She was way cooler than me.  She was….I hate the word was.  I hate thinking of her in past tense. I hate the term RIP, because it makes me feel like she is asleep and I can’t wake her up.  I won’t utter the acronym for fear that I am somehow admitting that I don’t get to see her anymore because she is resting forever.  I want her to get up now.  I want to hear her laugh. But, I do hear it. I can hear it right now.  She was amazing at talking and laughing at the same time.  Some of her best material was a mix of the two.  Was. There is that damn word again.

March introduced to me a whole new vocabulary.  Carona, Covid, Social Distancing, Glioblastoma Multiform. The virus and all of its sinister nomenclature has felt utterly secondary to what happened to Lauren.  A nap, ended in a stroke, which revealed  a tumor that would take her life within three months. No mask or hand washing or social distance could stop it.

At first, we all wanted her to fight. I even posted boxing allegories on her caring bridge site.

In the RED Corner:  The Intruder…a tumor from hell that landed a non-lethal but devastating blow in round one! 

In the GOLD Corner: Wearing a savage open faced hospital gown, floral tats and a bad ass new hair cut, is the legend, the icon, the soon to be champion, Lauren Libby.  She is not alone in her fight, having assembled one of the greatest teams of coaches and trainers we have seen to date, to support her as she begins Round Two.  She has already impressed the judges with her courage, perseverance, and ability to rise up to the challenge of her rival. 

Keep fighting the good fight Lauren. We’re in your corner.
#eyeofthetiger #GG4

Round two goes to that son of a bitch in then red corner. But our fighter is still in the ring.  She is still here. And so we go to her corner and prepare for round 3.



Still in the Gold Corner, and soon to be wearing her own clothes, is our fighter. Struck down but not destroyed, her perseverance and strength are impressing the hell out of the judges. And although they say she can’t win the fight, this fighter doesn’t do “can’t”.  So, we will come to her corner, even if we have to stand 6 feet away…


Grieving is a strange thing.  It is a composition of feelings that don’t always naturally play well together.  Certainly not in unison–like gratitude and longing, or desperation and acceptance.  So it is hard music to listen to. When you turn it down, you feel like you need to turn it back on. And when it is on, you wish it would stop.

It’s a fitting analogy since music was our favorite place to meet.

The four of us.  Glorious girlfriends forever. Her name always came first.  Lauren, Julie and Michelle.  It was never a matter of favoritism, it’s just the way it was.  She was the alpha of our foursome. The party would officially begin upon her arrival.  She made things feel wild and safe all at once.  Even though, the four of us were all so different, we were so much the same.  United by what made us laugh, what made us cry, what made us want to sing and dance and dress up and play.  We grew up shoulder to shoulder and and walked through life in full support of one another.  Even at the end. The three of us came to her side together, reminding her that we were not an “us” without her. That our collective was forged with her metal in the fire.  That what we built over 25 years would hold up forever…four walls.  We promised her that her little girl would know that her mother loved her fiercely.

I hate that she is gone & I love that we all loved each other well…all the way to the end.

Lauren forever.




Time to Open Up My Heart…Gallery That Is.

They were parents of four. He was a corporate guy. She was at home with the kids.  He had dreamed of owning a small business. She wanted to paint and make people happy. They both wanted to get off the hamster wheel. After all, they weren’t hamsters and she hated jogging. Together they decided to do life differently. She would create. He would administrate. And together they would make the Heart Gallery.


This is a speaker sheet.  a.k.a.  A shameless self promotion tool that I am using for the noble purpose of rescuing my husband from corporate America by utilizing my unique skill set to engage large collections of human beings for various lengths of time in exchange for US currency and hard laughing.

HP Speaker Sheet



Forty Things

In an effort to make sense of the passing of time, and embrace the transaction taking place of youth for wisdom, I have assembled a non-comprehensive and somewhat unoriginal list of 40 things I have learned over my forty  years.

Playing cards is more fun if you wear bright red lipstick and listen to Vicki Carr. A plate of cold cuts also improves game play–especially generic thin sliced honey ham.  Aunt Helen would typically  just throw some slices on a plate straight out of the plastic container, but I always thought that was cheating. I mean, how hard is it to roll the ham into little edible tubes? Come on Helen.

May I hon? “Hon” is the official term of endearment on my mother’s side of the family.  It also makes any plea more palpable. Try it out.

“Get that for me!” (aggressive)

“Get that for me hon!”  (adorable)

A Spotify playlist can never take the place of a solid mixed tape.  I recently discovered  a treasure trove of mixed tapes from my adolescence.  Some carefully assembled with damn near professional transitions and others taken straight from the radio, with subtle static and the occassional commercial for Summer Jam.   My husband continues to tease me about my cryptic labeling. But, I know what is on every one of those tapes.  The Duality of Man is a tape my Dad made containing benign hip hop and ganster rap. Songs I Really Like to Listen to Right Now has a whole lot of Counting Crows, U2 and Radiohead on it. Then there is my neon pink and yellow tape with the label torn off, which we all know contains radio cuts of SWV,  Mint Condition and some tracks off De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising record. The point is, my labeling system is consistent.

