Touchstone people

My stepsister Sarah lived with us from the time I was in first grade until the end of fifth grade. My three sisters and I loved having one more girl around. That’s not to say we didn’t have our typical childhood squabbles. But for the most part, we were happy to be together, and we shared everything sisters share–clothes, Barbies, gymnastics lessons, dogs named Misty and Watson, a cat named Ralph, and even a duck named Quackers.

After Sarah left to go live with her mom, we didn’t keep in touch very well. But when she moved back in with us her sophomore year of high school, it was like no time had elapsed at all between the two of us. We picked up where we left off, although both of us were crazy, messed up, grunged out teenagers. That year in high school was one of the hardest years of my life personally, but in some ways it was one of the best. Sarah being around had a lot to do with why it was better. We had common experiences and feelings and were able to support each other through all of it.

Then she left at the end of the spring, and again, we didn’t keep in touch well until she had her first daughter, RayAnne. And every year since, we’ve grown closer. I’ve watched her become a more beautiful, complete, spiritually grounded, and mature woman. And along the way, we’ve had a whole lot of fun.

It seems that the best people in my life–whether friends or family–are the ones I can call after six months of no communication and pick up right where we left off, with no hesitation, awkwardness, or lack of topics for conversation. They’re the people who are my touchstones in life, who mark the best and worst of times for me, and who were there for me through all of it. I’m lucky to have several.

Those touchstone people, like Sarah, are the people I’m most grateful for.

I’m forever grateful to my brave friend for opening up to me. Without his willingness to share his story, I might still be lacking forgiveness.

Just wheat: Only what matters

Forgiveness sounds like a great idea until you’re the one who has to forgive.

I’ve had the opportunity to forgive many times in my life, and often, I’ve risen to the challenge, faced my resentments head on, and found a way to forgive people who have left me, cheated on me, gossiped about me, judged me, or stolen from me. That list could go on endlessly for me, and probably for every person on the planet. Perhaps longer yet is the list of the wrongs I’ve done to others; I’m no saint. I know the healing power of forgiveness from both sides.

In my life, there’s one person I have struggled with forgiving more than anyone else. I’ve done lip service to the idea of forgiving him before, but recently, I realized that I had never truly forgiven him.

This person is the man who raped me when I was…

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A big thank you to Henry Petty of for serving as today’s guest writer.

What is the meaning of life?

Is it to achieve all you can to prove your self-worth?  Earn a degree so you can make yourself feel important?  Travel 11 hours to a remote island so you’ll be able to hang out by the ocean and finally be fulfilled?  Make lots of money so you’ll feel significant?  Or is it to drink muddy water and profess happiness?  The latter is what the people of the island Fiji believe, and I think they’re onto something.

The Fijian people greet each other with,”Boola, Boola, Boola,” which means, “We’re happy you’re here; welcome–we love you,” and their favorite recreation is sharing grog with each other, a muddy, watery substance served in a coconut, while reciting this greeting to each other before taking a drink.This is similar to our culture’s tradition of saying a toast.

Fijians believe in a constant state of happiness from within; their belief is to pursue a happy life. Could it really be this simple? Simply put, the Fijians teach us that to achieve happiness doesn’t require us to achieve a goal, but to enjoy life’s journey to get there. We have inside us at this very moment the ability to achieve happiness.

Someone once asked me, “Henry, why are you always so nice and happy?”  My response:

“Boola, Boola, Boola.”

To read more of Henry’s musings, visit his blog at or check out his vlog!


Brave enough

Special thanks to my friend and former co-worker Jonathan Weigt for serving as today’s guest writer.

So at 5:30 tonight, I was hungry and decided to go to Wendy’s on Broadway for a bite before a late meeting. I had been at school all day at the State Hospital and then worked a full day at HP. I ate, read and studied notes from school, and was closing my books to head to a meeting I was literally going to be a minute late for already when a homeless dude walked up to me and asked if I could give him money for dinner. At first I looked, and I had $2 that I offered him, but he says, “That isn’t enough”… so I said, “Good, I’ll buy you what you want for dinner. Let’s go get in line.”

