Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Solstice and The Frisky Moon

Yesterday, a day of darkness and light, quiet and wild, rain rain rain, jarring turns of events, mechanical malfunctions, meowing cabin fevered cat, more rain rain rain, communications from afar, internal upheaval, internal silence, and in came winter. A time for Bear Medicine and introspection. A time for hibernating and planting internal seeds. A time for infusing those seeds with energy and expansion. A time for growth.

This world of ours, that we have co-created, needs every one of us to become the blossoms that were twinkles in God’s eyes when he dreamt us up! We need to shake our feathers and extend ourselves to each other in new ways. We need to plant our feet deep into Mother Earth and reach reach for Father Sky and sing while we do. We need to stretch to the east, where illumination inspires and lean to the west where our goals are realized and touch each other all along the way. We need to shilly shally along, with thanksgiving for every breath, in our hearts, and smile at the young and nod to the old as we do.

If every single one of us, would leap off a cliff into the unknown every morning, by springtime, oh what a garden we shall be!


Monday, December 6, 2010

The Messiah

Last night my daughter, Melanie took me to Los Angeles’ Disney Hall’s annual Handel’s Messiah Sing-a-Long, as a pre Christmas gift.  I have so much to say!

I grew up in household where music played an integral part of every day. My mother’s piano playing was our rising bell. During non holiday times she would alternate between hymns and Chopin. During Christmas were we roused pre dawn by every Christmas carol you can imagine and usually my Dad’s voice could be heard singing along in the background, slightly off key, while he brushed his teeth and got dressed for work.  As the English muffins and marmalade began to take center stage the ‘victrola player’ was turned on and we would swallow our toasty morsels with either Benjamin Britton’s 'Ceremony of Carols' or Handel's 'The Messiah' as background, but in actual fact we were all humming and singing along.

During my prep school days, by some miracle,  I sang in the highly respected girls’ chorus. I say ‘miracle’ not because my voice was at fault but because I sang  the way that I played tennis: wildly, with no restraint and no plan. For graduation the chorus presented our long rehearsed ‘The Messiah’ with our brother school, Mount Herman. I never really did know if I was an alto or soprano but it wouldn’t have mattered if I was a bass! My best friend, Samm, who sang next to me had to plant herself firmly and periodically lean over and say “ This is not a free-for-all, Plum, you must sing your part!” I could not. I knew this music, not the words necessarily, but the music,
and I sang to my heart’s content whatever part was happening.

It has been years, decades! since I have officially sung “The Messiah”, and now my parents are gone, the victrola player is no more, my friend Samm is gone, and here I am, being invited by my daughter to this dream of a gift in the most acoustically  acclaimed music hall on earth, to sing ‘The Messiah’. Pure enthusiasm filled my soul at the thought. This music, this daughter, this moment, the depth that it touched, the memories that it evoked, the passages that it punctuated, my throat  constricted with emotion and my eyes blurred with tears  before we even arrived in our seats.

And then ‘Comfort Ye My People’. Comfort. Comfort. And the tears poured forth.

Melanie and I together sang our hearts out, were moved to tears, laughed until we couldn’t catch our breaths and sang some more. This evening ushered in Christmas for both of us. The greatest gift that I could ever imagine was this evening.

My advent is alive and my heart sings thanks to God, the story, Handel, the conductor, and Melanie. This year I could not find my expansive, joyous, Christmas self and connection to the true spirit that birthed it all, prior to this evening and now I have.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Stream of Thanks

My husband
My husband’s love
My husband’s laughter and wild brain
My husband’s touch
Obie’s love
Obie’s sweetness
Obie’s beauty
My girls
My girls
My girls
Mom and Dad
My friends
I love you all for being so true
God’s love
God’s beauty
Thank you
God’s gifts
Melanie’s joy
Every moment
Wild winds
Poofy clouds
Dancing flowers
My husband dancing
Nina’s smile
Eye to eye with comrades
Obie’s smile
Obie’s paws
Blading by the sea
My life
The earth
Thank you
My spirit
My body
Thank you
The gifts of the unknown
The gifts of being challenged
The gifts that human angels bring
Thank you
Thank you for this day of Thanks.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Punch Bowl

Where to begin? In this amazing land of melting pots where every single person births forth with his very own blueprint of mixed ethnicities and traditions….I would LOVE to go back to my parents’ heritages in detail,  to lay the foundation of this little story but not this time. Instead a brief telling:

My mother’s father was senator of Iowa and though she had, for one brief shining moment, lived as an aristocrat, with the onset of the depression and all of her father’s interests in Iowan farmland, by the time she went off to Smith College, she had a handful of plunky dresses, thick glasses and a giant, magnificent, expressive brain and imagination.

My dad’s father was vice president of Exxon,  had never  been schooled past the 7th grade,  but had worked his way up to head of exports based on his fairness. He was ‘let go’ by the company in the 40’s because he refused to sell oil to Germany prior to World War II. My father had grown up with lawn tennis courts and excursions into New York City to the opera in chauffeurred limousines, but embodied his parents’ simple values and joix de vive.

My parents met on a blind date, Mom believing that Dad was surely going to be an eskimo, because of his name, and the date was not stellar. Having been raised with manners the two corresponded, both ended up going to Yale and kept their connection alive.

Fast forwarding to the wedding.

Dad’s Yale law degree, subsequent work, and Mom’s Dad’s position had put him smack in the center of political attention. He was being groomed to run on a ticket with Hubert Humphrey and there was much excitement. The vice president under Roosevelt, Henry Wallace, was a friend and guest at the wedding. It was an elegant affair and a beautiful coming together of two dynamically bright thinkers and doers. An exquisite, cut crystal punch bowl had been a gift from the Wallaces, and was the center of the party.

With World War II on the horizon, my parents’ lives took a phenomenal shift when Dad decided to go into Japanese language training as an interpreter. By the war’s end, after personally creating hope out of despair for many in the South Pacific,  his inner world was so vastly different that he could no longer proceed with his previous life plans. Dad entered a seminary and together with Mom they devoted their lives to humanitarian service in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal.

When we were not in India, our family headquarters was suburbia New York, and Mom and Dad’s Christmas party was a peek for us offspring at the life they had once lived. The wedding punch bowl frothed forth a mixture of sherbet, ginger ale, and pineapple juice and lit up the dining room and drew people together in a mystical way. Every year this was so, and every year the elegance and magic of bygone times visited us.

When my parents moved to the northern woods of Lake Michigan, in the mid 80’s I inherited the punch bowl. It was meticulously wrapped and shipped to me in South Carolina and as my life was in upheaval, it lived in storage for years and years.

Three years ago, a few months after Mom had passed, Dad came to visit me in Southern California for his birthday. Little did any of us know that three days later he would be admitted to a hospital and set sail for his last earthly chapter of this go ‘round. However! On his birthday I rallied my closest friends, and we gathered around the pinkly frothing punch bowl  and after toasting Dad, he launched into tale after tale of his life. When everyone had gone he sat down by the table, looked at the punch bowl, picked up a photograph off of my bookshelf of his wedding and he sat listening to a recording of Chopin’s waltzes.

Dad left the planet three months later and my life took a wild spin where once again the punch bowl needed to retreat into storage. Two days ago, as the holidays are coming, I wanted to retrieve my recipe box from storage and I found the punch bowl, shattered. Tears wanted to leap to my throat but they didn’t.  Beginnings and endings and beginnings, this felt right.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Charlie and the Homeless Cat

A few days ago whilst caring for Charlie the cat, black sleek prince of Wadsworth,  in his exquisite treetop home half a block from the beach in Santa Monica, I heard a yeowling coming from the back porch. There he was, perched on the top step of his spiral staircase, his efforts of forward movement being thwarted by a straggly, bone skinny, orange, black and white homeless cat who was vocally claiming this porch as his.

I peered out through the sliding glass door and instantaneously felt a conflict rise inside of me but loyalty to my charge took precedence over my indecision. I opened the door and shooed the homeless cat away, allowing Charlie to enter his human occupied realm. He glanced up with a flicker of acknowledgement and then made a bee-line for his fresh fishy food. I went back to the door and looked out for the other cat. No sign of hide nor hair.

I cannot help but be haunted by this, and by my part in it! I have tried to justify my impulse to opt for Charlie but my allegiance to the sensitivities of those less fortunate in this world is real.

It is easy to stand on the side of the beautiful and healthy and wealthy.
It is easy to reach  out to the needy and down trodden and unkempt.
What is the deciding factor in which way to jump?

Obie and Me

Just now, after finishing my previous blog, Obie came and laid his goldeny head in my lap with a slight wafty wag of his plumey tail and a ‘Walk?’ look in his none-such smiling eyes. Oh Obie! How can I ever say ‘no’ to you?

So off we went.

We walked and walked up and around a meandering Mt. Washington road. It was totally deserted; only the sound of birds and bugs, and all of LA spread out in the distance. With the sunny feel of fall and light dancing in swaying trees, my brain flitted hither and yon. Walks through dappled Michigan woods with my sister,  climbing trees as a young girl and waiting to be discovered,  Byron Katie’s naming meditation, Olive and Ben on the other side of the mountain, and then a couple of strangers appeared out of nowhere and Obie trotted over to greet them. I snapped back to the present and corraled him to join me.  He came to me and then bounced on down the road and I muttered, “Oh Obie, I love you” and he turned around and smiled at me. We stood still and looked at each other. The golden light on his fur, his smiling eyes and loving look, I will never forget that moment.

Beyond precious, beyond sacred, two beings enjoying a beautiful day, walk, moment and each other.

Lakshmi and the Pasadena Apple Store

I have recently been challenged in the computer department! Four months ago I bought a brand new Apple and from the moment I touched it I knew that something was not right with it. I decided to let it ride and see if this feeling continued, meanwhile noting all of the little bloops and fidgets that were awry. By three weeks I knew that I had to come forth with my truth and so off to the Apple Store in Santa Monica I went. One genius after another could find nothing wrong; hence Lakshmi was sent to the Apple care headquarters to have a thorough examination. She was returned with the diagnosis that she was perfect and so  I accepted her back,  secretly hoping that she had been fixed by accident.

