FMF31 2018 Day 17: PAUSE

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: PAUSE

When I knew today’s prompt, pause, was coming up, I got it in my head that I should literally pause my life for five minutes as soon as I could once I woke up. I wasn’t sure what the end result was that I was seeking, except maybe some brilliant insight I could then write about for this five minutes.

I made my coffee (because some things really must come first!), then went on my back porch, set my phone timer for five minutes, and otherwise paused life and sat.

I watched my neighbor’s car lights as she headed for work, remembering all the years we were both headed to the same office, and thinking back on so much about that shared experience.

I watched other neighbors’ headlights as they headed off to work, and had one of the many endless moments of gratitude I’ve had for a) having a new job and b) being able to work from home. No “leaving the neighborhood” headlights for me. It’s a wonderful thing!

I heard the birds sing.

I heard the traffic go by in the distance (the interstate is close enough that when things are quiet we can hear its traffic). Maybe it was normal traffic, but in my head, at least some of them were more supplies headed to the areas hit so hard by Hurricane Michael.

I wondered where troopers sent the traffic on I-10 last week when they closed a large section due to the hurricane. Where could they divert traffic that wouldn’t put it closer to the affected area and create more problems?

This last thing is the kind of question I like to toss around in my head. The beauty of an enforced pause is giving my brain time to play in a world where I’m usually demanding it to do something more structured.

It was five minutes well spent.

Five Minute Friday Comfort

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

FMF31 2018 Day 16: PRAY

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: PRAY

When the kids were still at home, we had a system for designating who would say grace at dinnertime. Since Tenley had been born on an even day, she would say grace on even days and since Wayne had been born on an odd day, he would say grace on odd days. Maybe God knew what (s)He was doing by not giving us a third child — I’m not sure I could have figured out the math of finding a time for him or her to bless the food!

When my son said grace, he sounded like those announcers at the end of car advertisements on the radio. His words were said so fast it was impossible to understand them. It felt (also like the car commercials) like a technicality — getting through what he had to say in order to get to what he really wanted (food!).

It was frustrating, honestly. I would silently think “why can’t he take more time with this?” and wonder if he even cared.

What I realize, now that our house is quiet and I’m the only one praying over our food is that I was the one being critical, not God. Our prayers are not performances and they aren’t meant to be done in a prescribed way. Most of my childhood was characterized by religion-as-a-requirement. We were supposed to pray often (not that praying often is bad!) and the expectations were plentiful.

Maybe the lesson in a young boy’s quick prayer is that God didn’t need him to slow down, God just wanted to hear from him. The food was blessed, the petitions heard (even if they were SAIDATBREAKNECKSPEED), the family together and for a moment coming before a presence bigger than us.

I am thankful that God cuts us all a bigger break than we sometimes cut each other.

Five Minute Friday Belong

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

FMF31 2018 DAY 15: WHEN

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: WHEN

I am astounded at the selflessness of the people who have descended on Tallahassee and the hard-struck areas west of us (especially Marianna, Blountstown, Bay County and Mexico Beach) to lend a hand following Hurricane Michael.

In addition to the people from out of town, there are in-town people who have gone without sleep, food, showers and time with their families to start to get things back to normal (or some semblance of normal).

Living here, you always know that hurricane damage is a matter of “when” and not “if.” However, you never feel totally prepared (we didn’t anyway).

I was reading an article that gave some background on why Hurricane Michael grew so rapidly (compared to other storms). The article talked about Hurricane Kate (1985), which I was also here for.

So much has changed since then (yet so much has remained the same). Because of social media, we are better able to prepare (theoretically — once Michael had passed, much of our Verizon services (and that of other carriers) was out). Because of lessons learned from Katrina and other disasters, emergency management is handled differently and lessons are applied.

Even with all the progress, at the core of hurricane responsiveness is human beings willing to get out of bed, to risk their personal safety, to take charge of well-meaning but possibly misdirected volunteers.

My friend Ben posted this about Blountstown, a wonderful small North Florida town that was extensively damaged:

Our town has been knocked down, but we will rise as a stronger town.

 

Blountstown, FL

Ben is right. I am in awe right now of how many people have risen to the challenge after disaster struck.

Ed. Note: Prayers (of course) and good wishes are appreciated for all of these affected areas. If you want to make a donation, two good charities are Episcopal Relief and Development and Florida Urgent Rescue (FUR), which has been helping dogs from rural areas affected by Michael. Other options are listed here.

Five Minute Friday Comfort

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

FMF31 2018 DAY 14: ASK

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: ASK

One question never should have been asked when President Trump met with Andrew Brunson, a minister who had been back in the country for an hour (or so — not exact) after being released from a Turkish prison.

