glee bingeing

Ben and I did some serious Glee bingeing during this holiday break, watching two whole seasons from the DVD’s Ben received as gifts. Not that we haven’t already. There were days of watching episodes on Netflix years ago, sitting on the couch together in front of my iPad screen, thoroughly enjoying the charm of a world where anything goes. Season One began in the fall of 2009 and the show ended with Season Six in 2015. It is the kind of entertainmnet that you can watch over and ver, get invested in the characters and the trials and tribulations of show choir, at once both absurd and relevant, funny and poignant, and marvel at the talent of so many. This show has everything, explores every possible social issue that threatens and/or binds us to each other in community. Each episode is some mix of unadulterated ambition, musical history, diversity, ethnicity, high school politics, adult politics, arts versus athletics vs. academics, competition, inclusion, relationships, religion, media, education, poverty, obesity, bullying, disability, surrogacy, homosexuality, bisexuality, transgender, mental illness, tolerance, intolerance, parenting, death, family, divorce, failure, humiliation, success, shock, and miraculously, through it all, just plain fun. Every issue is taken to a limit that invites speculation. Even the character of Becky Jackson, who has Down Syndrome, is cast first as a fallible human being with both desirable and undesirable behavior. The portrayal of her nastiness being born out of a need for survival in a brutal high school environment, seems completely normal.

It is a brilliant production and I wish there could be more. It feels prophetic that this show occupied the space of the Obama years. Party politics aside, I do wonder at the value of having such a rich portrayal of humanness being a benchmark for moving into the years with this next administration. Reminds me a little of Christmas dinner this year, where tolerance reigned in a beautiful way when the subject arose and differences of opinion about the future of this country were expressed. It could have been ugly. It does my heart good to witness where diversity can live in community in an authentic way.

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So for the past week, Ben and I settled into our favorite seats in the warmth of the wood stove and watched an episode or two of Glee at a time, got up for a walk, an outing, some quiet time, or to prepare a meal, and when finished, would come back for more. Our favorite outing was to go visit with Lily and Jay and their baby son Jack. Jay is a musician, Lily a special education teacher and it was great sharing about the brilliance of Glee with them too.

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Making dinner became a ritual Ben made sure to be present for each night. He has some favorites, and it does my heart good here too to witness his enthusiasm for watching and learning. This vacation he was focused on making pasta with tuna sauce**. It was the first thing he asked for after Christmas and seemed to set the tone for the simple meals of delicious winter easy. It is also one of the few meals I have the tolerance for making with primarily processed foods.

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Of course Nora joined us for all the fun, alternatively stretched out in front of the fire and then up to Ben for hugs and kisses.

It was significant as we were leaving to take Ben back to his father’s for the rest of vacation, that the last thing he wanted to do was to say goodbye to Nora, down on his knees in a full body hug. Blessed be.

 

**Pasta with Tuna Sauce, for 2

One 7 oz. can tuna (my current favorite is Genova yellowfin tuna in olive oil), drained
About one cup canned tomatoes with some juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 large cloves garlic, finely minced
Handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
6 oz. spaghetti
Optional 1-1/2 cups fresh chopped kale or broccoli

1. In a large saucepan that can hold sauce, vegetables and pasta, saute garlic for a moment in hot olive oil, add tomatoes (squeeze whole plum tomatoes by hand, mash diced tomatoes to be more pulpy), cover and simmer on low while water is boiling for pasta. Oil and tomato will separate. Sir a few times to mix.
2. Add pasta to boiling water, cook to desired firmness.
3. Add fresh parsley (and vegetables) to sauce, cover and cook until just soft, just a few minutes. Turn off fire, add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Drain pasta and add to sauce. Mix thoroughly. Turn fire on to high and ‘stir fry’ for a few minutes. Turn off fire and let sit for a few more minutes with cover. Serve warm.

