Monthly Archives: October 2008


Prompt today from

which said, in part:

…So in honor of the confusing speech of this time, in honor of repetitive talking points, in honor of verbal nonsense, in honor of lies and not-quite truths, in honor of “straight-talk” (which seems neither straight nor talk — discuss) and especially in honor of 50-cent verbiages, I present to you your poetry mission: Write a poem that somehow hinges on the word echolalia. Perhaps it can be the title of your poem, or the literal center point, or maybe just the crux, or pivot. Whatever you do with it, let’s work together to put meaning back into our words — let’s take our language back through poetry!

This is the Wikipedia definition of echolalia: the repetition of vocalizations made by another person. Echolalia can be present in autism, Tourette syndrome, aphasia, Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome, developmental disability, schizophrenia, Asperger syndrome and, occasionally, other forms of psychopathology. When done involuntarily, it is considered a tic. The word “echolalia” is derived from the Greek meaning “echo” or “to repeat” and “babbling, meaningless talk.”

you told me to cut it
with the serenades.

too many notes
you said.


the echolalia
does not stop
in the anxiety of silence

only moves down
another chakra
like a straw with many leaks.



Filed under poetry, read write poem

The best laid plans

I live in the most magnificently, impossibly beautiful place on earth.  I do not know how I ended up here or how I know I belong in this place, right now, but I do.  (I reach for the camera… where??? Heaven knows.)

I had a crisis of trust today.  4:something pm and I have not accomplished all I intended.  I do not know where I will be living in six days.  I am lonely and unsure.  About everything.  How have I put myself in this situation?  What to do?  I know, in my heart and being, that trust and joy and perfection is available to me right now.  But how to simply abandon the fear?  The fear feels real.

I want to eat chocolate and nap.  I do eat chocolate.  I check e-mail and do half-hearted work instead of nap.  I decide to read the blog of Laura Diamondstone, our current Big Sur Artist-in-Residence who I have been actively involved in getting here for an 8-week residency through the Big Sur Arts Initiative. I fall into her words and experience so far.  Her appreciation for this place overflows like a blessing.  I am so profoundly grateful to live in a place where everyone recognizes the majesty.  It is lost on no one who has eyes.  And there is always someone who is remembering when I’m not, who can help bring me back.  Today it is Laura.  She helps me remember, and I get up to go on a walk.

Small, stingy tears start leaking, as I take my steps and listen to the perfectly human voice that comes forth.  This voice of such an understandably fearful, human girl who just wants to know where she will be living on Monday and how the money will come in if she follows her heart.  Who misses companionship and wants to turn back around on this lonely and beautiful road every time she thinks of mountain lions and loose dogs.  She picks up a rock and keeps walking.

Her want and will to surrender to trust is inexplicable and powerful.  She needs to know that there is an easier, more aligned alternative to life than to arm-wrestle it.  More leaking.  She walks by the broken house.  The house that after architects and planning and county soil specialists and permit approval, broke right in two when the ground slid out from under it, only weeks before it was to be occupied. The house that with the best laid plans, now sits empty, broken and caught up in lawsuits.

She makes a deal with the universe.  One week.  One week she will give herself and her heart entirely over to life.  She will banish worry and fear with absolution.  She will not let either make a single decision and she will walk through every door open to her that aligns with her intention.  No matter what.  If it does not work, if nothing opens, she will go back to arm-wrestling.

She sees a loose dog and turns around. Then remembering, no fear decisions, turns around again.  She stands and faces the dog.  She asks silently and respectfully for passage and walks more steps. The dog stays looking. She soon feels the natural cadence of her journey close, nods appreciation and goodbye to the new Aussie Shephard friend and without fanfare, turns to start the climb back up the dirt road.

The sporty red car of friend Christian turns the bend and is coming toward. The crunchy roll of dirt and gravel under the wheels is reassuring.  The girl smiles and waves and he stops.  She leans in the window and he tells her she is beautiful, walking on the road.  She says the view makes her look good.  They chat and within three sentences are negotiating her next house-sitting gig.  She will move in on Saturday.  She has 12 more days of bed and home while he is in Maui.  She throws the rock back to the mountain and follows him down to his house, taking careful mental notes on dog food, sprinkler systems and TV remotes.  He tells her there is a light around her.  That it is strong and powerful and fortuitous.  She hears the universe smiling and thanks him and it and herself and looks out at the sunset.

There is a fox and a wood spider waiting for her at home, and she greets each of them before they go along their way.


