We won. It’s just a conference game and it’s early in the season. But a W is a W. I’m the starting kicker on the varsity football team. And I’m the only girl.
As the guys make their way to the locker room to hit up the showers, I walk over to the fence beyond the track to chat. As the crowd files out of the stadium, I see a few familiar faces and hear a few familiar voices.
“Nice game, Sam!” yelled Mrs. Jones.
“Keep it up, Sam!” said Mr. Ward.
“That’a baby, Angel Kisses!” cheered Martha. Ever since our kindergarten meet-cute, Martha’s called me Angel or Angel Kisses or Angel K.
“Nicely done, kiddo!” my Dad said as he walked up to the fence. “3 extra points tonight, you’re going on 7/7 for the season and counting!”
“Thanks! Thank you! We did alright, we have a lot of work to do to be ready for East Hills. But we’re getting there.”
“See you at home, kiddo?” my Dad asked.
“Mr. Haskins, there’s a dance tonight. Do you mind if Sam and I hang here for a little while and then head over?” asked Martha. Dad looked at Martha and then at me.
Smiling, I nodded. I could see the look of concern rush over my dad’s face. He liked Martha but she was going through a recent wild streak and he, being a member of the Cheboygan public safety force, knew about all of her recent escapades.
“OK,” he said. “But you both better be home by 11. Got it?”
“Got it!” laughed Martha. “Got it, Dad,” I said.
It’s lonely in the locker room after a game when you’re the only girl on the team. I don’t like the feeling. It’s like when you go into the basement and turn around to go back up and you feel like there’s something or someone watching you. Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t, but you double time it out of there just to be sure.
That’s how I am after a game. I hurry. A quick shower, a quick towel off. Jeans and a t-shirt. Hair up in a ponytail. A little bit of mascara. Lace up my converse sneakers. Organize my dirty clothes and straighten out my game pads. Done. From the moment I step into the locker room to the moment I walk out, it’s 20 minutes, tops.
Martha usually waits for me outside. She doesn’t like to come into the locker room. She says it’s “dirty and dingy and she’s not a fan of sweat smells.” She may not be wearing turquoise peplum and hot pink jellies anymore, but she’s always put together, perfumed, makeup and picture ready.
I take a final look at myself in the mirror. My freckles are as pronounced as ever. Patches of caramel spots splatter my nose and cheeks. My eyelashes look long. The mascara helps bring out my eyes. That’s what Martha says. I wipe back a few wisps of hair behind my ears. My shoulders shrug, almost involuntarily. I see this happen. I think I do this as sort of a ‘good enough’ or ‘it is what it is’ gesture. I’m telling myself “this is it, this is what you are.” I’ve tried not to, but the gesture is as much a part of me as my angel kisses. Every time I see myself shrug I shudder inside. It bugs me. I bug myself.
I can hear the music thumping through the heavy air as soon as I push open the back door of the locker room. Martha looks up from the glowing light of her phone.
“Ready?” she said.
“Yeah, let’s go.”
I don’t normally lie to my dad. And I don’t like to. I saw how difficult it was for him to give the go ahead to even attend the dance tonight. I’m sure I’d completely break his confidence if he knew I wasn’t at the dance. But he can’t know. He wouldn’t understand.
I don’t think my parents can tell or see a difference in me when I lie. But I see it. I look almost smug. There’s a constant smirk on my lips, a slight up-tick of my eyebrows. My cheeks even look flushed some of the time. I look childish. Lying is childish, so I guess that’s fitting.
Although, we only learn to lie because we are lied to. Santa Claus, wait 30 minutes to get in the pool after a meal, don’t go outside in the cold with wet hair … we’re conditioned to be outright liars. And, I’m no exception to the rule. I lie. And I’m pretty damn good at it. But just because I can get away with murder, in theory of course, doesn’t mean I feel immune to the injustice of some of my choices. I feel pretty shitty, usually.
We roll the windows down in Martha’s Mini Cooper and turn right out of the parking lot toward Cheboygan. The dance music fades as we pull away and zoom out of view.
