Monday, March 31, 2014

moving forward

i was having a neurotic moment.
i knew it.
so i thought it thru a bit.
tried to think logical, be logical, feel logical.
but it was neurotic moment.
so that didn't really work.

after realizing sitting with it could take me
spinning down a spiral i didn't feel like travelin,
i decided to turn my energy elsewhere.
i ended up having a great exercise session.
those feelings can fuel some movement for sure!

afterwards i didn't feel the need to dwell on the moment.
altho i could feel the self doubts inside of me.

later that day i was in the car with two of my sons.
i mentioned the moment.
told them i knew i was being neurotic but would
appreciate it if they'd ignore that and talk to me about it.

and they did.
they didn't blow me off.
they actually answered with thoughtfulness and kindness.
and some of the stuff they said really helped.
and it jolted other things inside of me that helped as well.

today i can see that sometimes when i don't like how things
have gone in life, i want to blame myself.
it's hard to believe that's 'easier' - cause it certainly doesn't
feel easy. it feels awful.
but i guess it's easier sometimes than just really holding that
the world is as it is sometimes.and people are as they are sometimes.

sometimes things really hurt.
and sometimes those things really aren't our fault.
i can't say i have the self doubts and neurotic feelings today.
that's gone away.
i just have that wishing things were different sometimes feeling.

and i know what to do with that.
i can work with that one all by myself.
i look at all that i do have.
and all the incredible beauty that has come thru a whole lotta gunk.
and i remember there's a mix to the world i'll never understand,
but that even tho it can make me sad and neurotic at times,
it can also make me really truly grateful.

so that's where i'll focus on this incredible spring day.

Friday, March 28, 2014


i sit at my desk listening to the voices and laughter outside.

my sons had said goodbye and headed out to their cars.
i closed the door and headed back to work.

as i typed, i heard their voices and laughter.
figured they were talkin' to a neighbor.
i kept working.
and the sounds kept coming.

i finally got up to see who they were talking to.

it was the grown son of the people across the street.
he too has moved away and was stopping by his folks house.
he was pullin' down the road as my guys were walkin' out.
they met on the side of the street.

the guys all used to work on cars together.
my neighbor's son had his car apart for days in my back yard.
his dad wanted him to get it out of my way,
i wanted him to stay and work on it as i loved the mess and
watching him work from my window.
i remember talkin' with him telling him it was fine and him telling
me how stubborn his dad was and that he'd have to move it.
i grinned.
'you wait.' i told him.
and went and outstubborned his dad.
i remember how stunned he was.
the car and his son stayed until the job was complete.
and i loved every moment of it.

there are four young men out in front of my house joking and talking
and catching up. they are four of my favorite young men in the world.
my neighbor's son has something special about him that i've always loved.
i think because i see that, he has always loved me a little bit back.

i sit here and remember the bike riding and the splashing in the small pool
we had out back. the basketball and the music, and yes the cars and the cars
and the cars. grease and car parts everywhere, including the kitchen.

he had never even changed the oil until my guys taught him. before long,
he was taking cars completely apart and talking of opening a garage with
my sons.

there's always been a mutual admiration between them all. something kind of
different. something very beautiful.

i listen and remember.
i listen and hear it still.

and i think how very lucky i've been to have traveled this path that i've traveled.

the wind blows, the breeze carries the sound of the wind chimes and their laughter
and my heart is filled with the best kinda music ever.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


if i were to tell you about him -
give you a blog eulogy -

i would tell you that less than a handful of people knew him.
really knew him.
in fact, i think it's possible only three women ever did.
maybe two.

i was one of them.

that makes me so sad.

he came from harshness.
lived a hard and lonely life.
in fact, before i met him, the description i got of him made me afraid to meet him.
'crusty' was prolly the word i heard most.
and prolly the word that worked best.

thing is, you can only be so crusty when you wear a mickey mouse watch.
it was when i spotted that watch that everything turned for me.

and i went and sat next to him.
i went to find out about him.

over the years i discovered a man who loved shakespeare.
loved him so much he could recite parts of romeo and juliet by heart.
he'd smile and call him 'the bard' and go off into quotes. full long length quotes.
he would quote those lines with such depth of heart, i would melt listening.
i discovered a man who loved world history and could tell you anything you
ever wanted to know. i found a man who carried a picture of a woman in his
wallet for over 50 years. a man who would soften when i talked with him,
and would eventually apologize for thinking that i was a pick pocket when we
first met!

his voice would get real gentle sometimes when we'd talk. and when i told him i loved him,
he would tell me so right back. and i wondered how few times he ever said that
in his life. how few times he ever heard it.

cussing and grumbling was much more his style on the outside. but there was a part
of him that drank tea, did tai chi at one point in his life, and loved to learn and read.
there was part of him that fell in love with an asian woman and found himself stuck
in between worlds where he didn't know how to handle the prejudices he faced.

there was a man who never quite got the hang of offering love down, but who had
quite a heart to offer. and yet, that heart wasn't all beautiful. it was twisted in ways,
broken in others, hardened in still others. it was quite a mix!

and yet, i got the softness.

every time i think of him right now, i tear up.
not because i'm sad he's passed.
i know he was ready.
but because he's really a shade of a story we all carry to some degree.

the part of us all where we aren't always seen, we aren't always valued,
where we hide ourselves away, lock things inside, stop sharing, stop offering,
the part where we let the pain win.

obviously there's different degrees to this. and we all have different twists and turns
to our version of doing this.

but here's the thing - it's not just us that gets hurt by our closing down and keeping
our light dim. it's those around us. those around us lose out. when i think of the things
i learned about him that others never knew of, when i think of the softness in his voice
that so many never imagined, i get sad.

i get sad because i don't think he knew he was valuable.
i get sad because he lived such a lonely life.
and i get sad because a beautiful tiny little gem got so trampled on as he went along,
that he just crusted over.

but then - i think about it a little harder and i realize - even all the pain, all the hurt,
all the self doubt - even all that couldn't take away the beauty. it was there. if anyone
ever really looked. it was so there.

