If a woman does not keep pace with her companions,
perhaps it is because she hears a different drummer.
Let her step to the music which she hears, however measured or far away.

Thoreau (with a Conner twist)

All posts (including images and poetry) on this website are copyrighted by Sheila Conner.
Please do not use without permission.
Thank you.

Saturday, June 29, 2013


I’ve heard “sin” defined as “missing the mark”.  God and I have a running joke: 

“Where’s the damn mark??? Someone keeps moving the target!”

I’ve been experiencing that familiar low-grade “rage” inside of me.  When have I not been angry? It’s been building up, and came to a head yesterday.  Mother took her 6th fall in as many weeks, and I’m tired, frustrated, pissed off—I’m feeling abandoned, I’m feeling my damn limitations, and it feels like no one else cares.

I was reminded last night that anger is addictive.  So, how do we put the anger bottle down? How do we lay down the fork that pierces anger and feeds the rage-aholic?  I was asking myself those questions as I lay me down to sleep last night.

My sleep has been very restless for a long time now—fit-full.  My body is constricted in pain.  And I’ve had 3 months of UTI’s (talk about pissed off!). My body is saying very loudly, “Let go of the anger; release it!”  HOW???

So I got up this morning and began to write down all my frustrating anger-filled thoughts, and I took them to Byron Katie, and The Work (did you know there’s an app for that?).  I began to take one statement at a time and go through the 4 questions and the turn-arounds, and the tears began to flow.

THAT’S how you release anger. You cry! I recently read: rage turns to sorrow; sorrow turns to tears.  The body relaxes. The breath is restored. The flow returns. The water is turned back on. Did you know that you can’t have a good cry and be mad? Not a “good” cry.

It’s the tears that carry anger out of the body and away somewhere.

The target isn’t out there.  It’s not Mother. It’s not that “nobody else cares”. It’s not out there.  The target is inside my own soul.  The mark that God keeps me headed for is INSIDE of me.  There is no relief as long as I look outside myself and blame, shame, or resist and fight against “the other”.  It’s only by going inside and doing “the work” that we can find the healing and the “forgiveness” we need.

Just giving you a “head’s up” in case you, too, are looking “out there”.

Friday, June 28, 2013


Good Lord, what a tsunami of thoughts and feelings have been bombarding my psyche over the last day or two.  It all began with a Facebook post…that seems to happen a lot now-adays.
I innocently posted something that made my heart soar: 

“Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself - that is my doctrine." - Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason.

Later I noticed a comment from a very good friend of mine: “So where do unborn babies fit in that ? Not hostile, just curious how it all works out so simply.”

My goodness, it’s been like the dam broke inside me, as I’ve played those thoughts around in my gut, my heart, and my mind over the last few hours.

WHEW!  And I just made that sound out loud in full force, as an expression of release in my body, where I’m feeling the question.

I’m not sure the mind can find the answer to this heart issue…it pits woman against unborn child, and somewhere inside of me, I know it’s not an “either/or” thing.

It’s kind of like Jesus’s admonition to “love your neighbor as you love yourself.”  We have so long considered self-love to be all about ego and narcissism, that we’ve not allowed ourselves to even begin considering true self-love. But I don’t think we CAN truly love our neighbor until we begin to know and love ourselves, our true selves and authentic selves as we are in the image of our Creator God, as well as the spoiled brat self that longs to be accepted and loved as is. Shoot, most of us have never even stopped long enough to get to know ourselves, let alone love ourselves.  Spending time to get to know myself has too long been considered selfish.  Someone posted the other day, again on FB, that self-care was NOT something ever taught or encouraged in all her years as a religious minister, yet Jesus indicated that it’s vital to loving our neighbor. And vital to loving our enemies, another often dismissed teaching of the Way Shower, Jesus. It’s in the seedbed of learning to love our selves (often our own worst enemy), to forgive ourselves, and to truly care for ourselves that true compassion for the other is borne. Compassion and love for our neighbor flows out of love for God and love of self.

And I think that’s maybe, kind of, sort of where I’ve landed in holding this tension of respect for a woman’s right to choose and the rights of the unborn child.  I don’t think it’s a matter of choosing one over the other, but realizing that as we begin to truly honor and respect women enough to give them choice over their own reproductive life, maybe, just maybe that translates into protecting the rights of the unborn? Maybe it’s not an either/or, but a both/and thing?

I’m not sure how it all works, but I have come to know that in my own experience the right to choose for myself life or death just makes all the difference in the world. Take away that basic right to choose, and I am no longer free to make the best choice. Damn it…I’m gonna take what I want to prove I can.  But to be able to freely choose opens up space to choose well.

