The Twenty-first Crossroad

So fellow travelers, people often speak of kids growing up “in a flash.”

That has not been my experience as a parent.

The passage of three decades from the birth of our first child to this moment of Favorite Youngest Daughter reaching adulthood has felt more like a marathon, one I ran far more willingly than any actual foot race. My husband is the marathon triathlete. I am more likely found on a 5 mile hike than a 5-K run (yes, I am fully aware 5K is actually 3.1 not 5 miles.) But I digress.

Anyone who has undertaken the daunting responsibility of raising kids knows that parenting is not for the faint of heart. Yet nothing in this life I have accomplished has been as rewarding as the adventure of watching our two daughters grow from curious high spirited little girls into creative, independent young women.



And even as we skyped with Favorite Youngest Daughter last Sunday on her 21st birthday, it’s clear the adventure is far from over. In many ways our lives are beginning a new phase of this grand journey, a stage where my daughters and I relate as women, supporting one another as we take on the dreams and goals we’ve set for ourselves.

Still, as a awesome writer and friend of mine recently blogged “We are never quite the same after someone we’ve loved leaves our everydays.” While Ms Dingle is referring to her grieving the recent passing of a cherished family member, it occurred to me as I read her post I too have been grieving. I realized this process began the morning I left Favorite Youngest Daughter standing on the platform in a train station in Tokyo, two years and six months almost to the day of her recent hall mark birthday.

The memory is a vivid as if it has just happened this morning. I can still feel the effort it took to walk away after giving her a long hug goodbye.  My eyes tear up just as they did that moment,20150831_212415 as I willed myself not to look back, knowing if I did I might run back to stay with her and make the parting impossibly difficult for both of us. This was her moment to step onto the path she had chosen, I had to be strong enough to let go because letting go said “You can do it, I believe in you.”  Still, sitting on the train which would bring me back to our hotel, I had wild thoughts of not getting off, of riding the train until it circled back to her station, of  not going to the airport or getting on the flight that afternoon which would take me and my husband back home. My heart hurt so much I could barely speak when I did arrive at the hotel where my husband had remained to check out while my daughter and I made a pilgrimmage to a sacred memorial which held special meaning for both of us.

In retrospect I see now that was the moment when the heartstrings of full time motherhood fully broke. Yes once a mom, always a mom but from that moment on I would have to learn how to be a long distance mom for both my daughters.

Favorite Youngest Daughter had stepped into independence in a way far different from her older sister. Favorite Older Daughter’s crossing into independence was more gradual, evolved closer to home and by the time she left for college, she had already found her ally and partner for life, the devoted young man I now refer to as Favored Son-in-law. The moment those heart strings began to release came as I watched them get ready for her senior ball. In the way only a mother’s heart can know, I sensed it was a glimpse into her future.



Our younger daughter’s break from home came as an all-in-one major leap of faith which took her half way around the world for her first solo flight. She has never looked back. Oh, she’s been home a few times and those visits have been deeply rewarding, as have our visits to Portland each summer when we reconnect as a family with our older daughter and her husband.


Recently the inevitable goodbyes felt surprisingly harder; I hugged my kids tighter, longer, my tears stung sharper. Insights from my friend’s writing granted me a fuller awareness of the grief embedded in this change from full time motherhood to long distance mom. Looking back I find it’s been there in my writing for a while.

With clarity comes the gifts of perspective and acceptance. Those “everydays” Lisa writes about are the void we must reframe and reclaim as our own and as I said before, our adventures as women on life’s path are far from over. Acceptance allows me to see the sign posts pointing the way to undiscovered adventures and whether I walk those paths alone or with friends and family I am eager to set forth on this next stage of my own journey.




See you on the trails.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.




Hidden Losses

So fellow travelers, sometimes the trails I traverse are haunted.

Footsteps crunch on snow

Hidden birds burst from branches

Regrets and losses

Scatter like feathers

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Inside Out

So fellow travelers, I’ve been feeling besieged by storms of many origins.

