Recovery Routine

Three days out from ankle surgery and I am doing OK. My leg is still quite numb, which I have been assured by medical professionals is quite normal, even if I find it very strange to go three days feeling like I am on the verge of terrible pins and needles after letting my foot fall asleep. My appetite is good and I’m doing my best to stay hydrated, even if that does mean I have to get up more to use the bathroom – a task that requires crutches to get there and then a really awkward balancing act to keep my rhino horn foot off the floor. Perhaps I mentioned this in my previous post but that sucker is heavy! Ben says it is probably 5 pounds of bandage but to me it feels like 15 at least.

Thankfully I have good cushions to hold up my foot at night (no matter what its actual current weight) and have been managing to get some decent sleep around my medication schedule; this is also good considering the fact that I am not a back sleeper like this is forcing me to be right now. The Nest seems to working out just fine and the kids and Ben and I have settled into a fairly set routine of recovery.

Today I broke that routine, though, because with full sun and temps in the upper 40s, I couldn’t resist getting outside for some fresh air and real Vitamin D. The catch, though, is that there is literally only one way to get out of our house that doesn’t involve stairs, and once you get out that door, you’re not exactly working with much real estate before again, you encounter stairs. Stairs are NOT my friend right now and I have avoided them since I got in the house post-surgery on Wednesday. The need for clean hair wasn’t even enough to tempt me to try stairs, but I solved that problem yesterday by washing my hair in the kitchen sink. And in a similar vein, today’s little adventure involved Ben getting me out the front door, then grabbing a lawn chair so I could set up on the front stoop and sun myself like the little lizard that I am. Did it look odd to anyone driving by? I’m sure it did. I’m also sure I don’t care one bit because it felt so good to be out there, even for just 20 minutes before I needed to come back in to ice and properly elevate my leg.

All told, recovery is going pretty well. The one outlier is the fact that I must have chomped the hell out of my tongue in the recovery room as I was waking up from anesthia and my word, does it hurt so much. A terrible, not-so-little canker sore formed on the spot that I bit and honestly, my tongue now hurts more than any other part of my body. Definitely not something I was aware could even happen much less cause so much trouble post-surgery. Thankfully I’ve had some good distractions in the form of movies with the kids and shows just for me. And I might be able to sneak outside a few more times this weekend, which always does me good.


Rest in the Nest

Growing up, I watched my dad navigate a pretty erratic schedule, as most farmers (turned grain haulers) do. You get what the season and the weather gives you and go from there, especially with sleep. From my youngest memories, I keep with me my dad’s definition of a nest: a mattress where you can flop and power nap, no matter how filthy you are, or how little time you have. For years, his was a twin mattress on the floor of my parent’s bedroom (old farmhouses with walls knocked out can provide some pretty epic spaces!). He’s old enough now that I don’t think a floor bed is as good to rest in as his recliner, but the nest concept lives on in our family with how we handle the moments and days when someone isn’t well; we make them nest!

Typically our nests include sheets draped over couches and then pillows and blankets brought from bedrooms, but this week, I had ankle surgery to repair a torn ligament (and scrap out scar tissue) on my left foot making a legit nest a necessity for me. The thought of using crutches to get down to my basement bedroom is terrifying, so instead, for at lest my two weeks of non-weight bearing, I am set up with a twin bed in our living room (because sometimes, old houses in town that don’t look spacious actually are!), named, of course – The Nest.

Surgery itself went well (in and out in about 3 hours) and I am getting around OK at the moment with crutches. My foot itself is still waking up from the nerve blocks they did prior to surgery and the sucker is wrapped in inches upon inches of bandages for the next two weeks. No on my family can believe how big it it and it too has a nickname – The Rhinoceros Horn. While I can navigate fairly well with the crutches, it is really hard to keep that heavy bandage elevated and I know my hips are getting a heck of a workout just getting from my nest to the bathroom.

Already I’m having to ask Ben and the kids, my mom, and my friends to do a lot for me because I’m still wiped from surgery plus I just physically can’t do a lot of my normal stuff. Quite frankly, just getting up the five steps into our house with crutches once was enough for me; I think I’d like to stay in my house and in my nest until my follow up doctor’s appointment in two weeks, thank you very much! And actually, because our village is doing such a good job of taking care of me, I may be able to get away with just that.

