Day Two

A lighthouse makes me think of home…. a place where they always keep the light on for you. Although my children and grandchildren live far away, they remain the light in my otherwise foggy world. Today I trudge through the thick sand in search of the lightness of being that comes from a life that is not in trouble. The beam that I am walking toward reminds me that there is always help to give and to receive, which is the great peace that comes from living through the storm.

Day One of the Pandemic Journey

As I meander about the Cape taking time to BE in place while allowing my senses, emotions and mind awaken to what is new around me, I hope my wanderings become an invitation to unfinished women to do the same… Imagine if day after day of 100 days each of us dedicate ourselves to revival how much awakening can occur.

Let’s Begin…..DAY ONE: There’s something exhilarating about dancing waves covering the seas as if in a chorus line. It is not difficult to get a new kick in my step with an ocean of encouragement. Stepping out and away from the mundane offers much needed adrenaline for the seeker in search of waking up.

Pandemic Journey

Knowing full well I’m rushing the end of this joyless time, I can wait no longer wait to jump start my sedentary life. I tossed into the fireplace the sign my neighbor gave me nine months ago. It read: THIS IS NOT NORMAL. I’ve made a promise to myself that in place of brooding (which comes with anything chronic), I will put pen to paper with fresh thoughts that produce positive energy rather than negative. I will set aside the next 100 days that our new President suggested to reboot my lethargic soul and begin to be new once again, ready and eager for when the pandemic leaves us.This will be a difficult task, overwhelmed as I am having spent the past nine months being speechless as well as depressed. Cogent thoughts, when I have them, become fleeting giving way to a sense of hopefulness one minute and doom and gloom the next. Days come and go, one season runs into the other, and there seems to be no reliable future on the horizon.It’s been an underwhelming time with little connection, no face to face conversation,cancelled holidays, and more. We‘ve been introduced to new language and new behaviors, virtual being the dominant one. Puzzled by the term I looked in the dictionary for its meaning: virtual means existing or resulting in essence of effect although not in actual fact, form, or name. We are all meant to go from real existence to an unreal one.That means shelter in in place, social distancing, wearing masks which cover up any or all facial expression…in short, go remote, be solo, and like a bear, hibernate until it safe to emerge.Well I’ve pretty much followed these rules and will continue to do so with one exception: I plan to gradually emerge and embrace the world beyond my doorstep (with mask), hoping to find inspiration beyond the perils of pandemic. The word inspire means to reach toward something. Each day I will open my heart, mind, senses, and energy to find solace in all that was left behind. At the very least there should be born a new perspective.Join me online and together we can begin to come alive once again. Carpe Diem!






I never thought I’d write about my dirty little secret forty years later but the culture that is forming around abuse against women compels me to speak my truth.
It was a warm summer day in suburban New York, the kind of day for halter and shorts and a cooler full of water and juice boxes that accompanied my boys and me to a local park. Suddenly I heard a scream which was undoubtedly my youngest, who had just fallen off the jungle gym, blood gushing from the side of his head. I scraped him up, heart beating, and rushed off to our pediatrician, a mere 4 blocks away. We were ushered into an examining room with the doctor following closely behind. One quick look and it was ascertained that butterfly bandages would do the job. My shoulders relaxed and I stood near the table hugging my baby just as I felt a hand slide under my halter and onto my bare breast. When I pulled myself away the good doctor planted a kiss on my mouth, tongue and all, as I recoiled, taking my baby into my arms. He said something to the effect that it was no big deal and besides he was only honoring how attractive I was. I left in a hurry, not even bothering to stop at the desk where his wife was in charge of accounts.
In retrospect the question became why didn’t I make an issue of it? First of all, I am a woman with compassion and I did not want to hurt his wife who was just outside the folding wooden door. Secondly, my little three year old was on the table of a man who he needed to trust and I didn’t want him to see my anger or fear around the doctor’s perverse behavior.Thirdly, relatively new in town, I didn’t know how to get or even find a new pediatrician that would come as recommended as this one. So I kept my mouth shut and returned time and again, cowering mostly in the corner of the examining room so as to avoid being fondled one way or another.
Embarrassed and actually ashamed (perhaps I had come on to him I wondered) it wasn’t until a year later, while at a cocktail party that the subject of sexual abuse came up and various benign tales were shared. “I can top that one,” I said and blurted out my story. With a horrified husband sitting nearby, suffice it to say it took him not a day or two to have our son’s records changed and off we went to a more professional practice.
Why tell now? So many of the recent “me too” stories have involved women in the workplace being made to succumb in order to keep their jobs. My story is about compassion…a woman’s innate compassion to not hurt another woman (the doctor’s wife in this case) and my desire not to frighten my child by making a scene. Simply put it was easier for me to get over it and bury the truth than make a big deal of it.
But there were deeper issues. Not respecting my body (or myself for that matter) started a long time ago. There was an abuse scene I recall when I was 3, some approaches made by uncles, and gradually a sense that my body was somehow shameful and of little worth. Whether these feelings came from the original abuse or not, the injury has caused me a lifetime of body loathing, hypochondria, and finally therapy to learn respect for the vessel in which I live.

