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I have a Spotify playlist titled “Full Album LOVES”.  Today I wanted to listen to Guster’s “Keep It Together” and listened to a song or two before I asked my housemate if he’d like a breakfast sandwich with zucchini from our garden.  Sidebar – you should see this garden.  My housemate put his blood, sweat, tears, money, and LOVE into this beautiful garden creation.  We eat from our backyard almost every night and I’m learning the in’s and out’s of the gardening world day by day.  I feel so blessed to live here with one of bestest friends!

B Garden

When I came back down to my place from the Tree House (top floor), Jackson Browne’s “The Next Voice You Hear” had just started.  YES!!  I love me some Jackson Browne on a gorgeous summer day such as today. This artist makes my heart and soul soar.  His lyrics so profoundly describe many experiences I’ve had throughout my entire life.  For example, Late of the Sky (the song after the Fountain of Sorrow – which was the catalyst for this blog post) described my relationship an ex-boyfriend/first love I lived with.  So much, in fact, I played it for him a couple times.  Jackson Browne says it best sometimes.  The relationship may not have lasted, but I am still in the same home we moved into in March 2008.

The next song after Late for the Sky, The Pretender.  Oh, The Pretender.  This was the song that started it for me.  I heard it in the soundtrack of “Mister Holland’s Opus”.  It brought me to tears at 16 years old and still does today.  ““The Pretender” is the story of a man who betrays his ideals and principles in pursuit of the almighty dollar” (Jim Beviglia –  The activist, humanist, and lover in me, that my mother raised me to be, wants to scream this song from the top of my lungs just because “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”  Where does this struggle come from?  Pathology?  Poverty?  Race?  Gender?  All of these reasons and so many more.  I’m happy to discuss Jackson Browne’s songs with you at great length another time.

The song before Late for the Sky is called Fountain of Sorrow.  After the second verse was complete, I was immersed in my Fountain of Sorrow tears as they came streaming down my cheeks.  The story of this song is told through the perspective of someone who is looking through old photographs.  They come upon a photograph of a friend and describes in detail the moment this photograph was taken.

“You were turning ’round to see who was behind you
And I took your childish laughter by surprise
And at the moment that my camera happened to find you
There was just a trace of sorrow in your eyes”

Today, as Fountain of Sorrow played on my system, I glanced at a collection photographs placed purposely on my mother’s hutch.  My mother’s lens caught a 3 year old Marinda in a field surrounded by milk weed reaching out to touch the seeds.

Reaching out...

My mother died in February ’13.  That summer/early fall that year, when I would think about her or when I’d need some validation or a SIGN, a milkweed seed would float my way and dance around me in the wind.  From that point on they would represent my angels, universe signs, spirits… but it started long before my mother died, didn’t it?  That little girl in that picture, who wasn’t capable of understanding the depth of loss, was fascinated by a “weed” that 28 years later would remind her of loved ones past.

Milkweed Marinda 2

Never could I have guessed that on a beautiful Friday afternoon in July I would break down my walls and cry… HARD.  I cried for my 3 your old self.  She did not know why her father never came back after that accident.  She was there to witness but did not know… or did she?  The fact that I was triggered by the song and photo combination shows how far I have come and how much work still needs to be done.

               Milkweed Marinda 3      Milkweed Marinda 4

These moments of vulnerability, especially in public, are usually so fleeting.  Like the friend in Jackson Browne’s song who captured the look of sorrow in another, I see it in myself.  There are, however, many facets of loss/grief and can only truly be understood if you are the person experiencing this pain.  Sure, we can compare breakups, near-death-experiences, and death of our close family members and friends (all forms of loss/grief), but loss is complex and should be treated with LOVE and COMPASSION above all.  It does not come naturally for everyone.  There will be many who won’t see your sorrow and cannot understand your pain.  They may judge you.  They may even say hurtful things that are NOT yours to own.  Do not forget that your grief is unique to your spirit and is your job to be in it, understand it,  and move through it.  Not everyone has the same pace because we do not have the same mind and body.  Be gentle with yourself now and all of the parts of yourself that make up the beautiful you that you are.

Grief July '15


The Faces Of Love

For your listening enjoyment while reading – Carry On by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young

My Life Through My Lens. Self Love at 24.

My Life Through My Lens. Self Love and introspection at 24.


Rarely do #TBT but I couldn’t help myself when I found this lonely picture at the bottom of a box. I was 24 and had just returned from a trip to Guinea, Africa​ with the lovely women of Marafanyi Percussion and I was starting to unravel. I was deeply moved by the connections made in Africa, though deliberately cut off communication because it was (sometimes still is) my way of coping with loss. I do not like this trait.

In this photo, my walls are covered with pictures from the summer of ’05 Bonnaroo road trip with my two besties from college, Erin and Adrianne, a gigantic poster of Dave Matthews (remember loving his lips in this shot), and a poster of Jim Morrison & his written poetry I had since I was 16​. We were single ladies open to adventure and LOVE!!

Love, the prospect of true love has always inspired me to continue to grow and be the best person I can be for myself and for the man I was going to shack up and make the babies with, haha!

The symbolism of this photograph is quite beautiful.  Did I intentionally leave a space in my heart-shaped hands for another head to fill or is that how I interpret it now? I recall there being a lot of self-love and necessary self-validation reminding me that I was in the right place during that time period. Because of this state of mind, the universe gave me all I ever asked for. I traveled the country with a couple of bands, Bonerama​ and Porter Batiste Stoltz​, from New Orleans for 2.5 years and was introduced to NO-LOVE.

Nearing the end of my time at this music promotional company, I was ready to find a man to settle down with. I was 26 and always felt I was born to be a momma. I looked for love in all the wrong places and sometimes it persistently pushed its way into my life (successfully), held on longer than necessary, and allowed me to catch a fleeting glimpse. I made mistakes but not without a lesson to follow. Some lessons repeated themselves just to make sure I was listening. Lucky me.

More than ever I can relate to that 24-year-old bright-eyed and inspired young woman; I’m single, on the right path, and open to opportunity.  The 26-year-old is present and continues to want a family.  The 32 present self welcomes these parts of herself but will not seek love.  She understands now that love will find a way because love is everywhere.  She is also wise and knows exactly what she wants and will not stay in an emotional holding pattern.

