Category Archives: Uncategorized

Breakfast of Champions

My social media feed sends me scores of links every day.  Occasionally, one or two of them contains useful information.  Yesterday, I learned that eggs might not be fatal to my heart.

I cracked two of the luscious little protein bombs into a bowl right after reading that article, but not before gazing at the unsuspecting oval jewels for a few minutes.  I had taken the last of a dozen purchased in Rio, and the first of a dozen from Trader Joe’s organic aisle.  I smiled at the sight of them sitting next to each other in my purloined square vessel (stolen from one of the cabins here last winter, quite by accident). They wobbled a bit, as the house vibrated from the force of a passing truck.

I couldn’t help thinking of my friend Lyne’t Gray.  I heard again her voice through the headphones during my guest appearance on her radio show.  She introduced me as her sister. We launched into a discussion of the children of Jackson County and the system which must not fail them.  Despite the differences between us, Lyne’t and I agree on the importance of being mindful about our obligation as parents, as citizens, as educators, to the future of the next generation.  The fierceness of our dedication crackled in the cluttered confines of the small KUAW studio.

Lyne’t and I have known each other since my son and her daughter went to University Academy. She lifts my spirits.  I thought of Lyne’t as I cracked the eggs and mixed them together to make the silkiness of my breakfast of champions.  I took my plate to the table and ate with the light of the morning sun streaming through the window.

The news about eggs being good for me came as no surprise.  The article validated something which I’ve always known, like the virtues of an afternoon spent walking along the river and the indispensable value of a friend’s warm embrace.   The nourishment from each sustains me.

It’s the twenty-third day of the fifty-third month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


In the garden of misunderstanding

I recently found a book from my childhood which includes stores of Little Bobby who lives with his aunt.  She sends him to the tower bedroom when he falls ill, or misbehaves.  He creeps into the cheerful room when he needs a bit of solitude or comfort.

There he finds himself surrounded with pretty wallpaper depicting garden gates.  From one of them comes a fairy who guides him through lonely or troubled times.  One of the gates opens on the Garden of Misunderstanding, where parents learn why their children don’t comply with directions but also do not always deserve to be scolded.  Small beings admonish parents to pay closer attention to their charges, who might have had the best of intentions.

I walk in the Garden of Misunderstanding from time to time.  I hear what others perceive about how I have acted or what they have said and done. I sense how quick we each have been to judge the other.  I mourn the lost chance, the moment which has slipped away without us coming to a place of common comfort.

The days continue.  I cannot undo anything which I have said or done.  Nor can I change how I’ve reacted.  I can only gather my senses around me and strive for clarity from this day forward.  I find my own contentment in dedicating myself to the effort.

It’s the twenty-second day of the fifty-third month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

The Eyes Have It

My eyes have become a metaphor, shorthand for all the choices that I’ve made or maybe, for the burdens which I bear.  They replace my ears (going deaf, choosing not to spend $12,000 on the digital hearing aides recommended for my particular situation), my knee (that pesky old-school metal knee needs major surgery to repair or replace), and my teeth (crooked and broken).  Never let it be said that  irony escapes me.

A few weeks ago, I walked among unsuspecting Californians in Berkeley, headed for Pegasus.  I don’t carry a cane despite that wobbly knee and shaky legs.  A cane complicates matters.  Already struggling with the disconnect between my brain and my limbs, I fall into further confusion when I add that lifeless stick.  A cane gives me something on which to lean if I pause, but so does a building, or a bike rack, or a parking meter.

People skirted around me on the sidewalk as I navigated from the restaurant at which I’d had breakfast with Kimberley Kellogg.  I was headed to indulge one of my unbridled passions — used books.  Suddenly I realized that a woman had spoken to me.  Her contorted face suggested that I didn’t respond as quickly as she expected.  I squinted, adjusting my glasses which have slipped down my nose.  She muttered and moved around me.  I waited to see what might develop but she was gone, crossing, her hunched shoulders serving as a lingering tribute to her displeasure.

