Category Archives: Opinion Piece

Finding Your Unique Voice

August 17, 2013: Our Guest Chiara Wood and “Finding Your Unique Voice”

The Hilltop Women’s Writing Collective is delighted to invite Chiara Wood to lead our fifth workshop of the year,
“Finding Your Unique Voice”
When we write, we speak from something unique to ourselves.  No one else has your “voice”.  Have you found what is unique about it?  Can you project this quality into several different characters?

Join us for this workshop as we learn to recognize and develop our authentic “voice” and throw it into any unique character we wish to create in our stories.

Chiara Wood is A Healing Artist by calling, An Officiate/Ceremonialist for the celebrations, A Social Justice Warrior at heart and a Writer by nature.  She writes as herself at:
She also writes as her nom de plume, published author of spicy romance, Savannah Aries:   Find her as well on FaceBook:  or
and as co-founder of:    The Happiness Initiative Tacoma/Pierce County.
Saturday, August 17,
1310 MLK WAY
Refreshments provided

The Beat Goes On….




The Beat Goes On

The sun comes up and goes down.
We lose our way or we find it…but

The Beat Goes On

We strive and achieve.
We hope and dream.
We fail and we lose…but

The Beat Goes On

What we think or say or do reflects who we are.
We change our minds.
We change our ways or we don’t…but

The Beat Goes On

We live and laugh.
We love or hate.
We wish and lament.
We die or they do…but

The Beat Goes On

We give or take.
We suffer or enjoy.
We weep…but

The Beat Goes On

We judge or praise.
We condemn or ignore.
We criticize or encourage…still

The Beat Goes On

It comes down to perseverance.

It goes on whether we’re saints or terrorists.
It goes on with us or without us…but

The Beat Goes On

Giving Is Good !!!

GIVING IS GOOD !  It improves health, spreads wealth, strengthens bonds and best of all…It’s Contagious!  (from the cover of ODE Magazine December 2011)

And it’s easy!  Today is the last day to feel Good about Doing a Good Thing and get a  2011 Tax Deduction.

Circumstances for so many of us in this Hella Year 2011 may prevent us from donating to all the Doers Of Good Deeds across the globe.  Don’t you wish you could?  I DO!

But  ~hereinthe253~   We can GO LOCAL and support Women (and their children) even in a small way, by donating what we are able to a few of the important organizations providing resources and much needed Help in our community Every Day.  Just $5 to each sends a message to my heart that I care and $5 from Many of Us…Adds Up.  Below are some of my favorites, but my no means All of my favorites.  ~hereinthe253~  we have an amazing number of wonderful non-profits that struggle daily to Help and Provide for our sisters and brothers in need.  And we must remember that…there but for the grace of God go you or I.   Namaste

Catherine Place
a growing movement of hospitality and hope for women

Breast Cancer Resource Center
because no one should have to face breast cancer alone

eliminating racism~empowering women

The Fund For Women and Girls  (TGTCF)
Girl Friend to Girl Friend/Power of The Purse

New Phoebe House
recovery is beautiful

Crystal Judson Family Justice Center
offering hope and safety

Compassionate Blessings for a better way in this New Year 2012

O X Y T O C I N !!!

P  M  S
The Ultimate Antidote?
Oxytocin! *

Pre Menstrual Syndrome…the best antidote?  Oxytocin!

Particularly Meaningful Sadness….the kindest antidote?  Oxytocin!

Protecting Momentous Secrets….the naughty antidote?  Oxytocin!

Patiently Managing Sobriety….the fun antidote?  Oxytocin!

Practiced Mental Stoicism….the lighten-up antidote?  Oxytocin!

Perennial Male Silliness….the perfect antidote?  Oxytocin!

Perpetually Misperceived Stories ….the fools antidote?  Oxytocin!

 Post Menopausal Sanity….the only antidote?  Oxytocin!

* Oxytocin…the hormone, is natural, free, healthy, pleasurable and can be made in the comfort of your own home.  It has been shown to be associated with the ability to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships and psychological boundaries.  It is released during childbirth and lactation as well as during sexual orgasm in both men and women.  It is especially wonderful for women as an antidote to just about anything bugging the hell out of us.  Make sure to get a healthy dose of Oxytocin any way you like…and often.  It’s good for you!

Solo…On The Ledge.

Solo…On The Ledge

Mt. Adams   ~   August 2011

I am alone, and I am not.  Not really. 

That sweet bird perched atop this chartreuse moss covered tree, the one broken clean off by the elements, quite possibly so that I may have an unobstructed view of the distant jagged peaks above the forests below.  That suspicious creature, with her nervous searching glances, peers at me sitting silently on this craggy precipice, where before there was only a warm breeze embracing vistas of magnificent greens and blues, healing colors of nature.

I am certain she is female; she has the ilk of determined multi-tasking energy so familiar to our gender.  Interesting how much time and attention she has afforded me from her less than languid life.  She leaves me.
Today, this morning, I shall be languid for her.  I have the time to move slowly or not at all.  The rare lack of tasks, allowing me to breath in the pleasure of this soothing alpine air, time to listen to soft sounds of insects, the clickety-click cadence of the shrub-hopper’s song sounds like a sprinkler system in some cul de sac far from here.  Even the mosquito’s whine has become harmonious to my ears now that I have ceased resisting them, perhaps my detached expansive demeanor doesn’t emit an attracting scent that favors a landing.

And this tiny curious chipmunk, a highlander of a different stripe, scooting up over the ledge to investigate what was not here before, definitely primal male, surveying, establishing and protecting the perimeter of his domain.  We all belong here, even me a visitor, a stranger from outside this natural circle, as curious to them as they are to me.  Satisfied that I am neither food nor threat.  He leaves me now as well.

I am alone and I am not.  Not really.

