Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's the End of the World As We Know It....again.

Wow. I just read an article in which Ashton Kutcher was interviewed about his rigorous fitness training regime. He actually admitted that he was training for the End of Days, so he could protect his family when Armageddon comes in 2012. No, he was not joking. And he has, what - something like a million followers on Twitter?
Oh, brother. Here we go again…
The End of Days has been predicted since the beginning of recorded history, possibly from the beginning of time. I’m sure there were cavemen that predicted it in hieroglyphs on a cave somewhere every time a shooting star went across the sky.
If you are to believe the Bible in it’s literal sense, when Jesus spoke to his followers about the end of Days, he said, "this generation will not pass away till all these things take place" (Matthew 24:34). And yet, that generation did pass away, and those things did not take place. So Christians got loose with the translation, believing it could still happen at any time.
Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons, said it would happen in 1890. The Shakers believed it would happen in 1792. Not so, said the Methodists – it will be 1794! Jehovah’s Witnesses said it would happen in 1914…on and on and on. And every natural disaster, earthquake, plague, war, was an indicator that the end was near. Don’t even get me started on how many times Pat Robertson has predicted it.
In my lifetime, I can remember hearing about it since I was a very little girl, practicing drop drills, huddled under our desks for when the A-bomb would eventually be dropped on us. And hey, how about the Cold War in the 80s….the huge Armageddon that was going to occur between Russia and the USA? It was all right there, predicted in the Bible…the “beasts” were the Eagle (USA) and the Bear (Russia). In fact, here’s an article written for the Atlantic in 1982- when everyone was preparing for the Armageddon of (cue scary music)…1984! I mean, even David Bowie sang about that one.
How about that Haley’s comet scare that led all those nutty people to commit suicide? Oh and let’s not forget Y2K- that was going to wipe out computers all over the world, leading to panic and mayhem in the streets, ending the world as we knew it. Remember stocking up on fresh water and canned goods, just in case?
So now it’s coming up on 2012 and our doom is just around the corner….
My prediction for 2012? Water distributors are going to make a fortune, and Ashton Kutcher is going to be really buff. Then 2013 is going to come around and we’re all going to start obsessing on some other possible date upon which the disaster could happen.
Here’s the way I see it. We’re all going to die one day and that scares the hell out of us. Because it’s not going to happen to all of us on the same day in some fantastic display of fireworks and battle of good and evil like a Hollywood movie. It will most likely happen quietly, when we’re old and frail and our body gives out. But we don’t like the thought of slipping away quietly into the night. We don’t want to believe that we’re really so small and powerless. Our egos need to feel that we are so fantastic it would take Armageddon to wipe us out- and then not even Armageddon, because many of us, (like Sarah Palin for instance) believe we are “chosen” and will ascend above the mayhem. And suddenly we feel more secure, more in control, superior even, because we know the end of the story.
Could that be it?
Here’s my advice: Live.
There is never any guarantee of security, or life, or safety. So just live.
We are all “chosen”. God made every one of us, and in doing so, God “chose” us to live.
Live well. Love others. Be a good person. Live in possibility, not fear. Make the most of every day, knowing that we have no control over the Universe. Leave that part to God.
And get comfortable with living in the mystery, because as Shakespeare said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
And maybe stop following Ashton Kutcher on Twitter. Just sayin’.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why I’m a Terrible Gardener

I’m truly a terrible gardener. I so envy those of you with your flourishing english gardens in Southern California. Oh you, with your lovely spring vegetables, showing up with bags of ripe, plump tomatoes on my doorstep- you amaze me. For years I’ve described myself as having a brown thumb. I love the planting, and the watering, and the letting it grow part. But good gardeners tell me that you have to prune things back, cut off the weak and dying parts that are draining energy from the rest of the plant. Now that’s the part I’m terrible at. I feel “bad” about cutting dying branches and blossoms. I think…maybe if I just let them be, it’ll be okay. I don’t want to hurt the plant. So eventually the plant withers and dies. Then I feel bad about myself, and take blame for killing the plant. I’ve also made bad decisions about trying to save injured bees, who eventually sting me and fly away. But sure enough, I’ll do it again. Hmmm...
So yeah…I guess you could say gardening is a metaphor for my life. I’ve been stung many, many times over the last forty-odd years, and in my garden there is a family (of origin) tree that is very sick. My own spirit has suffered and wilted because I didn’t take the necessary action when I needed to. I never pruned that tree, even when it was killing me.
This week I had the most beautiful, warm, heartfelt Christmas with my own family- surrounded by my husband, three children, daughter-in-law and grandbaby, and Troy’s sister. I was completely restored, happy, uplifted knowing that my own family tree is an oak. Solid, tall, strong, invincible. It was a perfect holiday, if I didn’t look outside of my own four walls.
Because outside in that family of origin garden, there were withering branches, fungus, infestation on the vine, pulling energy away from my own spirit, as much as I tried to ignore it.
So today I did it. I pruned an unhealthy branch to preserve my own heart. It scared me to do it, but once it was done it wasn't such a big deal.
Troy asked me how I felt afterward.
I said I felt like I finally stood up and took care of myself. And you know what? I didn’t feel bad. I can feel the sun on my face, the nutrients rushing back in. I feel healthier, stronger, and more hopeful.
Maybe this year I will finally blossom.
Maybe I’m learning to have a green thumb after all.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hope on the Darkest Night

