Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Choose love, people, for everyone's sake, choose LOVE

My heart has been breaking in my Facebook news feed today.

So many of my “friends” are speaking out against accepting Syrian refugees. They say the refugees threaten our national security. They say we don’t have the resources to sustain them. They say they can’t be trusted. They say our leaders who show compassion are weak.

Then they say we should consider letting in the Syrians if they are Christian.

And my heart hurts.

Where is the love?

Just when I think hatred has been stirred by the fear and that the fear mongers and the haters are winning, I see this beautiful tribute from one victim’s husband and I’m crying.

LOVE.

I remember the families from the Charleston shootings offering forgiveness and LOVE.

LOVE.

Only love is strong enough to combat the hatred ISIS is perpetuating. Not the military, not closing our borders. It’s the worst kind of isolationism to send our troops to kill them and close our doors to their victims.

What the hell is wrong with our world?

Why aren’t we speaking more LOVE?

Only LOVE can save us. Prayer cannot, not when the people praying are also refusing to help. War cannot when the soldiers we send are flushing more victims into the world with nowhere to go. Politics cannot when the criminals are running a help desk and our politicians are tweeting fear and hate.

I tell Hollie constantly, “Speak with love. Act with love. Find the love and let it determine how you respond.”

People are angry. They are afraid. They are being told what we don’t have. But what we do have is love. Find it. Feel it. Give it. It is the one resource which never runs out and is violently contagious. It is the one action we have that is proof of a higher being: the source of love.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

lot of GenXers are loathe to admit we should have been wearing bike helmets as kids. It seems silly to us that our kids see them as essential as a seatbelt in the backseat or hand sanitizer before snack.
When did we get so deliberate in our safety efforts?

While I may forget to remind her about the helmet, I have been very deliberate in a specific realm of Hollie’s life: communication. Charlie and I are really, really good at communication. We expect Hollie to be, too. 
It takes work, though. Especially when she doesn’t always have the vocabulary to express herself.

Hollie and I stood on the stairwell and looked up at the family pictures I’d assembled there.
“What do the words say?” I asked her.
“Caring. Kindness. Love.” She read each one, rolling the syllables over in her mouth. “Honesty. Trust. Integrity.”
“Those are our family values,” I said. “Caring. Kindness. Love. I expect you to treat your friends with those values. Do you understand?”
She nodded. She’s learning. And I’m doing the best I can to teach her. 
So this is an apology to her friends, our neighbors, and any other kids we come in combat with. She’s learning.

I don’t want Hollie to adopt “hug your sibling” apology skills. 

I want her to understand what an apology actually is:
  1. acknowledge what you did
  2. acknowledge the outcome of that action
  3. recognize why the outcome was hurtful or bad
  4. demonstrate remorse.
And if she can do one and two but doesn’t think there is a bad or hurtful outcome, then I won’t force her to apologize.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

To my best friend on her wedding day

The speech I would have given if I hadn't been drinking all day...

You look amazing. It’s not just the dress and the hair and the make-up. It’s also the way you wear that smile.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell if that smile is a mask and behind it is all the grief you’ve experienced this summer. Or if it’s an attempt to reassure me and everyone else that you’re “fine, really, totally, literally fine.”

But today, that smile is something else.

It’s the culmination of all the work and planning you’ve put in and the excitement of starting your life with your husband. It’s having your family and friends around. It’s the party you’re throwing.

And it’s beautiful.

I hope you’ll remember that the wedding is just the beginning of it. What happens after is marriage.

Marriage is very different from weddings.

For one thing, there’s less cake in marriage. More microwave-heated restaurant leftovers, more hastily-prepared meals over the sink, and more boxed macaroni and cheese because it was on sale. Less cake.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

An Overdue Thanks to Someone Whose Love I Earned

I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to earn my family. 

There are some who’d tell you family is born of you — kin, they call it — trees and blood and heritage and all that shit.

I have that.

I have the people I’m stuck with, the ones who annoy and degrade me, who take me for granted and disrespect me. I have those. I also have people I’m profoundly grateful to be related to. The ones I know I’m lucky to call my own.

My family, though, is different. 

I consider my family to be those people I’ve chosen for my inner circle. They’re the ones whose claim has little to do with blood, something to do with longevity, and everything to do with faith.

My family is made up of people who took a chance on loving me and received my love in return. They gave me their loyalty and I gave them mine in return. They stand by me, proud to know me, and I stand by them, proud to know them.

I learned a long time ago that you can choose your family. 

You may not be able to choose your kin. Them sonsofbitches might just follow you around and try to drag you into their swamp. But your family, they’re something special.

One of the earliest members of my family is my brother Josh. We met as friends in eighth grade and remained as such through school. When I went to college at Clemson, he’d moved to Atlanta to live with his mom and step-dad Randy. So every weekend, he was in Clemson and we were partying and telling people we were brother and sister.

Randy and Patty (Josh’s mom) had been high school sweet hearts who reconnected after they’d each had marriages and kids and divorces. Their marriage was something we thought was equal parts tragic (“Why didn’t they stay together in the first place?”) and romantic (“They found one another again!”).

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Outliving Our Nanas

Today’s is Tami’s first day without her Nana.

