Hugs are Free…and so is Peace

“Free Hugs!”

The young man held up the rainbow colored sign announcing the availability of a warm embrace.

“I’d love one!” I exclaimed, and instantly I was encircled in the arms of a tall stranger and allowed my head to fall right into his chest.  I felt completely loved by someone I didn’t know.  It was a little piece of heaven.

I thanked the young man and hug took my seat on the green grass of Washington park with 300 or so other people to watch the cult classic Hairspray, and indulge in some Graeters peach ice cream topped with pecans.

There were straight couples, gay couples, a few drag queens, homeless people, poor people, rich people, black people, white people, I’m sure some purple people too.  It was a melting pot of the human experience lit up by lightening bugs and a peaceful harmony and a big movie screen.

I dug my bare toes in the grass, still filled with the warm fuzzy of a free hug, sweet peach in my mouth, enjoying a fun quirky musical about acceptance, inclusivity and tolerance, surrounded peacefully by 300 awesome spirits.

While the world often seems a place of pain and heartbreak, when the news feeds us daily pictures of death and terrorism; I am particularly grateful and touched by this evening.  It proves that we can live in harmony with each other.  We can sit down in the grass on midsummer night and revel in the pleasure that is peaceful acceptance and tolerance of our fellow person.

It can be done.  It must be done.  We must do better as humans.  Peace is achievable through simple actions…..something as simple as…

a hug.




It was grits and shrimp and a roux, accompanied by the sound of the violin wafting up from the square. The humidity hung its arms around me as I was lulled back in time. This place where present and past were one in the same, where nothing is forgotten and everything lives in a symbiotic harmony where pain and pleasure mixes together to form pure joy. Or maybe that was just the influence of the half naked dominatrix that just walked by in the cat mask and whip right in front of St. Louis Cathedral…..and no one batted an eye.
I guess that’s why I love this city so much, it’s duplicity in motion.
I had just come from a boutique where I made fast friends with the punkish 40 year old owner. She had a great glitter eye shadow and she was bold enough to rock it out.
“Are you from here?” I inquired.
“I sure am Baby, I love this city. I’m a New Orleans Girl.”

She had me at I’m a New Orleans Girl.

This Cincy Girl wanna be NOLA girl had to know.
“So what makes a New Orleans Girl?”
“Well Baby, when this city breaks your heart you never give up on her. And If you break her heart, she never gives up on you. That’s what makes a New Orleans Girl, you never give up on loving her. You never give up on the city you love.”
It was like God smacking me in the face.
That is why this city has lasted so long, and why it’s people are enchanting and why you never want to leave….New Orleans understands that heartbreak is a part of life, it’s a part of love. But it never gives up. It says, you may break my heart, but I will never stop loving you. This is the magic of New Orleans, the magic that we can manifest in our own love stories.
And that’s also when I knew….I was a NOLA girl too…I never could give up on love even all seemed lost, even when it broke my heart.  I was a lady of the crescent city, we didn’t give up when our hearts were broken or we broke the hearts of those we loved, we tried again, and again, and again….this is what makes New Orleans an ancient and eternal city at peace with itself, and why it’s able to lull it’s visitors into ease. Because you know here…heartbreak…isn’t the end….
It’s just the beginning of your lifelong love affair with a wild beautiful soulful town that will enchant you, frustrate you, and inspire the kind of passion you find in books.

