Wednesday, September 5, 2018


Joy disappeared first, but she went quietly, and so it was a year or more before I realized she’d gone off trail, and I resigned myself to the fact that she was lost forever.

(I felt lost forever.)

I did not find joy or salvation in a man. 


But I couldn’t have found him without her. And this is the room I devoted to her safe return. This room was my yellow ribbon of faith, my “missing” poster, and the bowl of milk I left out during the longest winter nights when god would wake me early and I would pray, or try to.

She would visit in my delirium, leaving whisker-prints in milk and fairy dust.

This room became my altar and my haven, a living dreamcatcher who had a stronger backbone than I had at the time.

She is a permanent fixture in my life.

A reminder that I’m responsible for my own experience, and that if I seek joy, I’d better make her feel welcome.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Keeping Score

Anxiety found me this morning, somewhere on the trail.

I had thought I'd outrun her, or detained her last week between the couch cushions in my trauma therapist's office.

Sometimes I think if I deposit $125 and some tears, that she'll leave me alone, but she's nothing if not loyal.


She must have something left to teach me.

Today I remembered, sooner than I have in the past, that ignoring her is the best way to have her turn up the volume. So I spoke up, and said the truth about where I'd lost myself. I asked for help.


I didn't beat myself up.

The number of times I've kept score, or run away, or counted myself out for not meeting my unachievable standards for myself?

I think I'm finished now.

I would like to redefine adulthood as telling the truth about myself, asking for help when I need it, and not keeping score.

And maybe finding gratitude for the hard moments. The visits with anxiety.

And what she has to teach me.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Love Languages

I love the idea of love languages.

You've heard?

There are five ways people like to be loved. Not to simplify an idea that somehow occupied the pages of an entire book, but some people like gifts, some people like touch, some people like quality time, some people like to hear nice things about themselves, and some people like for you to do nice things for them.

I like this idea. It's super cozy, just like any idea where I get to nicely compartmentalize people into little boxes in my mind. And while I think it's overly simplistic for a life partner (romantic or otherwise), it is useful for employee recognition. Like if public recognition makes Sally's skin crawl, it's nice to know that so you don't shame her when you're trying to appreciate her. If she wants a $5 Starbucks gift card instead, BLESS HER, THAT'S EASY.

So yes, ask your employees and volunteers. Pay attention that some people would rather get a nice card with a few words of praise instead of another Chipotle gift card for their birthday. It's not the magic of the languages, it's just being attentive.

Also, if someone gives you something, that was the point. Say thank you for being appreciated, acknowledged, or remembered. Then pass the intention along. Appreciate. Acknowledge. Remember.

When it comes to intimacy, I think it's too simplistic to pick a love language using an online quiz and deciding Now And Forever, this is how I love you.

People get touched out. Gifts are hard to shop for. Words are hard to come by sometimes.

Love is multilingual.


Control is not a love language, but boy can it disguise itself as one.

You can use nice words to be mean.

Recognition and service to shame.

Touch to contain.

Gifts to obligate.

(I have done all of these things).

“You owe me,” is how some people say, “I love you.”

(This is not love).

I'll leave that to Rumi, and Rupi Kaur, and poets who have a better sense of what it is. But I'll tell you what it's not.

I think love says – follow your inner calling, your own path. Be true to yourself, even if it isn't with me.

Love reminds you that you can swim - invites you out of the burning lifeboat to save you from the impending undertow.

Reciprocity, not transaction.

And here is the secret to know if you're loving with a side of control and manipulation: is it important that the person on the receiving end know that what was offered came from you?



Your gift, your service, your words, may have been a downpayment on future expectations.

And the only things more likely to cause suffering than unmet expectations?

Those you've paid for.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Sink the Ship

I spent this summer hoping.


(I had hoped never to do such a thing again).

There was a three week window that I spent primarily in bed or on the floor in front of the fireplace, lost in mental fog, exhaustion, and the after-effects of spiritual overspray.

I was sick, not just depressed, but it's a chicken/egg scenario in my world. And while I used to tolerate it or write it off as the weather or an anniversary of some travesty or another, this time I got mad.

And I let the anger out.

(My therapist will be so proud).

Which isn't why I did it – to be clear – but I have had other opportunities and let them pass by, or deflated them. I suppose I will give myself credit for saying “I'm supposed to tell you I'm angry with you,” earlier in the summer, which was indeed a step.

I wish that saying I was angry felt better, but it didn't make the anger go away. And that's not the point. The point is saying – your behavior is not ok, and neither are my boundaries.

Let's right this ship?

Or sink it.

I remain committed to the idea that I want to participate in friendship – relationship – whatever – as though we will be cordial in 5 years, whether we're married or passing on the street.

(That's my integrity speaking. I'm so glad I found her.)

I'm sitting with how often and how loudly and how clearly I have to describe and define my boundaries before I sound like border patrol, or put a sign in the window, “attack dog lives here,” or make a t-shirt that declares, “I'm a walking trauma bomb.”

My speech is either so muffled and overstuffed with softeners that the point is lost in the message, or unleashed and bloodthirsty.

I can work on that.

And I am. Clarity without fangs.

You stepped on my toes.

(or my heart)

Please don't do it again.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Angry, Out

I am so angry right now.

I haven't let myself be angry like this in years, or maybe ever. Normally I'm angry IN, seething and self-destructing and punishing myself. Looking for the cause, the mistake I made, the butterfly wingflaps that accidentally started the landslide or anguish.

The 'lack' in me that let tower crumble.

Now I'm angry out.

This is new.

The last time I remember this I was five. I said "bullshit" and the daycare mom tried to wash my mouth out with soap. I'll spare you the details, but I should have been charged with assault, although I was acting in self-defense.

(And I was five).

My Teacher, my dearly departed Hunter, would tell me to go for the bones of this anger. The marrow.

Dig, dig, dig.

It's a good thing I'm at my parents' house, and there is a garden, and work to be done, otherwise I'd probably have a friendly visit from the HOA or the police or the utility company, even though this digging is certainly in self defense.

Or preservation.

(Or destruction?)

There is a part of me that isn't coming into tomorrow.

The part who says:

"Tell me how to be good enough."

Fuck that part.

There is no such thing as good enough for another person.

