Sunday, April 29, 2018


I have been writing stories in recent months that are sometimes just as painful to read as they are to write.  Truths, revelations, memories that now serve a purpose but once were shoved into the far recesses of my mind. Kept rather than discarded so that at one point, retrieval would be tricky, yet still possible.  I now understand that many of my memories are just that. My memories. Other people that were present remember the happenings of a given day, yet they remember the experience first hand. They remember it from their point of view. They will remember what they saw, what they heard, what and how they felt and sometimes even what they tasted and smelled. Our memory holds onto everything, sometimes too much information about important events.  What I find even more interesting is the fact that what I believe was important isn't even remembered at all by other people that were present.

My sister Angie and I are 19 months apart. Forgive me. Angela.  Angie was the name that she went by when we were in Junior High and High School and I have never been able to adjust to call her Angela. Still, to this day when I introduce her to someone, I call her Angie. She quickly and kindly corrects me by saying Angela and extends her hand or a warm hug in greeting. She is older and I never let her forget it. Those 19 months are important. There are only the two of us girls in our family.  Our mom passed away just over 5 years ago and our dad moved across the country about 28 years ago.  Just two Minnesota sisters trying to make life work on our own.

Angie was a ridiculously amazing dancer when she was young. At 2, she was the youngest to ever compete at the Minnesota State Fair. She danced for 10 years and traveled everywhere competing. She decided her dancing days were done and took up the clarinet and of course excelled at becoming 1st chair immediately. Her exposure to music through dance and movement and her ability to sight read music enabled her to learn at twice the pace as everyone else. Playing in the band enabled her to travel and develop great close friendships with other band members.

I have always admired my sister. She is what I call a fierce friend.  She loves her friends fiercely and is forever loyal.  Because she was born and raised in Forest Lake, and now only lives a couple of towns away, she has had the fantastic opportunity of fostering some of the same friendships that she had growing up. Those tried and true few have now become her people, her circle, as an adult. She is helpful, encouraging, intelligent, a natural born leader and organizer. She is the friend others seek out when they are in turmoil. She is the one that friends can depend on.  She is the one that loves until it hurts.

Angie and I however, were not always close. We struggled. I thought she was mean. She would call me names, make fun of me in front of the neighbor kids and tease me in front of her friends when they came over. We would holler and scream at each other. Our mom, bless her heart, would often just throw her hands up in the air and say, "Figure it out. It is just the two of you. It isn't that hard to be nice to each other." Well, I thought it was very difficult to be nice to a sister that was so rude to me every chance she got.  I found that ignoring her and creating distance was going to be my only reprieve.  I started singing when I was nine and found that acting in plays was an amazing activity in junior high.

As we got older, things didn't really get much better, so we lived somewhat separate lives. Angie started dating at 15, and then I didn't see her anymore. She was rarely home. Being extremely intelligent, she needed to put very little effort into homework and projects. She was always done in record time and then would be gone many evenings. I liked it. The peace.  But then she started making some poor choices and staying out late.  Everything changed. No longer were Angie and I arguing and fighting, it was now Angie and our mom butting heads.  Angie knew she was taking liberties and ignoring my mom's parental authority, but didn't really care.  They started to fight constantly.  I hated it. I hated the idea of going home. I hated the idea of them being home together while I was trying to study. I hated the thought of possibly bringing a friend home and having them overhear one of their many arguments. I was embarrassed.

Our mom would stand outside her door and shout for what seemed like hours. I thought I was going to loose my mind.  I once left my room and approached my mom standing outside her door. "What do you think you are accomplishing by standing here yelling at her?She is just going to hate you more the longer you insist on screaming through that closed door. I hate you both most of time and I hate living here!"  I watched my mom crumble. At first she was ready to retaliate. Probably tell me to go back to my room or find something to do. But then she was silent.  Not a word, nothing. Her eyes glossed over, she reached for my shoulder, gently squeezed it and nudged me backwards and out of her way. She turned and entered her room and closed the door behind her.

Ah. This is what I had wanted. Silence. But not this kind of silence. Not this eerie quiet that seemed to swallow our house whole.  My mom must have exited her room that night, but I don't remember hearing her. She may have waited until she knew I was asleep.  My young mind thought, yes! I did it! I made them stop fighting.  Woo-hoo!  But my young mind didn't understand that yes, they stopped fighting, but I had hurt my mom's heart in the process.  I woke the next morning at 6 something, quickly dressed and did my hair, packed my bag and ran to the bus without ever checking on our mom.  I asked Angie if she had talked to our mom since last night, and she responded with a curt, "Thank God, no!"

