28 December 2010

Family Photos

Ending the year and starting the new one in the rain forest of Trinidad surrounded by the ones I love most deeply in the world. The lush environment pictured in the background is my daughter's front yard. We're training together to run in a half marathon and run further into the rain forest 3 days a week. Other times we take walks or hikes to lovely destinations (more photos to come). So much beauty to see, hear, touch and even taste in this fertile, bountiful place.

Don't we look happy with the grands? Besides gaming (in a house without TV or high speed access) and voracious reading, the older one (8) has found Monopoly and it feeds his surprising entrepeneurial sprit. The younger one (4 1/2) loves fashion and design (in a house without TV or magazines) and her new status as student which has meant daily reading and math "homework". As my daughter says: "a fashion diva and a business man, can you imagine two more unlikely outcomes from me and their father while living in a tiny village in the rain forest"? The answer is a resounding "no"!
But they're happy and healthy kids doing what they love and throwing themselves into whatever that is whole heartedly. I celebrate their differences and am grateful to be part of nurturing them. To say nothing of playing with them! It's a great way to start the New Year.

May your New Year be filled with warm companionship, family joy, playful moments and places of beauty.

24 December 2010

Merry Christmas to All

I'm in dial up land and it's excruciating! Every single blog I follow downloads soooooo slowly and the comments! On the other hand, I'm with my daughter, her husband and the 2 grands, so my heart is happy in most important ways. Hopefully, I'll even have a family Christmas photo to post soon (if I can!).

But, I wanted to wish each of you a delighful Christmas filled with joy and love. You enrich my life and expand my horizons and I thank you, fireinds of the blogosphere!

20 December 2010

Holiday Fun from the Caribbean

Barry, my quiet, soft spoken co-worker came to work with his car decorated like this:

And the back looking like this:

But he was most pleased with how it looked at night:

Part of the fun of all this was how incongruous this fabulous car is when owned by quiet, unassuming Barry! It's a show stopper for sure.
Happy Holidays to all of you from the Caribbean!
May your dreams come true and may you do something unexpected and delightful.

17 December 2010

Their Map

This is in respose to Theme Thursday's prompt, "map":

She watched him as he slept.
She never tired of his face,
remarkable in its change over their 37 years together,
the warm familiarity of it despite the lines etched there.
She thought of them as the map of their journey.
There are the lines from his easy smile that lights up his face and her heart.
There are the lines from his worry about their daughter when she was sick
near death and so very tiny.
 There are the lines from his grief when they lost the baby
and he feared for her life as well.
There are the lines from his fierce love,
arrow straight and true, uneeringly true, a thing to be relied on she knew.
His face, their map, chronicles their story, reminds her how far they've come,
it guides those who take time to read it. 

16 December 2010

Water From Your Spring

Water From Your Spring

What was in that candle's light
that opened and consumed me so quickly?

Come back, my friend. The form of our love
is not a created form.

Nothing can help me but that beauty.
There was a dawn I remember
when my soul heard something from your soul.

I drank water from your spring
and felt the current take me.


14 December 2010

Views From Antigua

My favorite church in Antigua, old, still used and lovingly kept.

English Harbour where I lived for 2 1/2 years. It has an historic Georgian Dock Yard and many visiting boats in the winter, currently including the Maltese Falcon, the world's largest sail boat. In juxta position to the above church, it's an intriguing, sleek, futuristic looking thing.

The little cottage at Crossroads where I've been staying for the last 5 1/2 weeks and for 3 1/2 more days (but whose counting?) until I go to Trinidad wherein waits my husband, daughter, son-in-law and the grands. Oh joy, oh bliss! Let the holidays begin.

10 December 2010

Views From Home

Gathering fog creeps across the valley seen from our balcony.

Fog, rolling clouds, and snow on the mountains.

And a sunset so bright that it shone right through the clouds lighting them up from within.

Ahhh, I think I know how those clouds feel.

(Photos care of my husband, still in Italy, sending me a taste of home.)

09 December 2010

Beauty and the Beast

Look closely. It's a neon caterpillar, like something out of Alice in Wonderland. It was just outside my door.

