I Have a Different Kind of PTSD

When I was six, my grandfather convinced me to go sailing with him. Not just sailing, but racing. It was his

This is a photo of the author at the wheel of a 30-foot sailboat on a lake.

passion and he wanted to share it with me. He sailed long skinny boats called Two-Tens and raced every weekend in the summer on the North Shore of Massachusetts.

My grandfather sensed my hesitation to go with him. The whole thing would take up more than half the day, and I was unsure about being any farther from land than a swim away and also about tipping over.

“It’ll be fun,” he told me. “I promise this boat will never flip. It can’t. It is physically impossible.” (more…)

Happiness is a Visit From a Harbor Seal

It was a beautiful warm day in Bar Harbor, Maine and I was finally getting to go sea kayaking. Sea kayaking has

This is an Image of a harbor seal's head peaking out of the water.

Photo courtesy Mike Baird via Creative Commons.

been on my bucket list for a long time, but the opportunity hadn’t presented itself until a few weeks ago when I visited Acadia National Park with my husband and son. (more…)

6 Ways to Find Quiet in Today’s Noisy World

I don’t know about you but when I am exposed to constant man-made noise, I get edgy. Bitchy even.This is a picture of the fall leaf colors on my solitary hike in New Hampshire.

The world (or at least the city and the house where I live) has grown so obnoxiously noisy. Leaf blowers and rumbling trucks; air conditioning units and the buzz of the computer; TVs and cell phones ringing; the teenager’s music blasted from the floor below.  There are fewer and fewer silent moments to just appreciate the soothing sounds of the natural world. I’m not surprised that The New York Times has created an online Quiet City map that allows users to find a place in any of the five boroughs where they can hear themselves think for a few minutes. (more…)

Why You Should Get Rid of Grudges

grudges

Photo courtesy Raul Pachego-Vega via Creative Commons.

Here’s the thing about holding grudges. The person holding the grudge is much more negatively affected than the person whose actions or words caused the grudge-holding. You know it’s true. How many times a day/week/month/year do you spend mental energy on that grudge? A long-term grudge can become so entrenched that it can impact your daily outlook, your decisions, and even your health, both mental and physical. And the sad thing I’ve discovered from my own personal experience holding too many grudges is that many grudges are based upon faulty assumptions about the other person’s motives or feelings, or about the other person’s ability to  be the person you think you deserve them to be. (more…)

Painting With Words: #Poet #ElizabethBishop

Studying poetry in school made me feel dumb, as if the poet was specifically trying to hide the real meaning of whatever it is he or she wanted to communicate in a bunch of undecipherable formats and words. I was irritated that you had to work that hard to figure out what an author was trying to say, and that even if you thought you’d figured it out, you weren’t sure. As a teenager, that uncertainty didn’t seem worth the mental exertion. Yet, I’ve always loved writing poetry. In fact, my family has a tradition of giving gifts along with a poem. Mine are best known for the rhymes involving curse words. There’s just so much that rhymes with shit, shitty and ass! (more…)

My Mother’s Dying Wish (With Apologies to the Fine People of Lubbock, Texas*)

I was sitting next to my mother in the doctor’s office when the doctor said that there was nothing else to do about her cancer. No more chemo. No more liver stents. No more anything. The cancer had won. She might have a couple of months left. It was early August 1994 and I had flown up from Texas to be with her in Boston for this ominous appointment.

“If there’s anything you want to do, now’s the time,” the doctor said.

“I want to go to Lubbock, Texas,” she said. “Can I make the trip?”This is a photo of downtown Lubbock, Texas.

“Lubbock, Texas? Why?” the doctor asked, frowning.

Yeah. Why would anyone want to make Lubbock their last travel destination?

“Because that’s where my daughter just moved with her husband and I have to see her new house so I’ll be able to picture her in it before I die,” she said.

Oh. Because of me. (more…)

New Friend

This is a photo of Carmen Menza, an artist, in front of one of her paintings.

The very talented and friendly Carmen Menza.

Here’s what I like about my new friend, Carmen: she is creative, interesting, funny, generous, and a great conversationalist on a 4-hour 6 a.m. flight to Boston. We exchanged business cards. She invited me to her poetry discussion group, which turned out to include women just like her. Artists. Creative types. Mothers. People with passion. None of them read poetry in the Dreaded Poetry Voice. And the poet we discussed was Lydia Davis, whose spare narrative style I am emulating here. Probably badly. But that’s OK, because I have a new friend.