My heart longs to satisfy it’s deep desire to embrace, fall in love with and merge with the pine scented breeze, the just right warmth of the sun, the distant snowy peak, the lush verdant greens of these trees dressed in moss garments, the sloping hillside, the pastures and meadows beyond.  Behind me, the stark glacial ice, mirrored in the still pond below, the rocks substantial, patient, comforting in their steady antiquity, clouds leisurely drifting across the sky, subtly changing the hue, the tone, the aperture of the vista.  I love falling in love. 

This solo, a song not so different from my every day journeying in the world.  There can be beauty in every moment; wonder in every breath, serenity is a choice.

I am alone but I am not.  Not really.

I can carry a tune, sing my part in perfect harmony, join the chorus, learn the lyrics or create a new melody.  Or I can sing solo.  My heart decides.  I have the courage to follow my heart.


the rapture,TEN Important Things To Ponder While Waiting For The Rapture

Number 10

Life is sexually transmitted.

Number 9

Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

Number 8

If you are wondering how to please a man just remember this simple rule: men have two emotions Hungry and Horny. If you see him without an erection, either give him a good reason to have one or make him a sandwich.

Number 7

Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to use the Internet and they may not bother you for weeks, months, maybe even years.

Number 6

Some people are like a Slinky…not really good for much of anything but entertainment…so it’s a big smile if they ever flip over backwards for you.

Number 5

Health nuts may one day feel silly when they find themselves lying in the hospital, dying of nothing.

Number 4

All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

Number 3

Why does a slight tax increase cost you many hundreds or thousands of dollars, and a substantial tax cut saves you maybe…thirty?

Number 2

In the 60’s, people took acid to make the world seem weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it seem normal.

And …Number 1?

Life is like a jar of Jalapeno peppers–what you do today, might burn your ass tomorrow.

My personal advice is to stay calm and….

.“Don’t worry about old age–it doesn’t last that long.”

….(especially if you decide to cycle backwards  !!!)….

AND…how I got here.

 AND…How I Got Here.

I once, subscribed to a spiritual training that provided me with many important concepts and leanings, but it was also quite polarizing.  I had already been practicing Polarity Therapy as a healing art for years before it dawned on me what, about that training, didn’t work for me.  From the first introduction to the last disappointment there were resonate and useful learnings, which fueled my curiosity and propelled me to further inquiry, but more often I witnessed and experienced discordant and disenfranchising victimization.  Nuance and shades of grey were deeply frowned upon, but the idea and practice of ‘versus’ was exalted.

The general focus was always on the problem of being human which was thought of as pathological, sick and wrong.  The grand struggle required to overcome this sad reality involved complicated levels of energetic warfare used to eliminate fear while simultaneously instilling it. The lofty goal was nothing less than clearing all pathology blocking one’s ascension.  This was tricky, and didn’t transfer easily to one’s usual social and family situations, which were often thought to be the core of one’s greater problems.  It was a lot of work, a struggle, which we were taught was necessary for enlightenment. Little emphasis was placed on pleasure and enjoyment. I didn’t fully catch the deeper confusing dichotomy inherent in those teachings until I saw them in the rear-view.

Toward the end of that entrenched time, I happened onto another system, with much less complicated, much more fun And engaging methods for overcoming fear And blocks to success, happiness And enlightenment.  This one offered an exciting array of practices that once understood And experienced could be reduced to catchy sound bite phrases that were easy to remember and implement.  It was invigorating, rejuvenating And useful.  Being human was considered delightfully obvious And natural, something to be grateful for.  It was an adventure AND refreshing.  I enjoyed it.

The first was meditative, cerebral, spanning a number of years with me commuting to my closed community before my disenchantment overruled.  The second was complete within a couple years of action packed activities And a changing cast of characters.

The first saw every situation as this or that, good or bad, right or wrong, pass or fail, all or nothing and itself as a service, a savior to all of creation.  The second allowed much more personal leeway And room to explore one’s own version of success And happiness. Enlightenment the delightful byproduct of becoming a better person more equipped to be of service to humanity.

Both banged dents all up in my wallet.

Some time later came the massive download…it was unsought, delivered free of cost AND changed everything. I was driving home from Canada with my daughter, after a thrilling exhausting white water river rafting trip.  We had just crossed the border into the States, when suddenly I had the sensation that both my head AND heart were expanding, exploding, AND at the same time I was completely able to drive as if nothing at all were occurring. As the sensations became more intense, I had no idea what was happening AND I had no fear, I intuitively knew that I was physically fine. I felt a sense of excitement when I suddenly realized that I was downloading a new operating system.  My physicality was highly electrically magnetically charged, vibrating and expanding AND yet my essence, my self was calm, serene, receptive.  As the download continued AND became more intense I was fascinated with all the processes happening at once…driving became a distraction.  We pulled off the road for an ice tea on the patio garden of a bistro.  I couldn’t speak and my daughter knew to simply sit with me.

It took months to be able to coherently articulate what had changed.  I began to call it The AND Operating System.  During the initial download, all the obvious polarizing concepts, words, thought patterns were deleted and replaced with AND.  For instance words like But and Or disappeared, replaced by AND, This or That became This AND That.  The change was good AND changed everything.  As time passed AND I became  accustom to the more subtle aspects of how it worked, I experienced greater ease AND serenity, inclusivity AND reconciliation, more love AND less angst, a broader view AND an acceptance of narrowed certainty, the straight line between poles began forming circles of acceptance.

It no longer matters to me how AND why it happened to me AND what it has led to.

The world continues to spin as it did before AND I see that we are all humans here, having a spiritual experience AND spirits here, having a human experience… correct as it is…integrated in the balance of how it manifests for each of us …AND it’s all good…AND…there is Much More than meets the eye.  Open your eyes And see…Open your hearts AND feel.  Witness the Extraordinary in each expanded moment.  We are all here for a purpose.  We can’t really make a mistake, although some paths are easier, more pleasurable than others.  There is always a chance and a choice to change direction when spirit moves. No Regrets.

Doing Despair

Doing Despair


 Life is pretty good.  Things are better than just Ok.  At least compared to the wretched scenes of natural mass destruction, chaos, war, poverty, political confusion and complicated issues heard nightly in the newscasts.  At least for me and for most the people I know.  At least at the moment.

