Sleepless in Zion: A Study of Romance vs. Reality

I didn’t really love my husband when we got married.  He didn’t love me either.


Can you fall in love with someone you have never met?  Really, truly, in LOVE?  In the age of internet dating, chat rooms, email,  can you cultivate deep, committed love,  without being together?

I don’t think so.

Rick and I met for the first time on top of the Empire State Building.  It was just like that movie, Sleepless in Seattle. I had imagined myself like Meg Ryan, arriving breathless, flopping her wallet open to buy a ticket, and moments later, stepping out on top of the world to meet the love of her life.  They were MFEO. (Made for each other.)


With a few minor changes, that is how it happened for us.

I got lost walking to the Chrysler Building instead of the Empire State Building.   In a New York August heat wave… 90% humidity,  102 degrees.   I finally arrived looking like KISS with a sunburn and bloody blistered feet.   I was two hours late, and then waited in a 90 minute line in the basement of the building to buy my ticket.  Other than that, it was super romantic.  We fell into each other’s arms.   People took our picture, and clapped.  We held hands,  he kissed me softly after we gazed out into the night cityscape, dazzled by the enormous city.


 Our lives together began.

Rick had just been released from a two-year mormon mission in Sacramento, CA. He had flown home after his two years of service to Vermont, where he had kissed his mother, barbecued with his father, and greeted his sister with his new niece for the first time. He also planned this trip to NYC. To meet me, a stranger, and the woman he loved. Rick had met my brother, a fellow LDS missionary in Sacramento, when they had been assigned as roommates. Zack was just six months into his two-year commitment, and Rick was one year into his. Like most other missionaries…he was busy, focused, homesick, and trolling for mail. Contact with people from the outside, the real world, was crucial.

The mission rules were strict, and contact with family and friends was only allowed through the USPS.  No phone calls, no email, no text messages.  Rick saw a picture of me, among my brother’s things, and casually asked if I was his girlfriend. Horrified, as any little brother would be, he informed Elder Poulin of our sibling relationship. (Elder is the assigned title men in the mission field use. It is a recognition of the spiritual power they are given. Women are not allowed to have this power, and are referred to as “sisters.”)

A week later, Elder Poulin sent out a letter. To me.

A little desperate? Yep.

But in reality, I had been desperate too.  Not for a mormon missionary.  At that time in my life, a missionary was dead last on my list of desires, but for some inexplicable reason, I wrote him back.  Perhaps it was a mercy letter.   I hated to be rude, or hurt his feelings.  Perhaps I was desperately alone and jumping at the chance to express my innermost fears to a person I was not invested in. Perhaps I somehow knew that he would offer me healing in a way I could not find on my own.


What ever the reason, it worked. Elder Poulin won the snail mail jack pot. In the 395 days that ensued, we wrote over 150 letters. A few months in, we began carrying mini cassette recorders everywhere we went, conspicuously talking to each other in long, drawn out conversations that took two weeks to complete.  7, 425 minutes of conversation, to be precise. At first, a casual way to insert a bit of excitement into a week of monotony. Who doesn’t love to get a letter…hand written…in the mail?

It grew from casual fun, to inexplicable, illegal attraction, infatuation…love?

Missionaries were supposed to be dedicated only to God.  Elder Poulin and I were not to write of things involving love and lust, so we wrote of ourselves, shared our fears and hopes, mailed pictures of ourselves in hopes of familiarizing the hopelessly unfamiliar.

Can you love someone you have never met?

The question ran through my mind on endless repeat for more than a year.  It defined my life and decisions I made as a young college grad.

We were engaged one month after we met, and married four months later.  Madly in love, or so we thought.   We were ready for the Happily Ever After part.


Today, we have been married for 12 years.  We have moved across the country and back again.   Welcomed three beautiful little girls into our family.  We have left the mormon religion, and are still healing from the aftermath of stepping off of our foundation of faith.

Here’s what we discovered about love:

You can’t truly love someone you have not met.

Which means, I don’t believe that Rick and I loved each other as much as we thought we did when we became man and wife.  We had been with each other for less than six months.  It’s not enough time.    It was an arranged marriage.  Each of us exchanging parts of a resume.  We presented to each other our truest selves, on paper.  In one-sided conversations, in which both of us listened and imagined being with that person, hand in hand.  But something falls flat.

I loved that Rick was smart and open to adventure.  He was athletic and physically active.  He had a college degree, and ambition.  He wanted to marry and have children, be an active father and role model.  He was willing to show vulnerability, and he was a leader.  He and I both wanted the same kind of life.  We had the same interests, the same priorities.  He was willing to work with me and my struggles of faith.  He had strong, muscular hockey-player legs, dark wavy hair, a strong jaw, and an amazing ass.  (Not that I was allowed to be looking).  I still love all of these things about him.


What I didn’t know, was how he would look at me when I throw frustration fueled temper tantrum.   If he would make me feel safe when I was scared.  I didn’t know what Rick would when he felt threatened.   I wasn’t sure if he would give me the space I needed to cool off when my feelings were hurt, or if he could be cruel and let biting words leave permanent scars in a fight.    Would he let ego or fear of appearing weak, drive his decisions?  Would he use his gender as a weapon, insist he had the final word?  I couldn’t tell if he would be able to look through the letters, the pictures, the tapes, and see me.

Really, and truly see me.

The answers to these questions are needed to give dimension to real love.  They only come with experiences life gives you as it unfolds over time.  More than months, spent in a flurry of wedding planning and job hunting and moving.

We came together knowing so much about each other… so many questions answered, so many topics explored.  But we were missing so much, the breath that brings the relationship to life.  I have so often wondered, was it luck?  Or are we such a good match because of the soul baring resumes we created in those 150 letters?   The naive faith I placed in our ability to fill in all of the cracks… fissures I could not see or anticipate  in my young twenty-three years… was that real intuition, or just blind luck?

Maybe it’s both.

Our courtship, engagement, and marriage has been a study in romance vs. reality.


You can not love someone you have never met.

Not a full, living, breathing, multidimensional love that can carry you through the joys and the gauntlets life lays out for you.  We did not marry with that love, but it came to life for us in the small moments that create memories, history, trust.

I remember the first time Elder Poulin signed a letter, “Love, Rick.”  And my heart cart-wheeled in my chest.

I remember the first time I admitted to Rick, whispering into my mini cassette tape, curled up in bed, that I was falling in love.

I remember feeling him grab me in the throng of tourists on top of the Empire State Building, and the thrill of believing I had just met my soul mate.

I remember watching a tear roll down his cheek when Fantine dies in broadway’s Les Miserables… how that tear cracked me open.

I remember spying on him as he bathed our daughters since they were a few days old, singing Peter, Paul and Mary’s Marvelous Toy, kissing their toes.

I remember how he would take their hands as toddlers and skip down the sidewalk with them like Dorothy in the wizard of Oz, unconcerned with anything but their thrilled giggles.

I remember the first moment I felt completely safe… when I knew without a doubt that we had survived leaving the mormon church, and he loved the real me.

I remember the moment I looked directly into his eyes as I was overcome with exhaustion and fear while trying to birth my last baby girl.  I saw the real, breathing, luminous love for me in his eyes, and she was born.

I remember when someone asked me to conjure up an image in my mind of safety, a representation of the thing that would make me feel completely protected…

That image is me, in Rick’s arms.

There is no other place.

The Sounds of Our Crisis: Living with Misophonia


Everyone has a trigger… that one thing that will make you go apeshit.  The emotion you just can’t cope with.  The monster you were sent to slay.

Mine is feeling silenced, my voice stolen.  Muted. Dismissed.

So naturally, I have  a child that hates the sound of my voice.  She suffers from misophonia, which makes her go crazy if I talk in the car while she is in the back seat.  She can’t stand to hear me talk on the phone, or converse with Rick downstairs on the couch while she tries to fall asleep.

