7.3.18 My Silence

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I often pride myself on being a non-judgmental person. The irony laden in that sentence is thick with implication. Since when, after all, has anyone with pride not been intimately acquainted with judgement? And it’s true come to think of it. If I’m being honest, which I might as well be … I judge people all the time. I know this because of how often I offer my advice and my opinions. I give them out for free like candy at a narcissistic parade. Whether or not it’s always warranted or asked for, I toss pieces of “wisdom” out freely, imagining the little sugar drops will somehow taste sweeter if wrapped in pretty words. But you know what? It’s supremely condescending. And I’m sorry.

While I think being a sound listener, offering words of kindness and support, and even opinions (when asked for) are all meant for good … I think that sometimes I just get so distracted by my own parade of thoughts … of what I would do, of what I would feel if I were in a situation, that I let my imagination take control of my mouth. And suddenly my standpoints, perspectives, and judgements are skewed by my own summation of what I imagine. NOT a very flattering realization of myself to say the least – but a necessary one, especially at this time of year. 

You see, I’m a pacifist to the core. I hate war. I hate hate. I hate that we are a part of a country that has a history rich with both … and yet, I love the freedom that I have to think, and speak, and act according to the will that was paid for by the lives of those who put themselves before themselves. One of my favorite people in the entire world is a man who fought in the Vietnam War. It is a war that I have a bitterness toward, yet one that I also know very little about. And there I sit, my blonde-haired, blue-eyed, white-privilege, thirty-something self … full of opinions on a subject I barely understand … and there he sits … ex-soldier who has seen and done more than I will ever know – listening patiently to me as if I do. 

A day away from my favorite holiday of the year. Twenty-four hours from “God Bless America.” From red, white, and blue outfits that will look fantastic in a family photo. From food, and friends, and conversation that will carry me into the magic of fireworks that glisten and linger in the heavens. And how many times have I forgotten to think of what all this nostalgic safety cost? A much lower number would be how many times I’ve actually remembered. 

I don’t say this to dampen the spirits of our precious celebrations. It’s the opposite really. I’m apologizing, because I realize that so much of what I value as a citizen of the United States, come from realities I could never have afforded on my own. No amount of good will I’ve done, of nice things I’ve said, of opinions I’ve shared, or viewpoints I’ve held will do even a fraction for the lives of this nation, as the silent men and women behind the scenes who make sure daily that I am able to maintain a sense of freedom I don’t deserve. You see, it’s easy to offer advice on something you’ve never experienced, because don’t we all have just the grandest imaginations to think we know one another’s pain? 

Well today, to honor the men and women of every branch of our services, I offer you my greatest admission – I do not know how you feel. I do not know what you go through. I can’t imagine the things you have seen, the places you’ve been, or the sacrifices you consistently make for strangers. I do not know the sense of integrity that runs through your core. I do not pretend to have even an ounce of the bravery you bleed. I cannot know the heart, the mind, or the spirit that overwhelms your being just in being you. 

Today I have no advice. No opinions. I offer no viewpoints. No outlook. No stance. I simply, humbly breathe in this Fourth of July with gratitude for all that you are. God bless America’s hands, and feet … from the first soldier to the last – your debt of time, of protection, and of selfless courage inspire me to the highest act of praise I can give … my silence. 

Elle 

6.26.18 Broken Angels

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“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” Michael J. Fox

Today I had the privilege of meeting a fresh from heaven darling for the first time – the beautiful daughter of my sweet friend, only two-days-old. I was immediately drawn into every detail of the encounter and tried to memorize the feeling of just being in the presence of this special moment. I took in every thread of their growing tapestry … from the way her daddy smiled a new smile, seemingly reserved just for her, to the way her toddler sister bragged about her new baby, to the precious handful of nicknames her mommy designated with each tender cuddle or kiss. It was holy, this love. It was pure. It was family in the way family should be. She was an angel born into a home that adored her. How I wish this was always the case.