AlwaysNeverSometimes…Life is wrought with nuance. There are very few always and nevers, and an abundance of sometimes.  Getting rid of  “You always…” and “You never…” allows for better marital problem solving and overall relational health.

I want to see other women as my sisters and not as my competitors. I am so competition averse that I actually end up thinking everything is a competition that I must avoid.  Ironically, in that scenario, everything IS a competition. My solution? I don’t have one yet. I guess that is what the next forty years is for.

Parenting is hard, but I think that’s what I like about it. When taken seriously, it begs us to come to terms with our own short comings before they take up defensive position in our young. Love is the easy part, the existential reckoning, however, is a doozy.

“Patience is a virtue, a wait won’t hurt you. In the long run, it will serve you.” (Ladies and gentleman, the musical stylings of Soul II Soul — “Our Time Has Come”) I’m not naturally patient.  This may be, in part, why I am not a skilled house keeper.  If I have to wrestle a hanger for more than 15 seconds, that garment and its demon hanger are going to end up on the ground. Although I think I have become more patient with the humans I love, I am less patient with myself and people who drive slow in front of me.

I am only responsible for my own choices. I realize this is not a new novel idea, but those of you who know me, know this is hard for me.  Really hard.  I tend to think I am responsible for everything from poverty, to traffic, to lysteria outbreaks.  I have a fun little Junior Jesus complex, as my friend Dee calls it.  Fortunately, I am not the Messiah.  In the coming decades I am going to try and focus less on single handedly solving the crisis in Syria and start by just remembering where I put my car keys.

In an argument, the first one to the cross wins. My brother-in-law, James, is the author of this life lesson and it works. When we turn towards grace, then anger starts to morph into something more like love–more like reconciliation.  This is a marital game changer. Don’t fight to win. Fight to grow.

We bring weather with us wherever we go. Uncle Kenny shared this little gem with my daughter’s 4th grade class and it stayed with me. I am capable of producing all kinds of weather systems. I aim for sunshine, but am known to bring much rain (I am a big cryer).   Occasionally, I have dropped a fat bomb cyclone on my kids, but I really try to save that for emergencies. We can’t always bring a sunny disposition but acknowledging that our mood and emotional energy affects the people we are around is important.  If we can’t being sunshine at least we can have an umbrella handy for the people who will be in contact with our stormy moods.

Pain only knows itself.  Pain is by nature self absorbed. I am much less hard on people in general having embraced this fun fact.   It also has helped me to identify when my own pain blinds me to my affect on others. Then again, how would I know, if I am blind, who my pain might be hitting?

Music changes my mood. One way or another. I can manipulate the hell out of myself with it.

Our bodies age so that we learn to let go of the physical. I was complaining to my lovely mother about the various and sundry maladies that seem to be appearing weekly, if not daily on my personage.  My mom, who is sixty two, agrees that it can be disconcerting at times, but insists that if I see it as letting go of the physical, of the trivial, of vanity, of the shell that houses my soul, I will start to see that I am growing into eternity.  Just like I had  to get really, really pregnant and uncomfortable before I was not only wiling, but desperate to push a human being out of my body– our bodies need to decline, so our souls can grow out of them. I am exchanging my body for my eternity.  Seems like a pretty impressive exchange, except that the very concept of time and eternity makes my head want to explode…so the exchange seems mildly terrifying albeit a sweet deal.

Steeping garlic and tarragon in simmering milk and then pouring it over a bed of spring onions and crisped chunks of herbed bread and then smothering it with guerre cheese is…just….just…(insert extended guttural utterance indicating bliss here). Thanks for this Momma.

Oh, to be not a sponge, or a shield, but a container.  I am naturally spongy.  I will emotionally absorb the hell out of whatever human is near me, be it family or the lady on the elevator.  It is an unfortunate gift.  My over active empathy gland can be a real jerk.  However, my dear friend Chris Holowaty, told me that it is better to be a container.  Sponges absorb what is not theirs.  Shields deflect and can hurt others in defense of their own heart, but a container collects and pours out.  This is where faith in God comes in handy.  I have a place to pour it. As a mother, having a containment policy is handy.  It cuts down (not out) on crying spells and tongue lashings.  Working on fortifying my container and preventing spillage.

Mascotting is not for sissies. See Sparkygate 2017 for details.

