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Monday, December 17, 2012

Within A Child's Eyes

I hate to admit it, but I’m not feeling very jovial this year, but rather a bit nostalgic about Christmas. I find myself conjuring familiar details from Yule’s gone by, like how the snow felt crunching under my boots as Ma led us along the crowded sidewalks of downtown Worcester, peering into store windows and judging their Christmas displays. One display in particular concerned me. It was a bare-bottom boy lying across his mother’s lap as she spanked him with her big mechanical hand, his red face twisted into an endless squall—forever humiliated. He would certainly be the recipient of a heavy heaping of coal, inspiring a rush of fear that my own misdeeds might be exposed.

Me & Santa
I recall the rousing smell of new toys, while taking my turn with a well-groomed department store Santa, dressed in kingly red, ho-ho-hoing from his velvety throne, his all seeing eyes measuring my earnestness, peeking into my soul, exposing my coal-worthy deeds in spite of my new coat and shiny Maryjanes.

Yes nostalgic. The carols of yesterday seem to be carrying bygone Christmases into my present, revisiting the times when poverty nipped every nickel from Ma’s thin purse, and S&H green stamps were the currency of the season. The days of small joys tucked within tough times like diamonds hidden within the folds of an old burlap blanket. I hadn’t yet learned how to be discontented with life, accepting my mother’s world as the way everyone lived, her reassuring words pointing out the praiseworthiness of life, guarding our spirits from hunger and want. Spending contented hours snipping paper chains to drape across our bare walls—turning Styrofoam balls into a galaxy of jeweled ornaments to hang on our tree.

I guess I find myself looking backwards to simpler times because the present seems so complicated—so transitional—so sad. I want to look back to the Rockwellian days, when the sparkle of wonder within a child’s eyes was revered, as was the sanctity of childhood.

My husband Mike & Santa
I want to stroll those easy streets once again, mingling with familiar strangers all high on the same holiday cheer. But, I mustn’t fool myself, for even back then evil had a face—clean shaven and reeking of Old Spice. I knew that face. And as I sat on Santa’s knee in front of Ma, I held back my request that Santa would make that face go away, and asked instead for a doll that could cry “mama”.

Life is indeed a spectral journey, where shadows dance like opaque fairies amidst the twinkling lights of our festivities. These dark stalkers have always been there. They sought to murder the Christ Child, who was whisked away into exile, safe from the blade of Herod’s plan. But this type of evil can never truly win, because the loveless womb from which it crawled has seeded it with barren fear, leaving it no place to go beyond the grave.

If Christmas has taught me anything over my lifetime, it is this: that life takes no break for the holidays. That Christmas is a microcosm of life, a compact version brought into acute focus under the brilliant lights of the season, causing our tears to flow faster and our joys to sing louder. I lost my mother during the holidays of 1998, and five loved ones already this year, including my dear mother-in-law just last week; I’m reeling with the sting of loss, yet I continue to sing the sweet praises of life, inspired by a divine love which expands the human heart, infusing it with the silvery light of hope. This is where the magic lives—within the restorative power of love’s embrace. This, my dear friends, is the spirit of Christmas…our greatest gift to one another.

Whether in mourning or mirthful, let us share this most precious gift of love with those around us, for in doing so we confound evil plans and light a torch in the most desolate of places. Merry Christmas fellow citizens, may our deeds mark the day as good, and compassionate wisdom be our earthly legacy.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Birthdays Buzzards and Rainbows

Monday’s attempt at a birthday blog:

Okay so I’m suppose to be writing a birthday blog and I’m finding that it isn’t so easy to write. I feel scattered. Maybe it’s that I have so much on my mind. Or perhaps it’s my age. Maybe my brain is starting to sag right along with my other assets. Sagging assets. Hahaha! Sorry. This isn’t going so well.

Tuesday’s attempt at a birthday blog:

I’m not feeling very reflective or poetic about my birthday. Having a birthday in December is like throwing a party at Mardi Gras. Everyone is already celebrating. How can you compete with that? My birthday sort of gets lost in all of the holiday hubbub. Yeah. This isn’t going so well.

Wednesday’s attempt at a birthday blog:

I’m sitting here in my summer bathrobe with a pooch tucked in against my heart. It’s quiet and calm. The Florida morning breathes lightly, gentle and vacation like. I’m adding my blessings. I’m also adjusting to losses. Epic losses. Life holds all things in one big pot—the gains and losses, the pretty and painful, the whole thing. God, I’m so sick of myself. This isn’t going so well.

Thursday’s attempt at a birthday blog:

This birthday blog thing isn’t going too well. Last night I dreamt of a sailboat and it was tied to the dock. A voice said to me, “What good is a sailboat if it’s tied to the dock?” I didn’t answer but I knew I had to untie the rope and set sail. The thing is I hate sailing. I prefer walking. But sometimes we are required to sail. So what did this dream mean? Am I supposed to be going somewhere?

Mike’s mother is sick. Sicker than sick. Mike is there with her now. Her days are numbered. But aren’t all our days numbered and we just don’t want to face it. We live like we have endless days. Like summertime and youth are eternal. I’m healthy and have this life to live. I’m blessed. I should be more grateful and active but instead I’m feeling listless. I just want to crawl into bed with my mother-in-law and hold her. She’s too precious to say goodbye to.

This isn’t going well. I’m dried up. I have nothing to say.

Friday’s attempt at a birthday blog.

I have endless miles of white to impress upon. I do. I have endless thoughts and emotions. I don’t however have endless days in which to write my stories.

So, what shall I say then? A birthday blog. Who gives a shit? Really? Don’t we all have birthdays? We expect too much. We’re spoiled rotten.

Shouldn’t I be celebrating every day? Is the birthday thing really necessary? Oh fudge, this isn’t going too well.

