Flashback Friday – Nice Ride, Brother!

It was 1970-something. Back row: Dave, Debbie Ross, Stephanie Beller, Marla St. Clair; Front Row: Jeff Hanson, Susannah Ross, me.

The car belonged to my friend and youth-group leader, Dave Finnegan. From the first night we met, at a Tuesday night Inter-Church Youth (ICY) meeting, I thought he was awesome. Gentle of spirit, kind, and incredibly smart. Not a bad volleyball player. Or too shabby with that guitar.

In the ensuing 35 or so years since we met, Dave has been an important influence on my life AND a member of my family – he and my sister Chris were married a couple of years after this photo. They raised two amazing sons, my nephews Ben and Tim, together. And they have weathered more than their share of serious illness – Dave faced several bouts of cancer, culminating in a Stage IV diagnosis and a grueling experimental treatment program at M.D. Anderson in Houston (he has been cancer free since then, approximately twenty years). My sister, Chris, will have surgery on Tuesday for her second round with breast cancer.

What I want to say about Dave in this Flashback is that I couldn’t have chosen anyone better for my sister’s life companion. You know how it is with in-laws: they marry into a family like ours (big, loud, opinionated) and can spend years figuring out how not to be chewed up and spit out. Dave maintains his calm, faithful and principled presence – occasionally making us groan at his terrible puns. In the coming weeks, he will be the gentle rock upon which my sister will lean – and by virtue of his presence where we can’t be, we will all lean on him to an extent (poor guy). After more than three decades, I can  say with complete trust that he’s up to the task. I thank God, and my brother Dave, for that!

50 about 50: Friends

On Sunday, I returned home from a 60 mile bike ride, tired, but pleased with the beginning of my birthday week. Wedged between the screen and wood doors at the side of my house, was what could only be a present! I could not imagine who had left it. It was a lovely surprise when I discovered it came from friends I would never have guessed. The card brought tears to my eyes which spilled over when I unwrapped the present – a lovely, decorative plate with these words:

“We all let people into our lives, but you will find that really good friends let you into your own.”

These words are among the most true I’ve heard. My life, and the people who have helped me to live in it, are proof. So today’s final 50 About 50 list of ten: the friends who have brought me joy, helped to mold me as a person, shown me through their examples what it means to be generous and kind.

1. First Friends

My parents, Jack and Shirley, believe in being parents, not friends, to their children. Among the milk, manners, and morals they fed me as a child were nuggets that continue to inform my daily choices. They will always be my parents, but they are, finally, also the friends in whom I see myself.

2. Siblings who are Friends

Growing up, my five siblings were my best friends and my arch enemies. No one comes out of a large family unscathed! We fought. We hid things from each other in an attempt to have some measure of privacy in a household of eight people and assorted strange pets. We relied on each other through multiple moves to new neighborhoods and towns. And over the years, these people became my hoarcruxes (to borrow from Harry Potter). Pieces of me reside within them, and would be lost without them.

3. Friends who are siblings

While I would never trade my family of origin for another, I have been blessed to be adopted into a couple of special families. First came deep friendships that have the feel of sibling relationships, then their generous families took me in as well (and I’m not just talking about a Scheckel Brothers group hug, though that was pretty great, too!). These friends make sure that I have family to spend holidays with, to celebrate life’s joys and mourn life’s losses with, to feel connected with as a singleton in a family-oriented city. The Smiths/Kohls and the Dennis’ – they are my family as surely as the Hansons/Finnegans/Browns.

4. Teacher Friends

Some people are put in our lives to teach us how to be human, how to be good, how to push ourselves forward in compassion and truth. In my life, a few of these friends have actually been teachers, while a score of others have, in fact, been students! Some friends have simply demonstrated ways of thinking and being that I strive to emulate. Its been said, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” The teachers almost invariably show up before this student is ready – hopefully, I am learning to be open and fertile ground. I know I have already learned from these teachers to be a better me.

5. Friends and Colleagues

I came to my current university for a two-year grant-funded position. In 1994. What kept me here, when a decision-point came in 1996, was the strength of relationships with colleagues who share my vocation and my values. My sense of humor, and my vision for what we hope to accomplish. At each decision-point along the way, my colleagues and the genuine sense of respect and love between us is what has kept me rooted to this spot.

