Category Archives: life

Why I’ll Always Be Grateful To Amy Bleuel

You may not know the name Amy Bleuel.

I didn’t either, until this week, although I was very well aware of her work.  Amy was the founder of Project Semicolon, a movement that provides hope for those who struggle with depression, suicide ideation or attempts, self-harm, and addiction.  Its symbol, which rapidly became a sign of hope and unity, is the semicolon …. a visual message that is at once simple and profound.  Your story isn’t over.

As the website explains:

“In literature, an author uses a semicolon to not end a sentence but to continue on. We see it as you are the author and your life is the sentence. You’re choosing to keep going.”

I first heard of Project Semicolon last year, when semicolons started popping up everywhere.  It’s hard to explain what it meant to me, this discovery at a time when I was at my lowest of lows, desperate for something – anything –  to make me feel less invisible;  to remind me that I wasn’t alone;  to remind me that yes, I really could put one foot in front of the other for just one more day.

I got my semicolon tattoo last August, three months after I’d begun treatment for bipolar.  Most people were getting them on their wrists at the time, but they were also showing up on ankles, and shoulders, and behind ears … incorporated into quotes and butterflies and sleeves … on feet and calves and backs…  Semicolons, semicolons everywhere.  People were outwardly identifying themselves to other mental health warriors, and the whole thing was beautiful and unifying and filled with hope.  I chose to put mine on that squishy part of the inner side of my wrist, the spot right at the base of where my thumb starts.  It was, and is, my most meaningful tattoo to date, and it is no exaggeration when I say that it reminds me daily (some days I need it more than others) to keep going.

And it all started with the vision of Amy Bleuel.

This past week, Amy died by suicide at the young age of 31, and even though I didn’t personally know her… even though I didn’t even know her name until it happened… the loss left me deeply and profoundly sad.

Her death hit the most tender spot of one of my biggest fears:  that no matter how strong, or how brave, or how involved in advocacy one may be… sometimes the illness just wins.  Sometimes people get tired, and can’t fight anymore.  I’m not going to lie:  That reality terrifies me.  It’s always there, in the back of my mind.  Sometimes it’s more buried than others, but it’s still present, just below the surface.  Amy Bleuel’s death reminded me of that fear in the most heartbreaking of ways.

It also scared me for what it could mean for those in the Project Semicolon community.  Those who’d looked up to Amy, and to her work, as a sign of encouragement and inspiration.

What I realized though was that her death that doesn’t in any way invalidate her message.  In fact, it makes her message even more important now than ever before.  It reminds us that life is precious, and at times so very tenuous.  We’re all human.  We’re all doing the best we can.  And just as Amy taught us: as long as we are here, our story isn’t over.  Even if we have to take it one day at a time, or sometimes, just one moment at a time…

We’re still here.

I’m still here.

You’re still here.

Our story isn’t over.

And though the illness took her physical body, Amy’s story isn’t over either.  She still lives on and gives hope through the tireless work that united us all.  She lives on in the countless semicolons that she inspired.  She lives on because she reminded us to fight.

Because of Amy Bleuel, because of her life and her death, I’ll now fight even harder.

So thank you, Amy… for the strength, for the inspiration, for the so very sorely needed message of hope.  May you find the peace that you weren’t able to find in the physical world, and rest knowing that the rest of us are carrying on … just as you would have wanted.






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Filed under depression, life


Photo by Nadia, via Flickr

Photo by Nadia, via Flickr

7:56 AM

I can’t breathe.

I don’t mean that in a figurative sense (though clearly, I’m not taking a whole lot of figurative deep breaths either)

I mean I literally can’t breathe, thanks to the cold that took residence a week and a half ago and seems to have no plans to vacate.

I’m a mouth-breather.

With the chapped lips to prove it.

And there’s the cough and the runny nose and the coughing and snoring 8 year old who’s been sleeping beside me, and the coughing and snoring 42 year old who’s also been sleeping beside me.

And the dog with diarrhea – which really has nothing to do with a cold, and is a just another small part of the whole reason I am not sleeping again.

Or still.

Is “again” really the right word when I haven’t really slept for as long as I can remember?

I almost said in “forever”, but forever’s almost never a fair word, and I’m pretty sure I slept when I was a kid.

