Bonny M

A beautiful spirit my friend, Bonny McGowan passed on Saturday, August 5th, 2017, and I wrote this for her little granddaughter, Saylor. I hope it will help you, too, understand why we love this amazing Bonny so much. Hold each other closer than ever. Life is so ephemeral and fragile and brief.

. . . .

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.”
~Louis L’Amour

Dearest Saylor,

I know that you and I never got to know each other but I certainly know of you. And of course, I knew your amazing grandmother, Bonny. Not for as long as so many of your tribe knew her, but long enough to be transformed by the mystique and stunningly creative and beautiful spirit that she was—and will forever be. She was a wonderful friend.

Bonny and child

Bonny woman

This is a creation of Bonny’s which was one of many inspirational power cards she made. It’s how I see her spirit dancing free now…

Your beautiful mother and you carry your grandmother’s magic and infinite belief in the majesty and power and wisdom of the divine goddess. It never dies. It grows stronger when given the chance to fly its own unique course and traverse life’s currents on its own terms, in its own way. That was what your grandmother did. She was very much the “Birdy” your mother called her—alighting on the ordinary and instantly transforming it into extraordinary. She didn’t stroll, she practically flew into view, with her scarves and flowy skirts or tight jeans and wild blonde hair and dangly jewelry—gemstones and silver, just the right number of rings and bracelets that made you stop and take notice of her gypsy beauty and style. Her cowboy boots and tango heels. Her passion for music and dance and art and crystals and candles and costumes and Burning Man magic and gardens of flowers and the Bird and Crow that she fed and adored and that great hearty laughter of hers under the moonlight with the best of friends and fighting for the underdog and everyone that needed a lift, a wing to be tucked under, a voice to be heard when they got lost in the crowd. Your grandmother was all that and more.

She was a warrior. An activist. A total original, Bonny was classy and a total head-turner, she reminded me of Cheryl Crow with her sassy sexy quality. Strong-willed and astoundingly creative. And organized in a way that she was able to balance structure and symmetry with design and imagining artistry way outside of the box.

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Lost in Leadville

“I love it. It is wild with adventure.”
Henry Starr describing the bandit life in the Old West before he was shot to death in a gunfight in Arkansas.

WindowLeadville. You can find it yonder nearly 11,000 feet above sea level, known in the late 1800s and early 1900s as the best route for Easterners to head West. And while you experienced the most surreal scenery surrounding it all, you were lucky if you traversed there to survive the elements—both human and natural.

I offer this little preamble because Pete and I just visited this strange Colorado town caught in the web of the past and present woven by ghosts of gun shooters and prostitutes and gamblers and sheriffs and pioneer families and miners and millionaires and jilted lovers and some of the most famous and infamous characters in America’s history—including, John “Doc” Holiday, Carrie Nation, Baby Doe Tabor, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and even Oscar Wilde!

Their bodies might have long exited this god-forsaken city but, trust me, their phantasms are very much alive. In the midst of today’s Leadville coffee shops and hotels and restaurants and antique shops and pubs and theatres and historic sites with packs of tourists everywhere, those Wild West spirits ain’t dead yet.

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My Mother’s Voice…

Happy Soon-to-Celebrate Mother’s Day! I’ve included a piece I wrote a few years ago with a re-touch, but the sentiment is the same. I have to admit that there’s a bitter-sweetness about this time for me. It  will be the first Mother’s Day without my beautiful mother. I know that many of you are experiencing a similar loss now as well, missing your mothers and grandmothers and others—like a phantom limb. My heart goes out to you, too.

LilliesMy mother passed last year and the void echoes loudly. She was such a vibrant force in so many lives other than my own. A beautiful “Lilly” I will cherish forever. It’s the first Mother’s Day also for my entire family not having her to physically celebrate—sister, niece, great niece and nephew, my husband, sons, daughters-in-law, grandsons and legions of extended other family and friends who loved her so much. But among the many aspects of my Lilly that I long for is her beautiful voice and the songs she sang to us—and I now sing to my grandchildren. I so miss my sweet mother’s voice.

Right now, our precious country and entire planet need mothering like never before. Let’s make this a loving time. I’ll be lighting candles, gathering lilies and gardenias (her favorite flower), donating in my mother’s name–and being so grateful and blessed to be Momma, Nana, Auntie C, and Mama Cara. There is nothing better I’d rather be…

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The Nature Remedy

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

You know that great saying, “Holding on to hatred and revenge and anger is like taking poison and hoping it kills the other person?” Yeh. We’re the ones who implode and ultimately die from keeping those abhorrent toxins tucked inside our own cells. I know this and yet I have been guilty of such destructive toxin build-up. So overwhelmed by the world of cruelty and sorrow and brutality that I have been greeting each day with white-knuckles, gritted-teeth and verbal tantrums sounding as if they were lifted straight from “The Exorcist.” I am becoming the hate that I hate. Not good.

