The Injury

The Injury

It wasn’t supposed to be permanent. The injury. The injury was supposed to heal, to mend, to become a thing distantly remembered and the scar discussed at a roundtable of drunkards a la Jaws. But it didn’t. Heal, that is. The injury didn’t heal.

People had rather gotten used to the young woman limping to and from town every few days. Always the same route: post office, library, market. Those who saw her insisted she ought to have a bicycle, a wagon, a horse, something they’d say as they watched her pass. No one ever asked if she wanted a lift to wherever she was going when she left town. No one. Not after the first week of watching her routine, nor after the first year. What could possibly be so intimidating about a young woman with a limp?

He watched her limping towards him. It would be 10 am on the dot when she arrived. Always was. Just as he was finishing up the post office boxes and preparing the outgoing mail. He’d taken to checking that his watch was accurate by her arrival, checking that the old clock kept on the wall didn’t need new batteries.

The first time she came he’d noticed the similarity in her gait, the hitch in her giddyup as he thought of it. So familiar, like watching himself approach, if you didn’t notice the long light dress or the long bundled hair, which he did. How could he not. His first thought was that he’d finally found her, the perfect woman, the one who’d understand. His second thought was that she was much too young to settle for the likes of him, not once she knew…though maybe she’d be just as relieved to find herself in him. No, he shook his head, dismissed the thought, she was too young.

She never noticed the weather much, a heavier coat or a lighter one, waterproof boots or trainers. Weather was nothing more than a fact, and could easily be ignored, her life revolving as it did around supposition.

Suppose instead of going to the post office, the library, and the market, she went instead to a beach somewhere. Surely there’d be all the same necessaries, but perhaps with a better view. Not a beach though, her leg would stick out like…well, anyway. Perhaps a city, a major one, where the library would have multiple levels and ladders that rolled along walls. But no, that would all require more strength than she felt she had, despite walking the mile in and out of town every few days. No. She was where she belonged, even if she didn’t yet feel settled. Known.

And how was a body supposed to be known anyway when that body never made the necessary overtures.

Perhaps now that she was well and truly decided upon staying, perhaps now that a year had passed and her routine had settled, although who was she kidding, perhaps…

“I wonder if you know a good place to eat?” she asked.

He blinked twice, trying not to appear ruffled. This being the first personal question she’d ever asked him. Although what was so personal about it really? A place to eat. Not what deodorant he wore or which side of the bed he slept upon. Food. Simple. He blinked twice more in quick succession, and tried to reply without a stammer, not wanting to be taken as slow.

“The market there has take away items, if you’re in a hurry,” he knew she’d be heading out of town and on her way to wherever she went in an hours time, but realizing that perhaps he oughtn’t know her schedule or exactly where she went every time she came to town, he rushed ahead, “there’s also the little cafe round the corner there, a bit french if you like that sort of lighter lunch with a bit of wine?”

She smiled at his pronunciation of cafe as though it were a baby cow, a light lunch of veal, she pictured herself a fork in one hand, steak knife in the other, a big eyed snotty calf standing docilely before her.

This post was written as a thirty minute writing exercise, no editing, no stopping and was inspired from a writing prompt in Bryan Collins’ “Yes, You Can Write!” book available here.

Classical Music

Classical Music

I recently read the If I Stay and Where She Went books by Gayle Forman, which I thoroughly enjoyed. And because they were partly about a cellist, I retrieved the names of two cellists to lookup on my iMusic app and I’ve been playing them on occasion (luckily I like classical music to begin with).

There’s all the hype about classical music being good for your brain and studying, which is fantastic, but the thing about classical music, that I love, is how it makes you feel. Any music, really, has the ability to take what you’re already feeling and amplify it or even change it. Have you ever desperately needed to hear a specific song? Have you ever been sad and required sad music or switched it up for something happy to lift you up?

With any song or piece of music the opening notes can completely take us over, send us back in time to a well worn memory or completely gut us with the emotions it brings up. I love that some people see color when they hear music and while I’ve had that happen once, I’d love to have it happen again.

Generally I surround myself with silence when I can get it. With two kids and two dogs, four chickens and five cats, and a husband, there is rarely a moment of silence around here. I cherish the silence.

