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Even though it’s still lovely here, I have been missing Cozumel*. My anxiety from work has made me doubt my abilities as a writer, as an artist, and as a competent human being, and that’s been really rough. It’s very reminiscent of my days in abusive relationships, and as was the case then, I don’t know how to improve it. MKL has been a rock and a treasure. I understand that I have choices, but I hate being driven to them because I cannot resolve my own situation. Yes, I know I’m being vague, but that’s how it’s got to be. I remember being so clear and at peace in Cozumel. That was a magical place for me. I want that feeling back.

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Cozumel, Mexico.

Quote of the day: “You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” — Eckhart Tolle

Daily gratitudes:
Daily messages for my girls
Carpool mornings
Cooler nights
Work (even so)
Dogs

I don’t talk a lot about being an empath. Partly because it’s a complicated thing. It’s also a pretty private thing. And these days, it has entered into popular culture enough that it can be easily dismissed by those who don’t share this quasi-gift, and easily adopted by those who are struggling to belong, to attach a cool label to themselves, or to understand their own feelings. I don’t diminish those people and their needs, but I do not know if their experience is the same as my own….though that could be said of everyone.

This week has been an eye-opening one for me with regard to this component of myself. Being an empath is something different from being empathetic or highly sensitive, or even empathic. I’ve been led to the realization that it is not something I can ignore at times of global collective distress – or anniversaries like September 11. It took the universe dropping a heavy veil over my body and spirit for me to see that this gift, this calling, this ability to wend my way between worlds and realms, is something precious and needed. I am a path through the veil for silent acknowledgement and connection for those beyond. Being a channel, a vessel, is part of the reason for my being here, on this earth, at this time. And the divinely given art of dancing across levels of existence is something I need – and want – to practice.

I judge my own words through the eyes of others. So, to head you off at the pass, I’m not high or crazy or a hippie. I’m a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, a cousin, an aunt, a homeowner, a writer, and I work three jobs to put my daughter through college without (fingers crossed) student loans. I’m the picture of responsibility. I pay my bills on time. I don’t wear make-up, except eyeliner as my work disguise. I don’t color and style my hair. I like jeans and yoga pants and dressing up and thrift stores. I like tuna salad sandwiches (warm, with cheddar, mustard, and hot peppers), rib-eye steaks, and butter pecan ice cream. I like Appalachian music and opera. I love flowers and mountains and especially the sea. I love to travel. I help tourists in Denver when they look lost, and like to smile at strangers, especially, these days, women in hijabs, because when they see the smile in my eyes, their eyes smile back and I can tell they feel welcome and trusted and a little bit safer. I’m not stunning, I’m not unusual. I don’t have any piercings or tattoos, because my mother drilled into me at an early age that there’s no sense in poking holes in yourself for the sake of fashion (and she was right) and the only thing I would ever like to have indelibly inked on my skin are the latitude and longitude of my favorite places on earth, perhaps as anklets or bracelets, but not now. Maybe someday, when I’m older.

If you were to see me walking from Union Station to my office in the morning, you probably wouldn’t give me a second glance. But at a glance, I can feel so much about you, and you’ll never know that. I can sometimes turn it off, but not this week. This week there were so many souls who wanted their energy and their words resurrected into the consciousness of now for just a few moments, and needed me to be a silent channel for them. And so, while it took me a few days to figure it out, I did. And we are all, for now, somewhat soothed.

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Some beautiful beach, some beautiful where between worlds.

Quote of the day: “People underestimate the stars and the connectedness they bring between spirit and matter. More often than not, when lost, we seek solitude in staring into the darkness hoping something speaks back to us, usually through a feeling, a thought or a rare occurrence of a shooting star.” — Nikki Rowe

Daily gratitudes:
That my cricket has moved to the kitchen
A clean bedroom
That MKL loves me regardless
Truck stop coffee
That Kelsea called me from the grocery store, asking about spices for what I have taught her to be her “signature dish” to cook

I sometimes think that all works of art are born somehow of fire. Words burn in a writer’s brain, unforgiving until they can spill upon page. Motion burns from the core of a dancer’s muscles. Paintings are licks of flame risen from a spirit through a brush to a canvas. Even in photography, there is a burning peaceful need to capture what is seen by one set of eyes into something that can be seen by others, a sharing of the embers of the photographer’s vision. The center of the earth that we walk on each day is made of fire, and it passes through layers of rock and soil and the skin of the soles of our feet to the center of the souls of our being, and must be expressed somehow.

