21
Sep

Simple on purpose

So lovies, one amazing mama in our lives turned me on to this other amazing mama that focuses on being Simple. On purpose. It's what her lifestyle with her kids is called. Simple. On purpose. She makes clear and intentional decisions. She is intentional with her words, she connects with her kids, she is silly, she is a leader, she is a teacher, she is a mama.

My biggest lesson in following her....connection leads to cooperation. Cooperation does not mean following orders, do as you are told, or be complacent, or be seen not heard. Coorperation means we respect each other. It means we talk to one another like it matters.

If you want your kids to be on the same team, you have to connect with your kids. You have to make them feel a part of the team. You have to work at being a good parent. You have to see things at their level. Your job is to deescalate, your job is to bring them out of chaos. You have a job.

She focuses on team and calmness. She focuses on restearing and redirecting and getting them out of bad moods. Everyone deserves to be in a bad mood, and everyone deserves to have someone make them feel better about that. She lets them have a voice, she asks them to. She gives them a chance to explain and allows them to be people. She sets up structure and discipline and she allows them to feel heard. She gives them freedom, even if it is within boundaries. She lets them figure things out and she allows them to be wholesome, loving kids.

She lets them fight it out and figure it out. She lets them earn money by earning their keep. She sets up family rules, dynamics, functions. She makes them feel like they are all part of this family, so we all have a stake, and we all own this house, so we all have a stake.

She lets them be messy, she helps them figure out how to clean it up. They trust each other, you can see it. They lean on each other. They have connected.

She doesn't get exhausted by the whining, god do I get exhausted and immediately trigged by the whining. She doesn't get short tempered by the arguing, god I get so short tempered when they fight, she finds solutions, I just break it up and separate. She sets them up with routines, ones that work for them and their family, she is big on that.

She breaks it all down to being simple. Be a family. Be kind. Connect. Love. Trust. Talk. Get down to their level. Hug. Hold their hand. Smooch them. Fix their hair. Praise their effort. Laugh with them. Throw dance parties. Stop yelling, seriously, stop doing it. Know that you are the adult. You are the one dictating the course of their memories, their childhood. Take three deep breaths, start again. Start over. Teach them to apologize. Show them the way and then get out of the way. She makes it all seem so simple.

One day, I watched her no yell challenge and I listened to how she reacts instead. I took notes on the steps to take while observing your child.

Do they "always" do someone, or do they do it and you as the adult are so triggered it feels like all of the time?

Does the "thing" they do really last "forever"? Or, is it moments and if you stop fueling the fire it's even less time?

Is it really "all day everyday" or is there a moment that brings on a behavior and if you stopped the moment, the behavior would go away?

Have you really tried "everything" or have you tried the same thing over and over hoping that it brings about a different result?

I started with my Ferdinand. The one that gets a bad wrap around here. He doesn't always spill things, he does it once, maybe twice a day. He isn't always leaving his things everywhere, all of the time. He gets lost in playing and I don't give him enough warning to leave. He isn't always screaming, he's just excited and needs to be reminded we are all inside. But when you connect with this child...when you play with him, when you read with him, when you go on adventures with him...he is a puddle and the sun is beaming out of his heart. Connection, he is craving us.

I moved on to Bella. She isn't always on a screen, she loves to take walks with us. She isn't always complaining, she just needs reminders of what to be grateful for. She isn't always sitting, or eats just sugar, she needs to be reminded that her body is what allows her to feel good and strong and able. But when you connect with this child...when you set up a reading date, when you go for a family bike ride, when you allow her to talk and talk on a walk, when you let her get her puppy ready...she is a puddle and the sun is beaming out of her heart. Connection, she is craving us.

All of this is to say lovies, it is simple. We make it more complicated and harder than it needs. But, if there is one thing that 2020 has taught us well is that you can take everything away from us and we still need each other. It's all we have ever needed. A puppy pulling out outside for a walk. A little girl begging us to read with her. A little boy begging us to build. It's as simple as connection.

18
Sep

Five Minute Friday - church

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on church.

Go.

For some, it takes place in a building.

For some, it means praying and rituals and symbols.

For some, it means there is a "Person" involved, a God of sorts.

For all, it is a feeling, a meaning, a peace, and that can happen anywhere.

Church can be pancake Sunday with the kiddos so excited and happy and the coffee warm and loving.

