You're a military wife now.

This is what my therapist says somewhere in the middle of our first session together.

Military. Wife.

This should be an obvious statement, but the way it struck me and how it continues to echo around inside my head highlights my resistance to the label. Military wife. 

"I want to be brave," says my daughter

It's the first thing she says when I ask her about what kind of adult she wants to be. Also: "a good job, a nice home, and two best friends—one of whom I've known since high school." A pretty solid list, especially at fourteen.

"Bravery is something you can learn," I tell her, "like any other skill."

Arriving at joy

I was 28 and desperately in love; but the relationship was tearing me apart and I couldn’t figure out if I should stay or if I should go. Therapy, religion, my mother—someone needed to give me some answers.

I knew I was unhappy; but would I be happy in the future if I stuck it out or if I pulled chocks and started over with someone new?

There’s a story I remember hearing around that time about happiness or joy.

The Things That Birds Evolved From

"What's the most important moment of your life?" I say and my son rolls his eyes. "Gastrulation!"

His mom is pregnant and so we've been talking a lot about where babies come from. Revision: He is a nine year old boy, so we've been talking about everything. 

What school do astronauts go to? How many days does it take for Komodo Dragon venom to kill you? When did Tyrannosaurs Rex live?

Redefining empathy and sympathy, so we may actually do good

Having coffee with my friend, we looked out at the street, busy with cars hustling their passengers to work in the early light of morning—and tried to imagine a car wreck.

“Who is best able to respond?” we mused. “The empathetic bystander or the sympathetic one?” Is there even a difference between the two?

Of colons and men; and learning by contrast

When my husband sends me a Google calendar invite for Colonoscopy @ Thu Apr 12, I shrug and accept.

"What did you do, book us the Couple's Colonoscopy Suite?" I say. "I'm imagining luxurious sheets, our tables side-by-side, the scent of lavender."

"I knew you were going to give me a hard time about that one," he says. 

Walls: how kids know we love them enough

Why set firm boundaries for your kids?

A friend described it this way: that our job as parents is to create these strong walls around our kids. Our kids will push up against them to test, Do you love me enough? Do you love me enough to hold this wall for me? 

What many parents of teenagers see as frustrating acts of rebellion, my friend sees as a yearning for love. So beautiful.

On: Embarrassment and regret

We all know that feeling: the one where you're in the car driving home and all you can think about is that stupid thing you did. Or the thing you shared about yourself that you probably shouldn't have shared.

Junior high: one long trove of, Oh god, why did I do that? 

How to swim

My sister casually picked up a dark blue book from 1940, The Bluejackets' Manual, from a shelf at the antiques store. The page that caught my attention [is] from a chapter entitled "How to Swim", one of fifty-nine chapter in this exhaustive resource covering everything from the semaphore alphabet, to photos of what one's hammock and other belongings should look like when laid out for inspection, to the basics on ship weapons, to opinions on leadership and morality.

I want to talk about women in spandex.

Does this kit make me look fat? 

Do you remember a few years ago when triathlete.com held a contest where our community voted on who, among photos submitted by fellow triathletes, had the best body? The magazine wrote:

Triathletes love showing off the bodies they work so hard to achieve. We’re touting the best bodies in the sport—and the hard work that goes in to creating them . . .

The city after dark

"What's that?" my husband said. Even in the dim streetlights, I could clearly see what he was pointing at: a big gob of spit on the driver-side window of my car, which had oozed down all the way into the door handle I would now have to open.