Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Don't swing from anger to compassion without stopping at grief.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Thank you for all your love, prayers and support for our boy, Rojo. He's feeling better. Finally. A month of lethargy, mysterious symptoms, non-responses to different meds, etc.

I finally took him to the children's naturopath that is in partnership with my naturopath. I knew she would know what to do, and maybe I was reluctant to know. You know?

We met with her for 90 minutes. She asked us one million questions. She examined him head-to-toe. Then she started in on the list of what we need to radically change: his diet, eliminate allergens in the home, add in a bunch of supplements, get him orthotics, etc., etc., etc. That's pretty much about the time I started to cry. Just a little. She said, "I know this is overwhelming. I expect you to have questions. I expect you to call me or e-mail me all the time. I will do everything I can do at my home, to make this work at your home. If I need to bake muffins and bring them in for him, I'll do it."


The same woman that e-mailed me three times on a Sunday.

That's who.

My latest angel in a whole string of angels in my life, and the lives of my children.

Rojo took to her INSTANTLY, he was funny, he was profound, he spouted off exact dates for her, "I got my braces on 8/13/09." When she asked me if he'd ever had asthma, I said no. He corrected me. "No, remember when I was three and I had to take that puffer one time?" He participated fully.

He was ready to heal.

That's the only thing keeping me from throwing myself over the nearest bridge - the belief that we couldn't have done all this until he was game, until he was buying in - basically, until he felt like shit and was ready to help us help him.

He came home from the appointment and tried a Trader Joe's SPINACH PIZZA. Since Friday he's eaten a total of SIX spinach pizzas. SPINACH!

On Saturday I got him to try peanut butter. Of course I had to promise to be "furious" promise I'd "throw a fit" and "flip my wig." But it worked. He ate, and I was furious, had a fit, and flipped my wig. All. Day. Long.

At dinner he had one raspberry. His first ever.

Tonight is also the night that Rojo is having his first sleepover. He's never spent the night with a friend, or asked to have a friend here. About a week ago he was telling me about his friend K.'s plans. "K. is spending the night with G. on Friday and M. on Saturday." He looked wistful.

"Would you like to have a friend sleep at our house sometime?" I asked, betting money he'd say no.

"Yes!" he said, "I'd like K."

I contacted K.'s mom. I explained the whole thing. I said it would need to be unconventional, and because Rojo goes to bed early and gets up early, a weekend probably wouldn't work for K., but what about a school night? That way they'd only have a few hours together before bed, and the next morning would be all about getting up and getting to school.

"Carrie," she replied, "I asked K., he didn't even hesitate for a second. He'd love to come. He'll be there Monday at 5:00, right after he finishes his homework."

K.'s mom used to be a special ed teacher, I found out. No accidents.

The boys are having a ball, laughing, eating popcorn, watching Monday Night Football. And I am off in a nearby corner typing.

And feeling grateful.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Thursday from 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM:

"Mom, tomorrow we will go to Fred Meyer at 7:00 AM (he didn't have school Friday). We will use the Self-Check. We will spend $35.35."

"Mom, if we buy three things for $10 each and one thing for $3.35, then we will spend exactly $35.35." (We don't have sales tax in Oregon, thank God.)

"Mom, do you think Swedish Fish cost $10 each? Should we buy three bags of Swedish Fish and one more thing?"

"Mom, wake me up at 6:45, I will just boom, get dressed, eat and brush my teeth, and we will go to Fred Meyer at 7:00 AM. Don't forget. Promise you won't forget. I can count on you, right? You won't let me down?"

Friday I awoke, ate, dressed and was just about to go get him when he woke up on his own (it's a rare thing for him to sleep that late, so I was sure I wouldn't need to "remember").

"Mom, I'm so proud of you for remembering! Good job in remembering! You didn't let me down! I'm so excited to go to Fred Meyer and spend $35.35! Let's get ready."

We were at Fred Meyer by 7:10. They open at 7:00. The boy needs new sweat pants as he's grown and all his are too short. I thought, perfect, that'll take us close, then we'll find one more thing and be out of here.

We walked straight to the sweat pants, found a pair he liked in his size. $32.00.

"Look!" I cried. "Now we just need to spend $3.35!"

He was thrilled. We walked hand in hand through the deserted store, and I cursed myself for forgetting a calculator. We roamed the aisles and I kept scratching out simple subtraction on the back of my checkbook deposit slips. One by one our possibilities were eliminated.