Church can be our happy hearts where we share what we are grateful for, that week, during that time.

Church can be a run, a yoga class, a feeling of letting go and allowing something else to be in control.

Church can be a really hot shower, a warm bath. The sinking in to water that is needed to wash the day away.

Church can be an ocean, a beach, the sound and rhythm of the back and forth that allows you to listen, really listen.

Church can be a bed, calling to you. Asking you to close your eyes and lay your worries down.

Church can be a race, the adrenaline running through your veins as you come together as a community.

Church can be losing yourself in a book, forgetting all about yourself.

Church can be your community service and remembering others need you, this world needs you.

Church can be putting your babies to sleep, looking at those little faces, telling them we did our best today, tomorrow we will do better because we know better.

Church can be telling your family you love them and the feeling that comes from hearing it back, even when they talk to you from their sleep.

Church is not contained in walls, buildings, or by the God we worship. Church is all around us.

Stop.

30
Aug

Ferdinand

Monkey man, well, you have reached that age. The age where the babyface and the baby cheeks and the baby belly have gone away. You are all lanky and thinning out, the baby is washing away. My baby is fading away.

You are eight. With eight, comes a little boy that is very loud, and impulsive, and quick, and doesn't follow through, and stomps (instead of walking), and yells (instead of talking), and is a bull in a china shop. There is a definite transition. You went from Curious George, small and curious in the most amazing way, jumping and climbing and wondering and always looking at things differently...to Ferdinand. But, I know Ferdinand, and I'm in your corner.

I know Ferdinand. I know how much his heart is full. I know how much more he loves to love than fight. I know that he doesn't have a fight in him until he is pushed and his back is up against a wall. Even then, he will sit in love and ask to be spared.

I know Ferdinand. I know that with this love comes energy. And excitement. Energy and excitement that bursts out of you because you love life and the beauty that comes with it and you cannot understand why others are not taking advantage of that. I also understand that energy and excitement can be tough for some. I know Ferdinand.

I know that you have two switches...on or off. I know. I am well aware that the on switch means you are go go go. I know that the off switch means you are asleep. I know that the sleep you have is deep and meaningful, you lived yet another good day.

I know Ferdinand. I know that he is big, all over. His personality, his laugh, his smile, his heart, his love. I know that Ferdinand wants to run and play and I know he wants to be with his family. I know that precise is not his strength, I know that careful is not his priority. I know that he knows life is just too short to be that meticulous. I know that he deeply cares what others think of him and I know he wants others to like him and think he is kind. I know that kindness matters. I know that he is one amazing friend. The kind that would give up everything to have that friend be happy. I know that he would walk through fire for people, he would give all he had to another...I know Ferdinand.

I know that he loves nature and to be outside. I know that he does not care about what he is wearing or even if he has clothes on because he is a hot box. I know that playtime is everything to Ferdinand. It's his job, he plays like it is his job and he is really good at it. I also know that when Ferdinand wants to be creative, he can be, but only when it comes to building a lego set. Something he will sit and do for hours. I know that naps are not his thing, but snuggles are. I know that sitting is hard, so he has to be doing something else. I know Ferdinand.

I know that his dad is his best buddy. I know how much he looks up to his dad, even if his dad is grumpy and being a bull and puffing out his chest and being gruff...I know that his love is so deep that he just sees his best friend, right here living in his house with him - every single day. He wakes up and his best buddy is just there! He goes to bed and his best buddy reads to him! He plays basketball with his best buddy! They play ball together and go on adventures together. He gets to wake up and live with his moon and stars right there with him, that excitement is hard to control. I know Ferdinand.

I know that others find it hard to keep up. I know that some will even make fun of how gentle you are. I know that others will really struggle that gentle does not mean or look like careful, I know that. I know that Ferdinand can really wear you out and down. I know that it is really really hard to be around that level of energy all of the time. I know that he needs to be reminded to quiet down. I know that he needs to be reminded that people are sleeping so stop talking to them. I know that he needs to be reminded to find something quieter to do. I know that things break around Ferdinand, things fall. I know how clumsy he is. I know that spills are inevitable, I know that he feels so badly about it but also doesn't know how to make it better.

