Secrets, Migraines, and I’m Suddenly Fat {Personal Reflections}

Life has been moving fast, and it seems
I rarely come up for air to simply chat anymore.
So today it’s just me and you on the rocks
catching up, friend to friend.

I wish I could say life has been all skittles and beer…
there’s the occasional Corona sighting, but also
pain, BRCA, traveling, parenting, disappointment,
awe, joy, studying and deep peace.

But let’s start with embarrassing secrets and superficial crap.

photos by Melissa James Studio

My clothes don’t fit: I have been living with
chronic migraine with auras since October,
and recently, my doctors divorced me from prescriptions,
pain relievers, and artificial sweeteners (Diet Coke).

Is it a secret I am gay for Diet Coke?
I don’t know.
I have maybe compensated for the loss by eating,
watching a menopausal inner tube impossibly inflate
my waist…and with no energy to work out or
walk off evil pastries from the new donut belly,
I do not recognize this unwaify body…good thing I am
far too spiritually evolved for vanity. Wait, wut?

my photo – Eric Kayser in Paris

Speaking of Spiritual Schoolgirls:
In addition to consuming quantities
of baked goods, I have been a student this year
in a cohort for a spiritual formation certificate program.

It has been life changing work involving daily studies
and four retreats at a restful seminary sanctuary shown here.
The teachers and folks in my cohort are now treasured friends,
and the whole challenging experience is a Godsend.

So much beautiful scenery this year.

Arizona Escapes: In April,
I experienced a visit of a lifetime in Arizona
with family. My mom has been struggling
with intense pain, and we sisters gathered to
help her explore holistic options and bring
peace (lots of singing and dancing this visit).

I am always knocked out by how God/Love/Divine Mystery/
the universe/use whatever love language you like here
does not waste a single bit of pain; in fact,
nothing is ever wasted; it all gets recycled into
meaningful beauty…
I went to help my mom?
Ha! Her pain continues to be a teacher for her
AND her daughter.

my parents’ backyard

read about the surprise brunch for my mom

As you may have surmised from so many hints
dropped lately, my husband and I bought a little
place near my mom’s in the desert to fix up and are
furnishing it on a shoestring (hello, craigslist!).
YES. We have been far too busy this year!

Hello Lovely Desert Fixer Upper!

So a part of this Arizona trip involved my parents
helping me feather our new getaway.

With a view of a butte and mountains,
who knows? Maybe I will host small lovely retreats
for souls who crave peace, sunshine, and spiritual
renewal. (We have yet to sleep one night there,
and I can’t wait to return for more prettying and DIY.)

my desert backyard at the getaway

in my backyard!

New York Adventures:

In May, we traveled to the Hudson River Valley

for a writing workshop taught by bestselling author
Beverly Donofrio.
(seen the Drew Barrymore film
“Riding in Cars With Boys?” That’s Bev’s memoir.)

Donofrio is a brilliant instructor, and I will let you know about
future retreats/workshops you can attend.

In the mean time, you must must read her latest book
Astonished and also Looking for Mary and certainly
the bestseller Riding in Cars with Boys.
(I’ll earn a few pennies of commission at no extra cost
to you if you click through these affiliate links! yay me!)

So the writing retreat was at Holy Cross monastery which is
directly across the river from the Vanderbilt Mansion, and
our room was a cozy one on the third floor…

a typical former Monk’s cell, now a guestroom

While in New York, we visited the grave of
Jesuit priest/paleontologist
Teilhard de Chardin
(I am a fan).
The cemetery is actually on the grounds of the
Culinary Institute of America.

Overlooking the graves are these magnificent figures

While in Hyde Park, we visited FDR’s home
and the Vanderbilt mansion with its beautiful
italian gardens.

The home of Franklin D. Roosevelt

 In the Roosevelts backyard…their view.

The Vanderbilt Mansion

We had the gardens to ourselves…just magic.

The pool area

The fragrance from the roses in bloom was out of this world.

Holy Cross Monastery…my husband and I hiked down to the river and were treated to this.

I have been tweaking/toying with
ideas for professionalizing, monetizing, and
expanding, and what I know is:
I don’t want to plaster the blog
with ads, I don’t want posts to
feel like ads, and I don’t want to lose
my renegade flavor after a history of
blogging what I want about what I want,
when I want…afterall, I have attended just one
official event for professional bloggers (ummmmmm,
I didn’t KNOW it was THAT kind of gathering…
I naively thought it was for bloggers to meet, eat, and laugh!)
and at that shindig I realized I am the posterchild for amateur.
I was not doing a single blogging thing “properly” (no blog income, no affiliates, no pinterest or FB account, etc).
If you have opinions about these matters, spill…

Back at home, I have been experimenting with making rose petal clay.

