Sunday, December 26, 2010


I remember Christmas as a small girl in a remote Montana outpost that Christmas meant my mother creating magic in one room of the oilfield bungalow that replaced the gracious Victorian ranch house no longer ours. For that moment our parents stepped out the glorious past into a trip to the Sweet Grass Hills. The fragrant tree was decorated with spun glass fruits collected by our mother in San Francisco. Under it four gifts, purchased from Sears' catalog, beckoned to my brothers and me. I received a doll, but I secretly coveted the wooden barn and farm animals given to my brother Pat.
Today I am glad it is the day after Christmas. The highlights were sending and receiving cards and letters to far away friends and family during the Advent Season. I love decorating though this year fewer of the heirlooms traveled from the guest house basement to the adobe house and the white Christmas tree with its silver and white ornaments.
I did not bake countless little loaves of bread and fruit cakes soaked in brandy.. I did prepare gingerbread dough for grandchildren, Sophie, Lauren, Joseph and Bobby to roll into gingerbread people.
I once had creches displayed on every fireplace, and table top. This year there was one on the altar for photographs of our lost loved ones, beginning with Dennis, my beloved son who died almost twelve years ago.
My manuscript on aging advanced with a couple of long writing sessions and then all the fun of family arriving, and celebrating Christmas Eve with a festive dinner, and Christmas day with a lot of relaxation, walks with the dogs, and preparing beef stroganoff with Shauna for dinner. The kids had a great time with the Christmas crackers.
It is interesting to me that our spiritual beliefs may evolve, but our devotions to old traditions may not. And so we are allowed to return to the magic of childhood if only for a holiday moment.

Monday, December 6, 2010


In my seventies, I think of what a good parent I could be today now that I am too old for the job. I also remember blaming my mother for almost everything that ever went wrong in her life. I denounced her values. I was impatient with her tentativeness. I never accepted her as a good role model, and only now do I realize how much I have become like her.
You will know when you have actually become a mature adult because you will be able to see your parents as the two people they are separate from their parent roles. It is amazing to begin to understand why they parented the way they did. It is also comforting to know that the things you disliked the most in them are what you avoided most in your own relationship with your children. Examples would be physical punishment or shaming as a form of discipline.
We never cease having a child within, and that child never ceases looking for someone to soothe his pain, to love him when he least deserves it. That person may be a parent of choice rather than an actual parent, but they are out there, and you will be aware of them as they come in to your life at different times. Meanwhile trying to appreciate what your parents went through is helpful.
For me, parenting was the toughest job I ever did. I never felt up to the task but did the best I could at the time. I would like to do it over again now that I have gained a higher degree of wisdom to do so.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Losing your voice

1.You lose your voice as a young child when you are hushed for speaking, for laughing, for reaching for a toy.
2. You lose your voice when a teacher disapproves your rabbit that doesn't look like hers.
3. You lose your voice when you are not respected by adults who expect you to respect them.
4, You lose your voice when your gender or sexual preference is diminished.
5. You lose your voice when your rights as a human being are not upheld.
1.I recovered my voice as a woman in circles of women and men who understood.
2.I gained my voice as a poet from my readers.
3.I learned real freedom as an older woman.
4. I have spent my adult life helping others to free themselves from psychological bondage.
5. Our voices need never be less in order for other voices to be more.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Imperfect World

My new book, It's Only Raven Laughing, is in my hands, and after countless rounds of proofreading, the fish pictograph is upside down, and there is a period where one should not be. I can only say, that I tried hard to avoid that happening. I sent countless sets of proofs back regarding the position of the pictograph!
And now it is time to move on to new endeavors, my poems on aging, more New Mexico poems, and just being in the now in this beautiful time of year with flower seeds sprouting, and me forgetting some of what I scattered across the terraces. Half the fun is guessing what is coming up next.
I am thinking of the fact that we gardeners create gardens for ourselves. Few other people will see them, and when they do, they will not be aware that they are looking at sore backs andarthritic hands, not to mention contented hearts!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Reasons to Write or Not

1. Struggling with the final typos in my new book, I am wondering why I write at all.
2. The truth is that I have written my way through a large part of my life, and yet my next book
is calling me even more than the one that is barely launched, It's Only Raven Laughing.
3. My new book, Too Personal for Words, is written from a freer part of my persona. It approaches aging with humor and sometimes frustration and fear. It looks back at
events in my life that I have not been able to face until recently.
4. I write because I have to. For you it may be painting or collecting, or placing another pin
in your travel map that keeps you motivated. I have other interests too, but it is here with my worn Mac that makes each day feel complete.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Change and Transition