I’m not allowed to complain about the dog, because he’s not supposed to be here in the first place.

He was a stray, abandoned on a desert dirt road.  And I didn’t know it at the time, but I needed him, just as much as he needed me.

We didn’t choose him.  But he chose me.  I saved him from the harsh desert, but really…. he saved me.

And now he has diarrhea.

I’m tired, so very tired, and only partly because of the diarrhea.

And the cold.

And the lack of sleep.

And the lack of breathing.

It’s mostly because my brain Doesn’t.  Stop.  Thinking.

At all.  Ever.

My therapist tells me I shouldn’t expect an on/off switch (which is good, because I’m certain such a thing doesn’t exist, at least not for me)

He does say that I should be able to dial it down though.

I think he’s lying.

Or my dial is broken.

BROKEN, I tell you.

It’s forever stuck – except forever’s almost never a fair word – stuck on the highest setting.

Like the Vitamix, when you flip it up all the way up to that mega setting that shows it you mean business.

The one that makes your teeth rattle, and keep your hand on the cover for fear that your banana berry Jamba Juice smoothie knock-off is going to end up all over the damn kitchen ceiling.

Only instead of blending up a banana berry Jamba Juice smoothie knock-off, my brain is blending up a soup of regret, and hope, and worry, and problem solving, and wondering, and religion and politics and pop culture and the kids and the pets, and the thing I said to my best friend’s brother when I was seven, and the mistake I made when I was 22, and my to-do list for the next 24 hours and the next 24 years, and the question of whether or not I’ll even be given another 24 years, or hours.

I want to dial it down.

I do.  I DO.

But I don’t know how.

And so I do the only thing I know to do and I sit.

And I drink my coffee and I try to breathe.

Except I can’t breathe thanks to the cold that took residence a week and a half ago and seems to have no plans to vacate.

I’m a mouth-breather.

And I’m tired.

8:06 AM



Filed under about me, life, random


Photo Credit: Ivo Ivov

Photo Credit: Ivo Ivov

I’ve been sick for the past six months.

I’ll spare you my laundry list of symptoms, both because it’s boring and because I’m so tired of thinking about it, but they concerned my doctor enough to order a CT, an ultrasound, and blood work, and eventually led her to send me to an oncologist. HE was concerned enough to order still more blood work – 12 vials in fact – and a whole-body PET scan.

None of the above gave us any answers.  On paper, I’m the healthiest sick person that ever lived.  My next step is an infectious disease doctor, not because anyone really thinks I have an infectious disease, but because they do the kind of detective work necessary to diagnose these weird and hard-to-figure-out whatever-the-heck-this-thing-is that’s been making my life miserable since last spring.

It’s frustrating feeling terrible and limited every day and not knowing why.  It’s even more frustrating to feel like you’re going through it all alone.  This summer was truly one of the loneliest summers of my life.  And that doesn’t sound right, does it?  Feeling lonely in a house full of six people?  But it’s exactly how I’ve felt. And I’ve learned that feeling alone amongst other people is a far more harrowing feeling than feeling alone when you’re actually… well, alone.  I never feel lonely when I’m by myself.  But when I’m around other people?  I’ve become an expert at it.

And I can never figure out if it’s actually real life  (Is it real?  Have I really created a life with so few people to support me when I need it?), or if it’s simply a product of manifestation….combined and created somewhere in the abyss of physical pain and the inevitable depression that comes with it.

Whatever the case, I’ve been resting there:  Holding on tightly to the simultaneous frustration and safety of my own self-pity.

I don’t recommend it.

I have missed writing so very much (just one of many things I’ve missed in the past several months) but even when I have gotten the energy to sit at my computer, I put my fingers to the keyboard…… and there’s nothing there but a wordless, guttural whine.

