Friday, December 16, 2016


Day 11


I'm both country and city.
I can do red-carpet-fresh, and I can do gym-casual-hipster.

I was trying to explain my self, my lifestyle to a new friend last weekend.
I was trying to provide clarity as to the vast array of my awkwardness.

It's not an easy task.

My background is agriculture, my roots in the Desert Southwest of Arizona.

Growing up, "cold" meant the temps dropped to the 60's.
"Dangerous" meant being out after dark.
"Friends" were hard to come by and "trust" was everything, and nothing at the same time.

Agriculture took us to the fertile Salinas Valley, eight miles from the Pacific Ocean.
There I learned what hard work meant--- including how to be ready to uproot your entire life at the drop of a hat and turn around and retrace your steps in hope of finding your way back home.

The quiet of the desert provided the most stability, and also gave me the wings to fly away.

Enter Kansas.

Specifically, Lindsborg.

In college, you're shielded from the outside world.  At least, I was, living in Little Sweden, USA.  But the College theme that year was "From the Plains to the World", so I guess in a way, you could say this quietly influenced the spirited, venturous, young adult I would become.

From here, I've gone everywhere: South America, the West Indies, all around the Midwest, West Coast, and back again.

And what I've learned, is that, I'm all of it.  

I summed it up by saying something like this:

"It's like....I like my quiet moments, the places I can feel truly relaxed in.  If I don't have down time, I freak out.  I'm big on comfort, until I get too comfortable.  I appreciate small-town businesses, and love connecting with the people I see walking down the street.  But I can't feel contained-- or squashed --- for too long.  I gotta go -- have to keep it moving.  I like having a Home Base, somewhere solid to come back to-- but I have to go breathe different air every once in a while.  

I am so Lindsborg.  That place has my heart.  It's where it all started for me (my adult life).  I have such a connection to that town and the College--I know it was exactly the place I needed to be, it was the decision I was supposed to make, it was where I needed to go to begin growing.  Or continue growing, depending on how you look at it.  I'm still extremely connected to Lindsborg and active in its community, in fact, I HAVE TO get away and go back to Lindsborg every so often, or it's like: 'I can't breathe'.

But then, Kansas City?...Yeah, I love that place.  I love the people there.  I love the energy and diversity and how everything is different every day.  It still feels safe, but there's enough mystery to keep me challenged.  Kansas City lets me d r e a m.  I have to go there every once in a while, or I CAN'T BREATHE.

I need all of it.  I'm not simple.  I'm complicated.  But complicated in a really good way, I think."


18765432 Different Ways

#keepcalmWRITEon Day 14


When we're stressed, we really don't want to hear, "You need to relax a bit."

When we're thinking, we don't want to hear, "Are you okay?"

When we've had a long day and are fighting to not show it on our face, we dont want to hear, "What's wrong?"

See, sometimes our face looks like that because on the inside, our brain is going in 22 directions at once.

Sometimes, it's all we can do to keep our balance amidst the ebb and flow and weight of our own thoughts.

Sometimes, it's hard to make a decision because our over-sensitive brains see 18765432 different ways to solve a problem, but we don't want to be judged, so we keep our opinions to ourselves.

Sensory overload is like being on a super-fast Ferris Wheel, while eating an entire pizza as fast as you can, while trying to count each individual light whizzing by and trying to sing the national anthem, all at once.

It's needing to be in a quiet space NOW, RIGHT NOW, so that your head doesn't explode.

It's throwing your hands up in the air because you can't get a grip on anything anyway.

It's sneaking outside to the 15-degree back patio to let the cold air slow your thumping heart.

Sometimes being an introvert makes us come off .... high-strung.

In reality, it's just exhausting to be around people all the time.

We all have our things.

I Could Have Written Today

#keepcalmWRITEon Day 13


I could have written today.

Instead I overslept, then woke up in a panic.

I realized my list was long and my hours few.

I could have written today.

Instead I overanalyzed, then criticized my thoughts.

I realized my brain is full and my patience thin.

I could have written today.

Instead I overbooked my schedule.

I realized I don't even know what I don't know.

I could have written today.

Instead I overspent my time and energy.

I realized I am the thief of my own joy.

I could have written today.

Instead I overstepped my boundaries.

I realized 

I can be

much nicer

to myself.

Little Too Much Christmas

#keepcalmWRITEon Day 12


(new friend at dinner): "It's just you here?"
(me): "I'm from Arizona."
(new friend): "So you have no family here???"
(friend who's known me longer and knows me better): "She has all of us."


