Cinderella revisited



sitting by the hearth
wearing soot dusted clothes that
beg to be washed clean

stirring gloomy embers with an
iron poker of obsession
hoping to relight passion in
dark dead coals

memories of bright flames
sear my brain
forgetting how fast they
consumed reason
turned ardor to
leaving blisters on my

fire that burned
more than warmed
then died
leaving me even more
alone in the
chilled solitary night

can I take my
cinderella self and
search the garden for my
fairy godmother
armed with wand and

not to find a prince
but to take
just one ride in the
golden carriage of
my life

Courtesy of the heart

To the reader: This poem was created from an incredible page published in a 12-step daily meditation book, which in turn was based on a quote by Goethe:

Goethe It gives me a goal to aspire to when my thoughts and actions are quite determined to go in a destructive direction.


POEMS FOR RECOVERY by Dr. Karen Stephen AKA DocFlamingo

courtesy of the heart
akin to love
out of which arises
pure courtesy in outward behavior

courtesy of the heart
seems detached
lacks the fervor of the vengeful heart
the disappointment of the longing heart
the envy of the seeking heart
the pain of the broken heart

courtesy of the heart
interferes not with the
life decisions of others
neither plays games
nor passes judgment
declines to give advice
has no need to seek approval
does not accept guilt
nor lays blame on others
rather than criticizes

courtesy of the heart is
never snobbish
nor superior
finds no difference between
a president or a busboy
learns from everyone
welcomes new ideas
embraces strangers

courtesy of the heart
feels joy
instead of fear
sees with fresh eyes
even through tears

The notebook

IMG_0764vintage palms
suggest a
British empire hazed morning
a prim ruched bodice
gossamer covered arms
pen held delicately
scribbling a memoir of the

five ninety-five price tag
on the back
speaks bargain store

if I remember correctly
(five years dim my memories)
a valentine’s gift
when I had a valentine
who celebrated my

I meant to write on the
palm-shaded pages

IMG_0765but the end came before
a single letter was formed
before even the germ of a
literary thought
found its way from
my brain to the
virgin folio

which still lies unspoiled by
regret or rue
the void an
homage to
dreams unmet


old lovesa tight spot in my chest
aches from the inside out
I want to
rock my heart
sing it a lullaby

revelations slip out
roused from dark places
deep hurt
flash frozen at eighteen
unthawed after fifty years in
cold storage
singed by freezer burn

past bliss
squints in the bright light of today
losing definition
more chimera than

a whiff of his cologne
provokes an intimate connection
did we breathe the same air
share the same bed
touch skin to skin
or was it all

changed with age and wear
snap together with the strength of
opposite polarities
he startled by new feelings
me saddened by the irretrievable

serendipity joins two bare wires which
spark as eyes meet in
air charged with expectation

selves are turned inside out
frayed inner seams exposed
mine more than his
healing and disappointment are
stitched together in a
bitter-sweet quilt

my higher power watches
seeing if I can find my way
force myself into real choices
not hypotheticals

every desire is coated with the
plain truth of distance
lives rooted in different soils

old obsessions are defused
left lifeless on the floor
swept away by the stiff broom of
common sense

new understandings of the past are
separate lives
filled with choices
some good
some lousy
thankful we didn’t visit those choices
on each other
we never divorced each other
a gift in and of itself
never fought over money or children
never nagged
never closed our ears

can we accept it was all meant to be
exactly as it occurred
paths ordained to diverge
amid pain and misunderstanding
predestined now to intertwine
just long enough to
uncover buried secrets

we part with a body memory that
no one else will share or

our futures turn
more in keeping with our
current lives
but this reunion
this unexpected reconciliation
lingers to sweetly
flavor reality