The meeting was going exceptionally well, in my opinion, compared to other press events. I was lulled into a false sense of security by the president talking about how it had taken a bipartisan effort to secure Brunson’s release (I’m a big fan of bipartisan efforts).

Until …

President Trump asked Norine Brunson who she had voted for.

Growing up, I was mystified by the fact that my mother would never discuss who she had voted for. Maybe it’s why I have, to an extent, been the opposite kind of parent. I wouldn’t demand my kids vote for any specific candidate, but I would strongly encourage them to vote, and to ask ALL the questions they needed to in order to make the right choice for them.

But (and I know at this point in our national history, this is a pipe dream), the president should just be glad a citizen has been returned to safety.

I love how Brunson, though, did something that was probably equally as unexpected before Trump asked Norine Brunson who she had voted for: he asked if he could pray for Trump.

At first, I thought it may be a sort of cerebral, politically correct, sterile prayer.

***end of five minutes***

But it most certainly was not!

Before I knew it, Brunson was down on his knees, his hand on Trump’s shoulder, asking God to give him wisdom.

Brunson knows a few things about the power of asking. On his and his wife’s Facebook page, there is a picture of this entire Brazilian congregation, which had gathered to pray for his release.

Ask

Photo credit: Andrew & Norine Facebook Page

Maybe these Brazilians could tackle the topic of wisdom about when to keep quiet and how to govern for our president next.

Ask

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

FMF31 2018 DAY 13: TALK

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: TALK

I have seen numerous aerial views of the damage created by Hurricane Michael in the days since the storm hit. (I don’t have any I feel totally comfortable sharing due to crediting appropriately, etc., but there are several here.) The problem is — it’s really hard to tell what exactly has been damaged. It’s obvious that the area is devastated, but it’s impossible to get down to the granular level — living rooms where families laughed/cried talked together, decks from which seasons of sunsets and sunrises were enjoyed. There’s too much to take in, and not enough all at the same time.

This is a slightly awkward transition to make, but it’s bugging me so here goes.

A while back, I wrote a blog post about gender reveals and why, although I definitely feel “to each her own” on this, they make me uneasy. I stand behind every single word, and heck, a guy was fined $220,000 for accidentally causing a fire with gender-reveal incendiaries!

However, a Facebook “friend” shared the post in a group that was primarily geared toward women who have dealt with IVF issues, and they were NOT PLEASED.

***end of five minutes — oh well!***

I get it. They come at this entire experience of childbearing and pregnancy having walked a searingly difficult road. I tried to be civil, empathic, and courteous as my opinions and my writing were drug through the mud. Eventually, the woman who had shared it to the group unfriended me on Facebook.

Since she hasn’t blocked me (yet), I can still see how her much-wanted pregnancy is progressing. And I wish I could tell her how happy I am for her.

Here’s the thing about choosing to write, especially opinion pieces. We writers often don’t know who is reading our content. We can get a sense from our Google Analytics, but we never completely know. We’re high up in our opinion drone, not fully sure what the effects are on the ground.

I have to write what I believe, although I always try to do so respectfully and with sensitivity to all sides. If we weren’t true to ourselves, OUT LOUD (meaning on the screen or verbally), we really wouldn’t be creating any kind of image at all, aerial or on the ground. I don’t operate that way. I’ve said often I write as much to work things out for myself as I do to inform, entertain, advocate and educate, but it hits home when a “friendship” (such as it was) is lost.

I have a feeling a talk I’m never going to be able to have with that one person would be more effective than the multiple personal messages I sent empathizing and explaining that I was sensitive to her hurt feelings.

Sometimes the aerial view doesn’t cut it, whether it’s evaluating storm damage or navigating our personal relationships.

Five Minute Friday Comfort

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

FMF31 2018 Day 12: PRAISE

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: PRAISE

I can easily get lost in an internal mental debate about words (well, external too …). The challenge with parsing words and intentions so finely is that it’s easy to lose sight of the need to act, even if it means taking a risk, making a mistake, or failing.

The role of “helping” is central to some reading and talking I’m doing right now, especially in groups that are trying to come to grips with white privilege. It’s more than I can dissect in five minutes.  At its core, the point is whether we sometimes derive some false sense of “being good people” from helping people who are less fortunate (white savior complex comes to mind, and wanting praise even if we don’t consciously realize that’s why we do charitable things).

That said, thank you to Dale in the Publix parking lot today, for the first bump and the opportunity to buy you a dinner that included greens, something that always reminds me of my mom (picking them/washing them/ freezing them/trying to get younger me to like them (I’m very much over disliking them now!))

She was the perfect example of helping without wanting praise, and I’m pretty sure she was somehow part of our conversation.

Five Minute Friday Comfort

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

FMF31 2018 Day 11: DOOR

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: DOOR

Our front door is an issue because it is detracting from the impression potential buyers have of our house when it is shown.

