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March 20th, 2003 changed my life. It was the day I learned that my little bubble was not impenetrable. I will never forget standing in the gym, going through the FFA banquet set up, and getting the news. We were going to ride to school together, but there were things I still had to do with the FFA scrapbook. We decided to meet at school and then go to my house after school to finish up tasks for the banquet the next day.

Everything changed. Rebecca spent a lot of time at my house.  She would let my dog waller all over her. She was like a bonus kid to my parents.  We would sleepover at her house. I would try not to wake up Big Foot. She was fun.  All the time. She was ready to experience anything that life threw at her. We experienced so much together as a group. All 5 us of. School, proms, parties, music, secrets – we had it all. Then we didn’t, and we became a group of 4 plus an angel.

College, engagements, weddings, babies…we had to do it all without her. She should have been there. I know in my heart that she was there for it all in spirit. She’s guided us through so many big decisions in our lives. I like to think that she is taking care of my sweet baby who didn’t make it to this world and into my arms. I hope that heaven is full of all the most beautiful sights.

I know I am not alone in this club. The club where you grieve the loss of someone for the rest of your life. No one wants to be here, but once you join there is no way out. A lot of the time it is a dull ache and other times it is more like a solid hit to your chest. But once a year, it will hit you like a freight train.

I have said this before, in a much different vein, but I believe it. Grief is really just love, it is all the love you want to give, but cannot. It gathers in the lump in your throat, the corners of your eyes and the hollow part of your chest. You carry it with you, and it can become heavy. Talking about it helps to heal. You put your love back into the world and remember that the grief you have is because you have experienced love. She is gone from this earth, but memories will stay with us. I thank God every day for my girls. No matter the distance or time – we have each other’s back. We made it this far because of each other, and by help from our angel.

I had 17 years of life behind me before I learned how to internalize and work through emotions. 20 years later I have added plenty of adversity to the list of things I needed those tools for. The passing of my sassy and spirited friend Rebecca takes the cake. But who am I kidding; she would love that she topped that list. She loved to win. ❤️


Don’t Let Them be Bullied into Silence

You couldn’t pay me to be a teenager again. Being back in the social hell of school and dealing with all the things that come with growing up is hard. Puberty, relationships, and learning who your true people are make it even harder.

I am a relatively young mother. I am not so far removed from childhood that I forget what kids are capable of; even my own. I will never be the parent who is quick to believe my kid and crucify another. It always takes two. But some kids are much better at hiding their imperfections from adults.

Over the years it has been interesting to see things from a parents view. Seeing mean messages sent from a kid who never does wrong. Hearing the awful things being said about your child because multiple people are telling them the latest. I now understand why my mom would limit my time with certain “friends”. She could already see what I didn’t want to.

As parents, we can never take our foot off the gas when it comes to engaging with our kids. Finding out who they hang out with, how they are doing, taking a temperature of their emotions. Kids think they are grown, but they are fragile. They are in no way prepared to deal with all of the hate in this world.

Bullying is real. And these days it isn’t just the bully’s doing it… it is their “friends” doing it too. And quite frankly it might be your own kid too. Even the most kind and loving kids have their faults.

I talk with my children every night. One thing I love and hate most about our conversations is when the tell me what role they played in something. Some of the things mine has done or said immediately made me angry because they knew better. I don’t show the anger, I show the disappointment. I voice how wrong or disrespectful it was. I give advice on better ways to handle a situation while not backing down and still getting your point across. Sometime they listen, sometimes they don’t. But I know I am doing my part.

I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I own my mistakes. I feel like most parents do. But there are always the select few who truly believe their child can do no wrong. And those parents could be silently allowing their kid to bully someone past the point of being able to handle it. I remember how awful that felt.

“Based on the most recent statistics for the United States (U.S.), suicide is the second leading cause of death for children, adolescents, and young adults, ages 10-24 years”

American Academy of Pediatrics

When you used to love school and now hate it because not only kids, but some teachers contribute to the passive aggressive comments and toxic culture.

When your “friend” decides to be mad at you for childish reasons.

