“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.” ― Emily Dickinson

My heart is healing wounds born in childhood. It’s a lifetime process because often the work of healing is unwittingly avoided. That work requires too much growth for some days. Growing pains are real. This pang comes when I sit in the depth of a wound, when I sit, listen, and give comforting words I so needed to hear as a child. The pain comes from reminders of the void’s original point of entry. This is how I know burying pain to get rid of it, is not possible. Ignoring old wrongs in hopes of moving on is not possible for me. This is how I can see that Forgiveness, is quite magical in healing pain.


I am still working about 15-20 hours a week as an occupational therapist assistant at a few different skilled nursing facilities (aka: SNF or nursing home). This has been my life for the past year. I work only during M&B’s school hours so that they don’t need after school care from anyone else (expensive! and they prefer to be home with me, a feeling that is mutual). School, by the way, is going well for them – nothing has alerted me to any issues, emotional, mental, developmental, or otherwise. I’m looking into middle schools for Max (holy shit) and am leaning towards our local State College of Florida Collegiate School. Our second choice is Manatee School of the Arts. We’ll see what happens.

On the days I’m not working, I’m planning/cooking meals, plowing through a To Do List of Responsibilities, taking care of home and dog, tending to my hobbies (writing, watching TV, and going on long walks), attending therapy, grocery shopping, having lunch with Max or Bella, and occasionally cleaning. What a life! Not a day goes by that I am not acutely aware of how good this life is. Often, I have to cope with anxiety related to that feeling of… any_day_now the other shoe is gonna drop and my life will be terrible.


Defining, A Good Life, or, A Successful Life, is different for everyone, defining it for yourself is half the battle. The definition is fluid, it changes to make room for Life. For me, it means simplicity in the day-to-day, being with my family, laughing often, crying freely, giving space for the full spectrum of emotions, having friends to love, continual learning, service to – loving – caring for others, having enough, being enough, and caring for myself. Getting to travel is a nice bonus but I would be happy even if it weren’t possible. Having an Adequate Income and Good Health certainly assists in experiencing feelings of ease and simplicity; while I don’t believe Joyfulness is contingent on these two privileges, quality of life can be impacted by their absence – people who deny this with willful ignorance have never struggled, experienced debilitating illness, or gone without.

Some predictability in life, I have learned, is quite lovely.

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.” ~ Paulo Coelho

A seemingly ordinary day is still filled with small and extraordinary moments.

First day of school for my kids, today. And I didn’t get a picture of them. Oh well. They will look the same tomorrow. Excitement filled our home this morning… Max and Bella got up and ready earlier than what I’m use to seeing.

On our way to school, Bella said to me in the sweetest way, “Oh, you don’t have to work today? You can have lunch with me!” I laughed and retorted, “Ha! I don’t think so. I want to enjoy my day, Bella… alone.”

Ass-shat mommy moment right there. I didn’t mean for it to come out LIKE THAT. But it did and I felt horrible. Her frown was so instant my heart crushed and a funnel of guilt cramped my eyes. In the moment I heard those words, a Freudian slip of the mind for sure, I played it off by winking at her with a smile. She knows me. We have conversations about mommy’s need for solitude – she shares that need. She smiled back and we talked about something else, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

After returning home, I went for an hour walk. I discovered that Pandora is available as an App for my cell phone which is very convenient. When I’m in a state of melancholy or depression, I prefer silence. On this day, I wanted some hip hop to bee-bop along to through my neighborhood. I’ve become quite the lover of walking (with and without music). Playing a role in rehabilitating adults – whose walking gets impaired by the aging process, illness, or injury – has increased my appreciation for this particular human ability that I use to take for granted.

I ended up meeting BellaGrace during her lunch. She was super surprised and joyful to see me as I too was feeling happy to see her. Being around her and Max is (more often than not) easy, relaxing, and hella amusing. They are funny, good spirited, and neat-0 humans. I’m honored to witness them growing into adults. I feel pretty fucking lucky.

