2.27.14 Stealing Time


Whenever someone asks me what I did over the weekend, I find that I have to recite my events backward. I start from Sunday and work my way to Friday, only remembering when I recall what happened most recently. Weird, I know. And though I always say that if you’re not a little weird you’re probably boring, I think this idiosyncratic little habit of mine has less to do with being odd, than being time-crunched.

In response to time, my life is usually on a grand-overload of activities per amount of actual availability. My husband and I both suffer from, “Don’t-Want-To-Miss-Out-On-Anything,” syndrome and neither of us have been properly treated for it. You’d think that we might have learned by now that running ourselves ragged isn’t exactly the best way to do life, but–we haven’t. It is embarrassing, actually, to admit that only yesterday, after waking up early to exercise, make lunches, shower, and lay out kid’s clothes before heading out, I had to bargain for three minutes for us to chat before I left. In his defense, he had also woken up early to shower, run the dog, check his email, and work on a report before he woke the kids to get them off to school. Ridiculous. Chaos, a schedule in and of itself before our day even began and we stood, not really looking at one another for our three minute catch up time, but scurrying about, grabbing and packing this or that as we tossed appointments and schedules at one another so we wouldn’t miss anything. Ironic, because I’m pretty sure that right then and there we were missing a great deal, especially the point.

If it were only the morning rush, things might be doable. If our days were less consumed and hurried and worried later on, anyone could cope … but they aren’t are they? There are times I’m hours into my day before I’ve actually physically sat down aside from a car ride, and don’t get me started there. I admit that I have totally been guilty of some random, time-saving activities in the car (for which my father repeatedly yells at me). I’ve done my hair, made appointments, done my make-up and even flossed (yes–don’t judge me, I’m a flosser). I thought maybe I was getting a little over-the-top until I saw a guy in a red pickup truck this week brushing his teeth!

And after the morning commute it’s more of the same. Whether at work or at school or at home it is the same rushing, running, crazy, (Who am I trying to keep up with?) breathless lifestyle. There are half-days that pass without having a minute to do basic human functions like drink, eat, sit or use the bathroom! And just when you think your day is done it really isn’t is it? Because even after the whole nine to five bit, we have the other parts of life. The soccer and ballet practice, appointments or grocery shopping run into the muddy paw prints I can’t let lie or the laundry that buzzed after having it on the “refresh-cycle” for the ninth time because I still couldn’t get to folding it.

Our lives are really, fairly exhausting. It’s no wonder God only gives us about a hundred years; at this rate I’ll be glad not to drop at 50! Though, I do comfort myself to know that I am not an exception, but a part of the rule. Most of my friends suffer from the same time-battling intensity as I do; I know this because of the wicked games of phone-tag I play with most of them, just to “catch up,” for a few minutes.

I like to think of myself as an honest person, but I think I would absolutely, without a doubt steal time if I could. Whether snatched or smuggled I’d start off small, a collection of extra minutes to store so as not to not be late, perhaps; it might be nice to pull a few moments out when the dog won’t come in or we are dealing with a tricky shoelace. And yet, I know that sooner or later minutes would not be enough. A few hours, a few days, maybe a week or a month here or there, and soon, even the, “extra” time I’d taken would seem insufficient to the amount of things I wanted to use it for. William Penn once said, “Time is what we want most, but use worst.” He is right. Because I’ve been gifted with twenty-four hours a day and seven days in a week and I cannot seem to use them well at all. I overuse and abuse each moment, stretching and pulling them taught until I’m the one that about snaps.

Recently, I was forced to be still for about ten hours on a plane. It is funny, because as I sat there idly, I was able to see a new movie called About Time, a new movie that addresses the very idea that “if” we were able to get more, how we could somehow make our lives count on a deeper level. While it may have started out quirky and funny, it ended with a fantastic message about cherishing what we’re given, instead of haunting ourselves with the phantom bits of time we long for.

