Pain and stoicism; loneliness and longing. This is how I describe you. Within these walls of “comfort” you built was ever there an eye to see and know you, a heart to understand all you felt and feared? The deepest parts of you threaten to burrow into the healed crevices of me and I ache for your emptiness.

Wrapping into self so tightly is a false cocoon of safety. The walls you mathematically built around your fears don’t protect what you think they do. I know; I lived in your space once and thought I was safe inside my concrete fortress, but it was a shell of an existence.

What happened, so long ago, that was fierce enough to shut out your light; make you feel as though you had to bite and tear and lash out at every part of a graceful life? Was there once a brightness and lightness in you that made you feel happy? Did you ever smile a genuine smile or laugh for the sheer joy of laughing? How did I become me despite being raised by you?

I’ve wanted to ask you these questions for the longest time. Recently, my curiosity piqued because I thought I had finally figured out some of the pieces of the puzzle that comprised you. And then, before I had mustered up the courage to try and learn you; to try and know you somehow; you had less than a month left to live, and I found myself flying across the country to care for you in your final weeks and days.

We had not spoken in nearly two years; still, you were more concerned with proving yourself to me than allowing yourself to be vulnerable or accept love of the purest kind. It was never easy or natural or normal – the relationship between you and me. It just kind of wasn’t… at all. How, then, do you say goodbye? How do you survive days and weeks of caring for someone you don’t particularly like while maintaining your sanity?

I don’t know how to feel about my feelings. Mostly I don’t feel at all when it comes to you. And then I feel bad about my indifference. That foundation of openness and trust; of mother/daughter specialness, was something you never wanted until I was an adult. But you cannot build upon something you have not yet erected. And I had no foundation with you; no desire for you; nothing upon which to build and grow and learn and love. So you and I remained stagnant in our false relationship while I raised children of my own and learned what it meant to be a mom.

The first twenty-four hours are sort of not completely awful and somewhat tolerable. You are determined to love this human being, flaws and all, as best you can through her remaining days. You kind of thought she was on the same page, but she can’t love you back; she simply does not know how. So you set your brain to survival mode; to the most primal of human needs. You work with the calendar that is uncertain with stage four cancer and live what is; you pack up your shit and fly across the country and live out of plastic bags for weeks because you care as a human, even though you do not know her at all as a daughter. Maybe you silently hope for something more from her; an epiphany to come with the knowledge that these are her final days on earth. You grasp at any glimmer of a real human beneath the facade.

The glimmer never materializes despite your best efforts to elicit. Instead, you get 24/7 servings of everything you hated about your life with her; the existence you ran from the moment you were able to make it on your own. You become convinced that you cannot make it through this. You have self-diagnosed panic attacks, difficulty breathing, and cannot sleep because nothing about your current life resembles normal, and you don’t even know in which bed or house you will seek respite on any given eve.

She is dying and paranoid and taking it out on you. You’re told by the professionals that these are the behaviors commensurate with someone knowing they are dying; unfortunately, though, they are also her core personality traits and you have a hard time discerning which is what. You hate them all regardless of their affiliation because they all just fucking hurt. You figure out how to function solely on autopilot so you don’t completely lose your shit amid the shit storm that is your present existence, and you realize you are losing a piece of your soul with each dagger she slings. But you smile and press on, somehow, garnering the strength of the real-life angels in your presence.

You end up needing to completely detach self from yourself because you no longer exist. You become dubbed a member of the micro-managing care team who has “great ideas” but they are not valid ideas, because “there are too many cooks in the kitchen” and she is the head chef. You sit for hours while she counts out each of her medicines for a twenty-four-hour period and laboriously places each one in a capsule that becomes increasingly harder for her to maneuver. You have learned by day four, though, to shut your mouth unless you want the process to continue for an additional hour because she felt she lost control and needed to reassert it. You become a shell of a human being, just like her.

You cry, occasionally, but the tears are displaced, and you don’t know whether they are for her, or you, or the relationship that never was.