There are, of course, the good news networks, rags and writings that, in spite of it all, radiate hope and solutions, so necessary to the counterpoint.  And I’m grateful for that.  But I’m not fooled.  Because behind, under or alongside all that appears to be going well, no matter what they say, or I tell myself, there is despair.  The daily deal is how to do it.

That’s my plight and it’s luxurious. Really?  A plight that’s luxurious?  Yes, because I am lucky enough to be spared most of what would send me spiraling into a despair that I can’t climb out of.  So far.  That’s a luxury compared to so many; in Japan, Haiti, Africa, or the barrios and ghettos of the world. I can get around it, put it where it belongs, but I still know it’s there.  I can feel it.  There is just no way to end it, stop it or ignore despair.  It exists.  It’s always just around the bend.

There but for the grace of God, go any of us.  And even with God’s merciful grace overall, no one entirely escapes despair.  People we love become ill, suffer and die.  People we know have terrible things happen to them.  The daily deal is how to do despair while simultaneously doing hope or optimism or even simple acceptance of what essentially IS.

Despair feels like the shadow government of my life.  It works behind the scenes, is exempt from the usual rules, doing what it will when it wants without regard to free will.  I cannot deny this shadow.  I can’t pretend, for long, that it has no hold on me.  I can, however, from time to time, with Very Great Determination, put it in it’s place:  behind me.  Still, the truth is that the most I can do on any given day is position despair beside me.  And I’ll admit I prefer to keep an eye on it, know where it is, what it’s up to, so that it isn’t as able to catch me unawares, roll over me, buckle my knees, or break my heart more than a few times a day.

That’s just how I do despair on a daily basis.  And I am so blessed and grateful to have lived this long and still be able to keep pace.  Today is my birthday and it is a luxury I am not taking for granted.  And I’m happy, because despair has apparently decided to throttle back and allow me a carefree celebration in a sunny paradise, even though I am aware it is still lurking in the shadows.  Thank You.  Stay put.

My Writes

My Writes

“…whatchu know ‘bout my writes?

Whatchu  know ‘bout what’s weak, what’s tight…?”

My Writes from Art Official Intelligence….de la Soul

This is about writing.  I found some old journals.  One from 2001, the other from 2003.  I read them last night and had no qualms whatsoever about tossing them in the trash.  They were written in really lovely books that I probably purchased from T.J. Maxx, but that didn’t’ make them any more palatable. And  I learned something:  When I’ve journaled, it’s only for the angst. Months of happiness go by undocumented, a couple days of despair all sound the same and get recorded like a stutter. Those journals could have been written in 1971, 1981 or 1991…the general theme is always the same, first and foremost pitiful, then optimistic.  The nature of my nature.  First comes the whining, then the inevitable talking myself out of it.  I will never journal again. I write for pleasure now.

I think I actually do love to write.  But I may not have the nature of a true writer.  I’m probably a little too hyper-action oriented with too vast an array of other interests.  I’ve read that writers, by nature, are obsessed with writing. The isolating concept of tapping away on my computer for hours or days, the constant thinking about things to write about, agonizing about how to write them, despairing about how they were written, taking notes of new ideas and sticking them someplace I can find them, living in a waking-life where everything becomes a storyline, even recording crap about things on a walk…I do as well.  I just won’t do it consistently, the way I’ve read that writers must, to actualize their craft.

I have a friend who actually writes for a living.  He says that real writers, are obsessive word geeks, neurotic, narcissistic, who can think only of writing, agonize over writing or not being able to write, are afraid that even if they are consistently writing, they may not be able to do it tomorrow and I’ve met other writers, as well, who seem to adhere to this model.  They’re weird like that, I’m not.  But I really like to write, and when I feel like it, I like to spew.  I don’t really care if anyone else enjoys, can tolerate, or appreciates my spew, although I admit to liking it a lot when someone does.  If I feel like it, I do it and will keep doing it until I don’t feel like it.  Then I stop doing it and do something more interesting.

But I’m writing right now, aren’t I?  And I’m thinking ‘bout My Writes, in a very self-absorbed way, just like a professional writer might.  I have a lot on my mind.  And now that some people know I am writing, like seriously for fun, they are suggesting things I could write about next.  I have my own huge list already.  It’s doubtful I will live long enough to expound upon all the funny and fascinating vignettes and stories and recollections I have salvaged from my day to day.  They elicit a grin just thinking about how rich and interesting every minute continues to be.  But what actually captures my attention, slams my butt into the chair and fingers onto the keyboard to spew, is not something I can usually decide.  It decides itself and then spews of it’s own accord.  I merely become my own editor then.  I have forced discipline, created deadlines, and I found that I can actually do that, but it isn’t the same pleasure of a creative burst.  It can feel more like doing taxes.  I’ll do it though, because writers are supposed to if they are serious and I am seriously interested in having fun writing and becoming a better writer.  My literary hero, Tom Robbins, when asked if he ever gets ‘writer’s block’, shared that he gets up every morning prepared to write.  His muse knows where to find him.  If She doesn’t show, he heads out for a coffee.  I like that.  I can resonate with that.  At this moment I’m focused on what’s weak, what’s tight.

“…we’re flat out classic…separate the real from the plastic…”

FaceBook is an example of both.  That dandy social utility is designed for spewing.  Coffee in the morning, at the FB Café, is just for the pure pleasure of the spew for me.  It’s a spew outlet mall for millions. Witness and celebrate the change mongering, info-sharing, wiki-leak-like transparency and revolutions fueled by The Mighty FB!  Now, I am aware that some of my fellow voyeurs actually read the shit I post, but most ignore it or hide it, and some have even flat out ‘Un-Friended’ me, whereas I tend to be lenient with the spew of others on FaceBook.  If I’m not interested, I scroll on by.  But often I am interested and not only because I am easily entertained.  I have learned a lot from other’s posts. ‘Un-Friending’ seems minimally reactionary, drastic, and radically intolerant, a big unfriendly what-ev.  I don’t really care.  I utilize the utility for my passionate ideological spews.  I do it because I can and I have the right to My Writes.  It’s a true virtual democracy.  Everyone can spew their two cents of graffiti on the wall if they feel like it.  I was once told that because of my tendency to spew my personal bias, I have lost credibility.  Isn’t that hilarious?  With whom?  I answer to myself.  What anyone else thinks is their own business and bias.  That’s the freedom we’re fighting for, that’s the social justice we’re trying to preserve, That’s the freedom to think and express that the oppressed world thirsts for.

