Some Sunshine for Your Week – radio recording, new poem & more!


Hello Beautiful People!

It’s such a thrill to share the recording from my recent fun and inspiring interview on KCSB 91.9 FM with LP on her Writers Almanac West program. If you didn’t get a chance to listen, and you want a dose of inspiration and a break from the negative news cycle, click here to listen on Soundcloud and here to listen on Podmatic. Both are downloadable! (Note: Jump to the 2 minute mark to skip the intro reading of Paul Simon’s Sound of Silence.)

We talked about all of my favorite things: food, poetry (I read a new poem at the end!), my novel, The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón and the plans for the sequel. We also talk about staying in love, faith and hope for all humanity. If you find yourself curious about the many resources and books I mention during the show, I’ve added links to just about every topic mentioned at the bottom of this post.

Also below is a short “Broadcast from the Beach” expressing my gratitude for your support. I recorded it for you right after I wrote the poem “Birdfight” in the previous post.

In the video, I mention a luxurious time binge-reading the poet Mary Oliver, at my friend’s house. Here’s a poem I wrote about that experience:

IMG_2957 (1).jpg


On Reading Mary Oliver in Bed

I eat your poems

between bites of fig-filled cakes

or are they cookies?

forgetting to chew

because your words make me hungrier

for solace and weeping

for herons


moose faces

and querying the soul


the chicory and hot milk

burn my throat

but I can’t stop devouring line

after line

fearful my gluttony

will spill on the white down comfortor

of my momentary retreat


how do you take a Sunday morning and make it urgent?

Volumes One and Two

and Felicity

again I want to be haunted by

all the space

on the page

your succinct seventy-seven year old

plunge into Cobb Creek

and your truth-telling of a girl raging

in dark corners

or the soul stolen from the blue Iris

I must go now,

for this pen is distracting

from my voracious consumption

If you’ve never read Oliver, here’s a link to some of her poems. There’s also a rare interview with her on the NPR program, On Being.

For those of you interested in writing or any other seemingly dreamy, yet filled with reality, kind of pursuit, this interview with the writer Cheryl Strayed was very inspiring to me. She’s so honest about the fact that she doesn’t write every day and also about her struggles with money. I have watched or listened to it at least 7 ½ times.

Links I mentioned in the Writer’s Almanac West radio interview

My website for The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship is  We have a page with links from the topics in the book and an area where you can sign up to receive the free Tribe and Family Book Club Guide via email. The book is available via Teaching For Change (they get 5% of net profits), Amazon, Independent Book Stores, iTunes and Barnes and Noble.

You can read and listen to the opening poem Bound here and The Slowdown—a parenting poem, here.

The Slow Food movement can be found here.

Those fish-shaped crackers and why they are not great to eat–more info can be found here. What I mentioned about the way wheat is treated with pesticides in the U.S. is covered here. And there’s more from Robyn O’Brien about the 2.6 Billion pounds of Monsanto’s Glysophate (which is linked to Cancer) sprayed on American farmlands. and info about her Sacred Sangha is here. and The Mystic’s Society is here.

Brené Brown’s TED talks on vulnerability and shame are here and here.

There’s an NPR interview with Mario Martinez about his book The Mind Body Code and the concept of tribal shame here.

Whatever you do, try to find a way to watch Trevor Noah’s special “Afraid of the Dark” on Netflix. (Note: this is meant for adult audiences.) The official trailer is here.

One of my chosen teachers is the Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. The first book I was every exposed to by him is Living Buddha, Living Christ. I reference a number of his other books in “aisle 4” of this previous blog post.

Here’s the post where I did a round-up of all of my recorded meditations.

I mention my connection to Jennifer Lee’s Right-Brainers in Business and an interview she did with SARK. We talked about creating inner characters to help deal with uncomfortable emotions. Here’s a post I did about Matilda, one of my characters and another about My Noisy Neighbor, Fear.

I also mention Drop Out on Orcas by the poet, Jennifer Brennock which I’m not sure it exists in the same form, but just in case, here’s the site.

Well, my friends, that’s a wrap! I hope you’ve enjoyed hanging out with me. I’m sending you love and some delicious food and time in nature for this week! Nourish yourself, you deserve it!

