26 April, 2013

dandelion puff

my father died yesterday. he was very young and sick only briefly. i was not prepared to deal with this life passage until i was at least the age he was. 

my siblings and i were able to spend his last few weeks together with him. he slept most of the time we were there. exhausted from morphine and from the cancer that was devouring him, he napped on and off like an infant. 

to be near to him, i crawled into his bed and lay along side him, like i did when i was small. now he was the small one and i felt timid and hesitant, afraid that i might crush him. it was so strange to see my once tall and strong dad now delicate and fragile. i lay with him while he slept, sometimes my eyes open and staring at him, sometimes i slept too. other times i closed my own eyes to see him the way he was, the way i need to remember him.

losing a parent is bewildering. watching anyone face the end is heartbreaking no matter what the relationship. the flood of memory is vivid. while i lay with my father, my mind turned to what he had been to avoid the sight of what was now. he was a quiet and mostly patient man but he had a slow burning rage that showed in lightening fast bursts. all facets of him came rushing to me while i stared at him. i could feel his patient, nimble fingers untangling my six year old braids, his hand steadying me on my first bicycle, the sound of him whistling while working in the yard. and i also could feel the shudder of doors slamming, hear wheels screeching out of our driveway, see cookies whizzing past me and smashing on the kitchen floor during a particularly tense christmas.

as tears silently slipped down my cheeks, i wondered what my dad was thinking as he lay still next to me. what regrets or hurts is he mulling…what victories is he savoring? in the middle of my musing, i fall asleep again. when i wake up my dad is looking at me too. i know he is not seeing me as his aging hipster daughter with hair bleached platinum and eyes puffed from crying in my sleep. he is seeing me as he remembers too…his little girl with hair naturally the color of a dandelion puffs he held for me make a wish and blow away in a single breath. like me, he would like to let pass our tangles and explosions and be at peace.

which is perhaps the most valuable lesson my dad taught me. from him i learned the complexities of relationships. i learned that good people do rotten things and rotten people have their valiant moments too. that everyone feels, loves, cries, hurts, fears and laughs... everyone has needs and dreams that may or may not be fulfilled but we keep wishing and blowing on dandelion puffs and watching the seeds blow away, carrying our hopes to the wind…

10 December, 2012

take the best, leave the rest

holiday season is one of my favorite times of the year. i love the winter wonderland of christmas time and delight in the collective good cheer that it brings. and like the good swedish girl that i am, i am very loyal to my swedish traditions. this means having my cookie party in preparation for sankta lucia, baking lussebullar and krumkaka and making glögg with my friends. it means my christmas goat comes out of storage and my red wooden candlesticks are lit every night. it means a number of other things (like buying jars and jars of herring that few of my non-swede friends will eat) but this year i will be missing many of my holiday rituals and traditions.

this year i am staying with my sister and her family in her adopted german home. some things aren't so different here...we both have christmas markets, warm sausages for sale on the street and mulled wine too. although, each time i reach the bottom of my gluhwein mug i think where are my almonds? it is good, but it isn't glögg.

so we learn that will survive without things being exactly the same as they have been in other years. we learn to share, with family and friends, our favorite customs and traditions. we can exchange recipes and meal ideas and everything will still be delicious even if it is different. we can veer off the expected and still have some of what we need to hold on to our memories. we can maintain what means the most to us and ask others to do the same. we can learn to blend the tried and true with the novel and new.

this year we can choose to relax about the getting and the giving and the rush of holiday madness. we can choose instead to open our hearts and minds and just experience the best and most cherished things this season offers us. we can recreate what we love and leave the rest. we can pare down and still indulge.

we can celebrate simply and still have fun.

