What Happened to Being “In This Together?”

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When the COVID-19 pandemic reached U.S. soil, the phrase, “We’re all in this together” sprung up across the nation.

As we made radical adjustments to our way of life, the statement somehow brought us comfort. It reminded us that we were not alone. It bonded us together in a fight against a common enemy. It helped us cope with a scenario none of us had ever imagined.

We hunkered down, joined forces, and knocked this insidious illness in the jaw. We saw the fruits of our sacrifices as we “flattened the curve.”

But sometime between that initial state of solidarity and now, something changed. The novelty wore off. The economic impact became more devastating daily, and we ached to return to our “normal” lives.

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No one wants to be me.

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“You are living a woman’s worst nightmare.”

“No one wants to be you.”

These statements clustered like barnacles in the back of my mind, their sharp edges piercing my self-worth.

Of course, no one had said these things to my face. But the words were a composite of input from myriad sources . . . movies and tv, social media, books, work interactions, family conversations, even Christian circles. Sometimes the message had been subtle, and other times . . . not so much.

Before you protest such alarming self-talk, let’s look at the facts:

I have never been married.

I will never have any biological children or grandchildren.

I live a celibate life.

Can you honestly say this is or was your life goal, or something you pray for others (especially if you have a daughter)?

I didn’t think so.

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Some day my prince will come

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I confess, I watched it. I turned on the TV in the wee hours of May 19, 2018 just in time to see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle kneeling at the altar in Saint George’s Chapel. The sight of Meghan, her ethereal silk veil stretching sixteen feet behind her literally took my breath away.

Later, I watched the entire recording of the wedding, captivated by every nuance. I wasn’t alone, as an estimated two billion people around the world tuned in to catch a glimpse of the American “commoner” marrying her handsome British prince.

The love story of Meghan and Harry (now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex) breathes life into a classic song from the Disney movie, Snow White:

Some day my prince will come
Some day we’ll meet again
And away to his castle we’ll go,
To be happy forever I know. [1]

The tune, originally released in 1937, is so popular it was ranked the 19th greatest film song of all time by the American Film Institute in 2004. [2]  Perhaps one reason is because the lyrics appeal to the deep desire that most women (and men) have to find their perfect soulmates and live “happily ever after.”

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming of Mr. or Mrs. Right. We are all wired with the need for companionship and intimacy . . . and marriage is a sacred union ordained by God.

Unfortunately, real life isn’t a fairy tale.

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Ambushed by aging

retail-store-metal-mirror-and-footrest2[1]It happened in front of one of those unforgiving, full-length mirrors.

I had stepped into mom’s adjoining dressing room so we could show one another the clothes we were trying on.  Instinctively, I reached out to smooth the white blouse on my mother’s slightly stooped back.

I was in my thirties, and she was in her seventies.  We stood side-by-side, looking at our reflections.  I think that’s when it hit her . . . hard.

At home I noticed a tear trailing down her cheek.  Alarmed, I asked her what was wrong.  Continue reading

Are you ready for Christmas?

unwanted-christmas-presents-ebay-sell-gumtree[1]

The calendar had barely flipped past November when I started getting the question.

“Are you ready for Christmas?”

Translation:  “Do you have all your Christmas presents purchased and wrapped, your house impeccably decorated, 100 Christmas cards sent, dozens of cookies baked from scratch, and holiday family gathering plans finalized?”

My typical response is, “Uh . . . not yet, but I’m working on it.”

What they don’t see, is that under my ugly Christmas sweater, I’ve broken out in red and green hives. Just thinking about the expectations behind the inquiry stresses me out.

One of my coworkers, however, doesn’t let it phase him.

It was only a few days into December when someone lobbed the question to him during a staff meeting. Without losing a beat, he responded: “YES, I am ready for Christmas.”

At first, we didn’t know whether to be impressed or jealous. But then he left everyone speechless when he stated matter-of-factly, “I’m ready because I have purchased zero presents and that is exactly the number I plan to buy.”

Inwardly I applauded his audacity for bucking the system.

“How nice it would be if ‘being ready’ didn’t equate to running about in a frenzy for a month and going into credit card debt,” I thought.

Then one day, I was poring over my mile-long holiday “to-do” list and flipped on the radio for some background music. As I numbly hummed along to “Joy to the World,” a phrase suddenly broke through and hit me between the eyes: Continue reading