Into the Breach


Someone told me once that the more you read, the better a writer you become. Maybe someone was right about someone, but they’re not right about me. When I read too much, I lose my voice; I fall in love with their stories and cannot find the beginning of the spool of my own. That’s all well and good, until I realize one day I am holding my breath and my chest stings with sinewy tension from holding my unrealized words at bay, which I never even decided to do.

Kathryn asked me what I was going to write. We have been friends for lifetimes. Our skins bear remnants of the ashes of each other’s fires and the salted circles of each others’ tears. “I don’t know. I have no idea. That’s why I write.” We laughed- a shared reality, both funny and slightly bitter at the backend. She is a writer, too.

Never in my life has anything  looked like I thought it would. Never. Not a single thing. No painting, no essay, no book, no child, no marriage. They’ve all been better, greater, deeper, more painful, richer, breathtaking, harder…when juxtaposed agains my feeble imagination and the impetus leading me to pick up brush or pen. Always.

Silhouetted against the inky night glass, Kathryn asked me what I am afraid of. “Sharks.” She snickers. Our conversations are years old. I am knitting quietly, outside the circle of amber light cast by the low lamp, but my fingers and the roving know this rhythm and their tightly woven patterns seem to free my mind to wander and find the real answer.

I try and find the thread, that tiny place where there is a real answer to her question. She will laugh with me, but really she is gently coaxing me to look where I am afraid to look. She says nothing while I run the soft yarn between my fingers. She is holding space, protecting my margins, while I reacquaint myself with the dark.

I am afraid of the thousands of tiny moments of light and brilliance that make up the life of a person being lost, and forgotten, and swallowed by the breach. I am not afraid of dying; I am afraid of our stories— our precious sparks of madness and glory— being forgotten.

My hands are still knitting. My heart hurts, and I swallow hard. This is my truth. This is why I am a writer, a steward of some, a protector of others, a champion of myself and those I love. I am a writer. I must write to figure this out.

Kathryn nods quietly.

Another day, it will be my turn to hold her space, to use my light for her.

(p.s. I’m not very certain of many things, but I am very certain the Icelandic alterna-rock band she had playing in the background had their album picture taken in snowy woods.)

Of Resolutions…

Well then. Happy New Year wishes are in order…ten days into the new year? Yeah. Clearly my New Years resolutions are out the window already. Alas. Actually, my resolution was to be a “meek, soft-spoke and genteel lady” so speaking of out-the-window…

I’m getting ready to fly to Utah to promote a book I co-edited. It was one of my major projects last year- and it came out right before Christmas. We opted to push promotions to January, when everyone is looking for things to do- et voila! It’s a collection of essays from some brilliant friends and scholars about what it means to build Zion for Mormons now that we don’t drag handcarts across the prairies. If that sounds like good bedtime reading to you, give it a try!

It’s been a while since I did any public speaking, and my kids still laugh that people actually (at least in the past, we’ll see what happens this time) would come to listen to me talk on purpose. I feel a little rusty, but I’m hoping it’s like riding a bike. We’ll be at several bookstores around the Wasatch Front. Jeffrey keeps giggling and mumbling to himself that he has to listen to me all the time. Teenagers are awesome for keeping you humble.

Speaking of…


There is only one kid left who is not a tween/teen yet in this house! We had a great vacation. We spent days in our pajamas, a Lego bomb went off in the basement, we watched movies and ate popcorn, we went the theater, watched the dog grow before our very eyes, and basically just had a relaxing holiday where we didn’t do much of anything important, which is the best holiday, I believe.

I learned how to make donuts! Yes, really. LOOK!


The kids devoured two batches, and asked for more. Reason dictated not.

My knitting needles have been busy this year, and unlike most years, I am still knitting deep into January- and pretty happy about it. I switched to a new brand of wooden needles, and I love how they slide through the yarn.


For New Year’s Eve, we made tamales (don’t you? you should. really. can’t you almost smell the masa?)



We celebrated in Old Town with hot chocolate, love, a rousing game of tag, a ton of laughter, the second-best photo-bomb ever, and some kisses.



All joking aside, I’ve never been big on resolutions, with a capital R, but as I get older, I realize goal-setting, realistic, reachable, forward-thinking, planned, and exciting *goals* are good. I haven’t fully figured out what my goals are for this year- or at least not to the point I am ready to share them. But they are bouncing around in my head, and I am mulling over where and what I hope for for the future of this amazing circus. What I do know is the more I remember to just breathe, to protect the margins for those I love, and then just let go and let them be, the more I can do that… the happier life is.

Happy New Year, everyone! What do you hope for this year? Do you set goals? Resolutions? How good are you at follow-through? And what does that even mean? I’m interested.