A Frank Reminder of Joy

By Thursday, December 19, 2019 0 5

Seven years ago on Christmas Day, I was stuck in LAX for twelve hours. There were delays, cancellations, and more delays. Before I knew it, I spent the entire day at the airport.

As the hours passed, my mood progressed from bad to pissy. It was so unfair that I had to waste my Christmas day away from my husband and family. The Christmas music was grating to my ears. The carpet was fugly. Everyone was annoying and gawwwwwd, the children were loud. Just leave me alone, people, don’t you know I’m being wrongly held here in this gross airport?

Merry Christmas to all!

About six hours into the ordeal, I was in a very long line preparing to be rude to a frazzled ticketing agent. The tall man behind me started talking in a way that meant he wanted to engage the people around. I thought, oh hellz no, there is NO way I’m going to talk to him. Doesn’t he know life is unfair and I’m pissy?

But then something switched in me and I turned to face him. I was going to talk to a stranger, you guys. *GASP!*

Along with a few others in line, we chatted about where we were supposed to be. The tall man listened to our woe-is-me’s and when asked where he was supposed to be, he dropped this one on us: he was wrongly incarcerated for 27 years and this was his first Christmas out. He was going to see his son, Nick, and spend Christmas with him for the first time since Nick was 4-years-old. Nick was now 31.

Wait, what???

His name was Frank O’Connell and he was sentenced to life in prison for a murder he did not commit in 1984. He fought for decades to be exonerated, and finally after 27 years, 27 Christmas days, he was free.

He told the small group gathered around him that he feels no anger about what happened to him. He forgave everyone involved long ago since he didn’t want to carry that energy. “It was too heavy, there was no need to let it weigh me down,” he said.

Now THAT is a problem, THAT is a delay in plans, THAT is unfair. What was happening to me was nothing. So I was stuck in an airport, was that really a problem? I was free, I was safe, I would be going home, but I was angry. And here was a man who lost 27 years and the chance to raise his son, but he was not angry. He could have been bitter and pissy but he didn’t want to lose the rest of his life to that energy.

Everyone who heard Frank’s story shifted and the entire airport felt our shift. Suddenly the Christmas music was beautiful and uplifting. I saw friendly faces and cute kids running happily around me. The carpet was actually pleasantly retro.

We moved through the slow ticketing line, desperate for Frank’s story and his joyful energy. I was disappointed when it was my turn, but now I was not rude to the frazzled ticketing agent. I was light, I was joyful, I was free from anger.

Frank went to a different gate but I maintained my shift and over the next six hours, an airport family formed. We chatted and laughed, we sat on the retro carpet and shared food, we were perfectly content to spend Christmas Day in the airport with our new family. And when I finally got on my flight home, they gave out free wine. Hallelujah heard on high!!

To Frank, thank you for one of the best Christmas days I’ve ever had. Know that people who heard your story seven years ago remember you and your energy. Know that you single-handily changed a bad day to a fantastic one for those who dared to talk to a stranger. Know that you are a pure example of the power of mental choice.

To everyone else, Merry Christmas, happy holidays, happy life. If your day doesn’t go exactly as planned, remember we can all be Frank. Your mental outlook is a choice and the most powerful tool you have in life. It holds the key to whether you have pissy day or a life-altering day while stuck in the airport. Friendly faces are always waiting for us to turn around and chat. The music is always waiting for us to listen. A happy life is always waiting for us to start living.


The energy you carry is optional. If it’s too heavy, put it down and pick up something light. And frankly, to be frank, just be Frank and choose to be mentally free.

The True Meaning of Christmas, revisited

By Thursday, December 12, 2019 0 2

Every December for the last four years I’ve been asked to repost my “what is this Christmas business?” two part series. Ask and ye shall finally four years later receive, everyone.

I was always confused by how Jesus, Santa Claus, and yule logs had anything to do with each other, so I did research and found so much interesting information that I wrote a two part series.

Click below and discover how pagan we really are:

The True Meaning of Christmas, Part I
The True Meaning of Christmas, Part II

Christmas, Things They Forgot to Mention, blog, photo, yule, yuletide, tree, ornament

That Sucks

By Thursday, December 5, 2019 0 4

I went to a deer skull boil the other week. Wait, how do you not know what that is??? We’re a weird mountain folk here in Denver. It’s a party where kids watch a deer skull get boiled down to all its parts (and odors). They get to see the eyeball sockets, touch the jaw bone, and learn words like “severed brain stem”. Then they sample venison hooray! Just in time for Rudolph!

One of the guests brought her cousin who had moved to Denver the day before. She had no friends, no job, no place to live, and no plan. I was curious so I asked why she moved.

The moment she started talking I was uncomfortable by her erratic energy. I could tell there was some mental instability and the more she told her story, the more uncomfortable I became.

Her story was tragic. She left West Virginia where her recently ex-husband had her committed to a mental institution and took her three children away. She moved to Colorado on a whim to get a handle on her life and away from a very negative situation.

As she was telling her story, she became angry. The story went on and so did the dropping of various F-bombs, S-bombs, and A-bombs. It became clear she wasn’t innocent in the whole tragedy, which is when I awkwardly ended the conversation with a: “Was that my kid crying? Gotta go!”

“What a train wreck,” I thought, “I’d rather probe the deer’s cerebral cortex.”

I avoided her for the rest of the party. I watched the other guests avoid her too. She stood awkwardly among the children running by waving deer hide like baby brutes. Everything about her was wild, broken, unstable.

And then I had a thought – yes, she most likely did have a mental health issue, but didn’t I have a tiny understanding with my own mental health experience what that might be like? Didn’t I know that sometimes it’s beyond your control? Didn’t I know that all I wanted was someone to see my struggle and simply say: “That sucks, I’m so sorry this is happening to you.”?

I walked over and said exactly that: “That sucks, I’m so sorry this is happening to you.” Tears welled up in her eyes, she exhaled and for a moment was calm. Granted the next moment she was telling me the story again about the A-hole who was an F-tard, and did S-tastic things, but aaaah, that one moment of calm. It felt so good to give her that, to let her know I saw her.

At the end of the day, here was a person struggling with mental stability who just lost her kids, her husband, and everything that was home to her. And now she was at some weird pagan party with strangers who found carcass boiling to be a celebratory time. That. Sucks.

I know that mental health is not as guaranteed as I once thought, and those suffering truly are suffering. Instead of pushing them away, they need to be acknowledged and not treated like pariahs. Because trust me, they already think they’re broken and it doesn’t help to be told through our recoiling and avoiding that we agree. Sometimes they just need to know that we see they are suffering and that sucks what is happening to them.

We would all benefit from a figurative human empathy boil where we watch the human condition get boiled down to all it’s various parts (and odors). We would see what we’re made of and how we’re the same. We would see that what it all boils down to is the heart that pumps life into us all. It can also pump life into those around us if we let it, my deer dears.

In unrelated closing, it would be cruel of me to write a post about a deer and not include the best thing on the internet (sound on!):

You’re welcome


Sometimes the things that make us recoil are the things that need us to lean in. And sometimes things are just a plain ole suck fest and that’s all that’s needed to say. They also forgot to mention that deer skull boils are most definitely celebratory pagan good times!