PoP = Points of Passion

Found Time

Flutters in my gut emerge when something—anything—gets cancelled. 

There are, of course, a plethora of ‘must-dos’ ready to fill the space. But if my world is not ready to explode, if everyone in my family has at least one pair of clean underwear, if, if, if…

I have learned to embrace found time as my time.

A walk in the woods with my dog Daisy;
Read, read, read;
Call a friend that I’ve been thinking about;
Try a new recipe (or better yet improvise);
Take a nap.

Those are just some of the ways I bask in time that finds its way back to me.

Antique Bottles

I started collecting antique bottles in elementary school. Tiny time capsules kept safe from the destructive forces of age.

What medicine did it hold? What was wrong with the person who needed the tonic? Did they have any idea that I’d be holding their bottle one hundred years later? 

Antique bottles contain more questions than answers. I think that's why they’ve always represented a world of possibility to me. 

Must pick up the pace...the holidays are almost here!

Ribbon, ribbon, ribbon
Not sure what that's about but I have LOTS.

Daydreaming about living by the ocean
Yes, please!

Collages of any kind
Crappy pottery created by my kids 
They have many talents, my boys, but ceramics would not be one of them. Still, their colorful early endeavors tap an endless reserve of wonder in me.

Speaking of things that provide joy despite a lack of aptitude….as any reader of this blog has no doubt noticed, I glean an inordinate amount of joy from watching plants grow, especially weeds.

That’s it for now.
Wishing you a merry holiday season filled with your own PoPs! 

Points of Passion (PoP3)


I have a hard time walking away from one that I like. Even though I have plenty. I could easily fill a Doors of poster, only mine would be called Chairs of Holly.

Green, blue, formal, antique—there is no real criteria except that when I see one that makes me want to sit and ponder…it comes home with me.

When I started my work at The Connecticut Forum, I brought simple matching grey chairs with wood trim into my new space. I could see the unspoken head scratching on the faces of co-workers, that the new girl thought it necessary to bring her own chairs. 

"I have a lot of chairs,” I finally started saying when a colleague would politely admire my decor. If they only knew…
It’s like Shel Silverstein said in his poem Hector the Collector:

Three-legged chairs and cups with cracks.
Hector the Collector
Loved these things with all his soul--
Loved them more then shining diamonds,
Loved them more then glistenin' gold.

(Although truth be told, unlike Hector, I do prefer diamonds over chairs.)

Points of Passion (PoP2)

Poems by Shel Silverstein

I received Where The Sidewalk Ends as a Christmas gift in 1982. I know this from the inscription inside my well worn copy. The book has been with me, quite literally, ever since.

In elementary school, I performed the poems with solo gusto in my dresser mirror. In high school at my first summer camp job I always kept my copy nearby. A spontaneous reading of Sick (one of my favorites) was a surefire way to grab attention if the day’s activities went awry. In college, I hosted a local children’s television show. It was my responsibility to come up with content. There was no question where I would begin...

When I introduced my coveted volumes to my boys, I began by telling them how important these books were to Mommy, how they were special and should be treated carefully, and…then I stopped.

I knew that Shel wouldn’t have appreciated the lofty introduction.

His work isn’t meant to be revered or explained. It was created for consumption. Disappointment, loss, adventure and happiness are more easily digested in bite sized black and white.

I bought them their own copies. Everyone needs a Shel Silverstein. 

Just the other day I opened Where the Sidewalk Ends in search of inspiration and nostalgia tumbled out. A letter from my father that I received in college. A thank you note from a camp parent. A commemorative card from my grandfather’s funeral. A to-do list from my high school days.

Silverstein’s books have always transported whiffs of life that matter to me.

Points of Passion (PoP)

I’ve been feeling a little blue lately about the state of things. Maybe you can relate? 
I’m a devourer of politics and news, have been since a very young age—but—after the last couple of weeks, I’ve reached my limit. I am craving a break.
So…for the next little while I am going to spend the time I would normally be gobbling up the day’s catastrophes—here—creating a vision blog of inspiration. I’m hoping that less time wading in the muck and more time reveling in personal Points of Passion (PoPs) will lead to good things. 
Here goes…hope you’ll join me!


My earliest flower memories are of the peony bushes that lined my childhood driveway. Outside, they’d spring from the ground, a colorful magic trick, not long after piles of heavy snow would dissipate. Inside, their pink pillowy puffs would spill out of antique pitchers—summer’s warning cry that it was indeed on its way.