Lunar Eclipse on the night of Winter Solstice
photo: Ben Canant
Christmas comes in the heart of Winter Solstice, the time of year that darkness is longest, and day is shortest. Throughout history, people have celebrated this time. The Romans, Ancient Greeks, Jews, Incans, Native Americans all had rituals marking this darkest time of year. Many religions marked this night by lighting candles, evoking hope on the darkest of days. Eventually Christian sects began to adopt this time to celebrate the birth of Christ.
There is something about the snow that blankets us in a hush, and darkness that forces us to go within and huddle close together, that brings out our inner light. From the beginning of time we have been celebrating – no matter how dark the night, how dark the day, there is something in us that can not be extinguished. Something we all recognize as good, and bright and thriving. Hope becomes our communal heartbeat, the one thing that connects us all over the world.
As a kid growing up in a very uncertain, unbalanced household, December was one thing I could count on. It was the time of year my family would pull it together and we were at our very best. We acted like a real family. December brought not only Christmas, but my birthday. No matter how dysfunctional the rest of our lives were, my mother always gave us birthday parties- even if they were humble. One year I had a few friends over for Thanksgiving leftovers and a sleepover, and to me, that was grand. It was a time that I was honored, a time I felt I mattered. And Christmas, no matter how broke we were, was always an event. My mother wrapped presents like a professional. There was always glitz and huge bows. Even if what was inside was only a pair of socks, it was the most exciting presentation of socks you ever saw.
My heart swelled with hope in December. Maybe we’d take a day trip to play in the snow. Maybe my family would put aside their grievances and get together to tell stories and laugh. Maybe people would be just a little bit kinder to one another, even if only for those few weeks. Suddenly the atmosphere changed, and it seemed anything was possible.
I loved the rituals, the religious songs and prayers, even though I grew up in a family who only set foot inside a church for a wedding or funeral. I held fast to those rituals, held the meaning of those songs close to my heart, because to me, they were the embodiment of everything I wanted to believe in.
I’ve noticed in the last eight years that my Christmas spirit has waned. My husband has tried valiantly to restore it, stringing the house with twinkly lights, wearing a santa hat all month long. And I try – I make gingerbread houses, bake cookies, listen to my Christmas music, but something had switched off inside me and I couldn’t get it back. At first I thought it was because my kids had become sullen teenagers who barely cracked a smile over my fabulous Christmas morning reveals. Maybe it was because we no longer had the fun of shopping at Toys R Us, since they now preferred clothes and electronics. But then I had Evan, and now baby Ayumu. Toys and Santa and magic prevail once again. Christmas is all about children, fabulous Christmas morning reveals were back, so where was my spirit?
Just last week, upon much deep contemplation, I realized where I lost it. Eight years ago, there was a fracture with my family (mother’s side) that created a chasm so wide I knew it could never be healed. There was no longer hope for us, not even at Christmas. I had always carried even the faintest flicker in my heart that maybe one day we’d all be okay, but it has long since been extinguished. Something in me quietly shattered, without my even knowing it. When I realized this, I wondered if it was possible to still feel hope in my heart for anything. But I’m not giving up.
What I’ve concluded is this: You can’t hold hope for something that is long gone. Hope belongs to the future. What I can feel hopeful about is that a cycle of madness stopped with me, and will not be passed down to my children nor future generations. There is great hope for my children and grandchildren to live a life that is expressive and open-hearted, free of family secrets and shame.
My house is now full with family and little ones, sparkling and twinkling with Christmas lights, fresh baked cookies on the stove, the smell of pine wafting through. We made it through a really ugly chapter, and we’re still here. Yes, Virginia, there is hope. It lives on. Reclaim it.
Last night was marked by a full lunar eclipse, the first one to occur on the Winter Solstice since the 1600s. Not only was it the darkest day, but also the darkest night. If it’s true that it’s always darkest before the dawn, then surely last night marked a new beginning.
Now that is something to truly feel hopeful about.

*A song Troy and I wrote about hope - "Northern Star"

Friday, December 17, 2010

Your last day on Earth

Rainbow on my birthday last year.

