Shattered Pieces

In 2015, I hand-painted this ceramic elephant and gave it to the transitional housing home where I had lived for four years, when I moved out. It has words on it like, “fierce”, “heal”, “worthy”, and many more. It was filled with things I had hoped for the women who lived there with me at the time, and those who would come after me.

Not that long ago, through a series of events, Elsie, as she was named by a dear friend, made her way back to me. I displayed her next to a wood elephant that I collaged as a keepsake reminder for all that I had learned and overcome during my time at the transitional housing home.

Today, during an online grief group, someone noticed Elsie on my shelf, so I got her down and showed her to the group. I set Elsie on my desk and moments later accidentally knocked her onto the carpet, where she broke in pieces. As Elsie broke, it was as if some invisible dam in my soul had suddenly broke open and I was flooded with emotion. All I could do was wail in grief. If you have never known the kind of grief where it hurts to breathe, leaves you physically shaking, and where you cry to the point that you hyperventilate and become physically ill, consider yourself fortunate.

October is generally not the happiest month for me. It is a month with five death related anniversaries, something I am all too familiar with, having lost 20+ people in the last 25 years. Throughout the year, I am always aware of anniversaries related to my most significant losses. I am even aware of the anniversary of my best friend’s dad’s death.

I have one more anniversary to get through this month. Monday, the 25th, would have been my significant other, Juan’s, 38th birthday. This is the first birthday of his since he died in January. I was reminded today, that with Juan, I am still in the year of “firsts”. It doesn’t matter if it is the first year or as in the case of my dad’s death the 23rd year, I can’t forget or unknow the dates. They just stick to me. Sometimes, grief clings on and doesn’t let go until it is done with me, with no consideration for when I feel like I am done with it. It certainly had its way with me today.

Like Elsie, tonight, I feel a bit broken beyond complete repair and missing some pieces. I may be able to put some pieces back together tomorrow, but not all of them. Neither of us will ever be quite the same.

© Margaret Lennon 2021


A Grief Story

Something is squeezing my shattering heart like strong, rough hands wringing out a sopping wet dish rag, as heartbreak drips down onto the tops of my black leather Vans, sliding over the edge in a waterfall of tears, landing in a pool of despair that has gathered around the white soles of my shoes. As it rises, my purple leopard print socks absorb the salty water like a sponge. A frigid chill sends a jolt from my ankles, through my body, up the back of my neck, to the top of my head, and I am momentarily brought back to life.

I take a breath and through my water-filled eyes, scan the room. Through the blurry haze, I notice a dusty cuckoo clock hanging crookedly on the wall, broken and frozen in time. It has been a while since the clock bird sang. I move toward the door, reaching for a way out. 

The crushing pressure in my chest returns, this time with a vengeance. As if I thought it could get any worse. I gasp for air, as the pain drops me to my knees, into my puddle of tears, with a thud and a splash. In a state of pure agony mixed with total exhaustion, the lights go out.

As the sun rises the next morning, a soft light peaks through an open window, landing on my cheek. The fresh air and sweet chirps of 3 Lesser Goldfinches, sitting on the red bird feeder that hangs in the California pepper tree, just outside the window, bring me back to life. I spring up from the floor, turn on my iTunes and jump in the shower, throwing my damp clothes, from the night before, into the hamper like a basketball hotshot.

“2 points! Yeah! I’ve still got it!” I grinned.

As I emerge from the shower, wrapped in a black towel with multicolored elephants scattered all over it, feeling happy and refreshed, Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond starts playing. I turn up the music. I drag a purple large-toothed comb through my thick wet brown curly hair, as I sing and hum along. The comb slides through a knot in my hair as the sound of the music fades into the background. When I turn to look up into the vanity mirror, the comb reaches the end of my hair. I drop the comb, and it hits the hardwood floor, as I lock eyes with my reflection. I am instantly reminded that I’m alone, and the cycle starts again.