Time passed and the erratic behaviors continued,  genuinely hampering my writing,  I returned to  the store with a more commanding demeanor and was met by a bullish insistence that there was not only nothing wrong but that I was wrong. An escalation of opposite positions finally led to insults on their part and tears on mine. I left and never wanted to step foot in an Apple Store again.

Two days ago, Lakshmi  gave up the ghost not to be revived. I felt punched in the stomach  as I had not backed up my files and my brain flew through all the specifics of what I had surely lost. I knew that an Apple Store needed to be in my immediate future if there was any chance of remedying this. I chose a different store; this time in Pasadena.

As this was my first return to an Apple Store since my  humiliating venture in Santa Monica,  I noticed a vibratory resistance to being there. My husband took over the reins and made an appointment with a genius. After waiting for ninety minutes we were rewarded with an uncharacteristically relaxed man named James, whose listening skills and focus were authentic and reassuring. He  rescued almost all of what I had thought was gone forever while examining Lakshmi’s operations. As I watched him I felt his integrity so clearly that I shifted to a place of knowing that if the officials who ultimately decided our computer fate, voted against a replacement computer, a healing was taking place and I would be alright with the outcome.

The store manager was summoned when James had completed his report and when she appeared, there was a familiar waft of ‘this is not going to happen for you’ in her presence. My husband  shifted into non aggressive battle mode and as a true Gemini used his language skills to deliver an eloquent discourse on relationship in general and then relationship between business and customer. Ours had been destroyed with this company after our Santa Monica fiasco and we wanted it made  right here.

Lani listened earnestly and then asked for a twenty minute recess. We left the store, returning half an hour later. Lani emerged from the back room carrying a white case and a beautiful essence of goodwill.  I have a brand new Lakshmi, but what is vastly more important is that I have faith in human beings in business. Yes, relationship is what the world needs to be about, and the Apple Store in Pasadena, with special thanks to James and Lani, gets a gold star and heartfelt thanks for this restoration. Some angels wear blue shirts with apples on them.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


My mother used to talk about you, always beginning with, “My friend Betty, who I think you would have much more in common with than I….”

And then we met! It must be twenty years ago now and you were in your late 70’s! So many elders that I know have shared that they feel that they are the  cheese standing alone as their friends peel off the planet one by one and no one remains from the ‘old days’, but not you. Every year your birthday parties grow and the stories that you write and read so too!

St. Exupery once wrote “What we went through, no animal could go through” and I think of you. You who have buried your children, one after another, you who have suffered excruciating physical agonies, you who have risen above and identified yourself to yourself through your humanitarian efforts to educate women around the world and preserve the traditions of Native Americans through museums and artwork; you who have taken me by the hand and extended  yourself to me in moments of darkness, you are a light that seems to want to burn and burn and touch others along the way.

When you decide to go,  a flutter of golden leaves will lay a trail  around the earth of Betty inspired expanded awareness. You will lift off onto the Blue Spirit Road and no doubt be greeted by a multitude of tiny white four-leggeds that love to snuggle in one’s lap, and you will tell them stories, as you have told us.

And now? I just wonder what you’ve been up to today.

The Nature Part of Wisdom

This afternoon I smelled a yellow rose that was beyond heaven.

I spied a lotus blossom all alone, stretching up and breathing beauty at me.

And then I saw a giant, gnarled, tangled, graceful tree with wisps of leaves dancing in the wind, that I want to be when I grow up.

And suddenly I thought of something that I read once: that the path to wisdom is three-fold; through intuition, nature and culture.

This recollection fires my soul….and it makes me want to slip off my clothes, grab every child’s wrist that I can,  to join me and splash in a giant puddle together.

Breaking Free

A crystal clear day and a blustery wind frenetically whips and tosses branches and chickens hither and yon and into shape. It must be in the 60’s  but  I’m freezing. Once again my internal thermometer has acclimated to toasty climes.

We humans do acclimate, even if it doesn’t serve us! We burst forth into life and then settle into habits that lock and block forward movement and true living in the present, and we don’t even notice until the habit produces restlessness or emptiness or  crisis.  Those chickens out there are being buffeted about and complaining with every blast, but they are awake!

From Wordsworth:
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s star, Hath had elsewhere its setting;
And cometh from afar: Not in entire forgetfulness, and not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory….

Not in utter forgetfulness and not in utter nakedness . There’s hope.

Last week I experienced a lesson which resulted in my being buffeted about. My need created a breakdown in communication and I was left shivering in the wind, naked. My soul created this so that I would wake up and see. Thank you, need.

A wee cloud of glory today.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sunset Musings and Love

Last night I bladed along the sea just as the sun was setting. Here I am, living on the coast of la mer magnifique (Mom, are you closing your eyes tightly and shaking your head?)and yet its every  sunset reminds me of evenings perched on the rolling dunes of Lake Michigan.  As involuntary as my heartbeat, when I see God’s breath turn the sky from blue to hued, the words “Oh Mom!” escape me. Thank you for seeing and for insisting that we see too! I can hear ‘Oh LOOK Tel!” “Oh LOOK Francie” “STOP TEL! I must take this picture!”

Yes. And even your stroke couldn’t stop you from that.

Flash flash through my red walk, our Renault chugging up a Swiss mountain and Mom saying “STOP!” and leaping out with camera in hand; Indian women at dawn pounding their clothes on the rocks, “Oh the light! Stop dear!”; and always flowers: poppies, heather, baby’s breath, cardinal flowers; and her last hurrah of sunset after sunset in Michigan with Dad pushing the button.

Yes. When Mom was stroked and control of her right side obliterated, her three expressions were instantly and forever denied her, we thought.  Writing, piano playing and photography. She never regained the physical ability to write or play the piano but she zeroed in on her camera with might.  She grew to a place of being able to hold the camera in her hand but never up to her eye, and as she was not  an ‘automatic’ photographer, could not adjust the lens or push the final button.

Dad, who  never had an eye or inkling about photography beyond his adoration for what Mom produced, offered to help. The weepy protests, the frustrated insults, finally finally led to Mom being open to his offer. Trial and error, trial and error, more tears, more demeaning remarks, Dad cheerfully held his own and insisted, evening after evening in front of Lake Michigan sunsets.

They mastered it! They did. The most incredible, beautiful team to behold. The sight of the two of them would swing any artist into his heart. Mom would point and position herself. Dad would place the camera in front of her eye. She directed him and when all was aligned, he pushed the button and CLICK. Mom made three calendars in those years that sold in shops all over Michigan.

All of this because of a sunset!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Umbrella Dream

Most people that I know either don’t remember their dreams or they dream the most elaborate, labyryinthy dreams imagineable. I’m always a bit envious of these dreams as mine are simple and straight forward.  Almost every night I fly. Sometimes I fly on my own as myself, sometimes I have wings,  sometimes I have a whole animal body with wings, and sometimes I am riding on the back of an incredible flying creature. I fly over lands and I see things. I learn about life and the world and I have a marvelous time,  but that is the extent of my dreams.

This being said, every once in awhile  my world gets a shake and a non flying dream creeps in. One such dream happened a few nights ago and I have been haunted ever since by its message.

I was standing on an endless pristine  beach with many many other beings. As far as I could see, black umbrellas were folded down hard on their people. All of a sudden a light shone all around, the umbrellas transformed from black to luminous rainbow colors and they floated up into the sky carrying their people with them. These words that rang out:

“You have to die first before you can be reborn”.

Is this true?

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Ice blue eyes that sparkle with intelligence and life! A swirl of bohemian energy layered over an aristocracy that you were born into; wispy hairs and sloppy jeans slipping and sliding on a lean six foot tall frame. And a voice that betrayed it all, sophisticated and brilliant.

The first time that I saw you was when I was twelve. Margie and I had been told before we went to bed that some new missionaries might be arriving in the middle of the night to share our house, but as it was monsoons and pouring we had no idea if this was true.  We were told to SLEEP, even though they would be arriving with three little boys and a brand new baby girl. WHAT????????????? Sleep? With a baby coming? We winked at each other as Mom blew out the lamp.

And so it happened. You arrived in a downpour and your red circle skirt, white lacey blouse and dark brown shoulder length hair were plastered to you, as you scooped up your children and rushed them into the house to undress everyone by the stove. I peeked through the door to see the baby, but it was you that I watched. You chatted and caressed each one through their whining  and as they draped themselves on and around you, you wore them like a blanket. Little naked bodies, shivering and holding onto you for dear life.

Oh Rita! Little did I know how crucial you would be to my life and my soul!

Six and a half years later, Samm and I hitch-hiked up to New Hampshire from Northfield. We needed to escape so this time we were the ‘two strangers from the mud’.  You greeted us with ebulliance and warmth and before the weekend was over I asked you if you knew of a summer job that might be available in the area. You shrieked with delight “Oh Francie! You must stay here with us! You can help me with the children and the horses and we’ll be friends!” And so it was set.

And so two months later, graduation and the beginning of my summer of discontent  as I was struggling to live up to others’ expectations for the approaching fall.

But Rita, instead it became the summer of my epiphany. I found me after having been lost for three years. On my very first evening, after you and I had stayed up into the wee hours discussing life and philosophy and womanhood,  you tucked your own precious copy of Eliot’s “Four Quartets” under my arm and sent me to bed. That was the beginning and the end. You heard and saw me, as I did you. How can two beings share their inner worlds more intimately than we? We fed, shone the light and healed each other through simple friendship and then sent each other on each’s own way.

What more is there of value on this planet I would like to know?

I recently glimpsed a photo of you that Christina posted on Facebook. You, in your white haired glory and dazzling eyes. Love does thrive forever, even when the tangible connection is no longer. It continues to feed and shine and heal. Bless you, bless you, bless you, angel mine!

