Torn Between Aches

I had to leave;
It was time to go.

I didn’t make it far,
just a few miles down the road,
when the ache set in.

Because I could,
I turned around and went back,
indulging in a little more.

But then, I had to take my leave.

This time I made it all the way,
traveling to where I also ache to be.

But the moment I arrived here,
the ache to return began.

I know I won’t last long,
before I can’t stay anymore.

It will be time to go back there,
so I’ll leave again.

I’m not sure if I’ll hesitate and turn around here,
indulging a little more before I travel to where I also ache to be.

But I know not long after I arrive back there,
the ache will begin again.

~ cj 2013.07.29

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Hard Squeeze

If you hold something loosely, it may not stay where you hope it will; you are so right about that.

But the more you squeeze it, in an attempt to keep it where you want it, the more likely it is to sting you, suffocate to death, or squirt itself out from between your fingers.

And if it doesn’t reject the hard squeeze, it isn’t likely something you want to keep…or perhaps it’s already dead.

~ cj 2013.07.19

Posted in Essay, Writing | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Fast Eddie at the Flower Shop

imagePoor Fast Eddie. She was unique and beautiful, and he fell in love immediately. You couldn’t miss that he had…he made no bones about it.

“Wanna have a ball?” He wagged enthusiastically, and showed her his bright green ball. But she? She didn’t want to play around. It just wasn’t her thing.

Not to be deterred, he dropped his ball and opted for another, more direct approach. He kissed her all over instead…and I mean ALL over. She allowed him to do it for a bit, but then began to pull away when she got overwhelmed, looking for higher ground.

In case she didn’t know how interested he was, he tried to hump her, before she could make her escape.

That’s where she drew the line, putting a stop to it. But she wasn’t mean about it. She looked up at me, knowing I’d come to her rescue.

I tried to explain to him that it wasn’t going to work. She lives in Austin, he lives in The Tundra, I reminded him.

He said, panting, “But it’s hot here now, hotter than there!” (Fast Eddie’s informed! He watches the Weather Channel at night with his owner.)

Ah, Eddie, right you are. It IS blazing hot. But that’s a temporary state of affairs, and in case you hadn’t noticed, she’s just not that into you.

You gotta admire his pluck. He ignored the truth of his situation as best as he could. He continued to pursue her, and obviously enjoyed what little time he had with her.

He even blew off his favorite treat, offered to him if ONLY he’d leave her alone, and come to the back of the store.

Eventually it was time for her to go. She was nonplussed and trotted willingly out the door.

But he pulled towards her as hard as he could. His sad puppy eyes watched her leave, while he still wagged hopefully.

His fuzzy head was full of dreams that she’d change her mind and stay behind.

She’s on her way now, exhausted from fending him off. She’s already gone to sleep quite contentedly, snoring gently in the front seat of the car.

I wonder if poor Eddie’s heart has recovered yet, or if he’s going to hang onto the scent of her until the moment another pretty puppy inevitably walks in the door of Fast Eddie’s Flower Shop.

~ a true story by cj 2013.07.18

Posted in Essay | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

It’s Too Late

I hear the bus,
I’m sure of it.

My heart smiles
cuz it’s almost
the perfect time,
and I look up
at my clock.

Oh, wait.
I see.
It’s only 4:03.

It’s too early for the bus,
it’s not time for the bus,
and for a blessed
suspended second,
I excitedly think
“Only an hour left, though.”

But then reality hits home
and I remember.
It’s not too early.

It’s too late.

It’s summer,
School is over.
You’ve gone back home
and you won’t be getting off
that bus again.

My heart stops smiling,
cuz now it’s 4:04
and it’s not a
perfect time
without you here anymore.

~ cj 2013.06.27

To Emilie, my wonderful exchange student. I miss you and already can’t wait til I see you again. It will be the perfect time.

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

I’d Rather Be On My Own

Wisconsin Dells, July 1974

Wisconsin Dells, July 1974

I got this photo from my grandma’s neighbor last week when I went up north. My dad took that picture. We look like a normal, happy family on vacation in the Wisconsin Dells, if you don’t look too closely, if you don’t know the story.

I’m 12, almost 13 in this picture. I moved out at 15, and when I left, I didn’t look much different than this. I was too young, but other than food and shelter, I’d largely always been on my own. Moving out just made it official.

I remember this moment, and other moments just like it…me, trying to fit in…me, leaning towards them, trying to be touched…me, trying so hard to understand and be understood…and me, being flatly ignored and rejected because I didn’t fit their ideals.

I’ve always carried the belief that if I’m going to be lonely in a relationship, I’d rather be on my own. I can look at this picture and see where the seeds of this were born. I can look at this picture, and see why I left back then.

And now I can see how I carried the pattern in that picture forward to my marriage. All those pictures of me and him in my head – me, trying to fit in…me leaning towards him and trying to be touched…me, working so hard to understand and be understood…and me, the me I really am, being flatly ignored and rejected because I didn’t fit his ideals.

I understand now how my past set the foundation for years of accepting what should have been unacceptable in my marriage – that constant feeling of being still largely on my own. After trying for 21 years sometimes I felt too old to start over, so it took awhile to make moving on official this time. But now I look at those pictures in my head, and see exactly why I left…my unmet need to lean towards and be touched…my desire to be understood and accepted for me…and my constant current of unfailing belief that if I’m going to be lonely in a relationship, I’d rather be on my own.

~ cj 2013.06.27

Posted in Essay, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments


FallingThere are so many ways to fall,
don’t you think?

An unexpected moment,
an unlikely trip,

a light stumble
into an uncertain space,

a sudden headlong aching
pitching you into a void
you didn’t know was there,

a twirling, whirling spin
into a new reality
you never thought you’d want,

landing you in a place
where common sense
would never lead you,

a falling you can’t resist
despite your best intent,
once the descent begins.

~ cj 2013.06.21

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Things Could Be Different



If things could be
different between us,

I’d put my hands gently on each side
of your face.

I’d stand on my tippy toes,
leaning in cuz I’d know you wouldn’t hurt me
if I fell.

I’d ask you in a whispery voice to
close your eyes.

And then I’d wait,
as I’ve grown used to doing
while you decided to trust
or close down
inside of yourself.

If you chose to chance it,
I’d sigh deeply,
letting go of the breath
I’d been holding.

And while you considered
if now was the time
to freely, openly smile,
I’d tease my tongue over
your rounded lids.

If you kept them closed a bit longer
waiting for the next moment,
I’d gently kiss the long
black lashes that so carefully shade
your beautiful eyes.

Then maybe,
when I took my hands away
and you opened your eyes,
you’d see it was safe
to stop hiding your heart behind
those inky eyes,

at least from me.

And then things could be
different between us.

~ cj 2013.06.03

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Ironic Backstory

I’ll bet this guy got talked into this, hoping to impress his sorta new girlfriend, or if it turned into the perfect day, to get laid.

Can you hear her? “Come on honey. No one will see your face. It will be a great memory, and I won’t tell any of the guys in the league.”

It was already eye-roll bait enough when he’d thought she just wanted a romantic walk on the beach so they could talk about their relationship.

He was kicking himself. WHY did he put that in his online profile? He never expected he’d have to follow through. And didn’t EVERY guy use that line?

He’d agreed to go, partially because he didn’t want to look like a callous liar. But mostly he was hoping she’d settle in to tanning her hide in the blistering sun, while alternately napping or reading her latest bullshit romance novel. Those ridiculous books often backed him into a corner. But at least she’d be busy day-dreaming and he’d get an opportunity to pee in the ocean and surf like he was 20 again. He was sure he still had it in him.

Maybe he could find some interesting creatures to mess with, now that he had this new underwater mask. He’d had to pay extra for the prescription lenses, and he wanted to try them out.

He could build sand castles and then get her to bury him, covering everything with sand so completely it would take weeks to vacuum it all out of the car.

He thought, “Cover everything except my love stick, that is.” He snickered, imagining it poking up like a flag, surely impressing her with his virility, as he lay claim to his temporary turf in the surf.

And, as a bonus, if the day went well, he’d get credit for time spent together on what she wanted to do.

But now this stupid photography shoot. His arms hurt from holding them like that. Just how many pictures did they need to take?

You know, he didn’t expect her to be perfect, like the scripty font on this graphic said. Hell, he knew he wasn’t always such a prize either.

And he supposed he didn’t mind this too much, as long as it wasn’t all they did today. He adjusted his feet, and leaned out in a half-hearted attempt to make half a heart with his arms again, waiting for this duty to end.

As he stood there, though, he started thinking it over. Slowly, he began to suspect he’d been played for the fool he likely was. A photographer, walking up to them, cooing over how perfect they were for each other, flattering him into this ridiculous pose…he didn’t think this was as random as his new girl claimed.

His first clue that he’d been purposely bamboozled?

Last night, she’d packed them both for the beach, without guilting him into a bit of help. Instead of being alarmed at this uncharacteristic move, he’d shrugged and finished watching the game. But now, ha! He sees this ruse for what it is. He might be a fool, but even HE wouldn’t have forgotten the tap for the kegger and the bonfire matches.

~ cj 2013.05.29

Ironic Backstory: I find it quite likely the man was asked to be something he wasn’t, specifically for the purposes of taking this picture…he wasn’t “perfect” enough just peeing in the ocean and pretending he could still surf.

Posted in Writing | 7 Comments


These swirls of orange and yellow heal me. So does having friends who not only accept me, but truly respect and enjoy who I am.

Thank you, my friends, for being right there with me when I stop to take pictures, or play music, or just wander off, which I often do. In fact, thank you for being right there with me all those times I’ve stopped along the way since we’ve met, even though sometimes what was swirling around me wasn’t very beautiful.

You’ve each been a unique, and often significant, part of my healing.

~ cj 2013.05.23

I originally posted a single-person version of this on Facebook, to thank one particular friend who has stood by me through so very much. Now I’m posting it here, because many of you, who are subscribed to this blog, have also been there when I needed you. I didn’t know most of you when I started this transition 2.5 years ago. What good fortune I had to find each one of you on my journey.

Posted in Blog Post, Writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Chasmic Canyon

“I promise,
I’ll be more present soon.
And thank you
for your angelic grace
and undying patience.”

His words barely
reached me anymore,
less and less urgent
each time they echoed
across the chasmic canyon
gaping impossibly
between he and I.

“No problem;
we must each do
what’s best for us”,
I called back to him
over my shoulder,
less and less urgent
about crossing that chasm.

My meaning wasn’t reaching him.

I know, because there he stood,
waving and smiling,
oblivious to all my patience
and that last bit of grace
getting pushed over the edge
and crashing finally, tragically,
into the rocks
of the raging river below.

And then I watch him
and his smiling hope
getting smaller and smaller
in my rear view mirror,
as I and my heart
turn towards the road ahead,
and drive away
from the chasmic canyon.

~ cj 2013.05.20

chasm (noun)

  • a marked interruption of continuity; gap: a chasm in time.
  • a wide difference in interests, feelings, etc
  • a sundering breach in relations, as a divergence of opinions, beliefs, etc., between persons or groups.

  • Posted in Essay, MM | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

    I Should Have Known

    He said “You should have known.”

    He’s right, you know.

    I should have known,
    because he should have told me.

    But now I know.
    I found out on my own.

    He should have known I would.

    ~ cj 2013.05.16

    Posted in 21 And Done, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

    Replaced in 12 Days

    I planted a garden this year, taking another step in reclaiming the space my (now ex) husband and I used to share. I wanted to see something growing here. I longed to experience new life again, in a home where everything that mattered to me got so neglected or mistreated, it died. I needed to take another step to accept that death, and let it go.

    I was and am incredibly proud of the work I’ve done back there, even though there’s much more to do. Showing up and caring to do my best in this garden was an important, healing step for me. And now, most of the plants and seeds are growing and thriving, and I can’t wait to eat lettuce and brussel sprouts, carrots and all those tomatoes. But the cucumbers never came in, and a few herbs I planted didn’t do so well.

    Of the herbs I planted, there’s a lot of mint, which is now beginning to compete with the tomatoes for space. There’s also one sweet basil left, but it’s going to need some drastic intervention to survive. I lost the remaining three herbs – one sweet basil, one purple leaf basil, and one dill plant.

    I left the dead herb remains in the garden, while I paid attention to more pleasurable pursuits. Their carcasses became overshadowed by tomato plants quickly climbing out of tall cages.

    I celebrated the blooms beginning to show up everywhere on the tomato plants’ sun-craving vines, while I studiously ignored the dead herbs rotting or shriveling nearby. I’ve grown quite the talent for ignoring this kind of thing.

    Yesterday, I decided I’d had enough of ignoring dead things, so I bought three new plants to replace them. I found another purple leaf basil that’s twice as big and much more vibrant than the original one I’d planted. And I found a dill plant I hope will make it, despite looking a tad bit brown.

    Basil Holly

    But I couldn’t find a sweet basil, which made me slightly sad, because it was a comfortable herb I could rely on. Instead, I found a Basil Holly. Time for something new, and this was the best I could do. So I bought it and took it home, telling myself it was going to be just as good, or maybe even better than the other one I’d originally planted.

    Purple Basil

    And although I liked the predictable sweet basil, the purple basil is my favorite. I love the unique color, and its unashamed, ruffly leaves.

    Today, I dug up what was left of the dead plants, and I replaced them with these new ones. Exactly 12 days has passed from the time I’d admitted to myself those plants were dead, and accepted that I’d either have to live without them, or get new ones. And while I was digging up the dead and replacing them with new plants, I realized it was also exactly 12 days between April 8th, when my (now ex) husband and I divorced, April 20th, when he replaced me with a new wife.

    Sweet Basil Carcass and new Basil Holly

    Sweet Basil Carcass and new Basil Holly

    They’ve been involved since before he moved out of our house, so perhaps the 2.5 years he and I were separated before the divorce gave them a chance to learn about each other and grow in a positive way. Maybe he’ll decide this new wife is better than me, in the same way I’m holding out hope for my Basil Holly. From my heart, without malice, I do hope for his new wife’s sake, that what killed our 23.5 year marriage for me, doesn’t kill his new one.

    Succulent, but a bit prickly

    And when the newness wears off, may he still find his wife succulent and beautiful, without getting frustrated and mean when she’s prickly or needy.

    As for me? It was the right decision to dig up and replace those dead plants, just like it was the right decision for me to walk away from the carcass of my dead marriage.