Then yesterday I finally heard something that helped, if only a tiny bit.  In a classic case of “the right thing at the right time,”  I was watching a movie with my groom, and what was meant to be entertainment ended up being inspiration.   Between me not feeling well, and him being exhausted from work, and the both of us spending all our spare minutes getting everything tied up for the conference, we’ve been desperately clinging to our lazy Saturday morning movie-while-we-drink-our-coffee dates whenever we can get them.  Anyway, yesterday we were watching this movie, and there was a scene where one of the characters, an angst-ridden teenager, was standing on the precipice of a cliff, contemplating ending his life.  His panicked family had all gathered around, and were literally trying to talk him down from the edge.  They were delivering a fairly standard issue, “you have so much to live for” motivational speech, and eventually told him,

“Shit’s temporary!”*

And in that moment, those words were the much-needed balm to my weary and battered soul. It’s temporary.  It’s ALL temporary.  And yes, I get that there’s nothing new or revelatory about that observation, but it was something that I’d forgotten…. and forgotten so deeply that I didn’t even remember that I’d forgotten it.  I’m always the first person to reassure new moms that their toddler’s frustrating experiments with biting or throwing or shoving things into the DVD player drawer is but a season.  It’s temporary.  Why on earth wouldn’t that apply to adults as well?

Trials are temporary.  Frustrations are temporary.  LIFE is temporary.  And I needed the reminder to sit tight, put on my galoshes, and get out there and dance in the storm.  It’s a season, bringing whatever lessons it’s going to bring.

I feel like I’ve spent so much time chasing things.  Chasing answers, chasing peace, chasing rest.  And I think that sometimes you need to just stop chasing.  Stop moving.  Just stop.  Stop and remember that it’s all just…. fleeting.  I’ll feel better, or I won’t.  But either way, it’s still temporary, because it’s ALL temporary.

I don’t know what’s going to happen next for me, or this blog, or all my plans that have gotten put on hold with my health issues.  But for the first time in a long time, I’m pretty okay with not knowing.  And the next time I’m not okay (because I do know there will be a next time), the next time I give in to the stress and the fatigue and the frustration of it all, I hope I can remember that no matter what it is… whatever negative, stagnant yuck I’m feeling…

that it’s only temporary.


*(Sorry I said shit.  Sorry I said it again)




Filed under about me, health, learning, life




I’m not personally really big on video games, but my kids are all passionate players of video games of all kinds. One of the things I like about video games is that the game is never truly over.  If you’re killed, you’ve often got another life in your queue.  Even if you’ve used up all your lives, you get that sad “Womp womp womp” music, and the words “Game Over” flash on the screen, it’s still just a matter of re-starting the game,  Sure, you might have to start over from the beginning, but you’re never really done.

In Star Stable, one of the games I play with the seven year old, your horse never dies.  It gets sad if you don’t feed it and brush it often enough…. but it always forgives you once you start taking better care of it.  And you can fall off of cliffs (something I do a lot, because apparently I’m as clumsy in pixelated-horse-rider form as I am in real life, walking-down-the-street form), but it just results in a whinny and a little pop-up message that says you’ve “taken a dangerous fall, but your horse has miraculously survived.”   Then it spawns you and your horse back to the top of the cliff, no worse for the wear.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because for the past month or so, my real life has been way off-line. I’ve been fighting off some sort of virus for what feels like forever, one that’s so persistent I’m still coughing a good four weeks after it all started.   I’ve gotten completely out of my normal routine.  I haven’t been sleeping. Housework has piled up, projects have piled up, emails have piled up.   This past weekend, I was so distracted that I did something I never do and flaked out on something I promised I’d help someone with.  Just straight-up forgot about it. And even though I apologized, I’m still heavy with the guilt of having let someone I care about down.  I feel stressed out and frustrated, but beyond that I feel a disproportionate sense of…. failure. Perfectionism kicks in, and I feel like I’ve been failing on all fronts.  And when that happens, I have a tendency to get depressed and defeatist, which of course only exacerbates the problem.  I literally start to feel like I’ll never get back in my groove, even though I know intellectually that that’s not the case.

So, I’ve decided I need to start giving myself more grace, and treating life like a video game. Yeah, there will be times I’ll get off track, get lost, use up all my energy pellets, fall off the cliff. But it doesn’t mean it’s time to quit the game.  It’s just time to re-group, that’s all.  And to give it a positive spin, it’s the best opportunity to re-establish goals, adjust priorities, and assess what sort of prize you’re actually pursuing,  It’s a chance to return your focus to where it needs to be, and not let it be complicated by the pesky little distractions of the game.

