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21 January 2012 @ 12:44 pm

I have been drooling over this photograph for some time now, just sitting with it and IN it, and feeling like quite the aesthete. Until I realized why I was having such a visceral response to it. For god's sake, its the colors of a favorite snack of mine. Geez. Anyone recognize it? I'd love to send you one in the mail to share, but it would be a real ugly mess by the time it got to you. 

It reminds me of my experience after Jill and I had the interior of our house painted. We (okay me) labored over the colors for weeks, painted all sorts of swatches on the walls, spent hours nose down in design magazines, and consulted a very talented friend of mine who had her own personal painting color wheel.  When the job was all done, we were both really thrilled with it. And still are! Except about a month after we finished, I went to have lunch out at a fast food joint that I was frequenting entirely too often. I walked in-- stopped in my tracks-- and laughed until I nearly cried. I'd duplicated all the interior colors of Taco Bell. 

I think the moral of this whole story is that you are what you eat. So eat well, eat outside your comfort zone on occasion, and eat to feed your body, mind and soul!

I received this below in an email this morning as one of those messages you are supposed to forward, but I don't ever feel comfortable doing that to my friends. But, I think this one is most lovely and wanted to share it all the same. If you are alone to do so, read it aloud. Its got some juice. You'll feel it.  

"Today may there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us..."

Off to buy the ingredients for a Cherry Vanilla Smoothie (Greenie). Supposed to be a total party in your mouth. I will report back, promise. 


13 January 2012 @ 05:10 pm

y blog account seemed to be stuck in some stuperous holiday hangover and I couldn't get it to upload a single, solitary pixel. Geez!  I'm feeling very triumphant about my success today. Please accept my belated wishes for an extremely sumptuous New Year. 

Mine has been-- uh, interesting so far! I will be back soon to tell you more, and to warn you about asking God to show off in your life. Carolyn Myss, my spiritual dominatrix, warned me about that prayer. I considered her cautioning for about eight seconds before I let 'er rip. The prayer went nuclear.

God save me. Seriously.
From the rubble,
Current Mood: indescribableindescribable
25 December 2011 @ 09:37 pm

This is one of my favorite Baby Jesus images. So many of the others that portray Him have him looking like he is three years old, decidedly un-infant-ish. People, he was brand spanking new! He wasn't capable of holding his head up, or holding his arms outstretched for hours at a time. And he certainly wasn't holding court with charm and  graciousness. He was probably screaming bloody murder! Most of us can't endure a whole night without our pillow-top mattresses. Imagine sleeping on hay in a wood trough with day-old skin. He was likely cold, sticky and mad, wishing he had a one-way ticket back to the Celestial City. And dear God, poor Mary. Imagine, her predicament... the indignity, the utter lack of privacy, absence of healthcare, and having to endure this all in front of her long-suffering fiance, Joseph. 

After the late-night service with the Episcopalians last night, I headed over the the Mission where they have a life-size Nativity scene with real animals. It was close to midnight and Baby J had just arrived. Nearly everyone was already inside for Mass so I nearly had the whole place to myself. There's a fence around it so the animals don't wander off, but it is all I can ever do not to climb right in. You know what I mean? Don't you just want to get IN there? No? Okay, well fine-- me, I can barely restrain myself. 

There was a lovely old sheep that endured me petting her/him for the longest time, and had the most expressive pair of ears. I feel certain he/she wanted me to stay for a sleepover. I was ready to vault over the fence. I could have so happily curled up in the hay with him and his bunkmates. (Note to self to add to Bucket List: Sleeping in a Nativity Scene)  

A lovely, wise woman was talking to me this week about the gifts I was preparing for Baby Jesus. Feeling at a great loss for anything valuable I could come up with right now, she suggested I take Him all the messy things that were kicking me in the solar plexus. These would make the WORST ever presents. But I trust her guidance a lot, so after I loved up all the animals, Baby Jesus and I talked. I assured Him next Christmas I was certain to bring some really cool stuff, but for this year I was bringing him an giant existential hairball, a case of hives that won't quit, and a very bad attitude about something. I didn't get hit by lightning or stoned by the Shepherds, so I left it all there, came home and slept like a dead girl. God, I love that Baby.

