Photos for January Stones and April PAD 2012 property of M J Dills (exception 1/16)

Friday, July 7, 2017

It Was the Five Year Thing

It goes without saying that I’ve been away from my blog far too long. About the time I wrote the last one in mid-February, I was moving in a direction I would never have guessed I’d venture. I've been busy. The past year had been pretty tough in a lot of ways and I was tired of listening to myself gripe about it. Moaning and groaning not only annoys friends, it also doesn’t make the future unfold into rainbows and shiny happy people laughing. If you know what I mean. 

Last summer my daughter Olivia was looking for a Plan B; she didn’t know what she wanted but she recognized her opportunities in the dental field had narrowed down to either going back to school, which meant loans and a huge investment of time or moving on to something else and keeping dental in her side pocket. 

When she told me about Arbonne in August, I listened with half an ear. She bought into it lock, stock and two whirring Magic Bullets (small blenders that change lives.) I watched. I listened some, too but I was working on finishing an intense edit of a book and didn’t have time. She lassoed family and some friends onto a health kick, and some lost weight, others shed aches and pains and all of them raved. It took me some time. In December I acquiesced. I started on the 5th of the month and detoxed over the holidays, resisting temptation and losing a few pounds. 

By January 2nd I decided to go beyond 30 days. I felt so good. I began to give up afternoon naps and slept better at night. My cravings decreased and didn’t want to eat crap. In February I started working as a consultant, a laugh really. Me? A nutrition consultant? In March I began to use the skin care products. Today, seven months later, I've lost a total of 28 pounds. I don’t just look better; I feel really good. My skin is soft and has a lovely glow that I don’t think I’ve ever had. Spots and bumps have disappeared from my face. 

This photo is on my birthday September 18, 2016.

I can’t remember the first time I heard someone say “where will you be in five years if you do this? Where will you be in five years if you don’t?” That was the heads up that socked it to me. I look back to December, the changes, and the impact of the 5 year question is profound. I thank Olivia for not beating me over the head but showing me what I could do.

The main thing I've found changing for the better is my OUTLOOK. I've never been a negative person but I can easily fall into a trap of feeling sorry for myself. With the books I’m reading (On Fire by John O’Leary; Get Over Your Damn Self by Romi Neustadt; Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod) along with the Arbonne people I’ve been associating with… my attitude is coming around pretty much 180.
                                                                                     Me in May in Mexico

I have always wanted to give back. I probably hand out way too much money to street people and I have a hard time saying no to anyone, especially my grandkids. I want very much to do more. That’s one of the big reasons I’m working with Arbonne. I want to do things like this: Homeless girls join their first Girl Scout troop at Mary's Place. 

I want to share healthy living with everyone I know. I'm on a bit of a rave. I know it seems hard to give up alcohol, sugar and bagels with cream cheese for 30 days but if I can do it, anyone can. 

I'm also going to have an Airbnb again because when I was doing that, I met some splendid, wonderful people from all over the world.  

And, of course, my writing. I've published some poetry, including in an impressive anthology, and still working on publishing my books. 

These are my goals. 

Getting healthy is not hard. It is never too late. I have about ten more pounds to drop and doing it gradually. I still eat some of those things I used to go-to when I thought I was hungry, but I find I’m not all that interested in grilled cheese sandwiches and baked-potatoes-with-everything these days. 

I’ve kept journals my entire life and often jot down notes while driving, chatting on phone, daydreaming. The past few months I’ve added three things to my daily writing: “What I’m grateful for;” “What I’m committed to;” and “What I’m excited about.”  It’s fun to go back and see how they’ve turned out.  I’m grateful for feeling better than I thought I ever could and no longer having serious joint pain. I was committed to making District Manager with Arbonne by June; I got there by July! I love reading old notes and seeing how things turn out. I'm excited to keep up this lifestyle. 

At my age, all this….ha! 

Every day I’m a little more amazed. 

Thanks for reading...........


