kidney stones

This too shall pass. It might pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.


It feels like this pandemic will last forever. It’s hard to remember when there was a time we could freely run errands or make spontaneous plans with friends. It’s impossible to imagine what the will future will look like after.

If you’ve ever had a kidney stone, they hurt. I mean piercing, stabbing pain in your back and side that feels like you’ve been stabbed with a hot poker. It’s hard to imagine something so small can cause so much havoc on the human body. When you have a kidney stone, everything just stops.

Now, doctors will tell you to that you have to be up and moving. Walk around and let gravity help move the kidney stone through your system. Pain will limit your movements, but do what you can. Just lying around may feel better in the short term, but you’ll be in pain longer as the stone just sits there in your body. You just have to remember that eventually, the stone will pass and you will be able to resume your daily life.

So right now, the world is passing a giant kidney stone. The worst the doctor’s have ever seen. But we can’t just lie here and do nothing. We must keep moving. We need to keep each other safe. We need to help our neighbors and those who are struggling. We need to check on the teachers and single mothers and furloughed workers and those with mental health issues or who might be unsafe at home. Even through the pain, we can still make a difference

And just like a kidney stone, this too shall pass.


we were essential.

it was essential
that we came to work
sick because they were

essential meant missing
our child’s game
to work that extra shift, 
or knowing someone else
was putting our child to bed. 

giving thanks
for the microwave dinner
we ate before opening the store
for massive crowds, or
sitting alone in a dark room,
watching the Christmas lights twinkle. 

now we wonder how long a meager
savings account will last. 
the bills pile up as we teach
our child the math we never understood
in the first place.

cutting apart precious clothing
to make masks to keep us safe.
watching worship services on
bandwidth that is too slow. 
the future a blank wall
in front of us. 

tomorrow we will be essential again. 

so why aren’t we essential today?

the cottonwood tree

Growing up outside Galesville, WI, tucked into a small valley, I was in awe of the flat open expanse of the La Crosse marsh. It was always a special occasion to load my brother and I and some of our friends in our station wagon and have a picnic at Myrick Park, but I always found myself standing on the edge of the trails, the toes of my shoes barely in the water, looking out across the marsh to the bluffs on the other side. We were never allowed on the trails because at 8 years old, you couldn’t convince us not to jump in the algae or chase birds. I am lucky enough now to live right on the northwest edge of the marsh, a walking trail practically in my backyard.  

In the middle of the marsh, on an aptly named trail, is an old cottonwood tree that I have gone back to visit year after year since I was about 20 years old. 

The fastest way to get there is by taking the paved Grand Crossing trail but it’s not nearly as beautiful. It seems more fitting to start on the other side of the park and walk the gravel and dirt Cottonwood trail. If it’s been dry, little dust clouds float around your feet as you walk. The trees and grass on either side of the trail will be a little droopy and a deep, dark green. The water will be green with algae floating on the surface and if you watch carefully, you can see turtles hiding among the logs and driftwood. Usually I just hear their splash as they slide back into the water because I was making too much noise. If it’s rained recently you have to be careful not to slide around in the mud. I usually stay off the trails on those days for fear of damaging them. The perfect day to walk the trails is about two days after it’s rained, hopefully its sunny with a few puffy clouds floating by. 

You’ll walk about half a mile towards a shady clump of trees in the distance. After a few turns you will come to right angle in the path and standing majestically over this crossroads is a cottonwood tree. It stands well over a 100 feet tall, its canopy blocking out the sun for most of the day. The bark is not smooth; instead the trunk is marked with deep grooves, almost like a giant cat has used it as a scratching post. Cottonwood trunks are hollow so you can always see birds and small critters coming and going from their shelter within the tree.

Most people never see the most unique part of this tree. If you leave the train and walk around to the back side of the tree and look carefully at its base, you’ll see a fairy door; a patch of bark lighter in color that looks like it has hinges, doorknob, and even a little curtained window. I discovered this door when I first saw the tree as a child (*I can’t remember how young I was*) and I instantly believed that fairies made a home in this tree and it was a doorway into their realm. I’ve chosen to hold onto this belief, because really, who wants to completely give up the possibility of a little magic in the world. 

In many Native American stories, the cottonwood tree is a symbol of hope. The cottonwood tells us we must remember that we are all connected as one community, to count our blessings, and to have hope for the future. This is how we will get through trying times to find peace together on the other side. This message seems fitting for the current times we are living through.  

Every spring when the trails reopen for the season, I can’t wait to get back to the marsh to say hello to the cottonwood tree and welcome in another new year with new hopes and new dreams. 

the universe made me, so i matter…right?

I sat down to do my daily (more like monthly) meditation. My brain has been spinning since the revelations I learned last night about my relationship with my grandfather. I don’t feel like I know myself anymore.

The Lord and Lady showed up pretty quickly after I started my meditation timer. It was instant hugs of comfort and understanding. We sat together in the grass, the Lord took my face in his hands and reminded me that:

“The Universe made you. The idea of you was so powerful We brought all the pieces together, from every corner of the Universe and beyond, and made the unique and beautiful person that is you. And no matter what, you are loved, without question or limit. Even in the darkest depths, your soul, your heart, is the only light you need. You are you and that is perfect.”

I’m not sure I have ever felt this connection to them before. They have always been there, but now they are truly here with me.

Daily Divination

It’s no surprise that I pulled the Honey Bee card from my new Liminal Spirits Oracle. One message of the Honey Bee is about communication within a tribe or family. It’s also about about unique place in our family structures and finding joy in the work we do. I think Honey Bee is here to help me find my place in the hive.

when grandpa didn’t like me

It’s always interesting – sometimes good, sometimes bad – to find out something about your past that explains so much about yourself in the present.

It’s hard to find out you were unwanted as a child. I always knew my grandfather was a narcissistic asshole. He was a truly horrible person. And for some reason I will never understand, he hated me. Or was at least completely indifferent to my existence. My mother shared a memory with me yesterday from when I was three. My grandfather was our (I have a twin brother) primary babysitter until we started school and could begin fending for ourselves. On this particular day, I looked at my mother and told her I didn’t want to go to grandpa’s house. When she asked me why, I replied solemnly, “grandpa doesn’t like me.”

My mother didn’t sugar coat it. She didn’t try to explain it away or make excuses. She just said that is the way it is, grandpa can be mean sometimes. She made sure I always had a book with me and I would find a hidden corner to curl up in and read until mom or dad came to pick us up. I know this broke my mother’s heart.

I have spent most of my life feeling unwanted or ignored by my family. I always feel they never want me around or are humoring me when they invite me to things. The first thing I do at any gathering is grab my book and find a quiet spot to tuck myself into for the day. I claim my spot and after 30 some years, my family has figured out that you don’t sit in Lauren’s spot. It has been a running joke among my in-laws since my husband and I met.

Hearing my mother tell this story of a three year old realizing she’s not wanted explains so much about my current view of my place in the world. My psyche has spent the last 12 hours trying to reorder everything I thought I knew about myself and my family. I’m not sure I even know where to start.

normal | a list

“In the rush to return to normal, let’s use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.”

David Hollis
The ten things I wants to see in my new normal:
  1. Daily phone calls with my family. 
  2. Every Saturday night is game night. 
  3. My husband placing a hot cup tea in front of me as I write. 
  4. Morning walks through the park. 
  5. Talking to my favorite small business owners as I shop their stores. 
  6. Meeting friends at the farmer’s market every Friday afternoon. 
  7. Putting down my phone and picking up a good book. 
  8. Eating at least one meal every day with my husband.
  9. Get to know my neighbors.
  10. Scheduling time just to breathe.