I Feel Like the Hulk. 03-24-21


I feel like the hulk, kind, unassuming and mild mannered until the smallest thing triggers unbridled wrath. I am angry 99.8% of the time. Only those who live in my house are actually unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of it. My closest circle of friends hear about it. After a particularly bad outburst I will tell them honestly about what happened, how bad I feel about it and the resultant broken hearts and household appliances that suffered because of it.

Anger for me means: at least I’m actively engaged in the current battle set before me. I’m battling against the fact that I have all these negative emotions, that I can’t control or get rid of.

I choose to avoid

I don’t want to feel fear, pain, depression, sadness etc. Who does? So I avoid those feelings at all costs, and when I can’t avoid them, I actively try to get rid of them. I’m exhausted from the constant battle of trying eliminate them, and because I don’t allow myself to feel them they persist and get bigger. The cycle repeats. Repeats. Repeats.

When the avoiding stops working I spring into action, run out on the battle field of warring emotions and stare down the weaker ones first. I defiantly confront sadness and say “Ha ha ha, I’m happy. See, I’m laughing, therefore I am NOT sad”. It’s a lie, but it covers the sadness for a brief time. I draw my sword against the moderately intimidating ones like the hopelessness embedded in chronic physical pain. It’s moderately intimidating because it’s a constant companion and doesn’t pull any shocking new punches. Rather it’s like a low hum of traffic outside your bedroom window that without it, you couldn’t fall asleep but with it, keeps you awake. For these moderately negative emotions I pull out all the coping mechanisms I’ve learned. Meditation, yoga, alcohol, legal and illegal drugs, zoning out on TikTok, binge watching hundreds of episodes of mindless television and out of desperation to feel some relief, appointments for massage, chiropractic care and holistic doctors. All that activity is merely desperation to escape the hopelessness that coexists with chronic pain, disguised as self care and at least some type of activity.

For what I consider severe negative emotions; fear, anxiety, overwhelm and panic, I opt to hurdle over them and immediately transform them into anger. Here is how it happens, I experience a trigger and instead of actually feeling fearful, anxious, overwhelmed or panicking, I bypass all that and turn into the Hulk. Picture here the Hulk writhing on the floor in mental anguish while desperately fighting to gain control of the anger that is positioned to overcome him, yet and still with a glimmer, a hint of remembrance of the gentle and mild mannered Dr. Bruce Banner being violently smothered by rage. A small word like “why” or “how”, can be the trigger that incites screaming, swearing and slamming my fists on whatever is nearby. If I’m told a detailed story of injustice or unethical behavior toward another, I behave myself long enough to hear what I think are the important components of the story and then blind rage takes over and the behavior repeats. All that just to circumvent feeling the negativity of fear, anxiety, overwhelm, sadness and depression. It’s exhausting.

The result of all that avoidance, is anger always simmering just beneath the surface ready to break through at the smallest sign of inequity or unfairness. Upon further introspection I discovered that mostly I get angry that I can’t conquer the negative feelings. I’m angry that all my fighting and striving does nothing to change my emotions to positive and happy ones. Then I feel trapped by all the negativity and that I am powerless to do anything about it, to effect change. The point when I recognize that I have no control resets the entire process and the battle starts again.

In summary, I don’t want to feel fear, pain, depression or sadness etc. So I righteously engage in battle in an attempt to eradicate those feelings. Because I don’t allow myself to feel them, they remain. They are quieted for a time but they persist like water in a pan on a stove set to a low heat, they simmer. Then because they are ignored the cycle continues. I encounter a feeling that doesn’t feel good, I fight the feeling, I despair and grow weary due to the constant, never ending battle of trying to dispose of the feelings. Eventually like the water in the pan my will power and patience run out and with nowhere else to go the heat consumes the pan and it permanently damages the pan. In this case I risk permanently damaging relationships and the toll it takes on my own body manifests like a charred, burnt unusable pan.

Solution? Maybe.

Sit with the fear, anxiety, dread, sadness, depression. Don’t ignore it, avoid it or even try to change it. Recognize it. Acknowledge it. Let it sit in your presence, pay attention to it. Negative feelings are a divinely created early warning system that something is wrong. Don’t strive and fight to get rid of it and get somewhere else. Because the mere attempt to control it, avoid it, dismiss it and ultimate failure to control it fuels the burning rage. The feeling must be felt, not suppressed, ignored or destroyed. It demands attention – so give it it’s due.

