Thursday, December 20, 2018

The 12 Days of Christmas

I heard today on the radio a question - what do people do on vacation that they rarely do at home?
The answer was - order dessert in a restaurant.
What? Are you kidding me? Dessert is the best bit, just like a gift shop is in a museum. 
These must be the same people who go to Panera bread and when offered the bread, chips or apple, they brightly say apple. Really? An apple? In the place that has bread in its name and dough that boasts miracles, you order the apple.
If you know me, you know that I have an incredible relationship with food. We either love and glorify in one another, fear and ignore one another, insult and delight one another, all on the same day - or I should say all just after breakfast. We have broken up many times. My friends have held me as I've cried, declaring that we are never, ever getting back together. Then gradually the special offers begin and the flattery coupons are shared and I hear myself say - This time McDonalds will treat me differently. I will have the salad instead of cheese burger with large, large fries and has anyone tried their cookies - ooohhhhhh and I'm off!
Which in truth is my fix. Sugar. Like Mary Poppins says, a spoonful of sugar helps everything go down, apart from my weight. I do not have a sweet tooth - I have a mouth of them. I emigrated because America created the word cookie. I have considered changing my name to cookie, just to enjoy people telling me that it suits me.
Christmas is fantastic. It is my favorite season for buying sweet treats with the public declaration that these will be a gift. Most of the time, I'm not making that up. My intention is to wrap that box of chocolates, and some times I do and sometimes I get as far as December 20th and then the wrapping is ripped off and the devouring begins.
This year I decided not to buy boxes of chocolates as gifts, then I found mini boxes which would work well as stocking fillers. Yep, they were gone within a week. A very dear friend, who remains in the chocolate witness protective program, told me that she just ate two of the five small boxes she had bought, I admitted with pride, followed by shame, that I had enjoyed all eight of mine. She was also the same dear friend who talked me out of eating a box of fudge that I had in my car, while I sat in a traffic jam. I and the fudge survived and was successfully given as a gift. I'm glad you enjoyed it Kay as that was a tough one and I swear road lack of fudge rage occurred on I 95 North that day.
Tis' the season and I am lucky enough to be able to indulge and enjoy. It's just for Christmas, not like salad, that's for life right?
And to conclude here is my favorite Christmas song.
All together now..................
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Twelve Caramel Nut Clusters
Eleven Cookies with Piping 
Ten Sea Salt Caramels
Nine Jellied Candies
Eight Truffels - milk chocolate 
Seven Fudge Dipped Pretzels 
Six Chocolate Brazil Nuts
Five Tobelorones
Four Chocolate Santas
Three French Eclairs
Two Pecan Turtles
And a gift card to Dunkin Donuts

Have a lovely Christmas everyone & enjoy the season.
Much love,
Jayne x
Please note this was written tongue in cheek (of course) and no candy was harmed in the process.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Magic of Christmas Decorating

For anyone who truly knows me, you are aware that swearing does occur. I am, after all a Londoner, where swear words are taught phonetically and included in the National Anthem.
In fact, when I emigrated, I quickly cleaned up my act as I realized that this is one of the differences in US versus British culture, that and driving on different sides, oh and we never saw Gilligens Island, oh yes and we don't understand American football at all, oh and I still say British people do not look good in shorts and American gravy is not as good as British gravy. Apart from that, we are very similar.

Anyway, I digress as this blog is about Christmas. I love Christmas. The lights, the stories and the cake. It's all a great joy to me and suits that very large part of me that believes in magic.
I am always the one on the street to put up the tree early, sorry, but yes, it's me.
Putting up my decorations has become one of my greatest passions. I actually have themes and this year it is a winter wonderland.

It has to be expressed however that for the last forty minutes, bad language has been louder than the  carols blasting from the Hallmark channel. Once my glittering, starlit and snowflake garland fell, again, I decided to calm down by setting up my musical trio of mini Christmas trees. When I push the button to let loose lights and angels singing, it sounds like a submarine is disappearing with just one green light as its guide, so my guess is that the batteries are running low. I am, of course, prepared and already have batteries.
So, why oh why, do they lock down that plastic battery case with that stupid, tiny, effing screw? Who on Christmas Lane, but the bleedin' elves, has a screwdriver that tiny? And why? When as far as I can see, its only bloody Christmas lights that need them. Who sat there and truly thought, I know what we need to do for extra safety at Christmas, tis the season and let's put in something that nobody will ever be able to get out?
It's just a trio of mini Christmas trees, it's not the next rocket to Mars.

AND why, oh, why are some push pins easy to get into the wall or window frame, yet just one inch to the left, or right, or down in any direction and it's suddenly like cement? Oh don't get me started on push pins. They love to pretend to hold things, until you walk away and four of them shoot out from the wall at the same time and you can only find three of them, and of course it makes sense to decorate while wearing pajamas with bare feet.

Oh and don't get me started on step ladders, which to me may as well be as high as the empire state building covered in ice on a windy day. I'm scared of standing up, so you have to understand that me balancing on one of those has me reciting a hundred mantras, through gritted teeth of I am safe, I am safe, while picturing toppling off.
So I have to think every year, is it worth it?

