Monthly Archives: April 2015

In which I cling to a happy memory

Human memory intrigues me.  I’ve read reports of studies and listened to pieces on NPR about memory.  I’m not much for long works of non-fiction, but I do troll websites about memory on a regular basis.

I heard an NPR piece on memory once in which the guest opined that humans often completely fabricate memories.  We tell ourselves — or others tell us — that an event occurred, and we construct images to match the accounts to which we cling.  We cannot recall details and strain to do so, eventually filling in the missing bits and then “remembering” the happening as a whole occurrence, including the details that we previously “could not remember”.  We can no longer distinguish between what we recall and what we’ve added to our recall.

I revisit physical therapy every other year or so, just to remind myself of how to do the exercises that beat back my disability to the point where I can continue walking.  During one such course of therapy, maybe ten years ago, my therapist repeatedly admonished me that I should not be carrying a large shoulder bag.  She chided me during each session. “It will throw off your balance,” she’d predict. “You tire so easily as it is,” she moaned.  I shrugged each time and kept on hoisting the world’s heaviest handbag to and from the affairs of each day.

One afternoon she left me sitting on the table-mat to go and grab my purse from where it rested on a chair with my jacket.  She took it over to a scale and weighed it.  “Good Lord!” she exclaimed.  “This thing weighs ten pounds!”  She came over to me and stood with her hands on her hips.  “Why do you carry that?” she demanded.

I said, simply:  “It’s easier to make one trip with everything than three trips with some things.”  She glared at me.  She seemed to be thinking about my declaration.  Her face softened and she asked, “What do you mean?”  She sat down beside me, dangling her legs over the two-foot high platform on which I did my sessions since I cannot get off the floor without struggling.

I thought a minute, then told her, “Well, I need everything in that bag.  So walking is really challenging.  I fall  a lot.  The potential for falling is not increased as much by carrying something heavy as it is by making multiple trips.  How much I get tired is not increased as much by carrying a heavier purse as it is by walking three times from the car to my office to get everything that I’ll need for the day.”  I stopped talking and studied her to see if she understood.

She seemed to follow me and asked, “Why don’t you get someone else to carry the stuff?”  A fair question.  “Sometimes I can, but sometimes there isn’t anyone to carry it so I have to get it all in, out, up, down.  So I just plan for the eventuality that I won’t have help at either end of  a journey.”  We sat for a few minutes.  She looked at me, then, and said, “So you carry a lot of stuff because the risk of falling carrying a lot of stuff is less than the risk of falling making three trips?”  I nodded.  She looked away, across the room, and then back at me.  Suddenly, she laughed.

I didn’t see the humor and said so.  “Oh, no, that’s not funny,” she assured me.  “What’s funny is that I’m so used to being able-bodied that it never occurred to me that you might have to make such complex decisions about daily ambulation.”  Then she laughed again.  She stopped, looked at me, and then suddenly we were both laughing.  We’d look at each other, get control of ourselves, then burst out howling.  We struggled to regain our composure, to reforge the professional calm between us, but then we’d think about her feeling stupid and my feeling clumsy and we’d start laughing.

The other therapists and their patients started drifting over to find out what caused such amusement.  We tried to tell them, and they just shook their heads.  Eventually, we got a hold of ourselves, and sat, smiling at each other, just smiling.  After a while, we continued with my session for that day.  When I left, she walked me out to the elevator and placed her hand on my arm to say goodbye.  As the elevator door shut, I heard her chuckling to herself.

I clearly remember that day:  I can tell you the color of my pocketbook and where the work-out table was situated in the therapy room.  I know the mat on which we sat was orange and the therapist had short brown hair with big curls.  I remember an older woman watching us from across the room.  I recall the conversation vividly; I can hear our laughter.  I feel the connection.

Is any of that true?  Is none of it?  Did I fabricate some details?  Did she really understand?

I might have created the memory from my own longing to have that moment.  I don’t think so; but I don’t really know.  I’ll take the memory as it is.  Times like that convince me that I can be a person who sees things from the brightest side, and that’s all right with me.


