Monday, March 31, 2014


My brain is oft of late not the cooperative generator I desire.  My on-demand idea maker muddles through many a morning with not much to offer me aside from the rote motion of making peanut and butter and jelly sandwiches and tucking them into their expected spaces in lunch box containers, driving and dropping and doing normal stuff that is all good, but not much to write about.  I’m feeling uncreative about what to wear, what to prepare for meals, what to read next, what to plan for family adventure.  I find I am not actually musing a thing come sunrise many a Monday morn.  Today, I sit at my computer with coffee in hand to write and no idea arises.  No word worth a whit winds its way worthily out into animation.  Maybe I’m looking for too grand an idea to arise.  Seems my mind is a mush, not discontent but simply without an idea. offers entries to define the noun idea from the Collins World English Dictionary.
1.  any content of the mind, especially the conscious mind
2.  the thought of something
3.  a mental representation of something
4.  the characterization of something in general terms; concept
5.  an individual’s conception of something
6.  the belief that something is the case
7.  a scheme, intention, plan, etc.
8.  a vague notion of indication
9.  significance or purpose

A friend pointed out recently that I have been saying since January that I am abundantly busy with every daily moment scheduled, but I’m bored.  Every numbered calendar square has plenty penned upon it indeed, but I am admittedly uninterested in my general thoughts of late - bored with their basic banality, their continuation of commonness, their series of same-old same-old. I know this is part of a writer’s life, part of mid-life perhaps in general is this feeling of having been doing much the same things day after day.  As a kid who began early in life receiving “talks too much” remarks on report cards I just haven’t dealt often with having nothing to say. 

I feel restless because I love the flow of inventive energy that comes with fashioning poetry or prose that flows and finds a way to say what I am thinking.  But indeed, the mental representation of something must come first for me to find the words to work onto it like papier-mâché on a shape – eventually the strips of gluey sticky stuff dry and harden and become the object itself around the unseen, untouchable  inside that once held itself up to provide a palate for construction.  Any shape, any sound, any syllable sent into the world to communicate content of the conscious mind starts as an idea.

I love words.  I like to play with them.  They are my crayons, clay and paints.  I keep plenty in my personal pockets.  I want to use them to make something.  I simply have no significance or purpose in mind at the moment.

Monday, March 17, 2014


Human offspring arrive in a state of total physical neediness.  Squishy little people emerge experts of food to feces conversion with few other skills - except looking cute which compels us to stare at newborns in complete rapture as they sleep or sit and do nothing (this is how they rope us into total devotion).  A baby arrives primarily cranium and torso with short, scrawny limbs which for months remain non-useful for ambulation.  They cannot even hold up their own heads!  Human infants require constant tending, holding, feeding, wiping, cuddling, diapering, nail clipping, and protecting.  While still continuing to hone their best skill – poo production – a baby will hopefully learn and grow under the watchful eye of dutiful adults.  How delicate is the balance of molding without mangling, fine tuning without fencing the growing baby!
The noun baby is defined at
1.  an infant or very young child
2.  a newborn or very young animal
3.  the youngest of a family, group, etc.
4.  an immature or childish person

I struggle with the balance still as I look back over thirteen years to the birth of my first baby.  Currently outnumbered by that kid and the additional two that followed, I see some moments of my mothering leaving room for individuation.  Mixed in are a few places where I’ve managed to do so much that I made myself essential in ways that are neither good for me nor the baby grown over time to be now a medium size human.  Constantly there is trying and trying again on all our parts.  I consider it a conglomerate kind of progress.  And so it goes - little growth, little steps, little learning, little and little adding up over time allowing movement away from the stage of baby toward someone more mature.

And thus it goes all our lives I aver:  pint-size progress as we expand in knowledge and experience.  I was 31 years from my own birth when I brought another person into this world.  Some days I feel having a baby has taught me to have tantrums of epic proportion myself and other days I see baby-strewn training ground for patience yielding results.  There are absolutely days born into where I don’t have the skills needed and I must acquire them as I go, sometimes feeling tired enough to cry.  Other days my once wobbly arms and legs carry out a multitude of tasks with the celebratory glory of check, check, checking things off a list.

