Have you ever finished a book and just really wondered who this character is who put all their hard work and sweat into writing this piece of art? Have you ever glanced at their headshot on the back of their masterpiece and thought, “So, this pretty, dark-haired lady dreams up grousome murders of children?” She looks friendly, and happy. She looks like she drives a moderately mid-sized vehicle and probably flosses her teeth the way the dentist wants. She has a fancy bred dog with an annoying preppy name like “Jack” or “Tripp.” Her kids play soccer and take piano lessons. She enjoys a full bodied glass of red 2-3 times a week. She takes a cycling class and meets up with friends for a fancy lunch once a month at the club. 

But then, I think about how this woman spent time reviewing grousome crime scene photos of murders. She had to study blood spatter patterns. She had to decide what details would make the story breathe. She tumbled down some back roads in an aboundoned town and scribble scratched what she saw. She called a friend of a cousin and asked enough to figure out how much money it would take to run a farm in the 80’s. She heard a name that sounded good and played with last names and nicknames. She researched weather patterns and geographical areas. Maybe she traveled to a different state or a different country and researched things. The “normal” everyday things this author does is not what interests me. What interests me is that she has this whole other life. She is in some dusty old courthouse with her nose stuck in old county record books. She is someone who drives 60 miles to buy coffee for a prosecuting attorney who is nice enough to answer some questions about a fictional case. I see someone who can’t sleep at night because she is thinking about how to end a sentence. Not just any sentence, but that sentence in chapter 9, where the new piece of information has been intoduced and the character just has not been subtle enough about their feelings.  I see someone who is inconspicuously taking notes on their phone when a conversation interests her. Later, she will recite it and reread it. It will become the voice of one of her characters. I see someone who is determined to make their creative art come alive. I see someone who does not care what the best-sellers are about. I see someone who wants their craft and their story to reach far beyond any boarders or boundaries. I see someone who works hard. She is consistent. She believes in the gut of her gut that she is doing what she was made to do. I see her. I see me. 

Tobacco Pine

It’s all there in her mind. She can see it unraveling in front of her as her hands plunge deeper into the soapy water. 

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. 

They are tangled together in sheets. His amber hair grabs some reflection of the sunlight coming through those disgusting blinds they had to buy. They really are awful. She almost has to squeeze her lips to keep the thought from escaping her mouth.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. 

She pauses a moment as she calls up the day they purchased the blinds for their new home eight years ago. Eight years? That couldn’t be right. She stops the almost mechanical motion of her hands  now in the water to do the math. She never really could multitask and do math. It required thought. It required attention, much like the man in the bed. Her hands started moving again as those thoughts broke through. 

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. 

She had gone unnoticed. Apparently the activities in those newly laundered sheets  had their full attention. She had been able to slip through the screen door and cross the length of the old farmhouse in a few long strides. No floor boards creaked. No wind rustled the leaves. No forewarning sounds that time was to be forever divided. 

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. 

It was embarrassing for her. Not the kind of embarrassment you should feel when someone lets you down. It was embarrassment for what she had witnessed. It took her back decades to when she was innocent to the ways of the wicked. She was embarrassed these images would never leave her. She was no longer innocent to the conditions of the outside world. 

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. 

The way he had stroked her long, golden hair, the way he had never taken his eyes off of hers, it was disgusting and devastating at the same time. At one point she had lifted her hand to cover her mouth, but it had been too late. The darkest of green bile had risen to her throat and some how had managed to leave her body as quietly as possible. That was the part that gave her away. That damn Tabacco Pine that she had fallen in love with when they had ripped up the carpet. Oh, how she had danced around in her ripped jeans and Pink Floyd tee covered in drywall dust just admiring the beauty of that hidden gem under the drabby carpet. Then, just like her marriage, she put in all the hard work. She combed the beauty for any holes, cracks, or exposed dangers. She crooned  “Amazing Grace” on her hands and knees as she worked to sand off the 50 years of hard labor the floor had endured. Aftewards came the chemical stripping, oil bath, and repeated caressing with the old piece of cotton. She had finally finished the beauty late one Thursday evening in September. She took off all her clothes, grabbed a bottle of wine, and laid out on the magnificent slab of butter, just enjoying the energy the house seemed to put off. She had put her blood and sweat into those planks. She felt like she had left part of her heart in those wood grains, and now, here she was, completely betrayed by them. She stared down at her feet, distantly aware that the contents of her stomach were now seeping into those old cracks. She was also vaguely aware that she was no longer unnoticed. The scurry of movement in front of her was violent. She didn’t dare look up. She simply turned her body towards the kitchen and silently commanded movement in her legs. Before she understood why or what she was doing, she was standing over the large sink with her hands submerged. 

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. 