I’m no angel

My mother had a delightful way of expressing dismay.  She arched her lovely, fine eyebrows at the person whose comment or behavior displeased her.  She would tilt her head slightly to the right, not at an adorable angle but a bit tensely, rigidly, holding it thusly poised.  She remained silent while the object of her scorn squirmed, sputtered and slowly disintegrated into a quivering mass of apology.

Mom used this tactic on a variety of misdeeds: The teacher who marked her daughter’s cheek with a ballpoint pen for having poor penmanship; the nun who accused her sons of being Communist because they had long hair; the much-younger doctor  who called her “babe”.  For misbehaving children, the raised eyebrows sufficed:  At the sight of them, we began apologizing like crazy and hastening to undo whatever folly we had undertaken.  We much preferred her kinder, softer face.

Last night, my friend the incomparable Jennifer Helene Rosen and I went to The Legends.  I had never been.  She needed new running shoes and I needed the enjoyable time with a fierce and feisty woman twenty years my junior who nonetheless tolerates my clumsy self.  We got the shoes, then went to T J Maxx.

I found a nice white top to go with a pair of pants that I’d purchased at The Gap, then trudged towards the front of the store.  There, I found a “line” created by about fifty  or sixty feet of shelving with random merchandise.  Its purpose was to corral the crowds — and as one very tired disabled person, I stood looking at the impediment with mild horror. I could not see how to avoid walking more than a hundred feet — down, around, back to the far end again — and so I followed the required route to stand in front of the lone cashier who had not one other customer in front of her.

I asked her, “Did I really have to go that whole distance, just to get to you?”  She looked at me without speaking.  I tried again.  “Could I have come around the front of that shelving, under the rail, and just come directly to you?  I  mean, I’m disabled, walking all that way was difficult and I couldn’t figure out how to get over that barricade.  Do you let disabled people do that and if so, how do we get over that webbed railing?”  She remained mute, looking at me seemingly without comprehension.  Then she gave a little smirk and said, “Do you want to buy that top?”

I debated and then tried again.  I asked her if there was some way that I could have moved the railing which barred direct access to her, due to my being disabled and the long walk being challenging especially after shopping for an hour.  She laughed.  Laughed.  Then she said, “You can only cut ahead if there’s no one in line.”

I felt my mother’s spirit rise within me.  Without conscious effort, my eyebrows rose as I said, “Surely you don’t discriminate against disabled people — surely you accommodate us.”  My head tilted, my voice fell silent, and I felt The Look harden on my face.  A minute passed, then two.  The white top sat on the counter between us.  Finally, I said in a barely audible voice, “There’s only one acceptable answer, ma’am, which is, Of course we do not discriminate, please, let us know what we can do to help you.”

And then the young woman — a girl, really, as Jenny Rosen pointed out later — sputtered, “Well, sure, ma’am, just come straight up next time, I’ll help you move that thing.”  She gestured to the heavy stand with its barring canvas tape which would have been difficult for me to come around, under, or over.  She shrugged and grabbed the item that I was no longer sure I really wanted.  I paid for it nonetheless and moved away, mentioning to her that she ought to ask the manager to put up signage directing disabled persons around the barricade.  She made no reply.  Jenny and I left and navigated back to the car, with me muttering about what the heck did I think I was doing anyway, coming to a gigantic shopping center after a full day of work.  Jenny Rosen took my package and helped me into the car.

We were halfway home before I realized that The Look, which I apparently inherited from my mother, is a form of complaint.  Somehow, I did not care.  For once, I felt my apparent transgression, though wildly ineffective, was completely justified.  But then, I admit:  I was really, really, tired; and maybe — just maybe — a deft use of non-violent communication might have done the job.  But I’m no angel.

What’s love got to do with it

I know, I know.  Two MYWOC entries in one day?  I fear you will grow tired of me so, I promise you, I will skip tomorrow.  But thoughts run ’round my head and I know I will not rest until I get them down on something resembling paper.

