On Throwbacks



Yesterday was a throwback.  To nine years ago when we got out of the spa, and I asked him to leave.  My boys were in 3rd and 1st grade.  But he had to go.  And I had to learn how to single-handedly make sure that my boys were okay.

To having hot meals for breakfast, even if I was tired.  And packed lunches, even though I had gotten up at 4am to train for the marathons.  To being on welfare and putting out bowls of carrots and raisins and crackers just so it would look like we had a lot.  To boiling a vanilla stick and cinnamon to give the impression that I had always been at home waiting for them.  To getting in every sport, to finding good men to talk with them, to giving them driving lessons on the freeway, even when they said they couldn’t do it.

To when she pointed me in every direction, crying with me, helping me pick up the pieces, pointing me to service, to sponsorship, to moving jobs in order to retain my sobriety.

Many times I have written about this.

And throwbacks.  Sometimes I like them.  When I look good, when I remember fun times, when I want to re-live a cool connection in an art gallery, on a San Francisco street walking through Korea town, then the Castro, then the Japanese festival, then ending up overlooking the ocean. When I took a wrong turn and spent the evening with some amazing people.

And then there’s yesterday.

When I went to both of them and said I hope that I always listened to you.  I hope you know that when you cried, I cried.  And these amazing, talented, smart boys both said they were fine.  They were good.  That it was hard, but they were good.  That this experience made them who they are.  And I don’t know if I believed them.

So.  I made a throwback hamburger steak & gravy & onions.  I sent them out with ice cream and home made cookies.  They did homework.  This warm bungalow.  The hardwood floors.  The hand washing of the dishes, listening to the hum of this place. This good house.

Sometimes I like Throwbacks.  Just not yesterday.

So I hope when they selectively remember this day, I hope they remember eating hot blueberry pancakes and crisp bacon, and laughing at Living La Vida Loca as it booms through the living room of this small place.  This living room that doubles as an office, and den, and kitchen.  So small that we are just forced to be together.

Love to all.  Happy #tbt

Thank You 

10,000 Reasons

A big God. A big heart. A sponsor louder than my head. Inventory. 

Loving the program that saved my life. Realizing how wonderfully flawed I am. 

Ashamed of nothing. 

I Didn’t Know Until Now.

“Don’t be afraid; people are so afraid; don’t be afraid to live in the raw wind, naked, alone…Learn at least this: What you are capable of. Let nothing stand in your way.”

Tony Kushner, Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approach

Readers.  I’ve been gone.  I haven’t written for months.  

It’s taken me this day to realize just exactly what happened in 2015, and the only one I’ve come up with is…Can’t.

I can’t blog.  I can’t run.  I can’t do this again.

All year long, I said things like, “When you hit 55, it all goes downhill, fast.”  “It’s too cold to run in the morning.”  “My running days are over.” “I definitely don’t want a relationship anymore.”  “When your skin is this old, every day is scarf season.” “Maybe I had my shot at love already.” “I like to move into a new job every year or so.” “I don’t want to write this blog anymore.”

All year long, in all of my writing, I start to accept the notion that I am well on my way out.  All of the things that I love, I simply put down.  I think I was getting ready to be old… dead?

But I didn’t know until now that I was feeling this.  Until I saw this video this morning.  I met Billy on Twitter, seemingly a million years ago. Back when I was hungry, and hung on every word that runners said, what my coach said.  Because then…I wanted it, and wanted it badly.  Back when I was completely engaged and excited with my 50 year old self, running my first marathon.  I didn’t realize how masterfully this man could weave not only a story, but could also ignite a desire for life in me on this New Year’s Day.

Get a cup of tea.  This is a must watch.

I spent the morning of January 1 as I always do.  In reflection.  And I realized that if saying “can’t” to everything was working, then I would be satisfied.  And.  I am so. Not.

Then I saw the video.  I cried all the way through it, because I somehow knew what was coming.  What I didn’t plan on was the overwhelming realization that I gave 2015 a big…pause.  A big shrug of the shoulder and acceptance, erroneously, that my time at the table was done.

So.  I got a pen.  A piece of scratch paper.  I started writing.  Throwing out my pathetic, self centered journal writing from this year.  And.  I started to focus.  I wrote goals.  Crossed things out.  Smiled at some recollections of a hungry runner.

It’s not pretty, but here it is.  The short list for 2016.

  1. Run a race.  Any race, of any type.  I’m a road runner, but if it’s a trail, well.  I guess I’ll be running that.
  2. Stay purposefully single.  Stay where I am.  Lean in to this relationship-less path.
  3. Embrace my colleagues, and go with their purpose.  I’m at a New Year’s Eve party, and get in a corner with another teacher, and realize.  I love to teach.
  4. Swim.  More laps.  And in those laps, meditation.  More of this.
  5. Enjoy my age.  I will be 57 next month.  It’s time I enjoy it, laugh, wear scarves, understand that just because I’m 57, well.  It’s just an age.
  6. Keep loving my tribe.  All of them.

I start.  Today.




This is my Prozac.

I swim.

I’m not even a swmmer.

I can do a front stroke thingy, and I can do a backstroke, and a crawl. And I do that 18 times for a half a mile. And somehow, it calms me.

Because in a week where I felt some solid ground, the cracks and the fissures I had ignored started to get my attention.

I’m highly anxious this morning. So, I will take my medicine one lap at a time. 