I had a childhood of flowers, come to think of it, the impromptu wildflower kind. I can still picture a patch of farmland in the hour long drive between my grandparents' house and mine. A secret resting place covered in Black-eyed Susans and Queen Ann’s Lace. We’d get out of the car, venture in waste deep, and pick a custom bouquet. Nature’s floral delivery.

I now understand that there is no such thing as free flowers. Someone owns the land. Someone scatters the seeds. And those flowers that line the driveway come with a lot of weeds. 
Which makes me appreciate the flowers more. 

Cut from the earth, plopped in a vase, a masterpiece of not-so-accidental grace that always inspires me.

Wandering 2.0

In the early days, wandering was mostly a state of mind.

Endless days of summer spent in my top bunk overlooking the willow tree directly outside my childhood window. Fan aimed in my direction, book resting on my lap. Daydreaming the day away.

Later—wandering—was one of the ways that I knew Rob and I were just right. In the early days of dating we’d get in the car on Sundays and head somewhere. We’d choose a general direction, usually toward the water, but the other details were joyfully fuzzy. New cape towns, antique stores, road side diners, New England windy roads. It’s an awesome feeling when you find a fellow wanderer. 

Wandering took on a whole new meaning after kids. Preschool meant 2 hours of time—too little to accomplish much and too much to wish away, so we—Will and I— would set out for the unknown while his older brother tackled the alphabet. We’d visit parks, take walks, and discover hidden worlds in plain sight. 

One particular day “killing time” led us to an oddly named museum and a meaningful volunteer opportunity with a dotted line connection to the job I hold today.

The magic of wandering, for me, is that it’s an act of faith with no intended return on investment and yet strangely again and again it is how I get things done. How my insides refocus, reenergize, figure out “what’s next.”

Wandering is not for everyone. I remember declaring to a family member that I often would “pick a new exit” and go explore during those baby-in-tow preschool days. My kin examined me strangely. “That could be dangerous.” So could crossing the street, but I do that too, I thought.

Others spend their entire lives wandering—building careers around the freedom of the unexpected. I am not that person. I am driven by my to-do list, benchmarks that let me know where I am in relation to where I am hoping to go.

Wandering is exercise for my mind. A way to blow off accumulating mental steam. Wouldn’t want to do it all day every day but a healthy dose is needed to keep the cranial weight at bay.

Lately it’s been a mostly solitary activity. “We’re just going to drive around and see where we end up!” isn’t an appealing opener to two teens.


At the beginning of this summer we took a long awaited tropical vacation—the kind of vacation that necessitated planning to make the most of a place that we might not get back to for many "somedays." So we (my thirteen-year-old adventurer actually) plotted one planned activity and one eating destination per day for our twelve days away. 

A colleague of Rob’s suggested an app that would accompany us on our travels. I immediately protested. “I am not going to listen to some guy talk at us all day!”

But by day two or three of the “together time” I’d rosily imagined, I’d had enough of the bickering in the backseat.

”How about that app?” I suggested.

From that point on, the voice who we affectionately named Jason was our private tour guide, nudging us toward non conventional adventures.

“If you want to experience the most beautiful beach known to locals, turn right here!” Jason would say.

“By now you may have noticed that Kauai is full of chickens. Can you guess how many chickens there are to humans on the island?” (The answer is 5 to 1, by the way.)

He told stories about ancient Hawaiian tribes and warned us not to take any of the beach rock. “Each and every day people mail back the rocks they take from Hawaii because bad luck has fallen their way.”

We laughed. Surely he was kidding. 

But when we went to mail postcards, we asked the person behind the desk and she confirmed, “Yes, rocks routinely arrive in the mail addressed to the closest post office from where they were taken and we return them. It is very annoying.”

Jason led us to hidden waterfalls, scenic vistas, and an off-the-beaten path artisan town. He suggested a rope bridge where we dangled over a river and were rewarded by meeting a photographer in her studio on the other side. We heard stories of island settlers and the origins of trees that have been there for hundreds of years. 

We grew so accustomed to hearing his voice that when toward the end of our vacation we realized we’d made it all the way around the island and listened to all he had to say, a melancholy settled in.

We decided our final day on the island would be spent revisiting our favorite places. Amusingly most of the things we returned to originally were suggested by ”Jason.”

