Two Strips of String Cheese


There have been many times in my life where I’ve been food insecure for whatever reason. [Couch surfing, ditching an abusive husband, barely making ends meet with 12 hour days] By default, I find myself counting and re-counting the dollars I have to spend at the grocery store. I’m hyper aware when dollars go missing from my pocket.

At the grocery store this evening, as I browsed the produce section, I noticed a young man whom looked a LOT like my friend Rocky. Hair, gait, style of clothing, even the way he was talking aloud to himself reminded me of Seabuurd. He also looked quite distraught.

“Are you okay? You seem upset.” I asked.

“Yeah, I just…I just lost $10 somewhere on the floor. I’m retracing my steps.” he replied.

“Well I sure hope you find it.” I continued on my way giving a short glance around the area hoping I’d be the hero that found the missing currency.

A few aisles later, I see the young man again.

“Any luck?”

“No. Someone probably found it already. I really needed that.” He fruitlessly searched the barren floor.

“I’ll keep a look out.”


I checked my pocket where I only had $7 left until Friday evening. I decided if I saw him again, I’d give him the dollars. I headed to the pharmacy area to see if they had an OTC sling to put my arm in because my shoulder is really jacked up right now. As I searched the pharmacy shelves, I heard a loud ruckus coming from the checkout part of the store.

Three women were taunting the young man with the $10 they found in the aisle. At first he started to explain himself, but they kept on going. Bragging about their good fortune loud enough to be heard, literally, half-way across the store. The other patrons joined in to defend the young man, but the young women just wouldn’t let it go. Finally, the young man, nearly in tears tells the women that he hopes they get pulled over and have to use his money to pay the fine.

Not finding what I need, I head over to the checkout lane. I select the one with a high school friend of mine as the cashier. As I approach her, I ask what all the noise was about. She tells me the story. While she’s talking I look over my shoulder where the Rocky looking young man is packing his groceries into bags. He’s obviously shook up. I reached into my pocket and gave him my dollars.

“It’s not the full $10 bucks, but it’s closer than you were.” I smile at him. At first he refused, but my high school chum tells him to take it.

“She won’t quit. You’re better off taking it.” She tells him.

“Oh, well do you like string cheese?” He asked me with sincerity. “Here have a piece.”

He gave me a piece which I peeled at the register and we ate together in the middle of the checkout line. “Have the rest of it.”

“Nah, I’m good. I can’t eat too much of that.”

“Please take a couple pieces at least.” He offers them earnestly to me. I accept and put them into my grocery bag. At that moment a tall well-dressed man enters the store, walks up to the young man with his hand extended.

“I approached them in the parking lot and asked for the money back. At first they were all about keeping it, but I told them I’d call the police because they were assholes. They gave it up.” He chuckled richly.

“Aw, man! Thanks, dude!” The young man reached into his pocket, retrieved the dollars I’d given him, attempted to return them to me.

“No. I already gave it to you, they’re yours. You now can pay it forward better.” He looked astonished. He kept telling me what a beautiful human I am. Even as I walked away from the counter he was continuing his praise.

You may or may not believe me about this, but I do stuff like this all the time. I don’t do it for the compliments or praise. I’m not even telling you this story for positive feedback.

I’m telling you that when you do something equally as kind, it spreads like a California wildfire. When you put yourself out there by an act of kindness bigger than the moment, you’re doing what you are born to do. You’re born to shine. You’re born to be the beacon of hope, love, and joy in this ridiculously cruel world. You get to be the hope someone sees by your actions. Like lighting your candle off your neighbor’s at the Christmas eve candlelight service, it spreads love.

Preaching all day long does nothing but give you a sore throat. ACTIVELY living loving is a practice in mindfulness; a revolutionary awareness of the world around you. It is a true mark of courage to be the light in the darkness. It is a badge of honor to set aside some wants you have (like giving up my breakfast tomorrow morning) to give someone else that light. I’ll keep doing what I do, regardless if you follow my lead or not, but we should practice this kind of radical kindness every day.

She the Phoenix

And the Phoenix, in all her glory

will don the robes of the warrior queen

that are tempered in the fires of suffering

and ashes to reveal the colors

of a Goddess within the flames,

born repeatedly from the music

of the nest’s heat dancing

the blazing sparks.