In the end, we are all given more time than we deserve really. Although I don’t enjoy the aging reflection, I am blessed for each and every turn about the sun I’ve had. It’s just so easy to get caught up in the doing of life that I tend to forego the “living,” of it. But I’ll try. I’ll try to stop using phrases like: “In a minute,” “I’ll call you when I get time,” “Let’s talk for three minutes,” or, worst of all, “Maybe later.” We aren’t guaranteed “later,” but we do have now.

I’m going to leave you with something to think about (with all the extra time I know you set aside for thinking). Author Lauren Oliver said, “Sometimes I feel like if you just watch things, just sit still and let the world exist in front of you – sometimes I swear that just for a second time freezes … And if you somehow found a way to live in that second, then you would live forever.”

In your life, where would you press pause? And if you know the moment, then why don’t you?

Literarily yours,

2.24.14 Not Me




Have you ever wanted to try something, do something, wear something or go somewhere that was outside of your, usual choices? You may have liked it, really wanted it even, but somehow you knew you just couldn’t possibly because it, “wasn’t you.” I can’t tell you the amount of times this very thought used to hold me back. I couldn’t wear my hair that light or my nails that dark. I never ate Mexican because it was too spicy and I dressed in clothing as preppy as a schoolteacher could be. Until … now there is a great word.

I’ll say it again, until! Until I grew up enough to realize that I could grow beyond, whatever limits I had set on myself. George Eliot once said, “It’s never to late to be what you might have been.” Now that is an amazing quote, in and of itself, but I think it is more amazing when you realize that George Eliot is actually the pen name of a woman named, Mary Anne Evans. One of the leading writers of the British Victorian era! She had very conservative beginnings where many people (including her) never expected she would accomplish what she was able to. And she’s not all!

Julia Child didn’t even learn to cook until she moved to Paris for her husband’s job when she was in her forties. Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s was still only a milk-shake salesman at fifty-two. Most of Benjamin Franklin’s impressive inventions were in his mid to late forties. Henry Ford didn’t create the first car assembly line until he was sixty. Vera Wang started as an ice skater, moved on to writing and editing for Vogue Magazine but didn’t really make it big, until she began designing wedding dresses at forty. Finally, Amy Pohler and Tina Fey, both SNL comedians, didn’t hit the peak of their comedic careers until between their thirties and forties! How many times do you think these great people told themselves, “I can’t do this, it’s just not me,” in their lives? How often did they doubt what they were capable of as their youth passed them by? We need to realize that time past doesn’t mean opportunity missed.

The point is, that finding personal success is hard enough without us hiding behind veiled excuses of comments like, “It’s just not me,” or “I could never do something like that.” It’s like the people who say they can’t change because it’s, “just the way they are.” Let me tell you something–you are who you decide to be. You are a choice waiting to be made and a grand decision waiting to be told. You are as exciting, compelling and important as you want to become, but you need to make a conscious effort to let yourself get there.

So, my hair is lighter, my nail polish is darker. I have a tattoo (of a Bible verse, no worries) and dress somewhere between high heels and converse depending on my mood. Thanks to my husband I love Mexican food and thanks to facing my fears I am here, writing–to you. My own audience. Who’d have thought? Certainly not me, and yet, here I am.

What about you? Who have you been waiting to become, and what are you waiting for? Byron Katie brilliantly said, “You are the one you’ve been waiting for.” There is no one better qualified to give yourself permission to be who you want to be than you. So do it already. Rewrite your definition, buy that outfit, take that trip, go for that job. It’s you if you wear it, taste it, try it or want it. So stop being shy and introduce yourself to the one and only version of you you’ve been waiting a lifetime to meet; remember–there is no such thing as too late.