And yet…

The opening notes of Rachmaninov’s Theme of Paganini can transport me to the book shop where I worked for a year and had to play the same piano CD with this being one of the songs. Despite getting thoroughly sick of the CD, I love to hear the song now and remember how wonderful it was to be surrounded by books all day.

Just about anything by Bach sends me back to college whistling to myself as I biked through campus or walked the arboretum in a moment of stillness and decision making.

Brahm transports me to Budapest where I attended an orchestral concert that played over and over in my brain as I walked the bridges and riverways for days trying different random bits of wild game: bear (not a fan), boar (not bad), and venison (my favorite).

While all music transports us, part of why we love it, there’s something about the sounds of classical music without the interruption of words, the words that pull us out of what our brains and souls are doing as we listen to the music, that’s part of what makes classical music so essential.

In an attempt to get our kiddos to appreciate all forms of music we routinely mix up what we listen to in the car when running errands or driving long distances. They’re mostly exposed to music from the forties on but every now and again we slip them a classical album or a meditative suite. I won’t lie and say these are their favorites, but they also aren’t opposed.

Just now as I was listening to Yo-Yo Ma play cello my oldest came running to let it wash over him as well. The kids are alright.

This post was written as a thirty minute writing exercise, no editing, no stopping and was inspired from a writing prompt in Bryan Collins’ “Yes, You Can Write!” book available here.

The Photograph

Ivy Gordon Photographer

The colors in the photo are simply stunning. The vibrancy of the orange, how sheer on the mother and how thick and comforting on the child. They seem almost out of place until the same lines of orange are caught in the upper left on a skirt or sari hanging out to dry. The orange also seems an odd choice when paired with the purples of skirt underneath.

There’s more to this though. There always is.

This woman appears well off, her clothing isn’t frayed and there are bits of beadwork evident along the edges of her shawl, in a pattern on her skirt, even along the rim of her shoe. Yet the child with her, clearly with her seen gripping her shawl, appears half-naked, hair tussled in a way my own mother would never permit, “you look like a ragamuffin,” she’d say. So too the alleyway they’re walking down appears run down, although clean, large bits of plaster flaking away from the buildings, laundry left out to dry.

The juxtaposition is all quite striking.

The orange alone enough to draw the eye repeatedly.

The child’s jacket appears to be a fleece, warm and comforting on a chilly day, several sizes too large with the sleeves rolled up, the bottom sitting somewhere above the knee but below the seat. Exactly as my youngest’s jackets fit, handed down from his older brother. Despite this warmth above, the child wears nothing below, or at least nothing visible from behind. Beautiful bare toddler legs in sandals, a bracelet around the right ankle. No visible goose bumps, however, so clearly not uncomfortably attired.

My favorite part though, the way the adult and child are in step with one another, the way the child grips the adults shawl in a confident, claiming manner. I’m left to assume this is mother and child, that mother has something in her hands and is thus occupied, unable to hold hands. This gripping of clothing a reasonable alternative for them both, confirmation, yes, I am here.

I look at this picture, with it’s simple white matting and modern black metal frame, which doesn’t “go” in my home in any way, which stands out as an awkward choice, really, and I love it. I see motherhood and childhood and security and comfort and joy. I wonder if this is her first child, her last child, if what she’s holding in front of her out of my view is another baby or a sack of rice for dinner or a pregnant belly.

I didn’t choose this photo, but I would. It was gifted to me, and I’m grateful. I can look at all the separate elements in the photo and see nothing of note, nothing that would draw my attention or emotion a second time, until put together as it is. When looking at the photo as a whole, I see love.

To view all of Ivy Gordon’s incredible works, please visit her gallery and website.

This post was written as a thirty minute writing exercise, no editing, no stopping and was inspired from a writing prompt in Bryan Collins’ “Yes, You Can Write!” book available here.

Going Back

Going Back

They say you can never go back, but I had no choice. When my grandmother got sick there was no one to care for her. No one but me. So I went back.

My grandmother raised me when my parents died. They weren’t even together, like how much did God hate me to make that happen? My mom was on a regular weekly grocery shopping trip when a semi truck blew through a red light, crashed directly into the drivers side of her car, and killed her instantly. Everyone says at least it was a quick death. I don’t get the comfort in that at all. My dad was coming back from a business trip to some big city, I can’t even remember and don’t want to, the fight was perfect, the landing was stellar, by all accounts there was absolutely nothing notable about the flight, except that when it landed there was a dead body in one seat. Heart failure. And I always thought you had to have a heart for it to fail.

