Sunday, September 12, 2010

Forks In The Road

I spent hours on the back porch with my grandmother – sipping iced tea, sweet and cold – listening to the stories of the child I had once been and the adventures I had embarked upon. I heard of the fearlessness of a young girl full of determination and courage, tales accompanied by the backdrop of cricket song and cicadas humming in the summer evenings. I saw myself through the eyes of another – eyes wiser and richer than my own with memories and perspectives lost to me. Hours were spent poring over photographs in the school yearbooks, revisiting the years filled with teen angst and insecurity … remembering the dreams, the hopes, the possibilities and the magical sense of invincibility. Each story, each photograph, each memory brought not only recollection, but unexplored avenues – each full of opportunities to spread my wings and fly. I began to see not only the woman I was at my very core, but also the woman who could have been had any other forks in the road been chosen; I began to see the woman who could yet be.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Lost somewhere between sleep and waking, she turned toward the weight newly settled on the far side of the bed, reaching out a hand toward the warmth she knew would be there. His mere presence brought with it the security needed for her release into that place of absolute rest and escape. She scooted close, settling into the crrok of an arm that fit her shape perfectly. For hours she had listened for the sound of the garage, the door, the rattle of keys, the whisper of quiet footsteps as he attempted to make no sound. Little did he know that sleep had eluded her as she waited for his return, dozing only to find herself awake again, jarred into the moment by the absence of her other half. Now, with that gentle touch, her eyes closed in total peace as slumber carried her away.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Then and Now

The rain had eased, but the gray skies still echoed with the darkness in her heart. She worked her way down the street crowded with parked cars and veered right at the first intersection. When she was eight, that intersection had been the boundary point, her mother reminding her to go not one step past the stop sign there. When she was ten, it had been the meeting spot for sleep-overs at Mandy’s house; the girls would meet at the halfway point and then walk giggling back to the house that was the evening’s destination. At thirteen, it was the marker between before and after. Then her world had been so orderly and full and abundant, but now it was empty and dark and cold.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Every Night

He watched her waltzing entry to the room, the sway of her hips making the black silk covering them whisper of forbidden secrets. He knew the scent of her that wafted across the space to envelope him in the familiar … and the unknown … overwhelming his senses. The twinkle in her eye as she paused to charm the men in her path tripped his heartbeat into a faster tempo, forcing him to focus on the conversation with the client across from him. He saw her graceful tapered fingers rest briefly on the sleeve of the chairman’s tailored black jacket, taking his imagination to places best visited in private as he thought of other places those hands had wandered. And still he smiled and chatted and schmoozed and played his part to perfection.

After all, she’d be going home with him … just like she had every night for the last twenty years.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Meantime Living

Borrowed words today...

"Meantimers don't live in the here and now, they live in the there and now. 'In the meantime' is a defense. It's a way of hedging your bets and avoiding the very risks that often lead to personal growth. 'In the meantime' people almost always have big plans: to get in shape, to sign up for some classes, to quit their jobs, to start that novel, to change their lives. The present is trivialized; it's the future that matters. All of the things they're not happy with are just for now. These same meantimers believe they hold the reins of their destiny by keeping a full calender.

But more than anything, 'in the meantime' living is is motivated by fear. It may be the fear of dealing with an unhealthy relationship, the fear of being alone... but it's fear nonetheless. And that fear is preventing you from taking a needed step toward empowerment. Worse, that fear is keeping you in a state of limbo, and it's lowering the standards you're willing to tolerate.

Sometimes the 'there and now' isn't about the future, it's about the past and not being able to move on.

Imagine going through years of your life with the gut feeling that none of it really matters yet, that it will start at some point in the future, and that the present doesn't really count. Does this feeling seem familiar? Have you ever told yourself that everything will ultimately fall into place once you (fill in the blank, e.g., publish that book, lose ten pounds, meet a great person, get that promotion, buy that house, and so on?)? And who wouldn't want to convince themselves that at least some of the effort was worthwhile, that all of the energy you expended on whatever really did matter?

We can't live every moment like it's our last because doing so would make every moment too serious. So we do the opposite. We live lightly and frivolously, squandering our moments."

