Who do you know yourself to be? 

Over the last few days I’ve reviewed almost 20 years of journals dating back to 2000.

What stands out to me is how much of the expression of the earlier years feels protective. Protective of me, careful of others and designed to evoke certain feelings in the reader. (I’ve always written with the reader in mind.)

It helps me to see those old entries and remember that I was a child.


Dream, 11/12/17

We were at dinner: my parents, Mari, Daryl, Nick, Mel and I. We were in a relatively dark restaurant/bar, in a building that was rather labyrinthine, and the meal was ending when the idea emerged that we should head to the roof to watch the incoming lightning.  We got up, and walked single file behind the bar.  I was the last person in line, behind Mel.  By the time Mel and I reached the stairs, we had fallen behind enough that we couldn’t tell if they’d gone up the stairs or down.

It occurred to us that perhaps we should check down first.  We descended the stairs, only to find the ceiling got closer and closer.  Were the floors smaller in height?  (I believe so, though I never checked).  By the time we were very near the bottom, Mel and I had to crouch and crawl.  We decided they weren’t headed in that direction.

We started the ascent, and quickly rose to the top.  We opened a hatch onto the roof, which revealed that we were on a platform six foot wide and six foot long.  There were two other young women on the roof already, but none of my family.  I looked out to the horizon and saw my family together on another roof, some 100 yards away.  Their platform was closer to 25′ by 25′.  Much safer, it seemed, to have that much surface area on which to move around.  All around us, water.  Dark water came up to the height of the platform. We were, effectively, an island.

I was perplexed:  We must have missed a turn.  How did we leave from the same place and wind up 100 yards away?  I wasn’t fearful of the water, though the distance between us and them seemed vast.  The limited area of the roof made me nervous and I was confused by the immensity of the water:  why the windows of the restaurant, which ought to be below us, didn’t look out into water.  And then I was puzzled that perhaps there weren’t any windows.  I could tell that the members of my family were moving around, pointing at things, looking into the distance, marveling.

I looked up for lightning, saw a small arm crack across the sky far away.  Had the distinct feeling like maybe we’d missed it, or it had moved on pretty substantially.  Mel explored the rooftop and the other two women mostly chatted between themselves, despite our close quarters.  They seemed as though they were readying to go back inside.

My stepsister noticed us.  She seemed to indicate to the others that she was coming over, but they didn’t pick up on it.  She started walking, and she walked on the water’s surface.  She did not get wet.  She was in no danger.  She walked fairly calmly, and I watched as she came over as though walking across water was a normal thing to do.

I knew the water was cold, but not frigid.  I knew it was hundreds of stories deep.  I knew it stretched on to the horizon in basically every direction, though I never did turn around fully- perhaps only 320 degrees.  I had no sense that we lived in water world.  It felt almost as though this was a part of the landscape: the way there are palm trees in some areas and rolling hills in others.  It wasn’t post-apocalyptic, really, there just happened to be underwater buildings (which we would call skyscrapers…. only…. these only scraped the surface). It wasn’t until we’d been up there a while that I started to wonder how all the water came to be and why it seemed so normal to everyone else.

Dreams, 11/11/17

  1.  We were staying at the resort to attend a wedding.  The wedding was in the local area, unknown to me, but the person who booked the trip (P), had selected a destination resort for lodgings.  The result was the feeling of being surrounded by orchestrated temptation: beautiful walkways, live entertainment, guests cutting loose.  It was the kind of place that people describe as their getaway, their reset button.   The property was contrived, the customer service flawless, the settings basically unparalleled.  In my dream, we only moved through it, never stopping to partake in the bacchanalia.  My dream focused on the day of our departure, so it was M and I moving through crowds of rowdy people, pulling suitcases behind us and on the way to the airport.  I felt separated from this place — above it, in some ways, because I wasn’t here for the express purpose of escaping my life back home.
  2. At the airport, we had to hop from one island across three lanes of traffic to the departures check-in area.  I removed my jacket and gloves – big, black leather accessories, and laid them over the top of my suitcase.  By the time I reached the check-in area, they were gone.  My eyes searched first the road (they probably slipped off), then back to where we’d been standing (nothing there, either, except a lot of enthusiastic partygoers coming and leaving the resort).  I left my suitcase and retraced my steps:  A customer service agent offered me a suitcase with a jacket and gloves laid over the top:  “Take this one!” she glinted.  I wouldn’t, they didn’t fit, and they weren’t mine and what would I do with that suitcase, anyway?  She continued to insist that I take the new suitcase, almost like a robot.  Her priority was giving me back a jacket and gloves and making me feel like I’d come out on top; not partnering with me to find what I was missing.  I desired to leave her there, on that island, to serve others with whom she’d have better luck.  I went back to my suitcase and resolved to call it a wash.  I didn’t love the jacket or the gloves anyway; they were basically borrowed. I mostly felt like I needed to look for mine, not get a pleasure hit.

Without guile

It’s fair to say that life since returning to Portland has felt like a bit of a test.

Do we want to be here?
Are we happy?
Is this meant for us?