Sometimes I turn fading roses inside out…just look at the velvet goodness!

After drying the rose petals and crumbling them, I cook them for hours.

With the clay, I form beads, and the drying out takes weeks and weeks.

Still a writer:
My education/parenting articles are published in print magazines every month, but no time to write new pieces!
I am working on a book I will keep you posted about…

I’ll tell you this, the book either has
nothing to do with new life being breathed
into an old run down structure OR everything.

Every weekend, find me on the back of my husband’s vintage motorcycle.

We’re still renovating…oh, yeah, we are still working
on the house and getting closer, though it appears impossible
to nail down a landscaper to begin transforming the outside
to look like the Vanderbilt (or whatev).

Gardens at the Vanderbilt Mansion

Current adventure:
Tomorrow, I will travel to another monastery
for Wisdom School…
to continue the work of placing the mind in the heart.
(Does this make no sense to you? More later.)

So that is what life has looked like around here…
studying every day, bizarre cravings, cancer, rose petal clay,
books, bible, hammers and dust flying, tight jeans,
flights to the desert, mansions, motorcycles and monk cells,
sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and the kind of love that keeps
inspiring new courage and fresh leaps of faith.

i relate to these creatures in interesting ways.

If you are still reading…wow, I am humbled.

Thanks for joining me on the rocks,
and peace to you right where you are.




  1. June 21, 2016 / 8:02 pm

    Michele – I read and reread every word in this post and am in awe on so many levels. Your honesty with health matters is strangely refreshing and brings comfort. Your writing/spiritual studies and crafting with clay are shared on a such a personal and spiritual forum that one can't help but be drawn in. Your vision for style and beauty will reflect in your new AZ home project and all those who know, email, or follow you are blessed by each fun, honest, and insightful word you write. All this being said, I say you blog the way you want, when you want, and how you want. Personally I don't get involved with any social media aside from a few Pinterest boards and like it that way. No FB, Tweeting, or Instagraming for me. Ads are a tough one as some are doing very well working them the right away and other sites have me leaving way too early as I can't even read the content due to pop-ups, subscriber requests, or the latest commercial on 2017 car models. Too bad as I was brought to the site for a reason but left due to frustration. Your response about an "apron revolution" to me on my last post leads me to suggest to you a "blog peaceful" revolution for consideration….start it up Girlfriend as I know you will knock it out of the park! Many hugs coming your way!

    • July 2, 2016 / 3:44 pm

      what a breath of fresh air you always bring to this blog. thank you for your encouragement and kindness. i love what you are building over there at blue cupboard, and can you see me with my denim & linen pom poms cheering you on across the miles? yep. peace.

  2. June 21, 2016 / 9:53 pm

    Oh dear.. I just deleted my comment! more time..

    There is so much content here Michele. I don't know where to begin! When you said "on the rocks" I was hopping for a cocktail of sorts, ha;)

    Glad you found a place in Arizona. It looks darling and will make a perfect little retreat. Your Craig's List finds will allow for you to create that easy, peaceful vibe that you love so much.

    The certificate program sounds incredible. Slowing down and finding that peaceful place is the only way out. Bless your mom .. and you AND your sister. You are amazing women.

    On blogging ~ it is what it is and seems to be forever changing as far as platforms go. I believe I've crossed over : and I'm not sure if a good thing or not. Changing just happened and I'll see where all this takes me. I will say that the time factor makes blogging tough for working folks and you also need to be computer savvy and have a team of professional to make things happen. I've never attended a conference. I'm doing as much as I can and that's all the juice this girl has to give. I'll leave it at that;) xoL


    • June 21, 2016 / 11:59 pm

      I will be Diet Coke free for a year August 12th. It's not been hard. I'll tell you why – the Aspartame was wrecking my nervous system (it turns to alcohol once it hits your system). My doc initially thought I had MS or an autoimmune disorder. I had bouts of vertigo, unable to speak and memory loss. Happy to say – today I'm in great health. Good luck to you. And to your readers – please ban this poison from your diets!

    • July 2, 2016 / 3:51 pm

      thanks for all this feedback, leslie. your site looks absolutely amazing, and it has been a pleasure to watch it grow as you enhance it with your signature beauty. i think you have definitely hit on an important point: i am pretty sure ALL of us have full time jobs outside of blogging so how on earth can one keep up with all the constant flux in media? i am taking my time as i decide what steps to take to improve, and in the meantime i remain inspired by your own evolution. peace.