The Gift Of Resolution-Happy New Year

The deep freeze is gradually letting up and I am luxuriating in a slow January thaw that gives me pause. As I sit by the fire, cup of tea in hand, and with a mere glance at last year’s calendar full of obligations that were not of my choosing, I feel its time to make some changes. Just as each age has its tasks, so each year has me living differently from before, especially now when I’ve come to the age of wisdom gathering.
I’ve been pondering what it means to be 70. No question that body, mind, and soul shifts, and with it, a new sense of being. It seems I am finally growing up in a new and resolute way—determined and unwavering to not only become new, but to exercise my right to BE new. Before now I wavered at making new year’s resolutions because I was still unsure if I could carry a pledge or expression of opinion forward. But now, well into my seventh decade, it is time.
Indeed, such a declaration has to do with legacy—no longer being on the fence but declaring my truth without hesitation, knowing it might not be someone else’s truth. I recall my father always complaining about his best friend who would never offer an opinion one way or the other. “Since I never knew where he stood,” my father concluded, “you couldn’t really know him.” I’m not so concerned that the ‘outer world’ know me but I do want to know myself and very much want my children to know me as well.
Although I’ve been hard pressed to even consider how I believe one should or could live out a lifetime, I’ve agree with a statement Meryl Streep made about the juncture she found herself at. “Reconciliation with your life when you’ve come to a point where you’ve lived most of it, seems the only comfortable way to age.”
And so, as I toss another log on the fire, take pen to hand to write down a few resolutions. I chuckle at the card sitting on the coffee table given to me by a friend who knows me all too well.
The inscription reads:
One day she woke up and decided to say NO and the whole world didn’t fall apart.
From that my resolutions became relatively apparent.
Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
(One of Tom Jefferson’s rules…most things I did grudgingly, but no more.)
Step away from the traffic of function.
(Function means performance. I prefer serendipity.)
Say yes to life and no to anything that bores you.
(No more thinking about doing what lights my fire.)
Avoid small talk. It is a painful duty.
(Not enough hours to engage in talk of weather, food, and people you don’t know.)
(Make my house Zen..calm, music, candles, and cleared off tables.)
Reassess my values.
(Are they my values or learned values from outside myself.)
Enjoy ordinary events…let them take center stage.
(Anything to do with children, nature, and humanity.)
Noticing becomes a prime contemplative habit.
(Eye to eye contact with silence mixed in creates peace.)
Character is everything…be who you’ve become.
Well, there you have it. I am now making copies of my resolution and plastering them all over the house…bathroom mirror, computer, side door, car…perhaps by 2019 I will have mastered them or be ready to make a whole new list. In any case, I am taking my task seriously because as an old friend of mine wrote:
“I must learn to care for my life,” she said, nurture, relish and love it for no one else can live it for me. It is our life we want and we don’t
want to waste anymore of it. So we must begin to savor the blessedness of the ordinary. At our age we are free to do what we really
Believe is right and good.”
At our age we are free to do what we really “believe is right and good”.
Go for it!
Happy New Year.

