Saturday, December 24, 2011

Been Away

I've been away from blogging for a long while. Away from most of my routine activities, with the hustle of the season inexorably edging into their place. On this day, poised on the edge of Christmas joy, we pause and we breathe.

I celebrate all the effort and reward that the last months have brought, all that we have accomplished and undertaken. Tonight and tomorrow will be magnificent.

And, I am ready to see the season move along. To let it slip quietly away in December darkness and return once more to the comfortable challenges of an ordinary routine. I'm sure I'll have goals for the new year. I'm sure I'll work a lot and save money and blah, blah. For right now, I am suspended in this lovely winter dream, and I am ready for the soap bubble to pop and float us all back into the rest of our lives.

Everything in its own time, everything in the right place.

Solstice Season

Winter Solstice again.

The longest, darkest, richest, softest nights of the year. The rest that powers rebirth and reinvention.

We spent one night in calm and one night in the chaos of revelry with beloved friends. Candles ablaze, food, wine, sweets and coffee spilled across every table, and wrapping paper flying like confetti through the air.

Make your Winter wishes for the coming year. Our greeting rings out: Be Merry and be well!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Is it Thursday Already?


It's a busy time of year.

My goal at this point is to get some extra sleep this weekend.

I have only one or two more gifts to pick up. I'd like to wrap the pile that is growing in my living room. We are having 8 guests over for dinner tomorrow (yes, we did a dinner just last week too. And next week's dinner with a different group of friends will number 8 adults and 10 kids. I know. I know. It is excessive.). So ideally we should clean the house.

It would be lovely if the tree so carefully placed in my living room and festooned with lights also had some decorations on it. And maybe a star at the top?

I'm cooking meatloaf for my parents tonight.

Baby steps, Marie. Just baby steps.

I completed all my workload for this week ahead of deadline, and I have more lined up for next week. And then I'm taking a week off and relaxing.

Hope whatever you have on your to-do list or not-to-do list for today, that it's a pleasant one. I keep reminding myself to pause, breathe and at least pay attention to the moment I'm in.

Monday, December 12, 2011

When does vacation start???

On days like today, I feel slow and creaky.

Monday mornings are my lowest energy spot of the entire week. Ironic how low I feel because I teach on Monday mornings. Definitely takes some effort to get any energy up to needed levels.

Everybody in my family is slow on Mondays. I practically have to herd the children off to school with a bull whip. It's a big transition from the hustle of the weekend to the slog of the workload. Plus usually housework and laundry has piled up a bit and has to be wrestled back down to size.

I'm not back in bed yet, tucked up with the covers over my head, so I suppose that's a good sign. I suppose I'm going to just stay up - for one more Monday - and even email off some work. And do dishes and laundry. And warm up with a yoga dvd. And go teach.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Making Work My Favorite

Gimbel's Manager: Why you smiling like that?
Buddy: I just like to smile, smiling's my favorite.
Manager: Make work your favorite, that's your favorite, okay?
Buddy: Okay.
Manager: Work is your new favorite.

- Elf, best Christmas movie ever!
A couple of days ago, I posted a breakdown of my working hours. Here's the way my hours break down, by quantity, if I add in my leisure time.

1. Family Care/Family Time
2. Social Time with Friends
3. Shopping
4. Work
5. Yoga
6. Cleaning
7. Other Exercise
8. Writing

I do have a very active social life. I have a nice blend of friends some of whom are free during the day, and some whom work then. The result is that it's pretty common for me to do something with a friend two or three times a week. And that's a minimum, if I kinda avoid overbooking myself. We entertain friends in our home twice a month at least.

While it's fabulous not to worry about being lonely, I do have to fend people off a bit, or all my working hours get sucked away. Which is fun social-wise, but not so rewarding with the paychecks, you know?

This week is awesome though. I don't have too many commitments yet, and I have a full 35 hours of work to get done! Yay, because we do need the money for all the Christmas extras. Fortunately, most of our Christmas shopping and prep is done, and we don't have plans for the weekend yet. I like that when there's still a lot of possibility, but there's no firm plan.

We just spent last weekend hosting a dinner, meeting friends for lunch, going to a baby shower and going to a birthday party. Four events in three days gets a bit hectic so it's nice to slow down and work for a while. Use my brain instead of my mouth. Ha.

Smiling IS my favorite, but Work is too!

Friday, December 2, 2011


As I grumbled by way through a rapid house cleaning before dinner yesterday, I kept wondering why I can't get to that task more often, especially considering how much I value a tidy home.

I realized that I unfold my working hours of the day in this priority order:
1. Family Care
2. Shopping
3. Work
4. Yoga
5. Cleaning
6. Other Exercise
7. Writing

That's just an accounting of my "work" hours, not leisure time, although for me, those are all mixed and mingled together with no clear boundaries. I do actually get to most of these activities every day. For sure, I hit the top 3-5. But that does explain why I always feel like there's more cleaning to be done, especially the in-depth kind.

And why it takes me a long time to finish stories and projects.

I'm not saying this list is the way my life necessarily SHOULD be - perhaps I might want to consider moving shopping down the priorities a bit, huh? - I'm just saying that this is an accurate reflection of how my time splits up.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wish List Rough Draft

Ack. I am so frustrated right now.

I want space. I want freedom. I want more time.

I am tired of being busy. Tired of feeling dulled. Tired of trying, but not quite enough to get to the results I want. Not even being sure of the exact results I am aiming for, being too busy to sit down and sort them out.

I am tired of feeling watched, my breath caught in a half-expansion, my limbs stiff with disuse. So close but still stifled. So capable but not doing. Doing so much to such a good degree, but still not quite there. Wherever there is. Thinking that maybe it is even Here.

Quite tired of the crap and the complaining and of seeing people living their lives in pain. Tired of feeling frivolous because of my own ability to push the pain aside and enjoy life nonetheless.

Wanting to be quite, quite good, but effortlessly, but work all the same. Yeah. That. Not sure if the things I pour so much effort into are the things that count the most in the long run. Or maybe I am, and that's why I do it.

Or maybe I'm just cranky cause the house is untidy, the presents are unwrapped and I have to whip it all into shape, plus a festive dinner, plus homework, plus smile and be gracious in the next five hours. Yeah, it's probably mostly that.

But I do wish I could force the time into my schedule to be patient enough and dedicated enough to write more. And move more. (Ha - a contradiction right there.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Simple and Good

My boss took me out to lunch today along with the other co-worker on our team. It was a lovely, chatty afternoon. Because we are all computer-based and email-linked, we rarely meet face to face or even need to talk by phone, so it was a treat to spend time together in person.

Plus we exchanged Christmas gifts. Spontaneously, even though it's still only November.

The workload she sends my way has been a true blessing, as has her partnership and feedback. There's a strong possibility that our workload may even increase in the new year, which is just what I have been wishing for.

And, now, I'm home working, while listening to my daughter and her friend sort out their math homework. So, all in all, a very nice day, and hopefully, yours was as well.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Scratching the Surface

Ahhhh... long deep exhalation...

It's Monday, and I'm back to work with my normal routine. The last few weeks have been a blur of social life and also work, everything squeezed all in together, and lots of fun keeping me occupied and away from this part of my life.

I am currently working on making some deep changes to my self. There are several old situations that have dragged forward from my past that I am now ready to release. I've learned and grown, and these times have served their purposes, but there is no going backwards to change them in the past.

So onward into the future. An open, happy, possible future, A contented future. An abundant future. Secure, loving, peaceful. Healthy. When I peer down the path of my life, that's what I see. Sometimes I am so afraid of the tangles of undergrowth, the thicketing bushes that line that path. I am afraid of falling off, of being pushed off, of entangling myself in their menacing pain. Sometimes fear of being ensnared makes me want to freeze in my tracks. If I hold very, very still, maybe I'll be safe always.

But life doesn't work like that. The path must be walked. And determination, persistence and hope are always at my back, urging me forward.


I'm actively releasing my negative past. My limitations. the boundaries that crop up within my mind. I'm using work, and will, and all my inherent magical intentions.

I thought long and hard about giving up this blog, making it a part of the past I wiped away over the next year. But I love this blog. It is a part of me and captures so much of where I've been. I'm the kind to honor the past, to keep it and cherish it, even while letting it go. And it is not easy to let go of something that is a deep part of you. But I'm not the type for just erasing things to wipe them clean, so I continue to come to terms, to integrate, to synthesize and to embrace the new.

You know what's great? Freedom. Freedom is great. I enjoy it very much, even right at this moment, with beauty all around me.

Yeah, I'm sort of rambling. It's been a while since I've written much on my own terms. One thing I love about this blog is using it like a diary. I look back to see how I felt a year ago, two years ago. I use the past to project the future. Looks like in December I'll be doing a lot of shopping and Christmas prep, and in January, I'll regroup and surge ahead.

From last January:

I cannot get past the idea that life means persistence,
and persistence means hope,
and that hope means something yet to come,
something else worth waiting for,
while not only waiting.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Driving to yoga, I thought, Well, nothing hurts, and everything works. I guess I can't complain.

I've spent lots of time with friends lately, hours and hours. And they are all having their various struggles and pains. And, honestly, it just makes me realize how very fortunate I am.

My life continues to go well. Work is steady, yoga is yummy, my family is happy. Two nights ago, B said, "Wow. Our family laughs a lot. None of my friends' families do."

