Winter Solstice and Solace

Winter Solstice and Solace

I started 2020 on house arrest, pouting and healing after surgery. About the time I started venturing out into the world, the world was put on house arrest too. And we were all pouting, in one way or another.

BigHaggis and I have a happy marriage (a safe home), my midlife-grad-school-life prepared me for long solitary days of reading and writing (gave me a toolkit to avoid insanity), BigHaggis already worked from home (no stress over conversions), we are healthy (no debilitating illnesses or costly meds), we are childfree (no homeschooling), and I’ve been teaching online and hybrid courses since 2005 (little-to-no training for me to step into a new role).

Suddenly we became acutely aware that – especially during this pandemic – we were living in a space of Great Privilege.

I did not feel right complaining about the water anxieties we discovered in our rescue dog, the creative unclogging measures taken in the hall bath, the battle between my car’s side mirror and a telephone pole (unsurprisingly, the mirror lost), the spare cash I slipped the painter to patch the bullet hole in Hurricane’s kitchen ceiling… it all sounded impossibly bougie – and –  incredibly insensitive.

Some of my friends disagreed. Derelict Deb should plow on! they said. This was the time to write about funny things. Everyday things. Everyday life. Humor that would make us laugh in dark times.

People would laugh, they insisted, to hear about my July trip to a grocery store in which I told a family shopping en masse without masks and fondling all the items in the checkout lane – that I was so glad to see a family choosing not to live in fear. Good for them! I said loudly through my mask. I also refuse to live in fear or trust science and was just recently released from intensive care at the hospital (I said, getting louder and closer to them) and was so glad to be off a ventilator and out of quarantine – out in the free world again. Such Freedom! I shouted, moving to remove my mask. (They unceremoniously abandoned their cart, the mother clutching the youngest of the three teens to her as they all awkwardly sped out the door.)

But is this not in itself a prime example of how “everyday life” is not so “everyday” anymore?

Wouldn’t laughter, from my place of security, be hurtful to those who have lost jobs and fear losing their homes, who have loved ones dying or in the hospital, who were muddling through an America during an anxiety-filled election year? We need strength, aye. We need laughter, aye! Who is right? In a year of thin skins and so many being impacted so negatively, I felt it best to take some time away and focus on other projects, things beyond the lens of social media.

In this weirdest of all weird years, through the anxieties and strangeness and incredible sadness and pain of losing loved ones, I am trying to keep the highlight reel of my heart to the positives.

I tackled some projects (previously abandoned mid-stream) and began new ones, centering on interesting research and even more interesting humans. I re-learned how to grow and process/can vegetables and stock my own pantry. I started writing my second book. Through great pains and creative no/low contact travel (involving both Louisiana Cousin Eddie camped in the driveway for 3 weeks and a 15-straight-hour-car-drive to avoid hotel stops with two teenage girls) we hosted Staycation 2020 in our backyard when summer camps for our nieces were canceled. (Picture a sun-soaked Coppertone teen drama crafting singing cookout toenail painting ice cream Lalapooloozah mixed with late night Pina Coladas and reruns of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 Countdown, circa 1986.)

In the fall, I filled an entire journal while conducting the Hurricane Relocation Project in which I moved Hurricane to a senior living apartment complex in our town. More on the HRP in the new year but for now have this: (sung to The Sound of Music’s “Maria“) How do you pack and move a Hurricane? Moving a force of nature from town to town?

Being sequestered at home was not without wrinkles, of course: one incident involved me embracing my inner redneck, tromping out to the “back 40” in flip flops and streaming profanities in at least three languages to a group of migrant workers with chainsaws who’d “wandered” onto our property conducting forestry management (read: thinning baby trees and shrubs) on private land. When the Sherriff arrived, no doubt he was surprised that I did not, in fact, have curlered hair, a ratty bathrobe, a shotgun, and a Marlboro hanging from one lip.

Some days we are not our best selves.

While many (including me) have lamented this year about the increasing divisiveness, anger, and lack of humanity we see in our nation, I prefer to look at us as growing, albeit painfully, because part of our American legacy is that dangerous combination of arrogance and action, stupidity and stupendousness. We have grown loud and unafraid to push back at an 18th century white euro-centric vision that has been taken out of context, distorted, and attached to a 21st century America in disastrous ways. We are pre/teens on the global scene, and I feel that we are acting like spoiled 13-year-olds who cannot get their way, learning that we cannot pout and throw the game board in the air, cannot cross our arms and ignore racism, cannot stamp our feet and deny science.

And, like the teens I’ve known in real life, I have faith that America will outgrow our stubborn (sometimes willful) ignorance, learn to listen both completely and critically, and act creatively and wisely, embracing both progress and kindness.

