Sometimes it’s hard to talk about how we lost my mom. It can be difficult drudging up the past and reliving certain moments in my head. But I’d never wish a degenerative disease on another person and I’d never wish Parkinson’s (of any nature) on another person, or a family. And definitely not a specialized form with Lewy bodies or multiple system atrophy.

I want to remember the good moments and the tough moments. Because they have all been a part of the journey. But I also work to help advance research and support for patients and families who went through or are going through what my mom and my family did over the last 13 years. I know there is a strong likelihood one of my sisters or I will have Parkinson’s. I know it will continue through or lineage. But I know the time and money I put in now will make all the difference in helping there be more awareness and support of life saving treatments and medicines and therapies and support groups and resources. So I give. And where I once was an adamant supporter of the Indiana Parkinson’s Association, and where I will still walk their 5k this April, some of my focus has changed. So this year I will put my donations toward the Michael J. Fox foundation. In memory of my mom, Sue Sedgwick. And if you feel so inclined I’d love for you to do the same. Tomorrow is World Parkinson’s Awareness Day. Please give.

Choose You

I’ve made some big decisions recently. About who I want to be and how I want to show up in the world. I’m trying to experience as much of life as possible with the people I love the most. I’m going back to the things I love at my core: creating and community. And so I’m leaning into the idea of offering retreats. and I’m starting a side gig of creating and printing and selling vinyl decals (think for water bottles, computers, cars, etc.) and custom apparel (really no bulk orders over 100 pieces at this point)—website and Etsy forthcoming. And I’ve been reinspired to actually start putting pen to paper on my memoir/poetry compilation on grief and Parkinson’s and mother/daughter relationships.

It’s a lot at points. And it’s not enough at others. But these things fuel my soul, and make me excited, and give me hope on actually providing something back to the world. And being as much of a positive force as I can. One step at a time. One day at a time. One gift at a time. Thank you for being a part of this journey. More is coming and you can find it here when it does.

Life forever invites us to grow into new challenges, new adventures, new opportunities to learn and to serve.

The Growing Edge, Carrie Newcomer and Parker Palmer

Reading Rainbow

I’ve challenged myself in 2021 and 2022 to read more. Mostly because I fell back in love with reading during the pandemic. And it’s something I wanted to keep up. In 2020 I tried to get to 50 books and didn’t quite make it. I was determined in 2021 to get there, and surpassed my goal and made it to 60! This year I stepped up my game and said, hey I can probably do 60 again. And I just finished my 70th book in 2022!! Granted, many of these were listened to on my 30 minute commute to/from Ritter. But hey, that still counts!

I went back through my Goodreads and ranked what I’ve read this year. One page in order of my most enjoyed books (ranked). One page of my least enjoyed books (ranked). And two pages of everything else that falls in the middle (unranked). If you want more details of why I enjoyed something, let me know. It was a great year of reading and I’m hopeful to get to 50 books in 2023. Send me your recommendations!

Most enjoyed books! In order top to bottom, left to right.
Least enjoyed books (#70 and very least in the lower right corner, #55 in the upper left).

A Collection

I’d be nothing without the intergenerational relationships I was afforded growing up. This time of year I always think of the DeLongs and their contribution. They gave so much to the church where I grew up and their legacy lives on through their collection of créches that decorate the sanctuary of my home church during Advent.

Is also have fond memories of Mr. DeLong participating in the 12th Night party. A photo captured of him in a tall bicolored cloth hat and blowing a huge bubble in some chewing gum. Serious exterior but childlike wonder inside.

And I was always in awe of Mrs. DeLong from the point I found out her first name was Mozelle. It was sophisticated. And of a certain era. And reminded me of my own middle name and made me feel all the more special.

A Letter to My Mom

Dear Mamant:

First and foremost, happy birthday. I wish I could be celebrating you with fresh flowers and silly songs. But we will celebrate and remember in our own way. Not a day goes by that you aren’t on my mind in small or big ways.

I feel like you deserve a life update. So much has changed this calendar year and maybe I haven’t done a good job of “including” you in that. This year I started a new job in an Elementary School. I don’t always feel equipped but I know you’d tell me it will get easier day by day. The staff is wonderful and inclusive. I feel completely myself and not like I’m hiding behind a facade like my last two jobs. It is so nice to feel landed for the foreseeable future. And like I am making a difference each day. Like Dad has always said, look out for the little people: the less than in whatever way that appears. Be there for the overlooked and see them. I think that is truly what my job is all about. And thank goodness for my perception and intuition.

I’ve met a boy (I will never stop calling him a boy regardless of our age). It’s kind of surreal, mama. And my biggest heartsickness about it is that he’ll never get to meet you. Yes, I’ve shared stories and brought you to life for his mind’s eye but it isn’t the same. He won’t hear your laughter or be goofy with you. He won’t be able to have serious talks with you about his Grandfather’s growing up in Congo. Though I don’t know for sure about the concept of your being , I like to believe you somehow have a sense of him: that you know how much he loves me and how he makes me happy, that Shelly likes him (and what a huge deal that is), that he’s goofy and serious and listens to me even when I’m being ridiculous. Somehow I think you’d be the least surprised that I’m the one who has ended up with someone so similar to Dad. I dunno, I just feel like you knew it was an eventuality.

I miss you. Each day. And this month, and the days near your birthday make my heart yearn the most. What I wouldn’t give for just an afternoon of cooking, crossword puzzles, laughter, and creating. I made that boy some curtains yesterday and all I could think was “how apropos and what a way to celebrate you”. And though I miss you dearly I’m forever thankful for your lessons that still keep providing. I wouldn’t be me without you, even now. I love you.

