Thursday, June 30, 2011

Change and loss seem to be my theme lately. This week some one, I want to say "greedy developer" but I really don't know, is teaing down the lovely little stone house next to my office to replace it with who knows what. I love that little house. I used to get my hair cut there, then the salon moved and the house was a high class fabric store for years. It hurts me to see it just knocked down, such a lovely little house, nothing wrong with it. I think somebody just expects to be able to make more money by putting something different on the land. Stepping out of the office and seeing the house become rubble physically hurts.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My friend Diane is very ill. She is a woman of great energy and courage who has lived her life with passion and integrity. I love her dearly and want to share here a poem she wrote which reflects the way she faces life.

No Umbrellas
The rain runs down my face
like mascara on a hot day, melts
on my arms like warm mayonnaise,
dampens my clothes as if it came
from an old-fashioned laundry
bottle with a sprinkle top, dispenses
water to iron my wrinkled clothes.

It matters not where I am
or was, walking barefoot
through puddles and creeks
with my best friend beside me,
swimming in a lake, exploring
a city I've never seen, half a
world away, anywhere.

When I came from a rainy climate
I said that was why, but later said
the same when the new climate was
dry, tropical, marine, desert, arctic.
It matters not. Life remains equal.
Nothing protects, nothing shields.
My choice. Rain. Life. The same.

When the rain comes
I have nothing to deflect it,
no urge to escape to an inside
room, no feelings of coldness
or dampness, no fear of what
might escort it, nothing at all.
No umbrellas for pouring rain.

Diane Truswell

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

lazy night after demanding work day. Bob and I are sitting on the couch watching the championship game of the College Word Series. I've been knitting and writing and he's been scanning pictures of our life together, more than twenty years now, into the computer. It doesn't seem that long, nearly. I feel sad seeing all the pictures of our daughters at different stages in their lives, growing and changing. It is so weird that Ruth and Joanna were both younger than KK is now when Bob and I married, and of course we have pictures of KK younger than Andrea and Liam are now. I remember my mother saying when she was about the age I am now that she was shocked when she looked in the mirror because she felt like the same self she had always been and didn't recognise the "old woman" in the mirror as herself. I don't feel that so much about the mirror, but looking at the pictures as evidence of time behind me makes me melancholy. They are also treasured memories of lovely adventures and milestones.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I went to a party Saturday and talked with a friend who has been living in Singapore, on the equator. he talked aboutthe days and nights being the same length all years around. And of course, DUH!, the yare at the equator. i realized how I just don't think about that, think of winter and summer solstice as having an intrinsic spiritual meaning. I am a creature limited by my experience, always stretching to see from other perspectives.

Friday, June 24, 2011

tosay, nature reinforced a lesson I've learned many times. Bob and I had a lovely afternoon, after playing joyfully in he Gulf of Mexico, birding various ponds, marshes and parks in the Gulf region. As we walked down the board walk out of the Aransas Birding Center in the marshland, both of us spotted an unusual bird perched very still in a near tree. It had a streaky breast, but sort of resembled a grackle. Bob spent maybe ten minutes looking in his bird book for streaky grackle look alikes. Nothing! Then the bird began sqwauking noisily and a mama grackle flewup and fed it. WE were seeing a baby bird, mama bird interaction, something I rarely see. Now in Texas, the grackle is a very common bird even in town, common enough to be pesty, also very raucous. But today this common bird gave me an extraordinary natural history lesson. So the spiritual lesson benieath the natural lesson seems to be: You can't predict who your techers will be and the magical, or at least surprise, can spring up when you least expect it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

