Writer Community Connections

Here it is! Thanks to some wonderfully generous writers, I am compiling a database of expertise and interests from among the Twitter writing community. Everyone listed is open to DM inquires for anyone interested in learning more about a specific skill, trade, or interest. Please keep this writing related. Some Twitter users require you to follow them before sending a DM, so please do so and be patient for them to return the follow.

Again, before making use of this resource, please be honoring and respectful. Do not DM them unless you are genuinely curious regarding your writing process.

Writing from an honest perspective is SO important. I’m grateful to each contributor. If you’d like to offer your expertise, just shoot me a DM with your specific interests/skills and I’ll gladly add you.

Now, happy learning to all of you ambitious writers!



































Horses, Natural Childbirth, Large Family Dynamic, Autoimmune Disorder, Dieting, Cooking


Building, DIY Repairs


Pregnancy and Parenting, Vegan/Veg/Raw Diet, Food Allergies, Blended Families, Permaculture, Homebirth, Breastfeeding, Dance, Preschool, Theater/Acting/Modeling, The South, California, Running a Restaurant, the Wilderness, Cults, Abuse


Tattoos, Motorcycling, Shoes, Working 100 jobs and going to school at once, Being a Lifelong Student, Living and Working in a Camper, Traveling the US.


Water Quality, Wetlands, Dolphin Training, and Ballet.


Legal Industry, including Client Intake, Preparation for Trial, and Duties of a Paralegal


Meditation, Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Diet, Parenting an Autistic Child, Mental Health, Lifting Weights.


Christian Theology, NHL Hockey, and Canada.


Special Needs Pediatric Physical Therapy


Behavior Analyst, ABA (applied behavior analysis), Science of Behavior.




SFF genres, Knitting, Living Frugally, Spontaneous Pneumothorax Information.


Pregnancy, Natural Childbirth, Breastfeeding, Baby wearing, Homebirth, Unassisted Birth.


Vintage Jello Salads, Wildflower Seeds (collecting, growing, selling), Portland, Oregon, Dragon Boat Racing, and Hyperemesis Gravidarum.


Personal Trainer, Nutrition Specialist


Pregnancy, Babies/Toddlers, Anxiety, Curly Hair, Amateur Photography, Social Work with Older Adults, Dog Ownership.


France, Speaking French, Russian Culture, Mountains and Hiking, Archaeology and Teaching English.

Bubblegum Pink

Bubblegum pink is all I see —

like a movie before me —

But flat and unmoving

Except if I stare 

then little particles dance

 in my field of vision 

and keep me company

I’m never alone

But sometimes I’m safe

and sometimes I’m not

and always there is nothing I can do

but think about pink 

I remember choosing the color

and my mom commented that it

was brighter in person

Much too stimulating 

for a bedroom meant for sleeping

I wish I could claw the color from the wall

Pick at it with my tiny nails and 

make it blue

Or green

Pick anything

but bubblegum pink 

Maybe in another room, another bed

I’d be a perfectly normal child 

At least that’s what I believed

when I blinked

and my fuzzy friends — the floaters in my eyes —


and I had to face the reality

that some little girls have rosy pink rooms




and at least a hundred other shades

But me,

and the swatch I chose:

Thick in the tray of the paint store

because no one wants it 

Except for those that do

Because it’s free

And easy

Second Chance

Jessa stood in front of her desk, scanning its surface for anything suspicious, evidence he’d been there. Of course he had. They were in a daily war: Who could rearrange something miniscule without being caught? The day before she’d removed the staples from his stapler. It felt delightfully mischievous. Once he’d inserted a single yellow post-it note at the center of her pink stack, which had been easy to discover, as it stood out blaringly. He’d replaced her tacks with paperclips. She’d unplugged his keyboard. Sometimes the pranks were obvious, other times impossible. 

Like, now. The desktop computer was in-tact, the keyboard in working order. The small bulletin board where she tacked up her daily schedule looked untampered with. The picture of her tabby cat, Toodles, had not been moved. Her calendar was still open to November. 

Jessa huffed a breath and curved a finger over her chin as she studied the space. 

He was good. 

She bent forward and opened a stack of drawers, one after another, everything in its place. Perhaps it was time to concede? 

Jessa hugged herself, curling her fingers around the underside of each arm. The idea of ending this silly game felt like a limb being ripped away. Her eyes casually flitted across the room to Blake, her opponent. He typed at his desktop computer and seemed completely at ease. Jessa, on the other hand, could hardly breathe. She pulled a finger to her mouth, snapping a nail. 


She startled at the sight of her boss and promptly pulled both hands to her side. 

“Everything okay?” 

A thin smile stretched across her face. “I was looking for something,” she decided. It was partially true.

Richard was taller than her by more than a foot, his beard peppering silver to match his hair. His demeanor was not near as intimidating as his size, but regardless, she tried to stay on her best behavior. She couldn’t afford to lose this job. “If you need anything,” he added. 

“I’m fine.”

When Richard walked away, Jessa closed her eyes and exhaled a long breath. She sat at her desk, which seemed completely untouched, and began her work. 

Maybe he forgot about her? 

She shook the thought away, a hard ball of emotion wedged in her throat. Jessa clenched her jaw, forcing a content smile, even as the tears hovered behind her eyelids like water held back by a dam. 

Counseling had prepared her for these moments, these simple bubbles of time where nothing particularly scarring was happening, but everything was crashing in. She plucked a tissue from a purple box at the corner of her desk and used it to dry her eyes. It was okay to cry, this she knew. She just didn’t want anyone else to know. 

