I dreamt of jump roping last night. Fitting, I suppose, for my last dream of the year. My sisters swung the ropes (Double Dutch not to be confused with regular Jump Rope. This is an important distinction as all Double Dutchers know) the ropes slashing through the air. “C’mon” they yelled their impatience signaled by speeding up the ropes.

 I was on the cold slab of cement of my present-day garage with my speed rope.  Just beyond the Cybex were the birch trees of long ago, the one place I have ever called home. Catkins littered the exercise mat their small bodies squishing between my toes as I jumped. My rope whisked past my ears and my breath stayed steady like I was 10 again. The Birch Trees started to fade and my sister’s calls melded with the purring of my cat. Then it was all gone.  

I woke feeling happy. My thoughts raced through memories of two Square and playing Jax as I sucked on the end of a dandelion. A vivid picture of my skates- White, red wheels, pock marked from use, the laces hanging on by a thread.  Nothing fancy but they were the best skates in the world. They withstood the ridges on the left side of the driveway and the collisions with my sisters. They rolled over shitty sidewalks and rough roads and kept going.

I started to cry for my skates but really about my lost childhood. This happens a lot.  My subconscious is all about that loss. It is and has been at the heart of me since I was 5.  Then my conscious, so tired of the whininess of my sub, put the kibosh on a cry because happiness is so much better than the grief.

Take it from a GRIEF QUEEN. It is addictive—such a sad state of affairs. This addiction is subtle and you don’t realize that you are an addict because it is couched within valuable and justifiable events. Which is the worst kind of problem. It allows you to revel. A sneaky subterfuge over the years but comforting and therefore goes unnoticed. If you have seen Leaving Las Vegas there is a part where he is puking his guts out in the literal sense. The early morning light shows the pale scrub of his face, his stark profile a wretch of bone. Yet, he walks into his kitchen and pours another drink and drinks is down. This has been me with the tragedy of my childhood. I have emptied my stomach, my bowels, my veins and this pain has poured out. Yet. Year after year, I have revisited it. Drank it whole, unvarnished—craving the pain.

I almost typed People Like Me…as if I have an edge over other people on grief. That’s the sway, the hitch, the draw that keeps me at the well. This belief that my grief is so much bigger and better and deeper than yours.

I can tote out at any moment my childhood, my twenties, my thirties. My GOD, my first relationship. AND don’t get me started about my marriage with its infinite pool of ragged, weeping wounds of deception and disappointment. I have been drunk on that for 20 years.

No. If I have learned anything this year, I learned that my grief was over.

Because the grief that I saw on the faces of those ravaged by the loss of their loved ones, well…It was hard to dwell within mine anymore. Not to say that the things that happened to me aren’t valid and that there will be moments when the pain will come. But, like this morning, I choose happiness.

The people who saw their loved ones shot and killed senselessly. The mother’s who worked hours and hours and hours taking care of someone else’s child unable to see their own. Scared to see their own. Every. Single. Essential. Worker.

I have saved my tears for them.

This year had me whirling in every direction. Jumping at the slightest sound and headline. One of my resolutions for poor 2021, which really has a lot of expectations on its already beleaguered shoulders: NEVER EVER CLICK ON ANOTHER BREAKING NEWS link. EVER.

Do I need to remind you about the Never Say Die piece of shit that continues to squat in the White House? He broke in, showered and shit—in that order and you know how that goes. He has continued to eat other people’s food, steal their money, use their Health Care, rifle through their intimates, and take over their remote controls. He doesn’t pay for the house or the utilities and certainly doesn’t mow the lawn—but calls it his now. Yeah. You get where I am going, so I’ll move on because there are far too many word counts dedicated to that piece of shit.

Okay, I am back. See what I mean about the jumping. A whirling dervish.

This year, as I sheltered in place, I scrolled and saw people show casing their projects. People were productive. The cleaned, they minimized, they baked bread, and they read books. I was so jealous of all those drawers getting cleaned out.

I could barely muster getting out of bed on my weekends. There were days that I didn’t step outside the house but I clicked on each and every nature foray like a glutton. The RV’s alongside rivers and steaming coffee under the canopy of the Redwoods. My guilt and covetousness strangled me.

There I was in yesterday’s panties draining Netflix, Hulu, Prime, and even Apple. (Ted Lasso, though…LOVED THIS SO MUCH!)

I did read books because, well that’s my auto pilot. BUT it took me many months to be able to read without checking for news every other minute. Shanyn got her groove back in October when hope seemed within the grasp of the American People (-74million, can’t forget those assholes) I read books in devouring batches interspersed by working 10-hour days and worrying about everything.