    It’s taken me awhile to begin putting new life in its place, but I am patient and looking forward to what blooms from this change in my life. And while I feel better equipped to take care of my new plants, because I understand what went wrong, I still have plenty of learning, growing and healing to finish before I consider myself ready to replace my (now ex) husband.

    ~ cj 2013.05.15

    Posted in 21 And Done, Essay | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

    Until Tomorrow, Whippoorwill

    The whippoorwill trills
    over and over
    in the night
    lonely, looking
    waiting for her to call back to him.
    Sometimes he hears her
    and they sing for awhile.
    Sometimes he gives up
    and goes to sleep
    until tomorrow.

    We used to listen with him
    in the night
    waiting for her to call back
    so they could sing,
    hoping they’d find each other
    like we had.

    When he found her,
    we’d smile at each other for awhile
    as they sang.
    And then we’d go to sleep
    until tomorrow.

    Now I sit alone
    in the night
    listening to the whippoorwill trilling
    over and over
    lonely, looking,
    wishing you had called back to me
    singing and smiling,
    until we found each other again,
    instead of giving up
    leaving me to sleep
    without you
    until all my tomorrows.

    ~ cj 2013.05.07

    Tonight, he found her, and they had quite a time singing. I listened, and wrote this poem. But now, it’s time for me to go to sleep until tomorrow.


    Posted in 21 And Done, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments


    I watched from the window
    as he walked out again
    wide open jacket exposing
    his frightened heart,
    hands already quite chilled
    from having no mittens.

    A cold draft blew through
    when he slammed the door,
    turning away from the beginnings
    of the kind of roaring fire
    he swore he wanted blazing
    at the heart of his life.

    He blindly runs through the snow,
    tripping through drifts piling high
    which deceptively cover
    too much uneven ground
    for him to traverse without falling.

    As he flees from facing his pain,
    towards some sparse flame
    glowing with promise
    in the distant night,
    I catch a glimpse of sad hope
    burning in his misguided eyes.

    I heard the forecast,
    so I tried to warn him.
    cold today, cold tomorrow,
    even colder next week.

    I see more storms rolling
    into his life,
    dress warm I call out,
    and learn how to build your own fire.

    I know what awaits him
    from my own life spent
    shivering in unspeakable blizzards
    chasing another’s promise of warmth.

    I attended to so many small fires
    that were lit, then stomped out
    by some like-minded fool.

    But I kept running towards them,
    until one day, nearly frozen,
    I realized I was mostly
    running from me.

    I stopped,
    and I went back inside.
    I sat down.
    I started over.
    I learned how to dress myself warm.
    And then I rose up,
    and went out in the dark
    on my own.

    I stood in the bitter, dark winds
    and faced a forest of work,
    crying through the blistering pain
    of chopping and piling
    because I finally saw
    it was the only way
    to have the kind of roaring fire
    I swore I wanted blazing
    at the heart of my life.

    And now there is him.

    Once, twice, three times
    he’s come to my door
    seeking warmth,
    afraid he’ll never find fire.

    I let him in,
    so he could see,
    even though I was not finished.

    But he’s fled again,
    and this time I’m letting him go,
    because he is not ready
    to build his own fire
    and he will not wait
    for me to finish my own.

    I am losing sight of him now
    as the snow swiftly covers his tracks.

    I bundle up,
    and head back out
    to my forest of work.
    And as I face into
    my own dark winds again,
    my heart will stay hopeful
    that before you freeze
    he’ll stop running
    long enough to see that
    he is the only one who can build
    the kind of roaring fire
    he swears he wants blazing
    at the heart of his life.

    ~ cj 2013.04.20

    Posted in Poetry, Writing | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

    Stone, Stone Cold

    Today is the first day
    I’ve written on stone paper.

    I find it cool to the touch
    and beautifully soft
    as I caress its pages
    with my fingers
    and press my pen
    into filling its lines.

    It is also the first day
    after many other first days
    I’ve filled with my aching search
    to understand
    how your heart went
    so stone, stone cold.

    Perhaps I believed a day
    spent writing on stone paper
    would connect me to
    some deeper truth
    beneath the cool smooth surface.

    But in spite of what paper I choose,
    and no matter how many stones
    I overturn seeking answers,
    each day of firsts
    ends like the others,
    with more pen filled paper,
    tucked under more stones,

    and me,
    further than ever
    from our last caress,
    still filled
    with that aching need
    to understand
    how your heart went
    from beautifully soft to
    so stone, stone cold.

    ~ 2013.04.20

    Posted in 21 And Done, Poetry, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Bloom Wide Open

    I found this reckless beauty,
    at the beach,
    bloom wide open.

    Her fragile petals blew wildly
    in the wicked wind
    as she fearlessly
    faced the waves.

    She’d blossomed
    in her own restless time,
    oblivious now
    to who’d missed this
    singular moment
    fearfully waiting
    for fairer weather to arrive.

    No matter,
    those waves
    or that wind,
    not to her.

    She faced forward,
    brilliantly being
    a bloom wide open
    for anyone who cared to enjoy,

    but mostly for herself.

    ~ 2013.04.12

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

    To Find Me

    in a car like yours
    drove slowly by,
    and for a moment,
    I thought you’d come
    to the edge of the ocean
    to find me.

    He drove by
    without stopping.

    And I admit,
    for a moment?
    It slowed me down.

    I noticed how edgy
    my heart was
    from the idea
    that you might come
    to find me.

    I noticed how saddened
    my heart was
    from realizing
    you’d never come
    to find me.

    But then,
    I drove that thought away
    and turned back
    to the edge of the ocean
    because I am here
    to find me.

    ~ cj 2013.04.10

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

    Broken Mess

    Some broken messes can be fixed with enough effort and the right kind of care.
    Salvaging them might take several attempts, use multiple skills, require new approaches.
    Often seeking outside advice is what makes the difference.
    But the satisfaction of fixing something worth saving is infinitely rewarding.

    Other times, a mess can’t be fixed regardless of what skills are used, in spite of valuable advice, and in the face of trying many approaches.
    There simply isn’t enough of the right kind of care remaining to make another attempt.

    I am a determined girl, but when the desire to make enough effort was gone, I knew it was time to accept it, and leave you behind.
    I told myself I could keep my skills. I knew in my head I wouldn’t lose new approaches or forget valuable advice.
    And every moment since then has proven infinitely worthy of me leaving.

    Yet here I stand, on the eve of making it final, looking back one last time at our situation.
    I take a moment to wonder if one more tool, one more approach, one more piece of sound advice might have fixed us.
    But tomorrow, I will accept that we won’t be salvaged and leave us behind, because now I know why we couldn’t be fixed.

    There wasn’t enough effort nor the right kind of care left to save our broken mess.

    ~ cj 2013.04.07

    Posted in Essay, Writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

    Wanting To

    No matter how much I understand it,
    I’ll never get it.

    I hope one day I’ll get over
    wanting to.

    ~ cj 2013.04.07

    Posted in 21 And Done, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

    Opposites Attract

    it hurts my heart less,

    …when we’re not connected…

    it hurts your life more.

    ~ cj 2013.04.02

    Posted in MM, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

    Matter Of Time

    “Oh, my, you two
    are so perfectly suited”,

    was her frankly
    astute observation,

    as if she’d discovered
    some treasure,

    as if she were the first
    who found it
    painfully obvious.

    and then,
    as if she couldn’t
    help but continue,

    gleaming bright hope
    that I had some
    special secret
    I’d be willing to share,
    leaned in to ask,

    “So when will you
    be together?”

    Her accent fell on the ‘will’,
    as if it were assured,
    of-course inevitable
    in only some matter of time.

    I’ve wondered,
    ever since she
    dared to lean close
    and ask

    how much her hope
    as mine already had,
    when I answered,
    my pain
    fully obvious,

    that in spite of how much
    any one else
    and at one time,
    found us
    perfectly suited,

    no amount of
    inevitably obvious
    would ever
    be enough
    to assure
    we’d be together
    in any matter of time.

    ~ cj 2013.03.28

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    I write
    I can’t draw in a breath
    without shattering my heart
    unless I do.

    You ache
    it catches your breath in your chest
    and shatters your heart
    when I do.

    ~ cj 2013.03.27

    Symbiosis: the living together of two dissimilar organisms in more or less intimate association or close union.

    (From Merriam-Webster)

    Original poem: I Write

    Posted in MM, Poetry | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

    I Write

    I write
    I can’t see
    I can’t think
    I can’t sleep
    I can’t draw in a breath
    without shattering my heart
    unless I do.

    You ache
    I speak my truth
    I make you think
    I wake you up
    I catch your breath in your chest
    and shatter your heart
    when I do.

    ~ cj 2013.03.27

    I wrote another one right after this. Or more accurately, I modified this one. Here’s a link to it: Symbiosis

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    ADD Key Kit

    I posted this today on my ADD In Action Facebook page. For some reason, it made me giggle hard when I wrote it, so I thought I’d share it here.

    My version of a Swiss Army Knife.

    ADD Key Kit

    So large, I can find them with a reconnaissance plane’s help if necessary.

    So bulky, I can’t help but notice the missing weight of them when they’re not present.

    Equipped with everything I might possibly need for a short trip to the gas station:

    Mophie iPhone recharger – for when I sit in a parking lot playing Solitaire until the battery goes dead. I ignore the warnings on the phone and don’t plug it in the car because the MP3/charger cord is too short to continue playing comfortably.

    Extra headphones because I forget my earPods nearly every time I leave the house.

    The blue tag from my last half marathon. You know the one (I posted about this)…I remembered my bike rack number (2053), but then spent 45 minutes AFTER running a half marathon, riding my bike around trying to remember where my car was.

    My phone was dead, too. And I didn’t have the Mophie yet. Although it would have been in my car anyways. Maybe.

    I keep that tag on my key ring to remind me not to forget where my car is again. It hasn’t started to work yet, although I do remember the number (2053).

    Little scuba tank that’s supposed to have ADD meds in it. It’s empty except for powder, which I haven’t been desperate enough to lick out of it yet.

    My housemate’s spare car keys. He’s traveling right now, and I have to pick him up from the airport. He knows I have ADD. I wonder how he’s sleeping at night, knowing I have the only one with a remote.

    Retractable utility knife. I knew this was a bad idea when I attached it here. But I’ve only stabbed myself twice and cut something once, and it’s been useful four times, so it gets to stay.

    Two dog tags with my contact information on it. One is wrong, but I keep it because it’s pretty. I hope they try the stuff on the ugly one first. Hm. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it.

    Key to the cool post office box. The one I get packages at. The one I don’t mind going to. (The other PO box key is in my glove box with all the other keys I can’t identify, but might need some day).

    I’d like to take a moment to point out the shitty PO box key is in the glove box because I’m using a tip from a professional organizer – don’t keep things in your face that you don’t use often or that make you unhappy. See? My coping and organizing skills are mad!

    BACK to the ADD key kit…

    My car key, which looks like a little Starship Enterprise. 🙂 It’s fastened on there with a round ring that can be unscrewed. I’ve lost that more than once.

    It’s all dangling from a carabiner (I had to look up the spelling of this)…which, if I fasten it to the belt-less loop on my pants, pulls them down and gives me plumber’s butt.

    I also have a fear if I hang all this on the key hook, it’s going to pull it off the wall. So I set them down elsewhere, creating the need sometimes for that reconnaissance plane.

    NOTE: There’s no house key on here. That’s because I have a coded door entry. I remember numbers like crazy and can never find my keys. It’s all about having things in place that work for me.

    Oh yeah, and there’s Post it flags so I can mark my place in something I’m never going to finish reading.

    And Post it notes in case I need to write a reminder somewhere about something I’ve forgotten several times already and stick it someplace I’ll never see it again.

    Wait, I just realized I don’t have a pen or pencil on there to write a reminder.

    I better go get one on there now. I wonder where I put that hot mess after I took that picture.

    ~ cj 2013.03.22

    BTW, I regularly post pictures of my ADD Mishaps, along with photographic evidence, on this page:

    And no, none of it is staged. I’m not creative enough to make that stuff up!

    Posted in Essay | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

    I Imagined We’d Dance

    I’ve closed my eyes so many times
    since I found you again
    imagining if we walked softly
    and waited til the timing was right,
    we’d one day sink sweetly,
    breathing into the rhythm
    of dancing together again.

    I’d trust you to guide me each step of the way
    one strong arm around me
    the other holding my hand in the air
    as if we were getting ready to fly.

    I’d arch my back gently
    pressing my heart close to yours
    my joy for this dance with you
    moving us to abandon
    our fear of a fall.

    I knew the music we shared in our hearts
    couldn’t play for awhile
    because the floor was so littered from
    our failed dances with others
    that we’d trip and fall if we
    dashed out there too soon.

    But I always imagined
    it meant enough to us both that
    some day
    some way
    we’d find our way back
    to each other’s arms
    for a second dance.

    Instead, I find myself closing my eyes
    swirling, sinking, sadly alone
    as it begins to dawn in my heart
    that our music may have ended,
    and I only imagined we’d dance again.

    ~ cj 2013.03.20

    I saw this beautiful painting on a Facebook post tonight. Here’s a link to other exquisite artwork by Colin Staples: I hope he doesn’t mind that I wrote this for his piece.

    Posted in MM, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

    Your Shoes

    I can’t imagine
    how you can stand
    in those shoes,
    how you can claim
    that they fit
    and spit shine them
    as if they were
    worthy of wearing.

    I can’t imagine
    even though I’ve been
    attempting for years
    to try them on,
    thinking perhaps if I
    squeezed my feet in them
    I’d understand
    how you could turn your back,
    how you can walk away proud
    or even stand up straight
    in your shoes
    after you stomped
    so hard on my life
    and my heart
    you nearly crushed me.

    I can’t imagine
    what story you’ve told
    about the leather
    they’re made of,
    and those laces you’ve tied;
    a story you’ve sold to yourself
    and any one else who
    you feared might
    get close enough
    to notice how deeply
    they’re scuffed.

    I see how it is now,
    those soles and your soul
    have no tread
    have nothing to stand on.
    You cannot move forward
    as long as they’re on your feet
    without skidding
    and crashing to the ground
    in the slightest of stormy weather.

    I see how it is now,
    as long as that road
    was kind to your shoes
    you traveled beside me.
    But you were not walking with me
    and never once did you carry me.
    You tripped, then you hid,
    and high-tailed a run
    when your scrapes and your holes
    reflected back from my eyes.

    Such a fool I was
    but I see how it is now,
    it isn’t about where you walked,
    it’s about who you are.
    You believe that your shoes
    are the only shoes,
    and because they fit you,
    you choose to believe
    they are rightly sized to perfection.

