Serenity prayer aikido-

Serenity prayer aikido– what can I change? what can I accept?

And yes, Wisdom to know, now please.

Let uke grab and hold. Notice how it feels. Breathe, seek wisdom by staying with the feelings and moving with the energy provided.

The answers come in the situation, courage to change what we can, ourselves. Serenity to accept we can change ourselves, Wisdom to know which is which.

In life it can be trickier because bad motives cower behind good intentions. Careful attention must be paid to the now so the responsibility that comes from acceptance of what we can change does not allude or overwhelm us.

True technique and true love are rooted in this prayer and this practice.


I asked him to take it back but he didn’t.

Ki in daily life is the writing prompt Ron gave me a few days ago. I asked him to take it back but he didn’t.

I am feeling blah around it but I am practicing new behaviors so here we go.

I have noticed lately that I am feeling low. I am not excited to get out of bed. I am having a lot of negative thoughts like:

“I have worked my whole life and this is where I have ended up.”  I need to make more money or have more recognition.” Now the more money would be nice but I don’t need someone telling every second that I am doing a good job.

As I have said before I am turning sixty in a few days. I think the pall that I feel is because something in the back of my mind says 60 is the big one: the one where we really are all done. No more fun…just grown up hard stuff.

That being said…and I am going to keep telling about it until it passes because I know that it is a lie and if I keep telling it will diminish like all untruths…only the truth lasts and I want to live in the truth.

That being said…I feel great. Last night Ron and I went for a bike ride after work. We had a nice healthy dinner and then cleaned up the kitchen.

We played mitts and sticks and then an exciting game of “Ticket to Ride” where we had some healthy fun feuding.  He gets to wear the imaginary engineer hat and scarf because he won yet again.


Work felt long yesterday and I felt lonely for a bit and sad because I think I don’t get to see my family enough.

I noticed all this because I pay attention to my feelings and notice when they arise and how long they last and if they are true or a deliberate manufacturing of self-pity.

Ron and I have a lovely life together. Yet I can wander away from it to torture myself with “what ifs”…”what if we lose the house?, what if I die first?…what if I die last? What if I get dementia?  What if I am a street lady?”

I can let myself get filled with self-centered fear like a helium balloon that breaks the string and flies off to balloon heaven (or hell).


I practice ki in daily life by coming back to what is real. And what is real in each moment is that I am ok. I am so ok.

Then I can see if I am ok in this moment maybe I will be ok in all the moments. One moment at a time.

I come back to now by doing something physical…it may be going for a walk, hopping on my bike for a spin, doing some ki exercises, juggling for a few moments,  vacuuming the floor, sweeping the cobwebs off the lights and my mind. Sometimes I go out to the dojo and do rolls just to remind myself that I can.


I might write down what is bothering me, or I might write a gratitude list and share it with my gratitude group. I might write an email to my sponsor or tell Ron what is going on. I might write my blog. Sometimes I just get on my knees and pray for help. I have many tools to bring me back to the moment where all is well.

I think the challenge of getting older is to stay in the now as much as possible and to appreciate all the gifts that abound around me.

I do not have to give up and sit in my chair like my mother did. I want to grab the rest of this life and live it. I love to be alive and I am happy for the chance to see what my sixties look like on me.



my memories of her are like photographs


My memories of her and I are photographs, really.  I do not need to get the albums out because I remember certain pictures so vividly.  They help me keep in mind why I love her.

The first one was the day after her birth.  She was born the weekend of the Miami riots, and the day Mt. St. Helens blew.  I was stretched out on the bed in our furnished efficiency in Ft Lauderdale. Dressed in a white and pink bunny sleeper, she nestled snuggly in the crook of my arm.  A thin silky cap of dark hair topped her red pruny face.  My hair was in braids, one curl, an escapee, lay on my forehead.  My face was red, sun burnt from a visit to the beach two days before.  I looked tired and happy.  I can remember distinctly how right it felt to hold her soft, lovely self close to me.

The next photograph/memory is of her skating in our driveway in Texas.  She was four years old.  She wore a short maroon cheerleader jumper with a big white A on the front.  Her plastic blue and yellow clamp on skates clattered and scratched as she stumbled around the driveway.  I was sitting on the front steps on the phone with my mother.  She turned her blue eyes huge behind oval glasses.  Brushing a wisp of long blond hair from her sweaty freckled face, she shouted, “Mom, tell Gram I go soooo fast.”

