5 Ways to Celebrate the Autumn Equinox This Year

And bring some balance into your world

A tinge of red and orange dot the hillside banked with a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees. A few big maple leaves have already begun to litter the walkways as the days grow shorter and the evenings become crisper. The wheel of the year has come full circle. Autumn is on its way.

I know for me, the slight chill in the air, the slanting sunlight, and the smell of wood smoke from a home hearth awakens my senses, or as F.Scott Fitzgerald said;

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

And with the change of season, we watch as the sunlight wanes, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. Yet, there is one day of balance, transitioning from the summer months and ushering us into fall, the Autumn Equinox.

What is the Autumn Equinox?

The Latin word equinox literally means ‘equal night’. There are two equinoxes in the astronomical calendar, one in the spring and one in the fall.

They mark the change in seasons and during autumn mark the balance of the light shifting from the longer days to darker, longer nights of winter.

On September 22nd, the sun will cross above the Earth’s equator, from north to south, marking nature’s conversion to the new season.

Earlier humans spent more time outdoors than we do now, becoming more accustomed to nature’s processes including those happening in the celestial skies, like the movements of the sun and moon.

A harvest ritual by any other name……

A Road Trip of a Different Color

“Road trips are the equivalent of human wings. We will stop in every small town and learn the history and stories, then we will turn it into our own story that will live inside our history to carry with us, always. Because stories are more important than things.” — Victoria Erickson

Road trips hold a sense of anticipation and excitement for that unknown but soon to be discovered thing. Sometimes they open our eyes to new places and our hearts to newly made friends. If we are very lucky, they open us too, to new possibilities and perhaps to dive within ourselves.

I am embarking on a road trip of a different sort, aboard a sailboat, and I invite you to come along! If road trips are to be like human wings then doing it by sail is the purest form of flying. The wind is literally beneath your wings and sails.

Before we cast off.

Our plan is to be sailing for roughly nine to ten days. There is a little wiggle room padded into our itinerary to account for any weather delays or unexpected situations.

But before we cast off with the Selkie (name of our boat) there are preparations to be done…..

We Are the People

A tale of voting rights throughout history


We the People, are the first three words of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. In all, a fifty-two-word sentence with some mighty power.

We are the people; black, brown, white, native-born, or immigrant. We are the people, not based on our sex, gender, or who you love. And as such, we form our government.

In our current social climate, with our country experiencing deep divides surrounding racial and ethnic equality, voting rights, and economic disparities, one could argue we are 180 degrees from the original vision and intent of our founding fathers.

But have we been here before?

Is it a crime for a citizen of the U.S. to vote?

This year is the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote.

Throughout the late 1800s up until after WWI, women fought for their voices to be heard and to be recognized as a ‘person’ mentioned in the Preamble. Susan B. Anthony, a suffragette for women’s rights, was arrested and charged in 1872 for voting in a federal election, well before the ratification to the 19th Amendment.

If women had not gained the right to vote, were they considered ‘people’ under the words of the Preamble?



For Better or For Worse

3 reasons people tie the knot — in 1950, and today

My parents are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary this month!

There are not very many statistics on how many couples reach their 70th wedding anniversary but it seems clear, not very many do. At eighteen years old, my mother looked at my dad and made him the happiest man on earth by saying, I do.

My parents married in 1950, a new decade of hope on the horizon with a rising US economy following WWII.

For better or for worse

Her options in 1950 were limited by today’s standards. My mother once spoke about either joining a convent or working as a nurse or secretary. Both jobs were considered ‘suitable’ for a woman. Until she married.

Today, I look at my 18-year-old daughter and see the whole world in front of her. School. Education. Travel. Friends. Career. Marriage is far, far down the list. Not only in my mind but in hers.

If my daughter came to me tomorrow announcing plans to marry, I would consider it a foolish move. Throwing her life away.

In 1950, the day my mom wed my dad, her life began.

At eighteen years old, my mother and my daughter are literally worlds apart.

So, how did our view of marriage change?

A Mother First and Gay Rights Activist Second

The story of Jeanne Manford and the baton she passed to me.