I'm frustrated with the lack of ability to make changes to my photos, can't crop, enhance or anything else since there's no program on this (work [after hours]) computer. Does that mean I've become a nerd?
But yesterdays evening sky was lovely.

06 December 2010

Happy Birthday, Daughter

In the moment before my daughter's full birth, after her head was delivered, and just before the next contraction to push out the rest of her, my doctor played a mean trick on me and said: "In your heart of hearts, do you want a boy or a girl?" "A girl" was my immediate response. And then she was born and my deepest dream, that I didn't know I had until that moment, came true. I'm sure I would have fallen equally in love with a boy should he have been born but it was Kelly that gifted my life. I have loved being her mother, not just the mother of a daughter although that zings through my body in its importance, but this daughter. Kelly Marie.

Her birthday is tomorrow and I've been in this funky kind of mood- being alone, missing John, longing for family together time and realizing the year is ending and it's time to take stock of my life. So I've been doing some of that. And Kelly was talking to me about her struggles over what the next step should be in her life. She's a good communicator that way, and lives so on purpose. I love that about her. And it seemed familiar. It made me realize that we cover some of the same ground again and again as we age, not in circles but more like a spiral ascending.

We follow our dreams, our spirits urging. We live our lives fully and with gratitude and then we stop every once in a while and take our inventory. How am I doing? Have I slipped into unhealthy ways of being? Am I doing what I need to do to grow? Have I grown bigger than my environment can hold and I need to find another? Or do I need to expand to fill the bigger environment that I've built? Am I being of service, giving of myself in ways that excite me as well as help others? What's the next way to do that?

Questions of a 34 year old daughter, a 64 year old me and, in our family, a 94 year old father. Questions that honor our responsibility to be true to ourselves and to love one another. I'm glad to be sharing this search with Kelly. She makes my heart happy. I hope for her a happy heart, too.

02 December 2010

Happy 94th, Dad

My father just celebrated his 94th birthday. He lives in Boston so I called him to wish him Happiness. He's sharp as a tack and asked me about some current events he had read of in his news magazine. I had no clue because he's better read than I am about all that.

So I changed the topic and asked him how he was feeling:

"Oh, I'm slowing down quite a bit and I don't like that at all."

"I'm sorry to hear that, Dad. So, what are you planning to do for your birthday then?"

"I'm going dancing at a resort in New Hampshire for the weekend. You know that band I like? Well, they're playing and invited me to go and come back in their bus. I'm their oldest follower."

Does that mean my father's a groupie? At 94?

He went, he danced, he had a great time. You gotta love it!

Happy Birthday, Dad.

30 November 2010

Birds Nesting Near The Coast

I took these photos this weekend to illustrate a wonderful Rumi poem from Ruth's marvelous Rumi Days that speaks of them and of the need to love ourselves. The Cathedral is St. John the Divine in St. John's, Antigua.

Soul, if you want to learn secrets,
your heart must forget about shame
and dignity.

You are God's lover,
yet you worry what people are saying.

The rope belt the early Christians wore
to show who they were, throw it away.

Inside you are sweet beyond telling,
and the cathedral there,
so deeply tall.

Evening now, more your desire
than a woman's hair.

And not knowledge,
walk with those innocent of that.,

faces inside fire, birds nesting
near the coast, earning their beauty,

servants to the ocean. There is a sun
within every person, the you
we call companion.


25 November 2010

Fiercely Grateful

I used to Keep a gratitude journal. Each day I made myself write 5 specific, concrete things I was grateful for that day. It helped me through a dark time, kept me grounded in goodness, and saved my emotional life until I could know again that the world is a friendly place.

Every year at Thanksgiving, I go back to this practice to remind myself of great grace in my life, The gifts I've been given and all that I am grateful for. This year my list is long. Not just longer but bigger in it's scope from living internationally and all the blessings that have come from that. It's like the world has offered itself to me.

I'm grateful for my family, for the love and constancy that we offer one another, the deepening friendships happening among us, and the laughter and fun we have together. Especially John. How can I express the awe I feel that after 37 years together, he is my best friend, favorite companion, and makes me laugh out loud more than ever.

