Your Stories are Wiser Than You Are

Whenever readers express their admiration for what I’ve created, I feel abashed. For many years I interpreted this as feeling fraudulent, as though surely I hadn’t written whatever they’d read or perhaps they were projecting their own unintegrated esteem onto me or buttering me up. Then I went through a spell of deliberately trying to take in others’ praise. I’ve earned it! I told myself. But that didn’t sit right. Later I tried practicing gratitude; the opportunity to have a reader read my words is a real gift, and doubly so when the reading experience matters to the reader.

Somehow, though, none of these reactions to others’ praise felt right. Was I conditioned to deflect compliments? Why, despite positive responses, did I never feel worthy? (more…)

April Snowballs

Our mid-April blizzard (and ensuing school release day; arg!) has melted down to patches of wet, icy snow on Minneapolis’s boulevards. This is the kind of loose snow you can easily scoop and pack that only appears in the spring. Our family after-dinner walks to the lake have naturally turned into moving snowball fights. Sun warms our shoulders, loons dive down at the lake, an occasional heron flies overhead, and we sling snowballs at each other. We reenact the dual between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. We hurl them into the lake. We aim at stop signs. They splat, leaving a wet smear. They soak through our mittens. (more…)

Strange Humility

Strange Humility

When my mother died I inherited some money from her life insurance policy. Most of it went directly toward retirement but there were two small extravagances I indulged in and about which my mother would’ve wholeheartedly approved: I bought my first couch after 25 years of sitting on a futon, and we hired once-a-month housecleaning help.

My mother kept an immaculate home. You could have eaten a meal off her garage floor. (more…)