Literarily yours,


2.22.14 The Hate Game


So you may or may not know that I love nature. Love it. Trees are about my favorite thing to photograph, there isn’t a better sound in the world than ocean surf and I believe with my whole heart that wind is enchantingly magical. That being said, nature also has a way of biting you on the butt when you aren’t looking. When I was a teenager, I took a trip to Canada with my sister and some friends. All my life, up to that point, people had been telling me how absolutely gorgeous the Boundary Waters territory was–how clear, and clean and relaxing. What they didn’t tell me, was that the beauty was wholly conditional upon the weather; and our weather was the complete opposite of beautiful. The eight plus hour’s drive, (which I got nauseous on) was the only batch of clear skies we saw. From the moment parked, we were surrounded by a torrent of wicked wind, earth-quaking thunder and walls of water pouring from the sky.
If that wasn’t bad enough, our tour guide literally dropped us off on an island– the wrong island, because it was no longer safe to be out on the water. We had to pitch tents in the rain and dig our own trenches (if you know what I mean) because there weren’t even bathrooms! Let’s just say our parents didn’t raise my sister and I to that level of, “outdoorsy,” and it was rough–beyond rough, it was brutal.
After days and days of Mother Nature’s personal brand of torture, we packed up and headed home. Soaking, stressed and sore from using rocks as furniture, we were all in a foul mood to say the very least. With another seven or so hours to drive, none of us were particularly cheery, but not talking for the next half a day wasn’t exactly an option. And that’s when we invented, The Hate Game. Harsh as it sounds, that game may have just been the sanity that kept us from driving off a cliff.
Now normally, I’m a very peaceful, mellow and easy-to-please type of person, but everyone, (even us meek ones) need an emotional release from time to time. The Hate Game allowed the reprieve we needed. It started by saying random frustrations, then turned to incidents and attitudes, styles and habits. Three hours later, we were still playing. Giving one another categories: name two foods you hate, three songs, driving mistakes, phrases, movies, you name it, we hated on it. And amazingly, the dense-dark collective attitude we’d been trapped in started to dissipate. You’ll never know the release until you try.
I know maybe you aren’t hating on a bad trip to Canada, but I guarantee there have been times you’ve had a similarly bottled-up overload of aggression. Even now, years later, I’ve found myself playing the game when life gets to me. I don’t want to take out anger on anyone, so I tend to take it out on anything that’s been bothering me for years.
For example …
I hate when people cut me off just to exit the highway two seconds later. I hate when I answer the phone and the person says, “Oh, I didn’t think you’d answer, I was just going to leave a message, (What does that say about talking to me?). I hate the word, “per se” in conversation (What the heck kind of word is it anyway?). I hate the way my face splotches like a rash every time I cry. I hate wasting my money on buying something as un-gratifying as paper towel. I hate the color peach (not pretty–ever). I hate when authors make a character die in a book just because they ran out of ideas. I hate when people care more about their pets than their children. I hate people who hate people. Finally, one of my favorite unknown quotes says, “I hate it when I’m singing a song and the artist gets the words wrong.”
There, whew. You get the point and I already feel lighter. Now I know that this might seem a little silly, and not everyone has the fuel of a terrible-weather-weekend in Canada to inspire them, but I’ll bet you can think of something. I’m always game for a game! Feel free to share, and know I’m laughing too. Hope your day is filled with love, since you decided to dump the hate!
Literarily yours, 


1.20.14 Walls


Dr. Seuss, (one of my personal heroes) once said, “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of the telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” I relate so much to this because I think that I must’ve, “flipped my telescope,” some time ago. I like to think of the song from Mary Poppins, “I Love to Laugh,” and imagine, that life can really be a “tea-party on the ceiling,” if I choose to see it that way.

One of the major problems with everything, actually, is just the fact that people take themselves and everyone around them much too seriously. Now I may be on the other end of the spectrum, but from what I’ve gathered–life is entirely too short not to spend a great deal of it laughing. When I tell people that I am a teacher, they think its nice. When I tell them I teach primarily middle school kids, they think I’m crazy. While that may be true, I can say that there is never a day that lacks laughter. Whether from an intentional joke, an unintentional blunder, a fashion faux pas, or an imaginatively off-base answer, I have hours and days worth of stories. I wish I could say this was the norm, that everyone around me shared in the joyous hilarity of the strange situations we find ourselves in, but that’s rarely so.

I think its the walls really. I don’t know if you’ve noticed them, but people have a habit of building really enormous, (rock-climbing-gym-worthy) walls that completely block others out. In some cases I think it started as a method of self-protection, but often I’m afraid that what was meant to preserve, just ends up blocking joy out. Afraid to share the whole truth, they share pieces.  Afraid to let their guard down, they don’t talk. When someone, “beneath” them does a great job they’re afraid to give a genuine compliment as if recognizing someone else’s greatness lessens theirs. And it makes me so sad.

