FMF31 2018 Day 11: DOOR

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: DOOR

Our front door is an issue because it is detracting from the impression potential buyers have of our house when it is shown.

The door is weathered (thanks, Florida) and sticks a little bit (making the opening process a bit rough). Realtors have suggested options: replacing it completely or at least painting it.

Many of the realtors’ suggestions have made perfect sense, but money is tight for cosmetic changes (hence the need to sell in the first place) and we have stalled in making changes to the door.

Frankly, although I agree the changes would help make a better first impression, I know I don’t see this house through a buyers’ eyes.

I see so many Halloweens and greeting neighborhood trick or treaters. I see my son heading to the bus stop right on the corner. I see a family growing up and two children who now have their own doors at their own places.

I know it won’t restore how the door looks, but in my mind’s eye, the wear and tear shows that we hopefully invested in the most important things: loving our kids and trying to give them memorable childhoods.

Five Minute Friday Comfort

FMF31 2018 Day 10: HOW

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: HOW

There’s probably a more efficient way to do this, but when I hear something that may be a tiny seed for a future blog post, I send myself an email with the phrase in the subject line.

Therefore, I find myself mystified weeks later when I’m cleaning out emails and run across blank emails that just have subject lines that clearly meant something to me at the time!

Here’s one: “Forget about why, know your what.”

I heard this one at the Type A conference I attended in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. I don’t remember exactly which speaker said it (sorry, speaker!), but her point was that we are often told to follow our passions and dig deep for our “whys” when “why” won’t put food on the table. Having a passion is good but the what is where the rubber hits the road.

In addition, since I have been trying to read something edifying first thing in the morning rather than immediately turning to social media, I decided to read a Lightning Notes this morning and this was the first one to pop up.

It begins with: “When someone does something that knocks our socks off, the question so often asked is, ‘How did you do it?'” and proceeds to discuss the thought process behind that question, and the potential answers. it ends up at:

“How” is about the outer work the person did; it’s often what we can see, look up, research. Belief, though, is about the inner work the person did. The meaning making and perspective shifts, the mindset techniques and faith refills.

Maybe I am hurting myself by clinging so tightly to my “whys,” but I know it has led me to (finally, after all these years) be working in a job where writing and language are among my primary responsibilities, and that is a very good place to be right now.

Five Minute Friday Comfort

FMF31 2018 Day 9: INSPIRE

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: INSPIRE

I am inspired by people, especially young women, who don’t give up even though they face entrenched resistance.

I edit the Sigma Chi (Scientific Research Honor Society) SmartBrief (please take a look here and consider subscribing!). It is FULL of interesting stories; I learn something new every day.

Yesterday, one of the stories was about a parasite that takes advantage of another parasite (it’s a vine that sucks the life out of a gall on an oak tree, thereby depriving wasps of food). It was an interesting story in its own right, but I loved the fact that Linyi Zhang, the graduate student who made the discovery, did so after repeatedly being told by her advisor that she must be mistaken:

When she brought the first samples to her advisor, who had spent many years studying galls, he told her she must be mistaken. She persisted. Relenting, he examined the material under the microscope – only to be startled to discover she was likely right.


This is not the exact development that was discovered, but its the best free image I could find and this story just calls for an image to me!

I was in a situation this week that had much less importance to the scientific world, but it had importance to my integrity and my confidence. I didn’t win that particular battle (which was sort of hypothetical by the end — it was a language thing and was not going to affect the outcome of the publication). However, as this graduate student found out, believing in yourself and continuing to make your case matters.

Giving up can be as destructive as a parasite on another parasite.

I am inspired.

Five Minute Friday Comfort

FMF31 2018 Day 8: COMFORT

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: COMFORT

The absolute first thing that comes to mind when I think about “comfort” is how uncomfortable my mom was at so many stages of her series of hospitalizations that started last December and lasted (with the exception of one 24-hour period at home) though her death in February.

I met and observed so many hard-working medical professionals and paraprofessionals throughout that period. They deserve so much more support (probably pay too) and recognition than they receive. I saw them give their all while other families celebrated Christmas and New Year’s comfortable at home.

However, no matter how competent and attentive a nurse or CNA is, there’s a certain amount of comfort you can’t achieve when you are flat on your back and don’t have full control over how things are going to go — where you have to lie, who is going to poke you when, what you can eat, whether or not the ice chip cup is a half-inch too far away for you to reach.