I had my eyes back in focus so I continued walking, holding  my glasses, dodging the people who came toward me.  In the bookstore, I asked for a restroom and learned that they had stopped providing one for customers.  The clerk studied me.  He saw a middle-aged woman holding the blue frames of her spectacles, sporting a turquoise crossbody hand-bag, encased in a sweater and a jean jacket.  He made a decision, sensing both my harmlessness and my desperation.  He handed me a key and gestured.

In the employee bathroom, washing my hands, I studied my face in the mirror over the metal sink.  I saw the cattywumpus glasses, the worry lines, the greying roots, all slightly blurred.  Time for the six-month eye exam, I sighed to myself.  But what kind of specialist was it, again?  What did the last guy say that  I must  I find in this strange land? And can I afford the thousand-dollar outlay?  I shook my head.  Story of my life, I thought.  Just one more thing for which I need to school myself not to complain.

A few weeks later, in court at Clay County, I ran into Mike Hanna.  “Judge,” I called, as he walked towards me led by his attendant.  “Corinne Corley,” he replied, holding out his hand.  I grasped it and told him he looked good.  “Nice to see you,” he told me, though his eyes have been sightless for many years.   “You too,” I said, and turned away, looking toward the front of the courtroom, suddenly feeling a little ashamed without quite knowing why.

It’s the twenty-first day of the fifty-third month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”― Helen Keller

Flotsam and jetsam of an unfinished life

Last night I carried a jumble of items into Angel’s Haven from my suitcase.  I laid them out on the table and studied the collection.  My heart lifted a little, buoyed by some unbidden current and a wave of emotion.

I’ve taken a cue from my friend Kimberley.  I’ve used the 2-suitcase allowance on Southwest to slowly bring missing items from Kansas City.  I pack my clothes for the business trips in a smallish suitcase and put that bag inside a bigger one.   When I get to Kansas City and take it out again, voila — an extra suitcase!  I cull through boxes in storage for items packed by others, in those last crazy hours when I dealt with the nightmare of a near-fumbled closing on the sale of my house.  I have found some cherished possessions and brought them here, to my new home.

I studied this week’s collection for a long time.

A shoebox  held pretty little trinkets that various people gave me over the years:  A World’s Window lion puzzle from my son; a Japanese puzzle box from a client; the little egg that Chester gave me when we found out that I was pregnant; and a blue china lidded container which I’ve had for nearly forty years.  The person who got it for me turned out to be one of those men who blames everything on his current girlfriend while wooing the next victim.  I’m not sure why I kept that, unless as a futile reminder not to be a fool for love.

I ran one finger over a broken slat in my sewing box, a mother-gift which had remained behind because it smashed on the floor of the storage unit.  Sheldon had repaired it for me, but it took a brutal hit en-route.  On top of my plastic basket of make-up, I spied a book called “The Tiny Little House”, a birthday present from my sister Adrienne many years ago.  Prophetic, I thought, as  I read the story of two little girls and an old lady resurrecting an abandoned house to sell the old lady’s delicious cookies.

I don’t really need the basket of make-up.  I rarely wear cosmetics.  Most of the items are “Bare Minerals” products, purchased in 2014 post-separation when I struggled to make myself feel better.  What is it about having a new tube of lipstick that suggests to middle-aged women that we aren’t worthless?

I packed my favorite Mary Ann Coonrod water color wrapped in a table-runner.  It sustained damage during the house move,and might need a new frame.  I’ve saved a space for it on the east wall of Angel’s Haven, above my cookbooks and next to the little shelf on which I’ve got a couple of angels and my San Francisco music box.  I’m not sure why I included my radio, except that it has good, clear sound.   I listen to KQED on the computer most mornings, though I haven’t canceled my sustaining donation to KCUR.  The radio sat in the breakfast nook at the Holmes house for the last several years.  Sometimes it brought the only human voices I heard for days on end.

