Let Freedom Ring

The Battle of Yorktown. 1781. The first of many “final” battles to secure freedom for the people on these shores.

But — on this July 4, 2017 — what IS Freedom? What does it mean? What does it promise?

Janis Joplin wailed that “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose …” Well, I guess the option of feelin’ good with Bobbie Maggie is a perk of freedom. But I’m not sure that an attitude like that truly makes us free.  I guess if you’re “free,” you might choose to look at it as void of all responsibilities, commitments and rules. That is a very appealing definition. You Sail through life, unencumbered … free to do what you want when you want no matter the consequence.

But wait … If you’re free, what does consequence have to do with it? What does that imply about Freedom?

Les Représentans du peuple se rendront à leur destination, investis de la plus haute confiance et de pouvoirs illimités. Ils vont déployer un grand caractère. Ils doivent envisager qu’une grande responsabilité est la suite inséparable d’un grand pouvoir. Ce sera à leur énergie, à leur courage, et sur-tout à leur prudence, qu’ils devront leur succès et leur gloire. – Voltaire

In other words …

The people’s representatives will reach their destination, invested with the highest confidence and unlimited power. They will show great character. They must consider that great responsibility follows inseparably from great power. To their energy, to their courage, and above all to their prudence, they shall owe their success and their glory.

Consequences come with Freedom. Freedom presents us with Great Power. And, with Great Power comes Great Responsibility. Therefore, if Voltaire — and Lord Melbourne, Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and Marvel Comic’s Uncle Ben who also spoke those words — are to be believed, you can’t truly be Free without honoring your responsiblity to others.

Freedom is a double edged sword, clearly illustrated by the history of America as we interfere (or assist) globally and even within our borders. We are Free to write, gather and speak as we choose. To march, unitedly declaring our rights and frustrations. To remove historical monuments when they offend some or their interpreted intent does not appeal to all. To hang flags — or not. To worship — or not. To love. Well, relatively these days depending on the state. But the heart wants what the heart wants, so we love.

But Freedom is not a hall pass. Freedom doesn’t mean we can do what we choose with impunity.

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. – Nelson Mandela

But what does that mean? If we’re free, can’t we roll with it, baby? Nope. Yes, there exists in our nature an almost animalistic Need to be free … to do what we want as we want when we want with whomever we want. Isn’t that the very base meaning of the word? Again I ask … how does Freedom connect to Consequence?

Recent Presidents — both Republican and Democrat — can offer thought …

The anchor in our world today is freedom, holding us steady in times of change, a symbol of Hope to the world. – George W. Bush, State of the Union 1990


Because we are free, we can never be indifferent to the fate of freedom elsewhere.          – Jimmy Carter, Inaugural Address 1977

Yes, there exists in us a desire to be completely Free — to shed our burdens and obligations and separate from those around us to Fly. I know my kids crave that kind of freedom. Come and go. Live and let live. Explore and Experience. But that is a two-dimensional definition of the word. The self-oriented one. The one that seems to offer all the fun but truly is shallow, hollow and ultimately unfulfilling.

There are two freedoms. One where we can do what we like and one where we are free to do as we ought. (Charles Kingsley) Sure, freedom offers us as Americans the opportunity to dress, worship, speak, assemble, vote, bear arms and write as we please. Heck it gives you the option to read or not read my words. But there ARE still limits. Lawlessness, self-indulgence to the point of destruction, carelessness with those in our sphere, shooting those who we don’t like or disagree with … well you CAN behave that way. But those acts of “free will” bring about heady, legal consequences. Pretty sure Alexander Hamilton and friends would tell you that while the Declaration of Independence advocated life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness it also demanded responsibility. Responsibility for me to myself — and to those who walk near, beside me or even down the street a few blocks or states from me.

Freedom offers great power. And yes, Uncle Ben, with Great Power does come Great Responsibility. We do our best with that. Freedom doesn’t mean do what you want and what you please all the time. Freedom brings opportunity AND Checks and Balances.

Freedom … we keep using that word in our country, but I don’t think it means what you think it means.

Alex, TJ, George … so many of our leaders knew the Battle of Yorktown wasn’t the end of the war. It was the beginning of our ongoing struggle to maintain and secure true Freedom. To honor that Great Power with Great Responsibility with or without the slick Spidey suit and web-shooting power.

Let Freedom Ring!

 — Jenni



nothing to say

I haven’t written much lately.