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Life is Short

I didn’t have a valentine yesterday. I was married on Valentine’s Day 33 years ago but my life has changed drastically. Since that time, I've been single for one year less than I was legally wed, though our courtship started a few years prior to the day we tied the knot. We were inspired to make our relationship legal by a near death experience; mine. Life is short, we concurred, and we could never be sure that time was truly on our side. We grew fat and lazy in our complacency; we became comfortable in our ability to overcome first world problems. When disaster struck, we were as unprepared as waltzing partners on the ballroom floor of the Titanic. It took years for me to recover from the avalanche of shocks and revelations. I was often mistaken for a nurse because for over a year, I was an instinctive caregiver, learning more about the foibles of the human body than I’d ever cared to know about. But I rolled with the punches and I am good now. I live a solo life, involved in extended family, and with no desire to find a partner. That phase of my life is over. But it doesn't give me any more time than I was allowed before. I'm still running circles around myself.

Currently, I'm witnessing a dear friend go through similar motions as I did twenty years ago. Her husband’s illness is completely self-inflicted but the end results are similar. I can reach out and lend support but more than anything, I’m here, for venting, ranting, weeping, hugging, listening. I know the importance of having people shut up and simply BE THERE. Bottom line, that’s what friends really are for. It’s also nice to have someone to go with to movies, shopping at Nordstrom, and splitting a bottle of wine or two. 

However, I’ve found the most important part of a friend is his or her ears. And sometimes… shoulder. Many of us find that making time to lend an ear isn’t always easy. We all have busy lives, but to hear a friend say they’re too busy; don’t have enough time can be like a blunt needle in your side; it hurts. If we have time for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we have time for a phone call, or a lunch date.

In the past year I've lost some friends and we all witnessed shocking deaths of famous people we admired and loved, many gone far too soon. Let’s make time for one another until the day comes when all we have left are memories.

Thanks for reading. 


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Puerto Vallarta - Never Enough Time

Ahhhh, Mexico. How does the song go? Many songs about Mexico and they are all about wanting to go.

Shopper's Paradise
Colorful Bracelets
Los Arcos

Two weeks is just not enough, but I did have a chance to see some of my good friends; missed some who are always too busy in high season, making enough money to get them through low season; met some very likeable dogs; got a chance to spend a day at the Botanical Gardens; and visited one place I’d never been, Litibu. Though I'd driven by Litibu, this was my first time stopping.

Music - Lots and lots of music

Two events for the benefit of the animals had some great music, company (familiar faces, some I hadn’t seen in over a decade), and great food (the SPCA event was catered entirely vegan.)

Mi casa es su casa
Got my taxes paid and hired José, our wonderful Mozo at the condo complex, to do some painting and repairs. The place is ready to rent now at approx $7000 pesos/month. 

Master Bedroom

My dear longtime friends Michael and Greg took me to lunch at El Patron, a place I highly recommend for food, service, and atmosphere; dedicated Mexican environment. So good to see old friends and catch up.

Guacamole at El Patron

June and I had as many tête-à-têtes as we could fit in, everywhere from the beach at Cuates y Cuetes to my neighborhood’s Lukumbe. I sadly didn’t get to see her granddaughter Luna, a precious baby girl with a big personality, according to photos and her doting grandmother. 


Fit in one card game at the beach where Cassandra and I partnered up to whip Candace and Savannah in a round of Canasta. Candace got me back later. Attended a gathering of Women and Friends of Women, the same day a global march took place on January 21. Walked one day from the Sheraton to Zona Romantica.

Women's Gathering

One great day spent riding out to Sayulita with Candace Shaw. We had a lovely visit with Tracie Willis and saw the new work/second story addition to ChocoBanana. Then we trundled off down the back way towards Punta de Mita. Got off road and raised dust looking for the Litibu Grill. The waves at the beach were impressive, and we were told they’d been up to 18 feet the day before. Had more guacamole (I ate a lot this trip because when Twit calls for his stupid tariffs on Mexican goods, my avocado intake is going to be limited.) 

Grilled Veggies at Litibu
More Guac - Litibu

Candace and I had a sweet little rescue with us, Odie, on his way to Vancouver that evening and his furever home. Candace needed copies of his papers and on a Sunday there were no copy shops open so we stopped in Bucerias at Casa Tranquila to see if the ladies had a copier we could borrow. Joann and Patricia are really good for the ego. I was overwhelmingly welcomed, hugged and helloed. I love those two, and they were able to accommodate our paper needs, as well.

Odie and Me
Odie on his way............

