Monday, August 31, 2015

Who am I?

So about half a year ago, just before my little baby was born, I went to something called the “IF:Conference”  

Nobody could give me a straight answer of what it was exactly about except that it was a gathering of woman who wanted to get to know Jesus.  They didn’t want to know more about Jesus (trust me I know a lot about Jesus as a Religious Studies major....and as a historical figure and person he is baffling) but a gathering of women who believe He is still alive (and not like in a weird Elvis or TuPac Shakur way) but alive as GOD in heaven.  

I went to the event and I felt so validated in who I am.  I felt like God was saying “Yes, I am the great Creator* who made you in my image and yet totally unique.”   After this I began to read some of their studies online at IF:Equip and then fell into this amazing group of women who wanted to study The Artist’s Way* by Julia Cameron which also has a ton to do with identity and our concept of God.  

Then, a week or so ago the questions in the Bible study were “What part of the body of Christ are you?” and “How can you build your part of the wall?” (You’ll have to read the crazy story of Nehemiah to get the wall reference but it is worth it.)  I got mad reading this, annoyed, frustrated, just uncomfortable because I don’t feel that I have a place... in the church, in the analogy, in general.  But then I read this paragraph from Julia Cameron and I felt this small seed of faith start to open up.  

She wrote, “I may be a good cook, a rotten housekeeper, and a strong artist. I am messy, disorganized except as pertains to writing, a demon for creative detail, and not really interested in details like polished shoes and floors. To a large degree my life is my art, I may poke into what other people think of as dead ends: a punk band that I mysteriously fall for, a piece of gospel music that hooks my inner ear, a piece of red silk i just like and add to a nice outfit, thereby ‘ruining it.’...There is a connection between self-nurturing and self-respect**.  If I allow myself to be bullied and cowed by other people’s urges for me to be more normal or more nice, I sell myself out.  They may like me better, feel more comfortable with my more conventional appearance and behavior, but I will hate myself.”  (p.180-181)

And as I read this I thought, “I still have no idea what part of the body this correlates to but I too am a mash up of contradictions and frustrations for those who try to put me in a box.  I am smart but have no common sense.  I love beautiful outfits but hate spending money on clothes.  I value coffee above showering, writing above sleep. I crave people’s affirmation but I also choose to speak my own mind.”  All this and God uses me still.  I may not know what part of the body I am but God knows.  And maybe it is the sort of thing that changes with the seasons of our lives.  But God knows that too.  He knows the plans he has for me and they are plans for good.  He never promises “normal” or “nice” but he does promise “abundant life” and that is the way I want to live.  That is the way I want to build my wall.  #nehemiah 

**for more on this I recommend the blog

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Guest Blogger: Koi and Momas

Today our guest blogger is my good friend Stephanie.  She is the author of the blog (which I always enjoy reading) and the mama of two precious little ones.  I'm so grateful that she'd share her thoughts here.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I do:)

Last week, over a shared meal that never disappoints to bring up random conversations, the subject of labels entered the scene.  One of my friends who raised three boys through high school diplomas said, "Isn't it funny how you say you never want to give a label, but then it just happens anyway?"

We spent the next chunk of time laughing and giving examples of how true that is.  Beucase... well... people sometimes just ARE certain ways!

Koi has always been more of an introvert and keeps to himself while Momas says hi to everyone in his path whether we are going on an after dinner walk or just waiting in the chiropractor's office.

Koi is more cautious and meticulous about things.  He was perched on a stool helping me in the kitchen since he could stand with a decent amount of balance.  Momas thinks it's hilarious to do a side-step-bounce over to Koi's neat line of cars while picking his foot up and giving a raised eyebrow glance to Koi.

Koi HATES loud noises and takes a while to recover from being startled while Momas may or may not hear a noise and dismisses it as quickly as he heard it.

The question I've been asking myself lately is, "Is it nature or nurture?"  So far my answer is that it's a bit of both. 

I do think that their are certain qualities we are born with.  Koi wakes up with the sun and has more of a difficult time staying asleep at night, and I'm usually waking Momas up for the day around ten.  We didn't do anything drastically different with their sleep aside from Momas being in our bed longer.

I definitely think Koi's introvert personality is something he was born with, and we help him find his words to address people while making sure he's not too overwhelmed in crowds.  He could also be more comfortable in the kitchen because he is the first born and I had the undivided attention to teach him how to stay on his chair and pour and mix ingredients.

It's easy to feel like I'm depriving Momas because he's not getting the same one one one attention as Koi had, and the guilt can creep in when Koi's big plans for playing get interrupted by "Tomzilla", as we affectionately call Momas.

