Friday, December 30, 2011

A Year in the Life

“We've hauled some heavy loads, and had our episodes of crazy, like you do. But we've come through...What a year it has been. “ --Erin McGaughn at Seattle Unity

Happy New Year Everyone!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Day of Rest

"Physiologically we were meant to be restful with periods of activity, not active, active, active, with periods of rest." --Dr Mark Dunn 

Today was my birthday and I took the day OFF. Grabbed a sitter and my sister and headed off to do whatever the heck I pleased. 

For me this included a few hours at Value Village, a few more at the spa, dinner at Thrive and a little Love Actually

It was a great day and I highly recommend it to everyone. Create a day this month just for you. Take a break. Do whatever you want. Rest. Relax. Breathe. Have some fun, whatever that means to you. It's good for the soul!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A New Way of Looking at the World

This video was kind of hard for me to watch at first because it reminded me so much of myself. Of who I was most of the time before I started focusing on spirituality and who I still am in my lowest moments.

If only "compassion glasses" were standard issue for all humanoids. What a wonderful world that would be.

With thanks to Lynnet McKenzie for sharing this with me!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

May you find Christmas in your heart AND under your tree this year!

"He who has not Christmas in his heart will not find it under a tree." --Roy L Smith from

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In Praise of B.M.S.*

"Sex is like pizza. And there's no such thing as bad pizza." --Tom B
My husband and I had some really, really *Bad Married Sex the other day. And it was awesome. 

Let me explain....

It had been awhile and the husband was getting desperate. I was aware of this, but also all too aware of the million things on my holiday "To Do" list and that had been taking precedence for close to two weeks. Two. Weeks.

So even though I was NOT in the mood I knew I had to give it up or suffer the consequences: a moody, grumpy and, for all intents and purposes, useless husband. That was just not going to work around the holidays.

So, sex. 

But let's be honest, I wasn't exactly gagging for it. I was doing my wifely duty - while trying to decide what to get the babysitter for Christmas - and that showed in our performance. It was some of the worst sex we've had to date. 

About halfway through I thought about calling the whole thing off, but we were already undressed and the kids were halfway through a show so I hung in there. 

Still, somehow yin found yang and we both got there in the end. 

The funny thing was, not only did it change his mood, it changed mine. I felt lighter. Calm. Centered. Satisfied

I went back to my "To Do" list with a spring in my step, humming a Christmas tune.

I wouldn't agree with Tom 100% - I've had plenty of bad pizza. But even bad pizza has it's advantages.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Choose Wisely

"You're always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past." --Richard Bach

I lost $250 the other day. Or, at least I thought I did.

I was in charge of teacher gifts for both of my sons' classes this year. A total of three classes, seven teachers and more than $1000. It was a lot of checks and cash and envelopes and forms to keep track of and manage.

The day I went to hand out the gift cards I found I only had six packets, not seven. One was missing. One worth $250. 


I started to panic. To go down that road of....Oh, great. Just what we need to have to replace $250 worth of gift cards right before the holidays.... 

And then something clicked or shifted inside of me and I thought: Wait. Maybe the packet is just missing from my order. I should probably check before I freak out. 

So I put my freak out on hold and sent an email to the guy in charge of procuring the gift cards. In the meantime I went about my business for the day, not fretting about the missing gift card, knowing all was in Divine Order and would be taken care of. 

And a funny thing happened. I started to realize that losing the gift card really wasn't the end of the world. I realized that if having to replace $250 worth of gift cards was the worst thing that happened to me that day I was still pretty lucky. It wasn't a life, it wasn't a limb. I was doing all right. 

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

In the end, of course, I hadn't lost the gift card after all and all was well. But I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity to practice choosing a different future.

Friday, December 16, 2011


"Do less; enjoy it more." --The Universe

This is another repeat (it seems to be a week of repeats...), but this one bears repeating around this time of the year. 

It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of the holidays - the doing and the going and the shopping - and miss the moments of quiet and ease and bliss. The sacred moments that are also a part of this time of year. 

The first bite of a soft gingerbread cookie. The quiet strains of "What Child is This," playing on the radio. The warmth of a fire. 

I had a minor panic attack this morning when I realized that there was no way I was going to get everything on my "to do" list for today done. NO WAY. 

Ordinarily I would have pushed myself harder when I realized this. Skipped breakfast. Cancelled my lunch plans. Been running like 60 to get the kids on time. But not today. Today this quote sunk in, just a little bit, and I was able to pause. Take a breath. Make a smoothie. Remove two or three things from my list and prioritize the rest. 