I will allow this photo to foster self-love and remind me that the right partnership will find its way. It is written.

I welcome life’s simple pleasures and will fully embrace the goddess within me, my connection to it all, and my life’s purpose.

Self Love at 32

I love you.


Transforming into 2015

I dedicate this reflection to my loved ones passed. And most recently (10.17.14), my great uncle F. Charles Froelicher (a newly found family support post-mother’s death), who believed in me and supported me as I made the leap to become a Dance/Movement Therapist.

Changing is not just changing the things outside of us. First of all we need the right view that transcends all notions including of being and non-being, creator and creature, mind and spirit. That kind of insight is crucial for transformation and healing

~*~Thich Nhat Hanh ~*~

I have been struggling with finding the right words to express the many feelings and experiences I have been having for the past 11 months.  Twenty-fourteen was just a continuation of twenty-thirteen’s life shattering challenges and, finally, I’m beginning to see the patterns in the broken glass around me.  I am finding that there is beauty and bravery in looking at the broken pieces and understanding how they came to shape.  Among the chards of experience, there lays the glue made of truth, resilience, self-worth, a slew of emotions, inspiration and dreams.  I believe there are also unknown ingredients calling to be discovered, which I imagine will take the rest of my life to find.

The last I wrote I was one week away from giving a TED talk at a school my aunt teaches at in Greenwich, CT.  Days later I passed on this opportunity as I fell into a deep sadness.  Everything just felt more difficult when I’d get caught in the undertow.  School needed all of my energy and there were others who depleted it, including my own psyche.  I am gradually making the shift to focus on what I was set out to do and take a step back from things and people who are blocking that progress.  This also means getting out of my own damn way.

I’m grateful for this newly formed sense of self.  I’ve caught glimpses of *me* throughout the years but I’ve never been forced to look this closely.  Inside I’m finding the difference between what I want and what I need.  I’m picking up each piece/part of myself and trying to understand it and it’s relationship with other parts of myself.  If this does not make sense to you, click: Internal Family Therapies.  This therapeutic method works wonders for me and I feel that I am on a path to integrate the two (Parts Work and DMT) into my life and practice.

What now?

My friend and fellow Dance/Movement Therapist-in-training, Liana, posted her prayers today and I’d like to share them here because they resonate with my heart:

I pray that I seek the support that I need in 2015, have the bravery to receive it, and walk strongly toward the visions that sustain me personally and n

ourish us collectively.

I pray that I experience deeper vulnerability and greater love.

I pray for all people everywhere to rise up and protect the Earth.

I pray for the healing of the waters.

I pray that I may know my ancestors and heal myself for my great-grandchildren.

I pray for strength to speak my truths more often and utilize my privilege wisely, knowing that the work of peace and justice is never done.

I pray to listen more keenly to guidance in all forms.

I pray that I think before I speak.

I pray for more interaction with elders and children.

I pray for the deep knowing that everything is unfolding perfectly.

Aho, ase, amen.

As this year quickly came to an end, I have been reminding myself of the many things I am grateful for this year.  Here are a few:

❈ My late great uncle Chuck, who flew into my life with gentleness and ease right after my mother passed away.  I was living in New Orleans at the time, waitressing, doing alright, and then everything changed.  I was in need of financial and emotional support after having fallen into a depression, paralyzed by grief.  He diplomatically took me under his wing and showed me  he believed in me.  His support and kind words of encouragement got me through the first half of graduate school and I honestly couldn’t have done it without him.  He’s is now a guiding light and angel.  I will never forget his generosity, compassion, and perseverance.

F. Charles Froelicher - "an educator and conservationist who believed strongly in the value of the outdoors experience for strengthening young minds and bodies"   and a dear friend of mine for the last year and a half of his life.

F. Charles Froelicher – “an educator and conservationist who believed strongly in the value of the outdoors experience for strengthening young minds and bodies”
and a dear friend of mine for the last year and a half of his life.


Chuck as a young man.

Chuck as a young man.


❈ I have a wonderful relationship with the recipient of my mother’s face, Carmen Blandin Tarleton, and her love Sheldon Stein.  At times it feels surreal but there are no negative thoughts or feelings associated with this gift.  My mother’s death was out of my control and I quickly accepted this reality.  I feel lucky to be able to kiss my mother’s face on occasion and watch her lips move as Carmen speaks, smiles, and smooches.  I’m honored to continue to speak on my Mum’s behalf and the powerful gift of organ donation.  I will be speaking in San Diego in April with Carmen and am truly looking forward to seeing her.  She just became a grandma at the end of last year.  My first thought was, “wow, this grandchild will know her face as the same face I knew so well for 30 years.”  I can’t wait to meet sweet Judah.  And congratulations to Hannah and Davis.  He’s a precious little bean!


Sheldon (Carmen's sweetheart), Carmen, and Myself in my kitchen in Cambridge!

❈ I witnessed my mother’s bright smiling floragraph (natural material mosaic) cruise by on the Donate Life Rose Bowl Parade float on New Years day 2014.  It now resides in her hutch which sits in my bedroom in Cambridge.  What an honor – what a legacy.  Still feels like a dream.

The Rosebowl parade float unveiling.  Tears were streaming... Mom is on the top left.

The Rosebowl parade float unveiling. Tears were streaming… Mom is on the top left.

❈ Experienced my first spiritual medium, John Holland.  I was gifted two tickets by my beautiful friend Marie Pechet and out of the 60 people there, 8 or so received readings including myself.  My father came through… I now feel more connected to him more than ever.  If you’d like to know more send me a personal message.

The last summer we spent together... "Dad sees it all", is how John ended his reading ❤

The last summer we spent together… “Dad sees it all”, is how John ended his reading ❤

❈ My internship at The Guild for Human Services is a perfect fit.  I’m participating in expressive therapy groups and movement intervention with students with a wide range of disabilities – most having experienced trauma in one form or another.  This job has really put my life into perspective.  I’m learning every moment I am there and am able to exercise my enthusiasm for artistic expression and healing through movement.  It’s reassuring and validating that I was born to do this.  Loving graduate school ❤

Inside the Icosahedron in my Movement Observation and Analysis course!  Dance/Movement Therapy for life!!

Inside the Icosahedron in my Movement Observation and Analysis course! Dance/Movement Therapy for life!!