Filed under life


I was driving down Highway One tonight in a delightful, blissed out, open heart, giddy, love-for-humanity place. I saw a bumpersticker on the car in front of me – something demanding-sounding that I don’t remember – and I had a sudden little fantasy: what if every car in the world had only bumper stickers that were kind, loving reminders?  Stickers everywhere that said things like “Receive.” or “Enjoy.” or “Thank you.”

Maybe I’ll start a business.

This reminded me of all the little wisdoms and reassurances I’ve been writing for myself every morning, which reminded me of a list of “good parent messages” that my friend Linda dictated to me over a glass of Pinot at the Big Sur Bakery the other day.  I know this list is part of some probably copyrighted teaching I should credit**.  Someone, presumably with a psycho-something background, created this list – a conglomeration of the primary messages we (ideally) should have received (but almost none of us did) as kids.  The list is intended to be something practiced and spoken by the internalized parent we all now carry around in us.

For some reason tonight, sitting in the middle of my spontaneous compassion for all of us and our foibles and perfections, I want more than anything for me and you (yes, you) and the whole wide wounded world to hear and receive and know each of these things. Unflinchingly and in your bones.

I love you.

I want you.

You are special to me.

I see you and hear you.

I love you and I give you permission to be different from me.

It’s not what you do but who you are that I love.

I’ll take care of you.

I’ll be there for you.

I’ll be there for you even when you die.

You don’t have to be alone anymore.

You don’t have to be afraid anymore.

You can trust me.

Sometimes I will tell you no and that’s because I love you.

My love will make you well.

I welcome and cherish your love.

(you might want to read it again.


out loud.)

Can you imagine what a world it would be if we all knew these things?

As Linda said to me, on the dark days, reciting this list can have the miraculous effect of actually feeling like someone else is speaking it – that “it’s like drops of water on a wilting flower.”  I love that.

**Since posting this, I have since learned that credit goes to Jack Rosenberg and Beverly Morse. (Thanks!)


Filed under offerings

Proposition 8: why you should you vote NO

I’ve never made a political foray onto my blog before, and I don’t plan on making it a regular practice.  But there is a proposition on the California ballot this November election that I feel so very connected to, and I must speak.  I have been in two long-term relationships with women, and have many, many gay and lesbian friends who will be very directly impacted by this ballot initiative.  This is not one of those ballot check boxes that is filled out and will be forgotten next year.  This is an unprecedented and permanent reversal of rights for a substantial population of people.

I’ve submitted the following letter to the editor to six different regional papers and so far I’ve heard from the Carmel Pine Cone, who will be featuring it in tomorrow’s paper.  If it is useful to you, please feel free to copy and distribute it to anyone you know who might not be fully educated on the issue.

In love,  Lisa

Supporters of Proposition 8, those that seek to permanently eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry by changing the California Constitution, are fond of holding “activist judges” responsible for the fact that California is currently one of three states in the U.S. where same-sex marriage is legal. The law was indeed a result of a judicial ruling by a Republican-dominated court, citing “equal respect and dignity of marriage is a basic civil right”. The majority opinion went on to say, “An individual’s sexual orientation — like a person’s race or gender — does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights.” But supporters of Prop. 8 say the definition of marriage is a legislative issue, not to be determined by the courts.

The fact is that the legislative process, and in fact the American majority, will never be the source of advocacy for the minority. It will always be the courts, it will always be acts of defiance like the San Francisco marriages, and it will always be our Constitution. If we took a vote for “same-ethnicity marriage” in 1958 when 93 percent of white Americans opposed inter-racial marriage, or heaven forbid, that majority amended the Constitution to define it as “two people of the same ethnic background,” the civil-rights movement would have been much longer in the making.

Our founding fathers created the judicial system to protect the Constitution, but who will protect the Constitution from us?

What’s true is that the vast majority of Proposition 8 supporters are conservative religious leaders who, as directly quoted from their website, are “fighting to preserve God’s design” and who believe somehow that same-sex marriage “threatens to forever muzzle Bible believing Christians.” It’s understandable then why so many Republicans and Democrats alike, including the Governor, oppose this constitutional amendment. It’s a dangerous precedent that caters to those most invested in perpetuating a culture war.

Voting NO on Proposition 8 takes nothing away from anyone, and in fact will likely be a huge fiscal boon to the state. Voting yes invalidates the legal marriages of tens of thousands of loving couples.

It is my hope that anyone who feels threatened by this look closely at these marriages, at these families, and then look closely at themselves and ask – “Who am I to discourage love?”


