can’t you take a joke?

For a while now, Veronica has been insisting that Owl begins with the letter N. We have scratched our heads over this. She’s known her letters and their sounds for two years now. Maybe she thinks that because we say “an” owl…a nowl?…
tonight reading Dr. Suess’s ABCs, she said it again…”Owl starts with the letter N!”
i decided to tickle and tell her she was silly. She shrieked with delight, “OWL STARTS WITH THE LETTER N!”
preschool humor can be subtle…this was her idea of a joke…not bad…reminding mommy and daddy not to be so serious about this alphabet thing…


I’ve been struggling with the idea of authentic for some time. What does it mean? I encounter it in phrases like “Live an authentic life!”

I couldn’t understand what that meant. How do I know and how does anyone else know about authentic selves, authentic art and authentic lives?

So. I looked it up. Here is what said:

not false or copied; genuine; real: an authentic antique. having the origin supported by unquestionable evidence;

Now, that makes sense. One source, not copied or stolen. Real. Really you, not somebody else. The art could be considered authentic if achieves what I really intended.

That would be called true art. Not something made to a specification, that someone else decided should be created.  I’ve heard the phrase “writing what is true” even if it’s fiction.

So. Here is my judgement blocking the way again. What is true art? Do I get to be the judge of that, determining whether the artist has achieved an expression of their true self?

Now I have to start to wonder about what is true.  Because art is messy. Even if someone demands “Artist! Draw me a picture so I can sell soap!” and the artist draws to a spec…he may spill himself all over it and be authentic in spite of what the patron of his art demanded.

Happens all the time.

So the question remains, what is true? We know that some things are easy to prove as factual truth and others are not going to be so easy. The question of truth in art may never be settled. But we can know things like science.

Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius. That is true.

unless…you have a high altitude. Or you have salt in the water. Then, it’s not really true. Even science isn’t true, not all the time.

So we have to just allow that for all intents and purposes science is true. 100 degrees is boiling, okay? Stop being difficult. We have to move ahead already!

Now back to my authentic self. In a podcast this week, I heard a smart but uncolleged man talk about being an autodidact. “Do I have a chip on shoulder? Of course! Whenever someone brings up something that sounds smart or difficult to me, I have to react immediately with “Oh yeah, I know that. I read all those books. I am no dummy!”

Oh my lord. Guilty as charged. Since when is every conversation a challenge to my worthiness and intelligence? That is some kind of game in my head, reacting to some ephemeral person’s standard of what I should be, that I have unwittingly decided I have to meet.

I would rather be interested than interesting. I want to hear what others have to tell me. I already know what I have to say, let me learn something new.  And once I trust people I can be receptive. But I wish it came sooner, and I could get to the real authentic conversation sooner.

I realized this was happening in another area too. As I was honing my resume for the next leap in my career, I was stuggling to make it look as proffessional and more professional than possible.

Because I am still shocked to my bones that these places give me a badge. Yes, I’ve worked at those campuses and those impressive institution. But I’m a scruffy homeschooled Alaskan who took more than a decade to get an irrelevant degree from night classes at a state school.

shh. Dont’ tell on me. In fact, forget I told you. I have to go. I need to make my resume look as professional as I can so nobody will ever guess.

And my very professional resume was soaring like a lead brick.

See? they could tell.

Then I found a friend who had all the credentials I envied. And she said “Of course you can! Try again.”

And with this tweak and that rethinking, I realized I was missing the point. Professionalism was not the point. It wasn’t even the question. It was the paper the ink rested on.

The ink? the REAL message? that was how I am fantastic. I am all the things that an employer would wish for. And I was spending all this time trying to be EXACTLY 8.5 x 11. The perfect professionalism wasn’t getting me anywhere.

It’s like this. What is true? 100 degrees Celsius is true. We are in the lab getting ready to boil water to perform an experiment. And we know that the boiling point is a close approximation, but it’s good enough to start doing some discoveries.

You know what we don’t need to be doing? proving that the water is water.

And my reactive inauthentic creation in the form of a resume was wasting everyone’s time.

My new resume that told who I was and what I was about? Tons of interviews. Even for jobs I really wasn’t qualified for, but they interviewed me because they recognized my energy and intelligence.

My true self. My authentic self. At least enough of my truth to start making more discoveries.




I have two pairs of stacked heel sensible–but cute!–shoes that need repair. This statement has been true for more than five years.

The fact that i even have both shoes of each pair in the back of my car, and a shoe repair shop within a mile of my home does not help.

I swear, if there was a shoe repair shop that let my MAIL these shoes them and get them back a month later i could have gotten my shoes back.

timing is everything. That repair store is not open when I am home. Or more importantly after Veronica goes to sleep.

synchronicity. it’s a luxury


It’s called crowd surfing. Usually at a concert, someone falls onto a crowd of people with their arms above their heads. Their hands and their arms all carry the one person, everyone helping, and he moves over the crowd.  He would be too heavy for any one of them, but everyone together can carry him easily.