If all that is true…

How do I coexist with all those emotions? How do I find rest and peace in the negativity and pain? When fear anxiety sadness and depression present themselves, how do I not fight? How do I not strive to get a “better” emotion?

Asking God through lots of tears – He says “Trust”. Fear needs to trigger trust instead of a fight or flight response. (this applies to fear that is created in the mind and not from an outside source like someone attacking you). Anxiety, let it prompt you to find trust. Overwhelm = trust. Sadness = trust. Depression = trust. Trust, that God will be with you and deliver you eventually from those things that trigger the fear anxiety, overwhelm, sadness and depression.

I will learn

I don’t know how I will do this. I will learn though. Because if I don’t, I will destroy my health, my family, my friendships, my business, and my work relationships.

The first step in learning this concept for me is this:
Each time a negative emotion presents itself it’s usually easiest to notice the anger first. Stop mid outburst and say out loud “HEY anger what are you really about”? Then go through the list with yourself ask your own brain, are you scared, anxious, sad, overwhelmed, depressed? Then wait until your brain has a chance to answer. Give it just a few seconds, don’t worry it’s smart – it will answer quickly. Then have a conversation with the answer. For example if your answer is fear – ask the fear some questions, what exactly are you afraid of? Is that true? Once you find the answer usually the anger becomes a faded old balloon that is floating away because it doesn’t care if you recognize it or not.
Example conversation that I recently had: the details and the participants in the conversation are literally irrelevant so I will cut to the chase and make it a bit generic.

Him: Are you sure? Why do you have to do it that way?
Him: Dang, what did I say? All I did was ask a question.
Me: I’m scared.
Me: What are you scared of?
Me: I’m afraid that I made a mistake, that I hired the wrong consultant, that I wasted precious time and money only to find the wrong answer and did the task wrong.
Me: And what if that’s true?
Me: Then I made a mistake and will have to try again.
Me: Yeah, that sucks, is that the worst that can happen?
Me: No. It could be much much worse. I could have ignored the initial problem and never even attempted to solve it, the consequences of that would be much worse.
Me: Do you have to be so mad at yourself and take it out on him?
Me: No, I could be more gentle with myself and understand I’m not perfect and am doing the best I can with what I’ve got. I could give myself a little grace and patience while I work out the solution and understand that his question “are you sure – why do you have to do it that way” is literally just a question, not an indictment or condemnation.
Me: Where is your anger now? It’s floating away.
Me: Feel better? Yes.
Me: Why do you feel better?
Me: Because I let my fear exist, I gave it a voice and let it be recognized. I didn’t ignore it, dismiss it or try to obliterate it. I addressed it.
Me: Thanks for letting me do that out loud.
Him: Sure, now can you answer the question?

Can you feel the calm after that conversation?

My anger is fueled by the presence of emotions that don’t feel good. Fear, anxiety, overwhelm, sadness, depression. The anger rises up when I try to eliminate the emotions. I can’t eliminate them they exist for a reason. I have to feel them. To not allow myself to feel all those emotions is to deny myself. Deny the very fact that I am alive, feel things strongly and have a right to those feelings. The feelings are caused by how I perceive the circumstances. Understanding that I cannot change most of the circumstances but only how I react to them is the beginning of recognizing and acknowledging the negative emotions that lead to anger.

What now?

At this juncture eliminating the feelings shouldn’t be the goal. Recognizing them. Acknowledging them. Letting them be an early warning system signaling that I’m going to have to initiate an exercise to engage the feelings, not a battle to destroy them.

Where does my faith fit in? In short, I’m not alone in this exercise. I have my God who is wholly interested in my well being along side me through all this, giving me the wisdom, ability and strength to discover the process, show me how to walk through the process and feel the peace from it.

Weeping With Jesus


We do not weep alone.

Urban Hallelujah


Perched high on a balcony, taking in my last New York City sunset, I admitted to God what I could no longer hide: that in spite of everything I was eternally grateful for, I really was just so, so sad…

That in simply a mere year and a half of living on the East Coast – the place where God had so clearly led my family and me – I had seemingly lost everything I held most dear.

With tears streaming down my face, I watched as the setting sun painted majestic hues above the East River sky, and I questioned aloud if such beauty could ever be restored in my life…my home…my heart…or my marriage…

But it was then that I realized: God wept with me.

There’s a story told in the Gospel of John in which Mary and Martha lost something precious to them also – their brother…

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If I Could Write You A Letter…


Because darkness doesn’t discriminate.