This is what grief feels like.

© Margaret Lennon 2021

Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Awareness Day

I don’t post things about my disability often, but today is worth the exception. I can’t imagine a life where I do not have Spina Bifida and/or Hydrocephalus. Honestly, it’s terrifying some days to wake up and wonder if my shunt is going to malfunction today, as it has for a few of my friends who are no longer with us. And sure, there are number of things I could gripe about that make daily things annoying, frustrating, and challenging. Those things are certainly not to be minimized or ignored, but they are not the part of my story I am choosing to focus on today.

Today is about recognizing the things I have gained and learned from having a disability.

It has afforded me a rich life with a second community, a second family, that I couldn’t imagine being without. Having people that understand you, without saying a word, is a gift that I do not take for granted. Find your tribe(s) and hold onto them. Having people, and being the person, who is with you on the harder days, the good days, the setbacks and successes is what life is about.

Having Spina Bifida has made me more empathetic and patient with others. It has exposed me to a world full of diversity and many perspectives. We have common bonds, but no two people are exactly alike. It has given me an opportunity for an incredible active and social life. It has taught me that life will knock me down, but I have yet to not get back up. Spina Bifida has taught me to persevere and to do things anyway, especially in the face of fear and has put my stubbornness to good use. I don’t see them every day, but sometimes there are gifts in the hard things. That is important to remember on the good days. Sometimes, it makes it easier to find the good things in the harder days.

As a good friend of mine would say, thanks for coming to my TEDTalk.

Conversations with Parts – 3/10/2020

These are two images I conjured during exercise at a Compassion Group tonight.  The first is the parts of me, in this case, emotions, that showed up.

The second is my image for locking the parts away for now, knowing I can and will come back to have a conversation with them at another time.

The flame in the first picture represents the “Sacred”.

There is so much here that I cannot put into words at the moment, so these images will have to do for now.

© Margaret Lennon 2020

Things I am Grateful for this Year

SiSinSince we are on the eve of a new year, I put together a list of 400 things (because some days one isn’t enough), in no particular order, that I was grateful for during 2016. I hope there are things on this list that you are thankful for too. Here’s to embracing 2017 with a little more gratitude.

1.   Having my own room and the freedom to decorate it how I choose

2.   Every pilot who got me safely to my destination

3.   Chocolate

4.   Sunshine

5.   New clothing

6.   The ability to read and write

7.   Loving friends that have supported me when I’ve needed them

8.   Haircuts

9.   Eyebrows

10.  My education

11.  I didn’t go to bed hungry last night

12.  My mentors

13.  I woke up this morning

14.  Netflix

15.  Jewelry

16.  The color purple… literally the color

17.  All colors

18.  Coloring books

19.  Adele

20.  Celebrities reading mean tweets

21.  Texting

22.  My eyesight

23.  Real Christmas trees

24.  Natural light

25.  Oxygen

26.  Warm blankets

27.  Flowers

28.  Comfy sweaters/sweatshirts

29.  My favorite purple shirt

30.  Leggings

31.  Warm clothing

32.  Christmas lights

33.  Successful DIY’s

34.  Chipotle

35.  Birthdays

36.  The future

37.  My car

38.  Nail polish

39.  Pizza

40.  Having no car problems at the moment

41.  The seasons

42.  Those who have served and are serving our country

43.  Having people in my life that continually push me to become better

44.  Thank you notes

45.  Birds

46.  I can go outside and feel the breeze through my hair and the sun’s warmth on my skin

47.  Clean laundry

48.  Fresh sheets

49.  My accomplishments, great and small

50.  The times I failed

51.  Roommates that are nice

52.  My mom, her unending love and support even when we have disagreed, for all that she has taught me and for being someone I look up to and am proud of

