WRITING

AN EVENING WITH PAM HOUSTON

I was meditating this morning as I have been doing almost every single morning for four months now. I sat cross legged on the hard surface of the floor, small pillow slightly under my behind for some added support, palms resting on my knees, open to the sky, open to the possibilities of what lies ahead and above. As usual, my mind drifted in and out of future and past thoughts, then back to center, to the glorious now, weaving in and out of the traffic of my busy brain.  Sometimes this is all meditation is for me, a busy freeway of past and future thoughts with bursts of the present. Through this practice, I have learned that this is the practice.

On many occasions though, ideas and thoughts start snap crackle and popping just as the ads for a bowl of Rice Crispies proclaimed back in the days when kids ate cereal as a nutritious breakfast. Do kids still eat cereal for breakfast? I don’t know since my son is mostly on his own these days away at college. I can wager a guess that the only cereal consumed is the type that gets gobbled down after a night out on a college weekend. But cereal or no cereal, meditation along with almost daily writing have become a nutritious healthy breakfast and I am more grounded and sane because of this practice. This is the pleasant and surprising outcome of this discipline I have added to my mornings.

This past week I had the pleasure of taking a writing class from a woman named Pam Houston sponsored by The Cardigan Connection, my new-found friends Robin and Emily Homonoff of the famed Reading With Robin in Providence, RI.  Twenty-five bright eyed women sat together in an odd venue choice, kind of a bar, music space, sitting with pens and paper or laptops eagerly waiting for Pam to shine her expertise on our aspiring writing lives. Most of us were in our forties and above, I am guessing that the price tag of the class deterred the twenty somethings, but there we sat all hoping to learn another nugget about the craft we love.

Once I made the commitment to writing, I have been inundated with the business side of writing, advice, workshops, blogs, events endlessly abound most with a hefty price tag. Like Alanon has taught me for over twenty years, I must be disciplined enough to take what I need and leave the rest. Between reading, doing my morning writing and taking writing classes I have come to realize that some of these activities, though valuable, are distracting me from actually writing the historical fiction book I have in my heart.

The only way a book is going to get written is to sit down and write it. No amount of classes, trips to the library to read more historical fiction and daily blog writing will make my book come alive. Surely it is helpful and  I am humble enough to know that this is all part of the process. Slow and steady, no rush. I don’t think this book will come from waking up in the morning, locking myself in my house and writing for forty-eight straight hours. On the other hand, it is surely not going to write itself.

What Pam Houston spoke of was her own writing style, how she has written for decades and the results of her writing actual books. She said something that surprised me, that she does not write every day, that in fact she can go weeks or months without writing. This gave me a sense of relief in some ways because two things happen to me when I am not writing. One is I feel absurd pressure to write, all self induced, but still there taking up brain space and time. Two is guilt, surely not a good attribute to become a better writer. I love to write, but sometimes the tank is empty and it needs refueling. A break is often the best solution. Pam saying this a loud was both reassuring and calming to this overactive overachiever brain in my head.

The other offering I received from Pam was what she called Glimmers. Of all of her presentation that I loved, this was my favorite as it gave credence to the pictures I see wherever I go. Some people who take photos for a living see scenes and snap pictures of them, for me I see the same scenes and stories unfold at the speed of light. Many writers would say this, I am sure. Pam used the word Glimmers to define this and it resonated with me immediately.

For example, I may be walking down the street and I see an old woman struggling with her groceries. I offer to help her and she smiles with a bright welcome relief eagerly accepting my gift of help. I notice her coat is bright red as are her pants, her blouse, the buttons on her blouse. So is her lipstick and her nail polish which immediately makes me curious about her life. It is here that a story unfolds, just not yet. I write the few sentences down. This is what Pam referred to as a glimmer. This short experience may not be the story or a story in itself, but may eventually become part of something later. Or it may become its own story or nothing at all. Regardless, the picture needs to be captured and developed so it is not forgotten.

