Your FREE Workout

What could be worse than American reality TV?   Answer: Swedish reality TV. No, it’s worse than worse. It’s bad on steroids and not even in HD quality to boot. Why…you’re asking yourself…did I subject myself to this punishment? In all fairness, I had no choice. I was at the gym, (it has free childcare, need I say more), on the elliptical machine, (there’s only 2, it’s a small gym), facing four TV’s tuned into different stations. Only one was showing the reality TV show, (thank goodness), the rest were playing reruns of The Biggest Loser and The Doctors—Jillian Michaels just happened to be on both.

So is she like the only expert that can help anyone lose weight? I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I actually signed up on her website for some “free” workout ideas. I know, I know…nothing’s free. Now I’m bombarded with emails telling me for $4 dollars a month I can get my free workouts. Does Jillian Michaels really need my $4 dollars??? But, I digress…

So Maggie loved the kid care and I loved my hour break and the next day we went back. Only this time…I decided to give Pilates a try. You ever been…No? I hadn’t either and I really wouldn’t suggest your first class be in Swedish:)

The Zen-like setting did nothing to prepare me. The lights were dim, soft music was playing; candles floating in glass bowls flanking either side the instructor’s stage. Lovely.I did my best to follow along, stretching, lengthening, contracting my abs while holding my legs high in the air, (just like her) gracefully holding, then not so gracefully holding, (but still holding), then more holding, still more…starting to shake but holding (barely). When we were ever going to stop holding!!?? It was like this for an hour. If not for the mirrors (and the people to witness my failure), I might have quit. But I had my pride (and the friend who came with me), so together we powered through.

When it was over, I asked this fifty-something instructor her secret to staying fit (don’t we all want to know The Secret?) These were her words, “be consistent.” Dang it! Can’t it just be eating grapefruit, because that I can do! No, of course it can’t, that would be too easy and if we really want to get deep about exercise it’s a metaphor for life, yes folks, a tough, challenging, but ultimately important metaphor about staying balanced.

It’s ALL about consistency. This instructor had been a ballet dancer in her youth but now, she said, she’d learned to be kind to herself. Not the “kind” that rewards oneself with a chocolate bar after a tough day, (yes sometimes we need that kindness too), but this…this means taking time each day to ask yourself, “How are you managing? What do you need?” Questions, sadly, we’re more apt to ask a stranger than ourselves.

She cautioned that, “a little exercise each day is better than a lot all at once.” Right. We’ve heard that before, but somehow we miss the message. A little each day. Give your “self” time, not just to exercise, but to recharge; that’s what this is really about. “When we’re kind to ourselves,” she said, “we’re able to be kind to others,” namely our family. Hmmm…how true. It’s a philosophy that might not change the world, but it could just change our “self” and sometimes that’s the hardest change of all.

Okay Folks, as promised, here is: Your Free Workout!!!

You don’t even have to pay me $4, or my friend Jen Jensen, a personal trainer, my fitness hero, a mom and exercise guru extraordinaire. Below is her strategy for a heart-pumping workout that will re-energize your day. You can even do this with your kids. Thank you Jen!!!

Complete this circuit three times: or as many as you can with the time you have. Keep your heart rate up (but not too high).

One minute: jumping jacks

20 seconds rest

*One minute: girls push up’s (do a few men’s if you can)

20 seconds rest

One minute: jumping jacks

One minute: lunges alternating lead leg each rep.

20 seconds rest

One minute: jumping jacks

One minute: triceps dips on a bench or chair.  If you can, lower your self with legs straight, but if you need to, bend your knees and it will take some of the pressure off your arms.

20 seconds rest

One minute: jumping jacks

One minute: plank pose. (Do this with your elbows and palms on the ground, your back flat but held in the air.) Hold for as long as you can, (drop down or go into down dog if you need to), but try to hold until one minute is over.

*For variation Jen suggests replacing any of the strength exercises with a move that requires weights. Or if you want an additional challenge, replace the jumping jacks with a sumo squat jack—that’s where you jump and land in a squat each time you open your arms. Oh, yes you can!!!!