The Slowdown–a parenting poem

To listen to this poem, click here.

Blowing whistles
and the wonderings of a mother

who hasn’t signed up for




art class

Spanish immersion

instead she shifts her son’s head

to drop in a remedy for swimmer’s ear

from swimming



Saturday marked by ten, twelve hours sleep

a body in repair

and the luscious knowledge of the intangible

it’s called Rest

“You know the park is just down the street.”

“He can walk there on his own.”

“Everyone here does it.”

What choice does she have?

Sign on the dotted line

put a number on his back

swear fealty to the clock for fear of falling behind

Or what if stop-motion movies

puppets and pizza tag

riding bikes till twilight

made for enough of a childhood?

What if boredom became a challenge?

Live in the world

surf on worksheets

dig up Redstone

write the series about

Super Parnassus the Potato

and his Grape sidekick, The Greginator

this verse is homage to the slowdown

allowing for mothering and fathering

any which way

in the gray lies truth, freedom

and knowing the human who chose you


I love waking in the nether night

when woodsmoke is faint

and verse bubbles from left ear and right

elevations and giggles from childhood love wind swirls and curls around my head

tickling a smile

“Wake up! Wake up!”

the faeries whisper

there’s magic in the in-between

come see the stars before they sleep

they’re underneath the clouds

playing checkers with the waning moon

before she gives the night back to the sun

your best friend is nestled in your heart

mud pies with roley-poley messages

Charlie’s Angels and Happy Days

ask her what you’re going to color today

maybe there will be paint on your fingers

or flour under your nails

Sundays call for chocolate cake

macaroni and cheese

iced tea on the porch and jacks

let’s play jacks

–Rebecca Villarreal

Lessons from the Moon & Eggplant Parm

You can listen to this poem here.


Blue Moon

You didn’t tell me about the alchemy of eggplant parm


how you’d wake me again and again just to look

You only told me to wish real hard

hold my hands up in a cup

to capture the agua de Jamaica flowing from the sky IMG_6101

Blue Moon You danced with Venus in her yellow bellbottoms

goldfish floating in her platform heels

Everybody’s heart chakra pumps and thumps

What’s the Rx today?

Christina keeps telling me eyes wide open

love tangles can boggle the goggles

switch your mind back in time it was 2007

when my heart cracked open a new life home body mind


if I hop on my bike will the San Padres tell me oso stories?

sing me mountain lion blues?

give me the key to the mane’s picket fence?


my toes know only grass sand wheel

Pacific postures pontificating

exhale you made it

sink into now

Post Script: My aunt Peggy always said, “if you can read, you can cook.” I say, if you can dream, you can cook. If you can dream, you can wish, if you can wish you, you can live up to your dreams.”

Crack the Egg: Finding Joy amidst Conflicting Emotions


Lately, I’ve had some painful lessons that have manifested in the most glorious joy. I have to share some of the things that have helped me. If you already live like this, and these insights are not a surprise, I’m so excited for you! Please share and teach me more!

Here’s what I’m covering: how conflicting emotions can exist inside of you and how you can still live with joy. This, my friends, is your ticket out of the nauseating amusement park called “Guilt Shame Judgment Landia.”

If you are reading this on the go, I’m giving you the gift of access to a meditation that helped me to reach this level of happiness. Sheila Pai, of A Living Family, created it. Her work is so comforting. And she created a special page just for us! Once you provide your name and email address, you can download it. You’ll get the meditation in your email box. I enjoy them and hope you do too! (By the way, her Nurturing You book is the kindest, most gentle self-care book I’ve ever enjoyed. I credit it with a lot of my ability to step back without guilt and just be.)


“You’ll always be too out of the box for me.”

One of my favorite blog readers wrote to me after my I Love You More Than a Boy Cheese Sandwich post. She said how happy she was to get back from church and see my email and then told me that I’ll still always be “too out of the box” for her. That was such a great gift. The fact that she is happy to read my words even if she’s not a charter member of my “woo-woo crew,” she can appreciate my love. So dear reader, it’s out of the box for us, and into the bowl!