If this were your last day on Earth, how would you spend it?
I had a dream Thursday that really rocked my foundation. I had one day left to live. It was actually a beautiful dream, but it left me shaken.
I have not been able to stop thinking about it. What if…?
What if I really did have only one day? People often say “live every day as if it were your last” and sure, we all think that’s a great idea in theory, but to be stopped in your tracks, and to really be faced with it...
What if this were, truly, your only day?
Would you spend it complaining about the economy, your boss, the president? Would you fritter it away flipping the channels on TV, watching the Real Housewives and Snooki? Would you call friends only to gripe or gossip about others? Would you waste your energy saying unkind things, thinking unkind thoughts, yelling at drivers in traffic?
As far as we know, this is the only day we have. It doesn’t matter how lined up in a row your ducks are, how much insurance you have, how much money, how good a plan…nothing in life is guaranteed. Nothing.
If this were your only day… How would you live it?
I wouldn’t waste a second of it on regret, resentment, complaint, or negativity.
I would make sure I loved my children and my husband with my whole heart, with all my attention. I would stop to let everything sink in, the smell of their hair, the color of their eyes, their mannerisms, voices, all the beautiful details about them. I would make sure they knew how I felt about them, leaving no room for doubt. I would see them each for the miracle they truly are.
I would appreciate my friends for how unique they are, without expectation of what they should be to please me. I would tell them what they meant to me, and what a gift they have been in my life, each of them.
I would take a good look at the world around me, and notice that no matter how much we pollute, destroy, tear down…determined blades of soft grass break through the hardened ground every time it rains. What a miracle, and a testament to endurance and hope.
I would listen to beautiful music, I would sing, dance, even if I was all alone. I would tell everyone I loved them. I would sit on the floor and play with my kid. I would call someone I had let slip away. I would walk in the field and notice every miracle of nature…the fact that birds fly, the formation of rainclouds, the new grass that grows seemingly overnight, flowers that bloom even in the heart of Winter.
It looks like I’m going to have a full day, so much appreciating to do.
How will you spend your day? However you choose to spend it, may you be truly, deeply blessed.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Little Jack Kerouac

Evan in Daddy's glasses

Today I'm giving my blog over to a very special guest - Evan.
You’d have to know my kid, with all his quirks and uniqueness, to understand how a five year old just randomly drops poems like this on my desk.
Popping into our lives at mid-life, he is our very unexpected gift. At one-year old, before he could even speak in sentences, he was obsessed with Maya Angelou and would drag her books around the house like a security blanket. At one and a half, he was reciting the alphabet, backwards. He’s been reading since he was two. By the time he was three he had memorized all the countries of the world- in alphabetical order, which he liked to recite while jumping on a trampoline. At four he was fascinated with the Japanese and Korean alphabet, which he taught himself by searching them out on You Tube.
At five, he is interested in the inner workings of the human body, and has a penchant for poetry. He wrote me a book for my birthday- illustrated it too. And of course he came up with a nom de plume – Shane Deckwen. At this rate, he will most likely get an agent before I do.
Anyhow, here is a poem he wrote me last night. I have transcribed it exactly as he wrote it, misspellings, capitalizations etc…
Dim the lights, put on a beret and snap your fingers….Here comes Little Jack.
2 A.M. Timer
Basket Full of Candy
You know
Like some
People Don’t
Like each other
1 of them
has been
I can’t get over “Furious Camelsuit”. What a brilliant name for a band – or a book of short stories…probably his, when he gets published, which will most likely be when he’s….oh about Seven.
Here is Evan at three years old reciting the countries of Africa on his trampoline.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Lesson

"Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last week – ah, such a lovely miracle week that culminated on my birthday. It was the best. I was feeling strong, centered, enthusiastic and energized. To cap off the week - a wonderful Sunday dinner surrounded by my loved ones left me walking on a cloud. Then came Monday.
Remember when you were a little kid in kindergarten, and you take all this time to build a big castle out of blocks, only to have some mean bully come along and kick it over? That’s what happened to me spiritually this week. As this year mercifully draws to a close, I’m feeling shaken and fragile. But I decided to use last week to rebuild my reserves, to find my hopeful place and start again. It was working, too. I could feel myself getting stronger, getting back to my true self.
And then…WHAM-O. It’s amazing how we can be surrounded with love and goodness, but one act of cruelty can kick that tower of hope down so easily. It only took one person’s hateful words and judgment. It was someone that I thought loved me, someone who mattered a lot to me. Before I knew it I was physically knocked flat by a stomach flu that lasted three days, all the while her hateful words churning in my gut, and the why? why? why? circling in my brain… Add to that a spate of bad news emails of illnesses and deaths. Add to that two more rejection letters from agents. I was down, in the downest way. (Know what’s worse than getting rejection letters from agents? Getting them while you have the stomach flu.)
One of my girlfriends wrote me this morning from Arizona. Where are you? Why aren’t you blogging? I need some inspiration here! Girl, I hear ya, but hang on a minute while I crawl out of this hole and figure out what the hell just happened.
I’ve always believed that LOVE is bigger than FEAR, but I learned something this week. What we believe in most is what is biggest. For the past few days, I let that hate become bigger in my soul than all the love that surrounds me. Even though I knew they weren’t true, I let her words infiltrate me, inhabit me, fill my gut, my heart, my mind until I was physically ill. And then I was mad at myself for letting it happen. FEAR won.
So I got up with the sun this morning and spent some quiet time alone, looking for the lesson in all this ugliness. What I realized was that yes, sometimes I might be weak and let fear in, but I always have the choice to turn it around. I decided to let the LOVE in my life be bigger, let the LOVE consume the fear and the hate. I even imagined the love like a hungry little pac-man, gobbling up all her ugly words. I know I can’t control what someone says about me, nor whether they love or hate me, but I can choose what I believe in. I believe that I will be okay, no matter who hates me, no matter how many agents reject me, no matter if my own family of origin never embraces me – I have love in my life. LOVE. Love is the light in my life…and like the old gospel song says -
This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine…
This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine…