- Ian Kerner

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Moment

A wise person once said that we often don’t recognize the most important things at the moment they happen. That’s the way it was. Weeks later, when she was struck with the realization of what had transpired, the truth of it took her breath away. On that rainy Thursday afternoon, the moment after he walked away, she knew it was true. He had carried her heart for the longest time and she hadn’t even noticed. Only now, when it lay bruised and bleeding at her feet, did she realize she had given it and all the love it held away.

Monday, June 14, 2010


I never believed in love at first sight - how can you possibly love someone when you don't even know them? I never even believed in love at second sight ... or third or fourth, for that matter. I always believed that you had to know someone for a while ... really know them ... before you could love them, until I was proven wrong.

I learned that you could love someone the moment your eyes met ... that there was something that wasn't logical or reasonable or even remotely safe that could grab hold of your heart and take your breath away. To say that I accepted it at face value would, of course, be a lie ... I fought it like a demon from hell. I tried to make it fit into a sensible box that would make order of the chaos running rampant through my heart. I tried to ignore it. I tried to laugh it off. I allowed fear to rule my life ... and in the end, that fear multiplied the chaos and gave birth to a broken heart.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

21 Years ago today, I became "Mom" to a princess ... my life has never been the same and I have been blessed every single second of the time she's been in my world. Happy Birthday, Meghan ... I love you ...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Door to Tomorrow

Ellie shifted in that space between waking and dreaming, finding the place of waking to be as unsure as the dream she had just left. She began a thoughtless stretch, trying to find the where and why before opening her eyes to the new day. Sliding across the sheets, her toes encountered warmth and gradually, uncertainly, she became aware of the warm brick wall at her back … the strong arms surrounding her. Persuaded she was still dreaming, she sighed contentedly and attempted reentry to that place of sleep and peace.

“Good morning, little one.” The words were familiar, resonating with a place she knew from long ago … accompanied by the brush of a breath caressing her shoulder, the tightening of the embrace enveloping her. Her eyes sprang open, taking in the room not her own, yet familiar – the room that mere hours ago had been filled with loss and emptiness - wondering at the comfort and security of this place and this moment that was now. It had been years since these arms held her, since that voice was the one to welcome her into a new day, years that melted away into the sunshine filling the space. In a flash, the confusion fell away and Ellie knew she was exactly where she belonged.

Today would not be an easy day. Today would challenge her in ways that would have otherwise been unbearable. Today ... this day ... opened the door to a tomorrow that was everything her yesterdays should have been.

(Excerpt from "The Meaning of Now")

Sunday, March 14, 2010


A few years ago  ... I decided that I'd been told not to dance long enough. So I talked some friends into coming along for the ride and I began to dance. At first, free-style and fun ... then I decided I wanted to do some of the cool things I saw other people doing ... and signed up for lessons. I began slow ... with waltz and some social/ballroom kind of stuff. Then some country ... and then some Latin. There is a distinct hum in the background - the sound of dozens of people saying 'can't' or 'shouldn't' - the naysayers. But do you know how much fun I'm having? Do you realize that three or four nights a week I get a work-out that is not at all boring or unpleasant? Do you understand that I'm living life and squeezing every second of joy from it that I can? Do you see that I refuse to allow a moment of life pass by unlived? So I will never win a dance competition ... instead I'll laugh and make friends and treasure the moments. And, as they say ... "Dance like no one is watching." :)

"I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible. I choose to risk my significance. To live so that which comes to me as seed ... goes to the next as blossom. And that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit." (Markova)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Bit of Cloth

On a walk through one of the encampments, I noticed a little boy … maybe four or five years old … huddled back behind a pile of clothes, blankets and miscellaneous jumbled pieces of lives. He was crying … not the noisy sobs usually emanating from a child of that age … but silent tears pouring from big, lost eyes. From the evidence on his cheeks, tears had evidently been a part of his day for a good while. I reached out to touch one of the people in my group and quietly pointed to the little one and promised to catch up with them later.