The Botanical Gardens with Kathy was a perfect day. We spent hours and trotted all over the grounds, making a special visit to the chapel, having lunch in the restaurant and taking copious photos of flowers and birds. Kathy’s attempt to film a flock of green parakeets with her phone camera kept us busy. 

Here's my Heart in Puerto Vallarta
View from the Chapel
Chapel at the Gardens
Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Got my teeth cleaned, at $500 pesos. That’s $24 US dollars. And just as good a job as you will get anywhere north of the border. Teeth-cleaning is done by the dentist, so you’re with a highly qualified person. Had a pedicure/manicure at Toya’s that took over an hour; you cannot find the likes of this service anywhere in Seattle, no matter how much you pay.

I’m grateful for help from Kathy Lowther, who was my voice getting some things done that would have been more complicated with my limited Spanish; Kathy was also a great nurse when my clingy cough persisted and very generous with her Bio-magnetism, which could have been the right amount of healing I needed; Lety Benitez, who is an invaluable amiga; Jamie Coates and Saskia Guel, who have taken care of important issues in my absence; Chantel for fixing my bracelet…I love it, Chantel, thank you!

Thanks for reading.........


Me, at 17

Printed recently in Silver Birch
A Poem about 
Me, at 17


Me, at 17 (link to original)

Images like LSD trips we took fifty years ago, though far less burdened as current baggage.
Visualizing me, at 17 is laden with sentiment, old passion and a melancholy for revolution.
A child in turmoil, I learned to sit and stand and speak and live and march and sing and write and burn and ride and chant and wave and not give up.
Beyond Dylan, I was 17 and found Dave Van Ronk, Lead Belly, Mose Allison and a bit of Purple Haze.
Read José Martí, Ché, Anaïs Nin, Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg. Trekked to City Light Books. Hung out at Suzzallo and The Last Exit. Drank tea. Hitchhiked. Dreamed of extended backpacking.
There were songs of protest, love, naked guns and sheltered corporations. Lending a hand seemed like our very own idea. The Heat were the enemy; pigs.
17, a mystifying time; secrets, discoveries, experimentation, rejection, revolution, cults.
UFOs, missiles launching, southern lynching, LBJ, harm in harm’s way. Passing pipes.
Loose in the park after midnight, misunderstanding sex. Light my fire.
Driving cars while under the influence of lust.
Determining with certainty that white children and black children were treated differently, taught differently, schooled differently, ate differently, loved differently, died differently.
MLK and RFK shot. dead.
Boys I knew… supplied with guns and bewilderment, sent to a land we’d never heard of; came back in pieces, if at all.
There were undoubtedly sock hops and VWs and miniskirts and forced church attendance. There were grade-point-averages, college entrance exams and for some, there was birth control. 
And then I was 18.
AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This ancient photo was taken in the journalism classroom when I was 17, an aspiring writer, journalist, photojournalist, artist, and poet. I’ve managed to fulfill some of those dreams, in spite of getting pregnant, raising three kids, often on my own, battling nightmares, and putting dreams on hold.  (Enumclaw High School, 1966 — Enumclaw, Washington).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margo Jodyne Dills is an active member of PNWA and Hugo House in Seattle, former staff writer for Banderas News, Puerto Vallarta; writes as a guest blogger under the names of Jake Diego and Adam Garcia in Panama, Colombia, and Mexico; works as an editor, web script and travel writer on both sides of the border. She keeps busy writing poetry and excited for her soon-to-be-published novel THE BOYS. Seattle, Washington, is her permanent home but she keeps her condo in Mexico and runs there to hide when the weather gets too unbearable up north. Her friends call her Jodi. Visit her at

Thanks for reading...

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Me, In My Mother's Hat - HAPPY NEW YEAR

                                     Silver Birch - Me, in My Mother's Hat

To read a poem that was SO much fun to write, click on title under photo. A little sad and whimsical, too... I miss my mom. This is a tribute to her. 

Happy New Year!

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas Happy Hanukkah 2016

I haven’t missed Facebook nearly as much as I thought I would. I do jump on every now and again to have a look at poetry/writer’s sites but staying away has afforded me a huge (sorry, very overused word this last year) amount of time.

If anyone wants to keep up with me my blog is available at and while it’s not as newsy as Facebook, it does give a glimpse into my life. Frankly, that’s all anyone needs: a glimpse, if they are interested at all.

