For Laura

I know some incredible women.

It is one of those women’s birthday today.

Some people just blow you away. Laura inspires me daily. She is an artist, a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. A leader. A teacher. An activist. A community contributor. An active citizen.

She lost her 20 year old brother to suicide in 2000. Rather than fall into despair, she has used her grief to create, educate, help and heal.

Read about one of her creations, Arts & Dreams, and the incredible work they do here.

Enjoy her art work here.

Laura reminds me to live creatively, lovingly, with ample doses of self-forgiveness.

I am so lucky she was born and that I know her.

She Is
Scarlet lips
Piercing chocolate eyes
Portals who see your soul
Lives in brush strokes
Of love and thoughtful heart
Colors rich with knowing
Midwife of self-love
Earth angel saving
wretched alone-hearts
One mantra at a time

Maybe Someday, Button

Maybe someday I will…

Feel confident about my talents

Love my thighs

Forgive “God” for not giving me what I secretly demand of life

Appreciate my own heart

Speak up for myself in the moment instead of going blank until it is too late

Embrace my imperfections

Drink enough water

Go to sleep simply

Leave my phone out of the bedroom

Be able to do three pull ups

(Do one pull up)

Stop caring so much what I think others will think of me

Spend more time in a day talking positively to myself than I do negatively

Really start living

Inspired by The Daily Post Word Prompt: maybe

(Thanks to you)

I have been operating under the following assumptions:

That I am plain, average and dull

That I am unmemorable, forgettable

That to surrender to pleasure is a death sentence

That love becomes humiliation overnight

That vulnerability ends in shame

But I am finally reframing these beliefs

I am choosing to find new truths:

I am lovely, unique and vibrant

I am memorable, unforgettable

Pleasure is safe and begets more pleasure

Love always elevates and is never wrong or cruel

Vulnerability is my birthright and there is no shame in it ever

So you see, I got this

(No thanks to you, btw)

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: assumption

Highway Robbery

Life is a one-way road

Cannot go back, only forwards

So why do I feel stuck in time

At times moving backwards

Or worse yet, stalled

on the side of the road?

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: One-Way

One of my favorite songs from the early 90’s was Tom Cochrane’s “Life is a Highway.” I love the lyric and the music. It always made me feel so full of hope and youthful joy, and still stirs that up in me upon listening today. So when I am feeling a bit stalled, I put it on to wake my hope up!

Life’s like a road that you travel on
When there’s one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind

There’s a world outside every darkened door
Where blues won’t haunt you anymore
Where the brave are free and lovers soar
Come ride with me to the distant shore

We won’t hesitate to break down the garden gate
There’s not much time left today

Life is a highway
I want to ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
Well, I want to drive it all night long

Through all these cities and all these towns
It’s in my blood and it’s all around
I love you now like I loved you then
This is the road and these are the hands

From Mozambique to those Memphis nights
The Khyber Pass to Vancouver’s lights
Knock me down and back up again
You’re in my blood, I’m not a lonely man

There’s no load I can’t hold
A road so rough, this I know
I’ll be there when the light comes in
Tell ’em we’re survivors

Life is a highway
Well, I want to ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
I want to drive it all night long
Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, yeah

Life is a highway
Well, I want to ride it all night long, yeah
If you’re going my way
I want to drive it all night long

There was a distance
Between you and I
A misunderstanding once
But now we look it in the eye, ooh yeah

There ain’t no load that I can’t hold
A road so rough this I know
I’ll be there when the light comes in
Tell ’em we’re survivors

Life is a highway
Well, I want to ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
Well, I want to drive it all night long
Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, yeah

Life is a highway
I want to ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
I want to drive it all night long
Come on, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, yeah

Life is a highway
I want to ride it all night long
(Yeah, I want to drive it all night long)
If you’re going my way
I want to drive it all night long
All night long

– Thomas William Cochrane

A Stitch in Time

When my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2001 and was going in for surgery to have it removed, I immediately knew I wanted to fly down to be with her.

But I was 6 months newly sober, so it was daunting to fly across the country, leaving behind my support system. But more frightening than that was the fear that my mother would die while on the table, or that they would find more cancer than they could treat.

It was a challenging time.

I knew that I would be experiencing many emotions as I navigated her illness and surgery, and I really wanted to deal with them in healthy ways, not fall back into old coping behaviors.

Someone suggested to me that I take up knitting as something to occupy my hands and eat up some of the extra energy (aka anxiety) that I would be experiencing.

Thankfully, I took their advice, bought some knitting supplies and took them down with me. And as I waited for her to come through the surgery, I began to knit.

My mom had been the one to teach me how to knit in the first place, so it felt really right to sit and knit, waiting for those awful hours to hear how the surgery went. Anyone who has gone through it knows how difficult that waiting can be.

I only remembered one stitch, but that was enough. I had no pattern, so I just started knitting a row about the width of a muffler and took it from there.

Thankfully, my mother came through the surgery very well. I moved back into her hospital room, and the knitting came with me. In fact, it would continue to be my sober companion for the rest of her hospital stay and afterwards as she recovered at home, because I ended up staying longer than I had planned.

My mother had her surgery on September 10, 2001. We were both sleeping in her hospital room that next morning, when a friend of hers called my mother and told her to put on the news. We watched together as my adopted home city was terrorized.

In shock, I immediately did two things: I went to a meeting and then I went to donate blood.

Then, I went back to the hospital, where knitting became a lifeline again as my world was rocked from its axis a second time.

I was so desperate to get back to NYC, but could not leave until they allowed flights again. I knitted with fervor through those days following 9-11, as I helped my parents take my mom back home and settled her in.

And then finally, I was able to return home to NYC, and my knitting accompanied me on the plane and through the weeks as our city began to heal.

Eventually, I stopped knitting…though from time to time I will pick it up again when the proverbial sh*t hits the fan or I feel that I need it as a way to stay calm under duress. I guess that is just the nature of my relationship to it. I am grateful it is there for me when I need it.

I still have that piece of knitting from that time when my world was rocked to its core. It is a very, very long muffler-type knitted piece that is a bit misshapen and not at all suited for anything. But it stands as a reminder to me that there is always a way to show up and consciously move through even the hardest of times. That I can survive anything, be of service and even be creative even as my world is falling apart.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: knit

Grat Lists Galore

Since 2011, I have been practicing gratitude by writing a daily gratitude list.

It has been transformative.

Each day, I list ten things I am grateful for. I then list ten things I’m excited for. And (hardest of all,) three brags.

I post it to a Yahoo group started by a mentor/friend.

Each day, I get emails containing the posted “grat” lists of others.

It is amazing to have the daily reminders of appreciation for the small and big things in life. It helps keep my focus on the positive.

The way I am wired, for some reason, I have the tendency to focus on the negative: what isn’t working, what’s not going right, what I did wrong, what I do not have/is missing in my life.

The grat list keeps me looking for what is going right, what I do have, what I can appreciate right now.

One of the great parts of the grat list community is how it has become a virtual safe space where we can share whatever we need to and receive support or whatever we may need. It is a “no guilt, no judgement zone,” a place to be totally honest. It is not about being cheerful and positive, it is about being real.

I may go through dark times, but I can always find some things to be grateful for. That my limbs function. Sunshine. Clean water. That I woke up.

And, through our grat list group, I am never alone. Sometimes, the others’ lists keep me from falling into isolated despair. I may be down and another’s good day holds hope for the inevitable upswing that will come if I hang in there, a fact that is easy to forget when left to my own devices.

I am truly grateful for the grat list group, and all that the practice of gratitude has given my life. It is a powerful muscle that I plan on keeping supple.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: gratitude