This generation, with iphones in their pockets, and wireless everything, who (pity them), didn’t grow up watching Little House on the Prairie, have no real concept of life before plumping and electricity, before the Industrial Revolution. These high-tech kids were exactly why Artur Hazelius, a visionary, wanted to create Skansen—a place where the past could be preserved and history revisited.

Our tour began with a taste of fresh baked pastries

The idea was to show people of the 19th Century, never mind the 21st Century, what life was like back when they blew glass by hand and carved furniture with scorps and froes (those aren’t Swedish words) and combed wool.

Below is a furniture factory representative of the 1920’s, pre-IKEA. Think about it, it wasn’t that long ago when craftsmen were doing all this by hand!!!

Furniture making shop from 1920's

Hand carved Nordic design

Founded in 1891, Skansen developed over time to include: farmsteads, a manor, a church, an entire town quarter—showcasing 10 buildings from the 18th century—and a Sami village (the Native peoples of the north). It is the “Colonial Williamsburg” of Sweden and a fascinating trip back in history.

Manor from 1620

My favorite buildings were the Allotment Huts. They were moved from Tanto, south of Stockholm, to Skansen and date to WWI. During the war food was scare, so the government allowed working class families to cultivate garden plots in the countryside and construct tiny, almost doll-sized homes, where they could have their afternoon tea or occasionally spend the night. There were strict regulations regarding size and color; they could only be painted  red, yellow or white.Yellow Allotment Home

Allotment Home kitchen/dining area

The bench behind the table could also function as a bed

The flowers make the simple window beautiful

Skansen isn’t only about preserving buildings; they also have a zoo where you can see rare breeds of Swedish domesticated animals–hearty creatures that have evolved to survive in the harsh northern climates.

Santa’s Reindeer

One “wild” animal

There are wild animals too, Baltic seals, who incidentally, are fed exclusively on cod from the Atlantic Ocean. Excuse me Baltic sea, but the Atlantic is cleaner. Only the best for these Swedish seals.

For more pictures of the animals at Skansen you can click on this link. The Nordic animals att Skansen!.

Our favorite was the enormous brown bear and the baby lynx was adorable too. If given the chance, Maggie would have brought him home:)

Hardware store from early 1900’s

We spent about six hours at Skansen and could have stayed at least six more. We’re definitely going back, if not for the museum than for the food. We had a delicious pita wrap with Elk and Reindeer meat, (Oh my heck, seriously so good!!!) And some not so bad ice cream–which was good:) While none of us can live in the past, it’s nice to know there are places like Skansen where you can return to simpler days. But as for me and my iphone, I think we’re pretty happy right where we’re at.

photo’s courtesy of Lana’s iphone

Something Ventured

Each time we move, I am confronted with the task of re-identifying myself. What does your husband do? Where are you from? What ages are your children? These are the questions polite people ask. If you get beyond these, then you start to cover territory like: school, common interests, backgrounds. Of course if you get that far, then for all intents and purposes, you’re friends.

In some cases I’ve managed to make a friend in less than five minutes. For example, one woman I met in downtown Lidingo heard my English and stopped me…I was new, she’d been here a year, she had three kids, I have four, blah, blah blah…before five minutes were up we were exchanging contact information. All we really needed to know is that we both spoke English—right then and there a friendship was born.

As luck would have it, a week later we discovered her daughter and Micah were in the same class at school. Because of that chance meeting, (or maybe not chance), we both had each other as emergency contacts. Now I get it, three weeks is a little strange for a relationship of trust, but for me moving every two years that’s the norm.

Which got me thinking…about how living abroad brings people of the same culture together, it just does. We all crave something familiar, kids too. I took Maggie to tour a preschool yesterday and it was, let’s just say, very “Swedish. Unstructured by American standards, the children can choose which of the 7 rooms they want to play in and for how long (don’t you wish we could all live like that?). They had rooms for painting, a colorful room for gymnastics, a large area for games and so on…but Maggie’s favorite room was the “pretend” room. Here you could dress up, work in a play kitchen and wear grown-up shoes! So much fun! Maggie was captivated. Of course she was. It took some prodding to get her to leave but the director said this was normal. “Foreign kids often start off in this room,” she explained, “because it’s familiar. It’s what they know and it reminds them of home.” After a few days, she assured, the children begin to explore other rooms.

