What do I want? I want a fan club.

The other day I was driving home from work, exhausted and hungry and I had a rogue thought.  “I need a man.”  I call this a rogue thought because I am quite at home with singleness and independence. What did I really want? The comforts of home?  A hot meal waiting?  A foot rub?  Something to relax me and take my mind off the day?  Perhaps some  intelligent conversation?  Ah, maybe some affirmation and acknowledgement for all my hard work.

I have a single friend who, growing desperate, has been known to lament, “I just want to be taken care of.”  I discussed this with my cousin, a woman happily married forty years.  We looked at each other askance. No, we do not just want to be taken care of.  We are doers. We like to do things our way.  We love the exhilaration of plotting, planning and executing. 

Truth is, after 40 plus years as an adult, I am very aware that all the comforts save one are readily available for lawful purchase, with or without a man. There is only one that requires a man. Even then, it is doubtful physical intimacy would satisfy while other basic needs remain neglected. 

If I had a man, would there be a hot meal waiting?  A foot rub? Companionship to take away the cares of the day and encourage me?  Some affirmation and acknowledgement of my efforts at the office? Resounding applause? 

Nah!  I don’t need a man.  I need a fan club.


To Say I’m Sorry

It is no exaggeration to say I have been on both extremes of the pendulum when it comes to saying, I’m sorry.  If the pendulum swings in an arc, I have been on the outer reaches of all 360 degrees of the circumference.

As a  child, it was extreme emotional punishment to be made to say I’m sorry.  It made me squirm. Sorry for what?  For things I didn’t do; but somebody got their feelings hurt and demanded retribution. Resistance was futile.

“Do you want a spanking?  Then say you’re sorry and be quick about it.”

What’s a child to do?  You hang your head, all the time feeling only the injustice of it. You mutter out, “I’m sorry.”

But was I really sorry?  No.  I needed to escape that squirmy feeling. I was sorry I had to yield to someone else’s petty demands.

Sometimes the dialogue goes this way:

Me:  “I’m sorry.”

The Offended: “Are you really sorry? Cause if you are truly sorry, you won’t ever do it again.”

Won’t do what again?  Hurt your feelings or offend unwittingly?

As I grew into the relationships of young adulthood, I learned to use I’m sorry as a tool, to say it quickly and often; to assume ownership of infractions that were not mine.

But it came with a price; loss of myself. Not only did the words I’m sorry accept the blame for whatever disagreement was immediately at hand; I’m sorry continued to mean I will never do it again.  I will never cross you again.  I will never disagree with you. I will try my utmost to second-guess what you want so that I never displease you. To say I’m sorry inevitably meant; I was wrong.

Even now, in an attempt to people-please, I catch myself indulging in the false humility I’m sorry. This is the one that comes across as obsequious, submissive, I wouldn’t want to get in your way, but I just did. A better word-choice would be, excuse me or pardon me.

Other “I’m Sorrys,” crossed my path. There were times a person close to me needed to be called to account or challenged. At those times, I heard the words, “I’m sorry, ok?” spoken in a tone that indicated, “now get off my back.”  That tone, I think, does not really mean I’m sorry.

Nor does this:

Spouse: I said I’m sorry.  You know how hard it is for me to say I’m sorry.

Response:  So?  The difficulty excuses you and makes the apology count for more?

Once, I heard a man say to his wife, “I said I was sorry.  That means you can’t bring it up ever again.”  Say what?  You can put a moratorium on ever talking about it again by arbitrarily saying, “I’m sorry?”

To this man, “I’m Sorry” is a legal injunction which says, “you can’t expect anything more out of me on this subject.  You can’t bring it up ever again.”

I wonder; did he mean his apology?  Did he ever make amends?

Speaking of spouses and relationships, I can hear the music now:

“Love means you never have to say you’re sorry

Love means without a word you understand.” 

It sounded comforting from the Sounds of Sunshine, and gorgeously idealistic as it dropped insipidly from the lips of The Lettermen in the seventies. I wanted to love and be loved in that idealistic, magnanimous way. Perhaps John Lennon was the realist here, “Love means saying you’re sorry every fifteen minutes.”

There comes a time when making amends is key. When a person is truly sorry for something they have done; when they are willing to take ownership and make amends; when they voluntarily promise – to the best of their ability – not to hurt again. Especially when a person takes action to make up for the hurt – those times are life-changing, relationship changing and therefore world-changing.

After five plus decades, I am still hesitant to say I am sorry.  Why?  Because the words are so easily misconstrued.

Me: I’m sorry.

(S)he: That’s more like it.  Now we’ll get down to business and do it my way.

Me:  I’m sorry.

(S)he: Well, what are you going to do about it?

Me:  I’m sorry.

(S)he:  You’re just saying that because you didn’t like the results.

Sometimes, there is nothing I can do to fix it, because I didn’t do anything in the first place.