I am blessed to have kids but I do not have so many dang kids because I am blessed.  I have known far too many couples who deserved babies and were never able to have them, and too many others who had them and did not value the privilege. It is a lie from the pit of hell (as my mother would say) that children are a sign of blessing.  They are not merit awards. They are not bonus checks.  (Although, according to Mike they are a little like a time shares. You aren’t sure what you are signing up for when you “attend the meeting”– if you know what I mean.)   Children are not an indicator of worthiness. They are a gift to those who choose to take up the mantle of parenthood. It is the experience of helping a child grow up and out into the world that is the blessing. Too heavy handed? Probably, but I can’t help it. My hand feels like a thousand pounds right now.  All muscle.

Always give it to Marshawn on the 1 yard line.

Monitor and Adjust.   When life gives you four kids…

Present Heather should help Future Heather.  My husband is a master at this skill. He is always considering how his future self will feel about his choices.  Particularly in the area of product placement.  Need a flashlight? Past Mike is on it. Need some hot coco in appallingly cold weather conditions?  Mike knew you would.  Marshmallows or no marshmallows is his only questions. Some say, stay in the present. Mike says, that’s fine…but what about future you. That guy would like to avoid getting screwed. I fail future Heather on the regular, and beat the shit out of past Heather for sport.  I am working on being nicer to past Heather and more thoughtful of what future Heather might need.

Hot chocolate is better with chili in it and yet very few coffee establishments want to serve it to me this way. Where is the justice in that?

Blessed Self Forgetfulness. Tim Keller made a strong point that conceit and insecurity are two sides of the same coin.  Both come as a result of comparing ourselves to others.  Either we think we are downright more awesome  and get prideful or find ourselves ‘lacking and get depressed.  I am a undercover comparer shrouded in an “I don’t care how I look” bodysuit.  I have lackluster leg structure.  I joke about it a lot and stay as casual and unassuming fashion-wise  as possible to draw attention away from them. In other words, I am noticing your legs–and I am wishing they were mine.  But, the problem isn’t my legs, or yours.  The problem is that I am thinking about MY legs so much, instead of nurturing them and being grateful they exist at all. Trying to think less about myself all together makes me feel kinder, more authentic and more loving. (But, if I could safely get a ankle transplant I might….MIGHT)

Growing things change and changing things grow. Mom strikes again. We can’t grow without being willing to change, and we cannot change unless we are willing let go of what we were.

One way to get your kids to start eating something other than dino shaped chicken nuggets and cereal is to teach them to cook dinner.  I do not understand the science behind this, but for some reason, if I make my young sautéed mushrooms in a rosemary wine reduction, they act like I am asking them to eat garbage, but they will eat overcooked herbed carrot fries by the handful if it is their handiwork.

Marriage requires nudity.  I don’t like being completely naked (See Mount Olympus). It’s just not my thing. I practice a sort of primitive snap chat.   I like to be in control of lighting and coverage at all times, so as to emphasize the elements of my birthday suit I fancy most.  Being nude for me, is like taking live selfies without editing options. However, marriage  asks that we take off everything and show ourselves both figuratively and literally without filters.  If we keep parts hidden (physically or emotionally) because we find them unattractive, we can be together but we can’t be as close as we were intended to be.

If you can’t make it good, make it memorable.  Pretty much every blog I have ever written has been about this. If I could tattoo it to my forehead without looking weird I would.

Feelings don’t get hurt, but egos do. Tim Keller told me, via the internet, that when my  “feelings are hurt” it is actually my pride that has been wounded. I am hurt that I am not who I thought I was, or who I wanted you to think I was.  I am wildly sensitive and easily hurt, so apparently I have an ego the size of Texas. Maybe that is why I invented my alter ego Tonya.

Space Dust IPA is truth serum. Healthy in small doses.

Hearts either break apart or break open.  I have heard this put in several ways, and have no spin, just recognition. Hearts that break apart tend to hurt others. Hearts that break open, grow and strengthen.

Prayer is a strange and wonderful thing. Sometimes I pray and I am pretty sure I am talking to myself.  Sometimes I pray and I am actually talking to who I am praying with. Sometimes I pray and I am merely complaining. Sometimes I am  begging. Sometimes I just scream at God as loud as I can. Sometimes all I can do is breathe, and that ends up being my prayer. Sometimes I pray and I fall apart. Sometimes I pray and I get put back together. Sometimes I pray and don’t feel anything. Sometimes I pray only because I think I am supposed to.  Sometimes I pray and nothing happens.  Sometimes I pray and it all makes sense. Sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes I am okay with the mystery.  Sometimes I am not.  Sometimes it becomes very clear to me, that God is real and so I will keep on praying.

Peace comes from a quiet mind, entertaining no hypothetical bind.  This is a line from a song my sister wrote. It has become a mantra for me since I not only have a very noisy mind but I am incredible at coming up with dangerous and sinister hypotheticals. It is a dark gift.  I have taught this lyrical mantra to my children in an effort to counter their worries and assuage my own.