Instead of letting the guilt become paralyzing I choose to look at what they each bring to our family.  Koi teaches Momas that things have a place, and loves when he can be the one to sit down and read Momas books.  Momas leads the way in saying hi to people and, if the reaction is positive, Koi is right behind him.  Yesterday the loud revving of an engine sent Koi bolting into the house in a hysterical state that took me at least five long minutes to calm him down.  Those five minutes preceded ten minutes of Koi asking me if it was going to happen again, and not wanting to go back out to play.  He finally found Momas and sweetly asked him if he wanted to go out, too.  Momas happily followed Koi outside and Koi was happy to have his brother there as a buffer from the noise, should it happen again.
Instead of trying to steer clear of labels, I think we should embrace the way we were created and celebrate our differences!  Instead of ignoring the differences in our children we should help them put a name to things, and affirm them for who they are and the qualities they have.  In a positive way, of course.  I can give some examples of labels I was given, unintentionally, that I played into because I thought that was just me....but we don't need to go there. :-) 

How sad would it be to realize you never helped your children, or those around you, reach their fullest potential because you were afraid to put them in a box so you steered clear from calling out their strengths and helping them see and work on their weaknesses?

Let's be quick and genuine to affirm.  
Let's be even faster to apologize when our words hurt.
Let's love and build up those around us.
Let's teach our littles how to appreciate the differences in others!

Monday, August 24, 2015

A guide to Fantasy Football for Haters...and Spouses

So, tomorrow is my husband and my 9 year anniversary!  Nine years!  It’s hard to believe all the adventures we’ve had and how quickly the time has gone by. 

Tomorrow is also important because it is my husband’s fantasy football draft. Now, to all you haters out there I used to be a hater too.  And then I got pregnant with our first child.  And I got really really sick.  Sick so that I could not move from the couch without being violently ill.  I spent my days watching ESPN because even changing the channel was just too much for my feeble mind and body.  

I realized that learning about sports was like learning a new language... and ESPN is a really really good teacher.  Seriously, if we covered common core curriculum like ESPN covers sports....making shows that all discuss the same things but in slightly different forums (i.e. Sports Center, Around the Horn, and Pardon the Interruption) we’d have a lot more kids passing standardized tests.  Anyway, I started to care about this new language I was learning.  

Also, I realized that sports are a great outlet for people who, like me, love to argue.  Sports debates can go on endlessly.  So, I am eager for my husband to go pick a killer fantasy football team because it will be a subject of great conversation all fall long.  

So, just in case you want to join in that lively debate this fall, I’ve written this post covering the basics of Fantasy Football (because let’s be honest...half the hate comes from feeling left out)... Ok 

Step 1: A person must pick a team name for their Fantasy Team (a team they dream up as all the perfect players from various real teams coming together to play as one for them an imaginary owner/ manager) The naming of teams may be the last bastion of literary wit among sports fans (besides sports writers/bloggers).  Puns, word play and allusion are all welcome.  My personal favorite comes from a NY Giants fan we know.  His team gave a clever nod to the Giant’s coach Tom Coughlin and to prostate health. It was called “Turn your head and Coughlin.”  

Step 2: You must have a draft.  All of this is done online and like the real NFL draft you have to wait your turn to pick the player you want.  You get to pick between 15-18 players.  The usual combination (according to Fantasy Football for Dummies) is as follows:
~2 quarterbacks (who throw the ball or hand it off or run with it if they are athletic enough) They receive points according to the number of yards they successfully pass or run the ball AND get points for every touchdown they throw or run in)
~4 running backs (who take a handoff and run the ball) They receive points according to the number of yards they successfully run the ball AND get points for every touchdown they run in)
~4 wide receivers (who catch the ball) They receive points according to the number of yards they successfully catch and/or run the ball AND get points for every touchdown they catch and/or run in)
~2 tight ends (who...I had to look this one according to wikipedia.....“is often seen as a hybrid position with the characteristics and roles of both an offensive lineman and a wide receiver.” Basically a blocker and a runner.) They get points the same way a running back would.  
~2 kickers (who kick the ball in between the “uprights” to earn 1 or 3 points depending on the situation) They get points for how many points they score kicking the ball between the two yellow poles.  
~2 defenses/ special teams (Now, this is a little confusing because you can’t pick defensive players you have to pick a whole teams’ defense...I don’t know why , that’s just the way it is.  I suppose there must be a limit to the amount a person can dream even in Fantasy Football.) They get points based on how many interceptions they get, sacks they make (in other words how many times they bring the quarterback down while he has the ball), and points they score running the ball in for a touch down.  

