To Jasmeet, With Love

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Originally posted at SheLoves Magazine. Like most children, my first friends were sort of chosen for me—little blonde girls at church whose parents were friends with my parents. But I remember my very first friend who I chose for myself in grade two. Jasmeet joined my class a couple months after school started. I swear she had a smile you could see a mile away and her jet black hair swished across her back in a braid thicker than my arm. Two weeks after she joined our class the … [Read more...]

Wake Up

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Originally posted at SheLoves Magazine. Today the six-year-old told her sister to feel her armpit. She was sweaty and wanted to prove it. I told her, “Chickadee, you do not get to force other people to touch your body. That is not ok. And, also, nobody on earth wants to feel your armpits.” She defiantly announced, “She did want to! She did it. And that means she wanted to.” “That isn’t the same thing. Convincing someone to do something they didn’t actually want to do is called … [Read more...]

We Need to Talk About Race, I’ll Go First

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Originally posted at SheLoves Magazine. I want to say everything and nothing, all at once. My country feels dangerous right now. And because I am white I did not notice the danger until 22 years into my privileged life. At 22, I was living in a primarily black neighborhood in New Orleans. My black nephew was two years old. I saw him in the faces of the kids on my block. I was barely starting to see the disparity between my life and the lives of my neighbors. Barely. Starting. … [Read more...]

On Stolen Wallets and Church and the Beauty of Doubt

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Originally posted at SheLoves Magazine. On Sunday I went to a church service for the first time in two years. My wallet was stolen the night before and in the morning I woke up to news of the mass shooting in Orlando. I was raw. I was broken. And I had my first Sunday off in months. So I walked to church, making sure to be five minutes late so I could sit down in the back and be anonymous. I thought I might splinter into a million pieces. The air seemed heavy, like an August … [Read more...]

Writing and Sweating and Taming Lions

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Originally posted at SheLoves Magazine. Being a writer is like being a lion tamer. Minus the chance you could get mauled to death. If you are a writer you know exactly what I am talking about. Writing is the wild act of wrestling ideas to the ground and then, somehow, fashioning those ideas so they make some kind of logical sense to another human, all the while, using hundreds of little black lines and squiggles on a white backdrop. My coworker and I have started exchanging writing … [Read more...]

For the Love of Big Sisters

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Originally posted at SheLoves Magazine. I didn’t really grow up with my three sisters. The age gap between us meant they grew up with each other and I grew up with my brothers. In my memories, my sisters have always been adults. Even when they weren’t quite old enough to drive, they were old enough to care for me and rescue me and so, of course, that made them grownups. I often tell people my sister Jennifer was the first adult I ever trusted. But we didn’t have that relationship … [Read more...]

Fighting Scarcity, One Compliment at a Time

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  Originally posted at SheLoves Magazine. She walked the power walk that only women who have mastered sloped pavement and four-inch heels can walk. Black cigarette pants and a blazer the hottest shade of hot pink. Her long hair was catching the sunlight and the wind all at once. She was all the things I am not and she was glorious. I marveled at this beautiful stranger marching up the sidewalk. We made eye contact and I announced, “You look amazing.” She didn’t even pause … [Read more...]

I Say Yes to Myself

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Originally posted at SheLoves Magazine. I work in a bakery so I hear a lot of, “Oh I just want it ALL, but I can’t …” or “I really shouldn’t …” Or “What has the least sugar?” I don’t mind so much, but I often want to remind these grown adult humans that they WALKED INTO A BAKERY. The treats here are tasty and they are loaded with sugar, but you made the choice to walk in the door. Last week I must have been having a similar conversation with Marilyn, a kind woman who always takes … [Read more...]

Why Not Me?

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Originally posted at SheLoves Magazine. I was a nervous child. Meeting me today, you would never guess this. I was afraid of so much in the world. High on the list: hell, learning to drive, public speaking, anyone shouting or yelling, being picked last. I spent a lot of my time in my imagination, telling a story of who I would be if I wasn’t so afraid. The girls and women of my imagination were always taller and bolder than the me of my real life. They spoke their minds. They … [Read more...]

Not So Silent Night

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Originally posted at SheLoves Magazine. I didn’t grow up with the Silent Night version of Christmas. Actually, I didn’t grow up with Christmas at all. My parents’ religion didn’t have a sweet, clean, bright idea of how baby Jesus came into the world and how that translated into glittery Christmas ornaments and pop melodies. There are a thousand reasons I have resented my upbringing, but at Christmas I am always surprised by how grateful I am to have inherited a different point of … [Read more...]

On Anne Shirley and Writing My Way into Healing

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“Well, if you want my opinion, Miss Shirley, I’d write about places I knew something of and people that spoke everyday English. Instead of these silly schoolgirl romances.” –Gilbert Blythe, Anne of Green Gables.   Ever since I first saw Anne of Green Gables when I was eight years old, I have wanted two things: to be a writer and a redhead. I can’t really do anything about the redhead part, short of incessant maintenance and a really good hair stylist, but the writer thing I’ve … [Read more...]

My Extraordinarily Quirky Ordinary Life

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“And while it takes courage to achieve greatness, it takes more courage to find fulfillment in being ordinary. For the joys that last have little relationship to achievement, to standing one step higher on the victory platform. What is the adventure in being ordinary? It is daring to love just for the pleasure of giving it away. It is venturing to give new life and to nurture it to maturity. It is working hard for the pure joy of being tired at the end of the day. It is caring and sharing and … [Read more...]

Two Blonde Monsters and a Swingset

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Originally posted at SheLoves Magazine. The best 20 minutes of my week were spent pointing ten red lacquered toenails toward the sky, then tossing my feet behind me and pulling that sturdy swing back to start the pendulum again. Two tiny blonde monsters pumped their little legs next to me and for a few minutes all was right with the world. I spend a couple days a week with those two grubby little monsters. They are delightful cherubs at least half of the time. Like those 20 minutes we … [Read more...]

Car Trouble and Plot Twists

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Originally posted at SheLoves Magazine. I was tucked into the cushions of a hotel lobby couch listening to 80s pop music in a dry little town in Northeastern Oregon on a Tuesday night. This was not on my agenda for the week. I left my house on a Saturday morning with a pile of bedding, a couple cameras, a backpack and a box of pastries. I was stoked to be heading out to the wilderness to meet one of my writer friends from the internet in real life. I was cruising along with the … [Read more...]

Because Black Lives Always Matter

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Originally posted at SheLoves Magazine. In the past year I’ve watched my world blow up with loaded language, apathy and sadness. In the past year I’ve caught myself whispering sweet names Trayvon, Shantel, Tamir, Michael, Eric, Freddie, Cynthia, Susie, Daniel, Sharonda, Myra, Ethel, Depayne, Clementa, Tywanza, Sandra … the names stack up in my news feed like a holocaust memorial. I have wept a thousand times. My sister talks to her brown-skinned, kind-hearted nine-year-old about … [Read more...]