Monthly Archives: March 2015

The More You Know You Don’t Know Much, the More You Can Learn

Do you floss your teeth? If not, do you feel guilty for not doing it? Hold that thought.

Hoofed it down the road this morning to my teeth cleaning appointment, knowing that I hadn’t flossed much lately more than a couple times since my last cleaning. My excuse is my lingual bar retainer. That sounds important and official, eh? It just means that I have a permanent retainer on the inside of my front lower teeth. Makes it hella fun to floss.

“Ana” (soft, short o sound) was my hygienist this morning. We’ve never talked beyond pleasantries. But seeing as how I have become much more aware of being intentional since my last appointment (May 2014), I started asking some questions today.

When I am distracted, I don’t always ask questions at the doctor or dentist, or apparently even listen. Later, I think “What the heck did he/she say about this?” Honestly, I believe walking there this morning put me into a more mindful place. I hadn’t waited until the last second, jumped in my car and raced the .7 miles to the office just in time.

It still surprises me that I can learn something so basic about the simple process of flossing. I guess the difference came in listening to that little voice inside (I did it! Yay me!) suggesting I ask some questions.

Not only did I learn something interesting about flossing, I also learned about Ana, who is from Macedonia, and was extremely interested in my attempts to make healthy choices for myself and my family. We had an actual, honest, genuine conversation, not just a superficial exchange. I mean, we didn’t cry on each other’s bosoms or anything, but I felt like I really connected with the person, Ana.

Now, if you feel guilty when you don’t floss, do something about it. Find a way to make it a habit. Figure out your why for doing it. Look at the things that are getting in the way, and address them.

Or … maybe I’m the only one who doesn’t floss regularly? In that case, in the words of the immortal Emily Litella . . .

5,520 Really Cold and Silly Steps on a Sunday

I visited the UU church on March 15, enjoyed it and planned to go back. I heard them say, I heard the actual words, WE MEET ON THE 1st AND 3rd SUNDAYS. Poor little maroon Siouxsie. My 1st visit was on the 3rd Sunday, but in my brain, my 1st visit meant it was the 1st Sunday.

Yesterday was the 3rd Sunday of March. Oh, it wasn’t? It wasn’t the 3rd Sunday of March just because I had decided March 15th was the 1st Sunday of March? The quantum physics of the world did not adjust to my brief, yet completely mistaken, perception?

It was the middle of the SisterGiant conference yesterday morning. Since they were running on PST, the day’s festivities wouldn’t resume until 12:30 EST, which would work since I was going to go to the UU church for the meeting that they have on the 3rd Sunday of the month.

I didn’t really want to go to the UU church yesterday. But it’s very easy for me to give in to the inertia of staying home, rather than gathering the momentum to go out, so I went. After all, it was the 3rd Sunday of the month, and I wouldn’t get another chance for another two weeks.

So, there I was, standing outside the door of the UU church, freezing cold, looking forward to getting inside for the meeting, the one that happens on the 3rd Sunday of the month, and the door was locked? Instantly, I knew that I’d already attended the service on the 3rd Sunday of the month.

And as I had been dropped off as before, I was faced with walking home. It was cold out! 29 degrees. Of course I am rough and tough and hard to guard enough to do it, but I wasn’t looking forward to it. Once again, one of my personal corral of Uber/Lyft drivers came to my rescue, but not until I had already walked 5,520 steps.

What did I learn? Listen to that little voice. Find a way to listen to the little voice that says, hey, you better check this out before you do this. Ok, ok, ok. I promise, I will.

Reflections on SisterGiant 2015 – Day 1

I was so excited about this conference. I had an idea that Marianne Williamson had a new idea about how we can change the conditions of the political scene in our country. Her opening remarks described us as corporately co-creating a new field of possibilities.

Really quick summary of day 1:

Dennis Kucinich — The man walks the talk. Our system is pretty broken. He said one of my favorite things of the day: (speaking of politicians) “People never say what they mean. The government is invested in obfuscation.” Then he mentioned how consistency in thought, word and deed is integrity.

It looks to me like integrity is the issue at every level, from the President, to Congress, to the police force, to citizens. 

Imagine what we could do if integrity became a huge topic of conversation, of action, and of education. 

Diane Randall was also speaking the truth in love. Her organization The Friends Corporation on National Legislation is a lobbying organization in the public interest which focuses on peace, and was founded in 1943 by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Lynne Lyman and Lisa Bloom both spoke in the afternoon. From my point of view, they mostly just swam around in the problem, using many statistics which definitely defined the darkness and did little to claim the light.

