Clearing it out: a meditation

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Our son visits on Father’s Day, pokes around in the refrigerator, and pulls out a bottle of BBQ sauce with an expiration date of 2002. He holds the bottle up in front of me and points to the offending date.“Seriously, Mom?

Time to clear out the fridge.

In yoga class the teacher invites us to clear all thoughts of the day’s activities from our heads. I tick through my “to do” list and wish for a “Clear All” button to press. I visualize a screen full of “to dos” disappearing. Then the screen in my mind’s eye refreshes with the next fity items on the list.

Time to clear out of town and go on vacation?

I’d like to tell you a story of a time when I cleared out the clutter and lovely whitespace appeared, but like an ocean tide, chaos goes out and comes back in again. For one small moment, sun glistens on empty sand and catches the light of bubbles that mark the spot where tiny sea creatures burrow. Then the sea rushes back.

For one small moment my refrigerator is clean and I can see my choices; my mind is free and I can focus on my body; the beach is quiet and my soul is at rest.


Reprinted from Ruminate Magazine Issue 32 Summer 2014

Assisted Living: Bottom line and blessings

helpinghandWhen you find yourself the point person for relocating your aging mother, the bottom line is that you now manage her life. It becomes your responsibility to ensure that her bills get paid, she gets to her medical appointments, and she has appropriate clothing. (Older people can’t deal with clothes that challenge their agility.)

Here are some steps we took that made the process work. 

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Book Review: Palo Alto

Palo Alto: StoriesPalo Alto: Stories by James Franco

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this up in vacation off a B&B bookshelf because I’m interested in artists who work in more than one field and because I was born and raised and raised my children near Palo Alto, but a world away.

Writers sometimes write to process their experiences. This appears to be Franco’s motivation for penning this memoir turned short story collection. I found myself having difficulty sorting out the voices of the different disaffected teenagers as they told their stories. It occurred to me that this may be the point. Perhaps disaffection speaks with one voice. Rich or poor, male or female, perhaps dissatisfied and disconnected speaks with one voice.

I also wonder how Franco overcame the soullessness of the aimless existence he portrays to achieve acclaim as an actor and then to enter an MFA program and write a book. That’s the story I’d like to read.

View all my reviews

Assisted Living: Dividing lines

vulturesWhen you move in to give assistance to an aging parent, the dividing lines between parent and child, yours and mine, begin to blur. At the same time, the divide between cultures and generations sharpens.

No matter your situation, whether you are nobly stepping up to your responsibility or bravely wrestling control away from a parent who does not recognize their peril, you are bound to feel like the bad guy at some point.

The role reversal is uncomfortable. You look for ways to respect the dignity of the person whose life you are raiding. You try to involve them in decision making, help them feel a sense of power and control they no longer have, and you run smack into the problem that brought you to this place. Grandma can no longer make a decision. Any decision.

Case in point, it appeared that the neighbors had been using grandma’s closet at their personal recycling center. Her closet was stuffed full of torn, stained size 14 clothes. (She is a size 6.) Before I caught on, I sat her on the bed, whipped one article of clothing after another out of the abyss, and held it up. She had one of two responses.

“I might wear that someday.”

“I don’t remember who gave that to me, so I better keep it.”

I sent her to the kitchen to eat her lunch and began making heartless decisions. Into the trash went the “gift” clothing. I set aside the lovely suits she no longer wears to give to the consignment store, but when time got tight and I pictured someone in town showing up at her church in her clothes, they went in the dumpster. 

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The Adult Orphan

journalBecoming an adult orphan is among the inevitable rites of passage.  The day an adult’s last remaining parent dies is a somber occasion.

In addition to the emotional cocktail of sadness, relief, gratitude, and other feelings, your position in life changes forever:

Your generational cover is blown.
You vie for position as the family matriarch or patriarch.
You become the memory custodian.

How will you record precious memories of the past for future generations to ponder? Stop by Mari’s Journal Writing Power Blog and read more.

To process the drama I had been through I did what many of my boomer generation are doing. I wrote a book.

photo credit: Bob AuBuchon via photopin cc


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