entertainment, journey, list, writing

W.H.P. {two}…

From this Side of the Pond
I am once again participating in the Wednesday Hodgepodge, hosted here at this fantastic blog!

1. The last place you visited/patronized where you felt like you were given ‘the royal treatment’?

The salon I go to is pretty amazing. Every service they do, from hair stuff to facials, massage to really anything else, is taken to levels beyond other places I have been. There is such an element of genuine care and motivation to make a difference far beyond “doing a good job”. It doesn’t feel like a job to the staff, even though I know it is.

2. The last task you completed that was a ‘royal pain’?

Honestly, it isn’t that it was a pain at all- it’s that I really struggle with electronics. I have a podcast, and recently changed how our team records and produces the episodes because our original method was just heavily flawed. The nice thing about the first way was you simply push a button, but this new way involves all sorts of techy things like microphones, equalizer, sound boards, distance, interference and a bunch of other things that are just all way over my head. My husband is the tech-guy and when I have to record in his absence, I’m finding that I am a bit of a panicky wreck.

3. How have your strengths helped you succeed? How have your faults hindered you?

Wow! Unexpectedly deep question! So- I am exceptionally organized, a solid multi-tasker, a very thorough researcher and take on projects with a pretty serious passion. My biggest fault would be time management. I really struggle with not getting distracted by other tasks needing done, etc.

4. If you found a remote that could rewind, fast forward, stop and start time, what would you do with it?

Well, let’s be honest- this would really come in handy with my poor time management skills, wouldn’t it? Ha! then the “what would you do with it?” Would be answered with “become addicted…” But in all honesty, crappy time management skills aside, I would fast forward and rewind to all the best times spent with my kids, and then stop time there for a while so I could soak it all in.

5. Any special plans for the Memorial Day weekend? Will you in some way honor or recognize the meaning of this day (remembering people who died in service to their country)? Have you ever been to Arlington National Cemetery? Does your town do anything special to mark the day?

No plans for the three-day holiday. I do try to make the personal practice of solemn observation and keeping in mind the reason for this holiday weekend. As the mom of a soldier, hailing from a military family, the losses of our service men and women is one which weighs consistent and heavy on my heart…

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

I’ve come to a unique perspective on vision boards:  (If you aren’t familiar with vision boards, here’s a quick recap! A vision board is a board you spend time meditating on, using positive energy to push yourself in the direction of those things becoming true.)

Trust me for a second, and follow along-

I’ve been thinking a lot about Paul Bettany. I think he’s actually inspirational. He’s super talented, I mean I first noticed him in A Knight’s Tale and realized he was a gifted actor with a huge career ahead. This guy grew up with a poster of his teen crush pinned to his wall, like most of us. He was absolutely fan-crushing on Jennifer Connelly, He loved her in Labrynth and would spend hours staring up at her there on his wall. (Mine would be Kirk Cameron, Donnie Wahlberg and then Christian Slater. Who is yours?)  Additionally, like most boys of his generation, he LOVED Star Wars. (Not surprising) His teen boy hours were spent dwelling on day dreams of Jennifer and obsessing over Star Wars.

Paul is married to Jennifer, of course.

Let’s pause and think about that for a second… HE MARRIED the girl on his poster. Their actual love story is so human and normal and is one of my favorites, but not the point…

Paul is starring in the new Star Wars movie- Solo.

Also, as a boy he like comic books… And, as an adult Paul plays a character in the Marvel movies.

BUT WAIT… His character within the Marvel world becomes someone named Vision.

Yeah, It’s ok to admit your mind is blown. I mean, I don’t even have words…

friendship, gratitude, journey

The lavender latte day…

It was a normal afternoon, really. The plan was to meet a friend downtown to do some photographer type things. Nothing too extraordinary was on the agenda, beyond meeting at the local coffee-house on the corner. It was so beautiful out, really uncharacteristic for Michigan’s majority days, so we took advantage of it and snagged an iron table outside.

Instantly I was second guessing my decision to wear a denim jacket. It had seemed cooler out, but the bit of humidity, though mild, was combatting my outfit. My friend agreed to watch my gear while I went in and ordered a drink. (She’d been there waiting, so she already had something to quench the thirst.) Immediately my eyes were drawn to the baked goods, being brought in daily, from my favorite bakery. Fortunately, they never have my favorite things, so it isn’t much of a sacrifice to skip the treat.

