Billy Joel


Just a few years ago, in 1982, my parents decided I would join my older sister at the University of Tennessee for my college education.  I had spent the last 12 years in tiny religious schools of around 100 students and now I was attending a university of 20,000.   For the first time in my life I was free of the expectations, scrutiny and control of a small community.  I was anonymous and I loved it.

My first college roommate had a record player and a nice collection of LP’s.  This opened a new experience of pop culture and I landed in the world of Billy Joel.   His music became the soundtrack of my liberation. I listened to those records endlessly until the words became my words and the music my tune.    A few years later I was able to live my dream of seeing him perform in Chattanooga.

Last year Alexandra went to see Elton John in concert after she then told me her ultimate dream was to see Billy Joel but he wasn’t going to tour anymore.  I was so shocked that she was dreaming the same dream I did at her age.   I never played Billy Joel after college and never owned an album so she didn’t grow up listening to his music.

In January I watched Kennedy Center Honors Billy Joel, I stayed up late to see his tribute.  I was so touched when the audience all sang “The Piano Man”, can you imagine having an audience sing your song.   I saw what an iconic figure he is for our culture.

A few days later Alexandra called to say that Billy Joel was touring and coming to Nashville.   I wanted to fulfill her dream.  She was on a plane when the tickets went on sale so I had computer in hand at the appointed sale hour.  In an attempt to get better seats, I ended up with four tickets and decided to go to the concert too.   I texted her the good news when she got off the plane, she was ecstatic.

On the night of the concert Alexandra, friend Jessica, Hamilton and I arrived early to the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville to find our budget-friendly seats.  A producer of the concert came up to Alexandra and handed her two front row seats.  Apparently they needed pretty girls to fill the unsold front row and dress up the front of the stage.  They handed us old folks nearby seats so we wouldn’t be separated.   Alexandra burst into tears of joy.  She went from tickets at the back of an arena the size of an aircraft carrier to the front row.

I spent the evening next to the stage, singing the words I had long forgotten, feeling like that liberated college girl again.  I didn’t know who was happier, Alexandra or me watching Alexandra front and center at the stage fulfilling a dream beyond her imagination.    We are all still glowing from the experience. .

Many of my most intense and life changing experiences are from dreams I couldn’t even imagine.   There is no way I could have made things happen with my own human powers.   I know there are unseen forces at work to bring us all to the places and experiences we are destined.  So here is to dreams we didn’t know how to dream, even if it is to give a mother and daughter pure joy for one evening.


Very pretty girls ready for the concert



Ace of Cups

ace of cups

When my children were young I spent many happy years going to the local Episcopal church, but after a few years I found I had a hard time saying the Confession, then I had a hard time saying the Creed, then I started having a hard time taking Holy Communion.   I took it as a sign that I needed to go down a different path.   Now when l go occasionally to church, I see the Creed, Confession and Communion in a totally different way, the longing of our humanness to reach and be more.

The Ace of Cups is the Communion cup held by a left hand coming out of a cloud.   There is the Dove of Peace holding a communion wafer ready to dip it into the living waters.   Five streams of water representing the five senses flow from the cup.  There are many droplets of water in the shape of the Hebrew letter “yod” which are blessings falling from this triumphal cup.   The water streams into a pond of water lilies or lotus which means the awakening of the human spirit.   The little bells on the side of the cup are a call to service.

This cup is the Holy Grail bringing new life and blessing to develop new spiritual insights and sensitivities with which we can create an unending supply of love.   This card is often interpreted as a beginning of a new relationship.  It is time to keep an open heart and hand with your relationships and let them come and go as they please without control

I see the Holy Grail as the mythic longing for something more.  The Grail Quest is our Western mystic path for Christ Consciousness or Enlightenment.   When we take Holy Communion on a mystical level we are creating a dynamic flow between us and Divinity.   We are asking to elevate our consciousness to anchor more love and light in the world.


The third card for February’s Tarot class is the King of Wands.   I wrote about him last year and you can read that post here.

Ten of Wands


In February I drew another three cards to see what the Tarot wanted to talk about at the next Tarot study class.   When doing a three card draw, I often use a Past/Present/Future interpretation.   The Past is represented by the first card drawn and placed on the left.   This time I drew the Ten of Wands.

