I think I enjoy food more now than I did as a young adult, and I enjoyed it then more than I did as a child. There’s something about the progressive education about and appreciation of REAL food. The food that takes years to finally discover or aquire a taste for. The food that you no longer resist needing because your age speaks up. Food that tastes so good, so much better than all the junk you violated your temple with before…REAL food. Ahh…
The Power of Inclusion
Updated: Jan 17
(Originally written in 2018)
A Push in the Right Direction...
“Can somebody push me?” His voice echoed through the playground where my children were playing along with other kids and their parents. He looked around 6 or 7. His grandma sat in the distance, unmoved. "Can somebody push me?”
Older kids could have helped. A nearby dad could have helped. He was playing alone with no one paying any attention. But I heard him… God heard him. After hearing him ask a few times, I finally got up, went over to the swing and pushed that sweet little boy.
Within minutes, he was off of that swing and on the bigger merry-go-round-style swing with several other kids, being pushed by one of their dads. He had gained the confidence needed to come out of the margins.
He felt included. Because someone gave him the first push, others were willing to include him too.
Now everyone played happily together.
And I realized the power of inclusion. How many people in life just need a little push in the right direction? A word of encouragement? A smile that says “I see you…” How many children feel overlooked because they are “not ours?”To quote the movie Mother Teresa, “Children belong to everyone.”
One More Sandwich...
A few years ago, I stood at my tiny kitchen counter making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I was packing school lunches, like almost every other day of the week. But suddenly, there were three instead of two. I thought to myself,
It’s just one more sandwich…the power of inclusion.
We had taken in a little girl, adding to our two biological boys. One more sandwich. One more of everything for about 9 months, while we fostered her.
One more child was loved and brought in. No longer invisible. Just a sandwich? Hardly.
I think about inclusion when I pack an extra lunch and sit among the homeless on a backstreet downtown. I don’t bring a lot of food or “stuff.” I don’t announce my arrival.
Why would I? Who am I apart from the grace of Christ, who came and sat with me in my brokenness?
I just sit with a couple of friends, we eat our own lunches on the ground and blend into the shadows. We have brought enough to share with a few others should they join our circle or pass us on the road.
I lay on the grass for a few minutes, trying to identify with the person who had just left that spot after trying to catch a little sleep. I am under the sun and breathing in a familiar blend of street smells such as urine, cigarettes and dirt. I count cars as they pass by all of us and hear the Lord whisper,
“I want you to know what it feels like to be passed by.”
The only people who usually offer to “include” me on the streets are people living on the streets. I have never once been picked up or offered help by another ministry group, church or “Christian with a car.”
But the homeless? They are quick to share what little they have and they look out for each other; even for me.You see, it’s not about how much you can offer or taking on the whole burden of someone’s problems. It's a mindset. It’s using whatever you do have and doing whatever you can do, to love the one in front of you. It goes beyond material needs and into the soul. There is a cry for human dignity, for equality, for someone to stop instead of passing by again, as if “these people” don’t exist.
Never underestimate the power of inclusion.
It may not feel like much to you, but it could mean the world to someone else.
Candles and Ink
The old fashioned romance of writing
When I watch beautiful scenes of young women on films, entranced in the process of late-night writing episodes, I join them in my imagination.
By lantern or candle-light, accompanied by feather pen and dipping ink, they soar into blank, white pages. Nothing detours their made up minds to pour all of themselves into book or letter.
The feeling and sound of felt tips dancing over journals is not unlike the magic of hearing and feeling your feet hit the ground, strike upon strike during a morning run. Systematic solace. Therapy. A sort of friendship with yourself, without the need for spoken words.
When I was young, I memorized the piano music that plays in the background while Anne (of Green Gables, of course) sits at her desk to write while feeling homesick.
That manic look Winona Ryder gets during her novel writing binge as “Jo” in the 90’s movie adaptation of Little Women? I admittedly relate all too well. I am Jo, in my mind and in those moments.
Writing; I get the thrill of it. I escape into it. I become it. Our words create our worlds. What rapture to have a whole map of places I can go and characters I can see, all because I took the time to invent them! What thrills you?
Take the time. Take the time to admire and gain inspiration from your own “Annes and Jos.” Who do you come alive for when they write or sing or play? Who reminds you most of the person who lives deep inside of you but has yet to be introduced? Light a candle. Grab a pen, or guitar or computer…You get the notion.
We can only see from the place we sit in. That is, we determine our own perspective. If I want to think like a writer, I put myself in the environment and mood of a writer. If you want to get in touch with something more creative or romantic about your life, you may need to switch seats.
Get behind the wild eyes or burning minds of others who are passionate about the same “something” you are.
Sit with your own thoughts too. Write them down.
Don’t be afraid of the quiet. Silence outside of us sets the stage for new ideas to be heard from inside of us. Be still and trust yourself. You know there’s a more creative, adventurous version of you waiting in the wings.
Perhaps you just need to get reacquainted.
Here’s to Anne Shirley, Jo March and Me!
Thoughts on Dissociation
Since I was a little girl, I have dealt with a "half-dream” world. Feeling not fully grounded, connected or aware of myself or my surroundings. My feet touch the floor, while my mind floats far above, in beautiful clouds that contain both extraordinary creativity and eerie detachment.
I remember being 8 years old or so, saying “I feel like I'm not really here.” I would try to explain the feeling to my parents pretty often, and, looking back, wonder how I could even tell the difference between “here” and “not here.”
That must mean that in very early life I had a more normal sense of reality, a “grid” for what life should feel like. How else would I notice when things felt off? When I started drifting and “dissociating?” Something had changed.
Part of me had left and I didnt know how to fully come back into myself. Im still waiting for the answer to that predicament.