Though we’re all capable of creating barriers, I think we should take Berlin’s example here and tear them down. When someone’s funny–laugh! When someone’s unique–appreciate them! Don’t guard yourself in by blocking others out. And us parents do the same thing. Often, we’re afraid to really let loose, play, dream and tell stories because in some way we feel we’ll be undoing some precedent of authority. This, I can say with my own authority, is just wrong. Young people, (especially our own) need to know they are worth our time, our attention and our smiles. They too feel good about themselves when they make us laugh, so we need to let them.


The other night I had my walls up pretty thick. I was exhausted, from work, from being a mom, from everything. It was way to late for the kids to still be up, but there she stood, my little four-year-old at the top of the stairs, holding the railing and pushing her little belly through the bars crooning, “Mommy … just one thing, just one more thing I need to talk to you about.” I couldn’t help but laugh at the expression she wore and the tone she used; the crack in my stone-face broke into a grin and her smile glowed at the sight of it. She made mommy happy and she knew it–mission accomplished, my wall had a light shine through.

My parents were master gardeners growing up, and they had a lot of retaining walls built up around different parts of the gardens for various purposes. It always amazed me how, regardless of the great masonry, little, perfect flowers would find ways to bloom within the cracks between bricks. No matter how tightly wedged, a bit of sun at the right place and time, and there was a baby miracle. Isn’t it the same in our lives? We build a wall to protect our master plan, but a little unexpected light suddenly beautifies the very parts of ourselves we’d been holding back. So why not let a little sunshine in? Take down just one level of serious. I know we’ve all got a lot going on. I know we have images to uphold and critical matters to deal with and attend to, but as Abraham Lincoln, (the greatest president ever) once said, “With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die.”

Don’t let living take away the daily joy of life. Let yourself laugh–hard. The kind that hurts your tummy, makes you cry, leaves you gasping and giggling until you almost burst. Break down your self-imposed fortress of formality and lighten your heavy load.

Literarily yours,


2.17.18 Wicked Witch



So I know that maybe you thought the Wicked Witch died at the beginning of The Wizard of Oz. When her striped stockings rolled up under that tornado- thrown house, I was pretty convinced of the end to evil myself. Then there was the sister, whose, “I’m melting,” act at the end almost had me fooled that we were rid of the dark side all together. But I guess I never expected the twist-ending of yet another wicked witch … a lost sister, if you will in her nastiness and havoc-inducing personality. This sister might be the worst of all because not only can she be shockingly rude and narcissistic, but she does this whilst parading around as if she were as pure-of-heart as Glinda herself. “Are you sure?” you might ask, because you thought you knew this story. I’m sure alright, and I know with certainty this witch is out there–because its me.

I, the smiley-faced, “absolutely, I’ll pray for you,” do-gooder, can have a very green-masked, wart-nosed, dark-as-a-flying-monkey side to me. It doesn’t come often but when it does, whew … look out! The worst part is, I hear it, I hear me … what I say, the comments I snarl, and in those moods I wouldn’t choose to hang out with me if you paid me a thousand dollars. So why? I’d like to say I have no idea where this sass comes from–but that would be a lie.

A rushed day, a missed appointment day, a fat day, or an ugly day or any day that I need to try on something that doesn’t have multiple layers for that matter! It could start as innocently as a comment I read wrong or a look I misinterpreted, but when the repressed frustrations start piling, so does the ammunition for my wicked witch appearance.

The worst part is knowing it … knowing that I am being such a whiny, grumpy, emotional mess. I remember recently saying about grumpy people, “Actually it’s you–you’re the problem,” only sometimes, I know I am and I hate it. Usually I’m not the pessimist; I’m not even the realist! But on, “those” days, (or shall I say these days) I am worse. I am Medusa meets Malificent after hanging out with Ursula and the Evil Step-Mother personified.

