My brother, my sister

Photo by Mizuno K on

Aching–muscles, hearts

Joy–smiles, souls

Crying–tear stains

Wrinkles–age, dimples

Sick– hurt, health

Money–blessing, curse

Hope–future, faith

Earth–rebirth, death

I am here with you

What is so worth it?

What matters?

What really makes any difference at all?

Experiencing this life with all the rewards and hurts–anguish and peace.

Sharing those times with others.

Making someone’s load lighter.

Learning from mistakes.

Getting up in the morning.

Finding a different sight.

–DSH ’97

Looking for Work?

Looking for Work?

Even if you have a less than ideal past or a challenging disability, you may be able to get a job at Goodwill. In our city they have many positions open and are hiring now (Aug 2022).

Goodwill Industries began in Boston at the turn of the 19th century as an idea by the Rev. Edgar J. Helms. The idea was simple, fight poverty not with charity, but with trade skills—and provide a chance for the poor and the unemployed to do productive work.

From History of Goodwill and Mission

One of my children got hired there recently, and I overheard the orientation materials. It was inspiring. I love to work somewhere that my personal mission matches the organization’s. There are more types of jobs than you might realize as well such as e-commerce and job skills training.

Sometimes that first job is the hardest to get. Other times it takes networking which is hard to do if you are new in an area. Whatever the situation, it is exciting to be helping solve and prevent our community problems proactively. I’m happy to know more about and support their mission.

PS: is an easy way to apply to many places but no one I know has had much luck with it. I hear that they receive way too many applications. Most people I know who have met with success have gone directly to the company or organization’s website and applied directly.

Good luck to you!

DSH 8/22

The Only Way

The Only Way

Photo by James Wheeler on
Two roads diverged ahead of me
to avoid the most sour
or find the most sweet,
I looked both ways before choosing my street.

By choosing one, I'd neglect the other
In fact, there may be thousands, 
I'd never discover.
Yet standing still brought me even less.

Preferring somewhere to nowhere
I chose left which I judged a-right
would bring me to
the best fruit in sight

After just a few steps
I stubbed my toe
This wasn't the way
it was supposed to go!

I glanced back
the way I came
it seemed every other way
had less shame.

I saw my friends go whizzing by
while my progress was labored and slow
I didn't even really know
if I was headed where I wanted to go.

But, to quit now, I'd lose
the promising fruit.
So making the best of it,
I kept moving each foot.

I felt heavier and heavier;
it seemed a great weight.
"Surely there's more," I thought
"This can't be my fate."

"I might be flying
if I let go of this sack.
These things are just
holding me back."

So I turned again
and looked where I'd been.
Every road looked better
than the one I was in.

"If only", "should have", 
"would have" and "never"
mocked me from every other
possible golden path.

Just when I thought,
"I might as well quit"
and decided to rub my feet
while I'd sit,

I looked at my fruit 
that had come at such cost
All I worked for, protected, and carried
was not lost.

I saw now that no one could
take them from me
I had gathered them 
on the way to the tree.

I looked around again
and saw it was true.
You can't travel any road
without a bump or two. 

Those paths that had all looked 
so brilliant and smooth
had hazards and costs
and benefits, too.

I needed to come this way!
I'd do it again.
I'm glad I'm here.
I'll move on and then..

I'll keep choosing a street
and I'll keep moving on
it is the only way
to who I will become.


Preparing a child for High School or for Technical College?

Preparing a child for High School or for Technical College?

Just a heads up, parents, that there are after high school options (and during high school options) that you may not know about that could be amazing opportunities for your child.

Dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, AP classes, OJT, early release, and work experience with job coaching to name a few. When our first child started high school, we found out that tryouts had already occurred. We were late before the school year had even begun.

Your son or daughter could also graduate early or graduate with a technical skill certification.

As much as we would like our children to advocate for themselves and find out about these things in time, it has not been realistic to expect in my experience. How do you know what to ask about if you don’t even know what it is called?

This year my son is graduating, and we are looking into technical schools. We did not realize how competitive they are to get into. Many programs only have 20 students per class. So, if your son or daughter wants or even may want to attend, you have to apply immediately when application acceptance opens.

For a January start, you have to apply on September 1st. September 1st is not when to get the paperwork prepared, it is when to upload it all and turn it in immediately. August start is even more competitive and may have a registration more than four months ahead.

So, plan to advocate for your child and help them apply and meet deadlines well in advance of what you might think necessary. Transitioning to adult education and life is a long process. Just like applying for college, students can apply, be accepted, and still not attend. So, there is little risk in applying.