Urban Hallelujah

tutu in central park

If I could write you a letter…

I’d start by acknowledging the bitter, cold truth that no matter the strength of the relationship built, nor the good intentions expressed, or even the pinky-promises exchanged, everyone has the capacity to let you down. Everyone! And you can either be anchored in that reality or crippled by it. May you choose to love fearlessly anyway…

I’d tell you that while you’ll spend the first quarter of your life searching tirelessly for the person you’re going to marry, that you will likely spend the rest of it working TWICE as hard to stay married. And upon realizing this, you will likely want to right hook Cinderella to the throat for not telling you such a thing! And believe me, you wouldn’t be the first one…

I’d tell you that no amount of makeup, self-tanner, or fake eyelashes can make you feel worthy enough after a broken heart (and that at…

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Tattoos, panting and wardrobe discord


I put on a few pounds over the winter. I wasn’t too worried about it, summer does eventually come in Minnesota and I knew I’d soon be out playing in the sun, and comfort foods would take a back seat to days that the lake, hiking, and biking my favorite trails.
But, my clothes don’t fit quite right, just a little pulling and tugging in areas that last summer didn’t pull and tug.

On one of my excursions out of doors, I was immediately faced with several wardrobe malfunctions and a hair tie emergency. While facing these challenges I was passed by a couple of bicyclists. One had all white hair, and the oddest looking tattoo on her calf. It occurred to me that we are fast approaching if not already in a generation of adults and old people that have many and ridiculous tattoo’s and bear names like Trevor, Hunter, Destiny and Tiffany. Imagine it, adults with these names. In about 5 years we’ll be introduced to a line up of Chloe, Zoe, Tyler, Conner and Noahs. Don’t get me wrong, I love tattoo’s. I have one, and want more. I admire them, some of them are amazing works of art, and others obvious expressions of bad bad decision making.
Back to my wardrobe malfunctions.


True to form at precisely the same moment I was attempting to discreetly remove my ill fitting shorts from places no man has gone before, I was passed by a rather attractive and fit young man bounding up the hill like a gazelle. Slightly embarrassed, I began to whistle along to the song playing in my ear buds. You know, to demonstrate my cardiac endurance and that just because I was walking and slightly panting didn’t mean that my lungs weren’t capable of such exertions. To my delight as I reached mile one, I hit my groove, I loosened up, my stride lengthened and I began to walk faster. Which in turn increased the number and frequency of my clothing glitches.
Step, step, pull, grab, step, step, step, twist, yank…repeat.
At this point I consider running just to end this screw up of a workout, but I quickly recall that I wore a “walking” bra, not a “running” bra. So all the ladies out there know how that works out.

Why is it when you are battling all these issues, including the hair tie breaking which causes your beautiful long tresses to be glued to the back of your overly sweaty neck, you are passed by the tiny little zero? You know who I am talking about. The size zero, with her flat stomach and non existent evidence that she just gave birth to that adorable infant in the stroller that she pushes while prancing past you. Oh yeah, and she was wearing pink (always with the pink), there is ALWAYS a bobbing pony tail too, and is that a sports bra you’ve got to be kidding me – you don’t need one honey, it’s just that, there’s not…never mind. Don’t get your undies in a bundle (and not just because mine already are), I’m really just jealous that I didn’t look like that after my pregnancy…twins…they wreaked much havoc on my body. I don’t care how old they are…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

jogging stroller

Was that an iced coffee in the cup holder?
Step, step, pull, grab, step, step, step, yank, twist, step.

Music is key in any exercise routine. It can speed you up, slow you down, motivate you, make you cry, or cause a spontaneous dance party mid workout. I particularly enjoy the songs that start out with intros that have rain storms or leaves rustling or babies cooing. They always illicit a certain reaction in me. Hearing these among the passing traffic, real birds and barking dogs, I invariably presume there is a heinous attacker about to overtake me and leave me for dead. So I quickly spin around to face them so they know…that I KNOW they are there, I make eye contact and look determined and fierce, only to meet the air.

Pull shorts down and out…resume walking activities.

With all my chafing skin, dripping sweat, pulling and tugging.
How come I didn’t notice? Where the heck did all these elite athletes come from? They weren’t behind me a second ago. No doubt they are in training for the Olympics. Bulging biceps, ripped quads, sculpted shoulders and killer abs. Well, OK maybe that is exaggerating a bit. OK maybe a lot.  OK upon closer inspection they are just over middle aged men, OK just one, with a white ring of hair around their head, springing forth gallantly in their running pursuits, bounding up hills, not seeming to breath hard or even sweat. Heavy sigh.

