Women and dishes…a love affair

A new shop appeared on Monkey Forest Road about six months ago. In and of itself, that’s not newsworthy. Sidewalk shops and cafe’s in Ubud come and go all the time. But this one was different.

I was going along at a good clip, as good a clip as I can while being on high alert to every hillock and open chasm in the sidewalk. As I passed what had been a construction site for weeks, I did a double-take. There, sitting outside the spiffy new shop, was a white bench with a pillow on it. The pillow cover looked like it had been crocheted out of large ropes of multi-colored fabric. It was so un-Bali!

Since I was going nowhere in particular, and on no set schedule, I checked the name of the shop, BaliZen, and wandered in. It took me two and one-half seconds to know for certain that this shop was owned by an American…an American with exquisite taste. I sniffed and sucked in the delicious odor of quality.

My eyes scanned the contents. There were hand made bedcoverings, fanciful lanterns in patterned fabrics hanging from the ceiling, a daybed in seafoam green with white accents, home goods of every delicious shape and description, and…dishes.

Before I moved to Bali I sold or gave away all of my beloved  dishes.  My mother had multiple sets of china, she still does. One mother-in-law had an absolute addiction and stored boxes upon boxes of expensive table settings under her bed. But since coming here I had been operating with the leftovers from the previous occupant.

I circled the store many times that first day, imprinting the different patterns of the plates and bowls on my memory. There was a chinoiserie motif in granny-apple green. The bold red paisley dishware had darling scalloped bowls. My eyes feasted while my heart lusted, but I walked out empty handed.

In the months that followed, every time I was a little at loose ends, I’d stroll to BaliZen and spend 30 – 40 minutes surrounded by casual elegance. I don’t know when I knew, but at some point it settled into my bones that I wanted dishes, and if I was patient, the perfect pattern and color would appear here, at BaliZen.

Yesterday I told a friend about my favorite shop. “Let’s go!” she said, so we did. And there, displayed to perfection, accessorized with impeccable care, were my dishes. They were bold but tasteful and the right shade of Bali bed blue. It was love, quick and sure, as I gathered them up and presented them to the darlings behind the counter who have greeted me kindly every time I enter and leave the shop without spending a dime. We all knew my time would come.


It feels strange to be in love with blue. It started with the bed. When that electrifying color moved into my space I knew I’d either love it or re-paint it. Whether it has to do in part with the fact that it’s Ketut’s father’s handiwork, or whether my taste buds are changing, I don’t know for sure. But I have grown irrationally fond of Bali blue. Now the plates reinforce that color.


One post of the Bali blue bed as I shoot past it to the new dishes

The only thing that causes mild panic to flutter around my heart is the fact that I’m accumulating belongings. I’ve sworn off ‘things’ and have chosen to live a simple, uncluttered life. Oh, and by the way…did I mention my fabulous new chairs???


Have I Married You Yet?

I’ve learned not to take offense when people call attention to the number of marriages I’ve entered and left. I can’t fault them for being a little shocked and more than a little curious. After all, I seem so normal. And although my Capricorn sun cringes at every indication of my tarnished past, my Leo moon can more than handle the spotlight.

So the other night at a very merry un-birthday dinner with friends (remember Alice in Wonderland) the talk turned to writing as it is wont to do in these circles. My memoir was up for discussion. One of the gents and I made an identical comment in unison and he turned to me and said, “Are we married?”

“Not yet,” was my instant comeback.  Being the sharp tack that he is, he got excited.

“That should be the title of your book, Have I Married You Yet?”

After the laughter died down, I have to admit that I gave it some thought. But to me it sounds like the name of a lighthearted, comedic story. Mine is far from that. Out of curiosity I checked Amazon for the titles of best-selling memoirs. Here are a few of them:

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


The Motorcycle Diaries

The Color of Water

Running With Scissors

Coming of Age in Mississippi

Not a shred of humor.

I’m torn. What do you think? I’d like to hear opinions other than my own. Anyone who cares to weigh in with a comment or suggestion, please do. Does Have I Married You Yet? sound like a full-on comedy or could it work for a story that has humor only in moderate doses?




Every page was once a blank page


thW05OAYQLEvery page was once a blank page, just as every word that appears on it now was not always there, but instead reflects the final result of countless large and small deliberations. All the elements of good writing depend on the writer’s skill in choosing one word instead of another. And what grabs and keeps our interest has everything to do with those choices (Quote from: How to Read Like a Writer)

I’m writing an autobiography. You may consider that the ultimate in narcissistic self indulgence but let me assure you, it’s not. It’s a white-knuckle, teeth gritting, experience. And I find that in the process of constructing a narrative around the events of my life from this distance and perspective, I’m reshaping the stories I’ve been telling myself for decades.