 

forces of nature

Ben captured an image of me with the dogs while practicing with his new Christmas camera. It was a rare brief moment of all three of us in communion. But as soon as I moved even the tiniest bit, the entire scene would shatter and shift into the usual whirling dervish of attention getting behavior. If only I could sit just like this indefinitely, calm and equally loving for the two canine spirits I share my life with.

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I read recently that “life is a balance between rest and movement” (Osho) We three would soon all be separated from each other, on vacation from our usual ways, me on a two week retreat away from home, Yogi staying with my parents in their home five hours away, and Nora holding down the fort here with a new companion/house sitter.

My parents left with Yogi. Ben, Nora and I ventured part way into the woods for an much needed walk after days of rain and being indoors. It was almost balmy, and very slippery under foot in the soggy snow that would turn to solid ice during the anticipated overnight freeze. It was hard to maintain sure footing. We wouldn’t get far and it didn’t matter. It felt so good to be walking alongside the rush of water now liberated from ice, the sound of beauty living in the force of nature.

Walking in the woods with the snow requires cramp-ons or snowshoes when the snow comes to stay for good long while. I’d had only one such walk before the holidays. It took twice as long for me to negotiate the short loop to the pond and back with Yogi and Nora making the first tracks in our otherwise clear path. In this, they too have become part of my world where forces of nature create context for feeling joy.

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Forces of nature are so erratic these days, and I feel unsettled in the anticipation that a heavy snowfall might be followed by rain the next day, and then a freeze.

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Has it always been this way? Is it my yearning for some level of certainty that has me only remembering the long winters of my youth when the snow came and stayed until spring? It feels like a metaphor for the times. Anything goes, even climate change, extremes one day to the next, never any real time for truly resting with what is there before making the next move, or being distracted by the next influx of information.

I’ve been doing this retreat for four years now. In many ways it has become another certain part of my life. We are asked to arrive with an intention for the work we will all be doing together in meditation and yoga practice and fun. My intent is simple this year. I want to re-learn how to read novels again. I watch a lot of movies and old tv show re-runs like ER. I am writing a lot but I can’t remember the last time I actually read an entire novel or short story. I suppose this will require some re-awakening, some re-membering of the pleasure I used to feel as a younger version of myself during undisturbed hours of absorption with the written word. Immersing in fiction in the past always allowed me to stretch my imagination and occupy new terrain. It’s not just about remembering how to engage and stay present with a good story. It’s about acknowledging, perhaps even accepting, my current emotional need for certainty and stability. For so many years now I have satisfied that need by opening to the certainty of beauty that is always there, in the force of nature in every moment.

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It’s like a drug. I want it all the time. I want to feel the immediate multi-dimensional emotional hit of an image that I can capture with a click on my iPhone. The narcissist in me thinks I am seeing this uniquely through my eyes. That this my movie, even if controlled by nature. I don’t know if this is truth or not.

Discovering order and seeing beauty has become the backbone of my story and a kind of certainty I can depend on. Is it still possible to fully open to and truly get lost in another person’s story without losing myself? Perhaps surrendering my current fixed image of self to the emotional guidance of a good book, if only for a short period of time, is exactly the point.

differently

I don’t realize how rigid I have become, in my thinking, in my ways, in how I see, until I start to mess with tradition. It’s one thing to be flexible when it is my intent to cook a daily meal from what is there, or stay open to how a day might unfold in a magical way. But when I contemplate substituting brandy for anisette in my beloved family Christmas cookies, I actually feel panic. What if the cookies don’t taste the same? It is such a ritual, making the kurebies, the white sugar coated butter almond crescent cookies from my Albanian grandmother’s recipe. The irony is, the recipe calls for either anisette OR brandy. I have always used anisette, always. I always make these cookies on Christmas Eve for my father after he has arrived with my mother for the holidays. He always helps in some way, rolling dough into shape or simply just being a witness to this tradition that I imagine is the embodiment of Christmas magic for him as a child. Making Christmas for my mother and daughter has been in the joy of making stockings each year, creating context for the anticipation of unexpected pleasure in opening so many tiny wrapped things. For Ben it is setting the rhythm of family time spent together, the meals shared. He is a master of saying the blessings each year and we ritually clasp hands and wait for him to speak. He marks time by the events of family gathering. And by the end of this holiday, he will be talking about and counting the months until our annual summer vacation with all the cousins.

