On Loss…

Life’s less gentle tides, all these flowing, sometimes crushing rides send us whirlwind spinning and yet, love. Love secures, sustains when all thought of explanation is a whimper in dark refrain. And somehow, in the roughest slam against some hard, craggy shelter, we are held together. By love.

The picture below is one taken of my children a handful of years ago. We were visiting Sunset Beach, NC for a memorial service at low tide. The metamorphosis of my children’s sweet lives in such a short stretch of time, their growth and resulting loss is palpable at times. It can seem strange to see it as such but growth is a loss, on many levels. It is an exchanging of one way of being in the world for a new way or a revised way of being. The need to hold to something constant while going through these changes is, at times, all-consuming. I see it in my youngest’s struggle with divorce, watching his siblings go from fun playful pals to serious, teenage individuals who want their own space. It’s plenty to deal with and all while growing a new phase of his own, unfolding into the pre-teen years.

And he does it with awareness, the double-edged sword of clarity and recognition of what he’s losing in order to gain something he doesn’t even know yet or trust. Without my interference or prompting, he sees. And I find myself reflecting on adulthood and on how so many never really get to that level of maturity beyond the inevitably obvious chronological advancement. The fear of life itself seizes us at some point, fear of the loss created by growth, by awareness, by commitment to choices, by accepting our greatness and our frailties and all the resulting responsibilities. And accountability. And possible accidents. And maybe even death. We, for all our adult constructs, can quickly find ourselves whispering… “Wait, take me back to the time under the pier when it was all so simple and ashes washed away in the tide, the idea of a life gone somehow muted in the sound of hypnotic waves. All is well…”

The first 4 “sentences” of this blog post were originally written for my dear friend, Kate. These words are my heart response to an onslaught of hurtful reminders of why it’s all so precious. She has faced death after death this past year and kept her heart open. We’re growing together in our friendship and in business, learning what we have to lose in order to make dreams come to life. And what we aren’t willing to lose. And what we can’t control, when others’ lives fade away. Growth requires awareness, objectivity, rational acceptance and commitment. And this is true at any age. But more so as we age and feel the urgency of life’s demands.

What strikes me through it all, through birth and death, in the midst of growth from being cute cuddly kids to sometimes awkward teens to “adults” to mature individuals is how deeply we need truth and courage in order to grow in a love that is real. Not some sentimental fluff hoping to hide. How do we get there? To that place of courage? We get there by believing in our best, by trusting life to toss us around a bit and teach us what we’re made of and why we cry when we lose what is so deeply precious to us. We get there by embracing our greatness and all the responsibility that goes with it. We get there by not pretending we’ve arrived at some height of enlightenment exempt from frailty or flaws. There’s no arrival. Just this clinging as we go and letting go as we must, affirming love as we allow life to shape us…

Sunsets and beginnings…

All I Know Is…

All I know is… I love you, yes, I love you…

John Butler Trio has a sweet song called Peaches and Cream and the previous lines are sung over and over in it. It’s ringing through my head on an almost daily basis here along with occasional outbursts of rebel songs like Sledgehammer (Peter Gabriel) and Somebody Loved (The Weepies). They’re “rebel” in that they’re something other than the one song almost perpetually asserting itself in my mind.

I’m liking how moments in time find a way of playing and re-playing their magic sometimes at will, seemingly apart from my own bidding. This past Saturday is the day that holds the moment that contains the song that won’t quit.

My daughter, Marion, sang and played her guitar for a small group of folks at a local coffee shop. She went from avoiding such things to just suddenly deciding she’d do it. And not just play, but sing. I was nervous.

(so was she)

And excited. (ditto)

All mama-bias aside, she rocked it beautifully. Her instructor was bowled over since he’d not heard her sing before or play her guitar so loudly and confidently. It was a crossover moment. One in which she chose to embrace her strength, her talent. I beamed for hours, uncertain if I was more thrilled that she’d done so well (I know what she’s capable of but I know the power of the fear of being out in front!) or that she’d embraced what’s been brewing for so long.

And then the week was awash beyond that with so much else, ridiculously full to overflowing, moments and events asserting their energy all over the place. While this one song…and especially just this one line…

All I know is…

All I know is…I love you.

And that’s it, isn’t it?

