Skip to main content

Between the Lines


Writing a blog is kinda like inviting a bunch of strangers into my house. I'm not sure if you'll like it. My house might be smaller or bigger, messier or neater than the one you're from; I might hide all the piles of clutter really well or not. AND I've finally reached the conclusion that mine is fine. I like what I have, and that includes all the dusty blinds and so forth. You see, this is a people house. We live here, and make messes all the time. And we clean and repeat. We laugh sometimes, and cry sometimes. We say nice stuff and mean stuff. At the end of the day, this is where we belong.

Because my family moved so.many.times when I was growing up, I've lived in LOTS of houses. And this is my favorite house that I've ever lived in. Not because it's bigger or better or anything like that. Because I like me better than before. I've finally figured out how to be me and still balance all the other people; I'm 44.4 years old and finally brave enough to invite a handful of women to my house to eat cake or play scrabble or just sit and talk. I no longer care if it's perfect, because it's mine. And mine is fine.

So how does that relate to writing a blog? Well, here's the deal. These are my stories. If you like them, feel free to stay and read and hopefully we can relate to each other. If not, that's okay too. All of these "notes" are like letters or messages for my sisters, stuff I've learned that I wanted to scribble down on paper. This ceramic box was one of my childhood favorites; as you look more closely, you can see the little girl bear is writing a note and getting ready to put it in an envelope. So sweet!

But musical notes are a big deal to me too. I love the notes that I see printed on a page, a language that tells me how to make great melodies and chords and so forth. Many of my great ideas come from a song, whether it's the lyrics or the rhythm that stuck in my brain and helped teach a life lesson.

Let's say that music is about reading between the lines. When a stranger comes into my house, they see all.the.things. They see things I can't explain in words, things like color and texture and chaos and calm. When a person reads my stories, they can read between the lines. When they hear my music, it's like a melody or harmony that's playing in the background. They can hear the silence or the song, the quiet rhythm of a hymn or the angry drumbeat of a staccato. Any artist who shares something profound bares a bit of their soul. 

Because my family moved so many times, I got really good at meeting strangers and making friends. The Clifton strengths finder assessment calls this character trait "woo" or winning others over. For example, once upon a time I had a neighbor who never smiled. He had a great poker face, probably because he worked undercover for the gangs and drugs unit. Meanwhile, his wife was an open book, super chatty and friendly, and since she was my friend, I decided her husband was my friend as well. Every time I saw him outside, parking his car or in passing, I'd smile and wave. No response. Every time I saw him, poker face. No response. But I persisted. Maybe I tried even harder, thinking, "I know I can crack a smile out of this guy eventually." One day it happened. We had been neighbors for TWO YEARS. We were randomly passing as neighbors tend to do, I grinned and waved, and lo and behold, there it was: just the hint of a smile. Not an actual smile, but my delight was real. He finally decided to reciprocate. "He thinks I'm okay after all," I thought to myself. I've climbed a handful of mountains in my life, both literal and metaphorical, and this small moment felt just as satisfying. I'd won him over. The fact that I could eventually friend a guy that spent his time in a world of gangs and drugs, well, it made me realize that I can probably make friends with anybody. And because I've been lonely and friendless in the past, it's kinda my jam to look for new people or outliers or strangers, and welcome them in.

So here I am writing a bunch of stuff for my sisters and sisters-in-law and my church sisters and my neighborhood sisters. Glennon Doyle calls this "sistering" and I love this verb so much. I first read some of her magnificent ideas years ago. One of her posts that helped me so much was about a kitchen makeover and gratitude, it's called Give me Gratitude or Give me Debt.  A few years after that, I was introduced to this idea of sistering. There's a lovely video that explains it here: The Best Part of Life. Here's how she said it:

Carpenters know that the building block of a structure is the joist.

A joist is a special, strong beam that supports a greater structure.

Sometimes a joist has to carry such a heavy load that is starts to weaken.

When that happens, the carpenter connects another board to the left of the weakening board.

If that doesn’t strengthen it enough, she connects another board to the right and, with that extra support, the joist is strong enough to carry almost anything.

Guess what this this process of joist strengthening is called?  SISTERING!

You can’t build a strong, beautiful, complicated structure - whether it’s a building or a life – without SISTERING.

Women are special, strong people who hold up the world but sometimes life’s load gets too hard and heavy for them to carry alone.

I think the hard is purposeful: so that we’ll need our sisters.

If everything feels too heavy right now, it might mean that you need a sister to your left and a sister to your right to help steady you and strengthen you and hold you together.

It might be time for a sister joist.

