Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Time--A Sacred Thing

Sitting still and quiet,
Empty folded hands,
Legs stretched out loose,
Crossing hearts
Sharing this sacred thing

Deep inside numb tears lose
Holding churning emotions still,
Draped in the will
To get these moments right
Sharing this sacred thing

Heavy expectation hangs
With hearts that wish
The days to keep turning,
Trapping our will
To share this sacred thing

Without our willful nods,
The clock keeps tap ticking
As the chasm widens
Between here and now
And time and eternity

Sun beams saturate the hard floor
To soften misty eyes, wondering if
Our close distance to eternity
Could pause this living
To share more of this sacred thing

Monday, November 13, 2017


(Dedicated to honoring my Uncle Dave who has valued strength and passion his whole life, who now faces his next greatest act of bravery:  living passionately in the weakness of a life with ALS.) 

When you see a strong memoried man stare straight into his short future, your head spins his direction. From my angle, I can't quite see his screen, but I see his reflection as in the darkness of a TV screen. His silence shallow breathes words with his eyes.

There's sweet assuredness mingling with pain and doubt like whiskey and coke. But his wrestle with the hard life ahead can't be watered down like sinking ice cubes. The slow sweet drink of Coke won't drown out the strength of this bitter taste of the lowball he's been handed.  Certainly, he'd say he's been slid a strong kicking tumbler.

In this part of life's ride, he's facing the frustration of a stop sign on a steep hill. Smoothly moving on is putting his control and riding skills to the test. He's had to disengage the clutch on the life he prefers to live. Yet, his hands still clamp handles of a walker to steady walk him through a daily path of moguls.  Life has already taught him there are many times when the smooth roadway turns to a patch of loose gravel or an encounter that offsets his stable footing.

But he's clinging to his unforgotten riding skills for this one.

Make life an honest ride....There are days when this disease kicks his ass, and he feels like he's face down like the shelf life of wine rather than whiskey, and there are days when he kicks it. No doubt, the fight is worth every second if a second is all he has of this ride.

Live humble these days because he has no white horse to travel upon....  If he could bow long and slow to his queen, he'd stay on his knees kissing her hands.

Kindness is the strength of love lived out in action.  His light hug is belted tightly around you with an "I love you." The gentleman that escorts you to the door, whispers again with head weak low "I love you," and weight lift raises his hands to his lips to blow a kiss goodbye from behind his glass paneled door.

Living well is rightly reworked into willing to live.  When breath doesn't come easily and spending it is worth a million dollars, what do you dare to gamble your last breaths on? He has no time or energy for the deep breathes of reserved regret. Breath is reserved for the bravery of releasing forgiveness.  So much life breath wasted on needless words and worries.

His soul stands in praise with hands held high wrestling with the weeding out and emptying of all the unnecessary.  Now words don't waste his breath. His words speak with the intention to give his soul to the Master.   To speak for what mattered in the whole of his life.  To make his words last for loved ones for the rest of his life.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


#MeToo ...I never typed it in Twitter or Facebook because I hoped I'd be much more than a number.

Sweeping his hand to touch my rear or back as he walked by me when clearly the space provided  was plenty to avoid any contact. 

Making passing by him in hallways and rooms difficult as he didn't get out of the way but waited for me to pass.  

Holding on to my leg as if to steady himself as he walked by me sitting or lying on the floor as if he were going to fall or step on me if he didn't.

Quietly and unobtrusively "Pssting" and beckoning with his fingers to come to him  

Repeatedly asking me to take him for a ride, an innuendo before I even knew what that term even meant. But I certainly felt the laced meaning behind the words, the daring me to reveal I
knew it too, like some shared sick secret.
Calling my house on Christmas break and asking if I just got out of the shower and stalking past my house.

These many encounters shortened here, starting in my teens and ending my freshman year of college, may not seem very nerfarious, but these constant concealed actions at the hands of your good friend's older father should make the hairs on anyone's arms stand tall. But his acts made me feel very small and unsure and unstable.

The constant effort to avoid him in person or on the phone made me feel like I was living a double life with my best friend.  I could confide anything in her but this,  hoping that she would realize the anguish he caused for me.  I thought she might recognize my avoidance from my continual refusals to spend the night, to hang out at her house without her mom home, to sun bath in her back yard....

In my young way, I tried to call him out.  When others couldn't see his suggestive advances, I would call out for all who couldn't see him to hear, "What do you want?" or "Why are you calling me?"  I even asked my friend to never leave me alone with him. It's remarkable (not really because I grew good at expecting  the slithery) that the one time my friend left her bedroom to go to the bathroom, he peaked into the room to talk to me.  His wife's calls, "Leave her alone," seemed to abate his actions for those moments. What did she know that he was trying to do?