And finally, it ends, after you have endured more hurt than you thought you were capable of enduring. You have no idea who you, as an individual, are any longer. And then you realize that you’ll never have to feel her projected disdain again.

And you breathe a sigh of relief.

It is finally fucking over.

And you are still standing. You are still standing. You are going to be ok.

#nonbinary #parenting #love

My child identifies as non-binary. I don’t know how long they have identified this way, but they told me about seven months ago. Sometimes they correct me when I use she, and sometimes they don’t, and sometimes I catch myself mid sh and switch to they. Luckily for me as a parent, my child is gentle with my misspeaks and oft-twisted tongue as I progress along the learning curve of learning them.

Parenting offers us a plethora of second-hand life experiences. I am sure my brain would be void of half the knowledge that now fills its crevices had I not signed up for this parenting gig. And who knows if I would have had the opportunity to live with and breathe the same air as one writing their own #identity and #individuality had this morsel of #perfection not been gifted to me some fifteen years ago.

As a musing parent so many things seem clear in retrospect. A-ha! moments cascade in pictures on replay through my mind, and allow me to make connections that scream everything real and true about this #creationinaction. I want to pick the brain of said child and see how much they remember about their everyday life – a life in which each moment they were them. I don’t need to connect any dots or find any understanding; I just want to know this human sunflower on a deeper level.

Have you ever seen a 12 week old fetus-in-utero throw up a high-five on a sonogram? I have; it was this child when I was sure I was having a miscarriage. Their uniqueness began with that gesture and has not once waned. They have never fit a mold of any type; rather, they have designed life to suit their preferences. This one refused to suck as a newborn and instead lounged lazily whilst being fed with a syringe. This one spoke English and signed ASL in three- and four-word sentences before the age of one. This child came to me with their own plans for everything, and I have spent the last 15 years simply trying to catch up with their blueprint for life. (Which is and has always been VERY specific).

I’ve always known that this piece of my heart and soul was special and unique and destined for great things – things that I could not even begin to fathom as just an average human being – but still with each new expression of themself – I find myself, again, in awe. How do 15 short years of life fill one with more knowing of and unwavering conviction in self than I have managed to muster up in 50+ years?

Keeping in line with keeping me on my mental toes, said AP, compacted math, tutoring-peers-since-fourth-grade-I-do-it-my-way child bulldozed me tonight with their ubiquitous uniqueness whilst writing an AP essay on the current political situation in the U.S.:

Mama, who was that dude who wrote the, what was it called…Declaration of Independence again???

Thanks, Trump, for providing the necessary fodder for a literary allusion. Thanks, Sunflower, for providing the necessary fodder for a life full of smiles, laughter, and sheer amazement at what is humanly possible.

I love you more, and I call no regrets.

how do you spell WEDNESDAY?

My daughter decided today that she wants to have a party, at our house, next Wednesday. For her whole class. That meant, of course, that she had to start making invitations this morning when she was really supposed to be preparing herself to be school bound. There are plenty of little tidbits to talk about here, aside from the fact that we’re not having a party and I’m afraid to tell her.

While she is supposed to be putting her lunch box in her backpack she is stuffing crayons and note papers in her kindergarten hands. You see, she’s going to make the invitations on the way to school. Our drive to school is roughly 3 minutes give or take 20 seconds, but again…do I want to argue about this?  Not so much it turns out. Part of me is avoiding any sort of Monday morning meltdown, and the other part of me just cannot wait to see what she is going to come up with. Her invitation paper of choice is about 1.5 x 2 inches, and she is a new and chubby handed writer…so she is lucky to get more than two unconventionally written words on a slip of paper; thus each invitation to a party that we are not having next “Wasay” requires approximately 5 sheets of said note paper.

