Just Write {196}

October 27, 2015

We were talking about something totally other than the next thought that came to my mind and then out my mouth, the way I do, abruptly “Hey! Did you find out about your chair!?” She was stumped, a little mystified, and then laughing hysterically. I had forgotten to tell her my train of thought, to bring her along with my change of subject… “It must be so exhausting to have your brain!” (She said this with tears streaming down her face, gasps between guffaws.) In my defense, it is important, this chair business. She purchased it weeks ago and it was to arrive to her home and has not appeared. We need to remember to call that place and demand that chair. We haven’t yet, too many other random things have come to mind and taken over. But still, where has the chair gone… Earlier we were in the coffee drive-thru, where we […]

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photo via google images via bradytoops.com I posted a link to a short article about Brady Toops being on The Bachelorette​ on Facebook a couple of days ago. What I said in that post was, “I used to take care of him in the church nursery. That is all.” My FB friends and I were all humored by that. It’s funny. In that way that makes you feel really really old… But I want to tell you about some other things that have nothing (and then maybe everything) to do with Brady being on The Bachelorette. I want to tell you about community, courage and support. The people I’ve talked to around this place where Brady grew up are excited about his career in music, his talent, and they support him. You might expect criticism from way up here–about Brady’s choice to do a reality TV show–but that hasn’t seemed to be the case. I’m sure some locals are judging this […]

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Just Write {179}

March 17, 2015

We walked down the street to get the mail, no coats on. The sun shined and smiled on us all weekend and we soaked in the vitamin D, the fresh air, the soft breeze, every moment. We did nothing, which is everything, isn’t it? It is so hard to pout or fuss when the sun is smiling on you. Especially when you have lived many dark months, so much cold isolation. Elsie ate an apple as we walked, her mud boots clomping, her teeth chomping. She looked up and smiled, turned around to look at her brothers and neighbor friends playing. She said, “We’re getting furder and furder….” (further and further) Yes, we are, I said. Yes, we are. We just keep going, and we get there. The mailbox held nothing much to be desired, as per usual. But Elsie thought it was the best trip down the street ever anyway. Our house sits […]

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Just Write {159}

October 28, 2014

There’s someone who decorated for Halloween by dressing up a home-made, ginormous, stuffed pillow-case-like doll. They put a shirt on it…her? Him?…and then they put underwear on it, but the unders are pulled down to about thigh length and this doll is sitting on a toilet, its jeans around its ankles. Yes, this toilet is out in the yard. Yes, this doll is on the toilet. Yes, this doll has underwear pulled down. No, I don’t know what this has to do with Halloween. Yes, I find it hard to not be disturbed every single time I drive by going to and from home. To each their own toilet decorations… I would take a picture and put it in this post, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. It’s tempting, but also, it’s just too….weird. I like how my friend Christa decorated for Halloween. She put a string of orange lights […]

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Just Write 157

October 14, 2014

This is the back corner of the coffee shop where I love to write. Jenna is coming soon. There is nothing like a friend who has known you since you were five. While I put the creamer in my dark roast, up front, a “Hi, Heather” came from behind me. I turned to see a high school teacher of mine, from all those years ago. I have no idea how so many of these people around this small hometown look the same. Hardly aged. Does Minnesota country air do something good for those that choose a healthy lifestyle? I’m pretty sure there’s something to that. Yesterday was a hard day. I don’t know, there’s just a lot of stress. And I stopped at Goodwill to look for more vintage for the walls at the Cre8tive Escape because our Grand Opening is this Thursday and oh yeah, no we’re totally not ready. Like that […]

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Just Write 154

September 23, 2014

I saw in his face what something in me already knew. He was tired from staying up too late and drinking more than he planned to drink. He was tired from thinking and thinking again and thinking about his drinking again. They were both tired, he and his wife, from years of building things and watching them crumble, building them back up again. That’s life, that’s parenting, that’s marriage, that’s work. But there was More, the mysterious illness of a child. And we who are prone to drink, genes broken up and begging for More, we will drink More. That’s what we do. Until we don’t. So there we stood, not going to church but meeting in a church, and we recognized our matching sickness because of a hesitant willingness to see it. He finally said it out loud. All the wonderings of self, the fears and the unknowns that are truly known […]

