6 Years? You’ve Come a Long Way Baby!


The first therapist I worked with loved to torment me with moments of silence. I say torment because, for many of us, sitting with that kind of Nothingness is difficult. We immediately want to fill Nothingness up—with Busyness or Somethingness or Stuffness.

We like to fill Nothingness up with cookies! Cookies or cigarettes, alcohol, television, shopping, technology. All of those immediate-gratification things that scratch the itch just enough to let us forget. Or ignore. Or escape.

And if we don’t? GASP! If we don’t forget or ignore or escape, we have to actually face what’s inside the Nothingness, like Hurt, Sadness, Loss, Anxiety, Inadequacy, Fear, Loneliness. You know, all of those uncomfortable things we’d rather hide away than face head on.

I suppose that’s what my therapist was trying to teach me all those years ago—how to sit comfortably with that Nothingness, with that silence that makes all of the painful things louder. How else could I start to tell her about them if I didn’t know them myself? How else could I heal?

I didn’t totally understand that until SIX YEARS ago today, when I put down my last cigarette and had to sit quietly with my own painful things; when I couldn’t hide behind that cloud of smoke anymore, and had to meet my monsters face-to-face.

And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. Face-to-face every day for the past 2,190 days. 2,190 days and counting, because there is no quid pro quo about this process. The monsters don’t disappear just because you find the courage to let go of the placebo—nor does the discomfort.

Being in the moment with those monsters is still difficult—life is difficult—but as you go along, you gain muscle memory. The more you hang out with the monsters in that fully-present kind of way, the stronger you get, and you figure out new ways to deal with those painful things that don’t involve causing yourself more pain in the process.

Sure, sometimes, you just go buy cookies…but others times you take a nice long look back and realize “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby.”

Lots of love and gratitude to the folks who were there on Day One, holding me in their hearts as I started on this journey. I, quite literally, owe you my life.




She spells it slowly, smiling, as if she’s landed on a triple-word score.

But the letters spit out like broken teeth after a tough fight.

“We are, aren’t we?” she asks in the same tone she uses for

“I was a good MOTHER, wasn’t I?” and “You do LOVE me, don’t you?”

There is nothing playful in these questions, and no way to advance from her pointed puzzling of letters.

We move one space forward and two spaces back, never passing Go,

never finding meaning in the words.

But this is the ongoing game of myF…..A…..M…..I…..L…..Y

always spinning, never landing on a square that takes you home.

Words: ©2015, Jen Payne
Image: Clandestine Game XI, Omar Rayo

The Love-Hate Challenge


Recently, the lovely C.B. Wentworth invited me to the LOVE-HATE CHALLENGE. Never one to pass up a chance to flex my blogging muscles, I’ve taken up the gauntlet. The rules are pretty simple:

• Make a list of 10 things you love
• Make a list of 10 things you hate
• Nominate 10 bloggers

First of all, there are very few things I hate-hate. I was raised to be open-minded and try-everything-once, and I do my best to maintain those qualities in my daily life. (Besides, I’d much rather focus on the positive.)

But, why don’t I start with HATE, so we can get those out of the way. Ready?


  1. the absolutes of religion, politics, and western medicine
  2. lack of respect for the serial comma
  3. animal cruelty and the abuse of our environment
  4. complainers who aren’t problem solvers
  5. hypocracy
  6. learning the same lesson over and over again
  7. the inexorable invasiveness of technology
  8. development in the name of consumerism
  9. futile pursuits and being unproductive
  10. umami

Done. Now for the good stuff: LOVE!


  1. a really good book you don’t want to put down; reading; bookstores; used book sales; the smell of old books; bookshelves
  2. music as a life soundtrack; finding new music; singing out loud in my car
  3. going places; taking vacations; seeing new things; planning the next trip; maps, brochures, and tourist information centers
  4. the magic of serendipity, friendships, and falling in love; messages from angels
  5. early morning walks, walks on the off-season beach, walks in the rain; being out and about in nature
  6. taking time off and being as off-the-grid as I can tolerate; airplane mode on my iphone; realizing there’s no wifi
  7. yoga, breathing, and sanskrit chanting; incense; the sound my yoga mat makes when I roll it out on the floor; downward dog
  8. creating: writing, photography, art, food
  9. anything and anyone that makes me laugh, the harder and louder and longer the better
  10. coffee; donuts; cookies; pizza; red meat; Mexican food in Texas
  11. semicolons; not following the rules

Wanna Try? Here are 10 bloggers I’m challenging, but please, feel free to jump right in and leave your 10 Things in the comments below!

(Thanks C.B.! xoxo)


Crowing Crone

Life Is Full of Sweet Spots

Ordinary Handsome


Party and Soul

Promenade Plantings

Seven Sisters Arts

Spirituality without Borders


Writing on the Rim

IMAGE: Life Death Love Hate Pleasure Pain, Bruce Nauman, 1983

Blue Moon


I first heard the song while driving on the Boston Expressway; the green juggernaut, pre-tunnel, that careened around the backside of the city through Chinatown past Faneuil Hall and across the Charles. Flying over city rooftops, with the window down, it was sometime around 4 a.m., 1991.

I remember it viscerally — the cool air, the blur of lights, and the sweet voice of a singer I’d never heard. Her words creating a memory yet to happen, weaving heartbreak into the hope of a blue moon.

The song has come in and out of my life since — from those bittersweet moments on a Massachusetts highway through the serendipity of friendship, conversations as endless as the Texas sky, out-of-the-blue endings, and the magic of great transformations.

With news of this week’s blue moon, I was there again — driving with the window down, Memory in the passenger seat, wondering at the power of words that show up in our lives…

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Words ©2015, Jen Payne

Kiss Feeding


Before I knew,
I knew to fear
your leaving.
fed spoonfuls
of fear, and
braced for
your betrayal.

Even fledgling
romance carried
fear of loss
so heavy
I fell to
early demise,
and reinforced
her warning
that I would
surely drown.

How can I swim
with you, love,
if my wings
have been clipped
by the
sins of my mother?

Words ©2015, Jen Payne
Image: Bird and Its Nest, Georges Braque

Now Trending


The sidebar photo
leaves little
for the mind’s eye.
A familiar report.
Heartbreak by hyperlink:
Interstate 85, 1 Killed.

Random news
delivered 600 miles north
on the breath of technology
leaves me breathless
and full of memory.
If it was yesterday,
would I (click here)?
View Slideshow for details?
Find out what remains of the father, the son?

Seduced by the lure of
More Information,
how immune we have become.
Numbed and dumbed
by these machines
that choose news
for corporate value,
not the cost to our souls.

©2015, Jen Payne