The Experiment

Today I am tired. I originally got into management at 18 years old because I knew I could learn to be amazing, and do what I loved by growing those around me into achieving whatever they pictured for themselves. I never once pictured myself as “the boss” of anyone, because I don’t care for that myself. I don’t like working for big egos and micro-managers, so I moved myself up and placed myself in a position where I could train others to grow teams and open stores and blow past me, if they so desired.

It was awesome.

I got so good at it, that 15 years later I was snatched up by the Sara Lee Corporation to run one of their stores, and shortly thereafter they began sending me around the country to open stores and train other management teams to build their own. I truly pictured myself moving up to regional manager until negative incidents with childcare made it necessary for me to shut them down and take any job that would put me at home every night, weekend and holiday for my baby boy who was 5 years old.

No hesitation there, love comes first.

Going from really great money to $6.25 an hour was a shock to the family finances, but that’s how it had to happen. The next 15 years, I edged up little by little and raised my son, which was a damn good deal in my opinion. I even grew to like not being in charge of anyone’s work but my own. I was just the boss of me, and my manager was a wonderful woman who has since become one of my very best friends. Life was good.

Then I was promoted to a management position again. The last six years I’ve been responsible for a small group of men in the warehousing/trucking industry. You would think that would be much easier than an empire of 30-40 women, wouldn’t you? As a woman raised by, sister to, and mother of amazing men whom I respect and adore, you would think it would be almost effortless, wouldn’t you? I even learned management skills at the knee of my mother who ruled in several hospitals across the states.

When I stepped in with an integrative mind-set and offer the respect due, the appreciation of knowledge and skills each one offers, and the open-ness to feedback on an ongoing basis as issues evolve, wouldn’t you think there would be a sense of job satisfaction and ownership?

Nope. There’s always that one, right? The Agitator.

My team is experienced, good hearted and hard working. I have the best assistant in the history of the universe. They produce under shitty conditions of extreme cold and heat. I value their knowledge and abilities. I call them in to warm up or cool off, I ask their opinions in decisions that effect the ease of their work, I bring in lunch from time to time, and I thank them every single evening when they leave. I keep up on their monetary needs, their home lives and their physical well-being as best I can. We pull together as a team and get it done, except for “the cactus”.

I have met some pricks in my day, but you, sir…

As I drove to work this morning entertaining the faint and enjoyable idea of tossing this guy into a wood chipper,(just quietly, in my mind, you understand) I listened to a podcast  and heard this idea that everything we did was spiritual, everywhere we stood was holy ground, that our every thought, word and action was an act of creation. Everything from our meals, conversations, to the work we do was a divine creative offering to the world.


No. Give up my satisfying wood chipper scenario? Consider my work place sacred ground? If somebody suggests something biblical, could it not have been to cleanse this place with fire or something epic like that? Sigh…

Yeah, yeah. My people know I shove positive stuff in my head every day, and I’m always using myself as a guinea pig to see if some new piece of knowledge is valid or a crock of shit. So I decided, as I pulled into my parking space, to consider my work place holy ground for the day. I did have to sit in my car for a few minutes to gear up for it.

Today was interesting. I did find myself, with some compassion, wondering just how miserable a life one would have to have to be such an ass. My dad likes to say that it’s better to have a skunk inside your tent pissing out, than outside your tent pissing in. My thought on that was, re-locate the skunk and avoid the pissing. I’m giving this test a few more days.

I stand before you with a wood chipper at the ready, on sacred ground. 

I’ll let you know how it goes.






The Celebration

And then she said, “Rise,

get up out of bed and stretch yourself

to greet the day…

With the finest ingredients

make your favorite dishes and

serve yourself

on the china you save

for the special ones…

Pull on that dress, put on those shoes

you only wear to feel

like magic and scent yourself

with the fragrance you save

in the drawer you never


Go now, quickly

to where the music plays

and dance to your favorite songs,

watch the beauty of

the moon rising in a sky

you’ve never seen before and

let yourself laugh,

arms and heart open wide

in a celebration

of you.”


Sacred Ground

Life paused to watch her

as she stood there,

confused, heart-broken and

a little angry…

Rendered almost helpless by the weight

of the dirt, the sharpness of the stones that

surrounded her, teeming with the biting pests

that caused her to shudder


Life watched as she closed her eyes,

tilted her head a bit to one side

and listened to the rising winds whisper to her

the story, once again, of how

this came to be…

and with her hair whipping wildly

she opened her eyes, knelt down and began

to mix the dirt and rock and biting things

that caused her to cringe…

and as she did

she tore pieces of her heart with dirt-stained fingers

and planted love relentlessly.