*photo: jul i bullerbyn

07 December, 2012

tick tock goes the clock...


nothing is permanent. everything changes or is in process of changing. 
change is growth.

sometimes growth and change are exciting, exhilarating, inspiring. 
sometimes growth and change are awkward, uncomfortable, anxious.

when our circumstances are difficult, we may feel desperate to rush change, an urge to resolve our issues impulsively just to push past the discomfort.

when we make a move before we are ready we may act in self-defeat or we may set ourselves up for a repeat of the same circumstances.

when we act without panic or fear we make decisions that are in our own best interests and help us get where we want to go without backtracking. 

we are learning to move in time without resistance. we are learning peace. believe that if we do not know the answer right now or today, we have the power to sit and wait for the answer to come to us. be certain that our questions will be resolved...we will learn what is next when we are ready...trust the process of peaceful acceptance. 

the clock ticks on...the time will arrive...

05 December, 2012


when a child throws a temper tantrum and we call "time-out". this is not a punishment but rather a way to halt the momentum of the tantrum, re-channel that energy and re-set their behavior. 
we do this to break the hysteria, the mood or emotion.

taking a time-out isn't quitting; it's regrouping and switching strategy.

the past few months i fell down the rabbit hole. my usual tactics were not successful in helping me find my way out of the dark. i was lost. i couldn't even recognize myself in the blinding night that engulfed me. never have i been so depressed.

so i got on a plane and flew across an ocean...i am staying for awhile...as they say, when you don't like the view, switch positions.
my hope is that by resetting my perspective i might find the light again...

04 October, 2012


we all dream. many believe there is meaning behind our dreams. a way of working things out in our minds at rest; a way of practice or preparedness. or maybe our dreams are just signaling our fears, insecurities and anxieties. some themes are very common- like nakedness, falling, being chased or losing a tooth.

my first nightmare was of being bit on the hand by a cat. i was sleeping in a crib i was so little, but i can still feel the sharpness of the incisor as it sliced into the flesh between my thumb and pointer finger. i remember waking up and seeing the pink elephants on my baby blanket and for a second thinking i was smothered in cats. i remember my mother coming to me and pulling me into her arms as i tried to convey my fear. i lacked the ability to talk but i still remember that dream it scared me so.

sometimes our dreams seem real and other times they are implausible.

lately i have been dreaming of dissolving.  just disintegrating like ash smashed beneath a cigarette butt or maybe like blowing glitter across paper strategically covered in glue, some piece of me may stick, more will scatter.

the thing is…i am wide awake…


03 October, 2012

charley horse

some people describe their depression like a veil that fogs their view. living in shadows and blurry lines, confused and dazed- everything unclear. or existing in a movie you can’t pause or fast-forward or leave the theatre for a better show.

for me depression has always been more like a hangnail, a headache or a charley horse. a pain invisible and not incapacitating but always present; nagging me and hungry for attention. i used to try and starve the beast. i thought if i ignored it, it would go away or at least fade… at so many parties in college i remember leaning against walls to hold me from collapse, gripping a plastic cup brimming with beer, my fingers so taut they often cramped from the tension of holding on… always holding on… i would smile and laugh but one hand or shoulder or elbow was always touching that wall. i couldn’t move. i remember feeling if i let go I would fall… down, down, down.

i was always a good actress. i could step out center stage and shake things up! people cheered and rushed to greet my arrival, but no one really knew how much i paid for each performance. each hour of stardom cost me many more in retreat, deep in the dark, silent and alone in my room, gently licking wounds i couldn’t see and didn’t know how i got them. sometimes my roommates thought i wasn't even home… so quiet i became in my recuperation.

i learned later on in college, if i gave in, gave myself a metered amount of time to wallow and then forced myself back in the game, i could more effortlessly turn on that light that glowed, attracting people to me like moths, warming hearts and charming, always charming. sadly, i never understood that people liked this person standing in front of them; i only thought of turning out a convincing performance. and so, i missed out on some real relationships, some real feelings and genuine experiences because i was always living behind the character. hiding the charley horse that pinched in my chest.

i can still play through the pain, though i want to less and less. it is a process learning how much you can reveal and still hold on to yourself, learning how to balance what is inside and what needs to be on display in a range of practical circumstances. but you eventually learn, like with everything, sometimes you succeed and sometimes you fail. funny enough, most people pay more attention to the victories than the defeats. small mercies, bless them…

in real life there are no medals awarded for vaulting with a broken foot. we soldier on because that is all we can do.

