Category Archives: Musings

On Motherhood


What do you wish someone had told you before you had kids?

All the planning in the world cannot prepare you for becoming a mother. Even if you received too much advice from other moms while you were pregnant, you only realize this fact after you give birth—not a moment prior.

You will take pictures and videos—lots of them. From hearing the whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of your baby’s heartbeat to grasping ultrasound pics in hand to your husband’s photo capture of you with a tear streamed face holding your precious baby in your arms for the first time to waving good-bye at the bus stop while your stomach lurches to your daughter going to her first middle school dance to talking about the birds and bees to waking up one day and your son is grown-up, you will capture every important moment with a snapshot and/or video clip—and then some.

Real parenting is not your friends’ Facebook shares. Facebook is not the real world. Seeing highlights of your friends’ exaggerated posts, whether it’s viewing pictures of their little ones who are reading novels by the age of 3, potty trained by age 2 using the M&M’s method (it does work sometimes), or playing concertos at age 4, isn’t necessarily reality—even though the photos may be cute. Reality is:  little ones will become preteens, next teens, and then they will go off to live their own lives. Your heart may feel like breaking but you will be proud—so proud. Welcome to the real world and celebrate every moment.

You will always be a mother. This reality will never change no matter how large your son’s shoes are or how your daughter towers over you in heels or if your kids become chefs, police officers, teachers, or parents themselves or if they adorn their bodies with tattoos or piercings or if they grow their hair out and join rock bands—whatever. After the umbilical cord is cut, you are forever mom. If you are lucky, you will become grandmom at some point. Love will never be in short supply.

You won’t ever be the same—never ever. From the moment you find out that you are carrying a life inside you, the ground will careen under you, you may see stars, and you will free fall into a love that no life alert call could rescue you from. You wouldn’t want to be rescued. You fall hard and thank God every day for it.

You are a mother. Imperfect at best yet filled with love so consuming that its presence is like breathing. You wouldn’t have it any other way.

To my mom, I know now–and I appreciate everything you are to me. You are the best. To my beautiful children, you will always be mine. I adore you.


Always remember

There are times we are compelled to ride waves of emotion as they appear—whether we want to or not. Tonight is one of those times. I am as ready as I ever will be. I trust my doctor, the medical staff and my own body’s capability of healing. Yet there are these thoughts and feelings that accompany this process that I can’t just brush away. Actually, I am surprised by them since they seemed to have quietly surfaced when I wasn’t paying attention.

I have had some exciting moments in my life like learning how to ride my bike with no hands or making my first meal from scratch and having everything turn out not burned tasty or holding my nephew and niece as babies or making Dean’s list or co-authoring a book or meeting the Dalai Lama.

However, none have compared to the births of my two beautiful children. I can still remember what it felt like to have them kick inside my belly, the late night tangerine raids as cravings hit, looking at their little faces for the first time, the  nights cradling a sick baby and all of the precious time spent watching them emerge into the incredible people they are. I wouldn’t change a thing.

This is the end of an era of sorts. While I knew that 2 was the perfect number of children for me and I am no longer as young as I sometimes feel, there’s something about knowing that this is it—it’s done, over, kaput. Along with the knowing are twinges and hauntings that serve as flashbacks and we wonder, “Has that much time really passed?” “Are we really about halfway done with our lives?” “Can our kids really be teens?”

So we look to the future. I will still have the capacity to give birth—just in a different way. My muses still gaze at me from a close distance, swirling words and ideas and metaphors into my heart and carrying me along on their whimsical flight. I will feel the contractions once more and know the fiery love and intense passion that birthing brings, and I will remember, always remember.


The sooner we learn to be jointly responsible, the easier the sailing will be.
~Ella Maillart

My uncle loves to sail. He is a highly intelligent man and knowledgeable in many subjects including art (he is an artist), philosophy, literature, technology, writing, and, yes, the thorn in my side, computers. Sailing appears to be one of the most freeing experiences one can encounter in life. To be out on the water sounds incredible and calming and exhilarating (especially to someone who has no sea legs and turns a ghastly shade of green).