I’ve been reading a lot about meditation lately, and one thing that I find really interesting is that most people mistakenly think that the real work of meditation is emptying your mind of all thoughts, when really the opposite is true.  Your meditation muscle is flexed when all the random, fleeting, unhelpful thoughts do come…. and you gently and persistently (and over and over and over again) return your thoughts to peace and quiet, or to God, or to your mantra.  It’s something that gets easier over time, but it needs to be practiced, to be sure.

That’s where I am right now.  I’ve fallen off the cliff and I’ve gotten distracted by the proverbial fly buzzing in the yoga practitioner’s ear.  IT’S OKAY.  It’s just time to re-focus.  To get ready to re-start.  To gently accept the negative thoughts, but then let them go.  To breathe deeply, to shake off the insecurities, and trust….. trust that it’s okay to be human,  trust that there’s nothing wrong with having to start over, trust that starting over just means another chance to get it right.

Trust that if you just hang tight, your horse will re-spawn to the top of the cliff, and you’ll be off and riding again.



Filed under life, perspective


There’s a scene in the movie, Mean Girls, that’s been on a continuous loop in my head (Mean Girls, by the way, is a movie you should immediately watch when you’re done reading this. One of the most ridiculous and quotable cult classics ever). In this one scene, the guidance counselor is doing a team-building exercise with all the girls in the school, and they’re taking turns getting up onto the stage in the gym, apologizing publicly for something, then trust-falling into the arms of the crowd below. This one girl gets up, in tears, and says:

“I wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school… I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy…”

Someone yells from behind the crowd, “She doesn’t even go to this school!”

And when asked if she does attend, the girl responds through her tears,

“No…. I just have a lot of feelings…”


It’s of course played to be funny, and it was funny… but it also kind of breaks my heart a little. Because I AM the girl with all the feelings. Mike and I will often joke that one of the things that makes our marriage work is that we’re opposite but complimentary extremes in so many ways.

He has no feelings. I have ALL the feelings. Sometimes Often Pretty much all the time, I walk through life as one big, weeping, bleeding feeling.    And often my grasp on not drowning on said feelings is… tenuous.

It’s a great paradox to me as a writer, because so very much of who I am comes from that same, raw, tender spot in my heart.  The part of me that makes me creative, that allows me to share, that enables me to use words to paint pictures is the same part that makes me so, so sensitive to the fallout.  The same part that makes sharing so painful and vulnerable in the first place.  Sometimes it just doesn’t seem fair that I seem to so badly need to share myself in some way, and at the same time have such difficulty dealing with what comes along with it.

I want to pull down my blog (along with my personal online presence) at least once a week.  I know when I’m headed for protective, breakdown mode when that desire starts to get more frequent.  Lately, I’ve been wanting to do it approximately 17 times a day.  I’ve not been in a good place emotionally, and coupled with not sleeping, the simplest of negative online interactions are making me unravel.

Yesterday I was the recipient of some unkindness from someone I went to church with about a hundred years ago.  I entered into a highly charged topic of discussion on Facebook, against my better judgement, and was rewarded by having my parenting decisions and my intelligence attacked and disparaged.  The parenting attacks get me the most, because it is so very, very personal.  It’s my life’s work.  My heart.  My soul.  I’ve been a parent for 18 years, and I’m a good parent.  And coming from a fellow Christian?  Those tend to be the conversations that sting the most, because 1) I am still carrying a lot of hurt and damage from my church upbringing, and interactions like that just rip off the barely formed scab, so I’m basically walking around as an open wound that never gets the chance to heal, and 2) I still have the silly notion that we’re supposed to be… I don’t know…. nice to each other.

It just about undid me.

And when I got up this morning, after another night of tossing and turning and not having slept, and sat down at my computer to write a new post… there was nothing there.  Nothing helpful or positive or witty anyway.  Just brokenness and fatigue.  Someone once told me, one of the last times I shared a similar post, that perhaps a personal journal would be a more appropriate place for such thoughts.  Well I have a journal.  It’s a veritable uncensored stream of emotions and crazy.  But this blog is journal-like too, in that it’s streaming from the same personal, tender place.  It’s just a “tone down the crazy in case my mom reads it” (even though she doesn’t) version.