Thom Hartmann — very knowledgeable about the history of how we came to this point of unfettered capitalism in which the corporations are no longer responsible to anyone except themselves and their shareholders. I’ll be looking into this guy’s podcasts and books.

Senator Bernie Sanders — maybe I was just tired, but this just sounded like a lot of political talk. The sidebar discussion was full of people wanting him to run for President, and telling us to hang on for solutions that will be presented tomorrow during the session. We shall see.

Overall, day one ended with me feeling like I had found a couple of very interesting new people to listen to (Kucinich, Hartmann) but that I had wandered into a group of people (sidebar) who hate republicans and everything about them. I still feel a little disturbed this morning from some of the comments by a very vocal few. My desire is to find common ground, but that still remains to be found.

My biggest take away yesterday came gradually as I realized my commitment to “Getting to Yes” (also the name of a book by Fisher/Ury) might just be something that is going to be impactful in a larger context than I have heretofore imagined.

I Have a Sponsor!

There are many types of sponsors. In today’s marketing-heavy world, sponsors are the companies who pay to support a program, sports events, conference, or workshop. Another type of sponsor is the sometimes life-changing ones available through 12-step programs. Guess which kind I have?

As I have walked alongside someone I love through their recovery journey, there have been many family events and educational sessions. All of those have been about helping the family/parents understand what the addict is experiencing, and timely topics such as enabling vs. supporting.

Along the way, a few times it has occurred to me that I have addictive tendencies as well. I find that my “drug of choice” is easily accessible, and just as hard for me to resist as is cocaine or heroin or alcohol to the users of those drugs. As a matter of fact, during a conversation several months ago, my dearly beloved addict told me that I was saying things about food that sounded just like the things addicts say about drugs and alcohol.

I try more and more to listen to the inner promptings I experience. There are plenty of times when I am just barely aware of them and plow over them and do what I want anyway. But, the times I act on those promptings are powerful.

Recently, I felt a prompting to ask my beloved addict if he would sponsor me. I recognize that he is still in the midst of his own recovery, and doesn’t have everything figured out. I see that he is young and still making his way into adulthood and maturity. But I also note that he has a sponsor, so he knows how it works. And I’m not expecting perfection, only perfect imperfection.

I started out by asking what a sponsor does, how does it work, what is their responsibility, what is the sponsee’s responsibility? And then I asked him if he would be my sponsor. He said yes! I could see there was some hesitation — after all, he is only partway through.

Our breakfast meeting turned into the first meeting between a sponsor and a sponsored person.

After our breakfast meeting, I was given an assignment. “Write a blog post expressing any new discoveries and thoughts or understandings about your belief system.”

Here it is.

People who use drugs or overdo it with alcohol are always at risk of being getting into legal difficulties. People like myself who “use” food or overdo it ALWAYS get in trouble with the “police’ in their own head. I NEVER escape being convicted, tried, and sentenced. Every single time I break my “law,” my internal police force comes down on me hard.

This is an ironic realization for me, because I am just about the least likely person I know to break any laws. I was accused of shoplifting back in my early 20’s, and every single person who knew me knew that the store had made a mistake (which they had and admitted to). And yet, here I am, breaking my own “laws” on a regular basis.

My other assignment this week is to tell my sponsor just one time when I am facing temptation, to realize that I can eat donuts every day for the rest of my life if I want, but to take one instance of temptation and contact my sponsor about that. I will do this.

I’m honestly surprised at the places we went in our discussion today as we talked. I wonder what will come of this for both of us!

11,126 hungry steps to lunch

I recently had the harebrained idea to walk to my lunch date at Red Robin. In a spate of glossy thinking, I reasoned that Red Robin was only a little further away than the UU church I walked to a few weeks ago. In the tradition of the women in my family, I decided arbitrarily that an hour would be long enough to make the walk since that’s how much time I had before my meeting.


The facts:

UU church is 3 miles from my home.
Red Robin is 5 miles from my home.

At 20 min per mile, the UU is a one hour walk. Red Robin is one hour and forty minutes. This is not a little further, pal. This is a lot further.

Because I hadn’t looked at the facts, (my mind was made up, see), I reasoned that a bit of jogging would probably get me that little bit further in time. The scientist in me will note that this was a poor hypothesis.

Although I jogged as many steps as I felt like I could, I received a text when I was only a little past the UU church that my lunch date had already arrived. Called my personal Uber/Lyft driver who graciously dropped what he was doing and gave me a “lyft” to the restaurant. I was still late, but my friend is gracious.

