Gift of Presence

When did we forget the meaning of being in the moment? Did we even learn this simple task? As we enter the next few days of sharing with family and friends, remember to gift yourself presence. Make a note to stay here right in the moment of awareness. I have very few memories of past holidays with my children that didn’t involve stress: making sure every one was having fun, cooking, moving so fast with exhaustion through cleaning, and the merry-go-round of chaos. Very few times I was able to sit and watch and cherish those moments of pure joy and magic. The holidays always brought with them a sense of duty and lots of work. I look back and can’t understand what all the fuss was about. I cannot get back those moments of being with my young children. They will never return to my present state so I opt to make this very second count.

Gift yourself the NOW! Stay in the moment, At the end of the day the dishes will still be in the sink, the house can wait to be picked up, the wrappers can be part of the living room decor for a while, but your family and friends will not remain with you forever. Make your presence. Take it in, not with pictures, but with the awareness of the moment. I plan on allowing myself time to chill, laugh and enjoy every second that they are here! I plan on loving every moment someone shows up to say hello.

I love you all. Wishing you a safe, loving, and joyful few days. It’s never easy for some of us to navigate this holiday but with a little effort we can make it through with love and awareness. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or whatever else you may call it. Thank you for being part of my life.

The Magic of These Times

This morning…sometime around 1:30AM the moon woke me. I stepped out of the room, tip toeing, as not to wake Matt or Kali going down the stairs. I went outside searching for what woke me, the giant eye in the sky. It was magical. I never ever get tired of sitting outside and watching the night sky and all the incredible mysticism it holds beyond our vision.

I stepped inside, cold, shaking and when I went to the bathroom I witnessed my daddy’s whiskey-color eyes staring back. I hadn’t thought about him in long time. This season always gets me nostalgic. But I also feel the magic in the air…in the sweetness of something I’ve missed for a long time.

My dad left to get a pack of cigarettes on December 23rd, when I was 9 years old. He promised that morning to take me to the store to help me make a list for Santa Claus. He left and never returned. It’s not a fairy tale story but when I look into my eyes now I see his eyes, with the lines of laughter and I have his smile.I also see the millions of reasons for the things he did…like running away when things got heavy, or avoiding dealing with craziness, or simple responsibilities. It was also what made him charming and the life of party. He didn’t have an ill bone to him. I have his crazy sarcastic wit and the ability to talk to an ant as if it was human.

He also taught me what not to become with his absence. The traits I may carry in my genetic pool aren’t for me to act on. I stay and raise my kids. I stay when it gets tough and rough. I stay when it’s way too much and my natural inkling is to run. I also stay because I love. And he taught me that. He missed out on so much. I would never want to experience his regrets and resentments. He died a painful death with cancer all throughout his body for years.

It’s taken many decades to make peace with Christmas. This time of the year sneaks up and pulls emotions out.

So, once I turned the light off I went outside again…said a few prayers to the heavens and I witnessed his response with a shooting star. Like a gorgeous flow of glitter….

That moon…those stars…that magic. Go explore it folks. It’s healing!

There is magic all around us. Do you feel it?

Scrooge no more…


It seems to me that every year Christmas is appearing earlier.  This year it was the day after Halloween.  It used to be right around Thanksgiving.  The stores would begin decorating.  The radio stations would start playing 24 hours of Christmas music.  Next year it will be right after Labor Day.  In two years it will be after the 4th of July.

My fiancé and I were going to the movies the weekend of Halloween and I was searching for music on the radio since I left my IPOD at home.  When the tune began to evolve into Christmas melody I quickly changed it and said, “Nooooo! Gosh, I wish I could skip this holiday season all together.”

Matt asked me why I hated Christmas so much.  I was taken aback.  I decorated last year for him being our first Christmas together.  I have always gone above and beyond in my homes.  I must admit that I didn’t enjoy it but I faked it pretty well.  My children never spent a holiday without the appearance of a winter wonderland at home with magic in every room.  In my huge house in Florida I had several trees with themes.  One was kept throughout Easter.  After Christmas I took everything down and decorated it with hearts for Valentine’s Day, then immediately switched to St. Patrick’s Day ornaments and finally eggs and sweetness for Easter.   Matt’s question took me off guard as I was witnessing a beautiful mountain day.  Did I really hate Christmas?  Why hadn’t I ever thought of it that way?

I have disliked Christmas since 1977.   On the 23rd of December we were gathered at a family’s house celebrating and my father went out to get cigarettes…I’m still waiting for his return.  Every Holiday season after that I hoped he appeared like St. Nick.  Rationalizing that longing or reasoning makes no sense to me now as an adult but the ego and psyche are sometimes irrational beings.  Just because he left in Christmas doesn’t mean he would return on it.  After nine years, at the age of 18, I left home, and found him in Puerto Rico.  I spent two days with him realizing it wasn’t me that made him run.  It was him.  I visited him several times and kept in touch with him until I was in my thirties when he died from cancer.  My dad was 54 years old when I was born.  The man I saw throughout the years went from a 6-1” frame to a tiny sick version of a man.  My heart broke each time for the loss of his mind, body, and spirit.  But, Christmas still must go on regardless of the depth that has finally released with a simple question from my mate.