On the upside, the same middle aged men passing by in their Corvettes and Mustangs are checking me out! Probably because they haven’t seen this much flesh jiggling and bouncing for months. I realize this isn’t really an upside, but with all the emotional trauma that I have just experienced in this brief walk, I’ve just got so little to work with at this moment.

Eeek! One of my favorite running songs just came on! Oh, how I want to run, it just gets in your blood and you must RUN…but alas no running bra, and despite my woes and tribulations, I do not have a desire to knock myself out, so I refrain and just pump my arms a little faster, swollen fingers and all.

Finally, I have decided to just roll up my shorts and put them where they were determined to go anyway, problem solved.

3 o’clock heart attack


A parking lot, a parking lot of a high school. At 3 o’clock. I can probably stop typing and your imagination can take over, but I had 3 heart attacks in the course of 8 minutes.

You see, my kids do on-line school at home. It was a decision made by their father and I. It’s not that we didn’t like the school district we were in, but we wanted to give them a little more time before being launched into the deep miry pit of teenagers that is middle school. I don’t advocate for everyone to home school, we don’t sew our own clothes, nor are my kids gifted and talented in such a way that confounds educators, and they’re not on the fast track to Harvard. They are just the regular, super intelligent, fabulously good looking and adored by their parents variety of teenager. This is not a home school sales pitch so keep reading, but it was right for us.

Enter drivers training.

Drivers training classes are held at the local high school. It makes sense. That’s where most of the teenagers are at around the 3 o’clock hour, they can’t drive yet – so bring the goods and services to them. I had to drive my sweet little cherubs to the high school for their 2nd day of drivers training.


I got in the never ending line of mini-vans and SUV’s, speeding up and slowing down trying not to jack hammer my car into oblivion with the strategically placed mountain peaks called speed bumps every 100 feet. As if those would slow down a teen driver that has nary a clue how to put gas in the car nonetheless the price of shocks and struts. Geesh. I was informed by my kids that we were a bit early and they didn’t want to go in yet. I don’t blame them, they don’t know anyone, they are just two UFO’s (unidentified floundering objects) in an entrenched society of teen hierarchy and caste systems lead by confusion. In my imagination its similar to the animal kingdom and I had visions that they may in fact be eaten by a poor ravenous misguided anorexic just trying to fit in.

I parked the car and we just sat for a few minutes. Throngs of uniforms, hair, backpacks and keys swinging on long strings came bounding out of the building, jumped in waiting vans, and skipped to their respective cars. I made a mental note that these cars did not look like the first car I drove to school. The speed bumps alone would have pounded all the rust off my Chevrolet Chevette and I would have been left with a disintegrated version of what once was a car. The kids hopped out and made their way to the door.

mother of all speed bumps

I put the car in reverse, looked behind me, left, right, began to back out slowwwly and with no hair or backpacks in my view, I pulled out a little more quickly – WHOOSH – there was backpack! How did he get there? Why was he so unbelievably close to a vehicle backing out of a parking spot?! Curse the little wretch! I continued to pull out, put the car in drive – ZOOM – a little brown Ford Focus buzzed right out in front of me. I paused to reflect the value of life, as I watched an Audi, with a driver holding a Hello Kitty phone, turn on two wheels to get out of their parking spot, then a really nice Ford F-150 squeal out of their parking spot. Seriously, was that a gun rack? How did these kids get…why do their parents not…where are the cops…is that an infant driving that…never mind.

I navigated the speed bump terrain back out to the road and began to suspect every vehicle on the road of housing a teen driver. I think I wept a little. I survived the whole debacle and made it home.
Just wait ’til MY kids are driving! They are going to be the most careful, courteous, defensive teen drivers in the world!

Yeah, right.

Sorry world, but you’ll have two more knuckle heads to contend with on the road in about a year.
In the mean time – stay out of high school parking lots, your heart will thank you…and your shocks.

I’ll put down the spoon tomorrow


Sometimes ice cream isn’t enough when it snows in April.

Why is it when I’m super stressed one of the things I run to is food? Yesterday it was pizza and chocolate, today it’s potato chips and ice cream. I’d love to get out and exercise…well, I’ll come back to that.  When I’m done with the food binge, I feel like crap, and going into it, I know it’ll end that way. My body is lethargic, my stomach is upset and I just want to throw up – the food and the feelings. Then enter the acne breakout that haunts me for a good two weeks after my emotional binge, just to remind me of my failure to overcome the power of “tin roof” ice cream.


