finding a more authentic, playful life --- finding your story

Monday, March 12, 2018

Grocery Cart Confessional

I met a priest yesterday---a very handsome priest, I might add. So. Very. Handsome.

He told me a story about how at the grocery store he goes to, one of the baggers often asks to help him with his groceries to his car and while they're walking, asks for confession. The hot priest agrees to listen and absolves the man amongst the broccoli and butter. This struck me as so interesting. This gentleman who works at the store saw this (handsome) Episcopalian priest and thought "Hey! I can save a trip to church. I'll tell this fellow my sins! He has a collar!" And the generous (read sexy) priest agrees...repeatedly, offering grocery cart absolutions on the fly, in the middle of a parking lot. Absolved!

Now some might criticize this, accuse the bagger of taking advantage. But  I applaud it and the "holy hot priest batman" gladly offers it. He feels if the man wants/needs to confess, who is he to say, "Sorry I'm grocery shopping right now. Your space. My space."

He is in service.

And then I spoke with another priest (Don't worry about why I was with so many priests. Just don't worry about it.) who said on planes, he takes his collar off. Too many people see it and want to talk or voice their opinions about church, God or their cheatin' spouse. He just wants to fly and not engage. I get it. I fly the same way often. I don't want to engage. I take my collar off too.

These are tough times, folx. For those of us awake, every day it seems is a new scandal, a new human right threatened, a new group threatened, a new need in the world. And with so many rights in this world to defend, I believe we all must be in service, to some degree or another--to advocate, help, donate or maybe even just smile at someone. To do something. To be activated.

We can't afford to be asleep at the wheel. Too much is at risk.

But sometimes, sometimes we also need to take the collar off and be like the other priest--incognito.

Sometimes we need to just log off and breathe, take the collar off, being in service to just ourselves.  Otherwise, we are no good. To anyone.

Which is it for you today?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

50/50 chance

As I was getting dressed this morning, getting ready to leave for an audition, NPR told me there was a 50/50 chance of rain. I stood in my kitchen thinking a moment. 50/50. Do I take an umbrella or not? I hate carrying umbrellas. Truly I do. So when the odds are in my favor, I tend to risk it. But this was 50/50. No one's favor. Hmm.

"No umbrella!" I boldly declared and off I went.

Ninety minutes later, sitting in the train heading home, torrents of rain pelting agains the train car, I am talking to my mom.

"But it was a 50% chance of rain! Why wouldn't you take your umbrella?" she asked. My mom carries 3 umbrellas in her car at all times: glove compartment, back seat and trunk. Because you never know where you will be in the car when you need one. I never carry umbrellas. I often get caught in rain.

"Well there was also a 50% chance of no rain!" I counter, worried as the skies look darker the more north we travel. I am gonna get so wet, I think to myself, certainly not admitting it to my mother.

I often live my life like this. I take chances. I tend to live on the risky side. Hopeful, I might even say, spinning it. What's the worst that could happen? Now sometimes this is not all that smart. Sometimes it is downright stupid, but when the odds are even.....I often think, why not?

Fifteen minutes later, I am about to step out into the deluge full of my odds and free of my umbrellas, when a woman sitting next to me, who I never said boo to the whole trip, suddenly asks if I need an umbrella? The train doors open. Time is not on my side. This is now urgent. I have an opportunity to walk home dry, but only moments to make that happen.

"But what about you? I ask, one eye on my stop. "What about... the rest of your life?" I ask perhaps more profoundly than intended. I don't think I can honestly offer to return it to her.

"I have extras. Here take it," she says, as she thrusts the umbrella in my hands, her daughter looking on in surprise, probably worried she will be the one getting wet later now.

"Thank you so much!" I shout as I run out the closing train doors. "A perfect gift on a rainy day!!" I yell as the train pulls out of the station.


As I step outside and push up the umbrella, I soon realize it is crap. It doesn't stay up and is bent down on one side. She so generously gave me a crap umbrella. "What about the rest of your life!" I remember asking her, now laughing. She'll be fine for the rest of her life without this umbrella---not to negate her generosity because honestly, it was such a kind gesture I think, as the wind flips it up to upside-down mode.  I stop and push it back into regular umbrella mode. The wind keeps flipping it up and I surrender, holding an upside-down umbrella, getting about 50% wet.

Oh well. You win some. You lose some.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I just met a trump supporter

Wow. I'm still in shock. Total shock. Just when you think you're safe. Where else are they hiding?

I mean I know my liberal bubble is massive. Most if not all of my peeps think Trump is a total freak show, destined to kill us all. I speak almost unequivocably against Trump in mixed company, fairly certain most of the people I speak, meet or like agree with me.

