Sunday, December 20, 2009

Memory of Christmas Past

Last Christmas I held my grandson for the second time, after the two days at the hospital where he was born and right before he was placed with his adoptive family. The joy I felt in reuniting -- however brief -- with him fulfilled every Christmas wish I'd ever had.

Since I posted about him ( on the one year anniversary of his birth, his adoptive family decided to close the adoption. I do not know why, and the irony does not escape me. It has been a long four months, laced at times with bitterness, after becoming attached through his blog where we watched him grow through photos and updates for a year; and now just a silent, gaping hole in the heart of cyberspace.

Lest you think me too Scrooge-like, let me share with you what I discovered about him. This little guy has character; he's funny, reminding me so much of the antics of his [birth] father. He's beautiful (think MJ's Prince Michael), endearing, and amazingly at home with large groups of people; and did I mention funny--be-bopping to his own little beat, literally, the last time he sat on my lap at his blessing celebration.

Yes folks, this is me, living in the joys of the past to forget the pain of the present.

I keep remembering Christ's words before his death, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." The family is devoutly Mormon, and I want to believe if they truly understood the pain they were inflicting, they simply would not engage in the silence.

Although I assumed at some point the family get-togethers would end, it was comforting knowing I would be with him through his blog. That's what the family had done up until his birthday, and I thought that's how it would always be. I thought that's what open adoption was about, fostering relationships -- albeit long distance -- between families that would never have met, who shared the ultimate sacrifice.

My new Christmas wish is that the family is kinder to the next family whose children they adopt. That they let them know upfront that the bond they create with them until the baby is sealed in their temple 'for time and eternity' -- will be severed, perhaps even abruptly. At least those families could be more prepared.

As for me, I do not for one moment regret getting to know my grandson through our visits this past year, and will gladly bear the bitter sweetness of knowing who he is, and that he is being raised by people who genuinely love him. And more importantly, that he loves them. In that my heart may find...

Credit: Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wimpy's Half-Ass Acres Winter Wonderland

Not only has Mother Nature kept herself busy depositing white stuff all over our mountains, but she also deposited it all over my farm. The FarmVille farm, just to be clear.

Speaking of suburban farms, there is a ranch by my daughter's school called Wimpy's Half-Ass Acres. The first time we drove past it I cackled in disbelief. After all, this is VERY Mormon Utah--our neck of the woods is actually nicknamed Happy Valley. Mormons don't like to swear (well of course they do, they just don't like you to notice) so they come up with words like 'fetch' and 'oh my heck', and 'H-E double hockey sticks'. For a more complete list, see

Now mind you, all using these words does is highlight them in flashing neon pink in my head, where my brain likes to entertain itself by substituting the real word for the fake ones it just heard. So imagine my delight when we stumbled across Wimpy's Half-Ass Acres on that random ride across town.

Maybe that's what I'll name my FarmVille farm, just for heck's sake.
Welcome to Lorna's Half-Ass Acres.

Has a nice albeit weird ring to it.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Vamps Aren't The Only Sparkly Things Around Here

When not acquiring sleighs and elfin garden gnomes for the Farm(ville), shoveling snow off the deck before our Home Owner's Association kicks in a fine, and decking our halls with all manner of Christmas festivities, I like to go out to play with my camera and breathe in the fresh winter snow. Normally I would drive snowshoe to a scenic mountain spot for breathtaking photos, but since I'm usually out of breath just climbing up and down the stairs these days, I meandered around the property and found these, just for you.

There was a noisy gaggle of geese that honked their way across the sky on the way to somewhere (hopefully far away from people who like to stuff them for Christmas Day) but I didn't have the camera on me to capture their migration. Still, nothing says Christmas more than mother nature; not the colorful lights, the plentiful presents, or the hot apple cider and lemon bars...

Just fresh glittering snow.

Edward has NOTHING on nature's wintry sparkle.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


On the eve of Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and I can't get over how much I have to be grateful for. It's a quiet time, with three of my four children on an impromptu trip to Vegas with their father, parents and sister in Florida, and an only grandchild with his adoptive parents. I guess it's the perfect time for reflection.

The Utah weather is sunny and crisp, without any dreaded snowstorms (for now, anyway). Blessed with a warm shelter, a running car, food in the pantry, good health, relative youth (ha, take that all you under 47-year-olds), family, friends, and a blog where I have met many astonishingly wonderful people.

Thank you to all of you dear readers and writers, for your insightful blogs, and friendships and connections. May this time of thanksgiving bring you heart-opening experiences filled with love and warmth.

Oh, and a good laugh or two to spice things up. Especially with the family get-togethers...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Samoa's Unstoppable Leprechaun

You either love Russell Hantz or hate him. When Survivor Samoa debuted its first episode, I emphatically hated him. Privy to Russell's dark side the first week, we saw him burning one of his tribe mate's socks by moonlight, emptying his entire tribe's water canteens, and lying to them about his background. I almost boycotted watching this season--my ONLY reality show obsession--because of his meanness and unrepentant impish behavior.