My mom, being my mom, handled it all with grace and patience. She didn’t want to be a bother. Yet that is a piece of the whole experience of her illness(es) that is hard to shake. She never got back to being able to do what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it, and to sleep in her own bed at home with her beloved spouse.

There’s something unfair in all of that. However, judging by what her therapists and nurses, etc., have said to me, she brought them comfort.

And that, the fact that my mom helped someone else even though she was the “sick” one, surprises me not one bit.

Five Minute Friday Comfort

FMF31 2018 Day 7: HOPE

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: HOPE

A fellow Five Minute Friday community member, Tara, is phenomenally consistent about commenting on my contributions during the 31-day writing challenge, even when I don’t reciprocate well. I am so grateful for that.

When I did manage to reciprocate yesterday, and decided to tweet out her incredible post about broken sunglasses and grief, I noticed that she had tweeted a request that praying people send their support to @Bethanylcm.

When I clicked on Bethany’s link, I expected to find some indication of grief and despair, yet I found, in her profile, hope:

I love adoptable pets, social justice, and community building. I’m fighting stage iv metastatic cancer and believe love, hope, and science lead to miracles.

***end of five minutes, but I ate up some time adding links, etc., so I’m cheating slightly to finish my thought!***

I have also found hope in the writings of my Five Minute Friday friend, Andrew, who has pancreatic cancer. Here’s an excerpt from a recent post:

Pancreatic cancer is a hopeless fight; add to that non-Hodgkins lymphoma and you’ve got a double whammy of epic proportions.

But hope does not lie in victory.

Hope lies in taking the next step.

Hope is showing up, just one more time.

We rise from the ashes, and we grab glory.

It’s not how you play the game.

It’s that you play the game

In both cases, I am reminded that I shouldn’t leap to expect only despair when hope still has a foothold, no matter how tenuous. Hope lies in the small things sometimes (writing a sentence, choosing to keep the word “hope” in a Twitter profile). I asked myself if it made sense to include other people’s words today when five minutes goes by so quickly, but one element of belonging to one another is drawing from each other as well.

Thank you, Bethany and Andrew, for reminding us of the power of hope.

Five Minute Friday Hope

FMF31 2018 Day 6: BELONG

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: BELONG

Today’s prompt immediately made me think of this quote from Mother Teresa:

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

I have heard/read this quote often, and each time it strikes me as so fundamentally true.

I was at a celebration of life today for my friend Jere, who passed away 9/22. He was a personal friend through quite a few years of my life as a fellow parishioner at St. Francis and, even though I left St. Francis and he moved to Jacksonville, he remained a friend. His daughter is one of my best friends; his granddaughter is my goddaughter.

I was reminded of the dynamics at a senior living facility — a unique microcosm of society. People get accustomed to things working a certain way (for example, we held the celebration in the dining hall, and that created questions because it edged right up to lunchtime, and the tables were out of place because of the service. People didn’t like their environment being changed.)

Even though residents had to adjust their routines to accommodate the celebration, there was an overriding sense of gratitude for what Jere had brought them (and the staff) as a friend, a “Senior Serenader,” as president of the residents’ council, as one of those people who held high standards for how things should go but held in equally high importance the need to give people a safe place to talk candidly about events, feelings and viewpoints.

He belonged to them; they belonged to him. In the midst of grief about his sudden passing, there was a peace in knowing we shared a love for him and his gifts.

*** end of five minutes ***

Side note: I want to follow up on my afraid post from Day 2. Thank you to everyone who reminded me how important it is to invest in peace of mind. Even though the issue that has been niggling at me has abated somewhat, I have an appointment with the therapist I discussed and know it will be an investment well worth the time and money. Thank you for reminding me that I belong to this Five Minute Friday community, and that you care. pk

Five Minute Friday Belong

FMF31 2018 Day 5: SHARE

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: SHARE

Five Minute Friday

Here’s what’s on my mind about sharing: I am glad people feel they can share personal things with me. Is there any greater gift than someone’s trust?

I do have trouble doing the same — sharing my personal challenges and issues with someone else. Not so much here on the blog though! Maybe there’s a difference between writing and speaking that type of thing.