That’s not exactly true. I scribble words in my journal, using either a super sharp poke your eye out pencil or a Uniball .5 micro blue pen. But my journals accept words I don’t publish. Just rambling thoughts, musings, frustrations, hopes, desires, annoyances, dreams, fears, etc.

Here in “the Corner,” I try for deeper thoughts. I try to Create something that might make my readers, followers, friends or people who just stumble upon my writing … Think. I seek to offer a message that might have value to someone. Might resonate or inspire.

Lately, I haven’t felt very inspirational. I haven’t had any lightning bolt ideas that I felt were share-worthy. I’ve been a bit overwhelmed in my own personal life. I’ve gone through some ups and downs. Losses. Changes. Difficult moments. Oh there have been joys and exciting happenings too — a color-coded calendar of pretty cool stuff happening to me and around me, along with my family. I have events to plan and projects to do. Lists to complete. And I’m doing workouts and yoga classes that are really awesome yet don’t seem to get my abs to behave quite as well as they did before 50.

Anyway, I have “Stuff.” And sometimes the Stuff gets in the way of my writing.

But last night at yoga as I did that Boat to Low Boat pose until I was pretty sure death was near, I accepted that the “Stuff” that makes me crazy, stressed, happy, sad, frustrated, hopeful, angry, out of breath, depressed and excited is the REAL stuff that life is made of.

It’s not all Unicorns and Rainbows, people.

No matter what appearance I may present, I am a Hot Mess. We all are, really. We all have “Stuff” and my “Stuff” tries to block my visits to the Corner. It says to me, your words are not worthy. Keep them to yourself. It tries to hold me back.

But life is about curiosity even though you might fall down the rabbit hole and finding joy and laughter as the rain pounds down against your skin. It’s about jumping in puddles made by that rainstorm and being happy in that moment. It’s defined as much by how you work through the darkness or the restlessness or the change or the unkindness or the loss as by your smile when the living is easy. Be honest. Those times when you are blissful and grounded or when you’ve got it all together and feel balanced and at peace are rare and fleeting. Oh, like Maria, you get to that top of that mountain and spin around. But then something throws you and you’re right back fighting dragons — or Nazis and seven unruly kids.

But that’s another story.

Anyway, I’m coming to terms with the fact that Life isn’t about Keeping It Together. Cause you can’t. Life is about enjoying moments and nuances within the Crazy, Stressful, Busy, Uncomfortable or Difficult. Personal satisfaction and peace come from breathing and knowing that no matter how long it may seem you reside in the darkness, there is Light all around. You just have to open your eyes and see the beauty in the midst of the thorns.

See, It’s kinda like a Rose. A Rose is extraordinary. It starts small and then opens up into a full bloom with dainty, soft blossoms. But when you reach out and touch it, you may be pricked by a thorn. That thorn doesn’t make it any less beautiful. It just makes it Real.

So, I guess I had something to say after all. My Block that kept me out of the Corner was my own fear of allowing myself to become vulnerable and real. To admit I’m a Hot Mess. To say, at times I’m sad, lonely and depressed. At times, I just don’t have it together. But if I can’t say it in The Corner, where else can I say it?

It may not be profound. But though it’s hard, I’m gonna keep doing the Low Boat to High Boat yoga pose in an effort to train my abs. And I’m gonna continue to be busy to my corners and find joy as I dance in the rain.

I may never find smooth sailing out there. But I’m gonna accept, grow and sparkle in spite of and because of what I find — good and challenging — as I ride out the waves.

— Jenni



Oh the places you’ll go …

I’m re-reading one of my favorite books. The name doesn’t truly matter.  I believe reading is very personal and that a book invites us on adventure unique for each of us. How I experience a book and how you might experience the same one, well, that might be different. When we read, we let go of control and allow words to shape, create images and color our surroundings. How we experience a book is dependent on our personality, circumstances and where we are emotionally when we crack it open. I’ve re-read enough books to know that you can have a completely different experience another time through.

Now, I don’t re-read many books. I have too many new ones on my list! But there are a few that captivate me … that draw me in and keep me connected to them no matter how many books I read in the between times.

I received notification from Goodreads, the site I log my reads, want to reads and books read, that the final book in the installment would be released this week. I recalled how much I enjoyed the first two books last summer, sitting outside on my patio, savoring the pages as I soaked in some rays. These books had been discovered on a fluke. I’d been browsing the new release shelves at my local library when the title drew my attention.