On the Hallmark channel, putting up the decorations is one of joy, mugs of cocoa and great lipstick.
They also wear sweaters, clearly they've never decorated during the hot flush season.
Maybe I should go ice skating - yes well don't get me started on ice skating - another scary adventure that I would long to attempt and am embarrassed to say may never happen. (Don't tell Gary, who plays ice hockey with great precision and confidence.)

So my dear friends, once you visit the Winter Wonderland of Jayne, please disregard how low everything is, or that certain light bulbs are not lit and certainly do not question why the trio of musical trees is hanging, strangulation style, from the kitchen fan ceiling.

It is the magic of Christmas.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

When Harmony Shatters

Life is both fragile and dramatic, holding extreme examples within twenty four hours and indeed less. Here is something I can not get out of my head right now & please read to see the two extremes of life.

I knew nothing of the world of Barbershop Quartets until this Summer with the meeting of my new love. His family are all creative, they sing, act, make, care, are healers. Beautiful people.
I just spent a weekend in Portland Maine at a competition of quartets and choruses, listening and cheering on people who sing for the purpose of entertaining and feeling joy. It was a fun, relaxed, inspiring weekend where generations easily mix and songs and tradition combine.
At the conclusion the entire audience are arm in arm singing, the harmonized sounds filling the auditorium.

It was surreal and heart breaking to then learn of the deaths at Pittsburgh. Pointless murder at a place of worship, at a place of comfort, love and peace. A synagogue where people learn, trust, cry, celebrate, breathe and lean into life - and then within minutes a violent act shatters that harmony.

I wrote a blog once before, perhaps two years ago, with my thoughts that gun laws need and must be revised in this day and age of examples. I do not understand why an immigration ban was so easily put in place when terrorism was threatened, but we cannot place a ban on guns right now when we have abundant evidence that the system is not working. This too is surely an act of terrorism and how are more guns truly the right protection? Shame on me for not understanding the situation fully.

My hearts race to the families of the victims who now must find acceptance and trust for something that we should not have to comprehend. All I can do in my little life is send love and peace. All I can do is to give, to hold and to love. Is it enough? I take my responsibility to care for those around me seriously. Perhaps if we all did that, there would be powerful movement toward the better?

I am not politically knowledgeable but I am a human being and when I see and feel the possibility of such community in life, I am downright scared to imagine that could be destroyed in five minutes because of a weapon being in the wrong hands. Can we see the power of things being in the right hands please. How do we get that?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Why I wrote the play I wrote

I was honored to be a finalist this month in The Modern Works Festival at Urbanite Theatre in Florida. It was an incredible experience.
In the feedback sessions I was asked why I wrote my play "Stalking."

The point of me creating and writing a theatrical piece of this nature was to highlight the deep roots that are set when abuse, physical and or emotional, take place.
Without a doubt - anything you have said in spite to another person was felt.
How much do we remember of childhood taunts? All of us can easily recall the words that stung.
No matter how small, and of course how large, some of them will remain.

So imagine the disrespect, fear, pain and bewilderment of a violation to your body. To your mind.
To the intimate part of yourself. To how the brain deciphers that situation. How the body physically holds the memory. How our brain will capture that as a lifetime warning enclosed in primal fear.

I wrote this play for those who do not care to remember their loss of virginity. For those who cannot remember. I wrote it for every generation effected. I wrote it for every victim. For those that have nightmares, some not really knowing why and those who absolutely know why.

And this damage is created by our fellow human beings. It is created by the same being us as that has arms, legs, brains and hearts. When will we stop? When will we recognize the thin lines between good and bad?

I am not alone in thanking the people who are now standing and telling their truth.
I thank the parents who are now bringing up their children in education for what is wrong and what is right. What is beautiful. What is hopeful and the fragility that is us.
I am grateful for those audience members who told me that this story must be shared. To the young man who told me that it made him think.

I am thankful for those who have the courage and desire to make a change.
For every tiny shift toward a new positive reaction we have a movement for the better.
For as many ripples of negativity from one bad action, I believe there are positive waves from the good.

For those who experience trauma and question where the hope can be found.
You are experiencing it, because it is within the discomfort, the sadness and the realization that we need better options. That we do have better choices and we can find that difference.

It is not necessarily forgiveness that we need.
It is courage. It is energy. It is strength. There is where you find the hope.

As the character, Magda, states in my play: "I will not be the victim. I will be the hurricane that destroyed her."
We must realize that we can use this energy for good. Unlike Magda who is sadly trapped.

To have this opportunity to use my passion of writing for theater was a dream for me. For all those who cheered me on, I will not let you down and will continue to share. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Losing the Yes, but..............

This is a difficult post to write because it's a tender one. And a happy one.
Anyone who has suffered a significant loss, will understand the complication of saying you are happy.

I have had six birthdays now as a widow. All of them were made special by dearest friends. Extremely special. Plans that were simple or extravagant, always very personal, all involving cake and all arranged with love.

This year was a first. A very, big, slightly overwhelming, tender, fragile, amazing first for me.

This year was the first year that I could say, I felt happy without there being a part inside of me that screamed Yes But.............
Because as someone who has lost someone close, you appreciate everything so much more and find yourself saying that you are happy, while there is part of you yearning and holding such a deep rooted sadness. I had accepted that part of me would always be sad. I never expected it to go.
I would read messages saying "Have an Amazing day" and think yes, but truthfully, there is only one thing now that would amaze me and that's David coming back.