I see glimmers constantly. Pam gave this experience of mine a voice and a house for them to reside in. Her presentation was a short one; we were only there for two hours and we wrote for about forty minutes of that time. Glimmers. I could have sat for two days listening and writing more with Pam as a guiding force. As it turns out, Pam does these hiking writing combo workshops in places like Colorado and France that make me want to charge up one of these on my beautiful balance free credit cards. Instead I call upon that deep meditative breath that has become my new best morning friend and acknowledge what I need to do is simply take all I have learned from the five or six writing classes I have taken in the past few years and seriously continue to schedule the time to write. To actually write and research my ideas. No writing class is going to do this for me at this point. Later yes, but right now, I must work on developing my own writing practice. What I learned from Pam Houston in the short time I had the privilege of her time this past week is we all have our stories. There is no perfect way to write except to actually write them.

In my meditation this morning, the idea that every day is Groundhog Day popped into my head. One of my favorite movies where Bill Murray gets a do over every day, over and over again until he learns the lesson. Right in front of all of us if we have the luxury of waking up today is a new day, our own Groundhog Day where we can start fresh like it is the first day. The hell with a new year, how about a new day? Isn’t this amazing to think that every waking day is a chance to get it right? Whatever your it is? Mine is completing my idea for a historical fiction novel. What Pam Houston taught me is every glimmer that has come into my viewfinder may end up being a part of this story so today I roll up my sleeves and get to work like it is the brand new day that it is. #luckyindeed.

Cheers to a new year and another chance to get it right.

oprah winfrey

I think I would say Cheers to a new day.

grief

OUT OF THE OCEAN

You visited me, finally, and I am grateful. I have missed you and there you were, out of the blue, the literal blue of the ocean. Have you been waiting for me to appear in the calm openness necessary, like you ever needed permission. But maybe it was me that needed the permission, the sense of peace I have worked on to get to the place where I could be open to your visit.

It was like you had never left, but at the same time like you had been gone forever. Forever. Soon you will be gone for more than half of my life. Those are the frames of reference I use to recognize your long absence from my heart.

The first time I knew you were ok was the first dream, the one where we were at the beach walking parallel to the shore and I was behind you, you kept falling because your leg was bothering you and I kept throwing sand on you which was causing you pain. Then in that fast forward way a dream propels to the next scene, I was sitting cross legged facing the waves. You were the wave lying in a resting pose on your right ear eyes closed, serene even, mouth slightly curved up but not quite a smile letting me know you were at peace, you were good. That dream has carried me for twenty four years.

Twenty four years later, I find myself in the midst of a deep dive down within myself eager and excited to find ways to simmer down and re-connect with my soul. I began a short meditation practice. Every morning while the coffee perks, 8 minutes or more depending on the size of the pot, I sit cross legged in silence facing the East like a religious Jew at the Western Wall, (my cousin beth corrected my compass as I thought it was west) and since I wake up at the crack of dawn facing east is probably more realistic , though I do enjoy the sunset and west feels right for some higher power reason I am unsure of and I sit and breathe in total silence. No music, no sound machines, nothing except me and my breath and the beat of my heart. My mind races and speeds and slows and floats then I remember where I am and like the magic that meditation is slowly one day at a time teaching me, I breathe. For the last thirty or forty days, just showing up to the mat wherever I am and I breathe. Calmly and collectively. Each day I go beyond the beep of the coffee pot’s sound and I find myself staying put- different.

When I first started I kept saying, is that coffee pot ever going to fucking beep? Now I am disappointed that it beeps so quickly and I am surprised that in such a short time span I went from waiting and tapping my foot like my skin was crawling to this miraculous pleasure. And I sit and breathe massaging my insides with the deepest and and calmest of breaths. Steady, In and out. Slow, easy. Connected. This is the miracle of the quiet. And wisdom moves inside of me and I come to my knees without ever moving.

Then just like the miracle of not trying, not forcing, there you were, there we were. At the beach, I was next to you as part of the same wave gently lapping at the shore, in and out like my own breath. I opened my eyes and felt you. Even though the visit was brief, I relished it because it had been so long. I accepted its shortness and went about my day. To the mat again the next day and in only two or three breaths you were back, but this time you stood up facing me looking like your pre-cancer, pre-death self, strong, muscular, tall, dark wavy hair and I was sitting facing the water watching you arrive, like a male character from a Greek myth, someone likely related to Zeus, I stood up knowing that you wouldn’t be staying, but just bathing in the moment. We danced and frolicked like brothers and sisters do and danced again. Then you turned around and walked back in the water, with your back to me and dove in, swimming away, never turning around and it was enough.