Friday, July 27, 2018

There Is No Word For This

There is no word for this.

I have a recurring dream. Someone is chasing me. Sometimes I know who they are, and sometimes it's just a presence. I barricade myself in a room, I call 911, and cannot speak.

It is happening again.

I'm at war with my being, betrayed by my body.

Down for the count, with only the power of my mind to save me, and she's distraught and fatigued.

(there is no word for this).

There are Things that happen to those of us in bodies. Sometimes the plumbing gets stopped up, or the chi doesn't flow, or we do something to invoke shame.

If we're in man bodies, we have word for a broad range of dysfunction – emasculate. It could refer to any number of things, like the plumbing and chi, or the way we're treated by our partner or our boss or society. Castration on any level. Removing one's sexual force, one's gendered identity, one's power.

You get the idea, regardless of your gender. You feel the empathy or the victory. Pathos.

I think I feel this, in the way my body has betrayed me.

But I have no way to tell you.

There is no word for this.

I'm not fighting for a diagnosis – I don't need a pill or a listing in the DSM – but simply a way to convey to you the dream feeling of opening my mouth to report a very real terror, and having nothing to say.

I have so much to say.

For the partners of PTSD.

For the widow parents who have lost children.

For those who experience birth after death.

There is no word for this.

When the thing that is lost is not visible, unexplainable.


The First Step

The first step, as they say, is admitting that you are powerless, and that your life is unmanageable.

In my case, the powerlessness relates specifically to people, more specifically to men, and most specifically to romantic relationships (real or imagined) I have with men, and how I use them to PROVE the theory that I'm not good enough.

(to exist)

There's a thing they say, in the rooms of Al-anon, about how your role in not being treated like a rug, is perhaps not lying on the ground and allowing people to step on you?

In related news, I have removed the carpet from one stair. It took an hour, some prayer, and quite a bit of dexterity.

Bob Villa did not offer any support in this, nor did Jesus make an appearance.

Deep bows to The Man With The Staple Gun, circa 1981, whose diligence and dedication allowed me to burn three times the karma with all of the effort it took to remove each and every blessed one.

I have unending gratitude for Cynthia St. Aubin, who talked me through the simultaneous removal of the mental, emotional and spiritual carpet.

It's important, I think.

To get off the floor.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

There Goes the Neighborhood

I came to a realization today.

Or maybe it came to me?

That I love my home - my canyon - my view into the world. 

Sometimes I fantasize about living in a small home in Denver, near the yoga studio. Surrounded by young families and promise, and the occasional hideous outlier of new/modern construction.

(There goes the neighborhood)

I would like to be there - to be one of the young families, but none of the homes I’ve seen seems to include the husband and kids. Is it wrong to post in the online neighborhood community site that I’m ISO a kind, funny, wise-ish, handsome-ish widow?


(A vowel??)

Not wrong, but also not productive.

I also fantasize about housesitting for a year - bouncing from Bozeman to Newport with an occasional island trip to write books, just really enjoying my own company.

But the thing is, i know the sounds in my canyon. I know when the magpies and dogs get in on the game, that a bear is near. There are coyote pups here every year, howling their adorable baby yips to the moon. There were bobkittens before my life really hit the lows, and now there is a deer fawning underneath the neighbor’s deck.

The things I don’t love about my house are fixable. Expensive, maybe, complex and expansive in nature. Bob Villa remains unavailable, as he prefers the old charming homes with the new families, not the townhomes awkwardly leaping towards middle aged.

But next week the flooring people are coming, and the shaman, and A refinance is in order, and I’m going to try again with the roots and the owning it. Put effort into a place I’d like to love again.

This may not feel profound to you.

But remember: in your dreams, your house represents your life.



Friday, July 20, 2018


It was a year ago.

I was gratefully holed up in a friend's condo in Telluride, and awkwardly sharing a room with DJ. Two twin beds, and a chair "for Jesus" between us.

(Jesus did not make an appearance)

I was a pendulum swinging wildly between the terrors of my most recent dating adventures and the stalking, which felt mostly like a game of tag where the rules kept changing every six seconds and my body couldn't make sense of chasing or being chased.

And it happened in an instant, just like it happened today.

Someone else screamed for help, and we ran.


It isn't a question, or it shouldn't be. When someone screams for help, you run. You get help, or try to. You don't have to be the help, but perhaps you can summon help in some way. Tell an adult?

I ran towards, and DJ ran after me.

(maybe Jesus did, too?)

I listened to a podcast later today about the paralysis that falls over us when there are so many bystanders. We get all weird trying to decide who should get help and who should hold still. Who among us is a paramedic, and who has a working cell phone, and who else knows our precise location.

Zebras do not do this.

I'm thinking of this now as my twitter feed is becoming more and more ominous, more reminiscent of a hostage situation. Where do we go for help? Which adults do we tell? What kind of medic is trained to stop this kind of bleeding?

I've resorted to asking the abundance of empty chairs in my home what Jesus would do.

(no answers, so far)

Gaslighting isn't new to me. I survived that, and that was when it was mainly just me. Now it is the nation and the twitterverse who not only have no one to summon, but also don't know if it's actually this bad, or if they're crazy.

This is a hostage situation. Gaslighting disempowers and holds you hostage, and the way you fight against it is by remembering. By telling an adult. By not letting this become the new normal.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Great Expectations

Several years ago I sat in circle with six other women, all at different stages of pregnancy. I was a few ungraceful years into infertility, a dozen months into divorce, and at least a handful into the secret life of enabling, protecting, and manipulating an addict.

My resilience was rather low.

These burgeoning women each moved through the yoga class, chirping and chatting along, checking in and sharing their joys and challenges. It's a humbling circle at times, with great strife and tragedy like deployment, death, and loss of identity, and great humor, like the impulsive alterations of maternity pants with office scissors and staples, and the impossible logistics of sex at 41 weeks of gestation.

On this particular day, these women described their Great Sadness and Loss of being pregnant with healthy baby boys, each having secretly wished for girl babies.

I stopped moving, because the emotional eruption felt imminent.