Is that irony?  Divine cruelty?  God’s stab at satire?

Maybe.  But it also gives me clear direction…it demands that I find a way.   I have a little corner here, my own piece of the internet, and all I can do is write about what is happening with honesty.

I’m scared.  Driving home with my girls squabbling in the car, the fear creeps in.  It makes me angry and I am yelling at them before we have hit the driveway.  We have been together for 4 minutes.

We are emptying the dishwasher, setting the table for dinner.  Lydia stomps down the stairs, on the defensive.  She is singing loudly, slamming things to the ground, shoving chairs into the table, she crashes through the kitchen… the fear grabs me by the throat, and I struggle to maintain calm.

Lydia hisses at Carly as we sit in our chairs, and jumps to her feet quickly, almost knocking over the chair, slopping water out of the glasses.  About five months ago, Carly was added to the growing list of things that provoke Lydia’s misophonia meltdowns.  I take in a few gulps, the panic I feel tightens every muscle in my neck, strangling me.  She grabs her plate and kicks the swinging door in, stomping.  She grits her teeth but it doesn’t muffle the  furious screech.  We all freeze in place.   I put my hand on Carly’s back, and the small gesture of compassion breaks her composure.  She whimpers, and then grunts angrily.  Rick hands me Lydia’s  fork and napkin.  I snatch them from him and storm into the kitchen.   I try not to throw them at her.   She is cowering in the corner,  plugging her headphones into her iPod, turning it up so loud I can hear Bruno Mars damaging her eardrums.  She looks at me with disgust.

It hurts.  I can’t help it.  I feel wounded by her posturing.  Her revulsion.  Her aversion.  It’s an old wound now, scarred over and reopened by her sharp looks and high-pitched screeches over the last 18 months.  It’’s raw right now.  Because she is triggered by Carly too.  And every time she hurts my adult feelings, every time I must reach deep into the best, most mature part of myself to process this hurt and turn it into much-needed compassion for my glowering daughter, I think of Carly.  Her inability to process.  Her young spirit, and what this rejection must be teaching her about herself.  The complexity of the emotions swirling around our dinner table is nauseating.

I retreat to the dining room, and we eat, minus one.  While we eat, I struggle to pull my mind out of the next 10 years.  How will we survive this?  What will this do to us?  What will happen to my little girls?  To me?  I look at Rick, my eyes communicating my desperation.  He tries to ground me into the moment.  “Take a bite.  It’s just dinner,”  his eyes say, pleading.

It doesn’t feel like just dinner, it feels like our whole lives are being swallowed by this crazy, mysterious misophonia.

Sometimes, I can not keep the monstrous fear at bay and  I lose it.  Most of the time, it looks like anger.  I rant. I watch Stella’s eyes widen as she hears, “I’m so damn sick of this shitty behavior!”   The words taste terrible as I spit them out, aware of their sharp edges.     This extra loss of control  must do wonders for all three of my girls’  already tender, aching spirits.  Their appetites.   Being angry with Lydia is like being angry when a wounded animal snarls at you.  She is hurting, I know this.

Sometimes, the tears just roll, drip into chicken orzo pasta, and everyone acts like they don’t notice.

Sometimes, we pretend it isn’t happening.  We spend the meal sharing things we are grateful for in a clockwise, orderly fashion.  Stella gets up, runs to the kitchen, and makes Lydia lift her headphones and give her grateful words so she can report to the group.  The grateful list is building up, the room tightening with tension.

After dinner, when the clicking of the silverware against the plates stops, when the sight of Carly chewing her dinner is gone, when the sound of me taking a sip of water is over, Lydia goes into sweetheart mode.  She is throbbing with guilt and shame, she is not oblivious to the pain she is causing.  She snuggles up to me, she brings me school papers with great marks, she sweetly engages with Stella, offering to help her get her pj’s on. She tries to make Carly laugh.   She leaves us love notes, to smooth out the hurts.

I often find Carly sulking in bed.  The rejection is getting to Carly.  Normally so passive, so unexpressed, so quiet and easily content, Carly is beginning to show her pain.  She is frustrated and pissed off, she cries in an angry fit, kicking at my attempts to hold her.

“She HATES me!  She thinks I am disgusting!  And I am not doing ANYTHING!”

She folds her arms defensively, growling at me.  I try to explain.  But the explaining doesn’t soothe.  I know that, as I ache too.  I feel rejected.  I feel terror about how Lydia’s life will unfold, how she will manage.  I feel the weight of the damage she is doing to her sister, unintentional, but real, slam me in the chest.

Oh my GOD, what are we going to do?

It is not breaking my heart…it is eating me alive.

I think about all the families out there, trying to hold on.  Carrying their own burdens.  Their own hurts.  I am grateful for the health we do have.  That my girls are doing well in school.  They enjoy sports and friends and music and movies.  I think of people I know.  People I know who have children with closed  head injuries.  Autism.  Feeding tubes.  Wheelchairs.  Brain damage.  Schizophrenia.  People I know who have to liquefy their child’s meals and feed him through a straw.  Or are acting like their son’s pancreas, spending sleepless nights on his bedroom floor, praying the numbers go up, one hand ready to summon an ambulance.

These thoughts do calm me.  I do feel genuinely grateful.  I feel relief that it is not me.  And then I cross my fingers, knock on wood, send up a half-hearted prayer.

And please bless that will never be me.

But it does not drain me of my fear.  It does not help me feel capable of handling my own life.  My own daughters.  My own burdens.

I used to have a recurring dream, showing up when I was a small child.  It has haunted me for most of my life.  In the dream,  I am going about a normal day, when I notice that a tooth is loose.  And when I wiggle it, the tooth pops out in my hand.  Horror fills me as I realize that the tooth has come out.  My permanent tooth!  I tell someone… whoever is with me in the dream.  They seem unconcerned.   I dial the dentist’s office.  And while I scramble to tell people what is happening, or make an emergency appointment, my teeth become loose and fall out, one by one.   I feel completely out of control.  Helpless and panicked.  Permanent damage is being done, and there is no reaction, I can’t stop it, I can’t find someone who can stop it.

I haven’t had that dream for many years.  Maybe because I have climbed inside of that nightmare.   I am living in it now.  That feeling of helplessness and desperation.   We are living with something no one has heard of.  There is little known about it.  Our doctors haven’t heard of it.  Psychologists.  Therapists.  The few that know it, can not agree on what it is.  A psychiatric disorder?  A neurological disorder? A hearing problem?  A sensory integration disorder?  An autism spectrum-symptom?  A behavior problem?  The sensation of absolute helplessness is paralyzing.  I have no control.  I have no where to turn.

Why I am writing this?  This private, personal account of what really happens at our house, around the dinner table?

During the summer of 2012, misophonia had already slithered its way into our lives.  It’s presence a snake, coiled and waiting.  Watching us.  I had a sense it was there, but only that unease that comes as a premonition before the strike.   When it struck, here, and here,  I did what most sane, reasonable parents do.  I turned to the internet.  And there, I found almost nothing.  The info that I did find was less than encouraging.  It still haunts me, the things that I read that summer.  About families that can not live together.  About kids who leave home and never come back.  About mothers or fathers or siblings that are lost to each other, unable to overcome these tiny, imperceptible, everyday noises that scratch at Lydia’s brain like nails on a chalkboard.

There was a blog, I wish I could remember the name of it.  One blog.  And the mom who wrote it, posted about her son, and his misophonia.  All of the things they had tried.  All of the medication, and therapies and specialists that were not helping.  About dinner time.  But what left the lasting  impression was one sentence.

“We are in crisis over here.”

It was the most comforting thing I have read about misophonia.   I think of her often, and her willingness to admit it.  The crisis.  “Me too,”  I thought.

Knowing I was not alone was everything.

