Tag Archives: gratitude

The Family Table Institute of Higher Learning

6 Jun


Sit down when you eat,

no matter what is happening,

out of respect for the plant,

the sun,

the rain that brought

you all here together at the table.

Civilize, purify your body,

your tongue,

your home,

by walking through this fire.

I am talking to myself,

not you, but please

listen in.

Though the ruckus at our table may make you fall out of your chair,

don’t pretend; it’s not like you haven’t heard

the word FUCK before.

Bow your head to this,

the smallest of things are given:


grain of rice,

a tear,

an apology unforeseen,

a smile.

Rough waters can calm to a gentle bath

with I’m sorry I spoke to you that way – yet

easy to miss

is the enormous turning

that has taken place within

for those words to ever be spoken.

Gather the smallest parts

of you

that you have flung away.

Sit down and eat together.

Remain through awkward silences;

wait out the shouting match;

the profanity, cruelty, fear,

see the pain beneath the anger;

hold tight, hold tongue,

and remain.

Miracles are often on the other side of hopelessness,

believe me,  only

micro moments on the other side;

you might as well be in a new

world now, one hidden and impossible

only a moment ago.

Peace is here,

if you have the courage to

sit still

when every part of you

wants to flee.



I was one of those moms who worked hard to soften her voice.  I have a driving force that longs for interactions to be lovely.  My learning has often had to come with some bold and ugly contrast to the soft and lovely shell to help bring me into the REAL.   And what is not to love about REAL.  We are hungry for truth, I think; well, I know I am.  And truth has the space to be whatever it is – it isn’t wrapping itself inside a packet for sale.  The stench of pain needs space to breath.

The life of the modern American teen is seasoned with raw and brutal information – I do see evidence of the Kali Yuga’s growing darkness since the time of my teen years and I do not often know how to help my girls navigate these waters.  Giving space for the truth of their feelings and experience often looks a bit intense and ugly, to my tender eyes, at least.  But I have enjoyed a rawness I’ve seen in film for the reflection it offers back to me.

I love family scenes in movies.

Some are able to capture the grittiness that comes from the mashup of personalities that come to gather at the family table.   I embrace that stab at truth, for our world often just reflects to us the washed up, dressed up, keep a lid on it version of reality.  We need to see the underside of interaction, for in this shadowy version, we can see souls at work on the deeper threads and themes of growth – the intense growth that people have chosen in the experiences of family.

Walking through the ugly helps us get to the otherside, but denying the ugly, turning away – only  extends and increases the shadow.   The messy yuck of feelings, denied their voice, grow into demonic howls of torture.

I say, now after all these years, give messiness the floor when need be.  I will be a mom who shows up for the graduation, dressed appropriately, as long as I am also showing up for the pie throwing (turkey in the lap) at the dinner table later.

It takes courage to live  this life, full of personalities, suffering, imperfection, failure, the word fuck flying around the room in anger!   Squeeze the illusions of conflict, confusion, identity, jealousy, every flavor of your suffering, out of your being in the vice grip of the family table.  Walk away with a diploma from this Earth School.




this girl

5 Jun

What, are you magic, Chloe?

Yes, Yes you are!

Someone around here has been dreaming big and aligning herself with making what she wants come true.

In the Spring, there were not enough funds to make her college choice happen.

A long and winding road has led us to be less prepared for this transition than I would have hoped,

but always, we are dealt the perfect hand!

We have done our best to start over – but at times – I admit – I

can allow the day to day to limit my awareness of all that is possible.

I sign into my computer with a password “allpossible” everyday at work to remind me –

but still, when the figures on paper don’t add up – I can forget.

Chloe believed it was possible, and she lined herself up with making it happen.

She also taught her mom a thing or two along the way.

This girl:

chloe sunny

liked to see me sweat;

she made the journey seem uphill,

but by plugging along, scrambling for every last cent,

she has made college a happening.

