Friday, December 28, 2012


Family is returning home. The gifts are being found places to belong in our house.  The Christmas decorations are being put away in the garage. Another year is coming to a close.

And still I have one gift to open.

It sits in a small box in a drawer of my desk. It's wrapped in shiny red paper and tied up with a bright green bow. I know what's inside because I wrapped it myself.  The gift tag says, "To Jo, From Yourself."  Inside, lovingly placed in a white box, is a single piece of pale pink paper with two simple words.

"Walk Away."

That is my gift to myself. Permission to walk away.

To walk away from friendships that aren't friendships.
To walk away from guilt trips, both the ones placed on me by others and the ones I place on myself.
To walk away from needless drama and chaos that doesn't actually affect me.
To walk away from the unloving expectations and the heartless words.
To walk away from making myself into someone I'm not so that I will be accepted by people I don't actually like.

Even just a slice of this permission is an amazing thing filled with great peace and happiness. I've tasted it.

I know.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Lissa struggled to breathe as the hand clenched tightly around her waist.  He always did squeeze too tight. The door opened, his grip loosened, and she tumbled into her cell. Jessie followed in after her. Lissa drew a deep breath, filling her lungs with air again, only turning when she'd heard the key click in the lock.

"Goodnight, my fairies," came the commanding voice.

Lissa and Jessie both curtsied, their wings fluttering lightly. "Goodnight sir," they chirped obediently.  And then the lights went out.

Jessie straightened her tunic as the door closed behind him. "Ugh," she exclaimed in disgust. "I swear, Lissa. His fingers get more and more intrusive every week. These girls aren't for the likes of him!" She patted her bosom protectively.

Lissa laughed softly. "Oh Jessie, he does not. Come on, we could have ended up with a lot worse owners than Mr Rastin. You've heard the horror stories of other fairies.  He's pretty nice to us, captivity aside."

"I guess. But, it's still captivity. Do you remember what it was like to fly anywhere we wanted?" Jessie wandered to the edge of the cage and looked longingly toward the small window in the room.

"Only a little.  It's been a long time."

Jessie was silent, but the sound of the cage's wire twisting around and around in its slot filled the room. "Lissa." She finally spoke. "Lissa, come here."

"What is it?"

"Lissa, this bar... it's loose. Really loose." Her eyes shone with excitement. "We could get out." With that, the bar popped out of its slot, leaving an opening just big enough for a petite fairy to squeeze through. Jessie tested its size, treading air just outside.  "Come on, Lissa... we can fly out that window right now and be free."

Lissa hesitated. "Jessie, we don't know what's out there. There could be werewolves or vampires or dragons.  And what if we starve? We don't even know how to find food, and Mr Rastin feeds us really well every day. And he provides us with clothes and beds and books and--"

"And a cage!" Jessie glared. "He keeps us in a cage!"

Lissa couldn't meet her gaze. "I'm sorry. I just... I can't."

Jessie turned toward the window. "Well, I'm going. I just can't stay locked up here anymore. I'm going."  She turned and looked back at her companion of so long. "Please come, Lissa. Please."

A tear rolled down Lissa's cheek. "I can't. I'm... I'm afraid."

"Suit yourself, I guess. I'll miss you."  She flew to the window, pushed it open, and was gone.


It had been 40 years since that night. Lissa sat on the couch of her fairy cage and looked out toward the window. She'd always wondered how her life would have been different if she'd gone with Jessie.

She'd always wondered what her life would have been like if she hadn't been afraid to fly.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Why oh why do some lessons seem so interminably hard to learn??

Our perceptions of the truth change.  But the truth doesn't.

Just because the truth is hard....
Just because the truth is difficult to accept...
Just because the truth is unpleasant...

It doesn't mean it's not the truth.

Just because I don't want it to be so...
Just because it hurts me...
Just because I want to run away from it...

It's still the truth.

I can hide from that.
I can try to bite it off in small pieces to make it more palatable.
I can pretend until the cows come home.

But the truth is still the truth and it won't ever stop being the truth.

And I'm just going to have to suck on that for awhile.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Rachel dropped the brush back into the bottle and blew on her nails. He would be here any minute.  Applying a layer of lipstick, she made a kissing face at her reflection in the mirror. Did she look okay? Something always seemed to go wrong.

She checked the window, but the street was still empty.  The clock said he would be here in five minutes or less. Five minutes or less.

Rachel eyed her reflection one more time.  Her hair was perfect. Her make-up was perfect. Her outfit was perfect. Everything was perfect this time. Nothing could go wrong this time.  She heard a motor and ran to the window.

His car stood in her driveway.  He climbed out and glanced up at her window. He was so handsome. Tall. Dark. And very Handsome. Rachel was so transfixed that she jumped when the doorbell rang.

She ran down the stairs and pulled open the door. "Hi Jacob," she greeted breathlessly, leaning against the door in what she hoped was an inviting pose.

Jacob nodded.  "Hi Rachel.  Good to see you... again."  He unbuttoned the bag in his arms and pulled out a box. "You guys having a party or something? You're sure ordering a lot of pizzas."

Rachel blinked. "What? Umm... yes.  Yes, a party. That's it." She smiled up at him. "Do you want to come in?"

Jacob shook his head. "Sorry, I have to work.  Pizza delivery, you know.  But I'll see you around, okay?"

Rachel gave him the money for the pizza and waved goodbye as he walked down the path to his car.  Closing the door behind her, she wandered into the kitchen and tossed the pizza onto the stack already delivered.  He said he'd see her around.

Picking up the phone, she pressed a few buttons and waited.

"Hi, Pizza Hut?  I'd like to order another pizza..."

Monday, November 12, 2012


You hurt me.

Or maybe I hurt you, too.  I don't know anymore.

I forgave you for that. I know I tried. I hope you forgave me too.

But when it came to trying again, when it came to putting myself at your mercy...

I held back. I couldn't give you that power.

I'd been hurt once.

That's not even all the way true.  I'd been hurt a lot of times.

I'm not sure you even cared.

I was afraid to trust you. I was afraid to be hurt.

Because, you see, the words you spoke and the things you did, they didn't match up.

I didn't know how to separate the truth from the lies anymore, and I wearied of trying.

I am not a very discerning person. I am often fooled, often hurt.

Some people call that gullible. Some people ridicule that and make me feel that believing people is a shortcoming.

Maybe it is. Maybe it's naivete to hope for and believe in the possibility of the good.

All I know is not being discerning means I'm wrong a lot.

Not being discerning means I hurt a lot.

And I was afraid of hurting again.

So I decided not to trust you.

That remains a decision filled with pain and doubt and sometimes regret.

The past can be loud.

And misleading. We don't always remember the truth, often just a twisted version of it.

But I decided.

