On the matter of chores …



It’s a Speech & Language session, and as a way to make sentences involving action words and pronouns, we’re discussing chores. I ask Charlie, age five, what kind of chores he does at home; the things he does to help out.

“I no got chore!” Charlie states, proud.

“You don’t have any chores?” I ask, correcting grammar as I go.


“Don’t you pick up your toys?” I prod, explaining. “That’s a chore.”

Shakes his head.

“Why not?” Many kids today don’t have as many chores as they can actually successfully master, but most are at least asked to pick up after themselves, to put their dirty laundry in the hamper, or their dishes in the sink. In Charlie’s case, I know for a fact that his mom and I had a discussion about adding routines and responsibilities, and that she told me she had initiated some chores with him, one being picking up his toys. So I’m a bit flummoxed about his response. I take a longer look at him–is that a little twinkle in his eye I see? I wait.

“Because I no do good,” he says after a pause. Yep, definitely a smirk. There’s a story there.

“What do you mean?” I ask, keeping my face neutral, though internally I’m already chuckling. Charlie’s a pip. Angel-faced and flaxen-haired he is indeed a good boy, but it would not do to underestimate his little mind’s cunning. Whatever this is, I know it’s going to be fun.

He grins. “Mommy say I clean up room I get stars,” he begins, looking at me intently to make sure I’m going to ‘go all adult’ on him or something and critic him; or worse–tattle to his mom.

“Okay … so your mommy said that you had to clean up your room, and that if you did so you would get stars,” I repeat what he said, both to give him a model of better language and to make sure that I understood him–his grammar leaves many holes in sentences and makes his speech less intelligible than should be at his age. It is why I’m seeing him in therapy. I keep my face smiling gently, not promising anything but hoping to still encourage him to spill the beans.

“I everyday put all stuff under bed,” he states victoriously.

“You put all the stuff under your bed instead of back where it belongs?” I prompt, grateful for years of perfecting the occasionally necessary poker-face.

Bigger grin now. This was no error. This was planned. “Shoes and shirt and toy and book and sister pajama and pacifiers she throwed (sic) on floor …” he pauses for emphasis, “and mommy no find thing no more and mommy say I no clean up good. No more have to.”

I can’t help but laugh. Charlie 1: Mamma 0.

Told you he’s an imp.


Adele and the Penguin–a blog to behold

Needing some guidance? Oh, have I got a great spot for you to go to!!

If your life feels upended, out of whack, overwhelmed–here’s a splendid path for you to follow–check it out: Adele and the Penguin–making sense of an upside down world, is a delightful site in general, and to top this off Adele is currently running a series of practical, spiritual, and path-enlightening entries on how to manage life’s upheaval and find light aplenty through dark tunnels of tough stuff.

Down to earth, high on spirit.

Read it! To borrow Adele’s oft expression: This is fab!

In this awesome series, there are two installments down, one to go–read them now, so you have time to mill it over before the third one makes a show.

First Installment: Challenges for today’s brave Lightworkers and Healers

Second Installment: Initiation Portals for today’s brave Lightworkers and Healers

Third one coming soon and I am absolutely sure–worth it, so be in the know!

[While you’re at the Penguin, poke around. You’ll find gems in every link. Great stuff abounds!]

hope is d.tutu

In response to today’s entry re: portals--some thoughts, and much gratitude to the soulful words and instructing teachings of Adele (seriously, check out her website, you will not be sorry, and you’ll likely get a good laugh while you’re at it–she’s serious fun!):

So very important, Adele, and so true. For, yes … for the good to be distinct, we must KNOW what is bad, how to recognize it and how to forge a path to emerge from it into new homes. 

Like the oscillation of a pendulum, the higher we want it to go to one side, the lower it must go to the other. It cannot go up without repeatedly dipping down. We cannot soar without plummeting. It is comforting to know this is how it is done …

For light to be defined, we must know the depth of darkness. It is the bog of hopelessness that teaches the power of a ray of sunlight and a handhold. It is the horror of cruelty that magnifies an act of kindness and instills the absolute knowledge of the transforming power of empathy and love.