She has been awarded 7 small scholarships –

she asked family, faculty, foundations for help;  she wrote essays, filled out

mega paperwork, and now, it appears, she has danced herself into a freshman year.

I have learned in this process to TRUST.

None of this moved forward with my worry.

Nothing happened from my inability to see solutions.

The provisions were there all along, each step of the way;  she figured it out, and I am

overcome with joy, gratitude and amazement for the gifts that wait for us to open them.

Yay, Chloe, the College of Charleston, Honors College, Biology Major, can-do, trusting girl!  You teach me oodles, every day!

fern lure

28 May

The same force that makes

and takes my breath away

drives the wind that lifts bright seeds

to find

the dirt and water

for the laying down of roots.


Fibonacci fists


to unwind

at the tip of my gaze.

I hope to never miss a blossoming

of being

eye to eye with a fern,

on a downtown street,

on a hot afternoon,

next to a puddle of horse piss.


Land of contrast,

will you call to me

when I am lost

in my pumpkin coach,

in meaningless motion –

i need for you to.

I’ll slip out this trap door

built into the floor,

and slip into fresh seeing


holy banana peel

9 May



The new cast list is up and

I got the role I wanted,

the fool.

Those who know better often shake their heads at me,

but really,  if they had more facts, figures,

a made-for-tv version of my story,

they would really call me out.

I haven’t the right to walk on air!

This world might deem me dim,

but I remain oblivious –

walking off buildings,

onto steel beams,

lifted by cranes.

When the beams end,

I’m landing on clouds.

The radio plays songs

I didn’t appreciate

when I knew them when,

so I grin,

and dance in my seat on my way to detention.

What a joy to know

my mistakes bring us closer

to laughter –

and that is always the best place to meet

if there’s no longer anyone to embarrass.



This singing art is sea foam

29 Apr


There was a time when the trouble was just getting started.    I try not to do that – look back.  But some days, a little snippet of truth can come  in the time traveling illusion of this life – we meet ourselves in our past and future incarnations – through a misty fog of compassion for the usefulness of the pain and beauty in each moment.

The tender moment comes to me today of myself in 2009 in the waking of my ears for hearing.  I came to know the song of the splashing water and the detachment of each moment’s choice.  I can stew in the worry of today – or I can see the beauty in the midst of confusion and pain.

We were traveling on a sailing catamaran from Annapolis to Charleston, in a hurry to get back home before school started.  Each morning began with a 4 am alarm as we set off before daybreak to make our way on the Intracoastal Waterway.  None of this matters now – except in terms of contrast – This was a trip that did not make sense.  We were riding the last coattails of prosperity; symptoms of crazy were beginning to sprinkle every interaction with intensity, confusion, conflict. There was a story being told that was not true – a glamourous tale of adventure, of risk, of wealth – crumbling yet being glued together with sweat, desperation, fear, and lies.

We would set out each morning in confusion  of where to go in the dark, of how to read the beacons, the breakers, the gps, the charts.  We had scenes of  disagreement on how to even operate a boat, then the mass of confusion would tumble back into our berth, the children still asleep, and I would captain the boat as the sun came up.

Though tough times were ahead and confusion and fear reigned in the moment, in these mornings alone, I let it all go, as if my future self visited me and said, experience this now, even though it hurts.  The water splashing up against the side of the fiberglass made a particular sound; a thousand tiny bells were rung as each bubble touched the boat and erupted – the sun touching the water made a sound – each micro moment was a symphony of interaction – water, sun, waking.  If I had tumbled into my thoughts – I would have missed the music.

The thoughts were so seductive, thoughts of trying to diagnose manic behavior, fix the unfixable, make sense of senselessness, relive  verbal exchanges over and over.  Instead, I listened to the music.  It would be a while before I could step away – a good two years, yet I could put everything aside – live step-by-step and allow my ears to be baptized in the grace of each tiny splash, the sound of morning, the interaction that we were created for – to see hear taste the beauty, despite my little story.  Water sings in every form: steam, bubble, froth, placid, storm.  Our ears can hear it in the sink, the rain, the waves, the shower.

