Essays by Karen Anderson

Essay: Yoga Teacher

May 22, 2020

When I walk into my yoga class, I notice that there’s a different teacher and I’m immediately upset.  Where is our regular instructor?  Who is this substitute?  Why weren’t we told?  Maybe I should just leave.



The new instructor introduces herself as Laura and offers no explanation.  Instead, she invites us to sit cross-legged on our mats and center ourselves.  Center myself?  Impossible!  I’m churning with irritation.

Essay: Windbreaker

May 8, 2020

Many years ago, my husband gave me a blue nylon windbreaker—very simple and lightweight, with side pockets and a hood.  I loved that jacket and wore it everywhere—jogging, camping, canoeing, and just hanging out on the back porch.  I had washed it a hundred times and it always came out looking like new.

Essay: No Regrets

May 8, 2020

It was long ago now, but I remember it vividly because I still use her advice.  I was taking a workshop on “Assertiveness Training” and the instructor was talking about saying no.

“Let’s suppose your neighbor asks you to watch her kids tomorrow and you can’t do it or don’t want to do it.”  Everyone in the class nodded; we were all women and we’d all been in this situation before, either asking or answering.

Essay: Laughing Buddha

Apr 24, 2020

My mother had a lovely vanity table with a three-way mirror and fancy bottles of perfume and a little dish where she kept her diamond ring.  At the edge of all this elegance stood a small wooden statue of the Laughing Buddha.  



Essay: Helping Eddie

Apr 17, 2020

Fresh out of college, I took a job teaching eighth grade English.  One of my classes was a group of students who were struggling, academically and socially—and I quickly discovered I was not prepared for this challenge.      


Essay: Exactly As It Should Be

Apr 10, 2020

You’d never mistake U. S. 31 South for the scenic route.  It’s as ugly as its name and U.S. 31 North isn’t a lot better.  Still, this is the highway you have to take to get to Traverse City—unless you know the area and can slip in on some side road.


Essay: Brownie

Apr 3, 2020

I am picking out something to eat in a coffee shop when my eyes linger on a plate of  brownies.  

“The mocha frosting is to die for,” the salesperson says. 

Essay: Uneventfulness

Mar 27, 2020

Several years ago, I heard a woman give a talk about a trip to Greenland where she lived with theInuit people, traveled by dog sled, ate raw seal meat. It wasn’t the kind of vacation most of us would choose—but for her, it was life-changing.

Essay: Change of Attitude

Mar 20, 2020

I am sitting in my car waiting for the light to change so I can turn right.  It’s a long light and I have a short fuse, feeling irritable and impatient.


Essay: At My Worst

Mar 13, 2020

This morning I’m driving my daughter to a dentist appointment and she complains about everything—the weather, the traffic, the bagel she had for breakfast.  Neither of us talks about what’s really bothering her, of course. Her private worries about the dentist.  



Essay: Taking a Fall

Mar 6, 2020

I was walking downtown to meet a friend for lunch and tried to kick a chunk of ice off the sidewalk.  The ice didn’t budge but I fell straight down onto the concrete, cursing my stupidity. Slowly, I sat up and felt my forehead, seeing my hand covered with blood.


My husband and I are playing Monopoly with our granddaughter, Emmy. She’s 11 years old and loves the game, although she rarely wins.

Essay: On the playground

Feb 20, 2020

I live near Traverse City’s Central Grade School and whenever I pass the playground during recess, I can’t help but marvel at the noise.  There is almost constant screaming—but not unhappy screaming.  These are young kids having fun

Essay: Soul Mates

Feb 20, 2020

My good friend Kay has been asked to do a reading at her granddaughter’s wedding.  She sent me the passage which is from a popular novel called “The Alchemist.”



Essay: Mind and Body

Feb 20, 2020

When I was young and single, I lived in Chicago for a few years and worked in an office downtown.  Every day at noon, I grabbed my book and my lunch and found a place where I could read and eat.



Essay: Gift Box

Jan 23, 2020


Essay: Bad Boss

Dec 27, 2019

He might have been the worst boss I ever had. I’ll call him Roy and he could have been a giftedleader. 

Essay: Manger Scene

Dec 20, 2019

Every year just before Christmas, my grandfather invited me to help him set up the manger sceneon his fireplace mantel.

Essay: Anonymous

Dec 13, 2019

When I came to Traverse City from Chicago in 1970, I didn’t plan to stay. I was young andsingle and couldn’t imagine living in such a small town where everybody knew everybody. Iliked being anonymous in a big city, the sense of freedom and possibility.

Giving Thanks

Nov 23, 2019


Giving Thanks

When I was growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, our family attended a congregational church where my favorite service was Thanksgiving.  On this occasion, the sanctuary was dimly lit and utterly silent—and once we were all seated, a pageant unfolded.