A Birthday Present from Carole

Dear readers,

This blog deals with mystery. I haven’t been able to write. I don’t know why, I just haven’t. It’s a mystery, and I’ve learned to let things open up, rather than to try to force it. So rather than try to push it, I thought I’d share something about someone else.

So today I was thinking of my dear  late friend Carole. I was truly blessed to have her in my life. We had a lot in common, particularly as we were both writers and liked cats and a somewhat bohemian – not hippie or flaky but just a little off-center – way of looking at things.

She used to say “We’re both from the same planet,” when we talked about our affinity for one another.  We used to say that we both fell in thrall to someone with the “P” word – potential.

Carole was in a relationship that was challenging, since her husband  lived with both addiction and mental illness: he was brilliant and erudite when he was able to function. That was where the potential figured in. There was a lot of love and mystery between them. Strong pulls of the chaotic kind. Neptunian and changing.   Of course love defies reason, and definition. I’ll say only that , like there is for many of us, a theme united them, but which alas was unsustainable.

When she developed breast cancer, the two of them were able to reunite, however once she reached stability, their paring fell apart again. Later she developed and succumbed to pancreatic cancer, after he left her for another woman.

Carole was funny, beautiful with big green eyes and a bent nose. She fought on behalf of animals,  volunteering at a nearby wildlife sanctuary.

Carole was often short on money. Fortunately she looked good in anything she wore, so didn’t need to shop for clothes. She did love shoes, but not pedicures (too much touching).  Her nails were short and polish-free. She wore minimal make up, and her hair was naturally curly. And she was absolutely stunning.

She talked about her father who had played baseball, but who would take her to a movie and leave her there so he could go drink. She’d watch it 3 times, then try to figure out how to get home walking through the ‘hood alone, at age 11. She attained from this experience a wise-cracking street savvy, and fell for men of that ilk.

Her youth was spent in New York, Buffalo to be exact, and she had a New York street kind of wit with a similar accent. She also studied French and went to the Sorbonne for a year.

She worked in “the business,”  – the Hollywood term for the film industry, in a sort of secretarial position, but she wrote in her spare time, in between bouts of marital drama. Her writing about her life was imaginative and funny.

So I thought I’d share one of my favorite gifts of all time: a darling story she wrote for me on one of my birthdays. I miss you dear Carole. May be shared but not changed in any way. May not be copied without written permission of Suzanne.




So, there’s this magic genie in a bottle, see? His name is Geno, and there’s this gal who’s got a birthday today, right? Her name is Suz, you get it? Anyway, she’s walkin’ out into her backyard, y’know, to catch some rays and listen to the radio play some golden oldie song by one of those singers that went  down in an airplane Anyway, there’s this empty bottle layin’  out in the yard. So, Suz goes to pick it up cause like she’s real fussy about junk in her yard, y’know, so just as she picks it up Geno starts his rap.

“Yo. How y’doin’ doll?”

And right there, Suz knows there’s somethin’  strange about this. She knows you don’t talk to no bottle – Rule Number One!

So Geno figures he better act fast, so he says, “Hey you good lookin’  thing. Ever make it in a bottle?”

Suz was not impressed, nosiree, she just goes over to the trash can and gets ready to give Geno the heave-ho on top of yesterday’s Lasagna. So now he lays it on her. I mean the coup, as they say. The piece de resistance.

“Help,” he yells.

She, bein’  the kind and caring sort, gives the old bottle a second thought. Geno takes his cue. “Save me and you got three wishes.” By now Suz cops to the fact that this ain’t your ordinary talkin’ bottle. She’s wise to the fact that she’s lookin’ at some entrepreneurial opportunities here.

“I’m listening,” she says real cool like.

So Geno figures  he’ll wrap it up in five and be back on the island in time for nude grape smashing.

“No lie,” he says. “I’ll  grant any three wishes you make, then you gotta let me go.”

