a blog by any other name…

The second question friends ask after I tell them I’ve started a blog is usually, “Millywhat?”

I know. Unusual name. But there’s a story. (There’s always a story.)

I’ve debated about if or when I’d tell that story here. There’s something kind of fun about keeping you guessing. I’m sure you lay awake at night trying to unravel the mystery…

I love they way the word sounds. It’s whimsical and fun and a little silly. It feels kind of girly and kind of odd. Exactly like a certain friendship I have. Let me explain.

Over 30 years ago, I met Lisa in high school. (Can I pause here for a moment? I think someone did the math wrong. I could not possibly have been in high school over 30 years ago. I digress…) Lisa sat next to me in Mrs. Moser’s biology class. We both were slightly shy and slightly dorky and became fast friends. We pined over boys. We worked together at Nordstrom (where the addiction began). She taught me how to drive on the freeway and once on the sidewalk. Because neither of us had a sense of direction, we often got ridiculously lost. But we navigated the triumphs and heartaches of those important years, and we freakin’ laughed our faces off most of the time.

Somehow, I’m not sure how, we came across this name, Milly Pang. And we thought it was awesome. It quickly became the name we each answered to. It morphed into one word: Millypang! Sometimes it was MP and if we were feeling especially sassy, just Milly.

Time passes and friendships evolve. Ours has and it’s endured miles and years and life kicking the crap out of us. It’s also made us both better.

lucynethelThose kinds of friendships from years ago are valuable and rare, where you know each other’s parents and you remember each other’s first car and first boyfriend. Or those friendships from later, but no less important years of college or early marriage or new babies or your first home in the same cul-de-sac. Those people who, if you could pick your family, you would pick them. They weave in and around your life and give you a sense of personal history and of belonging. Of being known.

What about you? Who is that person for you? Is it someone you are in touch with now or have time and life caused a drift? The latter isn’t a bad thing. That person or people still helped shape who you are today. Those friendships are still important, even from a distance. What if you reached out? What if you dropped a line and just said “Thank you.” Or “Tell me about your world now.” No big declaration or grand gesture. Just connection. Doing something like that may totally confuse the person or it may make their whole day.

So the name of this space is a fun, happy name. Moreover, it’s a tribute to those people who are important to us. To those who help us become who we are meant to be. To this day, I’ll call Lisa and she’ll answer with a resounding “MILLYPANG!” It makes me smile.


let’s pretend

There’s a scene in the movie Hook where the Lost Boys have captured a grown up Peter Pan, though they don’t know it’s him. Pockets, one of the smallest boys, gingerly approaches Peter who has been kicked around and beaten. He slowly removes Peter’s glasses and looks at his face very, very carefully. Pockets touches, pokes, and stretches Peter’s skin, studying this weathered, middle-aged man kneeling before him. With his small hands holding Peter’s face, Pockets’ own face slowly lights up and he exclaims, “Oh there you are, Peter!”

I’ve been there. That moment when someone recognized who I was. The Laura beneath the pretending and striving and holding on to someone I wasn’t. “Oh there you are, Laura! I’m so glad you’re here.”

I’m pretty sure we all go through those periods where we want to fit in. Where we think we must squeeze into a certain mold in order to be liked and included. (No? Just me? Ah well, okay. Anyhoo…) This was me much of my adult life. Something in me felt less than, not quite there yet, not quite enough, or worse, too much. I unconsciously fell into the thinking that if people really knew me, they’d run for the hills. If people knew what I really thought or felt or if they saw the scars from old wounds, they’d hightail it out of my life quicker than you can say, “Isn’t there a 12-step program for this?”

So I pretended. I got really good at it too.

There was that time I decided to be Perfect. Seriously. I decided I would be Perfect, and all would be right in the world and God would love me just a skosh more and people would see me walk by and they’d sigh and say, “Gosh, I wish I could be Perfect like her.”

50s-momHere’s how it went: I only drove 55mph on the freeway. I only listened to Contemporary Christian Music (because, you know, “garbage in, garbage out”). I never left the house without a full face of makeup and lipstick. My clothes were smart and put together and appropriate and mommy-chic. I never said bad words. Not even words that were substitutes for bad words. In fact, I had no need to because I never got angry or frustrated. Don’t you see, I was Perfect.

