In the Garden

Over the weekend, I worked in my garden. Weeding is something that continually gets pushed to the bottom of my to do list. I don’t know why. Okay, I do know why. Bugs, dirt, hot sun beating down? Not much to love. This time I selected the right day because the bugs were few, the day was cool (and cloudy, so no sunburn), and though I did get dirt under my fingernails, I’ve managed to dig most of it out. My garden is tidy, and I feel much better.

Being in the garden on Sunday turned out to be the perfect way to spend the afternoon. I started with a simple plan to fertilize the tomatoes which have finally started ripening. They look, smell, and taste amazing, but when I brought the first can of plant food treated water, I noticed some vines were so weighted down with fruit, they were laying on the ground. I completed three trips of fertilized water before hunting for the stakes I’d stashed from last season. They are bamboo, barely covered in faded green paint after several seasons. I don’t use circular metal cages, though I probably should because my tomatoes always grow into an unruly, tangled mess, but I really enjoying staking and tying the vines, so I continue with the process every year.

Kneeling in the dirt to tie the vines, I fought with tall weeds. After yanking them, I righted the tomato vines, only to discover crabgrass and other smaller weeds underneath. I yanked those, too, and continued until the tomatoes, peppers, and herbs had been trimmed, tidied and staked, and piles of weeds were discarded outside the fence. The garden looked healthy. Satisfied, I picked the strawberry plant clean of ripe fruit and shoveled the berries in my mouth without washing the dirt off. It felt like just the right reward.

I like to create things, but drawing, designing, planning, and even writing, leaves me feeling unsatisfied. My final product never seems to measure up. The best thing about my garden is the “not good enough” feeling never surfaces. My strawberries may be odd shapes and my tomatoes may not win blue ribbons at the fair, but they always taste good, and I’m proud to share them with others, gleefully acknowledging, “yes, this came from my garden!” I don’t know if the things I grow are flavored by pride or TLC. I don’t think it really matters, do you?

Nowhere to Run

One of the reasons I love to run is that for one hour, I escape from the craziness of everyday life. During my run, my life is my own. No interruptions. Whether I think or daydream, zone out or absorb the details normally missed driving from one commitment to another, unwelcome distractions are left behind. In one hour, I reset the balance in my life. But in early June, I developed a stress fracture in center of my strike zone- third digit, third knuckle, deep in the ball of my foot (thank you “barefoot style running shoes”).

A stress fracture is not a break. It is a weakness in the bone from repeated pounding, but like a break, the cure is to stay off it. Easier said that done when talking about feet. Since summer was just kicking off, I didn’t want to wear a boot, so everywhere I went-even dressy parties, I donned old running shoes with extra padding in order to protect the foot and help it heal. Desperate to stay in shape while sidelined from running, I Googled: “no impact ways to burn 500 calories”.There are some interesting options on those lists. I chose biking and swimming as my primary cardio work outs. I bought a hula hoop to increase my abdominal workout, and I’ve even borrowed a kayak some Saturday mornings. The problem with these other forms of exercise is that I don’t get the private “me” time I crave. When biking, I have to concentrate lest a car, dog walker, moped, other biker, pedestrian, or a child on a scooter or a skateboard (and most days it is all of the above) stray into my path. When I’m swimming, I have to dodge other swimmers mostly children and teenagers cannon balling into my lane their nerve fraying squeals and personal space invading splashing adding to my stress. Even if I try to walk, people seem to ignore that I’m exercising and stop to chat or ask directions.

After four weeks, I suffered from mild depression and high anxiety, but finally the pain in my foot disappeared. I opened a box of new shoes (with extra forefront cushioning) and walked half a mile until I reached a dirt trail. For two miles, I ran, and happily sweated until I reached my favorite swim spot, but by then the pain was back. It was too much, too soon. This is one of those times in life when I have to be patient and find new ways to achieve my goals and handle accumulating stress. To help relax, I’ve downloaded a hypnotism app for my phone that helps me get to sleep and stay sleeping longer. I also take a few minutes at the end of my swim to focus on just floating and breathing. I use my bike to run errands whenever possible increasing exercise time and lending a hand to the environment. One perk of all this alternative exercise is that I’ve developed uber toned arms.

There will always be setback in life and things that throw me off course and out of my normal routine. The key is to not let them stop me all together. I cope. I adjust. I survive….until I run again.

A Really Good Book

Have you ever spent time with two people and found out later they are in a relationship and thought, “Hmmm, I never would have guessed!”

Some twosomes have electric energy that anyone can sense, as if they glow the same shade of purple, but for others, without the shared looks or purposeless touching, the pair seems more like buddies than bedfellows.

I recently witnessed a couple seriously lacking in chemistry. Individually, each one is fantastic-attractive, engaging, fun, but together they fall flat. Granted some relationships start off slowly as the individuals get to know each other, but after a time, for the couple I’m referencing it had been over 6 months, outsiders should be able to tell the two of you make up a “we”.