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glimpses of now

September 12, 2014

I didn’t have coffee until after ten o’clock this morning. This is unheard of, really. I am one of those people that pours my first cup of joe with my eyes half open, on the way to the shower. And then I wonder, every time, why I didn’t just wait until after the shower because it gets a little cold on the bathroom counter, waiting for me. The best mornings are when I can pour that first cup with my eyes half open and then sit in my pajamas on the couch. Lately I need slippers. Minnesota is showing us her master plan for winter early. We are nervous about what she has up her sleeve, but we are pretending, and sometimes meaning, that we love the crisp reminder to snuggle in, wrap up, slip on soft things. Lately there is so much to do, more than ever. My body is different because […]

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Just Write 152

September 9, 2014

I walked home in the dark, along the sidewalk, past the pond and in the stillness. It was such a beautiful night for a head-clearing walk. Sweatshirt weather. This small town quiet is a good match for sweatshirt weather. Only one car passed by, the whole time I walked, and people had their windows open to their settled-in houses. I could feel the breeze in their rooms, like we were sharing something. My phone rang as I rounded the corner to home. A friend calling to break bad news, to ask for prayers for a family. Just like that, the father and husband was gone. In his sleep. Just like that, a man around my age, gone. No breathing, no heartbeat, as if he were only a breath himself. You just never know, she said. Yes, I’m so sorry. And you don’t. You don’t know. I don’t know. There are far too many […]

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Honestly, once again, I knew too little. Breaking news is something I don’t have connection to these days, honestly. I am in a little starting-over-mothering-working-three-jobs bubble. I am blocking out the world a lot, which can be really good, but remember, the best way to overcome your stress and pain is to change the freaking topic from self to others. So. Ferguson. I am caught up now. And these here posts (below) by friends of mine say what needs to be said most. Please take time to openly receive these perspectives and learn from them. I feel the heart of a graceful humanity in these words. I do not feel the sometimes defensive and ignorant responses that are rooted in just not getting it. Please read these: Sarah Bessey – In which I have a few things to say about Ferguson Preston Yancey – When this is about Ferguson Ann Imig – My […]

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Just Write {145}

July 22, 2014

I told her there are two kinds of people. Those that stick around when your life makes them uncomfortable, and those that don’t. The ones that draw back, pull away, go quiet…they don’t intend to cause pain. Maybe they just shut down, get scared and freeze. It feels like it is you that makes them uncomfortable and maybe it is, but what can you do? I have friends that don’t stop showing up whether they know what to say or do or not. They know my life is full of weeds right now and they keep coming along, grabbing close to the dirt and pulling with all their might until they fall backward, a big milkweed in hand, roots splaying out all over their dirty faces. Then they laugh and that makes me laugh and we point at each other. Or something like that. The pulling at weeds/not giving up analogy is about […]

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Just Write {143}

July 8, 2014

It’s a cross tattoo, with the initials of her family in it. It has details I haven’t noticed before, so I asked to take a closer look. We laughed about some huge changes that make the skin ink a little tricky to take in. Then I asked about the date at the top of the cross and she said, hesitantly, her eyes rolling, That’s the date I…well, that’s when I was first “saved”… Why do you roll your eyes at that, I asked. I don’t know…it’s just that I haven’t been all that close to God all the time. And I’ve made some big mistakes… I wanted to shout HE LOVES YOUR FACE OFF, SILLY HEAD. Tattoo or no tattoo, date or no date, air quotes saved or air quotes not saved. He loves your face off. Instead we talked about praying a certain prayer to get “saved” and remembering the date. We […]

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Just Write {124}

February 25, 2014

I sent off a reply email to my friend Sarah, typing out a fast thank you (because she is always helping me) and then I said, THIS WEEK. I was referring to the fact that I will see her in just a matter of a couple of days, in San Diego at the Storyline Conference. Months ago we were like “yeah, maybe we should just go to that, together!” And we registered pretty impulsively cause that’s how we roll, and now it’s here. Today I sat for a moment thinking that maybe I’m a little nervous. But it’s Sarah, so that doesn’t make a lot of sense, while it also makes sense. You know how we used to get to know people? In person or snail mail or the phone, that was it. NO INTERNET, our kids won’t believe it! And I can remember having a pen pal and I felt like I […]