So far we’ve had a meal train for Ben and the kids (didn’t want to require folks to also do my dietary rules) overflow with offers, and I’ve had several friends and family bring me vegan + gluten free soups which I am loving because they are easy on my system that’s already dealing with a lot here in the early recovery days. Elevating and icing is a whole regimented routine, so thank goodness I don’t have to worry about anything beyond following those schedules for the next handful of days. Also, this is really good practice for me of letting others carry the load; that ‘s a shift that’s been needed for a while and maybe two weeks will be enough time for these habits to stick.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep elevating and icing (and medicating, which bless his heart, Ben is keeping tabs on for me), while also resting and hydrating. I know this leg is going to wake up soon and then it will be a whole new ballgame, so slow and steady, day by day, I’m going to navigate the recovery of my rhinoceros horn and eat a heckin’ lot of delicious soup.

Two Rings

Like something straight out of a fairy tale, I knew I was going to marry Ben the night I met him. Looking back, I realize how naïve that sounds, but when he walked under the picnic shelter at the pond where we were celebrating the birthday of a mutual friend, that’s exactly what I thought: “I am going to marry that guy.”

Although we ended up talking a lot that first night and exchanged cell numbers, nothing else happened. I learned later that he was actually still seeing someone else so even though that relationship had fizzled some time ago, he was still being respectful of a boundary. Within two weeks, however, that had ended officially and we were talking quite a bit on the phone. When I got invited on a group trip to KS to see a friend from college, I asked Ben to come along (he knew another friend traveling with me), so just like that, an overnight birthday party trip to another state became our first date. We spent the rest of that summer (2005) getting to know each other while also getting ready to dive into big years of education – his first as an 8th grade math teacher in Hastings and my final as an ENGL grad student at UNL. 

Despite the distance, we continued the trends of talking on the phone a lot and driving a lot of miles to see each other on weekends. That said, long distance wasn’t the worst thing in the world. We’d touch base most nights and talk for anywhere from an hour to several, depending on what we had going on in our worlds. As a result, we got to know each other really well during those early months of the relationship. Our weekends, in either place, were precious time, too, and we made the most of each one either spending it in my apartment in Lincoln or sometimes out with friends from college or hanging out at Ben’s little rental house in Hastings. It did not take long for either of us to know that things were serious.

Just after our first Christmas together, I got sick with a bad cold but wasn’t willing to give up any couple time during my winter break, so I was holed up at Ben’s place in Hastings, germs and all. For dinner one night, I made us a lasagna and it was while we were at the little table in his kitchen that he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I have no idea exactly what words either of us said, but I remember thinking that if he loved me when I was a total snot-faced mess, he must really mean that whole “in sickness and in health” business and of course I said, “YES!” 

The great part of this is that Ben didn’t even have my ring yet. He’d picked up a birthstone ring for me on the cheap and that’s what he used to propose. He knew he wanted to get me something special but didn’t want to wait long enough to actually do that before popping the question. I wore that blue-stoned aquamarine ring for about six weeks with a twist tie wrapped around it because it was too big for my ring finger. Then, for Valentine’s that year, he gave me the real deal and the wait was worth it because I got the perfect three-stone square cut ring with white gold band that I had wanted.

I found out later that people totally thought we were pregnant and that was why we’d gotten engaged so fast (just six months after first meeting each other) and set such a “quick” engagement (just eight months after the proposal). But nope – we both just knew that we’d found our person and this was what we wanted for the next step in our lives. At the time I thought we were so old, even though I was among the earliest of my friends to get married, but now I look back at our engagement photos and think, “holy moly cow, we were just babies!” 

In the time since, I haven’t always worn my wedding ring much because, as a SAHM caring for her actual babies, I had no need to wear it. In fact, doing so was a bit hazardous because the prongs on my ring are intense and I was worried I would scratch a kid, not to mention the one million times I had to wash my hands during those years of feeding, changing, and wiping up after kids that made jewelry wearing seem pointless. But eventually we grew out of those ages and stages and I started wearing it again, even around the house. Turns out my fears were confirmed because more than once I have made a kid cry out because I poked them with my ring while giving a fist bump or handing them something! The children have now nicknamed my ring my “cactus” and everyone knows that you either have to keep an eye out for it or be prepared for a potential prong encounter. 