I have to admit that I’m shallow when it comes to my media. An intriguing cover and catchy title are perfect bait.

Anyway … with a new release imminent, I decided to return to this well-loved tale. This time through, though, I wanted to own the Trilogy. And, as I’ve run out of shelf space and am trying to avoid additional clutter, I opted to download them onto my Nook. Thus my adventure in Prythian began anew.

rosesIt’s funny. I remember fundamentals. I know where the story is heading and how it will end. But I find myself reading between the lines now. Looking for signs of things to come in book two and beyond. I see the characters differently when I re-read them. I cast them in my mind and watch the story unfold. Books are my own mental movies. Of course, I know things at this point I didn’t know the first time through. Yet, I’m still fascinated. I”m still drawn in as I delve into the characters, their relationships, their stories and their adventures. Perhaps I even project myself into the character of Feyre.

Why, you may wonder, re-read a book? You know how it will go. You know how it will end. Where then is the draw? Wouldn’t it be better to find something new and journey somewhere else?

I guess a good book is like a favorite vacation spot. You travel there again and again. But when you arrive, your pulse rate slows and you find ease and a sense of bliss. You can’t wait to get there. You walk the well-known beach and discover a view you missed before. Or, you simply find pleasure in re-tracing the path you’ve gone so many times and gazing at the view of the bay which you’ve seen year after year but still can’t get enough of.

For years, my family has traveled to Traverse City in August. We’ve stayed on the East Bay. We’ve unpacked our luggage in the same — or much similar — hotel room.  We’ve shopped at Bayside Market for seafood and this wonderful cherry chicken salad. We’ve journeyed by car — and boat — along the peninsula to see the same incredible views. We’ve enjoyed Thai Food, pizza and cheese, crackers & wine at our umbrella covered picnic table. Over the years, we’ve built sandcastles, played beach volleyball and walked a familiar trek morning after morning … year after year. As an “early riser, ” I’ve watched the sun ascend over the horizon with coffee in my hand … and for a time kids on my lap.  We’ve embarked on sunset cruises or jaunted out to Elk Rapids by boat. We’ve floated on many inflated plastic “oasis” and sipped everything from water to sodas, beers, and tropical cocktails — relying on a cabana boy (or girl) to keep us stocked so we didn’t need to climb off our floating paradise.

A favorite book can be like that. It’s a friend. It’s a vacation spot. It’s a loved one … someone or someplace you revisit over and over and over again even though you know the ending. It’s a place you genuinely like to go where you can relax, unwind, let go, and enjoy every time you travel there.

When I unpack in that Traverse City hotel room, I know that seven days hence I will repack my bags. Another year will go by before I return — perhaps more. The kids will be different … older. I will be too. It is never the same, this favorite vacation spot by the bay. Each year, despite the repeats, something is different. Yet, I find joy every single time.

I guess it’s the same as that book … I know where the tale is headed. I know there will be struggles and celebrations, love and loss. But how I experience it and the pleasure I find reading it, that is new every time I crack it open.

Oh the places I go, without a ticket, car or passport. A favorite book is a friend or a special place that I can’t wait to return to … even though I know what happens on that final page …

                                                                                                                              — Jenni

Scattered Notes*

A few years ago — okay, it’s actually a couple decades ago by now  — a friend of mine wrote a play. And, in the summer of 1994, we set out to stage it.

It was a special summer, filled with lengthy conversations over boombas of Bud Light at our favorite watering hole Rumors. Besides typical twentysomething stuff, we discussed and analyzed the characters he had written, intent on creating truth on stage.

My character (Kate) was a little like me. She was the oldest in the family, tightly wound — a little intense, a little uptight, in control. She had a Franklin Planner and excellent organizational skills! Okay, a lot like me. But in the play, she was faced with things she didn’t know how to handle with a checklist. Change. Revelations. Loss.

I remember spending lengthy hours studying the script, striving to create honesty in the character of Kate. I delved deep. It was fun, exciting and challenging to originate a role … but there was one particular moment that was extremely difficult for me. At the end of the play, Kate had to dance. It was symbolic of letting go … of unconditional acceptance, forgiveness, love and embracing life as it was, not how she wanted to force it to be. She — I — had to stand alone in the spotlight and dance.

