Monday, November 30, 2009


I was deeply saddened to learn that one of my fellow Hopeful Parents writers, The Accidental Caregiver, died suddenly the day before Thanksgiving.

When I read what he wrote just three days before he died, I was even more moved. It's almost like he knew he was going to die, and he was getting things right for his wife after he was gone and could no longer advocate for her.

I was asked to write a piece on coping - part of a Warrior Parents series a columnist is doing. Been brainstorming all weekend as to how I do actually cope, and the news of The Accidental Caregiver's death has made that question all the more timely. I don't know of any of the details of his death, only that he had a heart attack, but I do know this: the stress of being the full-time caregiver of a special needs child, did not help.

I originally named my blog Fully Caffeinated because that was my quip when asked, "How do you do it?" I am no longer fully caffeinated and I no longer quip. I'm not sure I really am "doing it."

I'm tired. I'm so tired that no amount of sleep touches the tired. I'm the mother-of-a-two-year-old tired. I'm the tired old people are. I'm tired.

And blessed. So deeply blessed. My boy is a joy. He is happy. He smiles big and often with deep dimples and twinkles in both eyes. My boy has language. My boy does not smear his poop on walls. My boy does not have pain. My boy does not have anxiety that cripples him. My boy is friendly and has friends. My boy loves to go to school and is adored and respected every minute he is within those sacred walls. My boy is part of a community. My boy is part of a family. My boy will be fine.

I took my boy for ice cream Saturday. He grinned at me between spoonfuls and I said, "God, you're cute."

He put his face right up to me and said, "Looks like you're talking to God when you say I'm cute."

And he's right.

And that's how I cope.

* Photo from

Sunday, November 29, 2009


It's not too late to give thanks, right? Never!

Inspired by Courtney Sheinmel's list, here is mine, stream-of-consciousness style!


Happy children. Funny husband. Healthy mother. In-laws that are low maintenance. Darling nephew. Cousins. BFFs. My kids' teachers. Words. Prayers. Candles. Kris Delmhorst. All my many wonderful friends. Meg Hutchinson. Travel. Dar Williams. My kids' schools. Retreats in Sisters. Tracy Grammer. Mountains. Rosie Thomas. Seasons. Edie Carey. Books. Rose Cousins. Writing. Holy friends. Lucy Kaplansky. My neighborhood. Heather Masse. Desk top fountains. Laptop computers. Mary. Perfect coffee. Sleep. Dreams. Journals. Altars. Walking. Health. Laughter. Ticonderoga pencils. Love. Poets. Mystics. Pajamas. Bathrobes. Perfect mugs. Advil. e-mail. The Internet. Helpful people. Good doctors. My reliable 12-year-old car. Trader Joe's. Safeway friends. Forgiveness. Forgetfulness. Peace. Healing.

* Photo from

Friday, November 27, 2009


God came to my house and asked for charity.
And I fell on my knees and
cried, "Beloved,

what may I

"Just love, He said.
"Just love."

St. Francis of Assisi from the book, Love Poems from God, by Daniel Ladinsky

* Photo from

Wednesday, November 25, 2009



*Photo from

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


A big weekend for dreaming around here. First I had one I'm still trying to figure out: I held a neighbor girl, now a fourth grader but a toddler in my dream, over Kathleen's washing machine as she peed all over Kathleen's clean clothes. When Kathleen came home and discovered what I had done she said, "Now I can't hear the angels talking." Anyone want to interpret THAT one?

Next night I was standing in a pitch black kitchen with an old friend. I was preparing to leave and trying to gather up all my things. She pulled out a bunch of plastic bowls and said, "These are yours." (Again, it's pitch black.) I opened the refrigerator behind me to shine the light on the situation and when I saw the bowls she was trying to pass off on me, I said, "That's not my stuff."

Uh huh. A. Little. Like. That.

Can't talk now - gotta go open refrigerators, light candles, flick on all the lights and re-examine what's actually mine.

And what's not.

*Photo from

Monday, November 23, 2009


As those of you who visit here regularly know, Deb Shucka and I are offering a writing workshop in Portland starting in January. We are amazed and excited that so many of you have asked about the possibility of an online memoir writing class, as well. So it is with pleasure that we are announcing one, to begin Monday, January 11. (We still have 2 more spots in the in-person class, if you live in the Portland area.)

Many of you are in situations where going to a class won’t work, but you’re hungry for a memoir writing community and for the accountability attending a class creates. If you’re looking for a safe place in which to tell your story and receive support and feedback, whether it’s your first effort or whether you’ve finished a book, this class will satisfy that need.