I was wrong.

This was my amazing day - that this year, I did not have the "Yes, but ............."
And I was shocked. Slightly nervous.
In fact I waited for something to happen to shake me into a realization.
Then the guilt arrived and the questions of did this mean I was forgetting? How could I ever forget such an incredible part of my life, of my heart?

It hit me - no - it isn't forgetting. It doesn't require guilt. Quite the opposite.
It is a powerful turning point in my life, where I can say I loved tremendously and life happened to change the physicality of what I had and now life has also presented me with the choice to live fully, with all the knowledge and experience I have and even more.

It is a step allowing myself the gift of laughter, of joy and love, yes love again in my life. To trust again.
The gift where I have said to myself that I love and respect myself and I'm ready to share that part of me with the world. Because of everything I have been through, absolutely everything, I deserve to be genuinely happy.

This may seem like a simple step for anyone who has not lost a partner.
For me though, it felt like stepping off a cliff with a bungee rope tied to my thumb, no, a bungee rope held with my little finger.
To admit to everyone and mostly myself that I am a loving woman living right now who is excited to be alive. To be busy. To have a voice. To share my words. To be growing and to be finding new opportunities.
To have found another hand to take and turn to and make plans with. Thank you Gary.
To say I love you and to welcome it in return.

I never thought this moment would arrive and here it is. I'm in it, fully present and fully functioning.
Nobody is judging me or punishing me for being happy, far from it and, most importantly, I haven't lost anything, I have gained even more.

I always said there is no getting over or moving on - and I'm right.
It's bigger than that, it's a deeper acceptance that occurs. A stronger bond and connection that is so powerful that it embraces everything you desire, want and need.

So please, please, with all my heart - those dear tender people out there who are feeling their loss and the pain, keep turning that love back to you and keep the energy flowing, for it does grow into something else that you cannot understand or imagine yet. That you dare not believe yet.

I promise the "yes but,......." can blossom into a YES THANK YOU.

Always with love xxxx

Friday, September 7, 2018

Purpose of Instructions

I was facilitating a program this week and handed over an instruction sheet.
A participant waved the sheet in front of me and asked in a panic "Do I have to buy all of this?"
I said "Buy what?"
He again pointed to the sheet and using his six year old panic voice he squealed "All of this!"
By the way he was a forty year old executive in a great suit, but his ego and fear of the task wasn't.

The sheet he was waving between us was a set of guidelines to follow in order to achieve the task.
It was not a list of things to purchase, but in his head, he had decided what it was before reading.
He looked quite angry when I suggested just reading it.
I said it would really help him. He wasn't happy with that answer. He actually failed the task.

How human of us, to make these judgments and notions of what it is before we really do the research. How human of us to want to race in and get everything done, as though the Guinness Book of Records is watching with their hungry stop watch.

Yes it takes courage to embrace any change or new challenge, and oh how we love to be the super hero and dive right in to prove to ourselves and everyone else how bold and brave we are.
I am beginning to truly value the moments before the leap however.
When you can read the instruction card slowly.
When you can check in with yourself - is this what I want? What do I really need to set in place as my foundation so that I can explore and be present? What do I want? What do I need?

Last night I was confused as to why my front door wasn't opening.
It wasn't opening because I was pushing my car key fob at the door!
No matter how hard I pushed that fob, my front door wouldn't open.
No kidding Jayne, but my anxious head was busy in my to do list of what I needed to do once back
Panic zone, panic zone and only myself had put me into that - and miracle, and joy of joys, it's only me to get me out of that. So I stopped, reminding myself that I wasn't in charge of making the next moment in the world turn, it is capable of doing that itself.
All I needed to do was open the door to get inside.

It's OK to stop, break down your actions and don't forget to read the instructions.
It's all here to help us.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Rain in Ogunquit

This morning in Ogunquit, Maine it poured and poured with rain. It’s a summer day and expectations are high for beach, sunbathing and walking.
The small stores open with hopeful faces that people will visit between running to avoid the puddles - in fact a stream is traveling along Shore and Main Street.

By 4pm the rain has stopped and the clouds quickly roll away to reveal a bright blue sky and the sun beats down to dry everything and kiss the cold away with its warmth.

People again appear in the streets with their shorts and flip flops. Some go to the beach again with the reassurance that it’s summer as planned.

My observation is how quickly we re set. How plans are changed, option B replaces A and we face it all with the knowledge that we are ok and doing our best.

These changes described are only regarding the weather of course, though it shows to me the ability we have to adapt, accept and create a new plan. How our focus can be adjusted as swiftly as the umbrella is raised.

What a gift it was to see this beautiful little town seeped in sunshine and also washed with rain. It endured and flourishes - the flowers and grasses grateful for it all.

Perhaps we are far more capable of change than we realize and if we all notice that days will surprise us as much as the weather will change - then we can accept that and place our power in what to do in that very next moment. Not lingering in the what if and the piece that says - but I wanted to do that.

We are far more braver and creative than we realize. We can adapt and accept with grace and ease, perhaps even becoming aware of new thoughts and opportunities that our original plan may not have produced. We did after all, design the umbrella.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Better Days to Follow

I stood for a moment this morning and literally felt all energy and determined action spinning around me. Life moves so quickly and the most effective way to manage it is to stop and pause. Do nothing for a moment. Dare I say, allow some magic to do it's best within that moment. And by magic I mean your faith, your true power.
I swear there are things in action that we have no control over and that they are there to help us.