So my grandmother raised me for the remaining three years before I could legally emancipate myself early based on my ability and the fact that my grandmother was too old to be raising me, especially when her memory was failing and what she needed was someone to care for her. But I didn’t know that at the time. She hid it well. If she was even hiding it. Who knows? She seemed fine when I left a couple years ago.

I left at sixteen and started my career. Ha. It’s not work to throw paint around on a canvas and have everyone under the sun declare it a masterpiece because what they’re really seeing is your tragedy. At eighteen I’m more famous than that Warhol guy although I never really understood his “genius” either.

Eighteen and going back to figure out what to do with my grandma. How do you care for someone who doesn’t even remember you? It’s only been two years! How did things change so much, and why didn’t I notice?

I guess I should be grateful. I may not know how to care for her, but I have enough money that I can pay someone who does. Grateful. I should be grateful my mom went quickly and grateful my grandma won’t but that I can afford to care for her. This makes no sense. I’m supposed to be grateful for opposite things? What a racket.

It would probably have been better to pack her up and send her to me rather than going back to her. She wouldn’t know the difference anyway. I still don’t know why I didn’t do that. I did think about it. I’m not completely witless. But I didn’t. I came back to this place I swore I’d never come back to. I guess a part of me had to see if it changed.

It didn’t.

In books the characters are always going back and realizing how small everything is when it all looms so large in their memories. What a crock.

Everything is exactly as I left it. Small town, small house, small minds. But I supposed I’m meant to be grateful for that too. Whatever.

This post was written as a thirty minute writing exercise, no editing, no stopping and was inspired from a writing prompt in Bryan Collins’ “Yes, You Can Write!” book available here.
Please note that I’m well aware I am not using Bryan’s prompts as he intended, but because they are spurring the pieces, I’m giving credit where it’s due.



I’m not much for morbidity. Although I suppose some would argue that planning for you death isn’t morbid but smart, forward thinking, another part of the circle of life we all must deal with.

My prompt today, care of Bryan Collins’ Yes, You Can Write!, is to write my epitaph.

No, thank you.

It does bring to mind, however, a book I recently finished that was above and beyond my expectations. I don’t normally read fantasy or young adult books, even though I love them. But this one was recommended to me by several different people multiple times, so I read it.

Gilded by Marissa Meyer.

And as soon as I finished it I looked for the sequel…which won’t be released until November 8, 2022. I’m devastated, because I simply must know what happens next and I need to know now.

But why would I think of this book when tasked with writing my epitaph? And how to tell you why without a massive spoiling of the book? I suppose I can’t. So instead, if you’ve read the book, and you understand what I’m talking about, excellent, send me a note and we can geek-fan-out together. And if you haven’t read it, please do. Even if it’s not your typical read. Especially if it’s not your typical read. Then, please contact me and we can *squee* over it.

In the meantime, I need to write about something for thirty minutes as that’s my current self-imposed writing challenge, and then I need to make lunch for my kiddos, and then do dishes, and then I need to finish the kombucha process so I can bottle again in five days, and then I need to do some one-on-one time with each of them before we rush off to the rest of our day.

An epitaph.

Nope. Can’t do it.

How about this, how about what I hope people remember about me when I’m gone?

  • I love to laugh and be the reason others laugh
  • I love to read and will read anything if I forget to bring something to read and the time presents itself
  • I love to volunteer especially when it comes to anything to do with children or animals
  • I was a floozie (okay, not an actual hooker, but a pseudo-actress in my previous towns annual production of the Melodrama)…and it terrified me to get on stage each and every time, it never got easier
  • I want to write something that makes someone feel something true
  • I went to college because I felt I had no other option and it was four years of exquisite torture but I also did some things I likely would never have been able to do otherwise, so I wouldn’t change it but I also wouldn’t do it again…like being a kid, why do people say it’s the best time and that they wish they were young again? No you don’t you big liar, being a kid is hard! Everyone makes your decisions for you and you’re completely overwhelmed by emotion at all times…but I digress
  • I love to hike and mountain bike and kayak, I loved to snowboard even though I was terrible and don’t know if I’d still love it as it’s been at least twenty years since I’ve done it
  • I say I love dogs and hate cats, but I actually love all animals and the five barn cats on our property have been known to appear sleepily purring in my lap on occasion
  • The most important thing, perhaps more important that anything else, I love my family. My family is everything. I would literally do anything for them. I love them fiercely and fully and without end

That’s as close as we’re going to get to an epitaph. And if there’s one thing I’d want my family to know, the world to know, when I pass it’s that my family was my world. I wanted them with every molecule of my being at every moment they were mine and before, and I’ll still be loving them with everything I have after.

