the jar

it is here, all around me...if only i could capture it. bottle it up, like the fireflies in june. poke tiny holes in the lid of the old mason jar, allow it to breathe...to stay alive for everyone to enjoy.

but you can't bottle it. i want to believe it's too big for that. it would fill the jar and spill out over the edge...honey thick, running down the sides. the welling-up comes again...so much kindness, so much love.

it is here, all around me.


let it in...

from an old journal excerpt:

love is my most powerful weapon against fear, anxiety, depression...
and i have a great deal available to me,
if i only let it in.


35 by 35...

my cousin katie and i for our birthdays in 2010

okay, so i wrote this in my sweet little moleskine over a month ago {the big day was 7.20} and it's finally making it to the screen.  here we go....
  1. go to blanco tx - antiques
  2. participate in ARToberFEST
  3. make s'mores at the beach
  4. take salsa lessons again with d
  5. go to the drive-in in ennis
  6. write 5 chapters of my memoir
  7. finish my death/dying course
  8. bake x-mas cookies with mom/geg
  9. read one book a month {minimum}
  10. do a triathlon with my sister
  11. fly a kite
  12. go to dewberry farm
  13. make tamales with my mother-in-law
  14. spend the weekend in wimberley
  15. go to schlitterbahn
  16. celebrate my 3rd anniversary of being smoke-free
  17. get my bike fixed
  18. submit an article for publication
  19. find a local Nia class
  20. make my {famous} tiramisu
  21. attend a book reading
  22. create a lovely outdoor space
  23. sustain my writers group
  24. watch my dreads start to grow again
  25. catch a fish on my father-in-law's boat
  26. learn everything i can about hospice social work
  27. go to the rainforest at moody gardens
  28. buy a new lens for my camera
  29. create a CEU presentation
  30. go to an outdoor concert
  31. take a romantic getaway with d
  32. recycle more
  33. get a pedicure
  34. go to new mexico in the RV
  35. be brave.


cool off...


good morning



Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.  ~Peter Ustinov



as i was trying to decide how to write what i've been feeling lately, i started looking through my archives for a photo to go along with the post. the image above was taken over a year ago on a glorious spring day when my husband went to a conference on the SMU campus and i wandered around with my camera. this sculpture is actually a moving art piece...it squiggles along like a snake above the water. when i went to name the image for this post i immediately typed swervy {i am notorious for making up words}. and in doing this, i instinctively typed swerve in my google search bar to find the definition.  here is what merriam-webster had to say:

{Synonym Discussion of SWERVE}

swerve, veer, deviate, depart, digress, diverge...to turn aside from a straight course. swerve may suggest a physical, mental, or moral turning away from a given course, often with abruptness. veer implies a major change in direction. deviate implies a turning from a customary or prescribed course. depart suggests a deviation from a traditional or conventional course or type. digress applies to a departing from the subject of one's discourse. diverge may equal depart but usually suggests a branching of a main path into two or more leading in different directions.

i continue to find it amazing how the universe puts everything right where i need it, at the exact moment in which i need it. yesterday morning i woke up lazy and stayed in bed to read while d was getting ready for work. it was a book i started months ago, and abandoned when i no longer needed it, but picked up again recently. it is titled writing as a way of healing, by louise desalvo {whose blog is great too}. the words poured into my parched soul, overflowing my writer's heart with joy. i spent most of the morning working on timelines for my memoir and blissfully focused on writing.
then last night, i cried in bed. i was tired and overwhelmed and anxious and irritated. i was freaking out about our {summer adventure}, money and jobs and "irresponsible behavior." i was the polar opposite of the joyful creative soul of only 12 hours prior. and the fact that my mood could swing so wide in the course of a day was making me even more frustrated. but after a good cry and talking it through with david, i realized something i have known for a long time.
taking the road less traveled isn't supposed to be easy. sometimes, going against the grain can cut you wide open. and in those moments when my dreams are so close i can feel their breath warm on my face, it can be really damn scary. i think i was crying for the path i am leaving, the sharp turn i have made in the direction of my wildest dreams. i am anticipating the bumps ahead, blazing this trail so few have traveled before me. i am gathering the support i will need and the tools necessary to navigate the ever-changing terrain.
watch me while i swerve.


