Truth

I took one of those quizzes like you do that spins a little circle around and then somehow reads the very depths of your soul and comes up with an answer to an intriguing question in thirty seconds or less.

Ahem.

The question was “What is your word for 2016?”  I took it, shrugging and laughing.  I had already chosen MY WORD for the year, but sure, why not?  So I hit the button and off it spun and then–there was my word.

Truth.

Sure.  Okay.  Whatever.

My word/phrase is so much better.  I moved on and didn’t think about it again.  Until yesterday.  And today.

Truth.

And it has become apparent how much this word is already playing into my journey, just seven days into the New Year.

It has also become apparent how much people work not to be transparent. It’s not NOT telling the truth, it’s just keeping the truth under wraps.  So yes, not being truthful.

Oh, for the love.

Perhaps it’s the stage of life I’m in, but I’m really tired of all the cloak and dagger, undercover, in the back room, under the table, under the cover of darkness stuff that goes on.

It’s everywhere.  And I’m just as guilty as the next person.

We work to keep from being transparent.  It starts with our insecurities and worries and fears.  We mustn’t, we can’t, let anyone see them.  We aren’t even comfortable telling folks we care because what if they don’t reciprocate or what if we get hurt or what if we go out on a limb and then…..nothing…..

Yes.  There will be pain.

But what if there isn’t?   What if those feelings are returned?  A thousandfold?

We aren’t comfortable telling someone about the mistakes we made.  Mistakes of commission or omission–we are terrified of saying “Hey, look, I was trying my best, but it just didn’t work out, and here’s what happened, and I’m sorry, and I will work to do better and to make amends,” because what if the people we share this with are only seeking to condemn and point fingers and get revenge for all that has happened…..

Yes.  It could end up badly.

But what if it doesn’t?  What if there’s forgiveness?  Grace?

We aren’t comfortable being truthful because we worry that others might shudder when they see our flaws, our wrinkles, the ugly bits of us that we think are best left untouched and hidden away forever.  We are so scared of someone seeing the real us, because they might recoil in horror.

It would be devastating.

But what if they don’t?  What if there’s acceptance?  What if we find a kindred spirit?

The truth is one of the scariest things out there.  It can take our stories from merely entertaining to provoking and hard and inspiring and broken and powerful and life-changing and something really beautiful.  It can take a relationship that is good and make it the best.  It can turn a mistake into a learning opportunity and a space to heal and make something even stronger.

The truth can destroy doubts and questions and anxieties and loneliness and pain and worry with a single blow.

Taylor Swift  (y’all know I think she’s a philosopher) wrote: “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

She’s right.  We don’t.  But when we have the courage to speak the truth, we know that we are putting our whole selves out there–the good, the bad, and the ugly–and we are opening the door for the possibility of healing, acceptance, grace, and love.

I’m all about opening some doors, y’all.  Let’s open some together.  Y’all in?

Truth.  Huh.  Who knew that little thirty second quiz could pack such a powerful punch?

Love to all.

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Two for the Price of One

When the unexpected words came out of her mouth, I almost wept.

Oh, the grace.

I was so thankful for it, and I thought to myself, “I’m not the only one.  I wonder if there’s more of us out there.”

The bad ones.  The parents who didn’t.

Complete.  A.  Baby.  Book.

Last night though, after 19 years of guilt, I was freed.

It felt so good.

Last night my dear friend of many, many years, my oldest child and I went to hear Theresa Caputo speak.  She has a dynamic personality and is an engaging speaker.  As she was talking to one of the audience members about a lock of hair, she said, “You know, like in a baby book maybe.”

Then she turned to the side and with her dry wit said, “I didn’t do baby books for my kids.  I was a little busy.”

I laughed out loud while my soul was fist pumping, “Yes!”  Oh me, what a relief it was to hear that.  I’m not the only one.

And yes, I remember being a little busy too. Which is why there exists only one scrapbook that covers about six months (from 1 year to 18 months I think) of my oldest’s life.  It took me a while to put it together too.

