Does it bring you joy?


With one of my literacy teachers (the tall one) and three of her students.

I recently realized that life in my 70s has a guiding question that could have come straight from Marie Kondo, the tidy-up guru, though I have never watched a single one of her TV shows or videos and my house still retains pockets of clutter.

In fact, I apply the question, “Does it bring you joy?”, more to my life as a whole than to my dwelling and possessions, though I make sporadic efforts to apply it there, too. I use it to tidy up my life, so to speak, to focus on the things I really want to do.

It has not been an easy question for me to answer. One reason that it guides me now is that my answers to it have evolved over the years and shown up in surprising ways that I would not have guessed in earlier times. Continue reading

Nevertheless, joy persisted

Pictures pop up from a year ago. People are sitting around a table at an open-air restaurant on a busy street in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. They are waiting for pizza. It is my birthday, but no one knows that until I tell them. The picture is taken before I tell them, and they are looking subdued. As I recall, telling them about my birthday, reluctant as I had been to do so, livened things up and it became a party. Continue reading

Calling Grandmothers

One of the first things I decided to do after the 2016 election was to stop coloring my hair. In the months that followed, the light brown I’d adopted for the past 20 years, something close to the color I was born with, gave way to snowy white. I am delighted with my new look, the result of genes inherited from my white-haired father and grandparents.

I told friends that I’d been waiting to stop coloring my hair till I was pretty sure it was growing out all white rather than gray. But there were deeper reasons for choosing to go white at that particular time, even though I couldn’t articulate them at first. Continue reading

Extravagant beauty

With full awareness of all that is ugly in the world, I am obsessing about beauty. I don’t believe these thoughts represent escapism so much as astonishment. A lesson that has unfolded for me over the past year is that nothing in this world is to be taken for granted. And so I’m trying to keep my eyes and my heart open and when I do this the beauty of life nearly overwhelms me, as does the impulse to experience, create, and extend this beauty, which represents Love. Continue reading

Divine baby love

Ooof. There is such a thing as emotional multitasking when your attention is pulled in wildly different, significant directions. Not a rollercoaster, with highs and lows, but rapid shifts between different realities.

I realized this when I sat this morning for a full hour and a half, alone in a quiet house, with my brand-new grandson, and was flooded with such huge hit of love that it shook tears from my eyes. Continue reading



I am in full grandma mode these days. Nearly every week for a period of two months my husband and I are making the 3-hour trip to the other end of the state to help with our daughter’s family while her mother-in-law, who usually is on call nearby, is out of the country. We spend two nights and the better part of three days. It is a privilege and lots of work. The six-year-old is mostly in school but a very dynamic presence when she is home. We spend most of our time with Ethan, who is going on 19 months. Continue reading

It’s all baby, baby

FullSizeRenderThere are grandmother hormones. They have not been named yet but one day, for sure, we will know that there are actual chemical connections that make our arms itch to hold newborns and drive us to the floor to play pretend with preschoolers when we ourselves are well past childbearing age. Continue reading