In that place, there is no way to know what a child has been through … there seem to be no limits to the atrocities even the youngest have survived. So I simply went and tentatively sat next to him … saying nothing. I quickly did a cursory visual check … no evident injuries aside from a few scratches … much too thin … alert, but not overly skittish, all things considered. After a few minutes, his curiosity about this strange woman sitting in the dirt by him began to win out over the tears … and I scooted closer and held out my arms. In a blink, he was on my lap … those beautiful eyes looking straight into mine … looking farther still, into my heart. He didn’t seem to notice … or care … that my knowledge of his language was greatly lacking … we managed to share our names … he told me he didn’t know how old he was … and that he didn’t know his mama or his papa … or when he had last eaten. And somewhere in that exchange, his tears came to a halt and mine began. At first, he touched my cheek and tried to wipe them away … and then … when he realized the job was too big for his tiny hand … he began to twist the tattered cloth he held in his hand. I suppose that, at one time, it was a blanket ... although no one would have recognized it as anything more than a scrap at this point. I was angry with myself for burdening this child with my tears … frustrated that he was being met with my weakness instead of my strength. And then he stopped the turning of the cloth and began to purposefully work at pulling away one of the straggling pieces … using his child’s strength to tear away the worn cloth. With concern and gentleness, he took my hand in his … pulled open my fingers and slipped the small bit of cloth into my palm. Solemnly he told me it would “fè li pi bon” … “make it better”. Then, with each of us holding a bit of his blanket … he snuggled into my arms and fell asleep. And there we sat until he woke and we went in search of a healthy meal for him.

Leaving that little boy behind to return to life here has left my heart in pieces … and that stained, tattered bit of fabric has become one of my dearest possessions.

Monday, March 8, 2010



I love you.

I want you.

I need you.


I love you still.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Path

In his dream, the road was really simply a country lane, little more than a beaten path if the truth be told. It was lined here and there with the footprints and tears of those who had gone before, mile markers of life’s journey. A careless misstep or thoughtless detour could change the destination – the steps taken with fear leading one direction and those taken with determined courage leading another. Each reached marker filled the traveler with hope, bearing witness that others had passed this way, perhaps carrying similar burdens of regret and longing, but triumphantly reaching this place in which he now stood. As long as one foot landed in front of the other, as long as there was one more bend on the horizon, as long as the song whispered among the leaves, the traveler would continue on. The music in his heart blended with the melodies of those gone before, drawing the map that would bring rest at the end of the journey as he took one more step forward.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Honduras - Days Six & Seven

(Note: Not a real time update)

Yes, yes … I know … I missed a day. But it was such a full and busy day! :)

We’ve continued to build. We began with a plan to eliminate thatched roofs and dirt floors … both accumulate parasites and end up creating health issues. The floor part has been conquered by the raised platforms for housing. The roof part is proving to be more difficult. We came believing that we had a workable solution, but after getting here, realized that it really isn’t practical, feasible or maintainable once we leave. Since the goal is to not introduce chemicals or building materials which can’t be found here, we’re now brainstorming for a new plan. Soooo … we have three days left to come up with an answer. If anyone out there has any brilliant suggestions, email them to me or Anthony. I only trek up the hill to use my phone once a day (in the morning), but have a fairly reliable email connection.

Today we did the equivalent of a junior high sex education class. AIDS is considered generally epidemic in several population groups occupying the northeastern part of the country. Additionally, Honduras has the highest rate of adolescent pregnancy in Central America. In self-contained communities like this, it is somewhat less of a concern … but as more of their young people venture out into more metropolitan areas for education or employment and then return home, it becomes more of an issue. So, in spite of a few uncomfortable moments, we did it … Mark with the men and Amanda and me with the women. Re-use of needles for antibiotics and other medications is common as well as those in rural areas attempt to self-medicate. Such a fine line between creating fear and creating empowerment.

With some trepidation we have introduced some ‘outside’ products. Toothpaste and toothbrushes, as well as bars of soap, have been added to the daily routine here. Our local team members will see that supplies are replenished monthly. It’s always a struggle to determine when the good outweighs any potential negatives and too often there is no way to effectively measure the outcomes.

The guys have completed the system to bring water up from the river. Yesterday, for the first time, the women could access water through a manual pump as opposed to having to carry it up. The supply will be limited and they will have to determine what uses the ‘easy’ water will be put to and which uses require the walk to the river. Actually the supply is pretty unlimited, but the flow is minimal and will only provide a certain amount of water in a given time.