What’s in your bowl?

So here’s the deal, it’s very, very simple: two things can exist in the same bowl. (Hint: you are the bowl.)

I’ll give you a personal example. During my son’s spring break, I was supposed to visit family. I was so excited to see everyone for Easter. And then my son got sick and we didn’t go. I was sad. And, because I have a lot going on in my life with work, the launch of my book and my impending move across country, I was also relieved.

Pretend I’m a mixing bowl: pour in sadness, relief and happiness too (because I could still be with my husband on Easter). I imagine them as salt, sugar and flour. It’s like when you are blending the dry ingredients in baking.

During this time, I was working with someone on my much deeper issues rooted in fear and courage. And when I was talking with her, I had a strong message to tell her to “crack the egg.” As we are charter members of the same crew, I had no problem telling her that I felt a figure, like a bear, leaning over me saying, “crack the egg, give it to her.” Honestly, at the time, I wanted to turn behind me with my best Philly girl self and say, “Alright already! I’ll tell her. Quit leanin’ over me!”

So I shared what I was told.

I could not get the image out of my head. I made a drawing. It sat unfinished on my floor. I looked at it every day. I pasted the dictionary definitions of “ubicada and desubicada” in the bowl for while. Then I only left “ubicada” because I couldn’t rip it off. The verb, “ubicarse” in Spanish is one of my favorite words. It means “to situate oneself” or some say, “to locate oneself.” When you feel “desubicada,” it’s like feeling out of sorts or discombobulated (another fabulous word).

Then, one morning, I finished my prayer meditation, and sat on the floor looking at the picture. I jumped on Facebook. I watched all of the events in Baltimore, Nepal and much more. And this poem came to me. I wrote it on the canvas.


Trust the Habit of Peace

Trust the habit of peace and unraveling

there is a knowing and a flailing

you are more than the sadness and happiness in this bowl

the ubicada and desubicada

you are the light of a mother in yellow pulling her son with fury out of the fury screaming sunshine amidst the burning

there is rubble in Nepal

Po po pushing for peace

some scared

and pushing our sons

Please now

the bowl of is, and is not, is overflowing


crack the egg

let it flow so we can find courage

prick up our ears

today is the Sabbath

today let us walk barefoot

and remember our piece of creation

your fingers and my fingers are the same

reach for me and let me pull you


You can feel safety again

plant seeds, water

phosphorescent photosynthesis

and open the window of your heart

let these words bring peace

Why Guilt Doesn’t Fit in Your Bowl

It’s tough for me to explain, but if I take that bowl of dry ingredients and crack an egg in it, then start whisking the egg together, it’s actually me. It’s all of me at the same time. It’s life. We can be happy and sad at the same time.

Guess what, here is the bonus insight: you can leave out guilt! Think of guilt as the needless genetically modified chemical-filled ingredient which you don’t want in your bowl anyway.

See, I could feel guilty that my mom bought eight pounds of mouth-watering delicious cheese for my spring break visit because she was excited to see me and I wasn’t there to eat it. (For the full impact of the cheese connection, you can read this post.)

Or, I could just accept what’s in my bowl: the sadness, relief and happiness. My persistent shoulder blade pain can be relieved if I just crack that egg and whisk it all together, accepting what is, while refusing to judge it.

Did you catch that? Let those feelings move through you without judging them. You don’t have to spiral into how you are a bad friend, son, daughter, spouse, parent or human being. And that’s what Sheila Pai’s meditation has helped me to do.

Wait! This just in from the inimitable poet Terry Spencer Edwards. Upon reading this post, she added something so insightful, I had to share: “This is indeed a powerful post. I got so much out of it, my sister. And it reminded me that if you don’t crack the egg, you can never fully bake your potential…and get yourself ready to create the next confection. Forgive the metaphor, but it is powerful to remember that the dry ingredients are good, important, essential, but they change into something else once the egg is cracked…something flowing, something that can rise.”

And that, my friends, is what co-creation is all about. That is why I invited you to teach me.


