Bright and Early.

It’s 6:30 in the morning on Whidbey Island, and I’ve been up since 5:00.  I spent the morning in my room, but after making coffee a few minutes ago, I moved into the common area of the house – the dining and living area I share with three others.

I’ve only been here since Tuesday, but this very much feels like home.

Last night, after dinner, we spent the evening working on collages. We sifted through piles of magazines, photographs, calendars and other paper containing all kinds of images. We pulled the ones that spoke to us, and then we put them together however we wanted to. I’m a fan of the collage process. I did it more than a year ago, in Round Top, Texas, at another workshop with Christina Baldwin.  I built that collage in my journal and have referred to it often, so I’ve become a believer in the process.  In fact, I recently learned about SoulCollage and ordered some materials from that site, intending to spend part of the holidays building a set of cards for myself.

So last night, I built my collage in my journal, as I’ve done in the past, and I love it. I thought about putting a picture up here for you to see, but I think it’s too close to me right now to be shared in that way. Maybe soon.

After the collage process, I came back to my room and continued reading Ann Linnea’s Deep Water Passage. I had started the book in the afternoon, which is always dangerous when I’m trying to be productive. The best of books can disrupt all activity, and this one pretty much has. It’s about her effort to kayak Lake Superior in her early forties. My sense is that something profound happens on the trip, but I’m not far enough yet into the book to know what that is. I love her language though, and I appreciate the exhaustion she describes of one hard day of kayaking. I’m ready for more.

In fact, since I’ve been up since 5:00 and have done writing of my own and even managed to write up a post, I’m going to give myself time to read before the rest of the house wakes up.

Happy Thursday, everyone. Make it count.

At Whidbey Island.

I’m having an experience I needed but didn’t know I needed until just now.

More than a year ago, I signed up to attend PeerSpirit’s The Self as the Source of the Story workshop in December of 2011. As often happens, work got the best of me, and I deferred my attendance for a year, which meant I was to attend from November 27 to December 3 of this year – as in right now.  Then last week, I got busy at work again, and there were other things going on that made me think it best to skip being here. But in the end, I got a phone call from the facilitator Christina Baldwin. She had read my pre-conference submission and lovingly encouraged me to come. Her call and the positive energy she sent my way helped me realize that staying home would be easier but being here would change me somehow. I decided to make the trip happen, whatever it took. And I’m so glad I did.

First of all, Whidbey Island and the property we are on are gorgeous. I walk around on a nearby land trust that houses a sanctuary and a labyrinth. I look at the trees and find myself thinking that I should, perhaps, never leave. More than that, the women here are…perfect. I’m in a house with four women, all of whom come with different offerings. One brings warmth. Another brings understanding. Another brings adventure.

I walked this morning with understanding and adventure on some trails we were discovering together. I had walked and run the trails a bit yesterday, doing an out-and-back since I didn’t know exactly where the trails went. Today, adventure didn’t want to back-track. She looked around and sensed that we were doing a perfect loop and had much confidence that if we continued forward, we would find our way home. I, of course, felt the twinges of worry. What if we take too long and miss the morning session? What if we take too long, and I don’t have time to shower before we meet as a group? What if we get lost? But I kept quiet and continued walking between adventure and understanding. Wouldn’t you know it? We arrived safely in the meadow where we began, and I even had time to do a bit of work before meeting with the group.

I can’t describe the morning group session yet. Too much happened for me in that circle of women. I need to process it all and continue forward to wherever this place might lead. I just know that I’m in a safe place, and I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing right now.

A Poem from Bentlily.

Recently, my friend Maria introduced me to a pretty cool art/life website called Bentlily: The Art of Noticing Your Life.  I joined the email list, so I get regular emails of poems. Today’s poem made me laugh, partly because it reminded me of of something I wrote after not being able to find a parking spot one day when I desperately needed yoga.

Here is today’s poem from Bentlily:

The irony of losing it over a missed yoga class

I arrive at the yoga studio
so early the air is still chalky with night
I am sparkly with advance satisfaction
imagining how I will glow
how I will unbraid the ropes in my back

my brain is unable to process
that the locked door
means there will be no yoga class
that I have mixed up the schedules
that I have gotten up early for nothing

I abandon my happiness
like a rotten thing

I consider yelling
but a small part of me worries
how I would explain the deranged sound
if a client walked by
or an old boyfriend
walking his dog
with his serene wife

I drive home
planning how much butter I will eat
to get back at the yogis
for their confusing website

my son offers me cereal
and my husband suggests Christmas music
but all I can think of is the coyote we saw last night
on his own in the park
standing quietly
in his right to pounce.

If you enjoyed it, go back to the website and read more. One of my favorites, from November 22, is called Young Love.

Thank you, Maria, for many things, including introducing me to this site.


I’m home after a fun day of training, eating, and playing games with the family. We played Taboo and Rummikub. I won at both. That’s not necessarily what made it fun, but it certainly didn’t hurt anything. I like to win.

I have a gingerbread candle burning in the kitchen, the washing machine and dryer are both humming, and Almost Famous is on HBO. It’s good to be in my space. It’s a little quieter than I’d like though. I’d like someone to be here. I’d like the phone to ring. I’d like to hear the ding of a text message coming in, even at this late hour.