I need to pause the story for a second and explain something, to anyone reading this who wouldn’t know… I hail from the magical land known as the Pacific Northwest. While there are mountains and beautiful, life restoring things to look at, touch and smell, there are also lots (and lots) of coffee houses. They are very unique to one another and you typically have your places that you love, and the ones you do not. If you don’t have time for a coffee-house, there are also lots (and lots) of coffee huts which you simply drive up to. (these follow the same pattern, some you’ll love and some you won’t.) Though there are many things that set them apart, besides coffee, the one commonality is usually help. You can say, for instance, “Hi! It’s pretty warm out. I usually have the ______________, but I want something different. Could you recommend something not too sweet or rich, that’s iced?” To which, the barista will smile at you, likely make a small-talk comment, and then either suggest a few things (with vivid description) or ask you a few more questions, so as better to help. It’s nice. It’s personal. It is part of what helps you love the places you love…

So there I am, in a coffee-house (the only one, really) following the pattern that is engrained into me. “Hi! I’m looking for something cold. Not too rich, not too sweet. I usually have the #3 hot, when I’m here, but not today. What would you suggest?” There were a lot of “You could have the #3 iced,” accompanied by “You can ice anything,” type remarks, not unenthusiastic but not super helpful either. Through an odd array of miscommunications I settled on a Honey lavender Iced Latte. (I was assured that I would NOT be sorry. While I wasn’t exactly sorry, I can tell you they REALLY oversold this drink which was about as special as a Keurig pod. It certainly wasn’t the high point of the typical afternoon)

Strange drink in hand, I head back out to our table. We chat a little, change tables (mostly insignificant detail) and spend about ten minutes doing our own thing and not paying much attention to the people around us…

And- sidenote- there were A LOT of people in our small little downtown at 1:15 p.m. on a week day…

“Hey, Hey You! Hey, yeah you. Why don’t you come on over here?”

I hear the older male prompting, coming from behind me and I turn to see if he was shouting at me. He’s clean. His clothes are clean. If he wasn’t so clean, I would automatically deduce he was homeless, but because he’s clean- I don’t. (and I get it, twenty different groups of people can pull out a dozen things “wrong” with that statement, but I don’t care. I’m being honest. right or wrong- it’s the truth.) I also conclude that he isn’t talking to me, as I follow his eyes down the curb to two teen girls whispering to one another. They’d apparently been walking by the corner he was waiting on, and this caught his attention. They seemed confused, and though they had stopped walking, they did not respond.

“Hey girls, why don’t you come on over here? Hey you, come hang out with me, it’ll be fun! Hey, Hey you!” He appeared to be in his 60’s, but it wouldn’t have been any less appropriate if he were in his 30’s, the age bit is just to aid with the visual… The girls ended their whisper conference and began moving again, down the street and away from him. “Hey!” He shouted, louder, “Where you girls going? Don’t you want some fun?”

Knock it off, buddy. I said the words loud enough that he easily heard me, but not loud enough to be a stupid decision. I wanted to encourage him to move on, not have a confrontation. Though it was (again) speculation, I figured the guy likely had some impairments. This wouldn’t make him any less of a threat, I get that.

Within a few minutes, we grabbed our stuff and headed inside where the cool air seemed more inviting.

More than ten minutes later (but less than 15) the two girls from before, come walking down the block again. Same sidewalk, but different direction. I couldn’t tell you anyone else who’d been on that block, but when they passed, the hair on the back of my neck stood up, prompting me to look in their direction. It was chilling really, and just as I went to look away, guess who appeared about 10 feet behind them…

When my youngest was 6, we got a neighborhood notice that a registered sex offender had moved in, down the street. My husband travelled often, for work, and having been sexually abused as a girl, I knew that I needed to pro-actively address any potential risk. When Gen got home from school, we changed out of her uniform and walked, hand in hand, down to the man’s door. When the bell rang, his mom answered. (I knew this, because I straight-up asked.) When she called him, and he came to the door, I smiled at him and told him we lived down the street. I welcomed him to the neighborhood, told him that I understood everyone deserved a fresh start. I then looked him straight in the eye and said “this is my daughter.” I looked at Gen and said “Look at his face. Would you recognize him if you saw him again?” She looked at him a bit and then replied yes, she would. My gaze returned to him, and through that screen door I emphasized two, very clear things:

1.) If I EVER saw him within 15 feet of a child, I would call the police immediately. I don’t care if he was just walking down the street.

2.) If I EVER saw him anywhere near my house, or within the same line of sight as my child, I would call the police and handle things legally but that he should be VERY aware of the fact that I was not afraid to kill him, with any means necessary, should I feel like he is posing a threat to my child.

I asked him if he understood. He did. I smiled, told his mom to have a nice day and then looked to him again and said “I really do wish you the best of luck.”

I tell you that story because I really want to make it clear- I do not have a tolerance for even the possibility of something. All the times you hear those stories of the people who suspected, or thought something was off, but never did anything… That WAS my childhood, and when my childhood changed it was because I was the one who stood up and did something about it. ME. I would rather stir things up, and be wrong, than ignore them and wrong be done.

The second I saw the man following these girls, I called 911.