Maybe I need to write a poem about waiting



romance in fifth gear
full steam ahead
damn the torpedoes

a friend suggests
let love unfold as
rose in bloom
I nod as if in

inside my hasty heart
turns a first greeting into
I do

porcelain held mocha
raised with seductive grace
hints at fingers that could
hold other than a
lips that could
nibble on
softer harder things

his words a prelude to my
his syllables orchestrated to
fit my melody

my nagging big girl brain
throws up a red flag at
my impatience
my hungry heart
rips it down
a disappearing waitress
fairy godmother-like
more time
to charm
to drag him down
my garden path
gravel embedded in his

reluctant goodbyes
on cracked sidewalk
he leans in for a
tentative kiss
I wangle more with
desired effect

two weeks pass
no word
cancel order for
bridal bouquet
refund honeymoon fare to
swing wrecking ball
smash to smithereens
unshared desires
forever afters
new beginnings are hers
not mine

give that waiting thing
holding back
reserving judgment
grown-up stuff
a chance
move past thinking
waiting is for others
let it be a good idea for

not a good idea
I hate good ideas
let it be my idea
let waiting
my wild heart

Maybe I need an oil change…

drain oilmaybe I need an oil change
clean out that gunk that’s mucking up my life
remove the sludge that slows my engine
saps my get up and go


new oildrain out the sludge
pour in new ideas
so I can run more smoothly
head in new directions
explore new horizons


tire worn while I’m at it
rotate those old thoughts
don’t let them wear me down
in the same sore places
keep them from making me miserable
in the same old way
endangering my life as I drive through life

I don’t need a whole new me
just a daily tune up
every 6000 minutes or sooner

lifetime guaranteeif I take good care of me
I could last a lifetime
satisfaction guaranteed


When in doubt

bad catpernicious thoughts
in my brain
determined to declare me
winner in this battle of

angry words lurk in
stamped addressed envelope in
my purse
each syllable soaked in
revenged intent
‘gainst him her
refusing to be

count to ten
if needed to
ten thousand
count blessings
god things
number hallowed gifts
intended for
hollow spaces

listen to
heart-meant cautions from
loving lips of

read meaning-true
paragraphs of hope from the
same hand in
better times

recite prayers of
try to mean it

drop not into
blue box
drop into god box

Being enough…a mantra

A friend passed this on to me. Certainly food for thought:

enoughWhat if for just one breath, I was enough?
That I didn’t have anything to gain or lose, to become or change.
That I, in this body, in this moment was enough?
How much more space would I create in my heart for happiness?
For contentment?
For love?

For just this one breath, I am enough.

flamingo_flying_med_clIn my Doc Flamingo persona, I am a licensed Psychologist in California and after a 40-year career as a therapist, am now serving as the Mental Health Clinical Director for a large health plan providing medical and mental health services to over 500,000 Medi-Cal recipients in 14 northern CA counties. In my Karen Stephen writer persona, I invite you to LIKE my AUTHOR FACEBOOK PAGE and tell me about yours.


Roundup for my soul…

DSC01772 banish reluctance
pouty lip
acknowledge god-given gift
faculty to bear
what comes to pass

broad spectrum
fast acting post-emergent

mix with tears

guaranteed control
perennial fear
annual disappointments

graft new vein
on broken heart
plow garden-fresh furrow
into hard soil of resistant mind
plant hardy seed
anticipate growth

Signing up to be “optional”

Maya AngelouI’ve found that Maya Angelou’s sayings pop up when least expected and most appreciated. I had been struggling with a personal dilemma and seeing her words on my FB page clarified the issue for me in that striking way that sudden insight can cause a connection between your brain, your heart, and your gut at precisely the same instant in time, producing a lightning bolt of truth.

That bolt of truth led me to a vision of an application form being completed by the person I had chosen to make a priority. I could just see the person filling in all the required information: name, address, date of birth, phone numbers, next of kin, occupation, vehicle driven. Even a list of top daily activities and priorities. Then at the very bottom, in case the applicant had something to add was this:

Additional interests ______________________ (optional).

And there I saw my name, scribbled there by none other than me.

I reached for my mental eraser and scrubbed my name off the line. And instantly a flood of similar applications flashed before my eyes, each and every one listing my name in one of the required information fields: Beloved mother, favorite grandmother, valued employee, trusted confidant, and BFF.

Moral of the story: Never sign up to be optional when you already are the real thing.