I’m A Bricklayer Too

Chateau Laroche, Loveland, OH

I am a bricklayer by trade. I build walls because the act of laying brick by brick gives me a point of focus, a fulfilling purpose. I build walls because they make me feel safe. I build walls to prevent possible threats from the outside, however walls cannot protect me from voices that lie within.

Happiness can only truly be found in the present and yet it is so easy to let our minds live in the past or according to an unseen future. With the same appeal of lacing up an old, beat up pair of converse, our thoughts habitually return to that familiar place of comfort.

Locked safely inside an impenetrable box or free to roam the earth as I please one thing is certain, I will remain. I can no sooner escape from myself whether I’m wearing four inch stiletto heels or footwear suited for running.

I was once under the impression that if I picked up and moved again, started over in a new place by my own hand, I would find happiness. Happiness would spring up out of the greener grass in which I planted my fresh seedlings.

I have come to realize that happiness is not a memory, a destination nor a permanent state of being. It is a choice I make for myself every single moment of every single day. It is a choice to accept who I am and where I am and make peace with the things I can and cannot change.

In theory, building walls can seem like a full-proof plan. I’m sending a reminder that not only will those walls at no time protect you from yourself, but walls are excellent at obscuring goodness. In an effort to anticipate danger, you risk blocking out the sunlight.

I know the dark whispers you keep, for I hear them just as clearly. I can’t intercept the messages reaching your ears, but I can write you a letter confessing that you are not alone in your struggle. I’ll keep writing, if you promise to keep fighting.


The Curious Owl


My encounter with the Curious Owl happened while I was on one of my favorite local walking/running trails. I had been running at an area on the trail under heavy tree cover and ahead of me I noticed two people standing, looking and pointing at something in the trees above. I was on a mission to keep my pace so I didn’t pause to see what had them spellbound. I kept running and as I passed underneath the spot they were staring at, I remember hearing movement not far behind me.

After I finished my loop, I was cooling down with a walk around the parking lot when suddenly I heard a perturbed sounding female voice yell, “Excuse me!” Surely this person can’t be talking to me, I thought. I kept walking. “Excuse me! Were you the one that was just running in the woods?” Ok, maybe she is talking to me. I stopped and turned around expecting a confrontation, “Yeah,” I answered matter of factly.

The woman struggled to speak as if she were out of breath, exasperated by the fact she couldn’t get her words out quick enough, “Well, we just had to tell you,” she motioned toward her male companion… “when you went running by us, we were watching two owls in the trees and when you ran past, the baby one swooped down right next to your head. We think it was after your ponytail, like maybe it thought it was a squirrel or something.”

Thinking back to that moment I imagine I looked quite perplexed scratching my head and searching the empty air around me hoping to happen upon a few floating words. I remained silent wondering what to say given this…unexpected information. When my words finally decided to assemble themselves into an intelligible sequence I said, “I wonder if it’s a sign.”

“Well I don’t know, but we just had to tell you that.” I stood rooted to the green patch of grass I was standing on as I watched the couple turn and walk towards their vehicle and drive off.

As I crawled in my car to leave I couldn’t help but think about how odd the occurrence was. Certainly it couldn’t be a common experience, the owl itself or the way in which I learned of its presence.

I had questions. What do you do when you have questions that need to be answered? Google. I typed some version of owls and symbolism in the search bar. I came away with two pieces of information. The first described a more well-known depiction; the owl is commonly used in our culture to represent wisdom or knowledge. The second explanation I uncovered described how in some cultures the owl served as a warning for death or tragedy. Fantastic. Nice to know I brought death upon someone all because I had to go running through the woods.

With this new information and my ongoing battle to try and keep looking toward the positive— I decided that if it had been a sign from the universe, I was going to view it as a positive one. What does any of this actually mean? I choose to see it as this: Be like the young, curious owl. Let go of the sturdy branch on which you cling and take flight, even if it means risking a mistake.