We all arrive bodily as helpless babies.  We grow, learn and are trained by those around us.  As we age we determine what amidst all we have learned will serve us well, what makes us strong, what is true, and what ideas or habits must be discarded. Tending a baby reveals quickly how much room there is to grow even after living two or three or four (or more) decades.   

I grow and learn on my human journey developing from helplessness toward self-sufficiency.




Monday, February 24, 2014


Sleep is a healer.  Monday arrives mildly when I’ve gone to bed early on Sunday.  It is a lesson learned with great pain over the years – training somewhat like a dog’s shock collar.  The sting of stepping out of necessary sleep forces me at some point to cringe in agony and remember the protective boundaries of restedness.  Lack of sleep is often a factor when I find myself in a mental hole, the dark place where one might retreat when worn, worried, wiped out.  It is not a happy place nor is it compelling for long-term habitation.  A hole opens for many people from things like illness, heartbreak, addiction, abuse, exhaustion, confusion, stress, loneliness, delusion. I see connection between hole and a potential synonym, depression.
The noun hole is defined at
1.  an opening through something; gap
2.  a hollow place in a solid body or mass; a cavity
3.  the excavated habitation of an animal; burrow
4.  a small, dingy or shabby place
5.  a place of solitary confinement; dungeon
6.  an embarrassing position or predicament
7.  a cover or small harbor
8.  a fault or flaw
9.  a deep, still place in a stream
An important thing about the hole is to know when I am in it.  That I can get out.  I may need help.  And I most likely have fallen prey to unhelpful habits.  It’s a habit, crawling into the hollow place where we have forgotten our connection to our Source.  The bad habit of believing that we are not enough is fortified as we humans live hearing society’s mistaken stories of how things “should be” and how we have fallen short.

As life’s sticks and stones find their way to our hearts they bring weight, heaviness that drops us to our knees.  Curled up in a small, shabby mental space we might feel safer in darkness even though it hurts there in a constant, predictable way.  Maybe the hole happens because only in total darkness can I see clearly the path toward light?  As such, the hole might be a teacher.
Animals often go into a burrow or seek darkness to have babies.  Only from a grave can someone rise from the dead.  Life comes out of darkness all the time – every birth, every spring, every lighting of a candle.  The deal is not to stay in the dungeon.  We suffer there when we are hiding and it doesn’t end until we reconcile.  A little wallowing might be necessary sometimes just as a seed goes deep in the dirt to find its purpose (which is, of course, to grow toward the light).  Creeping into the hole is not necessarily a bad thing - choosing never to come out is. 
In self-watching, we learn what revitalizes us – sleep, exercise, meditation, support groups, therapy, friends, prayer, yoga.  It generally involves time and practice and patience.     
I can recognize when I find myself in a hole, accept what is, and find the desire to rise.

Monday, February 3, 2014


My daughter’s school hosts VIP day, previously Grandparents’ Day renamed to include a wider range of Very Important People.  No previous generation folk of our clan were available, so my daughter invited me.  Upon arrival I received a card she wrote.  It stated she was glad I attended and, “Now we can finally spend some time together.”  This sentence took me by surprise because, as far as I can tell, we spend A LOT of time together.  Being that she is only in 2nd grade and I have spent the last thirteen years primarily in the occupation of homemaking and child rearing I thought I was around pretty much most all the time.  I was immediately struck by the pertinence of her perspective.

