Good Enough


It seems that someone (who I suspect shares a large portion of my DNA) recently reminded my grandmother that I have a blog.

I say “reminded” because she definitely knew at one point, but apparently she forgot and stopped reading. I know someone reminded her because she’s been in the hospital, and when I called her to check on her earlier this week, she said, “I just heard that you are writing and when I get out of here I’m going to go home and read all about you on the internet!”

My first thought was, “Dammit, Jan!” which is a phrase we use in our house that basically means, “I can’t believe I got myself into this mess and now I have to deal with it,” and actually has nothing to do with a wonderful woman we all know in real life whose name is Jan. Just trust me when I tell you that’s the short explanation.

All that to say, I felt slightly uncertain of what to do, because my blog isn’t really grandmother appropriate. I mean, it certainly could be worse. I could be blogging about my side job on the stripper pole. I’m not. I’m writing about my life.

thinkstockphotos-606675604And although my expensive college education didn’t teach me helpful things like how to change my car oil, I did learn that you can write about anything, and get away with any language or uncomfortable topics, if you are good enough.

But, of course, that means you have to be good enough.

And so, since I am an anxiety-prone individual, my immediate concern of my grandma-appropriateness quickly spiraled outward to the worthiness of the whole enterprise of me blogging. Is this okay? Am I okay? Am I doing something worthwhile? Am I doing a good job?

This week I went to visit a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and her young daughter put on a comedy show for me. It was as awesome as it sounds. (Why do golfers wear two pairs of pants? … In case they get a hole in one!) After the show, my friend said to her daughter, “I think maybe I should send you to theater camp next summer.”

The little girl smiled quickly, but then in the space of a second her face changed to uncertainty. “Do you think I’d be good enough?” she asked her mother.

Oh man. We learn so young to question ourselves. To doubt that we can measure up. To say, “Should I even do this if I can’t do a good job?”

I know I’ve written about this before, but it’s worth coming back to.

You don’t have to be good enough. You just have to do it. You just have to start. To try. To step forward. No matter who is in the audience, and no matter what you think they may think.

Don’t let the people watching decide what you’re “good enough” to do. 

I will continue my grandma-inappropriate blog. Because “good enough” does not control me.


A Legacy

My first pixie haircut, clearly approved by my grandparents.

My grandmother is 93 years and 1 day old today.

I’m not one of those millennials who thinks they’ll never be 40, or that 40 is “old,” thereby making everyone over 40 feel like a relic.

In fact, I don’t even think of 93 as old. But when I think about my grandmother being alive for 93 years and 1 day, I think, “That’s just a lot of life.”

I have trouble imagining having lived that much life.

This week, I showed someone a picture that was taken when I was in high school. I had to point to my 16 year old self and say, “That’s me with long hair.” Me with long hair feels like another person, a completely different life. And yet, that was only 12 years ago. How many lives has my grandmother lived?

Sometimes when I visit her, I ask her to tell me stories. She’s told me about jumping over a rattlesnake when she was a child and about not telling her boss she was pregnant because he would have fired her on the spot. She’s told me quite a few stories, almost always at my urging. But I will never be able to hear about her whole life. I will never know exactly what she did in all the little moments, the inconsequential-feeling pieces of her life. There are just too many. In fact, she can’t even remember them all, and her memory is just as good as mine!

But I think back on some of my memories of my grandmother.

She raked leaves into huge piles simply so I could jump in them, raking again and again as I flattened the piles out.

She made me sandwiches and sent me into the woods to eat them, saying, “It’s too pretty out there to eat in here!”

She rushed to help me when I fell off my bike, her calm and steady hands wiping blood away from my wounds.

What to her were just little pieces of everyday life are to me memories of the sweet, patient, kind, strong woman she has always been.

We learn who people are by the way they live the everyday things, more than by how they react to the big moments.


And so, as I reflect on my own 28 years and 8 months and 1 day of life, I want to be more like my namesake: living consistently and patiently in the little, everyday moments. I will never remember all the pieces of life I have lived, even if I only live another year. But I can look back on my whole life and remember how I lived. And hopefully others will, too.


To Kylie, c/o God


Dear Kermit,

I wish you were here…

to help our friends grieve.

to sit with my mother while she cries.

to see people show up from all over the world to honor you.

to mock the music they played at your funeral.

I wish you were here…

to see your brother come to church.

to hold your niece’s hand, tell your sister you forgive her, show your brother how proud you are of him, and roll your eyes at your dad.

to hold and admire our friend’s new baby, making this new mother feel confident and comfortable and loved.

to read to the kids and enthrall them with crafts, even while I selfishly enjoy that they are sitting on my lap in your absence.

I wish you were here…

to say, “Ashes, let’s go do something.”

to hike through the woods with me and curse like a sailor at your mortal enemy, the woodchuck.

47124_490650099781_4193999_nto tell your side of stories – like hiking a volcano in New Mexico, camping in a sandstorm in Michigan, and having a kid jump on your Jeep in Virginia Beach.

to say exactly how much you hate something, reveling in the awkward moments afterward.

to come find me in a corner and make me laugh when I’m trying to hide from a crowd.

I wish you were here…

to model adulthood for me, beyond the age of 38.

to ask me questions that help me understand myself.

to exasperate me as you do everything 10% better and faster than I do.

to talk about other cultures, other countries, and other decades, starting every story, “The other day…”

to find Jesus in every single topic, even outhouses and origami.

I wish you were here…

to know just how much you changed everyone’s lives around you.

I will wish you were here for the rest of my life. 

But I would never wish that for you.

So to echo your exasperated youth group wisdom, I’ll just say this: “Say hello to Jesus for me!”

Love, your Toadie