What would make me happy on my birthday? What are a few of my favorite things? Puppies, and teapots, and Gumby & Pokey, nice friendly people who say “okey dokey”, crunching dead acorn tops under my shoe, making them pop is what I like to do.

Buzzards and rainbows and pies of all flavors, a friend who will listen and do me some favors, someone who loves me without keeping score, and stays closely by with his ear to the door.

Listening to music while I’m Sunday driving, going in circles and never arriving, feeling as boundless as space and the sea, talking with God as he talks back to me.

Watching the stars blink is better than Vegas, the same stars that made Galileo so famous, feeling a part of ev-er-y thing, makes me so happy that I want to sing.

Eating a donut with jelly and coffee, walking a mile so I won’t be a softy, watching a movie that gets in my eyes, hiding my face so they won’t see me cry.

Blowing a straw sleeve across at my daughter, watching her flinch with sur-prise cause I got her. Laughing while showing my gums and my teeth, ducking the straw sleeve that’s aimed back at me.

Writing down words all jumbly and noisy, letting them spill out like milk on a doily, killing the editor and hiding his corpse, living wide open without any doors.

Stupid song lyrics that wiggle and hover, making me wonder if I need a doctor, to cure me of this so no one will know, that I’m a crummy poet without any clothes.

Whew! Glad I got that out of my system.

So ends my birthday blog. Thanks for indulging this old girl for the moment. It’s been a rough week. And by the way, I was sober when I wrote this. Big mistake. Anyway, when your birthday rolls around (and it will) I promise to be, the sort of friend who listens no matter what you say or sing.

Happy Birthday to me.

This didn’t go so well.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Well Below The Surface

Sometimes…. Uh-oh. Whenever I start a post out with “sometimes” I turn all reflective and deep. I’m tired of reflective and deep. I want some shallow fun. I want giggles and twinkies. I want window shopping and red toenails. I want my favorite movie with extra buttery popcorn. NO MORE DEEP!

I should have been born with scuba gear on because my soul isn’t content unless it’s well below the surface, being carried away by mystical currents to esoteric places. I thrive on discovering the sunken significances of life—treasures lost by ancient vessels with limited days—much like you and I. The winds prevail, the ship sinks, (the ship always sinks) and the booty is pitched into the common deep, where aqueous angels guard the murky loot, sharing it with only those bold enough to brave the brine and claim the inheritance of past generations.

The ship needn’t sink in vain, nor life be lived for naught, for each soul is, in and of itself, a pearly treasure, having suffered many years of abrasions and barnacles in hopes of discovering the Jiminy Cricket truth on how to live this life. And how shall we live it? Bored and bitter? Mad and maniacal? Unhappy, unsettled, depressed and drunk?

Being somewhat practical in nature, I focused my search on the simplest aspects of life: the breathe in and out—get up and go of living. Like how to rise with joy and close my eyes at the end of the day in peace. Simple enough. Right? Wrong! I’ve thrown blue-faced tantrums before surrendering to a flood of Gethsemane tears. I’ve read a litany of mystics ( some with some pretty iffy spiritual connections) and then studied the scriptures in both Greek and Hebrew. I’ve fallen from more bandwagons than a drunken gypsy, and in the patient silence of nightfall, scanned the dark heavens for Divinity only to find a trillion sets of ironic eyes winking back at me.

I’ve tried it all. I even met Jesus on a deserted beach when I was 19, (who looked nothing like his pictures) only to have him say to me, “Seek, and ye shall find.”. Well gee Jesus, I thought you’d give me a free booklet of sagely wisdom. You mean I still have to learn how to live this life? I have to go back to error and experience? Yeah, that was a huge bummer, but luckily I didn’t have to return to the search alone. I now had a friend I could drag through the mess with me. Lucky Jesus.

Many years later, on a very ordinary day, I discovered the answer to my question in a book that had been in my possession for quite some time: The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle (thank you Oprah for recommending it). Like Dorothy in Oz, I discovered that the answer had been with me all along I just hadn’t recognized it. How shall I live this life? I shall live it one lip-licking moment at a time. Ha!

I know it seems I’m overly simplifying things here, but it really is that simple, for in this present moment is where God has set His throne. It’s where the magic lives. The love. The creativity. The peace. I have the power to hush the ghosts of my past and dreads of the future when I live in the ever present now. Always. New. Like right now. Here. With you.

Life is still a huge challenge littered with the debris of experimentation on how to actually stay in the moment and ignore my ever chattering thoughts, (that’s another 100 posts) but at least now I have a blissful basilica right here on earth where my life is contemporary and vital.

So there you have it: the culmination of 55 years of Leah’s scuba-souling, nutshelled into one simple moment. It amazes me how much you can fit into a moment.

Okay, enough deep stuff for today. I’m heading back up to the surface. I have some Christmas Shopping to do. Perhaps I’ll pick up some Rudolf-Red nail polish for these toes of mine. They’ll be real Christmassy—mistletoes!

Sorry. I couldn’t resist. Tis the season isn’t it?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fear of Flying

When I was young I considered flying an air-sucking adventure to anticipate, sort of like Christmas but with jet engines involved. Of course back then I was in my invincible mode. My thoughts were rarely cautionary, but full-throttle daredevils compelling life to move faster. I was instant and active, my forehead straining against the plexiglas window, eager for a rivet-rattling launch, and then the steep climb through shadowy cloudscapes, where episodic flashbacks of Twilight Zone faces heightened the experience.

As an adult I prefer to leave the thrill of flying to the birds. As a matter of fact on my last trip to MA I became so thrilled (insert sarcastic tone) with the prospect of flying that I had what some might call a mini panic attack. Okay, so it wasn’t so mini. Anyway, I had just cleared security, and was putting my clothes back on, when I was overtaken with the feeling of being trapped inside the belly of the terminal much like Pinocchio being swallowed up by Monstro.

