The Broken Scale

The mirror.

The scale.


The bathing suit.

The jeans.


Your mom.

The billboards.

Your partner. 

The dressing room mirrors.

Superbowl commercials. 

Most commercials.

That woman at the gym.

The size on your clothing tag. 




The button-up that won’t button up.


The looks on the street.

The way your bra fits, or doesn’t.

The bathroom mirror.

Your coach.


The dress.


That guy at the store.


The mirror again.

Why do we hate our bodies so much?

Why is the demand so high and the desire/standard so impossible to satiate?

Women, let me tell you something. We have drank the KoolAid. We have swallowed, ingested, internalized, believed, aligned and nearly become one with the preposterous idea, that how we look, how we appear, dictates how we should feel and how we should live. 

When do we feel good? When we look good. 

Some of my best days have been when my face, clothing, hair, and most importantly, physical physique, have looked the way I’ve been told (and I continue to tell myself) it should look. We have a goal in mind and when we get closer to looking like that goal, we walk differently. We have more confidence and we smile more. We flirt. We joke. Life feels better. We don’t put ourselves down as much, at least not for the moment. We feel good because we’ve met some mark or we are getting closer to it. And we tell ourselves that we will be better when we arrive at that mark.

I’ll look better when I lose 15 pounds. If I could just drop a size, I’d be happy. Don’t take a picture, I look awful. I’m not wearing that until I put some meat on these bones. I want curves before I start dating. I don’t want them to see me naked. Let me get rid of my overhang, my muffin top, my double chin, my arm fat. 

Then I can. Then I will. Then I’ll be….

I’m going to share a story that was just one transformative moment in my lifelong endeavor to truly love myself, which means to love my body. (Because guess what? We don’t just have bodies, we are bodies). 

Years ago, I was in Hawaii with some close family members. It was a time in my life when I was trying to exercise more regularly but feeling discouraged because I didn’t have a lot of extra time between raising children and being a full-time graduate student. Eating was all over the place, but otherwise, I was relatively healthy. But I desperately wanted that hot body. You know, that one we’ve been told is the superior goal of all human existence? 

It had been a rough day. I was pretty drained from an awesome but busy vacation and it was towards the end. I was missing my husband who couldn’t go on this trip due to work obligations and the fact that we had used up his PTO on other adventures. I was feeling crummy about the way my stomach “sat” on my bikini bottom. And the way my body was covered with freckles. And about a dozen other things. I had ran the morning before and felt great during it, but I had also compared myself to the hundreds of beautiful bodies that I saw on the island over that week. Will I ever get defined ab muscles, do they even exist? Why am I short and stalky? Why, cellulite, why? We went to a more secluded beach late in the afternoon. It was a little windy and we were on the fence as adults about whether we had the energy to go out at all. But, kids have mysterious ways… of knowing what they want at all times no matter how you feel as a parent. My two children were there and my niece. They were climbing along large boulders near the ocean’s edge. The scenery was beautiful, but I did not feel beautiful. I had eaten a fairly hefty lunch and felt remorse about it. Not because I was particularly uncomfortable physically, but because I was incredibly critical and neurotic mentally.  

I remember sitting on a beach towel at the top of the hill overlooking the beach, lying down so I could feel thinner and not see my saggy boobs…you know, soaking up a bit of sun but really having a pity party because my body didn’t look the way I wanted it to. I remember looking over at my mom who has also struggled with feeling down about her how her body looks most of her adult life. She was in a better mood than me that day, but I felt sorry for both of us. And I felt annoyed that my body wouldn’t cooperate and look the way I was constantly telling it to look. 

And then my daughter ran up, calling at me from the rocks and then all the way up the hill. “Mom, there’s a sea turtle!” 

Where, where?!?” 

I leapt from my towel and grabbed our disposable but waterproof camera that we had purchased. My bare feet running down the hill with my belly flab doing, well who cares what it was doing. I wasn’t thinking about that at all. I got to the water and she and my son pointed it out. It was gorgeous. (I am so in love with animals). And I also love to swim and happen to be decent at it. Even though I knew it was illegal and forbidden to touch the turtles, it was not forbidden to swim with them. I grabbed the goggles from my brother, told him to fetch his GoPro, and I dove into the blue-green water. Or at least I would have, but I couldn’t because I wasn’t sexy enough. I wasn’t thin and toned enough. My lips are a little too thin. You cannot swim with turtles if you don’t look good while doing it…

Oh, wait. That last part is all bullshit. 

The truth is, I did swim with that turtle. Right next to him (no idea if it was a him because that probably doesn’t matter either). I glided through the water, watching it move its limbs, looking at its awesome face and eyes. The water felt so great and I was so thankful I had snorkeling gear so I had the mask to see that creature so clearly. I loved him. I swam and swam. I would come up for air and talk to the kids and a few nearby adults with quick updates. The turtle liked the rocks and was eating something on them. (I doubt he was concerned about caloric intake or how he would look the next day). I remember a time when he ventured farther away from the rocky area and we swam side-by-side for a good minute or two straight out towards the ocean depths. He turned around, I came up for air again and turned with him. It was a beautiful experience for me. My children got to see me really living and loving every second of it. They got to see me free from shame and criticism. I felt alive and connected to our world and to these incredible animals we share the earth with. I felt happy. I felt humble and grateful. And I touched his shell (shhh, don’t tell). Just a gentle touch, just once. I didn’t realize how much of a ‘thank you’ it was from me to him at the time, but I definitely knew something as I walked up the hill, soaking wet at the end of a beautiful setting of the sun. 

The kids, and some other awesome women that were strangers but fellow sojourners.

It’s almost too magical to capture with words. The feeling I had. The difference between my internal state before swimming and after. And here’s what washed over me that day. I can swim. I can run (not well, not for long, but I made it down the hill and into the ocean). I can play like a child and be filled with awe. And let me tell you, friends, not one time, not even for one moment, did I think anything about the bikini I was swimming in. Not once did the fat on my body ruin the experience. The size of my butt or my thighs didn’t mean a thing. The turtle didn’t give one lick about what I was wearing and neither did I. I could have been naked and there would have been no time, no need, and no reason for shame. I was a body swimming with another body. The beauty was not held in what I looked like, or what he looked like. (how do we even judge turtle beauty?) The beauty was in the experience of being alive and doing something that brought joy and happiness. A sense of being free and also being connected to others. I walked up the hill not giving a shit what my wet body looked like in the bathing suit. I wasn’t even conscious of it because that was not and is not the point of living. I was doing something I wanted to do and could do and not allowing false beliefs about myself to hold me back. 

I’m going to propose a radical idea. Simplistic and not at all original but radical because it is so hard to do. And so hard to do because we have to continually do it and fight against what we’ve been taught. Not once, but a thousand times in a thousand ways. 

It begins and essentially revolves around a question: In what ways has the shape and size of your body kept you from living your life? 

And said a bit differently: what things do you want to do but you cannot do because of some aspect of how you look? 

The answer(s) to this question will likely lead us to think about different components of living. Well, I can’t wear my wedding dress anymore. I can’t fit into my jeans. I can’t shake my ass when I dance cause I don’t have one. I can’t walk into a class without feeling embarrassed. I can’t squat 200 pounds. I can’t run a 10k or half marathon. 

Maybe you haven’t been able to fit into different things, like seats at an event or on an airplane or that shirt your mom gave you. Or maybe, for health reasons based on weight, you’ve had to limit some activities. Maybe you can’t sleep well at night. Perhaps you cannot do the athletic or active things you once could or have always wanted to do. Maybe it is hard to make it up a flight of stairs or to hike in a national park.

Now, let’s ask it again. Be honest and accurate with yourself. Subtracting all of the things that you have told yourself you can’t do because of your weight/body fat/height/looks, etc, what things are you actually limited by because of your body shape and/or size? 

Can you begin to make two different lists? #1: Can you identify what things you truly want to do that you truly cannot do because of your body size, shape, composition? 

And on the other list, #2: What are all the things you’ve told yourself you cannot do because of your shape and size or how you look? 