There I was during rehearsals with my three friends … amazing actors who slightly intimidated me with their own incredible talent and ease on stage. I stood alone in that final moment of the play. I wanted to do right by them and by my friend who wrote the piece and trusted me with this role. And to do right, I had to let go … to find something vulnerable inside myself and release it for them … and a bunch of strangers sitting out there in the darkness … to see.

It was one of the most difficult stage moments of my life.

Those who know me recognize me for a Type A personality — organizing, planning, controlling (in a good way) and managing lists and events are my thing. Allowing myself to open up and be vulnerable in front of others, well, that’s a lot harder.Give me lines, I’m good. Ask me to get raw on stage, that’s harder.

Vulnerability. It’s difficult, allowing others to see and know us for the good, the bad and the ugly. To share something others may not want or be ready to hear. It’s scary to take off the mask, allowing your true self, thoughts, hopes, desires, flaws, aspirations and feelings to be known by others. To uncover the cracks or struggles by opening your heart. To perhaps show that you don’t have it all together. To be vulnerable is to invite potential rejection and pain. On my yoga mat, it can mean I fall out of a pose — and everyone in the room sees or hears that. Off the mat, it can lead to hurt worse than hitting the floor.

Vulnerability means you speak your truth to someone you care for, owning your feelings, dreams and thoughts. You invite potential rejection when you do so and lose some friendships along the way — but you also open the doors to possibility. You make a film, investing your creativity and your self writing a script, casting it, mounting the production and spending hours editing. Perhaps it gets noticed … recognized … honored. Perhaps it’s not quite what you’d planned or thought it might be. You write a play, but no one shows up to audition yet somehow you stage it and learn amazing things about yourself anyway. You start your own business or publish a blog. You put yourself out there and see what happens.

When you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you invite in the consequences, discoveries and joys — the good and the difficult — the remarkable and the intense.

Three years ago, encouraged by two friends, I started My Own Little Corner by Jenni. Like the song from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, in my own little corner I can be whatever I want to be — say whatever I want to say and dream my dreams.

But I took my words out of “the corner,” dusting them off and offering them to readers I knew and readers I didn’t. I made myself vulnerable. And, as a result, I grew. I made new discoveries. In my life, I’ve chosen to explore passions and at times experienced the devastating pain of rejection and indifference. I guess, though, the point is if you don’t put yourself out there and allow yourself to be vulnerable, you’ll never know what is possible. You’ll never be free.

SNYou have to allow the Scattered Notes of your heart to play … let go … and dance.

I learned it that summer with Eileen, Paul and Matthew. I learn it over and over again as I open myself up … not knowing what will come. I make discoveries when I open my heart and get vulnerable. Even when I fall down. And, I can’t bring myself to regret those choices.

Kate taught me that. The possibilities that come when you stand in the spotlight, open your heart and your arms … and dance.

— Jenni

*dedicated to Matthew T. Troyer … happy birthday.


Silence, Betrayal & Forgiveness

The Thursday of Holy Week is the darkest day of the year for me. It symbolizes isolation and abandonment. It epitomizes betrayal …

In high school, I performed in the musical Godspell, an upbeat staging of the Book of Matthew dramatizing parables with clever dialogue and integrated music. The most powerful scene for me was The Last Supper when the cast wiped off our decorative face paint, revealing our true selves. It was then that the character of Jesus stated that one of us would betray him. Of course, we all denied it.

Next came the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus went to pray, begging his Father to remove the pain and suffering he knew was coming. He took us, his friends, along for support. He needed us to share the darkness with him. But we fell asleep, awakening to the slamming of the door. Then, Judas marched down the aisle, kissed Jesus on the cheek, and betrayed him to the Roman guards.

During the discordant music following, we … the friends who had shared years of good times together … we who ate, drank, talked and hung out together … we who only moments before declared we would never deny or abandon him … scattered.

Silence and Betrayal.

I wonder what Jesus felt right then, watching his friends bail on him moments after they promised they’d never betray him.  I wonder sometimes if Jesus’ friends had just been honest with him – and themselves — about their fears, would that have changed the dynamic? Would their honesty have offered Jesus comfort when he was imprisoned and they were gone?

What if when he passed them the chalice and suggested betrayal was in the air they had said to him: “Ya know, Jesus, I like you and truly care about you. But I’m not sure I can handle all this right now. I enjoy hanging out. But it’s getting a little intense and I need to step back.”

Or did they even know in that moment an unforeseen element would shake their relationship to the very core and fragment it? Was it a shock to them too?