We can be awash, wrecked, buoyed, bolstered, catapulted, bolted (like I was this morning at 3am when my intruder alarm went off for no reason), flooded with so much to do, plan, grow, show, trash and build and it’s all about that one encompassing, nurturing, growthful, giving reality…

love. And love’s vision of building beyond the moment into something sustaining more love and more growth. Do we know this? With every fiber of our beings? Or do we do, go, fret along the trail and hope for lil glimpses, gulps and spills of it?

All I know is…

And it’s all we can really afford to know with any certainty and it’s the one thing we can’t afford not to know.





The following quote from Caroline Myss comes through as a beautiful reminder of why so many things have fallen away in my life.

“When you enter into anything, as a frightened being, that contract you make with another person out of fear, has to fall apart.”
~ Caroline Myss

This truth is so powerful, so earth-shaking important and reminds me of why I made some epic life changes, or rather, began the process of epic life changes over 10 years ago. The difficulty in this and in moving forward into new “contracts” is that so many people draw mainly from fear as a source. This is why I delight in working with the people I work with and getting to know more and more visionaries who refuse fear.

As a parent, it’s critical for me to keep this in mind as I stand with my 17 year old and sometimes a few steps behind her, so as not to hinder her growth. There’s a fine line between fostering wise progress in decision-making and instilling fear. “You should go to college so you don’t end up jobless and penniless at the age of ___.” Or “The best thing to do is go to college since you’re so smart!” This sounds less fearful but it’s still fearful. “Here! I don’t want to feel like I haven’t encouraged what is the mainstream, widely-accepted idea of what’s ‘best’ for you, and what if it saves you from disaster one day? And and and! There could only be one way to honor your intelligence! I can’t think of anything more predictable and safe!”

My 17 year old daughter is brilliant. I have a set of friends who balk at the fact that she’s homeschooling now. Balk. “But she’s so smart!” One even used the term “drop-out.”

Sighs. I. Am. A. Bad. Mother.


I also have a set of friends who cheer this choice and, not only that, but with tremendous enthusiasm, articulating the wisdom they personally see in it.

So, the 17 year old in my care isn’t wanting college right after the high school diploma. She insists on doing it her way, diving into life first. I can’t pull the “mommy knows best” bull on her. Why? Because I don’t know best. It’s her life. The only correct path is the path of soul, of honoring the dynamic, adventure-filled process of unfolding into life. As it was my task, over 25 years ago, to begin to discern what Ruth-traits were fearful masks and reactions and which ones came from dynamic soulfulness, so it continues to be. And the more I embrace love, refuse fear and let go of what I can’t control, the more hope I have, and my loved ones have, of forging those relationships that will last.

On with it…


There are times when life pushes us so rapidly forward everything in the surrounding landscape seems suspended in a freeze frame of such deep meaning. All we can do is strap on the seat belt and hope to not come out of it feeling like hammered refuse. (Ref yoose)

It’s so much and all at once and doesn’t fall on hard soil here, so much to sink in. So…

I feel like hammered um. Yes. But the pound has definitely driven home (deeper/truer) the preciousness of it all and the impossibility of ever really affirming value. We can only live, only flow, only hold and then release, only note the images frozen temporarily as their gold is branded deeply into our hearts, a realization of the depth of treasure at once fleeting and forever.

Like a daughter’s prom details thrown together at the last minute as our relationship continues to morph in the setting sun of her childhood (and I swallow huge lump in throat, grin and grab one more hug, so proud beyond measure of all she is becoming, unfolding) as she expands her horizons, and continues to teach her little brothers great things… the continued meaningful silences from a son who still has few words but a brain alive, a soul running deep and an ability to convey with his body language and eyes beyond what is so often for far too many a flip use of verbal language (nothing flip about this one), as he wields violin and climbs trees, creating maps and adventures within the stillness… and the son with hair afire and heart running fast forward into comprehension and expression, so far beyond his years, holding tight to bonds while learning who his real friends are and how amazing is music, is the outpouring of heart…

Like a body slowly healing and then stumbling and then back up again and pounds gained, then lost, muscles diminished and then trying again, a fine science to this tightrope walk with chronic illness and fitness (insert ironic laughter here), friendships new and renewing, insisting on stretching my mind, my self-perception, my limitations, my pride, my walls, preconceived ideas and notions stripped away as the imagination begins to slowly re-emerge and…

All of this richness of living suspends my writing and pauses my outpourings because of what stews in the cauldron of heart and mind, growing me more deeply settled (and stirred!) but with so much less to say. For now, living is all…further bulletins as life allows…

Beauty, Minstrel teaches her bros guitar-pickin’ and…
Long-haired, “Jesus” plays soccer too…
Red, Rockin’ Blackbird beautifully…

Parenting . . .

