Safe Travels

After an exhausting month, and following an exhausting day, I dropped the girl off at school and headed to the beach. I had about an hour before I was to teach. I walked for a little bit, then sat in my trusty four-year-old $10 beach chair from Target.

A family walked by. Two boys. Maybe 8 and 10. One boy flapping his hands fast and furiously, appearing to be excited by the water, the freedom of the ocean air. It likely wasn’t his usual routine to be at the beach at 9AM on a Tuesday. They seemed to be on vacation.

Passing me without noticing me, I noticed them. My attention went to the mom. My heart went out to her.

Without knowing her story, I know her. Having autism comes with gifts, but it isn’t easy. It comes with challenges. When those challenges cause your child to suffer, you suffer too. So this mom has been through some stuff. The whole family likely has. And let’s be real, vacations with kids are technically not vacations for moms, as a rule.

Closing my eyes, I took a breath and sent them loving-kindness. I prayed for their happiness and that they be safe from harm. That they be healthy. That their lives be easier rather than harder.

I like to pray for unsuspecting people. It’s a good way to pass time while you’re waiting. I do it in line a lot. If you’re bored, antsy? Look around and pray for someone. And if you don’t pray…you can just wish them well. Or give them the benefit of the doubt.

If you want a real workout, pray for someone you don’t like. I did this recently and it really changed a very charged negative loop I was on about someone. It reminded me I didn’t really know her struggles, or what would make her act like such a hag.

What a relief.

Anyway…I hope that family is having the best vacation. I hope that boy is flapping with joy, and that his heart is content. I hope the mom is getting some time-outs, just for her. May they be well.

Safe travels, everyone.

The Only Way Out is Through

Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith of the Agape International Spiritual Center often tells the story of a chick inside an egg. He says at first it’s pretty comfy in there. It has everything it needs. Enough to eat. Lots of room. As the chick grows, it becomes less and less comfortable. Resources begin to dwindle. It starts to fester in its own stench. It becomes toxic. 

The chick has to get out. 

The chick does not know what’s on the other side. But instinctively it cannot stay in the egg. It begins to peck. It begins to break free. It can’t know what is to come, but it will die if it doesn’t take action. And taking action is difficult. It can make your beak sore. It can take everything you’ve got. 

But once free, a whole new world opens up. A whole new life. 

How often do we stay in situations that do not serve us, because we are afraid of the unknown? Because we have no faith in what cannot yet be seen?  

The chick cannot become what it is meant to become within the confines of the egg. 

So it does the only thing it can do, it gets to work. 

Be it little ‘ole you, or an entire country, “The only way out is through.” *

Keep going. 


*Robert Frost






Blatant Suffering

I went to a Yin Yoga workshop recently with a Buddhist teacher named Sarah Powers. She explained that in Buddhist philosophy, it is a given that suffering happens in life. No one gets out unscathed.

So, there is suffering. But then there is something she described as “making the suffering worse,” or blatant suffering.

Suffering is an unavoidable aspect of being alive, but then we pour gasoline on the fire of our suffering, and really run with it.

Easy example: Someone cuts me off in traffic, I suffer. Maybe it was a close call. Maybe it scared me. But then what do I do to hold onto that suffering? What do I make someone cutting me off in traffic mean? What is at the core?

-He didn’t wait his turn.

-That’s not fair.

-I’ve been disrespected.

-I don’t matter (how far back does that go)?


How long do I suffer over this incident? Am I still suffering ten miles down the road? Do I need to be?


My child has a problem at school. I suffer. I don’t like to see my child in pain. Putting wind in the sails of my suffering, I look too far ahead. Off I go, predicting all kinds of future suffering for my child (and thus for me). Berating myself as a parent. Did I not do enough of this, or too much of that? Berating the other players involved. Lamenting why the world is the way it is.

Do I need to go there? Can I just be in this difficult moment with my sorrow? Do I need to heap onto it and make it worse?

Can I make room for my own suffering, rather than run from it?

Can I meet my own suffering with humility, rather than chesting up to it screaming, “NO!”

Can I just say, “Oh…there you are,” and offer it compassion, acknowledging every other person on the planet suffers too, at some point. Even if they put on a show, pretending they are immune.

The first step is to recognize suffering for what it is. In a moment of angst, can I be present enough to pause and name it:

I am suffering. 

This would be a good time to take some breaths.

And then might I ask, How am I making it worse?

More breaths.


Pain in my shoulder roused me from sleep this morning. It’s chronic, off and on, but mostly on. In those moments between sleep and awake I noted it as suffering. 