That said, I still love my ring(s) and that I was right all along about my gut instinct that night at the pond.

*Post 43/52.

The Project of Pregnancy

Shortly after Thanksgiving, 2008, I found out I was pregnant with the baby that would turn out to be, on July 22, 2009, Harrison David. And just two days before Thanksgiving, 2017, I went into labor with the baby that would turn out to be, on November 22, 2017, Wilson Ann. So, you know, for roughly nine years straight, I was pregnant. 

OK, that’s an exaggeration, but when you add in nursing, which I did for at least a year for each baby, I really was growing, feeding, or both-ing babies for over 10 years. When I was trying to get pregnant for the second time, I thought I was one of those rare birds that couldn’t get pregnant while nursing a baby, even though they warn you it can happen. We tried for months and months but didn’t actually have success with Baby No. 2, who would turn out to be, on November 4, 2011, Raegan Leigh, until after I quit breastfeeding her big brother. 

Imagine my surprise, then, on November 4, 2012, RL’s first birthday – a day I was very much still nursing her – when I took a pregnancy test just because I was feeling “funny” and it said “PREGNANT!” Shocked really doesn’t begin to cover it. I legit thought that couldn’t happen for me, but guess I was wrong. I kept up the dual growing/feeding gig until going in for my first OB appointment when my doctor explained that part of why I felt so miserable (beyond the fact that my first three pregnancies all just made me quite, quite sick) was that my body was taking care of the fetus first, the baby on the boob second, and last of all, me, the actual human of said body. So, I weened Raegan and focused on “just” growing the baby that would turn out to be, on July 4, 2013, Lincoln Thomas.

Did you catch that date overlap? Two babies born on the 4 of the month. One girl, one boy. One in July, one in November. Total accident, total alignment, and exactly 20 months apart in age. 

As with Harrison, the trend once again became “can’t get pregnant while nursing” and it wasn’t until after I kicked LT off the boob that I learned Baby No. 4, who would turn out to be, on September 6, 2015, Truman John, was on his way. Ironically he was due on September 4, but like his big sis, he was a stinker and made me wait a couple extra days to meet him. I mean, totally worth it, but going past a due date can be tough. Somehow, though, my pregnancy with Truman was the easiest and the one in which I felt, by far, the most human, so if I had to do it a little bit longer, so be it. I was far less sick than with any of the previous babies (thank goodness since I was chasing those three while growing him); since that helped me see the “other side” that some women experienced, and because we still wanted everyone to have a brother and a sister, we decided to go for one more. 

This time, though, I wasn’t willing to give up nursing because Truman didn’t seem ready yet and we took a “if it’s meant to be, it will be” mentality with the trying for No.5. Luckily for us, my body cooperated and eventually I was, once again, with child. However, it wasn’t until I, once again, confirmed the at-home test at the OB office that I was willing to ween TJ off nursing so I could “just” grow one more babe while trying to take care of the other four and my own self. 

Unlike the two who came early (HD by 12 days and LT by 6) and the two who came late, Wilson came right on time – on her actual due date. My OB joked in the delivery room that if you have enough babies, you eventually will get one right on the dot, and there’s something to that. Of course you also have to take into consideration that I’m one stubborn mother who labored extra long at home just so she could go in after midnight (putting us there on the due date) to give birth and save an extra day in the hospital. Another irony given that WA had to be flown to Omaha for surgery on Day 2 of life and we spent 22 days in the NICU at Children’s Hospital before we could bring her home to her anxiously awaiting siblings. 

So if you can’t tell by their faces, each one unique but clearly connected and related, too, you can look at the numbers and the patterns and see that growing my not-so-little crew was the longest and the bestest project I’ve ever worked on in this life. Of course the project of parenting them will last the rest of my days but those 9 years (or 10+ when you count nursing) were unlike any others.

*Post 42/52 – just 10 to go!

Go, Go Graduate School

Maybe it’s because “English major” doesn’t exactly lead to clear path forward for an undergraduate, but somehow I knew that I wanted to pursue graduate school right after completing my undergrad degree at Doane College (now University, but forever DC in my brain and heart). My senior year I started making plans, applying to four different university’s graduate programs: University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Minnesota, Iowa State University, and somewhere else (lol – I honestly can’t remember the fourth one now). 