A similar, earlier version of this letter was published in the Boulder Daily Camera in 2004:


Filed under politics, writing

Lily in the Valley

Vernon Bush

I learned a new gospel song last weekend from friend and superstar Vernon Bush called Lily in the Valley.  Words, “there’s a lily in the valley… a bright and glorious star…” lots of times, followed by a bunch of “amens.” It’s a good song. An uplifting song. It’s a simple, joy-filled tune about finding the good.

Finding the good is easy to do, I find, when I’m not in a valley. But today was a swampy, off-kilter, oh-no, not-at-all-comfortable-in-my-britches kind of low down yuck day, and now I’m not in bed yet because I don’t want to go to sleep feeling bad.  My brain, my darling brain, is a broken record, tormenting me with its perpetual skipping to the accumulated list of everything that went so very wrong today.  It is instant gratification, like eating a whole roll of cookie dough (if you like that kind of thing) to review and add to this list.  It feels like I’m in an endurance contest of trials and each of these wrong things is a notch in my belt. I grow ever more righteous, resentful, frustrated and victimized as the day progresses.

And I find, after focusing all day on this list, that I feel like I missed a day of my life.  I had a few good moments there, where I stopped the record for a time or pulled the reigns in on the momentum, but then another thing would go wrong and I was kicking the dirt again.  It is compelling now, to want to review the day in a kind of audit, making a power point presentation out of it and putting big yellow arrows at all the moments when I made poor choices.  Or big red warning signs on situations I walked into that I know tend to make me grumpy.  I think about all the decisions I could make – wear different clothes, do more yoga, drink more water, quit my job, never talk to people again – that will save me from this fate in the future. I’ve done this for 34 years.  It hasn’t worked yet.

How to stop, so wholly and completely, that the strength of the momentum of this habit can’t take me on it’s ride?  It feels today like turning physics on its head.  A thing in action tends to stay in action.

This is why I write.

Somehow, somewhere, whenever I sit down to write and ask a sincere question, the answer comes.

Just like that.

Now it came, like a tiny whisper from deep in the canyon of my left ribcage, saying “Make a list of the lillies.”

Ok then.

Things I loved about today:

  • Pumpkin pie with whipped cream.
  • Fresh laundry.
  • The neck crack I’ve been waiting for for weeks.
  • Sweet and kind words on my blog from friends and strangers.
  • Saying hi to the new guy, and knowing I made his day better.
  • A confirmed “yes!” from a donor for a $500 sponsorship.
  • Singing along with Ani Difranco in the car.
  • Firefighters.
  • Kittens.
  • This perfect, dark, crickety, warm night, and the pjs I’m about to climb into.


Filed under life, writing

the wind today

Prompt compliments of:

the wind today won’t stop.
and this is no warm, gentle, autumn wind,
mind you.
this is wind turned loose from its pen.
this is not the science of rain,
this is a whisper with velocity,
shouting slam poetry in exclamations and anapests over a philharmonic of chimes.
a pestilent end to silence everywhere.
this is a tricksy and stubborn wind with arguably devious motives.
(oh I saw you this morning, when you jabbed my espresso off the car roof, yes I did.)
this is a hulking and hooded figure, staggering by with a flask under his coat, too close – turning to wheeze, laugh and yell at anyone who will listen.
(do we have a choice?)
this enormous, interminable sigh of a wind is navigating cracks in my igloo,
whipping through my coat as if it were made of threads of light
exploring hips and throat and belly.
this is a cold and brutal loving –
a thief in my field –
an unwanted insight.

I’m more tenacious than you realize.
my incandescence cannot be put out.


Filed under life, poetry, read write poem

In the village

I am really really wanting to figure this out.  This thing I do. This way I get pulled out into the circle of the people I’m with and lose my own feet. This way my consciousness gets right up and goes and sits on your lap.

I am the fern who grows only into the little space offered by my neighboring ivy and sage.

I am the bright foreign exchange student who knows philosophies with intuitive insight but cannot say “I want a loaf of bread” in English.

I am the small child who knows how to shield his mother from anger but cannot tie his shoes.

I will tell you what I think, then read your face to learn my wisdom.

Was I brilliant or naive tonight?

I am a prophet with him and an empty shell with her.

Where is my own heart and the knowing of things when you stand here?

My mind is looking for the thing it alone obstructs.

I try relating with form where there is none.

There is no this for figuring.

Only coming back here, to where I live.  Alone and amongst all of you.


Filed under life, writing