Tag Archives: Aging

I’m Adventure Girl. Just call me Lorie.

We hiked and camped Havasupai Falls. It was a big deal and it wasn’t. I mean, it was a gritty, dirty, mentally and physically exhausting ordeal that I briefly (for like a couple of hours) thought would kill me. So, yeah. Big Deal. Then, when we got there and my body stopped threatening to quit functioning (thank you Shasta cola),  I looked around and saw that I was practically in Heaven. Still a Big Deal.

What’s not a big deal? My whining and stuff.

I felt so stupid for not being prepared for what this adventure required. I mean, I’ve known we were going to do it since February. I upped my work outs six weeks or so beforehand and I’m in good shape. However there is a s-l-i-g-h-t difference between being “in shape” and what it takes to make it in and out of the Grand Canyon. Twelve miles of rugged terrain with at 40 pound pack on your back? I couldn’t imagine it. Who could?

Turns out my husband had a bit of a clue. Mark kept saying to take a pack to the gym, put weights in it and get on the treadmill or the stepper.

“I do the rower,” I told him. Because that makes perfect sense.
“If you were kayaking the canyon perhaps that would help,” he replied. “You need to work your shoulders more. Skinny chickens have fewer bones than you do on your shoulders.”
“I have broad shoulders,” I said.  To which he replied with what I considered a very sarcastic okay.  “And I do that overhead thingy where you pull it down to your chest and I use 70 pounds. Plus yoga and my circuits on the other machines.”
“I just don’t want you to be surprised.”

I was. Surprised. Shell shocked. To the core of my being and the floor of the canyon. I started out well but only four miles in was fading fast and in spite of being well hydrated, I couldn’t recover from feeling nauseous and weak. Energy chews, hydration tabs, dried fruit and an orange had zero effect. Actual food would have helped but I couldn’t even look at the sandwiches we brought. Kimmy was adamant that we keep moving, though she knew I was in trouble.

“You have to keep going, Mom,” she said. “They will walk right by you on the trail. They rescue nobody out here because so many have just up and quit.”
“I know,” I told her. “And I don’t want to quit.” I leaned over to the right, puked up my orange and we went on.

Three and a half miles further I came upon Kimmy and Monique off to the side. (Monique is a long time friend of Kimmy’s whom we’ve all adopted. She accepted our invitation to join Loran, Kimmy and me on our trip when Olivia was unable to go.) They hiked ahead because I couldn’t keep up and their concern was making me nuts.

“If I hear ‘are you okay’ one more time I’ll summon what strength I have left and belt someone. I’ll get there – just not as fast as you.”

This is, by the way, how the old and the weak were eliminated back in the day, and in this day I counted as both.

I collapsed onto a rock and unbuckled my pack.
“This is the last place you’ll have privacy to pee for a while,” Kimmy said.
Pee? I couldn’t even feel my body anymore. If my bladder was full it would have to phone it in. I was done. Cooked.
“Are you okay,” she asked.
I shook my head.
“I don’t know what to do,” I said. “I know we have to keep going but I’m spent.”
Apparently it showed in my face because both Kimmy and Monique looked worried.
“Where’s Loran,” I asked.
“She went ahead,” Kimmy said. “She had to keep moving or wouldn’t make it she said.”
I nodded. I understood and my brain felt the same way. The problem was it wasn’t completely attached to my body any longer. My brain said to do something and my body told it to fuck off.  A lot.
“Let’s go,” I said. Again – mouth attached to brain – body not listening.
“Can you walk without your pack,” Kimmy asked.
I shrugged then nodded, wondering where she was going with this.
“I’m gonna carry your pack.”
“Monique, help me get it on the front of me. Mom, let’s go. Just keep moving. We’re only about two miles from the village.”
So the littlest of my littles had her 46 pound pack on her back and my 40.2 pound pack on her front. That’s where she was going. I was consumed by guilt that could not manifest itself beyond a nagging feeling in the back of my mom brain as we made our way to the little village of Supai. Loran was there waiting and while Kimmy checked us in, ran to a shop and brought me the cola I spoke of earlier. Within minutes of consuming it I felt fine…..ish. I was able to continue and even managed to carry my pack when we got to the falls. It was on a sharp descent for about two tenths of the last freaking mile. Kimmy insisted she could do it but all I could see was her slipping and rolling all the way down the hill, end over end. She is my daughter after all.

When we finally reached the campsite we hung up hammocks, threw in sleeping bags, had a snack and collapsed into an awesome damn sleep. When we woke I was sure it had to be like 8:00 at night. It was 2:00 in the afternoon and the beginning of time not being an issue for three whole days. Phones didn’t matter. Work didn’t matter. Responsibility didn’t matter. Hiking mattered. Swimming in 65 degree pools of ancient blue water mattered. Wine and tequila and jerky and staying hydrated mattered. Jokes and stories and blisters and looking up at the stars every night while I fell asleep mattered. I didn’t fit well into my hammock. We couldn’t figure out why because it was the same one Kimmy had and hers cocooned around her. I guess that extra half a foot of legs and my linebacker shoulders made the difference. It wasn’t as comfortable as it might have been had I purchased a hammock in the ‘Tall’ section of REI but I managed in an I Love Lucy Goes Camping sort of way.  My piece of night sky made it worth every adjustment and readjustment.

I lay there the first night missing Mark like crazy, wondering what in the world I thought I was doing in the wilderness without him. I should mention here that we went to sleep just after dark. In spite of our nap, the lack of sleep the night before and a 12 mile hike (plus wine for the others, tequila for me) drove us back into our hammocks right after supper. We’d walked back to Havasupai falls for happy hour and jumped into the pool just below for the first time. I was hoping for some sort of religious experience out of this trip and decided the fact that I survived the hike, then jumping into freezing cold water didn’t kill me either would suffice for the first day.  Looking up at the stars, thinking I’d never be able to fall asleep, I decided to just be grateful for the amazing experience thus far. What my body had been through, what I’d been able to power through, what I witnessed my daughter power through – I truly had no words. Except thank you. I sent them out to the Universe – to my God, however uncertain I am of what and who that is – and literally, before I knew it, it was the next morning.

We spent the next two days exploring, hiking, while I stretched muscles that were screaming at me to sit the hell down. Kimmy, Loran and Monique were fine once they got a little sleep. Loran hurt her foot on the hike in, so she had to nurse that, but otherwise they behaved like people in their 20’s.