The spring I graduated, I received rejections from two and acceptance to two – UNL and ISU. Although ISU invited me to visit the campus, something about it didn’t sit right with me, so I ended up accepting UNL, even though I was not awarded a Teaching Assistant position which meant I would have to take out more student loans to complete this second degree. Their initial letter did say I was an alternate for a TA job, but I assumed they said that to everyone and I would be stuck with the loans and whatever odd jobs I could squeeze in around classes. Imagine my surprise the summer after graduation when I got another letter telling me I was in fact being offered TA employment and would essentially have all of my grad costs covered! To this day, I thank my lucky stars for that person who said “no” so I could say “yes” for my much more affordable two years of grad school that followed in Lincoln, NE. 

For a Word Nerd like me, grad school was a wonderful place. As an ENGL grad student, life was even more right up my alley, with tons of books to be read and papers to be written. That said, it was far from all fun and games as the majority of it was not novels which meant for dense lectures to consume and essays to produce, not to mention the prep that went into becoming a teacher for UNL my second year of grad school. TAs were all assigned one section of Freshman Composition to teach both semesters of their second year, as a way to cover that general ed class which helped out the full-time faculty by freeing them up for other classes. As a 23-yr-old young woman, teaching those two classes to kids just a few tiny years younger than me felt a bit like getting myself tossed directly into the fire, but I guess that is in fact one way to learn. And hey – almost twenty years later and I am in fact still teaching that very same class, so I guess it didn’t turn out all that bad. 

While I was at UNL, I didn’t just teach as part of my TA gig; I also worked in various English-related offices around campus. It was a bit like being Inspector Gadget because you had to have about that many tricks, bells, and whistles up your selves to accomplish all the various grad student tasks. I worked directly under an ENGL professor, proofreading his newest book on Shakespeare; I spent a handful of hours each week reading/rejecting poetry and short stories submitted to the UNL lit mag, The Prairie Schooner; I also lucked my way into hours spent working for the University of Nebraska Press; I digitized content for various projects at the Digital Archives; and I worked on the Cather Journalism Project, coding dozens upon dozens of periodical publications from Cather’s undergrad days at UNL. Those weren’t all simultaneous tasks but there we definitely days when I wished I had go-go gadget arms (and legs) to get me all over campus and through my lengthy To Do list, for sure. 

While my TA work was varied and remarkable, as an extra bonus, I was surrounded by some really fabulous humans and scholars during that time, too. My supervisors, my thesis committee, my office mate, my classmates – all provided support both professional and personal during my two year program. When I ultimately made the call NOT to do a Ph. D., a handful of them still traveled to South Dakota to celebrate our wedding the following summer. I also chose that spring not to attend the three-hour graduate programs graduation so it was special to have some of my UNL favorites with me on my other Big Day that year. 

I may not totally have understood what I was getting myself into by applying and attending grad school at such a young age, but it’s afforded me the work and career I’ve had since and I’m grateful for all the pieces that went into that component of my educational journey.

*Post 41/52.  

Miles to Go

Prior to our holiday travels to Texas to end 2022, I totally thought I would do a little travel blog of our adventure. Then the actual trip happened and I did not have the capacity to pull that off on top of all the other things, in part because of a bum ankle (I know; doesn’t keep you from typing, but troublesome and time-consuming all the same). I mention that now because, had I been able to keep that travel blog, you’d already know about the ankle and how I hurt it the night before we left (Christmas Eve Eve) and was in a brace the whole time we were there and for a week and a half after we got home, too. I didn’t exactly twist it or roll it but I seemed to sprain it while packing and had a mighty mad tendon in my left ankle as a result.

Then, last week, I would have told you things were feeling better and that maybe all was on the road to being well because that was also seemed to be true. At least until Saturday night when I got another zinger of pain that told me, nope; not OK. And since that was all I knew, I decided it was time to seek out a professional opinion because treating ankles is definitely not in my wheelhouse.

Even though it was my idea to go, at first I thought it was going to be totally pointless, that the doctor would tell me that I just needed to be patient (also not in my wheelhouse) and give it more time. Except then that is not at all what the doctor told me. He said that I have a torn ligament in my left ankle and to avoid ending up with an arthritic ankle (yikes; I am only 40!), surgery to repair it is the best path forward.