A few final resources to help you with the stuff in your bowl:

1. This radio show on Synthesis and Synchronicity by Maria Rodriguez was a major factor, as in life-changing, in the way I allow myself to receive and perceive information.

2. These resources about tribal shame, a concept unraveled by Dr. Mario Martinez in his book, The MindBody Code: How to Change the Beliefs that Limit Your Health, Longevity, and Success: Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook post about it; Bethany Webster’s article titled The Importance of Enduring Discomfort for the Sake of Transformation.

3. Sheila Pai has created a loving, nurturing space in her A Living Family site. You already know I love her Nurturing You book. I also so wish I could be at her Mindful Mama retreat on May 16. She only has 5 spots left so if you are anywhere near Philly or want to fly there, check it out! She has some a cool e-course on Mindful Communications too. I just love the way she shows up in the world with compassion and connection.

4. Scorpio Moon resources: there are some major planetary shifts going on right now, including a full moon tonight. I enjoyed Carrie Ara Campbell’s comforting post about what to expect during this time. If you find yourself over-reacting or having “old stuff” triggered, it could be that you are sensitive to what’s going on in the world. As a conceptual anchor, it is believed that Buddha actually achieved enlightenment during the Scorpio moon. I also just learned valuable information on a call today from Christina Caudill about the subject. I think you can sign up here to receive the recording of that call. (I also must credit her with the fabulous term “woo-woo crew.”)

Phew! I am going to have to keep this post as a reference for myself because I’m still learning all of this. Thanks for sticking with me.

So, from my bowl to yours, I invite you to crack the egg, baby! It’s life, it’s love and the world needs what’s in your bowl. The world needs YOU! 

Here’s an Opening for You…Straight from the Doughnut Phone

Cannelloni Thinking Cap

You’ve heard of the Batphone. But have you heard of the Doughnut phone? I just received three mission-specific steps to expanding your life. Are you up for it? Let’s go!

1. Let the light in. As a first step, try experiencing some kind of art. I wrote this poem for you. Have a listen and feel chosen. It’s called “Cannelloni Thinking Cap.”

2. Clear your space. It may be the space in your head, your heart or your junk drawer. You don’t have to do it all at once, but consider what your life would be like if you could find what you need when you needed it; if you could make clear decisions without second-guessing or over-analyzing; or if you could attract friendships and relationships which are truly fulfilling. KonMari Books I took a Clutter Buster Video Course with Kerri Richardson and it changed the way I looked at my piles and drawers. It has helped me let go of hundreds of books and bags of clothes–all the while knowing other people will enjoy them! I even threw away thirty years worth of journals and my high school yearbook. Now I have space to create what is most important to me. And I’m still clearing stuff!

Another resource is Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Here are a couple of articles about her approach from The New York Times and The Huffington Post. This one made me laugh out loud because Kondo is a bit quirky and I like her for it. The basic tenets of her approach involve pulling out everything in one category (like books or clothes) and dumping it all on the floor. Then you go piece by piece asking if each item brings you joy. Only keep items that bring joy. Books I Love Sounds simple, but as we know, there are emotions other than joy, like guilt, attached to things. Kerri Richardson’s course helps you uncover the “stuff” around those items, thoughts or feelings, so that you can decide what brings you joy. If you’re interested in her 6-week, Clutter Buster Video Course, it starts on April 27. She has an early bird registration offer which lasts until April 17. You may also want to visit her site:

3. Take action for 100 days. Check out #The100DayProject. It springs from a class at The Yale School of Art and encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making. You can start it whenever you want. I started a few days ago. Lots of folks began on April 6. The site includes tips and ideas to get you going. You can tag your posts on Instagram or elsewhere with #The100DayProject and #100Daysof____ (your chosen action).

I’m documenting my participation on Instagram here. My chosen actions are #CreateClearMove. As I prepare to relocate and publish my novel The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón, a Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship, I’m using this project to help me stand firmly in my light. I’d like to spend the next 100 days creating art and clearing space for a new life. I also want to move my body every day and move my family to a beautiful new state! I’m inviting you to follow me on Instagram and to participate in your own 100 Days of…joy!