Having a “safe base” from which to explore is important for anyone’s psyche, no matter the age. But what I’ve learned is that you’ve got to move out of the “pretend room,” you’ve got to force yourself into places and spaces you might not be comfortable with…hmmm…that’s the tough part. But it’s also fun, right? Trying something new.

When I went to the library to look for materials to learn Swedish I happened across a woman from Australia doing the same thing. We began talking and well, you guessed it, we’re friends now. We exchanged numbers and a few days later she and some other English speakers met for Fika, (the Swedish term for going out for a snack/coffee/tea). It was lovely. The six of us couldn’t stop talking. Suddenly all of the stories I’ve told a million times were interesting again and my jokes were funny (and my jokes are never funny). The food was eaten and our drinks gone, but none of us wanted to leave. I think that day we each, in our own way, stepped out to explore, gave something new a chance. It always feels like a risk, but it shouldn’t. It’s been proven to me time and time again, we’re all more alike than different. We each have something to offer and something to learn. That’s how we grow. It’s only when we venture, that something is gained.

Brunch with Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma visiting with guests

Today I had brunch with Yo-Yo Ma. Does that read as crazy as it sounds? No, it’s true! Myself, and Cooper, (and about 100 other people too), were invited to attend a reception to honor the legendary cellist at the US Ambassador’s residence here in Stockholm. It was a gathering to celebrate Yo-Yo Ma’s acceptance of the Polar Music Award—a prize given to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of music. The international award was founded in 1989 by Stig Anderson, the manager of the group ABBA, and since then at least 16 Americans have received the prize, including: Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Issac Stern (yeah, I didn’t know who he was either), Led Zeppelin and this year, also newly awarded, Paul Simon.

The award is prestigious enough—the “Nobel Prize of Music”—but the money ain’t bad either, 1 million SEK, about $144,000 US dollars. Truthfully, I can’t think of a more deserving artist. Yo-Yo Ma was born in Paris to Chinese parents; his mother was a singer, his father a violinist. They moved to New York when he was five years old and that same year he began performing for audiences. By seven he had played for John F. Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower…and it only gets better from there.

His life has been dedicated to bringing cultures together through the language of music, his style ranging from Appalachian inspired rhythms to Baroque classics. I love his soundtracks from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, but we don’t have to argue about which ones best, he has over 75 albums to choose from—15 are Grammy Award winners.

What I loved about meeting Yo-Yo Ma, or anyone you’ve put on a pedestal for that matter, is that you get to see they are real. Yo-Yo Ma cracked jokes, smiled easily and was gracious in his thanks for being part of the event. The event included lots of tasty hor d’oeuvres, and when we all had a drink in hand, Ambassador Brzezinski gave an inspiring speech, concluding with a toast to Yo-Yo Ma. (My virgin mary was excellent.)

Afterward, I spoke with his daughter. She was lovely, warm and friendly, excited to be doing all of the touristy things people do in Stockholm—visiting museums, going shopping in the outdoor markets. When Yo-Yo Ma left with his wife and daughter it had started to rain. He got out his umbrella and we got out ours too. Walking into the deluge, it felt like more than just being out in bad weather…it was me and Yo-Yo Ma in the rain, in the same city, experiencing the same thing! Somehow that was much cooler.

(Jillair, I hope you’re reading this because I thought of you!)

Camelot Moments

I’ve borrowed my title from an article written by Brad Wilcox. The idea he expounds on is that there are moments in life when the sun comes out and the stars align and everything for a moment, feels…well, perfect.

It doesn’t last, but it happens! To quote Wilcox, “Remember the famous line from the musical by Lerner and Loewe? “’Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot.’”

If life were always “Camelot,” could we really appreciate it? Okay, maybe. But rather than mourn the fact it isn’t, we can celebrate the brief interludes when it is, and in more desperate times, conjure up the memories of better days—hence the necessity of a camera.