It’s an unsettling phenomenon. Writing my life has forced me to choose words to describe characters, situations, and the emotions around them. In order to select those words, I am forced to return to that time and re-live the feelings. But I’m in a much different place now than I was then, so the information I bring to the process casts it in new light.

It’s the ultimate therapy. First I question, Did it really happen that way? and I have to honor what comes up. But when I begin searching for words things get sticky. I go deeper into the emotional memory to find clues for the framing of it. Then without warning, it takes on a different energy. Even though I’m the author…even though it’s my story…the words I choose have such power of suggestion that my understanding of the event expands and I see it with different eyes.

The transformational nature of writing continues to delight me. Turning feelings and thoughts into words changes those feelings and thoughts. Some of the impetus is transferred to the page. It can be a shocking surprise to read what comes out of my pen, or the keys of my computer. When that happens, a delicious thrill shivers through me. It’s as though a hidden part has been revealed, a secret I wouldn’t otherwise share.

I have filled this blank page with countless large and small deliberations. Words. They’re what I love about writing!

Writing for Self-Discovery — Destination:DreamCatcher! Retreat March 15-21, 2015 in Bali

A Downward Dog View of Yoga

The ex-pats in Ubud have an uneasy relationship with the yoga crowd that floods the streets with nubile bodies in leggings and sports bras. There are good reasons for this. I’m guessing that the median age of the ex-pat population here approaches 70 so maybe there’s just a speck…a smattering…of jealousy? But to give them credit, these people did not grow up in the era of self-discovery with the influx of mystical influences from the East. Even some of the younger ones roll their eyes and avoid organic and raw food restaurants known to cater to the heightened awareness  crowd.

So this morning when I opened an e-mail from my sister in Northern Minnesota, and read a poem she wrote recently, I knew I had to post it for two reasons: first, she’s a great poet and has published her work in a book, Musings of a Damsel, Reflections of a Crone (click the link to see more), and second, because it’s so true and I knew if I could relate then many others would too.

My Inner Eye
by Gwen Lee Hall (pen name: Wendolyn Lee)

My friend is into yoga; she practices faithfully.
She tells me it’s done her a world of good, and it would be good for me.

I resist, but she has an answer for every excuse I know.
Yoga can take me places I never dreamed I’d go.

It will open my breath, open my mind, teach my soul to fly.
I’ll see things I’ve never seen before when I open my inner eye.

And so I cave. I buy the mat. I learn a pose or two,
And sure enough, the part about my inner eye is true!

Downward Dog on the livingroom floor, I see popcorn under the chair,
Dust bunnies under the sofa, wads of puppy hair…

So today I’m getting my exercise with a dustpan and a broom,
Seeing things I’ve never seen, right here in my livingroom.

Thank you my friend; I now include yoga in my routine.
My inner eye gets a workout, and my livingroom is clean.

Drinking from Blackwater Pond



Mornings at Blackwater
by Mary Oliver

For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
the feet of ducks.
And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.

What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.

And live
your life.

I may have said this before, Mary Oliver is my hero. She surprises me. She uses common words in uncommon ways so I have to pay attention. I can’t get lazy and just assume I know where she’s going.

This poem is particularly significant as I prepare for the Destination:DreamCatcher! Retreat in Bali. Ms. Oliver speaks of ‘the dry bowl of the very far past,’ and ‘the river of your imagination…the harbor of your longing.’ Then she urges that you ‘put your lips to the world and live your life.’

What I love about this is that you realize from her beginning stanza that the world is Blackwater Pond. It isn’t clean or clear. Rather, the trees weep their leaves into it’s depths. Wild creatures swim and feed in it’s murkiness. It’s gritty and real, and this is what she suggests that you put to your lips and drink. 

When you do that, as she did every day, you connect with the present and move beyond the distresses of the past. You begin to see things differently, to imagine, and to dream, until finally you are capable of making different choices. You begin to live your life.

Give yourself permission to let go of whatever is holding you back. Don’t allow the past, or your perception of the present, or your mistrust of the future, to confine you.  Your life can be so much bigger than that.



What if….?