Russell's sabotaging strategy knew no bounds. In his delusion of grandeur, we saw him cut his female tribe mates down (figuratively, of course, though you wondered if he would just as happily do it for real) in his tenacious quest for the million dollar prize. He seemed to disdain women in general, considering them stupid and weak. And if they had the nerve to cross him or call him on anything, he turned on them and threw them out of the game. Yes, he seemed to have that power for awhile.

But something happened on the way to episode ten. Russell SEEMS to have softened his stance on women as the enemy, working with them, not against them. And even if you blanch at his tactics, you have to admire his willingness to get in there, and without complaining, get dirty, work his butt off, and stay focused with optimism no matter what is thrown at him or the tribe.

What won me over is when he says he's going to do something, he actually does it. No, really, it appears as if even God doesn't stand in his way. He singlehandedly uncovered three coveted immunity idols, which represent life in the game, finding two of them with no clues whatsoever. He announced he was going to do it, and then he made good on his word, and bear in mind no one found idols like this before in Survivor history. As if that wasn't jaw-dropping enough, he found the third one with two of his worst-enemy tribe mates dogging him. One was literally on his heels. How he lost him is beyond me, because Russell isn't the lightest feather in the flock. And then to prove he was no one's fool, he actually played two of the idols at Tribal Council, and effectively saved his butt for one more round in the game each time, unlike his Survivor predecessor's who got booted out while cluelessly holding onto their idols.

You know when Russell says he's going to do something, he does it. This blows my mind. Can someone believe in themselves so thoroughly that they can make things happen, just like that? It's not that it's effortless of course, he works for it, he makes the effort, and he stays positive (by seeing what's really there and focusing on the target, not by spouting platitudes). But nothing seems to stop him. Maybe that's what totally amazes me about this guy. And although I am rooting for rocket scientist John to win the game, I would gladly vote for Russell if he makes it to the end (assuming his teammates don't catch him releasing the chickens into the night on next week's episode and vote him off, by blindsiding him).

So though I started out hating this guy, I have grown to admire and grudgingly like him.I can't get over how the universe just seems to support him in whatever he sets out to do. And I kinda secretly hope he wins Survivor Samoa, if the rocket scientist cutie doesn't.

Now, just for pure fun, read Tallula Morehead's take on last week's episode. I haven't laughed so hard in all my 47 years:

Friday, November 13, 2009


Yes, that's right folks, the clouds are below the snow-peaked mountains. We had a bit of weather last night. What can I say, this is Utah. Breathtakingly beautiful, but weird. A little like our new ranking as 'happiest State' in the latest American poll.

Really, pollsters? I'm still coming to terms with the fact that for years, we Utahns have "Lead the nation in anti-depressant use, mental health problems related to depression, and the highest teen suicide rate." In a five year period, we had two teens die from overdoses just in my really nice (and conservative/religious) last neighborhood, and am aware of others who struggle with serious drug addictions, such as heroin. (Read more at:

Your poll also cited tolerance as another criteria for winning the happy status. Uh, hello, pollsters? When I worked at a local elementary school, one of my co-workers would periodically come in upset about young men she knew in her nearby neighborhood who killed themselves because their conservative, religious parents couldn't 'tolerate' their being gay.

Does living in Happyville entail being delusional?

Someone please explain it to me. And then tell me all the reasons why your state should top the list. You could very well be right.

Meanwhile, I'll console myself with the natural beauty we Utahns get to enjoy. That always makes me happy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Just In Time For The Holidays...

Just for fun and to get you in the holiday spirit, here's a give-away for some really pretty ceramic and sterling silver earrings on a friendly blog:
Now if you'll excuse me, I have some squash to harvest and goats to milk...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Harvesting Addiction

I've been very productive lately. Oh yes I have.

Have you found a job yet?

No, but...

So have you winterized the van yet?

No, but...

Well, have you taken the kids to the dentist yet for their yearly cleaning?

Not yet, but...I achieved level 24 on Facebook FarmVille!!!

There may be an addiction afoot here. Are there 12 steps for cyber-farmers? Is there a drug on the market yet that can slow the effects of brain melt? Can something so creative, so fun and beautiful, be harmful? (depends on who you ask; even my teens are a contemplating an intervention).

Hint: you can level up faster and make more coin by setting up phantom accounts where you stock up on gifts and experience points by weeding neighbor's crops and chasing off pesky raccoons.

You're welcome.

Oh God, forgive me, it's the sickness talking.

Apparently I'm not alone and the stakes are higher than we thought:
Used to be you could pack on the pounds reading racy novels and snarfing chocolate, or licking doughnut crumbs off your fingers in front of your flat screen TV, but now you can do the same thing in front of a computer screen, all hours of the day (or night, and believe me, I've done both).

