Hugging a stranger, beginning again

Hugging a stranger, beginning again

I love the new year. I love a fresh start. “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.” Anne Shirley. That’s the beauty of a new year, isn’t it? A time to focus not on accomplishments, but on who we want to be as people. To reevaluate ourselves. To be kind. To be slow to anger. To love.

Well, here we are, three days into the new year, and I’ve already yelled at a complete stranger, and slammed the door in their face. Is it too late to go back to last year? Is it too early in the year for a redo?

Let me back up a bit.

It was just a stressful morning all around. Noella woke up at 4am complaining that her ear hurt, which means no one went back to sleep, at least not really. Yesterday morning we were up at 3:45am because an inconsiderate neighbor chose that particular time to set off their fireworks (hold me back), scaring and waking up the household, which in turn had naps off any kind of preexisting schedule, and crankiness on full throttle. So that’s two back to back mornings in a row of before 4:30am wakings. I was on hold trying to book a client’s trip this morning, dancing around little ones pulling on my pant leg, and reminding Noella that we don’t pee on the carpet. The kitchen table was covered with yesterday’s oatmeal smeared on it, there were dishes everywhere, I was still on hold, Shilo’s screaming just to hear her own voice these days, and I’m just counting down the minutes until someone (me, them, anyone) naps. I try not to live my life in a perpetual countdown towards sleep, but honestly, some days that’s what I live for. (File under: you shall have no other gods before me. Along with a good show to binge, a night out, quiet, QUIET!, a hot hazelnut latte, a vacation to look forward to, etc.) I want to live while they’re awake, I don’t want to wish the days away with naptime, as necessary as it is on some days. Especially yesterday and today, with the UNGODLY wake up times. (Mini rant: WHY would anyone set off fireworks at 3:45 am on Thursday, 1/2? I shall now pass the time thinking of irritating ways to wake them up as a thank you and plot the ultimate payback as both girls scream in their state of overtired… BE KIND JENN. “LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR” Isn’t a suggestion. Darn it. AGH! Sleep. Why are you a god?)

Anyway. Day 2 of everyone being tired and off their nap game, and I’m not choosing to be the March Mother of Little Women. (I want to be her. I want to be Marmee. Soft spoken but fierce in raising her girls. Giving to the poor. Helping soldiers. Being intentional. There to listen. Kind.) I was the opposite of her, and I’ll just say it- having the worst attitude of the year. I mean, we are only on day 3, cut me some slack.

Meanwhile, everyone was finally and hopefully settling for a two-for-one special on naps, the rare treat when I have that QUIET I pretend not to worship. Then (and there will be no exaggeration) someone RINGS MY DOORBELL TWO TIMES IN A ROW, and not only that, THEY KNOCK TWICE like they’re a long lost cousin who just flew in from Afghanistan after three consecutive tours. They RANG TWICE AND KNOCKED TWICE as if there was a news crew out front and someone holding a huge check and balloons, or like my mom flew here to surprise me, and had to make enough noise to match her exuberant enthusiasm. I was half bothered by the noise at the door, ESPECIALLY while naptime was desperately needing to take place, but I pushed my irritation aside, and let my curiosity take over because this level of door racket must surely be for a good reason.

WRONG AGAIN. It was someone selling “multi-purpose cleaners so strong they even clean grass and blood stains”.
Me to Shawn in my most extreme voice: “answer the door and tell her to never come here again.” (I should clarify that this was the third salesman I’d had at my door in the past two weeks. Three too many if they’re going to disturb my slumbering babies.)
Shawn to me: *backs away from the situation*…

Me, opens door and yells at the woman to “NEVER COME BACK HERE AGAIN”. When she starts in on her pitch (remember the stressful morning and the being on hold and the two cranky babies and the fireworks and the SO TIRED RIGHT NOW? It’s no excuse. I yelled at her to “NEVER COME BACK”, and then I slammed the door. I could hear her wishing me a happy new year, and I yelled back through the door “Don’t wish me a happy new year through my door!” I’m sure at that moment Shawn was contemplating sedating me or something of that nature. I turned around and saw Noella standing there, Shilo sitting there, both stunned at my behavior, and clearly wide awake from the energetic door circus.