It’s this Silence in the dark and the Betrayal that hits me hardest. They fell away without warning. They left him to walk the Via Dolorosa all by himself without so much as a word to someone they had only seconds, hours and weeks before professed to care for deeply. They cut him off and ran. Jesus knew it was coming, sure. But that didn’t make the denial and rejection easier.

I imagine Jesus there, knowing he’s on his own. God is silent. Judas sells him out. Peter denies knowing him and their friendship not once but three times. Every one of his other friends flees, leaving him with memories of words spoken and empty declarations of love. He stands before a hostile crowd, completely alone and — I think — sad too. All that time invested in relationships and all the adventures shared, only to watch those he loved most walk away without a word. Ouch!

Silence and Betrayal.

Yet … despite it all, he forgave them. He knew in his heart they loved and cared about him. Jesus was an expert on subtext! He knew their fears and doubts — the things they struggled with. But he walked the road with them as friends anyway, knowing eventually how it all would end. He loved them still.

Silence and Betrayal. It makes today the Hardest Day of the year for me.

forgieBut in Godspell, I was the Day by Day girl. And, in the scene prior to my song, I learned that we must each “each forgive our brothers, from our hearts.” So even in the darkest of darks 2000 years after that awful betrayal (and 35 years after my final performance of Godspell), Forgiveness is there, more powerful than hate and anger, offering healing.

I’m not alone when I say I’ve felt the sting of denial, silence and betrayal myself. There are friends I’d thought cared deeply about me but rejected and hurt me. I’m no saint, but I can choose to follow the example Jesus set. No matter what happens on my own personal Via Dolorosa — and no matter if people who I cared for hurt, deny or abandon me — I can choose to Forgive.

I still wonder if it would have been just a tinge gentler on Jesus if his friends had talked to him before they left. He would have understood. He would have loved them anyway and accepted their choice. But they didn’t. And I can’t help but think that betrayal cut as deeply as the nails in his hands and feet …

Maundy Thursday is about Betrayal. But Love and Forgiveness didn’t wait until the brightness of Easter Sunday. They are never delayed when truly hoped for. They were there in the darkness of Gethsemane when his friends fled. And they are still here today.



Have Courage and Be Kind

I was raised on The Wonderful World of Disney and my parents took us to see all the animated Disney films in the theatres. Disney wasn’t yet the corporate giant it is today, but the stories and characters fascinated me. Yes, as a little girl, I wanted to be a Princess. Part of me still does …

Back then, there were only three princesses to choose from: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Since my childhood, the Disney Princess Roster has expanded greatly, and I find something admirable in all of them. But those I personally relate to best are Belle and Cinderella.

Recently, Disney released live action versions of both tales. They were truly magical and showcased the reason I admire these two strong women. Belle reminds me of the importance of books, imagination and looking beyond an outer image to find and appreciate the beauty within. To not judge others or make casual assessments that destroy or define something because it is different. But I will address that in another blog.

It’s the live action Cinderella, starring Lily James and James Madden, that I focus on today. There have of course been many Cinderella productions, plays, musicals, ballets, and modern variations on the rags-to-riches tale. But the 2015 film touches my spirit and reflects the reason Cinderella has always been my favorite heroine.

In the film, Ella (the Cinder part comes later) comes from a loving home, but her mother dies early. Yet her mother’s love and wisdom gives Ella the strength to maintain Hope and eventually save herself. Oh sure, she gets a prince in the end and has a little help from a magical fairy godmother. But she chose how to deal with the life thrust upon her and find her own way out of the miserable circumstances brought on by her father’s unfortunate selection of Wife #2.

The message her mother gives? Have Courage and Be Kind.

When her stepmother oppresses and undermines her, turning her into a servant in her own home, Ella shows grace instead of defiance and makes the most of her situation, befriending both the servants and animals around her. Her life is full of cruelty and she could easily lose her spirit and despair. But in the end with the prince by her side, instead of repaying the aduse she took in kind, she maintains grace. She utters the stronger message, telling her Stepmother: “I forgive you.”

I’ve been cast as Cinderella in three stage productions and I treasure each experience. I love the dress of course. The transformation scene is one of the most magical moments in the story. But it’s this woman’s ability to find Joy and Calm in the midst of adversity that inspires me. She recalls and finds happy moments when all around her is selfishness. She has courage and is kind while the interlopers reject her. That is what I admire in Ella, the girl who deserves so much love yet sleeps alone by the cinders. She finds in herself a way to rise above it all.