Ah.  Well.

I am not knocking the parents who are diligent and keep a wonderful record of their child’s first and big moments.  My hat is off to you.  You are awesome.

It’s just that I never could get it together and make it happen.  (I’m sorry, my little people.)

But I did try my best to make the moments we had together scrapbook/baby book worthy.

I hope that counts for something.

Tonight I’m thankful for a beautiful evening with two people I love very much.  I give thanks for a wonderful speaker from whom love and peace and laughter and grace exude.  Most of all, I’m thankful that through Teresa’s confession I found grace.

I hope she knows the good she does.

I wonder how many of us have had that same opportunity to be honest about something in our lives that would give relief to another if only they knew.

Be truthful.  Learn from it.  But when you tell your story, you offer someone else the opportunity to learn from it as well.  So if you have the chance to share, do.

Two learning for the price of one experience.

I love a bargain.

Go love on someone today, and give them the grace you can easily give and they so need.  Share your truth.

Love to all.

Truth from The Middle

It’s a show I haven’t really sat down and gotten to know very well.  I’ve only caught it in passing, usually when I was focused on something else.  Sometimes I do that.  Have a show playing in the background.  I can be comfortable with silence sometimes, but then others not so much.  Which is what happened one evening.  “The Middle” was playing.

I hope to find it streaming somewhere because I’d like to watch it from the beginning I think.  I like Patricia Heaton, who plays the Mom, Frankie.  Of the Heck family.  You gotta love it.  And she tends to narrate from what I’ve seen so far, which is an interesting and not at all off-putting way of presenting their stories.  One night that I was actually paying attention to the show, at the end, Frankie shared this bit of wisdom:

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It struck a chord with me that evening, so I wrote it down.  And tonight I can say, unequivocably, this is the truth.

I find myself, when I did the internal emotional check like I do, that I’m okay.  Maybe even more than okay.

And as I did this check, I heard the littles in the background, giggling over something together.  Getting along.  Happy with their place in life at this moment.  My big girl came in and cheerfully said good night, smelling fresh and shower clean.  The windows have been open all day, fresh air is filling our lungs and good things are filling our hearts.  And my sick one is on the mend, with (oh please don’t let me put this out there and have it mess things up) no signs of anyone else catching the bug.  Good evening, happy children=happy Mama.

I think Frankie’s right–if any one of mine were less than happy, as has been the case on more evenings than I care to count, I wouldn’t be very happy myself.

Tonight I’m thankful for the sounds of simple joy and happiness in my home.  I’m thankful for shows that make the effort to share wise thoughts every now and again.  And most of all, I’m thankful for the peace in our home as the night settles in, the birds quiet down and frogs tune up their instruments.  Quite the symphony, and it makes me smile.

Love to all.

What I’d Say

pic of class of 1986It was twenty-seven years ago today that I graduated from high school. Wow. I graduated from the same high school that my Daddy graduated from, and we even had a couple of the same teachers. He graduated before segregation and before the new campus was built–his school combined with two other schools to form the one I attended. The administration let me wear his honor cords in addition to mine, and that meant so much to me. Twenty-five years after him, I walked down the aisle and had the honor of speaking at graduation.

My uncle called a few days ago to ask if Aub had ever read “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran. It touched my heart that he cared enough to call and ask. And it reminded me of Daddy–because he often suggested books that she should read (or that I needed to read), and because Daddy liked Khalil Gibran too. I was pleased to be able to tell my Uncle that I had given Aub a copy of the book for Christmas, to remember and honor Daddy and to enlighten her. She read it right away.

All this got me to thinking about my own graduation so many years ago. I had just found Khalil Gibran myself, and my seventeen year old self was very enamored with the thoughts and words he wrote. I even started my speech with a quote from him: “Only once have I been made mute. It was when a man asked me, ‘Who are you?'”  And went on from there.