Is there a difference? The first list is one that does indeed matter. It tells you that maybe there are ways in which you want to get stronger so you can do something. Or get more cardio endurance, again so you can do something. Perhaps health is a concern– and in no way am I downplaying that health matters. If your physician tells you that you need to lose body fat so that your heart can operate well and you can play with your dog and go on that hike you’ve always wanted, you damn well better put that on the first list. Your health matters because your life matters. If you need a tighter core because your back is killing you, yep, that goes on list #1. Also, if you want to bench 200 and you cannot yet because you need more muscle mass, okay. I hear you. I honor that. You have goals and you want things. GOOD. It’s important to find things that bring you joy and purpose and meaning, and sometimes we gotta change even our body composition or our endurance, etc., to meet those goals. 

But, here’s the thing. Those things on even that list should be solely that: your goals. 

Not your self-evaluation.

Not your sense of lovableness.

Not your scale for your self-esteem. 

Your goals, your aims, that’s it. You won’t be worthy when you arrive at the goals. You’ll arrive at your goals, in your own way and your own time and how you need or want to, because you are already worthy. And if you change your mind or adjust your goals, your value as a human being does not change.

Last but not least, I want you to make a third list. In fact, this one is probably the most important and yet the hardest to feel like what’s on it is “good enough” or makes the big difference. This one is gonna be long and I want you to keep adding to it. 

List #3: Write down everything you can do right now with your body. Assuming you stay JUST AS YOU ARE, what things can you do, do you do, that you enjoy and want to do? In other words, what are all the ways you are living your life and doing things with that body you have right now? 

Again, maybe you are injured or maybe you are ill. Maybe you cannot do all that you want. That’s okay. We’re not asking on this list all the things you cannot do. We made that one already, right? This list #3, is what you CAN do. 

Can you offer a cup of coffee to a friend?

Can you enjoy a hot shower?

Can you play the violin or guitar or my version of the drums which is really anything that sounds cool when I pat it with my hands?

Can you grocery shop?

Can you enjoy ice cream and name the flavor with your eyes closed?

Can you go snow tubing?

Can you throw snowballs at your neighbor? (but should you?)

Can you smell lemons? Cucumbers? Baked bread?

Can you pillow fight with your kids or your partner?

Can you offer an affirmation to someone who needs it?

Can you walk? Outside? Through the trees?

Can you feel sand between your toes?

Can you plant a flower for your neighbor because you nailed them with a snowball last winter?

Can you laugh?

But, can you snort? (will you allow yourself to?)

What about dancing? (I don’t wanna hear I’m not a good dancer. I’m asking–can you dance?)

Can you enjoy a massage?

Can you have sex?

Can you sing?

Can you hug someone or offer to hold the door open?

Can you wrestle or snuggle your pet?

Can you lift more weights that you could last week? Or do it with better form? Or more exertion?

Can you smile?

Can you sit at Thanksgiving with loved ones?

Can you listen to a baby coo?

Can you shake what your momma gave ya? 

Can you skip? Jump rope? Roller skate?

Could you swim with me, perhaps a life vest needed and that’s fine, if we happen to run into another sea turtle in this lifetime?

Can you feel the sunshine on your face? Or smell the rain? Feel the wind in your hair?

Your body matters. It has brought you to this day, to this place, and it is you. You have much to celebrate and appreciate about that incredible body that YOU ALREADY HAVE. The radical transformation we need? Is to earnestly focus on functionality and not on appearance. To practice feeling grateful instead of grossed out. To feel good regardless of the mirror. To get a new scale that has nothing to do with numbers. Or better yet, throw out any and all scales (literal, symbolic, abstract) that sap joy from your life. The goal isn’t to shift into criticizing ourselves for what our bodies can and cannot do. Our goal is to live freely within love and to experience true joy for being alive, being embodied, and being embedded within communities that lift us if we literally or metaphorically cannot walk. To truly love our bodies because they are. Love comes first, and not as a reward.

And listen, I have in no way arrived at some perfect internal place of loving myself or my body all the time. I just try to focus and work towards having more and more moments, for longer periods of time, where I choose to love my body as is, instead of waiting to love it when I get to some place. 

Cause here’s the thing. If I can’t love my body now, TODAY, in the way I look in my bathing suit right now before I shave these legs, then I won’t truly be loving myself either if I get to a place where I’m struttin my stuff in a bikini at a lower weight or with more muscles showin. That’s not self-love. That’s conditional approval.

And life’s too short and too important to chase conditions!

I’m rocking the bikini (or whatever else I feel like wearing) now and always, cause my body has a lot to do and feel and enjoy.  

My scale that day.

Hold your breath.

Take heart. 

Allow yourself to feel it. It will break you, but it will not destroy you. 

I broke at the bridge, as I was driving to a physical therapy appointment and saw the visual of the smoke over the river, the birds quiet, the ducks sitting on the same dock we had jumped from just a week before. 

Life is vulnerable and delicate. All of life. And the beauty remains through the darkness, but the truth blazes in a different way. How often our lenses are clouded by the clear skies and what can take place in comfort–which is a neglect of gratitude and tenderness and active, compassionate care of all that is precious. 

I just watched My Octopus Teacher, a documentary about a man who became more alive and more connected through the literal and symbolic dive into the depths of the ocean and his self–the earth, the world that is always there and here and yet is not often truly seen or experienced. If you haven’t watched it, go do that now. 

There was a photographer down below. I saw no one else nearby and heard just a faint whisper from the river that all is not well. There was silence between this other human and myself. Both of us taking pictures, trying to capture what cannot be truly captured. And certainly not with words. Only with emotions and connection really, but we directly expressed nothing. We didn’t need to. 

To be empathic means to allow the power of love to truly devastate you. Because love will again, break you. To feel what is true and real and meaningful all around us. To know that control is what you must relinquish. It will hurt. It will rip open the armor you have tried very hard to tightly wrap around your inner most depths so that you can endure the suffering. But to turn off any part of your self is also suffering. Numbness, morphine–it’s a slow death.

Smoky air fills up the breath of life. Graffiti all along the rails and posts and overpasses. It reminds us that there is much to say and much to feel and that at times, it is displayed in our faces because nothing else can be. The colors, the letters–‘I will not be silent but I will also not be fully known.’ 

As fires burn up the beautiful west coast, it is yet one more reminder that we as humans do not have full control. And also that we must rely on something else deeper and more powerful. I have unfortunately become numb to some of my own pain. And when it erupted this morning, I did not have any more answers. I still felt the chaos of not knowing what to do, how to start, where to go, and if I should put my mask on. 

But I felt the fullness of what life is. Fragile and heartbreakingly beautiful and good, except for all those parts when it is not. We have to somehow walk outside barefoot and willing and open, knowing simultaneously that we cannot save everything and that we also must relentlessly try. However, we cannot do it without our full selves. We must act, but we cannot truly know how or when or why without the guidance of that emotional, empathic, connected self that must not be neglected nor shutoff nor purely irritated. We all bleed the same. And everybody loves ice cream. Don’t you forget your humanity. Sometimes all it takes is to help a hurting animal or hug someone who is scared like you to remember who you are. Do that. Don’t let your ego tell you that you cannot do anything because there is too much to do. There’s something for each of us to do, and something for all of us to do together. Start now. 

The common octopus often only lives for one year. Then the process of creating hundreds of thousands of eggs that will develop into only 1-5 living babies deteriorates her body until she passes. But she fully lives that one year and it is remarkable to think about how we can do the same with whatever time we have. 

I march for your daughter, and for mine.

In just two days, a global event will take place where more than one million people will march together for justice, peace, equality, and hopefully, ultimately, love.

The Women’s March on Washington attracted both men and women in all our diversity, and has now blossomed into 600+ sister marches across the U.S. and, beautifully, across the world. The mission and vision for this march can be found here, complete with a full PDF.


As the march approaches, my heart somehow feels both broken and incredibly strong, simultaneously. Truthfully, this march could have occurred during any year, any day, of our history here on earth. And in some ways, I’m sure it has. Individuals, tribes, communities, villages, organizations, groups, and even countries have encountered and protested injustices since the beginning of time. The battles have been fierce, hard fought, and never-ending. And yet, this march occurs the day after we feel reality set in as we reflect upon the actions of our new so-called leader here in the U.S. And, more importantly, as we gaze upon our own faces in the mirror and reflect on just who we are and what we will stand for.