I was glad I had mine, when Maggie and I stumbled upon Cirkus Scott in downtown Stockholm. Imagine a gigantic circus tent set up along the edge of a park—resembling Central Park in New York City—and just behind the tent were animals resting between their performances: elephants, camels, show ponies. Anyone could walk right up and pet them or step inside their string barrier fence. What in the world? A string fence???

It was slightly alarming but these animals were hopefully trained, right? And used to human contact. They came up to you and I swear looked you in the eye as if they wanted to communicate.

Swede Feeding Elephant

Maggie and I watched an elephant up close for a while as it circled the end of its nose around a patch of grass, effortlessly yanking it from the ground, feeding itself like its nose was a third arm. We were fascinated. We picked grass and fed it to the camels, observing the way their teeth would grind round and round. Since then, Maggie wants to know at dinner if she is chewing like a camel. “Yes,” I tell her, and she smiles.

That day feeding the animals, Maggie running through the wild grass, her surprise at the lumps on the camels back, the sun on her face—I’ll never forget. It was a small moment, not even a trip to the circus, serendipity maybe, but it happened and I have the pictures to prove it. Life isn’t perfect, but for now, it’s just nice knowing some moments are.

Here’s a link to cut and paste into your browser in case you want to read the article by Brad Wilcox. (Someday I’ll get fancy and learn how to post a real link)

I’m not saying my life is hard, it’s just hard for me right now. This is where the “Spirit of Adventure” meets the road. It’s been a gradual build up of things…toilets not working, flying ants in the basement, living in a temporary house with the same Capri pants I packed 10 weeks ago, the British School insisting Jonah be placed in 4th grade (their year 5) because of his birthdate even though as parents were telling them, “No, he already completed 4th grade!”

Arrrgh! Preschool is a whole other hurdle. The fact that it costs as much as college tuition is besides the point, we can’t even find one that will take Maggie. Either they are too far away or full or they never return my calls. Today I tried just showing up at one–Vittra, it’s local and the best option I have, one teacher speaks only English, the other only Swedish–but I think I  flustered them. The administrator was polite but informed me she didn’t have time to discuss fees, nor could she tell me if there was any room. Okay but, if she doesn’t know, who knows? And why is it taking three weeks to know? Sigh… She said she’d email me later.

Basically if you’re not part of the “kommune,”the local government that covers the cost of preschool, it’s incredibly hard to break in from the outside as a private entity. I feel marginalized and disregarded, like no one will take my requests seriously.

To make matters worse (get ready here because I’m about to wax dramatic) I made chocolate chip cookies and they were terrible. That never happens. My comfort food! I know the problem, I didn’t add vanilla but they don’t sell it here. I was desperate. I didn’t think it would matter…waaaaa…but it does….boo hoo!!!

At least I have peanut butter. Cooper returned from a quick trip to the states and brought back the “spoils” of the west…among other things Five gum, Pam cooking spray, Reynolds Wrap (nothing beats it), the toothpaste we love and magazines–at least I can read about the lifestyle I’m not living.

Despite my frustration, I know from experience that in time things improve and if they don’t…we’ll move;) But seriously, there is one thing I have to be grateful for and that is the love and support of wonderful family and friends.

Thank you for letting me rant. Thank you for sympathizing. Thank you for offering advice when you’ve been there before. I couldn’t do it without you!!!

School days are here again

Micah starts school tomorrow. Tomorrow! I thought I had at least a week before I had to think about school supplies. This morning Micah is “practicing” riding the train with Cooper—that is taking public transit. To get to Stockholm International School, Micah will need to take the Lidingo train across the bridge, get on another train into the city, then a third train to go north one stop where he will disembark and walk two city blocks. (I’m nervous just writing about it!) It’s a 7-story, neo-classical building, founded in 1951 by a German woman who began the school as a kindergarten for British families associated with the Embassy. Today it includes up to grade 12 and provides an education for a culturally diverse student population, (at least that’s what the website says), including many of the Americans living in Sweden.