The well-meaning operator was very fixated on violence, weapons and assault, but I held my ground that there had been none of those things. At one point she seemed confused as to my need to call and I reminded her that I had begun the call with I know this isn’t actually an emergency, but I honestly didn’t know who else to call considering it’s a street corner and the man in question is moving. Finally she said she’d send the police. She took my name and asked if I’d be willing to talk to them. Of course I would, and so I waited.

This is where I have to reiterate- this is a small town. The length of time waiting was pretty unimpressive…

Thankfully the girls met up with a (guy) friend, across the street. It all played out in such a way that I had to wonder if they called/texted him. There were more whispered conferences and glances in the man’s direction. The man chose this moment in time to sit at the little iron table, (the one we’d been at earlier) and smoke, while watching the girls, now across the street.

An officer eventually came. Into the coffee shop. He came IN TO THE SHOP, while the guy sat smoking his second cigarette outside. He sat looking around the coffee shop for several minutes, until the man in question stood and proceeded to walk around the corner. (The man, who wore a brightly colored orange, oversized t-shirt. Can’t miss him.) The cop saw him, and high tailed it out there, to speak with him. The coffee shop has big windows, so we watched for a bit. Then the chat was done, the cop returned inside and the man left. The officer went to talk to the staff. Had they called 911? Did they know who did? Finally my friend went over and told him I had. As he walked over, his partner (senior??) entered the shop and joined him…

This has already been a long story. Bottom line: I have absolutely nothing against law enforcement. Nothing. I know several officers and then several more wives of (different) LEOs. I am grateful and in awe of their jobs. That being said- this situation made me think that if there were something suspicious happening, I would not call the police. While the younger officer seemed to be concerned with the fact that school was almost out and kids always hung out in this area, the older officer was one level away from condescending when he very firmly pointed out that this man has been around, walking all over town, for decades. Everyone knows him. He is harmless. He has a mental illnesses. SEVERAL different ones. And Tourrettes syndrome. Sometimes he shouts at people, they think, but it’s just his Tourrettes. And be all that as it may, the reality is that it is not harmless for a man of ANY age (or mental capacity) to follow teen girls around, trying to get them to join him. (And just so everyone is clear, an individual shouting to teen girls and asking them to join him for some fun is NOT what Tourrettes looks like.)

When something doesn’t look right, or if your gut sends you a signal- DO SOMETHING. Always. Every single time.

This situation was the most disheartening part of the day, and it stayed with me through most of the weekend… The biggest surprise of all, oddly, was that the stupid Honey Lavender Latte DID turn out to be the best part of my day after all.


adoption, chronic illness, depression, family, journey, marriage, writing

The ugliest of secrets…

There are so many things… layered things deeply woven within my journey as a wife, as a woman and as a mother. We are subconsciously trained, here in this culture we call home, to look at the beautiful, well put together women and wonder What’s her secret? While also bristling internally about the knowledge of what our secrets are.

I may not know what hers is, but mine- Mine is ugly. It does not lead to put together, it does not lead to beauty.

My secret is the shame attached to every single element of my real, genuine life. My motherhood, daughterhood, marriage, sisterhood… On and on. You tell me a story about your father and then ask me about my own dad. I smile and relay the information, while the secret part beneath the surface that remains unsaid screams the truth- I don’t really know my father. My dad isn’t actually even my dad. He’s someone else’s dad. He loves me, I love him, but our lives are different circles of things now and though we exchange and annual something-or-other, we are pretty separate and that is ok. What ownership do I have of him? None. Fatherless and unvalued, there in lies my secret shame.

Your sister is your best friend, and now you’re asking if I am close with mine? I have several sisters but am close with two of mine. Sisters are the best! Except, gurgling just beneath my horizon there’s more. There is a defect within me, there must be, and the reality is that they aren’t really my sisters. Not beyond the word anyway. I have no one real, that is mine. Shame.

My marriage of twenty-five years, what’s our secret? It hasn’t been perfect. There hasn’t been faithfulness. There hasn’t always been stability, honor, honesty, love… Ease. If you only knew…

Shame… Shame eats away at the fact that my children are not from my womb, shame lives in the many words and perspectives who’ve challenged my motherhood and questioned its validity. Oh, Hallmark of consumer driven holidays, do I deserve a Mother’s Day nod, a celebration, am i even a real mom at all? World, which reiterates over and over a woman’s purpose is to bear children- and Very beginning of the Bible which explains a woman’s curse will be painful childbirth- who am I? What am I? 

My secret is shame. My truths, the REAL truths, they silence the shame. For awhile anyway- but it always comes back. Today- today I see it for what it is.

Shhh, between you and me, tomorrow I may forget again…

(this post is in participation of the FMF prompt on Secret. to see more, visit the link.)

entertainment, family, gratitude, journey, list, marriage, self care

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

I am in love, (of the head over heels variety) with the blossoms on our trees. It is like Michigan woke up one morning and realized it had forgotten to dress in its spring apparel. I know, by now, that there is no “this time of year” sentiment rooted in fact, here in the mitten state. The weather is never the same. Even here, in the just-over-half-way point of May, a huge snow storm could fall on us at any point in time. I know the drill.

