‘Tis the season of giving thanks and showing thanks and making at cheery and bright. Grosgrain ribbon is a popular adornment of the season because it cuts so cleanly. One of my favorite things to do is to pull at one of the small ends and pull until the weft is loosed and the warp is freed from it’s interwoven supports. Eventually the weft snags and the whole construct is lost and there is a snarl of ribbon left to be thrown away with the ripped paper. This time though, I’m not the one pulling the uneven thread and I feel powerless to stop fate from tugging at the carefully woven ribbon until nothing is left but the warp.

It has to be the season plucking at my anxiety strings. My thoughts blink from one dire situation to another. For example….I am sure I can keep my job if I just keep working yet I’m still terrified they are going to find out I’m a fraud and fire me. I’m making plans, deeply committed plans for my future, and I’m terrified I’m going to sprout a tumor or die just on the cusp of realizing my life’s ambition. What if Sammy dies? My control over what I can control is spiralling again, though I’m not binging at pre-apocalyptic proportions, I’m eating more of what I shouldn’t than I should. I’m forcing myself to eat because I’d rather just not. I want to just go to bed and stay in bed and be done with it.

I’m not that person any more, and I know it. Yes, anxiety still plucks at my strings trying to create a soothing melody for me to stay abed but the melody is discordant to me now and is more like scratching on a chalkboard, but it’s still there trying. Trying just as hard as I am not to give in, but it offers chocolate, and I succumb. I don’t know where I am in the unraveling process, at the begging, the even free flowing warp or the snarl of disposable threads of what is left. Wait, I just realized, I’m not the ribbon in this metaphor, it’s a part of the package, but it’s not all of me. I am the gift, wrapped in God’s love and support and even when anxiety tries to snarl my decorations I have confidence in me and in Him that even through the most stressful season of the year (in a year of stressful seasons) the whole of me won’t be warped, maybe just frayed around the edges for a short season.

As Simple as a Cup of Tea

My monk, Titch Nhat Hanh, practiced something called a tea meditation. It’s said he would spend an hour drinking a cup of tea with his fellow monks. It sounds glorious. Honestly, I’m saying that without rancor or sarcasm. In his book Anger: Wisdom for cooling the flames, he talks about how a cup of tea, when drunk with mindfulness, will bring us back to ourselves. The whole world melts away when you spend the time thinking about nothing else but drinking the warm infusion of leaves, smelling the botanical aromas and feeling the concoction infuse your soul with each sip.

I have started my own tea ritual at night before bed. I’m not able to completely concentrate on the tea, I don’t quite have the discipline yet. I also have a bird who demands my complete attention after being left alone all day. I have a small one-ounce cup I try to put out for her when I drink but she doesn’t seem as interested in the tea as she is in pushing the small cup off the desk. She makes me smile. The tea does make me pause, to inhale the floral bouquet (tonight is lemon balm) and try to exhale the feelings of being overwhelmed, overworked and inactive in the direction I want to go. The herbals I drink at night are designed to promote calm and restfulness of mind after the long days I’ve been having, and the spice teas I drink during the day are to get more liquid and less chemicals into my body for better health.

I didn’t practice last night. I was too tired to do anything, including sleep. I was irritated because work was long, lunch was gastro-intestinally distressing and the work environment dredged up some old forgotten feelings from long, long ago of people long since passed. I watched TV eating salted caramels from Costco and stayed up well past my bedtime (8:30pm!) and still couldn’t sleep. I eventually got up around 10pm took some Tylenol then rubbed a melatonin infused lotion on my legs and feet and eventually fell into a quasi-restful slumber. I blamed my restlessness on the family interaction from the night before, I blamed it on working too much, I blamed it on being too tired to sleep. In reality, I didn’t bring myself back to center with a cup of tea after being scattered mentally, physically and emotionally from the day. Rituals are powerful tools, even when they are as simple as a cup of tea.


It was in the pre-dawn hours this morning while driving to work a baby deer bolted in front of my car. It wasn’t even big enough to make the car shutter as it threw off the small animal like a dog with rain water. I had no time to react, to hit my breaks or to even swerve, which would have put an abrupt end to my day. I pulled over about 100 yards away from the impact and as the morning began to shimmer in the sky I could see the dark body of the fawn on the side of the road. It was too dark to see if it was breathing and it wasn’t cold enough to see the steam from it’s breath. I wanted to believe it was okay and at the same time I wanted to believe it’s death was swift and painless. How those two diametrically opposed outcomes could rest peacefully in my mind still boggles. I couldn’t go to it because I didn’t want to know. It was cowardly, it was inhumane. If it was in agony I didn’t have any means to end it’s suffering, I couldn’t do it for Dotty, a creature I loved, I couldn’t pick up a rock and bash in the brains of a terrified animal to ‘help’.

Many images and thoughts have come from this experience unbidden and not totally unwanted.

  • It’s warning of jumping too soon into my plans for resolution with my sisters.
  • There is the guilt of thinking it was following it’s mother across the road and it was too intent to be with her it didn’t hesitate.
  • Anger at the house which allows the deers to graze in their yard so close to the busy road. It’s not a kindness befriending wild animals.
  • Shouldn’t I feel something more than just casual remorse for the loss of life. I’m too numb.
  • There should be a company you can call where someone quickly comes out, slaughters the venison and distributes it to the poor and hungry before the body starts to break down and spoil the meat.
  • What am I suppose to learn from this? Why did a baby deer have to die in order for me to learn whatever the lesson is? And how many more animals will need to be sacrificed before I learn it?
  • How completely blessed I am because it could have been so much worse.

On my drive home from work I didn’t see the body. I’m clinging to the hope I just stunned the little tyke and it’s with it’s mother being suckled back to health.