Let’s get after it already, shall we?

I suppose I come with a few warning labels. It really depends on the context of our meeting to determine which one gets assigned. Even then, those labels can change. Don’t you wish that you could get an introduction to something before making a commitment to it? Or having the option to find out what some of the warning labels are before you dive in too far?

This is an introduction to the story that is my life, but with it come some warning labels. I talk about God here and faith. I also use profanity and sarcasm liberally. I believe that life is meant to be experienced, not just survived. Nobody makes it out alive anyways. We all have a story, and this is mine. Won’t you share yours with me?

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Sometimes the kids would come to me to get bandaged up after a rough gym class or capture the flag session in the park… or you know, social studies.

“Ms. R! I got a hole in my leg!” She pointed at a scratch on her calf.

“Okay.. Do we need to amputate?” I ask, and then continue. “Because… I’ll be honest, I’m really bad at it. I guess I could practice alittle–here, give me your hand.”

That student didn’t come back to see me on a nurses’ pass again after that. I think she decided to try to grit it out.


Overheard: Student to another student while going to Fun Friday hall party: “Stop singing! I like this song and your breath so hot it make the song stank!”


8th grade graduation speech given by valedictorian: “I read a quote from the Internet…”

My thoughts: There are no authors anymore. It’s just “the internet.”


For the first year and a half of my job working in the school, I was the ‘front office person.’ (Dear Reader, I’ve been there three years this month. It’s seemed like an eternity and yet a blink of an eye.) I saw the kids who were sick, I saw the kids who were tardy, I saw the kids who were in trouble. Often, I was the one who was calling to organize transportation for the kids to go home, or I was the one who retrieved them when their guardians showed up to pick them up. Sometimes there were days that I didn’t want to send the kids home though. I would walk them to their classroom (or locker) to retrieve their belongings–especially if they were being sent home for disciplinary reasons. Often they would have crocodile tears rolling out of their eyes. “Dead man walking” is the narration going through my head as we would head up the steps.

“It’s been a rough day, huh?” I would say to the tiny human who is silent as the grave, as they trudge one step at a time.

“Yeah.” A tear splashes on the steps.

“But tomorrow will be better, right?” I would try to encourage them. “Tomorrow’s always going to be better than today. It’s a new day.”

“You don’t know that.” This one child responded, looking at me solemnly and heading along. He retrieved his belongings and away he went with his mom. She wasn’t happy–we all knew this. I wish I could have helped, but I just didn’t know how. Two days later, he was sent home again. This time, his dad picked him up; this time there were no tears. At that point, I couldn’t shake the idea that he’d given up hope about there being a better tomorrow.

I went back to work the following Monday, knowing that there was a slim chance I’d see him there. He was in the final stages of discipline process in our school, and his parents had a real conversation the last time they were in. I wanted to have a real conversation with him, but I was not in that place to do it. I wanted to ask him why he’d been so angry, why he burst out with violence and words when there’s seemingly no cause. There was always a cause, I just didn’t know what was beneath the surface. I wanted to tell him that this intense rollercoaster of emotions would level out, that he was just at the beginning of it all. I wanted to remind him that tomorrow’s going to be a better day.

Two days after this interaction, another act of violence shook our country. A boy–a little older than the one I walked to his classroom that day–acted out in violence and words–shaking a community and injuring the world around him. The shooter’s name is not one that should go down in infamy, but sadly his legacy will be remembered for the devastation it brought. I read the news, I listened to the reports, and I thought of the kids in my school. My heart broke because I heard the conversation again that I had a few days previous: “Tomorrow’s always going to be better than today. It’s a new day.”

“You don’t know that.”

I don’t know that. So, I struggle with hope. All I can do is hope.


This was something that I wrote a year ago, but still applicable:

So the year is winding down and I’ve been thinking about how interesting it’s been. Take tonight, for example.. the theme was ‘unexpected’… an unexpected ticket to an unexpectedly splendid show…. one where I was challenged and comforted, reminded that it’s okay to be human… there is sweet & savory in this season, and it’s okay to embrace both. Josh Garrels hit the nail on the head with that one. The unexpected ticket came from a friend who I’ve been surprised and overwhelmed at how generous she’s been, despite my not expecting her friendship. As much as I build proverbial walls around myself, it surprises me still when people push through those walls… the unexpected people… which then pushes me to push through others’ walls… because maybe next time, I can bring the unexpected. “Oh God, am I strong enough to be the arms of love…” The answer is (at least, personally) no… but when the time comes, the unexpected shows up. #happyAdvent #musicistherapy #youbetIwascryingataChristmasconcert #gocheckout @joshgarrels


I don’t know why Christmas is such a melancholy time of year for me. Is it that I am nostalgic for the past, when mom would pull out the fancy red tablecloth with the thin gold threads throughout, and pop would stand in the cold for seemingly hours to smoke a turkey on the charcoal pit… when Grandpa John and Grandpa Porky would be there, swapping stories of working on the farm or working for the coroner… my brother and his friends would be making the rounds to maximize the most of family dinners… a Christmas tree with a mixture of four generations of ornaments, each having a story, would be lit in the family room… and someone would be playing Burl Ives on the record player… there weren’t ever enough chairs around the kitchen table and someone would always be leaning against the counter because they wanted to be involved, instead of going in search of a spot on the open couch in the other room… the house was loud and our table was full then, with people stopping their busy lives to come together and celebrate the holidays..

It’s changed a lot since then. Life’s gotten too busy and we make too many excuses.. the faces of the past have faded into memory. The tree doesn’t make an appearance and the ornaments are somewhere packed far away.

