Monthly Archives

May 2016


The brave few who run at the lion

May 25, 2016

It seems like every time I scroll through my facebook feed or turn on the news or accidentally leave the tv on until Sunday Morning changes over to Meet the Press, I’m inundated with self-absorbed, cowardly public figures. People with a platform for good who do nothing but repeatedly shell out shallow loads of crap in an effort to garner even more attention for their bulging egos. But recently, in this world where it seems like narcissism is rewarded and character is obsolete, I’ve seen outrageous displays of courage in those closest to me.

There’s a woman in my life who’s going through a rough patch, as almost all of us do. While I was showering her in some much-deserved praise about her admirable perspective and mature approach to the situation, she told me about an article she read by Davey Blackburn. Davey is the pastor who lost his pregnant wife Amanda last year in Indianapolis after two men broke into their home and shot her. He wrote an editorial piece called, Run Toward the Roar, in which he talks about embracing and even turning into the most incomprehensible pain; something that feels entirely counter-intuitive and unnerving.

To summarize – though you really should read the post in its entirety because it’s beautiful – it’s about our instinct to protect ourselves from what hurts, or what’s scary, and how that truly doesn’t serve us in the long run. In the wilderness, Davey explains, the male lion will go to the edge of the field and roar as loud as he can. This drives the prey away and, as was the intention, right to the jaws of the ravenous female lion, who is actually the more deadly predator. In fact, most male lions rarely kill. His point is that if we can find the strength to just turn into the roar, into the noise, into the fear, we might just be able to live another day. It’s when we run away from what’s troubling us or scaring us or hurting us that we perish. Or at least parts of us perish. Important parts. But my gosh, it’s so easy to run, isn’t it?


It all very much reminded me of the transformational talk I attended with Glennon Melton Doyle. Thinking back to the Momastery master’s words, I told this friend during one of our come-to-Jesus conversations early on in her turmoil, “Don’t think about a month from now. Don’t think about the end game. Just think about tomorrow. What do you need to do tomorrow?” It’s gratifying to make snap decisions in the heat of a conflict or tragedy. It feels good just to assign a verdict to something that haunts us when it’s unsettled. But I think it takes even more grit to sit with what’s ailing you for awhile – to really let it work through you. To feel every ache and strain and struggle. Decision by decision, conversation by conversation, step by step you will come out on the other side. The wounds will heal. The sun will come out from behind the clouds. And you will be stronger for your suffering.


Another person I’m close to is passing through a really uncomfortable place en route to a healthier lifestyle. He’s working against habits so engrained in his routine he doesn’t know how to fill the hours of his day without them. Shedding certain rituals, as detrimental as they might be, can feel like a death. No one wants to deal with what follows saying, “I love this thing so much, but I know it’s killing me so I have to let it go.” Toxic relationships are still relationships. They still elicit a bond and they still make us feel connected to something.

When I talk to him about it, I know he feels embarrassed and a bit ashamed that his habit has such a hold on him. But who doesn’t have something they’re hooked on or obsessed with or dependent on? I’ve heard my mom say, “Everyone one is addicted to something. It’s just a matter of what that something is.” There’s no sense in letting pride interrupt a quest for help. Weakness isn’t found in the attachment, after all, it’s found in the denial. Weakness is not trying. Weakness is running from the roar. And that kind of weakness will get you every time.

To different degrees and various depths, we’re all broken. Maybe you’re in a valley and you’re a lot broken. Maybe you’re at a peak and those cracks are harder to see, but we all have bumps and bruises. We all have scars from hard-fought battles and shattered spirits. But the people I admire are the ones who don’t just throw a bandage over the bleeding and crawl into bed. I have so much respect for the folks who embrace the pain and the heartache and the brokenness and seek out the rainbow after the thunderstorm.

If the goal is to continue growing as an individual, I can only hope I’m forever surrounded by people as strong and inspiring and badass as the ones I have around me right now. Watching them run toward the roar makes me feel like I can do the same when the occasion arises. Here’s hoping that the courageous always rise to the top.