When I feel this little rain-cloud personality sweeping in like an uninvited storm, I’d like to retreat … lock myself in a room somewhere and get over it until the full-moon syndrome stops me from being a monster–but life doesn’t work that way. Instead, the mommy or wife or teacher version of me has to grit my teeth and pray–hard that I don’t say something I can’t take back. But usually, regretfully, I lose my battle of will on those days, and I allow my words to turn me into the dragon I’d been trying to suppress. I snap at my kids or I take something out on my husband and then I feel even worse. Rosamund Lupton once described this feeling perfectly when she said, “I get up and pace the room, as if I can leave my guilt behind me. But it tracks me as I walk, an ugly shadow made by myself.”

I felt especially convicted of this once upon a bathroom stall. My husband had been on, yet another, business trip and I’d decided to meet a friend out for lunch. She, however, didn’t happen to have kids and I happened to have two of them who needed to take turns going to the bathroom every five minutes! On about the sixth bathroom trip (sadly not exaggerating) my daughter, three at the time looked up at me, little feet swinging on the too-tall toilet. Unhurried and unworried, as I huffed and tapped my foot, she asked, “Mama, are you happy?”
    “Yes,” I spat the word, looking at her impatiently.
Levelly, she stared right at me and said, “Then be happy.”

Ouch. Like a target her impossibly-perceptive comment shot straight into my dark heart. In zero to ten I felt my negativity shift to pure shock at her admonishment. She was right, but what was worse, was she saw right through any pretenses I’d tried to veil my attitude behind. And whether it’s kids, spouses or co-workers, people are intuitive more often than we know. We’re not fooling anyone.
So what to do about it? Well …


1. If you have the option to lock yourself in a tower until you’re over it, do it!


2. If you don’t, own up to the grouch in you before you say something awful (this might not stop you, but it will at least give the affected ones a clue of where the harshness came from).


3. Pray. Nothing diffuses angst in your heart like bringing it to God and then letting it go.

Chances are you cannot change what happened to your day, and (like me) you may not even be able to change your attitude (Please say you’re like me sometimes so I don’t think I’m the only one suffering from occasional wicked-witch syndrome!). But, you can ask Heaven for some grace in the moment to help you diffuse the thunder-cloud that’s been hovering over you. And I’d say, nine times out of ten, within the day you’ll be back on the good-gal side, fighting other people’s dragons instead of your own.  

Literarily yours,

Elle (occasionally known as, The Lost Wicked Witch)

2.16.14 Neverland


You know how when children are young, they know they are; and they feel impossibly limited and wish to be older, so they can have more opportunities to do the things they feel slighted from? Well, I was never one of those kids. I remember being young, knowing I was young, and thinking about how I needed to appreciate it, because already, it felt as though time was fleeting. Age passes by without even the slightest ability for us to do anything about it–and I believe this is a true disaster.

I loved being young, and in many ways I have, “Peter Pan Syndrome.” I think J.M. Barrie was a genius in his creation of Peter Pan, of Neverland, and the idea of a delightful escape from fate … the idea that there might have been a choice to it all. In some ways I feel that being a teacher and a parent allows me to hold onto a precious piece of my youth that would have been lost long ago if it weren’t for their insightful doses of perspective. Because perspective is what we start to lose as we get older. We begin to cease thinking of what would be “fun” and replace these thoughts with what would be “practical.”

Now, I pride myself on being fairly impractical most of the time. But as Peter Pan said, “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it,” and who wants to take that chance? But we do. We doubt. We forget to remember how important pretend can be, and our pure and perfect perspective of, “anything can happen,” begins to fade. Even as an adult I am fighting this inevitable introduction to reality. I enjoy, “what if,” questions. I make up stories and climb trees. I toss on an accent when I read and polka with my ninety-two year old grandmother. I like to believe in things I cannot explain like Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster and have tried my very hardest to raise my children the same way.

I suppose I am succeeding in some ways; my daughter adamantly believes that she will become a mermaid when she grows up. When I asked her what color her hair or fins will be she stated, (with all the self-assurance in the world), “Whatever God gives me.”