Since most objects or experiences can be life metaphors, sailing is no different. While feelings of bliss and joy come from feeling the sea beneath us (so I’ve heard) or looking out over the vast expanse of sparkling waters on a clear day, a dark side of nature exists. Seasoned sailors are aware of this reality. They are prepared and ready to battle it, if necessary, in order to survive. This knowledge is in the forefront of their minds at all times.

How similar is life with sunny days cast suddenly into shadow or unexpected summer storms that arrive with fury. We don’t have to be sailors to respect nature and life. We can live knowing, that at any moment, we might have to fight to survive, that the feelings of bliss we are encountering, at the moment, might end, that we have to be in the now, in the present, to taste life, breathe it in, let it fill our senses, to appreciate it. We try to not let the storms take away our sunlight. We get our life legs under us and stand, sometimes, kneel, and, other times, fall.

Yet, we keep on and, in the keeping on, learn what we must, that which comes from not giving up easily, refusing not to deceive ourselves, being honest, knowing that, in some aspects of our lives, we steer our own ships, saying “I’m sorry” when we mess up, forgiving, having awareness of ourselves and others, appreciating the azure skies (however fleeting) and even the billowing thunderheads that remind us that life is change, and that we bring about positive or negative effects depending on our actions, words, and life views.

(Uncle, if you’re reading this, I hope one day to sail with you. It  doesn’t have to be a long trip. I’d be thrilled to make it a short time without feeling sick. In that moment, I hope to experience the feelings of freedom and peace and exhilaration you encounter out on the water.) 

Banned Book List: Rebels, Read!

For you, book rebels, here is a list of this century’s top 100 banned books according to Radcliffe Publishing. Happy reading!

