Days of Inspiration
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Days of Inspiration

Yesterday started out as a really hard day for me. When I woke up, the things that are wrong with my life weighed heavily on my heart, mesmerizing me to the point of destabilizing me.

I’ve endured these debilitating days periodically throughout my life. My usual strength seems like a sham, my resilience is a distant, invisible shore, and my many blessings have no more substance than twisting shadows. Even when I try to enumerate the specific graces of my life–because gratitude is one of my go-to tactics for self repair–they vanish before I can grip and savor them.

Then I saw some excellent tweets. Yes, of all things, the mercurial Deva of Twitter stepped in to succor me.  A blogger had mentioned my name in her “Top ten authors of 2014” list.  A Spanish man had glowingly tweeted his enjoyment of my novel “En Inmortal.”

I called my friend Jan and she patiently and lovingly talked me through my conundrums. She herself has experienced similar challenges, so she had insight to offer. She’s one of those brilliant souls with deep wisdom gleaned from living with presence and authenticity. She also has, oh, a million talents. I pay attention when she talks. Jan understands about pain and love and life and longing.

Gently, at one point in our conversation, Jan said, “You see things so clearly, Traci. That’s your sin.” Then she explained her meaning, and I gained new clarity.

My lovely friend Lori emailed me “So much love” and invited me to email back. I poured my heart out to her, and she emailed back with such fierceness on my behalf. Her empathy is amazing. It moved me and humbled me. And I got another dose of it today on Skype, and today we could laugh together, too. Just seeing her bright face lightened everything.

Beautiful Michelle Skyped in today, uplifting my day with her piquant presence and all the glamorous goings on of her life. She’s a canny, perceptive soul and she listened closely when I explained what bothered me. She had practical advice that was specially tailored for Traci, and no, it wasn’t drinking red wine, though we giggled most rambunctiously about that.

Aren’t giggles just the best medicine?

So from an inauspicious morning flowed two days of kindness from people I love who love me. That’s been the biggest learning of these middle years: to fill my life with people who love me and support me, people I can trust. I wish I’d known long ago to do so. Maybe I felt I didn’t deserve them.

There was affirmation, too, in the form of the “Best of authors” Blog list and the Spanish gentleman’s tweet–and that always helps.

For anyone who reads this post, I wish that you may experience the same kindness and love and affirmation, when your heart trembles.

For a pix to accompany this blog: FiberOptic Fairy II, our tree topper.  Because she’s whimsical and unintentionally funny, and earnest and sweet, and full of holiday spirit. And I’m grateful to her, the way I’m grateful to my friends, that she holds her place so gracefully.

Days of Inspiration



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The resonance around a friend’s passing.

Today was my little one’s birthday, and she was home sick with a bad cold.

“I really hate being sick, mom! I don’t want to be sick!” she cried, in her sweet, fierce way.

I tried to console her. I offered to play cards with her or even to snuggle, but she was restless and achey. She wanted to lie quietly and read Harry Potter. I was happy she knew what would make her feel best, and I love seeing her growing independence.

It’s a bittersweet pleasure. Her independence, as does her birthday, means that she’s growing up. She’s no longer my frisky little cub, merging blissfully into my arms. There’s a young woman taking coltish shape. The young woman is creative, smart, engaging, and empathic while also being opinionated; I like her and I enjoy her. I am most eager to see this individual emerge.

But I will miss the little golden cub with her playful leaps and pounces.

This is already a week of missing people. Just a few days ago, a woman died whom I liked and respected. She was a beloved neuropsychologist who had worked extensively with our family, and I had great appreciation for her unique quality of being exceptionally soft and kind while also being imbued with immense intelligence. She was one of my favorite people to deal with. My husband Sabin and my daughter adored her. She managed a difficult meeting at my daughter’s school with rare grace, compassion, and authority.

She was too young to go. And I owed her a phone call to thank her for something. I had in mind I’d call her once the new year got underway.

The day after learning of her death, I attended a memorial service for a friend who had died at Christmas time. Sabin and I sat with our hands entwined, listening to my friend’s husband and children speak lovingly of her, of who she was in all her rich and imperfect and precious human fullness.