Struggle changes us one way or another. It either makes us bitter, or it makes us wise. Either way we change. Another Keller wonder-thought to think upon.

When preparing a meal whose origins are of another land, it is imperative to listen to the music of that land whilst cooking.  For example, I love to prepare enchiladas to the musings of  the Gypsy Kings.  Making Cordon Bleu? I suggest the Amelie soundtrack. If I could govern my own country, I would make this a law, punishable in no way, but a law just the same.

Govern yourselves or you will be governed.   My mom’s dear friend taught her this one.  It is wildly effective on unruly youth since they are generally not fans of governance.

Even Mother Teresa struggled with doubt and depression. That thought used to terrify me.  If Mother Teresa doubted God and his kindness, being the saint that she was, then aren’t we all screwed? But, after a great deal of consideration, I have come to this. What kind of human would she have been if she did not struggle with those things– having witnessed that degree of suffering.   Only the coldest of hearts would not break. It brings me peace to know it is okay to wonder. To not understand.  To love God and love people anyway.

Mumus solve everything. They level the playing field.  It is like fashion communism. An equal distribution of fabric.

I would like to be a pastor for a day and give a sermon with bullet points derived entirely from the movie Elf. 

Love your neighbor as you love yourself.  I am okay with the neighbor part I think. Although, poor Dave and Marilyn, next door, pretty much only see me if I need sugar.  But, I am not too adept at the self love. I think I have been a little put off by the idea that people need to love themselves more.  We modern folks love the hell out of ourselves to a fault.  But, my friend Jenah put a spin on this that was helpful. She told me that when she wakes up in the morning, she looks in the mirror and says I love you, how can I help you today?How can I take care of you so we can go out there and fight the good fight. This makes self love about being our best so we can be available to others, not so we can supplant their needs.  So, I shall implement this policy…but perhaps I will make it an end of the day love chat. I am not a morning person, and I don’t really like anyone until about 8:30am.

The truth really will set you free. An honest marriage is infinitely more beautiful and sustainable than one with secrets.   Mike and I call it the full knowing.  Those seasons of reveal can be painful, but without them we can not deepen our root system or protect our nest.

Very few arguments are worth winning. My dad is endlessly fun and light hearted, but he is also a deep well. Every once in a while he will casually say something ridiculously poignant. That is probably what makes him such a great song writer. He can simplify the profound. He made this point in regards to marriage, but I think it applies to encounters of every kind.  Social media debates are a great illustration. People will fight to the cyber death with a stranger in Iowa, to “win”.  They will tear their mystery opponent apart if need be–attacking their position, their grammar, their profile picture, their character, all in the name of winning.  There are causes worth fighting for, but not every cause is a calling and very few injustices can be rectified through “arguing”.  I have been in my fair share of debates.  And a few were even worth my while, but most devolved into something other than progress.  As I get older, I want to lift people up,  not just call them out.

Build up the library of your heart.  Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.~ Psalm 90:12  The term wise up is fascinating. We think of it like, get your head in the game, or you better recognize–but, in the biblical sense, I think it might  mean, build up the library of your heart.   Store up truth and goodness, so that when things fall apart, you can put yourself back together again. And boy, do I fall apart sometimes. Usually, because my hormones have staged a mutiny on my soul, or because I didn’t take the high road, or I am in the midst of sub par parenting episode.  I am not immune to a good old fashion melt down, but the more expansive my library–the less often I lose structural integrity and the more I can be strong for others.   If you love Wisdom and don’t reject her, she will watch over you” –Proverbs 4:6.

Forty is the new 39.  

CHALLENGE:  Mike Pasley, you are it! What are your forty things?  

Tov Lo – Hot Play

Kenna, Chaylee and I walked into Century Link Field adorned with fancy light up wrist bands, ready to experience the joyous mystery of live performance.  The first opening act was your typical young, emerging female artist.  She hardly opened her mouth when she sang and moved around the stage seductively while breathing heavily into every lyric as if it needed to be resuscitated. Sort of a, Lorde meets Lorde, meets an asthmatic with good pitch. We got through it.

Then came Tov Lo…

I gotta stay high, all the time to get you off my mind…  Not the best advice for young people.

She came off like a promiscuous Peter Cetera, post-legalization, with daddy issues and a crop top. (Note: Chicago produced some of the most co-dependent love songs of all time.)

Each song contained copius amounts of profanity, which I don’t usually have a problem with, if the taboo verbiage is well placed and surrounded with quality prose. But these were just F-bombs tossed out into the audience haphazardly–striking children and middle aged women who just really love the song Yellow. It felt cruel.

