Five Fascinating Facts about Roald Dahl


September 13, 2014…. Willie Wonka and Matilda… staples in our home when my daughter was young. Now today, a new understanding. It is always fascinating to have a looking glass into the wonders of life and our stories. This struck my fancy and it might yours too.

Originally posted on Interesting Literature:

Roald Dahl was born on this day in 1916, so we’ve taken the opportunity to raise a glass of burgundy (apparently one of Dahl’s favourite drinks – see below) to the man who gave us Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryThe TwitsMatilda, The BFG, and so many more classic books.

1. Roald Dahl didn’t do particularly well at school. One of his teachers wrote in his school report: ‘I have never met anybody who so persistently writes words meaning the exact opposite of what is intended.’ While he was at school, Dahl undertook what has to be one of the schoolchild’s dream jobs: he was an occasional taste-tester for Cadbury’s chocolate. This surely played a part in his later creation of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Dahl12. In 1971, a real Willy Wonka wrote to Roald Dahl. He was a postman from Nebraska, and was probably…

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Over the past month, I’ve been creating my next blog.  Today, my intention was to publish it, but I stopped when I read my daughter’s Facebook post.

“I drive next to the Pentagon every morning on my way into work and watch the officers raise the American flags as planes land over the Potomac at Reagan. It’s a gentle reminder to let go of fear, prejudice and hate. Only courage, perseverance and love prevail in the end.”

Today is September 11.  Today reminds me of the incredible things we do to each other – human-to-human.  Today reminds me of the great strength, courage, and compassion we bring to each other – human-to-human.  My daughter’s post reminded me that we have a choice…. I have a choice.   And I began to sing softly……..Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

IMG_0869Thanks for reading,


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Listening Within

IMG_0687 - Version 2An early July afternoon, needing a respite from a complex, wayward project, I headed out for a walk.  I longed to hear the birds sing, feel the breeze tickle my cheeks, and sweat – a perfect combination for releasing pent up energy.  

After a few minutes, I accelerated my pace, felt my feet moving with the ground, and watched my breath deepen.  But rather than relaxing into the movement, my mind returned to the project and its conundrums.  The chatter was overwhelming – noisy and intense as a Sunday morning political talk show with every opinion clamoring for center stage.

Fortunately, a collection of crows caught my attention and in the midst of their cawing, my mind became quiet.  First one breath.  Then, a second.  In this space, a soft voice spoke lovingly.  “Listen to your heart.  It carries your wisdom.”  

My mind could not wait to join in the conversation “What does that mean? “ she pleaded “Of course, I’m listening – there’s a lot going on here!”  The soft voice, still soft, spoke again.   “With all the chatter going on, how can you be listening?  Just wondering.”  

“Hmmm…..”, my mind went thinking as the soft voice continued.  “Yes, we’ve learned a lot through our experiences and we’ve created many conclusions about life, what we want, what we need, how to get through challenging situations.  No wonder there’s so much sorting out to be done.  BUT……..” 

Knowledge Speaks quoteSilence jolted my mind from its distractions, listening, now, and curious about what was coming next.  “…….your chatter is all your voices trying to figure out what to do next based on what they know and have learned.  It’s good, but it’s only a start.  

“You see, every next moment, irrespective of the past, is unknown so the mind doesn’t really know.  It’s our hearts that connect with the infinite wisdoms.  Our hearts call us to love, again… to trust without reason…. to feel connected to the world beyond what our physical eyes can see.  Listen to your heart.  It carries your wisdom.”  


There’s always an interplay between our minds and our hearts – what we learn from the world and what we know deep within our being.  The interesting thing is that we often miss the interplay.  In the hustle-bustle of every day life, our attention goes to the physical – what we see, hear, and do; and it’s easy to miss the quiet voices of our inner knowing.  

Standing on a street corner, do you hear the wind?  And when you do hear it, what does it say?  Do you trust its message?   For the wind is like this moment.  As soon as it appears, it is gone again, allowing the next breeze, the next moment to have a life all its own – the same or different.