The rest of my day was on the duller side. I went to Target to pick up some school supplies and a frozen sodium-filled lunch for myself. Bad idea, I felt sick with a headache after eating it. I still need to make my work schedule for September and fill out a professional reference for a friend, but tabled those things for tomorrow so I could nurse the headache and continue a Bones marathon that is molding my ass to our sofa.

Eventually, I picked up the kids at their bus stop – not bothering to put on a bra and wearing shorts with a stain on the ass that looks like I leaked blood (it’s nail polish). The Bones marathon continued with Max (he shares my taste in TV shows), Bella did her own thang, and I barely pulled myself together enough to fix a meal for dinner. That frozen lunch fucked-up my energy for the latter part of the day.


When I think about this day, I will remember seeing Bella’s sensitivity on her face. I will remember embracing BellaGrace and her light-of-my-life smile as we walked together to the lunch room (I told her I changed my mind, that I missed her because my heart isn’t use to the new school schedule). I will remember the good moods my kids were in before and after school. I will remember the ease in which I laugh, love, and live with Hal and our children when we are all together. I gotta say, overall it was a good day.

“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
― William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents

“I don’t really want to become normal, average, standard. I want merely to gain in strength, in the courage to live out my life more fully, enjoy more, experience more. I want to develop even more original and more unconventional traits” ― Anaïs Nin

I took my little peeps out to lunch today. The last Friday before Max is a 5th grader and Bella a big 3rd grader. Time blows my fucking mind.

After lunch, I picked up my RA medication, and stopped by Publix for some groceries.

While checking out our food at Publix, the bag boy complimented one of my tattoos, showed me his (he has done this before – maybe he forgot), and asked me if I was ready for school to start again (Max and Bella were looking at the displayed toys and clothes in front of the registers). I said with a sigh, “No, not really. We’ve had a great Summer.”

Both the bag boy and the cashier expressed surprise, saying I’m the only person to answer this way, I’m the only one who wants more time with her kids. HA, I chuckled and repeated, We’ve had a good Summer.

And then they were curious and asked, “What about when they are teens (the bag boy shared his age, 17), my mom is so happy school is starting up again… you’ll prolly be happy when they aren’t around as teens?”

And I told them, I think I’ll like them when they are teens. I like my kids more and more every year because they are becoming more opinionated, interesting, and better conversationalist in their own right – all things I enjoy about adults. Parents like the baby years because those babies are cute and you control their motion, they don’t say much or have opinions of their own that you can’t override with authority. We all try to mold our children into the quality adults we fancy ourselves to be – I like my kids because they are individuals with their own ideas, personalities, characteristics, and opinions – and they don’t hesitate to share those with me.

The looks on their faces was priceless. The idea that an adult would like their teen child was beyond possibilities for them.

The conversation surprised me. I didn’t expect to share this with these two familiar strangers, but I did. I know relationships between teens and parents are complicated, as mine will certainly be with Max and Bella. But I believe I will like my kids, even when they push boundaries.

The flip side… that I also experience…

Often, I want to live alone, to not be responsible for anyone else’s needs but my own – in part because I have children that I am beholden to when I most want to be alone.

I hold two conflicting truths at once and it creates the discomfort of cognitive dissonance.

I enjoy my children, husband, and family life while at the same time believe I would enjoy living alone – a hypothesis at this point – but one that I believe to be true. And we all know how powerful belief is, even in the absence of facts.

I fantasize about living in a little apartment, in a hipster city, close to the mountains, a forest, and the ocean… an apartment with wooden floors, a vintage remodeled bathroom, modern kitchen, and double wooden French doors separating the bedroom, large enough for a king size bed and dresser, from a living room large enough for a modern pull out sofa, a vintage coffee table, and a very large flat screen hanging on the wall which is of-course, made of red brick. I fantasize. In my spare time. And in great detail, oh yes, there are more details.

The reality is, I wouldn’t give up what I have in my life right now to chase that fantasy. But the fantasy sounds great, doesn’t it? My kids are older in my fantasy, they sleep on the pull out sofa when they visit.

