Take the damn picture


I used to be weird about pictures.

It felt like a very real threat to my security and safety that at any given time someone might take my picture and it might not be a picture that I thought was good. Good, of course, meant one where none of my perceived flaws showed. A candid? A definite non starter. A full body group photo where I’m not able to hide behind anyone? Absolutely not.

My husband has always taken pictures of me. Sometimes they’re really sweet and you can tell he thought I looked pretty and wanted to capture a moment we shared. Other times I’m asleep with my mouth open, but that’s neither here nor there. I recall a particular day when he showed me a pic he took, I grimaced, and I could tell it hurt him. I didn’t really think about it much until I noticed that he’d stopped taking those pictures of me. He said that it wasn’t fun to take them if it was just going to make me pull a face or say something unkind. It had never occurred to me that he’d stop – and I hated that, for both of us. I gave him carte blanche in that moment and promised I’d never again disparage an image of myself. It’s changed things for me in a big way.

A world exists where this photo is never taken because I might not like how I look in it. How sad would that be??

I can remember another time hearing my oldest daughter nitpick a picture of herself, similar to how I had done before – and that was another big red flag for me. I knew it wasn’t just for me that I had to think long and hard about how I thought and talked about pictures of me.

Here’s the thing. I don’t look perfect or even great in every picture ever taken. I’m still usually making a weird face in any candid pic and ok, I don’t typically post those on the internet, as is my right. But what I don’t do anymore is as follows:

◦ I do not question or complain if someone posts or tags a picture of me that I don’t love. It’s not worth it, and if I say something I run the risk of not being included in the future, and as a picture memory enthusiast, I don’t want that.

◦ I do not ~ ever ~ make a negative comment about a photo of myself. I have plenty of thoughts, I can’t control that. But by not saying them out loud, it’s removed a lot of their power.

◦ If my husband or child takes a photo of me and shows me, I smile. I focus on the fact that they are frickin’ obsessed with me and think I’m the best. That’s why they take my photo. How can I be mad?!

◦ I do not refuse photos if someone wants to take one. If I am feeling nervous about how it looks, I’ll avoid looking at it right away to protect my peace. I can either look later or in all likelihood forget about it entirely.

◦ There are exceptions, but they are few. My oldest daughter has a photo of me on her phone that she thinks is hysterical and I legitimately look like a toad/person hybrid. When she brings it out, we laugh and laugh. She knows it’s just for us, and that’s a-ok.

◦ It is still totally my prerogative to rock a selfie angle whenever I feel like it.

You can pry my right to a gorgeous selfie out of my cold dead hands.

I am not the same as everyone, I know that. But I see this happening all the time around me and I know I’m not the only one with a complicated relationship to their own image. What I can tell you truly is that the above has made me a much more relaxed, contented person, and has been huge in healing my relationship with my body and my image of it. The worst has absolutely happened – bad photos exist of me. Some have even been posted! And I didn’t die. Life went on. People still like me and everything.

And so I can advise with absolute certainty: you should take/be in/allow/accept the damn picture. Because people love you, you are beautiful to them, and those memories belong to you. Take them back and enjoy your life.

Insecure is not a dirty word


When I was growing up, no surprise, I was a sharer. I told my mom (who had no choice but to be my captive audience) almost everything that happened and every time I came home with a new tale of school woes, her response would be generally the same:

They’re probably just insecure.

liz-lemon-eye-roll-gif - HEAL Utah

Me, 15, an absolute delight

I’m sure she said other things too, but this is what I recall most, and OH it made me mad. It makes me laugh now because of course – she’s right – but at the time I remember rolling my eyes and thinking okay, MOM, everyone is not insecure. That’s ridiculous. I certainly realized that I was, on some level – but everyone else seemed fine. Sure of themselves. Confident. Everyone couldn’t possibly be as insecure as I felt.

Fast forward: I am a grown adult and working as a professional therapist. I’m in a session with a teenager who says that a friend offered a judgment about them, and they are grappling with it. They’re wondering: is this true about me? Is my friend right? In passing, they offer that the friend often compares the two of them – and it’s hard for my client at times when the friend is consistently drawing such comparison. I see something familiar in this comment.