We are trying things.  We are draining our energy, our time, our savings account, trying to find help.  On the outside, we look like a normal, everyday family of five.  Mini van, soccer cleats, playdates, preschool art projects, birthday parties, piano recitals.  On the inside, if you came to visit, you would see a functioning family.  Home cooked meals, sibling squabbles, love notes, piles of laundry, homework unpacked on the coffee table.

Maybe we are a normal everyday family of five.

And everyone has something that makes them feel out of control.  Helpless.  Terrified.  Alone.

Are we all there?  Walking around with our teeth falling into our palms?  Clinging to the stories of the other people?   Gathering gratitude like seashells in a bucket, talismans of the burdens that we don’t have to carry?

The one thing I can do is step forward.  Use my voice, and say it when I can.

Me, too.   Me too.

To learn more about misophonia:

This NY Times article

The today show segment, here   Warning:  trigger sounds are played.

What Can You Know for Sure?


verb (used with object), knew, known, know·ing.

1.  to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to apprehend clearly and with certainty have established or fixed in the mind or memory be cognizant or aware of acquainted with, as by sight, experience, or report understand from experience or attainment

What do you know for sure?

My entire life has been driven by this question.   KNOW… the most powerful word that exists in mormon culture.  When I say or even think this word, I hear the definitive crack of a slamming of a gavel.   It is done.

I left my faith because of the misuse and abuse of this word.

As a mormon girl, I ached to know.   I wanted it so much, the need swirled, undefined and cloudy within me until unmet, it settled itself into my bones.  Infused itself into my muscles and fibers and tissues.

“I know the church is true.”

“I know the scriptures are true.”

“I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.”

 These declarations of truth are scratched into my psyche. Imprinted.  The desire to make those words my own drove me to the brink of despair.  I followed all of the mormon formulas, but the words were not mine to profess.  To be surrounded by people with such concrete proclamations burrowed a deep well of failure inside me.

Once a month, mormon worship includes  holding an open mic testimony meeting, where members of the congregation go up the pulpit and declare what they know is true.


 [tes-tuh-moh-nee, or, esp. British, -muh-nee]  Show IPA

noun, plural tes·ti·mo·nies.

1. Law. the statement or declaration of a witness under oath or affirmation, usually in court.

2. evidence in support of a fact or statement; proof.

3. open declaration or profession, as of faith.

4. Usually, testimonies. the precepts of God.

Although there is no script, the conditioning that begins in the preschool years leads to the inclusion of certain key phrases that most people use while “bearing their testimony.”  It almost always begins with

“I’d like to bear my testimony…I know the church is true.”

There is no age restriction, so usually the open mic hour will begin with children in the congregation.   Parents will lead their toddlers and preschoolers up to the mic, hoist them onto their hips, or let them stand invisible behind the thick wooden lectern.  They whisper the words to their tiny children.  The little ones must hold their breath with the strain of listening to their mom or dad’s sentences, which they repeat in a breathy burst.

I know this church is true…

I know the scriptures are the words of God…

I know Heavenly Father loves me.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Then the adults get up.  They will often tell a story to illustrate their “knowing.”  They often cry.  I remember my mother’s soft hands, twisting tissues around her fingers, dabbing her eyes.  She is moved to tears with ease.  My father, sitting straight and attentive, was less emotive.   Neither of my parents brought me to the pulpit.  I never felt their lips and their breath tickling my ear, feeding me their words to declare.  They did not pressure me as I got older to participate in this public ritual.  I felt weak with relief that they never required it of me.  But, the opportunity to “bear your testimony” was presented with great regularity throughout my upbringing.  Sunday school, scripture studies, youth activities, church camp, and family gatherings.  I have witnessed my grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, parents, mentors and friends all tearfully bear their testimony throughout my life.

My best friend through middle school and high school was not a mormon girl.  She was delightfully agnostic, and her life was not an internal storm of powerful statements and concepts  (God, testimony, truth, sacred, salvation, purity, modesty, worthiness).   She came with me to a youth overnight camp for teens ages 14 + when we were juniors in high school.   It was one of the few times I ever invited her to a church activity.  At the end of the overnight trip, there was a testimony meeting.  I sat next to her, feeling as if I might erupt with expectation, as one by one, my peers and friends got up and declared their testimony.  My friend began elbowing me, urging me to get up and do it.  “Go.  Go.”  She prodded after each teenager sniffled their way back their seat.  She wanted me to do it, she wanted to hear what it was that I knew.  I shook my head in refusal, and finally,  I turned in my seat and caught her eyes.  I let her see it, for just a brief flash…the devastation I felt in not knowing.

I decided to give the mormon church one last chance when I was a young student teacher, writing to a mormon missionary whom I felt I was falling in love with.  I wanted the door to be opened to me… the door that seemed to close me off from the knowing that my family and peers all spoke of so reverently… I had been knocking until my knuckles bled, and the mantle of shame, being shut out of this special place, was crushing.

I read the Book of Mormon.  It took a while, because every few verses I would be overcome by doubt.  I would read a passage and feel resistance.  I would drop to my knees every few minutes and plead with Heavenly Father to release me from the doubts, to open my heart.  To let me in.  A steady stream of tears dripped from the end of my nose onto the flimsy pages of text.  I finished the whole book this way, reading, weeping, pleading, praying.

I waited for the affirmation that what I read was “true.”  I waited for the burning in my heart, the warmth and knowledge that had been declared to me by everyone I loved.   It was a knowing I would not be granted.

It could not be formed out of my desire.

Over the weekend, Rick and I  watched the fifth Harry Potter movie with my girls.  In the story, Harry has to write “I must not tell lies”  on a sheet of paper with a magic quill.  As he does this, the words are painfully etched into his flesh.  When he asks how many times he must write the words, the professor responds, “Until it leaves a mark.”

There did not need to be a magic quill like Harry’s to wound me, only the continual and absolute declaration of truth and knowledge by everyone important to me…and their insistence that my inability to join them was my own retched failings.  The etched over words “I know this church is true” were not a delicious imprint, but a searing scar I carried.

They had left their mark.

I was never allowed to shape my own personal testimony.  There is only one answer to  arrive at… the church is true. How is a child supposed to explore and come to their own ideas about God, spirit, worthiness, sacrifice, scripture, and prayer, when the answers are whispered into their ears, etched into their souls since infancy, and kept there with the fear of losing their culture, their identity, the acceptance of their people?  The notion that what one knows to be personal truth should also be accepted or can be experienced as universal truth is limiting, damaging, and confining.  People need opportunity to explore who they are free of shame and fear.  Children must not be spoon fed what we feel is our truth.  It is our job to be witnesses to the unfolding of their own knowing. To present all the possibilities we can and watch with fascination as the differences and similarities emerge.

What do you know? What IS knowing?

I have known things.  That knowing came in a flash of recognition, the way a deep breath fills your lungs and then is carried into every organ, every tissue, every cell, through your beating heart.

When I comb through my life for the most significant moments, KNOWING are the shimmering stones on my pathway.  The moments I KNEW.   They vibrate with tension and energy….  The moment I knew I would marry Rick.  The moment I knew I was pregnant.  The moment I knew the force of a mother’s love.  The moment I knew that I must look for my own knowing.   The moment I knew I must reclaim myself.

The only thing that we can truly know is ourselves.  Knowing oneself is a work that spans a lifetime of inquiry and analysis and forgiveness and fortitude, and what I believe, is the purpose of our life.

To know oneself, is to know God.

“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”  – Laozi

Fear is Not a Monster to be Conquered




I didn’t fall away from the writing, let it drift into obscurity.  My confidence had been seriously wounded, my spirit had taken a beating in the last several months of 2013, but I was fiercely fighting.


It was a sudden snap, a clean break.

A good friend of mine borrowed my set of white dinner plates we had got in our wedding  for her Thanksgiving feast, and the handle on the bag ripped the bag open as she was returning them to me.  The plates shattered.  All but one.  Boom.