“Can I get a light,” Martha asks with one hand on the steering wheel and the other holding a cigarette.
“You really should quit that you know,” I say as I thumb the lighter and the glow of the flame illuminates our faces. Martha takes a quick puff through the cigarette. I watch the smoke escape out of her nostrils and flip the lighter shut.
“I’ll quit,” she says. “But I just started. So I’ll quit someday, but not today.”
I don’t smoke. I tried it once. I hated how I looked with that white stick poking out of my mouth. It looked even worse resting between my fingers, like a rotten stem of flower. Something beautiful and natural, spoiled.
“Do you want an ice cream from Drost’s? Or maybe some fudge? Or one of those pecan clusters with dark chocolate and caramel?” I ask.
“Not really. It’s late and we really should just head right there,” Martha says. “But I thought you might say that …” she put her cigarette in her steering hand, kneed the wheel and reached around the back of her seat.
“Here,” she said. She handed me a small white box with a gold elastic bow. A Drost’s gloss sticker centered on the top. “After playing with those boys toe to toe, Angel, you deserve some chocolate.” I opened the box to find a pecan turtle, coconut bark, and a handful of dark mint meltaways. “Mmmmm!” I say as I bite into the coconut bark.
There we were, she with a cigarette, rotting her insides, her teeth, her skin and her hair and me with a box of chocolate, gnawing away, wide-eyed and both excited and nervous. This was our ritual and yet, the night felt off.
Sometimes I just sit and think. I consider. I ponder. I wonder about the world around me and how it came to be. Better yet, how it came to be the way that it is right in the very moment I sit thinking. This, and so many other thoughts nag at my brain.
Martha bought the chocolate for me because she knows I enjoy it. Where does true enjoyment come from?
All the while in my thoughts, Martha is smoking. That smoke. I can see it swirling inside the car even if she is leaning to exhale out the window. Every curl of darkened air reminds me of death. Those childish Disney movies with animated ghosts, the same sort of floating discolored air as exhaled cigarette smoke. Are smokers really sucking in and blowing out our ancestors? I mean, people die and they get buried. They get buried in the ground or their ashes are thrown to the wind, eventually settling onto the ground. And, tobacco plants grow out of the ground. So, I guess there might be some truth to that. Like all of the food we eat and liquids we drink, life and death are intertwined. We can’t escape death, but we can’t live a life without it, either.
It started when I was five. This feeling that I was always watching myself as I lived.
Walking, talking, running, playing, eating, drinking, sleeping. I see myself doing it all. I’m in the moment, I’m there in reality, and yet, I am also somewhere else. I’m down the road, across the table, or in the next room. I see every conversation, every decision, every moment of beauty, of loss, of happiness, and of fear.
I see life happen. I can’t predict it, but I see it. From my eyes, in my mind, I look out at the world. In addition to what I see happening out there, I see myself seeing it all. I see me, I see my life from afar but also in the moment, up close, personal, and intimate. It’s an odd sensation. A feeling of anxiety and relaxation at once. Watching my life unfold as it unfolds before me.
Maybe not, I guess I never talked about it before now. I assumed everyone experienced life this way. But now, after all of this, I don’t think other people see life the way I do. They do not experience each moment within a view finder, blocking out all in their peripheral. No. They don’t see life this way, not like me … likely no one ever will.
“Go Sam, Go!” Martha called out shaking a cowbell in one hand and a blue and gold fringe pompom in the other.
I hear her. I always hear her. Everyone in the small stadium hears her. She’s my biggest fan, cheerleader, supporter, advocate and best friend. I like her because she’s blunt. She tells it like it is. Or at least, like she sees it.
Martha and I met during kindergarten. She in a sparkly turquoise peplum dress and hot pink jellies (those plastic shoes all kids wore in the 90s) and me in a navy and yellow sailor dress topped off with a massive yellow hair bow and scuffed up little black flats.
The first week of school was a breeze. I got a turn petting the classroom hamster, played in the sensory area, and memorized my address and my phone number. Martha had a much harder time. She was quiet and reserved. Her eyes shot around the room, never landing on anything for too long.
