Almost Paradisical

Pursuing the poetical, paradoxical, metaphorical, lyrical, artistical, noetical and mystical.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


She catches up with me
then catches me up

to the place where we
both want to be - recording (in our imaginations)

our favorite lyrics, thoughts,
and good reads (for posterity.)

Her brain is nimble -
her linguistic skills sharp.

She waits and listens -
holding space for sacred

breaths to open our morning
diaphragms. I have a soul

friend to walk along side
me on this perilous journey.

I imagine us reading Anam Cara
in Donegal as the sun rises and sets

on the water while John
O'Donohue's golden

light accompanies us.

For Laura 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sugar is Toxic Poison

Here are my top links that have educated me on the perils of sugar. Pilgrim, we don't have to live this way or feel this bad or have the health problems we have. I've had the biggest epiphany of my life and have radically changed what I eat. It was change or deteriorate….losing life as I know it.

One of the things that helped me understand why I've had a weight problem, so much neuropathy pain and other health issues over the years is this: I've worn out my pancreas and it is tired. My body is blocking the profuse amounts of insulin being pumped out and soon won't be able to produce any more insulin.

I did not know that sugar is hidden in savory things. More and more. Things that shouldn't have sugar like bouillion, salsa, soup, my beloved Siracha, ketchup, mayo, and horror of horrors - almost every deli rotisserie chicken - which I've used on the fly for unexpected company or a quick dinner - is basted with a sugar base. Along with most everything else processed or in a package. That's why it is caramelized and why it tastes so good. And why we're addicted and still feel hungry. And want more and more and more.

It's worse than cocaine or heroin, they say. It's real. Robert Lustig made me cry when he said, "You're not a sloth or a glutton, you've been tricked." I didn't know. Now I do. What am I going to do about it? I'm quitting. Sugar. Forever. Even fruit is something that should be eaten once in a while for a treat. With my compromised, overworked pancreas making me insulin resistant - I'll eat it rarely, and never with a fat or protein. The FDA and the food pyramid and the Diabetic Association have sold us out. Really, really.

And it's not just fat people who are part of this epidemic, thin people are getting diabetes, cancer, dementia, MS, and heart failure too. Sugar is the culprit.

I've been relearning habits and learning to cook in a different way. Planning, shopping and prepping for the week has helped me immensely, making it sustainable. I'm not eating sugar in ANY FORM right now. I'm reading labels like never before. I need to keep a magnifying glass in my purse because some of the print is nearly impossible to read. It's there, but not really.

I'm mainly buying real food, which I've done off and on for years. My blood sugar is back to a normal range both after eating and morning fasting. I'm going back in for an A1C test in January to confirm the turn around. I'm sad my doctor didn't tell me about options. Metformin is what he recommended with insulin looming in my future.

Robert Lustig gives the 56 names of sugar hidden in processed food. Sometimes there are 4-5 in one package all with different name. I had no idea.

Here's my list of curated links from YouTube and a few from Amazon. If you've been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or if you are feeling like your health is deteriorating - please consider looking up these links and watching them. You don't have to take a pill or go on insulin in order to keep your organs, your eyesight, your limbs and your health.

This is done poorly, but the info in it is good. Poor woman is almost dying on stage. She must be so sick/old? If you stay with it, there is some good stuff...


This guy was ridiculed by his peers so shamefully that he retreated from society. But he was right. Thirty years later......   She’s my favorite! I love her. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Sugar in my blood
leaked into my urine
inflaming my joints
starting a war attacking
my body at a cellular level.
Sugar messes with hormones
numbing peripheral parts
and turns nerve pathways
into painful neuropathy.
Extremities could become
useless, needing removed.
My eyes might lose the ability
to see. Can I arrest it - repair
the damaging effects so
when I am old I will
still be me? Reading.
Walking. Peddling. Paddling.
Creating. Cooking. Loving.