I’m wishing you luck.



How to reason with the unreasonable: Part 2

How to reason with the unreasonable: Part 2

Dealing with the dragon.

Photo by Magda Ehlers on

When someone is blowing up or melting down, we want to run and hide from all that heat. We want to immediately throw up our defenses and protect ourselves. “Shields up. Retreat.” We don’t want to listen to the lava that is spewing in our direction.

I want to say, “I can’t hear your message because of all the emotion that is shooting out at me right now.” It not only feels like an attack. Sometimes it is an attack. When emotions are high and someone can not process, own or express their emotions well, we meet their “dragon.”

Many people are so afraid of igniting the dragon in others that they do not say “no” when they need to or cave in when the disappointed person throws fire at them in response. Sometimes just the possibility of meeting a dragon is enough to keep people from what they know they need and ought to do.

I was very surprised how hard it was for me to say “no” to an elderly woman who wanted me to root through someone else’s mail box. I would never do that. It is against the law. But, she lived with me and my oh my, her displeasure was painful to endure. She would give me the silent treatment, refuse to look at me, and would harbor a grudge for weeks. But, I did refuse and suffered the results. It was so painful to be in my house with her that I went across the street and helped the neighbors. Finally I ended up in a ball on the floor crying and calling my dad. I had never met an adult who would treat others in such a way. (Yes, I have been very blessed with emotionally mature and capable adults in my life).

My dad said, “What would you do if she were a child?”

I knew immediately! I actually had the skills for handling this. I had just never thought about how to deal with an adult who would act in such a way when they didn’t get their way. I pictured her as a child without her cookie, and I was immediately set free. She no longer had an emotional hold on me.

Photo by Courtney Stephens on

We all have our dragons inside. We get angry when our boundaries are crossed. We spew pain when we are hurt. We might tantrum when we don’t get something we feel we need or deserve. We fear that we are not heard, cared about or loved unconditionally. We all feel the dragon roar inside.

How to tame a dragon:

Like staying off the rollercoaster, I have had to learn how to not go on a dragon ride. I can’t follow it down the hole of self-judgement and shame. I used to get so angry that I got angry. I should know/do better than this. This self-burning actually escalates and prolongs the fire–burning a hole in the self.

It is okay to have a dragon! It is understandable that we do not like our boundaries crossed. It is human to cry when we feel pain. No one likes to go without something they wanted, expected or needed. It is human to desire connection and security in our relationships. We can welcome our own dragon without fearing it.

Photo by Chait Goli on

Whether it is your own severe reaction or another’s emotional flame, the best solution I know is to stand your ground, listen and observe.

Can you empathize with yourself or others? Keep in mind that what they are saying, even what you are saying to yourself may not be the underlying issue. If you stay patient and dig–you might discover the underlying problem. Brene’ Brown calls this “going into the pit” with someone. Don’t be afraid of the deep, dark places. You have a flashlight that will show your path out.

Your dragon wants to be heard, but it may not be able to express the problem accurately. This initial reaction of yourself or others is not planned for. Emotional overwhelm can stagger anyone, but those who struggle to express emotion are even more tongue tied here. It can come out as an attack. My kids would shout, “You don’t love me!” This would hurt so deeply that I was immediately hooked emotionally. What if they really believe that? This is so unfair, everything I do is to show love. Don’t my actions speak loud enough for them to hear?

We have to avoid the hooks that threaten to pull us in emotionally and leave reason far behind. One thing that helps me is to “other” the dragon. I make it into a character. Like Pokémon, the dragons like to fight. But engaging just makes it so that no one is clear headed. In our class at school we say, “all behavior is communication.” The mystery then becomes not how to defeat the enemy, but instead, how do we decipher the message? We can’t otherize the person because we are on the same team, but we can recognize this isn’t their best self talking. This is a hurt, scared and/or angry feeling talking. I think to myself, “this is their dragon” and try not to react or take it personally.

What can you do instead?


The best way I know how to do this is to sit down. By experimenting I found that if I sit down on the floor or lower than whoever is upset, it will often deescalate the situation and the other person may feel more powerful and/or in control. I also write. This helps me keep my mouth shut and remember to listen. Writing shows others I am listening and slows down the interaction. I want them to feel heard. Reflecting back what they said can also help them edit their own words and be more specific in what they mean.

