The Year of Leather & Pottery

On May 14th, 2013, I rolled over to my husband smiling._JRM2444

“Happy Anniversary.”

I said, “Sing the song.”

“What song?” he replied.

“You know the one.” I smiled.

And then he sang it.

Because out of the billions of people on this planet, he is the only one who would know just what song I meant.

Because he’s my guy.

He knows that I don’t like ice in my water or refrigerated fruit because the cold hurts my teeth. He knows that a hammock to me is what a hug machine is for Temple Grandin. He knows that I don’t like to go a day without chocolate.

He pays attention. He knows me.

We have now been married for 9 years.

The accurate length of time was news to us. We thought we were about to celebrate our 10th anniversary until we counted more carefully.

The traditional wedding gift should be one of pottery or leather.

I don’t know why.

It seems a perfect fit.

The past two years have been rough. I can tell you this now.

It seems as if our marriage was a new leather catching mitt that needed to be broken in with a solid beating. I imagine our pot needed to be fired to strengthen a few weaker spots.

So, yes. Perhaps leather and pottery are the perfect gift ideas this year.

This is the year that we celebrate in the spirit of survival.

We have bailed all of the water, patched the sail and eaten nothing but saltines for months. Storms have raged and yet suddenly, we spotted the shore, leapt from the boat and swam for our lives.

We are past the exhaustion of the swim. We are now laying in the sand with the sun kissing our skin. We are now rolling over to smile at each other in disbelief that we made it. At times we both veered off course but we landed safely next to one another.

Watch this video to hear this post’s soundtrack.

Those of you who are married and have been for a long time will know this story without hearing the details. You know what it feels like to be leather broken and a pot fired. Your ship almost went down. You know the gratitude of the lessons.

For those of you who have only been married a short time – may you never see a shipwreck. Godspeed. However, if you do, bear down and hold on. It will be awful. It will hurt and when people tell you about leather and pots, you will want to shank them.

I understand that too. May you find yourself being kissed by the sun on a safer shore someday.

For those of you who know the pain of pulling yourself out of the ocean alone – you are not a sunken ship or a weak pot. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try or how deeply you want to stay on the same course with the person you love, it doesn’t work out.

Be gentle with yourself. Love yourself. Recognize that you survived. Reward your own bravery.

Love is not easy. It is hard. It is not a napkin to stuff into your pocket. It’s not pennies that you let slip to the bottom of your handbag. It’s not a can to kick down the road out of boredom.

All love is to be treated with respect and tenderness. Love is so easily lost when it is not treated like the gift it is.

Love is like nails freshly painted. It is like flipping an omelet or whipping an egg white. Love is a box marked fragile.

Love is a battlefield.

Heh. Couldn’t help myself. :)

Our 9th wedding anniversary, the year of leather and pottery, is the year that we celebrate those lessons in survival.

Safe journey,


Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death. ~ Song of Solomon 8:6




Hopeful Days

It is finished.

Well, actually, it has all just begun. However, my blog break is over.

School. Derby. Work. Family. Friends.

Life is in full swing and not in that order.

It is not swinging on a gentle breeze. It is surviving gale force winds and wrapping itself around the poles that are struggling to stay cemented in the ground. This mad rush follows a difficult research period that has left me trying to find words for the things I experienced.

It is not that I don’t have the words. I do not have polite words. They are angry words complimented with a rich abundance of curses. I am sorting those feelings out and deciding where they belong.

I gave myself the gift of January to settle into a very challenging season professionally, personally and in the world of roller derby.

It was a wise decision.

My goals are big for this year and can easily be rattled off.

  • Be more present with my family.
  • Love my body
  • Pass my classes with flying colors
  • Raise more money for Nyaka than last year
  • Train to skate like an athlete
  • Start speaking publicly
  • Do enough research to justify a research trip for my book
  • Oh! And write a book.

Of course, this list is nothing more than the cliff notes version of the minutes, hours and days structured towards so many coveted accomplishments.

So far, I have a list of things that have developed in response to my goals for 2013.