So Geno figures she’ll do the usual I-want-a-million-dollars-and-world-peace number, right? Well, Suz’s mother didn’t raise no fool. So she whispers two wishes into the bottle, meanwhile her trusty old feline Aura-cat  is watchin’ all the action from below thinkin’ how telephones are gettin’ weirder by the day. That song’s still playin’ on the radio, and Suz makes a couple of nice personal wishes – she ain’t sayin’ what – and now just one more and Geno can  say Ciao, Baby. But Suz gets this smile and starts hummin’ along with the song,  thinkin’ about how she loves to travel,  y’know, and hear people talk funny and eat weird food, and stuff. So she makes the big number three, and get this – the babe gets to move in with Geno. Yeah, you got it. Now she gets to travel all over the world – on every birthday. Geno gave her this thing called teleportation. I think it’s one of those high tech things where your brain leaves home without you. Sounds kinda weird to me, too. Geno said that Suz already had the gift of imagination so what else could he do for her?

Maybe wishes one and two could answer that.



love, Carole

copyright Carole 1987

Photos: Carole and me, 1987; Carole 1993

May not be copied without written permission of the author.


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Pay attention to the luminous and numinous.

~ Richard Zimmer, PhD

Dreams are the language of the mysterious.

But I don’t always understand them, as if I have dream time dyslexia.

What are those gray-haired men, those flighty women, those somber, lost children doing there?

Why do I awaken with a wad of cotton in my forehead, after one of those night-time (or early morning) sojourns?

Once, I sought guides, books of symbols, psychology for answers:

Jung : According to Jung, dreams are not attempts to conceal your true feelings from the waking mind, but rather they are a window to your unconscious. They serve to guide the waking self to achieve wholeness and offer a solution to a problem you are facing in your waking life.

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
Freud: The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.
Dreams are often the most profound when they seem the most crazy.

The bible: Daniel 4:5 “I saw a dream and it made me fearful; and these fantasies as I lay on my bed and the visions in my mind kept alarming me.

Buddhism The Tibetan dream interpretation is particular. It is mixed with cultural beliefs, which is a background of the psychology, and is firmly influenced by Buddhist philosophy of mind and phenomena, the understanding that everything is an illusion.

I learned about symbols, archetypes. That certain figures are universal and have human meaning across cultures. Such as the “wise old man”:

“The wise old man can be a profound philosopher distinguished for wisdom and sound judgment.” (Wikipedia).

I read that dreams were unfulfilled wishes. Or that they meant nothing but clutter from the day, a form of psychic junk.

I’ve always been a dreamer. I’ve had big dreams, little dreams. Nonsense dreams, scary dreams. I worked hard for many years attempting to discern between the frivolous and the fantastic as seen in my dreams.

And then I met a Native American woman who told me: No one can interpret another’s dreams. They belong to him alone. Each person must look at this story, seen only by him.  Figure it out yourself. Pray about it. The answer is within you. Go about your business. More will come to  you.

Now, I don’t want to analyze any more. A theory holds that characters in dreams are part of us, but I don’t like them. At least not the adults in the dream. I worry about that seemingly lost male child. I want to comfort him.

I awaken feeling somehow that the gray-haired man and the flighty woman are keeping me from doing so.

So I let it be, I wait, and try to do on waking what gives me solace:

~tending to the garden

~ writing with dear friends, fellow writers.

There’s still the sneaking suspicion that the little boy wants or needs something.

And then I remember a dream from years ago.  In the dream, then, the boy came to me, wanting my company. Maybe it was the same little boy.  In that dream, I took his hand and took him to a huge gathering. So much was going on there. People of all nations came, met, sang, danced.

A kind of pow wow. But more. People of every color, every culture were there. People who had passed, and people who still live. Everyone.

They were in a circle. The drum was talking to them, and they moved around the circle. In it, I’m wearing my shawl, holding his hand, dancing around with them. With my relatives, with everyone. In that dream, we were all related.

What do I tell them, the boy, the man, the woman in this dream?

No, I don’t want to analyze it.

I go into the kitchen and cook some oatmeal with raisins, and make coffee, and drink it with evaporated milk. I feel warm and satisfied.

And then I think:

I’m going to hear the drum, you can come with me, or not, it’s up to you.

Come, on  son, we’ll find a way to dance to the drum again.

