Thursday, December 11, 2014

Stunning Violin

These moments entranced my older daughter and created a desire to play the violin. She has already saved up the money and purchased one. Now she is begging for lessons.

The Best/Danny Elfman Part of the Concert!

What an incredible way to wrap up a fantastic Halloween weekend! Festival at the elementary school; major trick or treating with friends and family, candy and pumpkins; Dias de los Muertos in the oldest European settlement on the West Coast; Danny Elfman with incredible music!!!

Amazing Orchestra, Amazing Night!

Actually Homework (Well, Extra Credit)

Je me languis de l'inconnu...

Actually a line from a song my daughter is learning for extra credit from French II.

With our first trip to Disneyland occurring last year, we've been really into The Nightmare Before Christmas and Danny Elfman's music this year.

We saw him in the MOST amazing concert on Halloween weekend, singing songs from the film. Just like the 90s! Both daughters love, love, love his music and talent.

So, now, my eldest has found the lyrics to Jack's Lament in French and is using her strong musical and language skills to memorize them for extra credit.

That's how we roll... we're late to school every day... but we're singing in French with our time together.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

While Typing... Christmas Creeps In...

No matter how many times I watch "Love Actually," by the end, it always makes me cry. All those different types of love... all those stories intertwining...

I realize that I am showing love by typing 70 pages of World History notes so that my daughter will be able to assemble her notebook before it is due. Even mad busy, Christmas still creeps in around the edges, flavors the still air, and hovers in the drifting afternoon light.

Friday, October 17, 2014

In the Rushing of a Single Moment

Everything circles and
Spirals around. The waves push the
Sand to and fro. Patterns form and
Dissolve as quickly. Footprints
pressed so firmly into being
Vanish with no trace left behind
To show the passing there

Striving, always striving, in the
To and Fro, in the push and pull
we walk the shoreline hand in
Hand, or yet alone, or yet in
Groups, laughter and calling to
And fro.

Patterns, shifting, striving, the
Work of the pattern, the work of breaking
Through, breaking through the work,
Breaking through into life. What matters?
What should we do? What matters?
The work of breaking through, the foot
Presses against the sand
Impression made and then erased. The
To and Fro, the breaking, breaking
Waves of the shore, of work, of life.
What matters?
To and Fro...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

More Articles about Walking Speed and Overall Health

Slow walking speed is an issue I'm seeing in my parents -- and to some extent, myself-- with advancing age. My curiosity about this drove me to do a bit of research. Below are some useful articles I'd like to refer to in the future, especially in teaching my yoga classes.

Older people who walk quickly tend to live longer than those who slow way down as they age, found a new study.

Excerpt from Article listed above:

The findings do not mean that slow walkers are doomed to die early, the researchers warn. Nor will intentionally pushing yourself to hustle keep you young.

Instead, the study suggests that, like blood pressure and cholesterol levels, the pace that you feel comfortable walking at can be a simple sign of your overall health.

In turn, a simple walking test could help doctors and patients make decisions about when to perform certain screening tests -- and when not to.

"We are not saying that if you just go out and walk faster, you will live longer. Absolutely not," said Stephanie Studenski, a geriatrician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and at the Veteran Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System. "We are saying your body selects a walking speed that is best for you based on the health of all your body systems."

"The best way to live as long and well as you can is to be in the best health you can be," she added. "Walking speed might help you reflect or monitor how healthy you are."

There has long been a sense that slowing down is an ominous sign of aging, and not just in people. As pets get older, they may need more rest stops during their morning walks. Even C. elegans worms that wiggle slowly die sooner than worms of the same age that wiggle more quickly.

"Whether you're conscious of it or not, you may feel like grandpa's doing pretty good because he's got a spring in his step, he's out moving around, and he looks lively. But I'm worried about Aunt Mary because she's slowing down a lot," Studenski said. "The observation that there's something about how well you move that reflects health is almost implicit in human experience."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Over the last five weeks, I have completed a workload that would normally take me four months - at the insistence of the client, which meant I could not really decline. Not if I hoped to earn that four months' worth of income.