6. Children Friends

“Are you my aunt?” You might be surprised how often I’ve been asked this question by small children to whom I am, in fact, unrelated. I LOVE this question! I would have liked to have children of my own, but since I did not, I feel truly blessed to have been so connected to children, be they my actual nephews and nieces or the other wonderful children who aslo bring joy and laughter to my life.

7. Fleeting Friends

We have all had the experience of friends who are part of our lives for varying periods of time, then slip away. The fact that they are not actively part of our days forever does not mean they have not been important, or have not been loved. In fact, it is to some of these individuals that I owe great debts of gratitude for the gifts they’ve brought to me, the lessons I’ve learned from them. I will always think fondly of them, always be glad for good things to enter their lives, as they entered mine.

8. Beloved Friends

I do not fall in love easily or often. This is, therefore, a very small (though important) category. I know people who have begun their relationships with significant others as dating relationships. Not me. Significant feelings have only ever been the outgrowth of what have been significant friendships first. Amazingly, each of these individuals can currently be called, “Friend”, and each may actually read this post. You know who you are. All I can say is this: you have taken up residence in my heart, and there you will always have a home.

9. Friends who “let you into your own life”

Unlike the previous category, this group is big, and has grown exponentially the past couple of years. Lots of self-help and personal growth books will tell you to surround yourself with people who bring forth your best, people who challenge you to be more than you currently are. I can’t say I followed this advice, because I can’t say that the fact I’m surrounded by incredible people was something I did. Instead, each of these precious friends arrived in my life as a gift. They have surrounded me with love, support, generosity and trust. They have tested me, challenged me, called me on my crap. They have knocked at my door when I was hiding out, they have braved snarky comments when they got too close to some truth I was denying. Most importantly, they have loved me. At my best AND at my worst.

10. The friend who is my self

Strange to be so far into one’s life before deciding to befriend, rather than sabotage, oneself. Now that I’m here, its pretty clear that this is how it is supposed to work.

You may wonder why I didn’t mention very many names as I described my list of friends. Most practically, I was afraid of leaving people out. More importantly, most of the people in my life who would make this list cross over from one type of friend to another as circumstances and need require – the categories are not mutually exclusive. The name calling (name dropping? naming?) would have gotten repetitive. Rest assured, though: from my friend Carol, who has been loyal and steadfast since fifth grade, to little Femto Finnegan, who has yet to be born, the names and faces of many loved ones have been before me as I type this entry. Standing on the 50 year line, looking back at the past, forward at the future, I see one thread inextricably connecting the two – the thread of relationship. Friends, you are with me now, and will be as we move forward on this crazy trip of life. For that, I am humbly grateful.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing…
e e cummings

In My Tribe

Back in the ’80s, the phrase “In My Tribe” was most closely associated with the band 10,000 Maniacs, fronted by Natalie Merchant. The album of this name contained songs I can sing along with, word for word, today – many of them “issue” songs: child abuse, military conditioning of young men, depression, domestic violence.  I loved this album for many reasons, not the least of which is that its songs mirrored my political leanings as well as the issues I was in graduate school preparing to address. I had joined the 10,000 Maniacs’ tribe, for sure.

Today, I watched a TED talk by Seth Godin, here, in which he posits that tribes are what matter now, groups of people connecting and coming together over shared ideas. He says each of us has the ability to find something worth changing in the world, then assemble a group of people who share that vision. This group will, in turn, assemble another group and pretty soon, we have an agglomeration of groups affiliated with one another via this shared idea. And this new tribe of like-minded souls can change anything. Godin gives a nifty 3-step process on “How to Change Everything”: 1. Challenge the status quo. 2. Build a culture (connect people, develop a language that allows members to recognize each other, etc.) 3. Commit. At the end of his talk, he challenges the audience to take 24-hours (what Godin claims is all the time needed) and create a movement. If you have a few minutes, watch him, its definitely engaging whether you find yourself agreeing with him or not.

This week I am in an introspective space personally, and I find myself especially drawn to this concept of tribe. Particularly, the idea that one person might belong to several such groups, since they are idea or issue based.  I belong, for example, to the tribe of people who are concerned about where our food comes from, how it is processed and engineered, how it nourishes us or harms us. I am a new member of the tribe of bike-riding enthusiasts. More particularly, over the past couple of years, I feel like I have been working with a few committed others to build a tribe in our workspace. While it has taken us much longer than the suggested 24-hour time table proposed by Seth G., I like to think that our tribe is, in fact, changing the world (albeit slowly and one person at a time).

