money cannot buy

credit - paulo zerbato

credit – paulo zerbato

What if I had just won $1 billion on the local lottery, no taxes? What would I do with the money? This is today’s Daily Post challenge from WordPress.

Four years of writing with incarcerated women has shown me an increasing and alarming percentage of serious mental dysfunction. While ‘inside,’ isolation has been the ‘treatment’ of choice. Isolation meaning solitary confinement without clothes, bedding, books or communication. Isolation also meaning denial of psychiatric treatment for those clearly in need. Suicidal? Isolate. Confrontational? Isolate. Desperate for companionship? Isolate.

I am no mental health expert. But I do believe there is one simple act that can be far more effective in stemming feelings of terror, vulnerability, and desire to do self-harm. It is the simple human act of listening. Continue reading

signs of winter

Some months back, an outdoorsy hiking friend of mine invited me to pen a poem for the Winter 2013 Long Trail News (the Quarterly newsletter of the Green Mountain Club). As Editor, she had a specific prompt in mind.

When the publication arrived recently, it was fun to see her vision manifest: a collage of photographs featuring winter trail signs on a two-page spread, with my modest two-stanza poem nestled among them:

collage of b/w winter trail signsThank you, Jocelyn Hebert, for your vision and for this opportunity.


woman walkng alone at night

credit – ocean/corbis

“derringdo – a brave action taken without considering the danger involved”

Today’s WordPress Daily Prompt invites us to tell a story on ourselves. At least in my interpretation. Because recently I ‘rescued’ someone from a potentially dangerous situation, only to have the ‘danger’ backfire on me!

It was late at night, 11 anyway, and I was nearly home when I passed a young blond female wandering along the side of the road. She looked cold. Wearing short shorts and a light cotton shirt in the rapidly-cooling air of beyond summer. I noted her because this was an unusual sight in my part of town. And drove on because it was, as noted, late. My dog needed a walk.

We were joined by a neighbor who, like me, takes that one last stroll with her two canine companions before tucking everyone in for the night. As we turned the corner, there wandered the same young woman into our neighborhood. Asked her destination, she insisted it was right up ahead. My friend and I, through one swift shared glance, decided to accompany her to said destination. Which, I might add, was NOT at the top of the hill.

It took a few minutes of garbled conversation and interpretation to unravel the plot. In addition to slurred speech she, being new to town, mis-named Redstone (university campus) as Redrock (residential area). The clincher came when she named a house number that does not exist in our small neighborhood. That’s when I took action. As any caring parent would have done. I told her I was driving her back to campus, a distance of at least five miles. She was clearly disoriented. She kept insisting she was ‘almost there.’ I should have listened more closely.

As she closed her eyes, head resting against the back door of my car, something inside suggested I should NOT have the heat on, that keeping her from freezing was the wrong act of kindness in the moment. When I told my 21-year-old daughter the story later, I didn’t even get to this part before she declared, “She barfed all over your car, didn’t she, Mom?!”

I did stop. I did yell at her to open the door. I did regret my lack of foresight, focusing on her exposure rather than my own. It took the entire weekend to clean up my car, and weeks before I was comfortable inviting anyone for a ride. This time, it was concern for exposing them to the lingering odor that reminded me – for months – that being a good samaritan is only a wise choice if you have thought it through enough to protect yourself from the danger you might be jumping into yourself.

not normal – what a relief

visual journey

credit – grosenberg

I’ll admit it – I’ve been feeling a bit down and struggling to get my ‘stuff’ together. Especially my writing stuff. Here, on my blog. Remember how I wanted to post on a regular basis?

This morning I made one of my random forays onto Facebook. And LO! there were Elizabeth Lesser’s wonder-full words of wisdom. So with unabashed gratitude for the wholesale borrowing of her words (highlighted by me), here they are:

It’s that time of year again: the modern miracle known as The Holidays, when into the dark little month of December, we squeeze Hanukkah, Christmas, and a myriad of other celebrations, from ancient Solstice rituals to the more contemporary rites of school plays, office parties, and community gatherings. Throw into that mix a generous dose of unrealistic expectations, budget-busting shopping, dysfunctional family feasts, airplane flights, darker days, colder weather, excess eating and drinking, and no wonder that along with “peace on earth, goodwill toward men,” come seasonal stress, exhaustion, and depression.
Continue reading