Normally, typically - or at least up until that moment - I had always been able to hold it in, and later explode or weep in private, mortally wounded by the impressive selfishness of the first world problems. I think this is the commonest experience – we hear someone complain about how no one wants to date them because they're so pretty, or how tricky it is to manage their thriving business and we get jaded and grumpy – envious of their windfall, insulted and shocked by their ungratefulness.

(Until we do it later, but I'm making a point).

The anthropologist in me often steps forwards in moments like this, to guide and academic-ify the culturally acceptable paradox, the linguistic anomaly that sets up the speakers of English for tragedy later on.


We describe a pregnant woman as “expecting,” rather than pregnant, and it was in this moment that I used the shield of the anthropologist to Teach from the Seat of the Volcano, to mitigate the damage from the emotional fallout.

“I have to stop for a minute," I said.

"Do you realize you are all complaining about being pregnant with healthy baby boys? Surely, your grief for your imagined daughter is valid, and yet, what are the things you hoped you could do with a girl baby that you will not be able to do with a boy baby?”

Even here, ten weeks before viability and still indistinguishable from a dolphin, the fetus within you has already failed.

There were mentions of secret family cookie recipes, a love for the ballet, a desire to bond with a daughter through her pregnancy. And as a group, we deconstructed the devastation of the Y chromosome that might equally love baking, dancing, and may once impregnate a woman with whom one might bond through pregnancy. Or, mayhaps science will develop sufficiently in 20 years that men can choose to bear children... who even knows?

Later, over tears and coffee, I spoke with a friend whose second pregnancy was ruled incompatible with life at 18 weeks of gestation because of a malformed brain. She calmly explained to me that she would not terminate, that she would gratefully birth this baby whenever it was ready to come, directly into hospice care.

“I hope my baby breathes,” she said.

Great expectations.

There is a lesson in this. If you are gifted and entrusted with any aspect of raising a tiny human into an adult human, may I offer this lesson to you now? With it comes the incredible power to bury the burdens and resentments you carry, the expectations – spoken and un - you left unlived.

This child did not grace your life so you could shape them into your dreams unfulfilled, dress them up to your liking, tailor their resume to prepare them for the life that you wanted. The yogis say children come here for their own wild purpose, a fraction of which was to teach you something. So learn it now, early on, before you force them off of their path and onto one you've cleverly carved and designed for them.


Do not sit on, squish, squander or negate your child's dreams even if, and most especially when, they feel impossible.

They may want to join the circus, wear something frilly, live among gorillas, write The Great American Novel.



Help them establish a solid backup plan, should their dreams not land them on a Wheaties box or in the Oval Office. The gorillas they dream of studying may very well be on Wall Street, but the adolescent years of obsession on primate behavior will still serve them greatly.

(they both seem to employ a harem mating strategy).

Parent with this mantra: The world may fail you, my darling, but you can never fail me.

Friday, May 11, 2018


I recently reflected on the gift and gauntlet of the cotillion – the weekly country club soiree that my parents love-forced me to attend, in the hopes that I might marry well, or at least, not be an embarrassment to the family should I be invited to the weddings of others.

This sort of thing is a cultural rite for the upper crust and the upper class, and includes the yet untapped lessons about how to foxtrot and to pass the salt and pepper together – always to the right, unless the person requesting is two or fewer to your left – lest they float adrift in the world of extra plates and extraneous silverware. They travel as a pair.

Codependency deep among the savory.

And for me, it was a hellish immersion into yet another place where I did not belong. I was never supposed to, just to observe and try not to draw attention. A young anthropologist, thrust into the arms of sweaty boys and the presence of mediocre foods with fancy French names, I observed and quietly ridiculed those who tried to color within the lines, Let Him Lead, and dutifully swallow what they were served.

Etiquette fascinates me.

Yesterday, someone posted a helpful e-zine regarding Facebook etiquette, as though Mark Zukerberg were in cahoots with The Queen and finds the population of the billion or so souls he moderates to be a bit unwieldy and in need of Rules of Engagement.

I find the language of war to be more romantic than the language of the cotillion – the idea that you treat captives differently depending on their role in the conflict, their skill in combat. These romantic notions are gone in the light of Syria and Certain Presidents, and so now the brave souls at Country Living magazine have compiled guidance from their immersion in the culture of social media of international proportions.

They recommend such helpful ideas as “avoid the humble brag,” “don't post unflattering pictures of people,” “don't post photos of children without the permission of their parents,” and, (strangely), “Our thoughts are with Ottawa,” which are well-meaning and completely misguided, equally as absurd as the foxtrot and as ill-informed as the salt-and-pepper-scenario. What they really mean is: don't be proud, share only highlights, and for goodness sake, keep your grief to yourself. Unless you're selling Tupperware, and then please add me to your sales groups so I can appropriately store iceberg lettuce and avocados. Form and function.

The Internet is the final frontier – our outer space is cyber, and we've gone there without even thinking about it. It lacks both gravity and oxygen, and resembles reality as much as Farmville: similar rules, light on reality. I wish Spock were here, that intercultural ambassador with the sage advice: live long and prosper.


Mother's Day is full of ghosts for me, and in truth, so is this town. As much as I'd like to tell you that I escape to avoid the stalking, it's also to escape the reminders of all the babies I never had. I used to play a game with myself, and at first, it was romantic. I used to daydream what I would name my baby, if I just so happened to get pregnant that month.

The first was Sofia, who would have been eight this year.

There are 85 other names, as some names were androgynous and others separated by gender. There is a list, with strikethroughs. Relics, like the hashmarks etched into the concrete as someone manages the time held captive the only way possible – one line at a time.

My scorecard of grief.

In all of my travels, in the deep ends of spiritual texts, in the mouths of sages and wise toddlers, no one has been able to express to me how to stop wanting the thing that you want, or how to cultivate a want for something you don't.

These are the deep grooves of motherhood and infertility. We are sisters in the prison of self-imposed lack and frustration (and fatherhood too, but I'm trying to make a point here). I see this in the videos of “what I gave up to be a mother.”

My grief is real – and so is yours – as we stare across the fence, you into my manicured and pristine yard with exotic and tailored sections, and me into yours, filled with toys and dandelions, a dead circle from the kiddy pool that stayed too long.

We are both Victims, you and I.

(And neither of us has to be.)

