Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tap-Tap No Erasies

I remember….
The simple pleasure of catching a raindrop on my tongue
The wonderful salty smell of play-doh
The excitement of a new 64-pack of freshly sharpened Crayolas in colors I’d never heard of before
The enthusiasm for trying anything new
Not being able to sleep on Christmas Eve
Turning cartwheels for no apparent reason
The breathless wonder beholding the two story Barbie house
The thrill of wearing sparkly costumes
Eating snow for the first time
The torture of sitting five minutes to do math, yet sitting for hours meticulously sorting and counting my Halloween candy
Thrifty double scoop ice cream cones
The calm of lying on the floor coloring
Being eye level to the candy counter at Farrells
Growing tall enough to ride the “E-ticket” rides at Disneyland
Stopping to make wishes on dandelions, stars, pennies thrown into fountains
Playing outside until it was dark every single day
Climbing trees, rocks, anything that stood still long enough to be climbed
Games of tag, hide and seek and kickball that lasted until the sound of the ice cream truck sent every kid scrambling for his mother’s purse
Counting the days until my birthday
Turning six, six and a quarter, six and a half, six and three quarters
Screaming Tap-tap no erasies, Ollie Ollie Oxen-free, and Marco Polo more times than I could count
The drama of losing a tooth, then trying to stay awake to catch the tooth fairy
Mastering new skills: a two-wheeler bike, a skateboard, a cannonball jump into the pool
Never stepping on a crack or else you’d break your momma’s back
Cat’s cradle, thumb wrestling, pinky swears, and Indian burns
Running through sprinklers in my underwear (that was yesterday)
I remember being totally present for every moment of my childhood, never reflecting on the past, never worrying about tomorrow. The question is, when, and how, did I forget? And is it possible to get it back? It’s certainly worth a try.
Step one: buy myself a brand new 64-pack of Crayolas.
Yep, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.
What are the moments you remember?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Child's Play

(remember how exciting it was to hear the ice cream man coming down the street?)

Sometimes it feels like life is a mean big brother twisting our arms behind our backs until we say Uncle. That’s how this whole year has been - just one financial disaster after the next, requiring every cent we could scrounge up until there was nothing left. And we might have still been okay, if Troy’s employer (and friend) hadn’t died in July. As of that moment, work has dwindled away. But the bills and the hard breaks keep on comin’.
On top of everything, a couple days ago our washing machine broke, and yesterday the repairman told us She’s a goner. Meanwhile, we have a family of six living here (one of them being an infant- need I say more!), and mountains of dirty laundry. MOUNTAINS. And in the heatwave, it was starting to get smelly.
So last night my husband and I had a date at the Laundromat. Troy was depressed, loading laundry into the car. He didn’t want me to come, wanted to protect me from the reality of our current situation. But I said “We’re sticking together. Anyway, Evan will love it.”
Just to depress Troy even further, the Laundromat is sandwiched between a seedy liquor store and the Candy Cat strip club. There were sketchy characters hanging out in the parking lot, looking like the cast of a David Lynch film. And add to that, it was still 100 degrees at night, humid, and no air conditioning. So… imagine Tennessee Williams meets David Lynch. At the Laundromat.
But Evan didn’t know any of that. For a five year old, the Laundromat is an arcade. He was thrilled putting dollars in the change machine to watch the coins come clink, clink, clinking out the bottom. He got to throw the clothes in the front loading washers, put the quarters in, press the buttons and watch our clothes tumble in the soapy water. He ran from washer to washer, delighted to see the different stages: the spinning, the tumbling, the suds. His enthusiasm even brought a tired smile to a few of the other sweaty Laundromat patrons. He made friends with other children whose exhausted parents toiled away. The Thai man who ran the seedy liquor store made origami for him and told him stories, then gave me his home remedy for Evan’s cough (crushed chili peppers).
In two hours we had completed ten loads of laundry, and as we headed home exhausted, our hair drenched with sweat, we were all quiet in the car. Evan no doubt was replaying the scene- remembering the suds and the tumbling, the quarters spilling out of the change machine. I flashed back to 1995 – the year after our house burned down and we were bankrupted. Both Troy’s recording studio and my clothing business burned with the house- so we lost our home and our jobs in one night. We were so damn broke, just busting our asses to dig ourselves out of a hole. God those were hard times. Our son Taylor and daughter Cristen were just little kids then, and we tried to provide them with as normal a childhood as possible. When our utilities were cut off, we set up a tent in the backyard and went camping. We made smores and slept under the stars. The kids thought it was great fun. When we couldn’t afford groceries, I made pancakes for dinner- we called it crazy-mixed-up-backward day. They loved that. When our car broke down, Taylor was thrilled to take a bus ride with his dad. At only five years old, it was a real highlight for him.
And here we are today, hard times all over again. I guess its human nature to see the negative in everything, to get caught up in our fear. But having a child forces you to see things differently. Every situation is new and exciting for them. God I can remember how it felt just hearing the tinny recording of the ice cream truck. That’s what I’ve lost as an adult, feeling enthusiasm for life rather than just trudging through it. I forget that life is an adventure- all of it, the good and bad.
Crappy times like these are going to happen to us all at some time or another, so why do I get so depressed about it? These days will pass, just like they have before. Better days surely lie ahead. In the meantime, who says I can’t enjoy life anyway, and have fun in a sweaty laundromat? And I must have lost three or four pounds of water weight last night. Some people pay good money for that. Okay, let’s pretend I was at a spa, and today I feel deliciously relaxed and svelte.
Oh to be a child again, and delight in life no matter what comes. I want to recapture that spirit. I had it once. I can find it again, right?
Here is my challenge to myself today - to look at life with childlike wonder, to have no preconceived notions of good or bad, to enjoy the ride…at least for one day, and see what happens.
Anyone want to join me?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over

