Give Me a Break: Highlights from July in Wisconsin

Give Me a Break: Highlights from July in Wisconsin

I left my hometown in Wisconsin twelve years ago this month for graduate school in Cincinnati. Since then, life has taken me in many directions, most of them unforeseen. For the last six years, I’ve lived in Toronto.

For the first handful of years of grad school, I traveled home often, the breaks in my academic terms providing natural times of travel and refreshment.

A country road outside of Princeton, WI, where some of my family members live.

Somewhere along the way, though–moving abroad, getting married, moving to Canada, having jobs–my regular jaunts to Wisconsin fell away. When I do make it back, it is usually for a long weekend, or a short week filled with Christmas chaos.

I was starting to feel disconnected and discombobulated.

The Neo-classical domed ceiling in the Waters Building of the Oshkosh Public Library, the library I grew up going to as a kid. Today, the Waters Building houses an impressive genealogical research center that helps me fact-check my ongoing interest in family history.

Wisconsin isn’t perfect but there is something about it that makes me feel whole–the flat, rolling cornfields (and, increasingly, soybean fields); the wide-open spaces; the faint tinge of manure in the air; the small towns and cities; the quietness; the sense of heritage, of having come from somewhere. To say nothing of the family and friends I still have there.

For all the opportunities Toronto affords me and my husband (who grew up here), my peace with this overcrowded, overpriced city has always been a little uneasy.

My first day back to work downtown in the Big-T… I miss July.

Getting back to Wisconsin was the single most centering, inspiring thing I have done this year–as a writer, yes, but also as a human being. I rekindled relationships, soaked in the sun and skies (and mosquitos), got back into running, finished a book manuscript (more on that soon!), cuddled with my new nephew, caught up on my genealogy research, and ate more dairy products than I have in a long time (this is Wisconsin, people). All in all, a much-needed break!

Where do you go to feel whole and reconnected?


4 Responses

  1. […] was a hot, muggy morning last week, the final day of my month-long vacation in Wisconsin,  and my abdomen was in a state of turmoil. I’d later realize my stomach tumult was not […]

  2. Sam Holiday says:

    I just finished your book TIME & DESPONDENCY, and have come to understand my own despondency more clearly, as well as avenues of transformation. It is meaningful to find an author who writes so personally yet with great depth and practicality and honesty. Thank you. I am a Wisconsinite (West Bend) of 31 years. While not Orthodox, our daughter joined the Orthodox church in Nicholasville, KY some years back, opening up for me a whole new stream of understanding that has greatly enriched my life. My wife and I recently visited the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Pennsylvania with our daughter, who visits there regularly.

  3. Sam Holiday says:

    Your book & some blog entries highlight the need for more to be written on the juncture of spirituality and mental health. A friend of mine who deals with lifelong bipolar disorder loaned me a book by Nancy Kehoe
    Wrestling with our Inner Angels: Faith, Mental Illness, and the Journey to Wholeness
    by Nancy Kehoe; 2009; Jossey-Bass; San Francisco. Her webpage is
    I found it very interesting. In case you are not familiar, I thought you might find it of interest. I would love to see more material from an author with medical background make connections to spirituality from an eastern orthodox perspective. In the more conservative Protestant community there is much misunderstanding and wounding.

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