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Human Parts
A publication about humanity from Medium: yours, mine, and ours.

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This Is Us

When the tide recedes, the ruins, the rocks, and the pearls are revealed

A photo of a man standing in a sphere desert.
A photo of a man standing in a sphere desert.

One day at the Oregon beach, the kids were small, and we were flying kites while the dog chased seagull shadows along the sand. The sun was shining. Suddenly, a siren began to wail, screaming along the entire beach. The tsunami siren.

A clammy, cold tremble ricocheted through my body, a jolt of existential fear in the midst of this great expanse of sea and sand and sun, laughter still echoing in my ears. I scooped up my two kids and screamed at my husband to leave, we have to leave, now. No, forget your stuff, forget the filled fridge…


On honoring your own feelings rather than society’s expectations

My fingers were flying across my keyboard late one night after my husband and I split, hoping Google would be able to validate my seemingly tactless behavior. I searched “My husband is great and I left him,” “I left a good man, now what?,” “Am I making a mistake for leaving a good man?,” and “Why did I leave a good man?”

My eyes darted across the screen every time I pressed “enter” looking for someone — anyone — who could reassure me I wasn’t making a huge mistake. As it turns out, there aren’t a lot of childless thirtysomething…


The real curse is believing we are powerless to break these familial patterns

In Exodus 34:7, we hear about the God of the Bible “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” From this passage has derived the notion of generational curses; the concept of pathological dysfunction as spiritual punishment. Modern adaptations of this idea speak to the cyclical nature of unhealthy family pathologies, citing things like poor health, illiteracy, sexual violence, and poverty as examples of these transmissible misfortunes.

But how much of our personal dysfunction is compounded by our decisions, as opposed to shaped by our ancestry…


On the impermanence of home, and what happens when we lose it

“Seeking to forget makes exile all the longer; the secret of redemption lies in remembrance.” — Richard von Weizsäcker

In 2016, I sold my dream house within a month of my divorce. How lucky to have lived in a “dream house,” and how unlucky to have the marriage and family come to an end.

Actually, it’s hyperbole and a bit of a misnomer to say it was unlucky to sell the house. It was prudent to sell the house, both financially and physically. (The yard itself was almost an acre. I had to ride a tractor to mow it. …


How I ditched my attitude to appreciate tradition

I tried to talk her out of it.

“Weddings are a waste of money,” I said. “Why don’t you just elope?”

As a future mother of the bride, I sucked. I was supposed to get all teary-eyed at the thought of my daughter donning a white dress to walk down an aisle. Instead, I gave the impression my thoughts were focused on the bottom line. But what we talk about when we talk about money and weddings is so much more than dollar signs.

So yes, the expense of a wedding bugged me. But what bothered me more was the…


On liminal spaces and finding comfort in the not knowing

Working in death, dying, and grief, I become acquainted with many ideas that seem strange or unbelievable to some people. I give my attention and even belief to what others tell me about the ways this earthly life might intersect with the next.

One of these concepts is thin places — geographical places on Earth where the veil is thin between this world and the eternal. In these spaces, people feel uncomfortable, confounded, greatly peaceful, or awed because they experience something mysterious and holy.

I’ve come to believe that thin places are not just geographic locations, but also places in…


A true story

I was a story once. I wrote words like I was born with enough for each cell in my body and when my words spoke they wanted you to take a chair and sit with them. They even put the music on.

I was a story once. Something that hid within your heart and waited for the hand that would reach it and guide it into the world. Showing you there was at least one more person who felt the same.

I was a story once. Like a smart quip but longer. Where the punchline came just at…


Imagine an introduction on your favorite morning news show: Something traumatic and life-changing happens to a person. But despite all odds, they rebound, finding success, happiness, and growth. The YouTube video spreads like wildfire, littering your Facebook and Twitter feeds. A tear. A thumbs up. Goosebumps! It’s the perfect recipe for a human interest segment. But are these inspirational stories really against all odds? Or are they just human? And what if it happens more than we realize?

Recently, I have started hearing the word “inspiration” to describe the way I have adapted to life with chronic illness and disability…

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