Chaos / Collision

Today I’m working on a hard section of my Big Fat Writing Project. It’s a particular stage of long term “recovery.” When the needs of those impacted directly collide with the bureaucracies intended to “assist”. I’ve struggled with this chapter. Wrestling with this material is a good mirror of the experience itself. (Mirror: a reflection […]

Innocence and Loss

We try to protect our children – some of us. Thinking some realities are too harsh to introduce to our children. Wait we think. Let’s wait. Wait. Until they are older. They don’t need to know this yet. We call that period before they know that everything that matters is fragile and subject to loss, […]

Saints and Suffering

Sometimes when I’m really really happy and life seems to be going well, I don’t quite trust it. A lifelong habit of anticipating disaster – with an eye toward averting the worst – interferes with my enjoyment of the present. There’s more than a bit of leftover Catholic flavored guilt. Suffering was heavily promoted in […]

Baby I Love You.

Go on and live your life. There will be endless posts about lessons of 9/11. The lesson I’ve taken away is this one: Every single person who knew their life might end that day left a beautiful message of love and appreciation. Every single person who could, told the people they cared about how much […]


breathe through it I’ve been trying to “get over” some losses because even though I know better, the “just get over it” cultural norm pollutes my thinking. I’m not “over” these losses. I’m still in the process of letting go. Of reflecting on what they meant – what they mean now. Someone wise once told […]

The Sweat of Terror

Australia Ten years ago I was in Australia, near Melbourne, with people who had lived through a nightmare. The Kinglake fire is still often referred to as Australia’s worst natural disaster. The Black Saturday bushfires killed 173 people, 120 in the Kinglake area alone. Another 414 people were injured. More than 450,000 hectares burned and 3500 […]

Commandments of Help

How to help in disasters Trust is everything. You can move at the speed of trust. Perform within the container of trust. You will go as far as trust can stretch. Improvisation is critical if you want to be effective. If you lack the courage – or the cover – to break useless rules – […]

On Gratitude

When times are tough we are often urged to be grateful for what we have. My father drove us slightly crazy with his admonishments along these lines. “There’s always someone worse off than you.” This, while true, doesn’t ease the pain a lick. Gratitude can’t be this weak ass thing that appears on one of […]


I hate this word. My son and I have words we just don’t like – Even though these words do their job, we pause when we use them and say: I hate that word. As I work on my Shipwrecked Project I’m avoiding tackling this topic. I’ve got lots of notes on it and stories […]

Small World

I can feel your fear. And mine. I want to write you words. Words that will erase your heart pounding can’t sleep at night eat everything in sight (or nothing) yell at your friends – fear. Are we in too deep for words? Words may not quite reach all the way down to that hard […]