That same evening, Rick called around 10 pm from his indoor soccer game.   I answered and he calmly tells me that his Achilles tendon “popped.”  His word… he uses it because that is the sound it made.   It snapped in half.  Severed.  Connection of foot to leg, gone.  In one loud announcement, we moved into a world of crutches and immobility and surgery and a long, long recovery.


The outdoor christmas lights Rick and I had labored to hang on our house just days before stopped working.  And in my newly designated role as “person who does anything requiring movement,” I went to investigate.  Someone had cut our christmas lights.  Snip Snip.  The connection had been cleanly cut.

Coming in from the blowing snow after shoveling the porch and sidewalk, I fumbled my phone from my pocket, dropped it on the cold hard slate of the entryway tile, and shattered the screen.  For the past 6 weeks, I have been scrolling and peeking around the spiderweb of cracks.  The replacement can not happen till February.

Then I got my first flat tire.  Flat as a pancake. The tire had two matching wounds on the tire wall, big holes that had given way to the pressure and left the wheel a flapping, deflated mess.  I spent a day watching YouTube videos about how to get the spare tire and jack out of my Honda.  How to use a jack.   I spent an afternoon in freezing temps kneeling in the slush of my driveway trying to get those stubborn lug nuts to budge.  I spent dinnertime in a discount tire with three hungry, tired children.


During this time of domestic madness,  I let my stay-at-home mom status rule supreme and tried to quiet the constant tagalong nagging of my writer’s shadow jabbing at me.  I made cookies and gingerbread houses, bought toys and made picture calendars and did laundry and felt absorbed by the tasks at hand.  I gave myself permission to set it down…this need to write, this pull to create, this desire for a career.  While wrapping a mound of presents, ordering Christmas cards, and tearing the house apart to find the hidden gifts I had squirreled away  I thought about how I could just do THIS.  I convinced myself that I should just carry on as a stay at home mom.  No need to add more to my plate.  I enjoy baking cookies and making chili and watching soccer.  Nothing else in necessary.


But now it’s January 10th.  The festivities are over.  The kids are at school.  I can hear the clock on my wall counting the passing seconds.  Tick.  Tick.  Tick.


I have been staring at this blank screen for days.  For weeks, there has been a constant, nagging tap on my shoulder.  “Fix it.  Go back.  Restart,” the manic little creative monster on my shoulder whispers.


Why has this month been full of pops and tears and severs and deflation?

 Why have I allowed myself to totally disengage from my dream?  Am I defeated?  Whatever tenuous hold I had on my dreams broke inside of me…the past few months have proven to be too much strain.




It’s haunting me…


Rick asked me, point-blank, the other night as we brushed our teeth in our tiny bathroom.      “What is the real reason you aren’t writing?”

I fled the bathroom and began straightening the bed sheets before climbing in.  He may as well be holding me by the throat.  But the answer floated to the surface without a lot of digging.

 “Self doubt.”      It came out louder than expected.

 I snapped off the light after he got settled into bed.

 “Fear.  It’s always fear,”  I whispered into the darkness.


And that is the truth.  I feel my heartbeat against my vocal chords as I bare this awful truth.  I am terrified.  Not of failing.  I can write something.  And at least six of my closest family members and friends will read it.  I can write the book that is literally eating me alive from the inside out.


And when I do, it will be.


But then what?


The fear surrounding that question…whether I can survive the rejection that comes with daring to reach for my dreams….that fear is paralyzing.

 The only thing that got my fingers moving on the keys today,  is the belief that everyone feels this way.   I am not alone in my fear.  Fear is not a monster to be conquered.  I can not get rid of the fear.  This is not war.  I can not beat it down or fight it off or make it submit.  I can not hide from it or hold really, really still and hope it doesn’t see me.  Fear is simply the absence of light. I found myself in the darkness, and it is normal to freak out.  To run and thrash and panic…a good way to draw blood in total darkness.  I got hurt, so I curled up in a ball and did not move.  But only in calm stillness can I spot a tiny spark of light to nurture.   I can only breathe in and out,  in and out and know that fear is allowed to be.   That every person who has ever dared to reach for something, work for something, create something, free themselves from something, has had to breathe through the same fear.  In and out, in and out.  The pop…the snap, the severance, comes from the strain of fighting it.  Fear of rejection, self-doubt over came me.  It happened.




I ordered new dinner plates.  I removed the vandalized lights and replaced them with new ones.  I learned how to change a flat tire. I will replace my cell phone.   Rick’s surgeon carefully stitched his achilles tendon back together, and bound his leg in a cast to let it heal.  And I will begin again.   Breathing in, breathing out, letting the fear be there.   My new mantra helps me begin to move once again.

Only through the deepest Fear will I find the deepest Joy.

Discovering Christmas After Leaving my Faith


Ringing through the sky shepard boy
Do you hear what I hear
A song, a song
High above the tree
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea


December 3, 2013

I was born and raised a 5th generation mormon.   My ancestors gave their lives to the faith, crossed the plains pushing hand carts to seek religious freedom, and wrapped their posterity tightly in mormonlore, tradition and fierce faith.  Mormonism is a form of christianity… they worship Christ, and celebrate his birth.  We celebrated with Santa and the reindeer, but gave much weight into Jesus Christ being the Lord, Savior and King.

I remember one year when I was about 15, I innocently asked my close friend why they celebrated Christmas when it was a christian holiday to mark the birth of Jesus Christ, and she was not christian.  She was unable to answer my question, only stammered a bit and I backed off, sensing her discomfort.  This memory bubbles up for me every single year because eight years ago,  my husband and I scooped up our young girls when they were still babies in diapers and walked out of our mormon life.

I have often used the word “uprooted” to help verbalize the action of leaving our faith… and I often still feel the effects of our drastic decision in my every day life.


On sunday, Rick and I drove our girls out to a Christmas tree farm in an adorable neighboring New England town.  We rolled down the window and they gave us a sharp saw and some twine, we drove up to a space in the dirt parking lot, and traipsed into the lot among the Frasier firs and Blue Spruce, picked one out, and cut it down.  An hour later it was sitting in water in our living room.

Not uprooted.

Cut down.

Sometimes, leaving your faith feels like that.

Because the truth is, my roots grew in mormon soil.  They were nurtured by loving stories of a newborn babe who eventually suffered immeasurable pain for me.  My roots tangled themselves around the belief that I must conform tightly to a long list of do’s and be’s in order to find happiness and eternal life…in order to feel Spirit and experience Joy.  I ate a lot of ice cream, green jello, dixie salad, funeral potatoes.  I sang a lot of “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” and “Follow the Prophet” and “Praise to the Man” and “I am a Child of God.”

I am not sure it is possible to uproot yourself and replant in new ground.  The roots belong wrapped around my ancestors.  It has been a deep and complex struggle to figure out what this means for me.  How I define myself. When we walked out of our mormon faith, I felt as if I stopped existing altogether.  And then, after the shock wore off and I realized it was not a death, but an awakening that left me feeling like an alien in my own body.  It is hard work, to sort out that kind of disorientation.


Eight years later, I am beginning to understand.  I no longer need to feel cut down,  separated from my roots. Alienated.  I am beginning to see the more beautiful parts of the culture I came from once again, but this time, with my eyes wide open.  I can appreciate how I grew into a compassionate, strong, intelligent, curious, open and sensitive adult… It is no longer necessary to frantically search out the mormon pieces of me to be thrown away.

The Christmas seasons have been the hardest, as the “true” meaning of Christmas, the bible story, seemed like an untrustworthy lie.  A scam.  I struggled to find meaning in the celebration without getting sucked into commercialism.  I have been fighting  to answer my own haunting question I asked more than 20 Christmas’s ago.

Why do you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ when you are not a Christian?

The answers, swirling within me, are finally settling.  And I know.