Water’s song, once unwrapped, never stops calling me back,  piercing the bubble of my wandering confusion, waking me with tenderness again and again.

‘Where Everything Is Music’

Don’t worry about saving these songs!

And if one of our instruments breaks,

it doesn’t matter.

We have fallen into the place

where everything is music.

The strumming and the flute notes

rise into the atmosphere,

and even if the whole world’s harp

should burn up, there will still be

hidden instruments playing.

So the candle flickers and goes out.

We have a piece of flint, and a spark.

This singing art is sea foam.

The graceful movements come from a pearl

somewhere on the ocean floor.

Poems reach up like spindrift and the edge

of driftwood along the beach, wanting!

They derive

from a slow and powerful root

that we can’t see.

Stop the words now.

Open the window in the centre of your chest,

and let the spirits fly in and out.

  ~  Rumi – Translated by Coleman Barks


a rat when he’s wet

20 Apr


yo ese


I am in love with being chosen by this cat.

Perhaps it could be any cat.

His lowness in the world fills me not with disgust

but pity and  soft opening for his escape.

What makes the breath of one man reek,

and another fill your heart with care?

Come purr on my chest when I haven’t the time;

will I grow tired of thee?  Will you come to be  a stink, a chore?

Do I know how to love; are you here to show me?

The story goes a bit like this:  convulsing fear, survival strength, ache, rage, numbness,

rote doing, and then one morning we start imagining ~ maybe.

Our mind/s broadcasting into the void, virtual machines of creation.

A snake, a turtle, a rat may have answered, but here is this homeboy, ESE.

You, little man, radiate the joy of 2nd chances.

You mirror tougher days which make me the humble seer.

Basking in the soft luxury of my bed,

I worship the roof , the lights, the water,  the pantry…

There may be hope for me yet.

“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.”  ~ Jean Cocteau

All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.”  Samuel Butler


16 Apr

I now pledge to stop driving the Car.  I am sitting in the back seat with my feet up; letting the reigns go.  This life is out of my hands.

That is not to say that I am not here; I have not checked out.

I allow myself to step away while still being here fully.

I allow myself to follow my impulses more; I stand alone a bit more, I listen more without internal dialogue, I  speak my truth more.  I quit working;   I  go outdoors without  my shoes.  I  travel.  I  dance.  I  step away from anything I do not want to do.  I  let my children just be.  I throw more things away.  I keep my face free of products more often.  I sweat. I swear.  I pursue primitive arts.  I trust that just every moment is as perfectly orchestrated as it is.  I rejoice.  I know that I am easily, naturally, perfected in my skin – my mind – my breath – my flow – and I play my part without pause, or rather full of the pause that Bukowski writes about , the area of pause…

Truth is, I often stare in to space for more time than I can account for…I am well on my way to dismissing fear –

I had a night years ago that started me on a trail;  I wrestled fear and won.  Many of you might remember the night that followed the day the stock market plunged in 2008, when liars and thieves paraded themselves around as saviors?  I went head first into fear that day, hitting refresh, refresh, refresh to watch the numbers tumble as if they were real – as if we were all falling without a net; I was a sheep led to the slaughter of my beliefs.

When I turned the lights out – out came the daemon made from  all my years of fear, clay formed from tendencies to imagine worst case scenarios, to quiver with what if’s, to retreat into caves for safety; all of that had accumulated into a mass in which my current tremblings had breathed life forming a being full of darkness who imagined it had power over me – he grabbed me by the throat and we wrestled  on that sleepless night –

Yet when the morning light seeped through the shuttered blinds – I had left some part of my habits behind for good.  I may be a bit Israel – for that horrible creature I had created and I, we went head to head, and I won, but I do still limp at times, proud, in the memory of my battle over fear.



the blessing of playing hide and seek with a common cold

14 Mar

woman and dragonI think I am so clever.