I marched back in and sat down at the kitchen table trying to convince myself that was an acceptable way to act, a mature response. I felt so much guilt I couldn’t even lift my fork to finish eating. YES I was mad, yes I was irritated. Yes I was exhausted. YES she woke up two sleeping, or at least trying to nap babies and the morning was a turbulent one in many ways. But my girls were watching. And if there’s one thing I want to teach them, it’s that we can always begin again. So I threw on my slippers and marched out the door. I scanned the street and found the lady two houses down. “Ma’am!” I yelled, waving my arms to catch her attention. She just stood there, unsure of how to respond like when a wild animal approaches you. She started to turn and walk away and I yelled to her over Kenneth’s driveway, “I’m sorry I yelled at youuuuuuuuu!” She softened and walked toward me and in the street she said, “Do you need a hug?” “Yeah”, I said, trying not to cry, assured every neighbor was watching out their window. “It’s just been a really long and rocky morning”, I went on. “But that was no way to treat you and I’m sorry.” “It’s just a reminder, she said, that we never really know what someone’s going through.” “That’s so true”, I said. We chatted for a minute, right there in the street. I still didn’t buy any “multi-purpose cleaner so strong they even clean grass and blood stains”, but I did come back in and tell Noella what happened. That I lost my cool, yelled at someone, but went and found her to say sorry and she gave me a hug. Hopefully, as we move forward into this fresh start [with lots of mistakes in it already], we can remember these few things:

– That even as Marmee references in Little Women, it took time for her to learn how to be calm, gentle, and level headed.
– Don’t be too proud to hug a stranger in the street, no makeup on, in your slippers, and bedhead flying wild.
– Be the first to say sorry, it can lead to beautiful things.
– Show your children what it looks like to admit when you’re wrong/crazy/rude/selfish.
– Don’t treat people as inconveniences. Love them instead.
– That it’s never too late to START AGAIN, to BEGIN AGAIN, to TRY AGAIN.
– That God’s grace may just very well be on the other side of that door.

A look at 2019

A look at 2019

2019, how could we NOT love you?! You were the year (along with God’s goodness and grace) that gave us our daughter Shilo Hope DeAtley. She’s been full of life and light from day one.

You were the year that sisters were born. Not just a second daughter for us, but a sister for both girls. They went from being blissfully unaware to one another’s existence, to “don’t touch me” (on Noella’s behalf), to crawling after one another and laughing together.

My mom, sister, and SIL came to visit! This was no small feat as my mom doesn’t travel to the nearest outlet mall by choice, let alone board a plane to middle-of-nowhere San Angelo. It was so fun to show off our house and our daughter and Noella in the stage she was in. Their three days here were short and sweet. We had a Sip n’ See party where friends came to meet Shilo, and meet my family while they were in town too.

May brought a trial we didn’t foresee, but they’re never foreseen are they? They’re times to decide if we will walk with God in the unknown or not. Shilo was hospitalized with RSV. It was scary. It was long. A whole week, every day wondering if she would improve. Every day wondering when we could go home. Every day praying. Just five months prior we were hospitalized with Noella. If you have little ones in your life now and you’re reading this in the middle of flu and RSV season, turn your worry into prayer. It’s easier said than done, but there’s only one way to strengthen our faith.

I try not to live with too many regrets, but my purple hair was purple hair regret. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it the idea of it. But man it fades fast. It just ended up being way too much time and work and money and Shawn telling me to hold still while he retouched it, him in rubber gloves, and me perched on the guest room bathroom toilet (lid down, obvs). It was fun while it lasted, but colored wigs are surely the way to go.

This is one of those ongoing lessons, and one that isn’t always easy to learn. I’m learning to encourage over criticize. It’s easy to criticize. We might feel it’s our job to point out people’s flaws or weaknesses or mistakes. It’s not our job, and in fact the opposite of criticize is to encourage, and that is our job. It falls under “love all” commandment we read about in the Bible. “Encourage over criticize”. I’m taking that with me into this new year.

Be generous with your smile. This is something I read one day, and it has really stuck with me. It makes me wonder why I’m not more generous with my smile, especially to those I love a million times over. Love someone today with your smile, with your kindness, with a listening ear. This is another one I want to carry with me into the new year.

Noella definitely hit a “wear sunglasses all day” phase, and we were HERE FOR IT, loving it. Especially the pjs + rainboots + sunglasses combo.

One of the lessons from this year was one I was kind of thrown into. There was no band practice or warm up. T’was the lesson of who to care for in this VERY moment. Wait. I have two kids now, two under two for the first six months, both at very demanding ages. I was thrown into the life lesson of balancing who to hold when, who needs care when, who can cry it out on the floor while I finish changing one, nurse the other, and who needs immediate attention. It’s pretty cool to see the beauty of a multitasking mom. (Did I manage to finish my hazelnut latte in the midst of it all? Youbetyourbottomdollar.)