Speaking of time, it has flown by so quickly. Only two more nights here … then a night in the city … then home. It feels like we only arrived yesterday.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Honduras - Day Four

(Note: Entry from earlier trip - not a real time post)

It is interesting to see how much electric power affects the way we live our lives. Here, where there is no electricity, life assumes an entirely different rhythm. When the sun sets completely, it’s dark … seriously dark. There’s no ambient light … really … none. Out of necessity, waking hours are determined by the presence of natural light. And it works. At home, after the sun sets, I wring several more hours from the day … usually staying up well into the night. And morning is not my friend … I prefer to spend the first hours of daylight sleeping! Here … after only a couple of nights … I’m awake when the light begins to seep into the day. I wonder how long it will take me to fall back into my old habits once I return home … combined with the different time zone, probably not very long. And I must confess that for about an hour after dark, most members of our team are busy at our computers, pushing the battery limits to the max. Within moments of our heads touching our mats, though, we are all sound asleep.

Having said that, tonight there was music and laughter and singing and dancing and these scrumptious little pastry (although pastry is probably not the right word) things filled with a jumble of fresh fruit … much like an empanada, but not quite. I couldn’t begin to tell you what they were called, but that’s something I want to find out. Given my love of sweets and fruits, it was heavenly. Torches were lit and kids were allowed to stay out until they could no longer keep their eyes open, falling asleep wherever they could find a comfortable spot to land. There are few things more joyful than the total abandon of dancing with a child. Even the monkeys participated, howling from the edges of the darkness … almost as if they wanted to join in … although probably they just wanted the yummy treats.

Today we built raised platforms to serve as ‘foundations’ for shelters. By raising the structures onto modified stilts with deep footers, the hope is that the next time flooding takes place (the rainy season begins in May), the waters and debris will wash beneath them instead of sweeping them away. By preparing more ‘foundations’ than we will have time to build on, the residents will be able to build on them as needed in the future. Thank goodness that in this area, all I am responsible for is following directions and doing as I’m told … Anthony is the construction genius.

By the way (and speaking of genius), Amanda is the person who makes sure that I know what’s going on around me … translating in such a seamless and unobtrusive way that, to some, she is almost invisible. But not to me. In this part of the country, there are numerous dialects that have been cobbled together over the years … add that to my real lack of working Spanish and without Amanda, I would be lost and clueless. She has this eerie way of knowing, just by a glance in my direction, whether or not I understand what those around me are saying or if I need her to make sense of things for me. She’s my voice and I never have a moment’s worry that maybe something isn’t communicated just right. She is amazing and brilliant and her sweet nature adds so much to the time spent here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Honduras - Day Three

(Note: This is a journal entry from a past trip ... not a real time entry.)

Today has been an adventure. I went with the women to trade supplies with people from the nearest village. I am so humbled with the way they have accepted our intrusion into their world. On the way to the meeting place, I wondered to myself how the other group would perceive my presence … it’s not like I exactly blend in and can be invisible. As we neared the gathering, two of these dear ladies linked their arms with mine and introduced me as their friend … their amiga buen.

Quite an elaborate network has been established here … exchanging different grains, freshly caught fish, fruits. We even brought back a chicken and a rabbit with us. The last two items I’m not going to think about very much … and I hope they’re still here when I leave. Living near the river, fish makes up a big part of the weekly menu. Geographic proximity has made at least one healthy eating choice a given. On other days, the men exchange other items and visit with one another. The men here are eager to share their new ideas with their neighbors to the north.

The women and I traded information today. While talking about ways to safely clean, prepare and store foods, I learned to make tortillas from scratch. Really, seriously from scratch … and to cook them on a clay stove. I think that more than anything, I provided the entertainment for the evening in my clumsy attempts to shape the dough … these ladies effortlessly and efficiently produce perfectly symmetrical circles … mine took on all sorts of interesting shapes. The high point of my day was hearing one of the mothers explaining to her young son the things she had learned today … lavado … limpiar … the cycle has begun.

Reyna is 31. She is beautiful, with eyes that dance when she laughs and a smile that takes my breath. She's brought five children into this world ... three of them died before reaching the first birthday. Her husband comes and stands quietly as she shares her story, supporting her with his presence. Having lost a child of my own, my heart and mind can't even begin to comprehend the immensity of enduring that three times. Tears fill both her eyes and mine as she speaks … the toddler in her arms squirms and pats her face as he settles into sleep. Because of her age, she will most likely bear more children. This is the way of things here.

