Five Minute Friday: PLACE

Five Minute Friday Place

Five Minute Friday: PLACE

Give the prompt of “place,” and I’m going to write about New York City.

I have always said (and believed) that I could be happy anywhere geographically. I still consider that the truth, but no locality makes my heart sing like NYC does.

I pondered that during my last visit (in January).

I felt an anxiety I haven’t usually felt as the trip approached. What if I had lost my street smarts (such as they are)? What if something basic had changed (like the time the public transit system had switched from tokens to swipe cards and I had to stand there at the machines, like a new arrival in a foreign country, clueless)? What if I got mugged? What if the decent streak that began in 1989 of essentially getting through city life unscathed, both when I lived there through 1992 and during all the visits since, ended?

Once I was settled in my AirBNB, though, being in NYC was like putting on my oldest, softest, most soothing garment.

Five Minute Friday Place

The view from Brooklyn

It’s easy to say when I know I get to come home to the relative ease (and lower expense) of living in Tallahassee, but I love (usually!) having to figure things out. Also, it’s a whole lot easier to navigate mass transit now that we have little tiny navigators in our hands through our smartphones.

The city has gotten less gritty, more gentrified, a new degree of “homogeneous” since 1989.

Still, it offers up new discoveries every time I arrive, as much about who I am as about what it has to offer.

Five Minute Friday Place

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

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

Five Minute Friday: JUST

Five Minute Friday Just

Five Minute Friday: JUST

This is what came to mind when I read today’s prompt: the number of times (I’ve lost count…) that I have heard someone who is praying publicly use “just” frequently throughout their prayer.

That’s probably not what was intended by this prompt (I think it was supposed to be more about justice), but it’s what kept niggling at my brain. Once I became an Episcopalian, after quite a long time of being Southern Baptist, the incidents of “just” pretty much disappeared. I think this had to do with the adherence to a prayer book.

However, I’m an ecumenical enough person that I worship in many different environments, so I am still struck by a “just-filled” prayer occasionally.

Now, the only One a prayer style matters to is God. I shouldn’t care!

It’s more of an observation. It’s an observation made by Robert Sang also, in 5 reasons to eliminate the word “just” from your prayers.

And it’s a big enough thing that, apparently, an app was created to administer an electrical shock every time someone used the word “just” while praying. OUCH! (I can’t find the app in the app store; maybe it just went away. 😉

Whatever the case … I think the reason it even catches my attention at all comes from two reasons.

***end of five minutes***

The first is Toastmasters. The “repetitive ‘just'” habit irritated me before I got involved in Toastmasters, but once you are trained regarding the way filler words detract from your message, and once you are in the position to evaluate others on their speeches (because they want to be evaluated), it’s even more difficult to ignore all the justs!

The second is a bit of a dichotomy. While I know God doesn’t care how we deliver our message … and God knows our every need anyway, I also know God wants us to be direct and confident about asking for guidance and good outcomes for those we love.

As Robert Sang said (referring to a specific scripture passage), Jesus used “just” to mean “in the same way as you are in me and I am in you.” Sang goes on to remind us, “It is not a mitigation.”

I’ve done my share of not being clear about what I want (and need) over my lifetime. Of all places where I should feel free to be specific and mitigation-free, prayer seems to be that place.

Five Minute Friday Just

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

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

Five Minute Friday: CONVENIENT

Five Minute Friday Convenient

Five Minute Friday: CONVENIENT

“It’s not what I asked for.”

How often is that true for all of us? We end up in a situation that we didn’t plan or want. It’s the opposite of what we dreamed of.

This lyric is part of “She Used to Be Mine,” one of the songs in the musical “Waitress.” I saw it last Thursday night, starring Sara Bareilles, who wrote the music. The song starts off relatively calmly and quietly, but by the time it reaches the end, the singer is leaving it all on the stage.

As an audience, we had a moment as Sara reached the end of this song. The events that had occurred and inconvenienced her character were things we all had invested in by that point.

As I was standing outside the theater after the show, at the stage door waiting and hoping to see some of the stars, someone else who had been there said, “this show makes me want to be a better person.”

I knew exactly what she meant. Theater does that for me, too. This show is “about pie,” but it’s about so much more. It’s about overcoming insecurity, about claiming your body back from someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart. It’s about doing what you have to do when you inconveniently end up being responsible for another innocent human being

***end of five minutes***.

Two families that are friends of mine are dealing with very ill babies right now. One baby has gone home, and the other goes home within the next day or two. They have different prognoses, but for now each one is going to require extremely intensive medical care, both from the parents and from medical assistants. In each case, a family and their older child/children have found their lives completely turned inside out — emotionally, financially, logistically.

It’s tempting to say, “I couldn’t do that. It wouldn’t be what I asked for.” I don’t know these two families intimately, but I know them well enough that I’ve seen how their situations have evolved. Despite all the complications and inconvenience, I have watched two families fall in love with their babies. They want support, and I have watched them learn to ask for what they need. But I have also seen them do what caregivers the world over have done for as long as issues have arisen with loved ones: figure it out. Love. Be Mom. Be Dad.

Convenience can wait.

Note: Here is information about my friends’ babies. Thoughts, prayers if you are the praying type, and support are all appreciated.

Jesse: Facebook page (Pray for Jesse). GoFundMe.

Lydia: Facebook page (Beautiful Warrior). GoFundMe.

