I got my hope back.

I heard it last night, the call to collaborate. It was the creative spark ignited on a grander scale. We have been living a mired existence of late. So much static, agendas and misunderstanding, and obtuse misuse of power - these are things that have been alive in our Universe, it has made me worry. I don't know the people who fight, who scream profanity. I didn't elect the people who wouldn't listen to all sides of such deeply complex issues, when so much is at stake. We seem to be at a nearly Biblical crossroads, where forces of good and progress meet competition and selfishness. I may be the only one who awoke this morning having heard, but I was energized by the message: clarity, someone taking hold, saying we must "DROP OUR WEAPONS". If we, our generation (because, folks, it is our turn) can learn from this, if we can disarm each other, we may do something heroic. I think we can be heroes.

Here are some of the indicators that have crossed my windshield today. For these too, I am optimistic:

3 Beautiful Things, written by a blogger in England, this short, 3-bulleted list is posted every single day. 3 things that open her eyes, 3 trivial things that together made a day to remember. I have followed 3 Beautiful Things for over a year and marvel at the writer's focus. It is more zen than meditation.

Pret a Voyager, a travel blog that picks you up and takes you there. Like Gourmet did. Not wistful, just hopeful. Every destination is just a decision away.

The Home section of the New York Times published a telling 3-page spread today, Best Sellers and Bombs. It is a beautiful, creative collage about what people like (and didn't like), what appeals to us, what we have actually bought through the final cycle of this windstorm recession. I love beautiful things. I collect ephemera and treasures, things that remind me of lighter times. This spread, which used to be published every year, hasn't been written since September 2007. It feels like we're raising our shades a little and letting some light shine in.

Buddhi Mat Yoga opened in our town. It is new and clean, and buzzing rather than funereal. It opened in what was only months ago a bank branch. It seems every new business that opened in the recent past were a tendril of yet another bank. Now it's yoga. Specialty food stores. Places of character and warmth.

Miss Whistle is a blog about life and culture and movies and poetry. This week she quotes Aldous Huxley, who said "it's a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one's life and to find at the end one has no more to offer by way of advice than: 'Try to be a bit kinder'". If we can all just embrace kindness. Sibling to sibling, Democrat to Republican, Boss to Employee just let go. If we can channel compassion, we will commit GREATNESS.

Photo art from 20x200 a Project by Jen Bekman offers limited edition prints, photographs, posters to people like me, seeking images to inspire. The small ones may cost $50. The larger ones, $500. First come, first served. This poster hangs in my kitchen and has been a catalyst for conversation between John and me, also between our children. We range from bad days when we "don't even get it" to better days when it elicits the inspiration for making pancakes. That's creativity. You first have to get excited, then you make things.



"Arrange whatever pieces come your way." - Virginia Woolf

The new year has happened, and I'm afraid it's receding fast in January's wake. New Years was when things were going to be put back in balance and I'd finish what I'd started, in a state of mind to set priorities and move forward with what is right for now. Leave the rest in good spirit.

My book, "The New Now", was supposed to have been started. The Artist's Way sits next to my bed. I initiated the Morning Pages back in the Fall, having identified the Artist's Way as my guide for this project. Yet somehow, everyhow, I've gone too many directions, and -- well, the Artist's Way sits there by my bed.

Inspiration is elusive, so say those who live their life in search for it. "The New Now" is meant to be written, for you, for me, to fill the widening void of support for how to get through a day once life has shown us it isn't what we thought it was.

I want to write like Virginia Woolf. Michael Cunningham wanted to write like Virginia Woolf too, he's the one who came up with The Hours which, in my mind, is so worthy of her they might have been in the same room when he wrote it.

I have emulated Virginia Woolf. I've followed her every breath, from Bloomsbury to Firle. I have camped out in the gardens of Charleston House and sketched the gatherings, so alive it's as if I sat amongst them. I've read Woolf's biography, I've speculated about her life, analyzed the essays and watched her story dissected on stage.

And now, I have a confession. Despite my dedication, or maybe because of it - I never, not ever got Virginia Woolf. Her words, they're so beautiful and perfectly pitched, but what they mean seem just out of my reach. Like a hanger-on at the cocktail party, nodding and laughing, I've been faking it. As if the language being spoken was one I boasted of, but in fact, only had through high school (a long time ago...)