You didn't choose the colic, the awkward and uncharted horrors of adolescence, the despair of pain you cannot resolve. It's real. It's impossible.

Prosper anyway.

Post unflattering pictures, share the full spectrum of your life and your experience. Take charge when the victim mentality takes hold, and reframe it for yourself, whether or not you decide to share it. You are only a victim if you decide to be. This is the terrible curse of your affluence and mine – offsetting the gifts we've received with the grief and the shame we hide. The cotillion held an important lesson here – pass the salt and pepper together.

Unfriend anyone who finds your vulnerability unseemly. For real, not just for Zuckerberg.

Do this in service of the new civilizations, whether or not they exist, who I imagine are monitoring our Facebook feeds from outer space wondering whether or not to keep a safe distance. And also, do this in service of you, who we both know exists. Who has worth and is worthy, even with the sadness, shame, and grief.

And remember:

Unless you are in prison, you are not.

So when you find yourself there, as I often do, let yourself out.

Live long, prosper, pass to the right.

Sunday, April 8, 2018


I am so grateful to have slept well last night.

My anxiety is up early again... talking to god... in the 3 o’clock hour.

Which is all well and good. She’s usually quick. But sometimes she’s a little too loud, and her sister grief wakes up. 

And now we’re in trouble.

It’s especially cruel to wonder what others are doing in these hours, and to see people complain about the very real distress of caring for crying or sick littles. Sleepless nights in the disastrous wake of an ear infection or the curse of colic.

It’s horrible.

And somehow I’m up - the clock in me eager to check on a sleeping babe, and instead finding emptiness. Always emptiness, like the aftermath of the fire. Beautiful in its own right, and terrible for those whose livelihoods it has consumed.

My life is consumed this morning.

Grief. The colic of the mind.

Unexplainable and relentless. Easy to wake and impossible to put down.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday

It's quiet this morning up on the bluff. It usually is, unless the creatures in the canyon get into a pre-dawn skirmish, but that's a marker of summer and we're just barely into the tendrils of spring.

There is no wind, even though I sometimes secretly wish there were. Jon comes to visit on the wind, and I woke up with him on my mind, which is right where he was when I went to sleep last night.

Good Friday.

What a name.

It's supposed to be good, because we know the end of the story already – that we're about to have the promise of forgiveness in a few days, and boy could we use it. I only went to confession once, and I lied the whole time because my sins were not age appropriate. Instead, I told the priest I had stolen some candy from the 7-11, even though I've never stolen any thing ever, because I was too ashamed to sit in the darkness and tell the truth.

I often still am.

The priest sent me home with a few prayers to say, and I hoped that the same prescription to treat stolen candy would work for lying to my parents about sleeping with a much, much older man. Maybe stop that madness, too, if I'm honest, but at the time I couldn't be.

In later years I would learn that the forgiveness I'm seeking on behalf of others offers no respite for me. That Mary herself cannot absolve one of Stockholm Syndrome, and that lies beget lies and the punishment is crucifixion. No amount of 'good enough' can protect you from the weather.

I've never been much of a Catholic, despite attending church on the weekly and participating in a number of sacraments. None of it resonated with me much until I saw Jon up on a cross, the man I loved crucified for the benefit of others, scripted by Andrew Lloyd Webber, enacted by the graduating class of 2003. Now I can't see a cross without seeing Jon's face, and hearing 1970's rock opera.

So naturally, on the eve of Good Friday, my thoughts drifted back to the man I saw crucified, resurrected, and then struck down by the circumstances of life. In the past I used to chide myself for grieving a loss I couldn't have prevented while simultaneously holding the nagging thought that maybe I could have done something. Maybe if I had been a Better Girl and Done Something else, that he wouldn't have frozen to death. The dying is bad enough, but there is something so much more gruesome about god stealing your last breath without leaving a mark, just slowing and stopping your heart.

Something so lonely.

There is wisdom in a dedicated day of grieving. I'm not making this one up – just ask the Germans, who call Good Friday “Grief Friday.” I'm not sure if Disney got to this one and white-washed it along with the other Tales, or if it was a sloppy handwriting snafu, but I'll say its a vote for the humility of the multilingual, that there is always more to the story.

I started telling the truth recently, inspired by a lesson from my friend Zreba. My grief would wake me in the middle of the night, and I would cry and be angry that I couldn't seem to rest despite needing sleep so badly. Pardon me for mixing faiths here, but in my appropriated version of Islam, God comes close in the early morning hours to hear our prayers. So now when I wake, as I did this morning, it is an opportunity for prayer. A date with god, who apparently has something to say.

Or hear.

Grief is not a phase, it is a cycle which is activated by an unseen force - barometric pressure or the Mayan calendar. And there is goodness in it, too. Even without knowing that resurrection is possible, that death is temporary, that wisdom is greater than the confines of my feeble mind.

The Truth of the matter, the gift of Easter, is that in the end, even this will be beautiful.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Your Dirty Mind

Your Dirty Mind...

I'm talking to you.

(and me)

You who has been accused of having a dirty mind - unclean thoughts.

(me too)

I'd like to take this idea off of the table – the idea that your thoughts are like muddy footprints on the china. We can take this very same earth and make a ceramic vessel from which you would be proud to pour tea, but in this context or that, it is evil and unsavory.

Water can be dirty, I suppose. Unclean. If it is polluted with chemical runoff or parasites, but even then, it isn't evil.

I'd like to assert that you aren't either.

The thoughts you have? The ones The People tell you are dirty? These are not true statements, unless you're a potter or a gardener or an archeologist and you are fantasizing about your craft. Or maybe, like me, you have a private fondness for the landscaping stores with all sorts of ground cover and rocks, neatly sorted into likened piles?

But if you're thinking about food, or sex, these thoughts are not dirty or bad. What a disservice I've done to myself by labeling ideas in such a way. My Ayurvedic practitioner says the poisonous thoughts I think while I'm eating will do more damage than the nature of the thing itself, even if I'm eating hot dogs and cotton candy.

I have found this idea to feel true.

The trick is what I allow to become me, and what I let pass through.

And, in truth, my work is to allow myself to eat, and forgive myself my trespasses and the pleasures I've denied myself by sealing off everything that ever touched the earth.

I love your dirty thoughts.