Jonah starts school Monday. He’ll attend the British School, nicknamed Bips, south of the city. It’s a 40-minute bus ride on a school bus that costs more than his tuition. (Here’s where we roll our eyes and say, “Only in Sweden.”) I’m certain Jonah will like it there; it’s lovely and the staff all sound like Mary Poppins—very proper English indeed!

Malachi is working at the American Embassy in the Counselor section, helping to process Visa’s. He’s LOVED work, but will be back in school August 24th when we drive him to Sigtuna—both the name of the town and the boarding school where he’ll be living—and drop him off.  (I’ll be sure to wear waterproof mascara and bring Kleenex.)

Sigtuna School

We visited the school this past weekend, an hour drive north through the countryside. The scenery was beautiful; it reminded me of Pennsylvania—green-rolling hills, lots of forested spaces. Sigtuna is Sweden’s first town; founded in 980 A.D. It’s a quaint medieval village with winding cobblestones streets, some boasting signs of being “original” Viking roads. Tourists come from around the world to see the more than 30 rune stones from the 12th century.

Rune Stone

You can stop by the visitor’s center, like we did, and pick up a map of where to locate the runes then go searching. Most of the large stones, etched and painted with red designs, have posted nearby an explanation telling you why the stone was erected—usually to memorialize a Viking quest or because someone wanted to celebrate himself, like the famous chieftain Jarlabanke, who erected at least five stones to himself during his lifetime. There was however one large stone, circled in red, a cross in the center, that had a touching story attached to it…it’s the only known rune stone erected in memory of two sisters by their brother. I wish I knew the rest of the story…

Cathedral Ruins and cemetery

We had lunch at one of the local cafes, not far from the harbor. We ordered a Swedish specialty—baked potato topped with crème fresh and shrimp. The crème fresh was chock full of fresh herbs and seasonings—delicious. Also on the menu were popular dishes like avocado salad with shrimp and shrimp sandwiches, in fact it was hard not to order something with shrimp.

Walking back to the car we followed the path that took us through the heart of the city—through the cemetery. Being close to the water and cemetery reminded me of the time I vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard with my parents, not at the beach, mind you, but in the cemeteries recording names off headstones. Ever since than I can’t be in a cemetery and not stop to read the headstones. Nordqvist, Lundqvist, Carlson, and Nilsson were just some of the names carved on stones set in well-manicured plots. The cemetery was also a historical site, next to the graves were the remains of two old cathedrals…yes you guessed it, the oldest in all of Sweden. We took pictures than stopped to see the newly built brick church nearby—by new I mean built in 1247. There was a wedding finishing up; the crowd was tossing rice on the bride and groom.

Jonah and Maggie inside of the ruins

Even without the excuse to drive to Sigtuna to see Malachi’s school, it was well worth the trip. Sigtuna is full of history, small and charming, yet vibrant with life. I’m planning to spend more time there this winter on some of our weekend trips to get Malachi. There’s a woman in a shop that sells the most beautiful organic yarns that’s promised to teach me how to knit. The yarns are draped along old stonewalls—grays and mauves and plenty of bright colors too. Along one wall there’s a brick fireplace filled with flickering candlelight—charming. It seems the perfect hobby for a long cold winter.

Forest Cathedral–a poem

Forest in Lidingo, Sweden

The forest floor glows,
like a crystallized kingdom.

Moss of golden green,

clings to whatever it can.

The smell of damp earth,

after the rain fills my breath.

It is the memory of something…

distant, peaceful.

The sunlight trickles down,
dotting pinecones,


a tiny black beetle

and so much wild clover.

The trees, straight as steeples,
rise high and I…

I bow my head backward,

Below a young pine has taken root.

In time…

It too will join this vast cathedral.

by Lana Wimmer

I can’t help myself. Whenever I see trees I hear Sigourney Weaver’s voice,

“Trees, among the most significant of all living things…”

If you haven’t watched Planet Earth you need to. She narrates the 11 episode series that garnered worldwide attention just a few years back. Each segment is 50-minutes long and dedicated to exploring a different biome or habitat of the Earth. It is a wonder of nature and a testament of epic proportion to how amazing and mysterious our planet truly is.