I noticed her one morning after Mrs. Brown finished reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Actually, I noticed her jellies. As the youngest of eight in a devout Catholic family, jellies weren’t in my fashion present or near future. My scuffed up black flats were hand-me-downs three years in the making.
“I like your jellies,” I said to Martha as we rearranged our reading rugs for show and tell. She looked at me, her dark brown eyes just staring. She tilted her head to the side and her blonde curls bobbed a bit.
That’s when it happened. I realized I was watching myself while I was standing next to Martha. Even as a kid, I could see us looking at one another from an outside place. From my own eyes, I saw us interacting. I didn’t know what was happening then, I just knew it was interesting.
“I like your freckles.”
“Thanks,” I said. “My grandma says they are angel kisses.”
“That’s nice. You must know a lot of angels.”
“Nah, it’s just something my Grandma says I think.” I did have a lot of freckles, and I still do. My face is covered in little caramel spots that grow in intensity during the sunny Michigan summers. I have them mainly on my face though, none of that full body speckling of the arms and legs like some people.
We arranged our rugs so Martha and I were next to one another. Our eyes met, Martha smiled and so did I. Two girls sitting next to one another on individual reading rugs. It was then that our fate and our friendship was sealed.
the voices, do you hear that sound?
The glorious chorus from above.
The sky, atop the ground.
Heaven and earth. Each planet. Every star.
The sound of life.
Gather ‘round the loop,
that never-ending pulse.
One circle inside another,
The sound of life going on, moving on, the sound of living.
Constantly in motion,
Isn’t it glorious, this sound?
That’s life we hear.
Life ringing near.
Life continuously lost and found, lost and found.
The circle ‘round.
And round, and round, and round.
Only a chair can hold you like a cuddle; sitting, rocking, relaxing, spooning in a manufactured embrace.
Holding, feeling, loving and wanting; needing that cushion for comfort but more importantly, stability. To feel weightless yet weighted. To know something is there to catch and carry you. Feeling something physical in time and space letting you know you are real.
My happiness is leaning back into the shape of what sitting is meant for.
Relaxing in the moment, feeling the world echo with the heartbeat of progress.
Proceeding new with conditioning and experiences from years and moments past.
The present is now. Breathe in. Breathe out. Eyes closed, heart rested, chest growing–concave, convex.
Sitting. Living. Being.
There was something she wanted to say,
But she wasn’t sure how to say it in the right way.
Should she be open and honest, even if it hurts?
Should she keep it all inside, until out it bursts?
Should she whisper it only, a secret for few?
Should she yell at the top of her lungs, me too?
Should she be worried about what everyone will say?
Should she even care what they say, anyway?
Will her words cut others down to size?
Will what she must tell them make them want to shield their eyes?
Should she question her own thoughts, before she speaks her truth?
Should she let it all out, this pain of her youth?
Should her words come in lashes like a whip to the skin?
Should she be cautious and careful, and not let others in?
Should she say what’s on her mind, even if it’s sad?
Should she even bother when others will think it’s she who’s been bad?
I say speak it woman, speak it out loud.
Let your truth be known, feel free to remove the shroud.
If it’s happened to you, lady, it’ll happen once more.
Let the words spill out of your mouth and onto the floor.
Kick them around, stomp them with all your might.
Shout them across the spaces that block out the light.
Own your truth and speak it with pride.
It’s them that need protection now, you needn’t hide.
If there’s something you want to say, say it, and make it your pact.
The only way forward is when you’re not looking back.
Written by Katelyn S. Herrygers ~ June 13, 2018
Whether you’re a coffee drinker or not, a good mug is a must have. There’s something relaxing and almost nostalgic about wrapping your hands around a warm mug and looping your fingers through the handle. All of your senses are in use. You close your eyes to breathe in the warmth and the fragrance, you open your eyes to see puffs of steam rising into the morning air, your hands feel like they’re swaddled in pure down, and with each sip you notice the receding liquid line. For a few brief moments it’s you and that mug of choice preparing to take on the day.
