In her book of essays, poet Mary Oliver wrote, “…you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.”
It’s a lesson I learned the hard way, after breaking free of a very long, unhappy marriage. I learned it once more, as if to make sure I understood, when my Plan B failed to materialize into the kind of life I desired — and the only solution I could come up with was leaving, again.
My best friend told me, gently, and with regret, “I’m sorry to say that our problems generally follow us wherever we go.”
I don’t know why finding what we need in life and then being happy with it is so hard. I think most of us want the same things: connection, acceptance, affection, and respect. Love. Like most of the single, straight women I know, I’m still waiting — but I’m no longer lying awake nights hoping. After four years as a single person, most of it celibate as a nun, I’m learning the hard way that there is no lasting joy waiting just on the other side of grief. It’s just not that easy.
The essential question is this: is it…
A few years ago I was listening to a writer’s panel discuss the realities of a career in writing. The guest speaker, a handsome, successful writer, was asked, “What advice would you give to someone aspiring to a writing career?”
He answered, “Marry someone with a good job, someone who is NOT a writer,” and everyone laughed.
But I disagree with this advice. Based on long experience, I vote for not marrying out of your creative class. It’s important to be able to pay your bills and keep the lights on — but it’s also vital that your partner understands…
None of us has an easy life, because life is not easy. But I am easy to talk to and a good listener, a willing witness able to take in what my friends need to tell me. And so I hear about the marriages that withered, the heartbreaking miscarriages, the children who grew sick, the husbands who cheated, or worse. What could be worse, you may wonder? Don’t ask unless you are brave enough to hear the answer.
But when I listen closely, I hear in my friends’ voices the firebrand of resilience — and I know they will rise…
He wants to stay for a month, but a month is a long time to spend with a complete stranger. And my recent experience with a BnB guest who had to be forcefully evicted by my beefy next-door neighbor hasn’t left me in a trusting state of mind.
“OK…but we’ll reevaluate after two weeks,” I tell him, and he agrees.
I clean the house thoroughly, even going so far as to smudge the spare bedroom and the shared areas with sweet-grass and sage to dispel the unquiet spirit of my last house-guest.
But now that Mehmet is here, I try…
Every summer we traveled to the northwest woods,
Two boys and a couple in name only.
Ignoring the car waiting to be unpacked,
We changed into our saggy cabin swimsuits
And made our way to the lake.
Each year in the hollow of a waist-high stump
There grew a red begonia, in the middle of the forest.
Planted with love, watered daily,
Guarded by the occasional frost, it flourished,
Draping its fronds along the lichen-covered bark.
I paused for a moment as the kids ran ahead,
Wondering if the red begonia was
In honor of lost love, or a lost soul,
Before this spring, the last time I adopted a puppy was in 2010, and most of my memories of my male malamute mix, Rillo, are good ones. He’s been with me through the end of my marriage, dislocation, travels throughout the West, temporary living situations in four states, and a series of boyfriends that he generously considered a mixed bag, but he never bit anybody. And I wouldn’t trade his companionship, loyalty, and genuine love for all the riches in the world. I often tell people, “He’s the light in my forest.” …
My summer of beautiful women followed the breakup of my nearly-thirty year marriage. I left our family home in Portland for a vacation rental in McCall, Idaho — first with the intent to heal my body from an accident, and later, to heal my spirit after my long marriage came to an abrupt end. I rode my mountain bike, swam, kayaked, and hiked — mostly alone, except for the company of my dog, a huge malamute-mix. And let me tell you, friends, every woman in the turmoil of divorce needs a good dog.
As the cacophony inside my head began…
In the past decade of my life, dogs have become very important to me. When I defied my former husband to adopt the love of my life, now an eleven-year old snoring softly at my feet as I type, I did not know what a strategic, or inspired, decision that would be. If I could give any piece of advice to a woman about to undergo a divorce, it would be to get a dog and hold on tight.
As if it were the most appropriate thing in the world, on the wee hours of Easter morning, 2021, I had the most amazing dream. The kind that stays with you forever. And it occurred to me that it might contain useful wisdom for others, too.
I wandered into a new shop with which I was unfamiliar. It might have been some representation of a local pharmacy here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment. …