I struggle with questions of acceptance and respect and culture. Part of me wants to be able to 'fix' so many things ... and another part of me ... the wiser part ... knows that to even attempt to do so would only leave brokenness. I'm thankful for team members who are committed to a policy of "first do no harm" and who recognize that something doesn't necessarily need to be fixed just because we don't fully understand it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Honduras - Day Two

I am awed by the gracious hospitality we are receiving in this beautiful place. We’ve been submerged in smiles and laughter since our arrival last night. There is a calm here that is almost tangible … an acceptance and joy that is free of the anchors attached to so many of the things that we often believe to be necessary in our complicated lives.

On my first trip to this country several years ago, one of my mentors told me to be careful about the questions I asked. The premise was that there were some things that I would simply be happier not knowing. The advice has served me well. Yes, dinner last night was delicious … no, I do not care to know exactly what I ate. Although I do hope to learn more about the process … I’m ashamed to admit that the very idea of preparing a complete meal without electricity leaves me at a loss.

I woke this morning to find two absolutely beautiful little girls sitting quietly by my mat, waiting patiently for me to open my eyes. And a day that begins with smiles that warm can be nothing but amazing. They’ve been my shadows for most of the day, the youngest, Naima, with one hand always attached to me in some way. After one day in their world, my life is richer.

Their mothers share their stories with me … stories of happy moments and sad moments. They tell me of the children they have lost … of the fear that sickness brings in this place so far removed from medical care. They tell me of the hunger their families endure when the floods take their meager crops. Pride fills the face of one mother who speaks of her son who has gone away to university … and the pride is tinged with a sadness created by his absence. They tell me of the wedding plans they are making for one of their daughters. They insist that goat milk is very good for me.

Floods have ravaged this area repeatedly over the last decade. Again and again, homes have been destroyed and rebuilt … often using the same methods in the same locations. Today, we made sand bags … lots of sand bags … and are brainstorming with these residents on ways to beat the rains next time. This is their place … and they will determine which actions to take. Without their wisdom and their understanding of this place that they call home, nothing we do will be worthwhile.

Already, I have learned more than I could possibly teach.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Honduras - Day One

For the next few days I'll be posting bits from a recent trip to Olancho, Honduras and my time there ... no literary efforts ... just updates that I originally posted to facebook during the trip ... so although they are written in first person, present tense, the trip is over and I'm back home now :)

Day One

I’m in a dusty truck, headed out of San Pedro Sula toward the east. As we drive through this metropolitan area crowded with people and buildings and billboards and noise, it’s hard to believe that in a short few hours I’ll be in a place with nature to contend with and no running water. We were greeted by old friends not seen for almost two years … and yet, even with the passing of time, it seems like yesterday. Already the teasing has begun about my feeble attempts at broken Spanish and my requests for a slower rate of speech. They have paved the way for us, making preparations and forging relationships.

We have been responsible and registered with the Embassy. We’ve observed the (very orderly) protests taking place … heard the rumblings about the high court’s recent decisions … or lack thereof. We’ve reviewed overland travel routes and options. There are contingency plans for everything our imaginations could conjure. We’re eager to connect with the rest of our team and to meet the people who have welcomed us into their lives for these few days.

Because I have learned on these trips to never take anything for granted, I’m typing frantically, trying to get the words out and sent before we leave the land of cell and internet coverage … knowing that the hopes of a generator that actually works, satellite adapters that can find a signal and cell phone reception are just that … hopes. I’ve phoned home, reassured children and mother … and now I type as I listen to the flurry of information being exchanged around me in the vehicle.

It’s cloudy here today … and probably cooler than back home in Phoenix … oh, and did I mention the humidity?!? Even a gal from the South forgets how fiercely humidity can slap you in the face.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Tear

The silent tear told a story that screamed to be told... a tale of hope and despair, love and loss, loyalty and betrayal. Leaving a glistening trail, it trickled across a cheek caressed by a mother's hand, kissed by a man made of dreams, patted by a child's chubby fingers. It sang of a girl chasing fireflies in the warm dusk of a summer evening and a woman chasing dreams in a life lit by shimmering stars. It traced a path left by other tears in lonely moments in other days... and uncountable joys in yet others. It told of a life lived with delight and zest, love given freely, passion embraced fully, adversity met with strength.

A hand lifted to gently brush the tear away... and a woman stood tall to welcome another day.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Little Girls ...

My little girl.... well, once she was little... now she's just smart and funny and brave and beautiful!!