April 24, 2013 ~ revised 12-19-16

Copyright Suzanne 2016

In loving memory of Fern Catherine YoungBear

May not be copied without written permission. May be shared only if not changed and if this site is acknowledged.









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Poem written years ago. Brought up to NOW. May be shared only if no changes are made and this site is acknowledged. May not copy without written permission of the author.


  1. 11/27/1994

There is a season of bleakness

A condition of doubt.

I want to eradicate this relic of smallness,

Rebuild the fortress,

Make of myself

A castle of stone.

Stone doesn’t weep, doesn’t splinter,

Doesn’t echo within itself.

It holds steady…

But I cannot kill it

This doubt, this small uncouthness, pain of fear.

I cannot be a murderer,

Cannot take my eyes from its plain face:

Quavering, ashamed,

But real.

Who am I? What will I do?

One day the words will be rearranged.

Today I need to see doubt as food

Ingest it, feel its weight.

Small and dense but worthy.

A kind of sustenance, after all.

  1. 2/? /1995

I’ve held steady

The chant of truth through turmoil, the

Continuity beneath harsh words, opposition;

God beneath the quarreling feet.

Raised voices, harsh voices, troubles, doubt: I’ve seen them all.

A still, blue flame

Keeps me detached, though no less passionate.

Why pray, chant, or meditate?

Why do anything at all?

Won’t life act as itself

No matter what we do?

Still, I need to hum, to fast, to dance, to pray,

To release doubts as birds aflame,

As fire to meet with ALL.

  1. 11/26/2016

Who’s to know what it all means, or if it means anything.

I once knew a nurse who had served in Vietnam.

She wore a necklace which said, “It don’t mean nothin’!”

Her way of living one day, sometimes one minute at a time.

Her way of being present, of radical acceptance of the now.

Her way of not doubting.

All praise to those who love, those who quarrel, those who doubt, and those who live.

Copyright Suzanne 2016



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Tomorrow Is Today


Adobe home


When I was young, I tried to imagine happiness. Even in chaos, in strife. Myself: bright, healthy. Whole. Belonging. Out from under the dark cloud that surrounded me and made me feel helpless.

You see, in childhood, I learned to think negatively, when things went sour, not realizing that there is only today. Not knowing that we create our happiness, or not. By what we do. Or think. Or not.

I’d get my hopes up, hopes for peace in our home. then something out of my control would bring it all crashing down. My father’s binge-drinking, my parent’s struggle because he’d spent all the money, and creditors howled at our door. My mother’s difficulty coping, with a disease that is truly cunning, baffling, powerful.  And yet what was most powerful was my love for them, always.

Then would come their separations, trips southward to stay with Grandma, followed by reconciliation and renewed attempts to “start out fresh,” until the next time. Until finally a divorce, and hard times that followed when Mother went to work and became a single mom.
I learned to think: Yes, I feel good now, but just wait, something bad will happen. It will never get better. It will always be awful. I’ll never be loved. I’ll always be alone. I can’t trust anyone. People will not be there for me.

Never, always. Dysfunctional thinking. Stinkin’ thinkin’.

I learned never to ask for anything, even if I was hungry. Even if my shoes felt tight, and my hair was tangled, and my class- mates called me ugly. I learned to watch my mother to see what mood she was in before I approached her. I  learned to surrender to my father’s playfulness and giggle with anxiety because in the next hour he could be throwing something across the room.

I once said to Mother, “Maybe he’s dead,” when he didn’t arrive yet again. She hollered at me, “Don’t  ever say that!”

I learned to listen for the crunch of gravel on the driveway at 3 am which meant Dad had gotten home safely. That he wasn’t dead.

I didn’t know that the way I was thinking was only that: a way of thinking. I only knew that I felt like a leaf in the wind.  I felt that others knew something I did not: how to be happy.  I came to the false conclusion  that  I was unlucky, flawed, and of course that life could only be harsh.

And yet, also, if I listened, came an inner voice – my soul? –  telling me to keep going. And as an adult, when I did try to do things differently, there was a sense that I was trying to do what I’d never seen being done. Reaching out into space, with nothing beneath me. Inventing another way to live.

Many told me that my thinking was destructive. But how to renew one’s thoughts?

