This is Me Looking at Me Looking at Me

Full from our brunch of blueberries and a rhubarb-strawberry tart, we sat in the living room catching up. L. and B. were in town for a wedding. We were lucky enough to spirit them away for a few hours before they disappeared into the matrimonial machinery’s maw.

Their lives are complex, in a different rhythm from our own. Their reflections rich and resonant. B. asked how my life is different from “before”. The answer seemed easy: entirely.  My days were once filled with resolving differences – governance, budgetary, systemic, often personal – and overwhelmingly in the company of others. Five, six hours a day on the phone, the rest in meetings, large or small. Now, hours go by without a word to anyone but the bunny outside my window. I read, write, listen, think.

There’s where they converge, I suppose: in finding the connecting threads, listening for the hints of alignment, contemplating what’s next, and why. Ideation, intellection, input, strategy, learning. These things have not changed. I’m like a walking advertisement for StrengthsFinder.

~ ~ ~

poolThe problem with blogging, I think as I swim, is that it is terribly self-absorbed. Here I am swimming and all I am thinking about it how I will write about how I am swimming, what I notice, whether I’ll talk about goal setting, the light, or how much room for improvement there is in my strokes.

I’m all up in my head.

The sun is still low on the horizon and the pool is empty but for me and my ripples. I note the light on the surface, the birds in the trees, the cars in the distance. My breathing is getting ragged as the laps mount up — not that the number is so big. It is hard work with my gimpy shoulder.

I dip my head under and pull forward with deep strokes. Everything else slips away behind me. There is only me and the water. Immersed.

No longer in my head. Now, fully embodied.

~ ~ ~



I am listening to the morning unfold itself around me, stretching out cautiously to reach the rest of the day.

The rain is quiet, steady, so unlike the riotous storms of the evening. There was thunder, earlier, but it seems to have thought better of all that noise and upset.

The birds, too, are oddly subdued for the hour, although the occasional disgruntled chirp emerges, protesting, from the vines that choke a neighbor’s tree.

The planes must be taking off to the south, or not at all. The ritual rumble of early commutes is utterly absent.

A car, periodically. A car door, even, but less frequent.

Soft kitchen sounds as D. makes eggs and oatmeal. Silverware and microwaves speak loudest, most clearly.

In a bit there will be children’s chatter and the next-to-last school bus pick-up for the year, its grinding, weighty heft swallowing the little voices and laughter before it hauls them off.

And the rain patters on.

Back Story

Pops, This One’s for You

I have two notable fathers in my life, one who helped create me and one I helped create. I have the great good fortune of loving them both.

Last year, I found myself musing about my children’s father, my partner in an effort to bring two more fine young men into the world.  This year — no disrespect to you, D. — my thoughts are with my Dad, who is tending to his younger brother, half a planet away.

Flat JAlmost every day I send a short note and photograph of the “Flat Stanley” version of my uncle that accompanies me everywhere, my little missives pushing back against the daunting tedium of his diagnosis and surroundings. Smiling from a now well-creased blue sheet of paper, “Flat J.” has gone with me to the beach, the theater, the studio, on long walks and short errands. I’ve grown quite attached to his company. We talk. I laugh at his jokes. His humor is wry, his wit quick. Friends and total strangers alike have posed with him, every one of them grinning into the camera, thinking, perhaps, of someone else, far away, whom they love and may eventually mourn.

Somewhere in the weeks since this all began, I came to realize the pictures and messages are more than just notes to cheer J. They are also love notes to my father, expressions of a profound appreciation for his devotion, not just to his brother, but to me, and my brother, and all the other younger ones he’s ever taken under his warm and quirky wing.

I imagine his father would approve.

So for all the people who are fathers, or have had fathers, or may someday be fathers: Pops, this one is for you — Happy Fathers’ Day.




Choose to be Curious

Cultivating a Holy Curiosity

“A holy curiosity is…joy.”