But I'm in no mood to stop either one yet (farming or eating). It's DEFINITELY building a sense of confidence, an artistic accomplishment combined with good business sense (it takes skill to amass the coins and experience, not to mention master the levels) and a budding inclination towards agriculture. No, really.

Who knew?

My parents still don't.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Blessed Samhain (or Happy Halloween)

I love how we follow Christmas and Easter and such that have origins in the ancient celebrations. So too with Halloween. I LOVE FALL!!!

I'll be handing out trick-or-treat goodies as an environmentally friendly 'green' Witch this Halloween....where's a cool cat when you need one?

So, in that spirit, enjoy the night and the beginning of a new year, leaving the old behind as the leaves fall. Here's a toast to storing up good things for the coming winter, and laying the groundwork for a fruitful spring, where all good things burst forth in abundance.

Taking time to enjoy nature's bounty, today and always.

Blessed be!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Of Phoenixs and Ostriches

I'm more than a little tired of sticking my head in the proverbial sand while life marches gaily on even as I cower in fear of getting a job. (a job? what job? what's the perfect job? what are my talents? how can I contribute to society and pay my bills and be there for the kids....
blah blah blah).
Too much hysterical panic.
Not to mention leaving the butt sticking quite vulnerably just out-there.

The rational part of me gets that it's time to make like a phoenix and rise from the ashes of midlife, leave the stay at home mom career behind to start over--uncomfortably like a teenager, only not as energized, youthful or pimply. Which except for the acne, sucks the fun right out of it.

Can I just please drop the stories and move on?
It appears the only one holding me back is me.
But how do you get past your very own self?

How do women make this transition without all the angst?

Ostrich image found at

Friday, October 16, 2009

What Makes Your Body Smile?

Recently I started exercising again. Over the years I have walked, hiked, snowshoed and danced. I've taken yoga, tai chi and bellydancing classes. But the one I always keep coming back home to, is a little-known 15-minute-a-day aerobic exercise called 'Oxycise'. I can't even remember how I came across it, but one day after we first moved to Utah I found it online, ordered the how-to video and fell in love.

Since starting it up again over a week ago, my stomach is tighter and flatter (a welcome surprise because I was wondering what I was giving birth to), my face is more defined and I am becoming more flexible.

The other benefit I've noticed is more energy and confidence over all, and since beginning I have been doing more and feeling more can-do about life in general. It has lifted me out of the funk-tank I've found myself swimming in since leaving my job last June.

What has freaked the heck out of me is being unable to do the sitting butterfly, a pose I had done with ease before. Middle age? Excessive weight? General out-of-shapeness? Which ever it is, I'm not ready to start heading for the hill just yet, thanks.

So I'm going to keep up with this and slowly move into other things. I really miss the park near our old house, with it's tree-lined walking trails. Miss trekking in snowshoes on the middle school track nearby during winter months. But Oxycise, especially when I keep the sliding glass door to the balcony open for fresh air, is a close-second, and and I don't have to bundle up and drive anywhere to get a workout.

Now how about you? What makes your body/heart/mind smile? What energizes, uplifts and motivates you to keep on going?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Love and Creativity

For me, nothing opens the heart more than a baby, the creative seed of life and innocence. Blessed are those caregivers who get to be with them, struggle with them, love them, and let them go if life demands it. This video is a heartwarming and life-affirming example of one family's experience. This couple wrote letters to their son Eliot, even before his birth. These letters helped them heal through his illness. Their story has the power to help us heal as well, from the complexities of life.

Writing truly brings many gifts. Julia Cameron gave us the Artist's Way, and I'm of a mind that all creative acts--writing, drawing, birthing, gardening etc.--expand the soul. My flowering of creativity blossomed like an Outback Steakhouse fried onion while raising my babies. I wrote extensively, planted a rose garden with blooms the size of an outstretched hand out of Arizona caliche; learned jazz dance, baked and cooked from scratch (a rarity these days), sewed intricate costumes and holiday-wear for the kids, decorated our home which involved, among other things, painting the walls and banisters (not recommended, the banisters anyway), sewing curtains, cross-stitching, and making 'baby books' for the kids which involved stories and photos and memorabilia.

Obstacles I overcame to satisfy the creative muse included having an early miscarriage, a baby who refused to nurse, hacking through caliche to dig holes for the rose bushes that averaged three hours per bush (so that's where the carpal tunnel came from!), teaching myself to cross-stitch and paint via trial by error; to staying up far too late into the night to write while the family slept, and eventually from all that handiwork, carpal tunnel surgery. But I am grateful for each obstacle because each process taught me something.

In expanding our hearts and souls, I hope we are fortunate enough to find what sets us on fire and what heals us, and then share it with the world.

It could use us.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nature's Fireworks

The kids and I hiked the Alpine Loop in the American Fork Canyon
before a storm arrived this week, threatening to drop the leaves.

After crossing three forests, we found lots of aspens
surrounding a meadow, quivering their joyous welcome.

We call this aspen grove the Golden Palace,
because standing in it,
you are bathed in a shimmering golden light.