I opened my eyes knowing you were letting me know something but instead of trying to figure it out, just allowing the pleasure. I went to a yoga class that night with one of my favorite teachers, Mary and she did mini meditations throughout the gentle class. At the last part of the meditation, after the final Shavasana, Mary had us sit in that familiar cross legged position that is getting much easier to do. Within a flash of time you were back, but this time with Dad. You looked at me, Dad didn’t, though this didn’t bother me and the two of you uncharacteristically wrestled briefly. Shortly after you both dove back in the water swimming underneath and away. My eyes filled up with tears, happy to see you to be with you in this odd awakened state, you left me with the words Call Mom.

Typical. I felt a sense of urgency to call her. But I didn’t right away. That was Monday. I called her yesterday but had to cut it short because my friend arrived earlier then planned as we were headed to dinner with 2 other friends. One of them pushed the very familiar Ann buttons, but I didn’t react, like it was a test drive of a car before you decide to make the purchase. So I called my mother back today and allowed her to do her thing, keeping a safe distance from her fishing pole to my heart. And it was good.

People die. They die young. They die old but they die. Mary Oliver died today, someone who was a link for me to Provincetown and another old friend who is no longer.. Strange how people can physically leave, but you can still have visits from them even 24 years later just like it was yesterday. Relationships die too and people can depart emotionally and you feel nothing, like it was time for the departure and they did you a favor without you even knowing you needed one. Then there is Ann who comes and goes and comes again, like the nine lives of a cat. And I allow it because after all she is my mother and who knows how many more lives she has. This time, though I watch her line and hook fly past me. I watch a fish grab a hold and swim with the current full steam ahead not realizing who’s on the other side of the worm.

I haven’t had the dream again since Monday and I welcome the visit juxtaposed with my son, being away in Israel and on his way home too. Like you are part of this protection in his travels. Your presence makes his trip help me feel safe for some reason as I try not to feel like you and Dad are sending me some message or you are coming for me or something like some fucked up death premonition. There has been and is so much cancer and death in my young life. It is a struggle to not immediately go there because it has been so long since I have felt you, my dear brother. You are a warrior, Poseidon, all these years later and I hope (and pray too) it was just a lovely visit because you miss me too.

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TO THE MAT

TO THE MAT

I was in the midst of planning a huge event in Boston, my first one. I had the job of my dreams working at the young age of my late twenties for Aveda Corporation and I was solely responsible for planning a gigantic beauty event for about eight hundred attendees. I had never done anything like this before and the entire experience was super stressful. I was in perpetual freak out mode because at that age that was just what my emotions did back then, before I grew up and realized the silliness of that.

I’m too stressed out to do yoga. Yes. These actual words spilled out of my mouth over twenty five years ago as I was speaking to the owner of a brand new yoga studio that had just opened in Middletown, RI. Innerlight, a studio way ahead of its time. It may have been the first one to open in most of RI besides All That Matters. The very zen owner looked at me without so much as an eye roll and said something calming and kind that didn’t even make its wisdom into my personal space. There was not a chance I would have signed up for a yoga class at that time because I couldn’t even imagine sitting still for a second. Of course, this should have been exactly what I jumped into, but my ego and my impatience with quiet would not have allowed this.

I hear this daily. I can’t sit still. I could never sit still for an hour and a half or more treatment. My mind is always on the go. Do you have anything quicker? Every day a woman asks us this and makes these comments so imagine the commentary now when these same women find out about my new meditation practice. My WHILE THE COFFEE PERKS, meditation practice that literally is timed by a full pot of coffee brewing.

I have always been a good deep diaphragmatic breather especially since my husband and I separated almost eight years ago. I started meditating before I went to bed at night usually guided by a wonderful meditation app called Meditation Oasis. The soothing voice of the woman guiding me to a more restful evening helped me sleep better; she helped calm my mind and rest my fast beating and sad, confused heart. This app also helped get me back to sleep on those frequent three am wakeups that would find my heart racing with fear questioning my decision to break up a twenty year marriage. As wonderful as meditating on your back before bed is (and I highly recommend it as a great place to start the practice of self soothing), it is not a conscious meditation because you fall asleep.