53.  Clean rooms

54.  Children’s laughter and smiles

55.  I am able to see

56.  Rainy days when I don’t have to go anywhere

57.  Animal rescues

58.  Sunflowers

59.  Birthday cake

60.  Play-doh

61.  Birthday & Holiday cards

62.  Finding old friends on Facebook

63.  Bananas

64.  Rainbows

65.  Sunglasses

66.  My entire family

67.  Campfires with good company

68.  My treehouse

69.  Deodorant

70.  Technology

71.  My heart, lungs, hands, immune system… my body as a whole and all that it does for me

72.  Pain: without it, it would be difficult to appreciate life’s joys

73.  Wifi

74.  FREE wifi

75.  Comfortable places to sit

76.  Chocolate croissants

77.  Freedom to vote

78.  My independence

79.  Vaccines

80.  Music

81.  That one song that I can’t resist singing along to… and there are many of them

82.  Music that makes me happy

83.  Every musician who has written a song I’ve listened to

84.  Leaving home

85.  Coming home

86.  Creative/art days

87.  Road Trips

88.  Movies

89.  Movie nights

90.  Affordable housing

91.  Calendars

92.  Pasta

93.  Swings

94.  Icees/Slurpies

95.  Tears: sometimes when there are not words to say, tears express how we feel for us

96.  Earth

97.  My talents

98.  My dreams

99.  Those that have believed and encouraged me when I have doubted myself

100. The ability to learn

101. Cell phones

102. Books

103. Dogs

104. Elephants

105. Also cats

106. Pretty much any and all animals

107. A really good cry

108. Showers

109. Toothpaste

110. Face wash

111. The people that let me cut in line when checking out

112. Puppy kisses and cuddles

113. Treat Yourself and Self-Care days

114. Internet

115. Email

116. TSA Pre

117. Finding money in pants pockets, buried in my room, etc.

118. Chapstick

119. Good smelling lotion/perfume

120. Long phone conversations with the right people

121. My volunteer job

122. My ability to hear

123. Vacations

124. My tablet

125. My printer

126. Water bottles

127. Coffee mugs

128. Strawberry jelly

129. Perfectly cooked chicken

130. Simple acts of kindness

131. Barnes & Noble

132. Getting all green lights when driving

133. Nicknames

134. Toilets

135. Being understood

136. Access to healthy food

137. Lunch and dinner dates

138. Febreze

139. Ripe avocados

140. Wisdom that comes with age

141. DBSA

142. My ability to breathe

143. Full tanks of gas

144. Concerts

145. Fresh salsa

146. Stuffed animals

147. Morning dew on plants

148. Grocery stores

149. Love

150. Those who care enough to share their wisdom and advice, even if I don’t follow it

151. Laughing so hard that you your face and stomach hurt and you can’t breathe

152. The breakdown moments

153. Being able to laugh at myself

154. Butterflies

155. Good puns

156. Money in the bank

157. Transportation

158. My laminator

159. Gardens

160. Fire

161. Soup

162. Sharp Mesa Vista

163. Dr. Fideleo

164. Punctual people

165. Car washes

166. Old buildings

167. Heaters

168. Friday morning breakfasts at Gentiva

169. Good food

