Dear Big Brother,

Today, you would have been 58 and in a few short weeks, I’ll be 50… You could see 50 so closely the day you left this world, were you excited about it?

This is such a weird journey on my own. Yes, I have lots of people in my circle, many of the names and faces you would remember. Our family-circle has shifted and changed and it still isn’t right without you here. Even though we not super involved in each others day-to-day life; I always had the promise of you. I always knew you were at the other end of an email or phone call. And now, now I can’t help but feel a little lost.

So in true Little Sister fashion, Big Brother, I have a few questions…

Is there Bingo in heaven, if not, I bet Mom is super pissed

Has Dad made peace with God yet?

Is Grandma Hedges still gloating over all the times she gave me the wrong ingredients to a recipe, so I’d fail and she would be needed to make it right?

Is Uncle Stan still playing the piano and telling bad jokes?

Did DiAnn make in the gate ok? She probably gave Saint Peter a rough time

I don’t remember Grandma Blanchard, does she remember me?

Does Jesus still do the water into wine trick? Golly, I hope so

Uncle Hink still has a harem, doesn’t he?

Will you save a seat for me, next to you? I’ve got a lot of shit yet to do here and lots of people to annoy.

Miss you much.


Me ❤️

p.s. I still haven’t forgiven you for locking me in the dryer, but we’ll hash that out when I get there

One Word

2017 was the first year I purposefully set a “one word” into being, rather than offering up a well meaning, but never fulfilled “resolution”.

My word for 2017 was Boundaries. I totally lost sight of my word, allowed myself beyond boundaries that were healthy or helpful. My word rediscovered me, revealed itself where I had least expected, and showed me lessons learned while I wasn’t looking.

My word for 2018 can be found in the waiting; for my 3rd grandchild to be born, for a BIG birthday year, and the vision of a 2nd book (yet to be written).

My word can be found in the hoping, believing in better health solutions and for relationships restored.

Yes, I can safely say, 2018 is to be filled with Expectation!

Cheers to 2018! And all that you are expecting!!

When Everyday Life is the Biggest Puzzle

Imagine your life as a jigsaw puzzle…

The information on the puzzle box is incredibly limited. It does not tell you how many pieces are inside. The photo on the outside of the box is just blue sky, scattered with soft focused clouds. As you look at the photo on the box, you mutter, “This is going to be so difficult to put together.” Every puzzle piece looks identical in color. The theory, in any time you put together a puzzle, is that the puzzle will look EXACTLY like the photo on the outside of the box. Your hands steadily open the box of the puzzle-of-life and remove the lid to see the contents. Much to your surprise, there are pieces of strange colors and of strange images, not all blue sky as you assumed.

My strategy, in putting together a puzzle, is to search out and place all the straight edges and corners to build the framework first. The beautiful blue frame stares back at you with the promise of many days yet to come. Your logical brain knows that life isn’t always going to be blue skies, it is a certainty that there may be clouds, maybe even a storm or two. As you fill in the pieces, you uncover a piece with an image of children. That’s pretty cool, not sure where they fit in, but it makes you smile. As you stir through the pieces, you discover an image of a lovely garden, again not sure where it fits, but pleasing nonetheless.

As you stir through yet more pieces, turning them right side up, you find a heart. Not just any heart, this one is broken. Oh! if only you knew where it fit, you could possibly prevent it from breaking. The next piece turned over, a hospital bed. You can assume that it must fit before the kids, after all, children are born in hospitals. But this piece is not even shaped like any of the other pieces. It is so random. You keep it within eye-line, always in sight, wondering when and where it fits.

You realize that you have excruciating back pain, you pass it off as having been sorting and searching for so long. Some hot packs and Advil with surely take care of it. There is a much bigger task at hand, making sense of this chaos. Hours and days blend together, as you piece together the story of your life. A little piece with a pill comes to sight, and another, and yet another. It seems as though the medications have multiplied and don’t resemble each other. You group them together and push them to the side.

You’re surveying the pieces before you. Some are brightly colored and some have dark murky images. A gloomy image of two people sitting across from each other in what looks like an office setting. These people do not look happy. One person with their head in the hands, the other holds a clipboard and pen. Unsure of what this means, you begin a new section of puzzle pieces.