dreadlock love

i haven't done a dreadlock post since i first got them...mostly because i've been doing youtube videos of my progress and haven't really had much to WRITE about them. but today i do. one of my artist lovelies, connie at dirty footprints, recently cut off her dreads...just about the time i was falling deeply in love with mine. i adore what she wrote in her post {alongside the most incredible self portrait sketch} "sometimes hair is just hair."

i've been thinking a lot about this journey i've been on to find my true path and live my authentic life...it sounds all oprah-y onscreen, but it is truly how i've felt over the past year. when i decided to commit to dreadlocks i hoped that they would teach me about patience, about trusting the process, about the spiritual journey toward truth.

but some days, they're just a mess of knotty hair.

i have learned to love all their loopy madness, the frizz and itchies, and altogether craziness. i have learned {again} that life is beautiful in its imperfection, that although i still get anxious about the future, i still worry and obsess and become impatient for everything RIGHT NOW...it will all work out in the end.  i trust that in a few years i will have gloriously imperfect locks, that i will have finished the book, that life will still be messy and i'll still have to tell myself to breathe when the yucks come rushing in.

i am only two months into my dreadlock growth...i have a long road ahead of me. i know that it is just hair. but i also secretly hope that i can take all this love i feel for them today and spread it out into the world.


things that tingle my happy places....

pelicans soaring along the bridge        
                    blue moon drafts with an orange slice
                                        climbing the tree along the highway
                         fresh paint
                            the smell of charcoal from the grill
                                    no line at the post office
                        reconnecting with my inner student
super dooper dreadlock loops        
             legs dangling over the seawall, licking ben & jerry's off the same spoon as my baby
      a hug from my patient when i leave the house
                                          driving along the ocean, windows open wide
                           painted toenails
     shaking my booty at Nia dance class
                                       ripe raspberries that remind me of grandpa


i am not a monster...

i have been wanting to go to the rosenberg library since we moved to galveston...and finally had the chance to go!  i was just wandering the memoir section (my mind and reading habits are all in one place these days!)...and stumbled on My Invented Country by Isabel Allende. i was having a really rough day and decided i needed a glass of wine and a seat overlooking the crashing waves with my lovely new book. i could not have prepared myself for what she said to me in those few moments of peace...

from My Invented Country:

Once I heard a famous Afro-American writer say that from the time she was a little girl she felt like a stranger in her family and her hometown. She added that nearly all writers have experienced that feeling, even if they have never left their native city. It's a condition inherent in the profession, she suggested; without the anxiety of feeling different, she wouldn't have been driven to write. Writing, when all is said and done, is an attempt to understand one's own circumstance and to clarify the confusion of existence, including insecurities that do not torment normal people, only chronic non-conformists, many of whom end up as writers after having failed in other undertakings. This theory lifted a burden from my shoulders. I am not a monster; there are others like me.


time flies...

i cannot possibly believe that it's been almost a month since my last post! i've been writing almost every day and taking pictures and so much is going on...but i just haven't (wanted to?) taken the time to post. so...in an effort to recap on all the goodness of the past month, i'm going to include some pictures of the things i've been inspired by and my latest dreadlock update. enjoy!

 my niece...

 the color we chose for our bedroom in the RV....

and the sunsets....i am absolutely enamored by the sunsets.

life is good.


truth challenge #7

someone who's made my life worth living for...

i never really felt that i'd been depressed throughout my grief. at least not in the way it hit me last year. there were multiple times i felt like i just wanted to be dead--not suicidal ideations, i could never kill myself--but rather a longing to have all the chaos and anxiety end. but david would always come home, pull me out of bed and find something to lift me out of the depths of my own misery. the well was so deep some days i felt like that toddler who fell down the long shaft...the police and fireman who finally saved her. those days he was my reason for living...the love i felt for him outweighing the pull to the other side. i knew it would hurt him too much if i were gone. i was able to overcome some of the anxiety by focusing on the future we were planning together. when we would dream those big dreams, i could see beyond the depression which had hijacked my mind.