Seeing as how when I picked her up from school today she promptly resumed invitation making, I had to have a plan a bit more effective than avoidance of the party. Sis, you spell it w-e-d-n-e-s-d-a-y and, by the way, how many syllables is that? Two mama. Right, but sis we are not having a party next Wednesday.  Or the Wednesday after that. Or likely not any Wednesday. At this house. With your class. And me. So… I know, how about if you make them all cards that you can pass out, and we can put them in cute envelopes? Nope, really want to have a party mom.  Shoot…when is your birthday?  F-e-b-r-u-a-r-y? That is when we will have a party! Mom, how do you spell Wednesday again?  Is it w-a-s-a-y?  The way I see it, I have a few options with my answer. If I say yes, I am encouraging her efforts while also ensuring nobody will be able to decipher the invitation and mistakenly show up at my house next Wasay when we are not having a party. If I correct her spelling I am making the invitation to a party that we are not having that much more clear. Do quick calculations and surmise that size of note paper times size of attempted letters has potential to equal at least 3 sheets of paper to write w-e-d-n-e-s-d-a-y. I can enhance spelling and have an un-party at the same time!

At some point in the evening, she retires from invitation making and starts reading from the book of old (her words, not mine). Book of old, in real people language, is the dictionary/thesaurus. She has taken to “reading” it, spouting out directions (which sound more like orders) which she admonishes anyone listening to follow. I don’t know why it is regarded as the book of old but I can’t even ask because I like having a book of old in my house. 

And the book of old says it’s time for bed.   


out-smarting the conveyor belt

I used to think life held some great destination that I was going to arrive at one day and have it all figured out. I had a mental list of things that needed to be checked off and then somehow I was going to stop growing. Because I had gotten there. Or something weird like that. I don’t even know that girl anymore.

I am so aware of the journey now and cannot even visualize a destination, because that would be limiting myself from so many possibilities. I am cognizant of what I am passionate about yet believe there are a plethora of other things and experiences I don’t know I am in love with because I haven’t yet been exposed.  And if I was only on board for the destination I wouldn’t be living the journey. And how do you ever realize your true loves if you don’t constantly have your eyes open to what you might encounter on your path?

I am amazed that I spent so many years trying to get there, but didn’t ever really know where I was going. My journey was more of a transport via conveyor belt through a tunnel with ten demerits for opening your eyes or asking questions. I’m not so concerned with how I got dead-bolted to the conveyor belt in the first place, but rather with how I took a free-fall off of it, with eyes wide open, and realized the journey was up to me.

Truth is, I cannot even ride those airport conveyor belts any longer because they take too much of the control away from me; how slowly or quickly I choose to pace myself, or what I want to pause and take in along the way. I had my eyes fastened shut for so many years I don’t think I even realized what I was not living.

I find myself overflowing with gratitude for my life. I am living the life I choose to live. And I get it now. That in itself is a celebration.


love > markers

O lover of sweet treats and markers; I am a lover of you. Even with your guilty face and conniving ways my heart is sold to “and when I get back in here let me see all the colors laid out and ready for me” and “when I put this broom away I will take some money and a sweet treat” and “wow, so you’re doing the outlining first right mama? I bet I could outline better with those markers” and then there’s the (in whiny voice-at breakfast time) “but I just can’t think of anything to eat other than a cookie..that’s the only choice in my brain”.  She is a sugar coated, double dipped, ride-your-bike-to-7-11-and-spend-all-of-your-allowance on candy-coated me.  

I purchased some new supplies this week for a project on which I am working, and you-know-who couldn’t wait to get her paws all touching everything. I said no. No wrecking my markers. You have 4 cup-fulls of them that I have so nicely organized for you, and those you shall use.  Well…I made it through family art session numero uno with my markers and paper both in my possession. With fine tips and miss scribble-scrabble not being such good bedfellows I am reluctant to say mi palette es su palette.

Tonight is night two of family art and she has, I’m pretty sure, been thinking about how to get those markers in her hand since family art session number one. And then, from the looks of it, she has been through law school already and I am no match for her arguments. Or candy-coated cuteness. But I do experience great laughter and joy, and think even she is starting to get herself. So, we are all working on our stuff, in their room, with the new lamp that nearly took out my right arm (and, unfortunately, left me looking like a cutter). And really, I guess it’s my fault, because I asked for her artistic input on my project. And guess what? It could only be added, you might guess, with MY markers.  Markers = 17.99.  True Love > everything else.

