Tuesday, May 27, 2008

join me for Relay For Life!!

Relay for Life Holland will be held on June 13th and 14th at West Ottawa High School. I will be new to this adventure this year but have heard such great things about his event that I can hardly wait to get there! I have joined the West Ottawa team and am inviting you out there to join us.
Basically, everyone has to raise $100, and we take turns walking thwe track for 24 hours to earn our pledges. Fun, food and fellowship will abound!
If you are interested please follow these simple steps:

Go to the website www.relayforlifeholland.com

Click on Join a Team and follow the steps.

Then, got to the Particpant Center and click on the Personal Page Icon and customize your page. Add a photo and tell others the reason why you Relay. It seems like we all know someone who has battled cancer--let's get their names and pics out there, too.

Or, ask them to walk the Survivor's Lap, which will be at 6pm on the 13th. I will be walking with friends and colleagues who are cancer survivors and we would love to have more join us. Contact me if you have questions: 616-786-1894.

Thanks, All.

Monday, May 26, 2008

symbols of peace and harmony for you

the Mighty MO

On Saturday my friend Kathy took me to the cemetary where her dad, Ralph Martinus, is buried, and I had the pleasure of meeting him, or at least his spirit. I have heard a lot about him from Kathy and he sounds as though he was quite a guy.  He was in the Navy.  My dad Tom was also in the Navy, as was my Uncle Jack and my Uncle Larry.  My dad was on the Battleship Missouri, also known as the Mighty Mo. He has a great portrait of her at the house, and when I grew up, I loved looking at it. My dad looked handsome in his sailor blues and all three boys had their military portraits hanging in my grandparents' house. I often wonder if his love of maritime stories (and mine, for that matter) comes from the time he served as a young officer on that huge ship.  

It has been a good weekend, with the weather finally feeling like spring and the warm sun shining. I built a little wall around my garden and I have my friends to thank as usual--Carolyn provided the little paver bricks, Bobbi helped me haul them and Kathy helped to dig up the dirt and put them in.  A friendship wall. It warms me to look at it.

Also bookended my Sunday with Mark and Reggie...breakfast at I-Hop and dinner at my house.  Mark made some monster grilled asparagus and we watched an inspiring documentary about a teacher. 

In between, I got out on the golf course with the girls and am thrilled to tell you that there didn't seem to be much difference for me between golf with two eyes and golf with one. Honestly, I was hoping I'd be able to keep my eye on the ball better, but alas, no such luck. Not one bit better. But oh, it was such fun!


I was mezmerised by this video that I found while browsing blogs tonight so here it is for your amusement. how weird! and it just keeps going, on and on and on. no "play" button. just an endless loop. yikes.  

Sunday, May 25, 2008

one year ago..

A year ago tomorrow was my wedding day. Had we not called it off after our disasterous spring break in San Antonio (scene of the Alamo-and we stayed at a hotel that used to be the jail--that pretty much paints the picture), I would be out buying an anniversary card for Dave. Or not. Sometimes I think that is overly optimistic. 
I met Dave on eharmony and we were together for a little over two years. We had hideous fights in all the best places: Minneapolis, Sante Fe, Denver, Tuscon, Milwaukee, chicago.....even the wilds of the UP. We had sleepless nights at all  the best hotels.  We bought lots of cards for each other which described our endless love for each other, and we slammed doors and screamed into telephones and I cried more tears than I thought you could produce.  We saw therapists, read spiritual guides and psychological profiles.  We even consulted the Enneagram, trying to determine how a fearful 6 like him and a bossy 8 like me could find lasting happiness.  We wrote beautiful, spiritual vows, hired a hip minister, rented the coolest house on the beach and hired the caterer. I had a beautiful wedding dress waiting in the closet.
Peachy flowing bridesmaid's dresses for Annie and Sarah.  Nifty pinstripes from Banana Republic for the boys.  Annie worked on artistic invitations.
After it all went to hell, we decided that we would somehow stay together and see what happened. It was kind of like the movie Frankenstein--the one with De Niro,  when Dr. Frankenstein takes his dead fiance and attaches her beautiful dead head to another body and re-cooks her and then they have that gruesome dance scene when he is smiling frantically (he is utterly mad at this point, of course and saying to her, "remember? remember???" 
Anyway, we spent the wedding weekend at the beach house. What an appetite for pain we had.
By the way, for the exact hour that the ceremony was to take place, there was a torrential downpour. We sat and watched it and I cried and cried. Dave politely got after me for leaving my kleenexes all over the place.  We had an unwedding night.
The next morning, a young deer appeared on the edge of the water. He had gotten separated from his mother and appeared to either be exhausted or injured. We couldn't get too close to him, and didn't know what to do, so Dave called the DNR and then the cops but no one was interested in a stray deer on the beach.  People walking the beach stopped to take pictures.  An hour went by.  Finally, in a burst of speed, he began to swim, moving farther and farther from the shore.  We watched him until he was out of sight. 
That evening, another beach walker told us that they had seen a dead deer on the beach up the shoreline a ways. I don't know if it was him.