truth challenge #6

something i hope i never have to do...

bury david. the other day we were at the grave of one of his mentors--who died very young--and D started  talking about his funeral wishes. i am very familiar with funerals and end-of-life decision making...i'm a medical social worker. i am also preparing to start working as a hospice social worker, so it's not like this stuff makes me uncomfortable. it's just that i know i can't lose another person close to me. i used to worry when we first got married that something would happen to him. it doesn't cross my mind as often now, but it's still there when i see a young widow or read about another 30 year old with cancer. i just can't go through planning another funeral while i'm young. i hope i never have to be alone...


truth challenge #5

something i hope to do in my life….

publish my memoir. this should be obvious since it has been the one thing i've been talking incessantly about and the entire focus of my daily writing practice. it is also the one thing i have been consistent at over the past months. i have written more than i have exercised, which is generally the one constant for me. sometimes i daydream that i am being interviewed about the book. i plan out my press tour, visualize myself signing autographs after a reading in a quaint bookshop somewhere out east. i can see the book in my hands, feel its weight—the part of me which has been released from inside and brought forth into the world. i guess i see why people say it's like giving birth to a child, you have to put so much into it—carry it with you for months (years!) and finally it comes to the universe whole, for others to see. i am not as focused on the success of the book, but only on the connections. i yearn for others to read about my experience and see their lives reflected in the pages. these universal themes we all experience as humans are what bring us closer together. i crave that type of interaction with my readers someday.


truth challenge #4

something i must forgive someone for…

the first person i think of is my dad, but what am i forgiving him for? i don't think he's sorry for being an asshole, i don't think he'd ever apologize for being such a jerk an d hurting my feelings. i'm not sure if this is just his personality or his grief or alcoholism. at a certain point i just stopped caring enough to try and figure it out. do i need to forgive him for being thoughtless or uncaring or selfish or rude? the same could go for those friendships i left in the past because they couldn't fulfill my expectations. do i forgive cara for hurting me so badly when i really needed unconditional support and caring from my friends? i am also thinking about andrew witt…but i will never forgive him for what he did. i don’t believe in that type of forgiveness—what he did is unconscionable, and deserves no forgiveness.


truth challenge #3

something i must forgive myself for…

i'm trying to think of something, i guess i need to forgive myself for putting so much pressure to be perfect. to get everything done—to be the perfect wife, social worker, to be healthy and creative and fulfill my life's goals. i need to forgive myself for the unrealistic expectations i placed on myself. i'm finding this question hard to answer…is it supposed to be a mistake i made, something that hurt me, it's weird to look at it that way. maybe it's for being so demanding, and then beating myself up for not getting it all accomplished?

jodie, i forgive you for being a slave-driver, for creating mountain-high TO DO lists and big dreams that were impossible to achieve in the time you allotted to do so.


truth challenge #2

something i love about myself…

my smile. it's always the feature i get the most compliments on, and it's the one thing i do well. well, not the only thing, but i take pride in the fact that i walk down the street, look people in the eye and smile or say hello as i pass. i've noticed people just don't do this much anymore. with their heads down—texting on their phone or distracted by the one attached to their ear—people just aren't friendly like they used to be. i never realized my smile had this effect on people until i sent an e-mail to my old department explaining that i was moving to a new position. about half the people who replied to the message mentioned something about missing my smile. i know that after jamie died this stopped. i didn't walk down the street smiling at strangers. i didn't hold the door open to let them pass. i didn't look people in the eye and say hello. this was just another reason i knew i wasn't myself…it just didn't feel natural not to be smiling.