“…and I don’t gotta name no names, play no games…

fuck it all up,  take the blame…”

My Writes are my own pleasure.  If other’s enjoy or benefit from them, I’ll pat my own back.  If not, I’ll take the heat.  An idea, once it grabs a passionate hold in my mind, will likely find it’s way out.  I’m just exercising My Writes.  And I now consider myself a writer, my nature adapting to the call, whether I am received or not, because I am writing.  And I won’t stop.

(this spew is starting to sound a lot like a stream of consciousness blog…like maybe The Rumpus.  I admire Stephen Elliott for his unedited deeply personal daily spew.  He recently posted that someone had asked W.H. Auden, “Is it true that you can write only what you know?”  And Auden said, “Yes it is.  But you don’t know what you know until you write it.”  Then Stephen added, “Writing is a process of discovery of what you really do know.  You can’t limit yourself in advance to what you know, because you don’t know everything you know.”  He is a writer and definitely weird, for sure.  But I’m not.)

de la Soul/My Writes:

Speeding Toward A Surprise Ending

Speeding Toward A Surprise Ending



Thinking overly, fantasizing about one’s demise might be considered sick and wrong.  We will, however, all meet our demise at some point, so I feel it’s appropriate to consider it from time to time.  Unless we can overcome it.  And wouldn’t that take a miracle?  That could require becoming an Avatar.  Maybe it might even be a possibility if we aren’t addicted to, or insistent upon, lugging our current form with us.  These are the streams of consciousness one might drift in while, or after, witnessing someone else’s demise. This is a sea of imagination one might bob in when faced with the uncertainties of living.  Well, at least it’s an eddy I’ve found myself swirling around in from time to time and more often lately.

And these are also the kinds thoughts one might indulge in while, or after, watching the Nightly News, with it’s sensational tales of death, destruction and endless demise. For instance; consider earthquakes and tsunamis, this weekend’s magnetic super moon pull on the tides and earth and the fluids in our brains, or the unsavory information regarding HAARP, or the lack of potassium iodide on the shelves here the pacific northwest, which we wouldn’t care about except for the nuclear whiffs coming in from Japan, or the economic meltdown, which is itself a rolling blackout for many all over the world, or another troublesome US meddling in the middle east, or say, an uneasy personal medical report or how about a ‘dreaded’ diagnosis.  I’m talking thoughts about the kinds of things that can change everything at a moment’s notice.

This is the kind of roiling turmoil that might make contemplating a Thelma & Louise moment attractive unless one over thinks the ending.  To contemplate this with any success, you need a car and an ability to embrace a twist of fate or two.   And it helps to have a taste for whiskey.  If one has a really nice car like I do, then one feels more than just slightly remiss and wasteful in imagining it careening off a cliff.  It’s in good shape with low miles and has not taken the road trips that it was meant for at the purchasing.  I have been thinking about cliffs I could careen my car off without scratching it on the way down.  They’re difficult to find in everyday life.  Then there is the issue of the messy and irresponsible carbon footprint of toxic fluids, plastic and metal left in the wreckage at the bottom of the crevasse, not to mention bits of re-usable body parts and spilled plasma.  How could I have anything but remorse about leaving a premeditated ecological anti-ideological legacy like that in my wake?  I can’t.

Still, I like the idea of deciding when and how I might say adios y hasta luego in my own chosen moment rather than some scenarios that I have intimately witnessed in recent times and still others that cross my mind when I watch CNN.  It’s not that I think about all this very often.  But sometimes I do.  Sometimes I like to.  I’ve always been partial to freedom of choice.

I may be more of a Thelma than a Louise, but I have lived a little Louise as well and am not remotely interested in that again.  So what would Thelma do if she’d had more enlightenment, more concern for the common global good, and still planned to careen toward her demise with panache?  Channeling Thelma, weaving certain aspects of her thought processes into mine, provides me with another context in which to give this strange Life and also it’s demise, a fresh look-over. How does Life’s demise look from this beautiful interesting and awkward angle?

Well, because of the issues of the nice car and it’s viable re-sale value, the carbon imprint nuisance, the bit of enlightenment and the issues around the common global good I possess and must contend with, coupled with the fact that I’m not partial to Wild Turkey, I have decided to abandon my Thelma and Louise option of demise and turn my attention instead toward The Never Ending Story. Once over a cliff, it’s over.  Questing, activism and mysteries, even if apocalyptic, appeal to me more.


I may have been fortunate to have inherited a flair for optimism, fascination and amusement from that man who thought he couldn’t die but did, Jack Wood.  Of course, he loved whisky.  And cars.  Driving them fast.  Plus he scoffed at the virtues of organics or the importance of recycling, so I doubt leaving a carbon imprint would have bothered him much.  He lived large but  in the end, boxed himself into a corner in front of a giant TV screen, unable to get to his car, abandoned in the garage. He didn’t leave himself much option to choose his ultimate demise.  But then I guess one way or another, we are all speeding toward a surprise ending.

Keeping Score

Keeping Score

“Take someone who doesn’t keep score,
who’s not looking to be richer, or afraid of losing,
who has not the slightest interest even
in his own personality:  he is free.”




Keeping Score.  We all do it.  None of us are Free.


If we feel we’ve won or lost in any event, we have kept score.  If we’ve paid more or less, we’ve kept score.  If we’ve tried and failed or succeeded, we’ve kept score.  If we’ve given and expected to receive, we’ve kept score.


