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Tuesday Poem–Thank You Debbie Ford

There is nothing more beautiful than a warrior woman standing in her power, courage and confidence. From this place of strength she is capable of loving the world in a way that transforms pain into promise…and hell into heaven.   Debbie Ford Debbie Ford

I have read a number of Debbie Ford books. Some of it I didn’t always understand…a little too woo-woo in the beginning for me. But now I am more woo-woo, her words make even more sense.  This quote of hers quote inspired me to write this poem:

To the Warrior Woman

Here’s to the warrior woman
who started in someone’s shadow
to shine on her own
to shine alone
to shine in the dark
in confidence.

Here’s to the warrior woman                           Image result for greta thunberg
who didn’t listen to those who said
you’re too young
too dumb
too naïve
to row across an ocean of indifference
to light a fire in a movement


Here’s to the warrior woman
who battles pain
to use her power to make change
to share wisdom
to share her heart
longer than expected.

Here’s to the warrior woman
not sure of herself
but knowing that it’s time
to change hell
into heaven
one day at a time
one step at a time
making little things
raising children
raising funds
raising hope.

Thank you.






Thankful Monday–Erma Bombeck

I have always appreciated women comics. Betty White, Carol Burnett, Ellen DeGeneres, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, to name a few. I don’t keep up with the newest ones, but I laugh when I hear them. The last few weeks I have felt the need for one of my first woman comic writers—Erma Bombeck.Erma Bombeck

She had a way of expressing simple, every day life. Erma published more than 4000 newspaper columns and 15 books. When I started reading her in the Sioux City Journal, I was  a teenager. I didn’t always get what she said about raising children at the time, but now I think she nailed my childhood and those of my peers perfectly.

Here are some quotes from her:

Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.

My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.

Given another shot at life, I would seize every minute…look at it and really see it… live it…and never give it back. Stop sweating the small stuff. Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what. Instead, let’s cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us.

adorable angry animal animal portrait

Photo by Pixabay on

Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain love for one another.

Cats invented self esteem.

No one ever died from sleeping in an unmade bed.

My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.

Success is outliving your failures

It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.

A number of years ago I went on my first women’s retreat with my church. I knew one or two people there fairly well, but most hardly at all. I sat next to one of the women who always looked perfect. We were sharing pieces that we liked and she brought this one from Erma Bombeck.

Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit. This year nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen?

Somehow I visualize God hovering over earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.

“Armstrong, Beth; son. Patron saint…give her Gerard. He’s used to profanity.”

“Forrest, Marjorie; daughter. Patron saint, Cecelia.”

“Rutledge, Carrie; twins. Patron saint, Matthew.”

Finally He passes a name to an angel and smiles, “Give her a handicapped child.”

The angel is curious. “Why this one God? She’s so happy.”

“Exactly,” smiles God, “Could I give a handicapped child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel.”

“But has she patience?” asks the angel.

“I don’t want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she’ll handle it.”

“I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I’m going to give her has her own world. She has to make her live in her world and that’s not going to be easy.”

“But, Lord, I don’t think she even believes in you.”

God smiles, “No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect – she has just enough selfishness.”

The angel gasps – “selfishness? is that a virtue?”

God nods. “If she can’t separate herself from the child occasionally, she’ll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn’t realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a ‘spoken word'”. She will never consider a “step” ordinary. When her child says ‘Momma’ for the first time, she will be present at a miracle, and will know it!”

“I will permit her to see clearly the things I see…ignorance, cruelty, prejudice….and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life, because she is doing My work as surely as if she is here by My side”.

“And what about her Patron saint?” asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air.

God smiles, “A mirror will suffice.”  Erma Bombeck

At the time I thought it was a clever and humorous piece. Then a few years down the road I met the woman’s daughter and realized that Erma had nailed it. Perfectly.