It is a significant time.

And I choose to march. Not because it will miraculously save the world or protect all of those who are oppressed. Not because it is the ultimate action that is needed.

I march because they march, because many have marched. Countless have worked, and spoke up, and fought, and sacrificed.  I march because there is a ‘we.’  I march because I refuse to let the incredible work of so many less fortunate and less privileged than myself go in vain.

But, to give that more concrete and personal terms, to bring it home so to speak, here’s the real deal:

I march for your daughter. And I march for mine.

Now, when I say “daughter,” I encourage you to hear at least two things. First, make no mistake that I am marching and advocating for females across the world, including my own incredible daughter. This event is titled a women’s march for a reason, and that reason is because women have been, and still are, relentlessly viewed and treated as less than. I march as a woman, for women.

However, the importance of the second meaning of the term “daughter” (as I’d like to use it) is vital for all of us to understand and embrace. It requires you, us, to dig deep and identify the daughter within. A daughter, a baby girl, can evoke a beautiful hope, a tenderness and compassion, that few other experiences can. Her gaze dares us to be authentic and present, to be strong and protective…not because she needs it in the way the world has twisted and warped the word “need,” but because we need it. We need to have a reason to be courageous, a person to unearth our potential, to motivate us to fully embrace who we are with an openness that a daughter brings to us.  Think of an infant girl, that young toddler that you’ve seen or held, perhaps the one you’ve lost, or the one longed for, or who is on the way….look into her eyes. She reflects you, does she not? She offers a mirror and a magnifying glass. She is somehow looking at you in a way that allows you to really see yourself and what you are capable of, both good and bad. You see her and you see you, and that can be both mesmerizing and terrifying.

Our sons can evoke this same response, and I am certainly not suggesting a gender binary here that isn’t helpful or which further contributes to gender bias.  But I would argue that because of our sociocultural conditioning, or perhaps how we were created, or likely a combination of factors, a daughter can symbolically represent something unique and powerful. The ‘daughter’ can represent that part of us that holds the most important truths about who we are as human beings.

That part of us that is strong, and yet viewed or treated as weak.

The part that sometimes stays hidden or masked, because it’s afraid of rejection.

And, indeed, that part often does experience rejection.

That part of us that knows she desperately needs others. She was created to need and be needed by others.

It’s the part that sometimes sacrifices, perhaps even too much, for the sake of others.

The daughter isn’t selfish or narcissistic. She looks and sees the worth of the earth and all that resides in it.

It is the part that tragically gets neglected or abused most often.

It’s the part of us that we are ambivalent about. We question its worth, too.

The part that might have been silenced, or imprisoned, or even killed.

And yet, it is also the part that must live.

The world depends on her crucial, honest, and worthy voice.

We each have a daughter, perhaps only within, but no less real. Many of us have or are in contact with multiple daughters. Half of the world has experienced being a daughter, in a very literal sense, and all of us have encountered one.

And therefore, I, we, will march for them. For us.

I march for anyone and everyone that has ever been treated as less than.

I march for the times when I  have treated others as less than.

I march for those who are marginalized, outcast, and spat upon.

I march against greed, against hate, against the destructive forces aimed to injure or destroy our daughters.

I march for my dear friends who have been sexually assaulted or raped.

For the children who have cried with me, or who have been numbed by their experiences of neglect and abuse.

I march for the children, men, and women who are used as objects.

I march against the idea that one human life is more valuable than another.

I march for those that do not have the ability to speak or to make their voices heard.

I march against the ways in which, even as women, we degrade and judge one another.

I march for those who need our support as they explore their own gender and sexual identities.

I march for the minorities who experience daily threats.

I march for those who have been told that they somehow do not belong…to the human race.

I march because I am prone to these destructive forces.


I march because the God I believe in has been, and continues to be, used to justify violence, prejudice, oppression, and murder. And I protest that.

And yet, I march because I know He created male and female, every human being, in His image.

And this gives worth that cannot ultimately be taken, destroyed, or dismissed.

I march for my own daughter as she continues to receive false but powerful messages about what she must be to earn her worth.

I march for my son who is also objectified and told what he must be to earn his worth.

I march for those whose basic needs are not being met.

I march for the forgotten veterans and elders in our communities.

I march for me, for my mother, for my grandmothers.

I march because I have been used, discredited, ignored, objectified, neglected, and threatened because of my gender.


And yet, I march because I count. And so does she.

So do you.


I march for your daughters, for our daughters.

And I will march for and with my own.





It’s not him, it’s us.

Breathe…take another breath.

There are no words to describe the amount of heartache, nausea, and shattering pain that I feel in my heart. My “allegiance” is to God, but it is identity-shattering to absorb the full impact as we recognize just what this country is…and what the Christian church in the U.S. has become. I have never felt so ashamed to be an American, though I have carried and wrestled with the realities of it for decades. To realize that the same hatred and greed that drove colonization and slavery is still alive and breathing in the hearts of both men and women in this country. How can it be?! I scream out in terror as it has become so explicit. This isn’t about Trump. This is about what he illuminated in a majority of people in this country. What he brought back up to the surface and then fueled. This is about you. And about me. About us.

This is certainly NOT just about politics. I am so tired of hearing that this is somehow about two parties, about different “opinions” of political issues. This is so beyond that; in fact, somewhere outside of it because it fully encompasses human existence. I can talk to you about our politics all day long. I can and have had rich conversations, fruitful ones, about important issues. Life is messy and I can go there. I can talk about the complexity of political topics. But this is about what has been festering in the hearts of both men and women. This is about the hunger for power, dominance, and wealth that drove colonization and slavery. About ignorance and divisiveness. And it is so dehumanizing when people will not acknowledge that these biases are a significant part of the truth. The destructive beliefs and feelings–they still exist at the same level for many people in this country that we claim is somehow free and just? You’re proud of that?? To be a country that was built on the backs and with the lives of the people we killed then and reject and kill now? The very people that are judged, ignored, oppressed, abused, and excluded…the people that are deemed less than, in your heart of hearts, and you’re going to sit here and tell me this is simply about politics? Lies!!! Do not lie to me, to yourself, and to others who are legitimately vulnerable. That devalues the worth of every single human being.

Now, you may claim that you are not those things. Racism, sexism, prejudices–those are not the reasons that you voted the way you did. Many who voted for Trump say they are sick of the status quo, that they feel vulnerable or threatened, that their values would have been threatened with Hillary Clinton. But, I tell you, that is not good enough to vote for him. Look, I earned a Ph.D in empathy. I can understand that you are against abortion and big government, for example. I know that you care deeply about your loved ones and that you feel fear, too. I know that you hold values and traditions of your own and that you felt pretty stuck in this election. I, too, do not want women to abort their babies. I want healthy, loving families. Ones who have options that do not leave them haunted and ashamed. But, that is a limited view if it ends there. Do you know how many minority women do not have the same privileges, education, access to birth control, free will in relationships, etc. that you have?? You must know that men still refuse to use condoms, right? That women may not have power in relationships…you at least recognize that, please tell me? That sex education is sparse and superficial and completely absent in nearly all Christian circles. And do you know how much drug use, rape, and poverty overwhelms the lives of so many people because of the greed of others? Because not everyone has their own boots, damn it. Not everyone was born white (thank God, truly), or into a two-parent home, or into this country, or free. Do you know the sex trafficking industry breeds on 10-15-year-old girls? Do you know who pays for the porn industry?? White men and Christian men, too. The sexual abuse and manipulation of women crosses all demographics. So many people talk about abortion being a convenient choice for women who have what they need. And yes, those are some of the cases. But, not all of them, not even a majority of them. C’mon. You have to be ready to admit the complex truth of these situations. This is just the beginning of the complexity of the abortion issue, but do not be ignorant about a topic that is going to determine who you vote for on election day.

Please also do not pretend or claim that you did not have options. If you really detested Hillary or felt so against who she might appoint, or had deep conflict with her political policies, you had others to vote for. And that should have sparked the realization that Trump does not hold your values, either. He is a liar. He would encourage women to get an abortion and is in fact, pro-choice. Thus, that particular reason to reject Hillary is garbage. And I could talk about so many others with that same important questions. But, this is not about him. You had a choice. There were third-party candidates. And there was time and good reason to ask yourself why you were truly rejecting her if it means selling your soul (aka, morality, integrity) over policies. What your vote condones or allows others to do is just as important as whether your chosen candidate “believes” the same way you do about business, immigration, and abortion. And this is what you need to admit and wrestle with openly, as you dismiss the heartbreak and fear of vulnerable groups: Any vote for self-protection is selfish if it results in the abuse and neglect of others. 