After about 30 minutes of this it finally occurred to me that we could just buy the damn sweat pants and then buy a gift card for $3.35. Smugly we proceeded to the Self-Check. We beckoned the one checker that was stationed in that area to help us "load" the gift card, and we swiftly swiped.

The &%@# sweat pants rang up for $22.40. The first time in my life I was unhappy to be saving a few bucks.

It took me longer to realize than I care to admit, that I could simply increase the value of the gift card. The nice (and lonely) checker helped me void out the $3.35 and change the value to $12.95.

We walked out of there with the sweat pants, the receipt with the "right" number at the bottom (the only thing of value as far as Rojo was concerned), and a gift for Rosie's birthday, too.

As we held hands back to the car Rojo looks up, flashes the dimples and says, "Tomorrow we're going to try for $20.20."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm taking a 10-week writing class, and I'm taking it with my friend, Deb. Just started today. I have been "creatively blocked" for so long it's beyond a block. Today the teacher gave a prompt that I was actually excited to get home and start working around.

Here's the prompt: Write a story about a child or very young adult's notion of the spiritual, the magical, or the religious. I encourage you to make the child the "I" in the story--but it can be fiction or memoir or a hybrid.

Include in your story a hot beverage, a specific kind of tree, and something that has or is believed by someone in the story to have some magical property.

Here's my first stab at it, which ended up being 90% memoir and 10% fiction, so I guess that qualifies it as my new favorite word, "hybrid."


I am going to be lifted right up off the ground and taken to heaven. That’s what Grandma says. She says the end of the world is coming, probably in her lifetime, but definitely in mine. Grandma should know because she was married to a Baptist minister before he died and went to heaven to be with God. Plus, she went to a special Bible college. She says all the good people are going to be just scooped right up from wherever they are standing, from whatever it is that they are doing, from whoever they are talking to. Boom. They are just going to get picked up and fly into the air up to heaven. Then something bad is going to happen to all the bad people left behind. People that haven’t accepted the Lord, Jesus Christ, as their personal Lord and savior. That’s who.

Mom and I are visiting Grandma. She lives in a special community full of old people that are all either retired Baptist ministers, or the wives of one. Pilgrim Haven. That’s the name of the place.

“Grandma?” I ask, shouldn’t it be Pilgrim HEAVEN, after the heaven?

Grandma picks up her special tea cup with matching saucer and sips her mostly tepid water with just one dunk of a used up tea bag in it. She’s saving. "Waste not, want not" is pretty much her favorite expression. That, and “Pretty is as pretty does.”

“Sweetheart,” Grandma answers me, “a haven is a place that’s peaceful and restful, and that’s what this place is. A peaceful and restful place for those of us that have been God’s pilgrims, until we can be with Him in heaven when He calls us.”

Whatever it’s called, haven or heaven, it is pretty here. There are palm trees all around. We don’t have that type of tree where I live, up in Oregon, but down here in California, they do. Lots of them. It’s a palm tree haven.

I love Grandma, but I don’t like to hug her that much. She has whiskers on her chin and her breath never smells good, no matter how many times she scrubs her dentures. Mom said the reason she had to get dentures when she was 39 years old was on account of the fact that she had eight kids and no prenatal vitamins. Those kids sucked all the calcium right out of her teeth. That’s what mom says.

Grandma takes another sip of her “tea,” puts the cup and saucer down on the cedar hope chest, and starts to unfasten her hair. I put a quick hand up to my own head, smoothing down my shoulder length dishwater blond hair, and wonder how much longer it would take to get it as long as Grandma’s, probably like ten more years. Grandma’s is all the way down to her butt, but it doesn’t go straight across in a line, like mine, it goes more in the shape of a V.

Grandma pulls tortoise shell pins from her hair, they’re in the shape of huge long U’s. I think they’re beautiful. In fact, I think they are magical. I think that having one of those hairpins in my hair would make me like Grandma. It would give me special powers, almost like magic, and for sure, for sure I’d be taken up with Jesus when he comes again, and not stuck down here with all the people that worship Satan and will probably just get burned to death in the pits of hell.

Mom comes walking in the door, back from running to the grocery store to get Noxema, queen-sized pantyhose, bananas and Tums for Grandma. “Hi, Mom,” my mom says to Grandma. “I got all the things on your list.” It’s weird to hear Mom call Grandma, Mom.

As Grandma looks up to see Mom, the real mom in the room, I quick, steal a hairpin off the cedar hope chest, and put it into the pocket of my jeans. I just hope that the magic of the hairpin will kill whatever work of the devil I just did by stealing.