Dearest beloved body of mine -
why are you resisting
insulin? Repair thyself I 
beg of thee. Holy indwelling
worthy be. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Essential Oil

I unscrew the tiny lid
on the small vial and pour
one little drop on my

fingertip. Purity soaks
into my pores leaving
no residue.

Its healing properties
date back to a time
when gifts and wise

men followed stars
and found the one
who breathed them

into being. Presents
for a presence laying
low, low, low.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Being beloved
by the beloved
being the beloved
of the beloved
is to
be beloved


Monday, November 9, 2015

Chicken Soup

Start with a whole chicken, rinsed.
Butter its butt with butter. Salt inside and out.
Arrange quartered onions
inside along backbone. Bake for one hour and a half
until the back legs flop open.
Remove and place tenderly on a rack
to cool, letting it rest so the juices soak 
into flesh sealed by crisp skin. 
While warm, break the legs and thighs
from body at joints. Apologize when wings
are removed. Wings are sacred and shouldn't
be taken lightly. This now becomes a ritual --
like you are of the tribe of Levi outside
the holiest part of the tabernacle. 
Turn the broken body over, skinned. 
With it's back turned up, feel for the small loins
and peel them away from the cavities. 
Hold them reverently. Sprinkle with salt. Give
thanks. Put them to your mouth and chew - one at a time.
The cook, in order to make soup worth
eating, must partake first of the finest portion.
Ceremoniously put a large pot of water 
on to boil. Salt it. Remove the rest of the meat 
from the bones and place the bones in boiling,
salted water. Turn heat down. Simmer for one hour.
While the meat gives up its flavor, chop onions, carrots,
celery and the meat. Strain the bouilloned water
from the bones. Save the water, it's precious now. 
Throw the bones. They are finished. Add 
vegetables and meat. Season to taste. Choose 
your bowl carefully. And your spoon. 
Light a candle.  

I really love roasting a whole chicken and picking it for soup. It is one of life's many simple pleasures. Homemade chicken soup has some sort of enchantment to it. Does anyone know why? 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Waiting for Clam Chowder

Years ago he worked in San Francisco
where famous sourdough bread fragranced
the wharf. Hordes of tourists
broke crust and crumb
open right in the sidewalk's
crowded crush. Locals fought the traffic
tide to buy it fresh from the ovens.
People in the know
paired it with clam chowder,
the real legend.

He wanted to know how
to make it specific to the chef's
consistent results. The chef looked
his audacity up and down, then set
him to chopping vegetables for three
months. Does it remind you of the Karate
Kid? Unlike Jacob, who's father in law
tricked him into working another seven years
for the prized wife he really wanted, Heinz
was handed the coveted recipe at the agreed time.
The chef showed him how to layer the flavors to make
them bloom. One last secret was passed
on to me as I bent over his stock pot
steaming with chowder perfume.
You'll have to order some, linger
over it, wipe your mouth with a sigh
and boldly ask Heinz for

the end.

Enzo's. Eastsound. Orcas Island Washington. Heinz makes everything from scratch with the best ingredients. He is good to his employees. His food tastes like real food. Do try his clam chowder and be transported to a time when these things mattered. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Where the Gremlins Grow

Green Meany Gremlins are like fruiting funguses thriving on piles of poo where they live in moldering communities - clustered and crowded. They push out weak sisters as they grow to maturity. In time, caps turn up, curling to release spores like rotten eggs spewing their slime, stench, and contamination around - searching for the next welcoming host to feed on. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Letter to Brene Brown

Dear Brené Brown,

I was one of the people who made your very first TED talk go viral. I watched it several times for the first week. I loved it. It jolted me. The language you used gave me a place and new way to process my life. I found encouragement, and gained strength and understanding. Then I put it in my toolbox where it got buried.

