ARG, I have missed the last  10 Think Kit posts – Here is the one I began on Day #9 (Tell us about something that surprised you this year) and did not finish until today.

As I am sitting in the surgical family lounge area of St. Vincent’s hospital, I suppose I’ll say my surprise this year was that I would have to be here at all, anxiously waiting while my dad underwent brain surgery.  He has had a non-cancerous tumor in his brain for years, and it was deemed so slow-growing that it would likely never affect him in any way during his remaining years. (he is 72, after all).  However, in the past few months his depth perception and peripheral vision have gone downhill significantly, and the scans showed that as slow as it was growing, it was growing into bad places – affecting the optic nerves of his eyes.  Without surgery, he would eventually go blind.  So at 6am I met my mother here to have him admitted for today’s surgery.  The surgeon came in and said it might be a lengthy surgery, but should be fairly straightforward.  Then the anesthesiologist came in to talk about all the lines they’d be putting in him to keep track of all the things that could go wrong – blood pressure, loss of too much blood, keeping him dehydrated so his brain would shrink and it would be easier to get to the tumor.  Scared the hell out of me, because I know he’s not the healthiest guy around.  Scared my dad enough that when it was time to kiss him goodbye and wish him good luck, he started to cry.

Then the waiting.

After about 4 hours, we got the word that the surgeon was ready to talk to us, and we were filled with trepidation – why does he want to talk to us after only 4 hours, when it was supposed to be an 8-hour surgery?  Tight with tension, my family entered the consultation room — to get the good news that the surgery was so much easier than expected and not a single thing went wrong.  There was the good surprise!  We all went home greatly relieved.

At 6am the next morning, my mom called to tell me that dad’s breathing and heart had stopped at 4am.  He was resuscitated, but was now sedated and on a respirator.  Get this:  she had been called by the nurses at 4am, asking her to come to the hospital, and that they were sending St. Vincent security to pick her up.  She was met by the CHAPLAIN.  Can you imagine the fear?  Then she couldn’t get into the room to see him, because he was surrounded by the trauma team who was “working on him.”  Horrible surprise.

There has been quite a bit of progress and healing since that day, but each day continues to bring its own surprise – sometimes a great one, like improved coordination, but sometimes a bad one, like infection.  We’re hanging in there, and I think getting back to these #thinkkit posts whenever possible will help me keep my sanity in the midst of all this unknown.


Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul. –Dorothy Day

“How do  you want to be involved in your community this year?”*

This is a topic I’ve been musing for the past couple weeks.  I tend to enjoy the doing, rather than sitting on a board or being on the fundraising committee.  After  reading “Toxic Charity” by Robert D. Lupton, I’m much more interested in educating than in mere giving.  I can narrow it down even further in that my heart leans towards helping families, even more specifically towards children.  I have tutored homeless schoolkids through School on Wheels before, and this is tugging at me again. I wonder where else I can serve?

This question is being asked down the well of my soul, and there seems only to be echoes, no answers.  I often feel that I am doing so little to make the world a better place.  I have friends who are social workers, nurses, teachers of all stripes, or they actively work for nonprofit agencies doing great work for those in need. It concerns me that I spend my 40+ hours a week in marketing, and it has always been in the technology field of some sort.  My current employer counts many not-for profits as customers, and we often discount our services in exchange for acknowledgement from the podium, being part of the corporate logo loop, or being listed in the event program, but that’s just business – more marketing.  My day-to-day seems so far removed from meaningful work.  *Sigh.*  We all want to feel worthy, si?

I’d love to hear suggestions.

*This blog post is part of the SmallBox Thinkkit blog prompts – one per day in the month of December. Want to join us?

The most logical explanation I’ve heard, with no political euphemisms to confuse. I support raising the minimum wage, and I encourage you to read this well-written essay.


A dozen years ago, John Boehner was chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor and I was the staff director for the panel’s Democratic majority.  For five years, I participated in regular planning meetings with Chairman Boehner and the Committee’s Ranking Democrat, George Miller, my long-time employer on Capitol Hill, and Boehner’s staff director, Paula Nowakowski, with whom I had a good working relationship.

Despite deep differences of opinion on many issues before the Committee, Miller and Boehner were able to find common ground and produce major legislation, including the signature legislative achievement of President Bush’s first term, the No Child Left Behind education reform law.  The two congressmen had a friendly and candid relationship based around the proposition that each would tell the other how far he could realistically go in search of a compromise.  

Part of our regular meetings involved Miller proposing areas of legislation in…

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Love_heartToday’s Think Kit prompt: Talk To Someone!  

Interview at least one other person about their favorite moments of the year. Share what you heard.