And forward is the only direction left to go. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012


It happened about three years ago.

I was first mate on a merchant vessel, and we were cargoing fine linen from Italy to London.  Well, that isn't 100% honest.  We were shipping fine linen. But the real money was in the Italian wines we had stowed away in the belly of the ship to smuggle into England. Liquor taxes took the profit of sea travel right out of the equation!

It was my eighth run.

There was always a danger, once we got into English waters, of getting held up by the Customs officials. But, we'd all gotten pretty good at being convincing in our story. I could lie with the straightest of faces, and the Captain's young wife could make a man quickly forget whatever it was he was there to do with a toss of her head and a slipped button.  And she did, too.

The bigger danger, though, was Pirates.  Customs had to follow protocol.  Pirates could do whatever they damn well pleased.  A few slit throats meant nothing to them, and if you had cargo they wanted, they'd board you, slice you to pieces, and take off with your entire ship. Although, I suppose you wouldn't care all that much about the thievery if you were lying there dead.

So, it was with a bit of panic and dread that I woke up that night to hearing Billy, who was on lookout, cry out, "PIRATE SHIP!!" I shoved my legs into a pair of breeches and ran out of my cabin, still tugging on my boots.  I nearly knocked the captain down in my rush to get to the deck.

"Sorry, Captain," I said to him.

But, he just nodded at me.  He was a man of not many words.

We reached the side of the ship and looked behind us into the mist.  Sure enough, Billy was dead on right.  A dark ship slid behind us in the water, black flag at its mast.  I glanced up at our own sails and then behind us again, judging the speeds of the two vessels.

"We can't outrun that, Captain," I said.  But again, he only nodded. We watched as the pirate ship came alongside us, our swords drawn.  Just waiting.

Someone on the pirate ship threw an anchor over the side of their vessel, anchoring the two boats together.

"ARGH, Matey!" came a growl from across the way. "You have been caught by the dreaded Pirate Greenbeard!"

I raised an eyebrow and muttered to the captain, "Greenbeard? You ever hear of a Pirate Greenbeard?"

The captain shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.

The pirate's announcement continued. "We are the scourge of the Mediterranean! We've captured dozens, nay, HUNDREDS, of ships! Burned them to pieces!  Took their women! But we are in a fair mood on this night...  Simply pass over your cargo and we will let you pass!"

I looked to the captain. It was his ship. Finally, he spoke. "Nay! Come over and get it if you want it so badly!"

"Captain, is that wise?" I said under my breath. "They're pirates."

His eyes never left the pirate ship. "If I'm going to lose my life savings, and even my life, I'd like to look the man responsible in the eyes while he's doing it." the captain said quietly.

There was a long pause.

"If you don't comply, we will take your ship for ourselves!"

The captain called back. "Try it."

A crack sounded and we were suddenly overrun by Pirate Greenbeard and his... crew.

Not that I'd seen a lot of pirates, mind you, but these were the shortest pirates I'd ever seen.  I'm talking, four feet tall here.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarves tall.  I admit it.  I started to laugh. The thought that I'd been so scared of these pirates?  Hysterical.

The captain tried to hide it, but he was chuckling under his beard, too.  He bowed with a flourish, mirth still in his eyes. "Ah, welcome to my ship, Pirate Greenbeard. Please forgive me if I don't hand over my cargo at your say-so.  I was prepared to fight a real pirate to the death to protect my livelihood and the lives of my crew and wife.  But, somehow I don't think that's going to be necessary."  He gestured to a cabinboy. "But, I would be happy to have you all escorted back to your ship, with a bottle of wine for your trouble.  A gift of thanks to you for providing me with a much-needed laugh tonight."

Pirate Greenbeard frowned. "I'm afraid that won't be necessary."  He nodded to his first mate. "Gentlemen?"

I'm frankly embarrassed to tell you what happened next.  We were grown men. Sea-weathered. TALL grown men... with swords and daggers and cutlasses. They were... dwarves. Comically short. I don't know how it happened.  One second we were drawing our swords, the next they were stabbing at our legs. I'd never fought anyone who attacked that way.  Grown men can't reach that far down, I suppose. But it was amazingly effective.  Soon, we were all bloody from the thighs down... and...

Tied to the mast.

We watched helplessly as the pirates ran up and down from the deck into the hull, taking every bottle of our precious Italian wine. And as the pirate ship left us (alive, at least), they sang, "Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a pirate's life for me!"

A lone voice, maybe Pirate Greenbeard himself, started the cheer, and as the ship disappeared into the mist, I heard them all.

"Short people can do anything!!!"

Thursday, November 1, 2012



The bell sounded and the employees shuffled in.  The rustle of taffeta and tulle, silk and satin filled the air as the morning's staff settled into their chairs around the conference table for the morning meeting.

Also, the flurry of wings.

Percy Pixiebottom, an unfortunate name for such a distinguished fairy, stood at the front of the room, adjusted his tie and cleared his throat. "Good morning, folks!"

The group mumbled a return greeting, sleepily.

Percy tried again. "I said 'Good morning.'"

"Good morning, sir!" Jenny answered cheerily. Some of the others rolled their eyes. Jenny was always so perky.  Even for a fairy.

Percy clapped his hands together. "Alright, let's get started. Jack, an update on the children's division?"

"Mr Pixiebottom, things are going well." Jack, manager of the Children's Division, stood and adjusted his glasses. "Wishes have been coming in at a normal pace, our call completion rate is at an all-time high, and morale is up. We've had a somewhat higher-than-normal request surge for puppies and candy, so we're going to need to find somewhere in the budget to allow for that. Other than that, we've had the usual request list of video games and cell phones. But, so far, we're on target to hit all of our quotas."

"Thanks, Jack.  Good work as always."

"Video games and cell phones?" A creaky voice came from the back of the room.  Someone groaned.  This speech came every week. Charles Dustinem struggled to his feet, his wings struggling to help him up in his old age. "Back in my day, children didn't wish for video games and cell phones. Back in my day, we stocked swords and shields and arrows. Back in my day--"

Percy interrupted. "Thank you, Mr Dustinem. Of course, we all miss those days. But, unfortunately, even the Fairy Wishes Division must advance with the times. And if the children of the world are wishing for Xboxes and iPhones, well, we must go along with it." He scanned the room for the next update. "Jenny? How are things in the Mother Division?"

Jenny smiled brightly. "Oh, things are wonderful, sir! Wishes are coming in faster than you can beat your wings! Of course, our wishes aren't as easy to grant as puppies and candy."

Jack mimicked her behind her back. Jenny never did give the Children's Division enough credit.

She continued, "We have just brokered a deal with Starbucks to make sure that all harried mothers get a little extra syrup and caffeine in their lattes at no additional charge, and we're very excited about that.  We've perfected a spell to lull children to sleep at naptime, and we're working on a collaboration with the Teenager Division to trade a dip in adolescent surliness for unpunished curfew violations."