so he has me thinking today.
a lot.
about opening up and offering love.
about hope.
about light in the darkness.
and about the incredible opportunity we have just by being here.

i'm toasting him today.
and picturing him swimming in an ocean of love.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

the people around me - our fourth offering -

recently, i decided to tap into the incredible wealth of thoughts, insights and experiences 
of the people around me. i wrote to a buncha these different people asking for their insights
on different subjects to share on my blog. i hope to be posting one of their responses
here each wednesday.

this is our fourth offering in the series. from my friend, an' marie. when i first met her,
she totally blew me away with her photographs. i remember my breath just being taken
away by her work. and i remember her deep hesitation in offering her talents to the world.
as time's gone by, i've watched her step way way past that hesitation and offer not only
her photography, but her writing as well. i believe her offering makes a difference to the
world. i believe all of us have things we can share and offer that make a difference and
so i thought i'd ask an' marie for her thoughts on stepping past the fear and doing it! here's
what she had to share.

Is it ok?
Memory of the question popped into my head as I read my assignment from Terri to share any thoughts/insights I have on stepping thru the fear and offering my gifts; on believing in myself enough to do that. It is the question I asked Terri as I shared with her the final draft of my book. I smiled, remembering the response:

i'm actually sitting here laughing as i type.
yeah, An’ Marie.
it's's's so beyond okay.
but if we need to start with
okay, we'll start's okay.
and more.

Yes, I can speak to this, the fear of saying out loud, “I did this and it is beautiful.” Or worse, “These are my words, they are worth hearing.” There are layers upon layers wrapped around why it is hard and the process of unbinding these fears and false beliefs has been a poignant and profound journey. I found words where I thought I had none and beauty where darkness festered. More and more, I find I can speak and that when I embrace my courage and share my soul, I touch others’ souls and in turn, my heart opens. There is no greater gift.

I think that it may be true that my photography and words speak to some in a visceral space, body and soul. I am touched and honored to support that space. I am coming to believe that in my vulnerability I give others’ an opportunity to be vulnerable and to hold the beauty of their own vulnerability.

When I write, so often, it is what I want to believe that emerges. And as I share my aspirations, my becoming unfurls. The magic, I think, is in honoring the stillness and the dance, the ebb and the flow.

Here are the places you can share in my work:
My book, Resonance is available as softcover or as an ibook:

iBook Edition features: Introductory media with song ‘Layers’ by Lynn Hollyfield ( and readings by Suzanne Scurlock-Durana (
Softcover Edition can be purchased through CreateSpace Store ( and (  This edition contains a link to download the audio readings by Suzanne Scurlock-Durana.

I invite you to follow my blog:

And in the spirit of stepping out there I am going to ask you for some help in getting my work seen. I've entered a photography competition - Exposure2014.
In addition to the juried component, there is opportunity of exposure of the work based on popular vote. (You do need to log in with name and email in order to vote, however, the galleries are amazing to look through and the unsubscribe simple if you don't want to check out all the cool galleries! Photography friends - you may want to enter your own work!!)

I'd like to reach 100 votes so my work can get some international viewing:
100 votes guarantees the artist inclusion in a digital display of work that will be traveling the globe via museum quality flat screen monitors. See.Me will be shipping these monitors to New York, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles and Hong Kong where the work will be on display as part of the digital show for one week in each city.

The link to my entry and to vote:

Thanks so much for your help and for seeing me!

An’ Marie 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

something i'm workin' on......

i've been consciously doin' something that's actually working.

part of me is totally thrilled it's working.
and part of me isn't.

i have been actively working on paying attention,
savoring the moments, appreciating those around me,
and just consciously stepping into happiness.

i've been doin' this full force for about two weeks.

and i've been feeling happier.
it's making a difference.
i can even see the people around me reacting to it.

why wouldn't all of me be thrilled about this?
well, because i think it means more participation in my own life.
more grabbing hold of it instead of just letting it happen.

i don't for one minute think i can control my happiness and stay that
way all the time.

i mean, i guess if i were enlightened or something....but i'm not.

i know i'm gonna hit plenty of down times i can't pull myself out of.
i know that.
i know there's plenty of depressing things to knock me into the mud
and it'll take some time to get out of that. i know that.

but i can see that there's plenty of times where there's a real choice
that i make. where i really can choose to be happier, more present,
just plain more alive.

 and sometimes making the 'living fully' choice is a bit more effort.
 and sometimes the lazy side of me isn't so sure about it all.

so there is a part of me that's draggin' my heels.
while another part of me is dancing and swaying with the music.
it's quite a thing to watch.

it's quite a thing to experience.

Monday, March 24, 2014

weaving a few thoughts together

three strong thoughts whirling around me and thru me from the
weekend on into today -

the first is easy - i felt like the luckiest person alive this weekend.
had so much good in my life, i thought i might pop. it's carried thru to today.
i could not be more grateful for the people around me. and for these guys
in my life and the love that we share - i am beyond blessed.

the second is longer, but i'll nutshell so we can weave these together -
i think trying to make healthy choices in all parts of our life matters so much.
and it takes personal responsibility and strength to make that happen.
that's been on my mind for days.
there's volumes there. but that's the gist. and it's one heck of a gist when
you start watchin' for it. i want to make it more and more and more part of
my life.

the third is sad, so again i'll nutsell - thinking of my sister in law who i lost
two years ago today, and an old friend i was just getting to know again who
also passed two years ago right around now. they're on my mind so big time today.

and these three lumps of thoughts that have taken over me?
they weave together so beautifully, don't they?
talk about a gorgeously full tapestry!

a tapestry of living - of life while we have it - knowing it's not forever.
and the passings - the brevity - knowing we need to make the best of what
we've got - and appreciate those around us while we have them -
what a profound mix.

i want to grab life and appreciate it, and celebrate it.
i want to make it healthy and strong and full of real and honest love.
i want to stop and listen.
i want to hear and feel.
i want to dream and reach and stretch.
and i want to appreciate the gift of it all.

some days i do.
i really truly do.
and some days i forget.

i want to forget less
and live it more.

and as i look out the window at the budding trees -
i feel so ready to do just that.