  • I have almost cried on my way to roller derby practice out of exhaustion. (I will admit that I was about to start my period.)
  • I have stayed up far too late studying because I won’t allow myself to fail.
  • I will be speaking at She Laughs VII tomorrow night to benefit the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing and decided the topic in a Microsoft shower moment this morning.
  • I have chosen to eat and drink with health and fitness in mind.
  • I am saying a big, fat, NO to opportunities that are not in the best interest of my family and our quality time.

I am uncomfortable. I am challenged. I am exhausted.

I can tell I am doing it right.

When have positive changes come with a big, cushy spot of comfort and ease?


It comes with hunger pains over those donuts someone brought into the office. It comes with the muscle aches of an injury slowly healing. Change comes with the awkward stagger in shoes that need to be broken in.

I am changing. We all are. Up and down, positive and negative we make changes.

It is what we are in the world. We are transient souls.

In the past, I didn’t make goals. I used to shrug them off as bench marks to an unavoidable failure.

I think everytime you look at yourself and decide that you need a change or a transformation you have to have faith in your ability to change before you can take that first step.

I believe that my list is not full of resolutions.

My list is a reflection of just how much faith I have learned to have in myself.

It is based on all the hopes I have for my future and a guidepost on my journey toward loving myself regardless of what value my past tried to dictate.

This is a new perspective for me but it fits.

Everything else is new. Why shouldn’t my perspective be too?

All of my faith, hope and love is invested in that little abreviated list of hope-filled minutes, hours and days.

I wish you enough faith in yourself to do the same.



The City Salon Giveaway: Feel Lovely

The new year came to my door and I graciously accepted the gift of another try.

2012 has had it’s trip around the sun.

I have plans. Grand schemes on how this year will be wonderful are listed out on paper.

I am tying to make my list focused on the positive. I have a lot of hopes and dreams for myself, my family and our future. I’ll share those later. I am not quite done dreaming.

Today, I want to announce a giveaway that will hopefully help you feel lovely.

It is easy to beat yourself up about what you have not, cannot, will not or forget to do. We are fallible creatures and we fail often. We fail in tears, laughter if we are lucky and sometimes with jazz hands.

There is no better way to begin a year than to love ourselves just the way that we are, right now.

Take a moment to enter this Mother Flippin’ Giveaway for a $50 Gift Certificate to City Salon in Lansing, Michigan. Get that trim, wax, color, cut or manicure you have been putting off for way longer than is necessary.
My stylist, Heather Jarous has been making me look fantastic for 10 years. I consider her one of my dearest friends. She and her talented team will take very good care of you.
To enter, share in a comment here what you would like to use the $50 Gift Certificate for and like both The Mother Flippin Fan Page and City Salon on Facebook. For extra credit, tweet all about it.
Love yourself in 2013.

Feeling lovely,


PS – A big thank you to Heather Jarous, Owner of City Salon for sponsoring this wonderful giveaway.

I Blame You.

I am going to do something incredibly selfish.

I am going to tell you the whole truth.

I know that you have your expectations of me. When you see the link pop up in your feed or in your inbox, you hope for something funny, even if it is darkly so.

I am positive that I still have a few laughs still in me.

However, over the past two weeks, I have not been laughing. I have been dealing.

Well, okay. I still laughed. You know me so well.

The “dealing” was not pretty.

In the process of writing, I had this memory that I unzipped and climbed into like a jacket. I pulled it close to me and smoothed the fabric over my body. I pulled up the collar around my ears and peered down into the darkness. I saw things I couldn’t explain and I single mindedly searched for answers.

I interviewed my mother about six times in one weekend. I googled. My friend Suban googled. I cried…but only a little. I wrote a bit and then it came.

This wave of anger and indignation.  I am not even sure if anyone could see it radiating off of my body like heat waves on concrete. Under anger, there is always something else.

It was sorrow and lamentation.