“Give up?” 

Jessa looked up and saw Blake, his frame towering above the charcoal wall of her small cubicle. 

She quickly wiped her eyes, forcing another smile. He was wearing a polka-dot red tie and had a reputation for adorning his work attire with oddities. If his personality was whimsical, his chestnut brown hair turning out in a wave against his long, chiseled face made him seem completely normal. From the very beginning, he had been a surprise to Jessa. The way he made her laugh, roped her into this ridiculous desk-tampering game, and most notably, how quickly she’d taken to him after the unexpected death of Sam. 

Blake’s expression shriveled. “Well, I came to tease you, but I can’t very well do that if you’re crying.”

“I’m not crying.” Jessa sniffled, lifting an elbow onto the desk and resting her chin in the palm of her hand. “Allergies, you know.”

Blake chewed his lip, his eyes practically boring into her soul. This was his other quality, some bizarre sixth sense. “Missing him?” he asked.

Jessa exhaled another long breath. Sometimes she had to literally remind herself to breathe. Words were building like a waterfall, wanting to spill out. She wanted to say it all, let it play like an anthem. Grief is killing me and you’re the only thing good in my life. But she’d made it a point not to discuss Sam with Blake, not since she’d done so at a work party and noticed the life drain from Blake’s face, the joy from his presence. He still asked from time to time, but that was on his own accord. Jessa volunteered nothing. “I’m having a good day,” she exclaimed, “Other than the fact I might have officially been duped.” 

Blake balled his fists and held them over his head in a victory display. 

Jessa tipped back and laughed, spinning in her office chair to face him more squarely. “Wait. I haven’t conceded just yet. Give me the rest of the day.”

“What do I get if I win?”

A smile dissolved from Jessa’s face. “Um.” She focused on Blake, on his perfect smile. He stuck a hand in his coat pocket, his eyebrows arched. How was he still single? It made sense for her, widowed at the tender age of 33. What was Blake’s story?

“Tell ya what. I win, you buy me a drink. You win, I’ll buy your coffee for a week.”

Jessa eyed the stack of empty Starbucks cups at the back of her desk. She kept a collection and refilled them with coffee from the office’s Keurig. It made her feel fancy. 

“The good stuff,” Blake reiterated, noticing her collection. “The kind you like.”

Jessa faced him again, pulling both hands into her lap, where they wrestled. “I thought you didn’t drink.” She didn’t know why, but he’d shared this with her at a work party once. 

“So, you’re above buying me a Coca-Cola?” 

She shook her head. “Whatever you want.”

He laughed. “That’s the spirit.” He winked before he backed away. “I’ll check back around 5:00. We’ll crown the champion.”

When Blake was out of sight, Jessa checked beneath every folder on her desk. She opened drawers again, sifted through them like she was looking for hidden treasure. She separated all of her cups, the lids. She even pulled her long, dark hair into a ponytail and  crawled underneath her desk, lifting cords, untangling them. What on earth had Blake done? 

Richard skimmed the office again and Jessa moved to her chair, pretending she wasn’t distracted, but as soon as Richard disappeared, she resumed her frantic search. 

She couldn’t just grab a drink with Blake. For one, it was too soon after Sam’s passing. He’d only been gone seven months. And two, this ridiculous dance, this adrenaline rush the moment she clocked in each morning was the only reprieve she’d had from the pain. What if she didn’t actually connect with Blake? What if she never connected with another man again?

She sank to her knees, fumbling beneath the desk again. A familiar burning crawled up her throat. Did she even want to find love again? Or was she satisfied? 

Sam had brought her so much satisfaction in their four years together. Their lives were simple — they lived in a quiet studio apartment and took turns feeding their cat Toodles, sneaking him catnip. There was a small herb garden on the balcony, and two Adirondack chairs facing a busy street, where they’d sit each morning and enjoy coffee together. They had dreams of owning a dog, building a bigger garden, and having enough room to start a family. But Sam was in dental school full-time and Jessa worked more than full-time trying to get her vision for a bakery off the ground. It was a conundrum, a future dentist in love with the queen of heavenly confections, but that was what made it work. They brought balance to each other’s lives. 

At 4:55 pm, Jessa slumped against the flimsy wall of her cubicle. She closed her eyes, her chest constricted. She wasn’t imagining the giant crush she had on Blake, she just hated how it felt. Last time this all consuming feeling had ended so badly, she’d hardly made it through. She gave up the apartment and moved in with another couple, renting a room on their second floor. And her dreams for the bakery had folded, as she needed to make a living for herself right away. Her hand covered her face and she rested in the darkness. She could say no, right? She could blame it on allergies, tell him she had plans already. She opened her eyes and saw Blake at the entrance of her cubicle, his expression muddled. “What are you doing?”

“Trying to win this feud between us.”

“You really think I’d fit beneath your desk?”

“I’ve looked everywhere else.”

A coy grin eased across his face. “Does that mean you’re taking me out?”

“I suppose so.” Jessa leaned forward onto her knees and Blake had her by the arm, lifting her up. They’d played the desk game for months, shared an appetizer at a work party, but he’d never actually laid hands on her. Instinctively, she jerked her arm back.

“I can handle myself,” she said, and it’d become her truth. She didn’t need Blake — not his jokes, nor the warmth of his chocolate-colored eyes as he laughed. She liked serious men, driven men. Like Sam. 

She climbed to her feet and noticed Blake’s reservation. Her rebuke had left him stunned and it was better this way. Maybe he’d give her the space she needed. 

“You want me to drive?”

