In the first ray of light that ushers in day, there blooms my hope.
Unfurling as a bud seeking the sun.
Sparkling fingers of dawn push against the darkness.
Transferring its energy into a displaced heart.

Will She or Won't She?

He sits on the cracked stoop brooding, expecting nothing at all.
The jagged blocks that make up the city fade away
as he sees her face, one in a crowd on 14th Street.
Filmy white sundress topped with a faded denim jacket.
The wild falling of her crimson hair threaded with stars.
Pink-cheeked girl. Curlicues and heart-dotted i’s.
She appears as summer’s child barefoot and free,
chasing his winter from him.
A deep wave carries him to shore
after the struggle to stay afloat.
Unwilling to watch this goddess go as sand,
slipping through his fisted hand,
he unfolds and follows, every nerve on fire.
Romance in the swell of her hips.
He shadows her step, by step, by step.
Hoping for a touch of the sun he remembers well,
before his life of shadow began.
Hope perches in his heart,
a softening that fills the void.
Will it be yes or no?

No Need to Say Goodbye

I am in the birdsong on the wind,
I am in the whisper of the butterfly’s wing,
I am in the star of silver that jets across the night sky,
I am in the shadow of the new moon,
I am in the reflection of light that dances across the ceiling,
I am in the bubble of laughter from the happy baby,
I am in the outstretched hand of a stranger,
I am in the downpour of the quick summer storm.

I am in the soft gurgle of the river as it flows,
I am in the songs of the gentle giants of the sea,
I am in the foamy break of the waves,
I am in the rhythm, patterns, coincidences, and signs,
I am in the caress of the breeze against your cheek,
I am in the burst of movement of the crisp, fallen leaves,
I am in the syrupy warmth of the first summer night,
I am in the deep glow of the flickering firelight.

I am in the wildflower on the overgrown country path,
I am in the stillness of the silence,
I am in the energy of the joyful noise,
I am in the awakening you embrace,
I am in the lovely moments that comfort you.

I am no longer bound inside a cage of bones
in this flesh and blood world.
I am of earth and sky, my spirit free to dance along the golden horizon
and nest in the deepest blue of the galaxies.
A season unto itself.

Still, my spirit nestles in your tender heart.
Sustained by your smiles and blessed by your laughter.
Kept alive in your memories until we meet again upon the fulfillment of time.

Confession of a Neat Freak

As a bit of a "neat freak", it's time to come clean (ha) and confess there are some messes that don't bother me much at all. In fact, I secretly love them.
They are the beautiful messes that make our house a home.

Hygge (n/vb.) /HOO-gah/ is the Danish word for the concept of coziness. The art of creating a warm atmosphere by enjoying the good things in life with good people. Yes, sometimes that can get a bit messy, but such is the beauty of life. In all its dusty, sloppy glory. Occasionally, it's ok to have that second cup of coffee while scrolling through pictures of gardens in Paris on Pinterest instead of dusting the top of the refrigerator.

Beautiful Messes I Secretly Love:
  1. Dirty dishes from a homemade holiday meal scattered all over the table and counter tops.
  2. Muddy little paw prints on the kitchen floor. (O.K., maybe not so cute RIGHT after I've mopped.)
  3. Silky tufts of cat hair at the foot of the bed. 
  4. Flower petals from a thoughtful bouquet dusting the coffee table.
  5. An untidy stack of unread books waiting for me beside the bed that keep falling over. My personal game of Jenga.
  6. A pile of fragrant, still warm laundry waiting to be folded. (Bonus points if there's not a cat curled up in them.)
  7. Bed head and puffy eyes after a truly good sleep. (Not so crazy about the sheet marks on my face, however. They are staying longer and longer these days. That's just cruel if good "face smashed in your pillow" sleep causes wrinkles. *Sigh*)
  8. Snowfall of flour left in the kitchen after the baking of favorite treats.
  9. That favorite candle burned down to a goopy, sooty nub. The little broken stubs of wick float around in the melted wax like tiny black boats bobbing in the ocean. Oddly relaxing to watch. 
  10. Half-empty coffee mugs left next to the newspaper on a lazy Sunday. 
  11. Smudges of paint left over on my creative fingers.
  12. The colorful tangle of wrapping paper mixed with empty (or cat-filled) boxes on Christmas morning. 
  13. The blanket on the ottoman that clearly belongs to the dog.
  14. Crumbs from the latest birthday cake dotting the counter top.
  15. Autumn leaves piling up in the yard.

I hope you take the time to enjoy the beautiful messes in your life too. :)

Five Poems Published in "Bridges" Anthology

Five of my poems (Fade to Black, Masquerade, Restless, Weight of the Life Not Lived, and Once Upon a Time) were published in "Bridges" Anthology. To see my babies all grown up and living in a book is quite thrilling. LOL!