They Fought for This

Voting has followed me closely throughout the years. From hearing grandma talk about working the polls and organizing the Dems in TH. To “living” at the LWV office with mom throughout my toddler years. To trekking to “the mansion” and casting my first ballot there while Greg capture it all on cell phone photography.

I’ve never questioned the importance of casting a vote. I’ve never questioned being an Informed Voter. Though I haven’t always made it to cast my vote in every election that I could, I still have at my core that my voice matters. Probably even more than I know.

It seems to me that some of my own rights have been under undue attack recently. And it seems more than unfair. It really burns me up that anyone thinks they should have a right to dictate the state of my body. It really burns me up that some professions that give their all, and have remained on the front lines throughout the pandemic should be under attack as well, or not given their due. but here we are. And I may not be cut out for politics, but I am cut out to raise my voice, I am cut out to stand my ground, I am cut out to question and seek and do better every step forward I take. And I can only hope the same for you.

Dancing in the Wind

My perception of the divine is expansive, it’s bigger than any space that could be filled by a person. And so I call it “universe”. It’s never ending, larger than anything I can imagine, fills every single space ever. Yes, I believe in the divine—a creator that plays a role in the day to day. But I don’t picture it as human form or personality. That’s too limiting. I picture it as a force. A gusting wind that coaxes us but doesn’t force us completely. That part in genesis when G-d breathes into dust and Adam and Eve come to life—that is the best way I know to describe it. The divine is breath. It is living. It is moving. It is all around. But we are still in control. And just like all else in life, my idea of the divine is fluid and always changing. As I grow, so too does the divine I come in contact with, the divine I see in the world.

Good Things Come

…to those who wait. Or so they say. And maybe it’s just my time (cue Goonies “it’s our time down here” quote). If you’ve been following along this journey for any amount of time you know that I’ve ridden the dating roller coaster along the tracks for a while now. Lots of twist and turns and being thrown for a loop. It’s been great at points. And grueling at others.

About three months ago I made a promise to myself that my previous relationship was in the last (once and for all). I somehow pulled myself out of the trance and admitted how toxic and one sided it had always been. And even though I’d sworn it off before, I knew it was beyond time to make this time stick. Around the same time I was graduating, accepting a new job in my ideal school district, and starting to consider a new home purchase. Things were falling into place it seemed. But my love life was still pretty stagnant. For the millionth time I put myself back on apps. I haven’t really enjoyed the swipe culture but I also know that meeting someone organically wasn’t currently in my cards. But companionship was something I knew I needed to my core. I had to keep doing the work and putting myself out there if I wanted anything to come about.

And then something happened. I met this person who was so different than anyone I’d ever dated before. It was eye opening to the fact that there were people like me: slightly jaded but hopeful, intelligent, goofy, considerate, diligent, open, and committed to growth (individually and as a partnership). It’s weird knowing that something could exist in the world and never being able to find it. And then one day you do find it and realize how lucky you are.

Don’t get me wrong: no one is perfect. People have quirks and things they need to learn. And everyone makes mistakes or does things they regret. But I am thankful to have connected with someone who recognizes their own flaws, is working to better themselves, seeks to learn, remains curious, and stays honest and open with me. It’s way more than I could ask for; and at times feels like more than I deserve. Though there haven’t been “bumps” exactly, there have been difficult conversations, and forcing ourselves to show up as our most vulnerable selves. There’s also been endless laughter and goofiness (I mean have you met me?), insightful conversation, and seeing each other.

I’m not sure where this journey will go. There are lots of unknowns. But things feel positive, there is little to no pressure, and we just continue to move at a speed of “one day at a time”. I’m unbelievably happy. And for that, I am so grateful. Sometimes you can’t even put into words what something (or someone) means to you. But shit, I’ll spend every day trying. The people around you deserve to know you love them, and how much you love them.

This. This post right here. Proof of the growth that has happened in the last 3-5 years. I wouldn’t be here, or be this version of me without everything I’ve been through. I wouldn’t be able to appreciate my relationship the same way if something had been different. But thank G-d for all the slogging I’ve done. I’d say it’s been worth it.

No. 1 Ladies’ Detective

My mom loved to read. [Really my whole family has always loved reading. Somehow for a while this penchant skipped me. (But boy do I love it now).] Her favorite author I’d say was Alexander McCall Smith. He has several different series (mostly mystery). But mom was most taken with The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. try as I might, I couldn’t ever really get into them. The style of writing fell a little flat for me. But I tried and tried for it to be another connection point for us. As I was thinking tonight about what this blog would be, I realized I wanted a quote (who’s surprised? No one).

Be content with who you are and where you are, and do whatever you can do to bring to others such contentment, and joy, and understanding that you have managed to find yourself.

If anything encapsulates what the last month or two have been—this quote does. For the first time in forever a long time I am feeling very (almost completely) content. I feel happy and seen and important and knowledgeable and like I have a voice that matters. And it feels really damn good.

If you see me over the course of the next week, I’ll just be soaking up the last few bits of summer. Incredibly in awe of this life I get to live and choose each day.

Get Off the Train

Everything about being on the dating train gets me excited. Meeting new people. The potential of something long term. Being exposed to new things. Seeing the city in a new way.

But at the same time much about the dating train annoys/depletes me. Having the same mundane conversations. Ghosting. Perpetual talking without meeting up. Me having to initiate much of the time.

All I really want is honesty and open communication. People who are genuine. That’s it. Most everything else is negotiable or discussable (not a word). Don’t want a LTR, cool, say so. Not feeling the vibe, been there, say so. All this “easier to just disappear” bullshit is just that, bullshit.

And so here is the cycle of wondering whether online dating is worth it or not. Jury’s still out on that one.