28 September, 2012

greatest hits

i just saw madonna's MDNA tour this week. as usual, i left inspired and in the mood to reinvent.

then it occurred to me it might be a good idea to revisit some of the swede lowdown's greatest hits here on the blog...

just some popular posts that may be worth another look.

this one about loving yourself

this one about loving your body

finding the strength to keep going

here's one about growing and moving on

a couple about letting go, here and here

a good primer for being direct

one of my personal favorites about relationship games

and classic life lessons one, two and three

happy re-viewing!

19 September, 2012

pleasure...little treasure...

thinking today of things that bring you joy. obviously, there are big things—the birth of a baby, falling in love, getting that first big break—these are major life events. but what about the little things that cause your toes to tingle, a giggle to erupt, a smile to break?
some things that make me happy are: cooking in my kitchen when it is raining outdoors, even better if a friend is perched on my red stool keeping me company; a fresh hair cut, seeing tufts of blonde laying around my feet on the floor; a new dress; the click of the deadbolt behind me when i come home from a long day, knowing i am alone and undisturbed; opening my fridge and finding cupcakes i forgot i had; faire le canard with sugar cubes and good, thick espresso; that first really cold, crisp night of winter, wrapped in a scarf wandering the streets newly lit with tree lights and realizing that the holidays are near…what else? oysters. crayfish! that groggy feeling when you awake on an overseas flight, just slightly confused as you land and it is a new morning in a new place; the first glide of my skate on fresh ice; champagne before dinner…
just little things to savor. little things to notice. simple pleasures that delight…

14 September, 2012

looking glass

in my line of work, the people i meet are not always at their best. mostly people come to me when they are at a crossroads, in crisis or need some major alterations in their life.
it isn’t always easy to see the bright side of things when you spend your days steering through stormy waters. when days are especially dark it is hard to trust the sun will shine again, but it will. that is just the natural order of things. it may take longer than you wish, it may get darker still but eventually the skies clear, the clouds pass and the storm dies down.
when i am stuck in the dark, i try to think of a few things that helped me safely endure. sometimes i am grateful for a friend that held my hand, supporting and guiding me through the shadows of my troubles. knowing i have a shoulder to lean on or a hand to steady me helps me fall asleep, buttressed to face another uncertain day.
other times i have to really push my clients (and myself) to find that bright spot. it can be the smallest thing that offered some respite in traumatic times. the luxury of crisp clean linens that feel cool against your body as you lie in bed, the kindness or courtesy of a stranger in line at the market, getting to the gym in effort to care for yourself, a deliciously ripe tomato sliced in your lunch, making all the green lights in your commute home…however mundane, stop and recognize it was a moment free of the plague of problems.
even the most optimistic among us aren’t always served a glass half-full. our thirst may be unquenchable and we may gulp what we have until it is gone. when we are running on fumes we need to pause and revisit what doesn’t deplete us and allow time for our glass to fill again.