I try to outsmart every cold.

I juice. I pop pills. I drink a fuzzy tablet dissolved in water.

A cold is a minor inconvenience, and a message from my body.

Yesterday, Eden felt a cold coming on, then

I heard her up in the night,

coughing, sneezing, not sleeping – and I could feel

my own throat and chest tightening as well,

in sympathy, in unison, I don’t know.

I sent her soothing love and support from my bed.

I said okay.

First, of course, I resisted, I fought a good fight,

then I said okay. Bring it.

The body is asking for rest and care.

The to do list is extended for another day, as putting

away the dishes  from the dishwasher feels taxing.

Okay, arms, okay eye lids you may take a day – you’ve

earned it.  What is so bloody important it cannot wait?

Everything gets done in time.

When the energy is

needed – the energy comes.

And often, when I relax into the first symptoms

and love them like a long, forgotten friend,

they ease and loosen and disappear.

I didn’t love the symptoms with the purpose

in mind to make them go away,

but the side bonus of being okay either way,

with a full blown cold or a body healing,

is often you get the easier path.

The putting off of chores allowed me a nap,

and a certain cat, while I was sleeping,

curled his back up to the arch of my feet,

without me even feeling it until I awoke.

I became aware of the soft fur

breathing into my soles as I also

became aware of a symptom free body.

Cat Purr energy work!

I am suddenly energetic and well!

I love loving what is.

I give myself this gift,

and I give this gift to every one =

all of us sharing this 3d space in the world as it is now:

May you know in this moment that you are love

and that you are loved.

May you feel the flame within;

may you learn to warm yourself from its heat.

May you learn to manage the flame up and down according to the circumstance.

May you feel truly at home in your self.

May you know  how precious you are.

May you live your life truly seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting.

May you gift those around you with your presence.

hallo you sun, above the thick, grey mattress pad wrapped around each corner of the sky…

6 Mar

rainy day trees

I lived in a house made largely of windows.  A choice was made to do away with most of the curtains and blinds so that even under a canopy of  leaves, bright sunlight filled each room.  At night, the house was lit from within.

What do people call a house like this, a fishbowl?    I was on the stage in a house full of windows.  I showered more; I dressed for breakfast;  I moved through the house, making entrances and exits,  an actress playing a role.

Today, I am shrouded behind curtains, or so I think,  here on my bed, lounging on a quilt full of giraffes and monkeys with a live napping cat.    This is not a show house, but a house for the moment, full of comfort and warmth.  My dishes are functional, my blankets warm and worn.

I think we are all creatures in a zoo, in boxes of every sort, observing and being observed.  There are routines and patterns and a measuring to our days counted in such small, expansive joys;  scripts move us daily to sweep, to wipe up, to turn appliances on, to purchase food,  to wash our bodies, to answer our emails.

The keys out  are  metal and cartoonishly large – rattling around the waist of the guard.  He is stopping by your cage now, peering in the back gate, seeing what you are up to…what are you up to?  Are you  counting your food pellets,  or making your bed from the soft underbrush, or are you frozen in space staring?

I, too, am frozen at a window, but not the windows of yesterday.  I am in a window full of condensation.  I am faceless, standing still and staring out at rain.

What holds me here?  Only my one job, to parent.  It is a job so important I can hardly face it,  yet it is a job on shifting sand.

I start some doing and stop and think about doing again, but instead, I sit here, drinking tea, looking at messes.  I’m fixin’ to and startin’ to all day, turning on music, joy goes all the way down to my socked feet as the rain dots my roof  just like my thousand, shivery goose pimples.

The only way out is up;  there is no fence on the sky.  The cage is comfortable, the food is adequate – but above is open.  Swimming through miles of goosedown, I imagine the sun still there.

does love ever sleep?