Fighting the sensation of suffocation, I put on my best independent traveler’s face and merged into the masses, the wheels of my oversized carry-on thump thumping across the tile floor, while internally lecturing myself: “You are not allowed to freak out in this airport! You’re fine. You can breathe. They pipe plenty of air into these places. Besides, how are you going to handle being trapped on a plane if you can’t even walk through this terminal?”

Of course mentioning being trapped on an airplane to myself was a gigantic mistake, although it did make the air in the terminal seem much more plentiful. My breathing had stabilized, but I became obsessed with the thought of suffocating on a crowded airplane. I located my gate, and tried distracting myself with IPhone games, but found it impossible to concentrate due to the vast crowd of people filling up the seats around me. Not just regular people, but beefy people bearing bulky bags of burdensome belongings, increasing the odds that our flight would relegate to a cruise due to the weight of the excessive cargo.

I could feel the fight or flight beneath my shirt…the onset of another attack, so I proceeded with more inner dialog: “Leah, no one has ever died from being on a crowded airplane. When everyone else starts to freak out then you have permission to freak out right along with them, but until then—GET A GRIP!

This one-sided pep talk made me feel a little bit better, but it was sitting at the gate better; I needed sitting on the airplane better. I needed something tangible to take my fear down another notch or two. I was contemplating the options of liquor, drugs, or phoning a friend, when the ticketing agent announced over the PA the availability of seats in business class being offered at a discounted rate. I had never flown business class before, and imagining the segregated spaciousness of it all; I bounded up to the ticket counter and paid the extra cash for the upgrade.

Enjoying early boarding privileges, I found my seat and hunkered down like Buddha in a bucket seat. My heart rate was undetectable and my breathing easy; traveling first class was a good choice. Hearing a bit of commotion I glanced over the top of my e-reader at a rumpled herd of pack-mules single filing past me toward the cheap-seat section. I was feeling grateful for my new station in life—I could get used to this kind of special treatment. Craning my neck to snag a guilty peek at the difference in seat size between the haves and have nots, I noticed a thin Gulag-grey curtain hanging between us, looking no better than a tired frock on laundry day. I was expecting a more substantial barrier between them and us…something solid and swanky. Big disappointment.

About an hour into the flight I began to fidget and lost interest in reading, so I turned my attention to the view. I observed a band of chubby little clouds passing over the green landscape, transforming the scene into a pastoral canvas of fleecy white sheep grazing in undisturbed serenity. This sight inspired a warm rush of security—a spiritual kept-ness, which could have only originated from the heart of love. In that instant I knew that I was totally safe—that nothing could ever truly harm me.

“Thou restorest my soul.”

At eight miles above the earth love found me and taught me that fear of flying was synonymous with fear of living, and that I was as safe on that airplane as I was on my own front porch. I also learned that there are many ways of taking care of myself— things that I might do to assist myself as I transition to a place where I’m calm enough to lean back and accept the daring confidence of the deeply loved.

So, here I am now with two happy feet on the ground and a fond memory of flying. I have no trips scheduled any time soon, but when I do, I intend to print this little ditty out and read it prior to boarding the airplane. Sure, there is always the minute chance that the plane could go down—lightening could strike, an aneurism could burst, but somehow love places these threats in the hazy distance, encouraging us to be bold and to move forward. And when our time does indeed come, love will be present to faithfully escort us to our succeeding destination (in first class of course).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

30 Nights of Solitude

Last night was my third evening home after 30 nights of solitude spent in a bed far far away. A month was long enough for me to form an intimate relationship with nocturnal privacy, where my thoughts were free to roam naked down the carpeted halls of my mind, bumping into only myself on the way to the bathroom. “Excuse me. Oh! It’s just me.”

It was a luxurious fling. A sprawling self-indulgence of fluffed pillows, and scrolling paragraphs — the creamy night light lulling my lids, my hands releasing my darling tome beside me, his pages butterfly-breathing beneath the ceiling fan, sharing my bed and my dreams.

This is where the needle scratches across the record because I’ve returned home to the city, where solitude is but a smoky memory, having been replaced with suspicious night riders thumping past my windows, their base set to 10, vibrating my crib and my nerves. Really? Is it necessary to massage the entire neighborhood with your music?

My husband Mike, sweet and hushed, snoozes on the left coast, while our two small dogs swim between us like escapees from Alcatraz looking for land, thrashing about and licking themselves, making the most disgusting mouth sounds—and beautiful Bella, our sleek Siamese, perching on my chest to steal a sip from my water glass. Her padded little paws feeling like steel fingers driving through me. Ouch! I should kick them all out of my bed. I don’t know how they got to be so spoiled.

And one mustn’t forget our firstborn, ending his graveyard shift by burglarizing our refrigerator, setting our two-Chihuahua alarm off, jarring me from my slumber, while hubby, conditioned to the sounds of sonny’s pre-dawn home invasions, snores peacefully beside me, the same way he did when our babies woke up in the middle of the night all cranky and foul-smelling, wailing into my clean nighty — wiping their mucousy little noses all over me. Curse these mommy ears, trained like sonar to detect the slightest of sounds! Will they ever let me rest? Will I ever be that person who can sleep through a normal night without having to resort to sound machines and sheep counting?

The morning arrives on time — benign and balanced, reminding me that I have an open invitation to clear away my bed-head blues and begin anew. I smile up at the ceiling, because I’m home and I get to go for a morning walk, listen to the birds…and drink coffee, leaving behind the exaggerated frustrations of the sleep deprived.