Three entries from define perspective for my thoughts today.  I am not writing about art or dimensional drawing.
1.  the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc. in having a meaningful interrelationship
2.  the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship
3.  a mental view of prospect
Perspective is how things look from one’s point of seeing.  My young daughter perhaps sees that her time with me is often shared because she is the third child and we regularly travel as a pack.  I see that the majority of my time is spent with kids in general.  I see that including her in cooking and baking or grocery shopping helps us find time together and get essential tasks done.  She might see that as work, not quality time.  What the deal is with our different perspective regarding reading together at bedtime or watching a movie, just the two of us, I don’t know.
That’s really what is on my mind right now.  I don’t, can’t, will never really know her perspective because I am not her.  She is not me.  We are not each other.  People can certainly endeavor to be respectful of other’s mental view of things and to try to see our own perspective as one of the options, but we all walk in our own shoes. 
Perspective was on my mind this morning as I chaperoned a school trip to see a play about Harriet Tubman and The Underground Railroad.  Beautiful seven-year-old faces stared toward the stage, some white and some brown, some rapt and some dozy.  I chatted with a few kids on the bus ride before the show.  Two were incredulous people had ever been slaves, as if it was news to them.  That made me smile, not because I think they should be ignorant of history, but because they thought the whole idea stupid.  One girl remarked, “Those people must have been crazy because everybody should treat everybody the same nice way.”  Blue, brown, green, and in-between eyes all watched together the staged story woven of injustice and bravery.  I wondered how it looked through each set of eyes.        
I welcome differing perspective so that I learn many ways of seeing.

Monday, January 27, 2014


A narrated tour, meanderings along the river, pamphlets, and my restaurant placemat educated me Sunday in Savannah, GA.  The oldest city in Georgia was established in 1733.  James Oglethorpe (a leading London social reformer) envisioned a colony between English South Carolina and Spanish Florida as a place to resettle Britain’s poor - especially those in debtors’ prison whom he saw as tragically mistreated.  Oglethorpe’s initial Colony Charter prohibited four things:  slavery, lawyers, Catholics, and hard liquor.  The king, keen on keeping Catholic Spain away from South Carolina, thought a new colony in betwixt would be an excellent buffer.  As history of the city deposited bits into my knowledge bank curiosity grew.       
History is defined as a noun at
1.  The branch of knowledge dealing with past events.
2.  A continuous systematic narrative of past events as relating to a particular people, country, period, person, etc.
3.  The aggregate of past events.
4.  The record of past events and times, especially in connection with the human race.
5.  A past notable for its important, unusual, or interesting events.

Regrettably, I didn’t pay enough attention to history as a subject in school.  Now I find it fascinating.  I feel fervently curious about people of passed times because their stories, like ours, are the threads that weave together the tapestry of the tale.  Just as presently, there was hope and heartbreak, pride and passion, greed and good in government leaders, wealthy people increasing wealth off the backs of the impoverished and wealthy people building schools and opportunities for improvement, murder and marriage, individuals working for personal good and individuals spending their lives working for the good of many, birth and death, despair and celebration.

Pirates and paupers, natives and newcomers, slaves and spinsters, artists and artisans, indentured servants and intrepid explorers are present in the history of Savannah.  As I descended steep cobblestone paths leading from the high bluffs of Bay Street down to River Street I realized the rocks beneath me traveled across the Atlantic Ocean as ballast stones in ships craving goods from American colonies.  Stones out, cotton in - what to do with the rocks?  Pave the streets and shore up the wharf.

As my ankles worked not to turn on the uneven surface, I thought of bare feet plodding though that port against their will.  Throughout the day, I thought of the numerous people who had knelt to pray in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on Lafayette Square, of folks who heard the first draft of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream Speech at the First African Baptist Church on Franklin Square, of the people whose homes were burned in fires that wiped out half the city in 1796 and 1820, of young boy-soldiers from all sides of different wars who marched and camped in Forsythe Park, of people like me who wander along city streets planned long ago and remaining in use today.

History teaches me to see people in the past and the present.