By the third jam, Kenna was placing actual wagers on how many F words we would have to endure per song.  And these weren’t the angry adverb kind but the literal type. Carnal requests really.  If she would have just dressed it all up in some fun innuendo I wouldn’t have had to ear muff my ten year old for a half an hour. My arms were getting tired.

What’s her next song gonna be called?  I shouted over the applause,  “My Vulva’s Crazy!”? Chaylee laughed hard, then asked me what vulva meant.

Just when we thought the onslaught of sex, drugs, and techno was overTov Lo decided to deliver one last little number.

This last song is my new single. It’s called “Disco Tits”. I hope you like it. 

That was better than my crazy vulva idea.  I cringed and awkwardly placed my hands back over Chaylee’s ears.  Kenna was loving it.  Not the song, but the spectacle of watching her mother squirm as Tov Lo belted out:

“I’m fully charged, nipples are hard, ready to go…”

How could Coldplay do this to us? Did they perform a background check on the Swedish super vixen? Had they heard her new single?  I didn’t want to deliver my daughters from Disney bubble gum pop music only to introduce them to soft porn techno.  Fortunately, we have strategy in our family for handling these kinds of situations–one that has been handed down for generations.  If you can’t make it good…make it memorable.  So I decided to treat Tov Lo and her free love–here have some drugs–message as an opportunity to banter with my girls about femininity, character development and the various anatomical reasons ones nipples may become firm. It was indeed memorable.

The headliner never apologized, but they didn’t disappoint either. By the end of the night I was confident that Tov Lo did minimal damage to our moral fabric and that Coldplay did some good.


What is one of your strangest concert going experiences?

How do you handle uncomfortable parenting moments?

Why I want to be Rick Steves and David Sedaris’ Love Child – even though I am not certain how to use apostrophe’s.

I lied to you.

About the title, I mean.

This blog is not about my aspirations to become the baby of a successful travel writer and legendary storyteller, or my apostrophe issue. It is actually about why I cannot stick to my weekly blogging commitment.  The one I made one week ago. The truth is, that was a stupid promise. Why did I think it was a good idea to challenge myself as Christmas approaches? Why don’t I just go out and get a gym membership while I am at it.

Instead, I am going to post some old entries and go for a nice walk.  I’ll start challenging myself in the New Year

Merry Christmas

Emmanuel: God With Us






A video for the visually impaired. You will see what I mean.

Apparently, to increase blog traffic, one must start posting on a fairly regular basis.  So that is exactly what I am going to do.  Because, who doesn’t love traffic. In keeping with my current theme of vulnerability, I will attempt to create cyber congestion by revealing why it is a challenge for me to write on a regular basis.

  1. I usually only write about embarassing situations.  These happen less often now that I am older and increasingly risk averse, not to mention that all the kids are in school so there are less parenting faux pas to process.  Side note: the French term faux pas is amazing. I don’t like saying it, but I love writing it. It makes humiliation fancy. Only the French can pull that off. I usually say, “fox paw” just for fun though. Similarly, I like to call Brett Favre, Brett FAV-RAY.  Why? Because come on!  How in the world am I supposed to just pretend the “r” comes first, Brett.  I get that you are a football legend, but that doesn’t mean we all have to play along.  Would you be comfortable if I started spelling my last name “Palsey” but asking you to pronounce it “Pasley?” 
  2. I feel like everyone and their mom is a blogger. Or a mom blogger.  Or a blogging mom.  Or a mom who likes reading blogs and is thinking about putting one together. It is being done and done very well by a whole lotta ladies.  To do it right, you have to either know something about home design, or self deprecate just enough to be relatable, then demonstrate ground breaking maturity and wisdom so you are worth “following”.  For example: If you just reveal that you screamed at your child like a she-demon…you have to end it with, but then I learned that she-demons are just fallen angels themselves… trying to raise  little angels as best they can… or some guru shiz like that.  No one ever ends their blog with the she-demon line. It’s the formula that is hard for me to embrace.  I guess I have always rebelled against formula though. That might be why I can’t make pie crust.
  3.  I am afraid of becoming an addict.  This is a very real fear. Cyber affirmation is a drug.  “Likes” are becoming a religion. People are putting their faith in them. A heart emoji literally means love. Really? As a modern day follower of Christ (yeah I said it) I am really, really trying to remember where my value lies. But I have to be honest, when I saw that someone from the Netherlands hit up my site, I got excited. Uncomfortably excited.  Like, Julie and Julia excited. That’s ridiculous. Especially because I don’t even know what they read or how they felt about it. I just knew that I had travelled to the Netherlands for a hot minute. I want to find a balance between appreciating colorful emojis and positive reinforcement without needing them.
  4. Hey world…check…me out. I am not entirely sure that I want anyone to check me out. Is it self indulgent to want that kind of attention? (This is where you leave a comment telling me, I am worth it!)