Let there be light in the darkness; let there be a handhold to have in the depths; let there be hope in the void; let there be help in the desperate corners of pain; let there be friendship in the loneliest places, let there be love to weave strength with in the most desolate place. Let there be new rising bright, rising wise, from the old.

Forest Portal

The Language of a Smile


This may be cliche to some, but not to me. I’ve seen it. Many times.

Just the other week, I saw a group of children–preschoolers–play at the airport, in the space between gates with flights departing to globe spanning destinations.

Some among the handful of kids spoke different languages, and none of them knew each other until a moment prior. 

Nonetheless, there was a long wait to be had, a few empty water bottles, a ribbon to pull, and play-ready age-mates to pass the time with. So they found a way. Their giggles filled the space with the ripple of childhood joy that knows no borders, religion, nationality, language, tradition, or race.

The children babbled to each other in their own respective languages, understanding not the words but at the very least enough to go on playing, to take turns, to get a notion for a silly something that sent waves of hilarity through the lot of them …

Adults sat nearby, keeping an eye on their child with a little less wariness of each other, now that their young ones felt so at ease. After all, these were just children playing together: they were not political statements or status symbols or religious flagships. They did not carry burdens of group-mentalities or dogmas or beliefs. It was okay to just be. To share a moment. And a smile.

For the adults, too, smiled. A careful, half-lip smile, weighted by whatever notions and knowings, history and worries adults often have for those they do not know and whose language they don’t understand. A half-smile it began but it grew warmer when eyes met following a child’s antic, a cute gesture, a silly face, a giggly laugh.

Like the children, the adults smiled the same smile in every language. Or rather, they smiled in one language–the one we all recognize and know by heart. The language of humanity. The language of a smile.


Laughter Medicine

There is something utterly contagious about laughter, especially the belly-laugh of children, the hilarity of babies and giggling infants, the impossible delight of guffawing kids …

Laughter rarely fails to make me laugh!

So am sharing this video — with a practically sure-proof laughter-guarantee — in case you need some laughter-medicine today …

Baby Laughing at Torn Paper…

May no day pass without points of merry,

and may there be laughter in your heart, each night, each morning,

each precious day. 

Merry be.

Labor of Love

A beautiful story. A work of love, a life of giving. Maude Callen epitomized the notion of a Healer, and she dedicated her life to those in true need with compassion, knowledge, and a loving spirit. I am grateful to have read about her today and to have learned about how she enriched the lives of many with such grace.
Blessed be.

Kindness Blog

Remarkable photos of South Carolina midwife who nursed 1950s community living in crippling poverty that inspired thousands of dollars in donations

Maude Callen This gripping image of Maude Callen caring for a young boy in South Carolina, 1951, was not published in LIFE

She was a ‘doctor, dietician, psychologist, bail-goer and friend’ to thousands of mostly African Americans crippled by poverty in the 1950s.

Yet tireless South Carolina nurse-midwife Maude Callen – who delivered hundreds of children, cared for the elderly and educated midwifery students in a 400-mile area ‘veined with muddy roads’ – never considered herself a hero.

W. Eugene Smith’s 20 picture-strong essay, splashed across a dozen pages in December 1951, was considered ‘one of the most extraordinary photo essays ever to appear in [LIFE] magazine.’

Maude Callen

Safe under her watchful eye: Maude Callen attends to a woman in labor

Maude Callen

Maude Callen handing over 17-year-old Alice Cooper’s son after a difficult…

View original post 361 more words

Find Joy!


Find joy in the places where sunshine streams inwards

Find joy in the friendships that sparkle the heart

Double over with mirth

Let belly laugh jingle

And all worry scatter

Find joy in a dance, in art, in creation

In mirroring pleasure

Where words do not matter


Find joy in belonging

In giggles with one like no other

In nature come close

And delight spilling over


Superhero Story


The little boy loves chocolate. He adores candy, cookies, florescent sour sticks. His idea of a balanced meal is french fries and ketchup with some chicken fingers on the side. He cringes at anything that grows on trees and runs away from any shorter plant life, especially those grown on farms with salads in mind.

He thinks brownies are a food group and can name all the junk food in the aisle of a mega-mart. He’s a keen critic of the varieties of cheese doodles, pasta shapes (no sauce), donuts, and icing from a can.