This tribe began as a group of strangers who happened to be hired to work together. I had been here for more than a decade, while the others were new to this environment. You always hope that you will connect with coworkers, and we did. However, something a little different than the usual work-related friendships began to develop. We began to challenge one another to reach for and embody what we value and what gives meaning and purpose to our work. We offered one another support, but we also challenged each other to live our best professional lives. One woman put it succinctly: holding up one hand at waist height, she said, “Most of us and the people around us are living here.” Then putting her other hand up at forehead height, she said, “We want, and need, to remember to live here.” High energy, high intent, high sense of values and purpose. As a result, we’ve created some amazing relationships, opportunities, programs. We have challenged and encouraged not only one another, but also our students and our institution, to strive for that higher plane. Has our work been perfect? No. Are there other tribes accomplishing good things here as well? Absolutely.

Ultimately, what makes this, or any tribe, special is the quality of the people and the vibrancy of their shared vision or cause. On the bike trail, I find a tribe of friendly, enthusiastic and welcoming others moving 10-30 mph. In the sustainable food tribe, I find others who put their food dollars where their mouths are (farmers’ markets, CSAs, organic, local) and who work tirelessly to educate themselves and others about their concerns. But in my tribe of colleagues, I have found people who sustain me, who push me, who comfort and mentor me. And I know they find those things in me, as well. And as we engender passion and compassion in one another, we pass it on to others with whom we come in contact. I have to believe that this is how we, in our small way, are changing our world.

(NOTE: This week, today in fact, my dear friend and valued colleague, Tricia moves on to the next phase in her life and the life of her family. She has been pivotal in creating an environment in which our tribe has flourished. We are all sad to see her go – Tricia may be most sad of all – but that is one of the great things about the idea of a tribe. Our connection is about the ideas and passions we share, not about our physical location.)

The Big Lonely

Avoidance and denial, my old friends. Back in the day, we hung together pretty tightly – in fact, we were what you might have called inseparable. I fed them all the emotions I preferred not to feel, and they shielded me from facing the harsher realities of my life. We made quite a team, living together inside the 352 pound flesh shell we built – soft, warm, protective.

Looking back, I know we weren’t exactly happy. But most days we felt like we could face whatever came our way. Or deflect it without much emotional impact. My friends would say, “I’m lonely,” or “I just wish I could meet someone”, and we would respond, “Why dwell on it? You can’t change it, and it only makes you unhappy.”

Man, have times changed. I kicked Avoidance out somewhere around 280 pounds, and Denial, while more tenacious, left shortly thereafter. For the most part, I haven’t missed them. My life has, in virtually every way, been so much lighter (brighter, less weighty, happier) without them. Oh, they visit briefly, from time to time, but its much easier to say goodbye each time. We just don’t have that much in common anymore. Breaking up was hard to do, but I don’t miss them as my BFFs.

Well, except in one way. These days, I’m feeling my feelings. Something that I never really had to do before if I chose not to – Avoidance and Denial (and the protective layer of 138 pounds I don’t carry now) took care of that for me. I’ve alluded to this in previous blog posts, mostly as one item in a list, or as something that I was acknowledging but didn’t want to get into. But here’s the honest truth: I have never felt this lonely.

How strange to say that at this point in my life. After all, I am – truly – happier than I have ever been. I have better, more fulfilling, relationships than I ever expected. My family and friends are with me, daily, enriching every experience and showering me with love and blessings. From the midst of this embarrassment of riches, I feel like an ungrateful or spoiled child to admit that I am still lonely. And yet, there it is.

Many times, I have refrained from talking about this, because I don’t want to appear pathetic, or upset my friends, or worst of all become a broken record on this point. Talking about my loneliness makes those who love me uncomfortable, because they can’t fix it. Instead, they try to cheer me up with stories about those who found a soulmate when they least expected, or by sharing their belief that one is waiting just around the bend for me, or by urging me to turn my eyes and heart to God.