  1. The Great Gatsbyby F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. The Catcher in the Ryeby J.D. Salinger
  3. The Grapes of Wrathby John Steinbeck
  4. To Kill a Mockingbirdby Harper Lee
  5. The Color Purpleby Alice Walker
  6. Ulyssesby James Joyce
  7. Belovedby Toni Morrison
  8. The Lord of the Fliesby William Golding
  9. 1984by George Orwell
  10. The Sound and the Furyby William Faulkner
  11. Lolitaby Vladmir Nabokov
  12. Of Mice and Menby John Steinbeck
  13. Charlotte’s Webby E.B. White
  14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Manby James Joyce
  15. Catch-22by Joseph Heller
  16. Brave New Worldby Aldous Huxley
  17. Animal Farmby George Orwell
  18. The Sun Also Risesby Ernest Hemingway
  19. As I Lay Dyingby William Faulkner
  20. A Farewell to Armsby Ernest Hemingway
  21. Heart of Darknessby Joseph Conrad
  22. Winnie-the-Poohby A.A. Milne
  23. Their Eyes Were Watching Godby Zora Neale Hurston
  24. Invisible Manby Ralph Ellison
  25. Song of Solomonby Toni Morrison
  26. Gone with the Windby Margaret Mitchell
  27. Native Sonby Richard Wright
  28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nestby Ken Kesey
  29. Slaughterhouse-Fiveby Kurt Vonnegut
  30. For Whom the Bell Tollsby Ernest Hemingway
  31. On the Roadby Jack Kerouac
  32. The Old Man and the Seaby Ernest Hemingway
  33. The Call of the Wildby Jack London
  34. To the Lighthouseby Virginia Woolf
  35. Portrait of a Ladyby Henry James
  36. Go Tell it on the Mountainby James Baldwin
  37. The World According to Garpby John Irving
  38. All the King’s Menby Robert Penn Warren
  39. A Room with a Viewby E.M. Forster
  40. The Lord of the Ringsby J.R.R. Tolkien
  41. Schindler’s Listby Thomas Keneally
  42. The Age of Innocenceby Edith Wharton
  43. The Fountainheadby Ayn Rand
  44. Finnegans Wakeby James Joyce
  45. The Jungleby Upton Sinclair
  46. Mrs. Dallowayby Virginia Woolf
  47. The Wonderful Wizard of Ozby L. Frank Baum
  48. Lady Chatterley’s Loverby D.H. Lawrence
  49. A Clockwork Orangeby Anthony Burgess
  50. The Awakeningby Kate Chopin
  51. My Antoniaby Willa Cather
  52. Howards Endby E.M. Forster
  53. In Cold Bloodby Truman Capote
  54. Franny and Zooeyby J.D. Salinger
  55. The Satanic Versesby Salman Rushdie
  56. Jazzby Toni Morrison
  57. Sophie’s Choiceby William Styron
  58. Absalom, Absalom!by William Faulkner
  59. A Passage to Indiaby E.M. Forster
  60. Ethan Fromeby Edith Wharton
  61. A Good Man Is Hard to Findby Flannery O’Connor
  62. Tender Is the Nightby F. Scott Fitzgerald
  63. Orlandoby Virginia Woolf
  64. Sons and Loversby D.H. Lawrence
  65. Bonfire of the Vanitiesby Tom Wolfe
  66. Cat’s Cradleby Kurt Vonnegut
  67. A Separate Peaceby John Knowles
  68. Light in Augustby William Faulkner
  69. The Wings of the Doveby Henry James
  70. Things Fall Apartby Chinua Achebe
  71. Rebeccaby Daphne du Maurier
  72. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxyby Douglas Adams
  73. Naked Lunchby William S. Burroughs
  74. Brideshead Revisitedby Evelyn Waugh
  75. Women in Loveby D.H. Lawrence
  76. Look Homeward, Angelby Thomas Wolfe
  77. In Our Timeby Ernest Hemingway
  78. The Autobiography of Alice B. Tokiasby Gertrude Stein
  79. The Maltese Falconby Dashiell Hammett
  80. The Naked and the Deadby Norman Mailer
  81. Wide Sargasso Seaby Jean Rhys
  82. White Noiseby Don DeLillo
  83. O Pioneers!by Willa Cather
  84. Tropic of Cancerby Henry Miller
  85. The War of the Worldsby H.G. Wells
  86. Lord Jimby Joseph Conrad
  87. The Bostoniansby Henry James
  88. An American Tragedyby Theodore Dreiser
  89. Death Comes for the Archbishopby Willa Cather
  90. The Wind in the Willowsby Kenneth Grahame
  91. This Side of Paradiseby F. Scott Fitzgerald
  92. Atlas Shruggedby Ayn Rand
  93. The French Lieutenant’s Womanby John Fowles
  94. Babbittby Sinclair Lewis
  95. Kimby Rudyard Kipling
  96. The Beautiful and the Damnedby F. Scott Fitzgerald
  97. Rabbit, Runby John Updike
  98. Where Angels Fear to Treadby E.M. Forster
  99. Main Streetby Sinclair Lewis
  100. Midnight’s Childrenby Salman Rushdie

J & G

Dear J and G,

Love is many things. It never fails. Missing you and thinking of you. My love will never quit. Up to heaven and back.



Without encountering manure and decay, we wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate a beautiful garden. We could plant seeds without preparing the soil. We could randomly drop them onto the ground without creating tiny holes and covering them up. We could forget to water them and pray for rain. We could wish that the sun wouldn’t bake them before they take root.

We could hope the seedlings that do sprout will survive without fertilizer. We could, because of convenience, make a pathway through them and believe that, despite our trampling, they will live. We could think that we will enjoy a great harvest if we just let them be. We could let our rakes, shovels and spades collect rust in the shed because gardens don’t really need muscle. We could let the weeds grow so tall and become so invasive that they begin to choke our plants.

Or we could get on our knees. We could get dirty. We could till the ground. We could carefully place them one by one in furrows and pat the soil on top of them. We could drag the watering can over again and again–no matter how cumbersome–and soak them.

We could plant them in a location where they will get just the right amount of sun. We could create a compost heap, be patient, try to ignore the smell and shovel black gold over them so they could thrive. We could go out of our way to take the longer path and walk around them. 


We could hope for a brilliant harvest but not expect perfection without any damage from pests or fungus. We could put our backs into it and use the tools we have to assist our baby shoots. We could repeatedly grab, pull and tug at those invasive weeds that threaten to overwhelm our plants. We could do all of these things if our garden is meaningful to us.