Step 3: Research.  Really this is step 1 or 2 and should be done first but it wouldn’t have made sense before all the other stuff. I tried to keep this very brief because it c
~Names to Know: 
Aaron Rodgers
-Quarterbacks: While Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos) and Tom Brady (New England Patriots) will undoubtedly make their way into the Hall of Fame as the best players of our time they may not be the optimum fantasy pick.  (Tom Brady because he will be suspended for the first four games). Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) has actually held the number one spot for fantasy football the past few years.  
Adrian Peterson
-Running Backs: Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings) is freak of nature when it comes to running.  Although he has made some very bad moral choices that got him suspended last season he has a heartbreaking back story that makes me want him to be the best version of himself.  
-Wide Receivers: Calvin Johnson (goes by Megatron and plays for the Detroit Lions)
-Rodger Goodell- The NFL Commissioner (in other words, the boss who decides all things pertaining to professional football.)
~Terms to know:
-Touchdown- When the ball crosses over the plane of the end of the field (i.e. over the painted white line or the orange pylons at the edges) a team scores 6 points.   The team can then choose to try to score another touchdown which is only worth 2 points or kick a field goal which is only worth one point.  Note: If a team doesn’t even try to make the first touchdown but goes straight to kicking a field goal they earn 3 points for a successful kick.
-Sleepers- Players who no one expects to do well but end up earning a ton of points.

So, to bring things full circle, tomorrow along with a mushy card, my husband will be receiving my strong suggestions on who he should draft.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Guest Blogger: Lydia Smith

I apologize for the delay this week in presenting my guest blogger.  She is one of my favorite people in this wide world.  Talking with her has always been like drinking from deep streams of water.  She is one of those people who dances in the rain and writes beautiful poetry.  She has a fantastic blog that you can request an invite to.
   So without further ado...Lydia Smith



meander along the labyrinthine routine

of this night day clock

it's a bit confusing
but i see you there



what do you see?

that i don't

my head feels fuzzy

until i find myself embraced by this night's


i want to be cozy

but i must step out onto the gnarly rocks

that push me towards the waves

of tomorrow's change

Monday, August 17, 2015

Speak of the Devil

There is a scene in the movie (and book) Emma where she is at a picnic.  Someone at the party begins poking fun at a dodgy old lady in their company.  Emma, being the witty heroine she is, joins in with gusto and brings the poor elderly woman to tears.  Emma’s best friend (who she is in love with) chastises her, “It was badly done Emma, badly done indeed.”  And I feel the most miserable second hand embarrassment in that moment every time because I have been there. 

Almost 10 years ago now, I was working at a bakery and there was a very sweet girl there.  She was kind of a hippy, most of us were.  But she had this way of talking, slow and like she was stoned but she totally wasn’t.   She also had a way of phrasing things that made what would have been a normal conversation a little strange and awkward.  These things combined made her very fun to imitate.  

So one night, I was working late with two of my
 closest friends and this girl.  (Let’s call her Kelly).  Kelly and I are cleaning up behind the counter after the store closes and she is talking my ear off in the slowest most awkwardly phrased way possible and I’m soaking it up because I am just ready to relay all of this to my friends.  They are clearing out the bagel bins so I go over to work there on the pretense of helping or asking a question.  I immediately launch into my imitation, mocking Kelly and laughing at my own  wit. When their faces go white and I feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  And I know she is behind me but I’m begging my friends with my eyes to tell me it’s not true.  But she’s there and I turn around and I have nothing to say.  I have absolutely no excuse for my behavior. All I could think to say was, “Well, speak of the devil I was just telling the girls about our conversation.”  And I felt the deepest sense of shame.  

You would think that this would have cured me of all gossip.  After that how could I not have learned my lesson.  But if you have known me for any length of time you probably know that I have not learned my lesson.  In fact you may have shared this horrid experience with me. And when I see someone I have just been talking about standing behind me, listening to what seem to be my “true thoughts” about them, all I can think is how untrue everything I just said is. I might not have been saying anything slanderous but I’m certainly not saying anything loving.   And my one wish in that moment is that I could take it all back and instead say what a truly great person they are and how glad I am they are in my life.  

Like Emma I set out to be the life of the party.  To prove my wit and worth.  But inevitably every word that I utter to make myself feel like a better more socially acceptable person robs me of the spice, brilliance, and joy that person brings to my life.  So, this is an invitation, to stop me if I start to make a fool of myself again.  Maybe it’s a little bit of warning too so you don’t have to go through it.  If you hear me start to mock anyone, just whisper “Speak of the devil” and maybe I’ll remember that they could be standing right there.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Lay Awakes

I love that the guest blogger of the week is THE LAY AWAKES!   They are "an acoustic pop duo based in Brooklyn, NY, with roots in the Canadian prairies and small town Ontario.