(for the record)

(so can you)


Santa Fe can’t help but be beautiful, even in her grief at the end of the day.

The end of my visit.

The doors. 

The doors feel like a boneyard in the low light, and I feel that, too. Ornate - exquisite - evidence of the storms they have held out, the weather they have survived.

(If only I could see the beauty of my own character in the same light.)

Yesterday a friend told me that I’m like Santa Fe in the following ways: quaint, unassuming, vibrant, sweet, savory, and wise.

Ok, then. I’ll take it. Try it on. You can have your perfect beach girls, I’ll proudly be a girl of the desert, with windy hair and freckles.

More beautiful for the storms I’ve weathered.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Good Old Days

I feel gross.

Have you ever had the moment - the rainy Saturday morning, perhaps - when you decided it was time to clean out the attic or the guest room closet? You put your hair up, start some uplifting, motivating music, and set to work?

It goes well for a few minutes - maybe a good hour - as you assemble a pile of things that no longer serve you, toss mismatched socks and the things that never fit, or will never fit again, because you're not the person you used to be?

(In so many ways)

Then you get to things like ticket stubs or photos you forgot to frame, the dress you wore That One Time, and you get a little wistful and teary.

(The good old days.)

And then... the shirt that belonged to That Guy, and the jewelry your grandmother gave you that is relatively hideous and unwearable, but still smells vaguely like her or her memory, and the painting supplies that you bought for the class you never took, the things you hid and denied from the world, and so on?

Pretty soon, you are in tears, with your life strewn haphazardly around you. All the things you thought you were and hoped you might be, along with some of your deplorable patterns and adorable coping mechanisms.

This is where I am in this moment. The un-packed-ness of the feelings and behaviors, anticipating the resentments that are somewhere on the shelf I won't get to until next month (at this rate). Wondering why I didn't open a good book, or start sharpening my knives, or some other meaningful and useful possibility.

The temptation to shove it all back into the closet is overwhelming. The Joy Lady says to take it all out, put it all on the floor, and I think that perhaps she is in cahoots with the Recovery People and my nemesis Bob Villa, who all seem to have the very, "You've got this!" sort of attitude.

(I'm not feeling very 'got this' surrounded by the fallout).

This is the part they don't picture in the brochures, the work that they do at the commercial breaks, the awkward adolescence of the process.

I want to bypass the sweaty and rageful yelling phase, where I Tell The Closet Who Is Boss, and swear to Never Buy Craft Supplies Again. It is a prayerful, tearful process this time as I get to the roots of why I hang onto horrible jewelry, and how the life I had planned will not be the life that I live.

I have found some solidarity recently, which is good. Because my closet has more than forgotten socks and iPhone Chargers of Yore... there are bones. Feelings. Half-drunk bottles of poison I ingested while hoping the other person would die. Which they didn't, mind you, because that isn't how poison works.

Shame, blame, and their sister despair, toe to toe with me and my Wild Ideas.

It is ugly, and feels bottomless, as each artifact lends another nuanced flavor of emotion. I have been afraid of all of them, shame in particular, who I had hoped would evaporate during the years of entombment.

The relief I felt when his things were carted off by the angels of Two Men and a Truck was palpable. It served as a distraction from the emptiness that remained, the things that have gathered dust in the name of place-holding. My house is filled with Things that have no meaning or significance to me, they are simply things that serve a purpose or disguise this dwelling as a home.

And this closet? This closet, and that one, and the one in my psyche? The 12 Steppers seem to know a thing or two about them that the yogis missed – that within them are the relics that will explain the emptiness, the worthlessness that I've been trying to address with Other People's Problems and work and selective focus.

And this time? I've done the Magical Thing, where I've asked for help, and accepted it. Which seems to be the secret tool to skillful unpacking – the off camera doulas who have Seen This Shit Before. Help says, keep going. Even if you feel gross. Even if shame had birthed kittens or gremlins in the interim. Even if anger and rage are buried landmines from battles won and lost, whose venom has rotted and intensified in the ensuing years.

Keep. Going.

So I am, and so are you. Because this is the work. If we don't, we'll be pulled under into the basement, rolled by some other crocodile, or burn the whole thing down and start again only to find the ghosts and the work have followed us.

I'm grateful for the gift of solidarity, the example of what life can look like when you Follow the Instructions, which, if you're assembling something from Ikea always start with “Find a man with a pencil behind his ear.”

Ask for Help.

(And accept it).

Let the Good Old Days rise again.

Friday, March 9, 2018


"Your Center is a place you can Trust."


My yoga teacher said this last night, and it took me down, the way only The Truth can. The internal tears waiting for the socially appropriate time of my drive home, when they escaped into the dark hollows of I-25, the route that has absorbed so much of my sorrow this past year.

There is inherent wisdom in me. God and The Universe, the angels and the star dust that is currently wandering around as this Thing Called Me have within them a compass that is set to my own destiny.

(Yours does, too).

I Fucked Up Royally this past weekend, operating against my internal truth, my own center for reasons that are mostly irrelevant to you, I'm sure. Normally I would spend a goodly amount of time punishing myself for this, feeling immense shame that I have hurt both myself and others. It would be untrue to say that I haven't Gone There in the past few days, berating myself. But I've also resisted the urge to flee from my mistakes, to cut ties and Start Over.

Rolf Gates asked me (and a few dozen other people): is there wisdom in this?

I think so. I think the wisdom in making mistakes is not necessarily running from them, but amending them. Recalibrating and staying in conversation. This is a thing that is new to me, and it is awkward and murky, like my recovery has been so far to date.

Recovery from codependency is obscure – it doesn't have some of the clear lines that surround other addictions. It doesn't make it easier or harder, I imagine, just different.

My experience of recovery from codependency is one millimeter at a time, one moment at a time, one interaction at a time. For awhile, I withdrew into the Joy Room and avoided dating (and men, truth be told). That was important. I've said I'm Ready a few times, with some hilarious and tragic results. I'm struggling to find the nuance that isn't full brake pedal or full gas pedal, but also isn't both at the same time.

(This weekend was both at the same time.)

My god, the effort.

I remember very little from that one time that Jon taught me to drive a manual transmission car on the Air Force Base parade grounds, but I think that it involves something like a third pedal that says – I'm ready for the next gear.