A little case in point—for most of my life, drinking even a glass of wine with dinner was considered a “sin”.  There was so much guilt and shame connected to it that it took me forever to be able to order a glass of wine here locally, just in case someone from my church saw me.  As I began to enter into a spirituality that set me free to drink a glass of wine, I relished it.  And it became kind of a badge of “I can do this! Yea! I’ve been set free!”  Recently I’ve been reading all kinds of information regarding alcohol and fibromyalgia, and it’s not been pretty.  And I was rather ticked off that I was being forced by my body to give up my nightly glass of wine.  Then it dawned on me, “I DO still have a choice.  No one’s taken my choice away. My choice is really clear. Wine might be causing some of my pain issues. I have the choice to keep hurting or to stop drinking wine every night.”  So, I’ve put my bottle away.

In honoring a woman’s right to choose, maybe just maybe we are honoring the unborn child as well?

I read this quote earlier today, and my spirit lept:

“We have to say things, do things, think things, and share what comes up. The spirit within seeks expression in the world without, and we are its voice, its instrument. In the very heart of our own matter is the one that calls out to be heard, the love that yearns to be shared. This is our life force, our vitality, transcending boundaries, merging inner and outer, human and divine, thought and matter in an endless cycle.”

Perhaps as we seek the rights of all women, those rights merge with unborn children.  Maybe they’re not separate, but the same thing from different points of view?

I don’t have answers and I can’t speak another’s truth.  It isn’t simple. The truly hard questions of life never are.  Working to transcend the dual thinking of “either/or” is never simple. Truths found in paradoxes are hard to hold. That’s still my favorite picture of the work of the Cross in our lives: holding onto both the good thief and the bad thief until both are reconciled in the heart of Christ.

I don’t think my friend’s heart and my heart are in two different places – our ideas may be and the way we think or express them may be, but like those two thieves on the Cross, there is a place of reconciliation in the heart of Christ. May we continually find ourselves moving toward the Center of the Cross.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Caretaker's Request

This photo was taken at Christmas.  I don't see her smile as much or as often anymore.

I’m really spending a lot of time thinking about the aging process, and the joy/pain of being a caretaker for someone you love. This is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.  It seems that all of life is a preparation for dying; it’s a constant “letting go”. And as a caretaker, part of “her” letting go affects my own letting go.

Caretakers have to make choices, and it seems none of them are “pretty”. In fact, observation tells me it can get downright humiliating at times. Family members and friends don’t always understand the choices that have to be made, and the gut wrenching, heart breaking “letting go” that comes with each choice.  And we often berate ourselves for the only choices we were able to make at the time.

My owner mother’s health has deteriorated so much in the last couple of months, and everything seems to be hitting harder and faster. Falls are happening much more frequently. Pain is the only constant, and humiliation waits for her around every corner as the things she dreaded most (having someone dress and wipe her) become her daily bread.  The hallucinations that come with a small percentage of folks who have macular degeneration are increasing, and she lives more and more daily in the movie theater of her mind.  But at least she still knows the hallucinations aren't real. For that I am grateful.

And I watch dear friends struggle with their own incapacitated loved ones, and they too are faced with decisions they wouldn’t wish on their own worst enemies.  Life’s ending can just be flat shitty sometimes. 

I just wanted to write to the general “whoever reads this”, and say, don’t be so quick to judge why caretakers make certain decisions they make. Don’t criticize what you can’t understand, and what we hope you never have to understand. And pray for us. There is so much potential in prayer.  At the end, when our own “Thy will be done” prayers get harder and harder to pray, your prayers for us are all we are left with.  We count on them.

And remind us often that we must find a balance between caring for our loved ones and caring for ourselves.  Our bodies wear out very quickly with all the stress that goes with the care. Our hearts become as heavy as our bodies, and our minds are constantly filled with whatever might come next.  It's very, very hard to stop long enough to take care of our minds, souls, and bodies, even to give ourselves a few minutes of self-care a day, but if we don't, our loved ones get nothing.

I’ve heard all my life that God never gives us more than we can bear.  I don’t think I believe that anymore.  I’ve witnessed too much too close.  But I am grateful that God is with us through it all.  And at the end of this thing, there is promised resurrection.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


They had been watching them dance across the desert floor for a week now, but, in a heartbeat, this one took her memory back 58 years. “Pull over,” she told him, “I want a picture.”

Her mind’s memory had failed her over the years, but her body’s eye had retained the feel of this “little dust devil”.

She was 4, and it was a grand day. Mother had given her permission to take her baby brother outside to play.  She had been waiting for this day for such a long time. She was now officially “a big girl”. She was in charge. And she was o, so ready to prove she was trustworthy.

Out the door they went, her holding tightly to his chubby little hand as they headed toward the playground on the lot next door to their house. They were on a great adventure! Just the two of them!

Of course she took him straight to the merry-go-round. She had loved the merry-go-round forever it seemed! ‘Round and ‘round, faster and faster she’d spin, just for the thrill of it. But today was different. She was being careful with her charge.  She was gently walking the great wheel ‘round so that her little brother could enjoy the ride in safety. And he was having a frolicking good time.

