Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Little Things

My husband has been out of town all week. My two oldest kids have been at scout camp five hours away. And we've had painters in our house since Monday, leaving chaos in their wake for me to return to order: furniture, bookshelves, more bookshelves, rugs. I'd kind of been dreading this week, worried about how I was going to entertain my youngest two while trying to still getting 'things' done. You know . . . things: cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands, editing, revisions. They're all very important things. Until they're not.

The books are on the shelves again. But the cooking has never really happened--neither has the cleaning or the laundry or the errands. Editing? Minimal. Revisions? Not so minimal, but at least manageable as I've realized I don't have a deadline so I don't have to push myself to the teetering edge of despair.

Instead, I've gotten other 'things' done--little things: a couple of library visits, two lunches out, a concert in the park, a night of popcorn and a movie, sleepovers in my room.

It's turned out to be one of the more perfect weeks I've had in a long time.

When your kids start to get bigger than you, they don't just take up more room; they take up more space. They're louder, more insistent, more opinionated. Their emotions aren't limited to the temper tantrum over the wrong kind of juice in the morning or the frustration of trying to figure out how to reach a cup without my help or the anger of being told they can't have ice cream for dinner. They're not only bigger; everything they feel and say and do is bigger.

So I'd forgotten lately how gloriously small life can be with a five- and an eight-year old. I'd forgotten how happy another bedtime story makes them. I'd forgotten how exciting taking the time to pet a strange dog can be. I'd forgotten how beautiful a new wall color can be when seen through the eyes of someone who thinks just about everything is beautiful--especially if it's yellow. I'd forgotten, I'm ashamed to admit, how to be a mom to someone I still have to look down to.

I gave into repeated pleadings this morning and took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese's. I took a book with me, thinking it was the only way I'd get through an hour or so of the sound of electronic games and whack-a-mole and an animated mouse singing pop songs. But the second we got there, and I saw how thrilled my kids were to be in what was a giant magic room to them, regardless of what it was to me, I didn't want to miss a minute of it.

When my husband and I were deciding whether to have more children after four, I told him that one of the reasons I wanted to be done was that I didn't want to feel like I'd overlooked any of them as they grew up. I wanted to be able to spend time with each child and not have them hit eighteen and for me to realize, "Crap. I never really got to know that one."

I've missed a lot of moments of my kids growing up. It happens whether you have one or twelve. There's always laundry and cleaning and cooking and work and a paint crew coming in to pretty things up a bit while you stumble around underfoot--all important stuff until it's not. But I've always felt like I've been there for the big things. I'm a stay-at-home mom, even if I work from home. So without having to take time off, I'm there for concerts and plays and doctors' appointments. I'm there when they're sick. I'm there when they walk in the door after school.

But I haven't necessarily been there for the little things, even if I think I have been. Perhaps it's part of being a stay-at-home mom--this surety that "if they need me, here I am." So I don't slow down when I should. I don't look down when I should.

I look forward to having my older sons home again. I've missed them. They're good company. They make me laugh. They seem to like me, too, which is always a plus with teens and tweens.

But I'll miss my time with the little guys, too. I feel like for a week here, I've been able to sneak away into a place where time just kind of held itself still now and then so I could pay more attention to it.

So I'll just have to make sure I keep paying more attention to the little things, because they're the ones I'm going to remember when the kids are all grown up and too big, and when the giant space they once took up is empty.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hopeless Romantic

Story time:

When I was in college, I spent a summer working at a little vegetarian cafe in Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii, called "Decko Gecko Cafe & Bakery." I loved that place. The food was wonderful, my boss was one of the kindest women I've ever met (she runs a granola company now that has THE best granola I've ever tasted in my life), and my coworkers and the customers were so fascinating I could write a book on each of them. Some of my most vivid and colorful memories are of that tiny little restaurant and the people who came in and out of it.

One customer was a man named Martin. He was a 6'4" piece of handsome, with sandy blond hair, light freckles on a tan face, and blue eyes. He was there on business but had stayed over for a week to learn to scuba diva through the shop just a few doors down from us. He came in for lunch a couple of days in a row and chatted me up; he was funny and friendly and from Australia. On the third day, he asked if I'd like to go out for pizza with him that night. I said, "Sure . . . if you don't mind me bringing my boyfriend along." He laughed and said, "I guess I should have asked that question first." I shrugged and smiled back. "Probably."