truth challenge #1

something i hate about myself…

i hate that i get so worked up sometimes and can't get out of it…like this horrifying downward spiral of anger and verbal diarrhea. i hate when i say things i don't mean when i'm feeling overwhelmed and depressed and hurt. i hate that i get so anxious i can barely breathe and sometimes rather than do my breathing exercises or go for a walk or write in my journal or call a friend—i just wallow in it. i hate that these emotions have the ability to paralyze me…literally and figuratively. but the thing i hate most is the anger. it fuels most of the other emotions and makes me a bad wife, daughter, employee. i hate that i can't just shut up and do the things i KNOW i should do to calm myself down and feel joy again. i hate that i just yelled F*@# YOU! to a bug that almost flew in my mouth because i am feeling this way right now. i also hate that i don't know if this is something i always had (and am only now acutely aware of) or if it is a result of my grief. i hate myself in this funk.
this is something i found on another blog...and apologize to its original creator, as i cannot seem to find it again!  the challenge is to complete 30 questions in 30 days to start speaking our truth. it is something i believe i do with every post on this blog, but here's to answering some of the tough questions with brutal honesty...


be free.

i made this video months ago, and couldn't get it to post directly from blogger. i totally forgot about it until tonight.  hopefully it will be better quality through youtube! 



today feels like this. 

i want to be outside with my camera, but i am forced to take a photo walk through the archives.  enjoy.



i got in a huge fight with my dad last weekend, and it has been weighing on me ever since. most of my life it has been this way...most of my life i have blown it off, pretended i didn't care, ignored the pain. it is becoming more and more difficult to carry this burden. i hate to think that each one of these arguments chips away at the relationship that was so strong through my childhood. the days following our argument, i found myself quoting him or thinking of something that he's (in)famous for and that pang of hurt bubbled up again. reviewing some of my journal entries, i came across this one.
we're flying down the highway, dad ejecting a deep belly MOOOOO, the animals unmoved by his mocking at 65mph. i used to think it was funny as a kid, horrifying as a teenager, and in the past year--barreling through west texas--i may have been found doing a drive-by myself. like father, like daughter...how scary. and this is not the only way we are alike: we are more like the bulls butting heads than the pretty dairy cows from the butter commercials. the wild bull and his offspring...passionate, opinionated, proud.



i get to see this every.single.night. it is by far my favorite time of the day. tonight, my love sat with me on a bench on the pier and snuggled under a blanket during the show.


journal pages

i did a layout in my art journal from the other day's post and kinda love it.  the kite string is precious...


in my wish jar...

i want to dance with d and laugh at the movies and eat ice cream on the beach. i want to fly a kite and watch the sunset and bake cookies~no, rice krispie treats~and get a sugar high. i want to feel calm...not worry about debt or my to do list or the {shoulds} that are attacking my soul. i want simplicity, tea with honey and grilled chicken breasts over charcoal. i want pink lemonade and a long straw, kids on swings, and lots of art. i want to take pictures of beautiful things...and not-so-beautiful things...and drive fast with the windows down and sing LOUD. i want my sister back and my family back and i want to be seven at willow knolls and not know about 9-11 and murder and health insurance and pain. i want out {a get out of jail free card} a quiet place to write and read and hope and avoid reality. i want connection and understanding, a place where friends sit around the campfire sharing stories. i want comfort~the arms of my lover, my best friend~to be rocked gently to sleep and awaken anew.



sometimes i can't interpret my own writing when i read over the entries in my notebook. natalie goldberg says that her handwriting changes when she's really in the groove. i can see this now in my own writing practice; over the course of a few months i have filled two notebooks and when i'm truly in the zone...it is nearly illegible. i also find that when i read over the entries i barely remember the words that have been formed by my heart. writing as natalie has taught me, i don't use my brain. at least, not the part of my brain that tells me to cross my t's and use proper grammar. i just GO.

i've started writing on self-created prompts intended for use in my memoir. for 20-30 minutes at a stretch, i am submerged again in my grief, struggling to come up for air. i find myself dreaming now of death and loss; i rarely remember dreams usually, but these have been vivid in my hazy awakening. in one, it is me who is being stalked...a hit out for me and i am aware of the impending violence. last night, a second dream replayed my sister's death, but this time it was expected, a lengthy hospitalization or something. my family was all gathered together when the call came that she was gone.  we still sat in disbelief.