This post is for those who are going through grief and great change in some measure. Of a job, a loved one, an animal, a home. Whatever the loss, it has its whirlwind energy that can destruct and then, if allowed, it will redesign and build.

I did not believe someone when they told me three years ago that I would feel differently, and yet here I am, six years into my own grief and I do, feel differently.
For all the hard work and focus I brought to my situation, something empowered me late last year to embrace something new. For all the positive affirmations I say, the candles I light and the version of prayers I whisper, something took me by the hand and heart to lead me to the next part of my life.
One that is creating new possibilities, opportunities and new love.

I remember at my hardest point, thinking how on earth does grieving arrive at healing? How do I get there?
I'm here to state, that on top of all the hard work that you do, it is also important to stop and pause.
We have to learn to trust, and I truly believe, this may be the hardest part of our human experience.
To trust. To have faith. To believe that whatever is for our highest good will occur.

I am not ignoring the realism that life is hard and tragedy does hit. We are slammed with the tough stuff, a lot. Yet I do believe that support and comfort surrounds us. That we cry in order to arrive at hope and to see possible solutions. Sometimes the solution can only be the management of pain, and we have to accept that nothing can be perfect. I have never thought that being fulfilled and happy contains perfect. I would rather giggle through karaoke with great joy than attempt at perfect.
(Apologies to all my dear amazing singer friends!) I would rather read something with a spelling mistake that makes me think and lifts my spirit than wade through a heavy book of words I do not understand. (Apologies to all my dear amazing literary friends!)

For all those out there, aching with loss, because I know it is an overwhelming pain at times, please just stop. Just for a moment. Let it be. No analyzing it. No fighting it and no adding pace to it.
If your heart can feel this much weight, it can also give you the strength to move through.
It needs the space and freedom to do that.
No human being ever made a healthy decision through pain or anger.
And this is annoying because we want to read a map with solid instructions.
Step one: Take three pills a day with cider vinegar and spin round to face East once at midnight.
Nope! There is no step by step manual.

I am ashamed to say there was an important part of my life, where I said regularly, "I hate my life."
I recognize now it was because I was in so much fear about what was going on, and trust me, saying I hated my life, did absolutely nothing to help that situation. Far, far from it.
So if you are there, in that muddy, stuffy place where anger is constantly tap dancing on your shoulder - stop, pause. You have to. You deserve better. You'll never figure out that algebra problem by screaming at it.

There is only one way to approach it all, and it's the hardest, simplest, most powerful way to do anything and everything - love.

This is what I never understood, until I felt it, and I mean truly, authentically, honestly, hands all over myself felt it - that love will give you everything you need. And to get there - just stop, and give that love to you.
Completely, utterly, divinely to you - I promise you, better days to follow.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

August 1st as One Year

Yesterday, August 1st, marked one year since our dear friend Linda Pestana endured a traumatic fall.
Her entire life changed. From a healthy, hard working woman, she is now paralyzed from the neck down. She cannot do anything without assistance - and yet.................
Here is an incredible woman with the strongest spirit you will ever encounter.

Here is a woman who said that yesterday was about celebrating what we have.
I wrote to her and her amazing husband, Lou, about not looking back. That our responsibility is living in the moment, paying attention to what is around us, right now. There is a freedom in that. I use the word freedom with caution as I feed Linda, scratch her nose and brush her hair. I see what she goes through without truly knowing her total experience of it.

I guess, our past is about teaching us. It shows us what we want and what we do not want.
All of it deserves respect, even the difficult, sometimes traumatic events, as it shines a light on how fragile and how incredibly strong we are. That we all have that opportunity every moment to exceed what our minds think we can do. We are so very much more than that.

I taught a workshop myself this week and stressed how not to take short cuts. To dig deeper. Find the root of what is truly going on and solve that. Not the petty issues that complicate and weigh us down. It's all so simple when your mind and body are functioning well. Let's not wait until the real matters occur to be everything we truly can be. There are things to be learnt by looking back, but nothing to gain from playing the comparison game.

Linda is moving forward by seeing what she can share now from her new point of view.
From her heart, there are powerful days of gratitude and love. She calls it "learning the art of pain." She and Lou, shine and sweat from their hard work to thrive. They laugh and they cry. Every day she wakes and thinks, what now? And she does that with a purpose to make a difference. When they face the fear of when the wheelchair gets caught, when an infection spreads fiercely, when a cushion that brought comfort yesterday doesn't help today.
It is a constant adjustment and they do it like a ballet, not an aggressive fighting war march.
They approach it all with dignity and there is so much we can learn from that.

We have no idea of what this next year will bring - we do know though, that we embrace rather than push back and hide. Now that is a powerful way of living.