I have also been highly involved with helping the girls adjust to school's demands for the year. I had 10 teacher conferences just last week.

Now, the work is done. I'm back to my "regular" schedule.

I feel like I am crawling out from under a huge, heavy boulder. Blinking in the bright light and slowly looking around to see what the rest of life is like. A little bit weightless after that oppressive load.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


School - ugh!

I was so much better at it my first time through. Everything has changed so much, and it has become so much harder. I don't know where all this pressure and expectation is leading, but it doesn't seem healthy.

We are all so stressed out now about everything.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Reading, analyzing, answering questions, defining vocabulary - because I love to write so much there is a measure of joy for me in the homework that my daughter brings home from English class. There aren't that many places in day to day life where an in-depth understanding of literary devices is called for. It is a fun break to dive into analysis, comprehension, figurative language.

I learned a new one this week, one of my favorite devices in my own writing, a structure that I return to again and again -- asyndeton !

Biased Standards

So... my older daughter is turning out to be quite differently-abled. Even though she is super smart, these disorders are causing her to struggle with regular school in a way that we never, ever expected. Mothering her through the school day is non-stop exhaustion, with me working hard to support her from the moment I wake her up until we slog through our four or five hours of daily homework and re-teaching of concepts and drop into bed completely spent.

Time wise, it would be much more effective for me to simply home school her. In the five hours a day we spend doing required (often busy-) work, I could teach the equivalent of the 3.5 hours of instruction she gets in each subject each week. That would free up about nine hours per day for her. But, no, she wants to stay in school and do it the usual way. So on we persist.

This year, I've crossed a line. I've always helped her by doing her work with her, prompting her and guiding her to understand. Because of her speed difficulties, I've encouraged her to dictate work to me and I type it. But this year, as she drowns in Chemistry and flounders in math, I've taken over her English homework.

Just leave it to me, I said. I'll just do it for you so that the pressure is off there. And I did. I read all five short stories for the short story unit. I discussed them with her. I wrote the answers to the questions. I discussed those with her. It is actually a valid teaching method, a very good way of exposing someone to a literate mentality and bringing them along into it. The problem is... I'm only getting C's on the assignments.

Yep. C.

Thanks to my help, she is barely passing English.

Apparently, I forgot to double-space. Apparently, I did not adequately explain the function of literary devices. I'm like, look, lady, I USE literary devices on a daily basis.

Apparently, my bachelor's and master's degrees in English (where I had the top grades in the classes), my twelve years as a secondary English teacher, and my current career as a professional writer have all left me unable to successfully analyze literature. Hmm. Oh, and I forgot to double-space. (Because I do so much business writing where single-spacing is the gold standard.)

It's a little bit of karmic justice. A little bit of the absurd. It is a big dollop of the reality that grading is pretty darn arbitrary and that what an authority figure says about you or your work is not necessarily valid. Or predictive of actual life skills. In that, these low grades are a brilliant lesson for my daughter and reassurance for her not to take it all TOO seriously. Life has a way of working out despite what people say. :)

We've moved on now to To Kill a Mockingbird. My family is having great fun reading it aloud together and discussing it, really going over the concepts. I have slowly increased the effort I am putting into the Chapter reading check assignments. I've moved from a solid C to a B- and am edging my way up to a B+. I am routinely writing more than 1000 words per assignment, a level of work that in the real world would bring in $500- $2,000 in pay.

I hope to get an A some day.

Well Said!

Here is the refrain to my song today:
Life can be hard. A constant string of challenges and obstacles.
Find some moments that bring you joy.
Embrace them. Let them light the rest of your day.
Rest in the happy spots, like an oasis in the struggles.
( Hey, look at that. I have an off-rhyme ABBA pattern. Without even meaning to.)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Autumn Arrival

I walked into the backyard earlier, and a single leaf floated down from the trees. It drifted past my face in a perfect spiral of autumn arriving. Finally, it feels like a new season.

The weather lately has been relentless. So hot and burning. Nonstop. Like the demands of life.