(Me, brother Ted, sister-in-law Heather who is married to my OTHER brother.)

It never ceases to amaze me… the regenerative power of the heart. So astounding how it can be shattered and scarred and keep on beating. How it can be abused and betrayed and keep on loving, and how it can grow to accommodate all the ones you love and still have room for more.
My heart has impressed me this weekend. On Friday, it was pounding out of my chest with overwhelming stress as I drove to LAX. I was on my way to pick up my brother and sister who flew in for my son Evan’s 5th birthday– that was the good part. The bad part was every day last week some godawful event popped up to emotionally smack me upside the head until I was at my breaking point. So I was driving on the 405 highway in traffic, crying (who isn’t crying on the 405, seriously). Not knowing what else to do, I started to pray. Well, if you can call screaming at the top of my lungs over and over I NEED HELP, praying. And of course no one on the 405 found that unusual. I cried and screamed until I was at the airport, drying my tears, ready to embrace my family. And there they were, my Ted and Heather, angels sitting at the curb. I was so scattered I missed the turn-off three times and had to keep circling around the entire airport as they watched in disbelief.
When I finally got to them, we hugged like crazy, they jumped in my car and Heather told me about her journey that day. My darling girl had strep throat, but was determined not to let anything stand in her way. In Houston as she stood at the ticket counter running a fever, she got all woozy and puked in her purse, but still… she got on that plane. And here she was in sunny L.A. with her infected tonsils, little pukey purse and a smile, ready to go. Talk about a trooper.
(Family dinner at Monty's - where my oldest son Taylor was playing his Friday night gig)
For those of you who haven’t been reading my blog all this crazy year, let me introduce you to my family. Heather is married to my brother Ted, not the Ted that I picked up at the airport…the other Ted, the straight one. And they live in Texas with my dad, Ted, and my nephews who are not named Ted, even though my Dad pitched the idea. Heather is the glue in our family. If we fall out of touch, she’ll call and say “Talk to your dad” then put the phone on my Dad’s ear.
My other brother Ted, from Seattle, was the one who orchestrated the trip. He is the family organizer, photo director, party planner extraordinaire, and my twin soul. He wanted us all to be together for Evan’s birthday. We tried to get our other brothers Ted and Caleb to come too, but couldn't swing it. This is a new joy for us, spending birthdays together. You see, before I found out that my biological dad wasn’t dead, (seven years ago) we didn’t even know about each other. But now, we are as close and bonded (and crazy) as any family could be. So no matter what the cost, we squeeze in as many trips as humanly possible. No strep throat can stop us!
My loves, Heather and Ted. Doesn't she look good for having strep throat? Geez!
We spent the weekend laughing, dancing, eating, walking on the beach, sharing warm evenings with my friends, morning coffee on the deck, heart to heart talks. Then on Sunday we put together a homespun carnival for Evan’s birthday. And…wow…do I feel blessed by my amazing friends and family who pulled together to make Evan’s birthday so special. As I looked around - my chosen family, my sweet husband and kids- all laughing and smiling, everyone playing a role at the party, running the carnival games, helping set up, serving food…I realized – my prayer was answered. My lame backward prayer I NEED HELP, was answered beyond my wildest imaginings. I was surrounded by such mighty, fierce love all weekend. They not only helped me put on a party, they loved me, made me laugh, restored my soul, and glued all the pieces of my beat up heart back together.
It was a perfect weekend, and just what I needed. (Funny, I thought I needed a refill on Xanax…turns out I just needed love and laughter.)
Me, and Uncle "Spongebob" Ted, and Dani. We think Uncle Ted may have smuggled this costume in his luggage...can't find it anywhere. Hmmmm...
Today, the party’s over, my family has flown home, and I miss them so, but I am feeling strong. I am now ready to step back into the fray of my life with a full and grateful heart. So I today I say another prayer…and it goes like this:
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.
(My girls! Heather, Cindy, me, Erin, Dani, Joy and Cristen who all helped me with the Carnival)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fight...or Flight?

