Today Is World AIDS Day

Did you know that?

There is a giant red ribbon hanging on the front porch of the White House today.

December 1 is still World AIDS Day.  There still is no cure.  People still get sick and die because of AIDS.

People are also living much longer and are taking medicines that really do help slow the progress of the disease.

The drugs that work are very expensive and state and federal programs that help pay for them are in danger of being cut.

Sometimes the side effects and the dosing schedule are so difficult and intolerable that folks stop taking the drugs.

I spend a lot of time helping out at Higher Ground, a day center for people who are HIV positive.   It is a free-standing program of Triad Health Project, the local AIDS service organization.  Three days a week, every week, local churches and other groups provide lunch for 25-40 hungry clients and volunteers and the one paid staff person who tends the souls and cleans the toilets for all who come through the doors.

Higher Ground is a place of acceptance for many who have been turned away by family, churches, and friends.  Believe me when I say, God is in this place and miracles do happen here.  Like crack addicts who are able to stay clean and have their own apartments for the first time in their adult lives thanks to case managers at Triad Health Project and the support and love of peers at Higher Ground.  Or men like my friend Bill who has been HIV positive since the 1980’s.  He had a leg amputated above the knee a while back because of HIV complications and was back at “The House” a few weeks later, smiling.  Many volunteers over the years, from high school students to those of us with gray hair, have been profoundly touched by the courage and faith of the men and women who pass through Higher Ground.

Did you know all this was still happening?

Today, there is much more hope.  But AIDS is not gone.  If you can, please donate your time and/or money to a local AIDS service organization (see below).  They still need you.

Triad Health Project’s vision statement:

We will stand together for as long as it takes until HIV/AIDS is no more, promoting enlightenment, dignity, acceptance, understanding, and love; demonstrating that we are not only enduring this epidemic, but also prevailing over it.

Still.

Originally published December 1, 2010

Link to donate to Triad Health Project (enter my name, then click on Sponsor Participant):

http://winterwalk2016.kintera.org/faf/search/searchParticipants.asp?ievent=1162449&lis=0&kntae1162449=3F3F8CCC90E94B37934225461E1678E4

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Published in: on December 1, 2016 at 9:21 am  Comments (3)  

The Day Before the Election

Monday, November, 7, 2016

This evening, I’ll be in the Sternberger Elementary School cafeteria helping to set up for the election. While I am there,  members of my church will gather for a prayer service:

Breathe, Pray, Love

A time of quiet, music and prayers for peace and healing

I doubt we are the only church or the only people praying the day before this election.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll turn off my alarm clock at 4:30am. It is DARK at that hour. I’ll shower and dress and gather my supplies (green tea, Diet Coke, change of shoes) to spend the day as an assistant poll worker. Yes, I’m one of those nice, grey-haired ladies who checks you in, gives you an “I voted” sticker, and leads you over to the voting machine.

In NC, voting sites are open from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm. Anyone in line at 7:30 pm gets to vote, no matter how long it takes. It’s a long, long day. And we can’t leave, other than to go down the hall to the bathroom.

All the poll workers bring food. The chief judge makes crockpot soup that is available whenever we get a chance to eat. I made banana muffins. One (male) voter ususally brings us freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. I hope he didn’t vote early. There will likely be plenty of food.

Our precinct is majority white Republican and upper middle class so I don’t expect conflict or commotion. And I hope there’s no conflict or commotion at any polling place anywhere. I’m not confident that will be the case. I’ve never worried about that before.

I’ve been a politics geek most of my life. My Gramma Bryant taught my mother how to be a Democrat and Mom and Dad taught us. We always watched the news growing up and discussed current events at the dinner table. The retired man I live with and I did that with our children and I see it continuing with theirs.

My older daughter took her 4-year-old daughter, who said she wanted “the girl” to win, to vote early. She sent me a picture of Maggie with an “I voted” sticker. I posted it on Facebook with the caption “Voted for the 1st woman president.”

