Saturday, December 31, 2016

It's almost gone

 I've spent the morning taking a look back
and am grateful for the places
and people
who have made 2016 such a beautiful tapestry.
The collages don't begin to cover it all.

And, while I'm in the midst of moving from one season to another
I'll send out this wish for all of us

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Yearly Wrap up:

For many in my circle of friends, 
2016 has been a horrid year – 
in tone and content of public discourse,
being forced to acknowledge those citizens with whom we share
the same basic geographic space 
but apparently little else;
in the outcome of the political election
and in the loss of our perception of the moral character of our country.

If you’re like me,
it’s easy to let the past few weeks
of increasingly desperate social media ‘feed’ 
color your perception of the entire year.

I was challenged recently by a friend 
to ‘re-frame’ the year before it ended; 
to sit down and intentionally reflect on 
“16 Things that went Right in 2016”. 

(Goes without saying that 'right' in this context means 'well',
 not 'right' as in a political orientation!)

‘Setting intentions’ for 2017 is the next challenge– 
which may well be influenced by how successful I am 
 in first setting a positive perspective for the year that’s ending).

So here it goes …

16/15/14: Two opportunities to discover Northern CA and a trip to San Francisco. 
Let me say without hesitation that I’m a fan!
Art Boy has lived in CA before –in  Los Angeles - 
so when I heard he was moving back to CA again, my inner response was “meh, ok.”
I figured Northern CA was like southern CA:
 all the superficiality, glitz, 
preoccupation with outward appearance and perfection - only cooler.
 I’ve lived to be schooled. 
Northern CA has its own separate character, topography and mood – 
and it sings to my soul in too many ways to count. 
 (Actually my trips there could practically count as the top 10 of the things 
that have gone well this year!) 

I’ve written about my trips (here and here
in case you want to remind yourself of all the gorgeousness. 
(I'll be starting 2017 with another trip to CA as well!. 
But that’s news for another day.)

13: A fabulous 10 day trip to Cuba
satisfying my inner adventuress in exploring new cultures and locations.
It was also a check to see how efficiently my liver tolerates a challenge- 
and I’m here to say it seems to do quite well with metabolizing rum! 
Good to know.

12: Reading 36 books 
(+ enough news articles from the NYT, Washington Post, New Yorker, 
Atlantic Review, Indian Times and Huffington Post to equal 
several doctoral theses.)

11. Regularly giving myself the gift of time and space for silence and meditation, 
both in my own house and while walking labyrinths.

10. Creating – 
and it’s really hard not to be judgmental and qualifying, 
giving my inner critic voice room to say “but not as much as you should have” 
and “not as much as you have in the past”. 
Hey, voice in my head – just shush! 
I made things – 
a painted folk art piece I love, 
images with my camera, 
and books of those favorite images
so they can be enjoyed without sitting at a computer 
and there are many more works ‘in process’.

9. Learning how to manage the pain and reality of living 
with both chronic and life threatening medical conditions. 
(Rheumatoid Arthritis and Smoldering Myeloma); 
using a combination of holistic/alternative measures and traditional medications. 
I think the combo is working! 
Pain is reduced, 
inflammation markers on my blood work have improved 
and vital organs, so far, look minimally impacted. 
I’m taking it as a WIN!

8/7. 2 years of post-retirement, full time employment coming to an ‘official’ end.  
As most of you know, returning to work has been a mixed blessing for me. 
Adrenaline is still my preferred drug of choice and developing a clinic from scratch, 
with all the administrative and technological components of creating a ‘dashboard’ 
in the electronic medical record 
along with the data keeping and reporting obligations of being accountable 
to hospital Administration, the Foundation funding the grant and state officials 
hardly qualifies as “living on the edge”. 
Living on The Cliffs of Insanity, maybe,
but NOT exciting by any stretch of the imagination. 

The pluses: 
 I’ve used different executive decision making regions of my brain, 
had income that’s allowed me to take the trips I’ve loved, 
bought extra things for family I wouldn’t have been able to afford without it, 
been challenged by strong willed, passionate professionals – all with opinions about the things we ‘should be doing’ and happy to share those opinions on a frequent basis, 
made a distinct difference in the lives of children in the foster care system, 
exceeded expectations by serving over  850 kids 
and created a viable program that will continue for years 
as an integral part of the hospital, 
serving as a model for how to medically manage children in state custody. 