We passed mountain bikers and riders on horseback
but no deer or quail this time.
In late spring, this meadow is yellow with wildflowers
and the aspens are freshly green.

Now that the storm is here bringing an early snow
to the mountains with high winds,
the leaves are probably littering the ground,
the aspens no longer quivering their welcome,
but shivering in their nakedness.
Until next Spring.

And leaving us with...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Finding The Quiet

Credit: Photo courtesy of Aaron Penn, photographer
There are many ways to experience one's connectedness with God. The search takes you outside and eventually leads you inside. One of my most memorable church experiences of that connection was while serving as a young women's counselor while in the LDS faith as one of several stepping stones on my path to finding God.

We were at a summer camp in the pine mountains of Arizona. We held a Sunday service in a clearing in the woods reserved for spiritual gatherings. Sitting on bleachers listening to the speaker, the sun sent illuminating rays through the trees. The slight rustling of the leaves in the breeze, birds singing their own celebration of life, and an abiding peacefulness settled in my being. I felt an aliveness and deep oneness with God. Even now there is an inner cleansing, an inner exhale, whenever I re-live that moment.

It reminds me of an earlier spiritual experience while living in Germany, spending Christmas with extended family in a small town called Selbitz. On Christmas Eve we would walk to a church in the town for a sort of midnight mass. My mother was raised Lutheran, my father Methodist, and my Grandmother was a reformed Catholic living as a Jehovah's Witness. There was something about being there, with other people wanting to experience something extraordinary, and I felt a shared connectedness. I remember how it felt to watch the procession celebrating Christ's entrance into our world, and how warm and full of light the church was. Walking home afterwards, snow falling under a cold, dark sky sparkling with light reflecting off snowflakes and lamp posts, the quiet conversations around us enveloped me in a blanket of peace that resonated on a deep, deep level.

From those earlier experiences I realize why I often find myself in the mountains today, surrounded by quivering aspen leaves, under bright blue skies and the sounds of the forest. It is there where I finally hear myself, where I feel loved and accepted, and close to something greater than my insecure self; something strong and loving and kind. It is where I go to connect with my idea of God, a benevolence that strengthens.

There is a Benedictine monk, David Steindl Rast, who shares his love for God and life, and us, through a website called Brother David is a vibrant living example of humble humor. He makes me want to go inside, find the best of me, and offer it to the world. He inspires me to ask, "What do I have left to give?"

Here is his gentle prayer on gratitude:

And leaves me with a sense of...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

Linda over at wandertothewayside.blogspot. com presented (drum roll) me with an award for writing from the heart. She is also a fellow writer-from-the-heart, so if you haven't read her blog before, check it out before you leave.

Thank you Linda! You are my first (and only) blog award and have set me to jumping around the house for joy. Now I get to pass the award on to seven more bloggers who write heartfelt prose, and then list ten honest things about myself.

So here's a shout out to some bloggers that tickle my heartstrings:

• Anna at
• Jane at
• Alicia at
• ZombieMom (my name for her) at
• Angela at
• Toni at
• Lee at

Now here's the part you can roll your eyes or scratch your head over:

1) Born cross-eyed, I had surgery and sported an eye patch for awhile but still have nystagmus—the involuntary rapid oscillatory motion of the eyeballs. I don’t normally notice it, and others don’t usually…but there are times. Nystagmus can make your eyes shake up or down, but mine do it rotating. An ophthalmologist once told me it was caused by one of three things; albinism, head injury, or brain damage. You figure it out...

2) I was once kidnapped, briefly. My father served in the U.S. Air Force and we were for a time stationed in Taipei, Taiwan. One day, around age three, I was playing on the swingset in our front yard while my parents watched from the kitchen window. They must have gotten distracted because one minute I was there, the next, gone. When my father ran outside, he saw me running down the street with two older Taiwanese girls on either side, holding my hands. They were finally stopped when they ran past the guards outside Chiang Kai-shek’s building. They stopped us because my father was yelling as he was chasing us. Fun times.

3) While living in Florida we often visited my father’s family in rural Georgia for Thanksgiving. My older sister and I liked to take walks around the countryside. One day we meandered past a farm, accompanied by a cousin and a neighboring German Shepherd who had befriended us on an earlier visit. As the four of us were passing the farm, we were spotted by a large, unpenned pig that decided for whatever reason he didn’t like our looks. Suddenly the pig came charging after us, trailed by his posse of Chihuahuas that were hanging out with him. We weren’t looking for a fight so we turned and ran (since our cream-puff German Shepherd chose not to defend us). Too bad some farmer didn’t come along then because we must have been quite a sight. Three frightened children, a goofy German Shepherd, an irate pig and several outraged Chihuahas, running down a dirt road as if Satan himself was behind us. We managed to outrun the pig-Chihuaha team because apparently pigs tire easily. Folks, you just can’t make this stuff up.