I hope you all have had an absolutely gorgeous day doing just what you wanted to do with those you most wanted to do it with.

In peace, with love,
Mary Hershey

Current Mood: hopefulhopeful
20 December 2011 @ 10:34 pm
Hanukkah Day VI by EgretStudios

A candle is a small thing.
But one candle can light another.
And see how its own light increases,
as a candle gives its flame to the other.
You are such a light.
Moshe Davis and Victor Ratner

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle.
~Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Hanukkah Day VI, a photo by EgretStudios on Flickr.

09 December 2011 @ 08:35 am
Merry Christmas Texas by some.dude
Merry Christmas Texas, a photo by some.dude on Flickr.

I am reveling in an extension to my stay in Texas—I love being here this time of year. Small town Texans know how to do the holidays up right! I was here just  in time for the Festival of Lights parade, my annual Frito Pie capitulation, AND best news of all, for the birth of Madeline Kate, our first niece. She is about the tiniest thing I’ve ever seen with perfect sets of miniature EVERYthing. I find that so remarkable! Miss Dottie and I have been very busy trying to lend a hand where we can. She sent me off to Bill’s Meat Market yesterday to buy a pot roast so we could prepare dinner for the new parents. I read all the labels on the big red chunks of meat that looked roast-ish. There were rumps and shoulders and some meat called Chuck, but no roast named Pot. Finally, a man in a bloody white lab coat with a cleaver the size of a banjo —seriously—came out to help He explained that a pot roast was any meat that you put in a pot. Okay, fine. How is one to know that?

Texas never fails to lay a hold upon me. I feel certain that my respiration cycle slows while I am here. Every part of me quiets, loosens, thaws. I usually always tap into something that is unfolding within me. Is it Texas or is it simply that fact that I am away from home, away from the cyclotrack of my life? I really need to figure out how to import this. Or, maybe not. Maybe I just need to come back here more often. I think there are places that we each find that embrace us and this town, this space is one of mine. Leaving is always a little loss for me.

Being here always allows me the luxury of reading books cover to cover. Ann Patchett’s latest novel, State of Wonder, is a tremendous work. It is a timely read for me as my life is about to morph into something very different, as does her main character’s. And in both instances, there is a bit of kicking and screaming along the way. It is likely that I won’t encounter any cannibals or anaconda’s as she did, but it is always good to be prepared, for god’s sake. I also liked Sarah's Key, a powerful Holocaust story. And I'm just diving into Sue Monk Kidd's memoir that she wrote with her daughter, Traveling with Pomegranates. Her use of language and metaphor is exquisite. And her articulation of a woman moving into her fifth decade should be a mandatory primer for all of us in that camp. One of the things that she says in bold is that "Something is over." That is so startlingly true, and unfortunately, where so many of us can get stuck. What is not to be missed is that something is beginning. I feel that as urgently and deeply as a riptide right now.

As I’ve alluded to, big change for me is afoot! After nineteen years with the VA, at the end of January, I will be moving on. I am not sure yet what I will do next except finish the novel I am working on, and continue to follow this spiritual path that seems to be unfurling at my feet. It feels more like a suspension bridge at times and I can’t see what is holding it up. Therein, the sweaty palms.

I just keep saying YES. That’s all I’ve got. And I know it’s the rightest thing I’ve ever said. 

Love and blessings to you each-- 

P.S. Leave a comment today about your favorite geographical space on earth and I will either send you the ingredients to make your own Frito Pie, or a copy of one of these wonderful books. :- ) 

27 November 2011 @ 07:45 pm
35 days of gratitude #3 by InsideMyShell
35 days of gratitude #3, a photo by InsideMyShell on Flickr.

I feel quite certain that I will not need to eat for the entire duration of November and most of December. I ate my body weight in mashed potatoes and coconut cream pie on Thursday, and make no apologies. Except perhaps to my favorite corduroy pants that bear the brunt of it all. I'm going to recommend to the US Thanksgiving Committee that perhaps we gorge during odd years and fast during even years. We could all send our grocery (and Black Friday funds) to a place of need during the even years. Let me know if you think we could make a go of this. I could get a petition going.