Outside the wind howls

Ice pelts windows while inside

Faith flickers but holds

Truth is I miss my daughters

I miss my backyard birds

I miss my favorite trails

I miss my sanity

Well not entirely, not yet.

There’s some still left holding on by a few threads strengthened by revelations shared from the hearts of others.

Wisdom and hope, beacons of truth and insight like lanterns illuminating a dark passage.

Where there is will there is a way.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Leaving a Light on Always

So fellow travelers, tomorrow Favorite Youngest Daughter wings her way West again.

This parting is stretching my heartstrings more intensely than before. I know it is because her path forward from here is less defined than a Mother’s mind is comfortable with. Yet deep in my soul I also believe by following her heart she is making her best choice  and I am committed to sending her on her way feeling supported and loved.


Beyond darkness Light

The comforting warmth of Home

Love is always here



There’s no greater gift we can give each other than our acceptance. When our children reach the time where our paths diverge we stand at that crossroad, holding hope in our hearts that everything we have given will hold them steady in their journey. Knowing all choices hold challenges, we pray what wisdom and strength we have passed along provides them the resiliency they need to live their dreams.  So I will invoke the armor of love to surround my daughter as I wrap her in an until-next-time hug.

Then both of us will shoulder our packs and head out to explore the adventures calling us onward.



Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.


The Last Shall Be First

So fellow travelers, we have arrived back home after a long circuit of family visits for the holidays. Most of the drive was a tense journey on slippery, slushy roads through misty bands of wind driven snow. (God bless my husband for driving.) It felt like a very appropriate metaphor for the stressful twists and turns which made this past year such a challenge to navigate.

But there were moments of glorious adventure, great joy and earnest personal insights too. Just like the weekend’s cherished moments with family, the year now counting itself down brought gifts of love and laughter to ease the pangs of change and loss.

A bright full moon followed us on our drive home this evening and I realized this full moon is both the last full moon of 2017 and the first full moon of 2018. It too is a metaphor for my mind so full of thoughts about the coming year. To be honest I feel a bit of uneasiness regarding what lies ahead in the months to come although there is more hope in the mix than I felt a year ago.  There are many elements I am more than ready to leave behind when I change the calendar pages at midnight and there are lessons to carry forward to fortify the resiliency so essential to thriving in troubled times.

The last being first and first being last, are remnant puzzles from my Sunday School years, left unsolved by college comparative religion classes and only slightly clarified by meditative reflection on the yin-yang continuity of life’s ebb and flow.  What I know now is simply this.  What will be will be and when what is falls beyond our control, all we are left to master is our response to it. Our response may be the only choice we have in some circumstances, but it is also the most crucial choice we make because it creates the framework of how those circumstances affect us and how we in turn affect others.

So I have chosen to carry just one resolution with me as I cross this Light bridge created by last and first moons: this year I intend to be mindfully present in as many moments as I can, to experience these moments as fully as possible as they happen, unfiltered by past judgement or future concerns.

To that intent, a simple haiku for the moons of 2017-18.

So first shall be last  

The fullness of an ending

Beginning afresh

Happy New Year fellow travelers. Thank you for joining me along the way. 

Walk gently on the path my friends and as always, may the adventure of this coming year find you ready.




Zen Moment: Deep Freeze Sunrise 

So fellow travelers,  a deep cold  snap has settled over our humble home.

My little pond has become a skating rink for the resident squirrels who slide across the surface to drink from little pool which forms around the heated aerators. Below the ice, fish sleep suspended in hibernation until Spring.

Last night when howling winds woke me I thought I was hearing voices singing. The clock showed just past 3am but no ghosts of Christmases past, present or future appeared. Still the eerie chorus must have echoed in my sleep, strange images swirled in my dreams until dawn, fueled a bit by the dynamics of  processing the stress from the last month at work and balancing the logistics of family gatherings throughout the holidays.

