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24 year old me. Married and mad about it.

My sister sent me this old picture. I remember sitting in her apartment kitchen as she took this photo on 35mm black and white. I had traveled over two hours north to stay with her for the weekend, leaving my husband at home, as I often did. Seeking respite and fun with my sister was one thing that saved me.

I got married at 19. Nineteen. A baby bride.

6 out of 6 of my best friends from the church got married as young or younger than I did. Four out of the six of us are divorced now. Some remarried.

Before we got married, I imagined bliss: Naked…


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Photo by Morgan Sarkissian on Unsplash

I see you:

Running around the lake on your lunch break.

I see you pushing your running stroller at nap time.

I see you running alongside your kids who are reluctantly biking alongside you.

I see you in the early morning, I see you late at night.

You are out there.

Despite being tired, stressed — or because you’re tired and stressed.

Despite the weather, or because of good weather.

I see you.

You are making that 30 minutes, that 22 minutes, that 4 miles or 10, or that hour — yours.

You’re owning that time.

Because you need to…


A Skeptic’s Poem

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Illustration by Leen

Love.

What is it?

Is it codependency?

On both sides:

If you love me, I’ll love you back.

A negotiation?

A solution to alone.

We hear:

Love is a verb.

Love is a choice.

Love is all you need.

Love is everywhere.

There’s romantic love versus the broader ‘love’

Versus self love

What is it?

Is it so basic it can’t be defined?

So broad, encompassing?

Or so elusive it can’t be pinned down?

Is it a shifting vapor,

A cozy blanket,

a sweet sense

floating like a halo

Is it found inside of joy

Or deep within the sorrow…


I’m just not gonna go anymore

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Illustration by Leen

My love affair with social media started twelve years ago. A very brief recap:

Then: I joined Facebook in 2007, when I was 29. It was cute and fresh then. Even the name sounded cute, aww, Facebook? Kinda like a yearbook. I was newly divorced and reeling from it (I was married at 19, which is a future post all to its own) but I appreciated the novelty of hearing if someone else was also bored at work. And much like an interactive, realtime yearbook, I liked the potential reconnection with friends and possible partners / suitors.

Now: Age, 41…


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Illustration by Leen

My son still goes to the “only right church.” The one I left.

The one I grew up in.

The one that says dancing is wrong. It can “lead you astray” and is only a way to “celebrate the world” and takes place in situations that “aren’t the right place for a child of God…”

I heard this growing up in sermon after sermon. Yet I still danced. Some of my best moves were to Huey Lewis, Madonna, The Bangles. I would shut the door of my room and get down. Music was okay in my family. My mom was…


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Preface:

You’re nearing 60, and it’s been a good run. You have a husband you’ve been married to for almost 40 years, you’re a grandparent, you’re retired.

Life is on a steady, low-key kind of ride.

The golden years.

You look in the mirror, and you no longer evaluate or poke or prod.

You just are.

You have weight in places your mom did, or maybe your dad. Or maybe your aunt Betty.

It’s how your family all looks, if you peek at those old photo albums:

Bigger bellies, thin legs. Big smiles. Laughing, usually.

People that loved hard, enjoyed…


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Illustration by Leen

Another mom was being interviewed on a Podcast.

She was describing her life, managing time, and said something to the effect of being “in the thick of motherhood.”

And it stung. For some reason.

It stopped me, and my heart ached for my son, who was at his dad’s.

As I thought about it, I realized something:

There’s a different type of mother.

Or maybe, an unacknowledged type of mother. A mother who shares custody of her child or children.

This is a woman who has lost her dream.

Most likely, divorced or separated from the man she had dreamed…


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Illustration by Leen

As I sketched this image at the dining room table, the early Minnesota winter evening light fading quickly, my 5 year old son (chewing his chicken nuggets) glanced over and asked what I was drawing.

“Churches.” I said.

“Oh. Yeah! That’s a lot of churches.” He said.

“Do you know what’s kind of interesting?” I asked him. “There are so many churches in the world, and they are all saying the same thing.”

“What do they say?” He asked.

“WE ARE BELIEVING THE RIGHT WAY!” I squawked, dramatically waving my arms for attention.

He giggled, and nuggets disappeared.

In the…

Leen

Agnostic. Cancer survivor. Divorce survivor. Proud single mom. Freelance designer + illustrator. Stubborn optimist. Finding my new path.

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