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…

Saturday, December 4, 2010

My Birthday Wish

I woke early this morning (5:55 as a matter of fact…hmmm) as I always do on my birthday. I have a birthday ritual - I wake before everyone, when the house is quiet, and read what I wrote in my journal on my last birthday. I reflect on what my hopes were for the year, assessing how far I came, what I learned, how it all turned out.
Reading what I wrote last year on December 4th…all I could think was wow. I wrote what a wonderful year 2009 had been, how happy I was, how much I had learned. 2009 was our 20th wedding anniversary, and Troy and I renewed our marriage vows in Jamaica. It was a blessed year. Work was good, life was good, love was good. I was happy, happy, happy.
And these were my wishes for the coming year, 2010:
“I look forward to this year, and all the wonder and uncertainty it holds. My arms and heart are open, ready to feel and experience it all. Love, health, creativity, growth, passion, new experience.”
Well, I can’t say I didn’t get what I asked for. Love, health, creativity…check. Grateful for that. Perhaps I should have been more specific in the “growth” and “new experience” categories…like maybe adding the word POSITIVE before them (will definitely remember to do that today).
Anyone who’s been following my blog this year has heard ad nauseum about all the drama: law suits, dog attacks, threats of violence, restraining orders and police and court dates, bubbling sewage, failing septic system, thousands and thousands of dollars to home disasters, one dog attacked by pitbulls, the other dying of cancer, bug infestations, car blowing up, and worst of all, losing a dear, dear friend to an untimely death.
2010: A painful, frightening, disastrous year.
But it also was a year of love, inspiration and miracles. It was hard to see it at the time, but in reflecting back, here’s what I found:
Miracle #1 - I spent my birthday in a writing group at Joyce Maynard’s house last year. In a private moment, she took my hands, looked me in the eyes and said “You are a great writer.” My knees buckled and I cried. I had never taken my writing seriously before- it was just something I had always done since the second grade. I wrote just because, well, because it was in me. And then I stuffed it away in a steamer trunk. After that day, I got to business – working my ass off every day, through all the drama of the year, until finally - I finished my book.
Miracle #2 - Out of pain and frustration I launched a blog, so I could cry and whine to someone else and give my poor husband and girlfriends a break. Before that I had never entertained the thought- didn’t even read blogs or really know what they were. You all endured a lot of whining from me this year. You truly did, and you were kind and patient and loving. Thank you.
Miracle #3 - Friendship. Early this year I found my birthday sister Amy Ferris. Immediately she led me to Kristine and Molly, Richard, Monica, Linda and so many beautiful souls, that before I knew it I was surrounded by angels. Amy Ferris is an angel-magnet. Yes she is. And my relationships with each of my closest friends was put to the test this year- big time. But in every circumstance (and there were some jaw-dropping crazyass circumstances this year that I did NOT blog about) , I was amazed how LOVE was bigger than the problem, and how our friendships not only survived, but deepened. So to you wonders, Erin and Beth, Dani, Cindy - thank you. Man, our friendship kicks ass.
Miracle #4 - When our neighbor threatened us with violence, and the pitbulls were snarling at the gate…I was terrified. I couldn’t sleep. And I put it out there to all of you, my friendship angels, and you offered support, love and prayers. I felt your prayers around me like a shield. All of a sudden, I didn’t feel afraid anymore. You gave me courage, advice, solutions. You lifted my fear, countless times. When my father was in the hospital, when Greg died, when my dog Brandy died, when my house and appliances and life were all exploding…You lifted me.
Miracle #5 - My son Taylor was married to Aya on Valentine’s day (and the real miracle was that I planned a wedding in 20 days!)
Miracle #6 - Taylor and Aya’s son, Ayumu Cameron Ikuta Dexter, was born on June 1st. Now there is more love and chaos under the Dexter roof. I couldn’t be happier.
Miracle #7 - My daughter Cristen not only survived a very painful break up, but thrived. Now she has a slammin’ new job at Live Nation, a slammin’ new apartment in West Hollywood, a new car, and a rich, full life. Who needs Mr. Wonderful to be happy? This girl oughta write a book for other young women. The title: “Create your own damn happiness!”
Miracle #8 - As many of you know, eight years ago I found my biological father, and my whole big, wacky, beloved family came with him. This year two of my brothers (Ted and Ted), my sister Heather, my nephews, my stepmom Susan, then Aya’s mom Kunie, all came to stay with us, filling our home with love and hope.
Miracle #9 - We were in Yosemite when we got the news that Greg had died. I think we were being looked out for, because the shock would surely have leveled us if we hadn’t been in the comfort and beauty of God’s country.
Miracle #10 - Evan. Just Evan.
And above all- my husband Troy. That we stood solid through all of this, didn’t let the stress affect our marriage, held hands and walked through the storms together, and that I love him ten times more now than I ever thought possible… I’d call that a miracle of almost biblical proportion. I would like to have t-shirts made. “We Survived 2010! and we still love each other! A lot!”
And I know many other seeds of miracles have been planted, that will take root in the future. I do know this.
So today, as I wrap this up, my birthday wish for the coming year is this:
Health, Financial Abundance, Safety, LOVE, Peace, Boundless Opportunity, Abundant Work, POSITIVE Growing Experiences (please!), Faith, Hope, Creativity and Inspiration
I wish these things not only for me, but for every one of you. And I hope (and trust) that the kindness you have shown me this year comes back to you ten-fold.
Thank you for being a part of my miracle year, and my life.
(Mine and Amy’s astrological forecast for today from our newest obsession – and by the way, thanks a lot Barb Radecki for getting us addicted)
If today is your birthday: Even if you only achieve just a fraction of your goals you have set out for yourself today, you will end the year feeling exceedingly pleased with your progress. A rare and most fortuitous celestial canopy is today blessing your prospects for the next twelve months.
Is it true? Who knows. But I'm running with it!!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Day 6 of Miracle Week