What about lives? What about human beings? I thought you said you were pro-life?!

And to my Christian brothers and sisters, we have a higher calling. Are we really being salt and light right now? You cannot read the Bible and tell me that Jesus cared more about rules than about people. That he is somehow going to excuse us because well, we “followed the commandments.” No, you read the book we hold sacred and you see a God who loves the oppressed, who dies for them. He threw politics out the window. You see Jesus walking with those that you won’t even have a conversation with. Human relationships always trumped (ironic) the letter of the law. You see a God who loves and asks us to be the body of Jesus. To give until it hurts, and that means sharing your wealth. To give up your coat. To sacrifice so that others might share in what you have. You see a God who is going to rightfully call out the truth in us, and for us.

And the truth of the matter is that, as proud as you want to be of this country, we should be so ashamed of a number of things. We HAVE TO OWN the whole story. This country is not a white, Christian nation. We used, abused, tortured, and killed so many people groups and need to take full responsibility for that. Do you know who built our railroads?  Have you really strived to understand the enslavement of people because of their skin color? And the ways that still exists?? Do you have any idea what that looked like for human beings that deserve the same rights and freedoms that you have the privilege to carry because you happened to be born with white skin? Do you have any idea how many Native Americans we killed??? YOU SHOULD. This was not our land, and this is still not our land. This is God’s great earth and we are to tend it. We are to use it as a place of generosity, hospitality, and unity. We are not to strive for dominance and wealth, which is everything Trump values. Now, there are values that I am proud of in this country. And I do hold a profound amount of gratitude for what so many of died for. Our freedom, right? But to be proud to be an American can only happen if that freedom is actively being advocated and offered and available to all. My citizen African American brothers and sisters should not have to die for our comfort. For our freedom. For our power.

This is so much bigger than this one election. This is a huge reality check and some of us are completely traumatized by it. And I ache for those with far less security than me. I cannot imagine their valid anger, fear, and outcry. You should respect and honor that. It is sad that I even need to say that. It should be so clear. The pain that fills my eyes and the anger that is driving me to scream out to the Lord has to be a small portion of what Jesus felt when he overturned tables. And I am so flawed. I am guilty as well. But, I think it matters whether we are trying to do something about it or not. And in His great mercy and unfathomable love, Jesus, bleeding for us, somehow looked down at the people and asked God for forgiveness for them, for us, because we do not know what we have done.

Now, the scenarios running through my head of what could happen in this country may be a bit dramatic, but not unreasonable. Yet, I pray they are indeed blown way out of proportion in my imagination. And yet, the greatest pain comes when I really let the reality and fear sink in and realize that, if divided as it seems we are, I’ll be fighting on the opposite side of so many I love. And I won’t really be fighting, but praying. Advocating. Hiding perhaps. But to know that my heart and yours are in such different places is devastating to me. And can I share with you, that as a woman, I am so deeply hurt. It isn’t just the election, but the reality of the results sure dug the knife in deeper and then, twisted it. Women, half of the world, are still seen as less than; how can you handle that? Is that God? Is that what Christians stand for? That somehow women are still devalued, to the point where you would rather vote for a filthy man than to vote for a woman who has worked her butt off. Explain that to me. Tell me that you don’t have sexism ingrained in you as well. Ladies, it flows through us. We have been oppressed and have largely bought into this. I am guilty, and I fight it. It is killing me to sit here now, thinking of my daughter, and knowing that women were saying they would give up their hard-earned right to vote, if that meant Trump could win. Nauseating. Heartbreaking. That people are going to play the bologna email card against Hillary when your supposedly only alternative is a man who will do whatever he wants to, because he is a white male with money. He represents everything that I’m trying not to be or to allow. He is the rapist. He is the abuser. He believes his power gives him the right to determine whose lives matter. And that’s who you voted for? That’s who you want making decisions for your family, your friends, your neighbors? Because you agree with his politics? (that do not exist by the way…he makes them up as he goes, to get your vote). You are willing to check the box by his name because you believe that, even though he is flawed, he might somehow save America? From what exactly will he save it from?

As a way to close, I’m going to reflect on those I love and I encourage you to do the same. So many faces fill my mind. Stories, memories, human lives. The people and things I’d be willing to lay down my life for. I’m going to share some of my beliefs and my positions, because I believe that I matter as a human being, as a woman. For starters, I am honored by the diverse friends in my life and the way they embody the beauty of humanity. I love my brothers and sisters who have taught me so much about what it even means to love. To be human. I will fight with and for you. I care deeply for those who are rejected and ignored or ridiculed. Sexual or racial minorities, those in poverty, with mental illness, those who are outcasted. Those who are not heard and completely devalued so often. And that includes our rural farmers and those who have lost their jobs, their livelihood. That does matter. I’m sad if you somehow heard or perceived that it didn’t. That you didn’t. I also respect those with various religious beliefs, different from my own. I believe in a God of the universe who truly loves all people, Trump included. Even those we deem our enemies. Those who are destroying others. Somehow God, who when we were/are at our worst, in all of our sin, sent his only child to be brutally beaten and killed. I know that He died completely, and that His death was the victory. The moment you can love your enemy that way, you have already defeated hate, greed, and sin. And then, you have truly loved.

I have so much work to do over my lifetime. I will continue to strive to balance standing up for justice and loving graciously. Forgiveness–that is my goal. And because He loved me, I will strive to truly love others. To reach out to the sick, poor, needy, widowed, orphaned, oppressed. I will strive to be salt and light, even when that means confronting those I love with their choices as I expect them to do with mine. I will pray for those who have injured me and who have injured others. I will also, however, take a stand and advocate for those who have been put into a position where they do not have a voice that will be heard. I will fight for love and justice. I want to love our country, but I do not believe any country should be dominant. And with great power, comes enormous responsibility. So, if we are striving for true greatness, we will only achieve that by laying down what we think are our achievements. By giving up our power and comfort and our naiveté.

I love my children. I will defend them against any person or ideology that seeks to devalue them. My beautiful, strong daughter. I will continue to speak up about the longstanding and persistent gender issues that still embody our church. (So much more to say on that, but another time). I will teach her that she is not valuable because she is or is not beautiful, as subjectively defined by human standards. I will teach her, by example and word, that she is valuable because she is valuable. Because she is. She exists, she is human, and God gave her value. And the same for my young man. My son, who desperately needs role models, I will find those that can speak to him about self-love, humility, gentleness, and what true strength means. I will teach him that he does not need power, or wealth, or success, to be worthy of love and acceptance. That his greatest strength comes from his ability and choice to love others.  I’m not sure how I could kiss my children goodnight, quite honestly, if I had voted for someone who cares very little about human beings. Someone who clearly looks at my daughter and son and sees objects to be manipulated for their own gain. I know many of you who voted for Trump do indeed love your children, and I am not trying to shame you. You made a choice and some of you are probably uncomfortable with it. It’s just that I cannot reconcile the two right now.

I am so angry. But even more so, deeply crushed. Bleeding in pain. Writing has helped move some of the anger so that I can see even more clearly the person I want to be. But, I will not feel guilty for calling out the hatred that exists. I will not feel less Christian for feeling anger and for speaking up about it. Or for creating boundaries around just what I let you say to my children. You will have to answer to them when they ask the questions about who you voted for and why. My daughter woke up saying that she didn’t want to talk to anyone at school today. That she didn’t even want to converse. She, in her gentle and accepting spirit, has no words. I know she hurts so deeply and is trying to hold very complicated and heavy questions. My son stated that he was concerned about WWIII, and expressed that he feared he might die young. Can you hold that with me for a moment? And this is not because we go around bashing Trump or promoting apocalyptic thinking in our house. We have not talked about a war at all. This is because they truly get it. There is a lot at stake here. The country is fighting, divided, and many seem unwilling to offer empathy, to try to understand, and to grow in awareness. And I’m proud of my children for knowing that. For caring about it. For truly grieving and expressing themselves.