So we never went for that pizza, but he continued to come in for lunch, sometimes breakfast as well, and before his week was up, he'd asked for my address so he could write to me.

Within my first few days back at college, I got a letter from him, and he continued to write me over the next year and a half--sometimes regularly, sometimes sporadically. And when I was preparing to graduate, he offered to fly me to Australia as a graduation gift. I jumped at the opportunity until I took a minute to realize he might expect a little more in return than I was willing to give. When I gave him my "terms," he rescinded the offer by never writing back.

I wasn't crushed--not by him. I was crushed by my naivete. I felt like an idiot, like a schoolgirl. Of course he thought I'd sleep with him. I was 21 and he was 28. I was single by then and he was divorced. And plane tickets to Australia weren't cheap. Stupid girl. Stupid stupid stupid.

Six months passed, and he called me back home in Virginia where I was living then and working at a newspaper. This time, he wanted to visit me--and get married. He said we'd live in Hawaii so we'd be halfway between my family and his. He'd become a born-again Christian since we'd last spoken, but he said he'd be willing to convert to my religion if I wanted him to. He was making plans. He was excited. Me? I was blown away. I'd only met him that once in Hawaii. Now he was saying he loved me? Wanted to marry me? Wanted to move away from his family in order to let me be closer to mine after we got married? Crazy, right? But he wasn't crazy. I mean, I'd been in touch with him enough to know that. I watched the movie "When in Rome" this weekend, and that's what it was like: I'd picked up his coin in a fountain and now he was under some kind of spell, but not mine.

After a couple of weeks of him calling me and assuring me he was serious--and me telling him that getting to know each other in person might be a good idea first (come on: he was really, really good-looking and funny and kind; I wasn't ready to immediately dismiss his proposal!)--I met my now-husband and started dating him. So I had to call Martin and tell him his visit to Virginia might not be such a good idea. He was disappointed and asked me to call him when I was ready to see him. I never made that second phone call.

My husband and I got married within seven months of our first date, but I knew the night I met him that I wanted to marry him. We only saw each other on weekends because he lived four hours away. In fact, we never even lived in the same town until we got married. We got to know each other primarily through phone calls and letters.

Crazy, right? About as crazy as seeing someone at lunch for a week, writing to them for two years, and then proposing.

Maybe even crazier.

Four kids and 16 1/2 years later, I can say it's good to be a little crazy sometimes--good to take a risk, a leap of faith. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" and all that.

Though I'd still like to visit Australia some day. I have some fond memories of that place.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Screens and Screams

I've realized the last few weeks that everything my four children do is done in anticipation of how much media time they'll receive in exchange. "I played outside for an hour. Can I play the Wii now?" "I read five chapters this morning. Can I play 'Lord of the Rings' now?" "I cleaned my room. Can I have the GameBoy now?"

The use of "can" where they're supposed to use "may" would drive my older sister nuts. But I put aside my grammar notions and instead find myself shaking and sweating over the frustration of how focused they are on screens. Several months ago, my youngest asked if the window was media. "It has a screen," he said. He was joking, but I've thought about that question a lot since then, because, really, what is a screen? It's something that separates us from something else, right? I was watching 1776 a last week, and the men in Congress are all fighting about whether to open the window. Some say yes because it's hot and they could do with the breeze. The others say no because of all the flies. Screens are marvelous inventions to keep out things we don't want: flies, mosquitoes, moths, pollen, birds, goats. Whatever.

But sometimes they keep out the good things, too--like real life. Try to have a conversation with anyone (adult or adolescent or child) who is focused on Mario or Gondor or Madden, and they don't hear you, they don't see you. They are completely in that game which means they're out of reality.

This summer has been a constant of, "Mom, can I . . . ?" And it's been enough to drive me absolutely insane. When I was a kid, my mother worked, so I don't recall asking her for permission to do much of anything. And even when she was home, I don't recall asking. I didn't ask my father either. I just did whatever it was that I wanted to do.

I also ate whatever I wanted to eat. That's been the other half of my summer insanity. "Mom, can I have a cookie? Can I have a lollipop? Can I have a Pop-Tart? Can I have some chips?"

