I’m a mother of 5, wife and teacher. I love creating conversations with words. I believe words are powerful things that can inspire action. If you can’t “do”, you can still create action with your words!
Unmasking the Real Heroes.
To the real community heroes: kind people everywhere, There’s something different about kind people—they really care. They care about what they are doing and how they make others feel; they just care differently than the rest of the world, and it’s these kinds of people that are the real community heroes.
Dear Mom, I know I have had different kinds of teachers in my life. There were strict ones that focused on what I “couldn’t do” or “shouldn’t” do. Then there were “simple” ones that dumbed things down so much, I felt like I was stuck in preschool. I also had some “better than normal” teachers, and I could go on about the types of teachers I’ve experienced in my lifetime, but that’s not really the point. The point is—YOU—were my “model” teacher. You wore your content every day. You were and still are my walking three dimensional figure of the subject area of LIFE that you continue to teach me. I know many times you feel underqualified and undereducated because you didn’t graduate from college and get numerous degrees in life. However, you have taught me more about life than I care to admit on most occasions (sorry), but HOW you’ve taught me is what really makes you the hero in my book. You didn’t say, “ok turn to page____ and remember steps xyz—you just LIVED. You shaped me with your life, your decisions, your mistakes, and your vulnerability.
Nappy New Year!
I know. I know….cheesy title right? But I had to do it because it just fit all too well—and this is a guide on how to get in more naps this New Year. Yes that’s right, that painfully dreaded word, by anyone under the age of 18 that is. I remember being under eighteen—once. My parents would go on a much needed respite from parenting and leave us with our Aunt Monica. She was single and never had any children of her own, but somehow she “knew” parenting at best required every non-adult (that’s 17 and under) to take afternoon naps. Not sure what parenting magazine she was reading, but it was enforced like a cop on quota (no offense to cops…we all have a job to do)! It never failed and we always went down kicking and screaming. Now that I’m a parent, I understand the STRICT enforcement—it gives the “adult” (that’s me) a break…and maybe it does some good for the kid too! As you age and hit adulthood the NAP becomes a cherished and sought after thing. No longer are you going down kicking and screaming; you are kicking and screaming to go down, even if it’s for just 10 minutes. Crazy how things change…right? Or did they change at all?
Cheers to 2022 and the REST it will Bring!
If you know me, you know I don’t “rest”—well not very much anyway. On the Myers Briggs spectrum I’m an ESTJ, which means if I’m not running off to the next social gathering, setting up for it, or cleaning up after it…you might find me doing houseWORK— laundry, cleaning, organizing drawers or closets, taking care of the kids etc... However, what you will rarely find me doing is resting! The Oxford dictionary defines rest as: the ceasing of work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. When I try to rest, any one of my five kids are going to ask me to get up for something—fix a chocolate milk, get them batteries, wipe a hiney etc… but I can’t completely blame it on them. There are many times I try to rest and they aren’t even around, yet the ESTJ inside of me starts asking—-don’t you have laundry to do? Are there dishes in the sink? For a while, I can simply answer her questions, and then she starts demanding me to get up and get busy. I usually give in rather than live under the guilt and shame she lathers mercilessly upon me. She believes resting is a waste of time, and for so long I’ve agreed! However, this past couple of years has had me rethinking my beliefs on the matter.
You Know A Tree By Its Fruit.
Mystery is a funny thing. A mysterious person intrigues us and keeps us hanging around to figure them out. A mysterious happening keeps our attention as we wonder and question, in hopes of ironing it all out. There is an arousal that happens with this thing called mystery. We are stirred with a passion to unravel it, to unlock it; and I, like many others, was awakened to this stirring by a pear-tree. That’s right, a mysterious tree that had either been planted alone or time had erased all signs of other tree “company”. There it stood on a forsaken highway, looking dry, displaced and fruitless to the passerby. I had driven by this tree many times in the last year and every time I did I felt sad for the tree. Sad it was here, sad it was alone, sad it was not bearing fruit; for that was its purpose and sadly this tree hadn’t seen the likes of a bud (in multiple forms of the word) in ages. It seemed so futile, a fruit tree with no fruit. Everyday I drove by and wondered why. Why leave it up? Why not just tear it down? It stuck out like a sore thumb anyway, and so the wondering began to build. Then one day as I was driving by I noticed an old shoe hanging from one of its branches. It caught my eye but honestly I didn’t give too much thought to it. I’ve seen stranger things, and in my neck of the woods hanging tennis shoes are not so uncommon. However, time passed and like a mystery, those shoes must have inspired people. For whatever reason they beaconed people to stop and little by little I noticed more shoes showing up.