I didn't talk to my mom until two days later. Two days. That is a lot of time in between talking and not talking to a parent. She was home when I got home from school on the bus. I didn't have play practice that afternoon and was excited to just go home and relax for a bit before tackling a mountain of math homework.  She rounded the corner from the kitchen as I entered the house. She asked how my day was and if I was hungry without ever making eye contact.  I said it was a good day, I was glad I didn't have play practice and that I had stupid amounts of homework.  She made me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread and said she would have a simple dinner for us ready in a couple hours. That was it. She didn't say anything else.

That Joy I felt over not hearing her fight with my sister the last couple of days, turned to dread. My mom must hate me because I talked to her like that.  She is going to unload a heap of punishment on me.  I was going to be in so much trouble my life as I knew it was going to change. I was scared.

Angie wasn't home that evening. It was just mom and I at the kitchen table. She shut off the old black and white TV that sat on corner of the large table my dad had made years before. "I am sorry. I sorry for everything Angie and I have put you through. I am sorry for all of the yelling, all of the fighting.  You don't deserve this. I am going to try harder with your sister to get along with her and see things from her point of view.  I am just sorry that I let it get this bad. "  I sat staring not sure if I should say something or what I should do. "I want to ask you something.  Do you hate me? Do you hate your sister? It is just the three of us trying to make this work. I don't think my heart could take it if you hated me because of how bad things have gotten here at home.  I love you and Angie. A lot.  And I am so thankful that you are my kids. I might not be the best mom, but I never knew that I was going to have to do this parenting thing on my own. I don't really know what I am doing. I know when I am angry, I yell.  It doesn't make me feel better, but I think if I yell, your sister will know how much her choices anger me."

Right there and then everything became clear. My mother was hurting. She felt alone in life. As a parent, she was alone. She didn't feel equipped and she knew she was blowing it. She actually thought I hated her.  She was just trying to get through these years of us being teenagers, keep us alive and keep her sanity in check.  She didn't feel she was succeeding at any of it.

I then shared with my mom what was working and I felt wasn't working. She listened respectfully, nodded in agreement and asked in depth questions to help her understand more about what I thought and felt.  She said she would try harder at being silent and showing Angie more love. That she would try to make things easier for all three of us in our home. She also told me that she was sorry that I had felt the need to escape into activities and commitments, friendships and relationships that would enable me to spend as much time as possible out of the house.

My mom had figured me all out. She knew what I was doing. Those boys I was dating, I didn't care for most of them. They drove cars and could take me away. Away from my home. Away from the yelling. Those plays and friendships brought me so much happiness. One friendship in particular, another Angela, God bless her and her mother as they my saving grace.  I could spend all day every day with Angela and often did. Her mother welcomed me to every outing and enabled me to stay over and swim and enjoy life in a quieter setting. I will be forever grateful to both of them. The name Angela. They must all be good people.

My mom and I started talking more. I stopped avoiding her. I stopped avoiding being home. No, my mom and my sister's relationship didn't change much until quite some time later, but it did change. My sister matured and realized that the relationship she had with our mom was the only one like it she would ever have and that it was one they were going to have repair. Sooner than later.  I realized that the three of us were a team. A small family unit that needed to work together rather than against. And the three of us didn't really have a clue what we were doing. But taking a swing at life all alone, wasn't working for any of us.  Angie put in an effort in conversations with my mom and I gave my mom space and grace when she messed up.  My mom started realizing that her parenting needed to change as we were getting older, she realized her speech and actions also needed to be addressed.

Angie and I struggled until the summer before my senior year. At camp, she and I had a great conversation and we actually became friends. She was more than a sister. I was able to call her friend. Remember that fierce friend I mentioned earlier? That fierce friend loved me. She encouraged me. She spoke truth to me. She stood by me and supported me. She didn't leave my side after that. We didn't have to go at life alone anymore. Sisters by birth and family by choice.

Our relationship as adults these past 25 years looks nothing like it did growing up. We struggle, we call each other. We laugh together. We schedule afternoons of lunch and shopping. We enjoy each other's company. We uplift each other in prayer and love each other's children as if they were our own. Most importantly, we love each other fiercely.