I know that some will try and just "do it" because it's going to all fall apart so why bother with the cleanup. But I also know that he and I have a different approach and language. Spill it, Ferdinand, we can clean it up together. It's okay if it breaks, let's learn to be more careful. Don't just leave a mess, you're not entitled to have a fulltime cleaner on your side, you have to learn to take care of the messes you create. It's okay if your clothes get dirty Ferdinand, they didn't have a fighting chance so go...go play outside. You and I have a different approach because I know Ferdinand.

I know his smile, I know his wonderment. I know his love of life. I know how hard he goes. I know he is a bull in a china shop. I know he has one volume, one speed. I know his big blue eyes see things differently than most. I know he is just a really good person. I know Ferdinand and I'm not just in your corner, I am all in on you and your love of this life.

9
Aug

Changes

Recently, I am back to my very old ways of being so down on myself, so down on my body, focused only on the imperfections, the things I want to go away. I am no longer focused on my strength or health, no longer on how I feel or how a certain workout makes me feel. I am solely focused on a look. I have no idea what that look is because I have never gotten there, but I am struggling.

I am struggling because all the things look and feel different now. My hair, my nose (I mean, seriously, my nose??!) my culi, my face, my legs, my chest, my ability to not have to sweat through everything. Things are changing, quickly. And I am taking a lot of careful notice and the struggle is deep rooted right now.

Yes, I have always struggled, yes. Yes, I have always cared too much, yes. Yes, I have always spoken low of myself and how I look, yes. But then I had a daughter. A daughter that really listening and carefully watches, and quietly takes notes. A daughter that started watching me, listening to me, and taking quiet notes on how I act. Even though I did not stop thinking about how my body could/should/would be different, I stopped saying it in front of her at all. And I did find, the less I talked about it, the less I thought about it. Recently, that has started to fade because all I am doing is putting myself down and I know I will slip and say something in front of her.

My body is of course changing. In some ways, it's normal aging. In some ways, it's a new workout that is changing how I look, in all ways, it does not matter. I am in my 40s, living with MS for almost half my life and I am healthy. I am still walking, still able to work out hard, still not only able to work, but able to really build careers. I can see, I don't need instruments or accommodations, there are times I have to slow down and times that the stress really screams at me but I am able. All of this comes with a "yet" or a "for now I can". I don't need any of this yet, and for right now, I am still able, but my body has done so so much for me. It's time that the only change is my own thought process. It's time I realize my body is enough.

Since I was diagnosed, I changed my mind and made health my priority. But, deep down, I always thought about how I was less than. When I had her, I stopped and really showed her the ways women are miracles, but I still struggled to say out loud that I am proud of all this body has done.

Dear legs, I want to thank you for hurting after long days but still have enough strength to carry me to my bed where I need to be, where I belong. Thank you for the long runs and the heavy workouts. Thank you for reminding me to stretch you out and pay attention to your muscles. Thank you for being able to withstand the injections I had to receive and for being enough.

Dear arms, I want to thank you for helping me carry two babies, some days for long long long periods of time. Thank you for then allowing me to carry toddlers that wanted to be thrown and held. Thank you for allowing me to play with my son and throw him in water. I want to thank you for allowing me to carry weights and increase my ability to lift more and more. Thank you for your strength as you hold me up in poses and balance all of my on you. Thank you for being enough.

Dear feet, I want to thank you for the hours and years of hard work you have put in. The training sessions, the miles and miles we have run. I want to thank you for your sound, the quiet you bring on a run. I want to thank you for your hardness because that means you are working hard. I want to thank you for carrying all of me, all of the time. I want to thank you for being tired and how you need warmth and love at night. Thank you for being enough.

Dear hands, I want to thank you for your gentle touch. The touch that strokes tears away. The one that would massage an ear to keep a baby awake during a late night feeding. The touch that caressed and showed so much love. The touch that would move aside a piece of hair. I want to thank you for holding big and little hands. I want to thank you for how you show love in that touch of yours, how others feel that love. Thank you for being enough.

Dear back, I want to thank you for the piggyback rides. I want to thank you for holding me up all of this time. I want to thank you for hurting when I'm stressed so I know to tap into that stress and find a way to relief. I want to thank you for your strength, your fragile strength. I want to thank you for carrying babies and kiddos on your shoulders. I want to thank you for being enough.