Sleep is messy. No! Being human is messy. Hell, it’s all messy! Good thing I’m resilient;)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tinker Toy Traumas

My time here in Massachusetts is coming to a close. This Saturday I’ll jet south to where palms sway, the sun restores, and little dogs dance around my ankles. I’m a bit in denial — trying to slow down time, for although I can’t wait to get home, this Worcester girl is a bit reluctant to leave.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a roller coaster visit click clicking me to the apex of heightened suspension — pausing just long enough for a quick-eyed glance around, and then hurling me into a tummy-tossing drop — but still, I’m back in line for more. There’s something about the thrill of the plunge, the blurred faces zipping by that connects me to where I’ve been and where I want to go.

I’ll board my plane, but I will never really leave this place of grainy footage and R-less accents, and as the HD version flickers against my contemporary soul — adult Leah, has discovered that everything remains somewhat the same, although modified by time and the generous distance that I’ve allowed myself. I know that leaving was necessary for it offered me a panoramic view, and now I’m able to see that Worcester is not only benign, but an endearing part of who I have become — my tribal home.

I’ve come to understand that Paris or grotto, Mordor or Shangri-La, it makes no difference where we come from, for the most frightening places are within our own minds, where tinker toy traumas torment our lives and spawn crippling fears; stunting our ability to reach beyond ourselves.

Worcester, I publicly apologize for placing the blame of the culpable on your pretty little head. And even though this visit has been squally and raw, I know that neither sun nor rain comes in judgment, but rather by natural course — and that all things, both dreary and bright, were, and are, just as they should be.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Love in The Looming Shadows

There’s a bit of enchantment in the air. It could be coming from the trees, dressed in scorching colors, tossing acorns and apples — shamelessly showing off, or from the cobalt sky as it poses behind the flashy trees, my two pretty sisters, vying for attention. Or perhaps the universe is feeling generous; directing the angels to make haste — sprinkle the magic!

I imagine it’s all of the above, plus a little more: I believe I’ve finally embraced the reality that grief and grace are partners, one taking while the other gives, paradoxical lovers brought together by brokenness and sincerity — I get that I’m actually equipped for this bi-polar journey, where hope rises like the sun, giving birth to the light, and then drops below the bruised horizon, plunging my soul into darkness — for a season. I finally understand that there is a place within my being which grasps the great mystery —that we are timeless spirits, kin to the divine, and that we have within ourselves the resources needed to not only persevere, but to see the invisible, and embrace the eternal.

I experience this magic when I invite Love to guide me through the looming shadows, ministering to me through nature and nurture, sending me serendipitous messages like a secret admirer — a random song pouring like a poem into my soul, subduing me like a strong martini. All things are needful, motivated by love for love. And my path, although strewn with thorns and often blanketed in gloomy skies, is somehow a place of safety…a wayward home away from home.

Ah yes, I speak these things while the sun is high and the calming sway of the martini lingers in my blood. How bold of me to speak so plainly of this enchantment, knowing full well that the ordinary will soon revisit me, leaving dry heaves and dead leaves as the only evidence of the magic…yet still, I will believe.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Confusing Cocktail

Have you ever begun a journey, intent on one destination, only to find you’ve been detoured to another? Such was my journey to Massachusetts last week. Yes, I’m here — physically, looking about in wonder at death's fiery brilliance; colorful trees canopy the city's narrow streets like leafy umbrellas splattered by nature's palette, and I can't help but wonder if the leaves know that they’re dying.

I came here with a purpose in mind — a sole purpose. How foolish of me to imagine that I could predict my purpose. For one thing is often a cover for another — the bait and switch. And here I am now, sitting stunned, and softened like a slice of clay that has been kneaded into a supple clump.

The shock of it all is still with me. I can’t seem to move past it. My cousin Jimmy is gone. I try to conjure his face, his being, that curly hair, distinct voice, eyes that painted the world with grace and humor.

The first paragraph of my last blog haunts me: “I’m heading up to MA for a spell. I have a vital mission—a delicate assignment appointed to me by the angels and I’m certain that all of heaven will be watching and cheering. And that’s how it should be—packed stands of roaring fans, cheering on brave souls with holes in their shoes.”

This photo causes my breath to hitch…

City Hall

This is where Jimmy worked for the last 26 years.

And who would have known that I was coming to say goodbye one day after his birthday, and to recite his eulogy to a crowd of stunned fans.

I’m drunk on a confusing cocktail of loss and grace. The grace is as thick as honey, reflecting light from afar…perhaps a place where newly departed souls go to catch their breath. But then that muddy wave of loss hits, washing over everything, coloring the world in gray.

I should have known that his soft heart would betray him, for it was too weak to carry him into his golden years where silver–haired sages gather to share costly secrets. He took a shorter route, heading up rather than across, and now he knows what all those white heads don’t know—what we ponder as we pound the pavement. He knows it all, and somehow this knowledge comforts me.

It is just enough to keep me from despair.

A Vital Mission

I’m heading up to MA for a spell. I have a vital mission—a delicate assignment appointed to me by the angels and I’m certain that all of heaven will be watching and cheering. And that’s how it should be—packed stands of roaring fans, cheering on brave souls with holes in their shoes.

I grew up in MA, and each time I return I feel I’m on an archeological dig, searching for familial clues, finding bits and pieces of evidence scattered like chalky bones throughout the city. Home. Worcester MA, where I toddled the gritty sidewalks in my size twos, holding Ma’s hand, the church bells pealing out the years, stopping me mid-play to ponder life’s secrets: Will the world end in my lifetime? Can God see everything I do? Am I late for dinner? I was as deep as midnight—as awake as noon, my eyes always watching as the potter’s blade cut into the clay.

I’m not a pessimist or a realist; I’m a wakeful dreamer with both feet on the ground and a good eye for detail. I see the danger, the blood on the wall, but I also see the light. The irony. The humor. The Love.