Sure sis, you can use these but be gentle with them.  And then miss bossy pants arrives on the scene. You can feel the glow of accomplishment and marker-love exude from her every pore. I think this marker score may have trumped candy and sweet treat love. She begins with admiring her new accomplishment.  Then starts bossing me about whose turn it is and what color we are going to use. Then comes the “turn the markers my way when it is my turn and I will turn it your way when it is your turn”. There is a lot of Quinn-loves-Quinn talk to herself about the markers. There are a few little prayers of some sort. There is a big-ol’-smile and an “I need my hair in a pony so I can concentrate” request (demand really, but I’m okay with it). And before anyone can scream out “I Love Sugar” she has full control of both my marker set and my sketch book.  

And my heart. Always and forever my heart. Sugar-coated-candy-lovin’-sweet-treat-i-only-want-cookies-for-breakfast-can-i-use-your-markers-where’s-my-money kind of love. And I love it when you pick me up mama.  Is your back better? I don’t care baby, I love you. Let me carry you to bed.


melting into me

Does too much to say make the saying harder to come by? Have you consigned your will to create with the words that entice you or are they challenging you to do more and better, forcing you to feel deeper and stronger? You don’t know how to write yourself out of what you have fallen into so you simply stop writing because, maybe, if you don’t write then you don’t feel each moment as though it has permeated your soul.

You could fastidiously gather the words you love and compile them to write your story, punctiliously fashioning each chapter. But through trial and error you have learned that designing the chapters is not nearly as exciting as letting the chapters bring you to life. So you have an experience and define what it means to you; minute by minute, day by day, month by month, and you take pause with each temptation to formulate the words that will make perfect your sermon to self. Trusting and living with intention provides words abundant with which you can tell your story. 

The words that are so much a part of you are simultaneously screaming to speak and begging silence. There are lessons learned you want to share; perhaps in hopes of precluding collective travels down the same path you have found to be lackluster by comparison. You are learning to welcome love and pain, to let raw emotion consume you as it provides the truest form of living you have experienced. You have feelings so intense that they threaten the pillars of strength you have built, brick by brick, which ground you. And as each step and misstep petitions for grace as it dissolves into your melting pot of growth, you see your authentic self with increasing clarity. 

There are so many questions but you don’t know where to begin. What path led you to this leg of the journey; which choice or un-choice to this outcome. And as you think about your life and attempt orderliness of the pictures and flashbacks, of the note cards and summaries and dissertations, your omniscient core knows that the questions are not yours to have, to beg, to postulate. Journeys happen and they take you where they may and you tiptoe, run, walk and sometimes crawl as best you can in the moment. 

Meanings are myriad depending on what you choose to believe in that moment and from that experience; to where you let it guide you, to what ensuing experience you let it lead. Life has many serendipitous happenings if your mind is open to receiving them. The relational nature of life becomes vivid when you seize what presents itself along the journey. Open-minded living is joyous because the surprise of the next serendipitous moment is looming… another opportunity to make a connection on your journey of here and now. 

Life is education on your terms: you hold the power to decide how you will let each opportunity color, change, mold and improve you. Life is an auspicious exploration of self; an offer to learn, grow and attempt to understand you. One day at a time. And one day at a time really means one moment at a time, one experience and then another to form an existence, to create a story, to live a life. 