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I swung the minivan around the cul-de-sac to park and caught sight of our friend Dio on his front porch, sitting on a bench, his eyes closed. The sun was bright but the morning had not slipped away into the afternoon blistering heat of Austin yet. It was comfortable and breezy. We had just moved to Austin and were adjusting to this new-to-us kind of heat. I got out of the van and crossed the lawn to a smiling face, eyes open now, and I asked, “What’re ya doin’, Dio?” “Nothing.” He said this as if he had answered, “Something”, and not just because English is his second language. Dio can speak English just fine, though his accent trips people up sometimes. He said it like it was an important activity, doing nothing. “It is good to do nothing. There’s no time for it very often.” “So true,” I answered. “And now I’m […]

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Just Write {122}

February 11, 2014

You create a space for people to be vulnerable, he said. The way you talk about recovery, especially. And it’s just kindness, you treat people with such kindness, they feel safe…” The funny thing is, I was leaning on a bar when he said this. I was ordering drinks, mine with no booze, his and hers with. And in telling me this, he let me know he saw me. He really saw me, took me in. And I wanted to cry because wow, thank you and because I want so badly to be kind, I want people to be able to feel safe with me, always. Anyone. This guy, the one that said these things, is the kind of guy that loves, just like me, to talk about Big Things for hours, and he has a great sense of humor and killer writing skills. He’s young and in love and getting married in […]

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Just Write {104}

September 30, 2013

I was getting out of the car, grabbing my bag and another bag, my coffee mug, and I dropped my glasses on the driveway. I bent down to get them and saw a snail in the grass. The squishy looking sluggish body was carrying a big shell. Just like that. It amazed me. My glasses were scratched, but I just needed to crouch down like that for a little while and watch the creature. I got out my phone and took a picture but it was like he was camera-shy and got inside his swirly shell before I snapped the photo. I went in the house, put down all the things and put the picture on Instagram. Everything needs cleaning, so I looked around at where to start. I had been at school volunteering and now it was already late morning, so much to do, a meeting this afternoon and on and on, […]

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September 26, 2013

All those years ago it felt like a punch, a cheekbone punch coupled with a knife to the heart. Dramatic, yes? It wasn’t their fault, it was a stupid game in which a difficult (or ridiculous) question was asked and everyone answered confidentially and all the questions were about each other. It was like being online before the Internet. Anonymous. If life is a highway, which one of you got off on the wrong exist? Ballots were cast, opened and read, unanimous. Heather. Heather. Heather. Heather…. I knew it was coming. Then we all cried. Awkward, No no no Heather, I don’t think it means anything horrible. It’s okay. Oh I’m sorry! I don’t even know why I picked you! I love you. It was the truth and the truth hurts and it extra hurts when you are sitting in a situation where you realize that the people who know you best agree […]

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Just Write {103}

September 23, 2013

After all of this drought, we were caught in a deluge. Running out into it was like standing under a bucket, dumping it over yourself, drenching. We took shelter every time we could, bus stops, full trees, building awnings, but it was so much. So much water. Our feet would slap slap slap the ground, counting out a rhythm out of tune with the rain drops whoosh, all at once. Over and over. We ran from the sidewalk to a path through the Texas state capitol’s grounds. Our clothes and hair were soaked all the way through, puddles in my shoes. I had been hanging with a bunch of do-gooding out of towners and they were all like, Drought. Yeah, right. I know, it doesn’t seem like it right now, but it’s true. We ducked back inside to hear more speakers and we stood at the back, because, soaked. I thought about the […]

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Just Write {100}

September 3, 2013

This is (WOW) the 100th installment of Just Write. Please join me in free-writing your (extra)ordinary stories, your memories, your moments. I would love it if you would…. Here’s to 100. *clink clink* ::::: These were the best fajitas I’ve had in…well, maybe ever. The kids jumped in the trampoline outside, yelling and screaming and bumping into each other on purpose and sweating a lot. Ryan stayed home with an under the weather Elsie who needed bed. Miles rode his scooter, ahead of us and Asher walked with me, behind. He held my hand. He still loves to hold my hand. More and more I want to hold these days and these moments in my hand and keep them for as long as possible because they feel more and more slippery. And then there are other times, in these young years when the whining and waking up over and over and the diapers […]

