New Year’s Eve Celebration Table

On the last night of each year, I sit quietly for a moment and imagine the year as a house that I am leaving, as if leaving a dinner party where I sat with an array of guests, some of them lovely and acknowledging, some of them difficult and demanding and some of them offering either unexpected blessing or challenge that asked me to become more of myself as the year unfolded. I like to imagine that I am leaving the house party of the year behind, closing the door on it and saying out loud into the cold night air Thank you, Bless you no matter how the year unfolded or how I unfolded across its days. Most years, I want to close the door of that house gently and with gratitude, and with excitement about the New Year beginning. And there are some years where I want to leave the house party setting that house on fire as I go, standing in the cold air and watching it burn big and bright and beyond me. 2017 has been a year of simply unaccountable unfoldings and revelations, personally and collectively. It has offered me so much blessing and so much challenge that as I wrote this morning I wondered on the page if I even recognize myself in the aftermath of this year stretching me like no other year in my life has. I imagined briefly opening the door of the house party that 2017 has been, my boot heels crossing its threshold, and I had a fairly intense moment of wanting to set the damn house of 2017 on fire and then raise a toast to its burning to the ground as I walked away.

And then, after that moment, I realized that I didn’t want to end this year burning. I want to end it offering up my usual prayers for light and grace, love and hope to make themselves known to me as the new year unfolds, at the same time that I thank this past year for its blessings, even if it was me that got scorched and somewhat resurrected by its unfolding. I decided that I am ending this year imagining that the house party of 2017 had been in MY house, and that 2017 was MY guest, and instead of burning my own house down, I’m going to walk 2017 to my front door at midnight tonight and usher it over my threshold, thanking it graciously like a guest who stayed too long. And after it leaves and I close the door behind it and stand quietly in my own home, I’m going to say out loud, as my Dad was known to say about guests in our home who had tried his legendary patience after they left: Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

However you choose to end the incomprehensible year that 2017 has been, I hope that you do it shining, with some gratitude in your heart and some graciousness in your manner, with love holding you, grace keeping you, gentle light guiding you and with a heart-true wish to carry you into the year that awaits us. You are all beautiful people and I’m grateful for your presence and I wish you all peace and only peace, tonight as we clear the year and in the days ahead.

All peace to each one of you. Dora
© 2017 Dora E. McQuaid


Photographer Unknown

He followed me. I wondered: What did I look like to him in that moment, in the flare of headlights, the Christmas lights wrapping the darkened lamppost above us? Could he smell my perfume? Did he think of reaching out to catch my hand, or a bit of my hair trailing? What impulse made him follow me as I stepped off the curb into the street?

He was right there with me all along. As we left The Inn, walking the narrow little strip of sidewalk together in the dark, I could feel how close he was to me, him having stepped back right as we came off of the patio onto the sidewalk to make room for me to walk ahead of him, him half a step behind on my left. Total darkness on the street in that little block, the only available light was the headlights of those passing cars and strung Christmas lights above us. The feel of him right there in the darkness as we walked overwhelmed me.

I stepped off of the sidewalk, my face all of a sudden lit up in the headlights of one of those cars traveling north and I felt electrified and illuminated. I said something quietly as explanation, under my breath, about feeling claustrophobic on that narrow strip of sidewalk, and then I moved off alone across the street, at an angle, quickly. I could feel my hair loose on my shoulders, the tops of my arms, my face now again in full darkness, my hipbones moving with my own rhythm, boot heels hard on the pavement. I was moving quickly, breaking away from the group, and yet he followed me as I split away across the darkened street.

His physical proximity, the current of energy, us moving in the darkness all of a sudden after the bright and public openness of The Inn itself – all of a sudden stepping into such darkness felt as if we’d skimmed off between the worlds, him and I now in some half space in between it all, and it overwhelmed me, how aware I was of the feel of the in-between, and the feel of him so near to me. I felt live-wire aware, like something glittering and mysterious and wholly otherworldly. Did he feel it too? All of that energy and the in-between collision? Was he as intensely aware of me as I was of him? In truth, I wanted him to take my hand, to cross the street with me, to loop his arm around my shoulders and tuck me into him so that we were walking the same rhythm together, so that I could feel the movement of his hips against mine, side-by-side, as we crossed the street together in the darkness.

“Hey, hold up.”
“Here, take my hand. I want to feel you against me as we walk together.”

I have felt alone for so long. My heart hungers so.
Does anyone ever become at ease with longing?

All peace to each one of you. Dora
©2011 Dora E. McQuaid


Anonymous/Internet Trending

This guy fleeing the wildfires claiming Ventura, California, stopping his car and then running through a field of flames to save the panicked wild rabbit…just when I think the world is going to crush my heart, the world shows me this and THIS reminds me of all that is possible between us.

All peace to each one of you, especially those of you in the path of fire.


Photographer Unknown

I am going to church at dusk in the aspen grove.
I am going to sit inside of the wind and see the green behind my eyes.
I am going to burn sweetgrass at the bottom of the stairs so that he
can take the first step.
I am going to recall the stillness of the library stacks in college and remember how I called it holy in the middle of the night.
I am going to call Joan into the air around me when I cannot conjure my own strength.
I am going to dream of leaving, of going home, of rising up and then I am going to die alone, singing.
I am going to hear him when he says it again:  
Let me hold you.
And then I am going to remind myself to not be afraid.

copyright 2016 Dora E. McQuaid


I’m excited to share this article from the North Hills Journal in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania about PAWS for Empowerment expanding its reach

Crisis Center North Working with PVSEC, Verizon to Expand Paws for Empowerment Program

“Crisis Center North is partnering with Verizon Wireless and the Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center (PVSEC) to expand its innovative Paws for Empowerment program.”

 In 2016, the program’s Canine Advocacy Advisory Board was formed with leaders in the fields of victim services and canine-assisted therapy to provide expert resources and enhanced awareness. Dora has served as a Member of the Advisory Board since its formation. If you care to support either Paws for Empowerment or Crisis Center North, please click on the program of your choice below. All donations are gratefully welcomed.

My thanks to Jennifer Monahan for such a great article, and to Eliza Lowther Hadley for allowing me to share in this article the photo of me and Pinch!

All peace to each one of you.



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the scorched earth spoken by Dora E. McQuaid


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Dora’s efforts to use her voice as an means of activism and advocacy, social and political engagement and individual and collective empowerment and healing are funded, in part, by her readers. This website provides a wide array of resources to support visitors in exploring and living into their truths, and the support offered in return has allowed Dora to maintain this website as a community-driven, advertising-free space for over sixteen years. If you find that this website offers you inspiration or support, information or resources that benefit you or your community or you appreciate Dora’s voice and efforts, please consider making a contribution to keep her work and art alive. Thank you.
All peace to you.