International Women’s Day

international Woman's day 2






Famed sociologist, Ashley Montagu called women “the carriers of culture”. Indeed, when I ponder the instincts and intuitions of the women I know they have a sensibility that encompasses mind, body and spirit.

It seems to me that women would…

Pray rather than fight

Speak out rather than hold on

Protect rather than object

Be proactive rather than passive

Gather together rather than scatter

Touch rather than remain aloof

Love rather than hate

Give rather than take

Reclaim rather than toss away

Be mindful rather than mindless

Why not all of us begin to carry the culture to a new and more peaceful place by using our innate gifts in quiet and gentle ways.


Let Go

Whidbey Labyrinth

While trekking through a nature preserve called the Earth Sanctuary, a place of spiritual diversity filled with shrines, small temples, and altars, I happened upon a labyrinth which beckoned me to enter. KripaluHaving been carrying the weight of yet another family crisis, I was once again searching for solutions and have always found that walking such ancient circles offers wisdom. Besides, when I finally slow down and stay deliberately present, insights come.

So I begin, carefully navigating my rather large feet to remain within the narrow confines of the path. Eventually at the center I stand erect, eyes closed, and begin to breathe with the gentle wind that accompanies me this spring day. In a matter of minutes the words LET GO come. Easier said than done my sardonic brain thinks, having failed miserable at numerous attempts to control my life–such things as debilitating hypochondria, lost friendships, failing at solving my grown children’s problems, and myriad faux pas committed that I continue to regret.

Take hypochondria, for instance. For the most part I deny physical ailments because what I don’t know won’t worry me, and yet they do! Similarly, giving up friendships that had become hurtful and even toxic while knowing that anyone who treats you as an option when you treat them as a priority needs to go. And yet, I hold on! As for grown children and their issues, they actually don’t have their focus on us so why do I keep them front and center in my consciousness? And as for faux pas, once the words are out of my mouth or a misguided action happens it can’t be erased, save making amends on paper or face to face.

So I am left in a quandary as I head out of the labyrinth confused as to how to even begin to LET GO. With tears running down my cheeks I repeat the phrase...let go..let go.. let go. Once outside the protective circle I am completely disoriented. What’s more I am supposed to meet up with a group of women and surely now will be a no show. In my haste and panic I take one long turn after another Whidbey Standing Stones #2going deep into an unknown forest and yes indeed, instead of letting go, I tighten up. Haven’t I learned after all these years of practice that when stopped in my tracks I need to turn fixation away from fear and simply surrender? This is a nature walk, for God’s sake, not a marathon!

I plop down on a nearby boulder and breathe, all the while listening to a cacophony of birds singing like a choir in an ancient cathedral. A little prayer to St. Anthony gets me up and going a few minutes later and without noticing it, I feel soothed by the magic of this place and begin to let its beauty take over. Wandering now and free of panic, I see my group in the distance and meander toward them.

Our destination is a Native American Medicine Wheel–a shrine dedicated to the elders whose spirits and energy are always available to us. As I step over the threshold I am overcome with feelings of grit, courage, risk taking and faith, all characteristics of my mother, grandmothers and great grandmothers.joan's anscestors It occurred to me that they have always stood ready, from their lives and the grave, to buoy me. Indeed, their very DNA lives within and is always there. When next I think I must do it all, perhaps I will remember to turn my eyes to the hills and my thoughts to my ancestors and LET GO. None of us is alone.

A Winter Solstice Lesson

Tree branches in window.It is one of those bleak mid-winter mornings when dawn is about to break. I sip coffee while watching the first snowfall blow gently across the lawn. All seems calm and bright for the first time in a long while.

It’s been two years since my very tall husband tumbled in the middle of the night breaking his neck and part of his back. During the six-hour emergency surgery, while pacing the hospital halls, I made a promise that if he came out of it without paralysis; I would do all within my power to bring us through. So began a time of aimless wandering through my days and months with little or no direction, moving through circumstances that owned me, although I had no role in creating them.