That was my last chance to be cool

May 18, 2016

“We were going to move to Michigan and grow medicinal marijuana … Wait, I didn’t tell you that?”
“Oh, yeah, it was kind of like our last chance to be cool before we accepted that we’re just, you know, parents.”


One of my dearest friends (who shall remain nameless) has always ranked fairly high with me for her boisterous laugh and Devil-may-care disposition. This is a girl who bought a $500 pair of Louis Vuitton sunglasses on a mild buzz in Hawaii, only to break them rolling down a sand dune in Indiana. She barrels through life with the dance moves of Elaine Benes and the humor of Chevy Chase. And while I’ve never known her to be neither apologetic nor mundane, she’s incredibly endearing, with a backstory that will break your heart and a loyalty that can’t be deterred by distance.

When my friend got married and then, a few years later, had a little nugget, it meant a change to her usual shenanigans. It’s all fun and games when you get to be the crazy aunt, and blow into town with hot pink-colored bubbles and 10 pounds of chocolate then go home when their diarrhea sets in, but when the scoots are on your hands, it’s a messy adjustment. And while, like all new mothers, my sweet friend was relishing her new role, she had also undergone a mini identity crisis. I was seeing her on the other side of that crisis, fresh off accepting a new 8-to-5 position with a bank chain.

“You know how in your 20s you waste all of this time just assuming something cool will pan out?” she said. “Like some brilliant, badass job will just fall in your lap and you’ll live this amazing life. Well then I think you spend your 30s just slowly accepting that none of that shit is actually going to happen, and that a boring desk job isn’t just ‘to hold you over’ and you’re a mom now and, not that that isn’t wonderful, but you know … It’s just so … not what I thought. So, we thought we might start a pot farm in Michigan. But we aren’t now. So … I guess this is it!”

I sat there feeling so oddly connected to what she was saying. The conversation got me thinking about all of the Michigan pot farms in my past. Naturally, as a writer, I was going to move to New York City a la Carrie Bradshaw and write a tantalizing weekly opinion column. Then I was going to write a side-splitting non-fiction book that put me on the Oprah circuit to stardom. I was going to run off and hike for a few months straight. I was going to write a screenplay. I was going to be that woman who runs (in a sports bra and shorts only) behind my jogging stroller. I was going to start a creative firm with 2 of my best girlfriends. I was going to freelance in the mornings and explore in the afternoons. I was going to give a mother truckin’ TED talk.  I’m not the best mathematician, but I can estimate with a great deal of accuracy that I did 0% of those things.


And it all left me wondering when in the hell we all just gave up on being cool?

I mean, I dabble in cool things, sure. I partake in the occasional adventurous hour or two, but on the whole, all of those big assumptions of fame and splendid accomplishment from my 20s just fizzled out. I don’t know where they went, exactly, but I’m guessing it was off to some other 20-somethings ego. I started to envy the fact that my free-spirited friend actually went so far as to explore her medicinal marijuana operation. She at least entertained the notion that cool had not evaporated entirely in the presence of her smart wardrobe and comfortable working woman flats. I can’t remember the last time I considered such a move without including the words “401k” or “accrued time off” or “career path”. Blech! Who am I? What is this pure vanilla caked all over me?

Every night when I finally power down and roll to my side, I try to touch base with God. I thank him for my family, for my home and for my health. I ask Him to place His hands on the ones who are hurting or suffering or sad. And last night, I asked Him to make me a vehicle for something meaningful. To type it, it seems a bit self-important. Like I think I’m destined for greatness or something, but that’s not the intent. What I mean is I don’t want to waste my days or my words. I don’t want to wake up in my next decade of life feeling like I conceded all of the best things I have to offer in exchange for stability or savings that sit in a bank. I want to be open and gutsy and do something bold for the betterment of someone. I want to be cool for the greater good, gosh dang it!


