When I was at home for thanksgiving, I was digging through some old pictures, and I ran into a picture of me from more than 20 years ago, in the departure lounge at Philadelphia International Airport, heading off to Heathrow for the first time on my own. I was embarking upon my first great flight into my future, moving to London, full of determination to ‘make it’ in the art world; full of bravado and moxie. These shots of my brother and I goofing around don’t show anything of what happened moments later, which I recall like it was yesterday:

They called us to board the plane, and I got up and gathered my things, teeming with delight-

And as I stepped towards the jet bridge, I turned around and looked at my mom.

And we both burst into tears, simultaneously.

This was the first tearful parting between us – it was not the last.

This is how it went, time and time again, at train stations, airports, and the occasional bus terminal, for, you know, the past 22 years.

We are two deeply connected souls, Mom and I. And the rub of our distance during my adult life has always been keenly felt. And we really feel the brunt of it at every departure. We’re weepy girls anyway. We weep when happy and we weep when sad. And we could weep for Team USA when we say goodbye.

This Thanksgiving, however, a surprising thing happened:

We parted at the security barrier, as usual.

and she waited for me while I went through – we were waving and joking with the TSA agents.

And then she stepped to another concourse, where we could observe each other through several planes of glass as I sauntered towards the gate.

We had a charming, modernist, and delightfully poetic view of one another, each standing in one of two glass-clad hallways, suspended over the main concourse;

so I danced a little jig for her – made a few faces and got into whatever physical comedy I could come up with.

And then we spent a while waving at each other in manner of the royal family (screwing in the lightbulb; this is a family tradition of ours)

and I got a laugh out of her when I imitated Kate Middleton’s slightly limp-wristed style of wave…

we carried on like this as I boarded the moving walkway, and I watched her waving, getting smaller and smaller, until she was out of sight.

then I headed on to my gate.

That tiny mommy, just before she disappears – this is the sight that usually calls me to tears.

But not this time.

When I got to the gate, I called her on my cell, and I said – ‘Wow, Momma – I didn’t cry at all… how about you?’

And she said, ‘Nope, me neither,’

and then she said something casually, that was so beautiful, and so encapsulated my sense at that moment:

‘I think it’s because I’m so full of joy.’


Indeed, my mom has been Casting Spells for Daily Joy for the past 23 years in her work in the 12 step movement. Each day, she contemplates what she can let go of – she asks herself what she has control over, and what’s not her job to manage. And then she lets go – to the best of her ability, in the moment, again, and again and again. I know that this well of joy that she experiences now is a result of all that work. She keeps opening to the moment, connecting with the joy that JUST IS – (not ‘the joy’ of ‘I got what I want’ or ‘the joy’ of ‘I’m in control.’) It’s pretty inspiring, watching that Momma do her inner work. Thanks for modeling such a graceful and gritty humanity all these years, Ma.

We all have our ‘spells to cast’ – we have our daily practices – the ones we have chosen to do because we know that they are good, as well as the ones we have defaulted to – habits of living, many of which we have inherited from parents, even generations of ancestors. The tone of our inner voice, the phrases we repeat again and again, the way we interpret reality – each and every choice has a potent resonance in our lives. So much of how I spend my time is dedicated to the up-ending of default positions; the slow, piecemeal work of changing habits. When I speak of spell casting – I’m not just talking about high ritual (that too, though). I talking about those moment to moment remembrances that help us to melt the conditioning of a smaller, less awakened life.

This is my year to harness all of my inner forces to

  1. Cast the best spells
  2. Dwell in joy – on a daily basis

Here’s a joyful prayer for clarity:

May I be aware of how I shape my moments and my days and my life with my inner vision;

May I clearly see the layer that is just below my conscious awareness today, so I can be more awake to how I’m actually running this show;

May I make tiny little turns toward joy every moment;

May I remember to make those turns, with gentleness and steadiness;

May I remember my true power, and taste more of who I truly AM.

To the source of JOY, from the source of JOY

OK – 2015! Here we go!