I'm grateful for my friends, old friends who hold the memories of a lifetime in precious hands even while we make new ones with them, with their kids, with their grand kids. What wealth we share. And new friends who bring the fresh possibilities of new ways of looking at things that stretch me, enrich me and keep me fresh, too. My blog friends are in this group. I'm pleased to have sojourners and seekers to share this journey with.

I'm grateful for meaningful work which provides me a way to give back, to help those taking tentative steps toward health, to lend my knowledge, experience and love to those who need it, who bask in it or grab it hungrily and then go forward and do likewise. It's a glorious spiral, a sacred dance.

I'm grateful for books, my passion for them, my ability to get lost in them, my abiding affection for the characters I come to know and treasure. They shake me up and let me into worlds I'd have no other way of knowing. They excite me every time.

I'm grateful for nature and the physicalness of being out in it. The walking, hiking, running- using my body, having it respond, stay healthy, feel good and discover the rush. The sea and the mountains that call me and keep me interacting with them,  that intoxicate me, that teach me the connectedness of all life, the spiritual essence of what I have come to believe.

For all this, for all you, I am fiercely grateful.

23 November 2010

Sharing the Caribbean Life

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the gym last evening:

And from this morning before my run under the not so funny but kind of cute category, otherwise known as the reason you shake out shoes in the Caribbean before putting them on:

21 November 2010

We're Not In Italy Now!

Remember when I described my long runs on Sundays in Italy on the wide walking path by the beach alongside the Adriatic? And it goes for miles, flat and paved and lovely? Well, there's no such thing in Antigua, by a long shot. So long runs, like my nine mile run this morning, get cobbled together any which way to cover the distance.

The good news was I got to run with my friend, Cassandra, who's great company and knows the roads well. The route? A combination of paved main road (but no sidewalks), dirt side roads (but it rained last night), semi-paved (don't ask!) side roads, and even a golf course for our final mile. Good thing it was Sunday and early (we started at 5:30), so not much traffic. Also, good thing it was cloudy and a passing shower cooled us , since the run took longer than we expected because of the treacherous terrain.

But somehow the effort and the obstacles faded when towards the end of the run, a full double rainbow appeared, bright and beautiful. It was the brightest and longest lasting rainbow either of us had ever seen. It was a moment of grace that lifted us up. All we talked about from that moment was how good we felt, how energized, how blessed.

And, driving back, I had a good laugh at who I shared the road with:

And later, I'm going to this beach for a swim:

I agree, I have nothing to complain about!

19 November 2010

Friday Photo

This plant grows outside my office window. It had rain drops on it yesterday glistening in the sun. I think she's very beautiful.

17 November 2010


Even though Crossroads is a specialty program for drug and alcohol treatment, sometimes it's simple, human kindness that makes a difference. This morning I was entering the building where I work and met a new client who looked a little rough around the edges and lost.

"How can I help you? You look lost."
"I'm not lost. I just don't know where my room is." (I'm not sure what the difference is!)
"Let me show you. Would you like a cup of tea?"
"Tea? Okay."

So we sat and sipped tea and it tasted good. That was all. The she went back to bed.

At Crossroads we stress the importance of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing. I like being part of these healing moments.

14 November 2010


I'm here at Crossroads in Antigua consulting to the nursing and wellness staff for six weeks. I get to do work that I love with people I admire and like. I'm grateful.

Crosssroads' program is 4 or 6 weeks and includes detox from alcohol and drugs and rehab. It's an effective and wonderful program founded by Eric Clapton for those who, like him, struggle with addiction. His message, recovery is possible, treatment works. If you or a loved one is looking for a way out of the chaos that addiciton brings, give me, Mary, or our admissions coordinator, Adrienne, a call. Really. 1-268-562-0035. It's all confidential.

Some photos of our beautiful setting:

Where I'm staying.

Bouganvillea everywhere, pink, peach, purple, in full bloom.

Half Moon Bay beach where I swam today.

It's a healing environment.

