Remember the Serenity Prayer

Among many things I don’t like about being a being a widow and I specifically miss about Jim is how he could talk me down after I’ve had too big a dose of news. Especially now when we have to make a point to find  joy in our lives. I needed Jim last night before I went to sleep. After I watched Republicans attack our top FBI Russian spy master and our president attack our NATO allies and of course the latest about the separated children, I slept fitfully and woke with a migraine. During my yoga class I realized I felt as if I should be worrying about all those things, that it’s my job. Then, at COSTCO, I began to realize that those feelings were a sign I needed to slow down and take stock of what I can do something about and what I can’t – just as the Serenity Prayer says.

I’m doing what I can about the political situation. I’m registering young people to vote. I’m voting myself. I’m trying to keep myself on an even keel and to be kind. I’m spending time with family and friends, writing poetry, laughing, and trying to do what Buckminster Fuller said – stand and turn around in a circle and see what needs to be done. He said that if everyone did that, the world would be taken care of. And I think that’s what most of us are doing in these trying times. We have to be there for each other and remind each other . . .

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Why I Believe in Life After Death

As a widow, I have a great desire to believe in life after death. While I sat by my husband, Jim’s, side as he passed away, I felt strongly that the non-physical part of him did not cease to exist. I believe he went to another dimension that I don’t know or understand.

I played a CD for both of us to listen to as I sat there, a favorite song we used to dance to: Louis Armstrong singing A Kiss to Build a Dream On. Two years later, I brought Jim’s ashes to Hawaii. While there, my brother Chuck and I went to a little cafe on the way to Kealekekua Bay on the Big Island. There was no music until we sat down to order. Then I heard Louie singing “Give me one kiss before you leave me and my imagination will make that moment live.” I felt that Jim was with me on my first trip to Hawaii after his death.

Yesterday, the day before Father’s Day, I took my grandson, Shamus, to lunch. We ordered and were waiting for our food to come, watching the World Cup. Then I heard Louie again, singing Kiss to Build a Dream On. I knew Jim was somehow with me and Shamus as we enjoyed lunch together. It was a day I didn’t believe in coincidences.

Affirmations for Abundance

Here are some affirmations for abundance we’re going to talk about in my Spiritual Economics class tonight.

I establish myself in the limitless substance of God, and I have abundance.

I am the child of a loving, giving, and abundant Parent.

I am a child of the Universe, richly endowed with the fullness of All-Good.

The Universe is on my side; Life is forever biased in my favor.

As much as I can conceive and believe, I can achieve.

Spiritual Economics Class

I’m excited about teaching a class in Spiritual Economics by Eric Butterworth. At the very beginning of the book he gives his definition of prosperity: “Prosperity is a way of living and thinking, and not just money or things. Poverty is a way of living and thinking, and not just a lack of money or things.”

This quote reminded me of a conversation I had with my mother about inviting more people for dinner. I remember telling her I didn’t think our house was big enough. “Your Nano use to say that your home is as big as your heart,” she told me. That’s the last time I said we didn’t have enough room for someone.

This class begins on September 14 at the Rio Grande Center for Spiritual Living. If you are interested in signing up for the class click here. . We have plenty of  room.

Grandmothers Unite

My Nasty Woman tee shirt got a few glances this morning on my usual walk. I haven’t worn it since the election, because I didn’t want to add to the noise and polarization in the country. But I am so upset with what has happened since the election that I have decided to speak out and to encourage other like-minded grandmothers to join me.

What I’m concerned with today didn’t start with the new administration, but it is aggravated by the new climate of “take care of your own and to hell with everyone else.” Reading the article about the killing of 15 year-old Jordan Edwards in Texas left me with a heavy heart. I have a 16 year-old grandson. It didn’t take much for me to empathize with Jordan’s family. All I know to do today is to say that I care, that I object strenuously to this killing, and that as a “white” grandmother I know that what hurts one child in this country hurts all of us. I am sorry for a culture that allows this to continue.

No One to Wake

wake-(200)When my husband of 50 years died after a long period of medical complications following a liver transplant, I was astounded by the emotions I felt that I did not want to talk about. To understand what I was experiencing, I wrote a poem almost every day for two months starting with the day after he died. Some days there were complete poems, some days only a few lines. These pages recount the experience of reflecting on the
life we had together, what is was like to be alone for the first time, and wondering who I would become without Jim. The book is available at Amazon. com .

Here is the first poem.

March 9, 2013

On the day of our 50th wedding anniversary

I had to put sliced cucumbers on my eyes

to shrink the puffiness.


Your feet were hurting.

You felt you couldn’t stand.

But we went to the party

planned by our children.

My eyes were better.

You could stand.


We were showered with blessings,

love and good wishes.


Then, seven months later, you left your body.

Now you’re the light shining in the clouds,

the leaves rustling in the wind,

the river swirling in the eddy.


You’re a paradox.

Here and not here.

You who believed and didn’t.

You had faith in yourself –

in me, in our children.

You were rarely afraid.


Love and Fun

Dear Friends,

This is everyone’s favorite poem of mine. I wanted to pass it along to you.