* Photo from

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Rojo is not right. He's just plain not right. We've tried a number of things to get him right, but he keeps getting wronger. We're going to see a naturopath on Friday. I'm sure she will be full of healthy and nutritious ways to get him back to the peak of health, none of which I have any confidence I'll be able to get him to try.

I'm deeply concerned.

One might say obsessed.

One would be right.

Last night I dreamed I was holding a little baby boy (3 months old?). I knew that he was a twin. I didn't know who or where his other twin was.

I think I just figured it out.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Woohoo, my MIL and I did our 10th Race for the Cure today. Portland has the third biggest Race for the Cure in the country, and biggest on the west coast (estimated 50,000 people today). My mother is an eighteen-year survivor, and this has become our tradition. Each year I can hardly see through all the tears. It's so touching to see all the "In celebration of..." signs on people's backs, and more than I can stand to see the "In memory of..."

To stand beside my 81-year-old mother-in-law in her pink hat and special survivor's shirt, and my blossoming daughter, fills me. It fills me with solidarity. It fills me with awe of all those lives affected. It fills me with hope that we will find a cure.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Not just you parents, all those that love our kids, and us, too.

Thank you for that, btw.

Join me here today.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


There was a family of quail outside my door a little bit ago. They fascinate me. The mother and father move in and around the group of their children, their number impossible to count because they move so quickly. Are there fourteen little babies? Sixteen? Did I count that one already? Oh, there's one more over there.

After they walk, hop and fly away beyond the view of my open sliding glass door, I go to the computer and Google "symbolism of quail." I read: protectiveness, group harmony, devotion, permanence, eternity, and life cycles.

It is no accident the quail are here with me today. These are the themes I'm turning over in my mind.

* Photo from


Ever since the day Rojo was born, I knew his story was a story I was born to tell, and so for 13 years I've been trying to figure out a way to tell it. I've started umpteen times to write a book. I've blogged. I've journaled. I've talked the ears off of friends.

My dear, sweet, wise editor and friend said, "The reason you can't write his story, is that he's still living his story."

She was right.

This summer was a weird one for Rojo, and for me. He got braces. He turned 13. And I think for the first time, he's become aware that he's different. He's cleaved to people, comfort items and rituals from the past, as though his life depended on it, which I'm sure to some degree, it did. It does.

Labor Day Weekend he developed some weird swollen eyelid thing. Allergies? Infection? Something really awful? My mind went straight to worse case scenario, and I became completely obsessed. "My eyes are just swollen from all the crying," he said, when I asked him if they hurt.

You see he's been crying easily, too. He's cried more in the last three months, than he has in the last ten years.

Something deep within him is shifting. It's more than puberty. It's more than the trauma of braces. It's more than just becoming aware of his differences.

He's not who and what he was.

He's not who or what he will become.

He's in transition.

And for the first time I'm starting to really get that "his" story isn't even about him, it's about me. It's about the power and force of being his mother.

Now maybe that story will allow itself to be written.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


My friend Courtney Sheinmel is the next Judy Blume. The next, I tell you. In her second 'tween (ages 10-14) novel, POSITIVELY, Courtney tells the story of 13-year-old Emerson, "Emmy," her struggle being HIV positive, and transitioning after her mother's death due to AIDS. I was lucky enough to get an Advanced Reader Copy (because I'm an advanced reader). I devoured the whole thing within a couple of days and took it to my local independent bookstore planning to talk them into ordering it. Alas, they were already planning to, because Courtney's first book, MY SO-CALLED FAMILY did so well for them.

If anyone deserves success as a writer, it's Courtney, and if anyone "gets" 'tweens, it's Courtney. Friends, meet Courtney!

Q: Talk to us about being involved in the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. What prompted you to do a thing like that, and did you ever in a million years think you'd turn that experience into a book?

A: Thanks for asking about the Foundation ( – it’s an amazing organization, founded by the late Elizabeth Glaser and two of her closest friends. In 1991, when I was thirteen years old, I read an article about Elizabeth in People Magazine. She talked about being HIV-positive, losing her daughter to AIDS, and starting the Foundation to try and save her young son. I thought it was one of the bravest, saddest, most hopeful stories I had ever heard. There was an address at the end of the article, for readers who wanted to send donations to the Foundation, and I sent ten dollars from my babysitting money. A few weeks later, I received a thank you note.

