I trust your holidays were good for you and provided just what you needed. I traveled to San Francisco to see my daughter MacKenzie and her husband John. We explored the city and had a great time cooking together, walking together and talking together. I was also able to see a couple of girlfriends I had not seen for many years. Loved it all!
Since returning home, I began re-editing my relationship book, which has been sitting for close to a year after Eric’s passing (how time flies!). As you might imagine, I’ll be going through the material with new eyes. This takes time. I plan to continue to blog, but pieces will be shorter and simpler. I enjoy writing, I appreciate that you read what I write and talk to me about it. This way, we can stay in touch while I finish the book.
I went to lunch with a group of women the other day, and one of the women said something that struck home with the women around the table. This moment gave me the idea of doing the next few weeks of blogs using (mostly anonymous) quotes from women we know and love, including you. If you have a favorite pithy or funny quote, or something you believe and want to share, please send it to me at InCareOfRelationships@gmail.com and I will consider using it. Thank you in advance.
With that, here are this week’s quotes.
SLEEPING ON MY SIDE
“I don’t have a husband any more, but I still sleep on the same side of the bed. Even when I go to a hotel, I stand at the end of the bed and notice I have a whole bed, and I could sleep anywhere I want to — in the middle, or on the opposite side — but I don’t. I sleep where I’ve always slept. I sleep on “my side.”
ME? IN A RELATIONSHIP AGAIN?
When asked if she sees herself having another relationship since her long-time husband is no longer in the picture: “No, that would at some point involve being naked with someone and I don’t see myself doing that.”
WHO WOULD I BE?
“It’s hard to imagine myself without everything that was handed to me as ‘the truth.’ All of us were given ideas growing up of course, and these were reinforced over time as in ‘that’s just what you do.’ But what is embedded in me — is it actually true for me??? That’s the million dollar question. And who would I be without adopted truths? What if I looked within more often for what is waiting to be seen by me? Who would I be then? I’d like to find out.”
Gangaji video “The Heart Can Bear It All”
“So we get to the question of ‘What does it mean to know the truth, tell the truth?’ And that gets very risky because to know the truth is first to sink through what’s been denied is the truth. To be willing to tell the truth is to risk losing everything. When you’ve made a choice to be committed to the truth, then the truth becomes a ruthless master. That commitment will expose every aspect of hiding.”
Blessings for your week! Please think about your favorite ideas from women you know and consider sending them my way. You can write the essence of what they said and that will work fine, too, and it will be an anonymous quote unless you tell me otherwise. Let’s share the wisdom and humor!
I’m fresh out of anything to say, because after all, it’s almost Christmas vacation.
You know how the last days of school go. The children carelessly scribble their final assignments, eyes on the door, ready to pile from the room, go sledding, drink hot chocolate.
Me? I’ll be hanging tinsel on parts of life that could use a touch of silver.
But today, I’m doing the only thing a westward-ho writer could possibly do.
I’m sending you a poem –written by someone else — because as I said, my brain is busy thinking about what to put in my very small suitcase, wondering what to give my daughter for Christmas, and writing a set of instructions for the (new) pet sitter.
What Billy writes makes perfect sense to me, first that he would be contemplating all manner of things such as questions about angels, but also that he would go to the trouble of inviting the rest of us to join him. His poems are wonderfully varied, usually light hearted, sometimes comical. I adore his unexpected left turns.
Questions About Angels
By Billy Collins
Of all the questions you might want to ask
about angels, the only one you ever hear
is how many can dance on the head of a pin.
No curiosity about how they pass the eternal time
besides circling the Throne chanting in Latin
or delivering a crust of bread to a hermit on earth
or guiding a boy and girl across a rickety wooden bridge.
Do they fly through God’s body and come out singing?
Do they swing like children from the hinges
of the spirit world saying their names backwards and forwards?
Do they sit alone in little gardens changing colors?
What about their sleeping habits, the fabric of their robes,
their diet of unfiltered divine light?
What goes on inside their luminous heads? Is there a wall
these tall presences can look over and see hell?
