twinkling christmas lights 2017

Raleigh / Triangle Christmas Lights

What better way to focus on the moment than to check out twinkly lights, the real-life manifestation of the holiday spirit in the Triangle? I’ve updated my Christmas Light map for 2017, and am revising it as we visit some of our favorite lights. I am a bit of a scrooge with my own decorations but from Santa holograms and radio stations to blow ups and reindeer, each house gives me delight.

Legend: Purple are those that have been added or confirmed since last year. Music notes have synchronized music. Some unconfirmed blue or green, remained on map from previous years. Stars are our favorites!

the skeleton woman

Currently I am slowly savoring the book Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. It is a quite long and philosophical book that discusses some stories and myths about the Wild Woman archetype. Beyond the typical rescued-by-a-prince fairytales, these tales teach us through oral history how to nourish our souls and feed the important wild woman spirit within us.

One such story is the Inuit tale of the skeleton woman, which is set to animation here, and I summarize the story below.

A woman is tossed into the sea by her cruel father and her flesh rots away leaving only her bones. Many years later a fisherman snares her, and expecting a huge fish, is shocked and frightened to uncover a skeleton. He flees to the safety of his cave but she is tangled in the line and appears to be chasing him. When he returns to his cave, the light hits her skeleton just so and she seems pitiful rather than scary. He pities her and untangles her from the lines and shows her care. He then falls asleep. During his sleep, a tear drips from his eye. She tastes the tear and her thirst is quenched. She takes out his heart and beats the drum of his heart, gaining energy with which she can sing and rebuild her flesh. She lies next to him and they awake twined together as lovers. It’s said that they lived on and were well-fed by all the creatures she befriended in the sea during her time there.

When we have been cast aside and disposed of, whether it be due to our own actions or due to a person or group not cherishing our value, we die inside. We wait to be reborn, and but a tiny tear can reawaken the hungry heart, even after those many years spent neglected deep within the sea. In order to move forward to the next chapter, sometimes things have to die. Jobs, relationships, people, even parts of ourselves. Everything we experience is part of a cycle of death and rebirth that, as women, we uniquely understand, as beings that can bring life, ourselves.

Estes suggests that as the fisherman sleeps his innocence returns and he is able to trust the woman, feeding her. That we need to re-enter a state of wary innocence each day, not casting it aside “with the coverlet” as we awake in the morning.

“The state of wise innocence is entered by shedding cynicism and protectionism and reentering the state of wonder one sees in most humans who are very young and many who are very old. It is a practice of looking through the eyes of a knowing and loving spirit, instead of through those of the whipped dog…the angry wounded human.”

I take many lessons from each of these stories. But for today I think about things dying in their time to be replaced and renewed as the time comes. And letting myself be warily innocent – not the naïve fool I once was, out of necessity and lack of experience. The skeleton woman who has been cast aside and sees rebirth ahead.

all i want for christmas

Shopping can tend to get exhausting and feel at times unimaginative. I think sometimes having to come up with creative gift ideas for everyone all at the same time can lead to being overwhelmed and also feeling like you are contributing to the culture of consumption. What are some gifts that the ladies in my life could really use and appreciate?

Salt scrub, soft PJs, and early release

This kit not only includes some ingredients for soft skin and the cuddly clothing to enjoy it, it comes with permission to leave work early so that you can sit alone in a big tub and soak without anyone asking what’s for dinner.

completed honey-do list

You have so carefully assembled a list of things that you want your spouse to do around the home. Both because you care about the home environment and because you don’t want to nor can you do them yourself. This list does not take into account whether your spouse wants to or can do any of the items on it. This gift includes satisfying checkmarks next to each item, and the feeling of a list well-done. Does not require you to ooh and aah over the completed work appreciatively.

credit for your idea

Who needs another candle or funny set of post-it notes when all she really wants is acknowledgement? That idea that we agreed was really great after Michael said it was just as great when she said it first. It was so great that we named the project the Mathilda project, after her.

bitch card

bitch card

We spend so much time trying to convince everyone that we aren’t bitches, but I wouldn’t mind a chance to let the bitch flag fly, at least once per month. Since, on average, my bitchy moods take up at least 25% of my waking life, I would love to delegate a 24 hour no-holds-barred mean girls bitch-fest. A chance to wallow in envy, self-pity, rage, and unapologetic comparative judgement. A day where it’s ok to be flying high and full of sunshine and immediately switch into total medusa mode after the tiniest perceived slight. The bitch card comes wrapped inside a full box of munchkins for the feelings-stuffing comedown phase.