12 November 2010

Jessica Jackley: Poverty, money -- and love | Video on TED.com

When I heard this talk, it resonated with the thoughts and feelings I've had regarding that big, amorphous group, the poor, and what I personally could do about it. This young woman wanted to help and founded a wonderful internet organization, Kiva,  to provide microloans to those who need them to lift themselves out of poverty. It's an amazingly effective program that is now the 6th leading source of microloans. And it has a 98% repayment rate.

Check it out. You can join and loan (as little as $25.00) to whomever you choose individually or join a group and lend with them to multiply your power. Then you're paid back and can loan again. It's specific, it's personal, it works because each applicant decides for themselves what's best for them to do with the money in their area.

They have a Blogger loan group. They have a Woman to Woman loan group that specifies it's loans for women in the belief that aiding women and children is the best way to benefit a society. They have all kinds of loan groups. People across the globe get connected.

This is a brilliant idea! What do you think?

Jessica Jackley: Poverty, money -- and love | Video on TED.com

What is Kiva:

Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty.
Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending.

Kiva was born of the following beliefs:
  • People are by nature generous, and will help others if given the opportunity to do so in a transparent, accountable way.
  • The poor are highly motivated and can be very successful when given an opportunity.
  • By connecting people we can create relationships beyond financial transactions, and build a global community expressing support and encouragement of one another.
Kiva promotes:
  • Dignity:   Kiva encourages partnership relationships as opposed to benefactor relationships. Partnership relationships are characterized by mutual dignity and respect.
  • Accountability:   Loans encourage more accountability than donations where repayment is not expected.
  • Transparency:   The Kiva website is an open platform where communication can flow freely around the world.
As of November 2009, Kiva has facilitated over $100 million in loans.

05 November 2010


I leave tomorrow on my travels and I'm feeling kind of nostalgic, or I'm not sure exactly what. Like serious, pensive, thoughtful. I'm leaving for 3 months and it's the longest my Honey and I have ever been apart. Still, it's  all good. 6 weeks at Crossroads in Antigua where I worked for 2 1/2 years (before moving to Italy) to help out while one of their administrators is on leave. I love it there, the work and the staff and reconnecting with old friends.

Then, for 2 months around Christmas, to Trinidad where my daughter, her husband and two children live. My Honey joins me there to give us a month together. Hooray! A nice long stretch of family time is balm to my spirit, for sure. Interacting with my grandchildren in their environment gives me a whole new appreciation for them. It cements our relationship as well since I get to know them in their own home and appreciate how it shapes them.

Then the final stretch in FL for a half marathon. Unique this time is that my daughter is running in the same half-marathon as me. This is a first for us and we'll be joined by a couple of my nieces for yet another first. Last year I ran the full marathon by myself. It's the National Breast Cancer Marathon in Jacksonville, Florida on February 13 and the last 10 days of my journey. Other nieces, their children and my sister-in-law will be there to cheer us on so it will be great family fun.

So, I'm excited about each phase of my journey and looking forward to each for different reasons. The work, because I love and believe in it and know that treatment changes lives. Family time because this is where my heart is happiest and my roots are deepest and the sprouts are growing and I get to tend/love them to fuller life. And the running because I can when others can't, and I feel good doing it and it makes my body healthier so I can live longer and it shows another choice for how to age to my daughter and granddaughter and nieces.

But still, there's this other indefinable feeling going on. I guess sometimes we're mysteries even to ourselves until clarity happens. Maybe it's the thought, not yet reality, of missing John. I don't know. I'll keep in touch.

03 November 2010

Miwa Matreyek's glorious visions | Video on TED.com

I offer this as an antidote to the noise around us that can keep us from making our own discoveries.

About this talk

Using animation, projections and her own moving shadow, Miwa Matreyek performs a gorgeous, meditative piece about inner and outer discovery. Take a quiet 10 minutes and dive in. With music from Anna Oxygen, Mirah, Caroline Lufkin and Mileece.

About Miwa Matreyek

Miwa Matreyek creates performances where real shapes and virtual images trade places, amid layers of animation, video and live bodies. 