170. Meditation and mindfulness

171. Lamps

172. The smell of clean laundry

173. Ranch dressing

174. Entertainment

175. People willing to teach

176. Amazon

177. That there are people in the world who care about the earth, animals, and human rights

178. Art nights with friends

179. People that aren’t as*holes

180. The good days

181. The bad days

182. Oven mitts

183. Pumpkin spice lattes… and that I know how to make them from scratch now

184. Limited/no commercials

185. YouTube

186. Having people and places I can rely on when I’m struggling

187. Every experience that led to this moment

188. Days spent in bed

189. Homemade gifts

190. People watching

191. Naps

192. Car air fresheners

193. Toilet paper

194. Makeup wipes

195. My favorite pair of black pants

196. Michael’s Arts & Crafts store

197. That excited, extremely happy feeling

198. The memories I made this year

199. Compassion

200. Starbucks

201. Target

202. Writing for showing me what I think about life

203. Hair ties

204. The seniors in the jewelry class I teach

205. Sweater weather

206. AA batteries

207. That feeling of your toes in warm sand

208. Electricity

209. Being there for my friends

210. Hugs

211. Beads

212. My friends’ accomplishments

213. Computers

214. Receiving flowers

215. Strangers that smile at you

216. Good samaritans

217. Girl Scout cookies… especially Thin Mints

218. The beauty of nature

219. Beauty in any form

220. Memories of times with family members of loved ones, whether they’re still around or not

221. Intellectual conversation

222. The people that inspire me

223. Indoor plumbing

224. Hair products that work for me

225. Catheters

226. The moments I feel hopeful

227. My cool and complex family heritage

228. My love for genealogy

229. That stretch when you first wake up

230. Yoga

231. My imagination

232. Singing in the shower

233. Singing in the car

234. Kindness of strangers

235. Picnics

236. Time

237. Smoothies

238. Shoes

239. Feeling accomplished

240. Babies

241. Baby animals

242. Funny animal videos

243. Scrolling through old pictures on Facebook

244. Facebook, for how it lets me stay connected with friends and family both near and far

245. Potato chips

246. Shirley’ Temple’s at Studio Diner with extra cherries

247. The Big BLT at Studio Diner

248. Bacon

249. A good meal shared with friends and/or family

250. Cookbooks/recipes

251. Anyone who’s ever gotten me out of a rut

252. Sales at my favorite stores

253. Every moment I will have, even if I’m not grateful when it comes

254. Gratitude for life this list is bring me

255. The perfect s’more

256. The variety of materials we get to use to make so much different stuff

257. Sunrises

258. Sunsets

259. The moon and stars

260. Trips with loved ones

261. That I was able to travel so much this year and visit with many people that mean so much to me

262. Windows

263. Ripe mangos

264. My great-grandmother Margaret’s chocolate nut waffle recipe and getting to share moments with my mom making and enjoying them

