reason, and because it’s expensive for the little bit I’m there in the winter. But mistakes happen, so okay. They sent their grandson over to apologize one day when I was there. Whatever.

Then the plow guy started plowing their drive, but pushing the snow onto my lawn. I wanted to say something to them about it, but I was never there when they were, so I let that go, too. Yesterday I was over at the house raking and mowing and discovered that he gouged that part of the lawn pretty badly, too. Lovely.

Strike 2.

At some point this winter I noticed snowmobile tracks in the snow in my backyard and saw 2 snowmobiles parked in their backyard. Hmmm. Yesterday I found a 2′ x 2′ patch of dug up lawn and tracks through the rest of the lawn that lead over to their house.

Strike 3. YOU’RE OUT!

So now I have to think of the best way to deal with this. I hate to leave a note on their door, but as they’re never there, I think that’s the only option. I’ll be nice, but I need to make it clear that my property is off-limits. Period.

What gets me is that I have to tell people who should know better that it’s not okay to destroy my lawn. What’s up with that? I don’t know my neighbors’ name or anything about them, really. I hope they don’t have guns. I hope they don’t retaliate. I hate that I have to think that way. It makes my little Aquarian heart sad. But there it is. I hate confrontation, but I can’t let this go on. Apparently it’s not obvious to them that it’s not okay to wreck my place.

I get that people are not always good neighbors. After all, there is that saying that “fences make good neighbors,” and we don’t make up adages for things that happen infrequently. I’ve lived a lot of places and I’ve had less than perfect neighbors before. I’m tempted to think this is a new thing, but I know it’s not, though I do think it’s getting worse. Courtesy in our society is breaking down, in my opinion, and that’s hard to take sometimes.

I’m not naive, but I am an optimist, and my heart gets broken easily sometimes. This is one of those times. I feel disrespected and treated as if I don’t matter, and that’s a real hot button for me. The difference for me now is that I intend to let these people know that it’s not okay to treat me that way. I wouldn’t have done that even a few years ago, because I thought I didn’t matter.

They’ll either stop or they won’t, and if they won’t I’ll have to think about what to do next. But right now this feels like a win already – just standing up for myself is a victory, for which I’m very grateful. I have no control over the outcome, but taking action to try to stop someone from hurting me is better than doing nothing. Also, knowing that I’ve reached a place where I’m able to respond, rather than retaliate is satisfying, too.

Baby steps, but I’m getting there. Thank goodness.


Crushing on life


I play Candy Crush Saga™. I spend an hour or two playing most days. So out of my 15 hours of waking time, say, I spend roughly 14% playing a game. More than some, less than others, I would venture. That two hours is spread out over the course of the day – a couple of breaks at work, an hour or so after dinner most nights.

I don’t consider that to be wasted time for a couple of reasons, the most important being that I enjoy it! I have always liked video and computer games, card games, and board games. I was an only child, so growing up I gravitated toward games I could play by myself and when video and computer games came on the scene I was hooked!

The second reason is that I’m a graphic designer by trade, and Candy Crush (especially) appeals to my designer’s eye. The color revives me when I’m tired of looking at a screen all day, and if I’m having trouble coming up with an idea or working out a design problem, the colors moving around on the screen and the completely different thought process sometimes knocks a solution out of my weary brain. When I’m not at work, it’s nice just to relax and think about something that doesn’t really matter for a while.

Here’s something interesting I’ve noticed lately about Candy Crush specifically, but I’m sure it’s true of some other games, too: it translates to life.

Candy Crush is a “level” game, meaning that as you solve one puzzle, you move on to the next puzzle, which is a little harder. I’ve been playing for a while and I’m currently on level 1800-something, so they’re pretty tricky sometimes. But here’s the thing: I’ve learned skills on the way to level 1800-something that help me solve those puzzles. If I had started out at level 1800, I would have given up immediately, cuz it would just be too hard.

But on the way up over the last couple of years, I’ve solved so many puzzles in so many different ways that I feel confident that I’ll figure out the current one, too. Sometimes it takes what seems like a million tries, but sooner or later I solve even the toughest levels and I move on. I am confident that I can figure out how to overcome anything I encounter on any level because I have in the past.

What’s important about that is that in my life I’ve been a quitter, or a non-starter if something seemed too hard. “Persistent” is not a word you would have used to describe me when I was younger. Chronic depression caused me for most of my life to be overwhelmed fairly easily, and I typically melted into a deep pool of “I can’t” when faced with too much resistance.

Not with everything, fortunately. I have stayed employed with 2 companies for most of my career, and I managed to run a successful business for a few years, too. The things I gave up on too easily were mostly things I wanted, not so much things I needed. Relationships, a desire to live somewhere else (away from my family), my dreams and aspirations.