I know living alone is not the solution to my depression. No more than getting married and having children are solutions to depression.

After that interesting conversation in the checkout lane, I gathered my kids, headed home, and took a nap.

I’ve been depressed for the past week. Well, really the last three years. This depression comes and goes. I don’t know what is going on with me, I don’t know if I’ve always experienced depression and because I know more about it now I’m more aware of it or if this is something new. It feels new but familiar, like it’s not new. Maybe when I was younger I coped with it differently, by successfully suppressing it.

It’s not like I’m miserable all the time. I enjoy life, too. But I have this hollow feeling of gloom cloaking my heart once a month for about a week (sometimes two), a deep pang of melancholy.

I made an appointment with my therapist for next week. I think there is some internal landscape kinda muck going on and I need some objective professional insight on how to move through it, how to look at it, and how to let it go. I’m not ready to say I need medication, but I’m going to talk about it with her.

Hello, again, Depression.

Again with this depression.

It comes and goes. My calendar tells me it’s monthly. Guessing it’s part hormonal, part situational triggers, part inadequate nutrition. I’m starting to wonder if eating more whole foods would help. Certainly, it wouldn’t hurt.

I want to feel whole again. I want to stop feeling so… rejected. Depression makes me feel like everyone is rejecting me. I dwell on all the times I have been rejected and equate that to my worth. That is the story depression tells me. I don’t believe it, I DON’T BELIEVE IT, but I am having a hard time getting her claws out of my heart, off my frontal lobe. She digs in.

I’m using food, veggies – fruits – beans, to pry her hands from my conscious.


I told my kids this morning, I’m feeling depressed so I’ll be writing all day. Their response, “Okay.”

We talk about depression in my house. We talk about random moments of sadness. Just as we laugh, love, and experience joy.

If it weren’t for my kids… it would be harder, that’s for sure.

I’m not alone. I’m not the only person to ever experience this. Self-awareness helps. Knowing and believing there is a light at the end of the road is helpful.

We recently returned from our vacation in Stone Mountain, Georgia. As long as I ignore the political conservatism of the state’s people and focus on how beautiful the nature is, and how fun Atlanta is, Georgia is a pretty cool place. We were there for four nights.

My mom joined us for two of those nights, making the four hour drive from North Carolina to reunite with her grandchildren. My connection with her is civil, but not close. I care for my mom, but I don’t know that I love her like an adult daughter can love her momma. We are not close. We don’t share an emotional bond outside of our kinship. It pains me that we are not closer, that I cannot confide in her, that I cannot seek guidance on life from her, that I will not be her caretaker as she ages. But I also don’t want to dwell on it too much. It is what it is.

We went out to Stone Mountain at night as the park is open until midnight. We went in hopes of watching the Perseid meteor shower to no avail – too cloudy. It was still fun, we walked around the lighted areas, broke out in random runs across open fields, attempted to walk a dark trail that scared us too much, observed bugs, and laid on our backs in hopes of spotting the lighted streak of a meteor through the clouds.

We revisited the park during the day to walk the sunlit trails we were too scared to walk in darkness the night before. We also went to the zoo, aquarium, and natural history museum. I love that Hal, Max, and Bella love doing this stuff. Hal and I want more time in Georgia, alone, so we can explore more of the beautiful nature sights the state offers. It’s an ideal trip for us, only a 7-9 hour drive to the mountains. I’m planning a weekend getaway sans Max and Bella (sorry kids).


Just another day. Having Priorities. And Love, Of-Course Love.

The rain is falling while the sun gets cloaked by nimbostratus clouds that promise to stick around for the morning hours. It’s 8:44am, Hal just left for work. Max and Bella are still slumbering – Max in his own bed, BellaGrace in mine. I have the next four days off and a small To Do List. Grocery shopping, clean the bathroom, vacuüm, laundry – the usual domestic stuff that has a modest but meaningful role in my life.

