The City of the Fallen Women

Did you know there was more to traveling than sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll? Me neither! But, as it turns out, when you are in a foreign country you can sit in a church, look at art, listen to music, dance, drink ginger lemonade, wander through markets, watch parades, soak in Hot Springs, hike botanical gardens, draw, write, dream, wonder, wander, and try all of the tacos at the taco stands. 

You can even find yourself co-leading a retreat with beautiful artist Linda Laino, at Casa de la Noche, a former bordello in San Miguel de Allende AKA the City of the Fallen Women. Casa de la Noche, even hosts a celebration of Saint Bridget, the Patron Saint of the Fallen Women, every February 1. Our group missed this particular holiday, but certainly found many ways to honor it.

Read More
Valley HaggardComment
Light Training

Monday afternoon a woman in magnificent yellow robes, a head wrap, and golden earrings pulled up to my house with my Usui Reiki Master Certificate. Our hug was huge. Aqiylah gave me a gift I don’t really have words for.

When I was 23 and on a train home from Alaska drinking Miller Lite in the smoking car with a boyfriend I’d made 10 minutes before, I heard a crazy voice in my head. It was so crazy I had to write it down. You are a Messenger of Light, the voice said. I knew it was crazy because a) it sounded crazy and b) because of all my darkness. There were a million secrets written on my body beneath my clothes. I didn't want light shined on me much less did I have any light to shine on others.

Read More
Did he ever really love me?

Like most women, I have spent far too many decades of my life having no idea of my worth.

Last Friday, in line at Bank of America, attempting to change the signature card on my parent’s account, the photograph of a man with whom I was once obsessed popped up in my phone. My face flushed, my heart pounded. I hit delete. I wondered, did he ever really love me? But before I could finish the thought it was replaced with a more powerful thought. WHO THE HELL CARES? And that is major progress for me.

Read More
Valley HaggardComment
Passports and Plane Tickets

We have our passports and our plane tickets. We have shuttle buses and and Airbnbs and we’re ready for boarding passes. In two weeks I will fly to Mexico, my first trip out of the country in 23 years. There are so many reasons I haven't traveled before and so many reasons I'm ready to now.

Read More
Valley HaggardComment
The Bureaucracy of Grief

This week I have lost a set of keys, my medicine bag, my sunglasses, my phone. I've missed appointments, forgotten to return phone calls, found myself forgetting what I was going to say or why I why I was going to say it. You have a grief brain, friends tell me. I'm in survival mode, fight or flight.

Read More
Bedlam

My dad was was a social worker before he went into carpentry. He work with troubled youth, senior citizens, and in a mental hospital for the criminally insane. His patients were the bedtime stories of my youth.

The nurses at my dad's new facility say he reminds them of a social worker still. He says things like don't let your mother mood go down with the sun and the Isak Dinesen quote, The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea.

Read More
Valley HaggardComment
When Everything Falls Apart

This week I picked up Mary’s ashes and placed them in the wooden box made by her son from her parent’s dining room table. I brought death certificates to the bank, the insurance company, credit cards, and social security. I’ve taken my dad for a haircut and a straight edge razor shave. We’ve had a memorial service, Valentine’s Day, and a birthday party. We’ve looked at a thousand old pictures, tracing our shared and separate past. I’ve heard him weeping beside me and from his room across the house.

Read More
Valley HaggardComment
The Dying Time

In the dying time, time slows down. Every thing is sacred and significant. Each breath is a count away from the last. In the dying time, the sacred and the profane walk hand in hand. What were her last words? Did we get the password for her phone? Did she hear us sing? Did she hear the things we didn’t say? What will we do with all these swabs and tubes? What did her parents look like when she saw them in the room? Who will wear her clothes? Who will wear her shoes? Who will wear her wedding ring?

Read More
Valley Haggard Comment
Saint Mary

I started calling my step-mother, Mary, St. Mary around the time my dad was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia with Parkinson's disease. She had the unflappable tenacity to get him a proper diagnosis at Saint John's when the neurologists in Richmond’s medical community were able to come up with nothing better than temporary psychosis. Plus, she worked at St. Mary’s in HR. She never loses her temper, her patience never waivers. Saint Mary.

Read More
Valley HaggardComment
Showing Up

Right now it’s all about showing up. Showing up for myself, for my family, for my class. Showing up for birthday celebrations, death conversations, commitments, and responsibilities. Right now it’s about getting out of bed, getting dressed, and fully inhabiting my day rather than creeping around the dark edges of it. Right now there’s no way to face life except face first and head on.

Read More
Valley Haggard Comment