    I see how it is
    now that I’ve tried on your shoes
    so many times.
    You simply could not bear the pain
    of changing them
    because you’d have to face
    how they’ve squeezed you
    and blistered my life.

    And you can not begin to consider
    trying on mine.

    Because if you tried on mine
    and looked back at yours
    you would see no path you could tread
    that would ever find
    your spit-shined, laced up
    soul-less leather shoes
    acceptable for taking
    a single step in your own direction.

    ~ cj 2013.03.20

    The painting is A Pair of Shoes, created by Vincent Van Gogh in 1886.

    Posted in 21 And Done, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

    Off The Shelf

    This plant was green once, full of life and hope.  Long tendrils of healthy leaves clung to well-watered vines, draping over shelves full of books in this home he and I built together.

    When I watered it up on that shelf, I was always clumsy.   Often I spilled it on myself, or missed the pot entirely.  I never knew if I’d given it too much, or too little.

    I admit, it was like that with a lot of things.

    Eventually, I  decided it took more effort than I was willing to give, and I began to ignore it.

    And now, I want to pretend I don’t know what happened to that plant.  Or maybe I’d feel better if I offered those excuses, as if they were good reasons.   But the truth is, I know what happened.  I stopped watering it, and took up ignoring it, because I stopped caring.

    This plant isn’t the only thing I stopped nurturing.  My life is littered with the half-dead, uncared-for remains of what I used to believe meant the world to me.

    But it’s spring now, and so many things have changed in the past few weeks.  Like the trees and flowers, the birds and all the other creatures, I can feel myself blossoming, coming alive finally, after a long, long winter I wasn’t sure I could survive.

    All I thought I couldn’t live without, it turns out, I can.  And what my heart truly cared about is still here, although the neglect is quite visible.

    So I decided this weekend that perhaps I could bring that plant back to life if I took it off the shelf and gave it some care.

    And then I set about cleaning up and resurrecting my garden and my home, my friendships and my business, now that my long, long winter is over, because I’ve decided what my heart truly cares about has spent more than enough time on a shelf.

    ~ cj 2013.03.20

    Another interesting thing to think about, which I didn’t really talk about here, is how willing I was to pay attention to it, once I moved it from that shelf.

    Posted in 21 And Done, Essay | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

    Torrential Rain

    I tried to take care of you,
    even when your choices
    caused that torrential rain.

    But as it poured down,
    filling our streams,
    rushing over our road,
    I had to run harder
    than I’ve ever had to run,
    to save myself from drowning.

    And when the umbrella
    I tried to cover you with
    wasn’t enough,
    even in the midst of you
    struggling hard
    to pull me under
    with your waves of lies,
    I still ached for your troubles,
    and I left you a raft
    in the flood.

    I am sorry if you are angry at me,
    but in that torrential rain,
    with my own tears pouring down,
    it was the best I could do to protect you.

    I am not able to
    look anymore,
    cannot bear to see
    if you sink or swim.

    So drenched and shivering
    from your bone deep cold,
    I slowly but surely
    turn away to seek shelter,
    while my heart holds a hope
    that a rainbow awaits you
    on a new sunny shore.

    ~ cj 2013.03.06

    Posted in 21 And Done, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

    Run Free

    Maybe some women want a partner, whether that partner is wild or not, who understands and admires a woman who needs to run free.

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    Differently Pink Katydid

    I wonder if this beautiful katydid knows that it’s pink?

    Is it self-conscious?

    Does it feel exposed or hide for being different? Or has it adapted, thriving because of the privilege and obligation of being different?

    Does it wish things were different, that it was green like the rest? Or does it see now, after all that time trying to fit in, that there are some definite advantages from a lifetime of knowing it didn’t.

    Has it had to be stronger than the other katydids, wiser, quicker, because it cannot hide its differences from the world, which has often tried to make it easy prey?

    Has it discovered the world of beautiful pink flowers, because leaves aren’t the only place for a katydid to survive?

    I wonder if the other katydids know it’s pink? Do they admire it openly for its extraordinary uniqueness? Or do they avoid it, afraid of something different, unable to accept another so seemingly unlike them. Perhaps they rub their green spiny legs together, loudly gossiping their disapproval in harmony with the other katydids, leaving the pink katydid isolated and learning how to live with being alone.

    I wonder if they stand back and let it languish in the open. Maybe they believe, because it’s always stood out, that it can handle any challenge that comes its way? Or do they find a way to protect it from harm, knowing it may not be able to camouflage as well as the others?

    Does the pink katydid have any other pink katydid friends, friends who feel a kinship not just from their color, but from what they’ve had to endure.

    And most of all, I imagine who among the green katydids may come forward, not just to accept the pink katydid, but to make sure it feels treasured, cherished and protected for all the wonderful things it must be, because it was destined to go through life differently pink.

    ~ cj 2013.03.06

    A pink katydid – its unusual color is the result of a genetic mutation known as erythrism, similar to the recessive gene that afflicts albino animals.

    Picture from Animania Galleria

    Posted in Essay | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

    Let’s Not

    Let’s not
    and pretend that we did,
    because my heart
    still bleeds
    from the last time,
    when I gave my all
    and you only
    pretended you did.

    ~ cj 2013.03.05

    Posted in MM, Poetry | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

    I’d Rather Be Alone

    I always said I’d rather be lonely alone, than lonely with someone else.

    For years, I was so lonely with him, I did everything I could to stay busy so I wouldn’t notice. Finally, two years ago, I walked away, and faced that loneliness.

    Now, I realize I actually like being alone. And if I ever find I’m lonely? The friends I’ve made since I stopped being lonely with him make me feel less alone than I ever have.

    ~ cj 2013.03.04

    Posted in Essay | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

    No Winners

    Sometime in 1994 or 1995, my now soon-to-be ex and I were in counseling. We’d separated, because I needed to be understood, accepted, and loved for who I was, and that’s not how I felt.

    During the counseling, our therapist said this to us:

    “There is no such thing as a winner and a loser in a marriage. There are either two winners, or two losers.”

    In my head, I always added “If you make your partner feel like a loser, then you’re a loser, too.”

    After a year and a half apart, I went back, because I believed he’d changed. Together, we clung to that mantra, repeating those words to each other fairly often for the rest of our marriage.

    But sadly, although it was an oft-repeated mantra, it never became the vision I hoped we’d live by. I was unhappy for years trying to be who he wanted me to be, and trying to get him to understand and appreciate who I was. Already now, I can look back and see that what was wrong when I left the first time, was still wrong in the end. The core of it became the reason I left again; I did not feel like a winner with this man. And I know he didn’t feel like a winner with me either.

    After stumbling for so many years, failing miserably and angrily, one day I realized I’d never find the winner I knew lived in me, as long as I stayed with him. And as I faced my own disappointment with what I’d discovered was going on, I knew he also needed a chance to be a winner with someone new, too. It wasn’t going to happen with me, and I could see in his eyes and tell by how he treated me, how much he hated me for that. So I left again for the final time, acknowledging and now accepting that we lost at something we’d tried to hang onto for 21 years.

    We went through divorce mediation last week, because we couldn’t agree on what was fair. We never could see things the same way, and that stayed true to the end. We managed to come up with an agreement, forced on us by the lawyers we always swore we wouldn’t need.

    I don’t know how he feels about that mediation. And although this is no longer my concern, I would be shocked if he doesn’t feel quite wronged. I feel immensely wronged, too, as I face years of rebuilding from what it turned out was going on.

    In the end, I had to save myself from the choices he was making, and he needed to start over, too. And although I never want to be with him again, my heart breaks for him, as it does for me.

    We both lost, just like that counselor said would happen all those years ago, because we didn’t treat each other like the winners we both wanted to be.

    ~ cj 2013.03.04

    Yes, I know there are two sides to all of this; I can only tell my own. In the end, despite how hard we tried, we both lost, because we couldn’t win together.

    I’m looking forward to my new life, and I’m happy in a way I’ve never been, now that I’ve found the winner in me.

    I want him to feel like a winner, too, now that he is with his new love.

    For us both, I hope we never lose like that again.

    Posted in 21 And Done, Essay | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

    For The Rest of My Life

    I will miss who I thought you were for the rest of my life.

    ~ cj 2013.03.03

    Posted in 21 And Done, Poetry | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

    May They Love In Such A Way

    I love how he holds her face, one of her little curls trapped under his fingers that no one cares are filthy. He’s reached out, determined to show her how he feels. He looks so sure of himself, going after what he wants, clearly the instigator of that wonderful moment of affection. And while he reaches out, it’s clear he’s also grounded. Look how he leans back, his thighs clenched tightly, making sure neither of them lose their balance in that moment of sweet closeness.

    And equally I love how her pudgy little wrists end in hands balled up in fists. Who knows if those are fists of fancy or fists of fear. But her chest looks filled with air, as if taken by surprise. She’s leaning in, or is he pulling her? In either case, her face is turned up towards him. It is hard to tell if her eyes are maybe open, maybe closed. But it is clear she is accepting this piece of himself he’s risked his pride to share.

    I look at them and imagine them older, wiser. I wonder how much of this innocent affection they remember. I wonder how much they allow themselves to grow into the people they already appear, at such a tender age, to know they are inside.

    Here’s to the boy I have just fallen deeply in love with. May he always reach out, without, or in spite of, his fear, courageously giving love to the one who touches his heart.

    And may the girl I see myself in, continue, even when caught by surprise, to keep her eyes open, but her face turned towards the wonder of what could be if she just leans in a little.

    And here’s to them both, as the picture says…may they each follow a path of loving both themselves and others in such a way that the person they love feels free.

    ~ cj 2013.02.19

    I want to be the little girl leaning in for the boy who courageously gives love to me when I touch his heart.

    Posted in Essay | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

    Sweet Sunday Snoozes

    Sweet Sunday snoozes
    breathing each others air
    wrapped in a cocoon of blankets
    and plumped up pillows,
    wrapped in each others arms.

    I inhaled deeply
    and turned every way I could
    while you tried to dream,
    making sure each part of me
    absorbed as many memories
    of contact with you
    as they could.

    my face to your chest
    bringing my mouth up near yours
    turning to press my back into
    your stomach
    while you buried your face
    in my unkempt curly hair.

    I rarely slept
    did you know?
    Instead I memorized your freckles
    and ran my fingers softly
    over the strawberry hair
    that silkens your arms.

    I studied those beautiful
    comforting hands
    while they hung onto me
    while I hung on those moments,
    while I hung onto us.

    I clung to you
    breathing in the
    unique fresh
    that clung to your flesh
    so I would smell of you
    for hours after you’d let me go.

    I dared not close my eyes
    for more than a few winks
    because from the moment
    I first got wrapped up in you
    I knew we didn’t have long
    before we’d wake up
    from sweet snoozing to find
    our dream time was over,
    at least for awhile.

    ~ cj 2013.02.18

    Posted in MM, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

    Summit Sunrise – Piano Recording

    [soundcloud url=”″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

    One of my closest friends made a comment about how what we’re both going through is like trying to reach a summit.

    We talked about how all the mistakes get made right before you reach the summit…but if you just hold on, the sun will rise, and it will be worth the journey.

    I made this song up after that conversation with him in my heart, and our journey heavy on my mind.

    And to you, my dear sweet friend,

    I know your journey was so very hard. From the moment you began, until you reached your own summit, although you may feel you were quite clumsy, I was there, and I know better. You traveled to the end with grace and mercy in the best way you knew how.

    And now, even though you must be exhausted, there you are, reaching out for me, cheering me on and reminding me of all that waits in front of me if only I can take those last few steps.

    For the rest of my life I will be grateful for knowing you. You’ll always have my heart, and now, this song’s for you, too.

    ~ cj 2013.02.13

    Posted in Essay, Music | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Be A Lighthouse

    This essay has been a long time coming. It’s in my heart, it’s in my head.  I’ve always loved lighthouses, and this concept has been a lighthouse for me as I navigate some major life transitions and try to find my true self.  But for whatever reason, writing it down has never happened until now, until my friend, a lighthouse herself, insisted.

    I nearly died inside, I did. I settled, I morphed. I did less than I knew I could do because I didn’t want to be a threat to another’s ego. I tried to live without attention or compassion. I dumbed myself down for another and let another’s idea of “normal” make me feel unworthy. I became someone I never was for everyone else in my life. I never cried because I knew somewhere deep inside that if I did, I’d never stop. Instead, I allowed myself to grow angry, bitter, resentful. I laughed, but only on the surface, not with the deep abundant joy that fills me now.

    One day, during a conversation with a friend about being yourself, this visual description of what I was trying to communicate came to me.  It isn’t a perfect metaphor, but it’s served me and many of my friends well since I came up with it and began sharing it.

    Here’s the basic concept, the mantra my friends have heard me oft repeat: Be A Lighthouse. Don’t be Flashlight Girl.

    Be a lighthouse.

    A lighthouse stands strong on its rock, often near the shore, and knows its purpose is to guide ships around or into a harbor when it’s not always easy for a boat to find its way.  A lighthouse has its own character, its own radius of coverage, its unique light and purpose.

    The boats that need that harbor or need to find their way around an obstacle can count on the lighthouse to help them.  It doesn’t take extra energy for the lighthouse to guide one or many boats.  It remains the same, while the boats make the effort based on what they need.

    I would like to imagine a lighthouse can be re-calibrated depending on the weather, or the time of day.  Perhaps if they know a significant number of ships will be coming from a certain direction, a light can be shown more brightly there.  I don’t know the truth of this, but it fits well with the way I use this concept.

    Don’t be Flashlight Girl (or Boy).

    Flashlight Girl may have the most powerful flashlight around, but she’s still left to run up and down the shoreline, pulling damaged or frightened boats in, as she can get their attention.  Is she pulling in the right boats?  Her light isn’t strong enough to provide a positive guide to help a boat determine.  And a boat whose navigation isn’t good enough to know where to go, and finds it necessary to depend on Flashlight Girl for his way home, isn’t likely the kind of boat that’s going to have valuable cargo once docked.

    As Flashlight Girl runs up and down the beach, she changes course, changes which direction her light is shining. Perhaps she tells herself she needs to be flexible, needs to make sure no one is left behind, no one crashes.  She wants to insure she remains relevant and valuable, no matter what the cost to her.   But in the end, she guides all the wrong ships into dry land.  And eventually, filled with disappointment, she discovers she’s completely exhausted and her batteries have run out.  She finds herself face down on the beach, broken hearted, with nothing to show for all her work but sand in her cracks.