Now that our mom has passed, it is the two of us, taking a swing at life as sisters and as friends. I love Angie. I mean Angela. I love Angela. I feel honored that God thought pairing us together would be the best sister relationship for both us. Now, I fully understand that if I were to ask Angie if she remembered this story, her recollection would be quite different. She would speak of what it felt like to be behind that closed door and to hear so much yelling. She would talk about how hurt she was, and possibly how alone she felt. I have been meaning to talk with Angie about this, but this memory came out of my fingertips before we could chat. Angie? What do you remember? Tell me you remember hugs and love and that the three of us really did make a good team. Make me laugh, hug me close and amaze me with another story only you can tell.

I am the dealer of words. And today those words have healed. Those words have healed me.

Friday, April 20, 2018

I Don't Mean To Brag

A friend asked me the other day if I minded that my writing posts on social media don't get very many likes.  I kid you not.  Even I didn't have a response to this question.  I sat there dumbfounded. Not sure how to respond. If I should make a joke out of it or respond honestly.

I have been actively writing for less than two years.  Blogging for only 9 months. When I started writing, I discovered the long forgotten joy that writing brought me.  When I was a kid, my dad and I enjoyed writing short stories together.  I took my first stab at writing a book when I was junior high. Made it about 80 handwritten pages in and abandoned the project altogether.  When I was in high school, I discovered my love of poetry and story telling through short statement sentences. 

I had a few great teachers who influenced me and encouraged me to keep writing.  I completed a poetry assignment of 20 poems and handed it in two days after it was assigned. I had two more weeks before it was due, the teacher took it from me and said, "Are you sure you don't want to spend a little more time on it?"  I told her no, I worked hard and was ready to hand it in.  She started to page through the packet and and asked, "How did you come up with 20 poems in 2 days?"  I told her I had a free period the last two days and wrote them out on the computer in the library.  She stared at me. "You wrote 20 poems in 2 days? You didn't write any of these poems beforehand?"  I confirmed, 20 poems in 2 days. She was silent for such an uncomfortable amount of time, I had to say something. "Great. I will see you Friday in class."

Poetry flowed out of me. I could hardly contain it.  Even if I wanted to. I wasn't sleeping well at the time, I was working thorough a lot of emotions and feelings and all those teenage woes made great food for fodder. I wrote about relationships with my parents, with friends, with boys. I wrote about a relationship that needed to cease. 

I was asked by the same teacher to stay after class on Friday. I completely panicked. She must have hated my poetry packet. I was going to fail this class as it was 50% of my grade. I approached her desk as all of my classmates exited the classroom and felt tears poking at the corners of my eyes. "Kelli. Your poetry packet is amazing. You have a clear voice. A distinct way of communicating what you want using a very limited amount of words. I could tell the two required rhyming poems were challenging for you. But I found them whimsical, humorous and delightful.  I doubted your ability to complete this project in such a short amount of time.  I should have never doubted you.  I am giving you a perfect score. You exceeded my expectations on both content and effort. Well done.  I will be using two of your poems in class as encouragement to the other students."

Encouragement to the other students? Wait. What?  I asked her not to use my name. She said no problem. She wanted to use one of the fun rhyming poems as an example that sometimes the best things come out of not trying too hard. I wasn't sure if that was actually a compliment or not. But I wasn't going to ask any further questions. 

I quickly exited the classroom and headed to my locker so I could race to my next class.  I smiled the rest of the day.

I was inspired. My teachers compliments were all that it took to inspire me. Words of affirmation from an adult other than my parents.  I continued to write poetry for the remaining portion of the two weeks and knew that I was improving each time I hit the save button on the library computer.  When my poems were shared in class the next week,  silence followed after the first one. I wrote about that relationship that needed to cease.  I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible, but I knew I was fidgeting in my seat and probably was the most unnatural shade of red all down through my neck.  

"Okay.  Was this poem written by a girl? Because that was beautiful.  A boy wouldn't be able to talk that way about something he wants but knows he shouldn't have. It makes me want to know what happens next."  Nodding and agreement. Our teacher proclaimed a mighty, "YES!  That is what good poetry should do. It should make you want more.  You should be intrigued from the first line and it should make you desire more. It should make you feel something deep inside. It should change you. It should make you think differently."

