our view last night at Happy Hour at Mariposa restaurant

Greetings from Sedona where I sit on my bar stool perch, the same perch I sat on when I had the very first chat with my husband over Thanksgiving weekend 2014. It was late, my family had gone to bed and I was up distracting myself with Facebook.

I had recently been invited to join a small, private writing group via a friend who knew I was getting ready to head out soon on a writing sabbatical to start my book. I’d noticed this cute, younger than me (or so I thought), Psychologist in the group who had kind of the roll of “group cheerleader”. No matter what anyone wrote, he was quick with positive feedback and a word of encouragement. It was no different with me.

(yes, that’s him–his dance born from a typo where “congo” came out vs. “condo”)

It also came as no surprise that after a few exchanges, he sent me a friend request there.

One evening he made a comment on a poem I’d posted which turned in to a 70-something long comment exchange in the group that garnered a private message from my friend Renie, also in the group, “you were flirting with that Psychologist last night!”. I was.

He asked if we could chat privately on Facebook the next day, so we started. It went late in to the night, covering everything from spirituality to dream cars to past traumas. He shared he had been on a dating hiatus for 18 months, “celibate” he described himself.

“Are you a monk?” I asked, having noted his bald head.

“No, I just realized I’m kind of messed up in the woman department so I stopped for awhile.” Now this I could relate to. All of it. I’d had the same realization and done the same thing.

I had decided to let go of relationships and get a dog. In fact, I had my whole next few months mapped out, preparing for that next introduction to my life.


We chatted again the next night, this time more intimate and personal. We realized that something was happening here, between us. There was something about this man that was so familiar, so easy to relate to. We laughed and cried and both had a feeling.

“Where did you come from?” I asked.

“I don’t know, all I know is I was sent to you,” he replied.

I changed the subject fast.

For the last couple of years, dealing with my brother and my aging father and looking out at the landscape of my future handling this all alone, I would often speak to my sister in various ways asking her to send me some help.

“Cindy, you have to find me someone, someone to love who can handle all of this with me,” I begged. I had begged similarly to my mother as a child for help. Help dealing with the difficult family situation we’d found ourselves in after she’d passed.


During that late night chat with my new friend John, the Earth moved. I mean literally the Earth moved. I was downstairs in the quiet as my father and brother were fast asleep upstairs. A loud sound preceded a rippling feeling across the ceiling. I thought a tornado had swept by and did what any stupid person would do in that moment–I ran outside to check. There was a stillness in the air I’d never heard or felt before.

I couldn’t figure it out. I ran upstairs thinking perhaps my very large brother had fallen out of bed. No, but he was awake.

“I think that was an earthquake, Kathy.”

I was still chatting with John who quickly consulted the Gods of Google and confirmed, in fact, there had been an earthquake in Sedona. A 4.3 level one in fact.

“If I were you, I’d be meditating right now,” he said.


The conversation continued late in to the night.

“Would you mind if I did a Tarot card reading on this encounter?” he asked. I already knew he played with Tarot cards pretty regularly so I consented. I felt easy and safe with him and noted the respect he offered just with his question.

We spoke the next day, both of us having gotten little sleep the night before.

“I did the reading and I know where this relationship is going,” he said. “Do you want to know?”.

“No” I answered. And I didn’t. This was kind of freaking me out honestly.

But he told me anyway, either that day or the next.

He’s an oversharer. So am I. I get it.


That would likely turn many people off. But me, coming from way too many situations and dynamics involving secrets and lies, it was the perfect constellation of personality traits to allow me to trust him, and I did. Then, and now. I have never had a moment of distrust over this man and that was/is a first for me. I’ve distrusted men, with good reason, my entire life. I’d been plagued with an inability to trust men, while simultaneously choosing untrustworthy men as a matter of course. It was basically the only game I knew for decades.

This was completely different, and I didn’t quite know how to maneuver in it, but I kept going anyway.

He told me that he’d done readings on every woman who had crossed his path who he had even a remote interest in and they had, every time, steered him away from getting involved.