So why am I sharing?  In equal parts for myself – it’s cathartic for my weary soul to transfer it from my head to the screen – and for you, too.  I think it’s only fair that if  I share the happy and the upbeat and the positive, that I should also share the positively broken open.

I’m not going anywhere.  I’m still here.  Still writing.  Still reading your comments.

I’m just a little fragile.  And I’m the girl with all the feelings.  So if you’ve been waiting for just the right time to start following the adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” right now would be great.

And if you held your arms up and caught me when I trust-falled off the stage, that would be great too.



Filed under about me, life, random

Choosing Joy

I made a little video.  I’ve never made a video like this (and don’t plan to do it again) but I don’t know…. I started thinking about talking about fear, and I kept seeing the words in my head as little blurbs instead of one long written-out thing.

I apologize for the unprofessional-looking video, but it was my eighth attempt and I finally decided that I was just going to believe that you’d appreciate the message and forgive the imperfections.  🙂



Filed under learning, life, parenting, trust, unschooling



Just over three weeks ago, I had surgery on my shoulder.  It was a revision for a previous surgery, 2 years ago this month.  The whole thing started in May of 2012, and the only reason I’ll always remember that is that it was Mother’s Day weekend, and we’d spent the weekend camping with friends.  (Here’s the original post on that) There were better days here and there, but I basically haven’t had a pain free day for 2 1/2 years.

This time around, he repaired some stuff from the first surgery – an anchor was rubbing every time I moved, so he removed that, as well as cleaned up new tears, scar tissue and arthritis that had developed.  He also did something called a biceps tenodesis, which basically means that he detached the bicep on one end, and literally moved it and reattached in a new place further down my arm to take the pressure off my shoulder.  I have a permanent metal button that’s holding it to the bone.  Crazy, right?  I know from experience that recovering from the work on the shoulder (the labrum, in this case) is no picnic, but it’s actually the bicep piece that’s going to be the most frustrating recovery, in the sense that it requires the most restriction – and patience! – to heal properly.

I spent the first two weeks after the surgery on the couch…. taking painkillers, eating comfort food, and logging more hours canoodling with Netflix and Playon than I care to admit (I knew I’d reached a particular low when I started re-watching the original Melrose Place from the very first episode.)  It’s a frustrating feeling, having to be waited on. I’m not very good at it.  And the whole thing was compounded by the fact that it only took a couple of days before I was feeling sad, lonely, and embarrassingly sorry for myself.

I was longing, literally longing, for someone to show up at the door with baked goods, or coffee, or just themselves, and sit and keep me company and give me something positive to chat about for awhile.  My sister, who scored some major good sister points, did exactly that a couple of times.  And when a dear out-of-state friend happened to be in town visiting another mutual friend, they stopped over as well, bearing cupcakes and hugs and conversation, just two days after the surgery.   And I did get one sweet card in the mail.  Other than that, it was pretty much radio silence (save for dire warnings about the addictive nature of the painkillers I was taking), from friends and family alike, and it made me…. mopey.   How hard is it to pick up a phone, I’d think, and send a get-well text?  Or ask if I needed anything?  

I know;  self-pity is an undeniably unattractive thing, but it’s exactly what I felt.   I was a spectacle.  Moping around in my sweatpants and my sling, wearing the same shirt for days because it was just too much painful work to change it, hopped up on drugs (that I’ve since stopped taking, but at the time genuinely needed and got chastised like a unruly dog for taking). I was a zombie from not sleeping, so I tried the Ambien my doctor prescribed, which only caused a horrible reaction that kept me up all night  (I got chastised for taking that too.)  I was literally starting to gain weight – over the course of just two weeks! – because of my inactivity and the general volume of non-nutritive food I was eating.  My upper arm had a really weird, creepy looking new shape to it that I feared was permanent.   And to top it all off, I felt like I had no friends.

(Ha.  I just re-read that last paragraph, and is it any wonder no one came to visit?  🙂 Who’d want to spend time with that miserable person? God bless my crazy sister.)