Dave and I dated all summer and had an almost anticlimactic breakup in October. I will remember those months as an uneasy truce. We took a couple of trips and all went well, and then, the cracks began to appear....an explosion on our anniversary weekend in Saugutuck, and then the final bullet to the head prior to my birthday trip to Traverse City.  
To paraphrase Tom Waits, the music had stopped long ago, but we had kept trying to dance. That gruesome, sleeping, trancelike dance of denial, smiles plastered to our faces.

After the breakup, I went to DC, to Shambhala in Colorado, and Austin....I lost Miles and got Bella, got cancer and lost an eye, started this blog, reconciled with people who I thought I had lost, and learned a lot about myself, love, friends, happiness, art, and breathing.

Happy Memorial Day weekend...love to all of you out there in cyberspace. May your troubles be small and may you feel the sun on your faces today.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


My dear ex, Mark Hagar, has once again coordinated the Ride of Silence and I am giving him a shout out here for his hours and hours of hard work and devotion to this cause.  For those of you who don't know about it, this ride is what it sounds like- a silent ride which is in honor of bicyclists who have been killed while riding. My son Jon and his partner Vanessa rode in Austin.
There are 285 rides that all happen at the same time all over the world and it is growing every year. For more information check out their website at 


Here's a clip from Mark's interview with WZZM yesterday:

"People are taking their bikes out of the garage and bringing them into the bike shops to get them maintained because they're going to start communicating because they can't afford gas prices.  With more and more cyclists out there we need to make motorists and the public aware to please be careful because we are out there.  You need to share the road with us."

By the way, Vanessa (who is even cuter from the front) just bought a white Vespa to zoom around Austin in.  Jon dubbed it "The Vanespa."
Thanks to Mark for helping make our roads safer for cyclists. 

ah, love...

Hello, All,
I was looking through my blog a little while ago, especially the first part. This blog means so much to me, not only as a record of the events, but reading and looking through it makes me feel full (some would say "full of it":)), and lucky as heck.  Here is this woman who gets cancer and cracks up her car and has her eye removed after her stupid boyfriend dumps her, and what do we see? Incredible people who love her and look after her, not a small amount of good fortune, renewed connections from people from long ago, new connections with people I have met through this...all that was good in my life remains, and some crappy stuff has fallen by the wayside (mostly attitudinal in nature.) 
Lately I have renewed my membership in an online matching thing, and have communicated with a couple of men ("matches", in online dating parlance), and this has brought up the issue of how and when and if to talk about all of this to a potential date. The big issue for a long time has been the alcoholism--but I could always hastily add : "but I have been sober for 17 years", which very quickly turns a liability into an asset. Makes me sound all discliplined and mature, when truth be told, it has been more a matter of luck and stubbornness than anything else. On the second tier is the vegetarian Buddhism issue.  By now, the potential date is putting it together that I will not be going out for burgers and a beer after Mass with him.  Still, this might be appealing to the right tree-hugging boomer sort who maybe owned a  bong or at least tells people he was at Woodstock.
Now, I have this fake eye, and I am thinking that since a-this has been a very recent (and life-altering) experience, it seems odd NOT to bring it up, and b-it is a FAKE EYE, I need to be forthcoming and frank about it. On the other hand, I don't want to scare some great guy off (though how great would he be if this WOULD scare him off?? ) 
Today I told a handsome guy named Steve, via email, the main bullet-points, and I am at peace with whatever comes of that, because I have learned that this is the only thing to be done.  I learned from that last relationship, that long, laborious and often very painful one, that the greatest gift I can give myself and you is the truth. I didn't do that with him and it didn't work. Go figure. 
I don't know where I am going with all of this, except to tell you all that I love life, and though I would welcome a lovely man in to it, I am one happy woman right now, with things just as they are (ok, maybe minus a few pounds and wrinkles--truth, right?).  Let me tell you about my friends and family:  they are sterling people, and they love me real good, regardless of anything that might be present of absent in or on me.  I have been spoiled by this devotion. Lucky woman.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

bringing the Buddha to the gym

Hello, All,
Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending a Sock Hop at Waukazoo-Carolyn arranged it as a farewell party, and a great time was had by all, as you can see from the pictures.  I even got to teach the poor children how to do the Swim, the Jerk and the Pony (none of which caught on, by the way:)) Anyway, thanks to Carolyn for getting us all togehter. What a blast!