We played card games and Loran won, of course, because she’s like that. We played other word and sight games and talked about stuff and because Monique likes to speak with a Syracuse NY accent, we all did (difficult habit to break, btw) and that’s about as specific as I can be because I understand the rule now. What happens in camp stays in camp. There was nothing bad or crazy or earth shattering. It was simply private and for me, because these are my girls, precious. I felt a twinge now and then because Olivia wasn’t there, but Monique was and it all felt very meant to be. We will do this again and my baby and our Monique (she adopted us too) will both be with us.

We talked about the women who came west in the 1800’s, doing what we were doing and decided they were complete idiots. I mean, we walked a few miles in a well ordered and populated area, dressed in leggings and tank tops, having driven to the canyon in Kimmy’s brand new SUV.  They traversed all kinds of landscape, grief stricken at having literally walked away from their families and everything they’d ever known, attired in dresses and undergarments that weighed 10 to 15 pounds all by themselves, knowing nothing about what awaited them at the end of each day, let alone for the rest of their lives.

Who does that?

There was no feminist uprising but it was definitely a feminine-centric four days where we were free to talk about anything we wanted and many times simply chose silence. We all have lives. We all have secrets that we don’t and really feel no compulsion to share. There were the moments on the various trails we took where looking around and taking in – well – everything was all we could do. I was and am humbled by the beauty of our earth. I was also forced to see the changing earth and am deeply troubled by it.

The whole experience was, more than anything, about allowing the thoughts that came into my mind to do so and then leave. In the creek by our campsite sat a partially submerged picnic table. I waded out to it daily and sat with my lower extremities in the cold ass water, just staring. There was nothing to do. I had nothing to do. Nowhere to be. No work to be done. No distraction needed. The universe – and my constantly overly stimulated cranium contents gave me permission to be.

To be.

And the thoughts rolled. Same old thoughts, some good, some troubling, just – the stuff. But I was sitting in ancient water, turned blue/green by several sciencey things that I’ve heard and don’t remember, so the thoughts were less animated than usual. Less threatening.  Not to mention that dealing with anything out of the canyon involved hauling my ass out of it and I thought it best not to dwell on the exit hike. I just sat in the water and promised my calves, quads and hamstrings they would feel better and the rumor that we were going to have to walk an additional 12 miles in a few days was a dirty lie. Funny enough, they believed every word I said.

Just like Olivia when she was four and I convinced her that Fred was her real name.

Can I talk about the camp food? It was pretty great, actually. Kimmy did an amazing job organizing and then cooking. As a novice I got to pretty much watch this time. I may have milked the “this is my first backpacking trip” thing to an extreme, but seriously – I gave her life.

My favorite things were the snacks. Jerky and dried mango slices. Pretty sure I could have survived on those alone. Did you know there’s such a thing as organic, nitrate-free, gluten-free jerky that tastes amazing? I have loved jerky since childhood when taking Saturday outings with my dad to music stores and car repair places. One of the stores we’d hit was in Cuba, NY and owned by Dad’s bass player Ivan. I don’t remember Ivan’s last name but he was kind and he gave Mike and me candy and soda and beef jerky. Then I grew up and that shit was bad for you. Full disclosure, it’s still chock full of sodium, but the cancer causing chemicals have been removed so I’m down. I ate a goodly amount of the stuff at Havasupai and I’m not sure if it was the actual jerky or the memory of Saturdays with Dad and Ivan and Mike that had me smiling like a six-year-old at Christmas every time we opened a package of it.

It’s so much easier to make me happy in the wilderness.

What can I say about the hike out? First of all I’ll say our backpacks went out on the mules. Super important factor there. I’m sure it saved my life because, loved one or not, during the last two miles where you’re walking up a steady grade to climb out of the canyon, the only thing keeping a person going is the promise of pizza and beer at an incredible spot in Flagstaff. Someone slowing you down to a crawl might be someone who is left to make her own way home, even if, as she reminds you, she did spend 17 hours in labor to – what did I say earlier? Oh. Yes. Give you life.

Even without the packs it was no picnic. My legs felt like pieces of wood. I kept thinking, What the hell Gepetto, you told me I was a real boy.

And I never hit my stride. That was the thing I wasn’t prepared for. Looking back at all the mistakes I made for the hike in, I understood why it didn’t happen. I was sure it would be different on the way out and it was, of course, to a certain extent. I didn’t throw up thanks to the Coke we bought the day before and nothing seized up thanks to the bottles of Gatorade and the electrolyte tablets. But that place during a run or a hike in the Superstitions when my physical and mental seem to come together and all thought drops away, simply wouldn’t come. For a while I blamed on the Chatty Cathy hiking behind me, you know, chatting.  Jesus.  For miles.  Please, God, make her get a cramp or something. She’s driving me nuts. I finally stopped to “tie my shoe” and let her and her very quiet companion go by because I just couldn’t give a crap about her roommate’s cousin’s wedding where she met this guy and spent the weekend at the beach and what was in his head that he didn’t call back.  I’d have tripped her just for fun but then she’d have had to stop and recover and would have been behind me again.

Meanwhile back on the trail I concentrated on breathing and the purging of thoughts. They come in, they go out. No judgement, just flow. Very yogic, very zen. Waiting for my stride to kick in. It’s almost here.  Here it – nope.  Not yet.  Okay.  Just keep going.  Just keep going.  Keep going.  Keep.  Going.


I caught up with the girls – or rather, they stopped to wait for me. Yay. We can take a br-

“Wait! Where are you going?”
“Break’s over,” Kimmy said. “Let’s keep moving.”
“But I – ”
“Yeah, don’t even try, Mom.” Loran stayed with me as we watched Kimmy and Monique move off down the trail. “Attila the Hun walked slower than sister.” She was joking and I wanted to laugh but my laughing muscles hurt.
“I don’t understand why we have to walk so fast,” I whined. I had no desire or intention of trash talking my daughter as her not-hurting-at-all body walked away on her used-to-this legs, but it was hard. My brain was suddenly a mean stranger and if I wasn’t going to find and hit my stride and it was no longer Chatty Cathy’s fault, somebody had to pay.
“It’s all right,” Loran said. “Catch your breath and we’ll go in a minute. Remember, though, you do have to power through. If we stop every few minutes we’ll never make it out of here.”
“Right,” I said. “Power through.”