Because Christ does not need to be historical fact.  He can be an idea.  A representation of the most powerful source there is.  LOVE.   And I can get behind LOVE, and see all the beauty that springs from it…Joy, Peace, Light, Happiness, Gratitude, Compassion, Grace, Understanding, Mercy…   I do not need to invest my life into anything other than those ideals.  I can find those things in the brilliance of a star, the excitement shining in my little girls’ eyes, the sight of their snowman melting on the lawn.  I can immerse myself in my favorite holiday music, bake the best damn Christmas cookies you ever tasted, drink champagne while turning our home into a place of magic once a year, and let nostalgia take me into my past and feel rooted once again.  Christmas is a practice.  A purposeful rising up, once each year, to get carried away in love.

This Christmas, I can finally honor the roots I grew from, but I can reach for my own sky.

And watch my children do the same.

….Written to participate in the holiday writing advent at


Doorbell Ditch Christmas

On the first day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
12 Drummers Drumming
11 Pipers Piping
10 Lords a Leaping
9 Ladies Dancing
8 Maids a Milking
7 Swans a Swimming
6 Geese a Laying
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree







-A participation in

December 2, 2013

Doorbell ditching friends and the subsequent giggling dash… through crunchy snow banks, slipping on icy streets and hiding gleefully in bushes are some of my favorite holiday memories.  Each year since I was about 9 years old my family has participated in the “12 Days of Christmas.”  We select a family or person to target, buy 12 days of gifts leading up to Christmas eve, and write little poems to go with the gifts…. and then doorbell ditch them for 12 days in a row, leaving our little surprises.  On the 12th day, we stay and sing a christmas carol, usually a terrible, off-key rendition of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas!”

I carried on this tradition as an adult for the first time by sending a large package to Elder Poulin while he was serving a mormon mission in California in 2000.  I wrapped the 12 gifts into separate bundles and nestled them all into one big box, with strict instructions to begin the fun on December 13… the 1st day of Christmas.

The following Christmas, we executed our own 12 days of Christmas together, just two weeks before we were married.

It’s a work-filled, demanding tradition.  And I love it.  Participating as a child taught me that giving a gift is much, much more fun than receiving one, and it was my favorite part of the Christmas season.  Each year, as I am scrubbing those Thanksgiving dishes, my mind is already leaping towards getting the preparation done so we can execute a smooth 12 days of Christmas with the kids.  Sometimes, I will admit, those thoughts are mixed with the dread and anxiety that can come from being maxed out on stuff to do and buy in the coming weeks.  There have been some years where I was not sure I could handle the added chaos to our busy lives.  And last year… was the first year we missed.  (See Packaging Holiday Melancholy).  I was not capable of pulling myself from the mire and creating the memory for my family last year.  And my girls noticed.  They asked about it, and they were notably disappointed when I had informed them that we would be skipping 2012.  The hole it left in our Christmas celebration is glaring when I think back to last year.

Last week, Lydia asked about it again…she wanted to make sure we were planning on doing it this year.  And we are.  I am.  The relationships we have forged, the memories we have shared, and the lesson in service and giving are the best part of Christmas…and this time, if it gets to be too much…something else will have to give instead.

Surely, it’s why that silly Elf on the Shelf Ivan hasn’t found his way back to our house yet.


Below I will tack on a story I wrote to read to kiddos at the start of the season, as a fun way to begin the preparation for the 12 days of Christmas.  It  includes a shopping list and poems to attach, in case anyone out there in blogland wants another tradition to tack to the list.

Happy doorbell ditching and secret giving!


Fitch and the Twelve Days of Christmas Doorbell Ditch

Long ago in a far away land (some stories must still start this way)
There was a town filled with droopy people who slumped and ached away the day.          This land was filled with grey…with sadness, bitterness and sorrow,                                   To feel Christmas cheer in this town would be harder than climbing Kilimanjaro.

Santa sat fretting in the North Pole, surrounded by his elves,
Soon Santa realized he would need to help these sad people help themselves!              Santa knew the people had lost their Christmas joy and cheer,
He must call on the Christmas Sprites to rescue the season this year!

Christmas sprites are angels in waiting, helping spread true Christmas meaning,               The sprites are assigned to rescue places in need of Spirit intervening!
They flit and float to a home that needs to light the fire of Christmas spirit lost,               Sprites arrive with a jolly assignment that will help Santa melt the frost.

When the assignment is carried out by the people, the Sprite has completed the task,
Then Santa will turn the Sprite into an angel, the greatest gift for which a Sprite could ask. And in this particular long ago year, a special sprite named Fitch was sent,
Right into the home of the Alakazoo’s,  a cottage the size of a tiny tent.

The Alakazoo’s had decided they would not be celebrating Christmas this season,          They had been working, fighting, and trying to stay afloat for so many reasons.                  Fitch flew in with Santa’s assignment with hope and confidence in his heart,
He knew that if the Alakazoo’s would listen, uplifting joy would soon impart.

Meanwhile, all over town the Sprites had been sent out into the sad night,                          They hoped to help this droopy town rediscover love and forget their plight.                        The Twelve Days of Christmas was Santa’s answer to spreading Christmas joy,                  This attitude of Christmas Spirit must be found before he can deliver his toys.

The Alakazoo’s were startled to find Fitch in their home this night in December,
He was unmoving, as all Santa’s helpers must be… you must remember.
Attached to Fitch was The Twelve Days of Christmas Doorbell Ditch, sent from the North Pole,                                                                                                                                    Their Christmas sprite watched as they read the message that would open their gloomy souls.


Dear Mr. and Mrs. Alakazoo, the letter politely began,
It has come to my attention that you are living in a rather sullen land.                                        There is only one way to help find your Christmas joy once more,                                          That is to bring love and hope to someone behind a different door.

The magic these twelve days will bring to you is something you must see to believe,
Santa is asking you to put to the test…it’s better to give than to receive.
The task is called The Twelve Days of Christmas Doorbell’s sneaky, and jolly fun! You will need to deliver certain gifts, hide quietly, and then RUN!

Choose someone special and make sure they don’t live too far away,                                  Such as the neighbor who is sad and alone during this holiday.                                     Perhaps a family who just moved in and is looking for a friend,
Or someone who has been sick and is trying so hard to mend.

People all around, even the ones who seem happier than you,
Are desperately seeking their own solace and looking for their joy too.                                                          Once you have chosen your target house to bombard with holiday glee,                                      It is time to check out the list of things that you will need to succeed.

Santa’s Twelve Days of Christmas Shopping List

1 candle
2 ornaments
3 rolls of tape
4 packs of gum
5 oranges
6 pack of root beer
7 rolls of toilet paper
8 pack of batteries
9 candy canes
10 baggies full of Hershey Kisses (a lot or a little)
11 Christmas cookies or treats, homemade or purchased
12 A copy of these Christmas tags, shopping list in a pouch or kit

Now every night beginning on the 13th of December,
You will wrap up these small gifts and label them with the poem so you remember!            Sneak up in the dark, set the gift at the door, knock and then run away fast!
The joy of Christmas will set your heart pumping and sorrow will be in your past.


The person or family you choose to receive your 12 days of Christmas doorbell ditch,
Will wonder who it could possibly be, and their lives it will surely enrich.
Beware of icy patches, nosy neighbors and yappy dogs that can impede a speedy skedaddle!                                                                                                                           And watch for the families who’ll be determined to catch you…that can be quite a battle!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, you will have to then decide,
Will you come out and sing them a jolly carol or continue to run and hide?
Sometimes it’s fun to leave them wondering, and sometimes it’s merry to end with song, Love will twinkle in their eyes when you tell them it was you all along!

Your Christmas Sprite will be watching you as you deliver your gifts and have a blast,          For if you fulfill your assignment, the sprite will be your Christmas Angel at last!                        The Sprite’s assignment to deliver a way to be an angel on your own,                                                        Is the very best way to ensure that a spirit of love can be found at home.