    Find Yourself.  Be Yourself.  Don’t Worry About the Ones Who Don’t Fit.

    The point of the analogy of course, is to find yourself, and insist on being yourself.  It’s not easy to begin with, but in the long run, it’s the only way to live.

    Being A Lighthouse
    A lighthouse person takes the time to get to know herself well.  She studies herself.  She changes what she wants to change, not because others demand it, but because it’s what she wants for her own life.  She accepts herself and learns to love the lighthouse she is.

    This is no small task, especially for someone who has long denied herself, trying to be someone utterly different than her own true nature.

    A lighthouse is willing to shine her exact light as brightly as she can.  She is a person who is willing to be true enough that the ships who are right can find her and decide for themselves if that lighthouse is a friend they should connect with or continue past.  Is this a “harbor” that’s right for them?

    A ship who knows not to approach isn’t something a lighthouse needs to worry about. The lighthouse is confident that the right boats will figure it out, and that there are plenty of boats that want her particular harbor.

    It is quite true that often ships at sea are not aware of who they are.  A ship can easily get itself into troubled waters if it’s not aware of its own needs and where it’s going.  But although it may sound cold, the lighthouse isn’t responsible for changing who she is to fix that boat’s navigation problems.  A lighthouse has a responsibility to be a lighthouse. The boat is responsible for righting its course and finding its way back out to sea.

    Being A Flashlight

    The flashlight girl is a person who never really knows who she is.  Her light flickers all over the place and never settles on any one thing.  As a result, the boats in her life are confused.  Boats who don’t know who they are or what they need, boats that are in trouble, are drawn to Flashlight Girl.  But only for a short time before Flashlight Girl and the boat become disappointed at the lie told from the start.

    It takes energy to be either a Lighthouse or Flashlight Girl.  But Flashlight Girl exhausts herself by modifying for circumstances and people around her, while a Lighthouse focuses on making sure who she is remains clear and visible.

    What I Believe

    Being a Lighthouse does not mean you must be outgoing, or loud, or bright.  It does not mean you have to be an extrovert, or always “on”.  It means you have to be yourself for the right ships to find you, no matter who that self is.

    And standing on a rock doesn’t mean you never change your circumstances or refine your view of the world either.  You must be willing to move and make changes if your heart tells you it’s time for a new rock or a different light.

    As I said, the analogy isn’t perfect.  But it’s been the perfect lighthouse for me.

    I was lucky, I was.  I was able to pull myself up off the beach and head for the rock where I thought I might belong.  It took awhile to find it, and it’s been the most painful rocky journey of my life.  But as I began to live my life as a lighthouse, I noticed I stopped worrying about the people who didn’t need and couldn’t understand who I was.

    I still love to visit the beach, stretch my edges, see who’s there.  But now I can enjoy it for its peace and beauty, for the experience of the gentle waves coming in, for the shells and the sand that refresh my spirit, instead of feeling the responsibility of saving misguided boats who tried to exhaust me bringing them in or drown me pulling back out to sea.

    I realized my fears of ending up on a cold rock, lonely and alone, were unwarranted.  As I became a lighthouse, as I became more at home with myself from my new vantage point, I noticed my harbor has been filling quite nicely with situations and people who are perfect for me, including the beautiful friend who encouraged me to write about being a lighthouse.

    ~ cj 2013.02.13

    The lighthouse in this picture is in Norway.  Here’s a link to more information about it:ær_Lighthouse

    Posted in Essay | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

    Dead Tree

    You mourned the dead tree

    more than you mourned the death
    that meant you’d never see the tree
    or me

    Now that I’m done mourning,
    you’re deader to me
    than any
    dead tree could ever be.

    ~ cj 2013.02.13

    Posted in 21 And Done, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

    A Leap of Faith To Make Myself Happy

    I worked on paperwork again last week, yesterday, today to get myself out of this long-dead marriage. How can there be so much of this? I was so proud of myself; I am so past being angry, I’m giving up the resentment, and I’m getting nearly giddy over what’s to come as soon as this is over. I cannot wait.

    Can I admit? My excitement nearly takes my breathe away.

    Or perhaps it’s my fear. Fear that he will never realize what’s reasonable. Fear that he’ll keep grabbing for more and end up taking so much that I’ll lose even more that’s dear to me.

    And there is, I will confess, a small amount of fear that he’s done so much damage, I won’t be able to ever breathe again.

    I think on this for a moment, an hour, a week, a month it seems…but now, today, I decide to use that match that started my heart on fire with the fear, to burn it right out of me.

    No matter what happens, no matter what he has done or does to me, no matter the impact, I will never regret my decision. Each thing he’s done since has made me realize it was the right thing to do, no matter the momentary pain, and no matter what fear I feel in some moment of doubt.

    I force myself to remember how it was back then. I couldn’t stand him anymore, a man filled with contempt, defensiveness, anger, resentment. A man who couldn’t find his way in the world, and punished me for it. It didn’t have to be that way, but I couldn’t make it stop…until I couldn’t take it anymore…until I felt all the same things about him.

    So I took a Leap of Faith, and I ended it. And even though I was terrified, I did what I knew would make me happy. I felt the relief almost immediately, though not nearly as much as I feel now. It came in spurts and cycles. A light shining through a tiny crack at the end of a long tunnel has spread into a nearly blinding sun shining just over a line I need to cross.

    This paperwork? These tasks and events that will get me over that line and into the sun? Even if they’re difficult, even if it takes awhile to get there, and even if it’s hard to breathe for longer than I ever imagined it would be, it was worth it.

    Even though my heart is sometimes filled with fear, it’s getting crowded out now by excitement. I’m thrilled I took the leap of faith I knew I needed to take to make myself happy.

    ~ cj 2013.02.12

    Posted in Essay | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

    If You Died

    If you died,

    I would dance
    for my life,

    for all the times
    you tried to kill
    who I was,

    when all I was
    trying to do
    when I was
    with you

    was dance
    for your love.

    ~ cj 2013.02.04

    It feels like there’s so much more here to explore, but for now, it is enough for me to notice that if he died, I would dance.

    Posted in 21 And Done, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

    Play For Just A Moment

    I cannot walk by you
    without giving in
    to your open invitation
    to touch you,
    to play for just a moment.

    And I cannot easily walk away
    because I ache when we’re apart.

    So here I am,
    confessing to you
    that in those moments of
    expressing our passions
    I am making recordings
    of the love we’re creating together.

    I share them
    with others
    when what you have given to me
    feels too strong
    to keep to myself.

    But mostly I play them
    for me,
    and so many times,
    inviting in memories each time
    like the spirit of my old forever lover
    who possesses the
    intense possibility of
    a becoming my brand new
    lifelong friend.

    I close my eyes
    as I relive the beauty
    of melting into and moving with you,
    the only one who has a hope
    of capturing
    the untamed, winding soul of me.

    Each time, I open up willingly
    to you, and the memories,
    welcoming them into my head
    and nearly begging them to stay
    wrapped up in the warmth of my heart.

    I let the memories
    captured in those recordings
    still my longing hands,
    soothe my aching need,
    through those moments
    when you are not near,
    when I cannot give in
    to your open invitation
    to walk by and touch you,
    to play for just a moment.

    ~ cj 2013.02.01

    Posted in Music, Poetry | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

    Complete Silence

    Complete silence surrounds me,
    so loud I can hear your absence
    like a pin that hit the floor,
    and reverberated without warning,
    expanding quickly in my
    empty echo chamber,
    until it became a requiem
    filling a symphony hall,
    at the direction of a
    consumed conductor
    bent on delivering
    his best and final performance,
    so finely tuned to where my
    heart bleeds most tender,
    that notes I never knew existed,
    I never knew to fear I would hear,
    ring so fully and clearly
    in your violently loud absence,
    that I know in the deepest
    chambers of my heart,
    no matter how far I flee
    the consumed conductor
    the reverberations can never
    be silenced completely.

    ~ 2013.02.01

    I pulled into my driveway and turned off the car, finding complete silence surrounding me. The moment I was aware of the silence, I was nearly deafened by the noise that rushed in to fill its void. Filled with the noise, I thumb typed this out on my phone as fast as it could rush out.

    Posted in 21 And Done, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


    I WISH all the mystery had been gone.

    The secrets I found you keeping
    were far worse
    than anything I could have imagined.

    And I would have given anything
    to be able to just flush them away.

    ~ cj 2013.01.31

    This one gets filed in the category of “There’s Inspiration Everywhere”.

    Posted in 21 And Done, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    This Morning’s Sunrise

    This morning’s sunrise was so beautiful.

    I was on my deck, peanut butter and honey toast, coffee. At first, “Forever” started playing on my phone, an alarm I set that always makes me smile.

    But as I took some pictures I began to play the recording of the song I’ve been playing on my piano, a recording of which I’d made this morning, to see if it would tell me its name. It fit so well with the sunrise.

    As I took picture after picture, I was thinking about all the times I’ve had the humbling privilege of witnessing this from a space I’ve created and managed to hold onto in the turmoil of the past few years.

    Each one is unique, and delivers in its rising, a colorful chance for a memorable day.

    All this trouble in my life, skirting around the edges, sometimes flooding in when I can’t hold back the storms, can’t compete, can’t overcome, can’t win out, over all the treasures in the center.

    I turned off my camera for a little while and I just watch and I listen. How many people get to have what I have?…A beautiful sunrise from this kind of space, a camera that captures it so I can share it with others…my doggies wagging their tails and asking for love. Food whenever I need it, laughter whenever I want it, and priceless friends that have carried me through all my worst pains.

    This morning, the sunrises looked a bit plain as far as sunrises go. But I just had a sense that something stunning was on its way. And I was right. It was unspeakably gorgeous.

    And as I stood there, taking pictures today, enjoying another blessed sunrise, I breathed in deeply and felt my eyes fill with tears of
    gratitude. I am so lucky to have this moment, this new day rising, on my path to a beautiful future that I’m ready to rise up to as well.

    ~ cj 2013.01.31

    To see the album with all the rest of the beautiful pictures, here’s a link:

    Posted in Essay, Writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment


    Somehow, you found my door
    and came smiling through
    when I wasn’t looking.

    I’m glad I hadn’t locked it.

    ~ cj 2013.01.29

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | 2 Comments


    Twenty two years of seeing you naked
    and now that I know the truth,
    now that you’ve been exposed,
    I can’t remember what you look like naked.

    I can only remember how you looked to me,
    once I realized you’d covered up.

    ~ 2013.01.29

    Posted in 21 And Done, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

    Where You Are

    You sent me a picture
    from where you are now.

    I know it so well
    it brings tears to my eyes.

    It’s that treasured place
    where we both used to be
    when we believed we always would
    and where we fooled ourselves
    once we knew that we wouldn’t.

    My heart quickened to think
    I could drive there
    walk in there
    and see you
    where you are now.

    I look again
    and I see
    your bag and your books
    on the seat
    where I used to smile
    over at you,
    where you were.

    You’d move them
    to your side,
    wouldn’t you,
    if I came there to join you.

    you’ve always,
    and gladly
    made a moment of space
    for me in your life
    when I show up and ask.

    I know, too,
    I would dearly treasure
    that gift of a moment,
    being there again
    with you
    where you are.

    I blink,
    and I look
    one last time.

    It’s hard to imagine
    you’re there and I’m not.

    But I will admit, too,
    it’s a bit hard
    now that I’ve left,
    to clearly place myself
    back there
    where you are,

    because even though
    where you are
    looks like the same place,
    once the tears clear away
    I see that it isn’t.

    You couldn’t be
    didn’t want to be
    where I was
    not for long,
    not for more than those
    treasured moments.

    And I, with my
    needy broken heart…
    I had to let it go
    to preserve where I was now.

    Still, I sit here
    from where I am now
    while where we once were
    fades from my sight,
    hoping against all
    futile hope
    that you’ll find me again
    before your bag and your books
    and the rest of your life
    fill all that remains of my seat
    where you are.

    ~ cj 2013.01.25

    Posted in MM, Poetry | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

    The Last Twisted Chapter

    Today I am writing my side of the story, what I believe is true…detailing out what I am willing to pay as a necessary cost of closing the book on this part of my life. I’ve been through brutal heartache, twists and turns and edges so jagged sometimes, I couldn’t imagine being able to write another word inside its pages. But here it is, what I hope is the real climax, coming at the last moment, in this last chapter, when finally, I feel strong enough to write it.

    I am not looking forward to this, yet I cannot wait for the task of beginning it. I close my eyes and breathe a silent prayer to a god I don’t believe in, that this will be a conclusion I can live with, a price I can pay. I hope with all I have that this will be an end that allows me to gently close the pages and move beyond, to whatever waits for me.

    I know myself well, I do. I will re-read this book; I cannot help it. I will read it to gain new wisdom. I know I will edit, too, as I recall, as I learn, so I have a clear understanding of all the details. But more importantly, I know this about myself…I’ll work on accepting that, no matter how much time I’ve spent on this, I just can’t fix this story. Instead, I will hold onto the hope that practicing acceptance of this will teach me the lessons I need for the next time.

    And although it’s been hard to walk away from the characters and the happy ending plot I’d hoped this book would have, I see now why it couldn’t go that way. I see clearly why I needed a new book, a new life. The people in this space couldn’t find harmony on these pages anymore. The conflict was so violent, that the plot got twisted in a way I couldn’t convincingly resolve. Walking away with as much grace as I could find became the most satisfying end it could have.

    Better to start a new one, a sequel I’m in control of, that I can write from a place of knowing how wrong it can go if attention isn’t paid. Better to spend my time on another story, written about my new life, instead of trying to repair a story so full of ache, I nearly lost my way in the frightening dark. Time to salvage what I can from that previous book, and walk forward. I am feeling strong enough now to imagine and create a new story filled with discovery. I will write my days full of carefree laughter. Adventurous nights will fill my life pages with friends that I love…friends whose hearts match up with mine…friends who are ready and able to join in my journey.

    You can tell, can’t you, how excited I am about this new tale? If you know me, you likely know I’ve already written the intro, and begun to travel on the path, irresistibly running forward with the story.

    But today, ah, today. I am still faced with the task of today before I can fully enjoy what I’ve begun to create. So I’ll close out this post, and I’ll open another page on my screen. I’ll begin to face writing the end of a story I’ve tried to fix for too long, so that last twisted chapter can be finished and I can live on.

    ~ cj 2013.01.21

    Posted in 21 And Done, Essay | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

    Unfinished Song

    [soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=false” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

    This song,
    graceful and light,
    began playing inside
    when you showed up
    in my life.