We flew with the girls to Ohio for a week in July to see friends and family. It was a memorable time.

I’ve been thankful for the opportunity to be a Mops table leader this year, and for that community that I needed in my life. I loved being able to share about our time in West Africa as missionaries, our years dealing with infertility and grief, and the time I had Malaria. As a group we were able to raise money for 150 mosquito nets to be handed out to communities in need, both in Guinea and in Senegal! Our old stomping ground! It meant so much to me to see these moms pull together as a global sisterhood to help those that often can’t afford a net to sleep under. On a deeper level, it warmed my heart to see my current community of friends helping out my community of friends in Guinea and Senegal.

It was a year of laundry basket rides for two little ones. And stroller rides.

I started a new job as a travel advisor with Cruise Planners! I flew all by myself (only the second time ever!) to Florida for a week of training. It was one of those times where I had no idea what to expect from the whole week, but I met some great people, learned so much (x 1,000), and was just really thankful and overwhelmed (in a good way) for the whole experience. Shawn’s been the best cheerleader in all of it.

Shawn and I celebrated 15 years of marriage in Jamaica! Take me back to our balcony with a view, those clear Caribbean waters, and the excitement of going somewhere we’ve never been before.

2019 was the year both our girls saw and touched snow, met more of our Colorado family, and flew for their second and third time on the airplane. Travel with kids is probably the very definition of chaos, but we try not to let hard things hold us back.

Travel in December was fun and festive, but so was coming home to our own living room where a stocking hung for each of us. His and mine are wax print stockings, handmade in West Africa, fitting for the two of us, and the girls have brightly colored striped stockings, perfectly fitting for them and the joy they bring us. We’re thankful for our community of friends here, the coffee shop at church where we get to volunteer, our Community Life Group (even though there are some major theological differences – namely, they view soup as an appropriate dinner choice, and Shawn simply does not).

God was with us this year, and that’s what made it a good one.

2020, we’re ready when you are.

Our balcony

Our balcony

The balcony was a dream. The doorway was arched, and there were tiny red stain glass windows in each corner. We chose to have a mountain view over an ocean view, because coming from flat and dry west Texas, any view’s a view. We’d be seeing the ocean up close all day, so the mountain view was perfect (and cheaper, too). The view was so strikingly green it almost hurt to look at. Like when we met a group of Hebrew women at our resort. I kept staring at them because they were so beautiful. So different. The balcony was this ongoing reminder that we were on vacation, just the two of us! There were only two chairs. One for him. One for me. No booster seats or high chairs. Room service came with mimosas. And bacon. And anything else you could think to ask for. We stared off into that green mural and talked about the lush blanket of greenery, the smoke coming from the hills, and who must live out there and what they must be cooking. Jerk chicken, perhaps. Or curried goat. (It’s not “goat curry”, its “curried goat”, and it’s amazing.)
We had a balcony attached to our room at the guesthouse we managed in Dakar. The view was a dusty screen, laundry hanging to dry (ours and our neighbor’s), and if the Mosque wasn’t making noise, there were riots and tear gas blowing in, and if not that, there was traffic. And by traffic I mean people hanging off of buses tapping to tell them when to go, people yelling, taxis honking, you name it. Needless to say, it was a balcony we didn’t use for the peaceful view.
Everyone needs a trip for two, a second or third honeymoon of sorts. A break from talks of budgets, insurance, and sweeping the garage. A time for crisp white sheets and swim up bars. A second or third honeymoon of sorts is an entirely different trip from a honeymoon, though, because you’re traveling with a seasoned friend who is still hanging in there with you, and you them. There’s life between you now.
There’s no half-pretending-to-be-someone-I’m-not anymore. No need to put concealer on first thing in the morning. They’ve seen it all, and now you can just kick back and enjoy. Want to go have pizza by the pool at 2pm? Sure man.
Marriage is fun.

Make it more than just a date night, but a whole week for two. If you can. When you can. Imagine a week of waking up and wondering what you should get into that day. Beach or pool, take a taxi shopping, or swim with dolphins. Or! Just sit on the balcony and enjoy the view.

