When We Rise

I struggled for many years to learn to implement and maintain positive habits and routines in my life. In fact, for a long time I struggled to not have routines in my life – I thought I was a non-routine person, and to a degree that is true. However, over the years I discovered a core belief/truth for myself, and that is that a strong system allows for maximum spontaneity and creativity in my life. 

When all of the maintenance details of life are managed regularly, as part of a routine, you have so much more space for the pleasures of life, big and small. When I make intentional space in my day for ritual, for spiritual practice and self-connection, I am more grounded, more at ease, and better equipped to face the challenges in life (of which there are many) with joy, and a playful spirit. 

With all of the big changes, and intensely busy schedule, that have come this year, all of my systems fell apart. My positive, intentional habits went out the window as I slipped into the familiarity of survival mode. That is to say, barely surviving mode. 

Last year I was working with my friend Binky Bell on a journal design. The metaphoric language we were using was all tied up in the sea, in the reality many women face – drowning in all that life and motherhood throw at us. While working on that journal, I had the thought that if you’re really in the midst of a storm, it doesn’t make sense to keep your head towards the pouring rain, trying to gasp for air in a sky filled with choatic water. Out of curiosity, I looked up what you’re actually supposed to do in such a situation – and I was correct. I read about something called a survival float – you give up swimming, you turn away from the sky and towards the darkness below. You keep your head down, sheltered by your arm, and you come up just long enough to fill your lungs. 

This is an apt metaphor for life. Often times when we are struggling, we are the ones causing the waves with our own actions, habits, and panic. We are kicking desperately, splashing water in our faces, preventing ourselves from seeing what options we have. When we are the storm, finding calm, floating face up towards the light, and connecting to our sense and logic to find a way to swim toward something solid makes sense. When the storm is external, when the onslaught is out of our control – that is when we must simply stay alive. Things may fall apart, but you can’t put the pieces back together if you don’t make it through. Let them fall apart. 

I’ve been in this place for months, just pulling myself up to taste enough joy & hope to keep myself alive. Things have fallen apart, and fallen apart again in new ways. But I’ve survived. 

Now, not only is the storm calming – but I think that for the first time in my life, we are truly almost to solid ground. Sacred, promised ground. I look around me at the pieces of my life, and I see that what has survived with me is my dream life, all of the things I have ever wanted are right here. It doesn’t look like what I had wanted, of course – it’s a bit of a wreck. There’s a lot of work to do. But we have all of the pieces to build something beautiful, when we get to shore. 

Now that the sky is clearing, now that the storm has lost force, I see the space and the need to bring my systems, routines, and rituals back into place – to put my life, inner and outer, in order. I know from experience that it’s not something that happens overnight, and that can be frustrating. One small habit, one change, one tiny step in the right direction – is how we get back on track. 

I am taking stock, considering my priorities, and considering how to implement or be guided by the powerful lessons I have learned through my recent experiences. I am feeling hopeful, and capable. 

I know that, as a person who is multi-passionate, who needs a spark to take action, and needs space for spontaneous pursuits of joy, I need that built into my daily life. When I am “out of routine” I lapse into the poor habit of escapism, which for me equates to staying up way too late, and struggling to rise in the morning, and doing the bare minimum to get through my days. For so long I thought I was a night owl, but in reality the night feels like relief, when the world expects nothing of me and the only “should” I am avoiding is sleep. However, when I am in routine, I am an early riser, quick to meet the day with excitement and motivation. 

My “systems” are simple, designed to make life easy. The framework I created, after a lot of experimentation, is something I call bookending. I begin my day with ritual – I do tarot, journal, spend time drawing, read something delicious, and take care of my daily self-care and the quick morning chores that keep life in motion. I work early, before the kids rise, and wrap up as they are eating breakfast and doing their school work. I try to keep appointments and client meetings in this timeframe. Then, after the obligations are done, we shift into a desire-led day. What are we curious about? What are we drawn to? Do we want to have an adventure, create something, play a crazy game? Some days we may just want to hang out and play minecraft, or slink off to our own corners to dig into our individual projects. This slow paced way of life delights me.

Then, as the sun sinks towards evening, I shift again. Here, I make space for evening appointments and obligations, hanging out with friends, have dinner, and complete the wrap up activities for the day, cleaning up the messes, resetting the kitchen. Callie has her bedtime routine, and then everyone finds their own way to wind down for the day. 

In routine, I use Sundays for meal planning, weekly preparations, and tackling the deep cleaning of one or two “zones” of the house/life, ala Flylady. 