In this sculpture studio, we found the purest expression of the creative fire, molten iron casually poured by men protected from its destructive power, men looking like creatures from the center of the earth themselves, men who controlled the flow of creativity, channeling it into molds and frames, containing it, shaping it, melding with it, as it fashioned itself through the sculptors hands into art, cold to the touch but still retaining that fire within. As we all do.

It reminded me that art can be dirty and primal and beautiful, full of heat and passion and practicality all at the same time, blending hotly and gently to create an artist’s ever-imperfect vision, for imperfection is the nature of art as viewed by the artist, and what makes them strive to improve always, trying to touch that fiery core with their bare hands, capture it, rejoice in it, and share it.

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Shidoni, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Quote of the day: “I used to know a sculptor… He always said that if you looked hard enough, you could see where each person carried his soul in his body. It sounds crazy, but when you saw his sculptures, it made sense. I think the same is true with those we love… Our bodies carry our memories of them, in our muscles, in our skin, in our bones. My children are right here.” She pointed to the inside curve of her elbow. “Where I held them when they were babies. Even if there comes a time when I don’t know who they are anymore. I believe I will feel them here.” — Erica Bauermeister

Daily gratitudes:
Brief flashes of clarity
Some time with Kelsea
Realizing creative necessities
Water
Beach time soon come

I warned you there might be a Part Two, and I’ll warn you there may be lots of parts.

Last night’s speeches at the DNC were moving and inspiring. I will vote my conscience, as so many speakers recommended, and my conscience, or feelings, or instincts, or what have you, is telling me what is wiser for our future in terms of our political leader. We are at the final day of the DNC now. We know what’s ahead of us over the next three months, at least in rhetoric.

I loved the sense of unity that came from the DNC. I was disappointed by some of the criticisms of Donald Trump, and I’m probably among his strongest critics. I did not appreciate Tim Kaine’s mocking tone when talking about Trump. That’s the sort of speech I would expect from Trump himself. As Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” That’s how it should be.

I was a Bernie supporter. Not a rabid supporter, but a firm one. I didn’t appreciate the lack of perspective from the Bernie supporters – that they couldn’t see that once Bernie himself said to support Mrs. Clinton, it was time to get behind her, if only for the purpose of not having a President Trump.

People who have known me for decades know that I support the theory of pure Marxism, although it is impossible in practice , as it does not take into account basic human nature and human emotions. Bernie seemed to be carving a path that took that humanity into account, as he proposed change that many considered socialism. If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far in this political season, it’s that labels become weights and don’t truly represent the people on whom they are slapped. I am labelled liberal, but I have some very un-liberal stances on important issues. Since I have that label though, no one ever bothers to question what my actual personal beliefs are.

I don’t like labels.

I’m sorry there was so little discussion about the issues and Mrs. Clinton’s plans to address them; there was none of that from Mr. Trump either. Perhaps this was not the correct forum for them. I didn’t really appreciate the DNC trotting out the Mothers Movement group, although I agree with their sentiments. I didn’t appreciate the focus on gun violence, though I agree with the party line in terms of tightening the purchasing loopholes. It seems the conventions are more pep rallys than platforms. I look forward to hearing the one-on-one debates in the future, where hopefully we will be able to hear EACH candidate talk about their plans to address the issues we face as individuals, families, this nation, and this world.

I loved President Obama’s speech. He seems like the most genuine human on the planet, frustrated by eight years of battling a political machine that doesn’t work. I truly believe he felt, when he set out in 2008, that everyone in politics wanted unity, they just didn’t have a leader to guide them. How sadly wrong he was. Professional politicians often don’t want change. Netflix’s House of Cards is, I suspect, a more accurate representation of how things in D.C. work than anything we’ve seen through mainstream media. I never felt that President Obama bought into all that. He really did want to bring hope and change. Now, at the end of his term, he feels more free to speak his mind, share his passions and his disappointments more openly, be less (if you will) politically correct. I appreciate that. I will miss him, and miss the videos we get of him playing with babies, and the smile that almost always reaches his eyes, and how he is classy and passionate at the same time.

I still remember hearing his first speech at his first DNC in 2004. Ex-Pat and I looked at each other, stunned, and just said “Wow. That guy is going to be president someday.” And we were right.

I read Michael Moore’s “5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win” this evening, and his points are all valid. I just hope that we as a nation come to our collective senses and see that Trump is a dangerous and self-centered man who does not have the best interests of people like me and my husband at heart. He is reckless and unskilled, and has only his own interests in mind.

It’s going to be an interesting fall.

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Even though the door is turquoise, my favorite color, the stairs look as if the light of heaven is leading one to the surface…our lives are all about choices, aren’t they?