Friday, March 21, 2014


i was finishing up workin' in the yard.
i was walkin' slow.
easin' my back into standing up straight.
slippin' off my work gloves, i wandered over to the mail box.
the street's gettin' busy enough you gotta pay attention
so as not to get run over.
it's not that busy.
but i never even used to look.
now i look.
as i crossed back over onto my driveway,
i thumbed thru all the junk and headed for my recyclin' bin.
and then i saw it.

oh look!
i stopped mid-stride on the driveway.
wow! look at that!
i tore open the envelope.

i smiled and smiled and smiled.

and sighed.

and shook my head.


as i walked up to my door to put the letter inside,
i declared right out loud 'he's my hero.'

he's my 93 year old hero.

i don't even know how old he was when i met him.
had to be at least 83. maybe 85.
he liked bone sighs and came to a 'meet the artist'
thing i did.
that right there says something.
an 85 year old man liked bone sighs??
grinnin' here.
way cool.

he met me and my kids. he was a photographer.
took a shot of all of us. it was the early days.
we all looked like we had been thru an awful lot.
and we had.
i see it every time i look at that picture.
he didn't see that tho.
he saw our beauty.

and we kept in touch.
but a few years back, we just lost touch.
and i was afraid to find out if he had passed.
i just didn't really want to hear that.
so i left it be.
sometimes i do that.
bury my head in the sand.

but there he was.
in my mailbox.
in assisted living now.
typing me a letter and enclosing that very photo
he took of me and the boys and one of himself.

there wasn't a complaint to be had.
there wasn't one of those guilt trips
of 'why haven't i heard from you.'
HE apologized to me for dropping outta touch.
he explained his health decline in the most
non-complaining way you could imagine. and summed it up
as 'things have been a bit messy.'
he misses his old house 'but am thankful for the life i had.'

he 'reckons' the boys have grown up and was curious what
everyone was up to.

he still takes pictures, but he can't get out and travel much
and his 'fellow retirees don't make the greatest models.'

i laughed out loud.

he's what i want to be when i grow older.
interesting and positive.
not sunk into himself.
alive even tho he's older.

i'm keepin' this letter.
it's proof to me.
it can be done.

i'll be writing him.
and telling him how much his letter means to me.
we touch people in the most amazing ways and don't
even know it.
he will be told about being my hero for sure.

what a reminder that how we live truly touches those
around us. and who we are matters more than we can
even know.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

the people around me - our third offering -

recently, i decided to tap into the incredible wealth of thoughts, insights and experiences
of the people around me. i wrote to a buncha different people asking for their insights
on different subjects. i hope to be posting one of their responses each wednesday.

this is our third offering in the series. it comes from my friend and mentor, pamela jones.
i just call her 'po.' and po, from the bottom of my heart, i thank you for this offering.
it screams of exactly why i love you so. what an honor to share you here.

What are friends for?

When my dear friend, terri, asked if I would be a part of a project where she offered us questions and we responded with our views, I thought it sounded like fun. Along with some other amazing people (if they are terri’s friends, they must be amazing), I would get to share a viewpoint and also enjoy reading what those other folks had to say. What would my topic be? World Peace? Kindness? Creativity? No such luck. Instead, her email read:
“are you okay if i go to the loss of your son? …and what i'd like to ask is what are some of the insights that you gained thru all of that?”

What are friends for?

Real friends are for encouraging us to be our complete selves in the midst of all the events that make up our lives. Real friends are for opening us to the opportunity to take stock and sort out the experiences that have made us who we are – and who we are becoming. With that in mind, I will do my best to answer in less than a thousand pages what insights I have gained through the loss of a child. If anyone is reading this who is in the midst of such a loss, I want to say up front that it has taken years for these insights to develop and a great deal of time for the rawness of grief to give way to peace. I remember being alternately angry at words like those I will share here and feeling inadequate that I could not put my grief, my anger, and my sorrow aside to feel such resolution. This is where I am now, not where I was then; and I will share with you the words a friend spoke to me at that worst time: “Someday, when you have finished grieving, you will use this experience to help someone else who is going through the same thing.” I can’t begin to tell you how angry that made me and how true it was, when the time came that I was ready. Do not judge yourself for anything while you are grieving. Grief has no rules. Take your time. Feel your sorrow, and just keep breathing until the world sets itself upright again. And it will.

Our lives are made up of days and months and years when one day seems pretty much like the other. We meander through a friendly world and enjoy the time we spend exploring what it means to be human. But there are days that set themselves apart from the others. They are the days that mark events that alter the way we view the universe, for better or worse, and sometimes divide our time into “before and after.” The birth of a child, the loss of a parent, a move from one location to another, times of great joy and times of great sorrow, and times of great insight. My life will forever have two segments called “Before Brett died” and “After Brett died,” because his arrival, his short stay, and his departure have changed me irrevocably.

I come from a family with great longevity. I grew up in a household with a great-aunt who began talking to me about death when she was in her seventies. She wanted me to know that she would not live forever; and although I protested with many tears, she insisted that I listen. “Don’t cry at my funeral,” she would tell me. “Promise me. And I want you to sing my favorite hymn.” I was eleven years old when she extracted this promise and twenty-nine when I delivered. She died on my birthday in 1979. At the time, I thought it was kind of crappy that she chose that day to move on; but in the time after my son died, I found comfort in that simple coincidence. One year later, in February of 1980, my boys went out to play Olympics with their friends. Brett was six years old at the time and looking forward to his seventh birthday on March 11. As they crossed the quiet street in front of our house, everyone saw the car that came slowly down the hill – everyone but Brett. The car that hit him was going 20 miles per hour. The driver was not impaired. It was an accident, pure and simple; and it changed my life in an instant. That instant set in motion a series of unfolding insights that continue to appear to this day.

Here they are:

1. I had studied Physics and learned that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Now I learned that when one object was a small boy and one was a large car, the car wins.