Keeping Score.  We all do it.  None of us are Free.



Even if we strive to be altruistic, forgiving, unattached, magnanimous, open and sharing, there is always buried, maybe deeply and secretly in our minds or hearts, a score card.  Keeping score has tinges of that nasty word; judgment associated with it.  Keeping Score and judgment have an element of jealousy and emotional charge woven through them.  An assessment, however, a reporting of non passionate fact would not seem to belong in this category of score keeping.  But as we know, now that we dwell in the information saturated world wide web, so called facts can be assembled to look like an assessment and still be tainted with a subliminal scoring mechanism of motive, agenda and influence.


Keeping Score.  We all do it.  None of us are Free.



Today is Super Bowl XLV Sunday.  An American institutionalized day of keeping score.  The build up to this Big Very Important Game is many other kinda important games where everything hinged on The Score.  Even if we don’t give a fig about the Super Bowl, it is almost impossible to Not know who is playing.  Today the glory hinges on The Score between the Steelers and the Packers.  For those who care passionately, it’s a good thing at least for a couple of hours.  There is Hope.  There is the gathering of like minds.  There is celebration.  There is food and drink.  There are the famous commercials and this year there is The Black Eyed Peas !!! at half time  Half time is a good enough reason for caring about the game.  Half time itself, isn’t interested in keeping score.  (but there is a web-link where we can score our favorite half time shows over the years…so we can still stay in the game of scoring if we must)


Keeping Score.  We all do it.  None of us are Free.


Happy Super Bowl XLV Sunday to Us All.

And may The Team with the Highest Score WIN

When You’re Lovers In A Dangerous Time


Don’t the hours get shorter as the day goes by
Sometimes we gotta stop and open our eyes
One minute we’re waiting for the sky to fall
The next minute we’re dazzled by the beauty of it all

When you’re lovers in a dangerous time…

Sometimes we’re made to feel as if our love is a crime
But nothing worth having comes without a fight
Got to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight

By Bruce Cockburn



In these dangerous times, those of us who are lovers have been forced to go against our natures, take a stand, fight to hold our own.  We’d rather love, be lovers of life, lovers of liberty, of the pursuit of happiness and to live in peace and harmony.  We prefer to believe in the idealism of democracy and the unifying ties of all humanity…all living creatures on this small planet floating in space…infinity the only true border.


But these are dangerous times.  Haters have polarized ideals.  Haters fear that there is not enough to go around, have decided that some are not worthy, that diversity is a crime, that love is naïve, that war is a necessary economic, that God takes sides.


In these dangerous times we are all held hostage by insanity.  Even though there is beauty all around us, even though there are people and communities that work tirelessly on the behalf of those in need or for the betterment of all, even though nature relentlessly showers us with just the right everything to keep us breathing in the correct ratio of gases, keeps us anchored with just the right gravity, keeps the sun at just the right distance for optimal life, even though creators dazzle us with innovation and even though there is plenty…more than enough for everyone…many fail to notice or appreciate how exceedingly delicate is the balance.


To be a lover in these dangerous times means that your heart is perpetually broken.  Is it not heartbreaking to learn of the extinction of so many species, the extermination of so many cultures, the unnecessary poverty of so many people, the starvation and disease afflicting so many children, the brutal conditions endured by so many in war infested nations, the chemical chaos spewed into the environment, the abuse of authority by both church and state, as well as the renegade banking systems that have enslaved all of us on this planet in varying degrees?


What does it take to turn the tide?


Rather than waiting for the sky to fall, I prefer continuing to be dazzled by the beauty of it all.  I’m still a lover in these dangerous times.  How does that serve to turn the tide?  Alone, it will not…but there are many of us.  Togetherness turns the tide…one way or the other.  Let’s stay lovers in these dangerous times and assist in turning the tide toward the nurturing and nourishment of all.


My favorite version by Third World:




“See me…feel me…touch me…heal me”

from the rock~opera Tommy by The Who

Touch is an essential component to feeling connected, recognized and loved.  When we shake hands as we are introduced or maybe hug when we meet again, it’s more than habit or custom.  Touching conveys our presence and availability as well as affords us clues and information about the presence and essence of the other. Touch is one of the first things we do when we feel happiness and joy.  We hug, embrace and share.

Touch is one of the first things we do when we recognize pain, in ourselves or others.  Bang an elbow on the corner of the desk and the first thing we do is touch it, hold it, soothe it.  In doing so, our intention is comfort, care, healing.  Sit next to someone in grief and the natural impulse is to extend consolation by an embrace or holding their hand.  The power of loving touch is more impactful than the conveyance of any words

Touch is intimate and is rarely neutral.  When it is intentionally loving and caring it can melt emotional barriers.  When deprived of touch, not only the physical body, but the mental, emotional and spiritual nature of our body reacts.   Studies have shown that babies in orphanages who are not held and cuddled, wither and fail to thrive.  Just this morning I read a report by Dr. Atul Gawande, who has written extensively about solitary confinement, stating that “people experience solitary confinement as even more damaging than physical torture,”

The intention extended through touch, just as the intention through words or any form of communication is what is received.  Everyone has experienced this.  We hear words, but we feel their intention, regardless of their actual meaning.  With touch, feeling the intention behind it either activates our receptivity or alerts our defenses.

In the experience of sexual intimacy, the intention of our touch is how we communicate our love and pleasure.  And, of course, there is the other side of the coin when touch is used to harm.  Everyone experiences this as well and early;  a shove on the playground, a spanking or much worse.  No need to elaborate here on the difference in touch when there is a lack of love tone.

Touch is fundamental to health and wellness. When skin and tissue are stimulated through loving, caring touch or massage, a pharmacy of healing chemicals are released that have health promoting effects and greatly benefit our physiology. In addition to feeling wonderful, a loving healing touch or massage, detoxifies the body’s tissues enhancing immune function and slowing the aging process.

Underlying all touching is communication, intention, the gathering of information, the extending of ourselves, and the receiving of others.   We sense a need to touch, we feel, we heal.  In touching…we are touched.

