Tuesday, August 25, 2020



According to my mom's nursing textbooks, a stage of labor. The worst part, I gathered from her friends. Tugging and stretching from the inside. "If she seems angry, or starts shaking, or says she can't do this--that's normal." Hallmarks of transition.

I was living in the Philippines while preparing for my wedding when a seasoned expatriate instructed me to attend a "transitions" workshop. I scoffed (I was young! I was resilient! I was leaving in a matter of months!) but that was decades ago and I'm still grateful. 

Having been exposed to very little research-based psychology at that point, the tools the instructors offered blew me away. I believe this was my first introduction to the concept of psychological trauma. They explained how our brains process change as loss, how we grieve even through happy transitions, and how to prepare a RAFT to ride out the rapids of inevitable change.

When they explained the importance of goodbyes, I cried. And there, under the palm trees, I began to heal from years of heart bruises sustained while working for the IBLP cult, which excelled at both facilitating deep human attachments and ripping them away.

Transitions, it turns out, are both cause for celebration and the most intense stage of creating something new. 

The following year, despite obsessively reading birth stories to prepare myself, my daughter was weeks old before I recognized the transition stage of my labor. At the time, the outside world fell away as I went deep inside myself, summoning the strength to start a brand-new life.

This summer has been one long series of transitions. I find myself obeying the same instinct, withdrawing and digging deep. It's been...intense.

Daughter to woman. Student to graduate. Child to adult. 

Shopping to pick-up. Friends to family. Travel to staycation.

Middle school to high school. School to home. Home to university. 

Quiet to loud. Inside to outside. Live to remote. Anxious to angry to hopeful and back again. 

Provider to mentor. Part-time mom to full-time to long-distance.

We moved our firstborn to campus last week, with protective masks and mixed feelings of pride, anxiety, envy. 

For us, it was the culmination of 18 years of choices in support of both our daughter and our values (albeit under circumstances we never envisioned). I confess, as the first to leave home myself, I had not fully empathized with the plight of a younger sibling losing a best friend. But parenting is ever an  emotional expansion--experiencing life through multiple proxies at once, each child needing different support.

Considering how many times I have used paint or a new hairstyle to assert autonomy when I felt otherwise helpless or out of control, I wasn't surprised when my youngest chose a radical new cut for her birthday this month. Or that she wanted to update her room. What did surprise me is that she recognized when the pace of change was too much. She knew to slow down what she could and climb aboard her own "raft", comforting herself with the familiar, digging deep, enjoying change by degrees. 

My girls give me courage to keep embracing change and as always, my partner provides steadying emotional support when I get wobbly and think "I can't do this".

We will all be adjusting to this latest transition for a few weeks, then remote high school will upend the routines we've slid into over the last 5 months of "summer" and we'll calibrate yet again, thankful for the technology that connects us to the things we need and the people we love. 

Transition: the process of changing from one state to another. 

Transitions are stages of movement and growth, and they can be intense! But to live well is to change, so I wouldn't want a life without transitions. Here's to making it through the rapids and floating out on the wide calmer waters beyond.

Sunday, July 19, 2020


The truck stop toilet bowl
Swirls red
Empties with a whoosh.

Why was it red, Mommy?
Mommies bleed sometimes.
Does it hurt?
Where does it come from, Mommy?
It looked like kool-aid. Giggles.
You’ll learn all about it someday.
And me?
Not you. Just mommies.

Nine years later—
Capsized by a wave of hormones
Baptism by blood
I am the fountain
I am the flood
I am…back in diapers?
No, thank you!
This is a mutiny!

At day’s exhausted end I
Brush my teeth, brush my hair,
Scrub iron-rich stains from underwear,
So focused I forget to look in the rearview mirror,
Miss my last glimpse of carefree girlhood.
I miss my body. The one that fit.

For whom this bloody sacrifice?
Certainly not for me.
This woman’s body is cranky and clumsy
And sore and doesn’t fit.
It leaks! A terrible design.

Having lived by the sun,
I’m now chained to the moon,
A mysterious red moon somewhere in my belly
That will drip down my legs
Like melted strawberry popsicle
Thirteen times a year.
If I’m lucky.

For how long?
Forty years, maybe.
Panties in the sink 500 times?
I didn’t sign up for this!

You look nice, he says. Is that perfume?
That shade looks unnatural, she says,
I don’t like your tone.

As if I am marooned by choice.

And you’re a lady now? pries granny.
I am.
The boys were fun, she remembers.
Nothing serious, just friends,
But we went to the beach and I couldn’t…
I dearly loved to swim.
It’s our whispered secret:
This lady business is not all grand.

On hikes and bikes and airplanes,
Church pews, carousels.
Bleeding through sleeping bags, guest sheets,
McDonald’s napkins in a pinch.
Crimson blotches on the soap bar.
Rolling engorged and sweaty pads into stinking snails
And burying them in the wastebasket.

I know my roommate’s blood by pungent scent
Uncowed by candles, soaps, or sprays.
She must know mine?
(Does it attract or repulse predators, I wonder?)
Discreet, we never discuss
But when we bleed we take the elevator,
A small monthly indulgence.

Undeterred by calendars
Blood intrudes on

My lovers were never squeamish
So why,
When I long to bathe a sword in blood,
Am I too shy to ask?

At long last I am ready to put
This program that has hummed steadily
In the background so long
To its use: a portal
To communicate with the future.
Red-hot hope fixed on
A water balloon in my belly
Spills out again in
Pools of liquid disappointment.
My moon is defective,
Its tides too strong.
Are we to be forever marooned in the present?
And then it holds!
Waxes full! Its tides raise a mountain and
From a mighty crevasse bursts new life, lusty and strong.
Blood flows like lava, slows, and is replaced by yellow drops as
Golden as new motherhood.

Before the tides can resume,
Another mountain, another earthquake,
A squirming pink treasure
With squinty eyes, rosebud mouth,
And a slit that oozes pink stain in the doll-sized diaper,
Practice for when she will sync with a moon,
Twelve years hence.

Son cries against the bathroom door.
Inside, I sit over a bowl of kool-aid and clots,
Shaky with relief. I rest my hands
On my thighs as milk lets down.
Gratitude flowing.
Everything leaking at once, salty and sweet.
Twenty years down. Twenty to go.

The toilet paper is gone.
Of course it is.

-J. Lofland


Saturday, January 4, 2020

National Public Radio

When you're working in the kitchen listening to the radio, do you ever fantasize about being one of those voices? About being asked questions in front of the entire country? For the last few years, I must admit that this has been one of my common daydreams. I wonder what I would say, whether my voice would shake, how one gets that kind of platform.

And then, while my family was seeing The Rise of Skywalker and I was still emotionally recovering from Christmas, I got a surprise email. 

And then a phone call...

And, well, I kicked off the New Year by being interviewed on NPR!

The experience is still surreal, since I only found out the day before that I would be a studio guest for a whole hour of the 1A program. Listen here to our conversation about regulations on homeschooling.

Some of you have tried to contact me here, which is how I learned that the Blogspot Contact Form has been down for weeks and messages left there will unfortunately not reach me.

If you have comments, etc., kindly visit Heresy in the Heartland on Facebook.

Thanks for reading, thanks for listening, thanks for caring. I can tell this is going to be a year of new experiences and stepping up to the unexpected!