Posts from the Change Category

by Jill Greenwood

Years ago – 1992 to be exact – I graduated from college with a degree in professional writing. Back then professional writing encompassed all the components of technical writing and was pretty much as dry and boring as it sounds. For a while after the girls were born, I did a bit of freelance work, creating newsletters for a few alumni groups in my area and the occasional editing job for some articles. I thought for a while about applying to work at our local newspaper, but after looking over the front pages, it was clear they needed an editor and not another reporter. By then, the girls were getting older and in school, and I decided to go back to school and become a teacher. Writing, it seemed, was going to take a back seat to education, but as luck would have it, I channeled my efforts towards becoming a middle school English teacher. Even though I get to pass on my love of writing to seventh graders who, let’s face it, probably don’t love it quite as much as I do, I still don’t get to write very creatively. Blogging allows me to write from a personal point of view but not creatively.


About three or four years ago, I was struck by how each of Laura’s street photos formed an almost perfect story. She had the ability to hone in on something special with the people she photographed. Before we really knew each other, I commented on a photo she posted on Flickr that I wanted to write a story about the image. A few weeks later, Laura tagged me in a photo and said she couldn’t wait to see what I wrote. I tried . . . so many attempts . . . but nothing ever really came of it. That nagging bit of doubt kept bubbling to the surface. You’re not a writer. Not a real one, at least. Eventually I gave in and stopped trying.

But now, there’s a change coming. Laura and I have decided to give it a whirl. She’s supplying the images, and I’m trying to do them justice with some short stories. Some of the images lend themselves to a longer narrative with characters coming and going. Others are one shot deals, nothing more than a few paragraphs to describe the scene. I’m still not convinced I’m a writer, but I’m willing to try. Come on and join us at Les Bruyants!

-Erika “starting early” Ray

My parents made sure we could handle change.  No we didn’t move a hundred times during our childhood.  They didn’t swap partners a million times either.  We were just given change and didn’t have any other choice but to accept it.  They rarely ever softened it either.  It was change.  Pure and simple.  And one occasion my parents gave me the line that literally made me accept, deal, and welcome change.

I was young, but old enough.  I was the normal sixth graders age, but almost a year younger than most.  I had a summer birthday, so I had always been the youngest and the kid who never got to celebrate her birthday at school lunch.  I remember they sat me down and explained that I was going to do sixth grade again at a different Catholic school.  WHAT?  Again.  I failed?  “No, we’re going to hold you back,” they said.  Silly parents, that’s code for failed.  That’s code for You Are Stupid.  Especially to a SIXTH grader.  Especially to all the sixth graders in my class.  How was I going to go around to each one and explain that I’m not a dumb-dumb.  That my parents truly care about my emotional maturity.  While they were giving me the “emotional maturity” speech that’s the only question I was thinking about.

I knew it wasn’t because of my grades as I was in the higher learning classes.  But I didn’t understand the maturity part.  I don’t remember not being able to handle things as well as my other classmates.  But maybe if I were more mature, I’d be able to see my flaws…  They told me, I’d be the oldest in the class.  Big deal.  They told me, I’d get my license first when I got to high school.  Who cares?  I didn’t figure my parents were going to let me joyride with “babies”.  But more importantly, I’d be able to make better tough decisions when they popped up throughout my entire life.  I’d be older and wiser.  Even at my young age, I didn’t figure a slightly older 15 year-old’s dumbass decision was any better than a younger 15 year-old’s decision.

I heard them, but didn’t understand.  Imagine telling your 11-year-old girl, “You’re doing 6th grade again.  At a new school.”  I’m guessing even in your imagination, someone flipped out on you.  Maybe even tossed a shoe (I didn’t).  Now imagine that you live in a small town and you’re in Catholic school.  That there are three Catholic schools, you’re at your second one (my parents hated the first one and we were only there a year), and you’ll start the third a year behind your friends.  Catholic school are incestuous.  Everyone knew everyone and you saw everyone on the bus, at sporting events, and fish fry’s.  Me being an older sixth grader wasn’t going to make me more mature.  Dealing with that fall-out of being held back in this small fish bowl would.  I’d have to accept it and deal with it.  Because as a 11-year-old, there would be fall-out my parents wouldn’t have to deal with.  Of course I cried and didn’t get it, but there was no talking them out of it.

They ended the conversation with:  Erika, life is about change.  The sooner you learn how to handle it the easier your life will be.

Yes, wise words.  Words I haven’t forgotten.  Words that some people would read as harsh and absolutely were for a young girl to hear.  But they’re true.  Truth is rarely fluffy and pretty.  Truth is raw.  Like change, it is what it is.  You can’t sugar-coat change with white lies.  The truth of change was given to me early and that was probably better for my emotional maturity than learning about pre-Algebra again.

