Carole Rose Dowhan

  • ~ “Being alive requires of us a relationship with the mysterious, life-long experience of letting go.”            ~ Molly Fumia

Grief is complicated.

It isn’t linear. It isn’t solid. It isn’t reliable. It isn’t reasonable. It isn’t manageable. And it isn’t avoidable. It makes you feel sad, and flat, and faithless, when all you want to truly feel is joyful, and hopeful, and alive.

You know those people you try hard to avoid because they cause you to feel anxious and depleted and crappy? That’s what grief feels like, except it’s carrying with it a damp, heavy, restrictive, cloak that it places around your shoulders, when it visits.


Since losing my beautiful, faith-filled mom, this is how I’m making sense of it all, finding space for the mourning, while still clinging tightly to the sweetest love…that I have ever known.

I’m doing my best.

I’m doing my best to live in the moment, and stay productive and enlightened, and active and kind.

I’m doing my best to embrace beauty, to keep moving forward toward all that is meant for me, and to gracefully let go of all that is no longer mine.

I’m doing my best to see people as they truly are, instead of forever seeing them how I want them to be. And I’m doing my best to love them…still.

I’m doing my best to de-clutter my mind, my closets, my office, my life.

I’m letting new music enter my ears, awaken my spirit, and allow me to hear clearly the whispers of all that I am destined to create and share.  

I’m having lunch with friends and planning a trip to an island and dreaming of walking pink, sandy beaches…with you in my heart.

I’m filling my home with sweet-scented roses, like the deep red ones that bloomed faithfully in the backyard of our home…so many years ago.

I’m reading lots of books. Real ones with crisp pages that I fold at the corners to keep my place, and powerful, life-changing sentences that I paint with a sunny, yellow marker to keep them inside me forever.

I’m attempting to capture the essence of people and trees and country-sides, through the heart of my camera lens. I imagine that pressing the shutter, magically sends the beauty your way.

I love believing that.

I’m trying to eat less sugar, and less carbs, and less of the things that are hard to pronounce. But I’m finding waffles hard to give up. The ones with little blueberries, that kind of melt when toasted.

Is waffle addiction a thing?

I’m working on perfecting my pie crust, adding organic kale to my smoothies, and I’m skipping the colorful straw. Enough with the plastic.

I’m doing my best to lessen my environmental footprint, to increase my political awareness, and to strengthen my faith in miracles.

I’m pushing away resentment, pulling close forgiveness, and tearing down walls of protection.

I’m reaching out when I can, retreating when I must, and trying to stay upbeat and grateful.

I’m leaving my zone of comfort more, keeping passion alive when I stay, and being content with every road that I travel.

I’m writing early in the morning, late into the night and any time the word mountains inside me grow stronger and higher and erupt in a mighty avalanche of release.

I’m hiking snowy mountain trails with wild things that make me feel excited and fearful…and alive.

I’m praying for everyone I know, for those I used to know, and for all that I never will meet.

I’m laughing when I’m able, and I’m gravitating toward the funny humans in my life; like the country, gas station attendant who tells me a joke when I’m running on empty. 

I’m singing in the car and I’m crying in there too. Sometimes at a red light, with zero ability to stop, even when discovered by a trucker, in the next lane.

I pretend that he understands my tears.

I’m playing the seared-in-my-soul memories of you, like my favorite movie on repeat. They remind me that I am your daughter, and I carry your torch, and you live on inside me. And that helps me remember to breathe, because lately I forget to do that. Breathe, I mean.

I’m waiting for the sun to rise to wish you a good morning, and I’m waiting for the moon to rise to see you in my dreams.

Above all, I’m bursting with gratitude for the grace that allowed me to meet you, to know you, to love you, and even…to miss you.

I’m doing my best.

Love & Peace,

Carole Rose


I miss my Mom.

She’s still here. But not the way she used to be. I can visit her. I can look into her eyes, hold her hand, give her a hug. She’s still here. But… not the way she used to be.

