Guest in Your Heart / Writing

Open NOT Broken

Month: May, 2013

In Praise of Bananas

How many years, tears and lives have I wasted wishing to be the thirst-quenching beer that might make me reached for, sipped or clutched? And when that failed, to be the smelling salt, last chance or wake-up call for some sorry soul? I have nursed potential, rubbed the skinned knees of another’s psyche as though my marinating in the pain of another cures anyone.

I have blamed father and mother.
I have blamed husband and lover.
Yet it was me who left myself
flailing on the floor.

I have chastised myself in the mirror, turned away my own sorrow telling my needs to go. I should have showered in joy, should have accepted the process of my own ripening. Instead, I was an unpeeled banana in a fruit bowl. I wasted time memorizing the lines of palms hovering overhead saying “pick me,” as my skin was grazed or bruised. I turned wandering fingertips into Gods I needed to understand as though each fingerprint was a riddle requiring me to solve.

I have tracked the flick of wrists to determine when to hide under apples and pears and when to hang over the edge so I’d be caught.

Enough with coloring. Enough with placement and posturing. I’m done pretending to be as loud and bright as a lemon or as tangy as a tangerine. So what if I am long and squishy? Who cares if my peel is not as tight or deep as that of a plum?

I love my versatility. I can be sweet or nutritious, used as an accent or devoured whole. Hot or cold I am useful all day.

I am old enough to strip away the layers, wise enough to nurture the center and tend to the bruises.

I am still now. I linger in solitude. The fragrance of my soul answers only to the air.


Taste for Life: Holistic Health Coaching

It was fascinating to interview a holistic health coach for this last piece of writing which was published today at

Taste for Life

I’m having a blast writing for and trying new recipes while learning about natural health and beauty practices.

I’ll get back to posting my more personal pieces again as I’m as I’m passionate as ever about the healing power of writing. I’m letting the words and insights marinate in my journal and building up the professional writing muscles.

Thanks for sticking around with me and my blog as I test drive my various writing voices.

Ms. Magazine & The Cleveland Courage Fund

As a proud feminist who has worshipped Gloria Steinam as long as I can remember, I am thrilled to have a piece of my writing on the Ms. Magazine website It’s also on the Ms. Facebook page

While I am thrilled for my personal writer self I am still sick to my stomach over what was done to Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus. To support these women as they recover, check out The Cleveland Courage Fund at

to Cleveland Courage from Boston Strong

“The big question is why didn’t they leave earlier?” I heard Elizabeth Vargas say yesterday morning while broadcasting on ABC. Not even twenty-four hours had passed since the country learned that three women were free after a decade of captivity. I could feel the heat under my skin making my neck red and my face blotchy. “So many asking that” replied David Muir wondering, “Was there never another chance to escape” before beginning a report about kidnap victims.

What Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight endured is unimaginable. Ariel Castro is alleged to have lured each of them his car when they were fourteen, sixteen and twenty years of age. He is accused of bringing them to his home where he chained, beat and raped them repeatedly for a decade.

He deprived them of fresh air and the outdoors, normal social interaction, their friends, family and lives.

He is accused of impregnating at least one of them and causing a miscarriage by punching her pregnant belly. Another gave birth to a child raised in this environment for the first years of her life.

The question is not why they didn’t escape sooner.

I want to protect these women from these words and the subtext implied by them that these women are in any way responsible for any of their pain for failing to limit its duration.
Any survivor of abuse, violence or crime knows the answer (fear) and is offended by the questioning.

I am from Massachusetts where less than a month ago our entire state was shaken by the violence of two brothers who set off bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Two explosions on one day changed our state forever. Three people died. Hundreds were injured. Thousands were shocked by this devastating violence. Entire communities stayed in their homes and apartments. Streets, businesses and schools were closed.

People nowhere near the explosion or Greater Boston were on high alert even with countless state and federal authorities hunting the alleged criminals on our behalf and constant news coverage keeping us informed.

We didn’t ask one another, “Why are you afraid?” We asked each other, “Are you safe?” and “Has he been caught?” Not only did we worry about our own friends, co-workers or loved ones who had gone to the marathon, but we were forced to consider our general assumptions about safety. If one unthinkable act can be committed what else is possible? If people just going to a marathon can be killed or lose limbs where is it safe to go? If people are capable of setting off one bomb who knows if another explosion was is planned?

Violence is meant to intimidate. It did. When the bombings in Boston happened we wanted to know what could be done for the grieving families, those injured and what it would take for our sense of security to be restored.

Why aren’t we more concerned with the safety of children and women? Why can’t we work together to keep our sidewalks safe for everyone?

I do have questions since hearing about these three women in Cleveland but not one of them is about why they didn’t escape sooner.

I want to know how a middle-aged man can pluck a teenager or young woman from her own life and use her for his twisted pleasure or perverted pain.

I wonder if his children, those on his bus route or in his neighborhood were ever hurt.

I wonder how he had the nerve to console the mother of one his victims or go to fundraisers or vigils or pass out flyers pretending to be concerned about the disappearances. I don’t understand how he slept at night while keeping human beings captive in his home.

I want to know what neighbors felt, did and thought. Did they fear being judgmental? Were they afraid to intrude? Did they take action and were their concerns minimized?

I want to know every detail about how police did or did not respond.

I want to understand if the way he treated the mother of his children should have made him a suspect. She is said to have charged him with abuse, death threats and stealing his children. Relatives say he confined her in an apartment when they lived together and locks on some of his doors.

I have questions for myself as well. Have I always supported women who said they were afraid? Have I stepped in to check on a child wearing a shawl of sadness to make sure they are not suffering? What have I done about the fathers too creepy to let my daughter go near? So often, for fear of being intrusive or mean or thinking the worst of I have minimized potential danger to myself and others.

How many times have I looked away and hoped for the best, deciding someone else would step up or know what to do. Despite my own excruciating experience as a trauma survivor, I have not always been an advocate for myself or others. Sometimes I have let safety issues and concerns slide because speaking out or reaching out is too hard, awkward or embarrassing.

Our cultural tendency to point questions, shame and blame squarely at victims and away from criminals is a dangerous habit we must break if domestic violence is to end.

We all struggle with how much to intervene in the personal lives of others, what doors and boundaries to stay outside of when it comes to neighbors, families and lovers. Clearly, with so many children and women still stalked, tortured, abused or killed we are failing.

I want the three women who survived to know they were supposed to live in a world where it is safe to walk down the street without being lured or manipulated or preyed upon. I hope they know that many ache for the ordeal they have lived through and the healing that will be necessary. Flowers around Castro’s home should have wilted. The lawn should have turned brown. The clouds above should have spelled out HELP.

The question I have for Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight is can you forgive humanity for the inhumanity you endured?

As for the rest of us – what will we do to stop horrific crimes such as this one and the secret hells being housed behind closed doors right now?

Tastes Like It Took Longer

Here’s another clip published today on the Taste for Life website.

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