Monthly Archives: February 2010


In the garden alongside the house, a few of the towering bamboo branches are bent to the ground, their leaves trapped under the final mounds of heavy winter snow that still has not melted. It looks as if they are permanently arched and will have to be cut down. When the snow is brushed away from one stalk, there is a surprise: it rebounds completely, assuming its full 30 foot height. One by one, as they are cleared of snow, all of the bamboo stalks sail back into place in the grove, green and strong, ready to receive the first rays of spring light.

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Posted by on February 28, 2010 in Meditations on Nature, Winter


Letting Go

There is absolutely nothing in my life that I have wanted to hold onto that I have held onto.

In this moment I am attached to, I am in love with, I am clinging to, I am chasing after nothing. Nothing at all. It is quite wonderful.

I am completely detached from everything I ever longed for, grasped, tried to hold onto, wished for, had for a time, loved and lost.

All the men are gone.

I have broken up with alcohol.

My nest is nearly empty.

Various friends have fallen away due to neglect (mine or theirs), turning inward, hardening of the heart, misunderstandings.

Yet I can say on this cold night when I am alone with no one to comfort me, I am completely all right. I did not want to be in this position. Nonetheless here I am, quite happy, excited by my strange circumstances.

I am grateful to be alive and to be sober and to have survived everything I have been through. I am grateful for the wisdom on loan to me for this lifetime. I am grateful for the life forces that have humbled me, and stripped away everything I held onto for so long.

I quite like sitting here at what feels like the bottom of my life. I like the worm’s eye view. I feel as if I have finally landed after grasping and falling and grasping and falling and grasping and falling again. I have landed and am still alive. There is freedom in my detachment. It is quite joyful down here.

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Posted by on February 27, 2010 in Clarity, Essays


About the Author

My name is Mary Ellin and I am a writer, musician and single mother from the East Coast of the United States. As a journalist for many national magazines (Redbook, Smithsonian, Travel & Leisure, McCall’s, Audubon, Ms., USA Weekend and others), I have always been interested in health, human psychology, relationships and the family, and, especially, in writing articles that are useful to the reader. I have learned from the Twelve Step program that an essential part of recovery is sharing with and helping others. I truly hope that I can employ my experiences in life, love and recovery to assist and amuse you, the reader of this blog. I am honored that you are paying me a visit. I wish us a serene and joyful future. Maybe we can get there together.

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Posted by on February 25, 2010 in Author Bio



The nest on my porch is empty now but in the spring of 2008 it belonged to a pair of robins and their two babies. After several weeks of dropping worms into eager beaks, the robin parents retreated to adjacent trees and watched the fledglings attempt to leave. At first the downy young robins stood side by side, perhaps plotting their exit strategies. Then they took off in opposite directions. One glided safely to a cluster of shrubs at the garden’s edge while the other became entangled in a piece of porch furniture. The ill-fated bird was rescued and placed back in the nest. He stood there for several days, motionless except for his darting eyes, while his parents shrieked at him from opposite sides of the porch. One day, he was gone, and so were they.

My son will be leaving home soon but the robin’s nest will remain on the porch pillar, a comforting reminder of the bond between us and between all living things.

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Posted by on February 24, 2010 in Meditations on Nature, Winter



High above the slushy alley, in the pristine air of an early spring morning, the cardinals are clearly visible: flashes of scarlet darting among dun colored branches. They are audible, too, calling out an intriguing pattern of short and long sounds:”wh wh wh wh wh wh whoooooooooooooo,” they sing over and over. In the distance the mourning doves warble their plaintive  counterpoint: “wh whoooooooooooooooo. wh whooooooo. wh whoooooooo.”

An SUV looms into view, grinding loudly and heavily up the alleyway,  greenish and enormous. For a moment it appears to threaten the birds. Perhaps its ugly sounds will frighten them and silence their songs. Eventually, it finds its place in the alley–a dirty slab of concrete beside a garden gate–pulls in and silences itself instead.

The birds do not appear to have noticed. They carry on their rhythmic chants, their search for food, their other rituals, undisturbed.

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Posted by on February 22, 2010 in Meditations on Nature, Winter


Out Of Season?

Ever since I embarked on the bizarre adventure known as Middle Aged Dating I have puzzled over why it is so difficult for people to mate at midlife. I know it is not universally so but judging from an unscientific survey of almost every single woman I know over 45, including myself, and also from seeing the same male faces on Match dot Com year after lonesome year, I have concluded that there is a very powerful force working against us.

I think the problem might be that we are out of season.

Please forgive me, my agnostic friends, while I turn for a moment to the one spiritual tome that all my Jewish, Episcopal, Presbyterian and Catholic ancestors can agree on, which is, of course, the Old Testament, and, specifically, the oft-quoted Book of Ecclesiastes.

Anyone who was a folkie, a hippie, an activist, or simply alive in the late 1960s will recognize the verses from Ecclesiastes earnestly chorused again and again (and again) by folk trio  Peter Paul and Mary: “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.” (Perhaps you, like me, a pre-teen already overflowing with buckets of romantic optimism, sang along.)

So, human mating has a season. You probably already knew that. You probably also know that human mating season comes before you have children not when you are paying for college. To borrow a phrase from Bill Shakespeare, “ripeness is all.”

Clearly middle aged mating is out of season. But does that really interfere with the process?

Plastic surgeons and purveyors of cosmeceuticals will tell you, and they won’t be entirely incorrect, that with the right combination of botox, breast implants, and various other magical advances in skincare and body sculpting, you can become seasonless. These trompe l’oeuil tricks can fool the pheromones of potential mates no matter what your age. Hormone treatments and borrowed ova now allow women in their fifties, even sixties, to bear children.


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Posted by on February 21, 2010 in Essays, Oops I Dated Again



Twilight is falling noticeably later these days. At 6 p.m. the sky is still  luminous, tinted lavender and, in the west, shades of coral, pastels pale as eggshells. The path up the hill is clean and shoveled, bordered by melting mounds of snow. Overhead the birds are bolder as they dive into the winter-wild shrubs to take shelter. The air is still and soft and at the top of the hill, spring awaits in a forsythia bush thick with buds barely contained by their outer leaves, the life force pushing against the cold, the snow, the approaching darkness.


Posted by on February 20, 2010 in Meditations on Nature, Winter