Well, day 5 was not so great. Scratch that, it had some pretty great possibility. I mean some things are in the works, seeds planted…but me being me, I don’t count my chickens before they hatch. But what DID happen yesterday is my miracle kid got the stomach flu. And my grandbaby is running a high fever. And I got another rejection letter from a pretty major agent. She said my life story was really interesting and she enjoyed reading it, but it would be too hard to try to sell the book of a person with no platform. ( If I wear platform shoes....does that count? hmmm...) Meanwhile, as Amy pointed out, Christine O Donnell got a book deal. Whatever.

Amy wrote to me “Welcome to the rejection club, Hollye Dexter”. And for some reason that made me smile, because I know I’m in some pretty good company here.

I’ve actually been a card-carrying member for quite a while now, being a singer/songwriter for twenty years. This is not much different than the music business. Some of the most talented musicians and singers I know are out there pounding the pavement in obscurity, while Paris Hilton and Heidi Montag have record deals. Who ever said life was fair. For some reason I seem to be drawn to the professions with the highest rejection rates: acting, music, and writing. Yes, I am insane. But I’m not alone! In fact, here is a short story on same famous authors rejection letters. Sorry Jack Kerouac, Sylvia Plath…you just have no platform- your book will never sell.

Aaaanyhoo…My son kept his toast down this morning, and the baby smiled for the first time in 24 hours, so I will continue declaring my heart’s intent, praying away the bad Juju of the past year, and believing that miracles are at work under the surface. Since it’s the holiday season, I’m summoning the spirit of George Bailey in my favorite movie It’s a Wonderful Life. I’ve thought of him a lot in this Mr. Potter year. Just as George learned to do, I’m keeping my chin up, trusting that everything is happening for a reason, that things unfold in their own time, and that every single one of us is here for a reason and the world needs us.

And like Natalie Wood says at the end of Miracle on 34th Street, after her hope has been dashed…I believe, I believe…

