A new chapter.

Books are my milestones.

When I was too young to write, my brother gathered paper and we curled up at the wood-stove. I drew childish pictures and he helped me put the story onto the pages. It was one of the days which moved us beyond being siblings into friendship.

Out shopping with our mother, we rarely asked for things. That said, we knew if we walked close enough to a bookstore we would always be allowed to pick a title out. Her weak spot was a sturdy foundation for our life-long love of reading.

In elementary school, I was thirsty for new titles and resorted to reading them in order on the shelf. In seven years, I did not read them all, but I made significant progress toward the last shelf. I discovered even the rattiest looking book had something to offer. I also learned how to close a book without reading to the end. Sometimes moving on was more productive.

Years followed. Life changing titles. Friendships forged discussing significant texts. I browsed, bought, read, shared, sold, and wrote. My work, my education, my wedding day, my parenting . . . my days are marked by books.


This year, I have the luxurious opportunity to manage a new store. My partner, Alex George, personifies literary passion. I get chills thinking of the adventures to come. The idea of pulling the exact right title off of the shelf at the Unbound Bookshop and placing it in the exact right hands makes me giddy.

I look forward to new bookmarks. Come see us soon . . . August!


Germs be damned.

I achieved splinter status last night while doing yard work. Nothing major, just an annoying invasion in my thumb.

This morning, thinking forward to my day with small children (translate:  diapers, runny noses, and other germs in various consistencies) I figured I would slap a band aid on the site.

Once upon a time, my own kiddos were little. Our wound covering station was well stocked with an array of colors, designs and functionality. These days, it is pretty sparse. I chose a lone smallish waterproof, affixed it to my thumb and felt rather accomplished.

Fast forward to less than ten minutes later. I am sitting at my computer, getting some work done. Something falls into my lap.

Looking down I see the clean rectangle of protective padding. I look at my thumb. The waterproof adhesive is still firmly wrapped around my thumb. My tiny splinter void is framed neatly in a rectangle of nothing.

I am not a morning person. It took me several minutes to digest this.

Shaking my head and deciding to start over I begin to peel the waterproof frame.

It is reminiscent of the goo left on a new vase after the price sticker peels only the paper layer off. The essential part of the band aid might have abandoned function, but the rest is determined to make it though my day . . . perhaps week.

Eventually, I am sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor in front of the trash can, rubbing a soaped and oiled thumb. Morning traffic continues around me as I work to remove what has turned into adhesive residue.

My new germ magnet moves through my morning with me, gathering pet fur, dust and bits of who knows what.

I think I have it “all good” now – freshly covered with something that looks a bit less aged, though not waterproof, and certainly not kid proof. I think I’ll wash my hands a few extra times today.

Perhaps this was a lesson in cleaning out the bathroom cupboard. Perhaps something about persistence or determination or patience.

Or maybe,  I should wear my work gloves when I weed.


I have not written much fiction lately. I am buried in editing, busy with freelance work, chin-deep in raising two inspiring children.

I enjoy editing, but not over and over again. I have cycled through nearly every emotion toward my work, been somewhat destructive, and come through on the other side to make repairs and start to love it again.

What has also happened, is that I edit a huge percentage of random things in my daily life. It feeds well into my habit of overthinking.

The latest victim has been the “Golden Rule.” For various reasons, the “do unto others as you would have done unto you” is popping up all over my universe. It is a beautiful lesson, one that I embraced whole-heartedly back in my Catholic youth.

Now? Passing that message on to my kids? I couldn’t help but think to myself, “No, this isn’t quite right.”

So we revised.

I asked them what they thought about the original. They saw the same issues. My son called out an endless cycle of perhaps seeing how someone treats you, treating them the same way (assuming that they are acting on the same principal – when they are not), and so on.  No one feeling treated particularly well. My daughter thought about random things that make her happy, like yarn, and how giving others yarn would not bring them joy.

“Treat others as they wish to be treated?” I asked them if that was closer. They lit up and joined in.

My son thought adding “or should or need to be treated” could help those who don’t know how much they deserve.

My daughter remembered seeing something similar on a bulletin board at school, years ago. “Treat others as you wish to be treated – or better, how they wish to be treated.” It was nice to know we were not the only ones contemplating the rule.

In the end we decided that nothing had quite the ring to it, or the simplicity as the original. We also concluded “ring” and “simplicity” were not as important as bettering our interactions.

We are excited to test our new theory out. Maybe it will help them continue to develop awareness, compassion, understanding. Maybe it will promote conversation.

Maybe it will simply remind us all to be more active in our respect and kindness to one another.

Kindness in small spaces.

I’ve ducked into a store twice in the last week, to pick up things forgotten on actual errand runs. It has been like that lately, where I think I am doing awesome, until I realize what is still on the list.

The first time I ended up behind two rather rugged gentlemen with my daughter. These men filled my writing mind with their obvious patriotic, biker, veteran nature . . . and their gentle kindness toward one another.

While one loaded bags into the cart, the other smiled apologetically at us as he began a dance of adding and removing groceries to maximize the use of his pre-paid card. “Don’t worry about it,” I tried to reassure him.  “It has been a hard month,” he told me looking ashamed.  The dance continued, and he chatted more.  He had served in the Navy for most of his life.  “I wish I had gone to college, but I needed to serve.”  His regret and pride filled the space.  “Stay in school,” he urged my daughter and she glowed.  “I love school.  I have big goals.”  He was genuinely proud of her.