For the first time ever, Matt’s questioning made me fully aware of why I disliked the joyfulness of the holiday.  I cringe at the melodies, the in-your-face-too-early propaganda of commercialization.  The real meaning of Christmas has been gone since I was a kid.  I don’t see the gathering of loved ones without the stress.  I don’t witness the handmade cards, thoughtful and loving presents.   Christmas, and all the work in entails in a home, is lost in some form of materialistic translation.

This year I would like to skip it just like I wish I could every year, but our grand-daughter is with us.  She will be a year old on New Year’s Day.  The lack of space in our small home is daunting but we will find a place for twinkling lights and ornaments.

For the first time in a long time I left the Christmas music playing in the car yesterday while running errands.  I moved through the uncomfortable parts.  I sat there holding tightly to the stirring wheel.  “I can do this.  It’s okay.  I am not a scrooge.  I can love this season and all that it brings.  I am blessed for all that comes with the love of my family and friends.”  In the end it is about magic, hope, grace, and peace.  The little girl in me is finally coming to terms with a lifelong hidden awareness….and that’s an incredible rewarding Christmas gift this year.  May you find the joy in this season and the love for the child in you!


Sitting in the doctor’s office today waiting on a referral to see a therapist I am reading Mark Nepo’s new book Seven Thousand Ways to Listen.  I put it down.  I hate this feeling of vulnerability, the past colliding after a year with the present.  The holidays aren’t helping, and every moment I feel poked, dug into deeply with sadness.  For someone who is usually pretty happy this feels foreign and almost ridiculous in nature.  The melancholy doesn’t happen all the time, just when I least expect it, when I can’t control the emotions as I clean the bathroom, mop the floors, take the trash out.  As I stop and breathe and continue on the paragraph the words stop me again and I begin to listen attentively:

With each small cry, it feels less a release and more like an irrepressible, unfiltered tenderness at being fully here.  The more of these moments I experience, the less a problem it seems.  For isn’t this what I’ve been after: to be this close to life, to be pricked below the surface of things? Now I wonder: isn’t anything that keeps us this close to life a gift? Now I want to learn the art of puncturing whatever grows in the way in order to feel that moment where everything touches everything else.  I’m coming to see that keeping what is true before us reminds us that there was never a better time than now.”

And, just like that the listening becomes too much for the sanitized and sterile room.  I smell the walls of disease, hurt, brokenness.  I feel the energy from the clinic engulf me.  I stop everything inside and begin to write on my phone:


I listen to the silence
shortly overpowered by
thoughts. It stops.
The quietude of nothingness
gets distorted. I stop.
I swallow in the memories
that prickle and pain me.
The chaos of it stops me
from continuing
the serene path of joy.
I pause, not erasing it all
or stopping the forces
but allowing the tears
to trickle gently down…and out.
Each one takes a little suffering
and then it all stops.
I can breathe again. It hurts
no more,
no less,
not anything. I am back to me
with a wet smile on my face
and the honoring and gratitude
from my spirit
that this too shall pass

once and forever

when I stop holding

betrayal– even while forgiving;

self-criticism– even with the lessons;

and grant the gift of unconditional love

for me

for once…

for all.


Just like that I was able to get through the morning.  It is never easy to admit that things need to be discussed, realigned and released with the help of a professional.  I am great at thinking I’ve dealt with the issues and quickly moving on to the next one.  After a year I realized I’ve just camouflaged them with beautiful ornamental masks.  It is good to finally be proactive and hopefully make amends with the holidays and those who tarnished them.  May you find yourself listening attentively to your inner voice and follow it!

Welcome Home!

As things wind down this week, the holidays upon us, the stress of it all created by the commercialized sensationalism of the media I step back and breathe.  All I want is peace and love.  It doesn’t matter what day or month or year.  All I wish for is the serenity of waking up and feeling the lightness of the life I have chosen to live.  It is beautiful.  In spite of challenges along the way (because that’s what makes it interesting) I can accept that simplicity is underrated.  I crave for it even more during this season.

