Wednesday, December 23, 2009


"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon—instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” ~Dale Carnegie

May you all enjoy a lovely holiday. Additional posts (actually written by me) are forthcoming...

I have been sitting in a place of raw openness since my yoga boot camp experience; one which currently has very few words. I continue to practice daily, cry often both from happiness, reflection and even sadness.

I hang onto my yoga mat with two hands when necessary.

I feel lighter, more supported, and wholly in my own feet each day.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Story People

"He told me about Jesus & Arizona & the best way to make beer & I said you're a funny kind of preacher & he said it's a funny kind of world & I still remember his eyes clear as a desert morning."

or as they say at Bootcamp: "Preach all the time. Sometimes even with words."

Monday, December 14, 2009


Or rather...thank you for living with my silence.

I was away last week, working towards a 10 year goal to become a trained as a hot yoga instructor.

This has been a lingering dream of mine since my friend Leah showed up when I was pregnant with T, puking my brains out daily. She had recently returned from a Bikram yoga teacher training. I had never practiced yoga and I associated it largely with cross-legged Indian dudes. It never occurred to me to practice it, let alone that it could be something that could provide relief from my nausea. At that point, seven months into my pregnancy and still puking daily, I was willing to try anything. Leah worked my stiff, bloated frame into several poses, and amazingly, I felt better for days after.

I vowed to figure out what this was all about. Soon after T was born, I registered for a class locally. It was slow, boring, glorified stretching. Still, it felt good enough that I kept going. There was little else in town for options and so I eventually quit, choosing a higher intensity workout.

When I moved to Bellingham a few years later, my boyfriend encouraged and encouraged me to go check out the multitude of studios in town. Fear won out for several weeks until finally, after driving past this one several times, I made way up the stairs. After the very first class I was: sweaty, worked, tired, elated and full of endorphins. I was also completely hooked.

When I left Bellingham two years ago, there were many, many things I knew I'd miss, but my biggest concern was, what will I do without my yoga family? My daily classes/detox?

Given that there was no studio within two and a half hours of my home, I acquiesced, signed up for kick boxing. I found myself immediately immersed into a community that I related to, but for very different reasons. Again, I was hooked.

A year later, things changed. I am not sure what changed, exactly, but I lost my fire for the classes, racing season was fast approaching and I dedicated myself solely to saddle time. Still, something was missing. I knew it was my yoga practice, and yet, I was never dedicated enough to do it at home.

Each city I visit with a studio, I'd visit. I have driven the two and a half hours to get my yoga fix.
Finally, I came to the conclusion, that if someone was not going to bring yoga to me, I was going to have to have a part in creating it here.

When I signed up for the Baptiste Teacher Training, it was largely out of logistical necessity. I had never practiced his signature vinyasa flow prior to my arriving at Bootcamp. I showed up any way, perfectly and as I was meant to: open. Ready to practice.

The journey was transformative in nearly every way. I cannot wait to get back on my mat. I have my fire back. More photos insights, stories and anecdotes will follow, but today I dig out, and root my feet back firmly in this frozen tundra I call home.

In the meantime, this was the view from my room/hut/whatever you call it:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

35 Things. 35 Years.

35 things that 35 years taught me, in no particular order:

1. One can travel to exotic and romantic locations and one can also live in said locations, but when the revelation is made that the very best people actually live in an ugly ass grey flat plain in the middle of nowhere, one must pack up and move very close to those people so as to allow one's child to experience these people as often as humanly possible. One must still continue to travel to said exotic and romantic locations, however, or one will turn into a crazed lunatic.

2. You are the best mother/father your child will ever know. You are the worst mother/father your child will ever know. If you forget this for a second, you have forgotten everything.

3. Tears from laughter taste so much better than tears from sadness, yet they come from the same place.

4. 35 years of life, nor 15 years of knowing a person, does not make one more adept or qualified at spotting a liar. What that kind of time might make one more adept at, however, is brushing one's self off and allowing trust to creep back in.

5. We are gifted with children with multiple qualities and characteristics that are our precise opposite. This is meant to drive us batshit crazy.

6. One can learn a lot from dogs. For example, the dog who pisses on everything in sight is much like the man who does so: suspect, and up to something self serving that has absolutely nothing to do with relieving one's self of toxins.

7. There are very few problems in this world that cannot be wholly solved by one of the following means: stretching, dancing, laughing, hugging, pedaling, running.

8. You can take every healthy cell away from a child, strip his bone marrow, and put him quite literally in his death bed and he will still fight like hell to live. He will also never, not ONCE, ask the inevitable question: WHY ME? Yet if you take away a man's Sportscenter, or a woman's morning coffee, he/she will ponder this very question. They will also ponder this WHY ME? question at a flat tire, changing weather patterns, in love, in the midst of a breakup, and in approximately one million other scenarios. That kid? Not once.

9. Asking WHY ME? is generally not a helpful question to ask. Ever.

10. The man who laments to people that you hate and avoid fighting/have no idea how to fight will more than likely also be the man who teaches you how to fight.

11. When Midwest people don't know what to talk about, they will inevitably talk about the weather. 99.9998% of the time, this will involve bitching. They will get very uncomfortable and resist eye contact if at minus 20 wind chill, you talk (instead of bitching) about the lovely sun reflecting off the ice covered trees. Likewise, if a geographic study were conducted of who would show up and deed your family should something tragic occur, I would put my money on the Midwest person 99.9998% of the time. The others, they'd ask what they could do..but the Midwesterner..he'd show up.

