Monday, August 31, 2009

In Between Posts...

To see posts between Feb 10 09 and Sept 1 09, please click here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Coffee Shops, Pastis and Hookahs

I sit in my favorite coffee shop this morning, ready to start my week. My laptop is whirring happy sounds, my dog is laying at my feet (I told you this was an awesome place), her body content from the long walk we just shared and Johnny just brought me a luscious piece of “quintuple chocolate cake” that Trish has created and which he wants me to try. It is not yet 8:30 and the world is good.

As the minutes pass, I am juggling a few quiet phone calls with the school district, tying loose ends in the name of “three kids going back to school - two of them to new schools”, I am responding to emails from clients, arranging for our bathtub to get repaired, making sure my best friend receives some information she needs, and scheduling a week’s worth of coaching calls.

In the background, I hear a very distinctive sound.

It feeds me in a way I do not yet fully understand.

It is the sound of “men in coffee shop, in the morning.”

To my left is a group of men, in their 50s I would guess, sitting around and ... being.

The same scene is taking place on the other side of town, in another very lovely coffee shop.

The same scene will take place today, around the town square in many villages in the south of France. There, they will probably drink Pastis.

In the high mountains of Pakistan, too. Possibly around a hookah.

All over the world, men gather.

And basically, shoot the s**t.

And this morning - with the help of Trish’s chocolate cake - I am understanding it better. I am connecting with its timelessness, with its rightness.

Men gather and shoot the s**t in a way that we don’t.

We don’t because, well, we are too busy making the world go round.

And I don’t mean this is a feminist, angry, “poor us” sort of way.

I mean this is a privileged, honored and very aware sort of way.

We get up in the morning and before our teeth are brushed, we have a list of things that need to take place just so things may function. Just so the machine may run.

And while we go through our day, we keep track of many different pieces of the puzzle. We juggle.

Kids, parents, pets, homes, work ... all the colorful threads of the tapestries we weave.

The tapestries we are lucky to weave.

And yes, it is a lot. But we can do it and we do do it. And the beautiful thing is that, if we let ourselves learn some skills and use some tools, we can do it (mostly) away from stress.

Which allows me to sit on a coffee shop on a Monday morning, doing my sweet juggling and feeling at peace with hearing four men talk about their tools.

Men who most likely have jobs. Jobs which bring in money. Money which often allows us to collect the beautiful colorful threads we need to do our weaving - and our juggling.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dumping Your Cake - and Eating it Too

My son is 15 years old today.

He and a couple of friends spent the night on our trampoline, last night and some time this afternoon, I will stop by the skate park (his second home) to surprise him with a chocolate cake covered with sprinkles.

As I was frosting it last night, I was reminded of another cake I had made for him, nine years ago.

His dad and I had just separated and everything felt heavy.

Plants were dying left and right, our dog had begun to limp a little bit and Marco had broken his arm.

I felt as though all of it was my fault.

But I made a cake.

And as my three kids and their two best friends waited to see Marco blow his candles, I opened the fridge and pulled that cake out.

And before I could understand what happened, I dropped it on the floor.

Face down.

Time stopped and I could feel twelve eyes on me (two of them belonging to the dog).

As surely as I knew my name, I knew that I had a big decision to make. Quickly.

It felt like one of those YES or NO moments. No room for maybe.

So, desperate to not have any more pain, at least for today, I turned to the kids and said: “All right you guys. No hands allowed. Go for it.”

They looked a little scared at first and then one of them moved. And then, all of them got up. Slowly at first and then madly. And they all got on the floor, hands behind their back and licked the cake off the floor, faces smeared with frosting and giggling their butts off.

And yes, we have a dog. And no, the floor was not spotless.

But they lived. In fact, we all did.

Come to think of it, one of the very same kid was sleeping on the trampoline this morning, for yet another birthday which tells me things can’t be that bad around here after all.

(but please don’t let me drop the cake at the skate park...)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Titi's Tatoo

On impulse (and while driving...) I dial my daughter’s cell phone.

They have been in Florida for almost three weeks now, vacationing with their dad and I am starting to miss them badly.

Her brother picks up and tells me that she can’t come to the phone because ... they are in a tattoo parlor and she is about to get a tattoo.

The cottony quiet that takes over the space between my ears feels weird.

After a few seconds, I hear my voice ask: “where?”

“Oh, at the bottom of her back, right above her butt.”

Cottony quiet again.

I say “Ok, honey, I’ll call back.”

Slowly, I pull over to the side of the road. I know I need to have a talk with myself.

Thank god for coaching, I know how to have those.

So I do.

And I ask myself what is “the essence” of my angst. I can tell that on the upper layers, there is a good dose of control swimming around. I would like to just say NO and be done.

But... she is in Florida. And she is 17. While a NO would most likely do it (possibly after some unpleasant words), it would not serve either one of us well, in the long run.

