A solid two months and counting with the ongoing presence of the Dixie Fire has proven this truth in my life. All photos in this story are by the author over the past few months.

I haven’t written much in the last 60+ days that didn’t have something to do with the Dixie Fire here in Plumas County, California. The acreage burnt has reached past the magic million mark this morning, after the Dixie merged with the simmering remnants of the Beckwourth Complex.

It has been a long, dry summer laden with smoke, starting early in June due to ongoing…

I signed up to try out Fiverr, a gig style freelancing website for a week. Here’s why I won’t return.

Like many freelance writers, I’ve tried out a plethora of ways to add income to my bank account through the work of crafting and editing stories. I thought Fiverr would be a good way to make easy cash, but it turns out, it’s kind of killing the worth of words to hire yourself out that way.

I made the account, and it asked that I create three different pricing tier packages for prospective clients to click when they were looking for a quick hire. …

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

It has been, in every which way possible, an absolutely insane year and a half. Much like many in our nation, I lost my job when the pandemic started to affect the local economy.

Again, like thousands of other Americans, I duly filed for unemployment in early April, receiving it the day before Christmas only for it be caught up, frozen, in the next round of potential identity theft a few days later.

I had to put my mind into a more productive place, in between the hundreds of phone calls to the EDD, surrounded by the multifaceted concerns of the world we find ourselves living in.

After the initial rush of toilet paper shortages, school closures, and event cancellations, folks around me began to really discuss how to perhaps change careers, go to…

‘Longing for Water’ — Used with permission by Ian Hoffmann

The day had dawned earlier than usual, it seemed, painting streaks of vivid tangerine and lemon across what threatened to be another stark, merciless blue day.

The sun mercilessly baked the moisture out of the ground before it even had a chance to soak in on these sweltering late August dog days of summer. It has not rained now for 782 days. Our tongues turn to ash in our silent mouths, cicadas singing through the dust until they, too, were mere whispering, rattling husks, skeletons drifted against the fence in the yard by the thousand.

Skin glistened with salt, and the ghostly drifting clumps of grey-green moss in the old magnolia trees hung stagnant, as if the oppressive stillness caused even the dead to remain hidden…

Photo by Dawid Zawila via Unsplash.

Let’s get honest about caring for someone experiencing sundowners.

“Normal" people don’t generally tense up when they look at the clock and realize that it’s almost the end of the traditional work day. When you’re caring for someone with a memory disorder, such as dementia or Alzheimers, however, the twilight hours can be fraught with tension, anxiety, and fear. The pre-event anxiety and anticipation can rob the day of joy. Why? One simple word: sundowning.

What is sundowning?

According to Mayo Clinic, “The term "sundowning" refers to a state of confusion occurring in the late afternoon and spanning into the night.”

All photos are the sole property of the author, Lauren F. Westmoreland

If only my younger sister didn’t have such an obsession with the vampires of the Pacific Northwest... It’s so early 2000s.

It’s leading us to the tiny town of Forks for an annual festival of people that like to imagine that they’ll also meet an undead hottie in the trees.

If only I hadn’t suggested a hike on that deceptively placid, soggy day. You can get lost in the land of if only, so I won’t stop here long.

Such a small thing- the turn of a doorknob, the flash of the needle, gleaming silver piercing thick cotton or wispy linen with a tiny pop, pulling waxed thread from a cracked wooden bobbin. As simple as breathing. …

My father in law and I hanging out that day he got home from the hospital after the Big Stroke in 2016. Photo by Ian Hoffmann

I’ve established in previous stories that what I’m writing here is from the point of view of a millennial caregiver. I’ve been asked by multiple people who qualifies as a millennial caregiver, and as a thirty-something year old, I suppose the easy answer is, it’s a caregiver from amongst my group of peers. We millennial caregivers are doing something that inexperienced folks refer to as “not a real job" - but there is nothing more real than helping someone you love end their life as beautifully and fully as possible.

I like to refer to us as the sandwich generation…

Here are 3 things you can do right now to feel more prepared as you jump in to the unknown.

My father in law, Ed, celebrates 80 trips around the sun. We got to spend five years together after his stroke, during which time I learned much about caregiving. Photo by Lauren Westmoreland
My now-departed and much loved father in law, Ed with his favorite doggy duo, Vincent and Skip, celebrating 80 trips around the sun. Photo by Lauren Flores

If you’re here, it’s probably because you have found yourself unexpectedly caring for your mom, dad, grandma, partner, or otherwise in a very intimate, intense way. You’re also likely a millennial, like me.

I grew up with caregiving as a way of life. My mom has Muscular Dystrophy, and went into a wheelchair full-time by the time I was nine years old. As I got older, the skill set I had gained carried over into my choice to be a caregiver professionally, as well as at home.

I helped many people struggle to live the most fulfilling lives they could…

You would think that a writer would have blown away every word count goal over the past year. I’ve had vast acres of previously booked time to fill, and as a writer, I figured I would fill that space with words. Like a writers retreat.

Turns out, I was very wrong. I couldn’t stop ingesting news headlines, and for the life of me, I couldn’t come up with a single story idea that didn’t feel trite in the face of what the world was experiencing. I couldn’t stop regurgitating the same tired thoughts and ideas.

For the first time in…

Like most of us, you’ve probably read or watched the story of Cheryl Strayed in ‘Wild’ and her crazy adventures with herself on the PCT, or Pacific Crest Trail. This story shares the perspectives of veterans who have found intense healing on that very same stretch of land.

On the afternoon of Saturday, July 2nd, local Portola Rotary Club members Ralph and Ann Taylor hosted a gathering for 4 veterans that were thru-hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail, from California to Washington, putting over 2,650 miles between themselves and the war.

This was the third year for the Portola Rotary to host the Warrior Hikers on their way up the PCT, and Rotary members take turns hosting veterans at their homes, feeding them up and giving access to hot showers and a warm bed.

All of this is organized by a veteran nonprofit “outdoor therapy program” called Warrior…

Lauren F. Westmoreland

Translating messy human experiences as a writer, cutting to the heart of humanity from as many perspectives as possible. https://linktr.ee/lfwestmoreland

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