Excerpt from the new book from Linda Pestana:

Look at me as I look at you and together let’s shout I’m here and I’m important.
If I could ask you to do one thing, right now, could you point to yourself? Where did you point? So many of us, point to our heads, our noses, our stomachs, how many of us point to our hearts? Our hearts are where our story begins. That’s what keeps us knowing – we only know our story – no one else does. You have a mission and a purpose, please don’t wait until something happens to fulfill what you need to do as a human being on this earth.
Only love heals our hearts. Connect to that, the most genuine resource there is, and you will receive everything you need.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Making Room for Narnia

Tidying up my wardrobe this week, which included my Joan Crawford impression with the determined declaration of "No wire hangers!" I wondered when I ever thought bold stripes looked good on me and why so much orange? Be honest, dear friends, when have you seen me wearing orange?
Two large bags for the donation center later, I find myself within a pile of black tights and socks.
Take yourself back to the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Remember Richard Dreyfuss with his mountain of mashed potato? Well I have that, but with a tangle of socks and tights. So many and yes it is the cliche that none of them match. And yes I think - what does it matter, black is black and no one will notice. Until I remember the number of times I have been behind people at the security airport line and noticed how their socks do not match. No judgment, just observation and the secret, quiet joy that I'm perfect as my socks match, or do not have holes. Perhaps I will get a free upgrade because security will tell the pilot: "good pair of socks coming your way."

Then I play the clothing tennis game of donate versus keep versus burn before admitting I ever wore that. Should I really donate that blouse? I liked it once. Or the beloved attachment to the jeans that looked good for the first twenty years. I own clothing older than my passport and still expect it to look great.

HOWEVER - it is wonderfully liberating to tidy some things. Organize a drawer or two in order to make room for something new. That for once, I realize that I feel a brand new beginning without dread or the pull of guilt in letting go. That I recognize, suddenly, that me diving into the Narnia wardrobe mission is actually me making new room.

This is an important anniversary week for me. One that is full of love. My sadness is easing and being replaced with a deep respect and understanding of what we must experience if we are bold enough to truly live.

A happiness I once had and lost is also one that has allowed me to grow and smile again. How could I ever deny myself that experience when it flows through me so vibrantly to connect me to so very much?

I want to tell everyone that it is OK to continue to love. In fact, it is healthier. That the only thing I truly feel proud of is how hard I loved even when I knew it was all fading away. Perhaps that is my purpose, my gift, and now I live and smile to share that.
The important stuff is not hanging in our wardrobes. It is not what we wear or own. It is also not in our photographs, stories or memories.
It is not in what we leave behind - it is how we are standing right here, right now. What we dare to reach out toward and embrace. What we see as we look into another pair of eyes, and more importantly, what we see as we look into our own reflection.

It is within the moment in front of us. The now, the here, where everything lives. Where you find your courage, your answers, your needs. Pay attention. It's right there. It expands, wow, does it expand. Some things are not about struggle or endurance. Our brain tricks us to believe differently, but the truth is far beyond limitations or endings.
It is all eternal and it's magnificent, joyous and simply waiting for us to notice. Here is where you will find your authentic voice, the one that says no and the one that says yes.

It is a simple choice to understand that this is the time for the wonder and pure privilege of breathing and making room for more.

With love to David and all he taught me xxxxxxxxx 
January 9th 1954 to July 20th 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

My Lecture on Moving Forward

I am fifty one years old. Ever since I could talk I have complained, joked about and quite honestly, been viciously cruel to myself about what I looked like. My first word was diet. My second was cake.
I was mocked as a child, ridiculed at school through every development of myself. I've been hurt, used, ignored and taken for granted and I've then blamed myself for most of it. (What a waste of time!)

It stops now for two good reasons.

A dear friend has complimented me more than I have ever heard in my life.
This person who has looked at me, noticed that I have blue eyes, noticed the mark on my arm, noticed that the beauty of my soul shines through and how special that just may be. Noticed how close my heart is to always tumbling into every single area of my life - and that perhaps, just perhaps, that is worth being paid attention to.
Wow what a remarkable difference this makes. That I was told, I was proud to walk into that room with you. Bing, bing, bing, there's a first!

I am typing this while my dear friend Linda rests. We have worked a little on her book, then exhaustion arrives and rest needs to take over. From my seat next to her, I can see the blue of the sky, the calm of the water outside, she cannot move her head to take any of that in. It takes me a moment to gather my thoughts. It takes me a moment not to believe that the warmth & love I feel rushing through me could heal my dearest friend, she after all saved my life, it would be the natural thing to do.

So if I can't do that, the least I can do is to learn and grow and inspire.
I refuse to waste any more time on putting myself down or not on asking & finding what I want next.
I am healthy and have the privilege of being able to move, wipe my own tears away, hear words from another heart - damn - even hear another heart beat. I cannot waste any more time in not declaring what I want to do with my life.
I want to get words out there to help heal and inspire. We have important stories to share people, stand up and share your truth.

I talk a lot about privilege and I hope this post highlights what I actually mean by that.
The lesson here is not to listen to the clatter of peoples voices who themselves do not understand.
To not be the people who do that to others. To develop your self awareness to the skill of where it says I will not accept anything but everything that will be for the better of my life and that of others I choose to love and welcome into my life.

Where did hiding ever get any of us? Where did holding onto the past, good or bad, get any of us?
Keep moving forward.
Be the difference. Be extraordinary, not settling for ordinary.
Get yourself ready - for that opportunity, where you dance in joyous circles toward it, knowing that someone saw you and Saw All Of You.
For those of us who are capable of doing that - it is our duty to do that. How fortunate are we.

