Journaling – A Journey With Soul

Last week I was asked to write a guest post on journal writing by a wonderful woman who is an internationally known author, singer, and creative mentor who uses and teaches journal writing as a healing modality.  My post will be published on December 13th, but because it will be under my real name – and I write Anonymously here – I won’t be linking up.  However,  I can publish it here and now.  Because it had to be 600 words or less, I edited quite a bit out.  Maybe in the future I’ll expand on my own journal practice in future posts.


20161129_054136_resizedIn 1969, for my 12th birthday, I received my first “Diary”.  A hard-bound book covered in daisies, it contained pages of blank lined paper and,  most importantly, a lock and tiny key.

Diaries! That place where your secrets were kept, secrets needing to be protected from the watchful eyes of parents and snoopy little brothers.  I can still see myself laying on the bed, my bedroom door closed, filling pages with big loopy lettering made in No. 2 pencil. I wrote about other girls, first periods and first bras.  I poured out my heart when I wasn’t invited to a party.  I chronicled my parents fights, and that night I accidentally discovered them naked in the pool.

I wrote about boys.  A LOT!

There was something exciting about each new diary started.  They whispered of POSSIBILITIES. NEW BEGINNINGS.  FRESH STARTS.

I’m not sure when diaries became ‘journals’.  Little hard-bound books were eventually replaced by steno pads and spiral notebooks.  It didn’t matter what they were called, though.   That FRESH START feeling didn’t change.

In the 70’s, I wrote out all the angst and longing of a teenager that didn’t feel like she fit in and so desperately wanted to.  In the 80’s, my journal absorbed the crazy-hot desire of a single 20something trying to make her way in the world, where I often waxed poetic.  Words poured out of me, filling empty hours and a deep-rooted need for self-expression.  I wrote about other girls, who was dating who and the heartbreak of not being invited to a party.  I chronicled the liberation of not living under my parents’ roof.

And I wrote about boys.  A LOT!

It was after my first child was born in 1986 that my “Morning Time” was also born.  Working full-time, I found it easier to stay awake after his 5 am feeding than to go back to bed for an hour.  It didn’t take long before I discovered the treasures to be found in the quiet solitude of Predawn.  I would sit at the dining table with my coffee and journal, gazing out the window while body and mind awoke.  I watched the changing seasons of my life reflected in the big Maple tree in our backyard, and I wrote and prayed.  Intentions were set for the new day, my head and my heart purged, and blessings counted.  During the brief periods when I didn’t practice it, I felt the difference – and not in a good way.

30 years later, I can still be found in the wee hours with my journal and coffee although, thanks to menopause, it’s more like 3 a.m.  (I wrote through THAT, too!).   While the hour and view has changed, my journaling journey hasn’t.  It’s still the best friend ready to listen without judgment, the husband who never zones out, the psychiatrist who doesn’t requirement payment or an appointment. And perhaps, most profoundly, it’s the Ear of God that’s always Present.

After nearly 50 years, I’ve journaled my way through marriages, divorces, births, deaths, and more sorrows and joys than I can count. Most recently I wrote my way through a breast cancer diagnosis and 18 months of treatment.  Frankly, I don’t know how I would’ve survived without it.  Writing is healing.  It’s cathartic.  It’s revelatory.  It’s doesn’t care if I’m happy or scared, strong or weak, or blonde, bald or gray (smiling).

A journal is unconditional in its acceptance of all the Flawesomeness of my life.  All I have to do is show up – authentically and faithfully – to reap it’s magic:

The Alchemy of my Soul.

Enough Is Enough


Yesterday I needed to do a little grocery shopping. After thinking through what was needed to supplement what I already had for making meals for the next week, I visited three different stores looking for the best prices. I picked up Halloween candy, grapes and a cantaloupe, a huge package of chicken quarters and breasts, the big jug of the Coffee Mate my daughter uses and a jar of salsa  needed for the Taco Lasagna I was making for dinner.

And  paid for everything in quarters.

Earlier, I had sent ou a big THANK YOU for the change jars my husband and I both keep that produced $30 dollars.  It would be enough.

Mumbling something to the cashiers about garage sales and not wanting to lose money in “fees” at the CoinStar, I managed to stave off most of my embarrassment at piling up the coins for payment (and was particularly relieved when no one was behind me in line.)

There is money in the account for rent and a couple of bills needing to be paid before next payday.  There’s a $100 bill in the change jar that I can use for groceries or gas. And, in case of an emergency, there’s always  credit cards.  So it’s not like we are destitute.  I don’t expect we’ll even be late on anything.  But it felt better to use the coins, to conserve what we have.

