Here we are, smack in the middle of the holiday season, and I’m waffling on how much good cheer I plan to spread. Too much will spread me too thin, and too little will make me feel crusty and crotchety. I’ve already told my kids that I don’t feel like buying a tree this year. “Jeez, mom, why not just cancel Christmas?” my daughter said.
See? There’s pressure everywhere to be jolly and generous, to shine brightly, to bake and shop and make polite chitchat. It’s the time of year for white elephants—the kind that come in wrapping paper or as 2-ton grievances that crush the joy out of family gatherings.
This poem was written by my friend Vince Reidsma, who has been penning rhymes for the Holland Sentinel every week for 27 years!
The title of my first book, ‘Hello Loved Ones,’ comes from an “endearment “ used casually by the father of the narrator when he comes home drunk after long unexplained absences. He tosses these words at his children, who are starved for his attention, before leaving them. The novel looks at the importance of love in action and questions whether love is determined by blood or by choice.
British author David Mitchell says, “Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” These words came to me as I was about to embark on a dream vacation to Paris, the city of light and love, with some of my favorite people in the world: my daughter and two dear family friends.
While I was excited to share the adventure with them, I knew the beauty of the trip would be in the various and unique ways we each find enchantment. Of course I wanted to pose in front of the Eiffel Tower and float along the Seine, but more than that, I wanted to discover: How would my heart be changed?
Do you ever wonder why asking “How are you?” continues to be such a common greeting? It’s like opening a door to a shadowy room. You never know what will come out. You’ll learn about aches and pains, work stress, annoying family members, or sometimes just get slimed with general ennui.
And being the one asked is just as fraught. You want to be positive, but the urge to trot out your woes is so strong. Attentive ears can be hard to come by, and if you’re being honest….
It’s 5:23 a.m. on a Sunday and I am awake. I reach for my phone. There is no text from my 13-year-old son, who is in China, and my brain jumps straight to the conclusion that he must have gotten lost in a crowded Beijing market. In the pale light of dawn, this thought seems as plausible as any other.
In the space of 24 hours, my three children have been on three separate airplanes. My predominant summer anxiety has always been around how to keep them all busy. This summer they are suddenly off to see the world—my 15-year-old son to a camp in California, my 10-year-old daughter to visit family in New York, and my middle child with his father on the other side of the world. Having them in the air has me feeling ungrounded. To counteract my restlessness, I get up and go into practical mode. I text my ex-husband to make sure Boone has the hotel address in his pocket. I transfer a little money to Lincoln’s debit card for airport food. I text Genevieve a reminder to take her digestive supplements.
Judy Garland said it best: The dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.
But why is the word DARE in there? Shouldn’t dreaming be easy?
It used to be, when we were kids. I was reminded of that this weekend as I drove my daughter 7 hours across Michigan to a performing arts camp. At the tender age of 10, she is one of those lucky souls who already has a dream that lifts and dazzles and moves her as tangibly as a pair of sky-high red heels. It’s inspiring to see, and hear, her in action; all the world (and house, and car) is her stage.
A few days ago, my friend Mark was feeling depressed and decided to stop at Trader Joe’s and buy himself some flowers. When he told the woman at the check-out why he needed flowers, she insisted on buying them for him.
Random act of kindness? Sure.
But it’s also a reminder that asking begins as an inner dialogue. Mark asked himself, “What do I need to feel more loved and supported today?”
I know I’ve entered the wilderness when my son says, “Dad laughs. You don’t.”
It’s true. So we are embarking on our first post-divorce vacation. I’ll have the kids for a solid week, on my own, and I’m scared. I’ve chosen a YMCA family camp in Wisconsin as our destination because at least there […]
A couple of weeks ago my neighbor helped me hang a bird feeder right outside my sun room window. This is where I spend most of my day, and I was excited about getting such a close view of the birds. I pictured sparrows and finches—dainty little things with soft colors and timid tweets. And for the first two weeks, that’s what I got.
Until yesterday, when this big black ominous-looking bird with an iridescent blue head came swooping in, landing so forcefully on the feeder that it thumped loudly against the house. He sat there for a long time, laying claim to the suet, and when he flew away it was only to the nearby tree, where he perched most of the day.
He made me uneasy, although I’m not sure why. He’s just a bird, eating at a bird feeder. I got what I wanted, but it didn’t look like I’d expected.