I miss the talks we used to have.

No. Wait. We didn’t have talks. We had these soul-connecting, emotion-bursting, joy-sustaining conversations about life and love and death and every f*cking thing in-between. And she would hate that I used that word, but she would love that I left out the u.

The truth is, I could say absolutely anything to my Mom.  And I did. I could filet myself open, let all the darkness spill out…and she wouldn’t flinch. Not a bit.

One Summer, while walking back to the beach house, to get sandwiches during our annual shore trip, I spotted her walking to church. She looked flawless. Who looks flawless at the beach? Her hair was perfect. Her make-up luminous. She smelled divine. And she was dressed like a Summer wildflower – the kind that never wilts. She hugged me – even though I was all beachy and asked me to join her. She said, “Honey, it’s so beautiful. The music and the hymns give you the chills. The sunlight streams in through the stained-glass. It’s so cool with the air-conditioning, and it feels like you’re in Heaven.”

She sold me. I quickly showered, dressed, threw together lunch, delivered it to my hungry, sea-side people, and went to mass with my Mom.

One of my best decisions. One of my best memories.

When we arrived, we discovered the air-conditioning was broken. They partitioned off a small, darkened section for the service. There was no streaming, stained-glass sunlight. There was no music. There was no singing. There was no cool air, and we were close to fainting by the time the service ended.

After mass, my Mom led me to the special intention candles – the ones you light by placing a dollar in the slot. The dollar apparently has weight, and it shoots your prayer straight up to Heaven, ahead of all the non-paying prayers.

My Mom went first. Her dollar went through. Her candle was lit. Her prayer was said – and no doubt answered.

My turn. I put my dollar in. It came back out. I tried it again. It came back out. I got another dollar. I tried another candle. Same thing. I repeated this numerous times. I couldn’t get a dollar to stay in. I couldn’t get a candle to light. This couldn’t be happening. Was there a hidden camera around recording me?

I turned to my Mom and blurted out, “I’m a sinner.” And she said, with a smile, “That’s ok, honey.” At that point, we burst out laughing. We couldn’t stop. All of the other near-fainting church goers were staring at us as we ran out of that hot, dark church giggling like school girls.

My beautiful, sweet, intelligent, giving, faith-filled Mom may not have her memories. But they are not lost. They are being held inside the hearts of everyone that loves her. And she continues to inspire and teach us all. That day she taught me that the most perfect, brilliant, enormous love can be found even in the least perfect, darkened, and smallest of spaces.

So much love…to remember.

Love & Peace,

Carole Rose


~ “And with a broken wing she still sings. She keeps an eye over the sky. With a broken wing she carries her dreams. Man, you oughta see her fly.” ~ Martina McBride

Butterflies can fly broken and tattered. Their flight pattern changes constantly in order to avoid being caught by an enemy. The beautiful, winged creature in this photo had luck on its side, and managed to escape a predator by sacrificing a piece of its wing. The life span of an average butterfly is less than two weeks. This serves as a reminder to us that time is swift and precious, and this moment is all that we are promised.

It is said that how you live each day is how you live your life. So true.

Our life is now. It is the day so graciously gifted to us. It isn’t perfect. It isn’t without difficulty. And it doesn’t always resemble the beautifully filtered images that we glimpse on our phone or computer screen. Life is messy, and complicated, and magical, and beautiful, and joyful, and painful, and so damn hard at times.

But, our lives do not begin when we arrive somewhere, or complete something, or remedy a problem, or stop missing someone that we have lost.

Life doesn’t begin when we take that  island vacation, or finish our degree work, or lose the ten pounds that we believe is standing in the way of the perfect existence.

It doesn’t begin when we heal from heartbreak, or forgive a betrayal, or finish our kitchen renovation.

It doesn’t begin when we meet our soul-mate, or have children, or hold heavenly grand-babies.

It doesn’t begin when we tackle our demons, or overcome our phobias, or learn to stop pummeling ourselves and finally accept and love the person that we are.