it will be interesting to see how the coming months affect me emotionally, as i dig through lost memories of that dark time. it's been almost 7 years now...and i find it more and more difficult to remember that girl and what she must have been thinking. it's amazing how much is wiped from my memory, how our brain can protect us from trauma, yet leave gaping holes in our histories.  i'm starting to paint again...above is a mixed media piece i worked on last weekend. i think my art goes hand-in-hand with the writing...some things just can't be expressed through words. i am remembering that i am a creative being, that our move to the island was to nurture that spirit inside of me. i am finally beginning to explore her more fully, to stretch into this space i have been granted and settle in for the long haul.



to me, they signify commitment--a journey toward truth, authenticity, a simpler life. in the past, dreadlocks have been linked to several religious movements; today many refer to their spiritual journeys when talking about the decision to dread. i believe for me, they will become a constant reminder to be patient while i find my way along this path. i've learned that they go through their own stages of growth, tightening and locking together, getting stronger and changing form. there will be days when they look crazy...and could take more than a year to become fully mature. i feel that this is precisely what i've been struggling with: the getting there. those times when i know exactly what i want and become obsessed with the destination, the outcome, that i forget about the moment in which i am immersed right now.

i believe that this commitment is one of many that i am making for the long haul. to get my PhD, to write my memoir--dreams that will not materialize overnight. no more instant gratification...i am committing to the life i've been talking about, the long winding road toward the future. i am choosing to begin a new path, to write the next chapter.

and to stop brushing my hair.
my husband actually put them in for me...over 10 hours of hard labor for these babies!  you can check out a few photos from the process here.


take flight

i will always remember my first big girl bike. specifically, that it was pink. and this surprises me, because i don't remember being a particularly pink kinda girl. but the bike was brand spankin' new and it was mine. it had a slick banana seat, patterned with miniature flowers and sparkles inside the shiny top coat. the handlebars had rubber grips and i'm pretty sure there were streamers bursting out from the ends. i had learned to ride on a bike with training wheels, but this beauty would never be bogged down with such childish accoutrements. this was only for girls who could hold it steady, push off with one foot, and churning the pedals faster…take flight.



beauty cradled us in her magnificent arms, rocking slowly to the sounds of the sea, the glitter on the water.


restless extremes

i carry a lot of polarities inside of me, always vying for attention, one slowly gaining ground only to be taken over by a surge in its opponents' strength. at this point in my life, it is my desire to become a full-time-bohemian-nomad, living a creative lifestyle vs. my financially responsible professional self who wants to be sure my resume can hold water in the future. this has been a constant struggle throughout my life.

i am a wanderer. i love new places, adventures, challenges, and i can't find them working a 9-5 job in an american city. i've known this since i was sitting in a cubicle in the offices of Carat ICG on michigan avenue. back then, i read articles of women adventurers, working as scuba instructors in exotic oceans across the globe. of business owners and travel writers and national geographic photographers. i envied them, yearned for the opportunity to live a life of excitement and adventure. to take the road less traveled by, to be daring, original, to blaze my own path. and i still do this—a dozen years later—craving the untraditional, eager to explore new possibilities, distant lands; seeking fresh ways to share my gifts, learn new skills, expand my mind.

these extremes have become much more apparent over the last three years, as i've been forced to reconcile my wild-child dreams with a marriage and a master's degree. my more stable husband is a study in rationalization, master of pro/con lists and back-up back-up plans. he leaves no room for unexpected contingencies. and after two years of study, i felt the need to actually use my social work degree, to work at a respectable job and make money. but the more i do so, the more i realize…this is not the life i was born to live.



hayley had a large trampoline just outside her back door, which was always covered in leaves and sticks, strewn across the dark fabric. one day we brushed all the debris from the top and began to bounce. higher and higher until she captured something from the sky and brought it down to eye level. it was an ugly thing, dark in color, an almost circle. she encouraged me to collect one for myself; intrigued, i did as i was told and soared into the leaves to pluck one for myself. cross-legged on the warm surface, we cracked open our treasures and i discovered a grotesque collection of seeds inside. i had no idea what to do—believing mine was rotten, or not ripened yet—i frowned in disappointment at my selection. but as i peered over to hayley, the smile on her lips showed that this was not the case. ours were identical, and she quickly used her fingers like a spoon to scoop out the soft insides. i followed her lead and allowed the foreign flavors to tickle my tongue before crunching down on the tough seeds. i thought i might die of pleasure—the zing of the fruit, the warm australian evening, this exotic flavor dancing with my taste buds. "what is this?" i begged. her broad smile widened as she said "passion fruit."



