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The Afterglow in the Vortex

A polar vortex is a BIG MOOD, isn't it? A week after our return from the subtropics, I'm trying to draw out the sun-doping afterglow long enough to use it to refresh my creative work--and my regular day job work, and life in general.

When I go away for a long time, I always hope that problems I left undone in my wake will have been resolved or at least forgotten by the time I get back. Usually, that is the case. The stuff we stress about when we're due for a break is often way less important than we think it is before we regain our perspective.

This time, though, hmmmm. I left in a polar vortex storm and came back in another one. And then survived another one. My daughter has now had 11 snow days, and they aren't all for the quantities of snow so much as icy, windy conditions and the sort of cold that seasoned Michiganders are describing as "offensive" and "insulting."

At work, my comrades are hang-dog weary. The bad moods I left behind in my nonpr…
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Snowbirds, Snow Leopards, and Other Exotic Beasts

It's February! How are your New Year's resolutions holding up? I am slaying my goal to BE BESTIAL, and it is making me feel like a natural woman.

When the record-shattering Midwest polar vortex struck during the record-smashing government shutdown, instead of going into hibernation mode as we would normally do, this time my family took a harrowing chance on migration--and we made it! And sweet baby Zeus, it was satisfying. We took the snowbird route from Michigan to Florida, traveling with my parents and brother to visit my mother-in-law (Nonna) in Pasco County. Nonna is no longer a snowbird, having settled permanently in the Sunshine State; she has now evolved into a snow leopard (explanation to follow below).

The timing of our trip could not have been better. We slipped out and back into Michigan right between two catastrophic winter storms and two government shutdowns, and we managed to take a long vacation during the school year with no more than two absences on record f…

Yeet Me Into the Sun

I don't know exactly what "yeet me into the sun" means, but my daughter and her friends think it sounds hilarious, so they say it just to hear each other giggle. They also laugh at buzzwords that are familiar to me from my work in social justice and my own personal healing--like "anxiety" and "triggered"--not in a mean way but in a cleverly playful way, which I think is healthy and gives me hope for the kids these days. So yeet me into the sun that my triggers and anxiety may be pwned.


I am looking forward to taking a break from both my day job and my creative work-in-progress to spend some quality time with my daughter and other family. We are going someplace sunny during this brutally cold time in the Midwest. And it's not just the weather I'm talking about.

Social justice is the Lord's work if there is any, but damn if it isn't hard. Hateful, ignorant people are the easy part. They can be ignored, dismissed, deleted, blocked, or ask…

Sleepover Success

My second grader has now completed one sleepover party as a guest and another as the hostess! I don't usually do this, because I'm faking my way through life just like everyone else, but I feel so good about how happily both of these occasions went that I have compiled a list of tips for a successful slumber party, whether your child is a guest or a host.


For Hosts
It is so wonderful to have a day of recovery after the party ends. For example, if the children will be spending Friday night to Saturday morning, don't plan to do anything but nap on Sunday.Try to invite guests who all know at least one other guest besides the host. If possible, choose a group that has something in common--all acquaintances from the same school or scout troop or church or neighborhood. Ensure that your home is a safe environment, and be prepared to discuss accident prevention, rules, and emergency plans with parents who may have concerns. (All parents will have concerns, of course, and some of th…

(Almost) 10-Year Challenge: Remember Unshopping?

Does anyone remember that old buzzword, before KonMari fever sparked joy and rage in equal measure, because Americans love following self-help instructions and also because outrage sparks joy for Americans?

And will anyone remember the 10-year aging challenge on Facebook 10 years from now? (If Facebook still exists in 10 years, I guess "Memories" will remind us.)


Anyway, looking back at my old Facebook photos and my old posts on the Magic Nutshell, it seems that a decade of aging has transferred all the fat from my cheeks to my... other cheeks. Also, I started writing about unshopping (the trend that could have prevented the massive need for the tidying-up trend) almost a decade ago. And I obviously did not make up this concept; it's as old as civilization, probably, and had already become A Thing before the economy recovered from the recession and America began its mindless consuming again in earnest.

When I wrote about unshopping in 2010, I was a lot snarkier than swee…

Happiness Is a Slumber Party

Last year, my daughter attended her first birthday slumber party, and she had the time of her life. For her birthday this year, she wants us to host one. I'm excited about it myself!


Last weekend, I took my daughter to her favorite tween store's post-holiday clearance sale, and we chose some party favors for her guests. (And also some cool new fashions for her, such as these boots "like Mama wears." Oh, my heart!)

The cashier at the tween store asked me if I had planned lots of activities for the party. "Nope," I said. I have absolute faith in little girls to come up with their own sweet little games and activities. No helicoptering or parental micro-managing of fun will happen under my roof! I'll set up a safe and welcoming environment, set the ground rules, give a tour of facilities and refreshments and playthings, and let them do as they please, within the guidelines (no unsupervised use of online devices, for example).

The way I see it, slumber parti…

Journaling for Millennia, Not Just for Millennials

Despite my best efforts to promote the call to "BE BESTIAL," it seems that one of the hottest New Year's resolutions this year is... journaling.

While that isn't a very "bestial" practice at all, it is kinda visceral if you do it by hand in a stream of disorganized consciousness. People with lives fancy enough to allow the time and space for rumination and anxiety disorders have been journaling as self-care since ancient times. As Candida Moss writes for The Daily Beast,

Apparently many wealthy, educated [ancient] Roman men struggled with feelings of anxiety. These were men who were already trying to live what we might call 'self-aware' lives: they studied philosophy, they lived in moderation, and they tried to regulate their behaviors. And yet, all the same, they would feel psychic distress. Anxiety, it turns out, is not just a modern phenomenon that only affects 'spoiled millennials;' it is actually a millennia-old condition. Roman author…