You should have seen my face after that appointment. Total shock I tell you. But I guess I am glad I didn’t just brush it off as no big deal just because I couldn’t point to an exact moment of injury. This is probably built up from years of various activity, but the good news is, I’ll be able to return to yoga and walking just like normal once I get through this and my recovery period which will take at least four weeks.

I have about a month before the procedure which I guess gives me plenty of time to wrap my brain around this latest development and prepare the family, house, and our freezer for me being sort of out of commission for a bit in late Feb/early March. But I’m glad to know what is going on now and to have answers about what can and should be done to fix it. There’s great comfort in that alone. It is also reassuring to know that once I get through this, I’ll be back to myself and my normal activities, just like before because my goodness, this ankle and I have many, many miles to go and we want that journey to be as peaceful and pain-free as possible!

Friendship Over Time

One facet of life that’s taken me a long time to get to a healthy working definition of is friendship, and trust me – that definition has changed and grown a lot over time. That’s not to say that I haven’t had very strong, wonderful friendships over the years, but that just now, at the start of my 40s, am I really beginning to understand what kind of friend I am and what friendship looks like in *my* life.

I’ve written about friendship before and talked about how the self-doubt that creeps in is false and how it is OK for friendships to come and go. Those lessons remain the same, but what I’ve learned since is that friendship is one of those cycles that will continue to play out and evolve for the rest of my life. Because, obviously, so will I. It makes sense that some connections will end, others will strengthen, and some will begin (repeat, repeat, repeat) as our own needs and selves change over time. And there is nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t mean you can’t maintain lasting friendships or are a bad friend; it just means that as you navigate the different seasons of life, friendship will present itself with different ways and means, if you allow it.

One element of friendship that I have for sure changed my mind about is the notion that I need to have one core group to carry me through this world. I feel like I see that modeled in other people’s lives on social media but that might just be an Internet “Gotcha!” because it doesn’t reflect the life I’ve built for myself in recent years when it comes to friendship, a life that I find quite full and satisfying. 

Instead of putting all my proverbial friendship eggs into one basket, I’ve spread those baddies out all over the place. But please note, I do not mean in a spread-too-thin kind of way because a lot of those friendships are rock solid, rooted in my heart center strong. But they don’t all overlap and they don’t all make sense on paper (more on that in a bit). I mean that I have diversified my friendships with various circles and groups, some being large and boisterous, and others being small and contemplative. Life breathes into these relationships via social gatherings, coffee dates, Marco Polos, text threads, quick chats with kids pulling at our arms, and playdates where, again, we try to mother while also tending to each other as women, too. 

So I don’t have the IG-worthy Squad that I once thought I needed. But I wonder, needed for what? So others could be envious of my life and friends? I really don’t know where that thought came from originally, but it was a stuck one that took me some time to work through. What I have now is an understanding of myself and that my heart works really well with different little pockets of friendship. Those unique relationships accurately reflect all the different pieces of life that make me who I am. And it turns out, I’m really here for it with the people who return that same energy to me. 

What also holds true is that my friends do not have to be exactly like me to be considered My People. I have been blessed with love, acceptance, and friendship from some women over the years that might not make sense to the outside world based on our backgrounds (or our voting records). But I believe that when we see people for who they are beyond the labels society gives, we can foster real, authentic connection and carry a lot of grace for one another. I can’t think of a better definition of friendship than someone who does exactly those things for their people, in whatever form they present themselves.

*Post 40/52.

My Room of Requirement

As an introvert, it’s no big surprise that my favorite simple pleasures in life revolve around quiet things I can do by myself. It’s not that I don’t want to be around my people, I just need to be around just myself a lot, too; naturally, my hobbies and “me time” over the years have gravitated toward activities that perpetuate solitude. My tops are: reading (duh), writing (double duh), yoga (this can be done in groups, of course, but your practice is really only ever a you thing and doesn’t require outsiders to be present), drinking coffee (keep trying to quit; keep coming back to it), and burning incense (some days are two- or even three-stick days). 

As it just so happens, our house has a room attached to it that affords me the perfect amount of space for me to do all of my favorite simple solos: the sun porch. This room is two walls of windows and two walls of old exterior siding painted a soft buttery yellow, capped off with wood floors and a stunning stained glass window that was left here by the previous owners (for which I am forever grateful because it faces the east and catches the best morning sun). In the 11 years that we’ve been in this house, the sun porch has housed all of my simple pleasures, along with a whole lot of parenting, too.