This post was written as a thirty minute writing exercise, no editing, no stopping and was inspired from a writing prompt in Bryan Collins’ “Yes, You Can Write!” book available here.


Water off a Ducks back

Before having kids myself, I always swore I’d never tell my kids “no.” Unless it was an emergency. I believe it’s the Dine (Navajo) who raise their children without using the word “no.” I’m thoroughly enchanted by the idea, and sadly haven’t been up to it myself. Despite my best intentions I hear myself saying “no” all the time.

“No, you can’t use the butcher knife yet, wait until you’re older.”

“No, you can’t pummel your baby brother even if he hit you first.”

“No, you can’t jump on the couch, don’t you remember going to the emergency room the last time you jumped on it?”

I could go on.

There are multiple problems with no: it creates disappointment, it becomes easy to use and next thing you know you’re using for everything, it stops being heard because it’s overused. The thing to do, is not say “no.” Easier said than done.

Perhaps a parents main job is to be their childs first source of disappointment so the child can learn how to deal with it.

That’s a depressing thought.

And yet, I know I’m constantly disappointing my kids.

“No, we can’t go to the river right now, it’s time for bath, books, bed.”

“No, we can’t have ice cream, you’ve already had too much sugar and you’re bouncing off the walls.”

“No, we can’t stay up late and watch a movie because we have to get up early tomorrow.”

I don’t mean to be a stick in the mud, but sometimes being a parent means parenting. Of course I want to stay up late and watch a movie with my kids, but not tonight or they won’t get enough sleep and then our event tomorrow will be awful for everyone. It still feels crappy to say no, even when it’s the right thing to do.

I remember growing up and playing basketball with my dad. He’d tell me the rules, we’d play, and as soon as I scored a point, the rules would change. It was confusing and frustrating and disappointing. Much like being told no. Now looking back I wonder, were the rules really changing or was he trying to introduce me to the next thing I needed to know in an effort not to overwhelm me with all the things I’d need to know? I’d like to believe the latter, but…

I grew up in a time where kids went to school, were expected to get A’s across the board, and then went to college. There were no other options even presented. This was the path. I gobbled it up. And then in high school I had a teacher who was even more demanding than my mother, a teacher who had me quite literally breaking out in hives from stress. I worked my ass off for that teachers approval.

One day I’d turned in an extra credit project and was summoned to her room shortly after. She accused me of cheating. I was devastated. I’d never cheated in my life, not even in my math, my worst subject, I certainly wouldn’t cheat in English, my best.

There’s something about that day. I haven’t quite worked it out yet. But it was the beginning of the end for me. I lost so much of my fight then, so much of my confidence, my trust in my ability to do what I set out to do. From that point on when anyone told me I couldn’t do something I believed them.

The thing about disappointment is, it’s everywhere. You’ve got to know how to deal with it. You’ve got to be a duck and let it roll off your back like water.

That’s what I’m trying to teach my kids when I have to say no.

No just means not right now, not no always and forever.

It can be tough to get that across.

I never want them to stop asking just because I said no this one time…well, that’s not entirely true, I mean, I absolutely want them to stop asking now, because I’ve already said no, but I do want them to ask again another day. So how to get that across? How to disappoint for the moment and not forever.

I haven’t figured it out yet.

This post was written as a thirty minute writing exercise, no editing, no stopping and was inspired from a writing prompt in Bryan Collins’ “Yes, You Can Write!” book available here.



Did you have a childhood hero? I can’t remember that I ever had one, at least, not in the way most people think of childhood heroes: Wonder Woman, firemen, a sports star. I did have Wonder Woman underoos, of course, but I don’t ever remember worshiping a character or a profession or anything. The closest I had was my mom. Still is.