265. Sparkling cider

266. Dancing around my room when no one is home

267. Bad dance moves

268. The city I live in

269. A relieving sneeze

270. My ability to explore

271. Not having a curfew

272. Inside jokes

273. Sensitivity to the world for letting me feel deeply

274. Diversity

275. The willingness to act in fear and the moments I push myself out of my comfort zone

276. Getting good advice

277. Giving good advice

278. Paper

279. Tables

280. TEDTalks

281. The smell in the air after rain

282. Fresh fruit

283. That feeling after a really good workout

284. GPS

285. Freedom of speech

286. Hugs from my mom

287. Holidays

288. Forgiveness

289. Conversations with the right people at the right time

290. The ability to love

291. The feeling of being loved

292. Headphones

293. 24-hour Walmart

294. A good night’s sleep

295. Headbands

296. Days I feel good about myself

297. Weekends

298. I have access to clean drinking water

299. Hot water

300. Art and every person who dared to create something new

301. Air conditioning

302. Dishwashers

303. Pillows

304. Delivery food and the driver’s that bring it

305. New friends

306. The snooze button

307. The tough conversations that helped me to grow

308. Old photographs

309. Mornings and the chance to start over

310. That moment when you have exact change

311. Actually having cash, period

312. Epiphanies

313. Butter

314. Sticky notes

315. Every person who’s ever made me laugh

316. Bubble wrap

317. Bubbles

318. Surprise parties

319. Good surprises

320. The smell of old books/paper

321. Hot tea

322. Sweet tea

323. Alone time

324. Silence

325. Busy days

326. I woke up this morning with a roof over my head

327. Online shopping

328. Brené Brown

329. My mind and the ability to think for myself

330. I have a choice of what clothes to wear today

331. That moment when you trip but catch yourself before you fall

332. Social media

333. Cute couples that aren’t obnoxious

334. Curse words

335. Fortune Cookies

336. Journals

337. I haven’t feared for my life today

338. Slow-mo videos

339. Television

340. Vacuum cleaners

341. The ability to make someone laugh

342. Amy Poehler & Tina Fey

343. Compliments

344. Hot tubs

345. Pools

346. Commercials that make me cry

347. Commercials that make me laugh

348. Seat belts

349. Gum

350. Good pens

351. Nail clippers and files

352. Ellen DeGeneres

353. Matching socks

354. I have overcome some considerable obstacles, and I have learned and survived

355. Jimmy Fallon

356. Pinterest

357. The smell of a ripe lemon

358. Warm summer nights at the bay

359. I often worry about what I am going to do with my life-my career, family, the next step etc.-which means I have the ambition, passion, drive and the freedom to make my own decisions

360. I live in a country that protects my basic human rights and civil liberties

361. FaceTime

362. James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke

363. New razors

364. I am reasonably strong and healthy-if I got sick today I could recover

365. I have a friend or relative who misses me and looks forward to my next visit

366. I have someone with whom I can reminisce about good times

367. Honesty

368. Free samples

369. I have access to good medical care

370. Friendly airport security

371. Comfort food

372. Perfect lighting for pictures

373. Home cooked meals

374. My family’s homemade tacos

375. Having a key to my front door

376. Biscuits from Red Lobster… and that my mom has the recipe/has made them

377. My hair

378. Fresh bread

379. Towels

380. I have a bed to sleep in

381. Having time to rest

382. My talent & love of baking

383. Anything fresh out of the oven

384. A healthy family

385. Therapy

386. My therapist

387. My psychiatrist

388. My current meds are working

389. Miniature animals

390. Photo filters & editing

391. Q-tips

392. Soap

393. GIFs

394. Garlic

395. Emojis

396. AAA

397. Modern medicine

398. Unexpected friendships

399. My life as a whole

400. To be blessed in so many big and small ways


What’s on your list?

Happy New Year, friends!  


© Margaret Lennon 2016





I’m one step closer to having a peaceful place to retreat in the trees, something I have been thinking about for a long time. 

Part of daring to be purple is about finding balance in life. I often find myself in “doing” mode vs. “being” mode and I’m hoping that creating a space outside of my room will give me more opportunities to relax and breathe. A little place to get away without having to leave home.

Moving Walkway

image Take the first step. Once you start you can’t stop the moving walkway. Look toward the future. Beware of assumptions that will try to hold you back. Commit. Take a risk. You’re unstoppable. You will be ok.

Write Anyway!

I have dreamt of writing a book for about as long as I can remember but have done little to make it happen thus far.

On Wednesday, I took what I consider a giant leap toward that goal and joined a meetup group for writers. I figured it was time to put myself out there, and that if it totally bombed it only cost me $5 and I didn’t have to go back.

The format of the group involves the organizer reading a prompt followed by quiet, uninterrupted writing for about 30-45 minutes. I’m not exactly sure of the length, as we weren’t allowed to have our cell phones on. Lastly, each person has the opportunity to share what they wrote, without critique or judgment.

There are actual writing rules for the group. Or rather, the rule is that there are no rules. They were adapted from Natalie Goldberg’s work The Wild Mind and added to over the years by practitioners.

The rules are as follows:

1. Keep your hand moving. Remember the writing hand is the creator. The other hand is the editor. If you keep the creating hand moving, the editing hand can’t get a word in edgewise. This is important for writing practice. It gives the creator more space to create. The editor has no place in writing practice.

2. Lose control. Say what you want to say. Forget about structure, rules and being nice. The more you lose control the more authentic your writing becomes. Go for it, then go for some more.

3. Be specific. By naming things, you are more deeply in the present. You honor people, places and things by naming them. The more specific your description, the more life your writing has. Picture to detail, especially as you perceive it through your five senses and write it down.