This confession comes by way of closure, many thanks to Michael Cunningham's essay in Mentors, Muses & Monsters. Cunningham, who sits at Virginia Woolf's right hand, says:

"I was ready... or maybe I should say I was ready to be
ready - for Woolf's sentences. I had not only never seen language like that;
nothing I'd read had prepared me for the fact that a human being could do what
she had done, line by line, using the same ink and paper available to anybody. I
had neither read nor conceived of sentences that complex and muscular and
precise and beautiful. It may, perversely, have helped that I didn't quite
understand what the sentences actually meant. It may have helped free me to
better appreciate their tones and variations, the sheer virtuosity of their
structures and sounds. I remember thinking, Hey, she was doing with language
something like what Jimi Hendrix does with a guitar. Riffing, that
is, as only a genius can; finding over and over again an exquisite balance
between recklessness and control, between chaos and pattern."

So now I see. Virginia Woolf wrote not to be gotten. She is the true conduit, she provides life and truth, fulfillment and disappointment, bypainting them into a picture we cock our heads one way then the other to view. Long ago, she gave us the OK to leave the picture with our own interpretation, to apply it as our kind of beautiful to whatever we choose.

This is what I am trying to do in "The New Now". Provide the words for you to take and interpret. Onward, inspiration.



Front page and center, where for over a year our journals have told the plaintive story of plants shutting down and long and winding dole lines, the New York Times features this: "Fresh Arrival in Cul-de-Sac is Optimism". It's true, the thaw is finally reaching those who sat around the table with tears and fears, and the houses that were dark for foreclosure are lighting up again, albeit (I assume) with new families taking the place of those who were forced to move along.

These have been rigid and icy months, and we too feel the thaw. John has made it back into the workforce, in a new capacity, but utilizing the skills and experience he held fast to during the months when the phone didn't ring. He didn't have to take a hard left to avoid disaster, he stayed his course. I worried, wished for someone in the know to tell him what he had to do and how he had to do it; but his determination won the day. Karma, confidence, whatever. Incredibly, even on our particular cul-de-sac, spring has come.

Trickling back to work, fathers hand their stand-in duties back to Mom, or to the neighbor, or in some cases, to the kids themselves. Dads have been everywhere. They've served behind the wheel of carpools and as Orthodontics Negotiator. The Great Recession may have been what was needed to begin a shift toward shared home duties.

At our house, pizza from scratch was in the oven 10 minutes before the bus arrived home. On American Idol night, family-minus-me sat four abreast on the sofa, taking in what John billed as "an Evening of Performing Arts". New traditions. Already outlived.

And they miss their father. Recovery is now about re-redefining home life, responsibilities, the order of things. The next phase of the process is absorbing how we've grown.


He: "Now it’s scientifically proven: If Fathers educate children, they become more intelligent!"

She: "Who — Fathers or children?"



The wind whirled and threw snow up like the flour flung so liberally by my family's women in their Christmas bread making.
The winds blew hard this year, winds of time. And we buttoned our coats to it with some assurance that a) it's getting better and b) if it's not, we can survive it. Because we did, because this time last year we weren't so sure.

I've never before experienced this new year's synchronicity: Our resolutions match each others, almost word for word. We each vow to do what it takes to ensure better times. "Good riddance 2009". The headlines proclaim it, and when the ball dropped at 12:01, those were the words exchanged with handshake and cheek kiss. These exact words, almost to a person.

We share the deep relief that time has passed. Even in the age of the Search for Enduring Youth, we're a year older and happy for it. Good riddance 2009.

I hear the whispers of older generations. Saying that it was a lesson a time in the coming. Hardship is life, and we are strong for our hardships. We have lived blessedly, with little hardship on a global scale. We did not know the determination of generations before, who likely celebrated many such New Years, bidding adieu in the very real sense, to a period of time that required such dogged, gritty compromise. We hear these whispers and with some humility, step into the year that promises better things.

A dear friend and mainstay in the New Now sent me a road map for achieving our universal New Years Resoultion, a resolution for recovery. The best is when you come upon powerful words that share their heft with a little sense of humor. I couldn't renounce email chain letters more vehemently, yet I have to pass this one along, for I can think of no better way to say it.

Happy New Year, dear readers.


1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.. 4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
5. Make time to pray.
6. Play more games
7. Read more books than you did in 2009 .
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day
9. Sleep for 7 hours
10. Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

11. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12. Don't have negative thoughts on things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
13. Don't over do. Keep your limits.
14. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
15. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
16. Dream more while you are awake
17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need…
18. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner or friend of His/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.
20. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and laugh more.
24. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree...

25. Call your family often.
26. Each day give something good to others.
27. Forgive everyone for everything..
28. Spend time w/ people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
30. What other people think of you is none of your business.
31. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

32. Do the right thing!
33. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
34. God heals everything.
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change..
36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
37. The best is yet to come..
38. When you awake alive in the morning, thank God for it.
39. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

May the new year bring us the courage to ensure that the wind on the water will, indeed, carry us home. Listen.