As a divorced single mom, my mom did her best to move us to the areas with the best schools, even if it meant she had a longer commute to work. She did her best, when we were very poor, to ensure I didn’t know we were. There were a lot of handmade, homemade holiday decorations, and I always thought that was part of the fun. She made us a Christmas Tree out of cardboard one year, I thought it was beautiful.

Growing up she’d bring home work for herself and for me. Looking back it was just busy work I couldn’t screw up but made me feel like I was helping when really, I suspect, it was giving her time to get the real work done. Then we’d clean the house to the Pointer Sisters or Tina Turner or Billy Joel. I can’t remember these cleaning sessions except for jumping around the house with a rag screaming “Jump! for my love!”

I have a strong work ethic, a desire to get everything done on time or ahead of time, on budget or ahead of budget and this is all because of my mom.

She also instilled an incredible love of books in me, something I try desperately to instill in my own children. We’d take weekly trips to the library where I could check out as many books as I could carry. And there’d be the occasional trip to the used book store where I could buy as many books as I could carry. Just the thought of these events makes me swoon.

My boys and I go to the library every week. I encourage them to take was many books as we can carry together. When we go to a used book store or a garage sale or Scholastic Book Fair, the rules are the same: how many can we carry? This is the greatest legacy I can leave them.

I wonder who my boys’ heroes are. I haven’t thought to ask. Maybe I will.

Equally important, who were my moms heroes? Who are her heroes now? Where did her love of reading come from? Is the legacy I’m passing down one she started or was it gifted to her?

If asked who my hero is now, I’d still say my mom.

As a parent myself now, I know exactly how much energy and drive and thought it takes to be a parent, just how much of myself is drained every day even as it’s refilled by the same. I can’t imagine doing this alone.

How did she have the energy to clean the house after a week of working and caring for me, making sure I did my homework each night, that I had my clothes for the next day picked out a ready to go? How did she have an ounce of creativity left at the end of the day to make decorations with me when she knew she was also responsible for all the other things: presents (where applicable), magic, ideas.

Not all heroes where masks and capes, some carry craft supplies and ask how many books you can carry.

This post was written as a thirty minute writing exercise, no editing, no stopping and was inspired from a writing prompt in Bryan Collins’ “Yes, You Can Write!” book available here.



I suppose everything has a beginning and an end, even things we never expect to end, like love, the Star Wars empire, a lifelong friendship that turns out not to be so lifelong after all.

Growing up I had a best friend I almost never saw. We’d met when we were on vacation with our families and it was instantaneous best friends at first sight. The sort of thing that never happens in real life, but did. We didn’t live too far away from one another, a three hour drive, but neither of us drove at the time. Our parents picked up the slack and we’d get to visit once a year. The rest of the time we wrote. This was before text or email. So we wrote letters. Gloriously long, epic letters. Full of all the things: troubles with siblings and school and partners we didn’t have.

At some point our friendship migrated to all the technological things: emails, texts, FaceBook. We somehow managed to remain best friends for nearly thirty years despite only seeing each other in person a literal handful of times. We stayed friends even though our lives were completely different: she had a great job when I was freshly back from a stint in Europe with no idea what to do next, she settled down and started a family when I was jealously looking on and nowhere near ready, she moved out of state when I was ending a major relationship I’d never thought I’d leave, she was getting a divorce when I’d just gotten married and was gearing up for a major move out of state. We never seemed to be in sync yet remained best friends. And then we weren’t.

It was my fault. I screwed up.

That divorce she was going through was intense, not that any divorce isn’t, and she needed me.

I had a breastfeeding baby that had never had a bottle, a house I was trying to fix up to sell, a toddler that I needed to keep out of my husbands way while he renovated the house and I packed, and through it all we were also trying to figure out just where we were going to go.

In books and movies I would have dropped everything and run to be with her. For at least a weekend. But this was real life.

I had no frozen breastmilk to leave my baby behind, and didn’t know how I’d bring a baby with me and be able to emotionally and mentally be there for her. I had a deadline on renovating/selling the house and I wasn’t even packed yet, I couldn’t leave my husband with two kids and a house to pack up/renovate, not even for a weekend, we didn’t have the time. And I didn’t know how to explain all of this to her and not sound like I was making excuses. So I didn’t.