(visit: for more information on touch and healing.)

My Mother’s Pearls

Those pearls I gave my mom for one of her birthdays were such “an extravagant” gift, she thought they belonged in the red satin box they arrived in.  She would concede to wear them only for very special occasions.


I begged her to wear them every day if she felt like it.  She couldn’t imagine that.  I finally confessed to her that her perception of extravagance was…well…in the case of those pearls…misperceived.  I had a friend, who at that time was a flight attendant, flying to Beijing, with the opportunity to shop at the night market.  She brought back beautiful real pearls and knock-off’s of everything else twice a month.  Mom’s pearls were not the unbelievable extravagance she imagined they were.  I happily bought them for her, and a strand for myself, and earrings, and bracelets and all kinds of things via the Beijing night market.  I liked them, but they didn’t mean that much to me.  They meant luxury and extravagance to mom and they were special.


It took some time, but she was finally convinced to wear her pearls with more regularity.  Then she died.  Suddenly.  She died and it took my siblings and I many many wrenching months to go through her house and decide what to do with her things.  I took the pearls in the red satin box home with me.  I rarely wore my own pearls but I began to wear mom’s.  They never saw the inside of that red satin box again.  I wore them with sweats to work out in, with jeans, in the shower and to bed.  I wore them all the time for months.  I thought of her everyday while I wore her pearls.


Later in that year that she died, I was dressing to meet friends in Seattle for dinner.  It was early winter and bitter cold.  I decided to wear a yellow cashmere sweater my mom always admired, though I never really cared much for it.  But it was cozy and warm and made me think of her so I slipped on the pearls as well.  I loved the way it felt to wear them and I loved to tangle my fingers in them, being a natural born hair twizzler like she was, like my sisters and daughter are.


In the middle of a lively conversation at dinner, I absently reached to twirl mom’s pearls and discovered that they were gone!  I’d never had occasion to unclasp them before because the strand was long enough to slip over my head.  I looked everywhere, retraced all my steps, enlisted my friends in the search.  No pearls anywhere.  I was devastated.  I drove home in tears and shock, my heart broken, feeling almost the same as if I were suddenly losing my mom all over again.  The pearls never turned up.  Eventually, I  accepted that they were gone forever and hoped that whoever found them would wear them every day.  I put my own pearls in the red satin box and never wore them again.


On Christmas Eve two years later, as I was dressing to go to a party, I thought about mom’s pearls and missed her, wished I could wear them and feel her.  I decided I would wear mine and opened the red satin box for the first time in two years.  Empty!  I stared at that box in disbelief and stunned confusion.  The submerged sense of loss that had dissipated with time, welled up inside of me again and I sat on my bed and cried until I was spent.


Finally, resigned, I approached my dresser to retrieve my pearl earrings out of the jumbled tangle of bracelets and necklaces in my jewelry box.  I opened the box and there were my pearls, part of the tangle.  What a relief to slowly realize that I must have simply forgotten that I put them there.  I picked them up to put them on.


Hanging in a loop from my string of pearls were mom’s, clasped in tact, held together, as if they were linked arm and arm, as if they were meant to be together, as if no explanation were necessary.  What could possibly be the explanation for something like that?  I felt my Mama’s sweet presence acutely and my knees buckled.  An extravagant rush of gratitude washed over me, and I began to cry all over again, despair replaced with intense joy and wonder at life’s delicate mysteries.


I wore both strands together that night and the next, the pleasure of them hanging together around my neck and over my heart was delectable.  I never suspected in the midst of the music, feast and toasts, all the gaiety of those holiday parties, that it would be the last Christmas I was to share with my dad and my brother alive.


Life and death are so strange, so bittersweet. Life can seem so temporary and death so final.  But is that really true?  What is real and constant for me is the presence of mystery in them both, the challenge to make some kind of sense of their experiences and stories.  I love that.  I’m wearing my mother’s pearls.

The Blessing of Winter Solstice

The Blessing of Winter Solstice


As the long night slowly yields to day,

We too, yield to our higher nature and move toward

Our natural state of Light.

The winter teaches us to go within and contemplate,

Our inner work,
Our inner abundance,
Our inner completeness.

As we prepare for the outer learning that lies ahead,
We reflect on both the natural and spiritual nature of
What is meant by Eternal Life.

Why do we instinctively feel the pull of introspection in winter; the need to hibernate, examine and assess what is good?  When we take some time to examine what has worked for us, we can’t help but to notice even more; has not.

Each winter, as the days grow shorter and colder and increased demands for our attention the Holidays ahead, I remain cognizant of a need for inner calm.  The year is ending and I notice and remember what has ended in time.

People I have loved and been loved by have passed away or passed on.   Certainties and verities that seemed real and true  seem now shaken, less clear, less confident.  What was, is no more, what is, keeps charging for better or worse.  Where do we find the promised glad tidings of comfort and joy?

First we must delve within acknowledge then release our sorrows, failures, disappointments and mistakes. We make the effort to transcend any thoughts that detract and distract us from our ability to grasp and feel gratitude for the blessings that surely exist for each of us.

In our clan of northern European Scots/Irish/Swedish decent, we gather in the waning light each Winter Solstice for ceremony and celebration.  We perform the ritual of ‘shriving’, an old Scottish word meaning:  release, reconciliation.  We spend some moments of quiet in the midst of festivity, to recollect, contemplate and write privately all that we personally wish to release for the year ending.  We notice deeply how we have been affected, have perhaps affected others, by that which now begs to be released.  We forgive our perceived failings and regrets.  We write rather than simply think these things because we wish to bring our thoughts and vows into present manifestation in order to transform them by fire.  We commit our scribbled slips of paper where we have confessed our personal pain, that which no longer serves us, with appreciation for the learning it brought and release into the hearth fire.

We reflect on the natural and spiritual nature

of what is meant by eternal life.

