Walk-in Closet

January 5th, 2012

People used to have tiny closets to hold their clothing. Washing machines and industrial manufacturing of clothing came along and we grew to need more space for our clothes. Television arrived and we could no longer just see what our neighbors had, but, we could see how people lived in far flung places. Television set design became more elaborate. Compare an old sitcom like “I Love Lucy” to sets of modern shows seen here. Then DIY shows showed us how to make our own spaces look like what we see on TV. Our brains get cluttered with all these images and we start to want what we see and finally expect what we see.

We started buying. New clothes every season. Shoes by the bagful. New, perfectly placed but, unmeaningful and uncherished decorations. We’ve ended up building so many houses with walk-in closets and huge garages, big enough to hold all of our stuff and we fill them anyway. Then we go out and by books on simplifying, organizing, decluttering. We hire organizers. We watch shows like Hoarder and secretly fear that we are only a few steps away from that kind of crazy. But, we still keep on buying.

When we die, we leave our loved ones with the horrible process of figuring out what to do with all the things we couldn’t let go. They pick up each piece and wonder if it was special, if they should keep it for their children. If it will somehow bring back what they really want… our love… our presence… more of what they didn’t have because we were so busy accumulating, cleaning, decluttering our stuff… our attention.

Denuding the tree.

January 3rd, 2012

Maybe it is my ambivalence about Christmas, my strange sense of time, or having moved this year, but,  taking the ornaments off the tree seems to be more onerous than ever. Of course, with my recent Fibromyalgia diagnosis and getting used to a medication that is making me feel nauseous for most of the day could be why too.

The holiday is something I don’t know how to manage to get my head around  each year, because, I am not Christian. My childhood Christmases weren’t celebrated with religion in mind either. I feel less grounded to these traditions as the years go by, unsure that I should be celebrating without a lot of meaning or spirituality involved, but, unsure how to navigate family waters to make changes. My children love Christmas and all the trimming, just as I did when I was a girl.

I often think that if it didn’t happen every year the amazing effort and hype would have more meaning to me and feel less exhausting than it does now. To a mother of 5 children it feels like an Olympic event and like the Olympics it should occur less often.  I don’t know if this would fix my attitude, but, I wish we could try it out for a few years, just to see.

Unpacking and packing all of our Christmas clutter this year reminds me of all the sorting and re-packing I need to do in the next six months and all the packing and unpacking we did in September. It feels overwhelming this year, more than usual, and as you probably can tell, I’m not good with this task in a normal year.

Maybe next year I’ll figure out a better way to get my head in the game. Maybe I’ll experience a conversion event and fully embrace the whole Christmas deal. Or I’ll figure out a way to skip decorating and go on a cruise. Oh that reminds me, I need to check the lottery tonight.

Parenting challenges and the Mayan Calendar.

January 2nd, 2012

We have a society built on dreams. “The American Dream.” Dreams of the future. Dreams are our hopes for a better future.

The arrival of the year 2012 has me reflecting on what happens when people believe an end-of-the-world prediction.

I was somewhere between the ages of 10 and 12 when my mother first told me when the world would end. It was to be 10 years in the future according to some source she trusted. During the same conversation she said something about humans originally being spirits that had offended God by inhabiting animals, so, we were forced to become flesh. I think her point was the end-of-the-world would be a good thing. I just felt hopeless and scared.

Her world’s end beliefs changed over the years depending on which “guru” she was following at the time and I don’t believe she even remembered all of them or marked their passing. I recall one prediction, not occurring, being explained away by 9/11. That was the predicted event and the psychics were picking up on the strong energy from that event.

It’s hard not to believe your parent when their belief’s are the basis for your own belief system. We didn’t talk about careers or how to support yourself. There was no future I should expect or plan. Many years later, I do wonder what my life would have looked like if I’d had the opportunity to dream about what I wanted to be when I grew up.

As we get further in to 2012 the news will be full of speculation about the Mayan calendar. I predict we’ll see many stories about how various people are imagining what will happen in December. These people being interviewed will be certain of their beliefs. Our children will watch these stories.  How can we help them maintain hope and perspective?

Keep talking about the future. Your plans for yourself, your hopes for your children, what they need to do to get from here to the fulfillment of their dreams, these are important discussions to have with your children or other children in your life.

No one knows when the end of the world will come. The ultimate glass-half-empty thinking is the idea that any of us could die tomorrow so why bother doing anything. Teach your children to seize the day and plan for the wonder of tomorrow. Teach them how to live not how to die.

I am resolved

January 1st, 2012
  • To blog 345 times this year.
  • To learn to let go of stress.
  • To not leave a room without taking something to put away.

Simple, clear, concise. Deliberate.

Diss ease and diagnoses

December 20th, 2011

Here’s the thing. It’s hard for me to talk about how I feel physically. With anyone. Including medical professionals.

When I was tiny, probably 3 months old, I’ve been told, I broke out in multiple skin rashes. This was second, after I had failed to save her marriage, on a list of things my mother used to explain how or why she was indifferent to me.