. . . conjures cauldrons many and mysterious, deep and powerful, forming us as we give ourselves to the process of mutual growth. I’m marveling today over both the rewards and demands parenting brings and how each new phase for my children means a new phase for me and my own development. Just when I think this role can’t ask anything more, guess what? But it is such a beautiful ride even into these crazy teen years.

What am I learning?

1. Authority has to be sure and flexible – giving room for the valid voice of your child’s perspective. I can’t validate my own voice and then turn around and invalidate my children’s perspectives and objectives unless it’s a severe situation. Authority requires respect and a platform for their perspectives, time for their understandable frustrations and affirmation of their intelligence without losing sight of what needs to be accomplished.

2. Remembering what it was like to be a child is not a guarantee you understand your child. We’re not all wired the same way and do not all experience life on the same levels. Sounds pretty simple enough but I’ve got one particularly sensitive child who, if he thinks I’m assuming to understand before he’s shared his heart, gets pretty darn peeved when he smells my rush to understand. And he’s usually experiencing things very differently from the way I did. It’s actually supremely rewarding to get to hear the articulation of their unique experience of life.

3. Expectation is everything and how you treat others (your children included) will come back to haunt you (or bless you). The two go together. When we get in a slump of conflict I have to pull back and ask myself if I’m stuck in conflict-expectation mode (kinda like ptsd but not quite 😉 ). Truly, this one is powerful. The best practice is one of allowing the conflict to teach you things about your child and about yourself while letting all the garbage of that conflict go. No holding out for it to happen again, no going around with a cringe or hurt feelings that your kid didn’t worship you, no “poor me, I’m so tired, give everything, work SO hard, can you believe my child was that disrespectful,” no war-weary energy allowed, no woe-is-me, martyr parent of teens angst or it. will. keep. coming. Reactionary parenting creates reactionary, flip, cynical children. Visionary, expectant of beautiful things is what you want. Expect the best. Expect humanity (this means weaknesses, rebellion and strength) but without melodrama or judgement. And know that if you don’t treat your children like you would treat your best, most cherished friend, you’ll get exactly what you put into it. Do unto others applies to parenting, even when you’re right and they’re wrong (and snotty about it!).

4. No one style of parenting fits from child to child in one family but fairness and consistency are a must. The one-size-fits-all approach is really just a disconnect from knowing someone intimately and taking the time to cherish who they uniquely are as people (people, not “kids”). Dynamic relating for dynamic situations with dynamic cause and effect layers tangling up with some pretty intense and dynamic unconscious agendas. (dynamic as opposed to always the same ole thing static norm)

5. I agree with Dobson. Rules without Relationship = Rebellion. And well it should. How many adult friends go around bossing each other and barking out orders? Not ones who get along very well anyway. Boundaries erected with consequences relevant to the situation combined with concerted effort to respectfully connect to the person your child is and is becoming make for some beautiful relating in the long-term.

6. Condescending Airs fall flat… totally. And it’s inevitable sometimes just given the disparity in inexperience but the better bet is to allow your kids to see your humanity, not just your authority or expertise and remember you’re not the expert of their lives. They are. You’re just temporary guardian and motivator (and they can jolly well pull their weight!).

Having expressed all of that, the mix of stories out there is amazingly diverse, revealing that some of the most patient, pro-active, compassionate, hard-working parents still live out some very sad stories with their children, tragic outcomes almost impossible to fathom. We may be parenting beautifully but we’re not able to control how our children will live their lives, are we? Letting go…oh wow. How? Sometimes life wrenches our hands open whether we like it or not.