 I don’t know anything

especially what I used to especially

about what people should do or

why life is the way it is or what

brings happiness except for

living in the now difficult and

trite as that is. Now is

all we have, now is where

to find joy and happiness, now

is bliss.




nobody knows, least of all me.

I saw it yesterday in a cottonwood tree

heard it in a bird song. It’s

in beauty and kindness

and of course love.

I’m sorry I have no answers.

The older I am the less I know.

I’m only good for love and fun.

Marilyn O’Leary






Watching for Whales











After dropping my houseguests Jack and Jean at the Kona airport for their flight back to San Diego, I decided to go to a local state park near the shopping area to read and watch for whales. As I slung my beach chair over my shoulder I noticed there were more men than women enjoying the beach. Not necessarily a bad thing. I found a shady spot for my chair and said hi to the man sitting at the picnic table under the next tree before getting out my book.

In clearly articulated speech he told me that the Kona coast where we were was the warmest place in the United States, but that there was a place one degree warmer in China, his next destination. He then proceeded to tell me his theory of everything, how everything had the same attributes, and how the purpose of law (since he asked my occupation) was to find the best result for the client as quickly as possible, and that was the law of science and engineering that governed all things. I thought that was an interesting and probably worthwhile goal of law and chatted for a few minutes. I excused myself to my book, remembering to tell myself that I was safe, he probably wasn’t dangerous, there were people around who would help me if needed. After a few other of his soliloquys, I stopped mm-hmming and kept looking at the ocean. I saw two whale incidents that included breaching, flukes, and spouts and read several pages. When he asked/ declared that my husband was not out enjoying the day, I said no and several minutes later decided it was too warm to sit outside much longer. Maybe I was sitting in the hottest place in the US.

I then went for comfort food groceries to help me forget Jean and Jack had gone. To my delight and after striking out at Island Naturals I found Barbara’s cheese puffs (original, baked) at the KTA. All I needed then was some POG (papaya, orange, guava) a favorite drink since my first plane ride to Maui 30 years ago. I also picked up some graham crackers, which I bought in memory of Jim.

Well-fortified, I made my way up the windy road to my beautiful home on the Big Island. Who says life isn’t full of possibilities?!


In a Nova program on the discovery of ancient skulls of human ancestors, one of the scientists posited that after four million years of little brain development, large climate shifts required responses from these creatures that caused a huge evolutionary leap in  brain development. This idea took me to one of my favorite topics: women’s ability to change and be adaptable. I conclude one of the reasons for women’s adaptability relates to the monthly changes experienced physically and sometimes emotionally for approximately 30 years. Living with menstruation (and its cessation – The Change), and changes brought around by pregnancy and childbirth contribute to our being able to take change more in stride. We know we will feel different from time to time, our bodies will change, sometimes the changes are significant, sometimes not, but we almost always go back to our personal equilibrium.

Some changes are more difficult, where we are in the state of change for a while. Sometimes we are lucky to be able to choose the changes in our life – vanilla or chocolate, this car or that, to marry or not. Sometimes they are thrust upon us to live out as best we can – illness, loss of a job, the death of a loved one. Those are more difficult to deal with.

After my husband died I realized that we each have to grieve at our own pace. It helps to have a friend or counselor hold our hand, or to share our feelings with others in a similar situation, our just sit and watch TV for a whole day. But when and how we do it is pretty individual. I eventually knew that I would feel better at some point and that I would get back to my old self. It did and I did. Knowing that life is a series of changes does help us to adapt to the change as we need to, make the most of it, and then see what’s next. There’s always something next.

Hello Again

Since the time I last wrote here my life has changed. My husband of 50 years passed away, 20  years after having received a liver transplant. In that 20 years we dealt with other illnesses and drug-related complications, as well as many wonderful life experiences.


In the almost two years since Jim’s death, I have learned a lot – about grief, about friendship, about long term marriage and its gifts, and about how when your spouse dies, you feel like you are going to die.

I am coming out of that phase with some ideas and experiences that might be helpful. One is that you can’t rush or really “direct” the grieving process. It will be your process, not like anyone else’s. One thing that helped me a lot was a Grieving Through Art class I took from Kate at Heritage Hospice. I didn’t want to talk about how I felt, but those eight classes helped me express and get insight into my feelings. They also helped me understand that the feelings I had, both emotional and physical, were normal.

When I went to my dear family practice doctor last week complaining that I didn’t feel as fit as I used to, he reminded me about the book Younger Next Year, which Jim bought when it first came out 10 years ago. As I have read through the book, I have gotten back to regular exercise. I have also abandoned my holiday eating habits, fun though they were. As I told friends of mine last week, I exercise not because it will help me live longer, but because it makes me feel better that day. Unless I have overdone it, I feel fit, cheerier, and younger. Most of the time.

I’m already half way through Younger Next Year. It’s making me laugh and think about the benefits of exercise and eating well, as well as stoking my motivations. I recommend it for anyone who wants to get in an exercise routine.

I plan to write weekly. At this point, I think it will be about what makes life fulfilling, how we can creatively express and use our talents, and how we can make a contribution to our world. I hope you’ll join in the conversation.