The door is weathered (thanks, Florida) and sticks a little bit (making the opening process a bit rough). Realtors have suggested options: replacing it completely or at least painting it.

Many of the realtors’ suggestions have made perfect sense, but money is tight for cosmetic changes (hence the need to sell in the first place) and we have stalled in making changes to the door.

Frankly, although I agree the changes would help make a better first impression, I know I don’t see this house through a buyers’ eyes.

I see so many Halloweens and greeting neighborhood trick or treaters. I see my son heading to the bus stop right on the corner. I see a family growing up and two children who now have their own doors at their own places.

I know it won’t restore how the door looks, but in my mind’s eye, the wear and tear shows that we hopefully invested in the most important things: loving our kids and trying to give them memorable childhoods.

Five Minute Friday Comfort

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

FMF31 2018 Day 10: HOW

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: HOW

There’s probably a more efficient way to do this, but when I hear something that may be a tiny seed for a future blog post, I send myself an email with the phrase in the subject line.

Therefore, I find myself mystified weeks later when I’m cleaning out emails and run across blank emails that just have subject lines that clearly meant something to me at the time!

Here’s one: “Forget about why, know your what.”

I heard this one at the Type A conference I attended in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. I don’t remember exactly which speaker said it (sorry, speaker!), but her point was that we are often told to follow our passions and dig deep for our “whys” when “why” won’t put food on the table. Having a passion is good but the what is where the rubber hits the road.

In addition, since I have been trying to read something edifying first thing in the morning rather than immediately turning to social media, I decided to read a Lightning Notes this morning and this was the first one to pop up.

It begins with: “When someone does something that knocks our socks off, the question so often asked is, ‘How did you do it?'” and proceeds to discuss the thought process behind that question, and the potential answers. it ends up at:

“How” is about the outer work the person did; it’s often what we can see, look up, research. Belief, though, is about the inner work the person did. The meaning making and perspective shifts, the mindset techniques and faith refills.

Maybe I am hurting myself by clinging so tightly to my “whys,” but I know it has led me to (finally, after all these years) be working in a job where writing and language are among my primary responsibilities, and that is a very good place to be right now.

Five Minute Friday Comfort

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

FMF31 2018 Day 9: INSPIRE

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: INSPIRE

I am inspired by people, especially young women, who don’t give up even though they face entrenched resistance.

I edit the Sigma Chi (Scientific Research Honor Society) SmartBrief (please take a look here and consider subscribing!). It is FULL of interesting stories; I learn something new every day.

Yesterday, one of the stories was about a parasite that takes advantage of another parasite (it’s a vine that sucks the life out of a gall on an oak tree, thereby depriving wasps of food). It was an interesting story in its own right, but I loved the fact that Linyi Zhang, the graduate student who made the discovery, did so after repeatedly being told by her advisor that she must be mistaken:

When she brought the first samples to her advisor, who had spent many years studying galls, he told her she must be mistaken. She persisted. Relenting, he examined the material under the microscope – only to be startled to discover she was likely right.

 

This is not the exact development that was discovered, but its the best free image I could find and this story just calls for an image to me!

I was in a situation this week that had much less importance to the scientific world, but it had importance to my integrity and my confidence. I didn’t win that particular battle (which was sort of hypothetical by the end — it was a language thing and was not going to affect the outcome of the publication). However, as this graduate student found out, believing in yourself and continuing to make your case matters.

Giving up can be as destructive as a parasite on another parasite.

I am inspired.

Five Minute Friday Comfort

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

FMF31 2018 Day 8: COMFORT

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: COMFORT

The absolute first thing that comes to mind when I think about “comfort” is how uncomfortable my mom was at so many stages of her series of hospitalizations that started last December and lasted (with the exception of one 24-hour period at home) though her death in February.

I met and observed so many hard-working medical professionals and paraprofessionals throughout that period. They deserve so much more support (probably pay too) and recognition than they receive. I saw them give their all while other families celebrated Christmas and New Year’s comfortable at home.

However, no matter how competent and attentive a nurse or CNA is, there’s a certain amount of comfort you can’t achieve when you are flat on your back and don’t have full control over how things are going to go — where you have to lie, who is going to poke you when, what you can eat, whether or not the ice chip cup is a half-inch too far away for you to reach.

My mom, being my mom, handled it all with grace and patience. She didn’t want to be a bother. Yet that is a piece of the whole experience of her illness(es) that is hard to shake. She never got back to being able to do what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it, and to sleep in her own bed at home with her beloved spouse.

There’s something unfair in all of that. However, judging by what her therapists and nurses, etc., have said to me, she brought them comfort.

And that, the fact that my mom helped someone else even though she was the “sick” one, surprises me not one bit.

Five Minute Friday Comfort

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.