Now, you have to understand, I was in eighth grade; I’d never made a charitable donation before, and I knew nothing of form letters and tax deductions. So when I got this letter on Foundation stationary, signed by Elizabeth Glaser, it made me feel incredibly special and connected to the cause. The next month, I sent another ten dollars. It became my monthly routine, and I actually did start to know a few people in the office – at least by phone and mail. A year later, I decided I wanted to work in the Foundation’s Los Angeles office for the summer. My family lived in New York, but my mother’s incredibly generous friend Samantha, who was based in LA, offered to let me stay with her. It was one of the best summers of my life.

Back then, I was always writing stories, and I did have ideas for writing a book about HIV/AIDS; but it was always a sibling or a friend of the narrator who was infected. I didn’t really consider writing a book from the perspective of someone who was HIV-positive herself until I started writing POSITIVELY.

Q: Being HIV-negative, what concerns did you have about "pulling it off?" What obstacles did you have to overcome, either literally or emotionally, and what was most helpful in overcoming them?

A: I was very nervous about doing right by this story. The narrator, Emerson, has to face life as an HIV-positive teen, and as a motherless daughter. Those things seemed so sacred and sometimes I felt like I didn’t have a right to tell the story. One night I had dinner with Elizabeth Glaser’s son, Jake – the boy she started the Foundation to save. He’s all grown up now, and a close friend. I was near tears and I told him I felt like a fraud. He encouraged me to keep going. He said he believed in me, and believed I could tell the right story. I will always be grateful to him for that.

Q: I love all the references to Sheryl Crow, tell us, why Sheryl Crow?

A: Simply because I love Sheryl Crow – I think she is a wonderful songwriter, and her voice is very comforting to me. When I was writing, I often had her music on in the background, playing in a loop. There was one line in particular that kept coming back to me, because it seemed to fit Emerson so well: What is yours you’ll never lose, and what’s ahead may shine. It’s from the song “Diamond Road,” and it’s now the epigraph of the book.

Q: What are your favorite things about the book?

A: I often name characters after people I know. It’s one of my favorite parts of writing, and when I reread my work, I love seeing my friends’ names – it’s like proof that the book in my hands is actually mine. The names of my friend Michelle O'Neil's kids are in POSITIVELY – in fact, the boy named Seth says a few things that the real-life Seth has said.

There are also characters named after my stepsister, her husband and kids. One day I called my niece, Nicki, and told her that I’d named Emerson’s best friend – a very pivotal character – after her. I thought she would be thrilled. Instead she asked if I could name a character after her dog, Dakota, who had just died. I hadn’t been planning to put any dogs in the book. Nicki was really disappointed, so I agreed to write in a dead dog named Dakota, and it ended up being part of one of my favorite scenes. Thank you, Nicki!

Q: The opening line is fantastic, (“When my mother died I imagined God was thinking, One down, and one to go.”) When did it come to you, and when did you know that would be your beginning?

A: I think I just turned on the computer and started writing, and that was the first thing that came out. It has always been the opening line, even though the book went through a lot of editing.

Q: Why do you write 'tween fiction, and are you considering adult fiction? Memoir? Any other genre?

A: When I was in college, I wrote mostly memoir and I just assumed that my first book (if I ever wrote one) would be in that genre. Then I graduated, went to law school, and started working as a litigation associate. One night I was having dinner with my friend Allyson, telling her about how I really wanted to be a writer instead of a lawyer. I’ll never forget it: I was eating a spicy tuna roll at Josie’s on the eastside, and the idea for an eleven-year-old character just came to me – the character that ended up being the narrator of my book SINCERELY, SOPHIE (out in June 2010 from Simon & Schuster). That’s when I started seriously thinking about kidlit, and seriously writing. I tell Allyson that having dinner with her changed my life.

I would like to write in another genre, someday – I’d love to write a memoir, and write adult fiction. But for now I’m in the kidlit world, and I really love it here.

Q: What advice to you have to writers, young and old?

A: Read a lot. Write a lot – write what you know, write things that interest YOU, and not what other people are telling you to write. And be persevering.

Thanks, Courtney!

POSITIVELY is in stores TODAY, or you can order here.

For a preview of the book, click here.

Monday, September 14, 2009


As part of today's pilgrimage with Mary, the exercise was to make a list of ten people that have given us a gift - said something we never forgot, were there for us when we needed them, gave us a physical gift we have treasured, or reflected back to us something we were looking for. We were to write the name of the person, how old we were at the time, where we were at the time, and what the gift was. I tried to just write the first ten names that popped in my head, and had difficulty stopping at ten, but because I am a rule follower, and the rules clearly said "stop at ten," I did.