You see:  I strive to figure out why my teenage client keeps running from her placement provider — where she has a roof, electricity, running water, and where her own child resides — to the streets, her mother’s apartment which rarely has utilities, or friends’ parents’ homes.  She doesn’t really truly do anything “bad” when she’s on the run, she just exists in a world different than that which her placement provider gives her.  When I meet with her, she engages me fully, does not try to make excuses, she just quietly says, “I don’t belong there.  She [her placement provider] doesn’t talk straight, like you do, like Mr. Lee [her counselor] does, like my mom does.  I can’t count on what she says.”  I ask a hundred questions, and the same questions a hundred different ways.  It all comes back to that.

While the placement provider’s home has some issues to which I object, they aren’t the reasons  my client runs away.  For her, it all boils down to this:  She does not feel welcome.

I cast my thoughts to those basic needs we have, the needs that I chide all of my divorce clients for overlooking in their children:  The need to feel loved; and the need to feel safe.  Inevitably, I turn my mind further back, to my own attempts to understand what love is.

From the Bible: 

“1If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,b but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

1 Corinthians 13, New International Version

From science fiction:

“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”

— Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

A lawyer recently stated in a brief that a witness found credible by a trial judge “could not possibly be credible on the issue of the alleged domestic violence”. His reasoning:  If the lawyer’s client had actually been as violent as the witness testified, that witness would never have stayed with him.

Ah, but that man does not understand the complexity of the human heart.  When the one whom we love abuses us, to us, that is what love looks like.  The violence becomes the face of love to us — and, worse, to the children who witness it.  What else do they know?

My client seeks out the only demonstration of love she understands, and it looks like her mother.  I’m not sure her mother actually is a straight-talking woman, but my client perceives her as a straight-talker, and she feels comfortable with that.  She feels comfortable with me because I am a straight-talking woman.  She knows that whatever I say, I will follow through.  She instinctively knows she can trust me.  She knows where she stands.

I think she feels the same way with her mother but not her care-provider.   She runs because she does not feel loved in her care-provider’s home.  It is that simple; and that complex.

One of the tools that I’ve tried to develop to strengthen my complaint-free life-style is non-violent communication.  Non-violent communication casts aside the “right or wrong” analysis of human interaction and the “win or lose” lifestyle in favor of a quest to live a wonderful life.  Rather than judgment and demands, nonviolent communication focuses on needs and requests which the person of whom they are made is free to decline or honor.  It’s difficult to be the only NVC-speaker in a conversation, but as I’ve gotten more adept at it, I realize that I am okay speaking NVC in a room where everyone else judges, blames, and levies shame.  I embrace it more and more because I feel good when I truly practice what NVC teaches me.  Conversely, when I fall back into my old habits, I inevitably realize that I’ve not attained my goal of meeting my needs and I’ve just alienated the person with whom I am speaking.  It does not get my needs met, and certainly not when that need is love, the ultimate request.

Marshall Rosenberg describes the failed attempt at communication which degenerates to blame and judgment as a tragic expression of an unmet need.  I grow more and more convinced that the unmet need can always be defined as the need for love.  Hungry?  Providing me with food meets my need to satisfy the hunger, but it also and more importantly, tells me that I am loved.  Cold?  Bringing me a sweater warms me but also demonstrates your love for me.  When I complain, I am saying:  I feel unloved.

Instead of complaining, I should do what Marshall Rosenberg suggests:  I should just tell you that I have a need to be held, because I am feeling the need for love.  I should ask you to hold me!  It would certainly be quicker than complaining, “You never go anywhere with me!  You never do anything I want!  You never play with me!”  It’s just as Dr. Rosenberg said:  A tragic expression of an unmet need.  And my sixteen-year-old client, when she runs away, is crying out for an unmet need:  the need to be loved.  And that’s what love has to do with it.

Dr. Marshall Rosenberg with his puppets.  Dr. Rosenberg divided  interpersonal communication into two fundamental genres: “jackal” and “giraffe.” From infancy our culture teaches us to speak “jackal,” a language of demands that provoke defensiveness, resistance and counterattack. “Giraffe,” on the other hand, is the language of requests that allows us to communicate with others in respectful, compassionate ways. Why giraffe? Because giraffes have the largest hearts of all land animals (up to 40 lbs!). Jackals, due to their low proximity to the ground, tend to see just what’s under their noses. Jackal language symbolizes short-sighted, self-protecting, limited communication.