She opened the top drawer of her desk and pulled out her purse, lifting the strap across her shoulder. Her eyes met Blake’s briefly. “If you want.”

“What do you want, Jessa?” 

I don’t want to miss a second of being with you. Her eyebrows came together in concern.

“You alright?” 

She nodded, forcing a smile. “You can drive.”

He owned a black Chevrolet truck, sleek and in good condition. It beeped when Blake pressed a small button on his handheld keychain. Jessa stood outside the passenger side door when Blake approached. 

“Need me to hoist you up there?” Blake said with a chuckle. 

The floorboard of the truck was a bit high, but Jessa could manage. Blake opened the door to her, and she couldn’t help but make eye contact with him again. 

“You seem a little on edge. Maybe I’ll buy you a drink?”

She finally laughed, crawling into the passenger side seat. She clicked on her seatbelt, waiting for Blake to join her. The engine rumbled as he started the ignition and pulled away from the office building. 

“You didn’t even ask how I won.”’

Jessa leaned against the headrest, hands clasped in her lap. “Tell me.”

“I stole a piece of your gum.” He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a shiny silver strip. 

Jessa gasped. “That’s not an office supply.”

“It was on your desk. Fair game.”

She narrowed her eyes, even as a slight smile appeared. “I feel betrayed.”

“Can’t be worse than when you taped a picture of Betty White’s face onto my mom’s portrait.” 

“I love that you have a picture of your mom on your desk.”

“What can I say? I’m an only child.”

Jessa laughed again. She was always laughing when Blake was around. His sense of humor was like a balm to her aching heart. 

He pulled into a Chili’s and parked. “You never said where you wanted to go.”

“I didn’t have an opinion.”

“You’re a strange woman, Jessa Banks.”

Jessa Banks. Her maiden name had been Crenlough, which everyone pronounced incorrectly. When she heard Sam’s last name for the first time, she’d immediately disappeared into a daydream and pretended it was her own. The day they signed the marriage license she’d shrieked with gladness. No more spelling out her last name to customer service reps, or receiving mail that didn’t make sense. Banks was ideal. 

“Why am I strange?” 

“Because I’d like to know what you’re thinking from time to time.”

She clenched her jaw, her hand grappling for the door latch. She swung open the door and jumped down. Blake met her at the front of the truck, and his expression reminded her of the first time she’d mentioned Sam to him. It was blank. 

“If you’re not comfortable,” he started. 

“It’s just a drink,” she said, rushing to recover the situation. She was making a fool of herself. “I’m glad you invited me. I barely ever get out.” It was the perfect alibi. She was using Blake to escape her mundane life. Being out had nothing to do with feelings. 

He nodded, but still seemed serious. Jessa felt on edge more than ever. She didn’t know what to do with the serious side of Blake.

They sat across from one another in a booth at the back of the room. It was busy, servers zig-zagging about. The lights were low, orange and red lanterns creating a dawn-like hue across the room. 

“I’ll have a coca-cola,” Blake said to the server. “And you,” he said to Jessa. “Get whatever you want. Everything else is on me.”

“A water.”

Once the server left, Blake narrowed his eyes. “I told Richard I was taking you out. I’ve been with the company a long time. He trusts me.” 

“How long have you worked there?”

“Ten years this December.”

Jessa nodded. “Good for you.” 

“And you’ve been there .  . .what? Seven months?”

Jessa nodded again. 

“You like it?”

“Yeah,” she said with a shrug. “It pays the bills.”

“Well, that’s a rehearsed answer, if I ever heard one.” 

She rested back against the booth. The server brought their drinks and Blake stuck a straw in his soda, leaning forward to purse his lips around it. “Did I ever tell you about my love affair with sugar?” 

Jessa smiled and could feel the happiness consuming her. “I have one of those, myself.”

“We’re both having an affair? That’s not good.” 

She laughed. 

“So, what’d you do before Richard roped you into the marketing department?”

“I was running a small bakery from my kitchen. Cookie deliveries, holiday pies, birthday cakes. Things like that.”

“Really?” Blake said, tipping his chin. “Why aren’t you doing that now?”

Jessa hated this question. If Sam had been her greatest loss, her passion in the kitchen had been a close second. “It wasn’t profitable . . . yet.” 

“Ah,” he said, sobering. “I’m sorry about that.”

“It happens,” she said with a shrug, but realistically, how many 33 year olds lost their husbands? She was an anomaly and felt the stark stab of loneliness each and every day. 

“What’s your favorite thing to bake?”

She drew her lips in a bow as she thought. “Probably oatmeal raisin cookies. I find them highly underrated.” 

“Oh, didn’t expect that.” He said, and it was obvious he wasn’t a fan. “You must have a secret.”

“Don’t all good bakers?”

“I don’t know much about baking, which is strange considering my current affair. Enlighten me.”

She laughed. “I brown the butter first, just until it starts to caramelize.” 

Blake didn’t blink, just stared straight ahead. He jolted, shaking his head as if he meant to wake himself up. “Sorry. You lost me at caramel.”

Jessa laughed . . .again.

The server returned for their orders. 

“I’ll buy you dinner,” Blake said, motioning towards the menu. “Get what you want.” 

Jessa skimmed the menu and chose a tortilla soup. Normally she’d order more, but her stomach felt in a permanent knot. Having dinner together was much different than buying him a coca-cola and calling it good. 

The server left. 

Jessa watched Sam across the table. He peeled away his coat, folded it in half and set it next to him. He sipped from his soda.

“Why don’t you drink?” she asked. 

“Dang, Jessa. Going in for the kill.”