Inspired in an Insta

May 11, 2016

I’m a total sap for a good quote, and aside from Pinterest and those sweet little boutiques that sell bacon gum and hilarious greeting cards, Instagram is the best place to spot the really good ones. Here are 17 of my favorites from the past few months. Pin ’em, make them your wallpaper, or just take a moment to consider them.




















Being a mom is kind of scary

May 9, 2016

For an unhealthy span of time in my younger years I had a doll that I swore to everyone who would listen was real. I used an old wooden high chair (I want to say it was my dad’s when he was a baby) and sat Crystal at the table. I would airplane tiny spoonfuls of applesauce toward her sweet plastic lips and then whip it into my own mouth quickly, so everyone would assume it was consumed and now sustaining my real baby’s body. Over time, my little angel started to succumb to the wear of overuse. Her foam midsection would sometimes peek out from the back of her dress. Her supple scull popped off from her body on more than one occasion, revealing her artificial core, but still I held her close. I took my care for Crystal very seriously. Care when I swaddled her. Care when I rocked her and sang to her. And care when my older siblings and their friends came to torture her and me for the sake of their own jollies.

I can remember fragments of the scene on the day Crystal lost her magic forever. My sister and I had matching white wooden four post beds with spindles that screwed on and off. So many times those posts served for happy memories; mainly as our microphones for our private Wilson Phillips concerts or reenacting the opening sequence from Adventures in Babysitting. But on this particular afternoon, there was no singing. My brother, who was in high school at the time, had some of his buddies over. These guys were over a lot while our parents were at work and Matt was “watching us”. In the frenzy and noise of the typical annoying little sibling torture proceedings, one of my brother’s friends grabbed Crystal off my bed. He squeezed her head, which opened her mouth and gave him a perfect opening in which to impale her face on the spindle. I looked on helplessly as he hit her body, making my baby doll spin around the bed post, her head the axis and her manufactured limbs the propellers. And I remember feeling both emotionally demolished and relieved at the same time. As much as I loved Crystal, being her mom could be a real bitch sometimes. The charade had to stop. I just didn’t expect it to end so violently for her.

My time with Crystal, a.k.a. Baby Alive, was an adolescent teaser for the gravity of motherhood. Now that I have 3 real, living, breathing daughters – yes, they really are real this time – I feel a constant weight on my mind and my shoulders. One day they aren’t there and you’re just walking around making moronic decisions and eating Taco Bell at all hours of the damn night, and then, boom! these little humans are in your home, asking for water and screaming at you from the toilet seat. They come out bearing nothing but a buffet of messy fluids and loads of massive responsibility for you, and it’s overwhelming, I don’t care who you are.

Me and Spike

With girls, in particular, I find I place a lot of importance on how I raise them and the example I set. I don’t want much for them, just that they be independent, confident, strong, determined, direct yet receptive, resolute yet relaxed, wise and empathetic, compassionate, kind, respectful, noncompliant when it counts, forward-thinking, environmentally conscious, always driven by admirable motives, modest, unapologetic, ambitious, positive, adventurous and curious, noble and just a little bit gutsy. I want them to chase down their dreams like the succulent prey they are and be continuously reaching for more than what they’re given. I want them to explore every beautiful corner of this world, but always come home for Christmas. I want them to surprise themselves with what they can accomplish, but never at the expense of another person’s pride or joy. I want them to be aware of their character and the character of the people they surround themselves with. I want them to stand for what’s right and respect God’s will. I want them to investigate and question and refuse to settle. I want them to excel, to climb, to love big. That’s it. Just those things. And when I think about how I can help mold them into these people, or worse yet,the 8 million things I do a day that potentially steer them away from being these people, I suddenly get very, very tired.

I often try to salvage my sanity by parceling this list down into digestible, manageable goals. Some of these include, but are not limited to: Getting Spike to quit hitting and Sloppy Joan to quit biting, reduce the volume of fart noises at the dinner table, get Sloppy Joan to stop saying, “don’t like it!” about absolutely everything (even the things I know she likes), convince Spike that boogies are not a delicacy, and get JoJo to stop hoarding. If I think about how I can use my influence to just start chipping away at some of these habits, it seems a little less daunting.


