Charlottesville: Loving Hard When It’s Hard

Charlottesville love grace

241 years ago, our founders created a country based on the radical view that liberty was not doled out by a self-aggrandizing monarch but was an inalienable right. The heirs of that spirit of liberty fought a Civil War to protect it, to declare it sacrosanct.

80 years later, another generation volunteered in droves to safeguard that same spirit for men and women across the world that they had never met. They knew, perhaps better than anyone in history, that it wasn’t just the fate of the war that hinged on their utter selflessness. It was the fate of humanity. Read more...

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5 Things I Learned This Summer

I have always had a love hate relationship with summer. The heat and humidity remind me of all the things we cannot do because of our blisters.

But I love the freedom from schedules and commitments that affords me endless time with my boys. I view that as sacrosanct. So I tend not to write much in the summer. And as much as our summer has been what it always is – a lazy conglomeration of quiet mornings, big adventures, and total spontaneity – there were plenty of very important things I learned. Read more...

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Fall Risk

Fall Risk hospital love hard

The nurse wouldn’t even let me through the doors of pre-op until she had slapped a bright yellow bracelet on my arm proclaiming FALL RISK. Honestly, I didn’t know whether to be insulted or impressed that she knew me so well. I went with the latter.

If there are two better words in the English language to describe me, I haven’t yet found them.

I am, of course, a literal fall risk, even when I’m not on anesthesia. I am clumsy and uncoordinated. I fall down stairs. I fall off my bike. I trip on chair legs, sidewalks, even air. I prefer to think of it as a talent rather than a liability. At any given time my body is adorned with more bruises than jewelry and, usually, I have no idea where they came from. Read more...

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Love, Loss, and Time

Love loss time memory

When you lose someone, everyone is quick to tell you, in soft voices laden with reassurance, that you will forget. That time anesthetizes the sharp pains that disrupt your sleep and interrupt the most mundane moments of your day.

And they’re absolutely right.

But what they don’t tell you is that the forgetting hurts as much as the initial loss. That in the forgetting, you lose another piece of that which you have already lost.

That the resilience that propelled you through the gasping breaths of panic and the heaving sobs of loneliness is a double-edged sword. Read more...

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What Do You Wear To Get The Results of a Biopsy? Random Questions I Never Thought I’d Ask…

What exactly is the appropriate dress code for getting the results of a biopsy?

In case you’re wondering, Miss Manners has not yet expounded on the topic, which, frankly, surprised me considering she once deemed “business casual” to be less of a dress code and more of an accounting practice accessorized by handcuffs.

Look. I understand that this question seems ridiculously inane, even for someone who is regularly consulted on matters of traditional, albeit arcane, fashion etiquette. Read more...

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My Voice

My voice has always gotten me into trouble.

Feel free to ask my mother, who has spent 40 years telling me to lower my voice in quiet places like, well, everywhere.

Or ask my former teachers, who had no choice but to give me an S- or N on my report card in “Cooperation and Consideration” because I used my voice, well, all the time.

Or my exes (all of whom are still close friends), who will tell you that I do indeed say everything I feel the exact moment I feel it. Even if the timing is, well, inopportune. Read more...

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My Break Up With Social Media (And What I Learned In the Process)

why i broke up with social media detox and what i learned

It’s been over two months since I broke up with social media.

I wish I could say it was intentional, that it was part of some noble plan to be more mindful.

But it wasn’t. It was apathy.

Honestly, it was a lot like the end of every other mediocre relationship you stay in too long out of habit. Until one day, you wake up and you simply don’t have the energy to care anymore.

Like all relationships, the love affair with social media started out so promisingly.

The idea of being able to stay connected to the daily lives of friends and family regardless of geographical distance was revolutionary, much like email had been 10 years earlier. Read more...

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The Long Ride Home

Long ride home uva basketball wahoowa ncaa tournament basketball season

It’s 150 miles from here to Charlottesville.

I’ve done it often enough to know it takes two hours and 35 minutes to get from my front door to my seat in John Paul Jones Arena.  Five hours round-trip, give or take, depending on traffic and how many times I need to stop for coffee.

There are times when it seems longer than that — when we are mired in traffic, when we are racing against the clock to make it into our seats before tip-off, or on the long ride home after a late game on a Monday night.