Terror filled me every day.

Last January I had known about the pandemic for months but at that time it was some mysterious pneumonia or flu that was spoken of in twitter whispers by accounts that couldn’t be verified. I was gun shy after all the Russian Bots that helped hack mofo into the White House. But, if you are like me, I follow and read things that don’t agree with my personal viewpoint simply because I AM NOT ALWAYS right and I like to be proven wrong.


Because, it is healthy to challenge your viewpoints, your belief systems, your conclusions. If they don’t hold up under scrutiny, I find the loophole and fix it.

I wake up everyday trying to better than yesterday or at least I used to. 2020 had me waking up every day just hoping to get through the day without someone I know dying.

I live in a county that is predominantly conservative and this Bay Area Girl has never felt at home here. EVER.

I went from open windows all the time to AC and hiding from the sun. Leading up to the 2016 election life became unbearable so by the time the reign of terror really started I was already on my way to becoming batshit crazy.

So, 2020…well there was a silver lining. It was that I was the normal one.

In March my family was already wearing masks and I will admit. GLOVES. Everywhere. I was ridiculed at my health club for going in and freezing my account for 6 months. People laughed at me at the store and made fun of me at work. Subtly, of course.

Here’s the thing. Due to my history, I am used to being different. To not fitting in. So, it never stopped me from cleaning my groceries while the neighbors scoffed. But it had been a very long time since I was terrified.

Terrified was for those late nights many years ago when I had no where to go at 2am. When I slept in parks and cars and hoped to find a shower somewhere. A terror so deep that one day I sat in a park on one beautiful summer day and planned out a bank robbery. Gun. Costumes. Seriously. I did that.


  1. I didn’t like the odds.
  2. I didn’t trust my partner
  3. My grandma used to take me to this bank when I was little and I felt bad.

I will tell that story another time. MAYBE.

When I look back over the year all I see are the walls of my home office. All I can smell is bleach and alcohol.

I feel like I can’t breathe when I look back over 2020.

I hear people talking about 2021 as if there is some miracle that is going to happen at midnight and suddenly everyone will be able to pay their bills, go back to work, and hug each other again.

I shudder. In normal years it always takes me until at least March to understand the lessons of the previous year. That’s usually when I assign a word to my year and try to live with it. Last years was Balance and Magic. (I am still trying to unpack the ramifications of these words in my life,)

I do know I found gratitude. In great big gulps that made me feel like I was drowning in my own guilt.

As I worked 10 hours days others were losing their jobs. As I caught up on my bills and shopped prodigiously on Amazon, others prayed to pay their utility bills and hoped God would hear their prayers about the rent that was coming due.

Not only did I have a job, my job is a nonprofit that helps people. Yeah. I know. I am a fucking spoiled bitch.

Mixed in with these blessings was that my marriage ended in shards of glass, more ugly words than I thought was possible (especially after 20 years of them), and then of course me taking him back.

Let’s take inventory:

Good job. Amazing boss. Dedicated colleagues.

Kids who did awesome at virtual learning

Bills paid.

Worst marriage ever

I will talk about my babies. My oldest got COVID-19. BAD.  But she is okay now except for the aftereffects. I worry for her future health but I am so glad that she is here and that I get to hug her, which I do as often as I can.

My other two ended their school year and started their new one online. They were left alone most of the week while I went to work. This resulted in them getting the first B’s of their lives. AND you will be disappointed to know that I was disappointed in this. My kids are GATE and Honors kids. I had and still do in many ways, get my feeling of accomplishment from their astounding intelligence. They make me look good at report card time. GOOD MOM is what Gold Honor Rolls says.

I am not ashamed to say this because there will always be a part of me that is super proud of my kids smarts. Their drive to do well. It fights off this 8th grade drop- out’s inner demons.

They struggled and are still struggling with this format which means those that have a harder time with school must be flailing. I am so scared for those kids and think of them every day. All those children, their parents feeling powerless and scared too.

There were a lot of changes in my kids lives and my anxiety has me losing sleep trying to figure out a way to be in two places at once so I can right the ship.

Going into 2021 I have ZERO RESOLUTIONS.

What I do have is good equipment for the journey…



A greater appreciation for frozen foods from Trader Joe’s

A Realistic view of myself

The satisfaction that I was right about wearing fucking masks before it became a mandate.

A satiation of staying home and not doing anything that has resulted in a fervor for a life lived.

I refuse to put parameters around my growth and my journey for 2021. I refuse to expect or ask of 2021 anything miraculous. Because, we don’t need miraculous so much as we need hard work, science, and integrity. Instead of placing impossible demands on 2021, we should be placing demands on ourselves.