This year, everything is being done just a little bit differently.

The break with tradition of the past 20 years started with Thanksgiving. Instead of traveling to my parents, we simply stayed home. And we all had a really good Thanksgiving in our respective communities. It didn’t feel like a loss or a decision made in angst or even a permanent one. We simply had a lovely holiday, truly grateful for the space to feel something differently. On the strength of this bold move, we then decided to change the rhythm of time spent at Christmas so that my parents could attend their own community Christmas Eve service. Ben will spend Christmas Eve with his father this year. Everyone will arrive here Christmas Day instead of days before. There will be no Christmas morning sitting in a circle opening Santa stockings and gifts in the dawning light of the day in front of the ornament laden tree that I usually put up and decorate just days before. Space is being created for the celebration of something anticipatory and delightful in a different way and I am reluctantly finding my way to occupy it, uncomfortable with letting go of the rituals I have initiated all these years.

It feels like something lost, not waking to a houseful to delight on Christmas morning, so elemental and pure that the pain of its perceived loss actually has me here weeping as I write these words. How silly, when people are actually starving and homeless. I realize that letting go of the rigidity around traditions might be the little girl in me letting go of something she thought she needed all these years. Making Christmas has served me well. But in the end, it is the balance of giving and receiving that I really yearn for. When all the stuff is stripped away, it is the people and the love inside each one of them waiting to be discovered that is still there after all. In this, any new thing is possible. That will always be a cause for celebration.

There is a profusion of holly that lives outside at my front door. Huge bushes that are now so overgrown these past few years as to make a prickly passage out.

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It is an invitation to prune and bring the dark green berry laden branches inside, considered sacred in Druid days even before Christianity, I could mix them with light, make new magic. After bringing in a basketful of holly cuttings I realized they would be poisonous for the dogs on the windowsills I want to decorate. So I had to let that image go too.

It is the solstice. On this shortest day of the year, I am led to celebrate with lots and lots of light. I give my awareness to this. Brain scrambling to figure out what to do with what I have, the white corded multi colored lights in the basement won’t do, I need green cords and little white lights. I don’t want to get in the car to go spend more money if I don’t have, receive a fleeting thought of a box in the garage, long forgotten. The strings of lights I used each year to light a tree outside! The box is just where my memory leads. Except it is not the old lights, but four brand new very long strings of brand new little white lights on green cords. It is a thrilling discovery! I don’t remember buying them or using them, but there they were, as if just waiting for my call. There is enough length to double and triple runs on the windowsills, more than making up for the loss of integrated holly now safely contained in a large basket,

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and enough to fill my large picture window facing the street as a beacon of good cheer in the many dark hours of this time.

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And when the lights get turned off, I will be treated to the sparkling display of diamond light from the icicles forming outside in the cold. Light even in the light.

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This year I added lebkuchen** to my usual repertoire of cookies. I gave myself to the effort of making these thick chewy cookies weeks in advance of the holidays and now let my body receive the delicious rich spice of the softening unadorned confection each morning for breakfast. Plenty were decorated though, each with their distinctive candy heart,

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and will await Christmas Day, to accompany the regulars, the kurebies, Swedish butter tarts, and chocolate glazed mostaccioli onto the dessert platter.
**Lebkuchen

(adapted from recipe that appeared in Nov./Dec. 1994 issue of Eating Well
magazine)

8-2/3 cups all purpose (unbleached organic) white flour
2-1/2 Tbsp. baking sofa
1 Tbsp. ground cloves
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground cardamom
2 cups ground almonds (I ground almond slices)
1/3 cup EACH candied citron and ginger, chopped fine
2 cups plus 3 Tbsp. honey
2 cups plus 3 Tbsp. unsulfered molasses
1/4 cup brandy
Confectioners sugar and/ chocolate for icing