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Pumpkin Story

I’m sitting in an old Spanish style Hollywood house, complete with hand painted tiles and arched doorways and windows and I’m looking out over a garden of palms and palmettos and figs and avocados and lemons…all trees!  This must be what the Garden of Eden looked like. This house is an odd one though. It is so beautiful and I can feel its stories wanting to be heard but it holds  a viscous energy; quite like pudding, and I have a difficult time doing anything productive here except bake and clean.

And so today I did both.  I added pumpkin cookies to my rather vast repertoire. Pumpkin, pumpkin, what kind of word is pumpkin? It sounds exactly as it looks. Friendly and round and fertile. And now my very own pumpkin story for you.

Almost forty years ago I found myself living at home with my parents after having been out in the world seeking my path. I had taken a leave of absence from college and found a cottage and  work in the White Mountains of New Hampshire,  and now after two years,  a totally different person, I had returned ‘home’. Is this ever easy? Do we forever revert to being a child when in our parents’ abode? And so, though I was commuting to and teaching in New York City every day, another form of escape was essential and so I followed the suggestion of a friend and knocked on the door of someone that I hardly knew from high school days.

After teaching all day,  as it was still light and fall-crisp , breath-taking I decided to walk barefoot (yes I was a Bohemian at heart and in dress during these years) down to the local bookstore to buy a music book so that I could sing and play my guitar for the children in my class. On the way home, shuffling though crispy leaves I looked up and saw the roadsign for this class-mate’s home, and so I turned towards it. I climbed the stairs, past the Japanese maple, to the elegant door and hesitated before knocking but then I did. Peter answered the door. I introduced myself to him in case he didn’t recognize me, and I said “Would you like to be my friend?”

There I stood with golden hair loose below my waist, in a stunning long black and red, medieval looking, wool dress and barefoot. He told me later that he thought an angel had dropped out of the skies just for him.

He said “Yes, I would like to be friends but I’m just on my way to work at a restaurant and I won’t be home until late”.

I said, “That’s alright! Come on over when you’re done! I’ll make pumpkin bread!”

I had never made pumpkin bread before but I had just been given a recipe by a friend whose sister  was making and selling this luscious confection in Vermont. This was the day for me to try it!

And so at midnight Peter arrived. He burned his tongue on my pumpkin bread, we played gin rummy, and six months later we were married. Peter is the father of my two amazing daughters and though we did not stay married past the fourteen year mark, he is the most wonderful father two girls could have, I shall love him forever, and I shall always have a special fondness for all things pumpkin.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


For thirty years, I have begun my morning  meditation by lighting a candle and spreading decks of medicine and angel cards around me in a circle. When resting, these cards live in a purple silk Chinese bag along with hand-written letters from my mother; snail mails form my daughter, Nina; theater programs of my daughter, Melanie; an exquisite old Klimt address book presented to me by both girls with personal inscriptions in their young handwriting; and bits of notes and memorabilia that I felt were sacred and needed to travel with me rather than be in storage for this gypsy chapter.

One week ago while house and cat sitting, my daughter, Nina, came to visit from New York and needed to work while she was here. This meant that she inhabited the study where my treasures lay and my morning ritual was on hold for four days. During these four days one of the cats (or both) chose to use my treasure bag as a peeing place. Every corner of the bag was drenched and stenched and unsalvageable.

This event took my mind and soul down tunnels, into fire, out into the land of peace and quiet and back into sorrow. The lessons were many and deep.

The good news is that feelings are real, cats can’t tell you ‘why’ and so one is left to either conjure up conjectures or let them all go, the sun still rises, and now there is room for another bag and new treasures if I so choose.

And yes, feelings are real.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sounds in the Night

It’s the middle of the night, cats are yeowling after a screaming fight and sounds of clinking glass bottles and scrunching papers while a homeless person searches the street-lined garbage containers. The perfect time to look and keep one’s dignity and yet a  primitive eeeriness to the overview. Soft night breezes floating over me, the sound of  gentle splashing of waves, the cat growls and these muffled sounds of searching. Human desperation.

And the distance between ‘we’ and ‘they’ is how far?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Bohemian Exchange

A few days ago whilst peddling my cookies on Abbot Kinney, I stopped into The  Bohemian Exchange to visit the owner, Deborah, and drop off her usual chocolate and coconut cookies. Deborah and her shop reflect that eternal time in our history when medieval fantasy and flower children thrived. Between Deborah’s genuine embodiment of the vibe and her mish mash of color, texture, incense and eclectic around the world paraphenalia, her shop continues to thrive during these challenging times.

On this particular day, Deborah was out of single dollar bills and needed to round some up; hence I babysat the shop for her! The shop had been totally empty all morning and of course moments after I donned the overseer’s cap customers began to appear. The first was a bright brunette woman  on a quest for feathers.  Feathers! She had never been here before but her intuition was obviously pulsating well as she landed in the motherload! There were feathers on masks and feathers on sweaters and feathers on hats and feathers as just feathers to wear clipped into one’s locks. These are the ones that drew her. Of course I had no idea how much they cost and as there are few price tags in this store we were both hookwinked until Deborah returned, and so she played.

After decorating herself with a few and narrowing her choice down to three, she turned to me and clipped one into my hair saying, ‘With your hair surely you should wear one too!”. I told her quite definitively that I am not a feather person. To which she responded “Oh? And what kind of person are you?”

And so I sit, still quite stumped. At that time my mind raced  towards the giant hibiscus that sits on the back porch. No. And then to meadows full of flowers and then rose gardens and then essential oil bottles and lotions and bubbles and then  to trees and clouds and stop!

Was this a question of adornment or collection or spiritual symbols?

And then I knew. All and none.

This entire chapter for me has been about letting go. The leaps and leans of the past towards specific objects such as elephant figurines or delicately jeweled necklaces or dancing violets or tuberose/gardenia perfume or Venetian glass or mystical card decks or burning candle flames, all have been ‘mine’ but are no longer!

I’m writing this in the middle of the night. It is raining in Santa Monica and its sound in the quiet of the night is music. I am in heaven in this moment. Being alive and well and peaceful and in this world where every moment is bursting with possibilities and gifts.

And I shall never look at a feather again without hearing the question “What kind of person are you?”. Thank you, wherever you are, beautiful feather girl.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

October Second

This morning I woke up with memories of the sound of drums and the smell of flowers as October Second is Gandhi’s birthday and so too my sister Margaret’s. A day that becomes more special with every passing year and this year she would have been 58.

As a part of my morning meditation, every day, I draw an angel card from a divine deck with exquisite images and in depth lessons. In my Margaret prayer this morning I asked for a special card and my hand was called most definitively to one card that was peeking out.

The angel is Israfel, sitting in a tree playing a mandoline to a man who is kneeling and looking to her for comfort. The lesson is Music. Music. Music.

Oh! My soul has been longing for something to break itself free over these last few weeks. I have become locked, blocked and enclosed while dealing with personal challenges, and my soul uncharacteristically has not been able to find the key to fly.

Thank you, Margaret, you knew. And so here I sit, eyes pouring tears and a heart that is throbbing with new life as I listen to the French boys sing from ‘The Chorus"! Oh my God, the voices of these boys! Yes, this is heaven and my heart has cracked open to let in the light.

How can one ever doubt that angels and God and loved ones on the other side are ever not watching and knowing exactly what is right and when?

And now, in this land of eternal sunshine we are about to have thunderstorms! The clouds are gathering, the boys are singing and I’m going to go outside and get drenched.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jam and Tattoos

A few days ago Melanie invited me to tea. I haven’t seen her in quite awhile for more than a blink because she’s been performing in back to back plays; huge amazing plays all over Los Angeles with fantastic fellow actors She is living her creative dream. This next weekend she opens in George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Misalliance’ and as this of course is E-n-g-l-i-s-h, she is conjuring up opening night gifts for her cast-mates…..English gifts….home made peach-rosemary jam, fig lavandar jam, and ginger scones! Can you believe it? And no short cuts. I know that I’ve mentioned Nanny in blogs past. Melanie’s middle name, Lucy, was Nanny’s real name. Nanny is sipping brandy and muttering from up above with delight (as she was QUEEN of jam) at the sight of Melanie and her boiling jam jars and apron and sweet sticky brew. I, from down here, watch in wonder.

I sat on her kitchen stool and watched her blond curls escaping from their barrette while she stirred and poured the jammy mixtures. As we were not having a serious tete-a-tete with all of this going on I shared my musings on my earlier errand.

I had been standing in line at the post office behind a beautifully muscled, soft skinned, young woman who had tattoos galore all over her back and arms. As we stood I looked and let my mind sail. It took me to “Wow, those roses and thorns are interesting and the colors very strong, I wonder if these tattoos are fresh” to “Her skin is so plump and perfect. Was mine ever like that? Of course it was.” to “Yikes! I wonder what will happen to these roses and thorns as time shapeshifts the colors and flesh! Will they wither and widen and droop and bleed? What will happen?” to “I remember, oh, twenty years ago in Charleston when I used to do massage and tattoos were new, there was a woman who came in with a fabulously detailed red vintage car across her plump rump and I thought ‘woooooooo, that’s a surprise!’ and I wonder now, after twenty years, how is that red car  looking?” to “What happens to the tattoos as the skin looses its oomph?”

 Musings and life. I’m sure the images are  just as amazing but different. Maybe even better!

Ahhhhhhh, yes, just like everything.

And so, Melanie and I shared her jam and my musings. A perfectly simple girlie afternoon which now becomes a treasured memory.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Boulder Wildfires

Today is the fourth day of the Four-Mile Canyon fire in Boulder.

Norman and I met in Boulder in 2002, lived there and were married there. We lived only a hop and skip from where this blaze is wildly out of control. With multitudes of families, all over the world,  dealing with and in recovery from natural disasters right now, this one is not huge but hits very close to home for me.

The word that keeps coming up in reports is ‘rage’.
Is that what fires do?
Maybe they think they’re dancing.
Maybe they think they’re cleaning house or waking everyone up.
Whatever it is they do, when they’re finished there’s no doubt that they existed.