Then today. In passing. I mention something about Trump fans and a friend mentions that a woman standing next to me is a trump fan.  I dead stopped. Dead. Stopped. How is this possible? Tara? (name changed to protect the innocent) How is Tara a Trumpie? How can she be for everything I am against and vice versa? How can she support and admire this terrible terrible human being? I just had a lovely conversation with her. I like her! She's nice! I am floored. I now am questioning every nice thing I thought of her 5 minutes ago. I must have been wrong. She is awful. Right?

This is our problem, is it not? How do we reconcile such DRASTICALLY different world views with each other? How do we like the person who approves of everything we hate? How do we talk to the person we now know insane or ignorant or hateful or all of the above? How do we live together in this world?

I honestly don't know. I have no openness in my heart yet for that. Too many innocent good people  have been and will be hurt by that man. Too much is at stake and too much has already been lost. 118 days in.

Jaw dropped to the floor, I ignored this shocking revelation and kept on talking about whatever I was talking about. What was the alternative? At that moment, I didn't have one. I wish I was better prepared. I wish I could have said, "Oh you're a Trump supporter. Tell me more!" I wish I had said, "Are you pleased with all the decisions, threats and idiotic choices he has made so far? Are you okay with his lies? His ego? His relationship with Russia?"

But I was too shocked. Too assuming of my own bubble. Too scared to start a conversation I know has no way out because I know I am not willing to budge. I know there is no compromise here. I am literally unable to see your side of the argument. I want to be on the right side of history. I know I am on the side of justice and fairness and kindness and goodness. She is not.

So, what's the point?

How do we go on from here?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Holy fun book clubs batman!

Just finished up speaking at two book clubs in Palm Beach Florida.

First of all: Weather? Top notch!
                     Host? Top notch!
                     Ocean? Top notch!

But back to the subject.

I was invited to come and speak at two book clubs reading my memoir THREE DAYS IN DAMASCUS. What a joy. Seriously! Not only did most of them read the book! (Honestly, I think they did!) But the conversation was top notch. Thoughtful questions. Engaged readers. Awakened advocacy for refugees. TOP NOTCH! (I don't know why I keep saying that. Jet lag? Ocean longing? Top notch!)

All I know is I am grateful for people's response and love.

If you have a book club who might be interested in reading my book and or having me speak, please be in touch. That'd be top notch! (Can't. Stop.)


Wednesday, February 15, 2017


I'm home. For now.

I have spent the last 6 weeks in 5 cities reading signing and speaking about and from my memoir, "Three Days in Damascus" (published by Palewell Press, 2016). What a whirlwind---Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Washington D.C. and then to London for the UK launch of my book last week.

It has been an honor and a joy to share my book across the world, advocating for refugees. I have so enjoyed speaking about my process and experiences and even more enjoyed hearing people's reactions and questions. We have had engaging and lively discussions on behalf of refugees and dislocated, disenfranchised people everywhere. I have been joined in discussion by advocates on the issue: Roya Naderi (Karam Foundation) and Jamil Khoury (Silk Road Rising Theatre) in Chicago, Kristi Rendahl (Center for Victims of Torture) in Minneapolis, Deborah Oster Pannell in NYC, C.E. Vargas (Int. Center for Religion and Diplomacy) and Erik Gustafson (Education for Peace in Iraq Center) in D.C. and Anna Farina (Syria Relief) in London--brilliant, generous people, sharing their perspectives and thoughts in the discussion. So grateful for their participation.

And I'm not done yet!

I go to Palm Beach next week for some book club discussions and then back to New York City for an author event at Intersections International. Intersections is the organization that brought me to the Middle East in the first place---starting me on this journey. What a fitting way to end this part of my book tour, bookending it perfectly.

If you haven't read the book and want to, you can find it in paperback or ebook on amazon here.

And the full tour and more on the book is available at

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Morning After

The day after the shocked and mournful

...I took the train to go to rehearsal.

As I advocate for refugees and Muslims, I am uberaware of what a trump presidency could mean for them.

So as I walked across the platform, I saw a Muslim woman wearing a hijab. She looked like she could possibly be an immigrant or refugee. I hesitated a moment but then, realized I needed to talk to her. It was so fresh. I thought she may feel scared, vulnerable. So without thinking, I walked over and said something about how I noticed her hijab and that I stand by her and I would protect her if need be, that Trump does not represent all of us and that there are still good, open and welcoming people in this world. She smiled softly at me. And then I was crying but I kept going. All my emotions and fear and protections were spilling out. I want you to feel safe, I continued. You *are* welcome here. And I have love for you as a fellow human. My heart...Blah blah blah.

I went on like this for maybe 5 minutes. Seriously. I was on a post-traumatic roll. Then finally, still crying, I paused and smiled at her.

"No english!" She responded apologetically. 

Yup. No English.

We do what we can. :)

Keep looking out for each other, world. These are dark times.