Dear stomach, I want to thank you for growing and creating babies with me. I want to thank you for making all of that room and making sure that they had enough space. I want to thank you for stretching and getting as big as they needed you to. I want to thank you for the scar that reminds me they are here. I have a permanent mark of their life. I want to thank you for telling me I need to eat now. I want to thank you for the aches you bring when I am not supplying my body with the right fuel. I want to thank you for bloating and allowing my daughter to feel that bloat. I want to thank you for allowing me to tell her that regardless if a woman wants to be a mom or not, this bloat comes because her body prepares for life. It is our incredible superpower and we should be so proud of that bloat. So proud of that little bump that is permanently there. I want to thank you for being enough.

Dear eyes, I want to thank you for allowing me to see my babies, watch them grow into people. I want to thank you for working so hard on so many projects and I want to thank you for becoming blurry when things are too much and you need a rest. You always tell me when my body needs to rest, you're the first indicator. Dear eyes, you will continue to grow weary and together, we will worry. They tell me you will suffer the most and the quickest from this disease and so far, you have just soldiered on. And for that, I want to thank you for being enough.

Dear muscles, thank you for growing and growing tired.

Dear hair, thank you for changing and being as crazy as you are. I am ready for the gray you are beginning to shine.

Dear mouth, thank you for my words and all the smooches.

Dear culi, thank you for the cushion you have provided, sitting is my favorite.

Okay body, it's time I put all this nonsense to bed. It is time I get back on track to protecting my health, my strength and my emotions. Enough of this garbage I am spewing and enough of all this BS I am putting in my mind. I am changing. My body is changing. This is not the first time, it will only come more rapidly now. Changes will happen so much more frequently and all I can do is be.

24
Jul

Five Minute Friday - young

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on young.

Go.

When I was young, I was scared.

When I was young, I was scared of my own shadow.

When I was young, I was scared of myself.

When I was young, I was scared of family.

When I was young, I was scared of love and needing it.

When I was young, I was scared of motherhood and couple-hood and I was scared.

When I met family, I got less scared. I got lighter. I became more free. The more I leaned, the more I gave up control, the more free I became.

When I was young, I met you, I fell hard. I embraced what you had to offer. You made me a better me. You made me better.

When I was young, I found family in places because even though I was afraid, I was needing it, I was craving it, so I created it.

When I was young, I had you. I held your little in my arms and I am just so happy I did. You were exactly what I never knew I always wanted.

Now, I have a front row seat to you being young and I get to watch this amazing person become. She is funny, and kind, and loving, and angry, and stubborn, and feisty, and has a need for connection...sound familiar?

When I was young, I was scared. Scared of myself, my shadow, the world. I'm still that scared little girl, but as the years have ticked away, I too am becoming.

Stop.

5
Jul

It's my honor

As milestones pile on and time starts really speeding up, this introverted mother has really gotten sad. So sad that you will find me folded into myself. So sad that I feel very heavy, unable to breathe, and like someone might be standing on my chest. So sad that I call framily huddled by garbage cans hysterical and unable to be understood. So sad, that I message framily and can't get through my thoughts because the tears won't stop coming. So sad that I need to make sure my littles don't see me so I hide.

And then, my wise loving friend reminded me...we get to watch our babies grow up. That is a privilege, it's actually an honor. And I never ever thought of it this way. We get to watch them grow and figure it out. We get to be a part of every single milestone so far. We get to experience this, we get to watch them figure it out, we get to do all of this.

When a mother has to do the unthinkable and put their babies to rest, I have heard them cry out for what I get to do. I won't ever see them...I won't ever watch them...I won't be able to be there when...that was all I needed to hear.

My sweet girl, my Anna James, the one I named after a strong woman that doesn't realize her strength, the one that started my path. From the moment I met you, I knew you would be teaching me. I knew that I would be following your lead and I knew that you would be in charge of our dance. There are times when I cannot believe I am the mom you are turning to because you have taught me way more than you will ever realize. I will continue to learn from you, I will continue to be the one you will lean on and I thank you for your gift of motherhood. Your smile, your personality, your sense of humor, your love of reading, your consumption of books as if they are food, your love of Nutella, your love of silly, your love of friends, your need for framily, your desire to stay little because you too love childhood. I promise I will listen more than I talk. I promise I will never make your feelings less than. I promise that I will remind you that a good night's sleep will cure most things. I promise I will laugh with you when things are funny. I promise to be silly. I promise to also be your mom, the one that sets your limits and boundaries, I promise to be your structure. Most importantly, I promise to be your foundation and the one you can always come home to. I promise to remind you how strong we are, how much we can do, how much we can overcome and I promise to fill you with the hope of a better tomorrow.