❈ I was given a miracle ticket out to Santa Cruz to meet my new fairy goddaughter, Lyra Anne, for Christmas.  My college roommate/dear friend for 13 years (along with her sweet hubby) brought a sweet gift into this world and I got to spend her first Christmas with them all.  I also played two full rounds (two of the best I’ve ever played) of disc golf at DeLaveaga park, which happened to be directly up the street from my friend’s new home. This would not have been possible without the help of my Auntie Do and Aunt Deb who knew I needed a warm and loving Christmas.

Lyra and Meme meet for the first time!

Lyra and Meme meet for the first time!

Adrianne and Justin Bortnick with their 6 week old Lyra Anne.  Blessed!

Adrianne and Justin Bortnick with their 6 week old Lyra Anne. Blessed!

Deb and I after we finished loading up the truck to move my mother's things to my home in Cambridge.

Deb and I after we finished loading up the truck to move my mother’s things to my home in Cambridge.

Hess- Foss- Righter Family!   (L: Dan Foss - Deb's son, Deb Foss, Me, Ben Hess -my aunt's son, and Donna Hess - "Auntie Do"

Hess- Foss- Righter Family!
(L: Dan Foss – Deb’s son, Deb Foss, Me, Ben Hess -my aunt’s son, and Donna Hess – “Auntie Do”

❈ My fairy godson, Jazz, down south in New Orleans.  He brightens up my day when I see his smiling face and every time I hear him say “Meme” my heart skips a beat. Because my mother never remarried or had children I’ve had to create brother and sister relationships on my own.  Jazz’s parents are a perfect example of my extended family and I’m blessed to know them.  Thank you, Good-Stone’s! I love you.

Jazz and Meme - Summer hang in RI.

Jazz and Meme – Summer hang in RI.

Good-Stone Family Love plus MeMe in the corner!

Good-Stone Family Love plus MeMe in the corner!

❈ I have the greatest friends in the world.  The amount of love and support that is given within the particular circle is never-ending.  I look forward to growing old with you all and welcome friendships as rich as those we have created through the musical web of the local Camberville (Cambridge & Somerville) music scene, Lesley’s Graduate program, and Life Alive connections.

Flowers from friends.  It reads:  We are thinking about you, praying for you, loving you, and here to support you through these dark days.  You're not alone, never alone. Love and light, The Cambridge-Somerville, Music Lovin', Dancin', Onesie wearin', Love Crew.

Flowers from friends. It reads: We are thinking about you, praying for you, loving you, and here to support you through these dark days. You’re not alone, never alone. Love and light, The Cambridge-Somerville, Music Lovin’, Dancin’, Onesie wearin’, Love Crew.

❈ Grateful to be still living in the same apartment I’ve lived in for 7 years (minus the 4 months I lived in New Orleans) in March.  It is now filled with my mother’s priceless household items… and her pendulum prisms.  Rainbows everyday.  Home sweet home.

Chai loves prisms too!

Chai loves prisms too!

Studying away in my cozy living room!

Studying away in my cozy living room!

Eye see a rainbow!

Eye see a rainbow!

As I enter this new year, uncertain as to how I can continue to attend Lesley full-time without getting a full-time job, I stay open to the possibilities of miracles.  I will continue to focus on my creative path and the healing art of Dance Movement Therapy/Expressive Therapies.  My life was not set out to be an easy one, but I do believe that making peace with my past, staying mindful in the present, and accepting the unpredictability of my future is the first step to healing and self-compassion.

Moving forward with love

Moving forward with love

Facing the Future


A new year has begun though the memories of the past 11 months linger – rightfully so.  A significant loss, so tragic, so sudden, as the loss of my mother, will take many moons to heal. I’m accepting of this.  I am still grieving my her – everyday is a new day and every breath is a blessing . It seems like yesterday we talked on the phone planning her trip to New Orleans in February.  She never came and my heart still aches for one more conversation, one more hug, one more laugh, one more dance…

Everything is different.  When Mom left her physical body I felt a piece of my soul travel with her.  And that shred of soul was replaced with my universal potential hugged by my mother’s spirit – and I was reborn.


The week of her death I was feeling more than I’ve felt at any one time in my life.  I was born into grief, again, and I had the feeling I felt this before.  Perhaps I experienced this after my father’s and my accident in ’84 or maybe it was from another life. Either way, I verbalized this intense feeling to everyone who came to visit me the week before her memorial service (a week after she passed on).  As much as I was in my mind and above, I was consumed with new physical bodily sensations. My mental image of my physical body was not my own – it was my mother’s – specifically her face.  I remember it vividly and luckily instead of keeping this all consuming feeling inside I shared it.  I never felt so present.  I was able to sit and listen, hold space energetically for people who came into our house, and articulate all that I was feeling while simultaneously feeling that if I looked into a mirror I would see my mother, not me.  Never did I get a shocking response or a weird look when I shared this sensation with those I trusted; it was as if they understood.  Anyone who knew the type of relationship my mother and I had didn’t need an explanation.

Reflecting Orphan

My mother made life comfortable for me by being the loving, nurturing, supportive, and giving person she was. Some may see this relationship as very co-dependent but I saw her as my companion. We shared our experiences and did everything we could to help each other when we were in need. We talked about the state of the world, family frustrations, relationships, finances, work, friendly gatherings, movies… life.  Both my mother and I never sought out therapy until a year before her passing.  Through therapy she was better able to understand her emotional pain and received validation for her sensitivity.  I always though that one day I might have to take care of her – and that was ok.  She took care of a woman with severe cerebral palsy who was developmentally 2 years old for 18 YEARS!  Can you imagine?!  I would have never sent my mother to a nursing home or assisted living.  I had this idea that I would make it work and I would take care of her for the rest of her days.  I also thought there would be a lot of time in between but I also know that time flies in the blink of your eyes.  I had the opportunity, a year before I started grad school, to move down south to New Orleans.  I took it.  I wanted to be more independent and I didn’t want to regret staying in Massachusetts forever (though I do love MA).  While I was down there I would only talk to my mother a couple times per week (which was a lot less than usual).  At one point she bought an iPhone and we started video chatting.  This felt right.  There was a healthy separation now and I couldn’t wait to live close to her again when it was time to return to school.  We spoke about our future and dreams of one day buying a house in New Orleans when I was opening my expressive therapy community centers after graduation.