It is time for us to ask ourselves who we are. To search our hearts and minds and really be honest with ourselves and one another. I will pray for the church to mourn, to reflect, to come together somehow, and then to rise as the servant body of Christ, and to answer back with a love that will shake the ground we all walk on.

Good Fruit: Part 1

I became a Type I Diabetic at the age of 7. My mother was basically a single mom at that time, with a lineage of men who had chosen other priorities other than staying faithful to their families. As such, she worked full-time and was an excellent example of hard work, perseverance, and care and love for her children. We were never starving nor did we go without nurturance and what we needed, but medical expenses were difficult with my chronic illness and finances were never something that came easy. Child support was not paid by my father, so my mom was left to carry the full responsibility for me and my brother. She often kept the struggle to herself, but I had an idea and I know now just how much she was juggling stress and worry about my health, and about how she was going to pay for the care that I needed.

Working part-time was never an option. As a young mother, she didn’t have the privilege of going to college, so though she found good jobs, she was never paid what she truly should have been making. Through her employment, though, my mother always made sure we had health insurance. And as you well know, some insurance companies provide good coverage, yet some do not and many have high premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. The cost of a single bottle of insulin, usually lasting me about 4-5 weeks, was several hundred dollars without insurance. And then there was the cost of all of the other supplies, plus the medical visits to ensure I stayed healthy. We often drove 3.5 hours to see my endocrinologist, because my small town did not have the medical resources that a young diabetic needs.

My mom had worked for our local airport, and was laid off due to downsizing. Thus, we were without insurance for a time and it was tough to make ends meet. Paying for my diabetic supplies was difficult and my mom had my younger brother to care for as well. There were also some insurance companies who would not cover me as I had a “pre-existing condition.” Enter a huge gift from the government: CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program). I still remember the relief we felt as one of my doctors shared with my mom that there was a health insurance program for children that I would likely qualify for, and that it had very small co-pays, even for high-cost items like insulin and test strips. I did qualify, and this was a huge blessing to our family and gave me options I hadn’t had before.

Enter my teenage years. With puberty, changing hormones, and my divided attention and somewhat rebellious spirit, diabetes became more difficult to control. One of my dear friends (also a Type I Diabetic) and I decided that candy bars were a perfectly acceptable afternoon snack as we TA’d for our middle-school teacher. Don’t judge–we were sick of the carrot sticks and nasty sugar-free candy. Now, diabetes is a very difficult disease to endure and control for anyone. But, at this point, I was desperately trying to get my blood sugar levels to a desired range. The best way to do that is an insulin pump, yet those ran upwards of $3,000, with the needed supplies several hundred dollars more per month. The second best way was the method I was using, which involved taking one injection in the morning and then a shot every time I consumed any amount of carbohydrates. You can imagine how that goes when you are a teenager with five minutes between classes and a deep desire to socialize. Not only did I often run high blood sugar levels, which are responsible for devastating complications such as blindness and kidney failure, but I had severe low blood sugars as well, which are more serious in the acute sense. My mother was scared to death because these sometimes resulted in me passing out and falling.

Two low blood sugar reactions stand out the most. Primarily because my mother has recounted the stories multiple times, each time describing how terrifying they were for her.

The first was a scenario in which my mother walked into our kitchen in the early morning to find me standing at the counter eating brownies straight out of the pan. She recalls smiling and asking me “Brownies for breakfast?” At that point, I turned and looked at her with a slight smile, and then passed out and fell straight back on the kitchen floor. Thankfully, the brownies kicked in and raised my blood sugar enough that I came to before she needed to call for an ambulance. Yet, I was nauseated and had a headache for the entire day, as was always the case after a severe low reaction.

The second incident was more serious. My mother came downstairs to my bedroom to make sure I was up and getting ready for school. She walked into my room to see me sitting on the carpet, staring at the blood on my hands, with a large pool of blood on my head. I had fallen again, but this time hit the corner of my dresser. I woke up at the hospital with the doctor stitching up my gash. That day, the doctor had a long and detailed conversation with us about our options for trying to get my diabetes under better control. When he found out we had CHIP, his mood immediately improved. He gave us the wonderful news that this insurance would actually cover an insulin pump for me, and would also cover 90-100% of the supplies I needed to be able to use the pump.

A few weeks later, we drove that 3.5 hours again, but this time came home with a very expensive device that has likely saved my life. Not only did my diabetes get under better control during my teenage years, but I still wear the pump to this day and though control is still somewhat elusive at times, my long-term prognosis is significantly better with this medical technology.

And here’s what is important to recognize and acknowledge. The hard work, intelligence, understanding, and compassion of Hillary Clinton played an enormous role in my story. She and her husband were not the only ones involved in getting CHIP going, but she was a critical player and fought hard for it. And she worked with both Republicans and Democrats to ensure that the states were adopting the program, and that it was successful and effective at increasing health care for children.

Not only that, but many people claim that Democrats are too liberal in their promotion of welfare for U.S. citizens. You have undoubtedly heard of people who are receiving welfare (of any sort) mocked and judged for their laziness or desire to live off of the government. To not do their fair share. And to drain the pockets of the “real” hardworking Americans.

I am here to say that my mother is the exact opposite of those things, and so am I. She was doing all she could as a single mother and she represents the people and situations that many politicians are advocating for and trying to help. A country that takes care of its women and children is a loving and successful country indeed. May my story just be a reminder to all of us that there is huge variability in the stories of human beings, and that we are better people when we are supporting one another. Though there may be some who are inappropriately utilizing the welfare systems in our country, there are many who do not have a lot of options or who are relying on it for a time.

I am now 36 years old and have had two healthy children of my own. I’ve carried my own health insurance throughout my adult life and my husband and I pay a ridiculous amount of money for my diabetic supplies. However, I am happy to say that my diabetes is under relatively good control and I have no complications as of yet. I am so incredibly grateful to Hillary Clinton and to all of the others who were involved in the huge success of CHIP. Thank you, Hillary, for caring enough about families to make sure this didn’t slip through the cracks. For negotiating, brainstorming, and advocating for me. It was so needed by my family at a critical time in my life.

To the rest of us, please bite your tongue when you are tempted to make blanket generalizations about welfare and who is on it. You might say that my case is a rare exception, but that is simply not true. Single parents, those born into poverty, those who are injured or suffer a major medical illness, veterans, those with severe mental illness, etc., etc, do not have the same luxuries and privileges that you might. They cannot simply “pick themselves up by their bootstraps” because they don’t have boots. Nor do they have a way to get boots. They would have great difficulty even finding a pair. They need us. And what greater love can we show than to offer our boots to them? Some people need the help of others. They need the village. In fact, ALL people need help at different points in their life, financial or otherwise. My story is but one in a million and there are so many people that I have worked with who are rightfully dependent upon their community for a huge variety of reasons. Here is an encouragement to all of us, and to our politicians, to keep working for adequate, available, and affordable health insurance for everyone. And a call for all of us to enjoy the giving process, to reap the fruits of a generous spirit.


Clear the Fog, He’s still here.

I woke up to see thick fog.

It was smothering the trees and crowding the clearing just outside our backyard. It was gazing in at me, greeting me with a serious and poignant “hello.” It has been a while since I’ve seen it. Little glimpses here and there throughout this Autumn season, but it’s been noticeably absent this year, which is atypical for the Pacific Northwest.

It was one of those captivating fogs, arriving on a morning in which I woke to realize that I had nothing planned. Plenty on the to-do list, but nothing pressing, not urgent. Nothing that I cared enough about to peel myself out of bed for. Fog, chilly air from the open window, and my warm golden nestled next to me and into my pillow. I felt like I was being spoken to, as I gazed out of the window. There was a vitality to the fog and to the morning, something I haven’t felt in quite some time. I wasn’t energetic, though, just fully awake and alert. No desire to do anything, but just sit and think and listen.