This is the ideal, this is perfect. Life rarely is perfect – sometimes I have mid-day appointments, sometimes I oversleep and my day doesn’t begin as I like, sometimes kids are grumpy or hyper on days when I had something else in mind. Sometimes PMS makes me a non-functioning monster. The framework is not about perfection, it’s about having a foundation – I know what my ideal life looks like, and I have a system in place to restore that order when things do go off kilter. 

So now, it’s time to do what I know how to do – and restore the foundations of my life. It’s time to begin building something that can last, growing more intentionally, cultivating healthier soul and stronger roots, where for the last year I was simply throwing seeds everywhere and hoping something would grow. It is time for nurturing, nourishing, and balance. 

It is time. 


In coming months, I will be working to get involved with the more “behind the scenes” planning of Hastings. I don’t know if I will be accepted in any of the things I’m exploring. This year I was just winging it, going balls to the walls in my chaotic, terrified way. I learned a lot, failed a lot, and still do not feel like we are really a part of the community – and I took a heavy financial hit from all that I was doing.

I have worked in collaboration with city leadership everywhere I have lived, but never fully stepped into that world. It’s scary, but it also feels like the only logical step forward. I will be writing a mission statement for MYSELF, to keep me focused and grounded on what my goals are, and why. I have no idea how money will sort itself out – it’s hard to engage in community when you can’t afford basic living expenses, much less extras.

This year, in the midst of thrusting myself face first into community engagement, I realized that I am very obviously autistic. It has been completely devastating to my sense of identity, and really amplified the struggles I’ve always had with any sense of belonging, or fitting in the world.

I’m weird, and it shows – and while I’ve been able to tell myself for years that I am just quirky, and embrace it, this realization came with the knowledge that all of my “quirk” is symptomatic/diagnostic, and it forced me to get honest about the fact that all my “quirk” makes existing, connecting, and functioning in this world really, really difficult. Also owning the fact that all of the fighting myself I’ve done – to be different, to be normal, to do better – is fighting my inherent nature, – and it also doesn’t mean I won’t keep working to change those things. Because in this most of all, I am who I am – I am committed to improvement and growth. Finding a space between acceptance and growth, where “self-improvement” is an act of self-love, and not an act of self-deprecation, is my goal going forward.

The worst part has been realizing that the things I like most about myself, and have nurtured, are also seen as diagnostic, as negatives/disruptive within society. I’ve felt less secure in who I am, less at ease in my skin, and in the world. Since all of my events wrapped up at the end of summer, I’ve taken a lot of time to process and recover, and I have been feeling a lot better in all areas, but finances make it hard to step back into the world. I can’t, however, let it stop me completely from moving forward, even if I have no idea how it will all shake out. I think for this one, it’s just a matter of getting over it – I’ve always known I’m disruptive, I’ve always embraced it. The reasons I am the way I am don’t really matter – I’ve always been unconventional, out-of-the-box, and it’s been one of the things I liked best about myself. I don’t know why realizing it is a “symptom” would hurt so deeply, or change how I perceive that quality.

So, as always – here we go – afraid, and doing it anyway.

Here or There, with Raven

Just before the world changed in the face of coronavirus, I had given myself permission to explore more freely, without consideration of income potential. During that time, I found myself on Rev.com, where (to my absolute and overwhelming delight) I was transcribing an episode of Minnesota Bound’s Made for the Outdoors.

Be still, heart, I’m trying to think words.

If you grew up in Minnesota, with no cable but a big love for the great outdoors – you know Ron Schara and Raven. That man’s cadence makes my entire soul swell with emotion. There’s never just one thing for me – and that’s true here, as well. My mom put books in my chubby toddler hands, she brought me to college and the clinics, and gave me music, and all of Video Update’s best middle section indie crap. I am well honed.

There’s no single thing, certainly. Still, there at the top of the pile is Ron, in waders, and sun-baked. He made me love a story – about anything, which truly is at the root of my everything. Have you ever cried over a non-fiction account of a species of fish? Do you not weep at the lifecycle of a mayfly? If not, you have no idea what you’re missing. To be so moved by the painfully beautiful, in the most – so so most – mundane parts of the world. Or so they seem. This is what the voice can do – it can bring the world into sharp focus, in ways we never thought to look. My heart beats to this tempo, it is precisely this that made me a wanderer, a romantic, a storyteller, an artist.