While I was a child, whenever we saw a child in a wheelchair or with obvious developmental problems, my mother would say they must have done something awful in a past life. Illness of any kind was your own fault in our house. When I was about 10 I started limping. It was not OK for my mother to have a child show signs of being defective. I was told not to limp. I remember being queried by an adult in our town about why I was limping. I wonder what he thought of my look of terror and stammered denial. “I’m not limping.” Eventually my grandparents and aunt and uncle stepped in and I went to a doctor. A lot of doctors. I had a tumor in my bone that I’d grow out of by young adulthood. It hurt. A lot. I got used to pain.

It was pain in that leg that sent me to a specialist 19 years ago. The tumor was gone but, the pain kept coming back and it hurt in other parts of my leg. I was told to take OTC painkillers as needed. Looking back, this was the first time I went to a doctor for a symptom of Fibromyalgia. It took me until this month to be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I was trained not to show pain or talk about it. I didn’t talk enough to my doctors over the years. I mentioned a symptom here and there but never gave enough information.

I did the same thing with my husband. The thing is, the pain has increased to the point that I couldn’t keep ignoring it. Well, it’s me… I could have kept ignoring it but, I realized how much it effects my quality of life and, finally, decided something needed to be done. I was hoping for an operation to cut whatever was making me hurt out and then I’d be done. I decided to keep a pain journal to show my doctor how and when and where I hurt. I sent a copy to my husband in an email for back-up. He was really upset. He called my doctor and freaked her out a bit too.

This upset me. It kind of shoved me out of my comfort zone. Can someone in chronic pain have one of those? Once the cat was out of the bag I had to follow through with getting help. With my long list of aches and pains in hand I finally talked to someone who could help. And I have only had one mild headache, rather than daily, in 2 weeks. The leg that had the tumor has only hurt a few times this week. I still have a lot of pain but any lessening is a gift I cherish. And thanks to my pushy husband, I am on the road to making myself feel better.

So, I will post this, and link it to my FB page, and hope no one reads it, because it is hard for me to admit that I hurt. But, in case my dear friends run across this, I want you to know that this is why I’m not great a reciprocating invitations. This is why I bail on being seen in public, too often for my own good. This is why I’m often too tired to bother showing up despite knowing I’d have the best time out with you. I don’t mean to be this way. And I don’t, ever, want to miss out on enjoying time with you. Lest you all feel sorry for me, though, I do have a bunch of really wonderful people, in house, I get to see all the time. I am blessed to have them in my life.

Blood Orange Cranberry sauce with Pomegranate

November 28th, 2009

Seed the pomegranate in a bowl of water. Pick through carefully to remove all the bitter white membrane. If the pomegranate is particularly sour you may want to add extra sugar to the recipe.




1 bag of cranberries

2 blood oranges

Zest of one blood orange

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 TBS butter

2 tsp corn starch

1 large Pomegranate seeded




Juice the oranges.

In a small bowl whisk corn starch & 3 TBS orange juice.

Heat remaining juice & butter on medium heat in a saucepan.

When butter is melted whisk in cornstarch mixture.

Stir in brown sugar until blended.

Add cranberries & zest stirring frequently until cranberries pop.

Pour in to serving bowl. Let cool for 10 minutes. Stir in pomegranate seeds.

Serve warm or chilled.

Untitled Poem

November 10th, 2009

Sacred space, my sacred place.

Sacred love, my saving grace.


The beat of your heart, against my ear,

used to be where I felt safe.


Sacred space, my sacred place.

Sacred love, my saving grace.


Sorrow rises like a flood.

let it drown in lust and love.


 Written by Gennyfer Hanvey in response to this writing prompt. http://wifeofbath.net/?p=349

Who am I?

August 7th, 2009

People I know and respect periodically bring up their Myers-Briggs type indicators in casual conversation. “I’m an INTJ” they’ll say, as if that explains some hidden mystery about them. My brother can rattle off his type too because he gets the same results every time he takes the test. Not me. I have different results every time I take the test. Often the questions are so frustrating to me because I don’t agree with how they are phrased or I can see reasons for choosing answers on both sides of the spectrum. Taking the same test twice, in quick succession, answering with thought and absolute honesty has yielded different results. I could forget about the test, call it silly, and go about being me as inimitably as I have these past forty years. Except, like I mentioned, people whose opinion I find valuable seem to think the theory has some weight.

The past few months have been some of the most emotionally arduous of my life. I’ve been told I need to find my sense of joy as it is noticeably missing. I’ve been told I need to start doing things to take care of myself, especially things that are fun. I’ve been told I’ve lost myself and need to find me again. With all these suggestions in mind I, once again, overheard friends discussing their types. “Ha!” I thought to myself. “What better place to find me than to figure this personality type thing out once and for all”. I took the test again. This was a version I had not taken previously. For the first time I took the test and didn’t have an internal debate about the questions. None of the questions on this particular test made me think the test would be inaccurate because I really couldn’t settle on a “right” answer for me. I took the test, very clear on who I was in relation to this particular set of questions. While waiting for the results to generate I had the passing thought that this answer would finally be the correct one.

