Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Let It Go



I have never been a pack rat. I don’t collect things or keep things that have no use. I have never been one with regrets, the past is in the past and I don’t let it weigh me down. And yet, this year, I have learned three very powerful words:

Let it go.

If you can fix it, do. If you can change it, do. If you can’t, let it go.


I like to have themes in my year. In 2012, I said “Enjoy the process.” And in 2013, I planned to use “Never be afraid of hard work.”

But, magically, a new theme emerged right when I needed it most. I didn’t plan for the phrase of 2013 to be Let It Go, but it was.

My older sister has changed her phone number, refuses to speak to us, and is very possibly in an abusive relationship. Yet I cannot help her.

Let it go.

My Nana’s long battle with pulmonary fibrosis finally ended and she died peacefully at home surrounded by family. Except me. I was 5000 miles away.

Let it go.

My seven year journey for a PhD ended with the words I dreamed of hearing, “Congratulations, Dr. Whitener.” That struggle is over.

Let it go.

When the weight of life threatened to suffocate me into inaction, pity, grief, guilt, the words came, “Let it go.”

Thank you, 2013, for delivering such a powerful mantra. Thank you for giving me the courage to move on.

Monday, December 16, 2013

They Just Keep Moving the Line



I’ve been toying with an idea for several months now. It would be a series of essays written as letters to my favorite Pulitzer Prize winning writer. When we met nearly two years ago, he and I had an interesting conversation about empathy.

My idea is to pick up the debate we were having and explain myself. It’s almost one of those, “What I should have said,” series. Kind of like every unrequited love poem ever written.

As I was describing the idea to a writer friend not too long ago he responded very candidly,

“Who would read that?”

He had a point. There are two ways to address this so I’ll do so as if this blog allowed you to Choose Your Own Adventure. To see the topic addressed as, “If no one reads it, is it worth writing?” Click Here. To read the topic addressed as, “Shouldn’t we all want to explore the topic of empathy?” Click Here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Angels on High



My cousin Ethan is tall enough that on Friday as we decorated our Papa’s Christmas tree, he was able to reach the top to affix the angel.

Papa’s angel is a happy sprite, a white dress, brown yarn hair, rounded plastic cheeks and a tight but friendly smile. I’m sure Nana bought her at Big Lots or Dollar General or something. 


I can’t remember having seen her before, having noticed her before, but I know there’s always been an angel on top of that tree.

My parents’ tree had an angel mom bought at Dart Drug in Salisbury, Maryland during their first or second Christmas season.  I remember thinking that angel was beautiful. We were not allowed to touch her; Dad would put her on top of the tree after we’d finished decorating.

The angel on mine and Charlie’s tree is a CVS purchase; she wears stiff gold wraps that make her look as if some heavenly wind is holding her aloft. She still has some sparkles left and she attaches to the tree with the wire twist tie that once held her upright in her box.

After helping Mama with her tree, Hollie visited Little Papa and reported that his tree has a star on top. A star! She was amazed. She didn’t know trees could be topped with stars.

It’s one of the many changes over the last year: Little Papa has his own tree at his own house, Aunt Lesli refuses to speak to her sisters, and Big Papa’s Christmas decorations were unpacked and assembled by his grandchildren, without Nana.