    I moved my fingers
    over the keys,
    and with you,
    trying to let it speak
    for the heart of me.

    It was light and fun,
    and warmed a few dark days.

    I can hear when I perfectly express
    what I feel,
    but I can’t avoid hearing
    when I miss.

    I fix what’s wrong
    in that moment,
    but in the background,
    here and with us,
    I can feel other distractions,
    buzzing for attention.

    I try to let myself reach
    for a deeper space,
    but I know this song
    should not live there,
    so I pull back
    not letting it stay down there.

    I sigh, as I accept that
    whether it is a gift or a curse
    I am always tuned into
    something more
    than the notes that ring out.

    I can hear past the distracting buzz,
    beyond what’s being played.

    I cannot miss what lives
    in the echoes of the spaces,
    at the heart of a song.

    And soon enough,
    even before I’ve begun
    truly finding
    the heart of this song,
    I break out in ache
    from the vibration
    of what I hear
    so loudly clear
    and beyond.

    I cannot miss that these notes,
    while beautifully tempting,
    don’t belong with each other
    for any longer than they live
    in the moments I play
    what will become
    this unfinished song.

    And because it won’t last,
    I leave it thin,
    a single layer,
    devoid of the rich
    I’d hoped would develop.

    I want to linger near the end.

    I don’t want to give up
    because I like the notes.
    And I can still feel
    the vibration of the echoes
    over the buzz of distraction.

    But I stop playing
    and wrap it up neatly,
    taking my hands off the keys
    while accepting through tears
    that this isn’t right
    for my heart or yours.

    And even though it hurts
    to leave this song unfinished,
    I trust there are more melodies,
    ones that cannot miss,
    vibrating in the spaces
    between the echoes.

    They are waiting
    to show up,
    graceful and light
    so my fingers,
    moving over the keys
    can finish the song
    that is truly at the heart of me.

    ~ cj 2012.01.09

    Posted in Writing | Leave a comment

    How Hard That All Is

    I forget,
    I truly do,
    how much it hurts,
    how hard that all is to hear.

    how it sears going down
    and burns settling in
    another’s open
    unsuspecting heart.

    I forget because
    it doesn’t hurt me anymore.
    I am whole
    and I love the life I have.

    I promise from deep inside,
    the damage is gone
    and in its healing wake
    thrives the created strength
    that sees me through.

    and I choose to believe
    it’s now my gift to others,
    though maybe best not given
    quite so freely,
    so fully.

    but I learned who you were,
    did i not,
    when I shared what I shared,
    and I felt heard by you.

    that was your gift to me,
    given from deep in your own heart,
    from your own place of
    painful strength,
    given freely and fully
    even in the face
    of me forgetting
    how hard that all is to hear.

    ~ cj 2012.01.06

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

    Rebuilding From A Fire

    One day, driving around in 2002 looking for properties to renovate, my ex and I came up on a house that had burned. The front window was broken out. Ignoring his preference that I didn’t, I approached with my camera, and this is the picture I took.

    I lost track of the file that stored this picture, but I never, ever forgot what I saw.

    For years, I’ve wondered…what were they doing when this happened? Where were they when the place they called home caught on fire? I’d always imagined a couple, eating dinner, drinking wine, and planning where they’d go.

    Today, when I found this picture again, I zoomed in on it to see if I could tell where they were going. And that’s when I realized…I’d always imagined a couple because that’s what I’d wanted to see. But there was only one wine glass on that table. This person was alone then, like I am now.

    And my mind opened up, to the wondering again…

    Was this a man? A woman? I decided for my own reasons, that this was a woman’s home. Did she ever go on the adventure that was likely being planned while enjoying that glass of wine? Or did the disruption the fire no doubt caused in her plans, damage her in a way that cancelled all the adventurous fun?

    I think about my own life disruption two years ago, and how similar it was to this fire. Although I didn’t burn my physical house, I definitely started my “home” on fire. I poured the fuel everywhere because I couldn’t stand how I was living anymore. I did it because all the adventure in my life had stopped. I did it because without a fire in my heart, in my life, I knew I was slowly, painfully dying inside.

    So I poured the fuel, and I quietly lit the match. Then I stood back, and I watched it burn fiercely and completely. I let the flames consume everything until my home and my life were barely recognizable. I see now that I didn’t do anything much to save my home or myself. I let it all burn, until I was sure it could never be salvaged or returned to, again.

    And then I called for help from the ashes. It showed up, more than I could have imagined it would. At first, and at various times since, I’ve leaned hard on my friends. But then finally, from deep inside my own heart, I rose up, and began to rebuild, stronger and better than ever, on a foundation of all those lessons I’ve learned.

    For sure, the fire in my life was scorching, scalding to the point of fearing I’d be consumed at times, too. But now, I’m designing my new life, laying the bricks, pouring the foundation, and enjoying the fresh air and the view. And, although my fire was destructive, I see that I needed it more than I even realized two years ago when I started it. From where I stand in this moment, I’m eternally grateful I started it.

    How beautifully poignant that I found this picture, two years after my own consuming fire, right when I’ve seriously begun to rebuild and can see what my new “home” will look like.

    I hope with all my heart that whomever lost the house in this picture found the kind of friends I found when my life burned. I hope she rose from the ashes and has happily rebuilt a new life in the way I’m doing now, too. I wish for her a warm fire in her belly, and a grateful heart for the lessons she has learned from the disruption this fire caused.

    And more than anything, I dream she went on, and continues to go on, all kinds of adventures, with or without a map and a glass of wine.

    That’s what I’m doing, now that I’m rebuilding from my fire.

    ~ cj 2013.01.02

    Posted in 21 And Done, Essay | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

    Welcome, 2013!

    Welcome, 2013….I’ve been waiting for you!

    Every year for many years, I wrote a little foundation statement, or had a motto. I didn’t do that so much the past two years. In many ways, I was just fighting to survive and find my way at all.

    I realized this past week how far down I’d gotten, when one of my friends made a comment on a post I made on Facebook. She reminded me not to let my daily to-do list get in the way of my dreams. That’s when I realized things had gotten so bad for awhile that even MAKING a daily to do list, let alone DOING it had become a dream.

    In the past few weeks, something significant shifted in me. I’m not sure what the catalyst was. I suppose I could make a few guesses at what started me forward, but the more important thing to do is celebrate that I’m now FINALLY moving forward in a real, tangible way.

    I’ve tackled some really significant things, I’ve made myself face extremely painful information and situations I didn’t want to face. I restructured some things that were causing me pain, and I made some decisions about what’s going to be next for me.

    And I started a list of the lists I need to make. What happened was interesting – I didn’t finish the lists. Instead, I actually started tackling three of the areas in a tangible way. The progress I’ve made has energized me, hopefully enough to create the kind of momentum that will keep me going until the tasks are complete.

    I don’t have all the answers for where I’m headed yet. But I have a lot of clarity, I have a great sense of the general path I’m interested in following with my life and my career, and I’m finally, after the past two years, just about giddy for what’s ahead. It’s the happiest I’ve been in many, many years.

    This morning, for the first time since 2010, I wrote a foundation statement. My goal today is to go to Zilker, and while I’m walking/running, start to create an outline with my general goals for 2013.

    I know a lot of people make and break resolutions, or refuse to even make them. I also know that making changes is an iterative, messy process that takes a good amount of adjustment, regrouping, self-awareness, and self-forgiveness. But I believe, more than I believe in anything else about myself, that I can make significant changes, even if it takes me years to get there, as long as I remain committed and keep trying.

    Here’s what I’ve written for 2013 so far:

    2011 and 2012 were a necessary part of moving towards the life I want to lead, but to a large extent, I didn’t spend them the way I want to spend my time moving forward. In hindsight, they were mostly the compost from which 2013 and the rest of my life is going to be able to grow, but other than that, as a whole, those two bad boys can suck it.

    Life is so short, and I’m done sitting in the shit I’ve been sitting in.

    I already started to make some pretty significant progress cleaning it up these past few weeks. I intend to continue to live my life much cleaner, and much more fully this year. I’m done with denying myself what makes me happy. I’ll never waste my time trying to be what someone else thinks I should be again.

    I’m going to do what I want to do, what’s right for my heart and my mind, what makes my body tingly with joy. I’m going to do this without regret, and as much as I’m able to, without giving into fear or setting myself up for heartache.

    I am going to fill my life even more with like-minded friends, partners, and loved ones who believe in grabbing what they most desire to enrich and fulfill their minds, hearts, and lives. I’m going to surround myself with people who are ready to go for it the way I’m gonna go for it this year.

    I am going to love, experience, sing, learn, discover, enjoy, laugh, grow, soar, giggle, dance, and celebrate my way all the way through 2013.

    I’m already in love fully with 2013. Here’s to choosing that THIS year not only isn’t going to break my heart, but instead will be a year I’ll remember as one of my best!

    Cheers, 2013, and Happy New Year to my friends and loved ones. I’m READY to have some real fun!

    Thank you, always, for reading what I write, and for letting me share this with you. What a compliment.

    ~ cj 2013.01.01

    Posted in Essay, Writing | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

    I Get It

    I get it.

    I cannot help
    but see.

    I never had a doubt.

    It didn’t cross my mind,
    to consider that
    your broken
    looking glass had
    in any fashion,
    even a little,
    because of
    anything to do with

    Why would I think it so?

    why, though,
    I cannot help
    but wonder,
    is it so compelling
    for you
    again and again
    to slice through this,
    with the shards of
    what lay broken,
    to convince me of this?

    I am not blind,
    nor am I transfixed,
    staring at some broken mirror
    that reflects back
    only me.

    My vision is clear enough
    that I cannot help
    but see,
    that what
    was only
    and completely about

    But I get it,
    I also cannot help but see
    that though
    what broke
    was inside only you,

    when you were cut wide
    and bleeding,
    you turned your back,
    you went alone,
    you ran away,
    in spite of,
    without regard for,
    and instead of to

    ~ cj 2012.12.28

    Posted in Writing | Leave a comment


    For the past several months, I’ve been playing Solitaire on my phone…sometimes to the point where I believe this to be a bit of an addiction…sometimes to the exclusion of other things I “SHOULD” be focusing on.

    Last week, I decided if I’m going to play it, I’m going to find some life analogies and lessons in it. Of course I decided that. Just playing wouldn’t be productive, wouldn’t have a “good enough” reason.

    You should know that when you open this game up, you can just continuously choose ‘New’ until you find a board you like.  The minute you touch any of the cards, or press Auto, you’re in the game.

    Here’s the list of what I’ve come up with so far….by the way, now that I feel like I’ve come up with most of the viable analogies/lessons, I find I’m not so interested in playing Solitaire anymore…in more ways than one.


    • Only move on things that feel good.
    • There are a large number of things that feel good and if you pass one by, you’ll refine what you’re looking for and find something better.
    • Sometimes if it looks pretty good you can still make a go of it but pay close attention to what goes wrong or right so you can use it to look next time.
    • Look for possibilities and when you can’t see them maybe put it down and come back with fresh eyes later…
    • …or get someone else to take a look.
    • Don’t get too stuck and remember there are other things out there. this isn’t the only game in town.
    • Sometimes when a board is interesting, you just go for it, even if it looks challenging.
    • Shuffling the deck always gives you a new view.
    • If you make some wrong moves, there’s often an opportunity to back up a few steps.
    • And sometimes there’s even a way to restart a game, only this time you’ll have a little more knowledge
    • If you start too fast sometimes you miss critical information and don’t notice something major is missing.
    • When something stops being fun altogether, stop doing it.
    • Few things are once in a lifetime opportunities. if you pass something by, another good thing will usually come along especially if you know what you’re looking for.
    • All good opportunities don’t look the same. be open minded and curious about each one.
    • When it starts pissing you off, put it down. or pay attn to why it’s pissing you off.
    • When you keep getting bad hands or you don’t like playing anymore it time for a new game
    • Sometimes even when you wait a long time to play, you don’t pick the right game.
    • Don’t let the amount of time you took to choose a game influence your decision about walking away. If it’s the wrong game for you, it’s wrong.
    • If you pass something by too quickly, and think after it’s gone by “Oops, that would have been a good one”, see if you can figure out why, then stop looking back.
    • If you pass something by too quickly, and think after it’s gone by “Oops, that would have been a good one”, remember you don’t actually KNOW that unless you’ve played it.
    • It IS partially about luck, but it’s MOSTLY about knowing what to watch for, and then having a strategy to win.
    • You can still win, even when you’re playing the game alone.
    • Doing something mindless is a good space to be for practicing mindfulness.
    • It’s also a good place to be for solving larger problems in the background
    • Analogies and life metaphors are available everywhere. even in solitaire.
    • You can justify just about anything to yourself.

    ~ cj 2012.12.19

    Posted in Essay | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

    Next To Me

    Next to Me – Piano Solo by Me

    [soundcloud url=”″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

    I love one little part of this.
    It comes up over and over.
    Can you hear it?
    It’s the pause where you
    look up from your book and smile,


    after all we’ve been through,
    there’s peace
    resting in our hearts.

    I love one part of this.
    I hope it comes up over and over.
    Can you imagine it?
    It’s the part where you’re next to me
    and we’re resting together,
    the fire crackling,
    our hearts
    filled with quiet warmth,
    smiling peacefully


    in the space
    we’ve always known we belong.

    ~ cj 2012.12.17

    I was just starting to make melodies up last time we were together. I wonder what you think when I send you these pieces. I wonder if it shows up with an obligation attached, or is it the gift I mean it to be?

    I wonder if your musically knowing ears cringe at my mistakes? Or do you know somewhere inside you that this is a step forward for me I would have never guessed I’d be able to take. It is an exercise for me in putting mistakes willingly out in the world. And it is an exercise in being me, in showing up, in trusting that there is something meaningfully beautiful in me wanting to play itself out, even if I don’t always get it right.

    And for that, instead of hearing the errors and the misses, the lack of tempo and the wandering, perhaps you hear it with the same love you see me with, and simply enjoy, like I do, that I’ve come this far at all.

    Posted in MM, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

    Beaming Truths

    I am out running.
    And as I move, I see.

    There are blue beams of light
    coming up from the golden sunset.
    Or is it golden beams of light
    from the blue?

    At first I didn’t notice.
    Then I stopped to take a picture,
    to share where I was with you.

    Maybe you don’t see those beams either.
    The camera didn’t capture it that well.

    But now that I’ve seen it,
    I can’t unsee.

    And I can’t help but share it with you,
    in case you need some beautiful beams, too,
    but can’t quite see them like I do.