11 September, 2012

going solo

as a pronounced introvert, i have always relished my solitude. it has never bothered me to go to a party alone, dismiss a “plus one” on an invitation or just spend an evening by myself. when faced with a choice between going out with a crew or hanging solo, i almost always choose the latter. guaranteed to enjoy the company at least…
i have learned however, that not everyone delights in isolation. many people fear it or see it as a set-up for loneliness.
i often encourage my clients to choose activities as a reward for desired behavior change but find that they balk at doing things alone. a person who does not hesitate to hit the gym or spend hours getting a mani-pedi will stare wide-eyed at my suggestion to spend that same time at café enjoying coffee and book, will shake their head at the idea of going to a movie by themselves or horror of horrors, visibly pale at the idea of dining out alone!
but it is good practice to be able to do the things you enjoy all by yourself. it is not a gateway to loneliness but rather a buffer against it. we are learning that we can partake without depending on others. it is okay to prefer to do things with our friends, but being without them shouldn’t prevent us from participating.
it is also good practice to learn to enjoy ourselves; to afford an opportunity to hear our own thoughts clearly in our own minds; to relate, without interference, to our surroundings.
mostly, it is practice being comfortable with and within ourselves.
to just be yourself…by yourself…

03 September, 2012


labor day weekend- the final weekend of our traditional summer.
our calendars tell us there are a few more weeks until autumn officially sets in, but this weekend signals the end of our summer holidays with adults getting back to work, children heading into a new school-year. starting over… and as with all change, the end of something is really just the beginning of something new…
like plants grown from seeds - first placed carefully in a pot to sprout, then transplanted to a garden plot to spread out and grow taller, stronger, its roots reaching deeper in the ground - we too have the ability to adapt to new environments, to bear the elements and grow resilient and sturdier still.
uprooting a plant, ripping it free from the dirt that holds it and replanting it in new earth may appear traumatic, almost violent, but gardeners will tell you it is good for their roots. it gives them greater space and more nourishing soil. sometimes in the face of transition, we may feel like those plants. we may feel torn, vulnerable and confused moving from what we know to the unfamiliar and new. we may long for things to remain the same…until we remember that we too need new soil for our roots to grow deeper and stronger.
we are prepared to face a new season because of our experiences and knowledge from seasons past. in the face of change, when we are in the midst of a transformation, we are only becoming a more robust, durable and powerful version of ourselves.

20 July, 2012

dog days

it has been insanely hot here in the 202. i mean, crazy sauna hot. it is not only making me cranky and snappish, it is holding me hostage in my house. too hot for the pool, too hot for wandering, i am holed up at home like a prisoner of global warming.

when we here in DC get massive snow fall, the city shuts down. a strange quiet settles in and everything feels cozy and calm. i love looking out my seventh story windows, seeing the glow of tv sets and lights from other apartments as people nest indoors to avoid the mess of the plows and slush below us.

but when the sun blazes and i retreat to avoid summer elements, i feel guilty. shame on me for not relishing the outdoors! what is the difference, i don’t know … when i stow away from the stifling, infrastructure bending heat, i feel like a seasonal traitor. and it is so dull to be stuck at home in the summer!

in winter i wake to snowfall with the same childish glee we met school snow days. i pull out a book, pull on my sweats and lounge on the couch, channel surf, catch up on old new yorkers, sip hot tea and luxuriate in found time.

now i find myself pacing frantically, anxious and pent up… irritable and caged…i want OUT! my mind feels as trapped as my body…longing for relief and release…moving from one temperature controlled indoor environment to another, melting in transport…i feel like i am wilting inside and out…stuck in the stagnant air of this season waiting to be revived in the next…

03 July, 2012

melting ice

recently a friend and i were having a heated dispute and in the middle of it he hurled an accusation at me:

 “well, sometimes you can be C*NTY!”

i didn’t deny it. 

while most of the time i am as kind, compassionate and forgiving as i appear on these pages, i definitely  know how to unleash my inner ice queen and i am not afraid to throw down some serious frost when appropriate.

because that is life.

sometimes we do things that are unkind or thoughtless. sometimes we hurt people that we love. intentionally or unintentionally, sometimes our words or actions wound. 

and so we must apologize. genuinely. in an honest and heartfelt way.

we hope that the ones we have offended forgive us but that is out of our control. all we can do is say we are sorry and act in contrition. but we cannot control the reactions of those whose feelings we have trampled.