And my younger daughter will take her kids to vote on Election Day. I hope she lets 6 1/2-year-old Adaline push the button for Hillary so she, too, can say she voted for the first woman president.

If you haven’t voted yet, I hope you do. You have no right to complain, ever, if you don’t! Thank you to all the North Carolina voters who voted early–you’ve made Election Day much easier!

Remember to breathe as you wait for this long, difficult campaign to end. And please do pray for peace and healing. We all have to live together after tomorrow, whatever the result.

Published in: on November 7, 2016 at 4:13 pm  Comments (4)  
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Been a While

My blog website tells me it has been a loooong time since I’ve written anything. Over the last few years, I’ve read a number of books by writers about how they write–rituals, practices, habits, etc. Each one starts or ends with “Put your behind in the chair and start writing.”

Simple, yes. Also challenging.

I could give you excuses like being busier than usual or some extra doctor appointments. But I still don’t have a paying job. And I don’t live with small children. Just that retired man, who doesn’t require much attention. I wish I could say I’d been going through closets and drawers and bookshelves purging my belongings so we can downsize. I’d be lying.

I did start jotting down random thoughts and ideas this week. Here’s what I’ve got.

1.I read an essay recently written by a dad whose daughter wanted to buy a “distressed” pair of jeans, the kind that come already ripped and faded. Like all of us who once thought we were rebels, he was appalled at the cost of the jeans and also shocked by how repelled he was by the raggediness.

The article made me remember when my older daughter bought a townhouse in Charlotte. She got to choose flooring and paint. She chose “distressed” dark wood flooring. (like this picture) Not what I would have picked, but she liked it. It was actually an upgrade from the basic flooring.

We walk around our house these days, the retired man I live with and I, and discuss what we need to do to get it ready to sell. I refuse to put thousands of dollars into the house and then leave. We do both agree that the upstairs hardwood floors need to be refinished. They looked “distressed” after 25 years of wear and tear.

Huh?

2.I drove 3 1/2 hours to the NC mountains a few months ago to visit my college roommate. She lives in a  “tiny house”  on the side of a mountain with a gigantic Newfoundland dog and 2 small dogs. Kitty and I talked–a lot–and we ate and we went on a skinny, scary mountain road with no guardrail and a very long way down on my side to see wild moose (we saw the fleeing backside of one) and then we watched Hillary Clinton in her white pantsuit accept the nomination to be the 1st woman president. It was great.

I stayed at a close-by hotel. (We are way past sharing space like a dorm room!) The morning I left, I used Yelp to find a locally owned diner for breakfast. When I got ready to leave, I asked the waitress for my check and she told me someone had already paid for me! I asked if she’d tell me who it was and she said she couldn’t. It felt weird to walk out without paying. But if the person was still there, he/she saw me smile like I hadn’t smiled in a good while. I smiled all the way downhill to home. Now I need to pay it forward.

3.I had my annual physical this week. I told my doctor that even with all my various medical challenges and surgeries and daily medications, I consider myself reasonably healthy for my age. On a 1-10 scale of healthiness, I’d say I’m 7-8. He just smiled.

The glass is half full.

It’s all about attitude.

4.I started thinking the other day about which of my daughters would have a harder time when I die. I have no idea what triggered that train of thought.  They will both suffer, I think, each in her own unique way. I pray they will be able to help each other.

I didn’t linger long in that place.

I did start thinking about my relationship with my mother and how I grieved when she died. For the first time I was grateful we hadn’t been real close. The loss and hurt were maybe less intense.

Another place I didn’t want to linger.

5.You know those recipe videos that pop up on Facebook with 2 hands dumping and mixing ingredients? I re-post the ones that look good to me (sorry, friends). That way they are on my timeline so I can find them later. I have NEVER gone to my timeline and printed out one of the recipes. I don’t know why not. They’re usually easy and often crockpot recipes. I have more energy early in the day so crockpot recipes work well for me.