I begin (with, for the record, an appropriate comparison for the situation):

Comparing ourselves to others is a hard part of being a person, and some people struggle with it more than others. I remember speaking with someone once who was so worried about when she would hit puberty. She was worried that it was taking her longer than the other girls, and meanwhile, other girls at school were talking about how they had already gotten their periods, and how she must be a late bloomer. She, of course, desperately wanted for whatever was happening to her to be normal – so the judgment from the other kids stung, and made her feel like maybe she wasn’t. But what we realized together was this: those girls were ALSO desperate to be normal! Calling her a late bloomer was their attempt at normalizing their own earlier development. Often, comparison has very little to do with your friend passing judgment on you, and much more to do with them making sense of their own growth and discovering who they are as a person. This doesn’t excuse people treating you with disrespect or being unkind or insensitive; but it can sometimes help if we understand that their uncertainty is showing, and it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you.

There was a pause. Teenager looked at me. Said: “Wow. You framed that in a way where if I told it to someone, they wouldn’t even be put off in the same way they would be if I’d just said they were insecure.”

Jim GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Me, 36, put in my place

Welp. My mother was right. Also how hilarious is it that this kid’s assessment could be read as very complimentary but can also be read as: “wow, you went way out of your way not to use the word insecure even though that was actually exactly what you were saying.”

And so, this: insecure is not a dirty word. I suppose I found a workaround to make sense of it within my own experience and use it in a way that is comfortable for me. But ultimately the sentiment is true, and was when I was 15 as well, had I been able to see it.

We’re all trying to make sense of our own experience. Insecurity plagues even the most secure among us, sometimes. The biggest challenge in handling that, I think, is this: try your very hardest not to project your own uncertainty onto other people. Or, probably more accurately, make sure you learn to differentiate and acknowledge when that uncertainty or, dare I say insecurity – is about you, not them. Tell them that, too. Don’t make them carry your insecurities on top of their own. That burden is enough as it is. I have hope that if we can break the cycle and talk about this stuff more openly, we can do better for ourselves and each other.

The more we are honest with one another, I would argue, the more secure we can all feel.

Your Body Is Good


I’d like to tell you a long story. Truly more than ever before, I genuinely hope you’ll take the time. I’ve written, re-written, and edited this thing to death and it’s time to say it out loud (so to speak). It’s both very personal and very much something I want to talk about all the live-long day, so I hope you’ll stick with me as I toe that line.

I don’t remember the exact impetus, but somewhere in early adolescence, I recall a very distinct feeling taking hold of my brain: my body isn’t good. To make a long story very short, this paved the way for a slow unraveling of my relationship to both food and my body, and a significant path of disordered eating and attempting to fix that by, in many ways, implementing more and better disordered eating (I’m looking at you, diets). Rinse/repeat for a couple of decades, then cut to: after years of trying, I was pregnant for the first time.

I loved being pregnant. I am one of those absolute a-holes who never felt sick and nested so hard with that second trimester energy that my whole house got a makeover. And for the first time in years, I loved my body. I had a reason, outside of myself, to take care of it and honor it. I was in complete awe of my expanding belly. I went to bed when I was tired. I ate and moved in a way that felt nourishing and satisfying, for no other purpose than to nourish and satisfy. It was a truly new experience for me.

Then, of course, I had a baby I had to feed. Once she was ready for solids, I realized that I didn’t really know how to do that, so I turned to my trusty friend Instagram for help. I found Feeding Littles and Kids Eat in Color, among others, and dove in. One day I read that it is good to let your child decide when they are done eating (regardless of my opinion), because it teaches them to trust their bodies instead of being told by an external source what/how much to eat. This stopped me in my tracks. After years of dieting and wishing my hunger away, ignoring my body, did I even have that skill? Was I really 35 years old and unable (unwilling?) to listen my body to tell me what it needs? And if I couldn’t do it for myself – how in the world was I ever going to teach my kids how to?

Through those trusted sources, I found dietitian Colleen Christensen of No Food Rules. I liked her posts for a few months before I decided on a whim to apply to join one of her coaching groups. When I spoke to her on the phone and told her my story, she said with cheerful confidence that she could help me. It makes me cry even in this moment to remember the hope that call brought me. Cautiously optimistic, I paid her my cash dollars and spent the next 3 months diving in.