  3. June 22, 2016 / 4:39 pm

    A very raw and beautiful post! Your blog is wonderful, please don't change a thing. As far as ads, Facebook (shudder), I feel the same way. Your blog is fresh and clean without all that.

    Sending good vibes your way!

    • July 2, 2016 / 3:51 pm

      merci for reading and your kind words, rhonda. peace.

  4. June 22, 2016 / 4:40 pm

    A very raw and beautiful post! Your blog is wonderful, please don't change a thing. As far as ads, Facebook (shudder), I feel the same way. Your blog is fresh and clean without all that.

    Sending good vibes your way!

  5. June 22, 2016 / 7:13 pm

    Dear Michele,
    First, thank you so much for the kind note you left for me. Your sharing has helped me more than you can imagine. Your strength both inside and out, and accomplishments, goals truly inspire me. Knowing that I am not alone, even though it saddens me that a dear blog friend has much to deal with in everyday life, does give solace.

    As far as blogging and social media, as you know I take breaks when I feel the need to focus on life's priorities. I have not really monetized my site (just a few sponsors)and try to keep the look clean, inviting and not intrusive.

    Keep on being your beautiful, spiritual self!
    The Arts by Karena

    • July 2, 2016 / 3:52 pm

      you are truly a treasured blog friend, karena. thank you for this. peace.

  6. June 22, 2016 / 10:05 pm

    I enjoyed getting together on the rocks… your Sharing has given me a Peace about a hectic Life still being able to be a place one can find Serenity and Purpose, even during the tough stuff. As for Blogging, I too am apparently doing everything wrong, so can't help you there… in fact, if I don't have the Grandson Tech Guru helping me set anything up I wouldn't have even what I currently have and is more than enough for this Tech Challenged Gramma to handle! *smiles* Yes, it would be great to have a passive income flow from something like Blogging that I love to do anyway, but I can never get the monetizing thingy to work properly and I agree, don't want my Blog to begin to look like a Biz Blog, which it isn't and will never be on Purpose. Glad you had a great trip out here to the Arizona Desert and found a little slice of fixer-upper Paradise here on my own Home Turf… I Love the Desert… and Arizona… the harshness of the environment has Taught me a lot about what is absolutely necessary and what cannot survive no matter how much you nurture it!… Hugs and Blessings from the Arizona Desert… Dawn… The Bohemian

    • July 2, 2016 / 3:55 pm

      i hope we can connect one day in arizona, dawn. and you have given me so much pause with your wisdom here. YES! the desert is teaching me so much and deepening me in mysterious ways. and i think it is already apparent, i have fallen in love with the mystery, kicking fear and certainty to the curb. thank you for your honesty and all the love. long live bohemia! peace.

  7. June 23, 2016 / 4:46 pm

    So many things to touch on here, I too have been on a spiritual journey, one of holistic health and that's been going on for many years way back in my 20's and have found that many things lead back to peace, prayer, and faith.
    Love that you are keeping yourself busy with travels, learning, and taking in spiritual food.
    As for your migraines I suffered for years and the. After my second child they went away and rarely get one, but my daughter has been on years of high doses of medications and recently I am turning back to homeopathic natural treatments.
    Just yesterday an an old world lady told me to take a ….. RAW DUCK EGG! And blend it into a smoothy and drink it down and never again a migraine so we are looking into this for my daughter, now the dick egg hunt, and that shouldn't be to difficult with ducks at hand in our area of the desert.
    As well as a natural health food store close by. Perhaps you can look into it. Stay clear of chemicals, process foods, perfumes, additives for awhile see if that changes.

    I also am intrigued and have all faith that Craigslist will furnish your home amazingly, you have that knack for finding amazing pieces. Your desert AZ. Home is nothing short of a fixer-upper! The exterior is perfect for its terrain and love the shutters. Looking so forward to its furnishings.
    As for your moms pain how about chiropractic treatment, a lady I know was wheel chair and bed bound until good chiropractic treatment regularly got her up and moving about naturally. I totally believe in it to control my bad terrible headaches, and also will keep my daughters migraines under control.

    I love reading your blog postings you always have something of value to say, and authentically real.

    See you soon beautiful, and don't worry about the pounds, I bet it has added sex-appeal more then fat.


    • July 2, 2016 / 4:06 pm

      merci, ma belle, for all this personal wisdom poured out for my benefit. i hope the raw egg works. as for me, i am under a headache specialist's care and adhering strictly to his instructions–it is not fun but i am focused on the prize at the end. the pain has slowed me down, forced me to stay in bed, and limited my social life. yet i am trusting in the love that is guiding me to a higher place…trusting enough to bear this temporary sentence of chronic pain. the weight gain is not sexy, i assure you. maybe if i exercise, we can call the new fatness "curvy" but even that seems unlikely. dick eggs! ha! you bring so much life and love (and now laughter) with your words, dore. peace.