Dr. Marshall Rosenberg with his puppets. Dr. Rosenberg divided interpersonal communication into two fundamental genres: “jackal” and “giraffe.” From infancy our culture teaches us to speak “jackal,” a language of demands that provoke defensiveness, resistance and counterattack. “Giraffe,” on the other hand, is the language of requests that allows us to communicate with others in respectful, compassionate ways. Why giraffe? Because giraffes have the largest hearts of all land animals (up to 40 lbs!). Jackals, due to their low proximity to the ground, tend to see just what’s under their noses. Jackal language symbolizes short-sighted, self-protecting, limited communication.



A Robert Frost Kind of Day

A few weeks ago, my friend Dan Ryan discovered that I was feeling blue and sent me an email in which he listed ten things which he likes or admires about me.  I think it was ten — though frankly, it could have been two or twenty.  The mere sending of the email charmed me enough that its contents became irrelevant.  His generosity boosted my day immeasurably.

In my darkest times, I’ve been blessed to stumble across good friends and even strangers who injected just this type of salvation into an otherwise bleak time.  These bonuses support my continued quest to live complaint-free.  How can I complain when so many sweet gifts come my way whenever I least expect such bounty? More importantly, what right have I to complaint when instead, I should be grooming myself to watch for the moment when I might rescue someone else from grief with a list of things that I admire about them?

I call these moments “Robert Frost encounters”, and I encourage myself to engender them for others as well as to recognize them when they come my way.  I fill moments when I might otherwise complain with recollections of days when someone has gone out of their way to do something wonderful for me.  Robert Frost moments help drive me forward in this, my second year striving to live without complaining.

Dust of Snow
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
Robert Frost, New Hampshire, 1923

Of Joy, Hope, Faithfulness, and Love: Best wishes to Caitlin Taggart and Bryan Perkins

I first met Caitlin Taggart in 1994 when my son Patrick enrolled in Purple Dragon Pre-school and became fast friends with her brother Chris.  Our families quickly assimilated into each other.  Rarely did a weekend pass without one boy spending a night or two at the other boy’s home.  We fed each other’s family fairly regularly.  At my house, we had chicken fettuccini, baked macaroni and cheese, and one-pot wonders.  Katrina fixed what Patrick called “real meals”:  meat, potatoes, salad. At the Holmes house we had desserts; at the Taggarts’, we had separate salad bowls and home-made dressing.  Life could not have been richer for all of us.

I took Patrick and Chris on many outings, and Caitlin, five years older than Chris, six years older than Patrick, often accompanied us.  She corralled the boys but with kindness, a deft sweet hand and voice, and good humor.  She never lost her temper.  We traveled to conferences at the Lake and picnics at the parks of Johnson County.  I never tired of Caitlin’s presence — not then, and not ever since then.  She provided the big-sistership that Patrick needed and enjoyed; she and her sister Jennie became my shared daughters.  I took both Jennie and Caitlin to Victoria’s Secret on their sixteenth birthdays.  The Taggarts gave us one of the pivotal homes in the village with which I raised my child, and Caitlin’s role was as indispensable as Katrina’s status as second mother.

This afternoon, Caitlin and her fiance Bryan Perkins will join as wife and husband in a Quaker ceremony here in Kansas City, with friends and family in attendance.  Patrick’s class and work obligations keep him from being present, but I know he joins me in wishing Caitlin and Bryan the happiest of evenings and the most beautiful of lives.

I am confident of their future together.  I’ve watched Caitlin for twenty years, and I’ve seen the two of them together for the last two years.  They have the critical superpowers:  Joy, Hope, Faithfulness, and Love.  These qualities meld them as a couple and emanate from them to envelope others.  They radiate kindness in each other’s presence.  The fierceness of their dedication to each other and to their family and friends leaves me breathless.

Caitlin tells us that the Quaker wedding ceremony lasts about an hour.  That’s a long time to sit in witness but I’m not complaining.  I would sit all day to give tribute to this most wonderful couple.  To Caitlin and Bryan, I send my very best wishes; but also, my humble thanks, for allowing me to remain a part of your lives as you set your feet upon this new path.