Last Monday, I started physical therapy, which even though I knew it would be painful, was a huge positive step in my recovery.  For a lot of people, going to physical therapy reduces their pain…. but when you go to re-gain strength and range of motion after a surgery, it actually causes pain, at least in the beginning.  On a side note, it amazes me the movements we take for granted until we can’t do them anymore, like straightening out your elbow, or raising your arm up over your head.   Anyway, I decided on that first day that I would use that pain as a reminder of the healing that’s going on.  It’s truly amazing when you think about it…  tendons and muscles and bone, all slowly slowly knitting themselves back together.  Every day getting just a little bit stronger, every day getting just a little more flexible.  I never properly healed from the first surgery (or, I guess more accurately, I never had a break in between healing from the first one, and dealing with the subsequent problems it caused) but I know I can’t let that allow me to think I won’t properly heal from this one.   Being a revision, by its very nature it’s going to be “messier” than the first one.  In other words, I shouldn’t be expecting to reach 100%.  But 80% sounds wonderful right now.  And I’ll get there.  I will.

Slowly, painfully, I’ll heal.

And so it goes with my shoulder and my sorry, sad-sack attitude.  I’ll heal.  It’s funny how something as simple as a surgery and its accompanying rehab can suddenly propel a person (again) into full-fledged mid-life crisis mode, but that’s exactly what it’s done.   And it’s a good thing!  It’s time once again to look at my life, evaluate what’s important, what’s not, and work to eliminate the latter.   So as my shoulder and arm heal, so will the rest of me.  I guarantee it’ll be painful at times, just like with physical therapy, but the pain will eventually reveal something brighter, clearer, and stronger.  With each appointment, each ice pack, each Advil, each good night’s sleep, I’ll heal.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s but a blip.  I indulged myself for two weeks, and now it’s time to move on.

To healing, even when it hurts.




Filed under about me, health, life

A (Sort Of) Weekend Getaway

I’ve always wanted to go to Seattle.  We’ve lived in Arizona for going on nine years now, and it somehow seemed more likely that I’d finally get to go.  Arizona’s on the same side of the country at least.  But nope.  We’ve driven back across to the east coast twice now.  Gone to Florida.  Gone to Chicago.  Went to the San Francisco area once, San Diego a handful of times.

But no Seattle.

Well, because life is funny and ironic (and/or because God has a sense of humor), the husband and I are going on a last-minute trip to Seattle tomorrow, in the midst of a million other things that we have going on …. and we’re going to be there exactly long enough to sign all the paper work and pick up a car we just bought, and get in said car to begin the 20+ hour drive home.  No more, no less.  My first instinct was to have it shipped, because it wasn’t a super great time for a road trip  – even from someplace fun like Seattle – but it turns out that having it shipped would cost a good $500 more than flying up and driving it home ourselves.

So, yay?

My new ride.  Tegan has already named it Cinnamon.

My new ride. Tegan has already named it Cinnamon.

It’ll be a little adventure, and adventures are always a good thing.  And I DO get to see Seattle, however briefly. Mostly though, I’m happy that once we get the new car home we can put this particular stress to rest, and get on with our lives.  Ever since the accident, and all the accompanying…. stuff… to take care of, I have felt completely tapped out. The final little placement on the house of cards that made the whole thing crumble.

Now though, I’ll be able to cross something big off that ever-present cosmic to-do list, and move on to the next: In this case, tying up the 345 loose ends for the conference that is coming in less than four weeks, whether we’re ready or not; and getting my surgery scheduled for October so I can start praying that the second time is the charm.

And so it goes.

I came across this quote this morning, and found it rather perfect:


Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path, and you will find you have crossed the mountain.  ~ Author unknown




Filed under adventures, life, random

The Jar of Pickles


Everett (10 years old at the time of this writing) has a thing for dill pickles.  Every time we go grocery shopping, everyone is welcome to make whatever requests they’d like…. and his requests contain pickles 100% of the time.  It’s not at all out-of-character for him to ask to stop for pickles at random times either, like when we’re coming home from swimming.  Or gymnastics.  Or the mail box.  Once we walked to the dollar store – around a mile away – and came home with a few things, including pickles.  The bag broke on the way home, when we were literally across the street from our house.  Glass shattered, pickles everywhere.  We carefully picked up the mess, and I told him we’d get a replacement for him the next time we went out.  It was very sad, but was redeemed a little bit by the fact that I got to amuse myself by imagining the neighbors (whose house it broke in front of) coming home, sniffing, and saying to one another, “Do you smell…. pickles??”