4. Don’t think. First thoughts hold the truth. First thoughts are unencumbered by ego. Write them. Second thoughts are caution, editing, considering, rethinking. Go with the first flash of truth.

5. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar or syntax. In fact, don’t worry about anything, just write.

6. You are free to write the worst junk in America. Some days you will, and some days you will write something really wonderful, and some days you will just write.

7. Go for the jugular. If something scary comes up go for it, that’s where the energy is. Write through your tears, your anger, all those fears. Go for the real stuff, if you don’t you will be tiptoeing about whatever your real stuff is. You wont believe it and neither will your readers.

8. Date your page. This keeps you grounded in the present and helps you reference pieces you might want to use in something else.

9. The unwritten rule: don’t apologize.

10. Assume its fiction, don’t ask.

11. Remember to breathe.

Sounds pretty good to me. I thought I was going to get a pass as it was my first week, but even I was asked to share what I had written. Yikes! It was challenging to silence my inner critic that thought the writing was a piece of crap compared to the others in the group, but I read it anyway. I survived. Phew! I am going to give it another go next Wednesday and see what happens.

© Margaret Lennon 2016

Starting Over… From Somewhere in the Middle

January 30, 2016

Hi there.

I haven’t been here in a very long time. It would be too long and complicated to fill in the gaps entirely, so I am just going to start over and see where things go.

2015 was filled with some major changes for me. The biggest being that I moved into a house with 3 roommates in September. It was only the 2nd time I’ve ever moved.

Before that, I spent 4 years living in a transitional housing home for women who had either some type of mental illness, a history of substance use, had survived domestic violence, and whom would otherwise have had nowhere to go. Although it posed a lot of challenges, moving there was one of the best decisions I could have made for myself at the time. I needed the support and structure that the housing program provided.

Over time, I became somewhat of a “poster child of success” for the program. No pressure. I “graduated” from the program at the end of August and soon after was asked to join the Board of Directors. I am currently the only resident/former resident on the board, and I think the first. I was elected Secretary in December.

Things were going relatively well. I was adjusting to and enjoying my new living situation and at the end of October got a temp job that was keeping me busy.

I’m used to there often being some kind of drama in my life. Maybe the stability of my new life was starting to scare me. Maybe things were going too well. There were a lot of things that led up to the episode, not all of which were rational. Part of it was also misdirected anger. I was hurt by a family situation and let it get to me instead of dealing with it.

In any case, the day after Thanksgiving I took myself off all of my medication. I have done it more than once and I DO NOT RECOMMEND IT!

At first my mood was ok, I just felt nauseated for days. I actually thought my mood was improving after about 2 weeks. I didn’t think I needed the medication. After all, I had been on the same meds for years, who knew what they were doing for me?

Well, the honeymoon period didn’t last for long. That’s where my illness gets me every time. I ended up sending myself into a hypomanic episode. I started having a lot of ideas. I was going to get back into different projects. I was making plans to go on trips. My friends told me later that I would get into conversations and not let the other person get a word in, which isn’t like me. Then I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t tired even after only 2-3 hours of sleep. I became more easily agitated. I couldn’t stop thinking about hurting myself and got to the point that I was carrying a razor with me. This went on for about a week until I couldn’t handle it anymore. I ended up checking myself into the hospital where I was put back on a bunch of meds and was able to get some sleep. I was released after 15 days.

I can’t deny the clear evidence that I have a chemical imbalance, yet I spend a lot of my time fighting it. I think it’s easier to accept my physical limitations than it is to acknowledge that I have Bipolar Disorder, but I can’t deny that how I am doing today compared to 3 weeks ago are night and day.

I have been out of the hospital for just over two weeks and am picking up the pieces once again. I can’t go back and change anything, I can only try to learn from it again and go from here.

I’m not back to square 1, but am starting over from somewhere in the middle.

© Margaret Lennon 2016