Lying there in bed, in the dark, eyes closed, I didn’t resist. Silently, I whispered to my shoulder pain, “There is room for you.”



lifting into consciousness.

By the time I was fully awake,

it was gone.

Rampage of Appreciation


There is a little park in the neighborhood where our son goes to school. The school is about 30 minutes away from home. I drive all over the place teaching, and often there is a window, sometimes 20 minutes, sometimes two hours, where it does not make sense for me to drive home, and then drive back to get him. I go to the park. I went today.


I bring my little beach chair, which is always in the car. I sit. Sometimes I close my eyes and meditate. I always have my Kindle. The cat tails sway in the breeze. I pay no heed to the “Beware of Alligators” signs. I just don’t think I’m delicious enough to worry about them. And I’ve never seen one there. Just iguanas. And ducks and pelicans.

There is public restroom at the park, which is vital.


Today I was doing kind of an informal, open-eyed meditation. Just observing my surroundings and I couldn’t help but go into a rampage of appreciation. If you are familiar with the work of Abraham-Hicks, you understand the term. It’s an appreciation binge.

Suddenly, I was so very aware that someone(s) had planned this park. There were likely lots of meetings and red tape. Someone had the idea for it. Others built it. They cleared the space. They planted. They constructed. They mapped it all out and brought it to fruition.

All I had to do was show up.

They brought plumbing in for the bathrooms. They paved the sidewalk and the parking lot. They mow the grass and trim the shrubs. They maintain the dock that I sometimes sit and meditate on.


And don’t even get me started on the natural beauty given freely from the Divine. Every leaf. Every ripple in the lake. Every bird song. The smell of grass and earth and blossoms. The cat tails in all their forms as the seasons change; the sound they make in the breeze. The cloud formations in the sky; a different show, every day. A pelican streaming head-first straight down into the water for his lunch. An iguana basking in the sun. The feel of a cup of warm tea in my hands, and the taste of a chocolate cookie, bought at a nearby bakery.

A quiet moment. A break in the day where I can take it all in.

We are surrounding by blessings.

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”

-Meister Eckhart

Parents….you are enough.

While in LA, I met up with some friends, (more on them in a later post) who mentioned Elaine Hall of The Miracle Project. I was familiar with Hall because I’d done a review on Autism the Musical for Age of Autism a couple of years back. It is a wonderful documentary. So she was on my mind when I got home, and I googled her, and up pops her blog with this gorgeous message: “Dayenu.”

For Hall’s full post on this video click here.

Take a breath.

Then another.

We are all enough.


All is well….

Green mat, third in on the left, closest row.

I’m in LA. Typing this from my balcony on the 17th floor. The picture was taken yesterday at 7AM from my friend Kathy’s room. We are at the Agape International Spiritual Center’s Revelations Conference. Amazing speakers. Incredible music. Abraham was here today. So much to take in. So much expansion. So much love here. The energy is incredible.

I’ve met many wonderful people. I’ve been prayed for. I’ve been massaged. I’ve had energy work done on me. I’ve been singing and dancing.

I’ve talked to my Hot Toddy and the kiddos on the phone, and felt the love from there. I am so very full right now.

My life is a good life.

And it is only getting better.

I love my family. I love my friends. I love the breeze blowing through my hair. I love my understanding of spirituality.  I love knowing I am one of God’s perfect ideas, and so are you. I love the sounds of happy people swimming in the pool 17 stories below. I love knowing I will be going to a banquet tonight, and there will be music. GOOD music, and I love knowing I’ll be dancing.

Ripples and ripples of appreciation for it all.


Fill in the ________.

One of the songs we are doing in Windsong this season is called Stand. One of the lyrics in Stand is…

“It starts with a whisper, the smallest I am.”

When we were working on this song in rehearsal my friend Jan scribbled, on a piece of paper, “That line reminds me of Horton Hears a Who.” (Of course she did this when Karen our director was working with a different section…we second sopranos are always paying attention at rehearsal).

I scribbled back “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Jan scribbled back,

“A person’s a person, no matter how _________.”

Fill in the blank.


And since we’re on a Dr. Seuss roll, the following is an e-mail exchange between HT and I last night.

He worked evening shift yesterday, and earlier I had whipped up a nice dinner for him(not a daily occurrence but he sure appreciates it when it happens), packed it up and sent him off to work. Later, I received this e-mail:

I ate my dinner and it was delish. Thank you very much. I appreciate you so very much and think you are the greatest. I hope you have a good night and I’ll talk to you later.

