As I Remember India

Originally written September 7, 2011

I had never been outside of the United States until the summer of 2005. I was on a mission trip with 15 other college students from my university. We boarded the plane with high hopes that we were going to change the entire country of India. We were going to make a difference. We were going to love all the orphaned, feed all the hungry and teach everyone about the love of God. Maybe our ambitions were a bit too high, but our hearts were in the right place.

We were traveling by train from Kota to Cochin (Kochi). I was standing outside the railway in a very foreign train station surrounded by hundreds of people. The station was run down from the amount of traffic and the lack of maintenance. The concrete floors and walls were aged and cracked from weather. The stench of human waste filled the building. People were waiting for their trains to arrive, others had no place to go, and some were forgotten by their families and left to die.

Amongst the hundreds of people was a little girl about the age of seven. She was accompanied by her brother who was around five years old. Their brown skin was tinted gray from the layers of dirt and grime and their clothes were tattered and barely held together at the seams. They tightly held on to the plastic cups they used to collect money they received from begging. The little girl had almond shaped brown eyes that seemed hopeful. Maybe my mission team could be the answer to her prayers. Maybe we could spare a little change and some food. I remember feeling sad for her and I wondered where she and her brother slept at night. The mission team leader discretely placed money into her cup along with a small bag of Swedish Fish. A smile consumed her face. Hope was found.

As quickly as her hope was given, it was taken away. I watched as a man in his 30’s passed by and snatch away her cup. I was in complete disbelief in what I had witnessed. I had never seen such a thing! How could a grown man steal money from a child? Did he have a ounce of compassion? I couldn’t wrap my mind around this heinous act.

The little girl spun around, latched onto the man’s shirt tail, and began screaming in Hindi. The man tried to walk casually down the sidewalk, but too much attention had been drawn to him. A group of men began to congregate around the thief. One man grabbed the cup and gave it back to the girl. She quickly escaped from the crowd, but the thief was forced to remain. More and more men surrounded hm, 40-50 in total.

During this time, our train had arrived. “Do not stare. It’ll draw more attention to our group. I need you to quickly get on the train,” instructed the trip leader. We all nodded in agreement, but what happen next would make it difficult to not turn away.

I saw one man question the thief, but he was clearly dissatisfied with the answer as he began to yell. I imagined the altercation went something like this:

“Why did you steal from that girl?!”

“I didn’t steal! She gave me the money!”

“Liar!” The man yelled. The mob agreed with his verdict.

As I turned away to load my luggage onto the train, I heard a loud thud followed by yelling from the crowd of men. I turned around to see the thief being lifted up from the ground only to be knocked down once again with a blow to his jaw. The mob yelled with satisfaction and took turns releasing their anger on the thief.

I quickly jumped onto to the train. I look around to see the reactions of the native people. Nothing. Was anyone else worried about the violence that was taking place? No one seemed concerned or showed empathy for the man. Were they numb to what happened? Was this a daily occurrence? The cabins were quiet with occasional murmuring and small talk. As the train pushed forward, I stared out the window watching the rallied mob moved out of sight and I caught a gimps of the little girl skipping to the next group of people in hopes they may spare some change.

Sometimes I think about that girl. Who is she now? Where is she? Is she even still alive? I will never forget the beauty of India that is found in her people, land, and culture. I will also never forget the harshness of poverty that has afflicted so many. I will count my blessings and pray as I remember India.


A Wasted Night of Rain

There is nothing better than dosing off to sleep listening to the rain pitter patter against the window and the thunder rumbling in the distance. It makes for a restful night. There is nothing worse than waking up from this coveted type of sleep. Except waking up by the smell of cat poop.

It was 3:22am… or at least that’s when my Fitbit said I woke up. I laid there trying to lull myself back to sleep, but I could smell a faint odor in the air. As my body came out of a peaceful, sleepy grog, the scent became all too familiar. Rosie had pooped. In fact, just to spite me, she sometimes poops right outside the cat pan if her “toilet” is not to her standards. I get it. I wouldn’t want to use an unflushed toilet either.