Power through.

And there it was.

Not my stride – that never did show up. It was the religious experience I’d been waiting for. There were no rainbows, no angels singing, no sudden and amazing peace. There was sand and rocks and cacti and my swollen feet, and sweat and about half way up the canyon, after I’d sent the girls on ahead for the last leg of this shit, tears of frustration, swear words, requests for spiritual help and fortitude sent out to every last dead person who “owed” me (things got a little fuzzy) and several disjointed Hail Mary’s. Half a mile or so from the top a young couple passed me and encouraged me to hang in there.

“You’re almost to the top,” the girl said.
“Ffffff.” I stopped myself. I couldn’t tell their perkiness to eff off.

Power through, Lorie. You got this. It was nothing I hadn’t said to myself a thousand times in the last few hours but this time I believed me at least a little.

“Listen,” I said to the couple as they stood there munching on their energy bars and not sweating like goats.  “When you get to the top you’ll find three women waiting for me and possibly looking a bit anxious in case they really did abandon their giver of life and she’s laying dead on the trail. Tell them they’re out of the will.”

The couple laughed, which had the desired effect on me. I love it when people get my jokes. I looked behind me for the hundredth time that day because as delusional as the physical exertion was making me, seeing where I’d been was an amazing thing. I’d walked that. As I was taking in the moment I heard someone yell “Mule!”


The goddamned mule train was less than a quarter of a mile behind me and I knew those guys moved at a pace even Kimmy couldn’t maintain. I was not going to let my pack beat me out of the canyon when it had started the journey a good two hours behind. I limped on.

Here is where the “spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” b.s. really came into play. In my head I was already at the top, jumping up and down, high-fiving the girls, throwing our crap in the car and heading to Flagstaff for the best tasting beer ev-er. My body though?


So the mules caught me. On one of the narrowest parts of the damn trail. I jumped up on a stone wall and pinned myself to the side of the canyon with amazing dexterity for one so lame and exhausted. My will to live had apparently returned. After the animals and their tail wind moved on I finished my journey. I walked with slow small steps that were all my legs and hips would allow. Sweat had saturated my clothes and I’m pretty sure I’d never been quite so dirty. Discomfort was my only emotion and every brain cell was fixated on the very second I’d get to take those goddamned hiking boots off and – what’s that? I heard cheering.

“Whoo-hoo! Mom! You made it! You did it! You’re amazing!”

Aw, it was nothing.

I looked up and there were my three best friends that anyone could have. We high-fived and hugged and took pictures and told each other how awesome we were and how bad we smelled. At the car we changed into dry, clean clothes in front of God and everyone. Kimmy told me to at least turn away from the road as I changed bras – does anyone see the irony here? I just shrugged – way too tired to care what anyone saw or might have been frightened by.

It was over. But I felt a new freedom – reference the nudity mentioned above – and accomplishment that’s hard to put into words. Oh. Here’s one.


We drove home on heated seats. Thank God and Subaru for those. Having pretty severely injured both my hamstrings years ago, it’s difficult for me to sit for any length of time on a given day. Driving and riding long distance takes some creative planning, stretching and sometimes contortionist movements so we don’t have to stop every 15 minutes. I’d have never made it the five hours it took to drive home, even with the stop in Flagstaff, if not for those heated seats. And can I say it seemed like the height of pleasurable indulgence to have the air conditioning on so we could all enjoy the warmth on our tushies.

Since we got home I’ve hugged that experience to me. Havasupai was a sort of rebirth. It’s here, I thought to myself. It’s time. My time. I found a little bit of myself I figured time had erased and at first I called her Adventure Girl. Adventure Girl has no (well not very much) fear and she’s weaved her way back into my brain and life in ways that have allowed me to do what I do with a larger sense of purpose and an ability to focus on the larger part of that phrase. In other words I’m living in gratitude more often than despair. I don’t have to keep fear at bay because gratitude and faith allow me to power through things that used to stop me in my tracks. I’ve reclaimed – myself, my responsibility, my privilege, my life. I am the journey and every day is an adventure.

I am Adventure Girl. But I just call me Lorie.










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Catching up…..Life as a Badass

Dear 23 Readers:

Oh my gosh, it’s been a long time since I sat down to write an update. I’ve been thinking of you, though and decided today is the day to reach out. There’s been a lot of change lately – nothing negative – just different. My mom is selling her house and that’s very emotional for all of us. It’s definitely time. She and Dad bought it 27 years ago and it is the “stable” home my nomadic children have known. We’ve moved so much and 1141 N. Nielson has been the port in many storms. We had Easter dinner at Mom’s and realized it will probably be our last holiday in the house. Matthew (#4) and I sat by the pool and started to talk about it but tears threatened and I am way too macho for that crap. Mark and I found out, recently that our good friends are moving back to Boston due to a job offer. Then, at work, we promoted my assistant manger to store manager at a different location. Which means a promotion for my key holder and hiring someone new for her position. Which means I have to talk to and play well with others I just met….. See? All good stuff, but change in the people in my peripheral and that always freaks me out. <sigh>

In other news, we camped Easter weekend with the fam. Part of it anyway. Loran (#3), Matthew, Kache (grandbaby) and Mark and I headed out for the last desert camp of the season. Lots of fun. A little too much tequila Saturday night after Kache fell asleep. Matt played guitar and I may or may not have sung “How Great Thou Art” acapella, at the top of my lungs, around midnight.


Kimmy(#2) and her husband, Matti (note the i at the end of the name as I also refer to #4 as Matty and we try not to mix up the two. It’s worth noting we also have two Brandons – #1 as well as my nephew Casey’s husband, Brandon – differentiated by the spelling of their middle names Jeffrey for #1 and Geoffrey for nephew Brandon or by referring #1as Bubba or to Nephew as Nephew or Uncle Mooney, referencing somewhat dated family redneck jokes. Don’t ask.)

What the hell was I talking about?

Oh! #2 and Bodington went to England on a vacation I am openly envious of. They’ve been all over the place – South Africa, Ecuador, Japan – and that’s lovely, but England is on my bucket list and they got to go to Hogwarts and have high tea and see the Queen and Prince William. I am jealous.

It’s later now.