Percy nodded. "Excellent.  Dads Division update, Pete?"

Suddenly, the door opened, and a young fairy boy came hurtling into the meeting. "Mr Pixiebottom! Mr Pixie bottom!"

Percy frowned. "Michael, is it? You realize you are interrupting the Managers' meeting? Can't this wait?"

Michael wrung his hands. "I know, sir. I'm very sorry. But I needed to tell you that... well...  You see, I was flying a load of dandelion seeds to the factory. You know the ones that people can blow and get wishes?  They were to be distributed according to plan to meadows around Europe next month. But..."


"I dropped it."

A communal intake of breath sounded throughout the room. Percy spoke carefully. "You dropped it.  Where did you drop it?"

Michael winced. "Along Sycamore Street in Allanstown." He kicked his feet. "Half a block from the new elementary school."

A groan filled the room and Jack hustled to the door. "I'm on it, Mr Pixiebottom.  Although I don't know where I'm going to find the extra fairy staff at this time of year." He stopped to fix young Michael with a look of disgust. "Nice going, Michael. Do you know how much work you just made for my team??"

As the fairies all shuffled out to help take up the slack, Jenny paused at the door to pat Michael on the shoulder.

He looked up miserably. "I'm sorry, Mom. I'm never going to make it as a fairy."

"It's alright, dear. Some of the best fairies were the worst apprentices. You should have seen the messes Jack made when he was your age. Once, he got puppies and elephants mixed up.  You should have seen the look on the mother's face when her son won an elephant at the circus. Keep trying, darling. Look on the bright side.  You can only get better."

Thursday, October 25, 2012


"My darling Michael,

I miss you. It's been 48 days since I last laid eyes on you, and I miss you so much."

The pen scratched across the paper as she wrote at the desk in the morning light.

"They still haven't told me why I'm here.  I don't know what I did. What law have I broken that they keep me locked up? Oh, they're very nice about it. Sickeningly nice, always asking if I'm comfortable, always asking if I need anything.  But, they never understand that there are only two things I really need.  I need to know why they're keeping me a prisoner here.  And I need to see you.  They never let me see you. They won't even tell me where you are, how you are.

Always lies. Always excuses.

I know it's been 48 days.  I count every tick on the wall before I sit up in the morning.

Do you remember the night we snuck out and watched the stars come out above town?  It was so beautiful. I can still feel how big your hand felt around mine, the strength of your arms around me as we took in the millions of tiny lights in the sky.  My mother nearly killed me when you finally took me back home and she was waiting up.  But, it was worth every moment of consequence, Michael.  Every moment.  I knew that night I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you.  I knew.  Did you know too?

I just didn't know it would be so short.  Did I tell you that I miss you?

How I wish you would come and get me out of here. The security here is insane.  I've tried every way I can think of to escape, but they always find me. They always bring me back. I don't even know if you know where I am. Do you get these letters?

I get through every day by thinking of you, hoping you're alright, hoping you'll take me out of here.  I love you, darling.

Ever Yours,

She folded the letter and slid it into an already-addressed envelope, licking it shut. Carefully tiptoeing to the door, she cracked it just an inch and peeked out. A man was sitting on a bench outside.

"Psst.  Psst!" she hissed.

He looked up and smiled. "Good afternoon, madam."

"Shhh," she whispered, glancing nervously at the security desk down the hall. "They'll hear you. Sir, could I trouble you once more to slide this into a mailbox on your way home? It's very important. Please don't let them know."

He put his hand on hers and looked seriously into her eyes. "Of course.  It will be our secret."

Relief flooded through her. "Thank you, you're so very kind.  I don't know how I'll ever be able to repay you.  Maybe someday when I get out of here...." she trailed off.

His smile faded a little, but he nodded. "Maybe someday."

Beth smiled and shut the door, retreating to a windowseat in her room and a book.  Occasionally, she stopped reading to glance out the window.  She watched the man walk to his car, turning to wave up at her, before getting in and driving away from the compound.


He passed a mailbox on his way back to work, but he didn't stop to drop off the letter.  Instead, he pushed open the door of his building and made his way up to his office on the seventh floor.  He nodded to his secretary, grabbing his messages on the way.

Dropping into his office chair, he pulled the letter from his pocket and broke the seal.  The paper was violet and smelled of roses.

"My darling Michael," he read. "I miss you..."

The phone rang, interrupting the letter.  Reaching for the TALK button, he answered, "This is Michael. How can I help you?"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


It was a friendship that had begun to sour.  Actually, it was past the souring point, but we were still in the phase where you dread the drama of the actual "break-up" enough that you're still friends on social media and you're still hovering in each other's circles.  Not because you're still a part of each other's lives... but you just don't want to deal with the trauma that will ensue when you hit the "unfriend" button. And as long as you don't, there's still that possibility of reconciliation.

There was a day that I'd said something.  Maybe I hadn't worded it right. Maybe I hadn't taken the time to read it with other tones than the one I wrote in before I hit Send. Suffice it to say that she heard it much differently than I said it.  We're talking MILES differently here.  The venomously responsive status of her own was the moment I knew. It was the moment where I knew that there was so much anger harbored there that she was no longer able to see anything I said through anything but a haze of bitterness and hatred. It took me aback. I didn't know until then. It was also the moment I knew for sure that there would never be any reconciliation between us.

It's funny about that.  Since then, I've really noticed how the way we think of someone colors how we hear the words they say and write.  If it's someone you really like, you're more apt to hear their words through a veil of positive thoughts. You assume that their tones and intents are ones of peace and goodwill and humor, and you hear them accordingly.

On the flipside, if it's someone we don't like... or someone that we've come to have bad blood with, our perceptions of how they say things change.  No longer do we assume that they meant well.  Instead, we assume that they didn't. We hear snark and pettiness and self-pity.

I've been there too, and not just on the receiving end.  Sometimes I'll hear the words of someone through my own veil of bitterness, and I have to be very proactive about asking, "Is that fair?  Are you hearing honestly?" Many times, the answer is "No." I have to pull myself back from hearing through my hurts.  They do color, and they color dishonestly. They make you hear things sometimes that just aren't there.

I guess there's a part of us that wants to believe that the people who have hurt us are bad. We want everything they say and do to be a support of why we're right and why they were wrong, and why they continue to be wrong.  It's some sort of weird self-validation.

But I guess it's not really fair to them.  So it's good to be aware of it, to know it's there. When you find yourself awash in that bitter ocean, sometimes the awareness is as much of a lifesaver as you need to pull yourself back to the shore so that you can listen honestly and truthfully.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Michael could hear the doorbell reverberating to the back of the house, and he waited for someone to answer the door. This was the last house he had to solicit for donations before his shift was over.  His foot tapped in mild impatience.