In other news, I returned to my old (really, really old) routine of going to the gym in the mornings.   Doing this requires me to get out of bed earlier and bypass the couch, coffee and reading that have characterized my mornings for some time, and I have been worried about letting go of this meditation/reflection time that has been so instrumental in staying centered and returning to a peaceful place on a daily basis through the thicks and the thins of the past few months. In the past, going to the gym has become sort of an obsession and I this is not what I am seeking anymore. My plan was to take my Buddha to the gym with me, by downloading my audiotapes by Thich Nhat Hanh and Pema Chodron, along with my favorite spiritual rock star, Krishna Das, onto my little music player and see how that worked out. Happy to say that it has been very interesting and engaging, at least so far. The variety has kept me engaged-this morning, for example, I listened to Tay talk about the spirituality of nature, Krishna Das chanting, Tom Waits singing a great funky love song, Pure Prairie League singing Amy, and Fleetwood Mac, among many others. I adjust the treadmill or exercise to suit the song, so every day is different.
Having said this, I can also say that I have had some pretty significant ups and downs over this past week or so. There are days when my experience with my eye and cancer are very much at the forefront of my mind and I wish with all my heart that I could have my old eye back. When there is self-consciousness it is hard to be content.  Thankfully, these days are followed by more days of joy and contentment.  This is the way of life for all of us, of course.  Thanks to the people in my life for carrying me along.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


mother's day post

All day I have been mulling over motherhood....and it has been such a day! The rain made the house seem so cozy and I spent time blogging, editing photos, reading and cooking a pot of red lentil and sweet potato curry soup which was the perfect lunch. I got to the beach with bella this evening and took in the breathtaking light and the clear air as the sun peeked out after the rain stopped. A day when gratitude is easy to find.
Several good girlfriends are feeling discouraged, frustrated and just plain rejected by their adult children today.  One daughter has left the home and is worrying her mother sick with casual comments about potential pregnancies and bad drugs. Another is dealing with an angry son who doesn't support her as she moves away from a long and unhappy marriage. Still another sighs with relief that her daughter is moving to another town because she feels "eaten alive" by this girl's demands for time, support and money.  A fourth is estranged from her daughters and dreaded this holiday, as many do. I talked to a half-dozen middle-aged moms today, and the common theme seems to be "when does it end? When do I get sprung from this job?" Of course, the answer is, never.  
How do I feel about this weird holiday? Was it really invented by Hallmark Cards, like everyone says? Is it a good thing--other than for restaurants, flower shops and of course, Hallmark?  Do we really feel better if they call, and worse if they don't?
Jon gave money to the Burmese monks for me today and I am glad.  We are discussing how we can turn these questionable "holidays" into something more meaningful, more gratifying--to help us be mindful of all of our relationships with all other human beings. Can we find ways to honor all people-to be inclusive rather than divisive in our attention? Can we care more about those we have never met? 
If you are a mother, you know about this: the smell of a baby's head as he sleeps on your chest.
No card comes close to that.

Three months post-op today.




Wednesday, May 7, 2008

5000 year old artificial eye!

"Archeologists in Iran recently found the skull of a woman nearly 5000 years dead with a prosthetic eye made of tar and animal fat intact in her eye socket.
According to experts, this was a wealthy woman in her late 20's, probably royalty, which would explain why she had clay vessels, ornamental geads, a leather sack and a bronze mirror in the grave with her.  A California optometrist guesses that the soman wore the fake eyeball for aesthetic purposes..."from a blog by Lisa Katayama

morris louis

Morris Louis was an American abstract expressionist painter who, like Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland, and many others in the 50's and 60's, developed new ways to apply large areas of color to canvases without the brushstroke (and often without the brush!) The result here is beautiful saturated soft color that I find beautiful and powerful. I share this as a place for you to take refuge from the grey cold of today.
The weather has got me curling up and the creative circulation slowing down.
Too tired to even write the list of things that I have to do.
Unless, of course, the list included things like this:

now, those things sound manageable today!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

hungry ghosts

Hungry Ghosts are are part of Buddhism's six realms of existence. I first read about them in Mark Epstein's book, THOUGHTS WITHOUT A THINKER. These gross little guys seem to represent intense craving and addiction. They have tiny little mouths and skinny necks, and they have hugely distended, big bellies.  They can never be full, never satisfied. 
They are hideous little things, appropriate images for addiction. I struggle with it every day and I believe that the root of all suffering is this kind of craving for more-than or other-than what we have and are at this moment. I am here, but I want to be there. I have this, but I want that.
I have this much, but I need  a little more.  I look at this image and I feel like I not only know these guys but may be related to them! :)
I am captivated by this Hungry Ghost thing and just had to share.