But, we are a hopeful resilient clan as well.  As we continue, we begin to contemplate what we can bring to the Light in the New year arriving. We light a candle and speak aloud our own prayer, wish, desire, goal or intentions to make manifest and be witnessed within our community of family of friends gathered in love and support of one another.  Each one speaks their heart. It is a high and holy moment to be witnessed and blessed by the ones who love us most.

We yield to our higher nature and move toward

Our natural state of Light.

There is reverence, there is community and there is reveling!  The table is laden with the bounty of our kitchens, joyful toasts to life and love, family and friends and to the future are enjoyed by all.  This is how we ignite the longest night and begin our Christmas Holidays:  with gratitude, hugs and kisses, prayers and festivity that continue all the way through to Epiphany.

And thus, the Old is laid to rest and the New is begun.

God Bless Us One and All and bring us Glad Tidings of Comfort and Joy In This Season of New HOPE!

Do You Want To Make Love Last?

“Do You Want To Make Love Last?  What do you want to do first?”

Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins, local author and personal hero.


It’s a yummy double juicy entendre.  How do we make Love last?  It’s an eternal question.  It’s a question with many simply complicated answers.

First, what constitutes making Love…let alone making it last?  If you want to make Love last, what role does fore play?  Something has to come first if there is a last.  What do we do first to make Love last?

Perhaps we must first decide to believe in Love.  Believe it’s real and valuable.  That it matters.  Not because we are told that it matters.  Not because we are lonely or afraid to be alone, but because we care deeply about someone or something.  That someone could be ourselves, our kin.  That something could be what’s in our heart, our community, our cause.

“Love your neighbor as yourself”.  (Mathew 22:29-Mark 12:31)  It’s the second commandment of Christ.  The first, of course, is Love the All Encompassing Organizing Principle of the Universe we call God.  Then Love someone else as much as you Love yourself.  Love yourself first, though.  Enough.  As much as you can.  If you can.  You can’t make Love last if you aren’t able to do what’s required first.

“Love never ends.”  (1st Corinthians 13).  It’s biblical.  It’s epic.  It’s metaphysical.  It’s a concept.  It might not be true.  Or maybe it is true that love never ends if you have ever, in fact or indeed, truly Loved.  Maybe what’s left of Love that seems to have ended is the memory of it buried deep beneath the rubble of abandonment, rejection, neglect, apathy, change of heart, change of circumstance or even something horrific like abuse.

I once imagined that if I ever Love someone, I always will.  I won’t quit.  It can never end.  That might not be true. Or maybe it is true if I have, in fact or indeed, truly Loved.  Maybe I only thought that I Loved and if pressed would be forced to admit that I was mostly addicted to the thought of Loving.  But if, for instance, I was seriously unloved, the opposite-of-loved in return, then I must not have Loved myself much.  I didn’t remember to do the first thing.  I didn’t Love myself enough to honor myself over un-love. This is an attempt to make sense of making Love…first and last. It’s an exercise.  It’s a process.  Quite possibly futile.

Un-love is not the same as unrequited Love.  I am not making this up.  Unrequited Love is heart wrenching, even common, but it’s not un-love. We can’t try to Love any more than we can try to be happy, try to meditate or try to believe in God.  Love just is.  We can’t make it happen and we can’t make it not happen when it does.  When it does happen as we wish it’s grand.  When it isn’t returned as we wish, no amount of trying or cajoling or begging or manipulation will make it be what it isn’t.  We could take it personally, but it isn’t personal.  Not really.  It is what it is.  We still Love whether returned or not.

Un-love though, the opposite of love, is intentional.  We decide it.  We make it happen. We go against Love.  We break the Law.  We harm and are harmed by un-love.  We don’t do the first thing.  We don’t love ourselves.  When we un-love someone or something, there’s just no way we can make Love last.

Let’s make Love not un-love.  Let’s make Love not war.

Let’s make Love first so that Love can last.

When I Was Montana Skye

Back in this day… my Billy Kid Stetson…those Tony Llama boots you don’t see…my .357 magnum…none of which I have today, I learned to shoot straight (cans off a stump) and I called myself Montana Skye.

I had felt most all my life that I was misfitted, had been born into the wrong times.  I was an outlaw at heart then, a contractor by trade.  I lived dangerously although viewed in retrospect, foolishly.  I experienced the thrills of life on the edge…was alert, felt alive and free and I was kick-ass.  Apparently, I needed to learn some harsh lessons. To this day, I could regret that, but except for the inadvertent difficult impact on others, I don’t.

One night, I had to decide if I could pull the trigger on this gun to protect myself, my children, my home. I had to decide if, in fact, I could know for certain that I would shoot without hesitation if I was forced to. I understood that my slightest doubt would jeopardize the outcome.  As devastatingly rich in angst and terror as that night was, I learned something immensely valuable about myself:  I can and will do what I need to do…what I choose to do.   Agonizing over the difficult choice is where the angst lives.  Holding steady… shooting straight once the decision is made is my act of power.

I am not so outwardly lawless now.  These days my outlandishness runs to the deep and within. I still have this portrait hanging in my home office and although these days I much prefer to wear dresses, here’s why it still reflects me:  the inscription reads

“Never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for truth and justice“.       Henrik Ibsen.

I still go out to fight for truth and justice…and I still don’t wear my best trousers when I do.  Instead I only wear my very best most beautiful dresses for the good fight.


Pay Attention!

Do you have ADD or EAA?

(Attention Deficit Disorder or Enhanced Attention Abilities)

“The world is so full of a number of things I’m sure we should all be

as happy as kings.”     Robert Lewis Stevenson

But we aren’t, are we.  The world is so full of so many things that we can’t keep up with it…can’t get a grasp on it…can’t assimilate it…can’t deal with it…can’t sort out what to pay attention to…what should be first…what’s most important.

Ask someone of a certain age, like me for instance, who after having my children diagnosed with the curse of ADD, was told that it was because their parents both had ADD.  We all have ADD.  But who doesn’t?  How can we not, in this information-saturated world we inhabit now?