From a distance life seems so simple, like theories placed in cotton-lined boxes, carried by cautious couriers—unbreakable. But reality chews holes in your theories, rarely offering you the consideration of a cotton-lined box. No. Life is nitroglycerin carried in your own trembling hands. The great experiment whose outcome is yet to be determined. And tremble we do. But is that so terrible? For our trembling bears witness to our desperate need for something greater than our frailties, and accompanies us as we surrender to the vastness within, where we are linked like DNA to our one true love.

Angels, I am honored to accept this assignment. Humbled actually. Ma, I’ll be there soon.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Possibilities are Endless

Fresh from my dreams I tread the dawn: hair mussed, voice froggy, sleep seeds not yet swept away—a rumpled pilgrim in love with the musky morning.

Heading east with my shadow trailing behind; Florence claims that the dog days are over, but Florida disagrees, smiling behind her frizzy hair; a curtain of humidity presenting hazy visions—the possibilities are endless.

My sensitive feet carry every bit of the load, and still; He keeps me waiting. I remember the thrill, biting my lip on the way up, and then screaming on the way down, “More more more!”

I discover Zen Cat Jr. spying from the fauna. Perhaps he has a fortune for me; Zen Cat Sr. lives at the base of the volcano. I miss that feral feline.

Fortune or misfortune, my secrets are kept, my steps inevitable, as I bold the a.m. asphalt. It’s always a mixed bag, a dizzying array of sunrise selections. I decide on the Daily Special: clouds iced in silver, perfect for dunking in the morning dew.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Monkey Mind Maybe

My meditation sitting didn’t go as planned this morning. I went into it feeling sort of blue, hoping to visit the tranquil center of my soul, but then Monkey Mind invaded my thinking. I taped my brain waves during this morning’s session and this is how it went. Please realize that Monkey Mind isn’t me. I don’t know who he is.

Monkey Mind: “So, why so glum chum? What’s the prob today? Something always seems to be bothering you. Aren’t you ever happy?”

Me: “Nothing’s wrong. I’m not supposed to be talking to you.”

Monkey Mind: “Aw… you’re confused and stuck, blue and bloated. Well, hells bells it sucks to be you. Have another banana and take one for the monkey.”

Me: “I am not my thoughts. I am the silence behind the thoughts—the lean back and breathe, the soft in the center.”

Monkey Mind: “Blubber tastes delicious to old-fashioned Eskimos but not to me. It’s too…blubbery. Lots of things on this planet are gross. I knew that life was going to be a bitch when I got slapped on the ass for showing up.”

Me: “Who said that?”

Monkey Mind: “I did.”

Me: “Who are you?”

Monkey Mind: “I don’t know, but I’m not you so relax. “

Me & Monkey Mind: “This is weird…me not being my thoughts. It makes me wonder…. Or is it someone else wondering? Hmmm.”

Monkey Mind: “There’s going to be a flogging at the village square—a tar and feathering—guilty guilty.”

Me: “Stand by the edge of the river and observe your thoughts floating by. Don’t let them distract you. They are not you.”

Monkey Mind: “I gotta pee.”

Me: “Shhh! Who are you anyway?”

Monkey Mind: “Um. God.”

Me: “No you’re not. Shut up so I can meditate. Lean back and observe the thoughts flowing by. I am not my thoughts…. Oh screw it. I’m getting a cup of coffee. You coming?”

Monkey Mind: “You betcha! Loser.”

Me: “What did you call me?”

Monkey Mind: “Nothing. Remember when you used to pick pussy willows by that covered bridge, like that movie with hunky Clint Eastwood in it? Hey I just met you…here’s my number, so call me maybe…

Me: ”It’s going to be a long day.”

Because misery loves company I'm featuring this video today. My friend Beth planted it in my head yesterday, so I wanted to pay it forward:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Are We There Yet?

As I walk, my path narrows, pinpointing my destination—a lofty target with margins that vanish into infinity. I wonder as I tread; what does this path hold for me? For if life is indeed a journey, and this trail is to get me there, you’d think I would be more certain about outcomes.

I’ve traveled many a road and found that up usually leads to down—and down to up. The climax becomes the foreplay, offering intimacies and secrets for new adventures, never really arriving at all, but rather continuing….

The mountaintop provides an intoxicating view from kingdom heights, allowing me to assess the topography of the landscape—map out the many mountains and valleys ahead that must be crossed.

Initially the mountaintop experience is euphoric—I want to stay there forever, but such high altitudes are incapable of sustaining life for any meaningful length of time, besides, the real rewards lie within the shadowy forests of the valley, where the rainbow’s colors bleed into the earth, burying the gold just below the surface, concealing it from thieves who pass by, their eager eyes always looking ahead, their hands too lazy to dig.

I walk circumspectly, aware of the indigenous plants—staying clear of the low-lying poisons with their showy blooms, instead turning my desires toward the simple fruits found high within the woodland’s emerald canopy, reclining on elevated boughs as I eat my meals in mottled sunlight.

This isn’t my first expedition, and I doubt it will be my last, but all along I’ve had to fight the urge to ask, “Are we there yet?”

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Today, I’ve got an endless list of things to do…so much so much! Yet, I can’t get this blog out of my head—so here it is on paper. Let me apologize ahead of time if it’s a bit snappy, but I’m channeling my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Cronin, who was never one to pussyfoot around.

When life drones on like a drunken relative, leaving too much time for stinking thinking, and old worries dig their way out from their graves with zombie like skill, then it’s time to gather things up and set them in order.

If you don’t know what to do with a problem the best thing to do is to leave it alone. I mean really, look at it with its lunatic stare and inflamed gums, curled into the corner like Lizzie Borden ready to strike. Do you really feel capable of dealing with that thing, or would you rather take a dip in the pool? No brainer—right?

If you haven’t been able to fix the situation then chances are it’s not time to fix it. After all, it’s really not bothering anyone as long as you leave it alone. It’s only when you poke and prod it with your yardstick that it gets testy.