63 and looking back

63 and looking back

Both girls were in bed (Check!), and it was time to call the birthday girl. I put her on speaker and went back to the laundry which seemed to be multiplying before my very eyes. “So how old are you”, I asked, draping Shawn’s been-dried-twice-to-get-the-wrinkles-out dress pants over a hanger. Should kids ask that, I wondered, as I went ahead and asked it anyway.
“63!” she announced as if she had reached a level in a video game or something that required a lot of time and dedication. Reaching 63 certainly does take time and dedication. At least when the years matter and you’re someone who cares about your life, and the way it’s lived.
“63! Wow!” I say, and before there was any old age banter or jokes, she moved right along, talking about how she can’t believe she’s 63. Truly. She remembers when her mom couldn’t believe when she was such-and-such age, with kids in their 30s. And now it’s her.
Then she said without even being asked, how she’d love to go back in time, even if just for one day, to see what her days were like when she had babies at home. I was standing there, folding a little white onesie, and seeing both sides: yes, it goes by so fast. Noella’s only two, and it feels like two decades ago she was swaddled in my arms as a fresh new little thing. And I also can’t even see past 2pm on some days. My mom was saying how she’d love to go back for a day and see what she was like as a mom in those days, or better yet, to bring with her the wisdom she’s gained since then, and mom us kids again, from a new and seasoned perspective. It almost made me cry to think of ‘future me’ wanting to be with ‘present me’, the one rocking the baby and dishing out Cheerio’s. Future, ‘clean house, time for 45 min at the coffee shop, a stop at the grocery store for only three ingredients, peace in the restaurant, no wipes and bows and toothpaste smeared on the bathroom counter’ me, longing for what I have now. I think that’s what people really mean when they say to “enjoy every minute”. No Janet, I’m not going to enjoy every minute of this meltdown leaving the church nursery because she wants ice cream in her car seat on the way home.
It was just inspiring to hear a nostalgic mom of five, now in her 60s, remember so vividly how hard and long the days were. But to also want just one day back. Just one more day to see what her now-grown kids were like as newborns, as toddlers, as 8 yr olds. The memories are there, but what did they look like, how were the days spent, what did they feel like when asleep on your shoulder? She wanted just one day to go back and of course hold her babies again, but to also give herself the pep talk and the grace to take it all in not because it’s easy, but because it’s work that MATTERS. To take it in because it’s your life, and one day it will be over.
Happy birthday, mom. And even though it’s your birthday, I appreciate the gift you gave me tonight, to tell present day me to soak it all in, not because it’s easy, but because one day the memory of what is now won’t be as clear and as vivid. One day, Lord willing, 63 year old me will remember, and smile.
Cheers to you… the mom you were, the mom you are.
I hope you like your balloons.
XO,
J

“Sit down mama?”

“Sit down mama?”

At around 4pm things are usually pretty chaotic, and come 5pm, I’m ready to strap at least one tornado into her high chair. I make Noella’s ‘pb on tortilla’ (recipe copyrighted by yours truly), get her a bowl of applesauce (she’s still a big fan of that stuff), I set it on her tray, ready to run around and tidy up as much as I can while she’s contained in one place, and distracted as anyone is with food before them. I’m running around, tossing books back into the basket, putting the sour cream from lunch back into the fridge, and making Shilo’s bottle. In the blur of movement Noella asks, “Sit down, mama?” She loves it when I sit with her while she eats. The question always makes me a little sad. Even though this is prime time tidy time (I’m sorry but I think I just named your next #1 album), it’s also prime time you’re only this age for today. Yesterday you were younger, and tomorrow you will be older. And somehow, wiser. And your hands will be less baby and your feet will be bigger. Sob. So I pull up a chair, toss the sponge across the room and into the sink, and I stare right at her and smile as big as I can. She loves the attention. I ask, “So, how was your day?” She smiles, taking an insanely large bite of applesauce for such a small person with a little mouth. I ask, “What did you do today?” I pull my chair right in front of her high chair, her tray is the only thing blocking me from being any closer. She rolls her eyes and smiles at the sudden attention. She tells me about her day in choppy sentences. “Daddy. (We went to see him at work.) Puppy. (A customer had one with them in the store, just a head sticking out of her purse. It was a hit.) Cookie. (Our neighbor brought some by.)” I love talking to her like she’s 24. “So, why do you think that lady had a puppy in her purse? What do you think she named it?” And she rambles on about this and that, puppy this, puppy that.