Lesson learned. Facts matter when it comes to time. Time matters when it comes to plans. Plans matter when it comes to accomplishments. F(T)+P(F)=getting there on time.

Time to Wake up

I spent two hours this morning sitting in the lobby of the local high school, ostensibly there to sell tickets to the upcoming musical production. We’re new to the school, new to the drama department, new to all the volunteer requirements requests.

I manage our home life quite often rather like a single parent. There is no other choice when the other parent is out of town, out of state, out of my time zone, out of the country. Volunteering for evening things can be very tricky with a small child who needs to go to bed at a reasonable hour. Rather than complaining, this is simply how I see my availability and responsibilities.

15 minutes into my shift of two hours (!!!), I realized that the someone who had decided selling tickets this way would be a good idea had a different idea than I as to what it a good use of my time. So, I learned today that I will volunteer elsewhere.

Watching the students walk by me in ones and groups, I had another realization about the truth of the “generation gap,” as they used to call it. It’s not just that the clothes are different, and the mores are different, and the language is different. It looks to me like the level of autonomy, direction and self-empowerment have gone way, way down since my time in high school.

Of course, I never watched the students in my own high school through my parent’s eyes, or my grandparent’s eyes, so I can only surmise that things have changed.

Perhaps it is the juxtaposition of being in the high school today with being in a room with 40 men yesterday who were checking in with a judge in drug court. Hearing their conversation before the meeting, and then observing them in the meeting.

What do young people count on these days? Where do they get their moorings?

I read the news story about the Phil Robertson story about murdering and raping an athiest’s wife and children and how the atheist would have no justification for proclaiming this to be wrong. I was dumbfounded. People actually think this.

I wrote a song when I was in my “christian rock” band in Australia. “Don’t be a simple mind who gives simple words to questions that are anything but simple.” No, not a Top 40 hit anywhere ever, just an early expression of my conviction that critical thinking is one of the most essential characteristics we can have.

In the school system, are they teaching critical thinking? I can’t speak for every class and every teacher and every school system, but in our very highly regarded system, critical thinking seems to be low on the priority list most of the time.

In our religious systems, are they teaching critical thinking? Not in my upbringing and church experience. Critical thinking seems to be one of the things that lead people to leave their religion, so it isn’t always recommended or encouraged.

In our court system, are they teaching critical thinking? Not from what I have seen. They are teaching criminals and the accused to follow the rules, jump through the hoops, give the right answers, and not get caught.

Where do people go to take off their masks? A brave few take them off anywhere and everywhere, but most of us have several masks we wear to prevent anyone from discovering who we really are.

There are pockets of hope. Marianne Williamson is hosting the SisterGiant conference this weekend (in person in LA and online here.) Your political leanings need not fit in any particular box. The topics are universally applicable.

Please join me for the next SISTER GIANT Conference on March 28-29, in Los Angeles and/or via livestream. (This one is for all of us — women and men too!) We’re going to have a deep conversation that weekend about conscious citizenship and political change. From getting the money out of politics to racial justice and mass incarceration, from the corruption of our food supply to how to build a more peaceful world, from spiritual enlightenment to political transformation, we’re going to spend a weekend digging deep and flying high…in our minds, in our hearts, and hopefully in our country.

Will you take the time to look at this link? Will you be someone who considers the possibilities of conscious citizenship and political change? I’m registered for the livestream of this conference. Please join me.

To Rebound or Not to Rebound; That is the Question

Do you love etymology as much as I do? Discovering the origins of words is often quite illuminating, and sometimes it’s simply another explanation of the definition.  Take rebound, for instance. It comes from an Old French word, rebondir, meaning to bounce back up.  
On the best days, one of my early activities in the day is to get on the rebounder for fifteen minutes. So many days, I wake up after good sleep on my lovely mattress, with my ergonomically correct pillow from the chiropractor and my softer than soft bamboo bedsheets . . . and my neck is stiff. 
That rebounder shakes all the stiffness out. The first several minutes of jumping are uncomfortable, as the stiffness resists release. 
As I rebondir, bounce back up, eventually my neck loosens up. 
Try it for yourself. Even if your neck isn’t stiff, the benefits of rebounding are many. From Wellness Mama, here is a list of benefits from rebounding:
  • Boosts lymphatic drainage and immune function
  • Great for skeletal system and increasing bone mass
  • Helps improve digestion
  • More than twice as effective as running without the extra stress on the ankles and knees
  • Increases endurance on a cellular level by stimulating mitochondrial production (these are responsible for cell energy)
  • Helps improve balance by stimulating the vestibule in the middle ear
  • Helps improve the effects of other exercise- one study found that those who rebounded for 30 seconds between weight lifting sets saw 25% more improvement after 12 weeks than those who did not.
  • Rebounding helps circulate oxygen throughout the body to increase energy.
  • Rebounding is a whole body exercise that improves muscle tone throughout the body.
  • Some sources claim that the unique motion of rebounding can also help support the thyroid and adrenals.
  • Rebounding is fun!
The traditional rebounder is connected to its frame by springs, but the newer rebounders are connected by bungee cords. Traditional rebounders can be found in stores and online for less than $50. The bungee cord rebounders are made by Bellicon and JumpSport