See, we are in on of those “In-between” season.  Having gone through our entire savings over the last 18 months while undergoing breast cancer treatment – and all that entailed  – we just happen to be in-between the time when money is so tight is squeaks, and some relief on the not-too-distance horizon. With careful planning, and a lot of God’s grace, we are going to make it through this time just fine.

Come December, and the last of 17 months of COBRA insurance payments will be made.  That’s $650/month.  My husband is expecting his annual bonus check come the first week in December, too.  And it looks like my part-time bookkeeping job is starting to give me more hours.   Fast forward another 7-8 months, and hundreds of dollars will be back in my husband’s paycheck when a 401K loan is paid off. So, all things being equal, by this time next year we “should be” in a much better place.

PLEASE. (smiling)

It’s having that relief in sight, and seeing every day miracles of provision, that keeps me from getting blue.  Actually, I am feeling a deep sense of heart-satisfaction and peace right now in spite of the squeeze.

Several years ago, I had this moment of clarity that broke my heart  AND filled me with the realization at just how short the human life really is.  I realized that an entire season  of my life was over – a major one! – never to be experienced again. I was staring my own mortality in the face.  How FAST it all went (even if, at the time, it didn’t feel that way)!  In a breath, it was gone – that Long-but-Short season of being a young, newly married woman creating her first home, bearing and raising two babies, and facing more years ahead of her than she did behind her.  So much promise and possibility in those years, even while I clipped coupons to stretch the food budget,  made trips to the pediatrician, and sewed costumes for school.

There was a lot of magic going on in those days, as I made “something out of nothing”.  I still have a binder full of recipes cut from magazines for using hamburger 50 different ways, and making casseroles out of  leftovers.

Even back then, being a two-income family was a necessity if one (a) arrangementswanted to stay off government assistance and (b) wanted to provide a decent (lower) middle class existence for a family. While in my heart I longed to be a stay at home mom, my pragmatism was what drove me.  I would rather have my kids safe and sound in the “extended family” environment of a good babysitter while I brought home the bacon, than to subject myself to food stamps and, them, to poverty just so I could “stay home”.  As it turned out, I was a job creator myself, providing the income for another mom to stay home, while bringing home money and health benefits for my entire family.  In retrospect, it was worth the trade-off.  My kids didn’t suffer.  They were loved, and knew they were loved, by not only me and my husband but by a “village”, so to speak.

Can a child EVER experience too much love?

Boy, there were some tough at times, to be sure.  Sure, we made do with nice second-hand furniture, and help from my parents.  When the second baby came 15 months after the first, and expenses doubled, I truly didn’t know where the money would come from for childcare, pediatrician visits, diapers, formula and clothing for two little growing bodies.

There were many many mornings before work spent in prayer and a lot of tears.  There were also sublime moments of gratitude and overwhelm when “things worked out”.  We never went without anything important.  It might come in at the last-minute, but the money was always there to pay the mortgage, or to buy food  or to put gas in the cars.  We even had a little extra for pizza on the weekends, something special for the kids on their birthdays, and goodies under the tree from Santa.

Later, as a single mom of two teenagers, there wasn’t  money for college but both my kids have held jobs since their teen years, and have since grown in their respective careers.  Now – at 29 and 30 – they are wonderful people and productive members of society.

With a lot of hard work, and even more of God’s grace, we made it.

Fast forward to today.  There are three generations under our roof again, having banded together for a season because we can all do better together than we can do apart right now.  Once again there are “children” to care for.  A family to cook for and nurture.  A child’s laughter and wonder to experience on a daily basis.  It’s like I am experiencing a renaissance of my Motherhood years…something I thought was long gone.

Here I am again, cutting coupons and looking for creative ways to make “cheap” cuts of meat taste yummy.  (Which is an oxymoron these days.)  I am being extra careful to use up, reuse, make do, and make sure to shop smart – and, where appropriate – in quantity again.  It’s not easy, with 3 adults and 1 growing boy.  There are some challenges when adult children move back in.  My house isn’t as neat and quiet as it was before a 7-year-old lived here full-time.  But Oh! It’s been satisfying on SO many levels!  Deep and heart wrenchingly so, as this time around, at 60 years old, I am so much more mindful of the fragility and fleeting preciousness of life here on Earth.

Ok, so I kinda swallowed my pride, put on a “face”, and used quarters yesterday.  BFD!  No harm was done to me in the making of those purchases…except for, maybe, my ego.  The Taco Lasagna was delicious, the rent check is in the mail, and my grandson had a wonderful Halloween treak-or-treating and handing out the candy that Grandma bought earlier in the day.  $15 worth of the good stuff.  Peanut Butter cups, Tootsie Pop suckers, and malted milk balls.  YUM.