I started sixth grade again in the Fall.  I had a few asshole boys ask why I was still in the sixth grade.  I told them about emotional maturity and they said, “So you’re stupid?”  I’m not sure if this is when my “I Could Give a Fuck” attitude popped up or when my Father’s “I Could Give a Fuck About Your Opinion” gene switched on.  I didn’t say “Hi” to my old friends because I didn’t want to discuss it.  I remember my Mom saying, “Oh there’s so-and-so.  Say hi.  Erika, say HI!”  I didn’t.  I couldn’t.  But in the new school, I developed close friendships and very quickly it didn’t matter.

I can’t say if I handled my adolescence better because I was older than most kids.  I think my parents’ guidance, rules, and love helped me handle things better.  But what do I know?  I was just a baby of a sixth grader…  My parents made that decisions for a child who already had a healthy self-esteem.  I’m not sure most kids would react the same.  I’m not sure most kids would say it was the best decision their parents made.  Maybe my parents knew I’d handle it well or maybe they just hoped for the best.  For them it turned out well and taught their daughter a valuable lesson.  Would I recommend holding back a sixth grader?  Depends on the kid and probably not.  Now it would be incredibly difficult for a child as the internet allows for less privacy.  But I am a strong supporter of starting kids later.  Being older can’t hurt.  I do say that if you’re concerned, do it sooner than the sixth grade.

But their advice on change was spot-on.  Learn to deal with it.  You don’t have to relish and celebrate every Change that comes your way.  Some changes are Assholes and Dickheads.  But change is change.  You can’t change it.  Once it rolls in, things will be different.  So learn how to deal with it.  Look it in the eye.  Say “What’s up.” And start to dance with it.  Make it love you because you have no other choice.

20130315-ELR_1353Becks is holding his daycare blanket with his home blanket.  They’ve met and it’s a huge change we’re all dealing with.  One I didn’t count on, but we’re dancing with it.  I’ve stepped on his toes a few times and he’s off beat.  But we’re shaking it down.

by Carmen Farrell

o+u change

I’m headed into a new phase.  A really exciting phase.  A phase where I focus on healing myself.

It’s been almost 20 years since I’ve felt vital and energetic.  That’s more than half my life.  20 years of extreme fatigue and exhaustion, a face full of acne, mental disturbances like anxiety and depression,  and stomach pain accompanied by horrible digestion.

It’s hard to express how horrible I felt.  And truth be told, I hid it from most people – even my family.  I was still functioning.  I got up, went to work, ran errands.  But it was a struggle.  I had no energy.  I felt like a 65 year old trapped in a 25 year old’s body.  Doctor’s weren’t helpful either.  I was told repeatedly that perhaps I just needed to exercise more, or was blown off and made to feel like a hypochondriac.

Then I started having babies, and strangely, my symptoms went into remission while pregnant.  Once the baby arrived they’d come back but were masked by the exhaustion of parenting a newborn and then a toddler, and then another, and another.  About 6 years ago, after consulting with a naturopath, I found out that I was allergic to gluten – which was a life changer.  I started to cut back on gluten and immediately felt a difference in my energy levels.  But I also started to feel a lot of shame.  I could not stay away from gluten completely.  It was like a drug.  I could go a few days, start to feel fantastic, and then not be able to control myself and gorge (sometimes in secret).  It was a vicious cycle.  I felt like I knew what I had to do to start getting better, but didn’t have the willpower.

So things are changing and I’m finally feeling in control.  Firstly, my youngest is 3 and a half.  I no longer have a baby who’s completely dependant on me.  He’s still a little guy, but I have a lot more freedom since he has 2 big brothers who help him out when he needs it and entertain him when he’s bored.  I’m not  always needed.  Which has given me more time to focus on myself.

Secondly, I’ve put more pieces of the puzzle together.  Turns out, I have an autoimmune condition – which one isn’t clear yet – but my symptoms are very much like those associated with lupus.   I also have leaky gut which means that my digestive tract is badly damaged and is allowing foreign substances into my bloodstream and causing inflammation.  Inflammation = real bad news.

So, armed with more time for myself and new information regarding what needs to be “fixed”, the changes are a-coming!

I recently completed a Whole 30 which allowed me to reset my body’s cravings for the crap that has made me sick.  I’m eating paleo which means no grains, legumes, dairy or processed foods.  It means a lot of cooking and prep.  It means bringing my own snacks when heading to a friend’s house to hang out.  It means limiting some of what my kids eat so that I can keep the house a “temptation-free” zone.  All these things may sound restricting, but in actuality, I’m feeling an incredible sense of freedom.  I’m eating an insane amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of yummy meat and tons of good fat.   My face is clearing up, I’m digesting better and my vitality is returning in full force.   Plus I’m not a raging bitch most of the time.  Win!

I remember the day I turned 30.  I was having a conversation with friends wherein I mentioned that I felt shitty a lot of the time (hello, newborn and undiagnosed medical problems) and that my goal was to feel and look amazing by my 40th birthday.  I wanted to enter into that new phase of my life with a new-found love for myself, my body and my strength.

That birthday is still 3 years away, and I’m positive that I’m going to get there, and then some.