Animal habitats.
Personal treasures.
Crying to God.

Just a few words to bid farewell to one chapter and usher in another, and another will come.
In the meantime prayers for a speedy transition and the return of joy.

Friday, September 3, 2010


What is the matter with us?

When the earthquake in Haiti happened everyone leapt into action to help. We heard about doctors and churches and celebrities rearranging their lives in a flash to do whatever they could physically or financially or simply to draw attention.

Pakistan has been in horrendous crisis for weeks now and we hear nothing. Millions of families have lost their homes to natural devastation. Children are dying by the hundreds every day from starvation and disease. Each of these children has a mother that loves him or her just as much as we love our babies. How can we turn a blind eye and deaf ear? How can we ignore this as humans? Is this because these people are muslims?

What is the matter with us?

Oh yes, one person. Angelina Jolie. Thank you!

Coconut Water

The cold drink display in Whole Foods is in the very front of the store and impossible to ignore if one has one’s eyes open. There must be half a dozen different bottles  and cans, all beautifully, shinily designed, of coconut water. Every time I see these  my memory zooms me around the world.

My first stop is  an ancient city in South India in 1990, when my Mom and Dad and I were re-visiting old haunts for sentimental reasons. We had endured a wild taxi ride to Mahabalipurim, complete with the cab breaking down in 100 degree heat and 100% humidity. We had finally made it and though the giant Buddhas called, we were so thirsty that we could barely walk. And there, like a mirage, was a young girl walking towards us with fresh coconuts. We squatted on the edge of the road and poured the juice from those coconuts down our throats and all over our faces. It never felt so marvelous to be sticky. We three grinned and laughed at each other and then Dad stood up and said ‘Right! Let’s go visit the Buddhas!”

The second place that I fly to is a village on the outskirts of Madurai at dusk in 1964. We had been invited to visit because my father’s work, through a local college,  involved a program of teaching the villagers to resist the temptation to sell their rice fields for bags of gold, as wealthy developers were trying to buy up the farmlands and destroy their livelihoods. A theater group from the college was getting ready to perform a skit to demonstrate this swindling and provide options to the villagers, while we  sat in a circle waiting. Water buffalo and men strolled in from the fields, the moon was full. It was hot and still and in the shadows  the village women came bringing fresh coconuts for us all to drink. We drank and passed, drank and passed round the circle in silence, waiting and being together.

The third place that I beam to is Sri Lanka, which was called Ceylon then, in 1957. We had only recently arrived.  My sister and I had done our writing for the day, and were  now supposed to nap. We went out on the verandah and saw a young boy climbing up a giant coconut palm. Shinnying up like a monkey, with a knife in his teeth. We watched him go from down below us  to way above. With wide eyes and itching legs we were dying to do what he was doing. Then he took his knife and swat swat swat, down fell a heap of coconuts. He climbed down quickly, and in his beautiful dark brown skin, the whites of his eyes and sparkling teeth smiled up at us as he held up the coconuts and nodded. We looked at each other and scampered downstairs like little mice and the boy handed us our first fresh coconuts, the top hacked, and we all drank.

No bottle, no can, no matter what they say or how colorful they are, compare in any way to any one of those coconuts. But I do succomb anyway.

I sit and sip through a straw, in Venice, California, 2010, refreshed and happy.


Oh Mom! Mom! Mom! Three years ago today was your last full day on this our earth!  You told me that when your father knew that his time was coming  he had said to you “Oh Jane, I don’t want to leave this beautiful world”. You inherited his passion for life here, for beauty, for nature, for literature, for humanity and for humor.  You embodied this at the heart and soul of our family.

As a tiny seed I was brilliant to choose you as my mother. You were a giant force, hard-headed and demanding and not easy to be at peace with. Your frustrations as a huge-brained woman in the time in history that you were born, were mighty and until you were stroked and lost access to your phenomenal vocabulary and right side control, you did not slow down. Then you did. Amongst tears and angst,  and you and I embarked on our eight year chapter of beginning and ending every day with an hour long phone conversation. How can one ever doubt God’s wisdom? Our wisdom? You and I grew into best friends. Transparency, truth, intimacy and we healed all misconceptions and opened to pure love. I love you beyond time and space and earth and now. I miss your voice and laughter and your cool hands and your intense concerns and your girlie expressions and  the voids where I can hear you think and silently react. I feel you with me, especially when I blade by the sea and look up and out at the sunset and though I feel you I miss you. I wonder when we shall see each other again and I ask you now, please give me a sign that it is you, when I greet my grandchildren of the future, or babies born to friends. I love you , Mom, with my whole might!

And now, here, one of your favorites:

in Just-
spring     when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles       far       and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful 

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far       and       wee 

and bettyandisbel come dancing 

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and



balloonMan       whistles 




And so you begin your 4th year up and around wherever you are. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

California Dreaming

I turned on the car radio this afternoon  and there were the Mamas and the Papas!  I instantaneously beamed  back to 1965 and Cousin Brucey, and my green and yellow bedroom, and to tearing  orange juice can rollers out of my hair with relief, and crowding into the bathroom mirror to see how my sister, Margie, applied her eyeliner, (one sliver-thin black line piggy backed by an identical white one) and I felt the rush of insecurities and wonder at this new world that we had landed in the year before  when we moved to suburbia New York from India. I think the most useful transitional tool for this move was my little gray transistor radio. Margie’s was brown. We slept in the same room but when the morning “Time to get up girls” sounded from downstairs, we each turned our radios on and zoomed about the upstairs. Those songs, that music, was this new world. If we could know these and feel them we would belong.

I wonder if I ever really listened to the words of “California Dreaming”. I couldn’t fathom California then. Now, forty-five years later, it is my home and though I spent my first five years here “Manhattan Dreaming” , I am fully here now.  The title makes me laugh out loud. The nostalgic innocence that those words illicit and the truth of this moment.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

August 21

An empty bed with a single red rose on the pillow where your adorable world weary golden head had lain only a few hours before.

Margaret,  your name means ‘pearl’. “”Meditate on ‘I am a pearl’” I said and you said “Boy, you’re good”. I held your body while you braced for a thousand jabs when your veins had collapsed from too much chemo.  I held your head when tears ran down your face because John wasn’t comfortable with hospitals. Your triathalon muscles continued to fight the fight when your inner organs began to shut down. After an entire lifetime of shared intimacies and friends and homes and triumphs and frustrations and competitions and  learning to dance and be free, and you, my younger sister by twenty months, how can I not feel that you are central to my life?

We waited for hours on the deck of the Alaskan cruise ship, you huddled in a blanket in your wheelchair and I pacing and blowing on my hands to keep warm. We waited for your whales to leap  and show themselves. You looked beyond to the hills and said “I should be out there climbing those ridges, not stuck here. Who am I?”

And then the moment came. After two years of “I will not say ‘good-bye’ to my boys! I won’t! They’re too young! I want to know them. I want to see them grow. I want to know them as men. I want them to know me. I will not say good-bye!” You turned to me on the last day of our cruise. Your dream: to see Alaska and the whales before you went. You patted the floor next to where you were sitting and I sat down next to you. “I’m not going to eat any more.” You said. Those huge dark, round eyes looking into mine. ‘Good-bye, Francie”.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Obie's Paw

Obie, Obie, Obie, of the giant, furry, bear like feet. I adore those precious feet of yours and just the mention of them has me visualizing them flying down the bike path in a golden blur.  What a glorious creature you are! And more dear to my heart than words can express.

So WHAT IS IT WITH YOUR PAWS???????? Three broken toes in a year!!!!!!

The first two were understandable as they came about by innocent, passionate means. The first? You were running at a break neck speed to retrieve your green tennis ball and slid into home plate, a true success but alas, a toe caught and tore in the process. The second time, almost a ditto. You were running amuck in a wild puppy moment and another  toe caught on a root. But this third toe, this there is no justification for and I’m having to deal with my own upset over the actual incident and put it behind me while you limp around in your purple bandage.

You had been left to hold the fort with Olive (an Australian shepherd) and Ben (a fourteen year old hound mix) when a UPS man came to deliver a 35-pound tool in a box. This man was apparently caught off guard by three woofing dogs. Now I take a step back.

HOW ON EARTH does a mailman or UPS man not come prepared for such a situation externally and internally? How is it that he panics at the sight of three non violent, loud mouth four-leggeds and does one bodily harm? Obie got caught. The UPS man heaved his 35-pound box at the dogs and it landed on Obie’s foot. A totally crushed baby toe. My angel. Softest heart in the world. Innocent and confused and with a searingly painful toe from out of the blue. The vet has him bandaged royally and there will be no running for at least one month. The toe will never unsquash.

Oh Obie, you will figure out how to deal with it., your joie de vive, your love of letting loose in the windy salt air, your  undauntible spirit and your smile!

How blessed we are that you chose us.
You beautiful teacher, you.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mount of Olive

One spring weekend, lifetimes ago,  my best friend, Samm  and I escaped our New England prep school and  hitchhiked up to her parents’ vacation home in Jeffersonville, Vermont. Nothing that she and I did together was ordinary and this adventure could so easily have ended in tragedy. We were picked up by a man who claimed to be an auctioneer and immediately charmed us with wild stories in syncopated language, when we suddenly realized that we were being driven the opposite way from where we were headed. When we questioned him he totally ignored us and we  chose to  jump out of the speeding car. We were ‘rescued’ by a caring, fatherly man and driven to within a mile of our destination, being lectured passionately the whole way about the evils of hitch-hiking. We heard him. The moment he was out of sight we stood looking at a pasture full of cows, in grateful wonder,  and at the same split second we each noticed that one of the cows had a hoof poking out from her rear. Amidst chaotic scrambling and language we found the farmer whose cow it was and we three delivered the baby calf in the barn...together.