I didn’t explain it.

I failed her. I said I couldn’t go to her when she needed me. I was a terrible friend.

Even now, roughly three years later, I don’t see how I could have done anything differently. I’m sure there’s something, but I don’t see it.

I tried texting, calling, emailing. I never heard back. I tried writing letters the old fashioned way. No response. At one point, I wrote a letter shouldering all the blame, as I should, with no excuses, cause none would have sufficed, and threw myself at her mercy. I don’t know if she’s ever forgiven me.

Despite knowing no other way I could have handled it, I don’t know if I’ve forgiven myself.

I’d like to think I’ve learned something, but that’s just wishful thinking. I know that if she needed me now, I’d be there on the next flight. If she needed me now, it’d be a whole different thing though. Now I’m settled in my home, my kids are older and don’t physically need me here to survive, we’re on no kind of deadline for anything except maybe getting to karate practice on time. But I’m sure she doesn’t need me now. In fact, I don’t think she needed me then, she’s tough, but I still wish I could have been there. She has some really close girlfriends and I’m sure than at least one, if not several, were there for her. I wish I had been too.

Our lives were never in sync, it really shouldn’t feel like such a loss, but it really is. It’s no less of a loss knowing I caused it. Perhaps it shouldn’t be such a surprise that two people who found best friendship at first sight could also dissolve that friendship in a moment. Maybe there wasn’t as much there holding us together as I thought. Maybe I took her friendship too much for granted. Or maybe she just recognized that the distance between us had become extreme, not just in mileage but in who we were. Maybe two people who were always so out of sync couldn’t continue a friendship based on the past.

None of that, though true, makes the loss easier to bear.

This post was written as a thirty minute writing exercise, no editing, no stopping and was inspired from a writing prompt in Bryan Collins’ “Yes, You Can Write!” book available here.



My father was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s when I was about fifteen years old. Then my stepfather had a similar issue caused by plaque buildup short circuiting his brain when I was around thirty. Watching them both deteriorate was beyond intense, exhausting, depressing, sad, frustrating.

My obsession with my own memory began early, obviously. I cling desperately to the oft-heard advice: Losing your keys doesn’t signify a problem, it’s forgetting what your keys are for.

That book, Still Alice by Lisa Genova, left me a soggy mess.

Do you ever think on a memory and wonder how much of it is real? How much of that memory is true and factual, how much is your mind adding or removing, how much is pieced together from other peoples memories of it, or a picture?

My kids will learn something in the morning and then while sitting around the dinner table if their father asks them what they learned today they’ll give a blank stare. Prompts from me with “what was the word/color/number/etc” seem to have no effect. I know they’re retaining the info or they wouldn’t go from knowing all their letters to knowing the letters sounds, or from knowing the sounds to paying an animal alphabet game, etc. So where is all that stuff stored?

My kids can recall an event I’d completely forgotten about. Sometimes in their telling I’ll remember, sometimes not. Are these lost keys or not knowing what the keys are for?

It’s been ages since I’ve done any sort of website work, and even then it was never on a professional level. Today I find myself thrown back into it…I’m lost. Not only has the hosting platform upgraded since last I saw it, but things were done to it that I was never involved in and don’t know how to fix. It’s easy to spiral into panic at how much I’ve forgotten and I’m forcing myself to breathe, recognize that I’ve not forgotten this, it’s all brand new.

We may or may not have gotten COVID, hard to tell as the tests are inaccurate if they’re even available. A long-term effect of COVID can be brain fog. Brain fog is also an effect of pregnancy, insomnia, stress. Have I lost the keys or forgotten what they’re for?

I’ve heard the story of riding my tricycle into the pool so many times I’m convinced it’s a memory.

My friend swears she remembers things from near-birth.

I’ll sometimes meet someone and know in my gut I’ve met them before, even when it’s not possible, even when they agree it’s our first meeting…my name makes it pretty easy to know if you’ve met me or heard of me and I’m sure I can trust these other peoples memories better than my own; if they say we haven’t met, we haven’t.

I read a book the other day that mentioned the round ligaments of a womans body stretching during pregnancy. I’d completely forgotten about this. I never wanted to forget about it. My first pregnancy was magical because it was so unexpected, I savored everything even the unsavory. Like round ligaments stretching.