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Miracle Story

Six years ago I had the worst birthday ever. Worst. It was December 2004. I was estranged from both of my parents. My mother had exiled me for speaking out against something awful that had happened in our family. My father was struggling with addiction again, and had let our relationship go. Neither of my parents called or acknowledged my birthday. In fact not one person in my extended family acknowledged it.
As if being estranged from my parents wasn’t bad enough, the nonprofit foundation I’d co-founded was in the middle of a hostile takeover by some ambitious board members. Power and greed overcame altruism. The musical instruments that had been donated to my students (kids in foster care) were taken away. The grant money was pulled from my arts programs so they could use it for advertising and self promotion. They were attempting to oust me and run the organization themselves. It was the year of the Grinch, for sure.
On top of that, my daughter was away at college, and I was missing her. My son was a teenager, busy with his own life and his rock band. All I wanted for my birthday was a couple of my close friends over for dinner. But even that didn’t work out. Two of them only stopped by briefly on their way to another event, one got drunk to the point of puking, and the other’s car broke down on the side of the road. So while my husband went to rescue her, I went to bed alone. Happy birthday to me….
The day after my birthday, I crawled into my bed like a wounded animal and cried a year’s worth of tears. I went through an entire box of Kleenex. But I did something else too. For the holidays, I had made a mix CD of songs about angels. I played this CD all day while I cried. And I prayed - not just any prayer- I remember this prayer specifically because I chanted it over and over for hours.
Please send me an angel to help me believe in the goodness of people again.
Over and over and over…crying, praying, crying some more. I spent the whole day doing this.
Often times, miracles are already budding just beneath the surface of your life, but you can’t yet feel it. Never in a million years did I imagine what would come next, and it wasn’t until late January that I found out. That Christmas morning, completely oblivious, I already had the gift nestled inside me. Just weeks after I sent that prayer out into space, I had become pregnant at forty-one years old (and using birth control).
After the initial shock (and boy oh boy…what a SHOCK) we figured out it must have happened right before Christmas, maybe even on Christmas Eve. I knew then my prayers (or my intent) had been heard and answered. Certainly not in the way I expected - but rarely are prayers answered the way we expect.
On the September night I went into labor, there was a freak electrical storm. Thunder and lightning, unseasonal for California, announced Evan's entrance into the world. I always tell him he rode into town on a lightning bolt.
Every birthday since, I’ve had this little angel-boy to spend my day with, running around the house, raising a ruckus like he always does, testing my patience, teaching me to love on the deepest level.
All three of my children were miracles that I hoped and prayed for. Each of them came to me in a different miraculous way, and each has taught me so much about the true nature of love.
As I was writing this, my son Evan, five years old, came into the room and asked what I was doing.
“I’m writing about how you – and how you came to me like a miracle.”
“What’s a miracle, mommy?”
Hmmm…had to think about how to define that to a five year old.
“It’s when…something really good happens to you right at the time you need it.”
“Oh. Like ice cream?”
“Yes honey, like ice cream.”
“Can I have ice cream after school?”
“Yes.” I smiled and held his little face in my hands.
“I love you,” he said.
And that, my friends, is the miracle.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Living In Possibility

It’s day four of my personally declared miracle week. So far, so good. I managed to fight off getting sick (with good thoughts and prayers) and have had a few "possibilities" come up, which have yet to materialize, but I have faith. Yes I do.
Yesterday I read a short article on Cheryl Richardson’s website about manifesting the desires of your heart. She told a story about taking a walk on the beach with a friend, and she declared, “I’m going to find a perfect sand dollar today.” She’d only found a few in her whole life, but that day- she would find one. An hour later, sure enough she did. Her friend was quite impressed. She then declared she’d find another for her friend, and…she did. The point of the story was – decide what it is you really want, and then set your intent on it.
Reading this, I smiled to myself, remembering how a girlfriend and I used to do something similar. We had this favorite thrift store we’d frequent in a busy part of L.A. where the parking was impossible. Every time we’d drive to the shop, we’d spend the whole twenty minute ride chanting PARKING SPACE, PARKING SPACE…and sure enough, we’d always get one right in front of the store. We didn’t think much of it. It was just our silly ritual, a superstition at best. But now I’m really pondering. Why would I put so much intent and energy into something little like that, but not put that same attention onto the things I really want in life - things I want much, much more than a parking space?
Am I afraid of asking for too much? Am I afraid that maybe the Universe is a limited place and there’s only so much goodness to go around (even though I absolutely know that’s not true)? Is there something in me that feels I don’t deserve abundance and rewarding work?
Maybe I don’t want to bother God with my petty requests when there are so many others who need help more than me. But I’m struggling this year. Really struggling on every level, and I want to be happy again. I want to be happy, peaceful, healthy and free from financial worry. I want to make a good living with the writing and music that I do.
So maybe I need to reinstate the PARKING SPACE chant, but this time redirect my intent.
But, unlike the parking chant, maybe I need to say it for more than twenty minutes. Maybe I need to say it, and pray it, every single day. Every single day. And see what happens…

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What Is Your Heart’s Deepest Desire?

When I taught arts programs for at-risk teens, I’d have them start our 10-week course by writing what they wanted from life. When language was difficult for them, I’d have them collage or paint it. Later they would visualize then write about their lives in ten years. Where would they be living? Who would they share their lives with? What kind of work would they be doing? Then the specifics - describe the favorite room in their future home, the people who surround them, how it felt to do the work they did. For some of them this exercise was near impossible. Some of them simply said, “I hope to be alive”. Some said they hoped to be off probation. Some said maybe they could imagine working at a store. And my question always was – How can you expect anything of life if you don’t know what it is you want? You’ve got to search your heart for your deepest true desires, and then don’t be afraid to ask for it. Otherwise you are just drifting through life, going wherever the wind blows you.

Hello self. Are you listening?

Obviously I often forget to do this. Here I am in this awful year, financially and emotionally stretched to the limit and all I’m doing is dog-paddling to keep my head above water….just going wherever the current takes me. I can’t imagine my future. All I know is that I want to be out of this stress. That’s not much of a dream.

So this week is all about reclaiming my stake in life. I’m excavating the treasures of my heart, sweeping the cobwebs out of the corners, dusting off my ambitions and starting again.