Let me tell you this, so I can get it off my chest once and for all: I will be 50 years old this summer. I have never been part of a couple (not in the sense of two people who live together and make decisions together). Certainly I have given and received love, but never at the level of true intimacy which requires full participation and commitment from both people. And I have wanted this. Even when Avoidance and Denial helped me to hold the longing in check, and hide the depth of my loneliness from others (and, to a certain extent, from myself). So there is a reservoir of emotion which grew wide and deep all those years I had it dammed up. Without my old BFFs, I am swimming in it.  And for crying out loud, don’t bring up God right now, because the anger I’m not directing at myself is being quite forcefully directed at him. Right or wrong, that’s how I feel.

And there you have it. Once you stop denying that you have feelings, and start feeling your emotions, you feel them all. You don’t get to pick and choose. And the truth is, its really ok, even experiencing “The Big Lonely”, or deep anger. In one song, Lady Antebellum sings, “I guess I’d rather hurt than feel nothing at all.” I would amend that to “I guess I’d rather feel it all than feel nothing.”  And feeling my own anger or loneliness is a small price to pay for also feeling the joy that I sometimes experience with those I love – or for the contentment that mostly suffuses my days.

Joy and Contentment – way better BFFs than Avoidance and Denial, at any price.

Breaking: Apart or Open?

Have you ever looked at the first card in the tarot deck, The Fool? In many decks, The Fool is setting forth on a journey. He has packed lightly, a small bundle slung over his shoulder. He looks ahead, not down at the path which, to onlookers, appears to be a precarious one. A dog nips at his heels (or in some drawings, his bum) but he appears unconcerned. In fact, he sets forth with a face full of joy and hope, blithely unaware of the dangers that await wherever he is headed. The Fool appears foolish, indeed.

What an apt image for us as we set out into our lives – especially as we set off into the uncharted lands of relationship. We rarely see what is before us, even when there are markers in place (I once dated someone who told me on our first date that his favorite song was “Love the One You’re With”. Perhaps I should have read that marker.) But often, there are no easy-to-read road signs. I don’t know about you, but I am cautious by nature, and it is rare for me to put my feet to a path I can’t see the end of. So, I have ventured out into the territory of love relationships timidly, afraid of the unknown future ahead and of the possibility of experiencing emotional pain.

Which brings me to the topic of this post: broken hearts. Despite my caution, my heart has indeed been broken a time or two. No one, I think, really experiences life without heartbreak. In the throes of real emotional pain, I have wondered, “What am I supposed to do with this? With this broken thing that was my heart, with these feelings that have nowhere to go now that they have no one to be invested in?”

In one such moment recently, I read the following paragraph, and it gave me some much-needed perspective:

“But there are at least two ways to understand what it means to have our hearts broken. One is to imagine the heart broken into shards and scattered about — a feeling most of us know, and a fate we would like to avoid. The other is to imagine the heart broken open into new capacity — a process that is not without pain but one that many of us would welcome.” (Parker Palmer, from A Hidden Wholeness)

When I read this, it immediately reminded me that I have, in fact, experienced my heart being “broken open into new capacity”. One such experience was a trip I took to Ireland a few years ago. I had never travelled overseas, and had dreamed of visiting Ireland – then got the opportunity to travel with a group from the university. I fell in love with Ireland, and with the person I became on that trip — a person who lived as fully as possible in every minute, who didn’t leave a drop or a crumb behind. It was amazing. When we boarded the plane to return to the States, I put my jacket over my head and cried for two hours.  But the experience of leaving that perfect moment broke my heart open. A love of travel and an image of myself as fully alive were the new capacities born of that experience.

When our hearts break due to relationships not working, not going where we want them to, ending, it is difficult to accept. To then, on top of learning to live with the brokenness, expect or hope for something new and good to be born of it almost defies us. It feels beyond our reach, and yet…perhaps it isn’t. Perhaps we’re meant to learn that looking like a fool isn’t the end of the world. Perhaps we’re meant to discover that hearts are resilient muscles — and like all muscles, they get stronger the more you use them. And perhaps the capacity that will be born is the ability to love without reservation, because you begin to understand that the journey itself (rather than its end) is what makes it worthwhile to do so.

And so you, The Fool, journey on. You feel your feelings, especially the ones that hurt. You look for the good, for the things you may have learned or discovered in yourself. You flex your heart muscle and find that it still works. And eventually, as a Missy Higgins song puts it, “you’ll wake to find, you’re a little unbroken.”