As we are standing in line, of course I’m assessing this dude as is habit in school. Lethargic, slow cognition, smells of some chemical I’m not exactly familiar with… but good mood and happy to be getting something to eat. I mean… I guess you work with what you got for the day you know? Anyway, I’m asking him about his day, what he’s up to, where he is sleepin’, if he’s got a place to go…et al, and he orders 2 bowls of chili. I ask him if he wants fries, or something to drink, and he says “no…no…” and I tell him he needs to drink something… so I order him a large water. The bill was like $2.89 or something. I mean whatever…right? I actually think to myself I’m helping this guy for $2.89… Hmm… And then the strangest thing happens…a guy behind me in line, whom I hadn’t even noticed, taps me on the shoulder and says, “I got it.” I politely try not to accept his offer, but he waves me off and said, “No…I got it.”

So I’m wondering at this point who it was that I was intended to help…”Tony” the homeless hungry guy or the dude in line… guess it’s probably none of my business, huh universe? But glad I was brave enough to help.

Sometimes, all it takes is being brave enough. ~jw

A brand new baby

A few years ago, my cat Beijing was attacked by a dog and killed. He was the fluffiest, fattest, cuddliest cat in the world. Seriously. Every time I think of him, I really do get tears in my eyes and feel incredibly sad about losing him.

The other day, there was a cat that was hit by a car near my house. It looked just like him. This made me think of Beijing, of course, and I told James I was really sorry he never got to meet him.

I know, I know. It’s a CAT. But sometimes your animals are there for you the way people can’t be and in times when you’re alone and need something to love you. My pets remind me that life is joyful and that the basics–food, love, and shelter–are enough to provoke gratitude.

This morning, I woke up and stumbled into the kitchen to start the coffee. A tiny high-pitched meow came from the back door. I opened the door, and a tiny kitten who looks very similar to Beijing sat on my door mat. Apparently, I have a new baby. And even though it will whine for a while, and it’ll be expensive to feed it while it’s a kitten, I can’t say I’m upset that someone may have donated an unwanted kitten. If it’s still here when I get home today, I guess I’ll  have to name it :).

Beijing as a kitten



The feeling of weightlessness that followed sharing my sad truth through my personal blog,, is unbelievable. I had no idea it had such a strong grip on me. It’s like an invisible but impenetrable barrier lay between me and everything whole and good–complete joy, peace, love, and freedom.

Those just seem like words until you’ve lost them.

I know what they mean, and I know how they feel again.

For this, I’m grateful.

Let love

I’m grateful for my friend, singer/songwriter/musician Oona Love, for agreeing to serve as our guest writer today.
I have been struggling to write this blog post for the past few days. To concisely say everything I thought I wanted to say seemed like a large undertaking, but today in reflection of the events in my own life over the past few weeks, it seems simple. The same things I talk about daily are the things which I feel need to be shared here.
A few weeks ago, I was standing at the fish counter in a market, waiting for someone to help me. It was a Sunday afternoon, and after a while, I thought maybe no one worked the fish counter on Sunday afternoons, and maybe I couldn’t buy that crab that was on sale. I stood up on the red railing that was on the floor so I could lean over the counter and made a cute “ding-ding” noise. Still no one came. I looked to my friend who was shopping me with and shrugged. Just as we were about to give up on the entire idea of crab, a woman came from behind the double doors. She was sobbing, weeping as if someone had just died. I looked at her, the crab completely forgotten and asked her if she needed a hug. I walked behind the counter and held her while she cried. I assured her that all would be well and tried to comfort her. I still don’t know why she was that upset, but within a few minutes, she was calm, smiling, and I not only had my crab, but also had an amazing feeling of joy for being able to comfort someone.
In my life playing music for a living, I am blessed to meet so many people. It is joyous to be a part of the tapestries of so many peoples’ lives. At times, it can be heart breaking and challenging, too. There is an epidemic of suffering in our world. Suffering, I believe, we can only overcome if we all learn to love truly and fully and if we learn to lead lives based on love.
There is a wonderful concept called the universal consciousness. You can see it in birds as they fly. If one changes direction, so do the rest. Look up next time you see a flock of birds, and watch, it really is amazing. I think this kind of consciousness exists in us, too. Every thought we have have, every action, every word- they all affect the world in which we live. So, if we are able to let go of our hurt, our anger, our pain and live with love in our hearts, speak with love, and act with love, we could change the course of our collective world. A lot of people think this is just silly “hippie” talk. Believe me, I have heard it all, and yes, I have been known to wear patchouli and at this very moment, I am wearing a purple tie dyed skirt, but that should not really matter. The concept, I think, is valid.
It is the driving course of my life. No matter the pain or hurt I have endured, I made a conscious decision about fifteen years ago that I would try to live a life full of love and joy. I am not always successful. I am a big crier, and often I try to carry the weight of everyone in my life–another lesson I am desperately trying to learn in my life, but I am far too stubborn to accept. Love is, in its essence, the only thing we have in this world.
So many times I have been told I do not live in reality, and I tire of hearing it. I tire of hearing the argument that one cannot live on love alone. These are pessimistic ideas, and they do not embrace love. Love, like God, or Goddess, or Universe, or Dog is the only thing that can truly feed our souls. It doesn’t matter what you call it. Trusting in love, giving yourself to love will indeed provide. Love has no boundaries. It opens the body, soul, heart and mind to all kinds of experiences and opportunities. They key is being open to them. We have to embrace LOVE as a way of living.
The place where this begins is the hardest. It is a struggle for everyone I know who is on this path. It begins with loving ourselves. We cannot give love without loving ourselves, too. If you have ever been in a relationship with someone who doesn’t love her or himself, or if you have not loved yourself, you will understand this. I am not talking about ego. I am talking about allowing yourself to be imperfect, loving, and accepting of who you are, the gifts you were given, and the soul you have. Be perfectly imperfect. Embrace yourself. Know that there are times when you will fail, not only in life endeavors, but also in living a life of love.
We are raised to be such judgmental creatures. We judge each other, and we judge ourselves. To let go and let love puts an end to that cycle of abuse. If we can all embrace one another with love in our hearts and minds, we lose the judgment, we lose anger, we lose hurt, we lose envy. We become authentic souls walking on this earth sharing in the human experience.
So, that’s my blog. This is my gratitude for living and sharing my life with so many people. I attempt to live each moment with love as the guiding force. I try, every day, to share love and give love to those who need it.