As my boss says “competence is its own punishment” – 
and I’ve been asked to be a Standing member on 2 oversight committees in the Capitol. 
I get to share the expertise that comes from over 3 decades of being in Child Welfare 
with folks who might actually have the power/ability to make some lasting changes. 

The minuses -  
been challenged by strong willed, passionate professionals – all with opinions about the things we ‘should be doing’ and happy to share those opinions on a frequent basis, 
operating a clinic while being without the appropriate amount of dedicated space or staff, 
lack of ongoing support from hospital administration 
and stretching my limited physical stamina to beyond what feels healthy on many days. 

Overall, the pluses carry the day. 
While the decision about when to try retirement again will definitely be revisited 
on a frequent basis 
and there might come a day when the pluses DON’T win out, 
for right now, 
I’m still here – by choice.

6. A full year of being Junior Warden on the Vestry of our church during a time of transition. 
The retirement of our Rector, working with the Diocese on finding an Interim, facilitating the Nominating Committee, extra meetings with Vestry, meetings with the Bishop – 
all extra obligations of which I was blissfully unaware when I was elected. 
And all spinning plates I’ve been able to juggle 
without (knock on wood) dropping any, so far. 
No thanks to me as much as to the faithful good people in our parish 
and the grace of God! 
5.  Two trips to Rosebud reservation (for mission work and play);
trips which deepen my ties to place and people 
in ways that nourish my spiritual life 
and connects me on a cellular level,
in ways I can't explain,
to a broader circle of ‘ancestors’.

4. Deepening relationships with a circle of soul sisters who meet monthly 
for “Bread, Wine and Whine”; 
women who laugh, cry and grow together as we face growing old – 
and there’s frequently nothing overtly amusing about that – 
but somehow there is when its shared.
3. Deepening relationship with family members who share decades of history from different perspectives and love many of the same people I do.
2.  Continuing to watch my sons as they grow into men who are strong, sensitive, 
capable and caring; 
creating lives that reflect who they are and what they value. 
1. The extraordinary joy of seeing another generation come safely into being 
and the blessing of being a small part in a new life.
Maybe, 2016 hasn't been such a bad year after all.

What would be on your list?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Donald Trump:
62,979,879 votes

Hillary Clinton:
65,844,954 votes

Gary Johnson
4,488, 919 votes

Jill Stein
1,457, 044 votes

Evan McMullin
725,902 votes

Write ins
1,103,554 votes

4553,664 votes

74, 074, 037 
Americans voted against Trump 

Despite how it feels,
the idiots are NOT winning.

Hang in there
and remember -
more people voted for someone OTHER than the president elect
than those who voted for him.

He does NOT represent the majority of Americans.
Nor will he,

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

end a quarrel.
Seek out a forgotten
friend. Dismiss suspicion,
and replace it with trust.
Write a love letter. Share some
treasure. Give a soft answer. Keep
a promise. Find the time. Forego a grudge.
Forgive an enemy. Listen. Apologize if you
were wrong. Try to understand. Examine your
demands on others. Think first of someone else.
Be kind; be gently. Appreciate. Laugh a little. Laugh a
bit more. Express your gratitude. Gladden the heart of a
child. Welcome a stranger. Take pleasure in the beauty and the
wonder of Earth.
Speak your love.
Speak it again.
Speak it yet
once again.

Saturday, December 24, 2016


 I've never been one to deny reality.
Even in times of darkness and chaos,
I can look for points of light
and acknowledge
that beauty and goodness remain -
even if diminished to the point of being hidden.
 But in this bleakest of mid-winters,
I've wanted distortion and illusion.

I've wanted not just points of light
but snowflakes
and stars
 and candy canes.
My soul has cried out for soft and blurred.
I've been so busy this Advent
being in the world
 that I've lost sight of the meaning for this whole season.
 Advent invites us to grow in patience,
to position our lives so that we don't miss sight of what God is doing
in all the world;
it invites us to remember that God comes in vulnerability and smallness.

Advent gives us a chance to slow down,
to spread our lives and hearts before God,
and patiently watch
for where the light of God is falling.

I feel compelled,
even at this late date,
to take time to sit
and just breathe;
to wait in silence,
and trust 
that God is still God.