A few days later I was retelling the story to my dad, including my google search. As we sat on the back of his box truck discussing it, an idea occurred to me. Seeking wisdom and knowledge of the world and of myself would in a way— lead to the death of the person I once was to make room for the newly enlightened one. One might call it a death without tragedy.


Real Life Magic


As I stepped into the expansive room, I was instantly washed over by the subtle, playful sound of big band music bouncing its way out of a hidden speaker and into my ears. The golden glow of the late afternoon sunlight drifted through the floor-to-ceiling windows and shined unselfishly over more than a dozen colorfully glazed motorcars born in the 1920’s and 30’s. What was once a stunning showroom displaying new, locally designed and manufactured cars, is now a glamorous snapshot of a time period passed.

It was the perfect setting for a new wife and husband to celebrate and share with their loved ones, the cheerful beginning of a new journey. Weddings have the unique ability to reach up towards the sky, and bring us closer to the stars. The buzzing aura of electricity ignites a spark lighting a path to something bigger; Love of every shade and shape, Faith in things we cannot hold in the palms of our hands, and a bright flash of Hope. Dreams don’t seem so far out of reach, the fog doesn’t seem quite so thick, the world doesn’t seem so cruel. It seems, if only for a brief moment, even the most shadowed of minds can find themselves believing. Believing that worthwhile and impossible things are possible.

Real life magic.

I had the honor, privilege and pleasure to be included.




The wedding reception was held at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn, Indiana. It is a National Historic Landmark.

What I wore:

Dress by J Crew Mercantile

Wedges by Nine West

On my lips is MAC Lip Pencil in Cherry (completely filled in) then a layer of MAC Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo






I Like To Keep My Options Open

If someone were to ask me to describe my style I would most likely experience immediate onset of visible discomfort complete with raised brows, showing of teeth and one hand scratching a non-existent itch on my rumpled forehead. Next would surely come an attempt at stringing together some descriptive words and names of stores I like to shop, stirred in with several kind of’s, sort of’s, a little bit’s and a few uuuhhh’s stitched haphazardly in between.

If someone were to ask me to describe my style in one word I would say, “No.”

No matter how hard I try to keep things simple, I just can’t seem to stick to one style, one genre of clothing. Never will I ever say, “Nope, I’ll never wear a purple and pink, polka dot, silk ruffle-sleeve blouse.” I like to keep my options open, that’s the beauty of fashion. Nothing is off limits. It’s what I make it.

I got to thinking about those magazines that showcase a series of five or six different outfits under $100 categorized by one’s lifestyle. You know the pages…usually titled in big, bold print—sporty, trendy, life of the party, librarian, lion tamer, lumberjack. God knows I love me a good flannel. Ok, so I got a little carried away with the L’s. Is every woman expected to claim their rightful place as some version of a newly invented spice girl? Do we really need to slap a label on everything? I flip through each page and think to myself, “Not me, not me, not me, not me. Oh! But I love this top,” flip to the next outfit, “this bag and oooh yes, those shoes!” I think, “I’m not any one of these, I’m all of them and more.” ***Sips wine followed by a hair flip for good measure.

I go through phases where I obsess over a certain look and purchase pieces accordingly, and in the end those pieces get thrown into my Mary Poppins grab bag of a closet and shine proudly amongst all the other misfit children. I want to wear a pretty floral print dress with my converse, and I want to wear a blazer over my hooded sweatshirt with a pair of heeled sandals. (I would also be wearing pants in that scenario.)

Although I enjoy collecting items from several unique platforms, there is one common theme I tend to gravitate towards, comfortable and casual. I have a look that I often fall back on. (I think we all do, don’t we?) When I’m not feeling particularly motivated to be creative or I just want to live in my simplest form, I have a go to.

It’s impossible for me to choose one style to express myself, and the good news is, I don’t have to. Neither do you.