Our teachers words spurred me on to write even more. All those hours I was awake at night made me burn through notebook after notebook. I wanted people that read my work, to want more. I wanted them to be hooked from the first line. I wanted them to desire more. And I wanted them to think differently and to be changed. 

I continued writing and felt so fulfilled. I was proud of myself.  I felt better about who I was and felt that I had a purpose. To write. Even if only for a short time. Writing gave me a purpose.  Life happened and I wasn't then writing as much. I worked hard the summer before college and then felt utterly consumed by moving away and overwhelmed by college and the workload that was expected. I sat down to write one night at school, and nothing. Nothing. I had nothing to write about. I didn't feel inspired to write. I felt I should do it because I hadn't. It felt like a task. It no longer brought me joy. It started to stress me out. 

Filled notebooks and blank notebooks sat on my shelf above my desk in my dorm room. And they continued to sit there. By the end of my freshman year, I had completely abandoned my love for writing. 

I have filled all of these past 25 years with some pretty amazing things. I got married, worked in a profession I loved and  succeeded in. I was blessed by having two children.  I started two companies and enjoyed the work.  I began to write articles for the local newspaper when artists or writers came to town.  I would write about their life, their career, and my impressions of their speaking engagement. Sometimes, I would have a prearranged interview set up with them and others times would just make a point of asking questions and recording the answers. 

I believe myself to be pretty savvy on social media. (That is a lie. I am a stalker at best. I would track those coming to town down on social media and assault them with numerous private messages until they answered me and agreed to an in person interview or to respond to my questions. My shenanigans worked more often than not. ) Each of my articles were accepted at the paper. I was so excited.  Was I a writer? I sure was. I was writing more, and writing well. I thought I would take another stab at writing. 

Once I began, I found that only about a dozen or so poems were ready to be written.  But I sat down and found I had a story to tell about my mom. My mom died about 5 years ago now.  She was so young, only 67. She was a ridiculously quirky woman who never met a person she didn't love. I wanted to write about her. I wanted to write about my childhood with her as my mom. I wanted to honor her.  I started writing short, one or even two page stories, every week or so.  Then the stories about being a special needs parent came to mind.  And about organizing your home and life, which is my line of work.  Mostly, I wrote about my daily life. About conversations I had with my kids and my friends. And sometimes I even wrote about the conversations I had with complete strangers.  

When I wrote a story, it was about something important. A lesson I had learned. Something that brought me joy.  Something that maybe still made me ache today.  They were stories about memories I held dear.  But when I told my stories, they were stories I thought others would also like to hear.  I felt they were stories that others needed to hear. Subject matters that would touch hearts and maybe even heal them.  Stories that others could have written themselves. I wanted  other people to know they were not alone. 

I began submitting stories to dozens upon dozens of companies that specialized in story telling.  I was quickly discouraged as I received 29 declines in my first 6 weeks. 29.  But then yes. Another yes, we would be happy to publish this piece.  And even, what else can you send us?  Editors started emailing me and actually asking for more samples of my work.  

Absolutely, it feels great when a contract for printing is received. I have published with 20+ different companies and organizations and continue to submit weekly. 9 months ago when I started blogging, I didn't just blog about my daily life, I added in all of the poems that I wrote, some of the newspaper articles and the books reviews.  I also started including all of my life stories in my blog. 

And to the original question. Does it bother me that so few people like my writing posts on social media? No. The honest answer is no. How many people read my blog on a consistent basis? I don't know.  But you know what matters to me? The messages that people send me or write on posts. The times when people ask me for help in solving a similar situation. The times when people tell me they are ready to call their mom and ask for forgiveness. But most of all, I enjoy the thank you's. Thank for being honest. Thank you for writing about something that hurts. Thank you for helping me figure out this whole special needs parenting thing.  Thank you for making me cry, I needed that.  

"Kelli,  I don't know you.  We have never met. But we have friends in common.  I wanted to tell you I found your blog.  I can't stop reading.  Were we twins and separated at birth? You and I are the awkward honest girls. The ones that cry watching the news and retelling stories. Thank you for not making me feel so weird."  Those are the messages that make me want to write more. 