Pops left for New York (more change). Mom flew with him and will hang with family and friends that still reside in the frozen north. Her house sold, things are moving along nicely at work and my assistant moved on to his own store. <sigh>

Due to all the above mentioned change – not to mention the state of the world – I’ve been somewhat grumpy and have been making an effort to take myself out of a negative state of mind. I tend to be, by turns, cynical, annoyed, snarky and bitchy simply out of habit that is exacerbated by watching the news or Saturday Night Live and getting the latest Trump update. The negativity is like a cassette tape that’s on repeat in my head, when basically, I’m a very nice person.

Ask around.

What got me thinking about my own state of mind was Brandon’s. Admittedly, his is a bit of a challenge to me as he is Mr. Spock and I am a cross between my Aunt Gertrude, Karen on Will and Grace and the old bat Shirley McClain played in Steel Magnolias.

Don’t ask.

Anyway, one of Brandon’s favorite comedians is George Carlin. I get it. He was a funny guy. Sardonic, ironic, brilliant, fast and – largely negative. While I understand it is a comic’s job to point out the irony, etc., in daily life, depending on who they are and what their style is, things can get really dark. Carlin’s style fell into that category. I mean really, really bleak. So if Mr. Spock is listening to this guy who speaks the “truth” and does it loudly and in a somewhat angry voice, how exactly is that going to affect Mr. Spock?

Well, I don’t know. But it’s not good for Brandon.

For instance, Brandon is Agnostic. Fine. It’s his choice and frankly I don’t think God cares either. I mean, really, if God is all powerful and good and whatever, he knows Bran’s mind and heart and could really not give a shit less if #1 goes to church, a baseball game or the living room couch on a Sunday morning. However, Bran has been getting adamant about it. Even a little belligerent. And I’m like, “Dude, what? Okay. You don’t believe in the religious God. I’m good, and seriously, Supernatural is about to start. Please don’t get in the way of my Sam and Dean time.”

Yesterday we were on our way to an appointment in BFE and Bran brought his George Carlin CD. I listened for about 15 minutes, turned it off and looked at my son.

“Jesus, no wonder you’re half crazy over this crap,” I said. “You’re living your life based on the gospel according to George freaking Carlin.”

Thank God I know how to be subtle.

“You may not believe in the stuff written by whomever claims to be the scribe of God in any given part of the Bible, but please please give the same discriminatory once over to Carlin’s material. This is his schtick. You get that right? He was apparently one angry fu—.”
“Sorry, but jeez! All this time I’ve been worried that you’re gonna end up punching pro-life marchers in the forehead or telling little old Mother Theresa look alikes that they’re full of sh-uh-baloney because you don’t believe so much and it was just a stupid recording of George Carlin warping your good sense!”
“Well,” said my completely unimpressed by my rant son. “If you look at things logically, he’s right about almost everything he says.”
“Perhaps if everything was black or white, but the gray areas count, Bran.”

There was more, but it got me thinking about what I listen to and what floats around in the space between my ears. In Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose, book I read and re-read endlessly, Eckhart Tolle talks about the ego and the recording it plays in our heads. A constant diatribe of discontent and negativity. We’re always something whether it’s annoyed, irritated, entitled, deprived, anxious, resentful, victimized – made up stuff that keeps us enslaved to negative feelings. Some of it, of course, can very well be rooted in real events or needs and wants, but most is habit. Think about when you’re driving and someone zooms in front of you. It startles you and you immediately decide that person did it on purpose or without any thought for you so they are suddenly the enemy and you can call them a worthless ass hat or perhaps a douche lord. Or a freaking jerk or a f&^$ing a$$hole…….. I digress.

I read something in the Buddhist Bootcamp blog that said (paraphrasing) You are not stuck in traffic. You are traffic.

Sing it with me : e – PIPH – any.

Of all the things that annoy me, it annoys me most that I am them. (That one is mine)

My point is not to demean anyone’s space. We are where we are. And I would never suggest that anxiety and/or depression are a figment of imagination. I’ve been there with both of them and for whatever reason they might exist for someone, they’re real as hell.

So are the voices.

Just kidding.

For the daily, though. The recording that plays over and over – maybe we could change it up. It’s surprisingly easy to do. The first step is to realize your ego is a separate entity from who you truly are. Your ego believes the guy cut in front of you in traffic ON PURPOSE to RUIN YOUR DAY. Sanity tells you he, like you, is just trying to get where he is going in one piece and he did a bone-headed thing. Maybe today you can refrain from telling him how many ways you’re going to eff him up when you get a hold of him the next time you see him on the freeway. Perhaps when someone walks into your store to ask directions or for something you clearly don’t sell you can summon a smile, even though they’re the 73rd person to do so, and give them the information they need instead of the finger.

Do you get where I’m going? Away from the edge and today I’ll take you with me if you want. Tomorrow I may be calling you for a lift.

Next up: Depression and Naked Disco Dancing.
……………My second cousin, once removed asked for advice, via her Facebook page, regarding something she could do to channel some extremely negative energy and (as I read it) sort of clear her space. I didn’t answer at first because, though I’ve come to think a lot of her and I adored her grandmother (my first cousin, once removed), I don’t know her well and it felt presumptuous to offer said advice.

I know. She asked. But my answer was a very personal one and it felt strange putting it out there.

Like I was naked.

Then she posted again, expressing surprise at the number of constructive suggestions she’d received when she sort of expected irreverence. SC chose a couple of the suggestions and shared her plans to follow through on them, but there was no irreverence. No silliness. No outrageous behavior to upend the blues. I responded thusly:

You wanted something irreverent? I’ve got it, I think. During times when life overwhelmed me, when sadness curled me into a fetal ball of fear under the blankets in my bed, behind closed and locked bedroom doors, my husband – whether reacting from concern or just not knowing what the hell else to do – marched in, turned on Donna Summer or Gloria Gaynor or The Bee Gees and told me to dance. I said “I’m naked under here.” He said, “Perfect! It’s pretty hard to take anything seriously when you’re dancing naked to ‘I Will Survive!'” I protested. I bitched. I cried. But he wouldn’t take no for an answer. So just to get rid of him I danced. Naked. To disco. There was some serious stuff bringing me down. Those dances became my fuck you to losing my mind to them. Irreverence matters. Do the constructive things you’ve mentioned but grab some irreverence as well. That’s just for you.

Just for you.

And, so you see, I was naked. And it was frightening. Not that anybody saw – except me. And nobody cared – even me – which was weird because we all know exactly how vain I used to be.

