Fowl Advice


The world is full of quacks. I’m starting to think this is a good thing.

Every morning, I walk over a small bridge that crosses the stream running through the local college campus. And, it has become my custom to stop and acknowledge these quacks — the campus ducks. There is a pair to whom I am partial. Mallards. They glide downstream until their rustled feathers are halted by the usual obstructions — fallen trees, large, mossy rocks, and other, floating fowl. They are un-phased by delays.

For a long time, I paid no attention to the feathered duo. I walked too fast —  my heart rate up,  burning my calories, set in my circular trajectory. But, one morning, as the ducks honked, announcing the dawn’s return, I flashed back to a memory of my grandfather:

Many years before he died, I sat in his living room. I’d taken a bar of soap from his bathroom and hid behind his couch with a wooden mallard duck that he’d displayed on his coffee table. I was a small child, and I had decided that “washing” the duck by grinding soap into its carved feathers would be a most helpful thing to do. When my grandfather discovered me, he was stern. His ducks weren’t toys. So, we stood at the kitchen sink together and he carefully removed the soap from the mallard’s etched wings.

In sobriety, I have always gone full speed ahead — no time to observe quiet waters. I quit my job. I went to rehab. I hit 12-Step — hard. I got a new job. I did the work. I never stopped to look around me. I never stopped to ask for guidance — especially not from quacks. I waited to be told the truth. I waited on orders that never came. And, when I lost my footing, I waited for a hand to reach down and pull me up. I never expected I’d learn my lesson from a pair of ducks. Yet, every morning, they honk out their reminder: “Slow down, be thoughtful in how you make your way around the trees and the rocks and other quacks that deter you.”

As the sun summits the tallest pines, I peer over the bridge’s railing. I look for my grandfather there — the mallard. I think that maybe his loyal companion is my grandmother. She died before I was born. But, I’ve been told how much my grandfather loved her — heard stories of his broken heart after she died — he was never quite the same. At his funeral, my voice cracked as I gave his eulogy. I hoped, if spirits do live on, that theirs were together.

Angels and idealism, I’m told, are for children. But, I still look for signs and symbols. I wait for messages. I have been called a seeker. I’ve been told, time and again: No external thing I seek will fix my broken things inside. So, on someone else’s word, I stopped looking. — But, the ducks keep showing up.

While home on vacation, atop a pile of cleaning products my mother had put aside, I saw a small, circular piece of stained glass. It appeared to be one, dark blue piece at first glance, but when I held it to the light, there they sat — a pair of mallard ducks. I asked my mother where she’d found it — It was from my grandfather’s house.

Sometimes, it’s best to dismiss the things we’ve been told. There are words and there are things that can be seen. I see the mallard. He is real. Visible. Audible. He invites me to remember the things that have come before and the things that linger. He reminds me: There is most certainly a spirit that lives outside myself, sent to mend the broken things. We are not alone.

At the bridge, I stop and breathe. I let the honking fowl punctuate the dawn. I remember my grandfather’s laughter. I embrace a childish ideal. If we remain seekers, there will always be ducks to find. So, I peer over the bridge’s edge and watch them. Rustled feathers. Gliding happily downstream. Together.

A Drive To The Moon

Photo Jul 15, 8 31 00 PM

If someone offers you a ride to the moon — get in.

Saturday, before my adventures as an astronaut, I’d resigned myself to a night alone. Book in hand, cat sprawled on the floor by my side — it had all the makings of a quiet and humble evening. But, as I lay there, turning pages, a rowdy-Saturday-night-crowd walked past my window. All on their way to the pub around the corner, I’m sure. Their voices were pitched high, you could hear their shared excitement. They held back their laughter, only to have it explode on the corner and echo back off the walls of my living room. It made my heart ache.

I miss that. That camaraderie. That feeling of not-knowing where the night is going to go — but, knowing it’s going to be good. I so seldom feel that anymore. It makes me feel old — expired.  Sometimes I find myself thinking that sobriety has stolen my flare for living. Muted my spirit. I miss those wild days where I didn’t care about what could happen next, and drunk or not — I felt like I lived in every moment.

As the pub-goer’s voices disappeared around the corner, my phone rang. A friend of mine was headed to the Columbia River Gorge to gaze at the super moon through his fancy telescope. He asked me if I wanted to join his group. My first thought was, of course, to say “No.” I looked down at my legs listlessly — I sported my hot-pink, cat-print pajamas. I asked myself: Is this it? Am I really in for the night?

