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The Amethyst and Avery’s Heart

One day last week, I spoke at the Black Dog Coffee House in Logansport. It was a big step outside my comfort zone, and, never confident, I wore my favorite amethyst necklace for luck. I saw some friends, Savanna and Bryce, before the talk. They introduced me to Avery, their little girl. Before I “went on,” Avery gave me a little red heart to keep. I slipped it into my pocket, pushed the comfort zone into the corner, and started to talk.

I wondered how I would fill an hour because, you know, I’m just not that interesting. But it was something like an hour and twenty minutes later that Scott Johnson suggested we wind it down. A responsive audience made the whole experience so much fun I’m still thinking about it days later, still reaching up to touch the stone in my necklace and remembering. Still stroking my thumb over Avery’s heart.

I write romance novels, and when I finish a book, I tend to think of the hero and heroine staying where I left them, probably sitting on the couch in front of the fire smiling into each other’s eyes. As time goes on, they’ll have children, she’ll gain a few pounds, he’ll need bifocals. The cat and dog in the picture will change. The carpet on the floor will go over to hardwood and then on to a large area rug.

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Blessed Are the Curious

“Blessed are the curious, for they will have adventures.”

I don’t know who said it first. I saw it on Facebook this morning as I was dodging my way through, avoiding name-calling and cruelties and half-truths on my way.

Isn’t it the coolest thing? That saying, I mean, not Facebook. There are lots of ways to apply it on Facebook alone, since I already mentioned it. Telling the truth and avoiding name-calling and other cruelties are adventures I wish everyone would give a shot, but I don’t expect that to happen.

Back to the quotation, though, how much could we learn if we only remained curious, and what great adventure is there than learning about things we don’t know or understand?

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Of Gifts and Keys

I’ve been driving for mumble, mumble years. For months before I turned 16, I drove forward and backward the abbreviated length of our driveway so that if I learned nothing else, I had D and R figured out on the gearshift. I got my license, and never looked back. As much now as then, I love driving.

I admit traffic has lost whatever charm it may have had, and roundabouts are guaranteed to throw me into a panic attack on my third trip around them in search of my exit. The absence of turn signals—when did they remove them from cars?—and the preponderance of bright lights—heaven forfend you dim them when someone’s coming from the other way; that’s old school, right?—has made driving into a less-pleasant challenge. So has the slowing of my reflexes with age, the weird placing of Stop signs, and the fact that no one (myself included) always knows who goes first at an all-way stop.

So, 10 days or so ago, I had surgery. I’m doing great, feeling great, and have no complaints. Except that I can’t drive. Well, actually, I could, but am under doctor’s orders not to. Which means, I’m pretty sure, that if I snuck out from under my husband’s watchful eye and drove…say to church, which is less than 1000 feet away, and had a wreck, I’d be liable. So I’m not driving. Duane hasn’t even had to hide the keys to my car.

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It’s about respect.

That’s hardly an original idea. Most of us heard it growing up, many of us have said it as parents. Often. We’ve said it within our marriages (through gritted teeth sometimes, which is quite a trick but can be done), about the flag, and about the national anthem. About teachers and preachers and law enforcement officers and people in the military—past and present.

I’ve always thought it was pretty easy to be respectful. Even if you have biases—and we all do, whether we like admitting it or not—keeping them to yourself is a good thought. They’re a kind of poison, and if you spread them around, you’re spreading toxicity. It’s that spreading that teaches kids about hate, because they’re not born knowing it. I’m not trying to say it’s okay to have them as long as you don’t hurt anyone with them, but I am saying it’s better.

It’s also easy to be respectful of people you agree with, or ones who look like you or worship like you do or love like you do or never need anything from you. It’s easy when respect is part of a bandwagon thing where one finds safety in numbers. Although my ideology doesn’t entirely fit at church, I am nevertheless always safe there. Our likenesses are bigger and, I believe that in our hearts, they are more important than our differences.

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Between Two Shades of Blue

Last night—Thursday—I sat in the living room and started a disgruntled column on why I have the winter blues. Even though we haven’t really had winter to speak of yet and even though I don’t really have the blues, I just couldn’t think of anything new and different to say.

But now it’s Friday morning and sunrise is out there, brilliantly red and pink and purple. The lightening sky in the west is the most gorgeous shade of blue. I looked on a color chart and it was somewhere between Olympic and Azure. By the time I looked up from the chart, it was different.

Every time you look away, something changes. Seasons come and go. Decisions made in the heat of a moment will be wrong when the intensity cools. Or not. Sometimes they are stunningly, life-changingly right.

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What I Said Was…

“I don’t know what to write about,” I told my husband as we drove home from eating a lunch I didn’t cook—that’s the best kind. “I think I sound preachy sometimes, and I don’t want to do that. I’d like to write about something funny, only I’m not really feeling funny.”

He nodded. He’s good that way. I’m pretty sure he didn’t hear me.

“I was thinking I could make it ‘pick on your husband’ week. What do you think? I could write about…you know…your hearing.”

He took his eyes off the road long enough to scowl at me. “Not being able to hear isn’t funny. It’s as annoying to people who can’t hear as it is to people who have to repeat themselves.”

Oh, but I didn’t mean… “No,” I said, “I don’t mean about hearing. I mean about listening. You know, well, maybe you don’t because you never—but you probably don’t think that’s very funny, do you?”

He shook his head. He’s good that way. I’m pretty sure he didn’t hear me.

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Roaring into the 20s

It is a new decade. When you reach “a certain age,” life passes you by at the velocity of a bullet, but I can’t say I’m all that sorry to see the old one go. I’m also pretty worried about what this next one is going to bring. I’m even more worried about what we’re going to do with it, because I don’t think we did so well from 2010-2019.

Like the internet. I love the internet. It is, when it comes to research, a writer’s best friend. Without leaving your seat, you can find out what song was popular in 1990, the lyrics to said song, and when it’s genetically possible to have blue eyes. You can also check on whether things are true or not, thanks to the unhappy necessity for fact-finders. I know the internet isn’t a product of the last decade, but I believe its unfiltered access to “Hey, let’s see who we can hurt today” probably is.

Then there’s medication. Once again, I realize its high prices aren’t a product of the last decade—maybe—but I believe the highway robbery part of it is. I’m relieved that Narcan is available free for people who have overdosed, whether accidentally or because they’re trying to kill themselves. I’d be a lot more grateful if insulin and cancer drugs were free, too, or at least affordable to everyone who needs them. These people want to live and live well, yet that choice is being taken from them.

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Goals and sometimes

I don’t do resolutions, although I start each new year with some goals that sometimes I make (finish at least one book) and sometimes I don’t (lose fill-in-the-blank pounds). I hope each year will be an improvement over the last one, which sometimes works out and sometimes not.

I used “sometimes” a little too often in that first paragraph, didn’t I? But to tell the truth, it’s an important word. If you say “always” or “never,” you’re committed to something whether you want to be or not.

Like “I would never say that.” Sure, you would, if you were mad enough.

Or “I always wash the sheets every Monday.” Unless I forget.