Meditation is more about consciously going quiet and being conscious of that quiet. It is active awareness of the quietest place in your heart, mind and body. Showing up for a date with the mat and quieting your racing mind for even one minute is not easy. This is the point. What? Isn’t meditation supposed to bring inner peace and total quiet joy? Why the hell would someone want to be uncomfortable actively pursuing a quiet and calm state? I know. It seems almost contradictory on paper. Sitting cross legged, hips pulsating, legs cramping, back bothering, mind endlessly wandering to the endless to do list that circulates like a tornado through our brains. This is the point.

Many many years ago I had found a book written by Vietnamese Monk and Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh on mindful meditation. The book’s premise, if I remember correctly, was that every moment in our day offers golden nuggets of opportunities for meditating because meditating is not always about sitting in a lotus position and chanting OM for two hours. Meditating can be when you are washing your dishes, or standing in line at the grocery store or waiting for your gas to fill up the tank. Meditation is about awareness of our thoughts, allowing the wild west thoughts that run rambunctious in our heads from one moment to the next and instead allowing them, noticing them, without judgment or criticism and finding our breath instead. This is miraculously simple once you realize how often thoughts run amuck with no consciousness and how easy it is to feel good by simply taking a deep breath every time you can remember to notice when your thoughts are running like wild banshees.

This was a good place to start for me, just bringing breath into my day wherever and whenever I could remember to. But this was just the first step of meditation and I soon learned that this was not enough for me. I needed to actually create an actual practice of meditating. Like showing up to a class, but instead the class would be a pillow on my floor of the living room. Free. In my jammies. Disciplined. My struggle in my life has always been discipline and commitment. Ever since I was a little kid if I had something I was supposed to do, if something seemingly more interesting came up, like a party or hanging out with friends, I would usually blow off what I was supposed to do, homework for example. Practicing my instrument. So this month in an effort to get reconnected with a deeper spiritual part of me, I decided I would work on this. Creating a spiritual practice that would benefit my health, my heart, my connection with something bigger than the day to day grind of busy-ness.

So I started. To the mat, or in this case the floor of my living room. I sat cross legged completely uncomfortable, while the coffee percolated. And I began breathing. In through my nose for a count of four, holding the breath for another count of four, releasing the breath for four, and feeling the empty space for a final four. While the coffee dripped, I practiced this discipline. My mind wandered, I felt frustration, angst, impatience, boredom, annoyance, but I kept with it. After all, how long does it take for a full pot of coffee to brew? And about seven minutes later, the pot beeped signaling it was finished and I opened my eyes thankful it was over. But guess what? I felt different, better, calmer, gentler. It was strange. So I did it again, the next day and the next day and then I added some gentle stretching, some cat/ cows, some downward dogs, some child poses and I felt better and my legs crossed easier. All while the coffee perked. It has been three weeks since I started this new practice and it is getting easier, but the point here is the skill set I am building to self soothe, to calm my busy head and allow my own body to do what it does best when I allow it some space. All over a pot of coffee.

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” 
 ― Thich Nhat Hanh,
The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation

https://ideapod.com/thich-nhat-hanh-recommends-5-meditation-techniques-rewire-brain-live-present-moment/

Buddha in my garden, photo courtesy of the Brilliant and Talented, but more importantly Kind Lou Sousa.
Health, self improvement

WHILE THE COFFEE PERKS

WHILE THE COFFEE PERKS

My phone and technology is getting to me. It has been for quite sometime and I fantasize regularly about discontinuing it completely. Before you start throwing your belief systems at me, “You own a business!! How will your son get in touch with you? !!” and the many other memes that have been planted in our brains by Big Tech I am fully aware that the notion of even contemplating this seems unrealistic, even radical these days. But a girl can dream, can’t she?