For my Thanksgiving holiday, I reveled in three days sitting on the lovely blue hem of the Pacific, breathing in her girth, gust, and greatness. And held softly each moment of my mother's company in an open palm. And I thought about Great Big Things-- the word's hunger, and a nation in crisis, and Little Inconsequential Things-- my day job, my grey roots, my petty fixations.  And felt, as I often do, the uneven yoke of all that. 

Moving into a place of gratefulness can create balance. It's where the Great Big Things and Little Inconsequential Things can meet and begin to move together in a more harmonious place. It's where gratitude-- a nearly cliched word that clangs in my ear like grab, gab-- is transformed to it's most holy essence, nearly unspeakable, like a flutter of a tiny wing, an intimate gasp of delight between you and the Divine. 

I am profoundly grateful for so many things-- my inspiring partner, my comedic critters, my Irish clan, my gorgeous and soulful girlfriends, my much loved Fairy Goddaughter, my robust health, all that is to come post-VA, and and miracle of childhood fantasies becoming real in a writing career.  And for all that is headed toward me on my path-- some welcome and some probably not so much. I'm grateful that I have access to the grace I will need when I need it (she says with mustered confidence). 

I'm SO grateful for the written word-- for all the authors that have served as parents, mentors, friends, divine inspiration. 
I'm grateful for the healing and hope that I have found in books. I am deeply grateful to be a one miniscule voice in the great cosmic soup, and for the children that write to tell me that my books mattered to them. It makes everything else all so worth the while.

I'm grateful for those of you that come to this place to connect. And to show you just how much I appreciate you, I am offering you (or your favorite library or child) an opportunity to win a copy of Calli Be Gold by new Wendy Lamb author, Michele Weber Hurwitz. All you have do do is answer the following questions.

1. True/False:  The picture above is Mary Hershey standing on those books.
2. If you answered "false", why couldn't that possibly be Mary Hershey standing on those books?

Good luck!
Love and light,
Mary Hershey

11 November 2011 @ 12:37 pm

I have been on Facebook a while this morning trying not to cringe at all the references to servicemen and photos of people's male relatives and ancestors. I am terribly grateful to all the men that served-- have no doubt! I have spent the last 18 years of my life working at the VA doing all I can with one pair of hands to mitigate some of damages of war to men. And I am glad we have a day to reflect on their mammoth contributions. There are no words to fully express my gratitude.

And that said, I have such a hard time with way in which women in the military are overlooked decade after decade after decade, though our ranks continue to grow exponentially, and our contributions have profound impact on the success of the military.

I never quite get this except that I suppose people just don't like to consider that mothers/daughters/granddaughters/sisters are overseas, armed, and facing unspeakable danger. I guess I get that, but I don't like it. I like to live in truth and keep reality right in front of me.

I'm going to quickly climb down from my soapbox because I don't want to spend any more time away from the real message of this post which is-- thank you. Thank you to all my sisters that served and are serving-- that have been hurt in ways that we can see and ways that we can't see, but have changed your lives forever. For all your hidden wounds, and all that you've lost, I thank you.

Every last one of you is an American hero, and you are in my heart today.

SP-4 Mary Penney
US Army Military Police, 1974-1976
05 November 2011 @ 09:25 am
Hope (just another chance) by mickiky
Hope (just another chance), a photo by mickiky on Flickr.

"It is my belief that any regular practice is a good practice. It is my belief that if you bicycle, it will teach you. If you walk, it will teach you. If you bake bread, it will teach you. What will teach you is the "it" that you do because that "it" is doing you: doing you a favor, doing you a service, doing you a good turn, a grace, a job."
                                                                                                                                                        -- Julia Cameron

One of my new teachers is Driving. I am doing a lot of it these days for work and for visiting my mom. I am trying to use the time for good-- to relax, to debrief, to be "outside," to be observant, to weep unobserved, to listen to beautiful things on my CD player, to be read to by authors who write seriously exquisite stuff.

Yoga and Swimming are two beloved teachers-- they are so blissfully quiet, but work me till my muscles pulse, throb and I'm near breathless. It's the most extraordinary feeling of being alive and IN one's body. 