If an angel fell off a cloud, would he leave a hole
in a river and would the hole float along endlessly
filled with the silent letters of every angelic word?
If an angel delivered the mail, would he arrive
in a blinding rush of wings or would he just assume
the appearance of the regular mailman and
whistle up the driveway reading the postcards?
No, the medieval theologians control the court.
The only question you ever hear is about
the little dance floor on the head of a pin
where halos are meant to converge and drift invisibly.
It is designed to make us think in millions,
billions, to make us run out of numbers and collapse
into infinity, but perhaps the answer is simply one:
one female angel dancing alone in her stocking feet,
a small jazz combo working in the background.
She sways like a branch in the wind, her beautiful
eyes closed, and the tall thin bassist leans over
to glance at his watch because she has been dancing
forever, and now it is very late, even for musicians.
All right, everyone! Blessings to you and yours. Have a good Holiday and I’ll see you all after the New Year!
To Love and All Things Poetic, Musical and Sparkly,
There is a great deal going on in the entertainment news, involving talented people we never imagined would do what they apparently did.
Consider the (partial) lyrics to the following song.
I knew a man who lived in fear
It was huge, it was angry,
It was drawing near
Behind his house a secret place
Was the shadow of the demon
He could never face
He built a wall of steel and flame
And men with guns to keep it tame
Then standing back he made it plain
That the nightmare would never ever rise again
But the fear and the fire and the guns remain
It doesn’t matter now it’s over anyhow
He tells the world that it’s sleeping
But as the night came round I heard
It slowly sound
It wasn’t roaring, it was weeping
It wasn’t roaring, it was weeping
And then one day the neighbors came
They were curious to know about the smoke and flame
They stood around outside the wall
But of course there was nothing to be heard at all
“My friends, ” he said, “We’ve reached our goal
The threat is under firm control
As long as peace and order reign
I’ll be damned if I can see a reason to explain
Why the fear and the fire and the guns remain.”
It doesn’t matter now it’s over anyhow
He tells the world that it’s sleeping
But as the night came round I heard
It slowly sound
It wasn’t roaring, it was weeping.
It wasn’t roaring, it was weeping
Say ah, say ah, say ah
Say ah, say ah, say ah…
Songwriters: Daniel Heymann / Thomas Fox / Ian Cohen / Peter Cohen
AS WITHOUT, SO WITHIN.
There is something crushingly beautiful about the song and the way it’s sung (Josh Groban) even though it unveils a story of suppression, over looking, and hiding big problems using force.
The song is brilliant, in fact.
Because it never once points the finger at me.
Instead, the lyrics tell the story of a nameless stranger, which allows me (in the privacy of my own mind) to casually consider the story for any value it might offer me.
The song tells me about a man I don’t know, who successfully covers up a secret — one that, as it turns out, is not roaring, but weeping. As time goes on, the man sincerely believes (or perhaps fervently hopes) he’s made the problem go to sleep, so why talk about it? He keeps the fire and guns of protection, though, just in case.
WHAT ABOUT THAT WEEPING.
Is the weeping from the man himself? Is his grieving self “the shadow of the demon” he could never face? Is he the victim, and he can’t speak about what happened to him because it’s too traumatic?
Or is the weeping from his victims, whom we never meet and are shielded forever from view?
Or is the weeping coming from those of us who have experienced what this man is feeling? Is the weeping from the collective consciousness of all of us who’ve ever felt the desperation of something we prefer not to face?
Clearly, the song has done its job. I am inquiring within.
DID I DO THAT.
Because no one is pointing a finger at me on this trail of self-inquiry, I have the freedom to ask myself if I’ve done what this man did. Have I tried to cover up the roaring or the weeping?
Well, as a matter of fact, yes, I have. I would venture to say that anyone alive has done this somewhere along the trail of life.
At some point, we did what this man did. We covered up something we didn’t want to admit, or face, or allow to be visible to others. We pretended, ignored, built strong walls and bulletproof protection. We didn’t speak about the thing behind the curtain, what’s buried behind the barn.
But luckily, as I said before, I am able to consider the story of this man from afar, in the comfort of my living room.
