A response to the Family Matters Writing Prompt

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2020 was full of a lot of tantrums… grown-up tantrums. By me.

When my teenagers were toddlers, I could predict a tantrum a mile away. There was always a predictable precedent; there was a confluence of factors that combined to create the perfect conditions for a storm. Much like jet streams intersect with a powerful precision to create wind and waves, 2020 combined some of my worst fears. One day, the warm jet stream could win out, and life would be smooth. The next day — or even in a matter of minutes — the arctic blast could overcome the…


WARNING! THIS ARTICLE HAS SOME SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE SOUL IN IT! I’ll warn you when we get close, and when it’s safe to keep reading. For now, you’re OK.

When my children were young — around ages 2, 4, and 6 — I used to make them hide their McDonald’s Happy Meals under their shirts as best they could and sprint from the car to the front door. If they made it to the front door without neighbors seeing the Happy Meals, they would get a cookie. I did this to avoid neighborly judgment. During this run-for-it moment, my…


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Volume 7: Hindsight

Dearest Readers,

The goal was 12.

On January 1st, I made a lot of predictions for the year, as I’m sure you did too. My new planner came equipped with a vision board section right at the front. I was prompted to lay out my high-level goals for 2020, and it even had a big blank area to create a collage of images to set intentions. I grabbed my stack of old Vanity Fair issues and got to cutting and pasting. …


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Photo Credit: Tim Mossholder for Unsplash

Volume 6: Curation

Dearest Readers,

I’m staring at the sun setting over the Kansas side of my house. I live in a neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri, that is very close to the state line. I can see KS from my backyard. The sky has been hazy for a week, and I’m not a meteorologist, but I think it’s blowing in from the West Coast. Peculiarly, it is making me more homesick than usual.

Most of my loyal readers know that I was born and raised in California. My first home was in the…


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I ran my first 10k race on Sunday. It was not my first time running 10k, but it was my first time running it “officially” — masked at the starting line, distanced and sanitized.

I woke up excited at the possibility of beating my goal. You know those moments in life when you just KNOW something can actually happen? Everything falls into place… the spaghetti you ate last night was perfect, the sleep was deep and undisturbed, you forced some fuel and hydration even though you weren’t hungry or thirsty, you planned and prepared, and the weather was just right.


Earlier this week, I almost got hit by a G-Wagon.

Of all the cars to be almost hit by, I’m glad it was this one. I envisioned the driver getting out of the vehicle and wailing over my injured body–begging me not to report him, saying something like, “I will do whatever you want.” I hold out my scarred hand for the keys, and get up and drive off.

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That is not what happened. What actually happened was not as exciting. We both stopped suddenly, waved sheepishly, smiled, and went our separate ways. The driver was turning right on a…


This month, I received three magazines in the mail: Men’s Health, Runner’s World, and Vanity Fair. Here they are, laid out on my table.

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Do you notice anything? Three different magazines, three different audiences, each with the same inspiration for a “special edition.” It isn’t a coincidence that these magazines devoted an issue to centering the Black experience — understanding our shared responsibility to pursue racial equity in America. But while I appreciate the synchronized focus on racism, I hope that justice demands aren’t a one-time-a-year special edition or a singular corporate statement. …


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I am perched on the exam table wrapped in a paper gown, waiting for my first appointment with a new primary care provider. The nurse is typing into my chart very quickly, her long nails clicking loudly on the keys. I am cold in that gown, and visibly shivering. I don’t think anyone notices. I am new to the city and shopping for a medical home — with very little consumer information to go off of, I choose a provider off the list my new insurance company provides based on distance from my house.

The nurse flies through the screening…


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Volume 5: Comfort Seeking

Dearest Readers,

Although we are in the dog days of Summer, there seems to be a sort of Summertime Hygge afoot. Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is a Danish concept meant to capture the feeling of safety and coziness that comes with pursuing ordinary happiness through comfy things. Normally, we hear a lot about this from companies trying to sell us weighted blankets during Winter. But I’ve noticed a unique type of Hygge lately among my friends and friend-acquaintances that seems to stem from the upheaval of the world. …


Watching my 16-year-old son get arrested stirred up a mix of love, pride, anger, and (maybe) envy. The fact that his Dad is a cop and I work in Public Health added some other layers of emotional complexity.

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The three calls from my ex-husband came around 8pm in rapid succession. It had been a long day. I was sitting on my back porch in my new silk robe (thanks to a recent NYT article about it being the must-have summer fashion) nursing a Gin with a single ice cube. The air was hazy from either the upwind action of the…

Dr. Sarah Marie Martin

Lover of politics, data viz, storytelling, tech, and oversharing. Public Health champion, Policy PhD, and VP of Health Solutions @ mySidewalk.

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