What? You say it’s a big problem? Well then this calls for big distractions, unless of course you have a solution, in which case go at it. Otherwise, step away from the joy killer and get a life.

Go do something else. Anything else! Hide a walky-talky in the bushes and then sit inside with the other walky-talky and say things to people when they walk by, like: “I saw what you did!” Or go to a crowded beach with a box of cheerios and feed the hungry seagulls, then act innocent when the sunbathers get dive-bombed and shat upon.

There are about a zillion other things you could be doing besides harassing your fears. So what that these pranks are a tad aggressive; it’s fun to kick back once in awhile, surely whatever karma these deeds trigger will be minor. Certainly nothing more than a flopped soufflé or a stubbed toe—it will be well worth it.

* Mrs. Cronin is a genius.

I find when I get busy living life, my problems fade, and my creativity rises. I also notice that I’m much more likely to discover solutions with my mind pacified. It gives the magic a chance to happen, allowing life to direct me with serendipitous events—events that I would never be clever enough to orchestrate on my own, and then abracadabra! the solution finds me.

This weekend a friend visited for an overnighter. She came with her jammies packed, along with some other useless bullshit that she wasn’t sure what to do with. You know… her collection of dilemmas that believe just because they belong to her that they are invited to go everywhere she goes.

I was well prepared for her visit, having spent many musical hours mixing sangria, and preparing a kick-ass meal. But, just one day prior to this I was obsessing over a situation of my own. One I’d been knocking around for years without any real solutions. Preparing for my friend’s visit distracted me from my neurosis, clearing the stage for some fun, while also equipping me with the strength to chase off some of her blues before they had a chance to spoil the party.

Some struggles have incredible longevity, hanging around for years, and like back-seat-drivers they nag and bully us—if we let them. We do have a choice. I believe that our trials are tailor-made, sent to teach us valuable lessons. In a way we must make room for them in our lives, while at the same time we must contain them by keeping them in their rightful places—until the solution comes along to claim them.

Fretting and obsessing over difficulties is busy-work for scaredy cats. Take your power back by doing something different, and then forgetaboutit!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Poetry Link Up With Andy David

Andy David has invited me to participate in a fun poetry link up session called Lover’s Cove. Andy is an amazing romantic poet whose words sing with love. I am participating in the third round which can be read Here at Andy’s

Here is my line:

Together we will explore love’s milky galaxies and claim the blushing moon as our own.

And here is the poem in its entirety:

If I were an artist, I would create the most beautiful flower in your image.

And I would draw your lips like two petals of rose waiting for the dew.

Brilliant strokes of pale September falling down softly upon your skin exposing the beauty within.

The beauty within your soul that kidnapped me to an endless dream of your own.

In each stroke of the brush flows a great affection devoted to you, my love.

Each colour relfecting the many seasons of your life and conveying all your intimate emotions.

The sweet whispers of our souls reflecting in the faces radiant with love.

I drink your hues, merge into me, be born with me in a new color.

Together we will explore love’s milky galaxies and claim the blushing moon as our own.

I pour its rouge glory to your dewy lips and color you to angelic perfection.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

In Sync With The Moonlight

I thought I’d share some reflective thoughts that came to me recently when I was desperate enough to listen. Not that I think I’m Anaïs Nin or anything. I’m just me. Leah. Simple and somewhat vulnerable—but feisty enough stand my ground.

Anyway, I was taking a mid-night dip, reclaiming the moon and the stars— wondering how it was that the moment things seem to be going smoothly life sticks its bony leg into the isle and trips things up. In my state of cool quietude this is what I heard…

“Living in a vulnerable place with broken ground is a tricky thing, for therein lies the potential for a gravesite or a garden. The choice is yours.

When the earth is soft planting is easy. The seed nestles into the moist soil, and the two become one. The weeping sky cleanses the dirt while the brazen sun strengthens it. All the while a silent pome is growing, thanks to the nurturing elements and a soul laid bare.

Do not broadcast your seed out of season. Forcing things only yields frustration. Your seeds are your offerings to the world—your heart in a pod, sent to bear timely fruit. Relax.

Take care of yourself, for if the plant is sickly the seeds become diseased also, spreading gloom instead of light. Find refreshment from your solitary work and for added strength embrace the souls sent to love you.

You have within yourself all that is needed to live this life abundantly. Your pains and setbacks are in sync with your destiny, accept them in faith and continue onward. If you have to practice this exercise a hundred times a day, do it, for herein lies the path to peace and contentment.

Oh, and if this doesn’t work, try a jumpstart of Sangria for your spirits, a bit of moonlight for your mood, and a willing mate to awaken your senses.”

Okay, so the last line was inspired by an episode of Sex And The City; one must gather inspiration where one finds it;)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sepia Silence

I tried to write a blog but all I found was rain and silence. I drew the silence unto myself, snuggling in for a mind-numbing cuddle. Silence initially manifests in black and white, like an old photo whispering sepia secrets, slowly mingling with my mind and stirring up color—stringing dreams across my soul like a gypsy clothesline.

When I close my eyes I can see eternity, the lofty things with no boundaries or limitations—my playground, my meditation hall, my burial ground. It’s such an unassuming place; who’d a thought that eternity resided on the other side of my eyelids.

I glide with the silence like a bird circling above in wide solo spirals, a hunger driven waltz on the day’s warm breath, posing on the tips of boney branches, puncturing the heavens, and pointing the way.

I wonder if silence is the same for everyone?

I fidget on my red futon, a Claymation character chained to the earth by my ankles with no place to go but down—six more feet perhaps, until I get my wings.

It’s still raining.

The clouds are always brooding over something.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Life's a Hot Beach

“What better way to spend the forth of July than at the beach,” my daughter’s voice chirps through the phone. I agree, as we have no other plans, and it has been awhile since we had a family day.

