Sunday, September 24, 2023

Perfect for Me

 A few weeks ago, I looked at my husband and said "Can we run to Menards?" 

Now, Menards is maybe one of our favorite places to go wander around in. They have pretty much everything, and we're both capable of spending entire paychecks in there. I had a specific mission, though, and he knew that immediately. 

He asked what I was after, and I replied that they had a simple, steel fire ring for under $50 and I was going to buy it. 

He looked at me for a moment, preparing to challenge me. You see, we have plans for our back yard that include a deck expansion, patio pour and fire pit. The thing is, we have had "plans" for years. What we haven't had is the time, finances, motivation - call it what you want, but this back yard oasis has lived in my mind and heart forever, but who knows when it will actually be in my back yard. 

I, however, was tired of waiting on evenings by the fire. The rest sounds lovely, and I very much want it all, but I want crackling, and smoke, and sometimes a burnt, sticky marshmallow. I want hoodies and cold beers and laughter. I want quiet nights with the frogs, crickets and cicadas. And I no longer was willing to wait for it. 

That day, he heard me. He understood that I didn't need the perfect space, just *A* space. So, off to Menards we went. 

I put that little fire ring together, and that night I sat as I burned off some branches from our property. I came in smelling of smoke and fall. I spent three hours in solitude and peace, and came inside feeling more free and whole than I had felt in months. 

The outside sings to me, and it sounds like neighborhood dogs, frogs, crickets and cicadas. It feels like crisp fall breezes offset by the warmth of the fire. It smells like chili, and warm cider, and yes - like a campfire. 

And while the back yard isn't yet our perfectly planned out deck and patio, complete with a fire pit, this little inexpensive fire ring is perfect for me. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

What Matters?

One of the things that I am lucky enough to get to do at this stage in my life is give back. These days, it's even occasionally able to be financially. For a lot of years, my ability to give was primarily of my time. I didn't always have extra cash to donate to a cause I believed in, but by golly I could volunteer my heart out.

This is not to toot my own horn, let me be clear, but I wanted you to have a touch of background before I got into the next part.

I had an exchange recently about an event that was coming up. Some new information had come up about the event, and I felt a little disheartened because I knew that there was going to be a group that would have limitations around this last minute change. It was not anything that was going to diminish what was happening, or take away from the joy that that group would get to experience, but the change could have allowed for an even greater sense of community, but because it was so last minute there was no time to adjust.

I was bummed. The idea of community was a real root to the entire activity. I mentioned my disappointment on a social media site, and I got a response that reminded me of how differently people view certain things. 

The response I received was very much from a place of privilege. A lack of understanding. I'm not entirely sure, for all I know it could have even been a place of disdain, but I like to hope that it was just misunderstanding.

Sometime ago I had a post show up in social media that was an image, a wooden picket fence that had been spray painted with the words "It shouldn't have to happen to you for it to matter to you." It's stuck with me, because there are a bounty of problems, or things I view as problems, that have never been my personal problem, but that are real and valid for others.

We're a pretty knee-jerk reaction society. Big on instant gratification. We want information, we go to the internet. We want something to eat, we go to the drive-thru. We have become very accustomed to having what we want or need very quickly. Not everyone has that same privilege. Not every household has access to the internet. Not every family has a car to take them to a drive-thru, or money to spend if they were to get there. Not every home is "traditional" (in my definition of traditional- knowing that traditions also cast a wide net!). That doesn't invalidate the experiences of the people who live in that home.

I want to encourage you to look beyond your own personal experiences, and really see those around you. We have opportunities to learn from one another all the time, but we're so busy defending our personal reality that we fail to acknowledge the reality of someone else. Be open to differences, be receptive to information, and be willing to understand that your own lived experience does not negate the lived experience of your neighbor anymore than their experiences negate yours. 

One of the most effective ways I was able to open my own mind and heart to the experiences of those around me was to give my time and spend it with my neighbors. If you have opportunities to volunteer, or give back, or just spend some time listening and learning within your community, I can't encourage you enough to jump all over those.

Blessed Be. 

A wooden fence is spray painted with blue paint to read "It shouldn't have to happen to you for it to matter to you."

Friday, July 28, 2023

Porch Posts

I don't want to pretend to be something I'm not. I share on social media, much like everyone else, snapshots of who I am. These are filtered, not always the photographs, but the sentiments. The portrayal. It's not my all day every day, it's literally the beautiful snippet that I've chosen to share. That's mostly what we do, we'll share the ugly if it's powerful enough to have an impact, or funny enough to make someone laugh. Generally speaking though, we share the beautiful. We all have beautiful, but we all also have hard and ugly and painful. We have fights with the people we love, we get hurt, we're messy, we're emotional.

I started sharing what I called porch posts because I've used time on a little cast iron bistro set on my front porch to reflect on myself, and what goes on around me. My porch posts are public reminders to myself mostly of the things I need to keep in mind, the things I need to remember when the hard and the ugly are happening. 

I've been "Porch Posting" for a while, and the posts are intermingled with the rest of my social media. I've decided I'd like to curate them here, in this space. A space that once was used with some regularity, a space that I enjoyed, and still enjoy, but don't visit as often as I should.

So, I'm sweeping off this front porch. I'm clearing the table, and grabbing a cup and a pen. I'm inviting you to pull up the other chair, to stop and sit a spell. Some days will be our morning coffee, others, an evening cocktail, but let's have a drink and chat a minute.

Welcome to Porch Posts.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Pandemic Fatigue

 Like so many of us, I am feeling the exhaustion of living in a pandemic. 

I want a hug. 

I want to hang out with my girlfriends and have a night of wine and laughter. 

