My Final Four – Boys, Blessings, & Big Dreams

A Growing Gift

Amidst my former hope of joining #teampink, I finally delivered my fourth (and final) healthy boy – and I am elated. I’m still wrapping my mind around the idea of being in the house with five males; glaring at the toilet seat that is still up at times when I want it to be down; trying to ignore the waning desire for tea parties and tiaras and yet cherishing the throne that remains all my own as the reigning Queen (smile).

What sticks out most however, is that I am thankful.  Like any parents, there have been days when I longed for the serenity that comes with an empty house.  I’ve joked often with my friends and told them my favorite day (pre-Jonathan Paul [the newborn]) was haircut day, because all of the “boys” were gone.  With such an active household, it’s nice to have peace – and to be able to enjoy a dessert alone – something rarely done in a home full of foodies!

Admittedly, I’ve cringed at the rough-housing inherent with little men.  I’ve fussed about broken trinkets and misplaced socks and shoes.  Nevertheless, I’m filled with reflection of what it means to have a family, as I find myself nostalgically immersed in the magic that is motherhood all over again;  but, sometimes, I find it bittersweet.  Why?  Because I see it in so many contexts now.

I consider the baby I lost that will never be forgotten.  I’m acutely aware of the anguish that comes with parenthood – and not being perfect at it.  I’m pained by the hard lessons you watch them learn that you wish they didn’t have to, seeing their missteps with each turn they make, and I am grieved by the tragedies that befall other parents that are simply inconsolable (and there are far too many of those lately).  Each and every element reroutes me to the bliss of being a mom.

I hear parents with empty nests tell me, “Oh baby enjoy them while you can.  They won’t be young forever.”  I realize, unsurprisingly, they are so right!  I laugh about my comparative experience with my first son, now 11, and I almost want to tell the clock to rewind so I could do it all over again.  He’s going to middle school next year, and I’m not ready.  Like many, I’ve put baby pictures side by side, marveling at the similarities and doting on the differences. I’m ultimately thrilled that they’re all healthy, happy, and whole.

I remind myself often of the games I’ve been to; their pivotal moments and fondest experiences, and I’ve endeavored to savor everyone.  Because having gone to more funerals than I would have ever imagined so early in the year -the hardest being my father’s; being blown away by the iconic things my brother has been sending me from the 70s and 80s era that we adored as kids and being thrown back into history with the loss of celebrity greats – I’m proverbially reminded…that our families…are priceless.

*                  *                *                  *             *                  *                *                  *

I dream.  I hope to create legacies that my children can embrace, espouse, and extol.  When my today becomes their yesterday, I want them to recall it with a fondness that would warm the hearts of their great-grandchildren.  I want them to remember the laughter at our dinner table; the feel of their father’s calves as they wrapped around them with their whole little bodies; what it was like to sing and dance in front of the TV with their brush-turned microphones and horrible Michael Jackson impersonations.

I dream that the love that we’ve worked so hard to impart – on their best days and their worst – will flow through them fluidly, not only to their children, but in the form of kindness to others – as they share their faith, their convictions, their fervor and their friendship.

I dream that my boys will share an inseparable bond – a kinship that makes them as much brothers as they are friends – that they will know that what they had with their family is unlike any treasure they’ve ever known, rivaled only by the love of God.

I dream that each reader of this post will not only share in the joy that our family has, but will remember how important it is to treasure – and make right, if you haven’t already – the relationships in families of their own. Life is a gift.  We seldom take advantage of all it has to offer.  While it’s too short to be angry, we wait too long to rectify what’s wrong.  Remember to live life to the fullest, and love the ones who love you most.  Don’t forget, we’re the models for the tiniest of all.  Dream big.

Love, Carla

Caption: Feeling full with my Final Four – and thanking Him for the gift of each and every one.

#pursueyourpassion, #catchyourdreams, #bethe1, #dreambig, #loveispriceless

 

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Search, Seize, Savor: Rekindle Your Professional Passion

Search and Seize

When I walked into the room, I couldn’t help but gasp at the pillow that looked dipped in chocolate.  Subtly accented by the accompaniment behind, it seemed to be espoused by a billow of rose petals tied together with care, further accented by silk and satin that begged to be adored.  My then co-worker was giving us a tour of her cute and quaint condo, both simply and elegantly designed – and with every corner that I turned, I was increasingly delighted.  It was divine!