I'd never thought about that, but I guess it's true. We're happy to be together, and even when things are stressful, we know we can count on each other to be a team.

The older I get, the more I see of Life, and the more contented I become.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cafe Metacognition

Stolen from CBTL -

"Imagine for a moment

what the world would be like

without any...

hypothetical situations."

: ) !!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Yoga Detox - Wednesday, November 2

Last week, I accidentally met the yoga teacher who is going to help change my life.

Oh, I meant to go to yoga class. Just I thought I was in with the studio owner who I've taken classes with before. But when I walked in, a younger girl was leading the class. And it was the best class I've had in months. Absolutely perfect for my needs that day.

I just adore her. She is young, probably 20 years younger than me, but carries a surprising amount of spiritual energy. I felt an instant connection, a familiarity like coming home.

Class today was slow and calm and challenging. By the time we finished holding our camel pose and our pigeon pose and gumakasana (cow-faced) pose, I was almost crying. My quads always hold back a lot of my emotional energy and stretching that out will often trigger sadness or panic for me. Ah, the joy of working right on that edge, with gentle music and slow breath to soothe my mind.


For years, I have toyed with the idea of participating in NaNoWriMo. It's a compelling concept - 30 days, nonstop writing, and ta-da -- a Novel!!

But the reality is that November is always a busy month for me. It's the start of the holidays, there are several school vacations, and we always travel around Thanksgiving, not to mention the whole prep-the-house/cook the huge meal deal. Plus it seems like I always have a full grant load in November, maybe because CDBGs are due then. This year is no exception.

Now, March maybe. That is the slowest, longest, most boring month on record. There is just NOTHING going on in March. Yeah, Easter's coming, but it doesn't take much prep. And you might be in the middle of Lent, but how much time does it take to give something up for 40 days? So I should probably power out a first draft in March some year.

Anyway, this year I am devoting November to detoxing my life! All those worrisome fears and problems, those old anxieties, I am going to sweep them all away with the cobwebbed, cinnamon-scented broom of Autumn energy. My detox will contain many facets. I'll pump up my mind and my intellect by working steadily and joyfully at my paying career. I'll keep writing for the sheer pleasure of it. I'll buoy my spirits with a steady stream of fun activities with my ever-lovely friends. I'll choose fresh fruits and vegetables, and grains full of life, and proteins full of energy to nourish my body and my health.

And, most important, I will do yoga. Every day. A November Yoga Practice to sweep my spirit clean and open up the energy channels to the future. I have already begun.

And I am ready for big positive changes.

Monday, October 31, 2011


The spirits move, and the edges of the world blur gently together. Today is the day of energy, the real possibility of change. A festive mood marks the day. People go about in costumes, in the colors of autumn, in altered versions of their selves.

All day is busy and joyful for me. The morning began early, writing in the dark before a warming fire. My daughters tumbled out of the house in their whimsical attire and I showed up to witness the march of hundreds of small princesses, witches, pirates and heroes around the blacktop square.

Yoga was a gentle flow, all length and strength, and, now, I write more before the onslaught of evening fun begins. Friends will come and family. We will carve pumpkins and set them alight with our hopes for the coming year. Through the dark, we will wend our way, house to house below the quarter moon, gathering sweets and good will to us, enough to last as long as we may need.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Forced Giving

Like most people, I am extremely uncomfortable when approached by someone homeless or down on their luck and asked for money.

That simple interaction brings up so many conflicting feelings that most people try to avoid it all together. I think when people say no or just brush the person off, most of that comes from their discomfort with the idea of poverty, their desire to believe that they are morally superior, or smarter, or more capable and therefore they themselves would never be in that situation, etc. There is also a valid concern that the money will go straight to drugs or alcohol, thereby sustaining that needy person's problems and ultimately harming them.

Once, I was extremely generous and giving. If someone asked, I would give money and wish them well. Over the last few years, I have become more self-protective, and with that, I often resent being asked to give to someone. I feel like I am already giving, that I have already given, and more blocked-up, fearful, upset emotions like that.

Now, I know that giving is its own energy. And money is energy in action. It likes to circulate and it likes to be given away. Blocking it up doesn't help anyone. Still, though, when asked, in the last few years, more often than not, I would just say no and keep going.

But now I have an excellent solution!! I do want to give and be kind to another human in need. And I don't want to feed any harmful addictions. So I have decided that I will buy Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Gift Cards and keep them on hand. Most of the places that I get hit up are within a couple of blocks of a cafe. If I buy 5 $5.00 cards, Coffee Bean will give me a free drink of my choice. Then I can just keep the cards in my purse and hand one over if approached.

I win by being generous. The person in need gets a nice, hot cup of coffee, maybe some food, and a legitimate right to use the restroom. The business makes money. And I don't have to waste any more time averting my eyes or clutching my purse and my kids closer to me as we pass by.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why I Welcome Rejection

As you see in my post below, my story got kicked back to me this week. Thanks, but no thanks.

That rejection should have stung like the dickens. But it didn't.

I was actually quite happy to see it.

When I thought about how curious that was, the reasons were instantly clear to me. One, there is simply a certain amount of rejection inherent in life. You can't please everybody, all of the time. So rejection is the opposite side of the coin for Acceptance, the needed balance. It's only logical to assume that I will have my fair share of shrug-offs in my life.

Two, being rejected as a writer certainly puts me in good company. I don't know any fabulous and successful writer who hasn't had work rejected at some point, some of them, numerous times.

Three, did you hear what I said up there? Being rejected puts me in good company as a WRITER! I think this, more than any other, is why I feel happy instead of sad. Getting that rejection is proof that I had a story worthy of submission. It's proof that I made a good attempt at the process. It's proof that I actually do think of myself as a WRITER. (yay)

When I was a girl, I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I had no idea how to become one. I had no understanding of process and craft. I just loved to read. Now, I live as a writer every single day.

And I love it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Oh Well. On to the Next Prospect on the List!!

Dear Marie,

Thank you for the opportunity to read "Finding Adam." Unfortunately, your story isn't quite what we're looking for right now. Each month, we receive hundreds of submissions and while I may like many of them, I can only publish twelve of them per year.

In the past, we've provided detailed feedback on our rejections, but I'm afraid that due to time considerations, we're no longer able to offer that service. I appreciate your interest in Clarkesworld Magazine and hope that you'll keep us in mind in the future.

Take care,

Neil Clarke
Clarkesworld Magazine

Monday, October 24, 2011



A full week ahead. Chopped up already into little blocks of responsibilities and obligations. I hope there will be some time to flow and feel smooth.

We are all just chugging along, doing the best we can, right where we are today. I've been anxious a lot lately, with all the repair changes unsettling me around my home.

Been dealing with that by reminding myself to just be in the moment. I only feel anxious when I find myself either trying to be too far ahead in time, or trying to be overly in-control of what will happen next. The painter really bugs me. We are having some dispute over his work. I had an opportunity last night - through text messages - to move into more conflict with him. Instead, I took a long breath, thought for a few minutes, and consciously let go of caring about any outcomes.

This morning, I approached him with a whatever-needs-to-happen attitude, however-much-it-costs. That gave him space to be mellow so now we have a good agreement and no bad feelings. It just wasn't worth it to me to fight.

He should finish tomorrow and I'll be glad to have some space back. There has been someone extra at my house every day except yesterday for the last two weeks. I find that draining.

The older I get, the less tolerance I have for conflict. People are too important to be harsh with them. I hope everybody gets to have a good day today. I get to teach yoga - which should be calming and rewarding - and be with my daughters, and even write.

Oh, I sent out THREE stories last week. One was inspired by a friend, so I hope Clarkesworld publishes it. If that one comes through, I'm buying a new dishwasher -- I'm sick of washing every dish by hand. Still, though, seems like things are going okay. Time, time and more time and just being mellow.

No conflicts.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Painted Mind

Everything is okay. Everything is okay. Everything is okay.

Just keep saying that over and over.

I sit to work this morning and realize that I am filled with anxiety. It's a lot of pressure getting both girls off to school on time, me caring about being prompt even more than they do, carrying the psychic weight for them.

Dealing with the painter is not my favorite thing to do. He's a nice enough guy, but the whole process is a delicious obstacle for me. One of those challenges that life throws in your path to remind you to be flexible.

I was talking to a friend last night and mentioned that my Buddhism didn't seem to be very active at this point. "I could certainly do with a bit more acceptance of Impermanence," I remarked to her laughter. "Perhaps a bit less Attachment to outcomes?"

This re-painting has most of my least favorite elements wrapped up in it. It's a big change. There's someone in my personal space, disrupting my routine. I don't know what the outcome will be. I'm not really in control of the process.

And while, obviously, all of those elements are true in life -- ALL THE TIME -- and we just want the illusion that there is more safety, control, stability and permanence than there really is, still, STILL, this process is really throwing all of that in my face.

In a way that's a bit difficult to come to terms with before nine am every single morning.

At least all the windows aren't taped shut anymore.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Autumn Moves

Autumn is always a time of energy currents and fluctuations. I couldn't sleep well last night; I could feel them moving and shifting just at edge of perception.

