As the Wheel Turns

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

Melissa reflects on truly living life, moving from wishes to action with a brave and open heart

My yoga teacher Peggy has been known to say during class,
“Triangle pose is like a little black dress. You can take it anywhere.”

As my birthday month comes to a close I have been ruminating on all, like the triangle pose, that is wise, helpful and transportable. Even more so than New Years, my birthday has become a time of reflection and review. Like my closet, my life gets a spring cleaning at every year when the wheel turns toward my birthday. “This gets tossed, this stays, this needs cleaning and that needs altering.” Although this year has been rife with challenges, I am not immune to the good news and that is the wheel is still turning. And with each turn of the wheel I garner new pieces of wisdom to add to the mix and I become myself and push my brave tender heart toward the promise of a new day.

Recently I read a blog titled “Inspiration and Chai” by Bronnie Ware. For many years Bronnie worked in palliative care with the terminally ill. As such she was privy to the intimate revelations of the dying. Bronnie noticed that there were common themes as people voiced their thoughts about living and dying, and what they wished they had done differently.

The most common regret was,“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” Read more

The Long Road

Filed Under All Posts, Melissa Howden, Reinvention | 16 Comments

Photo by Melissa A Howden

With her eyes on the road ahead, for Melissa it’s been a journey of miles, memories and insights

As a child my mantra was, “When I grow up I’m going to… __”(fill-in-the blank). Usually I was exclaiming what I was going to do, or know, or be. I think back now on how I must have felt then making such definitive statements and I long for such simple confidence and belief.

Theoretically I am “grown up” but generally speaking I’m really just figuring IT all out on a daily, sometimes, hourly basis. And as I go it’s becoming clear that the more I think I should know, the less I really do.

A recent work-related change of location and the necessary drive across the country provided hours for contemplation and a framework for a glimmer of the understanding I’ve been seeking. The long road became a tome of memory, and simple insight mile after big sky mile. Read more

Cruising at an Altitude of 37,000 Feet

Filed Under All Posts, Melissa Howden, Reinvention | 16 Comments

Photo by M.A. Howden

From high in the sky, Melissa’s perspective brings change into focus

I am above the clouds at 37,000 feet, coming back from a trip to peer into my future which, in an odd twist of fate, actually might take place in a place I thought was my past.

A week or so ago someone dear said to me, “I never thought my life would look like this at 54.” Some days later I heard myself echoing the sentiment to someone else adjusting the age down by a year.

I don’t have any idea why I said that though because I don’t recall ever imagining the age of 53 at all. In fact I don’t think it ever occurred to me to think about what life would be like at the age of 53. When my mother was 53, I was 30 and I have some sense that at that time I was still kind of thinking life was about to happen, or rather thinking that whatever I was doing, and wherever I was couldn’t really be it.

It is easier to recall what I know I would not have imagined; I would not have thought that by now my best friend would already be dead. I never would have believed that someone I respected, trusted and looked to for inspiration would let me work for him and then simply not pay the thousands of dollars owed to me. A scenario in which the person I loved with my life betraying me and humiliating me even as I celebrated her, would not have flickered in my imagination. I could not have imagined then that a “bad hair day” now would entail more worry that my hair looks “middle-aged” rather than simply out of control. Read more

Baby got Back!

Filed Under All Posts, Group Posts, Humor, Prudence Baird | 15 Comments

The Reader by Fernando Botero

The Reader by Fernando Botero

After almost two decades of being so thin that I could pull my size 4 pants down to my ankles without unzipping the fly, I finally have some junk in my trunk.

Believe it or not, that’s change I can live with.

For years, I’ve felt like the oddball when girlfriends discussed the inevitable weight gain that seems to come with age. I pretended to by sympathetic, cocking my head, clucking at all the right moments. Not that I was unsympathetic, but while they were worried about morphing into Mama Cass, my fear was I was withering into Margaret Hamilton, whose bony wrists I found almost as frightening as the Flying Monkeys she commanded.

And sympathy is only a one-way street when it comes to weight. I learned this the hard way when a girlfriend once snapped at me, “What would you know about it? You’re probably always thinking, ‘At least I’m the thinnest person in the room.’”

Not really. I’m usually thinking, “I’m the most wrinkled woman in the room.” Read more


Filed Under All Posts, Connie Stetson, Group Posts, Politics | 10 Comments


The day after the election I left my house in an elated state; filled with hope and joy and possibility.  Visiting business after business passing out fliers and gathering support for our local domestic violence agency, Mountain Crisis Services, I was feeling empowered and basking in that “Yes, We Can” glow, when I saw a bumper sticker that read, “I’ll keep my guns, bible, and my money—You can keep the ‘change.’”  Why, thank you knuckledragger, I think I will.

Already our new, young, biracial, intellectual, forward-thinking, forward-looking president has closed that bastion of shame, the Guantanamo detention center; has banned secret CIA prisons overseas and pledged to fight terrorism “in a manner that is consistent with our values and out ideals;” banned TORTURE and is moving to restore our precious, unique country to its promise.  Remember, America promised the world that no matter what your background, no matter how humble or disorganized, that if you worked hard and participated in this system, that you, your children and your grandchildren, could live a better life, and you could rise as high as your dreams could lift you.  My heart tells me that we are again, back on the path to showing the world that we keep our promises. Read more

Winds of Change

Filed Under All Posts, Cathy Fischer, Environment, Group Posts | 5 Comments

Sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy

Sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy

When we decided to write about change, I didn’t realize how omnipresent it was. It’s everywhere. Change pricks up my ears and engages my senses.

The artist Andy Goldsworthy comes to mind. I recently re-watched his documentary Rivers and Tides to inspire my chemo flow visualizations. His creations are often ephemeral; captured in time, mostly by photographs or film. His work consists of painstaking ice sculptures that melt away; bursts of colored rock powders that disappear into thin air; leaves held together by fragile twigs which flow down a river, shaped by the rocks, shaped by the river, shaped by the rain.

The weather is warm in California. It’s February and the trees are confused. Magnolias are blooming and my pedicure is seeing the light of day. Biologists document the disappearance of a butterfly in the Bay Area.

I’m seeing change in my urban life as well. Read more

Do the Write Thing

Filed Under All Posts, Prudence Baird, Technology | 12 Comments


“I can hardly remember the last time I received an actual letter let alone one I enjoyed as much as I did yours.

So begins a recent email I received last week. The writer wasn’t responding to a holiday form letter I sent, but a personal letter written only to her, telling of events transpired and thoughts I’ve had since my move to Vermont.

I sat down at my desk one wintry afternoon and wrote while a gentle snow tucked the world outside my window under a sparkling blanket of white. An email would have taken half that time, but would have given a quarter of the pleasure—to both writer and recipient.

Email replaces letter writing as our principal means of both casual and formal communication; it is, after all, so terribly convenient. But in bowing down to expediency, we are losing the detailed records of individual lives that inform the future about today. Read more

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