With the kids… when the weather clears up (it’s been raining a lot here in Florida) I want to take them out to TreeUmph before the Summer is over. Some Geocaching is in order for the week, we get excited to hunt and find hidden treasures. Swimming at Grandpa and Lola’s house with the cousins.  Lounging around the house, watching movies together, wrestling, laughing, hugging each other, kissing those little faces. These are the activities that fill the days I’m not at work. These are the activities that give meaning to my life.

But they are not the only activities that give meaning to my life.

Priorities in life look like this (as long as there are no emergencies that require me to put friends and extended family before work – because if either of those people told me that they needed me, I’d call off work or forego a solo walk to be there for them).

#1 Family – #2 Solitude – #3 Work – #4 Friends – #5 Extended Family

Solitude is vital (as I’ve shared many times before). And now, work gives meaning to my life. I work part-time because work, no matter what, gets categorized as a matter of importance behind family and solitude. I am able to work part-time because my life partner has taken on full-time hours and values the work of parenting. We also have managed to keep our debt within a manageable range. I love that Hal has a strong sense of responsibility towards his family. We have set our family up so that one of us is the primary caretaker. Like most people, Hal would work part-time hours in a heartbeat if he could still get all the benefits that come with working full-time. Hal grew up with traditional family values and decided to hold on to the ones that benefit him and his family. He doesn’t have to, but he does. His dad worked full-time and his mom part-time so she could manage the home and kids. Fortunately, Hal contributes to domestic work and child rearing – the modern man that he is. I do most of the domestic stuff, but he helps when asked and sometimes when I don’t ask. We have a traditional family arrangement but with a few upgrades to that design.

I have to make time for family and solitude for the sake of my mental health. Friendship gets prioritized behind family, solitude, and work – but that is only because work requires me to give it scheduled time that I may otherwise give to friends. I wouldn’t call off work if I was already scheduled in order to hang out with a friend but I would schedule my work around spending time with a friend. In other words, because work contributes to the well-being of my family – which is priority #1 – I put work before socializing. But socializing is still a priority in life.

I place experiencing solitude before spending time with Hal because we live together and he knows that without solitude I’d be miserable. He doesn’t see it as I am putting solitude before him – we understand it as I’m able to give and love because I experience solitude.

“The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

I’m not sharing this to impress or disgust, I’m writing it for myself – writing organizes me. We all have our ways. Knowing my priorities in life has made a huge difference in how I choose to spend my time. Knowing my priorities prevents me from feeling like a leaf in the wind.

Love is an action word – telling my kids I love them but not doing anything to show them feels empty. Primarily, I give love by spending quality time with someone and accepting them as they are, as I accept myself as I am. Areas where I’m hard on myself, I am hard on others (self-acceptance helps me to love unconditionally but I am far from ideal in that practice – and that is okay, too.). I will also use touch to express kindness, affection, and love. I take this love everywhere with me, even into my working hours with patients and colleagues. Other ways to show love is by giving gifts, words of affirmation, and acts of service. (There are prolly more ways to show and receive love but I haven’t thought about it beyond the truths that I gleamed from the book in the link.)

How we give love mirrors what we need from others to know how loved we are. I am learning how to meet the needs of others who experience and give love differently than what I naturally give. I’m learning to listen to what the needs of my kids are instead of assuming I know what is best. I’m learning. Still. Forever.

I struggle the most with my husband because he is the human who I am closest too and we experience love differently – don’t we all? Being so close to him but still feeling an ocean between us is weird. We are two separate people – marriage did not make us one (that is a bullshit idea, IMO, by the way). Just because we have enough in common to be compatible for the long haul doesn’t mean I always know what is going on in his inner world and vice/versa. We are friends, we are not each other. Witnessing this distance is a strangeness that I also respect. Distance exists in the same space as closeness. Like giving birth. Those closest to me are with me but not in actuality able to reach being there. They are an ocean away while I’m by the shore feeling the waves crashing against my body or while I’m floating on my back relaxing, or while I’m struggling to not drown. Distance is also in closeness with another.