Try it! You’ll like it! 

Inside the behemoth court system

The three of us piled into the red Honda CRV and headed to the destination programmed into the Waze app. Traffic wasn’t heavy, and the route was simple. We knew we were getting close when the plethora of bail bond businesses appeared. The razor wire atop the tall chain link fence, more than anything, emphasized the stark seriousness of the place. I knew my son was in there somewhere and my heart shriveled in my chest as I imagined what it might be like inside those walls. We were hopeful that he would walk out those doors today and we would be reunited.

We found Courtroom D and remarked at the amazing lack of privacy here in this county, as every defendant was listed by name, along with the official numbers of the statutes and the various dates of warrants, etc.

Believing that it is infinitely better to arrive early than late, we slipped into the courtroom during the 8:30-10:00 session, the one prior to the one we were there for. We watched client after client stand before the judge and we got a sense of her tendency to be lenient. We saw this as a good sign. As amateur legal counsel, we knew exactly the outcome we were hoping for.

Finally, the last defendant for the session finished up and exited the side door to pay his fines. Next would be those defendants currently being held in jail. The first man who walked into the courtroom in handcuffs and shackled feet was a tall, Caucasian man with a large swastika tattooed on one entire side of his bald head. We were horrified and clung to each other, willing ourselves to remain calm. We sat through the majority of the thirty defendants for that session before they called my son’s name.

Between the swastika-clad man, and my son, there were many criminals representing even more crimes. Domestic violence, a son who had damaged his parents home in anger, multiple women– mothers– in for drug offenses. It wasn’t hard to see which of those people in orange jumpsuits had some things going for them, and which ones were really striking out in the game of life.

The world, or at least the court, boasts a preponderance of people who can’t get to court or community service or probation appointments because they have no transportation; lots of people who if they have a job, it’s at McDonald’s for the past three weeks. Quite a number who have been busy helping their sick grandmother. Many who really just want a chance, your honor, to get everything going in the right direction.

We noticed one thing that was consistent among almost all the prisoners brought in from the jail. As soon as they entered the courtroom, their eyes scanned the spectator section for a familiar face. Some found one. Many did not. When their charges were read, our hearts broke. Young people who had stolen from their parents. Men who had abused their women. Druggies  in every configuration possible of detox, recent user just waiting to get out and find their next fix, or at least giving lip service to the idea of rehab.

Our outcome was as positive as we had hoped, but there would still be over three more hours before a very broken-hearted young man would wait behind that thick, steel door waiting for it to eject him out of that dark, sad place. While we waited for him, a very angry probation officer swooped in and met with her incarcerated client within earshot. “Just who the HELL do you think you are telling the [somebody important person] that you were too busy to meet with him?”

Further waiting ensued as we jumped through hoops to prove we had brought a medication for our son (which he did not receive while there over the weekend) and then waited while the nurse went and looked again, finally finding it after a good twenty minutes.

Although this jail stay over the weekend was for something in the far distant past that just now caught up with us, it is now part of our present.

I am reminded of what the man said to me in another courtroom awhile back: this stuff just never leaves you alone. I think it can, though, if you somehow finally find a way to leave the stuff alone.

Boy, if parental and other adult resolve was all it took, our son would be in such great shape! But, alas, it’s not our journey, although we are part of it. Many times today, I began to feel the intensity of the wave, and I imagined myself atop the wave, on my surfboard, being a part of it without being crushed by it. One thing he’s certainly not lacking is a supportive, involved, resourceful family! Of course, we also have unhealthy communication patterns, tendencies toward co-dependency, and plenty of other foibles. Just a heaping healing helping of perfect imperfection. Another step on the journey of life.

A Trinity of Questions

I read about a fun exercise today called a trinity.  “A Brag, A Grateful, A Desire.”

Brag  — what can I be proud of right now?

Grateful — what  blessing in my life would I like to acknowledge?