It doesn’t begin when world problems are solved, or new politicians are elected, or when ugliness and evil is banished from this earth.

Life is today. Life is this moment. Life is all around us.

We must stop waiting for life to begin, and live fully from the deepest part of our soul. We must be grateful for each breath that we draw into our lungs. And we must keep our heart open, even when there are a million reasons to keep it closed.

The truth is, things will never be perfect. Those we love may never regain lost health. Human beings will continue to disappoint. Each new day brings with it glorious possibilities, as well as the risk of losing what we cannot live without.

But, we must remind ourselves that we are meant to be here now, and we are capable of soaring high – even with broken pieces and tattered wings. And we must believe that the more we hold, and help, and love those that need us…the more we live in the moment, the more whole we feel, and the more alive we become.

Fear nothing. Feel everything…and fly.

Peace and Love,

Carole Rose

“There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground; there are a thousand ways to go home again.” ~Rumi


These are complicated times. We are bombarded with news of terror, violence, devastation, injustice, and suffering.

In order to make a difference, to help others, to change things, it’s important to stay whole. We can’t fight battles, tackle world problems, or be of service when we are worn down and depleted.

Growing up, my family owned land in rural Pennsylvania. I can still feel the excitement that washed over me when I heard my Dad tell us we were going “to the ground”. That was followed by nine people piling into a station wagon – without seat belts, air bags, or satellite radio.

We spent the drive looking out the window at the sights, not staring down at a cell phone. We sang songs, played games, and fought with each other when the ride was too long.

My Dad would find a billboard with a message we would memorize. Later in the day, if we could repeat the message, we’d be rewarded with candy, or coins, or Juicy Fruit gum. (I miss Juicy Fruit gum.)

The ground was a magical place. Lush, green forests dotted the landscape. Rollings hills were strewn with huge boulders that we could climb. And there was a sparkling, natural spring that ran through the center, complete with an old, workable pump.

It was Heaven.

To this day, when I’m overwhelmed with the status of the world, when my sunny outlook turns gloomy, when it gets too difficult to navigate – I go “to the ground”.

I find a patch of earth, a boulder on a mountain, or a rickety, wooden dock by a lake, and I plant my bottom there. I inhale huge gulps of sweet, fresh air, let go of all that weighs me down, talk to my Maker…and melt.

Going “to the ground”, humbles me, nourishes me, and reminds me of a higher power that reigns supreme. It calls to mind a simpler time before technology invaded us, overwhelmed our senses, and robbed us of innocence. It feels like a sacred space that holds the promise of justice, and peace, and purity, and equality, and safety, and love…within its core.

At the end of my ground going experience, I always look up at the sky and repeat the “burned in my memory” contents of a billboard that once stood on the edge of a country highway, in a small, rural Pennsylvania town…so many years ago.

I say it like a prayer.

Five-eighty-two, twenty-four-ten, Buddy’s Nursery. (Dad, I still remember…everything.)

Peace xo

Carole Rose

In life, there comes a time, when you will have to go digging.

You will dig for things in your past that shaped, changed, or hurt you. You will dig for things in your present that no longer serve you, that rob your energy or take pieces of your soul. You will dig for your beliefs, your spiritual self, and your place of belonging in this world.

You will find that you will want to put off the digging. It’s exhausting. It’s challenging. And it’s honestly – pretty painful. Even if you tried hard to view your life as a fairy tale – things happen, life gets messy, and hearts get bloody and broken.

But if you want to grow and truly grab hold of the experience of living…you  need to enter the portal to your past. And you need to find a way to heal the places where you got hurt.

I remember a time before I went digging. I referred to myself as the “old me” and the “new me”. I recall one of my beloved sisters asking why I did that, and telling me that there is no “old me” or “new me”. There is just “me”.

It was at that moment – that my digging began.