She told me a lot of things I didn’t know before, and I’m paraphrasing here: That I could be at peace in the body I have, today. That my weight, any weight, was not a moral failing. That food wasn’t good or bad. That I could ditch the rules that had plagued me my whole life and live and eat without them. That I could be a healthy person without signing up for another diet. That everything I do does not have to be punctuated by anxiety about my body or the food that I will/won’t/should/shouldn’t consume. That I could trust my body. Bingo.

{This is an enormous oversimplification of her excellent program.
It is worth your time and money if any of this resonates with you.}

This concept is called Intuitive Eating. Let me start with what it isn’t: Throw caution to the wind and eat candy all day! There are no rules, that is true – but maybe there really is only one: honor your body. If something makes me sick or feel badly, then I try not to do that again. But not because I’m ashamed or because a scale indicated that I made a mistake – because of how my body responds and feels. I let those experiences teach me something, instead of sending me into a shame spiral. And because I’m not at odds with my body anymore, I actually care to listen. As Glennon Doyle said (about something else, but it fits here too), “Just information. Not a problem.”

Next, I curated my social media feeds to include diverse bodies, people who look like me, people who don’t look like me, fashion influencers in larger bodies, accounts that gave me practical advice about feeding my kids and myself, too. Changing what was in front of my face every day made for an almost instantaneous adjustment to my thoughts about bodies, including my own. I recognized all of the diets I’ve been on in my life for what they are: externalizing the process of feeding myself in a way that made it impossible for me to know how to eat without someone telling me how I should. I recognized the diet industry for what it is actually about: money. Very cool! Because of the standards of beauty we’ve allowed to become mainstream, people (me, before I knew better) will pay anything to get a good body – when in actuality they don’t want us to realize we already have one.

Now that I know this, it’s hard to believe it never occurred to me, but – bodies are different! They are meant to be! There is not one size that should fit all, or die trying. I mean obviously, yeah? If we all eat and drink and move the exact same way we will still have different bodies. I genuinely didn’t know that. If you didn’t either, take a minute and read it again.

A few things I want to be sure to say, clearly: maybe you have never experienced the things I have, in which case, you will have to trust me when I tell you that it is a terrible way to live. And if this is not your experience and it makes you uncomfortable, I beg you to look at why. To look at whether there is someone you love who may have a similar experience and if you have had anything to do with perpetuating it. That is a hard thing to take in, I get that. But then I ask that instead of giving into shame or fear or making it about you – that you just do better, from here on out. And before you hit me with “but, I only care about their health!” let me tell you something absolute: the size or shape of someone’s body doesn’t tell you anything about their health. Full stop. But if you need me to go one step further, I’m happy to: no one, no matter their body type, owes you their health, certainly not to be treated with your respect. Mind your business.

All of this was revolutionary to me. I want to spend the rest of my born days telling people what I know now. Sometimes I can hardly shut my eyes at night because if there is even just one person in my circle who doesn’t know this, who is still wasting their time and money and energy and memory fighting their body, it’s too many. There is freedom. I chased it for literal decades and I finally found it by letting go of the idea that I had to conform to some ambiguous standard that I just never quite seemed to reach, even when my body changed. The very best part is, I am no longer afraid of passing along my own confusion to my girls, or that they will perpetuate this for anyone else, either. I will be here telling them (+ their friends, my nieces and nephews, my friends, whoever wants to hear it) that their bodies are good, and they can trust them.

Everything isn’t perfect now, but that’s the point isn’t it? I got to let go of some idea that things would be perfect, if only I achieved x-y-z. I am still learning things about my body and finding balance that works for me. But I am not exaggerating when I say that I am free. My brain is no longer fogged by shame. I am alive and present and having more fun than I’ve allowed myself in years.

More to come I’m sure, but for now I’ll leave you with this quote that sums it up well for me:

For me, it is recognizing that the essence of who I am is not this body. I am having a human experience and this body is allowing me to have it. Life is really short – why would I waste my time worrying about things that don’t matter? Things on my death bed I won’t care about? I’m not going to think, “oh, in 1999 I wish I’d dieted a little harder.” But we will remember the memories we created, the times we shared with people, and the love that we shared.

