The Loneliness Map

The other night, I was talking to my friend about loneliness, how the experience of it has morphed for me over the years. This is a post I can write tonight because tonight I actually don’t feel lonely. It gives me perspective.

So I wrote up what follows, and then, upon re-reading it, realized that I am probably describing all of these ages from the perspective of being 36. I see age 16 so differently now, 20 years out, but at the time, would I have described it as torment? Probably.

I don’t want to shrug off any pain of Younger Me, but I also do want to accept all the growth I’ve experienced over the years. With that said, I present to you a mini-timeline of my experience with feeling lonely. Gosh, there is so much more to be said, but I really did just want to type up a little thing to see how it compared to others’.

Now I think I’ll probably show it to my therapist! 🙂

connor-wells-534089-unsplashLoneliness at 11: beginning to recognize that my thought process was very different from friends my age (i.e. undiagnosed OCD)

Loneliness at 16: melodramatic tears over the boy to whom I was “just a friend”

Loneliness at 22: perpetual bridesmaid/wedding guest, delighted for my girlfriends who were the most gorgeous brides– but a little wistful, wondering when I’d have my own special someone

Loneliness at 25: too throttled with anxiety to care too much about being single

Loneliness at 28: too excited about writing to care too much about being single

Loneliness at 31: gobsmacked to see my friends celebrating 10-year anniversaries, changed from wondering when I’d have my own special someone to if I would at all, loneliness became an actual physical pain

Loneliness at 36: almost unbearable when it hits

What about you? What ages were milestones?

A Third Way

To the left, a hard choice. To the right, its difficult twin. Neither calls to me. Both are heavy.

I keep being led to scripture passages about God doing his own THANG. Chains falling off Peter’s wrists. God lighting a water-drenched altar on fire… and the fire CONSUMING THE WATER IN THE TRENCH AROUND IT.

Immediately after that story, Elijah tells Ahab he hears the sound of rain. At this point, there has been a drought for something like three years. He sends Ahab away, then climbs a mountain, then bows down with his face between his knees. Praying? I don’t know, but I suspect. He asks a servant to go look toward the sea. Servant sees nothing. He tells the servant to go check again ANOTHER SEVEN TIMES. Finally, the servant says, “A little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And it storms.

Point being? I don’t know. Well, maybe I do. There’s so much here that challenges me. The faith to declare the rain is coming long before there is any sign of it. The persistence. The mighty, out-of-the-box works of God. Faced with two choices I am unsure of, I am asking God for a third way, for him to do his own thing. Then asking again. Another seven times.

Not that there is anything magical about that number. I just want to be persistent and expectant, keeping my eyes peeled for a little cloud that will change everything.

I’m so hot.

Being a freckled, Irish strawberry blonde, I’ve always been sensitive to heat. I have to be careful about sunburns because, oh buddy, they happen quickly and are brutal.

About two years ago though, I noticed that I was sweating all the time, mostly along my hairline, and even in situations that didn’t seem to warrant it. It also gave me a sense of claustrophobia and drained my energy at a faster rate. I started to choose activities based on temperature, no joke.

Fast forward to this past fall, when I finally started getting answers to my health questions. It turns out people with fibromyalgia often have temperature dysregulation, an inability to moderate our own body temperature. While it looks different for each person, for me, it means:

* being warm/hot 95% of the time

* even when the weather is freezing (hi, I’m a Minnesotan)

* a shower or blowdrying my hair can make me feel like I’m experiencing a hot flash

* I’m ultra sensitive to it to the point where I feel like I can’t breathe well and experience exhaustion

* I have a fan on while those who share my office have their space heaters going

* even coming in from a cold Minnesota day into a regular indoor temperature feels like such a sudden rush of heat that it spreads across my body, my entire scalp, and across my jaw

It’s actually been really good to read up about it. This is a particularly good article, but there are so many articles written and studies done on fibro and temperature problems.

What this means for me, much of which you will never see:

* when someone suggests an activity, I judge it based on how warm/hot it will make me and what opportunities I will have to cool down (for example, going to an outdoor baseball game in the sun would be a terrible idea for me … going hiking would be actually detrimental)

* When I feel myself overheating, I have to stop and cool my body temp down; letting myself pass a certain point will actually make me sick for 2-3 days. It’s better to just go stand in front of my open window for 5-10 minutes and cool my core down.

* it has very little to do with my weight and everything to do with my hypothalamus.

* I have to be careful with exercise. Walking and yoga do the trick; cardio would make me sick for a week.