He perfected pouts and frowns to span the whole range of disgust, denial, and gradients of ‘no-way-Jose’ with which to respond to any and all attempts at offering healthy nutrition. You can dress vegetables however you like, try to hide fruit in a smoothie or an ice pop, claim that dried fruit are “as sweet as candy”–he sees right through the sneakiest disguise. The only way a vitamin will pass his lips is in a gummy.

His world revolves around sweets, snacks, and superheros.

Of the latter, he owns every size, shape, and denomination; in clothes, sheets, watches, slap-on-bracelets, stickers, backpack, cup, cap, hat, and mittens. He is genially inclusive of all superheros, identifiable by characteristic puffy chests, disproportionate arms, odd skin color (tending toward green), and various kinds of billowing plastic capes and armament. There are of course the Spiderman, Batman, and Superman, Green Lantern man, and Darth Vader, but also many others that adults keep confusing and, more’s the pity, cannot even name … 

The boy lives, breathes, sleeps, plays, narrates, and animates his superheros. He is rarely found without one–they are constant companions–at home, in the car, in the tub. He takes one with him to the toilet, for some friendly company and conversation.

He keeps a place at the table for his superheros. He lugs a carry-on packed with them onto the plane. He delights in having them, ecstatically anticipates upcoming birthdays and holidays as opportunities for enlarging his beloved collection.

Some may think his ‘fixation’ willful or limiting. They may frown upon his adulation of plastic figurines with overstuffed musculature and unrealistic proportions and stereotype. Others see him walk along the street in full superhero regalia, grinning, prancing, proud as rain … and they cannot hold back a smile. He is absorbed, enchanted and enchanting. At almost-four, he bobs easily in and out of the bubble of delight in mystery and magic-thinking.

His parents tolerate sheets and towels becoming capes, draping furniture, and sweeping fragile items off of shelves and coffee tables. They have learned to live with constant sound effects as Spiderman climbs walls and Superman flies atop buildings and other superhero this-or-that saves all manner of fallen toy-victims. His parents accept that going anyplace takes longer when there’s a world to rescue with each move, a hero to swoop wide from every stair, a never ending battle between good and bad to wage and master.

Speaking of battles … there is the matter of his aversion to tooth brushing. Sugary and colored yellow with sticky cheese powder, he refuses to allow any mention of teeth cleaning. He clenches jaws against attempts at probing. He flees, superheros in each hand, at the sight of toothpaste or mouthwash.

Oh, he has some valid reason to–medical professionals have spliced his little mouth all too many times in efforts to reshape what a birth defect distorted. They came from care, but his experience left him wary and refusing further vulnerability. He controls access to his mouth with iron will that puts maximum security detention centers to shame.

His parents despair — they loathe to force him when so much was forced already and yet they know that to neglect his mouth is to invite issues in the future and invasive dental work besides. They admit helpless caving in to his refusal. Embarrassed, they are torn between their worry for his pain and the need to work beyond it.

So we had a hubbub, he and I, and we’ve come to an agreement. An understanding. A plan of action. Superheros brush teeth, too, you see. They floss regularly with gusto. They gargle mightily. They epitomize mouth-care and a fighting spirit against germs a-hiding. The proof is seen in any superhero movie, cartoon, or poster; where one is certain to be dazzled by the light reflecting from their pearly white perfection ….

Now, superheros line the sink, the toothbrush is adorned with muscled plastic. Towel cape on shoulders, feet in puffy superhero slippers, he seeks to destroy all hidey-holey bugs that wish to burrow cavities.

Superheros brush teeth, too. Whew. Next, they will be eating vegetables…


Will she calm down when she grows up?

She always comes in style. 

Her own, that is: purple tutu over jeans and boots, flowered shirt under star-splattered sweater and deliberately mismatched socks, frilly short-sleeve shirts over chunky turtlenecks, her satiny pajamas with princesses on them, or a sheer dress under a sweatshirt along with leggings with holes in the knee.