The Rememberer

My Nana, Marie, was one of a kind. While I didn’t know her in her hey-day, I’m told she was fun-loving, funny, and had a great personality and sunny disposition. At one point in her life, she owned a business, a diner I think. Nana gave birth to six children, the first of whom was born while Nana was a teen, and who was raised as Nana’s sister. Nana’s adult life, and consequently the life of her family, was not easy. Among other things, Nana was an alcoholic, at a time when very little was understood about that crippling disease – and when the “treatment” was to lock her up for months at a time in the state mental hospital. (If you think they didn’t understand alcoholism back then, believe me, the understanding and treatment of mentally ill individuals was worse.) As the son who lived in town, my father often found himself in the role of caretaker to his mother. His stories, told with the distance of time, are both funny (in a macabre sense) and hair-raising.

I was a kid and didn’t know anything about that stuff. To me she was just my Nana Marie, and I loved her. Nana was a great baker. I can still remember the coconut cake, decorated with silver dragees, she made for my sister’s first communion. I also remember baking bread with her at her house. We made a tiny, child-sized loaf just for me, with a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar on the top crust.

Unlike my siblings, I got to spend some quality alone time with Nana. As luck had it, I was the only one who attended half-day kindergarten at the school across the street from her house. I have truly happy memories of time with Nana, going with her to the beauty parlor, baking, walking on errands in her neighborhood. After kindergarten, I moved on to the Cathedral grade school, and my half days with Nana ended. She passed away shortly after that.

Years later, in graduate school studying counseling, I first learned about the disease of alcoholism. Not that I hadn’t known of it before, but I learned details about its long-term effects and generational impact. I also learned more about the gritty realities. And I was horrified to realize that my parents had knowingly allowed me to spend time alone with someone whose alcoholism made her, by their own admission, untrustworthy.

That summer (when I was working on my MA), my father’s youngest sister visited from her home in Florida. We sat outside one warm, June or July evening, chatting and telling stories from the distant past. My aunt, who had been removed from Nana’s home to live with my grandfather and his second wife, made a comment about not understanding how a mother could let go of her child and never want to have contact again. And suddenly, a side of my mother emerged that surprised us all. She was on fire for the truth: and out came the story of how badly it had hurt Nana to lose her youngest child. Though kept secret from my aunt, Nana had written and called. Had begged for contact and been denied.  Mom said, “I can’t let you go on believing she didn’t want you. Losing you broke her heart.” I can’t speak for anyone else who was there, but hearing that story broke mine.

As the vehemence of the conversation wound down, I remember saying, “Still, I’m a little shocked you let me spend time alone with her. I was awfully young, only five, and you knew she didn’t have good control.”  And my mother, the woman of fierce compassion, responded, “She would call and beg me. I almost always said no, but sometimes, I just couldn’t bear to. She always promised she wouldn’t drink if I said yes, and she knew that if anything ever happened to you, it would be the last time.”

I sat on my parents’ porch late into the night, after the conversation had quieted and people began moving inside to get ready for bed. I thought about the sad stories I’d heard, and the things my parents saw and experienced in caring for my grandmother. I thought about how it was not right for children to endure these things, to have such grim pictures of a parent indelibly imprinted on their memories. And I realized something that has brought me a lot of joy ever since. I saw that my mother had given Nana more than quality time with one grandchild. What my mom did for her was to give her a rememberer: someone whose only memories of Marie are good ones. Shouldn’t we all have at least one person who remembers us as our best self? I am so happy to be that person for my Nana Marie.

How to Love People: A Misanthropes Guide to Relationships

First off, I used the word misanthrope because it is a great word.  I don’t really qualify as one, but it also serves the purpose of letting you know right off the bat that I’m no relationship expert!  I once read an article in which a woman said, “I love mankind. Individual people annoy the hell out of me.” That’s fairly representational of my feelings, or at least of my natural, introverted inclinations. However, inclinations change. At least mine have, and I’d like to share some things I’ve learned about loving others which (now that I know them) have changed my life. Really. They’ve changed my life.