This morning, I cracked. I finally said, that's it, I'm done. Fed up. Finished. No more media, no more cookies or candy or junk.

And that's when I realized one of the huge differences between being a kid 30 years ago and being a kid now. Or maybe it's one of the huge differences between being a parent 30 years ago and being a parent now.

I didn't ask my mom if I could play the computer, because there was no computer to play. There wasn't a Wii. There wasn't a Leapster. There wasn't a GameBoy or a DSL or a Play Station. There was all the wonder of the world that was outside and there was what was inside: board games, art supplies, Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys and Legos. If I wanted to play with any of that, I could. No permission necessary. It was all good stuff!

As for all the junk food? My mom made cookies occasionally, and we had dessert every night--root beer floats, steamed chocolate pudding, coconut cake--so it's not like I was starved for sweets. But chips and candy and soda and every gummy product available from worms to snakes to bears? No! Absolutely not. The drawers and cupboards had food--real food. If I wanted something to eat, I didn't need to say, "Mother May I?" I grabbed an apple or a slice of cheese or a few crackers, and I was out the door again.

I'm not just letting my kids down by filling the house with screens and with all sorts of food they have to ask for permission to eat. I'm letting myself down because I'm setting myself to be a screen. They have to go through me to get to what they want, and what they want isn't good for them anyway. So what am I doing? Seriously. What?

Truly: I'm done. The junk food we have left in the house is all that the kids are going to see in here again. When they open the cupboards or the refrigerator in another week or so, they're welcome to have whatever they find, and they won't have to ask first. And Sunday through Thursday, all electronic games will be in hibernation mode. (I'm not a total party pooper.) And I'm looking forward to not hearing "Mom, can I . . . ?" every five minutes. I can feel the peace coming over me already.

"Someone oughta open up a window!" --"Sit Down, John" 1776

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lessons in Humility

My junior and senior year in high school, I was the piano accompanist for show choir and musicals. I enjoyed the ‘behind-the-scenes’ role. It was just my size. I could perform without being noticed. I liked it that way. My mother recalls, however, me having a little more, uh, shall we say, confidence? ‘Hubris’ might even be appropriate here. She remembers me once commenting that I was ‘the best’ at the school, so, of course, I was the one to sit on that bench and play along.

When I was in fifth grade, my class took an IQ test. The teacher, once the results were in, said she couldn’t tell us what our scores were; she could only tell us the highest score. When she gave us that number, I vividly recall thinking, “Hm. I did pretty well.” I just naturally assumed I was the one who had scored the highest. I didn’t question it for a moment. Was that number mine? I don’t know. I never did find out. But I was more than confident at the time: I was positive.

I’ve had ample opportunity since I was 10 or even 16 to be humbled. And I’ve taken advantage of those opportunities—though not always willingly.

I grew up in a home where we kids were kind of on auto-pilot much of the time. Both of my parents worked, and they didn’t have the time or energy to hover over us to make sure we were doing our homework right or to make sure we wore our helmets when we rode our bikes. They didn’t pay much attention to our friends. They didn’t check our rooms to make sure our beds were made or our clothes picked up. I’m not saying they didn’t care. I'm saying they didn’t coddle or correct.

So when I started to be corrected, I didn’t always take it very well. It’s not that I thought I was perfect; I just thought I didn’t need to be perfect, so why would someone try to make me that way. Good was good enough.

I started writing seriously about five years ago. And I began to learn a whole new brand of humility then. Posting your pride and joy on critique sites for anyone to see, read, and, yep, criticize is opening yourself up to some potentially serious punches to the gut.

When I first started getting back comments like, “This section moves too slowly” or “I’m not convinced here” or “You’re not making this character likable enough,” I would sigh, open my document again, and feel like someone had just told me my piano playing was sloppy or my IQ was actually middle-of-the-road and not the highest in the class at all.

But the more I’ve learned to trust the process and trust the few people who regularly read and comment on my writing, the more excited—yes, excited—I get about their critiques and even criticisms. When they say, “Bobbie, it’s just not working” then I know I have the chance to make it work, make it better. I can take what was good enough in my mind and make it good in someone else’s . . . maybe even make it great.

