Dear Family and Friends

I remember the year Santa left me a Lion King toy. It was 1994, I was six years old, and my brother and I were spending Christmas Eve at our dad’s. Before we went to bed, my brother gestured toward the window and said, “Did you see that? The red dot flying over? Had to be Rudolph’s nose.”

My brother—eight years my senior—knew who Santa was. But that year, he let me believe. He made sure I went to bed with an eager heart so that, when I woke, raced to the living room, and saw a three-foot-long stuffed Mufusa, I’d think magic was possible. 

Now that I’m older, I have items like dish rags and socks on my wish list. I still think magic exists, however. I am of the opinion that it is what makes wi-fi work. I also think it’s in the sparkle of winter frost, and in my 14-month-old nephew’s laughter. And I’m pretty sure it’s behind those moments when you can’t stop smiling, hugging, and thanking the heavens.

When it comes to 2016, there are a few moments I would label “magical.” Like when Ty and I traveled to Colorado, for instance. Standing atop the mountains, breathing in the crisp air? Enchanting. This also was the year I ran my first 10K, as well as two half-marathons. Running in the pouring rain—and knowing Ty was at the finish line—was exhilarating. The most heartfelt moment of 2016? Having my nephew tell me, clear as day, “Goodnight.”

That said, this year has had its challenges. We all know the election has been … the election. And, as you probably know, I’ve been fighting depression and anxiety for the last couple of years. However, I did find a therapist whom I trust, respect, and adore. She’s been helping me understand myself, accept myself, love myself. Not an easy journey. But when I’m feeling low, I’ll generally go for a walk. (And by “go for a walk,” I mean, “end up sitting cross-legged in the middle of the sidewalk, a stray cat in my lap.”)

What’s gotten me through my darkest days are the little things—a goofy animal photo from a friend, a compliment from a stranger. Lately, though, I’ve been gazing at my Christmas tree, filled with childlike content. Because even though 2016 has beaten me down at times, life is … good. Weird, but good. This is the year I performed my first stand-up routine, started eating pistachios, and stopped wearing bras.

Undergarments aside, I’m looking forward to spending time with family, friends, and Ty, who has been my better three-quarters for more than three years. And while I don’t expect Santa to make an appearance at this year’s celebrations, I fully believe there still will be laughter, surprises, and, yes, magic. And I hope, sincerely, that your Christmas is filled with it, too.

Merry Christmas,

Fifth Annual Ornament Swap

What the what. It's November already. How. Why. When.

Anyway, all y'all know what that means: It's time for the fifth annual ornament swap!

For the uninitiated, the swap is an international event in which two people trade holiday ornaments through the mail. Anyone can join (my mom even participates)! "Swappers" from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, Trinidad, Spain, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, and Romania have all participated, and you will be partnered with someone who shares your shipping preferences (domestic vs. international).

As for the ornaments themselves? They can be handmade, store-bought, vintage, crafted, or nontraditional, but they shouldn't cost more than $10-$12. If you are looking for ideas on what to send your partner, check out the 20122013, and 2014 ornament showcases! (Sorry I'm lame and never got around to making one last year.)


1. Email with the subject line ORNAMENT SWAP.

2. Include your name and postal address.

3. Include your shipping preference (international or domestic).

4. The deadline to sign up is Nov. 15! 

5. Encourage others to sign up by using the hashtag #ornamentswaparoo! 

Periods for Pence

Let's talk about the elephant in the womb. Yesterday afternoon, I stood on the Statehouse lawn, one of thousands of voices chanting, "My body, my choice! My body, my choice! My body, my choice!" I was shoulder-to-shoulder with the daughters, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, cousins, brothers, sons, fathers, and grandfathers of Indiana. And, together, we protested HEA 1337 and rallied for women's rights. 

Because women should not have to fight for control over their own bodies with politicians. Because a woman should be able to discuss every option with her doctor. Because a mother should be able to choose what is best for her child, her family, and herself. Because the state should not force parents to take care of a child with genetic defects and not bother to provide them with resources and funding. Because doctors should not be subject to wrongful death suits. Because a woman should not be persecuted if she miscarries. Because … because a lot of things. Viva la vulva. 