I can only try to center on the positive and hope that outcomes are beneficial. Generally, my optimism lifts me through these times. It's exciting, of course, to feel the waves and know that there are tremendous possibilities out there, waiting to come into our lives. An interconnected web of energy and circumstance, of choice and result, of past melding with future.

We've been having work done around house, and all of the changes, along with the intrustion of the workers, has unsettled me. Today, I have refocused my energy. I've burned away all my problems and protected my home with fresh intention. I felt so bad all last night because I snapped at our neighbor. He wanted to rebuild our fence on Halloween and I said absolutely not. For one thing, I am super busy on Mondays. For another thing... Halloween!! Really? Have some sense, people. Then I felt guilty about shutting his plan down. But there is just no way I can rip a fence apart during that week.

I have to be true to my own intuition. And enjoy the tremendous movements in energy that this season brings.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Mirror of Time

I sit in the cafe, the tools of my trade spread all about me. It's nice to be here. Peaceful, bright, social. I like the solitude in the midst of others, the calm of my own thoughts when I'm not in conversation with anyone else.

Today, I am in conflict.

Part of me wants to get right back into my work. I yearn to be productive; I want to earn the money we will badly need in a few weeks. I want to gain recognition and support for my clients, sweet organizations with good missions. Really, I couldn't work too much.

But part of me feels dreamy. Part of me wants to write whatever I want, stories that I like. Silly things and serious things and ... A R T. You know.

I feel like I have been caring for sick children and caring for my sick self and arranging financial and repair matters around the house, oh, and teaching yoga almost every day so much for the last week or so that I feel like it has been ages since I have been in touch with this part of myself. This quietness. This creativity. This creation that ties the timeline of past and future together with silver strands of story. You know. That.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Our House

Each time, I enter my front door, a wave of gratitude sweeps over me. It simply feels so good to come home.

I love my house, this special place that holds all of my belongings and so many memories, this sacred space that reflects me. There was a time when I was restless in this house, in this area even, but now I fall more in love with it every day.

I find myself nesting, settling in, at no time more than now, the beautiful season of autumn that will lead into winter and holidays. On dark nights, our house glows with candles and a cozy fire, the smell of cinnamon and baking, the bustle of homework and chores, the jewel-like colors of crafts and decorations and flowers.

My house has literally been my sanctuary. Over the last difficult years, it has been my safe place, where I could retreat from the dangers of the world. In its steady presence, my house has guarded me and protected me. Even now, I know that I am bound to this house. Were I to try to leave it, I would be swept away into despair and destruction within weeks. Very much like a fairy tale, I know. But as long as I stay here, I am strong and free and occupying a very important place in the lives of so many dear ones. There's a story there somewhere, a beautiful fantasy tale of power linked to place, and dust and ashes waiting just outside the magical borders. Maybe I'll write it one day.

In the meantime, I am so content to be here. I look across my rooms, over our yard filled with sweeping trees, and I know that we choose well. I used to think that I would leave this home behind and go in search of adventures. Now I know that this will always be my home base; I can venture into the world on adventures aplenty, and return here to recharge. We vacation somewhere almost every month, just for the variety. And in the future, we are planning a fabulous European Tour to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. My daughters are already compiling a list of the places they dream of going. We may have other adventures as well. I want to stay in a rugged coastal lighthouse, have an apartment in Italy, live on a French farm. And this house seems like the ticket to open all of those far-away foreign doors.

When I was going through my years of struggle and despair, I didn't pay much attention to money. We did what we wanted, and I showered experiences and fun on my family, most of it subsidized by credit cards instead of income. Actually, it worked beautifully. I healed; I became happy; my family has amazing memories of time spent together that only strengthened our bonds with each other. It was a worthwhile investment in our amazing children, and they absolutely benefitted.

Now, our house has stepped in to put us onto a more prudent track. It just provided us with a year's salary, an end to debt and a fresh beginning. In return, we are sprucing it up, making sure it is taken care of. We will pay for this house within ten years and then it will be absolutely ours. I plan to live here forever, to age here in this lovely modest home on our quiet street, to play with grandchildren and great-grandchildren in our just-enough space. There is great contentment in that, great possibility in feeling my future expand before me in such a happy way.

I am so deeply grateful to my house and for my home.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Submission Markets

So, for almost the last TWO years, I have been holding onto a copy of Writer's Digest that had some great tips for online submission markets. I thought that I'd sit down when I had a spare moment and list the ones I most like the look of. Then I'd have a handy reference for sending in work.

Well, you know how that story went. Months flew by! Today, TODAY, I finally made time and typed out my list. And since I'm known for my generosity, I'll share it with you as well. Who knows? Maybe I'll even read your stuff in one of these some day (Yeah, I'm talkin' to YOU, Kat and Elle and the rest of you who've been meaning to write a bit more and send it out - YOU know who you are!)

Plus, this way I'll always be able to find it when I'm ready to be online. Useful, right?

Good submitting, one and all:
Short Stories/Online Literary Markets
10Flash Quarterly
Pays $20 per story. Looking for genre flash fiction of 800-1000 words (horror, fantasy, sci fi, suspense).

$15 per story. Fiction – all genres, book reviews, nonfiction about writing.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Pays .05 per word. Literary adventure fantasy fiction

The Big Ugly Review
No pay. Circulation 10,000/month. Theme for each issue.

Pay unspecified. Poetry, fiction, nonfiction that challenges traditions in profound ways.

Café Irreal
$0.01 per word. Irreal fiction like Kafka, Abe, Borges.

Carte Blanche
Modest pay. Poetry, fiction, CNF

Clarkesworld Magazine
$.10 per word up to 4000 words, .05 per word after that. Sci fi and fantasy fiction and articles.

$20. Fiction, commentary, book reviews

Diode – No pay

Every Day Fiction
$3 per story. Circulation 48,000 – 100,000. Flash fiction up to 1000 words.

Expanded Horizons
$30 story. Spec Fiction with underrepresented groups

*Fantasy Magazine
$.05 per word. Fantasy fiction, CNF, interviews.

*Flash Fiction Online
$50 story. Flash up to 1000 words

$5-25 piece. Fiction to 1000 words, poetry, CNF

*The Pedestal Magazine
.08 word for fiction. Poetry, fiction.

$100 short fiction/$20 flash (fewer than 1500 words). Horror Also and

.01 word up to $10. Genre fiction, short-shorts.

Strange Horizons
$.05 word, minimum $50. Fiction, poetry articles about future.

The Teacher’s voice
No pay. Poetry, fiction, CNF, essays about education and language.

*Tri-Quarterly Online
$200-250 story. Fiction, CNF, poetry,

Wily Writers
$50 story, $20 flash fiction. Speculative fiction.

Online Consumer Magazine Markets
$50 article. For Male professionals 18-45 years.

Literary Traveler
$50 article. Circulation 80,000 month. Travel articles for the literary imagination.

Pay unspecified. Articles, personal essays on sex, love, relationships.
Pay varies. Articles.
No pay? Related to women’s interests

Pay varies. Articles, poetry.

The Smart Set
Pay varies. Essays, memoir, travel, stories – original and creative.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Year of Goals and Growing

In August, 2010, a friend and I were sitting in this cafe, sharing about our lives. At one point, we realized that neither one of us had much of a vision for the future. We simply didn't know where we where going, or where we WANTED to go.

That conversation stuck with me and disturbed me. With no plan, how could I measure growth? What would pull me into a future I would enjoy occupying?

So, I made some goals. They were simple, focused, and extremely ambitious. I wrote them in huge letters and posted them on my fridge where I would see them every day. Over the last 13 months, I certainly haven't met them.

But I have made excellent progress.

It seems to be that now would be a particularly auspicious time to revisit the goal process. Time to re-evaluate and re-set what I hope to achieve. Oh, I know it's not New Year's or summer or any of those occasions, but it just feels like a good time.

So - here are the goals I have in mind for the next four to twelve months:

1. Get Fit - I'm currently about a 2 on a scale of 1-5 possible fitness. I'd like to be a 4, able to perform more strength, stamina and flexibility functions than many people.

2. Lose Weight - This goes with goal one, but isn't necessarily synonymous. Still, though, I plan to cut back the sugar and junk, reduce the intake, and drop 40 pounds by the end of January, with more to follow throughout 2012.

3. Be Mindful - In all things, I will take my time and pay attention. When I eat, I will eat. When I write, write, When I shop, shop. And so forth. Plus it's good to breathe throughout the day, really breathe, breathing like nourishment for the body.

4. Serve 20 new clients by October 2012 - About two per month. This is going to prompt me to reach out, make phone calls, send letters, flyers, networking or whatever else it takes to make new contacts.

5. Write 10 new stories - less than one per month. That's nothing really. Just a good steady pace and certainly possible.

6. Submit! - Put every decent story I've completed so far into the submission cycle. And keep it there until it gets published!

7. Write a Nonfiction Book - I had this idea more than a year ago and I've been churning it around since. Today, it's come back to me more focused and complete - and more in line with what I stand for. I have chapter ideas, research content, interest, etc. I'd like to write at least one chapter per month - again easy, right?- and start querying in March 2012. By October 2012, I want the manuscript complete and publication by October 2013. I think that's very doable and then I will finally have a book to my name!

And that's it, I think. Relationship-wise things are going super for me. I have tons of loving family and friends. Financially too, we are blessed with balance and abundance. My kids are great. I'm practicing and teaching yoga professionally. Yeah, just a bit more fitness, some career growth, and more writing - with results in the world.