So, I threw back my blanket and went over to investigate the situation. I flip the light on and low and behold Rosie dropped load on the mat outside the cat pan. Well, at least I could just pick up the mat and dump the turds where they belong. No harm, no foul.

That’s when it happened.

I stepped to get closer to the mat and right my foot landed in a puddle… of cat pee!!!

You’ve got to be kidding me!

I was definitely wide awake at that point and thoroughly grossed out. For those of you who have never smelled cat pee before, count your blessings. It has to be one of the most heinous odors know to mankind.

So, there was I was, 3:25 in the morning, cleaning up cat turds and pee. Because i was up, Rosie thought it was time to eat. She quickly gorged herself with the remaining food in her bowl in hopes to get a refill. Her expectations of me are way too high.

You can probably guess what happened next.

As soon as I get done cleaning up the “gifts” she left… I hear it. It’s the sound that will wake up any pet owner out of a dead sleep. I run into my bedroom and there was Rosie, sitting on top of my dresser… heaving and throwing up!

What did I do to deserve this?! I was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. So, I did what any sane person would do. I sighed and just watched it happen. Then I watched my other cat try to clean it up, if you know what I mean. Don’t worry… I pushed her out of the way before I had another mess to clean up.

So, gross.

So, yeah, I spent the wee hours of the morning cleaning up cat poop, pee, and puke. As I’m writing this, it’s about 6:30 in the morning and I’m on my second cup of coffee… soon to be my third.

Anyways, I went back to bed and rolled over on my side. Wide awake. The little turd must have known what she did was wrong. She crawled up on the bed, tried to snuggle with me, nestled my face, and purred as loud as she could. I was determined not to cave into her manipulative behavior to coax me into forgiveness. The little pooping rat.

I totally caved.

Apparently I love the crap (and everything else) out of that cat.

Happy Mother’s Day, Dad.

15268021_10209943043166039_2897889843220316676_nFor Mother’s Day I usually write a post or an email to my mom in attempts to capture how much I love her and how she inspires me to challenge myself and grow as a person. However, this Mother’s Day I can’t stop thinking about my dad and how much I miss him.

Then I thought of how painful it must be for a mom who looses her partner. I thought of how my mom must feel as the other half of “Mom and Dad” is no longer here.

Whether my dad’s passing is deemed as winning or loosing the cancer battle is irrelevant. Death is nothing but a friend that reminds you to hang on to the sweetness of life. That day My mom became the pillar for her children. She’s the one who held us together and the one we all leaned on. Maybe it was us leaning in that kept her upright. I’m not sure… but I’ve watched my mom handle my dad’s death with a kind of grace and resilience that I have yet to master. She continues to put others first, love unconditionally, guide, encourage, uplift, and support. Despite the pain and the loss, she moves forward and courageously faces life’s uncertainties.


A long time ago, my dad told me that he never expected me to be the best or the number one in anything. His expectations for me, and everyone that he loved, was to be the best version of myself. My mom has been an example of this. She honors him everyday by being a loyal friend, a strong mom, a loving daughter, and the best version of herself.

I think my dad should be celebrated today. If wasn’t for him… I wouldn’t have such an incredible hero and role model. My mom.

Thanks, Dad. Happy Mother’s Day.

My Mom

One of my first memories of my mom was when I was around ten, maybe eleven.  It was Christmas time.  I heard a knock on the door and I ran to greet our visitors.  I opened the door and there were two women standing there with gifts in hand.  Lisa and another family friend of ours.

“Merry Christmas!”  They sang out.

Lisa handed me a rectangular box wrapped up in shiny paper.  I remember wondering why she got me a Christmas present.  Who was she?  I didn’t get her anything.  I wasn’t quite sure what to make of her.

A few years later, Lisa became a more active roll in my life.  I remember when I was around 12 years old, she took me and her boys to the movies.  I can’t remember what we saw or where we went to eat, but I remember feeling special and loved that she would think to invite me to hang out.

A few years after that, I was 14 or 15 and I had a slight pretty big attitude problem…. that was probably fueled by a little bit of anger.  There was a lot going on my household no kid should ever have to face.  That’s when Lisa swooped in.  I don’t remember where we went, if it was a restaurant, a park, or just sitting in her car.  All I remember, is that she gave me a journal.  She told me it was called an Angry Journal.  She explained that any time I felt angry or upset, write it down.  Write what I’m feeling.  Use whatever words I need to use to get it out on paper.  That was probably the first time anyone had given me permission to write whatever and however I wanted.  I remember feeling empowered that day.  She gave me the gift of a healthy outlet to express myself.

A few years after that, I moved to Virginia for college.  At this point, my parents had divorced and Dad moved to D.C. to be with Happily Ever After person…. which happened to be Lisa.  I used to go up and visit them when I lived in Lynchburg.  I remember thinking, at first, “This is a little weird, not bad, just weird.”  But changes are always weird and uncomfortable.

A few years after that, I was about 20, maybe 21, I went up to visit Dad and Lisa.  We went to Baltimore for some reason.  There was a restaurant that they wanted to take me to and it was a part of a plaza with a bunch of other stores.  Lisa decided we should visit some of those stores while we wait to be seated.  By “we” she meant me just her and me.  We left dad waiting with the restaurant buzzer.  We went from store to store, talking, and laughing.  She wound up buying me two sun dresses at a really cute little boutique.  I remember thinking, “Is this what it’s like to go shopping with your mom?”

A few years after that, I was 25 years old.  I was standing outside of a hospital in D.C., crying uncontrollably and tightly holding on to Lisa.  Dad was gone.  The cancer had invaded too much of body.  I remember hanging onto her and feeling her arms tighten around me.  There were too many thoughts rushing though my head to remember any specific one.  However, even though I had just lost my dad… I don’t remember feeling alone.

I had my mom.

Mom is a special title.  It describes a woman who gives unconditional love, has an abundance of understanding, challenges herself and others to push forward despite circumstances, provides a safe space to come home to, and it describes a woman who lends a listening ear and a compassionate heart.

That’s my mom, Lisa.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Change is One Thing We Can Rely On

Change. It’s the one thing that we all have in common. It’s the very thing that either pulls us together, or tears us apart.

Change is inevitable and uncontrollable. The only thing we can do is secure any loose items, hang on to the handle bars, and remain seated until the ride comes to a complete stop… or slows down enough for you to tuck and roll and get the hell out of there! Either way, it’s usually better to adapt to change than to try to stop it. Trying to stop it would be like trying to paddle a raft up stream on the Amazon River. It’s just not going to happen.  You’re arms will cramp up and you’ll probably get eaten by snakes and piranhas in the process. Not a great plan of action…. not to mention very messy.

Change brings ups and downs and both are necessary. You can’t go way up high without experiencing the lows…. and what go up, must come down.

Mid 2014 to mid 2016 was on the low end for me. I was living in Georgia at the time. In the two years I lived there I had three different jobs, three different apartments, I went into debt, drained my savings, and was battling with myself about whether I was doing what I was made to do in life.

Gosh. It was a tough two years. I did a lot of growing.  I think my skin got a little tougher, maybe with a few new wrinkles. I got a little smarter and a little wiser. I made some great friends, but I probably made some great enemies. Yes, there were a few highlights and a handful of people I met in GA that I still hold dear to my heart. Though those two years were my lowest of lows, they propelled me into the beginning of a major upswing.

I moved to Illinois back in May. At that point, my life was not secured, I wasn’t hanging on, nor was I sitting down and I was thrown for a loop! I’m just now getting myself together. I’m finding a routine in my new environment, the dust is settling, and I finally bought a hair brush. If my life can’t be tamed, at least my hair will be!

I keep wanting to find a comfortable groove, but I keep wondering if that is what change is really about? If it propels us into greater versions of ourselves, then is finding a comfort zone a smart move? I think welcoming change and the challenges it brings… good or bad… is SO vital.

Life isn’t about becoming comfortable with what changes may come, but becoming comfortable with change itself.