This morning my mind swirls with thoughts and ideas. Mostly about my “in real life” life but some in the fantasy world my mind always lives in. The one populated by people I know as well as I know myself. There are girls who sit and create, Dandelion and Quinn and Penny. Girls who rage and fight the world, Alfie and Margo. Boys who want to help and understand life better, Thatcher, Grady, Nathaniel. And boys who cause destruction with every move they make, Rob, Graham, and even Aaron. A part of my mind always lives with them, waiting for them to speak to me, to tell me their secrets and stories.

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It swirls back to reality (or the part of my life that feels more like reality to those looking in) and I think about the characters who populated that world. A teenager starting high school, trying to figuring out his place in this world full of brokenness and pestilence. A tween who fights for his mental health each day, a dog or cat his constant companion to help him on his quest. A sweet innocent fifth-grader who battles a silent and deadly enemy each night, alone, in his bed. And a boy who is so full of spark, joy, light, thoughtfulness, and empathy he carries our family in his pocket without even knowing it.

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Some days I would write, work, for hours on end, and wish I had my own Cap or Tabitha back home to read my work the way Collins and King do. How envious I was of them to have built-in biggest fans. I wondered if they knew how lucky they were. Writing is something you do largely on your own, but it still takes a group to grow you, a large one. How I longed to write the words and dissect them later with the one I loved the most.

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This coming month my world will shift and change again. A new school year begins. A school year I have been anticipating for the last three years. The year my youngest moved out of the elementary school building into the intermediate building and the oldest started high school. Yet this year will begin with all of them home, Chromebooks in hand, virtual learning keeping us all safe and healthy. My job is shifting and changing slightly. I am uncertain what my schedule will look like by September.

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I cannot stop the dreams that have swirled in my mind since my children were small. The dreams I never thought would be a reality that are suddenly happening to me whether if I like it or not. I want to grab that with both hands and hold on tight. I also need to care well for my family. What do all of these things look like? It feels like the cosmos coming into my living room and saying, “You had this dream, I gave it to you, you never tried it, now you have to.” While the practical adult in me screams, “We can’t actually do that!!!”

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COVID is strange.

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It has changed our world. It has changed how we do life. It has changed who we are. The rule book really got tossed into a vortex now. Which leads us to do… what? Surely we don’t go in after it. That leaves us to write a new one. Or to never write a rule book ever again. To finally embrace that each family, each person, each living creature will do life as they are best lead.