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Non-Fiction

Non-Fiction

Forever

On this Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share some thoughts about love that may be different than a typical Hallmark movie. The following guest post is by my wise and wonderful friend, Karen Vernal. In her essay, Karen describes her grief over losing her beloved first husband John and then, how she found love again with Tom, the second man to capture her heart so completely. Karen’s beautiful essay resonates so fully with me because I’ve recently experienced the pain of grief and the joy of love, and I’m beginning to recognize that these two emotions often show up together,

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Non-Fiction

Love Wins*

My 90-year-old neighbor Gerry died last month. We’ve lived next door to him and his family for more than thirty years. At the church service, two of Gerry’s children shared stories of their dad, the common thread being how Gerry didn’t suffer fools. In their eulogies, they’d described him as a demanding dad, expecting his children, and the students he taught as a dental school professor, to strive for perfection in everything they did. This didn’t surprise me. Gerry was a man whose lush lawn could’ve doubled as a country club putting green. He diligently swept his long driveway clean

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Non-Fiction

Gifts from a Friend

My friend Mandy is a woman of many gifts and one of the smartest people I know. In our small group of girlfriends since junior high, she’s known as our collective memory. “Mandy, who sat next to us in Mr. Stone’s science class in eighth grade?” She’ll know the answer, just as she knows any line or verse from just about any movie or song we throw at her. Mandy is also a creative, an artist and singer/performer who has the ability to bring beauty into the world with her voice, her words, her actions. She’s the friend who’s always

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Non-Fiction

Not Pretty

Fair warning: If one more person, no matter how well meaning, tells me, “Well, at least it’s pretty,” my snow shovel may turn into a lethal weapon. Snow in springtime is not pretty. You know what’s pretty in springtime? A warm, white sand beach is pretty. A pastel sunset in Key West is pretty. A sweaty, umbrella-garnished piña colada in my tanned hand that I slurp while sitting under a cabana is pretty (or maybe even one version of heaven). But snow in Wisconsin, in March, (or in April and May, if history repeats itself) isn’t pretty. Let me be

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Non-Fiction

Serving a Friend With Mental Illness

I’ve looked up to my big brother Mike my entire life. And I’ve had plenty of reasons to do so. A natural leader, as well as a strong and accomplished athlete, Mike is also funny and kind, super smart and handsome. He and his wife Lisa met in high school, where they were not only voted homecoming king and queen, but went on to nab the title of prom king and queen as well. Everyone—students and teachers alike—loved them. After college, Mike and Lisa married and had two beautiful children, a son Jared and then a daughter, Kristen. She was

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Non-Fiction

Two-By-Four Lessons

A few months ago, the wheels fell off my somewhat-organized life due to some major health setbacks my Mom suffered and continues to address. But I’ve recently had a moment to take stock about what I’ve learned through this experience. I’d like to share my lessons learned to continue my own self-reflection, but even more importantly, to hear about your own, perhaps similar experiences in dealing with the challenges of helping someone you love when they’re most in need. Some of what I’ve learned so far: -My mom is one of the strongest people I know (okay, I knew that

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Non-Fiction

Fight the Fear

She’s baaackkk! The Witch has assumed her position on the front porch, as is her annual tradition. She’s been preparing for the trick-or-treaters who will dare to make the trek past the lighted torches and up to the darkened house for a bit of candy. But this Halloween, as much as she hates to admit it, it’s The Witch who’s scared. Frankly, she’s worried about our country. You see, at several hundred years old (The Witch refuses to share her actual age), she’s seen this movie before and she knows how it ends. She’s seen firsthand what happens when people

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Non-Fiction

My Growing Season

I haven’t posted in a while, not since I returned from my Camino trip. And while it’s been a terrific summer, I wish I could report that the lessons I learned on my trip have fully taken root and are in abundant and full flower. That would be a lie. There’s been a bud here and there—I haven’t forgotten everything I learned. Like the importance of community. Expressing gratitude for everything I have. Recognizing the overwhelming beauty of the world. The joy of travel. But unfortunately, the lessons I learned haven’t been as front-and-center and practiced on a daily basis

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Non-Fiction

The End. Or The Beginning? Rua to Santiago. 15 miles

We were standing on a busy street corner, cars whizzing past us as we desperately searched for even one of the many yellow arrows that had been painted on buildings or cobblestone streets in every town we walked through, no matter how small. They had been with us during our entire six-day journey, helping us to navigate the Camino de Santiago. But not anymore. The arrows seemed to have disappeared the moment we entered our final destination, the City of Santiago. When we’d first arrived, we discovered that Santiago wasn’t what either of us had expected. Much larger by far

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Non-Fiction

Day 5: Casteneda to Rua. 18.3 miles.

Our longest day yet. We were exhausted when we got to our hotel. But so very happy. Some highlights: We met another herd of las vacas on the trail. This time, they were close enough to touch. So close, that we had to move over or be trampled. The farmer herding them was not impressed with the fact that we were peregrinos on the Camino, grunting a curt reply to our “buenos dias,” one of the very few times that we’ve not been welcomed or happily greeted by locals along the way. And the locals who greet us with the

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