once forgiven, it is over. both parties must let go and continue on. holding a grudge, resenting a friend or expecting ongoing genuflecting is not part of forgiveness. it renders the apology false and negates the acceptance.

it isn’t always easy to forgive and sometimes it is impossible to forget. “sorry” is not an eraser.

when we misbehave and offend or hurt someone, all we can do is apologize. the rest is up to them…and we live with the consequences… whatever they may be…

26 June, 2012

life lesson

respecting yourself is protecting yourself…

coming off of the bacchanal that is midsommar, the indicator that we are full swing in the lusty summer season, i thought it was worth a little PSA-themed life lesson…

always protect yourself.

unprotected sex is ill-mannered, inconsiderate and perilous. respect yourself and the health of your partner and always use a condom!

having sex with someone without protection is like having sex with all your combined partners at once. it is disrespectful to your health and well-being and that of your partner. it may not be as instantly gratifying … so what?  insisting on protection is simply decent and prudent.

i know, no duh, right? but getting swept up in the moment, we may have a lapse in our good judgment; we act on impulse and throw caution to the wind. well, i just want to repeat something my mormor told me: pregnancy is curable; other things are not.

out on the battlefield of love, protect yourself, respect yourself and put a helmet on that soldier!

25 June, 2012


so far away but still so near
the lights go on, the music dies
but you don't see me standing here

i just came to say good-bye...

14 June, 2012

can you tell me how to get, how to get to...

like most gen-x’ers, Sesame Street was my street. i learned a lot of truisms from Sesame Street and the characters that lived there.

i learned lessons about how things work (beet, beet, sugar beet), about emotions (i get mad, i get mad, i get mad…everybody gets maaaaad) and i learned about friendship and accepting people as they are, even if they are different from you.

most of all i loved ernie and bert. i loved the glimpses into their daily life; their squabbles, their mundane undertaking of sandwich making or trying to fall asleep when one snored and the other was a light sleeper.

maybe those wing-nuts on fox news are right—maybe ernie and bert even taught me never to raise so much as an eyebrow to same-sex relationships. who the hell knows? thanks for that added lesson if it is true.

as much as i loved watching two guys that looked like they were just kids like me, living a regular adult life, i have suddenly realized, my life is looking oddly close to theirs. 

sometimes i feel like i am still a kid and the adults have left me home alone to fend for myself. i do a pretty good job at managing…i can go shopping, make meals, keep tidy and get to appointments on time and appropriately dressed…but i fear i am missing the substance that makes up adulthood.

i can do whatever i want whenever i want with whomever i want…hear that mom? i can (and often do) even eat raw cookie dough straight from the bowl! but is that the signifier of being an adult? how do you know you have really grown up? it isn’t turning 21, that’s for sure. is it having a child? well, by that definition i may never be an adult…

lately i feel this ennui growing…unlike the indolence i felt occasionally in my twenties, this feels more settled, more ingrained than a phase or a stage. is this adulthood- the persistence of a not quite defined discontent and a nagging melancholy? i don’t know…Sesame Street never mentioned ennui…

13 June, 2012

let go...

what does it mean exactly to “let go”? 

all too often it is a complicated process attached to an overly simple sounding command.

letting go means shifting our attention, our thoughts and our efforts away from the past and bringing ourselves to the here and now.

letting go is releasing ourselves from dwelling on what has happened and moving toward experiencing what is happening.

letting go is also about not trying to control what will happen and allowing life to unfold without resistance.

we can let go gently. we can untether ourselves from the past by truly understanding that it cannot be changed. we can let go calmly by embracing where we are today. we can let go freely by working toward our goals but accepting there will be peaks and valleys in our journey.

holding on clouds our vision and blurs our ability to see today clearly; if we miss today we may be lost tomorrow. holding on poisons our palate to enjoy the ripeness of what is ready for us now.

make room for tomorrow by leaving yesterday behind and relishing what we have today. 