Headmistress Writing is my most revered teacher. I never know what she will have in store for me on any given day. Some days she has me in stitches, another day in fits, and sometimes we have a staring contest. Some days I can hardly keep up with her-- those are the best days. She pushes me to the carpet. She humbles me. She moves me. She isn't afraid to pick me up by the scruff of the neck and give me a well-desevered smackdown. She doesn't think twice about waking me up early when I want to sleep more than anything. I've been known to curse her on more than one occasion. Still, we carry on.

Who and what is teaching you??? 

Love, peace, and practice,

31 October 2011 @ 09:33 pm

I worry about the dead. I know I shouldn't because I seriously have my hands full with the living, but there you have it.

I am awfully glad that I have tomorrow to let my preoccupation have full breath and breadth. And i like to think that on All Saints Day, our dearly departed are near, or at least nearer than usual. I love thinking about the communion of saints coming together on their holiday to check in with us.

I hope to God (literally) that they all have landed safely in some way and I would like some assurance of that. I know that the Pope cancelled Limbo some time ago, but still no word on Purgatory--and the mere name "Purgatory" conjures up the dreariest, saddest landscape in my mind. I want everyone OUT of there now. At least get them some OJT in heaven to get them ready. Purgatory bums me out big time. It should be shut down. Once I die, and get to the other side, I'm planning a big campaign against it. Occupy Purgatory. You can join me, if you'd like.

Some really luminous souls passed this year, and the light here on earth is dimmer as a result. Wherever you each are, I hope there is white sand and maple scones, enormous vistas and an incredible menagerie of animals. I pray you are content with your life well-lived. I think No regrets is the best road to take. I hope you can feel our love and longing from this side. I can't wait to meet up with you again!

Please keep an eye on us, will you? We're into some nasty ass stuff down here. Sure, we have our good moments, and we even have a few living saints. But mostly, we make a lot of pretty unholy messes. Feel free to give me a heads up, a nudge, or even a serious head butt if I start drifting too far afield.

I plan to eat some cake in your honor tomorrow.  You are missed.

Mary Hershey

10 October 2011 @ 06:27 pm
hope. by cheska annelliese.
hope., a photo by cheska annelliese. on Flickr.

God University is working overtime to teach me about Hope right now via a couple of lovely souls in my life. I'm really trying to get it. So far I'm flunking the class and am about ready to get sent to the Dean's office.

I do ::get:: that Faith, Hope and Love are a team. But I've always had a feeling that Hope got picked for this team last. I don't know why I think Hope is a weakling but I always have. Like Hope would never make it on it's own. You never hear anyone talk about Hope, Faith and Love, Hope always gets sandwiched in there between it's more robust teammates. Hope is the younger sibling, the runt of the family with a concave chest and feet that trip him up constantly. Hope has a runny nose all the time.

If Faith is Rocky Balboa and Love is Mother Theresa, Hope is Jan Brady of the Brady Bunch.  If Faith is blazing peacock blue, and Love is a pulsing near-blinding orange, Hope is ballet slipper pink-- sweet, but no guts.

If Hope is a gift, maybe I've not unwrapped it. It may be still encased in maddening plastic. Or, I'm using it all wrong. Seeing it all wrong. 

I'm tight with Faith and Love. I'll go just about anywhere with any of them--I'm their hound dog. President of their Fan Club. If Faith wants me to take a stand, dadgummit, I'll try. I believe in Her. I admire Her. One of my earliest childhood fantasies (prior to Catwoman) was that I would be one of those early Christians in the colosseum. I was ready to be eaten by a lion. Bring the big kitties on.  Love calls me? Some days my heart just runs with lava-- there is seemingly no end to the connections and compassion I feel. (Unless I've not had a full complement of sleep, then I hate most everyone unless they are four-legged or work at Starbucks).

Hope has hurt me. Living with Hope is so vulnerable. Or, maybe what I am calling Hope are just tiny Hope's tiny seeds that I keep sealed up in a snack-sized Ziploc in the protective shadow behind my heart. Fearful of bringing them to the light. Fearful of even feeling letting them breathe or sprout. Maybe in seed form they can't do what they are meant to do. Maybe it's like feeling Love and trying not to share it with anyone. Trying to keep it all to yourself which never works. 

Is that really Hope? Man, I'd love some tutoring here--


Current Mood: confusedconfused