Finally, the door opened to reveal the cutest little old lady. Her hair was pulled into a haphazard bun on top of her head, but only half of it had made it there. The rest sprung out in every direction. None of the pieces of her outfit matched and her glasses sat crooked on her nose.

Michael smiled his winningest smile. "Good afternoon, ma'am. My name is Michael, and I'm here from the local homeless shelter..."  He launched into the speech he'd already given a hundred other times that day.  He wasn't even paying attention to the words that came out of his mouth anymore.  He put on his best puppy-dog eyes look and ended with "And I was wondering if you could possibly spare a donation for the cause?"

"Well, of course, young man. Of course I can."  Her voice was old and thin, like a sound of an old gate, rusty on it's hinges.  She opened the door wider.  "Please come in while I find where my son left my checkbook."

He protested, "Oh no, ma'am.  It's alright, I can wait--"

"Nonsense!" she fixed him with a look that would not be defied.  "You'll come right inside and sit down."

Michael reluctantly followed her into the living room and settled into the vinyl-covered loveseat. She tottered into the kitchen and called back, "Don't mind the kitty, now.  His bark is worse than his bite."

"It's alright. I have a cat of my own at ho-- Oh god."  He hadn't noticed the cat when he'd come in the door. He couldn't un-notice it now.  There he was, sprawled out on the windowseat -- the lion.  The animal opened one eye to look at the new visitor, and Michael couldn't help noticing the size of his paws or thinking about how easily that animal could jump across the room and bite the head off of his neck.

"Oh now, sonny.  Don't you worry.  He's just a big softie..."

The lion stood up on the window seat and stretched. A softie?  Michael didn't care if it was the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. It was a lion, and he preferred his wild animals to be outside of... killing distance. His eyes widened as he watched the lion jump down and pad softly over to him. "Ma'am?" he called. "Ma'am, help?" He couldn't move.

The animal shook his mane and then sniffed at Michael's hand.  He looked up and almost seemed to smile at his prey.  The lion knew. Michael knew. They both knew who had the upper hand. The giant cat yawned, taking his sweet time, letting Michael take a good look at the size of his mouth, the sharpness of his teeth. Michael sat frozen and helpless as the lion looked him steadily in the eye, licking his chops.

He heard the woman came toddling back into the room, check in hand. "Oh Daniel, you've met our guest.  I hope you've been good!"

The lion almost winked at Michael, licked his hand, and then made his way back to his bed at the window.  Michael grabbed the check from the woman, mumbled his thanks, and practically sprinted out the door.  He was completely out of breath by the time he made it back to the car, his partner leaned up against it waiting for him.

"You knew, didn't you?" Michael demanded.

Tim chuckled.  "About Crazy Mrs Gunderson? Maybe.  Nice cat, eh?"

"You are so dead."

Thursday, October 4, 2012


The man was dressed richly, the fabric of his clothes obviously expensive.  He sat by the fireplace in the inn with a crowd gathered around him while he spun his tale.

"I drew my sword as the bandits approached. 50 of them! Sword clashed against sword as man after man fell to my skill. They came at me from every direction, but not a one could come out of it alive!"

His younger brother, Mark, stood at the bar and drained his ale. "This story gets longer every time he tells it," he muttered to the innkeeper.

The story at the fire continued. "The last man stabbed through the heart, I threw open the door of the carriage they had been robbing and found a beautiful princess with hair like gold and eyes as blue as the sea. 'My savior!' she exclaimed before she stood on her toes and bestowed me with a kiss. Of course, there were yet dragons to be slain, so I could not be waylaid, even by such a pretty lass, and I sent her on her way." Lord Maxim stood up from his seat by the fire. "And that is the story of the day I bested 50 bandits. Drinks all around!!"

The inn burst out in cheers and applause.  Mark smothered a smile and rolled his eyes at the ceiling.


Mark shoved his older brother up onto his horse and they rode home to the manor. "You know, brother, I feel like I remember that story a little differently. As I recall, we were the ones in the carriage, the lass was the one doing the saving, the bandits were three, and she refused to succumb to your charms because you hadn't bathed in six days."

Maxim glowered.  "Um, shut up?"

Mark chuckled. "You are the worst knight in shining armor ever."

Thursday, September 27, 2012


"What do you want to do?"

I glanced up at Mikayla. "Um, finish my homework?"

She wrinkled her nose at me. "No, not today. I mean, what do you want to do? Your life! What do you want to be, where do you want to go? We have our whole lives ahead of us...  where do you think you're going to be in ten years?"

"What are you, my guidance counselor?" I shrugged. "It doesn't matter, anyway.  Getting through junior year is about as far ahead as I can think."

"Emmalynn, you have no imagination. Of course it matters! Don't you have any dreams? Places you want to go, things you want to do? Don't all those books you read tell you anything? Don't you want to be something bigger than... than this?"

I put my pencil down. "Mickey, we live in a small town.  I can't have big dreams because they aren't going to come true.  I'm going to finish high school and go to the community college.  Then I'm going to drop out and get a job at the Dari Mart.  And marry Butch the Guy at the Auto Shop.  We'll live in a house behind his parents, have two children, and a dog who won't pee outside. And if I have big dreams, I'll never be able to be pretend I'm happy with that." I picked my pencil back up and turned back to my homework.  "What'd you get for #6?"

"Fine, geez." Mikayla's eyebrows furrowed in hurt.  "Forget I asked."


The clock blinked in the dark. 3am.  Rolling over, I punched some numbers into my phone and listened to the ring.

Mikayla mumbled sleepily into the other end. "Mmm, hello?  It's 3 o'clock in the morning, this had better be important."

I blinked into the dark of my room.

"Emmy?" she asked.  "Are you okay?"

"Paris. I want to go to Paris. And I want to stand on the top of the Eiffel Tower and kiss a Frenchman named Jacques-Pierre in the fire of a French sunset. I want to go to NYU. I want to take a ride in a hot air balloon. I want to write and scribble my name on the front page of my own book in an uncomfortable line of people at the Barnes and Noble. I want to ride on a gondola in Venice and I want to see the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel and I want to walk along the Great Wall of China.  Not the whole thing.  I want to go to a party and kiss some guy whose name I don't know just because he thinks I'm pretty. I want to have a closet with 50 pairs of shoes, one for every occasion... sometimes the same shoe in multiple colors.  And a Broadway show.  I want to dress up and see something I've always wanted to see right there off of Times Square."

Nothing but silence.

"Mickey, are you there?" I asked.

"Yeah, I'm here. Can we start with Paris?"