*photo: elvira madigan

07 June, 2012

the still of the night

growing up i always wanted a balcony off my bedroom. i never really got a balcony exactly, but i did get access to an overhang that was a bay window below my room. it came in very handy when i was in high school and took to sneaking out at night.

these gorgeous early summer nights are reminding me of that time…before heading off to family overseas, desperate to spend every single second with my friends…quietly climbing out my window and leaping into the yard below…the grass cool and tickly on my legs as i would land and sprint down the street to where my friends were waiting in a running car…i loved the still of my neighborhood in the late hours, the padding of my feet on the sidewalk and how loud my breath sounded in the quiet.

we were never up to anything very naughty but the act of sneaking out made me feel deliciously wicked. how i long to feel so bad doing something so innocent again…

05 June, 2012

be true

“I am not an angel, 
and I will not be one till I die: 
I will be myself.”
                                                                                                                       charlotte brontë

04 June, 2012


saturday night i was having dinner with my friends and one of them pointed out a woman at a table near us, “look at that horrific surgery!” he stage-whispered. we all immediately glanced over to see her pulled skin and plumped lips staring back at us, amused almost.

when another friend lamented this woman's seemingly poor choice of doctor, i countered that i have noticed more and more obvious “work” recently and i am beginning to suspect that “bad work” is actually becoming desired and prized. i am wondering if “bad work” is the new Birkin. 

much like a status handbag, with "bad work" everyone can see that you obviously have the means to throw at something elective, indulgent and frankly, exorbitant in this time of economic strain. it is, maybe, a new and aggressive status symbol.

back in high school my mother suggested i get my nose “fixed” and that my chin could be “dealt with” at the same time. i refused. i must confess, i was tempted and while deliberating the option, i spent a lot of time staring at myself in the mirror. straight on, i noticed only my eyes, but my profile was another story. politely, i could call my nose “prominent” or maybe even “distinct” but i have an unusual profile by any account.

once in a while i still consider what it would’ve been like to live with a more conforming face. would i have been prettier? would I have grown into my looks with the same wit and edge? would my personality have changed with my face? in the end, that was what scared me away. even at fifteen, i wondered, where would i go if my face was no longer mine?

refusing to change my face was the first step in embracing my quirks. slowly i learned to emphasize what made me unique and enjoy the attention of standing apart from the herd.

many of my friends have started dabbling in minor work, injectables, peels etc. i have yet to cross the line. i can’t say that i will never go that route, but i also can’t imagine losing what i have grown into either. the lines and crinkles on my face show not just my age, but my story, erasing them seems too close to losing something of myself. 

23 May, 2012

summer stage

summer’s official start is this weekend. i am getting a jump on my favorite season by heading to the beach with my bestie tomorrow. i am so looking forward to lazy sunshine filled days, lying on the beach reading and drinking, and diving in the waves when i get too warm.
what i love most about summer, is that it has such an effect on everyone. we relax and move a little more slowly, the days grow longer and it seems okay to have an afternoon drink or two with a pal, we escape the concrete city and crowd the sandy shore. we are more open and bare…as we shed layers to keep cool, we shed some inhibitions as well. summer is the season when anything can happen, and often, crazy things do. embrace it! i say. enjoy and indulge. act out and act upon every silly impulse or opportunity that pops in your head or crosses your path.
i like to think of life as a movie or a tv show. we are the star of our very own making. the trick is to remember that unlike a movie or show, you can’t pause or fast forward when things get scary or troublesome—you have to take control and write and perform your way out of it. you have to really live through each twist and turn of the plot. 
take a breath, close your eyes and conjure up your next scene then do your best to make it shine. summer is ripe for dreaming and scheming…make something good happen this weekend. set the stage for your next act to unfold…it may even surprise you…

