Letter to Little Jackie

Yesterday my sister found some old photo albums at the farm where we grew up. She took a few photos of photos (hence the glare and low quality) and sent them to me. Look at this sweet one of little bitty me in footie jammies and a towel turban, probably after a bath. I love my sweet little face, the chubby cheeks, the freckles that you can’t quite see in the pic but that my mind automatically interprets.

little jackie

I had read somewhere online about how cruel we are to ourselves as adults, how we would never criticize children with the hurtful words we say to our own souls. Last night I looked at this picture and imagined myself saying things to this little girl that I say to myself regularly: that I feel like a failure, that I’m fat and undesirable.

I started to cry. All I want to say to Little Jackie is encouragement: that she is so smart and clever, so funny and interesting, that already she is telling stories and that she must keep telling stories and that someday people will bind those stories into a book and people all over will read them. I want to tell her that life will be hard, but that she is strong … strong-willed, strong-minded. That she isn’t the kind of girl who gives up and how precious she is, how beloved.

I want her to know that at any size or weight, she is worthy of love, and that her mind is a good one, sometimes too good, sometimes so fast and sharp and overactive that it will lead to some sadness and fear, but that she can overcome that too. I want to remind her that she has incredible parents, incredible siblings, and will someday have a whole host of friends who will absolutely adore her mind, her heart, her creativity. That even when she thinks that God has turned away, he never did.

Little Jackie, there are so many hard things in the years ahead, but you are never, ever alone. You have the capacity to love and create. You can go after your dreams and reach them, and you will be supported every step of the way. You will get sick– first, in your mind– but it will turn out okay when you ask for help. Then you will get sick in your body, but it doesn’t mean that you are not worthy of good things. Sickness isn’t your fault, and you will have the courage to ask for help and the fortune of receiving it.

Little Jackie, there are so many good things coming in the years ahead: so much laughing, so many stories, so many great people, so much potential.

Little Jackie, I believe in you.


36-Year-Old Jackie


One weird question I’ve thought about a lot is … in which order would you prefer to lose your senses?

First to go for me would be smell.

Then taste.

The third and fourth are the two I switch around the most. Today I would choose to lose my sight before my hearing.

Last to go for me would be touch.

How about you?

The Freckled Actress Grows Resolute

When I heard this song today, I said, “In the movie of my life, this song would play while I FIGURED OUT THE ANSWER and MADE THINGS RIGHT.”

I shall now listen to it on repeat until I figure out the answer and make things right. 🙂

Listen below– I have it set to start toward the ending (you know, where the actress who plays Jackie [Emma Stone??] suddenly looks up, wipes her tears, gets to her feet and starts running toward the home of “that guy” [Matthew Gray Gubler??] or else sits down at an old-fashioned typewriter [c’mon, a laptop wouldn’t be as cool] and there’s a montage of pages of a manuscript piling up).

What song(s) would be featured on your life’s soundtrack?


There is something so lovely about short long-term goals.

Yes, short. long. term.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the summer of 2020, which will mark 20 years since I graduated high school, and what I want to be true of my life by that time. Two years feels like the perfect amount of time: enough time to make a serious dent in things, but imminent enough to start right now.

I’ve lost a lot of confidence this year. I haven’t been writing, and I find myself scared to even open my manuscript. That’s a long fall from 2015, when my debut novel came out, but it feels like a million things have happened since then to chip away at my confidence. If it was once a sculpture, it is now dust. Too much has happened.

But I also know that confidence is not a stagnant thing. For me, it has ebbed and flowed like the tide. I still am a great speaker, I am creative, thoughtful, and smart. I love stories and believe in their power.

Concrete is made of three things: water, aggregate, and cement.

I have my gravel: the past.

I have water: the future.

And I have cement, the glue that will bind it all together: an abiding love for story and a calling to write.

Slowly I will rebuild.

2020, I am coming for you.


The Silver Lining of a Greasy Floor

I took my favorite six-year-old to Snuffy’s for malts and conversation.