Sounds good.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Other Side!

This song plays in the cozy cafe where I am tucked away, watching rain drift down onto the grey streets outside while I go over and over text I am writing for a proposal, trying to create the very best 2000 characters of program description possible.

I used to listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers in my classroom. I'd lock the door during my conference period and interrupt my pile of grading to stare moodily out my windows, taking in the vista of mountain and sky, and wondering about the note of melancholy this song in particular stirred in me.

"How long, How long...?"

There was always a certain restlessness in me then, a certain anxiety about being overwhelmed by the nonstop duties of the day. Now, I work on my own schedule, at my own pace. I write for my daily bread. I am never lonely, unless I choose to be, since I am continually surrounded by other people. I have to say, I loved my life back then. I loved teaching. But there is a wonderful and glorious freedom in the way my hours unfold now.

I am so grateful.


What a week! From last Friday to today, things are flowing smoothly, one after another.

My birthday was fabulous, really one of the best I've ever had. So many people remembered me and showed their love. I especially appreciated the lack of tension and anxiety. In contrast to other years, it felt like everything just fell into place, without effort or struggle.

We spent the weekend at my friend's new home in San Diego. Just a very low-key time, a big sleepover, with the kids all crashed on the floor in the den and the adults staking out the bedrooms. Her daughter's wooden bedframe creaked every time we moved, so S and I spent the night being very still and praying not to do any permanent damage to it!

My friend insisted on making a dinner, despite my protests. Three kinds of pizza, creamy quiche, too many nibbles to list, and multiple bottles of wine. Around nine pm, we caravaned to the coastline to watch the glowing tide. It was beyond incredible. With every wave, flashes of electric blue lightning danced within the water, creating a supernatural vision of beauty. The kids discovered that if they splashed each other with water, or dipped their hands and rubbed, they would see blue sparkles all over. They were soaked within minutes, romping like puppies in the dark night.

After moonset, I saw not one, but two shooting stars! And, honestly, all of my wishes were already coming true, so if someone out there needs it, you can have my extra wish. I'll give it to you to boost yourself along.

The next morning started with strong coffee and berry/nutella crepes. When a French woman insists on cooking for you, just go along with it! We spent the rest of the day exploring San Diego. At the harbor, we watched the procession of the Portugese Madonna, for the annual blessing of the fishing boats. It involved prayer and a lot of fireworks and flares sent up into the air. We took a harbor cruise, enjoying the spray of water and sun blown against our exposed skin.

Dinner was at my favorite Asian restaurant. Pumpkin curry, duck drunken noodles and a strong, bright blue martini put me in heaven! As the first customers of the night, we had the place to ourselves and greatly enjoyed the eighties jazz, glowing candles, and muted decor. Dessert was an entire plate of cupcakes, aflame with candles and Happy Birthday accompanied by tingling Thai bells.

The next day was a dream of teaching yoga, working, eating pie, making a huge Italian dinner for my parents and having my daughters insist that I open my gifts. They bought me tons of necklaces, and scarves, and my other friends sent cards and flowers and bottles of wine. One good friend even showed up at my door first thing in the morning, singing Happy Birthday over a pastry aflame with a candle!!

Truly, I felt so loved and valued. And since I actually enjoy getting older, I felt good about the whole thing. Accomplished. Settled. And very happy.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Forty Three

Tra-la-la. It's a lovely day!!

I taught yoga class this morning. Oh, didn't I mention it? I'm a regular yoga teacher now!!! I finally took on my very own class. We meet every Monday at 10:30. I'm just starting, still trying to build up my student base. But so far, excellent.

I picked up my first paycheck this morning, and hope to have many more to come.

For lunch, I zipped over to this cafe. The day is gorgeous -- overcast and chasing back and forth from blue to grey sky. Big fat raindrops drummed my car as I pulled in, but now the rain has stopped and a cool breeze blows. Outside here, a landscaped stream burbles, piped in classical music soothes, and an amiable group lunches happily.

I choose banana cream pie. Hardly a nutritional win, I know, but I couldn't resist the mounds of fluffy white cream which reminded me of the clouds in the sky. That first bite, complete with shavings of white chocolate, melted in my mouth like a happy song.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Song from a Different Decade Plays on the Radio

Heard this song this morning driving around in the early sun, still squinting sleep out of my eyes, my mind fogged with the mists of dreams...

"I am still dreaming of your face
Hungry and hollow from the things you took away
I don't want to be your good time
I don't want to be your fall-back crutch anymore

Walk right out into a brand new day..."

I am still living with your ghost
Lonely and dreaming of the west coast
I don't want to be your downtime
I don't want to be your stupid game

With my big black boots and an old suitcase
I do believe I'll find myself a new place
I don't want to be the bad guy
I don't want do your sleepwalk dance anymore
I just want to see some palm trees
I will try and shake away this disease

We can live beside the ocean
Leave the fire behind
Swim out past the breakers
Watch the world die

We can live beside the ocean
Leave the fire behind
Swim out past the breakers
Watch the world die

I am still dreaming of you face
Hungry and hollow for all the things you took away
I don't want to be your good time
I don't want to be your fall back crutch anymore

I'll walk right out into a brand new day
Insane and rising in my own weird way
I don't want to be the bad guy
I don't want to do your sleepwalk dance anymore

I just want to feel some sunshine
I just want to find some place to be alone

We can live beside the ocean
Leave the fire behind
Swim out past the breakers
Watch the world die

Yeah watch the world die
Yeah watch the world die

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tarot Cards and Forces Beyond Our Control

I bought a pack of Tarot cards at a yard sale a few weeks ago. They were the classic banana-yellow Waite Rider type, shiny and new in their box. When I picked them up, the young woman offered, "Oh, I only used those once. I wanted to read them but it was too complicated. It was taking us forever to check the book and figure it out."

"What did you want to know?" Sympathy stirred in me. "I'll read for you if you like."

So I did. Right there at her yard sale, across some plastic tub lids we used as a table. It was my first attempt to read for a total stranger. When I've done readings before, it's always been for close friends or family. I've always felt that because I knew their situations well and already had opinions, it was cheating a bit. How could I know if I was really reading cards or just saying what I thought?

But with this young lady, the reading was clear. The cards lined up with what I would probably have advised her anyway from what I could gather by her questions. She was plagued with the same problems as us all: romance, money, job situation, the future. She seemed pleased with the reading; I hope it was able to help her.

When I consider Tarot readings, I'm never sure if I believe in them or not. It's funny because I can easily read the cards. It's an intuitive gift that I've grown into in the last few years. I'm just not sure what I make of it exactly. Is it really a message from some external force?

I tend to think of Tarot as a tool for self-discovery. To me, it doesn't deliver some Universal telegram as much as it helps to show people what is already on their minds. It taps into an inner consciousness.

I had a friend who believed that the Universe was composed of strong external forces. They would interfere in our lives, and put obstacles in the way of our successes. I was intrigued by that view at the same time I had a hard time really understanding it. I realized this morning that I do believe in powerful forces in the universe, powerful impacts affecting our lives. I just believe that we are behind a lot of those influences in our experiences.

Sure, there is an immense undercurrent at work in Existence; I just have the arrogance or the confidence to believe that I am a big part of it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Time Passing

Sometimes when you are really writing, there is just no space to think of anything else.

And when you are thinking of things, there is no more space to write.

Know what I mean?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Daydreaming Break

Lately I've been trying to work like Diana Gabaldon. She said that when she first started writing her novels, she would open three or four or even five writing projects at a time. As soon as she got stuck on one, she would move to the next and just keep flipping through them so that she never got blocked.

She claims it kept her at the keyboard writing instead of drifting off into chores or other activities. She had a family to support so she needed to produce. Well, so do I.

I tend to be a very restless writer. After an hour or so, I'm ready to move around and focus on something else. So now I'm making sure to open multiple projects - a story, my blog, a letter, a few proposals - and skip around between them. It does seem to work.

Also, I just took a five minute break. I put my chin in my hand and gazed out the window at the trees and the sky. That helps too.

A Week Flew By

Back at the cafe today and it is abustle!

The last few weeks have been a blur of school and schedules and work and events. I had quite a late summer cold last week; it seemed like if I wasn't working, I was taking naps!

Today, I'm grateful to have my vibrant health and good mood. Plus the sky is like buttermilk and blue with a kiss of autumn's coolness floating on the breeze.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dance Away the Heartache...

When things get hard, when all seems sad, reach inside for that ray of joy. Give yourself to dancing. Hum and sway. Vibrate with your own beat. And heal that heartache...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

I searched for something on my blog, and I was pulled back into the scribblings of days long past. I love my blog. I love writing it, and I love reading it.

When I go back, I can remember exactly what I was feeling as I wrote each post. I remember where I was sitting, what my hopes were, or my challenges. There is so much of me scattered across these posts, and I feel good when I see how much joy is reflected in them. I feel even better when I see the record of my sorrows. When I was suffering, I often wrote about a better future to come, focused my writing on hope for improvements.

Now, I am in that future I wrote about. And, indeed, the problems have lessened and fallen away. I have retained so many of the joys of the past and let go of the dross of negativity. Everything has gotten better and better. And I am happier, more often, than I have ever been in my life.