Leaving Home to Go Home

“Gate 19 now boarding for New Orleans.”
Right on time. I am always right on time when I’m on my way home.
I sat down, no rush. Listening to a few creole voices on their way home made me tear up, which caught me by surprise. I was so happy and relieved to be going home, NOLA had an emotional hold on me. I was ready, I had been ready for months, NOLA is the place that spiritually resets me, it’s like she calls me back whenever she knows I’m in need of reminding who I am and why I am here. To love, to write, to give more than I receive, to make my mark, to leave my legacy.
I was leaving home to go home again. Cincinnati is always my home, I but I feel New Orleans is where my soul was set loose. Which takes me back to that moment of recognition in Pirates Alley with my beloved.
“I play violin. She’s a writer.”
He and I were both home in the city that celebrated music and rhyme.
I remember very distinctly how he said it so definitively in the introduction. It surprised me that he announced what I had always known in the recesses of my soul. He did not reference my day job, my career, he spoke the words I would never say out loud, that secret longing to write and be known as a writer, and wake up every morning and write, and go to bed ever evening and write, and capture those people I loved in words so that they would live long after they had left this world. To write words that someone might read and know, they were not alone.
We are living stories and writers have the immense joy and privilege of capturing this color of life in black and white type.
Some people see who you truly are and love you for it. He freed me to this public knowing with a simple introduction. And so, when I am in NOLA I always remember him and the gift he gave me. If it wasn’t for him I never would have come.
This is home, this where one goes to roam the wildness of wonderfulness.
You will know home by the pull, the energy, the longing to return over and over again. Even when you are separated physically, still home will call you, in dreams, in the gleam of the morning light glimmering on the patio as you drink coffee, in gentle sound of wind dancing in the trees, in the purity of the clear sky and the luminescent carpet of clouds underneath your feet ….as you fly.


There are No Words

I wanted to feel the circulation of life around me.

I walked hearing each tap of my shoes on the pavement, seeing each glimmer of purple and gold in the water feature, and breathing in the summer air full of roses and trees and bees. Gratitude flooded over me for the ability to once more watch the sun set over music hall, once more tell my daughter I loved her, once more wonder at the beauty of fireflies glimmering green in the evening light…. my eyes were open and I was awakened to what was always there…life…in all it miraculous glory.
This life…which a good boy experienced for the last time today.
A good boy died today.
He was 16.
He was 16 and loved baseball and golf. He spent warm summer evenings like this walking to the square with his friends to get Graeters ice cream.

He was gentle and kind.
He was full of 16 year old charm, the vigor of a life that is in its beginning, full of all possibility, and potential.
Anna thought he was handsome.
I thought he was an old soul.
And when I awoke this morning, and was informed of his passing.
I was consumed.
A gentle spirit taken too soon.
And when his father looked at me this evening, carrying the weight of everyone’s grief on his shoulders including his own, I could only say,

“There are no words.”
There are no words when a good boy dies.

“Annnnnnnd…..we wait.”

“Do you know what you want?”


“Then you wait.”


“It’s what me and my buddy say during negotiations when nothing is going on …Annnnnnnnnnd we wait.  You wait for what you want to happen, you know what you want, and it will happen you wait for it…with patience and discipline.”  I knew exactly what the brilliant labor professional M was talking about it.

During union contract negotiations there’s always this period of time when there is absolutely nothing going on.  Parties could be between articles talking back and forth about nothing and going nowhere, typically ending in hours of caucus, where more “nothing is going on” ; a lot of talking in circles.  A good mediator will recognize this and read the signs and wait for the right time or trigger to move the situation forward.  It truly is an art that M was a master at.  What he was also masterful was applying what happens at the bargaining table to real life.

I was in a relationship waiting period.  For the first time in my life after marriage, divorce,  many dating experiences and great heartbreak, and healing I had figured it out…finally.  I knew exactly what I wanted out of a relationship…but more importantly I recognized my deep desire to be in one.  And that is a feat in itself.  I had learned the values of truth, vulnerability, commitment, and that love gives and in the giving it is received back.  I learned that love is a gift, given without expectation of return, it is not conditional, it stays present during all conditions.  It stays even when the feeling of love is not present, love is the one unbreakable thing I know of.  But heartbreak really is the announcement of love into the world, it is the full realization of love, for in it’s loss you can understand the true depth of it.  There are so many other lessons learned that could only be learned by looking at my reflection in the pieces of my shattered heart.  But as time has gently pushed me like a wayward child into the present I find that these lessons of my full understanding could not come to me any other way.

As M gently held a space for me to recount my past, mindfully listening, I began to open up again as he validated my experience and reactions to past events.  I almost fell off the phone with his direct and witty responses to what seemed to be my perceived epic failure at relationship.  He had this amazing ability to validate me and make me feel safe, even when I made a mistake.