That evening, lounging by candlelight to the music of Judy Collins and a dinner of spam and peanut brittle,  Samm climbed up on a chair and unhooked a prism from an elegant chandelier that was hanging over the dining room table. She held it up to my face, slowly twilrling it around and she  said  “You know what this is, Plum?” “Yes” I said, “It’s a prism”, and she laughed with a guffaw that only she could rally at such a time,. and she said ‘NO  IT ISN’T!”

Silence as I re-grouped from her spell breaking outburst and she continued to stare at and twiddle the glass object in the candlelight.

“It’s a many things”.

“A many things?”

“Yes. Hold it up to your eyes and look all around you and you will see that everything changes with the slightest turn. Each of its sides is different so the light reflects the images differently and nothing looks the same, ever.”

Oh Samm, you brilliant shining star, I  miss you. You were too much for this world!

Right now we live on a mountain top with Olive and Ben, two canines, though Olive truly rules the roost.  Every evening I drive and sit  for an eternity in traffic and then, with one simple turn off of Figueora, I’m at the base of the mountain. My windows roll down and I take a deep breath.  I can’t help but think that I’m ascending into heaven as I wind and climb and wind and climb up it’s steep and narrow road, into the light and quiet of this land above the din. A whole world up here that many locals don’t even know exists. Coyotes roam, skunks run amuck, winds howl, fennel grows wild. And so it is, my ascension of the Mount of Olive, and as I look out I can hear Samm’s laugh and I see many things.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ode to Melanie

In a flash! The daughter that I know now as a grown woman in luscious full bloom shuffles back and forth in my mind’s eye to the infant, the child, the emerging teen, the young woman to now. Back and forth, back and forth, is this what birthdays do to us mothers?

The pregnancy, the birth, the dawn of the getting to know, the expressions, the passions and fears, the strengths and talents, the achilles heels, the favorite foods and ways of eating, the first step and posture and gait, the tiny triumphs, the phenomenal triumphs, the losses and positioning around disappointments.

The duck feedings, Mardi Gras beads, beach romps, petosky hunting, shrimp fishing, piano recitals, flower sniffing, Nutcracker seasons, moo shoo, horse back riding, theater classes, cotillion, auditions, Oxford, NCSA, USC, plays, plays, plays, yoga, laughter, tears, truths, beauty.

Strawberries and chicken in biskits, one candle, giant doughnut, two candles, angel food cake, three candles, anticipation, tears, relief, five, six, seven, eight, nine candles, pinata, ten candles, blurrrrrrrrrrrr.

Love beyond love.

Thank you Melanie for choosing me.

Happy Birthday my darling.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The House of Fame and Honors

And so I see that astrologically my ruling planet is moving (and that means me) into the house of fame and honors for the next two and a half years! Deep breath, is this a ‘like it or not?’

No, no, no. The stars are lined up to support such a thing but we get to choose. Always.

I remember once upon a time when I was living in New York City, chatting with a friend on the way to an art opening at the Guggenheim, and saying “Someday my tapestries and I shall be famous! You will see!” And he said “Why would you want that? Isn’t it enough to have a passion and a skill and simply be able to DO them? You don’t know how blessed you are! The rest means nothing.”

Adam’s words connected me back to that simple truth that I knew but had strayed from. How is it that we meander from such fundamental knowings and then hitch our wagons to stars so far afield that we miss the heaven that we are in.

And so, dear planets, bring it on! And swoop me in if you will! I intend to steer my magical carpet according to my heart’s conscious desire, and of course I welcome all support!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I am joy! Whirling and twirling and racing by the sea whilst meditating and manifesting, look out world! I shall surely burst, any second, into a million dandelion fluffs. And if you happen to catch one, make a wish, because it will come true.

This has happened before, many times. I have been accused by family members of being too happy on a multitude of occasions and begged to simmer down. I can behave and postpone but once the cork has popped, God has spoken.

Once upon a time I read a book called “Letters to Theo” which was a collection of letters that Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo. He spoke of many things, amongst which the ebb and flow of relationships and life. I have just ridden a month-long road of wings folded around myself. Emotional and creative hibernation, withdrawal from friends and from the lapping of life, and for no reason at all, as suddenly as the opposite hovered and stole me away (the way the monkey princess in Babar was kidnapped by the black cloud) I kundilinied into this moment. This liveness. This joy. This fresh beginning.
“Oh world! I cannot hold thee close enough!”
This is true.
And so the dance is on.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

June 4th!

June 4th! The day my family, plus Nanny, set sail on the SS Mauretania across the Atlantic Ocean en route to India! It was 1957 and that morning my Grandpa drove us to the New York docks in his light blue Studebaker with its fancy electric windows. My sister, Margie, and I were wearing our crisp new white organza dresses with yellow and orange blossoms that Grandpa had bought us for this day. It was hot and humid and the underslips stuck to the part of our legs that were already stuck to the car seat. There was a nervous buzz in everyone’s conversatioon and gestures as we were heading off for an exotic, primitive land on the other side of the world. Nanny was going with us as far as England as she was sure that she would never see us again.

We climbed the gangplank and waved good-bye to Grandpa, who stood waving in his white buttoned up shirt and formal vest with the watch chain sparkling in the sunlught, and then we hustled out of sight to a tiny cabin below which was brim full of flower bouquets and notecards.. Nanny was like a twittering bird, Mom was organizing everyone and Dad was cheerfully trying to keep everyone on an even keel.

The horn tooted and we all scrambled up on deck as the giant ropes were loosened. Margie and I positioned ourselves at back of the ship, watching the wake and the gulls, as we sailed past the Statue of Liberty and out into the open sea. The shore disappeared and the gulls dropped out of sight. There we were! Out in the middle of the ocean! A strange slightly unsettled feeling came over me as I looked down into the darkness of the water and imagined only sea creatures and a world that was totally mysterious.

That was the beginning.

How incredible life is! So many days that are beginnings and deeply significant in our own individual worlds. And here I stand re-visiting this moment of innocence from a vastly altered perspective. Thank you God for my most amazing life and this particular June 4th.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Eight Years!

“Ain’t life grand?” My Nanny used to say at eighty, while she crossed her legs, hiked up her skirt to show her knees, and sipped a glass of brandy.

Yes indeed.

I had met my Norman at a party one month earlier and after exchanging some rather mind boggling information that revealed how our paths had crossed twenty-five years before, I had decided that we absolutely were not going to go down any road together. I was not going to be railroaded by anyone, and that includes the universe!

Then my Nina and her love, Mario, came to visit me and be with me for the sprinkling of my beloved golden retriever, Julius’ ashes in his favorite mountain meadow. I had not been ready for this before, but suddenly I was, and so they came. We had a glorious visit, complete with a wild Rocky Mountain May snowstorm, and then a picnic and a final farewell to Julius.

I had scheduled a friend to accompany us on the midnight trek back to the Denver airport but at the very last minute he ducked out. What to do? I didn’t feel comfortable driving these roads alone at night and so I spontaneously called up Norman. Without a moment’s hesitation the new plan to escort Nina and Mario to their red eye flight was hatched and in play.

We four drove in the moonlight through the Colorado backroads from Boulder to Denver. Nina and Mario in the backseat, Norman and I in the front. Nina had forever nixed any male who crossed our family thresh-hold who was a possible romantic interest for me. I didn’t consider Norman to be in this category and so on this night I slipped into a peaceful lull as the easy conversation between Norman and the two back seat riders droned on and on. Then, suddenly we were at the airport.

In a flurry, Nina and Mario leapt out of the car, scooped up their bags and we all hugged our ‘good-byes’. As Nina and I held each other she whispered into my ear “Earth to Mom, this guy’s great” and then disappeared into the departure crowd.

As Norman and I drove back to Boulder I watched him in the moonlight as Nina’s words echoed in my brain and the veils lifted from my eyes. As he drove we talked about Nina and Mario and life and a soft sensation of companionship enveloped me and I felt quietly as if I’d handed over the reigns of my responsibilities, just for a few moments. It felt good. When we pulled up into my driveway we sat, and then I took his hand in mine and slid over and kissed him.

And they lived happily ever after.

The moral of this story is: Wake up! And listen to your daughters when the moon is full.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Today, Today, Today

This morning after being violently slayed by a twenty-four hour bug I woke up with a jolt at exactly 8:30. I had been visited all night by dearly beloveds that have passed; so clearly visited that I don’t feel that I was dreaming. My sister, Margaret said to me, after I apologized for forgetting a treasure shell that I found for her and then left at the beach by mistake, that she would not be seeing me for a long long time but we would be together again. And then I woke and saw the clock.

Today today today would have been my mother’s 91st birthday and it’s also the day, two years ago that my father left the planet. 8:30 is the moment that I arrived at the hospital to find him gone but still warm. Dad had passed fifteen minutes before while we were en route and I took his hand in mine and held it until it was cold. Hands. The hands of our parents and our children. We know every single curve and freckle, don’t we? I have heard forever that there is a peace in death, that the body looks restful at last. This is not what I saw. I absolutely believe that Dad did ultimately choose to give himself to Mom as a birthday present but the decision was a tough one, he fought passionately for his life, and what I saw was not ‘peace’ but simply an empty body.

And so forever this day is a combination of feelings for me. Mom’s birthday! Dad’s passing day. If only we could all slip away effortlessly into the great beyond then perhaps one could feel more quiet around passing days. I wonder how long my mind will take me on the journey and images of those brutal 105 days that were Dad’s last. I see his eyes looking at me, more vulnerable than I had ever experienced. Yes, this is a gift; but the agony and pleading expression eats at my heart. We all need to learn to accept the suffering of others as their journey, I know, but the soul is supremely tested when face to face with that integral component of the human condition. Having said this it hardly seems fair that God orchestrated it so that the elderly, after all that they have lived through to reach these ripe ages, then need to be physically and emotionally put through the ringer as their last hurrah. I guess that’s the rub. We’ll only know when it’s our turn, won’t we?