Having that record of my adversities and my triumphs, my determination and my strength has only helped me to learn to wield my tools more skillfully. I've often thought of abandoning this blog, or adapting it. I've wondered if I had grown beyond it.

Today, I've been keeping this blog for three years. And I'm thrilled with every little bit of it that lingers here, and tells me where I've been, what I've loved, and where I might be going.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quote - Anton Chekhov on Description

"Don't tell me the moon is shining;

show me the glint of light on broken glass."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Working at Barnes and Noble

I remember a bad time a few years ago.

I had lost my beloved career as a dedicated teacher. I had left the subsequent job I'd fallen into in my shock, the lowest-paying job I'd ever had, because I was unable to make enough money to cover my childcare costs. I'd never before in my adult life been without paid work. It was Spring 2008 and my spirits had never been lower.

I had two young children, no job, a Masters Degree in English, and no prospects on the horizon. Finally, I got sick of the whole situation. One day, I just made a decision that something was going to have to change. Things were going to get better because they simply had to.

From that day on, I vowed to hunt until I found work that made my life better. I wrote up a variety of resumes, emphasizing different skills and aspects of my background. I got up each morning, determined to put pure positive energy into the day. I got dressed in a suit, did my hair and make-up, grabbed my work papers and set out.

Each day I drove around and approached any employer I could think of. I applied as a waitress, as a coffee clerk. I applied in Human Resources, at a daily newspaper, as a tutor, and as a college associate professor. I went to retail shops and diners, anywhere I thought I might make enough money per hour to have something left over after I paid a babysitter.

And I went to Barnes and Noble. I did really well there. My love for books and my teaching background wowed them. I sailed through a group interview, even when I had to commit the major sin of leaving early to pick up my girls. I aced two more interviews. They loved my references and they loved me. Even though it was only a clerk position, I was confident that I could get into a management track once they saw me work with the public.

But I didn't get that job. A minimum wage clerkship, and they passed me over. I was crushed.

I shrugged it off with a wry laugh and kept applying everywhere. My determination to change my life through pure effort and expectation didn't flag.

A few weeks later I got a call out of the blue. The nonprofit I had worked for wanted to know if I would write some grants for them on a freelance basis. From that one unexpected moment, my business was born.

Dumb luck? Fate? A result of what I projected for myself?

All I know is that I've gotten work that same way ever since, and I've never looked back. I love being a business owner and I love my daily work.

Today, I'm sitting at Barnes and Noble. Turns out I wound up working here after all. Just not in the way that I would have anticipated. No clocks, no schedules but my own. More money per hour than I made as a teacher. It's fabulous!!

I wish the same successes for you in your own life.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sitting With Discomfort

So doing nothing about a situation is one of the hardest responses for me.

I like to be active; I like to respond; I like to make things happen.

But more and more over the last few years, when I am faced with an uncomfortable situation, I don't rush in and try to solve it right away. Instead I back up and I breathe. And then I consider. And consider some more. And give myself the space of non-reaction to find out how I really feel.

Sitting with this discomfort, this lack of solution, this nagging conflict or issue is not at all easy. It feels bad. But then I take the time to just embrace those feelings. I see what they might have to say to me. I ask if the situation is here to teach me something.

I ask myself what the most kind and gentle thing to do would be. And often, I wind up sending good thoughts and doing nothing else.

Because doing almost always strengthens the negative energy, while waiting gives it space to dissipate in its way.

I've been blessed with some truly uncomfortable situations in my life -- I like to think that I have learned to face them while still keeping a certain core of peace, stillness and equanimity.

By simply sitting with the discomfort.

Just Tell That Leg NO!

I've always remembered a story that a friend recounted to me a few years ago:

He was feeling anxious, sitting in a waiting room. Without even paying attention, he was jiggling his leg around and shifting in his seat. An older woman passed by him and noticed it,
"Honey," she said, "just tell that leg no!"

I've often thought of this story as a perfect metaphor for how we approach an anxious or compelling situation. Without even noticing it, we may begin to react in a strongly patterned way.

But we don't have to do that.

The first step is to even tune in to ourselves, to find the almost-automatic reactions that arise without our conscious awareness. Muscle tensions, fidgeting, sharp retorts, recurring conflicts - these are just patterns.

The second step is to realize that we have the ability to take control of our response to any situation. We don't have to go down the same paths we've walked before; we can choose a different response; we can just tell our own legs NO!

I've used this so frequently when I feel tension overwhelming me. I look for my automatic response and then I tell it to go away. And then I choose to do something different.

Even if doing something different means doing nothing at all.

Friday, August 26, 2011


It's a calm day today. I am moving slowly on purpose. Devoting my time to letting errands unfold at their own pace, and generally enjoying being leisurely.

I've worked hard this week - pushed myself to produce - and it's been a week of external stresses and worries as well.

I was feeling anxious and burned out. So today, I am being slow, calm, deliberate. I am breathing and I am noticing each moment as it unfolds. I am letting things come as they may.

I am surrendered to the Higher wisdom of the Universe, to God's Large Plan. I am hoping for beneficial outcomes for all, and at the same time, I am practicing non-engagement and non-attachment.

And enjoyment of the blessings we all have. All of us. Whether we realize it or not.

As I said to end a yoga class I taught this week,
May all beings find freedom.
Freedom from want
Freedom from suffering
Freedom from pain

May all beings awaken to the Freedom
which we carry always inside ourselves.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Woven, A Poem

wraps around me
following me through my day
with its soft persistant presence

embraces me in gentle caress
settles over my shoulders
like a bright woolen shawl
worn soft and familiar

me into myself
a slow, calm peace
to every move

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Smoke and Mirrors

Magic takes us in because we have an innate longing to believe. With a simple deck of cards, a good friend was able to dazzle a group of us. Only later did my husband point out to me that the deck was clearly specialized.

Once he said that, I knew the truth of it. I had seen it with my own eyes. But in my mind's desire to be amazed, I had not processed the simple fact of what I was actually seeing. In other words, my expectation overrode my actual perception.

How often do we do the same in our daily lives? How often do we interact with others or deal with a situation only to see exactly what we expected to see before we began? Why is it so hard for us to strip away the expectation and see only what is actually there in front of us?

I have a friend right now who is suffering greatly in love. She has one relationship with a man who could be, might be, hopes to be a great guy. And she has the possibility of something with a man who actually IS a great guy. And, listening to her, hearing her sincere confusion and pain, I wonder why it is so hard for her to see that her hopes for guy A are nothing but fantasies. Projections. Smoke and mirrors clouding her ability to clearly see that if the relationship hasn't progressed in three years, it's unlikely to suddenly begin to do so.

While guy B is just what he seems to be - a really nice guy, ready to commit now, and with lots of potential based on what he is currently actually doing.

It seems like the illusions and projections we bring along with us into our most intimate relationships are the hardest ones of all to detach from.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Stream of Moments...

The soothing voice of Jon Kabat-Zinn flows through my car lately in the transition times from one place to the next.

His wisdom as read aloud from this text brings a calm deepening to my days. I actually whisked the CD out of my car and thrust it into a friend's hands this week- my best response to the crisis in her life.

Wherever I go, there I am. And you as well.


I've been surrounded by a fair amount of suffering of late.

Desire and attachment, wanting things that are not. That's what I've seen over and over recently among my circle. And it causes real pain. Regrettable pain.

In face of that, I find myself turning more and more to a Buddhist inflected approach to life. Taking a step back. Breathing in the moment. Detaching from a desired outcome.

This blog seems a good place to explore the impact of mindfulness on a daily life. And hopefully, there can be an easing of suffering as well.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Joy of a Writing Habit

Gosh, it is lovely here.

To my left, a fountain blurbles merrily. All around plants grow in their garden boxes - lavender, tomateos, strawberries, chives - reaching into the sun. Bright glass candleholders hang from branches and sway in the breeze and the flies buzz lazily. It is exactly late summer.

Apples appeared at the Farmers Market today, and pears, the first autumn fruits. I found myself thinking that we needed to make time to hunt for wild blackberries in the next week or two, while they are still hanging plump on the vines.

I am all alone, and I love it. Tucked into one of my secret work spots, ending the week as I began it, with projects and paragraphs. Good food, hot coffee, and a contented attitude.

I read an article this week about the discipline needed to become a writer. Most of us know that the difference between writers and non-writers essentially comes down to practice and devotion. This teacher suggested that writing be considered a habit. He pointed out that we humans tend to do the tasks that are habit to us, the newspaper-reading, email-checking, toothbrushing kinds of daily events.

That clicked with me right away. This blog is my writing habit. I come to it first, when I begin to work, or I come to it when I get stuck or distracted, when I need a bit of a break. It's an invaluable tool for me. Sorry if it doesn't provide a high level of reader service value, but it does serve a purpose for my worklife.

Willful determination with Nonconcern for results is my main writing philosophy. It's a pure pleasure for me to write, and I return to it for that joy and contentment.

Next I'll expand that habit out to my fiction. I realized that I put fiction last because I have so many other paid projects each day. But there's no reason at all that I can't keep my current story open, and go to it first, each time I sit at my computer. If I write even a paragraph or two each time I work, stories will get written and revised in no time. Plus I'm in no hurry.

"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible."