She laughed. “You wanted to know what I was thinking.”

“I do,” he decided with a new air of seriousness. “Ex-wife was a drinker. Slash psychopath.” He tilted his gaze as if he were lost in thought. “Slash compulsive hoarder.” He faked a cough and continued, “gambling.”

Jessa covered her mouth as she laughed. It wasn’t even humorous material this time, but Blake could spin anything. She finally realized this talent he had, of mining the goodness from every moment. 

“Tell me about Sam,” Blake said. 

Jessa calmed, her mouth slowly gaping. No one had ever asked her about Sam, at least not so blatantly. Tears burned at the corner of her eyelids. What was she thinking? Going out with Blake. She couldn’t even hear Sam’s name without crying. She unrolled a cloth napkin and set her silverware in a neat row. She lifted the cloth to her eyes, feeling unbearably on display. Her breath caught in her throat, like a small balloon blocking her air. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, pulling the cloth down. 

I’m sorry,” Blake said. His eyes had dulled, his arms crossed on the table.

 “What are we doing?” 

“I just wanted to get to know you, Jess. There’s no pressure. I enjoy our playful banter, our silly game. If that’s all you have the energy for, it’s alright.”

Jessa sighed, splaying a hand across her face. She was lost in her thoughts, buried by the grief. She moved her hand away and saw Blake. Sweet Blake. He’d been the sole reason she’d survived the last few months. “Can we leave?”

He nodded, waving the server over. “Could we get everything to-go?”

Jessa lowered her gaze to the table, afraid to face Blake. Afraid to disappoint him. She was a disappointment to herself. 

The food was brought to the table, all packed in styrofoam and held by a plastic bag. Blake and Jessa walked to the truck together, climbed into their seats. Blake cranked the ignition and pulled from the parking lot. 

Jessa cleared her throat. Something about being in a vehicle, driving away from the restaurant, felt safer. “Sam wanted to be a dentist. He was in his first year of residency when he . . .”

Blake glanced at her across the console, a surprised look on his face. “And how’d he die?”

“Um,” she started. Her fingers interlocked, squeezing. She’d not said it out loud since her job interview, when Richard asked. “He fell. He broke his leg and it caused a blood clot.”

“That’s random.”

She nodded. The most random. The most unfair. 

“When you first told me what happened, I could barely process it. I mean, I’m single in my thirties, so I understand the struggle to some extent. I just can’t imagine the strength it took to rebuild your life.” He coasted through the parking lot behind their office and pulled up beside Jessa’s blue Camry. “I have a lot of respect for you.”

Jessa formed a half-smile. Friends and family had said this to her from time to time, but never Blake. The compliment felt weighter from him. “Thanks.”

“Here’s how I see it,” he said. “I can drop you off, and we can go back to being work friends. If that’s all you have to offer me, I’m good. Or I can take you to my place. We can watch a movie, you can bake me some famous oatmeal-raisin cookies. You could give me a chance.” 

Jessa fumbled with the door latch again. “I can’t.” Her voice broke, and it had nothing to do with Blake. He was perfect, and she was a disaster. Her heart was shredded, remnants of what it had been. She couldn’t even remember what love felt like. “I hope you understand.”

“Of course, I do.” Blake smiled, the warmth reaching his eyes. “Have a good night, Jessa.”

“Congratulations on winning the desk wars . . .thing. Whatever.” A smile teased at her lips, even if inwardly she was breaking apart. “It’s been fun.”

“Yeah,” Blake said, drawing out the word. And somehow, she knew he felt the same way as her, that without a thread holding them together, they’d drift apart and have nothing. 

She grabbed her packaged soup and climbed from the truck. “Goodnight, Blake.”

* * * * *

January 1st was the most non-momentous start to a new year that Jessa had ever experienced. Time felt like a ruler, measuring how long she’d been without Sam. Almost an entire year. Blake noticed her on occasion, but only said hello. He didn’t ask anything personal, and he certainly didn’t touch her or bring her coffee. 

Her counselor, Rita, whom she’d seen for the last 9 months, questioned her. 

“Do you think you deserve love?”

Jessa shook her head. “I don’t want to be unfaithful to Sam.”

“Sam is gone,” Rita offered stoically.

“Right.” Jessa joined her hands and slid them along the groove in her lap. She groaned, tipping her head forward until her ponytail dangled in her face. “I can’t stop thinking about Blake.” 

“Is there any reason you shouldn’t pursue him?”

“Other than the fact that I cry when he looks at me?”

“Why do you cry?”

“Because,” Jessa said. She sat upright and the urge to claw her skin became overwhelming. She wanted to hide from the onslaught of feelings, distract herself from it. “I’m scared that if nothing happens, I’ll lose all this warmth I feel just by being near him.”

“And how much better would it feel to be known by him?”

Jessa groaned again. “This is killing me.”

“You’re killing yourself,” Rita said calmly, “By letting yourself become imprisoned by the grief.”

A tear dropped from Jessa’s chin into her lap. “I really want to be in love again.”
Rita reached out and put a hand on Jessa’s wrist. She’d become like a grandmother figure in the time they’d met with one another. “And there’s no guarantee you’ll find that in Blake, but you’ll never know unless you try.”

Jessa nodded. “I think about it every day. How it would feel to bring him cookies, to tell him how I feel. He must think I’m such a fool. Pulling and pushing.” She sucked in a ragged breath, choking out a sob. 

Rita allowed her to cry without a hint of judgement. When Jessa calmed, Rita passed her a box of tissues. “Sam would want you to be happy.”