What I know about all of this technology and I am speaking for me here in my quiet little corner of the world, is that it does not serve my sense of inner connection. I feel at times on the inside like the fuzzy screen on my grandparents old Zenith console when there was nothing on television because it was one in the morning. My insides feel a little sizzly, fragmented, hot, and not in a good way. It is like a disconnect with my spirit and these time sucking instruments I find myself checking regularly for no apparent reason are the culprit. It used to be television that I thought was the great time waster, sitting on the couch watching mindless shows. The Boob Tube we used to call it back when that was the only form of technology that had the potential for the incredible waste of our days. Like George Orwell predicted in 1983, Big Tech is our version of Big Brother as every single movement from the time we wake up until the time we lie down is tracked and recorded. I know I sound like a conspiracy theorist, I am not at all. We consumers have created this condition by our love and zest for new and shiny and all things tech. Our behaviors have changed with the times, like Pavlov’s dog and here we are. As I write this very piece, I am fully aware that my car is running so that I may enter a warm cushy space because of an app on my phone. I am writing on the very technology I complain about. I post on a site that allows an audience for my writing making it much easier to communicate my love of writing to more people than I certainly could if I were typing on one of my 27 newly collected typewriters.

But my insides have not been feeling the calm joyful peace I crave. I miss that feeling that is like a velvet quilt on a cold day with the fire going and a fresh hot cup of tea by my side. When I was visiting my grandfather a few weeks back, we went to temple and as I was singing next to him, he said to me, “You seem to love coming so much, why don’t you attend services at home then?” My reply was quick. “I don’t have anyone to go with and it is kind of a bummer always being solo at synagogue.” But he planted that seed and I realized I haven’t been purposeful in connecting with my spirituality. Deliberate and conscious connection with my higher power is something that always brings me the AHHH I know is necessary to move through my busy life. Why do I step away when it usually brings me such joy? I guess this is the perpetual quest. Like exercise and eating right, saving money, meditating, creating, reading, writing, learning, all these elements that feed my personal soul, I wonder why I step away when they all make me feel so enlightened and happy?

I decided for a change rather than overwhelm myself with some new hard and fast rule that I would most definitely break and then feel like a failure, I would pull out of my box of quotes, ONE DAY AT A TIME. I never really understood this mantra until I applied it to each day, ONE DAY AT A TIME. So last week, I decided to get back to conscious meditating, but without some long term plan where I would start doing meditation classes and offer it to the world resulting in no meditating as usual. Instead I put my coffee on and decided that I was worthy of the time it took to completely brew the pot to sit down cross legged facing a beautiful pastel my brother drew of a sun before he died and close my eyes and just breathe. While the coffee perked. For the entire pot. My coffee pot beeps when it is finished which in the past I considered a silly extra feature, but in this case, it was a helpful reminder that I could stop. I think the whole pot brewing took about seven minutes but it may as well been five hours because I had a really hard time adjusting, sitting cross legged, breathing, staying focused on my breath. It pretty much sucked. But I felt better when I got up, soothed, relaxed. So I did it the next day and it still sucked, my brain was spinning, I couldn’t get a deep breath, my heart felt racy, my hips were tight and I was uncomfortable. But I felt better when the pot beeped again and I got up. So I did it again. And it was easier to breathe deeply, to sit to come back to breath every time my mind spun and took me away from it, and when the pot beeped I stayed put enjoying the velvet vibe. I stretched for a few minutes some downward dog, some cat cows, some rising up and breathing in.

And I felt better. I could take a deep breath. My heart slowed. My mind calmed. And I did it again the next day and the day after. ONE DAY AT A TIME. And I went to temple and sang with my tribe and I felt better. All because I have a coffee pot that beeps. All because my 101 year old grandfather reminded me that my joy is as important as work and that my religion and culture and its freedoms are a gift that I take for granted without even having to say it aloud. And I feel better. And it’s free. Seven minutes of coffee perking, I deserve the time. Technology will be there later, back to my present moment for today anyway.

peace indeed
Uncategorized

FORGIVENESS AND GRATITUDE

FORGIVENESS AND GRATITUDE

During Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, two of the more prominent and important Jewish Holidays, there is a call to action that is directly related to forgiveness. You are supposed to make amends with anyone you may have harmed and ask for forgiveness, face to face, eye to eye. If the person does not grant you forgiveness, there is a catchall that I love. You are supposed to ask two more times and if you are still not granted forgiveness, you are forgiven because if you sincerely mean what you ask, God apparently thinks that this is the point. Intention. Courage. Humility. Like all religion, there are various interpretations. These can be symbolic gestures too, maybe you need to forgive someone else and you just simply begin the process in your own heart without even having a conversation. Maybe the person you harmed or have been harmed by has passed away or the relationship is beyond a face to face — meditating, breathing, sending that person light and surrounding their aura with love may be the start of forgiveness. I look at the directive as an opportunity to pay attention and make a motion, even if it is just a baby step, to move towards love.

