My daughter stands at the cooktop carefully considering the frozen dumplings she is cooking.

She lamented that she is not old enough to cook. I disagreed. 12 is old enough to do so many things. I let her use the gas stove. Fire.

I think about how scary it is actually to let them become grown, independent, self reliant.

My son comes home from college tomorrow. I will breathe easier when he is here back under my roof and I can try to assess his state of being. Not that I think I can undo anything he may have chosen out there on his own. I know that, but it does worry me, it stirs my fear.

We want to keep our kids safe, but we can’t if we want them to know freedom.

Freedom is not safe. Freedom is risky. Freedom is dangerous.

It is reasonable to steer them away from recklessness, but I even wonder about that.

When does our pursuit of safety become oppression?

Where is that line?

I say I want freedom. Am I willing to give it as well?


I realize that my writing these days may come across as bleak, a downer, brooding. It may even bring to mind a descriptor I truly dislike, “pity party”.

I am finally at a place in my life where I can say, maybe it is, so fucking what.

I am going through a cavernous depression. I use the word cavernous because it closely describes the feeling for me. Hollowed out, cold, lonely, pulled away, withdrawing.

It is not that I am devoid of happiness, or contentment, or gratitude, but right now other things are prevalent, needing my attention.

Sadness, grief, uncertainty, loss, transition. These bring me to the cavern, the dug out place, a temple of heartache.

This temple is not unholy, quite the opposite. It offers great and sacred riches. But we can’t unearth them when no one will come help tend the fire. It is too painful to stay the vigil alone.

I am not suggesting we languish there.

I am suggesting we do not defile or defame these states of being and run away never looking back, or even looking at all.

Take the time to look. To be curious. To be there. To know that place. Light a fire, gather your people and tell the stories that live there. Write your name on her wall. Give her some respect.

It isn’t that I don’t want to talk about happiness. It is that I do not want to make happiness into cheap fodder, the bland currency of life, the common, basic, drivel.

Happiness, and not just happiness, but joy, ecstacy, jubilation, along with sorrow, grief, despair, all the depth and nuance of human experience, deserves better than that.


What is real?

I am deep in daily inquiry around that question.

I look around and witness people living in different realities, seemingly different worlds. They engage in fierce battles over “what is real”. I participate sometimes.

I fight within myself over what is real.
Every. Single. Day.

I confront fear, anxiety, depression, all the dark corner phantoms. They insist on their power, their realness. I tell them they are not real. Sometimes I win, and they retreat at those words, a banishing incantation.

They come back.

Are things that we can’t catch hold of real or unreal? Truth or untruth?

I go out in the woods and down to the river. That is the realest real there is. The dirt, the water, the trees, the sky. The wordless depths of nature. Life, death. The pure struck note of beingness.

When I am back in civilization and all the questions come flooding back. I try to remember that right now the trees are there, the river is flowing, things are living and dying, coming and going, and that pure note is being struck.

I am here, and someday I will be gone.

That is real.


There is a yogic practice called tapas. It is the practice of discipline or zeal in practice. It is a principle of fire and will.

There is another practice called santosha. It is the practice of contentment. It is of the qualities of surrender and faith.

I make lists for myself. Things I need to attend to, or wish to accomplish.

I write my lists on paper, old school.

I check the items off one at a time as I get things done.

My lists are not lofty or shooting for the stars. They are deeply ordinary for the most part.

Household chores
Appointments made and to be made
Emails to send
School functions
Things to look into for myself
Plan a class or for classes to come
Organize this and that…

These lists are a form of yoga practice. They keep me disciplined and moving forward even, and especially, when I want to waste away on the couch.

When I get a list done I feel that state of contentment.

Maybe this does not sound transcendent or even transformational.

It probably does not occur as a profound or highly evolved path.

It is a simple practice. It is chop wood and carry water. It is a way to hold things up and care for myself and those who rely upon me.

In that sense it is powerful, potent, and more than enough.


I see the starlings nearly every day right now.

They appear at the tree line, flying together, in formation. This is called a murmuration.

