To walk through

Late last Spring, I read a paragraph that sent me tumbling into despair.

Leaning into that despair was the best thing I’ve ever done,

a fact most profoundly clear this last week.

Late one Spring afternoon, I was curled up in bed reading a book on self acceptance. I reached a chapter on trauma and excitedly dug in: Great! Here’s where the healing will really start happening!

Paragraph by paragraph as I read, I felt something unpleasant building within me, until at last I read one that released a landslide. I felt myself tumbling away from my body,
falling,
falling,
falling.

My body knew that feeling. I’d felt it time and time and time again in the face of violence I alternately witnessed and endured as poverty, abuse, and predation throughout my childhood.

I’d just never had a name for it before. Thanks to the pages before The Paragraph, though, I had a name for it. The fact it had a name meant it was real, and the fact it was both real and named meant I could not simply run from it anymore: Continue reading “To walk through”

Today I’ll live today

When I was about ten weeks pregnant with my older son, I started bleeding one day at work. My then manager rushed me to the nearest emergency room, from which I called my now husband, Anthony.

At the time, I was working in California’s Orange County, the county just south of Los Angeles County. Anthony was working on the sitcom The Big Bang Theory much further north, deep into Los Angeles county. His drive to reach me would be long and traffic-heavy, meaning I’d maybe be alone facing what could end up being some devastating news.

I remember calling one of my sisters while I waited, and then another dear friend. I remember sobbing on the phone. I remember Anthony suddenly being there, and the doctor eventually delivering the news: there was a fifty-fifty chance my pregnancy would last the next 24 hours. Continue reading “Today I’ll live today”

Resting & reading

Neither my husband nor I are feeling well. This means we’re prioritizing rest and, as much as possible, relaxation, even more emphatically than we would in less tumultuous times.

Our kids are thrilled. With both parents down, their screen time goes up!

(It’s not unlimited. They’re currently playing Star Wars together. Play and movement are also essential to health!)

For me, downtime means one thing: reading!

Unfortunately, with too many excellent books on hand, I’m not sure where to really dig in. Contenders are: Continue reading “Resting & reading”

Ground rules for our new normal

Late last Friday morning, my husband and I received notice that our kids’ school would be closed for “at least” the next two weeks. We’d known it was coming and prepared for we figured would probably end up being more than two weeks at home.

One of our key preparations had to do with laying down hoe ground rules. As best as we could imagine it, what rules could we set to make these weeks less stressful and more bearable for us all?

The conversation itself made me grateful for a recommendation my primary care provider made middle of last year. She told me to check out Brené Brown’s Netflix special. I won’t say much about that here, having already written several posts describing how the special and then Brown’s books transformed me. What I will say is that one takeaway from all my Brown-reading was this:

Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.

Before reading Brown, I’d misunderstood Boundaries as Really Big Things to be set in Really Big Situations. Thanks to read Brown, I understood that boundaries are best set small and early, which inspired this ground-rules discussion. Continue reading “Ground rules for our new normal”

Our Son

My kids do not enjoy bedtime. This is putting it lightly.

My husband and I have a handful of tools we use on our kids at bedtime only. One of the  bedtime-only tools I use after especially exhausting days is Reading My Books: “Oh, you’re not ready for your own stories? Cool! I’ll read to you from mine!”

Over the last couple of years, my kids have heard Neil Postman, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Naomi Klein, Rebecca Solnit, and a handful of other non-kidlit authors. Typically, my kids don’t have to listen to any author too long before hollering, “Stop! Stop! Please read one of our books!”

Something funny happened a couple nights ago, though. Continue reading “Our Son”

In The Forecast: Lots of Reading

Last month, I wrote about my kids and I getting Los Angeles Public Library cards. We were all enthusiastic then, but we’re even more enthusiastic now. 

The kids’ school and our favorite physical world destinations–including, as of the day before yesterday, the LAPL!–will be closed for at least the next two weeks. While there will be chores and some schoolwork to do here, we’ll also have a lot more time to read. 

Many of the books we’ll read here will come off of our own shelves. Others will come from the library via Overdrive, an app that grants LAPL patrons access to a couple million electronic resources–books and magazines and videos, oh my!*

A smaller handful of books will be paper books my kids and I checked out from our LAPL branch library.

On our last trip to the library, my five-year-old checked out books 2-4 of Kallie George’s Heartwood Hotel series. After ignoring the first book, half-finished, for months, he recently fell head over heels for the tiny critters who fill this tree-forest hotel in the woods. 

This morning, I snuggled up with him and read him the last chapter ofThe Greatest Gift (Heartwood Hotel #2). I said a quiet thanks that, due to the library closure, we’ll have this book on hand to read and reread for an extra few weeks.

Even as my littler one and I read that book, my older son was off reading My Hero Academia Vol. 22. Having never heard of this manga just two or three weeks ago, he’s since plowed through almost all of them the way he’d eat pizza: with gusto, not to mention the keenest of focus! 

I’d recently contemplated checking out some new manga for him. I wish I had! And yet, there’s plenty of manga available on Overdrive. If my son has a will to find more, there’s certainly a way!

* Residents of the City of L.A. can check out LAPL electronic resources even without a physical card. You can find more info here. If you’re outside the City of L.A. and have an LAPL library card, you can use your physical card to register for access. 

Outside that zone, please check your own local library for their electronic resources! Alternatively, you can search Overdrive for your library, or libraries; I’ve added more than one via the app.

As I pointed out to a family member in rural Oregon a few weeks back, even their library has tons of online resources available to check out. Yours might, too!

Four decades of libraries

My siblings and I practically grew up at our local library. Apart from having so many more books than even we bibliovores could ever hope to read, it had heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. What wasn’t to love?!

I grew up loving–and arguably surviving thanks to–both books and libraries. It was thus inevitable that my own children would visit their local library frequently, and each have their own local library cards.

We all enjoy our local library, and how we can have books delivered from one branch to another within a day or two.

Recently, we got another delightful library surprise: Continue reading “Four decades of libraries”