Truth be told, it’s been a very difficult season for me. Depression has been with me in ways that I haven’t encountered before. That might be one way to describe it. Throughout my life, I can recall a pervasive sadness that I’ve carried. Psychologists often call this dysthymia, which can mean a consistent depressed mood, not always as severe as major depressive episodes. Periods of grief, irritability, often criticalness. Those are unfortunately my familiar companions. However, this is different. It’s a deep grief, one that seizes you at your very core. One that feels like thick mud. I’ve been more irritable, more angry, full of more despair, than ever before. My family has noticed it, but otherwise, I’ve largely kept this one to myself. Unwise I know, but it felt protective and necessary all the same.

In some ways, it makes sense or at least isn’t shocking. I recently finished a very long and arduous journey through graduate school. It was trying and I am likely still exhausted from that process. It can also be heartbreaking at times to reflect on things. Both the goods and the bads. To feel it all. Nostalgia, longing, gratitude, regret, wishes, hope, guilt. I might be trying to adjust to this new phase, to figure out who I am now that I’m not a student. Plus, I’m in a weird limbo state, where my future steps or career choices are unknown. Tomorrow is unknown. Things are still new and somewhat foreign here in Portland as well. Roots are fragile. I miss my friends. I miss the sun. It would make sense, then, that I might be feeling sadness, anxiety, grief.

But, the despair. That’s the thing. That is the formidable foe that, up until this point, I have easily kept at bay. And then, the realization. That perhaps I have been working so hard so that there is no time for feelings of hopelessness or despair. It feels deep, whatever it is. Everything on the outside is well enough. It’s a beautiful Autumn season. My children are healthy and doing well in school. Everyone is starting to make friends. There’s enough on the schedule, but not too much. I am able to clean my house and bake and exercise. Things I’ve missed doing over the past seven years. In some ways, I feel a happiness that I haven’t felt in a while. A breath of fresh air and a chance to exhale it. But then, there’s me.

Something’s shaken up inside. An identity crisis perhaps? Or maybe a real awareness of who I am and who I want to be, and the seemingly cemented gap between the two.

And the world, the country, the election. What a mess. Heartbreaking, disappointing, discouraging. It doesn’t seem coincidental that all of that is happening as I’m feeling the weight of what sometimes feels like human depravity. Yet, those are not the primary cause of despair for me. They illuminate a lot of what I question and feel, but the despair stems from the stuff that’s embedded internally. Or has been. It is the questions I have for God and for all of us. For my close friends and my husband. For my children. For myself. Who am I, and who are you?


Maybe it is clearing, and what I gaze upon is hard to bear.

I prayed this morning for the first time in months. Sure, I’ve said the quick prayers here and there for family and friends. I’ve bowed my head at church and tried to offer words to God, I’ve prayed at the dinner table. But, this morning, I prayed. I’m not sure how to describe the difference, other than it was one of those times where I made myself present. It was the intention perhaps, or the willingness to really show up and then to communicate with God in a way that involved me in my vulnerability. Similar to when you have a conversation with your friend or therapist, and you aren’t fully there. You aren’t really sharing you and who you are in that moment. Do you know those times? When you are speaking and being as authentic as you can, but the real you is hidden or present somewhere else.  It was a quiet prayer, with few words. I sought to listen and found myself not really needing to speak. But just to sit with God, silently. To begin to show him my face and my heart in ways that I haven’t wanted to in a while.

I only closed my eyes for a minute, maybe two. And I opened them to see sun brilliantly shining on the tree tops. The fog was almost completely gone. Incredible. I have never seen fog clear so fast. I had to squint and move to different angles to try and see. There were only whispers of it in the distant trees. This morning, I had woken up after the sunrise, so it was as if the sun had been waiting being the curtain. She was the second act, just after the fog did its work.

It brings tears to my eyes as I write about it. And that gives me a healing sense of hope. Because something was exchanged there. It was real and a step in the right direction. There were no promises made, no apologies, no steps planned. Just a meeting. A meeting with the God of the universe, who I have struggled with over the past year. A God who I have distanced myself from, because I have big questions. Who are you and who am I? I have anger to express and a lot of guilt and shame to lay down. But, it must come in good time. A relationship, a reconciliation, that’s hard work. It’s just beginning, but I was so sweetly broken by just the slightest beginning this morning that I knew I wanted to share it.

Mismatch Day: It’s not about Portland.

The final requirement of my graduate program is a one-year, full-time internship. It’s a grueling application process, and one that you’ve spent the better part of your energies preparing for throughout your entire graduate training. And if you are a friend or even FB friend of mine, it’s been no secret that this was a tough process for me, as it is for most of the many, many graduate students competing for a limited number of sites. And the “match” was something that was deeply painful for me to experience. That moment when you check your email to find out how or if everything worked itself out and if your hard work and diligence (and let’s not forget hundreds to thousands of dollars) was all worth it.

For me, it was mismatch day. To be honest, it was shocking to wake up and realize that I was heading to Portland to a place in which I was really unsure about the fit. “Fit” is something that had been used over and over and over again throughout graduate school and by nearly every site taking applications. “It’s all about the fit.” “We are looking for fit.” By the end, it was one of those words that lost all meaning but somehow still made you nauseous. But if that was indeed the goal or aim, I felt something had gone wrong. My internal process and what I thought was at the heart of the conversation that I was having with God seemed to be way off the mark.

Still, this is not an uncommon experience. Many incredibly determined, brilliant, and high-achieving grad students in clinical psychology wake up surprised and end up at places that may or may be a good match for them personally. Many who are more qualified and experienced than me are also confused or even bewildered on match day. And certainly a number are disappointed, hurt, and distressed by the outcome.

So, what’s my deal? Why did this seemingly common experience feel so devastating and why does the sadness and mourning linger? These questions are the ones that I have been working through. And these are the real focus of this entry.

To be sure, there is much to be said about the totality of the outcome. There is not one single factor, but many that we all face with a move or a new place of employment. And the various factors all contribute to my experience. Yet, I knew there was one that stood out and I yearned to understand the nuance of what was happening cognitively and emotionally for me. There are multiple layers, but the pain created dense fog. Everything felt surreal and yet I was not able to truly understand why.

I have not walked through this fog alone. I am incredibly thankful to have experienced an outpouring of love and care in ways that hit hard, in a good way. Things made their way to the deep internal soil as seeds that will surely lead to growth. Yet, as I was treading through my own muck and trying to sort things out, I was surprised at times at my inability to express my deeper aches and to feel as if others really understood those. And I was humbled as I realized that I too often miss the experience of others who are desperately need me to empathize with them and with their experience. So many of my dear friends and family had nothing but good intentions to try and help ease the pain or just remind me to be grateful and look for the positives. But there was a gap, a misunderstanding maybe, between what I was going through and their responses to me.

So often others had wonderful things to say about the city I was moving to, the area that my family would get to explore. Donuts. Beer. Hiking. There were countless times that I heard just how beautiful Portland was, about how so and so lived up there and just loved the place, and about how they would love to live up there….

But here’s what I knew from the beginning: It’s not about Portland.

At first I was too depressed to know how to respond to comments about the Northwest, and then too numb for a time. Anger bubbled up and my dear friends were incredibly gracious with me. There were countless times, though, that I held my tongue. My unkind and immature response would have been “well, if you love Portland so much, why don’t you move/live there??”

Thankfully, I did not reply with that.

Because that snarky response actually misses what it is about. Just like some of the accolades about Portland, my anger and the associated thoughts would have robbed me of the chance to communicate what was truly real and meaningful.

The hokey pokey is not what it’s all about.

And so here’s my chance. Here’s what it is: that at the very core of my sadness, the deepest pain and wounds I think we all experience, are about the loss of others. The loss of relationships or the quantity and/or quality of them. We mourn losing others because that affects not only our well-being, but also our identity. And when we lose the other, we lose a part of ourselves as well. But the relationships, the unique experiences we have with those around us, those are irreplaceable.

Now, to be sure, living in a nice city or having a good home and resources makes a big difference. I have known those in severe oppression and poverty and I will be the first to admit that I come from a privileged position. There are a number of places that are WAY WORSE than Portland, Oregon. But Portland means nothing to me without the relationships. The blackberries and incredible hikes are rather meaningless without loved ones to share them with. Regardless of where I am, it is only a fleeting happiness if life there is experienced in isolation.