I’ve been feeling the impact of some personal losses this season too so when I caught the radiant light of sunrise this morning it stirred a desperate longing for peace giving words to this haiku styled prayer.


I want to believe

In every sunrise promise

Dig deeper for faith

Breathe in reach for hope

Deep in my soul I know each of us will find our way forward through challenging times.  We have strong bonds of love woven by family and friends near and far. A new year is coming and although it is “just a flip of a page on the calendar,” as someone rather jaded recently pointed out, for me at least it is still a chance to review our direction and reset our course as needed.

The glowing Light of sunrise is my daily reminder every day brings the hope and promise of  a new beginning.  I will greet this coming year holding strong in my resolve to believe the journey always brings us to where we belong.



Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.



Christmas 2017

So fellow travelers, the last of our Candle Night lights has been lit.

Christmas Day has come.

Beautifully wrapped gifts from my dear friend Lisa.

There will be gifts and greetings shared with family near and far. We will linger over hearty meals and hugs. Thanks to the technology  of Skype we will be together with all our kids for a little while later today.

Outside winter winds howl and lake effect snow adds more and more inches to the holiday card scenes in my yard but no weather can lessen the warmth and Light of the joy in my heart on this blessed morning.

Treasured ornaments

Lifelong memories shine bright

Bringing peace and joy

Walk gently on the path my friends and may blessings of the season go always with you.

Grave Thoughts

So fellow travelers, many years ago I bought my first house, a compact two bedroom cape at the edge of the city I still reside near. One day a few weeks after moving in, I took a walk around the area with my dog and discovered a cemetery about a half mile from my quiet little street. It quickly became my sanctuary for walking meditation, a practice I was just beginning to include in my routines.

Perhaps because I visited one often as a child, cemeteries have always held a curious place in my awareness. Certainly I sensed the aura of sadness and loss surrounding the adults during these solemn graveside visits, but my experience was infused with a deep feeling of mystery. Most likely this is because any questions I might have asked would have been answered with “This is not something we talk about.”  So other than grasping the idea we came to honor people who were no longer alive, I was left to ponder on my own the significance of the vast variety of grave markers and tombstones, and wonder how those we honored knew we were doing so or for that matter exactly where they were, other than “no longer with us.”




One thing I did know with certainty from those visits was cemeteries are havens of bird habitat. Those Sunday morning visits might be the source of my initial interest in birds, because I remember seeing and hearing birds not found in our tiny backyard and wondering about them. So it is cemeteries still remain associated with mystery to me.

Since my mother-in-law’s death last year, I have become the person who, by both choice and default, tends to her grave.

I chose a simple flag to mark the site as Joan’s tombstone has not been set in place yet. 

Each visit, I take some time to absorb the restful serenity of the sanctuary. It’s evergreens and ancient oak trees are prime bird habitat throughout the seasonal changes and I can always count on a few cheerful songsters greeting me as I walk the quiet paths.

On my most recent visit I noticed how many graves had seasonal decorations. Sparkling wreaths, miniature Christmas trees, artificial poinsettias (real ones would perish within hours in our chilly weather)  and it occurred to me what I was seeing was a tremendous expression of love.



In fact this little community cemetery is full of grave sites that are decorated year round, vibrant statements standing in defiance of the emptiness of death.  There is a feeling of tenderness which brings life to a place which otherwise would instill sadness.  It’s truly a tribute of love’s power to transcend death.

Loss is pervasive

So is love its everywhere

even in graveyards

Over the years I’ve realized elaborate tombs and stone markers mean nothing to the deceased. Graves are points of reference, symbols to reassure the living that the dead have not been forgotten and tending to those sites is an active expression of love.