Monday, January 20, 2014


December was a gluttonous month.  Late nights, large portions of food, egg nog, and cookies were indulgences I embraced.  As January progresses, I return to more healthy sleep and food habits and my physical body rejoices!  No one made me over-consume for the holidays.  I celebrated whole-heartedly and rather enjoyed it.  I own responsibility, but if I had been more rooted in the moderation guidance of my gut, I think I would have felt much better come New Year’s Day.       
Gut is defined as a noun, a verb, and an adjective at
As a noun gut means:
     1. the bowels or entrails
     2. courage and fortitude; nerve; determination; stamina
     3. the inner working parts of a machine or device
     4. the belly; stomach; abdomen
As an adjective, gut means:
     1. basic or essential
     2. based on instincts or emotions
Much fascinating current research is being conducted and published on the importance of the internal, intestinal milieu in our overall health.  Amazing, awesome stuff!  I suspect we knew somehow innately, even before science supported the feeling, that our gut is important.  Being out of balance physically often manifests itself there.  When we are stressed we frequently know it in our digestive system.  When we are dishonest, in love, or afraid we have physical feelings in our stomach.  Even the dictionary shows gut as physical and non-physical.
When one’s gut is malfunctioning who can think about anything else?  Inner workings will supersede all other thoughts and actions until resolved.  Maybe that’s why fasting, in various forms, is part of many religious and spiritual practices.  Restrict food and you will be drawn into your gut to listen and feel in a difficult to ignore way.  If we clear away that which binds, blinds, and blocks we make room for new choices and clearer sight.
Culturally, I think we are not trained to listen to our gut, in a physical nor an intuitive way.  Do we think about how food makes our gut feel?  Making life decisions by looking inward, asking ourselves how various options make us feel, what our instincts reveal seems not to be encouraged.  Perhaps we have lost touch with our bellies!
Let me be first to say it can be hard to love one’s belly bombarded with images of what a belly should look like on the outside – both male and female – young, six pack abs, flat abdomen, smooth and hairless.  If you have any of those attributes, fabulous!  But the soft, mid-forties, slightly poochy perching place for a bellybutton on my body is not from a magazine.  Can I love it anyway?  Yes.  Maybe.  I’m trying.  I do know the instincts residing there are essential to my happiness.  Fluffy or flat, the inner workings gut is a place to find and feel intuitively and that may indeed lead to love of the outside. 
We know Truth, but we forget or loose the way in lack of practice retracing the path.  The gut is where our fire lives. 

Monday, January 13, 2014


Do you know how many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I have made?  Me neither, but I suspect it’s a mighty magnanimous figure considering my personal lifetime consumption and the number prepared for kids the last decade.  The quantity climbs as I crafted two more just moments ago.  As I layered creamed peanuts onto bread today I noticed a developed ritual in my approach.  With a method of minimal strokes I hope to make evenly distributed peanut butter without tearing the bread.  A blob in the middle with scarcity at the edges is, in my determination, an inferior eating experience.  It dawned on me that even something as simple and routine as making this food can be a mindful experience.
Mindful is defined at as attentive, aware, or careful.
I enjoy reading texts of philosophy, health, spirituality and psychology.  The mind, body and spirit fascinate me!  So many words and wisdom arranged differently and from diverse authors come to a similar message:  when we act with intention, keeping our attention in the present, we are more content. 
I realize peanut butter to bread is hardly the stuff of spiritual quest, but it brought my mind to a specific place as I mulled my routineness.  I tend to look for a grand or more important action as one into which I sink my soul like music, meditation, fasting.  Indeed, all those are wonderful!  I do believe practice of specific actions like yoga and meditation hones our skills and makes us aware of our mindful abilities so that they can carry over into every day.  But, those of us who have not chosen an ordained or monastic life spend MOST of our time on regular tasks, daily routines, ordinary stuff.  We have the call to bring mindful to our often mundane:  the commute to work, answering of emails, eating lunch, carrying out the trash, attending meetings, shopping for groceries.
Today as I made a sandwich I tried to really see what I was doing.  I loved kids as I cut off crust.  With smooth knife strokes I thanked George Washington Carver for the boon he provided to Southern farmers with peanuts as a crop and peanut butter as a product.  Settled at the computer I searched the history of peanut butter and appreciated the Incas in South America who first grew peanuts and smashed them into tasty paste.  I learned that Carver did not patent peanut butter because he believed all food products were gifts from God.  (I suspected peanut butter was holy.)  (  
Seeing clearly is a result of being mindful.  In my admittedly conventional life I remind myself – as I wash dishes AGAIN, or pay monthly bills AGAIN, as I feel my tasks are a lesser undertaking compared to more lofty work.  Seeing clearly nourishes seeds planted in our inner sanctuary, a holy place, true and unchanging regardless of the ordained or ordinary task at hand.      

I want to be mindful, careful of my thoughts and actions.