Sift flour and spices together, twice, in a large bowl. Add almonds and candied peels.
Combine honey and molasses in saucepan and bring to gentle boil. Remove from heat.
Make well in center of flour mixture and slowly add hot honey mixture.
Gradually stir in brandy.
Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
Divide dough into (3) portions, place each on a piece of plastic wrap, flatten to thick disc, wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees, let dough stand out unwrapped to room temperature
Roll on liberally floured surface to 1/4″, cut 2-1/2-inch rounds and put on lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake 12-15 minutes, until bottoms are pale brown and tops are puffed.
Cool on racks.
Frost/decorate, or not (these lebkuchen are delicious just plain as is with coffee for breakfast). For sugar icing, mix confectioners sugar with whole milk or 1/2 &1/2 to desired consistency. For chocolate icing, melt 6 oz. semisweet chocolate, 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, and 1/4 cup butter in double boiler and mix thoroughly. Best if spread.
Store in airtight containers, up to 3 months un-iced. They are a bit hard at first and soften in container.

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punctuation

It is usually while I am walking, deep in the woods, that a word or phrase will come to me as a prompt for the next blog post. Most of the time it makes sense, becomes a perfect focus for bringing otherwise random thoughts together and helps maintain the flow of what is there. But in the past week when the word ‘punctuation’ kept appearing, I kept pushing it away. What a strange word. Even saying the four clumsy syllables out loud felt foreign, purposeless, without any redeeming quality whatsoever. I eventually started thinking about all the ways punctuation serves to shape writing and can give form to past, present, and future. If there was no punctuation there would be no way to pause, to take a breath, to let a thought or feeling evoked by the words sink in and settle.

Understanding how punctuation might serve in the visual world was trickier. Perception of a image involved non-hierarchical non-linear movement of the eyes. Where the eye pauses or stops is a function of how color and value and form interact. When done convincingly, it could be considered a form of punctuation. There was even a way to consider how punctuation might serve in the world of emotion. If we felt blissful all the time without the occasional pause or upset, would there be motivation for expressing gratitude, for seeking love, or opening to something new in joy.

I tried to imagine the energy of life as ALL flow and no pause.

I considered where punctuation served in my daily meanders through nature. I was particularly entranced with how the center of the paths were magically present after the two recent brief snows we’ve had, snow melted like a perfectly constructed sentence exactly where we typically walk. If the entire forest floor was covered in a uniform blanket of snow, I would surely need brackets to find my way. Now, the bends in these paths so clearly laid out in front of me like commas. My field of vision could extend just so far, forming a complete thought, until taking in the sight of the next bend.

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Coming to the pond after these first nights of frost and freeze I found marks on the frozen surface that guided my eyes from one place to another.

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I have long believed that the art in these moments lives in the space between my eye’s landings. The landings are the punctuation.

In contrast, the newly flowing waters in the brook after heavy rains and melting snow felt like the absence of all punctuation, where the swift motion connected rock and wood and air once again with it’s exuberant presence.

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Either way, the multi-dimensional quality of experience here in these sacred lands is punctuated in unique ways each time. Spaces in between a sound and a sight, between a feeling and a sound, between the sky and the trees, or the water and the the earth, are entered into continuously. This is where the art of being in nature lives.

It is now morning after a deep freeze. Our walk is punctuated by howling wind above, as if the swirl on the pond yesterday has lifted off, leaving the surface there opaque, harder to read.

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Finally, walking back into the house, I am excited to see if my new website has gone live. After a thirty year narrative of architecture career punctuated with quilt-making, I can finally see how this particular narrative would be completely illegible without this particular punctuation.   It’s taken me a long time to get here.

I invite you to visit http://kathyford.net. See you there!

butter

It is the time of butter. Lots and lots of butter. It starts with Thanksgiving dinner, the rubbed turkey lovingly rubbed with butter, pie crusts, the mashed potatoes, baked squash, and accompanying green vegetables, all heavily laced with butter. I wake up now in this space before the holidays thinking about all the baking I want to do, the cookies to be made, the butter that needs to be lovingly bought and used to produce these things I love to make.