Since last week’s rant on the Republican National Convention, I’ve been quiet and contemplative, with dreams of having pleasant discussions with Donald Trump as we walked along a lovely beach, which made me feel like I was drinking the Kool-aid. If you’re not of a certain age, you might need to Google that term to understand its sad reference. I’m looking forward to feeling the antithesis of what I felt last week, as I watch the Democratic National Convention. The last few days did not disappoint.

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Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Quote of the day: “The first duty of a man is to think for himself” — Jose Marti

Daily gratitudes:
Animal best friends
Box fans
How Tim Kaine is so smiley
My current read
Our talk with the Virginia railroader yesterday at Union Station

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I seldom get political here. But now, I must. Since I cannot guarantee that I will not do so again, I am calling this Part One. If you have no interest in reading a political-related post based mostly on feelings, I’d suggest you go wash your cat or trim your hedges now.

I cannot stomach the hatred and blindness that I am seeing from appointed representatives within the Republican Party. I have been watching the convention. And listening to nothing but hate. I hear nothing constructive, nothing concrete, nothing positive. Just hateful rhetoric. I don’t think Hillary Clinton is the be all and end all of candidates. But the way that spokespeople in the Republican Party have denigrated her, placed all blame on her for actions that are indeed beyond her sole control, have insulted everything about her as a human being, is unacceptable. People do not speak about each other that way. Not people who I want in charge of the future of this country. They tell lies. They make assumptions. Some of the things they say seem insane. Ben Carson just said, in essence, that she holds Lucifer as a role model, based on a dedication in her graduate thesis.

Mr. Trump spent half of his campaign claiming that the system was rigged. I do not hear him making that claim now that he is the nominee. How does he reconcile that? It’s not fair unless I win? Isn’t that what kindergarteners do? Anyone who has spent any time in New York City knows his influence there, knows who his cronies were (and no doubt are), knows about the lawsuits, the bankruptcies. Anyone who has watched any television knows he has based his visibility on trashy, vile reality television – and I feel justified in saying that because I watched it. How can this man be the leader of America when he is being shunned by former Presidents from his own party – and I’m not a Bush supporter either? How can someone who has admitted, in so many words, that he tailors his ethics to suit the business situation, spill such bile about Mrs. Clinton? He stated on an interview earlier this week that Hillary Clinton created ISIS. Seriously.

I am a believer in you don’t have to respect the man, but for our country to be unified, we must respect the office. The Office of the President of the United States. The statements I’ve heard about Mr. Obama since the race has heated up has shown anything but respect for the office. Even the way that the media refers to him reflects this: I was 16 months old when President Kennedy was assassinated, so I’ve been aware of media coverage of nine presidents, and never in my memory have I not heard a reporter refer to a sitting president as “Mr. Something” or “President Something”. With President Obama, I seldom hear the media refer to him as anything but “Obama”. Perhaps this seems like a trivial distinction, but I feel it reinforces the undertone of disrespect for a man who did indeed have true ideals and hopes of unifying the parties, and unfortunately realized that neither side was particularly interested in doing so. Many of his hopes and dreams died when he saw that sad light.

I am sick of it. I will not be one of those people talking about moving to Canada, mostly because it’s too cold there. I will stay here and vote my conscience and see what happens. But I am stating that I am sick of the divisiveness. I am sick of the myth of the liberal media. I am sick of all of it. I cannot discuss it with MKL, because we don’t see eye to eye, and we know we will not change one another’s minds. I know this hatred is effecting me. It is worsening my depression. I should stop watching. But I feel that that is just turning away because I can’t change it. I want to understand what’s going on. I want to know the truth. WHERE IS THE TRUTH? I don’t know where to look for it anymore.

So I will keep watching. I will keep reading. I will listen to the Democratic Convention to see if the rhetoric there is equally as hateful. I hope that in the debates – assuming Mr. Trump chooses to participate – it becomes evident that Mr. Trump has nothing but attack in him, that his political inexperience is highlighted – because to be a political leader, having political experience IS important – and that he does not form sentences that actually have any meaning. If I were a serious drinker, I’d have myself a game of a shot every time he says something along the lines of “they love me”, “believe me”, “I know more than anybody”, or the words “incredible”, “amazing”, or “huge”. Perhaps I’ll make it a water shot game.

But it saddens and ages me to see our tenuous racial, social, and gender unity shattered by people who are watching a bully take charge, and feeling that bullying is now okay because of it. It’s one thing to be politically correct. It’s another thing to speak your mind. And it’s yet another thing to truly believe in equality and justice. Right now,  it seems we are just watching a train wreck, rubbernecking at the devastating accident occurring before our eyes, unable to look away.