In that time, this space has seen multiple trampolines come and go (fabulous for busting that pent-up winter energy), various tables, chairs, rockers, and papasan seats rotate through it, a hand-me-down foosball table take up residence, kid toys get kicked around, and an art easel that doesn’t always contain its masterpieces set up shop. It has also been a makeshift office for me where I grade papers or Zoom with students. It’s been the backdrop for multiple photo shoots (newborn, toddler, family, and professional). And it’s been my yoga studio – both publicly and privately. Most often it serves as a makeshift storage room for, well, anything. Yesterday I read a book out here. Currently it is where I am writing this very post (while burning incense, of course). Come to think of it, it’s the closest thing I’ve ever had to a Room of Requirement, and while the room itself doesn’t take the exact shape I need, it is clearly very skilled at giving me what I seek at various ages and stages of both myself, my family, and my career. 

Over the years we’ve looked at other houses, and while there were ultimately many factors that went into us deciding not to buy, leaving this room behind was in fact probably one of them. The sun porch has been where I have nurtured my self and my babies and the thought of it no longer being a part of our world just doesn’t compute for me. Maybe it would be possible to find another house with a gorgeous room that provides tons of natural light and the feel of air moving (but with the benefit of screens to keep the bugs away and heaters to keep the cold at bay). Or maybe there would be some other magical room that would draw me away from this one. Until I see that, though, I’m going to keep thanking my lucky stars that I can read, write, practice, and just be in this unique and shifty (in the best way) space. 

*Post 39/52

Pixie No-No

For years I flirted with the idea of going super short with my hair. I’d had plenty of bobs over the years (including after our wedding when I chopped off something like 12 inches of the longest hair I’d ever had because I was so sick of growing it out), but had never gone pixie short. Then I entered the years of motherhood which messes with your hair on so many levels.

If you didn’t know, hair grows and grows and gets super lush and thick whilst pregnant and then about four months after baby arrives, it all decides to leave your head at once. Great fun, I tell you. I mean, thankfully mine always came back, but in the oddest growth pattern on my scalp that, according to my hair dresser, was like this strange halo of baby hairs on the crown of my head. That actually worked to my advantage with some of my new-mom bobs I rocked over the years because it gave a pretty decent amount of volume, but heaven forbid I actually try to do anything with my hair because the little fly-away, wispy baby hairs (on my head, not the actual baby at the time) were impossible to tame (actually, just like babies!). 

After four rounds of mass hair exodus, I decided to get ahead of the curve after Wilson was born and scheduled an appointment to get my hair CHOPPED when she was just a couple months old. My hair dresser knew I’d been thinking of this in the past so she knew it wasn’t a rash, totally hormonal decision, but I did keep it entirely secret from anyone but her until after the deed was done. 

Like some kind of fool, this meant going from hair eight inches past my shoulders to next-to-nothing left on my head in Nebraska in the dead of winter when it is freaking cold, cold, cold. I was not prepared for how miserable I was going to feel based on temperature alone (which turned out to be a LOT), but what also caught me way off guard was how much I hated pixie-short hair on me and the emotional reaction I had to the cut. 

Don’t get me wrong – I love women who rock short hair. I have plenty of friends who have done this over the years and they look like badasses. Who knows – maybe I also looked like a badass, but the problem was, I didn’t feel like I looked like me anymore. 

Back in the day, I loved watching America’s Next Top Model and I always marveled at the women during the makeover episode who lost their shit when the producers made them get a massive haircut as part of their new model look. What was their problem? But you know what happened when Ben walked in the door that day after school and I popped out from behind a kitchen cabinet to surprise him with my new lewk? I burst into tears! I instantly hated it and there was not a damn thing I could do about it but wait (for months and months and months) for it to get back to a comfortable length that felt more like myself than that shorty short look ever did in my eyes.

The funny thing was, the majority of people loved it. I had people stop me at church and exclaim over it and I had plenty of friends and acquaintances compliment the cut. But man, I just couldn’t ever rectify how it looked with how I felt about it. To this day, I look at pictures – both professional and snapshots – from that time and think, “Whoa. WTH was I thinking?” 