12. Adults over complicate things in order to avoid the truth. Ask a kid the answer to a very important question you are pondering. The kid will respond with some derivative of: what is most important? or what do you want? Ironically, it rarely ever occurs to the kid, that they are the most important.

13. Most cliches are cliches because there is some element of truth to them.

14. Happiness and love are very alike in the sense that neither of them are defined by dramatic fireworks shooting out of one's ass and ears and every other orifice as many people might hope or believe. Happiness and love both creep up on you and are a mosaic of moments. They are not the OMG butterflies that almost come out your throat high you get from flying half off your seat on the descent on a roller coaster...nor the subsequent feeling of gravity bearing down on your every cell in your ass at the bottom of said huge hill. If happiness and love look to you like dramatic fireworks shooting out of one's ass, or this roller coaster are confused.

15. Some people are confused their whole life. They don't care to be un-confused and it's not your job to change them. Leave them be. Likewise, some people have crafted their entire story to be a victim and they don't plan on being an "un-victim" any time soon. Leave them be too. Actually if you find yourself in the business of changing people, your best first (and last) stop should be you.

16. When someone makes you their enemy they are usually radically too busy hating you to stop and ponder that you are very likely a lot more similar than you are different. That is why you are so hate-able.

17. Mirrors are a bitch sometimes.

18. There are approximately one bazillion categories into which we can put people (man/woman, gay/straight, loser/winner, nice/asshole, athlete/klutz). The one category that I have found the most useful, however, is this: abundant versus scarcity. Abundant people are nice to have around. Scarcity people are not so nice to have around.

19. Breathing is the most overlooked and yet imperative survival mechanism we have been given. If you want to learn something about nearly every situation you're in, check your breath. If you want to change something about nearly every situation you're in, take a breath.

20. The single best component of social media is the Facebook birthday notification system. You should wish everyone a happy birthday on their day because it’s easy and you can. You will understand what I mean when you are loving every single second of all those wishes on your birthday.

21. When looking at all the birthday wishes one receives on Facebook on your day, it is easy to morbidly ponder what a kickass party it might be if you died and they all showed up at your funeral. It is also easy to ponder how insanely jealous you’d be if you missed said party. Deciding to stick around therefore becomes a selfish act you are willing and adamant about carrying out, even if only for one of these micro parties at a time.

22. We all dance on the fringes of insanity.

23. The truth is NEVER black or white. But there ARE approximately a bazillion shades of grey.

24. 99% of human beings would rather not have a difficult conversation. 99% of said humans will also avoid having that conversation. In doing so, they will impress their will upon the situation in the hope that the difficult conversation will go away, diminish or ultimately it will need never happen. A great percentage, when pressed will even lie to avoid having said conversation. These people are called ex-boyfriends. Or soon to be ex-boyfriends. They are also 99% human, although you think they are the devil in those moments of withholding.

25. The truth eventually surfaces. Always. If your people are among the 350 million people who use Facebook, it will probably surface sooner than you desire.

26. Guilt eats people from the inside out. There is a LOT of guilt bred into people of German and Irish descent, in particular those who live around the Midwest.

27. Contrary to popular belief, you will not stop getting zits after your teenage years.

28. Home baked cookies are the best, but there are times when all you need in this entire world is a double stuffed Oreo. Or three.

29. The amount you are able to love a person is directly proportional to the amount that person loves themselves. This is also true for the lover.

30. One person might not be able to singlehandedly create an earthquake, but one person can surely rattle a fault line and create exponential movement. Some of the biggest earthquakes involve only a microscopic shift.

31. People love to hear their name second to only one other thing: being asked for help.

32. Babies make everything better. Until they shit. Or puke.

33. Happiness is not at all like a box of chocolates, it’s more like a pie. You can construct the slices of what makes happiness to be any kind of pie you want, but to think that they will always taste good in the combinations you chose is ludicrous. Likewise, to think that there will never be a piece missing is ignorant. And while it is wholly possible to have your pie and eat it too it is much tastier shared.

34. Life is tragically short and it is often the greatest, most powerful lights that are extinguished first.

35. The world would be forever changed if every choice we made for only one day came from love instead of fear.

Here's hoping I am gifted an additional 35 healthy, happy years.

AND FINALLY....35.1.because i can....

35.1 In all circumstances, strive for 100% presence.
It's harder than you think.
It changes everything.


*pretty trees, huh? they are in my yard. and yes, this photo is totally irrelevant because all relevant photos had to be burned to protect the guilty. press on. keep reading. and no, that is not a pile of fresh dog shit you see in my lawn. i promise. with all my fingers crossed.

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon my 35th year on earth.

I'll admit it, 35 years kind of snuck up on me; not unlike the lady in Target Sunday who ran over my foot with her motorized scooter.

As for the celebration that welcomed my 35 years, and Keri's 31 years respectively, it was actually fairly epic, as far as birthday celebrations go.

The party included a bus ride, to relive my middle school days, when, well...I rode a bus. It included a little live music, or 'twang, as the one of two bands says about themselves.

It included a bunch of my favorite people in this entire world, who just so happen to live within a stone's throw of me. And it of course, included some grey goose, (or geese?) which of course, is not to be confused with the goose that flies, or shits, but is another kind of goose entirely, that I suppose arguably does shit, just in an entirely different way.

It included dancing. A LOT of dancing.

It included acrobats. And back flips. And pole dancers. Black lights and green-ish tinted teeth, a guy who claimed he brought his woman straight to the bus from Trinoble, and one of the world's greatest bad mitten players. Okay, I made the bad mitten part up, it just sounded good. All told, bad mitten players or not, it was a darned good time.