But all of these anxieties pale in comparison to the ones I have about just keeping them alive. These little creatures might not be very refined, but they are awesome and they are on loan to me. Sometimes that fact scares the shit out of me, I’m not going to lie. Right after I had JoJo, I would randomly just start crying on our way to the sitter. I think it was the fact that my hormones were on a Tilt-a-Whirl 24/7, but I also think it was the sheer terror that if someone crashed into our car something could happen to her. It was the heart-halting fear of loving something so much more than you love yourself, or anything else. I’d only felt love like that for one other person, and he pretty much took care of himself.

Suddenly I was forced to think about reactions to dairy and what the consistency and frequency of someone else’s poop means and if there’s a separate heaven for ants and goldfish. Being a parent is like a constant game of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and you start back at the bottom every morning. So, she wants to know if Sloppy Joan came out of my belly button. Should I phone a friend? Go 50/50? They need answers. Answers to questions that, quite honestly, I often haven’t even considered. The questions are just part of it, too. They fall and break open. They get violently ill. They wake up with rashes for no apparent reason. You aren’t just the teacher, you’re also the healer.

All of this being said, mothers are some badass multitasking fixers. We make up songs on the spot and kiss scrapes with magic lips and pull snacks out of our oversized purses and chase off the monsters and smooth everything over with our masterful body sway and face petting. Scary as it all is, I don’t know many moms who aren’t up for taking a baseball bat to the things that go bump in the night if that’s what the job calls for. The only feeling that’s greater than fear is love, and Lord knows we all have plenty of that.


Giving thanks for Biscuits

May 5, 2016

“Just putting ink to paper to let you know how proud I am of you and how inspiring you are – because a text wouldn’t suffice. If you would have told me in college that you were going to carry everything you needed for 4 days on your back and hike a mountain, I wouldn’t have believed it. Proud of you for setting a goal and getting ‘er done. With hiking with half marathons. And those sweet babes of yours are watching their mom set goals and have great adventures and they are taking notes. I’m grateful for you and our friendship. It’s one that inspires and is forever fun. Cheers to you for lacing up your boots and going WILD! Here’s to your next adventure!” – My college roommate

“Wanted to send you some good luck wishes for your hiking trip! Hope your ankle is all healed up and you’ve found a way to pee in front of all the boys. Can’t wait to hear how it goes!! Not just the pee part, but everything, you know … Anyways, be tough, stay safe, don’t cry and have fun! Virtual side hug to you ?” – Friend and former coworker


I share these personal notes because I gotta tell you guys, as humbling as it is to have a steep-ass summit bring you to a quivering halt, breathless and intimidated beyond measure, it is far more humbling to have the people you love, in spite of all their own busyness, take a moment to show their support for your crazy exploits. Because so many people sent well wishes and sat through recounts of our journey, I would be remiss not to officially wrap this series up with some words of gratitude. Because no experience or blessing or accomplishment means a thing without gratitude.

Yes, I’m grateful for the hike. I think it’s safe to say the days I get to spend standing on a dirt path overlooking some of the most magnificent slivers of creation and not in a windowless office are few and too far between. Turning my face toward the thrashing wind on a wide-open bald made me feel alive and small and awake. It gave me perspective and appreciation for sweet simplicity and a natural majesty that’s so often out of sight and out of mind. “How could you see that and not believe in God?” my mother-in-law asked. And she’s right. I imagine the Lord carving and crafting and painting with a fine artist’s hand as he composed the trail. Knowing how special it was, he set it aside so only those who sought such beauty could set their eyes upon it. It’s a bit poetic, I suppose, but the scenery encroaches on your soul in a way that alters your perception. Food tastes different. The air smells alive. The terrain touches all of your senses.