This may seem harsh and without any maternal love, but it was important, with my world turned upside down, to know that the universe does not alter its order to suit the individual. I needed my world right-side-up, and I needed to understand that I wasn’t singled out.

2. I learned that life is not linear. It spirals and loops and turns all over the place, but usually those loops are so subtle that we don’t even notice them. Now I learned that the linear view – we are born, we grow up, we grow old, we die – was not always accurate.

I had to consider, for the first time, that life was not so simple; and this expanded view has helped me time and time again. When we place people in the constraints of a linear timeline, we set ourselves up to judge. I have grown in compassion as I have seen others whose loops and spirals have taken them to sad places. I can relate.

3. I have learned that some loops and spirals are surprisingly sorrowful and others are surprisingly wonderful. Now that I recognize them, I experience joy at times I might have overlooked before.

Imagine my surprise, when I married my sweetheart, to learn that his son – MY son – had been born the day Brett was buried. And he was just turning six. Sometimes the universe sees a boy who needs a mom and a mom who needs a son. Loop, spiral, joy!

4. I have learned not to fear death.

Now I suppose this one has morphed from one form to another to fifty more over time. In the early days of my grief, I stopped fearing death, because I didn’t see why it mattered if I continued to live. Fortunately, this stage of anguish lasted a very short but intense time. Thankfully, I had good friends who propped me up and helped me go through the motions of living until I began to feel alive again.
One morning, several weeks after Brett died, I had a dream that seemed so real that I was right there in it. I suppose my subconscious had picked up the sounds of my surviving children playing in the early morning, and I found myself in the boys’ bedroom. Brett was there, playing with his little sister. “Oh! You’re here!” I said in surprise. As I moved toward him and tried to give him a hug, he backed away, smiling all the time until he disappeared into the mist in the corner of the room. There was something in that smile that said, “I am okay. You can’t touch me, but I am here.” If I close my eyes, I still can go to that dream; and it has brought me great comfort.

I have come to believe that losing my great-aunt Essie on my own birthday was another looping spiral that calls me to remember her – and her wisdom – every time I turn the calendar for another year.

5. I have learned that grief, in all its raw truth, tells us lies.

If you are grieving right now, remember that you cannot judge the remainder of your life based on the anguish you feel right now. I told myself many lies during those days. I could not go on without my son – and here I am, more than thirty years later. I could never risk loving another child, because the pain of losing him was so great – and I have added five more children to my family since that time. I was a terrible mother, because I had let one of my children die before me – but I am a world-class mom who has brought her children back from the edge and made it possible for all of us to cherish the memory of their brother.

6. I have learned that grief is love, turned inside out.

We cannot grieve deeply unless we have loved deeply. Every tear I cried, every moment of raw pain, every memory of times that never could be again expressed how deeply and passionately I had loved my little boy while I had him here. In time, I figured out that he wanted me to go on being happy and being the sort of mom to the rest of my kids that I had been to him. I learned to turn my grief inside out and live each day as a tribute to the depth of love we had shared. This changed my life.

7. I have realized that every single day there are mothers burying children.

I have a heart and compassion for every one of them that my linear view had blocked before Brett died. It never really entered my awareness that a mother whose child dies in the poorest slum in Calcutta feels the same pain that I felt – that life circumstances which might make it a more frequent occurrence really do not matter to the heart of a mother. And I pray every day for mothers and children who stand at the edge of the abyss.

8. I have learned how important it is to get the message out to people about death not being a monster that chooses you and attacks and robs you of life. Instead, it is a part of the continuum of living.
By learning to embrace all of life, including the fact that it is finite, I have been able to stand by people who are near the end. This gives me, and I hope them, great peace.
I hope there is something here that resonates with someone who needs to hear it today. When my son died, my view of the world was radically altered. I raged and grieved for a time; but the day finally came when I had to admit that it would be a difficult choice to make if I were offered to have him back and give up all I had learned or to lose what had become myself and know that I could not touch him just one more time. I suppose the decision to embrace all his death had taught me was an easy one to make, because the universe does not allow such choices.

9. In the end, we must choose whether to live our days stuck in sorrow or to be fully alive and grab hold of all that life puts before us.

Thirty years ago, I never could have imagined

  • That a year later I would be there for my best friend’s mother when her son died at age 32
  • That I would go on to love five more children
  • That I would walk with each of them, at their request, to visit the cemetery
(when they were just about Brett’s age) and tell them about their brother.
  • That people who were nearing the end of their lives would show up, again and again, and share with me the grace and wisdom they learned along the way and allow me to be there when they reached the end.
  • That all of this would prepare me for my father’s last days, and that I would be able to reassure him as he prepared to leave this world for the next.

10. I leave you with the greatest realization, the one that encompasses all the rest. Love never dies. When the dust settles and the wind blows our grief away, it is the love that remains. If you are missing someone you have cherished, honor their memory by loving fiercely, wherever you go. A dear old friend, in her 90’s at the time, told me “the most important thing is to be remembered.” Live, love, and remember. Very close by, beyond a thin veil, the people we love are watching. And smiling. 

a spring plan

'i didn't even know i was mad.' she said.
'i was painting and i could feel it and i said 'ohh you're really mad.'
but i didn't know til i was painting.'

she's one of my favorite people in the world.
one of those people you don't have to explain your thinking to.
she just gets it.
and we sound alike so often it makes me laugh.

i told her i had just had something i didn't realize i was carrying either.
and it came out and i was surprised i didn't know about it til it showed up.

i had been wondering how on earth i was sposed to work on stuff inside me
if i didn't know it was there.

it was in hearing her story, i realized -
maybe sometimes the approach just can't be 'okay, this is in me, and i'm gonna go
work with that.'
cause obviously, you can't do that if you don't know it's there.

so maybe we need to make a practice of creating space for things to come out.

her hidden feelings came out as she painted.
mine came out as i puttered around with my house.
both of us were just relaxing, enjoying, opening, being present.

and ta da!

it's nice timing to have this thought.
spring is just about here.
it will be time to just go be out in the yard and putter.
seems to me a great place to make space for whatever's inside
to come on out.

it just happened to both of us.
neither of us deliberately did anything.

but what if i were more mindful?
what if i went outside with the idea of -
yeah, i'm gonna do yardwork, but not really.
that's just the excuse.
i'm gonna go invite whatever wants to whisper,
to go ahead and whisper.
and if it's quiet, well, that's fine, i'll do yardwork.
whatever works.

seems like i'd be creating more space,
practicing more mindfulness,
and accepting my process even more.

welcome spring!