    Perhaps instead,
    you can trust me on this,
    and see the beams through my eyes,
    just as I have gratefully seen
    so many beaming truths
    through yours.

    ~ cj 2012.12.02/03

    Posted in Poetry, Writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

    I See

    I see, and appreciate,
    different beauty
    every time I look your way.

    ~ CJ 2012.12.03

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

    Who Am I?

    I am in an odd space tonight,
    and cannot say what mood I’m in.
    If hard pressed,
    I couldn’t offer even the
    simplest guess
    on whether I’m okay or not.

    My mind is overflowing.
    My heart feels full and empty.
    My emotions have me twisted and spinning,
    while leaving me quite still
    in the eye of the storm.

    It’s been like that
    since I tried to call my grandma today.
    Or did it start last night,
    when I realized it was almost Thanksgiving again.
    Perhaps it’s been on its way since Friday
    or a few months back when I reached out in September.
    Or quite possibly several years ago?

    Maybe it’s come riding in on the heels of darkness falling so early,
    or because I don’t know what to do
    with my next moment
    or the rest of my life.

    Do I care?
    I want to believe
    that I do,
    but right now
    from this odd space,
    I am not so sure.

    I am not so sure
    if I know
    if I can say
    where I am,
    what I am,
    who I am.

    I don’t know.
    I know that much.

    What I do know
    is that I can tell you all this,
    and offer no answers.

    What I do know is
    we can be
    and sit silently together
    not knowing.

    You have no need to force me
    or back.

    I can be me,
    loudly silent with you
    no matter the odd space I’m in
    even when I don’t know
    who I am
    or what I want to do
    with my next moment
    or the rest of my life.

    ~ cj 2012.11.19

    Posted in Poetry, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

    Gentle Stream – Piano Recording

    I uploaded a new piano recording today called Gentle Stream.

    I make these melodies up on my piano, while recording them with my iPhone. If I like them, and they soothe me, I’ve started uploading them to Sound Cloud. They often have mistakes, they’re not produced, but I’m having a blast making them!

    Here’s the link to this one:

    [soundcloud url=”″ params=”show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=ff7700″ width=”100%” height=”81″ iframe=”false” /]

    If you want to hear the rest, you can go here:
    [soundcloud url=”″ params=”show_comments=true&auto_play=false&show_playcount=true&show_artwork=false&color=ff7700″ width=”100%” height=”360″ iframe=”false” /]

    Posted in Music | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

    You Built

    you built these walls

    you want,

    but not badly enough
    to want to

    climb your own walls.

    ~ cj 2012.10.31

    Posted in MM, Poetry | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

    Quiet Surprise

    It’s quiet in here
    as I let the decision ‘not to’
    sink in.

    I don’t hear a solitary peep
    and certainly not the roaring of chaotic thoughts
    I imagined would come barreling through
    all jumbled in my head from
    a yes
    or as it turned out,
    a ‘no’.

    The truth is,
    settling back into myself,
    my head knew long
    before the call came in
    that he wouldn’t decide,

    and so it knew
    what my decision had to be.

    It knew,
    because, despite all this time,
    I know him
    and his dance of indecision
    that well.

    Let’s not lie,
    let’s not make believe
    that I don’t understand why
    my head is not surprised.

    All his signs of
    “I’m too afraid”
    were there,
    screaming contradicting red,
    despite his misleading
    “I’m leaning towards”
    with which he’d teased me
    bright and hopeful green.

    I will admit,
    my heart tried overruling my head
    working to fill it with foolish hope,
    hope of a change
    brought to him by the
    wakeful hand of passing time,

    hope of a change
    forced through him
    by the sharp needle of regret
    from his first loss of me
    for avoiding decisions,
    and for paving
    our path with lies
    and misdirection.

    I hoped I’d still find
    moments remaining
    where I could be
    by decisions
    from him.

    But today,
    this decision,
    left me calmly confirmed
    that perhaps the only
    surprising thing here
    is the change in me,
    the unexpected quiet
    I’ve found nestled
    sweetly and safely inside me
    now that the waiting is over
    and I’ve let this decision ‘not to’
    sink in.

    ~ cj 2012.10.31

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

    I’m Proud of Myself

    I came in 66 out of 67 in my age group for the 10 mile Run For The Water last Sunday. And can I tell you? I’m gosh-darn PROUD of myself! 🙂

    Perhaps you wouldn’t be, and perhaps you think I shouldn’t be. But I am, oh yes, I most certainly am, and here’s why….

    The day before, after being sick all week, I signed up for that race, and while I was there? I also signed up for the Austin Distance Challenge. I bought new shoes, too, which I know is a pre-race no-no.

    I didn’t get enough sleep, and the next morning, I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to go. Not. One. bit.

    But here’s where it went right…I did it anyways. I got up, I put those new shoes on, I ate a banana and some kale salad. And then? I showed up, and I finished.

    Even walking, it wasn’t easy. 10 miles is a long way without training. It took me 2 hours and 32 minutes! I heard them announce a 74 year old crossing the finish line before me! But truly? I can’t imagine a better way to have spent that time.

    And so, for doing this, I’m screaming proud of myself.

    I have to start somewhere. We all do. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t have to be first, I don’t have to be perfect, I don’t have to be the best right away, and maybe never.

    I know me well….all I need to do to get it back together is start showing up. And then? Show up again. And after that? Yep…show up one more time.

    Eventually I’ll hit my stride, but it all begins for me by showing up and, when maybe no one else would be, being proud of myself for doing so.

    And by the way? It wasn’t REALLY about the race! It was about the workout disguised as a race….and I RAWKED that! 1155 calories, thank you very much!

    ~ cj 2012.10.30

    Posted in Essay | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

    You Want

    you want these rules

    you want,

    but not badly enough
    to want to

    break your own rules.

    ~ cj 2012.10.28

    I want to write more about this. But here is a start. Can you see it? So much is contained in these simple parts…at least for me.

    Posted in 21 And Done, Poetry | Tagged , | Leave a comment

    Taking Out The Trash

    I am taking out my trash, while I am noticing these things, so I text you all of this with pictures. It may be cheesy, it may be unconventional, but this is what I want to think about today.

    Here’s my road. It seemed so easy going down, but now I must return uphill.

    There’s a lot to enjoy along the way.

    But there’s a pile of shit in the middle of the road, too. I realize if I’m very small, and I move slowly…if I don’t have my path figured out, it could be quite hard to miss getting caught in. But if I rise above it, become bigger and faster than that pile of shit, it becomes so small in my life that I scarcely notice.

    The pile has been there for awhile, too. I’ve deftly avoided removing it or running it over, because my doggies enjoy it. The message of that isn’t lost on me either.

    I giggle at how “fucking Buddhist” this is of me. I know you will laugh, too.

    Right in the middle of the weeds, there is a flower, thriving there, all on its own, reminding me I can do this with or without another in my garden.

    As I go up the hill, I’m figuring out how to do things on my own that I didn’t know how to do before.

    I’m learning to accept the things that have died….

    …and the plans that didn’t pan out.

    I appreciate instead, the things that DID work out…

    …rather than villifying the things that didn’t. Not everything lasts.

    Not everything lands where I want it to either.

    Sometimes I flourish…

    …sometimes I cling to whatever I can…

    …and sometimes I’m completely lost in the weeds.

    I’ve certainly had to dig around in places I didn’t except to ever be!

    And I’ve learned to find comfort in places that others would think full of too much dirt and far too itchy.

    Sometimes I’ve been so exhausted I have a seat…

    And sometimes, when I just can’t be upright, I’ve had to lie down in the most unlikely of places.

    I know now looming clouds don’t always carry rain, so there’s no sense in worrying too much. Instead, I enjoy the shade they can provide from the hot, hot sun.

    And when they do cover my world, I remember there’s often blue with a softer view right behind them.

    I will remember to do what’s right for me, whether that’s plopping down on a cool piece of tile…

    or seeking refreshment from somewhere other than myself.

    So what I’ve learned from taking out the trash today is that while I’m walking my path, I must be big enough and fast enough to rise above the shit that gets in my way. I can do this, I can make it. And I don’t need to worry too much about the things that don’t work out.

    The storms that do come will blow over, and I’ll find the spot that’s right for me when I need protection. Most of all, I was reminded of the meta message that it’s important to appreciate the beauty and brilliant reminders about how to live life well that are available everywhere if you’re willing to look, even when what you’re doing is taking out the trash.

    ~ cj 2012.10.22

    Posted in Essay, Writing | Tagged , | 3 Comments

    I Am Guilty

    I called you,
    I did.

    I am quite guilty of this:

    I was going to read you
    a poem he graciously sent me.

    It would likely
    make you cry,
    as I am now weeping,
    and I knew that
    when I dialed.

    I didn’t even try
    to stop my fingers
    or my heart
    from calling you,
    as I told myself
    it would be a
    good cry to have.

    Soul washing tears would fall,
    and surely it would be
    the kind of cry that matters,
    creating a moment that
    would change
    your whole vision.

    The change
    would not be
    from the salty water
    I knew would flood into
    and slide out of
    your inky dark eyes

    from listening
    to a story
    about salty water
    into a ship
    as travelers and
    their whole lives
    slid wasted,
    entirely lost
    into an inky dark sea.

    The change
    would come
    as I read his words
    because you would now
    clearly see
    what mattered to your heart
    most was not slipping into
    the inky dark sea
    right behind them
    entirely lost
    without leaving behind
    what you believed
    should survive
    your own travels.

    I am guilty of this:

    I wanted you to cry
    because then I would know
    through my own tears,
    in my own heart
    that you’d heard what
    in his poem.

    And oh,
    I am so guilty of this
    and admit through those tears:

    I called you because
    I need to matter to you
    whom I love
    and believe in
    so when I slip into that
    same inky darkness
    at the end of my travels
    everything I am
    and what I had to give
    is not entirely lost,
    even if I’m guilty of
    making you cry.

    ~ cj 2012.10.16

    written to a friend through my own tears after reading Titanic by Edward Povey

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

    No More Sheet Music

    I’ve been playing piano since I was 5, and took lessons for well over 20 years….all classical, always reading or memorizing sheet music. I never learned improvisation, composition, chords and chord progressions or theory.

    About 2 years ago, I put away all the sheet music and started making up my OWN music. It was so fitting for my new life, because I’ve decided not to play anyone else’s script for me there either.

    Over the past 2 years, I’ve created 800-900 little music snippets, probably 50-75 of them unique melodies. I play all different times of day, often at night, to soothe myself.

    I record them on my iPhone. It’s not about the quality…it’s about being able to replay them to soothe myself later.

    They are not done, they are fluid, and they have mistakes in them, just like my new path in life does. I don’t care about the mistakes here, or in my life…I just care about continuing to move forward, enjoying myself.

    I’ve been texting them around to friends here and there, and thought I’d go ahead and create some online space for them so the ones that are a little more complete than others can have their own sorted out space.

    Putting away the sheet music and making up my own made me fall in love with my piano for the first time, after flirting with him for all these years.

    Putting away everyone else’s script for my life made me fall in love with my life, too.

    I don’t care if you listen to what I created; truly I don’t. But if you’re interested, here’s where you can go hear them. There’s about 15 things up there now, with more to follow as I go through the 800+ now sitting in iTunes. 🙂

    Posted in Essay, Music | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

    Happy Birthday Dad

    Today is my Dad’s birthday, or would have been. He died in May of this year, 6 months ago today.

    Give him a gift, Facebook suggests. I would, I most certainly would. It’s not that I’m cheap, or don’t care, but he’s not here for me to give any gift to anymore. It aches and burns, but he had a long life and wanted to go.

    I was there, with my son, for the 9 days before my Dad passed. That was the only gift, the last gift we could give him. And I do hope us being there for him, when he needed to go, was enough.

    It’s all I had to give, but I’m proud I gave it with my whole heart. And the beauty of giving that to him was that he gave me so much more in return.

    The precious, priceless memories I have from those days will never leave me. I got the treasure of an infinitely deepened relationship with my son, the bittersweet opportunity to experience someone I loved so much passing from this life, the tender moments of laughter, the tearful times spent silently holding his hands.

    And in the end, when the only words he could still say were I love you, and the only person he could still see was me, I got redemption for and forgave him everything that had ever gone wrong between us.

    So I gave him an early gift, the only one I had, and now I will spend his birthday appreciating the beautiful gifts he gave in return.

    Happy Birthday Dad. I miss you dearly every day. My world isn’t the same without you, but you left something special behind. Thank you for YOUR gifts to me.

    (P.S. I’ll hum Happy Birthday to you later. I promise.)

    ~ cj 2012.10.17

    Posted in Writing | Leave a comment

    Smiling Back

    Perhaps when you
    found me,
    you thought
    my better days
    had passed me by.

    I will allow
    It’s hard to miss
    I’m a wee bit worn.

    But you didn’t
    pass me by
    as there I lay,
    enough left in me
    in spite of what
    I’ve witnessed
    to stand out
    and smile my best
    for you.

    Thank you for
    noticing me,
    and smiling back.

    ~ cj 2012.10.09

    Posted in Writing | 1 Comment

    On My Own

    It is dusk,
    with night not
    far behind,
    and soon enough,
    the lights will be on.

    Until then,
    I’ve got enough in me
    to glow in the dark
    on my own.

    ~ cj 2012.10.09

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

    Plenty Of Room

    I went to the place
    I go when my
    heart seeks peace,
    to see if you’d fit
    in my new life,
    which includes this.

    When I got there
    I found plenty of
    and discovered
    more than enough room.

    ~ cj 2012.10.09

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


    It’s so sweetly intimate
    that it makes my heart tingle
    and feels like you’ve whispered
    something softly in my ear
    that only we know
    whenever you sign your
    email or a
    colorful card with

    Posted in 21 And Done, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

    MY Music

    I just created a space for myself on Soundboard to upload my piano creations.

    I have NO composition, chord progression or music theory training. I’ve been playing classical piano from sheet music since I was 5, but I’d largely stopped playing at all for a long time, bored out of my mind with it.

    Then I realized the life metaphor me not playing piano was. I’d stopped because I was sick of playing other people’s music. I was sick of copying, pretending emotion that didn’t belong to me, working towards some kind of perfect translation.

    I was living someone else’s life, too. I had a business that was designed to fit what someone else wanted. I was with someone I wasn’t happy with, and I wasn’t writing because my creativity scared him.  He didn’t view it as “normal”. Everything in my life was heading me straight towards dying with my music still in me.