4) I once spent the night (camping in my car) in the company of many other strangers, on the grounds near Cape Canaveral for a Space Shuttle launch. When that baby lifted off, the deafening noise and mushrooming clouds coming towards us and the ensuing goosebumps tingling all over my body signaled one of the proudest, most exhilarating moments of my life as an American.

5) I participated in some self-improvement intensives during my marriage years. My then husband, our teenage daughter and I attended Peak Potentials Training camps where I learned to face my fears. A few years later I attended Byron Katie’s nine day School For The Work where I learned that there is nothing to fear.

6) I love animals and have raised a variety of pets: two finches, a small garden snake, generations of gerbils, four parakeets, various goldfish, two cats, a turtle, an iguana, a dog, and butterflies (a homeschool project). Currently petless-in-Utah, I yearn for a time when I’ll live in a cottage with a cat surrounded by birds and butterflies (yeah, I'm all about the simple things).

7) My office walls (currently in my closet--it’s large, though windowless) are decorated with large scenic beach posters. Time to save for that Fiji vacation…

8) The time I felt healthiest was the year I lived on raw foods, green smoothies, and juices. I loved how living in my skin felt then. Looked good too.

9) Quirk: I can’t stand having anything in the wastebaskets around the house. So I empty them if there are two or more items lounging in there, rendering them fairly pointless. Along those lines, I also don’t keep magazines past a day. I read them, clip out photos/articles and then pass them on. Or throw them away. In the wastebaskets. Which I then empty.

10) Whether stargazing in solitude when my oldest left home, or driving in the mountains when my marriage was at its rockiest, nature has been my come-back-to-center balm.

So thank you Linda, for the award, and thank all you wonderful bloggers who write from honestly from your heart. If you can't get the award let me know and I'll pass on the directions.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Wide Open Heart

A little over one year ago, I witnessed the birth (as best as you can outside a hospital delivery room door) of my first grandchild. Samuel James was brought into this world only to leave too soon with his adoptive parents. His birth parents, two good-hearted teens dealing with the tumult life sometimes brings, chose to place their little boy with an equally good-hearted couple who had been yearning to adopt for some time.

The day Sammy came was one of the giddiest highlights of my midlife, my heart so open it felt close to bursting. The day after, or rather, the evening of the day before Placement Day, was the hardest thing I'd ever experienced. Not the death of a marriage, not raising kids as a single mom, not an early miscarriage between my first two children, not kidney stones, not job loss; but the giving up of a child--my birth grandchild. On that day I learned that a heart could keep beating after shattering to bits.

You fall in love on day one and still in love, must say goodbye. So far the sadness has been staunched because his new parents, embracing an open adoption, have kept up a blog with photos and an occasional get together (I've seen and held Sammy twice since he was born; Christmas and his blessing day).

It is one of the sweetest experiences, and still, there is a sadness that lingers in a corner of my heart. Do I wish things were different? Daily. Would I try to change it if I could? No; the bond between Sammy and his new parents is set.

I've come to a place of gratitude for the sacrifices made. The birth mother, and my son, who gave up someone they loved. The adoptive parents, who gave up their privacy to allow our family into their lives. Sammy's birth relatives, especially his birth father's siblings, who want to so much to keep in touch with their nephew.

What touches me most about that day when Sammy was born, was watching his 16-year old father protectively follow him and his nurse down to the neonatal observation room (that's what I call it; don't know what it really is) and for the next hour and a half, keep his hand on his naked son as he lay in the bassinet being observed for vitals. The tears that trickled down his face, the exhaustion from the long birth night and the emotions of the weeks and months before. The way his large hand cupped around his son, the love he was giving him while he could. I'd never witnessed this side of my boy, and it moved me beyond tears.

On Placement Day I was driving with my youngest daughter, tears streaming down my face, and she said something to me I will never forget; with wisdom beyond her years, "Mom, just remember, this may be the worst day you've ever had, but it's also the happiest day Emma and James have ever had." Just that unexpected turn of phrase, the circumstances seen in that light, opened up a crack in the clouds and let some rays shine through. It lightened my grieving heart with the possibility that this family would love this baby boy with all their heart.

And so it seems to have become. The times I've seen Sammy with them, he's happy and devoted and completely trusting. And so are they. It's remarkable really, the love an infant brings into this world. The power to open hearts. And that's what this experience has left me with. The desire to keep my heart open no matter what shows up to break it. Because despite the pain and sadness I would not trade this experience for the world. It has been worth every moment, just to get to know Sammy, his birth mother, my son in unexpected ways, and Sammy's new family.

So thank you God, for bringing Sammy into this world to share with so many. Thank you Sammy, for being your amazing self, thank you Jaycee and Jason for loving this baby more than yourselves, and thank you Emma and James for your love and generosity.

