A homeless mother, a merciful stranger, and how I learned warriors cry.

Hannah cauhepe on Unsplash
Some stories are meant to be heard.

I met god in the gutter in my low, blind survival days.

Been held by the goddess of compassion outside the welfare office

Unmet, no names exchanged.

But I still feel her quivering hands patting my back as my shoulder wrenched with the weight of a baby carseat.

Because she was a mother in my shoes

She told me

In her way back when

And she knew the hopelessness that comes with institutional mercy.

She cradled my strained face in satin concrete hands as honey brown eyes held mine.

Tied a lifeline to…


Passing down my Grandmother’s kitchen conspiracy while I cook and write my book.

Pranav Kumar Jain on Unsplash

I am a whirling goddess of broth, simultaneously tending the present of stovetop and curating memory.

Billowing curtains of steam envelop me as I free it from its lidded pressure, beginning the evaporation that will lead to rich flavor of the turkey bone broth. My pores open and drink in the rich scents of this rustic spa.

The gentle sizzle of squash and aromatics play a welcome white noise, allowing me to wrangle my past into prose. Bold oranges and greens soften with the flesh as they muddle and murmur together in the pan.

I can almost smell the fragrances…


But her death may have kept me alive.

Anastasia Vityukova on Unsplash

My precious aunt took her life when I needed her most, afraid of trusting society to allow her death when she chose. We have degenerative conditions in our family that are… merciless.

I always wondered if she would have stayed had the right to die been an option in our world. Instead, she chose to leave while she retained her ability to make the decision. Before her body failed and she faced the fate of my grandfather.

She was a selfless woman, a retired Children’s Services worker, the soft spoken glue of our family. …


A badly printed quote changed my family’s future. Even my cat understood the message.

Joshua Rondeau on Unsplash

Enlightenment doesn’t care about its packaging, nor if you get it right away. I’ve decided it’s sort of like a benevolent mismanaged delivery service, drunk on past success and confident the message will get through eventually.

My belated shipment was pinned in an unobtrusive corner of a caseworker’s office on a faded piece of paper. As an avid reader, I’m sure I’d read variations of the printed quote many times.

I’m also sure it would have passed by again had several factors not come together perfectly. …


Reflections on the haven I found after a lifetime of abuse, and the gifts lovers left behind.

Jonathan Borba on Unsplash
Dead lovers' hidden treasure.

My realtor friend dubbed this century farmhouse “the house that love built” after I relayed my pre-purchase research on its history.

I still haven’t uncovered all of it, but we know it was held for the last few decades by a couple who died within days of each other.

In a small box, in a small drawer tucked in the sewing desk was a key.

There is a giant towering maple out front with an ancient heart carved nearly 20 feet up its massive trunk. …


Lines on healing the healer.

Linas Bam on Unsplash

This body is becoming less strange
In my pause before showers
Reacquainting with myself
When I can manage

Hello
I see you
I know you
Are you the me that others see?

I missed the boat to delight in youthful perfection
As most of us do
So now I see through scars I allowed the world to carve in me
Down through the bookmarks of time

And I don’t have to pull flesh anymore to see the me that was
I don’t want to
I see the me that survived
In all her sterilized post-maiden pre-crone glory

Mother without the…


Has COVID changed their entire future?

Photo by Rene Bernal on Unsplash

We’re a music festival mentality family, and part of that means high touch socialization. Our plan for the future revolved around not only supporting our local scene, but entwining its success with ours and doing our part to strengthen it.

But what happens to our circle of music, laughter, sweat equity and tactile gatherings in a global pandemic? What happens to the fragile world of Ohio music festivals when we can’t pull the patchwork income that keeps families invested and involved?

What keeps me awake is the uncertainty of it ever coming back.

Amazon ‘saved items’ quietly recall what would have been.

My online shopping receipts from March 5th…


COVID mindset has me parenting like I’m dying.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

The country song that inspired my subtitle has been intermittently stuck in my head since 2004. Not a huge fan, but it’s the broccoli of my brain’s teeth. It’s been on random repeat since last month though, and I’m finally not too annoyed by it.

I’ve spent a lot of time around elders, both through end of life care and hanging out in different capacities. One memory I can’t shake lately since COVID-19 rocked our world is the many times they’d recall their ‘last good day’, before the fall or illness, or before their loved ones passed on. …


Lean on others without drowning them.

Photo by Akshar Dave on Unsplash

I haven’t really reached out to my circle through COVID-19. All my thoughts seem toxic right now and I don’t want to spread them, never knowing what level of anxiety they’re grappling with at the moment.

I’m used to being the sounding board, a fanatical advocate for feeling the feels without fear. I’ve been told I make others feel able to accept themselves and their situations, that they need a regular dose of my company even. Hey, I’ll take it.

But now? Who am I now, when my whole world has shrunk to the size of my husband’s shadow as…


The cost of keeping my family healthy tripled during COVID-19, and we’re not alone.

Photo by Nicolas Ukrman on Unsplash

With advisories to stay home not only if you’re symptomatic, but to slow community spread of the virus, anybody that can order groceries online is punching that button.

So what’s the cost of social responsibility? According to my numbers, about 400 bucks.

But that sensible safety protocol comes at a price much higher than the average grocery budget. In my home, I shop almost exclusively at ALDI with an average $90 cost to feed my family of five for two weeks. …

Jessica Ball

City mouse in a country house, training the trauma out of the family tree. Sharing 20 years of intentional observation with my kids and the eternally curious.

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