This is interesting to me today.



I'm learning to drive again, with new rules. It's clumsy, and the car stalls. And while I could get out and kick the tires, or give up and walk or just die where I am, I'm tuning in to the gifts of the past. The ghost of a man who had infinite patience. The teacher who said the right thing at the right time.

The highway home.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Time Out

I used to do this Thing.

(I did it yesterday).

The Thing I did? Make sure I don't get ahead. Contend for the silver medal. Work for it, and then stab myself in the foot six steps before the finish line.

Yesterday people Asked Me For Help, which is perhaps one way The Universe says - hey, girl, someone wants to hear from you. I swatted it down. Got a little bratty. Felt overwhelmed that people would come to me for help, especially for something as complex and nuanced as Relationship Advice.

I have marked my success with an outdated ruler, in centimeters and metric tons of logic, antiquated units rather than stepping into what I do know. What I do have to offer.

The Truths I know are these:

I had - and have - a wonderful relationship with The Ben, who was once my husband. We talk on Facetime at least once a week, and we stick to the promises we made That One Time we stood in front of the people: I'm here to support your spiritual growth, no matter what - and - you call, I answer.

We got divorced, because our relationship didn't fit into marriage shoes anymore. It evolved, it grew, it changed. But it doesn't mean we love one another less or more.

At the same time, I saw the horrible Facebook memory of yesterday. The last day of February last year was the day I said publicly, in the face of the terrible truth that was unleashed against my will, that a subsequent relationship was built on lies, manipulation, stalking, cheating, and Pride. I dropped off of Facebook, and said I needed Help, and that I didn't know what that Help was.

One. Two. Three.

Powerless, Came to Believe, Turned Over, like a dog in the street that said - someone - everyone - help me please.

How can one person have both experiences? In that order? On what authority can I offer you anything?

So instead of answering gracefully, I got snarky. Sarcastic. I tried to be witty and funny, but I also did a disservice to the wisdom I've been entrusted with. I'm afraid that the idea that some of you see me as Worthy inspires the automatic reaction of self-sabotage.

How adorable, right?

I'm writing to say I'm sorry, mostly to myself. Because I've worked, studied, and lived hard to earn the seat of the teacher, and all I've done is disgrace myself.

So tonight I get to sit with that - put myself in time-out and think.

What do I have to offer you?

A lot.

I'm not bad at relationships. I know a few things. Not everything, but enough that there are certainly a few nuggets worth sharing.

And you asked, so I'll answer.


Friday, February 23, 2018

A Year

One year ago I walked into an Al-anon meeting.

In the previous month, I'd been to all sorts of 12 step meetings, looking for my home. The pamphlets didn't describe me, or the people gaped at me - hungry eyes - fresh meat.

The last night of the year I ended up at an AA meeting, because an angel came and found me. I was there, wandering around the church annex looking for another meeting, but apparently I was the only one, and the loneliness of being stood up by other anonymous addicts in my tribe was intolerable.

A man popped out of the AA meeting down the hall, and asked if that's what I had been looking for. And when I said no, and he saw my face, he invited me in, they welcomed me home.

Hannah calls me an “honorary alcoholic,” not for this reason, but because the nature of my disease has the same ancestry. My delicate constitution has prevented me from ever truly overindulging in alcohol, but my spirit has always been insatiably thirsty in the same way.

(maybe yours has, too)?

It had started as a Distraction from the incredible pain of infertility, and it followed me to the Bahamas, to the ashram, where I was supposed to Get Clear and Get Healed, or at least insulate myself from inflicting my poisonous thoughts and feelings into the healthy masses.

He shared Things with me that I've protected you from, that I'll continue to protect you from, and allow the spirit of the Thing to find you from between my words, if you're so inclined.

I sat there, night after night, in dark meditation, surrounded by 300 strangers and the sweet song of the Caribbean, convinced I had been infected.

(And I had been, just not with a disease for which there is a pill.)

My self-worth eroded by infertility, my resilience depleted, I had become the perfect host.

Infected by addiction.

The years that followed were the worst of my life, because I was simultaneously consumed by how much I despised myself and how much his behavior was likely to kill me.

Am I hoping to live, or die?


All addiction breeds rage, which is fed by the shame, which continues to multiply with each uncontrollable grasping for The Thing that will never fill the hole.

It starts with, I Believe There Is A Hole In Me, and that there will be a Thing that will fill it. But it won't, not because it can't, but because the hole is a lie. It is a ghost – an apparition.

And it's hungry.

My addiction became him, his behavior, his pathological inability to find or speak The Truth, and I was lost. Consumed by tracking, by living a double-life, a deranged fulfillment of my Sherlock-ian roots, my anthropological leanings, my stubbornness.

The strong female leads of my childhood, gone seriously wrong.

He left. I left. There were lines in the sand.

The people of Al-anon sat with me in the dark moments, hearing the horror stories bleached of unsavory details, and nodded. Saying things about hope, and courage, and focusing inwards. We have been lost, too, their eyes said. Some of us lose ourselves on the daily. And yet we believe you can find you again, as we have also found ourselves on this path.

This past year has been about Me – this next year will be about Me. It started with realizing that there was never a hole, that this was simply the topography of my garden. Then a fence, then weeding, and now intentional planning. Fence maintenance. Ongoing weeding. Nurturing What Comes Next.

Alice so plainly spoke it, the sentiment of my Sisters in Al-anon, “When you can't look on the bright side, I will sit with you in the dark.”

Thank you, my unknown darlings, who heard my desperation and didn't try once to fix it. You simply sat outside and watched me build my own fence. Clear my own wreckage.

Build my new life.

Friday, February 16, 2018


I have been Thinking a lot about the school shooting situation, scrolling through the debates on my news feed.

Is it mental health? Antiquated gun laws? Modern weaponry? Video games? Absent parents? Overburdened school administrations? Astrological phenomena?


As a perpetual overthinker, I have to remind myself that sometimes it is possible to solve a problem without knowing the answer, without naming the culprit, leaving the why unanswered.

I graduated from high school the year of the Columbine Massacre. My mother and I were having lunch only a few miles away as all emergency vehicles in the state drove past us. We said a prayer for whatever terrible accident may have happened, and went home.