One of the best memories I have of my grandparents (Ben and Joan) and one of the ways they made me feel loved was to have me over by myself (as the oldest of five, a night away was heaven on earth) and just hang out with me. They’d slide me a bowl of ice cream and just listen to whatever 10-year-old Jenn had to say. So I think of that, whenever Noella asks me to sit. I think of my grandparents, I think of how much it still means to me that they took the time to talk to me and listen to me, and I think of Noella being one day older tomorrow. We sit and chat while she shovels in the applesauce. And then, to make the night extra special, and since sister’s already in bed, and because Noella loves to be outside, we strap on her shoes (even though she’s already in her dino pjs), and we run around the driveway before she goes to bed. Maybe she’ll talk about that tomorrow while she eats her dinner and I sit and listen.

This is 15 years together

This is 15 years together

Well, I guess this is it. 15 years of marriage comes down to us posing in front of a camel poster. Shouldn’t it, though? If you’re not posing in front of a camel poster, ARE YOU EVEN IN LOVE?

It’s hard to sum up 15 years, 5,475 days together. That’s a lot of meals together. It’s a lot of, “Hey, can you grab the Siracha while you’re up?”.  It’s a lot of “I hope you feel better” Saltines and Sprite by the table next to your recliner. That’s a lot of choosing to show up at the door with a smile and a “welcome home, babe!” even though it’s been a long day and your energy is at 3%. 15 years is a lot of agreeing to try again tomorrow. It’s a lot of Redbox date nights, a lot of eye rolling, a lot of hugs, a lot of cheerleading, a lot of grateful that God picked you for me.

The valleys in our marriage: battling infertility, so many painful shots (you administering them), and complicated treatments, lonely days in the village, and so many moves and transitions, we were together.

The high points in our marriage: adventures, friends, parties, promotions, a new house, and oh! The birth of our two miracle daughters, we were together.

15 years is a lot of together. And it’s right where I want to be. (With the camel in the background, obviously.)

I love you today and always, Shawn DeAtley

A dance of grace and forgiveness

A dance of grace and forgiveness

People are always wanting to stop or slow time. They forget that that’s what slow dancing is for. I’ve danced with Noella since the day I knew she was there, tucked inside my belly. I’d put the headphones on my belly and sway. When she was a little pink bundle, we’d cuddle-sway-dance, if you will, on the couch after nursing, her head on my shoulder as we rocked side to side. She’d dance in the evenings with Shawn after a long fussy day, needing a place to rest her head.
Nowadays she’s in my bathroom with me every morning as I get ready, her entourage of toys and stuffed animals scattered on the floor. I’m usually trying to rush-blend my eye shadow and finish getting ready while baby sister’s napping and I have a window to look slightly more human again. I ask Noella if she wants music and she says, “Yeah!” and we listen to whatever the mood plays for us. Lately she’ll grab her blanket, and her baby doll, and her water bottle and say, “Nance?” trying to lift her arms for me to pick her up, but since her arms are so full, it’s a cute awkward chicken wing flap kind of move. I am reminded that the days are going quickly, so I stop whatever stage of the face game I’m in and I pick her up. I hold her tight and we dance. Her two years flash before my eyes, a flip book of a million little memories, and I think of her future at the same time. In the sweet moment I’m also reminded of yesterday. It wasn’t a good moment. It’s not one I want flashing before my eyes as we dance. I got so frustrated with her about something I yelled at her and made her cry. How could I? She was in the way when I was trying to clean out the fridge (the last thing any human wants to do) and she kept closing the fridge doors when the produce drawer was open, and it was about to break as she slammed the door against it, the new dog was yapping, Shilo was waking up too early from her nap, I kept running into Noella, nearly stepping on her, she wasn’t listening, she wasn’t moving, and finally it was the selfish straw that broke the overwhelmed camel’s back. And I yelled at her. It wasn’t an upbeat little, “Mooove, please!” like a warning signal, it was an angry sister yelling at her little sister to get out of her room kind of yell. “MOOVE!” Of course this was far from the first time I’ve overreacted and instantly regretted it. How could I?! She’s little. She’s learning. She’s only two. She ran out of the room and it broke my heart. I called her to me, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to come at first. I got down on my knees and hugged her. I asked her to forgive me. And I cried, ashamed of how quickly my selfish nature can take over, ashamed that this wasn’t the first or last time I’ll react without thinking. I told her that I didn’t make a good choice, and that I was so sorry. She was over it faster than I could get back up off the floor. Oh, the grace of toddlers. Oh, the grace of God when we least deserve it. That is, after all, the definition of grace. Something offered that we do not deserve. She smiled and said shyly, “Mama. Sorry.” And I was. I told her that we can ask God to help us to be kind, to be patient, that he can help us forgive, and that he can help us make a better choice next time.
The next morning when we danced together, it was a dance of forgiveness, a dance of second chances, a dance to celebrate a new day, new mercies, a dance to begin again (because we can!), a dance to revel in the reality that we’re all human, but that God’s grace and power are there for us when we reach out for them, a dance to freeze time and enjoy that she can still fit in my arms, her little head on my shoulder, loving me anyway.

