Human Highlights: A Good Hobby

Human Highlights is a Sunday tradition at Commode To Joy. It’s a friendly reminder to forgive your human moments, celebrate the highlights, and enjoy.


Human Moment: Hunger woke me up at 4 am last Monday morning, and then it kept me from falling back to sleep. By 5:00 I gave up, got up, and fixed a very early morning breakfast. I ate, worked on an upcoming installment, and then went back to bed.

Typically, once I fall back asleep (after being up in the early hours of the morning like this) it’s a sound, deep sleep. Monday was no exception.

Miller woke me at 6:50. I invited him into bed so I could keep sleeping and gave him the iPad.

He watched videos of railway crossings. I slept.

He asked occasional questions. Too out of it to form words, I offered grunts as acknowledgment.

He played games, working puzzles and cooking “food”. I slept more.

He was perfectly content, chilling beside me when finally, at 8:25, I woke up.

For as often as kids disrupt sleep – as in, I’m 33 and still occasionally wake my mom of a morning with a call or text – sometimes, somehow, they know when you really need rest and graciously allow it.


Highlight: I have some exciting Commode To Joy projects I’ve been working on including a new series and a collaborative project. I’ve made progress with both this week and am getting ever closer to being publish-ready. Additionally, I’ve been in contact with a web designer, so in the next month or so, CTJ will have a whole new look.

Image result for happy dance gif

Elaine’s happy dance is identical to mine.


All women, whether working full-time, working a side hustle, or working as a stay-at-home-mom need a hobby – something that’s purely yours. When work sucks, life gets hard, or unwanted surprises come knocking, a good hobby can offer much relief. It gives you something to look forward to, engages your mind (or hands or body depending on the hobby), and temporarily removes all other labels – mom, wife, coworker, boss, friend – so that you’re just you.

I’ve missed me the past several weeks. My focus and energy have been sketchy. This week? I’m back. I have energy to fuel my projects. These projects in turn add excitement to my day sustaining me while I mother (and wife and house keep and errand run, etc…).


Enjoyment: Back to Monday. By 9:00 am I made a cup of coffee and carried it down along with my laptop to work on an aforementioned installment. I hadn’t even opened my computer when the doorbell rang. So finally, a few minutes after nine, we got up for the day.


Midmorning makings of a great day.

What are your Human Highlights from the week? Leave one of your moments in the comments below.

Drop the Disclaiming “W” in Women’s Sports Leagues

I’m reading Abby Wambach’s memoir Forward, and one word – more specifically, one letter – flares up a long time personal irritation: The disclaiming “W” in front of WUSA.

“W” precedes sports leagues as if warning the viewers they’re about to watch women play. It suggests that men are the sport and women are the subs. The others. Either drop the “W” or take cues from soccer’s U.S. National Teams who designate teams equally using MNT and WNT.

I hear Chicago and know the Cubs and White Sox are baseball, the Bears are football, the Blackhawks are hockey, the Bulls and the Sky are basketball, and the Fire and the Red Stars are soccer.

Let city names and mascots differentiate teams for all sports regardless of gender.

Let women’s sports be enough without subcategorizing them.

Let women be enough.


Thank you to Abby Wambach for being a true leader, not just in soccer, not just in sports, but for all females, women and girls alike.


Normally Sundays on Commode To Joy are reserved for Human Highlights. This installment takes precedence today.

Keeping Project Overwhelm At Bay

Overwhelm. It can elicit different reactions – walking away, anxious overdrive, fuming fury.

When things start piling up – keeping up with the house, keeping up with work demands, or tackling an undesirable but necessary project such as moving – just start. Pick a place, and start.

Baby Boomers know how to put their noses down and work, keeping responsibility at the forefront. Millennials know how to enjoy themselves along the way by prioritizing pleasure.

Take notes from both.

If you look ahead at all that’s left to do and feel overwhelm’s grip tightening, take a minute to look at all you’ve accomplished. Even if it’s as simple as you finally folded the laundry, you responded to that nagging email, or you packed (or unpacked) one box, congratulate yourself. The tiniest bit of progress is in fact progress.

Stop and celebrate to add in a splash of fun like Millennials. And then? Back at it, nose down, Baby Boomer style.

That’s how meals get made, fundraising campaigns get accomplished, and houses get built. One ingredient, one mailer, one nail at a time.

Wanna keep project overwhelm at bay? Keep plugging away, one step at a time.


Pictured: a lakeside villa that a crew of just a few men including my dad built
one board, screw, and drywall panel at a time.


Human Highlights: Sentimentality

Human Highlights is a Sunday tradition at Commode To Joy. It’s a friendly reminder to forgive your human moments, celebrate the highlights, and enjoy.


Human Moment: Have you ever grieved someone who’s still alive?

Yesterday, one of my cousins included a picture of my beloved Grandma Alice in a group message. When I saw it, two simultaneous thoughts crossed my mind.

Let me first say that there are two types of thought – the kind you can control/correct/rewrite and the kind you can’t. The latter of the two is reactive, springing up instantaneously, oftentimes making the thinker agree, disagree, or be thankful that no-one else can hear it.