Life watched, as she did not waver

from her task even when it called the storms,

brought the lightning, thunder, hail and biting rain.

When others came to mock her, or call her

home to safety, she would tilt her head

just a bit,

listen to the sound of the winds

tell her story again,

and wave them away.

This would be her garden

her Holy Place

her Sacred Ground…

And when, in spite of all that came before,

the tiny shoots of tender green

broke free and tipped themselves with the first hint

of color in the face of the storm,

or perhaps because of it,

Life bowed to her

and chose to express itself,

as it does to this day,

in the beauty of the garden

she created from It.


Fire Breathing Dragon

I see her now, so small, Crayola in her hand…

Printing pain and joy too huge for her vocabulary.

Later then, with lead and ink she scrawled

outside the boundaries of what she should have known,

and later still, her little blue plastic typewriter

tapped quietly as her unacceptable exuberance lit the page,

or her unexpressed sorrows bled through the keys.

She recognized the looks, and heard beneath the questions,

felt the discomfort she caused and only understood

that her voice was too big for her body to hold

and too much for others to want to hear.

Her friends would tell her when she shared how beautiful

her words, but where is this pain? What is this song?

This is not how we know you.

Then came the Silence.

Decades of coloring inside the lines.

I see her now, and she is different.

She walks in and out of view, quietly making her way

as the light and shadows illuminate and hide her face

from those who wonder.

She makes her way without second glance, or hesitation,

around those she allowed to mark her, and she is unafraid.

She knows how to be alone, how to fall and rise, how to burn.

So she takes her seat, puts fingertips to keyboard

and sets the dragon free to breathe fire

one more time.




The Other Side of Judgement

I posted a short piece a few days ago that sparked several conversations with a few more, I’m sure now, to follow. Such is the nature of the surprise epiphany. Following my silent, and mostly unnoticed, anxiety at being invited down (a childhood) memory lane, came the realization that my view of who I am was somewhat skewed by my relentless and unforgiving self-judgement.

Having a deep aversion to discussing the growing years didn’t keep me from enjoying the memories my family shared. My parent’s sharing their memory of their first kiss brought tears to my eyes. They love each other with a commitment that humbles me. I made everyone laugh when I said I enjoyed the wedding, since I was born 7 months later (a little too big at 9lbs to qualify as a preemie).

We finally put it together that my middle brother was dragged to our front door by a teenage neighbor boy demanding my dad punish him for throwing rocks at him and his buddy. The same teenage boy I had just slapped the fire out of for trying to drag me inside to show me his etchings. I was eight, and my brother was six years old. My dad, knowing none of this, pulled my brother inside and told the guy to take a hike.

My brother had my back. My dad had his.

We learned the timeline of my baby brother getting beat up by bully and pals, my middle brother beating him up (and afterwards apologizing for the pain inflicted), the bully’s older brother on the hunt for mine, and my subsequent dating of the older brother which resulted in amnesty. We had each other covered without discussion.

We agreed unanimously that our baby brother’s escapades were merely training for his service to our country as a Delta Force operator and left it at that.  I remember him gifting me with several things he liberated from someone else, at which time I would quietly have them returned, having no knowledge (of course) how they arrived on my property.

I consider myself a facilitator of unravelling unfortunate events.

The sister-in-law who posed the “favorite memory” question, was horrified when she read what I wrote. Being one of the most loving and sensitive people I know, she was appalled that she could have caused me distress from such a harmless suggestion. After her text of apology, I had to call her immediately to thank her for making me see what I had missed my whole life.

I would never judge my son the way I’ve judged the child I was.

Empowered to experience the invisible link of family, I was able to see past my spawn of satan behavior to the good memories that were woven through that time. I remember the first poem I wrote for my mom. I know she still has it. I remember singing with my dad when we did the dishes together (maybe he was making sure I didn’t hide them under my bed again). I remember my middle brother following JB and I everywhere and being so pissed about it, and then beating up anyone who picked on him for doing so, because that was my job. I remember the Christmas I got a Cinderella watch and a Malibu Skipper. I was unusually good that year?

I remember putting my baby brother in my doll stroller because he was my baby.

My sister’s inadvertent pulling of my emotional trigger blew away the long-time prison where I’d locked away “little me”. I admire that little shit now, even as I bow to the parents who didn’t leave her on someone else’s doorstep.