The reason we were to stop at ten was that was only half the exercise. The other half was to do the same thing but for people we have gifted.

I found both halves of the exercise very illuminating - of course nowhere on either list was something I'd actually "given" or been "given." Nothing I'd gone shopping for. Nothing I'd wrapped, shipped off, delivered with a flourish. What showed up for me most on list #1, was the way certain people throughout my life have made me feel. Namely: seen, heard, validated, special.

List #2 also revealed a list of those that have gifted me - gifted me by allowing me to share my gifts with them.

* Photo from

Saturday, September 12, 2009


"It's that I leap and then I look
At all the chances that I took
Feel the air, miss the catch
So I have to swing back

My timing's all wrong
And the ladder is gone
And all I can do, is
Swing 'til it's all net below
All I can do, is
Swing 'til it's all net below
And I can let go"

From "No Net Below" by Jonatha Brooke

There's a mixed CD I made for a friend months ago, but never burned a copy for myself. I got a nudge this week to burn a copy for me, and so I did. I've been listening to it ad nauseam, and turns out? About every song is either about love., angels and/or Mary. No accidents. Didn't "plan" it that way when I made the CD, just liked the songs. It's got Kris Delmhorst singing "Love and Everything," it's got Tracy Grammer singing "Mother, I Climbed," and it's got Patty Griffin singing "Mary."

It also has Jonatha Brooke singing "No Net Below," and for some reason, those lyrics have gotten in my brain and won't let go. It speaks to where I am now - swinging, swinging, swinging, looking wildly around for the net.

The very next song on the CD is Edie Carey singing "Fall or Fly." She sings:

"So don't look down, no
It's all in your head, baby
It's about time you decide
If you're gonna fall or fly"

In this pilgrimage with Mary that I'm on, the book is doing a lovely job of getting me to consider prayers, songs, poems and scripture in different, really illuminating ways. Today was all about how Mary "pondered in her heart," her heart being her whole self: mind, body and spirit. It says, "Ultimately, pondering in the heart means reflecting on things from a perspective of love..."

And we all know that love and fear cannot co-exist, so there's the rub. I've been reflecting on things from a perspective of fear, and not love.

It's all in my head.

It's about time I decide if I'm gonna fall or fly.

* Photo from

Friday, September 11, 2009


* Phot from

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"In the dark night of the soul bring some comfort to us all,
O Mother Mary come and carry us in your embrace,
That our sorrows may be faced"

From "Requiem" by Joan Baez

A bunch of us started the pilgrimage with Mary, some started Tuesday, some are getting started today, some will start next week, still others will start when the Spirit moves them. Mary doesn't care. I know, because she told me.

I have had a little "thing" going with Mary for a long, long time (like 40 years) I've been in the closet, but no more. I'm coming OUT, baby! SO out that I bought a Virgen de Guadalupe T-shirt and wore it all over town Tuesday.

I am really loving the book, THE WAY OF MARY, and apparently I'm not the only one. Many of you have ordered the book, too, new copies are temporarily out of stock, but fear not, you can order a used copy and get someone else's Mary ju-ju for FREE!

And, did any of you happen to notice that OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE: Mother of the Civilization of Love is on the BESTSELLER list? Mary is going PRIME TIME, people!

THE WAY OF MARY suggests creating a sacred space/altar/etc... before you begin your pilgrimage, so on Monday night I was scurrying around getting a few things: a Mary candle, a Mary seed, a tea light, that sort of thing. A dear friend gave me a "portable altar" to take with me when I travel, and I got that out. It has all these cool nooks and crannies, all of which I thought I'd thoroughly inventoried/examined. One little cubby beckoned me, I thought for sure it was empty and was going to store my matches and extra tea lights in there, but no, it had one little tiny thing in there. WHAT was it you asked? A MARY PENDANT I had no recollection of every acquiring, thank you very much.

I put all my Mary stuff in my closet, where I planned to hide in in the early morning hours Tuesday before anyone woke up. I set my alarm for 5:30 and went to bed. About 2:00 I woke up and was WIDE awake (fortunately, since the patch, a rare occurrence these days). I decided to head to the closet and start the pilgrimage right away. I'm reading along, all about the annunciation - when Mary is told by the angel that she is to carry the son of God. I'm underlying like crazy, really feeling "it," and I come to a "Reflection Question" that asks, "Has it every occurred to you when something awakens you in the night that it might be an angel of annunciation?"