For a control freak to be relegated to bystander is a most dreadful punishment, and playing nurse has never been my forte. I was powerless from stopping his future falls and soothing his pain, save offering him painkillers. It fell squarely in his court to muster courage, will, strength, and a positive attitude.

The more I tried to move things along, the deeper we sunk into the muck. With compassion I cajoled and force-fed him protein shakes, and in desperation turned to humor which occasionally brought us both a chuckle.

Looking back these two years were tough and bitter, but armored with a modicum of hope and friends, a sparkle began returning to my very being. This morning I see it all as an exercise in patience.

An Amaryllis plant which sits before me affirms my morning musings. I realize that I’ve been overanxious for its flower to appear. Each day I water it a bit, coaxing it to life, and each day it does what it’s meant to do–its bold pod staunch as if to say…in time…in time…I’m reminded of something Mark Nepo wrote: Whatever our path, the secret of life somehow always has to do with the awakening and freeing of what has been asleep.

Just as I evolved through this year contained and restrained by life’s will, so it is with my mysterious plant as I watch it emerge from the soil, growing taller and bolder. It is true of me as well.

It is the winter solstice–a time to give birth (or let bloom) to that which I have worked through this past year and then begin to plant new seeds for the future.

Indeed, as Nepo alludes to, I have been asleep, albeit almost sleepwalking. But on this morning I feel an awakening that will free me once again to look for and welcome the things that never were. Amaryliss blooming

Can you celebrate the old and the new this solstice? That is what this season of meditation is all about…to stay grounded and to grow through one life to another.

Reclaim The Woman You Left Behind

Hands Up! November 2017 Retreat(1)


It’s never too late to reclaim your life. It just takes a bit of risk and determination. This past November 53 women journeyed to Chatham, Massachusetts to repair their spirits and rediscover the raw material person they had papered over while playing myriad roles that our culture expects from them. The women came from 20 states and Canada, and their ages ranged from mid-thirties to seventies. Out of their busy lives they carved a weekend to remove themselves from the clutter and the clamor of human doingness and allowed themselves to be still and listen to what their heart has been trying to tell them.

Chatham BArs Inn at Sunset #2

Through out the weekend each woman begins to understand the innate strengths she possess from living through adversity, experiencing the various phases of a woman’s life, and overcoming the pitfalls of both counterfeit and second journeys.


They arrived on Friday afternoon as strangers and left on Sunday as a circle of fellow seekers willing to climb the ladder of knowing. Every woman possesses what she needs to navigate her future and the weekend provides the structure to accomplish that goal.IMG_1587

It was on this magical peninsula that my year by the sea  began. This is where I realized that I could defer no longer, and that I was as unfinished as the shoreline along the beach and intended to transcend myself again and again.



In a recent morning devotional I read a line that hit me between the eyes. It said: Be free in your spirit always…do not waste your time attaching yourself to hurt and pain.

Having been raised in a fear based household which no doubt accounts for my hypochondria and other phobias, I am more frequently attaching myself to the negative rather than to the positive. Even though I know full well that negative thinking causes depression and worse still, all manner of disease, breaking the habit of worry is easier said than done.

But still, I was struck by the word attach…something that denotes clinging and holding onto rather than simple letting go of that which is simply not serving me.

So on a recent road trip with my husband for a much needed get-a-way, I made a secret pact with myself not to bring up one negative thought or on-going family situation that might contribute to my neurosis. Traveling south for an eleven hour journey and out of cell phone contact it would be possible to work this experiment. We would be disconnected from family, work, and pending issues that tend to distract us from life’s joys. I would attempt to be focused on fun and celebration, both easy to achieve being away from the mundane and heading into the adventure of the unknown.

Although my mind occasionally slipped into thoughts of doom and gloom I reminded myself that I wasn’t going to get this “free” time back again nor would I get this very day and place back again.  I could attach to my fears as they crept into my head or not. Reminding myself that fear is nothing more than FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL I would cancel the thought for the time being and give my spirit a chance to be free.

Breaking habits of attachment is particularly hard for women who have spent so much of their life being involved with others. Time can be better spent enjoying the moment or the process of what we are doing instead of attaching to the hope for destination or peace which, in the end, is almost always unattainable.