Just like my kids back in the day, he hasn’t a clue there are medical bills  to be paid.  He has no concept of the exorbitant and ever-increasing cost of living that is crushing the middle class. All he knows is he is safe, warm, well cared for, and well-loved.  The adults in his life are – collectively – providing everything he really needs.  (Even if Mom DOES have to say “No” to buying the 37th wrestling action figure…at least, for now).

And so, I find myself frequently choked up and on the verge of tears as I witness God – again and still – miraculously providing for us.  For example, I wrote my floral design teacher to tell her I couldn’t make  this next session because I didn’t have the material fee, and hoped my course fee could be applied for a future class when things were a little better.  She told me to come anyway.  To come in early, in fact, so we could chat.  I left class Saturday with a beautiful arrangement, a bag of pumpkin seeds to roast, and a heart full of love for her.

Then there was last Friday, when I went “Treasure Hunting” at the Good Will to pass some time, and found the most adorable top for my daughter  ½ off – a whopping $2.99.  It ended up being the “perfect” thing for her to wear to a big family reunion she was going to.  It fit like a glove.

bowl-of-pomsMy husband does a little handyman “side work” for a rancher friend, and ended up coming home Saturday with a HUGE bag of pomegranates (so many I gave some to a friend), a ton of fresh beef (4 lbs. Of ground and a nice looking roast), and a crisp $100 bill!

It’s really mind-blowing, sometimes.  In the very middle of a difficult season, I feel such gratitude.  Such JOY.  It’s like a deep river of satisfaction and peace running through my belly, holding me steady and refreshing my soul.  I feel it when I peel carrots and potatoes for a big pot of stew, knowing the family will smell it as they come in the door, hungry and tired after a long day at work.  I am awash with it as I fold my grandsons clean clothing, or witness his excitement at a freshly carved and lit Jack O’ Lantern or hear him tell how he made Super Student at school – again! – this week.

Seasons come and go. Good times and bad.  Hard times and easy ones.  Abundant times and slim pickings times.   Healthy times, and not.  For everything thing, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

And, if  you’re lucky, some seasons actually come around again.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear….for your Father knows that you have need of these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.”  Matthew 6:25, 32-33




Interview With An Alien

conference room

I’ve been around for awhile.  I’ve gone a few places, done a few things, met a lot of people. Hundreds of 1000s over the course of my lifetime, probably.  I’m a real people person, and one of my favorite things is to connect with people who are different from me.

For example, I spent almost 20 years combined in the aerospace and semiconductor industries.  These years afforded me the opportunity to speak with and work with people from all over the world:  Spain.  Ireland.  France.  Germany.  Italy.  Various countries in Asia.

These were lengthy F2F interactions, not truncated virtual ones like experienced on Social Media.  Some of my all-time favorite occasions were the meals.  Potlucks and business lunches, client dinners and corporate parties.  There’s something about breaking bread and raising glasses together that really helps you get to know the people you hang with.

My favorite drinking buddies were from the UK.  The ones best for my ego were the handsome, flirty dudes from Italy.  (Bella!)  I loved smoking cigs and chatting with the French, but for some reason, they tended to have the worst body odor  which even the smoke couldn’t cover up.  My time with them was usually kept at a minimum…or a distance.

And then there were the Germans.  Ah, the Germans. Ich liebe dich, meine Freunde! We looked liked each other.  We shared the same temperament, the same sense of humor.  Occasionally, the same hair.


Albert Einstein (Photo Credit: Unknown)

But professional experience aside, I’m an avid people watcher. Not just the kind done while sitting outside, maybe enjoying a coffee with a friend, talking smack and keeping an eye on the passerbys.

I mean, I WATCH people.  I observe them, carefully, like I would a creature under the microscope, or if I was a detective on a case.  I do this even with people I’ve known for years.

Humans are pretty fascinating, and I often wonder if most of them know just how revealing they are.  How much information they put out.  Not just by what they say, but by what they do.  Their body language.  The words they choose, and the words they don’t.   Sometimes I think it’s what people don’t say…what they don’t do…that speaks the loudest about who they are.

And then, there are the eyes.  The proverbial “windows to the soul”.

My Eyes

My Eyes

Eyes are amazing, and can reveal so much about someone.  They show emotion.  They speak of intellect. Interest.  Shadiness.  Illness.  Deceit.

Ever talk to someone who didn’t look you in the eye when you were speaking?  It’s SO annoying.  Makes me wonder what they are hiding, or hiding from. Eyes give clues.  If you know what to look for, you can – with a high degree of accuracy – determine if someone is being dishonest, or  tapping into a memory, or accessing their feelings.

