Just Before

In the stages of labor, Transition comes in the moments just before the new life begins to press its way out, to squeeze its greatness from the womb.

Sitting on the backyard porch, I listen to the birds. They weave a medley over my head, from telephone wire, to palm, to merry bougainvillea. The squirrels along the wood fence behave as though something is about to happen. I watch the sky move across the pool and wonder.

Transition marks some of labor’s most intense pain, for the one birthing can only breathe, release and surrender as the force of new life stretches the final sinews, creating the space it requires to arrive.

I step down by the pool and sit on the end of the mat. I breathe and stretch, lean into each position. I allow myself to think…of myself. Not the children, or Todd, or work, or loved ones, or needed tasks. Immediately I cry. There seems so little to consider when the thoughts contain only myself. Have I forgotten all I struggled to learn about the essence of me? I breathe, stretch, cry. I wonder if the world is flat. I breathe.

The new life crowns, and can be seen for moments before retreating in a pattern that seems devoid of progress. Pushing to hurry the Transition only impedes the birth.

Face down, arms outstretched beside the pool, the visceral memories of childbirth Transitions surprise me like a metaphor. I feel the brush of Spirit over my body and remember that if I push this new life—whatever it may be—before its time, I will thwart that for which I long. Waiting and trusting make me frightened, but with four births as my memory, I reach in hope for things unseen.

By its nature, Transition reveals a world between: between then and now; between old and new; between heaven and earth. Transition claims us, demands we trust that the birth will come, that the new life will appear.

Back on the porch wicker, I squint my eyes, the image of tomorrow like an old Polaroid slowly developing in my hand. Today I see only dimly, but the Spirit, like a good midwife, has whispered in my ear that I am in Transition, that all of this is not a march toward death, but the press of new life coming.

Though almost brutal in its incessant press to will us to wait with hope, the force of Transition is, in itself, the new life’s promise that the end of yesterday has come and the reality of the future is near.


Mother’s Day

One slow Sunday morning

of feigned sleep each May,

my children banged about

the kitchen preparing

“breakfast in bed for Mommy,”

their daddy playing line-leader

in a parade of plates.


Yesterday – nearly grown – they

owned this small tradition,

lined four wide beside my bed,

beamed like children.

Plates of cheese eggs,

fried potatoes, toast, berries,

coffee with cream

paraded in with pride.

I sipped, tasted, tried

to keep my heart contained,

but the sun shone on their faces


eager as before. I see them still

piled beside, a mix of pillows,

elbows, knees; we

talked and laughed,

I shared my berries,

memorized the view.


2nd Place in 1st “Flash Fiction Slam”

flash slamso i got all the way to the final round of my very first “flash fiction slam!” Won 2nd place, met some great new literary peeps, sold some books, passed out some cards and talked up my new novella Lily Harp, coming out in June! sweet night. kudos to Patrick Greene and the Gallery at Avalon for hosting…and to J. Bradley and his “There Will Be Words” reading series for running the “slam.”

Working on a “Book Trailer”

images Going to try my hand at creating a “book trailer” — most of you know I love creating video “medleys” of family gatherings…so I will try this here. We will see if my indy press will let me “release” it! Ha. They have fantastic taste and would never let me put something out that might distract from the real work of Lily Harp, my Florida mangrove novella. Stay Tuned…(that’s what my publisher always says)

Help a Young Artist!

…who happens to be my daughter.

Our girl Olivia Lynn Barton is working to get into Berklee School of Music in Boston next year & snatch up both a vocal performance and songwriter scholarship if she can manage it…otherwise we simply can’t afford it.

So, this is a shameless ASK to those of you who love my artistry…check out my daughter’s. Her latest original song “Fuel or Fire” is especially good. We are trying to get as many “follows” as possible in the next 4 weeks on her SoundCloud…Berklee WILL look there and they WILL notice!

You can make a difference. I believe it. Please go, listen, like, follow, comment, share…




Upon The Red Balloons

in Mary Janes

she stands

one hand of balloons

between cracks

dandelions grow

in shiny shoes she

sees herself let go

red balloons rise


leave her body for sky


their dance

in her hand

she stands



Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Sidesaddle in a stuffed chair I sit, feet tucked.

Sipping coffee, I stare at our tree as if it’s a stranger. Strings of white lights, green branches, childhood adornments suddenly blur through the lens of tears.