Since that July afternoon many years ago, I have practiced quieting my mind.  In the listening, I am both student and teacher.  I have learned that my mind loves the world.  It builds my capacity through experience.  It figures out life’s puzzles – what worked, why or  why not.  My mind is curious – to read more, learn more, go to new places, jobs, homes. In its conversation with my heart, it shares what it is like to be living fully human through every moment and every experience.  

In every moment, my heart embraces my being with infinite love and trust.  Her deepest wisdoms are not answers, definitive and discreet. In fact, I’ve never heard her speak to a completion or a conclusion.  Rather she opens the doorway to possibilities – to be curious, courageous, to love every moment and to remember to live across life’s full and exciting range.  Along the way, she coaxes my mind and emotions to love more, to trust more, to fear less, to honor the world as myself.  

Willing to wait picSometimes the interplay makes sense.  Other times, it doesn’t make any sense at all.  It’s here that my heart reminds me to be patient:  understanding and clarity will come in its own way.  She’s right.  My mind has kept track.  In time, I find unexpected gifts:  a greater love than the one I lost, a new start, forgiveness, an appreciation for life’s simple pleasures.   

Now you know.  This is the process within my life and my writing.  I listen to my mind, emotions, my body and heart.  I explore what I have learned and what I don’t know.   And I remember, like the wind, every new moment brings the newness of the unknown.  It is a grand adventure.  

Thanks for reading!


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VaseLast week, a friend and I were talking about blogging and she asked how long I had been writing.  My immediate response was “Not too long…”   Then, the question dove into my memory database, searching:  “times I was writing”.

The results?  Holy smokes –  I’ve been writing all my life.  Of course, that got me wondering.  How did that happen and I didn’t even see it?

Over the next couple of days, I realized that life is always expanding – whether we ask it to or not.  For example, today expands into tomorrow – no need to do anything here.  My shoe collection expands too, how many times have I gone to buy one pair of shoes and I’ve come home with two?  And looking at my career path, at each step, I became restless in  jobs that had been perfectly suited to what I had wanted.

Okay.  But I was still curious about my writing.  How did it evolve and expand – particularly since I didn’t set out to be a “writer”?

DSC_0456It began simply.  Reading, writing and arithmetic were the essentials in grade school.  By high school, writing was second nature:  biology lab reports, history analyses, English term papers.  Even in college, writing further expanded through math proofs, economic research papers, and even a technical writing class

So when I started my career, the ability to write was a given – assumed standard in a college grad’s tool kit.  What happened?  Writing expanded, of course.  This time, there were specific technology formats and language for proposals, documentation, status reports.

Looking back, it’s easy to see that over time, my writing shifted.  In addition to focusing on the facts of “What?” the technology would do, my writing delved into the broader question of  “Why?”  Why now?  Why change?  Even the all important question “How?”  grew  beyond “How” the technology worked, to the deeper question of “How” the technology would impact sustainability and growth for the company and its customers.

Writing was a tool I used to do other things.  Frankly, the only time I thought about it was when I was updating my resume.  Communication – check!  Writing – check, check!  Published writing – check, check, check!

Now, I can see that this was just the beginning.  My writing was like a seed, seemingly contained to a purpose, yet ready to burst forth and sprout into something new.

The catalyst came in the late ’90’s when intense, unexpected challenges came into my job, marriage and home.  As life changed around me, closing doors and opening others, my writing changed too.  It sprouted inward.

Mary pic b&wRather than writing for others, I wrote for myself.  Through a simple pen and blank pages in my journals, a space opened that welcomed every thought and feeling looking for expression.  Words could be broken and fractured.  I could “not know”, ask questions, feeling that somehow, the next words would answer back.

In this freedom, writing invited me to be curious as new disciplines and perspectives – like spirituality, metaphysics, psychology – crossed my path.  And, at every step, writing drew me deeper and revealed how my understanding was evolving into my experiences and beliefs.

In fact, the thesis for my Masters of Divinity degree in spiritual peacemaking was “Be Peace”.  Here, for the first time, I formally wrote about my journey of understanding and integration.  It was a natural step and would harken a new beginning – a practice of contemplation and reflection through words, in real-time.