These are deeply personal questions.  And while I ask them of myself, we also explore this somewhat endlessly between us.  On drives.  In quiet moments, or busy days, before coffee and after beers.  Often in hushed tones or private moments because we agree that the process is personal.

Staying in touch with our own feelings on the matter is task enough.

To compound the feeling, we’ve been planning our nuptials and that involves a metric ton of decision making, follow through, organization, patience, communication, and money.  Mix in there some pretty heavy grief on both of our parts, the stress of demanding jobs, an unusually long, grey winter, and an unforeseen housemate all summer long.

To say that I’m looking forward to the future is an understatement.

I can’t wait for this wedding.  I can’t wait for married life!  I can’t wait to take some time away from it all, just the two of us, without any wedding planning.  But in the meantime …

From April 6-August 25 2017, Saturn has been retrograde in Sagittarius.  Sarah Varcas, brilliant intuitive astrologer, put it this way:

We must now face without guile the impact of who we once were.  Saturn retrograde offers an opportunity to process the experiences and insights since its arrival in Sagittarius in September 2015. Cast your mind back and reflect upon all that has happened since then: changes welcome and otherwise, shocks and surprises, the new that arrived, the old that left and those things which seem forever intransigent! Saturn speaks most deeply about the latter now [the forever intransigent], revealing why we struggle to change unhelpful habits, get a grip of negative behaviours or marshal our inner resources in a constructive way. In doing so it reveals exactly what we must sacrifice to be free; where we bind our self to a comfortable status quo that keeps us safe.

Y’know, in all of the reading I’ve done before now on this theme (facing shadow, going into shadow, facing without guile, etc.), I subtly, as if by default, assumed that this required bravery.  A kind of warrior bravery.  Like slaying some sort of dragon.

But I don’t think it’s that at all.  I think instead, it’s been the opposite.  Dropping in.  Enter softly.  Just looking.  Offering softness.  Saying: I have room for you. I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.

This is ho’oponopono.

Over the last few months, I’ve done a ton of releasing.  Made offerings.  Let it go.

In some ways, it was easier when I was elsewhere: I felt less accountability while I lived abroad. I held fewer feelings of obligation (which weigh everything down).  In Portland I feel some responsibility to maintain relationships to people and places and versions of myself.

But it has occurred to me that being who you are now while you’re away from home is a different bag than being who you are now while you’re at home.  Home knows you as you were.  Home holds our past and our future at the same time.

If I took a poll of how people reconcile their present selves with where they’ve come from, it seems like the goal is reintegration — but that concept presupposes separation.  I think for me, living at home in the present is more like the practice of being in two separate moments in time at once.  There’s me, and there’s me again.  There’s me (the hurt version).  There’s me (the healed version).

There’s something about the dry grass at this time of year that reminds me of other chapters.  Empty schoolyards at Main.  The field behind FCHS.  Living on 64th.  These last days of August, when the light is golden. I’m amazed to think of all the Augusts that have come before; those lazy, long days.  The summer we take for granted.  The one that ends and suddenly we find ourselves in September, thinking about apples.



I told her:  “I know at the core of being that I am enough.  That is not my issue.  I get that there are a whole bunch of people who struggle to feel like they are enough, but that is not my thing.  When I say, ‘I am enough,’ I get only positive resonance from my entire system, up and down.”

She said:  ” Repeat after me:  I do enough. ”

That, I felt inside, provoked a different sensation.

I felt it first in my third chakra.  I described it, and she suggested I drop into that feeling to explore.  As I sat, I offered breath and curiosity.  I wandered the edges and looked around with non-judgment. Eventually after much focused breath, I felt it migrate: up my shoulder blade, to the base of my neck. It shifted from electric sensation to a dull intensity.

Asked to describe it, I found the words:  grey.  brittle like a dry sea sponge.

She asked how I felt and I didn’t want to tell her at first.

She said: “This area, the base of the neck?  It’s your primal brain.  It’s your fight or flight center.  I want you to continue to presence with me and tell me how you feel.”

I spoke without hesitation: “I feel skeptical, I feel threatened, I feel tense and I feel fear.”  I felt my eyes narrow as  I extended my hands from my lap to show her clenched fists.  “I feel like… like throwing my fists.  I feel like fighting.”

She said: Do you feel anger?

I responded.  Yes.

She suggested I start tapping on my chest, as she became insistent: “I can feel your whole system, okay? You’re slipping to a primal place and I want to keep you here grounded –so tap gently, as long as you want, just like this. Maybe wiggle your toes. I’m going to say some things to you now…”

I can’t access what she said to me. It came from some deep part of her and it was intended for some deep part of me. 

She instructed me to then tense my entire upper body.  Neck, shoulders, biceps, forearms, midback, shoulders, face, fists.  Get wound up, she said, and then release everything all at once.

I did it.

“Do it again,” she said.

I felt my body release and returned to my breath.  Take a sip of tea, she said.  Let’s stay grounded while…

(If I’m honest, I didn’t want to take a sip of tea.  I wanted to stay in it.  I liked that charged up feeling. I wanted to kill something and I felt powerful.  I observed the flood of fight mode in my system and felt some amusement and pride and anticipation.  This is a biochemical process for my surivival, I thought.  I was built to do this. I was built to do this.)