Candy Crush Saga didn’t teach me resilience or persistence. Life has taught me those things, though it took me a long time to catch on. Depression has taught me, too. I kept getting through it, over and over, hanging on when I thought I couldn’t, more times than I care to remember.

Over and over about a lot of things I think “I can’t,” but I do. My job keeps changing – new technology, new people, new ideas all the time. Everyday I’m challenged to do something I’ve never done before; something I’ve never even thought about before. I start to panic a little, and then I start a new game. I focus on the colors and the movement and I think, “no, wait, what if I tried…” and something in my brain opens up and there’s the answer to the new challenge. I’m reminded that I’ve faced challenges before – real and virtual – and I’ve overcome them.

When my home life challenges me, I sit down at the computer and I am reminded that sometimes it takes a million tries to get to the next level, but I will get there sooner or later if I just keep trying.

So a computer game didn’t teach me that, but it reinforces it everyday. It reassures me that I’ll get past this level and with the same determination, if I just keep trying, I’ll get past whatever challenge I’m facing in my job or my life, too. I have the skills and the knowledge I need, if I don’t let myself fall into that “I can’t” pool.

You can’t win if you don’t play the game, and you can’t have what you want in life if you don’t keep trying for it, over and over, until you get there. My intention now is to keep “leveling up” until I run out of time.

All this from a computer game? Yes. Life is all around us. The universe calls to us in everything we do, in everything we see. Come on and play! Every moment is precious and everything we encounter can teach us something of value. Don’t miss a bit of it. It’s there if you look, and if you keep trying to see your way to the next level.


Note to self:


Resentment is a sneaky, back-stabbing liar. It’s worse than fear or even self-pity, cuz you don’t see it coming. It slithers right up close without making a sound, and whispers its siren song so seductively in your ear, that the lies slip right past your “crap” sensor and are part of the story you tell yourself almost instantly. No editing, no critical review, just “Yeah, that’s how it is.”

Except it’s not. It’s a lie. It’s a skewed way of viewing the truth that turns it into a lie. It’s seductive because it makes you a hero. It claims that what you’re experiencing is Unfair! Not your fault! The worst thing that anyone has ever experienced! You, you poor soul, you have been treated horribly unfairly and you deserve so much better! Because you are fabulous and wonderful, and no one should treat you that way.

No doubt that that way is something difficult to deal with. No doubt that you are fabulous and wonderful. No doubt that you may have to mourn something you have lost, or give voice to your anger, or heal in some other way. Probably you didn’t deserve it. Probably you were just living in the best way you could, and someone came along and treated you that way. Or maybe it was just Life, that non-respecter of persons, that dealt you a blow you feel was completely unfair, and you just can’t let go of it. Because: Why Me? Why, oh, why, poor unsuspecting, trying really hard just to get along, doing the best that I can everyday, little ole me?

And there’s Resentment, standing next to you, saying, “Yeah, why you? Not fair, dude. Are you going to just let that go?” And you say, “No! I won’t stand for it! I’ll never recover! I’ll never forget.” Resentment smiles and rubs your back, and hands you a piece of chocolate or a drink, or a pill, and says, “Don’t worry. I will never leave you. I would never treat you that way. You’re safe with me now.”

Except you are sooooo not safe now. You have just given your life away. You now have a lying scumbag in your brain telling you you’re justified in everything you do – being a crappy human being, treating other people horribly, failing to do the things you wanted to do and/or are responsible for, eating/drinking/drugging/whatevering too much. Your life gets worse and worse – you’re dying – and yet you keep listening. Resentment keeps whispering in your ear, “Not your fault. Not fair. Not your fault.” Meanwhile, it’s feasting on your brain, your heart, your lifeblood, getting stronger everyday.

If you’re lucky, at some point, you are able to see Resentment for the lying scumbag it is and send it on its way. Get some counseling, start journaling, meditating, praying – doing whatever you need to do to get over whatever that thing was that allowed you to be duped. Let it go. Forgive, forget. Life is hard. Accept that. Move on. Live in the present, and let go of the past. Bad things happen to good people every minute of every day. There’s absolutely no reason you would be spared. You’re just not that special.

No one is.

Instead of WHY ME, consider WHY NOT ME? Be grateful for the things you have been spared and mourn/heal the things you weren’t. Feel sad for yourself, deal with the pain in whatever healthy way you can and move on. Don’t give Resentment the opportunity to get close enough to whisper its lies. Keep moving. Keep living.

Easy? No! Very, very hard. No kidding. Show yourself compassion. Be patient and kind. It’s not easy; few things of value in this life are.

It is simple, though. If you don’t do it – if you don’t send Resentment packing – you will miss your life.

Your precious challenging, beautiful human life.