I didn’t reveal to my parents the other night that the impromptu meal I had prepared, including the homemade apple tarts, actually contained two full sticks, a half pound, of butter. My father and I chatted about the pros and cons of salted vs. unsalted butter as I loped off generous pats of salted butter to add to the squash baking in the oven, to the onion potato chicken filling sautéing with some spices in a pan on the stove, and again to the spinach sherry sauce that would get poured on top at the end.**

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I told him that I only used unsalted butter to bake with, but in all honesty, it’s habit, and I’ve always been told unsalted butter is the ‘sweet butter’. Dad pulled a box of the salted out of the fridge and showed me how it is labeled ‘sweet cream butter’ and then how the box of unsalted doesn’t do the same. He was genuinely curious. It is genuinely confusing. My Albanian grandmother (dad’s mother) used only unsalted butter for everything. Makes sense you can always add your own salt to temper the taste. It is the spirit of the butter with or without salt, that coats and binds and makes everything taste better. After a little research this morning, I learned that salted butter has a longer shelf life. Unsalted butter might just be fresher, and that’s good enough reason for me to make the choice. And it doesn’t mean that salted butter won’t ever make it into my meals. I just feels good to have a baseline, a clear voice for how something will taste.

I have come to appreciate the baseline of dawn beginning to fill the sky each morning, the infinite and endless variations of light, dark and color that can signal the start of a new day. Dawn is always awe-inspiring. It is particularly beautiful at my parent’s east facing home, looking out over one of the magnificent finger lakes of western New York State.

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When I gave the ‘trunk show’ presentation on Sunday, I found myself talking about voice in relation to my quilt-making. Seeing so many of my pieces all up on the wall together in such a generous accommodating space was a thrill. Standing back and taking it all in at once, even I could see, finally, objectively, that there indeed might be a unifying voice informing the work.

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I shared about inspiration and context from which each of these quilts came, and in each case I could point to where the spirit of the quilt was able to emerge from spaces in between pieces of fabric, between blocks of assembled pieces of fabric, and even in spaces between quilted lines. And like the butter that binds flavors together, that spirit has its distinct individual flavor but becomes completely subservient to the context it has become part of.

It was a fun hour, and I was rewarded at the end when one woman looked right into me and said, “I can feel your joy.” End of story!
**Harvest Squash Bake

2 small acorn squashes, cut in half, seeds removed
2 medium potatoes, skinned and diced (small, pinky nail size)
1 medium/large onion, finely minced                                                                                          1/2-3/4 lb. chicken breast, small dice like potatoes
Handful fresh parsley, minced
10-12 oz. fresh spinach
Dry sherry
Tarragon, salt & pepper
4 oz. (1 stick) butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Find baking dish to just fit squash with a little room left over, oil the pan, arrange squash so they are snug up next to each other. Put a pat of butter in bottom of each. Bake for 15 minutes while preparing stuffing.

Sauté onion in two tablespoons butter in a pan large enough to hold both onions and potatoes comfortably. When onions are translucent, add potatoes, chicken, and a splash of sherry, a few shakes of tarragon, parsley, some salt & pepper. Sauté for a few minutes until potatoes begin to sweat and cook and are coated with sauce. Turn off fire and cover.

Turn oven temp. down to 400 and bring out squash. Fill each half with filling. If there is leftover, mound on top and let extra bits fall over if necessary. Bake for another 20-30 minutes until vegetables are all fork tender. Turn off oven. In the same saute pan, add remaining butter over medium heat. When just melted, add spinach in bunches and stir until all wilted. Add sherry, salt & pepper to taste. Evenly distribute mixture over baked vegetables and and place pan in warm oven until ready to serve.

Makes 4 servings.

