Stay open to the wonders of the world

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According to George Saunders, a work of art “has to surprise its audience, which it can do only if it has legitimately surprised its creator.”

When I read that, I realized I’m not creating art. Not by a long shot. I spend heaps of time bound up, worried, self-flagellating, fighting waves of lassitude and more than a little self-loathing. I worry about my “audience,” remembering — and flinching every time I do so — the essay I read on Medium about how no one wants to read a journal entry.

I understand. I suppose it’s true. And yet. Some of…

Yeah, I was a Karen today. Trust me, it can happen to the best of us.

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I always counsel my kids to be patient with people who are acting badly. You don’t know what has happened to them, what news they may have received just moments before. You don’t know if they’re vulnerable, or altered by substances.

I just got home from the grocery store down the hill. I’m still shaking, still feeling the residue of my outburst.

On the surface of things, I am a middle-class, middle-aged white woman who just had a temper tantrum because there were ice crystals in her vanilla ice cream in the middle of the day. Yep. …

Cultivate compassion for the mentally ill

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We have a serious problem. Someone we love very much, a man who happens to be the father of my fantastic children, is mentally ill. He is very ill, in fact, and there is almost nothing we can do to help him. As far as we can tell, there are really no answers. Mental illness is as intractable as they come. It’s a little like addiction, with it’s strong component of denial. Anyone who’s loved an addict knows how difficult and frustrating it is to help that person.

With bi-polar disorder, the afflicted are often addicts too. They may be…

Keep several tins in your pantry for easy, healthy, cheap, in-a-pinch meals

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I wanted to go out for dinner tonight for the simple reason that it looks like a bomb went off in my kitchen, and I didn’t have the stamina or desire, honestly, to do anything about it.

I fantasized about dining at the new Thai place down the hill. Or trying the “succotash” at the new-ish brewery also down the hill. Or maybe walking over to the next neighborhood and getting a nice, square meal at the popular Grand Lake Kitchen. But I knew with chagrin they would all be too expensive, that my budget would groan, and that in…

and other soothing treats to end Summer 2021

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I have a plum cake recipe, and it’s a keeper. I found it last summer in the New York Times’ recipe box. It didn’t interest me at first, but I had to do something with the pile of plums left on my front stoop. Once I made one, I was addicted, by the crunch of the edges of the cake, by the charming violet circles of plums showing through the cake, by the simple and playful nature of the cake.

I was even charmed by the way every time I thought “plum cake,” I also thought, “plum pudding,” and then…

Rescuing myself in a summer of doom

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Yesterday, I discovered with delight that the baby fig tree I rescued has pushed forth several tiny, emerald-green hands from its formerly leafless, slender, mottled-grey branches. I am overjoyed. When I first noticed the tree, my neighbors had already been in Lebanon for some time. It was clear nothing had been watered all summer, or even longer. In fact, it’s clear my neighbor has entirely let her fledgling yard go, both front and back. I understand. I see her and the pressures she is under.

This summer, my daughter made a hard turn toward independence. In other words, I don’t…

Seek simplicity, whatever that means for you

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I woke up to the sound of my daughter and her girlfriend talking softly on the stairs. I could tell by various bumps and shufflings that my daughter was sitting on the second-to-lowest stair, putting on her shoes.

I girded my loins before opening the door to my bedroom.

I wanted everything to go right today. I wanted to be gentle, grounded, kind, and loving. I wanted to be accepting of whatever was thrown my way. I wanted to not want, to not need, to not expect.

Before I turned the doorknob, I performed a mental inventory of the fridge…

Navigating life and time as quickly and skillfully as I can

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I haven’t written on Medium since March 2021 — probably the driest dry spell yet. I haven’t written at all in fact since then, except for some pidgin print in my journal — entries which more often than not are simply lists, presumably to jog my memory in case I want to write about them at some future time.

Time. Time seems to be slipping through my fingers these days.

In the dining room at Terrapin on the Bodega Bay coast last night, I looked around the room and, aside from one family, I was the youngest in the room…

Dear Ronald, You said something about the fog around your publication and that you were thinking of just shutting it down... Please don't do that! What you said resonated strongly for me though. I read yesterday somewhere something like, "The water doesn't flow unless you turn on the spigot." It was about writing. I have been in a deep freeze since March, and it hurts. I haven't been on Medium at all for four months, to read, let alone write. Something about your words compelled me to reach out. So, you reached me, and it was a feat, I tell you! I've been pretty unreachable. Thank you. Thank you.

Another dreamy Bay Area evening of no particular import

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I’m cooking up chorizo on the stovetop. Chorizo from… Gilroy. I was hoping to see the name of some quaint (or at least quaint-sounding) Portuguese village on the label, but no, this chorizo is from our very own Gilroy, California, by way of Costco. The fact that it’s from the U.S. makes me trust it less, I’m afraid. I don’t trust many of the foodstuffs here, where shareholder satisfaction is more exalted than, God forbid, a person’s health or wellness.

That’s just a fact of life in this country.

But that’s not what this essay is about. This essay is…

Christiana White

Writer, copywriter, editor, and word lover. Subscribe to my newsletter at

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