Peas in a Pod

Right as our relationship was about to blossom,  she was gone, in an instant.  My mother and I lived for one another. She was taught the “life’s too short” lesson at 27 years old when she lost her husband, my father, to a drunk driver.  Why?  When I first heard the words “there’s nothing else they can do” at the hospital on February 12, 2013, I stood up, threw my arms in the air and exclaimed loudly, “WHAT FUCKING HAND WAS I FUCKING DEALT HERE???”  I was in the company of people/family I had known my whole life and though it was shocking for some to hear those words come out of my mouth I questioned why another precious person in my life was taken so soon.  I felt so alone.

I’m beginning to realize that these experiences were all supposed to be.  It doesn’t make my life any easier to say this but it’s medicine for my heart and mind.  I carry on day-to-day and have an amazing amount of support from my core group of friends (famibly) and others (some who were not in my life until this tragedy hit) – I’m thankful for these souls everyday.

What’s next?

I’ve spoken of my mother and her selfless gifts or organ and tissue donation in front of millions of people and will continue to be an advocate for organ donation and will promote living your life with love and compassion. I’m documenting my grieving process in order to help others who feel the physical and psychological pain of loss through coping exercises and validation that everyone’s process is different and natural to only the person suffering.  How do we move through it?  I’m discovering new formations everyday.  I will finish grad school and use my gifts to nurture and heal those I’m capable of helping. I will put my energy into being the agent of change I know I am. I’m one week away from giving a TED Talk  at Greenwich Country Day School and am honored they chose me.  My audience will be predominently 6th graders!  I’m not sure if that makes it easier or harder to write it.  The session will be filmed and I promise to post the link when it’s time.

As I face my future I know one thing is for certain: all we have is now.

All We Have Is Now

I Am Here and She is Everywhere

My Family 11.26.82

I started this email blast well over a month ago, revising it every time I came back to it. Forgive me for my lack of communication.  You’ve been on my mind and in my heart.

a) I’ve never been busier in my life; b) Tasks that used to come so easily seem to take a lot longer to accomplish this year; and c) I’m running on fumes.  My heart is still very raw and I’m still getting used to life without my mother as well as getting used to being in the public eye talking about her – the woman she was and the gifts she left behind.

This takes a lot of energy… but I am trusting the process.

Trust the Process

Yesterday was my birthday.  I turned 31 (thirty-one-derful according to my friends) though I feel I aged 10 years this year.  Honestly, there is much to be grateful for and this birthday I was again reminded of the immense amount of love and support I have from friends and family near and far.  My 31st trip around the sun consisted of talking to my best friend and Fairy Godson in New Orleans, cleaned the house immaculate, created art and dedicated it to my loved ones, took over a section in a local club (Lizard Lounge) with 15 of some of my favorite people and danced the night away to one of my favorite bands, Session Americana.  It was truly a soul fulfilling day/night. Even the times I broke down and cried, I found it healing to not hold back my grief and tears.  I miss my Mom and my both my Mum and Dad are heavy on my mind this birthday.

Sidebar – I suggest taping your parents, children, and/or someone who is special to you singing the “Happy Birthday” song.  I did and I’ll cherish it forever.

For YOU From Moi

November 12th marked  nine months since my mother left this earth to carry on her agenda in her divine realm.  How fast the time has gone.  It still feels like yesterday when she and I spoke about what to pack for her visit to New Orleans.  She was planning on leaving three days after she died to spend a week in my new apartment •*¨*•.¸¸❤¸¸.•*¨*• Life.

 As you most of you know, so much has happened between her passing and now.

I started grad school at Lesley University this fall studying Dance Movement Therapy.  This  is a profession I was born to do and both my mother and I knew it even before I was accepted.  I’m enjoying the material and the process of healing myself through authentic movement.  I’m just at the beginning stages of detailed intensive case study on myself that I hope will help others who have had significant losses in their lives process their grief through body-centered therapies as well as other mindful exercises such as controlled breathing, writing, visual art, yoga, and more.  My own grieving process feels very natural.  No medication, a lot of crying, and sharing publicly and in group therapy settings.  I never knew it could be so healing.  Though the interviews can be emotionally draining hours later, I love talking about my mother …the resilient, hard-working, selfless woman she was…

Flower Mamas

I’ve had the opportunity to share my experiences with donating my mother’s organs and tissue dozens of times and am still filling my calendar with speaking dates for the next few months.  Below you will find a list of publications who covered Carmen Tarleton and my mother’s story since Carmen revealed her new face to the world.  Balancing interviews and school is challenging but I’ve managed to keep my composure and keep up with school work.

♬♪ Radio Interview 

NPR’s All Things Considered with Melissa Block 

✿~`~,~~Video Interviews~~,~`~✿

The Katie Couric Show

Press Conference ~ Carmen Reveals Her New Face 

Voice of America Interview 

The Verge (Article and Video)

Al Jazeera America (still waiting for the DVD to arrive in the mail – not online)

German TV (N/A)

German TV Shot

Chronicle is planning a 30 minute segment as well…

Printed Interviews

Daily Mail UK (very thorough)

NY Times 

Reader’s Digest – 20 page article – publication date pending (soon)

NY Times Magazine“The Lives They Lived” tribute

This story was picked up by publications all over the world.  The Daily Mail Online was the best out of the dozens I read.

Speaking Opportunities

New England Organ Bank – Training for new representatives

New England Organ Bank – Conference for ICU Nurses and Hospital Staff

UMASS Worcester Hospital – Nursing Professional Development Department


I knew that my mother helped many people, though I thought it was close a dozen.  I just got word today that I was off by 200!!  My mother’s beautiful and healthy body helped over 200 people.  This brings me comfort in knowing she has helped so many:

  • Liver
  • Left and Right Kidney
  • Facial graft
  • Heart for research
  • Bone: 194 grafts produced, 190 distributed to the following states/country:  Maryland, Massachusetts, and Utah; also to South Korea.
  • Skin: 13 Grafts Produced / None have been distributed yet to date / All Grafts will be used for Breast Reconstruction Post-Mastectomy.