Photo Credit: Rian Castillo

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Coffee in hand, I glanced through the attic window at the driving rain before settling among the boxes on the floor. A cloud of dust filled the room as I tugged the lid off of the first one and I sneezed.  Three times. I could tell this was going to go well.

I could think of about fifty things I'd rather do with my day, but I'd been putting off going through the boxes in Mother's attic for weeks.

We needed to sell this house.

I pulled out a stack and started flipping through the old photographs.  They must have belonged to my grandmother? My great-grandmother?  So many people that I didn't have any idea who they were, staring blearily into the camera, waiting for it to immobilize their lives into still life for some unknown descendant to stare at with indifference and bewilderment years down the road.  How was I connected to these people?  How was I like them? Did they worry about the same things I worry about? Did they have the same faults, the same strengths? Did they make the same mistakes?

Flip. Flip. Flip. One after the other, discarded at my feet.

Mid-flip, I stopped.  One picture caught me. It was different from the others.  A girl, I think.  It was so hazy.  She was reaching for the camera, the person behind the camera? I didn't know, but I felt like she was seeing me. Really seeing me. I knew that wasn't right, couldn't be right.

I flipped her.  But, beside me into her own stack.

Flip, flip, flip through more pictures while I tried to ignore her.

Listen to me. I could hear her. I could hear her trying to talk to me.

I picked up the picture again and stared into her eyes.  "What?" I said aloud and then flushed.  I was talking to a picture, that was ridiculous. I put it back on the floor.

Flip, flip flip.

Please listen to me. The voice in my head seemed to plead.

I sighed and picked her up again, searching her eyes.  Who was she?  Why was she here?  And while I stared, her expression changed.  Her eyes became sad, resigned. Her fingers closed.  Her lips moved. It's too late. He's already here.

"Who?" I asked the girl in the picture. "Who's here?"

That's when I looked up and saw his face in the window.

Monday, September 17, 2012


"Ding Dong, the witch is dead."  That was the tweet.

I'll spare you the situational details, but the witch was me.  And that one stung deeply. I guess it was meant to.

But, it also wasn't devastating.

It would have been.  Two years earlier, I would have cried. I would have retreated and tried to pull the blanket over my head. I would have been really hurt. I would have taken and absorbed every drop of blame, both the deserved and the undeserved. I would have been completely broken by the criticism.

But this wasn't two years earlier.  This was now. This was two years of learning who I was and who I wasn't.  This was two years spent living and making mistakes and learning from them. This was two years of friendship with a mentor who repeatedly taught me how to let things roll off my back (one of the hardest lessons I've ever learned).  This was two years of learning to listen to the people who cared about me and who mattered to me.

It used to be that everyone's opinions mattered to me. I wanted everyone to like me. I needed everyone to like me.  And so, everyone's opinions made up what I thought of myself.  I even changed myself to fit who I thought other people wanted me to be because I needed their opinions to be positive ones.  Even, I guess, if their opinions of me (while possibly favorable) weren't actually who I was.

But I've slowly come to understand that everyone liking me is never going to happen.  Positive opinions from everyone are never going to exist.  I had to come to a place where I understood that this was okay. And this was okay because there did exist people who loved me for who I was, who liked me for who I was and am.  I came to learn that it wasn't the criticisms of the world that mattered, but the criticisms of these people.  That if I was okay with these people, the people who were important to me, then it wasn't so important that I be okay with the whole world.

So, a year later from this "Ding Dong the witch is dead"?  It still stings a bit. And it still hurts. But I don't let the criticism cripple me because I know who I am and I know who's important.

I hope you won't let the criticism cripple you, either.  You're loved by someone, and it's them who matters.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


You hurt me.  But, I put on the mask so you wouldn't know.
You confused me. But, I put on the mask so you wouldn't know.
I failed again. But, I put on a mask so you wouldn't know.
I have dreams that are bigger than I think I can accomplish.  But, I have masks so you won't know.
I'm afraid that you will kick me when I'm down. So, I put on the mask before you know you have an opening.

A thousand reasons, a thousand different masks.  And I wear them all.

For what?

So you won't know that I can feel pain?  So you won't know that I don't always understand?
So you won't know that I'm not perfect?  So you won't know my heart's desires?
So you won't know that I'm afraid of what you can do to me?

I do. All of these things, I do.

But, I'm afraid for you to know. 

I'm afraid of your rejection. I'm afraid of your indifference. I'm afraid of your words.
Sometimes I'm just afraid of your silence.

I wonder, on quiet nights like this one, who I could be if I wasn't afraid...  who I could be if I had no masks to wear and no one to fear.

I wonder who I would be and how I would be different.

If I was the person behind the masks.

Monday, September 3, 2012


"Amanda and I had this great idea for Mom's Christmas present this year!!" It was early November and one of my sisters was on the phone.  "You know how Mom collects angels?"


"Well, we thought that each of us could go to one of those 'Paint Your Own Ceramics' places, paint an angel on a tile, and then we could put them altogether in a frame for her."  She was very excited.

My heart sank. "Carey... I don't know.  Yours would be great, and Amanda's would be great.  But, you've seen my drawing skills.  Mine will be awful."

"Oh, it's not that hard.  Come on, PLEASE?  We really want to do it.  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!!"

How could I say "No"?

"Alright," I sighed.  But I knew I was right.  Mine was going to be awful.

I'm not an artist.

I don't mean that I'm not Claude Monet.  I mean, I'm not an artist... AT ALL.  Every project I ever turned in during elementary school came back with an A- and the words "Illustrations need more work."  It's not that I didn't try.  I DID.  I tried so hard...  But it's like I was born without the thing that makes you able to turn the picture in your head into the picture in your hand.  I tried to fudge it with stencils, but I even managed to screw those up.

I didn't grow out of it either.  I was saved in junior high and high school by the ability to use clip art.  But I've always, my whole life, been a total failure at anything artsy.  Anything crafty, too.  I've always looked on my friends who are crafty with a certain amount of envy.  They create such cute homemade gifts, but I know I'm literally unable to make things look anything even approaching cute.  I'm not even being mean to myself.  I'm being honest!

But, my sisters really wanted to do this.  It would be embarrassing, but I was willing to take one for the team.

I practiced.  I drew angel after angel, tossing page after page as they all looked like...  I don't even know... mutant flies?  Finally, I settled on a person I thought I could maybe possibly paint and took myself to the painting store.  I was there for hours, painstakingly creating this angel...  and I was proud of myself!  It almost sort of kind of looked like an angel.

I gave it to the lady and then returned to pick it up a week later.  My artsy little angel.

"What... is that?" my husband asked that night, as he spied it sitting on the table.

"It's an angel!" I answered, a bit indignantly.

"Oh.  Why does it have slits in its dress?"

"Those are arms!"