Shut up.

When I danced I discovered a kind of freedom that I hadn’t known since I was a child. It was a letting go of energy that children know instinctively how to release. As we grow into adults and buy into the trade offs that life inevitably brings – you know – make the deals to get the stuff, I think we tie up the instinct piece by piece and sell it, accidentally, for shit we never needed in the first place. It takes a level of consciousness of which most 12 to 30 year-olds are unaware to say no more often than not. And, frankly, I thought I’d said no. A lot. I thought I was pretty Zen. However, I forgot – or more likely – ignored the fact that pretending the deals I was making weren’t, in fact, deals and stuffing fear and anger in my “I’ll deal with that tomorrow” file like I was Scarlett O’Hara isn’t the same thing as being fully centered.

As if “fully centered” actually exists on this plane……

Adulting is hard. There’s no way around it. I knew it and I believed it. I just didn’t make room for it. And so, in that first summer and fall we spent in New York, when I was away from my two oldest daughters and my mother and Mom had cancer and I was still reeling from the loss of my father and I hated my job and Matthew hated me because I’d gone back on my word never to move one of my children from their home during high school and all of that didn’t even scratch the surface of the guilt and grief I was carrying from years of deals, I curled up in my bed one day and thought – well I stopped thinking. I was afraid to think. Or feel or move. I was afraid.

Which is where Mark and Donna Summer came into play.

It wasn’t the last time he found me that way. The first time wasn’t the last time I danced. And I still make deals. But I make them more fully aware of what I’m doing. There’s less idealism involved but there’s also less fear. I traded the need to have everything in its place for learning to live in the moment and be thankful for it. I traded wanting everyone to like me for liking myself. I traded religion for faith and I traded feeling like a victim to living like a badass.

I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t she sell sunglasses? Yes. I do. But what one “does” isn’t what makes one a badass.

I dated a guy in college who was, in every sense of the word, unavailable to me. It’s okay. It was my pattern as a commitment-phobe to choose those whom I could not have – which is a story for another time. With the advent of social media, this person and I crossed paths again five or six years ago. It was hey, how are you? Tell me about yourself…… We caught up a little and that was it. Except for one thing. He said to me, I’m happy to know you’ve lived a joyful life.

I hadn’t told him that. I mean, we’re basically strangers and I certainly didn’t reveal anything deep. I had a moment of what does he mean by that? Was I not joyful back then? Is he judging me? Which sounds like pure egocentric paranoia.

You’ve met me, right?

But once I dismissed Blanche – which is what I call my egocentric personality in honor of the character immortalized by Vivien Leigh in the movie Streetcar Named Desire – I was able to take the compliment for what it was. An impression given. My aura. It’s basically who I am. Really am. When I look at the things I’ve been through in my life – the good, the not so good, the horrifying – and know that who I am now, at the heart of it is the same happy, loud, curious, open, joyful being I was as a child and that all of my personalities get out of bed every single morning – THAT makes me a badass.

I’ll bet you just figured out you’re one as well.

It’s been lovely catching up!  I’ll try not to wait so long before sitting down to write next time because I have been known to go on and on………..


Filed under Daily Life

It’s a Process

In the wake of the 30th anniversary of my marriage I thought I’d write about what makes a good marriage, but more than a month has passed since the momentous occasion and as I put hands on the keyboard in the hundredth attempt at doing so, I find I know very little. And I know everything.

Conundrum anyone?

People who’ve been married or together for decades will tell you though. The truth as they know (or don’t know) it.

Why stay together?

Love?  Yes, of course it’s love, but, really, what does love mean?

I don’t know.

But I do.

Therefore I have no advice to give and I could go on all day, giving you thousands of tips on how to formulate a lasting relationship that will bring you happiness and fulfillment. Or not.

I read once that spending a lifetime with one person goes against the natural tendencies of human nature. Taking into account some of the humans I spent time with when I was in the dating world, I totally get that, but even given the propensity of people to pick the wrong human, I disagree.

Look. We are basically alone on this carnival ride known as Life.  I, personally, have been confused about almost everything from inception. That I met someone when I was 11 years old and have loved him from the start seems like the way to go if at all possible. I mean two heads are better than one, right?

Not that there haven’t been hiccups.

There was that time when I was 13 and standing on stage with my cousin and brother, in the gym, prepping for a talent show performance. Mark came strutting in(and those who knew him back then will be able to visualize this as well as I), his arm around his girlfriend and greeted me across the room with a, “Hello beautiful.” My father, who’d been sitting facing us, heard this, stood up and turned around slowly with a murderous look on his face. (Those who knew my father will be able to visualize this as well). I thought it was all over right then.

Thanks Dad, for not killing my future husband.

There was the time when I was 15 and expressed my love for Mark via a letter and he said, “yeah, thanks but no thanks, jail bait.”

Fine. He was sweet and kind but the result was the same. My ego and my heart were shattered.

There were the weddings. Ours. To other people. Ironically, in the same year. The marriages lasted about the same amount of time as well – which is to say not long.

The hiccups our first few years together came rapid-fire and left us both wondering why, when we had loved each other for so long at that point, it was so difficult to meld our lives. I mean it’s not like Mark thought he knew everything and I was stubborn to a degree most commonly documented in mules. What attracted us to each other sometimes repelled us and many times in those early days the thing that held us together was the thought that if one left, the other would be alone and at the mercy of the short people we were so good at creating.

I can’t say that the hiccups ever stopped. I mean, it’s life. Somewhere in there, however, we found a groove and I can sum it up in one word. Communication. We talk and it depends on the day, month, year, millennium, moon cycle – whatever – who talks the most. I mean, you’d think it would be me simply by virtue of the fact that it’s me and, obviously, I talk a lot. Granted, some of those conversations are between me and, well, me, and the diatribe is pretty much never ending, let me tell you, but no. It’s not always me. Mark has a lot to say as well. That means one of us has to listen, which is harder. When Mark and I were first married I’d pour my heart out about a frustration, hurt, anger – basically I just needed to talk. He’d listen for a while, sum things up for me and offer a solution. Then we’d fight. I’d tell him he wasn’t listening and he’d tell me I was out of my mind because that’s all he’d done for however long we’d been sitting there. It took years of practice for him to understand the difference between problem solving and listening. It took years of me listening to him for me to understand that his intentions were good. He wasn’t trying to shut me up.