Poem (and thoughts) based on Sharon Salzberg’s words

We can always begin again. Sharon Salzberg

This quote which I sent my friend more than a year ago stirs up emotions for me. Beginning again felt like it meant admitting failure. If I didn’t say I was going to be neater, maybe people just assumed I hadn’t like it. If I didn’t keep up running, maybe there was a physical reason and people wouldn’t ask why. I didn’t have a habit of smoking so I didn’t know what beginning again to save your life would be like. Researchers in a University of Toronto study state that it takes at least 30 times for someone to go without smoking for a year. So maybe the number of times I’ve revised Postcards from Hollywood isn’t as bad as I think. Here’s the poem I wrote based on Ms. Salzberg’s quote:

Thoughts on Beginning Again
Maybe it’s not beginning again
maybe it’s really beginning for the first time

Beginning to see that those unlike us
are more like us than different
feel like us
hurt like us
desire like us
could be us
could save a life.

Beginning to see that words that hurt bring more hurt
that violence begets violence
that war begets war
that it would be smarter not to begin hate
Begin peace instead

Maybe we began once but it was the wrong beginning
Maybe we can revise our beginning
maybe it’s the 18th time that’s the charm
or the 30th

If we begin again


Sunrises seem like you get a beginning again. This sunrise was in South Dakota recently. Thanks Ruth Sarar for the picture; Sharon Salzberg for the quote.




Thankful Monday–My Bathroom

It is 17 degrees out and snowing as I write this. My cat has found a new img_20191028_072500760-1place in front of the heat register in the bathroom as she pretends she’s in a garden. As strictly an indoor cat, she appreciates our bathrooms. Sunny watches water drip, examines my body when I bathe, and lays in front of the rug in front of the register, sprawled out like she’s on a beach. Now she can enjoy a little altitude and the heat at the same time.

On a day like this, I too, appreciate our bathroom. In fact, for that matter I appreciate most bathrooms. And this week, I have learned to appreciate it even more.

img_20191022_114058940My friend Jane agreed to help me out with painting it. By helping out, I mean she painted the whole thing and I fed her lunch. She also accessorized it better with a new shower curtain and towels to go out together. She rearranged things; hung pictures; and made it the best-looking room in the house. Every time I go in there, I feel like I’ve walked into the wrong bathroom. I may host Thanksgiving dinner in the bathroom.

But while I appreciate Jane’s artistic flair, skill and our friendship, the fact that I and most Americans have a bathroom should make that room a room by itself to be treasured. This has been the case for me for many years.

Growing up, there were seven of us sharing one bathroom. The bathroom had the only door of the rooms on the second floor. Since I was greatly influenced by the writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, I transformed the dry bathtub into a make-believe covered wagon with my stuffed animals, dolls and supplies piled in. A wood chair became my team of horses. Using my dad’s neckties as reins,  I sat on the edge of the tub, crossing the Dakota prairies. I even envisioned the toilet as a large cooking pot over a make-believe fire. I had as many hours as I could playing in that bathroom, with the door shut. My love of the bathroom as a playroom could have explained why my older brother and sister one time had a stuffed bear jump out of a closet and scared me.

(Mischief often played a role in my family’s history of bathrooms. One family story is that one of my uncles shot a BB gun from his bedroom, aiming for one of my aunts as she made her way to the outhouse. I hope he got punished accordingly but I have to admit the story made me laugh. More recently I had a daughter dump a shovel of snow as I took my evening bath. My revenge is yet to come….)

While my town friends had houses that had more than one bathroom, I learned that my bathroom with the funky toilet and a make-believe covered wagon was more than what others had. One of my first experiences with bathroom privilege came when I was in grade school. My sister brought some Native American kids home from where she worked. The set of twins were my age and we had a great time. But on Saturday night when we all took our customary bath, the kids were shocked that they could have their own water and not bathe in the water of the person(s) who had taken the bath before them.

That was back in the 60s in rural South Dakota. Now I have friends who on Mondays, except for days like today, volunteer at a mobile shower unit at the Irving Street Library in Westminster. There people can take showers, get clean underwear and once month do a load of laundry…as long as the temperature is above 40.