A few weeks ago, I was emailing a friend about some things and sharing a bit of heartache with her.  Her response was, “I’m sorry to hear this. Hang in there. Life is wise.”
Wise, huh? I hope you’re right, friend. I want to believe you’re right.
Some things certainly haven’t gone as I’d expected or hoped, but when I look around, I have to admit that I’ve won quite a bit lately.
  1. My house remodel got done in two relatively painless weeks.
  2. A writer hired me to edit his novel.
  3. My editor accepted my most recent piece with only minor changes. No rewrite needed.
  4. Last Saturday, I had dinner with a girl I’ve known since the fourth grade, and we realized that, nearly three decades later, we laugh together as much as we did as kids.
  5. I’ve lost three pounds in just over three weeks. (This is completely superficial, I know. But I’ll take victories wherever I can find them.)
Even better, looking ahead, I see lots of reasons for joy.
  1. In just two weeks, I will see the Grand Canyon for the first time.
  2. In three weeks, I get to see my dear friend Rey.
  3. I’m going to spend my birthday, which is one month from today, at Enchanted Rock with friends.
  4. I’ll be going to Spain in three months to see my friend Erin and to run the Barcelona marathon.
  5. I got invited to join a Hood to Coast team for 2013.
This is me focusing on the goodness right in front of me. I hope you are able to do the same.
Happy thanksgiving.


I’m sitting on the very edge of my king sized bed.  Bread, who has dictated my position, is nestled right next to me, sprawled just as comfortably as he could be.  The Voice, which I’m catching up on, is playing in the background. So far, I’m rooting for Cody or Bryan or Terry, but I don’t know. I don’t have a clear favorite as I did when Vicci Martinez was on the show. And tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which sends my mind a million different directions.

I’m spending the morning running alone and working out with very cute and very sneaky Jake. Then I’ll spend the day with my family, which means really good food, lots of dogs (Abby, Loretta, Xena, and the newest addition, Sparky), and probably a good dose of backgammon with my parents and nephew. I think it’ll be a nice day, a reprieve from work, and a chance to catch up with my family.

For me, tomorrow is the start of the holiday season. The holidays always get me thinking. Some folks are heavy holiday drinkers. I’m a heavy holiday thinker, this year even more so because it’s a tough time for people I care about. We are mourning broken relationships and marriages, people who’ve left this world but are still very much alive to us, jobs we’ve lost, confidence we want desperately to reclaim, and health issues – too many health issues. If we stop there, we cringe at the thought of daylight and having to get out of bed. But we don’t stop there. We can’t miss the goodness that’s right in front of us.

We have children and families we love, memories we cherish, opportunities we maybe haven’t discovered, friends who check on us and build us up, and the ability to fight for healing. We are incredibly rich.

I received this Note from the Universe earlier this month:

Do you know why happy tears taste the same as sad tears?
Because all tears come from the ocean of love.
I love that. Don’t you?

A Companion.

This morning, I made a new friend at my training session. I train with the very cute, very sneaky Jake of Sweat Shop ATX. I say “very cute” because he’s downright gorgeous, which always makes hard work a little more fun. I say “very sneaky” because so many times I find myself thinking, “This is so much harder than he made it look.” The difficulty just sneaks up on you.

This morning, very cute and very sneaky Jake brought this little guy to my session:

This is Baxter, perhaps the sweetest, most gentle, most wonderful dog ever.  He’s cute, huh?  Baxter walked along with Jake and then, while I worked out, sat sweetly on Jake’s sweatshirt – because, of course, there was nowhere else to sit. Watching Baxter and his complete and utter desire to be near Jake made me happy and sad.

It made me happy because that kind of desire is terribly sweet. Dogs are great that way. They love with boundless energy and are so quick to overlook being fed late or not being taken out for a walk. They just want nearness. It made me sad because I once dated someone who would say, “I’m like a puppy. I’m very trainable.” Now of course I’ve never thought of anyone I’ve dated as dog-like, but I loved hearing those words because the heart behind them was so…pure. The spirit was one of a best friend forever.

I read a quote somewhere that is something like, “I want to be the person my dog thinks I am.” I don’t have a dog. I love dogs but anyone who knows me knows that I am a cat person at heart. (I have my littermate black and white tuxedo cats named Bread and Butter, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I used to joke that I wouldn’t trade them for anything except Skylar, the gentleman mutt-Siamese I had for eighteen years before Bread and Butter, but I quit saying that when I realized that Bread and Butter really do understand everything.) But I love that statement. If I had a dog – if Baxter was mine – I would want to be person he thought I was. I would work really hard at that.

Thank you, Jake, for my workout. And thank you for bringing Baxter along. Bring him back anytime.

Love "The Sessions."

Last night, I had an unexpected outing to the movies to see “The Sessions” starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, and William H. Macy. My friend Brendan picked the movie, and, though I had not heard of it before he mentioned it, I was game just for the experience of sitting in a theater with a friend.

Going in, I knew the story had to do with a guy in his late thirties who was determined to lose his virginity. It turns out that the story is a true one, based on the life of a poet with polio who lived in an iron lung. He hired what he called a sex surrogate to help him. It sounds like a strange story and perhaps even one that would be uncomfortable to watch, but it wasn’t. It was incredibly sweet.

I think different people can walk away with different things from this movie. For me, it was about making connections – personal and meaningful connections – in the most unexpected places. Intimacy can mean different things to different people. Sometimes it’s physical in the heaviest sense of that word. Sometimes it’s a simple touch. Sometimes it’s words or even a look passed from one person to another. But connectedness, whatever form it takes, is incredibly beautiful.

This movie was incredibly beautiful. It simultaneously tore my heart open and ripped it to shreds. I’m still processing what I saw, but I think it gave me hope.