"Right, sorry."  He stared at it for a long time.  "Is that a... mohawk?"

I sighed, dejectedly.  "No.  It's supposed to be a part in her hair."

He patted my hand with sympathy.  "Well. Good thing it's for your mom."

The tiles were put together and framed.  They were wrapped.  On Christmas morning, they were unwrapped and cried over.  Mom loved it.  I suppose it was worth it.

And to this day, there it sits on her living room wall.  Two beautiful angels... and, well...  the one that looks like it came from Reject Preschool.

I know you think I'm exaggerating.  But, I assure you...

I am not.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Moira shivered and hugged her arms against her chest.  The dampness of the alley seemed to seep into every  pore in her body and she checked her watch again.

They were only five minutes late, but it felt like hours that she'd been standing there. Every second was closer to discovery.

A change in the light caught her eye.  Looking up, she watched a single figure cut through the fog and approach the entrance to the alley.  She was alone, but Moira knew she wasn't really.  There would be guards no one could see.

Moira bowed as low as she could. "Madam Archilada."  She kept her eyes lowered. Madam Archilada's ties to the royalty were strong and her power was great.

Madam snapped, "Get up, I don't have all night, girl.  Did Mother Elizabeth explain what is expected of you?"

"Yes, ma'am.  We're to go into the forest, but I'm to raise the queen's child as my own."

Madam looked into the girl's face, searching for something. Finally, she snapped her fingers above her head.  A guard rushed forward out of the mist, placing the bundle from his arms into Moira's.

Moira parted the blanket to look down at the naked babe.  She looked up in surprise.  "But, it's a boy!  I don't understand...  I thought the King was waiting for a son."

"It isn't the King's son."


"Look at him in the morning light and you'll see.  What do you think would happen to the child... and the queen... if the King knew this?"  Madam's eyes narrowed.  "Leave at once.  I expect to never see your face here again."

"Yes, ma'am."  Moira curtsied and backed away toward the other end of the alley.  She looked back once to see Madam and the guard shrouded in mist as they disappeared toward the castle.  A dark form melted from the shadows to walk in step with her.

"Did you get the package?" the figure asked in a low voice.

"It's a baby, Jeffrey.  Not a package." Moira ran a finger along the child's cheek with tenderness.  "A sweet innocent baby."

A warning came into the man's voice.  "He's a pawn, Moira, not a child.  Don't get too attached."

Moira narrowed her eyes.  "You can tell the Duke I have his son and he will have his precious war."

"See to it that he does, Moira."  Jeffrey's voice softened.  "We're counting on you."

Friday, August 10, 2012


It was a low place.

My kids were in this tough pre-teen phase. I'd walked away from some friendships that needed walking away from. Someone I had a lot of respect for changed from what I thought they were, leaving me disheartened and confused. And mostly, I just wasn't who I had set out to be, and I was lost.

I sat there, amongst all the rubble of my life and relationships and self, surveying all the damage and wondering how on earth I could stand up and make something beautiful once more. How could I start again when everything, including myself, was so broken?

When there is so much to be fixed, where do you start?  I felt like a little kid, thrown into her very messy bedroom (admittedly, messy by her own actions) with the instructions to "Get your room clean!"  You know that feeling, don't you?  You look around and there is mess everywhere.  It's not that you don't want to clean it, or aren't willing to clean it.  It's just that there is SO MUCH that you don't even know where to start.

You can start over.

Even amongst all the rubble, you can start over. Dig deep inside of you and you will find the strength.  You don't get rid of the rubble in one fell swoop, it doesn't happen that easily or quickly.  But you deal with the rubble in the same way that you deal with the messy room.  One piece at a time.

Maybe you're even lucky and you have someone who is willing to come alongside of you and help to pick up the pieces.  They are the people who love you when you need to be loved, but also push you when you need to be pushed.

Rebuilding a life, a relationship, a self...  it takes time. But you can start anew and build something beautiful once again.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


"Oh, that feels so good," I murmured aloud as I stretched out on the picnic blanket and let the sun seep into my body. It was almost sensual the way the warmth swept over and nearly overdosed my skin's ability to take it all in.

It had been such a long week, so as soon as the sun rose this morning, I'd packed myself and a picnic to take with to go find some wilderness, some secluded place to be by myself.  Finally, I was here on this little hill above the meadow, just me, some sandwiches, and the sun.  Blissful!

I laid my hand to the ground next to me and smiled as it seemed to thrum beneath my touch. This must be what it's like when they say you're "one with nature."  The thrumming continued.  Actually, the thrumming got louder.  Until it became more of a rumbling... and then a thundering, and it just kept getting louder and more insistent.  I scrambled to my feet and looked below me to the meadow.

This was not good.  A herd of cattle, spooked by who-knows-what, was hurtling itself up the hill right toward me!  Hurriedly, I tried to throw all of my lunch back into the picnic basket when a voice in my head yelled, "No, stupid!  They are going to run you down, who cares about your lunch?  RUN!"


Turning on my heel, I fled in the opposite direction of the herd. This was futile.  I don't even like to run to the mailbox, and I thought I was going to outrun a herd of raging cattle?  Stupid girl.  I could feel them getting closer and closer, and I started to scream.  This is what happens when you want to be alone and you pick outside to be alone in.  You get run over by cows.  My headstone is going to read "DIED FROM BOVINE ATTACK."  How embarrassing.

It was like I could almost feel them breathing down my neck now.  Just as I was about to give up and accept that Bessie the Cow would be my murderer, I felt two hands grab me by the waist and hoist me in front of the body they belonged to on a horse.  And we galloped off.  Saved by...?

I struggled a bit to turn around and get a look at who had rescued me from my almost-demise, but the arms that wrapped around me to hold onto the reins held me tightly in place.

"Would you sit still? You're going to knock us both off this horse," the voice said in my ear.  It was low and husky, and the mouth it belonged to was a breath away. I tried to sit still and behave myself, despite my curiosity  I just couldn't figure out where to put my hands.  He had the reins. I tried to put them at my sides, but his thighs were there, wrapped tightly in dark blue jeans.  Finally, I settled on the horn of the saddle until he stopped galloping and jumped off the horse.

"Come on, then," he instructed, helping me off in turn, and I finally got a good look at him. He stood about six feet tall, jeans that clung to his hips, a short sleeved plaid shirt buttoned halfway, muscular and tan.  Oy vey. His cowboy hat shaded everything else.

"Thank you," I offered weakly.  "I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't..."

The mystery cowboy smiled. "It's alright, Miss." He moved a step closer, pushed his hat back to reveal the most beautiful blue eyes I've ever seen, and nearly stopped my heart. "I do believe, though, that the savior is entitled to a Thank you kiss." Somehow his hand was at my back and his lips were....