Monday, March 17, 2014

journeys, destinations, and rest stops

i was out shoveling my driveway -

shoveling my driveway monday morning,
and clearing the garden and doin' yardwork in my tee shirt the morning before -
i am loving this crazy mix of weather!

anyway, i was out shoveling and thinking.

i was thinking about the weekend and how i had gotten to a place
inside of me that i had really wanted to get to.

i thought about that.

it was a place.

you know how they always say 'it's not the destination, it's the journey?'
well, for this particular thing, i had a destination in mind.
it was like traveling to a place inside of me.
i'm absolutely positive the journey matters.
but this time, my eye was on the destination.

kinda like you'd travel to cleveland.

and it was really like travelin' to cleveland.

there were times i just blindly moved forward, knowing the road
ahead of me.

there were times i wasn't sure i was on the right road at all,
feelin' lost, but thinking 'this must be the way. don't turn around.
don't give up yet. just wait for the sign that tells you if it is or not.'
and feelin' nervous until i got that sign.

that kinda thing.

and when i got there, i knew it.
and a voice went thru my head at that exact moment saying -
'and we're home.'

that was the exact phrase that went thru my head.

it was pretty awesome.

here's the thing tho.

while it was like traveling somewhere, and yeah, why not say cleveland?
the traveling may be similar -
it's not like getting to cleveland tho.
cause it's not like once you're there, you're there.
and it's not like you don't leave til you decide to leave.

it's not like that at all.

it's like you gotta keep travelin'.
you gotta keep goin'.
you might stop and rest.
enjoy a scenic spot.
take in the view.

but if you don't pay attention,
you'll be sucked right back into some dark tunnel you passed
days ago and miles and miles ago.

so, while i was concentrating on the destination,
the journey never stops.
and i keep travelin'.
and maybe the destination just gets better and better.

it's a really weird mix.

i do have destinations i want to get to.
i really do.
but i see that the only way to not lose the places we get to -
or maybe not lose the value of the places we get to -
is to keep moving.
to keep journeying.

i do think tho that i'm gonna just take a little break
at this rest stop over here.....
maybe have some tea and look at the view before i hop back
on the road....

Thursday, March 13, 2014


sometimes when she painted,
she forgot to stop.
maybe because it wasn't exactly like it was something to stop.
it was more like she was visiting somewhere.
some place.
a colorful place that sang songs and whispered things
way down deep for her insides to hear.
she'd sing and whisper too and wander inside the colors,
visiting every swirl and drip she could.
and she listened.
she listened way close to what the colors had to say.
and that's why sometimes she forgot to stop.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

the people around me - our second offering -

recently i decided to tap into the incredible wealth of thoughts, insights and experiences
of the people around me. i wrote to a buncha different people i know asking for their thoughts
on different subjects. i hope to be posting one of their responses each wednesday.

our second offering in our new series is from a friend of mine who has a daughter with

it's a topic i know all too little about and yet is so widespread. i thought it was time i
started learning a bit.  it is with gratitude for her sharing and her daughter's permission
to do so, that i offer you the following...


This is a mothers perspective of anorexia. I want to write a disclaimer here though. Anorexia is a complex thing, and is as unique as each young girl and boy (eating disorders now affect many males as well as females) that struggles with an eating disorder.

It has been over a decade sharing my home with an eating disorder. It was about five years in that I realized that I had an unwelcome guest living in my house. "Ed" had come to dinner and had refused to leave. It was truly like an uninvited guest had come in and had been controlling many facets of my life. Ed changed how I shopped, how I cooked, how I even ate and how I spent my time and my resources; and it had happened so subtly that I didn't even realize that Ed had moved in with a stubborn resistance that I could only define as insidious.

My life became absorbed with trips to therapists and dietitians, none of which was covered by insurance; in search for answers, a cure. Ed did not like to be weighed and did not want to talk about food, but Ed sure spent a lot of time measuring food. My trips to the grocery store were no longer simple. I could no longer prepare a family meal that we would all sit down to enjoy together. Ed would look at my meals as if they were poison and would sit down in anger staring at them with mistrust and disgust. If the family went to a restaurant Ed would sulk and refuse to eat anything at all. I found the more I focused on what Ed would refuse to eat, the more I found myself eating. Ed did not even like to eat in the presence of other people. Ed put separation between me and my daughter. Ed changed my daughter's appearance so much that it would terrify me to look at her body at times. Ed has very nearly taken my daughter away from me. I began to address Ed and tell him that he was no longer welcome here. That didn't make Ed leave. Battling Ed has only made him stronger.

It has been a lot of years living with Ed now. We no longer see therapists or dietitians because they all betrayed Ed and he could not trust them. Ed and I still share the same house. My daughter has had the most success with encouraging Ed to try new things. I've given up and learned to accept what I cannot change, although I still get pretty terrified at times. Ed has made me feel pretty powerless and hopeless at times. He has often left me feeling as though my heart has been wrenched from my chest.

Ed, is the man that my daughter gave her heart to and he has not been kind to her. He has been a hard taskmaster; demanding her thoughts, her obedience, her deprivation, her loyalty; and the cost has taken a toll upon her soul. She has given her strength and so much more, beyond what any human should have to endure. What is it that this man does for her, that she has allowed him to rule over her for so long?

It kind of dawned on me today, that I really need to understand what he provides for her. Ed is here for a reason, obviously. I am certain that ed is a jealous protector, who has promised to give her what her parents never did. Enticing her with promises of giving her the childhood that she so desired.