loneliness. my eyes well up as i scribble the word on the page, surprised by it—not the tears, but the naming. it is odd as i feel them trickle down my nose and cheek. i suppose the aftershocks of so much emotion and searching and expectation. but what am i afraid of—this sharing of myself? why was i so scared to reach out, to admit i was lonely, that i needed more to fill my hollow heart?

my face feels hot, the mercury rising in this crowded room, tucked among strangers and new friends. the letting go i promised myself. the slow, aching steps toward healing. the cracking wide open—bleeding onto the page, the words blurry through my salt rimmed eyes. i want to write about heartbreak, my sister's little green urn, about emptiness and pain. i want to write about the long treacherous trail, the broken bones, the torn layers, the shattering of the life i knew. i want to feel it all, let it consume me, envelope me in its cozy mohair embrace. to nourish my cracked soul, fill in the tiny spaces with the nectar of understanding.

i want to see the truth, to be fully present to every hope, wish, desire. to stop stuffing it all back inside the box, desperately pulling at the bow, tying it up all pretty like a new gift. it is inevitable, the bow will not remain—the box crumbles away, decayed and rotted. but it's there inside, still glowing, shining, that tiny green sphere of hope—energy—growing slowly each day. fueled by my fellow artisans, healed by the universe; ready, waiting, pulsing, breathing.

calm. without the layers it is peaceful, free. nothing to stand in the way of the continuous circular journey. i am approaching the curve, it has been coming slowly, but i am closer now. i see the bend, the shift, the opportunity. i will not backpedal, not press the brakes. i will not be alone.
this is something i wrote last november in my workshop at kripalu....i just found it in my notebook. wow.



i've had a lot of homes in my life. but when i say "my hometown," this will always be peoria. grandmothers live there and groups of cousins, the screen porch and grandma o's china collection, cabinets full of antique mementos of a life and past worth displaying. i think of the woodpecker—both with dad as a seven year old, awed at the daring height, and again as a married woman in her 30's, showing off the view to her new husband. i think of christmas eve's and church on sunday, riding bikes criss-cross around the familiar neighborhoods. i remember climbing the treacherous staircase to the top of pat's warehouse downtown, the best view for the fireworks over the river on the fourth of july. there are riverboats and steamboat days and the gus macker basketball tournament: filling the streets downtown with boys in long shorts and matching jersey tanks.

peoria is my grandma's stuffing on thanksgiving, her china dish on the oversized hutch and sneaking sugar cubes. a dozen of tins of christmas cookies and her famous egg salad on doll-sized pepperidge farm bread. peoria is sneaking out with my girlfriends to TP the neighbors house, flying millard's plane, and mowing the lawn on that horrible riding lawn mower on sheridan road. i remember learning to drive in the richwoods highschool parking lot; josh teaching me to drive stick shift in that old rabbit convertible. the easter egg, parties in the basement, beer cans hiding amongst the shelves of cabbage patch dolls. i remember toys-r-us when my name came up on the waiting list the day the doll arrived. my teal-painted furniture—refreshed from the antique streaked blue of my mother's youth. the bubblegum carpet in my bedroom, the aquarium, and the hermit crab in the glass bowl on top of my dresser. peoria will always be swimming: willow knolls, the YMCA, lifeguarding at the park district. standing outside the fire on the way to lakeview with jamie.


this man

it took this man to allow the tough shell to begin to crack. to invite my soul out from the shadows. to clear away the dust and debris, to polish off the rust, and allow me to shine.