We will provide prompts, deadlines, teachings that will add to your craft tool kit, and detailed feedback for your writing. You will write, share your writing, and offer gentle feedback and support to each other.

Please contact us for cost and additional information. We’re looking forward to learning and writing and moving closer to the light of truth together with you. or

Thursday, November 19, 2009


“You’d like 100 more ‘Freeze Frame’ posters for your Athlete’s Foot store? Got it! They’ll go out on Monday.” I hang up the phone, returning the beige mouthpiece to its base, eyes resting on the cord that is so stretched and kinked it now catches in the wheels of my rolling chair. That’s okay, I’ve only been at NIKE a few months and I heard our whole department is going to move. I’ll get a new phone then. Probably a new chair, too. Maybe even a new computer that will make it easier to enter all the posters that everyone is buying. This one is so huge it needs its own desk. I hear that someday they are going to get so small they can fit on your lap. That will never happen.

I don’t even know who any of the athletes are that are in the posters I sell all day, but it doesn’t really matter. I’ve memorized their information so when anyone asks me I can tell them about Ronnie Lott on “Lotts Lot” or “Dr. K,” Dwight Gooden, from the New York Mets. Some people even still buy John McEnroe’s “Rebel With a Cause,” but mostly people just want the two we have of Michael Jordan. His first one, “Air Jordan” is really why I even have this job. The posters were selling so well and so fast that they couldn’t keep up, they needed to hire a whole new person just to manage the Retail Poster Program, and that’s me. I take home $723.43 a month and Michael Jordan, who is three days younger than me by the way, probably takes that home every day. Or possibly every hour.

It’s kind of funny since I got my only B in junior high in PE and I don’t have an athletic bone in my body, that my first job out of college is working here – where everyone is young, in shape, and spends their lunch hours running. I am young – 23 – but that’s it. But here's the thing, although I am an unlikely fit, I like it here. I love my boss, I love my co-worker, and I love talking to all the vendors that buy the posters, and my friend at the warehouse that distributes them. It works.

They say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and that is true – at least for me. In this case I know Teri, the administrative assistant that works for my boss’ boss. We went to college together and ran into each other at a wedding.

“So, are you teaching?” she asked.

Staring straight into her bangs that looked exactly like a sausage roll, I answered, “Can’t find a teaching job in this entire metropolitan area, so now it’s just time to find a job, any job.” I caught an image of myself in the mirrored centerpiece and re-adjusted the bow I had tied around my neck – red, to go with my wide red vinyl belt I wear over my tight white, tea length skirt, and red patent leather flats. The DJ was playing Dionne Warwick’s, “That’s What Friends Are For,” I hummed along. I loved that song.

“Well,” Teri said, “you should apply at NIKE. Use my name. We’d get to work in the same department, it would be fun!”

And it was.

Then one day after we did move our whole department to another building, I drove up, turned off the radio that was playing Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know?” parked and went in. There was a huge screen set up in the common area, folding chairs all around. I went to find Teri in the coffee room and asked, “What’s going on?”

Teri had her head in the frig, pulled out some whipping cream, poured a dash into her cup and turned to me, “Want some?” she asked.

“No thanks, I’m good,” I answered. I could hear Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love” coming from the speaker above our heads. “So what are all the chairs and that big screen doing in the middle of everything?” I asked, grabbing a package of hot chocolate and mixing it with a wooden stir stick in my Styrofoam cup.

“The Space Shuttle Challenger is going to launch this morning – you gotta come watch, they are putting the first teacher up in space, Christa McAuliffe – maybe you’ll be the second teacher up in space, wouldn’t that be cool?”

“Just getting a teaching job would be cool, but yes, doing something that had the whole world watching would be super cool.”

Later I pulled my chair up to Teri’s and we watched for 73 seconds and then all of a sudden the Challenger exploded. I was so shocked I felt nothing at all. No tears came. No words. No feelings at all – just disbelief. Don’t they test those things? I thought it was impossible that something that cost so much money and took so many years to build and plan, could just explode like that. Nobody knew what to do. We sat there in stunned silence. A woman that looked to be nine months pregnant began to cry.

Nobody got any more work done that day, we sat together, strangers and friends, Footwear and Retail Posters, afraid to turn off the TV, afraid to miss any details of the tragedy, afraid to go back to normal.