Jessa bowed her face into a handful of tissue that felt like velvet against her skin. Even if everything about her life — her dreams, her thoughts, her desires — felt muddled, this was a truth she could lean into like the soft plush of a pillow. Sam would hate the way she allowed herself to be tortured. He’d have approved of Blake, who was nothing but kind to her, the most patient man alive. 

“Do you think I’m ready?” Jessa asked. 

Rita smiled. “I think you’ve been faithful to come to these appointments every other week. You’ve cried when you’ve needed to cry. You’ve journaled. You’ve been unbelievably committed to the process. All of this work has created a foundation, and I think you’d be surprised how strong it is.”

Jessa sniffled, pulling the damp tissues to her face again. She felt a lightness sweep over her, something like hope igniting within. “I think I’m going to tell Blake how I feel.” She inhaled a long breath, holding it, letting it taper out slowly. “I just hope he’ll still give me a chance.” 

Jessa let the discussion from the counseling appointment settle all week. She journaled about it, letting her fears rest on the page. What if I’m not enough? What if Blake isn’t the one? What if I give love another shot and it crumbles before me? The truth was, anytime she let her thoughts run free, she saw herself curled up at Blake’s side. She saw herself in the kitchen, wrapped in his arms. She could almost smell his oak-scented cologne. He was different than Sam, but someone she felt safe with, so safe she’d pushed him away before.

 Now she was ready. 

She stayed up into the night mixing flour, tossing the raisins in so they’d not clump together in the batter. She heated a stick of butter until it bubbled, a rich aroma of salt and toffee filling the kitchen. She let it cool before blending it with the eggs and adding it to the flour. As it baked, the spiciness of cinnamon merged with the sweetness of raisins and sugar, and Jessa felt a thrill she’d not experienced in a long time. It was her passion returning to her. She watched the timer countdown until the cookies would be done and she imagined delivering them to Blake in a small cardboard box. She imagined telling him everything she’d saved up over the course of 5 or so months. She imagined him making her laugh, or maybe he’d hug her. She thought of his strong arms, how being at the center of them might just heal a broken piece of her heart, at least start the process of restoration. 

The next morning she wore her favorite dress, which was purple. It criss-crossed, tying in a neat bow along her waist. It draped down her chest, but in a modest way, and she wore a small cupcake necklace Sam had purchased for her when she first started her little bakery in the kitchen. It only seemed right to bring Sam along. 

She kept the cookies at the corner of her desk, completely distracted. Her heart beat out of her chest, breaking it’s predictable cadence when Blake walked past to fix a cup of coffee in the workroom. When he walked back to his desk, he winked at her, a simple gesture that caused a wave of heat to wash into her gut. She wanted to tell him now, spill everything, and this time it wasn’t the pain of the past, it was her hope for the future. 

Jessa tapped her nails on the desk until 5:00 arrived. She grabbed the box of cookies and her purse, then practically ran to the employee parking lot. Her heels clicked along the pavement, and she easily spotted Blake’s truck and planted herself in front of the driver’s side door. 

She chewed her lip, wishing she’d reapplied her makeup, fluffed her hair. Anything to feel prepared. Other employees moved about the parking lot, and she tried to look inconspicuous with the box of cookies held in front of her stomach. 

Blake stepped outside, his head cocked when he noticed her. He came closer, a bemused grin on his face. “Can I help you, Jessa?”

Jessa nodded, smiling slightly. She couldn’t seem to get a grip on the nerves she felt, like every synapse in her body was firing. He kept coming, until he hovered over her. She inhaled his scent, which was masculine, like a walk in the forest. Today his chosen oddity had been a set of red suspenders against a stark white collared shirt. 

“What’s in your box?” he asked. 

“I made you cookies,” she managed, passing the box. 

“I hope they’re oatmeal raisin.” 

She nodded, a smile taking up her entire face as she embraced the moment fully. 

“I have to know, what’s the occasion?” 

“I like you,” she said. Her eyes darted away as the vulnerability caused her to tremble. “As more than a work friend.”

Blake’s eyebrows lifted. “Yeah? Tell me more.”

She laughed, and it helped her to relax. “I’ve been in counseling for a while now, doing all the things I know to do .  . . to get better  . . .and to believe that there’s still a life for me, even after Sam lost his. I don’t know what it looks like, but I want you to be a part of it.”

Blake was still grinning, although his expression had shifted into surprise. He set the box of cookies on the side of his truck. “I would have waited on you as long as you needed.”

“I know.” 

Blake lifted his hand, turning it over and brushing Jessa’s cheek with the tips of his fingers. “I feel incredibly privileged.”

Color flooded Jessa’s cheeks, even as he kept his hand against her, the warmth transcendent. She couldn’t help but feel like they were skipping all the steps of traditional dating. They’d liked one another for so long, confessing their feelings opened a door to a depth of intimacy Jessa had not expected, but felt completely natural. 

“What now?” Blake asked. His hand had come down, now cupping the nape of her neck. She could hardly think with him standing so close. 

“I don’t know,” she said. Her eyes closed. “I don’t have an opinion.”
“Sure, you do.”

She laughed, opening her eyes. “Are you always this pushy?”

“Are you always this guarded?”

She drew back from such a statement. “I’m scared,” she whispered. And she was, even in this very moment, that it was all too good to last. 

“What if you stayed in the moment with me. Then, what?”

She released a held in breath, her eyes meeting his. Her hand lifted, and he met it, folding his fingers over hers until they united in a soft clasp. “Then I want everything,” she decided. 