I got done what I REALLY needed to do today and I trust that the rest will take care of itself. In the meantime, I was able to enjoy my day more than I imagined was possible.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In Defense of the Attacker

"Ignorance does not yield to attack, but it dissipates in the light." -- David R. Hawkins, Power Vs Force

 On the playground the other day one of the moms I was talking to made a derogatory comment about a kid who was playing nearby.

That kid happened to be a friend of one of my kids. He is a sweetheart - not without his issues, like all of us - but a real sweet kid at his core. 

And I didn't say a word.

Partly, I didn't know what to say. What I was thinking was, "What kind of a person (adult) makes fun of a kid? Expletive. Expletive." I couldn't say that, so I said nothing. 

Talking it through with my husband later that night I realized what I could have said (should have said?) was something along the lines of: "I know that kid; life is kind of hard for him." 

A non-judgemental statement of compassion. Why is that so hard?

It's so hard because I was judging HER for the comment she made instead of recognizing right away that the kind of adult who makes fun of a kid is one who feels pretty darn bad about herself. Who feels like she is a mess. Who is in a lot of pain.

Finding compassion for the attacker is not easy. It's not easy when someone is mean to you certainly, but it's also not easy when you see someone being mean to someone else. Especially someone younger or smaller or less capable of defending themselves. 

But the thing is, when someone is being mean, lashing out, trying to hurt someone else, it is almost always because they are trying to avoid feeling the pain inside of themselves. I know this to be true about kids who are bullies, but I believe it is also true of adults (and of all of us at certain times and in certain situations). 

Finding compassion for the bully as well as his/her victim, allows us to defend without attacking and ultimately, I believe, to find compassion for those lost and messy and painful pieces of ourselves. And THIS is the groundwork for peace in the world.

Monday, December 12, 2011

And you just never know which it's going to be.

"...[S]ome days are magic; some are mud." --Donn "Murph" Murphy, proprietor of Playa Sonrisa in Xcalak, Mexico 
This quote is a repeat from February 17, 2010, but this weekend at our house seemed perfectly designed for this quote, so I am using it again. 

Both days (Saturday and Sunday) started out the same way - with a blissful family snuggle in our king-sized bed - but that was where the similarities ended.

Saturday had all the hallmarks of a great day: we were getting our tree and decorating our house, we had two holiday parties to go to and the whole day with nothing scheduled to prepare for both. 


Things just didn't go well. The kids were fighting. I was grumpy. My husband was saying and doing the wrong thing at every turn (did I mention I was grumpy?) Everything we did just seemed to go wrong.

The tree was hard to set up, the soup I made for lunch was too hot and didn't taste good. The lights didn't work, the holiday letter my husband wrote made me cringe.

Things got a little better at holiday party #1, although everyone there seemed a bit subdued and out-of-it themselves. A nice time was had, but it wasn't quite as raucous or as light as in past years.  We missed most of party #2 because we got stuck in traffic going to party #1.  Everywhere we looked, it was nothing but MUD.

Still, at the end of the night we had to admit that it wasn't such a bad day after all and that worse things happen at sea....and every day and all the time. 

Sunday, on the other hand, had all the hallmarks of a nightmare day. We had to get the kids up early (after staying out WAY too late at party #2) for church (never an easy task) then take our younger son to his soccer game, get ready to host a family dinner that night and meet the cousins for Santa photos at 5PM. 

The thing is? It all went smoothly. The grumpiness of Saturday was gone. The kids were cooperative and didn't complain about church. They didn't fight about screen time. The house seemed to clean itself and we even got to take a short nap. There was no line to see Santa and we figured out a way to share the cost so that it didn't break the bank. Dinner was lovely and we all got to bed at a reasonable hour. MAGIC at every turn. 

The thing that gets me is that you just never know. You just never know which it's going to be. You can plan the perfect day and work your ass off to make it happen and get nothing but MUD and you can do nothing special and stumble upon MAGIC. 

The only thing to do is to appreciate the magic when it happens and slog through the mud as best you can, knowing that unexpected magic is just around the corner.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Perfect Harmony

I've been swimming lately, instead of running, for exercise because I hurt my foot. It has been really great getting back into the "swim" of things and I find that I crave that time in the water now like I used to crave going for a run. 

In a lot of ways swimming is the perfect exercise: it works the whole body, it's easy on the joints, and the world underneath the water is silent and still in a way the world around us rarely, if ever, is. 

But the facts of swimming at a community pool are these: there are a lot of other people who want to swim too and not everybody swims at the same pace. Sometimes these two things mean that my time in the pool is not always harmonious. At least in my head. 

I find myself thinking a lot about where I am and who is behind me or ahead of me. Am I going too fast? Am I going too slow? I tell myself that a wide range of speeds and abilities is just part of the deal at a community pool, but I often find myself worrying about it, wondering if someone is mad at me for how I am swimming or feeling annoyed at someone else for how fast or slow they are going. 