It’s not a secret I was devastated by the election. Without going into detail (who wants that anyway?) it’s been a pretty tough year on other levels and it seemed like icing on the cake. (The cake was made of dog poop and glazed with battery acid.)

I'm happy to share that the edit of my book is in the final, excruciating stages before it’s sent back to the small press that has temporarily accepted it. The temporary part has to do with their marketing director’s encouragement for me to seek bigger publishing houses in the meantime, and though I’ve had some interest from various agents, no one has given me the big YES, other than PageSpring, 

I continue to blog for clients and have had a lot of fun writing about Panama and Columbia this year, while keeping up with my Mexico pieces. The BIG DEAL was a poetry competition I entered, which has resulted in publication in the Sixfold Anthology.  I was amazed since the opposition was not only heavy (253 finalists) but I haven’t felt my poetry was at that stage. The first place winner received $1000 and I will admit, his poems are extraordinary. I came in at 17th and almost fell off my chair when a fellow poet pointed out the significance of my placement. The anthology will be out sometime in the spring and I will surely be announcing that on Facebook.

In other news, I’m making some changes to my eating habits at my old age. My daughter, Olivia has recently become a consultant for a nutrition/skin care line and we’ve seen several people have amazing results. I only recently got on the bandwagon myself. I’ve dropped significant weight, not hungry and don’t miss the foods that were doing my body harm. Anyone who wants to know more, I am glad to expound. J
My plan is to get my butt down to Puerto Vallarta in January. I have to pay my property taxes and take care of my place, which sits mostly (sadly) vacant. Once I deal with all my personal tchatches and do some serious donating, it will be ready to rent out for a great price.

My biggest revelation of the year was how to use my cell phone as a tool I can like, rather than hate. (Texting and autocorrect drive me nuts. I wish we could just go back to the phone on the wall with the cord that stretched around the corner. But that’s not going to happen, so adjustments are required.) One thing I do, which could be a sign of my doddering: I make elaborate lists for errands or groceries, whatever… I get in my car and arrive at my destination to realize I’ve left the list on my desk. Argh. My new MO is to take a photo of the list! Yay! All I have to do it remember the phone!

That brings to mind a tale worth telling: Yesterday I was at Pike Place Market with a friend. Anyone who isn’t familiar with the place, I will say it was packed to the rafters with tourists and indigents, a typical combination. I left my phone in the ladies room. We had visited at least two shops until I discovered it missing. Panic ensued, of course and my friend was probably a lot more supportive than I might have been. It turned out a young woman found it; she’s from Hawaii, in Seattle visiting her family for the holidays. There are angels everywhere. We do need to keep our eyes peeled for them; they might be standing right by you.

I can’t write a true Christmas letter without mentioning the Grands. They are the smartest, best looking kids I have ever known. Mila will be 13 in May and is a budding actor, singer, lawyer and a diplomatic wonder. Coco, who just turned 12 this month is a piano composer, violinist, and artist of incredible talent. Luca, who will be 9 in May is an aspiring magician who also plays piano and violin and can tell you facts about the Titanic that you probably never knew. I adore them, all three.

It’s time for us all to be kind. Be kinder. Be kindest. Give. Smile. Laugh and sing out loud. Do things you’ve always meant to do. See old friends and make new ones. Hug lots and often. Cry, if you need to; it’s good for you. Hug. Hug often and long. Give thanks. There are so many who are so much less fortunate. 2017 is going to be a great year, because we are going to make it so. Spread love; I am right now. 
 Photos are of a house that 12-year-old Coco made. The details are remarkable and I had to share.

                                                                        A sled made from popsicle sticks! 

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Busy Editing, Re-writing and Querying

First paragraph of Chapter One
Full manuscript available upon request. (That's my baby we're talking about.)
We left on a frosty morning. The crunchy gravel stuck together with bits of ice as we walked to the end of Main Street, staying low on the side of the road, waiting for trucks. We half hid in the ditch and turned our faces from anyone who’d cheerfully report to our parents that they’d seen us loitering. When we climbed a ladder into the cab of a huge semi, I burned my hand grabbing an exhaust pipe next to the door. In the next few days, every time I gripped the neck of my guitar, I pictured that exact spot in the road. 
Thank you for reading...........