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 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 1: STORY

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

Today’s prompt is: STORY

I was involved in a remarkable Facebook Live yesterday. Typically, that Facebook Live is a “readalong” of the Sunday New York times. Yesterday was different.

We did have the Times as our anchor, but given the public discourse underway about people’s very personal experiences with sexual assault, we touched on the paper but focused more intently on people’s stories.

I had a small role behind the scenes helping the host by adding relevant links (for example, one of the participants spoke about Denim Day Milwaukee and I dropped in that link).

The host had told me on the phone the night before that he planned to share his personal story about sexual assault. Once he knew I had a story, he asked if I wanted to share mine. A few hours later, I said I would.

As it turns out, I wasn’t able to join the Facebook Live even though I was willing, so I wrote it all out in the comments. To help the people who only listen to the readout instead of watch, the host read my story out loud.

And at that moment, it occurred to me that although it would have been powerful for me to tell my story on camera, perhaps the true power of stories lies, in a way, in writing them out and then hearing them from someone else’s voice. It’s a different type of sharing that enables them to experience what I have to say in a different way.

I left the hour and a half (plus, because we ran over) grateful for the communities we stumble into in this life, for “old-fashioned” paper newspapers that evolve into digital communities, and for being able to trust people I have never met, who have still proven their credibility in other ways, with my most difficult experiences.

Five Minute Friday Story

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

31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes 2018

I am participating in the 2018 “31 days of 5-minute free writes” activity (like I did last year).

Here are the prompts:

 

And I’ll come in and link up each day after writing.

10/1 Story

10/2 Afraid

10/3 Believe

10/4 Why

10/5 FMF Prompt – Share

10/6 Belong

10/7 Hope

10/8 Comfort

10/9 Inspire

10/10 How

10/11 Door

10/12 Praise

10/13 Talk

10/14 Ask

10/15 When

10/16 Pray

10/17 Pause

10/18 Search

10/19 Prompt

10/20 Audience

10/21 Start

10/22 Help

10/23 Common

10/24 Brief

10/25 Capture

10/26 Prompt

10/27 Whole

10/28 Song

10/29 Together

10/30 Voice

10/31 Close

(And to those of you who subscribe to my blog, thank you first of all! I am sorry this is going to multiply the number of emails you get from me for a month. Feel free to ignore them and meet me on November 1 when I’ll return to my regularly scheduled weekly programming.)

 

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

Five Minute Friday: COMPLETE

 

Five Minute Friday

Today’s Prompt: COMPLETE

“Pick a stick from this bag,” said the facilitator at last night’s “Happy Hour” focused on STD Prevention. (For the record, the bag was filled with popsicle sticks of varying colors and condoms.) I took one, no questions asked.

Once everyone had chosen a stick, the facilitator told me what our sticks represented:

Orange: HIV

Blue: Syphilis

Yellow: Chlamydia

Red: HPV

Purple: Gonorrhea

Green: Negative

As you can see below, I “had” chlamydia.

Five Minute Friday

This is an exercise educators use to help young people (and, apparently 53-year-old people) understand the effects of their actions.

“Did you think to ask me ‘why should I take that stick?’ he asked us.” NO. We just did it, because he offered.

I attended the event because I wanted to reconnect with the world of education/advocacy about Sexually Transmitted Diseases in advance of today’s #ADayWithHIV (here’s a previous year’s post).

In addition to the samples of how the educators connect with young people (like the popsicle stick activity), there were discussions of the basics about STDs and how they are transmitted.

More than the graphic pictures and the clinical discussion, though, I was struck by something the educator said overtly once or twice but implied throughout: people have sex with other people, even in situations that they may *know* are risky, because they lack the self esteem to advocate for themselves.

They see it as something that will make them complete, yet it may lead to illness, pain and an altered life course.

This is why we owe it to our fellow human beings to help do something to build up, not tear down, self esteem when possible.

 

Five Minute Friday

 

 

 

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

Five Minute Friday: CROWD

Five Minute Friday

Today’s Prompt: CROWD

I haven’t done a Black Friday shopping trip in years, and I never was crazed like some people get, but the crowds can get insane. If you’re having trouble conjuring an image (which you probably aren’t!), here’s help:

This is what my brain has looked like in the early mornings for a long time, as I immediately picked up my phone to check email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and possibly a few other things the minute I was out of bed. Not to delve into TMI land, but I do mean first thing.

I was unleashing a flood of other people’s priorities, not to mention some truly superficial bits of information, into my head.

As I began my full-time job Monday, I wanted to turn over a new leaf. Although I had been working at the organization already as a freelancer, and mostly full-time hours, I have a renewed sense of the need to focus, especially since the bulk of the work is editing (as a freelancer, a portion of my responsibilities included research and writing, which to me requires a bit of a different focus approach).

I decided if I wasn’t able to live without my phone for that first few minutes (sigh), at least I could be doing something that contributes to my ability to focus and incorporates a positive, uplifting message for the day.

That’s why I put Daily Burst from AudioJoy on my phone. Each morning, the app serves up a thought-provoking or inspiring quote, an article (which I don’t usually read…but it’s there), a scale to gauge how I am feeling that day, and a brief audio reflection (3-5 minutes) with the accompanying text.

***end of five minutes***

My brain is not a loss-leader meant to be fought over by other people with their own priorities.

It is the only one I have, the resource I need to do a job I love already well, and something over which I want to take firm control.

Today’s reading included this passage, which I find much more constructive than a doorbuster.

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday

 

 

 

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

Five Minute Friday: RAIN

Five Minute Friday

Today’s Prompt: RAIN

When I went grocery shopping at Publix recently, a little voice in the back of my head said, “take the umbrella.”

It’s not, of course, uncommon to have an unexpected deluge here in Florida in the late afternoon, but I often think “I can sprint to the car” if it’s raining.

Not that day.

Between the time the automatic doors swished open and the time I got to my car, the skies had opened up.

I must have looked *hilarious* trying to juggle the groceries (being especially careful not to drop the wine!) and the umbrella. I didn’t do a very good job because I came out of the process soaked to the bone.

I took a picture (from inside the car) to share a humorous tweet about the inevitability of the daily shopping trip (specifically the car-loading portion) intersecting with the daily downpour.

I could just share the picture here, but I think it’s important to keep the ability to craft images using only words. I’m a pretty visual person, so that’s always been a challenge.

This day, the rain seemed bent on invading every thread of my clothing. I suppose it’s good that I had gotten plastic bags (I usually ask for paper) because paper would have deteriorated in the rain and I would have run the risk of dropping all the groceries (did I mention the importance of protecting the wine?!).

The umbrella was blowing inside out because it was so windy. I did get my phone in the truck (priorities) because a waterlogged phone was the last thing I needed.

***end of five minutes***

My head was trying to embrace the “isn’t life an adventure and isn’t it a privilege to be holding all these groceries, to not have to worry about where the next meal will come from?” angle but my annoyance was winning out, I must say.

What I know beyond a doubt, though, is that I had a dry home to which to return and a roof over my head, not to mention the ability to laugh at my “misfortune,” so my annoyance abated almost as quickly as a Florida afternoon thunderstorm.

Five Minute Friday

 

 

 

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