The hero in the Ten of Wands is trying to hold 10 wands all going in different directions.  They are about to fall to the ground and he can’t even see where he is going.  In such a precarious position he is about to lose everything or fall down and definitely needs to do something different to avoid a disaster.

I was the Ten of Wands last year, holding too many responsibilities at once.   I really didn’t have a choice but because of it I lost my joy for many months.    With one week’s notice, I had to move to take care of my mother-in-law in her home for 60 years. I had to unmove and renovate before I could move all while running a nursing home in the kitchen with 24/7 caregivers.   Most days I didn’t know what to do first.   There was always someone in the kitchen talking to me, piles of old belongings and books to sort and plenty of emotions to process.    The house hadn’t been updated since 1968 and I had a short time to make it liveable.   I then renovated my old house, had 6 weeks of company and took 3 big trips.   How I did it all I’m not sure.  I was definitely about to drop all the wands and then trip over them.

Over time I was able to finish the projects and close the nursing home in the kitchen but it has taken awhile to recover from the overwhelm and restore my joy.   I’m happy now and have far fewer wands which are nicely nestled across my arms.

Taking on too much and overwhelming ourselves is honored in this society and that makes for unbalanced lives.    So what burdens, projects, emotions, and obligations can you lay down?   How can you reorder what is left?   It is time to look at what has taken your joy and find a way to lighten your load.

plaid carpet

Very groovy 1968 Plaid Carpet

Biltmore Estate


Alexandra at Biltmore Estate

It has been a cold and snowy winter and while stuck inside I’ve kept myself occupied with two of my favorite things; Downton Abbey and Winter Olympics.   I’ve done a few things to integrate both of these happy diversions into my life.   First I have been training my staff, Persy and Timmy, to call me “My Lady”.  This isn’t going well, they usually just stare at me, remind me that I’m their scullery maid and go back to their naps.  Oh well, practice makes perfect.  I’ve also been staging my own personal Olympics in preparation for my summer stroll across the Continent.   My personal best is 7 miles in two hours and 9 miles with pack in three hours.  I can hear the triumphal theme song as I cross the finish line.

On Tuesday Alexandra and I went to see America’s Downton Abbey, Biltmore Estate, in Asheville, North Carolina. The Biltmore is the largest private residence in America and was built in the late 1800’s by George Vanderbilt as a place for lavish entertaining and hunting.   At 178,000 square feet, 250 rooms and 125,000 acres, this vast estate is like being in Europe for the afternoon.  It is modeled on the Chateaux of the Loire Valley and contains all the original furniture and décor.    We enjoyed the beautiful rooms, architecture, craftsmanship and art.

The next day I started reading a book a friend recently sent me, the autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul.   St.Therese lived at the same time as George Vanderbilt but made very different choices.   She had a simple life in Normandy, France and became a Carmelite nun as a teenager and died at 24 from Tuberculosis.  During her short life she lived in total devotion to her interior experiences.  She felt no need to do great heroic acts but follow what she called ‘the little way’ of devotion.  She was canonized in 1923 only 28 years after her death and has become one of the most popular of all the Catholic saints.   This simple French girl left a beautiful and lasting legacy of love and miracles.

Depending on your inclinations it is easy to judge Therese as naive, sentimental or overly religious.   You could also say the George was greedy and power hungry.  But before we put on labels I think it is best to see these two people as the extreme ends of what is possible on this planet.  George, one of the richest men ever on this Earth, chose a very exterior life of society, glamour and luxury.  St Therese was a quiet young woman whose short life was totally devoted to her wealthy inner world.   They made very different choices with their lives but both experiences are honored and both have left us richer.

I don’t live these extremes, something in the middle works better for me.    But a little exterior beauty brings joy to my inner life.   I love beautiful paintings, a well served meal, a rose bush in full bloom.   Times of solitude and meditation and work on my interior life make my appreciation for living much sweeter too.    Let’s all look for the joy in both interior and exterior worlds.

Information on Biltmore Estate

Society dedicated to the work of St Therese of Lisieux