This is a thank you note and love letter combined. I haven't revisited any of your material, audio, video, or books since that first TED talk - mostly because I have taken a social media sabatical. Because I saw Rising Strong on an Amazon page,  this last month I've immersed myself in all of the above - hitting rewind and rereading much of it. The margins of all four books are marked up and tear stained. Epiphany after epiphany has washed over me. It feels like I've been born again, again. I realize I wasn't ready for it before. I had to get on the other side of an experience to learn what I needed to learn.

I have found my way back to myself  - from a traumatic event about nine years ago - that laid me flat. It robbed me and my family of wholeheartedness - while I recovered. I've never understood or had language for what happened or how I felt, but it finally has become clear.

One fateful night, after a great presentation from a couple who work in India, I asked Jim, my assistant pastor why he had once mentioned that neither he, nor Kelley (his boss), nor Wayne (Kelley’s boss), would never take me on another trip. What had I done to be classified as 'trouble'? I told him to tell me so I could learn and be an asset. It wasn’t a need to know in order to people please, but to grow. I really loved the trips I had taken and wasn’t aware that I had this reputation. I asked if I could please go to India with the next group? I felt brave and vulnerable asking this.

He instantly and venomously hurled examples of itemized personality and character flaws - a case he had built against me. It was as if he had documented things and kept a score card of my all failings for years and years. He ended up saying I was the most selfish women he had ever known, ever in the world. His lips were curled in contempt. His teeth snarled at me.

The room swirled. I couldn't catch my breath to get air. I wobbled down the long hall to the door and out into the parking lot. When I reached my car I was unable to unlock the door the first try. My bladder let loose and I started dry heaving into the bushes. When I sat down in the car, I began to wail with unrecognizable primal sounds. My eyes felt like they were being burned out of their socket. My eyelids swelled so much that it was like looking out of slits. I should have called my husband to come and get me, but I began the long drive home alone, pulling over when I couldn't see through the waterfall of tears.

I have a name for what happened now. It was a violation of trust, a spiritual trauma, and emotional abuse. A public shaming. His list shamed me in every way a human can be shamed. He masterfully hit every layer, every exposed nerve, every tender, vulnerable belly part. He even shamed me with things he'd heard - without asking me if his assumptions were true. Gossip condemned me without trial, without jury.

When I told a few close friends what had happened, they seemed weirdly unaffected, strangely unmoved. One couple asked him about it and came back with the report that he told them he did it because he loved me - implying it was a necessary, spiritual discipline - someone had to do it. It was for my good. I forgive you, Tim and Jan. You were going through some trauma of your own. 

I wrote my senior pastor a letter asking why this abusive behavior was condoned. No answer. Everytime I mentioned it to anyone - blank looks and itchy, unspoken awkwardness surfaced. I soon realized that if I wanted to keep my friends, I must  stay silent. Everyone counseled me to forgive and move on. If I became bitter or defended myself, I was the problem at Calvary Chapel Lake Stevens. I forgive you, Jim and Kelley. 

I had done years of boundary and personal growth work teaching me to mend relationships with truth and love. 

I went to talk with Jim six months later - because I was still hurting - and because he had spoken during one service about how painful family estrangement is. I brought no armor, and no witnesses. This was a mistake. It did not go well, and another layer of violation hit me. He would not take responsibility, feel remorse, or have any empathy. He let me know it was me - I was the problem. He used mockery and sarcasm and resorted to scripture whipping, saying, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” 

I felt a little crazed. Then my friend Shelley came to visit - as my counselor. She told me sternly that I had asked for it, and told me I needed to know how unhealthy it was to keep going back for more. Since I hadn't talked with her about it, I don't know where she got her information. I invited her to leave. I forgive you, Shelley.