My son, on the other hand, possesses the uncanny confidence of kings. Skiing since he was three, we had to watch the slope-style competitions. Staring in awe at the rail-grindings and aerial flips, I asked if he thought he’d ever compete, to which he replied, “Sure … why not?” Why not? Where did why not go? Probably in the same corner, “absolutely,” is hiding. Somewhere near the pool of lost dreams and wishing on stars.

J.M. Barrie beautifully said that, “Stars are beautiful, but they may not take an active part in anything, they must just look on forever. It is a punishment put on them for something they did so long ago that no star now knows what it was. So the older ones have become glassy-eyed and seldom speak (winking is the star language), but the little ones still wonder.” And I know he is talking about stars here, but I cannot help but think the stars are an awful lot like people. The adults have become glassy-eyed, seldom speaking of things that used to matter so much, but the young ones, children can still feel enough to wonder. But I wonder, when does the shift take place? What makes us cross over? Or is it a collection of moments that string together, growing us up bit by bit? The more you learn, the more years pass, the more responsibility you’re given, little by little these things build you up while childhood, irrevocably gets torn down.

 Most of the time we can’t feel it. This incumbent stealing of youth, but I remember the last time I felt it. Two years ago, my parents moved from the home I grew up in … and let it be clear that I did not give them permission! Ready to venture on to a new stage in their lives I realize (on the rational side I so often try to ignore) they needed to. But I took it hard. Am still taking it hard, because I guess it felt like when they did … I had nowhere to be young anymore. Home was such a respite, a collection of feelings and memories I was able to see around every corner. When they began packing, it was like fifteen years of my childhood were packed into a U-Haul van along with them.

In Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie says, “Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting,” and I can’t stand to forget, so I know I never will. Because for those of us who can’t choose Neverland, someday memories will be all we have.  It will be the photographs and stories and, “Do you remember when…” conversations that keep us smiling.

So the story says, “All children, except one, grow up.” We will never be able to stay young, and, as Wendy so eloquently said, “Never is an awfully long time.” But I think the children placed in our lives gift us with glimpses of the dreams we might have forgotten without the spirit of their youth to remind us. So, like Wendy … I had to grow up … but it won’t stop me from dreaming my impossible dreams, and tossing wishes up to the “second star to the right.”

Literarily yours,


2.14.14 Valentine’s Day


Sometimes I get frustrated with the naysayers, the cynics and the pessimists who degrade and badmouth this annual celebration of love. Regardless of the way that some claim it to be another, “Hallmark Holiday,” Valentine’s Day started, historically, as a celebration of a Christian martyr. In the 5th century, there was a priest who married young couples when an edict had been sent by the government forbidding it. There was a war going on and those in power thought it would distract young men, who could be soldiers, to be wed. One priest thought differently, and he died for his belief in love. How could that not be worth celebrating!?!
It isn’t that I’ve ever had a particularly notable Valentine’s Day. They’ve been spent fairly traditionally with dinners and candles and the occasional bunch of flowers. But it isn’t the “doing” of Valentine’s Day that always intrigued me so much as the idea of “being,” with those I truly love.  
Love. Now there is an overused, un-appreciated and misused word. I find that the purest, most beautiful description of it is in 1Corinthians which says:
     Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails.
As amazing and inspiring as I find this verse, I find it equally disheartening to me, not for what, “love is” but for what I’m so obviously not. I, who pride myself on my love of love, fail so often in so many dimensions. “Love is patient;” I am not. “Love is not self-seeking;” I often figure out my plans based on what is best for me. “Love is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs,” I remember too much about things that shouldn’t have mattered then and certainly don’t now, yet I bring them up anyway. “Love is not proud,” still I am constantly letting my husband know ways he could love me better. I am embarrassed to admit this about myself, yes, but I think it is important to be honest, because in this life it is impossible to be loveable all the time.
Sometimes … okay–often, I know I’m not. I can seem to be, but when I’m tired or wired, frazzled or frayed, I’m very un-loveable, I assure you. Sometimes I am consumed with the fear that I’m not enough, yet I feel like I am entirely too much for anyone to handle moments later. Riddle me this! Recently, I had to laugh and was comforted by a quote from Marilyn Monroe that said, “I am selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times, hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure don’t deserve me at my best.”
I don’t pretend to ever be as confident as Ms. Monroe, nor do I ever anticipate that I have reason to be, but I do think she was right. None of us are perfect at love, because no love that isn’t divine is perfect. I’ve met some individuals that are particularly brilliant at it (my husband comes to mind) but no one can ever satisfy entirely because no one loves in exactly the same way. What a beautiful frustration.
I think the most important thing to fear about love isn’t screwing up, because we will, but to stop trying. Love should be less about feeling, and more about doing. It should be grace in action during the absolute best and worst of times. It should be a confirmation that someone else matters more. Love is about living for something bigger, its about us glimpsing what we were created for.
So remember, you will fail. I will fail. Epically. (And I’m sure we’ll do it with the best of intentions at heart.) But the amazing and fantastic thing we can rely on–is that love never will.
Literarily yours,