I thought how lucky my friend was to have a husband and children who accepted and respected her for exactly who she was; there’s a kind of wholeness in that, and the wholeness remains in the face of loss. I did not manage to find that kind of loving acceptance for myself in the first half of my life. I’m grateful to have been given a second chance.


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The Passing of Friends

The Passing of Friends

Yesterday I received news that the best friend of my former mother-in-law died in a car crash. She was driving with her son and daughter-in-law and with her significant other, a good man with whom she had recently bought an apartment. Only the daughter-in-law survived the head-on collision.

This woman was bright, interesting, and always kind to me. She went out of her way to make a connection with me, and she was warm enough that it felt like she did so not just for my former mother-in-law’s sake, but for mine as well. I remember her with fondness. I still own a small red purse with which she gifted me on my birthday, some thirteen or fourteen years ago. The red purse is a long, flat rectangle like a wallet, and I dug it out when I bought my iPhone. It made a perfect iPhone carrier. Whenever I picked up the purse, I remembered this generous woman and smiled. It was an unexpected gift, all those years ago, and has brought me much joy. It feels good to be remembered, and I have always felt that generosity is close to Godliness. Indeed, generosity is a trait that this woman had in common with my former mother-in-law; it must have been one of the bonds between them, and it’s a quality I admire in both women.

So this posting is in your memory, RR: may you and your son and your mate find peace and joy on the other side. May your families and loved ones who remain here remember you with love and the sweetness of having richly enjoyed your presence in their lives. And may they find comfort in knowing that you are always in their hearts, never forgotten, with a spirit that continues on forever.

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Dying & Transference

Dying & Transference

A man I both like and respect told me recently that his relative passed away. Someone he cared about, someone beloved in his extended family. The kind of infectiously good-humored guy that everyone would miss at the next wedding. The kind of guy who was funny and perceptive, and made it a point to connect with people where they live.

My friend was sad, filled with dark energy that probably contained some elements of anger: loss makes us angry as well as bereft. I knew before I interacted with him that he had something going on. In the way that healers do consciously, and a lot of people do without full awareness, I had reached out with my consciousness and scanned him. I had sensed something dark and roiling in him; to my long-distance senses, it looked and felt like heavy dark clouds in the blob of his being, which is usually large, harmonious, and light-filled. But I read the dismal energy as relating to me, and wondered, What have I done to piss him off?

I perceived accurately, but then misinterpreted what was going on. It was another lesson to me, in the ongoing curriculum of this life, about the filter through which I view the world, and the pitfalls of psychic senses. Even if a psychic perceives a phenomenon correctly, the information can get distorted within a psychological context!

And then I wanted to comfort my friend, who is a good guy himself, immensely supportive. But what could I really say? When someone beloved dies, nothing except time can comfort a grieving person. I try never to minimize that, or to respond with nonsense and platitudes. It’s never ‘good enough’ that someone had seventy-six years of life, if we love that person. Plenty of people live to be a hundred, why shouldn’t sweet, generous Aunt Bess? So I told my friend that I was sorry.

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Smelling Different from the Tribe

Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend about outcasts. This question of those people who are not automatically accepted into the group has always fascinated me, probably because I have continually experienced myself as unlike the other members of every collective in which I have ever found myself. As a Navy brat, I was ambitious and intent on climbing up the world of books and ideas; at Yale, I was the oddball from the lower middle class, the first person of my family ever to go to college, who had never heard of a Trust Fund, and who had trouble understanding the concept of people receiving money for just being born; in my first marriage, I was the schicksa who converted, who was never quite fluent in the unspoken dialect and assumptions of born Jewry. Failure to fit in comfortably gave me the belief that The Lord of the Flies is an apt sociological description. That is, flocks of people thrust pointy weapons at outsiders.

But my friend astrologer Lynn Bell had insights into this archetype that I’d never considered. Lynn’s mind is rich, fertile, and playful–which is one reason I love speaking with her. She always has a mythic twist I hadn’t considered. It’s important to surround ourselves with those people who intrigue us into questioning our axioms, don’t you think? And Lynn’s point was that once the outsider, the outcast, brings something new and valuable to the tribe–he or she then becomes Prometheus. The light bringer. I guess that’s when you get to keep your scent and like it, too.