And here’s Sara Bareilles singing “She Used to be Mine”:

Five Minute Friday Deep

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

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

Five Minute Friday: BALANCE

FMF Balance

Five Minute Friday: BALANCE

Balance is misleading. Keeping balance looks like something that takes supreme caution — being exquisitely tuned to each breath, each movement, each thought.

The irony is that balance takes a certain amount of letting go of all those microscopic “what if this doesn’t work?” types of thoughts.

If you have ever paddle boarded, you probably know what I mean. Once you’re on the board, the process of staying on the board and out of the water takes an orchestration of your physical body, your mental senses, and whatever goes on in our inner ears to give us the sense of balance.

I have only been paddle boarding once, sadly, but that one time gave me the sense of what it takes to stay balanced. It isn’t what you would think watching paddle boarders from shore. It takes a wide stance (to give yourself a more solid base). It takes looking ahead and where you’re going rather than down at the water around your feet (yes, the water you could potentially end up in if you lose your balance!).

Most of all, it requires trusting yourself.

Just like in other situations where we must seek balance, if we spend the whole time second-guessing our choices, we are likely to sink emotionally.

Five Minute Friday Deep

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

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

Five Minute Friday: VALUE

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday: VALUE

Our values show in what we say and in what we omit saying.

My Thanksgiving with family was wonderful in every way, truly.

In retrospect, however, there was a moment when I froze at a when I could have upheld my personal values better. In addition, I started the problem.

An extended family member now works in an extremely rural area of the South. We were discussing all the things that are NOT in the area (decent restaurants, sufficient shopping, etc.). I asked about schools: “I guess there’s one of each (elementary, middle, high)?”. The other person said that was correct, and that there is also a private school.

I said (with, I acknowledge, a healthy dose of my own snark), “It’s probably a super-Christian Bible academy right?”

The family member said it was an “academy,” but not necessarily a religious one.

They went on to say most of their coworkers send their children to the “academy” because the public schools are “dark.”

I. knew. exactly. what. they. meant. and. said. nothing.

My initial assumption about Christian schools was no more fair than the other person’s insinuation that the reason public schools are less desirable is because they have a higher-than-average minority representation.

***end of five minutes***

Every conversation these days (many of them, anyway) seems destined to divide us rather than bring us together.

I have opinions about ultra-conservative Christian schools that are probably overgeneralizations. Having been active in a pretty conservative Southern religious tradition when I was younger, having knocked on doors when I was 17 trying to “save” people, those opinions are mainly built on the fear that they don’t teach young men and women about the array of options in our world (in a variety of ways — gender, body privacy choices, what to read/think/do), but I can’t say they all are that restrictive.

I do, however, know people in our society are doing stupid, fatal things because of the fear of people who are “dark.”

As my acquaintance Susan Turner wrote in the Holocaust Education Resource Council’s response to the Pittsburgh tragedy, “Character is one’s only possession.”

I don’t know what I could have done instead of staying silent in that interaction (besides not initiating that conversational path in the first place) that wouldn’t have created a rift or moment of tension.

But I know it is a manifestation of our privilege that children throughout our nation (and right here in Tallahassee) are still getting worse educations because of their skin color and socioeconomic status — and we haven’t found a way to insist strongly enough that this be changed.

If the idea that “every child matters” is part of our value systems, we won’t make any progress if we stay silent in those one-on-one moments.

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

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

FMF31 2018 Day 19: WHO

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

Today’s prompt is: WHO

Today’s prompt is one I am taking literally.

One interpretation of “WHO” is the acronym for the World Health Organization.

I end up writing and editing content about that “WHO” three days a week, because I edit the UN Wire SmartBrief.

The fact that I get to edit the UN Wire SmartBrief is such a serendipitous thing for me that I am still, more than a month into it, a bit incredulous at how things end up working out the way they were meant to.

I was slightly involved with this newsletter when I was a freelancer, searching for and writing some of the summaries for it, then my duties took me to other topics.

Once I began applying for full-time positions, two of the ones I applied for ended up being filled by other applicants (who are fantastic, by the way). When I applied for the position I ended up in, I wasn’t aware it involved editing UN Wire.

UN Wire is such a personally satisyfing piece of my job because I have been involved in Shot at Life, a United Nations Foundation grassroots effort related to helping children have access to immunizations, for years. Before that, I was involved in the UNHCR Blue Key project for refugees.

I am reminded each time I edit this newsletter about the enormity of the world’s problems, juxtaposed against the miraculous fact that people keep trying to resolve them.

***end of five minutes***

I’ve tried (and not entirely succeeded in the way I wanted to) to explain in writing how it is worth doing the tiny things (tweeting a legislator, calling a legislator’s office, sending a constituent email) to achieve monumental accomplishments.

For example, I was recently involved in a RESULTS effort to get the United States to send a representative to the first-ever “high level meeting” at the United Nations about tuberculosis. Set aside the fact that there shouldn’t even have been a question about our nation sending someone, the process to try to get it to happen involved lots of small efforts aimed at creating the critical mass of public input that would sway those in the position to decide. We appealed to our representatives and senators to sign a letter that encouraged the administration to send someone.

—to send someone to a meeting…

—that would ostensibly set in motion efforts around the world to detect, treat and prevent TB.

Source: WHO

It would be easy to give up on thinking that the five-minute (at the most) act of sending an email could make a difference, but it does.

The US did end up sending someone to that meeting.

Somewhere out there in the world, a simple email may make a difference to someone who needs the opportunity to live.

Photo credit: RESULTS

Five Minute Friday Comfort

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.