The other day Harper and I stood outside with the dogs at sunset in complete wonderment as they filled the sky above us for at least twenty minutes. Thousands upon thousands of them swooping and soaring through the darkening sky.

I am struggling with loneliness.

I have lived in my new town for six months and have only one friend anywhere nearby.

I think about friends who have come and gone.

We always say we will keep in touch. But I am not good at that and I seem to choose friends who are like me.

Birds of a feather flock together.

But now I am a flock of one.

I am out running and the starlings fly overhead. I think of running pals I have had over the years.

I used to run with a group. We were a flock, but I moved away. They moved on.

Then in my next town I had a single running friend, so dear, like a sister.

I moved away. Far away, across the world, but we held on to each other.

I found out I would be coming back, we were so excited and had big plans, but she was also very sick.

I am back, but not living in that town and she passed almost a year ago now.

I was out running alone yesterday and the starlings appeared in their numbers, staying together so magically, a mystical dance. Such grace.

I couldn’t hold back the grief and heartache of my solitude.

I stood in the street and cried.


Living with trauma.

Wounds that stay tender.

Sometimes they split open even after many years.

They bleed.

I am not exceptional in this experience. It is common, though extremely diverse. We all share this wounded way of living in some way, or I feel we do.

I am only exceptional perhaps in my willingness to give it a voice, publically, unapologetically. I am not the only one doing that, but we are not the norm.

To stay with our pain with tenderness and compassion is to be split open. It is deep acknowledment of a rich and sacred part of being human.

This is not wallowing or reistance to healing. This is being together in honesty. This is being real. This is the healing, to stay with each other and hold each other as we bleed.

May we not be split apart, but split open, just as seeds split so they can grow. May we stay and grow these hearts again and again, together.


As a matter of our culture in general, but especially this time of year I feel something needs to be said firmly and clearly.

Sadness is not a character flaw.
Grief is not a character flaw.
Loneliness is not a character flaw.
Living outside traditions is not a character flaw.
Having painful stories and life histories during this time is not a character flaw.

Having a full spectrum of emotions and claiming the right to your own experience, even when it seems to be one that leaves you apart and in the wilderness is not a flaw. It is beautiful. I am out here with you.


We are busy preparing for the holiday.

We are hosting family and a friend of Avery’s from Taiwan. It will be a full and noisy house, unlike the quiet I have been immersed in these days.

We are decorating all out, lights, wreath, garland, a huge tree we went and cut down at a family farm, buckets of ornaments old and new.

Santa is figuring heavily throughout.

Stockings are hung over the fireplace.

Preparing to gather is bringing me a warmth that softens my resistance to the increasing cold outside, and the deep feeling of loss and loneliness which I am walking with.

Deck the halls, hold my hand.

My heart lightens.


A teacher told me there are really only two prayers, “help me, help me, help me” , and “thank you, thank you, thank you”.

I know those prayers. I say them often. Mostly together, both, not one or the other.

Sometimes I hold them pressed gently together between my hands, drawn to my heart. Soft hum of breath. I feel them echoing in me like ripples of waves, gentle wind. Steady but moving, shifting things in me. Tender but powerful.

Other times I grasp them in fists and launch them toward heaven. I stomp them into the earth. I howl and scream. Then they are like tempest gales, seismic waves.

But there are other prayers in me that live outside the bounds of language. I feel them in my bones, deep in the center of my heart and lungs, flowing in my veins, river of my spine. Prayers of embodiment, of nature and knowing. Ancient, wordless. They need no response. They are the answer.


I am a misfit.

I always loved the island of misfit toys on the Rudolph Christmas special. I belong to that place, those kinds of beings.

I sometimes feel like I belong. With my husband and kids, in certain rooms with certain people…I mostly belong to nature.

I have always felt safe, protected, and held out in fields and forests. I don’t have to be anyone to belong there.

I love people, but I usually feel askew and awkward with them. I feel like I have to hide, perform, wear my mask.

Outside, no mask, no performance.

I wish I could make my island of misfits.
I know there are others like me. I love you and us. I love the way we are the splash of color, the interesting angle, the what if of everything.

We belong.