"Oh sweet Zach. I read your article in the paper.  I had the joy of helping him at school a couple times last year.  I miss him so much. He was always smiling and so funny.  I liked reading about your daily lives.  Thank you for the insight into special needs parenting."  Special needs teachers.  I want to hug you. Thank you for all that you do for my son everyday. Thank you for your patience, your ability to teach and your love for my son.

I have started writing a book. For real this time. A real book.  With chapters and page numbers and everything.  This book will be more of the same. More of what makes me laugh. What makes me cry.  More stories I think others will want to hear. Stories others need to hear. No, I won't ever sell a million copies, and make a bunch of cash.  But I will have told my story, filled my life with even more joy, and connected with people I have never even met.  Hopefully inspired someone along the way.  And that sounds like a mighty fine endeavor to me.  

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Music Makes the World Go Round or Sing Really Off Key

I listen to a lot of music and a lot of books on CD.  When I am doing the dishes, folding laundry, cleaning bathrooms and picking up kids stuff, I love to have music playing in the background. When I am in the car, I like to listen to books.  There have been some mighty winners. (Capote, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picoult, Lamott, biography's by Rob Lowe and Julie Andrews. The list goes on and on.)  When I turn on music in the car, it is often in times of worship and prayer or I feel the need to put on a solo concert.

At home, my kids pretend to moan and groan each time they hear me say, "Alexa. Play Sam Smith from my library." Or, " Alexa. Play Adele 25."  The best is when I say, " Alexa, play Lauren Daigle from Pandora."  My daughter knows that I will only be available when the list has played itself out and dinner is ready to be served.  Eye rolls commence when I ask for a song to be repeated.

Today, when Lily was playing with a neighbor friend, they decided to go upstairs and play dollhouse in the loft. I was folding laundry in the living room. I was enjoying hearing them play, but then she realized I was listening. So I said, "Alexa, play Sam Smith from my library."  She pretended to groan again and I laughed. Within a minute I hear her singing, "All that I am asking, is for a little clarity. That's all that really matters to me. Ooo, it hits me without warning, tears are in my eyes..."  "Oh, I light up a cigarette. I drink it down til there's nothing left. And I can't get no sleep. Lord knows there's no relief....and I drown in my bitterness.  I can't get no Peace. No peace. "   Then she says to me in an elevated voice, " Mom, I know I always complain when you are listening to music, but I always find myself singing it.  I love this song. "

Needless to say we had a very important conversation about not ever drowning her heartache or sorrows with cigarettes or liquor. She laughed.  "Mom, I like everything else about that song. Not the cigarettes and liquor.  Also, I don't know if anyone is ever going to break my heart."  Good girl.  We then had a conversation about inevitable heartbreak. She laughed at me and gave me a an "Okay Mom" smile over the banister and went back to playing dollhouse with her friend.

When I am in my car, it has been a non stop performance of The Greatest Showman for the past few months. Never Enough is my anthem of choice. When I was listening the other day on my way to work, I found a couple tears poke the corners of my eyes. I was once again moved to tears. Moved to tears by a song that I have heard a million times.  That says a lot about the music. When it invokes tears months after initial exposure.  I also love the goose bumps that prickle my arms and legs when a song produces such an amazing amount of joy.

Lily and I had another interesting conversation this evening. I asked her if she remembered all the times she would question me when she was tiny if a song was about Jesus.  I told her there were mainly two types of music. Music that was about Jesus and music that was called a love song.  When she was five she told me that there are also songs about people you love that you can't be with anymore.  I told her she might be country singer in disguise.  She had no idea what I was talking about. Lily told me that she totally remembered and felt that if it was about Jesus it could be a love song too. I told she was absolutely correct.

Zach's love of music revolves around Sunday morning worship music and anything Lily and I are listening too. He seems to be able to find something amazing in each and every song. Sometimes it is a skipped beat, a repetitive chorus or even when he knows who really sings it. He loves The Newsboys, Peter Furler and Toby Mac. Often times he will even profess his love for a song because he loves the hand movements of a worship leader or has latched on to a quirky vibrato of a support singer. He once warbled on and on at the end of song. He saw me smirking and said , "She sings that song so nice."  He loves a good strong vibrato. Zach's affinity for all things Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, the ABC song and Baa Baa Black Sheep stems from his ability to play the simple notes on his keyboard which is permanently positioned next to his bed just in case he feels a late night concert should commence.