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Just Write {98}

August 19, 2013

{Just Write simply means that I “just write” without hesitation, not stopping to edit. I end up saying what the page says, not on purpose, sometimes clearly, sometimes not. Feel free to join me.} We sat out on the front porch in the seventy degree beautiful Minnesota evening weather and went through the year book from 1993. It was the weekend of our 2oth reunion and we are two friends from fifth grade on, still sitting together when we can, like on the night before our reunion. Her big brown eyes are the same and her naturally curly mane of brown hair. Actually she looks the same, only better. I noticed that about so many people this weekend. Twenty years have gone by and they look better than ever, like they’ve grown into themselves, maybe even found out that they are as great as I always thought they were and then got all […]

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I was in my early twenties, it was winter and the friends I had grown up with were in town for the holidays. We were younger and had fewer responsibilities, most of us. Some of us by choice and some of us just…because. There were a few of us with families and/or real jobs and all those other “grown-up” things. I was not one of those. I was partying a lot and wanting to stay unattached to real responsibilities, but I didn’t even realize that’s what I wanted. I thought it just was what it was, but I was wrong. The truth was that I had a really unhealthy relationship with alcohol, starting back then, right then. Not only that, I had a really unhealthy relationship with myself. I would drink so much that my insides would hurt, while my liver fought to process. I blamed it on other things, like maybe an […]

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  *raises right hand* I, Heather King, do solemnly swear to, Never say any version of the following to you, ever: “OH you think it’s hard now? Just you wait!” (terribly invalidating and unproductive) “You just need a break!” (HOW? HOW DO YOU GET A BREAK? And then HOW, HOW IS IT EVER GOING TO BE LONG ENOUGH?) “Oh I remember those days!” (No. No I won’t. No matter how clear I think it is, it is not clear.) “Well, you’re going to miss this! Mark my words.” (Sure, fine. But that’s not NOW, so…) “It goes so fast!” (Yes, in some ways, it does. But no, NOT today.) “Those were the best years!” (Yes, they were. And also, NO they were not.) I will not say these things at the grocery store, the big box store, the gas station, a parking lot or the medical clinic. I will not say them at […]

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Just Write {81}

April 15, 2013

We entertained them in the car with stories from our lives before they came. They asked questions about the most exciting parts. Daddy, do you think the eyes in the dark by your tent were a bear or a cougar? Mommy, when you got lost in Canada, where were you supposed to be? Why did you move to Michigan and then move back one week later? We laughed and laughed, dramatizing parts of our true stories for effect, their eyes wide. Back home, we shushed them and rushed them to bed. Miles came to the kitchen for “one more” drink of water and looked at me with big blue eyes over the top of his small glass. He took a big breath after a big gulp and sighed out, Mommy? Yes, Stall-y Stallerton?  Has anything bad ever happened to you? He says this softly and I feel my heart in my throat… Yes, I […]

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The truth is, I was scared of her, and I will be again and again, but not right now. Today I’m remembering that we’re simply here to learn alongside each other. She’s my not even two-year-old daughter, and I have feared her. Maybe it’s not her, exactly, but rather, her fierce femaleness. Even the very best things, like femininity, can be terrifying and misunderstood–a girl, a lady, a woman–beautiful and complicated and strong, gentle, sweet and soft and then mean. I only know so far that my Elsie Jane will never stop surprising me, and that’s maybe what brings on the fear–the unknown. She goes from slightly shy to an uproar of out-going. She goes from falling asleep quickly and quietly for many nights to fighting it again night after night, like she forgot she was trying to win at something and now she’s going to take it to a whole new level. […]

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January 28, 2013

Most of us don’t want to be viewed as fragile, but here we are. Show me the human spirit that hasn’t been broken in some way. How do parts of us break if not fragile? Be fragile. It’s fine. We were all born fragile. You know, that floppy head attached to a weak little neck, a wide open space in our skulls, vulnerable to poking toddler sibling fingers. There are people who don’t break down easily. The ones we commend for appearing to be made of steel; so strong, so positive, just carrying on. Part of me used to strive for that because I guess it seemed like it went along with wisdom and strength, valor and heroism or something. No more. I’m fragile and I know it. Without this fragility, I’m not as empathetic as I’d like to be and no matter how much it hurts to hurt so often, I’d rather […]