Another friend, Jill, took me to lunch. One of the first things she asked is why I always expected to be friends with men in authority. I couldn’t connect the dots and was really puzzled and wondered what she meant. I told her I always identified with men and/or visionary movers and shakers no matter their gender - because of their sense of adventure and zest - more than women's talk about beauty tips and shopping. It's true. I wasn't ashamed of craving this stimulating interaction. Nor did I feel weird saying it out loud. She counseled me not to expect or require men in authority to befriend me. Her disapproval was tangible. I scratched my head, truly puzzled. I could not integrate the shame coming at me with the reality of the perpetuator’s spiritual and emotional abuse. 

That evening, I started loosing hold of my remaining healthy thoughts - and began shrinking inside. Isolation and powerlessness overcame me. In my head, I began to believe that I was bad, that something indeed was wrong with me. I felt so misunderstood and confused. I forgive you, Jill. 

One good friend cautioned me to let it go, because if I drank the poison, I would be the only one to die. She was too embarrassed to admit that her and her husband were going on a long trip overseas with Jim as the leader - until two weeks before they left. It wasn’t that they were going on a trip with someone who had fatally hurt me - that didn’t feel so good - but she couldn’t be honest and upfront with me. That became a weird and shaming thing in itself - which we couldn’t find a way to ever talk about. I forgive you Debi. 

Not one friend refuted the accusations Jim had hurled at me. No one said he was wrong. No one reminded me it was his opinion, not theirs. Not one friend wanted to talk about it and help me process the hurt. Not one friend reminded me that he had acted in an unprofessional, cruel, and unrighteous manner. Not one friend thought I was brave trying to mend it. I wanted someone, anyone, to help me think clearly and separate the truth from the lies. I wanted someone to fight for me and come to my defense. I was told it was a serious weakness for me to try and get people to side with me. It was implied that something was wrong with me, not him. 
He was The Man of God. 

A malignancy started growing inside of me. I started believing I wasn't worthy of love and belonging. I had proof and noone refuted it. I felt bereft and hopeless and apologetic for breathing air that should go to a more worthwhile person. I began expecting rejection and acting awkward and uncomfortable around people. I became a recluse. My introversion trumped my usual enthusiasm for life, my zest for play and creativy, and almost squashed my insatiable curiosity.

I started to feel like I was dying. I fully understand the idiom "dying with shame" - but not until now did I connect it and name shame.

When I confided to a friend that I felt like I was dying, she looked at me with judgement and silence. Her grim look expressed it plainly. You are not taking responsibility. You’re blame shifting. You're the problem and you need to quit embellishing. Learn this hard lesson. I forgive you, Mary.

I remember thinking, but I was just standing there without provoking anyone. He came up behind me with an emotional baseball bat and beat me. I'm still broken and bleeding. Won't anyone take me to the emergency room? Please. I don’t want to sound like a victim but I think it’s possible that I am a victim. I have been violated and violated and violated. There is no outside evidence to collect. But it happened and he gets away with it. Help me. 

If only someone had offered me the antidotes - the remedies of empathy and comfort  - it would have merely been like a crash on pavement scraping my knees. Now I know this is how shame is named and healed.

The only thing coming my way was hints to keep silent, more shame and harsh judgement. Now I know this is how shame grows.

I wrote a letter telling my friends that they weren't helping me and that I was essentially leaving the group and fellowship with them. I explained why I needed to put boundaries in place. I heard later that they were hurt by this and felt rejected. 

Oh how I dreamed they would read between the lines and see the tearstains on the page. Oh how I wished they would come and comfort me and listen and just be with me and hold space for this trauma. 

I thought these were my my people. I had gone through so many hard experiences with them and thought I had invested enough over the years that I could make a hefty emotional withdrawal - it was my turn. I forgive you, church family.  

About four years later, the senior pastor wanted to get together and let me talk about it. He let me say my piece, then he looked right at me and told me that of course he never would have disciplined Jim for saying or doing what he did. This stunned me, because it meant he approved and agreed. I had come without weapons and felt completely unguarded. Next, he tossed one last shame bone. He said, "Aunt Margie told me that you didn't work when you were on the Austria/Germany trip and I believe her." This sounds like a petty and small thing to repeat, but it was loaded with a host of large innuendos and contempt. 