Until this one.

“The final outcome card was The Lovers,” he said. “I know what this is going to be for us.”

I basically shut him down on that track, but kept talking to him.

Things led to things and, at the urging of my friend Rob who was already headed that direction in a few weeks, I traveled to the East to meet him. Rob later said when he walked me out of the airplane that day that he felt like he was walking me down the aisle.

John and I were engaged on that trip. He got down on one knee in front of the Christmas tree at his rural Pennsylvania home, and proposed with his father’s wedding band on a gold chain. It was perfect.

We were married just about 6 months later in Niagara Falls and I’m still pinching myself. What started off fascinating and exciting has just become both more comfortable and deep and expanded in all ways since.


“I never thought I would find a love like this,” he said last night over a bottle of red wine.

We talked late in to the night on the couch, facing each other–the same couch I’d felt that earthquake on–about our good fortune. How easily compatible we are, the level of trust we share that has only deepened, the almost completely lack of power struggles, the sense of equality and respect we share, the love and passion and fun we have.

And, of course, his little daughter Lillian which has fulfilled a long abandoned dream in me.


Friday was Cindy’s birthday. She would have been 58 this year and she was born in 1958. It felt momentous. On arriving to Sedona, we went to the store and picked up all of the ingredients for her Chicken Cacciatore. I brought her hand written recipe card up with me.


You can read about this ritual here.


We opened a bottle of wine we’d brought back from Niagara Falls which we also used in the recipe and sipped it as we cooked, and dined, together. We listened to jazz and looked at car-porn, one of John’s favorite guilty pleasures.

“I never thought I’d have a woman who would look at car-porn with me,” he laughed showing me the Bentley he’d always dreamed of. I loved it too.


We served the perfect chicken over zucchini noodles. Cindy would have liked that.

We raised our glasses and toasted to her and my husband looked up to the Heavens, tears in his eyes, and quietly said “thank you for sending me.”


Happy Birthday Cindy.

Thank you for sending me the perfect man.  You nailed it.





my secret


Opportunity Found

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time”  James Taylor sang to us all in the 70’s.

I fell so in love with these lyrics when I first heard that song my Freshman year of college that I sat down and played it over and over on my friend’s turntable in her dorm room as I transcribed them.  With an abundance of teenaged angst I’m sure.

We, meaning me John and my Dad were out last night with our dear friend Cathy Hughes enjoying Restaurant Week at a fine French restaurant.  Now she’s a person who truly enjoys her life and goes for it.  She travels constantly, meets people easily, enjoys the entire experiences of culture wherever she goes; learns and shares.


Cathy was the prosecutor who put the men who killed my sister in prison.  And who came out of retirement decades later to assist the AG’s office pro bono to make sure they stayed there.

We’ve been friends with her for over two decades.

Last night the four of us sat on the patio wining and dining.  It was a beautiful night. We won’t get many more here in AZ as summer looms.


As we drove up toward the restaurant, my father made a disparaging remark about others doing the exact same thing -enjoying a meal al fresco- uttering under his breath “idle rich”. 

He then proceeded to, while typically uncomfortable in settings he perceives as fancy, complain about the service immediately, to the server, because our table had received 3 lemons instead of 4 for our water per his request.  And he had a lemon slice in his water.



Growing up in my family, appreciating nice things or fancy things or things that were typically associated with rich people was usually regarded with disdain.

We weren’t those kind of people.

Yet, we were rich.  Or at least my father was.  Go figure.

It’s been a constant struggle in my life.  This learning to allow myself to enjoy or even experience the finer side of life in any form.

I bet that comes as a surprise to many of you.  Because I do many many things that would be perceived as upper crust or maybe even opulent.


It’s taken me a long to undo my programming and get here and I’m still getting here.

I had to get sick, exhausted and with a medical diagnosis to justify my first trip to Rancho La Puerta.  I told my father, either I go somewhere to unplug and rest and be taken care of or I will end up in a hospital with huge medical bills.  I had burnt myself out care taking with no backup for far too long–decades.