“I can give you that,” Blake said, except he wasn’t smiling. He was completely sober. He tucked a wisp of hair behind her ear and leaned in, covering her mouth with a simple kiss. 

Jessa had forgotten how it felt to be kissed, so wonderfully satisfying. 

Satisfied. Blake pulled away and Jessa covered her heart with a hand, tipping her head back. She closed her eyes and stayed there, relishing the thrill of a second chance at love. It was more rewarding than she’d ever imagined.

Blake took her by the arm. “Let’s go.”

“Where are we going?” He led her to the passenger side, and opened the door. She crawled in before she had an answer. 

“To Chili’s,” he said with a shrug. “We’ve got a date to finish.” 

How to Breathe Again

Today was a struggle and yesterday was too. It felt like the very force of life was being squeezed from me, like a cosmic hand gripped at my center until my eyes bugged out all cartoon-like and surreal. I’ve tried to fight it, to curl my tiny fingers beneath the hold and pry it off so I can catch a breath. But it’s had me for so long I’ve actually begun to cope. I can breathe, albeit shallowly. I can move, though slowly. I’m exhausted to my core but I still do my chores and show up to this life. On days like yesterday and today, I try to recall how it once felt to be normal. I try to remember what a mind that isn’t compressed feels like. In the pondering, ideas form. Theories, really, of how and why this happened. I wasn’t always like this. Stuck. Odd. Wheezing for air on a bright fall day. No, I once had dreams. I had vision. The life force now squeezed from my very bones was lit up like a string of firecrackers and daily they sparked, popped, lit up my eyes with purpose. 

Back then, thirty-year old me stepped down the stairs of our second-story Starbucks in town. I looked out over a river and thought how idyllic and child-like it’d be to find a stone and toss it in to make a wish. Like dropping a coin into a fountain, this was my chance. I’d hold the rock at the center of my hand and believe with all my might that every ounce of hope I had for my future would seep into the minerals and when it kerplunked into the water, the mighty river would guard it for me and keep it safe. And I believed this nonsense because I was that desperate, that happy. Back then I drank caramel macchiatos knowing they were bad for me. I relished the sweetness. I thought I deserved to taste good things and live a big, beautiful life. 

I spent time with my journal and only wrote with fancy pens, the ones that flowed ink like lava oozing from an angry volcano, wet and plentiful. My words were plentiful. They cascaded across the pages in verse and song and curious phrases. And though I had nothing, I had everything because I still had hope. Every page was laced with it. My heart. My story. Back then I was proud of my story because I thought it was still being written and I really loved the next chapter. I could hardly wait. Antsy, almost sick with anticipation. Lovesick. 

I loved my future. 

But as the years passed, I grew tired. Weary. Death touched my life. Pain. Chronic illness. If I once had daily glimpses of my goals, soon they were siphoned away by survival. Survival is the enemy of hope. And I stopped believing that good could happen to me, that I deserved any of it. Worst of all, I started to believe it was my fault. That somehow I contributed to the chaos that descended and stole my spark, wrapped around me and smothered my snappy firecrackers. Because maybe I was never good enough and it was never going to happen, no matter how many rocks I tossed into rivers or how many dreams I scribbled in the journal. 

This is real talk. This is real life. Sometimes you want something so badly the rejection of it feels like a rejection of YOU. And we all have a choice to cling to the dream, loving ourselves as it slaps us around, or dream a new dream. 

This is what hurts the most, choosing, because my dream long abandoned me and nothing else seems as meaningful. It’s all crap now. A big mound of stinking crap. 

I don’t know the answer. What I do know is that if we want to breathe again, the grip around our lives has to go. And to remove that third-party’s intrusion, we have to be willing to sit with the disappointment. Journal with a pen that isn’t pink with glittery flecks. Throw rocks at a brick wall until they smash to smithereens, screaming that you did dream a good dream and it was a good idea, and you would have been great at it. But life happened and it isn’t your fault. And although you can’t imagine anything else you’d rather do, there is still hope and it’s not rooted in lofty things or abstract ideas or dreams. It’s in the fact that you and I really do have something beautiful to contribute to the world. It’s terrifying to not know our purpose, like beginning a cross-country trek without a map or even a destination. What if it’s hard? What if it’s not what we expected? What if it’s inferior to the place we wanted to stay? 

This is the hand that grips me: What if I’ll never be happy again? Even shallow happy. I’d take it right now.

But everyday I do the hard work. I stop kicking and screaming and fighting, and I think to myself, “It’s going to be okay.”

Now, is it? I don’t really know. But I like to believe that even if I never throw another rock in a river and jot my dreams on my journal, or tattoo them on my arm, even if I never taste another caramel macchiato, I will be okay, because I’m still here. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll breathe a little deeper tomorrow and dream something new. Take spark and live again.

Sammy’s Birth.

Sammy is one of my personal heroes. A mother to FOUR boys, she knew this birth would be her last and was determined to do it naturally. But sweet baby boy was breech the last three weeks of her pregnancy and no matter how many exercises she did, or visits to the chiropractor, he was not going to budge! She went in to have him manually turned (which can be painful for mom!) but her fluid was low and they kept her for the day just to give her fluids. She went home that evening, contracting, stretching, hanging upside down from the couch . . . and went into labor. Going into labor was considered high-risk since her baby was breech, but when she got to the hospital she insisted they take an ultrasound and check the position of the baby . . . and miraculously, he had turned. Just in the nick of time!

She had her husband, her doula, and her mom there for the birth. When I arrived at midnight, the contractions were close together and strong. She had not eaten in 12 hours, and had barely slept. I was amazed by her stamina!

