Monday, August 24, 2020

Are We the Trees?

I recently spent ten minutes talking on the phone with my son’s new teacher. He knows her. She knows him. But I still felt compelled to spend ten minutes explaining his allergies, demeanor, and how he’s handled these last few months.

I’m scared for the school year ahead. Even so, I forgot to ask how many kids are in the class. It was lost on me to ask about COVID-19 protocol. Because in between catching up on email, paying bills, answering text messages, cleaning my house, trying to get my son excited to go back to school without his sister, and explaining to said sister why she’s delayed three weeks for her first day, I am craving the ability to root myself in some semblance of normal. To just talk allergies and demeanors. 

If you’re in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area right now, you’ve grown used to seeing trees, branches and limbs all around these last few weeks. In fact, they’re downright obstructing our views around each corner. 

They’re leaning. Some uprooted. Some displaced. Some are bleeding. Some have fallen face first into the closest house, seeking some amount of comfort, I’m sure.

The trees are not okay.

A friend asked the other day after I confessed my overwhelm; “what has you overwhelmed?”

All I could muster up was to explain that it’s the sheer magnitude of it all. I’m leaning. Broken limbs all around, and I don’t even know which way to fall.

When those 140 mph winds came tearing through my community, I finally let go of all I had been trying to hold on to for the last six months.

Now I can see all the pieces scattered on the ground around me. And I know I'm not alone. 

Do I send my kids back to school? How can I work and parent? Should I be volunteering more? Do I submit a claim? Should I even be feeling any of this considering how well my family fared? Wait, should I hire a teacher? Am I doing enough to combat systematic racism in this country? Where are everyone’s masks? When does school start? Are sports bras acceptable to wear each day? Are my son’s tears normal or a sign that all this is wearing on him too? What’s a date night?

We are not okay. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Survival Mode

This photo popped up on my memories recently. It was taken three years ago. My son was using a breathing treatment. Again. Because his oxygen levels were low. Again. I had just given him a steroid pill to help with said oxygen levels and he threw it up. Again. While I was cleaning that up, he drew all over his legs with a marker.

Three years ago, I was surviving. That was it.

Gather around, friends, there’s something I want you to know.

You are amazing. And, what you’re being asked to do right now is bullshit. Your survival mode isn’t endless. It’s essential, but not endless. So, when we are done surviving, we must care for ourselves properly in order to thrive.

18 months after this photo was taken, I stopped sleeping. I had not healed what my family had gone through. And it caught up with me.

Today, with proper self-care. Sleep. Writing. And therapy. I’m healing. I’m less in overdrive.

But, I’m worried about the state of parents right now, and what we will experience on the other side of this pandemic. I’m concerned we will all wake up at 3 am wondering what the hell just happened to our collective families.

Keep surviving, yes. But, let’s lean on each other to heal. If you need to chat, I have coffee. Looking for a therapist? I’ll hook you up with the name of a good one. If you want to run, my legs are strong. And if you need someone to truly hear how hard it is, I will listen.

So, stop on over. The boy might still be covered in marker but he’s probably not puking.

Cheers, my friends!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

To the new owners of our first home...

Welcome home!

I hope you find this note as you unpack your things. Maybe the walls feel a bit foreign to you right now, but I promise you that in no time they’ll become familiar. At least they did for us.

We moved into this house after moving around for several years. Iowa to Oregon to Florida back to Iowa. This was the first house we bought. When we finally found our way to it, it quickly became our home.

We moved in just over two years after we got married. The plan was to move “home” and begin our family. But you know what they say about plans.

We struggled for the next two years with infertility. These walls, they know pain.

We decided to embark on the long journey of IVF. And, these walls watched as those plans got broken by two faint lines that showed up while we sat in disbelief. These walls, they know surprise.

These walls saw us bring our baby girl home. One of the most beautiful days of my life occurred within these walls. We sat and cuddled our new baby all day. These walls, they know gratitude!

Eight months later, these walls witnessed more tears. We saw two more faint lines (right as we were getting this whole parenting thing figured out). Yup, a little boy was making his presence known.

These walls saw us bring a second baby home just nine months later. And they watched as we not-so-quickly adjusted to becoming a family of four. These walls saw us way too many times in the middle of the night. Rocking. Walking. Crying. Feeding. Questioning. Sleeping. Waking. Re-waking… All in the name of helping our sweet boy through what turned out to be a food allergy that was discovered two years later. These walls, they know comfort.

These walls saw our boy get healthy. They know the girl’s sass and so many timeouts. They know laughter. They know holidays and celebrations. They know dance parties and learning to read. They know way too much about cars and super heroes and Disney singing performances and wine and late nights. They know first-steps and new jobs. They know the stories of countless friends and family. They know big decisions and just a few arguments. They know two people who slowly brought to life those plans they envisioned all those years ago.  

Above all else, these walls know love. We are so happy to share that love with you.

These walls, they hold our memories. I hope you enjoy making your own now as much as we did.

Welcome home!

Friday, April 3, 2020

What I Know Right Now.

I’ve always loved Oprah’s column in her magazine; “What I Know For Sure…”.

But, right now, I’m not sure I know anything for sure.

So, here are some things I know right now.

My kids eat a lot. I told Weston he was going to grow a foot while he was home and he was excited to get a third foot. He thinks he’ll run faster with an extra one. I didn’t correct him.

I believe in the separation of work and home. I got an email the other day, read it, got angry, and then Nora asked to take a nap. I was hot, sweating and barely able to focus on the story I was reading. It sucked. I pride myself on showing up for my work when I’m there and my home when I’m here. I'm trying to navigate these blurred lines. 