I often wondered how many people he did this to.  I wondered what about ME made him think he would get away with his weirdness. I questioned myself. Was I too nice to him?  There was some shame in thinking he could even think to try to do these things to me as if I were ignorant to know what he was attempting. I remember my thoughts tailspinning. If I tell each little gesture or comment or facial expression or movement of his to someone, it may not seem as a big deal to them. Yet,  I very much felt like I slowly lost my sense of confidant control the more I had to put up with him. THAT was something I definitely hated.

While there are greater details to my story, I wasn't raped or physically harmed. While I lacked age, I didn't lack fear or disappointment. My biggest disappointment is my best friend not really believing this of her father, even though I realize that it would be difficult to face this about your father.

Yet, I am very proud of the men that defended my story and my honor: a high school boyfriend that wanted to go clobber him; my father who on two occasions made himself very clear, and my husband who affirms my sense of disgust about this man's actions and validates my "small" harassment experience.

For me, joining in writing #MeToo  is still complicated and difficult because of my expectations for what I want this campaign to accomplish for our future.

It has to be more than a hashtag that leaves others woefully wondering about our stories. It has to give more than a tangible sense of how many women battle this kind of disgust. It has to do more than comfort women by realizing other women share similar experiences. It has to be more than just listening to a woman's words. It has to be more than just women listening to women's words because if this is just woman to woman...WE KNOW WE ARE NOT ALONE! Thus the hashtag #MeToo.

What I want is for gentle men to know that we trust you to support us,  #MenToo.
We as women want to know that our gender is not alone in this fight,  #MenToo.
We want you gentle men to listen and validate our stories, our worth, and our power, #MenToo.




Can I get a #MenToo!

Monday, October 16, 2017


In the immediate aftermath  and shock of death, information is collected  by a newspaper to announce and celebrate a life to write an obituary.
                 Names…dates…honors…survivors…a picture…a recording of the remains of  life.
But what if the dying were able to provide a real tribute to their own lives?
        Passions…purpose…highlights…heroes…hopes…etchings of  the testimony of a life.
It’s a difficult  and brave matter deciding how to define the life you are living–to review it from outside yourself to decide in limited words what will represent your life at its end.
I wondered what questions I would ask to be able to write this type of obituary for another person. So here are the beginnings, the questions, the ramblings of a brain that is throwing around the idea of engraving someone’s life through words.
Here are the first raw thoughts of questions that I think could be used to glean the picture of a life in order to help to shape a story for others.
  • What is most important in your life?

  • What do you admire about your life? 

  • What inspires honesty in you?
  • What have you spent most of your time and energy on?  Why?

  • Gratitude…what do you have genuine gratitude for?

  • What is it not too late to say?  To whom?

  • What has “saved” your life today?  everyday?  this year?

  • Be a completely wishful thinker.  Tell a wish you have.

  • Recall someone who at sometime has been a lifeline and tell the story.

  • What do you hope to still be working on when you die,  literally or conceptually?

  • Who do you call for help at 3 a.m. 

  • Who do you want to make proud? 
  • Tell a time you made someone proud.

  • What person in your life has offered the most influence?  guidance?

  • Where have your actions spoken the loudest to demonstrate love?

  • Who will miss you?  Why?

  • Besides those in your immediate family, who contributed to your being well?

  • What moved your heart?  Tell the story of proof.
This inkling of an idea may never get off the ground, but some brave souls have already willingly offered to pitch their lives into my hands to mold into their stories. Turning this idea into a reality seems a daunting task,  but some day it may be trumped by my belief that it is a lasting comfort  that the living can have the final lasting words on their lives.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


agreement, accordance, or harmony.

  1. 1.
    jointly arranged, planned, or carried out; coordinated.

    synonyms:jointunitedcollaborativecollective, combined, cooperative
    "concerted action"
    • strenuously carried out; done with great effort.


  2. 2.
    (of music) arranged in several parts of equal importance.

CONCERT...the meaning is not lost on me in the midst of our COUNTRY'S recent tragedy. It stands like a siren beckoning us as a country to dig deeper, to hear, to heed, to hone a weakened resolve to work together for the humane soul of our country.

A COUNTRY CONCERT...the strange 
significance of those words side by side is not lost on me. 

With compassion and fearless deed, fraternity was the first concerted response, mutually agreeing to save lives through any means possible, even at the ultimate sacrifice of laying down one's own that others might live.

There was no debate or side or reason given for helping a stranger, merely the desire to help end pain, tears, and cries of the wounded and bleeding. A concerted effort to defend life. 