There’s a saying for backpackers, “Hike your own hike.” It means go at your own pace, take it all in, make the most of your experience. I think, while we were almost always together, Hank, my brother and I did find ways to make the adventure what we each needed it to be. There were times I walked alone and I found a comfort in actually hearing the voice inside me for a change, rather than just dismissing it or making note as it dictates more tasks. There were times we hiked together, and I relished the support and the laughter. I asked myself, “When was the last time we laughed at something other than our kids?”

I loved our little group of AT misfits – the rookies with their stash of desserts, The General and his futile attempts to make my brother comply with the rules, the Lieutenant with his worldly stories and constant gear adjustments. People come into our lives in the strangest ways. Sometimes their role is small and sometimes it’s big, but I’ve learned that the amount of time someone spends in your life doesn’t directly impact their impression on your character. Tremendous change can come from a few brief moments, or days. The odds are somewhat decent I’ll never put my sleeping mat down next to these folks ever again. But one time I did, and it will stay with me always.


I’d be lying if I didn’t say I felt a little bit like a badass walking off the trail. It wasn’t an easy hike and it wasn’t the easiest weather, but there was a joy in the adversity of it all. My friends all say, “I don’t know how you did that.” But anything is possible when you have no alternative. You have to keep moving forward in order to meet your dream on the other side, to see it through to its completion. I found, just when I felt like I had nothing left, God gave me a reprieve. Whether it was a portrait-worthy overlook, or patch of flat land, or friendly passerby, something always saved me.

“Would you do it again?” they ask.  And I answer with a self-assured, 100 percent, yes. I think in part because we’re so financially invested now (equipment is expensive as shit), but also I know what a few days in the woods really looks like. It was challenging and ugly and breath-taking. It was the craziest thing we’ve ever done that seemed oddly sane once we got there. My grand illusions were demystified, and I loved the true grit and glory that remained after the reality washed everything else away.

And finally, I often have friends ask what surprised me most about the experience. It wasn’t the sleeping conditions or the trailmates or the food –  although there were a few thrills tied to all of those things. It was honestly the support I got from people who probably shouldn’t have given a shit. The first excerpt in this post is from my college roommate. She recently adopted 2 young children and has about as much spare time as Ryan Seacrest at the height of his career. When I found a hand-written letter in my mailbox from her after the trip, I sat down on my front stoop, read it, choked up and considered what her home must have been like when she made the time to send it. It isn’t easy in the chaos of playdates and preschool and snacks and spills and diapers and learning Bulgarian to push pause and acknowledge a life outside of your own. It just isn’t. But she did. I keep the note on the dresser in my bedroom as a reminder of how no one is alone in their ambitions.

Words of support came via snail mail, chat bubble, text and email, and I think it surprised me so much because in my mind this was just a little adventure we were going to go on. It only touched our small little snow globe of a life. But I think the truth is, when anyone chases down a dream, everyone celebrates a little bit because it means their dream is still alive. We rejoice when others remind us there’s more to our lives than the 6am-10pm grind. Because let’s face it, it can be hard to see the forest through the trees. It can be hard to step outside of the routine and freestyle for a bit, no matter how high the item is on our bucket list. But every once in a while somebody does it and all of the adult world drinks to the fact that their trip overseas or DIY project or race or girls trip is absolutely possible. It prompts us to pull out our journals or dream boards or Pinterest accounts and dust off our own dreams, and maybe even move just one step closer to checking them off.


I can’t adequately express how thankful and, yes, humbled I was by every single well wisher and congratulatory message before, after and along the way. I am grateful for the guys in our group. I am grateful that pieces of the planet that look like that still exist and I pray my children get to see them some day. I am thankful for your readership, comments and emojis. They have warmed my heart and reaffirmed my decision to document these moments in my life, no matter how self-indulgent it feels at the time. I’m grateful for the laughter, the climbs, the descents and, of course, I’m thankful for the chance to make Biscuits out there in the brilliant, vast wilderness.

 Until next time …