This is a vacation post, written looking down on the River Walk and up at the towers of downtown San Antonio from the condo on the river where we stay one week a year. It was fun this year to introduce Liam and Andrea (both two now) to this sweet little place as their "vacation home." It's always odd for me, coming here as a comfortable vacationer to remember that the Salvation Army facility where I was born to a scared, unwed mother was very near the location of our condo building. When I walk down the block to get root beer for the grandkids from Walgreens I imagine my birth mother walking cold in December into that shelter, about to give birth to a baby she knew she wouldn't know. It was three days before Christmas. I hope Christmas isn't hard for her still. I also look at the parked cars along the streets and remember the story about how I, wrapped in too many blankets, was hand delivered to my adoptive parents in their car. Daddy opened the blanket, saw my red hair, and said "We hit the jackpot!" I scared my parents by screaming all the way back to Austin, where they took me straight to a pediatrician who pronounced me overheated. They removed several of the blankets and I calmed right down.
That story has always rooted me in my coming into the family in which I grew up. Being here on this street takes the roots back a step, to my actual birth and the emotions of the parents who felt unable to raise me. Life really does come full circle.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bob asked me on our full moon walk tonight how the moon connected to spirit for me, and a piece fell in I've never quite seen before. Every hour of every night, from wherever I am, the moon looks different. What I see is never the same from moment to moment. My image of the moon depends on where I am and conditions around me. The moon, however, remains constant, regardless of how I see it, even whether I can see it at all. That is equally true, I believe, of the divine.
Recent days have brought difficult health news for a number of people I know, close friends and family and also others at the edge of my circle. This is the time of year Kerry's cancer suddenly worsened twenty five years ago, leading to his death on July 7. This is the time of year I really got how closely death and life walk side by side. As high summer, summer solstice approaches The energies of the earth gather. Around here all the wild plants are going from flower to seed as Liam and I discovered on our walk yesterday. The days are still getting longer, soon to start getting shorter. All our own days are getting shorter already, though we can't know the number. It is comforting this morning to think about the seeds that all of us have already planted with our lives, consciouswly and unconsciously. Living is legacy and dying can't wipe it out. The new plants are already coming up and will continue long after we are gone. Some of them are weeds, from seeds we wish we'd never sown. I except that for myself. Some seeds I sowed out of ego or just ignorance and I cry over the plants that have grown from those, do what I can to reduce the effects of those plantings. This morning though I'm thinking about the seeds which others have planted, and me too, which produce bright flowers, shade trees, trail markers for those who follow. SOme level of immortality is inevitable, and that comforts me.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Eintstein's definition of religion suits me. This is what he says religion is.

“A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty. It is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude. In this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man. I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. Enough for me, the mystery of the eternity of life and the inkling of the marvelous structure of reality, together with the single hearted endeavor to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature.”

Friday, June 10, 2011

Someone stole my wallet out of my purse in my office right in the middle of the office day today - shocks me, both the boldness and the desparation and/or selfishness. I don't have alot of emotion about this. I still think most people are trustworthy most of the time, but I will not keep cash in my wallet at work anymore, just in case. I mourn the loss of that bit of trust. I want to live in the world as if people can be trusted and mostly I do, don't like to feel I have to protect mself or my belongings, but I will.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

I'm still thinking about time and change. This theme may be a bit of a broken record for a while. Does anyone remember records? A few months ago I was sorting through old letters for scrapbooking. I have stacks from decades ago, sent and received. my daughter said something about people today not having the art of writing letters like that, full of the details and feelings of daily life, chronicled fo friends and family. I countered that I thought the art was much revived with Facebook and even email. People write all the time about their lives, even more than I used to on paper. But she countered that on Facebook people mostly write about the PRESENT - what is happening right now, that they don't take the time to compile a story of the last few days or weeks, a summary. I had not noticed that before our conversation, but now I do notice it, and for the most part she is right. I don't know what it means, this anchoring of communication in the present. I've heard that people who use text messages heavily also stay very much in the present much of the time. Is it more mindful to stay in the now? It confuses me and creates a sense of vague unease, as if something nameless is being lost. I know I'll continue to write letters (and I still think of them as letters even if they are transmitted electronically) that talk about the recent past, not just the present moment.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I'm back to thinking about time. A young friend wrote a poem about time in which he described it as "friend to none." I'm not sure I feel that way. We talked a little about the topic and he asked me if I thought death was good, if I looked forward to it. I realized that this is not true. I enjoy life and take seriously the responsibilities it offers. I'm not sure what will come with death, but feel that it is not an end. I can't know that, but I feel like I know it, which is odd. I think death is neutral. It just is. It comes on it's own terms. I don't think time and death degrade all things, just that they change all things.

Monday, June 06, 2011

I think I'm removing the word "deserve" from my vocabulary. It's confused me for a long time and now I realize it just doesn't fit in my world view. People say "I didn't deserve to get sick." or to have some other terrible thing happen. They say "You deserve good health now." It just doesn't make sense to me. In human contracts fairness, and I guess deserving, make sense. If I promise to pay you ten dollars for a taxi ride I deserve for you to take me where you said you would in a reasonable, safe and polite way and you deserve your ten dollars and maybe a tip if that is customary. In that context I get the concepts of fairness and deserving. But not in cosmic terms. No one deserves cancer, to be hit by a bomb or a tornado in her sleep, to see her baby die of a bee sting allergy. No one deserves to be beaten, starved, or for that matter coddled like a princess. I think we make ourselves sick and resentful worrying about undeserved ills or the absence of good things we believe we deserve. I think we falsely set ourselves up as "better than" people who struggle or have illnesses or other problems because we believe we somehow deserve our better fortune and them their worse. I think the concept of deserving separates us from others and from our own humanness. Bad things happen. Amazing, wonderfulthings happen. I don't think there is a reason in a cosmic way either way. I mean I believe our behavior influences things like whether people like and respect us and how strong our marriages are. I don't believe trying harder, playing by the rules have the power to guarantee happy endings. Meaning is something we have to give our lives, not something scripted. Given my circumstances, as long as my mind and body cooperate, I can and do give meanings to everything that has happened. It's from that meaning that my life can make sense to me, not some kind of preformed sense of deserving.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