Being a Christian, I know the answer. That is to say, I know what the answer to depression, stress and overwhelming anxiety and sadness is. Depressing days and ugly moments scream “GOD”!  It’s where we find the answers! It’s where we should turn when we’ve run out of tears BLAH BLAH BLAH!

He is the answer…
I know that already.
I even believe it.
I’ve even experienced it.

I’ve walked through horrific situations of my own. (read here: scraped, scratched and clawed my way through). I’ve held the hands of friends who were so devastated by their circumstances they couldn’t muster enough strength to throw themselves on the floor just to get out of bed. Rape, abortion, substance abuse, death, broken hearts, broken minds, jail, PTSD, broken marriages, infidelity, anxiety, fear, night terrors, and last but not least just plain old sucky days.

I’m always poised and ready to jump in, walk along side someone in their pain, and be their soft shoulder. Just call my name…and I’ll be there (yup just like the song). Sometimes you don’t even have to call my name, sometimes I just show up.
It’s not me, it’s not that I’m such a fabulous person I do all these things without regard to self – but it is God in me. He let’s me participate in others pain.
I love it.
I live for it.
It’s not a sick desire to watch people suffer, but rather an intense and life altering desire to witness the redemption on the other side. The victory.
The euphoric feeling when someone can stand on their own two feet again and say “I’m good – I got this – I can do this”.
It brings me hope.

I don’t try to take the place of God in their circumstances, I do in fact, try to direct them back to Him. I’ve got just the right scriptures tucked away in the recesses of mind that I can pull out when needed, but I do try to fill the physical gap. The gap between earth and God. That vast expanse where the presence of God is, well…missing.
I KNOW, I KNOW – He never leaves us or forsakes us, (Joshua 1:5 – see what I’m saying) but sometimes we just can’t tell He’s there, and a real physical person can seem so much better than dropping to your knees and praying to the air (AGAIN and again and again).

I’d like to sling around some Christianese and a few well timed encouraging and uplifting scriptures, sing a few Churchy songs and prance through a field of flowers in a perfectly fitted sundress, whilst smiling and declaring how wonderful life with Jesus is – but I’m fresh out of: scriptures, songs, fields and I’m bloated (dresses don’t fit perfectly when you’re bloated). I am after all having this conversation with my friends Ruffles and Top the ‘Tater and my other friend – round 2 of tin roof ice cream for the day, AND to beat all – it is friggin’ SNOWING – STILL…YET AGAIN! I’d get outside and run or walk or bike, but it. is. Still. S.N.O.W.I.N.G!


This bout of depression won’t kill me, I’m old enough to know that.
It won’t even make me gain the 10 pounds I feel like I already have.
The stress will ebb and flow.
I will pray, and find some scripture that encourages me.
The snow will eventually stop and Minnesota will soon be plunged into percentages of humidity that would make the rain forest natives cry out for relief…and we’ll rejoice in it after this past winter.(well, almost past)

As for now, I can only do the best I can with what I’ve got, and all I’ve got is chips, ice cream and a God I know will squeeze my hand when I reach for His again, and remind me He hasn’t left me.

I think He’s just waiting for me to put down the spoon.


A shopping or Easter story…you decide.


Let us consider for a moment that you and 7,482 other people need to make a trip to Target the day before Easter to get all the last minute stuff you need for your planned festivities. 

You muster and summon the courage to dodge carts, empty shelves and hysterical people and carry on, you are after all on an “Easter mission”. Enter stage left the harried mother with 2 sparkly little lamb chops in tow that have, are and will continue to demonstrate that their Momma listens to nothing other than Christian radio. (only good mom’s do this you know)

While just trying to pick out an onion you are blessed to hear the 4 year old with the 2 year old as back up singing “GOD’S NOT DEAD – HE’S SURELY ALIVE”!
Soooo cute!

Precious little cherubs that they are carry that mantra throughout the store. You move to the next aisle and POOF there they are! 
Awww, smile, cute.

After about the 9th assault (I er uh mean, rendition) your smile has turned to a grimace and you try to move on by going to a different section of the store…with or without the much needed onion. Even as much as you love Jesus, this along with the 12,666 other people, makes you consider whether or not you are actually a Christian.

Ah, but to no avail, surely the smiles, pure satisfaction and joy on the mother’s face have encouraged the little rascals, not just keep singing, but to reach decibels that only dogs can hear.

Around minute 12, you renounce your faith, and hope the oblivious mother and her little demons won’t be at the church you’re going to tomorrow because after all you’re just trying to demonstrate and spread the love of Jesus around!

Dang it all! 
Forgot the onion.