My mother is famous. So famous, in fact, right now a flora-graph is being created in her honor for the 125th Rose Bowl parade in Pasadena California on New Years Day.  Her portrait will be made up of organic materials, such as flowers, coffee beans, and seeds.  It is then mailed out to Cambridge MA where, on December 17th, I’ll be hosting a ceremonial decorating party for my mother at The Dance Complex to place the finishing touches on the flora-graph.  It is then mailed back to be placed on the Donate Life Rose Bowl float.  Donate Life is flying my sweetheart, Brian, and I out to participate and pay tribute to my mother.

Read her bio and find out how you can pay tribute by dedicating a rose to be placed on the float.

Mom Rose Bowl

If you’d like to see the slideshow I made for Mum’s memorial service click below:

My Mother is Love

For all of you who sent sympathy cards, I know I’ve told most of you in person how much your words truly meant to me.  I do plan on reading them all again and taking time with my “thank you’s” and one-by-one you’ll all know how I truly feel.  I will keep your words close to my heart as the days pass.

Since it’s Thanksgiving, I would like to share a few things that I am grateful for.  A list I should carry around with me as a constant reminder.


  • The 30 years I had with my mother.  Through all of our experiences we knew we had each other to lean on.  I am proud to to be her child and proud of the way I was raised.
  • My cat Chai Love.  A big ol’ tiger cat that loves unconditionally and doesn’t know how much he has changed my life.  Great traveling buddy, I might add.
  • My supportive and loving boyfriend, Brian.  He challenges me, makes me laugh, and is extremely helpful in so many situations. I love you.
  • My life long soulmate friends I have here in Cambridge/Somerville.  Words cannot express how honored I am to be in your lives.  You beautiful, positive, creative and supportive spirits inspire me everyday.
  • My family members who were always there but not close, who then became a positive loving light in my life when I felt like I was drowning. I love you so much.
  • My new friends post-Mom’s passing.  I cannot wait to spend more quality time with you and learn your stories and dance with you.
  • The very few high school friends and MCLA friends I still have who continue to amaze me as I lurk around on your facebook pages ❤ I miss you.
  • My friends down in N’awlins. You show me how to let go of my inhibitions and be my funky self.  I love your city.
  • The Good-Stone’s. I must single out my FAIRY GODSON, Alexander Jazz. MeMe love’s you. EMJ ❤
  • Letter’s I receive from strangers moved and inspired by my mother’s story.
  • Carmen Blandin Tarleton. Need I say more?
  • Norma Canner – the founder of Lesley’s Dance Therapy program.  You have paved a way for me to follow my dreams of helping people, young and old, express their playful creative natural selves and, in turn, heal themselves.  To start a movement through movement.
  • My apartment (almost 6 years in the same place) and my roommates.  We tell each other all the time how much love we have for one another.  We’re quite lucky.
  • My mobility.  I don’t take for granted that I can twirl and bounce.  I’m blessed to have these big hips, tiny feet and hands, and a head that can whip around while I dance.
  • ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸❤¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪Music♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸❤¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ The universal language.
  • Easily accessible food options.  Again, we’re very lucky.  Food is love and comfort.
  • Kind hearted and selfless people who do what they can to help others when they’re in need by reading the signs, using common sense, and who believe in you because they see you.
  • My mother’s friends.  I feel your love and I know how much she loved you all.

I think that’s all the energy I can give in one blog.  I do plan on writing a year review before the new year which will include our summer road trip with Mom’s ashes, family visits, and more…

Write to me.  Call me.  Send telepathic messages. And I hope to spend some quality time with you all in the new year.

Gratitude ☆*:·. Choose happiness…

Marinda SnowMarinda Snow Righter


Organ donation is usually the last thing on the minds of those who have lost someone suddenly.  I know it was for me.  But I am here today to share my experience and the impact it’s had on my life.  There’s absolutely nothing that anyone can do to prepare for a loss such as this.  But there were certain people who helped guide me through those last moments in my mother’s physical presence. They listened, heard what was unspoken, and showed compassion.

The week leading up to “the phone call” was Carnival down in New Orleans (also known as Mardi Gras). I had been living there for only 4 months and looking forward to my mother’s visit the following week.  My boyfriend Brain was visiting for his very first Mardi Gras.  We were having the time of our lives.  On Lundi Gras night I got a voicemail from my mother telling me she had a bad headache “which never happens. I think I’d feel a lot better if I heard your voice”, she said.  It was very late when I got the message and I was babysitting my Fairy Godchild at the time, so I would call her in the morning. I never got to call her back.

After 9 hours of travel we arrived at UMASS Worcester on Mardi Gras day.  It all happened in slow motion after this.  We entered into a room full of somber family members and there was my mother, laying there peacefully in a hospital bed hooked up to all sorts of tubing.  I still didn’t know then, or perhaps I was in denial, that “there’s nothing else they can do”.   I stood there looking at my mother in disbelief.  Though the room was packed, it was just her and I.    I told her she looked beautiful (which she surprisingly did after having a massive stroke).  I then took out the two stuffed Grateful Dead “Dancing Bears”, which we bought on our first road trip to Colorado when I was 16 years old.  They were our good luck traveling bears.   I laid them on her bed along with a framed photograph of her and my father from the day of their wedding.


  My sweetheart, Brian, took out his ipod and proceeded to play her “Brokedown Palace”. I closed my eyes imagining her dancing around with that bright and contagious smile of hers.

“River going to take me, sing sweet and sleepy,

Sing me sweet and sleepy all the way back home.

It’s a far gone lullaby, sung many years ago.

Mama, mama many worlds I’ve come since I first left


A transformation was in progress and I was right there dancing with her.


Most of our experiences we cannot control.  Scary thought, right?  I never want to hear those words, “there’s nothing else they can do” again, but if I have to endure that pain over, I can only trust and believe that “this is for a reason” and there is support in place to help me cope with such an immense loss.


I accepted the reality of the situation and naturally wanted to move forward and not dwell.  I wanted to move through this heartbreak; through this deep sadness.  The only way out is through, right?  I kept reminding myself to breath and to do everything that felt natural for my body even if that meant laying on the cold hospital floor.  In that hospital room, a piece of me died while simultaneously being reborn; truly cathartic experience that would change my life forever.

The death of my mother was unfathomably painful.  My mother, my best friend, my soul mate, my everything, was moving onto bigger and better things; going on a journey I couldn’t follow her on (so I thought at the time).