Added to her ensembles are usually clues to the day she’d had: color splatter from finger painting at school, well placed smudges from lunch (shirts are so much more convenient than napkins!), crusted bits around her mouth that she refuses to wash off, unidentified grime, tears in filmy clothes that were not sewn with monkey-bars in mind.

It drives her mama nuts. Always impeccably put together herself, the mother is forever trying to wipe this or straighten that or offer alternate dressing solutions (that are summarily declined), and cannot contain her sighs and growing despair at her daughter’s flighty attitude toward cleanliness and matched-everything.

The girl? She could not care less. Or rather, she cares plenty, in her own way. Her language delay does not allow much expression of verbal subtlety (yet), but she certainly shows affinity to collating varied fabrics and textures and to weaving together combinations that feel artistically deliberate in an offhanded sort of way. She likes the way she looks. To me, this is more than good enough.

“Let her be,” I tell the mom one day when the little gal excuses herself to the bathroom and the mother follows her daughter’s mismatched wear with agonized eyes. I am admittedly somewhat amused at the perceived gulf between them, which in fact says a lot more about their similarities than differences. They are both acutely interested in how they look. It is just the “how” that may seem different … One immaculately coordinated harmoniously to appease the eye; the other explosively expressive in riotous combinations that cannot go unnoticed for their mishmash.

“It may not be how you’d choose to dress her,” I press, knowing that this little gal’s fashion-sense is pushing her mother well outside her comfort zone, “but there’s beauty in her freedom. She’s four, and she’s got a keen sense of her own being. I think it’s brilliant.”

The mother looks pained but nods in resignation. She understands, even if she does not quite love knowing it. After all, she does let her only daughter leave the house “all messy” and “in awful combinations,” and she generally suffers the seemingly incongruous pairing of the pretty clothes she buys for her not-so-cooperative princess. Ever hopeful, she fills the child’s closet with beautifully matching outfits that the girl turns into wild-combos in a blink of an eye: chunky socks with her patent leather or frilly tights under short jeans.

“I want her to be her own little person,” the mom whispers. “I just wish she was a bit less … how shall I say it … visible about it …”  She blushes then, fussing with the satin hem of her tailored dress with carefully manicured fingers. “Do you think she’ll calm down when she grows up?” she adds, hesitating, vulnerable.

I smile. “I don’t know,” I answer gently. “What would ‘calming down’ mean to you? Or for her? Who would she ‘calm down’ for?”

The water flushes in the bathroom and the little girl can be heard singing “fly me to the moon” at the top of her lungs as she washes her hands (splashing all around the sink, I am quite sure–she finds special pleasure in the way water droplets spatter and in how soap foam squirts between fingers). The mother looks up and we both grin. Such effervescent joy is contagious.

“She’s a free spirit,” she sighs. “I think I was a bit like her, at her age. Then I got too concerned with what others thought … and maybe lost the spark.”

As the little girl prances back to us, she swirls the edges of the tutu peeking under the shirttails of her button-down flannel over holey jeans. She has one brown sock, one purple with blue polka dots. Her tennis shoes have stickers and possibly some grape jelly on them. She’s radiating ease and unfettered delight.

“Maybe there’s nothing to calm down,” I offer. The girl’s a sight, for sure. A balm for sore eyes and achy hearts, too.

Mom takes a deep breath. Nods. She’s working on it. It is all one can truly ask …


Sky-High Practicality


Seven hours into a twelve-hour flight the other night, an adorable (and chatty) curly top three-year-old in a nearby row: “Mommy, I don’t want to stay on the airplane anymore. My legs want to run.”

Mommy (sounding similarly fed-up if not run-ready): “I know, Sweetie, but we can’t get off right now.”

Curly Top, miffed, tone slightly rising toward whine-a-thon: “Why?”

Mommy: “Because we’re very high up so we can’t go out now.”

Curly Top: “We’re in the sky, Mommy?”

Mommy, voice disheartened: “Yes … we’re up in the sky.”

Silence. Then Curly Top again, pensive with a touch of wonder filtering in: “Mommy, we flying?”

Mommy: “Aha … the airplane is way up high because we’re flying.”

Another silence, followed by bubbly cheerfulness in the toddler’s voice: “Oh, that okay Mommy! We can just fly down right now!”