    By some amazing piece of luck and some courage I didn’t know I had, I bailed on all of it. I absolutely had support, encouragement and some super helpful friends along the way in making these changes in my life. And about a year and a half ago, a friend who plays music came by and showed me how to do a few things on my piano, too.

    That’s all it took, and I’ve been on my way ever since, both with my music and with my life.

    And here’s the thing. I’ve found my own music. I’ve found my own voice. I’m not one bit shy about showing you my writing, or sharing my music. Part of my message as I go forward is that we ALL struggle, we’re ALL at Step 1 sometimes. Why hide that? Why NOT let someone see “draft work”, “rough composition”? Why NOT where one’s heart on one’s sleeve? If someone is cruel, then that’s someone we just learned shouldn’t be part of our lives.

    Once I opened the door to ME, I’ve found an explosion of creativity in me. Just in piano pieces, I’ve created over 900 in a year and a half. I’ve written hundreds of poems and essays, too. Will it make a difference to anyone? It’s made a difference to ME.

    Neither my life transition, nor my musical pieces are finished, and neither is EVER going to be “perfect”. I don’t care about perfect or right. I care about happy. I love my life, and I love playing my piano now, and that’s what matters to me.

    So with that said, here’s my music. If you like it, you do. If you don’t, I’m not going to give it a bit of worry. I’ve uploaded 6 so far, and as I sort through the mess from my iPhone crash, I’ll upload more.

    Oh, and here’s a poem I wrote about my piano awhile back:

    Posted in Essay | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

    What I Love About Poetry

    What I love about poetry
    is that I can use any words
    in any way I choose
    without regard to anybody else’s

    These words are freely available
    for me to lay about
    in any shape
    on any surface
    with any other words
    in any space I love.

    The words I choose
    and how they flow
    are the precious tools
    I can use to paint
    the gift of any truth
    that’s made a case
    compelling enough for
    me to tell.

    That’s what I love about poetry.

    ~ cj 2012.10.03

    A week or so ago, I went to a marketing seminar where a story teller asked, “What is poetry?” I’ve been thinking about this question and for now, my answer is that it’s words organized with rhythm meant to paint a compelling picture for the poet and anyone else who can hear that music, too.

    While I was pondering this question today, in barely a minute, I wrote this piece about why I love poetry.

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | Leave a comment


    Sometimes the joke isn’t
    witty enough
    and the laughter isn’t
    nearly raucous enough
    to cover up the hurt
    lurking beneath,
    crouching for safety
    in the shadows of a
    silky sheer grin.


    Sometimes it takes only
    the tiniest whisper
    from a sweet observer
    who recognizes the glistening
    at the corner of an eye
    as tears,
    struggling not to stream,
    and then gently
    points a mirror,
    so the mourner
    cannot help but peer.

    And then

    Sometimes “I’m sorry”
    isn’t near enough
    once the slight has been 
    exposed to the raw night air
    to stop the flow
    or silence the denial
    the smile tried 
    so desperately to 

    ~ cj 2012.10.02

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


    I knocked on your door
    believing I wanted to drop something off,
    give you a neatly wrapped up,
    you-mattered-to-me package,
    let you know there were no hard feelings
    on my side of the fence,
    and if you needed me to watch out for you occasionally,
    I could.

    When you opened the door wide
    and nearly immediately,
    I found myself standing firm on your
    welcome mat,
    warm beautiful energy inside,
    and open arms that were interested, compelling,
    infinitely willing to invite me to stay.

    The light glow from inside drew me in.
    I stepped over the threshold, locking eyes with you.
    When I caught my breath from my journey,
    I looked around to find the furniture had been rearranged
    in a most comfortable fashion while I was gone.

    May I tell you,
    the wine is the sweetest I’ve ever had,
    the conversation is better than it ever was,
    the meal filling and satisfying in a way
    I’d always dreamed it could be.

    I find myself feeling at home here with you,
    so I draw up a chair to listen,
    while you light a fire and look at me in a familiar way
    that touches my heart and reminds me
    how well we knew each other
    and how important it was
    that we had our time together.

    At the same moment I settle into the familiar rhythm,
    our soft music weaving its way through our air,
    I am delighted to discover a new connection, electric and vibrant.
    I want nothing more than to stay
    and enjoy the company, the meal, the spark.

    And you, my friend, I can see you are visibly joyful
    to find I’ve dropped by and come in.

    I don’t know if the fire will grow cold.
    I’m not sure if the wine will run out,
    or if the conversation will subside.

    I have yet to visit the other rooms in the house,
    and the awkward silence that almost always finds it way inside
    hasn’t found us yet.

    But whatever the result of our visit,
    thank you for inviting me in.
    I love what you did with the place,
    and I am most honored to be your guest.

    ~ cj 2012.09.28

    I almost said something about spilling things and failing to wipe my feet, but I didn’t want to be kicked out. 🙂

    This is dedicated to my friend, who welcomed me back with open arms, reminding me with his unwavering belief in me that I have a heart full of passion and all the courage I need to change my world.

    Posted in MM, Poetry | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

    Sophie Mazzaro is My Hero

    Sophie's on the left

    Sophie was my exchange student from Germany in 2008-2009.

    Here’s how this went in August of 2010, when she was visiting again:

    Me: Now that you’re out of high school, what do you want to do?
    Sophie: I’m probably going to go to acting school in Germany.
    Me: You don’t sound very excited about that. What do you WANT to do?
    Sophie: I want to go to Lee Strassberg Acting Institute in LA, but I can’t get in.
    Me: Did you apply?
    Sophie: No.
    Me: Well, you’re right then…you can’t get in. (I’m sure more blabber came out of my mouth after this.)

    What happened after that? Sophie got up the next morning (do I remember this correctly?) and got EVERYTHING together to apply. I wrote her a reference letter, but she did EVERYTHING else! She worked on that application for weeks, she went through an interview, she called them relentlessly.

    And she got IN! They only take around 60 students a year, and she got IN!

    Sophie's website -

    She moved to LA from Germany by HERSELF, without an apartment, without a car, without knowing a single person. She’s been there ever since (a year and a half!) and she’s already been in 4 feature films. She’s also started an online business ( She’s a clothing designer and an artist in addition to being an actor. She’s learning to do her own stunts, and she’s writing her own projects.

    I told HER how important it was to go for her dreams, over and over, but guess what!? She’s the one who taught me right back! She set a great example of working towards something, of risking everything, to get something you wanted so bad, it scared you to think you might fail.

    Sophie is Beyond Beautiful - she's my hero. 🙂

    She was an example I kept in my heart and head when I decided to start my journey in Jan, 2011. And it was a beautiful coincidence to listen to her interview today, a day when I decided I am going to jump off the next big life transition cliff tomorrow morning.

    Sophie will tell you that I inspired her to do something every day that scared you, but the truth is, that’s what SHE’S done for me.

    There’s so much more to our story. We’re scary alike in a million ways, and we’ve helped each through a lot of life events.

    I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings for both of us, but for today, I want her and everyone else to know:

    Sophie, you’re my hero, and not a day goes by that I’m not completely grateful for knowing you!

    Posted in Essay | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

    Naked Bamboo

    the bamboo poles
    stood mute and naked
    near the corner mirror

    deaf to the talk,
    cold against
    the warm hugs
    it witnessed,

    unable to understand
    our journey,
    the laughter,
    the learning
    filling the room,

    standing there stiffly
    unable to speak of
    its own journey
    from China
    to India
    to here

    its green leaves
    ripped away
    and its stories
    in its travels

    now left naked
    and mute
    reflecting back to us
    a journey
    we’re unable
    to understand.

    ~ cj 2012.09.26

    We were given five minutes to write and four words we had to include – naked, bamboo, mirror, and India. This is what I came up with. I had a BLAST doing this! 🙂

    Here’s a picture of the bamboo in the corner.

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment


    I can see you’re typing
    but then the … disappear.

    I assign meaning
    to your hesitation
    …it must be
    quite important
    …and I wait to hear.

    I imagine you’re
    …then typing again.

    I love what you
    have to say
    when it takes
    the longest
    for the …
    to resolve
    …so take your time
    I’m here…

    ~ cj 2012.09.19

    Posted in 21 And Done, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

    How to Change the World

    How to change the world, one heart at a time….

    Take a risk, open up, reach out. You can pull back, you can recover if you get hurt. But why start out with a mile high wall no one can scale? The reward of love, happiness, friendship and true connection with others is worth the risk of stepping forward. The beauty when it works washes away every tear you’ll ever shed.

    ~ cj 2012.09.18

    Posted in Essay | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

    The Difference of A Day

    I would have quickly sworn
    I loved nearly everything about us,
    with the exception
    of how you don’t feel
    the same for

    I’m swearing, as I slowly realize
    nothing else about us matters,
    with the exception
    of how you don’t feel
    the same for

    ~ cj 2012.09.13

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    Romance, Writing and Rock Star Dreams

    From the time I was a little girl, I wanted to be a writer, I wanted to be a rock star, and I wanted to be passionately loved. But as I got older, I saw my dreams dying on the vine, my heart shriveling from a lack of love, and my time getting shorter. I had settled, and it was killing me slowly in a way I didn’t want to go.

    So 21 months ago, I started a journey, seeking to reclaim my heart, and hoping to find a truly intimate trusting love. I also wanted to do something else with my life, although I didn’t know what that was when I started out. The way forward was anything but clear. I didn’t know what I was in for, I didn’t know if I’d find what I sought. But I couldn’t breathe the stale air another day, I couldn’t stand feeling hated for secrets I wasn’t responsible for creating, and I couldn’t be what I was “supposed to be” anymore. Perhaps it was naive, but I still had my romance and rock star dreams.

    I’ve changed in many ways since that day. I quickly move forward from situations and have chosen to leave people and relationships that aren’t a good fit for me. It isn’t that they’re wrong; it’s not that they’re bad. It’s that they’re not right for me.

    I used to apologize for who I was, be embarrassed that I was different, chastise myself and try to tolerate things that made me crazy inside. Now, I’ve grown quite a bit more patient and understanding with myself. I’ve decided to find the humor and humanity in who I am, who we all are. I’ve chosen to be comfortable in my own skin, and now when I’m involved with someone who chooses to criticize or judge, (including myself), I realize this is about their own fragile ego, struggling to hide a scared heart, and I don’t take it on.

    I’ve learned to sit still and cry. I’ve learned how to be alone, and what to do when I don’t want to be. I’ve allowed myself to laugh openly and loudly and fully, even when I’m alone, and even if no one else thinks it’s funny.

    I’ve found the poet, the pianist, the photographer…the creator…in me. They were jammed down inside under a well of pain, messily covered over with requirements to be “normal” that I could never come close to fulfilling.

    I’ve had some mantras in my head as I’ve begun each day. And I’ve made some promises to myself. Sometimes the promises are nearly impossible to keep, and sometimes the mantras are impossible to hear over the noisy pain in my life.

    Mostly I made two commitments. I made a commitment to continue to heal and honor myself and who I am, to seek relationships and friendships that made me smile, filled me with joy, challenged my intellect, and warmed my heart. I also promised myself that even when it broke my heart, I’d leave behind any relationships that didn’t. I’m not so good at that, but I am working on that, too.

    And I made a commitment to myself to be and remain open to taking new chances, to be willing to suffer more heart break. I’m willing to open my mouth and share my story, even when I’m not the hero, and even when it makes me ache from facing it all. I’ve written about this experience, sharing how I’m feeling, what I’m changing, and what I see…like I’m doing now. I wear my heart on my sleeve because I believe it helps others, and because I believe having it out has enriched my life more than hiding it ever could.

    Some have understood what I’m going through; others, not so much. I’ve even had a friend I thought would be life-long call me up to tell me she can’t be my friend anymore because I didn’t meet her expectations. But I’ve had other people come forward in ways I would have never imagined friends could, holding me up and helping me fly when I had no net beneath me.

    In turn, I’ve tried to help others along the way by telling them what I’ve gone through before them, and by being as open as I can about the difficulties I’m facing and have faced.

    Just as other projects go, this one hasn’t followed the path I expected, and it’s nowhere near complete in the amount of time I’d hope for. I was and still am surprised at how long it’s taken me to get past my past.

    I’ve been challenged by how hard it is sometimes to move forward as well. I’ve had to survive in an unbelievably stressful environment, as I struggled with the financial mess I found I’d been left in, trying to save a business by myself. Other things have set me back, like breaking my ankle, gaining back weight I’d thought I’d lost forever, losing my energy from a thyroid issue, and dealing with a sick doggie. I lost my Dad back in May, which still breaks my heart. And more than once, I’ve been concerned that I didn’t have the strength or the necessary compass to find my way through this.

    Often I can’t see what’s next, and most of the time when I believe I can, I find out it’s because I wasn’t seeing clearly. I’m learning to sit with uncertainty. I’m learning to function in chaos. When I find challenges I can’t overcome straight on, I’ve been working to find my way around them. Sometimes the way around them seems odd, but if it works, that’s what matters to me. Some friends have expressed fear that I’m in over my head, but soon they see I know how to swim. And if I begin to drown, I trust someone will save me.

    And even when it’s been so dark all I can do is trust the horizon exists, I’ve held onto a belief that if I choose to get through this, I will. If I choose to begin again, I can create the path I want to travel. If I choose to honor myself, and give my love and friendship as honestly as I can, I will have such rich experiences on my life path that it will be worth each and every tear I’ve shed.

    I am extremely aware that I am only a small part of the way through this life transition. I have been learning who I am. I have been thinking through my options and gathering my resources. I have been building up my strength, and I am choosing to trust that the challenges I’ve faced already have prepared me for what might be ahead. With all that in my head and heart, I believe I’m ready to take the next big steps in my life. To be honest, they are steps I find even scarier than the ones I’ve already taken. I have no idea where they will lead, and I get that I may have to swallow bitter pills of regret from making irreversible mistakes. But I chose and am still choosing to do this, and I won’t leave the path I’m on.

    I understand that rock star dream now. I want to lead and teach and inspire and touch others; I want to matter past the moment of connection. I know I haven’t found all the steps to living that dream fully yet, but I’ve got a good clue where to start now.

    I haven’t found the intimate true love I know is out there either. But I’ve learned a good deal about what I’m looking for, and I know what I have to offer. And between now and when love blossoms, I trust that I will continue to learn and be enriched by my connections, friendships and relationships with others.