But now, there is a hint of chill in the air. A coolness like hope of things improving. Hang in there, everybody.

Just hang in there. The seasons will change. The obligations will ease. Autumn will come.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Beach Day

Palm trees
Gentle breeze
Blue sky
Happy sigh

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


This blog feels somewhat archaic to me lately, like a yellowed photo album, or a trunk of old clothes, in impossibly small sizes with tiny waists, found in the back of a great-aunt's attic, with the lace on the dresses worn and crinkled with age.

I think about updating it - removing old content, giving it a fresh look and focus - a virtual scrub and paint - but I am too lazy and too busy to bother. Besides it has a beauty as it is, with its old photos from years ago in my life, from an era that has now slowly passed by for me, the time of my children being actual children instead of the young adults they are becoming, the time of my thirties when I thought I knew who I was, but I was still on the path to becoming the person I am now. Walking the path and learning many lessons, some hard, some needed, some glorious - all of those days and experiences shaping me into the person that fits into this life.

It's impossible to simply throw this away. No one throws away those garments, those photo albums. Even when you don't recognize anyone within their pages, even when you squint and flip without recollection past those grainy black-and-white poses of young, smiling couples in front of the round body of a shiny car, even then, you recognize the hope and presence in their faces, and even unknown to you, you respect that the photo documents a live as it is being lived.

So... maybe I will come here from time to time. Pick up a fountain pen and spill some ink across these creased pages. If readers come to flip through this souvenir, to marvel at this outdated mode of expression, then I will as well. Just to put something on positive value and weight out into the Universe.

From last month:

The translucent water crests into a curl of foam, the loft and heft of the wave lifted upward into the summer sky.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Courtesy of the CBTL info TV:

You've gained more than you've lost. Maintain that perspective today and be proud.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Pre-Summer Break

In a happy café, in a happy, old routine today. After several months of fairly intense work, I finished a ton of stuff by some deadlines yesterday. So today I'm taking it easy... just browsing the Farmer's Market and having a nice sandwich and frozen coffee in an old school neighborhood café.

I have the joy of more work that I can get to when I'm ready to feel productive, but since it's the end of the month, I've got a bit of space and I can take it at my own pace.

It's the last Friday of the school year. Thank God. Another one down, and a well earned break coming up!!

Hope everyone is looking forward to summer as much as I am. :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cardboard Lunch

For lunch, I am eating a sandwich in a gluten-free bakery. It is a huge mistake!

My Best Efforts

Lately I've been wanting to write here more often. For a long time, I took a break - and it was wonderful. I had a lovely feeling of space and independence in my life. I worked hard at my other projects. I'm quite proud of myself for getting more clients this year, and increasing my workload; it feels good -- productive and self-sustaining, responsible, all of that. It's often quite time consuming as well. But lately, I miss the fun of writing stuff, just stuff. Just for me.

Indeed, 2014 has been a busy year. Strange and unexpected events keep occurring, and my energies keep being directed in all sorts of good and necessary directions. But I love writing here. I love the warmth of it. And maybe I love the kindness of it too -- the feeling of being open and caring and trusting in the good part's of life's flow.

I thought I might try some little essays here - short bits. And maybe some poems again, which I haven't been moved to write for quite a while.

And maybe some fiction. Compact pieces are always fun and satisfying.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Accomplishment - Yes!

I'm feeling rather proud of myself at this moment. I just re-formatted a client's letterhead, changing it for the better.

For the last few years, they've been saving all of their documents in separate files, split by each page, because they had one letterhead for the first page and one for the rest. It was ridiculous!

Today, I was formatting some LOIs for them and I refused to do it that way. I thought, there MUST be a way to make this letterhead let me paste in multiple pages! And then I tweaked it around until I figured it out! And created a new master Letterhead for future use.

Yay, me!

I never think of myself as being all that computer-savvy or technical, but some stuff is just common sense.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Second Chance at the Eclipse

I was kinda bummed out that I missed the lunar eclipse.

Especially since I was awake and sitting in my kitchen, doing taxes. I mean, how hard is it to remember to walk outside and look up?

So, I'm pretty thrilled to find out that there's another chance coming up. That's right. On October 8, there will be another impressive lunar eclipse. I think there might even be two others during 2014. All I know is that I am writing it on my calendar.

And hopefully, it doesn't rain. And I remember!!

Friday, April 18, 2014


I've kind of been falling behind on my blogging lately. Of course, I've kind of been falling behind on everything lately, slowly and bit by bit. I've been doing a good job at it actually. I am behind enough that it is almost a problem, and then I catch back up in that area, while inevitably ignoring another aspect of my life. Then I catch it up, while something else slips a little. And so forth. It's like a slow juggling routine where I am regularly dropping the balls but then scooping them back up before they roll completely out of reach. :) I got in trouble with my boss, because I missed an actual deadline with a funder. Whoops. Then she took back some of my work. I had been quite busy with helping the girls with school stuff, and also with my demanding new client. And then taxes at the last minute! Got them done. Yay!! I am sad to say though, and quite chagrined, that I completely missed the lunar eclipse. I was awake during the entire thing - hard at work on the taxes due later that day. I just didn't think to go outside. So much for being part of a nature-loving spiritual tradition. I guess that's just not me.:) Nature is so complicated, and there are so many phases of the moon, and growing seasons, and so forth. I don't know how the pagans did it. I guess they weren't trying to keep their blogs updated as well. I've also been subbing yoga classes every single day. And we managed to work in a visit to the Los Angeles Festival of Books last weekend - which is always awesome - and was super amazing this year because we took our daughters and their friends and had a great meet-and-greet with Sandra Cisneros! I got some great quotes from her, that I'll try to get up here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I Just...

 ... don't have as much to say as I used to.

Guess things change over time.

Maybe someday I will say more again.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

March March

Here I am. At my desk.

One week of break gone, one week to go.

San Diego was beautiful as always. Even though I worked throughout our stay there, and so did not achieve quite the feeling of peace and relaxation that I was seeking, still the surroundings were gorgeous. We spent a long afternoon just hanging around Old Town, sitting here and there and drinking in the beauty of the historic setting as well as some yummy coffee beverages. We ate roasted sweet nuts and browsed the little shops.

My work progresses, progresses quite well in matter of fact. Kudos received from my new boss, and despite my feeling of being behind in everything, the results show that I am completing and submitting right on schedule.

Looking ahead now to the next batch of work for April and about to work with my new client to devise a calendar for the rest of 2014. So... fun?

Mostly fun, yes.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Perhaps More Words

I wonder if I should start writing here again.

I've been very busy lately, with lots of good things, and it has been easy to let the habit of this blog lapse under the constant pressure of work deadlines and other life demands. But I do sort of miss the regularity of hearing my own voice. My voice without constraints or deadlines, not attempting to craft the best answer to a question, but simply being here and flowing.

I like telling stories, and I like noting details that then become a tapestry of my life's experiences, crazy quilted together to make a flowing whole.

Outside the window of the hotel. the palm trees wave in a cloud-sent breeze and I could be on Tahiti or in Hawaii, instead of much closer to my home. I have the solitude of this room, with the need to meet a deadline. But I'm not alone, not really, as my family waits for me by the pool, hoping that I will shrug aside my work long enough to join them in their fun.

Childhood is fleeting, and my own daughters' is quickly receding into the past, leaving lovely young women in their place, but making me appreciate and want to maximize every moment of play with them that yet remains.

Life is fleeting, and here, from my vantage point of mid-age, I both savor my youth that is not quite entirely spent and embrace the stately older age that is quickly coming towards me, whether I am ready or not, taking me inexorably along to my future where I will be even older (and, one hopes, even wiser, even richer, even happier, and all of that). I easily see myself older, a grey haired lady with her errands and clubs, a grandmother with responsibilities, a civic figure of some sort. The plump writer of children's stories. The matronly but competent leader. And so, as best I can, I do try to enjoy today. Even as life presents a never-ending series of problems and discomforts and new issues to address, I try to remember to simply enjoy today. And to be grateful. And to smile.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Everything Happens...