Another shadowy piece is a bottle of poison, or so you think. When you look closer at the label, it appears to have some biohazard looking image on it. Is it a warning of something dangerous? Off to the side with the other dark pieces…

If only we were able to see all of the pieces of our life laid out in front of us. To see the timing and plan, the purpose of it all. Our sense of control would be so overwhelming, we would manage and manipulate the puzzle to fit our plan. Our way. Had I known that the piece with the broken heart would surface more times than I can count, I would have maybe withdrawn. Not allowed myself to love so ferociously. That would have been the worst, not the broken heart, the lack of passion in my life.

There is no way to compartmentalize life. There is no way to neatly organize our darkness or create nice, neat edges. The dark image of the people facing off in an office could represent many facets of my life. I’m not exactly sure which piece is which, perhaps it’s the conversation with a lawyer during my divorce. Perhaps it’s the conversation with a doctor that is just not listening to me or hearing the cry of my body. Perhaps it’s the conversation with a trusted friend that doesn’t understand or believe the abuse of my past. In any scenario, I’m was left feeling defeated and dark.

The dimness of a hospital bed, in this puzzle, served my parents, so many days and nights sitting around a hospital bed praying for better days. Cancer and disease are beasts that we try to tame. Days into months of lingering illness and pain. Some never know the victory over the beast. Little did I know, that in their death, I would learn about strength.

The ‘pill pieces’ have been present most of my adult life. I’ve battled depression and anxiety to epic proportions. I’ve had seasons of quiet and seasons of mayhem. Those manic seasons come and go, but never completely disappear. It’s in those season that I’ve craved peace. Sought it out and chased it. Peace is elusive. What you are certain will bring you peace, may be the core of chaos. While it is imperative to seek peace, seek discernment and wisdom equally.

In your busy-ness of life, you learn to pass off the little moments of discomfort as nothing more than nuisance. The back pain that stops you in your tracks can be attributed to a zillion things. Your weight, poor posture, an occupation on your feet all day. Never would you assume that your back pain may be the root of a deeper more invasive disease. Too busy to give it light, you pass it off as that, passing. When putting together the pieces of a puzzle within a puzzle, you discover you have an autoimmune disease, Ankylosing Spondylitis.  It’s when you understand your ‘biohazzard puzzle piece’ is not a warning of danger ahead, it is the treatment for the disease that you [and multiple doctors] failed to see. It’s the victory and defeat. You now have a name for the disease, but the treatment is another chapter in illness that you wouldn’t wish upon an enemy.

But in this tabletop view of life, you can see that these dark puzzle pieces are but small segments of a much bigger picture. Yes, they are visible, but they are surrounded by light. Not always sunshine, but light that gives purpose and life. Your life is that, purposeful. Breathe in the moment of right now. Un-burden yourself of the chaos and quest for having all of your pieces organized just right. Let go the pain of a season of dark days. Look for the lessons learned in those moments. Yes, even the darkness has a lesson to be learned. Sometimes it’s as simple as learning to not do that again, or it’s as complex as finding the voice within to stand up for yourself or a loved one in their dark season.

No, sunshine and blue skies would be too boring, for this girl. I will lean in and learn about love through the pain. Healing in the brokenness. Learn to slow down when my body tells me to. Life is to be lived, discovered anew. Throw the box away! Throw away the picture in your mind of how it should be. And, if life ever gets too blue sky, take a Sharpie and write cuss words across the pieces. Live life – out loud!!