What is confessing...it’s not admitting. It’s not to say yes I did it, although many of the confessions you hear may lead you to admission, or admitting that you too are guilty of the thing someone else is confessing. That’s a first step...but the follow through is in MY confession. Confessing starts with ME not someone else. It’s acknowledging the legitimate guilt and shame I feel because I KNOW (I have seen, I have experienced) MY brokenness. As people—we must begin to acknowledge our brokenness to one another to find freedom, forgiveness and healing. We by no means have to own illegitimate brokenness (guilt and shame others have placed on us because we don’t measure up to their “standard”. God has a standard “perfection” and he says NO man measures up —(no not one). We are all broken but broken in different ways. The “cracks” we find are in different places. Confession is that place where I acknowledge MY fractures. When I do that I can begin to give those places the attention they need to be mended. All too often we want people to “admit” their faults. We want to do the pointing, showing them their cracks and them agreeing to fix them. There may be a place for admission but TRUE healing comes from the place of confession. It starts with ME seeing MY “fault” and when I see it...I want it to be fixed. I want it to be different. I want to be healed and mended. However, that means we have to introspective. We must look at ourselves instead of everyone around us, and we’re not so great at looking in the mirror. We don’t like what we see, and in turn avoid the time we need to spend there to really see the cracks and discover their beauty. The cracks are not our enemy in fact they are our best assets, benefiting us in more ways than we want to admit. First, the cracks keep us humble. They remind us of our fragility… that we can only pretend to be invincible. That is a gift! Without them, we may convince ourselves that we are better and in need of nothing. Secondly, the cracks connect us. They create a belonging in humanity even if we’re not looking for it. They tell me I have a place, just like you. They tell you, that you are not alone. Third, they speak. They speak of strength and endurance. They remind us that even though we aren’t perfect, we are hardy and we will make it through. So why avoid the cracks? Why not inspect their beauty and let them adorn our value. Take time to notice them, mend them and embellish them elements that may enhance their strength and beauty. Just as the Japanese do with kintsukuroi.
Her Strength is Built in Baths.
“When surrounded by the cares of the world, she bathes; she washes the worries and works away.” —Natalie Stover The art of bathing has been around for a very long time. We could follow it back to nomadic tribes who would submerge themselves in natural hot springs to bring healing and peace to their bodies. Somehow, the springs beckoned them to soak in their natural elements, and even call truce in a survival of the fittest culture where only the strong survived. Sometimes, only these places offered peace, unity and healing amongst enemies and war. The art of bathing has always been a place where even the most barbaric can harness peace and let the worries of this world vanish for a moment, so I choose to glean from history and partake in this art as much as I can this year.
We grew up in a simple home, a home filled with plain things. There was no TV, no fine china and most days no shoes on the calloused feet of that ten year old boy running down the streets of Jackson, Mississippi. Jackson was a pretty plain place to grow up; most folks didn’t have much. My brothers and I had learned to make lots out of nothin. There were four of us—my older brother Charlie who was fourteen, my eight year old brother Ryan, the four year old—Jake, and me. I’m sure you can imagine just how inventive four boys growing up in the backwoods of nowhere can be. My momma always said, “Less is more—Johnny”, anytime I’d complain about what we didn’t have. I always thought it was because it made her feel better about what she couldn’t give us, and maybe it was, but I’m beginning to think there might have been a lot more to what she had to say.
The Craft of Creating.
There’s something about being creative that silences the world around me and brings me inner peace. I think it’s because being creative forces me to shut out all of the outside noise and just listen to my inner thoughts and ideas. I finally get to listen to ME. Our days are filled with so many “other” voices: bosses, friends, family, kids, media etc… When I finally get the chance to sit down with myself and create something, it's like hitting the road for the first day of vacation. There’s an open road in front of me, no responsibilities or obligations, just time and opportunities that seem endless. I’m finally in the driver's seat determining directions, and with every decision comes a new adventure, new scenery and new destinations. It doesn’t really matter what I’m creating, as long as I’m the one designing, fashioning, making or devising…it’s then the world is silent and my soul gets the hush it needs.
Just One of the Boys.
I grew up with a fairly big family, lots of aunts and uncles. My mother was one of six and my father one of five. When the two of them decided to get married they were blessed with four. My mom tried to stop after two boys, but when she went to have her tubes tied the routine pregnancy test ruined her plans. So, then there were four—my two older brothers, and then me and my twin sister. If it wasn’t hard enough growing up with two older brothers, when my sister and I were four, my parents bought a house on a street with all boys. My sister and I were the only two girls out of the fifteen kids living down Gapway, and she fit in better than I.