Desire — if money, time, and the laws of physics were no object, what would I desire?

Source: Regena Thomashauer (Mama Gena) referenced in Christiane Northrup’s latest book, Goddesses Never Age.

Well, it was fun until I started to answer the questions, and lo and behold, I got all vulnerable feeling and hesitant to answer the questions.

It’s easy to answer the questions if I keep them at arm’s length. What can I be proud of right now? My dang kids. I could go on for paragraphs and pages about each of them and their wonders. Easy peasy. Harder to answer the question if I look inside my own skin.

Grateful for? Again, easy to answer if I stay superficial. Husband, kids, home, health, the usual suspects. I am truly grateful for them, but I feel a tug toward a deeper consideration of the question.

And the desire? THAT is the hardest question in the history of the universe. As I’m learning to let go of control, to lean into asking for things I might not get, to trust the process and take the next step, I recognize that answering this question is important. Pressing through the fear, having courage to ask for what I desire.


Dear blog readers.

What can I be proud of right now?

I can be and am proud of my willingness to learn new tricks (even though somewhat old dog).
I am proud of my willingness to try new things.
I am proud of my resilience and flexibility.

In Sylvester Stallone’s movie, Rocky Balboa, Rocky is tested to see if he still has a spark, if he can still get up after being knocked down. That movie made me cry big time because that is one of the questions that life is asking me.

from the

Do you still have it, Suz? Are you willing to keep getting up even though getting knocked down hurts? And I say YES I AM.

What blessing in my life would I like to acknowledge?

I would like to acknowledge the blessing of my five senses and all the wonderful things they have had the privilege of smelling, tasting, seeing, hearing, and feeling, lo these many years.

I am SO grateful that I can  …
see the blue of the sky
and all the colors of the spectrum
smell the coffee my husband makes every day
and the freshness of the outside air
taste tiramisu
and the smoothness of chocolate
hear the most amazing music on the planet
and the wind chimes that sing to me all day
feel the affectionate hugs of my children
and the touch of my husband
and the cold air on my face
and the warm water cascading over me in the shower
and the curves and lumps and perfect imperfections of my own body
I am SO grateful that I can.

And if money, time and the laws of physics were no object, what would I desire?

I would love to live near water and mountains. To walk out my front door and see water, and out my side door and see mountains and out my back door and see trees. I want to travel to Europe and see the countryside of France, the mountains of Switzerland, the fjords of Norway, the cathedrals of Spain, the sights in the fog of England, and much more. I want to go back and see my friends in Australia.  I want to be remembered for the love I give, the joy I share, and the impact I make.

Your turn. A brag, a grateful, and a desire. Are you game?

On Being Presented with the Same Lesson Over and Over

I’ve never surfed. The closest I have ever come to standing up, balancing on something was when I tried out my son’s skateboard. I balanced for a second and then the skateboard moved forward, leaving me behind, in the air pretty much like Wiley E. Coyote in the air after he has run off the edge of the cliff. I know what that landing feels like. I really don’t know how WEC kept it up. One fall like that was enough for me.

I’ve never surfed. I lived minutes from the Pacific Ocean in Australia, and had many friends who surfed. Why didn’t I try? I doubt if it even occurred to me.

I’ve never surfed, but I realized today that several issues appear as GIANT waves any time I admit them into my consciousness. I’ve been running from the waves. They’re BIG. I cannot hold them BACK. They will knock me DOWN. Is it time for me to see what surfing these waves would be like? Surfing is the process of riding a wave to the shore. Surfers love the waves, don’t they? Avid surfers often say the bigger the wave, the better.

I’m nowhere near the ocean right now. There’s not an ocean wave within 400 miles of here, so I can’t go try it. But maybe I can imagine what it would feel like to ride the wave, to be on top of it, to go with it toward the shore.

What do I see as I imagine this? I feel the powerful movement of the water beneath my board. The sun is out, shining as it does every single day somewhere in the world. I understand the wave is something that is exhilarating. Every wave has its crest and then gets smaller and smaller as it moves toward the shore. Surfing the waves is the opposite of standing on the shore, watching the waves come in, dreading their size, fearing their power.

Same lesson, different day. The School of Life keeps pulling this old chestnut out and presenting it to me. Apparently, I’ve yet to learn it.

Seems like the most important thing in this situation is to keep focusing on what is, rather than what has been. To say yes, and, even if it’s through tears. And to keep getting back up and back on my surfboard and trying again. Dude, I’m a gurfer (girl surfer). Yes, only in my mind, but that’s a start.

You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf”
Jon Kabat-Zinn