I lifted another book from the pile, “Solo: Women on women alone”.  It’s a collection of short stories.  I bought it during graduate school.   I read it cover to cover, many times.  finding myself on its pages.   I brushed a layer of dust from the cover.  It will make good reading, as I sip a cup of tea on my front porch in the cool of an evening.  I’ll let it fall to my lap, close my eyes, and feel my spirit drift, lost among the flotsam and jetsam of an unfinished life.

It’s the nineteenth day of the fifty-third month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


“At the center of your being, you have the answer.  You know who you are, and what you want.”

—   Rumi

Two Kinds of People; or, “Oh, Joy!”

As I sat in the back of the Lyft driver’s Lexus waiting for him to ask me if I was okay after the accident, I realized for the second or third time this year that there are two kinds of people in the world.

The first kind genuinely cares about others regardless of whether they agree with them on issues.  They might verbalize their discontent with how you vote, or the color of your hair, or the way you keep house.  But when the cars smack against each other, they leap to your side.

The second kind starts thinking right away about liability.  These folks have a glib narrative that sounds supportive.  You might even be fooled by their generous rhetoric.  In a crisis, they show their truth.  They shove the broken tea-pot under a place mat and walk away.  They talk about wanting to help and then have other engagements for every time slot.

I’ve learned to recognize true gems but I still confuse the artificial louts for gold.  In other words, I have a lot of false positives.   I tend to err on the side of believing that everyone who says that they want to help me actually does.  For many years, I assumed the worst of people.  They often fell to my expectations of them.  But the converse has not proven true.  When I hit rock bottom in early 2014, I decided to start assuming the best of people.  I found myself particularly willing to trust people who volunteered to use their expertise to help advance my situation.   This has not always gone well.

Perhaps the pendulum swung too far into the realm of naivete.  I’ve trusted some folks in the last year whom I previously would have sent packing with unbridled speed.  It’s the pretense of compassion that fools me.  Then the sand slips through my fingers and dissolves in the sea.  I realize that once again, I’ve been fooled by a charming smile or a sincerely tilted head.

The Lyft driver wanted me to state that he was not at fault.  I smiled and averted my eyes.  He suddenly became quite hostile, throwing my suitcases onto the pavement, canceling all record of the pick-up, pretending not to understand the police officer’s request for information.  I studied his demeanor.  I thought of other folks whom I have met in the last several years.  Here was a man who did not really care about anyone.  I am sure of it.  I have a small list of others who spun a false narrative.  I shan’t complain about them; it does no good, and causes a knot to develop in my stomach.  But I’m building a profile for my private reference.

Meanwhile, the substitute Lyft driver tried to refuse my tip.  He insisted that he would be compensated.  He settled my bags in the back of my car and brushed away the bill in my hand.  All that mattered to him was that  I had gotten safely to my destination.  So I stood with as much firmness as my fatigue allowed and told him that I, too, had a concern.   My concern involved whether he would be tipped and properly by whomever would be paying him for rescuing me.   I said, “Please, will you take this.”  I held the money out to him again.  We seemed at an impasse.  “Please,” I repeated.  Then, finally, he took it.  We gave simultaneous voice to our respective thanks.  I got into my car and drove away, thinking, “Oh, joy!  This fellow redeemed an entire company.  He’s one of the good guys.”

It’s the eighteenth day of the fifty-third month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.



Nothing / Everything Changes

I’m at One More Cup.  The yellow mug which I always favored sits a few inches from the mouse, to the right of my laptop.  I swear the music which streams from the speaker has been on a constant loop since 2014.  I’m writing an entry at the same table where I sat at the start of this journey, at the end of December 2013, just before my entire life changed.  The chairs have new covers.  A fancy couch sits against one wall.  The fundraising gumball machine has been taken away.  Otherwise, it could be yesterday.  Or tomorrow.  Or last year.