I’ve never done it but it looks amazing. I don’t think I would have the courage and the trust to throw my body over a bunch of people. I would fall.

I couldn’t have that kind of faith.

Except in other ways I have that kind of faith all the time.  I trust my husband with my heart. I trust my job with my hopes and ambitions. My husband has a very precious trust, and I picked him carefully. I tested and tried his worthiness. To my chagrin, I often still try him to make sure I can trust him.

Like kicking a support on a bridge you are already crossing.

Then there are other times, when I let myself be vulnerable, that strangers or near strangers will come and pick up the burden.  I was terrified of some dental work I had to do last year, and a lot of people talked to me and helped with the fear. When I trusted people with my humiliating silly problem, I threw some faith into the wishing well, and they helped carry me. Like the people underneath a crowd surfer.


When it’s good, it is beautiful. But trust can be broken, and the faith can be betrayed. It happens.

I would recover from falling at a concert. But the kind of trust I put in my husband, and my friends, it takes a long time to recover from a fall like that. And it can paralyze you.

Don’t do it! Don’t leap! The ouch is too big.

When it happens, yeah. It can be really big, that ouch.

But if it hasn’t happened, and you’re only afraid it might…well, you’re only afraid.

It is a risk. Those people below might not catch you.

And your lover might betray you.

When I abide, and try to keep my faith, I find that there are just enough people, just enough random acquaintances and strangers who show up.

Didn’t expect that guy to help me move. Never knew that one’s name, but she told me the perfect encouraging thing.

It keeps the balance tipped towards faith. If you can keep the faith.


Words of Wisdom

Veronica, from her bed after being put down to sleep:

Don’t eat sand.

Me: Was someone eating sand at school?

Veronica: Me!

She’s telling on herself. I like that kind of confidence.

Veronica: Eat food.

Me: That’s right. Sand is not food.


Daddy and I have been working on punishment. There is the time out, but more importantly there is the threat of time out.  Or, as I usually call it, punishment.

Daddy has discovered he possesses a super power: DAD VOICE.

He doesn’t know his own strength. Sometimes, he will yell in Dad Voice when startled “VERONICA! PUT THAT DOWN!”

She will dissolve into tears and Mommy is needed to restore order and beauty to the universe after the fearful appearance of Dad Voice.

So. Now he’s cocky. When I would threaten with time-out punishment, he threatens to yell.

“Veronica, I need you to listen. Do you want me to yell at you?”


“So you need to put that down and buckle your seat belt.”

She sometimes cooperates with this.

We’re enjoying a golden age of bedtime right now. She’s sleeping better, and putting herself to sleep better. There is still the cotillion of “I need water”, “leave the door open” and “Come hold my hand” but it is very truncated.

So. Daddy is checking on her. She is tucked, but in the darkness, there is a little rustly noise.

Veronica: “What is foot doing?”

Daddy: “Foot needs to be quiet and go to sleep.”

Veronica: “Oh no! Foot is getting away”

Daddy: “No No. Foot needs to listen. Do you think I need to yell at foot?”

Veronica: hee hee


Veronica: *destroyed with giggles*

He tells me this after the fact. It is cute. But he’s diluting the medicine.  Daddy Voice is not a toy.

With great power comes great responsibility.



It is cliche. but we are all cliche. It’s a new year and it spreads in front of us unfulfilled but so very possible. Possible for every dream to be fulfilled.

Had a conversation not too long ago. A friend was getting some surgery for a painful disease. Some preliminary work was done.  I checked in: “How do you feel?”

“It seems to be working. It’s giving me hope, which is even more important.”

So much that one sentence is carrying. I didn’t know it was that bad. Or maybe despair is more painful than pain.

Into every life a little pain must fall. We are designed to work under those conditions. And it is fine, because we all hope for something better.

Something to hope for. Growth and change and hope.

Growth and change will be happening with or without the hope. But the hope is what makes it good.

What makes  a new day so promising? the hope for all the good it will bring.

Yes, I think lack of hope is more painful than presence of pain. We are meant to have hope, we are meant to create hope out of the stuff of our lives. We take in what’s happening, chew it all up and digest it in our minds and it flows through us in the form of hope.

We hope for all the good things it’s possible to hope for. If the things we hope for arrived, we are still going to hope for the next thing.

Maybe it’s an America thing. We don’t congratulate one another on the past. We could be greeted by the various store clerks “Congratulations on the good shopping you just accomplished!”

That’s not what happens. We get wishes, hopes:

Have a nice day!

Thank you! I hope you have a nice day too.

Eyes up, on the horizon. Past the horizon. I have high hopes.
There remains these three: Faith, Hope and Love

Don’t forget to hope.