I have no answers, no advice, no great truths. I keep a journal and have since I was a child. I keep this website as I attempt to figure out my future. I keep photos in albums on FaceBook for my boys. I try my best not to lose my keys and live in fear of forgetting what they’re for.

This post was written as a thirty minute writing exercise, no editing, no stopping and was inspired from a writing prompt in Bryan Collins’ “Yes, You Can Write!” book available here.



When we moved to Montana, our priorities were getting the house cleaned up, fixed up, livable, and chopping wood. We moved mid-September and in some places that gives you less than a month til the snow starts. Luckily we’d have much more time, but you never know in Montana. At any rate, the majority of my days were spent cleaning the house while my evenings were spent splitting and stacking wood. The goal was to be ready for the snow, ready for the cold, ready to be spending the majority of each day inside.

We’d been staking wood for weeks and even hired a couple teenage boys to come cut/stack wood for us. The wood in the crib was slowly growing and when we got to three chords, which ought to have been enough to make me feel relieved and close to ready, I was still anxious.

And then there was a library book sale.

Our library has a book sale roughly two to four times a year. The book sales are fabulous and you have to get there right when they start if you really want a chance at all the good stuff. When we go early I can leave with four enormous bursting bags of books, but when I go late I’m lucky to fill a single bag.

At that first book sale we were lucky. We arrived early and filled four bags to bursting. We got home and filled the one and only book shelf we had at the time. Filled it completely. And I breathed deeply. I relaxed. I was ready for winter.


There are things to worry about that are worthwhile, or perhaps not, and things that will never make sense to worry over. And yet…

I’m currently kept awake at night by the thought that I’ll never be able to do right by my children if I continue homeschooling them. My oldest is so entirely like me that we butt heads. I understand exactly where he’s coming from and haven’t yet worked a way to get around the obstacle. It ought to be easy since we think so much alike and feel things so intensely. Instead we’re both ready to cry at the end of a session that ought to have taken ten minutes but took nearly an hour. I find myself wondering if he has a learning disability, if maybe he really ought to be in school instead as maybe he’d learn better with someone else, if I can just get him to read and then the world will be his oyster and the struggle can cease.

We spent the morning going over the worksheets from his Outschool class where he learned a few sight words: I, and, the. Words that populate books so completely that just being able to spot them allows you to read nearly half the book. He was so frustrated. So I asked him to go grab a book, any book, off his bookshelf and bring it over. He chose The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen (an excellent book and writer and illustrator and we own most of his creations and love them all). Anyway, as I’m reading the book aloud I stress the words I, and, the each time they appear. It sounds something like this: “‘There’s a python in the pantry!’ It went on and on and on…”

Rather than feel excited about the fact that these three tiny words were in near constant use and that any minute he’d be able to read the book on his own, he was frustrated. “Can’t you just read it regular, mom?”


The worst part? After an hour with my child, both of us miserable, he asks for more time with me doing “something else” because I haven’t spent any time with him today and I spent “all (my) time helping (his brother).”

His brother got me for 15 minutes.

His brother takes after his father. There’s no butting of heads or overwhelming emotions causing us friction. We can smoothly and easily pick a topic, like today’s numbers one and two, and get through it efficiently…he’s also only three years old.

The struggle to get from where you are, to the place you want to be…it never goes away. It exists always. It consumes your entire day, depletes all your energy, sometimes requires outside assistance to obtain. And sometimes the struggle isn’t even about what we think it is.

Do I need five chords of wood to get through the winter or a full bookshelf of unread books?


Do I need to help my kids learn to read and write and do math or can/should I send them to school?


The struggle in these scenarios isn’t about wood, books, teaching, learning, reading, or math. The struggle is emotion. Emotion will never go away. Learning to deal with emotions, have them, ride them, move on from them, remain outside their control…that’s the struggle. It’s difficult to see my struggle reflected back to me by my child. And it’s wonderful to see the times where he doesn’t struggle with the emotions, where I can see reflected back to me the times I’ve let the struggle go, too.

This post was written as a thirty minute writing exercise, no editing, no stopping and was inspired from a writing prompt in Bryan Collins’ “Yes, You Can Write!” book available here.