Tag Archives: Essay

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It Came in Over the Bedroom Door

I personally prefer intentional change—change that occurs because you know what needs to be different, and you seek it.  You want it, and you make a place for that change in your life. One might give up an unhealthy habit, leave a job that is no longer appropriate, or find one’s voice and seek positive change out in the world. That kind of change is ideal, and it brings growth and empowerment and opens new doorways.

Then there’s the other kind of change. The kind that happens suddenly and you have to adapt quickly and go with it. It can bring about growth, too.

About six years ago in the wee morning hours of a Saturday, I awoke to a waterfall in our bedroom. It was a torrential storm, and water was cascading over the sliding glass doors next to our bed. I woke my husband, and we immediately ran to get buckets, mops, towels—whatever we could get our hands on to staunch the flow of water quickly covering the floor of our house.

The same thing was happening in the den—a waterfall over our sliding glass doors. Our kitchen was flooded, too. As we frantically worked to do what we could with the water covering the wood floors, I remember saying aloud, “Okay, Universe, we need help to make something good out of this.”

As the storm moved on to soak others elsewhere, the waterfalls cascading into our home soon trickled to a stop. I called a water remediation company, and they arrived without delay that Saturday morning to set up huge fans to begin the drying process.  Later that day we met with a renewal contractor about what was going to have to be done.


The deluge in our home was caused by another contractor who was beginning the framing of a sunroom on the back of our house–cutting out the roof eaves and soffits and leaving Friday night without putting tarping on the roof. All the water flowing down our roof from the heavy storm that night poured right into our house.

We lived in a hotel for over three months while the walls, subfloors and wood floors, trim and cabinets were all replaced, and everything repainted. Our home offices were in the house, and, luckily, they were untouched by the flood. We drove to our home every day to work in our offices while the contractors did awesome work.

Shortly after the flood and the move to a hotel for the duration of the renewal of our home, my beloved father, who lived in the Louisville area, was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

My focus became my father most of the time, and I traveled to see him often. We had quality time—time that I will always treasure. I was amazed by my ability to accept what I could not control and embrace “it is what it is,” but still remain hopeful (resisting what I could not change would have been so much harder). I put one foot in front of the other and just took things step by step. I let go of what I could not control and worries over what would come tomorrow. Being focused in the moment was what made me able to keep moving and doing what I needed to do through it all—seeing my father, working with the insurance company and contractor and doing work. I was fully present in those times with my dad and experienced them as very precious.

The Universe made good on my request. The insurance company was very caring and compassionate and got checks to us right away. We stayed in a nice hotel where we didn’t have to worry about our room being cleaned or even preparing meals if I needed to travel to see Dad. The insurance company paid for almost everything.

While my father experienced discomfort with the chemo process, he didn’t experience pain, and that was such a gift to him and to all of us who loved him.

I look back on that time with an awareness of strength that I otherwise would not have known that I had. I also learned the power of now, of being in the present moment—not in the past or worried about the future—but NOW. That is where the power and the love is.


Things that happen in the blink of an eye and leave you all the wiser. Have one of those in your life? Nothing like putting it all down on “paper.” Click here for details on the latest UnderMain Essay Challenge.

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Tell Your Story

Things happen. Things that are out of our control, barging into our lives totally out of the blue. And sometimes, these events are unforgettable. But over time, the details do become hazy, even forgotten.

As Gabriel García Márquez put it in reflecting on his own story, “life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it.”

“The best of our stories,” notes Brainpickings editor Maria Popova, “are those that transform and redeem us, ones that both ground us in ourselves by reminding us what it means to be human and elevate us by furnishing an instrument of self-transcendence.”

UM invites you to write it up for posterity. Describe some unanticipated, powerful event and, importantly, what you learned as a result of the experience. Send it to us for consideration. We’ll work with you.

For inspiration, read the first in our latest series, Mary Claire O’Neal’s It Came In Over The Bedroom Door.

To tell your story: write it up, attach it as a Word doc along with any related images (not required) and email to: tom@under-main.com. If images are too large to email, DropBox them to same email address.

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In the Walnut Grove

My tree story is not about one tree but a whole grove of walnut trees that were at Morehead Camp.

These trees provided shade and many bushels of black walnuts.  The walnut hulls were a mess to remove and the shells hard to crack, but nothing was better than the nuts for adding to fudge.  They were also great in Waldorf salad and anything else calling for nuts.


My father used to white wash the bottoms of those trees, as was the custom.

Two trees in particular that were special were the two outside the kitchen window. They provided shade for our sand box and support for a swing and hammock.


When I was little my mother put my playpen under them for a nap and I took baths in a tub in the shade.


I remember Herbie Hogan cleaning his fish in the shade of those trees.

After Morehead Camp was sold the Williams children wanted something made of that walnut wood.  The folks at the lumber yard got as much usable wood as they could, bypassing the bullets that were lodged in the trees as a result of target practice. We had special boxes made of the wood for ourselves and our children, and I had a couple of small tables built with an insert of marble salvaged from Fountain Square in Cincinnati.

I would never have dreamed that thinking of trees would have evoked so many memories!