Some of my favorite memories from childhood revolve around music. My mom singing from Broadway musicals. My aunt, uncle and my mom leading Sunday morning hymns in perfect harmony at Immanual Baptist in St. Paul. Both of my grandmas singing loudly so out of tune, I often was forced to stifle laughter.  The way I would sit in awe listening to my voice teacher, Liz Grefshiem sing the scales as we warmed up together.  I remembered thinking she could make any song sound beautiful.  Even the ABC's.

Still to this day, I am drawn to other vocalists. People who love music. People who sing and hum and seem to never be able to exist in silence.  Those that are appreciators of great music. Those without a lick of talent in them, but shed a tear when in the presence of beautiful music.  I often times find that music can express what I am not able to. The notes, the way they glide and soar and peak, and then the volume falls until the very last sound is savored.

Yes, I will continue having conversations about music lyrics with Lily. Reveling over new soundtracks with her. Laughing with her over music that just seems silly and bizarre. But I will probably spend more time singing with her.  Enjoying all types of music with her. Sharing with her my love of music. And learning about what music she loves and why. She thinks that I should write a short story about a colony of people that only speak to each other in music lyrics. I might just do that. Lily already understands in her short 11 years, that music often communicates all that people can not. The unspoken finds its place in music.

Side note.  These are the actual lyrics to the amazing Sam Smith song. Totally a love song about someone you can't be with according to Lily.
No Peace
I see you in the morning
Feel your fingers in my hair
Sometimes I still pretend you’re there
It hits me without warning
Your reflection walking by
But I know it’s only in my mind
Will you show me the piece of my heart I’ve been missing?
Won’t you give me the part of myself that I can’t get back?
Will you show me the piece of my heart I’ve been missing?
'Cause I’d kill for you
And darling you know that
So I’ll light up a cigarette
I’ll drink it down ‘til there’s nothing left
‘Cause I sure can’t get no sleep
And Lord knows there’s no relief
You held my heart in your fingertips
So now I drown in my bitterness
Oh, I can’t get no sleep
And I sure won’t, I sure won’t find no peace
No peace
All that I am asking
Is for a little clarity
That’s all that really matters to me
In and out of focus
Tears are in my eyes
We’re burning down the bridges this time
Will you show me the piece of my heart I’ve been missing?
Won’t you give me the part of myself that I can’t get back?
Will you show me the piece of my heart I’ve been missing?
'Cause I’d kill for you
And darling you know that
So I’ll light up a cigarette
I’ll drink it down ‘til there’s nothing left
‘Cause I sure can’t get no sleep
And Lord knows there’s no relief
You held my heart in your fingertips
So now I drown in my bitterness
Oh, I can’t get no sleep
And I sure won’t, I sure won’t find no
I used to find comfort in your arms
Caught up in the wonder of your charms
I’ll cry for you, I’ll cry for you
I’d lie for you, I’d lie for you
But I don’t even know you anymore
So I’ll light up a cigarette
I’ll drink it down ‘til there’s nothing left
‘Cause I sure can’t get no sleep
And Lord knows there’s no relief
You held my heart in your fingertips
So now I drown in my bitterness
Oh, I can’t get no sleep
And I sure won’t, I sure won’t find no peace
Sure won’t find no peace
Will you give me the piece
Will you give me the piece of my heart?
Will you give me the piece
Will you give me the piece of my heart?

People of Carver County By: Kelli J Gavin Edition 1

Jennifer Ott of Chaska, MN

"At this point in my life, one thing that I wish I had done that I have not is jump out of a plane. It frightens me and I don't know if I could do it unless someone made me. I don't think I could do it on my own and I would go tandem, because I would otherwise hit the ground. I would want to do it somewhere cool. Not in Minnesota or Wisconsin. Somewhere, maybe France. I did go parasailing in Mexico about 15 years ago. I was scared and filled with fear the whole time, because I don't like heights. But I think it was was a little more reassuring because you are attached to the back of the boat. I would want to jump out of the plane alone, not with my husband, because I would be afraid that he would die. (laughing)  I wouldn't want that pressure. (more laughter)"

I want to thank Jennifer for being my first interview for People of Carver County.  She is hysterical and I wish that her contagious laughter would translate to print.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


The term, she wears her heart on her sleeve is wasted on me. I wear my heart everywhere on my physical person. I am a crier. I always have been. My mother used to retell the story of when I was three and she found me sitting silently on the front porch with tears pouring down my red blotchy cheeks. She stroked by hair and a wiped each stray tear. She asked me what had moved me to tears on such a beautiful day. Moved me to tears? What moved me to cry? It may have been then that day while sitting with my mom that I realized how much emotion I held inside.  I told her I was in love  with the green leaves on the trees and I was feeling so bad for them because when the trees changed color, they would fall to the ground and die. I was mourning the life of leaves that would eventually be lost as the temperatures plummeted.

