Monthly Archives: November 2010

another season begins

First Christmas tree of the season went up Thanksgiving weekend. Not mine, but my daughter-in-law’s. It was wonderful to be around her enthusiasm. We had to savor every ornament. Each one means something to her, as once mine did to me. We had to fret over Christmas lights….the ones she has always bought are no longer available. Oh, no, what will we do? The tree smelled so evergreen and slightly minty. There was a new person in the family–their baby–to keep away from the tree. We attempted to teach him to touch “with one finger” rather than grab with a fist. It makes me feel so happy to see her  vigor and unstained happiness around Christmas. I hope she never feels as tired and sad as I once did. Christmas can be a terrible season––divorce, death, loneliness, family drama all undoing the shine of its promise. I had to let go of my grand Christmases, had to remake the season to sustain my hurting heart. My heart is well now. Part of my season is to watch the younger women in my life create their Christmas worlds and to revel in their joy. I have my own joys, but they are mostly smaller ones.

What does Christmas mean to you? Do your traditions sustain or hurt you? Have you had to remake the season? How did you do it?

The first Merry Christmas of the season to you………


singing myself

Words from a Unity prayer caught my attention this week….I go about fulfilling that for which I was designed, which is to sing myself and try to share the loveliness of which I am aware….I was struck by “sing myself” because that’s what writing fiction is, and I often tremble at my own boldness to dare it. I don’t know the song when I begin a new project. I have to pull it all from inside onto the page. The inherent audacity in that frightens some feeble part of me. Interestingly enough, words from Rumi also uncovered themselves from among the stacks of files, books, and papers that are my office:

Today, like every other day, we

wake up empty and frightened.

Don’t open the door to the study

and begin reading. Take down the dulcimer.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss

the ground.

Isn’t that lovely? That our very creativity is a act of kneeling and kissing the ground? That our very life, living it, is also….sharing not the fear and anger, but the loveliness….


I built the first fire of the winter season in our fireplace. This is an old house, late 1920s, and it has an old brick fireplace. It’s taken me a long time not to depend on a man in my life to build a fire. Sometimes he doesn’t want to; sometimes I have to wait. So I figured it out myself. I feel very self sufficient when I build a fire. I collect twigs and magnolia cones from the trees in my yard as my kindling. I love feeding the kindling, arranging the logs so air can circulate. I love the sound of a fire starting, the cracks and pops and uneven purring it makes. I love its tiger baby roar; I love watching it, losing the tense, this-moment self as thoughts go random and float lightly, as I stare more and more without mind at leaping flames. I love the way logs burn, the deep pumpkin orange they become, until all of them is that orange. They are literally pieces of burning coal. I love the sound logs make as they break apart, the fatal, first crack, the depth of its rending. I feel safe, wagons circled, as I watch the fire I’ve made. I love the pile of grey ashes still alive with little amber citron flicks of flame at its end. Copper, marigold, ocher, sienna, tangerine, apricot, carrot….red, chestnut, fuchsia, iron, madder, ruby….sulfur, canary, chrome, gold, straw, saffron….all the colors in the flames……..may they spark something inside, something as wondrously fiery and popping wild…………….

What’s popping wild for you? It was so easy to find when I was younger….


I heard an interesting phrase at a meditation retreat this weekend: compassionately let go. The wise man speaking (he runs in Deepak Chopra circles) was answering a question about wanting to help someone by telling them about your meditation practice and/or your God or guru or whatever it is spiritually that is working for you. You must do it without ego and without expectation, as a sharing, he said, as in this worked for me….and then compassionately let go.  I liked that word compassion. I remember the first time I heard about letting go in 12-step….detach with love, was the advice. I could detach, but with love…nope. I was too angry, too fearful, upset by how another’s behavior was hurting me, but too afraid to walk away. Which reminds me of something another wise man once said,  you always have a choice. Always. It’s just that sometimes the choice is between one pain and another. But I was talking about compassionately letting go: of another’s reaction, attitude, addiction, behavior, with compassion toward them. It’s out of our hands. Of course, it always was. Each person has his own path, his own guides and inner light for that path. We can’t make him turn on that light. The word love requires more than I can sometimes give, an energy of engagement that I can’t or won’t summon for various reasons. I can’t always love others. But compassion….I think I can go there, for the other, and also, for myself. Compassion is an interesting shade of love. Less red.

How do you see compassion and how do you see love? And how do you see letting go?

goblins and witches

Three special goblins called on me last night….my grandchildren, all of 10, 8, and not quite 1. My grandchildren time provides some of the richest moments in my life. Not quite 1 is always fun because he’s not quite 1 and so biteable. 10 and 8 have outgrown baby cuteness, but I love my glimpses into their world where friends aren’t always nice and grownups don’t have time and Project Runway is of real interest and bathing isn’t a priority, at least to 10 anyway. We play a game, appropriate for Halloween, called Witch Nana. I’m not quite sure how it evolved but it involves me being a witch, and I try to capture them, and the one not captured has to free the prisoner by touching him or her. Witch Nana is bound by countess rules, particularly the older 10 has gotten. Sometimes there are magic wands stolen, pretend thrown water always freezes me, invisible shields go up but only if “invisible shield” is shouted in time, and lately, they’re into tricking me. “Look at this,” they’ll call, and I pretend to be distracted so that they get a head start on running away too fast for me to catch them, and then all of us will laugh so hard it hurts once it’s clear I’m not going to snatch them. I’m a little wide to be climbing around children’s park play stations, but I’m game. Not quite 1 is way too young for Witch Nana, but I hope I can still maneuver well enough to play with him when his time comes. I think Witch Nana started with stories about a witch that would capture Nana, meaning me, and 10 would rescue Nana, and throw water on the witch….10 loved being the hero…..I love being Witch Nana.