In a half hour, I’ll meet a couple of very cool ladies for drinks and dinner.  The conversation will ebb and flow.  Once in a while, my focus will fade and I’ll wonder what city it is.  But I will pull myself back; I’ll smile; I’ll take another bite and ask another question.  I’ll know the place:  DISTRICT in Waldo, a half-dozen miles or less from the home that I sold, the house which I have not been able to drive past.  I drive around it.  I admit that:  I cannot even go north on Holmes, lest  I accidentally maneuver the car too far and have to pull sharply away from the memories.

In the morning, I’ll make a trip to Clay County to continue a case, then spend a few hours in my storage unit.  I’ll visit Paula and Sheldon one more time.  I’ll have dinner with Jeanne.  Then I’ll pack everything in two suitcases, go to bed early, and rise before dawn to catch the first flight home.  The sun will greet me as I travel west.

It’s the sixteenth day of the fifty-third month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Dedicated to Dawn L., with thanks.


Over coffee at Starbucks, Penny and I talk about our differing points of view.

I don’t start with the obvious:  We’re at a store which I have been actively boycotting.  It’s in Prairie Village, not Pennsylvania, to be sure.  She works at the place which is why we’re having coffee there.  I would not have otherwise chosen to break my pledge.

She tells me that when she decided to work as a barista, she chose this particular location to challenge herself.  It draws its clientele from a conservative base — which we both interpret as meaning supporters of the current administration.  She says she wanted to force herself to see the humanity of people with a differing perspective from hers.

I tell her she’s a better man than I am, Gunga Din.  I don’t mention the racist manager at that Pennsylvania Starbucks.  We do murmur about the president’s misogyny, and his disparagement of Muslims.  We shake our heads at the increase in hate crimes about which we hear on the news most every night.  I think about my hostess for the week, my one remaining Conservative friend, if you don’t count my ex-husband and my second-oldest sister.  She asks, “That’s not Joyce, is it?” and I shake my head.

We talk about my family then, and which of them she knows from the two of my 300 weddings which she photographed.  After that quick sojourn down memory lane, we veer to safer subjects, or seemingly so.  From talk of her recent decision to return to college and the scholarship she’s won, we somehow stroll over to the subject of artists putting donation buttons on their websites.

She’s in favor; I’m philosophically opposed to doing it myself, which she suggests as a way of making money on my blog.  It’s clear that I think of such endeavors as tantamount to begging.  She has a different thought.  She sees art, including writing, as a contribution to the healing of society.  The donation buttons, the Go-fund-me campaigns, she considers support of the effort  made by artists towards the betterment of the world.

We fall silent for a while, lost in our differences perhaps or maybe just drinking our tea before the ice melts.  I notice the time.  I rise; we embrace.  She raises her phone to take a quick selfie and then I’m in my rental car and moving away, with the light of the afternoon sun falling soft across my windshield.  As I cross town to my scheduled home-visit of a five-year old client, I turn on the radio and listen to the news of deaths in Gaza.  I sit at a red light, lost in a sudden conviction that I have failed to understand something crucial.

When the light changes, I move forward, leaving Kansas behind without a backward glance.

It’s the fifteenth day of the fifty-third month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.



Sights and sounds of an other-world traveler

Standing in Jeanne’s kitchen. . . she in the chic tan attire of a summer lawyer. . . drinking Mr. Coffee and talking about runaways. . .

. . . driving down Broadway, the rental car making curious beeping noises that I do not understand, cars passing me and the sun radiating from the dashboard. . .

. . . the swell of voices in Monarch, a weird cold coffee drink ordered. . . high scrolled ceiling rising above me, Roaring 20s tiles under foot. . .

. . . babies in strollers which double as car seats, a row of USB ports on board, pushed by their thin mamas who wear tight blue jeans and carry little leather handbags smaller than a cell phone. . .

. . . and always, the slight dizziness that being back in Kansas City neither causes nor ameliorates.  . .