How many of us can say that change is easy. Do you agree that once we make up our mind that something needs to change in our lives, that we do what we need to do to make it happen? Or do you fail on your first try? Do you make pros and cons lists about benefits and losses for each side? You make your decision and regret it.
One of the hardest behaviors to see through to a satisfactory outcome is the change that is essential if we are going to deal with countless transitions in our life. Transition is something we are constantly confronted with. It may be developmental...growing older, changing schools, changing jobs, moving in or out of a relationship, changing the family dynamic such as a new baby, stopping a behavior that is affecting you negatively such as smoking or substance addiction, new job, losing a spouse or other very close relative or friend. These are only examples.
More about transition next time. How to move through it, and to discover that there is gain as well as loss in the changes you have had to enact.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Booze and work
were the family's
preferred addictions.
I could have kept drinking
after that first draught
of dandelion wine
from a wooden barrel
when I was five,
but I saw more smiles
when I dusted and picked
up stuff left lying around.
I became a fixer,
couldn't stop fixing
and rescuing and placating
and working harder
until I was the one
who needed fixing.

Monday, April 26, 2010

surviving aging with grace

Aging is not a laughing matter. Don't put too much credence in the romance of retirement. Some of us are better at it than others. I retired three times, and was not really ready the third time. I loved what I did (teaching), and so it was fun as well as a way to earn a living.
What I have learned about aging is that you better have a sense of humor, and if you have never dealt well with change, this might be the time to work on it. It is developmental. It is sneaky. It is beweildering in that one day you can't seem to do something that you did the day before such as getting up from a kneeling position without having to put a hand out to give yourself a push.
There are good things about it. You are more inclined to say what you think. You realize you are not going to be around forever and do what you can to make peace with your world. You learn to try to stay in the present, to be aware of what is good about a day rather than how much your back hurts, or what is going on with your investments.
My new book is about my own journey into aging with a few detours back to when I was young in age, but not necessarily in spirit. Today my spirit feels young, and I have been scattering cosmos and queen anne's lace seeds where they fall. Now if I can remember that I did so and not plant them again in the same place!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More on Pain Associated with Loss

When I first began to study the process of loss, I refused to consider that there could be any gain associated with a terrible loss, such as that of my son. When I could be more objective, I found that there are gains, even though they do not compensate for the loss. An example is learning to take time for meanigful contact with people we care about, but are too busy to visit, or write to. Only after someone is gone, do we face the fact that we could have found the time and energy to spend more time with that person.
In other words what we learn is to reorder our priorities, and to admit that we make time for what is important to us, and that we must not take for granted that we will go through most of our lives with our loved ones alive and well.

Everyone has a creative side

1. Think of the most creative thing you have ever done.
2. If creating it pleased you, then it is worth your time and attention.
3. If you are too busy with your life, to play an instrument, paint a picture, or write
a story, then reorganize your time. We take time for what is important to us.
4. My poems have been written in twenty minute intervals between managing work, house, garden, volunteer work and all the other aspects of a busy life. You can do it too.
5. What did you always want to learn to do? Play the guitar, dance, grow orchids, wood carving? Now is the time to begin.
6. Remember that the process of creativity is more important than the product.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Writing through it

Ignoring the pain of loss guarantees that it will stay with you to pop out in a mystery illness. Writing through the pain means that you don't know where you are going, and when you will stop, but you confront it in your journal, in a poem a painting, or cutting back dead growth in the garden. You can't understand your reaction to misplacing your keys when it is really about the loss of an old friend, and then another. It's ok. You don't have to understand it now. When you are ready, it will emerge in a dream, in a random thought that will strike you with its clarity. Itwill beyour system's way of healing itself, of allowing you to put a negative experience into perspective, and to move on.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Why I write poetry

I write poetry because I have to. I spent a long career writing institutional reports, and many other writing tasks related to my job. I wrote my first book in prose, and was compelled to turn it into poetry even though I knew that it would be harder to publish. I do not write with the idea in mind of how easy a book will be to publish or how many readers it may attract. I write because I want to tell stories that would otherwise die. i write because it brings me great joy to do so.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My third book of poetry, It's Only Raven laughing, will be released in April. Selling my books on my previous publisher's website, Farcountry Press, has been a good experience. My books have also sold on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. com.My new book will have an even larger presence online, and I am excited about the possibilities that are available.