I'd never thought about it that way, but the book helped me take apart the word "annunciation" and really look at it more as a sign, direction, a message of love.

No accidents.

And that was just the first day...

* Photo from

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Amazing author, mother, wife and human, Hope Edelman, has a new book coming out, THE POSSIBILITY OF EVERYTHING. Can enough be made of that title alone? It's the story of a week she and her husband spent with their then three-year-old daughter, Maya in Belize, where they sought help in separating their daughter from her imaginary friend gone bad.

If you did not have a chance to watch the trailer yesterday, you may want to do that now by clicking here.

1) Tell us about what was going on with your little girl when she was three, that made you consider doing something that you would never thought you'd consider. You said her imaginary friend had gotten out of hand, can you tell us more about that?

My daughter developed an imaginary friend rather suddenly right around her third birthday. Everyone told me it was developmentally appropriate—I’d even had one myself, at the same age—but something about her attachment to him didn’t feel quite right to me from the start. She would act out and blame him, and would talk at great length about how and where he and others like him lived (“on the big cold island with no one to protect them”).

I reacted the same way most mothers would, I suppose: first I went looking for information in my childcare books, then I spoke with the preschool teacher, and then I consulted with our pediatrician. When her behavior became more unusual, talking to him and about him much of the time, I consulted with a therapist friend who specialized in children. She offered a logical, psychological explanation about how kids split their egos at this age, but again, it didn’t feel like the answer. In the midst of all this, our babysitter, who was from Nicaragua, assessed the situation and concluded that my daughter had a spirit attached to her that needed to be removed. It sounded wacky to me, but I trusted her, and was willing to give it a try. Carmen performed a very simple ritual, and it seemed to help. That was the first time I thought, Huh. Maybe there’s some other way of looking at this situation that might be useful. Then, right before we left for Belize my daughter became sick with a virus that wouldn’t go away. When she started telling us the friend didn’t want her to get well, that’s when things moved from being just creepy to being frightening for me.

Still, I think it’s important to look at both my daughter’s behavior and my reaction to it in the larger context. At the time, I was a terribly homesick New Yorker transplanted to Los Angeles; my husband was working backbreaking hours at an internet start-up and I was left to raise our daughter mostly alone; and my once-thriving career was virtually at a standstill. Plus, the world around me seemed to have gone beserk. A million people were fleeing from Belgrade during an attempt to overthrow Milosevic, a U.S. navy carrier was attacked by terrorists off the coast of Yemen, and then the disputed Bush-Gore November election took place. I badly needed to experience some magic at that time, and I can’t say that didn’t influence the way I was experiencing and interpreting the events around me.

2) Tell us more about Uzi's research, how did he settle on Belize and this particular "treatment?"

We originally chose Belize as a family vacation destination because my husband is a diver, and Belize has the second-largest coral reef in the world after Australia’s. As our December departure date approached, it started becoming clear to us that we were really going to be making the trip for our daughter. When I’d started researching the country back in October—that’s one of my roles in our family; I’m a total research nut—I found a fairly recent memoir, Sastun, written by an American woman who had apprenticed with a Maya shaman in Belize. We started reading it as we were traveling down to Belize, and it became our introduction to the concept of Maya spiritual healing, which is actually a very gentle and simple process involving incense, prayers, flowers, and baths. We booked a clinical appointment with the author of Sastun for our daughter, but because we kept missing flights trying to get down to Belize we also missed our scheduled appointment. Unlike me, my husband was inclined toward those ideas from the very start. I was the skeptic in the family at the beginning of the story, and he was absolutely the more openminded one.

3) Does your daughter remember this chapter from her life? What are her thoughts about it all now? How old is she now, and how's she doing?

You know, it’s interesting that you ask what she remembers. It’s by far the most common question I'm asked. I’d originally thought she didn’t remember much of the trip, but just the other day she and I were talking in the car and it turns out she remembers more than I gave her credit for. Most of her memories are from later in the trip, after she’d recovered from her physical illness, and much of it comes in images, as you’d expect from a three-year-old’s experience. She remembers playing with the little boy in the rainforest, and losing her doll at the beach. In a larger sense she does remember having had an imaginary friend, though I don’t think she recalls it as quite the same kind of problem we did. She’s now eleven, and she’s grown up to become an incredibly imaginative, creative child with a great interest in both plants and in the country of Belize. So I like to think that what the healers did for her down there worked its way into her development, in some ways.

5) How did that one week permanently change you? What is the most tangible way you are different now, than you were before you boarded that plane to Belize?