And certainly, there are more friends to be made and meaningful relationships to foster. But here’s the thing. Those do not and cannot replace the ones that I already have. It would be foolish to assume that there is not a unique bond and quality in each of the relationships we already have. And thus, internally my sadness is the aching to be with those I love. I am not grieving the fact that new relationships will grow; I am grieving the fact that my current relationships are real and alive and thus the loss is also just that: real and alive. I cannot replace those. And why would we want to? I will never be the same me with others either. I believe we create a unique bond and shared experience in each of our relationships, and that simply cannot be replicated. I miss those relationships and I miss that me.

It’s not about Portland. It never was and it never will be.

It is about….ending a huge chapter in my life and that of my family as well. And about shifting from deep face-to-face conversations with people who get me. And about physically wrapping my arms around dear friends. It is about knowing that life goes by quickly and that the children of our friends will continue to grow like weeds and I won’t be there to see them do it. That dinners out will not be with those that I long to sit across the table from. Sweet familiar faces I will only see from screens for the time being. It is about my daughter saying goodbye to her wonderful friends and having to give up her earned opportunity to mentor younger students at her school. It is about my son playing sports for the last time with friends he has grown up with. Saying goodbye to coaches who have supported and challenged him. My husband saying farewell to incredible colleagues that have helped him grow and thrive in his profession. It is about change and love and heartache and it all hinges on relationships.

This discovery is not anything necessarily profound and certainly not anything new for those who know me. If you ask me about the problems and cures of this world, we are soon going to be discussing relationships. However, there were several thick layers that seemed to stand as obstacles for me to get to this truth with this particular experience. I thought that perhaps the deepest wound came from not matching at what I thought was my dream internship site. I thought perhaps it was about how tough it was to swallow a big piece of humblepie and realize that I was overconfident in my qualifications and interview skills. All of that stung, but below that, at the deepest level, it was about not wanting to lose those I loved and feeling that perhaps this move and mismatch would result in that. And that somehow my outcome would affect what others thought of me. That moving would mean another loss in my life and that this one would be big. So many dear friendships have been centered around a common place and process; what would this do to all of that?

The greatest fear for me, and I think for all of us deep down, is that we do not or will not belong. That we cannot or will not be known, loved, and cherished. That we will not have the opportunity to do that for others. And when we do find those profound opportunities and experiences, we then fear losing them. We fear not being able to find it again.

It is not about Portland.

It was and is about my insecurities and fears. It is about real relationships that matter to me. It is about realizing that I often lost sight over the past six years of what really matters and I lament that. It is about being reshaped and reformed, which is incredibly painful. The pain will lead to growth, but it is a deep pain. It is about real losses, of time and energy, of not being able to hug best friends or sit across and eat the fruits of Portland with those I already know. It is about wanting to nurture my current relationships while also having open arms for new ones.

This pain is one that will not be healed by the beauty of any city, but instead by the resiliency of relationships. And it is precisely the relationships, their strength and perseverance, that help me to grieve but also to celebrate that which lies before me.

Oregon Sunset 2

The garden.

A garden.

That was the most (and perhaps only) exciting thing about our new house for me after we were told that we had two months to find a different place to live. Our previous house was a rental and owned by a company and it was a “business decision” to sell instead of lease the home after we had lived there for two years. We loved that home and the memories we made there with cherished friends and family.

However, as we finally got unpacked in the new place and I could exhale from school a bit, we became incredibly grateful for the huge backyard with fruit trees and plenty of room for the large garden I had dreamed of. The kids were thrilled too, as they loved to collect seeds and were fascinated by the ways in which things grow with a little water.

Or so we thought.

We dug the ground, pulled out the weeds, and fertilized the soil. After two books on gardening and composting along with the experience and knowledge my husband and I had gained in Uganda, we were confident in our creation and our abilities. With sweat and blisters, we made the rows, the raised beds, and followed the guidelines for each vegetable. It looked great in the beginning: fertile and ready to bloom into something that would show the beauty and mystery of life.

This search for a new beginning, for growth, to be alive, was also happening on a deeper level for me, though I’ve only recently gained this level of awareness. In psychology, this is similar to what we call a parallel process: the struggles we are having internally, in another area, or on the level of our psyche or subconscious, come out in a separate context or in a seemingly unrelated situation. Thus, the garden became a fully embodied parallel process for me and though the metaphorical language does not do justice for my emotional experience, it nevertheless seems congruent in meaningful and very real ways.

The thing is, I needed to plant seeds–to start fresh with something that would produce good fruit. The ground was dry and hard, with soil not suitable to drain well and nourish any roots. No signs of full life were visible. Something felt dead inside of me as well I guess. Maybe it still does. Perhaps there is always a part of us that is seeking to be brought to life for the first time, or resurrected, or awakened. The move was just a symbol of a greater shift within me, one that is still taking place.

The transformation from dry, untouched dust to moist, massaged, formed, and nourished soil was sure to bring life. I watered it daily, ever so careful as not to wash the seeds away. It was a delicate process the first several weeks, and one in which I found great joy through the expectation of new life. As the sun slowly crept up, so did I. The garden was peaceful, so calm and quiet with just the birds in the trees to keep me company. There is a stillness outside in the morning, a silence that somehow sings gently to me and calms fear.

And then…life sprouted!

Out of what? A tiny, hard, seemingly dead seed and the ground birthed baby green plants. From the death of the old plant, from a fruit that had nothing but a seed to pass on, new life arose.

Baby plant sprouting

Death was present in my garden as well, a consistent guest actually. Because as life grew within the garden and within me, plants were dying…hopes and expectations fading away. Fertilizer made from old, rotten produce was commonly worked into the soil. Death happened for the countless gnats and mosquitos that would attack as I watered in the evening. I’d smash them as they sought life from my blood or whatever else they needed to live. And ANTS. It wasn’t long before we saw hundreds of ants, all in rows, moving the seeds. Thieves!! They worked so hard to carry away the tomato and carrot seeds, scurrying into their holes only to leave me frustrated and speechless. Those were my seeds! That life was mine.

And so I became an exterminator. All organic of course! (so as not to negatively affect human life right?) Baking soda, coffee grounds, dish soap, mixes of spices, vinegar…many methods utilized to somehow end the lives of those pesky, tiny things that were ruining my pursuit of life. The ants were relentless, as was I. A daily battle ensued. And it felt hopeless at times. The more I fought, the more creative and persistent I became, the more they did as well.

What is it about this fight for life? Why, I thought, isn’t there enough to go around?

We have a dozen fruit trees and a compost pile. Plenty of rotten fruit on the ground to feed thousands of ants.

Plenty of ways to seek life in our world, how is it that I could still feel death in my own being?

Birds also attacked, taking not the seed, but the entire baby plant after it grew. And the sun….apparently the “when to plant” tips are very important. You plant things in July in southern California, the sun is sure to scorch the life right out of them. In a matter of hours, cornstalks went from green to brown. The carrots that were replanted refused to even sprout. Too dry, too hot. Lessons learned.

And I wish I had a happy ending to share. At the end of November, the weather had finally gotten cool enough to stop my efforts with the garden. And the result of my countless hours? The fruits of our labor? A few watermelons, corn that was almost got big enough to eat, and some pumpkins.

Much more death that life.

It was enough to make anyone go completely crazy. To see the green plants sprout, to see incredible vines grow, and then to watch them wither or produce very little fruit. At times I would find myself watering a dead plant, hoping to revitalize it.
As I gave up on the pumpkins turning orange in time for any holiday in which one might reasonably want orange pumpkins, I found myself reflecting on what I had done wrong. And I’m sure there are some very important ways in which I can improve as a gardener for next year.

Yet, at the end of that season and now as a new spring approaches, I cannot help but accept that death and life must exist together. There is simply no way to avoid it. Whether it is at the mercy of the sun or my hands picking the fruit, some life will cease. And some will begin or continue. This of course, is the great circle of life that we’ve learned about since grade school.

But here’s my confession: I’m not okay with it. I had always prided myself on the idea that I like change. That I do well with change and that I am okay with some endings and exciting new beginnings. That death is just a gateway, with no real power to cause a true ending.