Be in love with you. Be in love with life. Be.

lotta sorta kinda

Lot of tired
Lot of 2nd grade crying followed by
Lot of lecturing on when crying is and is not effective and acknowledged
With examples…
Lot of great homework
Lot of togetherness
Lot of flag football lovin’
Little of mom actually playing football
Lot of praise on my skills (throwing not catching, just to be clear he says)
Lot of screams from the pig upstairs
Lot of ignoring of the pig by its owner
Little to a lot of lecturing on caring for pets
Lot of asking for more pets
LOT of NO to that
Lot of coloring
Lot of awesome breakfast’s (if I do say so myself) 
Lot of reading in mom’s bed
Lot of trying to stay and sleep in mom’s bed
LOT of NO to that
Marginal bed infiltration, accepted, kissed and hugged
Lot of explaining this was a one night gig to strawberry haired underpants stealing girlfriend
Marginal accidental swearing not really at (well sorta) but in the general vicinity of rule following man-child all up in my space
Which begets
Lot of pouting
Lot of talking about rules 
Lot of apologizing for being human
Lot of explaining that I am, indeed human and not an endless vat of smiles and patience
Lot of forgiveness
Lot of love
Lot of gratitude
Lot of amazement
Lot of work, but
Lot of everything life is meant to be

And I am human, damn-it (insert smile here)

outside in

You, my child.

You are before me with eyes wide open and I search myself for what it means to raise you. Love over contempt, action over apathy, acceptance over fear. We teach by example, you and I; learning through each day we are allowed another opportunity.

I and you –  anger and retract, push and apologize, cry and try harder. I see me in you – the good and the bad – and am too hard on you when I see pieces of myself that I wish not to see.

You act and I learn, you fear and I understand, you hurt and I die a thousand lives in one moment while I hold you with voice strong and embrace stronger. Together we hold hands that at times are hard to extend when we are at our most vulnerable existence.

We are beauty in that we are. And then there is you, and you.  Individual and exquisitely you and I love with admiration deep and mind altering.  

And when I think I have seen the most beautiful creatures on earth I am afforded the opportunity to view you through the looking-glass of another. And I am in awe. Always in awe of you but the view from outside in is truly breath-taking.


it is


most definitely,


who is


even to,


still, you have

desire. of. none.

for me…

not the me, of now, for

she – in all of her


is a trigger.  that.

ignites within…

you (she hates that).

we have taken the

worst, of


to display in all

ways, to


you, and me,





blindsided, with eyes-wide

open… and,


mentor me tomorrow or always

I have been remiss in my writing.  I have no excuse other than one that is fabulous:  I have too many passions.  I am and have been trying my gosh-darndest to devote equal love to each on a daily basis but I am, as I have always been, a work in progress.

I could spend each moment of my existence happily floating amongst the freedom of art.  Creativity in motion.  In fact, I am working quite harder than is visible to the human eye (other than my own two which, coincidentally cannot see all that well) to propel my visions into reality.

And the reality is this.

I am 100% passionate about the following things:

-Spending copiuous amounts of time inside my own mind

-Writing and writing and writing my daily thoughts and observations; I have so much I want to share and so little time to put pen to paper to share it

-Each hand-written journal of quotes that I create; especially those designed for a specific person

-Every ancillary project that I have in the works under The Winking Phoenix

-Books I want to publish – forever wishing for more chunks of time in my day to free-flow my mental file cabinets

-Being the most loving, listening, kind, giving, compassionate wife, mama and general human being I can be each day

And, I am 100% committed to the  following things:

-Being the most loving, listening, kind, giving, compassionate wife, mama, and general human being I can be each day

-Being a better version of myself tomorrow than I was yesterday

-Offering the best of me to all I encounter, and absolutely to my husband and children on a daily basis

-Freeflowing my groove on a continuum that makes it all come together with some semblance of grace

So, with all that out of the way, I will enter into what propelled me from one creative endeavor to another:  What is a mentor? 

And you know I have a ton to both share and ponder.  And it was witnessing a mentor-in-action tonight that really got me thinking about the concept of mentoring, and what a true mentor does for others – and I am really excited to talk about it.

Stay tuned for my next post which promises to explore the many facets of mentoring.  I am tempted to start now (that passion thing is a killer)…but I am exhausted and it wouldn’t be as good as it could be for any of us…so after some much needed sleep I shall make my way back to these pages :-).