{scintilla day 7}


List the tribes you belong to: cultural, personal, literary, etc.


If you had asked me this question when I was a teenager, the answer would have been: none.

I never fit into any of the available slots, too smart to hang out with the cool kids, too cool to hang out with the smart kids, too shy to hang out with the popular kids. I was not into sports, not into parties, not into chess, or designer clothes or smoking cigarettes out by the fence. I was the proverbial square peg. My senior year, when everyone else was wearing Calvin Klein jeans and high heels and curly, permed hair, I dressed like a hippie in torn jeans, gauzy shirts, Jesus sandals, hair long and straight and parted down the middle. I had learned just enough by then to allow myself that much.

I belonged to the tribe of angst as a teenager, this is when I started writing poetry. This is when I learned to enjoy being alone. This is when my heart was broken for the first time.


If you had asked me this question when I was in my early 20s, the answer would have been: I AM WOMAN, and yes, I would have roared.

These were my feminist years, learning what it meant to be a woman in the world, the unfairness, the injustice, the constant thread of sexuality that ran through every interaction I had with men. I spent months, years, reading sociological studies, learning more and resenting everything I read. Resenting men, resenting the fact that I was not one. I never learned to be coy or charming, never used my gender in my favor, never stopped fighting the unfairness of it all.


In my mid-twenties I joined the tribe of mother. And then I understood the true difference between men and women. And yes, I’d love to be able to say that parenting is the same for men as it is for women. But it isn’t. And I’m not saying that men don’t make fabulous parents, or that they are inferior as parents. My own father was the best one a girl could ever have. It’s just different. As a mother, you become protector. Teacher. Moderator. And more, so much more.

But when it comes right down to it, you are a she-bear. And then you will REALLY roar.


If you had asked me this question when I was in my 30s, the answer would have been: artist, mother, wife, reader, business owner.

This was the decade of doing, too busy to have much angst, too tired to complain. I accomplished. Whatever needed to be done, this is what I did. I was happy with who I was, happy with where I was, and there was always something that needed to be done. These were the years of too-little sleep and not enough time. There was always someplace to be, a deadline on my forehead, a child that needed tending, a house that needed care, a husband that needed time, a life that needed living. I wrote very little in these years. I put all of that on the back burner and let it simmer.

I belonged to the tribe of family in my 30s, and this is when I started to be comfortable with myself.


If you had asked me this question when I was in my 40s, the answer would have been: invalid, daughter, seeker, and finally, writer.

In my early 40s I was sick for a year. And though it all worked out in the end, turning out to be something fixable, it was a lost year. I learned what it’s like to be invisible, that there are two pronunciations to the word invalid. But this year taught me a simple, valuable lesson: to appreciate the fact that I am alive.

My parents started aging in these years, and I came full-circle as a daughter. I spent time care-taking and appreciating everything they gave to their children.

I stretched beyond what do I want to do with my life into it’s time to start doing something. I started writing again, unfolding those pages one layer at a time, testing, exposing, learning. I brought along all the tribes I have ever belonged to and we had a big party. One that went on for years and made a big mess, and in the end, only the strong were left standing.

I belonged to the tribe of hope in my 40s, I came home to a place I hadn’t known I missed, and words became my companion.


Now, as I am ready to enter my 50s, I have come to understand that the tribe I truly belong to is that of humanity.

No matter how we try to section ourselves off into groups, we can’t escape this simple fact.

We are all here, in this one tribe, together.

The tribe of grace.


this post is part of the scintilla project. see more here.


21 Responses to “tribes
{scintilla day 7}

  • inkytwig Says:

    I love the evolution. I love “tribe of grace” – it all really comes down to that, yes? I think so too. And it is a lovely tribe to be part of.

  • Esther Says:

    This post spoke volumes to me. Thank you.

  • Kathryn Dyche Dechairo Says:

    Love this post. It’s so true how we morph and change through the years and become parts of different ‘tribes’ along the way. You’ve got me thinking!

  • Robin Says:

    “The tribe I truly belong to is that of humanity.” Yes! I love everything about this post, and it resonates with me on so many levels. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, your grace.

  • mark Says:

    Wow…this is beautiful….

  • Cassie Says:

    Oh my goodness. This was beautiful. The different stages you’ve gone through as a woman– pretty incredible stuff. (Your description of your high school self sounds just like me, never fitting into one particular group.)

  • Jennie Says:

    I love and appreciate this post.

  • Pat Byers (Tilda) Says:

    i love this. remarkably penned. i love it that we grow, as women, as humans. i love it that as we age and change tribes, we eventually find ourselves. but it comes in the decade of our 40’s and 50’s. and in the past 5 years, i know more about me than i did 15 years ago, when i thought i DID know me. i liked her, i like her even better now.

  • Anna Montgomery Says:

    A tribe of grace, what a gorgeous sentiment. Thank you for including us in your tribe.

  • Noel Says:

    I really, really love the angle you took with this post. It DOES change, but there is a common thread running through them all. Beautiful.

  • T. Allen Says:

    Lovely, just lovely…having just been cast out of one tribe, I have a restored hope that I’ll find that sense of belonging again, if not in a decade or role, in the grace of humanity.

  • Jannie Funster Says:

    Wonderful. Post.

    You started motherhood earlier than I. It IS work!! 🙂 These days my parents are growing older and I’m not there. I feel guilty about that in passing.

    The tribe of humanity, yes. I like that a lot.

    And Grace. Thank you for the reminder.

    And you the strongest standing after the party, and sailing into your best years ahead.


  • Kim Says:

    My goodness. This is magnificent. I love the gentle roll of the changing decades and the way none of them were wrong–just different.

  • Diane Says:

    Awesome post!
    Great shot!

  • beth Says:

    this is beautiful….
    but i also think you belong to the tribe known as bloggers 🙂

  • Elizabeth Howard (@smallstate) Says:

    I have so much to say to you! I want to climb up on the sofa with you and put my head on your shoulder. This is a beautiful post that say so so much about you, but about the world, about western culture, about being female.

    I feel lost right now as a mother trying to adopt children and being unable to have my own. I feel alone like I never have before. I feel grateful for my friends online and their wide open hearts.

  • Kate Says:

    My good gracious, was this ever good. Just entering the 50’s? You spring chicken, you ~

  • Jen Says:

    Tribe of humanity. Indeed. 🙂

    I was hooked on this entry from the get-go. Great job, it was a very enjoyable read.

  • Stereo Says:

    Another of your best, Kelly and people have expressed my sentiments better than I can. I love the way you have done this, each time moving effortlessly into the next and as Kim said; none of them are wrong.

  • Katja Says:

    The way that you segue through the different ages is gorgeous. Like you, I’ve been through different incarnations. I’ve never really felt totally at home in any of them, though. I’m a loner by nature and, though the human need to belong is very strong, it’s never quite been strong enough for me to stay entirely. The tribe of grace, though. That sounds like something I can get behind.

  • rhayne Says:

    You are such a thoughtful and intelligent writer.
    Beautiful post.

I cherish your comments...