the pool

the sounds of children laughing and lifeguard whistles punctuate the view. the hot concrete under our bare feet—the stubbed toes and cool first aid cream to soothe them. i picture the scene in preparation for a swim meet, the lane lines being pulled across the deck like wide snakes, swirling toward the water, bobbing faithfully at the surface to guide our lithe bodies the length of the pool. the turquoise paint chipping from the worn wooden blocks, poised at the edge of the starting line—awaiting the small feet that will perch atop as a baby robin on the rim of the nest. the throb of the gunshot in my ears as i dive out into the warm embrace of the chlorinated bath. the faint cheers and shouts of Tom the Dog. his athletic socks barely visible as i near the opposite end, his arm pinwheeling in a motion only meant to suggest "go faster!" i cannot identify the girls on either side of me, i am only focused on the finish line. my bullseye, looming closer with each frantic kick. my hand smacks the wall with a force reserved for bad children when daddy gets home. it stings slightly as i dart my head above the surface to survey the finish. clear. both sides free from bobbing heads and outstretched hands. i am the winner.


my story

there have been multiple times over the years when it became clear that i wanted to write a memoir. the first was as clear as the michigan lakes, i could see straight to the bottom of it, everything laid out in front of me. and this is strange because i cannot remember anything from that period in my life. i was sitting on mom's cool leather couch on a houston summer morning and began recording a timeline of events for every day following my sister jamie's death. in my heart i knew that these details would prove invaluable when finishing the book i was destined to write.

i recall the subsequent mornings, wrapped in a blanket against the chill of the air conditioner, noting the events of the previous day and pouring my anger and sadness onto the clean sheets. following the funeral this tradition continued, though becoming more sporadic –evenings spent scribbling drunken entries into that old blue spiral notebook until i couldn't see through my tears.

the second time was during that workshop at the hospital, when for a few hours each week i could fulfill my dream of being a writer. the day i presented my short story to the room full of doctors and nursing assistants, i was as sure of anything in my life that i would write my story. the support from my classmates was overwhelming, insisting that my story was only a chapter in a much more important book.

all of these hints culminated when i ran across the posting for natalie goldberg's writing workshop focused on memoir. it was as if i had followed the trail markers, cautiously navigating the well-worn path and arriving at a clearing. in the open field i found all of the authors before me, smiling with an invitation to their private celebration. it was as if they had known i was coming, but it was me who had forgotten the location. writing had slowly crept back into my life like a child under the covers in a storm.

after the workshop ended i could envision my own heart flowing out onto the page, my truth exposed naked in the sunshine. i could feel the power of my pain, cracked open wide and bleeding with my readers at the bedside. to acknowledge my despair, the hopelessness, the filth that lies at the bottom of grief. and the sweetness that comes with surviving it.

it is true: we are stronger than we can ever imagine in the face of tragedy. we are more powerful that we ever thought possible. as humans, we are resilient – we are destined to learn the nature of our existence through incomprehensible means.



p.s. this is my new backyard

truth be told, i had to google the word after reading the critique. my teacher for the first writing workshop i ever attended referred to my narrative as "a little reticent." this was in early 2010 while i was still yearning to become a writer, to stop talking about the book and actually get my pen moving. i'm currently reworking the story to submit for an online publication and excited to see how much my writing has changed over the past 12 months.

and you know what? she was right. i was restrained, i didn't reveal my thoughts or feelings readily (dictionary.com). it has been a problem all my life...and not just in my writing. my therapist referred to this phenomenon  as my "frozen feelings" and charged them with my resulting panic attack. but it was hard to open up, to say what i truly felt and not what i thought someone expected me to say. a year of self-reflection through this space has showed me that this was definitely true. it felt uncomfortable at times to be honest with myself, but i persevered. i did so in the name of authenticity.

i posted a piece of my writing last post and promised to start adding more of my daily musings. but i didn't. weeks elapsed and finally i decided to flip through the old journal and pull from its scribblings. it seemed that once i typed it onto the screen, i was disenchanted. it didn't feel how i wanted it to feel. i closed the document and avoided my blog as a result. but today i opened it again and felt the power of my own words...it's true what they say about letting your writing sit and coming back to it.