Names have been changed for privacy reasons.
Credit: Photo courtesy of

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Merrily On Our Way To Nowhere In Particular

Growing up in Florida, Walt Disney World was a prominent fixture of my youth. Our family visited the day the Magic Kingdom theme park opened their doors on October 1, 1971--a particularly easy time to enjoy rides because as I remember it, there were bomb threats so some folks stayed home. Lucky us. The lines were never shorter than on this bright fall Florida day...

Besides my favorite E-ticket rides (those of you old enough will remember those) I loved Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Climbing aboard that funky car, heading off into the cool dark of the tunnel was a welcome respite from the sweltering summer days when we would re-visit the park in years to come.

I recently discovered that Disney World replaced Mr. Toad with Winnie the Pooh (as if we really need more of that rotund bear assaulting our senses). WINNIE THE POOH, for God's sake. My disappointment knows no bounds, but at least you can still visit Mr. Toad at the Disneyland park in Anaheim, California.

Lately life seems suspiciously similar to Mr. Toad's Wild ride, complete with twists and turns (and welcome respites) and loads of charming scenery. You just never know what's going to come at you next. But the entire time, you are safely strapped in a supportive vehicle riding on pre-determined tracks, so you are usually never really in any danger...unless of something happens to the ride itself.

Which reminds me of the time we took the kids to Disneyland and it was late at night when the older kids and their dad were on Big Thunder Mountain. The ride was halted for some reason, so they were temporarily stranded in the dark, and it was scary (there was screaming). But of course, when it was all over that unexpected delay actually contributed to the thrill factor. Go figure.

It reminds me of the Florida summer when relatives from Germany visited back in the 70's, and we were stranded at Bush Gardens, Tampa on an aerial gondola ride, high above the wild animals grazing below, for about half an hour of anxious sweating. Mutti--as we called my German grandmother--kept her cool by dabbing a cold, wet rag she pulled from a Ziploc-style bag of ice onto her wrists, presumably just for such emergencies. It was rather thrilling wondering what would happen if we plummeted onto the rhinos below. Would the fall kill us (likely)? Would the animals stampede and kill us? Would the heat do us in before the ride resumed? Seems the mind loves its drama.

And that is probably why Mr. Toad's Wild Ride remains one of my favorites -- the drama that never actually swallows you up. Which makes it an awful lot like Life.

Credit: photo courtesy of www.mouseplanet. com/guide

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Scarier Than A Halloween Night


The dreaded first day of the kids going back to school.

Relief at surviving their exodus couples with pangs of missing them and the winds of change that always blow this time of year.

I was lucky; not everyone gets to spend their summer with their kids without leaving for work every day, and for that I am deeply grateful but now it's back to looking-for-a-new career season.

And it's scarier than Halloween.

But, it's also kind of exhilarating in a roller-coaster way, and maybe after I get past the cold-sweats aspect of it, it'll actually be fun.

Let's hope. Then maybe I can find some...

Friday, August 7, 2009

August Summer Days

So the countdown has officially begun and my anxiety level is skyrocketing. Every time I hit a store now it's filled with back-to-schoolers, harried moms with even more harried kids trying to get ready for that moment when the alarm goes off the first day of school. Okay, maybe some moms are deliriously happy to have that block of free time when the house is empty, and maybe some kids are bored from too much playtime with friends, but as a working mom, school responsibilities just eat up more of my day.

What happened to school starting September 1st, or at least, after Labor Day? Here in Utah, when they aren't in year-round-schools, we have this silly August start-up, which I really can't wrap my weary brain around. August is HOT people, and nobody here really wants to dress in anything other than shorts and skimpy tees. Well, I take that back, it is Utah after all, so there might have to be long camisoles layered under the skimpy t-shirts, but still.

I don't want to schlepp the kids around in this heat getting supplies and clothes when we could be hiking (snicker) and swimming and just in general lounging around a few more weeks, reading a few more good books just for fun and reveling in life without all the deadlines that come with school and Fall and the ensuing holiday craziness.

Or maybe I could just take a pill and chill with the moments we have left.

Credit: photo courtesy of

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Motivational Reading

It is entirely possible I emerged from my mother's womb least that's one theory.

The love affair with books began early in childhood with fairy tales and mysteries and later science fiction. We never swam in money, but my father loved to bring me books he'd find here and there, like "Alice in Wonderland".

Visiting my grandparents in rural Georgia usually found me in a corner of the room beside the unlit fireplace, after finding a good read off their shelves, books my father had read growing up, like "Martians Go Home" and "Rin Tin Tin".

Some of my fondest memories involve libraries. My favorite hall-of-books was the military library at Patrick Air Force Base in Satellite Beach, Florida. Cozy, plenty of chair-filled nooks, wood floors that creaked and windows where the sunshine streamed in along with the sound of the ocean waves. It was peaceful, mostly quiet, and full of promise...and I loved journeying along for the ride.

In college my favorite hangout was the campus library. There was much planning for the future there, as well as getting assignments and research done.