To my loving son, the one we named after a dad who you resemble in all of the best ways. The one that taught me, love, at first sight, was possible. The one that made me fall in love with joy again. The one that reminds me of how incredible it is to love love. The one that reminds me of why and how hard I fell for dad because you embody all the good that he also carries. The one that is just happy because life is good. The one that believes, always, that every day is the best day...just because it's a new one. The one that taught me to fall in love with Lego messes and building and who reminds me...connection brings peace. All you want is time with us and you will demand it no matter what. Your energy, your heart, your imagination, your creativity, your love of love, your little guys. I promise to play with you, I promise to really connect with you. I promise to always let you build. I promise to trust you. I promise to build you into a man that will be accountable for his actions and realize that every action has a consequence, you pick if it's good or bad. I promise to always love your love for your dad and remind him how special that is. I promise to always try and keep up with you. I promise to try and see things the way you do, and I promise to teach you to do the same.

My littles, there are so many things this mama does that needs a redo. So much I feel like I am messing up and so much I keep trying. But, there are also things that are being done right.

Like I will forever protect your childhood, it's how we approach everyday.

Like I never ever take advantage of the time we have, I know that it is fleeting and I know how small our window is so I see it every day...I see our family every day and I take us in and hold us close.

Like although I mess up, I have very little that I regret.

Like I didn't just introduce you to the concept of framily, I helped create and structure your first framily ties and connections. And, I picked right. I always have. From the framily that reminded me that this is my privilege, this is my honor, I get to watch you become...to the framily that got to work and filled my Amazon cart with things to put some love and connection and control in the uncontrollable...the ones I call crying when nothing makes sense and they listen and guide me...the ones that teach me that "what makes adults adults and kids kids is that even if we haven't been through THIS, we've been through STUFF. And, we can (even unconsciously) know that things can work out and things can get better and feelings and situations aren't forever. Kids haven't been through STUFF so they don't actually know any of that". The ones I call hiding near garbage cans. The ones I call locked in my room and freaking out and they bring their mama knowledge like the bosses they are. The ones that make me laugh by saying, "none of this is happening, so let's stop talking about it" because they too are scared. A hubby that reads about what and how to do this all. This is our circle of love. The trust we have built. The courage and needing of each other and the leaning and knowing we are always there. I didn't just introduce you to the concept of framily, no, I helped create and structure your first framily ties and connections.

Like how I apologize when I am wrong and ask for your forgiveness.

Like how I dance with you.

Like how I sing on the top of my lungs in the car and make you feel music and how it can move you and help work out your feelings.

Like how I taught you to love reading.

Like how I gave us the best puppies and taught us how important furry babies are.

Like how I love you spills from us in words, in touch, in actions.

Like how I taught you how important traditions are for building family and love and knowing what is coming and knowing how to make it special, even in the ordinary.

Like how I taught us to do happy hearts each Sunday.

So now, this is the next thing I will do for us. I cannot even pretend to say that I will not continue to fall apart at each and every single milestone. Of course I will. Watching you grow up does bring about a loss for me and I will forever lean on my framily for the support I will need. But, I swear to you, I will remember that it is my job to teach you that this is "stuff" and we all go through "stuff" and we all get through it. I will remember that although you are walking through your next chapter, you're always and forever the kids I love. I swear that I will remember that this is my honor that I get to watch you grow.

22
Jun

To our rising girl

For six years, more than half your life, you have walked through those doors, walked down each hallway, learned your way, and loved your days. You have stayed in touch with the teachers you have met, you have opened your heart to new friends, you have loved being a part of this school.

Anna James, you loved your elementary school and the years you grew and developed there. You loved the activities, the before and after school "things", you loved their events, you loved the bus, you loved walking into the school, you loved the people you met, you loved loved loved your elementary years.

Yes, your last year was so hard on your heart. Yes, many months were taken from you and yes, you do not feel that there was closure and a real good-bye. But, you did do it. You worked, you learned, you connected, you found ways to make people feel connected to you, you were resilient, even if you were sad and lonely and a little heartbroken and unstable. All of those feelings are ok Bella. This is why I didn't allow us to ignore them or make them feel "small" because to you, this is the biggest thing that has happened to you. In a lot of ways, I too feel as though we didn't get to close the door on this incredible milestone. You are becoming a middle schooler, you are a rising sixth grader.