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Right? But some say when every door is slamming in your face, life is telling you you’re on the wrong path. Some say when life isn’t working no matter how hard you try, it’s time to surrender - let go and let God. And still some say persistence is the key- Never give up!
So which is it, people? And when do you know?
Because yes, my children are healthy and my marriage is strong, thank you, thank you thank you God. Or Life or Universe or Fate or Glenn Beck or whoever it is that’s controlling the Universe. (Please, dear readers, know that the Glenn Beck reference is sarcasm…my lame attempt to insert a joke into an unfunny circumstance.) But so much of my life right now is a freekin’ mess, and I can’t figure out how I got here. People I love have let me down. We’ve been hit so hard with financial disasters, one after the other, then Troy’s employer died. We’re still dealing with the crazy neighbors with the attacking dogs, court, and all that crap.
My heart is in the right place. That’s all I know for sure. I’m doing my very best to live an authentic life, to be kind, to love my children, my husband, my friends….I want to believe in some protective God looking out for us, but the loony tunes carrying the banner for religions all over this world have ruined it for me.
So wtf? Why is life such a mess sometimes?
When is it time to surrender - or fight - for your dreams?
I know so many of you are fighting battles of your own this year. You’ve shared your stories with me, and for that I feel priviliged. So share with me again, if you would. Share with me how you know…when to surrender, and when to hold on tight?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Everyday Miracles

I wish I was a tough broad - one who could say, and truly mean, I don’t give a rats ass what anyone thinks of me. But when you love someone, you hand them your porcelain china heart, and hope to God they will treat it with care. You hope they know better than to run it through the dishwasher, or to stack it carelessly, or to just plain let it slip from their hands.
My heart was broken this weekend, several times over. Shattered. It was a real mess - china shards everywhere. Couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat. And I fell into darkness, again. This time it was so deep I couldn’t see even a pinpoint of light. I was hopeless, faithless. Dark.
My husband felt the same way, pacing the house in the middle of the night, wondering if we should just cash it all in, sell our house, move away, start a new life somewhere. But by daybreak, he was sitting peacefully meditating, centered, watching the sun come up with a smile. I envied him.
“It’s a new day,” he said, “everything is going to be okay.”
“I don’t believe that,” said Baby Jessica from the bottom of the well.
He put his arm around me, “Then I’ll believe it for both of us.”
That was miracle number one. Love.
As the sun came up yesterday, my girlfriends began to call….
“Hey, what’s going on with you. Haven’t heard from you- are you okay?”
And one by one, they tossed me the rope, pulling me a little further up to where, yes, I could see a tiny pinpoint of light. Amy, Cindy, Dani, Erin, Diane…each a messenger of hope, each telling me to stand strong, that I was worthy, I was good. Most importantly, that I was loved. Before I knew it, I was standing on solid ground with the sun on my face. Angels are everyday people who walk amongst us…I call them friends.
That was miracle number two - Kindness.
And then both my sister and my brother called, to talk to me about all the fun we’re going to have this weekend when they fly into town for Evan’s birthday, filling my heart, giving me something to truly look forward to, reminding me that I am not abandoned, I am not alone.
Miracle number three – Family.
My friend Amy had challenged me to make three miracles happen this week, and I thought I had failed the challenge miserably. Instead, something else happened - I didn’t create the miracles, they came to me. They showed up right when I needed them, and thank God I opened my eyes.
Everyday miracles are all around us. The kindness of a stranger, the phone call that comes at just the right time, the little bit of money that shows up when you need it…all the little things that keep our ship upright in the center of a storm. Keep your eyes open, my friends.
I’m sending you all great love today, wishing you endless miracles.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


(coolest tattoo ever "hopedreamperseverebreatheloveseehear" and to have it on your wrist...also the best suicide prevention ever.)