Bridges available here:

Thank God for L'Oreal, Light Ash Blonde 9A

The beauty of thinking of ourselves as evolving instead of aging is the acknowledgement that we still have unrealized potential and growth. Getting older doesn't have to always mean loss or letting go of what "used to be." It can very well be evolving into a better, more fulfilled version of our younger selves. (Although I do miss the eye sight of my younger self. Plus, it's just not fun that certain areas of my body have taken an alarming shift to the south.) Thankfully, when I allow myself to get out of the physical aspects of getting older and go deeper, I have to say that evolving into the person I am today has been an incredible journey.

In the past few years after my son's graduation from school, there has been an increase in solitude. There has been more time for myself and my own pursuits. On the surface, that sounds like a dream. (One that I remember having many times when dealing with the "terrible twos" as a new mom.) Yet, as someone who had been a full-time homemaker and mother for the past two decades, that initial quiet and stillness felt uncomfortable. At first, I no longer felt needed or that I had a defined purpose. A racehorse retired to the pasture with no more races to run. I had no idea what my own pursuits might be. Did I want to pursue anything? Did I have the energy? What if I caught what I was pursuing? What if it caused strain on my marriage? What if I was too old for something new? The what ifs were showing up as fast as the wrinkles. For the first time in my adult life, I was thinking about me instead of we. It felt foreign, yet exciting. I had never expected to be traveling a new road at this point in my life, but that's what happened.

It's so easy to look in the mirror and feel older and more tired with each new wrinkle. One day, I just got sick of giving the mirror so much power over my mood and who I thought I was. Surely there could be more to me than how smooth my skin was (or wasn't) or how many grays were lurking on my head (Thanks, L'Oreal, Light Ash Blonde 9A hair dye.) Let's be honest, things are going to only get grayer and saggier with time, so I knew I had to find some way out of the "life is for the young" trap that our society crams down our throats if I was going to keep enjoying my life. I wasn't ready to toddle off somewhere with my cane and watch my son live his life and wait for grandchildren. I still wanted my own life, thank you very much. Sensible shoes and elastic-waist pants were just not for me. At least, not yet. (I have been known to rock a 4-inch stiletto for a night of dancing while wearing jeans that may or may not be just a wee bit too tight.) What can I say? I'm a rebel.

I suppose this was what is considered a "mid-life crisis." Apparently, I will be living to 88, because my crisis started in January the year I turned 44. I went to bed perfectly happy the night before and woke up a sobbing, depressed mess. Never saw it coming. Scared the hell out of me and everyone in the house. Who flipped the switch? I assumed it was just a bad day, and things would get better. I devoured a pint of Ben & Jerry's and went back to bed. That bad day has lasted, off and on, for three years. (That's a lot of Ben & Jerry's.)

Fortunately, during this time (maybe fate) I met several wonderful women online that became friends and were going through similar emotions. With their support and friendship, I found my way to a dream that I did want to pursue. Writing. Lucky for me, my family has been strong supporters of this new dream.

Writing has led me out of the fire of feeling old and useless and into a new way of seeing my world. I have evolved into someone with dreams again and excitement about where the day may lead. Writing has given me the desire and courage to push out of my comfort zone, take risks, and put myself out into the world. Life is too short not to participate because of an imaginary expiration date in my head. I have met so many terrific people that I wouldn't have if not for realizing that I'm not too old to pursue a new path. I don't need anyone's permission to keep growing and learning every day. I'm not getting old, I'm evolving into the person I was meant to be. Day by day, wrinkle by wrinkle.

I'm still grateful for L'Oreal, Light Ash Blonde 9A hair dye, though. I'm not that evolved.

Some Days, the Cat Wins

It's a tricky business knowing the exact amount of coffee needed to fuel a writing session. Too little and I'm mushy and sluggish. Too much and I'm distracted by having to get up and pee every ten minutes. Plus, every time I get up, the cat steals my spot. Every.time.

My drug of choice is Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Roll Coffee with a generic brand Caramel Chocolate creamer. It's more of a dessert than coffee, really. Some day, I'll put a dollop of whipped cream on top to see if it's as good as I imagine. Maybe a dusting of cinnamon too. A reward for sticking with the messy task of putting thoughts to paper.  Whether my own or those of some poor slob from my imaginings being tortured for my and my readers' cheap thrills. My small attempt at playing a god. Would their worlds be light or dark? Seedy or romantic? Will someone die? I hadn't yet decided. (Insert sinister laugh here.)

I dance with my muse, but I can't hear the tempo of the music. Fast or slow? I end up stepping on toes, so I stop. Take a break. Ignore the last apple fritter and grab a self-righteous banana instead. Remove cat from chair. Start again.