I have never been violently abused, I don’t know how the possibility of forgiveness is possible in these situations. I have never been harmed in such a way where forgiveness does not even seem like it is place to even walk towards. I cannot speak to this, but I do know that when I move towards forgiveness even if it is just in my mind, I am the person who feels better. It is not about the other person, it is about my own heart. Forgiveness is not meant to change the person on the receiving end, it is the person looking back in the mirror.

If I have hurt someone unintentionally, how is that I would even know to ask for forgiveness? This is where a kind meditation can be helpful. A deep breath surrounded by some conscious quiet saying to myself, I ask for forgiveness for any harm or hurt I may have caused to anyone intentionally or unintentionally. I open my heart to forgive and be forgiven and I ask for only goodness and love to move between us. Another one that is even easier is to say I FORGIVE YOU and see the person in your minds eye. If it is you that needs the forgiveness, I FORGIVE MYSELF. I have even read that it is helpful to look at yourself directly in the mirror and say, I FORGIVE YOU. And then really sit for a moment and feel the feeling, then do it again. I have tried this and it is powerful to notice the self talk that comes up by staring at yourself in a mirror contemplating.

Sometimes this small movement of consciousness and awareness can lead to an opening. Openings are good, much better than closures. Closures of the heart are anger and resentment and this eats away at your soul. No matter what the harm, soul eating is not good for my health, for sure. Resentment as it relates to health may as well be like eating Big Macs and French fries every day three times a day for life, a heart doctor’s worst nightmare. Stress from resentment has far reaching consequences on blood pressure, headaches, immune systems, and emotional weariness that does not induce well being.

What does FORGIVENESS have to do with GRATITUDE? I mean it is Thanksgiving, not Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanah, not New Years where I make my list of goals that include action items for personal improvement. This isn’t an Alanon meeting day where I am on Step 5, “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” (https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_step5.pdf)

This is not confession day at church behind a screen where a priest is listening to the Forgive me Father for I have sinned. In my opinion, gratitude goes hand in hand with forgiveness. Sometimes the first step of forgiveness is to simply train your mind to consider what you are thankful for. An interesting exercise is to sit quietly and take a few deep breaths. After you have done this, think about something you are angry or resentful about and place it in your mind for just a moment. Notice how that thought makes you feel. Does your face get scrunched up, are you frowning, feeling revved up, heart racing? Now try to allow that thought to leave you, put it in a box and place it in a river and watch it float down and away. Then simply take a few breaths again, quiet your mind and think of a few things you are thankful for, grateful for. Shelter, your children, food on the table, your health, whatever comes to your heart. Hold those thoughts and notice the feelings in your body now. Relaxed, calmer, more peaceful? Do you realize that both feelings were choices you just made? Powerful.

I believe that gratitude is like exercise or learning how to play an instrument, you have to practice it daily or else you simply will not improve, and neither will your health and way you see the world. Gratitude can lead to forgiveness, but the first step is all about taking it. And it is free. This is the gem of gratitude and forgiveness. They are both free. You just have to show up.

Holidays are loaded with layers of stuff. Family dynamics, expectations, guilt, and these holidays can push buttons that trigger behavior in sometimes out of the blue surprising ways. Often not planned, not anticipated, but they can come at you with a force of strength and set you on a course that is anything but thank-full. But I have learned and really believe that behavior and my response to it is a choice I make. It takes two to make conflict. I have a choice to engage or disengage. I don’t have to read the email that is going to make me feel bad, I can just delete it. I don’t have to go on social media and allow myself to be exposed to discussions that don’t make me feel energized and happy. These are all choices that I make often. I want to feel good. This is a choice. Gratitude and Forgiveness make me feel good, great actually.

Today I am grateful for anyone who reads anything I write. Writing is my personal forgiveness and I am so thankful for its presence in my life. May your day be filled with the choice of kindness and humility so that your being is calmer and more peaceful as you make your way, “Over the river and thru the woods to grandmother’s house you go,” where sometimes the big bad wolf awaits, but you don’t have to be eaten by him.

Happiest of Thanksgivings to you.