2.11.14 Only I Do



Only I Do

I talked with a friend tonight who lost her sister a year ago to an aneurysm. The agony of loss, even after these long months, weighed heavy as emotion seemed to spill from every part of her. Her words, her eyes, the way her shoulders seemed to curl with burden … she was broken. And I, the one who always has something encouraging to offer, I–was speechless. Words, as wonderful and expressive as they are, can be incredibly insufficient when you confront a situation where there is just absolutely nothing you can say.

Did you ever lose someone who you was so completely a part of your life, that a vital piece of you seemed to die along with them? And you wonder how you could ever possibly be you again without them, because suddenly the world, your world, is unrecognizable. John Steinbeck once said, “It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” As horrible as it is to think of the world having not known them at all, a small, bitter piece of you wishes that you wouldn’t have had them, because nothing could possibly be worse than knowing exactly what you’ve lost.

And. It. Hurts. I have tasted enough of loss to know two things with assurance … it is constant, and unrelenting. I think maybe the worst feeling is when you fall asleep, and reprieve takes you dreaming to a place where you’re allowed to forget every single thing you miss. Then you wake up–forced to remember all over again.

I know there are “good days,” and I know there are stages, and I know time can lessen the pain, but it can’t change. The truth is, there are some people that you will never, ever get over. And you’re not supposed to; because it wouldn’t really be love if it didn’t leave a scar.

But scars are really just memories in disguise. They’re proof of what happened to you … of who happened to you; and in that they are beautiful. As personal and individual as grief is, the experiencing of it is something few of us will ever get through this life without facing. But we often make the mistake of thinking that loss is the same as lost; and it isn’t, because they’re not lost … they’re found. They’re home. We are the one’s left wandering–and wondering, not them.

On the other side of heaven, there is no such thing as time. And there’s no waiting, or wanting, or hurting; there is only light, and the absolute confidence that everything really is a part of a much bigger plan–a plan they get to see their part of.

So my grandpa doesn’t have to miss the feeling of his aged fingers laced through mine, only I do. My student who passed away doesn’t have to find ungraded journal entries in her handwriting, only I do. My friends don’t have to look through faded memories of our lives together in photographs, only I do. My sweet, seven-year-old neighbor doesn’t have to witness the devastation of parents who outlived their child, only I do. Only we do. Because my stories are yours too; the pain of loss doesn’t segregate, it just stays.

I wish I could end this post with something more encouraging to share. But as I said before, sometimes–there’s nothing to say. Just know this isn’t it. They’re still there, and it is our job to live on with a life worthy of the impact they made on it. It doesn’t do to wallow, because where they are there is nothing but the light we are so desperately seeking. Those who are gone no longer know sorrow … only we do.

Literarily yours,
P.S. Read “Death is Nothing at All” by: Henry Scott Holland

2.10.14 More Than Friends




More Than Friends

I have had the privilege to know some people in my life who not only changed it, but changed me from the inside-out. There is a really excellent quote that says, “We all let people into our lives, but you will find that really good friends let you into your own.”