I think I’ll search out and print some after I finish writing.

6.I used to pride myself on always being on time. When my girls were little, I had a friend who had a daughter about the same age who was equally prompt. Gail and I would often pull up at some event like a birthday party at the same time. We would laugh in a “aren’t we just the best” way.

I lost my ability to always be on time. I’m convinced I developed late-onset ADD with menopause that will never leave me.

Yesterday, I managed to get ready to go somewhere on time. My hair was all the way dry, my outfit worked, I wasn’t rushed. I felt good. The retired man I live with pulled into the garage after his Men’s Breakfast just as I went out to my car. He came around and gave me a hug.

“Robin,” he said softly and sweetly, “you shirt is inside out.”

I looked down the front. No tag. “No, it’s not,” I said, like he’d said it was backwards.

“Take it off, ” he said. (Our garage faces the backyard.)

He was right. So much for having my act together

And that, my friends, is humility.

I need help.

From God.

From the retired man I live with.

And from my friends.

(I was still on time!)

 

 

Published in: on October 29, 2016 at 4:32 pm  Comments (3)  
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I’m a 9. And a Turtle.

I’m a 9 on the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a model of human personality using nine interconnected personality types. (See more here: The Enneagram Institute.)

Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually creative, optimistic, and supportive. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict. They typically have problems with inertia and stubbornness. (from the Enneagram Institute)

Years ago, in a day-long workshop led by my friends, Kim and Donna, I visualized my Totem Animal during a guided meditation. I’ve lived with rheumatoid arthritis in my body for almost 30 years so I hoped for something graceful and fast like a gazelle or a cheetah. I got Turtle.  (Here’s a blog post about this: Turtle or Gazelle.)

Turtle lives a slow and steady life of non-doing, one day at a time – not reacting, simply accepting and moving on in its natural rhythm. Turtle naturally withdraws and goes within when in turmoil. It does not need to learn the importance of this focusing inward, it naturally knows. (from whats-your-sign.com/animal-symbolism)

I had outpatient hernia surgery the end of August. Not such a big deal compared to some of my surgeries, but it still involved general anesthesia and an incision. I stopped taking the immune suppressant drug that keeps my arthritis under control because it makes me a very slow healer.

I was supposed to rest, right? I am really good at resting.

Inertia (Enneagram 9) +

Withdrawing into my shell when vulnerable (Turtle) +

Introvert +

Life-long Reader =

a rather happy camper, once the pain eased up.

The problem came when I got the okay to start my medicine again and resume normal activities.  Remember inertia from science class? It’s the resistance of any physical object to changes to its speed, direction or state of rest. In other words a body at rest tends to stay at rest. This body does. I enjoy doing nothing but reading and sipping on a cup of tea.

The retired man I live with and at least one of my daughters don’t have that gene. They got the one his mother passed on–always needing to be doing something.  Thank God.

Surely there are people who live somewhere in the middle of that continuum. Not in my house. The retired man I live with has 2 speeds–doing or dozing. I have one speed–slow, with rest stops.

I’m workin’ on it. (See this blog post: I’m Workin’ On It.)

I’ve made lunch dates with friends, enough that my checking account looks like I eat out all the time. I’ve gone back to water exercise. I’m writing this blog post.

I start in a 4-week small group at church tonight about white privilege. I’m president-elect of the Board of Directors for a local non-profit and I spent a long time on the phone this morning with our new Executive Director.

I live a quiet life, by choice. It works for me. I’ve learned the difference between isolation and solitude. Like most of us, I strive for balance. I want to choose to resist living inside my shell. Some days that’s easier than others.

Want to meet for coffee or lunch?

 

 

 

 

Published in: on October 6, 2016 at 6:09 pm  Comments (7)  
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Poof! Gone.

I’ve never written about the day my sister died. Not in a journal, not in a workshop, not for this blog.