Ooh. This is a good question. I guess I’d have to say that I boarded the plane in Los Angeles as an avowed skeptic dependent on scientific evidence as my marker for what’s “real”, and returned home ten days later with a new willingness to accept there are things at work in this world that we can’t see, explain, or even understand. (I couldn’t come up with a better word in that last sentence than “things,” to give you an idea of how profoundly language fails us when we try to talk about these ideas.) Did I come back as a wholesale believer in alternative phenomena? No way. I still raise my eyebrows at a lot of what I see and hear these days. But I’m much more comfortable living with ambiguity now. I believe there’s a lot at work that I can’t see or prove, and I’m okay with that now. It’s actually a relief to accept that, I find.

6) What is the scariest part of telling this story, and what gave you
the courage to tell it anyway?

That would definitely be the risk of going out into the world with such a wacky-but-true story and not knowing what effect it might have on my reputation as a serious writer. And also exposing my husband’s and daughter’s actions for public scrutiny, since they entrusted me to tell our story honestly and graciously. Way, way back when I first started writing the book, I began it as a novel for these reasons. But about six months or a year into the process I decided to write it as memoir. By that point, I’d become a collection dish for other people’s whispered stories of otherwise inexplicable experiences, and I started realizing how important it is for all of us to share these stories. And if I, as a writer with the ability to get my story published, couldn’t find the courage to tell mine as it had really happened, then who would?

Thank you so much, Hope!

To pre-order your copy of THE POSSIBILITY OF EVERYTHING, which releases next week, September 15th, click here!

(BTW, if you noticed that Hope's daughter's name is MAYA, and she received MAYA healing, you can read more about that, too, on an upcoming post on

Monday, September 07, 2009

Tomorrow I am interviewing author Hope Edelman on her newest memoir, THE POSSIBILITY OF EVERYTHING. Please watch the trailer and get excited for tomorrow!

Sunday, September 06, 2009


I've never been any good at lying, and I've always considered that a plus, but now I'm rethinking it.

I've been asked "How is/was your summer?" so many times, and each time I struggle to answer that. "It has sucked," just doesn't seem like the answer they're looking for, but I don't want to lie, either. My usual trick is to say, "Okay," and then quickly ask them about theirs. That works most of the time.

Last night we went to a back-to-school potluck with all the families in Rojo's class. It's not just the traveling. It's not just the home improvement projects. It's not just seeing friends and family that makes their summers different than mine. It's just that they've enjoyed their summers, and I have not.

There. I said it.

STM and I came home and talked about it a little, "When people ask me how my summer's going, I just say, 'We're holding on,' they never know what to say after that."

I can't blame the whole thing on Rojo, either. Even if I were the parent of two typicals, I think a little summer would go a long way. I need large chunks of quiet to hear myself think. I need rooms to stay clean longer than 2 minutes after I clean them. I need to not be needed around the clock.

Last night watching Rojo awkwardly move in and out of conversations and games his 7th grade friends were all in, was painful. It's one thing to have spent the last three months with him and see for myself how many social reminders he needs, it's another thing to watch it played out with his peers. They are great with him, indifferent at worst, inclusive at best.

As the clock struck 7:30 and "Wheel of Fortune" was calling him, he found me, took my hand, and he, STM and I left the party early. The first to go. I told myself others would be leaving soon, too.

But really? They were enjoying that, too.

* Photo from

Friday, September 04, 2009


Here's a Mary story for you, and I haven't even begun the pilgrimage yet.

Last Friday I said to Mary, "Okay, make a computer fall from the sky." We need a "new" laptop so Rojo can take one to school, and buying even a used one would be really hard to do right now.

My Mac was acting up, it had been doing this weird thing on and off for weeks, where it would kick me off the Internet and I'd have to go through this elaborate process to reconnect, and every now and then it would just totally freeze. Unacceptable. So, I packed it up with my Apple Care paperwork and went to befriend my nearest Mac tech, shortly after my Mary request.

Enter Eric.

Eric diagnosed the problem and asked me if I'd been faithfully backing up since I bought the computer a year ago. I assured him that yes, I'd learned that lesson the hard way, and indeed I'd spent a few minutes each and every week backing up to an external hard drive. He told me to go back home and get that hard drive, because he was going to wipe my computer clean and then reinstall everything except the corrupted part(s).

"Long as I'm going home and coming back, do you guys take old Macs to be recycled? I have a junker in my garage that I don't know what to do with," I asked Eric.