Yeah, I was quite the great thinker back then. Ahem.

And so, I’ve thought a little more today about something that came to me when I attended my daughter’s graduation two weeks ago. What would I say today, if I were asked to speak at a graduation.

First I would tell them they won’t remember a thing I’m going to say. Because that is probably the way it will be.

Then I’d keep talking anyway. There’s some irony in that, I guess. Like the person who buys what they would want as a gift for someone else.

But I digress.  I would continue–

pic of khalil gibran truth quote

Seek truth.  Not the truth.  Just truth.  Seek and then act.  For justice.  For love.  For widsom.

The adults in your life will disappoint. As you grow older, they will, at some point, let you down. They are not perfect. They are human.  We all are.  Don’t let the disappointment change who you are.

At some point, you will make a choice and you will disappoint yourself. It’s going to happen. More than once, most likely.  Give yourself grace. Learn from that choice. Admit mistakes.  Ask forgiveness.  Move on.

It’s easy to waste time on things that don’t matter. Just make sure you don’t waste time or energy on things that can hurt people.   Like judging those different from you. Or hating the person rather than the action.

Or letting your frustration with one part of a person or church or  job or situation make you blind to the good in it or them.

Don’t waste time not letting your authentic self shine.

Be authentic. Be you. But don’t make it about you.   If you are a crocheter in the midst of knitters, crochet away, but love those knitters.  If you are a yellow in a sea of green, shine on so we can see their green too.  If you are a singer surrounded by dancers, belt it out and smile while you’re doing it, singing a tune the others can dance to.  Don’t go against who you are. Life is too short to pretend you are what or who you are not.  Or to pretend that you are not who you really are.

But on that same note, don’t take yourself so seriously.  You’re going to do great things, but you’re also going to mess up.  Truth.  And the only way you can do great things is to try.  So when you mess up, try again.  The great will come.  As my parents used to say, “Keep on keepin’ on.”

Take lots of pictures of you WITH the people you love.  Not just OF the people you love.  One day you will be very glad you did.

Surround yourself with people who get things done.  People who laugh.  Laugh a lot.  People who celebrate the small things as much as the great things in life.  People who find reasons to be joyful.  People who can encourage without knocking you down because they are insecure.  People who love like the stuff grows on trees.  Yeah, those folks.  Hard times are not an IF scenario, but a WHEN.  These folks are the ones who will help you through.  Just as you will help them as you sit with them in their darkness.

You can never say “I love you” or “I appreciate you” too much.  Make time to find something to be thankful for and give thanks.  Learn to see beauty when you look in the mirror.  And in things and people around you.  Be a good listener.  Share your stories, but not your drama.  Take walks and breathe deeply.

Read great books.  And fluff.  Try new foods.  You never know what you might like.  Put the cell phone down and talk with those around you.  Look them in the eyes. Say hello and learn the names of the people whom you see–the mail carrier, the parking deck cashier, the person who makes your coffee, the people who live on your street.  They matter.  You matter.  In the end, that’s what we all want–to have sought truth, found some, to love and be loved, and to have mattered.

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Today I’m thankful for an Uncle who cares what my girl reads.  I am thankful for the memory of my own graduation, the most precious part being the connection I felt to Daddy throughout the whole thing.  I appreciate those who have the courage to speak at these ceremonies and to share their thoughts, especially those who tell it like it is.  And I’m thankful for my Daddy who introduced seventeen year old me to Khalil Gibran, who had some great things to say, and I’m thankful for my seventeen year old, who has found her own love for the words written so long ago.

Picture from Gibran Monument by Julie Flygare

Picture from Gibran Monument by Julie Flygare

“You are my brother and I love you. I love you worshipping in your church, kneeling in your temple, and praying in your mosque. You and I and all are children of one religion, for the varied paths of religion are but the fingers of the loving hand of the Supreme Being, extended to all, offering completeness of spirit to all, anxious to receive all.”–Khalil Gibran