cowardice

doing nothing…that’s cowardice. thinking the problem is too large for you to make a difference, so you don’t look for ways to be a part of the answer to the problem…that’s cowardice.

talking about your opinion of the problem and not educating yourself on all sides of the issue…that’s cowardice.  posting click bait articles on social media outlets because they support your biases and not checking to see if they are the least bit true…that’s cowardice.

telling the lady at the checkout at the grocery store that you are baking cookies to, um, give to your neighbors because she is biracial and you don’t want to tell her that you are actually baking them for your local police departments…that’s cowardice.

That last one…yeah, I did that.  Today, I did that.  She saw the flour, baking soda, and powdered sugar I was purchasing so she commented that it looked like I was going to be baking.  I told her I was.  She asked what I was going to bake.  I told her cookies.  She asked what kind.  I told her sugar cookies.  I said, “my daughters are going to bake cookies to…” (then I realized what I was about to say could cause…I don’t know what…could cause something unpleasant to happen, I guess)…so I said they were baking cookies to give to our neighbors, instead of telling her what they are really baking them for, which is to give to our local police departments to show our appreciation for them.  I was immediately ashamed, but I didn’t know what to do in that moment.  I didn’t want to start a discussion in the checkout line and I didn’t want her to think I only side with the police on the issues that have sparked such debate and hate and misunderstanding in the past week and months and years.  I felt paralyzed because my heart’s desire is to educate myself on all sides of these issues, but right now I don’t know her side well.  I’m only just starting to open my eyes and my heart and my mind to the things I was so ignorantly unaware of until just days ago, because I had never taken the time to think about them or educate myself on them before.  And that annoys me to no end.  I mean, I lived in another country and I  embrace that culture and love those people, for goodness’ sake, so why have I not been better about understanding and embracing the cultures within my own country??

So right now I am doing all that I know to do, which is to reach out to the police to show our support (a no-brainer and an easy thing to do, being that my husband is a retired state trooper and that’s the narrative I know well) and to educate myself on the African American culture, their history, and their daily reality.  But sadly, my resources in that area are much more limited at the moment.  That’s why I am researching. That’s why I’ve started following people like Latasha Morrison, the founder of Be the Bridge, so I can become more educated and find out what my next steps need to be.  I want to know everything I can know about all sides of the issues in order to be a bridge builder so that I personally, and hopefully we as a country, can cross this cavernous racial divide.  It’s too late in the game to stand by and do nothing.  It’s too important to talk about only on social media. This country needs bridge builders.  It needs people who refuse to take the cowardly way out.

And I need people to come alongside me and walk with me. I need people to educate me…both black people and police officers and anyone else who is ahead of where I am in this discussion.  So, please, if you can be helpful, I would love for you to add a comment and point me in the directions I need to go.  Where can I help?  How can I help in my community?  What resources can I tap to educate myself?  I know there are so many more avenues than the ones I have begun to look at in the last few days, but it IS overwhelming from where I stand in this moment.  I want to not be afraid to engage the woman at the checkout in an honest conversation, should the opportunity present itself.  I want to have this conversation with friends and with new people I meet.  I want this country to be a place where we can all feel heard and where we can all feel accepted and understood.

Let’s refuse to be cowards.

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by Photos8.com

 

 

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I Quit!

…quit giving up my time to wasteful activities, that is. I have made some worthy goals for myself this year, but my follow through has been derailed because of some time wasters I’ve identified and I’m done…done not reaching goals because I can sometimes be undisciplined in the use of the valuable minutes in the days gifted to me.

One huge time waster for me has been Facebook.  While it started out (years ago) as a way to keep in touch with many friends and contacts I’ve made throughout the years, it has turned into something for me to turn to when I have an idle moment.  Those idle moments can easily turn into idle half hours and whole hours and before I know it I have wasted who knows how many hours per week in an activity that really has no bearing on my life–it doesn’t help me get closer to reaching my goals, it doesn’t enhance my relationships, it only serves as a distraction from actually doing something productive for myself or for others.