NOT OVER THERE. LOOK HERE.
Which is also the luxury we have when Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer and Kevin Spacey land in the news. We have the luxury of thinking about the problem — over there in those men.
The thing is, these men have a song, too, and their song is an invitation to look a little more closely at our own lives and communities.
Is there something I need to speak up about? Is there something going on in my own community that I’ve been ignoring?
Take, for example, the approximately 400,000 women (mostly immigrants) who work in agriculture and face sexual harassment and rape in the field every day on the job. The women are afraid to complain for fear of losing a way to support themselves and their families. The basic and raw truth is that the Hollywood actresses who didn’t speak up about sexual harassment (or worse) for fear of being banned from the industry and these immigrant women have quite a bit in common.
What’s happening in the news is an out-picturing of society as a whole.
It would have to be.
Where else could an unresolved issue (within ourselves, our family, our workplace, or our circle) go besides out into the light? How else would something important yet undone get the attention needed to evolve and undergo radical change?
It would need to happen “out there” so that we realize the issue is in our own backyard.
Think about history for a moment. This wake up call, this “out into the light” phenomenon also happened in the auto-safety industry when lawyer Ralph Nader published “Unsafe At Any Speed” in 1965. He spoke up, and his whistle blowing changed the auto industry.
According to Ralph Nader, annual styling changes (chrome decoration and other trivial changes) took precedence over investment in engineering safety, fuel efficiency and pollution control. He accused car manufacturers of ignoring existing technology designed to save lives. His research showed that auto makers resisted the introduction of safety features such as seat belts and collapsible steering columns, which have since saved thousands of lives.
His controversial book hoisted the problem of auto safety smack into the light and over the next 50 years, things did change.
WHAT HARVEY AND MATT DID FOR ME.
There’s something I did personally as a result of the Hollywood hoopla. I wrote a letter to someone I haven’t seen or spoken to since 1971. I’ve had his address for years. I’m sure he wasn’t expecting a handwritten note from me and I wondered if he’d be willing to speak about an incident after all this time.
In the letter, I asked him to call me and he did. Immediately, in fact.
What occurred yesterday on the phone was the most healing conversation possible. I’ll spare you the details, but I can tell you our conversation lifted the roaring and the weeping into the light and we are both the better for it.
The most stunning part of the conversation for me was the realization that I had never considered any other interpretation of the event, other than the one I knew. I fully experienced that and, seriously, it blew my mind. Because my specialty in a consulting session is to see, explore and represent all sides of a question fairly, the conversation with this man unraveled something I’ve carried for 46 years.
This is what the Harvey’s and Matt’s and Kevin’s of the world will do for others. This is the good that can come from something dark or hidden that comes to the attention of the general public. And no, this doesn’t excuse those men, and it doesn’t make them heroes. Instead, they serve as a wake up call for the rest of humanity, plain and simple.
The actions of these Hollywood men prompted me to rise up and write a letter asking for a healing conversation in my own world and I learned a great deal on that phone call.
This is how public wrongs have the potential to cause a wave of decency, love and respect. They can cause a waking up, an opening of hearts and minds. Wrongs can bring issues to light, and make them right.
I had the serious sniffles Thanksgiving week. Including on the big day itself. I know you can’t wait to hear what I learned.
It’s very, very quiet under the covers.
Being under the covers reminded me of years gone by, flashlights, camping and reading who knows what after lights out.
With Eric gone, and with MacKenzie and John residing on that other far away coast, not to mention my AirBnB visitors departing early, it was q-u-i-e-t around here.
You could only hear the mountain.
There was, of course, the occasional pitter patter of Jackson’s little feet scurrying across the hardwood floors or my cat “Business” purring or sighing as he slept next to me.
But mostly, I heard the quiet.
I must have needed that.
There was no music. No faraway voices murmuring in other rooms. No deliveries at the door. There were no phone calls, either, for which I was especially grateful. (I couldn’t speak without coughing.)
And hardly a text that required an answer.
All in all, unexpected heaven.
Days seem longer with nowhere to go, nothing to do.