I like my husband. He’s a really good partner. And, he’s funny. And, handsome. I’m glad he’s the one I chose to do life with. I didn’t know life would include something called “social distancing” but it sure makes clear what a good decision I made almost exactly ten years ago.

My son is really good at puzzles, and my daughter can, in fact, play on her own! Because, the kids they are alright. These little people are learning tough lessons. And, maybe unlike their mama, they’re doing it with grace. I have a feeling their generation will be at least partially defined by this pandemic. They’ll know what lotion is best for cracked hands and will tell you something about resilience too.

We can do hard things, but maybe not easy things simultaneously. I spelled my name wrong the other day and sent more emails without attachments than I care to admit. Because, we can do hard things – like handle anxiety and uncertainty and decipher stimulus bills – but we can’t do easy things at the same time. Let’s cut each other some slack.

I like my Cabernet heavy on the oak. I said it.  

We need each other. The bright spots in each of these days are from friends who reach out. Some with words, others with scones, and still others with condos for your family to live in while you’re in between homes. Yes, we are apart right now, but we have this shared experience. There’s magic in that.

Hang in there, friends.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Polar Bears

Several months ago, my husband picked my daughter up from school and asked her how her day was. She replied, “Terrible!” Surprised, he dug a little to better understand what was so terrible. She told him she’d explain when we were all home together.

Without warning of that interaction, I got home and saw my daughter lying on the couch looking exhausted. I asked her; “Nora, are you ok?”

She sat up. Slowly. And announced she could now explain why her day was terrible.

She then educated us on the danger the polar bears of the world are experiencing through climate change. She had tears in her eyes as she asked me what we could do.

We talked about the ways our family could make a difference and set out to do so. She reminded her brother constantly that leaving the lights on when we weren’t in a room would hurt the polar bears. I even caught her telling a character in a movie that their situation wasn’t “as bad as the polar bears'!”

This girl was feeling this pain deeply.

A few weeks later as the snow began to melt outside our Iowa windows Nora showed up in the bathroom announcing there was an emergency outside. We had litter in our yard. Stuck under the melting snow and what would this do to the polar bears?!?


A few weeks ago, I completely lost control of all my emotions. Alone in my car.

I was listening to Glennon Doyle’s new book, Untamed, and couldn’t believe my ears when a chapter in her book told an identical story about her daughter. In kindergarten. Learning about the polar bears.

It hit me. All at once. I’m watching my daughter grow into herself and admittedly have had the urge to tame her.

My girl is unapologetically sensitive to the world’s issues. She's Untamed. And, we need her to be.

As her mama, I need to respond. So, our family has gotten more involved with Indian Creek Nature Center. We do what we can to support them with our time, talent and treasure. Today, they need our support more than ever!


"First, it’s the polar bears.

Then, it’s us."

Friday, January 10, 2020

Thoughts on 35

I turned 35 recently.

If I’m honest, I’m not quite sure how I feel about that number. Maybe it’s because my birthday falls directly after the holidays, and this holiday season I made sure all recipes I made included cream cheese frosting. My pants are still reminding me of this delicious decision. Or maybe it’s because I’m perpetually 26 in my own head. And, 35 isn’t 26.

Anyway, as a practice to guide my thoughts and energy, I jotted down a few lessons I’m still learning.


Hannah Gadsby said in her Netflix special, Nannette; “our stories hold our cure.”

A few years ago, I shared my story of getting burnt out and walking away from a job I once loved. This story helped other brave women come forward and admit the same. Sharing our stories is not only a powerful way to connect, it’s a crucial human function.


If you’re wandering around a tailgate looking for a beer and a brat, and you find a handsome man who has both; marry him. Life is tough. And, the kind of guy who can offer up a beer and a brat feels like a safe place to land when it all gets to be too much.


I learned recently about a method psychiatrists use to reprogram trauma in the brain called EMDR. I’m no medical professional but my layman’s explanation is as follows; while you visit traumatic events in your head, the psychiatrist has you hold something that buzzes. The item buzzes first in your right hand then in your left and back and forth. This action allows the traumatic event to move from your right (emotional) brain to your left (logical) brain. It allows you to process the trauma and move forward.

Someone once told me running doesn’t cure everything, and this new-found information regarding EMDR makes me stubbornly reply with; “not so fast!” 

I truly believe, with all my heart, while you watch your right foot and then your left foot pound the pavement on a long run while thinking through your pain, your mind reprograms that pain.

So, in fact, running may cure everything.


Sometimes self-care looks like a glass of wine and relaxing your mind and body. But it also looks like combining all your to-do lists. It looks like mind-dumping that shit on however many pieces of paper required and taking a hard look at it. It looks like delegating, crossing off the easy stuff, and deleting the stuff that isn’t yours to get done. Self-care sometimes looks like doing the work you don’t want to do.


A good song can change a mood. And a day.


Keep those who feel like warmth close. Keep close those who have known you forever, and are brave enough to call you on your shit. But, find the people who love the you, you’ve grown into, and challenge you to be the person you’re continually becoming.


Fear is contagious. But, so is kindness. Choose to spread the latter. Especially when it’s hard.


And, finally, the Harvard Business Review did a study on Collective IQ many years ago. The summary, in short, is when measuring a group’s collective IQ not many things raised it. There was little correlation, in fact, between a group’s collective intelligence and the IQs of its individual members. But if a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises.

Draw your own conclusions.


Scones also help. Especially the savory ones from Dash!

Cheers, my friends!

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