It also included my kid, picking out for me a gift all on his own that makes me giggle a little every time I use them: dishes. Because as T said: well, you needed them because...we always run out. Or more specifically as T later clarified: BOWLS, I got you bowls because that is all I really use and there are never any left!

There was also dinner with the family that was darned good and even more caloric and Midwest portion plentiful and it also involved a Giggling Goat. In case you didn't get the memo, I have a little thing for goats.

And perhaps most importantly there was included in my 35th celebration a very, very long nap the day following the aforementioned bus adventure in which I held my head in agony and muttered, "Dorothy, we're not in Kansas any more."

Fact is, we never were in Kansas to begin with, but at that particular moment, I had much bigger troubles than geographic relevance.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Just a friendly reminder that Cranksgiving is THIS weekend.

Last year it snowed sideways. I still managed to meet a bunch of amazing people, laugh myself silly, kick Keely's arse in the bestest sunglasses competition AND show up at Mars Cafe with a tall boy in my rack, a smile on my face, and food falling out of my messenger bag all over the road.

As always, there will be some great schwag giveaways from Chrome, Yankee Doodle Tattoo and there are free t-shirts for (most) all participants. Oh yeah, and a bike.

Even if you don't want to ride, stop by, have a beer, say hello.

Annnnd....if you have something you'd like to me.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Baby Kills Big Bird

My brother and brother-in-law took T and his (boy) cousins hunting yesterday.

From what I understand, it took my kid approximately 2.5 seconds to fall into a creek. Okay, that might be stretching it a bit, but he did, at some point, fall into a creek. He also watched my brother 'murder' a bird that didn't quite die the first time, and "got a little blood on my hands but it didn't quite matter because I already had a lot of dirt on them, momma."

He loved every minute of the man time, watching the dogs work, and I think, is finally ready to acquiesce; add some proper Carharts and hiking boots to his wardrobe. His swanky Nike Airs are a special shade of brown, smell of manure, and the sweatpants and hoodie he wore are largely retired. For hunting purposes at least.

My favorite of the 57 stories I've heard thus far is about how he "held the heart of a pheasant right in the palm of my hand." T described in intricate detail the size, chambers, and such. I was impressed with my brother that he took the time to give a biology lesson during the gutting process.

T also told me about the pheasant's balls, which could have been easily confused with his liver, but they couldn't be sure which part was which. They're teeny tiny little bird balls, he said.

Apparently they are also very difficult to differentiate from a liver.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day Prayer

I spend disproportionate amount of my time thinking about war.

I've researched my grandfathers' service and the wars they took part in. I read my Grandpa's log from the Navy. I lived in Germany, walked through Hitler's hideaways, visited concentration camps. I wept at the bags of hair, fillings, shoes and glasses at Dachau and the stench of death at Auchwitz/Birkenau.

In the wake of 9.11 I spent endless days reading everything I could get my hands on to understand the conflicts that plagued the areas in those places where we went to war. As they waged on, and the articles became books, I read those too.

It occurs to me daily, that my son does not recall a single minute of his life when our country was not at war. I know that somehow, this affects his reality, or more appropriately is his reality, but longer term, I wonder how it will play out in his world view. Because his daily existence is largely safe and protected, will he grow up crass and with a disproportionate view of what this word, war, means?


And now, as my son reaches that pivotal age where he will begin to formulate a plan for his future, eventually make his own choices about how that will play out, I ponder what I'd do, as his mother if he chose to serve our country, fight our war.

For now, I know my first cousins choosing so is quite enough.

One: off to basic training and back to school.
Another: off to basic training and now in Korea.
Both: futures uncertain.

I watch their updates and pictures flash across Facebook and to me, they are still babies: the kids I chased around my Grandparents' farm, tied up with their own socks, tickled until they peed and threw effortlessly over my shoulder in a game of hide and seek.

They still are, in a lot of ways those babies, and yet they are among the thousands we send out in masses with this message of supporting and fighting to protect our freedoms: speech, movement, trade, our every means of existence really.

My cousins are in a lot of ways, much like my son; ignorant to how bad things could be, ignorant also to how lucky we as Americans are, and yet, they signed up to serve our country for reasons each their own: to live out a family legacy, to find a path, an assured future. It is admirable and admittedly for me, difficult to wrap my mind around, at times.

15 years ago when I was close to their ages, I chose to spend the better part of two years traveling Europe with reckless abandon, and later much of the United States, mostly alone and yet wholly ignorant to the idea that something quite awful could go very, very wrong at any given moment. Yet despite my hindsight view of multiple moments where things could have gone very, very wrong, they never did.

I always attributed that orb of safety that seemed to surround me to my great judgement at the time but years later I know that to be far from truth. In all my innocent, naive thought processes: it never even occurred to me that something could go wrong and likely therefore it never did.

My prayer for my cousins, and every one who serves on this Veteran's Day is this:

That they do not lose all of their sweet innocence as they leave boys, and come back largely men.

That their experiences enlighten them, such that they may enlighten others, about the wisdom that comes from living outside the United States.

That they can pass along their learning first hand just how blessed and lucky we surely are, as Americans.

And most importantly I pray this:

That against all odds they can maintain a piece of that blissful ignorance, the frame of mind that nothing could possibly go nothing will in fact go wrong.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gratitude and Explanation

This blog was supposed to be all about biking. I started it to keep my proverbial pen moving in the face of a job change that no longer required much writing. Its purpose was two-pronged: a way to keep track of my two wheeled adventures, training, and workouts while educating me on a new (to me) social tool.