A travel app is different then spontaneously picking a new exit but its results were the same. The feeling of embracing an unplanned adventure, of taking the road less traveled.

The blessing of feeling recharged, refocused and appreciative that I am raising future wanderers. Even if the wandering is satellite guided.


Wherever you’re wandering this summer…enjoy!

P.S. Thank you, gypsyguide.com.

Life...in Q-tips

The purchase of certain mundane household items routinely evokes a sense of nostalgia in me. 

Last week I stood momentarily suspended in thought while staring at a shelf of Q-tips. Yes, that’s right, wonder and hope swirled while pondering the question: How will life be different a Q-tip box of time from now?
Now for you left brains out there (and maybe some right ones too) this must sound absurd. Anyone who reads instructions or easily follows maps probably does not relate. 
I do, in theory, understand that if there are 500 tips in a box, and I use approximately one (sometimes two in the summer) a day, and accounting for my husband dipping in to the box once in a while…logic (and math) would dictate that the box will last somewhere around a year and a couple months. Wait…is that right? Roughly thirty days in a month, times twelve, or…365 days in a year…oh…whatever. 

I don’t really care what the exact month or day will be when I next need a new box of cotton swabs on a stick. But I do care how I will feel, whether it will be sunny or a blizzard, if the people nearest and dearest to me will be happy, healthy, safe and if there’s a chance I will have achieved some of my more elusive goals.

Coffee filters, large containers of aspirin and big boxes of Kosher salt are just a few of the other retail goods that render me pensive.

I remember a coffee filter moment many years ago. While musing whether to spring for the brown non-bleached kind, I was really wanting to know: The next time I buy these things will I have lost ten pounds?!

At that point in my young mommy life, I rewarded myself with pretzel rods after each feeding, a salty incentive to will me through round-the-clock nursing. I don’t ever recall pondering life as I bought pretzels. It was far too frequent an occurrence.

Somehow staring at coffee filters, and realizing a chunk of time would pass before I’d be in this exact spot again, brought my own need for change, momentum, to the forefront.

The drive to account for time—my time—still flourishes in me. Like a tulip bulb fighting winter’s persistence to break through and bloom.

Last week, a “Four Years Ago Today” picture of the boys popped up on Facebook. John was in fifth grade, Will third and it was crazy hair day. The picture is so them, then and now. A confident older brother who re-wrote the premise of the day by stacking ten scally caps one atop the other. A deliberate younger brother unsure of this strange custom with gel applied conservatively to his almost green hair.

It’s easy to see and feel life evolving through our kids. It’s harder to account for time and progress—our own—as a parent in perpetual motion.

If social media has taught me anything it’s that there are very few unique thoughts in the world—just different ways of expressing collective visions through our individual mind’s eye.

Which makes me wonder: Anyone else out there ponder life while buying Q-tips?

Walking Alone

It’s a complicated pursuit, inspiration. But, I’ve found there is one sure way to engage. 


That’s why once a year, in the heart of winter, despite life’s persistent demands…we go…to the woods of Maine.

It took us awhile to achieve flow. Our visits are oddly different each year. 

One year I spilled a tablespoon of water on my laptop causing it to stop working on day two. Another year, one of us got a call that a loved one had been hospitalized. Still another year, someone forgot their suitcase and had to traipse to the local consignment store for a purple sweatsuit that has become standard retreat wear. This year one of us was on the verge of big change, the messy kind that life often brings. 

The combinations and circumstances vary. But the guts are always the same. 

We’re there—together.

We write.
We make excuses, and 
We go for long walks, and
Take naps, glorious naps.
We share our work.
We sip wine.
Eat chili.
We venture out into the world for at least one meal.
We snicker when our roommate hums, and
Worry about the people we left at home and wonder…
What are we doing here?

And, then we write, and
Write some more.
Take more walks.
Sip more wine.
Eat more chili, this time with baked potatoes. 
Set goals.
Share work.
Take that last walk.

Toward the end of this year’s time away a co-writer returned, red-cheeked from one of those walks, just as I was donning my own protective layers. “How is it out there?”

“Cold.” She smiled. “Sorry I didn’t ask if you wanted to go with me but I know you like to walk alone.”

She’s right. I do like walking alone even though nature in its purest form scares the bejeebers out of me. 

But, everything—even walking alone in the woods of Maine—is less scary when inspiration and friends are waiting, willing you to push past those pesky self-inflicted limitations.