Photo by Gustavo Fring on

2. Find the feeling. Expressing feelings is not easy. For some it may be nearly impossible. If understanding your own feelings and expressing them is easy for you, you may not understand how difficult or next to impossible this can be for others. Giving them time to process and share without getting impatient or assuming that they are being obstinate can be very helpful for them to try. However, even with patience and time some will need your help to express their feelings. I have found that asking questions or stating what I think they are feeling in the form of a question gives them the words to share what they can not get out. Trying to be their voice validates them, and it feels so good to be understood–even if we don’t agree. Example, “You felt sad because you wanted to come find me, and mad because the teacher said “no?” Letting them correct you, rather than coming up with all the words on their own can lead to mutual understanding of what they are going through.

3. What do they want or wish? Like all children and people, we often have a strong preference. It really helped me as an adult to realize that what I thought I really wanted or needed was actually a preference. I don’t need you to be quiet, I would just greatly prefer quiet. I don’t need to do what I planned, I prefer to follow my plan rather than get interrupted. Realizing that many of my needs and wants were really preferences has helped me not feel like I’m dying if I don’t get my way.

The dragon comes out to fight for what we need. Many times we start conflict because our needs are not getting met, and we feel powerless on our own to create that change. If we can find out what the other (or the other part of ourself) needs or wants, and if we can find a win/win solution or even a first/then solution, the dragon will often settle into a satisfied puppy. I have to look for solutions. But, if no solution can be found, if I really just have to accept life’s “no,” then realizing I just would like things to be different can bring a more accepting perspective and understanding. None of us gets everything we prefer. But, we are safe. We will survive. We are blessed….

Photo by Liza Summer on

4. What do they need to feel better?

What helps you calm yourself? I was surprised to find that distraction is a valid coping mechanism. So many books warn against “numbing.”

I suppose if you don’t know what the problem is, distraction will never help you solve or settle it. But, it is a valid strategy. Often people know what will help them feel better. A cry. A hug. A puzzle. A walk. A shower. A book. Do you know how to calm yourself and ask for what you need? It can be difficult when you are upset to think of these things and disengage from the rage.

Recently I was grieving and crying. My mom suggested thinking of something fun to do. I eventually would have moved on, but the interruption and redirection of thoughts and energy helped me recover faster.

I have learned it is important to not take responsibility for someone else’s feelings. Likewise, it is my responsibility to care for and recover from my own. It is easier if we know how to stay calm and see through the dragon’s smoke. The dragon is not really big, powerful and scary. It is hurt, small and afraid.

May you see the heart behind the dragon

Photo by Pedro Figueras on

in yourself and others.



How to reason with the unreasonable (part 1).

Photo by Stephen Andrews on

Have you ever seen those parents in the grocery store with the screaming child? Are you the parent of that screaming child? Maybe worse, have you ever felt like the kid in full melt-down mode in your heart– just barely holding it together in public because adults don’t behave like that–or do we?

The grocery store incidents are less common now because delivery and pick up have become some of the most useful services for parents with a less than cooperative child. But, it still happens.

One of the most infuriating things a parent can do in these situations is pacify the child with what he or she wants. You are literally conditioning him or her to act terribly to get what he or she wants. I have had a middle school student who did just that. It apparently can work for a long, long time. What should the parent do? Well, obviously stick by the “no” and keep those boundaries. But, wait……. have you ever worked with an autistic child? Sometimes the obvious solution literally doesn’t work. It doesn’t teach them anything and becomes an impossible situation for everyone.

In a completely lose/lose situation from the get go, parents can ignore it, and have the other customers irritated that the noise is not removed. They can “give in” by doing what they know will satisfy or silence the child and be not only judged by others as a terrible, wimpy parent causing all the problems with youth today, but also judging themselves and feeling like a terrible parent. Or they can go home without what they needed and give up on why they braved being in public in the first place. Being in a regularly judged and miserably unfun situation often is the price you pay for loving a child, especially a difficult or traumatized one.

Photo by Stacey Gabrielle Koenitz Rozells on

If it were just toddlers who lost it and became unreasonable, we would not have these problems. The solutions, although taxing, are obvious. Pick the kid up and force them to do what is best or necessary. Take them home. Feed them; hug them; nap them, or ignore a fit at home. But life is never that simple, and we humans are not so different from our little ones.

The short answer is that you can’t. It is not possible to reason with an unreasonable person. Unreasonable people of any age are, by definition, not able to reason at that time. Emotions have apparently gotten the best of their thinking ability. We all have survival fight, flight and freeze responses that interrupt logical thinking at times.

But there is a lot of hope. As a mother, teacher and teacher’s helper, I have had a lot of experience with humans in melt-down mode including those with special needs. Knowing how to identify what will help and not giving in to fear or hopelessness can be so helpful. You don’t have to be a victim even if you do not enjoy what you must pass through while loving an unreasonable person.

