Reflections on Life, Leadership, Mindfulness, Change, and other Important Stuff

Month: January, 2016

Megan: A Brief Fiction

Megan wept quietly.


The frail old woman lay in the bed, her thin lips pulsing with each breath.  She held the woman’s hand gently and noticed it was almost transparent. She saw the blue-green veins hidden only by the dark brown spots, the jewels of a well-lived life, adorning the woman’s hands

Megan wiped her face and tried to compose herself.


“Mamma,” she whispered.


She thought she saw her mother’s eyes trying to blink open. But it had been several days since she had opened her eyes. Long enough for the last of Megan’s hope to fade into acceptance.


“I need to tell you something, Momma,” she said.  “It’s important.”


Megan sat on the side of the bed looking into her Mother’s vacant face. She didn’t seem to be any pain and Megan was grateful for that small comfort.


“I can’t do this without you, Momma.  I need you to open your eyes.”


“What is it baby girl?” The woman rasped. “Tell me.”


She was awake.  Listening. Talking.


“I–I can’t…my god your awake!”


“Better hurry child.”


Megan’s heart was pounding. Her breathing shallow.


“I’m not sure what to do?  About…you know.”


The woman’s lips seemed to upturn in a knowing smile. She did know.  Megan wouldn’t have to say it.


“Gonna be okay, Megs. Don’t you worry.”


What was it Momma had always said?  “Regret lives in the past. Worry lives in the future. But right now, everything’s alright.”


“I know Momma,” she said.  “But it’s hard.”


“What are you looking at child?”




“What are you looking at?  The trouble? Don’t stare at it. No answers in the trouble. They’re inside you.”


“My brain is a noisy place, Momma. You know that.”


The woman’s breathing grew more labored. He heaving chest fell one final time.


“Momma?” Megan pleaded.


With a great sucking sound the woman drew breath once more.  Yet her eyes did not reopen. In the dim light of evening she left Megan with a final gift. It was a gift she had given so many times before yet one Megan had struggled to open.


“I know, Momma.”


Megan said the first of her last goodbyes. She brushed her Mother’s thin white hair away from her forehead and bent to kiss her cheek. Then she walked downstairs to start making the calls.  The ritual had begun. She had rehearsed her words so many times in the last few weeks.


“I’m afraid I have some difficult news,” she would begin, “Momma’s gone.”


By the time spring arrived, Megan was finding her way in a world that was so different.  She took the balloons to the park on a day when the breeze was steady and the sun was bright. She walked to the top of the hill and heard the hollow boing of the balloons bouncing against one another. Then she released them. As they floated up and away she waited until they were tiny motionless specks hung in a blue sky.


She remembered what her mother had whispered that night. Letting go wasn’t easy. It took practice. But Momma was right. All you have to do is let go. It was a beginning and for now, that was enough.

Almost Happy


Weird Dreams

Bears and cars and my grandmother

and the time I forgot my shoes

before a game;


Sometimes I’m the hero,

Sometimes I’m afraid;


Muff, the dog I had when I was a kid,

being late for the bus

and clowns;


Clowns?  Why clowns?

I’m not afraid of clowns.

At least I don’t think I am.


There’s the one about the dentist and

Bobby Joe yelling at me.

Sorry, Coach;


One time I jerked awake trying to

stop that man with the gun;

I’m pretty sure I did but I can’t



The ones that make me crazy are when someone

I know shows up but she isn’t in her

own body;

or he isn’t.

I mean his voice is the same and he’s saying things he

should say,

but he looks like someone I’ve never met;


The one where I see her in the crowd

and I keep trying to

make my way to her but never get any closer;

I think that means

I’ll never have six-pack abs;


Maybe I shouldn’t eat before bedtime or should get a book

to interpret them,

or go to Delphi and try to find the Oracle;

Or maybe I’m just in the Matrix,

Or maybe my brain is just a playground

of memories and hopes and

fears and love;


Who knows?

I have to go to work.

Dreams are weird.

Probably, this poem is too.

Personal and Confidential: An Essay

When people learn that I enjoy writing they often look perplexed.


Those who have actually read some of my fiction, poetry or essays will respond with varying degrees of approval.  On occasion they will offer, “that’s nice” or “I enjoyed that.”  There are also times when I get the “don’t quite your day job” look.  (I won’t.)  There are times when someone takes the time to write me and email or even write me a letter to correct my grammar, punctuation or, in the worst cases, vent their irritation or set me straight.  So when I got a letter in the letter in the mail yesterday from an unknown sender, someone in California, I was a little ambivalent about opening it.


The envelope was one of those fancy rough-textured kinds of things with an embossed return address on the flap.  It was hand addressed. It felt good in my hands. The handwriting on its face seemed kind.  Now on the rare occasion I receive such a note they normally come as a surprise.  But in this case, I remembered an email a reply to a blog post I had recently received. Its author had been encouraged by something I had published in Tricycle Magazine more than a year ago.  The woman had taken the time to write me a note of appreciation and had addressed it to a former business address.  She told me it had been returned to her and marked “NOT AT THIS ADDRESS.”  So I gave her my new address with the hope she would try again.  In truth, I didn’t expect someone to go to this much effort.


In the article, I had shared some personal struggles about my spiritual journey.  (I know.  That just sounds weird.  I can smell the patchouli oil and incense too.)  The moment I submitted the article I wondered if I should have been so vulnerable.  I’m still wonder.  But the fact she had taken the time to write a kind and generous, handwritten note, to me, someone she has never met and will probably never will, telling me how she identified with my words and how much she appreciated them, was a rich reward for the risk. The things I shared could have remained personal and confidential, buried within me, hiding in the darkness.  But her willingness to acknowledge we had similar struggles helped me remember we all share the same hopes and dreams and fears, and sometimes, victories.


We just don’t let everyone see the difficult stuff.  (And we probably shouldn’t let everyone see everything.)


When people ask me why I write I tell them it’s because its something I have to do to understand the world a little better. It’s also because my Mother reminded me how much I enjoy it and that I should keep at it.  (Thanks, Mom.) I’ll admit I’d like to be a published author who someday makes his living at the craft.  The likelihood is I won’t.  The rejection letters from publishers are piling up.  But that isn’t really the point.  I just write.  And when someone like the new friend I’ll never know writes me a note that is now have safely stored away, I find that is more than enough. So I’ll keep taking the chance of embarrassing myself with silly tales, bad poetry, and observations about the myself, my family, and the world with the hope it moves others to pay a little more attention to themselves and the people around them.  I’ll keep irritating people, risking their disapproval, making grammatical error and editing poorly, in the hopes it might help someone be a little more vulnerable.  It’s funny how taking risks works. It scares the hooey (Is “hooey” a word?) out of you to do it.  But when someone says, “me too,” well, I’d say it’s worth the risk.


And JM, if by chance you are reading this post, please know this.  I’m so grateful for your encouragement and the time and effort you put into to getting the note to me.



I stood,

watching and



She threw herself down the mountain,

covering me with her baptismal mist;

her violent rage

washing and

banking and

bending and


over stones,

across the fallen oak

a casualty of

storms long past;


Splashing from the confines of her banks,

carving new paths

through the tumult

and confusion

of a once gentle stream;

waters from a far away place,

the remnant of some storm in another

time and another place;


She fell roaring,


exorcising herself,

falling into swirling eddies

of contentment;



her soul at rest,

she tarried a bit


gathering strength,

wandering this way

and that,



until she found her way

and was gone;



I stood

watching and


and straining to hear he voice;



And I did.