The Gift of Disappearing – March 14, 2021

When I was a teenager, something strange started happening to me.  At random times with no apparent connection, I would become very dizzy.  Things would start to look fuzzy, I would become really clammy.  And then I would pass out.  The first time this happened, thankfully I was at home.  My mother of course panicked.  But I came to quickly.  And I was able to convince my parents that I didn’t need to go to the hospital or the doctor.  I probably just hadn’t had enough to drink or maybe I was coming down with something. [Read more…]

The Gift of Temptation – March 7, 2021

While any talent has since faded, I was a bit of a musician when I was younger.  Having no real desire to play sports in school, I still craved being part of a group which gave me a sense of belonging.  So I decided to join the band.  I was never one who liked to conform, to do what everyone else was doing.  While everyone was choosing an instrument like the flute or the trumpet to play, I began searching for something a little more unique. [Read more…]

The Gift of Uncertainty – February 28, 2021

Before I met Kathy, I had a pretty sketchy dating history.  Nothing against my former girlfriends, but they were not exactly marriage material.  My first girlfriend in college was a little unusual.  For example, I remember sitting outside my dorm building with her one night.  And when I looked over, I saw her eating something.  I wasn’t sure what that would be since, as far as I knew, she had brought no food with her.  But upon closer examination, I saw that she was eating some of the flowers planted in the landscaping where we were sitting.  When I asked her why she was eating them, she told me it was because they were beautiful. [Read more…]

The Gift of Emptiness – February 21, 2021

For the majority of my young life, the only thing that I felt gave me a sense of worth was my academic success.  Being recognized with awards, with scholarships, receiving the praise of my parents reinforced this.  It was not my looks, not my athletic skills, not my popularity.  And it was the need to continue to reinforce this sense of worth, along with some strong urging from my parents, which drove me to attend law school.  Finding my worth in my academic success transformed in adulthood to finding my worth in my career.  It was this desire to feed a sense of worth within which led me to a job at a law firm in Chicago.

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Entering the Dark Wood – February 14, 2021

It was customary in law school to take a big trip after graduation and after completing the bar exam.  It was our last chance to take an extended time off before starting our jobs.  Once we began working, we knew it would be months, if not years, before we got any vacation time.  My friend, we will call her Karen, graduated from her master’s program at the same time as me.  We had been friends since our freshman year of college, and both of us had always wanted to go to Europe.  So we decided we would take a two week trip, spending a week in London and a week in Paris.

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The One – February 7, 2021

For a period of time I served as the supervisor of the elder abuse program for McLean and Livingston counties.  And during that time, I encountered people in circumstances which I never knew existed where we live.  People who were enduring unimaginable hardships, living in isolation and heartbreaking conditions.  During one of my most memorable cases, I was contacted by a home health worker who was concerned about one of her patients.  We will call her Mae.  The worker had advised Mae’s family to complete an application for Medicaid so she could receive some needed services.   But Mae’s daughter had never followed through.  The worker didn’t think there was anything serious going on, but asked me to check in on her and possibly help her complete the application.  It sounded like an easy situation to handle, one that wouldn’t take up too much of my time as supervisor, so I decided to take the case myself.

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January 31, 2021 – Unexpected

Since I was a child, I always wanted to own a horse.  So when Kathy fell in love with the house we currently live in and I saw it had a horse barn, I was willing to go through the pain of moving.  Over the past several years, I had gained some confidence as a horseman.  Our family had traveled to a ranch out west before the pandemic.  On that trip, I went on an 8 hour loping ride through the badlands.  After that, I thought I could handle pretty much anything.  But I decided I should take some lessons before buying a horse so I could learn how to care for it.  Not necessarily to become a better rider.  I felt I had that under control. [Read more…]

Weight – January 24, 2021

Looking out my windows earlier this month, I was captivated by the ice which covered the trees after the ice storm.  We have many trees on our lot, and I have been surprised to see that not one of them has fallen.  Their branches have sagged greatly under the weight they have been holding.  Branches have broken or fallen to the ground.  But the trees have remained standing.  Seeing their sagging branches, knowing the strain they are under, I longed for warmer temperatures, hoping their burdens can be lifted.  Covered with ice, the trees looked beautiful.  But under that beauty there was strain holding up that weight and the constant threat of breaking completely. [Read more…]

Preparing to Sing – 1/17/21

One of my favorite movies is called “The Dancer Upstairs.”  There is a scene in the beginning of the movie where the driver and passenger in a car are listening to a song performed by Nina Simone called “Who Knows Where the Time Goes.”  The song begins the clip you just heard, with Nina Simone speaking rather than singing.  Confused as to why they are listening to this, why the singer is spending so much time speaking rather than singing, the passenger says to the driver of the car, “Why Does She Talk?”  The driver responds definitively, as if no other explanation is required, by saying, “She Is Preparing to Sing.” [Read more…]

January 10, 2021 – Stepping Stones

Growing up, I loved being outside.  Our house was across the street from the local park.  In that park, there was one place which was my favorite to go – a group of about 15 pine trees which grew together and formed a sanctuary in which I could hide.  I would spend hours climbing the evergreens and creating forts in the heights of their branches.

There was also a creek which ran behind our house.  During certain times of the year, this creek would flood.  And water would run through the park to the creek behind our house.  This was no small trickle.  It was like a raging river which divided my house from my beloved pine grove. [Read more…]