My life is just a dance between being sistered and sistering others.

And my favorite thing about being part of a sister joist is that you don’t have to say the right thing, you just have to stand there and be strong.

SISTERING: it’s the best part of life because when I’m weak, then I’m strong.

Find your sister joists.

Be a sister joist.

One of my purposes in writing this blog is to keep and maintain connections with the women I love. Another purpose is to pass down ideas or hints that will help my younger sisters. Another purpose is purely selfish: it gives me a place to be seen and heard, especially when a mom's job is sometimes invisible or silent. Another purpose is to connect with new friends or neighbors. That's the whole point. We need each other, and one of my superpowers is meeting new people. I love to make new friends. So if you're here at my house for the first time, Welcome! If you've been here before, you already know to please look past all the clutter and debris, and just make yourself at home. If you've been lonely and feeling left out, I've felt that too. Maybe you'll find a friend while we're sitting here together. If you've run out of songs to sing or books to read, I have a bunch I'd love to share.


Popular posts from this blog

How Controlling Are You?

Life is like Mario Kart. In the early levels, you're driving through Moo Moo Meadows and the grass is green and there's cows and fields and it's lovely. There's an occasional banana peel that gets tossed in the path, and sometimes the cows walk in the road so you try not to hit them. But overall the driving is pretty mellow.  Then later after you've unlocked other levels, there's stuff like Bowser's Castle. It's a maze with lava on both sides of the path, there's fire and brimstone all around, there's stone columns that try to smash you at random intervals. Just to know where to go and how to steer and stay on the path is complicated. Some stages of life are like Moo Moo Meadows. The details are easy-peasy and you just keep moving right along. And then there are years like Bowser's Castle where it's pretty intense and you pray a lot because the fire around you is pretty hot and you're trying not to fall in the lava pit.  During years

Shoplifting: Tic Tacs at Target

 You know when you're at the store and one of your kids asks you to buy stuff? Then they ask again and again and again and again? My reply is usually something like, 'No, but thanks for asking.' And if they ask again then the reply goes something like, 'If you ask again, the answer will be no for like a week.' OR, "If you ask again, I'll take away your favorite toy," OR "If you ask me one more time, __________." Think of a punishment you will actually do! You can't make an empty threat here. If you don't have the energy to see it through, then just say yes. My older kids will often comment on how their younger sister gets a ton of stuff or privileges. If I'm tired and don't have the energy to win a battle, it's much better to JUST SAY YES the first time. That way, when I say NO on something, it carries more weight. So I explain to the older kids that they've already run me ragged and I no longer have the patience or st

2021 Christmas Card

December 2021  Dear Friends and Family, We love you and and miss y'all that are far away in WA and UT and other places!! This year we skipped our tradition of sending a Thanksgiving card and opted for a virtual Christmas card instead. It saved a ton of stamps and envelopes, but I definitely miss the glitter and sparkle. We hope you can feel our love even through a simple email or blog post. One tradition we couldn't skip was our gratitude tree, where the little leaves are a list of blessings. We are so thankful for God's goodness and mercy every day. Here's the highlight reel:  Cade graduated, made lots of Domino's pizza, read probably a thousand books, and is currently living in Provo, UT as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He's heading to Helsinki, Finland in January. We are so proud of him and his hard work, we miss him but are excited for his opportunity to learn and serve. Shad spent a zillion hours with Marcus Ban

Hair and random thoughts from a Brunette

Recently I've thought quite seriously about doing this to my hair. It might be so fun to have purple/blue highlights! I never dyed my hair in high school or college. Then when I was 37 the first few grey hairs appeared, ironically enough while I was pregnant. I've spent the last handful of years adding lots of blonde highlights.  Now my hair has a respectable amount of silver. It's kind of annoying. I'm learning to say farewell to being a brunette, because that young girl with the dark hair has grown up. Last month for Christmas, one of my favorite gifts that I GAVE to my little daughter was kinda fun. I spent like 20+ minutes at Target deliberating on which Barbies to buy. Finally I chose this group of friends for their amazing variety in hair!!  And I love each for different reasons. The dogwalking blonde is fun because my daughter really wishes we had a dog. The other three have accessories to be an astronomer, a teacher, etc. Ultimately, each Barbie is different fro