In the wake of horrific events, once again our bleeding country is called to concert to listen to one another, to mutually collaborate to hear the cries around us, to choose to not be divided by the orchestrated mayhem, to work to clear the chaos, to act to end the pain of strangers. 

As citizens of this great country we must make a concerted effort to listen to the heart of the words that ache for our nation that keeps dividing itself in pieces in the hopes of uniting itself in cause. 

And yes, hearing others above our own assertions will require a strenuous, concerted effort. Hearing others' heart cries may take the sacrifice of our own words and the carrying of their burdens. 

But bringing peace to the chaos requires a country concert, a mutual agreement to coordinate because we all are parts of equal importance. 

Monday, August 21, 2017


KAREN COMBS is my reminder to be always at work for others.

This happened more regularly than I really want to admit. A moment of exhausted frustration reared its ugly head just when I wanted to make a hopefully simple, quick teacher trek to the copier and then run back to my room to accomplish a million other tasks.
But then that quick trip turned into a blind, confused, unbelieving stare at the copier. Sometimes, it was accompanied by guttural moans that I wished were silent. 

And then a calm voice nearby always offered, "Can I help you"  or "Is there something I can do for you?"  

I tried to be mindful that she, too, had a million things on her plate to accomplish along with answering the phone and buzzing people into the building and getting field trip drivers lined up and organizing a school wide fundraiser and ...  
Karen Combs helping another teacher problem solve.

So, my polite answer was that I was just trying to figure something out.

But then before I knew what to do, I felt her presence alongside me asking, "What have you tried?"  

As she miraculously worked her way through the quandary of the machine, her response to my frustrations were always in agreement, "I hear ya!"  While I pushed buttons at her prompting, she would say, "No worries, I've had to try this before."  

She ALWAYS gave me her good side.  
She ALWAYS made the time for my issues.  
She ALWAYS made it seem like I could accomplish things on my own, but she was just going to stand there beside me.
She ALWAYS made me feel like I was on the right track. 
She ALWAYS made me feel like I didn't need to get frustrated because I could master it.  
She ALWAYS offered a possible guess or solution.  
She ALWAYS validated my problems. 

She stayed with me through the problem until it was solved. On those days when my teacher time ran out at that copier, she even offered to complete my work and bring it to me! 

I know I fall very short of being that kind of a reminder for people, but I am ever grateful for the person she encourages me to be just upon every remembrance of her. 

She is my reminder to look around and see the needs people have.
She is my reminder to be a sounding board for others' frustrations.
She is my reminder to offer help to people. 
She is my reminder to put others before myself.

I'm thankful that our paths crossed and that she is all of those reminders for me. 

Who is your reminder to be a problem solver with others?


Thursday, July 20, 2017

EVEN IN THE CHAOS, IT ALL MATTERS...a note to my daughter


All your simple moments matter...

...Waiting and watching while she wipes her own bottom and puts on her own shoes
...Singing her four songs from a tired door frame lean to banish the bedtime wiggles
...Brushing teeth that will come out anyway
...Preparing the snack baggy to take in the car on your drive.
...Finding Horsey to take with her.
...Kissing boo boos
...Watching her dance to the music videos
...Letting her help load the dishwasher

Truthfully, many days in the lives of young moms and dads you just don't remember any of the many little things you did that seem equivalent to the spectacular, nothing earth shattering.

Sometimes, those many things that added up to a whole day just don't seem to have achieved even an honorable mention in this monumental parenting task.

Every day of parenting seems to have the possibility for a pop up thunderstorm that blurs your vision for that day, but especially when your babies are very young.

At the end of the day, patience is paper thin and energy is spent.

You have met demands all day from every corner with clear intentions to create moments to cherish.

Yet, during the deluge of parenting, life is full of the energy draining necessary trivial tasks which leave us with a myopic memory of those cherished events.

We swear we will slow the pace to hold everything faithfully dear, but our best hopes seem to glide down a steady hill.

All of it...all of it...all of it is part of the mysterious cosmic whirl at the center of your life's build a life of purpose in our little babes.

Some day, as fast as these chaotic storms arose, they will fade. The energy expended will dissipate and not everything will be dizzy spinning out of control.

Just as surely as some chaotic day picking the right backpack and comforter for college will seem trivial in the scheme of their years ahead.  And your call to check in before finals will seem unnecessary.

But each moment of the controlled chaos of parenting is purposeful.

Rest assured, all of these big and small moments create what really matters: a life lived with the purpose to build a little life of purpose.

And even if you can't remember each special moment along life's way, you will always treasure that little life you purposefully nurtured.