I gather my beach accessories: my favorite beach towel, large enough to wrap me up like a burrito, bottles of cold water & pop, sandwiches, chips, apples, sunglasses, sunscreen #15, & 30, hairbrush, chap-stick, change for parking, beach umbrella & chairs, camera, blow-up floats, cooler & ice, a good book, and ear buds for my iPhone. Oh. And a pen and notebook just in case I get inspired to write.

My husband approaches me with his pile of treasures, expecting me to cram them into my already bulging beach bag. I do my best, but toss his towel back at him. “That isn’t going to fit.”

My daughter arrives, a picture perfect beauty in her cute bikini. She’s thin blond tanned—and needy. “Ma, can you fit this in your bag? I don’t want to take my purse.” I halfway unzip my beach bag, stuffing her items in one by one, and then re-zip, inch by stitch-popping inch. It now weighs forty pounds and I’m afraid it’s going to explode under the pressure.

We ride to the beach, a short twenty-minute trip; the morning sun is mellow on the hazy horizon, warming my face. I’m filled with gratitude for hot coffee, this beautiful day, and getting to spend time with my family.

Our parking juju is good—snagging the last available parking spot! Opening the trunk, a blur of arms reach in snatching personal items and exiting, not wanting to commit to toting the communal umbrella, floats, chairs and cooler. “Wait a minute!” I shout, handing out items like parking tickets to grumblers and shirkers, leaving an ample pile at my feet called, “my share.”

I sling the forty-pound bag over my shoulder, drape my king-sized towel over my arm, loop a deflated pink float around my neck like dog collar, and then eye the monstrosity in front of me. It’s a heavy metal, old timey lawn chair that I bought at a yard sale for a buck, and now I wish I hadn’t. I hoist the chair and begin my trek.

I’m moving at a snail’s pace because the chair is banging against my leg with each step forward, step bang, step bang. Ouch! A group of golden-haired teens turn and snicker. I want to smack them. Instead I imagine a future version of them—old and decrepit. This thought makes me smile.

My daughter is way ahead, looking for a slice of beach called Nirvana. She believes the further away she walks the better the real estate. One patch of sand looks the same as the next to me, but the sun is at ten o’clock, and I still have some energy in reserve, thanks to my morning coffee fest, so I follow along like a mute pack mule, relieved when my husband finally bellows, “I’m not walking any further!”

We decorate our little plot of paradise by draping the chairs with cheerful towels, and spearing the sand with our candy-striped umbrella, creating a personal oasis with a gorgeous view. I crack open a bottle of water and my book, reclining like a queen without a care in the world, occasionally lowering my book to scan the sea, always hoping for a dolphin siting.

It’s been at least an hour, maybe two. I can’t tell because time sort of disappears out here, with nothing changing but the cloud patterns and the position of the sun. I’m hot, hungry, and I have to pee. I check the time. We’ve only been here for 35 minutes. I nibble on some chips and dig back into my book.

I used to tell my kids not to hold their pee until it was too late. The facilities are far away and my bladder is ready to burst. Damn coffee!

I make my way to the water, keeping my eyes on the ground, the same way I watch the night sky for falling stars, only now I’m looking for shells, shark’s teeth, and star fish.

The water is cold. My daughter is already splashing around in the waves like a mermaid. She spots me on the water’s edge and shouts, “just jump in you big ninny. It’s warm!” I ignore her taunting, and find a seat on the shallow end. I have no intentions of going all the way in. I sit amongst the rocks, shells, and toddlers, attempting to look contemplative, as a wave knocks me over backwards, filling my bathing suit bottom with sand.

I right myself—and pee…trying to conceal my guilty conscience, after all, what about the toddlers splashing nearby? I look and notice a diaper drooping heavily between one little guy’s knees, full of urine and seawater. “He’s used to pee,” I tell myself, as my bladder relaxes, now relieved of its carnal burden.

Back at the umbrella I notice that the breeze has gone. Heat waves rise from the taupe landscape like a million silvery fingers snaking heavenward. The air is so humid that it’s tough to catch a good breath. I drink some cold water and curl beneath the stingy shade of our umbrella, while my daughter sunbathes and my husband contently reads.

I want to go home but I don’t want to spoil their fun.

I eye the mountain of accessories we brought with us, dreading the trek back to the car. We’ll have to stay until sundown because there’s no way I’m going to make it to the parking lot in this heat if I have to carry stuff.

Note to self:
Dear Leah, Florida is a very hot place in the summertime. Limit your beach visits to late afternoon and early morning hours when you can stroll the shoreline without fear of death.

My daughter looks over at me and says the magic words, “I’m ready any time you guys are.” I feign boredom, and calmly look to my husband, trying to conceal my wagging tail, and ask, “Are you ready to go?” He smiles and says, “yup.”

We quickly pack up our belongings (plus a kilo of sand) and hike across the beach, which is like walking through scalding oatmeal. My bathing suit bottom is full of sand; chafing and irritating me so badly that I swear I can feel the beginnings of a pearl forming.

As we motor away from the beach I laugh out loud at myself, the crisis now being past, and suggest that we stop at a drive-thru for cold drinks.

The good life has resumed. Lesson learned!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lighten Up!

Looking back on the last several weeks, I’m finding it nearly impossible to return to my routine. Perhaps five weeks was too long to be gone, although it seems to have flown by. I miss reading by the swimming pool, or sitting on Linda’s porch at the end of the day, sharing the evening meal while solving all the problems in the world.

I loved strolling through Savannah’s narrow streets with her artsy shops and spooky parks—dripping in Spanish moss and tainted history.

And then there was Hilton Head with her highfalutin beaches tousled with mermaid-hair seaweed, looking all mystical and wild—the exact opposite of what I had expected from this high-class lady.