"How are you feeling about your son leaving soon?" has been my favorite question lately. My answer is kinda mixed. During July and August I was surprised and excited. Then on September 14 he flew to and from San Francisco by himself for a day. The purpose was a quick visit to the Finnish consulate for a visa. He had fantastic instructions to get from the airport to the BART to the consulate, but waiting for the interview took longer than planned. Leaving the consulate he had less than an hour until his flight was supposed to take off. That included a 32 minute tram ride, printing a boarding pass, airport security, etc. In all honesty, he should have missed that flight home. But he didn't. Call it a miracle or a test of faith, or whatever you want to call it. But for my boy who loves to be punctual, boarding a flight 7 minutes before take-off was pretty intense. Long story short, I think we all realized a few things that day. There are so.many.details I can't control,

My Day with Kay

 In order to set the stage for this story, first you must understand the setting and the two central characters. Ephrata, my father-in-law and me. Ephrata is a train town, and the Grant county seat since it's been there the longest. It's not like Seattle and not like Spokane; the exact center of Washington state is dry and dusty and reminds me of Nevada with two key substitutions: delete the casinos and add in the farmland. Ever since they dammed the Columbia River, irrigation makes for great farmland. They grow apples and potatoes, asparagus and corn, pears and grapes. This is the setting where my husband was raised.  My father in law was raised in a large family in southeast Idaho, not too far from Idaho Falls, Yellowstone and Grand Teton. He's one of 13 children. There are some overarching results of his humble childhood.  A person must never waste food. A person must never overspend.  A humorous remark is worth its weight in gold. Once you understand these operating pro

The Invisible Woman

Today I'm thinking about my mom. She spent a lot of years building and serving and lifting. She poured love and time and energy into her children, in a never-ending pattern. She did a hundred things that we still haven't noticed. I wonder if there's a coming of age that happens for a young mom, when she begins to realize how much work it is to BE a mom. Then maybe about two dozen years into this parenting thing, she begins to see  more stuff she missed. Then another realization comes when her oldest is almost grown. I'm still learning to see my mom and appreciate her as a person. But how can you see somebody who's been invisible? This morning I was talking with a good friend, another mom like me. She's younger and in a different season of mothering, yet we both can relate to sometimes feeling lonely. Sometimes we need evidence of progress, or at least a friendly word from a girlfriend. Maybe sometimes we just need somebody to notice and say thanks. Years ago I h

Happy Birthday Little Blog

Three years ago in the fall, I felt like it was time to start writing a blog. My reasons for doing so are deeply meaningful to me, so I'm taking a risk to share them publicly.  As much as I like writing, I'm not an expert. There's a lot of editing that goes on behind the scenes, whether I'm asking Norm to look for holes in my logic, or asking some of my writer friends to proof a post. I still owe my friend S cookies because she's an excellent editor, and I needed help with something recently and I'm pretty sure I offered baked goods in exchange. I need to take a critical writing class, a photography class, and a computer class. I'm not making any money here. All I'm doing is tossing my stuff out to the internet, and hoping that my story is helpful or useful or at least entertaining. I have two biological sisters, four sisters-in-law, and a whole bunch of sisters from Relief Society at my church. There are wonderful friends from BSF on Thursdays. I have n

No Spoons

You know when you want to eat cereal for breakfast and there's no spoons? Today's deep thoughts are a twist on that idea. Months ago I was talking with my sister about school and how she was ready to drop a class. She'd been super sick and was dealing with a lot of tricky stuff, so she emailed her professor and said, "I'm all out of spoons." Amazingly, this was a psych class + the professor really wanted her to pass + worked with her to finish a bunch of assignments = it wasn't necessary to drop the class. But the metaphor for spoons stuck in my brain. When a person says, "I have no spoons for this," it means that they're done. Their energy is gone and their capacity to handle any more details is gone. Let's rewind a bit, shall we? Spoon Theory  began when a woman with chronic illness was trying to describe her life to a friend in perfect health. In a nutshell, we each begin the day with a finite amount of energy. A person who is dealing

New to Utah

New to Utah: notes for Kim or anybody who's moved from out of state Hi Kim, Remember last year when we talked about how somebody should write a post with all the insider information?  Here you go - a bunch of random notes about Utah. Food ideas: Kneaders is a local bakery.  They're closed on Sundays, and every Saturday night starting at 8pm, almost the entire case of baked goods goes down to 50% off.  It's like Christmas but better.  The carrot cake is great, also the fruit tart... Krispy Kreme is also a win. When your kids get a good report card, take a copy and they'll stamp it and give you 6 free glazed donuts per kid.  That means with my three big kids, we're walking away with 18.  So delicious.  Also when you get there, take at least 20 minutes to watch the donuts rising and dropping in the oil.  That's a really fun field trip. Farm stands are great during the summer.  Look for the ones that are owned locally, right on the orchard.  (The Harward