It wasn't like that yesterday. 

It started out worse. I got to the pool late, after lap swimming had already started, and "my" lane (for medium swimmers) was full. Not just full. Crowded. Three people is a full lane. Four or more and it feels pretty crowded. There were already five people in the lane when I got there. I would make six. 

I looked over at the fast lane. Only two swimmers, but they were FAST fast. That wasn't going to work. So I took the plunge. 

I strapped on my goggles, hopped in the medium lane and started swimming. And somehow it just worked. We were in sync. Stoke, stroke, stroke. Turn. Stroke, stroke, stroke. Turn. Not a bump or a pass or a close call in sight. I could feel the harmony with every stroke. 

This tune came into my head from a 70's Coke Commercial, "I want to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony...." and my heart swelled and a smile came to my lips and I thanked the Universe for this moment of perfect harmony in the midst of a lot of strife and stress and anxiety on the planet. 

There is a lot going wrong out there. Don't forget to notice the "perfect harmony" moments in your life.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


"A word I've come across a lot during the years is 'abundance'. Self-help books encourage us to welcome abundance into our lives. If we think abundant thoughts then abundance will automatically grace us.

The dictionary tells me that abundance is, 'an extremely plentiful or oversufficient quantity or supply.' In these difficult financial times, is it realistic to expect abundance? Do we really need an 'oversufficient quantity'? 

I'm coming to feel pretty fond of the word 'enough'. Enough is saving the washing up water and putting it on the roses. It's appreciating every melting moment of a square of bitter chocolate. It's chanting for an extra half hour, even though you're dying for a cup of tea. It's having a terrible morning and then noticing those red berries on a walk to the post-box. Those red berries!" --Fiona Robyn

Another quote (the first one is here) from one of my favorite bloggers, Fiona Robyn. This one feels like something I have wanted to say for YEARS, but have never found just the right way to say it. Fiona did and I am grateful.

Especially right now as I contemplate Christmas and all the gifts I have to? Need to? Want to buy? It makes me wonder.....what is enough? 

Is it enough to get my kids a few books? Or do they need the latest gaming system? Is it enough to get my friends a nice card? Or do I need to get them "a little something" to go with it? What is necessary? What is expected? What is enough? 

The thing is, of course, that neither I nor my kids nor my husband nor my friends nor any of my close relatives really NEEDS anything. We have everything we need. We have food. We have clothes. We have books and games and amusements galore. We have enough. 

What do you get for the person (people) who already has "enough?"

I would love to do a "no gifts" Christmas sometime. Just holiday cheer, appreciation and gratitude for what we already have. Maybe a nice meal together. I think that would be enough for me. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Beginning of Wisdom

"Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom." --Theodore Rubin from @ReikiAwakening on Twitter
Another gem from Twitter. Just trying to find my kindness in every situation I find myself in this week. It ain't always easy, but hopefully it's the beginning of wisdom :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

4 Angels

"We are all each others angels and demons." --Ethan Hawke as Jesse in Before Sunrise
According to Stephen Tobolowsky, legendary character actor and writer of one of my favorite podcasts, The Tobolowsky Files, any actor who makes it in Hollywood has had at least four angels who have helped them along the way. This idea got me thinking about my life and some of those people who have been my angels:

My fourth grade teacher, Loah Grabill. She was the consummate elementary school teacher - single, with no kids of her own and had been doing it for years. She didn't take any guff, and at the same time, encouraged our imaginations and gave me freedom in a way no adult in my life had up until that time. She let us sit wherever we wanted in her classroom and arrange our desks however we wanted them. (For a large part of the year a group of us arranged our desks in two circles side-by-side - one for KAOS and one for CONTROL - as we brought a nearly year-long game of Get Smart into the classroom. Miss Grabill took it all in stride.) She encouraged imagination, innovation and out-of-the-box thinking before it was the thing to do. She also knew how to draw the line and yelling out of classroom windows (I did this once and had to bang her erasers for days) and misspelling words (she yanked a report I had written from being on display at parent's night because I had repeatedly misspelled the word "flies") was not tolerated. 

Herb Marks - My Comp Lit professor during my freshman year of college, he loved my writing and gave me more encouragement as a writer than perhaps anyone else in my life. He always gave me A's on my papers (more often than not A-pluses and once even an A plus plus), used my writing as an example of WHAT to do, and made it clear that he thought I had talent. Despite my boyfriend's insistence that his intentions were less than honorable, he never once hit on me and even hired me to babysit his kids. Any confidence I have in my writing I put down to the seeds of encouragement Herb planted in me.