I sit at the far end of the semi-circle of tables and chairs. We are gathered in a small meeting room at the back of a pizzeria. The room doubles as a space for both group gatherings and birthday party bashes. As I take my seat, I smell the faint waft of red marinara sauce mixed with mozzarella cheese. Unmistakingly the aroma of pizza.

The man on my right is enjoying a lovely amber ale and the woman on my left greets me with a very warm smile. She is holding a stuffed turtle in her hand. As always in these new situations, I am feeling awkward and momentarily consider bolting for the door.

But then the meeting begins. The seats around the table fill up. The woman next to me holds up the turtle, using it as a talking stick item as she opens the meeting. Whoever is holding the turtle is the one who gets to speak.

Eventually, the turtle makes its way around the room and finds me. I hold it for a second feeling the plush fabric nervously with my fingers before I say, Hello, my name is MaryRose. I use the she/her pronouns. My reasons for being here are my kids. My son is transgender and my daughter identifies as Bi. I am here to find community and to deepen my learning.

I feel a hand on my left arm. I turn to the woman sitting next to me who is not just warmly smiling but beaming! Oh, you are doubly blessed, she says, looking me in the eyes. Welcome to PFLAG.

What is PFLAG?

The Day I Picked up His Banner and Walked With Him

The beginning of one mother’s journey as her son came out as transgender.

My son is twenty-three this year. Five years ago, at the age of seventeen, he came out as transgender.


It was on a rainy, Northwest day my teenage child, then known as my oldest daughter, drove off in the old Toyota. A family car no longer used. My child was setting off for a new college experience. Flying the nest.

The back seat and trunk stuffed full of boxes and belongings obscured my view of my oldest heading down the road and away from me. I worried about the visibility out the back window. I silently worried over the three hours of driving between our home and this new school.

Of course, I also mused; Would my child fit in and make friends at this new school? Will my child be happy there?

I never worried about gender. The idea of transgender, my oldest daughter truly being my son, never entered my mind.

At least not then.

Finding out via Facebook.

It was several hours later and I arrived home from a long day at work. I had not received a phone call so I decided to check Facebook. I flipped open my laptop and after waiting for the familiar screen to flash on, I began to scroll.

There it was. My child’s Facebook page and profile picture looking back at me. Only not my child’s name attached. There before me was a new name! Jace. I leaned back from the computer, confused but still staring at it.

My go-to action was to ask my younger daughter if she had seen this new name and what it might mean? Her reply, I think you better call Jace. Upon which she returned her attention to her Algebra book.

Alone in my bedroom, I dialed my child’s number. Anxiety and nerves built up with each consecutive ring. I don’t know what I anticipated but my body viscerally signaled me something was up because of the pit forming in my stomach and the clamminess to my palms growing into full-fledged sweat.

Going Wild at Cafe Wylde

P stands for Plant-based

Plant-based. What is it?

“We offer local, vegan, and organic food straight from the earth”, reads the sign of Café Wylde in Everett, WA. It is a late February day and uncommonly dry for the Pacific Northwest. I stand on the sidewalk and wait for my friend to arrive for our late afternoon dinner. Both of us just had birthdays and this is our celebration together. Knowing I am vegetarian, she suggested a “plant-based” restaurant. This may conjure a picture of tie-dyed hippies with long hair and Birkenstocks serving behind the counter but today “plant-based” diets reach across many demographics.

There are several derivations for the term, “plant-based”, encompassing diets which exclude red meat to the more commonly associated vegan diet. It is the latter which most people may think of when seeing this description on a menu. Wikipedia says it this way, “a diet consisting mostly or entirely of foods derived from plants, including vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits, and with few or no animal products.”

People may choose “plant-based” diet for a variety of reasons. Ethical, environmental, and health are usually the most common reasons leading someone to alter their food habits.

At Café Wylde, they encourage that extra leap of health by using locally sourced, organic ingredients. Keeping it local reduces the carbon footprint as well as ensures the highest nutrient value because the produce is picked daily, from the field to your table.