Don’t worry — I am keenly aware it sounds crazy to have season tickets to a basketball team that plays 150 miles away and adds 3,000 miles to my odometer each year. Read more...

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This is What An Invisible Disease Looks Like

mom boys disability epidermolysis bullosa

This is what an invisible disease looks like.

It looks like nothing at all.

There are thousands of them and they run the gamut from rare to common, physical to mental, life-threatening to debilitating. But they all have one thing in common – they leave no noticeable mark. To the outside world, we all look healthy.

Mine, and my children’s, is called epidermolysis bullosa, a rare genetic disease whose hallmark is debilitating blistering of the skin in response to heat, friction, injury or rubbing. I was encouraged to write something about it today for Rare Disease Day but, truthfully, I didn’t know what to share. Read more...

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A Promise To My Second Born

It is trite now to offer up written apologies to latter born children. To catalogue all the ways in which we have relaxed the rules the second (or third or fourth) time around. To humorously list the words they’ve learned too early, the movies they’ve seen too soon, the crappy food they’ve eaten.

In fact most of these articles aren’t apologies at all but thinly veiled parental pats on the back for being so nonchalant, so easy going.

Here’s the truth if we’re willing to admit it. The innocence of our latter born children is all too often sacrificed on the altar of their older siblings. It just is. Read more...

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Be the Change You March For

All politics is local, my dad was fond of saying. I’ve always subscribed to that theory in a metaphorical way.

Yes, change is wrought from inside great marbled halls. But my friends it is not born there.

It is not dreamed up on the spot by a well-meaning legislator who has a cartoon light bulb suddenly appear over his head in the midst of routine parliamentary procedure.

No. Change is born in the mind of a 4 year old, unencumbered by what he has been taught to believe, to make fun of, to be afraid of. Read more...

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Why I Hate New Years…

Judging by social media over the last few days, 2016 was apparently the worst year in all of humanity. The rash of posts and tweets heralding New Year’s Eve as the end of all the ills that have befallen the world left me a little befuddled (which, admittedly, is not hard to do).

This symbolic adherence to New Years as the closing of one door and the opening of another has always struck me as a little contrived.

Maybe it’s because I have always marked the passing of time by the school year, not the calendar year. Read more...

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Believing in the Magic of Christmas: The Truth About Santa

It happened the other night. An off-the-cuff remark: “I know you’re really the Elf mom.” Then a pause and, more tentatively, “I know you’re Santa.”

He’s made those casual comments a few times before. But his voice – which is always so resolute and certain when he is making a pronouncement about the leading rusher in the NFL or the way to reduce fractions – shakes a little when he tests the waters of doubt.

I know, in the way that you always know your child, that what he wants is for me to tell him he is wrong. Dead wrong. That the Tooth Fairy flies into his room and Santa Claus shimmies down the chimney and I am not the Elf. I know this because if he didn’t, he would simply ask me point blank, the way he does with everything else. No, what he wants me to do is tell him magic is real. Read more...

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Be The Inkeeper Who Opens The Door

Be the Innkeeper Who Opens The Door. Mary and Joseph. Be the Good. Christmas Kindness. All Year Long. LuckyOrangePants.com
One year ago tonight, I took the boys to dinner. As Jack was making his salad, an elderly gentleman with a walker was trying with some effort to open the door.

Without my prompting, the boys rushed to open the door for him. He seemed genuinely touched and told me what gentlemen they were.

For some reason, I could not stop glancing over at the man as he waited for his takeout order at a nearby table. Perhaps it was his eyes which bespoke a quiet, gentle loneliness. I know that look.

I have felt it. Read more...

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How To Love Hard When It’s Hard

This is my week perfectly captured in one picture.
Bikes falling over love hard
It was one of those weeks that was derailed by too many deadlines and not enough time, high expectations followed by staggering disappointments, the pressure to do the things that were supposed to bring me joy and the realization that everything was making me unhappy. It was unfortunately also a week where my insomnia kicked into high gear, leaving me unable to rationally cope with all of those things.

Trying to salvage some good from the week, I went to buy 2 bikes for our Angel Tree angels. Just when I started to feel a little bit lighter, I accidentally knocked down a row of 20 bikes. Read more...

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