F’real. I did that. Being Perfect lasted about three days.

Okay, so even though I couldn’t be Perfect, I played the part of the good Christian mom and wife. I tried hard to cook really healthy meals with the requisite ratio of protein to vegetables. I volunteered in the classroom and in Sunday School. I tried to throw fantastic birthday parties for my girls (pre-Pinterest, I wished for Martha Stewart to make her face shine on me.)

Now, I’ve come to the understanding and acceptance that I’m good at maybe three things. And all that cooking and crafting and patience-having-with-six-year-olds ain’t them.

Over the years, all the striving for perfection didn’t make me more likeable. It just made me exhausted — and probably pretty boring. So I quit. A good friend of mine suggests we quit something every Thursday. One Thursday, I quit trying to get people to like me.

As I began to peel off the facade, it didn’t sit well with some people. Things shifted. I no longer played the unspoken yet agreed upon role in our relationship. It was uncomfortable at best and gutting at worst. But I knew, I just knew, I could no longer pretend to be someone I wasn’t. I began to realize that putting on a smile and faking it was at the expense of who God created me to be. When I tried so hard to fit in, it left me truly lonely and feeling like a failure. But when I set all that down and allowed myself to be honest, that’s when I felt I belonged.

When I let my guard down, those close to me finally saw me. Me and all my ugly stuff. The hidden, shameful, messy stuff. The stuff that make all of us real. Those friendships became deeper and more honest and more full of life than when I allowed no one to truly know me. Oh, there you are, Laura!

So I stand before you now, a recovering perfectionist. I’m a bit of a mess, really. But I’m a contented mess. I’m a more-comfortable-in-my-own-skin mess. I’m no gourmet, but my children have not starved. The snacks I bring for their sports teams are beautifully wrapped by Grandma Kirkland. We may be a little behind on the whole college prep thing. But as I’ve stopped playing the part of Perfect, I think my girls are learning to be themselves, trust their gut, and not pretend to be someone they aren’t. We’re all figuring it out together.

Oh and guess what? There are days I even go outside without makeup. (Okay, a little mascara never hurt anyone. Baby steps.)


flying lessons


Blackbird singing in the dead of night

Take these broken wings and learn to fly

All your life

You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Blackbird fly Blackbird fly

Into the light of the dark black night.


A bird with broken wings, black feathers, yearning to break free. Singing into the desolate darkness. That paradoxical refrain, “…into the light of a dark black night.” An image comes to mind of a sliver of moon or winking stars behind the clouds, the slightest glimmer of something more.

I’ve always loved that song. I’ve read it’s about the civil rights movement and some say it’s about South Africa. It reminds others of the afterlife, breaking free. Regardless of the interpretation, it’s a song of pain and of hope. It’s a song of testing and overcoming. I hear it and it fills me with the idea that I too can courageously fly.

As I have moved through the pain and brokenness of divorce, this song has resonated. There were moments when I doubted the light would ever come. When the agony was visceral and all I saw was darkness. Friends assured me it would get better, but I didn’t believe them—I couldn’t believe them. There was no room in my heart or head for hope. So my friends held that hope for me. And slowly, so slowly, I realized they were right. There would be a moment or a comment or a song that offered the slightest glimmer of light. Of breath. Of something more. These glimmers began to multiply and pile up and glow and reflect all over me and one day I realized I was standing in the Light. Full Light that cast out the darkness. I looked around and stood up straight and took a deep breath. And I took wing.

I’m not suggesting that all is rosy and life is perfect. Nope. I’m recognizing the miracle that I’m still breathing and laughing and crying and living. That I fall down and I have the strength to get back up. That through this season, my wings were broken yet I am healing.

Part of that healing for me is writing again. And part of flying for me now is sharing my writing with you. This terrifies me. It’s one thing to pour out your heart and your brain into your laptop with secure passwords. It’s a completely different thing to put it out there for folks to read. Here’s my baby…do you think my baby is pretty? But somehow, I feel like it’s time. Thank you for being part of this journey.

I believe that no matter how dark our surroundings, there is always the slightest glimmer to be found. We all have our blackbird moments, and broken wings or not, the Light finds us. We limp our way towards it and we learn to fly again.