It’s overcast this morning and that should make me happy- relief from the 110 degree weather we had last week, but instead it fills me with that Fall sense of gloom and doom. I envy you Fall-lovers who rejoice at the change of seasons, the howling winds, the long dark nights. Those of you who grow your own pumpkins and love apple cider and the smell of sharpened pencils on the first day of school.
As I watch the leaves wither up and die, I often feel a foreshadowing sense of my own death, or maybe there’s a part of me that dies in Fall. Fall is flu season and fire season, the time I become pent up and pensive. I lied in bed this morning watching an old Tennessee Williams flick, which certainly didn’t help matters. Somebody stop me before I pull The Bell Jar from my bookshelf. Friends don’t let friends read Sylvia Plath in the Fall.
Speaking of friends, Amy Ferris challenged me to make three miracles happen this week, and I’m stumped. My mind is blank. Well, it isn’t actually blank. I met with Cindy yesterday who just finished reading my manuscript. We spent hours talking about our lives. It took me writing a book for us to realize how much we have in common, more than we knew after years of close friendship. We didn’t talk as much about the book as we did about life, and that in a way is a good sign. If a person can read my book and relate to it, know she isn’t alone, that so many of us have carried common burdens in silence…then there is a reason for me having lived this life, and written this book, which means there is a reason to publish. And THAT is what’s really on my mind this morning and probably why I’m feeling so gloomy.
Rufus Wainwright’s “Dinner at Eight” is playing over and over in my head. It’s a song about his tortured relationship with his father that breaks my heart anew every time I hear it. His lazy, sorrowful voice drones on, “No matter the cost, I’m gonna take you down with one little stone, I’m gonna break you down and see what you’re worth, what you’re really worth to me.” And by the end of the song I am bawling my eyes out, because that is me. I am David, my mother- Goliath, looming tall and indestructible, untouchable, silencing me all these years. But I hold this little stone in my hand, the slingshot in my pocket. One little stone….truth. I could let it sail, and it could destroy her. Or maybe, hopefully, not. She’s pretty damned strong. Taking her down was never my intention, in fact it's the last thing I'd want. I can change all the names, all the identifying characteristics and still I know the truth will burn through and hurt us all. But God I've got to release this stone. I can’t walk through life any longer with the weight and responsibility of it. If I just put it in my slingshot and send it hurling out into the universe… anything could happen, and can I live with that?
Harriet Beecher Stowe once said, “The truth is the kindest thing we can give folks in the end.” But still I wonder….
(and do I think it is a coincidence that I met Troy's client Marc this morning- who happened to have the worlds' best tattoo? No, I do not. Thanks Marc Acito who by the way also has the coolest blog ever )

Saturday, September 4, 2010

It’s All How You Look At It

Recently I watched a fascinating documentary on elephants. There was an alarming escalation of elephants rampaging through Indian villages, trampling people to death. Generally speaking, elephants are peaceful, but something was changing them, and this filmmaker was seeking to unravel the mystery. He was able to trace back the beginnings of most of these rogue elephants, and what he found was striking. All had witnessed their mothers being murdered by a poacher when they were babies, and that seemed to have imprinted violence onto them. (There’s your proof that elephants do indeed have a long memory.)
Sometimes it just came down to the fact that an elephant had endured years and years of torture by it’s trainer/captor, and finally snapped one day. Aside from the heartbreaking subject matter, what really struck me was how these abusive captors kept the elephants from running away – they simply tied a thin string around the elephant’s foot. Of course an elephant could easily break this string, but he doesn’t believe he can. You see, the sad truth is when the elephants are babies, the trainer keeps them chained by the foot. The elephant is beaten into submission and can’t get away. After a while, he stops trying. He becomes so conditioned to his captivity that a simple string tied around his foot makes him believe he is powerless.
I thought long and hard about that. I think the people who end up going on murderous rampages are the ones who could never break those strings. And aren’t we all, in some way, living with a string tied around our foot? I mean, for the majority of my adult life I lived with the limitations imposed on me in my childhood. My childhood no longer exists, my circumstances are completely different, but I was still attached by that string. I believed I was powerless, that I didn’t have a right to speak up, that I wasn’t a deserving person. Thanks to a good therapist, and the support of my husband and friends, I sawed through that string…but it wasn’t easy.
Still, other strings remain. A biggie is fear of failure. Right now I am standing on the precipice of so much possibility … but I’m afraid to jump. I’ve finished my book and am about to start sending it out into the big wide world, and I have some other things in the works, things that are new and therefore scary. I’m having nightmares every night, giant snakes swallowing my ponies of optimism, ants invading my body, and, strangely, Cameron Diaz stealing my jewelry (have no idea what that was about). I don’t know why I should fear failure, I mean, I’ve failed fantastically in the past….many times. I failed to the point of bankruptcy, and I’m still here. So what’s the big deal? I might fail? Who cares.
God, it’s like when I was watching that documentary and I’m screaming at the elephant through the TV screen…just RUN! And then I imagined him looking back at me with a bubble over his head: Look who’s talkin’!
I think it’s time for me to break that string…

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I'm Going To Be Rich!