I was fairly sure that if I interviewed anyone at work, they’d wonder why I was bothering them with such “nonsense” at the busiest time of the year – so I interviewed my kids.  “What was your favorite thing about 2013?” The 13-year-old didn’t hesitate at all about the highlight of her year:  conquering her fear of roller coasters.  Now she’s a fiend and can’t get enough of them.  The 17-year-old said, “Well, you know, my mission trip to Honduras.”  I pressed, “But what was the most special part of that trip?”  “Oh, Mom…you know.”  This was over text, by the way, so hardly fodder for a blog post.  It was my 15-year-old son, a kid of few words, whose answer made really made me smile.  He said simply, “Hannah.”  Because the boy is in the throes of First Love and he’s not afraid to tell anyone.  Did I say it made me smile?  It does. It also breaks my heart.

This is no reverse Oedipal complex.  The object of his love is a darling girl, from a wonderful family, and I adore her.  No, the mixed emotions come from seeing my little boy, the one who got in trouble in preschool for peeing on the playground, the one who used to run around in batman pajamas and a cape for days at a time, the one I used to have lightsaber fights with…he’s growing up.  He is in Love with a capital L.  He wants to protect this lovely girl from everyone and everything.  When she is feeling sad and talking it out on the phone, he actually listens, and then can have her laughing by the end of the conversation.  Get this: he will actually go shopping with her and her whole family just to be near her.

I can see into the future, though, and know that there will be a breakup, and that he will experience the opposite of heady infatuation.  He will, in fact, be so heartbroken that he will think his life is over, that he will never love anyone else to that depth again.   I don’t know if I’ll be able to comfort him in any way.  It will be the first time that neither food nor a new Xbox game will cheer him up.

For now, I will just look on while he loves, grows, and learns.  Any mothers have sage advice for me?

This year, I moved to a new church.  For those who don’t count church as a regular part of their life, this won’t sound monumental, but you churchy folks will get it.

I’d been steadily attending a Catholic church for over 12 years.  I had  converted to the faith, had held several lay positions and even co-led mission trips.  I was part of both the church and the school community, and it seemed like our life revolved around this entity, but that began to change.  I wish I could put a finger on a single event that predicated the decision to leave, but I can’t.  It was a slow drift.  Rituals that were formerly comforting became rote.  Hymns that used to inspire had become lip service.  I felt spiritually bereft, yet….. in 12 years, I had grown to love my church community, and had formed an especially tight bond with a small group of women I’d shared a retreat with.  That kept me showing up for a few more months, but that’s all I was doing.  Showing up.

Wanting so much to feel renewed, I took a chance and visited a different church on the first Sunday of 2013.  Alone.  And I entered to NOISE!  People talking, getting coffee, music playing over the loudspeakers….it was a little discombobulating, but it drew me in.  The music and singing began, and it was contemporary Christian music, the kind you hear on the radio.  I’m a big music person, so we were off to a great start.  The pastor was dressed casually and kinda bounced around, gesticulating wildly while delivering the message that day that was heavy with Scripture but applicable to present day….and it spoke to me.  I was picking up what he was laying down.  I walked out light in step and spirit, excited to tell my husband about this adventure.

It was a strange five months while my husband remained with the music ministry at the Catholic church until summer, and I instead was attending the new church.  On his two visits during this time, he too was captivated, but this was an awkward time.  I’d see my Catholic church friends but never get around to mentioning that I had changed churches. I felt I was betraying them….but did it really need to be announced?  I wasn’t sure. The relationships hadn’t changed; we still talked about our families and jobs, as we always had.  I was truly straddling the two communities, and not very comfortably.

Eleven months later, and I have let everyone know that my heart has settled at a new church, but my love for them is unchanged.  We may have one less thing in common now, but I think the friendships are strong enough to overcome that.   I am finally at peace with the decision. I feel re-energized, centered in my faith, and curious to see what the future holds for me here.  It was a decision made in a matter of an hour, but it took almost a year to bring it to full fruition.  Needed time to ripen, I suppose.

This was written with the Think Kit prompt “What was the wisest decision you made this year? Did it change your “everyday”, move something from Point A to Point B, or involve others?”  Smallbox is behind this devilry, emailing a prompt each day in December.  I think I’m going to like it.

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox, wherein participants receive a writing prompt each day of December.  I’m behind, but catching up RIGHT NOW!

The first prompt was to sum up my year in photos, and I found myself flummoxed by this. I waded through all the photos of fun family vacations with my husband and three teens, and though I can see we’ve had a great time this year, those weren’t the photos that spoke to me.  I have photos of our new kitten (adopted May 1) and our new puppy (adopted November 13), which could relate to readers some new beginnings in our home, but those weren’t the ones I wanted, either.

It was the photos I took on my “noticing” walks that called out to me.  For this blog, I took a series of photos around my neighborhood of the details that most people wouldn’t notice: interesting shadows, tiny objects, plants growing in the cracks of concrete.  This is where my mind likes to live – in the noticing and noting.