Hearts and Hammers

Recently, I took off on a solo adventure… to Ikea™. Now that might not sound like a grande adventure to you, but for someone (like me) with Chronic Anxiety it was grande on multiple levels. I tend to get overwhelmed quite easy and a place like Ikea could make even the Mona Lisa twitchy. I was on task! ONE dresser, that’s it!! I had the item number, aisle and bin number on my iPhone. Easy peasy, right? [[Never]] A delightful girl helped me find my destination, as we chatted about jade nail polish and tattoos. We found Aisle 5, Bin 5 with ease, but I decided to wander off. [[Like my brain often does]] I meander and stroll, I want this and am sure I need that. I text my hubby for reinforcement. “Please tell me that we don’t need more dishes and that we have enough pillows.” He knew I was teetering at the edge of temptation and an overdraft and talks me off the ledge. I march myself back to first floor, and my dresser. Ugh, crap, I’m wearing a dress and I am the least ladylike broad you will ever meet and I’m going to load these boxes onto a flatbed cart…by myself…in a dress. This is likely going to end up in swearing and my dress run amok. With great pride and very little swearing, I was able to load the aforementioned boxes onto my cart AND load them into the backseat of my car. Yes, there was a gusty breeze and I’m sure someone got more than a giggle. Let’s just leave it that.

As hubby and I are navigating the directions and parts and mayhem that ensues when one puts together Ikea furniture; it dawns on me… If a couple can survive assembling Ikea furniture together without you throwing a screw driver at the other person and the furniture piece is assembled to perfection; you can survive your relationship!

Welcome to “Couples Counseling Strategy ala Ikea”

Relationships are complex and beautiful, difficult and rewarding. The catalog of qualities to choose a partner is overwhelming and often times we aren’t even sure what we are looking for. You’re pretty set on the Hurdal but then the Brusali catches your eye. You can see the qualities you admire in both of them, but the choice is tough.

Once you’ve settled on your pièce de résistance, you realize that it will take some steady navigation to get it to a safe place. You are quite proud of your choice and unveil the contents in all their glory. All of this. Oh, my. Paralyzing. Fearful. Feeling as if you’ve made a huge mistake. You realize the directions aren’t clear and so many different languages cloud your eyes. The illustrations help, but it’s only in communication that you are fully able to identify the components and tasks. You talk it out, even if it’s only to yourself.

Some Assembly RequiredIt is imperative to take each step in order and with great intention. It is easy to think you know more than a silly photo and decide to bulldoze forward. It’s only as the pieces don’t fit or it becomes unsteady that you realize your error. Your pride wants to scream, but you also know that you’ve made this a much tougher process. You must attempt to undo all that’s already done. You are hopeful and slightly skeptical that you can back step without damaging any of the parts. You also realize that there are items that seem to have no bearing on what you’re doing, it’s as if they are meant for someone else. This is meaningless and irrelevant to what you’re going through right now. This shouldn’t be so damn hard. The more you stomp and get angry, the less you want to see this project succeed. It’s sooo tempting to throw the screwdriver and kick over the panels. But this doesn’t solve any problems, it only creates new ones. It’s easy to just say “screw it, I quit” but you have made an investment and it would indeed be a waste. You’ve come this far, you can see it through.

A deep breath, an exhale of renewed purpose of building something beautiful. The moments of doubt pass and you can step into a new objective; taking this rubble that is scattered everywhere and make it complete. The task at hand is literally IN your hands. As with many tasks you’ve trampled through, it is sometimes better to complete it as a team. Going it your own way can only get you so far, you’re better, together. As a dynamic duo you develop a language of hopefulness and delight in your achievements. Each of you taking a component and making it ready for the other person. The two of you begin to move forward as if it were orchestrated by a composer. The flow and fit seem to be making beautiful progress. The items that were once stubborn and ill-fitting now move with the gentle glide of a well oiled hinge.

Sure, it could have been easy to set this mass out to the curb. But no one said it would be easy. Someone else would then discover the bounty and with patience and diligence see its beauty and claim it as their own. Yeah, no one said it would be easy. Most things that are the biggest joys in life rarely are. 18304790-couple-moving-in-new-apartment-renovatingSteady, with hurdles and hiccups, move on to the next step. It is with great revelry that you take a step back and marvel at the beauty that you’ve created, together. Ok, so the drawer sticks a little and maybe you scratched the finish in a couple of places. But it’s in those places some of the best stories are born. Where one day, you will retell your story and laugh, “remember the time I nearly stabbed you with the wrench thingy?” “Oh, yeah, and then I dropped that bolt in your bra?” Oh yeah, good times. Good times indeed!

I’m pleased to report that no spouses were harmed or maimed in the making of this passage and we are now the proud owners of a beautiful Tarva dresser. {{and the top drawer sticks}}