The kids couldn’t sit still in school.  It was recommended by the teachers that they be medicated so they would fit in and not flit about or play too much, which was deemed highly disrupting to their ability to learn.  They were bothersome.  They were also brilliant and creative, loved to laugh and move their bodies.  They enjoyed life.

But then we discovered we were all ADD.  We had a problem.  Problems inherently need to be fixed and I looked for palatable methods of going about that.  But fixing this problem spawned an unprecedented plethora of more problems.  Labels and categories were invented.  Now we had more than just ADD to deal with, we also had ADHD.  We had drug pushers.  We had time outs.  We had punishments.

We tried everything because at school we had problems.  But the problems created by fixing the problem became even more problematic.  Soon each kid, along the way, began to Not feel brilliant.  Their creativity was criticized and unappreciated. They colored outside the lines with the wrong colors.  Their streams of consciousness burst beyond the boundaries of proper paragraphs.  Tapping their toes as they hummed songs of their own creation to help them concentrate was deemed incompatible with the rules of acceptable concentration habits.

It didn’t take long for each of my kids, being precious, unique and astounding in their own way, to rebel…in their own way.  None would cooperate with taking the ADD medications.  They said they didn’t recognize themselves.  They said they felt funny.  They said they didn’t feel right.  Behavioral modifications were primitive, punishing and exhausting to implement in those earlier days before medications became the easier to implement norm.

Soon those kids, and now their parents, were not laughing much.  Problems have a way of extinguishing laughter and the expression of joy.  Number one dropped out of the mainstream.  Number two raged against the machine.  Number three saw the retaliations the first two experienced and confessed to nothing but sports.  By the time number four came along and was ‘diagnosed’, there was an extensive battery of tests that sub-categorized the ADD into twenty new areas of disability to name and label.

We were told our lives were ruined because we are…not have… but are… ADD.  Now it’s late and we have ADD grandchildren.  We may not be able to save them from the archaic educational model they are still stuck in.  But I am now strongly suggesting to my darlings that by changing the ADD acronym they’ve been assigned and imprisoned with, to my more accepting and pleasurable EAA, they can adopt a more enjoyable and expansive relationship to education as a lifelong learning adventure…in spite of what they’ve endured in the past.

Our brains are incredible.  Our brains are fantastic.  Our brains are not the problem.  In fact, instead of sinking into the self-admonishing world of problems associated with ADD, we can choose to celebrate a life-affirming world of possibilities associated with being EAA.  Technology is catching up with us, not the reverse.  We can learn the way we need to learn.  There’s an app for that.  We can learn the way we want to.  We have the technology.  Instead of dropping out because we don’t fit in, we can learn to love this world.wide.web.  We can all find a place to fit in somewhere.  Your tribe is either already gathered, or is waiting for your call…your own uniquely expressed invitation.

Find your best place with your own Enhanced Attention Ability.  Put some fun in your former dis-fun-ction.

Live Love Laugh and be Happy!  I am convinced this is the way to be ready for the great big changes still coming.

Sweetness Out Of Difficulty

Sweetness Out Of Difficulty

“dulcius ex espiris”

The Latin expression “dulcius ex espiris”, which means sweetness out of difficulty, suggests a different outcome and meaning from relief after difficulty or character building after difficulty. It lends a softer, gentler, kinder result to the depiction of a difficult and challenging experience.  Rather than placing a focus on getting through a problem in tact or succeeding in spite of every obstacle, the texture and nuance of “dulcius ex expiris” feels more like a soothing harmonious possibility that would not have occurred without the difficulty.


Our perceptions flavor and edify our experiences to such a degree that they can become captive within our memories.  Besides relief or character building, sometimes we can feel as though we have made a terrible irrevocable error and are forever after prisoners, our memory of the difficulty a self-imposed sentence.


How do we wish to experience our lives and how do we wish to catalog or label our experiences?  Pleasant, loving, satisfying moments have a silky easy way of weaving themselves into our memories.  Difficult, excruciating, humiliating experiences are like a sliver festering in our foot.  A bandage doesn’t ease the pain of a step in any direction, forward or in retreat.


We have choices if only we can discern them.  We can change our perceptions if only we realize we have custody of them.  We can decide to seek the sweetness in the aftermath and this can take some time.  The retro-vision we direct toward our experiences allows us to take all the time we need.  Whatever the experience, it has no meaning at all until we ourselves subscribe to it.  Even if we have immediately attached a meaning or category or decree to our difficulty, we can change our minds and reassign our attachment to it.


I use Alchemy to do this for myself.  Alchemy is a free, simple, effortless energetic intention that can release us from our attachment to the meaning we have assigned to the difficult outcome.  Alchemy’s effect can be felt mentally and emotionally, physically and spiritually.  Anyone can produce “dulcius ex espiris”.  It takes no skill or prior training.  We can change an entrenched concept into something else; from bitter to sweet, from distress to hope.  That’s alchemy.


Here’s what I do.  I get quiet, I hold still.  I find my center and grounding and feel it without tension or effort.  I just do it, allow it, wait for it till I’m there.  Next I call upon the highest aspect of myself and also the highest aspect of the person or circumstance associated with the difficult situation.  Once I feel attuned, I take a deep breath and say aloud or silently send a prayer of offering.  It might be something as simple as:  I wish for you all that you wish for yourself.  I also wish this for myself.  I give you back your power and I also take back my power.  I release you and I also release myself with love and blessing.  So be it. Often I have a more specific and detailed idea of what I wish to express and offer to the process.  It’s all good.


When we are in the depths of despair or anguish, something as simple as this process may sound false or even ridiculous.  Still the intention is for circular healing.  It can happen all at once or it can require a more sustained intention. It’s proactive, it’s self-actualizing, it’s a step forward after dabbing some bubbling peroxide on that festering foot.  It’s a move from prison to the hospital. I say this prayer for 21 days.  It’s a good number. It’s sweet. It’s maintenance.


I Wish For You All That You Wish For Yourself.  Blessed Be.