“No Selfie Challenge” 

Discussing private matters has never been my topic of choice. I have always stuck to the motto: “Some things are better left unsaid.” Until recently, I have not been bucked on this topic too much. Of late, I have become disheartened about how we all tend to present a facade about who or what we truly are in places like social media. 

My biggest hang-up, is not that I don’t present myself in a good light. No, my biggest hang-up is that I feel that sharing aspects of my life with others is indeed “presenting myself.” I worry that a funny that I chose to share, or a caption I take time to write, may offend someone. The real parts of me are screaming to be unlocked. They are opening a door and screaming down an empty corridor, “Just be you!” 

In a society where we are trained to always put our best foot forward, is it so bad to hope that maybe we can train ourselves to let our blisters be seen? We all have them. Each of us is human, with mistakes, mortgages that sometimes are a struggle to pay, and relationships that get bruised and battered. Life can not be pretty all the time. We as humans are bound to make mistakes. We want what we want. We inhale hope and sometimes exhale hurt. 

When we decide to let things define us is when we give all the power to another person. I have no intention of giving someone else the opportunity to define who I am. 

Today, December 9th, I have decided to make a “No Selfie Challenge” for myself. For one year, I am going to refrain from sharing any selfie pictures. I think that taking a year off from presenting my appearance with filters or the way I think is acceptable to be seen, will change how I feel about giving someone else that coveted power. To be clear, I’m not saying I won’t share any pictures of me, say with my family. I simply mean, they won’t be pictures I took of myself. In many cases, I find I only use pictures that are from what I think is my best angle. I use filters to hide my wrinkles and graying hair. From now until December 9, 2017,  any picture I post will be one that I took of someone else, or one that someone else has taken of me. In both instances, I will refrain from using any filters or enhancers (except in the case of professional photos that someone else took, I have no control over those filters or enhancers). This is a little experiment just for me. I want to see how it changes or does not change my perception on “presenting myself.” 

Wish me luck! 

See what I mean? The left is a selfie with filters. The right is a picture taken by a family member sans filter. 

Where I’m From 

Where I’m From 

I am from back roads, from wintergreen Skoal and empty pop cans.

I am from a work in progress 

(Naked floors, peeled wallpaper with the promise of the weekend.) 

I am from corn fields that hide secrets and bucks that have eyes. 

I am from rootbeer floats and opinionated women, from Sterling, from Hazel. 

I’m from the inappropriate and the less than punctual. 

From “it’s right under your nose” and “you always wait till the last minute.” 

I am from Sunday school twice a year and no amens. 

I’m from covered bridges and “Blue and White, Let’s Fight!”, Donald’s Donuts and Adornetto’s pizza. 

From the rice grandpa refused to eat, the frozen cow patties and blue eyes and brown hair. 

I am from old cigar boxes, Rubbermaid containers and every nook and cranny in three states. 

I am from dust and ashes, a gun metal casket my sister helped pick out, and a never ending sense of Deja vu. 

I am from those moments of the could haves, should haves, and now I’ll never have the chance to. 

This poem is my adaptation of George Ella Lyons’ with the same title.

He is There

I am so happy to share that (drumroll please) my kitchen renovation is about halfway complete! 

I have been pulling double shifts and painting until midnight. Tonight I was overcome with an overwhelming emotion of school girl giddiness. I can attempt to explain it no other way. I was painting away and I looked around the room and I felt some peace. Yes, peace and excitement, at the same time. All I could imagine was my family all together in our new kitchen. I could see my kiddos eating their pancakes at the table. I could see me running around and grabbing requested items, coffee cup in hand. I could picture my hubs shaking his head as our oldest squeezed too much syrup on to his fluffy pile of flapjacks. 

I have been dreaming of this kitchen for two years now. Thanks to my mom and stepdad, it has finally started to look like something from my dreams. Mom has been my coach. She explains the process of the things we are doing and she double and triple checks my work. She gives me advice and she has been the visionary on the plans for what I wanted. My stepdad is just an all-around craftsman. He can build just about anything! It truly is amazing to see someone make ideas become reality. I honestly hope that my children can learn so much from him in the years to come. I want them to be independent young men who are not afraid to craft awesomeness. 

The school year can be such a stressful time for us. I look forward to many happy Saturday mornings spent in the improved space. I promise to post “after” pictures when I have everything completed and things are in their rightful places. Right now…I will share a few from before we got started.

Also, I wanted to say a special thank you to my dad. He has been on my mind during this whole project. In the midst of night, while I am in there painting away, he is heavy in my heart. I feel like my sweat and tears are helping me to breath some of his soul into this kitchen. I feel he would be proud of my trying to do something challenging and fulfilling. I feel he would want me to have a happy place as my stress-free zone. I feel…him. He is there. He is happy. He is my peace. 

True Writers 

I have self-diagnosed Tramatic Induced Writer’s Block. I have some sweet, supportive friends who have been asking me why I haven’t been writing. 