When you get made fun of for how you dress or talk.

When you are left out because the current “popular” kid is really just a jerk and most people go with it so they don’t become targets too.

When you have no idea what you did to deserve to feel so awful.

That is what they deal with. Maybe not everyday, but often. Life is so hard, and we have to help our kids navigate it as best we can. We have to be their safe space and allow them to fall apart with vulnerable honesty. We have to be exactly who we needed when we went through it.

xoxo – Heidi

My Biography

If there was a biography about you, what would the title be?

This one is too easy. And wildly enough one of my favorite artists wrote a song with the same title.

It Shouldn’t Matter, But It Does

Most of my adult life I have struggled with anxiety. Mostly social anxiety. It is so easy for people to say not to worry about something, or that it’s no big deal. But my reality is that it has ALL been a big deal. It has all mattered to me.

So, when the day comes that a biography of my life is released, It Shouldn’t Matter But It Does, will be on the cover of that book. ❤️

xoxo – Heidi

Love, me.

I posted a version of the following on Facebook in the past. It may be even more true today as I navigate more hurdles in my health journey. Chronic pain is no joke.

Until recently, I cared too much about others and not enough about myself. I haven’t stopped the former, but I am definitely more invested in the latter. It is hard work. I have never had to work as hard at loving someone as I do myself. I am the easiest person that I set aside to make sure others are taken care of.

I deal with chronic pain. There is a lot of contributing factors but the degenerative disc disease paired with exposed nerves in my spine is pretty much the perfect blend for making some days unbearable. Other days, I can push through and by the end of the day I can hardly move, but I make it over the finish line.

That pain has contributed to a lot of things. My kids have missed out on things because I could not bring myself to be in a crowd of people (other mothers) who are outgoing and easily flow into conversations. It also contributes to situational anxiety and depression. For me those things don’t present as panic attacks and crying. They present as cancelled plans, spinning myself out wondering why some moms make friends so easily yet when I try I feel like I don’t “fit” and just stop, losing sleep praying for the health of my family, losing sleep praying for my kids and their happiness, being afraid of the future because I’m terrified this pain won’t ever lessen, avoiding get togethers because I convince myself that whether I am there or not is not impactful, avoiding seeing people because of my negative self image, keeping to a very small circle that is mainly my family, talking way too much and then ruminating about every dumb or awkward thing I said for days after.

I could go on and on about all of the things I do and feel because of the lies my pain has allowed me to believe. My pain has lied to me for so long that at times it takes my other half to remind me of my worth. To remind me what I am capable of.

You can’t control how other people receive you. You are filtered through the lens of whatever someone else is going through and you can’t stop that All you can do is try your hardest, everyday, to be a person that people are pleased to know. And most of all, love yourself.

xoxo – Heidi

Fresh summer skin with no makeup – that’s how I have learned to love myself. ♥️

Country Roads Take Me Home

My dad poured his heart into helping us prepare the house at 307 for moving in. Scraping glue from paneling to prepare a wall for paint took a couple late evenings. Gerry Rafferty’s Right Down the Line played a few times and ever since then I associate that song with those nights. Walls, ceilings, floors, total kitchen remodel, utilities…that man made sure his girl had the perfect home. He did the same for my first home. And again for my sister when she bought my first house. (I will never understand why she didn’t love my deep purple kitchen walls 🤣).

My mom loved being able to help me work through ideas I had for my space, giving me recommendations on where to find what I needed, and of course coming to see the finished product. She never failed to show excitement and support for all the things that lit me up while preparing a home for my family.

We were our forever home. Grandma and Grandpa Crum’s home. Wonderful neighbors, big yard, good climbing trees. The sunroom was gorgeous, and there was plenty of space for us. Only a 2 minutes drive from anyone in my family, up the road from the gas station. It was perfect.

My sister is a Real Estate agent, and a damn good one. A beautiful log built home went on the market and I saw it on her site. Beautifully kept, large yard, gorgeous country views. I was so taken with its beauty that I really just wanted to see it in person. There was no way we were going to buy and move, but we had a free night so it would be fun to go see this property.