My ex-husband shared my affection for reading, which is how one of our favorite date-time getaways involved Barnes and Noble and Godiva chocolates. Luckily our kids inherited the bookish gene as well, and homeschooling was most fun scouring local libraries in the winter and gift shops in the summer, snagging books as souvenirs.

I confess Amazon and I have a longstanding history, and I'm secretly proud of my spending record, having mastered the art of shopping on their new/used marketplace. I keep expecting a platinum Amazon American Express card offer to come in the mail any day now...

This week the kids and I, in an effort to stay out of the heat and be as lazy as possible (conserving energy you know) recently visited our local library and this is what I schlepped up our three flights of stairs--the rest was left behind for later (see photo). As we met up at a table before leaving the library, the kids were wide-eyed seeing my stacks spread out, probably pitying me for having this much time on my hands with little else to fill it with. But the excursion left me happy as a clam and bubblier than a fizzy Kombucha.

Exploring the world of possibilities, discovering all the things one has a passion for, it's all there. Almost as much fun as living it!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Harry Potter Is In The House

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is finally out in theaters!

I confess to being a fan of all things J.K. Rowling (not to mention things British in general). I revel in her books like a kitty does her catnip. Immensely.

Once upon a time I was in a local religious (please, don't go there) writer's group, and there were some snarky comments made about Rowling's writing not being all that good. Please. Jealousy about someone's success just isn't pretty. You can't argue the incredible creativity she gives us in the HP series, reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's (aka Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) Alice in Wonderland. I only dream of such imagination.

Now the younger kids and I are embarking on a week-long Harry Potter marathon, watching all the episodes up to the Half Blood Prince. I smugly submit it's a cool way to pass the sweltering daytime hours munching on Bertie Botts.

So thanks for the journey J.K., and reminding me why I like Hedwig and Pigwidgeon and Errol and...

Credit: Photo courtesy of

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Spinning Frisbees

This pretty much describes my eating habits, which often resembles an out of control frisbee:

From the Watcher perspective, you can see when weight gain is related to stressors in your family life, your career, your friendships, your health, the way the White House is dealing with issues that matter to you, etc. Then you can choose to respond in a way that addresses the actual problem--again, using trim tab actions, not massive disruptions. You'll have a much more positive impact on your loved ones, your job prospects, and international politics (and everything in between) if you don't react to them solely by inhaling pans of blueberry cobbler. Excerpt from Martha Beck's "The Four Day Win".

Whether it's blueberry cobbler or those sprinkle-bedecked frosted sugar cookies from Wal-Mart that are like eating pieces of wedding cake....heaven. Except of course, for the morning-after-effects. I know, I know...but it's a cheap thrill.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Making The World A Better Place

"I always liked Michael Jackson, I think he was a great parent. He was misunderstood in life. I think he was a very deep person with lots of love. I think he will live on forever."

My sister wrote this recently, and it echos my feelings exactly about this truly remarkable man.

Growing up with Michael like so many around the world, having loved his music and his art, I will forever remember his smile. His innocence, his pure heart, his dedication, his love--for people, animals and the planet. His laugh, his way of holding light for all of us, for tirelessly sharing his gifts with the world.

And so much of the world loved him back. Not everyone, but the numbers, if they could be counted, would be staggering.
What is remarkable to me is how he gave himself so completely. When he performed he opened his arms wide, bared his heart and just let us in, open and unguarded, for us to take or leave. He bared his soul for us to feel.

I do not believe the accusations made against him about his personal life, though there was a time when I wondered. But I have come to realize that he was a person of such pure heart that some folks couldn't grasp the possibility that he was for real. I do believe he was for real. I love that he could still be childlike in an often jaded world--though it cost him dearly.

His work--both artistic and humanitarian--and his genuine love for people and the world leave me wondering what I will do to make the world a better place. That's what MJ leaves with me. His love, his smile, and his message of reaching out to everyone.

Michael once told a fan in a radio interview to always believe in yourself. As part of what he left for us to continue, I hope we too will believe in ourselves and open our hearts as wide as he did.

"Michael Jackson was a supernova. Just like a supernova, a collection of energy so bright that it cannot sustain and quickly flames out, so was the King of Pop. Michael Jackson sacrificed his childhood to bring us the music that would be the soundtrack to ours. " Kisha Green, posting her comment on The Huffington Post.
MJ, may you finally rest in

"And when the groove is dead and gone
You know that love survives
So we can rock forever, on"

Credit: Photo courtesy of Time magazine.

Friday, July 3, 2009

On Having A Life

Apparently, I don't have one.

It is the eve of our nation's birthday, and I sit here, alone. My eldest, who had earlier invited me over for a fireworks swimfest, left to camp at the lake with her boyfriend and his family. Well, okay, good for her. I can summon up some happiness for them.

Her sister, who prior to going to girl's camp to humor her father, begged me to pick her up the moment she got back so she wouldn't have to endure another weekend away from home -- hasn't bothered to let me know she's b-a-a-a-c-k. And I can tell she is because she left little messages for her friends on Facebook and Myspace.