Out shopping for back-to-school shoes with my little one yesterday, I of course, was ogling the Fall fashions in the windows, but feeling an increased sense of panic as I realized….none of these clothes are for me anymore. NONE!
I will not be wearing tight midriff baring tees with graffiti scrawled over the front, nor mini skirts or jeans with shredded knees that seem to only come in size zero through three. Nor am I ready to shop for shapeless body shrouds at Chicos. So what are my clothing options? I can’t live my entire life in yoga pants and t-shirts.
That’s when I began fantasizing about opening my own store. It will be called -
“Forever Forty-Six”
Everything in the store will be made from Spanx. Everything. Bathing suits, coats, even shoes. I will carry the REAL miracle bra, which will gather the odd estrogen-laced fat from your armpits and put it back where it belongs… Voila- you just gained a cup size! You’re welcome.
Seamless panties will be comfortable, breathable, and will stretch from just under your bra all the way to your knees…oh and they will be drop dead sexy. How, you wonder? I do not know. This is my fantasy- don’t ruin it.
I’ll carry camel-toe resistant jeans that lift your ass, and cover your entire buttcrack with a double enforced muffin-top eliminator. My tee shirts will be jiggle proof, and my blouses will tone your upper arms while you wear them, revealing only the cleavage on your chest, not on your back.
For Fall, I’ll feature turtlenecks which push the fat under your chin up into your cheekbones. Or your lips. Yes ladies, there will be two choices.
My best selling shoe will be the Optical Illusion Flat that tricks men into thinking you’re wearing five inch Manolo Blanick’s. Oh, and they come with invisible socks. Fuzzy ones.
Everything in the store will make you look like a sexy middle aged Katherine Deneuve, whether you’re black, white, asian, hispanic…you’ll look exactly like her in a rainbow of colors. Men will drop dead with overwhelming desire as you walk past.
My tag line: Nothing is sexier than an experienced woman who has lived well, knows who she is and walks with her head held high, covered from head to toe in spanx.
Yes, I think I’m going to be very, very rich.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Women Living Fully - Retreat With Us!

PEEC Pocono Environmental Education Center Presents:

Women Living Fully ...investing in ourselves

Oct. 24 – 27, 2010

Imagine yourself nestled in the beautiful Poconos this Fall, your only goal to rest and indulge in self discovery. Imagine meeting like-minded women who come prepared to explore the same questions that run through your mind constantly... “Now What?” ...“Who Am I?... “How do I make the most of the life that is ahead of me?” “...What is it to be a true friend - to have a true friend?”...“What matters the most to me at this time in my life?”... “How can I make a difference in the world?”

PEEC (Pocono Environmental Education Center, Dingman’s Ferry, PA is holding their first annual Women’s Retreat, and have invited inspiring authors, wellness and financial experts who will gather to explore all of those questions and more.

You will be spending your days with award winning and internationally published authors and other experts, including:

Amy Ferris: Author of Marrying George Clooney: Confessions of a Midlife Crisis, and A Greater Goode, Screenwriter; "Mr. Wonderful" and "Funny Valentines"

Kristine Van Raden & Molly Davis: authors of Oprah's pick Letters to Our Daughters, founders of

Monica Holloway - Actress and author of Cowboy & Willis and Driving with Dead People

Gregory Anne Cox - Life coach, culinary expert and founder of

Amy Litzenberger - Financial expert and life coach.

Robyn Hatcher - Actress, Writer, Communication Skills expert, founder of

Elizabeth Geitz - Author of five books, including "Soul Satisfaction" and "Entertaining Angels" and faculty member of the CREDO Institute.

Hollye Dexter - Singer/Songwriter, founder of Art and Soul Programs, and author of "Only Good Things"

This one of a kind retreat will provide an insightful and inspiring program highlighting the things that are vital to women in mid-life, and encourage living life to the fullest. Topics range from living authentic and meaningful lives, financial well being, health and wellness to the need for women to move beyond competition and towards mutual support, completion and collaboration.

All offerings will be participatory and introspective, inspiring and challenging. Sessions will include a combination of teaching, discussion and thoughtfully designed writing and thinking exercises.

Space is limited.

Cost is $560 which includes lodging, meals and all workshops & activities. To register:

Call - 570-828-2319 and ask to register for Women Living Fully