5 Important Life Lessons I Learned While My Dad Taught Me to Drive

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My oldest in 2004. She’ll be driving for real in a year.

“Ready?” he asks.

“Um, yeah. I think so,” I say. I shift the car into drive and gingerly lift my foot from the brake.

“Give it a little gas,” he says. I do and the car lurches forward like an overly ambitious toddler taking his first steps. I quickly slam on the brakes and we both whip back in our seats, our seat belts yanking tight.

“Rule number one,” says my dad. “Always wear a seat belt. Okay, let’s try again.”

Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, in the mid-’80s meant I was eligible for a full driver’s license at 16. A few months before my birthday, my dad and I embarked on a series of weekend driving lessons, commandeering empty lots and deserted side streets. As an overly eager teen, I figured a few quick tutorials were all I needed to hit the road. Turns out I had a lot to learn. Here’s what my dad taught me about driving—and life: Continue reading “5 Important Life Lessons I Learned While My Dad Taught Me to Drive”

Making Room on Mother’s Day

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My people, minus Josh who was still in the kitchen.

I woke up dazed and confused: this was not my pillow or my comforter. A Playmobil queen and her entourage stared at me from the other side of the room while a ginger-haired mermaid gazed sweetly down at me from the wall. Even more unsettling was the glowing yellow-faced clock that announced it was 9:04 a.m., two hours past my typical wake up time. Where the heck was I?

Then I remembered: I’d stumbled into my youngest daughter’s room sometime in the early morning when she’d come bouncing into our bed, awake for the day. Without saying a word, I’d padded down the hall, slipped into her slim twin bed and fell soundly back to sleep. Isn’t sleeping in what moms do on Mother’s Day?

Continue reading “Making Room on Mother’s Day”

The Life I’m Living: Car Accidents, Job Descriptions and Making Turkey Meatballs

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I am wrist deep in raw eggs and ground turkey, basil, rosemary and thyme. The peach-colored meat squishes through my fingers as I mix it with the homemade breadcrumbs I just pulverized out of gluten-free pretzels. It’s 1:30 in the afternoon and I am standing in my stinky morning workout clothes making turkey meatballs for dinner. I am telling you this because I do not like to cook. I do not enjoy the thinking up of a meal, the shopping for and prepping. I do not like managing the timeline of dinner, serving up various dishes nice and hot. I do not like begging my kids to please come to the table, not in a minute, but now. The day-long journey into dinner distracts me, pulling me away from a million other more important, more interesting, more pressing thoughts, endeavors and pursuits. It’s that annoying fly that won’t go away no matter how many times I swat at it.

Except somehow, today, it isn’t. Continue reading “The Life I’m Living: Car Accidents, Job Descriptions and Making Turkey Meatballs”

What I Learned On the Last Day of the Year

Found TreasuresAlmost a month into the new year and finally 2015 is a soft blur, a whirl of high emotion spinning over a constant, blinking beat of down lowness. I grappled with sadness and grasped at spurts of wonder, wanting to hold on to them, pocket them like found treasures: the smoothest amber stone glimmering in the creek bed, the tiniest acorn dropped too soon from the oak, the downiest gray feather clinging to the rose bush. Talismans. Augurs. Omens. Somehow they always slipped away.

I wanted so badly to make sense of each day, drop into bed satisfied and yawning, emerging each morning shining and whole, ready for Joy because – and this is true – Joy is everywhere. It’s right here in the kitchen in the buttered up frying pan, in the sizzling egg. Oh, and here it is again, in the sweet, firm kiss from my husband as I stand against the sink, dirty dishes piling. Now for some more Joy from the tail-wagging dog, her head in my lap, and in the gap-toothed grin of my four-year-old when she comes running to me after putting on her socks by herself. I sweep her up into my arms and…and…and what? I am fleetingly happy in the glow of others’ happiness, but Joy does not seep through my skin, douse my heart and stay. Continue reading “What I Learned On the Last Day of the Year”

Thoughts For the New Year: When a Missing Umbrella Makes Room for Joy

IMG_8169I wanted to write something wise about this past year. I wanted to take a sage look back, bright spots highlighted with gratitude, low points vaguely alluded to then quickly turned on their ears and repackaged as lessons learned. I wanted to recount our family vacations, our celebrations, our laughter. I wanted to write about a few trying moments so I could show how I’ve weathered the storm and come up with a plan for next year. I wanted to smile nostalgically at last year’s blinks of undiluted bliss as I leave the cliffs and crags of 2015 behind me and soar into 2016 with my wings fluttering in the brilliant light of the new year. Continue reading “Thoughts For the New Year: When a Missing Umbrella Makes Room for Joy”

The Right Side of Grateful

photo source: Orion Magazine
photo source: Orion Magazine

It is the day before Thanksgiving and I am driving. The road flattens and curves like a lazy river. Farmland on both sides, one planted in neat little rows, the other dotted with grazing, black cows. The car is stuffed. Duffle bags and pillows, snow gear, three kids and a dog, enough groceries for a month even though we’re only staying four days. We are on the road to Tahoe.

The hour and a half drive to the halfway point is taking double that. Holiday traffic. Everyone running into one another, tapping each other’s bumpers all in a hurry. Cars pull over on the shoulder. We all stop to stare then carry on. Neil Young sings Harvest Moon and I turn it up, hoping the girls will take notice, soak it in. Appreciate. “Because I’m still in love with you, on this harvest moon…” Continue reading “The Right Side of Grateful”