So there they are. All the reasons I haven’t posted regularly.

Now for the challenge: I realize that the NPR New Years Resolution specialists suggest that you don’t share your goals so as to avoid pre mature pay off and/or disappointment, but I am going to do it anyway!

I will attempt to post once a week. I will not wait for humiliation or parental epiphanies to find me.  Will you help hold me accountable sweet friends and family,
(and guy in the Netherlands).  Don’t let me drop the ball. I need this exercise.

Future title possibilities:

Why I want to be Rick Steves and David Sedaris’ love child. 

The unfortunate musings of Tove Lo 

Spiders and Jive Turkeys


Time after Time


So, what are you going to do now that all the kids are in school?

I would like to officially apologize to every woman I have said this to. I am pretty sure, I tried to funny it up when I asked, but the meta message was still there.

What on earth are you going to do with all that time, I wish I had, but I don’t.

I am not sure what a better question would even be. What are you going to do with all that potential?   How do you intend to use your super powers now? Will you finally get to do all that you dreamed of doing before you became a nurse log? No matter how the inquiry is framed it feels something like: GET A JOB!

Mike calls this season my sabbatical–my golden moment to pursue health and discover my passions.  (Where did I find a man like this, you ask? I had him made. Thank you Ken and Deb.)  Unfortunately, my focus on health has awakened my inner hypochondriac.  I can’t seem to get rid of the sensation that there is something stuck in my throat and am fairly confident that I am at death’s door. I don’t think this is what my dear husband had in mind, but here we are.

The pursuing my passions piece has been interesting, but I confess the pursuit has mostly consisted of random career assessment tests, solo brainstorming sessions and crying spells. I have unsuccessfully submitted one story to NPR, written one blog about being stuck in my own pants,  painted a portrait of Einstein, and researched the voice over industry and how middle aged women can break into the field as painlessly as possible. I coach choir club once a week and occasionally practice long vowel sounds with Mrs. Juhl’s first grade class.  I rock the orca costume from time to time, against my better judgment,  but no longer on the regular.  Overall, I just spend a lot of time feeling like somewhere along the way, the list of things I wanted to do with my life got lost, and now I need to find it.

As a result of my weird, possibly hormonally driven, quasi midlife crisis, I have  required Mike to prepare and deliver weekly pep talks on the beauty, sexiness, wisdom and viability of women in their forties. (I turn forty in three months. The separation is in the preparation.) During these pep talks, I have been encouraged to think outside the box. So here I go. Jobs I would be interested in, if prior experience, education, salary and aptitude were non issues–followed by naysaying.

Astronaut–I am terrible at math, claustrophobic, and have poor vision. Not a great candidate for space travel.

Today Show Host: A little late to the game. The women seem to age out in their forties on that program.  It’s like Dazed and Confused. Lauer keeps getting older… and the girls stay the same age.

Foreign Correspondent:  Family put the kibosh on this option due to safety concerns but I think I would be awesome at it. As long as I am not required to wear pencil skirts. Those don’t sit well with me.

Travel Writer: Waiting for Rick Steves to kick the bucket.

Motivational Speaker:  Might need to nail down my own motivation first, but I do have a stage name on lock down:  Robin Tonies.

Artist: I set up an etsy account to sell paintings, but my “cyber store” remains empty due to a total lack of confidence and a fear of art consumers, who seem naughty by nature and prone to judgy feedback.

Disney Land Tour Guide:  Typically this role is reserved for young people willing to wear safari shorts and tropical button downs.  Not sure if I am willing to relocate the whole family to make that happen.

Diplomat: I AM a push over. So….you know….maybe.

Member of an Improv Troop: I hear these cats make like $50 a night and the hours are flexible.

Sea Gal: I could be the lady that all the wives don’t mind.  The Sea “every woman” gal.  The one that helps them decide it’s okay to wear pants.  I would also encourage them to bring an end to the shimmy, shimmy, bend move.  It is tiresome.  Simply bending over is not a viable dance move and adding a couple shimmies before-hand doesn’t make it good.  If I don’t make the cut, I will just promote the drinking game I created years ago, (aptly named) “The Shimmy, Shimmy, Bend Drinking Game”.  The rules are simple. If they double shimmy and bend over, you drink.  I guarantee public intoxication by half time. Go Hawks.

Blogger:  With approximately 3 views a day, I think it might behoove me to seek other avenue for revenue.

Teaching: Not just yet. I want to get my little ones farther along in their own academic journey before I become uninterruptible after school due to a heavy workload. Teaching is no joke man.

Insert suggestion here: __________________________________________________________________

I realize this is a wonderful problem to have. And I completely understand if women with toddlers and or folks working 60+ hours a week want to punch me in the face. But, consider this: there is a degree of additional responsibility that comes with not having as many responsibilities anymore.  For example: When you have four children, people expect you to be late. They are not surprised if you cancel.  Most mistakes can be blamed, at least in part, on children. In general, no one expects much out of you outside of executing your maternal responsibilities. You are a hero for bathing.