Chrissy King on the Forever35 Podcast

Happy Sad Thanksgiving


It’s Thanksgiving Day in the weirdest year I’ve ever lived through. As with most things in 2020, it doesn’t look like I wanted it to. You’d think by now we’d be used to it, but alas, it’s a gut punch not to be with our people, celebrating like usual.

It’s a weird feeling, to be thankful and sad. To hold both, side by side, and try to make sense of it. Am I really thankful if I’m crying at the drop of a hat (or more accurately, a Coke commercial)? Can I really mean it when I say I’m grateful for our health and safety if I’m simultaneously pouting because I don’t get to celebrate in the manner to which I am accustomed?? Because I feel really and truly thankful for many things, I do. And I also feel justly and fully petulant about many others. Can I really, truly, justly and fully be both things at once?

Well, of course I can. Of course we all can. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my years as a person, it’s that we can feel more than one thing at a time. We can hold two truths side by side and experience them both fully – one does not negate the other. We can feel grief and joy – both big, complicated emotions – and both can absolutely be true, sometimes even in the same moment. We contain multitudes. Life is complicated. 2020 sucks a LOT, and also really lovely things happened that I would never want to undo. All of it is true at the very same time. It’s no different today than any other day, but today stings a little sharper.

I’ve recently started offering therapy services on a virtual platform (if not now, when?) and it’s been such a gift to me, a return to a passion I had almost forgotten I had. But if there’s one thing I’ve said more than any other in the past couple months in sessions, it’s this: as trite and overstated as it is, this time (2020) is completely outside the realm of our experience. We’ve never done this before. It is uniquely difficult and fully outside of our control. Where normally we have choices and know that time will bring comfort, relief – we’re looking at a timeline we can’t see. It’s easy to be hard on ourselves (and each other), thinking we should know better or do better or be better – that we should use this time, make the most of it, don’t worry, lots of other people have it worse than I do. I shouldn’t complain.

The reality is, many of us are isolated, struggling, worried (even in positions of immense privilege, fully acknowledging that many do have it worse). I cannot think of an experience as universal; that every counselor and every person in counseling is experiencing some degree of the same struggle. And so – my ultimate point – there has never been a better time to be kind to ourselves, and each other. To adjust our expectations (not lower; the distinction is important) to whatever is manageable. To make whatever choice is kindest to ourselves, with what little is in our control. To allow for difficult days. To allow for your multitudes, feel them deeply. Instead of meeting unproductive or unshowered days with shame or guilt, counting however many days it’s been since we wore hard pants – to meet whatever our survival looks like with pride: we are making it through. Hallelujah.

I made it through another day. I didn’t learn a trade or get a six-pack but I made hard choices and showed strength in a new way. I went for a walk because I knew I needed it/I took a nap because I knew I needed it. I was alone on Thanksgiving this year and it sucked. Like, a LOT. I let myself cry for what I was missing and I let myself be thankful for what I have. Because I contain multitudes.

It’s always true what they say, that everyone is fighting great battles we know nothing about – it still is, and then some. Be kind to yourself, be kind to each other. Be thankful and be sad. Grieve and find joy. Reach out for help and reach out to help. Repeat forever.

A Case for Paying Attention


It is easy, at this moment in time, to feel a certain degree of despair about *the state of things.* I have some general fatigue about, um, everything – and it’s become impossible not to cry often. A frequent fogging of my eyeballs has become a part of me in 2020.

Glennon Doyle said once that the reason she cries so often is, “For the same reason I laugh so often – because I’m paying attention.” So then, because everything is hard, sometimes I think… maybe I should just… stop paying attention? Maybe then I’d be less anxious and spend less of my evenings crying off and on? This is very appealing. An easy leap. A quick fix. Over and done. NOT MY PROBLEM.

But not paying attention is a privilege in itself, one that says: this doesn’t affect me, so I don’t have to look at it. And that ship has more than sailed, in 2020, along with my ability to keep mascara on for more than a couple of hours. I can’t “not be political” because the status quo doesn’t hurt me directly – I have to care. We have to care, if we ever want things to be better.

