Archive | August, 2021

All Beaked Up with Nowhere to Go

22 Aug

It’s been a strange week for me. After putting it off for about 35 years, I finally agreed with the doctor that my sinuses might be a tad, well, debilitated. I think his exact words were something like, “I’m wondering if you’ve ever experienced a decent breath.”

Apparently, I couldn’t put it off any longer. I’d run out of excuses. It’s not that I didn’t care, but everything else seemed to come first. Family, church, work, social activities, writing, cleaning—everything. Anything:

It’s nearly Christmas. Perhaps after the holidays.

Let’s get through summer vacation and then maybe I’ll have it looked at.

I can’t do anything about it now. I used up all my leave over the summer.

Are you kidding? I’m about to start a new job.

I have this giant stack of coupons to clip…

Long story, shortened: I finally said yes. I took a few days off and committed my brain to a stranger’s hands. He authorized someone to pump anesthesia into my veins and they wheeled me away. In that last moment of clarity, I looked back to my friend and said something I’ve never found the slightest bit amusing, but for the moment it was perfect.

“Smell you later!” I remember the nurses giggling, but nothing else.

Today I feel a bit like I’ve been punched in the face. I’ve spent the past few days trying to keep my head still, and tilted back to hasten healing, wearing a bandage that looked like a duck beak. No television, no standing, no lifting. I couldn’t move if I wanted to. I felt as if I were carrying my head on a balloon string, the faster I moved, the more it jerked backward.

By the way, to my fellow bibliophiles who think this might be a dream predicament, yes, I shared your optimism that I might be left with no option but to read. I pulled out a Kindle and held it above my tilted head—awkward but somewhat doable—until I dropped it on my beak. I think I saw actual stars. Sadly, I had to do this three times before admitting reading might not work out.

So, I did nothing. I don’t know if I’ve ever done nothing in my life, but it’s been strangely freeing.

Despite this tale of silly woe, don’t feel sorry for me. I’m not posting this lovely picture to elicit sympathy. I find it hilarious. I can laugh because I see only positives. Every day my head is a bit better. Tonight I’m going to try washing my hair. Tomorrow I’m going to work (which is not a victory for me, but my boss will be glad, I think).

The point is, I know where this is leading. I still can’t breathe. The doctor said I shouldn’t expect to for a week or so but I can be confident the victory at the other end will be worth all the pain and discomfort. I, too, am wondering if I’ve ever experienced a clear breath. I’m wondering if it will be like the first day I put on glasses and the entire world looked new—will the world smell new? Will I sleep through the night? Will the weekly migraines ebb?

Will I find myself shaking my head over all this procrastination, asking why I didn’t do this sooner?

Ah. There’s the real issue. Over the years, this is something many doctors have often approached me about. I deliberately ignored their advice and encouragement, preferring my ordinary status as a prominent mouth breather and migraine sufferer to something I didn’t know. I don’t embrace change. But now I’m excited about what tomorrow might bring.

Isn’t this like so many areas of our lives? I have many tasks on my “to do” list that I’ve ignored or put off, thinking the timing isn’t right, I’m just not ready, or I have too many coupons to clip. I’m only cheating myself. Many of those are pathways God has laid out before me that I choose not to walk on, because I’m not sure where they lead. They are victories He has in store for me if I would only denounce my ordinary status. I know. I just KNOW, when I finally take those steps I will see victory, and I will wonder why I didn’t do this sooner.

It’s time to send that letter. Sign up for that class. Apologize, whether you’re wrong or not. Submit that invention idea. Apply for that job. Listen to that voice calling. Every day that goes by is one more day without tasting victory. For me, that looks like submitting a book proposal. What does it look like to you?


For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. – Hebrews 12:11.

Uprooting and Unraveling: Is Family Worth the Effort?

8 Aug

“Families are messy. . . Sometimes the best we can do is to remind each other that we’re related for better or for worse…and try to keep the maiming and killing to a minimum.” ― Rick Riordan

Not all families are close-knit, but I believe a desire to be part of a close-knit family is deeply entrenched in each of us—the desire to know there are people out there who love us for who we are and not what we do, people who will remember our birthdays, who will always have a listening ear, and who will be there when we need them, even if we store them on a shelf like discarded potted plants at other times.

That desire is what keeps us going back, or wanting to go back, to that point where the yarn began unraveling and start again. Get to know each other better, rekindle a friendship—we pull a tray of dry plants from the shelf and flood them with water.

The reality is, we don’t know the first thing about those plants.  In fact, we never really understood them in the first place. Do they even need water, or are they suffering from something else? And what’s with those prickers? Each one has different needs, and yet all we have to offer is this pitcher of water.

So we pour, and they sputter. Or shrivel back. Or don’t even respond.

My own family is, well, not even loosely knit. We are nine siblings born over a span of 19 years in three sets of three. Each set of children experienced a completely different set of parents—despite us all having the same mother and father, and if we took our cues from their example only, we ended up with a rather confusing definition of love.

I met with some my siblings recently for a semi-reunion. We had some good times, laughed a bit, and enjoyed mom’s donuts and pickles—two family recipes I thought I’d never taste again. We also failed in many areas, simply because we don’t know each other.

Don’t get me wrong, my siblings are fantastic. They’ve each overcome phenomenal odds and I found them all to be loving, caring, smart, witty, and giving people. Interestingly, there was one child from each set (I’m the middle child of the middle set), and two from the oldest at this gathering. But although we hadn’t been together in nearly 20 years, something made us think we could just pick up and slide into relationship. Throw into that mix attention deficit, introverts, autism, high expectations, and varied recollections of an unusual past, we barely made it to first base.

I certainly didn’t help matters. As an extreme introvert, I’ve kept to myself over the years, defining my family as my husband and the boys. Sibling issues exhausted me, trying to understand why this person doesn’t like that person and what this brother did to that one. There was a point at this gathering when I threw my hands up and said, “I quit. It’s not worth the drama.” This is an introvert’s most treasured weapon—retreating.

But I didn’t. I went into the fray and asked for knowledge. Boy, did I get it. I’m still processing some of what I learned. I am sure some of my sibs may be cringing as they read this. I don’t know them well enough to decide whether this will be considered therapeutic or airing dirty laundry, but it’s therapeutic for me. Because my advice is not just to them, but to all loosely knit or unraveling families: Keep trying. They’re worth it.

cacti, all in a row
The more I stare at this family, the more I understand my own.

Because maybe, just maybe, after we put ourselves out there enough, those little sprouts will begin to respond and grow. I learned a lot about my siblings and their family members during our short time together, and it has stirred up a hunger to know more. I left feeling a tad melancholy that I’ve missed out on so much family over the years by listening to my introvert voice. Family: brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews (some of whom I haven’t’ even met, for Pete’s sake!) I want to know them. I want to know their stories. Their dreams. Their lives aside from social media.

None of us is perfect. We’re going to keep screwing this up, I can promise you that. But I commit to doing what I can to start cultivating a ground in which siblings can not only sprout but thrive. Shoot, in this ground, even weeds are welcome, which is a good thing, as I am surely a weed of the most bizarre sort.


Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8