I want to sit down in a restaurant and eat a meal that I didn't cook and don't have to wash dishes from. 

I want my kids to have a normal day at school, where my daughter can link arms with her friends while they laugh and gossip, and my son to high five his buddies after a great game. 

I want my husband to be able to go to work, and laugh with clients and coworkers, and not worry about how his pulmonologist told us that his risk of mortality with this illness is INCREDIBLY high.

I'm trying to stay on top of work stuff, while finding myself sliding into such a depressive state that I don't want to get out of bed. To add to that, it's approaching winter, which means it's dark outside before 6pm, and it's cold. 

I know. We're all (well, almost all... Not quite enough "all", but a lot of us) dealing with the same stuff, and my whining about it doesn't change anything. This is one of those posts where I type and type and type, and then I feel bad about what I've written because I am realistically in a total place of privilege because I have a job, and my husband has a job, and our kids are safe, and education is happening, and we have the resources to cook a meal and wash the dishes, and I can zoom with my girlfriends and .. and... and.........

But the reality for so many of us is that this is still hard, and it's been hard for a long time, and now we're watching as it gets worse, and we're starting to lose sight of the light at the end of this very long tunnel. And it's draining. And if you already deal with things like seasonal depression that is rearing its ugly head, this is one more brick that feels like it's pulling you under. 

I'm going to try to find more things to help me, and I'll try to keep sharing how that goes. In the meantime, wear your mask, wash your hands, and stay home when you can. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020


My heart breaks as I know that we are reaching a point where some relationships will be fractured beyond repair. Many got there long before now with others, a few felt that way about their relationship with me, but I have tried to hold off, to listen and understand.

It was hard four years ago. It will be hard now, but the boldness, the willingness of some to share their true feelings, provide deeper clarity, and will bring me peace as I say goodbye to relationships that are not healthy for me, or for my family.
Differences of opinion are fine. Conversation is healthy. Growth can be amazing.
Hatred, bigotry, idolatry. They are not ok with me, and I will protect my heart and mind from them, and that may mean stepping away from one another.
I won't cast stones, but I will cast away lines that hold me back.
Blessed be.

Not all, but some.

Dropping this draft from a couple months ago.

We know that it is not all police officers. Many officers enter their careers anxious to help heal the hurt, to fight injustice, to do what they can to be the peacemakers. 

We know that.

We know "not all men", but we also know "yes, all women". 
We hear your "All lives matter" but until "black lives matter" as much, the voices are echoes in an empty hall. 

You try to placate with your wide generalizations, but in doing so, you further marginalize the harsh realities that exist. No life is without struggle, but some lives face greater struggles because they are not seen beyond the color of their skin, or their sex, or their sexual orientation, or their job, the list goes on.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Trying to Find Perspective

I’ve struggled a little bit with how to try to put some of this into perspective. It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? To think of an actual GLOBAL PANDEMIC? One where thousands have already lost their lives in just a few short months, and where we are doing things we’d never imagined to try to keep the US lives lost to under a quarter of a million people in the next few months?

If you know me at all, you know I’m an advocate for pediatric cancer research. The idea that an entire classroom and then some of kids faced a diagnosis of cancer each day always was stunning to me. 43 children each day are diagnosed with some form of cancer. 12% of them, or 5-6 kids each day, do not survive. 60% have long term, lasting effects – infertility, hearing loss, heart failure, secondary cancers. That’s about 26 of those kids.

Our first confirmed US case of Covid-19 was January 21st, in Washington State. As I write this, we have statistics, as shaky as they may be, through April 7th. The US showed 400,335 cases.

10 days in January.

29 days in February.

31 days in March.

7 days in April.

That’s 77 days. 

That’s 3,311 pediatric cancer cases, which so many of us find abhorrent.

It is four hundred thousand cases of Covid-19.

Deaths in the US through April 7th? 12,841. That is nearly four times the pediatric cancer diagnosis numbers.

Understand that this is in no way a competition, I’m not stepping away from the pediatric cancer fight. What I’m trying to do is help us collectively understand that we have a responsibility to our friends, our neighbors, our loved ones. If we knew that taking some time and limiting our activities would protect our kids from cancer, we’d do it. Shoot, for kids who did stem cell transplants, THEY DID THIS! With a stem cell transplant, they destroy the immune system completely, and rebuild it. As part of that protocol, there is a period of around 100 days of isolation. Social distancing on steroids.

We have the ability to do that for each other right now. We have the ability to protect someone we know, someone we love, from an illness that could kill them. Could put them in the ICU, intubated, sedated and alone.

Those same kids, the ones who fought the cancer and survived that? They are higher risk. Your parents or grandparents are higher risk. My husband is higher risk. More likely to be that one who is intubated, sedated, alone in an ICU. 

Yes, I know people are beating this thing. That’s AMAZING, and I’m so thankful for that. But this isn’t the flu, (In the last five years, Indiana has averaged 154 flu deaths each year, with flu season generally about 7 months long. In only a month, 173 Hoosiers have died from COVID-19, with many more expected.) It’s not a cold. You might be young and healthy and not high-risk, but you can be a carrier, and unwittingly pass it along to someone who is higher risk.

Is it worth it?

I guess, if it is, if you want to still behave as if all of this is normal, and that the scientists and the media are blowing it out of proportion, and that we’re just stirring up mass hysteria, I can’t fix that. We can call it a difference of opinion, but I hope your opinion doesn’t kill someone.

"You won't ever know if what you did personally helped. That's the nature of public health. 
When the best way to save lives is to prevent a disease rather than treat it, 
success often looks like an overreaction."