What I didn’t know is that the expert I’d spent so much time with in our profession on a day to day basis was secretly in love with a completely different industry – interior design!  Her face was luminescent as she begin to describe how her passion for perfection with every home essential began when she was a little girl.

As a frequent traveler with military parents, she’d marinate for days on exactly how she wanted her new room to look – and execute it within hours, flawlessly.  Her childhood hobby had fully bloomed into an adult sized admiration – and she was exceptional at it.  Nevertheless, what she truly loved the most – was somehow what she was doing the least…

Have you spent recent hours working in one place, but daydreaming about what you’d really like to do somewhere else?  Are you one of millions whose thoughts often lead them to what they wish they could do – if they only had more time?

Make the time!  To write your book; pen your poetry; make your music; design your app… Whatever it is that you perhaps started long ago and no longer watch the embers glow – or maybe you never blew on the flame – it’s time to rekindle it!

It’s not so late in the year that you can’t make a Spring Resolution.  Spring into action – and pursue what you really love!  Quit your job?  Not necessarily.  Never make life changing decisions on the spur of the moment or as a good friend once told me, under duress.

I say nurture your natural gift and desire to choose to do that which is fulfilling… And if it just so happens to be profitable – with benefits that outweigh the liabilities – then perhaps you should consider making a career change!

Now I will say that I’ve had some readers who expressed they are not necessarily in need of career movement, but they are still repressing a desire to delve into something they’d love to do, but haven’t.  And to them I say, “What are you waiting for?”

Life can throw us a few unexpected curves.  Sometimes, it’s wise to table things that need our full attention for the sake of greater priorities.  However, we can place obstacles in our own path in the name of procrastination, failure to follow through, or strangely – even fear of success.

I’m reminded of a song I heard on the radio yesterday on the way home from church.  Tickling my fancy, I realized that the commercially professional debut I was listening to I first heard and saw on FaceBook – as an uploaded video, beautifully recorded acapella – in the artist’s bathroom.

In one of my earliest conversations with Erica Shaw Wiley, she’d expressed that while she wasn’t exactly sure of how her music career would play out, she couldn’t squelch her desire to pursue it 100% any longer.  She’s since received rave reviews, celebrity endorsements, and outpouring support from a growing number of fans – and this is just the beginning.

*           *       *           *          *           *

When I reflected on my co-worker’s condo, I saw something very different than the other guests.  The “S” that branded her work for her was a reminder of her name.  For me it symbolized, Search, Seize and Savor.  Search for whatever it is that fills your heart with satisfaction on end, and seize the opportunities to throw yourself into it!

You should wake up in the morning, fanatical about the day ahead – because you know what you’ll do is something that you love – like Bakers Lane owner Tiffany Bell, whose hobby has now transformed into her profitable culinary delight.  With every miniature milestone and actualized achievement, you should relish the fact that you are doing what you do best.  Savor it.  It’s yours!  And the world around you will know you’re the best person for the job.

Time’s a wastin’.  #pursueyourpassion, #catchyourdreams, #bethe1, #seizetheday

Caption:  A simple reminder that seizing the day yields the best satisfaction of all

My Pain, His Providence, My Peace

Love Never Fails

A searing burn charred my heart when I learned that my superhero had fallen from the sky.  Amidst countless gasps of air coupled with painful heaving, I felt absolutely…breathless.  My husband valiantly cradled my collapsed and very pregnant body, fluent in comforting words and encouraging epithets; but, it was a language I couldn’t comprehend.

His admonitions were drowned out by the internal shrieks that were shredding my mind and the audible ones filling my room in my own voice that at the moment, I did not recognize. I crumbled on the floor in pieces.

On so many occasions, I’d consoled friends who had lost the one they loved most with “My condolences” and “sorry for your loss,” and I genuinely was.  Nevertheless, in the thick of my pain I realized that I did not discern the depth of their anguish when that loved one was a cherished parent.