And at the end of this year, there is some solace for the darkness coming to us through the Universe. On Monday night, Jupiter and Saturn kissed in the night sky, appeared as one bright planet. The last time they came this visibly close to each other was in the year 1226.

We stood in the driveway with BigHaggis’s hunting binoculars and felt small but somehow, huddled together, not insignificant.

This winter’s darkness is as literal as it is metaphorical, but it also serves as a reminder that humans have historically turned to rituals and stories to remind one another of hope and deeper truths. I intend to return to sharing my stories in 2021, and I hope you will join me.

While the dumpster fire of 2020 begins to smolder, we must be honest; it’s just as likely someone could toss a cigarette butt into the forests of our hearts and set the whole thing up in flames again. My sincerest hope for the future is that we let the scorched earth that is our country smoke and linger and regrow, much as the nutrient rich soil of farmland or forest does after a burn. There was little controlled about the fire we’ve been experiencing, but I believe in the rich nutrients that lie below it, fertile with possibilities for better tomorrows.



Posted by on December 22, 2020 in BLOG DEPOSITS


The Time to THINK

We are living through strange and stressful days. But living through a pandemic has reminded us that what we have in common outweighs that which divides us.

The virus has reminded us that we are strong and resilient. And compassionate.


Some of us will struggle more than others, and some of us will find new depths of compassion and fellowship as a result of supporting those who need us most. The pandemic has sparked creativity and kindness that I hope with all my heart lasts well beyond the impacted days. We will have to find creative and kind ways to celebrate the milestones we’ve missed – the birthdays and graduations, anniversaries and even memorials for those we lost who we mourned from home because we had to keep a safe distance.

The distance and isolation will change us. Has already changed us.

Without the commitments and hustle and noise of the outside world, we also now have the luxury of spending energy in different ways.

Some of us – without judgement! – are binge-watching the dumbest things on TV because we can’t seem to get off the couch.

just remember PB egg season

Some of us are getting more walks in than ever before.


And this talented family, has won the InterWebs this week for creativity:

Les Mis in times of Covid

We can (and should) creatively gripe and find humor in these difficult times, but let’s talk about things those of us without recording equipment and music tracks in our living rooms can do.

I’m suggesting we all THINK a bit more.

I am a loud extroverted person. So you would think that staying home and spending quiet time would drive me nuts.

But I’m also a researcher, which means I know how to spend days at a time devoted to reading, writing, and quiet reflection. Perhaps more than my DUR surgery in January, my mid-life doctoral pursuits did more to prepare me for the pandemic, for the space we must all give one another now.


But the two most important things being a student over 40 taught me?
The value of patience and reflection.

Whether you read, write, draw, puzzle, … try this week also to reflect.

Spend time in that lost art of THINKING. It seems we live in a time when we don’t do that enough. How many times to do we say/hear “I wish he’d thought about that more” or “I don’t have time to think about that right now” Hm…

stop breath re connect

Our lives are rushed and full and sometimes we complain that we don’t have time for thinking and reflection. Well guess what? Consider this pandemic has given us all the opportunity to do just that. Think and Reflect.

If you are currently juggling homeschooling (in addition to other aspects of your life that have been corona-rearranged) consider adding deliberate REFLECTION to your  (and your kids’) weekly schedules.

You don’t have to be GenX or older to do it, for fuckssake.


You can absolutely make time for thinking. And reflecting. And sharing. And there are loads of sources out there to help you – and kids of all ages – with all kinds of writing and drawing prompts (check out the links below for starters).

The slower pace of pandemic days are perfect times for THINKING.

Think about what matters most to you.

About WHO matters most to you.

Write a letter letting someone you’ve not spoken to in a while that lets them know you are thinking of them.

Make a Skype date with someone you haven’t seen (pre-pandemic) in a long time.

Think about how we can all be better humans on the other side of all this.


This pandemic has made us all aware of ourselves, our neighbors, the spaces we share. But it’s also bringing into focus what is really important. Don’t waste the opportunity to be thoughtful in new ways, including introspective ones.

Think about it.

Your Derelict Debutante



THINKING (and writing and drawing)  LINKS to SHARE:

Drawing Activities for Analyzing and Reflecting (Coursera -MOMA youtube video)

Reflective and Art Therapy Activities

What is reflective writing? Watch this video (great for kids too!)

300 Creative Writing Prompts for kids

Interactive Story Starters (from Scholastic) teacher’s guides

180 Journal writing prompts (kids) from DailyTeachingTools online

250+ journal prompts from JournalBuddies

Reflection Writing & Activities– high school + college writers (ClemsonUni)

105 Writing Prompts for Self-Reflection and Self-Discovery

3 steps to promoting student reflection

Meditation for Kids – the Imagine Project




Posted by on April 1, 2020 in BLOG DEPOSITS