As I tell my children.

Ask yourself the hard questions and answer honestly.


As I consider the upcoming year and how that reflects on America…it looks more and more like the Garage Clean up that looms every couple of years at my house.

Some of you know what I am talking about. The one that starts in the garage but ends up involving scouring the house for crap that is then piled for all to see in front of your house, on the curb waiting for pick up. (There are of course those hours , maybe days, in which you despise every person in your household and most of all yourself for the mess you’ve made.)

At the end though, there I stand with hair frizzed out of my pony tail, dirt smeared on my face, and my back aching like I am 80. There is pizza or juicy hamburgers and delicious drinks of iced elderberry tea. There is that book you’ve been looking for and that lamp you didn’t know you had. There are hugs and high-fives. There is camaraderie and a sense of unity.

The culmination is a restructuring, a remaking, a re-do of your space.

This is what I expect from 2021.

Showing Up.

Showing up is not an easy thing to do. I proved that by flaking out on myself for years.

 And, NO, that isn’t HIS fault.

 It is MINE.

I’ve been taking a long hard look at what showing up means. After listening and reading and scrolling I saw that showing up means a lot of different things, to a lot of different people. I knew I needed to figure this out for myself. How could I know that I had failed, if I didn’t know what I was failing at?

For me, showing up means showing up for yourself, your kids, your community…there’s a lot more to it than facials and bubble baths.

I forgive myself for not showing up for me for years.  I did the best I could, at the time. Was it my personal best? Nope. But it was the best I had. All those times that I RSVP-ed: NO to my life suck, but I can’t get a do-over.

Shanyn, I am sorry you let yourself down and fucked off some really important things.

 I forgive you.


The alternative is a lifetime of recrimination. Oh, wait. I’ve already done that for half my life.

 I forgive myself for that, too.


Here’s the thing, Showing Up is also about asking the hard questions and answering honestly.


It means taking responsibility for my actions, my choices, and my lack of action despite how bad my life has been.

When I woke this morning, I felt too tired to get out of bed, so I lay there, and ignored the vibration that calls me to meet the sun as it rises.  My eyes were heavy and somewhere in me I knew the day was going to be too hard to hold.  I considered letting it hold itself. But, my orange planner had WRITING: BOOK 2, written just above my accountability homework.  

Showing Up means not letting yourself off the hook when you have important things to do.

I got up and fed Smokey Magic, who had stayed out all night, and was doing the rub of shame on the screen door. I let her in and asked her if she had a good time, because really– #yolo .

I took it slow and I left myself alone. I didn’t chide me for not wanting to go have coffee outside in my chair, facing the sun.

I boiled the water and ground the beans. Because, showing up for myself means making the best damn cup of coffee that I can. Every day, but most especially on the weekends.

I felt a heaviness in my chest and my heart beat a warning. Part of my unease, I confided to the orchids, is that Monday is my 18th anniversary.

Showing up means facing the hard shit. The kids are with their Dad and I am ripe for a cry fest. A 48-hour layover in MY BED and that would be OKAY, if that was one of the honest answers to the hard question. Unfortunately, if I did that it would be a cop out.  Showing up sucks.  

I had already let myself off the hook yesterday by laying on my bed, crying, and eating two too many pieces of chocolate cake. Instead of yoga and writing. Though, the bills written in bright orange in my planner, demanded that I wipe the ganache from the corners of my mouth and face my fears.

 I had reluctantly gotten my files and my budget and turned on my laptop. No matter how many times I run the numbers, I just don’t have enough. It has been truly daunting taking over all the bills and the overhead, all by myself. It means that I am budgeted down to the last 26 cents in my wallet.

July tried its personal best to kick my ass. A broken washing machine, glass in the garbage disposal, new rotors and brakes…FUCK ME. There were several days I wanted to crawl into bed like I used to and just stay there. Curtains drawn against the mail box and the overwhelming demands of the world.

I didn’t. I got up every day and went to work.

The stress feels like a weighted blanket that I can’t take off. I stopped myself and took a breath every time I wanted to yell at the kids and asked, where is this coming from? Okay. That’s a lie. There were several times I just yelled. Then, I took a breath and asked myself the hard question: Am I taking my stress out on them? The answer was obvious as most truth is and so, I apologized for my assholeness.  Then I asked them not to be assholes. Because both things can be true at the same time.

Two days of letting myself off the hook would mean that I am also not working toward my dream of finishing my second book and doing the work on selling the first one. I thought about the question I have written above my desk, copied from a friend—Where will you be in 10 years?

