The Ties That Bind



Have you ever been so attached to something, or the idea of something, that it becomes part of your self-identity?  I knew a girl once who wore her hair in a severely drawn back ponytail with the ends curled. Every day. She did her hair the same way every single day.  So synonymous was that hairstyle to her, that if she’d ever shown up to class looking different people might have wondered who the new girl was. It was more than just the physical hair tie that defined the link between the look and the girl, it was the habit she’d created that became her identification.

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Four has always been my favorite number.  Four shows up all around you if you pay attention to it.  When I was a kid and played in a summer soccer league I always asked to be player number four.  My sisters and I are each four years apart in age. I’ve owned and driven four cars that have been considered mine.  I’ve quit from or been laid off from four different companies in my adult life. I have signed for home leases and mortgages four different times.  And if I ever came across an ice cream shop that offered a four scoop cone I would definitely buy it.

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Here I Go Again


I’ve always loved getting in the car with my husband and just wandering around for a little while.  Sometimes it turns into a big adventure, other times we just grab a coffee or make a quick trip to the grocery store while taking our time to get there.  It’s sort of a way to unwind, connect in conversation, and take in scenery other than the interior walls of our house.  Our kids enjoy these rides as much as we do, especially when we let them select their own favorite music for everyone to listen to while we’re driving.  Fortunately, we’ve done well as parents and taught them the value of good music and most of the time they make choices we’re more than happy to oblige.  We have many theme songs for our family.  My older daughter seems to really love the classic 80’s rock song “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake.  Did you know that the version you probably are hearing in your head right now after reading that song title isn’t the original?  The song was first written with the phrase: “Like a hobo I was born to walk alone.”  Really?  Hobo?  As in a homeless person aimlessly wandering about?  I prefer taking the time to navigate to the remastered version when we listen.  A drifter walking alone paints a better picture, at least in my mind.  

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Days Gone By

Last week our Christmas decorations came down and the kids keep commenting on how “empty” our living room seems now.  I feel you kiddos, it’s festive and magical having everything adorned for the holidays.  This year we enjoyed a somewhat slower and quieter holiday season.  I still went overboard with cooking and baking (who doesn’t love a variety of Christmas cookies?), but with half of our extended family many miles away we found we weren’t rushing to more than one celebration.  By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around I was feeling like we’d mastered the art of lazy, impromptu festivities.  Even though it was bitterly cold here in Minnesota, we all bundled up and took a walk on our frozen lake enjoying the bright moonlight and a neighbor’s celebratory fireworks.  It’s customary to sing “Auld Lang Syne” on New Year’s Eve, and it makes sense why it became tradition.  As I stood there looking at the sky I felt excited for the many things to come in the new year, but also grateful for the experiences of the previous year, even though many had not been exactly uplifting.  The song is also a poem, while it doesn’t exactly translate into English, the title and key phrase “Auld Lang Syne” literally means “old long since” and essentially means “days gone by”.

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Wind of Change

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Here in Minnesota we just had another beautiful fall season share its magnificence.  It lasted about four days.  If you’re not from the northland it might be hard to comprehend how the weather can be pleasantly in the upper 60’s and low 70’s for a week (always with one day that tops out in the 80’s) while the trees work their magic to transform everything around you into an incredible and brilliant blaze of color.  It’s seriously beautiful.  Then very suddenly the temperatures drop to almost the point of freezing, colors fade to muted shades of brown and rust, and one night you realize you are buried under five inches of snow.  Is it fall?  Is it winter?  For most people it’s still too early to break out the holiday decorations and for everyone it means figuring out how to fit that adorable short sleeved Halloween costume that turns your child into their favorite character over top of a snowsuit.  This year fall came and went super fast and now winter is here to stay.  It’s no wonder that the changing of our seasons has so many times metaphorically been linked with the changes in general life.

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Lost in Translation

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My birthday was last week.  I don’t place a ton of emphasis on celebrating my own birthday, though maybe I should, it is after all a day to celebrate my existence.  I know some people have a tendency to view their birthday as a gloomy reminder that youth fades quickly.  I prefer to think about the years as making you not older, but more experienced.  I guess I just see it as an opportunity to find adventure in my journey around the sun, not a race to the finish line.  Birthdays were always a big deal when I was a kid.  My mom would let me choose the menu for dinner and she would make whatever kind of cake I wanted (usually meatloaf and rainbow sprinkled angel food cake).  Hearing the words “happy birthday” made me feel special, as if for that one day I was important enough for the world (or least what I viewed as the world) around me to stop and celebrate the fact that I was a part of it.   

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