And that ability to take criticism has spread into other parts of my life as well. Separate from my writing, I’ve been making a conscious effort the last five years or so to not let myself be offended easily, to not take things personally. I’ve tried to learn to separate someone else’s issues from my own. And that’s what taking offense is, really: the lack of humility. I’m not saying everything someone else says is correct and you need to listen and become humble. I’m saying the opposite: they way they’re acting or what they say might have absolutely nothing to do with you, and if you believe it does, you’re also believing you carry way more weight in that person’s life than you truly do. That’s egotism.

Being less prone to taking offense means I can more easily accept the valid criticisms. I should have called the gutter guy before the rain storm leaked water into the basement? You’re absolutely right. I should have. I messed up. That dinner was less than delicious? I agree, kids. I promise not to ever serve curried broccoli soup again.

I’m not aiming for perfection. There’s no such thing, not in writing or in life. But I can make strides toward it and can accept with gratitude and humility others’ efforts in helping me get there. That’s what being part of a writing community—a community much like any other—has taught me.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Punch-worthy Heroines

A. I don't really want to punch anyone. I'm talking figuratively here, so let it go.
B. I know heroines is passe. Heroes is now gender neutral. But I'm speaking specifically about female heroes. So, again, let it go.

This will be a short one, so you don't even need to sit down.

I'm watching "Percy Jackson" with my 13yo. Last night, I watched it with my 11yo. No, it's not that I love the movie so much I want to watch it twice, it's that I love my sons enough that I'll happily sit here with each of them as they watch it. I've folded the laundry. I've cleaned the room. I'm trying to be productive and good company. It's somewhat do-able.

But I have to interrupt with my own little commercial of how I can't stand female characters that are there solely for the purpose of being saved.

Disclaimer (call it point 'C' if you'd like): I've never read these books. So I'm going only on the movie here.

Percy's mother is annoying the ever-living daylights out of me. First, she runs off to the camp with him and Grover. Why? So she can drive? Uh... unnecessary. Are the boys worried about getting pulled over by the police, or are they worried about the minotaur? Because, really, I'd leave Mom at home and get a head start on the mythological monster. And she can't go into the camp, which is how she ends up hanging out with Hades for a few days. "No, Percy. Go without me. Go." So she didn't go with the boys so she could drive, right? She went so she could get captured.

(And the fact that we meet her while she is IRONING HER ABUSIVE HUSBAND'S SHIRT just adds to my irritation.)

And then Percy rescues her from Hades. Good son. Well done. It's what you should have done. I won't argue with you there. But you end up at the elevator leading to Mt. Olympus, and ... shocker! ... she can't go with you. She dials in the pass code (which she could have given you WITHOUT having to go with you) and send you on your way. "No. Percy. Go without me. Go." (And only moments before, she was lying on the ground saying almost the exact same thing, wasn't she?)

I'll give her credit at the end for kicking the husband out. Well done. And 'phew.'

But Percy still has to finish things off with Medusa's head in the fridge.

My point: Writers? Screenwriters or novelists? Don't. Do. This. Please please please stop. It's 2010. Either leave the maiden in need of rescue at home with the load of ironing, or give her a sword and let her do some fighting herself. But don't drag her around simply so she can either (a) get into trouble or (b) stand out of breath and the door saying, "No. Go without me. Go." Give us someone we want to cheer--not someone we want to scream at.

That is all.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, July 9, 2010


So, I have a five-year-old that most people reading this have met. I was pregnant with him during Hurricane Ivan, and although we were way up in Pittsburgh at the time, we got smacked around pretty good by the storm. But my pregnancy cravings didn't care so much about the rain and wind. They cared about being satisfied. So my wonderful and understanding husband drove me and our three kids to my favorite Indian restaurant in Pittsburgh: Udipi.

While we ate, the power went out once or twice. Thank goodness for generators, because I really needed my channa batura and peas paratha and my mango lassi. Needed. With my cravings thus satisfied, we headed out to the car to return home . . . and had to take a different route because the one we'd come in on had been closed due to flooding. We made it back safe and sound--and full--and had enough leftovers for lunch the next day.

It's only a coincidence that we named our son Ivan. My husband has an ancestor by that name (spelled Ivin, however) and the name just seemed to suit Ivan from the very beginning.