Amy Ferris and I had a long talk about it, and decided this is our power week. She’ll be blogging about it as well. We’re going to do an experiment- First we get clear on what it is we really want. Self doubt, fear, shame will be swept away with the broom of truth. Then, every day this week, we will claim our heart’s desires with pure, clear intent. And watch what happens…

Yesterday was day one. I stated that I was manifesting money and miracles. I received a check in the mail for $166 dollars. Well, it’s a start, but perhaps I need to be a bit more specific.

So this week I’ll be asking myself these questions:

What does my heart want?

Where do I want to be in ten years?

What does it look like, feel like, taste like, sound like?

What (in me) is stopping me from claiming my stake in life?

We are all here for a reason. Every one of us has a purpose. Are we living our purpose, or just surviving? Will you join Amy and I for a week of miracles? We’ll start with a week, then who knows? Maybe we’ll stretch it out to a year, or maybe a lifetime? But for today…baby steps.

What does your heart yearn for?

( * Follow Amy's journey:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Miracles Are Everywhere

Have you ever experienced a miracle in your life…something you just couldn’t explain? Did you try to rationalize it away? Did you push it to the back of your mind as if it never happened? Yeah, me too. I wonder why we do that. Maybe we want to feel as though we control everything, and it’s a little too scary to admit there are forces much bigger than us in the universe.

I’ve written about several of my personal miracles on my blog ( if you want to read them, here are a few :,

I still forget about them, especially when I’m in crisis, as I have been for the better part of this year.

But lately I started praying again, and small miracles have already begun to happen. Miracles of the heart, of forgiveness, of kindness. Miracles of faith. I asked for help in believing again and suddenly there were articles in magazines, TV shows, emails, phone calls, books that showed up that made me feel the tingling all over, that “knowing” feeling that there was something bigger at work here. My Oprah magazine showed up today, and voila - it is all about miracles! There are some mind-blowing articles in there; Rocks that move on their own across the desert, a baby being stillborn only to come to life two hours later in his mother’s arms, a man who has healed thousands of people around the world with nothing but his mind and heart…

Miracles happen every day but we don’t talk about them. They aren’t reported on the news. People don’t discuss them at cocktail parties. Oh but we talk about Hollywood gossip and fashion and political mudslinging. Why don’t we talk about our miracles? What are we afraid of? Would people think we were crazy if we shared them?

Okay then. I’ll start it off. I’m crazy because I believe in miracles, and I’m going to start talking about it. A lot. I hope you’ll join me. In these troubling times, we need something positive to anchor ourselves to.

Will you share a miracle with me today?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gratitude from the Dexter brood

Well it’s Thanksgiving again, a wonderful time to gather my own growing family around one table (a miracle in itself) and appreciate one another.
And wow, I am thankful. Truly thankful, even though this year has drained us of every last cent in our “emergency cushion” fund, and we’re now sitting on just box springs. Borrowed, financed box springs, at that. But hey…I’m not begging on the streets in Calcutta. I’m not living in a cave in Afghanistan. I’m not a prisoner of war. For as broke-ass-broke as this year has made us, I know that come tomorrow morning we’ll be like the Who’s down in Who-ville. We’ll hold hands and sing, and nobody – no Grinchy year, no cockroaches, no attacking pitbulls nor threatening neighbors, nor lawsuits, nor sewage spills, nor exploding appliances, cars and plumbing, no depression or loss, will be able to stop us. Because as cheesy as it may sound, what this family is rich in is love.
Big time L O V E.
Love and mess and chaos, but love overriding all.
I’m so thankful for my beautiful daughter Cristen, who is healthy and thriving in life, my newly married son Taylor who is balancing work with being a husband and father, a beautiful daughter-in-law Aya and our new angel Ayumu, and my little firecracker Evan who keeps me on my toes. Above all, I thank god every day for my husband Troy, who has weathered every storm with me so brilliantly. With him by my side I know I can get through anything (but please, Universe, let’s not test that theory).
But it’s when I take my friends into assessment that I realize - the year that brought us to our knees financially has given us something much more valuable. We got to see the true beauty in people. We have been surrounded by love and support, held up by kindness and empathy, bolstered by generosity of spirit. Our friends have given so much to us…so much. As much as I look forward to slamming the screen door on 2010’s ass next month, I will always cherish the gifts of love and friendship it brought me. (Not to mention it forced me to write a lot more just to maintain my sanity.)
Today is a day for giving thanks (because tomorrow I’ll be cooking all day.) You know how they have the acknowledgements page in a book? This is my acknowledgements page for this year. I couldn’t have survived the MOTHER OF ALL BAD YEARS without all of you. So cheers….I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow when I raise a glass. (Hell, what am I saying? I’m not waiting until tomorrow!)
Thank you Erin and Beth….for oh my god… everything. All the time. Every day. Life is unimaginable without you.
Thank you Dani and Hayden and Carly, for being my family, for loving us, for loving Evan and Mu so much, and so well. And thank you Joy for being Joy, and Cindy for brilliance and kindness and patience and dependability and endless support. And AMY for generosity and lifting my spirit, showing me how to be brave more times this year than I could possibly count. And Julie and Mary, OY! - where to even begin? And Monica for laughter, tears, hand-holding and margaritas…and Linda for the same! And my miracle brother Ted and sister Heather and all my family in Texas, you are my heart. Beverlee and Laura for your hearts and connection to my childhood. Joe for soulful music and deep friendship. Wayne Foster Entertainment for fun, glamorous work- and Dean De Lorenzo and Matt Sedoti and Rob for booking us all year. Lifelong friends Kelly and Keri, and Diane C for 23 years of constant belief and encouragement and burden-sharing. And all my beautiful writers/artist friends who encourage and support not only me but one another : Maxee and Barb and Madge and Richard (best poetic emails!) and Melody and Joyce M. and Diane L and all my Pam’s and Cheryl and Kathleen and Laurenne and Hope and Zoe and all my Amy’s and Cathy and Kristine and Molly and Denise and Christina and Stacy and Stacey and Sharon and Anita and Barbara and wow- I could spend all day writing names….there are so many people I am grateful for. So many of you mommy-friends ( Karla and Manuela and Aneesa) and facebook friends and childhood friends who wrote kind, supportive things all year long- Karen, Maria, Metris, Stacey, Scott, Laura, Mary, Rob for renewed friendship and Dennis- for saving my butt this Summer. Thank you both Mark C and Denise for guiding us through some scary police/legal challenges. Thanks to my awesome neighbors (all the others are GOOD ones) and all the wonderful people who keep Troy composing and and Troy’s friends (Tamara and Lori- love you girls!) and family for keeping him upright through the storm…and Cristen’s great bosses at Live Nation for making her so happy and all the people who employ Taylor- Big Moves and Emily Osment and GLEE and White Lights and …Evan’s amazing school and great teachers.
There is so much to be grateful for it’s starting to feel like a gratitude avalanche so please forgive me if I’ve forgotten to include your name, I am tearfully overwhelmed and they are starting to play the “get off the stage” music…..
Counting my blessings today, I feel not just rich, but uber-rich. Crazy rich. Gold plated engine parts and diamond encrusted teeth rich. If only MTV had a show for “Inner” cribs…I’d be showing Jay-Z what rich means.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody! I am grateful for YOU, every one of you, more than you will ever know.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lions and Tigers and Bears...oh my!