And, though I could have fallen asleep in the next half hour and told myself on Sunday morning that I hadn’t missed a thing — I heard my old, wild voice say:

Sarah — Get up. Walk out that door. GO TO THE MOON. (And, for fuck’s sake — lose the cat pajamas.)

And so, I went, sans pajamas. My friends and I drove into a rare, hot, Portland night. The car’s AC gave me goosebumps. We didn’t have to worry about a thing — not even each other. Easy. It felt like breathing a sigh I’d been holding onto for years. It felt like — letting go. My insides shook with unexpected happiness I’d forgotten I could feel. My laughter bounced off the glass windows as we flew down Highway 84 — All for the sake of staring out into the dark.

We arrived at the Vista House, which peers into the mouth of the great Columbia River Gorge. As we parked, tourists howled at the moon. In the dark, the red, blinking lights of the Bonneville dam sent me cryptic messages. I felt like Gatsby, untethered. For just a moment, I was free. My bangs — blown loose from their bobby pin.

I lay on the steps of the lookout point, my grey hoodie pressed to the cement. The giant moon peered into the depths of me with his golden eye. And, there, I found myself entirely present. I was a cluster of molecules in a small gust of cool, river air. I was a beat in the rhythm of the dam’s pulsing-red-lights. I was another vibration in the hum of voices behind me — struggling to adjust the telescope.

I’m here.

Under this royal blue blanket of Oregon sky, dotted with stars, I am reminded what it is to be alive. Unplanned and wild. I am as lit up as the moon himself. I am. Here, it is both dark and bright. Empty and full. Like Baba Ram Dass says — to be present is to feel everything and nothing at once — it’s all happening.

This is my trip. Man.

The moon moves across the telescope’s lens. I see him. He sees me.

And, the next moment — He’s gone.


Stay saucy,


Fortunes and Freedom


July 4th, 1776 — A few, super-rad, old dudes signed off on our freedom. And so it is — ‘Merica.

This year, I watched fireworks explode as little children waved their sparklers high. My neighbors sat in lawn chairs on the curb. American flags waved off the sides of their craftsman homes as a warm breeze swelled and dusk fell over Portland. Believe it or not, I actually spent this 4th of July thinking about independence. My country’s and my own. It was only a few, short years ago, that this day was nothing more than a good reason to drink.

Today, sobriety is my freedom. I’m not afforded it because of my birth place or my passport. It isn’t a matter of country. However, it is about allegiance — to one’s self. It has everything to do with this ground I stand on. Solid. Sure. Terra firma with integrity. It feels like something worth protecting — worth fighting for. That ground is mine. Not my country’s. Not my parent’s. Not my lover’s. Mine. But, still, I often give it away without thinking.

I once thought freedom was something given. Something we have or don’t have — an object. It isn’t. Freedom is a feeling.

I don’t feel free. Fears punctuate my life. Each day is a short. little. sentence. I am meant to be a run-on, of that, I am certain. The kicker is: Fear isn’t real. It’s something we choose to believe. It’s our own, internal government. We choose this dictator because it makes our choices easy. Life becomes black and white. And, in that simplicity, we mistake inaction for liberation.

I’m guarded. Blocked. My armies wait at the ready to fight, or retreat — I’m still not sure. I’ve had this desperate yearning to move: To move on, to move out, to move my physical body. But, instead, I sit still. Feeling powerless and defeated, I did what any woo-woo, Oregonian, half-blooded-hippie would do: I had my tarot cards read.

I met with my card reader for the first time in a booth at an Indian buffet and we didn’t say much. I told her my birthday. That’s it. She read my cards after I gently touched my palm to each of her two decks. I listened eagerly. I was waiting to be told what to do. Guide me. Show me. Tell me. That’s what I wanted. I traded one dictator for another.

Then — The Eight of Swords. My advice card. My reader pointed to the card and said: “The swords are just fear. The Woman doesn’t see it now– not yet — but, eventually, she will realize she can just walk between them and be free.”


Maybe it was the universe’s cosmic pull. Maybe it was the magical woman who hugged me goodbye, warmly, after knowing me only an hour. Maybe it was the cards. Truthfully, I don’t know what it was, but, when I left that restaurant, my clothing spiced with the perfume of India — I didn’t give a fuck about fear.