A tinfoil star, a gold macaroni tree, a painted partridge too big for its branch, a handprint angel all dangle, but where are the tiny hands, sticky with glue that handed me those treasures with pride? The same hands who followed me, waving ribbons on sticks in a Palm Sunday parade; the hands and feet that danced to Billy Joel in the living room; the quad of voices that sang along with Barney and the Hansen Brothers with equal fervor; the gaggle of kids who ran up and down our road at every dusk, climbed trees, made mud pies at the driveway’s end. The babes I carried, birthed, nursed, tucked into bed, read and sang to; the kids who tumbled into the minivan like puppies leaving a colossal mess of dirty dishes, spilled toys and a topsy-turvy blanket-fort to run away to the freedom of the park with a canvas tote filled with fishy crackers, sippy cups, and apple juice.

My blurry lens reaches its tipping point and spills onto my cheeks as I greedily hunt this latest Christmas for more remnants…more popsicle sticks, framed school faces, construction paper nativities. My coffee grows cold as I fall into the hole that is the loss of the life I loved so dearly; the days and days and days where I was held, needed, adored.

I unfold my legs, stand and inhale, run the back of my hand across my face and step into the early morning darkness of the kitchen for a glass of water. As I pour it I am shaken by the corniest metaphor imaginable…a half-glass of water. The tree glows behind me and yet I see it still, know it lives with all we’ve been. The moment stops. I have never been a half-empty person.

And so, with my half-full glass I return to the tree, perch in the chair and stare. On its branches my eyes find the same gold macaroni, tin foil, and tiny hands that a moment ago brought pain, but a new washing floods through the loss that has grieved my heart for days; a slow river of spirit leaves gratefulness in its wake. I have been richly blessed. My life holds much, its mamma story written on the lines of the branches. My nest is not empty, but full. Filled now with different needs, I suppose, except the need is only one: to love and be loved.

The rushing waters erode the final layer of fear: I did not cease with little league games and ballet recitals. I am still the woman reflected in the hands of the children and family traditions that sparkle on this year’s eight-foot fir.  I am the mamma who listens, who encourages each child into self, ministers without measure. My brood may have moved from mud pies to mature matters, but I am the same park-going-ribbon-dancing-mud-pie-making imaginative mamma and there is no way my glass can ever be anything other than overflowing with love.

I’m a Yaya!


unbelievable feeling…crazy experience…blessed position…awed by god above in the intricacies and specificities and personal touch of his enormous spirit. wild love. grand hope. pulsing life. radiating out and out and out and out….can you feel it?

Locally Grown Words Book Fair…with ME!


COME support local words & buy some Christmas presents @BOOKMARKIT !

Join us for the “Locally Grown Words” book fair–and look for my table at the East End Market…

Copies of my new poetry chapbook Like Summer Grass from Finishing Line Press will be for sale as well as copies of my previous book from WordFarm Press, Surviving Nashville: Short Stories. Plus I can tell you how to get the kindle version of my short story collection and I promise to be ready to spill all the latest “dirt” on my upcoming novella, Lily Harp & Stories, due out through WordFarm Press at the AWP conference in Minneapolis in April.

Come enjoy the local scene as authors chat about words, sign and sell their books, and generally create a sly ruckus at the fabulous independent bookstore Bookmark it at the East End Market  on Corrine Drive in Orlando.

Join us if you can…if only to keep me from looking like an unimpressive, unpopular, literary dork.


LSG with shadowsurviving nashvilleimage2

bless you lisa

there are moments in life, when, if you choose, you may step into something greater than you had imagined.

i had such an experience today. my friend lisa curtis at massageworkz in winter garden…took me in. and i do mean “took me in.” Lisa has an unbelievable gift, a honed skill and a gracious practice of helping people release, unblock, open and actualize their life force, their body’s energy in such a way that they…that i…am able to step more fully into who i am.

i am not certain i could explain today’s experience except that after some very intense work – from both lisa and i – i was filled with the sense that i was not broken, but merely faced with the opportunity to step into the magnificent capacity that i was given at birth.

being someone so easily overcome with a sense of brokenness, hopelessness and shame…this came as a brilliant light. by the end of our session i was tingling, sweating, and absolutely full of thrilling, circling, energy running through my nearly dead-with-depression body, surging my gigantic heart to hope and action.

if you, like me, wrestle with matters of the spirit, the soul, the heart…if you ever feel taken under, overwhelmed or disheartened to the point of despair…please call lisa (407) 810-1804. she is an angel in human form.