Monday, December 31, 2007

Rabbit Rabbit

This day, New Year's Eve, is frought with stress for me.

The beginning of the year signifies a big ass work load that requires careful proceeding. One mistake and I have really got a mess on my hands. Now that I am doing the books for two companies, I feel doubly stressed. Setting up new files, taxes (quarterly and annual), 1099's and W-2's, insurance audits...god I feel sick just thinking about it.

Then we have tonight, the heaviest drinking night in the year. Every year for the past few we have gone to a party where there is lots of drinking and dancing; and when I quit drinking, I quit dancing so you can see how I worry about having a good time at this gathering. On my way home from work today, I said to myself, "Well, self, so what if you have a little glass of champagne? What'll it matter? You'll get a little high, and tomorrow you can resume your boring sobriety." {Sigh} if only it were that simple. But it's not.

Here are the good things about the party: the food is always excellent, conversation stimulating, music out of this world, setting is the most beautiful house we ever built. I get to kiss alot of good-looking guys after I kiss Durham and say "Rabbit rabbit" (family tradition from I have no idea where). And I'll remember everything tomorrow. And feel good.

There, I feel better already. But about that damn work load...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New York billboard

Saying goodbye to everybody has made me kind of blue. Thought some humor would help....

Monday, December 24, 2007

tick tick tick

Remember the tick tick tick? It blew tonight at my house. Everybody feeling kind of edgy about all the togetherness and scheduled events when we're used to living our own lives on our own schedules. Too much sugar and for some a bit of a big head this morning. One daughter accuses me of saying something a few months ago she didn't like and another gets pissed at Christmas Eve dinner; all three bicker over singing (or not singing) Christmas carols in the car. And that does it--I'm crying. And you know how it is once you start crying over the holidays: you're sad about every person who has died, every Christmas that you were disappointed, every slight that has been doled out over the past few all gets dredged up and just spills over. When we get home I stalk to my room and slam the door.

Then one of the girls slips a cup of chamomile tea beside the bed while I'm crying and showering. The other two come in to say they're sorry. And I feel like we can start the timer over. Tick tick tick...

Good night and Merry Christmas. It's time to fill the stockings...and no lumps of coal because they apologized.

Countdown to Christmas

Today I felt like the holidays finally began in earnest.  All three girls home.  And tonight we had a few friends over.  At one point things were really cooking.  My middle daughter walked in after a four hour drive home and felt overwhelmed by the commotion, but I felt awesome--friends and family all together eating and drinking.  Some of our old neighbors stopped by. One of them had his son with him who now has a deep voice and looks eye to eye with me.  The food was great and the Whole Foods eggnog was a hit (why don't they carry that stuff all year round - it is so good!)

I absolutely love to entertain.  My style is to put it all out and tell people to help themselves to whatever they want.  Then I proceed to soak up the conversation and hugs and reminiscing. I especially like it when a few people stay after the others have gone and we can talk about how much fun it was before it's really over!

My youngest daughter had a few friends of her own here and they partied in the back long after the last dish was dry in the kitchen.

I love Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Oriental photograph

I would like your ideas about this photo. I have posted mine in the comments section.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Brian Andreas has a Story People drawing with the following words: "Rules for a successful holiday: 1. Get together with the family 2. Relive old times (tick tick tick) 3. Get out before it blows."

It is very difficult for groups of people, no matter how much they really love each other, to be together for long periods of time when they're not used to it. We tend to revert to our childish behaviors around those who witnessed them and this adds to the drama. I was always labelled bossy by my sibs, and I am bossy at its best when they're around. And they too assume the familiar roles of our past. We expect it of each other no matter how much therapy we've had or time has passed since we were young and part of a group of people who lived in the same house.

One thing that I (as a bossy person preparing to revert when the family gets here) would like to caution: If you get mad at someone in your family, don't go home mad. Do whatever it takes to make things right before you go.

When I was pregnant with my second daughter, my mom called me to come and change sheets in preparation for a visit from one of my sisters. My mom didn't feel well. I, however, was irritated that she wanted me--pregnant with a 1 1/2 year old--to come over. After changing the sheets I stood at the bottom of the steps leading upstairs in her house, looking up at her. She said she wanted to hug us but didn't want us to get sick. I was still mad.

The next morning my brother called to say that my mother had died in the night. I have never gotten over the fact that I was angry with her the last time I saw her. It's been almost 25 years since she died, and I feel weepy right now writing this.

My artist daughter (the one I was pregnant with at the time) having heard this story, made me a tapestry. It shows the legs of someone standing at the top of a set of stairs. On each of the steps, there are things we say to people when we leave: Be sweet, be careful, call me when you get there, I love you. She sewed it with my grandmother's thread that she got when my grandmother died.

Things are not going to always go smoothly during the holidays. We're stressed, the people we deal with are stressed. We come home hoping for a little peace. This Christmas my hope for you is that you and your family spend some quality time together. And if you don't get out before it blows, put out the fire before you go home.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Amazing Grace

I believe if everyone in the world would watch this, we'd all be just fine. Amazing Grace

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Portfolio and the rest of life too

Last night after delaying as long as I could, I drank two cups of regular coffee and put my mind on the portfolio for my writing class. And guess what? When I looked over the list of what needed to be in it, I realized that I already had everything I needed! EVERYTHING! I had done all that worrying about it for NOTHING!

