My 4 rules of thumb, learned the hard way.

Photo by FitNish Media on Unsplash

Several Fridays ago, at the end of my work day and a long work week of helping kids manage their behavioral issues, I was exhausted. I had a headache. I did not feel like getting ready to go out for my usual Friday run.

I gave myself all kinds of excuses. I was considering a “rest” day. Yet, based on my many years of running, I knew I was being too easy on myself.

I forced myself to go.

I ended up running faster than usual. I felt light, lifted up. By the time I got back, my headache had…


Actually, a lot is in a name.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I never liked my given name.

My surname took up tons of pages in the phone book where I was born and grew up. It’s ordinary.

My first name came from my paternal grandmother. It’s boring.

My middle name came from my maternal grandmother. I was very close to her, but the form of her name that became my middle name I just do not care for.

When I was born, my parents decided to call me by my first and middle names together.

Ugh.

The older I got, the more it became clear to me that I didn’t love…


I get what you're saying here, but I feel the need to say that the amount of prevention campaigns already in existence, and for many decades, has not been enough to make much of a dent in the issue of sexual assault and sexual abuse. Awareness and prevention are crucial, yes. However, we do have monsters living among us, who've been allowed to become monsters. Impunity gives them permission to continue doing what they've gotten away with, and honestly, once they have, they think it's okay to do what they've done. I speak from experience. I know four men out…


Thank you for taking the time and due diligence to write this article, Jessica. It almost brought tears to my eyes to revisit what happened to HRC's campaign and the destructive years that followed and continue to haunt us, and so sadly, influence our future as a country. I am with you on all of this. We just need to keep writing it and speaking it, teaching it and reaching out to those who are open to the actual truth.


Oh, how it benefits the kids who need that kind of love!

Festive Finny, my sons’ dog (Photo by Author)

All the research says that getting a dog for your children, as long as you can provide adequate supervision and don’t travel a lot, offers many positive benefits. It encourages responsibility in children, builds their ability to trust, and teaches compassion for another being.

Most of all, a dog can make kids feel loved when they need it the most. That’s what Finny did for mine.

I did not grow up with pets. My brothers had gerbils that eventually died due to lack of care. My youngest sibling, my sister, had a guinea pig that she adored. But there was…


I now know how it might be possible.

My daughter and me, when she was 2 and I was younger than she is now. (Photo provided by author.)

It was my adult daughter’s birthday yesterday. I texted her, wished her a happy birthday, told her I love her.

We argued a few days ago, her in New York, and me in California. It doesn’t take much for us to start. This particular conflict grew out of a difference of opinion about the Covid vaccine.

I realize that I spend a lot of time and energy trying to understand why my daughter and I do not get along. She is my only daughter. I have not struggled in my relationships with my sons as I have with my daughter…


The anxiety and sadness I wasn’t prepared for.

Photo by Elly Johnson on Unsplash

I had the second dose of the vaccine on February 1st of this year. My position in behavioral health care allowed me into the first tier. I seized the opportunity. The opportunity to worry a lot less about getting the virus, and exposing others.

I had to wait for everyone else to catch up, however. First, my elderly parents were vaccinated, then my sisters and brothers, two of my three children, and the majority of my nieces and nephews. …


It needs to be acknowledged.

Man walking alone on a beach with his head down in sadness
Man walking alone on a beach with his head down in sadness
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

It haunts me to think of the stories I’ve read and continue to read about women who’ve been traumatized — sexually, emotionally, and often physically — by men. I myself have written and shared some of my own experiences.

However, not much seems to be written about the fact that when men abuse women, they hurt other men: the men who care about those women.

Women have fathers, brothers, male friends, husbands, boyfriends. Women have sons. We need to be mindful that these men are traumatized when the women they love are hurt.

I want to acknowledge those men here.


The only thing that works for me.

spiral notebook with stickers on it and a pen next to it
spiral notebook with stickers on it and a pen next to it
Photo by Author (Journal #7)

My second-grade teacher told my mother I was good at creative writing. Encourage her to keep doing it, she told my mom. My mom remembered this when I was well into my adult life. In fact, my kids were beyond second grade when she finally shared that.

I found my second-grade report card. My mom was right.

In high school, when I got the same scores on my SATs, fairly high, in both the math and verbal sections, only the math button went off in my father’s head. …


It lasts a lifetime, but it can be done.

The ocean and mountains of Big Sur
The ocean and mountains of Big Sur
Photo of Big Sur by Author

My first attempt at training for a marathon was a huge fail. Inserted between my second and third child (they’re 2 years apart), my body said nope. I thought maybe a marathon just wasn’t for me.

Several years later, in graduate school, I started increasing my mileage with a friend of mine until he said, “Why don’t you just train for a marathon?”

I considered his question and signed up for the Big Sur Marathon, two years in a row. Never made it to either one. I lived in Pennsylvania. Big…

Merre Larkin

Writer and avid reader. Teacher of writing. Trauma-informed counselor. Marathoner. Survivor. Here to share, here to learn.

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