My hope, however,  is that this documentary will not become a historical film about what used to exist. When I read reports of fish turning belly up and dying in overheated mid-western streams, I worry. Protecting the place where we live should be a priority, right??? I mean…after all, if you don’t have a planet, where are you going to live?

Whether you’ve seen the documentary or not or just have an opinion about how we can preserve the planet, I’d love hear your thoughts….

Grocery Shopping

The good news is our air shipment is arriving tonight, ahead of schedule. The bad news is…it’s wet. They’re bringing it early because they’re concerned it could be damaged. 900 lbs of everything we deemed most essential to have in country before the rest of our household goods arrived, in other words, our best stuff. Well…no use worrying…I’m still celebrating our first take-out pizza. Two thin crust “family size” pizzas for 400 SEK. Swedish Kroner. (To convert, divide by 7.) In American currency that’s…yep, $57.00. It’s the most expensive pizza I’ve ever eaten and I wish I could say it was the best. There were seven pepperoni, almost zero cheese, and the center was soggy. Still, outside of our anniversary dinner, it was the first meal I didn’t have to cook and that was something to celebrate!

We’re limited in options here on the island. They won’t allow fast food—it’s not healthy—and most people don’t eat out weeknights because it’s expensive. Stockholm is just across the bridge with plenty of restaurants to choose from, even McDonald’s if you’re desperate, but then you have to figure in the bridge toll. I’d rather it be a bridge troll. Until a few days ago, we didn’t know there was a camera taking pictures of our license plate each time we traveled the 800-meter (about 1/2 a mile) stretch. Even though there is only one road off the island, you pay about 7-8 dollars to cross, one way. A train ticket will cost you the same. There is a free alternative, biking or running. I’ve seen women in nice dresses on bikes; grandma’s juggling shopping baskets, men jogging with backpacks, (their work clothes inside). Now I know why. I’ve been driving Cooper to and from work, morning and evening. So what’s that…like $30 a day? If nothing else the toll inspires people to exercise. I’ve yet to see a fat Swede even though they eat so much bread and cheese!!!

I’m starting to get the hang of grocery shopping. I remember now to keep a 10 Kroner coin in my purse (that’s what it costs to borrow a cart…divide by 7 it’s about $1.30).  I keep bags in my car, most of the time anyway, because you have to pay for those too. I know a kyckling is chicken and detergent is rengøringmedel and ham is shinka.  Our latest trip we we’re all so hungry our cart was overflowing with fruits and vegetables, pasta, rice, Coke Light, milk, juice, snacks…I also stocked up on cleaning supplies. I wouldn’t be telling you this except for the fact you need to understand, for the story to make sense; we had A LOT of stuff—the most stuff I’ve bought since we’ve arrived. The idea was to do a big shopping trip and not have to go back for at least a couple of days.

So we get to the checkout–a narrow conveyor belt about half the width of an America one–and the woman wearing wool gloves and a coat sitting at the register gives us an odd stare. (I should mention they don’t heat the grocery store and it’s freezing. If I had winter attire I’d wear it too.) The woman starts passing things over the sensor onto the next conveyor belt as I unpack and suddenly I realize the conveyor belt on the other side never stops. I mean if you have, say a bag of peaches and then a 12-pack of Coke coming down the line, those peaches are going to get smashed. Add to that the cleaner, a large laundry detergent box and so on and you’ll have yourself peach sauce.

We hurried with our empty bags, scurrying to pack. I felt like Lucy when she and Ethel were working at the candy factory…remember that episode? They couldn’t pack the chocolates fast enough so they began stuffing them in their mouths. It was a miracle nothing broke or spilled. We finished and I paid the $2,189 SEK—I didn’t do the math, and left.

Pushing the cart to the car of course was another challenge. For one thing the pavement to the parking lot slopes and for another the wheels on the cart go in every direction. Imagine a cart with 4 bum wheels. As Jonah remarked, “We have to pay for this?!” In two weeks the boys go back to school, typically a time I look forward to, but selfishly I’m thinking, I’m going to have to do this all by myself AND with Maggie?  Well…we could always order pizza.