Asking for help was not in my nature; yet that is exactly what I needed to do.

I was taught to be self-sufficient, unto myself. And, paradoxically,  when I did – keep to myself – I felt lonely, left out.

I told myself: If I ask for help, I ‘ll be rejected. If I ask for help, I’ll be ridiculed, or shamed. And yet, if I didn’t, I’d plunge further into darkness.

I can’t tell you exactly when the turning point happened. It wasn’t a straight line: you do this and everything else will be fine.

One step at a time I took the journey. I fell and regained some balance. Wise people told me, “Yes, it was awful then. But that was then, and this is now. You didn’t have choices then, but you do now. How do you want to live?”

Wise people told me: Don’t judge your insides by other people’s outsides. Everyone is struggling with something.

Until one day at a time I realized I could do anything I set out to do. I could be happy just for today.  I could try to live according to my values. I  could identify what those were. I could make amends wherever possible.  I could do what a good mother does, for myself, and for my children. I could make choices when I thought I had none. I could take baby steps until I felt that I  could take  bolder ones.

I tell myself, still,  (good mother that I am), even though I’m now almost old, to get up, to go walk, to brush my teeth, comb my hair ( in the back as well as the front). I tell myself, on bad days, to function. And it works. On good days I don’t need self talk. On good  days, and even on bad days, I give thanks.

I tell myself to go swim, while I can, recoiling from the initial shock of cold, but finding gratitude as I glide over the  water. Thanks that I can kick out and in and arms forward, glide on the sparkling blue.

Thankful that, today I can wend my way amid walkways and trees and fallen apples and pine-cones, around brown adobe houses nestled in small neighborly groups.  

To my front door, to two gurgling fountains, and inside, to two aging cats.


Sometime, I must find time again to help others. After all, I’ve always cared about people who need something: help  in an emergency (I volunteered at a hospital during the 1994 earthquake); in a crisis (I volunteered with the Red Cross, delivering food in burned-out areas of civil unrest in LA, 1991).  I’ve assisted in feeding people on holidays at soup kitchens in Los Angeles, in Albuquerque. I’ve helped give warm clothing to street people in Albuquerque during our coldest of winters.

I have never belonged to groups, only provided assistance as needed.

One of these days, something else will call. And I’ll show up, because this impulse is in my blood.

As a nurse, I saw everything. After years of giving at full- tilt, I burned out from the daily relentless need. I needed to replenish, and I did, in waves. Rest, work, rest, work. So created an uneven pattern which sustained me into a kind of stability. I say a kind of stability because life itself does not remain the same, day in, day out.

Stagnation impedes the flow of life. And yet, things grow from stillness, from darkness. Even from sorrow.

“In sorrow, there is Holy Ground,”said Oscar Wilde.*  Just when we feel the most frightened, feel our worst, we are closest to divine energy.

For now, I am  resting, in twilight. Tomorrow is on the way.

For now, I walk, I swim, I give thanks, for tomorrow is today.

Suzanne copyright 2016

May be shared as long as this site is mentioned, and nothing is changed.

May not be copied without the written permission of this author.

*Oscar Wilde- De Profundis

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The Body, Time, The Real

And let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.

Kahlil Gibran  ~ The Prophet


Inside myself, I am real. I look out as if I were still vibrant. I look out from the aging, sometimes tired- for- no -reason  form and wonder  what happened. Where did SHE go? The pretty one. The lean one.  The energetic one. The face and body that I took for granted. As happens in youth.

I’ve lived 70 years. I don’t want to die.

The inner me. Who still loves sights and scents and sounds and touch.

Yet the body, Oh, the body, the waning continues.

Thankfully, my cats don’t care. Nor my old friends. Nor my friends in general. Still, it’s good to talk to those who remember HER. We laugh at old pictures, at old memories. We remember the trouble, and the pain, and the joy.

I told my dentist (as he replaced a broken crown) that I didn’t like what growing older does to the body. I asked him: Even though I wear hearing – aides, can you still face me when you speak?

I keep up the motion, attend the maintenance appointments.

For her, for the real me, I keep writing, for that is part of who I am, and I need to keep her alive.