My two simultaneous thoughts would be best kept to myself, so naturally, I’m sharing. When I saw Grandma’s picture, I thought “It’s beautiful,” and “obituary picture.” My heart swelled with love for my grandma and then it shattered because I’ll have to say goodbye to her someday.

This is not the first time I’ve cried knowing that I won’t always be able to pick up the phone calling her for advice. I won’t always be able to drive down her country road knowing that she’s sitting on the other side of the big living room window watching my approach. I won’t always be able to meet her for lunch or take her out for her birthday or receive birthday cards addressed in her textbook-worthy cursive.

I can’t hardly type this without crying yet again.

Grief. It’s not a welcome friend, but it is a known acquaintance. And though its appearance changes from year to year and from person to person (or pet), its presence is undeniable.


Highlight: Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. Watching fireworks is my favorite Fourth festivity.

It’s become tradition to take our boat on the lake and watch the show from the water. It offers the best views in town while avoiding the crowd.

On the water, other boaters are around you, but you each have your own space. A boat marks perimeters more than a lawn chair or a blanket.

From this boat-sized bubble, I look around knowing that cars are parked to the side of the 36/121 bridge, that people are sitting outside of Nelson Park, the Beach House, and across the lawn from St. Mary’s. An impressive amount of people turns out for this annual event.

There’s something awe-inspiring about seeing so many people gather and sit still for the sake of pleasure and enjoyment (and perhaps some nostalgia too).

“And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.” At some point each year I hear Francis Scott Key’s apropos lines while watching fireworks. And then, because I’m such a sentimentalist, I tear up.

This twenty-minute show is my highlight, not just of the week, but of the entire year.


Enjoyment: I saw Potter Monday.


July 2017

I adopted him from a local shelter in 2009. He was my everything, and I his, and then I had a kid.

Potter was okay toward Miller – do I have an affinity for English surnames or what? – but, and this is a big but, he was not okay with me being a mom.

When he resigned to the fact that I could not dote upon him in mass heaps as I had previously, he broke up with me. His green eyes that once looked at me with affection, well, let’s just say he didn’t need fingers to flip me off.

The short version of this story is that I found Potter a new home with a father/daughter whom we knew through CrossFit. She has since become one of our go-to babysitters. This past Monday, we took a field trip to her house so Miller could “meet” Potter. (Miller was four months old when Potter moved in with his new family.)

Potter & Miller

June 2014

Pot hasn’t changed much – he’s still fat and sassy. Whereas he used to act out against me, Monday he acted out against Miller, batting at him with warning meows. I made a great decision finding that boy a new home.

If you’re curious, he still loves me.

Potter Kisses

Kitty Cat Kisses

What are your Human Highlights from the week? Leave one of your moments in the comments below.

Human Highlights & Sunday Traditions

Human Highlights is a Sunday tradition at Commode To Joy. It’s a friendly reminder to forgive your human moments, celebrate the highlights, and enjoy.


Human Moment: I spent a good chunk of this week sleeping and shaking off the dregs of anesthesia. I woke up yesterday morning feeling great, and then quickly succumbed to tears upon realizing that though I felt strong, I wasn’t quite ready to take on my usual responsibilities.

True to form, I processed what caused my upset while writing the installment Key Ingredients to Healing from Surgery. With my humanness expressed (literally and metaphorically), I moved on and had a great rest of the day.

That’s the point of acknowledging your Human Moments. Bottle them up and they fester. Let them surface and they tend to go away.


Highlight: Holding my little boy.

It started with hugs before bedtime as he carefully avoided my tender belly.

Bedtime Hugs

Bedtime Hugs

It graduated to a few precious lap sits.

Yesterday morning was the first such time all week. I thought it’d be a sentimental moment. Nope. Miller made it comical. Once on my lap, he curled up pretending to be a kitty cat. “Meow meow.”

“Oh, what a sweet kitty cat,” I purred, petting him.

Deciding to give me a kiss, he uprighted himself and licked me, because that’s how cats give kisses, of course.


“Kitty cat kisses.”

Apparently the Miller Cat licks noses. He did it about five times before I booted him from my lap. My highlight turned into my human moment shortly thereafter.


Enjoyment: “Take care of your things and they’ll last longer,” numerous family members told me when I was little. Two weeks ago I finally changed out my winter shoes for spring/summer ones. With that old adage in mind, I set aside my favorite pair of leather boots to shine before storing them.

This morning, with boots, rag, and wax laid out, a childhood memory greeted me.

My dad owned one pair of “Sunday Shoes”, black and tasseled. He wore them to church, weddings, funerals, etc. Every Sunday afternoon he sat on the living room floor with a wax kit and polished his nicest shoes before putting them away.

Using the same brand of wax Dad religiously used, there I sat, performing one of his Sunday traditions. I paused to appreciate the moment and decided to share it here, on Human Highlights – my Sunday tradition.

I don’t have shoe shining down to a science like Dad, nor do I shine mine as frequently – thanks to steadfastness, his Sunday Shoes lasted twenty years. However, I am hopeful that by taking care of this pair of boots, they’ll last for years to come.


Sunday Shoe Shine


The same can be said for us – take care of yourself and you’ll last longer. So I’m going to hit “publish” and curl up on the couch for the remainder of the ever-sacred Nap Time.

What are your Human Highlights from the week? Leave one of your moments in the comments below.