What can you do to create an opening in your life? Write a poem? Donate items from your closet? Dance in your living room for 100 days? Make someone’s heart sing with one free smile? Just imagine the possibilities and choose something. Choose YOU!

Ode to Taylor Street

MariosItalianLemonadebyRebeccaVillarrealListen to me perform this poem by clicking here.


monarch tattoo dances up her calf

lick Mario’s Italian Lemonade

cantaloupe her choice


twist your rubber neck down Taylor

for a marble doughnut glazed with 50 years

of Scafuri fingertips


pop down Loomis

the 157 keens your stop

lean forty-five degrees into Davanti’s Pizza della Terra

Taleggio tangling your tongue

leeks taunting taste buds

shrooms singing ballads

if I could marry you in Vegas

there’d be nothing left but crumbs


It’s time for Chicago’s Festa Italiana August 14-17!

Check out some of my favorite stops:

Davanti Enoteca– 1359 W. Taylor Street

Mario’s Italian Lemonade– 1068 W. Taylor Street

Scafuri Bakery– 1337 W. Taylor Street

Meet my noisy neighbor, Fear


I’m not exactly sure when she moved in. But I do know fear’s been with me since 5th grade. That year, the boy who liked me followed me home and punched me in the jaw because I wouldn’t be his girlfriend. Fear’s been that neighbor with the music pounding through the walls in my head when I submitted my first poem for publication. She came to visit me when my son was in the hospital, but she spent the whole time talking about herself. She’s been planting her lawn chair on my property poking at my heart each of the seven times I took a risk on love, until this last try worked out. She stands at my fence with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth yammering away as I expand my novel answering the questions asked by characters eight years ago when I didn’t know them well enough to answer. Or I was just too afraid?

What’s your fear?

Is it your boss? Heights? The dark? Your dream of becoming a writer, singer, chef, CEO, marathon runner, spouse, parent? Or is it just a fear of speaking up?

Fear’s that noisy neighbor inside your head. You might be so used to her voice that you think she’s your imaginary friend.

Fear tells you, “You’re not good enough, smart enough, brave enough…” And then there’s the way she controls others: “They’re going to laugh at you, find out your secret: that you don’t know what you’re doing.” Eckhart Tolle might call that voice your ego–those thoughts that are not real. Those voices are not real. What’s happening in the moment is real.

How much power do you want to give fear?

I’m not going to tell you to laugh in the face of fear. Though sometimes, you have to admit that the conversations with your neighbor, from an objective standpoint, or if they were in a movie, might be funny in a neurotic sort of way. Please know that I’m not referring to the fear when in life-threatening situations. That’s a different kind of fear. But even in those circumstances, I think that humans have the capacity to dig deep.

What about “tragedy”?

I asked Pam Teaney Thomas, the winner of my Birthday Blog Giveaway, about fear. I met her when speaking in South Dakota last year. She’s a remarkable woman, an artist and an activist who works with youth. She has seen her share of fear in the form of two life-threatening situations. Her house, including most of her paintings, burnt down. And she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Here’s what she said:

When I think of the hard times…you find the courage to go through them by those who have walked the path before you and are standing on the other side. They understand your fears, pains and needs. They made it, therefore so can I. The support of my Faith, Family and Friends were huge in pushing through. Each hard time made the next hard time not so hard. You become tempered like steel…Sharper, stronger, and shinier. You recognize that by walking through it there can be a sliver lining if you keep your eyes open to it. Count Your Blessings and Name them One by One and you will see what The Lord hath Done. Truly at the first anniversary of our Fire that is what we did, (it was hard especially for my 17 year old son, but was the best thing we could force ourselves to do). We are now 7 years out and we don’t miss that dinner together each year to celebrate the blessings, not the loss.”