I keep up friendships, make new ones, walk on wooded trails with a group, go to TED talks, listen to music, read and re-read favorite books. I go to museums, and explore thrift stores.

And I awaken too early and I still feel dread, as I have since childhood,  in those early morning hours, until I get up and move and tell myself:

You have to go walk, because the feelings of dread are chemical. You know this. You know you will feel better.

So I get up and walk and write now by candle light since the sun rises later, and yes I feel better. Much better.

Way back in my late teens I read “The Prophet,” by Kahlil Gibran. I thought I’d read it again today, but alas,  he didn’t write about aging.  He wrote about time.

He said: Who among you does not feel that his power to love is boundless?….And is not time even as love is, undivided and spaceless?

I wish that I hadn’t paid so much attention to my outsides. What I mean is, attention to the false. To envy, perpetrated by advertisement. To trying to look like a model or a movie star. I wish, instead, that I had paid more attention to the real me. To nurturing her. To being who I am.

In Portland Oregon, they respect aging. If you buy a train ticket to get to the airport, and you are 65 or more, you purchase one, not for seniors, but  for “honored citizens.”

Having thoughts, looking back, remembrance is part of honored development, I believe. We live the way we are supposed to live, we learn what we are supposed to learn along that way. Living gives us opportunity to do so.

We are more than organisms, we are dynamic by simply being. We don’t stand still. Every part of us hums in motion and energy, which moves outward. We are never really alone, then, as we quiver.

And yet, I miss her, the young one. I miss youthful folly, youthful stupidity, followed by moments of guilt, or jealousy or humility. I miss the rising and falling. And rising again.

I’ve given up on being rich or married or famous. Once, I wished for all of those things. I realize that what I really wanted was expansion. Of mind, of soul. Of experience.


Longing, I see, is part of being alive. Fulfillment is accepting what is, and yet doing what we can to heed burning desires. Challenging our divisions and creating space around them. Our bodies are finite, but not our spirit.

We make choices. I’m choosing to continue what I can. Writing and art is at the center. Balance means keeping oneself from crumbling away at the edges of being.

Balance keeps me: Undivided, spaceless.

Copyright Suzanne 2016

May be shared, as long as this site is mantioned. May not be copied without my written permission







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Created from morning writing exercises inspired by Julia Cameron. Copyright Suzanne 2016


Making my bed each morning

Walking, striding, briskly

Washing dishes in hot soapy water

Gardening and digging in dirt, patting the flowers hello

Writing morning pages almost every morning

Giving thanks every day, thank you, wado (Cherokee), wopila  (Lakota)

Praying, as often as breathing

Reading at night before bed

Thinking of my sons, their wives, my grandkids, my friends, (old and new) in my heart forever

CHERISHING – what is greater than myself

All of creation,

You and me on our journeys, meeting up

Air and space around me as I walk

Breezes making the trees talk

Wind talking loudly, moving the world

Gurgling little fountains in my yard forever

Water strong and bold, small and gentle

The oceans, the rivers and streams, the springs, the ponds and pools

The salmon, thousands, rushing toward the ocean from South Salmon Creek

Dirt, earth, growth, splendor, waning, earth, dirt

Mountain, rock, stone, pebble

Lava, fire, heat, fuel

Scents : pine, sweet flowers, vanilla, clean new dirt, wind of storm, coming soon. Sweet-smelling sheets. Popcorn, popping.

Baby skin

Sparkly eyes

Furry creatures


Voices voices voices

Tears shared

Words words words

Colors bright, true not muted, not muddy

Sounds of melody, or bass rock, repeated refrains. Not screechy or harsh or strident


Little red wagons

Blue paring knife which fits in my hand perfectly, from Mother’s kitchen after she passed

Phone messages, voices I can’t bear to erase, even though you are gone

Photographs of loved ones treasured, framed, pinned on the wall across the page, on the shelf

Books I’ve read and re-read at least twice

Black heavy cast iron skillet always on the front burner

Handmade quilts, made with her one hand

Decorations made of buttons and wire, made when I couldn’t sleep

Old cotton purple dress I throw on each summer and it still fits, but differently