It was a classic Mars/Venus thing.

Now we set aside time for just talking and just listening. Sometimes we spend days that way. Sometimes we cobble together a few moments because our schedules keep us apart.

And that’s hard because we like being together. We’re buddies.

I remember when it dawned on me how much I love Mark. I mean, I always knew I loved him. But that all-encompassing never want to be without him ever again and can’t remember a time when it wasn’t that way thing. That you’re stuck with me now dude, so don’t even think about trying to get away, realization that had nothing to do with the five children, mortgage and car payments we’d racked up.

It was around our 15th anniversary and it came to me that almost all the memories I had were of Mark. Or if they weren’t of him, they were made within the time I knew him.

And it didn’t scare me.

I had been the one afraid of commitment in the beginning. I had been the one to run away. I had been the one who could not believe that another human being would love me just for me and that all I was required to bring to the party was – me.

I was enough and he was enough and around year 15 the realization dawned that I believed it. I guess what I saw was the difference between the beginning and the present. I slowed down long enough to pay homage to the process that was us and to acknowledge the beauty of life and this extraordinary gift of love I’d been given and was still allowed to participate in…..

…..And then a kid threw up or threw something at another kid and as quickly as the first 15 years passed, another 15 went by.

We are now entering a new phase with freedom involved that we have never experienced as a couple. It’s so new, in fact, that we’re not quite sure what to do with ourselves, though we’re determined to figure it out, one adventure at a time. Nude beaches have been mentioned but the reality verses (my) fantasy has us sticking with hiking in Montana – fully clothed – and sitting on beaches where everyone is at least strategically covered.

I, personally, am so jazzed by this phase, it’s almost hard to process. I feel like a grown up – like someone who is ready to explore a part of life I didn’t think I’d ever experience.

I feel open.

Believe me, I was not even close to the neighborhood where open lives when Mark and I started out, let alone knocking on doors that might actually do just that. It’s another gift choosing to build our relationship has given me. Given us – because Mark was fairly walled of as well. We learned and earned trust that has, more than anything else, released our hearts, minds and souls and enabled us to progress together and as individuals.

It’s a process has become our watch-phrase and it is a process we cherish. It is a relationship we nurture and never, ever take for granted. We have been married for 30 years, together officially for 32, in love for 40 and friends for 44. As much as I’ve learned and as little as I know, I realize fully how special that is and how blessed Mark and I are.

So, to answer your question. Wait. There was no question. It was my proclamation of how to stay married and do it well.

I have no idea.

Or, at least I have no road map.

Honestly, it’s a process, is the best I’ve got. Let it be a process and stay in the moment thereof. It’s kept Mark and me sane. Or at least together. And if we’re together and happy, how effing important is the sanity?

I’ll let my kids write that chapter in another 30.


Filed under Daily Life


I heard a song on the radio the other day that took me back. I don’t hear this one very often and it reminds me of a very specific time in my life – and, honestly – more often than not I’ve turned the song off. It’s long and sad and I’m usually just pissed off by the end of the first verse – still.

That’s the name of the song.


Lionel Ritchie.

For many that information alone would be enough to change the station. This time, however, I didn’t. I wasn’t even tempted. In fact, the song was over before I remembered that I don’t like to listen to it. I realized in that moment, I’d forgiven myself for something.

It’s not that I haven’t reached the self-forgiveness point in my life before, but normally it’s a more gradual realization. This one felt momentous.  Though, Jesus, it took long enough.

Seriously. I’m pretty sure I heard Jesus say, “It took long enough.”

Still came out when I was 18, I think. Toward the end of the Lionel Ritchie/Commodores years. I’ve always made fun of Lionel in a Kenny Rogers/Michael Bolton manner. He was sort of the best of the King of the lounge singer hit parade. Which is pretty nervy of me to say, considering that the wealth of the three above mentioned men due to their musical success could feed several small countries for years. The truth is, at one time or another, I’ve loved at least some of the music from all of them. To the point that Mark used to play Bolton CD’s to a Barry White end, if you know what I mean…..

It worked really well.

In fact, I suppose we could have named our son, Matthew, Michael Bolton, had we been so inclined.

If you know what I mean…..

I went to college at Weber State in Ogden, Utah. I went there because it got me away from Casper, Wyoming, where I spent four of the most difficult years of my life. I wanted to reinvent myself at Weber. Be more assertive, reach out to people and make friends – and I was successful.

To an extent.

I didn’t know, then, about healing the pain. I didn’t know just how traumatic the move from New York and what I’d been through in Casper was. The loss of having my friends and family in my life on a daily basis, the bullying (four years worth) that happened in Casper caused me to sort of implode. I was walking wounded for a long time, including the school year I spent in Utah. The success I cultivated and achieved there, I turned around and in fear, sabotaged.

It’s that simple and looking back at what went on from that perspective, seems such a forgivable thing. Yet it’s taken me 36 years to realize that young girl was doing the best she could, and under her circumstances, did very well. If I could tell her anything, what I’d say, as I wrapped her up in my arms, is contained in the last line of Lionel Ritchie’s song, which, in the moment, driving in my car last week, lifted a decades old burden from my heart.

I do love you.



Filed under Daily Life, Memories

Random Hump-Day Thoughts……

It’s Wednesday.

Glenn Frey is still dead. It wasn’t some big, nasty, stupid joke. I’m still sad. He was the third thing I thought of this morning at 3:30 when I woke up and my brain kicked in. I’d have given him more thought but it was 3:30 and I knew that if I didn’t shut things down I would be up for the day. So I drifted back to sleep with the tune of Tequila Sunrise playing in my head.

Someone posted a picture of the Kardashians on Facebook the day after Glenn died with a caption that said something like, Dear Universe: Stop taking the musicians from my youth. Take these instead. Not funny, but I get it. You always wonder why the good ones are taken and the – well – you know….. are left. But really, if you don’t like them, just change the channel, don’t wish them dead. Even the Kardashians serve a purpose.

I don’t know what it is, so don’t ask me……

Who else thinks wearing colored contacts is like wearing butt enhancing jeans or guys wearing heels? The truth is gonna come out – or off – eventually. It changes who you are – which is a person’s prerogative but it’s your eyes. Am I overreacting?

I’m a week and three days into a six week training period for a half marathon I’ve (sort of) committed to running with Kimmy and Matti (Bodington). The first week everything hurt in a way I didn’t know existed. I truly thought my joints would just crumble into dust. I took the first three days off into the second week because my body said so.