 

Ohio adventures

Ohio adventures

These past 10 days: we flew with a baby on each lap, and because of the oxygen mask setup we couldn’t sit together on any of our four flights. We shared a Coke and a sandwich and traded girls back and forth at our gate during the four-hour delay. We glared at any kid that made a peep at the breakfast buffet the next morning, leading others to believe it was “that kid” that screamed at the top of their lungs at 4am in their hotel room. We marveled at the greenery and the trees and the lush rainforest appearance that southern Ohio had on display as we drove the two hours to Shawn’s childhood home. We ate at Skyline Chili, introducing Noella to the Cincinnati classic. We reminisced about the time we lived down the road and up the hill as newlyweds during the most colorful and spectacular fall I can remember. We introduced the girls to their great grandparents, some family members they hadn’t met yet, and friends who prayed for many years that they would one day join our lives. We had pizza night with the DeAtley brothers, cousins played in the grass, and picked apples. Noella came home with two skinned knees, a true mark of a summer spent outdoors. She was extra bashful and clingy around the handfuls of new people she would meet each day. We stayed up late talking with friends while they made grilled pizza, we caught up with those we missed, and made plans to hopefully meet up next summer in Texas or Mexico. Either or. We listened to bluegrass in the park and agreed that these desert-dwellers are no longer interested in handling the humidity. We packed up the pack-n-plays, waved and hugged goodbye, and drove back to the airport with two cuties, sound asleep in their car seats from an adventure in Ohio. After our trip, Shawn still had three days off, allowing us to slowly crawl out of the trip haze, put the suitcases away, go to the grocery store, relax on the couch watching the morning news, and taking a few catnaps. These past 10 days were full, and fun, and completely exhausting at the same time. And now Shawn is tying his tie, confirming his return to work. But these 10 days were ours, and we were together, and we got to show our girls Ohio, and where daddy came from. And that was pretty cool.

A book in progress

A book in progress

Even if I only write three sentences a day, I’ll write.

When the stars align and the girls nap at the same time, I quickly pour the morning’s leftover coffee over ice, and try to work on my book. Did you know I’ve been working on a book? It’s been something I’ve been working on here and there (and then three months go by and I don’t touch it) and then here and there again for about the past three years. It’s a book in (slow, slow) progress. But hey, at least I’ve started! Right? I’m proud of myself for at least doing that much. I’ll give you a little sneak peek. Here are the first two sentences: I will never forget the first time I saw him. He was wearing work boots, a cowboy shirt complete with pearl buttons, and he was sitting in the corner of the room. Are you hooked now? Are you? Are you? The book’s about our lives. Or maybe I should say that it’s going to be. It’s a memoir of sorts. Man, it’s hard work. It’s hard because blogging is a sprint. You write it out, hit publish, and you’re done. A book is a marathon (say it slowly with me: m a r a t h o n). I’ve never been a marathon kind of girl (I’ve also never been one to use running analogies) because marathons take consistency and dedication. Perhaps those aren’t my strong suits. But this is something that I wanted to do. It’s also hard work because it’s mentally draining to go back in time and paint a word picture that helps you and me both relive details that happened many years ago. I’m currently writing about our military escort to the airport when we evacuated from Guinea. It’s been good and painful to go back into full detail to that time. It amazes me how many things I’ve completely forgotten about until I’ve stopped and let my mind wander back there. I’m at 33,012 words and am still at the very beginning of the story that makes us Shawn & Jenn. Maybe I’ll finish it one day, when I’m 90. Who knows. Until then, it’s a project that means something to me, so when the stars do align and the house is quiet, I’ll sit cuddled up in my fuzzy white blanket (because it’s 104 degrees outside and America has AC), and write. Even if I only write three sentences a day, I’ll write. I’ll let my mind wander back there, because it’s all part of the story. And it’s a story I don’t want to forget.

If you want an excerpt from my book, Venmo me $2 (hey, someone’s gotta pay for this iced coffee fuel!) j/k, just send me your email address.