The first step is to realize that you will not overcome irrational behavior with reasoning. However, you will start to handle it well by staying reasonable and calm yourself. Like putting on gloves and surveying the scene first in an emergency situation, take a deep breath and know that you can deal with this without joining this person on their emotional ride. You will be better able to help them calm down and deal with their upset if you see their struggle as theirs and stay firmly grounded.

Photo by Karan Singh on

As a young mother, I was very reactive. Every time my son threw a fit, I got very upset myself. Of course I didn’t like it. Of course my mirror neurons were firing and making me empathize and feel his upset or pain. A therapist once told me that children are very good at making you feel what they feel. I didn’t know that. He said, “think how you are feeling, that might be exactly how he was feeling.” I was feeling upset, afraid, and out of control of the situation. That matched what he was probably feeling as well.

I remember the first time I held him firmly in a rocking chair at church, meant for nursing mothers, while he kicked and screamed. He was getting too old for this behavior, and it wasn’t improving. I didn’t understand why he wasn’t growing up. I tested my ability to stay calm and rocked him while he threw a fit. I gently told him, “You can’t make me not love you.” This set me free. I saw that nothing he could do could force me to abandon him or not care. He could not upset me unless I let him. I felt this great love and freedom explode in me as I endured his nasty behavior until it ended in a crying embrace. The calm after the storm was wonderful and bonding. I was emotionally available for that because I had not become upset myself. It was wonderful.

Photo by Frans Van Heerden on

“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.” –Leonardo da Vinci

So, I challenge you to find the power within yourself however you can to not go on that ride. Have compassion on yourself without pity. You are doing the best you can, but you are not a victim. You are choosing this. There is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow even if in the future there will be many more storms.



What are the longings of your soul?

Last night at book club, we were discussing a book by Sue Monk Kidd, The Book of Longings. This book seems to polarize people. You either really love it or hate it. How wonderful to be with a group that can handle openly such diverse opinions and reactions and emotion without taking it personally or disagreeing. It leaves you free to be real–to see and be seen. To explore deep places. To challenge your own thinking in ways that are interesting and potentially helpful.

“It isn’t the largeness in you that matters most. It is the passion to bring it forth.”

–Sue Monk Kidd

What do you think matters most? What is within you pressing outward with consistent, pulsing desire–your art, your voice that is waiting to be born, develop, or fruit?

Our frustrations that last for years are nearly just as telling.

Our constant attractions and interests.

Our personal quests.

Decisions, decisions – Walk north, south or west – Swim east! by Richard Humphrey is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

One of my personal quests is to understand myself so that I can choose well. I am absolutely passionate about living my life well as an expression of gratitude for the greatest gift God has given me. Does the best way to live include spending years researching the best way to live? It makes me laugh that in the very pursuit of this, I may be doing it “wrong.” But, I can not help it. I love these deep questions about life–the core of life–the questions of philosophers and believers throughout millennia of ages past. This is one of my endless attractions.

What I find in reality, rather than having some great knowledge of what is wise and best, is that I do what seems best to me and then retroactively learn from it and see what my feelings and beliefs are that reveal themselves in my actions. In some way I believe our choices reveal those beliefs that we are not aware of. This type of personal exploration and mining is also fascinating to me. So yes, by golly, I like to chase my own tail.

Today I am chasing the nuanced truth of what I choose socially and why. I explained that I am a “foul weather friend” and I am. I want to be there for my friends at their deepest, darkest night so that they are not alone. I want to be there so I can actually do something that would be helpful and meaningful. I said, “If life is good, send me a text. I will cheer for you.” It didn’t sit right with me. I also love to cheer for people. I love to be there for the top moments as well–the victories, celebrations, milestones, etc. of life.

So, what is the truth? Trying to narrow this down, I thought, well, I just don’t like the middle. The chit chat in the middle. The mundane and repetitive and surface talk is tiring to me. But, then I realized that that is also not the case. I do like talking about nothings and the normal, routine, frustrations and joys of life in certain circumstances. I love to do that while I’m doing something else. I like to work together while talking, fold clothes while talking, walk and get exercise while talking, supervise children playing while talking, etc. I multi-purpose while talking about things that are not emotionally intense and require my whole focus. This is a very strong preference to the point that I do not like sitting still and talking about surface level things. They do not take my full attention, and my attention is my scarcest, most coveted commodity. For this reason large, long parties are not my thing. Can you imagine if I showed up at a party with my mending? On the other hand, maybe that is a great idea. I might love it.

