Be That Child

A couple of days ago, I woke up, looked out the window and thought, “Oh yeah, the virus.” And suddenly I felt like my nine-year-old self arriving at sleep-away camp for the first time. From a family without much, never having been out of my southside neighborhood, I was now in Racine, WI at a…Read more »


From a distance, Grafton could pass for an elder statesman of the old south. Long, lean, with a full head of snow-white hair, he stood with a soldier’s posture, despite the icy wind blowing in from Lake Michigan. It wasn’t until you got closer that you noticed how greasy his hair was, how poorly clothed…Read more »

The Urge to Sort

Detecting differences in, and quickly categorizing others seems to be an innate need in humans, perhaps dating back to a time when an unknown person was a very real threat. Without a clear understanding of our tendency to do this, however, we wander the world judging and sorting people, in order to reassure ourselves about…Read more »

Pain Was My Party Dress

Having clinical depression has meant spending repeated stretches of my life in therapy, teaching me much, but also necessitating descents into the abyss, where I frequently would find myself reaching blindly for a handhold with which to gain purchase and pull myself up and out once again. Often, I simply didn’t have a clue, as…Read more »

Mrs. Buckmeier Expects Kindness

We were afraid to walk past Mrs. Buckmeier’s old frame house and would run past, shrieking with equal parts fear and silliness. It looked like it was abandoned and haunted, though we knew she still lived there. All the paint that had once covered the house was long gone. You could see the warp in…Read more »

Running on Empty

I worked with kids in foster care in Chicago, for an agency that providedadditional advocacy and support services to foster kids who had slipped or were in danger of slipping, through the cracks, something that happened more often than you would think. I mean, foster kids could get “lost” for months, even years. DCFS caseworkers…Read more »


The Uptown community was a mishmash of cultures, lots of recent immigrants, alcohol and drug addicts, the homeless, and the mentally ill. Most were living in rundown apartment buildings. Some of the street dwellers occasionally scored a “room”– really just a 6’ x 6’ section of a larger space, with chicken wire separating areas barely…Read more »

Like a Wildflower

Do you want to feel strong and courageous? Do you wish to learn and grow wise as you grow older? Do you need a reason to hope in what can be a bleak world? Be a wildflower. Wildflowers are my heroes. They are tenacious, finding root in the least hospitable places. They are adaptable, blooming…Read more »