This morning I'm thinking about time, age, and change. I flew into Austin to live when I was 18, flew into Mueller Airport. I don't thinnk I knew I would stay my whole life, but I considered that really possible. My parents had gone to college in Austin, married and worked here early on, and talked about it always like the paradise on earth they always wanted to return to and wished California job hadn't tempted them to leave. I think when I imagined staying I had no idea how much a city could change in forty three years. Probably I have changed as much as the city, but that's harder to see because I know I am the same at core. I don't know if that's true of the city, but imagine it might well be. The University of Texas is still here, the Texas capital, the sense of being a progressive city in a conservative state, the more casual dress and the live music. But so much has changed.

The change was beautifully and powerfully hammered home on Wednesday when Bob took me to see a gorgeous new park and planned community on the grounds of old Mueller Airport, which was replaced by Bergstrem (a military air base not only when I came to town but when my daughters visited it on kindergarten field trips). The park is great, magnificently planned, even uses an old hanger as a stage for events. It features native plants skillfully arranged around a lovely largish pond with water features, a creative play scape Liam has already enjoyed, a beautiful communal fire pit and much more I coouldn't even take in on one short visit. It is a haven for wild birds of many kinds already and offered us views of baby pied billed grebes (my first) and my closest view ever of a glorious yellow crowned night heron in full breeding plumage. It is also a haven for the wonderfully ethnically and culturally diverse community Austin has become. I saw people of so many ethnicities, heard more languages than I could count in the heavily used park. I love what is there now at Mueller.

I also miss what is not there - the airport where I ventured into my adult life in lavender polyester minidress, having written poetry on napkins all the way from California, the airport Jeannie borrowed a colleg e friend's car to drive out to on restless spring nights so we could watch the planes take off, the airport where, at twenty, I flew into Kerry's (almost 25 years dead) waiting arms exactly like the heroine in a chick flick, with just the same kind of abandon and joy, the airport from which we proudly and nervously took our babies on their first plane trips to California to visit my parents (both a decade dead now). I look at the picture of Kerry's mother (two decades dead) looking out the airport window with two year old Joanna, both of them delighted, and that time and place seem as real as yesterday. I remember the first time I met Bob at the airport when he returned from a business trip, woman not girl, but so happy to have the love that allowed me to fly into the arms of another good man.

The old airport is not there. Obviously the memories remain.
Someday the glorious new park will not be there, or will be changed, and the young people I saw falling in love and playing with their families there will no longer be young and will have their memories.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

I promised to be back and am managing it sooner than I promised, which feels hopeful. KK's eighth grade math teacher gave the kids a non math assignment at the end of the year, a character exercise. He listed five traits that he believes contribute to character and asked the kids to list three ways that they show each of the traits. It seems like a good exercise for adults too and I would adore it if some of you responded in comments. If three examples seems like too much, just list one or two. Here are the characteristics and my responses.


I show leadership when I run my practice in a controversial way regarding fees because I believe it is ethical and help younger therapists learn to do the same.

I show leadership when I refuse to condone against, sexist, or racist jokes in my present, or to participate in the kind of "you know how men are" games women tend to play when alone together.

I show leadership when I model admitting that I am being defensive, apologize quickly when wrong, and make every effort to change my ways.


I show concern when I check in on a regular basis with people I know are having a hard time.

I show concern when I write letters for social justice for Amnesty International.

I show concern when I listen to the concerns of friends and family and abide.


I show courage when I go out into the world on a regular basis and shop, make appointments, make phone calls, deal with details even when I am very anxious and would rather hide.

I show courage when I share my views on issues close to my heart with people I respect who might not agree with me.

I show courage when I set strong boundaries with my grand daughter, even if it makes her mad.


I show curiosity when I get library books full of new knitting stitches and patterns and try them.

I show curiosity when I read poetry sites on the web and try new forms.

I show curiosity when I ask people about their lives and listen well, drawing them out and cherishing their stories.


I show integrity when I tell the truth about what I've spent, what I feel, what I need or want even though I believe I will invite disaproval or disappointment.

I show integrity when I keep the spiritual practices I choose to keep (Sabbath, Kosher, meditation time) even when it isn't convenient for me or ohters.

I show integrity when I refuse to gossip, even if I want to.

I hope some of you will respond to any extent to this exercise, which I found truly useful.

If I don't start writing here again I just won't, and that seems wrong. I like having this record of the last few years, and I want to have a comparable record of the next few years. I have thoughts and feelings to write about, but have had trouble mustering the confidence, energy, and discipline to write them. It's time for some renewal in those departments. That is enough for tonight. There will be more tomorrow.