How can I make her understand that I hear her and grieve for her childhood loss?  Her father  never adored her or held her close, he never sat her upon his knee.  It was not because anything was wrong with her.  She was a precious little girl.  It was her father's greatest loss that he was not healthy enough to adore her.  Try as I might, I couldn't do this for her and I am so sorry that I could not make everything right.  All I can do is love her still and honor that little girl by telling her she was worthy of so much more.


Here are a few sites that I have found helpful:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

trying not to be arrogant in response

i really don't like arrogance.
but then again, who does?

but i saw something interesting in myself while watching it up close.
let's see -
how should i put this?
the thoughts in my head were less than loving.

so if i'm sitting there thinking something like 'oh gosh you guys,
you suck with all these darn answers of yours.'

well, isn't that just as arrogant?
certainly just as obnoxious.

i noticed that,
and went to change the thought patterns.

should i show compassion?

well that turned a bit arrogant as well -

'gosh, what a shame you think you know everything,
you're missing so much.'

laughin' here.

you get the idea.

wow, terri, can you really only react to arrogance with arrogance?
c'mon girl, you can do better than that.

it took some adjusting, i gotta say.
but i did it.

i had to really sit and look at the person and see them as a person.
not their words.

i can't say i liked them any more.
but i can say that i could see them as humans tryin' to get by.

and i realized that my reactions were a bit defensive.
because i feel like with their answers, they discount me and my feelings.
that i don't count.
i guess.

but that's silly.
the only one who can discount me is me.

and right now, i'm in a really good place with me.
and i'm not doin' that.
so there isn't any big threat.
and i can let go of the snottiness.....
and just let them be.

okay, with a little effort.
but it's a start.

Monday, March 10, 2014

thoughts from the road

it was an hour drive home from the funeral.
gives ya plenty of time to think.
i kept the music and the radio off.
just wanted to be with my thoughts.

i asked myself what i'd want said at my funeral.
and it was a mish mash of a two parter.

the first thing that came to mind was this -

'terri cracked open her ribs and lived with her heart wide open.'

that's what i really want said with sincerity.

terri lived.

so i'd better pay attention to that.
cause if that's what i want, then i want to do it with all i have.

i do pretty good.
i know that.
but you know how it goes, there's always room for improvement.
and i wanna move in on that improvement.
stop the darn stupid hiding.
that kinda thing.
believe in myself more.
that stuff......

so the shifts that have been happening inside of me lately -
the stuff about accepting myself more and that kinda stuff,
well it got even more exciting as i drove along.
because i know that stuff will head me more in the direction i want to go.

and the other thing will sound weird at first.
hopefully it will make sense when i'm done.

'when terri was a jerk, she eventually caught it and adjusted herself.'

grinnin' here.

'jerk' is my word i use for people who don't realize the feelings of others
around them.

and i swear, my lesson lately is i'm not as innocent as i think i am when it
comes to hurting others.

let's face it, it goes with the territory of being human.
i get that.
but the more aware we are, the less likely we are to do it.
and sometimes i'm just not aware.

as soon as i become aware, i adjust myself.

and that matters a ton to me.
even if the other person has no idea i've adjusted anything,
as long as i know i did, that's what counts to me.

i spose that could be reworded to something like -
'while a little slow on the uptake sometimes, terri eventually would see
those around her and act with love.'

those two things.
that's what i'd like said if i could pick.

and i smiled as i drove along.
cause it certainly puts everything into perspective, doesn't it?

i'd suggest it for everyone -
figure out what you'd want said,
and then go make it happen.

here's to the gift of being here today.
here's to making it all we can.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

embracing me and my life...

i find it fascinating the way our inner processes work
and what gives them room to do their thing.

i have been puttering on the inside of my house.
a lot.
it's almost an addiction lately.

i've changed art around. painted my front door,
touched up paint here and there, put up a few shelves,
am off to cut a few more today...
on and on.
oh - but the best???
i put TWO door knockers on my front door.
one up high for adults.
one low for kids.
in special honor of the inner child inside of me.

i clapped and clapped and clapped over that one!

i have been enjoying it immensely.
it's good to do the things that need doing.
that always feels good.
it's good to take care of what you got.
that always feels good.
and then....
there's something else.......

as i move something over here,
and then change it over there...
getting it just right...
i can feel inside of me when it's just right.
when it works just perfectly for me.

and in that process,
something happened inside of me.

i think it's that feeling of 'it's just right' happening over and over again -
the tuning in to what works for me and no one else...

for the first time EVER i'm completely comfortable with my surroundings.
i have made them totally mine.
and it's one huge mish-mash of home-made or thrift store or make-dos.
and i LIKE that.

i realized i like that.

i've always done that because of finances.
and so i always assumed that 'when it gets better' i'd change it all,
buy new things, have things match, have good quality.

suddenly, none of that matters any more.
and because that little tiny bit of weight that i carried around forever
is gone, i can notice it was there. and i really hadn't realized before.

but there's a freedom now that feels brand new.

it's a getting comfortable with both who i am and where i am.
they are completely tied together.

there's no 'if i was more successful, my house would be nicer.'

or no waiting for things to change or no thinking something needs
to be better than it is.

it's completely -'hey! this is my place! and it feels awesome!'

i don't know how to put it into words.
but i sense a whole shift of acceptance of myself and my life
in a way i'm not sure i ever had before.

it's beyond acceptance -
it's an embracing that feels so darn good.

and maybe that's what this crazy winter has given me......

Friday, March 7, 2014

international women's day

i was driving and thinking about international women's day.
i saw a couple posts on it today, getting us all geared up.
and as i drove i thought about being a woman.

'i don't even know how to be a woman.' i thought.

'okay, terri. what does that mean?' i asked myself.

and i thought of all the things i picked up/learned about being a woman
that were false and how it's taking me a long long time to sift thru them
and some of that stuff i wonder if i'll ever set down.

i thought of how interesting it was to be empathetic and intuitive and
understand what people need and at the same time balance offering
and enabling.

it's taken me a lotta years to even see there's a difference.

i thought of all my body image struggles and i remembered many of
the comments from boys/men that have fed into those struggles along
with the insecurity of other women who were having their own body issues.

i thought of all my floundering attempts at love.

and then i got to wondering was it being a woman or being human?

i have no idea, since i'm not a guy.
so i went back to thinking about being a woman.