19 May, 2012

land lines

like so many of us now, i am almost never without my smartphone in hand. utterly dependent on its miracles, i use it for constant sms, photos, surfing, emailing and tweeting. with each notification ding, i think about how very seldom my phone actually rings. how rarely i use my phone for actually talking to anyone.
the telephone has always been my modus operandi. i remember first learning to use the telephone in my parent’s house. i was still so small that i needed to push a dinette chair to stand on to reach the phone mounted on the kitchen wall, how my fingers trembled with excitement that i was finally, oh finally, deemed old enough to learn to spin that rotary dial, be instructed in the polite ways of telephone calling and that if i was lucky, to be able to answer the phone when it rang through the house.
the magic the telephone held for me! i could summon my mormor when i wanted her and not be forced to wait for her call, anxiously hoping my mother would pass the receiver to my ear. i could call my friends and feel the electric current of their parents’ approval when i enacted my practiced politesse. my manners may not have been up to par for my own mother, but my friends’ parents were charmed. i felt that wave of needed affection right through the long curly cord into my very bones.
when i was a teenager, my mother complained bitterly that i tied up the lines with my marathon talks with girlfriends. in the days before call-waiting and voicemail, my pragmatic mormor suggested i have my own line. while my mother demurred, my mormor acted. for my fifteenth birthday i received a gorgeous modern princess phone and best of all my own line. months later i grabbed the newly delivered phone book to look up my own entry. when it wasn’t there, listed with my step-father, i was disappointed. as i flipped to the names of my mother’s family. i smiled widely to myself when i discovered my name listed just above my mormor. publishing me with my real name and not his, was a quiet, public rebuke to my step-father for not, in her mind at least, sufficiently shielding me from the cold malevolence of my mother. my name was printed without address but with dots leading to my very own number. seeing my name in that phonebook, i felt that i was, that i existed, that i mattered…above all, that i could be found.
that phone was literally my life line. while not as doggedly dependent on it the way we are now, i knew it was there and that it was mine to reach out to whomever i chose, whenever i chose. like Salinger’s Muriel, i was a girl for whom a ringing phone held absolutely nothing. i wasn’t preoccupied with worries of invitations. i was mostly comforted to know i had my very own conduit to a world outside of home. like my own bat-line, my princess phone was how i signaled for help when i needed to escape the oppressive darkness that lurked in the corners of my parent’s house. while ever-present sunshine poured through south-facing window panes, bathing the ashen blonde wood in bright light, i often tripped over the shadows of unhappiness that pervaded beyond the reach of the sun’s rays and lapped at my feet like a needy dog. my phone was my way out of the blinding dark.
in college, i took that phone and installed it on the night table next to my bed. by then i also had an answering machine. like little beeping presents, messages blinked with urgency when i came home from class, pressing play to hear the sometimes jubilant or sometimes plaintive voices of my friends, more often than not they were just flat demands to return missed calls but the delight of blinking red lights always held just a moment of anticipatory surprise.   
that time has ceased for me and really, for us all. caller id, texting and the permeation of 4G networks have eroded our ability to be unavailable or unreachable for much more than an hour. my phone still lays on my nightstand at night, ever vigilant in case of emergency or just simply on alert in case an inside joke appears in my mind before sleep and simply must be messaged to a conspiring friend. the wonder of mobility and portability have ironically allowed me to be always at home, except now, in the home I have created in my grown-up space, and that home is everywhere and anywhere at once.

11 May, 2012

family jewels

in honor of mother's day i wanted to share a few gems from my own mother...

1.      if you can fix it with money, it’s not a problem worth worrying about

2.      chemicals are bad! you can clean everything with vinegar and baking soda

3.      when boys are scantily clad and cheering on girls for chasing a ball…then you can be a cheerleader

4.      being pretty is subjective, being smart is not

5.      only boring people are ever bored

6.      if you can read, you can cook. but it’s unlikely  you’ll get paid for it

7.      if a man can do it, you can too

8.      if being gay were really a choice, don’t you think all women would be lesbians?