Eric shook his curly ponytailed head yes.

So, I came back later with the hard drive and the "junker," a computer that we couldn't get to even turn on any more, and had been passed down to Rojo and then brutalized before finally "dying."

Eric and I spent the next three hours together on my Mac, before I finally suggested I go home and he could call me when it was done, since let's face it, whatever (little) information I was providing could easily be phoned in.

I had barely gotten in the door and Eric called. "Why do you want to recycle this Mac? It works great!" I told him we couldn't even get it to turn on. "Well, its working now. You can come back and get it!"

Before I could even get my purse and get in the car, Eric called back. "Hey. There's a crack in the case. I'm going to send it in for replacement. Come in on Thursday and pick it up, it should be back then, but I'll call you first."

So. Yesterday was Thursday and Eric called. "Basically you have a whole new computer. They replaced everything. You were still covered by your old Apple Care warranty. You can come get it whenever you're ready."

Thank you, Apple.

Thank you, Eric.

Thank you, Mary.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


One of the biggest disappointments I had about leaving Sisters before I'd had my break, was not getting to start my pilgrimage with Mary. Id' heard about this book and was planning on getting busy.

Well, Rojo, life and apparently Mary, had other plans.

Instead I came home and e-mailed all my Mary-loving friends, with whom I am richly blessed, and asked if they wanted in on the 14-day pilgrimage with Mary, laid out in the book.

A bunch of us are getting started on September 8th, which just "by coincidence" is a Feast Day of Mary, The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrating her birth. (It also happens to be the day Rojo goes back to school and I'll have the wherewithal to do this.)

The book is written by someone like me: an unlikely Mary lover. Not a "cradle Catholic," just someone that happened upon a statue of Mary one day and was deeply moved. The book is very ecumenical, emphasizing Mary's role in many world religions, and has a relaxed approach. It's designed to be done in 14 days, but can be done in whatever amount of time it takes to do, either by choice or by circumstances.

Remember how I shared I'd lost my story? Well, I think Mary's going to help me find it again.

If you want to join us, the more the Mary-er.

To order yours, click here.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


To say Rojo is obsessed with the ice cream truck is akin to saying it rains a lot in Portland. One really has to LIVE here and be WET 9 out of 12 months for YEARS, to get it.

For, oh, I don't know how long, approximately his WHOLE FLIPPIN' LIFE he's been fascinated by them. Then the fascination turned to obsession. Then the obsession turned to perseveration. From March 1 to October 1 it's "Mom, is the ice cream truck going to come today? Is it 100% chance that the ice cream truck is coming today? Is it scale from 1-10, 10, that the ice cream truck is going to come today?"

Approximately every 20 minutes.

I. Kid. You. Not.

And the songs. Dear Lord, help me with the songs. He hums, taps, and plays (loudly and often) on the piano "The Entertainer," "Do Your Ears Hang Low," and "Turkey in the Straw," all day, every day. All. Day. Every. Day.

For the last three months he's "been" the ice cream truck. He gets on his scooter, the one he peeled the handle bar thingies off of, dons his helmet and away he goes. I follow along on Woohoo's old purple bike and psychedelic helmet, and stop him some pre-arranged number of times, always more than 5 and fewer than 15, most commonly 12.

It is with great panache that I yell, "ICE CREAM!" every 10 yards as we tool around the neighborhood. He pulls the scooter over, I pull the purple bike over, and I ask him for ice cream. My choices are: Sponge Bob Squarepants, Firecracker, Bubble Gum Swirl, Choco Taco, or Cotton Candy Swirl. When I've really had it and want to *&@% him up bad, I ask for Mocha Almond Fudge, to which he always looks quizzically and says, "Do they make that?" Then he pretends to pull ice cream from the back of the scooter, slaps it in my hand, I slap him pretend money, and we're good for another 10 yards.

Because I have far more pride and ego (and all the other deadly sins) than he, I try to only yell "ICE CREAM!" when we're out of ear shot of passersby. Not easy to pull off, since our neighborhood has more pedestrians than Carter's got pills.

All this is to say I've had it, and he knows it, and that's what makes him our little Rojo, doesn't it? Just when you can't flippin' take it another moment, he delivers.

Yesterday we went shopping for frozen fruit bars at 9:02. He hummed. He tapped. He sang. He fiddled with every knob in my car. He went through my purse. He played with the windows. Just before my head exploded he looked at me with a 13-year-old boy smirk and said, "Want to hear the boob song?" Then he started singing, "Turkey in Your Bra."