Pride Goeth Before the Fall

I should have learned my lesson in fourth grade…but some of us are slower than others. Back then I was desperate for clogs, not just any clogs—clogs with heels. Missy Scanzoni had the perfect clogs that clapped when she walked and made her look taller, prettier and most important of all, older.  I asked my mom if I could have shoes like Missy Scanzoni and her response was “Absolutely not,” or something to that end. (She was a smart and practical mom.) But somehow I knew I needed to wear those shoes. I hatched a plan. I convinced Missy to trade shoes during recess. I gave her some sparkly unicorn stickers, along with my sneakers, and she handed me her clogs. The moment was magical. Like Cinderella getting the glass slipper. I put them on and instantly I was beautiful; elegant, I could even run in them—ha, what did my mom know? I made sure everyone on the playground saw me wearing them. As I traipsed around the swings and jungle gym, I thought to myself, the next day we’ll trade again—I had plenty of stickers.

But when the bell rang and I started back to class, my foot caught on a tree root. Ouch! My ankle turned. I wanted to cry. I couldn’t walk. The teacher and my best friend Hilary Donahue had to carry me to the nurse’s office. They called my mom before I had time to explain. “No, no, these aren’t my shoes!” I still had on Missy’s clogs! When the story was all told, the nurse called the teacher, the teacher called Missy. It was a big hullabaloo. Worst of all, the sympathy I’d gotten for my sprained ankle was gone. Everyone was mad. I was just the silly girl who wore someone else’s shoes—really not so cool when you put it that way…gross! I spent the next day at home in recovery, drinking Tang, eating bagels, watching Gilligan’s Island (it wasn’t so bad).

My first day back at school, after we had stood for the Pledge, a voice came over the loudspeaker, “Recently we had a student injured during recess because she traded shoes. There will be no more trading shoes during school.” I must have turned a thousand shades of red as I melted into my desk. (I don’t remember much of fourth grade after that.)

But something about time heals old wounds…and makes us forget. This time it wasn’t Missy’s clogs I longed for, it was my sister Keri’s shoe collection—the best, most amazing, most fantastic collection of platform heels you’d ever hope to own. Hot pink, leopard print, every shade of green you can imagine (her favorite color), some she’d even dyed herself with a Sharpie pen to match the color of an outfit (she’s so clever), boots four inches off the ground. I’d been wearing flats for years, missing out on all this fashionista fun! Why not get some summer sandals with a platform heel? I’m almost 40, my mom can’t say, “no!”

I bought a pair of sandals—white cloth across the toe, knotted with a rosebud print from the 1950’s. They’re adorable! The platform heel, 3 inches high, makes me tall enough I can almost look straight into Cooper’s eyes. Yesterday was the first time I wore them to Church. For three hours I knew they’d be comfortable enough. No problem. I walked slowly, but that didn’t matter, I need to be reverent, right? The new vantage point was incredible. I was towering. I didn’t care about looking older, (like I did in fourth grade), I did believe, however they made me look thinner!

Driving home from Church, Cooper mentioned he got a lead on a house for rent on the island, (we’re still searching.) We decided to stop by the address and what do you know, the owner was outside gardening. How lucky! He told Cooper we should take a look. I hurried out of the car as he reached to shake my hand. I stepped onto the gravel driveway and suddenly my ankle turned. The elderly gentleman did what he could to grab hold as I teetered sideways. If not for his grip I would have surely gone down hard on the sharp stones. He lectured me afterwards, (like a trained parent), warning of rocks and shoes with heels. It sounded familiar. Thoughts of clogs, Missy Scanzoni, and my mother’s stern but always loving face came rushing back to mind. So did the embarrassment of being clumsy.

I spent the evening with frozen vegetables on my ankle along with my essential oils—lemongrass and deep blue. I kept my foot elevated, wishing I had Tang and bagels, worried this injury was going to stop me from hiking the trails. I wanted sympathy, but it was hard to accept when I knew it was my own darn fault. So much for fashion and my pride. I think maybe I learned my lesson this time. (Mom you were right.) The next time I see something that I’m sure will make me prettier, thinner or more amazing, it just better not come with a three-inch heel.