I started whining at one point.

Mark said, “Maybe try some glucosamine and condroitin.” I said, “How about I try tequila and beer.” Mark said, “No. You decided to lay off the liquor to do this. You can have your five ounces of Cabernet with dinner, though.” I said, “Well, isn’t that just fine for you to say, missy boy, lucky duck, with your hurt back and dumb injured heel.” Mark said, “That and my lack of stupid.” I said, “What’s that supposed to mean?” Mark said, “It means I’d have told Kimmy no a year ago when, at the end of the last race she asked you if you wanted to do the race with them this year.” I said, “I totally thought she’d forget.” Mark, looking at me with pity, said, “Honey. This is one of our offspring. How many times do they forget anything we want them to forget?” “Never,” I whispered. Mark patted my shoulder softly, so as not to hurt me further because I tend to forget he’s my friend when the pain is too much. “Come on,” he said. “I’ll run you a hot tubby.” “That’s right you will,” I told him. “And next time shut me up.” He rolled his eyes and muttered something that sounded like, “cause that’ll ever happen.”

Hot flash update. Still having them. Hate everyone from God on down during certain ones. I have a sugar low during some and still others bring on a brief panic attack that literally stops any forward movement. I was freezing all day long last Friday. Decided about four o’clock to take a nice warm bath with lavender oil. Put my icy toe in the water and the rest of me went up in flames so hot I had to lay face down, naked as the day I was born, on the bathroom tile and pant till the steam went away.

Mark put the winter, flannel sheets on the bed because he thought they’d “be a better option” for the woman who sweats then freezes then sweats then freezes.

“You can just sleep naked on these, hon,” he said. “You’ll be cooler that way.”

It’s not that he doesn’t understand that this is a from the inside out heating issue. He’s been trying to get me to sleep naked for 30 years, saw an opportunity and took a chance. I walked out of the room at that point in our discussion because I felt my vagina start to heat up and not in a good way. In case it was one of the “hate everything that lives” flashes I didn’t want to be in arms reach of anyone I actually care about. After it was over I stomped back.

“I will never sleep naked so stop asking,” I said. “It’s a texture thing for me and you know it! I dress in layers for everything!”
“Yes I do know,” Mark said. “Now, so do the neighbors.”
Whatever. And wipe that smirk off your face. You are not the sane one in this relationship. I am calm. I am pragmatic. I am no nonsense. I am down to earth.”
“Yes, all of you are.”
Do not make fun of me.
“I swear I’m not,” he said. “It’s just the hormones – ”
“Or fucking lack thereof! Whose idea was this? What kind of sick joke is it that women go through this? And do you know what else? I bought a frigging Vogue the other day expressly to read an article about a so called “female viagra.” Wow, I thought. It’s about time. I waded through all the 12-year-olds wearing incredibly ugly clothes, found the article on page 1080, got two sentences in and you know what? It’s for pre-menopausal women. Seriously? What the hell do they need it for? Till I hit the big M, sex was always on my mind. I still think about it if someone reminds me! I mean, you – when you remind me, I think of sex but I got all excited thinking there was something that would restore that all the damn time thing! Not that I don’t love it. I still do. I love sex. You know that. We have sex all the time and I like it. Super a lot! I just, you know, think – female viagra – a good thing……..” <sigh>

God is not a woman.


Filed under Daily Life, Lady stuff......

“A woman walks into a gynecologist’s office…….”

So, I went to the gynecologist last week.  Good time.  Relatively.  Everything looks good.  I got my order for the yearly boob smashing session and for the pelvic probe where they use equipment that looks like it would be fun, but isn’t.  I’m not sure the doctor was prepared for the amount of time I took up asking questions.  Seriously, though, it was necessary.  A lot has changed since my last check-up.

            Dr. T introduced herself and invited me to call her by her first name, Janet.  Janet then read my name and made fun of how it’s spelled.  She said it’s a, “weird” way to spell Lorie. 


I tried to restrain myself from explaining the many, varied and inferior ways Lorie is spelled.  It’s a conversation I can have easily – but usually only with other people named Lori, Laurie, Lory, Laury, Lari, Lorrie, Lorry, Lorrey– the latter easily the worst way to spell it.

Sorry.  I know, harsh, but it is what it is. 

I actually had the Lorie conversation with the daughter of a Lori the other day.  The reason the name so interested her was because both her mother and step-mother are named Lori/Laurie.  We nodded in complete agreement that her mother got the benefit of better spelling. 

            “See,” I said to the doctor.  “It’s like this, Laurie is a somewhat cumbersome spelling and the pronunciation is a bit muddled, as is Laury.  Is it Low-ree or Law-ree?  The break in the two syllables is between the u and the r.  In any of the Lor versions, the break is after the r, making the name much simpler to pronounce and more melodic to the ear.  ‘Lari,’ is really just unfortunate and usually pronounced, ‘Larry.’  It’s kind of a, what were you thinking, Mom, spelling.

            “Lorrie, Lorry, Lorrey and Lory are, in order of spelling, visually unappealing, a street-car, a street-car spelled incorrectly and somebody trying to be a little too different. 

            “When it comes down to it, Lori and Lorie are the way to go.

            “But don’t.

            “Let’s face it, the name, pretty as it is, is out of style.  When you hear the name Lorie or any derivative thereof, you have a very good chance of guessing a woman’s age, within five or so years and depending on the spelling, without ever setting eyes on her.  It’s the same with Rhonda, Judy, Julie (not Julia), Debbie, Sue, Terri, Karen and Cindy.

            “Lori(e), as an entire name, has had its day.  Lauren or, as it’s spelled in my daughter’s case, Loran, is a little more timeless.  Which brings up the only real problem I ever had with my name.  It’s not a name.  It’s a nick name

            “Kind of like Lori, but with an e, which, according to my mother, is a very important letter.  She’ll tell you, if asked, that adding the e took Lori out of the annals of nick names and enabled it to stand alone

            “Which sounds kind of romantic and dignified. 

            “The truth is, Lorie is short for Lorie Ann – which, in a family of Bonnie Jean, Julie Ann, Kathy Jo, Tami Claire, Cheryl Ann, Tawny Sue and Mary Lou, sounded just a little bit too red neck for me, so nobody but my mom and dad were ever allowed to call me by both my names.”