Originally, the blog was locked down and only I had access. That lasted a few months, until I realized that another alisondoyle dominated the search engines and there was really no reason for the thing to "hide."

Then, for a long time (in the online sense), the blog had open access. I still did nothing to optimize the writing, used few if any labels and wrote about whatever struck me. I also purposely never hooked up any analytics, so as to gift myself this daily idea that I should and could write whatever I felt.

I recognize that some of my readers could care less about riding bikes, others could care less about my reading lists, others could care less about my kid and still others, would rather jump off a very high cliff than read about my floundering love life, or my trials as a single mother.

And yet, bless each and every one of you that have, you've kept coming back here.

Thank you from the bottom of my ten times larger than my head heart.

I live and intimately understand messaging strategy, optimization strategies, and target audiences and yet, I do not want to fall to some preconceived notion that I somehow "need" or "owe it to my community" to write about a specific topic of relevance to one group. Admittedly, this is also a front for my saying that for a very long time, my scattered posts, relevance and lack of optimization was me hiding, vulnerable and afraid.

I was also too scared to find out who was (or wasn't reading) this thing.

Eventually, I recognized that my imagination is typically far worse than any reality, so very recently with the help of a friend, I started monitoring the blog's traffic. It was a HUGE step for me and it has been humbling beyond measure.

It is for that reason that I feel compelled to share with you that it is of up most importance to me to keep writing, at any cost, and I am determined to not allow outside influences drive what spills from my heart onto my keyboard.

That said, I cannot tell you enough, those of you who do come out from lurk-dom from time to time to email, comment, even call...what it means to me. Each and every one of them; they are better than a thousand dark chocolate peanut butter cups and more powerful than my dog's farts.

So, as this thing continues, I can promise you loosely this: when I am feeling raw and vacant I might review books. When my kid says something funny, I will use space as a means for recording that. When an asshole motorist tries to run me off the road, I will verbally lash out against him. And when my heart breaks as it surely will again, this space will become a cleansing agent more powerful than my Swiffer and Clorox Handi Wipes combined.

Here's the shocking part: during all this obsessing and scattered writing people actually began reading the thing. I'd mention to a friend that I'd written about a topic on my blog. My sister convinced me I should perhaps list the thing on my Facebook page. Eventually, I also listed it on my Twitter. My courage grew and thus, my audience grew.

One heartfelt email from you turned into another and then another, each with their own story; some inspired, some sharing their own adventures, demons. Others thanked me for helping them with a new (to them) author, and some simply mentioned that they hoped I'd keep writing. In each an every one of these letters, comments, I found myself lamenting at the courage of the person who stuck themselves out on a line to say whatever they've said, whatever they'd shared.

And so, taking from your lead(s), I resolved to do better at commenting on other peoples' blogs. More emails, comments followed.

I was overjoyed. I was also scared shitless. I am still overjoyed. I am STILL scared shitless.

Initially, "What if's" suddenly became a part of my daily existence: What if my kid's dad read the thing? What if he used it to make me look bad? What if my parents read? What if I pissed someone off? What if my ex- boyfriend read? What if I didn't give someone enough space and another person too much? What if I was perceived differently than I see myself because of the topics I choose on any given day?

Each of these things have become reality.

And yet, sometimes, while I have been silenced for weeks at a time, and I am ever careful about my filter, I continue to find solace here.

This is merely a slice of me, and yet it it is wholly my space, my lamentations, my observations.

Yes, I am careful. There is much that I would love to write about here, in particular about my son, about being a single mom to him for ten plus years, about my journey from there to here, but I feel at this time, for various reasons, that I cannot. I am aware that my writing is slanted because of that, and contains a selfish bend. While this is something I presume could be judged, I hope that people know that it is from necessity, not narcissism.

In the past couple weeks two fellow single mom bloggers who I have follow religiously have been ambushed by members of their own family for the reasons I mention above. In both cases they share about their dating, children, and ex- struggles in a far more open dialog than I do here. I have watched their comments over time as they are cheered, and then as they are chastised by men, women, for their choices, what they share.

Through them, and also through my own readers, I have gained perspective and a great deal of respect for the power of this space. I have also learned that with sharing comes responsibility, vulnerability and a sense for others that they can more readily attack.

I vow, with these other mothers to not succumb to this fear, and keep writing. I also vow to keep sharing, laughing, lamenting, and loving; to remain respectful to those people who touch my family, because the world is small and flat and time is liquid. To never, knowingly, write from a place of fear.

My challenge to each of you who pop on to this site to read, zone out, or whatever you do here, is to please, please continue to pass along the sweet goodness that your comments and positive support brings: on my blog, others blogs, twitter and anywhere you see fit.

The more we ALL are encouraged to share what lies in the cobbled spaces of our hearts, our silly minds, the better off we ALL will be.

They say it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, but I can assure you, each and every one of you who have spoken bravely, quietly, and positively as a result of this space: you have touched me in a way for which there simply are no words.

It is only because by your sweet words that I am encouraged to further share mine.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Year Ago A Year Later

I dressed T up as some kind of football player (or was it the year of the ninja?) and we celebrated Halloween with my sister, her kids, our friend D visiting from Seattle.

I spent the better part of the month writing depositions, compiling evidence.

I went to court with the kid's dad the last time. I mean, it's probably not the last time, but it was, nonetheless, the last time he took me there.

I watched my dear friends made the difficult decision to take bone marrow from one son to save the other.

I was fresh off learning (again) that trust is elusive and slippery and love bites. That sometimes telling the truth is more difficult than avoidance.

I realized once and for all, that we are all, in fact, mortal.