In this same frame of mind, I offer this one photo as a reflection of my year:

On my right wrist.

On my right wrist.

It represents my “noticing” this year that I am not fully living the life I was meant to.

I work in a very conservative environment (politically and sartorially) and had to think very hard before getting this tattoo, despite its deep meaning to me and the fact that it speaks volumes about my moral and religious beliefs.  I felt strongly enough about expressing myself that I forged ahead.  A small victory to most, but a big one for my soul.

It also reminds me that though I take peace & justice very seriously, someone looking at my day-to-day life would not know that about me.  I intend to change that, whether it be working on behalf of the marginalized through more volunteer work or through a new job. I’m excited about this prospect.

Thanks, #thinkkit, for making me think deeply.

Actually, it might be more – I’m starting to lose track.  All these big, bulging muscles of mine are distracting my brain and affecting its memory function.  KIDDING.  Seriously, though – I am starting to see some definition in my upper body, which is AWESOME.  I’m still doing weenie knee push-ups, but I can do more than I could a month ago.  I still have to use a box to jump up to the bar for pull-ups, but I can get my chin higher now.  I’m using more than the training bar for split jerks, overhead squats, etc.  Psyched.  I do think my big goal right now is do 10 “real” push-ups and a few pull-ups.  The day that I can do pull-ups….major milestone for me, I’ll be grinning all day.

Bad news:  I have not lost a pound.  I actually joined for the fitness aspect, but kinda sorta hoped a few pounds would disappear.  BUT – good news:  I have GAINED new confidence & toughness.  Example:  yesterday, I went for a RUN.  R-U-N.  I never run.  I hate to run.  It wasn’t a CF day though, and I felt like I should do SOMETHING, so I decided to run, despite the fact that it was 90 degrees and ten kinds of humid outside.  I ran a route through my neighborhood that was just under 2 miles.  Not a long way, I know – but I NEVER RUN.  I didn’t stop or slow down even once.  Heat?  Pfft.  Aching legs?  Please.  After surviving  workouts of the day (WODs) in a gym (box) with no air conditioning, I have discovered I am actually not a dainty little flower.  (*Grin*)

Besides improving my strength & health, CrossFit has taught me how to physically persevere; that no matter how much it hurts or makes me feel like I’m going to puke, I will actually be fine (after I get off the floor).  This is a good lesson to learn.  Who knows what other barriers  – mental or physical – I might break?  It’s going to be fun to see how this plays out in other parts of my life.  I’ll let you know.

Peace, all –


Welcome to Part Two of my little love letter to the neighborhood, in which I show you some of the fun things in the ‘hood.

I am a big fan of gates.   Who builds this kind anymore?


Love this one, especially the red door……


A stone gate leading to….?


Who is photographing who?


I love the shadow that this garden art creates…..


Prettiest front door in the neighborhood!


Awesome way to recycle old tires!


Got an old stump in your yard?  Why not provide a public service? LOL


Darling little shed.

I have so many more photos, but this concludes my Ode to Warfleigh, at least for now.   Thanks for checking in.

I love my neighborhood.  I love Broad Ripple in general, but I love MY part of BR, called Warfleigh (and pronounced “War-flay”), tremendously.  It’s quirky.  Many different households here; neighbors who have been here for 30 years or more, singles, families with young children, empty nesters.  Yet what I really appreciate is the variety of houses in such a small area – a range of materials, styles, and sizes.

For instance:  there are two Lustron homes in our neighborhood.  If you’ve not heard of a Lustron home, they are prefabricated steel houses, launched in the 1940s.  The parts were shipped to you, with directions, and you built it yourself.  All steel, inside and out, with enamel ceramic on the outside.  Never needed painting.  The catch?  You couldn’t use nails to hang anything – only magnets!  Here are a couple in the ‘hood:



This has the added loveliness of 8 pink flamingos.

Our homes come in a great range of sizes, too, from the tall…


…to the Small.


A few more examples of Warfleigh home diversity:


Those familiar to Broad Ripple:  I KNOW!  Huge, amazing lot!


This makes me feel as though I should have a nice, dainty cup of tea…..


This one has been written about in the Indianapolis Star – I’ll dig for that and post the link when I find it.  This is facing the canal, thus the balcony and awning on top.  I guess it’s waterfront property if it’s facing the canal?  🙂  Notice the black wrought-iron spiderweb doors..

If you know what style of homes these are, please feel free to comment and enlighten me.  I’m a fan of historical architecture and would like to learn more.

See you next time, when I’ll post the Details Of Warfleigh — interesting things I’ve noticed in the neighborhood, peeking from landscaping, or on the chimney….you’ll just have to wait and see.

Shane Claiborne on living like Jesus and a Christian response to homosexuality.  I love this.  Don’t let Shane’s appearance fool you, by the way – he is brilliant.

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