And then, somehow she just knew, it was time to stop

This is what Riley looked like when I started blogging in 2006. She was six years old.

 Seth was four.

Over 3000 posts later (and many more never published), I feel it is time to stop.

Blogging has been a huge part of my life over these past few years. I needed it. I needed to express myself, and I needed the feedback from you lovely, lovely people. The kindness and support of my blog readers has buoyed me.

You donated roughly half the funds for Riley’s service dog. I know I already thanked every contributor personally, but again…THANK YOU.  It is impossible to say how much comfort Jingle brings to Riley’s life. How much joy she brings the whole family.

Lately, I feel pulled toward putting my creativity into something else. Maybe it is time for me to go back to work as a nurse? Maybe I need to write something different? Maybe Todd will take a job doing travel pharmacy and we’ll visit you as we go across the country in short stints? Maybe we’ll go completely off the grid? Maybe we’ll move to Kalamazoo? Maybe I’ll sit by a lake at sunset and just “be” with my family.

I don’t know.

But I am feeling like I need the space to figure it out. To look inside without the distractions of checking my blog for comments, taking time to post, deleting massive amounts of spam, being addicted to the blogging process so much I’m not present in my moment, because I’m thinking about how I’ll write about it later.

This is my beautiful girl now. Ten years old. Kind and pure of heart. Almost too old for her mom to be sharing all her biz.  

This is my boy. Joyful and wise beyond his years.

Dont tell him, but we’re surprising him with a puppy of his own when he turns eight next month. He’s wanted a Chihuahua for years, long before we ever started talking of a service dog for Riley. He so deserves it.  

This is who we have on hold.


Seth has no idea. He thinks he has to wait ’til he’s nine, because Riley was nine when she got her dog.  The thought of this surprise makes me giddy. I knew you’d want to know about it.

I asked HT if it was fair, to quit blogging when things are up in the air for us. He laughed and said jokingly,

“If they want to know what happens, they can buy the book.”

Forgive me, but I kind of like it this way. Having you envisioning us moving forward with open ended possibilites.

When you think of us, I hope you think of an imperfect woman who is really trying. A mother who loves her children fiercely, and strives to help them see their own goodness and value even as she struggles some days to see her own.

I hope you think of a kind and good man, and a joyful marriage.

I hope you picture Riley confident, and secure, coming into her own.


I hope you see Seth as the beacon of love and light he is.

I hope you imagine us always expanding, always becoming more of Who We Really Are.

Always loving.

I hope you know how much each and every one of you has meant to me. How much I appreciate you.

I hope you love yourself.

Thank you for being with me in this space.

Lovingly yours always,



Vineyards of Love and Romance, by Angelo Zuccolo

It is always such a treat for me when my former theater professor writes a new book of poetry. I was fortunate to do a work study in the theater, and we worked side by side for a couple of semesters. In all that time, he never talked much about his personal life. He was a single dad. Sure, he gushed about his daughters, but not a peep about his love life.

His romantic poetry is so very personal. It almost feels like I shouldn’t be reading it! Like I happened upon his diary and took advantage of the situation!

Still, it’s the poems about his daughters which get to me most. Angelique and Marielle. Just little girls when I met them. Both grown now. Gorgeous dark haired beauties, making their way in the world as successful adults.

Looking Forward to Heaven


people ask me

if I’m looking forward to Heaven. 

My reply is always

the same,


that I have already been to


every time that I walked down

our road

with you on

your little blue tricycle

on my left

with your little sister in

her little blue stroller

in the center


our wonderful family dog

strutting along on our right.

We sang marvelous little songs

as we went on our way,



calling out to the world.

Oh yes,

I’ve already been to Heaven

many times, and

it’s as incredibly joyful

as people say.

See why he’s so special?

Everyone should have such a teacher in their lives.

Here’s hoping we all look around and see a little heaven in our own lives today.

Angelo Zuccolo is the author of At Nighttime’s Bedside, New Year’s Laughtears, The Ocean Rose, Forty-Four Poems in Search of a Long Black Dress, and numerous short stories and playscripts.

Knock, Knock, Knock

Many of you know Todd is a hospital pharmacist who works evening shift. For the past couple of years he has worked 7 long days on/7 off. During his 7 off, he usually did some overtime. He has worked every other weekend for the last two years. It’s a lot.  

Our family was feeling the strain of this schedule. Having him gone for 7 days in a row was okay at first, but with home schooling it means 7 days of me and Riley, 24/7. 

Besides the too much togetherness factor, his 7 on, every other week, kind of isolates me. I can’t take a class, or join a weekly group, etc. because we have no coverage during the weeks he works. Plus it takes me a day or two to get used to him each time he comes off his shift. For us, it is a disjointed way to live and we were feeling disconnected. The week off sounded nice, but since he never really took it, well…you know.   

So while the kids were at camp this summer and we had some time to think, and talk about what is best for our family and our marriage, we decided it might be better if he worked regular hours, like everyone else in his dept. Mostly days, and then each pharmacist has to rotate through evenings once in a while. Where he had been working every other weekend, it would be stretched out to one weekend a month. That seemed more manageable. It’s what he’d been doing before he volunteered for the evening shift.   

He approached his young boss about changing back and was smacked down.

Todd has an impeccable work ethic and an impeccable record. While most hospital pharmacists have a significant error rate, his is practically non-existent. He is a workhorse. He puts in hundreds more orders a day than most of the other pharmacists who are happy to let him pick up the slack. He catches many, many more mistakes than his colleagues do. He is really, really good at what he does. He’s never called in sick once. And since he has management experience, (he left an Assistant Director’s job in order to be home more when Riley was three) his young boss often comes to him with questions, asking for advice on how to run the department.