I have scars on my legs from my first months in our country home. Between bug bites, falling due to mole runs, and scratches from sticks in the woods I will never be able to forget that amazing summer when we made a decision to spontaneously jump into the unknown.

We didn’t plan to move. So many people were thrilled for us and couldn’t wait to see the new place. And then there were those who weren’t. Looking back, I spent a lot of timing stressing about their opinions and not enough time being excited for my family.

A move in ready home made the transition easy, but still so very hard packing and moving. Emotionally, I was a mess. Friends helped us move and made a world of difference in that timeline. It’s only 20 minutes away, but we put a lot of miles in going back and forth. (I’m going to skip the physical moving details, there was a lot of swearing, alcohol, and eye rolls.)

My heart was in my hometown for 36 years. It will probably always be there. My roots are so deep in that community that there is no way to change that. I wouldn’t if I could. Between my family, friends, local committees and school; I’m still there. I just lay my head somewhere else at night.

Almost 4000 square feet of house. What the hell were we thinking? Turns out, it was really smart. Having a teenage daughter, ALL the space is needed. Of course she quickly claimed the bedroom in the basement giving her a space to herself along with her own bathroom. She has access to the pool table, couch and TV, all without even coming upstairs. It’s a good thing she likes to snack so we still see her when she’s hungry. It took time for her to start to enjoy the country home. Not that she didn’t love it, but it was different; and different can be really hard no matter age you are.

Upstairs is perfect. I finally have an office. More closest space – big closets at that! Log built exterior walls that add so much charm to the home. My kitchen is magnificent. The cabinets are to die for. An original stove and oven add charm as they are built into the counter and wall. It is smaller than I was used to so I had to get used to less counter space, but it’s worth it. The view from that kitchen window is breathtaking. The birdwatching, deer, raccoons…so much to take in.

My little one met a new friend. At first she was shy, but I could tell that she was so desperate to talk to the neighbors. She is a people person and having neighbors who spent their days outside sparked a lot of joy in her. One day I didn’t see her outside, and I found her on their porch.

It didn’t take long for her to develop a bond with them. She goes over to hang out with them any chance she gets. In the summer it’s really at all times that the weather allows. She now loves to garden because she became best friends with the incredible woman next door.

I have plants in my house. And they are alive. It is fun to see her excited about something so simple and earthy. They are planning their upcoming gardens and I can’t wait to see what comes from the ground this year!

There are property dogs. They lived here with the prior owners. When they moved, the pups moved in with the neighbors so they could stay where they were already comfortable and accustomed to. I have never had dogs in my adult life so I am over the moon to be able to experience life with these girls roaming around and loving us. They make me so happy, and they love us back.

I could go on forever about the great things about our move and finding my heart in the country. I found my peace, I found me.

xoxo – Heidi

Senior pictures and my 3.

Sometimes I sit back, and I try to evoke details of my life that got lost along the way. There are so many fragments of growing up that are deep-seated in your brain and others are released a little at a time like unlocking core memories. It’s easy to recall the big things, but the little things, somehow, don’t always stay with you. Now and then you have to call on your childhood friends to fill in the gaps, and oh my gosh do they deliver. They will throw pieces of the past on the table, and together we put together whole memories from different perspectives.  

My childhood friends are the best. You can’t ever persuade me otherwise. They are the kind who know your heart like no one else ever will. We have seen each other through some of the worst days or our lives and we have celebrated the best days of our lives.  These are the girls who made me believe that soulmates come in the form of friends, too. They will be there to lift you up when no one else has even noticed that you have fallen. They tell you it’s ok to wipe off the brave face and fall apart all over the place if you have to, because they will be there to help you put yourself back together. Everyone has a friend during each stage of life, but the lucky ones have the same friends in all stages of life. Being one of the lucky ones feels better than I can ever explain. 

