dream on

foggyday3I’ve been thinking about the human spirit lately, that delicate, resilient, ageless part of us that holds fast to our dreams, hopes, needs, and wants. And I’ve been wondering, can we keep the changing circumstances of our life, both good and bad, from changing that essential part of us?

“The light died in the low clouds. Falling snow drank in the dusk. Shrouded in silence, the branches wrapped me in their peace. When the boundaries were erased, once again the wonder: that *I* exist.”
~Dag Hammarskjöld

See more (nearly) Wordless Wednesday here.

christmas wonder

Those are my husband’s slippered feet, relaxing as he sits back and admires the Christmas tree. We put it up last weekend. Mrs. Scrooge (that would be moi) questioned whether we should bother, we usually have it up at the beginning of December so we can enjoy it all month long. But sick mom’s, bad backs, and other stresses slowed down the holiday fa la la-ing around here, and while I was ready to make do with the fireplace and mantle adornments alone, Doug wanted (actually seemed to need) the tree up. So up it went. While the movie, “Elf”, played in the background, we hung the ornaments one by one, remembering the significance of each as we filled the empty branches of the tree with keepsakes of our 32 years together.

There was our son’s “Baby’s 1st Christmas” satin ball, the tiny red sleigh our daughter made in 2nd grade with her school photo glued in the center, the dancing Kokopelli from a family trip to Sedona, the yellow cab from our New York City adventure, the hand crocheted bird’s nest Doug’s grandmother made us, the little wooden nutcrackers we bought when we were first married and couldn’t afford the beautiful Christopher Radco glass ornaments we have since collected. I must admit, I’m glad we put the tree up. There’s something very relaxing about the evenings now, sitting in the family room with Doug, wrapped in the sparkling glow of the Christmas tree lights.

At the end of my book, one of the characters is reflecting on his life, on the fear and the grief that has literally driven him deep into the woods. He comes to the realization that what he’s feeling is okay, that he hasn’t been indelibly damaged by loss, that “the monster he had been running from wasn’t really a monster after all. It was simply that place in the heart that holds the measure of your history, the joy and the grief, the laughter and the tears, the magic and the wonder; all the ingredients that add up to the story of a life well lived.” The holidays can be difficult. Too much running, too much spending, too much forced holiday cheer when really all we want from Santa sometimes is a little peace and quiet, or better yet, a little peace of mind. To me, a Christmas tree is kind of like that place in the heart, the ornaments we choose and those given to us are delicate echoes of the joys and the losses that make up our stories. So yes, it was worth the trouble, putting up the tree and filling it with our memories. Whether it’s for one week or four weeks or one hundred weeks, taking the time to honor the wonder and magic of Christmas, of our lives, is a worthy and lovely way to spend an afternoon. Merry Christmas Mr. Day, and to all my friends and family near and far whether or not you celebrate Christmas, my wish for you is a happy, healthy, and wonder filled 2012.

i heart dad

Last year we spent Father’s Day at my sister’s house. My mom was still here, very ill and struggling, still hoping that her battle with lung disease would have a happy ending. My son and daughter-in-law were reeling after losing their first unborn daughter to kidney disease, and my one year old niece Aryielle was just home from the hospital after becoming critically ill and having been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  A year later we are going to brunch with Andy and Meagan, the onesie in the photo is for our son who is expecting a daughter any day now. This afternoon we’ll go to my dad’s house, barbecue some chicken, and watch two year old Aryielle run around the backyard, healthy now but forever dependant on finger pricks and insulin to remain so.  It seems that time really does fly, whether you’re having fun or not. Happy Father’s Day:)

strength vs fear


When I was growing up, my mom often took on responsibility for two of her brothers who suffered from mental illness. My first trip to New York City was to visit one of those uncles on Staten Island in the hospital. I remember riding the subway in the city, taking cabs for the first time, and skimming across a blue-green New York Harbor on the Staten Island Ferry with my mother at my side. It was all a grand adventure as far as I was concerned and it never occurred to me that my mom was under any stress; wondering what kind of shape she would find her beloved big brother in, being forced to talk to strange doctors and make arrangements to get him back to Michigan. My grandmother always turned to her youngest daughter for help when the shit hit the fan because Carol was the “strong” one, the one who could get things done. I was surprised while talking with my mom in later years when she mentioned going to the doctor to get a prescription for Valium before she had to go to court to commit her other ill brother to a mental hospital. I suppose that was one of those eye opening moments when I really looked at my mother as a person, not as an all-powerful and all-knowing parent.

One of the characters in my latest book makes the following statement while talking to a friend, “…and the thing about strength is, nobody faces a potential heartache and thinks, Hey bring it on, I’m ready. It just doesn’t work like that Susie. We do what we have to do when the people we love need us and it’s damn hard sometimes. I don’t really buy into that idea some people have more strength than others.” So I’m wondering if you agree with her, are there people who are by nature stronger than others, or are some people simply more willing to act despite their fear? And do we pay a price by acting when we are afraid, or do we gain strength?

Click on the label to make your own:)

play ball

I’ve been thinking about grief and stress and how people deal with life when things go very wrong and whether you can really “choose” your reaction to the curve balls that life throws you. And life will throw you curves, that’s a given for all of us eventually and one that I sometimes think we try too hard to shield our children from, especially here in 21st century America. Everybody has “stuff”, so I wonder, why do some people’s knees buckle under the weight of all that stuff, while other people seem to accept that weight, do a few push-ups, and use it to grow stronger?

It’s not the load that breaks you down – it’s the way you carry it. ~Lou Holtz