Though I’ve played the role, I’m not sure I’ve always had courage or been as kind as I should have been. I have not always considered the feelings of others. I’ve not always been brave enough to hold my tongue, take the higher ground or walk away from a difficult situation. And, as a result, I’ve hurt people — sometimes even knowing the damage I might do I must admit. I’ve been selfish at times and thoughtless.

As I watched the film this morning, I felt inspired once again by the story to follow Ella’s mother’s sage advice. To be kinder and slower to take offense or rise to anger. To show courage in the midst of darkness and rejection or when I’m uncertain and alone. And, perhaps just as importantly, to forgive those who may have hurt me … no matter the cause or reason.

Disney’s Princesses offer valuable lessons that resonate with more than just young girls. A kinder more courageous world where we are gentle and gracious to each other despite our differences is something to Hope for. To forgive when we’ve been carelessly, thoughtlessly or even intentionally hurt … I’m a work in progress here. But, one situation comes to mind today. And my response is to echo Ella’s … “I forgive you.”

No fairy godmother or magic wand needed. Just Have Courage, my readers. And Be Kind.

— Jenni


Sugar & Spice

I packed away my daughter’s dollhouse today.

Sitting on the pink carpeting in her updated “tween”-styled room, I carefully removed tiny pieces of furniture and dusted them before placing them carefully in the box from which I had removed them nearly 9 years ago. Some of the pieces had come from my own dollhouse. Some were new to her. When it came time to pack away the tiny pink china dishes, I felt tears slipping down my face.

She’d once found so much joy in that dollhouse. We’d discovered it on a fluke at a garage sale. I’d planned on building her one, like my parents built mine. But we “renovated” this one instead, together selecting new colors, painting it, adding hardwood flooring, kitchen tile, carpeting and updated wallpaper, and finally decorating it with furniture. Her Lallaloopsy dolls found their home inside those walls. Many were still inside, lounging on dusty chairs and sleeping in the brass bed I treasured once upon a time.

I remember watching her play, moving and speaking for the dolls and creating magical stories only she understood.  I remember the many times she asked me to “play people” with her, and we sat down on the floor and imagined together.

The dollhouse, Lallaloopsies and American Girl dolls have been left alone for a year now. I was in Denial for a while. Hopeful that the days of her exploring the extraordinary, captivating widths and depths of her imagination and “playing people” were not over. But, as I removed dusty furniture and dolls, I knew that time had passed. And I was seriously weeping when I carried the dollhouse to the basement and placed the boxed up furniture on a shelf to save for Paige’s children to discover.

I’d been through this once before, as my son transitioned away from his once coveted Webkinz and Club Penguin membership. He packed his childhood toys away himself, though. One day they were in his room; the next they were in a box in the basement. It’s a Toy Story 3 moment — a film I truly cannot watch as I sob every time.

286592_10150290105123746_6489319_oThough endings come and the days of dolls conc, I know I will have new treasured times to share with Paige. No, she won’t climb on my lap and snuggle — she’d crush me if she did! And she won’t ask me to play people or share a tea party with her AG dolls. But, we’ll share tween dramas, iTunes downloads and boy problems, friendship struggles and pointe ballet performances. What’s ahead, I truly don’t know. But, we’ve already shared the fun of picking out a dress and styling her hair for her first middle school dance.

There will be many Sugary moments in the coming days, weeks, months and years.  Life is like that. The discomfort of Spice as relationships twist and turn and sometimes fall away is hard to endure. Endings are difficult. Sometimes you don’t see them coming. They sneak up on you, unexpected. One moment you’re immersed in sweet Sugary playtime and experiencing incredible joy. Then, the story changes. You reach the end of a book without realizing it. Some experiences — like childhood — can’t last forever, no matter how many stars we wish upon.

As I packed away Paige’s childhood treasures, a part of me was packed away too.  But, having been here before and made it to the other side with an amazing 17-year old soon to graduate and go to college son, I know there’s Hope. My daughter and I have always been close. And though her Tween to Teen years may present a lot of Spice, I know there will be Sugary Joy and Special Memories along the way.

And, for the record, after I cleaned out, vacuumed and dusted her room, I settled down on the floor to change all Paige’s American Girl dolls into Spring dresses and enjoyed a tea party of my own with them …

— Jenni