But I hate death and I hate endings. Whether it’s the death of a loved one’s life, or a deeply meaningful relationship, or that damn plant that will not keep fighting: there are some things that I deeply want to be sustainable and permanent. I fight for that to be the truth. And many optimistic people would answer that there are indeed these things. Faith, love, and hope: these are eternal. And there’s a part of me that completely agrees. Life still wins. It still shines brighter and I know at my greatest depths that life will be all that remains in the end. Death will have its say, and then life will have the last word.

However, as I approach a very difficult decision and the realization that within the next year there will be great losses, I grieve deeply. Metaphorically speaking, there will be the death of something meaningful and incredible valuable to me. There will be change and there will be death. Yes, they will have a say.

But I suppose that we also have a say. For perhaps the greatest source of life that I have discovered is that I yearn. I ache. And I long to respond to death, which is a great sign of a living power that is sustainable. It is everlasting through the way we live and the relationships we build. In the earth we pass on and the stories we share.

I may not get a chance to plant that same garden at the same house, but I will plant a garden. I will sow seeds and they will bring life. They already have. And that power, that force and energy that gives us the chance to live and move and have a being, even if only for brief moments, will never fade.

homegrown watermelon

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Alright my fellow autumn-loving friends, here it is. I have been asked on countless occasions to provide this recipe. But I must say that I have also been asked numerous times, as people take a few bites, what these things really are.

“What are these…like a scone?”

“Is this a biscuit?”

“You said this is a cookie?”

I am not sure if the bewilderment is due to the shape or the texture of the dessert. Maybe both. But here’s the good news: These scrumptious things can be whatever you’d like to call them. They are not flat or even necessarily round like many cookies. Perhaps this contributes to the confusion. Nor are they hard in any way so if you do not like softness, these are not your match.

Maybe that’s why I like these so much. They are partially undefined. A little mystery or rebellion mixed in with the flour.

Or maybe it’s the pumpkin.

And the chocolate.

In any event, I hope you enjoy these as much as we do. They are hearty and they warm the house with the delicious smell of autumn.



1 cup of canned pumpkin

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 tsp baking soda dissolved in 1 tsp of milk

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1 tsp vanilla

Cookie dough


In a large bowl, add the pumpkin, sugar, oil, and egg and stir. Dissolve the baking soda (not the powder!) in the milk in a small bowl and then stir that into the pumpkin mixture. In a separate bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together. Combine the dry ingredients with the pumpkin mixture and stir well. Add the vanilla and stir and then fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon onto a cookie sheet. And here’s the fun part. I make them big. A big glob. And I don’t worry about the shape though you can make them round by shaping the dough a bit. Just make sure each one is about the same size so they cook evenly. Bake at 375 for about 10-12 minutes. The time is variable depending on how big you make them. With the size I have shown, it’s usually 12-4 min. You’ll know they are done when you cannot see any wet spots and they feel firm to the touch. Let cool for a few minutes and then enjoy with milk! The recipe makes about 8-10 large cookies and the recipe can be doubled.

pumpkin cookies



Facing goodbye.

Weary eyes.
It’s the eyes that tell it all.
The gaze of a quiet yet powerful melancholy.
A longing unseen.

Numb ears.
Sounds dance slowly,
Float in a familiar but vague cadence.
A melody unheard.

Still lips.
Words fade before spoken.
The heart’s utterances paralyze the tongue.
A sonnet unspoken.

Worn cheeks.
Fatigued by the rise and fall of the mouth,
Privy to the sting of salty tears.
A touch unknown.

Limp brows.
Unsure of their place.
Confused by the ambiguity of many moments.
A sentiment unexpressed.

There is no other like the face of goodbye.

This post was incredibly difficult to complete, most likely for a variety of reasons. One primary challenge, however, was trying to determine how to verbally communicate something that is beyond verbal.  I lack words to adequately describe the intricacies of the emotions that seem to be ever present for me, and from what I hear, from a number of my dear friends as well.

Nevertheless, the intensity and urgency to give voice to this haze within has also been a constant companion over the past months.  So, in order to avoid the loss of leaving parts of me quieted, I write.

And I dedicate this attempt to those who have been my fellow sojourners over the past five years and for more to come. In this moment, this is to my cohort family, but will hopefully also resonate with anyone who has experienced the heavy fog when we are facing goodbye.

We began eagerly, with thoughts and expectations of an exciting path to a degree and a career.
Yet, we of course were in search for much more, at least I was.
I’m quite convinced that not one of us set foot on Fuller’s campus, into a clinical psychology program nonetheless, for simply a degree.
There was a deeper calling, a greater cause, a more complicated yearning.
However, I can honestly say I was not sure what that was or is.
Some part of the mystery of that search and longing is still alive in me today.

Nevertheless, we dedicated ourselves to an excruciatingly personal pursuit.
We’ll call it the pursuit of education, though that word does not do justice to the experience.
Countless hours of reading, writing, memorizing, and thinking.
Think, think, think. (It’s now become one of those weird-sounding words).
Process, brainstorm, come up with, reflect, analyze.
Yes, there is certainly a storm our brain has weathered for years.
Paper upon paper, book upon book, quarter upon quarter.
Our cognitive energy never at rest, not really, not fully.

Not to mention the ways in which every bit of ourselves was awakened and examined, even if only by our own inner judge.
From day one, we were asked to excavate anything and everything that existed within.
Our past failures, our future fears, our pains, joys, and anxieties,
It was time for examination.
Unbury it all and either put it on the table, or carry it in your arms.

And we soon also began holding the lives of others.
Looking into the face of pain, of rejection, fear, and regret.
We were asked to lean in….
Lean all the way in to the depths of humanity.
And we were evaluated on how well we could do that.
Our own criticism usually much greater than others.
But nevertheless confirmed at times.

I faced my own depths as well.
Times in which everything I rejected about myself took its place front and center.
Instances of utter disappointment, in myself and others.
Lonely seasons, weeks of withdrawal.
Days of frustration and irritability, moments of despair.
And times when it was challenging to take another step,
Impossible to see past the mountain that blocked my view from within the valley.

And yet, I also faced joy.
And silliness.
Eye rolls and complete disbelief at a number of situations.
Songs and jokes and hugs.

Tears and laughter, that is the way of it.

And relationships grew.
For me, the friends during this critical stage of my life became like family.
Brothers and sisters that shared life and could relate to me in ways that others sometimes cannot.
All with hearts after something transcendent, something sacred.
So, as we approach an end of something, I can hardly imagine where the time has gone.
And I can hardly imagine where it has not.
Life flies by when you do not have time to pause.
The cherished memories feel like a lifetime ago, yet also just yesterday.
Somehow both are true.

As I contemplate the transition that is surely coming, my heart grows heavy.
My natural instinct is to turn from it.
To leave first, to walk away.
It is difficult for me to face the goodbyes.

The emotions perplex my logic.
Not surprising as emotions and logic speak different languages when they need to.
And I know it is not truly a final goodbye.
Yet, there is an indescribable sadness, as my friend Sarah has expressed.

It was a meaningful chapter, and for me, a life-altering one. It was one of those that I need to read again and again, for there will always be something I can learn from it.
And yet I don’t want it to be just another chapter to leave behind.
I want the whole story, to keep it with me!
I don’t want to part with the characters.

So I mourn.
There is a grief that shadows the face….it creates a layer of distance.
Even as I’m surrounded by those I love, I’m not sure I can see myself in their eyes.
Nor are they likely reflected the same way in mine.
It is a grey loneliness. The colors have somehow faded in the haze.
Perhaps this is necessary.
A way to prepare one’s heart for the adjustment it will soon be required to make.

But the face.
The eyes can look down, the mouth deny the pain.
However, the face still reveals the reality.
I see it in the mirror and on the faces of my dear friends.
The truth that we are exhausted, depleted, fatigued, worn.
Excited for the future, mature in our ways, certainly.
But sadness stands next to that.
One cheek bright and happy, the other droopy and melancholic.

There is indeed a farewell approaching.
Maybe the end of a powerful volume.
The goodbye whispers for us to look at it.
To call it by name and give it credence.
‘Look up, turn around, glance over.’

And there are times when I find the courage to do so.
I begin to feel the touch of those next to me.
A unity is present and alive.
With worn and tired bodies, we join hands as we raise our heads.
For we are not alone,
As we stand together and face goodbye.

Hot Air Balloon