I can see the appeal of science fiction bringing two minds together as if you’re operating with one. I can see the poetic romanticism of two becoming one. But love is a sort of togetherness with separateness…

“We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart.” ― Pema Chödrön

Bella’s arm brushes mine as she’s moving the blanket to gently slide into bed next to me. Her warm body snuggles close to my heart and instinctively I turn the upper part of my arm into a pillow for her head. My girl is eight years old. This is our morning ritual. Max no longer “sneaks” into bed with us, as he puts it, “I’m a big kid now and can sleep in my own bed all night. Thankyouverymuch.”  My ten year old big kid. Max offers full-body warm hugs throughout the day, randomly, and sometimes he’ll say, “Mom, will you lay down and snuggle with me for five minutes?” Of course I will. I’m always looking for a reason to take a cat nap.

As the Summer nears August, Max, Bella, and I are sleeping in later and later. It’s nearing 9am, and I’m up having coffee alone as Hal has already left for work. M&B go to bed anywhere between 10:00-12am. Originally, Hal and I thought we’d keep them on a schedule for bedtime, assuring we’d get some adult time together to watch movies or do adult things. We’re so on top of it during the school year, kids are in bed by 9pm. Time is more micro-managed during the school year. And while we liked the idea of having the kids in bed by 10pm during the Summer months, neither of us wants to manage the task. Yeah, fuck that shit. WE need a break from routine. Summer rebels.

I realized at the beginning of July, that it worked for us to relax about bedtime. Hal is still able to play video games or write a review without interruptions. And if I want to watch a grown-up movie, I tell Max and Bella to stay in their rooms, “mommy is watching a grown-up movie.” And THEY DO IT. They stay in their room and do their own thing. It’s crazy! And I love it. But, most of the time I’m the first one in bed, the family tucking me in with long hugs and lots of kisses, walking out of the room and closing the door behind them so mama can rest in the darkness that lulls her to sleep.

Hal and I need more alone time, we both realize it. This is my first Summer working every weekend (with one or two days during the week). Right now I feel we are distant from one another, checking in emotionally when we get the chance, but not having those date nights alone is hard. The kids go to their grandparent’s or to a close friend’s house (Thank you, Corinna!) when we both work. Hal is home with them on the weekends. Our schedule is working for us but only because it’s temporary. Once school starts we will all experience a change in rhythm. I think one of the hardest tasks of becoming a parent is not loosing sight of yourself or of the person you partnered with.

Overall, Summer is moving along with ease. My days with Max and Bella are enjoyable. I can now say, my experience is that mothering gets easier in many ways as the kids grow. Lately, I’ve moved through the typical stressors of mothering two with a sense of humor and the knowledge that stressful moments will pass within minutes.  Because, oh yes, there are still those moments where I’m like WTF??? SHUT-UP KID. But yes, those moments are easier to cope with now and pass relatively quickly.  I’m pretty sure it’s part the kids have grown and part so have I.

I still go on solo daily walks when I have the day off from work. I leave home for anywhere between 1/2 hour to up to two hours just to move into the space of solitude. I need solitude. In solitude, I clear my head. In solitude, I think about everything or focus intensely on sorting out one thing. Solitude is when I let clinging stress go. Daily walks have become a part of who I am. I have intense gratitude for my friend, Shannon, for reintroducing me to the benefits of long walks (a subject I have to write more on but this post is long enough!).

The beauty I get to see while walking.

I also plan on writing more about what it’s like being an on-call (AKA: PRN) certified occupational therapist assistant. This is heart-work and I experience A LOT of various emotions during my work and have A LOT of thoughts about how our culture interacts with the aging process.

I plan on writing more about love and the various ways it shows up in my heart.

For now, au revoir.