It was a little too much Christmas for me.
We sat around the beautifully decorated table with lit candles, and opened simple, thoughtful, gifts at our placesettings.  We played a game after dinner.
We're still two weeks away, but I just feel it choking me out.
I have so many opinions, so many stereotypes I want to crush, but dare not speak against any of them, for fear of crossing some i n v i s i b l e line in this society I'm still trying to figure out
I live outside the box. That means my life has no "holiday compartment". I get uncomfortable trying to explain my "lack of traditions" to those who don't know me. I just don't agree that I'm missing out. I guess my tradition is that I don't have a tradition, like Nicki said. Is that such a bad thing? 
I'm in the beautiful, free space to be whoever I want to be. Because of this, I have the privilege of being a part of the lives of so many. Friends have turned into family. Most of them understand my heart.

I may be a wanderer, but I am certainly not lost.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Sitting Between Strangers

#keepcalmWRITEon Day 10

Today was Connie's funeral.

Her service was very nice.  The pastor referenced Galatians 5:22 as one of the verses that he felt defined Connie and her life.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control."

This was so lovely to hear.  I smiled when I thought of how much I loved Connie and how awesome she was.  I sat thinking about the last 5 years, since I got to meet Connie and started working at the mental health center.

I sat between two strangers at the service.  Three people who came to the service on their own. We actually sat in the additional room, separate from the main chapel, and watched a live stream of the service on a giant television. It honestly felt no different than being in the main chapel. At one point when the tears hit me, I just bowed my head and buried my face into my scarf. The woman on my right gave me a tissue. The man on my left patted my arm.   
I recognized him from around town, and from the mental health center (I would say "from seeing him around the office"....but I don't work there anymore! I'm still processing that, especially these days when I think about my CKMHC cowokers..).

He was one of the adult clients Connie had worked with at some point. 

When the officiant asked for stories and memories of our beloved Connie, I felt him shuffle around.

I could tell he wanted to share a story, but we weren't in the main chapel, so I thought about how he and others may not get to share their hearts.

After the first person was done speaking, he stood up.

It dawned on me that he didn't realize that those in the main chapel, including the officiant, couldn't see him.  Only those of us in the same room with him knew he wanted to share.

He sat down when the second person started speaking.

This happened once more, but this time, I stood with him.  I leaned in and quietly asked him if he wanted to go to the main chapel and share, and he said yes, so, while the third person spoke, and our room full of people watched, I put my arm through his and we went over to the main chapel.  An usher was able to help him get next in line to speak, and he was able to share sweet words that brought tears to many.

I think it was important for him to get that opportunity to speak.  He got to share from the perspective of having been an individual who Connie had helped, in her work at the mental health center.

I was so glad I was sitting next to him.

"...patience, kindness, goodness..."

Short on Time, Long on Thoughts

#keepcalmWRITEON Day 9
(( Middle of the night writing again))


What to say tonight?
The air is crisp, the sky dark
The seasons changing in my heart 
Walls coming down,
Then going up...
Refuse to settle,
Make my own luck.
Stressed, yes.
Trusting the transition, yes...

But really, am I trusting?
Am I too far invested,
Or not invested enough?
It's become so common to have 

More questions 
Than answers.

It's become second nature 
To feel overwhelmed 
And tired.
Where is my faith?
Where is my hope?

Another day lies ahead.

Burritos at Midnight

#keepcalmWRITEon Day 8


I was driving home from work.  Now, mind you, my work is not like regular work.  It’s shift work, at a PRTF (that’s short for Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility).  My shift ends at 11:00 pm, and tonight, I was driving away at 11:59 pmmidnight.  I’d just spent 11 hours managing 40 emotionally and behaviorally challenged kids and teenagers, and all the staff that go with them.  Luckily, I didn’t get cussed out or punched or scratched today. But, still, I was tired.  My co-supervisor and I had just finished hashing out staffing for tomorrow, and frankly, it looked a little grim.

I didn’t get to eat dinner at work today, partially because Breakfast/Lunch-Hybrid Meal was not until 4:00pm and I wasn’t hungry yet, and partially because I was so busy attending to the different needs that arise at the PRTF. 

So, of course, I decided that I should pull through the drive-through at Pancho’s (BEST FOOD EVER), on my way home (breaking my rule of not eating restaurant food late at night...I've been really good about that lately, but I felt like I could give myself permission to go!).

So, feeling like I had rationalized well with myself, off to Pancho’s I drove.