Sadly the blossoms are blowing off as quickly as they came. I feel the need to stomp my foot and ask God if the beauty  really has to be so fleeting… Then this might be when God smiles lovingly and points out the huge pimple on my jaw line and I sigh. (imaginary conversations are my specialty)

This week I’ve been lucky to love quite a few things. Some old, some new, and I am super excited to share those things with you…

  • This website is really time-consuming, but super moving. I am a big “fan” (the word seems almost inappropriate) of things which stretch the boundaries of my empathy and ability to relate to others. This is very much one of those things. (Another was this book… And if you happen to be pretty conservative and fear it will be like the Netflix series, I assure you, it is not.)
  • I think the husband & I feel like we watch a fair amount of shows on TV, but in comparison to the national average, we watch a lot less. That being said, I have to be honest and say that I am really glad the few shows I enjoy on regular TV are wrapping up for the season. For the most part, each time I watch a season finale, I find myself grateful.
  • Yellow Box Flip Flops are my life, in the summer. Truth be told, I dream of living somewhere where I can be in them all year long. Their soles just offer so much support. BEST. SHOES. EVER…
  • This sort of thing either annoys you, or your entire day will be made and you just might love me forever. Either way, this is my special weekend gift for you. You’re welcome…
  • I get it, it looks weird. I also get it, Wes Anderson movies are quirky… But seriously, if you like dogs AT ALL, you need to see this film. I knew I would love it, the issue was finding someone to see it with me. And finally, my husband reluctantly went, and really enjoyed it.

I have a really big week, coming up. There are a lot of stressful things, and some really exciting ones… I could use (and will take) all of the positive thoughts/energy/prayers you’re willing to share!

I’m not going to lie though, i am really excited for this… I wish I cared about the actual event, but I just don’t. I enjoyed the last one. My daughters and I made a big party out of it, and it was really fun/special. This time around though, I just have to admit: Will Ferrell makes everything better.

books, entertainment, gratitude, home, journey, list

A hodgepodge dabble…

From this Side of the Pond
I decided to dabble in a little something new, so today I am participating in a fun little Wednesday thing, over here… Basically, 6 questions are asked, and I’ll answer. Pretty easy, right?

1. What would you say is your biggest day to day challenge?

time management is easily my biggest day-to-day challenge. I have truly important (and sometimes admirable) to-do lists, where everything really matters, to some degree… But I struggle most often with managing the time and not losing myself in the tasks. Often what gets cut is my writing time…

2. May 16th is National Biographers Day. What’s a biography you really enjoyed reading? Is this a genre you read regularly?

While it isn’t actually a biography, anyone who reads here or listens to the podcast must be so sick of hearing about this, but I am full-on OBSESSED with Chrissy Metz autobiography/memoir. OBSESSED. (I have also enjoyed biographies written about Zelda Fitzgerald quite a bit!) I love memoirs, personal essay collections and really solid literary novels.

3. How important is keeping a clean house? Do you need to de-clutter your life?

I have a “lived in” home, but it stays pretty clean and organized, for the most part. I have a couple of seasons a year where I’ll do a big declutter, but do honestly try to stay on top of it because I firmly believe that only surround myself with things I either love or need is the best way to a quality and peace filled life.

4. You’re the 8th dwarf. What’s your name?

Ha! Snarky… (but only if I’m super close and comfortable with the 7 others.)

5. What’s surprised you the most about your life or life in general?

I think being able to look back and see direct trails (like connect-the-dots) leading from one bit to the next. Also, that, at 42, I still feel like that 22-year-old in my head. I don’t have it together, I’m not much wiser than then, I still have dreams and discover new passions. At 22, I always thought by now I’d be wise and stable, so mature in my brain, but I am just not…

This came about in a conversation with my husband, over the weekend. He, soft voiced and hesitant, confessed this very thing, and I had to laugh as reassuringly as possible. I wonder what it is that makes us believe we won’t still be us in 20-30 years? It gives me an all new perspective on my grandparents, before they passed, and on the elderly people I interact with regularly at my mother’s memory care facility.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Sometimes I watch the Great British Bake-off and I’m blown away by so many elements of it. I think about how it’s probably the wisest and best “entertainment” to help us become better people… Other times, I watch it and while I love it, I admit that I had NO CLUE what I was thinking…

You asked for random.

I’m also wondering how one goes about getting a summer intern. I’m also unable to think about little beyond if I am going to be moving soon. I want to move. I totally DO NOT want to move. Adulthood is complicated, no?

(also… Don’t forget to read my CRAZY little story, and then enter to win a $50 Target gift card!)