Days seem longer when there is practically nothing to do. Have you noticed that?
The less you do, the more time you have — to be.
Have you tried it lately — doing nothing at all? Without planning to? With no one around?
But on (or was it near?) Thanksgiving Day (it’s all a blur) I couldn’t read a novel. Or check Facebook/social media. Or watch Netflix. (My eyes weren’t up for any of that.)
At eleven am the first morning, I squinted at the clock over the top of my fluffy covers, thinking surely it was afternoon by then, but nope.
The day was in s-l-o-o-o-w motion.
Except for the fact that early in the week there was a raging bonfire in the back of my throat, while someone ran off with my lungs (which meant I couldn’t get out of the way of the truck that ran over me), slow motion was divine, perfectly divine.
But there’s no pie. (Drat.)
Thanksgiving and no pie? Oh dear.
By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I was eating again, and pumpkin pie sounded like quite a decent idea.
The only real food in my frig was Trader Joe’s Tomato soup in a box (minus two servings), and fresh chicken noodle soup from Earth Fare (half gone).
My daughter once told me about the time she walked into her kitchen and became instantly depressed when she realized there was nothing to eat because her kitchen was full of ingredients.
Now I understood perfectly.
What do you eat for breakfast when you’re sick?
When I was young, at some point during every Iowa winter, our bustling household of seven became an infirmary. My mother did two things.
She made a tent by draping a wool blanket over something taller than seated children, and herded all five of us under it in our flannel nighties and pj’s to breathe the wondrous, healing vapors of Vicks.
It did feel good to our lungs, I must say.
Brand new nighties and pj’s were made by grandma Stella every year at Christmas and we were wild about them. We figured she was the best grandma in the whole wide world if she could make nighties snuggly enough to make us forget about the cold.
(It was cold in our bedroom! Single pane windows did their best to hold heat that came up through one hallway register (for the entire upstairs) from the wood stove below. The fire below died down overnight, which mean that on a night somewhere between zero and 10 or 20 below, which it was often in those days, it was very cold by morning until my father tended the fire. Getting dressed for school on winter mornings was exciting to say the least.)
We girls (or was it only me?) were in awe of how Grandma made each flannel gown. We’d examine the impeccable stitches, how she joined seams expertly, and how the inside of our nightgowns was just as beautiful as the outside.
Grandma always found the thickest, softest flannel and we loved the prints she chose. The two boys got handsome pajamas, and the three girls got long nighties with piping or trim around the yokes, perfectly stitched buttonholes, and ruffles at the wrist, with elastic just right, never too tight.
There was also a big ruffle around the bottom of the nightgown. We felt so lucky!
But I digress.
In our jammies, under the wool tent, we breathed in the Vicks vapors coming from Mom’s pan of hot steaming water. That was a frequent ritual if we were sick.
The other thing Mom would do during infirmary week is make us soft-boiled eggs and homemade toast with butter, which we loved dearly.
To this day, that is the only breakfast I can eat when I’m under the weather. Of course, I went to the trouble of making myself soft-boiled eggs and toast with butter on Thanksgiving Day.
Even when you’re sick, the dog still needs a walk. (Ugh.)
That’s a tough one, mostly because I live on a mountain and the first part of the road heads up, up, up before it goes down, down, down.
Since my body was running cold, I donned a winter coat, hat and scarf and ventured out.
Slowly. Timidly. Hesitantly.
Even on the worst day, I managed to muster up enough energy for a short walk with Jackson, and he seemed to understand. He ran ahead and played patiently, smelling everything along the way. When I caught up, he’d repeat.
Finally, when I’d had spent every bit of energy I had, he knew the moment exactly, turned around and headed back.
What a smart boy. He sure knows his mama.
Hush-Hush from Eric, even.
Eric has been checking in pretty regularly. Ahh, but not on Thanksgiving! Or any time during the week as far as I could tell.
Instead, I’ll give you the pre-Thanksgiving visitation report.
Eric knows I’m a fan of variety, so one day he blinked the light over my dinner table. Has it happened before or since? Nope. Just once. A small hello from the electrician and yes, it caught my attention and made me laugh.