I signed up to be a part of a cycling team.

I gathered up my closest friends and hunkered down, as if to protect myself from further disappointment.

I sat on Scooter's counter and drank his wine.
I sat on Scooter's counter and laughed.

I sat on Keri's couch and drank her wine.
I sat on Keri's couch and laughed.

I rode my bike more than ever before; in the living room, the basement, my bedroom, the gym, outside.

I pedaled until my mind stopped completely.
I found it usually took more than 25 miles.

I convinced myself every single day before bed that I would not die of a heart attack, even though deep in my guts I thought I would die of a heart attack.

I learned that those are called anxiety attacks, not heart attacks.

I kicked the bag at kickboxing so hard a 300 pound man peered around the bag and told me he was scared, wondered if I had an anger problem.

I probably had an anger problem.

I worked.

I slept.
I napped.
I slept.
I napped.

I drove my kid to and fro, although, little did I know, that to and fro had nothing on THIS to and fro.

A year.
Reluctant. Triumphant. Awful. Tragic. Hopeful. Endings. Beginnings. Life.

A Year Later:
I am less broken, more aware, and yet scarred.

I continually marvel at the freedom forgiveness brings.

I vow to never, ever forget the crazy tenacity of a child fighting for his life, his never asking once, why?

I ponder my friendship with his parents, wonder if they know I am a better, more equipped, grateful human for their journey.

I am aghast to look back at all that history and hurt and confusion I waded through in that month and marvel that love and hope did and will eventually creep back through the slats of a broken, cobbled together heart.

I am grateful my heart stopped beating like that, for the most part.

I am back to riding and loving my bike.

I have no idea what the kid's costume will be...again.

I face another year, it hiding under some mask.
Last year's costume is forever handed down, suddenly too small, exposed... we move on, with slight trepidation at what's behind this year's mask.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just Breathe

By Pearl Jam:

Yes I understand
That every life must end
As we sit alone
I know someday we must go

Oh I'm a lucky man
To count on both hands
The ones I love
Some folks just have one
Yeah others they got none

Stay with me
Let's just breathe

Practiced on our sins
Never gonna let me win
Under everything
Just another human being

I don't want to hurt
There's so much in this world
to make me believe

Stay with me
All I see

Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
What if I did and I'm a fool you see
No one knows this more than me
'cause I come clean

I wonder everyday
As I look upon your face
Everything you gave
And nothing you would take
Nothing you would take
Everything you gave

Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
What if I did and I'm a fool you see
No one knows this more than me
I come clean

Nothing you would take
Everything you gave
Hold me till I die
Meet you on the other side

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bike Related Mayhem

Race Across the Sky

Great flick, worth the cash money, and gearing up for an encore performance November 12.

You should check ***him*** out (well worth the admission price to drool over this fine specimen of a man):

***Day of the Dead: Nine Circles of Hellingham

My Bellingham people, doing another alley cat. Those of you in that vicinity (or with a bit of traveling on the brain) check it out:

Homey Fall Fest:

Annnd, last but not least, a Minny 'Cat some of my Evil cronies covet. Check it:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

T Says...

Football ended Tuesday with an eating frenzy at one of the town's best places of gluttony: a buffet. The coaches were emotional and yet, I think relieved to see them go. Undefeated in regular play and a heartbreaking loss in the playoffs, half the team too sick with H1N1 to play.

Basketball started Wednesday, which is, of course, a whole other story. But after the party Tuesday night, we realized the kid probably needed basketball shoes for the basketball try out, which was the following day.

No rest for the weary around these parts.

We find the shoes, run into a couple of T's friends doing the same thing while we are there, which always makes me feel good: even the married people wait until the last minute and flounder from time to time!

As we are leaving I notice that there is a sale of work type clothes in one of the little visited department stores. Much to T's chagrin, we stop to look. Given that my current pair of work pants is splattered with spaghetti sauce, little lint balls on the butt, and is nearly two inches too short, we stop and I find a couple inexpensive pairs, hold one up for further investigation.

T says: And exactly who are THOSE pants for, momma, Shaq?

We left then, went home to watch the Biggest Loser.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Letting In

Complaining about anything, holds you in the place of refusing to receive the things you've been asking for.

Justifying about anything holds you in the place of refusing to let in the very things that you've been asking for.

Blaming someone, holds you in the place of refusing to let in the things that you've been asking for.

Feeling guilty, feeling angry, it doesn't matter what you call it, it is a refusal, not a conscious one.

You're asking; you can't help but ask.

The Universe is yielding; it must yield.

It's a big question, folks: why aren't you letting it in?


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Broken but Better

Tyler and I returned to our car from dinner with friends the other night to find this.

We left our dogs in their little space in the back of our station wagon, as we have hundreds of times. Except for whatever reason, this time, they decided they needed out. They tore to shreds the seats until they were both able to squeeze under the grate, and when we came outside there was one dog sitting there, in each of the front seats.

T and I laughed our butts off at the two of them sitting there, like virtual driver and passenger, driving down the road together; until it registered to both of us simultaneously that somehow they'd escaped and likely it wasn't going to be pretty.

As these sorts of messes go, it wasn't pretty.

In addition to the damage pictured above, one dog chewed through the passenger seat belt, and little toe marks now adorn the upholstery on the front seats, console, and near the windows.

T stood by my side, laughter suddenly curtailed and mouth hanging open, and then quickly tried to rally the dogs back in his command as they jumped from the car and scattered in opposite directions to hide.

This was one in a string of unexpected mishaps of the past few weeks, this one, with noticeable outside damage, the others, seemingly, matters of the heart for both T and me: trust, learning, anxiety, forgiveness, friendship, anger, moving on.

