The Heart of It

Filed Under All Posts, Melissa Howden, Relationships | 14 Comments


Corazon by Mark Carter

Melissa reflects on the legacy of separation and the ways in which we cope

Some week’s back, the cover of The New York Times had a picture of two young boys tearfully clinging to their father who was returning to one war zone or another after a leave. The look of panic and pain on the younger boy’s face haunts me.

I have a similar photograph from 70 years ago on the day my grandfather left to go to war. In the photograph my eight-year-old father appears more stoic than the boys in the NY Times but I know from letters and first hand reports that the one photograph of that day does not tell the whole story.

I will always wonder if the father in The New York Times photograph comes home. I know my grandfather didn’t and that legacy of separation has been passed down in my family. This is the story of countless families throughout history, changed by the legacy of loss at the hand of war, economics, borders, political posturing and empire building. Read more

The Menoblahs

Filed Under All Posts, Connie Stetson, Reinvention | 17 Comments


Faded Rose, daily painting #168 by John Farnsworth

From ennui to elastic waistbands, Connie’s singing the menopause blues

As I was gazing this morning into my 15x mirror, plucking here and there, the increasingly annoying black whiskers on my upper lip, I reflected upon the changes in my life, my change of life, my menopause, what I am now calling the” menoblahs”; and as I pluck, pluck, plucked, I thought long and hard about how much really I hate this shit.

I was one of those women who actually looked forward to menopause. I could not wait for the freedom and the neatness, for clear skin, and a steady weight. I believed Dr. Christiane Northrup when she wrote about the “Wisdom of Menopause” and I looked forward to the promise of “The Pleasures of Menopause”. May I just say, in response to those two urban myths, and with my middle finger fully erect, “PTHHHP”!! I have not found any pleasure in menopause, and the only wisdom I’ve gleaned is to quit believing once and for always, anything a size 2, blonde, nip/tucked TV/author/doctor has to say. While I acknowledge that indeed I do have freedom from the tampon, I’m hostage to the hot flashes. I am tidily not hemorrhaging all over my white jeans, but some juice from somewhere would be nice. My skin, though I’m not breaking out once a month, is itchy and dry, and my weight? Well, it’s steady all right—steadily going up. When I gained the first ten pounds I said I’ve gone all fluffy, now I’m just plain heavy, man. Read more

Retreat and Advance

Filed Under All Posts, Christie Healey, Courage, Relationships | 9 Comments

As Christie checks in, her mind checks out — a new year, a new approach

New Year’s Eve celebrations have seemed less than satisfying in the past few years. Most parties are filled with couples and at the stroke of midnight I am the one standing off to the side gamely smiling. So I decided I would try something different, a personal 24 hour retreat to contemplate the year past and the year about to arrive.

On Friday afternoon I took myself off to an expensive local hotel and checked in. When I handed the completed form to the desk clerk, she read it through and stared at me. “You live in St. Paul?” I nodded. She gave me a piercing look and handed over my room key. As I walked to the elevators I could feel her eyes on me, and the little bag I carried. It was not until I reached my room that it dawned on me, Crikey; I’ve been put on suicide watch in a luxury hotel! I wondered if I should go back down to the desk and assure them I was sound in mind and spirit. Then decided that I may not be that convincing.

I was here to think, and not think. To let thoughts come and go and travel where they may. To examine some of my irrational fears, search for prejudices and pre-conceptions, try and discover what I wanted in my life and what steps I needed to take to make it happen. All this I would have to do while ordering room service every hour so that no-one would break the door down to see if I was “okay.” Read more

Teachers Come in All Sizes

Filed Under All Posts, Parenting | 7 Comments

We’re please to introduce our first guest blogger: co-founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition and contributor to the Huffington Post, Lisa Kaas Boyle describes herself as an environmental attorney, mother and life-long learner. Welcome Lisa!

I was one of those people who always dreamed of having children, even when I was a child myself. Naturally, I had a lot of expectations about being a parent. Many of these expectations turned out to be false — like the idea that having a child would be like having a part of me break off and develop into another me. I quickly learned that, apart from some obvious genetic similarities, my kids came to me as strangers I had to get to know. The next big surprise, and this was even more shocking to me, was that my kids would be teaching ME things.

My son Jake, who turned 13 this month, has been one of my greatest teachers. He taught me a profound lesson when he was not yet two. I had recently quit working outside the home to be a “stay-at-home mom.” Read more

Contemplating Kindness

Filed Under All Posts, Cathy Fischer, Health | 12 Comments


tags by a.favorite

Cathy reflects on the positive reverberations of kindness and connection

It’s a new year, a new decade and time for a fresh start. Sometimes moving forward is just about going back, back to basics—and human kindness is about as basic as you can get.

In my last post, I wrote about my “funkified” state, concluding that self-kindness, loving-kindness, might be the best approach for calming the turbulent seas of my funk. Now, less than two months later, I believe it to be true. The cloud has lifted and despite many days of gray skies and rain, my enthusiasm has not dampened. My success was in large portion thanks to the kindness of others and finding out that I was not alone in my predicament. That and accepting that time was not on any particular schedule of my making, thus waiting for change while wading through the muck using patience and breath to get me through.

Kindness is free and limitless. It is a practice, an attitude, an approach. It’s an openhearted form of generosity that goes hand in hand with compassion; the more you practice kindness, the more natural it becomes. Jews speak of Tikkun Olam, to heal the world. Buddhists practice loving-kindness meditation. What would Jesus do? He’d be kind. Read more