There are other photographs and memories, but for some reason unbeknownst to me those two stand out.

I saw her last Sunday.  Her pants were pushed down to a place on her hips where it seemed  like a miracle was holding them up, her huge, baggy shirt tucked in just so.  New expensive black sneakers, several silver rings and many ear piercings completed the ensemble.

“Mom, do you really like my new hair cut?”

“Yes, honey, I love it.”

How could I not?  Her blond hair was all the same length, clean and its natural color!  Sometimes when I turn and see her I am amazed at her beauty.

When the phone rang Wednesday night I did not have any misgivings.  The voice of her foster mother stated evenly, “She’s gone.”

It was the nineteenth time I had heard those words.

I finished the conversation, asking the right questions, hearing the same old assurances.  I walked back over to the couch and waited for the feelings to come.  They did, but not until 2:05 a.m. when I was starkly awake, my stomach a-twirl.  The coyotes were howling in a surprisingly God forsaken way.  A lone car crawled up the hill, turned around and zoomed back down.   I tried to pray and must have slept.

Today I am sitting with my feelings; my questions.  Where is she?  Who is she with? What is she doing?

It’s weird; sometimes I feel like celebrating her free spirit and other times I just want to put my face in my hands and cry.

I started going to al anon meetings when my daughter was 14. I had been sober in AA for 8 years. Emily started running away from home when she was 12. We tried to do everything to stop her short of tying her to the bedpost. (Don’t think it didn’t cross my mind.)

I knew in my head I was powerless but not in my heart. She was my daughter…my responsibility. People in the rooms would pat my back and tell me to detach with love. I had no idea what they were talking about. She and I were so enmeshed it would have been like cutting out my own heart.

I kept going to meetings. One day I heard a lady say if you can’t detach with love then just detach and if you can’t just detach…..detach with an ax.  That made sense to me somehow.

So I stopped taking her calls and going to see her in various foster homes and special schools for about six months. My husband took her calls and we communicated through him. It was a good move for me. It gave me some space and breathing room. Having a chronic runaway drunk and drugged teenager makes the whole family crazy. My reactions were making me insane.

I started working the steps and keeping the focus on myself. I got a sponsor and spoke at meetings. After six months I was able to go see her and talk to her again. I have been able to stay in love with her since then.

I have had some slips around her…I think it’s normal because she is my daughter.

We have a guarded relationship today. She is still working on her story. I love and accept her. I don’t try to change her. I mind my own business, go to meetings and pray …and so I have a beautiful life. I finally know what detach with love means.


I wrote the first part of this paper when Emily was 16. She finally stopped drinking when she was 29 after giving her children away just as I had done before I got sober. The stark reality of giving children away rang in my heart like a frozen once struck chime. It did the same for her. She now has been sober for 8 years. He oldest son was born on the 15th anniversary of my sobriety. Life is sweet today. Great pain provides a wonderful contrast for simple quiet days.


Call her back


Our power circle is what it is for each of us.


Mine includes god, people in 12 step fellowships, Ron, members of my dojo and my daughters, my ancestors and angels, and people everywhere that are recovering from hurts.


On the show Longmire, the picture of the young woman on the couch describing her feelings after she was raped was me. I saw myself in her. She was in the exact position on her couch as I was on mine, with our blankets at the same place under our chins. She shook me to my center as she spoke for me. Ron suggested that we had had enough of that show for the night.


The next night we watched the woman call herself back.  The old wise woman said that “her self” was taken from her. The old wise woman insisted that she call out “Morning Star, Come back.”

Morning Star dared to call herself back. “Morning Star,” she called out, softly and bravely. “Come back.”


Then she cried and her circle of women embraced her.


I thought to myself, “I could do that.”


That night I prayed, hopped into bed and slept soundly. I awoke in the early morning hours. I noticed how comfy and safe I felt in my warm bed with my husband Ron sleeping peacefully next to me. It occurred to me that it was time to call myself back. I called out softly and bravely, “Come back, Mary Catherine, come back.” I fell back asleep. When I woke up in the morning I could feel her. Mary Catherine is back. I am so grateful.


I am sharing this with my circle. I know that my circle includes all who been hurt and have had themselves taken from them. I want to tell you again that I called Mary Catherine back as Morning Star called herself back. Mary Catherine did come back. Healing can happen. It takes time and patience and work. It is happening for me. Mary Catherine is back and I am so happy to have her.