While I was giddly transcribing the episode, I was entertaining daydreams of someday working for Ron Schara Productions – not as a faceless, nameless transcriptionist behind the (perfect, ok, perfect) captions of S5E5, but as a real life somethin’ or other.

But that’s a silly dream – I don’t need to work with the man himself to be inspired by him and to act on that inspiration. I can’t sleep tonight – that happens after sleeping off the sick for days on end. I’m bursting with excitement for the coming spring, and for all of the many projects that I’m excited to pick up again, now that the sun will start inching back into my life again. I can’t wait to lose myself somewhere, in waders, smiling, sun-baked – and telling stories.

Hastings Halloween

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We had SO much fun this Halloween. Not just on the day, but putting together costumes was also a blast. Rylan and Callie decided to match, and the fox head (Ry’s favorite animal) happened after, as a result of our reading His Dark Materials – so Rylan went from a wizard to being Callie’s fox daemon/familiar LOL. Shawn found this mask and decided he wanted to be an 80s slasher film villain – if you haven’t seen the ridiculous video we made, it’s on Instagram and hilarious to us.

I desperately need to get behind the camera again. I have missed it SO much. Whenever I go thrifting, I see so many things I would love to shoot with a model, but I don’t have anyone I can call up these days to go be weird with. So I just pass them by. Hopefully in the coming months I will be able to build up more of a community and WILL have those friendships that allow for shenanigans and art. I’ve been talking for years about wanting to do an art co-op (like…a decade of years) and I’m finally just going to START, just show up in the studio and invite others to join us. It’s very scary – anyway, onward to the magics.


Callie ran to hug the Grinch like she was running into the welcoming arms of her long lost bestie. Which is. I mean. Reasonable LOL. This kid is so delightfully strange, though we seem to have a steady track record of weirdos in this family.

I love living in a small town, so much. I love knowing people as we walk down the streets, bumping into neighbors, and friends, and strangers with potential. I love that I asked the owner at Vintage Inspirations if we could borrow a broom, and she was right on board – that was better than the broom itself, which was also super freakin cool. I just feel lucky and happy and in love with life.

Tiffany’s costume was simple and amazing, so I had to make her stand in bushes. The compositions are terrible and yet she looks powerful AF lol and I had to mess with the edits a bit because they were just neat.

And then, the chaos of us:

Allowing for Bliss

Yesterday I was feeling off – and I was tempted to call it a loss, curl up and watch Bones.

Instead, I decided to get in the car, regardless of how I was feeling, and drive to somewhere. I didn’t really care where. I quickly felt better, and we started following curiosity. We made many stops, all unplanned, as things caught our eye – and an amazing day unfolded to meet us.

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

We didn’t spend much time here, because I promised Ry there would be no nature on this adventure – he’s a bit burned out after a very full summer. However, we passed by this park we visited once last year and decided to swing in to peek at the beach. On the way in we spotted a fox, Ry’s favorite animal, so that was pretty wonderful. We also strolled over to the bridge to peek at a lily pad blanketed pond, where a blue heron stood among the huge, curling leaves. The beach is so peaceful, and I’m looking forward to going back.

Nicollet Commons Park

Jack has been asking to go to Hot Topic for a while, so we set our sights (and GPS) on Burnsville center. On the way they kids spotted what looked like a little water play area down a hill, and then up the block I saw a store (Ficus & Fig) that called my name – so we pulled around the block to the parking garage and decided to walk around. The little water area turned out to be the amazing Nicollet Commons, which I’ve seen mentioned on Facebook and didn’t seem very impressive – but it was. We had so much fun playing here, and I love that they had quiet music filling the air – we all wish we had something like this closer to us and plan on going back soon. We walked from there up to the “mall” (which felt like a modern, small town main street, similar to some buildings in Stillwater) and it was such a beautiful building. The store is your standard issue gift shop, filled with too many beautiful things that I want and do not need – but I still love wandering though them, taking it all in- and love that my kids always enjoy themselves.

Burnsville Center

Burnsville Center has been dying for a long time – and it always feels eerie, dirty, and depressing. It was no different this time, but I was relaxed and in no rush to get anywhere – so I took the time to take photos (more over on the very dorky liminal spaces project page) and enjoy the vibes that exist only in half-living spaces. We had so much fun, a great meal at Lucky 13, which was full of vintage snapshots. I was super sad to see that F.Y.E. was closed, however, since it is the only mall store I actually like. We’ve enjoyed many fun times in the big arcade at Burnsville Center, as well, and it was very strange to see it empty, still illuminated by black lights.

