Tag Archives: birthday

The Karma Abacus: Birthday Blooms

Another year. I used to think of it like it was over, like I’d just completed something, marking an X on the wall like I’d done time. I don’t know why; I just did. But this year I am decidedly feeling like it is a beginning. At some point in the last year I could see the trajectory of my life was not one my heart felt called to anymore. So, I threw a wrench into the works knowing it would insist on change.

I think some era’s in life begin this way—with a sense of feeling life as you’ve known it is coming to an end. Like weeding a garden that’s gone to seed. You can hear something calling to you, a far away bloom, a perfume of future creativity. If I was being honest I would say I am intoxicated with the scent of it already.

Wherever you are, I’m toasting you for reading this blog and I hope to share many more words this year with you than last.


It’s that time of year again,

hang my flag, say it’s my day.

Bring your weak lumbar,

your wrecked knee, fading eyebrows and

fear of earthquakes —


acknowledge aloneness

assess the years on the

karma abacus, your finger

touching more and more beads

sliding over years one by one


insistent, resigned,

a birthday.


Still, at night

You have a hunger, a mortal wish

to uncover promises you made to

yourself, so you route around

on the silty floor of the past,

and find your life


still breathing

ready at long last

to be understood.




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Filed under Poetry

The Secret Pleasure of Living Life Outside the Numbers

Last month I had a birthday. I tried not to let my natural inclination to expect something magical to happen nudge me beforehand or signal me with little whimsical Carol Burnett ear pulls. I really beat it down this year then realized I was a little sad I had.

The fact is, I’ve never played blasé convincingly in my entire life.

Unlike me, my mother really didn’t seem to expect anything to happen on her birthday then seemed genuinely tickled that a single person remembered. She wasn’t afflicted with performer level vanity like I am. I remember I used to stand in the bathroom with her as she was getting ready to go out and I’d ask her, “How old are you?” She would brush me off saying, “Oh, a woman doesn’t tell after a certain age my dear.”

“But what is the age, that age you stopped saying your birthday age, when was that?”

She’d smile and look at my face staring at her in the mirror and I’d know she was onto me.

I would try to sneak it in when she least suspected–even as we kneeled in church to pray–and see if she would break. “Shhhhhh,” she’d scold me and I would cross my arms, angry at her stubborn refusal to share this part of her self with me. Surely I was trustworthy? Surely I, above all people, was someone she could reveal herself to? I tried over and over only to be met with her philosophical refrain.

“A woman doesn’t…” she’d start.

“Forget it. I don’t even care!” I’d yell, storming upstairs, my heels hard on each step so she’d hear it in the kitchen below.

Here’s the thing: I found myself saying it on my birthday this year. Just exactly as my mother did. I don’t know why I decided it was the time I would turn the world away from my door, banish them forever from prying a number from me but I did.

“A woman doesn’t tell after a certain age.” My co-worker looked at me like I should be wearing a wig and holding a long cigarette. I realized my mom’s era had seeped into me and was now inhabiting my body like the ghost of Norma Desmond.

I don’t care. I’m going with it. I’ve no time for numbers. The point is living  life, not the passing of it.


Filed under Non-fiction


Birthdays require reflection. For me, this year, it requires transformation. Sometimes an emotional tsunami sends you reeling out into distant ether where you are lost to yourself. The gift is the view of your life as it was–bombed out, shelled by pestilent emotions, annihilated–which you can never return to again. Last year at this time I was struggling to understand why the person I loved had left me. Now, a year later, I can see everything so clearly: the disfigured flotsam and jetsam of lies, the idle promises that I held like they were Frodo’s ring to my heart, the blind beliefs in an imaginary world, and the rose-coloured glass through which I looked at my life so as to keep myself isolated from memory.

Picking over the bits and pieces, the disconnected selves, the shattered illusions, and reams of words, words, words, I can poke around like a calm character from CSI; I think out loud to myself, ah so this is objectivity then feel internally that it is, in fact, wondrous.

It isn’t easy to re-build. You’ve got to say no to those things that want to come back, those weeds that you’ve never had the strength to resist or didn’t notice growing there so viciously, wrapping themselves around your ankles and weighing you down like a virus. Sometimes it will require gently saying, ‘I’m sorry, will you come back?’ Sometimes it will require saying ‘I know you thought I was that but I’m this‘. There will be people that don’t like your new life. That is good. It means they weren’t supporting you anyway. Maybe they are your mother. Maybe your brother. Or wife. Or friend or sister. Doesn’t matter. Being true to yourself isn’t for the faint-hearted. The work of transformation is not a walk with Oprah in a lavender farm with puppies frolicking all around. It has to get a little messy, ratchety, dirty even, before you sow the seeds that will grow into beautiful, loving flowers who smile when you walk past whispering your true name with deeply rooted certainty.

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Filed under Non-fiction