Oona Love
Singer/Songwriter/Gypsy Musician
On the Web:
Holli Tucker, or
(423) 404 5272
(423) 404 5671

I’m incredibly grateful for the freedom to share my story in hopes that it will help others, and for my friend who did the same.

Just wheat: Only what matters

“Silence is often the loudest voice.”

It’s one of my favorite quotes, and it applies to so many situations.

But not this one.

For 16 years, I’ve kept my mouth shut, barely whispering out of the corners of it to a few trusted people.

The first time I had sex, when I was 16 years old, I was raped by a trusted friend of the family.

The aftermath that ensued was much more damaging and painful than the experience itself. Since that day, I’ve suffered from shock, guilt, stress, and grief. I’ve watched, almost as a spectator, as the internalization of the trauma spilled out of me quietly, poisoning relationships, killing my joy, and ravishing my mind.

Of course, this was Satan’s intent. He’s been a pretty happy camper the last 16 years, I’m sure.

Recently, I started processing the event therapeutically as a 32 year-old woman and examined my…

View original post 1,407 more words

A big day

Today will be a very big day for me.

In a little while, I’m going to share one of the most painful, personal moments of my life with anyone who’s interested in hearing about it via my personal blog. I have the oddest feeling this morning–it feels like fear mixed with courage.

Despite the actual experience and pain involved in the aftermath, and in spite of my fear of the unknown consequences of opening myself up to the world, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to share. I’m grateful for a friend who shared his story with me last week and prompted me to share my own. I’m grateful for the intricate, winding, uphill road that led me to today, fingers positioned on my keyboard, calm and ready to say what needs to be said.

I’m grateful God is the ultimate orchestrator of all of this, and I’m grateful that I’ve stepped down from my throne enough to recognize Him for Who He Is.

I feel like God’s whispering to me, “Now watch what I’m going to do with this. I told you, I’m making everything new.”

I’m watching.



I am making everything new.

Today I’m grateful for spring. The daffodils have risen up out of the cold, brown mulch. We can barely keep the bird feeder full. Most of the trees along our trails in the woods are now covered with tiny, closed buds.

And I’m grateful for my heart, which God has renewed. Yes, He does that day after day. But I’m talking about a slow, painful winnowing of who I am to reveal the real Bethany underneath.

“Behold, I am making everything new.”  Revelations 21:5





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