Your sprite will report to Santa how you helped spread real love and cheer,
And if you do this assignment as a tradition each and every year…
And all the people you give the 12 days of christmas doorbell ditch begin to do it too…         The land where you live will fill with Christmas service and love…it all begins with you.

Here is the list of poems for which you must cut up and to each gift affix,
Now, go out with your list, gather your wits and prepare for these hilarious tricks!
Wrap the gift for each of the days and make sure the poem is easy to see,
Be safe, have fun, get silly and sneaky, and may these twelve days be filled with holiday glee!

With Jolly Good Cheer, Santa Claus and the Sprites

Mr. and Mrs. Alakazoo paused for a breath and looked each other in the eye,                  For Santa and Fitch they must do this even though they were barely getting by.                 Little did they know that in households across their land that night,                                   Other families were also reading the letters left by their own Christmas Sprite.

Mr. Alakazoo patted Fitch lightly, new excitement bubbling in his chest,
Mrs. Alakazoo skittered with a girlish twitter in her step.
They set about to fulfill this new and crazy Christmas assignment,
And without even trying, they felt their spirits lifted from the former gloomy confinement.


On the first day Christmas, one candle to burn bright…                                                    Was left at your door step to light up the night.

On the second day of Christmas, two ornaments for the tree Go ahead and hang them up for everyone to see!

On the third day of Christmas, three rolls of tape appeared… Everyone seems to be running short this time of year!

On the fourth day of Christmas, four packs of gum will be at the door… Chewing something tasty really brightens up holiday chores!

On the fifth day of Christmas, five oranges sat shiny and sweet, Gotta eat those veggies and fruit in between those holiday treats!

On the sixth day of Christmas, a six pack of delicious root beer… Something with a little fizz will keep you in good cheer!

On the seventh day of Christmas, seven rolls of toilet paper seems a bit crazy, This busy season certainly can make the essentials list seem hazy!

On the eighth day of Christmas, eight batteries you may soon need, Getting stuck without them can be a real bummer indeed!

On the ninth day of Christmas, nine candy canes are a classic Christmas treat, Of all the fancy flavors out there, peppermint can’t be beat.

On the tenth day of Christmas, ten packs of chocolate Kisses to give to ten people you know, Sending a little sweetness away is always the best way to go.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, a dozen cookies seemed like fun… But much to our surprise, (oops!) somebody already ate one!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Santa’s big night is finally here…
You’ll get a 12 Days of Christmas Doorbell Ditch tradition to pass along next year!

Fitch became the Alakazoo’s angel that transformative year,
And the people in the town began to rediscover their holiday cheer.
The twelve days of christmas doorbell ditch over the years spread both far and wide, Helping Santa and the sprites teach people that happiness begins inside.

And now, after a great many years of Christmas’s have past,
A sprite has come to your home seeking your help at last!
It is your turn as a family to begin the tradition delivering the 12 days of poems,                   Seek out a family who needs a boost and watch as love grows in your own home.

Give your sprite a special name to honor your new tradition,
Know that your sprite is rooting for you to finish this holiday mission!
And when you have completed the first year of the Twelve Days of Christmas countdown, Your sprite will forever be your Christmas angel to help spread joy throughout your town!

Packaging Holiday Melancholy

December 1, 2013

It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace….

-Joni Mitchell,  The River

I am going to participate in Melissa’s writing advent challenge, over at  I am feeling a bit daunted by the upcoming holidays, my to do list, my writing goals, and the stories that flood me this time of year.  It seems like a perfect way to at least get something down every day.   I stumbled upon her lovely blog this morning, and was taken by her beautiful trees in the header, and the gorgeous little bird picture posted for today’s writing prompt.

She asks,

What images, ideas, and sensations come to mind when you turn the calendar page over to the 1st of December?


This afternoon was grey and waning, I stood out on our mostly dead lawn and watched my husband climb up a ladder planted on the spongy ground, reaching for the gutters to clip our Christmas lights in. I was “supervising” by occasionally holding the cord. Rick reached up and grabbed a handful of mucky leaves clogging our gutters and began tossing handfuls to the ground we labored to rake clean just a week before. I sipped my beer, noticed his nice ass, and felt mildly irritated as the leaves began to litter our bushes and small front stoop. Today, on the first day of December, performing this chore of the season, I found myself recalling a day in late December last year. In a surge of resentment and deflated pawing for holiday cheer, in the hour before picking up my children at school, I fought to untangle the cords and nailed the string of lights to our new 1929 english Tudor. I had silently wept as I worked to surprise my girls, wiping the tears away on the sleeve of my coat. The throbbing cold in my fingers made my own despondency more acute.  Last year I had wondered if the swell of Christmas mania would succeed in swallowing what was left of me altogether.

Today, that memory of my heavy sadness last year swept me up for a fleeting moment. I took a cold breath in, and noticed…I felt unclogged by the passing seasons, the months of healing and unloading and discovering that the past year had delivered. The dead leaves and muck that no longer served me had been scattered by new memories and bold declarations made in 2013. Rick and I finished the last strand of lights by wrapping it tightly up a small pine tree, taking the tangled pile from his left hand, and passing it to his right. We stepped back to admire our work… our home sufficiently festive to create memories that will hold in the minds of our small girls. I slipped my hand into his back pocket when he gave me a soft kiss, and the moment wrapped itself around my melancholy memory, transforming into something beautiful for me to hold.

Einstein: Harnessing Love in Your Hands

“Man’s concept of his world built on the experience of the five senses is no longer adequate and in many cases no longer valid.”

-Shafica Karagulla, M.D.,

a Turkish-born psychiatrist

I am a white witch.  DId I fail to mention this?  True.  I did away with secret temple rituals and went straight into sorcery….


I don’t share this with people.  Because when I tell people that I see and manipulate white light, and it magically puts screaming babies to sleep, their eyes narrow, they nod politely, and take a few unsteady steps back.

I made a major exception to my undercover sorceress policy just over two weeks ago, when a lovely mother began to open up to me on the playground of the elementary school.  She told me she was feeling desperate about her son, who would not go to sleep at night.  He was an anxious and sensitive seven-year old and he was getting up multiple times at night, fearful and tearful.  She was at a loss, and feeling trapped.

So I told her my white witch story.  And she laugh with nervous disbelief, but I could tell she would try it out… something told me that she needed this story.

Her son went to sleep that first night…and every night since then without trouble.   She laughs gleefully when we bump into each other every afternoon as we pick up our kiddos.  She high fives my sorcery as a powerful white witch.

But it’s not voodoo.

It’s science.  It’s quantum physics.  Energy.


When Lydia was about 9 months old, she began screaming all night long, every single night.  She had been an easy sleeper,  a point we clung desperately to, since the day time Lydia was perching herself precariously on every tall piece of furniture, eating vaseline and toothpaste and generally finding ways to defy death at every turn.  At first I thought the night crying was just a growth spurt, but she wouldn’t take more milk.  And I tried everything to get this kid back to sleep.  I bought every sleep book I could get my hands on, I implemented every method with exactness, desperate for rest and bewildered by the sudden change in her sleep.  Or lack of.

And the screaming.  Endless screaming.

I changed her diapers.  I bought a new brand of diapers.  I bought heavier pjs. I cut the feet off her pjs and put on socks. I bought her flannel sheets.   I put a fan in her room for white noise.  I played low, classical music.  I rearranged the furniture in her bedroom.  I hung a mirror in her room.  I tried different night lights.  I left the lights on.  I taped black paper to her window, and bought black out curtains to block the moonlight.

I read a story about a lovely mom who examined her screaming baby only to find a long hair wrapped tightly around a purple, throbbing toe.  This story tortured me.  I stripped her down, looking for a rash, a bite mark, a bruise, a purple toe.