It’s ok to switch up your look without feeling like you’re overstepping some imaginary boundary, or worrying that you’re trying to be someone you’re not. After all, you are a multifaceted, multidimensional being, your closet should have permission to be also. If you like something, regardless of how it fits in with the rest of your wardrobe, you should wear it. Bury thoughts like, “it’s not normally something I would wear,” in the ground with the old Taylor. Get that thing out, whatever it is and strut that good-good down the middle of the f****** street. Sidewalk, if you live on a busy one.

Thanks for reading.

Dirty Work

I need a shovel.
Someone get me a shovel.
Please, quickly, I’m begging you!
Get me a shovel!

Will anyone stop this relentless slinging of dirt?

Clawing at the walls with soiled nails. Suffocating from dust filled lungs. Tasting bitter, hand-sown layers of the purest, natural earth.

With my spade to the ground, I stamp my foot down and slice the blade through. My arms heavy with the weight of my burden, lift a shovel’s worth and toss it away. My calloused palms tighten their grip. I repeat: Stamp my foot, slice the surface, lift and toss.

I hear a hissing. “Your efforts are wasted.”

Stamp, slice, lift, toss…
I mop my forehead with a swipe of my arm.
Stamp, slice, lift, toss…

I hear the sound a second time. The s’s are drawn-out like a serpents coil just before striking. “Go ahead, dig faster. Your sweat will only turn the soil into mud.”

Stamp, slice, lift, toss…
My body aches with every exertion of my energy.
Stamp, slice, lift, toss…

The voice finds its way in, “What do you hope to unearth that hasn’t already been dredged up?”

Stamp my foot on the metal edge, slice the surface, lift and toss…
Stamp, slice, lift, toss…

“Foolish undertaking. The holes you dig will bury you.”

Stamp, slice, lift, toss…
Stamp, slice, lift, toss…




Why Do I Write?


Incredible, isn’t it—that we are able to explain what the mind imagines with a pen or keyboard? If you think about it, there is a hell of a lot of time and space between our brain and our fingertips. I like to think that extra distance is a gift. I’m able to express thoughts and ideas in a way I am not capable otherwise; streaming out the words one by one with clarity and conviction much like a fierce water current.

Often my writing serves as a form of therapy. My mind is a churning, boiling pot of thoughts and providing it with a point of focus allows steam to escape through to freedom. A break from the constant sloshing, I like how my writing seems to keep me in the present moment. Recently, I was introduced to a quote from Lao Tzu that says, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

Even if I’m writing about a memory from the past or an idea about the future, my brain chooses to focus on the words. I focus on the way in which I sew them together, the art of writing. And so I stay in my skin, in my body, in the chair I sit. In the moment. Focus for a busy brain is like the sensation felt after removing a heavy backpack from one’s shoulders: relief.

Writing is my friend, my colleague and my coach. It reminds me that I’m intelligent, thoughtful and authentic. It challenges me to be bold, to take chances, to be creative and to have a voice when my vocal chords fail me. It teaches me lessons about life, about others, about myself while bathing me in sunlight and pouring water down into my roots; forever supporting and encouraging my stalk to grow taller.

Writing gives me the opportunity to feel like I’m serving a greater purpose. If I fold my genuine, honest, passionate and love-filled work into a paper airplane and send it flying out into the universe, I feel that for the most part only good things can come from it. I aim to see it as I’m doing my part to spread good in the world no matter how small or insignificant I feel at times.

Happiness is found in the thrill of stringing the right words together to mean exactly what I’m thinking, in an artfully crafted fashion. It is in the smug smile brought to my mouth after using a word correctly based on its definition before I’ve checked it on dictionary.com. Happiness is in the eternal hope that another person may feel something from words on a page. From my words.

If you think about it, there is a hell of a lot of time and space between my words on a page and the brain of another human being. Incredible, isn’t it—the idea that my own creation could be the source of inspiration in another, given the distance?