Birth is so raw. Painful and unpredictable, even in the best case scenario. I was undone by the care that Sammy’s husband showed her throughout the process. She had given him several phrases beforehand and it was all he was allowed to speak to her during contractions, such as, “You can do this,” or “Your body was made for this.” If he said anything else, she’d remind him of the pre-approved phrases. For those of us not birthing a baby, it was funny to watch. If he started pitying her pain, she’d reach for her doula instead. She was determined to have that natural birth!

I just love all the hands covering Sammy as she moved through transition. How loved is she? Her husband was so present with her in the pain. It was powerful.

Here is grandma, who flew in from out of town to witness the birth. She was so excited for her grandon. At this point, Sammy was not sure if she could finish the birth naturally, but her support team was incredible, and she didn’t give up.

I love this picture of her mom.

Sometime after 2am, he made it into the world. Sweet boy!

Welcome to the world, little buddy. Your life is a miracle and we love you.

The Stand-Off

Being creative is absolutely terrifying. No one tells you that in cliche memes, taunting us all to follow our most wild and impossible dreams. No one says that we will all at some point, be standing face to face with ourselves, wondering if we’re worth it at all. Worth the trouble, worth the time, worth the investment, worth the battle.

Let me tell you, anyone with something to say, there will be a fight. This is the suprise: It’s almost always with ourselves, because we’re the one with the key, convincing ourselves to unlock the message we know is there. Next, it’ll be everyone else. Maybe not directly. But anyone with a message has an enemy. So, the stand-off looks like convincing yourself you can put yourself out there (because you can), and the outside voices crying out that you’re wrong, defective, not talented enough, or my favorite, “Someone already does that.” (I’m an author, so this is the pervasive enemy of thought I face on the daily).

But I finally came to a point in my own journey of realizing that my message, and my unique expression of that message, is part of me. And, to the naysayers, who cares? They don’t have to answer for me at the end of my life. Only I get to do that. Only I get to determine if I lived my life fulfilled or not.

So, why not put yourself out there? Whatever it looks like.

Exercise Channel
Finger paint extraordinaire
Join a circus, for all I care (Just sayin’, The Greatest Showman made it look amaaaaazing)

Regardless of the means, no one can produce anything creatively without inserting a piece of their DNA at the source of it. You are a unique expression as a human being, and personally, I’d like to see your story, or hear it, whatever it looks like. So, go for it.

This site was my meager attempt at digging around my heart to see if there was something worth sharing. Did I ever *feel* like following through? Short answer: Heck, no. I was scared out of my mind. But I never let my worth come into question, and that’s why I pulled the trigger. I enjoy being creative, and I think I’m worth it.

You are too, by the way.

In the words of Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”


Once a stranger, now you occupy so much of my heart with wonder.

The roar of your great ocean beneath jutted, jagged cliffs stole my breath –

With fear,

with amazement,

with the quiet thought that my life would never be the same.

I’ve climbed mountains,

hiked miles through woven trails that thousands carved out before me, and still stood small-

hedged in by walls of granite.

I have planted my feet in the coarseness of warm sand,

my eyes trained on a calm, blue sea-

A painted sky stretched across the expanse, and I lived fully in the moment. 

The sun and wind have whipped a feeling like hot ash on my bare legs, and in later seasons,

I’ve fallen hard on slick, icy paths-

I’ve had to flee for smoke, blizzards and fog. I’ve closed my eyes behind the wheel of a car and prayed I would survive.

I’ve shrieked at the thrill of winter’s first snow, and again at the frigid bite of summer’s first swim-

But, mostly I have been at peace,

a warm breeze wafting the subtle aroma of my backyard roses.

Adventure has carried me from coast to coast by car and flight-

Yet, nothing has captivated me quite like the distant appearance of

snow-capped Shasta, drawing near.

Now that we are apart,

an aching longing feels my heart,

for evergreens that touch the sky,

a coastline stretching and changing and calling to me.

For cool evening walks, white mountain tops, and that feeling –

I can almost remember what it felt like to be home.

Autoimmune Disorder

Skin on my bones,

Breath in my lungs,

Senses intact,

And sores on my tongue.

Iron rising, 

Blood pressure falling,

Get up, lay down

As my world turns foggy.

Fatigue, oppressive;

Brain fog, daily;

Diet, controlled;

Eczema, scaly.

Here is my arm,

For the one thousandth prick

For another round of bloodwork 

That proves I’m not sick.

So, stop sleeping,

Stop eating,

Stop scratching,

Stop bleeding.

Spend everything, 

Try anything,

For answers, for relief. 

Paste on my arms,

Supplements I can’t pronounce,

Vinegar in my water,

Let’s try another route.

Why is this happening?

What did you eat?

Why are you tired all the time?

Why the defeat? 

Get up, go out,

Are you really sick again?

Be productive,

Call a friend.

But I’m so tired,

So forgetful

I have nothing to give,

And what can I eat besides a vegetable?

So I’ll stay in my bed, 

Read another health book,

Hire a new doctor,

To take another look. 

Empty promises collect dollars,

As fear gains fodder,

And I’m can’t separate the truth from the lies-

I just want to enjoy my life. 

So I’ll buy the promises,

Absorb the hope,

Until it all comes crashing down again-

My body rebelling,

Desperate for healing.
What I wouldn’t give,

For the truth. 

#vss365 archive

#vss365 stands for Very Short Story. It is a challenge that happens on Twitter. I love a good challenge, so I follow the prompt and wait for inspiration to hit. This is the archive.

