Monday, February 25, 2019

A Letter for D

Hey there D,

Been listening to this song lately and thinking of you. I know you’ve had a rough go of it lately. I remember the stage of life you’re in. Feeling everything with such intensity. Such raw emotion. Memories of friends making the conscious decision to turn away still burrow deep.

But there are a few things I want to remind you of . . . your worth is innate. Intrinsic. The world is blind. Fickle. Many will love you one minute only to forget you the next. They’ll dare you to cower. To hide. To shut off and shut down. {Because they’re afraid of your light.}

Do so. For a while if you have to. But then . . . then we need you to do the exact opposite. See, because this world needs your love. The world needs people like you. A thoughtful soul. Your light is important here. It pierces through the phony and the shallow. It radiates kindness.

When you’re ready, step out from the shadows. Survive. Endure. Search for love. Abide in hope.

The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. Numbers 6:25

Monday, February 18, 2019

Two Minutes After They Say Goodbye

What type of friend are you? I’d like to think I’ve learned a lot about being a friend over the years. I’ve enjoyed some of my greatest friendships as an adult. This topic is so close to my heart I wrote an entire novel based on the theme of friendship, only the bond in my book wasn’t a healthy one.

You can learn a lot about how healthy a relationship is from how you feel two minutes after someone says goodbye. I have two teenagers and a preteen. The topic of friendship isn’t one I’ve brushed over or skidded across lightly. It matters—who we choose as friends. And sometimes it takes time to discern whether someone is indeed that—a good and loyal friend. Here are a few questions that might help with the discernment process. After they’ve said goodbye, do I feel depleted? Exhausted? Like I’ve been manipulated or as though I’m always feeling forced to go along with them? Do I feel like the relationship is uneven in regards to give and take? Am I reflective or peaceful? Am I excited to hang out with them again? Am I too anxious to please them or make them happy? Have they invested in me in equal measure as I have them? Am I making all the efforts? Are they dangerous in any way? Have they been leading me down a path I don’t like? Am I changing into someone I don’t like because of them? Do I feel in control around them or controlled by them? Are they prone to drama, gossip, or bullying others? Do I like who I am when I’m around them? Do I feel a general sense of discomfort when I’m around them? Am I good for them?

Answering these questions may help pinpoint why a relationship has felt off for quite some time. It’s also important to be aware that sometimes we contribute to the uneasy feelings in a relationship. For example, if we are too eager to please that isn’t necessarily about the other person, but something we can work on.

As I stated, this topic is near and dear to me. In No Woman No Cry, Bob Marley sings how he’s had good friends, and how he’s lost good friends along the way. That part of the song always gets me. In the time I have left here on earth I want to be a good friend. I’ve come to understand that it’s okay to create distance from those who don’t treat me the way I deserve to be treated. It’s healthy, in fact. I’m teaching my kids the same—to surround themselves with people who make them feel valued and loved. People who lift them up, encourage them, and bring out their best qualities—not their worst.

Right now I have several dear friends going through some hardships with their teenagers. I’ve been thinking a lot about them and hoping their kids have even just one thoughtful person come into their lives, to bestow kindness. And encouragement during this trying season. I know certain individuals have made a tremendous difference in my life at crucial times.

When I think about the kind of friend I want to be I think about Lester in the non-fiction book I just read (posted about it last week—The Sun Does Shine). Lester showed up for every possible visit to be with Anthony Ray Hinton, an innocent man trying to stay hopeful for thirty years while he sat on death row. Lester encouraged in the truest sense of the word. I cried as I read the following. Ray’s dedicated lawyer had tried almost everything to get him out. There was really only one more shot at freeing him and it came with a great risk. Through years of hardship, Ray found ways to remain hopeful and positive, but this particular day he was struggling. Lester tells him, “We’re not kids anymore, Ray, and we’re not afraid. We’re going to face whatever happens. We’re going to face it, and we’re going to fight if we have to fight . . . We’re still walking home, Ray. We’re still just walking home together.”

A good friend, a true friend will be there to remind you, when you need it most that you’re walking home . . . together. That you’re not alone.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Inspiration from the Most Unexpected Place

I never imagined a man who spent years on death row would be a source of inspiration for me. Then again, I hadn’t known anything about Anthony Ray Hinton. Reason number 1,278 why I love book clubs. Hinton’s book, THE SUN DOES SHINE: HOW I FOUND LIFE AND FREEDOM ON DEATH ROW is our next read for book club.

Forty pages in, and this book has found a way to seep into my day-to-day thoughts. Hinton’s honesty, his ability to see beyond his circumstances has been revolutionizing the way I approach my day. Needless to say, I’m excited about this book. I love when inspiration comes from unexpected places. I’ve been around long enough, and open-minded to a degree where this is happens on a regular basis. I just never know where the inspiration will come from—when it will spark. I’ve learned to expect it from nature, after a lung-burning run, or while reading. And yes, I’m inspired due to reading his book, but there’s something more here. Hinton is inspiring me. Through his book, yes. But also with a greater reach—through his life.

I’m tackling some key edits on one of my novels, but I’m going to carve out some time so I can get back to reading THE SUN DOES SHINE. It’s one of those books that possesses a gravitational pull.

Have you read anything life-changing lately?

Monday, February 4, 2019

Book Club Week

I get to be spoiled this week. I’m hosting book club at my house tonight with a group that’s magically and wonderfully come together. We’ll be discussing Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Then, on Wednesday evening, my 6th grader and I will join other families to discuss Forget-Me-Not by Ellie Terry in a school book club. 

I’ve been pro-book clubs for years now. Not only because I’ve garnered a tremendous amount of support from local book clubs, but also because of the powerful conversations—the connections—they have the potential to incite. The empathy. Seeing the world from someone else’s point of view. Taking us out of our own little worlds and broadening our scope. All good things.

I have to laugh sometimes when I come across mentions of book clubs in some of the novels I read. Often they’re touted as merely social gatherings. The latest thing. Think Bunco or wine tastings. I’ll always be one to argue book clubs—when there is actual discussion of books—possess an intrinsic ability to have us step outside ourselves, if only for a brief time. Book clubs remind us of our humanity, our vulnerability, our innate need for one another. They teach us to be gentle and kind to one another, while also challenging us to stand up for what we believe in.

Book clubs remind us of what’s important. And what’s not.

*Not in a book club and have no idea how to start one? Please, reach out. I’d love to help! I lived here for maybe three months before I got to work and joined not one, but two book clubs. All it takes is a love of reading and a little bit of risk-taking.

Taking Time

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