I told him that I guessed it was time for me to finally grow up and not need or want his approval. I did not defend myself. I felt beaten and terribly bruised, but brave. And angry. A glimmer of courage flickered in the coals of my anger. I thought, I’m done being treated this way. No more. The wrong people are feeling the pain. 

We left for home and I decided to get well and become whole again. I also decided to completely block any and all unsafe interactions. This allowed my husband’s love and our children's love to soak in and become healing balm. I wish I would have found a therapist, but I did not have the language to explain what happened or how I felt. I did not realize that a good counselor would have known the right questions to ask me. 

Dear BrenĂ©, your words reminded me of something I had forgotten. There is nothing wrong with me. There is something deeply wrong with humans who abuse those in their care. I'm enough. I always was. I am one of the beautiful beings created in the image of God. He loves me just like I am. And mostly, I finally understand that those people are suffering and are probably living in deep, broken shame themselves. They need to throw shame on someone else for relief. Even so, I should never have lost my belovedness. 

I had a long spell of not being me, of not living wholeheartedly, but I'm back. I’m glad I didn’t bury my pain or put frosting on it - gold plating grit, as you say. My suffering has given me wisdom and great empathy for others in pain. I understand how shame and addiction, shame and shaming, shame and disorders work. It has also helped me understand the dynamics of my family of origin. Shame was the way the adults in our family interacted with everyone. There has always been a parent/child dynamic even with what should be adulthood to adult and peer relationships. I grew up being familiar with the pain of shame. I just never knew what to call that feeling. Now I am able to heal that reality and understand so much of my childhood. And forgive and offer grace to those who were doing the best they knew how. I've also been able to forgive myself and give myself grace -because I too have been doing the best I knew. Self compassion and compassion for others. I finally have the wherewithal, the language, and the margin to give it. 

My favorite part of your work is accepting the fact that shame will smack me again, but because I have learned how to be shame resilient it won't have that same debilitating effect again. I might be bloody - and covered with mud - and face down - but I will get up again and again whenever it is now - and go back into the arena. I know how to do this. I have done it. I will do it again. This is a relief, and makes me be able to be grateful for a terrible experience that got me to this place. 

Just last week, a girlfriend and I were walking along a lake path strewn with fall leaves. Nature's beauty facilitated deep talks about gratefulness, belovedness, creativity, shame, and vulnerability. Something triggered a familiar feeling as I recounted a painful relationship that I felt helpless to mend. I told her that I felt so weary and tired of being the one who kept having broken friendships. She held my head to her shoulder and said softly, you don't have to do it anymore. A feeling of complete release gripped me and held me still.

This smokey, bruise-colored swirl started whirling around the top of my head, down my body and swished out my feet like water draining from a bathtub. I felt it leave, rustling leaves as it curled out over the water. I believe it was shame. I said it outloud. It had to leave as I'm not being hospitable to it anymore. No welcome here. 

[Kathleen gets up off the arena floor, rising strong]

She stands and says, "Hello, I'm Kathleen Overby. I'm wholehearted. I'm beloved. I'm enough. Bring it……"

[a vast throng of wholehearted witnesses stand to their feet - cheering and applauding wildly] 

She is not alone. She no longer wishes to fit in. She is worthy of love and belonging. She knows. This changes everything. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Quince Compost

Brave fruit ripens on my window 
sill. It casts long shadows, long held away. 
Someone said if you can remember screen
doors slamming in your memory
you can recall an entire childhood
encapsulated profoundly in the sound. 

We didn't have a screen door. Sunshine
magnifies the fuzz impaled in waxy yellow 
skin releasing strong odors of childhood which 
perk like chopped corn or manure will if buried 
and covered long enough. This quince inoculates
the pain and composts it sweetly into black gold.