 I haven’t been writing because almost six months ago my dad died suddenly. He was 59 years old. I rode to Ohio in a car with my husband and two small children for sixteen hours. I made a long list of hard decisions about his death and his wishes. We picked out a casket. We decided on flower arrangements and color combinations. We searched for his will. I saw my dad’s lifeless body for the first time since he left us at the airport two months before. I replayed the only two voicemails I had saved from him on my phone 10 times in an hour. I watched my sister, my aunt, my uncle and my dad’s fiancée cry during arrangement discussions. I talked to everyone who spoke to me. I accepted condolences, I shook hands, I smiled sweetly. I listened to stories. I engaged in conversations. I tried to explain things to my 3 year-old son. I worked hard to maintain a dignified composure. I talked to God. I slept a little. I ate a little. I got mad. 

I got mad. I got mad. I got mad. I was so angry at my dad for dying. I was mad at him for being an alcoholic. I was mad at him for not caring enough about me, my sister, or our kids to stop drinking. I was mad at him for choosing a life that basically meant he was choosing to die. I was mad at myself for not telling him how stupid he was. I was mad at him for not realizing how stupid he was. I was mad at my sister because she could be emotional about our dad dying. I was mad because I knew the morning I got the phone call that my dad was in the hospital that he wasn’t leaving alive. Why did I know that? Why did I speak my last words to a lifeless body on the other end of the receiver 1,100 miles away and all the while in the back of my head, I knew I was speaking to no one? 

Have I worked through some of these issues? Not really. 

My writer’s block has nothing and everything to do with my father dying. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a writer. I have spent a whole decade trying to define what a writer really is. I think I have condensed it to a few short ideas. 

A true writer is

Not afraid; but careful. 

A true writer 

Longs for adventure, but remains present. 

A true writer 

makes decisions, avoids life, struggles, dances in the rain, complains, raises children, listens, makes bad decisions, has highs and lows, drinks wine, is a bad friend, loves unconditionally, is loyal, over analyzes, dreams, has high expectations, gets complaciant, gets mad, writes. 

A true writer, writes. 

Writers write. 

It’s simple. 

You still teach me something every day. 


It feels very awkward as you try to sort through the thoughts and stages of grief after someone passes. I had sixteen hours in the car to work on mine. 

Dad, where do I start?

Let’s start at the end….or what I hope to be your brand new beginning. 

Our dad worked 38 1/2 years for the same company. Last month, after almost two years of talking about it, he decided to retire. He called me after he finished his last physical day of work and said he hadn’t slept that well in years. I know what an amazing feeling that must have been for him, the man didn’t sleep at night. 

Two years ago, he got a special gift, a grandson on his birthday. I’m so very grateful that my son will forever share that special day with his papa D and that my sister and I were able to give him four grandchildren that he knew and had the chance to love. 

Five years ago, he took turns walking my sister and I down the aisle. The year before, he was skeptical, but supportive, when I told him I was moving to Texas. 

Before that, my sister and I had first jobs, graduations, proms, first driving experiences, first boyfriends, soccer games, cheer practice, dance recitals, first days of school, first steps,and first words. Our dad was there. He was there for all of those things. 

Our dad was so many things to so many people, strangers included.  I remember one day, we were riding in his truck and we came to an intersection were a man’s car was stalled. Dad pulled into the nearest parking lot and got out and helped the man push his car. My 7 year-old self sat watching from behind the dash. When the car was moved out of the way and the man had more help, dad returned to the truck and got in. Once we started moving again, I asked my Dad, “Did you know that man?” 

Of course he didn’t. 

Confused by this, I followed up, 

“then why did you help him?”

His response? 

“Because one day, that could be you, and I would want someone to help you if I wasn’t there.”

Dad loved to laugh, he loved to make others laugh. 

Once, my dad said he was going to the store and asked if my sister and I wanted to go. Both Caitlyn and I said we did. I was downstairs waiting (if you ever went somewhere with dad, let’s be honest, you were going to be waiting) and here comes my sister skipping into the room wearing his  Beevis and Butthead T-shirt that went to her knees, with no pants,  water balloons stuffed into one of mom’s bras, a pair of reading glasses and a long stragley looking wig. I took one look at her and said, “you aren’t wearing that.” My sister looked immediately hurt and turned to my dad. 

“Dad, do I have to change?”

Dad, without skipping a beat said, “Nope, you don’t have to change.” 

One of the greatest things about our father is that although he is no longer with us, he will always live in spirit through the stories we all have. Everyone has witnessed him do something crazy ridiculous or they have seen him do something kind. I encourage you all to share those stories as much as you can, because it’s the laughter and smiles that will forever make him present.

And, I would just like to end by saying something that dad always told us. 

“Hey, it’s going to be okay.”