My results? 50%… in each indicator. [insert big sigh here]

A few days later, I saw the counselor who advised me to “find myself”. I hadn’t mentioned the test results but as the universe often works this way for me I was not surprised when she asked if I had ever taken the Myers-Briggs test. “Why yes, in fact, I took it a few days ago,” I said. I told her my results, which she seemed to think backed up her theory that I needed to find myself, kind of desperately, in fact. Never one to blindly accept the most obvious answer, or, truthfully, anyone else’s answer about pretty much anything I came home and read more about this process of personality typing.

I could find very little on the type which would either be written as XXXX or  EINSTFJ. Some discussions had people wondering if it was even possible for the type to exist. There was some discussion that the type would either be boring and lacking in any personality or perhaps even very mentally ill. Other hits my search found theorized that it was the ideal personality, the balance personality everyone should strive to be. A few places were theorizing that the XXXX type would be found in Jesus or God and no-one else. Not feeling very Messianic, mentally unstable, or perfect I had to let these theories, as appealing as they are, go. 

I am left with no real clarity on my type. No recommendations for work or relationship compatibility. Once again, no use for this type of test. At least I know I can lay it aside and not take the test again. Honestly, I’m very content to remain type-less. I tend to get along with all types of people. Because I am able to see multiple sides and variations of most issues I make an excellent mediator. Sometimes seeing all sides is a lonely place to be, and I often relate to the mythological figure Cassandra, but, I have never wished to be anyone but who I am.

Though I’ve worked through my thoughts on this particular issue I welcome further knowledge and different viewpoints. Please share your thoughts on the XXXX type and on how knowing your type has effected or not effected your life.

Buy Local or Buy Creative

July 9th, 2009

I love the idea of supporting local businesses, thereby more directly filling the pockets of my friends and neighbors. Portland, Maine has an impressive group that encourages this kind of shopping Portland Independent Business & Community Alliance. It’s hard to miss one of their Buy Local signs around this small city. The benefit your community receives from your local purchases is impossible to deny. Whenever I can I purchase locally.

What I’d like to see happen is a spin-off of this idea. Many artists are starving. It’s sad, really. There is so much freely obtained art available to us these days even if you’re following the law you could probably keep yourself completely educated and entertained without spending any money. Is it right to read your favorite writer, listen to “the best” band, or view countless pictures from your favorite artists without ever spending our hard earned cash, to show them, that we value their creative work?

Before the Internet, back even before motion pictures, art was much more directly supported by individuals. Traveling minstrels, street buskers, live theater: without technology we had to pay to be entertained. Now we spend our entertainment dollars in a less thoughtful way. I can’t count how many times I’ve wasted time and money on a movie I figured would not be good just because I thought I needed to do something and that was the venue with the least effort. Hollywood puts out so much pointless drivel and mindless fluff. Movies like Transformers II garner the worst reviews imaginable yet rake in ticket prices hand over fist. I’m as guilty as the next person of feeding this orgy of bad taste, but I wish I wasn’t.

What can we do to change this? Buy local for entertainment and if you can’t find local performances that  fit your personality let’s at least start to Buy Creative online. So many creative types are promoting and marketing their work all on their own. This is not because they aren’t worthy of wider distribution. So many of them are. Publishing companies, and other traditional venues for creative types to make a living from their artistic endeavors, are hard to break in to and once an artist does become attached to a large company they often have to compromise their work.

One particular niche that has many gifted artists entertaining us, gifting us with their time and the fruit of their imaginations are cartoonists.  Becoming a syndicated cartoonist is nearly impossible. Staying syndicated and making a living as a cartoonist is not easy. Newspapers are closing and cutting back. The dream of making it big like Snoopy is farther out of reach than ever before. Yet go online, on any day, and you will find amazing comics. Some are so well written readers are drawn back over and over, even if the drawings are only stick figures. Some are masterpieces worthy of the Sunday pages whose writers struggle to fulfill their dreams while honoring their muse that calls them to draw whether they are starving or not. One such comic artist is Corey Pandolph, the Fake Rock Star genius behind Green with Envy , Toby Robot Satan , and the more widely known, Barkeater Lake.

If you read these, or any other comic strips, all the time then why not Buy Creative and order a copy of a book, or a T-shirt (or socks even) and tell your friends. If your favorite artist disappears because they had to get a cubicle job, don’t let it be because you didn’t care enough to keep them around. Let’s all make where we choose to spend our money mean something about what we’d really like to see stick around. Buy Local. Buy Creative.

Happy Father’s Day to the man I love.

June 21st, 2009

The Father You’ve Become



The father you’ve become,

a man I’d longed to meet.

The strength in your hands,

have given such joy,

takes my breath, again,

at the sight of you holding our child.



We are meant to be together.

These precious souls, our love in bloom,

manifest for their own miracles.

Still, had we no other reason,

knowing the father you’ve become

fills my heart, with joyous celebration.




Happy Father’s Day