But I still wasn’t ready to share.   The world was the world, my career was my career, and writing was my refuge.  Fortunately, my inner-writer had a different plan and step-by-step, she coaxed me forward.  I remember vividly the goose-bumps that rolled through the first time I hit the “Post” button for my blog.

Rilke quoteI often wish I could say that writing this blog has gotten easier.  It hasn’t.  Yes, I am more practiced and the words draw themselves from a deeper well.  And yet, the inspirations and ideas are always expanding, asking me to take them deeper to bring them to my fullest expression of mind, body, spirit and emotions.

The truth is, I love the process; and no matter where I begin, I’m always amazed at where the words take me.  Yes, I am a writer… always expanding.

“We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned                                                             so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”                                                                            Joseph Campbell

Thanks for reading!




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Settling in to the Range…

DSC_0353 - Version 2One of the many gifts of writing this blog is that it asks me to be aware – of how I feel, what I think, and what’s going on around me.  The truth is, when all is going well – when I get what I expected or wanted or better – I breeze right through, with nary a thought.

For example, a Friday morning early in March was moving along quite routinely.  Dog and cat fed, coffee made, I snuggled into my studio to write.  About mid-morning, the doorbell rang unexpectedly, prompting Dakota and me to jump – me out of my chair and him up on his feet from a deep sleep.

I could say we raced down the stairs, but that would not be true.  There was no race, he always gets there first and there is only one question:  “Who rang the doorbell?”  With my thoughts still in the studio, and my hand opening the door, Dakota rushed outside.

I have no idea how long I stood motionless, blinking my eyes wondering “Is this a dream?”  There stood my daughter, smiling like a Cheshire cat.  “Surprise!!  Happy Birthday Mom!”  Totally unexpected.  Fully wanted.  Easy.  Breezy.  Perfect.

IMG_0289 - Version 2Like days flowing into nights, life has a natural cadence of new beginnings and endings.   So, too, it was for the weekend – Friday quickly flowed through Saturday and directly into Sunday – when it was time for  my daughter to return home.   Expected, yes.  Wanted?  Not so much.

Standing at the entrance of airport security, the joy of being together sang through our voices; and the sadness of her leaving seeped through our quiet tears.  We got in lots of hugs and all the words that could be spoken –  “Loved every minute of it…”See you soon…Love you.”

The part of life I’ve deemed to be “unwanted”, even when it’s expected, takes my breath away.  And I wonder, what do I do with all of it?  Sadness, anxiety, worry, frustration… the emotions I’ve banished to the shadows…hoping to avoid their hold.

hidden_water_messagesMasaru Emoto, in his book The Hidden Messages in Water, shares an experiment in which families put rice in 3 different jars.  Every day they say “I love you” to the 1st jar.  To the 2nd, they say “You fool.” To the 3rd?  They ignore it, saying nothing.    Then, they watch the rice to see what happens.

My initial thought was that the rice given the energy of “I love you” would thrive.  The one given the negative energy would rot.  And the ignored rice would just hang out.  But that is not what happened.  Time and time again, the ignored rice rotted first.

Emoto’s conclusion?  “To give your positive or negative attention to something is a way of giving energy.  The most damaging form of behavior is withholding your attention.”  This is true for rice and for ourselves and our feelings.

It takes great courage to create an inner circle, that embraces the full range of our emotions. It takes practice to honor our wanted and unwanted experiences.   And it takes time to acknowledge all of our feelings, not as rivals, but as unique part of our wholeness.

Laughing is as natural as crying.  Wondering how a project will turn out or when we’ll see a loved one again create a tension between worry and knowing that all is well.  And the intensity between frustration and curiosity when we want something to work moves us forward to new possibilities.

DSC_0085 - Version 2What’s my conclusion?  It’s a gift to say “Yes” to the full range of my emotional being.  In doing so, I become intimate with life, like a drop of water in the river – passing over every rock, rushing through the rapids, taking an extra moment in a quiet pool – each, only once – in a fleeting moment – on my journey.