In the five years since, I’ve been growing, growing, growing my hair and for the foreseeable future, that’s still the plan. I suppose I shouldn’t say I’ll never go back to a pixie because maybe someday that will fit with how I see myself, but back then it definitely did not. So I can’t say never get a pixie, but I can tell you, don’t go from scarf-like hair length to a pixie during a Midwest Winter; that’s just stupid cold making!

*Post 38/52.

25 Things in 2022

Normally I give myself a few weeks or at least a few days to work on this list, but here I am, on Dec. 30 just starting it. Yikes. Here’s hoping I can figure out my 25 Things in quick succession!

  1. Came out publicly as bisexual. Doing that was an important step in showing my authentic self to the world, which is a primary motivator for me in this life.
  2. Tried a food sensitivity test and, as a result, gave up not just gluten, but eggs, peanut butter, and dairy, too. Had to learn a whole new approach to food but it has made a huge and welcome improvement in my health, so I’ll keep it.
  3. Started anti anxiety meds for the first time and after an adverse reaction to one, found the one that makes a big helpful difference to my overall world.
  4. Gave up black tea this Spring and did just coffee alternative except for special occasion emotional support coffees. Later in the year, lots more weeks required lots more emotional support. Starbucks instant coffee packets are a winner on those days.
  5. Finished up my Writing Center gig with BU, taught another handful of classes for them throughout the year, and taught one section of online Composition for CCC this fall. Dual institution work is a lot at times.
  6. Had my first mammogram. And then my second and then a biopsy which turned out to be OK, but required another mammogram six months later in September; now good for a whole year! Thank goodness.
  7. Read 67 books. My first and last of the year were total stinkers but there in the middle I read some really beautiful books.
  8. Wrote 47 blog posts, including this one. This was enhanced greatly by a year-long challenge I started after my birthday to write a post each week. Sometimes I write none in a week and sometimes I write three, but overall it is going fine.
  9. Became the Secretary on my first Board of Directors, the Hastings Community Music Academy – love the mission and programming associated with this new nonprofit in town!
  10. Turned 40. I don’t usually count my birthday on this list but 40 seems like a big freaking deal, so it seems worth mentioning here.
  11. Finished my first-ever Longfellow Elementary Year Book. Makes up for never participating in PTO while HD was there for six years, I think – yes? Yes.
  12. Took Harrison to see his first (off) Broadway show, Hamilton, in DesMoines, IA. My second time seeing it and once again, it did not disappoint!
  13. Completed a 5-week course in Ecstatic Breathwork (online, of course) with Scott Schwenk via Commune.
  14. Went to my first Pride with my family, all seven of us decked out in rainbows.
  15. Participated in a Sign Language Choir (see above about HCMA) – learned three songs in one week of morning sessions and performed them at the church on our final morning. Ben and the Big 3 all did the class as well.
  16. Saw Brandi Carlile perform at Red Rocks. Holy. Sh!t. Fantastic concert.
  17. Designed and executed the turning of our front coat closet into a Cloffice – my very own tiny but loved space in the house.
  18. Made time to nurture friendships, old and new. Coffee dates, scheduled phone calls, interstate meet-ups, evening gatherings, playdates with the kids, and a handful of other ways to stay connected with my people – grateful for each and every one of these humans and our efforts to be in each other’s lives.
  19. Got my ears re-pierced. Went along with RL as she got her first holes and had my old ones reopened. Wearing earrings again feels so novel and fun.
  20. Started a daily yoga practice in late October. Haven’t missed a day since.
  21. Navigated multiple stints of solo parenting while Ben was off on various trips around the country for his temporary job with NEA/NSEA. I realize some people do that literally all the time or even on a regular basis but it has been new for us and challenging for me at times.
  22. Helped direct a Christmas musical at our church. You can call me the Assistant to the Regional Director, if you like.
  23. Watched 8.5 seasons of The Office with HD (we got so close to finishing entirely but that will have to be a 2023 accomplishment), hence the reference in the previous Thing.
  24. Sprained my ankle just before Christmas; means I now do my daily yoga on my bed each night and with very little difficulty of or movement invovled in the postures.
  25. Took the children on a week-long trip to Texas for the holidays. First time we have been to Houston since 2016. Lots of walking and tourist attractions. This was both wonderful and tricky (see above about ankle and the timing of all that). Also, sooooo imany hours in the car. Holy moly cow. But also, saw my first professional ballet with the Houston Ballet, performing The Nutcracker!