Roots & Wings


I’ve never have a bad attitude at an airport.  Airports are my thing.  Redbull doesn’t give me wings – airports do.  The collision of stories, the endless possibilities, the myriad of colors and voices all in one place for that one moment, but literally spreading out to the ends of the earth the next moment.  Ah, chills.  Someday I plan to arrive at LAX and throw down a wad of cash for their next outbound international flight, wherever it may be.

I first found my wings when I was 18 and boarded a plane for Israel.  I can still remember walking down the boarding gate to my plane and turning for a look back to my Mom – back in the good old days when they let people come to your gate to see you off.  She was smiling through her tears – the kind of smile that came with a slight shoulder shrug, a long-distance nudge to keep going forward.  That smile brought me so much courage, just what I needed to board a plane to a new place with new people.  Wing-spreading quickly became my favorite pastime, be it locally or globally.

But two weeks ago, when a friend dropped us off at John Wayne, you would’ve thought we were headed to outer Mongolia.  And I guess in some ways we were, since we were on our way to the Midwest.  In January.  Just in time for a Polar Vortex.  All I wanted to do was stay home –  a brand new sensation for this girl.

See, when life brought a season of storms – a friend’s cancer, unemployment, infertility being among the fiercest – I looked for stability anywhere I could find it.  I looked for roots, and I found them.  I fell in love with things like security and comfort – or at least their illusions.  I discovered rich community and simple joy around a living room, perfectly content for it to be the same living room over and over and over.  When we bought our house I was so excited that I could stay in this place for, like, forever. But now, with two weeks off, I was leaving it, and Did. Not. Want. To.

I’m pretty sure I got on that plane purely out of muscle memory.  Or maybe my husband carried me.  It’s a blur.

But I had to get on that plane – even though it was headed to the tundra – to find a truth that I’d forgotten.  I didn’t want to get on that plane, but I’m oh-so-glad I did. photo-16

Boarding that flight meant I got to see what Chicago’s river looks like with ice chunks fighting for elbow room.  I got a five mile arctic walk in with my husband of nine years, holding gloves instead of hands.  I got to spend ten dollars to buy some Thai monks in sandals a hot tea, only to see them get in a cab before my actions could trump the language barrier.

I got to see what my friend’s kitchen looks like. And where she shops for groceries.  And smell her trees and play in her snow and drink deep of the life she lives day by day.

I got to taste the glory of St Louis’ Candy Kitchen and Chicago’s deep dish and know what melted ricotta and chocolate chips can do to one’s soul.  I got to bask in time with such good friends, and trade hugs that can say more than a Skype date ever can.  And I got to meet new friends, forging bridges that I know we’ll cross again in the future.



As I was sitting in a Chicago Pizzeria, a place that looked like the quintessential “where-everybody-knows-your-name”, but where no one knew mine, I realized just how deeply I love having both roots and wings. Pictures of the 1921 Chicago Whitesox hung on the wall, and I imagined the team actually gathering in this place for a taste of the pizza pie I was about to indulge in (OMG Chicago’s food).  Thinking of their roots made me think of mine, and all the wonderful places where people do know my name.  And all the people that know the deepest truths of who I am, oftentimes better than I do.

Having roots doesn’t always mean staying home of course, but it does mean embracing the things that aren’t new, that change so imperceptibly that you might miss it if you’re not paying close attention.

And wings doesn’t always mean a plane flight – it means being ready for the things that ARE new, gifts you didn’t know you needed.  Even if you have a bad attitude about it at the start.

What about you?  Where (or who) are your roots?  How do you spread your wings?  And do you ever, like me, have to remember to reach for both? #truestself


Ringing in the True Year


There are some years that fade into the jungle of memories – When was it we went there?  Did that?  What year was it when … ? 

2013 is not one of those years.  2013 has kicked my butt.  It will not easily be forgotten.

2013 is the year we bought a house that I love more than a girl probably should love four walls and a roof.  It’s the year we “camped out” during a remodel and created priceless memories as (sometimes up to 12 people) hopscotched over skil-saws and lumber and drywall to find our way to the one operating bathroom.   The year that showed me what grace looks like in the form of an amazing construction crew.

2013 is the year my niece came into this world right before my eyes.  It’s the year I learned the art of self-injections and heard the surprise in our fertility Dr’s voice when we lost another hand of “poker” despite amazing cards.

2013 is the year my husband’s job loss opened up some deep ugly inside of me.  It’s the year I scrambled and clawed to grab onto just one more dollar and collapsed into bed each night hating myself for it.  The year my husband has never worked harder, and never worked truer.

2013 is the year I actually got paid a few pennies to write and speak and each time felt like I was getting away with something.

2013 is the year five sets of beautiful friends moved far away.

2013 is the year that life changed oh so much.

So this year, maybe more than most, the idea of a New Year is tangible.

There’s a question that started burning in 2013, and it’s illuminating my way into 2014.  It’s this:  Who is the truest version of myself?  When I’m stressed, is it about things that the truest me really cares about?  When I am successful, is it in things that the truest me really wants to succeed at?  I’m convinced that too many of us live with only hints of our truest selves.  

So what I’m looking forward to most as we turn the page to 2014 is a True Year.  I want 2014 to be the truest year yet.   The year of making decisions that give life to the made-to-be-me-me, even when that may be surprising.

So instead of new year resolutions, I’m making some true year resolutions.  Because I don’t need to be newer, I need to be truer.  And I’m only choosing five, because anything else is just absurd and I won’t do it.

1)   Stretching ignored muscles.  Not just my physical ones, though that’s where I will start.  And not just for the jean size, though that will be a welcomed benefit.  But because as my lungs expand I’m convinced that my perspective will too.  Truer, not newer.

2)   Spiritual food.  My true self can’t live on bread alone, but this year I’ve kinda tried.  I need some spiritual filet mignon.  Truer, not newer.

3)   Adventuring in story – mine and others.  For me, this means picking up neglected projects.  Not only accepting opportunities write and speak but even pursuing them (yikes!).  Creating space to tell story and create story and live with a view towards adventure, knowing adventure often requires more bravery, and that my true self knows how to be brave, even though sometimes she forgets.  Truer, not newer.

4)   Telling the dollar no.  This is a tough one.  But the almighty dollar is not the boss of me.  Truer, not newer.

5)   Savoring.  Rich doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel when I think of the people that fill our lives, whether from near or far, and 2013 allowed me to celebrate them and their truest selves.  I want even more of that in 2014.  Truer, not newer.

So those are my true year resolutions.  I’d love to hear some of yours.

Happy True Year, friends.  #truestself