And really, there’s nothing better than having a great conversation with someone who looks at you straight on. It lets you know that they are engaged and listening. To listen, you have to be Present and being Present IS a gift.

Which brings me to the reason I’m writing today.

This past Monday, I spent 45 minutes with a young woman who, I swear, was one of the most unusual human beings I’ve ever met.  So unusual, in fact, that it was hard to keep focused on our conversation because I was so busy watching her watch me.  I kept thinking, “This is weird.  Her eyes.  They don’t move.  They don’t quiver, even when she speaks.  Why does she look at me like that, like…like… an alien.”

Seriously! I used that word: ALIEN. And I wasn’t on medication or anything!

Tall, lean, and pretty – with long blond hair parted on the side – her name was Shannon.  I’m guessing in her late 20s, Shannon was articulate, professional and thorough.  I was there to interview for a volunteer position that sounded smack in my wheel house:  12-15 hours a week handling social media, blogging, taking photographs for their online resale store, doing event marketing….

Since I haven’t landed a new paying job yet, I thought perhaps volunteering might be the direction to go.  The opportunity certainly read like something I’d enjoy doing, and for a non-profit organization I have a lot of respect for.

Anyway, Shannon greeted me in the lobby and escorted me to a simply furnished conference room.  We sat down and I decided to pick the chair closest to her, on the end. The first thing I noticed about her was her physical energy.  She moved with a level of stillness I’m not accustomed to, as if no effort were being exerted. A dichotomy, right?  Still motion?  And quiet.  Her whole being exuded quiet and calm.  She barely moved and when she spoke, her voice was pleasant, well modulated and measured.  Almost robotic in it’s lack of certain inflections.

But it was her eyes that captivated me.  Large, bright blue irises ringed with a darker color and fringed with thick lashes, there were several occasions when I found myself checking to make sure she was blinking. I have to be honest, it was slightly unnerving and I don’t unnerve easily.  In all my life, with all of the conversations I’ve had, I’ve never met anyone – especially someone so young – who displayed such absolute, intent focus.  It was like she was looking into me, as well as at me.  Not in a hostile or threatening way.  She just sat so motionless, and spoke, and looked. Watching.  Like “staring”, without any  rudeness.

I literally breathed a sigh of relief when she finally blinked, and even  laughed a little.  And when she took her eyes off of me a time or too, I thought, OK….maybe she’s a human after all.  But then, BOOM! She’d be right back with her lazer beams on me again.   A female Spock in a t-shirt, cardigan and jeans.

When it came time to leave, I was graciously led back to the lobby in that still-motion kinda way.   We shook hands.  She said she appreciated my time and talents, still had others to interview, and told me that I’d hear later this week if I got the gig.

Several days later and my meeting Shannon is still haunts me.  Not a big “alien abduction” type,  I do believe there must be life “out there” from a purely “mathematical probability” standpoint, if nothing else. And why wouldn’t our beautiful Blue Planet be a likely destination location for some of them?  I’ve read the stories, and some theories…..conspiracy and otherwise…. of Off-Worlders cohabitating with us human types.  Hell, some of them are reported to be working with and in our own government, if Cory Goode can be believed.

The idea of alien life forms fascinates me and has been part of my consciousness forever.  I am of the generation of the original Star Trek and Lost In Space TV shows.  I stood in line for hours up in Hollywood to see the first Star Wars movie in 1977 (with a major crush on Hans Solo).  And yeah, I’ll admit it.  There have been times when, late at night or early predawn hours, I’ve stared up at the stars – wondering who was out there and secretly longing to meet them.

The Good Guys, that is.

Could it true?  Did I’ve finally meet one?   Did I experience First Contact? Shannon certainly fit the bill physically for a race called the Pleiadians, and her vibe was the most unusual I’ve ever encountered.  She beamed all good things – peace, awareness, altruism.  Even her name means, “Ancient Wise One”.

Whew!  Lots to think about….

I gotta go now.  I got hooked on a show I discovered last week on Amazon Prime and I’m pretty  obsessed with it – staying up late into the wee hours to watch episode after episode until I’m blurry-eyed.  With only a few more episodes to watch of the last season, the storyline is a real cliff hanger:  A post-apocalyptic epic where the Human Race is fighting for their very existence and for Lexi_Alexis_Glass-Mason_S4Planet Earth.  Falling Skies, it’s called.  One of the characters, Alexis, just gave her life to save her family.  Well, her human family.  She was a blonde haired, bright blue eyed half-breed with superpowers…The biological product of an multi-species take over agenda by some real Bad Dudes.

Those eyes….they look a lot like those of my girl, Shannon.