To Set at Liberty Those Who are Oppressed

Mission is my heart. Service is my soul. I was raised in a household full of stories that centered on giving back. Whether tales from Zaire, or the prodding of us to look out for the little guy, or using your voice and your vote for social justice. The lessons were endless, and not always obvious teaching moments. Sometimes it was just the tone of the situation or interaction. They say “actions speak louder than words”.

So it’s no wonder I worked for ASP for as long as I did. And it’s not surprising that I keep going back year after year. It’s a rich piece of who I am and what I believe in, what I believe I should be doing as a person on this planet. Yesterday, I received a flier from ASP in the mail. This isn’t unusual, they send mailings and updates and announcements throughout the year. But this was different. It was a unique take on celebrating Glenn “Tex” Evans’ birthday (he’s ASP’s founder). A spirit week of service. A way to engage “right where you are, just the way you are”–that’s one of Tex’s adages, engrained in the brain of every staffer, the real guiding light of the organization.

I loved the idea, and wanted to share it with my church and other folks. And they accommodated and made it available to be shareable from their website (shoutout to Cara for that one). So I’ll leave you with it here. This organization is making a difference. Youth who were my friends, youth who came to my centers, youth I’ve mentored, youth I currently work with and have worked with at Tapestry/SCC–they have all made a difference. And so can you.

You can access the Spirit Week postcard here

It’s Still An Answer

I have a friend who is fervent in their stance that “I don’t know” is an answer to any and all things.  And that in lieu of having an answer, it’s the best (most honest) thing to say.  I’m not sure I’d really considered that much before she had told me that one day, many moons ago.  But it makes sense, doesn’t it?  There isn’t a need to make stuff up (though as humans we often create an answer to fill the void).  Maybe we need to appear smart, put together, Johnny-on-the-spot, etc.  Maybe we just need to keep our insecurities at bay.  But I do think she is right. “I don’t know”, and it’s copious amounts of family members (“I am not sure”, “I don’t have that answer”, ::shrug::), are valid in the place of some made up filler.

I guess this post is coming from a realization that I use the shrug emoji a lot.    It’s made me think about how much in this life and in this world that we don’t actually know.  It’s more than you’d think (probably because like above, people aren’t quick to admit that they don’t have an answer–or they just create one in place of not actually having an answer).  Another friend and I had a deep conversation a month or two ago about how your thoughts and understanding changes as an adult.  I think as young people we are pumped with knowledge, and the expectation that we can regurgitate it on command.  Whether taught directly or indirectly, we gain the understanding that we need to have concrete answers (for ourselves and others).  So this friend was completely vulnerable about how little he actually felt like he knew.  It shook me to my core, because that’s never been his default.  But it also caused lots of aftershocks in my brain over the following weeks.  Some of what he shared about his interactions with others was very real to what I was feeling in some other friendship.  It gave me new perspective and understanding, and legs to stand on moving forward.  It gave me a foundation to tweak and make my own.  Though many things have changed over the years, his philosophical spirit is still intact.

So your take-away?  Be honest.  Know it’s okay to “not know”.  Be empowered to say that (and then maybe even empowered again to try and find the answer).  Just because I don’t know the answer doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions about it–but those things are very different.  Even when I do know the answer, often I still have opinions about it.  There can be beauty in the unknown.


Today I Pass

I promised myself I’d write something every day. But today I definitely don’t feel up to it. But I won’t let the moment pass me by–I will maintain the commitment. And so, you get these words and that satisfies the commitment.

It’s Been Four Days

Four days since your birthday. Four. I won’t send a card anymore. I won’t call anymore. My sister claims we have no grandparents, and there is a part of that that is 100% accurate. Our biological grandparents are all gone–the 2 before our births and the 2 after. But you’re still here (or so I assume–I have to think someone, somehow would let us know if you weren’t). I will never stop loving you, but I’m not sure if I can ever fully forgive you. And that’s the honest truth.

A friend reminded me that every family has its difficulties, its quirks, its issues and burdens to take on. Part of me has been happy to let you go, and part of me it still gets very sad to think you live so close and yet choose to be so far away. Family isn’t always easy. We all have things to deal with and work through. But in all honesty there doesn’t seem to be a good reason to sweep it under the rug or pretend word weren’t exchanged and that feelings and hearts weren’t forever changed.

You aren’t what I remembered. You could probably say the same about me. Funny how sometime our unique perspectives bring us to the same place but on opposite sides.