Today she’ll blink into the sunlight as it seems extra bright to tear-filled eyes. She’ll take deeper breaths than yesterday remembering how Patsy struggled to breathe. She’ll wonder about a future that Nana will not witness.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Homecoming Post In Under the Wire



I paid up today.

I registered for the full reunion event and paid up. Even got the hotel room booked and paid for.

We’ve been committed since September, since I took on a more aggressive workout schedule and this crazy-ass diet.

We’ve been planning to go for months.

But now we’re totally in.

Herndon Hornets Class of 1995. Whoop.

And, actually, I’m pretty excited.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Happy Birthday and all that suchness



I let March completely pass me by. I blogged for the South Carolina Writers Workshop here and I blogged over at GenX stories here.

But, alas, Clemson Road, I did not post anything new in March.

It was my birthday month which I've written about before. My birthday is the day after Lady Gaga's which makes me think maybe she and I have some things in common.

I renewed my Hobbes tattoo this month. It's been a task I planned multiple times over the last 19 years but never actually completed. Then I wrote a short story about the experience with this awesome line in it:


He’s reflecting my lost-self back at me and I like what I see. I let her re-emerge and stand before him renewed.


I'll be submitting the story in May which means it can't appear elsewhere. You'll just have to make do with the images of the work and my description of the artist (on whom I developed a little crush):


Fading ink stretches up his neck from his chest like a collar and down his arms like sleeves. He wears a newsboy cap and hipster glasses and smiles a crooked smile.



It's now April and it's another birthday month.

Three years ago, Wordsmith Studio was born out of the April Platform Challenge created by Robert Lee (My Name is Not Bob) Brewer of Writers' Digest. We banded together, we challengers, and formed Wordsmith Studio.

It's been my honor to serve on the Wordsmith Advisory Group or WAG for the last two years. It’s our job to plan fun things, make sure people behave, and organize all of our writerly suchness into actual writing work.

I have also kept pretty consistently faithful to our Tuesday evening chats for the better part of two years. If you get a chance to stop by Twitter with the hashtag #wschat on Tuesday evenings at 6 & 9 p.m. EST you’ll find some good friends talking writing-like stuff.

I’ve gotten to meet one WSS buddy in person and will see another, my friend Sarah, when I go to Seattle in July to run another half marathon.

This groups is amazing. They encourage and assist, that promote and congratulate, they share and they write. Which, ultimately, is what I came to them wanting to do.

My anniversary post is going to be a then-and-now post. I’m working on it today and will have it up soon.

Until then, take a look at Wordsmith Studio’s writing prompts, community page, and Facebook presence. You can see how meeting a group of like-minded and like-habited writers will keep you pushing ever forward toward your goal.

Cheers and Happy Birthday!

Monday, February 23, 2015

I Don't Want to Break Up with Brian Williams



I’m broken hearted over this whole Brian Williams thing.

By all accounts, Williams is a gifted storyteller. He’s known for spinning yarns, entertaining small groups of colleagues and coworkers with quips and tales. He’s engaging and magnetic and his stories, while sometimes inaccurate, are amusing and impressive.

The problem with that is Williams is also a journalist. In the United States we expect our journalists to tell the truth.

It’s important to make the distinction that in our country we hold journalists to a standard of honesty that other nations simply don’t impose.

Now that it’s publicly acknowledged that Brian Williams tells tales, the integrity of his reporting is being questioned. Even though he’s never falsely reported a story while sitting at the news desk.

Monday, January 26, 2015

What parents of onlies know



Charlie and I are both middle kids. Classic cases of left-out, overlooked, constantly compromising, and all that other middle kid BS.  Maybe it was all we knew, but we expected to have multiple kids in our household.

For any number of reasons, though, we seem destined to be a threesome. Which is more than fine. We’re so blessed with HB. She’s practically perfect in every way.

Around Halloween we took her to the ballet to see Dracula and I learned a few things I think maybe parents of more-than-one don’t know.  Here they are, in no particular order:

Sitting between your parents is a BIG deal.

Hollie insisted on being between us at the ballet. When we have family movie night at home, she tugs Charlie over to my side of the couch to squeeze herself in the middle. Sunday mornings she climbs up in the bed and flops Guh-Gus, her elephant pillow, right smack between us and burrows in with him.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Teachable Moments on the Side of a Mountain



There’s a great recurring joke on Modern Family wherein Cam and Mitchell are attempting to respond to Lily’s behavior and they declare the instance a “teachable moment.”

It reminds the rest of us that we can react irrationally to our children or we can help them understand the impact of their behavior.

Over the years, Charlie and I have had multiple teachable moments with Hollie and I’m proud to say we’ve both gained emotional maturity. We very rarely respond irrationally to Hollie’s behavior.

But even the most self-controlled adults can lose their cool on the side of a mountain.

Here are a few universal truths that must be stated before this story can be fully appreciated:

First, skiing is hard. Maneuvering long sticks on one’s feet, the discomfort of the boots tightly locked down, the arbitrary waving of the poles, hurtling down a hill with nothing but a fall or a tree to stop inertia, all of these combine to make the whole thing truly terrifying.