It’s often a discussion about money.  Justifying, over explaining, over qualifying.


Now however, I go to the Ranch at least once a year.  Sometimes twice.  One year I went three times. I leave again next Saturday.

It’s my sanctuary, my place of refuge, a place I know without a doubt I will heal.


And I will find my people.

In fact one of them showed up unexpectedly in Sedona this past week, while I was there!

I went up for a short little visit to, well, to clean the house.


smoke from the fire as I turned up the street toward our house

I read on Facebook that morning that the firefighters battling the Slide Fire (scary) were in need of supplies.  I was driving straight past Costco on my way up so ran in and filled the back of my car with electrolyte waters, protein bars, nuts, things like that.

Oh, I thought, that was another reason I needed to head up.

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and dine with the Boys and put up my new hammock (and proceed to fall asleep in it for 40 min)


thankful rain headed that way the morning I came back

The morning after I arrived,  I looked on Facebook and saw a post from my darling friend Louise, who I met at Rancho La Puerta that New Year’s where a group of us really bonded, that she was headed to Sedona!  That day!


Louise and I at Enchantment enjoying a Sedona Sparkler in the breeze.

I’ve said about Louise that she would win any Reality Show she would ever be on –she has that kind of amazing universally liked personality.  She could win Survivor or Chopped and not even know how to boil water.  No one would want to vote her off.  All of our friends at the Ranch that year agreed with me.  I’ve never met anyone quite like her and just love being around her.

I got to hang out with her twice this week up there and here I thought I was just going up to clean the house.  We crammed so much amazing conversation in to those two visits, it was like a week at the Ranch!

Being in the moment, responding and saying yes and no appropriately to life with each step.  That’s part of James Taylor’s secret I’m finding.

I also got to thinking recently about the saying no business.  I ended a going nowhere way too superficial hard to even call it a relationship with someone I’d been seeing for a while last week.  When I reach a point where the outflow has far exceeded the inflow, it’s time to unplug.  On the drive up to Sedona I thought that sometimes the most important element of a relationship is the decision to end it and the way you walk away.


Now that’s a classy way to do it 😉

I feel good about both things on that one.  No hard feelings.  But he wasn’t offering enough and he never would.  I got it.

Now many women would have never engaged in that dynamic in the first place and maybe a future me wouldn’t.  But the walking away in style is something I can be proud of.  I am proud of it.



I mean that man woke up at 2:30am, drove to my house dressed in crisp pants, picked up my suitcase, opened his car door, had 3 CD’s waiting for me to choose from and a bottle of water and drove me to the airport for a 5am flight.  He chose the song “Dance with my Father” by Luther Van Dross as I was headed off on that odyssey with my Dad.  All unsolicited.  After meeting him one time.

Now that was classy.

Unfortunately that amazing moment of Prince Charmliness became an oasis in a sea of disconnected behavior and when I realized that this man had almost never asked me a question about myself, displayed virtually no curiosity in who I am and seemed mostly interested in me when I was leaving, it was time to go.


I told you I will always remember you as that guy who got up in the middle of the night to take me to the airport and I want to always remember you as that guy so I need to say goodbye now,  I said.

I meant it.  And I had zero ambivalence.

I’ve been taught my whole life to subsist on crumbs while a whole banquet is within reach.

I’m good at it.


Saying no to those bland table droppings is something I’ve spent years learning.  And I’m still learning it.

Giving; that’s the easy part.  Receiving, well we women tend to not be so good at that end of the equation.

I’m getting better and I intend to get really good at it.

And that means receiving from myself as much as anyone.

Hapuna Light #1 - Hapuna Beach, Big Islan, Hawaii

For me, at this stage of my life, that often means the gift of time.  Time and the luxury to engage in activities that I just love.  That are things that feed my soul.