When Everett gets pickles, the jar is opened, and the pickles are finished before it is ever closed again.  He does share… but for the most part, he polishes off the whole jar largely by himself.  I will joke with him that there IS such a thing as having a few pickles and then putting the rest of the jar in the fridge…. and he will respond with something along the lines of, “That’s MADNESS!”

Yesterday, he was eating the last pickle in his jar, and he suddenly said, “Do you know WHY I eat the whole jar of pickles?”


“Because.  If I died, or the world ended, before I got to go back for more, my last meal would have been a single pickle.  Think about it.  Would you rather your last meal be one little pickle, or a whole JAR of pickles?”


So there you go.  Important, irrefutable (if a tad morbid) life advice from Everett.

Eat the whole damn jar of pickles.



Filed under Everett, life

Look For the Helpers

The kids and I got into a car accident today.

I’ve had little “incidents” before, but this was the first, bonafide, real-deal car accident.  And it was terrifying.  We were on our way to my sister’s house to swim (after a three hour long doctor’s appt, one of many appointments we’ve had this week, just because that’s been the way our life’s been going lately), and about three minutes from the house, this happened:


It was one of those things that somehow happened in a fraction of a millisecond, and in slow-motion all at the same time.  There was nothing I could have done to stop it from happening.

Now, the police officer at the scene very clearly deemed the other driver at fault.  But I’m not sure how this all works – and I watch too much TV – so I’m not sure if I’m supposed to give details.  Suffice it to say that there was an accident that involved another car, and my car was totaled.

As is so often the case when anything scary happens, I’m finding myself replaying it over and over in my mind. The second it happened, the fear in the kids’ voices, Tegan’s terrified tears, the relief in realizing we appeared to be okay, the long aftermath of phone calls and questions and insurance and tow trucks…..

Several minutes after it happened, I was introduced to one of the passengers in the other car when she came over to yell at me.  Is it really strange that that moment was just as traumatic as the accident itself?  I know intellectually that she’d been scared too, and I know intellectually that it’s normal to react in a less-than-positive way when you’re in that situation.  But in the moment, I thought of none of that.  I was busy thinking about my children, the fact that they could have been seriously injured, the fact that I could have been seriously injured. Getting yelled at and accused (for something that was not my fault) set me over the edge.  But she was gone as quickly as she had arrived.  She said her piece and left me standing there with the kids, and then we all convened with the cop for statements and exchanging of information.

I said nothing from that point on, except to answer the officer’s questions.  The only thing I knew to do, largely for self-preservation, was to keep quiet while it all got sorted out.  I’m pretty sure that I was operating on adrenaline for the whole exchange, because it wasn’t until much much later, when I was safely in my sister’s car after mine had gotten towed, that I started to shake.

You know how people say they are “shaken up” after accidents?  I now have first-hand knowledge.

It’s about 8 hours later, and I’ve let myself get more and more worked up about it as the hours have passed.  I’m a little bit scared to go to bed, because I’m fairly certain I’ll have nightmares (and/or not sleep at all.  Six of one, half dozen of the other)  I am so, so, thankful that it wasn’t worse.  So thankful!  Not just for us, but for the other car as well.  I’m so thankful we were wearing seat belts.  I’m so thankful that it happened when it did instead of a few seconds earlier, when it would have been much much serious.  I’m so thankful for insurance.

And right now, I’m thankful for Mister Rogers, whose words popped into my mind like a healing balm for my wounded and stressed out soul:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Those helpers are the ones I’ll be thinking of when I go to sleep.

~ The woman who called 911

~ The young men who witnessed the accident, were so sweet to my kids, and stood and waited with us until the cops came, to make sure they could give him their statement of what they saw

~ The doctor who happened to be driving by and stopped to see if we were all okay

~ The man in the Quik Trip who brought us out cold bottles of water while we waited

~ My sister, who got right in her car and came down to pick us all up

It was an unpleasant, scary situation to be sure.  And big deal, I was yelled at by one single person….


Because I was helped by so many more.



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