This is for our Linda Pestana. An incredible light in a very dark room.
(She just woke up and said what are you doing? I said changing lives.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Journey to New York

An interesting thing had happened last Sunday on my way to New York.
I was on a morning bus from Providence and in short, the man two rows behind me was not well.
When he boarded with his older friend, it was clear that the two were perhaps, eccentric, not on the same wave length as most of us or just still on the effects of alcohol and or drugs.

Long story short by two hours into the journey, the man, who claimed he was an ex marine, was slamming his head against the bathroom door, crying, trying to open the emergency exit door and screaming racial abuse at passengers. His threats to beat a man up, turned into "I will put bullets into his brain" and finally ending in "I will blow this bus up."

I have never felt so sad and scared at the same time as I literally cowered in my seat.
The police were excellent. The driver was excellent. The other passengers were excellent.
All I could imagine was how this set of circumstances may have escalated. How any one of the other people could have reacted and how that may have impacted this already tense and very troubled situation. What if he did have a gun? What if someone else did?

As someone who writes in her plays about mental illness because it interests me, I must admit I felt shame. What gives me the right to think I can share details in my work about such fragile human brains? What on earth do I know? Yes, I've seen some things, but do I really know and understand?

Like many, I was troubled about the news of the suicide of Anthony Bourdain. The image he presented does not match the image he left us with, and like many, I again am reminded that you never know.

We are so deeply tender and are effected by so many things that spin around us. I watch the television news and feel bewildered not knowing whether something is good for us or not. I see people around me and I find I second guess whether I can trust them or not. And now we hear threats and actually wonder - could that be for real?

I guess this post is just another reminder that we all need to stop and breathe. Trauma is all around us, shown in a troubled face and shown in a confident, handsome one. Success is clearly not in the outer skin and our souls, brains, hearts, and our very beings are constantly needing care and attention.

Nobody is kidding when they suggest wearing a safety belt.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Words of Freedom

A few months ago I checked a message on my phone while driving (NAUGHTY!!!).
I had to pull over and cried with happiness as I read a note from Ted Clement, artistic director of Counter Productions Theatre Company who asked if they could present a staged reading of my play "Stalking."

Thursday May 31st I sat behind a packed audience and watched this deeply personal story come to life.

I have worked extremely hard in my own life to discover that I alone own the key to my being.
Those that have disrespected me, taken my nature for granted, abused and ignored me do not have that power.
I am in control of my volume. If you get to see my joy and my truth, I am choosing to share that with you. I am aware, all too well now, and to my strength, of where I do not need to shine, and believe me, I do not. 

I am privileged to be able to have grown from trauma. My heart breaks for those that cannot and I hope that my play "Stalking" dips into that world.

A highlight on Thursday for me was when a young lady introduced herself. She had been a victim  of a stalking incident and thanked me for describing the issue well. She totally understood the stream of anger and the complicated emotions involved. It has been a great concern of mine that I do not make a commercial drama out of such a terrifying situation, so I was honored and touched that she spoke with me.

There were a few things that inspired the story of "Stalking" and one of them was the sense of never belonging. Not even to yourself.

On Thursday evening I felt I belonged. Thank you, and I mean thank you in abundance, to my friends for your continued support that has helped me achieve professional steps to pursue my ambitions to write AND the personal steps toward being happy again. 

Here it is - a man once stood over me in disgust, violation and utter disrespect. His face may haunt me but thirty three years later I rise in strength and complete freedom. 
I choose to move toward joy and invite you all to do that with me.

Always with love,

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Art of Connection

I have been thinking a lot about connection lately.
The beauty and power of both holding on and letting go. How does that connection effect us? How does letting go effect us?
How sometimes when you think about a person you see their name everywhere. A street sign, a trolley name, a famous person, a place, on a car, in the paper, on a book.

You think did that name ever exist before? Now it’s following and surrounding you. Is it trying to tell you something?

Try this - close your eyes and choose the color red. Now open your eyes and looking around find all the things that are red. They will jump out at you for attention - or is it your attention seeking them?

A dear friend of mine recently wrote about the positive effect of finding a coin that reminded him of his special grandfather. Upon seeing that coin, how it gave him a positive boost and what he did with that resourced energy.
It is known that coins may represent signs from our loved ones who are now within their next adventure.
I too will always smile when I see a coin, a dragon fly or the numbers 11 11.
For the first year of being a widow I would take a photograph of the ceiling and always, always found a white light within the picture. That happened for the entire first year and believe me, it brought such comfort. 
I did not feel so alone, I had a connection. Was it really a spirit? A blemish on my phone? I don't know, but it was a connection.

We all feel better after sometime spent with a special friend. We all find release in reading that favorite poem, book or seeing that movie that just seems to get and accept us.

Is this why some of us are attached to our phones and technology?
I understand the concern when our heads are down with fingers tapping when we are in the company of the people we are writing about. However, I also see the quiet joy of faces smiling over phones when they are miles apart.

We need to find our tricks, because they work.

There is no place like home and home is where the heart is. So to be reminded and connected to that will always provide a sense of peace where one can realign with goals, energy, purpose and living.
In all the things that we race to achieve and find - perhaps it all boils down to this.

When you're in a plane and you look down and see the land below clearly as a grid, with roads and rivers and lines, you can see how it all connects. Even a dead end is connected, and perhaps that dead end is a beginning.