Billy: Please don't say "for a reason."
Penny: I wasn't going to. Everything... happens.

Just wrote this email below to a colleague. Wanted to give her some words to boost her up and let her know that even though it's tough, she and her family are not alone. We all go through tough things sometimes, some of us for longer than others. But none of us are ever really alone. "Be kind, because everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle about which you know nothing." And, in the end, everything happens.

"Personally, I am so sorry to hear that you are stressed out. And, now, in pain! :( I so totally empathize with you - I would hate being in such an up-in-the-air situation. I hope that it can resolve for you guys as quickly and optimally as possible. And that you can get settled into just the perfect situation all around!

You guys are just the sweetest family in the world and I wish you weren't having to go through this uncertainty. If there is anything I can do, please let me know. So far, I figure the best way I can help is by simply doing the work you give me as quickly and dependably as possible. But if there IS anything else...

I know that I have been through some hard times in my life where it felt like everything was shifting around me and there was no certainty. In those times, it helped me to just put a lot of faith in God and try to live moment by moment with an open, accepting attitude, waiting to see what would come next. I just tried to not obsess, to stay calm, count my blessings, and take whatever positive action I could. And ultimately everything does work out for the best and I think now my life is even better than it ever was. I hope something like that can help your family too!


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I Cannot Believe My Eyes

Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog has been a big hit with my family since...well...ever. Joss Whedon is a genius storyteller and a master of craft. Of all the songs, this one gets stuck in my head the most. I like it because it is both bitter and hopeful simultaneously, so encompasses a span of emotions. And it seems to be in my natural singing range, so I can sing along with it fairly comfortably.

To me, this song is also about the choices we make, and how the perspective we choose to take influences the way we experience the world. We've all been both places, but it's up to each of us to decide where to stay.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Butler Says...

"The business of life is the acquisition of memories.
In the end, that's all there is."
- Mr. Carson

Downton Abbey, Season 4, Episode 4

I LOVE this show!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Research into Theory of Mind Demonstrates a Need for Fiction

Most of my writing these days in fact-based; despite having a third story published this year, I don't really think of myself as trying to write fiction lately. But maybe I should revisit that. Turns out that fiction, contrary to what 47 states' new educational standards say, is vital to the development of understanding other people. Yes, just as the CCSS calls for an increase in the amount of non-fiction being taught in Language Arts classes, and a decrease of fiction, new brain research is showing that reading fiction acts on our brains in fascinating ways.

Here's an opinion piece from the New York Times:

"Your Brain on Fiction
By Annie Murphy Paul
March 17, 2012

AMID the squawks and pings of our digital devices, the old-fashioned virtues of reading novels can seem faded, even futile. But new support for the value of fiction is arriving from an unexpected quarter: neuroscience.       

Brain scans are revealing what happens in our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters. Stories, this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life..."

And here's what the Los Angeles Times had to say:

Another Use for Literature
December 29, 2013

"... Developmental psychologists track when children first display this ability by testing them with stories like this: 'Every day, Sally puts her beloved toy rabbit Stuffy on her pillow before going to preschool. One day, after Sally leaves for school, her father notices that Stuffy is quite dirty and puts him in the washing machine. He intends to then put him in the dryer, but forgets. When Sally returns from school that day, she wants to tell her friend Stuffy about her day. Where would she expect to find him?'

A child who has not yet developed the skills of theory of mind will say, 'In the washing machine.' The child knows where Stuffy is from having heard the story, and so assumes that Sally must know this too. Only when a child has developed the intuitive ability to put herself in another's shoes can she recognize that Sally would not know about the laundering, because it happened after she left for school, and so would look for Stuffy on her bed...

Now, research by David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano of the New School for Social Research, published in the journal Science, suggests that reading literature improves these intuitive abilities. But not just any literature. Literature with a capital L."

Intriguing stuff. It's definitely making me value my own habit of reading good writing on a daily basis.