Here is coverage about yesterday's rally. And here. And also here. To learn more about HEA 1337, have a look at the digest on the Indiana General Assembly's website. I also recommend browsing NUVO's social justice articles. And please read this Washington Post editorial, written by an Indianapolis obstetrician, and this story about Dr. Willie Parker, who provides, under restrictive conditions, abortions in Mississippi. Oh. And be sure to check out the Periods for Pence Facebook page, too, and call the governor's office

Dear Family and Friends

The first Christmas I remember is the year I turned four. At the time, my mom, brother, and I were living in a yellow house with French doors and—of all things—a carpeted kitchen. Ever the insomniac, I crept out of my room sometime after midnight and discovered a mound of aggressively pink Barbie accessories. And to tell you the truth, I loved them. I loved them hard. 

I don’t expect dolls this year. In fact, I don’t expect anything. It’s been more than two decades since “the year Santa brought me the Barbie pool,” so I’ve had time to learn that Christmas is less about getting and more about giving—about sharing love, time, effort, a kind word. It’s about selflessness, and about spending time with those whom you love. And, as we all know, it’s a celebration.

I’ve had “Birthday Party of the King” stuck in my head for a few days now, and I was humming it earlier, when I tested strands of lights and consequently glared at the ones that didn’t work. That aside, there’s a lot to be grateful for. At this time last year, I had already slipped into what would be a year-long depression. As you may know, I took a six-month leave of absence from my job at the state. Things were just too much, and I resigned in June.

In July, I started writing for Pivot Marketing (whose office is a ten-minute walk from my apartment). Getting used to “#agencylife” has had its challenges, but I love it. I’m so thankful that my boss is understanding, flexible, and encouraging. In the few months I’ve been there, I’ve written newsletters, blog posts, NPR radio scripts, ad copy, web copy, and video scripts. My clients include an architectural firm, a Jewish nursing home, an Episcopalian church, and a Lafayette-based law firm that gives me an excuse to swing by Purdue. 

Outside of work, I’m involved in a few preservation groups. I’m actually a board member for a non-profit that is trying to revitalize a historic theater that’s been vacant for 20 years. This means I attend meetings, listen to folks talk about tax credits, and then find a way to insert a joke about cats. I’m also involved in the Instagram community here in Indianapolis; I help plan monthly “Instameets” (photo walks) and help manage the account. It may sound trite, but I am thankful for Instagram, too. The heartfelt conversations that resulted from starting #depressionisalyingbastard helped me fight through an incredibly challenging time.

Things are better now. I laugh. I eat. I put on pants before 4:00 in the afternoon. I’m still head-over-heels for Ty, who’s been my “other,” my better three-quarters, for more than two years. And I’m madly in love with my brother’s son, Max, named for our grandfather. He was born in October, nine months after my brother told me, “You need to get your shit together, because you’re going to be an aunt.”

And I did, just in time. After months of desolation, I find that I’m filled with love—for my family, my friends, my “other.” I couldn’t have gotten through this last year without them, without you. So thank you, too. For your patience, support, and understanding. Thank you. I wish you the happiest and merriest of Christmases. May every strand of lights you own work, and may your days be filled with the things you love. 

Merry Christmas,

A Thank-You & A Holiday Giveaway

photo by Paul Itkin

It's a snowy day here in Indianapolis, our first of the season. The flakes are colossal, falling hard and falling thick.

It's beautiful.

Ty is here this weekend, down from Chicago (which is set to get several inches of snow). We're having a lazy day: pot roast in the crock pot, NPR podcasts, Christmas movies. There's a good chance we'll put up the tree, too.

I'm also excited for the ornament swap. This year, 115 individuals signed up, making it the most successful swap to date! Thank you, thank you, thank you. To show my gratitude, I am hosting a handmade holiday-themed giveaway!

Here's what you can win: 

a How the Grinch Stole Christmas! magnet 
12 gift tag stickers from Pearl & Marmalade 
a sweet, hand-stitched T-rex ornament from World Finds 
coconut oil popcorn from gourmet popcorn store Just Pop In 
10 peppermint chocolate chip marshmallow puffs from 240sweet
sensual, handmade ginger souffle soap from Get Lathered Soap Company
a variety of handmade cards & stationery (featuring Kate Funk and Green Bird Press

The items in this giveaway were purchased from either Global Gifts, a fair trade store, or Homespun, a shop and workshop devoted to contemporary handmade goods. Along with the items above, I'll throw in a few surprises! Good luck, and have a happy weekend!

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