It still does (although I take at least partial responsibility for his stubborn streak). Let me quote from that reputable source, Wikipedia:

"Historic sources present disparate accounts of Ivan's complex personality: he was described as intelligent and devout, yet given to rages. . . . His contemporaries called him 'Ivan Grozny' the name, which, although usually translated as 'Terrible,' is actually associated with might, power and strictness, rather than horror or cruelty."

Ivan is intelligent. I don't know yet about devout. And, yes, he's given to rages--though he hasn't broken anything yet. And he's a strong little kid--a strong personality. "Formidable" is the word I use for him. My sister-in-law said that he's the kind of child who will grow up to be a man who knows what he wants and will go after it with everything in him. I'm sure she's right. But I admit that sometimes I have a really hard time with all of the above: his smarts, his temper, his stubbornness, his determination. It's hard to parent a five-year-old who doesn't understand he's five.

We were at the pool this morning, and Ivan saw a group of three boys about his age. And being Ivan, he swam over to them and asked if he could play with them. The oldest child--probably about eight--said no. Emphatically. "Yell" is the word we're looking for here. Ivan was unfazed. "I wasn't talking to you," he said. "I was talking to him." The older kid said, "I know, but he's my brother. And we don't want you playing with us." I waited for the boys' mother to say something. She did: "Billy. Be nice." But it was more a whine than a command. So Billy, of course, was not nice. "But it's more fun to be mean," he said. She sighed and glanced at me as if now waiting for me to say something. I did. I took Ivan's hand, pulled him out of the pool, and said, "Come on. You don't need to play with them. You can play with your own family." The sighing, whining mom looked away as her sons continued to play alone.

I was tempted to say more. It was on the tip of my tongue to say more. I could have been snide or snotty. I could have been mean to the kids. The Mama Bear in me really wanted to.

But the thing is, Ivan was fine. So the kids didn't want to play with him. Big deal, as far as he was concerned. There were other kids at the pool. Plus, he had his three older siblings to hang out with. If I'd made a big deal about this one pool punk, Ivan would have thought there was a reason to make a big deal. So I didn't. I dropped him off with the rest of my kids, and then I sat down and read my book.

I don't think it's okay for kids to be brats to other kids. Had one of my kids acted like that child, I'd have yanked him out of the pool so fast, he would have been dry before his feet landed on the cement.

But it's not up to me to parent other people's children. It's not up to me to tell other parents what a cruddy job I think they're doing parenting their own children. But it is up to me to make sure my kids can handle the pool punks that will inevitably come their way.

It's up to me to make sure they're formidable, whether they were born that way or not.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Handy Thing

I'm sick of looking at my old post, so this one is for my benefit. Well, all of my posts are, really, since I read them more than anyone else. And that's not a plea for sympathy. It's me babbling.

A couple of nights ago, my 13yo came into my room and said, "Y'know? Talking comes in handy."

"Handy?" I said. "Yeah . . ." And I waited.

"When you're, you know, like, in 1st grade or whatever, you don't want to just talk with your friends. You want to play, because talking is boring. But then you get older and realize talking can be kind of fun."

Fun. Or handy, apparently. Okay.

My husband and I just got back from lunch out. It was our first "date" in a while. We've hit that stage where we don't necessarily feel the need to escape our children, so neither of us is desperate for time away. In fact, my idea of a good time is to go to my room at about 8:00 (or earlier) and not come out again until morning. I like to read or work or just enjoy the quiet. You know . . . the lack of that handy thing called talking.

But Ron was out of town for two weeks, and as wonderful a thing as Skype can be, talking or listening to someone--even if you can see them--while the reception comes and goes isn't a blast. It varies from being irritating to being frustrating to being stressful. So we needed to reconnect in person.

The original plan was to go to dinner this past Friday night. And then we got into a fight. We don't get into a lot of those, but this one was a doozy.(Why does the spell checker nab me on that? Come on, we all say 'doozy,' right?) Halfway to the restaurant (we were walking), I turned around and headed home. I was done talking. In fact, I was about as close to speechless as I've been since I was 13 and finding out what a handy thing speech in general is.