I drank my coffee and acknowledged my sadness. Then I went on my bike ride and didn’t go the extra mile that I had planned. I promised myself that I would do that tomorrow. And I will. Because I am gaining trust by following through.

When I got home my phone rang and when I answered it was my father. I have spoken to him twice in 18 years, counting this morning.

My father, who I have been estranged from for most of my life, is dying of cancer. About a year ago my estranged half siblings called to tell me the horrible news, along with the rules and regulations regarding how they wanted to control my talking and seeing my Dad. They are a great example of letting your kids be assholes and then they grow up and become adult assholes. They tried to co-opt my Dad’s diagnosis into their drama and drag me right along with them.

I explained to them calmly and clearly. NO. I won’t go pay homage to my father knowing he regrets nothing and no I won’t come over there so you all can take your unhappy lives and fear and anger out on me.

I took a week and let myself grieve for the fact that my father would not be calling someday to say he was sorry, that he loved me, and the he would love to see me. No, my father wanted my attention and my body so he could reassure himself that he wasn’t the asshole who fucked up his kids lives on a grand scale.

Showing up for myself meant that I gave myself permission not to go see my Dad and to opt out of dealing with his kids. It also meant ignoring their bullshit regulations and calling my Dad, anyway. I listened to him that day, as he went through all that he was going through, without saying one mean thing. After he was done telling me the horror of his experience, I wished him well and got off the phone.

I cried for two days and then went on with my already fucked up life.

Today, he called to tell me that he is much worse. His voice was older than I remembered and when he called himself my Dad, another piece of my heart tore off. He was matter of fact, running through his cancer experience. Each day that he lives is a miracle and he is thankful to Jesus for that. He has help and people are caring for him. It is, what it is, he repeated so many times that I realized he was trying to convince himself, not me.

I waited for him to finish and then I told him what I have never said. Speaking of Jesus, I began. At the end of what I told him, which I will not share here, I told him that I forgave him and that I loved him and that I am so sorry that he is going through this. My voice shook as I have not told my father that I love him in at least 30 years.  

That is when the heaviness on my chest lifted. Tears slid down my face as he responded to my words and we got off the phone promising to talk soon.

I showed up for my Dad. That was hard.

As I sat there, the silence of my house surrounding me, I realized that I needed to face another hard thing. Something that I have not wanted to really bring out and look at in the light. That is, how the relationship with my Dad has affected my relationship with my husband. This is especially difficult because Monday is coming, a looming reminder of the destruction of my hopes and dreams.

Showing up for myself means examining my marriage for the ways that I let it down. The ways I let Him down. It also means that I am working toward forgiving myself for letting him and our marriage down. For letting myself down.

It means that I must sit in this pain, accept it, and then move through it until I get to the other side– no matter what that looks like.

 And I am fucking scared to take my marriage out and examine it honestly. I am sure to see things that I know I could have done better. I am sure to be shamed by things that I have said. It is so much easier to make him the villain. After all, he is such a fabulous villain.

But, many years ago, when I was in a yearlong women’s shelter for abused women, they asked me some question when I first got there. They told me not to answer them but to think about it, and answer myself.

Why did you love him? Why did you choose him? Why did you choose to stay? This was by no means an excuse for what that past man did to me. Nor is this an excuse for the things that my husband has said and done to me.

What it is, is asking the hard questions and answering honestly. This is about healing and forgiving. This is about taking account of my own heart and becoming connected with my soul.

I choose to believe that this portion of my path needs to be lived. It is the lesson I am learning. I spent so much time living for someday. I want to live today.

Even if it means that today is about crying.

For my Dad.

For my marriage.

It also means that I will let myself have two pieces of my most excellent Chocolate Ganache Cake, while I lay indolently on my lonely bed, and watch Swedish noir.


I woke this morning and watered the garden. I nurtured the trees. I walked around the house caring for the plants in every room. Even your old room, where plants never used to grow. There is one there now. It sits bravely in the corner where you hid out for years. I have changed this room. I have brightened it, opened it up to all. I have painted bookshelves and created a semi-circle of inclusion, arraying the furniture around the family portrait taken on that long-ago day.  The very same day that our son was born.

I sat in my chair, directly across from where your chair used to be. But now, instead of facing a dark corner, I am looking at the picture that was taken by a photo journalist on Easter morning.

Somehow, I had managed to get both the girls into their Easter dresses, white gloves, and hats at 5:30am. I had put on the prettiest dress I owned and a hat, despite the ache of our son’s weight bearing down on me.