Then she saw it—dancing its way menacingly toward them, until it engulfed them.  She held tightly to his hand as the sand stung her eyes shut, and pummeled her face, clogging her nostrils until she thought she’d die from suffocation.

Then she made a choice; she chose to let go of his hand. She chose her safety over his, and ran as fast as her chubby little legs could carry, and she hid.

It was all over in just a few seconds, and her mother was there with little brother safely in her arms.  But that little dust devil never really left her.  She had felt its power for years now, its swirling winds in the pit of her stomach, its suffocating affect as she tried to breathe.  And it continued to cause its rush of panic, making her forever want to run, and filling her body with shame and the knowing she couldn’t be trusted to “stay”.

Monday, May 27, 2013

White Sands and White Space

So, you might ask, "What do White Sands and White Space have in common?"

Many years back, I heard Spirit’s voice deep inside whisper, “Sheila, you really need more white space in your life.” Little did I know what that meant, and it took a number of years of “undoing” before I realized all that call was about.

I had a chance to revisit that “space” of time in my life recently when hubby and I visited White Sands, NM.  I had been encouraged to make it a stop on our trip, but didn’t realize the affect it would have on me.

Naturally, me being the inquisitive one, I wanted to make a trek to the top of one of the dunes, and I wanted hubby to go with me – a romantic kind of thing, you know– but he declined, and sent me off on my own.  Naturally, he encouraged my climb up a steep angle, teasing me with, “it’s easier than it looks”. NOT.  

(Hmmm...perhaps THIS really is more like it felt!)

But then he sent me off on my own to explore around the bend.

This was the first sight I encountered, “The desert shall bloom like a rose.”  

In all that white space was this singular plant, and seeing it caused my heart to leap.
I continued climbing.  It was quite a trudge through the sand, but at last I made it to the top of that large white mountain of sand

and I was overwhelmed with the quiet beauty of it all. I bowed to honor the White Space

then sat in its silence for a good long time.

I was so grateful wise hubby sent me off on my own. “There are just some things that need to be experienced alone.”

Word spoken in Silence.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Desert Love

She had been driving for a couple of days, first through West Texas, now through the deserts of Arizona. She was surprised at her feelings for this dry arid country. She had experienced the beautiful snow-covered peaks of Colorado, the heavily pine-covered mountains of the Northwest, with its twists and turns, the quiet woodsy smells of the redwood forests, and the icy chill and crashing sounds of the Pacific Ocean, but this--this solitude and barren country was leaving its mark on her, in the deep places of her being. She hadn’t quite found the words yet to explain what she felt…it was a kind of groan, a pleasant ache that hurt so good.  It was like that unsatisfied moment, just before the release of orgasm.

Days later as she pondered feelings the desert made inside her, she was still left with mystery. What was it about this land that was so different? It was so barren, so stark, so harsh—yet it still caused her to feel deeper than anyplace else she had experienced.  The difference for her was like that of her love for the Virgin Mary and the Black Madonna, the bright sun and the mysterious light of the moon, the song of the mocking bird and the raucous call of the crow. It was as if the giant redwoods and the snow-covered peaks lifted her heart high to the sky, and the barren silence of the red rocks, the ocher and purple hills, and the scrubby gray-green of the bush pulled her down into the belly of Mother Earth.  One caused her to soar, the other planted her deep.

Both were beautiful, and both moved her, but the desert—this desert claimed her in a way nothing else had.  She was a daughter of this land, and she never knew it until now. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Roller Derby Mother's Day

We sat in the stands watching, unable to do anything at all as she was jammed into the banked rails and tossed onto the floor like a rag doll. Whatever possessed her to take this path as part of her life story, to put herself into these kinds of situations? Over and over we watched as she was flung far and wide. Every instinct in me wanted to say, “Stop! Don’t do this to yourself! This is fun?” And I watched his face as his “little one” was repeatedly squeezed, jammed, flung and tossed, and he too could do nothing but watch.

But then we felt the exhilaration as she broke from the pack and skated with such skill and speed! And such freedom! 

Later her eyes sparkled as her conversation was salted and peppered with such terms as blocked, jammed, falling smart, bout, and calling off the jam (I particularly liked that one).

I was reflecting on it all again this morning, and it dawned on me…

That’s what mothering is all about.  There comes a time in a mother and child’s relationship where mom has to sit on the sidelines and let that the child strike out on his own.  He may get himself knocked around, or she may find herself on the floor, with a sore knee and a bruised bum, but then, as that mother watches, she sees the joy on his face as he makes his own music, creates his own work of art, or plays in a roller derby bout. And she will feel her own face smile with joy at one of her best creative acts.

I love you kids: Mike, Bart, Joe, Robin and Rebecca (Annie Nigma).