When you are young, it’s easy to have a quick tongue and lose yourself to ugly emotions that you may not even understand. As adults, we finally know how to love unselfishly and without any jealousy or competition. You can’t compete with people who you would do anything to see win, too. We had to go through the hard parts to turn into women who truly appreciate each other and to build the friendships that we are fortunate enough to have. This isn’t something that everyone gets to experience. It is wonderful that we all recognize that and truly appreciate the gift of friendship.  Together, we have uncovered who we really are, and we bring out the best (and sometimes the craziest) sides of each other. Life is easier when you know yourself. When you can accept your past and acknowledge your limitations. When you know your strengths and your desires. When you really know who you are, and what you want, is when life begins.  That is what these solid friendships have helped to obtain.

To my 3:

I wish you could see yourselves how I see you. You are beautiful, and deserve the absolute best that life has to offer. You are some of the strongest and most selfless women I know. I see women who will love me through it all. You love the imperfect me, the quirky me, the sassy me and even the wrong or inappropriate me. I know this because I love you through it all, too. No matter how wrong you are and how deep you want to dig your heels in. When you become upset or overwhelmed, causing you to put up walls. When there are weeks or months between contact, because growing up and being adults is hard. When the day comes that we can’t all be together. I will love you. Time and space won’t change that. You girls are part of my heart, that no one else could fill.  

It hasn’t all been hearts, smiles and stars. Sometimes it was harsh words, tough love, and avoidance. (Other times it was beer, cigarettes and vodka but we can leave those parts out). We have partied hard. We have seen nights turn into mornings. We have explored every single part of the country surrounding our hometowns. We have done and said things that no one will ever know about, but we can all giggle about together. We have divulged our secret thoughts and dreams. We have eluded death in ways that is every parent’s nightmare, and we know that because now we are parents/aunts to kids who may do the same and it terrifies us. But we grew up and into professional women who make a positive impact on this world.  Who would have thought, years ago, that through nursing, social work, teaching, and healthcare management we would be serving the public in such impacting ways?

I will never not be here. You can call me at 3am when you are too sad to speak, and I will stay on the phone to listen to your silence until you fall asleep. If you need me, there are no miles or mountains that would keep me from being at your side. Not only do I adore you, I care about your families.  Your parents, kids, spouses – they are all part of who you are which makes them people who are on my list of those to pray for and want the best for.  

I think, like most people, I am still getting over my past.  Random silly regrets and woulda coulda shoulda’s. In ways, everyone will always be getting over things, even if you have a beautiful and happy life now.  I can tell you this though, your friendship has made it a lot easier for me to move past my regret of letting spurts of time pass when we were all going different ways. I am grateful for what we have now. For the long talks, the wine nights, the impromptu lunches, and all of the texting and banter that has had me belly laughing more times than I can count. We aren’t blood, but we are sisters. With you, I have made rare memories and had some of the absolute best days of my life. Thank you for being my lifers. Always.

Here’s to laughs, adult senior pictures in our favorite bar and so much more to come!

XOXO, Heidi

Respect. A short.

I have seen more hate out of people during the last few years than I ever have. At the end of the day, I just want to be open to learn, gain wisdom where I can, and not be alienating in any way to anyone. I don’t have to agree with you to learn something from you. I don’t even have to like you.

I am inspired by Christians, Atheists, Buddhists, Stoics, Quietists, Existentialists, even Nihilists to some extent. I am not going to pick a team though since I find wisdom in each of those traditions. Besides, it is not about what I “believe”, it is about the truth. Our beliefs often cloud the truth….. Picking a team, or an “ism” or even a dogma is often the problem. I don’t have a problem with any of them and I find great wisdom in all of these. I try to find ingredients in each that help to deprogram me in a way…help wake me up in a way, without having to drag every piece forward.

At the end of the day, free thinking and being allowed to have your own opinions is what everyone deserves. I can hate what you believe but still respect that it’s your choice. But I can’t respect you when you are committed to hating my truth or misunderstanding me.

Autism Through His Aunt’s Eyes

Sweet boy, you came into our lives and have painted our world with all the colors that only you can see. You teach us, every day, how to support you and how to show you love while keeping it on your terms. You take your time and make sure that things are perfect. You are methodical and you have a memory that is outstanding.