Winter socks and cotton leggings and sweaters and layers beneath

Jeans true blue, worn and light and soft

FOOD – hearty

Sourdough bread from San Francisco

Cookies, chunky to sink your teeth in and chew

Casseroles of chicken and pasta, or chicken and rice

Eggs basted or scrambled or put in a quiche or hard boiled with salt and pepper

Sweet potatoes,

Food I make from scratch: chili, soups, cakes

Salads with blue cheese and berries, or with eggs and salami and onions and pepperoncini or with asparagus, walnuts and blue cheese

Milk evaporated for drinks, whole for drinking

Coffee with milk; cold brew or hot brew

Tea with milk

Sharp cheddar cheese

Corn bread, corn cakes, polenta, Frito corn chips, corn on the cob, corn on the stalk in my garden


Guacamole made of avocado, onion, chili, lime

Watermelon salad with onion, jalapeno, blue cheese, lime

Graham crackers with marshmallow and chocolate

Grilled meat, chicken, fish my oldest son has made on the grill

The strong coffee my youngest son makes

Sweet and salty and crunchy

Food made with love


Art made with love

Love in every breath

All my relations

Copyright 2016 Suzanne








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Three AM, Mother and Child

“It was less like seeing than like being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance.”
Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek


Three AM,0300, on a moonlit night. My baby cries.

Babies don’t  have a rhythm yet. They  start to develop a body coordination and  memory from the head down.  Like a wave of sentience, a wave of self-empowerment, the current of development travels downward in their new bodies.

Nurses check at intervals, to see what strength there is, what focus and awareness has opened. They don’t look at it as a race, but rather as a progression.*

My son was now three months old. He’d been born sturdy, strong. He had a lusty cry, a strong appetite. He was a solid, sweet bundle of baby humanity.

The baby has awakened, and I have gone to him.  A soft light comes through his nursery window. The gauzy  moonlight touches the room, illuminates his round perfect head.

Picking him up from the crib, I sit down with him in the turquoise wooden rocker which my husband, who is now sleeping, has painted, for resting  in these early morning moments.

Soon, I will have an extraordinary moment, a glimpse into mystery, and all its glory.

I put him to my full, aching breast. We are both relieved; me, for the release of tension as he suckles, and he, for the warm sweet nourishment I now provide.

He looks into my eyes. He focuses now,and with his free, sweet, chubby hand, he pats my chest rhythmically. Gulp, pat. Gulp, pat. Gulp, pat. Can you hear it? It is music to my ears. I am enthralled.

We rock in the silence for a moment, the only sound, his happy swallowing.

Then, he stops. Stops gulping, stops patting.

And then, he looks. Really looks. Into my eyes. Not just a flicker.  Holding. Holding my eyes. Holding, holding.

I see, in his now wide-open gaze, a second of understanding. I see, looking into his, an experience of who he is, of who we are, not just mother and son, but as selves who are both becoming.

I’m a shy, socially awkward, frightened young mother. Much of that will change over the years, but not all.

In this profound moment,  I see his soul, and more, the soul of all that is. It swirls all around us and through us and with  us. It cares for us, all of us. It is silver and blue and pink and green and loud and soft and everywhere. 

And then, he resumes drinking deeply, patting me once again, closing  his eyes.

I rock him gently and hold him near, not wanting to ever let go. Knowing that he has only been loaned to me, and I, to him. It is a moment in 2 lives; one which he will undoubtedly not remember, nevertheless one of deep profound connection.

He falls asleep. I put him into the crib and stumble back to bed. I wish I could tell my husband, but he too, sleeps, his body replenishing for the next day, for work, for fatherhood. He won’t be with us forever. He’ll leave, seeking something.  But nothing will take this away from me, away from us, away from a mother and child.

The moving moment will be with me for all of my life. One I remember as years go by, when I sometimes feel despondent and afraid. A moment which keeps me going onward, on through to the other side of despair.

Now 40 plus years later, after remembering it often, I still give thanks for it.

Alone with my sweet baby, alone with me in an enchanted hour, taking only what I could give, what I so gladly gave.

Thank you Creator. All My Relations.


Copyright 2016

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