—Vladimir Nabokov

Monday, August 15, 2011


... is the main feeling I have today. I am steadily working my way through a list of life errands and work-related tasks -- and feeling quite pleased with myself about it.

I like Monday. The whole week is still in front of me, and I am always curious to see how it will start to fill up and what things I will wind up doing.

I have a proposal I'd like to wrap up by tonight and maybe get another page or so in on my story. Plus balance the checkbook, make dinner, finish the laundry...

... and, of course, end the day by watching The Waltons. We are ending Season 2 and I love it! The integral narrative voice of John Boy, the literary references, the family pulling together in hard economic times - it is just so soothing to watch.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Good Things, Bad Things

Some friends are having struggles right now.

Other friends are glorious in happiness; some with contented routines, others radiant with new love.

It's been a good week for me. Lots of work (accomplished by deadlines!), lots of teaching, lots of time with loved ones. I've celebrated with those who are in joy...

...And I've consoled those who are suffering. It's rewarding to be there to give a lift or a hug to someone who needs it.

It's Friday now... and I'm so glad... we can relax and let a slower pace wash over us... more parties this weekend, but not at our house... Aaahh...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Work Day

I'm back at one of my cafe work spots. My aim in the next few weeks is to get around and renew my acquaintance with them all. This one's fun cause it's right downtown so there's a bit of hustle and bustle. A wide variety of people come through the doors and pass by the windows. No one crazy and interactive so far, so that's always helpful to work concentration.

Plus I realized that I can stand next to the booth, pop my computer up on the ledge, plug it in, and use the free-and-easy wifi. That's all I need right there! I'm trying to stand more while I work. Keep reading how healthy it is, what with allowing for better circulation, using more muscles, burning more calories and all.

My goal is to stand five hours each day. Plus I fidget when I stand so it definitely makes me more active.

I started today with a two hour brunch with a friend. Now I'm here working away. Not too bad, really.

In fact, not bad at all!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Making time to write. In a day that filled with phone calls, finances, and errands, I have stolen this precious hour.

I even wrote another paragraph on my long-patience story Blue Pineapple. If I add even a paragraph at a time, it will eventually get done.

Baby steps, right? Tiny, little baby steps towards a future goal will eventually get you there...

Universal Energy Surge


Not only am I super busy right now, juggling the needs and desires of my family at this transition to work/school/rush time, but my social life has spiked the last few weeks.

Among my circle, there are so many birthdays in August that we are attending a party every single weekend of this month -- plus some during the week! We've hosted at least three... four?... big gatherings of our own lately. They are all starting to blur together quite honestly.

Plus some friends from my past have been re-emerging. Like right now, my oldest friend just texted to say that she and her son will be flying in in November and can't wait to visit. Awesome!

Not so awesome is that several old friends have suddenly reappeared from the mists of time because they are having intense personal crises. Gulp. I really don't know what to do for these people. Of course, I'm sympathetic. And I care and wish them well.

But I really do have my own, very busy, very focused life going on. I can't just drop everything and rush off to aid someone else.

A few weeks ago it was an old friend, calling nonstop. The calls this week are from a mother-daughter pair who are locked in conflict, maybe with some traumatic influences that I really don't even want to find out about. They want me to stop at once and come see them so I can mediate their conflict in person. Frankly, I don't know how that is supposed to help; I'm not magic. They seem to have more faith in my intervention than I do.

This troubles me deeply. It makes me so sad when people I care about are struggling. It makes me feel even worse when I have no idea how I'm supposed to help them. Just powerless and drained by their problems.

Plus there's the whole notion of reciprocity. I have learned to highly value the friends who are actually there for me when I need them. To me, it's a key definer of a good relationship. All of these "friends" certainly haven't been present in my life the last few years when I was smoothing things out and getting my act together. They were off being busy with their own affairs. But now that they have a need, they want that to take precedence. But it doesn't quite work that way.

My true friends, the ones I'm making the effort to get to all the parties for, have indeed been there through their tough times and my own. If one of them had a crisis, I would drop everything and go to help, even if it meant drastic reshuffling or missing work deadlines. But for people who haven't shown much interest in me lately, I think it's fair to wish them well from a distance and -- in the meantime -- keep typing on my grants.

I hope things work out for them all.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Yay! Hi! Yay!

It's a busy, busy day,

but I just had to drop by and scatter a few words.

My breadcrumb trail of self.

My signpost of creativity and production.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Time Flows Forward

The older my children get, the more lovely my days become.

They are at an age now where they have some independence and self-sufficiency. It leaves a bit more space for me, and I'm truly enjoying interacting with them.

It has been a simply lovely summer. Probably the best one I've ever had. It seems like every summer the last few years has been better than the one before. We had a couple of really rough summers during some rocky times, so in comparison we have redeemed our summer experiences completely. With that baseline, it is so easy to enjoy these floating, harmonious, fun hours that blend together under the haze of heat and sunshine.

When I was a child, summers were okay, but often boring. I liked school so being out of it wasn't a big plus for me. Swimming was nice, and ice cream, the occasional dinners at a friend's house, and playing for hours but overall, summer was just okay. I always sensed that there could be so much more to it!

Then as a teacher, I'd have to say that I wasted my summers. Back before my own kids came along, I hated the end of school. I love to work, and I love having routines, and I love structure and challenge. I love being around lots of people. School had that, and summer didn't. I almost always volunteered to teach summer school, and I even ran free writing workshops for talented youth just so that I would have something to keep me occupied.

Now, I look back and I don't get it. We were two free adults with income! We could have been traveling; I could have been writing!! But we weren't so into those things back then, and I for sure was more stuck in the little box of not really knowing who I could be. Oh well.

But, now... Now... summer is FABULOUS. I adore the break from school schedules and homework and lunches and laundry. I adore that our family can choose whatever we want to do with our days. I adore that we have the luxury of time, so much time to spend together, really the most precious commodity of them all, and one that never loses its luster.

I'm starting to look forward now to Autumn, by far my favorite season. I know that after this break, I'll actually enjoy the uptick in daily tasks, the hustle and bustle of books and backpacks and lunches. The seasonal changes - blackberries, then pears, apples, then persimmons. Pumpkins and cornstalks and autumn leaves drifting in a gray sky.

Sometimes I worry that I'll be lonely. After so much time constantly surrounded by others, I worry what I'll do with myself. And then I laugh at such silliness. For one thing, I am constantly busy and if I find myself with an hour to feel lonely and unmoored, I should treasure it. Second, I am constantly surrounded by friends. Almost too much so. It's much more my experience that my writing or work gets interrupted by a phone call or visit then that I have no one to talk to. I'll see good friends every morning and every afternoon at school pickups and more days than not, kids and adults will come to visit and play at our house. More days than not I'll have coffee or lunch with someone. So, third, when I worry about lonely, I remember all that. And I remember something else.

I like Lonely. I love being alone. Free to think my thoughts, free to get things done, following my own schedule only. Aahhh, heaven. And most of all, free to sit uninterrupted with myself and write.

Oh, yes, summer is most excellent, and I am happy to anticipate Autumn as well. Just as it should be.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Expression of Self

I searched this morning for a poem... to start my day and to express the mixture of emotions that mingle within me. Something by Merwin, I thought. But none that I found seemed right. There was a nice one by Neruda, translated by Merwin, but it seemed a bit too much. All those lines, all that going on and on about love - it just wasn't what I was looking for.

I read a sad article in the newspaper this morning. Another injustice. Another brutal misunderstanding. A man killed simply for being the wrong person with the wrong actions in the wrong place at the wrong time. Simply for being what he couldn't help being. That kind of thing makes me sad... sad for all of us that as much as we can love each other, as much as we are all joined together... still we have these horrible instants of miscomprehension. Sigh.

So I guess I wanted a poem that somehow said that. Somehow said that I am sorry that there is suffering in the world. And that no one should be hurt simply for being who they are.

Do you know which poem says that, and reminds us that there are still reasons for hope even so?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Accepting What IS

Over the last few years, I've made something of a study of happiness. You see, I wanted to be happy. So I paid attention to myself - really spent a lot of time getting to know who I am and what I care about. I paid attention to others, to my friends and their experiences, to how I saw their lives unfolding. And I did a bit of reading here and there, kept up with new studies, that kind of thing.

And to some extent, happiness can be created for oneself. At least, I have had good luck in creating my own happiness.

I started by taking a good look at things as they are. Then I focused on appreciating whatever I could. Whatever would give me a bit of hope. A tiny lift. A smile across my face.

Hope is a wonderful thing. And whatever gives you hope, you should nurture. You need to think that life may indeed get better in the future, no matter what your experiences have been up to this point. And Hope provides that.

Look at what is, what is around you right now. Then know that the more you can make peace with things as they are, the more Hope and Time can lift you into something better. Something more peaceful, more loving. More contented. Something like Happiness.

Everybody deserves a chance to experience that change for themselves.

Monday, August 1, 2011

So Far, So Good

A new month starts today, and I open my inbox to find new work assignments in it. Hurray!! I worked like a dog last week to finish everything I had committed to, and while I was happy to have a bit of a pause, I really don't need a gap where I have no work.

Then I would have to become more pro-active, either by writing and sending out a letter to targeted nonprofits advertising my grant writing services, or by writing and submitting these fiction pieces that are sort of bubbling around in the background.