And a Bowl Full of Mush

Do you ever have those days you don’t want to get out of bed? Sleeping sounds like the perfect pastime? Yeah, today became one of those days. For whatever reason my brain has felt foggy and like mush all day. It doesn’t help that I still have some notes to type up for class tomorrow. But, taking breaks and time to slow down and be gentle with myself. And taking Tylenol to keep this god-awful headache at bay. Here’s to tomorrow being better. credit: Goodnight, Moon

Like a Bird In a Cage

I haven’t said it much, haven’t wanted to specifically draw attention to it, but I’ve been on a health journey this year. I was on an exercise journey in 2018. I was dedicated but didn’t see many results-I didn’t feel stronger or more agile or leaner. But January of 2019 saw a friend sharing her own journey with Weight Watchers and how she thought it could be beneficial for me as well. Coming from anyone else I might have been offended, or blown them off, or just laughed through it–but something made me listen, and listen deep that day.

And so I signed up and started tracking points. Really, it was a huge shift–actually watching what I was eating, being accountable for the empty foods that had filled my life, and looking at ways to institute better choices in the short term (and long term). I started seeing results, little by little. I started feeling better (go figure that what you put in your body directly affects how you feel 🤯). Shelly was next on the band wagon. And we’ve stuck with it. I’ve lost just over 31 pounds so far this year, and I have about 40 more to go until my first goal weight. But I’ve proved to myself that I can do it, and I’m motivated.

It can be difficult to see the change in yourself–whether because you see your face and figure every day, or because you live in an unconscious denial, or there are still things that don’t look exactly the way you think they should. But I was going back and looking at photos the other day and did a couple of side by side photos and just was in awe of the difference. I can feel the difference–my clothes fit differently, I have more stamina, moving around has a different sensation. But I don’t always see it.

This is Thanksgiving 2017 on the right and September 1, 2019 on the right.

This is a photo from a couple of years ago on the right and a photo from earlier this week on the left.

Change is good, it’s important. If you put your mind to it you can do great things. I’m pretty proud of myself and know I’ll make it to my goal, maybe not by the first of the year, but soon after. I refuse to stay the caged bird, at the whim of my weight.

Freaky Friday

I love scary things: haunted houses, suspenseful movies, mystery novels. Those are my jam. So there is a special energy that I feel when a Friday falls on the 13th day of the month, or during the month of October, or on All Hallows’ Eve.

Tonight we had friends over for dinner and games. It was their first time playing any type of CAH game. And it was so much fun. Lots of laughter ensued. Instead of playing to a certain number of black cards, we played until they needed to head home and counted all of our cards up. I finished first: 13 cards. Then Shelly: 13 cards. Then A: 13 cards. Then T: 13 cards. Cue our shocked faces, yelling of confusion, and goosebumps. It was surreal.

Full moon. Friday the 13th. And very strange “coincidences”. Insert the theme of Twilight Zone here.

And So It Begins

I generally don’t like the anticipation of things. It’s one of the intricate pieces of who I am as a person. Even things I love to do, in the moments leading up to them–I dread them. Things as simple as hanging out with friends, sometimes I convince myself I’d rather stay home and so I cancel. Things as complicated as being in a new place by myself where I don’t know anyone–I overthink it often and just don’t want to go.

That’s how it’s been as I started my grad school journey. For our orientation a few weeks ago I got there early (go figure) and waited in my car until I thought I wasn’t too early. But it was daunting–I didn’t know where I was going, I haven’t been a student on a college campus for 10 years (10!). Of course it was fine, the people I met were friendly, and just about everyone was in the same boat of not knowing one another.

But I felt the same way before my first class too–what was it going to be like? Had I forgotten assignments or readings I was supposed to do? #overachiever And again, it was good, I got to know some people better and I finally felt like I was in the swing of things. And I’m just excited to continue that journey forward.

Find Your People

I talk a lot about relationships. As an enneagram 2 (and an empath and HSP) relationships are very intricate for me. So when I find people I click with I embody the “find your tribe, love them hard” mentality. This year has brought some turn over at my job, and I don’t usually like to be left with feelings of the unknown. So when my boss and co worker retired/moved on professionally, I was very tentative about the new folks who would be coming in.

Today just solidified for me how grateful I am for the staff at my job. Things aren’t always easy, some days (or weeks) every little thing seems to go wrong. But there is a lot of collaboration in our office. We operate in an environment with open and honest communication (and the comfortability to say “I don’t know” or “I can’t share that” and still feel heard and supported).

There is one coworker in particular who has office hours that completely overlap with mine during the work week. She and I have become close and I am thankful for her unique perspective and ease of asking tough questions. We laugh a lot together (evidenced by our boss walking in this morning to us cackling and me being crouched near the floor). We support each other. We share advice about work things and life things. Sometimes work can be stressful or monotonous or any of a myriad of adjectives. But this girl makes things that much more entertaining and positive–you can call us Frick and Frick.

It’s funny how we are brought together with others over the course of our life. Coworkers teach us in unique ways, and I owe a lot to the lessons I’ve learned from various colleagues over the years. And I’m excited to keep receiving lessons along the way.