Ironically, I have historically been terrible at guarding my personal attention. I think that is because someone is in crisis at any moment, and I want to be there. I am interested in people and feel their needs are more pressing than personal time alone with my book or pen.

Imagine loving being the Good Samaritan in your heart and never getting to your destination. Maybe even losing or never finding your destination because you are so busy stopping to carry someone to the inn, and there isn’t just one person on your way who needs to get there, but rather an endless supply of real people with real needs. Plus, your destination is to be that person who takes them to the inn– so in a way, you are already there.

My destination is not a location, it is expressed in who I am. This is interesting and incredibly risky. What if, like the two who passed by, I need to limit my involvement in the humanity around me so that I can get somewhere and do something else of my own? What if I do have a personal destination or magnum opus or swan song that only I can give the world? How in the world can or should I choose who and what to ignore to make that space for me–just me? And, that doesn’t even work because even when I am alone or studying or writing, I don’t do it in a vacuum just for myself. I hope it will be useful to myself and others in some way.

I ran my life much like an ER room for many years. I kept my schedule flexible so I was available to show love. I would prioritize the most urgent needs. The needs of a stranger might trump the needs of my family in urgency. This matches my values that each person is a child of God and equally valuable. But, in practice, I would often rush about taking a meal to someone and come home to my family without one or run in to other time management problems because with my imaginative thinking I really thought I could get everything done in a day because I wanted to–hopelessly optimistic until I would collapse at the end of the day and cry about whatever was at the end and mattered but didn’t get done.

I am much less reactive now. I realize that there are other, less frenetic ways to show love and that of necessity, duty, and love, my family and my health have to be prioritized so I can do the other.

So, then maybe Nanny McPhee’s philosophy is more accurate for me. “When you don’t want me but need me, I will be there. When you don’t need me but want me, I will go away.” This is not a direct quote, but rather, how I remember it. This is absolutely true for me in many ways. I am most fully there when needed. This is one reason I am leaving my job. I love “being with” my student, but she no longer needs me. She can fly now, and I need time to fly, too. My son’s needs are pressing, and I must be there for him in these last critical years at home–my last months of mothering (not that it ever stops, but the duty changes).

How do you judge where your time and attention are best spent?

How do you choose which interests to pursue and which to sacrifice so the few can flourish?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, necessarily, but they fascinate me.

There is a time limit on this life. There is urgency to the matter–what to choose, what to sacrifice or ignore. I love this, and it is so frustrating. I might be in my cave trying to crack this conundrum until the day I die. So, go ahead and invite me to your parties. I do love to celebrate. However, I might not come, or perhaps worse, I’ll bring my laundry.

Photo by Gratisography on


PS: I really disliked the book and did not finish it. However, I may read some of her other books to see what I think. I did enjoy her style of writing and some of the questions and thoughts it ignited.


Is there space left

to push in my page–

to share my thoughts

on such an overcrowded stage?

Is there room

in our text-attacking lives

to find my voice?

Is there any surprise

left?  Any story

that hasn’t been already said?

I could read all my life

and still be over-fed.

There isn’t room for it all.

I block out just to breathe;

and my generation wonders

is there any need

for me?

More music available

than I will ever hear.

More knowledge than I

could ever care to seek.

More roads than I could

hope to take or meet.

More food than I

could ever safely eat.



by all that is sweet.





You’ve given me

eyes that see

the pain and suffering

all around me..

a heart that beats

with every other

and cares for each one

as their mother.

A daughter of Eve,

I cry to see

my friends,

my children,

so unhappy.

I want to hug

and cure and paste-

to fix each cause

of every sad face.

To help

each one

feel happy and free

because of how

you’ve blessed


A happy soul

in a sea of sad

I cannot cure.

If you healed them, too,

I’d be happier.

But even your

mighty hand

that holds the key

won’t force them

to take

what you give

for free.

And you know best

why we must


these griefs

that are somehow

better than a cure.

–DarEll S. Hoskisson

June 9, 2016

Linking Generations–Get or give advice

I just found out about a great opportunity to get or give free advice.

Seniors can volunteer at their own convenience.

Just like asking Google, you can ask a real person in real time for their advice.

I’m so excited about this.  I don’t want a whole generation of wisdom to be lost.

The problem of technology becomes a vehicle for a solution.  Interestingly enough, this whole set up was made possible by a generous donation from Google.

Elder Wisdom Circle–Get or Volunteer to Give Advice