My hope is to offer encouragement to writers as well as those who simply love to read. You will find eclectic snippets here—news of projects I’m working on, comments regarding books I enjoy, favorite authors, quotes, and reflections regarding my own experiences. I especially like to write about my dreams—those parables in the night seasons. Symbols and metaphors delight and intrigue me. You will find them here.
When I lived right outside of Los Angeles, decades ago, I drove to Hollywood in search of Lucille Ball's house. I bought a map of where the movie stars lived intent on finding "Lucy's house." The winter day was warm, as the sun shines almost year round in Southern California. I found her street easily, and parked my brown Camaro across the street from Ms. Ball's home. I actually fantasized that she might be in her yard, that I could walk up to her and say how much joy she'd brought me over the years--how much "I loved Lucy." I remembered that the neighborhood was hauntingly quiet that day, other than a few birds singing. The date palms lining the street stood sentinel, their leaves barely whispering. And her house seemed almost ordinary compared with some of the other mansions on the street--white brick, the front door painted black, lush St. Augustine grass. I snapped a picture and lingered for a bit, thinking back over my short life. I Love Lucy began airing before I was born. And in 1960, when I was five, I was just beginning to enjoy the re-runs of the famous Ricardos. I realized tears streamed down my face as I walked back to my car. Why was I crying?
And now fast-forward twenty years, and I'm watching a PBS documenetary on You Tube entitled Findng Lucy. The documentary tracks her rise from a B movie queen to television stardom, her face the most recognized in the whole world at one point. I watched clips of I Love Lucy, remembering every episode. The comedy bits still made me laugh. But then, the very last show Lucy and Desi recorded together, she had already filed for divorce. It was not only the end of a marriage, but also the end of an era in television. Tears again flowed down my face all these years later. I realized I was experiencing a brush with nostalgia. It was as if I was running through a blur of memories. I wanted to run through them, but simultaneously I didn't, because reminiscing stirred sadness and a longing to go back.
I wasn't quite ready to put away the Thanksgiving wreath, the pumpkin on the front porch. I love autumn--that season that ushers in the colors of amber, ochre and crimson. Pumpkins dot the landscape with their unmistakable orange brilliance. The sun is warm but not hot. Skies are often impossibly blue. "Just one more day," I said. "Then I'll get out the white Christmas lights." And besides, the family would be coming over for a bonfire. The grandchildren would try s'mores for the first time.
A fire blazed in the fire pit, and the moon glowed bright as if we'd pulled a string on an overhead light. Stars gleamed in a sky the color of midnight. I could hear the hum of my family all around me, my grown daughters with their young, talented husbands. My grandchildren. I thought, "This is abundance. Thank you, God, for the beauty of the moment, for giving me so much, for your goodness. For your kindness. Your tenderness toward me. Your warmth.
My fingers clutched the mug filled with hot coffee, as if the warmth emanating from the cup might bring me some comfort for the day ahead. I felt afraid and sorely inadequate as I thought about the persons I'd be seeing that day--patients coming for treatment at the methadone clinic. Patients that I knew were trying to figure out life but still using substances, trying to cope. Others not actively using, but without employment, without a permanent place to live. Some survivors of horrible trauma. Others riding three hours by bus just to get to the clinic. Many with no helath insurance, discharged from the hospital too early because they couldn't pay.
I'd been standing by the window in the break room at my office as these myriad thoughts penetrated my mind, the coffee now lukewarm, my fingers cold again. I placed the coffee mug in the microwave and stared out the window, the sun just beginning to break open the morning. I could see a few streaks of lavender beginning to appear through the darkened, leafless tree branches. The microwave "dinged" and pulled me out of my reverie--the sound awakening me to my choices for the day. I could either allow my fears to move me toward oppression, or walk away from them. "God," I prayed. "I do not have answers for my patients. But you do. I choose to walk in your love this day. I know your love for them is so much greater than mine; reflect your goodness, kindness, protection and provision for them through me. I walk by faith, confident in your power, even though I feel weak and helpless. I choose this pathway instead of fear and anxiety."
They'd been counting the days until they could come over to my house. I'd been counting too. Months had passed since I'd been well enough to watch my two grandchildren, 5 and 2. I'd finished my treatments and was finally stronger. We'd planned for a whole day together. Just the three of us. I didn't know who anticipated the time more. All we knew is that blissful day couldn't come quickly enough.
We created a play together. I filled a box with costumes, and each of the children picked out what they would wear and who'd they'd be. Lilly chose a pair of pink fairy wings outlined in silver glitter, a jeweled tutu and a tiara with lavender and white streamers that cascaded down each side of her head and blended with her hair. Jonathan chose a red felt cowboy hat and picked up a sword that he brandished with enthusiam. I wore a long blonde wig. I was named the "funny director" as both children giggled wildly when I donned the silly locks. Lilly took on the role of fairy and then princess. Jonathan became the cowboy pirate and sometimes just the cowboy. The children named the play, "The Runaway Princess." The material primarily consisted of Jonathan running after Lilly holding his hat with one hand and waggling the sword at her with his other. I yelled "action" and both children ran through the house, all of us laughing and tired out after about an hour. Even in our somewhat chaotic production, we felt the satisfaction and well-being that laughter and creativity can bring.
Lately I've been thinking about creating positive environments. For instance, a few weeks ago I began an eating plan that supports an environment that inflammation doesn't like, where cancer cells flee in terror. After reading what I'd need to do to begin the program, I felt some panic. "How would I find my way through the maze of foods I'd need to buy at Whole Foods?" The task seemed too difficult. But then my oldest daughter said she wanted to start the plan as well. She created a food list, and we ventured to Whole Foods together. My daughter knew the store well and guided us to the correct aisles. At one point, a woman stopped us in the store, noting our cart full of organic vegetables and "good" fats. She said, (actually multiple times) "I see you're buying some really healthy food. I approve. I changed my eating habits several years ago, and I've never turned back." While somewhat taken aback by the woman's forthright demeanor, my daughter and I took this as affirmation that we were headed in the right direction, even though still slightly ambivalent regarding the value of MCT oil and ghee.
Last week we met for coffee to discuss how the eating plan was going. "It's hard sometimes," we both agreed. But then my daughter said, "Let's name the benefits." Our pants are fitting a little looser. Energy is increasing. Sugar cravings are diminishing. Skin is better. We both agreed to keep going. And now that we know better what to eat, shopping is easier. The plan is fairly simple: organic vegetables, good fats, lean, pasture-raised animal proteins and eggs. Lots of greens. The aisles at Whole Foods aren't so daunting anymore.