I love this because I guess I feel it so deeply. I am constantly around middle schoolers, (and often adults who don’t act much older) and being “sure” of who you are and where you are going is the journey of a lifetime. Believe it or not, its a luxury to know how to be yourself, and some people (like me) had to practice hard to get there. Not all of us wake up comfortable and confident; not all of us know how to do and be the person we’re trying to convince everyone else we are.

My mom once said that when she turned thirty, everything changed for her. She said it was at that pivotal (sometimes dreaded) number, where everything slipped into focus and she suddenly became aware of herself in a way that was detached from the opinions, perceptions and scrutiny of others. I remember thinking, “Yeah right, like I’ll ever get there.” But, little by little, look by look, I find myself standing just a little taller, feeling just a little “more sure” of who I am and what I’m here for.

I am a big advocate of the idea that we need to, “live for something bigger,” and step outside of ourselves long enough to see what kind of an impact we are making in this life. I feel like friends are amazing lenses to help us do this. They have the distinct ability to reflect us in ways that we never would have been able to see ourselves without them. I would even go so far as to admit that I would not have been able to be the kind of person worth reflecting without having had some of their encouragement to grow into the person I’ve become.

I think that sometimes we underestimate the importance of those in our lives who are close to us. We smile at memories and then forget to call, we see a date slide by on the calendar as one more month passes without getting together and I think this is not only sad, but selfish in reverse. Because I know, with adept certainty, that I am a much better person when I am surrounded by some friends than when I am not. I am reminded of the person that they believe I can be and I am suddenly re-accountable to take back this version of myself that never would have existed without them.

Sometimes the word “friend” seems weak to me and insufficient in its small, six letters. But when you look up the term, the definition reminds you that a friend is a person who holds mutual affection for you–is a person who is on your side. They are life-partners, investors in the emotional bank of YOU! Friends are more than “friends,” they are even more than family sometimes; they are the hands that hold you and the feet that keep you grounded when your soul wanders. And so I want to thank all of my dearest friends for truly investing in me, because I never could have found myself without you.

Literarily yours,


2.7.14 Leftovers




Chris Rock once said, “You can only offend me, if you mean something to me.” And I love this. I love the confidence and bravery behind it; I appreciate the perspective he has to only really worry about the opinions of those he cares about. I myself am not there yet, but I wish I was. Sadly, I am infected with a very common label known as, “people-pleaser.” And even though I am a grown woman, a mother, a wife, educated and employed, I am somehow not mature enough to have gotten over my middle-school persona of wanting to make everyone happy.

So daily, that’s what I try to do. I give it all I’ve got, I smile and I encourage and I wear myself out until I am emotionally spent with nothing worth giving left to give. And that, unfortunately, is when I tend to come home.

Did you ever feel like the best part of you is the part everyone “else” gets to see? That when you get to the people that you love best in the entire universe, they are stuck with the leftover-version of you? What a disappointment that I become the tired, worn-down remnant of the perky perfectionist I started out as only hours ago. I swear sometimes I am tempted to take a picture of myself to prove that I actually was presentable! But I know it isn’t my outfit that becomes rumpled and ragged, its my responses. My semi-sweet demeanor turns a little bitter and the patience I exhibited all day long is quickly lost.

I feel like there has to be a better way, but I’m not sure how to get there. How do you tell all of the people who judge your performance all day, that they are no longer going to see the “you” they’ve come to expect, because you’re saving it for those who don’t judge you … those who have been waiting patiently for their turn at the best “you,” you’ve got?


Answer–you don’t. At least I can’t. I can’t let go of the expectation of me I’ve given other people permission to count on.

But … I’ve decided that I can’t live without giving my, “best-self,” to those who’ve earned it. Life is hard. It’s exhausting and, though I’m no meteorologist, its a safe bet to say things aren’t about to slow down; so I think I’m the one who needs to. Recently I watched a great movie, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” And in it, there was a scene where he was climbing a mountain and wrote in his travel log, “Conditions testing body and body testing soul.” That’s where I am … but I’m sure with a little practice, I’ll be able to save the best of myself, for the last of my day. No more leftovers for me.

Literarily yours,