I can’t imagine being in a unidentifiable to others relationship over the long term. If I’m drawn in by the cover of the book, as I often am when it comes to men, I figure out pretty quickly whether the story holds my interest. Sure, I might stick it out for a few chapters hoping the plot improves, especially if he is really HOT, but at some point, it makes sense to close the book if it’s not enjoyable, and go find a better story.

Some determined people insist on continuing until the end, but aren’t those always the books you look back on and think, why did I bother? The end was so obvious right from the beginning!

I’ve learned to appreciate stories that seem totally not my style, but come highly recommended. They are always filled with adventure, hold my interest, teach me something, and keep me absorbed right to the end. In fact, thinking about this right now makes me want to go find myself another really good book…

Have a Heart

I recently told a friend of mind that being positive is a choice.

This declaration came after he spent three hours ranting about the terrible things that make up this world. He highlighted the many things there are to fear, and mistakes people in power make.

I used to spent my time and energy thinking about what was wrong, rather than appreciating goodness, love, and beauty in the world. Since shifting my focus, I’ve noticed hearts appearing everywhere.

Heart large

I find heart shaped rocks on the beach, and pick them up. I have a nice collection going.

   heart shaped rock pile

I take pictures of heart shaped puddles left after the rain,)heart puddle

…and heart shaped knots in wood.

Heart shaped woodknot

Every time I see a heart, I smile

I’m smiling a lot these days.

heartshaped rock inside

I compared my friend, who was choosing to be negative, to Darth Vader. Then, I suggested he search for his inner Luke Skywalker. Love is inside us all. Realize that, and you will see it everywhere.

Psychic Encounter


Knowing my future while still in my present is an idea that has always intrigued me. If I already knew I’d be a published author with an amazing husband, I might sleep better at night, but aside from one time in San Francisco when I walked by a woman who remarked on my bright blue aura, I’d never pursued the clairvoyant. Last month, I was gifted thirty minutes with a psychic, and thought my brilliant future would finally be revealed.

Preparatory instructions for the meeting included making a list of questions. I had plenty, starting with, would I EVER find the right guy? But as the day of my reading approached, I recognized my dilemma: I only wanted a certain result. What if my future was not that which I hoped? What if the psychic revealed a path I didn’t expect, or an outcome I couldn’t accept? Would my days be filled with dread and hopelessness waiting for the prophecy to come true?

With only twenty minutes to go, my mind raced. Should I ask the tough questions? Or should I ask the unimportant questions? I should have been working to relax and clear my mind, as the instructions stated, but I was nervous. Maybe I should continue to live day to day swathed in the ease of ignorance. I didn’t pay for the session. I could skip it. With less than a minute to decide, I took a deep breath in, and as I released it, I came to a conclusion. My life is my life. Nothing that this woman could tell me would throw me so far out of balance that I wouldn’t recognize my own path. I stepped up to face my fate with a smile.

As it turns out, I’m going to have a great life. She offered no specifics, and I didn’t press for details. I couldn’t bear to ask about my relationship status, but she addressed it anyway, saying I was on the right track, things are in place, and everything would work out. At the very least, I got a really great pep talk. Her only solid advice echoed what I already tell myself daily: Be patient and STOP over thinking things.

We already know when life is going well, and when it isn’t, we make the necessary changes to shift course. Sometimes the changes take a lot of consideration. I’m a big fan of pro-con lists, but in the end, no matter which column has more items, I usually go with my gut. I trust my own instincts. Right now, my life is enjoyable. It’s not traditional, and it may not be memorable to others, but I feel like I’m in a good place. I’m not sure why I needed a stranger to reassure me that everything is fine? Perhaps because I’ve fooled myself before, but the older I get, the more I recognize that I’m the one who affects the outcome of my life. There are no magic wands, spells, or potions that change the course of where I’m headed, and whether a psychic can see my future or not, she has no divining power over it. I make the choices and decisions. I make the happiness.



Explore Locally

“Travel is a glorious form of procrastination” –Here is Where by Andrew Carroll

Frequenting travel websites partially satiates my desire to disappear to a remote tropical island, but mostly, I peruse Kayak and Expedia because my job includes arranging travel for others. Booking airline tickets and hotel rooms that I will never set foot in is a little like standing on the sidelines of a road race. I would much rather be taking part in the action.

I read recently that planning a trip, even if you never take it, can be good for you-something about anticipation sending happy chemicals to the brain. Now you know why the Travelocity gnome is always a little loopy.

I remember traveling to Greece and Rome, finally seeing all the places that I’d learned about in school. Even though the ruins were…ruined, to be there allowed me to absorb a little of life in BC. It was SO cool, and I think about trips like that when I’m moving through the humdrum of daily life. Why mow the lawn when I could be hiking the Great Wall of China?