God is with us, even when we're frightened for the future.
God is with us, even as we fight for what we believe to be right.
God is with us, even when we are tired.
God is with us, even when we are sad.
God is with us, even when we can't get a grip or find our balance

God is with us, even when our world seems ready to swallow us whole.
God is with us, even when people say all lives don't matter 
or that some of us need to get over it and move on.

God is with us, even when the house is a wreck.
God is with us, even when the country is a wreck.
God is with us when we're a wreck.
We are who we are
and we are here,
but he is here too.

God is with us. 

God is with us, not despite the suffering, 
but in the suffering.

My friends,
may we help each other know that the One we are waiting for 
is waiting for us. 

May we feel His presence. 

On this holy night,
may each of us know ourselves as we really are: 
beloved, welcome.
Already home.


is the birthday 
of my sons father, 
my former husband, 
and though he’s been dead 
for almost 30 years
there’s not a Christmas Eve 
when I’ve not thought of him – 
and given thanks for his presence in my life.

We didn’t have forever, 
we had impermanence.

We didn’t have perfect, 
we had flawed…

but we had real – 
in all its manifestations.

Tomas, I’m glad you were born.
 I’m glad you were you 
and we were us.

Without you, 
these guys wouldn’t be here – 
being who they are – 
and my world would be 
infinitely diminished.
If bringing them into the world 
was reason alone 
for our time together, 
then we were a great success.

Happy Birthday, TR!
You would be very proud of our sons; 
they're the best things 
we ever did!

In case you think you don't 'live on'
take a look at this -
and reconsider!

And then look at our grandson -
who bears your name.
 He'd melt your heart!

You are missed.
You are remembered.
You are loved.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Just a thought

What if the media refused to respond to ANY of trumps tweets?

Since it's not,
by any stretch of the imagination,
ignoring them would make perfect sense.

There's no policy statement or executive decision worth knowing about
if it can be captured in 140 characters.

Refuse to repeat them;
refuse to write about them;
refuse to comment on them;
unless and until
he addresses the press corps 
in a briefing.

Stop allowing him to get away with his sound bite mentality.

If a trump tweets and no one responds,
does he even exist?

 Santa, if you're listening, this is rising to the top of my Christmas list.

NAS, if you're listening, make it happen. 
For the 'security' of all of us,
disconnect his twitter feed.
ps,  you can't tell me with all the hacking and cyber-attacking going on, 
NO ONE can find trumps taxes?

You disappoint me.
I had higher hopes for you.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…

I’m not sure I’ve ever had a greater appreciation for the opening sentence 
in Dickens ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ 
than I do right now.

It speaks to me of the sense I have of two vastly different realities.

The looming specter of a trump administration - 
with all the resultant chaos and disorder that’s sure to follow - 
hanging over the season like a pall 
the delightful reality of watching a new life unfold in front of our eyes. 
 A little sprite with the most expressive face I’ve seen 
since his father was a baby. 
 He makes me smile every time I see him.  

The problems of the world seem very far away 
when dealing with the immediacy of a baby.

It’s made me think very differently about the political upheaval in which we find ourselves.

I doubt that any group of people living through turbulent times 
see themselves as living in a ‘historical period’.

The connections, 
the way all pieces of the overall puzzle fit together – 
or, more aptly, fall apart - 
aren’t generally made until AFTER the period of time is over. 

It’s a luxury historians and social scientists have from a distance, 
without the blinders of the present age.

Did common folks going about their daily lives, 
trying to survive as best they could, 
know they were living in the Fall of the Roman Empire? 
Pre Hitler Germany? 
The year prior to Japanese internment camps? 

I find myself wondering what our age will be called; 
what theories historians will posit about our apparent blindness 
to see what was truly happening, 
asking why there wasn’t more of a response; 
taking us to task for being so busy with the daily minutiae of our lives 
that we failed to make the connections 
between the reality that was happening 
and the lies being fed to us by the press and those in power, 
wondering how we could stand by mutely 
as we lost our country.

I’m still finding it a hard balance – 
between standing up to every affront to the senses and intellect – 
which occur by the day, 
sometimes the hour – 
while constantly feeling powerless to affect any change 
with the resultant pull to merely sink into the personal; 
to focus on being present and loving 
where I am with my immediate tribe 
and those in my daily sphere; 
to let the rest of the world sort it out for themselves later.