My oldest son, who lived with us during the school year, is spending the month with his younger siblings at his dad's, but didn't bother to visit me the weekend I had them. To be fair, he left me his laptop since mine is having seizures....but, it's not the same as getting a hug from him in person.

Then there's my youngest, who left for his dads a day early so he could sleep-in the next morning (who's he kidding? Doesn't happen, since they are regulated by his early-bird stepmother who doesn't believe in letting children spend their summer vacations sleeping past seven) promised he'd be right back to give me a hug after he dropped his things off inside, and then disappeared into his dad's den-of-horrors and never emerged for the hug. This after I spent a king's ransom on fireworks for his stay there because daddy dearest wasn't planning on funding it. I even splurged for those psychedelic plastic glasses you wear to make the fireworks funkadelic for him and his dad's new wife's kids (did you follow that?).

So at the moment, feelings of abandonment and being unloved abound. And to top it off, my mind insists on heckling me with the reminder that Byron Katie says we do things to ourselves and then tell the story that others are doing it to us (to paraphrase, however badly). So I have abandoned and unloved myself? Mabe so. And not just me, but others too. Consider my FB profile which has a quote (from a page you can Google called Zen Sarcasm):

"Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me alone."

For some reason I always thought that was hysterical but it also kind of describes my life. Which I set up. And that is a scary thought.

Maybe I should get a cat after all. Wonder if Bubbles is available?

Happy Birthday America. And...

Photo Credit: courtesy of

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Toxic Thinking

While unsuspectingly sitting in an empty movie theater having settled in to watch "The Proposal", a troupe of about ten elderly women noisily arrived and decided to change their seating (wtf? the theater was empty) by sitting in the row right behind me as the movie began. How did I get so lucky...

Their raucous bantering continued through the opening of the movie into the dialogue already in full swing. My heart started pounding, I wondered what to do, and thought, f**k this; I paid to listen to a funny film, not a gaggle of Betty White wannabes. I turned around, looked them over and said loudly so they could actually hear me over their din; "Excuse me, but can you please keep it down? As you can see, the movie has begun!"

Their reactions were startling (but probably shouldn't have been)--laughing uproariously as if I were some intruder into their delightful afternoon and who was I to interrupt their important conversation?

I tried to ignore them, giving them a chance to get into the movie instead of each other (wanting to curse whoever sprung them from their nursing home) and they kept up their bantering and cackling until I wondered if I was in the company of a coven of witches instead of just bitches.

Occasionally the one behind me had to tap at my seat to let me know she was still there, as if her cackling wasn't clue enough, especially as she was doing it even when none was called for. I mean, I laugh unabashedly at movies, embracing the zen of humor wholeheartedly, but her behavior was over the top, as if to prove that she could do whatever the hell she pleased.

Which definitely affected my enjoyment of the film. I would have appreciated it way more if I wasn't so focused on the antics of the geezer brigade behind me. It was unsettling, since my grandmothers (may they rest in blessed quiet peace) never prepared me by displaying such childishness. So I felt like I was sitting in front of an out-of-control geriatric version of belligerent teens.

I comforted myself with the thought that while I couldn't control what was happening behind me, I at least had the courage to speak my peace, and for the rest of the movie knew that whatever they were doing had more to do with who they were and not so much targeting me. I had simply asked for civility. Common courtesy, which turns out, is not that common. But I also knew that they knew that to act this uncivilized they had to do it consciously. And therefore had to be aware of their actions. Which they had to live with, as our time together would soon end. And even I could tell they weren't all that comfortable being such blue-haired biddies.

After an interminable while, their ego-strutting lost its steam until by the time the movie finally ended, they quickly filed out the door as I breathed through the closing credits in solitude. Maybe their Depends were just too full to hold any more and they were making a bathroom break.

I had managed to enjoy this remarkable movie somewhat, but the effort left its toll on my body, the stress chemicals still coursing through me after two long hours. And then, sitting in my car gathering my thoughts, I burst into tears with the realization that it wasn't food that was making me fat (specifically, the stress-caused belly fat collected over the past two years), it was my uninvestigated thinking that was putting on the weight. Uninvestigated thinking is a term Byron Katie uses in her inquiry process called 'The Work'.

The revelation was shocking, because all this time I have been obsessing over eating healthier, becoming raw again, making sugar and fast foods evil etc. but the real problem is not the food, but my thinking about stressful situations--like my movie theater adventure--that led to overeating comfort foods, and the 'badder' the better.

Note: I recently read this; “Our thoughts, our beliefs, our emotions release chemicals in our body that can eventually kill us. Our anger, depression, anxiety is more dangerous than the food we eat or don’t eat.” And there you have it. Fat cells expanding.

As this new thinking sinks in, I actually look forward to sitting in front of noisy people in movie theaters (a long-time pet peeve never so thoroughly tested until today) again because it shows me exactly where I still have work to do.

So thank you ladies, and...

Photo credit: