Tuesday, January 31, 2006


There is an unnerving stirring in my stomach as retrieve my items from the printer.  This sudden swell of emotion catches me off guard—it is just a note from her teacher, I remind myself.  You asked for her feedback, you idiot.  What are you so concerned about?

The problem is this—I know exactly what I’m concerned about.  And despite my best efforts or intentions, it scares me—fear that threatens to squeeze out my eyes and drip down my cheeks in the middle of the workroom on Tuesday at quitting time.  Fear for my daughter in all of her glorious, God-made spiritedness—Lord, you created her spirit.  Protect her.  I beg you—do not allow her to be crushed.

I take a deep breath and begin reading, knowing I will only find love and concern, but fearing her words, nonetheless.  It is one thing to know your child’s struggles.  It is another, entirely, to have them be known.  And there it is, all written down in black and white—her teacher knows her.  Her perfectionism, her insecurity, her inattention, her sensitivity.  I am at once both grieved and relieved.  I am not the only one who sees it—this is both a good thing and a difficult thing.

Packing the letter up with my things, I exhale again and make my way home amid the traffic jam of thoughts honking and blaring in my head.  We are on the same page, I remind myself.  This is a good thing.  This is a good thing.  

This is a good thing…

Monday, January 30, 2006


It has become my mantra—two words repeated over and over. The bridge to a worship song, sung with passion and conviction by a voice not unlike my own. Simple in its sentiment, perhaps even confusing to some as to its power, yet to me, it has become everything—

I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive.

I remember the first time I made this profession. Our women’s conference had been largely unremarkable to me so far, when out of nowhere, Rita Springer’s deep, throaty passion suddenly began to give voice to my own. Articulating what my own mind had been unable to put into words, the modest lyric affirmed the changes I felt in my spirit—changes that had been a very long time in coming. I stood, arms flung wide as if suddenly free from my inhibitions as well, and I proclaimed life for the first time in over a decade.

Of all the things those years of depression stole from me, losing my passion for life was the hardest to bear. My friend Karen put it best when she described me as a romantic in the truest sense—life, to me, should be like stepping out of the black and white of Kansas into the technocolor of Oz for the first time, every time. Awe and wonder await you around every corner, and the food is meant to be tasted and the wine to be drunk and the flowers to be smelled and the paths through the meadows to be taken. Life is meant to be lived—painted in vibrant hues with large, bold brush strokes upon an endless supply of blank canvases.

As depression took over my life, however, all color faded to rinse-water gray. Passion was lost—swept away in some cyclone that merely ended up in another bleak part of black-and-white Kansas. Life was no longer to be embraced, but tolerated and gotten through, like a long, gray, dreary March in central Ohio. Ten years of no-longer-winter-but-still-not-quite-spring. It was a fate, as some say, worse than death.

Thankfully, over the last several years, the color has mercifully returned—bleeding through the black and white and saturating my soul—restoring richness and detail to the pictures of my life. All that was dead inside me—hope, passion, emotion, conviction, joy—suddenly poked up through the gray landscape like brightly hued crocuses and daffodils, not dead after all, but buried until the warmth of the sun returned to coax them to press up through and join it. Welcome back to Oz, they tell me—we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Only one who has walked among the living dead can understand the power contained in this simple affirmation of life. It catches me off guard, these days, as my CD changer cycles through six sets of worship music, returning every few days to this phrase that still brings tears to my eyes. Just as amazing grace transformed one who was lost into one who was found, it has transformed me from one who was dead into one who is alive. I turn it up and I sing it loud—defying depression, defying death, defying colorless living. I will not go back to black and white. I am living life bright red and royal blue.

This is my story, this is my song: I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive.

Friday, January 27, 2006


(thought of this after I wrote the previous post--wrote it in 1996)

the slow boil.

the motion begins slowly from within
—molecules soon colliding at
lightning speed—
heat is generated…
the burn.

bubbles begin to form—
from deep down you begin
to churn—
changes are coming.
a violent reaction to
outside stimuli—
an internal

once all was placid, smooth—
once there was peace.

now there is motion.
now there is yearning.
now there is need.
now there is heat.

burning, churning bubbles
fighting for an outlet—
colliding with a force
that shatters all stillness.

in their frantic spinning,
they rise from the bottom,
they struggle for the top—
they overcome…

and they are released.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

boiling water

The kettle sputters on the back burner, and I did remember to turn on the BACK burner this time.  Usually, I am not as aware—at least not until the house smells of burnt whatever-is-on-the-burner-this-time and I come in to find the front burner red hot and my water still ice cold.  But tonight, surprisingly enough, I have enough of my faculties, despite a head full of something resembling half-dried rubber cement, to boil water.  But just barely.

My mind is elsewhere tonight.  Or, rather, my mind is everywhere tonight.  Thoughts race through my head like satellite channels at the whim of a bored housewife clinging to the remote as if it were her only lifeline.  I can’t stay with one long enough to really get into the plot before I am off to the next.  But I’m learning a lot about decorating in the process.

Rumbling comes from the kitchen, alerting me that the boiling point is near.  I am distracted by watching my wedding ring slide around my finger to the left, pulled by the weight of my husband’s grandmother’s diamond.  Over and over I set it upright, and over and over it twists as I type.  Quite a change from two years ago, when I couldn’t get it on or off.  Again, I change the channel.

click Can I really keep the weight off?  click  Did I spend enough time with my son today?  click Why did I schedule myself so late tomorrow night?  click What will the teacher have to say? click What if we don’t hear back by Friday?  click How will this project come together?  click  Did I remember to email the coordinator?  click What are we doing this weekend?  click What color should we paint the living room?  click Are we REALLY ever going to paint the living room?  click The scream of the kettle calls and I pry my hands from the remote, all thoughts momentarily focused in the direction of my stomach.

I pour the contents of my 25-calorie diet hot chocolate into my favorite mug, noticing as if for the first time the number of chips around its edges.  Hunting out the cocoa powder and artificial sweetener, I prepare to turn my 25-calorie diet hot chocolate into approximately 40-calorie hot chocolate.  As I stir the contents, my mouth begins to water in pathetic anticipation.  The kettle is returned to the burner, promptly resuming its hissing and humming as it issues miniature clouds out its spout and into our kitchen.  I breathe deeply and grab my mug, trying in vain not to spill anything.

Settling back into the love seat, steaming mug of comfort in hand, my mind threatens to return to a rolling boil as well.  Tension bubbles up within looking for release—I need to let off some steam.  Or, better yet, perhaps I need to be removed from the burner for a while—allowed to cool down to room temperature so as to not entirely evaporate.  I am accustomed to boiling—the screaming of the kettle is the soundtrack of my inner life.  But not tonight, I decide after some consideration.  Tonight, I think am going to play Vivaldi.

I kick my shoes off, leaning back to put my feet up and sinking three inches further into the couch.  The remote lays at my feet as I pick up Reading Lolita in Tehran.  Perhaps I will finish it tonight.  Or perhaps I won’t.  But for now, at least, all burners are turned to off, and I am cooling down.    

oh where, oh where has my little blog gone?

Can anyone tell me what happened to Dan's blog? Anyone? I'm in haiku withdrawal...

Monday, January 23, 2006

the aproned crusader

She circulates among the masses, alert to the first sign of distress. At the upward shot of a hand, she is there, springing into action. Inserting a hand into her trusty apron, she dispenses vital supplies with lightening speed to the forgetful and the unprepared. Forks. Straws. Napkins. Ketchup. Where there is an innocent child in need, she is there.

The lunchroom nearly spills over with tension and trouble—but no, wait! That’s just Nathan’s milk! Not to worry—milk spills are no match for this dominatrix of domesticity. Mop in hand, chaos is averted for another Monday.

So go about your daily business in peace, fellow mothers. The Aproned Crusader is on the job. Enforcer of the one-more-bite rule. Inspector of the contents of lunchboxes. Patroller of hidden, uneaten sandwiches. Yes, mothers, you can relax. Your child’s lunchtime is safe.

Faster than a child headed to the tetherball tournament. More powerful than your average six-year old girl. Able to open the most stubborn package in a single tear.

But who IS that aproned woman?

It’s a first year teacher… it’s a study hall monitor… it’s an off-duty police officer…

it’s, it’s, it’s…

(duhn duhn da DUHN)

C A F E T E R I A M O M . . .

visiting great-grandma

Portable DVD player:    $99.99

Case that hangs between the seats:    $19.99

Two sets of headphones:    $9.98

Splitter jack:    $4.99

Complete silence to Sandusky and back:  PRICELESS

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


It hangs over me like gray hangs over the Midwest in March, like rain hangs over our city as if it has come to stay, like life and its demands hang over my shoulders bowing my back with their weight.  It drapes its dreary self around me, swallowing me like an oversized jacket, and I find myself lost in its billowing folds.  I regard myself in the mirror, but all I see reflected back is the cloud-cover.

Overwhelmed.  Overextended.  Overdrawn.  Feeling decidedly at a deficit, I snap at the only ones safe enough to be snapped at.  Guilt consumes me—raising like fog, gray on gray, to further obscure all visibility.  

