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your best surprises of 2014

By Michelle Lehnardt

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A few years ago, in December, I was wrapping gifts and– with the melancholy that sometimes visits during the holidays– letting tears slip down my cheeks as I mourned things that hadn’t happened that year, carefully crafted plans come to naught (primarily, a baby). I continued to wrap and cry, grumbling a bit that I wasn’t getting the gift I really wanted, when I remembered the friend who’d handed me tickets to a Christmas concert the week before. One by one, I began thinking of all the good things in the past year that happened without my planning, without my goal-setting. Joys, successes, new friends, small victories…handed to me with no effort on my part, wrapped up beautifully and tied with a bow. I ripped a piece of wrapping paper, turned it over and wrote down everything that had surprised or delighted me in the previous months.

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Grief Wears Steel-Capped Boots

By Kellie Purcill

My fourteen year old firstborn sits in the hairdressers’ chair, all lanky legs and angles. His curls tumble to the floor – a boofy English Sheepdog turning sleek German Pinscher – and his face morphs as I watch. He’s half smiling, the little mouth twitch I know means he’s well pleased. “Reckon your Dad will …

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