But, whew, as long as I have assigned work, I get to give that priority and that gives a nice shape to my days.

I'm having a fabulous day anyway. My gorgeous -- truly gorgeous! and also brilliant -- older daughter is hanging out with me in the cafe. She's getting a taste of my "work life." So far we've shared a pizza and read aloud to each other from books designed to make math approachable to middle school girls. She likes math anyway as do I, but the books are still awesome fun. They are very narrative, use fun real life examples, and even have magazine-style quizzes! We just finished finding out our respective learning styles. Mine is visual, no surprise there, but hers is auditory. Good to know. Now she can talk out her studying as it becomes more advanced.

I already purchased multiple copies of the first book in this math series. It looks like I'll be tutoring at least two teen girls this year, in addition to keeping my own up to speed. I don't really like tutoring now. It's time intensive and doesn't pay nearly as well per hour as I can earn writing, but... BUT these are the daughters of friends and I want to see them do well. So it's mostly favor and some pay.

Plus my yoga subbing career is going very well. I am getting near universal acclaim from my students. I taught twice yesterday, and the first class was especially good. The students didn't even want to leave the studio -- they were so relaxed they hung around chatting with each other. My dad called last night to tell me that the sub they had in their slow, senior yoga class last week didn't do well at all. Even though he's a more experienced teacher with his own weekly classes, apparently he didn't understand the needs of challenged students. He didn't do adaptations. Before class ended, the elders were almost in revolt and were requesting me by name.

So, if that kind of feedback gets back to the studio owners, I hope they'll consider offering me my own weekly class someday. Before I was hesitant, but I think I'm ready to make that commitment now whenever the opportunity opens up. It really is fun to teach.

I guess what stuns my students most is my ability to learn and use up to 20 names of people I've never met before. That's just a lingering teacher skill -- when you're in a room of 35 restless adolescents an instant recall of names and a good rapport are essential!!

Oh, and before I forget-- those new fiction pieces: Blue Pineapple, set in and around downtown and featuring the creepy underground room of a popular cafe. Then, The Red-Headed Woodpecker (working idea) draws on the first hunting experience of a friend, set in a box narrative that shows it as a metaphor for struggles in adulthood. Or something like that. It's only idea energy right now, and there are lots of ways it could take shape, but writing it here will remind me of it. Cause I'm a visual learner. :)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

On Being Revered

Which is rather nice, I think, and something I could get used to...

In June, my husband and I celebrated 21 years of marriage. We are quite proud of that, quite proud that we've held on through thick and thin and continued to find each other worth the effort. Consider the fact that we were together five years before we married, and that makes thousands and thousands of days of putting up with each other's little habits. Thousands of days of laughing together at ridiculous jokes. Thousands and thousands of nights spent sleeping next to each other in the same bed.

In a Yahoo article a few weeks ago, the writer commented that since marriage is so hard, she reveres anyone who is married 20 years or more. "Honey," I exclaimed, "we are REVERED!" And it's been one of our jokes ever since.

Imagine how lovely it was, then, to go out with friends last Friday night. Unusually for us we were child-free, having packed the two lovely girls off to their grandparents for a sleepover and intergenerational bonding time. When our friends wanted to hit a club after dinner, we were in.

Over the din of the music, the six of us sat close together on wobbly stools and worn leather loveseats and tried to talk. P scored us rounds of free drinks and the conversation ebbed and flowed. My friends drifted off to dance, following the thumping trance beat trail down to the courtyard while my friend's new boyfriend shared his boyhood memories with me. Because both he and I love F, we were both making an effort to bond, recognizing our respective importance in her life. It was a poignant evening, all of us getting along with each other so well. F, C and I watched each other as only best friends can, paying attention to each other's interactions, knowing each other's secrets and hopes. Feeling so happy to see our friends looking happy and being cuddly and mushy with truly nice men.

I was delighted to kick back and observe, noting details that I tried to press into my writer's mind for use in later fiction. The wood paneling, the locked ice machine, the exposed soundproofing and the way a cockroach crawled slowly across the wall behind K's head -- the tang of my Cosmopolitian and the golden glow of the tumblers of whiskey they held in their hands -- the lonely hunger on the faces of the twenty-somethings in line for the bathroom -- I soaked it all up.

And through it all, there was S. Whenever I caught his eye, we smiled. He talked at one end of the group, me at the other, but the bond between us was strong. Later, I switched seats, coming to the barstool next to him where I could hold his hand and lay my head on his shoulder, where we made each other laugh with our wry observations.

Later, long after we were ready to have left, my friend F grabbed my hand and pulled me out to dance. The music pounded in the brick courtyard, and I tipped my head back to look up and up from the odd triangle of space we were in, tucked in between ancient three story buildings. At the top, a geometry of night sky showed a few pale stars. I gave myself to the dancing and the lights bouncing around over the crowd. I gave myself to being with my friends and just being in the moment. The blue and green laser display shot colors across the walls, now dots, now lines, and I found myself thinking of neural bursts and the way memories travel across our minds.

I had a friend once who lived in this town, right up the street from this club. I wondered if he had ever come here and felt a pang of regret for him that he probably hadn't. Oh, he would have loved this, I thought. This crush of bodies, the movement beneath the sky, a drift of cigarette smoke hanging over the dancing crowd and the insistent, inescapable beat. Wherever he is, I hope he is able to enjoy something similar.

And then S and the guys were there, moving through the crowd to find us. We fell into easy motion, dance rhythms that go back decades for S and me, back to when we first started dancing as uneasy teenagers. His smiling face is the same one I've looked into for most of the dances in my life, and I had a surreal sense of time falling away, of being back to that ageless sensation of adolescence.

That's when people started to notice us. First, it was looks and smiles. Then they nodded at us. As we kept dancing, we started to garner compliments. "You two look beautiful together." "You look so happy." Apparently, my dress was gorgeous, according to several women who passed by.

By closing time, S and I were hanging in the bar, waiting for our people to regroup. F staggered in, a bit too filled with whisky and joy, in search of water. She came over to me and threw her arms around me. "I have to tell you. You are so beautiful," she said warmly, in her soft drunken French accent.

"Thank you," I replied, steadying her a bit.

"No, really, you are so beautiful. I love you, " she started to cry. "It is just so good to see you looking so happy. You and S look so happy together. You give me hope."

She's had a bit of a rough time with relationships. I rubbed her back gently. "I love you too."

"It's not because I'm drunk," she continued. "Well, I AM drunk, but it's still true."

"I know, F, I know." This friend knows all my problems and hardships. She's been privy to the challenges of my life. And she was telling me that she saw me really, truly happy. Because I was.

My marriage is bringing hope and comfort to my best friends. As I said, it's good to be revered. And I feel we have earned it.

On a side note, the drunken French woman and her equally drunken boyfriend did not operate a motor vehicle. We saw them safely transported home, but not before there were even more proclamations of love and joy all around. It's pretty fun to be the sober ones.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sigh of Relief

Whew. At last I finished my work for July. Just under the wire.

Today has been an arduous, uphill slog. I am distracted and anxious, have almost no focus. Plus I had to write about a residential treatment facility for troubled children. Residential treatment is the last thing I have patience for or want to think about right now.

I am so glad to have this new writing collaboration, but she has really been funneling a lot of work to me. I still need to work for my own clients as well.

Still, now, I have earned some reward time. I'm ready to get away from all this stress.


I HAVE to WRITE!!! I'm on a deadline!!

Up and At 'Em

I'm awake early this morning. That's a bad thing only because I did not go to sleep early last night - I was busy working til almost midnight. And I love to get enough sleep! But it's a good thing because I have more work to do and I feel like that energy has pulled me up from bed.

It's rather lovely in the morning. Everything is quiet and soft around the edges. The sky is grey, turning to pink, and the birds are chirping quietly. Even my two dogs are calm. I watch them through the front window where they lie peacefully on our driveway, surveying their terrain. They are sweethearts who greet me happily when I open the front door to let them in.

I thrilled our neighbor yesterday. I flagged him down as he drove along the street. "I think it's time to fix that fence," I said. "We'll scrape the money up. Let's get some bids and get it done before the winds start." A huge grin spread across his face. Okay, Bob, we get the point; you're tired of having our dogs out all the time. Okay.

Yesterday was a good day. I got so much done. It's been an intense week. There have been social obligations, and I've had a full docket of work projects, and then there have been extra stressors. Considering everything, we've done very nicely at staying calm and taking one thing at a time.

Monday, our daughter J went to Sea World with a friend. I love the friend and trust her mom, but that was the farthest away from us that J has ever been, and I don't think either one of us breathed easy until she was back in our home, with us hugging her.

Tuesday was devoted entirely to birthday party. My parties are big events and because B's birthday is in summer, I feel like she gets shorted on the festivities sometimes. But this one was a blowout, up to even her rather exact standards.

Wednesday was me working and then gymnastics class for the girls, and always, of course, errands.

Yesterday was a good day. Yesterday, we finally sat down together and got the latest round of bills paid. Check. I caught up laundry. Check. We tidied the house. Check. We went for lunch and for a hike in the lovely weather. Check. I planned my yoga class. Check. I taught yoga. Check. AND I finished five more proposals. CHECK! Now I only have two more to get through this morning, and I earn a bit of breathing space.