But most important was his advice for the time when you are not in a relationship.  You wait for what you want, you are disciplined, and you wait.  You wait for the man or woman that you have been dreaming about.   You stay open and free and know that when the time is right, they will be there for you and you will be there for them.

And so I wait….he’s worth it 🙂





“Oh For a Muse of Fire!”

Oh, for a muse of fire that would ascend

The brightest heaven of invention!-Henry V


What I wouldn’t kill for my muse to show up right now.  The writers wit, that vim, that vigor of words sprawled effortlessly out on to this page declaring some awe inspiring universal truth that awakens the reader.  That muse of fire, and yes my muse is a muse of fire because I’m constantly cold. I need humid scalding heat on my skin to rouse me, from the cold depths of a winter felt far to long.

I’m pretty sure my muse is waiting for me in NOLA, preparing my apartment for the week.  He is ensuring that colorful people and music are near by for me to be inspired by.  Maybe’s he’s waiting for my body and mind to be unshackled from the litany of medication necessary for me to take to get over this sinus infection.  I feel like my face has  been replaced by a river of mucus, the daily allergic reaction to the cottonwood trees which keeps my lungs constantly regurgitating coughs, my disc in my back started to yelp at me again after a two year hiatus from the pain of a slight herniation, so a litany of prednisone was placed in the medicinal cocktail, along with a smattering of highly effective multi-vitamins to treat what the doctor described as a vitamin deficiency that created “bad shocks (like for a car)” in my system that weren’t regulating the ups and downs of PMS.   Translation…two weeks out of every month I’m overly irritable, low energy, and feel awful.

Now…since I’m not a pill popper, I hate taking medication, in fact, I think honey cures everything…but…not this time.   It seems that I don’t have floral allergies thanks to honey, but bees don’t pollinate the cottonwoods, so I’m out of luck.  A bucket of honey won’t stop my eyes from wattering.

This is new for me.  I’m at the mercy of this physician magician’s mix of meds until Friday….then…I’m supposed to feel better.

Interestingly enough…I’m pretty sure this is an omen.  Something really great is about to happen.  My body is wiser than I am, it knows I won’t stop running unless it forces me to…like in a major way.  It needed me to take care of me and just stop for a minute….or at least a couple of days.

Normally, I would be cursing the stars…and my muse.  I can’t move, can’t breath, can’t write anything worth writing, but instead I feel really calm, like a dragonfly waiting for her wings to dry out a bit, right before she takes flight.

So maybe this is a practice in gratitude.  I am grateful to have access to good healthcare, a job that allows me the time off, and a good book to read as I sneeze.



So I Kinda Fell in Love….with a Viola

“The viola get’s such a bad wrap because there’s a bunch of frustrated violinists playing them.”- H…super cool Suzuki violin teacher quipped at me.

I wasn’t one of those frustrated violinist types.  I was one of those, oh my goodness I’m in love at first sound with the sultry lady of the low end.  I loved how she fit on my shoulder, how she was an alto, just like me, and the notes were warm and inviting and peaceful, not strung high or too low, balanced in the middle.

Weirdly,  I’d never sounded better playing on a viola. It’s like she forgave my clumsiness, or maybe it was because I adore the sound that comes out, it was all warm and gooey like honey.  She isn’t a persnickety instrument,  she didn’t ask for perfection,  she just wanted to go to work and make some music, and if I messed up, I could almost feel her shrug like…”whateve” I’m not going anywhere and we’ve got the rest of the piece to get through.

So I kinda fell in love with a viola, well…actually a little madly in love with a viola…so much so that I’m already practicing twice a day.

Okay, okay….you violinists out there can stop snickering now.  I’m happy as a lark  playing harmony and reading a clef that no one else can, and being a bit confusing….you know, like…”Is it a violin?  Or is it something like a violin?   People say I confound them all the time, why not be a instrumentalist who plays an instrument that no one else gets.  Thank you very much, I’ll take my seat on the outside of the orchestra please.