Writings of a solivagant, gypsy soul, foodie, and pirate hopeful. Unconventional mother. Sometimes profane. Occasionally profound.
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Photo by CCoffman20 on Instagram

Stable mental health is my illusive unicorn. I see it ahead and nearly grasp the beastie, but it skitters off and leaves me floundering in a dense forest of depression and mental muck. Like many survivors of child abuse, I have emotional baggage that exceeds the standard weight limits. I spent half my life unaware that I was carrying excessive luggage. Once I understood I had such an emotional burden, I spent the next several years beating myself up. Why couldn’t I just get over this? …


I’m Elle.

My life is punctuated by periods of restlessness, where I pace and plot ways to escape, followed by intervals of bizarre adventures.

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This is how to celebrate Hawaii

I loathe routine. My only habitual behaviors are consuming mass quantities of coffee, writing, inserting Oxford commas, and sustenance-seeking. Everything else is subject to change at the discretion of this management.


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Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

Recently, I was a nasty woman patient, asserting my medical rights and taking no prisoners. For this tirade, I make no apologies. Gender biased roles implied I should submit to the rules, like a nice, quiet girl. But this isn’t a situation for my docile compliance. Time is of the essence. I had to aggressively push back against the system.

I didn’t always see these encounters as prejudice. But in totality of the healthcare experience, it is another brick in the thick wall of gender discrimination, causing women to forcefully self-advocate, even when some are gravely ill. …


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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The nutcracker standing on my fireplace mantle is pathetic — a damaged, macabre holiday icon. Tragically decapitated at the hairline, like an unfortunate dinner guest of Hannibal Lector, this lobotomy patient now reigns over my 2020 Christmas. One painted eye is partially scraped off. The other fixed and open, in a perpetual, leering wink. The sword at his side is also broken and hangs flaccid. These injury sources are new and mysterious. After the holidays last year, he was intact and carefully packed away — a brave and solid decoration. This year, he emerged from the wrappings a mangled travesty.

There’s great sentimental value attached to this poor wooden soldier. The nutcracker was a gift from my mother in 1990, after we attended the holiday ballet with my two oldest children. And since that time, this nutcracker has stood watch over every Christmas and New Year. …


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Photo by Sherise . on Unsplash

In the beginning, I thought I was prepared for a pandemic. At least, better than most. I was wrong about that. The stress of running a perpetual marathon in this environment is unraveling my psyche. I alternate between affirming self-talk and sinking into a pool of profound negativity. Most days, the latter is winning.

The stakes are exceedingly high now, complex, and different in the types of decision-making I’ve built a career around. I should be proficient at this.

Full disclosure: I’m not. I’m struggling. I am suffering COVID fatigue.

The next few months are predicted to be challenging, with increased illnesses and more tragic deaths. Yes, the end is in sight. Vaccines are here. We just have to tow the line for a while. “Hang on,” I tell myself and my clients. But the dark present seems long and brutal — a bleak winter landscape in the workplaces of America. …


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Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

In 2017, I received $7,300 for a white paper I’d written. The article — a 7.3K word leviathan on establishing a workplace safety culture — paid a dollar per word. Although one of the larger single projects I’ve developed, it reflects my standard rate. Depending on the depth of research, I usually charge $0.50 to $1.00 per word. Can you get this type of pay? Absolutely. My skills aren’t magical. Dear Writers, stop selling yourself short. There are markets that pay quite well for your knowledge. Earning a viable income simply requires refocusing your craft as a business commodity.

Underpaid & Unappreciated Are Unacceptable

Threads comparing earnings and reader views are regular sources of discussion in the social media writers’ groups I’ve joined. I don’t comment much, but it saddens me to see the labors of these gifted people unappreciated by trivial earnings. …


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Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

The progression of 2020 has been strikingly similar to trying to pass a kidney stone — seemingly endless in duration and teaming with unexpected and excruciating twists. Small wonder the holidays amidst a pandemic are frustrating and challenging, too.

As we’re all keenly aware, life is complex now. Pandemic-related living has caused financial tension, changes in our social lives and work habits, and separation from friends and family. Even a brief grocery store trip is stressful and seems rife with hidden microscopic hazards. Keeping social distance for almost a year is hard, even for loner folks like me. …


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Photo by Cory Woodward on Unsplash

“Hey Mom, I just wanted you to know, I’m dating a girl. I’m gay. I love you.” Before I could answer, my youngest daughter hung up. That was how she came out to me. The master of brevity, that one is. Also, she has a proclivity for calling at odd hours, totally unaware that some humans actually sleep at night and our brains aren’t wired for 24–7 interactions. But I digress.

In that one micro conversation, she took a huge leap of faith, trusting I’d accept and love her. At the time, I didn’t understand the courage it took to convey these words which reflected the essence of who she was. …


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Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

As we face the results of an epic election, it seems fitting to reflect on the vast divisions in our nation. The marked divide has escalated to the point that cities are bracing for conflict, citizens are arming themselves due to fears of civil unrest in the event of a disputed election result, and a whole lot of people are just angry at each other. For adding to the division, the evangelical church leaders should answer, as well as step up to the plate and help heal this fractured country. Yes, Evangelical Leaders, I’m speaking to you directly. Your support of a bullying, petulant child and decades of divisive teachings has consequences. …


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Rocky Mountain National Park: Photo by Writer

How a Bad Vacation Can be a Beautiful Thing

At one point, I laid my head on the steering wheel and sobbed hysterically, “I can’t do this! I can’t do this!” From the backseat, a small hand found my shoulder. While patting it reassuringly, her tiny four-year-old voice said, “But you’re the Mommy. You gotta do it.” I didn’t want to do it. Absolutely not.

Instead, I wanted to leave the van and all its contents and be rescued by a moderately handsome and incredibly capable Forest Ranger. And then spend the rest of my natural life drinking Margaritas and watching my Forest Ranger build me a shopping mall out of twigs. …

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