On a day like today I have access to two bathrooms, but roughly 40 per cent of the world still doesn’t have access to a toilet. Per Global Citizen 892 million people worldwide still practice open defecation (disposal of human waste in open areas such as fields, forests, bodies of water, etc.) because they do not have access to sanitation services of any kind.

This results in the spread of diseases which kill people. In addition, women face danger of harassment or assault. Various organizations are working to combat this problem. One I am looking into is called Who Gives A Crap. You buy ecological toilet paper from them and they in turn build toilets with some of their profits.

So as I enjoy my new bathroom, I am thankful for friends like Jane who help me achieve a better looking house and my friends like Bev and Jim who help homeless have the dignity of a shower. I am grateful for the nightly bath, the memories of a childhood filled with books and a bathtub turned into an imaginary wagon,  and the hope that someday all may have a bathroom they can call their own.

Thankful Monday–21 Things

1. Taking an afternoon and going to Barr Lakeimg_20191017_142048200-1
2. Seeing pelicans on the lake (those are the white things on the water).
3. Hearing the cottonwood trees’ leaves rustle
4. Clouds
5. Remembering Joni Mitchell’s version of Both Sides Now–“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now.”
6. My husband and dog napping in the living room (I don’t know where the cat is)
7. Squash
8. Baking squash biscuits (they were supposed to be sweet potato but I had squash)
9. Baking artisan bread (boy I do appreciate baking things).
10. The blue jays that feast on the ear of corn my husband leaves out for them
11. His joy when he adds a new bird to his bird list
12. Zen Habits, the blog
13. Discovering a new blog that looks good–A Year of Living Kindly
14. People like Jimmy Carter–he seems like he has lived a life of living kindlyJimmy Carter
15. Coming closer to the finish of my next book Postcards From Hollywood
16. A friend who offers to help paint your bathroom
17. Technology that lets me see special pictures from CA, NY or Bhutan of loved ones
18. The maple tree across the street
19. A pie safe that now three generations of Canters have had

20. Elections–I mean, what would be the alternative?
21. October

If you’re in the Denver metro area, think about joining me at the workshop I am running called A Different Kind of Christmas on November 2 at Arvada United Methodist Church. I’ll give you some ideas on making it a holiday that you find special. Shoot me a message if you want more info. 

Thursday Poem–Thank you Abraham Joshua Heschel for the Inspiration

“People of our time are losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state–it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle…. Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions.” Abraham Joshua Heschel


Let us celebrate
a run in the morning
a battle with the computer
a visit to a new home
without tears, without fear
If that’s not worth a warm bath, what is?

Let us celebrate
technology that has taken us far to the galaxies
but leaving our respect for a cathedral 800 years old
ravaged, but not totally destroyed
along with the spirit to rebuild.
If that’s not worth a glass of merlot, what is?

Let us celebrate
those who fight injustice
whether on the public stage or on a street corner
taking the uncomfortable road so that others gain comfort
shining their light so others can see.
If that’s not worth giving a damn or more, what is?

Let us celebrate
a calm night
a warm bed
waking up next to a husband of 42 years
If that’s not worth a cup of coffee that he made, what is?
Let us celebrate together.

art backlit dark dawn

Photo by Matheus Bertelli on


Thankful Monday

1. Visit with my friend Jane from New Yorkimg_20191008_120023187

2. Reconnecting with Debbie  as well
3. Taking a trip into the Rocky Mountain Arsenal
4. Cleaning the kitchen cupboard and consolidating two bottles of peppermint schnapps into one
5.Tie Dye t-shirts
6. Talking to 270 students last Monday and having it go well
7. School library staff
8. Having a furnace working on a snowy day
9. Making hayhand rolls and eating themimg_20191009_144205575-2
10. Allrecipes website to help me figure out how to deal use up the mystery shelf of ingredients
11. Colorado weather where it can go from 75 degrees to 20 degrees to 70 in less than a week
12. Realizing that I have to appreciate myself as much as expecting others to
13. Getting through hard stuff and knowing that you can
14. My family….near and far