I have been vocal about each of them, in different ways, and I have also taken a lot of time to sit alone to reflect and actually feel each moment, no matter how uncomfortable, for what it is.

I've learned: we shy from sharing our vulnerable moments and yet this is when reaching out is the right thing to do. By virtue of our sharing we simultaneously allow others' lights to shine in ways we likely never dreamed possible.

The last couple weeks, the smarty pants comments, the laugh elicited at my expense, the not so helpful suggestions, they all became a part of my healing, my moving on, my fabric.

Following the posting of this picture to my Facebook page, admittedly a minuscule, teeny, tiny, minor bump in life's road in the scheme of things, I collected 27 comments, countless emails and lots and lots of text messages, each of them different in their nature, all volunteering to help in some way. Each one floored me, grounded me, brought me to my knees in wonder at my blessings, and a token couple made me laugh so hard I cried.

In the past, during my moments of need I never stopped to peel back and look beneath the ripped carpet in the back seat; the broken pieces of my heart, the crack fissuring just beneath my son's sweet surface, whatever the challenge, and take serious inventory of who showed up.

I also allowed very, very few people to see me weak, vulnerable.

No more.

Because of this swallowing of my proverbial pride, in a pinch or a hurdle or even a major obstacle, I know who will show up.

I have been surprised. In some instances, admittedly, I have been disappointed.

And yet, I can assuredly say, I am blessed beyond measure.

These silly mishaps, life altering challenges, senseless heartaches...plague each and every one of us every single day. It is our reaction to them and our ability to walk through them with the best people, the right people by our sides, that defines us.

If only we allow them to.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Despite shoveling down my throat with absolutely no abandon approximately 57 oreos, drinking too much shitty wine, not enough good wine, exercising exactly zero times, a crying fit over a mountainous zit, a corkscrew curly grey hair sprouting out of the middle of my scalp, and my heart generally feeling like it somehow shattered alternated with the overwhelming feeling that a very overweight man was standing on it, I've managed to dream about flying exactly twice in the past four days.

That is not flying, like on a plane to somewhere cool like Hawaii. This was ME FLYING. In my dreams, like a damned bird!

I have had flying dreams periodically since I was a kid. The younger flight dreams were recurring: standing at the landing and taking flight down my parents' stairs; then flying around their house. I recall flying once, and my mother reporting the next day that she'd found me in the middle of the night sitting at the kitchen table staring into the bread cupboard, sound asleep.

How I didn't fall down the stairs and crack open my head open was a wonder, I remember her saying. It was no mystery to me: I flew.

Later, the nature of these dreams changed and I managed to leave my parents' house and fly outside. There were no specific places, just me floating around; through, above and beneath clouds. Sadly, with age these dreams dissipated, and in the past several years, they have been next to nonexistent.

Needless to say, two in one week? Heaven in my dreams.

As if I needed the souped-up-double-bonus-flight-dream-for-extra-points, something new happened this time: people. In the past, there have never been other people. Now, suddenly, there are people.

The best, most vivid of the two flight dreams involved a detailed "flying skills session." I had a student, who shall remain nameless because, well, I could not describe to you his face, although we were comfortable interacting; in my dream I knew he was not a stranger.

What I CAN remember, is how helpless I felt racking my brain as I tried to pull vocabulary to explain the feelings and therefore movements that one must undertake before and during flight. It was frustratingly apparent that I was trying to "teach" this man something for which there were no words. There was no human experience to match/compare this with, and therefore, I was at a complete loss as to what I might tell him to DO to emulate my experience, so he could fly himself.

I was convinced that his experience would be every bit as amazingly awesome as mine and therefore he must. also. jump. and take flight with me because not only would it be so life altering for him, it would also give me someone with which to share my most incredible adventure.

So there I stood, on the edge of this great expanse of open space, high on top of this cliff, giving these utterly unsuccessful, cobbled together "lessons" which were a mix of charades and foreign language; a helluva a frustrating failure.

I can sit here now, two days later and recall with acute precision the feeling in the pit of my guts of how agonizingly much I wanted this person to share this experience with me. And yet, he stood on the edge of a tan rocky cliff and stared at me; sad, confused, with a fearful look in his eyes. Repeatedly, I'd take off and leave him standing there, toes curled around the edge of that rock, totally awestruck and yet too scared to leap.

I remember with stunning detail: take off, ascending, floating and descending and then ascending again. I would return to that cliff again and again and again, hoping that after nine, 10, 11 times, he might find the magic formula and pull from my words and then subsequent actions, something that would assist him in taking the leap.

He stood: speechless, mortified, wide eyed and yet still. Finally, after doing all I felt I could, I took off a final time, and told him I hoped he'd catch me.

I consciously never looked back in fear of disappointment at his still standing there, and eventually I somehow knew, he never moved and he still stood on the edge of that cliff; alone and scared to death.

I woke up in the midst of my flight: in a near state of euphoria, alive in a way for which I have no words, but yet with a very real undercurrent of sadness slipping in as I imagined him there.

I also acknowledged to myself somewhere in the space between dream, sleep and conscious morning life, that I had absolutely no idea that upon all my teaching and prodding if he did jump; if he too would have been able to fly.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


A mutual friend drew us there together; same place, same time, his home. Yet when we left the next day, he too, was my friend, and by virtue of how he and his wife lived and had constructed their lives together; I was now therefore also, an extension of their family. No questions asked.