Priestess of the Howling Wood


I hear the trees as instruments

as a Sunday hymn blessing Mother Earth

I feel the loaming heartbeat intense

while the birds call lullaby vespers

I am the tug of moon-pulled tides

with sermon words unfettered

Through and about the indigo skies I ride

Skyclad, adorned with galaxies and stars; together

I hear the forest’s deepest secrets kept

accepting its confessions as I should

with spells more true than of an adept

as a Priestess of the Howling Wood

Your friend for life, Bill

Bill Busing was a well respected man in Oak Ridge, TN. Heck, anywhere he went he was thought highly of because of his chemistry knowledge, his humanitarian efforts, and his advocacy for people with mental health issues. He was a positive ask-anyone-about-him type of fellow. Because of this, I don’t want to tell you about that. I’d like to tell you about my friendship with him.

Each Sunday at ORUUC (Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church), I would seek out and find those that needed hugs. It was my thing. Some people, like my dad, for instance, bring candy to church for the wee ones. I brought hugs in abundance. I hugged the old, the young, the feeble, the in-betweens, but I always sought out Bill. Not because I preferred him above others, but because he was born decades but days from my birthday. I felt a special bond with him that I can’t really explain.

When he didn’t show up for church, I’d miss him something awful. When he gave me his phone number so I wouldn’t worry about him, I felt like I’d been given the golden ticket. It wasn’t long before we decided to go for coffee. He seemed both pleased and genuinely surprised to discover that I really did seek his company.

We arranged and met at Starbucks on the Oak Ridge Turnpike. I got there first and I scored the corner seats with a table in between them. When he arrived he insisted on paying because he bought special fund raising cards from the church and he wanted to make sure they got used. I thought that very philanthropic, he thought it very practical.

Coffee in hand, we sat down in the corner and chatted for nearly two hours. We covered topics such as family, life events, careers (mine far shorter and less stellar than his), marriage and faith. He was not one for easy laughter, even with me. But when he did, it was rich and full-bodied and worth the effort to coax it from him. He was quite serious but not really; more like a human paradox (like we all are).

After that initial meeting, we met frequently at different venues around town. Sometimes we’d go to Panera Bread where he’d bring his close friend Cherie with him. It was always a delight to see the two of them interact because she was far more vibrant than he, but he seemed to find her antics amusing. Our conversations never stayed on one topic for very long. We’d cover a gamut of issues from politics to religion. He never shied away from anything. He was a brave conversationalist in that aspect.

Once, after I’d moved away, I had returned for a visit. After I walked him to his car, I hugged him extra tight, his hunched shoulders seemed to melt as he held me warmly.

“Bill, I’m so glad I got a chance to see you again. I want to make you a promise.”

“Oh, you don’t have to promise me anything. It’s okay.” He rebuffed me gently.

“No, really. I want to promise you that as long as I’m able, I’ll write to you every time I get a letter. I won’t forget you.” I said with earnest and sincerity.

“Oh, I thought you were getting serious on me.” He chuckled. “Then I will promise you the same thing. As long as I’m able, I will write you letters.”

From that day on, a card would arrive about once a week, most commonly bi-weekly. I replied as soon as I got one as did he. His favorite way to write letters was on the inside of various greeting cards. He talked about his daughter, Lesley, and his growing concern for her but also his joy that he could have dinner with her during the week. He told me about his adventures with Miss Cherie and the people he helped along the way.

During a particularly rough patch of grief, I wrote to Bill and lamented my despair. “I’m lost. I just feel like giving up some days. I miss my people. I miss my tribe. I miss my home.” Those aren’t the exact words, but they are close. His reply was gentle.

“Knowing grief is just a part of life. It comes and it goes. There is only one way to deal with it, just keep living. Being sad all the time isn’t going to make it better. You have to live. You have a new place to be with your husband and family. Don’t give up when there is life to live.” (again paraphrased).

At that time, I remember just crying harder because he, and people like him, are the very reason I was grieving in the first place. I held on to that March letter, in essence breaking my promise, pondering the words he’d written. By early April I’d decided he was right and I was not going to give up easily. I wrote him a letter telling him as much. I wrote the letter up and sent it out on Monday the 11th of April. He got the letter on the 12th. He passed on the 14th. No letter returned.