When the pandemic first hit in March, and we thought this was life for the next five weeks, it felt so cozy and family-centered. We really regrouped and found a great rhythm. We missed our framily and connections but damn, we found so many ways to still feel connected and close. We also found this gorgeous dance in our house. As mom started to slow down and find her new balance, you guys did your work, and we all snuggled into the office or in front of the fireplace. We would huddle around the island and even found times for walks, we were so warm and snuggled.

As the reality of the pandemic settled in, we all quickly realized, this is it... this is the new way we do school, life is all different, our days are way different and we went through the roller-coaster of emotions. You, sweet girl, you took it the hardest.

You missed the most. You missed friends and teachers and classrooms and activities and connection and important field trips and little special moments and all of it was ripped from you. You had to say good-bye from afar and you were hurting. I was hurting. We would talk about it on our walks, we would talk about it at nighttime, we would talk about it so you didn't feel like it was nothing or you needed to keep it from us. We would also talk about the good things that came out of this. We would talk about some of the really important positives and no matter what, you made it, we made it.

I know that these last few months were important to you. I know that being in that building, saying goodbye to important people in your life was important to you. I know that it was going to make you feel more ready for your next chapter, not less sad, but more ready. I know none of that happened. I know.

So to you sweet girl I say this. This is the year that will make history. It will be written and talked about and your experience will always matter. You will forever remember this. Whatever comes our way this fall, we will deal and do. We will figure it out together and we will make sure you are ready and feel like you will also appreciate and love this next experience.

There is one thing that is always true about you, you always try. You also make friends, you always connect, and you always do your best. It's all you can do and you definitely do so you've got this. Now, go be you.

20
Jun

Five Minute Friday - worth

Every Friday we unite for five minutesOnly five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on worth.

Go.

I have defined my worth by my busyness.

I have defined my worth by my career.

I have defined my worth by how many meetings I have.

I have defined my worth by how many races I run, how many times I push myself too hard.

I have defined my worth by how many tris I can get in, how hard I can work my body, how much I can burn and do.

I have defined my worth by how high I can raise a middle finger to my MS.

I have defined my worth by how determined I am

to accomplish

to meet goals

to set new goals

to grow

to learn

to work on myself.

I have defined my worth by my grit.

I have defined my worth by my exhaustion.

I have defined my worth by how many hard things I can do.

I have defined it by an agency that changed my life, and the impact I wanted to make, how much I wanted to give back.

I have defined my worth by working hard, the harder the better.

And then, I stopped.

I can do hard things, I don't need to prove it anymore.

I can run just one company and be more successful when focused, and not breaking my brain.

I can run just because I love the sound, the quiet, the way I feel.

I can do yoga to remember how to breathe and work out because my body feels good in motion, I feel good in motion.

I can work hard on me, for me.

I can share my laughter, my joy.

My worth is wrapped up in a lot of things

like how my daughter wants to spend time with me

like how my son wants to play with me

like how my husband wants to enjoy our time together

like how my dog loves our walks and our snuggles and smooches

like how my home runs and operates and the breathing room I am providing

like fun

and joy

and friendship

and my squad

and my framily

and my laughter

and my heart

and my compassion.

I spent a lifetime proving my worth, to no one but myself, and I'm tired.

So, I stopped.

Stop.

14
Jun

Better

To my gorgeous blond hair, blue eyes, porcelain skin beauties...it is time you learn how we all need to do better. It is time that we have long and difficult conversations about the fact that you were born white, to a middle-class family, you are afforded more. More opportunities, more open doors, more safety. Not for any reason, not because you worked for it, not because deserve it and others don't. But, because of how you were born vs how someone else was born. We will do better.

You have heard us talk about this a lot recently. You have heard voices get raised and conversations get heated and you have heard us all ask ourselves what we carry, how we can do better, what part we have played in this. You have heard mom admit all of the ways she has messed up, you have heard dad call people out, himself out, you have heard us call each other out. We will do better, we will not just try, we will.

You have seen the news, you have seen the protests and you have seen what this country is, how this country was built and how we will decide how it moves forward and we will decide what side of history we will be on. We will be on the right side of history because we will do better.