. . . waiting for my friend Cindy, speaking to no one, writing about nothing, hitting hard on the recalcitrant “i” key and laughing, outloud, which not a soul notices in the rising din.

It’s the fourteenth day of the fifty-third month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Reflections in a Daughter’s Eyes

My mother died just before her 59th birthday and my 30th.  She had been ill for a year, taking her sweet time dying in one sense and going far too soon in another.  But for the doctors’ mistakes, she might have lived many more years.  There you have it, though; we lost her, and with her died any hope of my truly understanding which parts of her dwell in me.

I can infer some of my heritage, especially the physical.  I have her eyebrows, her hair, and her physique.  Though my face bears the stamp of my Irish father, I see my mother in the curve of my shoulders, and the round of my belly, and the slant of my bosom.  I did not get her brown eyes, or her Syrian nose, but I have the slender firm shape of her calves, tortured only by the intervention of my nasty virus.  Perhaps my body blends my parents, though if you knew her, you could see the look of her in the tilt of my mouth and the set of my jaw.

Like my mother, I can’t stand tight clothing, or sweaty blouses, or wearing anything more than once.  She came home from work every evening already shed of her bra, from which she could extricate herself at a red light with perfect aplomb.  I completely relate to that need.  She would cross the living room, move through the hallway, and take a shower before saying hello or starting dinner.  Then she’d pad around the house in my grandmother’s flowered house-coat, perhaps the very one which currently hangs in my tiny bathroom.

But most of all, a lot of what I believe comes from my mother.  The fierceness of her loyalty for those whom she loved dances in the fibers of my being.  I trust long and without hesitation.  I flinch just as wretchedly with any betrayal.   Like my mother, I speak my mind in clear unrelenting tones, where others might steadfastly cling to silence.  I understand, at the ripe age of 62, that sometimes not speaking might serve me.  However, even my willingness to crouch within diplomacy fades under a direct question.  “If you don’t want to know, don’t ask.”

My mother would give a person every benefit of the doubt right up until that person plunged a knife in the back of someone under my mother’s protection.  My little brother Steve came home from first grade complaining about a bully.  He also had brought his class picture.  My mother studied it for a few minutes, then asked him, “Who’s this well-fed, jolly-looking boy?”  On being told that the child was the very one who had been pushing Steve down on the playground, my mother snapped, “You mean this fat little kid is the bully boy?”  Of all my mother’s faux paus, that seemed the most cruel, and the most like her at the same time.

My mother protested the war in Vietnam.  She readied cash and a backpack for my brother Kevin to escape to Canada on learning of his low draft number.  She made a bumper sticker protesting the conflict and endured the scoldings of the Personnel Office for her government job.  She talked to her children about abortion, and prejudice, and the need to help those less fortunate than we were.  We gave our pennies to the mission collection even though we had little enough at home.  I once saw my mother literally crying over spilled milk, on her hands and knees amidst the broken glass of a milk bottle, trying to salvage the puddle by using a straw.

Stories of my mother pepper the pages of my blogs, this one and the weekly Musings which I circulated for eight years, and which now await my careful editing.  I read paragraph after paragraph, marveling at my mother’s stamina and resourcefulness.  She fed ten people with one chicken (two halves of the back; two each of the breast, wings, thighs, and drumsticks).  When I came home from eighth grade complaining that my Dress-Up Day clothes embarrassed me, she found some money to buy me a pant’s suit.  I never told her that the girls ridiculed me.  “Yesterday’s Style”, they called it, but I wore it with pride.

She treated my acne, my hurt feelings, my sunburn, and the agony of both my first menstrual cramps and my first miscarriage.  She learned to drive at 40, got two of my brothers out of jail, and organized camping trips to Meramec State Park.  One time she came out of the breakfast room where she had been agonizing over bills.  She said to my older brothers and me that she had kept wincing because we were playing music too loud.  “I told myself, ‘Lucy, don’t get upset, they could be out robbing banks.'”  She laughed a little ruefully then, before continuing.  “And then I looked at my bank balance and said, ‘What’s wrong with those kids, they could be out robbing banks!”