It may not seem like a big decision to you but calling myself back was the most important decision I have ever made.

Letting myself slip away, first as a child unknowingly and then as an adult unconsciously, I had diminished myself to a shadow. I am sure I looked like a person to others on the outside. On the inside I felt frozen and missing. Missing from feelings and emotions but not actions. I could act and I did.  I had been acting for years; acting like I was normal and having a fine time with daily life.

When I saw the scene in Longmire I related profoundly. I felt Morning Star’s pain and I felt hope that I could be called back too. I didn’t even know I was missing until that moment. I felt like an observer to my own life. I would think to myself, “I wonder what someone else would feel like in this circumstance,” and then I would act like I thought a real person would act.

Separation from me must have started very early because I have been an observer of myself for years. Grade school was painful and I learned that to be part of children’s life you must adapt on the fly. Being invisible served me well. I would try out a behavior and then notice how humiliated I felt when again I did not get the social norms. I would go back into my barely seen self. I seldom spoke and often pretended to be sleeping. Some might call it shy but I felt more like the unseen. If I could not see myself then I was not there.

I could blend in at home too….if my father slammed the door in a particular way I remember slinking off and disappearing in the house. I suppose they could see me but I kept my energy level low and was less likely to get tossed about the house or screamed at.

My teenage years were especially painful. I wanted to be seen but could not bring myself to speak. I did learn some facial expressions that conveyed sarcasm and wryness while still covering up my rotten gaping teeth.  Once in a great while I would forget myself and smile only to be reminded of my folly with the look of disgust or pitying questions about the dentist.

The only place I felt comfortable being seen was in motion. Whether shooting a basketball, running after a grounder, swimming, diving or riding my bike; I knew freedom. I lost the bondage of myself in the ecstasy of the exercise.

I got my teeth fixed at 17 and started peeking at myself: tiny, fleeting looks cut short by sever self-judgment. I started drinking alcohol at 18 and understood freedom of self. I could act extemporaneously for the first time since early childhood. I loved it. Unfortunately I drank too much, too often, and caused real problems for myself.

I stopped drinking for good at 29 and unconsciously went back into observing, judging myself and disappearing.

I have lived a long sober life and finally the pieces are falling into place. It was safe to call myself back and when the time was right I was given the tools and the wherewithal.

So come back, Mary Catherine, come back to stay. It is necessary. Everyone won’t like and admire you but some will and most important you can continue to learn to accept and love yourself.

Come back, young Mary, Come out from behind that couch. Daddy is dead and will never throw you across the room again for breaking a plastic clock. He can’t beat you with his belt for running and laughing and playing. Your father’s blue eyes and early kindness in captured in your grandson. You can see the pure love in those blue eyes and trust that your father loved you too though caught in his own web of fear and volatile anger.

Come on back, teenage Mary. Yes, your grandpa is dead and will never hug you again or sit on the side hill counting rail road cars with you. But he walks with you whenever you see the wind in the poplar trees or hear a train’s whistle. And whenever you feel that presence that you can’t explain… Grampy is there…he is your guardian angel and will never go away again.


Come back, young mother, Mary Catherine… yes, you were overwhelmed and made many poor choices based in self-centered fear and ignorance.  A few have suffered greatly because of your behaviors and you still must come back. They are still with you in your life and will benefit greatly from knowing you now.

Come back, older mother, Mary Catherine…with children running from you and memories of rape and abuse coming back and the same thing happening to your children. Come back, come back. All can heal. We can heal together but we need you here. There is nothing that is too bad to be faced and healed together.

Come back, perimenopausal Mary Catherine, yes, your anxiety caused you to make more choices to save yourself. It is okay…jobs left and teaching opportunities lost were for your greater good. It is okay. You are here today. We can move forward.


Yes, come back, Mary Catherine, dear. I need you here in the now. It is okay to feel and to see and be seen.  A lifetime of being unseen and disappearing is over. I see you now. I love and need you. You can continue on your path of healing.  The love I give to Ron and receive back from him is tangible.  That feeling of completeness is real.  It my connection to my mother and her mother, to my daughters and to my grandchildren, and to the beautiful large mother that is. It is real….I have faith, unshakable faith. I am here. I am seen and I can feel. Welcome back, Mary Catherine, You are loved here.