Happy Birthday Mom! I can hear Dad laughing right now and I know that you’ve somehow conjured up an angel food cake with squishy chocolate frosting and colored sprinkles. Make a wish! Both of you!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mother's Day Take Two

When my first daughter, Melanie, was born, her father and I lived in a tiny house out in the country, on a little lake, in Minnesota. This was a dwelling where, for eight months of the year, thick ice grew on the inside of the windows and I had to sit in one spot in front of a pot bellied stove to keep warm. Thank goodness Melanie was born in July!

That first month was of course a month of re-grouping around the new reality of being parents. I was quickly designated 'pc' (primary caretaker), hence Melanie was my job, twenty-four seven. Job? Yes. And joy and wonder and miracle and delight and companion. During that first week at home, when her minute tummy needed regular filling and and my own deep sleep was now a stranger, I would pull myself out of bed in the middle of the night to feed her. One night I carried her downstairs to nurse her. We sat in the semi darkness in my Nanny's rocking chair, with each of our two dogs (a wolf-like Siberian Husky named Sasha and a gloriously plumey Collie named Maggie) on either side of me. I put on a record of Sarah Vaughn's singing and brought Melanie to my breast. There we sat in the darkness, rocking and being together, ALL of us. I watched Melanie's little hands squeeze and unsqueeze and her face shift from intense sucking to soft relaxation. Her eyes closed and I moved her gently to my shoulder to pat out the little air bubbles and WHOOP! Up came the milk, ALL of it, with a PLOP, onto the rug, over my shoulder, right in front of Maggie's nose. Maggie took one look at it, looked over to Sasha, who was watching like a cat, and both dogs vamoosed to the upstairs. Melanie looked at me with a wobbly little head, I looked at her, Sarah Vaughn kept right on singing and the thought went through my head "OH MY GOD! This is real! For the next twenty years I will be the one who takes care of this baby! No matter what anyone else says, THIS IS MY JOB!". Little did I know that it's not twenty years, it's forever in a mother's heart. FOREVER.

Last week Melanie took me to see a Renoir exhibit at Lacma. My soul felt home and happy. There is a comfort that is unique unto motherhood (and not necessarily SO for the offspring) in being together. Even with the differences that pop and bloom and the challenges in human connection, the soul recognizes this other with pure joy. This gallery expedition will so far forever be my favorite because of the moments we shared. Being with her. Being with my daughter. When our children are grown, these shared moments are sparkles of dancing light on the pool of life. Thank you Melanie.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother's Day

Mother’s Day. A day of flowers and cards and phone calls and sweet “Thank you’s”, and looking into the eyes either in this world or our mind’s eyes of the woman who first hugged and kissed us.

This is my second Mother’s Day without my mother. I still can hardly believe that she isn’t here in the flesh but my truth is that I can hear her voice in my head after she picks up the phone, post stroke, and says “Hello Francie, how are you today?” and I can hear her laugh when I begin to recount my saga of the moment and then her answer of “Oh my!”.

Mothers. How more complicated can any relationship be than mothers and daughters?

When I was 10 years old I decided for Mother’s Day that I wanted to buy my mother something. We were living in India and we had visited an English shop together where I had spied a little box in the shape of a plaid beret with a bottle of perfume tucked into the middle. I fancied this and as we walked home I fell slightly behind her as I conjured up a plan to acquire it and watched her hips sway back and forth. I said “Mommy, you’re so pretty”. She turned around laughing and said ‘Oh don’t be silly! I have a nose that’s much too long and my hips are too big”. All I had ever noticed was that she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen and now I had to notice what she pointed out. Lifetimes later, as a mother myself, one day one of my daughters said “Mommy, you’re so pretty” to me. My mind flipped back the pages in a whirr and my answer was “I know. You’re so lucky to have such a pretty Mama’! Life had taught me to build every positive notion that I possibly could in my young daughter’s minds around their Mama because the day would come when all kinds of shoes would fall on how beautiful they perceived me to be!

Mom. Oh Mom. The life that you infused our family with! Not always joyous to say the least but who would any of us be without you having been at the bow of the ship? I’m speechlessly grateful that you and I healed our chasms. My mother, myself. Is this true? Yes. Now that you are not on this earth I see how deeply my soul reactions mirror yours. Yes, I can hear your voice, your laugh, your critiques, your sorrows. I can see your face and feel your hands. Happy Mother’s Day Mom, up there, in here, and thank you.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Rumi said if you wake up in the night, GET UP! This is the time to be with yourself and with God.

And so I obeyed last night and now as the dawn creeps in with the twittering of birds and pale light I am plum tuckered out but happy in my soul.

Tis May! My brain wants to to be giddy as according to Camelot this is the month for lusting and singing and dancing and rolling in the lilacs. I feel a quiet euphoric sweetness for the layers and layers of sensory memories that the word ‘May’ conjures.

What a wonder this exquisite planet is. For seasons and cycles to return on schedule with sublime familiarity and yet if one looks there are new twists to old themes around every corner. I saw a whole wall of huge purple blossoms yesterday that I have never seen before and each one had a giant bumble bee busy at work in its center. I thought that I had seen every flower there was to see and as my mother’s daughter I know most by name. Mom, oh Mom, where are you? I found a new flower that I want to show you!

What a wonder time is. What a miracle to be able to call this beautiful earth ‘home’ for all of these years and smile with knowing her and not knowing her. These bodies of ours cover a lot of ground in a lifetime. Ground on the earth. Our feet walk, one in front of the other, and carry us through time, through space, through hardships, through joys over land and on land. It’s so easy not to see where we are as we become lulled by the walk itself.

May is here. Eyes open!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Good Morning

I woke up this morning hearing the words “Be still and know that I am God”. I lay there for a few minutes and then said them to myself. Images ran through my mind a hundred miles an hour. There’s that mind again! The words are ‘Be still’ and yet the mind races. “Be still and know that I am God”.

Mind at work without my permission and here we go!

Ask my body who I am. It says ‘solid ground’.
Ask my soul. ‘Dizzy as the wind”.
Neither and both.

It seems this is the message of the day.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Che and Me

My mother was queen of expressiveness. She could modulate her voice so that one knew in an instant if she was pleased, tickled, intrigued, curious, perplexed, upset, furious, or in agony. You get the gist. And her facial expressions matched the vocal tone. She could screw up her face in disgust, beam as if to burst, or look as if she was carrying the weight of ten worlds. She was simply a magnificent feeling force where there was little left to the imagination.

One of the areas where I was critically imprinted by her, was her dislike for cats. I'm not sure if it was because she was a champion of birds or because cats are unpredictable and she needed her 'knowing'. The bottom line was that 'WE' didn't like cats and this came with a distasteful smirk and particular vocal tone.

So here I am decades later, having had many cats tip toe in and out of my life but I honestly have never gotten to know one intimately due to this hefty cat imprint wounding.

Right now I am house-sitting the most exquisitely perfect house. It isn’t lavish, it isn’t sparkling new, it isn’t huge and it isn’t one block from the ocean and it speaks to my soul. There is light and flow and curved doorways with warm colors and bursts of bright through every one. There are stories of travel and a spirit of adventure and spiritual questing behind and in front of each artifact and painting. There is a water fountain and fish pond and flowers and trees and tiled roofs, and there is a cat named Che.

Che is the heart's desire and dearly beloved of the owner of this home. I have been given immaculate instructions on his preferences and care. I welcomed this opportunity whole-heartedly as I take my responsibilities seriously. My intentions were in earnest to comply body and soul with Che's owner's requests. Little did I know that within the walls of this new nest Che's self confident, matter-of-fact, snuggly, humorous, brilliant little self , and my lifetime of wariness around cats would come face to face and my heart would open honestly towards one.

After retrieving my bags and books from the car and turning on the lights and looking around I heard the soft clunk of the cat door at the rear of the kitchen. In swept Che, all sleek and black, and he sashayed directly over to my right leg with a rub and a purr and a glance up and then 'Meow'. 'Oh! Che!' said I as I fumbled to scratch him under the chin and in the ears as I'd been coached. He seemed to adore whatever I did and so the little voice inside my head which said "Cats are not like dogs at all and I don't know what I'm doing", began to calm down and I got into a flow. Oh my gosh, as I did, he melted and his purring shifted into a whole new drone. I was enjoying myself with no reservations and yet I kept thinking 'It's just a fluke that he likes me and I'm pulling this off, any second he'll know that I'm new at this and change his mind'. But no. We could have stayed there all night.

Then I decided to run a tub for myself as baths are my favorite thing on earth and this tub was most inviting. It was dusty earthy rose colored and at least six feet long and it came with a pot pourri of bath bubbles. I couldn't wait. So as I ran the tub, Che hopped up onto its edge to watch. I paused for a second as I undressed, as bath-time is most private for me. A sacred, alone time to be with myself and my day. I was feeling a bit 'watched' by Che but I slid into the mass of fig bubbles and closed my eyes anyway. For a few moments I forgot all about Che. I took in the feel of the water and the smell of the figs and I let the water wash away the cares of the day while I luxuriated. I casually opened my eyes and there was Che! He was six inches from my face watching me. He had perched himself on his haunches on the edge of the tub and was totally settled into spending my bath-time with me. "Oh no, what's he doing? What if he falls in? How can I relax with him r-i-g-h-t there?" He twitched his tail at me and meowed, stood up and moved down closer to my feet. He heard me thinking and accomodated me. Hmmm. I LIKE this cat.

The next morning I fed him his water melon (yes, water melon) and sat down to my computer and in one silent move he leapt up onto the table and then to my shoulders. He rested his head on mine and we sat. He purred and I sat. I giggled to myself. I thought about my mother. I thought about my Obie. I thought about the gift of this little being.

I do not know how much Che knows. I do not know if he knows that he is secretly here to teach me or not. I do not know if I will ever be a cat person. But Che represents something special to me now and I believe he will forever. Our thoughts imprison us and mold us. My mother did not like cats, hence I have never welcomed them. This week I choose to change this thinking. I welcome Che and all of his foreign isms into my world. I, a woman in sync with golden retrievers, am taking a wild leap here. Che? Che? Come here Che! I want to snuggle with you now! Whoops......he will do things when he wants and I need to learn to not anticipate one single thing but be open at the same time. Interesting little teachers, these cats.

