Open Letter to Brandon, a Stranger: “No, not all of it was right.”


Last Saturday, I was on a hike with my sister. We talked about many topics near and dear to our hearts, and at one point Attachment Parenting came up. I was explaining the studies that give it credibility, and why parents chose to raise their children with AP as their guide despite cultural backlash.

Attachment Parenting is based off of Attachment Theory. Attachment Theory states that in order for a human to feel secure, happy and loved they must have close, loving, and trusting relationships with the other humans closest to them. There are many books on it now, but the classic which stands above the rest is Ashley Montagu’s Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin. Most of AP is applied in the first few years in order to build a stable, strong parent/child relationship for later childhood and teenage years.

A lot of research went into Montagu’s book, both in the realm of psychology and culture. Decades of discoveries made in science which had been hitherto largely ignored (and are still today) by the westernized world about the need human beings have for touch through their entire lives, especially in infancy, are illuminated in his book. His book became foundational in the emergence of Attachment Parenting, which most associate with Dr. and Mrs. Sears’ The Attachment Parenting Book.

In my studies of AP, I have come to an understanding of the way common parenting solutions such as letting children ‘cry it out’ create certain traceable insecurities in later life. The lines are clear to me, and Attachment Parenting rings true. Supporting science is nice, but completely unnecessary for me at this point.

As I explained to my sister about the basics of AP and the psychology behind it, a man nearby in the hot pools interrupted.

“You turned out alright though, didn’t you?”

I stopped mid-sentence, a little baffled that a stranger had been listening in.

“Your parents didn’t use it and you turned out alright, right?”

I had no idea how to respond. Yes; my parents didn’t use Attachment Parenting. Yes, I consider myself a pretty ok person all around, and yes my parents are wonderful parents who raised me well.

I shrugged. “Yeah, I guess,” I answered, but in my mind I knew that I could say more.

“Sometimes people rely too much on what science says is better,” he concluded with finality.

What should I have said?

“Yeah, I turned out alright. I lived through seven years of suicidal depression; it still haunts me and I have scars to this day. I’m lucky, I found a friend who stayed by my side the day I would have drowned myself. I’m blessed; I had a reason to live last year when the knife in my closet beckoned all summer. Someone I love made me promise not to hurt myself any more years ago. He held me in his arms while I cried when I had been taught from the time I was a toddler that no one wanted to see my tears. He gave me his love even when I was weak, when I had believed that I wasn’t worth loving unless I was always strong. I’m blessed with memories of listening to my mom cry through the bathroom door when I was barely old enough to imagine her not being perfect, and I remember the need to go hold her in my arms. I was given opportunities to relearn some of the things that misguided discipline styles had taught me before I could speak fluently. I was able to be that shoulder to cry on to many whom I loved, and I learned that everyone needed that comfort.”

No, I don’t believe that depression should be the norm. Sadness and discouragement come and go, but I believe that our culture’s practices in child-rearing and lifelong interpersonal relationships blow it out of proportion by creating insecure, emotionally unhealthy adults. Yes, I believe my parents did their best and they were good parents. Yeah, I turned out allright.

But no, not all of it was right. It is each new generation’s duty to improve upon the knowledge of the prior generation. Attachment Parenting isn’t perfect, but it’s several steps in the right direction to make that improvement. I believe our world would be a better place if it were the norm. I believe more people would be emotionally healthy, interdependent in the right ways, and secure in their lives.

And sometimes, science gives us the arrow pointing the right direction when we’ve forgotten what people outside of westernized societies know and do instinctively.

MiniMonday: Books & Pitfall #2: Selling Worthless Stuff

Last week I challenged you to take one area and declutter it, beginning (or continuing) your journey toward minimalism.

I decluttered one bookshelf. Well, mostly. There was other stuff on the shelf besides books; I focused on the books. I would have made it through the whole book case, but I’m storing books that aren’t mine and there’s no room in the family library at the moment.

(Yes, my family has a small library. It was once larger, but then Kindles happened. Suddenly paper books were optional, so we started getting rid of them.)

Ok, so that’s not my only excuse. I hit pitfall # 2 this week.

Selling things which are essentially useless is a fruitless task. If your goal is to get rid of stuff, I would advise just donating it. If it’s worth less than ten dollars, it is for the trash or charity.

The pile of books I’m getting rid of is three feet high outside my bedroom door instead of gone, because I decided that a genius idea would be to try to sell them online for $1 each. Four or five of them would probably sell in a month, maybe more over several yard sales. As it is, thirty books which I have no intention of ever reading or re-reading are not gone.

There are things which I own that are worth something, which I do intend to sell at some point. However, used books are rarely items of value. Several months ago I bought a copy of Ashley Montagu’s classic, Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin, which revolutionized how we understand the physical and psychological development of humans as social mammals. It was in beautiful condition.