12 Feb

“When love awakens in your life, in the night of your heart, it is like the dawn breaking within you. Where before there was anonymity, now there is intimacy; where before there was fear, now there is courage; where before in your life there was awkwardness, now there is a rhythm of grace and gracefulness; where before you used to be jagged, now you are elegant and in rhythm with your self. When love awakens in your life, it is like a rebirth, a new beginning.”
― John O’DonohueAnam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Love sleeps and love awakens, or love is there all the time while we sleep and awaken.  All love is the same love but sometimes love is in the form of a cat, a person, a place; love makes us grow beyond the perimeters of our skin cells into the extension of all seen and unseen, dense or light,  out beyond all ideas of this and that, as strong at its farthest edges as it is in the core.  Does it have any edges?

I am no expert on Astrology – but I like the larger scale clockiness of it.  I like the zooming out to measure time and seasons from the far out dials of the planets.  To the modern scientific mind, the whole thing is lunacy – superstition, poppycock.  But there is something in the rhythm and patterns that has always resonated at a deeper level within this girl, even when she belonged to the religion of her childhood that called this ancient pattern recognition a pseudo-science, and an evil one at that, yet I could not stop the patterns from clicking in my deeper awareness.  I could see the overlay of overt and subtle traits within everyone I knew, everyone I met.  The suns and moons of people I knew formed a pattern that I could recognize before I even studied a thing.  And there is a recurrent synch for me – probably because I put attention there, of overlapping birthdays in my life.    I could bore you with the details, but I won’t.  Just a few days ago, I discovered another of these overlaps – all they do is point for me – tell me to pay attention.

My interest in this area was my hidden vice for years as I saw it, but when Richard Tarnas was on the very “respectable” (wink wink) NPR show, Diane Rehm, I perked up.  The author of the most widely used Intro to Western Philosophy book used in colleges was on NPR talking about Astrology.  I bought his book, Cosmos and Psyche and came out of the closet.  The regular world did not catch on to this turning of the tides, so I felt a bit chagrined with my outing at times.

I inhabit another world entirely now, a world parallel yet invisible to mainstream concerns.   I am not one to share my interest or knowledge randomly in the world.  It is enough that something speaks to me.

This winding road is all just to mention – Venus went direct last week or gosh, more than that now.  From the later part of December to the end of January was a wonderful month plus for examining love, luxury, pleasure, as Venus appeared to go backwards in the sky.  A time for laying low and exploring what gives pleasure.

For a good while now, I’ve been asking, “What brings me joy down to my toes and up to my crown?”   Do I know the answer to this question?   I am in recovery from a swirling, vacant selflessness disorder.     In answering this question, I found myself creating a symbolic alter to recognize these discoveries and to relish and welcome what I would like to encounter more of in my life.  What fun I have had!

venus magic

This post will out me.  I guess I’m okay with that.

I’m having a sort of fun that takes me back to preschool – I pull up a chair to the play dough station; I get my hands dirty; I lose hours in creating without a thought of the end result.  Not art, but play.

I use my hands and scissors and rubber cement glue and and old box from the earth fare store to dream up my life anew.

Here is my alter to Venus, full of symbolic notations to my self along the way to honor the things that please me to no end.  There are rocks and feathers, symbols and mysteries, love notes and chopsticks, a peace sign and a world globe, rice and a battery, a surging heart and a sunrise, poetry and seeds, mandalas and  textured bark, a glimmering eye for humor, poetry, a screwdriver and a hammer, notes to remind me of who I am, and some silver coins.

The pretend worlds we created on the playground as children are closer to the true flow and power source of humans than the mature, mundane, mechanical march deemed adult and respectable.   If we dream it, it can come 🙂  I’m not dreaming of dead baseball players, though.  I am dreaming my own colorful version of life, moment by moment, while my now is perfect just the way it is.  I’m just left of the swings, watching the vortex above the spinning merry-go-round,  if you want to join me.

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