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eternal return

Today I drive west into the very familiar territory of western New York State. The car will be loaded with a dozen and a half quilts, two dogs and an overnight bag. Tomorrow I will present a ‘trunk show’ at the Schweinfurth Museum in Auburn, where one of my quilts is hanging as part of their current ‘Quilts Art Quits’ exhibition. In the quilting world of speakers and programs, a trunk show indicates that the speaker will be bringing actual samples of quilts in addition to her presentation. The pile of quilts now folded on the table spans twenty five years.

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There are so many stories embedded in each piece, energy of a lifetime woven into each design. I’ll talk a little about this, and about my nearly finished manuscript ‘Meditations of a Quilt-Maker’ that weaves many of these stories together. About how composing a quilt for me, captures the creative spirit of composing a life.

Taking each one down off the wall this morning, shaking it out, running my hands across each surface, and gently folding in preparation brought me back to this truth. I realize now how significant it is to have actual quilts in hand to share, how important it is to feel the soft visceral quality that can emanate from a something made with time and love. I sit here now surrounded by the stark bare walls that I began with here in this new home two years ago. It feels like an eternal return. A blank slate again that at the same time contains everything that is precious and truly colorful. Filling the walls with my quilts has felt like the most natural thing in the world to do. Not from vanity or even expediency. But from that place inside that yearns for another glimpse of the core in me that I keep coming back to.

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It was a sweet Thanksgiving this year, prepared for and celebrated here in this home, shared with just a few, but no less significant for the heartfelt thanks we each expressed for being right here where we are. Returning today to the part of the world that always evokes home for me in the deepest way feels right too. I will visit with my parents, drive roads I could drive with my eyes closed, except I will be soaking up the familiarity with eyes wide open, celebrating this return too.

After my presentation I will return home to the view of a world that greets me each morning, another kind of eternal return, always different, infinite combinations of light and dark, always potent and full of promise.

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I wonder if I’ll put the quilts back up where they had been living these past few years. Maybe it is time to fill these walls with something altogether new.

making change

I was out with the dogs on leash at 7:10 this morning. Almost balmy warm after a day of rain. The burning bush and bittersweet flamed in the early morning gray.

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The thought was to just walk the roads. Just give Yogi and Nora a change in routine to appease their agitation this morning, wondering if was an after effect of this recent full moon that has had Yogi awake and whining incessantly at 4:00 each morning. Or if he has just gotten into a habit that needs to be broken with some sort of change.

The thought of keeping them on leash for an entire time outside is new. Walking on leash has always just been for getting to or returning from the woods. I could feel my mind closed to the idea of actually walking in the woods with their leashes on. It would be too hard. But as we approached the end of the dead end road that offers one of the many entrances we take into the woods, I couldn’t turn around. The dogs weren’t pulling like they could, weren’t making my decision to just continue onto our woodland path a difficult one at all.

We walked a short loop through a section of the woods I love, on leash. It was most likely an actual road at one point in time, now soft and spacious with the downed leaves that unified the ground. At this early morning hour there was an accentuated hush. Yogi and Nora indulged my many stops to just take in the stillness and beauty that seemed to be saying, yes, making change is good. Everything was so familiar from our years of walking this path path together, unattached and untethered. I can always see them and their way from a distance.

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But maybe being here working together can work too.

Beliefs about being with the dogs and giving them what I thought they needed might be able to change because of this one conscious shift in routine. We can adapt. My rigidity about thinking the dogs had to have their off leash time with me in the woods each day to be happy dissolved. With winter approaching, it felt good to have some options.

Making change seems to be the issue. I have felt the stress of post election shock at just how much of an issue it is and to what lengths some might go to make it happen. Clinton was my choice for change. In the wake of so much despair over the reality of Trump being elected, I am trying to listen to other perspectives. I think making change is tricky. There is a logical way to approach it with known outcomes and there is an intuitive way to approach it without known outcome. I think about Ben who will probably never be able to make actual monetary change in an typical way. His brain just can’t do it. And yet, he makes brilliant changes in his life, changes that make a difference to his health and well being and relationship to others, every day because he wants to. There is no filter to what he feels. What he thinks and feels is completely transparent, supported, and respected. It is a different kind of logic that can only work if we are all open to it. He’s not wired for shutting down and hiding. I need him in my life to remind me of how important this is to having authentic dialogue. He needs me to support him maintain his motivation to live a productive interdependent life. We need each other.

