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Bursting into new life

When my baby was born, I read while breast feeding. My mom, who had previously been banished from my home by my husband, was welcomed back to help care for our jaundiced baby. She would read to me, or I to her, while the baby sucked away at my breast. It was profoundly peaceful, and healing. 

One of the poems I read was from a book my best friend gave me to celebrate new life: Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems. 

This is the poem fragment that gave me courage to leave a dangerously bad marriage.

Rain. (Part Seven)

At night

Under the trees

The black snake

Jellies forward



The stems of the bloodroot,

The yellow leaves,

Little boulders of bark, 

To take off

The old life.

I don’t know

If he knows

What is happening.

I don’t know

If he knows

It will work.


I read that, constrained in my old life, knowing I was bursting out of an existence that was too small, too tight, painfully restrictive. I didn’t know how, and I didn’t know when, but I knew that eventually, to survive, I would need to leave my husband. 

I identified with that snake. Something was happening. (I was a mother. My protective instincts that had dulled for myself were sharpened again.)

“I don’t know if he knows it will work,” I read, and I suddenly knew.

It would work. 

I would leave my husband, safely, and leave the skin I had outgrown, the life constraining me.

The home, the husband, the job, the life–a mere shell, a skin that I am bigger than. In the natural order of life, snakes outgrow their skins, they shed them, and grow a larger one. The snake may not know what is happening, but the natural order takes over.

Time to shed my skin. 

It will work. 


Battered No More

I started this blog in 2014 when I was trying to figure out how to live with abuse in my life.

Abuse at work. And abuse at home.

I left the battery. I’m recovering now.

I left the clinic. I’m recovering professionally.

I left my husband. I’m recovering emotionally.

Finding myself, once again, in a state of non-not.

I’m not married. I’m not not-married.

I”m on my way.

Not-Not Defined

We moved recently, and settling into our new apartment, I found a folder with the old construction paper signs I had created in college to decorate the walls. Including the yellow-lettered construction paper not-not sign.

The definition of Not-Not:

“Not-Not is not the negation of anything. It is only an expression of itself. Not-not is aware that liberation exists in the indefinite.”


Happiest moments in my life

Eating jelly beans for breakfast.

Sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon, watching colors at play.

Winning 400 hurdles in high school.

Running along the Palisades at night, topless.

Lying under the trunk of a fallen tree on a soft blanket of snow,  cross country skis pointing skyward as snow flakes gently fall.

Hug from behind.

Watching the sun set in Senegal.

Running in the sprinklers.

Jumping into my future husband’s arms.

Hearing our baby’s heartbeat for the first time on ultrasound at 10 weeks.




What’s the opposite of paranoia? (The delusional belief that people are plotting your downfall or saying bad things about you behind your back.)
Pronoia! (The delusional belief that people are plotting your well-being and saying nice things behind your back.)

Not-Not Disease

I just read a poem over at the med lit magazine Pulse: Voices from the Heart of Medicine, that brought to mind that elusive state of not-not. Family physician Barry Shaver wrote a beautiful poem dealing with indeterminacy. I cut and paste below.

Schroedinger’s CT.


To be
And not to be…
May not be
So bad

Without this scan
We won’t know
If you’re living
Like the rest of us
Or dying
On a more compressed schedule

Once it’s done
You’ll be a zero or a one

Are you sure you want to know?





Dr Shaver could have renamed that moment after concern and before confirmation: not-not disease.

It may be disease. It may not be. 

It is neither and both at once.

Sickness and health. Doom and delight. 

Opposite states of being–being AND not being–compressed into one.

On the Craziness of Clinic

Oh! The craziness of clinic,

really what more can I say? 

Eight patients scheduled by ten o’clock

They never go away!

Double booking, triple booking, and a slow MA to boot

And no one’s sick of anything, except for life–I’m moot!

The real need for all the sick and tired in this mess

Is love and walks and happiness

and broccoli and rest.

To heal the sick and wounded souls who land within my care

I really need a yoga class, and gardens everywhere.

 This medicine thing is paining me

and is it helping them?

Give up the meds, the labs the tests

and heal all from within.