Like a cat that has had too many objects tied to its tail in his lifetime, I have tired of trying to shake it.  I regard it with weary disdain, eventually settling in to lick my wounds and give off a generally offended air.  Not unlike the cat’s, such airs go completely ignored—as they should be.  But the indifference irritates me, nonetheless.

It will be gone by morning—evaporated perhaps even before the lights go out for the evening.  Nothing but a fine mist will linger, eventually blown away by the morning breeze.  All will be sunny again.  But for now, I am in a foul mood, and if you’ll excuse me, my cat and I have some sulking to do.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

falling down

“It’s all part of learning to skate,” I tell my daughter, who is begging now to end what she begged for weeks to begin. “Everybody falls down when they’re learning to skate.” She looks at me as if she is trying to determine if I am merely feeding her a line. To emphasize my point, I direct her gaze to three children sprawled out flat on the ice around us. She smiles, and we continue to advance around the outer wall.

I must admit, I am fairly nervous myself. Fifteen years since I’ve last been on skates—and while she is made out of rubber, I feel as if I am made out of porcelain. The last thing I need is a broken _______ (insert any breakable bone here). I do my own fair share of clinging to the wall until my ankles finally cooperate with my legs, which takes longer to accomplish than I’d like. But I am in no hurry—neither to let go nor to leave her side.

She is an oxymoron, my daughter. Fearless, yet timid. Bold, yet cautious. This adventure is clearly not what she bargained for. Her eyes are wide with concern as her feet refuse to obey her, landing her, again, on the cold, hard surface. She struggles like a cat trying to get out of the bathtub to regain her footing and put herself upright before asking, again, if we can go home now.

We have only been at it for a half of an hour. I am finally able to let go and allow my legs to support me for short periods of time. Hand in hand, I encourage her to continue, partially out of principle, partially because we shelled out cold, hard cash to make this little ice skating dream come true. I can see it in her eyes—she longs to go out in the middle, but she must let go of the wall to do so. She tries, and falls. Tries, and falls. It will take more time and practice. I know she can do it, but how hard and how long do I push?

We continue for almost another hour at our stop-start-stop-start pace around the rink, mopping up ice as we go. She perseveres, giving it an honest try, and I am immensely proud of her efforts. Her ankles gain strength and her confidence grows in small increments, but she is getting tired. And then, she finally hits a wall. Literally, and figuratively.

Face down on the ice, she begins to sob. “I want to be done now, Momma!” she cries, a mixture of pain, embarrassment, and fatigue in her voice. I gather her into my arms, as several very maternal middle-school girls check to make sure she is okay. I reassure everyone, my daughter included, that she will be fine. I escort her to the exit gate, her dream, for the moment, forgotten.

There is a time for letting go of the wall. That time will not come today.

Today, it is time to go.

Friday, January 13, 2006

haiku at the zoo

(inspired by the coral reef tank-- our favorite winter hang-out)

salt water ballet
color extrodanary
flows in slow motion

giggles and bubbles
grubby handprints on the glass
life beneath the sea

divine artistry
brings forth unfathomable

follow me, sissy!
-over, under, through, between-
adventure awaits!

the masses move in perfect

i'm so hip i can't stand it

blogging at panera while my daughter parties across the street at chuck e. cheese...

difinitely the only mom online here... (smile)

vivaldi on the sound system, and no whining toddler for miles

ah... sweet freedom!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

hiaku for adding a second aerobics class

class one, session two
intermediate, my _ _ _
what was I thinking?

seventy pounds lost
a glutton for punishment
(please pass the cookies)

Monday, January 09, 2006

all you can eat

Another one of those nights when brilliance is eluding me…

My stomach growls, protesting the advice from the aerobic instructor to not eat anything after seven PM. I am hungry—literally and figuratively—but I do not know what for. I’m two feet over the line called Complacency, being pulled in both directions by forces unseen. The desire for comfort and ease grips with arrogance and quiet might while the desire to be more yanks and gasps like a small dog at the end of a short, sturdy leash. My will remains largely unmoved.

Can I really do this? The plate in front of me is full, already. But I am a compulsive eater at the World’s Biggest Potluck and there is more to be tasted in this life. Motherhood. Career. Marriage. Writing. Music. Leadership. Photography. Travel. Service. Friendship. I am torn—my life at this time cannot contain it all.

I suck on a zinc lozenge—surely ten calories will not tip the scale. Perspective is key: is my life sucking on zinc lozenges when what I really want is fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies or is this the beginning evidence of long sought after discipline?

Perspective is realizing I want to be thin and healthy more than I want chocolate chip cookies.

Perspective is realizing the time to write is coming.

Perspective is learning portion control.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

and all that jazz

Two new Jazz Slam dates: check them out here.

They are a blast! See ya there!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

i hope you dance

Check out a friend of mine as she chronicles her efforts to dance for the glory of God. Lots of creativity in this gal...check out her jewlry site also...it links from her blog.

Friday, January 06, 2006

horror of horrors

God help me, but I have it, and I have it bad.

Despite my best intentions and self-directed propaganda, despite regularly sleeping through the night for going on two years now, despite all physical, emotional, and financial reason, I have caught the baby bug like I catch every virus my children introduce to my ineffectual immune system.


What is it about babies that make women idiots?  A three-month-old flashes a gummy grin at me and I suddenly forget two very long, uncomfortable pregnancies, two horrific postpartum recovery periods, two very loud, colicky babies, and a combined four years of sleepless nights.  I hold a sleeping baby in my arms, inhaling its sweet baby-scented hair, and I completely blank out about the sciatica, the back and hip pain, the hernia, the stretch marks, and the 70 lbs. finally lost.  The sight of a mother nursing and the realities of the size of our home, our car, or our bank account vanish like Little People under the couch.  I forget that I’m almost eight years older than when I started.  I forget the fear of losing a baby.  I forget the pain of fear becoming reality.  I forget morning sickness, heartburn, and sinus headaches for which I can take nothing.  I forget the 80% chance of conceiving twins once more.  I forget that in two more years I’ll finally have time to myself again.

But then I remember—in two years, I’ll have time to myself again.  Babies grow up.  The bitter and the sweet war internally over the inevitability.  Today was not a good day to go to COSI.

I should have gotten vaccinated.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

great expectations

It is only when we’re in love
or when we’re little
that Christmas really comes true
… In between
it can break our hearts
Merrit Malloy

“Well, what did you expect?”

The tree is gone—returned to its summer home in the corner of our damp Clintonville basement. The living room has been re-reconfigured—pictures and tables and lamps and the like all back in their pre-Christmas places. All that is green and red is now stored, once again, in embarrassingly huge plastic tubs of the same color, awaiting next Christmas and sharing my melancholy over the end of the season.

I sit in my post-holiday funk in a living room that now seems stark and I replay scenes that tickle my memory. The romantic glow of the zoo’s light display set against the freshly fallen snow, especially heart-warming when replayed on mute so as to forget that the toddler fussed and cried for the entire last leg of our tour. Missing my husband’s final Christmas concert—the one I was finally going to brave my way through without tears. Making the gingerbread house with my six-and-a-half year old and chastising myself later for trying to control too much of the process, down to when it was okay or not okay to lick the knife. More stellar scenes—biting my husband’s head off as we wrapped gifts for our children, snapping at my children as attempting to get out the door for Christmas Eve service, spending Christmas day in a smoke-filled house with a head cold. Moments of disappointment that beg the question—what did I expect?

Somewhere not-so-deep within I cling to a not-so-secret belief that life should play like a Hallmark movie complete with soundtrack and obligatory happy ending. The script includes lots of “pleases” and “thank yous” and even more “you were rights” and “I was wrongs.” Family times are harmonious and husbands never snap back, childhood memories are recreated flawlessly, and I am at the center of it all—Mother of the Year surrounded by her adoring, smiling, perfect family. And I wonder where my disappointment stems from…

Believe it or not, I truly went into this holiday trying to curb my expectations. I worked to keep my focus where it belonged and tried to convey to our children the meaning of our celebration while hoping feel its impact myself along the way. Sometimes, I actually succeeded, despite myself. In between the hustling and bustling and grinching and grouching, there were some beautiful, tender, precious moments. One day, I will learn to enjoy them more fully.

A final scene flashes through my mind—we sit in a candle and tree-lit room, snuggled up in our pajamas before the Christmas tree, reading The Night Before Christmas with full dramatic flair. My daughter then reads us the Story of Stories in her sweet, innocent six-and-a-half year old voice and my heart is moved once again by the faith and wonder of my child. Prayers are offered by each as we consider with grateful hearts all that we have been blessed with, culminating in the Greatest Gift of All. There is lots of giggling, lots of wiggling, and the occasional “shhhhhh” to one child or the other. It is not a Hallmark Moment, but it is a Holy Moment.

It is the one I will choose to remember as the Christmas soundtrack fades.

carnival of the mundane

ordinary people, writing about ordinary life. including li'l ol' me! check it out!

carnival of the mundane

Sunday, January 01, 2006

the perfect start to a new year

P1015735, originally uploaded by as we see it.

Hiking at Hocking Hills... say that ten times fast!

Happy New Year!