Being back after a five-week working vacation is like being at a rock concert and mid-way through your favorite song, the place loses its power, creating a head buzzing, ear blocking silence!

Okay, maybe it’s not that bad. I think I’m just in a funk, plus Tropical Storm Debby is getting to me. She’s been lingering off of our coast for days, with her gray bloated self, blowing and boohooing all over everything—going no where because she can’t decide which path to choose, and giving us coastal dwellers a bad case of the nerves. (I know there’s a metaphor in there somewhere;)

All these clouds are putting me in a deeply reflective place. I’ve become way too serious this week and I’m trying to distract myself from it. This morning I did a four-page blog on the origin of thoughts. Four pages!! Yeah, be lucky I didn’t hit you with that one. You’d be running to the Dr. for some Prozac.

I know that I can’t help who I am. I have a tendency to go deep. Even as a kid I was reflective, opting to sit under a tree and listen to the birds, or play wordy records in my room, rather than run the neighborhood with the rest of the kids. I like being reflective and observant; it’s who I am.

I’ve never been much for the surface stuff. I don’t give a flying flip about how high your income is, or how good your children’s grades are. I’m more interested in hearing about you—the real you. And finding out what it is that you yearn for as you watch the sun quietly slip below the summer horizon, with a band of strumming crickets robbing you of your cares—leaving you alone and disarmed before all of creation. That’s the stuff I want to hear about.

So I run deep—and I’m a huge mush. And right now I’m missing the many faces that hold such special places in my heart.

My girls.

Soul sister Beth & family.

Mallory at the beach.

Laine & Mathius

Sweet Melissa

The Hammoudeh gang

I hate never having enough time to completely catch up with them. I’m certain that that’s why I’m feeling a little out of sorts. There’s just too much quiet around me, and then there’s Debby’s wallowing.

So, I guess I’m stuck with my deep-blue self, on this rainy day, although I’m not so far gone that I can’t seek some comedic relief…

Like sporting a pair of wax lips with my goofball friend!

Me & Lano

Or watching reruns of Just For Laughs.

Sometimes you just gotta lighten up!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Romantic Rumor

I grew up with a diaphanous father who floated above me like a caption bubble saying, “?”.

He was a romantic rumor, a previous chapter in my mother’s book of life, leaving behind no photos for his three little girls to frame and fawn over. There would be no frame hugging in this family. No searching his dark eyes for our own, or comparing the curve of our noses to his; no joy of discovering a trace of ourselves in his image, thus… answering our desperate curiosity. The only evidence of his existence was our existence.

My dad was an old movie reel flickering in my mind, with imaginary memories, conjured by a credulous child, intoxicated with prime time fathers, and aching for paternal adoration.

I was always comparing my invisible father to the other girls’ dads, which never worked out well for me. I suffered like an amputee with an inflamed phantom limb… finding no possible way to soothe it.

I felt that I had been gypped by life; everybody that I knew had two parents, but I only had one. I assumed that I was somehow to blame for my father’s absence, after all I was little girl number three, and in my little girl mind I thought that he was tired of daughters. I envisioned him throwing his arms up in defeat when I was born, and tromping off to find another family where he could have his very own little boy. Of course all of this was nonsense, but the actual reasons for him leaving were incredibly complicated; certainly nothing a mere child could possibly comprehend.

Father’s Day continues to be a holiday that I view from afar, like witnessing the customs of a foreign country. There is still an empty seat at the head of my childhood table, and a little girl waiting wistfully by the darkened window. She knows that he isn’t returning, but she’s found nothing else that could take his place.

Appreciate every moment that you have with your dad. Hug him, tell him you love him, and do nice things for him, for there are many children, both old and young, who have never experienced a fathers’ love and the joy and security that it offers.

For those of you who have known the void of a fatherless childhood, my message to you is this: Accept the vacancy in your heart as part of yourself; offer it honor and appreciation. You are the incredible person that you are, because of that vacuum. You have had to find your identity independent of a father’s influence. You have had to be brave and resilient during hard times, when a strong hand wasn’t there to guide you…or hold you.

Be proud of whom you are, and of the family that you have…that coalition of love that worked doubly hard in order to fill in the gap left by your father. And remember, there is only one true Father, and He is of the Spirit, and not of the flesh. He will never leave you; for He lives in you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hungry Little Gods

What we believe—we become. How powerful we humans are; made in the image of God—little creators of calm and chaos, unaware of our inheritance, believing that we have God’s eyes instead of His ways. For a small god is still a god, and all gods hold the key. Hold tight to yours lest you forget your heritage, and wander aimlessly—forever afraid of being yourself—of walking alone.

You are connected to the invisible, that wide-open place of white-hot potential, where love whispers answers to your soul—if you will but hear them—great and transforming truths about your origin and destiny.

You are vast; yet you remain small, believing the gravitational pull of death and want, stale bread and dirty water—a prisoner of the grand illusion.

You tolerate your hunger, when you carry within yourself an invitation to a royal feast, prompting you to come and eat—gain strength, equipping you for the journey ahead.

I wonder at all things. All things! And sometimes I see a power within myself that takes my breath away. Circumstances teach me, challenge and wound me, yet there it is—a greatness that remains. It speaks from the smallest of places, drawing my attention from the shadows and ghosts—inspiring me to stand up in the middle of my frailties and believe the impossible.

How great thou art my friend the worm. How great thou art.

Sometimes, I experience stunning conviction, believing that my heart’s desires are my natural course—that my destination is programmed into my soul like a migratory bird—and that the important things hold a strength of their own; they can never fail me because they are laced, like shimmering threads of truth, throughout my being.

The things that I believe, I become—it seems like so much power for such a simple soul. But when I look to nature and see her generous metaphors all around me, I am thoroughly persuaded that the seeds of greatness are sown in ordinary soil.