Time off from work and my meager bank account are two reasons why not.

My limitations started me thinking about how to open my mind to the everyday world around me. I shouldn’t have to travel to China to create new experiences. Instead of pushing a mower around the yard, I could lay down on the lawn with a pair of scissors to discover a new perspective, or I could delve into the local culture. There are streets in my town I’ve never driven down, people I’ve never talked to, and restaurants I’ve never tasted.

It doesn’t cost a lot of money or require a lot of planning (or Bonine) to achieve perspective and adventure. Most of us can find it around the corner or down the street if we are willing to do some exploring in our own backyard, and once you have made the effort, the experience won’t just be a memory, it can be shared over again with neighbors, family, and friends.




March is the anniversary of a time in my life when I had no control over events impacting me, and even twenty years later, my body still remembers. Like a a virus buried in my DNA, headaches, dizzy spells, exhaustion, nightmares, depression, confusion, and uncertainty surface every year that no manner of counseling can cure. With my Dad’s illness and stress at work, I was especially vulnerable when the wave of toxicity washed over me a few weeks ago. I could barely get out of bed. I stopped running. I ate without tasting food. I went through the motions at work, but seemed to get nothing done. I filed extensions for the corporate tax returns due mid month. I wasted my evening hours flipping channels on the television without ever watching anything, and snuck off to bed at 7:30pm. To say I was in a bad place is an understatement, but I’d sampled medical and homeopathic solutions for years.

During the month of March, nothing in my world is ever sensible or stable.

To make things worse, this March had kicked off with a misunderstanding between myself and a friend, and part of the insanity I experience during my annual slide into purgatory is that my mind grabs hold of an issue and blows it out of proportion. This year, I focused on the friendship that was now in jeopardy. I reviewed it start to finish (which took a while since we’ve know each other for almost three decades). I searched for something in those years to answer abstract questions bigger than the issue at hand. I wanted proof of something-right or wrong before facing him in New York at the end of the month. I needed indisputable answers, but I found none. Scenarios looping through my mind kept me awake at night as I anguished over my uncertainty. I could put on a smile and pretend everything was okay, but I really hoped he would absolve me of responsibility by canceling. The week before, I chose to defer, and because my poisoned mind wouldn’t allow for excuses, I texted my friend the version of the truth my brain believed at the time. I told him he was right, and I couldn’t face him. Send. It was done. My questions were answered. I was the bad guy.

Then, something strange happened… I slept well that night.

I woke up the next day, feeling refreshed. I was a whirlwind at work. I came home and completed one of the corporate tax returns. I slept well again. The next day, the process repeated. All the clouds had blown away. I was back to normal, but it was only March 19! There should have been more doom and gloom. How could I be cured already?

The only proven remedy for uncertainty is to make a decision and take action. It sounds pretty simple, but it can be an insurmountable challenge when paralyzed by anxiety, confusion, and depression. I’m not saying I made a good decision, but instead of sitting around waiting for the problem to go away, or for someone else to make the decision for me, I took charge. Making a decision provided the control I was lacking.

My next decision was simple and proactive: set a reminder in my iphone to utilize this golden elixir next March.


Staring Stan

Have you ever been seriously stared at before? I’m not talking about catching someone looking just before he turns quickly away. I mean someone who is fixated, eyes locked, seemingly unashamed…staring. If the guy was a stranger, label him a creepy stalker, and get on with life (hopefully never seeing the wierdo again). But my Staring Stan is someone I know. He is someone I’ve known for a long time. Should I ask why he is staring at me? What if he denies it? Seriously, I SAW you! Maybe he claims he was just spacing out? He wasn’t. Staring is staring. It happened repeatedly and intensely enough that it occurred to me to make sure I was fully clothed.

In high school, staring made sense. Teenage boys stare at teenaged girls, but high school was over twenty five years ago. I’m not a circus freak. Stop staring!

Really, I should be staring at him. What happened ? He used to be fun. He used to know how to relax. He used to have a personality, but we chose different paths: He recreated the “Leave it to Beaver” household with his perfect wife and two beautiful children. I did not select a spouse or give birth. I also didn’t become a completely different person. Maybe he is staring because he recognizes that I’m still me. I haven’t changed. Somehow I missed the chapter about growing up where everyone casts off their younger selves and becomes middle aged stereotypes who follow around behind their spouse saying “yes, dear”.

He is exactly the kind of guy HE used to make fun of.

Ironically, he now looks at me the way I looked at him twenty years ago. The expression is of mixed awe and disbelief, as if the object of attention is so amazing, it seems unreal. Does he wonder how his life might have turned out if he didn’t become someone else’s husband? Is he trying to recapture a sliver of a life he no longer lives? If so, then what he sees truly is unreal, but I know the feeling. It’s the moment, on the cusp of waking from a really good dream that you force your eyes shut tighter to hold on, but at that point, it’s already too late.