She jumped out of a small plane on June 10, 1972. Her parachute didn’t open. Neither did the reserve. She was almost 19. I was 20.

Her death played out in my mind over and over last week. I don’t know what triggered it. The retired man I live with said I moaned in my sleep a couple of nights. It was time to write and let go of something. What?

I decided to write it as the 1st chapter of a memoir. I opened a new blank Word document and started typing.

I never really learned to type and now my hands are damaged by my arthritis so I am a two-index-finger writer. The other fingers just sort of hang there. It works for me. Usually.

I typed 4 1/2 pages. I came back from going to the bathroom, sat down at the computer and looked at a blank page.

All my writing was gone. I felt sick, but didn’t panic. I figured one of my wandering fingers had hit something. Surely I could recapture it.

And I could have, had I saved any of it.

I DIDN’T SAVE. Any of it.

I write this blog on the WordPress website and it automatically saves every so often. I don’t have to remember to save. So I never thought to save while I dug deep into the narrative of my sister’s death.

I called my daughter who knows more computer than I do. I’d already done the things she suggested. I tried everything I could find in the Word Help menu.

It was gone. Poof. Out into the universe.

I sat and stared at the blank document.

And I laughed.

Last Saturday at my women’s AA meeting we discussed acceptance. AA’s Big Book includes this paragraph:

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

What if writing the story of when my sister died was enough?

What if the process mattered more than the product?

What if letting go and acceptance mattered the most?

 

 

Published in: on August 23, 2016 at 10:28 am  Comments (13)  
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“Where’re you from?”

That question always make me sigh. You see, I lived in 5 towns and 4 states by the time I was 15. My dad kept getting better jobs in new places so off we’d go. As I read recently in a book by Tracy K. Smith, we’d “throw ourselves into new schools with blind hope.”

I usually answer that question with “We moved a lot, all over the Midwest.” Sometimes that just confuses people. If I’m feeling a bit ornery, I’ll give them the line about “4 elementary schools, 1 junior high, and 2 high schools.” That usually gets a pitying “Wow.”  I find a weird satisfaction in that.

When I had kids of my own, I wanted them to have a Home to come home to. I wanted for them what the retired man I live with had growing up in Munhall, right outside Pittburgh. We couldn’t recreate the huge extended family nearby (my parents were in Ohio and my mother-in-law was in Munhall), but we could give them Home right here in NC.

For part of their childhood, their dad traveled all of NC and SC as a salesman of surgical instruments. He was gone at least a couple of nights a week for most of their elementary years. He spent so much time in Columbia, SC, that I joked about his other family in SC. (The girls still don’t think that’s funny.) It would have made sense for us to move to Columbia or Greenville, SC, but I said no. I didn’t want to uproot our kids and make them leave Home. We all paid the price for staying Home.

He made up for being gone with “quests” and many outings like the Science Center zoo on the weekends. He gave them unconditional love and doting attention. I appreciated him taking them away on Saturdays! Maybe he tried harder to be a good dad because he was gone so much.

Now the girls are gone, married with kids of their own. The retired man I live with and I have started having the The Conversation about downsizing. We moved across town into this big house when our kids were 11 and 13, 25 years ago. It has served us well, but it’s more house than we need now.

Just in the last few days, I’ve realized our house is Home to only two of us. Our kids each have a Home of their own. Our house is Mom and Dad’s house or Amma and Grandpa’s house for our daughters.

It’s okay for us to give up this house, our Home, and find a smaller, all-on-level, less-expensive-to-maintain Home. Do I look forward to the sorting and purging process? Of course not. But I do like the idea of having less stuff. It’s time.

The main challenge of aging, it seems, is to feel and accept all the change and losses along the way. Leaving Home will be a challenge and a loss for all of us.

Maybe it can be an adventure, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on June 23, 2016 at 11:13 am  Comments (3)  
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Brave Heart

Adaline, my 6-year-old granddaughter, jumped off the diving board at their neighborhood pool for the first time last Saturday, paddled to the ladder by herself, got out and said “That was awesome! Can I do it again?” And she did, many times. (Her mother was in the water close by.)