Still, the words won't match the vision. There's a vague, blurred idea that refuses to come into focus. The flickering light sputters out. Back to the kitchen. I eat the damn apple fritter, licking my fingers. No apologies. Remove cat from chair.

An hour later. Five sentences typed. Five sentences deleted. Coffee gone. The page remains blank. Naked, white, and rude. Oh well, there's always tomorrow. Finally, I give up my seat to the cat. She looks smug. Although with a cat, it's hard to be sure. Isn't that their default setting?

In Pieces

I was in pieces. The broken shards of myself scattered here and there. Torn into bits by demanding claws, taking what they wanted for themselves. Outside of myself, looking inward. Seeing the carnage, feeling the pressure. Marrow sucked dry. Nothing left to give. Eggshell bones rattled in the dust. Escape whispered to me, touching my brow. I answered.

A shake and a whistle, and the shattered bits come running back to me. Clutching at the jagged little pieces for dear life, I gather my companion and head for the trail.

As we drive northward, the ugly, functional buildings soon give way to towering trees and dots of wildflowers that pepper the tall grass. Our special place waits for us. Calling our names. We listen, we obey. Unleashing ourselves, stepping forward into that first step. Aw, that first step. Exhaling. Inhaling. The tightness in my chest loosening with each breath. My lungs fully expanding again. The sharp blue-green perfume of the evergreens reaches my nose. My companion’s nose is to the ground, taking it all in. Tail wagging.

Feet sink into the rich, dark earth and toes burrow into the plush grass. A carpet of summer cushioning our steps. The chaotic jungle buzzing within my head begins to shift, slowly, to what lies before me. Smoothing out the wrinkles in my frazzled mind. Sandals exchanged for hiking boots, we begin. Seeking out the dusty little trail under the deep verdant canopy of the familiar oaks and pines, woven with sweet honeysuckle, that will lead me back to myself. One quiet footstep at a time, as the music of the finches and sparrows cheer me on. The red-bellied woodpecker drumming along. Tapping out a pace.  The song of the forest flows through my veins, sustaining me as surely as oxygen. My cathedral of renewal.  Once again, my spirit made whole.

T. Liptak


One late summer evening,
under the criss-cross canopy of fern green branches,
we were celebrating nothing and everything.
A soft, lovely night for being alive.
A night for singing, so we sang.
Soon, the crickets and toads joined in with their chirruping chorus.
Great love within us, reckless and wild.
A daring grew, inherited from the moon.
Taking in all the light.
Eternity was made for the stars,
yet, tonight was made for us.
                                                                                                     T. Liptak

Memories of Mardi Gras, 2016

I'd like to say the rich colors and sounds are what I remember the most about Mardi Gras.  The floats with all their festive splendor, the beads available in a rainbow of happy colors, and the art galleries with splashes of local hues certainly tucked themselves into my memory.  However, as in New Iberia, it was again the weather that made the strongest impression.  At least, at first.

The generous sunshine just could not make up for the misery of the constant strong winds whipping around us.  After getting settled into our cozy hotel room on Poydras Street, the first order of business soon became buying me a warm knit hat at the corner drugstore. Still suffering from allergies, I was a bit grumpy about the less than perfect weather for my Mardi Gras debut.  As we got to the corner drugstore within walking distance of our hotel, there were maybe two sad little beanie things left on the picked over display.  Apparently, I was not the only one feeling grumpy (and frozen) about the unexpected change in the weather.  The ugly little cement-colored hat that itched my forehead and squished my hair into a mess of "hat head" quickly became my prized possession. Not quite the souvenir you think of when you imagine Mardi Gras, but my ears were appreciative.  If we would have had more time between dinner and the first parade that night, I would have hunted down a pair of gloves as well.  Better luck next time, fingers.  Oh well, thank goodness for pockets and adrenaline.  I was so excited to finally be at Mardi Gras, that the cold got easier to ignore as the night wore on and the festivities began.

If you are unfamiliar with New Orleans, LA,  and are looking for hotel recommendations, I highly recommend the Drury Inn and Suites.  It's within walking distance of Bourbon Street, the French Quarter, the Arts District, and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  Yet, it's reasonably quiet (even during Mardi Gras).  Also, they provide snacks and three complimentary beverages of your choice in their dining area each afternoon.  Things like popcorn, baked potatoes, soup, chicken fingers, salad, and nachos made a great "pick-me-up" before spending nights listening to music and strolling through the streets. They offered a couple of wine choices, several different cocktails, and a couple of beers. (My favorite was the Tequila Sunrises as the bartender loaded me up with Maraschino cherries. Yum!)  One of our favorite times of day was stopping by for a snack and cocktails before heading out for the night.  It was a good time to sit back, people watch and make plans for the evening.