And yet, once a teller gave her $200.00 extra when cashing her paycheck, and she drove all the way back to the bank to return it.  “I just kept thinking of that poor clerk, having to account for the shortage,” she told us.

I’ve read that women whose husbands abuse them often suffer the judgment of their children for not getting the kids to safety.  My mother did not leave my father, but she did take us out of  harm’s way many times.  We walked the streets of Jennings singing church hymns, often with coats over our pajamas.  My mother would send one of the older children to peer in the windows to see if my father had gone to sleep, waiting for a safe moment to bundle us back in bed.  Small comfort, perhaps; but it was a different time.  She did as much as she thought she could.

I knew I had my mother’s love, but I didn’t get far enough in life before she died to earn her approval.  I’ve started and stopped so many endeavors in my life, often puzzled over whether my mother would agree with my plans.  She would be sad about my divorces, I think; and understanding of my financial struggles.  She’d fully support my work with children.  After all, this is a woman who wanted to be buried in the unbaptized baby section of a local Catholic cemetery.  “Those children need a mother,” she told me once, bending over to take a wax-paper rubbing of one of the little angels’ headstones.

My mother agonized over my sorrows, but secretly, without my knowing.  Outwardly, she would spur me to rise above whatever troubled me.  One time she visited me in South St. Louis when I’d gotten food poisoning.  When she arrived, I was standing on my balcony hollering at a group of noisy children in the street.  Their voices had carried through the open windows of my unairconditioned apartment where I had been trying to rest.  She stood beneath me, listening, then leaned back to call to me.  “For heaven’s sake, they are just children.  Take your grumpy self inside and leave them alone.”  She stunned the kids into a moment of silence, then threw a smile over her shoulder at them as she entered my building.  The sounds of their chortlng followed her to the second floor.

Whatever else my mother would have thought of what I’ve made of my life, I do not doubt that one accomplishment would gain her unconditional endorsement.  She would completely approve of my son.  His tenacity, his gentleness, his social consciousness, and his political acumen would all make my mother smile with the contentment of a woman who sees her legacy unfolding.  She would admire his writing and the conviction with which he speaks of his beliefs.  His tendency to scold his mother’s occasional lapses would prompt her to raise one eyebrow and laugh.  “He’s my grandson, all right,” she would observe; and she would not be wrong.

That my son never got to meet my mother seems so terrible, so cruel.  He reminds me more and more of her.  I can picture them in league with one another.  They’d walk the line together.  It would be so grand.

A few days before my mother died, I had an afternoon of bedside duty with her.  The cancer had claimed her bones and her brain.  Her pituitary gland had failed.  We had to coax her to take water and medication when there wasn’t a nurse around for injections.  I liquefied the pills and put them in a dropper which I held to her mouth.  I stroked her throat and said, “Swallow, Mama, swallow”, over and over.  “Swallow, Mama.  Swallow, now, swallow.”

Suddenly, her cloudy eyes focused, and she fixed them on my face.  “I am still your mother,” she snapped.  “Don’t patronize me.”

I could only stutter in reply, “Yes, ma’am”, in the instant before her eyes blurred again.  They were the last clear words I ever heard her say.  

Once in a while,  I find myself thinking about calling my mother to tell her something.  Invariably, I remember a phone call we had when I still lived in St. Louis.  My apartment telephone had a very long cord, and I was wandering around the kitchen as we talked.  After a while, I got bored, but once my mother started on a subject, you couldn’t really interrupt her.  I looked back and saw that my cat had gotten a hold of the telephone cord and was twisting it in his paws.  “Mom, I gotta go,”  I exclaimed.  “The cat’s on the wire.”  I hung up the phone, relieved to have found a marginally plausible excuse.  A few minutes later, she rang again.  “I assume you’re having barbecued cat for dinner, then?” she asked.  Ever after that, when one of us needed to get off the phone, we’d just say, “Cat’s on the wire,” and we’d both laugh.