What a beautiful day. Spring really is here.
Happy Tulip Time, all.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Things falling apart

It was a weekend of company-Annie home from Chicago and a dinner party on Sunday night to celebrate the birthdays of two of Holland's most wonderful men-Ken Freestone and Mark Amenta, both born on Cinco de Mayo some years ago.  My beautiful new friend Tina made Thai Curry and Vali, this gorgeous woman from Venezuela and Tina's friend, brought incredible cheesecake. My old friend Marilu Andree was here, too, and it was a lovely time. Mark was so funny-in rare form telling us stories. Kenny played with his gifts. Lorma looked beautiful in her shawl. I am one lucky lady having friends such as these.
Two other very dear friends are going through all kinds of very hard stuff right now and I have been thinking of a passage from Pema Chodron's book, WHEN THINGS FALL APART.  It goes like this:

"Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing.  We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't reallly get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again.  It is just like that.  The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. 
When we thing that something is going to bring us pleasure, we don't know what's really going to happen.  When we think something is going to give us misery, we don't know.  Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all.  We try to do what we think is going to help.  But we don't know.  We never know if we're going to fall flat or sit up tall.  When there's a big disappointment, we don't know if that's the end of the story.  It may just be the beginning of a great adventure."

I have learned in my life that when things fall apart my life gets bigger, sometimes uncomfortably so, but that this is invariably good news.   Anything that disrupts my cocoon living is to be welcomed, even as I kick and scream and freak out.  I am holding these friends so close to my heart, and of course watching the pain they are enduring is difficult, but the sun will rise tomorrow and maybe we will be there to feel its warmth. The rest is temporary stuff that will pass.  

This is my hundredth post and I actually have hesitated to write because people like my friend Susan have done such cool things on their 100th and I just felt paralyzed trying to come up with something anywhere near as good.  I had to let go of that ambitious idea because I just couldn't think of anything.  What occurs to me now is to just to paraphrase my friend Jungle Jon, who says that when we have the gift of really seeing our lives clearly,  the only possible response we can have is gratitude. 

With gratitude for all of you-and love,


Thursday, May 1, 2008

jack's book (FUN BEING ME)

I found Jack's book waiting for me on the doorstep yesterday. Words fail me as I try to talk about it and of course this means that it is what I hoped it would be, which is a type of communion, like all good art is. A way of being deeply touched and involved, pulled in to the heart of things. My tolerance for the ring of falseness is at an all-time low these days. My sense of urgency to live hard is driving me to embrace things like Andy Warhol's image of someone diving off a building, mangled in a car crash, Jack's poems. To be able to see the beauty of all of this without turning away. I don't mean to be one of those rubber-neckers who can't resist a look as they drive by. I mean, to not be afraid to be in the middle of it all.  To lean into it, rest within it.  We madly seek ways to avoid discomfort when it is the stuff of life, what moves us forward and makes us real.  We drink and shop and visit the therapist and try to assure ourselves that all the bad stuff will go away. Artists stick it back in our faces.

Pema Chodron tells us a story about her childhood friend who was being chased by monsters every night in a recurring dream.  Pema asked her what the monsters looked like. Her friend responded that she didn't know-she was too busy running to see them. So, the next night, she did turn around, and what she saw was not the terrifying visage she imagined, but flat, inchoate, almost cartoonlike images, silly, almost.  She never had the dream again.  

Here is that poem I told you about from his blog. One last poem for poetry month.


Last night there was an imp in my bed.
Well, not really an imp;
a small demon, I guess.
I woke up and must have frightened it
because it scurried off to hide in the shadows.
But I saw it,
The coor of a young roach.
Then it was gone.

There was a time such things were with me daily.
Demons and imps and shrouded ghouls.
Lingering by my bedside as I lay sleeping,
dreaming horrible dreams of a good life.
A life where I had a job and friends and ate food
in restaurants.
A life filled with nice clothing and cars.
People who laughed at my jokes and forgave my foibles.
The demons watched me twitch in sleep and giggled
at my travails.

I was very sick for a time.
I came so close to death that it seemed almost like I was dead.
I spent much too much time with demons and angels.
I ate too little and slept too little and sweated through the night.
I woke each morning drenched from my dreams.

I haven't been sick for years.
Not like that anyway.
Oh, a flu now and then or a sore throat,
but that's been it.
Til the imp leaped up
and licked my face.

Perhaps they never left.
Perhaps I'm still desperately ill.
This is the dream I dream.
My car, my dogs, my new suits, my beloved.
All just fodder for their little jokes.
There should be an insecticide for demons and imps.
There should be some kind of poison I could set out
for them to find and eat.
It might be unpleasant to find their swollen little bodies but
except for a day or two of stink it would be better to have them gone.

But it seems to me that there is no poison that they wouldn't love.
No death they couldn't cherish.
No desire or whim that wouldn't amuse them.
Dreams and imps.
Poisons and wishes.
All things to think about as we kneel at the foot of the bed
to say our little prayers.

thanks, jack.