* I’m ultra aware of not dressing too warm. I can only wear sweaters and fleece in the coldest weather. I barely wear a coat, even in winter, though I do bring it with me (safety first– Minnesota’s winter temps are no joke!). If I dress for cold weather, I need to wear layers because I will likely need to cool down layer on in the work day.

* Cooling down the palm of the hand helps cool your core. This is key.

Why am I telling you all this?

First, it took me a long time to figure out what was going on with me. Maybe this will help someone else.

Secondly, it’s a friendly reminder about invisible illnesses. Your friend or colleague might be dealing with something that doesn’t make sense to you, but it doesn’t mean it’s not real.

Thirdly, usually the person inside the body knows it best. Well-meaning friends can make all the suggestions they want (“Come to my spin class!” “You’ll feel better if you just …”), but it’s your body. You know what will feel better or worse. Trust yourself. Trust the body owner.

When Spring is Fiction


Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,

At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,

When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,

And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.


It’s April 15th, and so far, we’ve gotten 14 inches of snow in my little neighborhood outside of NE Minneapolis. This weekend, I mean. Not this whole winter. Just since Friday night.

I’m so over it.

That said, I’ve been fairly productive this weekend, stuck inside. In spite of an achy body and head and face, I’ve got a load of laundry rocking, took out all the garbage, applied for an artist residency, and am about to re-work the synopsis of Salt Novel.

Salt Novel. I haven’t talked much about that lately, have I? Know that I am more in love with the characters than ever before, and I’m filled with so many ideas I barely know where to start. I messaged my writing friend Anna last weekend and said I needed some coaching. She invited me over to her house and asked a hundred questions, and then immediately started reading my manuscript and all the notes I’ve got on it. I just need a plan. I love having a plan, and yet, I feel a bit paralyzed in creating one right now. It’s so good to have brilliant friends whose help I can summon.

So I’m sitting in my home office, waiting for the Tylenol to kick in, and then going to try to rearrange the plot of my book into something more powerful. Plot is not my strong point and probably never will be.

Characters are my jam, and it is good to be with these folks.

My book takes place as spring emerges. I guess I’ll take spring any way I can get it.

Two Crazy Kids & Paperless Post

My parents celebrated their 38th anniversary on the 11th.

They are truly something else– the cutest couple, two people who are tirelessly passionate about their individual projects and dedicated completely to our family. I know that I am the luckiest girl in the world to have them as parents; they are the safety net empowering every risk I take.

Their anniversary messages to each other consisted of handwritten notes on a sheet of computer paper since their work shifts are opposite right now.

He told her she’d made him the luckiest man.

She responded with how grateful she was to God.

He reminded her they were out of clean forks, and we were back to real life.


Meanwhile, I’d been invited to play around with the Paperless Post website in exchange for writing a review, so …

I sent my parents an anniversary card. Paperless Post has partnered with world-famous designers and lifestyle brands, allowing me to customize my own Kate Spade New York e-card, which delighted my dorky little creative heart. In addition to the card, you can choose everything from the background to the message design, envelope liner and “stamp.” The level of detail is a little overwhelming at first, but I ended up having a lot of fun with it.

paperless post 5

paperless post 3

How cute is that??

Pretty adorable, but not as cute as these two. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad!


The Salvation of Metaphor

Forgive me for being vague. It’s out of necessity. Instead of the details, I will share with you the metaphor I used in describing it earlier to a friend.

I said, “Picture me as a prisoner who has been unfairly locked up. I’ve finally reached the day of my release, only to find out that my options are to either return to my cell or else work for the bad guys on the outside responsible for my imprisonment.”

My friend said, “Is there no way out?”

And in that moment, this is what came to mind.

This is describing the God I believe in, people.

So I am going to pray. Watch. Wait for the chains to fall off and the iron gate to open. There are more than just two options when dealing with a God this big.

I keep returning to verse 7 though: getting struck in the side by angel sounds painful.

Not sure if/how that will enter into my metaphor, but I am grateful for the support of the most incredible friends.

Earlier today, during a nap meant to avoid thinking about my situation, I dreamed that my friend Rachel saved me twice– once from a full-on weird undercover operative, once by paying for my Chipotle when I found myself without my purse. Tonight I texted her that I was lonely and I wouldn’t even ask for her to save me except that she already had in my dream.

Rachel’s response: “I’ll grab Chipotle and come sit with you. Text me your order.”

For the most part, I don’t believe in coincidence.