Miwa Matreyek's glorious visions | Video on TED.com

This also introduces the wonderful world of TED.com to those who haven't discovered it up to now. It's a rich source of information and inspiration that, needless-to-say, isn't covered in the popular media. How fabulous to have the splendors of the best thinkers and doers in the world sharing their stories.

01 November 2010

My Neighbor's Field

It really needs no introduction, I don't know the story behind it or quite how he did it, but this HUGE heart greeted our whole neighborhood and stayed for weeks as we drove down the hill:

It had everyone buzzing, speculating and smiling. It's amazing how we influence each other.

30 October 2010

Hugging Trees and Combing Olives

Have you ever combed a tree?  Really. It's the way olives are hand picked here in our little corner of the world. Each branch combed with a plastic comb to pull down the olives but not disturb the leaves.

And did you know that olives are beautiful when they're ripe? Both on the tree:

And up close and personal, even while olives rain on me, and branches brush my hair:

And once harvested, caught in the nets spread under the trees, they are particularly colorful in their earthy beauty:

They're then scooped up and bagged in tall burlap bags:

And taken to community presses to be made into olive oil, some of which we'll receive for our own use:

As it looked today, this was the view from my friend's yard where her 70, 30 year old olive trees live:

Harvesting olives by hand was a first for me. The day was sunny and 67 degrees, clear with the clean, fragrant air characteristic of towns further up into the mountains. 

The outdoors, the presence of friends, both old and new, the delicious, home made food prepared by my friend (the trees caretaker), the light hearted bantering and whole hearted tree hugging was such a rare and lovely way to spend a day. 

Combing a tree branch by branch turned out to be an intimate act of care and love. It made my heart happy. 

Vincent, too - Olive Grove by Vincent Van Gough:

28 October 2010

Running Views

Today dawned brisk (55), beautifully clear and sunny here at home in my little Cittá Sant'Angelo.  My run was exhilarating with views that made my heart soar.  I run the Circonvallazione (ring road) around our town for 45 minutes each Tuesday and Thursday. Later, I took my camera to shoot the route and share a little more of where I live.

I start up a steep walkway, stairway and hill from my apartment to reach the Circonvallazione.

As I come around the first corner, this is what I see. It's the Gran Sasso, highest peak of the Apenine Mts. bright with the first snow of the season which fell last night.

Then to the top of the hill with the mountains in the background and the Circonvallazione over to the right.

Just through one of the four gates into the town, I run by a little local fall color.

Then a smaller hill by the elementary school and one of our many churches.

Down the road, on the side of town opposite Gran Sasso, I come to the park and run the path around it.

And see this view of the Adriatic Sea.

Back on the Circonvallazione, I run by these fields at the back side of town.

To come back to and end with the magnificent Gran Sasso as I head back down the hill to home.

It's not the only reason why I love to run but it sure is a strong reinforcer! I feel deeply grateful to live in and get to enjoy such a beautiful part of the world.

Stay tuned for the photos of Sundays runs.

26 October 2010

Sardinia, 4 (and final)

Did you know that Sardinia produces the greatest number of centenarians in Europe? True.
Those in the mountainous region known as the Barbágia, with it's forested slopes, lush meadows and a scattering of villages, say it's the unique and unspoiled environment that offers their quality of life and longevity. They see themselves as the custodians of a treasure of inestimable value. Theirs are authentic villages with hidden inner beauty. We visited one of these places, Dorgali, the day before we left the Island to discover what they call "the Heart of Sardinia".

They were hosting an annual autumn festival where people open their homes to display traditional local costumes, crafts handed down from parent to child over the centuries, art, music, dance and food prepared and wine made according to ancient recipes. All this happens in various towns of the Barbágia, including Dorgali, from September to December.

I came across this grandmother helping a young woman with her costume:

And these three cuties! Notice their hair fixed like the older woman's:

Just a small sample of the numerous crafts:

The people were proud of their heritage, generous with their food and wine and did indeed offer a unique slice of life to savor. We came away full.

A view on the way back, where the mountains reached the sea:

I felt happy to take in and be taken in by this beautiful place.

Signing off from Sardinia with memories to treasure.