Mark Simmons - aka my husband. Mark has shown me, more than anyone else in my life, the power of unconditional love. No matter how grumpy or mean or crappy I have been to him, he has always loved me. He has also never stopped pushing me to be my best self (a trait which has often led to me being grumpy, mean or crappy). This has been a source of conflict between us (sometimes a person just needs to be their worst self, especially in the privacy of their own home), but in the end I wouldn't trade it for anything. I am the person I am today, the parent I am today and the woman I am today in large part because of my husband. 

Cat Saunders - My therapist and writing mentor, Cat helped me find my voice when I had lost it along the way. She taught me that "no" is a complete sentence and gave me permission to put myself and my needs first, at least some of the time. She encouraged me to speak up for myself, to speak out about my needs, and to speak my truth, with love, in the moment, in whatever way made that possible for me. She offered me non-judgmental unconditional love and support at a time when I needed it most. I wish everyone could find their Dr. Cat. 

As we move from the season of thanks-giving to the season of giving, I would like to thank all of these angels in my life for all they have given me. And I would love to hear from you about those who have helped you along the way. Who are YOUR angels?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


"If you don't stick to your values when they're being tested, they're not values, they're hobbies." --Jon Stewart

I heard this quote on the radio the other day in the midst of making a decision about my new phone. You see, a little more than a month ago my beloved iPhone went for a swim. In our toilet.

My younger son was "peeing and playing" (we now have an official rule in our house: NO PEEING AND PLAYING) and my iPhone landed in the drink. He knew this was bad. BAD bad. And he came right up to me and confessed with a very worried look on his very sweet face.

I immediately knelt down and let him know it was okay and that I was very proud of him for telling me the truth. Then I plunged my iPhone into a bowl full of rice and waited.

Alas, to no avail. The wet phone in the rice trick didn't work. Nor did a trip to my local Apple store or another vendor they recommended. My iPhone was history.

The thing is, I wasn't really that sad. In fact, the week I went without my iPhone was kind of liberating.

After I walked the kids to school, I would walk home enjoying the fresh air and scenery because my head wasn't stuck in my phone. I wasn't always texting or tweeting or checking email. And when I did, it was on the couch with a cup of tea in hand. A much more pleasant experience than standing up at the kitchen counter in between washing dishes and taking out the trash.

I began to imagine a life without an iPhone, and I liked the picture in my head.

So I logged onto Credo Mobile to see what they had available and, oh baby, this is what I found:
BlackBerry Style 9670 - Purple
The Blackberry Style. Even the name is smooth. 

It was love at first sight.  

With this phone - I told myself - I wouldn't be tempted to walk and text or parent and surf. I would continue to use the paper calendar I had drafted for emergency use while without a phone for a week. And it was a flip-phone, which would fit easily into my pocket. 

Best of all, it wouldn't have all those pesky iPhone apps and games which the kids love to play, which would hopefully keep it out of the toilet. It was - I told myself - the perfect phone.

The best part of all? My new phone company (Credo Mobile) is "more than a network, it's a movement" that "...fight[s] the regressive policies of the right wing," with its profits. Yay!

When my new Blackberry arrived a mere two days later I excitedly unpacked it, plugged it in, set it up and started texting, tweeting and adding contacts like a maniac. I was very pleased with myself when I read in the accompanying paperwork that AT&T and Verizon had given a combined $440,000 to the American Tea Party in 2010. Well, I thought to myself, thank God I am with Credo now. 


It's not an iPhone.

And almost one month in, I kind of miss my iPhone. 

When I see one on TV or in a movie or - the worst - in the hands of someone I know, I feel kind of itchy. Uncomfortable. JEALOUS. The truth is I am tempted, sorely tempted, to dump Credo and my Style and go running back to AT&T and the iPhone.

Except for Jon Stewart. 

In the midst of trying to make this decision (to bail or not to bail) I heard this quote on the radio, "If you don't stick to your values when they're being tested, they're not values, they're hobbies." And it gave me pause. 

More than that, it gave me nausea. And I realized that I have to keep my Blackberry, even if I don't like it. Maybe even BECAUSE I don't like it.

It's not exactly working on the Underground Railroad or hiding Jews in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust - okay, it's NOTHING like that at all - it's not even dragging my ass down to the local Occupy protest, but it's something

It's something I can do to live my values even though it may be uncomfortable, inconvenient, and not what I WANT to do. 

Every time I use my Blackberry I know that a little bit of money is being sent to Amnesty International, Planned Parenthood or the Rainforest Action Network.

And the fact that I don't love it means less time spent like this:

And more time spent like this: 

And THAT is something I value a lot.