I replied with this:

Would you love me on a boat?

Would you love me on a float?

Would you love me though I bloat?

He shot back:

I would love you on a boat, on a float, and in a moat. I would love you on a train, in the rain or on a trip to Spain.

Note the glossing over of the bloat situation.

Well played, Todd O’Neil.

Mrs. W.

Mrs. W. was the lunch lady at my elementary school. She was mean and everyone hated her. She was obese, with a softball sized goiter and a severe hunchback. Her eyes bugged out in that unattended thyroid kind of way.

Her cantankerousness was legendary. She ran that lunch room like a drill Sargent. There would be no walking around. There would be no shenanigans. She’d be all up in your face if you even looked at her funny. She’d inspect your tray and send you back to your seat if you tried to dump any of the soggy school lunch in the trash.

It was cool in elementary school to have your parent come visit you for lunch once in a while. One day my mom was visiting me. I was in third grade. But my sister was in sixth, and my mom got up to go over and say hello to my sister on the other side of the gym/cafeteria. My mom is petite, and she was only about 27 at the time. From behind, Mrs. W. mistook my mom for a fifth or sixth grader, grabbed her by the shoulders, and laid into her for being “up from her seat” without permission. Mrs. W. was shocked to realize it was a grown woman she was manhandling.

It was a glorious moment. Mrs. W. looked foolish. Oh the glee! Here, a grown up, my mom, had proof of how mean Mrs. W. was. Inwardly, we children were dancing jigs. We snickered at our table and talked about it for weeks.

Thirty five years later, I know what it feels like to have your thyroid out of whack. My out of whack must be a speck of what Mrs. W.’s was…with that goiter, those eyes. Her physical condition spoke of some serious neglect throughout her life. The world had not been kind to her. That woman did not feel good and it wasn’t just the thyroid. The proper term for hunch back is “kyphosis.” I looked it up, and with kyphosis comes musculoskeletal pains, tension headaches, back aches, and joint pains.

Try dealing with that while being in charge of a gym full of rowdy children, squeaking out pennies for it, I’m sure.

No one is born hateful.

I’m not saying it was okay for Mrs. W. to terrify the kids in my elementary school.

I just wish she would have experienced being cared for, so she’d have known how to be kind to the children in her charge.

You Are That, From the Chandogya Upanishad, Chapter 6

Click here to read a beautiful passage of a father teaching his child Who He Is.

My babies…you are part of everything good and beautiful. Integral parts of the larger whole.

Oh the glorious beauty of words.

Oh the endless sources of inspiration, always more to be discovered, God is everywhere, do you see?

The ever unfolding of All That Is.

You are that.

We all are.


My Friend at the Market

We get our produce, milk and bread from a man at a local farmer’s market. I thought he was Amish, but  turns out he’s Mennonite. I had bit of a Seinfeld moment when I found out…

“I thought I was getting advice from a Chinese woman!”

I thought I was getting produce from an Amish man!

I got over it. Besides, he hangs out with Amish farmers so he’s totally in with that crowd. 

He’s a smart young man. Passionate about his work and his beliefs. We were talking one day and the subject of corporate America came up. Whew! Don’t get him started! He went on a bit of a rampage about Satan, and the devil being behind the whole GMO food issue and what’s wrong with agriculture these days.

We don’t do Satan and the devil. Normally I would not care if a person wanted to spout their beliefs like this, to each his own, but Seth was with me and I didn’t want him to be frightend.

I had to say something.

“Well, we use different terminology for what you are saying. Instead of  of God vs. the devil, we say Love vs. fear.”

He paused, tipped his head to the side, raised his right eye brow, and piercing a hole through me with his intense eye contact said, 

“Same thing.”

I let out my breath, we both smiled.


I love when that happens.


Sometimes while waiting in traffic, or on an airplane, or at a cash register, I find myself getting all wound up. Patience isn’t my first reaction.

But I have a little trick that helps if I remember to use it. 

I look around at the other people, in their airplane seats, in their cars, behind their counters, standing on line, and I take a moment to really see them. I mean, I’m not obvious. I don’t want to make anyone think I’m a freak uncomfortable, but I look at them one by one and say silently…

“I love you, and I honor your story.”

“I love you, and I honor your story.”

Everything shifts.

The line moves.  

Most of all I feel better. Sometimes I’m even like, Wait! Hold up! I’m not done honoring everyone!

If only I could figure out a way to apply this trick to slow computers. 

I love you and I honor your hard drive?