I suddenly broke out laughing.

Mr Cowboy frowned. "Did I do something funny?"

"I'm sorry," I apologized. "It's not you.  It's just-- This feels like a bad romance novel, doesn't it?"

"I don't understand, Miss.  This is a bad romance novel."  He turned and gestured up at the sky.

There it was... written in big bold scripty letters in the clouds:

"The shrew??  I'm the SHREW??"

"Lady, I don't write it. I just do what I'm told.  Now, this kiss..." He leaned in toward me again.

I pushed him away and headed toward the man's horse. "Well, I am not going to just 'do what I'm told,'" I mimicked.  "Come on...  We're going to go find this author and give her a piece of our minds!"

Mr Cowboy groaned and shook his fist at the sky. "A million books and I get the only heroine who won't play along.  I bet James Bond doesn't run into this problem!!!"


The evening's fire crackled under his expert hands.

"So, how does this usually work, Adam?" We'd introduced ourselves on the afternoon's ride across the meadow.  "You swoop in on damsels in distressing cattle stampedes, swoop them off their feet, make them fall in love with you and live happily ever after?"

He looked at me with his blue eyes.  "Something like that. Except for the happily ever after part.  We usually part after the epilogue.  That's always a trial... all the crying and caterwauling."

"Well, what do you expect? You make them think you're in love with them and then -- BAM-- nothing. Do they even know that they're in a book?"

"Not usually.  Most of them think they're in a dream."

"Well, I think that's terrible," I lectured. "Getting a girl's hopes up about a handsome cowboy being in love with her and then breaking her heart. You should be ashamed of yourself."  The wind whipped across the plain and I moved closer to the fire, wrapping my arms around myself.

Adam shrugged. "It's just a job, Sara.  It was romance hero or pig farmer.  Here."  I looked up to see him holding his shirt out to me. "Put it on, you're cold."

I stared.  "And you're..." Beautiful. 

His eyes crinkled up at the corners. "Tall, handsome, broad shoulders, a torso that tapers down into slim hips, tan, six-packed, virile?"

"Well, I would have added 'enough chest hair to be salivatingly manly but not so much as to be gorilla-like,' but you're amazingly close.  How'd you do that?"

"It's in my character bio."  He laid himself on the ground and put his hands behind his head, gazing into the sky.  "Go to sleep, Sara. We have a long ride tomorrow if we're going to get you to Authors Village."

I did the same.  In the quiet of the meadow, underneath the millions of stars, it was easy to slowly slip into sleep. But before I did, I heard Adam murmur, "It isn't always stampedes.  Sometimes it's bandits."

I smiled and dreamed of bandits, pretty cowboys, and kisses.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


If you walked out the front door of my house, you would find yourself on a street paved with gold dust. Every tree that lines it blooms with pink diamonds.  The bridge down the way spans a river that runs with liquid silver.  The tinkling of tiny bells fill the air.

Oh, the bells. Those damn bells.

I suppose it's a bit of an understatement to call this a house.  It's more than a house.  It's Parliament. It's the courthouse. It's the jailhouse.  It's a castle.  But, I guess it's home.

I'm Abby. From Nebraska.  But this?  This is Fairyland -- and I am its reluctant queen.

Today, I wasn't walking out my front door. I wasn't strolling along the golden lanes. I wasn't picking diamond bouquets, and I wasn't swimming in the crystal cool of the river.  No, today... like every day... I was holding court. Miserable boring court.

A trumpet blew right in my ear and I waved it away. "Do you have to do that right there?"

A fairyman flew out of the reach of my hand, his trumpet dropping to float inches above the floor. "I'm sorry, Your Highness!" Philip bobbed in deference. "I have been working on projection." His countenance took on an air of hurt.

I smiled. Philip was my favorite fairy.  He once told me that, when he was a fairyboy, he could never make more than a peep come out of his trumpet, and his many siblings always teased him terribly over it.  His newfound volume was a subject of great pride.

"I'm sorry, Philip.  Let my annoyance stand as proof of your talent. And how many times do I have to tell you to call me Abby?"

"Yes, Queen Abby!"

I sighed and whispered.  "Abby.  Just Abby.  Now, why are we trumpeting?"

Philip pulled himself up to his full 9 inches and announced the arrival of a new visitor. "Ladies and Gentlemen!  Lord Ronaldo, here to bestow his good wishes upon our fair queen!"  And again with the trumpet.

I rolled my eyes.  If I had to sit through one more pompous miniature fairy lord trying to impress me with his tricks and aerial gymnastics, I was going to scream.

The door opened and a figure entered the room.  This was no miniature fairy lord.

He had six inches on me, easily. Have you heard "tall, dark, and handsome"? He was that.  He had straight black hair The ends brushed against the collar of his jacket as he walked forward. His eyes were the most brilliant green I'd ever seen, framed with gorgeous black eyelashes, and I found myself sitting taller under his gaze. He wore dark blue jeans (where did he get those?? I'd kill for a pair of jeans) that sat lazily on his hips and the chambray shirt accentuated the hard lines of his torso.  I definitely sat taller.

"You're Lord Ronaldo?" I could barely keep the stammer out of my voice.

"He most certainly is NOT." The offended voice came from behind the man of steel, and a fat little fairy came puffing to the front. "I am Lord Ronaldo.  This is naught but my younger brother, Kevin."  He lowered his voice in apologetic confidence. "He's a mutant."

"Indeed." I muttered. "We could use a few more of those around here."

Mutant Kevin winked and the faintest smile quirked at the corners of his mouth as his older brother began his series of probably-impressive tricks.

And THAT is where the story begins.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


The picnic table perched above the shore of the lake. Anyone who looked out would be treated to a view of sunshine sparkling on the bluest of water, sailboats dotting the waves, and ducks enjoying an afternoon's swim.  But, I took the other bench. I had another view in mind.

I set down my latte and pulled a slim notebook and my favorite pen from my bag before sitting with my back to the water. Opening the book, I began to write. Or at least I set the pen against the paper. But, like every Saturday, the words wouldn't come.  Not until he came.

I could hear him walking up the path from the parking lot and I pretended to engross myself in my writing.  I glanced up with practiced nonchalance when he passed by my table to return his smile and nod.  Now, the words would come.

He arranged his easel up the hill some 50 paces from where I sat, pointed toward the lake behind me. Reaching into his satchel, he pulled out his pencils and began to sketch.

I'm not sure when he had become my muse, but he had fueled my writing for many weeks.  He was tall with warm brown eyes and a smile that quirked his mouth up at the corners. The colors of Autumn were always what I thought of when I studied his hair, rich and full and always just short of needing a haircut. It was the kind that you wanted to touch just to see if it was really as soft as it looked.  It sounds like I was in love with him, I know.  But it wasn't that. It wasn't romantic, it wasn't sexual.