I am not required to tell others what I really think about them, their choices, their actions. Once, I was with a friend who was telling me that he and his wife were thinking about having a child.  His wife was really pushing for it, but he wasn’t sure. He shared his reasons for being unsure, and I told him they were, essentially, stupid.  He responded, “You know, some friends would just listen and empathize.”  This particular friend, at that particular moment, needed someone to hear what he was feeling, not someone to argue against him.  The trick, and the art of being a good friend, is learning the difference between these times, and those moments when what your friend is looking for is someone to help them face a hard truth.  Parker Palmer suggests (in Let Your Life Speak) that we must “avoid the unconscious violence we do when we try to save each other”, that we must learn to “hold another life without dishonoring its mystery”. In other words, sometimes just being quietly yet fully present to another is enough.

I am not required to tell others everything feel. I used to avoid telling anyone what I felt, and that included myself. In order to open my life to more and healthier relationships, I’ve had to learn to acknowledge my emotions and, yes, to express them. Finding that sweet spot, you know the one where you allow others to know your heart without knocking their feet out from under them like a riptide, is terribly difficult. Frankly, I still suck at it. Sometimes, I don’t share my feelings when or how it is most appropriate (usually because I am arguing with myself about whether I should), then I blurt them out at moments when others are completely unprepared. Sharing honestly without hurting or knocking others down – practicing this skill is key to mastering it!

Being RIGHT is overrated. Let’s face it, we all love being right. We love being in the right. Sometimes, this is important. But not as often as we think, especially in relationships. I’m a middle child, and early in life was known for over-using the phrase, “That’s not fair!” I would go to great lengths to prove I was right. And when I did, it was almost always a hollow victory. It turned out I was either the only one who cared OR my need to be right had taken the spontaneous fun out of the moment. Now, when my entire family gets together, I enjoy staying out of the fray. Let others fight for control, for the decision-making power, or for the sheer delight of fighting to be right. The gift of this approach is that I get to stay in peaceful connectedness with all my loved ones. I just wish I had known this at 18. I would so have avoided that unfortunate kick-fight with my 19-year-old sister one morning before going to college classes together!

I am capable of loving people whom I know to be flawed. One day, I was hanging with a friend whom I just love. I mean, this friend is really special, wonderful, funny, loving, kind, beautiful inside and out. And then, something was said by this person that completely shocked me. It revealed a weakness in my friend’s character. The kind of weakness that, in the past, I might have considered a “fatal flaw”, in that it could have killed our friendship. And that’s when it hit me that I could choose to extend my love and friendship anyway. That I could see someone’s weaknesses and flaws clearly and still love them. That blindness to these traits is not a requirement of love.  In some cases, I am actually learning to love the flaws. No, really! Being in relationships intimate enough that I actually know these things and see them as an endearing part of the whole package is a gift beyond measure. It is a gift I hope to learn to extend to myself, as well.

When in doubt, choose the most loving course of action. This suggestion, while akin to “being right is overrated”, takes the concept a step further. There are often times in relationships when we don’t know the right thing to do. Should I go over there? Or give her space? Say something? Or hold my tongue? Take a stand/give an ultimatum? In my experience, the right path can proceed forward from whichever step I take, as long as that step is taken with a loving heart. Importantly, my action needs to express love for the other, and for myself. And that tends to be the hard part. It is easier to step into the role of martyr (“See how I sacrifice for you?”) or that of the self-righteous (“I don’t deserve/need this!”) than it is to carefully navigate a loving response.  Yes, there may be times that the most loving response is to walk away. But, by and large, the great beauties of relationship develop when we work through these tough issues and come out stronger on the other side.

I don’t think there’s anything new or earth-shaking in this guide. I am an imperfect practitioner of each point. But I’m learning how important each one is to deepening relationship. I also don’t think its any coincidence that each one refers to maintaining a balance between self and other in relationships. I no longer think it is possible to have loving relationships with others if I don’t have one with myself.

One last thought: being a misanthrope (allowing minor things about others to annoy me) was a defense mechanism that kept people at arm’s length. If I could be blunt or dismissive or right, I didn’t have to risk letting people close enough that I could be hurt. Recently, I was talking to my friend Tricia, who is a mental-health counselor. I said, “I cry a lot more often than I used to.” And her response was, “Thinking about the person you used to be, and how your life has changed, would you really want to go back? Isn’t crying, even if it is a little every day, a small price to pay?” And, of course, she’s right.