I surrounded myself with the past. I drank mugs of steaming, ginger tea, and I opened the sealed, dusty boxes that contained both joyful and painful pieces of days gone by. I listened to the Todd Rundgren, Dan Fogelberg, and Genesis albums that were hidden deep in my attic. And I allowed myself to revisit things I had buried.

As the old, familiar melodies reached my ears, and the old, forgotten treasures were held in my hands, I picked up my shovel…and began to move earth. And the “new me” allowed the “old me” to experience and deal with everything I had locked away.

Sometimes it takes words from a loved one to push you toward your healing work. And sometimes it happens when you’re surrounded by the stillness of nature, and it is quiet enough to hear the whisper of God.

Wherever or however it begins, when the shift occurs, you can feel your soul opening. There is a quickening around your heart. You will see a childhood friend, a lone tree in the snow, or a tattered, old love letter. And the walls you built that separate your past self from your present self, come tumbling down. The memories of days forgotten, come flooding back. And the “who you once were” meets the “who you are now”, and they smile at one another, and they share a well-needed hug, and they forgive each other, and they invite each other in, and they meld into one being…and they carry on together.

In that holy moment, you finally become who you always were, who you have always been, and who you always will be. And you finally understand the words to your favorite, Dan Fogelberg song – the one you listened to in the bedroom of your youth. And you let go of the hurt, make peace with the past, and give yourself permission to “Love when you can. Cry when you have to. Be who you must. It’s a part of the plan.”

Happy Digging. XO

Peace and Love,

Carole Rose


Have you ever laid eyes on someone, and felt an immediate connection?

It happened to me, at the grocery store, in the frozen waffle aisle. I saw the sweetest, little old woman. She exuded such a gentleness, and I couldn’t help but smile at her, as our carts passed. She returned the most beautiful smile, and the deep, crinkly lines that appeared, revealed she spent a lifetime smiling. She wore a pretty, flowered blouse, and had full make-up on – complete with lipstick and drawn on eye-brows.

I watched her stop to get a sample of yogurt, being given out. I heard her ask the store employee about the flavors, and when they were spouted off, the woman got so excited that her drawn on eye-brows raised even higher. At that moment, I decided that if I lived that long, I plan to be just as sweet, enthusiastic and appreciative of life.

I was tempted to approach her and tell her my thoughts. But lately I am dealing with lots of emotion and if I don’t wish to be crying around the clock, I’m keeping a tight lid on my feelings.

My Mom, my touchstone, my best friend, and the person that knows me to the depths of my soul, is suffering with dementia, and doesn’t know me anymore. There are so many things I want to tell her, and I can’t. My youngest son, is leaving for college in 2 days. This child has filled my life with such immense joy, from the time he fell from God’s lap into my arms, and I am thrilled for him. He’s getting his wings, and deserves to fly free, and to incredible heights. Still, the emotion is overwhelming, and I want my Mom.

I need my Mom.

I finished my shopping, loaded the groceries into my car, and was ready to drive away – when I saw the older woman speaking to another woman, parked next to her. I couldn’t tell whether the other woman was being helpful or not, but they were exchanging words. The other car pulled out of the parking space so quickly that she almost ran over the old woman.

I immediately got out of my car to see if the old woman was alright. She told me how rude the woman parked next to her was, and how she refused to give her time to put her groceries into her car. I told her how sorry I was, and how disappointing it is that some people are so unkind. And then I told her I noticed her in the store and, how it made my day to see someone whose sweetness reminded me of my Mom. I shared with her that my Mom had dementia. At that moment, she pulled me to her…and hugged me. I mean, she really hugged me.

The damn broke, the tears came, and still…she continued to hug me. She told me that God was taking care of my Mom, that she was safe, in her own world, and that she still loved me.

Today, I was reminded that in a sometimes bitter and hard to navigate through world, sweetness and gentleness exist…as do angels. I met a beautiful one, in the frozen, waffle aisle, and I believe I know who sent her.

Thank you, Mom. I love you.