She also tried diving a couple of times and, of course, belly flopped. We adults all flinched, but she thought that was awesome, too.

Do you remember that feeling of accomplishment when you tried something new and did it? Maybe riding a bike or roller skating? Hitting a baseball or kicking a soccer goal for the first time? Playing a song on the piano or the the violin?

When was the last time you tried something new? When was the last time you were that excited and proud of yourself?

When was the last time you tried something new, belly flopped, and still thought it was fun?

At what point in life do we begin to censor ourselves? To protect ourselves from embarrassment or judgment? To care more about what other people think than about the thrill of just trying?

Who decides what is success and what is failure?

I don’t have all those answers.

What I do know is that as I’ve gotten older, I care less about what other people think and more about figuring out what feels right for me.

I was the “good girl,” the responsible kid, the rule-follower most of my life. I was teacher’s pet in 5th grade. (Please teachers, don’t ever do that to a kid.) I started to move out of that role in my 40’s and 50’s. I developed a smart-ass sense of humor that not everyone gets to hear. I found a faith that gives me confidence to be my real self. I try new things that feel a bit risky.

When I decided to stop coloring my gray hair in my 50’s, I felt daring and different in a good way. Then a few years later, I got purple and red glasses. They go with my hair. I like to to shake things up occasionally, do the unexpected.

My next challenge to myself is starting a writing group at the local day center for the homeless. I’m nervous, but excited. My friend, Shana, who works there, says I’ll be fine. What I know now that I didn’t 20 years ago is if I’m not fine, I can stop. It’s a volunteer job, my choice.

There is freedom in knowing I have choices in my life. I can take care of myself and be available for others, too.

I like being older these days. I like being a “wise elder” with younger people. After church yesterday, a young dad told me he still uses a suggestion I made at a Parents of Teens workshop a couple of years ago. That feels wonderful!

I hope Adaline always remembers that glow of accomplishment, especially when hard things come along, like multiplication and fractions and fickle friends. If she can jump off a diving board into water where she can’t touch the bottom at 6 years old, she can do anything!

I want to be like Adaline when I grow up.

 

 

 

Published in: on June 6, 2016 at 3:12 pm  Comments (7)  
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“Amma, Who Made God?”

We were all at the Mellow Mushroom, a local pizza place, to celebrate the birthday of the retired man I live with–his sister, our 2 daughters, two sons-in-law, and three grandchildren, 6,4,and 4 (cousins, not twins). They put us outside on the patio. Good move.

It was a beautiful spring evening–not hot, not cold, no clouds and a light breeze. The cousins danced in an open corner to the soft-rock music coming through speakers and the adults talked and laughed.

The kids came and sat with us when the pizza came. Atticus, 4, the only boy, sat next to me. We talked a bit about how good the pizza was. He’s an introvert, kind of quiet and an observer. He plays alone for long periods of time with his legos and he likes to line up his Hot Wheels just so. We think he might grow up to be an engineer.

After eating for a while, he looked up at me and asked,  “Amma, who made God?” I stared at him for a few seconds and then said, “Well, Atticus, I don’t really know.” He asked me again and I gave the same answer. By this time, his daddy across the table heard us and he said, “Atticus, God has always just been there and at some point he decided he needed plants and animals  and people so he made them.” Atticus thought for a minute and then said “Maybe Jesus made God.” I said, “Well, actually, God is Jesus’s Daddy.”  He ate the rest of his pizza and said no more.

Atticus went to a church-sponsored preschool the year was 3. He learned at preschool to fold his hands, bow his head and say a blessing before he eats. He usually insists we all participate. There’s not much cuter or more moving than chubby 3 or 4-year-old fingers folded in prayer. He’s been at home with his mom for the past school year. I don’t think they talk about God.