If we have even a speck of faith that the sun will come up each day, that falling waters quench thirst, that dirt–while making us feel unclean–can be washed off, our gardens will appear beautiful to us. We will see the loveliness and color as others see it.


And when we are too tired to plant, nurture, dig, pull, water, we will remember that all gardeners have periods when they get stuck on their knees in the mud or fall face down.  We could lay there for a while. Get a little strength back. Then we could try to stand or we could reach out for strong hands to pull us up.

We could begin to plant again–until we figure it out how it all works and how many seasons it takes to get it right. Eventually, we will harvest blossoms of success.

La famiglia è la patria del cuore

photo by dreamstime

Last night, I heard an often repeated Italian expression that, because of recent circumstances, means even more to me than it did four days ago. La famiglia è la patria del cuore or your family is the homeland of your heart. 

We, Americans, are familiar with the expression home is where the heart is. Basically, the same sentiment. No matter where we go or how many miles (or emotions) separate us or how long we are away or whether we nag, smile, bicker, or hug, la famiglia è la patria del cuore. Simple. 

I know how lucky I am to be a thread in this handcrafted fabric.  I am grateful beyond words that I have a dad and mom who have always loved me, protected me, wanted the best for me. That I have a brother who, no matter how little time we get to spend alone together, will always be my best friend. That, even when my children and I are apart, their hearts are safe within my heart. La famiglia è la patria del cuore. 

It’s how my ancestors lived, breathed, prayed, loved, ate, drank, slept. It’s the fundamental stitches my grandparents sewed that now entwine my heart with each of my family members’ hearts. La famiglia è la patria del cuore. It’s the sometimes imperfect loops that still include everything and everyone I am tied to. It’s my roots, my core, my center. La famiglia è la patria del cuore.

On the Flip Side

 A quick post in the throes of preparing, readying, prepping, steeling oneself for what lies ahead. Time, that elusive fate thrower, has taken aim and hurled darts this way, leaving us dodging left, right, up, down. Attempts to avoid the pain of biting steel punctures. Present has accelerated.  Near future breathes heavily on our necks. There is no inkling of what will be. No psychic knowledge. No spiritual prophesy. Just time and life and waiting plus that impenetrable shield of hope. See you on the flip side . . . .


Lately, I haven’t written much here. Not because words have eluded me but because life has been a deluge.

I have been umbrella-less, soaked, face upturned, eyes closed and experiencing a light drizzle matting down my hair. Other moments, being subjected to stinging, pelting torrents.

In between the tumultuous extremes, I have felt warmth breaking through the lumpy, gray clouds. The sensation of sunlight on my eyelids that have caused them to fly open.

When I have looked up through dampened lashes, I have glimpsed rainbows. Day after day after day. Not one or two or three, more like five or six. Extravagant jewels in the skies. At times, only a fragment of multi-colored hues, but rainbows just the same.

I have savored them, letting my gaze remain fixed on their transparent beauty. My emotions have soared amidst the slowly moving skyscape, flitting here and there, bathed in flecks of violet and indigo.

A sense of hope has permeated my spirit. There is no shaking it off, no angry skies that can blanket it, no lightening zig zags that can electrocute it.  Anticipation remains, expectant, receptive to whatever it is that is now concealed by a watery, dribbling mist.


Calgon and Chai?









Dear Friends,

Okay, I know I haven’t been too active on here and I’ve missed you all but you know how this thing called “life” works.  Many of you have also found yourselves bogged down with “stuff” and social networking AKA blogging is out for a bit.  There’s still a lot of “life” going on at the moment and a Calgon moment on a deserted island  (well, not completely deserted:  just a masseuse, gourmet chef, and a well-stocked library) would be much appreciated.  Instead, I will have to settle for a steaming mug of Chai (soy latte)Yes, coffee is still out (I’m holding up *barely* in case you were wondering).  I hope all has been well with you and, in case it hasn’t, here’s some positive thoughts via cyberspace.  Hoping for some tranquility and lulls. . .