Yesterday, you may have seen, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend lost a baby mid-pregnancy. I am not one to get involved in celebrity things really ever, but this hit different. And after a day of watching vitriolic comments pile up among the sea of support, I put my own baby to bed, sat down on the couch, and set out to report that crap. I spent a good chunk of the evening going through and reporting comments (which removes them from view) with many others in the comments who were doing the same thing. I cannot imagine such a pain, and I cannot imagine feeling the ugliness in my heart to even think, let alone tell a person that their worst day, their worst tragedy, was their fault, deserved, karma, “what you get,” God’s plan, even (I read and reported each of those things at least once). I barely made a dent. But I removed a few of those words from their view – and when I commented as such, more than 800 people liked and almost 20 others commented they were doing the same. A little team of strangers in the comment section of a celebrity tragedy. A tiny revolution of people paying attention.

It is hard not to feel completely ineffectual, but I provided the above example because even in such a small way, I made my voice heard. I joined others and more still joined me, and it felt important. I can no longer stand by and ignore injustice because my kids, pictured here, need me to stay vigilant. To keep crying. To keep paying attention. So that one day, it is my fervent prayer, they won’t have to, as much. But when they do, they’ll know what it looks like. And they’ll know they are joining the ranks of strong, tender-hearted women throughout time whose hearts broke for all people in pain. Paying attention, crying, and fighting in whatever big and small ways they can.

Crying. Voting. Reporting the comments. Donating money, or time. Listening, hearing, and gracefully standing up for what we believe is right and for people who don’t look like us or live near us, but who we care about and cry for all the same.

Putting these words on the internet does not mean I’m about to start fighting about politics on the internet, just so that’s clear. That is a losing battle that as far as I can tell only serves to raise my blood pressure. But writing is what I need to do with my feelings, sometimes, and writing this was helpful. I’ll happily engage in real time with people I am in relationship with, and I will attempt to do it with grace.

If you, like me, are experiencing pay-attention-fatigue, know you’re not alone. Know that your tears are holy. And when you have reached your limit – you can pass the torch and rest. We will, collectively, press on and continue; resting and refueling and starting again when we’re ready, picking up the torch for those who did the same for us. Our very own tiny revolution of people paying attention.

Imagine a Tidier Nightstand, Among Other Things


I haven’t written in a minute. That isn’t entirely true – I’ve written a lot, actually, but it’s all in 3/4ths finished posts in my drafts folder. It’s not that I don’t have things to say. It’s more because there is so much to say that I can’t seem to fit it in one clean post. Or several clean posts. I staked a claim on this space to say my words, and I’m finding it hard to stand on your own and say things. I’ll get there, but probably not today.

So for this very moment, I’ll tell you that over the last several days I’ve been watching Getting Organized with The Home Edit on Netflix. I am a long time follower of The Home Edit on Instagram, and I feel like this show made them accessible to me in a whole new way. I have, since I started the show on Friday (hi, it’s Tuesday), reorganized eight drawers, all of my accessories, my closet, and the baby’s clothes. I watched the first episode of that show on Friday and mere hours later found myself at the Container Store. And I’m still working!

The thing of it is, I’m not naturally an organized person. My spaces can get messy very quickly if I’m not careful. The thing that struck me most as I watched THE’s approach was the systems. They talk a lot about creating systems that are going to work for you so that you can keep a space functional. It felt sort of revolutionary as I watched them work to think about all of the ways that my systems weren’t working, and that it was within my control to make them work again, or for the first time. I hadn’t thought to imagine that I could be a person with systems that work.

I’m realizing in my mid-thirties all of the ways that I get stuck: out of habit or, in some cases, out of a simple lack of imagination. I didn’t imagine that I could have a nightstand that wasn’t packed to the limits with clutter, I just kept shoving receipts in there. I was so used to the same jewelry organization system I’ve had since college that I didn’t realize that I hated it and wasn’t actually taking very good care of my stuff. I’m a grown woman and have literally had a Rubbermaid tub holding all of my shoes for the entire 6 years we’ve lived in this house. Watching this dumb organizational show inspired me to think outside my own boxes for a minute, and imagine something that worked better. It’s been a busy few days, and I’m loving the new order that has taken over my life/drawers.