Though I was still very much in a state of shock I conjured up enough strength to make decisions in a rational manner.  What would my mother want?  Like I said, we were one in the same, so the decisions were not “hard” to make, but they were nonetheless heartbreaking.  What made this emotionally

draining process a little easier was that little “❤” on her license.


Of course she was an organ donor!  That was so Mom; a selfless human being – a giver.

The staff at the Worcester Hospital was truly kind; changing my view of hospitals forever.  My family’s experiences at hospitals have never been positive; misdiagnoses, insensitivity, and a lack of empathy.  My mother was more Eastern in her beliefs, as am I, but Worcester went above and beyond to make us all comfortable. I felt blessed to be guided by some gentle souls through this process.  I was warned that the organ donation process was long but we could break at any time.  There were times I needed to lay down on the floor, stretch out my back, and breathe deep.  No one questioned that.  They were actually very attentive.  The hospital staff allowed me to hop in bed with my mother where I snuggled, held her hand, and napped by her side.  Knowing I was going to be there for a little while, they made us all feel very comfortable.  One nurse asked if she could put on Pandora’s “Grateful Dead” channel (one of my mother’s favorites).


When I awoke, there were more emotionally draining decisions to be made.  But I continued to feel the support.

My first angel organ donor rep, Denise ❤, was warm and nurturing.  I remember her kind eyes and calming smile.   When she arrived at the hospital there was no sense of urgency.  Filling out the forms, she said, could be very arduous task but kept reiterating that it’s perfectly normal to take a break.

Half way through, though I told her I was all right to go on, she read that it was time for a small break.  She took that opportunity to use the bathroom.  As soon as she left the room, I dropped to the ground and started stretching my body.  I was a struck with grief and I appreciated that small break.  When she came back in, Denise made sure I was all right (I think I may have worried her a bit) and we proceeded to fill out the papers.  My whole experience at the hospital was such a blur, especially at 1AM, but I remember Denise caring and I felt connected to this stranger.  She asked me who I was; and truly wanted to know.  I made a friend that night.

I thought the morning would never come.  I was advised by family and staff to get some sleep.  Tomorrow was going to be a long day.  When I awoke all I wanted to do was to lay down next to my mother.  My dear, sweet, peaceful mother who looked just as peaceful as she did the day before.  The nurses were kind enough to make space for me.  I climbed into her hospital bed, held her hand and fell asleep again.


Not long after I was gently awoken and politely asked if I could get up; they needed to administer some tests.  As if on cue, my 2nd New England Donor Bank ANGEL, Dan ❤, entered the hospital room with grace.  He introduced himself and told us that he was here to support and guide us through the next phase.  Whatever this meant, it was going to be ok.  I trusted him.  He asked me if I’d like a few clay moldings of my mother’s hand.  “YES! We can do that?!” After we finished four of them, he asked if I would like a lock of her hair.  “YES! GOD YES!  I would have never thought of this.”  She liked to straighten her hair but I found a natural curl that I now keep in a bottle on my shrine.  Lastly, he asked me if I’d like her EKG papers.  He proceeded to give me four triangular glass bottles filled with her heartbeat.  What beautiful gifts.  I really didn’t know what to say.  Thank you, Dan.  I’ve created the most beautiful shrines and am looking forward to creating a “shadow/memory box” full of Mother Love.


It was a long ride home from the hospital.  After barely making it up the stairs I pulled myself into bed and grieved my immense loss.   No more than 5 minutes later my house started to fill up with many loving friends.  All of them knew my mother.  I proudly shared her with my community of friends woven together by the local Cambridge/Somerville music scene.  They all welcomed her with open arms.

Dan called me a couple hours into this impromptu love fest.  I excused myself, and with Brian by my side, I took one of the most significant phone calls of my life.  He told me about this fairly new procedure that allowed those whose faces had been severely disfigured by traumatic events to have quality of life by receiving a facial transplant.  He couldn’t tell me who it was for, but he said my mother was a match and her beautiful face and skin could be the greatest gift ever given.  Without hesitation I said, “Yes, of course”.  It’s a decision I would want my family to make for me, and what my mother would want me to do.  As he explained what was to happen next, I couldn’t help but stare at this oversized Anatomy book that happened to be facing me on the floor.

My only question was, “is this person going to look like her?”  He explained that everyone had their own unique facial structure and it would mold to their face.  So, it was done the next morning… on Valentines Day.


I would be here for another hour if I started talking about Carmen.  Carmen.  Beautiful, inspiring, resilient, brave, Carmen.  I think we both feel equally as lucky to be in each other’s lives.  Our bond is strong and I feel will only strengthen over time.  Their connection, my mother’s and Carmen’s is, well, ineffable.  Love fueled and on another plane.

Eight months have gone by and there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think of her.  Every day is mother’s day.  Grief sure does come in waves.


My mother and I have experienced so much loss in our lives.  The hand that we were dealt was not an easy one.  But the key players in your life are those who are around, supporting you however they possibly can, when all feels lost.

I think of all of the angels who guided me in that hospital – ICU Nurses and Organ Donor Representatives alike.  You, as health care professionals and organ donor representatives are in a unique position.  You are present for a life altering experience for those closest in the hospital to those passing on.  It’s a major transition that families are entering into without much guidance.  Without knowing how to feel and just feeling it all.

You have the ability to guide families into making selfless and life-changing decisions, which will, in turn, give life to someone else.  What an incredible opportunity.  The key is to hold that space for people by allowing them to grieve and showing them empathy.  It’s amazing how a little eye contact can bring so much comfort.


Show your light.  Be a guiding light.  You have the ability to lead these grieving souls out of complete darkness, if only for a little while, by being genuine – by being human… and, sure, a little hand molding kit, a lock of hair, and a few bottles full of heartbeats can’t hurt.

Thank you.


            I believe that everyone has an innate capacity for creativity.  We are born with it.  My creative inspirations have varied throughout my life, though dance has remained a constant.  There is nothing like the feeling of being in my creative element and experiencing its growth in time.  In order to get “there” there is a need for nurturing/watering these seeds of creation because without this cultivation of these creative thoughts and ideas they will wither.  These intuitive, fearless, emotional, imaginative, energetic waves of creation are meant to be expressed and explored, not stuck a stagnant swamp.  It’s easier said than done, but I have found that diving in deep and relocating my childlike enthusiasm helps moves the process along. 