For the socially-connected gal, this season get her what she’s always wanted. Her social feeds automatically unfollow everyone, and instead her feed is flooded with positive reinforcement about her life choices. Everything she has posted to date will be responded to with appropriately positive and inspiring comments, likes, hearts, and well-thought-out responses. Just as if her spirit animal and matrilineal ancestors all materialized to provide support and spiritual guidance. Most of the feedback is positive, although some of it includes important warnings about red flag people and situations that may be about to enter her life.

I would love to provide you with these and other such amazing gifts this season, my pretties. But I am too busy taking care of myself to provide you with these self-care boxes. I encourage you to treat yourself!

Care of the Soul

I recently finished reading what can be described as an instruction manual for the care of the soul. The author argues convincingly that we have focused for far too long on the physical and scientific aspects of caring for ourselves and have neglected our souls. From doctors and prescriptions to productivity gurus and psychologists, all of these experts have essentially short-changed us by focusing on problems and solutions and not spending time discussing the deeper meaning to those things that ail us and our cultures.

When we relate to our bodies as having soul, we attend to their beauty, their poetry and their expressiveness. Our very habit of treating the body as a machine, whose muscles are like pulleys and its organs engines, forces its poetry underground, so that we experience the body as an instrument and see its poetics only in illness.

Living our daily life is an art whose aim is not to avoid suffering but simply to live that life itself. Focusing on accomplishing as much as possible, making as much money as possible, minimizing our discomfort and achieving great heights of power do not bring that sense of satisfaction. We get that (we are told) by developing an understanding of ourselves, seeking spiritual succor through history, ritual, self acceptance and awareness.

We remain consistently captivated and distracted by those things that seem instantly comforting. But turning away and giving the soul it’s time and space may be what’s needed to stay seated within the base of our own power. When we distract ourselves, treat our soul’s cries with remedies rather than redemption, we lie to ourselves.

Thomas Moore continues,

One day I would like to make up my own DSM-111 with a list of “disorders” I have seen in my practice. For example, I would want to include the diagnosis “psychological modernism,” an uncritical acceptance of the values of the modern world. It includes blind faith in technology, inordinate attachment to material gadgets and conveniences, uncritical acceptance of the march of scientific progress, devotion to the electronic media, and a life-style dictated by advertising.

He shares in detail too long to explain here how to orchestrate our soul’s escape from the prison of postmodern life. I found the book inspiring with examples from myth and art on how to keep cultivating sacredness and depth.


Cuddle feet :)A few hours after Thanksgiving dinner, after the period where we went around the table and shared some things that we were all thankful for, an insight emerged. Various family members splayed across couches, feeling comforted by each others’ presence and lazy but happy under the influence of turkey’s tryptophan.

My son said, “You know what’s the best feeling in the world?”

I looked over at his adorable face, fully expecting to hear something sweet about relaxing under cozy blankies with one’s family…

“The feeling when you poop.”

After copious amounts of laughter, I thought – sure! I mean, most of the time, that’s a great feeling! Often it is not, if you inherit my temperamental digestive system.  But let’s list some of our favorite things about pooping:

  • Instant de-bloat
  • A (sometimes) relaxing moment to yourself
  • The joy of perfectly thick toilet paper with ridges, which we spring for
  • A personal detox ritual that doesn’t involve vegetable juice and cayenne pepper
  • Being the first one to sit on the freshly cleaned toilet in the morning (you can tell because the seat is in the up position)
  • Evidence that you are still alive, and that it’s all coming out ok