I sat next to him by chance, the warmth of the fire kissing our faces, a crisp fall Minnesota evening. He was worldly, intense, yet gentle, with dancing, piercing eyes and a smile that could light up an entire town. He thought about things before he spoke, asked lots of questions, and when he asked them, sometimes in rapid fire succession, I somehow knew, he genuinely wanted to know my answers.

Once he made sure we were all comfortable in our chairs that night, wine glasses full, fire properly stoked, he picked up his guitar, never missing a moment of conversation, and started quietly tuning, strumming.

It was as though the music made a quiet and yet totally natural entrance, like night creeping in. Eventually we all fell silent, the notes from his guitar falling one into another, the songs slow, contemplative and then crescendoing into something worthy of dance.

He later covered a Willy Porter tune, Watercolor, I quietly sang along, lost in thought, staring off into the trees. He stopped playing after; turned, asked quietly how I knew of him. We talked then, hours, between songs. We shared stories, more wine.

He wanted to know every detail about my son. He wanted one, wanted to know how I did it. Alone. They were the questions that people so often stumbled over, too uncomfortable to ask.

Without hesitation, I willingly shared with him my heart's cobbled together pieces.

He glanced at his wife across the fire as we talked; she laughed, told stories in her own world and yet totally inside his, sipping her wine, glancing up to catch his eyes there, holding them, grinning and then glancing back away.

He could never do that, he told me.
Raise a child alone.

He told me how he lost his parents, both of them, an accident. He said it explained a lot about how he lived like he did, each moment as though it could be his last, that knowledge permanently tattooed there on his broken heart.

I try to make the most of it, every single moment I'm given, in the best way I know how, he told me. And he raised his hands, motioned around, as if to recognize it all, that place, those people, for what it was.

His loss.
Our gain.
These moments.
Each of them, precious.

We'd all stay there, at their home; it was easier, safer. It would be that way from each visit there on. We were their family now too.

John and Ann, Ann and John.

They were fiercely individual and yet so very much a unit: Her: working like a dog. Him: playing like a fiend. Both crazed by their individual passions, pasts and yet insanely an inexplicably drawn to one another in an undertow of love that shone on their faces the instant you met them.

They were the couple you caught making out in the kitchen when one went inside to grab snacks to go with the wine. The two you bust locking eyes across the room hundreds of times each night, holding them there, looking away, and then returning to their respective conversation.

They were fiercely individual, and yet they defined union.

They were quick to tell you that they, together, were not perfect nor were they without their faults, but that yes, they were still perfect for each other, full of gratitude, unconditional love.

They lived together with a grace for which I'll never quite have words; sharing however they could, never taking a moment, an instant for granted. I'd see pictures of them together, get the chills. Never, I'd tell my friends, has a man looked at me like that.

And yet because of them, I secretly believed we all should continue hunting for that kind of love until old age if need be.

Except now John is gone.

Taken tragically from every one of us in a senseless accident one month ago; leaving Ann, his three sons, everyone who loved him to navigate this world, each moment, life... without him.

Their light. Their love. Their fun. Their husband. Their daddy.

It was almost as though someone that insanely good, that kind, that fun, couldn't sing and dance among us forever, and seems impossible that the party, life could possibly go on for any of us in quite the same way without him.

It won't.

He taught every single person blessed enough to know him how to live.
And now we all stand around wondering what to do now that he's died.

Monday, October 5, 2009


My child and I have a small Biggest Loser addiction. Simply put, we are suckers for a good cry, and I can recall exactly TWO episodes in the bajillion we have watched where neither one of us erupted in a case of the sniffles. Aside from the cheesy product placement, the stupid cliff hangers during weigh ins that always, as T says, have the exact opposite answer that the expressions lead you to believe, we are still suckers.

Last week's episode again, left us both in a heap of tears.

Except this time it was different. The show's contestants this season are all marred by some type of tragedy. The one that stands out the most, I'd say, is one of the show's more optimistic participants, who three years ago lost her husband and two young children in a car accident.

That said, for once, it was not the stories and the struggle to shed all that goes with a packed on pound that got us, but the message.

During one of the challenges the contestants sat around as they were tempted by a plate of something fatty: cupcakes, if I recall (actually I swear it's donuts and T swears it's cupcakes...he's probably right, so we are going with cupcakes). There would be a consequence for the person who wait for it....MADE THE CHOICE to eat the cupcake first, however, the participants did not know what that consequence would be. Near starved from the show's diet, and not wanting to sit there all night, one woman grabs a cupcake and shovels it down. Her logic, in that moment being'll be easier this way.

And, as it turns out, the woman who eats the cupcake in turn, as her own chosen fate for taking the bite essentially becomes the person charged with thus sealing the fate of those people who would be eliminated from the competition altogether.

By taking that one bite, she was then forced to choose for each team which person would weigh in, or which person would bear the team's burden in the weigh in, among other things.

In the meantime as they prepped for the weigh in, during/before/after each workout, the lobbying and conferencing about what to do/who to select for the weigh in from each team ensued. The culprit/woman of sealed fate asked each team what they wanted, and then, in the end, turned around and most often, did the exact opposite.

Again, a choice.

She could not and did not see her part in the heartache and the trust broken with her house mates, nor did she have foresight into what might happen in ensuing weeks should she deceive nearly every other person in the house; rather she saw it as a guarantee of her safety, her continuing to play the game.

We see her curt responses to her house mates' disdain, and by one, each of the contestants affected by her choice as they wither/fall apart. We are reminded by all of them often and with great Hollywood's from this choice she made, to take ONE bite, and then the subsequent choices to choose who jumped on the scale, and the subsequent affect it had on each person down the chain.