When we got there, I turned on the TV to chill out for an hour before going to a play rehearsal at school.

But the same thing was on every channel.

It was a defining moment, as the bleeding boy fell from the second story window (he was my Spanish teacher's nephew, in fact).

What in the everloving FUCK is going on?

A Moment.

My brother stopped wearing black that day.

(I stopped sleeping).

I can remember the trauma, the terror, the tectonic shift in the infrastructure of my psyche as I thing I hadn't been prepared for secretly took my mental health down six notches.

I'm glad we're thinking about it. I'm glad you're thinking about it. I don't have the answers, because God did not issue me a rule book with my Yoga Teacher Training certificate, and I wasn't able to divine answers through months at the ashram.

Thinking about it is good. Praying about it is good. Talking about it is good.

Fighting about it is not.

We are all in agreement about this: Children Should Not be Shot at School Ever.

So let us start there. And pray, if that's what you've got. Say something, if you have something to share. Act if you're able to act. Manage the carnage by voting, marching, surrendering and destroying your weapons. These are not my ideas, Martin Luther King Junior and Jesus said these things.

Using your magic for good, rather than for evil.

Or distraction.

Let's find a solution, and let our children and theirs figure out why it worked.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Holidays. Trigger. The. Fuck. Out. Of. Me.

Oh, you too?

Welcome, friends.

Romantic love has not gone well for me, historically. I'm good at friend love (and boundaries), sibling love. Puppy love.

But romance?

I've built a healthy 90 foot wall around it. With a moat. Barbed wire. Maybe a few feral pigs with oozies.


I've worked as hard as I could, while always feeling like a disappointment. Paid with money, time, and service for neglectful love. Lost my self in abusive love.

I've considered cats, but I'm allergic. Which might not be worse, but I do still think so. Plus they smell.

(and are cats)


My therapist and my 12 step group tell me that I Have Needs That Only Other People Can Fulfill. Like romantic love. Connection. Affection.

I agree, even though I don't want to.

So I'm Making An Effort.

After eight months of walling myself off in the joy room, six months of truly unfortunate and confused "dating," I'm considering Not Dressing Like A Pirate (preparing for the worst, like being boarded in the night by bigger, badder pirates). Assembling my skills from the reading and observing of healthy relationships, and therapy, and watching every single Global Glue Project interview and Recovery 2.0 interview, and adding them to my Faith, a thing that was born 14 months ago, that I lean on when it feels like the world and the internet are collapsing.

Today hit me with all of the Triggers, like the unwanted advances, the changes of plans, and the internet collapsing. And The Ben, telling me he's learned from What Went Wrong with us, and that he's Not Making The Same Mistakes This Time.

That This One is Worth Fighting For.


(How I'd love to believe I'm Worth Fighting For).

And that's the side of the street that I get to own. Who wants to fight for a pirate, who has isolated herself behind a moat and clenched teeth?

My work is in smiling - letting the light in.

More worth, less adversary, less conquest.


Sunday, February 11, 2018


I've snuggled up with my laptop all day, diving into a mountain of work while my anxiety lurks on the other end of the couch.

For a long time I thought we were the same person - that her constant nagging to Just Keep Moving was part of what made me who I am - someone who has a hard time sitting still, who gets things done, and doesn't let an email go unanswered.

Except I wasn't always this way.

I remember times not so long ago when I would sit and read books for hours on Sundays, watching the snow fall. I would snooze on the couch at my parents' house, or snore while my husband played video games all day.

She was quieter then.

Some circumstances unfolded in my life that gave her a better hold, moved her closer to the inner circles of my mind, and eventually handed her the keys and the steering wheel.

She drives fast, in a state of near panic, trying to outrun the things that scare me. Like aging, infertility, death.


Her keen sense of smell is better than mine - she does a fantastic job of scaring off would-be suitors by any means necessary, because the last one got too close and singed and amputated more nerves than I would have thought survivable.

She's been trying to protect me.

She did her best, but she's unskilled.

And I don't need her help anymore.

I've spent fourteen months uncurling her fingers from the steering wheel, placing her at arm's length, at the other end of the couch. Sometimes she's like a puppy, trying to crawl back into my lap for attention and affection, and I have to lovingly pick her up and relocate her, encouraging her to Stay for a few more minutes.

Sometimes she gets ahold of my phone and sends frantic texts, which is embarrassing, but it's happening less often.

She's getting better.


Because I'm getting better. I have to dedicate myself to it every single day. Remind myself that the tiger in my mind has only as much control as I give it. That it is a ghost of a tiger that used to be - a tiger I used to be.

And that her services are no longer required.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


I turned off my phone last night.

At first I couldn't even remember how to do it... not that it should be difficult, the darn thing has two buttons... but still. I can't remember the last time I turned it all the way off.

Me too, I thought.

I can't remember the last time when I turned myself all the way off. The last time I was unreachable.

The Universe listened, as she tends to do, with most of the texts that came in over the night cancellations of obligations today. Meetings where I would have had to Listen Deeply or Bare Parts of My Soul that might still be catching their breath from the marathons of the past five or so years, since I've been outrunning the grief and healing that were seeking me.

And I slept – with interruption, mind you – for twelve hours. I woke up and cried a few times, too. Echos of the unanswered cries from 37 years ago, feeling unreasonably far from everyone I love, but with quite a few more tools than I used to have.

(And none of them The Phone).

Monday I went to a meeting of The People In My Shoes, whose stories are different shades of my own. How can it be so simultaneously healing and terrifying to hear that the fears and behaviors I've adopted have shared roots?

That the other women in the room are lost in the same confusion – how did I love someone so much that I'd let them do this to me?

It is tempting to look at What Was Wrong With Him, but it's a fools errand. Because I give zero fucks about what happens to him, and that's the truth. That's his job, or the job of society, to hold him accountable for the terror he has unleashed.

My job is to find the weak spot in me, the deepest root of this weed, the unanswered cries in the night that he responded to. And respond to them.

I am an example of the damage caused by generations of cry-it-out.

By Big Girl Pants.

Take a good, long look.