Monday, February 8th, after an early dinner that evening, we made our way to Canal Street to pick out our spot to watch the Krewe of Orpheus Mardi Gras Parade.  The crowds were surprisingly thin at this location, and we were able to get a wonderful vantage point.  All of the parades were huge and seemed to snake throughout the entire city, which allows almost everyone to get a front-row seat to the action.  So many excited children were sprinkled around me.  The wide-eyed looks of amazement on their faces were priceless as they took in all the colors and trinkets flying about.  I suspect my face might have had that same look.

My first thought as I settled in to watch the first of the floats appear was that there was no way the narrow, quaint streets could possibly hold these larger than life works of art on wheels.  Some of the floats depicted creatures so lifelike, that you expected them to speak and move on their own.  Nestled onto each float were the Krewe members armed with their stash of beads and other parade souvenirs just ready for the chunking.  I quickly learned to keep my eyes on what was right in front of me and not be distracted because if not, beads could come whipping at your head at any time.  Yeah, you only have to learn that one time the hard way to remember it.  Trust me.  Flying string of beads, tender cheek, not a pleasant combination.  I did get a bunch of beads.  (Note:  the colors do rub off on clothing, but a good stain remover will get the ink out.)

Mixed in with the floats were marching bands from the local schools, and people decked out in unbelievable costumes from the various city clubs and organizations.  Flambeaux carried lit torches as they strolled between the floats.  Some people were handing them money as they passed by the crowd.  I'm not sure what the significance of this was, maybe donations to the organizations represented?

After the parade, we ventured down to Bourbon Street and WOW! A mass of people moving in one slow tide.  A mass of very happy (yes, some VERY happy) revelers.  Let the beads begin. I'm so sad that I wasn't able to get pictures of the crowds and festivities, but it would not have been wise to be fumbling with a camera or a phone in that crowd.  Not only were there bodies crammed all around trying to get different places, but there were beads covering the ground.  It made walking a challenge. (Or was that the Hurricanes?)  I received several beads and a marriage proposal. :)  (No, I did not flash anyone anything.)  The crowd was very well behaved.  That could have been because there was a heavy police presence.  The officers were on horses, which were so calm and patient.  Of course, everyone wanted to pet them.

We did manage to swim out of the tide and go to one of my favorite places in New Orleans.  Madame Laveau's House of Voodoo. A tiny little shop that fascinates me.  Maybe one day, I'll have to get a psychic reading done.  Not that I believe in any of that stuff.  Although, while we were there, I put a penny in a wishing box and made a wish that came true the next day.  Oooo . . .

Dinner that night was at Brennan's on 417 Royal Street.  It was recommended to us by a wonderful gallery curator that we met earlier that day in the French Quarter.  Not only was the food amazing (I had a creamy Vegetable Alfredo dish that I can still taste), but it was a great place to do some people watching.  Eric had a pecan-crusted catfish, grilled veggies, and "popcorn" rice (?) with an apple-flavored craft beer that all got a thumbs-up.

Tuesday morning, Krewe of Zulu and Krewe of Rex parades began bright and early and lasted most of the morning.  A festive atmosphere hovered over the area all day.  (Although it did make getting around the city a bit complicated for a few hours.)

After a breakfast of eggs, fruit, and yogurt for me, and waffles and sausage for my husband (which is also included at the hotel), we headed down to the French Quarter to the market and a walk along the Mississippi River to watch the steam engines chug in and out of the harbor.  This is a beautiful area to sit on a bench and look at the water.  We also did some shopping at the market place.

Having walked off breakfast by now, we decided to stop in Cafe' Du Monde for coffee (well, hot chocolate for me) and the required traditional beignets when you're in New Orleans.  If you've ever had them, you know they are so worth the calorie overload.  Deep fried goodness. The inside eatery stayed packed with people the whole time we were in New Orleans, so we ate outside on the steps across from Jackson Square.  One tip from me:  don't wear all black when you're planning on eating them.  Apparently, black is a magnet for powdered sugar.  An eating adventure made even more fun by those persistent forty mile an hour gales popping up just when you had forgotten about them.  (Always when I was taking a bite, it seemed.) I think I was getting powdered sugar out of my eyebrows all day.

Our last full day of the trip, we went down to the Arts District to visit the art galleries, museums, parks, and enjoy the flavor of the area.

With the exception of Ash Wednesday, which is a quiet, reflective day that all the shops close down to honor, the city is definitely crackling with fun and energy during Mardi Gras.  I want to go back and celebrate it again soon.  The people are so warm and friendly, and none of the horror stories I heard about the crowds were true at all.  Lots of wonderful memories of this magical city were made during Mardi Gras, 2016.