By Jill Greenwood

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love music. With a passion. Like lots and lots and lots. That being said, I kinda suck at the lyrics. For the longest time, I thought that the final line of David Bowie’s “Changes” was “But I can’t change time;” turns out I was wrong . . . and really, I like my lyrics better than Bowie’s. Far be it from me to think that I’m a better lyricist than the Thin White Duke, but what the hell does tracing time even mean? Anyone? Thought so.

So what does this have to do with change? Not much other than every time someone says anything about change, I start to hum the song. We generally toss around our topics on a Facebook group that we started a while ago. Most times they are the result of the season, but this time it seemed that many of us were in a state of change. Me? Nothing major because I avoid change at all cost. Case in point: Friday nights. We’ve been having pizza every Friday night since we moved to the ‘Burg. And not just pizza. Frozen pizza. From a local grocery store. If we don’t have it, something is off for that week. Slightly obsessive-compulsive, but there you have it . . . frozen pizza, every Friday night from Weis.


Change – not something I like. I think I would even go so far as to say that I shy away from from it. But that all changed on January 28 this year because Dave and I decided to adopt a puppy. For some reason, it seemed like a good idea. After six weeks of having the lovely Lucy in our lives, I’d have to say that it was still a good idea, but fuck . . . I’m too old for a puppy. It’s like having another baby after raising two grown children. Am I equating having a puppy is exactly like having a baby? God, lord, no! I laugh when I hear couples say, “Well, first we’re going to start with a puppy because that will give us a good idea what raising a child will be like.” Ummm, no it won’t, dipshits. It will give you a good idea what raising a puppy will be be like. Because trust me, when your own spawn eats its shit, you might stop him or her faster than your puppy. At least for your child’s sake, I’d hope you do.

Back to the decision to adopt a puppy. The one change that I knew – knew – we had to make was training. With Livie, our first dog, we didn’t really do any training because I was lazy (but you figured that, right). She was sweet, good tempered. But ring a doorbell, and she would bark. My mom would get pissed because she couldn’t sit with a biscuit on her nose like my childhood dog. Granted, that was something to see, but then again, Livie never ate a) a 10-pound rump roast; b) $40 worth of fundraiser chocolate, or c) pounds of crayons either; and, yes, Schatzie, the childhood Lab, did that and more. I’m firmly convinced it was because of the endless biscuits on her nose. Puppy 2.0 was going to be trained. That change was a huge one for me because it means constant reinforcement of good habits and redirection for the bad habits. Trust me when I say that it would be a whole lot simpler to let Lucy jump up to say her hellos when you walk in the door rather than gently push her down and say, “Off.” Right now, she’s adorable and cute when she does it. But come three years down the road, I’m pretty sure that she’ll just be an annoyance with it.


There’s other change brewing in Chez Greenwood. My girls are graduating from college in a few months, and I have no idea what comes next for them. I’ve branched out and started reading good and proper grown-up novels (not giving up on YA though). We are finally joining the 20th century and will luxuriate in central air this summer. See? Going to Crazy Town with all this change. Maybe I won’t have frozen pizza tonight . . . who the hell am I kidding . . . that would be beyond crazy.

Spill it, people! If change scares you as much as it does me, what change do you think would be totally worth it? Pretend money and time are out of the equation . . . what change would you make right now if you could? I’ll mull them over with my third slice of Weis Magic Crust Frozen Pizza.

-Erika “Who the Hell is this” Ray


Hello, O+U readers, it’s me Erika.  I’m afraid to go back and see the last time I posted because I know it was forever ago.  Like last year kind of forever.  I had to take a break and I think you’ll understand.  If not, you just being a cheeky little asshole.

My husband says that I have a tendency to snowball my issues.  I’ll take a tiny bump and then lump every annoyance in with it.  Creating a Snowball of Doom.  I’ll save the hassle of recreating that Snowball for you.  Just know that it starts with Moving.  Has some huge photo projects and the holidays surrounding the Move.  Packed down with the stress of owning your first home while paying on the second.  And then to round out and create a killer Snowball of Doom, you’ve got a Layoff and a house deal that almost went south.  Yes, I’ve been  dealing with an asshole of a Snowball.

But it’s starting to feel better.  The Snowball of Doom is starting to melt.  Or else I’m just sick of standing in its shadow.  Change is coming.  Another O+U-er and I were exchanging texts after the House meltdown and we thought Change would be a great subject for this month.

Some people handle it really well and others quake in its presence.  I’m in the first category.  That doesn’t mean all this change is welcomed or refreshing.  Change can kind of suck a fat one.  But you rarely get the chance to change Change.  You have to accept it and roll with it.  Dance with the little fucker or else you’ll wither on the wall.  It’s my turn to dance.  Later on in the month, I’ll talk about my first two-step with Change.  Today, I just wanted to apologize for my absence (did y’all care and miss me?) and announce the topic.

Because I’m in a flux of change, I’d really appreciate lots of comments on how you deal with it.  Do it all month-long and I’ll promise to be better about posting.  Give me some advice.  Some guidance.  Hold my hand.  Or bring me a drink.