'so what does it mean to be a woman?' i asked myself.

'if someone asked you right now, terri, what would you say?'

and right exactly at that moment i turned into my driveway.
and i kid you not, it was sunset and at that very moment
when i made that turn, it was as if i was turning into the most
glorious sky you'd ever want to see.

it was on fire.

it was gloriously majestically on fire.

'THAT'S what being a woman is!' i said out loud to myself in the car.

and i sat there and soaked in the sky.

living that fire, exuding that glow, being that vast and open -
that's a woman at her best.

that's who i want to be.

having come nowhere close to that lately,
i also knew that part of the glow had to hold compassion for
the aches and pains and bumps of the journey and the times the
fire was down to mere embers......

maybe it's not always seen, but it is always there.
and just knowing that made me feel good.

to all my sisters of the fire -
i wish you a happy international women's day.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


this has not been my favorite winter.
it's had some great moments. it has.
but my goodness, it's had some moments that have totally knocked me on my rear end.

i get up, maybe take some vitamins, maybe paint my kitchen floor,
maybe go stand out in the sun in total desperation praying to the sun gods
to zap me with some good feelin' stuff.

but it was today because of several happenings,
i could feel something turning inside.
really turning me.
in a direction with a view that i've missed.

they were good happenings.
altho not all easy.
but they reminded me of a few things i needed remembering.
and they showed me colors i hadn't seen in awhile.

'connecting' was a theme in each of these happenings today.


i cannot survive without it.
and sometimes it's so darn hard to come by.
the real stuff.
you can come by the shallow stuff way easy.
but the real stuff can be elusive at times.

who we are is such a gift.
the offering of our real selves is nothing short of holy.

a friend asked me the other day how i would define 'grace.'
i was actually standing up getting ready to leave the room when
i saw the note. i typed something quickly off the top of my head
because i knew i didn't have any definition that would capture it.

there was something in there tho that i remember as i type this blog,
the definition included when we totally get out of our own way...
there was more...
there was stuff about touching god and the flow and all that poetic kinda stuff....

but the getting out of our own way is what i remember right now.

i think what today reminded me of most was that sometimes things
are really hard to come by because we get in our own way. and i think
today i made an effort to get out of my way. and that in itself turned
something inside of me.

and yeah, the thing about who we are is such a gift? it's not one sided by any means.
i also got reminded that those around us offering themselves to us is a huge gift as well,
and one that must not be taken for granted.

and somewhere in there, somehow that i don't have words for - i'm pretty sure
that that very give and take - that flow between people being open and loving -
that connecting and connection -
that there is grace in that...and a lotta other poetic kinda stuff.
and colors.
there's some pretty awesome colors in all of that.
and today i saw them again.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

the people around me

recently i decided to tap into the incredible wealth of thoughts, insights and experiences
of the people around me. i wrote to a buncha different people i know asking for their thoughts
on different subjects. i hope to be posting one of their responses each week.

our very first post is posted anonymously as she mentions AA and therefore needs
to keep her name private.

i am delighted to share a little window into her experience down the road of recovery -
thank you, friend, for this offering!


I stopped drinking twice. The first time I stopped because I experienced a blackout, and it scared me. I didn’t even realize what it was, at the time. A blackout is when a space of time passes and you don’t remember what happened during it. Wait, how did I get here??? It doesn’t mean passing out; it means totally blanking out. But I didn’t work a recovery program the first time, and that makes a big difference. At that point, I didn’t even know the word recovery. So about a decade later when my life hit another stress point, I lapsed. And when this happens, it sweeps over you like a mudslide. It makes up for the lost time.
My husband and I had recently moved, and it was a difficult one. We also met and started going on double dates with a couple who really enjoyed their alcohol. Oh, they were very refined and classy, but it was a lot of alcohol. I was really feeling gleeful whenever we got together, but this phase was what accelerated my fast decline into having four or more drinks of one kind or another every single day.
I knew it was a problem, but I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I was afraid of what I’d find out. I looked things up on the web: How do I know if I’m an alcoholic? I watched the show called “Intervention”; I picked up books about drinkers. Luckily, I happened to sign up with a new doctor that I liked and trusted, and we had a discussion. At her encouragement, I tried to go a week without drinking, but didn’t make it. I asked her to refer me to a therapist who specialized in addictions. That was a huge relief to be able to confide my concerns to someone!!! After I’d seen her a few times, she asked me to consider AA. I resisted a bit; I had judgments about the type of people I’d find, but I went. Here’s something important I learned right away: every meeting time and location have a different flavor. I tried only twice: the first place felt dirty, somehow, a lot of smokers. The second location felt very clean and comfortable and welcoming. The people spoke my “language”; I related to them. I felt seen. I belonged.
I eagerly picked a sponsor; I was very interested in what the 12-Step Program was, and wanted to get started. Through my first year, I worked steadily with my sponsor, earning “chips” along the way. I loved having some direction! I felt invigorated, excited. No more guilt, no more hiding how much I’m refilling my glass, feeling sneaky and ashamed, even to my sweet husband! I had no previous idea that this was what “recovery” was about, or I would have skipped many months of feeling desperate and sneaky and guilty!
Let me say one last thing, which is important. People dig in their heals because AA is a “spiritual” program. They hear the name “God” and they freak out, shouting about abuses by “organized religion”. Here is the phrase that is used in the program: the God of your Understanding. That’s right; you can have your own belief system. Quite often, I’m not sure myself what I believe in, but I know there’s a mystery out there, that’s bigger than me, and that’s all I have to admit … that I’m not in total control of this life. For some reason, that works. But one has to be willing. Willing to embrace change in your life. Willing to let go, a little, and keep an open mind. As long as you dig your heels in, thinking I’m different and making judgments, well, you’re just ignoring the main issue.