            I was, like most children, a highly imaginable child.  As an only child I created a world outside my “real world” full of travel adventures and elaborate performances with my 3 imaginary siblings.  This pretend play was the first form of creativity I can remember and it came so naturally.  The boulder in the backyard was really a large ship, the back porch was an open stage equipped with lights, a brilliant backdrop, and a red velvet curtain, and the driveway was a deep ocean.  I used my physical surroundings to create another world that was safe and exciting.  I took my experiences from my waking life, my dreams, books, and films and created something new – new to me.

In hindsight, during my childhood imaginative years from 5 to 12 years of age, I had experienced more than many adults.  I had already suffered two significant losses in my life – my father passed when I was two and my closest grandmother at 10 years old.  My mother suffered from depression.  I don’t remember many days with her not crying during my childhood.  My creations helped me cope and brought me a sense of peace in my chaotic world.  It was my escape.  And music was my refuge.

I come from a musically gifted family.  My father could listen to a song once and learn it on the guitar minutes after hearing it.  My mother, though she did not play an instrument, had wonderful taste in music and used her body as her instrument.  She was a beautiful natural dancer.  It was inevitable that I was going to have a deep love for music (specifically from the 60’s and 70’s) and even more predictable that the music my parents listened to would play a large part in the person I would become (and am still becoming).  Their music was a gateway into my universal potential: dance.

I had taken formal dance classes and excelled in every practice but I never felt freer than when I was spinning records in our living room.  The songs I knew the lyrics to would be sung loud and clear and lovely literal dance would be played out.  I would hang on every note, every beat, and every word.  My body would give attention to them all as I communicated with the music letting it know I understood what it was saying and that I wholeheartedly agreed.  I loved playing the part and fully immersing myself in the melody. 

There came a time when I was more interested in choreographing my own dances than taking classes from the uptight and emotionless dance teachers that I had studied with.  There were not many dance schools in the rural city and neighboring towns I grew up in.  I recall an incident in ballet class when I was 8 years old that scared me a bit.   The school had chosen “My Favorite Things” as our dance number, which just so happened to be one of my all time favorite songs from my favorite musical The Sound of Music.  My creativity started pumping through me and I could no longer keep my enthusiasm to myself.  I started singing the words where they were missing in the classical version we were using as well as adding extra movements that went along with the lyrics.  Instead of asking me to stop the owner of the company grabbed me by the arm and threw me in the corner where I was forced to watch the rest of the class.  I was devastated.  My cute and creative nature was squashed in an instant and was told I could no longer dance.  I reluctantly returned the following week to find out that I had been given a solo with the only boy in our class.  I still wonder if I would have been given that solo had I not shown my true authentically spontaneous dance moves.  I didn’t return to dance school until 2 years later. 

            Not much has changed as far as where my creative inspiration comes from.  My creative foundation lays in the experiences I have, what I read, the music I listen to, what I see, and how I feel about it all.  The spark of my creative process is usually initiated by music – the language of my soul.  When I am moved by a specific piece of music a surge of energy rushes through my entire body and pulses between my solar plexus and heart.  This very sensation has brought me to study of the various chakras/energy fields.  The longer I harvest this creative energy within, the clearer the picture becomes.  Through breath I start to visualize bodies, formations, and colors.  This stimulating experience usually motivates me to write down the song/artist, the feelings that came up for me, what I associate the song with, and any other thoughts and ideas I may have.  I have many journals full of ideas; it’s the execution of these creative bursts that happen less frequently. 

            Such sayings as, “timing is everything” and “everything for a reason” ring true for me.  When I was a child I had nothing but time.  As I’ve gotten older, and many adults can attest to this, time is a little more precious and there seems to be less of it.  Perhaps by focusing on our breath and meditatively turning inward we’ll find that imaginative child whose fearlessness, spontaneous, and free-spirited nature still resides within and wants to come out.  Then maybe those creative blockages will collapse, thus freeing up more time.  I don’t have all the answers but I have caught glimpses of what is and what could be.   The key is to stay open to all creative possibilities and remember you’re always a work in progress.

If only I could write and say exactly what I thought.  I would love to know how many thoughts I have in a day.  Wait, even better; in a given 30 seconds.  I have recently been diagnosed with ADD.  This did not come as a surprise to me but no one, not even my teachers, ever mentioned that perhaps the reason I was… ADD.  I kid you not, at parent-teacher conference night my fourth grade teacher told my mother that I was an “airhead” because I kept forgetting my trapper keeper at school.  That’s right, I had the COOLEST trapper keeper that had a cute closeup of a Doxen Dog. Oh my, I just looked up Doxen Hound and found this lil love nugget: 


 She also admitted to hiding it from me as a test to see if I would look for it.  That was her “benefit of the doubt” story.  She said I panicked, as she laughed. My mother wouldn’t allow me to come back for my last year of elementary school.

Wow, it’s been 1 1/2 hours since I started this blog.  When I first started this sentence it was “15 minutes I have returned to prove that I’ve had ADHD my whole life.  Sorry, got caught up on friend’s interesting facebook articles and then decided to update my status because I was feeling awful about missing one of my favorite bands because my heart was heavy and I didn’t(?) know anyone else who was going.”  

6.30.13 from 10:03-10:23PM – “Indecisiveness is going to be the death of me, I tell ya! I don’t remember the last time I didn’t go see a band, whom I LOVE, because I didn’t know of anyone else who was going. I know it would be great for me to let it out and DANCE but I still feel like I’m going to fall apart. Very much out of character BUT I remind myself that I am still in a transformational stage am and learning to fly again. So many obstacles to overcome but grad school starts in two months. Oh my heart. Oh my healing.” 

I’ve always felt overwhelmed about the many unfinished projects I have.  I always feel that there aren’t enough hours in the day.  I’m always thinking about my love relationship and/or friend’s who need some extra healing thoughts. Now, that has magnified.  I think of my mother all of the time.  We’re closer than I ever thought possible and that just makes my new life that much more challenge.  It’s manifests mind and body.  I’m in pain all of the time 😦 I’m glad I’m able to write. 