so, that's what i'm going to do. tomorrow i will post that entry i struggled with. and today i will spend the afternoon perusing my notebooks and picking some entries which are authentically non-reticent. because that is what this blog is about...overcoming the fear of being truly myself and celebrating the joy of this crazy beautiful life.  here.we.go.


a place i haven’t lived…

milos, greece. but i will someday. i wanted to pretend i lived there during those seven glorious days. pretend that i was european and glamorous and could stay forever taking pictures and making art. but i haven’t lived in one of those dusty stucco houses nestled in the hills, the white gleaming like ivory against the mediterranean landscape. i haven’t woken up with the view of the ocean twinkling below my perch in the hills, with a church to the east and another to the west. i have not received mail or prepared a meal, nor have i taken out the trash.

but in my dreams i am there. in an airy studio with native tunes floating out of an old radio and a breeze that could melt your heart. i have dishes and a garbage can and a flowy ink pen to send airmail messages across the sea. in milos, i am an artist. i am a writer—a famous american writer—with her rabbi husband, the quirky couple who ride their bikes across the island and skinny dip late at night off the pier. i am fulfilling a lifelong dream, to live in a place where i first realized true beauty, where life is simple and safe and inspired.

i have not lived on a tiny island in the aegean sea, with a restaurant in the fishing village that serves grilled calamari so good you’d spend all day on a dirty fishing boat with two stinky men, just to have seconds. an island with secret places to explore, mountains to climb, sparkling oceans to swim. with more sandy beaches than any of her sisters lining the path to athens. a magical place where australian expats throw pottery and open their studios to curious travelers. and the sand artist who works by lamplight, late into the night as tourists admire his intricate handiwork. where greek yogurt is just yogurt and is served with the sweetest honey bees have ever created. and when they dance around the table amongst the teacups and thinly sliced provolone, they are welcome breakfast guests.

in my dreams, the living room opens onto a wide terrace where we take our meals. fresh tomatoes and feta and sweet onions join the rustic bread basket and crisp white wine on the tablecloth. here, i am home.

i haven't put a lot of my writing here on the blog....which doesn't really make sense because the whole point of this blog was for me to improve my writing.  the above piece was sent to the writing group i met at kripalu in november.  we have committed to doing a monthly submission to each other...mostly as a way to stay connected across the country. 

i have been doing an almost daily writing practice, using prompts from my natalie goldberg book old friend from far away. this prompt came from the book, which is full of things to get me going on my memoir.  hopefully i'll be posting a lot more in the weeks to come...i quit my job at the hospital (finally!) and will be moving to the beach full-time.  i'm so excited for my new life i can hardly stand it.  i'll be sure to post about all the changes soon.



my friend lindsay did a vision board workshop at our art studio a few months ago, and i was able to participate in the activity. she set this amazing ambiance, candles on the floor with a huge circle of magazines covering the space. she had tea and cookies and soothing music to complete the picture. and then she gave us an assignment:  find the images that tug at your soul. i didn't blog about it then because i was still getting out of that yucky place, wading through the grime of my mind, learning to listen to the tugs at my soul.

above is the board i created. it's a bit smaller than a child's piece of posterboard (i like to work with squares, if you haven't seen my artwork). it now adorns the wall of our bedroom at my in-laws house...a place where i need to be reminded of my vision for the future.  for the past 3 months david and i have been living a half life: half the week (while i'm working 12 hour shifts at the hospital) in houston, and the other glorious half relaxing at my parents condo on the beach in galveston. i have felt like i have a split personality, anxious and frustrated in houston; peaceful and relaxed once we pass the city limits.

but i have honored my vision board. in mexico, i swam in waters reminiscent of the teal blue above. i have continued my yoga practice since my return from kripalu in november. i am determined to forge ahead in my dream of living the writer's life. i have been reading and absorbing and dreaming of the future. and i am taking that word "create" to heart...that it is only me who can create the life i desire. i cannot allow others to control the outcomes, nor become discouraged at those aspects of which i do not hold the reins.

i believe in setting intentions. in speaking our dreams and releasing these visions into the universe. it is only then that we are strong enough to attempt those first wobbly steps toward the future.