I’m fortunate to have many many hobbies and many more I’d still like to pursue one day.  I want to try so many things and some I’d like to revisit like improvisational theatre.  I probably never shared that I spent a year as a paid actress with a company performing Playback Theatre, a form of improvisational storytelling theatre, all over the state of AZ.  It was amazing.  I’d love to get back in to it one day when I’m older and have outgrown my stagefright. 😉

I also will spend as long as it takes believing that a truly great partner is in store for me who wants to scamper along this charmed path together–this is a dream I just can’t let die.  I will say I’m tired of frog kissing, yet I’m having a blast in the meantime and will have some great stories for him to last the rest of our lives on some long plane or road trips.  Good thing I’m a good storyteller.  😉



I looked at Cathy Hughes last night, totally enjoying her retirement, missing nothing about that grind and battle of a courtroom which she excelled at.  She has things she loves and unapologetically goes for them.


one of many gorgeous sunset views from our Sedona home

I’m doing the same and I’m going to amplify that posture as time goes on.

I feel sorry for people who really don’t know what they love or have passions that engage them to come more alive because those are the people who don’t live long after retirement.

You gotta find those things out now, that’s my advice.


For me though, I’m not going to live the rest of my life running around filling in the spaces for people who don’t step in to life in that way, embodying that which can ignite a passion in them.  I’ve done that far too long and with too much expense and I’m retiring from that job as well.  Give me the pre-passioned people.  Yeah!


Give me the alive people, the ones who’s faces go bright when they bring that wine glass to their nose, when they share favorite moments of the trip they just returned from, when their face tingles with excitement talking about the new project they are taking on.


Give me that infectious curiosity about life all around me because trust me, I will give it back.

I want to be this old woman, my face lined with experiences, still excited about taking on a new craft or a new flavor–thirsty and hungry to learn to take in more and more of this life.  That is the person I aspire to be and I’m starting now.


And that’s my secret of life for this morning.

I’ve given enough and in some cases far too much. 

I’ve earned this spacious, luxurious, big, tricked out with aliveness life.  More than most anyone I know.



And I’m going to take it.  All of it and then some more.

Finding my tribe along the way and politely side stepping those shiny river stones that are deceivingly too slippery to step on.


Trusting, the next one will be covered in diamond-like crystals not just inviting my foot with brilliance but providing just the traction I need for safe passage.



peace and quiet



I had such a fantastic two night getaway in Sedona.  Just driving up there and back by myself was something I needed to do.  People laugh when I explain that I’m an introvert because I think most people really don’t understand what that means.  Introvert/extrovert has to do with how a person gets their energy recharged.  Some people need to be around others or out “in the marketplace” to gather energy and bring it in to themselves.  That’s how they fuel their reserves.  Others, like me, tend toward more alone time to get that needed refueling.  I think I probably need more than most and have my entire life.  I remember being happy spending hours in my room alone as a kid.

What’s confusing is you can be extremely outgoing (like me) and still be an extreme introvert (like me).  People will scoff sometimes thinking those two things don’t intersect but I’m here to tell you, once I found that out about myself and started giving myself more permission for that alone time, my life got a whole lot more manageable.

They say (not sure who “they” are but anyway) “comparison is the thief of joy”.  With that thought in mind, introverts, especially outgoing socialization loving introverts can get confused even to them (our) selves.  Yet, once you get that precious alone time to recharge, you know exactly what you’ve been needing and craving.  I’ve started to distinctly plan more of that in to my regular life or I will get stuck on hyperdrive and go a bit batty.

Just spending time, by myself, puttering around the house is quite possibly my favorite past time.  I may do a little of this, a little of that, stop for a bath, return to a project, watch a movie, do a little more.  That kind of “wandering aimlessly” time spent is like a meditation retreat for me.  I just love it.  I found myself just smiling to myself this weekend moving like inside a kaleidoscope from little project to project.

If you’re interested, here’s a good link that really will make sense to an introvert:

Here is a little collage of some things I worked on while up at the Sedona house for two nights this weekend, alone.  Decorating, baking, resting, puttering.


I also did some fun socializing with the Boys and some other friends who were in town. We went to this lovely luminaria holiday event at the charming shopping /dining/arts village Tlaquepaque.  We heard some great music, danced, shopped, roamed.  It was such a Christmas spirit kinda thing.