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.” ― E.E. Cummings

Setting appropriate boundaries with people is notoriously the most difficult skill for me to fully master. I’m still working on it. Setting good boundaries requires listening to how I am feeling and honoring those feelings the moment they surface. That part is hard to consistently practice, honoring my feelings, but not impossible. Listening to how I feel has required slowing down to what sometimes is experienced as a snail’s pace, an _oh my gawd the world is passing me by and I need to get back on that train!_ snail’s pace

Allowing feelings to have an internal voice is getting easier at work, home, and with friendships. However, I notice the closer to home a feeling hits, the harder it is for me to give it the space to exist. And by closer to home, I mean a trigger to an original feeling that was hurtful in my youth, specifically the feelings of rejection or abandonment. I wonder if rejection and abandonment are somewhat easier to cope with when you are raised in a family with healthy emotional attachment and healthy boundaries?

My theory… I avoided feelings growing up. My home life as a young person was confusing, inconsistent, and emotionally unpredictable. I was rejected in a million little ways. I didn’t feel safe talking about feelings because the pain, confusion, and fear experienced was related to my primary parent. Eventually I stopped listening to my feelings to survive – TO MENTALLY SURVIVE. I went through life for a long time expressing what I thought about everything in order to avoid quieting my mind long enough to listen to how I was feeling.

“Whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.”
~ E.E. Cummings

It’s not easy for me to listen to how I feel, but it’s becoming easier. It’s becoming more of a daily act. It’s becoming more of a moment to moment act. My feelings are threading into every second and seeming less and less overwhelming. However, it’s still difficult to do the right thing for myself all of the time. It’s difficult for me to listen all of the time. Sometimes I try to ignore feelings, put them off until later, or take a lot of time to decide what the right thing to do really is because feelings can be hella confusing.

I’ve always been good at detecting and responding to the feelings of others. I’m hyper aware of the feelings of others. It’s part of learned co-dependency, it’s part of my survival mode. I had to learn at a very young age how to detect the mood of my primary parent so as to not ignite an attack. I can see other people’s underlying feelings with a kind of clarity that either moves or angers – I usually keep those insights to myself and I know my observations are not always accurate or welcomed.

I went from always responding and moving around the feelings of others to giving all the focus to myself. From one end of the spectrum to the other.

Now, I’m in this space where I want to honor my own feelings while doing the right thing. The right thing sometimes includes disappointing others and myself because ya can’t always get what you want.

I’m learning to let go of the ownership of other people’s feelings. I’m learning I no longer have to protect myself to survive the day to day. I live in a safe space. My home is filled with love, laughter, and joy (and currently, a coughing ten year old). It’s almost like another universe for this girl who grew up on planet Instability. It’s taking me some time to settle into this safe space, to know my place within it, to know how to honor it, and to learn how to thrive in it. I’m still learning.

Honoring my feelings and respecting the feelings of others while I move through what is right for me is a difficult balance to understand, but not impossible to actualize. It’s also a bit of a shock for me when those I love respect my boundaries. I used to take that as a sign, they don’t really give a shit, because if they cared they’d be upset and I would know how much they cared about my choice because of how upset they were – because that is what I grew up with – when you care you explode. I grew up with adults who didn’t know how to respect my boundaries, didn’t know how to handle anger, and didn’t honor feelings of self and others. I had one parent who was struggling with a few debilitating mental illnesses and one parent who was emotionally unavailable.

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
― Frida Kahlo

I’m not living in an unsafe space any longer but that is where my internal world was built. It has taken me years to deconstruct and reconstruct that landscape.

That history has shaped my life in many ways but does not presently define me or the future.

I’m an adult and I’ve managed to build a life with emotionally responsible and intelligent people surrounding me. Somehow I did okay with creating my life! Somehow the stuff I did to survive and protect myself REALLY WORKED.

“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
It’s always our self we find in the sea.” ~ E.E. Cummings

My husband has been standing by as I learn about myself, as I dismantle and restore my psyche, as I learn what is important to me, as I grow, as I struggle with my feelings. I’m grateful to him and his love. I don’t always understand how he loves me so much, but I’m happy he does. I often feel as if I don’t know how to love him the way he deserves to be loved. Working on it. It’s easier to love an idea than do the work of loving the person. Love, after all, is an action word.