So, what am I doing with myself, now that all the kids are in school?  I’ll let you know when I find out.  In the meantime, I am going to take a bath whenever I feel like it.


Questions for my little audience that I love:

  1. I am nervous about turning forty and I am not sure why.  Any ideas?
  2. If you are in your forties, what do you love about it?
  3. Did you or someone you know experience a mild crisis during a similar transition?
  4. Know any good sermons on aging gracefully?



Deliver Me From Material

I get my nails done only when an occasion demands it, and a destination wedding in the tropics was telling me I had to. Because I hate to argue with the tropics, I grabbed the first kid-free opportunity I had and headed straight to BK Nails.

The massage chair is actually my favorite part of the experience.  I am a fan of “kneading fingers” but am also partial to the “swedish massage” setting–even though this tends to annoy the ladies who are carefully trying to turn my fat-Saxon hands into lady fingers. This is not easy to do.  My husband has shared with me that I have tragic farmer hands, since they sort of look like they were stuck in a combine at some point.  His observation is way too funny to be hurtful and completely accurate.  My fingers are noticeably bent and lacking symmetry. My cuticles are unruly. I avoid them. Good thing the wizards at BK know how to pretty them up.  I know they covertly talk about my unfortunate hands in their native tongue but I can also feel their satisfaction when the acrylic magic is applied and my wayward hands become presentable…almost  attractive.

My toes are not noteworthy, but, my ankles are sad and thick.  They really are.  I have grown fond of their sturdiness and have learned to embrace them as hard-working weight-bearing entities worthy of praise. I get the feeling though, that the women of BK nails feel sorry for me when I pull up my pant legs to reveal the ankles and my hefty calves. That is why the leg reveal is always the low point of my visit.

In preparation for the customary soothing foot soak, I tried to pull up my pant legs.  I knew right away I should not have chosen my cozy olive green parachute pants. The opening of the pants was small–very small.  No match for my abundance.  I tugged at the stubborn garment with increasing intensity and began to panic as the pedicurist approached. I was finally able to will the elastic up and over my calf with a sigh of relief, and then regret. The right pant leg didn’t make it that far. It got stuck just half way up my smug little shin. My tenacity had taken an unfortunate turn.

The manicure and pedicure commenced simultaneously, but I was not feeling pampered. All I could think about was the pant situation.

The fabric hugged just below my left knee like a tourniquet. My leg was going numb.  My hands were being manicured and were unavailable for problem solving. How was I ever going to get my pant legs down?  Typically the nail specialist repositions your clothing at the end of the service. The idea of her attempting to deliver my leg from the clutches of my own pants was horrifying. All I could think about was how to avoid that moment and save my leg.

Each time I was left alone for a moment, I would try to convince the depressing green fabric to submit and curse my colossal legs.

FLASHBACK                                                                                                                              Tinglestadt Hall –Pacific Lutheran University                                                                           Circa 1997

I hadn’t worn a dress in months.  I didn’t really like exposing my lower extremities to others, but I found a cute little number worthy of courage.  I put on my Doc Martin boots and my new little black babydoll dress with white flowers and confidently entered the hallway. I had not even made it to the elevator before the sound of a vacuum in use abruptly ceased.

Georgia, the truth-telling housekeeper, approached with purpose.

“Girl!!!!  You got some BIG LEGS! Suma gemalema hotdog%!”

To this day…The last sentence uttered by Georgia is a mystery.

Some believe she said, man, I’m gonna get me a hot dog..\                                                   Others contend it was something more like : Damn, they look good. Hot Dog!                                                              I just hope it wasn’t: Man, they look like a couple hot dogs. 

Whatever she declared that day, it was hurtful, and kept me in pants for years.

Return to Present

It was clear that scissors were going to be necessary to escape my own pants.

My nails were dry. It was time to pay . She reached to “assist me”.

Oh no, no…I am way too hot just leave them. 

She looked at me defiantly and made a second attempt.

Oh no please. I am really too hot and I like them like this. 

She wasn’t buying it. Maybe because it was by no means hot out.  She went for the the haphazard pants again.

I get hot. I like them like this. 

She digressed and accepted payment in spite of my weird request.

Now it was time to mosey next door to Desert Tan. This would be my only opportunity to turn my vulnerable legs a tender shade of beige before visiting those bossy tropics. It’s embarrassing enough to feel you need a spray tan in order to be presentable. It’s far worse, when you can’t get one because you are stuck in your own pants.

Hey do you have a pair of scissors? I need to cut off a tag, I lied confidently.