I’m grateful for the challenge to my imagination, and for the ways that it’s opened my eyes to look beyond what is to what could be. These challenges to the status quo don’t have to be scary – sometimes it’s best to just take the leap and head to the proverbial Container Store. In another life (the last decade, anyway), I’d have watched something like this and felt some degree of shame at my own mess. I’m grateful for a perspective shift in the last couple years that has brought me to this: imagine something better, and then make it happen. Glennon Doyle says, “discontent is the nagging of the imagination.” Instead of turning a blind eye to my discontent, or letting it bore a hole in my self-worth, I decided to face it. I deemed myself worthy of imagining, then enacting, better systems. My nightstand is the most meaningless microcosm of what I’m actually alluding to here, but it’s served as an empowering reminder even so.

Anyway. This is not The Thing(s) I Want To Say, but it is something. Which for today is enough.

Sisters in the time of COVID

Mom Life

While I would never be so brazen as to assign any silver linings to the events of the last five months, I am willing to reflect on a few things I’m particularly grateful for during what I can only describe as the weirdest spring/summer ever. One of those things has been the time my girls got to spend with each other.

My children are 10 years apart, and as is my nature, I worried about that. I worried they’d grow up in entirely different childhoods, with little to no points of connection between them. (I was ten thousand percent wrong about all of this by the way, but that’s about what I’ve come to expect with worry.) When things started to get real with COVID in mid-March, my tween left school for Spring Break never to return to her beloved elementary school. The little one had been in her “school” for about a month when she ended up at home with us too. I work from home full time, and while it was a hot mess express while we finished the school year, we made it.

This summer, we cashed in on the age gap big time: my tween, with literally nothing else going on, accepted her first salaried position at the tender age of 11. She signed on for Big Sister Summer Camp, and kept the toddler entertained/alive while I worked. And while it was not perfect, the gift was this: from March to August, I got to watch my two girls bonding and growing up – albeit in totally different phases of childhood – becoming their own little selves, together.

The toddler learned more words in these 5 months than I ever thought possible. She knows all kinds of things (words, showtunes, TikTok trends) because “sissy” taught her. I’m sending her to school again this fall, knowing she can communicate her needs well, thanks to her time with her sister. And my big girl: she got very tall and became a little caretaker like I never expected. While it wasn’t the most fun summer ever, she got good at her job, and gained a kind of self-efficacy you can only get from getting good at a job. I’m sending her to school again this fall (middle school no less) with a totally new sense of confidence, thanks to her time with her sister. They bonded in a way I don’t think they will ever outgrow.

They won’t live in the same house forever.
But they’ll always remember the weird summer they spent growing up, together.

I’ve realized we carry a lot of expectations with us into adulthood. Whether it’s when we’ll get married or when we’ll have babies and how many we’ll have; and then we bring them all with us into our families. And things almost never go according to plan, in one way or another. While I grieved that my girls wouldn’t be in school together or share clothes, I’m watching how it all shook out and realizing that I wouldn’t trade any of it. All of the expectations that didn’t pan out were sad in their way, but if even one of them had worked out how I hoped at the time, we wouldn’t be here today, with exactly the family we have.

It wasn’t how we originally planned things, maybe, but it’s how things happened. And at that point, what choice do you have but to lean in? Watching these two sisters, our two girls, find each other in their own ways despite and because of their age difference is the gift that keeps on giving. My hope for them is this:

May they always find each other in the weird times,
and may no times in their lives be as weird as 2020 has been.

do better


This post is adapted from an Instagram story I did a couple of months ago after watching the following video:

@chescaleigh on Instagram

I still feel strongly about this, and it felt worth revisiting in written format. I’ve defaulted to Insta stories for a lot of things I maybe would have written before, so now that I have a space for that again, here we are.

First off: we ALL need to know how to apologize. It’s a hard thing to do, to put aside our pride and our particular attachment to being right, and to offer a genuine apology. It’s not unique to racism, but it’s very apropos to this moment. As you and I are joining this conversation, it’s important to be able to own your own biases and mistakes, and know how to offer an apology for harm done without doing more harm. It is possible, even with a good intention, to apologize in a way that completely invalidates that person’s experience, and focuses more on your intention being good than the harm that has been done. That is not a real apology.