I took her to the doctor, and they stubbornly refused to give me baby tranquilizers or sleeping pills and insisted that Lydia was healthy and thriving.  No cause for medical alarm.

Except that I was going apeshit crazy.   I have never experienced that level of sleep deprivation.  Even with two babies, just 15 months apart.    I thought about sleep every single minute of the day.  Like a dying man crawling in the desert for the mirage of a deep, blue pool, I crawled into my bed every night, and it began again.

The only thing that would make her stop was to sit upright in a chair and hold her while she slept. In fact, she would pass out into a deep slumber, punctuated only by her shuddering hiccoughs, within 60 seconds of being in my arms. Even submerged into dreamland,  if I tried to put her down she would wake and scream, clawing at my chest. After four months of this endless struggle, half dozing in a chair as she slept  and my arms throbbed painfully, I realized with sudden clarity, what it was.  The answer seemed to actually hang, fully formed, in the dark of her small bedroom.


She was terrified.

The fear, once I recognized it and gave it a name, seemed as tangible as a snarling tiger in her crib with her.  As menacing as a fire, creeping up the curtains.

WHY?    Understanding it was fear did not help me solve our problem.  It became more distressing to realize that my baby was traumatized each night by agonizing terror.  And what could she possibly be afraid of?

Her life was filled with Cheerios, Barney, twirly skirts and my constant loving presence.

Why is it that so many of my life’s lessons come only after I have a complete mental breakdown?


I had one.

A breakdown.  Hysteria.

My brother was visiting.  Rick and I had gotten through bath and bed time with ease and Rick had left for the library to study.  Gard and I had just settled into our tiny living room for a relaxing chat when Lydia’s screams began.  Several hours earlier than usual.

I freaked.

The frustration and severe sleep deprivation and paralyzing failure took me down to my knees.  My brother let me rant and my building hysteria matched Lydia’s upstairs.  And then he handed me a box of tissues and told me to sit down.  He told me take a few deep, calming breaths with him.  Then he held his hands out, almost touching each other…. and taught me to feel energy.  This may seem far-fetched,    it certainly seemed crazy at the time.

He told me to sit with my hands close together, and feel the heat there… energy.  He told me to imagine that energy as a white light, gathering in my hands.  I used my hands to “press”  this warmth, this “white light,”  this energy in my hands.  And slowly we moved our hands further apart, concentrating on building the energy in our hands into a big, warm, ball of light.  He told me to gather all of my love for Lydia, all of my fierce feelings of love and protection, and put it into this huge ball of light.  My hands began to prickle and tingle, the heat in my hands was tangibly growing, even as I moved them further apart. We sat side by side  on my brown sofa at the foot of the stairs, eyes closed in meditation, our hands open to “hold” our energy spheres.


Upstairs, Lydia was choking on her sobs, she sounded like she would vomit soon.

Then he told me to visualize Lydia, screaming in her crib.  I was to visualize myself walking over to the crib with a my ball of white light, and place it over her head, letting that light wash over her.  He would do the same with his energy.

I felt crazy.

But I felt shredded by her cries.

I did it.

She stopped crying within ten seconds of “giving” her our light.

Tears of relief and disbelief dripped off my chin.  I hugged my brother in gratitude for the moment of peace for both Lydia and I.

He left with the instruction to do that every time she woke.

I got pretty damn good at feeling energy with my hands, and gathering a large amount of it for Lydia quickly.  Every night it worked, I felt shocked that it worked again.  And within two weeks of energy meditation, Lydia was back to  sleeping through the night, and the crying stopped.

Lydia, now eight, still asks me for light when she is upset or scared or is having trouble sleeping.  It has never failed to help calm and soothe her.  I am teaching her that she can gather this light herself, but there is nothing like a mother’s love.

It seems like life is handing me some pretty concrete experiences before I read about it in this E squared book…the timing is pretty amazing.

Because after counting 3 orange cars the first day, and 4 purple hats the second day, in my  VW Jetta experiment, I read experiment #3.   Pam Grout’s words are in red.

Lab Report Sheet 

The Principle:  The Alby Einstein Principle


The Theory:  You are a field of energy in an even larger field of energy.


The Question:  Could it be true that I could be made up of energy?


The Hypothesis:  If I am energy, I can direct my energy.

The rest of the experiment is laid out to help you see how you can direct energy using a simple device made of a coat hanger.  But I absolutely know that this is true, and was provided a great way to see this work for someone else, even before I read the chapter in this book.


If you still think I am a witch, you are missing out on a pretty handy, powerful tool in your tool box.  If you want to give it a go, but need some direction, go get this book and follow her experiment, The Alby Einstein Experiment.

After all, I’m gonna need some sorcery, and a more than a little white magic to get these sweet girls to adulthood…

Don’t we all?



I felt high after my last post.

It actually worked, this E-Squared business, and I couldn’t wait to try the next experiment.  I spent a day just BE-ing and it felt amazing.  I was ready to call up a tattoo shop and get’er done.  I felt more present and open.  I felt free from the long list of things that I had felt splitting me apart… the to-do list still existed, but I had really only one assignment.

Be.  In each moment.

I was like Maria in the Sound of Music.  Heart full, skipping down a path with my guitar in one hand and carpet bag in the other, singing with gusto…


I have confidence in sunshine!
I have confidence in rain!
I have confidence that spring will come again!
Besides which you see I have confidence in me!

Strength doesn’t lie in numbers!
Strength doesn’t lie in wealth!
Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumbers!
When you wake up — Wake Up!

Butterflies fluttered and birds sang.  I was super happy, people.

I quickly ate up the next chapter or Pam Grout’s book, E-squared…. ready for my next experiment!

And that is when I was clotheslined.  Hardcore TKO.  Maria, sprawled in the dirt unconscious.    I don’t remember that part of the movie, but that is what happened.  Yeow.  Just typing the words, my heart beats painfully in my deeply bruised chest.

So the last few days I have had to regain consciousness, and access the injuries.   When life clotheslines you, it is natural to ask, why?  I didn’t have the words at first.  But yesterday, and today, the why has come.

“WHY!!!!??????”  (Shakes fist at the sky)

I forgot about E-Squared.  I forgot about almost everything but the hurt.  Just Be.  In the hurt.  It has taken all of me to not curl into a ball and turn this hurt into a hard nugget of anger, a stone that I would carry with me forever.  That was my old pattern.  And I am trying so hard to stop that.  But what do I do with this hurt?  How do we deal with grief?

I found this on my Facebook page, posted by Cheryl Richardson on Sunday.

“Today I invite grief in. I welcome its teachings, its benevolence, and its ability to connect me with my vulnerable, tender heart.  After all, that tenderness is important. It’s the aliveness we all secretly long for every single day of our lives…”

Then, I decided to listen to a good, uplifting radio show.  Something to boost me up, hold me a tiny bit higher than the lowest vibration.  A caller called in with a question for the guest doctor on the show that could have come right out of my own mouth.  About being clotheslined.  About my hurt.  The answer was so uncanny, so exactly what I needed to hear that my husband, who walked into the kitchen as the host was giving the answer turned to me and asked if I manifested this radio program.

Huh…. did I?

We went to meet an incredibly inspiring woman, Colleen Alexander, and her husband on Sunday.  It was the first time we have met, and she brought me a book…an unexpected gift… Your True Home by Thich Nhat Hanh.  I was touched by her story and bravery and sensitivity.  I tucked it in my bag after we said our goodbyes.