  8. June 23, 2016 / 4:48 pm

    Ooops* ignor the dick egg auto correct…its DUCK EGG! dang that spell check !

  9. June 25, 2016 / 2:11 pm

    I love your blog. I can't comment on the benefit of ads on your blog (i.e. revenue) as I am simply a reader and follower. As such, there are many blogs I have unsubscribed from as the pop ups and larger-than-life ads are irritating and actually stress me out! But I do understand bloggers want revenue the revenue to help offset the cost of blogging. Where is that happy medium??
    And I agree with the suggestion to get off processed foods and diet soda (really, all sodas). My significant other has battled aggressive prostate cancer for 6 years and we strongly believe his diet (plant based, not processed) has made all the difference. So has the addition of essential oils.

    • July 2, 2016 / 4:09 pm

      thank you for this feedback. i so appreciate it. finding that happy medium is definitely where i am headed. best to you and your partner as you lead an anti-cancer lifestyle. so important. thank you for your endorsement of a healthier diet as i know you are right. the artificial stuff should have been eliminated from my diet years ago. plants plants plants! peace to you.

  10. June 25, 2016 / 3:23 pm

    My gosh, you are on a journey, Michelle! Thanks for your honesty and bravery in sharing this with us! You are an inspiration! I love seeing the beautiful monasteries and statues. So peaceful. Blessings to you,

    • July 2, 2016 / 4:12 pm

      thank you for being a creator of enduring beauty in the face of pain, holly. your story and art are with me as i journey and they bring so much hope to my heart. thank you for taking risks and sharing your work with the world. they matter and bring peace. love to you.

  11. June 26, 2016 / 7:29 pm

    I read every single word, and loved reading your thoughts. You are so articulate and heartfelt in what you write. I love your soulful spirit and your constant search for inner peace and the way you share it with your readers. As far as the blog thing. I am with you. I wrote a semi-mission statement when I started blogging and it states, no advertising. If I advertise then I feel I am working for someone else and my blog is about teaching and giving back the knowledge I have gained in my 65years, which almost half of that was as a decorating consultant. God has given me a wonderful life, not a perfect life, but wonderful and I never want to step out of what he has for me each day. Keep doing what you are doing my sweet Michele, love you bunches!!

    • July 2, 2016 / 4:21 pm

      thank you for this wisdom, friend. you have done such a beautiful job with your site and staying true to your objectives and mission. you have all reminded me of how important it is that we remain a diverse, colorful group. a rainbow of bloggers! i love your words about keeping in step…merci, lovely.

  12. July 2, 2016 / 3:59 pm

    thank you for all this lovely, kerrie. contemplative hearts will always find each other, yes? i appreciate being reminded that blogging is never one size fits all, and we all are finding our way and making it work for our lifestyles and aptitudes. i hope you retreat at the monastery soon and will love hearing about it. i still haven't swapped the tables!! it's all about the outdoors now. peace.

  13. July 13, 2016 / 1:00 am

    Michele I've been wanting to get back here ever since I this came through my feed. There's so much here that got me thinking. First of all, congratulation on embarking on your spiritual formation certification program it looks like just the kind of depth work that would inspire you; I would love to know more about the program and what your plans are afterwards. I can't say enough about the power of new and challenging experiences like this—I had my version last year. The yoga teacher training program was utterly transformative for reasons that have a lot to do with the timing of my life and Me. Where I am right now. I imagine it's similar with you.
    Also, I can't believe you went to a writing seminar with Beverly D. How wonderful. I read her book on Mary years ago and was always intrigued by her story. I've sort of lost contact with her as a writer and didn't even realize she was teaching workshops. I'll have to check if she ever gets out to the West Coast.
    Let's see. I always love to see your mother looking so well. The table setting and the colorful, loving ambiance you and your sisters created was so touching. Another house to decorate?! Ok. it's official you and your hubby are certifiable. 🙂
    I don't have an opinion on blog advertising, I think of it like the working moms vs. stay at home moms issue. If it works for you do it but it's not something I really could do without feeling like I was losing something. Hard to explain. Of course i'm ready to change up my blog because it's even boring me. I just never have enough time to really tackle the changes. Did you do all your blog changes yourself? Or did you use a blog designer? I haven't ever gone to a blogger event because i'm sure I would walk out horrified at how primitive me and my little blog, I think in blog years i'm over 100. hahaha


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