I’m not a swimmer.

Take A Breath, Already. 

Whatever happened to having no direction? I’m not talking about the dude at 25 that still hasn’t decided what he wants in his life…I mean there’s a limit. Maybe. I’m talking about students. Graduating seniors, particularly. Those of you listening to speeches about finding your dream, living your life with purpose. You guys.

I mean. Get lost. Really get lost. Don’t go confidently in the direction of your dreams. You’re 18. Make mistakes. Break stuff. Risk your stupid heart. Because what really makes a whole adult is the canvas of all those errors, coupled with pluck and verve. You gotta have that …to make a change.

I was at a High School Graduation party last week, and this recently graduated dude had his community college all mapped out, coupled with going to Berkeley after that, assuming he still has the same idea at 22 that he does at 19. What he didn’t factor in were the people he would meet, the new things he would learn to do, the inspiration that might come from a different place.

My own direction-less college life took a turn down a path with no lights. I went to school to be a nurse, but completely avoided that road at the first sign of a naked 85 year old cadaver. I bolted out of that pre-nursing major as quickly as I could.

Then. No direction.

Because one night, I found myself at the Sheep Unit with Jim Simms, drinking wine coolers and dancing the Honky Tonk to Boston’s More Than A Feeling, while waiting for a lamb to be born. And the drinking, well that’s another story. But I completely would have missed this aggie world, had I shunned everything except (at that time,) nursing. Or education.

In fact, isn’t that what the first 2 years of college are for? General Education? Figuring out what thrills you? Finding your passion? Going down the paths of misdirection, as the Indigo Girls call it?

I’ve been in education. A long time. Fads come and go. Currently, Common Core is passe, Standards are old school, and STEM has taken the forefront. Like …everyone, everywhere has to be exposed to Science, Technology, Engineering, Math. Everywhere. And, while that is fabulous, we have lost the ability to study something purely for the joy of it.

Art. Literature. The ability to take sustenance from a painting, a poem. To be exposed to the more “liberal” passions. These are concerns of mine. How do I tell that newly graduated person that perhaps you should read a book, stand in a museum, be filled up with a sunset. Kiss someone who takes your breath away?

Don’t let anyone trick you. You have some time to figure it out. Just chill for a bit, okay?

On Being Here Almost A Year

  There was something in the air today. I don’t know, kind of a permanency. I started to look around at my yard, and especially the tree in front of my bedroom window. For months now there have not been any leaves like there were when I first moved here.  And, all of a sudden there are leaves. When I moved here last May 21, that’s what I loved about that front window. The privacy. Naturally for months there have only been sticks, waiting for spring to come, I guess. As I sat in my yard tonight, I looked at these flowers, and I realized I’ve been here almost a year.

And I got sad. I remember telling my son just two hours before his graduation simply because we only had two days to move. And I remember thinking I don’t know how I’m going to land on my feet, when this house came up for rent.  And as the story goes, I was only here a month and my sweet nephew was killed. And then there was the summer of trying to recapture love, and an emotional imbalance due to hormonal changes that I did not know or understand. 

Most people are good with seasons changing. I have never been this way. I sort of have this grief as I say goodbye to what was. I’m somewhat of a depressive that way I guess. Tonight, I looked at these bird of paradise flowers, and I remember that’s what I loved most about the garden last year. This was the year that my sons started going to their dad’s house every other day, and I started to understand that they were only with me part of the time now. That first Tuesday night I said goodbye to them, I sat and stared at the television. And it wasn’t even on. I really just didn’t know what to do with myself.
Life is changing. Today, my beautiful son worked on his Eagle Scout project with his friends. And as usual, she inserted herself and some other random children into the mix. She’s always bringing somebody else’s kids to an event, and I had the urge to say to the mother of those kids, “Watch your husband, honey”. But of course I didn’t say that …I bit a hole in my tongue and made a phone call.  My son came to me, and I simply offered to leave after he expressed being upset.  He didn’t even have to tell me why.  We both knew. And because I had so many women before me who modeled what grace and dignity looks like, I left to go pick up the pizzas.

Here’s the thing.  I don’t live there anymore. This park…it was 2 blocks from my old house, and I simply did not feel CONNECTED to it. The place I took my babies after naps, WEbelos scout meetings, T-Ball practice.  It was a place to visit, but it felt very foreign to me. I couldn’t wait to get home …to where I sit, now. On my porch. Listening to sirens, trains, and the occasional ice cream man. 
We’ve been here a year. In this little house with no room…where we sit practically on top of each other for homework, meals, business. The three of us cannot fit in the kitchen at the same time. I still have no dishwasher, and I have survived. I have a shed full of termites, and a little cabin that I love.  The first few weeks, Chet would barely go outside. I constantly locked the doors.  The tree has fallen, I’ve fought a battle with rose beetles, we’ve locked ourselves out of the bathroom a couple of times, I’ve cried myself silly on my back porch missing my nephew. 

And here’s the weird thing. I lived in my last house for 20 years, yet this little house feels more like me than any other place. 

We’ve had a busy day.  Only one person can camp out in the living room at a time. Boys are coming and going, and I provide the snacks.  I know this feeling will pass, just as it always does when I start to write. My beautiful sons are coming back and we are barbecuing a London broil.  We have chocolate and wi-fi.  And we have love. Always love. 💜