It seems to be a feature of our digital world, too, that it is mysteriously easier to share with people we have never met face to face (and may never meet in person). It’s a bit of a false sense of security, I suppose, and once you’ve committed your deepest fears and secrets to the cyberworld, it is ripe for being cut and pasted if you lose the trust of the person with whom you’ve shared. Maybe that’s an argument for making it a point to get together in person more often.

It is a powerful thing to share our fears. It seems that communicating them to another person somehow dilutes the hold they can have over our spirits. At least that seems to be the case with me. I have a private Facebook group that is extremely limited, with people I trust implicitly. So many fears/concerns have found their way to that safe place (and every time I check to make sure I didn’t post them to my public Facebook page, which would be a bit disastrous!). I am so thankful for this outlet.

That reminds me of a dear friend who said, “let’s have coffee soon.” Maybe I need to take care of making that spot on my calendar today.

Five Minute Friday Story

FMF31 2018 Day 4: WHY

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: WHY

Of COURSE the below is what came to mind when I learned today’s prompt is “WHY.”

The image (and sound) of Nancy Kerrigan repeating WHY WHY WHY? after being attacked is permanently seared in my head. As many people who know me are aware, I was in Detroit attending this very competition when the incident occurred.

Nancy Kerrigan deserved every single “why” she uttered.

Speaking only for myself, though, I treat issues that are much more minor in nature with the same angst, yelling WHY WHY WHY? into the universe, mostly in my head rather than out loud, but it’s still my inclination to question and rail instead of accept and problem solve.

Therefore, I am going to let this prompt be a reminder that things that feel like dramatic attacks … aren’t always. I don’t want to be pollyanna about this, but sometimes the events that seem to have no productive resolution and threaten to cause endless grief actually do lead to growth.

It’s my tendency to ask “why.” I wish I could funnel that a bit better professionally, because I do strongly believe in getting at root causes before jumping to solutions. It’s what underpins most of the way I work with people who ask me to hear them out as they need to vent or work through a problem.

Over decades, though, I have loosened my self-imposed (and intensely trained) prohibition against asking the occasional closed-ended question or (gasp!) giving a piece of advice.

Sometimes it takes more than asking “why?” … it takes moving forward and embracing a solution.

Five Minute Friday Story

FMF31 2018 Day 3: BELIEVE

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: BELIEVE

It’s hard to avoid all of the discussions nationally right now about the believability of people’s stories about experiencing sexual assault.

If my parents had not believed my story at 13, I am convinced the damage would have been worse emotionally. As it was, the situation left me doubting myself and scrambling to put together my ability to trust. I imagine my parents, too, scratched their heads thinking about all the times I had been dropped off at his house to work on various projects related to the organization for which he was an advisor and I was a member.

The situation I became involved in led me to *never* ask “why?” when I was in charge of the nursery at my church, had to be trained in sexual abuse prevention, and was told things like “all doors have to have windows so people can see in” and “adults should never be in a car with a young person without another adult present.” It sounds conservative, and we all would just like the simplicity of being able to trust other people, but our world was that complex 40 years ago and doesn’t seem to have changed much. (I would argue, though, that our ability to pull out a phone and record things is creating some change. We’ll see.)

Someone I loved believed me. It mattered then, and it matters now.

Five Minute Friday Story

FMF31 2018 Day 2: AFRAID

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: AFRAID

I was grappling with something emotionally this week. Although on its surface, it was a “small” thing, it had grown to epic proportions in my head.

It was without a doubt the kind of thing I could have made definitive progress on given an hour with a good therapist.

I even found a good therapist. She’s someone I know, who in a different capacity was our family’s social worker when my father-in-law was in hospice care. She is practicing on her own now. The beauty of using her? She knows me (relatively well — I mean she was “part of” our family in a raw, dark time). I know her skills well enough (I mean, she elicited emotional(ish) responses from my stoic, ill father-in-law and provided some degree of emotional support to my (also relatively stoic) husband. I could fast forward through much context because she knows.

And yet ….. I wavered.

Instead of spending $100 (a fair price – and she charges sliding scale, which doesn’t help me but I still think is cool), I paid for my indecision and emotional paralysis — for being afraid I had said the wrong thing in a situation that mattered deeply to me — not with $100 in cash but in the heavy emotional price of questioning myself and staying stuck. I knew (though) time would work it out. And as it turns out the situation did resolve.

But why do we keep cashing in our emotional reserves when an hour at the “mental health bank” could possibly make us whole again?

Five Minute Friday Story