Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I was like as a kid.

Something in the air yesterday struck me, and the crisp air sent me back to being seven in Merlin, OR and the old leather swing I fell asleep on, losing myself under madrona trees. Waking up to wander again, my grandpa would be walking around the property in his worn red hat and suspenders, smelling like diesel and Old Spice, and as long as I stayed out of the way, I could watch him work in the garage on his projects. My grandma was inside cooking meat too tough to chew or making collages from old magazines. She was never much of a cook, but if we were lucky, she’d bake zucchini bread, and nothing else mattered except the sticky sweetness of love and food you grew yourself.

Remembering thoughts I used to have and the way I used to have them, I realized something.

I haven’t changed very much.

I like many of the same things. Playing on swings, dressing up like a princess, old George Strait songs, making people happy with a meal.

I want the same things. Performing on every stage I can find, baking for the whole damn neighborhood, challenging myself constantly with the new, a garden like my grandmother’s in the middle of nowhere, to be swept off my feet by someone entirely unexpected.

But some things have changed. I’ve discovered I’m particularly good at sweeping when I want to be. Apparently, I have Keeper written all over me, which may be part of the reason so many men have wanted to keep me in a jar on display on a mantle somewhere. You learn to be careful there.

You learn to be more careful with your heart, too. Despite evidence to the contrary, I still can’t help but think people are good and deserve to be trusted. The problem seems to come up when it turns out they don’t yet know how to trust themselves. I’ve been careless with my heart lately, and it aches just enough it let me know I’m learning something important here. Sometimes, you love the wrong ones at the wrong times, and you can’t help but thinking, “Of course I do.”

You learn to be more careful with other people’s hearts. Sometimes a “no” or “not now” can be the most heartfelt and kind thing you can do for someone, even if they can’t see it right then. Sometimes you try your best, and someone gets hurt anyway.

These aren’t the things we think about as kids. We don’t worry about callousness, because we haven’t experienced it, or about people being emotionally unavailable, because when you’re that vulnerable, how could you? It’s enough to worry about thinking about trying to choke down grandma’s overdone steak with ketchup and canned fruit.

But ultimately, meals heal empty stomachs and and time heals broken hearts. And just maybe, the sticky sweetness of love and zucchini bread can make it all okay again.

Recent + Relevant Posts:


The most valuable lesson I learned in 2023

Parts of this are probably going to come out wrong, but I hope you’ll bear with me as I suss this out. I think there’s something important here for more than just me. It’s me! Hi! I’m the problem, it’s me! The most valuable work lesson I learned this year? Not being so trigger-happy on…

Reinvention Co - Dusti Arab

a manifesto to improve the personal development space

Hi. I’m Dusti, a Fractional CMO and marketing strategist in the personal development space, and as a long-time service provider, I am an outspoken critic of the false promises, hypocrisy, and theft rampant in this multi-billion-dollar unregulated, and often harm-causing corner of the internet. Despite it all, I think there is good here – and…

Reinvention Co - Dusti Arab

With love from Colorado

Sitting at Corinne for brunch with my three beverages – orange juice for morning sickness, water for life, and coffee for my brain – I think I’ve finally adapted to the altitude and caught up on the lack of sleep. I’ve been in Denver since last Friday for The Failure Ball, seeing some of my…

Reinvention Co - Dusti Arab

Unexpected news

I’m still reeling from Wednesday. Making good on a campaign promise, Biden’s administration provided student loan relief to millions – including myself. As a recipient of Pell grants, meaning I was very poor when I went to college, $20,000 of my student loans were effectively wiped away with the stroke of a pen. I had…