The sense of wonder that Atticus awoke in me with his question lingers. Where did that question come from? We sure weren’t talking about God on the Mellow Mushroom patio.

When my first grandchild, Adaline, was born, we all marveled at the obvious deep connection between her and her 86-year-old great-grandmother. My theory, and I’m not sure where this came from, was that babies at the beginning of life and the elderly, nearing the end of life, complete a circle when they are together. The baby remembers where she came from and the older person senses where she is going. It’s a spiritual connection that we marveled at.

I picked “Amma” as my grandmother name very carefully. Actually, I eliminated a lot of things I didn’t want to be called first. I wrote about that in one of my first blog posts (here). I called myself a spiritual elder when I explained it to my daughters. I believe God will show me how to spiritually accompany these children.

Every time I’m with my grandchildren, I feel close to God. I just figured it was because of the joy and awe I feel looking at them. Maybe, instead, it’s because they are closer to God.

When I told a friend of mine about my conversation with Atticus, she told me she had a picture in her mind of Atticus holding God’s hand and with his other, he’s holding my hand.

In that vision, I am Amma.

Some links to information I found online about research into children’s spirituality:

http://www.newsweek.com/what-do-children-understand-about-god-223404

http://www.vox.com/2014/7/30/5949421/are-kids-born-with-an-innate-belief-in-god

https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/2013/03/05/are-born-believing-god/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1211511/Why-born-believe-God-Its-wired-brain-says-psychologist.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/3512686/Children-are-born-believers-in-God-academic-claims.html

http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Child-Parenting-Lifelong-Thriving/dp/125003292X

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on May 19, 2016 at 12:44 pm  Comments (2)  
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Except Pee Standing Up

I used to tell my little girls, “Girls can do anything boys can do except pee standing up.” (I’m sure they both tried to pee standing up.) My daughters were born in late 1977 and early 1980. I felt responsible for raising them to be fearless and strong.

I  was born in 1952. I was not raised to be fearless and strong.

Nancy Pelosi was born in 1940, 12 years before me. She graduated from Trinity College, a women’s college in DC. She became a member of Congress from San Francisco and the first female Speaker of the House. Who told her she could do all that?

Hillary Clinton graduated from Wellesley, a women’s college, went to Yale law school before I graduated from high school and then become a congressional legal council and a Senator from NY. She may be the next President of the United States. Who told her she could do all that?

Anna Quindlen, one of my favorite writers, graduated from high school the same year I did. She went to Barnard College, a women’s college affiliated with Columbia University. She became a reporter for the New York Times, then later a novelist and a columnist for Newsweek. Who told her she could do all that?

My younger daughter played more with stuffed animals than dolls. Before she went to kindergarten, she told us she’d work at the Natural Science Center in our town when she grew up. They had a small zoo then.

She started at a women’s college, transferred to Greensboro College and graduated with a minor in biology. While she was in college she worked part-time at the Natural Science Center and had a month-long summer internship  at one of the NC Aquariums at the coast.

She moved to full-time at the Natural Science Center after graduation. By  that time, the zoo had grown and become accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Now she takes her own children there to meet Ruby, the parrot she trained, and to see the Aquarium she helped design.

We (the retired man I live with and I) told her she could do all that.

My older daughter became interested in our political system early on. In high school she watched CNN and C-Span (really) and became involved with Young Democrats at the state level. She decided she needed to go to college in DC, investigated schools and learned about Trinity College, a small Catholic women’s college.

She pursued scholarship money that made her enrollment possible at Trinity, the same college Nancy Pelosi attended. She became active in College Democrats at the national level, completed a White House internship and another with the New Democrat Network. She has worked as a political fundraiser since her graduation. She was invited to Ms. Pelosi’s special Mass (worship service) at Trinity on the morning of her installation as Speaker of the House and has a picture of the two of them on that historic day. Now there’s a picture on her Facebook page of her daughter “working” at her campaign office.