Nobody sang like my mother, or danced like her, or held a crying child quite the way she could.  I tried.  I read the same stories to my son that my mother read to me.  I made her Schmarren for Patrick, and sang the Christopher Robin songs which she invented.  I put candy in his shoes on St. Nicholas Day which was her tradition.  I hung Christmas stockings and rang her dinner bell.  I tried to channel her strength and her tenderness.  I tried to show my son the world through a daughter’s eyes.

On Mother’s Day, we would buy a single gardenia for my mother at the florist near Corpus Christi Church in Jennings.  We would take care to do what she wanted all day, and to behave like the good Christians which we knew she wanted us to be.  She always told us that when we walked down the street, she wanted people to look at us and say, “See those Corleys.  How they loved one another.”  Whatever we were the rest of the year, however we acted, whatever we lacked or failed to do, on Mother’s Day, we set it all aside.

Just before one of my mother’s cancer-related surgeries, the eight of us gathered at her bed.  The doctors had gone through informed consent, with my mother waving her hand in my direction and telling them to let her lawyer daughter read it.  They were about to wheel her out of the room, when she stopped the orderly.  She gestured for us to come closer.  She had something to say.

“From this day forward,” she told us, “My word is law.”  Her deep chuckle lingered in the room as they pushed her down the hall.

If there is a heaven, I have no doubt that my mother occupies her own corner.  She has gathered all the children around her, especially her granddaughter Rachel.  She has my brother Stephen at hand, and so many others.  She reads stories, and skips, and plays music, Dvorak’s New World Symphony, Willie Nelson, Anthony Newley, and “Peter and the Wolf”.  She will have a garden.  She will walk among the flowers and vegetables, wearing a denim wrap-around skirt and a head scarf, carrying a basket.  She’ll rise early, call out to my father, and take her cup of coffee out to a celestial porch.  Her endless, radiant smile will warm the heart and calm the fears of even The Littlest Angel.

It’s the twelfth day of the fifty-third month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


10 SEPTEMBER 1926 — 21 AUGUST 1985






In which I invite peace back into my heart

Living in the Delta, one forgets that negative people roam the earth and inject uglness into the lives of anyone who crosses their paths.  The same delightful escape happens here in Jenny Rosen’s lovely tree house apartment.  She surrounds herself with positive energy, from the inspirational artwork to the lush jade in blue clay pots.   My soul calms, hiding here.

Yesterday reality bit, drawing me into its seedier side. I  rummaged through the flotsam and jetsam of my life, the last few boxes hastily packed by my friends while I dealt with a mess caused by the remissions of others.  The flood of anxiety over the clumsy closing of my house sale; the desperation with which  I had to seek legal intervention to offset the failures of those who should have been helping me; the chaos during what could have been an exciting time — these rose to claim the quietude which the last four months has allowed me.

But offsetting my clumsy fall onto the floor of the storage unit and the stark reminder of that last month in Kansas City when I trusted some untrustworthy souls, a few shimmering pockets of strengthening silver emerge.  I found the missing papers for which  I had long sought, tucked into my mother’s book on needlework.  I visited with a client, hearing of how well she is doing post-litigation.  I spent a couple of hours curled on Jenny’s couch, reading.  At eleven, Jenny came sashaying home, with groceries, Winstead’s tater-tots, and her sunny smile.  I remembered how blessed  I am.  It is impossible to be here in this island of serenity and not keenly feel the bounty of compassion.

So this morning, I invite peace back into my heart.  I gather it like the fine lace of a lovely shawl and wrap my body in its tender embrace.  I forswear complaint anew.  I let those nagging recollections fall away, pinching the dead leaves from the new shoots and taking nourishment in the rich soil around me.  I feel myself unfolding, ready to bloom.   Forgiveness and release cannot be far behind.

It’s the twelfth day of the fifty-third month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.