Patrick, Chris, and Caitlin. I think this was Christmas 1998. The boys would be 7 and 8; Caitlin would be 13.

Jennie Taggart Wandfluh; Benton Wandfluh; Bryan Perkins; Caitlin Taggart.  At Caitlin and Bryan's wedding shower.  Benton is Jennie's son.

Jennie Taggart Wandfluh; Benton Wandfluh; Bryan Perkins; Caitlin Taggart. At Caitlin and Bryan’s wedding shower. Benton is Jennie’s son.



The new little washer/dryer combo cheerily spins from the next room.  Its intermittent insistent noise says “industry” to me.  I’ve been writing for the last hour and talking with a friend online, but the morning draws towards noon and I must motivate myself to  get to going.  The machine works; how can I do less?

But I feel slothful after a long stressful week.  No, my dears, Mama Corinna does not complain. She survived this week, after all.

I think about so many who have not survived.  Then I recall Robert Graves’ speech for Claudius:  “Some say that I am half-witted; well, that might be so.  Why is it then that I have survived to middle-age with only half my wits, while thousands around me have died with all of theirs intact?  Evidently quality of wits is more  important than quantity.”  (Graves, Robert; “I, Claudius”, BBC production, based upon the book by Robert Graves, 1934).  I feel what he means:  I stumble through life without everything that others brag of having but still, here I am, stumbling forward.  Persistence must count for something.

I realize the rain has stopped and a soft light rises from the porch.  The flowers which I planted two weeks ago shimmer, the water on their leaves catching the sun’s rays as they break through the remaining clouds.  Although I have been awake since six, I have not yet dressed — I’m still padding around the house barefoot in my too-large, soft, leopard-print pajamas.  I find  myself laughing at my laziness but the  laughter feels good and echoes out into the yard.

I go back inside the house and start thinking about getting something done.  What shall I choose?  I’ve lots to occupy my time, though mostly chores — at least until Jenny Rosen calls and we go on our pilgrimage to the great consumer mecca, Ikea.  In the meantime, I might  carry laundry down.  It’s hard work, being alive and adult; but I’m not complaining.


Special Edition: Grateful for those who serve

Last month I drove to St. Louis for a whirlwind visit with my son Patrick, hosted by my dear friend Joyce Kramer.  En route, I noticed a memorial at the side of the road and resolved to visit it on the way back the next day.  But as fate would have it, my trip home saw pouring rain. Fatigued and worried about my little fat epileptic dog being alone and worried, I continued past the spot at which I had seen the two flags and the white cross.

Today I drove to Marshall to visit a client who presently resides at Butterfield Youth Services.  I noticed the monument again, and made note of its location. I resolved that I would get off the highway and visit the spot, to learn about the person whom it honors.  After my client visit and lunch with my sister and brother-in-law in Boonville, I traveled west, carefully keeping track of the weather and the mile-markers.

I got off at exit 49 and continued westward on the outer road to mile-marker 47.   I parked my car on the edge of the access road, and trod carefully down the incline to the memorial.  I found a black wreath, a white cross, and two flags whipping in the wind.  I photographed what I saw, then trudged back to my car and sat for a few minutes, wondering about the man whose life ended at that spot, Trooper Michael L. Newton of the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Take a moment, as you drive through mid-Missouri, to stop and honor Trooper Michael L. Newton, who gave his life in service to the people of the great State of Missouri.  At the same time, lift your heart and their memories in gratitude for all those who serve:  Military, law enforcement, National Guard; on land, at sea, in the air, and on our roadways and the alleys of our cities.

The news has been filled with troubles between citizens and law enforcement, and justifiable charges laid against those who have done wrong.  But I have found, in sixty years of fairly hard living, that the majority of those who serve do so with honor, and valor, and selflessness.  I am grateful for their sacrifices.  I am especially grateful to those who fall while they serve, and to the families who will not see them again — at least, not in this life.


Read about Trooper Michael L. Newton here.