The interesting part about this cycle is that when I first began this journey nearly 17 years ago, it was about forgiveness. It took me an entire year of prayer, meditation and angry fist shaking at the sky but I did it. I forgave my father.

Jokes on me. Forgiveness for something like this comes and goes like those waves of anger. You forgive and then you realize you have to deal with this other issue that was stirred into you as a little one. Then you get angry again which of course is all sorrow and lamentations. Then you forgive.

Again and again and around and around it goes.

The difference this time is that I went looking for it. I attacked my past with a machete. I poked it a little at first and then I hauled off and started whacking at it like I was trying to break open a coconut.

I realize now that I kind of was trying to break open a coconut.

Over breakfast with my derby wife, I realized something in talking to her.

Every time I remember a secret and tell it, I feel vindicated. I feel empowered. I feel like my story is mine again and not his. I feel like he doesn’t just die and get away with it.

I feel like he doesn’t get to die and destroy me. I feel like I win.

I feel like I wrap the tiny girl that I was in a blanket, hoist her up near my chest and climb out of the grave he dug for us. It is not an easy climb. The grave is huge and we are both injured but now is the time to do it.

When I was 15-years-old I could have never even attempted a journey like this. Nor could I at 22.

Someone told me recently that God allows you to remember things forgotten about trauma when you can handle them.

I blame you.

Okay. Maybe not you specifically.

I blame the people who love me.

I blame my husband for not thinking I am crazy. I blame my family for answering my questions and believing that somewhere in their answers, I will find my own. I blame my friends for checking in on me,making me laugh and hearing me out.If I were not completely drowned in their incredible love, I would not be able to go down this path. It is only through their love and confidence that I keep climbing.

I didn’t even know it but this is the perfect time to tell this story.

Finally, at the end of two weeks of anger and menacing dreams, it all turned to sorrow and I sobbed. I cried harder than I can ever remember myself crying. My husband held me and I just lost my shit. I thought I was going to have a panic attack and I didn’t. I just fell asleep and woke up with swollen eyes.

I dealt with it. I faced it. I survived.

This weekend, I will write that chapter and shut it.

Timing is everything.







Happy Birthday, Isaiah!

Dear Isaiah,

The day you were born,

I held you in my arms like a secret the world didn’t know yet.

Even in your mystery, I felt like I had always known you.

You existed in me long before the moment you were placed warm on my chest.

Even now, I cannot imagine the space where you begin and I end.

Happy Birthday, Isaiah.

With all of my faith, hope and love,


Three Dollars

Today I visited a middle school.

My goal: to support a Dentist as he shared his experience volunteering at the Mummy Drayton School Clinic.

I sat across the room and watched large groups of students get herded into the library with their teachers. I watched them fidget, whisper and giggle throughout the presentation. I watched their eyes widen in surprise to see the most devastating facts appear on the PowerPoint.

I offered free bracelets to all if they signed up for more information. They hurried over for the modest swag. I smiled, encouraged and laughed at the various questions about Ugandan wildlife.  I then watched them rush off to lunch or their next class.

I believe in planting seeds. I know that many of these students will not find their calling in Nyaka. The promise is not in the cause, it is in the perspective. We either teach compassion or apathy. There’s not much of value in the middle.

As I wandered around answering questions, I noticed a young man shopping the merchandise table. He picked up a few things, held them and then put them down. After some thought, he came over and asked me a question.

I am not going to buy anything but can I give you all of my money?

I looked down at the folded up money in my hand with happy surprise. I offered him more info for signing up. I felt that he must get something for such a lovely gesture. He kindly declined and I said thank you.

As he walked away, I unfolded the money and counted it.

It was three dollars.

Three dollars given with nothing expected in return. Three single dollar bills resting in the palm of my hand.  In Uganda, those three dollars will go a long way.

Three dollars from an American student to help care for AIDS orphans in rural southwest Uganda. I know that at least one seed was planted today.

Scratch that.

It was probably planted long ago and I just got to see a tiny, healthy bit of growth. Can you imagine what a garden of seeds like that one would look like?



That moment made my day.