We cannot look away. If we do, we let hate win, and it is the end of all of us. I am a little too young to be an old hippie, but I still believe in the messages of that movement.

Peace and love are the only answers. Fear and hatred will lead us only to the end of days all the more rapidly than we would have arrived in the first place.

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Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Quote of the day: “”Unless the Virgin Mary appears to me on a piece of toast and asks me to vote for the guy, I’m not going to do it.” — CNN reporter Ana Navarro referring to Mr. Trump (This last part of this quote may not be verbatim – I tried to get it down while I watching it.)

Daily gratitudes:
Head butts, snuggles, and spooning from Mr. Man

 

#republicanconvention #acountryintrouble #notimeforhate

 

I don’t have one of my own photos for this post tonight, because for once, unbelievably, I did not take a camera to a special place. The special place was Peter Gabriel and Sting’s Rock Paper Scissors Tour in Denver last night.

I will insert a gratuitous picture of Sting here:

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(Image credit: www.blissfullydomestic.com)

Because I like the way he looks. He reminds me of MKL, if MKL became slightly gaunt, fluffed his hair, and squinted. (I love the way MKL looks.)

I’ve never been much of a concertgoer, even though I like music. The crowds, the expense..it just hasn’t happened. I took Kelsea to her first two concerts until I was comfortable with her going with just her friends, and I have to say that the Foo Fighters put on an amazing show. I’m also glad I no longer accompany her to concerts because I’d probably have a heart attack from her crowdsufing at Riotfest.

Enter Stepson D, who for the past two years, has treated MKL and me to concerts in Denver by musicians who his Dad listened to a lot while he was growing up. Last year, it as Boston and the Doobie Brothers. This year, Peter Gabriel and Sting. D says this is a tradition we can probably keep up for some years to come. Now, I’m not much of a Peter Gabriel fan, but MKL is. His music has gotten my husband through some rough times in his life. He’s not much of a Sting fan, but I am. His music has shaped some wonderful memories for me.

Last night’s show was in the Pepsi Center, a venue used for basketball, hockey, and (in my experience) job fairs and concerts. It was a full house, and the artists set the stage immediately by saying, “We’re going to have fun.” And fun we all had. At 66 and 60 respectively, Peter Gabriel and Sting both have the voices that I remember from 30 years ago, still rich, expressive, melodic, and untouched by technological enhancements. Sting’s guitar was battered and well-loved; if one of the ten wealthiest musicians in Britain is playing something that looks like it came from a pawn shop in Aurora, you know it must be special and dear to his heart. He played “An Englishman in New York”, which is one of my favorites, and quite a few numbers from his days with The Police. The only thing missing for me was “When We Dance”, but I may be in the minority on that one, and I get that. Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” brought me to tear.

Even though Peter Gabriel without hair constantly reminded me of Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies, and their lovely blonde back-up singer looked remarkably like Claire Underwood from Netflix’s House of Cards, which confused me at each first glance on the big screen, these two artists have assembled an amazing set of musicians to join them on their journey.

All the way through the closing encore “Sledgehammer”, they shared their music, each chiming in with vocals, instrumentals, or dance steps to the others’ songs. Brothers from other mothers. They touched on recent American tragedies and British political madness, all the while emphasizing, through the songs they selected, that we are a powerful people and love en masse is a powerful instrument of change and peace in the world.

As an empath in large crowds, I get A LOT of feels. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I tend to avoid concerts, fairs, and other events where a crush of humanity will be present. But last night, all I picked up was gorgeous positivity. It felt like we were in a giant living room, all 18,000 of us, just hanging out listening to our friends play music, and chiming in when we could. There was singing. There was dancing. We were a crowd of a certain age, mostly, with women in flowy outfits and gentleman in standard classy aloha shirt attire. The lighting artists – for they truly were artists – made it feel at times as if the late afternoon sun was streaming in, warm beams flooding the crowd from unseen windows. One of the last songs made me feel as if I was sitting in the center of a rainbow, that magical spot always sought but never attained.

I loved watching MKL, as he watched with genuine joy in his eyes. He is the most genuine man I have ever known, and I need that in my life – such a stark contrast to my past partners. His joy enhanced mine expontentially.

So thank you Stepson D, for this wonderful experience. Thank you, Peter Gabriel and Sting, for giving us a night to remember. A special thank you to Sting, for continuing to look as amazing as you did 20 years ago. Thank you to my fellow concertgoers for your delight, enthusiasm, and camaraderie. Thank you to the spirits, non-corporeal ticketholders that I could feel up the high seats. And thank you to the universe for channeling magic in the form of music through very special people.