Over time I have, as I explained to the doctor, grown to appreciate the spelling of my name, that didn’t seem like an actual name, and was a bit put off that Janet (you thought I forgot where I was going in the first place, didn’t you?) pointed out the spelling in a negative manner.

I showed her who was weird.

Still me.

Or, I suppose weird isn’t really the correct term.  I’m not weird – well, I am, but that’s not the point.  What I am, is pre-menopausal, which, of course, I didn’t need her to tell me.  I remember puberty and this is pretty much puberty backwards, in that, what was started then is stopping now. 

Can I live without my period?  Duh.

Can I live without the hormones that come along with my period?  Sort of.  I mean, I can live without them, but the body temperature regulation and skin elastin properties they supply are harder to let go of.  I mean, one can start to sag in places that make you go, what the hell?

Enough said about that.

Except to Janet.

A lot.

I’m pretty sure her staff only carved out the standard 20 minutes for exam time, get to know each other time and question and answer time.  Which was, in my mind, her tough luck.  When I made the appointment I told them I needed my yearly exam and would need time to discuss some peri-menopausal treatment options before my moods and temper got the better of me and I started taking out old boyfriends (I know how to hold a grudge) and people texting while driving on the freeway.

Besides, there wasn’t anybody behind me in the waiting room except for the extremely pregnant woman in what had to be termed very mild labor.  She wasn’t going anywhere in that extra 20 minutes I needed.

Not that the 20 minutes got me what I wanted.  I didn’t even get a very good answer to the pointed questions I asked.

Can you help the hot flashes and can you stop that ugly crepey look my skin seems to want to sport in spite of baby oil treatments and the ridiculously priced body cream I keep investing in.

All Janet had to offer was a spiel about the difference between natural and synthetic hormones (Horse pee?  Really?), and a choice between a prescription for a beginner’s dose of the former, or birth control pills – both aimed at bringing back my period.

“Will bringing back my period eliminate the hot flashes?”


“Will it help me produce or replace the estrogen that aids in the elasticity of my skin, the ability to sleep through night and the reproduction of whatever brain cells assist in remembering – well – just about anything?  Because, lately, I forget at least a little bit of just about everything, up to and including where I’m going when I’m walking to there.”

“Walking to where?”

“That’s right!”

“Where are you going?”
“That’s the point!”

“What is?  Where you’re going?”

“I don’t know where I’m going.”

“How in the hell should I know?  That’s why I’m here!”

Honest.  To.  God.

I’m telling you, Janet is, at least my age if not five or so years my senior.  I know damn well she knows from pre-menopause and was starting to believe she was holding out on me for the fun of it.

I took a deep breath.

“I need help, doctor.  My hot flashes start from the inside out, if you know what I mean.  I don’t sleep through a night without at least an antihistamine and a margarita and I have the attention span of a gnat.  My OCD is in top notch form and God help the person who doesn’t do exactly what I say, how I say and when I say it.  Not that what I say makes much sense, even to me.  My husband said the other day, somewhat sarcastically, in my opinion, he’s enjoying making friends with all the new people in my head.  Personally, I think it’s just fucking crowded in there and I’d appreciate some help thinning the crowd.

There was a protracted silence while the good doc wrote out several prescriptions, numbered them and handed them to me.

“Try these,” she said.  “In order and per instructions.  We’ll talk again in a couple of months.”

I have not, as yet, filled the prescriptions because I have another doctor to see.  She’s a naturopathic physician and practices a holistic type of medicine.  I’m not completely sure exactly what that entails but recognize the word, “whole,” and figure it involves looking at all of my physiological and psychological opportunities, and treating me as an entire person, rather than just one end or the other.

I bet she’ll get the, “Lorie,” thing.



Filed under Daily Life

I’m old………….. Part One

It’s been a month since I’ve managed to get a blog written and I’m not completely sure today will find me any more successful than the previous 30.  I want to write and I keep thinking up things to write about, but between work and having that last kid still at home, insisting I give her the same level of care and attention the other four enjoyed, I’m freaking exhausted.

Turns out full time jobs cut into a person’s schedule.

It’s not that I haven’t worked full time before.  Plus, if anyone tells you that being a stay at home mom isn’t full time work, they’re either Ann Coulter level ignorant or they’ve been watching some stupid housewives, “reality,” show and are sadly jealous because they think being at the beck and call of a bunch of curtain climbing hooligans somehow involves breakfast in bed, leisurely shopping and no-strings-attached massages from the live-in male maid/nanny.

But enough about my fantasy life.

The truth is, from the time #1 son was born, I’ve worked sun up to collapsed in a chair, passed out on the floor or sleeping standing up in the shower.

This. Is. Harder.

I’m more tired, my body aches and dragging myself to the gym, the grocery store or the damn computer is a bigger challenge than ever……….

You don’t think?  It couldn’t be……  Maybe it’s because of my……….


That’s it!

Everyone told me to stop wearing the little ballet flats and sandals I sported at Retail Hell (“Little,” being a subjective term here, as anyone who has seen my feet realizes that, attractive though they are, “little,” they are not).  But I haven’t listened.  Oh, I throw on my hideous black, “comfortable,” “supportive,” shoes at least once a week.  At the end of the day, my legs are much less tired, my feet aren’t swollen and my lower back doesn’t ache.

What is that, though, when my fashion sense is completely demoralized?  After a day of indulging myself in feeling physically good, I have to wear heels just to regain equilibrium.

Plus, there’s something about being elevated that makes me forget the real reason for the fatigue.

It’s my hair.

I am four weeks past due for cut and color and thinking about how to style it so the roots don’t look so dishwater greasy and the ends look less like Bette Midler’s broom in, Hocus Pocus, drains my last wearied nerve.  Then there’s working an appointment into my schedule.  I don’t know where the time goes.  And it takes hours to get this shit done.  I am so unwilling to spend an entire afternoon at a salon on my day off.

After all, I could be sleeping – in an actual bed – or shopping for shoes.

It was much less trouble to fit this stuff in when the kids were younger because I actively looked for reasons to get out of the house and into a place where there were humans who spoke something other than Sesame Street lingo.

There’s less reason to want to run out now and between my work schedule, my sore feet and hair shame it’s really a wonder I can drag my butt out of bed in the first place, which brings me to one simple conclusion.

I’m old………


Filed under Daily Life