What did I do before you came into our lives and taught us that “normal” isn’t a one size fits all word? Honestly, I really hate that word now. You have shown us that life doesn’t always run right on time, and that’s ok. The day that your diagnosis was received, it took time to settle. While there was some idea that this would be the outcome, confirmation is different. We love you so big, that it was hard to reimagine what life would look like in the future.

Very quickly it was realized that your diagnosis didn’t change who you are, but it explained who you are, and it was the most amazing gift to us all. Doors were opened to care for you that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get through. You would be given the gift of specialized therapy and providers to help you teach us how to communicate with you.

You couldn’t have better parents to take this journey with. They are both so loving, patient, and kind. Your mom, my sister, is a tenacious little thing. When it comes to her children, that is even more prominent. There isn’t anything in this world that would stop her from getting answers and making sure that she was getting all of the best information. You will always have strong advocates in them, and the rest of us.

Being an aunt is one of the greatest titles I have ever held. 5 nieces and nephews, and my heart wants to burst with pride every time one of them overcomes something, blows through a milestone, or even just does something run of the mill. Every time one of them was born I cried. I never knew I could love other children just like my own, until I became Aunt Heidi.

We have come to see that those events and milestones are a bit more of a feat for you, buddy. What comes naturally to one child, you have to think about a little while longer before you are ready to participate or verbalize. A loud gathering is fun for most, but at times it is too much for you to process. The hills for others can be mountains for you, but you have never stopped climbing. Every time you make it to the top, you have an entire village of people ready to clap.

I never want you to change your song to try to fit another’s tune. I hope you sing off key as loud as you can as often as you want. You get to witness the world in a way that most of us will never understand or experience. I am proud to be your aunt, and we are lucky to be able to spend our lives learning about the world as you see it. There will be rough days, but there will be far more great days.

Sometimes the things we can’t change end up changing us. That’s why we are lucky that you are ours. 💙

Teachers. Years don’t change the impact.

When I was little I always said I wanted to be a lawyer. Everyone always said “you would make a damn good lawyer since you will argue your point til the cows come home”. I was young and completely dumb to what type of education that took. You can likely guess how quickly I stopped that train of thought. Also, I am no where near brave enough for that heavy of a job.

Then there was my dream of being a teacher. That was a no brainer. I adored my teachers throughout grade school and I wanted to be just like them all. There wasn’t a single one that didn’t make me feel loved, respected and safe. There wasn’t any that I couldn’t have gone to for absolutely anything I needed.

Mrs. Hodge who taught me how to write my name, tie my shoes, and that green eggs and ham tasted amazing! Mrs. Ingram and Mrs. Lawless gave out hugs as often as you needed. You couldn’t help but be happy with them, they had the best smiles! They would walk together and were a work duo you hoped to grow up and develop a similar relationship to Mrs. Palmer had the coolest room since there was a lab. She had the best laugh and was always happy to see you! We dehydrated fruit and I was amazed by it. Mrs. Voight and Mrs. Jones, another amazing duo. Their friendship was incredible and where one was the other was probably close behind. We would listen to 50’s/60’s music while writing in Mrs. Jones class. I loved it. My love for all types of music started at a young age! Mrs. Trapani…there aren’t enough words. She retired midway through my 6th grade year. She was an amazing and one of the most understanding and fun ladies I have known. We had a Christmas party at her house that was a highlight of the year.

JH and High school brought on an enormous amount of teachers into my life, I couldn’t even begin to name then all with the impact they had on me. Each one had a role in forming us and preparing us for life. Whether it was through education or discipline, they didn’t give up on us.