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We returned to the Boys house for these wild Kiss my Aztec cocktails and more dancing and fun.  Let’s say I just rolled back home in the morning for my day of extreme putterage.  😉


I’ll head back up with my family this weekend but those solo trips are keeping me sane and happy and grounded.  And I can’t wait to show off my handiwork to my family.  🙂

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When John came out to Arizona for a mental health program in the summer of 2012, he told me he would only move to Arizona permanently if he didn’t have to live in Phoenix during the summer.  I can’t blame him, the summers here are brutal.  I didn’t know how I would make good of that promise as there was no way I wanted him to return to the life he’d had in Illinois where he’d become so unstable.  Even for a day much less a summer.

One month after he’d arrived, I took him to Sedona for the 4th of July.  I’ll never forget the look on his face as we turned that corner and he saw the red rock view and he kept exclaiming “Kathy, I love Sedona…I love the red rocks…I love Sedona” over and over.  It was like a magic spell was washing over him.  We stopped for lunch at the swankiest resort in town–Enchantment. We had a drink and a snack and on the inside I was marveling not just at the view but the fact that I was sitting here in this environment, with my brother, simply dining, chatting and taking in the view.  Without his being consumed with symptoms.  It was at this place that I realized we were really out of the weeds with his illness.

Fast forward a few months to January 2013.  We find ourselves back in the same restaurant eating lunch. I took this photo of him that day.  Our Dad had told us some months before that he wanted to purchase another vacation type property for our family.  After much thought, we landed on Sedona for many reasons but the look on John’s face that July day was certainly in my mind. Sedona would be a perfect location.  He could get away for the summer but not be too far.  I have spent years working and training in Sedona so it was just perfect.

By this day in January, I’d been looking online for properties for a couple of months.  We went up there for other reasons but John and I decided to have lunch, then go roaming neighborhoods to see what we could see.  Just a little recon expedition.

We drove in to a condo neighborhood that I’d seen online with just one property up for sale. We stopped by that location, John got out and grabbed the flyer in the For Sale sign then looked ahead and said “hey there’s another For Sale sign up there”.

We drove up to that property, he got out and grabbed the flyer again and to our surprise it was a brand new property, never lived in!  So we got out and peeked in all the windows and liked what we saw.  On a whim I just called the number of the realtor on the paper and she picked right up.  She asked me where we were, I answered “right in the driveway” and she said “give me five minutes, I’ll come right over”.

She showed John and I that home that day and by the end of our tour, my brother was showing me where we could put the Christmas tree.  Every window had an amazing view, upstairs and downstairs.  Three bedrooms, three bathroom, perfect for us.

We convinced our Dad to take a look the next day and let’s just go ahead and say, my father bought that house two days after the day John saw that sign.  It’s our new house!

John has not seen it since the day we toured it.  He spent a month in the hospital with a drug reaction this winter so missed the trip I took up there to accept a furniture delivery.  When I was up there by myself, I realized the builder had left one item behind that they had “staged” the property with.  It was left in Alfonse’s bedroom.


Life isn’t about waiting

for the storm to pass…

It’s about learning to

Dance in the Rain

When I saw this proudly hanging on the wall facing his new bed, I felt like I was seeing that cane by the fireplace in the movie “Miracle on 34th Street”.

Tomorrow we head up together to accept a delivery of all of his furniture/furnishings from his apartment that’s been closed up in Illinois, finally.

For some reason, Alfonse had been accumulating new furniture, new dishes, new flatware, glassware, linens, etc over the last year.  Funny how everything has a “Sedona” vibe in earth tones and “Santa Fe” style.  It’s almost as if he predicted this home purchase.

And finally he will be reunited with all his personal belongings he’s been without for a year now.

And I’m sure I’ll take him back to the Enchantment Resort for a little celebration while we’re up there.

Enchantment, indeed.

I’ll be back in four days or so.  With more stories. 🙂