ANNA PADDOCK (piano, vocals) grew up in various states and provinces, but her family ties reach back to rural Manitoba.  Her musical roots trace back to classical piano studies and the inspiration of dance and theatre, which led her to study music at Trinity Western University and composition at New York University. During this time, Anna began writing songs, released her first solo album in 2013, toured in Canada and the US, and most notably opened for Paul Simon at New York’s Beacon Theater.

PATRICK ANDERSON (guitar, vocals) was born in Edmonton, Alberta, and grew up in Fergus, Ontario. His music lineage goes back to the family campfire and songbook. He studied music at Vancouver Community College and at Hunter College in Manhattan. Patrick spent many years representing Canada in wheelchair basketball and is a three-time Paralympic gold medalist. 

Anna and Patrick formed The Lay Awakes in the fall of 2014, and immediately began working on an EP with producer Jeremy McDonald (Kevin Garrett). The independent self-titled debut was released in July, 2015."    

I posted "Hush" by Anna Paddock on this blog almost 2 years ago and today I'm posting Hush Revisited because I still love it, perhaps even more as performed by The Lay Awakes.   So without further ado...
(Anna Paddock)
Hush, I've heard enough
You're like a disease and I don't need this
Hush, say no more
You come like a thief and I don't need you
People say we'll fix your head
Just swallow this pill
It'll get easier
I tell myself, get out of bed
You cannot be ill
But all I hear is
Voices, voices
I hear voices, voices, voices
Closing me in
Hush, don't rear your head
You're like a disease beginning to spread
Hush, you've made your point
You come like a thief to kill and destroy
And people say we'll fix your head
Just swallow this pill
Statistics say, you're one in ten
But all I hear is
Voices, voices
Voices, voices, voices
Closing me in
God I can't think when I hear
Voices, voices, voices
Closing me in
Hush, it's time you go
You're like a disease killing my soul
Hush, you've said too much
You come like a thief and you've taken enough


Monday, August 10, 2015


So recently, I’ve gotten hooked on this new show ALONE.  It’s a fascinating premise: 10 men go out into the wilderness and see who can live there the longest. The catch is that they do not know how many people are left or how long they will have to stay.  You could call it a psychological drama although there are plenty of “action” scenes featuring bears, cougars and wolves.
SPOILER ALERT:  One of the things I find most interesting is that 6 of the men leave the first week.  More than half!!!  And all of them  had been talking about staying 9 months to a year.  

So, on ALONE  they get to bring 10 items to help them secure Water, Shelter, Food and Fire  
(Side note: What 10 items would you bring?   I have so far settled on 
     1. Flint and Iron
     2. Large knife (for example a machete....for killing things)
     3. Smaller Knife (for gutting)
     4. Rope
     5. Tarp
     6. Another Tarp
     7. Fishing String
     8. Ax
     9. Net or lures (can’t decide)
     10. ?
Fan Favorite: This guy is ready to go get himself a mouse to eaBig Knife (like machete sized for killing)

Fan Favorite: This guy sewed eyes on his hat to scare the cougars
Fan Favorite: This guy brought his "teacher glare" 
It’s interesting that those who made it through the first week started to embark upon a new level of psychological drama.  Food became a spiritual experience.  They began to reflect on who they were and why they were.  They got bored...really, really bored and beneath that boredom lay a sense of pointlessness.

David and I joked that we should make an equal and opposite show called “Never Alone” or “Stay at Home Mom.”  Because since I have become one I never have “personal” time, space, belongings, or even food.  And aside from the bears, cougars and wolves, the same drama unfolds.  I question who I am, why I am.  I get bored of our routines, the mundane food, water, safety that I feel on one hand I take for granted and on the other is ultimately out of my control.  

Fan Favorite: This guy brought an uncanny ability to quote English Literature at length.
It made me think of the sermon our pastor preached on Sunday.  We are all going to die.  We do everything to avoid it, to avoid even thinking about it but we know it.  He said that David in the Bible wanted to know when he was going to die, so that he could “number his days aright.”  In other words, not waste that time.  And I began to question, what is going to last?  What makes life worth living?  And I could think of only two things ...God and Love ( I know since “God is love” that is a bit redundant).  But when the tent pegs of my life pull out and I feel unstaked, and unsafe I want God to be there.  When I feel meaninglessness howling in my heart I want love to overflow.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Guest Blogger: Hey Little Harbor Writer