The Remedy? Mama Nature. Pete and I took off for the day for a gorgeous nature tuck-away in Morrison and instantly I was cocooned by the “Ahhhhh Effect.” Thanking the Universe for the gift of my senses (if you only have a few of them then embrace and use whatever you have!) I took in the soothing sights, sounds, feels, tastes, smells of the natural beauty patiently waiting to be discovered and embraced.

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The Peace Pebble…

Ripple, water and peace

As deeply moved and heartened as I am by the rallying together for and against everything I believe in right now there’s a gnawing voice in my gut that keeps telling me this is not enough. We’re preaching to the choir. Our like-mindedness is the very thing that caused this political cancer to grow in the first place. We turned a blind eye and deaf ear to those who believe that Trump was and is the answer to “make America great…” These are the people we need to be talking to. Not yelling at or calling names…but seriously speaking to in real efforts to make positive changes.

To listen to each other. To reach out.

Jimmy Fallon had a great bit on his show called Common Ground in which both Republicans and Democrats on the street were asked what they both liked and didn’t like and in that brief moment they found that they did have something in common, they shook hands, laughed and even hugged. It was just a little moment but I found it touching and true.

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Gridlock Life Lesson

It was Friday the 13th. A bright full moon night. My husband, Pete and I were headed out to Manitou Springs (in Colorado Springs), basically around 40-ish minutes away from where we live. I was to give a talk at the Storytellers Project, a popular monthly venue followed by a loyal and pretty large group of storyteller aficionados.

We gave ourselves over an hour to get there by 7 p.m., when Sharon Friedman, the Owner/Director of the Project requested I be there. No problemo. We loaded up the car with some extra books (Strength from Tragedy) hopefully to sell and autograph. Most of you already know the book and topic about my nearly 20-year friendship and correspondence with Anne Frank’s father, Otto Frank.

I was both excited and terrified. Because though I’ve been giving this talk for years now, this would be the first time I was to be speaking “off-book”. In other words, no cheat sheet. No fat notebook in front of me filled with the entire story, quotes, references, etc. Nope. I was to wing it and just tell the story from my heart as I needed to convince myself I already knew it and to tell it in a far more personal way than I’d ever spoken of it before. I was waaay out of my comfort zone.

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My Birthday/New Year’s Wishes…

CandleSo many mixed emotions facing this New Year. The first birthday of my life without my beloved mother to cheer me on as she always did each and every year. I have packs of her letters and notes inscribed with her beautiful cursive and loving words. My little cheerleader of the heart now off in the heavenly ethers of time and memories along with so many others in that ephemeral Land of Use To Be. Gone but never to be forgotten.

Another year of Auld Lang Syne. I was born on the 31st of December so for as long as I can remember I thought that poignant melody was my birthday song. It always made me feel sad inside, nostalgic for something I didn’t even understand why it moved me so but it always did. It still does.

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Why I Share Responsibility in this Upside-Down World…

This morning we watched CBS Morning like we always try and do most Sunday mornings and this one really got to me. It was the segment about those Trump supporters in West Virginia –at one time mostly Democrats but now die hard “Trumpsters.” I could feel my ire starting to boil over and my judgement chip rarin’ to go becoming as vile in my thoughts as I have felt this “other” faction to be. And then I listened to them. And I watched them. And I looked at their lives and their frustrations and their pain and fear.

They have been ignored by everyone. Left out to struggle on their own—once productive, mostly coal miners and their families, they’re now living in a nearly boarded-up world of no money, no jobs, considered the lower-not-the-middle class. They’re falling into a quagmire of physical, emotional and financial quicksand and no one has offered to pull them out. No one was listening to their pain to make what has been so un-great, great again. So is it no wonder that they look at Trump as the only promise of change they have? What tremendous anger and sorrow and futility and fear they must to have in order for an unfathomable Donald Trump (!) to be considered their Rescuer?

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The Lobster

Lobster

So many of you are feeling what I’m feeling right now. Vulnerable. Lost. Way out of our comfort zones. Stuck in fear. All of this and more. But what always helps me out of this morass is Mother Nature. In the spring of next year I’ll be publishing my newest version of Nature Teachers called Strength from Nature.

Today, I turned to one of my teachers, the Lobster. I hope you gain some growing, changing, new living perspective from this hearty marine crustacean that lives to get un-stuck when it’s at its most naked and fearful time. I bless this wondrous Nature Teacher for helping me find renewed strength to carry on in a world I barely understand right now. I hope it helps you as well…

“Growth means change and change involves risk, stepping from the known to the unknown.”
~George Shinn

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Moment to Moment

Stepping stones

“Remember when old ones died and new were born
And life was changed, disassembled, rearranged
We came together, fell apart
And broke each other’s hearts
Remember when…” -Alan Jackson

One of the favorite songs Pete and I love to play on our guitars is Alan Jackson’s “Remember When”—a beautifully heartfelt watercolor of life and death and all that good, bad and ugly stuff in between we call “life.” The song has always struck a deep chord for me in more ways than that of the instrumental kind. It summarizes what we all go through or are inevitably going to face. And it ends with the most poignant passage of all:

“We won’t be sad, we’ll be glad
For all the life we’ve had
And we’ll remember when…”

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