Yoga class was as super as always. Students seem to enjoy my style. I think when they realize that I'm the sub they have low expectations. But I've got a very good, warm teaching energy. As S said, I've got the patter. I never thought of it that way before, but I do. I have a soothing stream of narration that I use during the poses, even some jokes I throw in. Before they know it, they are warm and then they are stretching out tense areas and then they are working hard and then they are... ah... relaxing. Subbing for this teacher is particularly easy because my style is so much more comforting than hers that students are markedly enjoying themselves. About 3/4 of the way through class last night, they started to comment on that, almost as if I wasn't there, about how fun the class was and how unusually good but relaxed they felt.

I've had two different magician friends over for dinner within the last week. Both of them were kind enough to do card tricks and discuss their approach to magic a bit. I realized yesterday that there are magic tricks to yoga as well. It's such an energetic form that it lends itself to a bit of manipulation.

If I get people working their spines, they'll feel good. If I get people breathing more openly, they'll feel good. If I put them through a vigorous sequence, they'll feel good. If I cue them to be still and tune in, they'll feel good. And if I put them flat on the floor, still and with music pouring over them, they will leave class stunned by how much they enjoyed it.

I also have my tricks. Every person has poses they excel at and poses that challenge them. Like I don't love triangle or the warriors right now, and I can't even come close to doing cow-faced pose. But I have natural hamstring flexibility. So if I want to impress, I just do a hamstring opening sequence and...ta-da... I'm a pro! Not that different from sleight of hand?

The real truth though is that people don't care about my body, they care about their own bodies. So when my instruction guides them into a pose, they get to experience that. When my correction helps them to achieve a different result, they enjoy that fine-tuning. And all of that is simply good classroom management and a solid knowledge of my curriculum. Ta da!

Okay, two more proposals right now, and we get to spend the rest of today and maybe tomorrow having fabulous fun in Pasadena or Los Angeles. I've promised myself all week. And then Sunday, I teach again. A double feature even. Oh, yeah, and my fabulous friends are having another party. That ought to be awesome.

And next week...finally...I get back to the story I started in June, the story I started for my friend A, just because she and I were hanging out together when I banged the first few paragraphs out and she told me what she wanted to read about. And then... submissions again. Yeah, looking forward to that to.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011



I mentioned this poem by Elizabeth Bishop in my June 27 post - which I guess makes it a month ago. It was one of my favorites in Garrison Keillor's anthology. I like it because I think it captures some of the caring that goes into a good friendship, and the sharing of experiences together that I have found with my lovely girlfriends. (One of whom confessed, in tears, that she loved me last weekend. But that's a different story!)

Letter to NY
For Louise Crane

In your next letter I wish you'd say
where you are going and what you are doing;
how are the plays and after the plays
what other pleasures you're pursuing:

taking cabs in the middle of the night,
driving as if to save your soul
where the road goes round and round the park
and the meter glares like a moral owl,

and the trees look so queer and green
standing alone in big black caves
and suddenly you're in a different place
where everything seems to happen in waves,

and most of the jokes you just can't catch,
like dirty words rubbed off a slate,
and the songs are loud but somehow dim
and it gets so teribly late,

and coming out of the brownstone house
to the gray sidewalk, the watered street,
one side of the buildings rises with the sun
like a glistening field of wheat.

--Wheat, not oats, dear. I'm afraid
if it's wheat it's none of your sowing,
nevertheless I'd like to know
what you are doing and where you are going.


My husband is listening to a Men at Work song. I remember we saw an episode of Scrubs once that featured this song throughout the entire show. The singer Colin Hay literally just followed the main character around, singing. Pretty funny.

Tonight, the song makes me think of my friend B. Before the party broke up last night, we pulled out the Tarot cards. Her husband reads Tarot and does magic as well. I'm a primarily intuitive reader, consciously not deeply educated about card meanings, so I was curious to know if he would interpret the cards similarly to me. I did a reading for my friend C and then for D's wife B. It was fun - almost a collaborative effort, with us confering together and discussing what we each saw. B wanted the reading badly, and it was clear from the cards that she has some unconscious stuff going on that she was trying to hold back. She said she'd had a lot of trouble sleeping lately.

"I can't get to sleep/ I think about the implications/ Of diving in too deep/ And possibly the complications/ Especially at night/I worry over situations/I know I will be alright/Perhaps it's just imagination"


Okay, I wrote out some of my feelings. I took a few deep breaths. I walked in the sun.

Things can be okay. Please, can things just be a bit calm and balanced?

I don't want to make any extreme decisions. I don't want to slam doors shut OR open them wide.

I don't want to give up my blog, or writing, or having this means of expression. I want to look forward to the next few weeks, to focusing again on work, to having ME time in a calm and contented way.

I get to be a yoga teacher this month. It's a realization that is just now creeping up on me as my other projects get finished up. Several teachers are taking vacation, and I am filling in for them. I'll be teaching three times a week throughout August.

I don't feel like a yoga teacher. I feel overweight and out of shape, a bit removed from myself. When my favorite studio went out of business, its absence was a wound that turned me away from a regular practice. It almost hurt too much to do yoga without my guru. But it hurts not to do it also. So I guess the Universe is nudging me back into it. And I've noticed that no matter how distant I feel, I am quite a good teacher. Students like my classes and my instructional style. I know my stuff well enough to put a good class together. Ahh, lesson planning. That I can do.

Ugh. I'm in one of those weird mixed up moods this morning. The anxiety is spinning around inside like Dorothy's tornado; the black storm clouds of Depression are hovering at the edges of my mind as well; a low pressure system is poised to sweep over my entire being.

It's too bad really, becasue I have quite a lot of work to do in the next few days. I managed to beat the deadline on a proposal yesterday, much to the amazement of my friends, and I have SEVEN more that I need to finish and submit between now and Friday. So there is no choice. No matter what my mood, I will need to pull my focus together and produce.

My workload is one reason my blogging has taken a back seat lately. Also I have simply been busy. Summer is an occupied time for our family and between family activities and social events if I do find myself with some computer time, I tend to spend it working.

A big makeover project in my daughter's bedroom took every waking hour for seven days. That was more time than I budgeted for, but it came out lovely, and she is happy. And I am glad to finally have things back in the rooms where they belong.

Yesterday was my younger daughter's BIG birthday party. For the last three days, my time has been all about her. We shopped and planned and made games. We cleaned and decorated. Yesterday we spent all day preparing and then running her party. Really, it was TWO parties. There was one group of kids in the backyard, playing carnival games and eating nachos and cotton candy. Then there were some of my best friends, the parents of those kids, in my dining room. They quite contentedly enjoyed wine and cheese and conversation. The parties would blend together and then split apart again in an easy flow. I'm known in our circle for my fabulous social events, so people were quite happy to stay and stay. The last guests didn't leave until almost eleven pm, and I was exhausted when I fell into bed after midnight.

Which made it hard this morning to wake up to my husband coming back into the bedroom - he ALWAYS wakes up before me and drinks coffee!- and realizing that he was in a bad mood. Turns out that the constant stream of phone calls are just about more than he can stand. He simply isn't ready to deal with conversation or friendship or any kind of contact. And the more he feels pushed, the more he feels upset. Yesterday, he was reminding me that he will not tolerate any more betrayal from me. He is ready to leave if that happens. Fair enough. I appreciate his fears and his position. For my part, I am completely uninterested in betrayal. I am happy here in my life. I am quite happy with him. I'm not looking for any drama, upheaval, or change.

So, the third reason I haven't blogged lately -- I've simply been unsure what to write about. The re-appearance in our lives of D makes me want to be very careful and take things very slowly. My response under stressful situations is to be friendly and kind. As I told my husband this morning, that is the best tool in my toolbox. It is the one that has worked consistently for me in a variety of difficult situations.

But how about distant compassion? A little space, for God's sake!

I appreciate the attempts at reconciliation. I'm even willing to consider that they may be sincere, and not just carefully crafted manipulations intended to entrap me in a compromising situation that can only bring upheaval to my life. But I am simply not ready to talk. My husband is absolutely not ready to talk -- and may never be. And the escalating contacts are offputting and frightening. I need more space to sort through my own feelings and be true to my own best interests. I need time and understanding of my commitment to my husband and to consideration of his feelings first. And I can give myself all of those things; I don't have to ask them from anyone else. This is something I've learned over these last years.

I'm not even sure I want to reconcile. I'm not sure that this friendship can ever bring enough positives into our lives to outweigh its inherent negatives. My husband, of course, would be happy enough to move forward with no contact again, ever. He feels threatened and harrassed and will not tolerate that at all. I'm slower to cut all ties. I've always been a believer in amiability. But it's not amiable to call someone who has specifically asked not to be called. And it's not friendly to put your own needs ahead of your friends'.

This probably isn't my most coherent post ever. But it's mine. I gave up blogging here because I felt uncomfortable and over-exposed. I'm coming back to it because I refuse to give up my voice no matter what the circumstances.

Look, the last few years were hard. They hurt everybody. I made some poor choices and things were difficult; I started making good choices and things got great. I don't want to put myself back into the position of making poor choices. I'm not willing to do that to me, to my family, to my husband, to all my friends who count on me. I'm not willing to do it to my friend. Because that is what loyalty, compassion, and caring look like -- not doing things rashly that may hurt yourself or someone else.