Home Sweet Home

July 28, 2014.

That was the date of my last post. 14 months ago. I remember that day – the last time I wrote. I was sitting in the screened in porch at my dad’s house, coffee in hand, soaking in the solitude and trying to quiet my brain. In some ways, it seems like yesterday. I can recount my inner dialogue – the pull to hit the road and go home versus the desire to just sit and be. Just be. Be still.

It’s amazing how a moment can feel like yesterday even after so much has happened since. So much pain. So much change. So much growth. In some of those moments, between then and now, I thought about this place. My place. The place where I share my thoughts and opinions. The place I expose myself. The mere thought of this place terrified me – there was so much happening, but I had nothing to share. Nothing to give. Exposure was not an option. To expose the rawness would only invite more pain.

So I steered clear of this place and it never occurred to me that I might come back some day. The only reason this place still exists is that I couldn’t be bothered to get rid of it. This piece of me. This account of almost nine years of my life, selective though the account may be.

Yet, here I am reclaiming this space. I’m clearing the cobwebs and declaring it safe to inhabit. To embrace. To expose myself in ways that remain to be seen.

10435521_10150439683529995_3087093137798234040_nI am a different person than I was on July 28, 2014. Everything is different and I couldn’t be happier. After months of barely keeping my head above water, I am now safely on solid ground – light on my feet, under a wide open sky.

My eyes had adjusted to the darkness, but with the light comes clarity and there is no going back. The dark, stormy waters are behind me. Forever. I have emerged a new person and I am reclaiming this space, as I have reclaimed my life.

Home sweet home.


Solitude and the art of being.

As I sit in the screen-in porch at my dad’s house, I realize that I am completely alone. The only other heartbeats around me belong to the hearts of birds and chipmunks, those wild turkeys that eat the birdseed that the squirrels knock to the ground from the birdfeeder, and innumerable other little creatures in the trees, grass, air, and cracks in the stone. But no people. I am the only one.

The wind picks up and rustles the trees. It’s a bit chilly for July. I think it might be raining, but I can hardly tell through the screen – maybe just a misting.10483631_10150406924284995_207213603067644352_n


I can’t remember the last time I was this alone. I’m never this alone in the suburbs – we share a wall with the neighbours. People drive by in their cars and on their bikes. They walk past our house on the way to school, or to catch the train. They are just always there.

This solitude is comforting and has given me time to reflect. It struck me today that I’ve lost the art of being. At some point, I became a doer – always thinking about what’s next, where I need to be, who I need to talk to, feed, bathe, put to bed, email, text back, call (gasp!), make dinner for, buy coffee from, get to an appointment with… so many tasks.

As I sit here, I am trying to just let myself write and push away thoughts about when I’m going to head back home and what route I’ll take – where I will stop for coffee and whether I’ll need gas before I get home. I’m trying not to think about rushing home to relieve the caregiver of my kids. I need this time. This solitude. This moment – for me, to be me, to just be.

I’m Still Standing…

“How are you still standing?” She said to me as we talked about my day. “I’d be a puddle of tears if I’d had to deal with half the stuff you do.” she said. I shrugged. “I don’t have a choice” I replied. “Besides, it’s my normal. I’m used to it.”

The truth is, though, that I often do want to dissolve into a puddle on the floor, or rock myself while clutching my knees against my chest, or not leave the house because the thought of getting ready seems like too much to bear.

But I resist. I carry on with my day, moment by moment, adjusting to every new curve ball life throws our way. I’ve mastered the art of catching them bare-handed before they break a window, or hit someone in the head. I wish I had a bat to hit them out of the park, but instead I just collect them, waiting for the pitcher to tire.

Our little family has endured a lot in the past 4 years – more than the average family of four, though every one has its trials. We’re dealing with medical issues, testing, treatments, side effects, uncertainty, and the death of a family member… and that is just in the past three months. It’s been difficult and trying, but we have a good support system.

An average month sees me at a doctor’s office, lab, or hospital about six times – for me and the kids. We’re starting to finally get some answers to some questions, so that might slow down in the coming months.


It’s busy. I’m busy. It’s stressful and I’m stressed. But, I’m still standing. Because I have to and I need to and I want to. I manage, and in spite of all the stress and upheaval in our lives, I’m happy.

I have figured out how to cope – my therapy comes in the form of drives in the country and moments of solitude by the water. Nature grounds me and gives me peace. I focus on moments so I can live my life, instead of having it consume me. I revel in the beauty and find the joy in the moment – the smell of the flowers, the lapping of the waves, the wind rustling fresh leaves, Em’s shrieks of delight at discovering fish in a tank (even though I didn’t share in her delight). Life is made in moments – and my joyful moments far outweigh my heavy ones

Here’s to joyful moments…



Sarah, loosely defined.

All week, I’ve been agonizing over writing a bio. Everything I’ve read recommends starting a bio with your name and what you do – as in “Sarah is a ______.” I gots nothing. What the heck am I? The only single word that describes me is “mother” and not only is that not totally relevant to the bio I’m trying to write, it doesn’t reflect what I have to offer.picture270

So, where does that leave me?

I’ve never really had a professional title – a single word to sum up my education and experience – like teacher, or doctor, or accountant. “What do you do?” has always been met with an awkward silence.

For years, I was a trainer. I stood in front of rooms full of people and taught content that, in many cases, I had researched and developed. That doesn’t make me a teacher, though. Not in a traditional sense.

I’ve grown into the title of writer. It is what I do – what I love to do and, in some capacity, how I’ve been making a living for five years. Can I can claim the title “writer” if I am not published? What do I need to do to call myself a writer? I’m not sure.

I also love editing. Though the only editing I’ve done in recent years has been of my own work, I did edit a book once. It was a book published by a place I used to work. It had chapters for which I wrote introductions and conclusions, and each chapter contained interviews that I transcribed and edited. Aside from proofreading and cover art, the entire thing was me – even the interview skills training that led up to the interview sessions. Does that make me an editor? I don’t think so.

An interesting thing happened tonight; I got a call asking if I could deliver a lecture at a local university (on two days’ notice). The thought of delivering a lecture was equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. While I was waiting for more details, my mind raced – I imagined myself in that lecture hall and I was ready to stand up there on a moment’s notice and see where it took me. Unfortunately, the opportunity fell through before I had a chance to pick out an outfit. I was really disappointed and it got me thinking about what I want to be doing and what I am qualified to say I am.

You can see my dilemma. Maybe I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none. Too bad I can’t put that in my bio: Sarah is a jack of all trades and a master of none. She is a teacher, but not in the traditional sense; a writer, loosely defined; and she edited that one book that one time. 

Send it to print! We have a winner!

Not so much…



My Online Presence: A Carefully Crafted Illusion.

An interesting thing has happened over the 20 years that I’ve been living online and interacting with strangers behind keyboards (most of whom were anonymous until about 8 years ago). I’d like to call it judgment, but that doesn’t seem strong enough; people regularly get eviscerated for saying something online that doesn’t fall in line with what other people believe to be right or good.


Not long ago, I tweeted this while someone who follows me was tweeting about cancer. Her response to my tweet was along the lines of: Aren’t you lucky that that’s all you have to worry about. Your coffee spilled. What a tragedy. At the time, I made light of it because 1) that’s what I do 2) she was obviously going through something.

But, here’s the thing: just because I’m lamenting over spilled coffee, or sharing a funny anecdote about my kids, doesn’t mean my life is all rainbows and butterflies. Is cancer a reality in my life right now? Yes. Am I dealing with the health issues of loved ones? Yes. My kids, included. I struggle and I stress and I feel sad and lonely and angry and frustrated – sometimes all in the same moment. Sometimes, for many moments. Too many moments.

Who I am in public is all me, but it’s not all of me. It reflects me, but it doesn’t encompass who I am.

There is a lot that I don’t share online, for a variety of reasons. Years ago, I decided that I want my online presence to be positive – I want it be supportive and funny and, if possible, thought-provoking. I want it to be something I do to escape the trials of my life. It reflects the best of my life and I’m alright with that. You might call that inauthentic. I call it self-preservation.

I enjoy a good online discussion, which is why I post articles, videos and images that might generate those discussions on Facebook, where people know me. There was a time when I’d invite myself into such debates in public forums, like Twitter, and engage trolls, but I discovered that all it did was bring me down and affect my mood. I don’t believe it’s ever been terribly effective, anyway; to my knowledge, I have never changed the mind of an argumentative stranger behind a keyboard. I save that for people in my physical space – people I see face-to-face, strangers and loved ones alike.

Don’t assume that just because people aren’t talking about something online that they aren’t living it, thinking about it, or talking about it offline. People are living their lives and only sharing aspects of it – they participate in debates to the extent to which they are comfortable, or not at all. And that is alright. The people who aren’t talking about certain things may be the ones who are actually affected the most.

What aspects of your life do you share online?
Are you more likely to vent online or create the illusion of rainbows and butterflies?