I have found that although Facebook is supposed to be a way to connect with others, it has actually caused me (and I’m sure countless others) to not actually have to be involved in others’ lives. I can see what people are doing at any moment of the day and therefore it’s not really as necessary to pick up a phone to check up on someone, or schedule a lunch date to catch up, or any other number of things that would cause me to be more actively engaged in other people’s lives.  For an introvert  like me, that’s the way it is anyway.  It’s so easy to just “like” someone’s status or provide a comment, but I find that, for me, that’s not really connecting.  And, as an introvert, I’ve used Facebook as a cop out at times, when I actually need to make myself connect with people face to face, or voice to voice, or text to text.  For me, there’s just something much more personal about even a phone number to phone number text than a comment just posted among the many others. I need to disengage from Facebook in order to re-engage with the people who are important to me.

However, Facebook is also a way to stay informed. I follow many organizations that I want to keep up with and some areas I’m involved in use Facebook to advertise the latest happenings, so I don’t think I am going to go the route of deactivating my account…that would make it easier for me to stay off Facebook, but maybe it’s better that I work on my self-control.  The last several weeks it hasn’t been an issue for me anyway.  The desire to peruse my feed really isn’t there anymore.

I started the year with a goal to focus on joy in the every day by documenting daily moments of joy on social media, but I found myself not wanting to post every day, so I’ve decided to journal them (and maybe blog some) instead. The moments of joy are really for me to personally place my focus on, and hopefully I can share the highlights of what I’ve learned, rather than focusing on feeling like I’ve obligated myself to share daily posts.

my most recent #366momentsofjoy Instagram post

I do love me some Instagram though.  I find that I don’t get lost in an abyss there.  It’s simply scroll through and look at a few photos …it’s harder to overshare on Instagram and I find that most of the people I follow, and who follow me, are actually interested in my life, as I am in theirs. And I save my stupidity for my very few friends on Snapchat (mainly my fam), because sometimes I like to be silly, but not everyone appreciates my silliness, and my family basically has no choice but to put up with it.

So here’s to reading that book per week in 2016, working on my blog (the publicizing of which is another way that Facebook is actually helpful), and engaging more purposefully in important relationships.

 

The First Half

I’m careening head first into 40 (less than 9 months to go) and I’ve been kicking and screaming the whole way. There is no way I can be so close!  It’s like I never saw it coming. I did not prepare myself for this moment of my life.  I guess I expected to always be young…like, it happens to everyone else, but it’s not going to happen to me. I have spent 39 years in denial of the approaching decade.  At 24, I was dreading 25 because I thought it was scarily close to 30.  At 29, I thought my life was just about over because 30 always seemed ancient to me.  I still wasn’t ready to adult!  Some days, I still don’t think I am ready to adult, but here I am 9+ years past 30 and staring 40 in it’s face.  And you know what? I’m actually starting to believe it can be beautiful. I realize now that I have learned a lot in the first half my life (much of it within the past decade) that I’d like to go back and clue my 30 year old self in on, including:

  1. Not everyone will like you and that is actually okay.  I am a recovering people pleaser so this has been a particularly difficult one to grapple with, but I think I am there most days.  Whether it’s because of a misunderstanding, or clashing personalities, or just plain jealousy, not everyone thinks you’re amazing. But the important people do, and that’s all that matters.
  2. Not everyone will understand you and that, too, is okay.  Whether it’s because you’re an introvert (which I am and sometimes people have jumped to the conclusion that I am unfriendly because of this) or it’s because you make a decision that some people don’t agree with or can’t comprehend (like marry a divorced man with kids, or leave the US to live in a third world country, or return from that country because your gifts/talents are better utilized for that country at home….oh, I could go on), people will not always understand you.  And really they don’t need to.  You do you and let them do them and move on. It makes life much more chill for you.
  3. You find out who you are and you like it, but you also know you are still becoming. At 25, I had no idea who I was.  I was still searching for my identity. Not anymore.  I can look back and see that a career didn’t define me (that’s a good thing, because I never really had one!).  Becoming a wife didn’t define me. Adding the title of mom to my life’s resume didn’t define me either. The bad choices I made didn’t make me who I am.  The good choices didn’t either. The journey I’ve walked and the paths I’ve taken, the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made, the experiences I’ve had and even those I didn’t have, all of these things together play a part in making me who I am. But as long as I am on this side of Heaven, I will never stop growing, never stop becoming.  I continue to learn more about myself and who I was created to be every day.
  4. Enjoy the adventure. There have been many times in my life when I have fallen prey to the “ifs and whens” of life…when I get married, then life begins; when I have kids, then it will be even better; if we can make more money, then life will really be exciting; if I could move away, life would be more fun.  Nope, nope, nope to all of it! Marriage and children have definitely made life an interesting adventure, but I didn’t suddenly “arrive” when those events happened. I moved away and “fun” was only a small part of that particular journey (that’s a different blog topic entirely!). And money…ha! We’re still not rolling in it, but guess what?! It doesn’t matter. I’ve learned to enjoy each moment (and money can’t buy the best moments)..and even the more difficult ones I can see as important (maybe not in the moment, but often when I look back) because they are all part of the bigger plan for my life, and I’m starting to get it.
  5. You are beautiful. You always have been, you just were comparing yourself to a standard that doesn’t exist in reality. You are you and there’s not one single person on the face of this earth exactly like you, so there’s nothing to compare “you” to. Your perceived flaws are part of what make you, you and are what make you real.  It’s hard to get close to someone who is always trying to be someone else. The important people in your life want you to be the real you and like you for who you really are.
  6. Life won’t end when you begin the next decade. As long as God keeps you on this earth, there is more to do…more kind words to speak, more blessings to give and to receive by reaching out, more people to love.

So, BRING IT ON, 40! You (almost) don’t scare me anymore!

Life Lessons From the Football Field

I’m a football mom. And a pretty proud one at that.

My 13 year old son is finishing up his 6th football season and in my years of being on the sidelines, I have observed that the football field is a fantastic place to learn some important life lessons.  There are many takeaways from the game that my son can carry throughout life – both onto future football fields and off into other areas of his life.

Takeaway #1: You have never won a game all by yourself and you have never lost a game all by yourself.  And you never will.  My husband has stressed this with our son this year.  He had the opportunity to score on several occasions, but he doesn’t let that go to his head. When he makes a mistake on the field, however, he is very hard on himself. But on the football field, you can’t do any of it alone.  Both the successes and the failures are the result of how the team works as a whole.  If each offensive player doesn’t understand and carry out his role on the field, the play will fail.  If each defensive player doesn’t fulfill the responsibilities of his position, the opposing team can very easily make big and fast gains.  You are only as strong as your weakest link.  This saying applies to so many areas of life – in any situation where there is more than one person working toward a goal.

Takeaway #2: The success and the demeanor of a team is a direct reflection of its leadership.  I believe this is one of the strongest lessons that my son has learned thus far.  If the coaches work together and stress teamwork and brotherhood, hard work and commitment, respect and dedication, the team will emulate those things.  If the coaching staff is divided and doesn’t teach respect or demonstrate how to respect others, and if the coaches don’t stress teamwork and brotherhood, it is directly reflected by the team as well.  My son will tell you: It is so much more enjoyable to go to practice and to play in games with the first group of coaches leading your team. It is so much more fun and rewarding to play with a team that has been encouraged and led to become brothers.  And I can tell you: this applies to all of life. It is so much more rewarding to work for, or to be in any type of relationship with, people who are encouraging, who demonstrate respect, who are willing to work together, who are equally dedicated to the project or relationship.

Takeaway #3: You can’t pick your coaches and you can’t pick your teammates, but you can pick what your attitude will be.  There will be seasons when you will have a difficult coach or a teammate who is hard to get along with, but how you handle it will speak volumes about your character.  If you show respect and patience, it will pay huge dividends in the end.  Others will see who you are in the attitude you portray and how you carry yourself in difficult situations.  If you get mad and throw a temper tantrum, it will be hard to overcome the negative reflection that has on your character.  If you show honor to others even when they aren’t honoring you, you can be sure that people won’t forget that either.  How do you want people to remember you?

I think it’s pretty obvious how this can be applied to every other area of life as well.

I love football.  I am so glad my son loves football.  I am so grateful that my son has had the opportunity to play for some coaches who have nurtured his love for football and who have helped him grow and develop through the game.  This will carry over throughout his football “career,” but more importantly it will carry over in some way into the rest of his life.

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