While there are also cemeteries in Asia, many Asians have small altars in their homes where the deceased are honored.  My mom has one by a big window in their apartment. Small dishes of water, food or salt (a symbol of purification) are set before photos of my grandparents. I cherish the way this tradition makes the deceased part of the daily lives of the living, so I created one in my home too. It is a meaningful way to integrate loss and the process of grief into the fabric of daily life.

Tending my ancestral slater and mother-in-laws grave are both acts of love, different but honorable. In this holiday season when an empty chair at family gatherings hits hard they are reminders that love lives on in our hearts.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready



Zen Moment : Secret Smile

So fellow travelers, it’s that time of year when darkness begins to encroach on both ends of my day.

Now sunrise kisses the sky just as I am headed in to work. A few days ago, I caught sight of the last faint sliver of the waning 4th quarter moon. Just a wisp of light, a smile fading quickly in the glare of daylight, a symbol of hidden joy. Hidden perhaps by the harsh glare of day’s demanding realities but known now to me, a secret tucked into my awareness to reach for when my own smile fades.

Night gives way to day

Crescent moon’s ghost of a smile

Joy’s hidden secret

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Postscript: The moment also reminded me of another smile I found on my #Spiritof60 Road Trip. You can read about that in the post at this link .

Old Friends

So fellow travelers, once in a while I get text alerts from NASA letting me know the International Space Station will be visible as it passes over my location.

ISS in skyPhoto credit:  Society for Popular Astronomy

Ever since my first sighting a few years ago, I get a thrill from spotting this brilliant white speck as it zooms across the sky. Part of this is the challenge of navigating the directions to pinpoint the ISS location, part of it is sheer amazement at the accomplishment of sending and keeping something so substantial in orbit and a good measure of it is realizing as I look up there are fellow humans zooming along in that white beacon so far away.  How lucky they are gazing down at our home planet below as they do all sorts of fascinating scientific stuff. For a few minutes, I feel like I am part of the grand adventure.

This sense of wonder is so uplifting I have been known to rise hours earlier than my usual wake-up time for the chance to see the ISS. Of course, living near Syracuse, NY, which ranks in the top three on the list of cloudiest cities, there is never a guarantee of clear skies, so any sighting truly is a gift.

Earlier this week, luck graced my choice to rise early. A star studded crystal clear sky greeted me when I stepped out on to our deck. Steam rose from my coffee mug as I scanned the familiar icons.

The vshaped “head” of  Taurus, seven glittering sister stars of the Pleides cluster riding on his back, Sirius and Procyon the dog stars resting at the feet of their Master Orion. The atmosphere was so clear, I caught a rare (at least for me) sight of  Orion’s sword, a string of tiny stars dangling from the line of brighter more easily sighted stars in his belt.

These are constellations which reign the night skies in Winter. The reminder sent a chill through me but I smiled warmed by the thought that Orion connects me to some good people I once described* as  “old friends who’ve just met.”

I’ll be seeing some of those friends soon. True friendships unaltered by a futile battle of words intended to create division by doubt, forged like steel by trust which shines as constant as the stars.

Then zooming over the tree line to the west, the bright white dot of the ISS shot into view. I tracked it’s long graceful arc through the stars already beginning to fade in the predawn light.  It left me these words



Orion rises

I’ll catch his stars with my heart

Friendship’s beacon calls




Photo Credit:

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

*Postscript:  “Old friends who’ve just met” are words from a post written just three years ago; that it feels more like three decades speaks to the level of upheaval wrought as a friends struggled to separate from toxic leadership within a creative collective. A significant number of the original members split off into a separate community. It has been nearly two years since the first fractures formed, yet periodically the shock waves of those events still reverberate through both communities, fueled largely by anyone still harboring anger and resentment. Fear and doubt can be powerful challenges to communal ties if left unaddressed. The admins of the newer community are reasonably adept at fostering an open dialogue to address issues when they come up. Not everyone can tolerate the intensity of emotional discussion; some friendships have disintegrated. I am grateful the ones that matter most to me have weathered the storms.