So if seeing a coin or a shining light in a photograph brings inspiration and strength - then how amazing are our brains that we can create and make that happen.

If, at the end of all of this, I discover that these were actual signs - then oh what a magnificent joy that will be. Either way, and in every way, we win.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Divine Magic of Writing

In 2013 I moved to Providence and made a promise to myself to return to my play writing. I nervously began by joining a class at The Gamm Theatre in Pawtucket.

Many, many pages and five years later, it was divine creative magic that had Jessica Chace from The Gamm, choose my play to direct for the Boston Theater Marathon.

The marathon receives hundreds of submissions, fifty are chosen and then local theater companies choose the one they wish to direct. Out of fifty companies, my jaw dropped when I read in an email that I was paired with the theater that had reignited my passion. I could not have chosen better.

I was walking on air to arrive for a rehearsal of my work at that theater, with actors I had seen and admired in productions, and here they are performing lines I had written. Every playwright understands that feeling. It's delightfully surreal.

Sometimes, we work incredibly hard and sometimes it is faith, whispers of connection and pure divine magic that will offer a helping hand. I have always loved feeling that there are wings around us and just occasionally when I have felt them; I am lifted into my true, authentic self.
My writing has, (always was actually) a place where I love, cry, laugh, grow and live. I am so fortunate when others want to join me in that exploration.

In anticipation of the performance in Boston this Sunday - I want to thank Kate Snodgrass for creating this amazing theater marathon. It is an honor to be included.

Thank you to The Blue Cow Group - my writers group, we too came together through classes at The Gamm Theatre and have been working hard and inspiring one another to achieve some pretty cool work.

I want to thank Jessica Chace, for reading my work and bringing it into a delicate, vulnerable life with our talented actors Rachel Dulude and Tom Chace.

You have made this lady a happy one.  Did I say - THANK YOU xx

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Loud Stuff & Cookies at an Airport

This week while waiting at an airport gate in Washington DC, I suddenly saw something leap in front of me and I screamed. Screamed like a child. No, I screamed as loud as a 51 year old adult can scream. There was I, sitting, early morning, eating my breakfast, I did not expect this.

A small bird had jumped out from the chair opposite to practically land at my feet, to beg for the cookie I was consuming. I screamed, the bird screamed, then shrugged its shoulders in disappointment (or sarcasm) and flew off.

Embarrassment arrived as I lifted my head expecting to be surrounded by armed security while everyone else would be laying on the floor. I would be arrested, green card taken and wearing orange before my flight had pulled in.

I looked around. The young girl opposite me said bless you, thinking I had sneezed, while the other said "Yeah fuck, I thought that was a rat."
Everything had stopped for me and yet only two people and a tiny bird noticed.

Isn't it funny from our own prospective of how we view situations? How most things are so important, noisy and busy while no one else is paying attention. How loud we think we are or how quiet we think we are.

At another gate the day before two men were talking. Actually, let me say one was talking while the other had to listen. He was demonstrating his male dominance about a work story that featured pornography suddenly appearing on a computer screen. It was sexist, loud and boring and the two ears that had to listen (others at the terminal had no choice) nodded patiently. At the end of the story the man declared "I'm going to write a book." I could literally feel the sigh of everyone say "dear God don't bother."

On the other side of this coin, I recently worked with an incredible woman and could see how those around her were so busy attempting to keep up with her energy, they could not actually assist her. In her need to achieve her mission, she had forgotten to give basic instructions and there was a frenzied flurry where she had to complete most of the tasks herself.
In order to do something, you cannot do everything, I wanted to whisper to her. But who am I?

The sad days arrive when we think we are being noticed, or belong, or cared for and we are simply are not. When we believe we ourselves are noticing, caring for and making those around us feel they belong, while we are not.

I am bewildered at how we run and race and do so alone, while others huff and puff believing that the world is paying attention. Houses are to be built, not blown away. We are worth so much more than that.

As I boarded that flight, I was thinking, about the word 'together'. I feel it means to gather strength, love, and to gather happiness. I fancy some of that.
I should have shared that cookie, I thought. We all should.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Triple A & David Bowie

Last week, I had a conversation with my triple A man, aged 27 years - "I'm 28 on Sunday" he boasted as he fixed a new car battery.
He then asked me if I liked sports.
Then he asked me if I liked shopping. (I like shopping about as much as I like sports.)
Then he asked what music do you like?
"Well my absolute favorite is David Bowie" I replied.
"Oh" he says "Is he like Michael Buble?"

No, dear sweet, young triple A man - David Bowie is nothing like Michael Buble.

Throughout my life, the incredible music of Bowie has been my partner.
In moods, dance, inspiration, spirits, love, love making, ambition and work.
He is part of some of my favorite memories involving my brother, both of us screaming from a balcony in London as Bowie simply walked onto the stage and began to sing.
(Another terrifying memory was when my brother told me he too was an alien and could pull his face off, after we had watched The Man who Fell to Earth.)
A previous boss & friend of mine communicates a need for help with a Bowie phrase.
I use it constantly to write. I use it to change my mood, to boost my confidence, to simply move.
My connections are deep and wide. That's what we create when we find our musical heroes.

I miss David Bowie. The day he died, my brother and I could not talk.
I thought - no I'm OK, with the experience that I have been through, I'll be fine. I wasn't and seeing his face, and many faces, flash on the breakfast news was too much.