I think there is a lot of temptation to hear this and say something about how we have to be “so sensitive” or so “politically correct” these days. And guess what – yes! That is true! It is now your (and my) job(s) to be sensitive and understand things that we have been a part of in the past, or are a part of now, that were/are harmful. To anyone. For any reason. Full stop.

Maya Angelou told us about this:

Do the best you can until you know better.
Then when you know better, do better.

I bet none of you would argue with that logic – it’s airtight, no doubt. AND YET.

We are living in do better days. She is talking to us, now. I’m writing as a white, cisgenger, heterosexual, Christian woman, from all of the privilege those descriptors hold. Thanks to the time I have spent listening to people outside my own cultural background – by reading their books and tuning into their Instagram lives and watching their shows, etc – I have learned a lot about what that means, for me and for them. I bet many of you have too, and I bet even if it’s just a little bit, you know better than you did a few months ago. The doing better part, though, feels hard for us to do. I get it; it is hard. But it’s not too hard. And we can’t let that stop us.

Everyone is sensitive to the things that matter to them – especially the things that threaten the emotional or physical safety of themselves or their loved ones. The things that I am sensitive about are not the same as the things you are. The things our Black friends, our LGBTQ+ friends, are telling us they are sensitive to are not the same as the things that I am, because I don’t have to be [enter: my privilege]. But now that I know – now that they have told me (or more accurately, now that I am listening) – I know better, and I can be sensitive to those things.

I take issue with the term “political correctness” used in this way, and I think we should call it what it is: asking for compassion and understanding for things that we don’t naturally understand or varies from our personal experience. Hearing that a joke you make would probably make a Black person uncomfortable should be enough to cause you to say, “oh gosh. I won’t make that joke anymore, even if there isn’t a Black person around.” Hearing that a person wants to be called by pronouns or a name that is different from the ones that you’re used to, and hearing that calling them by old names or pronouns is hurtful, damaging, and invalidating to them should be enough to convince you to learn a new name and replace old pronouns. If someone tells me that something I said or did hurt them or caused them pain, that is enough for me not to do it again. It does not mean I will never make a mistake again – but thankfully, I know how to apologize and since I will then know better, I can do better.

I take issue with the idea that any of this is too much work for us. We are hearing (loud and clear) that the culture we have created is more harmful to some human beings than others, and we have a responsibility now to stop doing the things that are causing the harm. Consider for a moment that it was your child, your spouse, you at risk, and then consider how you would hope the society you live in would respond. I also stand firm that this is what we are called to when we’re told to love our neighbor, and that the effort to do better honors God. So: take an extra minute in a text or email and make sure that you use the language you know is most appropriate. Stop when you catch yourself doing or saying something you recognize as harmful and course correct. Find another joke. Pay attention. Listen when someone tells you their experience (it’s theirs – they are right). Right your own wrongs and then speak up when you see others perpetrating harm.

For the record, I would go to bat on this for ANY OF YOU.

Anytime. Even if I hardly knew you and even if I didn’t like you very much, I would still think you deserve sensitivity and protection from harm where my privilege allows me to provide it (and even in the times when it doesn’t).

These are do better times. Let’s make Maya proud.

Finding Me in Motherhood


All I really ever wanted was to be a mom. If I had a vision board, it would have just been pictures of babies. It was always the goal. Get married, have kids, be the Mom. End of list.

Flash forward through my 20’s, longing for a home in the burbs and the aforementioned husband and children, reluctantly spending yet another evening singing karaoke and drinking Long Island iced teas, having no idea that in about 10 years I’d have everything I wanted and wish I could go back.

I adore my family. I don’t spend a lot of time longing for my carefree days, though I have my moments. Being a mom is, in a way almost nothing else in my life has ever been, everything I wanted it to be. It lived up to the hype (and the horror, don’t get me wrong – childbirth was a nightmare). Here I am, a house in the burbs, a husband who cooks, a burgeoning middle schooler who shares a ton of my interests and all of her thoughts and feelings, and the cutest toddler in the world who says “oh dear!” like a little old lady every time she drops something. I’m happy to be serving at the feet of two very cute if demanding mistresses.