A few weeks ago, I experienced quite the opposite. I was in a restaurant with my mom on a trip. I had just come off of an interview for a piece I was writing and I couldn’t wait to tell her every detail. But just as we both got our waters, a family was seated at the table behind us, and my concentration to the conversation was shattered for the next forty minutes. The family of five was soon to be six, as evidenced by a supremely uncomfortable and exhausted looking wife. She had dark rings under her eyes and did not smile once in the entirety of their visit. I’m not sure why she would however, as her husband was constantly berating the three kids whose ages ranged roughly between two and six. Between arguing about the expense of things, to nitpicking the way the oldest son was eating, to refusing to get his child a refilled drink, to displaying annoyance at having to cut food into pieces, or push up sleeves, or pick up a fork that fell … it literally hurt to witness such distain, such anger.

I kept losing my place in conversation and had to apologize to my mom over and over again for my distraction. She understood of course – the whole restaurant did at that point. My stomach turned in knots as I wrestled with determining what bothered me more … the fact that the three small children barely looked up from their plates out of fear, or the fact that another young life was being born into this already love-starved family. And as simple as it sounds to state it – I was so mad! I was so angry at the absolute disrespect this man had for the lives he brought into this world, and at the woman who not only allowed him to speak with such force, but then reinforced his words with her own jabs of disappointment and criticism at the children.

I hate doing nothing. I loathe when people say, “It’s not my concern,” because it’s just NOT true. Statements of copping out due to social graces are a weak excuse for doing the right thing. Being humane is everyone’s concern. Being kind is within everyone’s capability. After having taught for the past fourteen years, can you guess which type of family I see more of? Can you imagine why I might desperately wish to adopt so many of the past students I’ve taught? Do you understand why I spent as much time nurturing their emotional health as their educational growth? Because by the time so many of these middle school children reached me they were broken angels … and I had to wonder how long it had been since they had someone absolutely adore them. If ever.

Before leaving the restaurant that day, I stopped at that family’s table and took a moment to gush over the kids. I said how well behaved they were. I talked to them. I looked them in the eyes. I chatted about how I bet they were so excited to be great helpers to their parents with the new baby and how lucky their mom and dad were to have them. They looked up. They smiled and sat up a little straighter. And that was it. It was nothing … but it was everything I could do within that moment not to cry – not to yell, “How dare you,” to a complacent set of parents who didn’t realize the triple blessing before them. Hearts, after all, only turn hard to protect what once craved the love they weren’t given.

As for tonight … I am going to focus on this morning. I have to. I am going to see the sunlight that filtered into a room littered with new baby toys, with big sister joys, and with a mom and dad overflowing with tired exhilaration at the fact that their hearts just multiplied the amount of love they thought they could hold. I am going to imagine tiny, perfect breaths, rosebud lips, twitchy smiles brought on by invisible memories of heaven. And I am going to do my best to dream the impossible dream, that every child will be loved the way they deserve to be loved, appreciated for the miracle they really are, and found before they are ever lost.

Love fiercely, protect just the same … whether they are yours, or not.

Elle

9.20.17 Down to Sleep

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Dearest friends …

I know that I just posted a day ago, but my heart is so heavy for this weary world. Please pray with me below. Please share this with anyone whom you think would care to join us. Please believe that tomorrow is another day, the sun will rise, and that even in the bleakest of times, hope remains alight. 

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Down to Sleep 

Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord this Earth will keep

and steal the dangers from the night        HURRICANES: HARVEY IRMA, JOSE, MARIA

as darkness quenches out the light

 

Now I lay me down to stay

among the wreckage, come what may

and feeling tremors do not fear           EARTHQUAKES: JAPAN, MEXICO CITY

for all the lives we’re losing here

 

Now I lay me down to dream

that nightmares aren’t quite what they seem

and all the men who make our choices        GLOBAL POLITICAL UPHEAVAL  

hear our screams, and pleas, and voices

 

Now I lay me down to cry

for those who can’t see eye to eye

and those whose skin has sad affected    EXTREMISM, RACISM, TERRORISM

racist views and minds defected

 

Now I lay me down to wait

until all hope can conquer hate

and if I die before I wake       RELIGIOUS DIVISION, ENTITLEMENT, ISOLATIONISM

please pray to God, for this world’s sake

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts, your prayers, your reactions, and your comments below. Be blessed dear ones. Grace surrounds you.