Along with creative and delicious main dishes, there are a variety of healthy teas, smoothies, and fresh juices all prepared in house and on the spot at Café Wylde.  The women who dreamed this vision also incorporate gratitude as their motivation behind the scenes.  Gratitude for the planet, its abundance, but most of all for the support of customers celebrating their birthdays.

Self-Love and Body Curves

Looking in the mirror and being happy in my own skin

It started young, hating my body. Typically, I could be found with my nose in a book rather than kicking a ball on a soccer field. In fact, often I was the last one picked for a sports team at school.

There was one place I felt elegant and beautiful. At ballet class when I was dancing. It began around the age of 10 or 11. I, a rather slender and compact but not skinny pre-teen who came up short on height, stood at the barre with my feet in first position behind a row of other pre-teen girls. Our instructor for that evening class walked up and down the line calling out the sequence of pliés and relevés.

She glances at me as the music stops and makes one comment, You probably will not be tall but I certainly hope you do not get curvy!

Curvy!

Another word for chubby, womanly, and fat.

In the years to come, as my body filled out, those words stuck with me. In my soul as well as my memory.

A few years later, I landed a lead role in the upcoming ballet production. Ecstatic to be noticed, I worked really hard at my part, dancing even harder to make sure I left a good impression.

Then it happened again…..

The End of the World as We Know It

And do I feel fine?

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine. So goes the lyric from the alternative rock band, REM’s song by the same name.

This song hit the music charts in 1987 with it’s frenetic, fast-paced syncopated lyrics referencing everything from Soviet ruler Leonid Brezhnev to biblical rapture to comedic lines of Lenny Bruce. It sifted out everything strangely wrong with the world and weirdly juxtaposed. Is it any wonder it has become an anthem to our current situation during the coronavirus pandemic?

The feeling of loss for a life previously lived.

It is common to feel a loss and grieve after we lose someone from our lives, be it due to a death, a divorce, or maybe a moving away and losing touch. When this happens, we sometimes characterize our lives as life before, with that person, and life after. The void we feel can seem like the end of the world as we know it. And it kind of is.

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine

What lies ahead of us, on the other side of our grief, is a new life. One without the person, activity, and things we were used to doing.

During this time of Covid-19 so many people have lost beloved spouses, parents, siblings, and friends. Their lives are certainly changed and their grieving real.

But what if we are grieving our way of life before Covid-19?

Six Degrees From the Stonewall Riots

A look back at the inception of PRIDE to see the way forward

Right now, most of us concur we are living through times of uncertainty and civil unrest. A global pandemic with a rising death toll, riots, demonstrations, police brutality, the sinking economy, and the list goes on.

But it’s not the first time our society has felt this type of shakedown.

A similar situation brewed throughout the 1960s with one sector boiling over during the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. This boiling point became known as the Stonewall Riots, and it was here the inception of the gay rights movement began.


In 1969, I turned one year old. My family lived on the West Coast, far from Greenwich Village, Manhattan, or New York and an uprising later to be termed The Stonewall Riots. For obvious reasons, I was unaware of the growing unrest in our country during the late ’60s and early ’70s.

My parents did not openly protest to my knowledge. Preferring to use their voices at the ballot boxes or campaign on initiatives for reform. They saw their voices being heard through the political process and that is okay. It was also a different time.

There was always a news broadcast playing in my home, either on the radio or the evening news on the television. I do not recall my parents speaking on issues of the day such as racism, riots, or drag queens. Perhaps they spoke amongst themselves. Perhaps they felt a child’s childhood should be left to play kick-the-can and savor their wishes to Santa Claus. Perhaps they felt I was too young to be touched by the burdens of the world.

Whatever their reasons, it was those burdening events; the Vietnam war, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Stonewall Riots which would ultimately shape the world I grew up in.

In 1969 the Stonewall Riots became a tipping point for the LGBTQ movement. A banner for equality I would pick up a few decades later when my son came out to me as transgender.

Of course, I knew the word but up until that moment that is all it was for me, a word. At that moment, with my son, it became personal. I had no context for the breadth of its meaning. Contrary to my son’s belief that his liberal-minded, progressive mom knew everything, when in fact I did not.

Where did I begin? I began at what I knew to be the beginning.