When I was in kindergarten, I had an embarrassing bathroom incident at school.  The teacher found me crying in the bathroom trying to write a note that said, "I am sorry" on it to the Janitor.  She asked what I was sorry for and why was I writing a note. I told her I felt bad for the janitor that had to clean up the mess. She tried to stifle a giggle and told me it was his job to clean up messes. Missing the fact that she was trying to make me feel better, I said, "He will probably be stuck here late cleaning this up and his supper is going to get cold."

When a friend lost her beloved dog when we were in 6th grade, my heart broke for her. She cried at school about her dog. I made the mistake of asking how he died. She said her dad accidentally hit the dog when he was backing out of the driveway and ran over his leg. He developed and infection and the vet couldn't make him better and he died. I cried myself to sleep that night. I rubbed my leg absentmindedly for 2 weeks. Numerous adults and even my voice lesson teacher asked me if I was hurt. I said not that I know of.  Mrs. G, my voice teacher called my mom in after my lesson because she worried I wasn't telling her the whole truth of an injury to my leg. My mom realized all that leg rubbing was me trying to somehow heal the dogs leg.

These times when I was filled with emotion, sometimes even sadness, didn't end.  They maybe just evolved. Now, when I feel my heart flutter, when my throat tightens, when my finger tips tingle, I no longer believe a significant medical anomaly is present. I am able to acknowledge that I am overwhelmed with emotion. Real, true, overwhelming, emotions. Heartache. Regret. Joy.  Remorse. Jealousy. Happiness. Every single emotion is meant to be felt. Some savored and revisited. Some processed quickly so that they can be released. What I have realized is that I personally, just hold onto it all. All of the emotions are held tightly in my grasp. So tightly my knuckles turn white.  The feeling, the processing I am great at. The letting go is something I have yet to be able to experience fully.

A book. A scent. A rainfall. A flower.  Sometimes it is even how blue the water is or how green the evergreens are when they blow violently in the wind.  My memories of days gone by are held within my 5 senses. I am the person that can be brought to a puddle of joyful tears over the smell of a cologne. I am the person that cried while watching a movie the other night remembering the first time I had heard the theme song. I am the person that bought 6 blankets trying to replicate the feeling of a rough car trunk blanket. They all just didn't feel right when I held them between my thumb and forefinger.

I am okay with crying in public. I am not an attractive crier. But my tears usually end in bouts of laughter which are often times contagious. Group crying is always a riot.  And when I say riot, I mean awkward and amazing at the same time. In these past few years, well, 25 years, I have come to welcome the tears. I welcome them when they come. It isn't if, but when.  The tears are cleansing. They wash me. Clean. They remove a lot of the immediate feelings that I have about a situation. Sometimes the tears serve as a salve. They start the healing process on a open wound. They repair. They restore.

When I cried earlier today, it was a over a memory I hold dear. A memory that only one other person knows about.  And that person probably has never shared that memory with anyone else. I miss them. I miss the times we shared. And I love that this memory makes me so amazingly joy filled that a release of tears warms my heart even more. There isn't anything wrong with tears. Especially when then help you move forward. I was able to send a text with well wishes this morning. Something I wouldn't have been able to do yesterday. This mornings tears helped me understand that I was able to let go. That I should let go. Maybe just a little bit. But letting go is exactly what did. I no longer felt the need to white knuckle it as I held it all in. Those tears released me. That text sent.  I end this day content.

Whether it is something from days gone by or something present, something tangible today. I will welcome the tears each situation produces from this day forward.  Welcome them because tears are cleansing. Healing. They are able to repair and restore.  And these tears have become a favored friend. No longer afraid to express emotion, those tears are the easiest and sometimes most meaningful release.

I Know What That Means- By: Kelli J Gavin for Writers Unite!

I Know What That Means By: Kelli J Gavin After my family moved to Minneapolis three years ago, my parents refused to visit us in our ne...