Oh Mom, are you watching? And what is your face doing? I love you.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


On my way to meet a friend for tea this afternoon, I spied a garden full of snap dragons. There they were, all pink and yellow and perky, standing so straight and tall and smiling at me. And my brain whisked me on a sixty second journey.

My grandmother was a passionate flower officianado and an austere disciplinarian on the niceties of social graces. One day when I was very tiny, she called me over to her:

“Frances, come here dear. There’s something I want to show you”.
She reached over to an elegant porcelain vase and slowly withdrew a single snapdragon stem.
“Come closer”.
“You see dear.....”
and POP! My most serious grandmother began to play! She squeezed each blossom on the stem, opening its mouth at me! And she said laughingly:
“They’re little dragons! Here, you try.”

About nine years later when I was twelve and living in India, an Australian doctor lived in the bungalow behind ours. We shared a glorious garden which was brim full of giant snapdragons. One day I decided to pick him some and take them as a bouquet. I took great care in choosing the brightest, juiciest, lovliest. Earlier that afternoon I had been watching my older brother master his bullwhip cracking technique on our front verandah and I happened to not be wearing my glasses. He had said “France, you look good without your glasses” and I was so tickled that I didn’t put them on for the rest of the afternoon. Hence when I went to deliver Dr. Horace’s flowers to him I was without them. I knocked on his door, he answered, I presented the flowers, and back he boomed: “Vanity is thy name oh woman, where are your glasses?” A small part of me still shudders.

About eighteen years later my own daughters were very young and I had grown some exquisite snapdragons in my own southern garden. I showed my four-year-old, Melanie, how to snap the little dragon mouths. To her delight she could oh so gently squeeze the blossoms making dragon kisses on the cheeks and nose of her baby sister, Nina, who cooed and batted her lashes langorously in response.

One little snapdragon garden.
My oh my what a wonder the mind and memory are.
And I was on time for tea.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Shaman Women and Me

The most glorious, golden, chilly wind and warm sun evening with flitting dark poofy clouds and gulls careening and dogs galloping and frisbees flying. My soul and every cell of my earthly self having just bladed and feeling as giddy as a teenager who has just been winked at by the object of her affection. I am in love with this earth. Thank you God for your artistry and imagination and humor and sense of drama and playfulness and sensitivity and wisdom and timing and ever present love and passion for your creations. I love you. And now I must turn my face towards an invitation that has been extended to me for the evening.

A group of female shamans that meets once a month on Wednesday nights has reached out to include me and this is the night.

The mind boggles at the number of doors there are on this planet and the who's and what's that lie behind each and every one. Entire universes. Unique expressions of what it is to be on the human adventure. Not a single one like any other.

And so I followed my mapquest instructions to the address that I had been given for my experiential introduction into Shamanism. The google directions led me to a dead end and there I was staring at the grand white fortress of Sony Productions. Perhaps a sign? Nevermind. I needed to sort this out and not be late!

After a bit of reconoitering I walk/skipped up the driveway of the place and passed two adobe-type chalets before landing on the doorstep of the third. Burning sage wafted through the door-cracks and female laughter from within. Yes.

This group of three women had been been meeting for months but I instantly felt one with them, as a woman and one on a spiritual path. They had been journeying with their spirit animals for weeks together and they spoke of rituals and entities that I was not familiar with. I was open to being serenaded by drumming and singing while I envisioned the dunes of Lake Michigan from my childhood, and spiralling down beneath them into the world of animals so that I could be claimed by mine. One has to be faced by one specific animal three times in a journey before it becomes yours. Porcupines, otters, butterflies, bears, turtles and a deer presented themselves twice each and then the spotted deer came forth for a third to claim me. She and I shall trip the world fandango together. I shall never forget those giant soft eyes and the black shiney nose gazing at and through me with gentleness.

Then we women were each taught to make medicine bundles with specific home grown herbs and tie them in red felt squares. My three sit here next to me and as I am transient so shall they be. One day each will have a place in my home.

After this a healing session began on one of the women. The power and mystery of the Medicine Woman's actions and words spun us into another time and place where primal natures ruled and inhibitions were not welcome. A cure occurred. The 'poison' was sucked and cut out. The recipient immediately sat up and chatted and nibbled pound cake with total refreshment and freedom almost as if nothing had happened.

My dreams that night were hardly recognizeable to me. They were disturbed and filled with animal spirits. This is a path that is divergent from mine and I shall embrace all that I can. No matter what the gift of being invited into this sacred circle by these women and sharing for one brief shining moment their world will always live with me.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Easter is over. After a day of wonder and mystery and joy and food and family, it is a rainy Monday morning and the news channels are hawking fear around impending earthquakes. Fear. We each have a choice to make around this. Every moment of every day our conscious selves know this but the habit of hearing without listening, reacting without reflecting, hyperventilating while our brains dart like terrified hummingbirds from thought to thought without allowing a moment of quiet, lead us to a platform of fear fear fear.

What to do?

Trust? Surrender? Love ourselves?

The answer is personal and individual. My own experience promotes all of the above and easier said than done. Whenever I feel that I have slid or popped or evolved through my fears and am genuinely feeling joy as my throne, invariably something slithers into my consciousness to turn my moment of enlightenment on its head. Out of nowhere, often disguised, life provides the opportunity again and again to develop the muscles of awareness around our thoughts and feelings and the subsequent skills to be the captain of our own ship. With this is place, when the thoughts rise up to bite and derail the joy, out comes the grounding, surrender, and trust to nip it and chase it away.

So what does this mean? Such a monster that societies are built on and wars are waged for and yet so simple. It's all in the mind. All of it: the fear, the love, the upset, the calm. Every feeling is first a thought and so here, at the birth of the thought, we can intervene and turn a gulp about 'the giant earthquake' or 'good luck with that screenplay, you know you'll never make it without a major connection' into 'the rain has lifted and it's a gorgeous spring day' and 'I can do anything!'.

Have a superlative day!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Palm Sunday

For as long as I can remember Holy Week has been about connecting to worlds greater than myself from the deepest parts of my heart. When I was a little girl my father was the minister of a church in Concord, New Hampshire and Palm Sunday was the day when we children were front and center for the morning service. The sermon was directed towards the whole family and was centered around the story of Jesus riding the donkey into Jerusalem and gloriously being hailed by the crowds and we New Englanders, in the mid-50’s, would all exit the church with our own palm leaves, waving with giddy excitement in our cores, for this triumph.

Today I woke up to an orange tree outside my window, bursting with fruit and the sun shining in on my pillow. A smile on my face and in my heart knowing what day this was, ushering in this sacred week of joy and betrayal and agony and miracles and resurrection and ultimate faith. This house that I am currently sitting has come to me fully loaded with three small dogs (yes, deja vu...another three-dog night house). These pups are a pack indeed and not one of my maneuvers escapes the watchdog of the moment. My opening eyes were simultaneously met with pounces onto my face and slurpy ‘We want breakfast” greetings. The Palm Sunday spell was broken.

Two hours later I was driving down the highway to peddle my cookies in Venice. I have been given the luxury of driving the home owner’s giant SUV, which is a blessing as our faithful thirteen year old station wagon has reached the limping phase of its life and this jaunt puts a hefty strain on its engine. I usually don’t push knobs that I’m not familiar with while driving but I had been told that the music system in this car was elite and ooh lala. I breathed in the sunshine and California hills as the earlier doggy reality slipped into the background and sacred awareness re-emerged. I wanted music. My instinct said “Push the buttons!” While keeping my eyes on the road I randomly pushed. I got music of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, jazz, spa, Sinatra, love, Broadway tunes, symphony and then the Metropolitan Opera. I hit the motherload as Handel's Messiah was midstream. I thanked my Mom and Dad (oh thank you for choosing me to be your daughter and grow up in our household that I may know this music so well!) as an early measure of “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” finished and I could sing the whole rest of the piece feeling God and love and light and miracles above, below and inside of me. I was having such a marvelous time that I completely missed my turn (in fact I passed several) and ended up having to come back to the planet and navigate the racetrack area of a not so nifty neighborhood while trying to figure out where on earth I was.

A few hours later as I finished up my cookie peddling on Abbot Kinney, my favorite street in Venice, a camera crew appeared out of nowhere interviewing passers by. I have never been one to be thrust into this kind of spotlight and I fully intended to walk on by, but a microphone loomed towards me with the human being behind it saying, " We're from the new Oprah Winfrey network, can we ask you a few questions?" My mouth said 'no' followed by my brain saying 'What are you thinking?????' So my mouth corrected itself and said 'alright'. There I was, microphone in the face and camera pointed at me and now the question ' Do you believe in miracles?' All I could think was 'Oh my GOD! My whole life, every second, every minute, every day is a miracle and how do I answer this?' So I stumbled around and said 'Do you have three hours?' Then MIRACULOUSLY something snapped inside of me and I stepped into my truth. I lost all self consciousness and began to connect to the passion of who and what I am about. The words raced out of me, and ran all over the place. I have no idea what I said but whatever it was, it was perfect. Towards the end of my interview the director said "Repeat after me. I want to have my own tv show on Oprah's new network" I did and I added "And I want Oprah to make all of my movies as they were born to be made and touch people". Thank you's and cookies sprinkled amongst the crew and I walked away. I was tempted to think 'Oh, I should have said this' or 'You fool! You blithered!' But no. This happened exactly as it was supposed to. No matter what happens I let'er rip on why I'm here on this planet and how I have so very much to do and say, but this little encounter exhausted me. I slipped into the next shop that appeared in desperate need of an oasis after extending myself so completely.