Dig Deep, Prompt: archaeological

Might dabble in Archaeology,

Find out why you left me, 

Dig through the remains,

Sift through the claims,

And maybe find something

I can bring back to life.

Shake off the dust,

Carbon copy what once was,

If there’s evidence,

Of love.

It’s Over, Prompt: multifarious

“Where are you going?” she said, tracing his steps.

“That doesn’t concern you anymore.”

She chewed her lip, emotion swelling. “Why?”

“It’s multifarious, my Darling. You know as well as I.”

“But, I tried,” she said as a last resort.

“We both did.”

You Are Worth It

Recently I’ve had a goal of open dialogue with my children, engaging their hearts, hungry for honest answers. Children are unfiltered in the best sort of way, depending on what they are asked.

I like to ask what sorts of qualities make them unique, what they feel God is doing in our city, in our church, in their hearts. Otherwise it is all too easy to skate on through the day, doing life right at their side, hardly seeing them. How is that even possible? It baffles me. Being intentional is key, not just harboring good intention in my heart. [This chapter in my life entitled, “Things it Took me a Decade of Parenting to Figure Out.]

So, yesterday I asked my wise 10-year-old son, “What does the world need more of?” Without hesitation, he said, “Me!” I loved his unrehearsed answer so much. Even this morning it was percolating in my heart. I was challenged to say the same about myself, “the world needs more of ME!” Except I don’t often feel that way, at least not for now. I look in the mirror and see someone agonizingly in process, at war with perfection, on a trajectory towards wholeness. And, yet deep in my heart, I know my son’s answer is right. The world needs more of each of us, exactly as we are.

I remember a friend telling me that when I was honest about my process in a room full of people, it shifted something in the atmosphere that caused others to share. I was like, “Um . . . I don’t want that gift. That’s not a good gift.” Vulnerability is hard! Why is this my gift? However, as I’ve begun to embrace it, I’ve seen fruit in my life and others. So, here is what I want to say: I am worthy of love exactly as I am, and so are you. Whoever you are, wherever you are . . .you matter.

Recently I walked out of my house, which was an utter disaster after a full week of all five of my children having the throw-up bug, along with my husband and I. A coffee date with a friend was on the calendar for the morning. I stood in my kitchen and took in the full sink of dishes, the laundry pile that was mounting, the table stacked high with papers and I smiled with the thought, “I love myself.” Right smack dab in the middle of my mess. Why? Because I do. Because God does. Because this isn’t my stopping place, and because community matters more in the moment than a tidy house. I can’t afford to get my identity from performance (my productivity) when actually it comes from the fact that I’m a human and I have value. As I’ve begun to love myself in process, I don’t stay where I’m at. Instead, it causes me to bravely look at all areas of my life and acknowledge any shortcomings free of shame. Then I can actually grow. 

This idea broke through to me as my daughter and I drew pictures together. Am I talented artist? Not by any respectable artist’s standards. But, I love to draw so I do it. My daughter erased her creation over and over and over until at last, it caught my eye. I started with, “Isn’t drawing fun?” She said, “No, it’s not. It’s very stressful for me.” Now, my daughter has more natural talent in her pinkie finger than I do in all of my body! She continued with, “Doesn’t it upset you?” I said, “No, it doesn’t because my goal isn’t perfection. My goal is to create something that only I can create. No one else in the world can draw this flower like I can.” I literally amazed myself at that moment because I realized how far I’d come. Now, my daughter considered my answer and continued to copy a photo meticulously. I kept happily scribbling away. I’m not downplaying excellence and perseverance because that is important to progress, but my point is, creative expression is not about perfection as much as giving the world what only you can create. Giving the world more of YOU. The challenge is often waiting until you’ve achieved perfection to do that, and it’s just not possible. Don’t wait for perfection. Produce and create something only YOU can.

Last week the kids and I read the story of Watt’s Tower. Have you heard it? An Italian Immigrant had a dream of creating “Something Big.” He worked six days a week and long hours at a tile factory and began to save scraps. Then, when he’d spot other items most considered trash, he’d take it home. Over time he mixed concrete to create sculptures from his trash, some towering to 90 feet! Most people considered him crazy, not able to speak clear English, treasuring junk. But, his towers made of trash became works of art, a local landmark moved into the city. Now, he is considered a genius. He called his work, “Something Big,” because that is what he always wanted to create. What if he would have seen himself as everyone else did? Poor immigrant. Babbling fool. Unimportant. I’m not sure how he saw himself, but regardless, he didn’t care. He still created.

So, I meditate on these stories of people who pressed on despite their process, people who had every excuse in the world to live a quiet life without expressing themselves. Not that everyone must have a Magnum Opus (shameless Charlotte’s Web reference), but the point is, you are the Magnum Opus. You are worth exploring the depths of your own heart and expressing it in some way, and this ability is intricately connected to your ability to love yourself. I think of the brilliant bumper sticker that never ceases to put a smile on my face, “The Earth without Art is just Eh.” And, art is not just paint-to-paper, it’s creative expression and each person on this planet is brimming with it. Why? Because the Creator is and you bear His image, His brilliant, fearless image. I love that when God created He looked at His creation and was like, “This is good.” Now, I realize He is perfection itself but I wouldn’t necessarily call everything he created my cup of tea (spiders? FREAKING, WHY???????). But, He liked it.

So, I give you permission to like what you create because it’s your own, to love yourself in the imperfection. The world needs more of you, Friend. It needs more of me, too. Show me what you got and I promise to love it because I love you, because you matter.