9.      i don’t know why people think you are so tall; maybe you have a big mouth? (i am only 5ft 3in tall)

10.  Boy George is NOT going to marry you!

don't forget your mother this sunday...

*photo credit marie cassatt child reaching for apple

10 May, 2012

wheel trouble

as soon as i learned to walk, my mother says i ran. i ran, without fear, straight down our hill and into our lake until the water swallowed me up and my mother fished me out. 

to keep me safe, my mother and i took infant swim lessons together. so i learned to swim as i learned to walk. i cannot remember not knowing how to walk or to swim. 

the same is true for ice skating. we had a lake house, so once stable on my feet, skates were strapped to them and i learned to balance and glide. i cannot remember a time when i didn’t feel as comfortable on blades as i do in sneakers. 

not the case when it came to riding a bike or driving a car. i clung to my big wheel until my parents cringed with embarrassment. my little brother saw my awesome blue raleigh bike sitting day after day unused and taught himself to ride almost instantly. i did not want to ride a bike. so i walked...until i was annoyed that my friends flew by me in a blur and could slyly travel far past the blocks our parents considered our ”bounds”. only with great reluctance did i learn to ride a bicycle. great reluctance and great difficulty. many times i fell or never even peddled before my bicycle toppled over. once mastered,  i never loved it. only grudgingly did i ride.

my grudging reluctance repeated with driving a car. i was young in my class anyway...being in a car made me sick... my mother had a LOT of accidents. so generally when i rode in a car i was sick and scared. i didn’t want to drive.i procrastinated and refused to sit behind the wheel.  so again, my little brother learned to drive before me, my parents gave him a car and he was told to drive me around. he did not.

getting around in a midwestern town without a vehicle was a drag. and often very cold. but i still rejected driving. i was twenty-seven before i got my driver’s license. when i came home from college or even after, i would bump into friends from highschool and they never failed to ask "did you ever learn to drive?” 

in the end, i somehow managed to learn to drive. i spent a summer at my parent’s house taking care of my (then) baby nieces and it wasn’t safe to have a caretaker that couldn’t drive or run to the library or take them to soccer etc. being without a driver’s license was no longer a charming quirk...i had to become a licensed driver.  
i went far away from home to take my test. in a small town south of the city where i lived, i sat in the waiting room with pimply teenagers, angsty and anxious for freedom, those freakish kids looked at me like i was the weirdo. it was deep in a minnesota winter and i remember i had to parallel park between snow banks. i was stunned and elated to pass the test on my first try. i think everyone else was equally stunned, but more relieved than elated.  i was finally normal...

somethings we learn because we want the ability to do them...maybe we are not so good at it at first but then it gets easier, better... often when we excel at something, we enjoy it even more. other things we just have to learn. we may never enjoy them, but simply mastering the task is the goal. once mastered we may never do it again. sometimes we just need to check off a box, complete a rite of passage or pass a drivers test.

03 May, 2012

if the shoe doesn't fit

when we were little, we had frequent growth spurts. one day our shoes fit, the next they were too small. our growth was physical as well as developmental.
now that we are adults, growth may not be as visible as getting too tall for our trousers. sometimes we outgrow relationships, careers, feelings and attitudes. this can be as confusing as waking up to shoes that don’t fit they way they did the day before. sometimes we may keep trying to squeeze ourselves into that dress, that job, that friendship or that belief…but it just doesn’t feel the same. what was once cozy now chafes. it just doesn’t fit us anymore.
just like when we were little - we have grown. as sad as it is to realize things we loved are no longer suitable for us, it is a sign of our continual evolution. it is okay to grieve for what we once cherished but is no longer so special or no longer works for us. It is also okay to want to put them aside and move on to what feels better for us today.
wrap up what doesn’t fit. say goodbye with love and respect for the role that these people, places, ideas and objects have played in your life. appreciate what they have done to help you get to where you are today. put away what doesn’t suit you and make room for the new.
*photo: walt disney's cinderella