So I go deeper and I ask myself what it is that I am truly so uncomfortable with.

And then I get to the bottom of it:

While I have never been a fan of tattoos, at this very moment I am most bothered by the fact that she may be getting ink and needles at the bottom of her spine, a place I believe to be energetically sensitive.

I call again and ask to talk with her.

I tell her that I would like her to consider having her tattoo placed somewhere else. I explain why. I tell her my beliefs and make them available for her to examine. And I pray that I have done enough good work, in the last 17 years, to have earned her trust.


Then laughter.

And she says: “Mom! you are so chill!” (what the heck is “chill”?) “I would never get a real tattoo! I am getting a henna tattoo!”

Oh boy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Half Baked Idea

So - can't seem to get that one out of my mind:

I want to fly to Chicago in the fall, bake a couple dozens of those life altering Chocolate Cookies and deliver them to as close to Oprah as I can get (her desk would be great), along with a copy of the "Oprah and the Chocolate Cookies" story.

Costa keeps telling me it's time she reads it and tells the world about my book and dang... he may be right; he often is.

Which means I need a couple of things:

- Any 6th degree of separation magic that could lead me closer to Oprah. We've to be able to do this on Facebook, no?

- Any contact in Chicago where I could stay for a few days and enhance the kitchen with the aroma (and taste) of chocolate cookies.

- Any reminder that this a fabulous idea!

Oh boy.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


He stands by my book-signing table, bright blue eyes and not quite four feet tall as he tells his grandma of all the things he still wants to do at the fair, today.

Before I can stop myself, the life coach in me takes over and I am asking him if he would like a piece paper to write his list down.

To my surprise, he does.

I hand him my very special pink pen.

At the top of the paper, in the center, he writes: LIST.
In caps and underlined.

Next comes a column of four little check boxes, next to the names of four cool things to do.

As he finishes, his grandma reminds him that he had wanted to get an ice cream cone, also.

His eyes light up as he starts drawing his fifth check box.

But then he stops.

He looks up and says: “Oh, no, wait... I can’t. I’ve already had my sugar for the day.”

Conor is eight.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Pain and Joy

As I soaked up the warm joy of sitting in the midst of music, art and happy people doing a little bit both last night, I was very aware that three people I care for (two of which I birthed and would give my life for) were in deep pain, at that very moment.

Three different kinds of pain.

It felt strange to be aware of both the heaviness of the grief and the lightness of the joy living within me.

At first, I felt as though the grief would take over, almost as though it should. And then, it felt as though allowing the joy would not be a betrayal. So I let it.

And it made for a very ... “real” combination.

When a woman showed up and asked quietly if she could sing a capalla and then proceeded to fill the little coffee shop with beautiful, belting sounds of “let the light in”, I let my tears come up, reminded of how much life we can feels when we all joy and pain to cuddle up together.

Life is amazing stuff.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

For The Love of Laundry Lines

I have a passion for laundry lines.

I love the way they tell a story, the real story of real people.

A little bit the same way as walking through an alley, in the back of a home, will tell you a real story, also.

Laundry lines share their information without words, without pretense, without shame.

Laundry lines show you sheets, trusting that most intimate bit of someone’s life to the sun, to the wind, to the eyes of strangers. Sheets where real people, sleep, dream, worry, make love, maybe cry too. Where else would you see your neighbors’ sheets? And even though you don’t “need” to see their sheets, isn’t there something special about doing so?

Laundry lines show you clothes, unadorned, unpopulated and unmatched. Socks, too. And towels.

One day, I am going to create a beautiful book filled with a collection of photographs of laundry lines, photographs I will have taken all over the world. From the bright cloths of South Italy, strung way high above narrow streets, to the super efficient Parisian clothelines, stretched over tiny bathtubs.

Tonight, as I walked around, I was blessed with happy news, straight from my neighbors’ clotheline.

Alex and SaraLou have been expecting her first baby and even though I have only ever exchanged a few words with them, it has been wonderful to see her belly growing at the same rate as her vegetable garden.

In the spring, as she planted her seeds in long straight rows, she barely looked plump. These past few weeks, as she harvested her zucchini, she looked beautifully ripe.

She told me that her baby was due on the 28th. She told me that she had ordered a birthing tub to be brought to the kitchen of their tiny house. I heard in her voice that she was a little nervous when she told me about “having heard a lot of scary stories.” She seemed genuinely relieved when I told her not to listen to scary stories, that she was going to make her very own story.

Over the past couple of days, SaraLou had drifted through my mind and I had wondered if the baby had arrived, if all was okay.

Walking by their home, there had been no sign of anything different.

Until tonight.

Tonight, as I approached Alex and SaraLou’s yard, I saw a tiny bright spot in the middle of their laundry line. Strung in between Alex’s usual mechanic’s jeans was the teensiest, sweetest little green t-shirt.

Just like that.

No words needed.