Lions and Tigers and Bears - Ha! They're nothing compared to roaches and black widows and centipedes, which is my disaster du jour. At least lions and tigers and bears can’t infiltrate your home right before Thanksgiving.
It’s as though the Halloween fairy paid a special visit. Or maybe the Wicked Witch. Or perhaps it’s Mother Nature letting me know my crappy year isn’t quite over yet- and this is her grand finale.
After having killed three black widows inside my house in the span of a week, and finding several three-inch long centipedes INSIDE MY HOUSE, the other night I was taking a cup out to make tea, and a cockroach skittled up my arm, causing me to scream and drop the cup. I didn’t know whether to call an exterminator or an exorcist.
We bought this house eleven years ago, and although it’s in a wilderness area, we have never had any trouble with insects or pest of any kind. But then again, this is 2010, the mother of all bad years. The (organic) exterminator told me that because California has basically had Spring for the past six months, perfect weather also helps insects to thrive and populate.
Anyhow, my husband and I spent all day Saturday moving our appliances out and scrubbing and sanitizing every square inch of this house. But what those bastard insects didn’t know was that Troy and I had snuggled in bed watching Avatar that morning (yes, we actually were the last people on Earth to see it). I was inspired. I was ready. I pictured Troy and I as the Navee, fighting the evil ones who sought to infiltrate our land. Except I did not look like Zoe Saldana flying on an alien pterodactyl’s back, wielding my bow. Here’s what I looked like: hair in a knot on my head, wearing pajama bottoms, fuzzy socks, a man’s extra large t-shirt, black industrial cleaning gloves, holding a mop and boric acid. I blew myself a kiss in the mirror, Oh yeaaaah girl, you’re bringing sexy back.
This is just the way it is right now. My life is not glamorous. What I’ve learned in my years on this planet is that it is a waste of energy to rail against what is.
Like everything else that’s happened this year, we had to come up with a formula for dealing with disaster. These are our FIVE As for handling a Dexterocious catastrophe.
1) Assessment: Stop saying oh my god and try to wrap your brain around the situation.
2) Acceptance: Pull your head out of your butt and accept that this is your new reality.
3) Action: Take your emotions out of it and do something rational.
4) Accounting: Get another loan to pay for most recent disaster.
5) Act: Act as if you believe everything is going to be okay, then pray like crazy.
So we’re employing our usual method to this one…and meanwhile I have construction guys here pounding on my walls, sealing up all the holes they left this Summer when they tore my house apart trying to find the solution to my plumbing/septic problems, which we're still having, and I’ll be spending all of today clearing out all my cupboards and drawers for the exterminator who comes tomorrow…
Honestly, with all the ridiculous disasters we’ve wrangled this year, I could write a book!