Karma chameleon

My grandmother was a firm believer in the idea that what was going around was definitely coming back around; to the point that decision-making left me worried. But, she always had a way of flushing out fear by making absolutely everything an adventure – even dark, corner diner booths. We always ordered the Monte Cristo. Sometimes, we’d have a view of the attached bar. She would point out the happy umbrellas dancing in the drinks instead of the sad people drinking the drinks. It was her way. She could melt even the saddest sod into a pool of happy.

She believed in “juju” like I grew to believe in well-tailored pants. They could do anything. Make a believer out of the most well-spoken skeptic. Karma holds its own special magic.

We learned that with enough of the good juju, you could pull rabbits out of hats or meals together with an empty fridge and seats and parking spaces were always available to those who tipped well.

It wasn’t just the act of being polite…it was her code of ethics and she insisted you pay in kindness, conversation with the sad, dollars for the people in need right in front of you or good intentions. Every bridge had a toll. And if you were selfish, you paid the toll. If you were disingenuous, you paid the toll. You paid what you could in spades because “the juju” would find you.

That was the bit of self preserving selfish that taught us empathy when we weren’t quite old enough to understand it. You didn’t have to feel it at first, but, eventually, you would.

And 6 and 7 and 8 held no empathy. It was duty. Duty to “the juju”.

But, at 9 and 10 and 11 and 12, the duty turned to service and service turned to something old, something new, something borrowed and something…


Juju is harder to teach now because she is gone and I lack her ability to tell a story. I write and she lived the words and lived loudly out in the world.

She never met a stranger. She was the master of juju, spreading light and beautiful little bits of herself everywhere she went. She went a lot of places. She garnered a whole lot of juju.

This Spring, I started my Call to Juju 2014 while my wary children snarfed and heckled from the sidelines. Right now, for them, it’s purely cause and effect. If A, then possibly B. And, if B is a solid and immediate karma gold for them, the juju lightbulb goes off with an audible cartoon *DING*.

For me though, the call to my grandmother’s juju is about living the joy of your actions even when joy is a hidey-hiding-hidden bitch. Because if you offer yourself up, you open yourself to the world’s juju and I think, a lot of it is already there waiting: the universe has been so sprinkled with the juju of the people who came before.

Long live joy. Long live good juju. I miss you, Grandma.


  1. Amen. My grandma was also my guru–for better or for worse–and I learned that what goes around, comes around and often bites you right back in the ass. (At this point she would be quick to point out that I have no ass, along with no hips and no boobs which is also why I don’t have a husband. She’s old. I let it go.) But it’s true. Whenever I start to feel like the karma of the world is kicking my butt, I try and do something nice for someone else. Selfishly, it can’t hurt my “karma cred,” but I also never regret being nice. Thank you for the reminder. (Extra good juju to you!)

  2. I AL:WAYS read you, but haven’t been able to comment lately. This post, though, was like a tight hug around my neck from my toddler’s chubby little arms: perfection. Juju, karma, paying it forward, kindness. Whatever you call it, you’ve got it down, woman. And despite you writing as opposed to speaking these stories, you’re a stellar storyteller nonetheless. Grandma would be proud 😉

  3. This post left me with a lump in my throat thinking back on my own grandma, who also never knew a stranger and who I try to be on a daily basis. I cannot wait to meet you in person, with every post I feel a little more like uou are a long lost relative of mine xo

  4. A very sweet post as a tribute to your grandmom! She’s absolutely right about karma and paying it forward!! I’m glad you’re going to carry it forward to the next generation as well!

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