This post certainly isn’t the answer to all parenting challenges. It’s what I’ve learned so far. And have to remind myself of on a regular basis. It’s been a cauldron supreme lately in my own life and in the lives of dear friends. So much we hope for, so much we pour out from our life’s best energy. What I keep coming back to is this: parenting is an unfolding of who you are overall, into the lives of your children, children who are people (critical emphasis, they are not objects you’ve brought into the world to dress up and put in the best schools to make you look good), adults in the making so hugely worthy of respect and all the best regard. Sometimes that respect and regard wields the fiercest words of stinging truth and other times the gentlest balm. Knowing when, how and where…it’s a lesson in flexibility and awareness. And we don’t always get it right but one of the best comebacks is ownership of our faults with our children… “Hey, I’m sorry. I really ran all over you and didn’t hear what you were saying. I was rude and disrespectful. When you feel up for it, please try again. I’m here.”

Being what we hope our kids can be…I think that’s one of the biggest keys and acknowledging to them directly that they birth us too.

Jesus Plays Violin

I got to sit and marvel over both my sons last night. One with longish red hair and a still-cherubic face and viola vibe. The other with this dignified silence his friends can’t ignore. The way our lives twist and turn, taking on hues and chords we never imagined before struck me as I sat there with my daughter in-between me and the father of my children, a man who is friend and co-parent but no longer husband. It was at once amusing and moving. Amusing because the ironies are many and moving because it works beautifully. Like my eldest son’s chucks and long hair with black dress pants and long-sleeved white shirt, the concert garb of a boy from a family held by love.

The image below shows my eldest son, Isaac, complete with cleft chin and slight smile. For over a year now he’s been dubbed “Jesus” by some of his classmates. The irony of such, given the intensity of my past life, blasts a trumpet of hilarity and resilience the likes of which I have to say I thoroughly revel in. I still have the leather purse given me at a tender age with the phrase “Jesus is King” etched on the outside by the maker, one of those 60’s hippie-style numbers with a Jesus Freak twist. I still have appreciation for what Christ accomplished. But my sense of humor sings louder than anything else on this one colorful thread of life’s relentless irony weave.

Does Isaac mind being called Jesus? No, it was meant as a joke because he’s grown his hair fairly long for this quiet town in the Bible Belt and he’s one of those compassionate but candid creatures with a propensity for keeping it simple. A young man of few words, the moniker has stuck. Give this Jesus 2 hours on Minecraft and the worlds he builds are intricate and elaborately planned. His deep affection shows little use for words while the hugs, pats, and meaningful eye contact sing a silent feast. He feels deeply but don’t ask him to say much.  Isaac is busy with his amness. And he’s rockin’ great at it.

Formerly known as Buddha Boy, back when he was a chunky toddler, it’s fitting his friends playfully call him Jesus now. His hair goes a few inches past his shoulders and he’s been known to evoke the nickname “string-bean.” This shift to Jesus works well. It goes right along with the path he’s on, not in terms of service to humanity but just in the way he’s open to the various songs of truth coming from seemingly opposed forces. And that, in itself, is a service, isn’t it?

Buddha boy should inevitably take a Jesus turn. And it’s a blast to watch him grow, play his way along the violin’s voice and kick a soccer ball with the kind of precise finesse you expect of someone who cares about detail. More and more I love these lives whose actions speak so many things, singing varied melodies and saving their world one work of individuality at a time.

Jesus Plays Violin

School of Freedom

“Patience is a quality that is necessary in order to have  any kind of healing take place. We are taught to rush about in our modern lives and to accomplish as much as possible in a day. Yet, when it comes to the body, we cannot hurry the healing process. The body repairs itself at its own rate. Babies are born in their own time. Cuts and broken bones mend when the body is strong enough to produce new cells, and there is no way a human being can force the body to mend faster…When a person has to be talking, hurrying, fidgeting, or actively engaged all the time, this reflects that person’s agitation with life. This constant agitation shows the astute observer that the person has not come to a place of healing. Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing cannot take place without patience and stillness.” Jamie Sams – Earth Medicine, Ancestor’s  Ways of Harmony for Many Moons

My world brews a rich concoction of patience and freedom, dancing right there on the edge of frustration. Frustration’s a good thing. It shows us where we’re wanting, needing or sometimes just impatient or it’s simply the by-product of restraint, of obstruction, of working through challenges in order to obtain a much-desired outcome. Or a basic need. It’s not lost on me that for two years now my daughter and I have both struggled with various frustrations. As my health screams somewhat relentless reminders that some illnesses don’t much care how much spunk and determination I have, the body must heal in her own time (within certain absolutely essential parameters), my daughter’s inability to pretend that public school has become anything but a crippling deterrent to learning and soulfulness has culminated into our mutual respect for patience and freedom. There comes a time when it’s time. So, as I’ve come to learn the essential requirements for my recovery and healing, we’ve also come to a place of realizing the School of Freedom has gotta open.