Elle

7.3.17 To Be Free

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“Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.” – Benjamin Franklin 

To Be Free

The will to be free is innate

and though we honor in days

in commemorations

and spectacles of light and color

the truest form of celebration is that of the soul

When your spirit is enraptured with light,

with peace

and with the tranquil understanding that

nothing can tether or tie you

but that which you choose to bind yourself to

By lifting your humanity to heaven

by humbling yourself to divinity

you will come to believe in the worth you were born into

Finding you are not owned

you are not enslaved

you are not ensnared by the grip of this world

not to conformity

not to addiction

not even to self-persecution

not to worry

not to acceptance

or a nagging fear of what may be

There will always be wars

and the battles will be endless

Some will be won

and in turn,

many will be lost

But freedom is not to be purchased into

or sold out of

To be free

is inherent in the plan of creation

and its grace washed over you with the light of your first breath

The genuine gift of freedom

is realizing that though life may assign you a value,

priceless

is the only identity

you have any right to claim

 

 

 

 

11.11.16 A Double-Fisted Day

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This week I was in line for Starbucks … again.  I’d just been there two days before, but I needed it, and vindicated my drinking choices with my blonde-head held high.  I was that kind of girl … the Starbucks-toting, it-is-what-it-is “Gold Card Member,” drive-through frequenter that women like me are so typically pegged to be.  There’s a favorite verse of mine, Corinthians 15:10 that says, “But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and his grace within me is not without effect.”  I realized I would not be “effective” at all, without a Ventì.

While I might regret my Starbucks affliction at times, this week, (yes I’m talking about Wednesday morning) there was NOTHING that could keep me away from my perkalicious-pick-me-up.  The funniest thing was, as I made the necessary left, and quick right turn into the parking lot, my kids chorused, ” Again mom?”

“Don’t be judgmental,” I chided, “it’s not an attractive quality.

“Yeah,” my son said, “but weren’t you just here like – a day ago?”

Thankfully, right as we pulled into the line, I saw something beautiful … a man drinking a large porcelain cup of coffee, as he waited in the drive through line to order MORE coffee!  I laughed out loud and immediately diverted the conversation by throwing this amazing man right under the proverbial bus. “See,” I literally pointed,”now that guy has problems!  He’s the addict.”  My kids reluctantly agreed, and let me proceed with my order sans discrimination due to the double-fisted wonder ahead of me.  Still, if I hadn’t felt so “on-watch” I’d have loved to get another drink today … maybe two.

And while my pride won’t let me, I’ve decided to exonerate you … to absolve if you need to have a double-fisted day of three shots of espresso, or even something stronger.  So here’s a small list of reasons to allow you to be, “Off the Hook,” so-to-speak.   Relate to one, or ten … and enjoy a drink on me!

Official Double-Fisted Off the Hook List

  • If you’ve lost sleep because you’re looking into moving to Australia instead of staying in America … you’re off the hook.
  • If you’re balancing work, or kids, or school, or all of the above … you’re off the hook.
  • If you’re going on a television fast because you can’t stand to see another Black Friday commercial thus reminding you of the inevitability that you’re about to be broke in a month … you’re off the hook.
  • If your laundry is tracking you and the only way to avoid it is to leave the house … you’re off the hook.
  • If your inbox is filled to the digital brim with things you’re trying hard to ignore … you’re off the hook.
  • If you realized that the Halloween candy bowl is a lot lighter but you aren’t … you’re off the hook.
  • If you just want to go jump in the leaves but have to go to work instead … you’re off the hook.
  • If you needed to wear your winter coat for the first time this week … you’re off the hook.
  • If the only family member who hasn’t made you lose your temper this week is the cat or dog … you’re off the hook.
  • If you’ve already double booked (or triple-booked) for the holidays … you’re off the hook.
  • If you’ve spent any amount of time at all on Pinterest, thus making you feel like an epic failure … you’re off the hook.
  • If you had someone tell you, “You look tired,” this week …  you’re off the hook.
  • If you would do anything to stay in bed but the alarm is reminding you that the world expects you to show up … you’re off the hook.

You’re vindicated, you’re exonerated, you’re double-fist coffee worthy!

Carry on.

Elle