* photo from

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Come see me at Hopeful Parents today.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Rojo's praising of the Lord is so loud it wakes me up. "Table of plenty, table of plenty, come to the table of plenty" he sings. And sings. And sings. And plays on his electronic keyboard. And piano. And drums. And recorder. And harmonica. And every window of the house. And door. And kicks to the beat against the breakfast bar.

STM says, "Look at his joy. Such joy. We are so blessed. How long do you think it would take a stranger to become annoyed," he asks, "two days? Eight hours? What do you think?"

"Fifteen minutes," I say.

I finally extricate myself from the madness and turn on my computer - ready to put on the big, over the ears headphones and escape into my happy place. has e-mailed me with today's word. Oh, goody, my word for the day! Yea! I love this! I always feel so smug when I know the word and happy to learn a new one when I don't. But today? A little too close to home.

Word of the Day for Tuesday, November 17, 2009

perseverate \per-SEV-uh-reyt\, intransitive verb:

1. To involuntarily repeat a particular response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture, despite the absence or cessation of a stimulus, usually caused by brain injury or other organic disorder.
2. To repeat something insistently or redundantly.

* Photo from

Monday, November 16, 2009


This week's writing assignment is to write a piece from a particular year, without telling the year. We are to use cultural references, songs, TV shows, events, etc.

Here's what I've got so far from my year:

* The space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after take off
* Pam Ewing dreamed the whole prior season
* Whitney Houston sang, "How Will I Know?"
* "Oprah" goes national
* Dionne and Friends sang, "That's What Friends Are For."
* Michael Jordan's posters, "Freeze Frame" and "Air Jordan" are flying off the shelves across the county

Saturday, November 14, 2009

John Fitzgerald Kennedy
I talk to Mary. I'm sure that doesn't surprise you. And sometimes, I swear she answers me. Not a voice, but words come into my mind and they are not mine, so I'm guessing they are hers.
I've been really putting her to work lately, setting her off in a million directions, and putting all my burdens on her. Yesterday, as one particularly sticky situation that could have gone either way, went "my" way, or at least the way I felt was the most positive, I thanked her. "Mary, thank you. That was really great. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."
"Think nothing of it," she said.
At first I just thought she was being modest, but I've come to know her better than that. She was being literal. Stop thinking. Put the gratitude in my heart, and get it out of my brain.
* Photo from

Friday, November 13, 2009


While feet kick wildly at the breakfast bar, and in between humming "The Farmer in the Dell," Rojo says, "Mom, I am never going to break up with J. I am always going to be there for her. I am never going to make her life miserable. I am always going to be there if she needs me."

Then he went back to kicking, singing and eating his 25 pieces of bacon before saying, "I wish I had a bodyguard."

"I am your bodyguard," I said while making bacon slices 26-30.

"No. You cannot be my bodyguard, you have small muscles."

I beg to differ.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


10. Main characters names on "iCarly"
9. Names of all of Malcolm's brothers on "Malcolm in the Middle"
8. Sexual orientation of Sponge Bob and Patrick
7. Jon and Kate's sextuplets names and birth order
6. Tune to every Pac 10 college fight song
5. The exact hours of operation for "The Surf Shack" where "we" are obsessed with getting ice cream
4. Obscure college mascots
3. All the major advertisers for "Wheel of Fortune"
2. The order the advertisements are placed
1. What Pat Sajak is going to say before he says it

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Last week's writing assignment was to revise and/or expand a previous piece and include a specific bird, a description of the weather, and the color red. I revised the piece I wrote about Grandma's hairpin, just for those of you keeping track. : )

This week has had me tossing and turning, as was the intention, I am sure. We were to do a handwritten quick write for eight minutes starting with the sentence, "I am still afraid to write about..." until we got to the "nugget" of what our piece would be about. THEN the piece was to include MONEY, SEX (or a veiled reference to it), a TABOO (mine or someone else's), and a SECRET (mine or someone else's).

A friend called and shared a very personal story with me that had all four. Eureka! I thought. I was going to cheat and just write out her story, because let me tell you, it's a goody. But her story is not mine, and last I checked, this is a memoir class, and not a tell-me-all-about-your-friend's-life class.

And so I did it. I wrote about something I'm afraid to write about. And someday I may even post it on my blog, but not today. Sorry. Some things are healed by sharing them with others, and some things are healed by bringing them out of the body, onto the page, and then burned.