Quote of the Day: “If I ever lose my faith in you, there’ll be nothing left for me to do.” — Sting

Daily gratitudes:
MKL
A surprise Kelsea tonight
Belated and beautiful birthday presents
The man talking to his dog as they walked down Public Road
Cheese Danish from the coffee shop at the Littleton Downtown RTD station

(I’m trying to somehow spread the word on my blog, so I’m hastagging things. Bear with me. I have no real idea what I’m doing.)

#rockpaperscissorstour  #petergabriel #sting

 

 

I have somehow unconsciously decided to pay tribute to those lost in the insanity and hatred that lies behind terrorism by commemorating this kind of tragic day with an orchid. Here is today’s offering. As the parent of gay children, I recognize that it can be a challenge to accept at first. But my children are powerful, beautiful individuals who will make positive differences in this world. And that is what matters. Hatred, whether it takes the form of vile words, religious justification, or acts of violence…. I was going to say doesn’t matter, but it does. It matters deeply. The actions of one man last night effected the lives of countless others. Who really gives a damn who or how a human being loves, as long as they DO love, and spread that message of love and caring as far and wide as the world itself? My heart hurts for Orlando, for the victims, their friends and families whose lives will never be the same. But do not stop being who you are, and do not stop voicing your love and support. Otherwise, we will be doomed to repeat our mistakes ad infinitum. Rest well, loved ones, and know that we who still draw breath on this earth and have love on our side, will not stop fighting the fight for you. And we will fight it with love and understanding, not violence.

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Denver, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “We can either emphasize those aspects of our traditions, religious or secular, that speak of hatred, exclusion, and suspicion or work with those that stress the interdependence and equality of all human beings. The choice is yours.” — Karen Armstrong

Daily gratitudes:
Birds
A few days at Cottonwood
A heightened awareness of what is wrong
MKL
Cleaning up for Kelsea
That Cheryl and Pete are ensconced on Anegada

It’s not a bad thing, but that’s the closest phrase I can find to describe it.

My daughter is in North Carolina. In my hometown. And I’m not there. I guess that shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s actually very cool, and I’m so happy she’s there. She was texting me today from Duke, from the library where my Mother used to work. She stopped by to see one of my parents’ dearest friends. She went to the Chapel, and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. While she had been to Durham several times before my parents died, she was very small then. She and I spent two nights there when we were on the EAR, and I took her everywhere I could think of and told her as many of my memories as I could. Today, she made some of her own memories. She said it felt weird that I wasn’t there. But then, that’s growing up.

She is such a part of me in every way. I told her the first time she travelled without me and just with her Dad, that there is a very thin silver thread that connects our two hearts, and that no matter how far apart we are, that thin silver thread will always be there. It stretches to infinity, and yes, perhaps, beyond. We both remember this always. I felt it so strongly today. Having her, one who is literally a piece of me, in a place that holds and that shaped so much of my spirit, made me feel as if somehow I was there. It certainly made me feel as if I weren’t all here, in my body, in Colorado. It was such a queer feeling. It has yet to entirely subside. But as I say, it’s not a bad thing. Just very curious.

This is a window in my Father’s library – actually, the Divinity School Library, which will always be my Father’s no matter who the librarian may be. This window itself, the glass, the latch, the tree outside – it’s all the same as when I was a little girl. I can remember how much I liked opening and closing these latches. They felt old. And I felt powerful. It seemed like an appropriate image for today, the dusty glass opening onto a bright new world.

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Durham, North Carolina

Quote of the day: “Even when we’re apart, we’ll be looking at the same sky!” — L.J. Smith

Daily gratitudes:
Small clouds that float lower than storm clouds
MKL
When the people in the office across the way wave hello
Peonies
A newly graded alley (I think)

Sealongings

Waves are formless and endless,
Their gentle rush and lion’s roar
A sound that fills ears, shells, and spirits.

I think that people who complain
That the sea is too loud,
That it disturbs their slumber,
Must be missing a small piece of their soul.
Perhaps the sea has swallowed it and
has yet to give it back.

It holds mine in its fathoms.
It lets me breathe unencumbered beneath the surface.
It rolls in a rhythm that matches my heartbeat.
It serves as a grateful vessel for my tears.
It cools and feeds my passions.

Far away, I hear that gentle rush
In conch shells on the shelves of coffee shops
And in dreams.
Always in dreams.

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Anegada, British Virgin Islands.

Quote of the Day: “The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.” — Kate Chopin

Daily gratitudes:
Birds in the trees
Mr. Man’s paw on my knee
Kelsea’s writing and her sense of justice
New tickets leading to new adventures
Not having to shovel my sidewalk

 

 

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