Not on Any Map

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This quote from Moby Dick came to mind when I took out a map of the world with the intention of marking all the places I have worked and traveled. Truly grateful for having gone places I never thought I would, I am also keenly aware that the most transformative places I have been are not on any map.

This awareness, more than any other, helps me to look at other people with reverence and gentleness, even those people I don’t understand, agree with, or particularly like. Who could chart their journey through sadness, loss, love, discovery, disappointment, and change?

“Tread softly

For this is holy ground

Could we see with seeing eyes

The place we stand on is paradise”

– Christina Rossetti

It Was Never About How I Looked

So much personal pain comes from concern over how others judge our appearance. No one is immune: beautiful women afraid of aging, rich men afraid of going bald, men and women who think they are too fat, or too dark, or too pale, or too thin, or too flabby, or too short, or too tall, or too different. Teens worrying about acne, cancer patients about the obvious ravages of disease, amputees about deformities, and most of us, about genetic deficiencies. Yet, I am finally accepting that…


It was never really about how I looked

Even though I thought it was

Or you thought it was

Or everyone said it was

It was really about how I looked at others


In fact, if I had looked as good as I wished I looked

My arrogance may have poisoned the air

Or made others feel bad or unworthy or scared they weren’t enough

It was really about how I looked at you

And how I made you feel


And It was really never about how you looked

When I chose you for my friend, lover, or confidant

It was about how you looked at me

And made me feel as though I was enough


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Did Someone Say “Mortality?”

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It’s difficult to get our head around it

We think we have lots of time

We think we will not fade after the flash

We think we are more than a flicker


When our friends start to fall off the planet

Or when we see ourselves start to fade (and no effort to change that succeeds)

We panic or despair

Even though those before had known and warned us

We would only live in the flicker

We had forgotten

As we had forgotten until now

That we were flying through space at one thousand miles an hour

Kill Joy?

I hate to confess this, but I was cranky about attending an event because I knew I would see people there who would notice that I was fatter and older. I guess I thought I would be the only one there who had aged or eaten and drank too much in the last ten years.

I wasn’t.

But, this whole waste of energy episode urged me to make and keep these commitments to myself:

  1. Don’t base my enjoyment of any gathering on how I look or how I think I look
  2. Quit trying to hold on to illusions that I can escape the ravages of age
  3. Remember that the gift I bring to any gathering is enjoying others (versus trying to impress others)
  4. Be aware that comparisons to other people for the purpose of patting myself on the back or chiding myself will always kill joy
  5. Recognize that my favorite people have kind hearts, good minds, and ready smiles (versus any other superficial criteria)

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Irrelevant or Not?

I cringe to think about all the important people I have arrogantly ignored, shunned, or dismissed.

And I acknowledge that treating anyone as if their existence is irrelevant has consequences. Among the victims, I am the biggest loser.

  • I missed meeting children, laborers, teens, and workers in menial jobs who had great minds and astounding futures.
  • I missed learning from those who wrote truth in sci-fi, fantasy, rap, and country music.
  • I missed being enlightened by the accomplishments and experiences of those who were decades older than me.
  • I missed wisdom from other religions, cultures, parties, and belief systems.
  • I missed growing in the understanding and depth that can only come from fully appreciating those who may appear unworthy of appreciation.

Doing those things made me irrelevant.

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Ready for It?

Who knows what today will bring?

Often we expect one thing and get another. Or, we get that unexpected call that jolts or catapults us into a warp zone.

I want to be ready today for whoever or whatever calls.

That requires mental preparation:

  • A belief that I am equal to what life requires of me
  • Certainty that life will push me to my highest level of competence…and no farther
  • Confidence that I am not alone
  • A data base of inspiration from those who refuse to live as a victim



(Ideas originally posted in 2014 here. I don’t usually blog on the weekends, but recycle blogs that are helpful to me and may still be helpful to someone else.)

Before We Bash


Before we bash the leaders of the election debacle for everything under the sun, we might consider getting off our high horse long enough to recall…

  • times we have slung our own share of mud at family members, exes, bosses, coworkers, neighbors, teachers, and cable companies
  • hyperbolic indictments we have made against rivals or merely those who disagreed with, or contradicted us
  • grudges we have held
  • bridges we have burned
  • blame and shame we have passed around like a virus
  • reputations we have tarnished with adolescent-like gossip

After all, the debacle would not be happening if we “noble Americans” and humanoids were not such practiced and gullible targets for pathetically embarrassing and immature tactics.

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I detest the deafening static of the election as much as anyone, so I am not suggesting we should embrace it; only that we should look at the TV or computer screen carefully enough to see our own reflection staring back at us.

Where Did It Go?

Right before my sister’s body convulsed in the terrible grip of death, I received a gift from her learning-challenged son. He had been with me at her hospice bedside saying goodbye. After asking his mother to say hello to Elvis for him in heaven (which even garnered a wisp of a smile from her solemn, sedated face), he gave me his mother’s hand and said, “She’s gone. God took her with Him. Couldn’t you feel God here in the room?”

His confidence that she was no longer in that body has saved me from reliving the strange savagery of her end…over and over again.

I was reminded of this mystery of our souls’ departure by Temple Grandin’s story of Autism and her sensitivity to the death of animals. When the body of a euthanized horse collapsed, limp and empty, she asked about the spirit, “Where did it go?” 

Also in Elizabeth J. Church’s words about the heroin’s father’s death in The Atomic Weight of Love: “Where did all of that energy go? What happened to the bounty of his being, his love for us, for me?”

It’s an important observance and question. Those who see a bit differently often see more than the rest of us.



temple grandin quotes about animals


Honorable Question

Is there anything I can do to help?

After Earl Morse, a Veterans Hospital PA realized that many of his patients wanted to see the new war memorial in D.C. but would never make it there, he offered to fly with two veterans to the capital. Then he started recruiting pilots and volunteers to help with others. Today, joining groups with similar goals, Honor Flight has given honor and closure to well over 160,000 vets.

logo_headerWhat amazes me is that Honor Flight (as most other service organizations) started with the humble desire to do something, anything.

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

Criticizing or despairing could never unlock the magic this question does.

Always good to remember when the need around us breaks our hearts.

Have You Seen Them?

Feeling invisible made me feel the most hopeless. Having yet to learn to validate myself, I was always hoping that someone else would say that I was good for something. Few noticed my struggle to stay afloat in this sea of anonymity. They were, after all, too occupied dog-paddling themselves to safety.

Now that I can at least dog-paddle, I swim back, aware that words can be life-savers; aware of the millions who need to be seen and encouraged. Some won’t be rescued, but I can at least look long into the face of those who have painstakingly made it this far and acknowledge their beauty.

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The trick is seeing past our own faces…to theirs.

(On behalf of children, challenged adults, the poor, strangers, veterans, homeless, the oppressed, ostracized, and rejected.)