As I sit here on the first of January 2017, I think about how many times I’ve cried about giving up in this past year as I’ve battled a scary bout of depression. Even with people I love cheering me on, how he signed his letters is one of the key elements that keep me going. He really did teach me something better than chemistry.

Your friend for life, Bill.



To capture the eyes that adore me back

To experience the breath of your kisses

To envelope myself in your arms

To be in silence with the chorus of rising bellies

To caress the satin that calls my name

To press my urgency to your ear, confessing

To know, understand, you are my mythical being

The Martyr


Come down off the cross, stand your ground

There’s no more time for fucking around.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too

Roll up your sleeves, we’ve got work to do.

This world is starving for the love you have

Quit being the electronics slave

Reach out, connect, make a fool of yourself

Dust off your “Give a Damn” from the top shelf

Open your eyes to the world as it is

Get out! Get going! You’ve so much to give.

Don’t mind the naysayers, there’s always those,

just keep on trucking, follow your knows.

Share what you have that you don’t need

Don’t give in to the excess of greed

Bloom where you’re planted from the seed

that brought you forth for you to succeed.

Get down off the cross and get to work

Enough already, your duties, don’t shirk

Love Bless You


Love = God

If God’s original intent was to be perfect love for creation, then does it not make sense that Love, in name, is vain? Because, it created itself to be adored; in fact it requires adoration and glorification. It means that without the nurturing, cherishing, and honor done to those loved, it kills the very thing it proclaims to protect.

This is particularly accurate in relationships. If one or both allows life, possessions, or other things to come in between two people whom love each other, that love can rapidly become resentment, frustration, and anger. But when time is spent to prioritize the bond shared between two people, love does, indeed, flourish. So in this sense, love is not above wanting or needing to be appreciated.

But then what of the flowers that know nothing else but to be beautiful? Or a worm that worships at the flower’s roots? Or the bees that tend to the needs of beauty without a thought to why they pollinate the face of roses, daisies, and daffodils as certainly as they do the dandelions? Are they proof of the love we are meant to experience? Or are they merely energy used to engage us in questions of our own worthiness to be loved?

Love = Mortality

However, the beauty we are gifted with all around us are all reminders of a darker fare. Everything is a reminder of our own mortality. We can witness the cycles, seasons, and lifespans of many things around us. They are all preparing for our return to our own place of death; our own return to the stars.

We are constantly reminded by these living/sentient beings that our time here ends. They remind us that, just as a frond pushes towards the sun to work in the symbiotic ancient growth of life and beauty, so will it return to the earth.

We see but do not accept. Even in our known mortality, we allow the people we love to fall away from us. We forget to nourish the very roots from which we have grown. We build fragile connections through various addictions or meaningless distractions. We find so many ways to keep from seeing the truth of our energies.

We can do the same towards those we love. We can “kill” them with our neglect. Assuming, as with life, they will always be there. Maybe we view those we love as possessions which drives a wedge deep into the love we’re born to be. We may also place undue expectations on our loved ones, demanding that they comply with our own ideal despite their own person. These acts tear us from love. Denying they are also mortal locks us into taking one another for granted. We ignore the facts laid out all around us as proof we will also die.

Love = Holiness

It is only when we understand that we are created, born, and exist to be divine love that we can embrace our innate holiness in service to one another. This is, in it’s pure state, a declaration of love of self. It affords us a view of our own energy bottled in a different package. By igniting our own holiness, we are taught that although we are unique, our own being becomes one with each encounter.

There are many reasons we may deny others the love we are destined to give. We may be teaching our divine self where we most need to heal. We may be rejecting the lesson we’re meant to learn. We may also reject others because the lesson has already been accomplished, has already been learned and processed.

Just as we may reject opportunities in accordance to how we feel we are, or more importantly, if we believe we are worthy of the gift presented. Even the poor of spirit wish, whether consciously or not, to be cherished, admired, even adored which lends heavily to the hypothesis that we are all divine; all forms of God of which we are, by the blessing of our birthright, born to Love.