She chose a cherry & cookie dough malt. (I know.)

We played Would You Rather.

Miss E: Would you rather live in a mansion or … under the table here at Snuffy’s?

Me: Ummm … a mansion.

Miss E, with pure joy in her eyes: I’d rather live here! Then I could make malts anytime I wanted!

Oh, that joy. I love her beautiful, pure heart.


Observations after an SVU Marathon

I grew up in a town of 700 where we left the car running in the parking lot and didn’t lock the doors to our houses.

These days, I live in the city and watch too much Criminal Minds and SVU. 

Now I don’t open the door without checking who it is. I call 911 when anything seems fishy. I hurry to my car in a parking lot and immediately lock the doors. I am vigilant. When I take my favorite kiddos shopping, I barely blink, let alone take my eyes off them.

Sometimes I have nightmares, which means I need to shut off the TV.

But these episodes also give me hope. So many people are rescued at the last possible second. I have a better understanding of what “victim” means.

Does watching shows like this influence your behavior?

Grief, Part Three (the Hopeful Part)

guilherme-stecanella-366390-unsplashIf it seems like I’ve given up, that’s not true.

I’m exploring all the regular stuff (medication, therapy, extra rest, a new mattress) alongside less typical treatments like dynamic neural retraining, placebo meditation, Acceptance and Commitment therapy, warm water therapy.

It’s been hard to blog because I can’t seem to think about anything else lately other than how crummy I feel. Even when I try to write about something else, something fun, it only reminds me that I have no energy for it. In some ways I am being reminded of the summer of … oh, 2006 maybe? When I had no energy. That was due to Luvox, an OCD med, and it was terrible-terrible-terrible, but it didn’t last forever.

I know that chronic means ongoing, but I am excited about all the different opportunities to work toward health. And I do not forget that miracles happen. I am in a weird season, I know, and I thank you for hanging in there with me.

My brother is getting married a week from today– it should be a lot of fun. I rented the most gorgeous dress, all navy blue and sequins, and I’ll be reading a poem I’ve written for the bride and groom. The writing conference a couple weekends ago was lovely and life-giving, so delicious to be in the presence of creative believers. I’ve been enjoying inspirational videos online too and wanted to share the one below with you. I’ll warn you that the music is a bit annoying, but the various speeches will give you so much strength!

Grief, Part One

I crawled into bed at 8:30 tonight, early for almost anyone, super early for a night owl like me.

I feel like I haven’t blogged much lately because I’m not sure how to do it without sounding whiny, and I hate that. I just imagine everyone is so damn sick of me saying how hard 2018 has been.

So then I try to write about something else entirely, but it just feels so fake, and I hate fakeness even more than whining. 🙂

Poetry almost feels like the most perfect language right now because you can obscure everything, stay passionate but obscure everything else. So I write poems.

Here I will attempt to be authentic without complaining. Just the facts.

I’m in survival mode. My house is a mess. I miss working on my novel and long to be reunited with the writer part of my identity, but I’m melting in the summer heat, which makes me feel like a bucket full of holes. My back has been spasming as if it were water on the boil. It leaves me full of knots that feel like cement, or like the stone “eggs” that work themselves out of Chan Dan Ya.

I’m lonely. After being dumb enough to let the same guy ghost me again, I dont have much energy around online dating, and even though I know that a romantic partner will not solve all the problems in the world, it does feel like it would be easier to be sick if I could just hold someone’s hand. I’m sad, but it has more to do with circumstances than straight-up depression, I think.

I guess the best summary of 2018 would be to say that I’m grieving a lot of things. Wow. It actually feels really good to be able to summarize it that way. I’m grieving.




I’m grieving. Had to guide myself there, but I got there, and now I get to just grieve. That’s not whining. That’s real. It’s grief.

(I know this doesn’t seem like a huge breakthrough to everyone, but clearly it is for me, haha!)

Because I have compassion for those who grieve. So maybe I can find some for myself.