A few days after the election I felt inspired to try to get a selfie photo of me and Yogi.  But he was having none of it and ran off to his beloved water to romp.  I turned instead and saw myself in the light of the moment on the path we were on and snapped.  The change that happened for me that moment was in really looking at myself as I know others see me, instead of some limiting belief I have of myself that routinely prevents me liking any photo of myself.

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The political divide that lives in this country lives in my own family. There has been very little communication between us since the election. Not because we don’t love each other, but because we do love each other. The divide is very deep. I finally sat down and wrote to them, my Beloved Family. And in doing so, I realized I could also be speaking to the family of citizens in this country I love and belong to. So I share this letter here too, in the spirit of opening to a new way….

Dear Beloved Family,

After days of reading and watching and listening and feeling the shock and dismay I know we all feel for one reason or another, I am finally able to try to clarify where I am with the election and the reality of a country divided.

I realize I’ve been lucky to have so much time and space to give to this. Having the ability to step back and make the choice to take it all in and truly listen is also a product of the choice I have made to live the way I do. I realized today that I have to stop apologizing, if only to myself, for my way. I have stopped thinking I should be doing more or thinking differently. I have stopped thinking I am a lesser human being because I do not have a life partner or live with a conventional kind of community and social life. I want to start asking questions and having real dialogue. We are a family divided politically and like what is happening in this country, I fear that love, while most critical on the road to acceptance, might not be enough. How an authentic dialogue can happen is still unknown to me, but at least I can start with sharing with you what I believe right now, knowing all too well that changing a belief, and the ability to change one’s mind, can happen in a heartbeat.

I believe in connection. I believe that connection with other human beings, with the Earth, and with my self all hold equal value.

I believe everything I do is work, whether I am writing, baking bread, making a quilt, making a home for my dogs, designing a building, or being a conscious human being. I’m lucky enough to be paid for some of it. I don’t take that for granted, and I don’t apologize for the privilege that my education and family support has provided me that allows me to make the choices I do.

I believe in personal responsibility. For my health, for my growth, for my ability to contribute to the world I live in in a positive way, and for how I treat other human beings. It pains me to think that there are so many in the world that are so defended and traumatized from life experiences that taking this kind of responsibility is impossible. All I have to do is look at Ben though and know that it is possible to overcome disability and take that responsibility, to the best of your ability, if you are motivated.

I believe that how we do relationship with others begins with how we ‘do’ family.

I believe that taking personal responsibility will always be in relation to something bigger than me or mine. I also believe in that dark night of the soul place that would have me make the choice between ‘me’ or ‘them’.

I believe in our constitution and the freedoms of this country. I believe it is a more complex world than when this young country was established and that a middle ground is possible between the protection of individual freedoms envisioned back then and the protection of our society at large now.

I believe that there is great deep seated fear, amongst both women and men alike, to women having the same power as men.

I believe that talking about what we don’t like or what we are afraid of can be a self fulfilling prophecy if that’s all we talk about.

I believe in being the change I want to see.

I believe in seeing the other side of any issue to the best of my ability, giving benefit of the doubt, and in never making assumptions.

I believe that the consequences of giving someone like Trump the voice to unleash the horror of white supremacy and acts of terror, unchecked, become the responsibility of every American to deal with right now, whether you voted for him, or Clinton, or didn’t vote at all.

I believe in listening and being open to change my mind. This is so hard though, and I am the first to admit how stubborn I can be. But I believe with all my heart that this is most productive thing I can do as a citizen of this country, and of this world.

It’s been a tough year for this family. I hope we can continue to find creative ways to keep sharing despite the gaps and the distance.

I love you all so much.

Kathy