    So for now, from my little corner of the world, I can proudly say this: 21 months ago, I made a choice to live fully instead of dying slowly. I made an active, challenging choice to go after my ALL of my dreams. I gathered my strength, I honored my gut, and I followed my heart. It’s time to take some more steps and I will do so believing I’m still headed in the right direction. I remain committed to an open heart as I travel, however clumsy and rocky the journey, and I look forward to looking back at this time, grateful for my own courage, the amazing experiences I’ve had, and all the beautiful friends who have encouraged me along the way.

    ~ cj 2012.09.13

    Posted in Essay, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

    So I Did

    I dared to dream that
    if I risked it,
    if I went for it,
    if I jumped,
    if I reached,
    if I grew,
    if I leaned,
    if I stood strong in the wind…

    I’d be found,
    I’d be wanted,
    I’d be seen,
    I’d be treasured,
    I’d be desired,
    I’d be heard,
    I’d belong,
    I’d be loved. 

    So I did. And I am. 

    ~ cj 2012.08.17

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

    Brave Heart

    it’s easy to tough talk
    and behave as though 
    there’s armor on your chest
    and a wall between you
    and all that wants to
    bring you to your knees
    at the point of a sword.

    it takes no strength to 
    speak from highest ground
    when your feet are planted
    firmly under your standing
    and your arms are crossed
    with righteous I know how it’s done.

    and yet it is another thing
    is it not
    to find your heart
    on shaky ground
    with your knees quaking 
    as they struggle to stand 
    with the earth beneath you
    slipping away.

    you find yourself 
    falling, spinning, 
    nowhere near to having
    the balance you’d talked about
    so haughty from your loft. 

    it takes a hidden strength
    from within
    that you don’t know exists
    until the very moment 
    you gather it together inside you
    and stretch those fragile new found 
    wings in both directions.

    you spread them wide
    fluttering and beating, 
    not sure if you’ll survive and soar
    or crash loudly in the canyon. 

    when you can 
    cover the earth with
    your shadow,
    swallowing your fear as you fly, 
    that’s when you discover
    a strengthened heart
    beating inside you,
    swelling to the size 
    of the challenge. 

    only then can you truly 
    claim to own
    the necessary bravery
    that gives you rights to speak, 
    boasting well-earned armor 
    on your chest
    and a solid wall between you
    and all that can no longer
    bring you to your knees
    at the point of any sword
    even when you feel the earth
    slip away
    beneath you.

    ~ cj 2012.08.15

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | 2 Comments


    Her skin, 
    so much softer 
    and thinner 
    than she would have 
    preferred to discover 
    protecting her heart, 
    tore just a little, 
    bled just a little, 
    when the sharp edged blade 
    of his impatience 
    cut into her.

    Its salty stinging
    sliced without warning,
    at precisely 
    the moment 
    she’d exposed 
    the most vulnerable part of it,
    white with innocence and 
    tenderly open,
    hoping in vain for 
    a sweet caress. 

    ~ cj 2011.08.15

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    I Forgive You

    No matter what you’ve done to me in my past or try do in the future, regardless of how much you’ve set me back in my life with your choices, in the face of how rude you are to me when you don’t have a clue what it’s been and is still like for me, I will take the higher ground.

    I forgive what you’ve done, what you’re doing, and what you’ll likely do in my near future until I am able to complete my escape from you.

    I’m not doing this out of arrogance. I don’t have a need to prove I’m better than you. Instead, thinking about you with mercy and grace, struggling to remember the good things about you, and us, in the face of the bad, and working hard to forgive and understand you (and myself) allows the wounds to heal, and makes my past truly my past.

    When I let go of you and what you’ve done, when I forgive you (and myself) and fail to resent, I can smile without weight. And my heart can feel the beautiful tingling of pure joy that comes from the happiness I’ve found by facing, accepting and embracing the truth in spite of it all.

    Life is so very short, and there’s no rewind on what’s happened. The road I have ahead of me will be easier to travel if I do so with a spirit of forgiveness, instead of resentment.

    ~ cj 2012.07.25

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    Go away.

    How did you get in the door?
    How dare you invade?
    Just who let you in?

    You come ripping through here
    squeezing a moan,
    then a fearful tear,
    finally a scream out of me
    when you appear,
    rude and insistent
    on entry.

    Stay out of my face.
    Get the hell out of my head.
    You have no business here
    that I wish to know about
    or be part of.

    Every kind of good and bad
    is in you
    all twisted up in colors
    sliding sideways
    down the edge
    of my reality
    first tapping on my brain
    soon pounding to get in
    wanting to mingle with
    my daytime thoughts.

    You’re uninvited
    yet you approach
    forcing your way
    without mercy
    barging in like you
    own the place
    trying to take over
    without a single
    word of welcome
    whispered or otherwise.

    Don’t you think
    I saw you lurking
    outside in the shadows
    skulking around
    in the dark watching
    for the perfect moment
    to disturb?

    Why do you think
    night after night,
    feigning nonchalance,
    I keep my eyes wide open
    watching carefully
    from their corners,
    doing anything but
    succumbing to sleep?

    ~ cj 2012.07.23

    I woke up with this entire poem in my head this morning. I tried to push it away, but like the nightmare I’d just had, it insisted on getting out.

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    I just took my Dad’s blu-ray player out of the bins I’d brought back after he died. I put the first Batman in it; I haven’t seen it yet, and a friend was kind enough to loan it to me.

    A few years ago, I’d helped my Dad pick this player out, and I hooked it up to his TV. I went through his VCR tapes with him and made a wish list of DVD movies for him. My brother bought some of them for him. I loved calling him and hearing the details of which ones he’d watched.

    I wish I could watch Batman right now. More than anything, though, I wish I could watch it right now with my Dad. It’s the kind of movie he would have loved. It’s the kind of movie I would have loved to watch with him.

    I wonder how long it will be before my eyes stop welling up with tears from any reminder of him.

    I’m looking forward to when I can get past that choking tightness in my throat from swallowing the pain of missing him so dearly, too.

    For now, I’ve no choice but to let the tears come, imagining his voice as if he and I were watching this movie. If I let it out now, maybe I can enjoy Batman later, with a little less pain.

    ~ cj 2012.07.20

    Posted in Essay | Tagged , | 3 Comments

    Fire’s Edge

    If I fall into you
    will you catch me
    and dance,
    holding me tight,
    at the edge of
    the fire?

    or will you
    step aside
    to hold on,
    watching me,
    letting me
    tumble as I
    burn up
    or fall down.

    Perhaps I will
    wait awhile
    dance ever so
    slightly apart,
    enjoy the heat,
    watch the flame
    resist the warm
    fire lighting up
    my heart.

    Yes, that’s what
    I believe I’ll do.

    Just until I’m sure,
    I tell myself,
    all full of
    making believe
    I have a choice,
    as the flames
    begin licking
    my feet.

    ~ cj 2012.07.19

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

    Your Gift

    you make me smile
    and giggle
    and chuckle
    and laugh
    and oftentimes
    nearly squeal
    with delight

    and sometimes
    you’ve made me
    snort and

    and for me
    for the girl I am
    there’s no greater
    gift at any price,
    no better treasure 
    you can ever give me,
    than to fill my heart
    and my head
    as you so often do 
    with the sound 
    of your laughter
    mixed in with mine. 

    ~ cj 2012.07.12

    To Case, Dollie, Moonbeam, Paula and Rome (in alphabetical order. 🙂 You each fill my heart.

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    Perfect Harmony

    You know when you’ve found a friend who fits so perfectly, you hardly notice you’re dancing through life with another?

    You glide together in perfect harmony, and the only thing that reminds you they’re someone separate from you is the sound of their gently beautiful laughter filling your heart.

    ~ cj 2012.07.10

    I am so lucky to have you in my life

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | 5 Comments

    Playing Me

    I made a movie 
    of your hands
    touching the keys,
    playing my piano.

    you were amused
    that I’d do this,
    and asked me why.

    I lied to you
    and fooled you 
    into believing I
    just wanted to learn
    how to play 
    what you were playing.

    The truth is
    I made a movie
    because I loved 
    how you touched
    those keys
    and me

    but I knew you
    were playing me
    for a fool
    while you were 
    playing my piano
    and touching me

    and I knew me
    even better

    I’m no fool
    and although I loved 
    being with you
    while you touched 
    those keys
    and me

    I knew well enough
    I wouldn’t let you
    keep touching
    and playing either of us
    for long.

    ~ cj 2012.06.30

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    Pulling Up The Covers

    when I first
    slept alone again
    after so many 
    years next to you,
    my broken heart 
    insisted I quickly 
    make the bed 
    the moment I 
    woke each morning,
    so I wouldn’t hurt
    each time through
    my bedroom 
    noticing how 
    perfectly your side
    had stayed 
    neatly made 
    during the empty night,
    while my side looked
    like a battle
    had been waged,
    fighting off morning
    all through the dark
    that went before it. 

    it took a long time
    of making 
    my side of the bed
    before my reason for
    pulling up the sheets
    plumping the pillows 
    and sitting my 
    teddy bear just so
    shifted to a pleasure
    in the neatness of it all,
    wrapping up my rest
    in the beautiful
    rise of the sun,
    instead of the chore
    of pulling the covers
    over my broken hearted
    empty bed. 

    ~ cj 2012.06.28

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments


    whenever she’s awake,
    she’s watching…
    sometimes out there
    but usually me.

    if I move, she follows
    and brings her sister with.

    if I pay attention,
    she leans into me
    and loves back. 

    I wonder what she’s thinking; 
    she never says anything. 

    ~ cj 2012.06.27

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | 2 Comments

    5am Tension and Resolution

    5 in the morning, I can’t sleep because I’m worried about Sophie and all the other big life changes I’m facing. 

    I write some emails, I look on Facebook. Finally, unable to distract myself from it all, I escape to my piano. 

    I’ve had a series of chords stuck in my head for months. I’ve been playing them in different combinations, at different speeds with different fingering. I have no idea
    where they came from. I’m helpless to make them go away, and I’m not so sure I want them to. 

    Recently, strong melodies have been showing through, and last week, I began to hear words off in the distance wanting to be layered on top. 

    I played something new when I ran to those chords and my piano at 5am this morning. I didn’t record it like I usually do. It began flowing out of me and I knew if I ran for my phone to capture it, it would be lost. 

    I wanted the music. I wanted the beautiful sensation of tension and resolution in my ears, vibrating down into my heart, more than I wanted to capture the moment for enjoyment later. 

    So I stayed. And I played. Then I loved on my doggies. And I loved on my life a bit too. 

    None of this can really be captured as it truly vibrates in our hearts. 

    It’s all only here for a moment. I only have my life and my loves, my piano and my doggies, my friends and my fantasies, for a moment in the universe of time. 

    I’m glad for whatever tension woke me up, seeking resolution at 5 in the morning. 

    I found it, along with some love in the form of my music and my doggies and now it’s time to peacefully sleep again. 

    ~ cj 2012.06.27

    Posted in Essay, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments


    Walls don’t stop the pain…
    they just trap it inside
    so it festers and oozes out
    destroying what could have been
    fertile ground.

    ~ cj 2012.06.24

    Posted in Poetry, Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment


    Lingered (cj 2012.06.23)
    My fingers
    when we
    shook hands
    or was it yours
    that stayed behind
    whispering softly
    an extra moment
    as they gently
    pulled away
    saying goodbye
    and nice to meet
    each other.

    I liked that you
    asked about my life
    and talked to me
    like I was real
    like I mattered
    in your day.

    My smile has
    lingered too.
    Has yours?

    ~ cj 2012.06.23

    Posted in Poetry | Tagged | 3 Comments

    Holding Out For Dawn

    When a night bears down heavy on me
    With the tragedies and mis-steps of the day
    I exhale a sigh and close my eyes
    Holding on tight til tomorrow.

    Long before the sun comes up
    The first light seeps into my room
    Whispering good morning
    And gently coaxing my eyelids open
    To show me what it has to offer.

    The color fills my senses with pleasure
    And washes away the dark from the night
    The sun pushes up from the horizon
    Dawning new hope for my day.

    ~ cj 2012.06.22

    Posted in Poetry, Writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

    I’m Not Going Anywhere

    “I’m not going anywhere”
    you’d said,
    while you
    extracted yourself
    from the wreckage,
    wanting space
    between you and the
    painful rift
    you’d ruthlessly,
    between us.

    “I’m not going anywhere”,
    you’d said,
    but then, unable
    to resist,
    you tacked
    nasty remarks
    on at the end,
    stinging my
    eyes with their
    salty falseness.

    “I’m not going anywhere”,
    you’d said,
    pointing fingers
    that should have
    been aimed at you,
    before disappearing
    behind your
    double wall
    of standards.

    “I’m not going anywhere”,
    you’d said.
    Was this to
    reassure me,
    in the wake
    of your leaving,
    that you’d be back?

    I will admit
    I pondered this
    from my new space
    for days after I’d last
    heard you weren’t
    going anywhere.

    “You may not be
    going anywhere”,
    I’m saying now,
    “But didn’t you see?
    I was already gone.”

    I’d left
    long before,
    hurrying to safety
    when I first
    realized I didn’t
    want you here,
    with me anymore,
    because we were
    going nowhere.”

    ~ cj 2012.06.20

    Posted in Poetry, Writing | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

    It Left Me Room

    At first
    a hole opened up
    in my evenings
    at the time
    you used to call,
    stretching out
    wide open empty,
    keeping me awake.

    It left room
    and time
    to reflect
    alone in the dark,
    to sink into the truth
    of how cruel you’d gotten
    even though
    you’d caused the rift
    that gaped the hole
    wide open.

    At first
    my phone was
    so loudly silent
    no new pictures
    of where you were
    no wishes of
    good morning
    no last good night.

    It left room
    and time
    to re-read those
    last messages
    projecting your
    issues on me,
    rooted firmly
    in double standards
    that left me
    spinning dizzy
    with confusion.

    It left room
    for a few days to go by,
    until this morning
    when my nightmares
    got mixed with awake,
    and I dreamed
    you came back
    wanting me again.

    In that early dawn,
    struggling between
    here and unconscious,
    something sad
    and small
    and slightly sick in me
    took you back.

    At first
    when I awoke
    from that,
    I found myself
    clawing out of
    a horror hole,
    my heart
    with the fear
    this could be true.

    But as the sun rose
    it opened my eyes,
    the shining light
    erasing what
    was never real anyway
    in my nightmare
    or in my life,
    filling the hole
    with peaceful silence
    and leaving me
    the time and the room
    in my heart
    for whatever beauty
    is waiting
    to fill my life.

    ~ cj 2012.06.20

    Posted in Poetry, Writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment