COVID Update: A Journal Entry

Michigan started reopening businesses and lifting restrictions but the stay at home order was extended. Some of our friends in the salon industry still haven’t received guidance on how or when they’ll be able to reopen doors. Among a list of other industries and individuals, restaurants as hurting as well.

Our daycare, which has remained open for essential workers, is finally accepting children for their summer program. That means the kids go back to daycare June 1st. I have a lot of emotions regarding that decision. The only thing keeping me sane is the reassurance that they have been open and have had no reported cases of COVID-19. I’ve been pressured to provide my return date so I’m thankful for the summer program though my work has continued from home.

I’ve been appalled by people’s behavior. After using the Facebook Snooze for 30 Days feature, my feed is beginning to refill with hatred, venom, and disrespect once more. This time I’m unfriending. Our interactions in the past do not tie us together for life.

Perhaps you’re scared or hurting and you’re lashing out. Maybe this is a low point for you. I understand. I know without a doubt that I have been in that position before and people have unfriended me whether over social media or in real life because of it. I don’t believe that you cannot change or that you’re a terrible person. But we’re not good enough friends to have a heart to heart over it and I need to make the best decision for me.

Maybe you’re not scared or hurting but you’re lashing out in anger. Maybe you think your posts are funny. I get that too. I’ve perpetuated hate toward people I’ve never met out of ignorance or bigotry or a societal influence I didn’t even know was there. I’ve been working on it for a while now but there are days that I come across an article or a post or a different perspective that lays bare my sins. It’s uncomfortable. And condemning.

But let me caution you with this: If you’re a Christian, watch what you’re putting out on social media. Be ready to receive correction and do so with grace. You can have different opinions but let’s do it without hate or shame or mockery of a person or group of people. It’s not a good look and certainly not one you’d be proud to bring to the cross.

Happy Quaran-Easter!

Easter is the one of two holidays we host at our home (the other being Independence Day). That means our day wasn’t as impacted as most. We were still able to make babka and eat Polish sausages with hard-boiled eggs, horseradish, and beets. We still served mimosas for the adults and orange juice for the oldest. Easter eggs were hidden and found. We attended church (from our couch) and although we didn’t have the fancy, new Easter outfits, we raised our hands in worship and let ourselves be renewed in the promise of LIFE.

This has been my favorite day of quarantine so far. My Facebook feed is filled with proclamations of “He is Risen!” It’s filled with smiling families and fought for traditions. It’s happy. Devoid of political arguments and want-to-be researchers and hate. I do take some credit for that as I’ve been using my social media “Snooze” and “Unfollow” options liberally lately but I think today’s uplifting feed is more than weeding out the negatives. I think today we decided that we could be one body of Christ again.

I’m not saying we have to agree with each other to be one body of Christ. That wouldn’t be Biblical advice and if you heard it coming out my mouth, I would hope that you would take me aside into a one-on-one to point out my error (Matthew 18:15-17). But we should seek to show respect both to those who share our faith and those who don’t. We are members of mankind, after all. God seeks a relationship with all of us.

A lot of us feel that silence is too costly right now. Disagreeing and speaking that disagreement is critical to saving lives – or – freedoms. I get it (more than you know). That being said, can we agree to disagree with the understanding that we are the church? That the way we disagree is a reflection of Christ, the same Christ that died on the cross and rose again on Easter Sunday so that we can have eternal life?

We did good today, folks and I felt it in my soul. Let’s keep up the positive momentum. Let’s let love fill our feeds and friendships and families. Let’s keep our hearts set on Easter Sunday for as long as possible.

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.

Titus 3:1-10

NOTE: I also recognize that today was terribly lonely for some of us. My heart breaks over the pain that we’re experiencing collectively and as individuals. I know social media is a highlight reel and I am not advocating for masking our pain. Just for kindness. We could all use a little more kindness these days.


We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, the first of our lifetimes. Restaurants, spas and salons, schools, flight paths, cities, states/provinces, and even countries are closed. Death tolls are rising; we’re grieving in isolation.

We’re also reaching out. Downloading videoconferencing apps and increasing work-from-home opportunities. Setting up remote desk space at home, remote happy hour, remote play dates. We’re getting outdoors to get out of our homes.

Countries are shipping supplies where they have them. Factories are switching over machinery, similar to wartime but this time we’re not fighting each other. We’re fighting a common enemy.

When schools closed in our state, my husband and I made the decision to keep both of our kids home. We’re lucky to have that option but it’s hard. It’s hard to keep them entertained and stay on top of meetings and work demands and deadlines. It’s hard but it’s possible.

Many companies around here have gone to remote work wherever possible but that isn’t the case across the board. I’m still expected to be at work though I work in IT. A sore throat will keep me home tomorrow. My guess is that it’s caused by lack of sleep but the cost of uncertainty is high. Too high.

Sleep is intermittent; there’s too much on my mind. Worry over the people I love, stress over losing my routines, sadness for those impacted both in health and finance. I’m an Enneagram 1 and the ethical and moral decision to social distance directly conflicts with my desired work ethic.

I’m thankful for my friends and neighbors who have ramped up dialogue though. Grateful for my small group who gathers over video conference to pray. Thankful for doctors, nurses, service providers. God’s promise of life. There is a lot to be thankful for even now.

I’m going to start writing again. Not all posts about viruses but this virus has reminded me of why I started: To journal about my life. I confused my WHY at some point along the way but I remember it now. I write to write. That is all.

Black History = American History

My daughter and I have been talking about black history lately. She just started kindergarten and sometimes I worry that she’s too young to hear about so much pain. That thought is quickly followed by this one: “What a privilege. How nice to be able to protect her from that because she’s young – and white.” More importantly: How misguided.”

I recently attended a fundraiser for Mel Trotter Ministries. It was a purchased luncheon in a packed ballroom with a magnificent keynote speaker. You may know the keynote speaker, Bryan Stevenson, for his law work, his book, perhaps his TED talk, for the Equal Justice Initiative he founded, or maybe from the upcoming movie about his life. (Aside: It stars Michael B. Jordan, it’s based on Stevenson’s book Just Mercy; it looks so good!).

In his speech, similar to his TED talk, Mr. Stevenson spoke about our history. He talked about mass incarceration, a conversation I have just recently started to unfold thanks to The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. He talked about lingering hate and fear. And he made a point to mention Germany and Rwanda and how they talk about their history. You will not find a statue of Hitler in Germany; Germans want you to visit the Holocaust memorial. Rwandans want to talk to you about apartheid. But what about Americans? It would seem, based on our remaining statues and lack of memorials to the victims of racial violence, that we don’t really want to discuss our history.

Our history.

I consider myself to be a good person, albeit incredibly flawed. I’ve said terrible, hurtful things – sometimes on accident and sometimes on purpose. I’m judgmental and aggressive. I am a sinner to and from my very core. But I’m also an advocate for a change – in myself and in others and in our society and in the world. A believer in grace. I’m an avid learner, capable of being taught. So I’ve been reading books about black history and also about our present. I’m listening to Podcasts and skimming blogs and articles and social media content. I’m reflecting on where I’ve failed as a white ally and where I’m improving.

And I’m starting the dialogue with my young daughter about our heartbreaking history. Our American history. I believe that my job (in part) is to open my ears to the stories passed down. And in opening my ears and the ears of my children, I am opening my eyes to truth. A truth that I believe will reshape our future.

If you have a young child who is capable of grasping some big topics, I recommend picking up Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine. It’s a true story from the Underground Railroad about a man named Henry who lost his family and found freedom from a big wooden box. Based on recommendations, it’s geared to first graders and above but it generated some great conversation between my kindergartner and me!

For a little lighter read, I recommend The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson. You’ll need to explain the backstory of the long fence that separates the town but it’s a beautiful story of friendship.

What are you reading? What books can we add to our list?

The Software Conference from a Woman

I attended a software conference last week as a customer. It’s a huge annual event with all day training courses and discussion, talks of future plans, and past accomplishments. There are happy hours and networking opportunities and entertainment. It was my second time attending and the event itself has only improved over time. In general, I had a great time. I learned quite a bit and came back to my office inspired.

There was, of course, still the irritating gender bias. There’s the good conversation that leaves you encouraged until it ends with some comment about your looks wrapped nicely in a comparison and insult to other women: “I have to say, you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve sat next to at this conference.”

Trust me when I say, you really don’t.

There’s the behind-your-back call out in a training room filled with a majority of white men exclaiming “You must be a sorority girl!” because you know the difference between an epsilon and a sigma.

The fact that I was in a sorority in college isn’t really the point. It’s the stereotype he was going after, which he later admitted to me claiming it was an attempt to call me the coolest one in the room. And yet it resulted in introducing yet another point of separation between me and my peers.

During a happy hour networking event, I was encouraged to partner with another group because out of the group of 5, there was only 1 female who “hasn’t been with the company for very long and we don’t want her to look like a slut.”

I came home and told my husband about the good, bad, and ugly of my trip and he relayed a different side of the issue from a conference he recently attended. He explained that he was in a conversation with a woman and was surprised by her level of engagement. At several points, he expected the conversation to draw to a close but she would ask one more question. One more question. One more question. Based on his past experiences, he expected her to walk away after light small talk.

Now, I don’t know this woman and I am 100% speculating on their interaction but here’s my perspective based on my own conference experiences: Perhaps this woman came across someone who saw her as an equal and was surprised at the professional level of conversation. Perhaps she held onto that conversation because she wanted to exchange knowledge with her peers. She wanted to network.

If you’re a woman in a male-dominated field, do you find yourself walking away and cutting conversation short because of comments that do not belong in a work environment or because you want to leave a good conversation before it turns?

The thing about bias is that it can be overt or subtle. And the effects of that are also overt or subtle. A woman who fails to network is at a disadvantage. In some cases, the disadvantage is forced on her and in some cases, she may choose the disadvantage having been conditioned by past experiences.

For the longest time, I didn’t understand the need for programs that hold places for minority groups. I’m ashamed to admit that now. When I was younger, I naively believed we should be measured on things like grades and extra curricular activities alone. I didn’t factor opportunity or lack thereof into my equation. And while I was taught to appreciate those programs, I’m afraid to say that my support lacked understanding until I experienced gender bias for myself and really began taking notes.

I know a lot of people who don’t understand how bias plays out in everyday life. Again, I have been one of them and am one of them still. I do not claim to be fully aware of my own biases. But I know that they exist. I have been on both sides of the coin and it has taken me a lifetime to see that for myself.

It’s a difficult topic and I don’t really know how to wrap up this post. There’s no tidying this topic into one nicely wrapped package. It is so muddy and it involves so many different backgrounds. So instead of trying I will leave you with these two positive interactions at the conference:

I was able to talk about my interactions with my coworkers. They’re an amazing group of men, supportive and willing to hear and learn from my experiences. They ask me questions. They may be completely comfortable with the topic or feel completely out of their comfort zone; frankly I don’t know because they keep the line of communication open.

I also had a great conversation about work and the challenges of software evolution and work culture and family life with a man, a conference minority, that I sat next to during an evening of dinner and entertainment. We were sitting at a table of 8-10 and the two of us sat silent for a moment. It took a little time for us both to warm up to the conversation but it was incredibly enjoyable and encouraging and we’ve since reached out as networking contacts.

Technological Clutter: Time to Purge

Yesterday, I spent my entire day going through the garage with my husband as a continuation of the #ruthlessdeclutterchallenge we started weeks ago. It was supposed to be a week-long declutter challenge hosted by Emily Ley that would encompass the whole house but 1) I work outside of the house 4 days of the week and more to the point 2) life.


Either way, the fact that I can declutter for as many hours as I have so far this year highlights some major issues in my life. I began to address those issues here but I think it’s pertinent to note a few things I have done in the past two weeks that might help you if you’re like me and feel chronically tired, overstimulated, and/or overwhelmed. Point of clarification: I’m talking about technological clutter now:

  • Settings – Notifications – Off
    • I now get phone notifications for the following apps ONLY:
      • For reminders:
        • Calendar
        • Reminders
        • 1 Health app
        • Flights (only for upcoming flights)
        • Bible app
        • Moment app
      • For information:
        • Emergency alerts
        • Work e-mail
        • Work support desk app
        • Payment apps
        • Restaurant wait list app (only when actively on a list)
      • For communication:
        • Messaging
        • FaceTime / Calls
        • Facebook messenger
        • Snapchat
      • Of the above listed apps, under 50% make noise (including vibrating) as of today. The amount of badges (the little red icon that yells at you every time you open your phone) has significantly decreased. If my phone makes noise today, I can flip it over without being bombarded by the most recent Like.
  • Speaking of apps, you can Delete apps. I don’t have a count of the apps I’ve deleted over the last two weeks, but to give you an example of my progress: I deleted Facebook, Pinterest, and today Instagram. I can still access accounts online or download them in the future if I become better at managing my time but those are the tortilla chips of tech for me. I cannot stop so I have to get them out of my hands!
  • Unsubscribe. I have no idea how many e-mail subscriptions I’ve cancelled over the last two weeks but I’m pretty sure I never signed up for 67% of them. Be gone, insurance company I’ve never heard of! Away with you.

I have been decluttering the space that my family physically lives in for some time now but I am finding the need to declutter the tech stimuli as well. That particular clutter feeds my need to consume (which then feeds my need to declutter and sets me back on the declutter frenzy).

I. am. so. tired. of. it.

Also, why do we feel like we need to have a marketing e-mail subscription for something we buy once in a blue moon? You can unsubscribe from those and they will still send you a receipt if you make a future purchase. I promise.

Go ahead, delete something today. Turn off a buzz, a badge, a banner. Unsubscribe. Those feelings of anxiety and FOMO will pass (that’s what the research says, anyway).

Currently Watching: The True Cost

I am an organization junkie. I don’t have all of the acrylic containers, expensive food storage, or wicker baskets to prove it but believe me when I tell you that I research this stuff constantly. I follow well known organizers on social media. I buy their books. I participate in their online challenges. I use the hashtags.

There’s this vague ideal I have in my head… This endpoint that I can just start to envision when everything has a place in my home and the excess has sloughed away. It’s calm. It’s easy to maintain. It restores.


But no matter how often I declutter, I continue to find more and more stuff. It accumulates. It makes friends. Those friends get married and have babies and the babies have babies and I am sitting around my kitchen table wondering where all of this stuff keeps coming from!


Pinterest took note of my obsession and started suggesting organizational pins. Those pins led to minimalist pins and the minimalist pins led to fair trade pins. That’s where I stumbled across the suggestion to watch The True Cost on Netflix.

Listen carefully: I need you to watch it. But I need you to know that it broke me.

The True Cost is a documentary on the fashion industry and the consequence of fast fashion on business, people, and the environment. While it only talks about fashion, I see it as a single-industry focus on a much larger issue of goods that we once saved and now see as disposable.

I wept multiple times watching this documentary. I wept over horrible working conditions. I wept over illness and pollution. Over family dynamics and corporate wealth. Over silenced cries for better and my part in it all.

That stuff that keeps accumulating? It’s there because it’s cheap or it’s free and I am a consumer and I consume it. And while I’m busy consuming and decluttering and consuming and decluttering, I am reinforcing the drive for cheap labor, cheap manufacturing and for turning a blind eye to the people producing it.

I’m caught in the declutter frenzy and I’ve been missing the people stuck beneath the turning wheel.


The solution identified in the frenzy isn’t a solution at all. The true solution has to come before and during consumption. I’m not a minimalist. But I am recognizing that being a good steward of my resources can’t stop at managing my finances, giving to charity, and paying for the recycling bin every month.

Financially, a $5 shirt is a bargain until you see The True Cost of that $5 shirt.


It’s a burden to change habits, I know. When I started buying cruelty free products, it took time to research brands. Once I identified brands, it took trial and error to find which products worked for my family. Sometimes I pay more.

I expect an even greater disruption overhauling my habits when it comes to fast fashion. It’s going to require research. It will require trial and error. I will pay more. It’s possible that I will need to wait longer between identifying a desire and satisfying it. I will need to be aware and intentional when Emma grows two feet in a night and no longer has pants that fit her. I will have to stop and ask myself if it’s really necessary to run out and pick up something today to remedy the want/need.

I also know that being overwhelmed by change isn’t a good enough excuse to avoid it. And I know that starting, even starting small, is always better than not starting at all.


Watch The True Cost. Let me know your thoughts. And if you’re already buying fair trade, let me know which brands you love.

A Mile A Day: Day 9

Mile 9 complete. I let music surround me on my walk and it turned an external experience internal. Step to the beat. I can do this. 30 days. It’s nothing.

I was a junior or senior in college when a professor apologized to me for his realized prejudice. It’s nothing near what some of us have known from our very first breath but these experiences teach us how to empathize, don’t they?

I joined a sorority a couple of years earlier, unimpressed with the idea but open to spending time with friends I already had who had taken the pledge. I held a position on the executive board. Nothing special. I was a secretary. But I wore the letters on campus and I wore them to his class.

I had no reason to suspect anything different about this professor. But after weeks of mixing up another student and me, he pulled me aside.

“I need to let you know something,” he said.

He went on to confess to me that he continued to confuse me with another student because he didn’t think I’d be capable of producing the caliber of work I produced. At some point during the mix ups, he realized what he was doing and it weighed heavily on him.

I hate to admit it but I laughed it off. He pressed me to accept his apology but I told him it wasn’t a big deal. I was shocked. I didn’t know how to respond to such a brutally honest confession and I let it slide. I don’t think he let himself slide but I may never really know.

The worst part is that is stays with me.

How do you forget something like that? Should you? Should I have felt relieved that he recognized the wrong and tried to right it? Would I have been better off unaware, convinced that out of hundreds of students over the years, it took him longer to know who I was?

Have you ever been confronted with prejudice? How do we fix something if it isn’t discussed? How do we address something without adding responsibility to the innocent?