It was heartbreaking. Tears were shed. And these people, raw, exposed from days and hours in the gym were taped vulnerable, pissed and deceived in their worst moments.

And all I could think sitting there, tears streaming down my face, is that this is so often how these things go, despite the horrific cupcake metaphor. People are, I believe in my core, for the most part, inherently good.

And yet, they make choices that absolutely suck sometimes, and I would like to believe, when they make these choices they have little to no foresight into the subsequent round of choices, and choices, each with a larger, more widespread impact. Likewise, with the case of the gobbling cupcake, we still must be held accountable.

Or at least we should be.

It was a wonderful, defining moment to share with my son, nonetheless. We talk constantly about choices, and I have often used the metaphor of throwing a rock into a pond of water, the circles that reverberate out from the rock as it enters the water as that first choice, then the subsequent choices. And then, how the events connected to it and subsequent choices go outward and last far longer than the initial plop that rock makes in the water. And yet, T's never fully understood it, by his own omission, until he saw that episode.

It is unfortunate and breaks my heart that the lesson T learned twice last week was from negative choices or illustrations of this, versus positive, happy ones. That said, it is nonetheless priceless to teach a little man of my own responsibility that a choice: an action, no matter how benign and no matter how harmless or insignificant it may seem on the surface; it has the ability to cause others inexplicable pain. It also has the ability to cause inexplicable joy.

I asked T to think about what he'd choose. He turned it around and asked me to do the same.

And then we talked about the latter, bigger portion of all this which is this: he, I, all of us will, in our lives make some awful, shitty, choices that affect many more people in ways that we likely never originally intended.

I told my kid, that my job is ensuring that when he inevitably makes that shitty choice; to demand that he not follow it up with more shitty choices, but rather, learn to take ownership, apologize and make amends, fall on his sword.

It will be a lifelong lesson, I suspect.

It should be for us all.

Omission and Aftershock

Thanks to all of you faithful people for leaving me notes, prods for additional information and also virtual hugs. It's amazing how they all have appeared when I've most needed them. My apologies for being vague of late. The past week was a challenge. Eventually when I am able to speak from less of a raw vantage point, the posts will come.

In the meantime, I hope I never lose the link to this site so am going to paste it here, along with and excerpt that helped me feel a lot less crazy this past week.

I had the unfortunate experience of losing one of my most coveted and beloved a huge lie of omission. In short, I gave of myself, my time, my love, over the course of a dozen years, only to find out that I only knew half the story. Half his story, maybe less.

Here's the thing: if you are my friend, and I don't trust you...we have nothing. All I hold close know this. I covet honesty first and foremost above all else.

To say that the choice/the lies of omission have been painful and rocked my perception of what is real and what is not would be a mild understatement. It is my hope that one day this person will find the ability to look at the choices he made with complete honesty and willingly accept the pain he caused by them. I also equally hope that with that comes an ability to create for himself so much better; to stop continuing down the same broken path. If not for his own sake, for his kids'.

For now, I concentrate on what this experience taught me. Most if it, sadly, is at this moment, far from positive. It will be a very, very long time before I trust in this way again, perhaps ever. I remain... however broken, happy to again have found sleep, to have put the initial aftershocks behind me, and to have found myself wrapped in love, understanding, and support by some amazing friends, both near and far.

I continue on my own path with a clear conscious, nothing hidden, nor nothing to hide. I will never take for granted those people who value the same. Nor should you.

From here:

A lie of omission is to remain silent when ethical behavior calls for one to speak up. A lie of omission is a method of deception and duplicity that uses the technique of simply remaining silent when speaking the truth would significantly alter the other person's capacity to make an informed decision.

To lie by omission is to remain silent and thereby withhold from someone else a vital piece (or pieces) of information. The silence is deceptive in that it gives a false impression to the person from whom the information was withheld. It subverts the truth; it is a way to manipulate someone into altering their behavior to suit the desire of the person who intentionally withheld the vital information; and, most importantly, it's a gross violation of another person's right of self-determination.

A lie of omission is the most insidious, most pervasive, and most common lie on the entire planet. Commonly, those who use this type of lie, have conned themselves into believing that to intentionally remain silent when ethical behavior calls for one to speak up is not a lie at all. In spite of overwhelming evidence that their silence deceives, misleads, and often causes untold grief and misery, they refuse to speak the truth.

The Inevitable Consequences: There is also the common misconception that intentional deception by silence has no consequences. Lies of commission (telling a lie) and lies of omission (withholding the truth) are both acts of intentional deception. Both reap the same consequences.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009


Sometimes, when you have so much to say, it is easier to do one of two things:

1. Say nothing
2. Allow someone else to say what you might have tried to say because they are infinitely better.

I have done both. My silence is deafening, and it is not because I have nothing to say. It is rather, that I have so much filling my head it is difficult to download a coherent sentence/thought process of intelligible value.

During this time, these times, the words of others strike me. Today, it is these:

"Human beings, by their nature, tend to create that which they most fear. Always choose wisely."

"Never allow someone to be your priority, when you allow yourself to be their option."

Finally, because today is dark, windy...a little hunter s. for your mon-daze:

"Maybe there is no Heaven. Or maybe this is all pure gibberish—a product of the demented imagination of a lazy drunken hillbilly with a heart full of hate who has found a way to live out where the real winds blow—to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whisky, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested . . . Res ipsa loquitur. Let the good times roll."

~hunter s thompson

Lest I remind you.....or perhaps I should just remind myself:

"Just because you don't know your direction doesn't mean you don't have one."

~Battlestar Galactica