Lately, I’ve been keeping busy by excessively cleaning, writing, driving around… but really nothing for myself.  The answers are out there.  I have all the tools I need – music, mobility, an open heart…  

Speaking of tools, I need to go sow a dress.  It’s vintage with a Puritan-like (in a cool way) style; flowy bell short sleeves and lace for a high belt… I float in it… and I would rather not go another day without it. 


 Keep Talking.

“For millions of years mankind lived just like the animals
Then something happenend which unleashed the power of our imagination
We learned to talk

There’s a silence surrounding me
I can’t seem to think straight
I’ll sit in the corner
No one can bother me
I think I should speak now ___________ Why won’t you talk to me
I can’t seem to speak now ____________ You never talk to me
My words won’t come out right ________ What are you thinking
I feel like I’m drowning _____________ What are you feeling
I’m feeling weak now _________________ Why won’t you talk to me
But I can’t show my weakness _________ You never talk to me
I sometimes wonder ___________________ What are you thinking
Where do we go from here _____________ What are you feeling

It doesn’t have to be like this
All we need to do is make sure we keep talking

Why won’t you talk to me _____________ I feel like I’m drowning
You never talk to me _________________ You know I can’t breathe now
What are you thinking ________________ We’re going nowhere
What are you feeling _________________ We’re going nowhere

Why won’t you talk to me
You never talk to me
What are you thinking
Where do we go from here

It doesn’t have to be like this
All we need to do is make sure we keep talking”


Marinda Snow Love


PS.  Love yourself.

Carpe Diem

I have many projects that I have started and never finished. Classic ADD move. Like this blog, for example, I started it 4 years ago with every intention on listening to a new record per week while writing… anything. I’d write in the same style as I do in a my hard covered journals by quoting certain songs I was listening to at that moment that happen to evoke certain memories or feelings. Even better, I could include songs, videos, photographs, and links to more information. There’s so much information out there and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.
The challenge is prioritizing that list. What’s right for you? What’s urgent?
So, anyway I’ve come to accept this as normal and there are people people in the same boat as I am. However, I’ve got this lil thing called ADD that can “get in the way” of executing these projects. *Solsbury Hill – Peter Gabriel* Heck, I did 4 other things since I stared to finish this draft. That’s right, I started this one on May 1st. There are 7 others that haven’t been touched since the day I started them. I remember how this one started. This blog entry was started during the first out of many hard cries I had in May. It started here:

Oh, a good hard cry feels so good now. Chai just flopped on the bed. This somehow snapped me out of my sadness and I suddenly wanted to finish every project I ever started.
Dancing videos, photo uploads, write my story, yoga everyday, tackle my pile of crafts including skirts I need to sew, relearn how to play guitar, choreograph… yoga once a day <— my new addition and inspiration for finishing this blog.

Without going too deep into my current situation, let me just say that this intense transition/change has flipped me upside down, inside out, and left me naked… raw… new. I need balance back in my life. Grief is extremely physical and is messing with my equilibrium. I was meant to go thorough this. I was put on this earth for a very significant reason. It was written and will be discovered in time. In order to get there, I must do as I say. I must not be afraid to ask for help. The answer is always "no" unless I try. *Last Goodbye – Jeff Buckley*

We have this one beautiful life to live and dreams to fulfill. Don't let anything stand in your way. And remember to keep talking, keep creating, keep an open mind, and keep the positivity flowing. It's easier when you're satisfying your soul.

What are you waiting for, Marinda? You've already started…

This is a lil self motivation blog announcing that I'm going to focus on strengthening my core by stretching my body everyday. Whether it be my Yin Yoga or Michael Franti Yoga DVD or "Creating My Own Yoga" Session. There's so much pain in my body right now… if I don't work out my kinks I'll pay for it later. I'll call it preparation for grad school…

Preparing myself for something.

Thoughts for the Day

I like to talk/type it out. It’s a Righter thing. My dad use to write letters home to his sister while he was away at boarding school and while he was living in Colorado. I think my favorite was a letter he wrote to my Aunt while was in the doctor’s office waiting to get a wort removed. He looked around the room and started guessing everyone’s ailment. “She has a mole she’s worried about. He has erectile dysfunction judging by his wife’s body language.” He was a whimsical fellah so I’m told. I’m pretty sure I inherited some his qualities. He could sit down at a piano and play the first song that came to mind. *Earworm ~ Running on Empty ~ Jackson Browne* My grandfather (my dad’s dad) has a gorgeous ol’ Martin D18 (sings like an angel). When my dad asked my papa if he could have it my grandfather challenged him to learn all of Alice’s Restaurant. That was the only condition. He did. I’m sure it was an emotional day. We listen to Alice’s Restaurant every Thanksgiving at noon sharp on that ol’ radio on the Vineyard. He was also a very intelligent man. Loved books but didn’t like school. Related to adults more than the average child. He was an old soul. That may be why he died to young.

I love this time of year. I love getting older. Yeah, yeah, I know some of you are thinking, “Wait until you hit 40! Don’t think you’ll agree with that sentiment then”, BUT I don’t think my attitude towards life is going to change. I am grateful for every day I am here on this earth. Yeah, there are some days I just want to pack up all of my shit and move out into the country and seclude myself for a year… maybe 6 months… maybe 3 to start. Yeah, I’m good with that number. Odd numbers play a significant roll in my life though my birthday is on an even number. It creates a balance. 28 in 19 days. This is a year of change and… well… I’m excited to challenge myself to be the best I can be. For me. Let the healing begin!

Thoughts for the day: Take responsibility for your actions and think about how your actions may affect others before acting… it will affect you greater than you can comprehend at the moment. Be in the moment but don’t get caught up in it. Breathe through a thought or an emotion and move onto the next. If there is one that sticks put it in the back of your mind and come back to it at another time. Write things down.

I know they are totally cliche BUT it goes deeper than that. You and I both know it.

All-in-all I’m happy. That’s why I felt the need to write and share how I’m feeling at this particular moment. I’m perpetual motion. Drinking coffee helps. As does working at a vegetarian restaurant. Come visit! Life Alive is located in Central Square in Cambridge right next to city hall and across the street from the post office on Mass Ave.

I’m itching to travel. I have a plane credit that I must use before March. Where should I go? Who can I visit?

I’m in love with the idea of true love. Is it out there? Yes, it is written.