Easy Tools to Deal with Fear

My friends, we can learn from Pam and we can learn from Fear. Here’s what I do now:

  1. Ask for help: I did this when I recently experienced a wave of almost paralyzing fear about publishing my novel. (The closer it becomes to a reality, the more my neighbor wants to keep me company.) I asked some lovely people to hold me up in a bubble of bravery, and that’s what they did, in words, through Facebook posts, with photos, and in thoughts and prayers. I also asked the divine for help. I pulled out all the stops, God, angels, guides, universe, fairies, moon—it made me exercise my vulnerability muscle in a whole new way.
  2. Push the button to walk. I actually walk through my fear like a swamp, because I know there is dry steady land on the other side. Steven Pressfield author of The War of Art, wrote about fear as a good thing. It can be a helpful messenger in showing you how much you want something. So the more frightened you are of taking action, the more you know it’s what you’re called to do. It can sometimes provide you with the adrenaline rush you need to get a task done.
  3. Write. It can be a poem. Or just a scrap of paper that you later rip up or burn over the stove. It can be a journal entry. An email to a friend. Try it. In writing down your fear, you face it differently. It can help you separate from those noisy voices and more objectively decide how much longer you want to pass the time with those thoughts and feelings.

Here’s an excerpt from a poem I wrote last week while swimming in the swamp of fear. One fear had triggered another and another until I was all memories and pain. It’s called: “A New Path.”

Higher self hanging by the tips of angels

feel my fingers slipping

go back to the page

repair one line at a time

fill in the space

between your eyes

there’s a knowledge

in everyone’s heart

and it rests right here

it rests right here


You can buoy your dreams

on a raft of chants, songs

steps on that new path

you wouldn’t have it

brick by brick

heel mark



the charity of a new day

embrace it before

it’s gone again

So tune out your noisy neighbor when you need to, or shake your booty at her and use her yammering voice to propel you forward. Embrace this new day, my friend, it’s the only one you have right now.

Big hug from my heart to yours,


P.S.: For some other resources on dealing with fear* check out:

  1. Brené Brown: If you just want a 10-minute fix and a chance to laugh, here’s one of my favorite clips from her speech at the World Domination Summit. The ultimate victory over fear is to be able to choose vulnerability, to risk your heart in the face of it. If you’re not familiar with her research, consider watching Brené’s 19-minute TED talks focused on vulnerability and shame. They get at the heart of fear as well. I’ve also just started reading her latest book Daring Greatly and it’s amazing. If you’re already a fan, check out this recent interview with Jonathan Fields of The Good Life Project.
  2. Danielle LaPorte’s Making New Mind Grooves: A Discussion about the Neuropathways that are steering your life. This is a great way to train your brain out of its habits of worry or negativity. She also recently wrote about love and having a gentle heart, yet building a fence around it. You don’t have to let everyone in. That one resonated with me as I balance compassion with self-care.
  3. Hay House World Summit: This is a free online summit that started yesterday. You’ll be able to hear 30+ speakers online on a range of topics. I believe that for $7.00, you’ll have anytime access to 100+ speakers. (Registration fees go to their nonprofit.)

Finally, you can follow Pam Teaney Thomas on Twitter @PamTeaneyThomas

*Items one and two contain an occasional well-placed swear word in case you are sensitive about that. Stick with the content, it’s going to make you feel worlds better.


My First Time: Two Audio Poems for You


One of the most exciting aspects of blogging is trying new things. There was once a first time that I wrote a poem. Do you remember the first time you rode a bike? How about your first kiss?

I remember my first reading in the mid-90s at Dark Horse Books in Washington, DC. I met one of my best friends that day. And I released a part of my soul. It felt so good to share my art.

In honor of National Poetry Month, I’m broadcasting two poems using SoundCloud. Rochelle Soetan just shared them for the first time on her blog Tuesday Morning Love.

Please take a listen to Jacob’s Bridge, for my son, Providence, Rhode Island

This poem taught me how I can be present for my son, even when I’m on travel for work. It lightens the guilt (a useless emotion) about leaving and celebrates our ever-present connection through poetry and story.

Please take a listen to Generation Asante, for Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Wangari Maathai is founder of the Green Belt Movement. You can watch an inspiring short film about her here. I first learned about her during my years working at the African Wildlife Foundation. She proves that one person can make a difference every single day. I wrote Generation Asante in gratitude to Dr. Maathai for the air we breathe.

To read Jacob’s Bridge and Generation Asante, please visit Tuesday Morning Love by clicking here.

Asante sana for listening to my first SoundCloud recording!