The white letters flashed but Hazel did not step off the curb. Her feet held fast. She lifted her mug of coffee to her lips, staring at the sign.


Other pedestrians did. They hustled over the white paint of the crosswalk. One caught Hazel’s elbow with his swinging arm, then threw an apology over his shoulder. The contact sent a shot of hot coffee through the cup’s lid, nipping like a flame against the roof of her mouth. The pain jostled Hazel out of her trance.

She stepped to her left, exiting the stream of on-foot commuters. The sign was already flashing it’s contrary orange message and Hazel swung her gaze away. She narrowed her eyes, locking in on the glass door of the building across the road. Her destination. They faced off – Hazel and that door – while cars passed between and pedestrians refilled the sidewalk squares beside her.

Hazel knew who would win. She’d been in this battle before, more than once. The door always won.


Hazel saw the word in her peripheral. She ceded the stare down but did not obey the sign. This time, she closed her eyes.

With the darkness came amplified noise. Footsteps, conversations, tires against pavement, and the rattles and squeaks of vehicles. She searched for one sound, just one that could take her elsewhere and summon light into the dark. It was a technique she learned last year, when the panic was at its peak. She tried to remember the last time she’d needed to use it. A month? Two months? The question was a distraction, so Hazel returned to the sounds.

She found it. A swishing, as soft as a cotton dress moved by a breeze. The blank darkness of her vision began to break. Like a photo developing, the image spread. The sound became part of the whole.

Hazel stood, not on a city curb, but in a field. The wild grass reached her thighs. She stretched her fingers out to brush them across the tips of the grass. The space continued to fill. Cornflowers dotted the field, brilliant blue under golden light.

An ache crept into her bones. Hazel found it both painful and comforting. She longed to pick a handful of the flowers, to touch and hold them with more than her imagination. She’d clutch them as she skipped home. Mama would accept them with the grace of a queen receiving precious jewels.

“Thank you, my little Hazelnut. They are as beautiful as you.”

How many times had it gone that way?

The field began to fade. The sounds of morning in the city rose with a crescendo. Before it was fully gone, while the blue flowers still speckled her vision, Hazel breathed in the air of that field – of home, and twilight, and security. It filled her up.

She opened her eyes.


And she did.


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If you are interested, please comment here or send me a direct message. Happy Advent to you all!


New Angles and Hairdos

This morning I didn’t feel like spending any time on my hair. There were other things needing my attention. Plus, each time I brushed it, I noticed more gray strands and I really didn’t want to think about that. So, I put my hair up and moved on. Then my daughter came downstairs. She spotted me and immediately declared that she wanted her hair to look like mine.

IMG_20180919_090525_720.jpgIt was a simple enough request, but the contrast between what she saw and what I saw was striking. What I held in low esteem was the same thing she aspired to gain.

Yes, it was merely a hairstyle in this case, but the same reality crops up in all sorts of scenarios, between all sorts of people. That part of ourselves we would give anything to change, how often is that precisely what others wish they could possess? I think it happens more often than we could possibly realize.

Maybe instead of trying to eliminate or replace what is naturally a part of you, you could choose to enhance that part. Polish it up. Use it to serve others, as well as yourself. Ponder why it was part of God’s design of you in the first place. And if someone expresses a wish that they could be like you in this regard, don’t dismiss their aspiration. Dismiss your gut instinct to talk them out of it. Then, consider how that part of you might be a blessing and a strength if you could just find a new angle from which to view it.

Like the angle of a sleepy-eyed daughter looking up at her mother, with love and nothing else shaping her view.




Night by Night

Last night I cut nearly all my hair off (or at least, I paid someone to cut nearly all my hair off). I haven’t worn it this short since high school, or maybe freshman year of college. That’s 10 years ago! After a decade of hairstyles reaching my shoulders, if not longer, it was awfully strange to have nothing to grab at the back of my head while I washed my hair in the shower this morning. It felt like I was washing someone else’s hair. But it’s mine, and I am actually loving the new, easy-doesn’t-begin-to-describe-it cut and all the compliments it’s garnered thus far. It’s fun to keep track of the adjectives people choose when they notice the drastic change I made.

