A View from the Bottom Bunk

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Don’t be afraid of what you don’t understand.

Easier said than done, of course, but this is my husband and I’s go-to advice for our three-year-old son when we know storms are imminent.

Two nights ago, however, we were no match for the incessant thunder and lightning.

At approximately 3:45 a.m. we awoke to my son’s tearful pleas: “Mommy! Daddy!” There was something different in my son’s voice this time – a blend of emerging maturity and raw fear. He sensed what was happening, yet couldn’t prevent himself from the human desire for certainty…and control.

I led my oldest child down the ladder as Mother Nature illuminated his small room with urgent pulses of white. The night’s antidote would be snuggles with Momma in the bottom bunk.

And, in that 10-minute embrace, shadows weren’t the only images that danced across his walls.

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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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Love: Where Fries Overcome Fear

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When life hands you a free milkshake, you say “yes”. But, the truth is, the last thing I wanted was more food.

For several moments, a scene had been eating away at my thoughts. A homeless man – not more than 30 years of age – waited on a curb of desperation outside of our local Walmart as we drove past. To help or not to help? The restless toddlers in the backseat only encouraged the excuses my mind so effortlessly generated.

No. Not tonight.

So we stayed the course to Chick-fil-A. The kids would share a “happy” meal, I would enjoy a leafy green salad, and the sunset would end a perfect evening.

Only I ordered fries I couldn’t eat. Then my son’s order was wrong, which resulted in four free chicken nuggets. And, perhaps most surreal of all, a cashier placed a free milkshake in my hand: “We forgot the whipped cream and cherry. Here!”

As my son’s ice cream cascaded down my wrist, I pondered the sticky dilemma. Light was fading, and so too was an opportunity.

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To Climb a Mountain

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If you’re not careful, you’ll come to fear everything when you’re a mother.

I was reminded of this most recently during an active shooter training at the university where I work. It was a brilliant idea, really: listen to 90 minutes of gunshots and panic protocol two days before flying across the country with an infant and a toddler.

But the problem with ideas is that they are powerful and nearly impossible to derail. My worries about protecting two children in California only increased as our departure grew near.

Who will try to steal my kids when I am not looking?

Will I survive Bay Area traffic?

And, perhaps most outrageously, will I die in a mass shooting?

Things grew grim. And I’m not going to lie – the leash backpack was pretty tempting.

Somehow, amazingly, I mustered the strength to silence my mentally constructed catastrophes long enough to allow our family to board the plane.

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What Scares Me about Trump

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Election year is upon us, and every day there is a new reason to loathe politics. In my own mind, I can’t quite wrap my head around a Trump candidacy or, worse, a Trump presidency.

Over and over, I wrestle with the thought of my children’s future being steered, at least for the next four years, by Donald Trump. In truth, I don’t personally know the man, and, sadly, just like the rest of us, I am largely informed by media agendas.

This week I saw that Trump has released a partial list of the foreign policy advisors that will guide him if he is elected. Who is on this list? I would argue that it doesn’t really matter. The individuals who are passionately following Trump and pledging their dogmatic allegiance do not need to know his list (or any tangible details) because, quite frankly, it will not impact their vote.

Should it?

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