I know that our time on this earth is limited 
and that how we spend that time DOES matter. 

I’m just still struggling with the balance that’s healthy, 
for me, 
of managing micro and macro concerns. 

The only conclusion I’ve reached is that I won't find resolution in 2016. 
Clearly this falls under the category “to be continued”.

But in the meantime, 
there are twinkle lights, 
a family to love,
responsibilities to be honored 
“sufficient unto the day are the evils thereof”.

And there's Santa.
and moments of stillness and beauty
 And for tonight,
maybe that's enough.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Filters and apps -

if you have them, use them!
From this -
 to this


It  even works with dogs!
Nothing like mindless activity
for taking a break from all the news!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Words fail ...

 I know I haven't been around much.

I still feel like I’m trapped in a parallel universe;
 and on most days, 
 there aren’t even words to express
my incredulity and disdain
for the events and players
swirling in the ether around me.

How I long for the days of SSDD – same sh*t, different day!
The simplicity and ease of dealing with ‘normal’ chaos.

Apparently, in the reality in which we now live -
deep in the darkness of our former country
that is now Trumplandia -
there’s a different level of psychic insult every day
with no end in sight. 

Truth be told, I think the Inmate who took over the asylum is just warming up.

The hits just keep coming …
after initial announcements about T-rumps intent to fill his closest cupboard in the White House 
with assorted racists, neo Nazis and domestic abusers, 
he’s moved on to other positions.
(I’d call them a ‘Cabinet’ but that elevates them to a level of importance they clearly don’t deserve.)

A Secretary of State whose career has consisted of being an oil mogul, 
frequently working in direct opposition to US federal governments interests, policies and plans 
in many parts of the world, 
particularly Africa (specifically with a dictator in Chad); 

a comrade who also happens to be a party favorite of the dictator of the Kremlin. 
 Not that kind of ‘party animal’... 

this kind!
A Secretary of Education candidate that has no education degree, 
no teaching experience, 
no experience working in a public school, 
never attended public school or a public university, 
does not believe in or support public education, 
believes that public school teachers are overpaid 
and has spent a career pushing for charter schools 
and the illusion of ‘choice’ for the poorest students.
Apparently her strongest qualification is the ability to write 
the Minority President -elects campaign a check for $3 million dollars.
Small Business Administration?  – a professional wrestling executive. 
As if small business owners don’t have enough problems to wrestle with 
without this b*tch mucking things up. 
But how bad could it be – it’s not brain surgery, right?

Speaking of which, 
a neurosurgeon who I actually WOULD let operate on the inside of my head
 is going to be in charge of housing because … 
he’s lived in a house- and the house was in an inner city!

I love the logic! 

Here’s mine – I married a Swede 
and have actually eaten at Swedish restaurants in two distinctly different cities: 
Al Johnsons in Sister Bay, Wisconsin and Tre Kronor in Chicago. 
 Expect to see my appointment as Ambassador to Sweden announced momentarily. 
I’d accept it in a heartbeat!
Anything to get me out of the country for a few years.

The cherry on top of this week’s sundae seems to be 
that after decades of being run by Nobel prize winning rocket scientists 
who actually know how to get us to galaxies and back, 
the Secretary of Energy will now be a candidate 
directly from Dancing with the Stars. 
 Stars, galaxies, it’s all the same thing, right?

The fact that the Department with authority over nuclear weapons will now be run 
by a man so dense that he’s incapable of remembering the name of the Department he’s running seems to be a moot point.

In fact, 
T-rump seems to have picked people with zero experience in governing the agencies 
they will now be charged with running; 
people whose career paths have seemingly been aimed at eradicating 
the existence of very departments they’ll now represent.

This would certainly make for an interesting political experiment – 
or an episode of the Twilight Zone -  
 if only the rest of us weren’t in the same hand basket 
that’s headed for hell 
along with the idiots who got us into this mess in the first place!

Trouble is, we recognize it -
and they don't.
What is the precise moment, in the life of a country,
when tyranny takes hold?

It rarely happens in an instant;
it arrives like twilight, and, at first, the eyes adjust.
I think 'Twilight Zone' is a fairly apt description
on several levels!