My friend, Jerri, wrote a blog post about being faced with a difficult situation, and choosing to walk straight into the fire. I've been thinking a lot about that, and fire in general, and it's various properties. I've always been afraid of fire, but there's a purifying component that comes from it that cannot be forgotten.

Sometimes we have to look up, push our chests out, swing our arms with command and walk straight into our fear, straight into the dangerous, straight into the fire.

And out again.

* Photo from

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"What are reborn are our habits.
Enlightenment is the ending of rebirth,
which means a complete nonattachment
or misidentification with all thoughts, feelings,
perceptions, physical sensations, and ideas."
H. H. The Dalai Lama

Sometimes I think my life is straight out of "Groundhog Day," the same stuff coming up over and over and over again, almost, almost comically so. What I'm working on now is the whole idea of nonattachment. I say to myself, when triggered (1,000 x/day), "Detach." And about 1 out of 1,000 times it actually works.

I might go for twice today. God knows there will be plenty of opportunity.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.

William Wordsworth

Are you interested in memoir writing as a way to heal and to explore the truth and meaning of your life? Are you looking for a safe, warm, and nurturing environment in which you can begin to write your story? If you're ready to express the breathings of your heart, there is a writing class starting in January with a spot in the circle just for you. Please e-mail me at and I'll give you all the details.

Click here to read Hope Edelman's post about coming out as closet mystic. : )

* Photo from

Friday, November 06, 2009


I'm picking up Woohoo from high school in a little bit and we're off. Just the two of us, girls' weekend. We are headed to Bellevue to visit my cousin and her daughter that is Woohoo's age.

My cousin just texted me that the Coronas are chilling.

Can't wait until we are, too.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, November 05, 2009


I have always had it, but after last night, I am bursting with it.


I had the honor of hosting Hope Edelman in my home last night to help promote her book, The Possibility of Everything. It was a night filled with old and new friends, laughter, sharing, and hope/Hope.

I urge you all to read the book and to see Hope if she comes to your city. If you'd like to be on her mailing list, please let me know and I'll give her your e-mail addresses so you'll know of her schedule.

My favorite of favorite moments was when Hope "came out." She told the story of sharing with a friend her spiritual journey and the friend said, "I don't think you're a cynic. I think you're a mystic, disguised as a cynic."

The disguise if officially off now, and as Hope shares her mysticism with us, it is an honor.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


So, last night I had two telling dreams. In the first one it suddenly dawned on me that I had a five-day-old newborn I'd completely forgotten about since it's birth. I'd done zero for this child. Hadn't fed it. Hadn't changed its diaper. Hadn't held it. Hadn't done jack %$#@. I think it was a girl (what are the chances?). When I finally remembered her she was totally fine and took to eating like a champ. She ate and ate and ate and could not get her fill.

I went straight from that dream to one where a surly teenage girl was staying at my house and I couldn't control her behavior, so I took her cell phone and locked her in her room. Didn't like her attitude. Didn't like the mouth on her. Didn't like her.

Where, oh where should I start with the part-of-me exercise?

* Photo from

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

When you realize
how perfect everything is
you will tilt your head back
and laugh at the sky.

'The Enlightened One'

Yesterday I took Rojo back to the magical naturopath. He's gained 10 1/2 lbs. 9 1/2 to go. So, of course, we also got the results from his allergy testing: gluten, dairy and egg. The big three. The three that are in everything. I'd prepared myself for this fact, it only stood to reason that if I got him eating and gaining weight, he'd be allergic to everything I was giving him.

Since he was a toddler different people have suggested the GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free) diet which has been hugely helpful to so many children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It's never been because I doubted their claims, it was always a matter of feeling so overwhelmed with the thought of getting him to eat anything, let alone GFCF foods, that I just didn't take it on.

Until now.

The naturopath agreed we are still months away from diving in, and that at this point (because he is asymptomatic) we are still just trying to pack on the pounds and get him to try new foods. I will slowly turn this ship around, introducing more GFCF foods and slowly replacing some of his favorites with their healthier options.

My brother has an expression, "Slowly, slowly." It's his answer to most things, and it infuriates me every time because it's so counter-intuitive to my way of being. But I'm seeing its wisdom.

It may have been "perfect" to have put Rojo on a GFCF diet years ago, and perhaps he would have been a different boy all these years. But we didn't.

We will, slowly, slowly.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


What I say to myself when I'm taking a shower:

Wash away anxiety, shower me with peace.
Wash away doubt, shower me with hope.
Wash away scarcity, shower me with abundance.
Wash away fear, shower me with love.