Maybe you have one. Your “Go-To Spirit Lifter.” Joyce is mine. When my mind was a mess, Joyce listened with the same compassion she’d give to a 7-year-old at the elementary school where she was a counselor. Her infectious laugh leaves you wondering why you ever thought you had something to cry about. Just before…

Sometime before the sunlight snuck around the sides of the bedroom shades a delicious sounding summer rain began to fall. The darkness told me I need not rush out from under the comfort of my cotton quilt.  I listened.  I fell back to sleep with the peace of knowing the purple clematis would get her daily drink without me. The back yard’s newly sewn grass seeds would be grateful, too.  At…

That June was the last time he left home. It was the start of the slowest of the slow summer seasons of my life.  Hospice was happening. It was his last time he went down the stairs until he went without his spirit in a black zippered bag.  That June was a decade ago. It had been 11 years since the delivery of the grim cancer…

The smell of cigarette smoke rose off the paper bag wrapped tightly at the top.  Tucked alongside the brown glass quart of Falstaff beer were a half dozen Snicker bars—enough for the six of the eight of us kids still living at home. A true pay day delight. Reading Father’s Day tributes, I’m compelled to…

Nobody mentioned the hundreds of innocent people murdered by angry mobs. No one spoke of the 35 blocks burned to the ground within 24 hours or of the fleeing of tens of thousands left homeless. Oklahomans didn’t know their history. I was a 17 when I traveled to Tulsa. A group of Omahans charged with…

“The governor’s office is line two for you.” My heart pounded.   Once again someone not the governor had the chore of telling the unchosen prior to the press release that said it wasn’t you.  I’d applied to be a juvenile court judge. I detailed my career accomplishments, got glowing references, and confidently answered questions before the judicial nominating commission of nine. They advanced my name on the short list of the qualified. I travelled to the state capitol to interview with…

“One last question.” She paused. ” When does it get easier?”   For a good hour we’d been reviewing her goals, timelines, and action steps. An energetic entrepreneur, she’d left her grueling well-paid job at the insurance company to strike out on her own. Despite the pandemic, she’d managed to pay down debt, have a steady stream of clients, and develop a reputation as a brilliantly insightful consultant.  But in this moment, life wasn’t feeling easier. She recently recovered from a surgery, had a niece newly diagnosed…

“Are you leaving?” she asks from the sidewalk as I stood beside the door of my car. “Sorry, just arriving,” I say. I presumed the middle- aged woman in blue jeans and a black t-shirt was hoping for a parking spot in my gentrifying neighborhood.  She turns to keep walking. “If you was leaving I…

“You’ll be a shining star!” “Be sure to join a study group.” “Whatever you do, don’t fall behind on your reading.”  She held her breath, smiled from ear to ear, and declared she wasn’t going to cry as the well wishes and wisdom tumbled down the chat in her final all team Zoom. Lindsay V….

Janie (that’s what I’ll call her) has a wholehearted laugh that fills her entire being. With a round face and ever-present smile, Janie sees humor in any situation. And with years of being a therapist and an elementary school counselor, she’s seen some situations.  Janie’s effervescence is so bright that the first time her schoolteacher spouse saw her in the building he declared, “I’m going to…

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