He just intrigued me. There was something about him.  Maybe it was the way he studied the horizon so carefully before putting his pencil to the paper. Maybe it was how he would impatiently push away this one stray lock of hair that always fell across his eyes. Maybe it was the day I'd been later than usual and had caught him swimming instead of drawing. It had made me wish that I, too, was skilled with an ability to draw.  I don't know what it was, but he had made his way into my story, and I needed him to finish it.

I didn't even know if he could draw well, really.  I'd never seen his creations as we were always faced in opposite directions.  Me, towards him.  Him, toward the lake behind me. Every time I looked up, his eyes would be focused on the view over my shoulder, squinting and thinking.  Sometimes I think he caught me studying him, but I would always quickly yank my eyes up to the heavens, as if I was just searching for the words I wanted before applying them to my page.  I don't know if he knew I was watching him.

But, every Saturday afternoon, we came.  And every Saturday, my story came a little bit closer to completion.

We worked in companionable silence until the sun's light began to fade.  My coffee gone and knowing he would soon be leaving with no light left to work with, I slipped my notebook back into my bag.  Smiling and waving, I made my back to my car. We never spoke.

Until next week, Romeo.


She packed her bag, grabbed her empty coffee, and returned to her car in the parking lot. I let out a breath I didn't realize I'd been holding.  I was always afraid she'd discover my secret.  Maybe she'd walk by in a direction she didn't normally take and then she'd know.

I paged through my most recent sketches before putting my things away.  The one I had drawn of her hair blowing in the wind, the sun streaming behind her. The one where she had been furiously writing her thoughts, as if she couldn't get them down fast enough before they disintegrated into nothing.  The one where she studied the sky, trying to find what she wanted to say.

Most artists came to draw and paint the lake.  But, I came to draw her.

Maybe someday she would know. Maybe someday I would show her.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I'm Glad I... walked away from unhealthy friendships

This is probably the most difficult thing I've done over the past few years. It was the hardest to do. It's still hard to talk and write about. It still makes my heart constrict inside my chest.  And yet, in retrospect, doing it remains something that I think was wise.

Sometimes friendships turn out to be not-healthy.  Maybe they didn't start out that way, and that's how they got to be friendships.  But, you get to a point where you look around and realize that the relationship you're in isn't very good for you. There can be lots of components that make it that way.  Maybe you've just begun to chafe against each other too much.  Maybe you've changed in ways they haven't, and vice versa, and you keep trying to make each other fit into the molds of who you were before. Maybe you're giving more than they are, and it's become a one-way relationship, or maybe it's you that's taking it all. There can be lots of things that contribute...

But, one day, you get to a place where you realize... "This relationship just isn't good for me. It's becoming unhealthy."

But walking away is... fraught with so much.  There's all the time you've already put into it. There's the fact that recognizing the unhealthiness of the relationship doesn't mean you don't CARE about the person anymore, and you don't want to hurt them. There's the "but what if they still need me?" worry (em, this might just be me and my own co-dependence.. more on that in a couple weeks). There's the weighty thought that you are choosing to walk away.  To be a quitter. And quitting on something that once (and maybe still does) mean so much to you.  It's knowing that you're walking away from something you love.  Even if you believe it's best, it's HARD.

If you're there, if you're in the spot right now where you're thinking "I think I should walk from this," I want to encourage you to do it. You are not a bad person for recognizing that where you are is not good. Sometimes it really is best.... for both of you. Sometimes holding onto something that was once great keeps you both from being in relationships that ARE great. Trying to be the person someone else wants you to be keeps you from being the person you're meant to be.

I can't tell you that walking away is easy. It isn't.  It hurts. And months later, it still hurts. Sometimes the guilt is still heavy. Sometimes the bittersweet memories twist inside and bring such sorrow. But even as they do, I know it was right.

Hard.  But right.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


I sat on a bench and looked out across the river.  The fog hovered over the water like a blanket just about to descend and the birds poked in and out of it as they dove for their morning's meal. I felt a creak at the other end of the bench and glanced up.

A familiar profile greeted my eyes.  I smiled, and then I remembered I was mad at him and stopped.  We both sat quietly, avoiding each other's glances and staring resolutely at the river, as if not looking at each other would make the gulf between us less oppressive.

He finally spoke. "We messed up, didn't we?" But it wasn't so much a question as a statement.

I looked away.  "Yes."

"I'm sorry. For everything."

"I know." I turned my head to wipe a tear from my eye. We had really messed up something that could have been really nice.  Both of us so proud and stubborn. "Me too."

His words came slowly and I knew they were hard for him to say. "They say we never get a second chance to make a first impression. But I don't know that there is a limitation on second chances on friendships and trying again. Maybe we could try again?"

I was quiet a long time and finally said, "Okay."

I smiled.  I could see him smile out of the corner of my eye, and we sat in now-companiable silence as the birds dove.

Friday, June 29, 2012


I come to you with a simple thought today... brought to you through the words of a friend, shared with me during a time that my heart was really hurting.
There are people in this world who just feel good when they are hurting others. We can't be like that. Sometimes the best thing we can do when we are hurt, or when those we love are being attacked, is to hold our heads high and exert as much kindness as we can find.

A simple thought.
Sometimes hard to live out.
But one of the best lessons I've learned.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Dalia sat in the middle of her bed, wrapped in a fluffy white bathrobe, and stared at the dress across the room.  The fabric was a creamy white with champagne-colored flowers sewn around the bodice and down the skirt.  She loved the way it skimmed her hips when she walked.  It wasn't the full poufy princess dress that she saw in the bridal magazines, but it was what she had picked for her wedding.

June 17th.  This was the day that she and Landon had selected for their wedding date, and June 17th was today.

Dalia thought back to the day she had first met Landon. The sun had shone that day, but a spring rain had fallen. She sat in a crowded coffeeshop, her college books strewn around her as she studied, when a handsome young man with brown hair that curled just so over his forehead asked if he could sit with her.  That had been the beginning.  He had smiled down at her, and her heart had been lost.

She stood now and let the robe fall from her shoulders.  Stepping naked to the dress, she shimmied into it, once more revelling in the way the fabric slid over her skin.  She stepped into the matching shoes.  Then, she sat on the bed and waited.

A knock on the door sounded, and her sister's voice asked, "Dally?  Are you ready?"

"I'm ready," she answered. "Come in."

The door cracked, and her sister Kelly peeked in.  "Oh Dally," her eyes widened.  "You can't wear that. You just... you can't."

Dalia stepped to the mirror, placed a black veil atop her head, and answered quietly. "I bought it for today. I will wear it for today."  She stepped past her sister without a glance and left the room.

June 17th was also the day of Landon's funeral.