When a hero dies, whom we have never met, it does something to us. It's that bleak reminder, again, that none of us get out of this alive. That we are vulnerable, that there is a ticking clock.
The possibility to meet a hero, to thank them, to have eyes meet, is now over. The anticipation when you get the concert tickets, or hear that there is a new album. The idea that you might just bump into them as you walk through New York City. It all ends when you hear they died. I wonder if it is just another piece of your hope that dies? Especially if they've been a hero since your childhood. It's another recognition that there is no Santa, Disneyland is expensive and easy diets do not exist.

So, thank you young triple A man for at last giving me the boost to post this blog with my humble thank you to my David Bowie.
Plus, what a joy, to find that now, I join the older people bracket and can honestly say - nobody writes music like that anymore.

I still don't know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I'd got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I've never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I'm much too fast to take that test

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Blissful Love on Valentines Day

I love Valentines Day, of course I do!
I found this poem in a book of anonymous writings and wanted to share.
Enjoy your day, always turn to love and never take it for granted x

Is the real truth found within that moment
When you think
Could we be? Did we just....
Move slowly, or quickly into blissful intimacy.
Quiet time together
Longing for touch that lingers only
One breath away.

That gaze between lovers
Of years or just moments.
Trust into passion
And jumping back again.
Conversation and wine
Tea and toast.
That tumble of choices and kisses
Of ideas, of words and song.

I am fortunate to have embraced it all
Yet remain desiring for more.
As much as my life is full
With sun and glorious moon,
My heart beats for me and for another
Always to join.

Please bring that reaching hand,
With mind, soul and heart,
That, like mine
Gazes and whispers yes.
Finding the real truth within that moment
When you think, when we think
Could we be? Did we just....

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Like Water Keep Moving

After a work trip away this week, I had a long journey back home which included a matrix of logistics that had my brain needing to think step by step, and, I will admit, my soul was heavy and complicated with new emotions and feelings that deserved attention.

As I drive, I relax and go with the rise and fall of my feelings. I feel the strength and the tears, the empowerment and the loss and I attempt to pay no attention to any of them, I need to just let them flow in and flow out.  Welcome them, see them, then let them go. Like water is in constant movement - I need to do the same. Trusting that what is true and healthy for me, will eventually settle.

The miles and hours pass, the various drop off and collection points happen. Stairs, boxes, petrol, airport, return rental car, call a Lyft driver, blah blah blah. I even notice the emptiness of the moving walkway at the airport and what it conjures for me inside. How my brain lingers on the loneliness and not the moving forward.

I'm finally at my last leg that will get me home and at that point - I am stopped in my tracks. My car has a flat battery and the occurrence of that had nothing to do with me. Not my fault.  An unintentional mistake by somebody else. A flat battery. Just at the point where I said, look at all of that I did carefully and simply, now I get to rest and let go. A dead battery gives me another thing to solve.
I can hear Alanis Morissette singing "Isn't that ironic, don't you think.?"

I had lead a wonderful workshop earlier that day, to set off a year of coaching and leadership to a determined group of people. One of their major concerns is how to keep the momentum going, and as I suggested the only way to do that is to simply make all of this good, healthy thinking a habit. Things can happen with thought, but, action is also required. Yes its hard work, and the brain tells us how challenging it all is - when truthfully we just need to breathe and keep moving. When we have that privilege we need to use it.

So, here's my point. There will be times we feel we have stopped. There will be times that we must slow down, as indeed there are times for the opposite, to rush, giddily forward and leap. All of it is always, absolutely always moving. We can't be afraid of that, actually we could gain hope from that. The classic saying of this too shall pass. And so it always does.

I watch the river flowing
An ocean gushing, swaying, pounding
Or as silk and settled
Even then it stirs.
Is it doing it because of the pull of gravity?
Or through pure magic unseen, unknown?

Like water is in constant movement - we need to do the same.

Happy February everyone & much love.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Inspired by

It is at times easier to sit in bitterness and hold onto regret and anger.
There is a fear in letting go. There is a fear in being an open heart.
What if I love again? What if it is mistreated, again.
What if I'm used, again? What if I'm lied to, again? What if I lose, again?

And what if I don't?
What if someone pays attention, spends time and opens with you? With me.
What if they don't just talk at you, but they take time to ask, to listen, to share?
Will we be brave enough to answer? Will we know what we want to say?

To base a life upon lies, denial, sadness is to limit our true expression and what I believe to be our honest soul.

I admire leaders (known and unknown) who keep stepping forward. It is not moving on,
it is moving toward.To turn all we learn into a positive strength.

As I pay respect to Martin Luther King today - I know I personally still have a dream,
and am fortunate and grateful for everything that supports me.For those of us lucky enough to be in that position, it is our responsibility to achieve all we can, in small and large ways.Who wouldn't want to share that gift?

There is power in silence while looking honestly into someones eyes.
There is power, strength, intelligence and sheer joy in love.
I know my truth and I long to share it. That act in itself is my courageous purpose.
I want that in my life.

I am inspired today by a man who did that. This is my truth, my freedom.

For my Universe

I have had so many thoughts recently for blog posts that could be inspiring for those around me, and yet I can never quite find the words. M...