There’s no room for varying learning styles or respect for the body’s own unique rhythms on the conveyor belt system posing education for some. And in spite of that, some thrive and there are beautiful benefits within the flawed system with beautiful teachers and administrators making the most of it. But my daughter has not been able to thrive within that system and watching her wilt as I heal painstakingly gradually has been a heart-breaking reality. Back and forth we’ve swayed there on that cliff before grabbing each other by the hand and taking the leap. Home school is now our wonderful free fall into grace. We finally did it. And I wouldn’t be able to pull it off were she not so darn smart.

We hit critical mass a week ago. I sat down at the computer, did the research on how to open a homeschool and within 5 hours the deed was done. We could walk into her high school together and withdraw her legally and begin the new season. Before that, we had to find a name. I tossed some out there. “Nah…no…why that one?” Finally, she pipes up, “How about school of freedom?”

How about perfect? We took time in the light of that open door, days for her whole being to adjust and then we took the leap.

The cultivation of healing requires a level of freedom in order for any needful patience to even begin to work her steady ministrations of repair and restoration. If we’re living lifestyles that make patience obsolete, thus will our healing follow steadily into the void. Nada. Nothing. Nowhere. Automatons fidgeting with our duties and our hobbies, divorced from the soul of rest, of finding the body’s own time and allowing the space for life itself to consume us into wholeness, into rest, into respect for what must MEND. And my daughter is mending. Learning to love learning. One week and the changes are already very obvious. When the pressure is on to fit onto a conveyor belt reality, the idea of giving of yourself, of relaxing, of owning any kind of vision of your life is only a notion. That creates an enormous strain, pressure, unrest and it boils over into hurrying, fidgeting, attention deficit “disorder.” The organism frantically seeks balance and the frenetic feel of it is the tell-tale sign of a system all wrong. There must be room for being human. If you cannot take the time to be still and let your mind go blank and free, where are you? Why?

We all need a little school of freedom, room to let go and be still, restore our natural drive to learn, to run whatever marathon we desire not out of compulsion or duty or striving to prove but simply in honor of who we are. At. A. Pace. Respectful of the body. And the heart’s own mind…



Penn State

Being philosophically correct is a nowhere game. Being politically correct is the same. Speaking from the heart, I can say that if I think of these children who were brutalized, I can only be enraged that they were so horribly victimized, that they may take decades to rid themselves of the imprint, the injury. And that some of them may not succeed. That, as with physical injuries, some may be maimed in ways nothing, no belief system, no doctor, no miracle can undo. There’s no way out of that fact. And the anger associated with it is a direct representation of the value of what these fiendish acts brutalized. The validity of outrage doesn’t change any laws of power or prosperity or. Or. Those who perpetrated these violations don’t deserve the waste of our energy by stewing in anger over their sicknesses. They are responsible for themselves. We are responsible for how we allow this to inform and inspire our actions as people united in love and in protection of value and nothing more.

That Penn State did what Penn State has been doing all this time is not a shocker. It’s appalling, yes. But it’s not a surprise. We don’t grow into ownership and embodiment of truth overnight. Penn State won’t any time soon, if ever, since they stand only for profit. We cannot trust institutions. No matter how long their tradition or how reputable. We can work with them to further our own purposes. We can join with them to further our own causes. But we can never assume that our need for diligence in discernment or our responsibility as the gatekeepers for our children (or anything we nurture) is even slightly lifted by the presence of any institution’s reputation or supposed reliability or statement of purpose. We, the parents. We, the neighbors. We, the administrators. We, the co-workers have to assume the buck stops with us. Not with the guy with more clout. Not with the bosses. Not with the lady with the social services degree. Not anywhere but here. With the one living her life, cultivating what she believes in and making sure the fruit of her fields sing of integrity down to the core. Because at the end of the day, association with an institution does not make a person any less vulnerable to exploitation or apathy. It’s up to the individual to raise and keep the standard, to grow up beyond a need for mommy/daddy/institution to parent, rescue, prosecute. It’s that simple and that tough.