Tomorrow night I shall roll my packed suitcase out the door and hit the road. I’ll only drive as far as my parents’s house in the U.P. but early the next morning my mom and I are scheduled to depart for Traverse City, MI. The Traverse City region happens to be one of my favorite places to visit, with its bays, beaches, sand dunes, cherry orchards and boutique shops. It is also the setting for The Mercy Hour. Mom and I will do our best to strike a balance between chilling out and researching the book’s setting during our four days there. Prediction: I will be inclined to stay.

Of course the approaching journey means tonight is to be dedicated to filling that suitcase and readying to leave as soon as I finish work tomorrow. The little more than a day standing between me and my road trip just feels extra. Expendible. Such days can be annoying if I’m caught up in the spirit of anticipation, but with a tweaked attitude they can instead become a worthy challenge. Maybe it’s yet another sign that I need to learn how to chill, but I enjoy taking what feels like an expendible day and changing it into the opposite: a day of accomplisments and enjoyment. The expendible day is tailor made for all those little tasks I have put off, for crossing lines off the to-do list, for praying for all those people who asked for my prayers, for watching that movie I have wanted to watch, for calling that friend I meant to call sooner, for reading a book, for driving over to the adoration chapel, and for (of course) writing. I don’t know that I’ve ever met an expendible day I didn’t change into something else by the time it ended.


All By Myself

What can a girl do with a whole weekend by herself, no plans, no people? Finish writing the first two chapters of her new novel, that’s what. When my weekend began, I had a measley two pages written. Come Sunday afternoon, two full chapters are ready to be typed up. That’s what happens when I spend over four hours in a quiet coffeehouse on a Saturday and attend early Sunday Mass so I have the whole morning and early afternoon to continue writing. Add in a houseful of clean windows, three loads of laundry done, two Brewers games watched, groceries bought and a third of a book read, and you have the sort of weekend I need to be having more regularly. Allow me a moment of happy pride in what was, dare I say, a weekend designed just for me… … … Thanks.



With its start-of-summer feeling and easy, laid back mood, it was a weekend to put a smile on my face. Those weekends don’t come along as often as they used to so I soaked in the minutes and hours as thoroughly as I could. Tailgating and rooting for the Brewers at Miller Park on Saturday, then strolling around Madison on Sunday before seeing Jason Mraz in concert… talk about an abundance of fun!

It may be due to the distincly Mraz-ish atmosphere of the concert, but I am feeling lighthearted today. No, I know it wasn’t only the charm of Mr. A to Z’s musical talent. The unburdened mood is also due to my brief time spent in prayer before Mass yesterday. The Lord reminded me of the treasure of His love and the relief of entrusting my oft mistaken heart to Him. Then throughout the day, He dropped hints. Hints of sweetness, goodness and delight: the 2nd reading during Mass that was a passage from my favorite chapters in the Bible; the warmest sunshine of the year with not a single interfering cloud; blooms at the botanical gardens- pink, white, red, yellow, blue, purple and scents straight from heaven; curling my toes into plush new grass; the entirely unexpected find at the random used bookstore (who knew the brilliantly quirky British film, “Cold Comfort Farm,” was originally a novel?); a chance to begin reading that find atop a rooftop terrace overlooking Lake Monona; then the enjoyment of the music with my constant companion of enjoyment, Jessica. God does like to see us smiling.


Two Minute Blog

I have two minutes before I need to close up the office and head home. On tonight’s docket: planting the daffodils that are blooming in the flimsy plastic holders they came in at the store; gym; more laundry (lately it never ends); writing chapter one of The Mercy Hour (I hope). Someday I’ll get around to watching the “Chuck” season finale that was on Monday night.

The Brewers swept their series against Pittsburgh! Which puts them over the .500 mark for the season thus far. Happy about that! Also happy to know I’ll see Braden Looper pitch on Saturday. Really didn’t want it to be Suppan or Parra.

The sky that was bright and blue all day has suddenly clouded up. I’m not sure what’s up with that. Even if it rains I am going to have to plant those flowers. They can’t wait any longer.

Okay, I’m out of here. Homeward, I depart!