I don’t have enough lifetimes to repay my family for remaining always beside me.

I owe my sister at least one Tito’s and cranberry. She’s a keeper.




The Loop

Until yesterday, if you wanted to freak me the hell out, you would ask me any question about “going back” in time. Those closest to me know that I don’t do that shit. No, there is no point in time I want to re-live, I don’t want any “do overs”, I don’t yearn to change a single thing, and for God’s sake don’t ask me what my favorite memory is from childhood.

My brain freezes when this question is put into play.

Yesterday, my sister-in-law asked for our favorite memory growing up, and while everyone started their stories, I went into a psychological state of emergency. I don’t ever go there for what I’ve always considered very sound reasons. I stepped back and tried to render myself invisible with the power of my mind. While one brother started talking, I escaped to the bathroom to save myself, calm down, and scan my mind for what the hell I was going to say.

When you’re the black sheep of the family, this is not a good thing.

I was, obviously, a little shit growing up. I ate and drank everything I was told not to and had my stomach pumped so many times they should’ve engraved my name on the machine at the hospital. I put my arm through the front door having a fit for being told to go inside and take a nap when I was five.

If mom said I couldn’t have money for candy at the pool, I’d lift quarters out of her purse when she wasn’t around. When she told me to stay off the piano, how do you think I woke everyone up one morning? If she tried to keep me out of the Brach’s chocolate stars by putting them on top of the fridge, I’d just grab a chair, climb up, and take just enough not to be noticed.

I was hit by a car at 10 years old because why should I look both ways? If I was punished by KP duty for misbehavior, I would refuse to wash dishes, and take them all  and hide them under the bed until we ran out and my dad would wake me up and make me pull them all out and wash them so we could eat.

At one point in time, I was grounded for so long I considered it a life sentence, so what did I have to lose by sneaking out the window? That was a success until half-way in the window one morning I saw my dad sitting on the side of my bed waiting for me. Momentarily frozen half in, and half out, he just said very quietly, “It scares me when you do that”.

I never did it again.

I ran away from home at 16 and ended up in court and was judged “incorrigible”, someone whose behavior cannot be corrected. I did not beg to differ. So there I was yesterday, deer in the headlight look on my face, and the only thing I can think of to say is that my fondest memory is that I got a year’s probation in lieu of girl’s school to the age of 21.

I shudder to think who I would have become with that kind of training.

Two years ago, when I called my parents to ask if I could stay with them until I found a place to live, they said yes without hesitation. They came home from vacation and didn’t ask a single question. They let me cry, and sleep and recover. They gave me time to find my way through the sorrow.

That is love. I will never forget it. That is my fondest childhood memory.

I still refuse to look back. No do-overs needed. I’m right where I need to be, come what may. I still don’t like being told what to do, so don’t waste your time. But I am at least self-aware enough to pause before I act. Smart enough to ask myself if I’m getting ready to leap into action because I want to, or because someone said “don’t you dare”.

The odds are growing, ever more, in my favor.

We may all breathe a collective sigh of relief.





I made a grown man cry yesterday. He thought I was angry with him, at least that was the story. The truth was that he lost his wife and mother to cancer within 10 days of each other, and is already back to work. He was essentially a human being with all skin removed and every nerve exposed.

The very air around him brought him pain.

No matter how softly I spoke to him, his face winced and flickered with emotion as if I were a DI screaming instructions instead of letting him know that he could take it easy, I didn’t need him to do anything yet.

I was eventually able to gentle him into a state of ease, but it took every bit of the work day. I considered it more than worth the effort. I was happy to have the temporary help I needed, but was also exhausted by what it took out of me to make him feel safe for the day.

People don’t always see you for who you are. They perceive you from what they are experiencing in their lives at any given moment. You could wear yourself out trying to explain or justify your truth or intent, but it rarely makes any headway in their belief in what is real for them.

I’ve learned it’s better for me to trade defensiveness for compassion. 

Everyone is going through their own shit. It can get really rough. I’m pretty good at knowing when I’ve screwed up and doing what I can to make things right, but I’ve learned enough now to know that many times someone’s attitude and/or judgment comes from where they’re at or what they’re dealing with, and has nothing to do with me.

I’m just a stand in.

But I did momentarily feel like I’d been video-taped kicking a small puppy without ever having lifted a foot. Living is hard when you’re grieving. Breathing is hard. Holding space and bearing witness is hard.

Being human is hard.

Is it only Tuesday?