My boyfriend, Matt, shared with me months ago that he did not celebrate Christmas.  I wasn’t going to decorate this year.  A few weeks ago he said he wanted a Christmas tree.  He hasn’t put one up in eight years.  How can I disregard this?  I used to go all out and put several trees in my old house.  It looked like a miniature Biltmore Estate.  Garland, decorations, lights…the pages of Better Homes & Gardens and HGTV seem to vomit everywhere.  So, here in this simple new life I looked at this man that loves me and he asks for a tree.  You better believe there is a tree going up and he will be the one to decorate it!  Yesterday morning we bought a real tree.  As we went up to the shed to get the boxes of decoration he became overwhelmed, “Babe, I only wanted a small tree with some decorations.”  I respect that.  I told him to pick whatever he wants and enjoy the process.  I want him to enter our home every day and feel welcomed.  I want him to find the peace and love I find each time I come home and snuggle in his arms.

“Welcome home!”  I want my life to say that.  I want it to salute every person who enters my space, not just my home, but my presence and feel the simplicity in those words.  I want to create the atmosphere of love, blessings, comfort and peace.  Whether they enter our home, the retreat center, or I enter their own space, I want to believe they feel those words.  Home is the heart of our spirits.  A house is a building, but home can be anywhere your spirit welcomes another.  “Welcome home!”  Welcome home to that place of simplicity, love, serenity, joy and communion.  Welcome to the life your spirit craves to share with you and others.  I am learning that the purest form of an authentic life is in allowing others to love and feel loved no matter where they are.

I will never forget a famous quote by the author Toni Morrison:  “At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.”  The beauty of arriving to the place of love and salutation is the best legacy you can leave for another…especially in this season that has been forgotten.  Welcome home, my friends, welcome to your life. Find the joy in the simplest of things.  I promise that the spirit of divinity projects an amazing light from that place.  I invite you to come and enter as you share the story of you…!

Holiday Strike

I’ve always had mixed feelings about the holidays.  I raised six children through many celebrating times – in great moments and in difficult ones.  This year I have not decorated the house.  I used to go overboard with designing and decorating rooms to make them as enchanting as possible.  My two youngest will be leaving to visit their father after three years.  This will be the first time I celebrate Christmas alone without children.  In twenty-four years of raising youngsters it is the first holiday that will come and go and have no expecting face looking forward to “something” in the morning.  I am more than fine with it.  Truth be known, I am exhausted from the catering of a month that seems to be turned into a mass-media chaos of gift giving.  The entire significance of these celebrations has been lost to past traditions.

I remember when I first watched, “Four Christmases,” with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn.  I thought, “These people have the right idea…running to an island to celebrate the holidays without having to cater to their crazy families.” (Even though they never got to leave their families) I think the concept is the perfect way of spending these stressful days.

This year I will be enjoying the seven days with quietness.  I get to pick and choose who I will visit.  I can take on my Christmas day tradition and go watch a marathon of new movies.  I have no expectations.  I am not depressed by the idea of this solitude.  I will miss my kids…all of them.  But, I do know that I will see them after the holidays. Santa Claus received my memo and he is static to have one less place to visit!

My father walked out of my life the day before Xmas when I was nine.  He went to get a pack of cigarettes in the other side of the universe.  Never returning for the festivities, I spent many Christmases in my youth waiting to see if he was going to show up around that time.  Somehow I had programmed my little head that if he left in Christmas time he would also return during the season like some sort of festive-boomerang.  Raising my children, an ex who hated the holidays, and making sure everything was just perfect sucked a giant space out of me every year.  I would cringe when I started to see the holiday decorations in the stores right after Halloween.  And now it seems that Christmas is starting even earlier.

The holidays shouldn’t be about stress.  They should be about taking those precious moments of sharing, eating, relaxing and loving those close to you. They should be about gratitude, reflecting and spending time in a spiritual connection with others we love.  We, as a society, have added so much strain into those days.  Just go into any airport during the season and see people yelling, chaotic frenetic behavior, horrific energy everywhere, as they have to appear in some other location that will cause the inflation of any pharmaceutical drug stock on Wall Street to hit all time highs.  Depression is on a rise during these days, and the entire experience of being with those we really don’t want to see is just depleting.  It is what it is because we have created it.  We have created a monster out of the holiday season while missing out on the importance of unity, community, and spirituality.

My children’s father will get to spoil these two teenagers after such a long absence.  I am being spoiled by just the act of him having them.  It is a precious gift this year.  They need this time with him, finally.  I need this time alone, finally.  I love being home.  I love waking up and having a bathroom to myself, clean kitchen and the quietness of my mountain home.  And at the end of the seven days, I will be missing them and wanting them home ASAP.  I will relish the laughter they will provide when they come home to their spaces.

The holidays need to go back to simplicity.  We need to return to the moment of joining in each others’ presence and being present without the craziness of over indulging in material presents.  Setting boundaries seem to go out the window during these times.  I, for one, am ready to dive into a few new novels, some old movies, and the beauty of sharing with those I love.  Have a great holiday season, my friends.  My holiday strike is well deserved for this one time.  I look forward to next year’s bombardment of decorations and chaos.  For now I refuse to let the stress squander the real meaning of these days.  Share, give and receive in spirit.  Much love to you all…Millie!