Also – I’m very tired. I typically can’t remember when I washed my hair last. I don’t answer texts in a timely fashion (and not in a cool way), and I haven’t done karaoke in like a decade. I’ve spent the last ten years trying to get here, to exactly where I am. And as backwards as it sounds, getting what you want is actually sort of terrifying. I wanted to be a mom… and here I am. What on earth do I do now? How do I integrate the person I was, the person I spent years being, with this haggard person who barely knows what day it is?

Lest you start to worry about me, I’m honestly very happy. I could easily get lost in the monotony of motherhood – wake up, breakfast, school/work/laundry, pick up, dinner, bathtime, bedtime, repeat – and be a-ok. It’s comforting, and given my propensity for FOMO, I enjoy being present for every minute I can of my kids’ days. But I also know, as a woman, as a therapist, as an adult, a partner and friend – those parts of me need tending as well. There’ll come a breaking point where I’ll wish I’d sought out some alone time, a date with my husband, book club, what have you. I need that too, and I’ll be better off if I start putting it into action before that breaking point approaches.

And so, I made an exhaustive list, at least in that moment, of life-giving activities that would remind me of me, that would energize me to go home (not that I am currently going anywhere) to my lovely, talkative girls and my sweet, probably cooking husband, and bring them the very best me I could. And given my enhanced propensity to forget things, I scheduled the hell out of it. iPhone reminders, calendar invites, texts sent out right then lest I see an Instagram post and forget what I was doing for 7-12 business days. [This was all pre-COVID too, so I had to totally rethink it again and switch gears into Zoom book clubs and Marco Polo convos with friends and driveway dinner dates, but the sentiment remains.]

And where I thought maybe the scheduling would take some of the romance out of it all, I can tell you with certainty that it’s simply a necessity of a busy, family-filled-calendar life. Spontaneity is a walk to the park, not a night out with friends. It’s a stop at Starbucks… while you’re already in the grocery store. The rest requires explicit planning with calendar invites and also reminders to send calendar invites.

The good news is, between my newly scheduled calendar events, I am happily living my best life singing Disney songs to a toddler in the bathtub while checking my tween’s homework, and crashing hard into the couch every evening with my latest book, if I’m lucky. And literally the moment it is encouraged, I’m planning a karaoke night as a do-over for my quarantine birthday. Until then, at least I’m writing again.

It’s a small thing, yes. But it’s a me thing. And reminds me that even in motherhood, in the thick of it: I’m still me, and that is important too.

hello, it’s me


Hello friends. I decided to start writing again. I have no idea what this looks like yet, but I’m glad you’re here.

As far as I can tell at this moment, this is where I’ll be putting my words now. All of the old stuff still lives at i am a little church, what I have written over at Denver Moms is linked here, and since it’s been a minute, I’ve got a lot to say.

As I was reading over everything these last couple of days, I was struck by what is different and what is the same. I have lived a lot of life since the last time I wrote on my own site five years ago, and shifting into the mom-blog scene limited my subjects a bit as well. None of it’s bad, all of it is part of the story, but I felt ready now to write a new one. So here we are. Who knows what it will look like. I have two children and there’s a pandemic going on, so I make no promises.

Even though I’ve dropped i am a little church, the spirit remains. I was never sure about the legality of just slapping that at the top of my site, so my own name seemed safer. Originally I took that line from an ee cummings poem, and it is still a favorite of mine:

i am a little church(no great cathedral) – i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth’s own clumsily striving (finding and losing and laughing and crying)children whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope, and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature – i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring, i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence (welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)

I love so much about this poem, but mainly, I love how it highlights that life is not one thing, but all of them. Sun and rain. Sadness or joy; grief or gladness. Silence becomes singing. I’ve always felt comfortable in the grey, in the both, in the and. I kept finding & losing & laughing & crying because it has always felt like the most succinct way to sum things up. All of it is welcome here. I welcome humbly the light and proudly the darkness.

SO. Here we are. It’s 2020 and what is even happening at this point? I might as well write about it?

xo mg