I wished in that moment, that I had some cash with me, to pay for the last bit of his lunchmeat and beer. I didn’t.  Instead I tried to extend my patience; I tried to show that he mattered.  His friend quietly waited for the next bag to sort itself out, somewhat protective, in a gentle and formal way – contradicting the stereotype of his large tattoo-and-leather-covered presence.

“No, I need the bread for sure,” he continued to trade items out, “and at least one of these.”  He pulled the case of beer to the cart and looked at me, perhaps waiting for judgement.  I have known alcoholics, he was not.  He simply wanted a cold beer with his dinner, to sit with his buddy, to relax at the end of a long day.  “It has been that sort of month,” I said.  He nodded, “It always is.”

Then, purchase finalized, they apologized again for how long it took. “We aren’t in a hurry,” my daughter said.  He tossed the card back to us, a dollar and some odd cents.  “You gals have a great day.”  His friend scolded him knowing that it would have helped on their next trip. I handed the card to the cashier, knowing it wasn’t much, but that it would help someone else later in the line.

The two rough-edged, burly men disappeared. My daughter and I went on with our day.  Sometimes I wish I could do big random acts of kindness.  Sometimes I think I miss opportunities.  That time?  I think the conversation, compassion, and respect might have mattered more.

On the second trip, the lines were cartoonishly lagging. The people in front of me were gruff, eyes forward, impatient.  Behind me several came and went, ducking from line to line in hopes that their momentum would carry them through the doors faster.  Eventually three young men settled in behind me.  Overly aware of the darkness of their skin, they left me ample space.  One said, “This line seems okay.”  “As good as any,” I turned and shrugged, hoping my smile would allow them to pull into the line, out of the traffic.

Grateful for the welcome, they came closer, towering over my short frame. I had only a few items, and they held a small cake “Happy 39th” swirled in icing. The couple in front of me turned and scowled at the men, their loud voices, their imposing size.  The couple was not listening.  I tried to smile at them, reassure whatever discomfort they perceived, but they did not look.

It became clear, that two of the men were escorting one. One of those large imposing men was struggling to put his thoughts together.  He was excited about the cake, but had lingered in the bakery.  “I like the red velvet cupcakes,” he said.  He tried to convince them that he had money on a card, that he could come back in and get them, or a soda.  They had obviously been having the conversation for a while, as they reminded him kindly, firmly that he in fact had only 30 cents left on the card and that they were not coming back in, they had only come to pick up the cake.

I made room on the counter as soon as I could, placed the divider, and smiled nearly-directly upward. The cake was placed carefully down, and the men continued their circular conversation after each said a genuine “Thank you,” for my insignificant gesture.

As other customers continued to glare, scowl and give them wide berth I struggled. I watched these kind and careful men get judged, over and over again. All I could do was smile, welcome them into my space so that they could give others space.  All I could do was say “It looks delicious,” and enjoy the wide grin of the young man who wanted to buy his own cupcakes. I could feel their tension on my side ease, and their guard rise behind them as people avoided our line.

These were two little moments. Echoes of things that happen daily.  They illustrated something, though.  How helpless we can all feel, how unkind the world and her people often are, and how little it takes to make things just a little better – how we are not actually helpless when it comes to being kind.

People seem to have grown wary of everyone around them, but rejoice in the chance to remove the barriers and fear. I will continue to be one of those abnormal people in line, not in a hurry, enjoying chatter to break up the monotony of waiting, to remember that we are all people, to share a smile.

It makes me happy to see my kids doing the same, extending their kindness wildly, as they have always done.  They have always openly complimented others, something I have gotten used to.  When they were little, new to the world and her variety of people, I would often hold my breath as they pointed wildly before speaking.  Nervous until I heard them, until the people they pointed at heard them and smiled. “Wow, look at his beautiful skin!  It is so dark and shiny, like the night and the stars!” “Mom!  Did you see the artwork on that person?  They have a whole museum on them and only have to look in the mirror!” “He doesn’t have legs, he has wheels!  He gets to drive everywhere!”

Judgement-free, kind and human. We are all stuck in the line at the store.  We are often miserable there.  But we don’t have to make it harder.


Mini Memoir

I sat cross-legged, carefully balanced on edge of my grandparent’s mottled brown couch. My grandmother tucked her legs to the side, neatly folding onto the floor in front of me.  “Make me beautiful,” she whispered.  I replied, “You already are,” and teased the pick through her curls; bouncy, full and perfectly done.

At home, my father took his time untangling my hair. His affection traveled with each gentle tug, erasing childhood worry and young adult stress.

My mother often sat behind me as we watched an evening show. She tested new braids, played, and wondered if anything would ever keep my hair in place through an entire gymnastics practice.

In the dorm, missing our families, we sought to fill the voids becoming an adult created. When a friend braided my hair, I flooded with joy.

My husband tucks a loose strand behind my ear, so he can see me clearly, or sweeps it aside and kisses the back of my neck. My son brushes my hair as I read to him in bed, knowing I will lose track of time.  My daughter pets my head, she is a cat person.

When I am older, I will still wind my long hair into a bun. I will sit on the floor in front of a grandchild and smile.  Generations of love will be in their small hands, unwinding my hair.  Untangling me.