But this young boss told Todd “no.”

No can do.  

And Todd said he would have to leave.

And the short sighted young boss did not make the slightest effort to keep him.

And my husband, who tries to keep it all together for us at home, and who works circles around everyone else in his department, is opening up and asking himself some questions.

Namely, “Why am I busting my tail for a department that could not care less about me?”

“Why am I living in a house, when I am not handy, and the maintenance overwhelms me and makes me miserable?” 

“What else could we be doing with our lives?”

“How else could we be living?”

And I look at this man whom I love, and I LOVE it. I love his questions. I love that he is thinking outside the box. I love that he is valuing himself, even if his boss doesn’t. I would trade being a homeowner any day for a spouse who had to work less, and who was happy. 

And I don’t know what we’re going to do.

We moved to Cleveland for a school for Riley. We found one that worked well for a couple of years, until it didn’t. We were mostly sticking around here for Todd’s job. Luckily, in his line of work, it’s pretty easy to find another one. We don’t take that for granted, especially when so many people are out of work, but do we want to stay in Cleveland? Maybe. There is a lot about Cleveland to love and appreciate. But maybe not.

We’re looking around. Exploring the possibilities. Exploring alternate ways of living. We’re even looking at traveling pharmacist positions. Who knows? Seth wants to be home schooled too. If we could do it in Hawaii, why not? Everyone work, work, works, in order to save up some vacation to travel. What if we took a year or two and did just that?  

Maybe I’ll be a travel nurse, and he can work part-time? The possibilities are endless.

We already hear the outside voices whispering in our ears as they have in the past, “You two think you can just run away. You’re never happy anywhere.” Voices that would say just suck it up, at least he has a job. Voices that would call me a complainer for daring to say out loud what I need. Voices that would rather play it safe, under all circumstances. Of course those voices are just mirrors of our own fears. 

When listen to the still small voice within, there is no fear. No limits.  

I don’t know how it is all going to unfold. We might stay put. He might just find another job here in Cleveland.

As Todd told me the news from his boss, there was a glimmer in his eye. As much as it hurt him to feel unappreciated, (and it really did) there was freedom in it too. It was good information to have.

Jerri sent me a quote recently by novelist Margaret Drabble,

“When nothing is sure, everything is possible.”

Opportunity knocks.

If you could live anyplace, where would it be, and why?

Trying on “mean” for size

We have been having an awesome summer.

Riley and Seth had so much fun at music camp, and Todd and I got to have a little bit of time together without the kids for a couple of hours in the mornings. A rare treat, let me tell you! I’d been having a hard time for a while, but my hormones are back in balance and I feel good. Riley combed her hair by herself the other day. First time ever. She just could never figure out where her body was in space before. She was not able to do it. She’d get so upset trying, making her hair a mess, and then two days ago, she just did it! Like it was nothing. Like she’d been combing her own hair all along.

Seth has learned to pump on the swing. Almost eight and he just could never get it before. It was the one physical thing Riley had sole bragging rights to over him. She is happy for him though, and now the two of them swing and swing and swing as long as I let them.


Energy is definitely shifting here for the O’Neils. Things are happening. Folks, I’m not going to be blogging much longer. I just feel a change coming. Like I need to open up a space for something else. I don’t know what it is, but I feel it. Like it’s right there.


Friday we went to visit my friend Lidi in her amazing little sleepy lake community, hidden just off highway 306. 

What you don’t see in the picture below is the pile of mud Riley has hidden in her right hand.

She’s stealthily about to try something new. 

It’s called being mean.


She sweetly called Seth over to the ladder, and when he started up it, she splatted the whole side of his face with mud. He was furious. Mud even got in his ear.

Immediately I called her over to where I stood on the sandy beach, and asked her, “What would possess you to do that to him?”

Inwardly I’m thinking, “He has been nothing but kind and patient and loving and sweet to you his WHOLE life!! @)()@#_)$”

Riley sat in the water, staring at the wet sand she’d starting dripping hand to hand, muttering “Well…well….well…well…well…”

I told her to apologize and she ramped it up,” WELL… WELL… WELL… WELL… WELL!!”

I forced her to look at her brother, who sat all folded in on himself, dejected.

“Riley, how do you think he feels right now?” She glanced up quick, then turned away. Couldn’t deal with it.

“Seth, how do you feel?” I asked. She was going to hear this.


“What else? What’s behind mad?”

“Sad,” he said, head down.  

“That’s right, sad is always behind mad,” I said to Riley.


It was time to leave, so I decided to address it later. Made sure Seth knew I saw it, and this wasn’t finished, but we had to gather up things and get going.

Within twenty minutes Riley had apologized. Had I dug my heels in, it would have been a big ugly meltdown, and I would have been fried for the ride home.

Talking to her later, she explained, “Girls are supposed to be mean,” and “Girls are always mean to boys and they don’t apologize,” and how on the TV show iCarly, “so & so is mean to so & so, and she never apologizes, and how she felt like maybe “she didn’t know how to be a girl right, and how she wishes she could be a boy instead” because it’s so confusing and makes her so mad when girls are mean.

It’s as if she were trying on “mean” for size.

We talked and talked about how anyone who is feeling connected with their Source would never be mean to anyone. How when people feel separate and alone, or threatened it sometimes causes them to act out in mean ways. How meanness is not a natural state for anyone, and how no one is “supposed” to act that way, even if many do. Even if they do it on iCarly. Girls are not designed to be mean. Girls are feminine and sacred at their core. When people are mean, they are actually very afraid and lost.

Riley seemed relieved after our talk. 

Because this mean thing? She really doesn’t have it in her.

(Riley, Lidi, Seth, Jingle and Lidi’s dog Gus)