We (the retired man I live with and I) told her she could do all that.

My daughters pursued their dreams and built interesting, exciting careers with confidence and competence. I didn’t know I could dream big, but I made sure they did. And now we can all send that message to their daughters, Adaline and Maggie. Except for the part about peeing standing up, I think.

 

 

 

 

 

Elf on Vacation

Maggie popped into the kitchen from the garage wearing her Frozen (a link) pajamas made like thermal long underwear and sleep-fuzzed hair. The picture of Elsa that covered her chest was faded and the elastic at her ankles was loose. Favorites do wear out.

Maggie brought her parents to go to church with us on Easter Sunday. Her mother took her to go to the bathroom and change clothes. She looked like an angel when she came back. She wore a long white dress made of soft cotton with pastel smocking around the neck and little puff sleeves. White tights, white patent leather mary janes with rhinestones on the strap and brushed hair with a big white bow completed the look.

I was stunned. I looked at her mother and asked, “Did she want to wear that?” Her mother gave me a look and said, “We had a long talk before we left.”

You see, even before Miss Maggie turned 4 in January, she had strong feelings about what she wanted to wear. (She goes to a Montessori preschool and they talk about “strong feelings”–what you and I might call pissed-off-ness or stubbornness.) Her school encourages parents to let kids pick their own clothes, which can result in some interesting combinations.

I’m looking at a printed picture of Maggie posing as “Elf on Vacation,” as one of her teachers labeled her look. Imagine this on a slender 3-year-old whose hair was slow to grow and looks like very blond mullet (a link): a pair of red tights with white horizontal stripes from the thigh to the ankle that end in a thicker green stripe edged with red-and-white-polka-dot ruffles. On top she wears a short sleeved t-shirt tie-died in bright primary colors. She hold an orange tote bag in one hand and added a pair of too-small pink sunglasses to complete the outfit. She posed with her left hand propped on a wall and her left foot nonchalantly crossed over in front of the right one. She looks COOL.

I love her spirit and how she knows what she wants. I tell her mother that her independence and spunk will be good things eventually. Right now their mornings can be a bit intense, with strong feelings on both sides. I admire her mother for letting her go to school as she wants, even if she is wearing a sleeveless dress and the temperature won’t be above 40. She adds a sweater to her school bag and off they go.

What would you wear if you knew no one would criticize or laugh at you?

Does your outside match your inside?

We play many roles and wear many masks. A friend gave me an excerpt titled “Please Hear What I’m Not Saying” from a book called Healing the Child Within by Charles Whitfield, PhD. ( a link) Here’s some of it:

Don’t be fooled by  me. Don’t be fooled by the face I wear. For I wear a mask, a thousand masks, masks that I’m afraid to take off, and none of them is me. Pretending is an art that’s second nature to me, but don’t be fooled…

I give you the impression that I’m secure, that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well as without, that confidence is my name and coolness is my game, that the water’s calm and I’m in command, and that I need no one. But don’t believe me…

Beneath my mask lie confusion and fear and aloneness…

I panic at the thought of my weakness and fear being exposed….

I’m afraid you’ll think less of me, that you’ll laugh, and your laugh would kill me…

I don’t like to hide…I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me…

Each time you’re kind and gentle and encouraging, each time you try to understand because you really care, my heart begins to grow wings, very small wings, very feeble wings, but wings!

Who am I, you may wonder? I am someone you know very well. For I am every man you meet and I am every woman you meet.

I’m sad that no one encouraged me to be more like Maggie as Elf on Vacation. I don’t want to wear wear red tights with white horizontal stripes around my thighs (no!!), but I’d like to be more outrageous than a black t-shirt and jeans sometimes.

I take off my mask more willingly when I remember that I am a Child of God. That means I’m okay. I’m good enough. God loves us because of our quirks, not in spite of them. We are made in God’s image. What amazing quirks God must have!

Published in: on April 17, 2016 at 1:05 pm  Comments (2)  
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