To quote Walt Whitman, “I am multitudes:”

  • silence-loving and serious
  • quirky and curioussusan
  • flummoxed by facts and numbers
  • entranced by mysteries, the lost, and unknown
  • lover of trees, poems, books, and sky
  • mitten-knitter, cushion sitter
  • city walker, perpetual student
  • sister, lover, mother, friend, granny, auntie, used-to-be-daughter
  • glorious nobody
  • out-of-tune singer, buddha bell ringer

I was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on the shore of Lake Winnebago and learned to ice skate as soon as I could walk.  In the ’60s during my four years in Madison at the University of Wisconsin, I listened to the Beatles and joined the protests against the war in Viet Nam.  Then came marriage and graduate school in Cambridge, Massachusetts where we lived for the next five years and where our two children were born.  After returning to the DC area and finishing my Masters at the University of Maryland, we left for three years in Tanzania where I worked in a clinic with Mama Phoebe and taught sewing and English in Swahili and fell in love with the red earth, the baobab trees, and the women who grew peanuts and walked everywhere.

Stateside again, I completed a PhD and learned to listen to the people who came to the clinic where I worked as a psychotherapist and later to my private office overlooking Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C.

The search for my father who was killed in WWII before I had a chance to be seen by him, led me to Ann Mix and the American War Orphans Network (AWON).  Ann and I interviewed dozens of others whose fathers had been killed in WWII and together wrote Lost in the Victory, a book that broke the silence surrounding mention of our fathers’ deaths in war and how their deaths affected our lives.  The search for my father grew into an ever-deepening connection and I now feel as if I know him.

Then I began the search for my mother’s two sisters, Dorothy and Elinor, family I had also never met. Dorothy was easy to find and her laughter stays with me.  The biggest surprise was finding Elinor alive at age 94 and then finding her children, my cousins.  Parts of the story of my searches have been published in the Washingtonian, Reader’s Digest, the Mindfulness Bell, and Lost in the Victory.  A more complete account of the searches can be found in my second book, The Beauty of What Remains.

A trip to Ladakh in northern India with a friend opened the door to meditation and I rediscovered an inner spaciousness I had known in the slower life in Africa and missed deeply. Extended retreats at Deer Park Monastery in California and Plum Village in France have taught me new ways to see myself and the world.  Meditation and mindfulness have become a way of life as are writing and painting.