It would not be easy to get my legs out of fabric prison without being detected by the tanning specialist.  I dropped down and frantically tried to work the scissors around the material that held onto me like vice grips.  Another customer walked in. I was done pretending though. All I cared about was keeping my leg. I cut and ripped and pulled until I was free and handed the scissors nonchalantly back to the girl behind the counter. I was free. Sure, I looked like Bruce Banner after a meltdown, but it was better than losing a limb in a bizarre pedicure incident.



Have you ever been stuck in your own clothes? If so, how did you solve this problem?

*Mike and I went on our first date twenty years ago today!  Full of love for him. We wear each other well.





Sparkygate 2017

The Sparky costume lives in Janitorial Closet #2.  It is an uncomfortably small room, but well organized and unsuspicious–like a telephone booth. It’s never easy to put on the 5-piece orca costume, which comes with a faux tummy attachment to make Sparky extra huggable, but it is even more challenging when three of your children are with you asking questions and trying to help.  However, I thought it might bring some levity to an otherwise tumultuous morning of missing shoes, compromised lunch boxes and poor time management to include the children in my part time gig.  It worked. Soon we were laughing and hugging in the snuggly little closet — even deciding on a theme song for Sparky’s entrance. Ki suggested Back in Black.  Finally, we had achieved unity.  Nothing can bring people together like mascots can, except maybe Field Day…

We opened the door and exited “the phone booth” with slow motion swagger like Resevoir Dogs –ACDC playing on my phone in the background, muffled by my fuzzy fin.

Our first encounter was with my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher.  Her enthusiasm was palpable, appreciated and just what I needed to get really pumped up. Pictures were taken. High fives, “or fins” were exchanged. It was time to head outside…

Get ready kids, I thought. It’s Field Day–and Sparky came to play.

The Pasley kids went to their respective lines, proud of their mom and their school.  Abel,  a Pre K graduate, was my handler. We walked lockstep out onto the blacktop, where students mingled in haphazard lines awaiting the bell that would usher in Field Day fun.

The Kindergarteners were the first recipients of Sparky’s friendliness. They gently waved their little innocent hands and requested hugs from the lovable whale with subtle gestures, like outstretched arms, and doe eyed stares. I was in the zone.  Clever dance steps, and strategic fin placement communicated school spirit and tenderness all at once.

Damn, it feels good to be a mascot.


As I moved beyond the lines of Kindergarteners, more and more children approached like a tide coming in. This wasn’t my first rodeo though.  I had a handler.  Sure he was less than four feet tall, and no where to be found, but, I knew he was out there somewhere. Perhaps even surveying the situation and seeking out an adult or two who could help out if things went off the rails.


I felt a dorsal fin pull here and there as the crowd grew, but knew that came with the territory.  I am sure the Mariner Moose has had a child or two test his antlers. It wasn’t until, all the recipients of my mascot merriment were eye level, that I realized the demographic had changed. These were not students who wanted a little Field Day inspiration from their friendly neighborhood whale, these were older kids who were hell bent on discovering Sparky’s identity.

They begin to press their pre pubescent faces against the black screen that protected my personage.  Worse yet, their morbid curiosity became a challenge to one another. I took up defensive position against a thin white pole and looked for an adult while the diabolical boys batted at my head shouting out clues to one another.

It’s a girl!!!  They shouted as they caught a glimpse of my pony tail.

They pushed and pulled at my second skin, laughing maniacally. The heavy whale head bobbing up and down on my shoulders. I was drowning.

And then…

It happened…

Sparky got decapitated.

My sweaty head, and tousled hair sat naked atop the fuzzy whale costume in the middle of the populated playground of stunned children. It was like an episode of Scooby Doo.

A demonic voice came out of me that had previously been reserved only for difficult parenting situations..

“HEY!!!!!!! UNBELIEVABLE BEHAVIOR!” I screamed, Orca head in hand.

My eyes began to fill with tears as I looked around the school yard at all the the horrified faces.  My cover was blown. Worse yet,  I had broken the only hard and fast rule of mascotting (outside the handler height requirement) –never let them see you cry.

I placed the shamed whale head back over my own and walked toward Janitorial Closet #2, leaving in my wake a viral tale that is sure to live in elementary school lore forever.

Where were you when Sparky lost his head? They’ll say.

God knows I will remember where I was…



*Thank you to Ms. H., Kindergarten Teacher of the Year, who let me walk around her empty classroom in a headless killer whale costume venting after the incident. I am sure the simultaneous laughing and crying was a little unnerving. Thanks for the “We Love Sparky” chant too.  It restored my faith in humanity, and made my retirement less traumatizing. 

**Please leave comments that detail what you would have said when your head came off.  I am pretty disappointed in my lack of creativity in that moment. 



Sparky Out

Photos taken by CK Hernandez: Sparky’s 2016 Handler