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Just Write {65}

December 10, 2012

I pressed the coin into his glove-covered hand. I want you to have this. It’s the first one I got. It’s the 24 hour one, they give it to you even if it’s been more than 24 hours.  It had been a month when I showed up for the first time. I was white knuckling it. I was terrified. Not drinking for the rest of my life seemed like a bad idea. Turns out it really is all about taking 24 hours at a time. One sober person told me at the beginning, don’t think. what are you doing thinking? You can’t think about it!  That’s like telling me to stop breathing, that’s what I thought. I suppose he meant something about not thinking about this being for the rest of my life. Just for today. I can do anything for one day, right? Today was no joke, almost three years later. I […]

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I wish I would have thought to write down every good thing that hit me in the gut that I’ve heard at recovery meetings. I haven’t. I would love to leaf through that notebook, to be reminded of all the simple truths spoken there. Many of them I’ve heard so many times, but on certain days, I finally really hear them. It would be so nice to look in my notebook, at a date in a corner, to see when I first “got” something and to ask myself if I still have it. In reality, I have no way to do that, except to keep going back. That’s how I’ll be refreshed, I think. When complacency or pride slips in, I can hustle in the door and it will slam behind me and everyone will turn to see and then I’ll sit down and hold my coffee and be changed. All the truths […]

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An Open Letter

November 9, 2012

{posted with permission, after reading each other’s words and deciding to post together. Vikki is co-directing LTYM Minneapolis with yours truly, and it’s a crazy good thing to be working with her.} Dear Vikki, I know there are a lot of political issues and I care about those issues, but yesterday (election day) you were heaviest on my heart. Maybe because we had lunch this week. Maybe because you shouldn’t have to be an issue. Isn’t that such a big part of it? People were voting about you, not just marriage, even if they don’t see that. That’s how it must feel. That’s how it feels to me. I try to imagine what it would be like if I were you, and I think I’d feel like a puppet and not a person–a stereotype, a label, a cardboard cut-out signage version of the all of me. All these months, while ads blared and […]

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one of the best parts of having chickens is the entertainment. kids especially love to come over and try to hold them, like they’re puppies. until the wings start flapping…because chickens generally don’t dig being snuggled…   our friends C and K were over yesterday, with they’re mom, Honda. (That’s not her real name, but it might rhyme with that.) Anyway, I told K, Honda’s youngest daughter, that the black chicken has only been held once since it was tiny because she’s so fast and she really quite hates being held. K chased that black chicken for I don’t know how long, through dog poop and under trees and around all the things. Until she caught her! and then she and Honda were both very proud. and C dared to touch the black hen…with one finger…   and all was well with the backyard chicken world…   for a moment…     because […]

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Poems for Ordinary People

October 13, 2012

Carol Allis describes her book of poetry as “poems for and about ordinary people and the things that mean most to us.” On the back of her book it says, “She wants to help bring back the loving link that used to exist between ordinary people and their poets.” Not all poetry can be understood, right? And sometimes I read it and wonder if I’m not very smart. Then I remember that poetry is art and it’s not always meant to be understood. Or, it’s meant to be understood however you need to understand it, and that’s pretty magical. The thing about Carol Allis’ poetry is that it’s not over-simplified, and yet it resonates deeply because it truly is for the ordinary person. Like me, a mother in Minnesota with three children who can see herself in the midst of the words about the daily grind and the simple moments of life. I […]

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Just Write {56}

October 8, 2012

I have a plan, she says. Oh good, I love plans. What is it? I’m going to be an arm chair psychic and have my own television show. I know I’m psychic because I was thinking of a friend and then he called me.  We laughed a lot, at this. Yes, yes. Another great plan. Go for it. When people ask how you know you’re psychic, you have SO much proof. No problem! We talked about knowing things. About looking back on the past and celebrating the times we did not get what we thought we wanted. She said, I was going to move to Minneapolis and become a graphic designer. I mean, obviously, if you’re from small town Minnesota, that’s what you do, you strive to move to the Twin Cities. Many of us, anyway. I never did get to Minneapolis, but I’ve had a really interesting life. I got all choked […]

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