Last night, Lydia woke with a terrible nightmare.  She was out of sorts this morning, being sassy and angry, over reacting, and was in tears by the time she got into the car to go to school.  I tried wrapping her in love as I pulled up to the curb, sending it back to her from the drivers seat.  But  she jumped out of the car and slammed the door, and took a few angry steps to walk away, looking dark and sad.  And then she ran to me, and I opened the car door and pulled her to my lap and held her.  I suddenly asked her about her nightmare.  It felt relevant in this moment.  She said she dreamt that someone took me… stole me. Her fear was real and still present in her eyes.  I hugged it away, reassured her that I would kick anyone’s butt that tried to take me away.  I pulled away from her, and said it again, but this time I gave her a delicious pebble of emphasis… “I would kick their ASSES Lydia.”  She smiled then, and went to school.  Lydia has always been the mirror, reflecting me…

Then it was off to work, and I exchanged a smile with the kind cashier as she expressed concern for me, saying I didn’t seem like myself.  Am I really this transparent?  So I sat with my coffee and the book Colleen gave me and asked the FP  (the field of infinite possibilities) to give me a healing message from the book to help me.  I opened it, and this is what it said:


Come Back To Yourself

“Most people are afraid to come back to themselves, because that means having to face the pain inside of them.  With the practice of mindfulness, the situation changes.  We come back to our pain, but now we are well equipped with the energy of mindfulness that has been generated by mindful  breathing and by meditation.  We use that source of energy to recognize and embrace our pain.”

Ok.  So I was clotheslined.  It happened.  And then I brought a whole slew of healing messages and moments into my life to help me hold the hurt.  I am going to choose differently than I have before, when feeling broken by something in my life.  I think I am realizing how powerful we all are.  In the sense that I called in these healing moments, I also called in the branch that knocked me out…left my inner Maria reeling from a lesson that needed to play out.  But, oh LORD how it can hurt, this business of reaching for wholeness.

I just re-read the second experiment in E-Squared.  The Volkswagon Jetta Principle.  This is what it claims:

You Impact the Field and Draw from It According to Your Beliefs and Expectations

I read this for the first time last thursday,  just an hour before I hit that branch.  And reading it now, it is funny how the incident, the pain, the clothesline… it demonstrates this principle in the most absolute possible terms.  It exposed to me in no uncertain terms how powerful we are…when we are looking for messages of love and support and healing, they come.  When we are looking for messages to confirm our deepest fears and insecurities, betrayal and rejection… they come too.  And our intention can not direct what others are manifesting in their own lives.

Because of the seriousness of the injury and the obvious way I feel this principle was shown to me, the actual experiment seems funny.  But I will participate in it, if only to give me more time to breathe and come back to myself.

If you missed the first experiment, The Dude Abides, you can see the set up here and the results here.

So here it is, the Lab Report Sheet.  Once again, for clarification, the words in red come from Pam Grout’s book, E-Squared.  The words  in black, are mine.



The Principle:  The Volkswagon Jetta Principle


The Theory:  You impact the field and draw from it according to your beliefs and expectations. 

The Question:  Do I really see only what I expect to see?


The Hypothesis:  If I decide to look for sunset beige cars and butterflies, I will find them.  


Time Required:  48 hours


Today’s Date:  Tuesday, November 12, 2013          Time:  10:25 am


The Approach: According to this crazy Pam Grout girl, the world out there reflects what I want to see.  She says that it’s nothing but my own illusions that keep me from experiencing peace, joy and love.  So even though I suspect she’s cracked, today I’m going to look for orange cars.  Tomorrow, I will look for purple hats.

       a.  Number of orange cars observed _________

       b.  Number of purple hats observed _________

Here we go.  Breathe.  Be.  And play seek and find.

“You will not break loose until you realize that you yourself forge the chains that bind you.”

                      -Arten in The Disappearance of the Universe, by Gary Renard

BE My Tattoo


I am 35 years old, and I need a tattoo.  I have been considering this desire for quite a few years.  When Rick and I walked out of our mormon faith, it was incredibly disorienting.  Like Dorothy, stepping out of a black and white world in Kansas and into full Technicolor, in a world where experiences and possibilities that I had labeled as impossible or evil now lay at my feet.  The list of forbidden fruit is long and deep in the world of a devout mormon.  There is a primary list of things you can not do if you want to  be able to participate in the temple, which is a must-do to earn eternal glory and salvation.

Then there is a secondary list of rules. These rules are driven by cultural expectations and are taught from the authorities, but without concrete consequences to fear.  You need only worry about the disappointment of Heavenly Father, chastisement of your peers, and the step that will lead you down the path to outer darkness.


No big.

Tattoos are a big NO-NO in conservative mormon-land.  For the last few years I have been pinning tattoos on Pinterest, and giving serious thought to getting a tattoo…but I knew I would have to be certain I would want it.  Take my time.  Make it meaningful.

One week ago, my brother and I were discussing tattoos.  He already has a few and we were talking about his plans for more.  I told him that I had recently decided on my tattoo…and it was only a matter of making an appointment.

I wanted the word BE tattooed on my hand.  Something small and discreet, but visible to me.

I want it as a reminder to stay present and centered.  To ground myself when I am feeling weak and ungrounded. Lately, I have been feeling very scattered and disconnected.  Like a piece of taffy, being pulled in ten different directions at once.  It’s messy when I allow myself to scatter…the core of my being begins to disintegrate and disappear like that pulled taffy when I allow my energy to splinter off in a million directions.  And it can be very challenging to pull it all back in.  It’s during these times that I begin to feel frantic and panicky, anxious… and then experience a strong sense of failure.  Because without being grounded, I am not effective.

I need to pull myself together again.  Be whole.

On monday, I used Pam Grout’s book E-squared to ask for a clear, unmistakable gift or sign in my life within 48 hours.  This sign would be the first confirmation that I have access to infinite possibilities, and the ability to create my own reality.

It worked.

Monday night, a friend called.  This is a woman I have become friends with this year… I feel very drawn to her, very connected.  She pops into my mind throughout my everyday life, many times during the week.  When we speak or get together, I feel like I understand this woman, in ways that are not so common… it’s an unusual connection.  The thing is, she is nearly impossible to get a hold of.  She is very busy and not great at responding to communication like texts, emails, phone calls.

We all have people in our life like this, right?

Normally, especially in a newer friendship, I would cut ties with someone who is sending a clear message that they are not interested in connecting.  But this friend is an exception for me.  I simply know that it is not personal, and I am meant to reach out to her, to know her.  So I do.  I text her, or leave a message, or send her a little light and love with intention when she comes into my mind.

She called me on monday, and we talked for a couple of hours about what was going on in her life.  I must mention here that this woman is incredibly gifted.  She has been given some highly developed gifts in this life. I have never known someone personally with these finely tuned gifts…it is amazing.   She is psychic, and sensitive to a world that most do not understand or see.  At the end of our long conversation she thanked me for talking things out with her, and then offered up a little prayer of thanks for our friendship.

And then she told me, as she does every once in a while when we talk, that I have a lot of angels and guides that are with me.  When she gives me this kind of information, I imagine myself opening up, literally cracking open and allowing my mind and heart to expand to new possibilities. Because when someone starts talking about things that are unfamiliar, it is human nature to harden and shut down, instead of invite in the mystery.  I was silently doing this kind of visualization as she tried to articulate the message that my angels were sending me.  I was also pulling wet laundry from my washing machine and cramming it into the dryer… aware of how strangely congruous it felt to be doing such a benign task as she gave me this information.

I wondered if this experience could possibly be the E-equared sign I was looking for… it was certainly a gift to be talking to this lovely friend.

And then she said, “you know, your guides just keep showing me a word.  Just a simple word.  They are telling me that it is the answer that you are seeking right now.  I see this word… Be.  B-E.  Just be.  Does this make sense to you?”


I’m thinking it does.

I have been able to gather up the stringy mess I had become, and bring it back to center.  I feel more grounded.  It’s the first assignment.  Always, the first part.


Gather yourself up.  Stop multitasking, splintering your SELF into pieces, leaving your energy scattered and your core weak.  There are things to do.  But they will do YOU if you do not stay whole.

Now, to find a good tattoo shop.