There you have it! My picks for The Top 5 Mugs You Can Buy … well, four you can buy, one that someone buys for you.
It’s true! You might be one of those people that can pickup new skills or ideas like you’ve known about them all along, but there are some things that simply don’t come naturally to you. You don’t have time to be an expert at everything, especially when it comes to your business or organization.
Whether you sell t-shirts, manage finances, help people with special needs learn career readiness skills, or work as a plumber, your expertise is in your mission. You can make rad t-shirts. You get numbers, forms, and filing rules. You have a heart for people and you’re up-do-date on HR principles. You’ve been a plumber for years and you know when to use the galvanized over the PVC pipes. In all of these examples, you are the expert at what you do. But you many not be an expert at finding new clients, marketing your services, or sharing your expertise in a way that other people understand.
Enter freelancers! While you’re busy (and believe me, you’re always busy) being an expert at your thing, freelancers can help fill in the cracks in the skills you might lack. From updating the look and feel of your website, to answering emails, to managing the writing and design process of pamphlets and flyers, freelancers use their expertise to help support you and yours.
Long story short: Focus on what you know how to do and let freelancers help manage the rest.
There can be risks involved when hiring freelancers. Some will come onboard and fit seamlessly into the fabric of your day-to-day, others not so much. What can you do to help save time, money, and the headache of finding the “right” freelance fit? Here are a few tips:
Not so long ago I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have kids. If you asked me, I said something like “maybe someday but not anytime soon.”
All of that has changed, of course. Now I am a mom to a wonderful little boy. He’s smiley, curious, strong, and easy going. He sleeps through the night most of the time, he goes back and forth between a bottle and nursing like a pro, and he’s eating solids without issue. He’s starting to sit unassisted and getting up on all fours to rock it out in that pre-crawling motion. Oh, and he has Down Syndrome. It was a bit of a shock at first, I’ll admit. But he is all we know and he is ours just the way he is.
I’m fortunate to have a job where I work from home. So far, 9 months into his life outside my body, I’ve managed to keep up my full-time job responsibilities and have him with me every day. It isn’t easy.
There are times I wish I could do things differently. But bills persist and although my heart leaps at the idea of being a stay-at-home mom who takes on freelance contract work by choice (and can step away from a full-time commitment), I am a working mom; both in the traditional sense of the word work and in the mom-role of work.
Here’s how I stay sane:
Being a mom is the most rewarding thing I have ever experienced. He makes me a better person. I’m more understanding and patient. I’ve learned to adjust on the fly and come up with creative solutions. All of which make me better at my paying job, too.
After a half decade in the “real world” and college life prior to this, I’ve learned a few things about managing my time. Through it all, I know with absolute certainty that I thrive in a flexible work environment where creativity is part of my everyday and I am free to accomplish the tasks at hand in my own way. Like Steve Jobs said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do.” I meet my deadlines EVERY SINGLE TIME. How? By getting the most out of my work day.
There you have it. My top four tips for getting the most out of your work day. When I’m focused, intentional, and in the groove, I feel unstoppable.
There’s a sweet spot when it comes to website content. Too much is overwhelming and too little is disappointing, both of which make your customers and future customers look elsewhere.
Strong website content is specific, clear, concise, and focused. If someone clicks on a service tab for instance and ends up at a page describing your staff, your services, and your top products, you’ll likely lose ’em and quick.
It’s best if that service tab focuses on your services. Novel idea, right? Provide the name of each service and a brief description. Don’t get too wordy. Don’t be too salesy. And with any content you put up on your website, remember your brand, your brand voice, and your audience. Cater to their curiosities and their needs in those summaries and descriptions. And please, oh please, keep the content relevant and up-to-date. There’s nothing worse than visiting a website that has a whole page or two dedicated to a product or service that is no longer available or doesn’t represent what is actually available in the here and now.
Top Tip: You could write your website content yourself, heaven knows you know your products and services better than anyone else. But, odds are you’ve got your hand and head in 100 different places. Why add to your to-do list when there’s someone out there who can take an idea, research it, summarize it, and write it for you?
Let me know when you’re ready to pass the baton.