An hour later we were fine, and not because we talked about it. No, that wouldn't have been brilliant. It's been five days, and talking about it still wouldn't be brilliant. And at this point, there's no . . . well, no point to it. The issue we were arguing about is over and done, gone, finished. I'm perfectly fine with letting that sleeping dog lie (not my husband--the subject).

I've always been a big believer in talking things out. I like closure. I love it. I need it. I'm a little addicted to it. And I love talking. A lot. And I'm more than a little addicted to it. It's handy. I'll agree wholeheartedly with my 13yo on that one.

But sometimes--and I'm no marriage expert here--NOT talking things out with your spouse is the way to go. I'm not talking about sweeping problems under the mat (I'm wondering how many metaphors I can use in one post). I'm talking about realizing that for the sake of not making a mountain out of a mole hill (which I've never seen, by the way--a mole hill--so I don't know how close to a mountain one is in the first place) (I'm also going for a lot of parenthetical asides here), it's okay to just pretend the problem wasn't there in the first place, especially when you're pretty sure it's going to be a one-time kind of problem.

And you can always say, "Remember back when . . ." if the problem does come back. I'm sure that's something every marriage expert would support. Right?

So our lunch today was nice. The food wasn't great, but we don't eat out for the food. We eat out so we can just pay attention to each other for an hour. And so we can talk--if we feel the need.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I wrote this a few years ago for a newsletter. Excuse the intensity of it. I was feeling a little intense at the time, as my father had only passed away the year before.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July.

When I was four years old, my family moved from Tucson, Arizona, to Lynchburg, Virginia, on little more than a whim. My parents packed up our Volkswagen van, a rented moving truck, and our camper and off we went. Dad was leaving a teaching job where he was loved and respected and appreciated. He was leaving his favorite brother. He was leaving his best friend who had baptized him. He was leaving his beloved West. And why? Because he fell in love with Virginia and her history. Once in Virginia, my impulsive father, my patient mother, and we six kids camped out at a lake for eight weeks while Dad looked for—and found--a job and a house. It was only recently that a friend of our family pointed out that we were technically homeless at that point in our lives. But for us it was a marvelous adventure experienced all for the love of history.

I grew up in Virginia with evidence of my father's love for this country all around me. We weren't a flag-waving, 4th-of-July picnicking, red-white-and-blue parading family; we were simply a family that knew George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin better than we knew our aunts and uncles. We knew all of the words to every song in "1776." We visited Revolutionary War battlegrounds on virtually every family vacation. We used Dad's own personal library for every history paper we ever wrote. Our home was filled with Americana antiques and framed copies of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence and iron-cast figures of red and blue soldiers and their canons.

When July rolls around, thanks to my childhood, the men and women who struggled for this nation's freedom come to my mind. The miracle of so many brilliant minds and strong hearts and courageous spirits leave me with an immense sense of awe and gratitude. These were individuals who seized not just the meaning of freedom, but of free agency. Read a bit about our founding fathers and mothers and we find that they were "only" farmers and lawyers and printers and carpenters and wives and mothers. Yet they found power within that propelled them forward regardless of those "onlies."

Think about the percentage of time you allow fear to dictate your decision-making process: fear of failure, fear of disapproval, fear of rejection. And when we allow fear to control out lives, how free are we? How truly are we exercising our God-given free agency? My favorite scripture is 2 Timothy 1:7: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." What power are we giving into if we hand ourselves over to fear either through our actions or inactions?

Where would we be today if not just Adams, Jefferson, Washington, and Franklin had given into their "onlies," but if every nameless hero in the years surrounding the Revolution had given in? And are we giving into the "onlies" in our lives? "I'm only a mother, a wife, a student, a secretary, a professor . . ." And where would we be if we found the courage to reach beyond our perceived limitations? Where would we be if more of our decisions were based not on fear, but on true power and love and soundness of mind?

Had my father been afraid to move to Virginia 30-plus years ago without a job, a house, or connections, I'm sure my life would still be a happy one, but it's been so much richer thanks to my association with this nation's past. I'm truly full of thankfulness this time of year for this country. Our history isn't always a proud one and certainly not a perfect one. But I believe God has always been in the details, whether as the conductor of events or the strength within those who struggled and survived and brought us to where we are today.

May we all reach beyond our onlies and in so doing find who we are meant to be.