I paid less than a dollar, including shipping.

The fact is, some things just have no monetary value. Piled outside my bedroom door are books which have immense entertainment or educational value to those who peruse their pages, but I won’t make a dime off them. Any books which are worth a dime are not in my to-get-rid-of pile.

My internet ads will be removed and the books donated very soon. I just want them gone.

Divergent Trilogy Rant

-spoiler alert for the intuitive-

I just finished reading Allegiant, the final book of the Divergent trilogy.

Again, about halfway through I knew the big plot twist at the end.

Only a master author can keep me reading through a dystopian tragedy from start to finish, even knowing the ending and that my heart would be played, broken, crushed to dust, then glued together again.

Veronica Roth is just such an author. She molded my thoughts and emotions like clay and brought me to empathize with both the good and the ‘bad’ characters (but not the evil ones). Then, miraculously, she wove a hopeful resolution even out of such a broken story without compromising its integrity.

Though her foreshadowing was obvious to me, being familiar with fiction novels’ tropes, it was skilfully and subtly woven through the story. Readers will find themselves drawn forward into the mysterious future with every heartbeat of the book, then it climaxes – and after the dust settles, they realize that the ending was inevitable all along.

I hoped against hope it wasn’t true, fought every bit of foreshadowing all the way to the climax. I focused on the moral dilemmas presented and the world dynamic, anything to no longer engage with the characters. Still, I was enthralled in her spell. The journey, conflict, emotions and questions filled my mind and heart and I was drawn back into the characters.

Now, I am left grieving but filled with hope and peace. Allegiant’s final pages turn us toward the future. Nothing – I repeat, NOTHING – could have consoled me in the middle of each book or even between books. However, Roth’s artful finishing pages bring both resolution and a message: The pain doesn’t stop existing, and the past never disappears, but time brings healing and it’s ok to heal. The ending to the series is bittersweet but remarkably beautiful. Roth’s fictional world, like our real one, moves forward with hope for a better tomorrow.

That being said, I will never in my life ever again read anything written by Veronica Roth. Been there, done that, it hurt a lot, I’m feeling better. I don’t want to go through that again.

Pfft. Who am I kidding? I will be watching for more writing from Veronica Roth, and I will probably also be following her blog ( ) in hopes to learn how she crafts such a tight plot and such full, emotional characters. She strikes me as an author after my own heart.

Reading fiction is painful.

MiniMonday: Pitfall #1, The Marathon Declutter

While I am most certainly not “minimalist” yet, my history of decluttering began a long time ago. I saw a spider in my room, climbing out of a pile of various objects which I had cast thoughtlessly upon my bedroom chair.

Spiders are NOT allowed in my room.

The next three days were spent removing everything from my room, vacuuming every crack and crevice in my room (even the underside of my bookshelf). Only two thirds of my stuff made it back into my room. The next year, the spider scene repeated. The next, we replaced my carpet with laminate flooring. I’ve done my fair share of marathon decluttering.

I do NOT advise this approach under normal circumstances. Ever.  If you have a situation where you MUST remove everything from a room, then feel free to be choosy about what makes it back in. However, setting out to completely declutter one room in one big marathon is a recipe for burnout.

Yes, I succeeded three years in a row under extenuating circumstances. Yes, I did in fact get rid of a lot of crap that I didn’t want anymore.

The fourth year I attempted it, I thought I would make a preemptive strike against the spiders and kick start my progress toward my minimalist goals.

Three previous successes should have given me some drive and confidence, right? No. I burned out a couple of hours in, and then had to somehow motivate myself to get everything back into my room. My solution was simple: All of my stuff moved back where it was.

That’s right, I didn’t get rid of anything at all.

It is much better to get rid of things consistently, a little bit at a time, focusing on one area at a time.

 This week, I will be picking one area to declutter. I encourage you to do the same. Maybe you have a pile of books you’ve never read and probably never will. I know I do! It’s time to let them go. Start small with me, we’ll get there together. 🙂

MiniMonday: Introduction

So I’m definitely not a minimalist.

At all.

My room looks kind of like this:


This is not my actual room, but it captures the essence of it. I have too much stuff and too little organization. The combination = DISASTER. To be honest, I hate having so much stuff. Most of it never gets used, but I cling to it anyway. Despite several clutter purges over the last several years, I still feel like I’m drowning in my own belongings.

This series is, in part, to inspire me to get off my butt about getting rid of stuff. The rest is for you, my readers! You get to see me work through the process of becoming unattached to stuff. Let this be a demonstration for you, in real time, of what it’s actually like to pare down your belongings bit by bit. My pitfalls will be on display so that you may sidestep them in your own journey.