The Kindness of Ravens

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists…it is real…it is possible…it’s yours.” – Ayn Rand Ravens circled overhead as I rested on a tree stump outside […]

Needing a Prescription to Lead a “Normal” Life

Sitting at the kitchen island finishing homework, she catches me off guard with her concern. “Are you okay, Mom?” I ignore the question at first, hoping she doesn’t see me hide the white paper bag of antidepressants my husband brought home from the grocery store pharmacy on the top shelf of the pantry. But she persists. “Mom, seriously, what’s wrong?” She studies my flat affect more than the algebra textbook open in front of her. […]

Everyone Needs Compassion

“They’re not that different from us,” I whisper to my middle child, the girl on my lap whose ponytail’s tickling my nose. But she’s not so sure, so I introduce her to Lena, who likes art and wears a bright beaded necklace she handcrafted herself, and Ruth, who loves her tabby cat and can’t wait for Christmas. The band starts to play, and soon everyone is on their feet. But my girl, she sits close to […]

A Walk Among Wildflowers

We head out this morning, a day my daughter and I are supposed to spend together, in a hurry. I’m late for my hair appointment, and we don’t have time for that chai tea I promised her. She doesn’t complain or insist, though I wouldn’t blame her if she did; instead she reads quietly in the backseat while I speed toward the salon. It’s raining today, and I secretly balk at the idea of spending […]

How to Turn Limbs into Legacy

He came from Sweden in 1911 to homestead on the Hi-Line, that semiarid stretch of open prairie just south of the Canadian border and east of the Rockies that the U.S. government and the Great Northern Railway promised was free and plentiful. Sailing on a ship named Victoria through Liverpool, then Halifax, then down the St. Lawrence River to the port of Chicago, he worked on an uncle’s ranch in North Dakota for two years […]

We Can Do Better

Someone unfriended me on Facebook this morning. I’m not surprised. Our friendship ended in real time months ago; today she just made it official, like it’s the electronic equivalent of slamming the door in my face.  I can handle this cruel and final gesture, and all the emotional havoc this relationship has wreaked on me recently, but I hate how garbage like this trickles down to our daughters, how their dysfunctional friendships are often a reflection of our own. And as I’ve […]

Tuesdays with Rainey: A Mother’s Manifesto on How to Be a Friend

We always have that hour on Tuesdays to talk. When we wind our way home through the Lycoming valley and around the Bald Eagle mountains, past the Amish farms and the place with all the John Deere tractors, this is our chance to connect. Our topic this week, like most weeks, is friendship. She’s navigating a new problem, and like the GPS suctioned to my front windshield, I try to point her in the right direction. “She always asks me what I’m learning […]