Letter to a College Football Coach’s Wife

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Dear B,

You are a daughter, a sister, and a mother. To the greater world, however, you are largely known as a college football coach’s wife. When we first met, you chose not to volunteer the latter. You positioned yourself as a preschool mother ally and, in doing so, earned my deepest respect.

I know today must be difficult. When your husband’s team wins, the world laughs with you. When they lose, you fear for your life. Last night, the points did not fall in our favor. I didn’t see you at pick-up.

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Boy Bands Ruined Me

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During my youth, my family could easily predict my mood. Happiness? Jay-Z. Sadness? Linkin Park. Teenage lust? Boy bands.

Looking back, I think what did me in on the latter was the cheesy charm.

“I’ll never break your heart.”

“You’re all I ever wanted.”

“For the rest of my life, you don’t have to think twice.”

These lyrics may have echoed across the globe, but for an insecure girl in a little mountain town with limited dating options, they offered a sunnier forecast.

Only what I didn’t realize then is this: I was sowing the seeds of future discontent.

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The Last Menagerie

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Breastfeeding. Is there an experience as bittersweet? I have devoted almost three years of my life to nursing. No bottles. No pumps. And – to the great shock of many – I still have a career outside of the home. Some would call this an accomplishment…or insanity.

Lately, however, something has been coming between my daughter and I. Two things actually. Ivy the Otter and Elton the Elephant – they must be held while my little girl nurses.

It’s a transition that has emerged slowly, but now my youngest’s message is clear: Mom, I am learning to find security outside of you.

But this isn’t my first circus – I know what comes next.

And every day I am left to wonder: Will today produce the last menagerie?

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This Election’s Teachable Moment

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“Nothing you do is anonymous.”

Just moments before, the conversation in my first-year writing classroom had taken a surprising turn: Yik Yak. I felt compelled to offer caution to young adults not yet wise in the ways of a conniving world. Not everyone plays nice…or fair. And nothing “published” is ever truly deleted.

But, if I’m honest, my mind was consumed with a different kind of rhetoric. Like most Americans, I could not cease replaying the painful and awkward exchanges during the final presidential debate.

In my job I am expected to guide young people in their writing, their research, and their communication.

But all I could think of was the wreck borne of honesty derailed.

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The Ones I Couldn’t Save

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Several years before I became a mother, I was a high school English teacher…and probably inappropriately maternal.

One particular student comes to mind from my first year in the classroom. He demonstrated a gift for the written word. His passion for music was contagious (think drummer). And his family was in the midst of a financial crisis. He always seemed to end our conversations with the same urgent question: How am I going to survive? 

But I am a teacher, and – every so often – I struggle with a God complex. I want to save every last one of my students.

As an unmarried, 23-year-old I couldn’t offer him money or a safe home. He did, however, mention that his birthday was quickly approaching. And so I did what any loving woman without children would do.

I celebrated him as my own.

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A Centennial Confession

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In this, my 100th post, I feel compelled to come clean.

I have been running…and not in the good way. But, first, let me explain.

The trouble all started a year and a half ago when I extracted pure gold from my favorite used bookstore back home: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. The book was published in 1986, and I harbored strong initial doubts. Six dollars, however, wouldn’t break me, so I took a chance. And, truthfully, I have not been able to put the paperback down since.

Perhaps most striking of all in Goldberg’s inspired wisdom is the following passage:

You practice whether you want to or not. You don’t wait around for inspiration…[y]ou train your mind to cut through or ignore your resistance. You just do it. And in the middle…you love it. When you come to the end, you never want to stop.

Her message is quite simple: Keep writing.

A month after reading these words, I signed up for WordPress. Two months later, readers began to follow my writing.

And seven months later, my book found me.

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Give Me Your Tired

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I was running late, which isn’t new, but I had never been so tardy to yoga. Twelve minutes had been forfeited, and I almost heard my body cry out in defeat when I settled into the mat.

Over the next 45 minutes, I really questioned my entire existence. My arms and legs were feeble, my concentration was muddled, and the outfit I had selected most certainly flashed the nearby maintenance worker during an inspired downward dog. Oops.

The truth is, I was unprepared for the consequences of being late. I’ve been doing yoga for years, but every session is unique, as is every teacher.

After I attempted my fourth new-to-me position, I felt my forehead hit the mat.

I’m tired of being an adult.

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Letting in the Sunshine: 13 Questions

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My husband and I never do things the traditional way. Take, for example, our 2010 World Cup-inspired mission trip to South Africa. I mean, what better way to celebrate your first year of marriage than with vuvuzelas and chicken feet, right?

When I reflect on this adventure, I think back to the dozens of questions that the village children asked me each morning.

“I hear there is a bin for paper, plastic, and tin. Is this true?”

“How old are you?”

And perhaps my favorite of all: “Are you married to the scientist?”

The wonder in their eyes was almost tangible. And, in full transparency, their attention made me feel like a million dollars. I want to see the world this way.

But, alas, I was forced to return to my old life, my old habits, my old attitudes. And only in my matured adult years have I come to see that that perfect African sunset was never meant to be left behind – it was designed to become a part of me.

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