I wanted us to be something we were not. The gloves, the hats, you wearing slacks at 6am. Was that one of the signs that you loved me? The slacks at 6am?  Instead of kissing me was that what you did instead?

The photographer froze my image mid contraction.  I am looking down, breathing through it, and our oldest has placed her hand on my stomach, on her brother. You are holding our youngest daughter; both of your faces are obscured. Only the blackened bottoms of her sandals show. And your hands, holding her firmly.

I have always loved your hands. Strong and capable and secure. The wedding ring that you have not worn for a long, long time shines from the tight grip you have on our daughter.

Our faces are obscured. Our sadness is hidden from view by hats and gloves and your wedding ring.

The picture had been posted on the front page of the newspaper the next day. We had no idea that we had been photographed. It was the next day that the nurses came in laughing, the front page of that section opened to our family. We looked at it over the head of our newborn and we smiled at the nurses. I remember wanting so badly for that picture to be a symbol that things would be better. That we would be, what I wanted us to be, and not what we had become.  

Later, that night, as the hospital slept, I picked up the paper and as it always goes, I saw clearly in the dark. I could see that the edges of the photo contained the fantasy and that outside those borders, lay the reality that I couldn’t understand. So, pushed it aside, and held our newborn, brushing my lips over his beautiful head, breathing in the scent of hope.

I got up and I watered the first plant to survive in your old room.  I moved onto the others in the next room. The orchids and the vines in the front window. The ferns and the rubber plants, their vibrancy filling me with their energy. Lastly, in the corner, tall and slender, her stalk too thin to keep her upright, is the first plant you ever bought me and I think the last.

I remember your small smile when I told you that her name was Stacy and feeling your eyes on me as I placed her on top of the TV cabinet you bought for me. That little apartment, the one I could barely afford as a single mom, looked so real to me with my first ever brand-new piece of furniture, and Stacy sitting proudly on top.

Now she sits on the floor, too tall for the top of anything. Stacy reaches for the sky though she is root bound. She is 19 years old. She bends and folds when it gets windy and I am afraid that when I do find the courage to replant her, that she will not come out of the pot, her soil so hardened. She has become used to making do with what she has. Will she die if I try to change that? Even, if what I am offering her is better and healthier and new?

This morning I wanted to go upstairs and lie in bed with you. Snuggle up to your back and whisper boo on that small mole on your back that looks like a ghost. I wanted to draw silent letters on your back like I used to, my breath a whisper on your neck, my breasts pushed against your broad back. I’d whisper, guess. Your deep voice would rumble out the right answer every time.  

I miss you.

I love you.


What happened?

Why wasn’t I enough?

I can’t do that, though. And I couldn’t have done that even when you were here because you slept in your chair or on the couch in your room downstairs. The space around you growing smaller each day until finally it held just a table, a TV, your remote, and you. The wall around you let no sunlight in. Or questions. Or concerns. The TV lights flickered on your face of stone. You sat, just under the portrait, turned away, your back to what we were. What we had.

I want my family back. The hope and the promise that is contained in that portrait from so long ago. I want to feel as if things will get better. That your bitter words and their definitions of me will change and that you will come, your strong hands knocking at the door that you once had a key to…and that I would open that door to a face full of remorse and longing for me. For our family. For us.

I want that so bad that my days scroll through the hours, my tasks, my conversations are all a montage and the song playing as my life rolls by makes me yearn for you.

But, the you I want, is not the you, that you are.

You tell me that you gave me your all and I ache so bad that I feel as if I will split open like rotted fruit and ooze out all my wasted flesh. 

I want to howl. If your all was the words that you have left me, the silences, the curl of disgust on your lips when your hand or hip accidentally brushed mine. If your all, was the wall that you built around your corner in the family room, just under the portrait–if that was your all, then I built a whole life based on a dream destination and now I am left with a mirage.

Wanting your love, hoping for your love, begging for your love with each packed lunch and hot dinner. I thought, that someday would come. So, I ignored so much of our every day.

I lay on the couch that you used as a bed and your smell is gone.  I am trying to find the signs, the gestures, the lights at the horizon to find my way. But I am drowning in a sea of sorrow and regret.

I want to wake up with you next to me. The promise of the day like shafts of sunlight on my face and I want to roll over and write on your back…

Come back.

My heart doesn’t know how to let go of my hopes and dreams and goals for our future. My heart doesn’t know how to stop loving you. It never understood how to do that no matter how cruel you were. Instead, my heart stopped loving me, so it could conserve all its energy to continue loving and hoping and withstanding you.

My heart has made-do for so long that I am not sure it can survive this replanting.