Another day, he notified me that there was something I might want to see outside my front door. Here’s how it went.
I was cleaning up dishes in the kitchen and my phone blurted a noise — like a darn doorbell — how’d he do that?!?
My phone doesn’t have that notification sound, and it was loud. It was so perfect that for a moment I couldn’t figure out if it was my phone or the actual doorbell.
Obediently, I went to the front door, and what did I see?
There before me was a BEAR, roving around my car. I watched him from inside for a while, and then stepped out on my porch to take a few photos and feel what it was like to be eye-to-eye with this guy.
He looked me over. I looked him over.
I don’t know what he thought about me, but I thought his glossy coat covering a fine set of muscles was pretty impressive as he ambled slowly down my driveway and back into the woods.
“Nice to have a door right behind me,” I thought as I thanked Eric for the unique bear notification method and slipped back into the house.
But on Thanksgiving, no word from Eric as far as I could tell. How thoughtful of him to allow me to continue my silent retreat.
Maybe he was off in another Universe trying his wings at something new. Go, honey!
I must have needed a vacation from humans.
I didn’t know. I had no idea.
(You, too, perhaps?)
Since I didn’t schedule a retreat, and clearly needed one, the Universe took care of it. I must say the surprise element of my sudden vacation was a big factor in my enjoyment.
In any case, my world served up this day and this week just for me, to have all to myself. That’s what I love about the Universe. It always has my back.
I’m so thankful!
The ever-blessed Ellen Winner showed up on my porch the next day dressed as a cornucopia (kidding) with a post-Thanksgiving delivery of turkey, roasted veggies, cranberries, and yes, PIE! Thank you, Ellen!
And then! The day after the day after, she brought turkey soup which was beyond divine. I added nothing, nada, not even salt or pepper.
I’ll be back to my old self soon. I’ll be this happy —->
The week is almost gone, with no post from me! Oh, no!
I’ve been working on a couple of pieces of writing that aren’t ready for prime time, thus the delay. (Is it ready now? No. How ’bout now? Nope.)
I thought about giving you Thanksgiving dinner advice like “behave yourself” and then the hilarious visual of y’all attempting to do that made me fall off my chair laughing, plus the obvious fact that there’s no way I could follow the advice myself.
Or I could tell you “don’t eat so darn much” (right, that’s gonna happen).
But I couldn’t follow that advice, either, nor would I want to, since that would oppose the very idea of Thanksgiving.
I can only tell you that if you’re in the neighborhood of Hendersonville, NC, join me at Brightwater Yoga the day after Thanksgiving.
On Friday, November 24 at 9:30 am there’s a special post-Thanksgiving class called “Yoga For Digestion” with (yoga goddess) Lynn Edgar.
Come early, it’s always a full class (pardon the pun).
So today, I’m offering my favorite yam recipe for Thanksgiving, one that has become a favorite of many solely because of yours truly (“Terri, you can come to Thanksgiving — and are you bringing those yams by the way?”)
They are unbearably delicious. And easy to make. A happy taste surprise in the middle of all that gravy.
ROASTED YAMS WITH LIME AND HONEY
About 4 lbs. of yams
1/2 cup water
6 T honey
4 T unsalted butter at room temp
juice of 4 limes
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Directions: Oven 350 degrees. Wash the yams and place in baking dish with 1/2 cup water. Bake until the potatoes are soft and the skins puffy, about 1-1/2 hours, give or take, depending on the size of the yams. Poke them and check for softness. (You’re going to mash them so you don’t want them slightly firm as you would if you were going to cube them.)
After they’re done, set aside to cool a bit and leave the oven on.
When they are cool enough to handle, peel and place them in an oven proof dish that fits, and add the honey, butter, lime juice, salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher until everything is mixed well. Adjust seasonings if necessary. (Want it more tart? Add another lime…)
Cover with an ovenproof lid or foil and return to the oven for 15 to 20 min until heated through.
Enjoy! I’ll see you again the week after Thanksgiving.