There were a handful who were especially instrumental in my life. Mrs. Biros was an Ag program’s dream. The absolute best FFA leader, a confidant and someone who loved her students with her whole heart. She taught us life lessons, she made us act right and held us accountable when we didn’t, she was there for us no matter what and without hesitation. She became a friend that could never be replaced. Some of my best moments and my most heartbreaking moments happened in the walls of her room. Most of which I only made it through because of her. Contests, Banquets, State Convention, National Convention, Ag Days, Barnyard, Harvest meals. There are endless memories with that beautiful woman.. She is the type of woman who breaks through ceilings. She remember birthdays. She remembers the small things. I’m beyond thankful for her and love her to pieces

Mr. Smith was the man who would teach every guy to show respect and every girl to expect respect. He would teach all of us to respect ourselves. He was patient and awfully tolerable of teenage emotions. He called me Miss Kibler more often than not. Usually it was to casually get my attention, a handful of times it was a warning that I was hitting a nerve. He took Katie and I to the Woodlinks convention in California with his group of guys – endless memories made! I was in a pretty bad accident on Prom night my Junior year. The next time I saw him he hugged me so tight and said “you are very lucky young lady…and so are we”. My heart melted. As an adult, I know he was the type of teacher who would have done anything in the world to keep us safe and teach us everything he could. I love him for all he was to me and for all he still is to kids today. My girls would be lucky to have an influence like him at school.

Mr. Hodge was the mountain man. I could tell by a look when he wasn’t impressed with my sarcasm. But I made him laugh more than I annoyed him, I’m sure. I would willingly grab a snake from the cage, or get the iguana out to hang out with during class. I dissected a worm and a cat. I ate roadkill. Sometimes it was barbecued. I slept in a tent in the winter on canoe trips (with my dad which was a huge bonus because he made sure I stayed warm). Really, what I’m getting at is that I trusted him. I did things I never would have if he hadn’t said “it’s ok”. That man was more interesting than many people I have met in all of my life. His stories of being a park ranger were some of my favorites. He got me a pink Swiss Army knife for graduation. I still carry it with me today. ❤️

It doesn’t stop there. But there is no possible way for me to make an exhaustive list. Blaase, Miller, Findley, Cox, Boland, Belobradic, Wood, Pollock, Lauritzen, Mueller, Derby, Reed, Allen…names I will not soon forget. They were all the moms and dads away from home. And now I send my girls to that same school, trusting their teachers to love them and keep them safe. I pray they make the relationships and develop the memories that I did. You can’t go back, but you can always visit your memories.

I hope they always know…

How dare I tell my child (who wants me to look at the way she does a flip for the 1000th time) to hold on a minute. All because according to some post that I’ve read it will actually make them not want to talk to me ever again about the things that go on in their lives. That’s not true.

Those girls are going to love me. Some days they will love me only slightly more than they hate me. I am ok with that as long as they know that I am always a safe place for them. I will never judge them. I will always listen to them, even when they are wrong. I won’t always think they are right, but I will never make them feel like they can’t be transparent and honest about their ugly. I want them to disagree with me. I want them to make their own decisions. I want them to be fulfilled in accomplishing personal goals that no one sees.

I want them to hold someone’s heart in their hands who hurt them, but be strong enough never to hurt it back. I want them to know how valuable it is to love and not get love in return. I want them to fall in love, out of love and maybe even with the same person. I hope they never take someone for granted and I hope they never chase someone who isn’t good for them. But they will.

To my girls:

I hope you always know to call me. In the middle of the night. In the middle of the day. When you are off at college and get your heart broken. When you are at a party and make a decision to drink. Call me. I will be there. I will be there with open arms and a listening ear. I will take a red eye flight to be by your side, no matter where you are, if you need me. I will hug you tight until you let go. I promise to never let go first.

I will be there when you lose your way. I will be there when you break up with your first boyfriend.  I will be there when you are closing on your first house and need help picking out the perfect wall color.  I will be there when you find a man who completes you by adding the best parts of him to the best parts of you. I will be there when you have no idea how your life fell apart. I will be there when you have good news at 3am and can’t wait for the world to wake up to share it.

I will be there even when you don’t want me to be. I will not invade your space, but I will never stop being the voice of reason in your ear. I will teach you lessons in life, that I can only hope you consider when you are faced with challenges that, no doubt, will come. I want you to remember my words someday when you can no longer hear them. Remember every promise and every piece of advice. Do with it what you will, but never stop doing what’s right.