Finding Delight Anywhere

On the way home we had to stop for gas and drinks – and spotted this train car with Raven graffitied on the side. That’s Jack’s favorite animal (apparently this is a bit of a theme) – so of course I had to force him to stand awkwardly in front of it. I’ll spare him the sharing of those – teenagers lol. But then I asked Callie if she wanted to whip out our old friend Reagan, who has been long-neglected. The results cracked me up.

These are my favorite kind of days – nothing planned, magic everywhere. In addition to all of these adventures – it just seemed that everyone we met had such a wonderful energy to them, I chatted with so many people in passing, and just felt happy. The world felt light.

Life’s a Beach

For the past few weeks, we’ve headed to Wisconsin to spend time along the river. Last summer we didn’t have our own vehicle, which made me reluctant to drive anywhere not essential. More than that, I was just generally depressed – I’m sure covid played a role, but I was mostly just tired of my own bullshit.

This summer has been absolutely amazing, just immersing myself in life, spending time soaking up the sun and my kids in all of their chaos and joy.

One thing I haven’t been doing enough of is taking photos, even with my phone. I can honestly say I don’t regret it, I’ve been so caught up in the moment that I simply forget. I am going to try to do better, however, and am putting systems in place to support that desire.

We’ve been doing a lot of rock collecting, learning about the rivers and creeks in our favorite places.

Just blissed out.


I didn’t live in my body for the first 33 years. That sounds crazy – but it’s true and something I didn’t even realize until I recognized that I WAS in my body, for the first time. The disconnect was deep, oftentimes flat out dissociation. I didn’t understand my body, couldn’t care for my body.

There was exactly one way I could be in my body – using food to cause myself pain. I didn’t know I was doing that, either. My body was otherwise completely foreign. I ran away to my head in childbirth. I ran away to my head when I hurt. Even during sex, I was pretty much entirely in my head, worrying, preparing, bracing myself. Every single thing that took place with my body was something I hid from, disconnected from. The disconnect was profound, in ways that as a teenager led to bullying and the deepening of shame. 

 A couple of weeks ago, I had to run errands and driving alone down the road gave me some quiet time to explore a new space that was forming in me. A space left by the slow extraction of some toxic roots. At first, I was just looking at objectively at this space, but then the more I stared into it, the more upset and afraid I became. My brain kicked into anxiety mode – and then this:

I’m thirsty, I’ll get a diet coke at McDonalds. I deserve it.
I’ve been fasting and doing really well for a couple of days, I’ll get fries, too. I deserve it. 

Brain is friendly, amirite? Always looking out.

French fries hurt me, I know this. Somehow, they are still regarded as a treat. So I got some and they tasted so bad, just greasy and filmy. Then suddenly my brain…was… honest, man. It revealed itself. Eat them. You deserve this. I shoveled more into my mouth. So gross. I could feel them sliding to my stomach, instant pain, instant brain fog. You deserve this.  

Over the past six months, I have learned to step into pain, to see it as a waymarker towards the things that need healing. I have learned how to sit with it and allow it to rise and do its work. Acknowledge, Assess, Heal, Embrace, Release. Whatever work is necessary with each bit of hurt. But it’s a practice and this void in me is the biggest thing I’ve ever confronted. 

In this moment, I saw, for the first time, how I used food to force myself out of my head and into my body, when the pain of cycling thoughts, bad stories, and heartbreaking truths was too much to bear. It is still shame and pain, but it is physical and tangible and easily discounted. It gives me a chance to find places to set the blame for the pain. My brain gets busy on a new and familiar story that I don’t need to worry about – autopilot self-loathing, autopilot promises to eat better, autopilot shit talk about my inability to stick to anything. Woo relief. 

I think what was different this time is that I had actually been living in my body for a while. I’m learning to talk to dis bitch. I’m learning to give a shit about it, to recognize it as not only myself, but JUST AS IMPORTANT as my mind and my heartpart and spirit. That you can’t be just a spirit ignoring the vessel. That the vessel itself is magical and gifted and (I still shudder to say, maybe even) beautiful. That as you evolve, you have to fucking literally embody your identity. You have to BE IT. I don’t mean you have to change to match – I mean you have to look in the mirror and recognize it, and fucking adore it. You have to choose to listen up and honor what it whispers back in wisdom, desire, or truth.

It’s not perfected. It’s a practice. We are always growing and that is the magic of being alive. 

And I guess that’s the story of how french fries helped me level up?