She asked me something I can’t recall now.  I wish I could remember it, because it feels like a big piece of the puzzle.  Maybe it was to repeat after her, or to see how different phrases resonated.  Maybe she asked me about my sea sponge.  I don’t know but what I remember happening next is practicing some call and response, where my part was:

“I don’t want to.”

It felt childish to say.  Impish.  I don’t remember why that was the phrase, or to what it was responding.

But we said it twice before a wave of absolute sadness came to the surface.  She suggested I could close my eyes, and just observe, or presence with her.  Either way, she assured, she would be presencing with me and I should know that I am safe.  She said other things, too.

And so there, in her nearly empty basement office, hands open on my thighs, looking into her eyes, I felt the universal sadness move through me while she sat in the place of knowing.  A groundswell of sadness obliterated any sense of self.  I was a constellation. Deep pattern disrupted.  I noticed my breath, my chest riding heavy from nearly gasping for air through a constricted throat.  In Chinese medicine, lungs carry grief.

We did not go back to the sea sponge. We didn’t need to. After all that sadness moved through, I simply needed to come back down to rest. 


Spring, with all it’s optimism, has returned.

Today it hailed so hard that ice bounced off my lawn and Jill said they looked like jumping beans.

I found out this morning that the local gas company is going to be digging into the street in front of my house (and one other house next door) to replace a steel pipe with a new pipe made of a more modern material.

I was immediately reminded of that time in Illinois the walkway to my apartment was dug up.  I remember laughing then at the absurdity of the symbolism of such an unavoidable and literal unearthing.

Time is not linear.

Here we are again, with the street being dug up.  Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, and Mercury are all retrograde right now.  Our American structures are being tested at the seams, and I find myself in a lot of different directions.

I’ve been working with an energy healer since late last fall.


Safe Passage

I left work and started walking the streets of downtown,

unsure how to feel.

I imagined myself walking wet streets with melting ice for hours,

and then settled on the need for food.

Hungry, tired, bored, thirsty:

Don’t let yourself get too much of any of those things.

I settled on Mother’s – not because of the deep sense of symbolism or irony –

but because they had sit-down service six blocks from my office.

I thought about the times I’d been here before: with work teams, with my mother-in-law.

These walls see birthdays, anniversaries, reunions.
The chandeliers celebrate, the velvet wallpaper the perfect wrapping.

I sat with tears so impossibly welled in my eyes.

English breakfast tea, omelet du jour.  Wheat toast.

I returned to my breath, thankful for its grace and compassion.


I entered the house like I had one hundred times before.

Her eyes, impossibly welled, reflected my own back to me.

Slow-moving supernovas, the room spun out in every direction.

Staring straight ahead on the sofa, slumped in a kitchen chair.

The bodies here all alive and miraculous; doing their best.


Hospice calls it “the active phase.”

It is the phase of actively dying: when the body has begun the work of shutting down each system.  Sympathetic systems go first, followed by parasympathetic.

Fluid pools in the lungs and leads to the death rattle.

That’s what they call it.

They, who work closely with the dying, have words and phrases for each phase.


We simply be together.  In our uncontrived messiness and our imperfections.

Some of us are too loud, and some of us can’t bear to enter the room.

Some of us have been swallowed whole by this world, by this cancer, for fifteen months and can’t hardly recall life before the chemo, the surgeries.

Some of us will bury our children, our mother, our best friend since childhood.

Some of us will whisper as though she cannot hear us, and some will sit silently and gently by her side, adrift in the gape of her drying mouth.

And some of us will say: Go on now.  Your work here is done.  Have a safe passage home.  I’ll talk with you again soon.





December 26th.

Fall came and went.

It’s winter now.

God, how I’ve been looking forward to winter.


I’ve had a difficult time going as deep as I want.  I’ve been preoccupied with surface demands.  Moving here during Mercury retrograde meant that there were a lot of extras that needed revisiting.  Our house wasn’t move-in ready.  Our belongings were lost in transit for more than a month.  We needed new everything: voter registration, car title, registration, driver’s license, insurance companies, bank accounts.  My cell phone was in disrepair.

All of this, and work didn’t skip a beat.  Our social life didn’t either.  Wedding planning is happening in the background.  We celebrated our anniversary, her birthday, and every holiday.  We had a ten-day vacation back east in there.  We’ve hosted 4 house guests.  The demands of my job have been absolutely off-the-charts. I was struggling with foot pain, then hurt my back, then had an ear infection, then a cold.  I went to Salt Lake City for business.  Plus…family.  Always family.


I have been selfishly looking forward to this for a while.

I should have known it was going to take the next Mercury retrograde cycle (12/19-1/8) for this move to feel resolved.



And here I am.

Achey. Contemplative. Restless.  Eager.  Wisened. Optimistic.  Hopeful.

The hustle of moving is over.

The holidays came and went.

This week, I reconnect with purpose.  I slow down.  I recalibrate.  I rest.