It’s worth mentioning that today was the second REALLY COLD day of the year.  The high temperature this afternoon reached 25 degrees, and driving through town, I noticed the glittering, sparkling frost atop the roofs of several buildings.  I was enjoying the drive; it gave me a few extra minutes to wind down and get my brain to chill out after the busy evening at work.

Pulling into Pancho’s, I noticed the line of cars wrapped all the way around the drive-thru and around the building.  “Wow!” I thought, “It’s poppin’ tonight! Everyone must be hungry tonight.”

I knew I would wait in line for several minutes before anyone took my order, and even a few more minutes while I paid at the window and my food was being prepared.  I ordered two things --a bacon breakfast burrito and a chicken quesadilla – thinking that I could save one for tomorrow’s Breakfast-Lunch Hybrid Meal.  While I waited, I absentmindedly checked my phone, wrote in my calendar, and thought about what I would do when I got home…until I saw him.

He had blonde-ish, brown-ish hair, that looked a little long…and he wore all black, and glasses on his face.  He seemed young, in his 20’s, and he carried a backpack, and seemed to be doing some sort of dance between walking in and out of the building.  He began to cross the street in front of me towards the parking lot; I couldn’t tell what he was doing, so I let the car in front of me pull away and I waited – unsure of what this guy was doing or where he was going.  He turned back around and approached the door to the building again, and this time, made eye contact with me, and –could that be?—yes, he waved at me.

I was so tired from work and distracted by my phone and planners, I couldn’t decide if this was actually happening or not.  But yes; he waved at me and began motioning and gesturing…asking for food, drink, something, ANYTHING.  I began to shake my head at him, in disbelief.  I hadn’t pulled all the way up to the window yet and had nobody to discuss the matter with but myself.  

As I furrowed my brow at him, I pulled up to the window and paid for my food, handing my debit card securely to the cashier, then making eye contact with the stranger while I tucked my debit card out of sight.  When my food was handed to me, I knew what I would do.  I reached into my takeout bag, pulled out my burrito, and put it in my left hand— then I rolled down my window.

I pulled my car forward and handed the burrito to the stranger.  He said, “I love you, thank you” and I told him, “It’s a bacon breakfast burrito, it’s delicious”.
He said, “You’re awesome”.

And I drove away.

I watched him in my rearview mirror, saw him beginning to unwrap the burrito.

That was it.

An encounter not more than 2 minutes in length.

An exchange between two human beings: one with the power to improve the others’ day; the other, would never be able to repay her.

It just made me think.

How many people in front of me, in that long line of cars on this cold December night, avoided eye contact with this stranger?

How many of them drove right on past him, with overpriced burritos in their cars, heading to their cozy, warm homes…without even giving him a second thought?  If I hadn't driven through tonight, would he have eaten?

How long had he stood there, smelling the food from outside the restaurant, knowing there wasn’t a seat for him at the table inside, because he had nothing in his pockets?

I have never truly gone without.

I have never known true hunger or need.  Even in my worst times, I’ve always had a roof over my head.  I have never had to beg.

Who am I, that I get to buy a giant burrito and a stuffed quesadilla, at midnight, without thinking anything of it? Who am I, that I deserve to go to bed in a warm bed tonight with a full stomach?

I just don’t get it.

I could have decided that I was too tired to care, that my day had been too long, and that I needed to take care of myself now and put myself first and keep myself safe and look out for myself and do what I needed to do for me, because it’s late it’s the middle of the night and this isn’t rational and this is crazy and why didn’t you go straight home and I put up with too much crap at work and I don’t deserve that and what about me and that this guy could hurt me and who knows what he wants and don’t give him money he’ll use it for drugs and you shouldn’t enable because they all need to work and Gilda you work hard for your money you need to guard it more carefully and you can’t save them all Gilda just keep driving just give him an apologetic look on your way and say a prayer for him that God would bless him tonight…

If all I have to do to make a difference in the life of my neighbor, is to buy a burrito for someone who hasn’t eaten that day, when I would buy two for myself anyway…why hesitate?

Why not help create a world:

“…where the hungry feast
because the fed
are fasting.
Where I learn to go without so others no longer have to plead
Where there is enough for everyone’s need
But not everyone’s greed…”

I’ll survive without that burrito.  To me, it was extra, something I didn’t really need. To him, it was divine provision.

I hope I gave him hope tonight. 

We can all do so much if we all just look out for one another.

Discipline me, Lord, in the weakening power of Your simplicity. I am so honored to be the blessing.