Other times, I am not sorry for what I did; but I am sorry for the hurt to others.  And you know what?  I think you can be sorry without admitting guilt. Truth is, we all have places in our lives where we need or want to say I’m sorry. It has happened before and it will happen again.  At the moment, I am deeply sorry for the pain and relational carnage to bystanders caused by some of my actions. I am not sorry for the actions I took.  I am sorry that others were hurt by the actions I took to protect myself.

These days, when I say I am sorry, it does not mean things can go back to the way they were.  It does not mean I’ll never do it again.  It does not mean I was wrong and we will do it your way.

It means I will never put myself in a position for that to happen again.

A Vow of Silence

Last week, on Novel Matters; a writer’s blog I visit with frequency; the question was asked, “Where do you find quiet?” For me, the answer is simple; I find quiet most often in solitary hikes. 

In keeping with that answer, today I took a ramble down Rough Canyon. The scenery was stunning;  the quiet, deafening (except for the mountain lion in the brush that turned out to be a scrub jay).  My inner being was whispering, “I am listening.  I am listening.”


Along the way, I acknowledged two things:

1) Sometimes you have to go deep into the woods (or the canyon) to find your soul – or God; whichever was lost

2) Over the last few months, without realizing it, I seem to have taken a vow of silence.



Earlier this evening, a couple of friends from a quartet in which I used to sing dropped by.  It was good to see them.  We caught up on bits and pieces of news.  I showed them my favorite clips of Pentatonix.  We shared our mutual love for the transcendence that happens when musicians do music with excellence. And then one of them asked, “what are you singing these days?”

I laughed ruefully and answered, “I think I may have taken a vow of silence.”


Singing is not something I do well alone. Harmony is my favorite part. Besides, I’ve had a couple of uncomfortable experiences lately when my voice failed me.  Once, when I tried to imitate a popular singer for a piano student and the other time when I tried to sing along to my own piano accompaniment at a nursing home. With nine years experience teaching music in the classroom, both these outcomes are out of character. Without realizing it, I entered a self-imposed vow of silence.

Writing is a solitary activity which I love and which feeds my soul.  There again, I have been partially silenced by letting the cares and duties of the rest of the world encroach. 

Walking is also an activity I enjoy best alone.  Walking nourishes my soul. Music, the love of my life, requires copious amounts of alone rehearsal time; yet, when it comes time to perform, I must break the silence.


A vow of silence can be a good thing when it’s time to self-examine or listen.  On the other hand, you may have made false rules, beliefs or punishments for yourself if a vow of silence creeps up and overtakes you unnoticed.  

The relationship between Yearn, Long, Hunger, Desire

The other day when I was walking Upper Liberty Cap, I realized that I was hungry. Surprised?  I was nearly two hours in and beginning the more strenuous descents which would require the same, if not more, exertion on the way out.

There was a time in my life I avoided exercise and exertion for this very reason; it made me hungry.  Hunger made me eat. Hunger made me grab the quickest food in sight and stuff it in my mouth.  Eating desperately and nervously in this way made me gain weight. Gaining weight made it less possible to fulfill the other desires in my life; beauty, love, well-being, acceptance…

These words are closely related:  Yearn, Long, Hunger, Desire.  Choose any to fill in the blank and you have similar meaning.

After the rain, Upper Liberty Cap
After the rain, Upper Liberty Cap

I __________for food.

I __________for love.

I __________for rest or relief.

I __________for sleep.

I __________for society.

I __________for meaning.

I __________for spiritual things.

There is a tendency to substitute them in our lives; to cope by consuming one in place of the other. However, they do not have the exact same outcome.  If I yearn and have not, I shall be sad.  If I hunger and have not, I shall starve. If I yearn and sate it with eating, I become fat. Worse, even, to substitute a chemical substance and become dependent in my quest for fulfillment of legitimate needs and desires.

Upper Liberty Cap Trail
Upper Liberty Cap Trail

Unlike the unsated hungers that cause addiction, when I became hungry on my hike, I was craving good things, healthful food. The exertion brought out the best in me.

There are times hunger is a good thing. The person who does not exert himself / herself never feels hunger.  Desire is put to sleep in an apathetic trance.

An apathetic person never feels the exhilaration of goals achieved, personal best or excellence.

The hunger I felt on my walk was genuine physical hunger for food.  Good food. My yearning for beauty was abundantly satisfied. Every bone and muscle felt the exhilaration of exertion. My longing to commune with the spiritual and touch the deep things of the created universe was sated. I had achieved a personal goal (hiking all the trails in the Colorado National Monument).

That is the kind of Hunger, Desire, Yearning, and Longing I wish for you. May your desire push you to achieve your goals and dreams. May your hunger be for good things.   May your yearnings and longings be sated with the best life and love and beauty have to offer.