melonsIn honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’d like to do my part to remind the ladies in the house to take good care of yourselves and get checked out. I love you and I want you to be around for a long time. If it’s something you’re putting off, read on. I’m certain it will inspire you to rush right in and get ‘er done, because you know, it couldn’t be worse than this…

The mammogram. Ah, yes. That time-honored tradition where Women Of A Certain Age get pictures taken of their breasts sans flattering lighting and mood music.

There’s not a woman on the planet who thinks this is awesome.

Gather ‘round, dear children, while I regale you with the story of my first mammogram… (you’ll laugh, you’ll cry…it’s better than Cats.)

The first thing that hits me is the fact that I’m old. I mean, there’s no pretending you’re 29 when you get referred for the doctor-mandated mammogram. Your boobs have been around long enough, they may be killing you. Not nice, people!

After filling out reams of paperwork and holding in the mauve waiting room for 14 hours, I am ushered into a small dressing room. I’m instructed to remove everything from the waist up and put on a gown (I use the term “gown” loosely), opened in the front. And then I’m to sit and wait again in yet another mauve waiting room.

OK, well, whatever. So I put on said paper “gown,” open in the front, and if a strong breeze blew through the corridor, I’d be arrested for indecent exposure. I sit down in the only seat available, in a gray plastic chair I swear they stole from the DMV. This only open seat is between two women. One woman is large. So large, she spills over into my seat. And she’s burping. No joke, every couple minutes she burbs what I’m pretty sure is garlic shrimp. Niiiiiice. The woman on the other side of me is talking on her phone, loudly, about the dinner she was at last night and what-he-said-then-what-she-said-and-then-can-you-believe-no-I-swear-I’m-not-making-this-up-I-know-right? She has three-inch long neon pink acrylic nails. (What am I, in a sit-com?)

I pick up a Cosmo magazine (it was either that or Golf Digest) and start flipping through. Wrong thing to do in this moment. Of course, the pages are filled with beautiful people, tips about having fantastic sex, and how to look good in skinny jeans. Not fun to read when I’m wearing what amounts to a McDonald’s napkin, sandwiched between Long John Silver in need of a Tums and 50-year-old Snookie.

Mercifully, my name is called and I’m taken even further into the bowels of the hospital. Joan, the technician, orders me to approach the machine. Joan has the warmth and charisma of a cage fighter. Here’s the fun part: she literally man-handles my boob with her cold talons and places it onto the machine, slowly lowering the plate thingy on top of it so it resembles a deflated balloon. Holy Sweet Moses, it hurts. No, really. There are seven curse words I’d like to employ in this moment. She could’ve at least bought me a glass of wine first.

Joan steps away and commands, “Don’t move. Don’t breathe.”

Here’s the thing: I’m an inappropriate laugher. I’m one of those people who giggles while sitting in the front row of a funeral (sorry Uncle Raymond), shoulders shaking, tears streaming down my face, hoping to God people will think I’m grieving. When I’m in a meeting, I’ll read an inappropriate joke on Facebook and snort out loud and have to bite the inside of my cheek so I don’t burst into the Julia Roberts-in-Pretty-Woman laugh. If for some reason, I’m embarrassed in front of a group, my heart starts racing, my face turns beet red and I start to giggle, mumbling and trying to find something funny to say and usually land on, “That’s what he said…”

So when Cold Hand Joan orders me to silence, I do the opposite. I burst out laughing. Regardless of the fact I’m now surgically attached to a device of torture, I start laughing and shaking and wiggling. Joan sighs heavily and impatiently barks out, “Well, now we have to do it again.” Jeez, Joan, lighten up.

Mammogram, Take 2!

Mammogram, Take 6!

Mammogram, Take 9!

It’s a wrap!

Thank the Lord.

I slink out of the room, wrapping my arms around my middle, trying to keep the gown shut until I reach the dressing room. I walk in and all my clothes are gone. Seriously. They are gone. Someone took my clothes. WHAT? EXCUSE ME! SOMEONE TOOK MY CLOTHES! Oh wait…wrong dressing room. I’m relieved to realize once again that I am directionally challenged and simply took a wrong turn into a different, but identical mauve hallway. Wouldn’t that be something, though? Me driving home in the napkin?

So, snaps of my boobs are on record and I’m thankful to report they are perfect, medically speaking. Inside, where it counts.

Whad’ya say, Joan? Same time next year? I’ll bring the wine.

both and

DISCLAIMER: This post includes complaint but not lament. It is a No Pity Zone. I’m just keeping it real and have a feeling a few in my tribe can relate. Are we clear? I love you people. Okay, now, read on…

I had this idea about life after divorce. I thought once the dust settles, the dating life would be fantastic. I thought if I could just get through this really crappy time, I just knew it would be awesome. There would be dates and trips and parties and fun! As soon as that Facebook status moved to Single, there would be no stopping me! I’d join That Online Dating Site and I’d be inundated with men wanting relationships with me! I’d better buy some cute outfits in advance because I will have places to go.

tweet this.

tweet this.

It’s not like that.

The reality is, for many of us, single life is just life. Simply put, there’s a lot of down time. A lot of time where our date is Charles Shaw (don’t judge) and we find ourselves flopped on the beige couch on a Saturday night binge-watching Sex And The City. Or worse: Wife Swap.

I know, I know. People say, “Give it time.”

“There’s someone out there for you.”

“I know this great guy you might like…”

And worst of all: “We pray every day for the right man to come along for you.” Please pray for the Ebola victims, not for this.

In my limited experience of dating at this time in my life, I can tell you this: it’s exhausting. The small talk, the telling the same stories, the having to be funny/charming/cute. The Spanx! Don’t get me started. The Spanx alone are enough to confirm one’s calling to a convent. (But may it be in Provence, please, dear Lord.)

Some people love the fun of dating. Of meeting lots of people. Of just getting out there to have fun. Turns out, my original Facebook fantasy doesn’t fit me to a T. I’m not like that. The thing I want, I think what a lot of us want, is companionship.

I like getting dressed up (read: Spanx) and going on fantastic dates. But I want to do it with Someone. Someone I know in the deepest places of his heart and mind and who knows me in the same way. Someone I’m not trying to impress. I don’t want to be on my best behavior. I want us to be comfortable enough to not be perfect or witty or clever or trying so dang hard. I want to watch a movie on the couch in drawstring pants and no mascara and make a run for French fries or another bottle of wine. I want to have conversations that matter and conversations that are ridiculous. I want to laugh with him at potty humor even though it’s not lady-like. I want to talk about the places we fall down and the ways we get back up again. I want to talk about how we can change the world and really mean it.

I know a lot of women in this space want that. So what do we do in the waiting? I don’t know. But what I do know is… who are we kidding, I got nothin’. I know nothing.

Those days that feel hopeless and lame and sad and you’re just trying to keep it together…

Then those days when you feel all SJP at her cool New York best and you’re awesome and really okay.

All those days are part of it, I guess. The “Where are you, Someone?” days and the “I’m crushing it!” days. All true.

I’m nothing if not a big hairy ball of contradictions and I’m in all of that. My thoughts swing from one extreme to the other through the course of 24 hours. And what I do know…okay, this time I really do know at least one thing… is that it’s all going to be fine. We are going to be fine. Better than fine. We may not figure it all out, but we will be wondrous in the confusion and beautiful in the trying. No matter what.

In fact, I’m pretty sure we already are.


I googled "corny love images" and got this.

PS: I searched “corny love images” and got this.

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.