There is nothing real that stands between us and our freedom. The freedom that exists is the freedom we create. Assign your own limits accordingly.

So, this 4th of July, I declared my own independence. And, as the teenage boys across the street launched their sky rocket above our street, its red plume descending over us like fallen stars, I gripped my flip-flops to the asphalt — my terra firma — and I made a wish.

May we always feel our freedom — and have the courage to dance between our swords.

Stay saucy,



A Series Of Messes


Just walk into it.

Walk into the room and if you have something to say. Say it.

Silence may be all there is in that moment. Let it hang there. Observe it as you would a painting. Let your moment’s museum echo with the footsteps only you can hear.

Take a chance.

Since ditching the bottle, I’ve had my share of messes. Moments where I wished that there was some way to make things simpler, or lighter, anything other than what they were. But, sobriety won’t clean a mess, it will only make it easier to see. So, there they were, as they were, these moments, inevitable and unchanging. Uncomfortable and unbreached.

I learn the same lesson over and over again in sobriety: Life is too wild. Untamable. So, let it buck underneath you, and prepare to be thrown. The hard road is the only road. Take it. Quit fighting it. Surrender to what was never under your control in the first place.

Life is just a series of messes. Revel in them. Without our messes, everything becomes meaningless.

This past weekend: A mess.

I literally walked in circles. I waited for a phone call.  I paged through books, pretending to read. I turned on my music with the illusion I’d hear anything other than my own thoughts.

And then, it came. The messy moment. My arms extended to embrace the thing I still cannot see. Feather or thorn, it’s anyone’s guess.

In the quiet of my own museum, I received my instructions: Take a chance.

On myself. On someone else. On living without fear.

So, I took a risk. The messy kind. Because walking in circles will get you nowhere. Phone calls are only as good as who’s on the other end of the line. Books are only great when there’s a story on every. fucking. page. And, you’ll only dance to music you can hear, so, if your thoughts are too loud — turn up the volume.



Stay saucy,





There’s just this moment. Now.


When I first discovered Ram Dass, I was a lost soul.

I felt stuck. I was still drinking heavily, but, I was starting to question the road I was on. I knew in my gut that there was no way for me to keep up with my own lifestyle. I was afraid of who I was becoming. I didn’t know how to change. I didn’t know who to be. And, I was afraid to ask for help.

In my confusion, I began to read voraciously. And, in a passage of  Anne LaMott’s Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith, she mentions reading, and having a life-changing experience with, Ram Dass’ classic: The Only Dance There Is. I immediately went to my local bookstore and bought a copy. The moment I cracked open the spine, Ram Dass exploded into my heart. His language: woo woo, hippie-dippy, far-out, and super groovy, spoke to me. He was unapologetic about his place in the Universe. His presence was his own. I envied his clarity and confidence. In his own, marked place of presence, he made me feel PRESENT and ALIVE.

It was only a few months after reading The Only Dance There Is that I called my parents and told them I needed help: I wanted to stop drinking.  And, with their support, I was able to leave my job and enter a six month, holistic, outpatient rehab center.

Without drinking or using drugs I had no choice but to be present. Of course, I tried to distract myself. I obsessed. I got lost. But, eventually, I found myself in a moment where I had to stay. A moment where I had no choice but to experience what was happening. A moment that is everything and nothing simultaneously. Yes, it’s far out.

When I found my presence, it was scary. I’d spent most of my adult life attempting to escape such moments. Yet, somehow, it came to pass that I was actually seeking my own presence, my own unapologetic being.

Sobriety is the ability to be fully present. Any type of addiction cuts us off from our authentic state. It was difficult for me to get to a place where that concept made sense. I spent a lot of time missing my drinks. I was convinced I was missing out on something. But, eventually the opposite was revealed: I had been missing out on lots of things by continuing to drink and use drugs. Being present is the ultimate tool. If you can live with yourself, you can be anywhere, do anything, and feel any and every emotion, because no matter what, you’ll be authentically you. That’s all there is.

For the first time, I became present. I became available to myself and to the infinite Universe of which we are all an important part. It is a gift that I sincerely hope everyone has the opportunity to receive.

This week I encourage you to stop and Be. Here. Now.

How will you show up for yourself and the world today? What stops you from being present? Share your story in the comments…I want to hear it…

Stay saucy,