After two cups of coffee, though, I still had a lot of hours left in the night. And I spent them thinking about several things. I thought about my artist daughter who told me that she knows she has everything she needs to create. I thought about the presents I've bought for friends and family and how it feels like just the right amount of giving. I thought about how people and money appeared for my other two daughters, just when they needed them. And I know in my heart that we already have everything we need and we can stop worrying about it and just put it all together so it makes some sense.

As I listened to Christmas music this morning, Pachelbel's Canon in D came on. This is the song I've told my family that I want played at my funeral - George Winston's version in fact - it begins so quietly and crescendos to fullness in the middle and then slows down to quiet again, just like a life does. And I said out loud thank you thank you thank you for the bounty in my life. I kept saying that over and over and I felt that "sad and happy at the same time" feeling I've written about before. It's the season of giving but I got a gift with this realization that the thing I say - "There will always be more than enough" - is really true.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Losing a loved one

This is an excerpt from an interview with Adyashanti by Sy Safransky in the December issue of The Sun.

Safransky: One of your talks on your website is titled “Gift for a Dying Friend.” You make a distinction between expressing our love for someone who’s dying and showing our attachment to them. Is there anything else you would say to someone facing the loss of a loved one?

Adyashanti: Usually, when I meet someone who’s in that situation, they’re trying not to grieve. Maybe they’re trying to transcend grief, or maybe they’re afraid of the enormity of it. So I often encourage them to open to the grief, and I let them know that grief is not unenlightened. It’s a natural way for our systems to cleanse themselves of painful emotions. It’s true we can get stuck in grief. We can become fixated in grief. But more often I find that people don’t open fully to it. When they finally do, what comes up is a tremendous sense of well-being. I don’t mean the grief goes away, but there’s grief and a smile at the same time. It’s just like true love. True love is not all bliss. As my teacher said, true love is bittersweet, like dark chocolate. It almost hurts a little bit. Ultimately all emotions contain their opposite.

When people are in the midst of grief, sometimes, if I think they’re ready for it, I’ll encourage them to think about what’s happened to their loved one: They’re gone. Everything you know about them is gone. Their appearance is gone. Their body is gone. Their mind is gone. Their persona is gone. There is nothing to relate to anymore. It’s all gone. Now, is there anything left? That’s the actual truth of them: what’s still there after a person is gone.

Years ago a woman wrote to me and said her mother was dying of Alzheimer’s, and it was tearing her up. The mother she knew wasn’t there anymore. I wrote her back and said, “Why don’t you sit down next to the bed where your mother is and just reflect on the fact that the person you knew is gone. Her mothering function is gone. The way she used to interact with you is gone. Her personality is gone. It’s all gone. Just sit there for a moment and allow all that to be gone, and see if there’s not anything else. Maybe that wasn’t all there was to your mother.” The woman wrote me back about a week later and said she’d sat next to her mother and let her disappear and thought, Is there anything left? All of a sudden, she knew there was an amazing presence that only took the form of her mother. And she knew that’s what her mother was; that’s what she’d always been. It brought this woman great relief. Then she took it to the next level and thought, If that’s what my mom is, I wonder about me. And she found she wasn’t the person she’d been pretending to be. She was the same presence.

Death is like that: it takes away appearances. It’s OK to grieve the loss of appearances, but it helps to recognize the presence that’s beyond those appearances.

No Class of 2007 at Oriental Christmas Parade

In Step

The past week and a half has been really crazy. Every minute filled with at least two things that needed doing simultaneously, both requiring all my attention. Work and school. Family and friends. Travel and decorating my house for the holiday. I needed to choose from one minute to the next the most demanding thing.

More than a few times during this chaos, I have had to say to myself that people have to come first. My daughters with emotional crises, my sister rejoicing over the "A" on her paper, another sister chiding me for sharing something that should have been kept confidential, friends who needed checking on, my dad and my mother-in-law. I have had to keep my attention on what they are saying and ignore the niggling voices that remind me of my portfolio due, bills to be paid, laundry and dishes. This type of fully executed attention is something I work on. It is something that I think I have been able to improve upon through my spotty practice of meditation--making myself stop what I'm doing and be in the moment.

I have not by any means perfected this. But I'm really really working on being present for those whom I love when they need me, not when it's convenient or when all the chores are done. Now. When they need me. My full attention.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Back to Eat Pray Love:

Gilbert says, "I think you have every right to cherry-pick when it comes to moving your spirit and finding peace in God. I think you are free to search for any metaphor whatsoever which will take you across the worldly divide whenever you need to be transported or comforted. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. It's the history of mankind's search for holiness. If humanity never evolved in its exploration of the divine, a lot of us would still be worshipping golden Egyptian statues of cats. And this evolution of religious thinking does involve a fair bit of cherry-picking. You take whatever works from wherever you can find it, and you keep moving toward the light."

Not everyone's religious cup of tea, but I rejoice every time I read this.