Sometimes I wonder…

What if I’d taken that job with Pan Am Airlines and had become a flight attendant at age 19? How might my life have been different?

That’s a wasted What if. It’s in the past and there’s nothing I can do to change the outcome of that decision. But there is tremendous power in a What if that imagines something different in future time. A What if is the first step toward change. Often it’s fleeting, a mere shadow puppet that dances indistinctly through the mind. But it leaves traces of itself that bring about random ideas and a niggling discomfort that perhaps there’s something I could be doing differently? Perhaps there’s something waiting for me that will manifest when I realize what it is.

What if I could do something I loved instead of this job that’s killing my soul?

What if I could be mentally, physically, emotionally healthy?

What if I could get out of debt?

What if…?

The reason why those thoughts rarely change anything is because they’re overridden by old programming that sounds very much like, it won’t work, I’m too old, too young, too tired, it’s no use, I’ve tried before, I’m too broke, it’s too late, it’s a silly thought, I’m better off than most, why can’t I just be satisfied?

That programming is solid, unyielding, and unconscious for most of us. It grew out of our first impressions of the world before we were old enough to filter information. It’s buried deep in our subconscious and it informs every single decision we make. It’s the reason we have thought patterns, and patterns of behavior that repeat, sometimes beneficial ones, too often destructive ones. It determines the kind of people we attract to us. In a nutshell that programming runs the show.

To ask the What if questions and to allow them to become dreams before the programming shuts them down, requires help. Take a look at my life and tell me about patterns!

Married and divorced five times

Pulled up stakes and moved every two years or less

Rarely stayed in a job for more than a year

Lived from paycheck to paycheck

Accumulated credit card debt

Wore a happy face that masked the emptiness inside

Then three of my closest friends died within a year, all younger than me. It shook me to the core of my being. I asked myself, If you were told that you would die tomorrow, would you have regrets? In a terrifying flash I knew that not only would I have regrets, I would feel as though I hadn’t yet lived. That my years had been spent living someone else’s life.

That was then.

The journey from there to here was taken in incremental, logical, strategic, and sometimes serendipitous steps. As discovery writing exposed old programming and uncovered my truth I knew what to do and when to do it. I entered a kind of effortless flow that exhilarated and amazed me.

And it brought me to a dream that is bigger than anything I could have imagined back when I started to rethink my life. My definition of happy now looks nothing like what I accepted as happy before. I have connected with my path, a calling, a life purpose and the joy in that is indescribable. Utterly indescribable.

My dream is only mine. It isn’t everyone’s idea of bliss to move to the other side of the world and live on a tropical island. (How cliché is that?!) But it is everyone’s dream to be happy, to live a fulfilled life in tune with your reason for being.

Yesterday my daughter e-mailed my Tantric Numerology Reading for 2015. It spoke to thoughts that have been weighing in on my consciousness for the past few months. And it affirmed my desire to pass the information I’ve learned on to others:

You cannot accept and use your gift unless you feel that you deserve it. Remember, this gift is already yours. Relax, use it and enjoy it. Your gift is the ability to teach. You will find it easy and pleasurable to teach others through your actions and words. ( http://www.3ho.org/tantric-numerology-reading)

As I read this the truth of it settled into my bones. “Yes,” I said. “Of course.” And the inevitable tears trickled down my cheeks.

Come to Bali in March, 2015, for my Destination:DreamCatcher! Retreat and let me help you identify old programming that isn’t serving you, move it out, and make room for something new. Assisting you as you chase down those What if’s and turn them into reality is in line with my life’s purpose. I didn’t go through all that effort just for myself. I want and need to share what I know with others.

Put it on your calendar…Bali – March 15 – 22, 2015…What if…?!

For more information click here: Destination:DreamCatcher! Retreats

Orchids Narasoma


My Top Ten Resolutions for 2015

* 1) Don’t forget how to be still and stare off into space P1070437 2) Trust your gut and follow its guidance photo 3) Remember every day to be grateful for exactly where you are P1080226 4) Allow the abundance to flow through you to others P1080117 P1070406 5) Accept help gracefullyPriest applying the ash to my forehead 6) Ask for help when you need it P1080495 7) Hog your peace: don’t over-extend and don’t over-commit P1070797 8) When you’re uncertain, wait. Don’t be pushed into a decision before you’re ready IMG_7947 9) Continue to be a student of life…and love P1040793 P108040310635758_10152536452433037_2535777418164997883_nunnamed 10) Live your truth!



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