It’s nights like tonight that I feel kind’ve like an alien, observing a room full of people creating holiday traditions — just by decorating a few Christmas cookies. The house was merry and bright, the lights twinkling, and everything was as you would expect in a hallmark commercial.. Normally, the alien feeling would morph into anxiety in a situation like that, and I would find an excuse to leave as soon as polite society would allow. I’m not thrilled that the melancholy holidays feel comfortable to me, but they’re safe now… Tonight though, the anxiety stayed at bay. I learned how to put icing into a piping bag and decorate cookies (this isn’t something that I ever remember doing in my family), and I felt welcome. There was laughter, and I didn’t feel alone during what’s become a pretty difficult time of the year. It wasn’t a big deal, just a night decorating cookies.. but it meant something to me.


#hello #itsallgonnabeokay #merrychristmasyafilthyanimal #christmascookies #minewerenotfancy #itwasagoodnight


Oh dear Reader, I apologize. I have been buried under a mountain of things, not allowing myself to breathe. There really is no excuse. I can think of five off the top of my head, but what it comes down to is that I have been ignoring my self-care and maintenance.

The question remains: where was I? Well, to be honest, I was here. Right where I always am. I get up, I run through the morning like a madperson (hopefully there is coffee involved), I race out the door to hopefully make it to work on time, I get lost in my work until unreasonably late, and then I come home exhausted. SO, with that being the norm, here are some things that have been thrown in over the past months:

  • I have begun hosting my house on the home-sharing network of AirBnb. I’ve researched tons, worked on physically improving my house, bought a bunch of decorating stuff, and have ventured into a weird status of welcoming strangers into my home. It’s been…. interesting. Don’t worry, I’ll elaborate, I’m sure, on some of these experiences. So far to date since starting hosting in September, I’ve hosted 15 different guests ranging from 1 night to a month.
  • I have ventured back into the world of chiropractic; basically, I have been trying to get back into alignment after a several year break from it. A two week strong migraine leading up to and surrounding my birthday in October broke me down finally to venturing back. It has been phenomenal and terrible all at the same time, and I am going to stay on this maintenance train.
  • I have returned to an established church, with a physical building and a congregation of members. Remember, I’ve been out of it for about two or more years. The past is still influencing the present, but folks–let me tell you that I am not meant to walk on this earth alone. If anything, I have learned that about myself in the recent years. I need that community around me, and I seem to have found a good one to step into. They are pretty neat, and I am optimistic about this move.

Basically, this has been the past few months of silence from me. This has been hard (hard?)… has been bad (bad?)… has been rough (kinky!)….. Sorry, I just realized I had set myself up for a Dear Evan Hansen reference and couldn’t resist. All this to lead into the fact that the holidays are upon us. Historically, this is when I bury myself in even more work and hunker down until I hope the spring comes through.

I’ve been using a couple different venues for writing but I will endeavor to consolidate them over the next few weeks, so as to keep my crazy a smidge more contained. Prepare yourself (and give me feedback) on the coming thoughts.. So, I guess it could be said that I am back. Busy as ever, but indeed back.


“The future isn’t just something that happens, it’s a brutal force with a great sense of humor that will steamroll you if you’re not watching.” (movie: ALOHA)

“What good’s the life you were given if all you do is stand in one place?” (“The Ends of the Earth” by Lord Huron)


Life gets stressful & I tend to head into the kitchen when that happens. I fall back on old standards, often recipes written on a scrap of paper or a notecard. I found this one written on a weathered lined yellow notepad paper, tucked in one of my books. It made me smile, because it brings memories of sitting around a kitchen table with my extended family. Whenever our family gets together, my aunt will make two different dips while the rest of us gorge ourselves with chips and veggies. The white dill dip is a recipe for another day, but this–this is one of my favorites.

Jo’s TexMex Salsa

5-6 whole tomatoes (med-lg size)

1 can Rotel tomatoes & green chilis

1 bunch of cilantro (handful)

1/2-1 clove (bulb) of garlic

Cracked pepper & pinch of salt

3-4 large jalepenos (seeds & all)

1 med lime (smush well to get all juice)

If you have a hand chopper, it all gets diced pretty small. If available, throw into a bullet blender or a food processor & liquefy it all.

–some things to add for random extras on different occasions:

1-2 pinches of Cumin

OR (never AND)

1-2 pinches of Mesquite

Suggestion: don’t mix Cumin & Mesquite. I’ve never tried it to know what the result would be, but I’m pretty sure it would be atrocious.


to the guy who introduced me to Star Wars, fast cars, jumping off a floating dock, wearing pink windbreaker and red shorts that match because they both say “NIKE”, conspiracy theories, and catching turtles on float trips: you’re my favorite brother and I’ll love you forever. I’ll miss you forever as well.  

I think of him from time to time / Just what it is he left behind / His life alone I’ll always remind / We’ve all the things we have to look to find / Of the strength we both had to find / Of the strength we both had to find / That’s all that he’s left behind… 

(“Love Can’t Stand Alone” by Bear’s Den)

#loveyouforever #aslongasimliving #mybrotheryoullbe


“Do you ever wonder what your life would be like? What will you wish you would’ve done? Get after it already. What’s life without a little adventure? We get once chance: best live a big life. The exploration of the unknown, the hope of something more–this behavior can be classified as typically hazardous. I call it an adventure. Welcome, let’s get started, shall we?” (Opening intro to Podcast: Typically Hazardous by Hank.)

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