Here I was met by an unlikely gathering of angels. A shop where my cookies are rarely bought. A shop where a certain level of sophistication resides and so if I enter I don't linger and chat. A shop where there is usually one beautifully dressed woman behind the counter and today the whole staff was there. As I stumbled in and began to babble about what had just happened, they rallied and supported me and cheered me on and it was phenomenal. Human beings. We really are all one big family. In this year of having no home I have grown more sisters and brothers than I could ever have imagined. My truth is that the only thing that really matters is the human heart and how we share it and connect with others. These women cried when they heard my story and I promised them that if I do happen to hear from Oprah, they will be the first, after my husband and daughters, to know, as they were the ones who carried me after my grand effort. This Palm Sunday has resonated in my soul with donkeys and waving palms and giddy excitement and promise.

Thank you, God.
Thank you oranges and little dogs.
Thank you Handel and Haley.
Thank you Oprah people.
Thank you shop ladies.
Thank you Melanie.
Thank you Norman and Obie.

Good night everyone.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Four Legs, Slurpy Tongues and Living Breathing Hearts

As a girl, before India, my father was the minister of a church in Concord, New Hampshire. During that time we had a labrador retriever named Teddy. We called him 'Ted Puss' because he was a dribble puss. In the family's attempt to train him not to beg while we ate he was required to sit outside the dining room, so he sat in the doorway watching us and drooled. My parents laughingly referred to him as a 'Thurber dog' and though I didn't know exactly what this meant I knew it was a compliment. Teddy was simply doggy, he would woof at the cupboard where the dog biscuits lived, and wag his tail so that everything coffee table height flew, and he was very much in the center of our family. Every evening Mom and Dad rallied the four of us children to the living room for what we called family worship. We sat on the floor supposedly for a short bible story and prayer and attempted to be reverent. This was too much for Teddy. We were at his level, doing nothing. Slithering in like a little black seal (Teddy was the runt of the litter so he was a small lab) he wriggled his way around the circle licking everyone's face with wild enthusiasm and when he had each of us at his mercy he'd climb into one lap after another. Great hilarity all round and breathless laugher. This was family worship. When I turned seven, we found out that we would be moving to India for a long time. Mom and Dad found a close friend to take care of Teddy but none of us could bare to think of leaving him. A few months before we left Mom began packing our trunks as they were going to be shipped by sea. She had lain her clothes out on the bed and then left the room. When she came back the clothes were gone and of course she thought that in the chaos of planning she was losing her mind. Teddy had taken them out into the back yard and was fastidiously burying them. He thought that if he did this we would not go. When they were discovered and the trunks were sent, Teddy quietly died. This was my first experience with a soul knowing that dogs are devoted to us and to our journeys and selflessly position themselves to serve and love in the best way that they can. Teddy's life on earth was over when we were no longer going to be 'his' but the joyful footprints that he left on those innocent years of my birth family live forever.

Three of my friends have had to say their final good-byes to their furry beloveds in the last two weeks. So many beings leaving the planet; do they know something that we don't? My Obie lies here watching me lazily out of the corner of his eye. He understands every word that I say, and every feeling that I have. Oberon, are you Julius reincarnated? You might be, but it doesn't matter.

Ahh. Julius. Julius was born on the bed of my daughter, Melanie, on the Ides of March when she was 12. Melanie had wanted Julius' mother Lily to do just this but when it actually happened (complete with Melanie screaming and Nina, her younger sister reading the vet book of instructions)the overwhelming facts around birthing being a messy business and thirteen golden retrievers puppies dropping all over her room in little sacs, was just too much. This was how Julius entered the world, and in spite of the frantic chaos he was a solid, mellow boy from day one. When he was 3 months old he had an accident which combined with Hurricane Hugo, ultimately resulted in a hip replacement. Through all of this Julius became accustomed to 'staying put' and being with humans. In those years I was a professional massage therapist, and baby Julius would sleep under the massage table while I worked on clients, ahe absorbing all of the floaty energy. We moved to New York City when he was three and as my career morphed into counseling, Julius morphed as well and now met clients at the door and led them into the living room by the wrist, then lay down and zoned in and out while they shared. He was my partner through and through. I was single and as my daughters grew and flitted to and from the nest, Julius was constant. During this chapter I was badly injured and EMS'd to a hospital. Before I could be released to my home the hospital required the name of a responsible party who would be tending to my needs. 'Julius' was the name that I gave and yes, he was perfect. When Julius was thirteen, my daughters now finished with college and on their own, his hip began to cause him excruciating pain and our fourth floor walk up was too much for him. My destiny was calling me to head west so I loaded him into a rented car and we headed for Boulder, Colorado. Julius had one year being 'Ferdinand'; he would sit in mountain meadows and sniff the flowers and the wind. After slipping away in my arms one night I sprinkled him in this meadow thus allowing my future husband to enter my life. Julius knew that a new chapter lay just around the bend for me and that he needed to go to make room for it. Julius was my companion through the entire single mother years of my life. What would we do without these creatures from whom we learn love and loyalty and forgiveness beyond the imagination of human capability?

One year later I googled 'golden' in the state of Colorado and found that a litter had been born in the mountains nearby. I wasn't ready for a new dog but was drawn. The roads twisted and turned and I finally drove through the gates of what looked like a rustic wonderland. Three golden retrievers, a wolf and a woman greeted me. I was ushered into a barn peppered with puppy litters, each meticulously cared for and some too young to go home. Tustling balls of golden retriever fuzz. I turned to ask the woman a question and was met by the gaze of a single blond three month old with a curly chest and soft eyes sitting straight up, all alone and looking directly at me. 'Who Are You?' I asked to him. And the woman answered "This is Baby Grunt. His father won best of show at the Westminster and we were keeping him and his brother for three months to see which one to show oursleves. This morning we decided on his brother as goldens must be the color of a copper penny and he's too light" I was spellbound, starstruck, in love with royalty, but his soul is what shone through. I felt that I knew him. I drove home. The next morning I drove back with my husband. For the first two days that the puppy was with us I kept slipping and calling him 'Julius' and he spontaneously responded each time. We named him Oberon, which he adapted to quickly but as a baby his response was to his former life name (just as with humans, we forget our former life once we get going in the present one). Obie is purely Obie now and he's been with us for seven years. My relationship with him is totally different than mine with Julius, largely because it is Obie who rounds the coupledom of my husband and me into a true family unit. We three are a family, hence our relationships overlap. My husband is the alpha of the tribe ( there was no alpha when I was single), and Obie and I are litter mates. Obie is well trained and quite perfectly obedient with my husband; Obie will sit for hours and stare at him in adoration of his leader, where he and I play and cuddle. We twinkle and wink at each other and when I sing to him he transcends this planet. This year has been strenuous for my family as we have been without a home. Obie has rolled with every variation on a theme, from sharing the nest of three tiny doglets who did not truly want him there (at first), to having to curb his bird retrieving instincts while living with eight designer chickens, to midnight scuffles on the Venice Boardwalk, to trying to find a place to breathe in the heat of Palm Springs. For Obie? Who once upon a time lived with us in a little blue cottage by the sea and ran with the wind every evening while the sun set, home is where we are. No matter what. His love and sweetness never falter. Ever.

Love and loyalty is what these beings are about, what they embody for us and where they become our mirrors and our teachers. Amen.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Snake Medicine and Angel Wings

There is not such a thing as too much trust. There is such a thing as mixing up trust with need and muddying the truth.

Over a year ago my husband and I had to walk away from our home because we had trusted someone, something, words, promises that pushed our rationality but felt in alignment with our destinies. Were we wrong? No, there isn’t such a thing. “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go”. We believed then and we believe now in who we are, the path we are on, how our lives are unfolding, and how we are to show up in the world with our God given gifts. The who and what we trusted in was not grounded but not wrong. What we are experiencing as a result is only making us more of who we are supposed to be.

Two days ago we left the Sesame House in the valley. Insecurities and angst rose from my belly and my old friend snake medicine delivered another bite. I’m just now recovering and healing and phoenixing as the poison makes me stronger. Angels accompany me above, below, and at my side, always; their loyal presence comforts and supports.

When I was a girl my older brother collected boa constrictors, pythons and anacondas. None of these were poisonous but Dave’s fascination with snakes led him into worlds where cobras were devenomed and snake handlers were friends. Around the dinner table, the whole family immersed itself in tales of exotic near ‘misses’ and reptilean likes and dislikes. Little did I know that this family that I had been born into, with profound differences among us, was laying the foundation for my entire adulthood even with these stories of transmutation cycles where multiple bites grow an immunity to poison and the shedding of skins is about life and death and rebirth. Twenty years later when I drew my first American Indian Medicine Cards and my spirit animals claimed me, snake appeared among them and I took a deep breath with an ‘oh no’ following with an exhale of soul understanding.

Snake bit me hard this week and though he has become a familiar companion, his presence always requires energy, attention and respect. While dealing with his bite, in the first stage, I slide away from my creativity and expression and I move through my world with angel wings around me whilst attempting to see clearly and feel present and be strong. Then the healing and growth begin.

My husband and I have become professional house-sitters for this chapter. All of our earthly possessions are in storage and we are living the dread of many Americans. We have no home, no health insurance, no bank account and no concrete plan. I am here to say it’s not only alright but it’s an incredible experience, more rich with personal and spirit treasure than one can grok without the walking. Every single day the fog around my soul’s vision becomes clearer and though much energy is required to maintain an equilibrium, the challenge is worth it. ‘Following one’s bliss’ is a phrase that was popular twenty years ago; and I know now that this doesn’t mean that every moment feels delightful but it does mean that every moment I am planting the garden of my life and my dreams are breathing and manifesting. Along the way I am meeting people who I touch and am touched by, we appear and disappear to each other but in the moment there is a clarity of experiencing ourselves and God in every exchange. I have stories to tell and the stories are growing. Norman and I are a screenwriting team, we are new to the world of wheeling and dealing in Hollywood, and we continue to believe that our stories are our destiny.

Tonight with one roof behind and one ahead somewhere, my higher self says “I welcome you, oh snake medicine, as your bites empower me and your skin shedding rebirths me. You watch! One day I shall sprout angel wings of my own and you will be in awe and I shall thank you forever”

And my smaller self says, “ I need to rest now as tomorrow is a new day and spring is coming.”

Good night.