(I wrote a book about it)

My mother did the best she could, as did her mother. And now I get to Do The Work of understanding the roots, unearthing them, and healing them. Putting myself back to sleep, rather than distracting myself with The Needs of Others.

No one can or will complete you.

(except you).

Monday, January 15, 2018


Facebook just reminded me that today is my birthday... you know... in case I forgot?

I have loved seeing the wishes come in from the other side of the world, watched the sun rise in Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, South America, North America.

The power of technology, used for good. 


There is a man I love. A man mowed down for the power of his peaceful words. They mean more to me each year.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that."



You are a vehicle for this light, right now. In this moment. In each moment. It's easy to forget - I forget it every six seconds.

I was in line at Costco yesterday, buying coffee and a suitcase, swarmed by carts overloaded with children eating samples. And the darkness rose up. The sadness. The desperation of self-pity.

Costco is the cruelest of places.

I wanted to go home and cry - sink back into bed and let the darkness wash over me.

But instead I phoned a friend. I ate lunch. I stretched my mothering muscles in another way. Had dinner with a kindred spirit, sent another to the beach on my behalf. Told my parents I loved them, reached out in all directions.


I am not in charge in this life, a fact I dislike immensely until it comes time to send out warnings of inbound ballistic missiles, and then I'm entirely grateful.

The darkness is here. It is all around. The universe is made of darkness.

And you?

You are made of light 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Things You Cannot Teach

“Some things you cannot teach, only learn.” - my friend Zreba

I'm on the eve of 37, and just realized I never wrote a birthday post last year. Last year, I woke up one month into working full time for Tommy Rosen, and DJ brought me a gift as I started the kettle for tea.

I had intended to go to New Mexico, as I had intended to go this weekend, and instead found myself facing a day off in Venice, by myself, for my birthday. Instead of bounding off to go and play with his local friends, DJ asked me what I wanted to do, and took me to the beach. He took quite a few pictures of me (which I'll forgive) but otherwise gave me space to contemplate the completion of another year - one no one promised me.

It's funny, to think back, isn't it?

Knowing what ultimately unfolded?

These men have been my guardian angels, watching me re-emerge from the wreckage of my own burned out, self-destructive, worthless ways.

(maybe you have, too?)

36 was a Year of Sadhana. Chanting. Phoning a friend. Al-anon. Home Improvement. Therapy. Letters I wrote and sent to Hannah instead of the intended recipient(s). Eating on most days. Crying on most days. Making My Bed.

(Not in that order).

I graduated from cambio, a place I feel does good in the world, who no longer needed my energy and effort. I graduated from Enso, a place I helped build, whose community became so nurturing and so painful – everything I ever wanted – a place for mothers and babies who instead reflected back to me my own emptiness.

I wrote a book about love, and all of the different ways I tried (and failed) to be The Right Woman. A primer on the ways I've defined my self worth and sought to heal one relationship with others.

(It's also hilarious).

Last week, I started on book two, because I cannot help myself. I'd rather be in the desert right now, alternately soaking in healing mineral springs and wandering west towards the mica mines, a place where it looks like God dropped a mirror and sprinkled the hillside with glitter. But I needed to be still. To work from my own bed, my perch above the burned out hills and the coyotes in the canyon.

Last year I was an infant in recovery, just a few weeks new and still near sighted. I needed loving care and regular monitoring.

Sometimes I get lost in the minutia – the steps and missteps I've taken along the way. I forget the miracle of all miracles, which is that I was born.


The woman who cannot successfully get onto an airplane with a roll-a-board suitcase and a latte without The Kindness of Strangers.

The woman who can look you square in the eyes and champion you birthing or dying but cannot accept a compliment without turning 100 shades of red and choking back tears and vomit.

The woman who looks in the mirror and thinks (simultaneously) I have some redeeming qualities. I meet some of these beauty standards. And. It's a good thing you're smart, Kwinn, because you're rotting on the vine.

(Hannah reminds I have nothing to be redeemed for – and some things are better with age.)

I have believed that my love is a weapon, a cause of suffering for anyone in the wake, and so I've tried to keep it within the exoskeleton of the cage I've built around me. I have been sorry for existing, for the inconvenience I've caused. And I have so wanted to be seen, for who I am – a bumbling idiot with sexy defense mechanisms, a malnourished heart, and a few morsels of things to offer. Compassion and eye contact.

I'm such a toddler. Needing a rest and fighting against it. Except for me, the rest in question is human connection. Come at me, and I'll bury my head. Run away, and I'll follow.

The things I will do for a hug.

This year I'm publishing The Book. Finishing a few more. Buying an airstream and going to the beach. Sitting by the fire by myself and letting love come to me.

Last year was the dress rehearsal.

This year, the reveal.

It may have taken 37 years to get here, and that's ok.

Some things you cannot teach, you can only learn.

Friday, January 12, 2018


I overslept again, which I know because I woke the first time before the sun and stayed in bed. Drifted back into wonderland where three men in my life collided in a frantic attempt to get back from India and settled into a place that was full of secret passageways and did not feel like home.

This is the language my body uses to tell me – with greater certainty – that it is time to get up. That laying in among the sheets is a recipe for getting lost in the gnarled and dark passageways of my mental illness. That I'll wake tangled in sheets and grief, both hot and cold, wondering where the easy nights of sleep and youth have gone.

The Universe it seems is cashing in on the nights I powered through, the tempestuous spending of the trust fund of my energy. Many of these expenditures were indulgences in love and full moon walks on the beach, others binge-watching Dexter and horror stories.

Rather than bounding out of bed, I kept score, weighing myself with the communications that came in during the night – and those that did not. I feel like the coastline of California – first ravaged by fire and then drowned by the storms that we prayed for, that always seem to come a week late.

The rain is so fast and so soon after the fire that it changes the very shape of the earth, tearing away what was once a piece of the massive part of gravity that keeps us from floating off into space.

How is this possible?

I cried a lot last year – many sleepless nights spent burried in the misery of my past, unpacking one memory at a time. Tears that came years too late, after the burned out soil had hardnened over and was no longer able to accept the healing of the waters. But somehow, something softened me, just a little, just at the edges, near the roots.

Rain in the desert runs off and away, and only soaks in when it finds a safe place to land and rest.

I would like to be a safe place to rest.

In Search of Water.