On Profit and The Love of Words


My love of words started in high school. Mrs. Deeser’s latin class. I didn’t love Latin, in particular. And I sure didn’t love Mrs. Deeser, at least at first. But I loved the excavating, the dissecting, the discovery of what a word meant, working until you came to it’s original intent. I loved seeing it’s evolution and appreciating how it’s use changed over time. And how, when understanding it in the original language, a word meant something deep.   


It was freshman year of college, when I learned there was a fancy term to describe this very process: Etymology.


I found myself in an small English class, maybe 8 of us students, with a professor who limped and wore a brace on his ankle. My mom died three months earlier and I sometimes felt like I was just struggling to breathe, let alone have the ability to read Moby Dick or discuss it at length with 18 year olds whose biggest worry was weather it was okay to drink on Thursday and Friday nights. 


We marched through the syllabus, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Paco’s Story, good Lord — we really did read Moby Dick and I still remember the paper I wrote on it (pulled my first all-nighter on that one), and T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, which I swear was just a middle-age man trying to get a woman.  


We’d come to learn our professor was a Vietnam vet.

And that words were important.

And that sometimes feeling connected, like the friendship between Ishmael and Queegueg in Moby Dick, can feel like salvation. And that J. Alfred Prufrock might sound like a frustrated man, but he might have just been trying to figure out how to find meaning in a life that so often seems measured out in tiny spoons.




When Nadia, my first child, was somewhere between four and six months old, she finally, finally, she began to nap in regular chunks. Wake at 6:30-7am. Nap from 9-10:30. Another nap at 1. One more (a cat nap) around 5. Back to bed just after 7pm. 


I was home A LOT. 


I also had a flip phone. It was red. (We’d only recently converted to non-dial up internet connection.) … just to give you some context.


There’s a very concrete memory in my mind, like a photograph, of an entire chunk of my life: I sat at our desk in our bedroom, composing lengthy emails to my highschool friends. After hitting send, I just waited. Drank coffee. Folded some laundry. Went back to the computer and hit the refresh button, over and over and over, checking if anyone wrote back.


If they did, I’d compose yet another verbose email in reply. If they didn’t, I waited. It was a lot of pressure to put on my friends without kids or the ones who were working full time.


When Nadia was awake, I had no time for the computer. But when she was asleep, I didn’t know what to do with myself.


I was lonely. I was looking for support.


What I needed, wanted, craved — was connection with other mothers.






Prefix: Pro-   (Latin)  

  • forward, for, on behalf of


Root word: Facere (Latin)

  • the act of doing, making creating
  • oh my gosh, the second definition is: birth, childbirth, the act of creating, the opposite of loss.


The original definition of the word PROFIT is: on behalf of, to advance, to be useful in making and creating.




For a long time for me, my work, the work I was trained to do and got paid for was tangible. As an ICU nurse I cared for the sick, hurt, dying. For a long time, I felt like my work mattered.


Yet there always seemed to be more.


More car accidents. More shootings. More people making bad decisions. More anger boiled over into rage resulting in a fight. More hurt. More sicknesses overtaking bodies. Maybe it was because I worked in trauma. Maybe it was just a fact of life.


But it started to feel like my purpose, my work, the way I could help, was just a drop in the ocean. As if I had a life measured out in coffee spoons.


I didn’t write for a long time because it felt like putting words down on paper, letting my thoughts out, bearing my heart had no purpose. 


But I’ve changed my mind.


Writing, connecting, sharing, encouraging — is profitable.


It’s worth something.


In the middle of this world that seems full of tragedy and heartache, in a world that feels like it’s on fire — I’m writing.



Because being a mother — when the demands are endless, when the world outside your home or your neighborhood feels combative, when all you want is someone to say you’re doing a GOOD job, you are not alone — shouldn’t feel so isolating in this day and age when moms no longer have red flip-phones.


Yes, I want to change the world. I do. I have a first-child-put-me-on-a-stage-listen-to-what-I-have-to-say way about me. There’s a lot of big things I’d like to see happen and be a part of. I’d like to do a lot of good in this world.


But just like the grass roots efforts that eventually changes policy at a national level, we are called to begin the work right in front of us.




It’s more than an honor to be a writer for Coffee+Crumbs, the collaborative motherhood blog where I’m published once a month. Not only is the site beautiful and the essays are written with excellence, it’s an entire community for young moms to to come and rest. To feel connected. Encouraged. Less alone in this crazy, sometimes scary, beautiful-between-the-lines world.


It’s a place that’s making a difference in the lives of countless of moms around the world (thank you, Internet).


Coffee+Crumbs is a place of profit — the real meaning of the word.


A lot of people don’t know this, but the two ways to make money on the internet is

  1. Get paid to write about products or services or
  2. Sell advertising space.


Coffee+Crumbs does neither.


The founder created the site to be a place for calm and quiet for moms. Such a blessing in this too noisy world. It’s a refuge filled with beautiful words, absent of outside pressure.


And we’d like to keep it that way.


But we need some help.


It’s pledge drive week over at Coffee+Crumbs and we’re asking our readers to donate as little as $1 a month (that’s $12 a year!) in support of our work.


I’m asking you — if you, like us, think what we do for moms has benefit — profit (on behalf of mothers, to advance motherhood and beauty and connection and support, to be useful in making and creating essays and a community full of grace and encouragement) please consider donating here.


(fyi: The $5 and $10 patrons get bonus material — like easy recipe plans and extra podcasts.)


There’s very little money in writing. (I actually pay money out for spillingover.com) But I’ll continue to do it. Because I love it. And know there’s value in it.


And I’ll continue to write at Coffee+Crumbs regardless of the money we bring in.


It’s just so nice, like when I was a young mom struggling to feel like I was doing a good job, to know other people not only see what you’re doing has value, but they want to support you in it.





photo cred: https://unsplash.com/photos/B4kC77aTxrE  Jenna Norman

Sonya Spillmann


  1. I love this, Sonya. (I had a pink flip phone….I kind of miss it.) I feel the same way about words and writing and reading as you do. I’m glad we get to write together. It makes me feel less lonely.

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