You have been asked to research MLK, you have been asked to research Frederick Douglas, and you will continue to do more research on our actual history. We took this land away from people and then took people from their land to build it for us. You will be asked to research what protests were like and will continue to be like, until we all do better.

You will learn how this country was built on the backs of people of color, of slaves that we took and dragged here. We took people away from their homes and we turned them into animals, we as a country need to reconcile that unbelievable black mark on our souls. You will learn how people of color are still treated less than, are still seen as beneath us and how we, as a country, continue to make sure that is where they stay. But we will do better.

We will do better in small and big ways. We will look deeper, we will ask ourselves why we did or did not do this or that. We will look first at ourselves, what have I done/not done...why? What have I let go and why? What does racism look like for me and how do I change that within me? We will call each other out on things, we will not take any of this lightly and we will not let this go, a few days, weeks, months from now. We will not look at it like a mountain we cannot figure out how to climb. We will climb it step by step and we will do better.

We will not judge how others decide to protest. We will not tell them how or when or what it can/can't look like. Mamma would burn a city down too if you were taken from me by a system that took away my family. We will not tell them to be quiet, no, instead, we will be quiet and we will just listen and do better.

We will not receive a gold star for doing better. You will not be told, "good job" for being a decent human. Because that is not a thing. We will do better anyway.

We will shop with intent. We have researched black businesses that we will support. In all areas...from home to jewelry to art to cooking. We will support them.

We will eat with intent. We will no longer go to a city and "see where to eat" we will look at black owned restaurants and we will support them.

We will read with intent. We will continue to read books like "The Front Desk" and we will look into black authors and read books on their view of our America. We will read them, we will learn, we will discuss them, we will do better.

We will listen. We will shut up and listen and we will believe people of color when they tell us of their experiences. We will not say things like "if that is true then" or "did that really happen?" No, we will listen, we will believe, and we will apologize because this is not our America if we decide it won't be. We will do better.

We will vote. We will tell our "leader" you are not a leader. A title does not make you one. You have failed us, you have failed all of us and you do not represent who we want to be. You represent what we once were and no longer want to be. Do you hear me, this is not the America we want. We will vote locally and tell our current representatives, do better. We will tell the man in the big white house that was built by slaves, get out. You don't belong there, you refuse to do better but we will.

We will lose people, not to murder, like too many black people have had to do, but to their unwillingness to go deeper and look at what they have. We will ask them to dig and we may have to walk away if they cannot see it because we will no longer say "I understand where they are coming from" not on this issue. Not on this. We will demand better.

We will volunteer our time, our services, our talents, our everything. We will do better.

I admit, I have rarely ever had "my America feeling". I struggle with how we all got here. What we took, who we destroyed to live how we do. I struggle with what we continue to do to those that are also Americans. I struggle with what we have stood for, what we continue to stand for. But, these past few weeks, I cannot imagine a more beautiful America. Everywhere, on every corner, people have risen to say, we are with you. We believe you and we are with you. That is the America we want and there are more of us that want change and we cannot lose sight of that. Look at the women's march in 2017, look at the #MeToo movement, look the highschoolers that changed gun laws, look at the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we can be a force to be reckoned with. We can be bigger than life, we can be powerful and THAT is how I get my "America feeling."

We can make this happen, we can affect how this continues to look. There was a line in The Front Desk that made me cry and for the fourth time in my life get "an America feeling." An immigrant telling his daughter "America is not perfect, but this is why we moved here, because she's always changing for the better." That makes her beautiful.

12
Jun

Five Minute Friday - how

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on how.

Go.

How did this historical school year come to a close? How did we make it through all of these months at home plugging away? How did we make it all feel so normal when it was anything but?

How did 2020 manage to level us and allow us to rise, all at the same time? How did it quiet us and slow us down and make us worry and make us panic and allow us to appreciate what really matters and allow us to give up what doesn't and change how we all interact and continue to fight for what is right, all while fighting a pandemic? How did we survie?

How is it only June? How is it not 2037 because these days are short and long and never ending and passing too quickly and stubborn and easy and hard. How is it only June?

How is this summer going to go? Things are starting to open up but camps are closing and children are bored of being home and parents are working and we are all surviving and how are we surviving?

How will this end? How will it be when we all come out of the other side? How will we treat each other, how will we move forward for change and equality. How will we speak up and how will be find the right balance and how will we move forward?

Stop.

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