On the way home from the airport on Sunday evening, I breathed deeply.  My emotions reminded me that I know deep within my being what it is like to be a mom.  I know how it feels to love and let go.  And I know life’s deep beckoning, calling me and my daughter forward to life’s wholeness.

The expected and unexpected.  The wanted and unwanted.  The range of thought and emotions.  These are the gifts of life.

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.  When you realize that is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”  Lao-Tsu.

Thank you for reading,



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A Conversation with Spring

IMG_0384 - Version 2Okay, I admit…I’ve always loved spring… its noticeably longer days; the alternating cool and warm breezes tickling my nose; and the surprises of  color.  I didn’t think it could get any better.  And, then, it did.

IMG_0310 - Version 2The day began routinely.  As I went about my work, Dakota waited patiently for the moment I would reach for my tennis shoes, signaling it was time for a long walk.   Jumping up and wagging the puff ball we call his tail, he was ready for his leash.

Our walk also began routinely.  Out the door, we turned right, with no reason to expect that today would be any different.  But, after all, it was spring and a small clump of blooming daffodils caught our attention.  So, we went off course – Dakota to smell and me to admire.

IMG_0320 - Version 2Then, it happened.  “Be joyful with life as it unfolds,”  a voice came through the breeze.  Not used to strange voices in my head or in breezes, I looked around to see who was there.  But we were alone.  Except for the daffodils nodding.  “Life’s mysteries always know the perfect time to bloom.”  Yep, it was the daffodils.

As my mind fluttered, trying to understand what was going on, my inner muse jumped into the conversation.  “The daffodils are right.  No matter how good we think we are at planning and getting things done, life does have perfect timing.”  About halfway through her list of examples, I nodded “Okay, okay!  Got it!”

It was none too soon when Dakota got restless and pulled at the leash. Thank goodness!   Thinking the daffodil speaking incident was behind me, we continued on our normal route toward the sidewalk.

IMG_0368 - Version 2But as we passed the pruned hedge on the right, a deep voice said  “Yup, those daffodils are pretty, but me and my buddies here have strong trunks,  deep roots and wisdom cultivated over many years.”

“Holy smokes!” I thought, “The hedge is in on this too!”  And once again, my inner muse was ready to go.  She reminded me that there is a lot more to me than what can been seen.  “You transform experiences into wisdom that you hold deep in your heart.   Plus, just like the hedge, you know how to let go of old stuff, rest, and be ready for the new.”  My muse was right, again, I have had many cycles of newness, growth, pruning, and rest.

By now, I was curious what would happen next, but all was quiet.  Dakota and I fell into the routine cadence of our walk and as we turned the corner announcing the halfway mark, Dakota stopped to explore the smells at the end of a driveway.

IMG_0340 - Version 2“It’s easy in your world to underestimate the power of passion and the gift of yielding” spoke a young voice.  As I looked down, there was a crocus newly burst through the ground reaching for the sun.

And as I had learned earlier, my inner muse wanted to be sure I got the point and she jumped right in.  “Remember the crocus  when you wonder whether your young ideas are strong enough to get through the existing layers of thought.  No one asked the crocus if it could get through the ground, it just did it.”

The wisdom within Spring’s voices was settling in and I noticed I was happy, content.  That is, until I was jolted out of my serenity by a loud voice.  “Look!!!  Look!!!  Here……”  My eyes caught a glimpse of a flowering forsythia “What do you see?” he asked.  

IMG_0356 - Version 2Not waiting for an answer, he blurted.   “Flowers, yes, yes, yes, but, look closer….Strong branches hold the flowers….the healthy bush nurtures them all.  Do you see?”

“Yes, I do,” I replied thankfully,  and then added “I, too, am the whole me.”   In that moment, a soft breeze bent the forsythia in a nod of agreement; and I knew the conversation was now complete.

Our routine walk became, once again, a routine walk on a beautiful spring day, but different….I had with me the voices of Spring…

Trust in the perfect time of life’s mysteries……..Feel your wisdom expanding in every cycle….. Move with the power of your passion…. Live in the gift of your wholeness.

I’d say it was a good day.  

Happy Spring!