The following post is by one of my former students. I am continually inspired by her drive, vivacity and hopeful spirit.  I am honored to post her work here.  
Getting off my flight from Seattle and going straight home from the airport was exciting. I did not see my bed for a good week and missed it so much! My dad opened the front door and I instantly saw a yellow package. I had forgotten I signed up for the Writer's Workshop Program  held in UMass Boston and did not expect for the paperwork to come so soon.  I took my pen and started filling in my information needed but eventually got yelled at by my mom for my sloppy handwriting. July 6th the program started and that’s when everything in my life changed… well in my writing life, that is. 
I finally sat in a classroom where everyone loved to write and all had an equal amount, if anything, more talent than me in writing. I was with “my people.”  The people I had been searching for. The ones who prefer ink time over screen time. For four weeks, I spent four hours a day four days a week improving my writing skills.  I worked on script writing, creative writing, article writing, and all the other fun types of writing. No piece of work was ever neglected, anything written was always admired and was always encouraged to be continued. We named ourselves the Harbor Writers (we had a view of the harbor from our classroom and would turn to the windows when we needed inspiration for our writing)
Free writes took place for twenty minutes every afternoon and discussions followed right after where the groups divided by high school and middle school were allowed to share their thoughts and wonderful writing. 
We were then given an hour for lunch where many memories were created and friendships became more developed. Laughs and jokes always arose from our two tables and an hour never felt like enough.  
After lunch, we were given some focused writing assignment where a certain project was given and students had to create a piece of writing using the project outline. On the nice summer days where it wasn't too humid, we did these assignments in the courtyard outside of the classroom giving us a chance to feel the fresh air and feel blessed for our surroundings.
When the program approached an end, the class put together three of their most cherished writings for our anthology. To top off our amazing and improved writing skills, the class invited family members, teachers, and any other person making a big involvement in their writing careers to a reading. Each student was allowed to read one out of their three pieces of writing to the audience of supporters. This program overall allowed me to improve in my writing, speaking, AND expanded my heart for all the people I met in this program. I did not know what kind of experience I would be sailing into but I docked my boat and stayed for the experience. The Harbor Writers have found a special home in my heart and I will never forget any of those four wonderful weeks!

This is the piece I chose to perform for the audience… ENJOY!

Hey Little Fighter 

Hey little fighter 
Soon things will get brighter

For you are not the size you wear 
or the color of your hair

You are not the color of your skin 
or anything bad said about you 

You are the words you speak 
You are the love in your heart 

You are the smile that brightens each day 

You are beautiful 
So keep your head up 

You are made up of so much beauty 

Please do not forget 
‘For the things that you think define you 
Means absolutely nothing at all 

Monday, August 3, 2015

I'm back...again

Coming up with the title of this post was tough because I have had so many starts and stops I kind of feel bad hating on the fifth or sixth iteration of a movie, book or device because I worry I am turning into that: KD returns, KD Part IV, KD 6S... Anyway, here is where I am at... I wrote an email, many of you hopefully received it.  If not I am extending it to you now: 
  Dear friends, acquaintances and casual readers of all sorts.,
                 I have been on a sort maternity leave* from writing but I think it’s time I dive back in.  I’m so grateful for the way you have all supported me. Even a single click on this page boosts my confidence as a writer so if it was an accident, it was a happy one for me:)  I could not keep this blog alive without readers and guest bloggers.  I love the variety of talent that I get to post here: photographs, lyrics, slices of life, random thoughts, short stories, essays...All of it brings me great joy. 

 So please, I’m asking for your feedback either here in the comments or on the Facebook page...

  1. Would you be willing to be a guest? 
  2. What would you like to see more of one this blog as we restart?  

My touchstone for Penned but Not Published has always been HOPE.  It is my hope and dream to be published but JOY is equally important to me and if the ink never stamps my name onto a “real book” this writing journey will have been fruitful nonetheless.  

*In case you were curious where I have been the past year or so here is the short version.  I got very very ill with hyper-emesis during my pregnancy(yes, the same illness as the Princess/ Dutchess Kate Middleton but so much less glamorous)  with my third baby.  My friends and family picked me up and carried me through those 9 months.  I literally (and I hate when that is over or I say it with confidence and flare...) would not have made it without them, well without you all (most likely).  And then, after multiple trips to the ER, several rounds of rehydration, countless doctor’s visits (to which I had to be driven), and in the midst of yet another insane snowstorm my youngest was born.   Here she is.  She is small, very small, but worth every moment of discomfort and pain it took to bring her here. (I hope you all agree, especially those of you who cleaned my house, drove me, helped me walk, and watched my other kids) 

So cheers to Hadley Olive.  I love her and hope you will too (in a non-creepy, we love to read about all her cute milestones, sort of way).