How to be a good shepherd.

Photo by Mohamad Babayan on Unsplash

When my daughter was two, a friend of mine said, “our job as mothers is to prepare our children to live in the world.” I remember when I heard this my heart broke a little bit. I didn’t want to let my little girl go. And I still don’t. But now she’s sixteen and my job to ready her launch is more critical than ever.

Parenting a teenager through a pandemic and then watching them enter back into the big bad world is one of the most harrowing, unmooring experiences I’ve had as a parent. During the pandemic, my daughter…

Daily magic all summer long

Photo by Aleksandra Boguslawska on Unsplash

Every summer I grow sugar snap peas. I think of them as my own private crop. When other members of my family (including my dog) are home, I occasionally share the bounty with them. But often I wander out during random moments of the day and pick the peas, eating all of them right off the vine.

Sugar snap peas grow like magic. The vines grow quietly for a few months and then, one day, you notice the peas are there — little green crescents with tiny white bonnets ready to pull from the vine. …

It’s possible to replace it with something else.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

My daughter, a formerly straight-A student is getting a D in chemistry. A D. I find myself twisting into a knot of worry whenever I think about it. Does this D mean she will turn into a dropout? Does it mean that she won’t get into college?

And part of me doesn’t give a fuck.

The fact that my sixteen-year-old daughter has survived this year-and-a-half of pandemic stress without reverting to drugs, cutting, starving herself, or entering a deep depression is enough. I am grateful that she still comes into the kitchen for breakfast with an occasional smile. I am…

The message from the great blue heron

Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

We are on the pregnant cusp of spring and summer where I live. All of the flowers and trees are full to bursting with color and fragrance. This morning as I sat on my deck drinking coffee I heard a cacophony of birdsong in layers. My mind was already on overdrive. I have a job interview today and I don’t know if I want the job. Is it right for me? How can I know? I wanted to simply enjoy this moment on the deck without the chatter of what-ifs that had taken hold of my morning solitude.

I closed…

Lessons from a fender bender.

Photo by Ralph (Ravi) Kayden on Unsplash

Yesterday my sixteen-year-old daughter Lucia hit our neighbor’s car. We live on a steep street and she was parked nose up the hill. Our neighbor had pulled in behind her very close. Lucia was giving me a ride to a friend’s house so I was in the passenger seat. As we buckled in Lucia complained loudly about how close the neighbor had parked.

“How am I supposed to get out of here?!!!,” she half-whimpered, half-barked.

“Just take a deep breath and go step by step,” I said in my calmest voice. …

The highlight of my day

Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

For the past month, every morning at 7 am, I have met my twin sister on Zoom for yoga. My sister is a hard worker. She works six or seven days a week and rarely has downtime. She’s been that way her entire working life and, as a result, she has thirty-plus years of deferred maintenance on her body.

In addition to my sister’s body suffering, her workaholic tendencies have been hard on our relationship. I have resented her lack of availability. Instead of accepting her choice to work all the time, I’ve taken it personally and adopted a feeling…

Getting the other side

Photo by Akshay Nanavati on Unsplash

I am in between right now. On a self-imposed sabbatical from a job. My whole life has been busy. I’m a task-master. I thrive on getting things done. I chose this path, this break, but some days I feel painfully unmoored, truly lost.

It is the most beautiful time of year in my typically rainy Pacific Northwest region. I am not struggling financially, professionally, or relationally. My family is healthy and I have a strong network of loyal and loving friends.

I should be floating on happiness, and some days I am. Other days the happiness cloud becomes too much…

From childhood to old age with adulthood in between

Laura Culberg- Do not duplicate

A few nights ago at dinner, my sixteen-year-old daughter Lucia embarked on an intellectual witch hunt with me. For almost an hour she challenged me to come up with a scientific basis for why I believe in energy. I believe that if someone performs an evil act their energy affects others. At the same time, when someone is kind, I believe that their energy spreads.

Lucia asked me how I thought that worked, “from a scientific perspective.” I bullshitted a little bit, talking about how we are all molecules, all connected. …

Seeing the ones we love anew

Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash

Last month I got rejected from a job that I really wanted. I had the opportunity to do a follow-up interview with the director afterward. The director said that they’d liked me a lot but were looking for someone who had more comfort and experience talking about race and social justice issues. This was a hard thing to hear, but important. Like many white people, I am self-conscious and insecure about how I talk about race. I have a lot to learn. My sister Kat has been working in the field of race and equity for decades. …

Imagining a world with more compliments

Photo by Vanessa Kintaudi on Unsplash

On Saturday night I went out to a restaurant for the first time in sixteen months. We sat outside in an enchanting patio and ate beautiful northwest-inspired salads and comforting plates of pasta.

At the table to the left of us was a young woman, maybe thirty years old, who had the most beautiful lavender hair I’d ever seen. It was just slightly more pink than purple, a perfect fusion of periwinkle and plum. Her skin was the color of toasted French Bread and she had a tiny diamond stud just below her mouth on the left side, where a…

Laura Culberg- Welcoming Opposites

I write about seemingly mundane experiences that are relatable because we are human. Subscribe on Substack to get my stories directly:

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