 “Look deeper into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”  Albert Einstein


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Anatomy of a Long Drive Home

DSC_0492 - Version 2Many traditions remind us that we are the full range of life – not just the parts we like, all the parts.   Love and hate.  Faith and doubt.  Surrender and fight.

Meditating, contemplating, praying connect us with the mystery of the range.  Until life calls us back into the day and we’re fully engaged in its flow.  One minute, we’re frustrated with traffic, the next minute we’re enjoying the warmth of  a friend’s smile.

What happens when rather than lulling us into the day, the range implodes, crashing us head first into tumultuous waves of the dark emotions?  The ones full of energy – that can make or break us?

Little did I know one morning in January that I was about to find out.

The day began like any other day.  I got up, fell into my routine, and left for a late morning appointment.  Perfect.  Afterwards, walking across a light blanket of snow, I got in my car and started home.

It wasn’t long before traffic slowed down, but here, in Atlanta, it doesn’t take snow to slow traffic, so I thought “No big deal” and launched my practiced coping skills.  I found an alternative route, got gas, and visualized myself getting home soon, and safe.

photoFour hours later, into what is normally a 15-20 minute drive, I was still on my way home.    “No big deal,” I thought.  I was flowing evenly within the range.

My inner wisdom reminded me that “All is well” while my mind tracked our progress, counting cars going through each light.  To distract my fidgety body, I played with the buttons on the dashboard.  And my emotions maintained a balanced buffer – ease morphed into frustration, and came back.

Still, “No big deal,” I thought – just normal movement across the range.

Then, as the 7th hour came and went, I had done all I could.  I had told myself stories.  I had sung, breathed, talked, cajoled.  Now, there was only silence.  No place to go.  Nothing to do.  Traffic stopped.

In this suspended time and space, I could no longer pretend that I was in control.  The pace of my life, its movement, was a function of what was going on around me.  No matter what I did, it didn’t matter.

What happens when we feel we are no longer in control of what happens to us?

IMG_0663 - Version 2In this moment, 7+ hours into the drive, with no end in sight, I did not hesitate to wonder.  I dove into the deep end of the range where frustration and anger fueled my desire to do something, anything.

Like the guy in the movie Network, I wanted to open all the windows and scream “I’m madder than hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”  That was soon followed by the idea  of laying on the horn and forging an escape route driving on the sidewalk.  And of course, there were the periodic expletives “*?>@ it, I’m ditching the car and walking home.”

In the midst of it all, the phone rang.  It was my daughter.  “Mom, how are you?  Are you okay?”  I told her the truth.  I wasn’t okay.  I was in a mess and I didn’t know how to get out.  She didn’t try to talk me out of it, or tell me to look at the bright side, she just listened and said “I love you.”

When we hung up, all was quiet within the car.  A deep silence settled through me.  “I have a choice” I whispered.  “I’m a good warrior.  I can fight life and all it brings that I don’t like.”  Silence.

“Or, I can claim it all – the good and the bad.  I can honor my anger as much as I honor my capacity to love.  And, somehow, somewhere I can trust that it is all connected, with a loving, universal wisdom.”  Silence.

At what point do we surrender to a life that doesn’t make sense?  This one particular January day, I did just that.  I let go.

Yes, life is a paradox, with great range – emotional range, experience range, life range.  It’s wonderful being in charge of our life – to do, plan, learn, expand and feel it all.

Yet, within, we know that we are part of a greater, eternal, Oneness, beyond anything our minds can grasp.  We breathe.  The sun comes up and goes down.  And on snowy nights, we’re kept safe in the hearts of those that love us and in the homes of strangers who shelter us.

IMG_0675 - Version 3I must say, much about this new departure point is still mysterious – equally exhilarating and scary.  The voice deep within the silence reminds me to trust the connection to what I cannot see.  And, many days, my physical being is not quite convinced and reminds me that I am well-practiced at making things happen.

Guess that’s the beauty of the range – I’m all of it.

“Night cancels the business of day.  Then the day cancels the night.   Opposites manifest through opposites:  in the black core of the heart God created the eternal light of love.”  Rumi.

Thanks for reading.


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