Among the many pleasures of this Choose to be Curious enterprise are the rich and thoughtful conversations I get to have and share.

I ought not have been surprised by the elegant simplicity of Carolyn Richar’s closing thought (above). She had inspired me once before.  In fact, the whole show was lovely…contemplative, relevant regardless where you fall on the faith spectrum, juicy.

Listen to Episode 4 – Curiosity, Spirituality and Faith here.

Back Story

How I Came to Be Drawing on the Right Side of My Brain

Another fabulous June day, another chance to hang with my new tribe.

Gathered in a picnic pavilion and bonding over burgers and waaay too many cookies, fellow community media fans and I traded stories of how we’d found our way to that rarefied space.  I recounted the now familiar: I heard a presentation, that inspired me to give one of my own, after which I learned about the station, whence I was trained, and from which have emerged 1,2,3 shows (#4, up this week!).

Everyone had a wonderful, circuitous route to share. It made for a good afternoon.

This evening, at home, alone, I picked up my personal thread:…1,2,3 shows…and as I work on more, I read a lot, which led me (back) to Dan Pink, who wrote about Betty Edwards, who paved the way for a whole lot of people to give themselves permission to pick up pencils…

Which is how I came to be drawing on my right brain, capturing my left hand, thinking: it’s as good a place to start as any…




I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’


I got plenty of nothing
And nothing’s plenty for me

I was just not feeling it today, folks.

Yesterday, either, for that matter.

Then, as I was about to give in and give up, I happened to catch Science Friday, my favorite car time mind candy. There they were, talking about Google Doodles, of all things, and the sheer joy of doing something because it pleases you and lets you tickle your own damn geeked-out whimsy bone.

So suddenly, on this glorious June day, I have Gershwin on the brain, in stereo, belted out by a crazy combination of Ella Fitzgerald and my father.

I like my whimsy bone. It  reminds me I have so much more than nothing…

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush little baby, Don’t you cry One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that morning, there ain’t nothin’ can harm you
With Daddy and Mammy standin’ by Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush little baby, Don’t you cry

One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that morning, there ain’t nothin can harm you
With Daddy and Mammy standin’ by


Back Story

Authenticity and a Second Anniversary

The past week was marked by three events that have converged for me: the death of Muhammad Ali; a respectful, spirited dust-up between Brene Brown and Adam Grant; and the second anniversary of the surgery that confirmed and removed my endometrial cancer, taking all my “girl parts” with it.

The unifying theme is the dust-up’s focus: authenticity.  What is it? When are we fully occupying that rarified space? Who decides when we’re authentically authentic?

I was a kid when Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali. My father had Clay’s album I Am the Greatest. I didn’t remember anything about it other than the fact impressed me at the time. Whatever else you want to say about Ali  — and with all the eulogies it’s easy to forget he was once both wonderfully unifying and wildly polarizing  — I have always believed he was uniquely authentic. A boastful, unbeatable pugilist; devout and determined; eventually, boundless humility cruelly constrained.  Authentic – and evolving. He knew who he was.

Brene Brown  and Adam Grant, two people whose work I very much admire and enjoy, have been waging a highly civil battle in social media on the topic of authenticity. I’m not sure to which side I fall, but I have loved the debate — the genuine, thoughtful, engaged, authentic debate… how refreshing…authentic

And then there is me, and my new normal, and trying to stay authentic in this space, as in life. I appreciate the reminders that Ali, Brown and Grant provide. It is a fight we should all be waging – gloves off, all in, eyes on the prize, battling with everything we’ve got for our authentic selves.


Choose to be Curious, Uncategorized

This is Your Brain on Curiosity

Some things are just plain fun. And when Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is involved, everything is fun.  Episode 3 of “Choose to be Curious” was no exception.

What a hoot to have Dr. Jill on the line for half an hour talking brains…

Listen to “Choose to be Curious” Episode 3 – This is Your Brain on Curiosity.