Go With The Flow

My nearly 84 year old Dad always dismissed retirement communities as places where people go to die. He opted to live at home, alone. For safety sake (one of his favorite hazards includes leaving the gas stove on), I moved back home five years ago. Now he is sick and we are surrounded by annoyingly upbeat and optimistic doctors. It seems like the schtick for those who choose Oncology as a specialty.

Endless appointments, another test, different doctors in different locations, the multitude of details wears down the patient (and his family) mentally before the cancer wears him down physically. A few weeks into the process, I’m crushed under the weight of managing this medical menagerie.

The upside: the crazy, non-stop, ever changing schedule keeps me distracted from the fear.

I feel it there, like a bruise deep in my chest just below my sternum. Most of the time, I ignore it. At night in bed, I relax a little, and it starts to surface. I reach for my phone to call a friend, but by the time the keypad is lit up, I can’t dial. Any kind words of support will cause a complete break down and sap what little energy I’ve held in reserve. My ability to keep going seems contingent on going it alone.

My friends can’t cure the cancer. They can’t replace me at Dad’s appointments or fill out the tax returns that are due. No one lives close enough to wash the laundry or prepare daily meals, and while their words of support are genuine an heartfelt, it’s like offering a smile to a homeless man when he really needs a roof over his head. The weary anywhere might briefly benefit from a helping hand, but a single gesture doesn’t change the situation for the days and weeks that follow, and that is the reason I don’t ask for help now. One day is not enough, and by accepting help for one day, it makes the other days without help seem even more burdensome.

There is no definitive time line for Dad’s illness. I have no plans beyond what doctor we see today or what test they will perform. Cancer is the ultimate live in the moment and go with the flow scenario. Still, a question nags me at night as I try to sleep:


This question applies to tomorrow, next week, next month, and the years that will follow. What comes next when there are no more doctor’s appointments? What happens when I wake up alone in the house with nowhere to be that day?

Like being toppled by a wave, my body spins, my arms thrash about, and my head tries to solve the problem. Which way is up? I need air. I can’t control the future, but I fight anyway. The simple truth gets overshadowed in the fray: if I stop fighting and let the wave carry me to shore, everything will work out the way it should. I know this from past experience, but in the moment, I don’t trust what has come before. I don’t feel reassured.

My impulse is to run away and sit under a palm tree sipping iced tea until the dust settles. To hand my situation over to someone else is incredibly tempting (assuming there was someone else who could step in), but the worst years of my life were spent letting other people tell me what to do, who to be, and how to live. Frustration, anxiety, depression, anger, these are symptoms of fear. The fear is weighing me down.

To bolster my own strength and perseverance, I focus on appreciating the extra time we spend together in the car, the enjoyment we get from critiquing bad paintings in waiting rooms, and the laughter that bubbles up imitating the nurse’s squeaky mouse voice. These are the positive side affects of Dad’s illness, and they contribute to a shared understanding of what is important and what is not these days. I’ve been through tough times before, and though the circumstances are different, the lesson is the same:

Stay positive. What I need will appear when I stop fighting myself, and go with the flow.

Love Everyday


I don’t acknowledge February 14. Upon hearing this blasphemous slight against St. Valentine, some identify me as a bitter old maid. Possibly true, but my distrust of this Hallmark holiday actually began way back when the meaning behind a Valentine had nothing to do with romance. Starting in second grade, construction paper hearts, and candy imprinted “Be mine” were currency in the popularity market. Where was the LOVE?


Even after I was old enough to date, the popularity contest continued. Who got the biggest box of chocolate? Who got the most beautiful roses? And despite flowers or chocolate, the effort made by whichever poor schmuck I happened to be dating felt so forced, staged, OBLIGATORY. Would any one of them have considered such overt wooing another time?



So, it’s not that I hate love. In fact, my love of LOVE is precisely why I’m opposed to Valentine’s Day. Everyday should be about sharing love. Each of us should be encouraged to express love in unique, individual, personal ways 365 days a year. Designating a single day to be in love where flowers and chocolate are mandatory has two outcomes: A) It excludes the relationship challenged, and B) It requires couples to conform to cliché versions of romance. Valentines Day robs LOVE of its pure and honest simplicity.



Love ends up being quantified in dollars which makes no sense 😦



Until I experience a heartfelt demonstration of pure love that happens to fall on February 14, I will not acknowledge the day as special. I will not post cutesie messages on Facebook. I will not dine at restaurants with special price fixed menus for two. I won’t wear red or pink. I will watch movies about love on another day. I will eat the little candy hearts after they go on sale, and I will cut perfect heart shapes out of paper next Tuesday…but until we learn to love everyday, I’m boycotting February 14.