Beauty all around me

Someone described my breakfast nook as “Corinne’s grotto”.  That hits the mark.  Each morning I take my breakfast there.  The trinkets around me perfectly embody my life and character.  The nook has served several purposes over the last 22 years:  family breakfast spot, computer room, Corinne’s office, and now a place for coffee, writing, phone conversation, and the ever-present NPR on the little radio.

When I step on the porch, beauty surrounds me in the form of flowers, wood, and air laden with the fragrances of the season.  Here in the breakfast nook, the beauty takes on a more personal form.  My angels twinkle at me from one wall. My mother’s odd collection of Haviland and Limoge and my own little grouping of china soup cups share two wooden shelves on the wall opposite the angels.  A favorite framed work by my son rests under a calligraphied rendition of “Warning” by Jenny Joseph.

Ms. Joseph’s words aptly describe my current state of life.  I re-read them as I sip my coffee.  Glancing around me, I know that here, surrounded by these lovely souvenirs of a rich life, I could not possibly think of voicing a single complaint.  Such ugliness would shatter the fragile calm which I feel here, now, surrounded by these pleasant momentos.  I simply smile and contemplate the day ahead.  I find myself, as always, gravitating towards a state of grace and thankfulness.

“Warning”, by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph


Yet another moment of gratitude

I must admit this has not been my favorite week ever.  In fact, on some levels, this week has sucked eggs.

So, as the night closes itself around my Brookside home, I try to reorient my view so as to redeem these waning days of April.  A few sparks of good fortune shine among the disappointments: My newest endeavor, the Waldo-Brookside Rotary Club, got its provisional charter with more charter members than any club in the District; a long-lost client happened to get off a city bus right in front of my car; I found something suitable to wear to Caitlin Taggart’s wedding.

And nestled right among the immediate, modest positives I place a long-term note of gratitude:  That I was a single mother at 35 rather than at 15.  As I sat in an emergency meeting of lawyers, caseworkers and care providers analyzing the sudden downhill turn of a young client’s progress towards reunification with her child, sisters, and mother, I could not help thanking the Universe for that good fortune.

Her plight is only partly of her doing.  She’s in care because the home provided by her mother for her and her sisters had no electricity or running water.  She and her now  nearly two-year old son live with one cousin; her much younger sisters live with another.  And she keeps running away, so she is now assigned to a residential facility some distance from the city.  I’ve gone out there once there so far.  We sat on an old couch in an entry way to her building and tears rolled down her face.  “Miss Corinne,” she whispered, “you’re the first person to come see me, and you’re not even family.”

A parent aide has now taken her child and sisters to visit, and the cousin who has her son claims she will bring him out for a second visit soon.  I’ve thrown my 111 pounds around as much as I can, speaking tersely, playing bad-cop to the baby’s lawyer’s good cop, trying to force issues that seem to have stagnated over the last few months.  Time will tell whether the promises made at yesterday’s tense meeting will be kept.

This evening, I took a field trip to T. J. Maxx and found a few things to bring when I go to her school tomorrow.  And that provided another moment of gratitude.  I started chatting with a woman in the shoe aisle and we discovered common ground.  She identified herself as a social worker in KC KS.  We talked about my client and some similar cases that she’s seen.  She told me where she worked, and I know her executive director.  We commiserated about the difficulties we each have experienced trying to help teenagers and their families.  She surveyed  the items that I had selected for my little lady, and she approved them.  I left the store feeling more positive than I have felt all week.   I drove home and unpacked my purchases.    I tucked each one into a gift bag and reflected on the warmth of the woman whom I had met.  What are the odds of such a moment of companionship between strangers?

Life can be challenging; and I know that some of the blacker moments of this week will rise to haunt me in the days to come.  But my life has many blessings, so I’m not complaining.







I started this blog to provide public accountability for my quest to learn to live without complaining.  Along the way, I have shared triumphs and tragedies, sweetness and sorrow, lightness and longing.  I strive to find a center for myself, a balance point from which I can withstand life’s troubles and glory in life’s triumphs.

Though this morning’s air chilled me, I did see my friend and neighbor Elizabeth Unger-Carlisle out walking (in hot and gloves); and the gorgeous color of my porch-plants warmed  my heart as well.  I might have to cover them tonight but I’m not complaining.