I’ve been embracing life for three full years now. It just keeps getting better. The principles of the program deliver what they promise. You just have to do the work.


Official Site of AA with information: "Only You Can Decide"

An online chat room that holds scheduled meetings and just hangs out together in between.

This is a pamphlet that answers Frequently Asked Questions:

This is a link to full online versions of the show, "Intervention".   

what would his birthday wisdom be now?

i put the tea on,
and stood at the window.
gazing at the back yard.
taking in the beauty of the snow.
and thinking of my pop.
he would have been 81 today.
wow, that's hard to imagine.

i looked at the snow and smiled.
he was from the north.
didn't mind snow.

as a matter of fact, one of my favorite things about
my parents was that  they not only didn't mind rain or snow -
they liked it. they enjoyed it. they went out in it.

i always thought that was cool.

he used to ask for our 'birthday wisdom' on our birthdays.
we were sposed to offer something that we had figured out.
and of course, he always had his ready to go.
and as i recall, with his offerings, there was always a book involved.
we'd reach the end of dinner,
the cake would be brought out.
i think he'd take a bite first,
but it wasn't long before he scooted that chair out
and disappeared into the other room.

if you didn't know any better, you would think he just left.
but no, he was off getting a book he'd read that had something
that had tickled him and he was gonna include that somehow in
his birthday wisdom.

there was much eye rolling and groaning at that point,
but he ignored it and went forward.
if he had to, he'd look up over those big black glasses and
tell you to hush with those dark eyes of his.
he'd wait for the quiet, and then he'd start.
and i smile remembering those moments, so glad that he did.

what would your birthday wisdom be now, dad? i wondered.

goals were always a big topic with him.
setting them, making clear ones, techniques to reach them....

being concise and clear,
thinking thru things,
realizing the importance of your decisions.

they were all big topics with my dad.

i thought of all the things that he focused on while he was alive.
and while i've come to agree with a whole lot of his thinking
and like to incorporate some of those thoughts into my own living -

i'm pretty darn sure if he could come back for an hour,
that's not what he'd be talking about.
and those wouldn't be the things he'd tell me matter.

i poured my tea and sat down.
and asked myself what he might say.
and it came right to me -

life is short, terri.
shorter than you can possibly imagine.
you gotta live it.
and yeah, you gotta fill it with the things that are right for you.
not because of all the fluffy pop psych reasons you've heard about -
but because living what's right for you leads you into becoming you.
and in that becoming you touch what matters.
you don't need to get hung up in the rules.
toss the rules away.

and then he'd pause for effect.
because he'd know that'd make me fall outta my chair.
he was a pretty big rule follower.
and certainly wasn't into talking about finding yourself
or becoming you, or touching what matters.

toss the rules away,
and live with all you've got.
walk into who you are and stay there.
and be kind.
thru it all, be kind to yourself and those around you.
and love.
love in every way you can.
cause, yeah, it turns out it really is all about living and loving.

i sat there for a bit trying to figure out if that's what i really think
he'd say.

i think maybe so.
maybe not quite the same words....
but i'm thinking close to those thoughts......

sitting there thinking about it all,
i lifted my tea and toasted him.
here's to you, dad.
happy birthday.

Monday, March 3, 2014

a snow day

clearing off the table that sits under my living room window,
i pulled up a chair, plopped down my laptop
and decided this would be my office for the day.

one of my better decisions.

from here i can watch the world become transformed
from what must be this last blast of winter.

i look straight up into the gray skies and can't see the snow falling.
it's not there. not visible anyway. all i see is a gray-white blanket.
if i look over at the tree branches against the gray,
i see the buds of spring hangin' on thru the cold blasts shaking the branches.
they will not be discouraged. and it makes me smile.

it's not til i look further down that i see the flakes blowin' sideways
and in circles, falling, falling, falling.

i like that.
the fact i can't see the snow when i look up high.
not sure why.
just adds to the magic of it all, i guess.

sitting alone in the house, by the fire, i get lost in the snow and my thoughts.
seems like i wonder a lot these days of 'what it's all about' and 'where i'm going' -

i helped myself to some soup i had simmering on the stove.
grabbed a whole wheat roll that was still warm from coming out of the oven.

i sat down on my couch and had lunch.

i tasted the soup.
REALLY tasted it.
thought about how i really liked the taste of lentils.
and how good the soup tasted.
i just sat with the soup.
then i took a bite of the roll.
that was an extra treat.
i don't eat much wheat anymore.
and i hadn't baked any kinda bread in years.
it was beyond delicious to me.
it was such a treat.

i noticed how i was sitting on the couch.
and appreciated how i fit on it.
it was as if it was built for my size.
i leaned into it and realized how much i liked it.
it had been something i bought at the thrift store,
needing a couch, figuring one day i'll get a brand new really nice one.
always thinking i'd replace it.
always feeling a bit apologetic for it.

just then i realized i didn't need to.
it was perfect for me.
how had i never realized that before?

staring at the fire, a real warmth came over me.
i wasn't cold at all.
something i've rarely felt in my house this winter.
i noticed it and soaked it in.
it's probably a hot flash, i thought, and laughed.
whatever it was, it felt good.

'maybe this is it, terri.' i thought.
this complete presence and appreciation.
maybe this is where your answers are -
in just being present and appreciating.

when it's all said and done and you're reflecting back
on whether you really lived or not, don't you want to know that
when you tasted your whole wheat rolls, they were the best rolls you ever tasted?
don't you want to know that your body fit just right into your couch, and
that you loved lentils? and soup on a snowy day made you feel like the
coziest person alive?

honestly i think that is what i want to know at the end.
along with all the other things i want to add to that list that i enjoyed, noticed
and soaked in. including the people and the love, of course.

maybe it's nothing more than that.
and maybe that's the simplest and hardest thing ever.

the snow keeps falling.
my world is transformed today.
and i'm thinking maybe, just maybe, there's an angel up in that white gray blanket
of sky that's absolutely tickled i stopped and noticed.