I am both the hot air balloon and the basket trying to weigh it down. The basket holds the heavy efforts on my part to get better, to be healthy, to be present and productive, even positive in the face of cruel circumstances.
But despite my resistance, education on the matter and the ironic realization-of-derealization, the balloon has a will of it's own, and sometimes cuts free from the basket all together, going where it pleases in an atmosphere I probably created subconsciously at an age too early to remember.
Pathways were formed for protection that have never been unlearned. If I don't know when or where this started, how can I know where to return for the undoing of it?
Bipolar Disorder 1, ADHD and PTSD are a few of the "credentials" hanging on my mental office wall. But look in the desk and you will find the real culprit; Trauma...
More on all of this in bits and pieces soon...
For now, try to enjoy whatever balloon ride you are on! No judgement from me.
I Am Not A Child
How domestic abuse
stunted my growth
“I feel like I have a third child… I’m so tired of taking care of you…Grow up! I’m so tired of you crying…”
Those are just a few of the lines I remember off the top of my head. There were many more, for many years. In my twenties, I naively married a charming, deceiving (the bible does say “charm is deceptive…”) narcissist. Just think of an injustice and it was done to me. The details would make you nauseous. Frankly, the behavior doesn’t deserve much attention.
To be clear, I am forty-five now and remarried to a wonderful man who loves and respects me. He’s my dream man! But for nearly two decades I was in a nightmare. My fairy-tale looked more like the makings of a Dateline special. I was afraid.
And when “Cinderella” decided to take a risk and go to the ball-in other words, finally escape the dungeon of limitations and false identity placed on me? I was literally told by my oppressor, ”I’m just worried that you won’t be able to make it in society.” As if I’d wandered in from Where the Crawdads Sing, rather than the Godly, functional family and nurturing home I grew up in.
This “concern” was voiced by the same man who stormed out of our house spitting, “I’m divorcing you. Piss off!”It was a deeply painful, draining and confusing life.Before my first marriage I was a confident, happy, healthy and content young lady.
Never had I been disrespected the way I was about to be. My father paved the way beautifully for a man to know how to treat a lady. And his father before him did, too. I knew my value. How did I miss the signs?
I was growing by leaps and bounds spiritually, professionally and personally before I fell into the trap. I was a leader, not a follower. Looked up to by both women and men. Likable. Social. Happy with who I was. I was myself.
As years of abusive treatment ensued, I was forced to get “smaller,” making room for the alter ego of “Mr.X.”
I longed to be seen and understood, even appreciated. I was told I was loved, not shown. I think he felt threatened by the real me. It was easier to push me down than to rise to a higher standard. When I look back, I remember being mature and rational, spiritually determined and maternal.
Over time, the lines got blurred. If for no other reasons but exhaustion and paranoia I shrank for survival.I tried as hard as I could to be a good wife and caring friend to the person who constantly took advantage of me.I tried to believe the best, cover for him to our children.
But, they saw and heard too much at home. Even though I withheld a lot of hurtful information about their father’s more private choices, he did enough damage when they were watching to make up for it.The sad part is, they thought this was normal. For them it was. You can’t hide a giant. You end up hiding from a giant. Everyone could feel intimidation breathing down their necks. To change the atmosphere was to lasso the moon, when he got in one of his “moods.” Good luck.“You guys be careful what you say around Daddy today, ok?…It’s not your fault that he did that, buddy…I’m so sorry he’s treating you that way…I love your dad and I want him to get better. I don’t know what to do…”…And I didn’t.
But I should have.
I should have left when they were little, before the pain was multiplied and layered so many times. Before their growth was so stunted. I will always regret my hesitance to do what felt impossible at the time. Now I am doing things that feel impossible anyway. I could have saved a lot of time. I could have gotten a head start on this healing process.
Hurt people hurt people. Scared people scare people. And highly immature people make others feel small so they don’t have to confront their own underdevelopment. It’s the classic bully on the playground. Sadly, those bullies turn into husbands and fathers; their houses are the new playgrounds. The one who is supposed to be the “principal” defending you, is still the kid bullying you. There is no one else on duty to call for help. If they never got help, then being an “adult” just means they got older, not nicer.
Thankfully, I finally “dropped out of school.” I feel at least twenty years behind in life now. I still second-guess myself. I am slowly unlearning the lies I was told. I am re-discovering the truth about myself, marriage, parenting, life. But, at least I’m growing again. And no one can stop me.
Here’s to freedom!
My Favorite Jacket
It was cold outside, for Florida. I strolled arm-in-arm with my then love, and began criss-crossing a homeless lady approaching our left side. I knew what to do. I made some small talk, checked in with her and then, with some reluctance, took off my GAP denim, gold-buttoned jacket and gave it to her.
It was my favorite. Now it could be her favorite. I would miss it, but the reward of blessing someone else far outweighs the small inconvenience of doing it.
Some time later, a few weeks maybe, I got the oddest gift from a cousin, via some reward points she had earned…a $500 gift card to GAP!
I smiled and recited an Old Testament verse: “Whoever gives to the poor lends to the Lord and He will repay him for his good deed.”
Wow! Talk about a very specific pay-back! I was blessed back, and further encouraged to keep giving and not worry about missing out on anything. You reap what you sow, sometimes down to details.
Blessing to me, means a beautiful circle of the economy of generosity.
Goodnight, Little Women
and Anne of Green Gables
Goodnight, Black Beauty
and Aesop's Fables
Goodnight, Tom Sawyer and Dr. Seuss
The Poky Little Puppy and Mother Goose
Goodnight, Peter Pan and Captain Hook
Goodnight to whoever is reading THIS book!
-an excerpt from A Moonlight Collection, an upcoming illustrated evening Poetry book