In addition to the countless phone calls received and those that needed to be made, forms to be completed and arrangements to be selected there are also questions to be answered, updates to be given and unanticipated delays paralleled by unresolved matters where time is of the essence. To say that it is overwhelming would be an understatement…and this barely allows moments just for grieving.

The simplest things now seem monumental.  Selecting pictures thrusts me into the throes of agony, relishing the memories I so vividly remember only to feel my heart plummet at the thought that there will be no new memories to create.  I am told the grief will ebb and flow in a cycle of recursive stages and may never end at all (sigh).  I wish it came with warning signs so I could brace myself for impact.  #wishfulthinking.

Even still, in the valley of the darkest place I’ve ever known, one pervading feeling overshadows my most potent pain – love. For every ounce of anxiety, I’ve received a kind word, a warming sentiment or a spiritual lifting.  My faith flourishes with Scriptures that have poured through my phone and devices, championed by friends and family from near and far, spanning the spectrum of youth and wisdom.

I find myself calming in moments of duress.  I am quieted by the peace that transcends my understanding.  The anger and bitterness that was seeping through my soul is replaced with the thankfulness that the illness is gone.  I’m reminded that the One that I love more than anyone else, the One who loves me more than anyone could, the One who will never leave me nor forsake me – is still here – even in my valley…and His love conquers all.

I will never stop missing my superhero or wishing that I couldn’t have one more hug; but, I am elated that I still see his smile.  I feel the grip of his hand and the resonation of the pride in his voice that I am his daughter.  I hear his rich tenor, melodiously singing his favorite songs, and I don’t need a photograph to capture his essence.  His soul may have passed into eternity, but his spirit will strive with me forever.

I love you, Dad.

#heartbrokenbuthealing, #pursuingmypassionforyou, #yourethe1, #withmeforever

Caption:  What He reminds me never to forget…

Live, Leverage, and Learn…

Pursue the Possibiltiies

As I sauntered across the brisk, brightened lawn I was mesmerized by the light show that had been so meticulously designed for me and countless other observers.  The enormous tree was strewn with lights that looked like falling rain, so replete with luminescence that the house behind became hidden.  I admit, I wanted to pretend I was eight and run underneath the branches, swinging my hands between the dangling bulbs, pretending that I was in some type of fantasy land.

Like others, we took our share of various pictures, boys with mom,  boys with dad, and we forbade the children from running under so as not to disturb the perfection of the moment for other visitors to follow; but, my most memorable picture came as I walked the farthest away preparing for my departure.  When I turned around and saw the darkened shadows against the incessant brilliance of the lights, I was compelled to take out my trusty camera.  It occurred to me that the picture would capture my first epiphany for the new year.

So often, our lives can be quickly overwhelmed with issues or obstacles that we didn’t anticipate.   Like massive trees with heavily laden branches they can seem to be fixtures in our lives – difficult relationships, troubled finances, confusing situations, lingering ailments, or sometimes just perplexing decisions.  However, when I reflect on my own challenges from the outgoing year, I can’t help noting that some of my most agonizing dilemmas gave way to many of the brightest moments of my life.

Difficult relationships led to new bonds with old friends.  Financial conundrums paved roads for fortified decisions that I would not have considered had I not had the then unwelcome hiccups.  Confusing situations mandated that I take a necessary step back – to focus, question, and clarify.  I was unwillingly initially of course; but, when I did, my future seemed incessantly lit with possibilities.  I later became thankful for all of the insight that came with those heavy boughs of burdens.

If you’re anything like me (or perhaps know someone who is), you join the millions of people who make promises to themselves to be, do, and live better at the onset of the new year.  I love New Year’s Resolutions, but as I’ve become more “vintage” (because I’m clearly not getting old [smile]), I find myself beginning those resolutions towards the end of the outgoing year.  I consider what was successful and what went awry, but I endeavor not only to learn from my life, but the lives of others.

I have a renewed interest in health – not just physically, but spiritually, mentally and emotionally, financially, and professionally.  Often, I think we target a single area assuming that we can’t address multiple areas of our life.  I contend that we can.  Noting the many lives lost of those I’ve known and those I didn’t, I’m constantly reminded our lives are short and our moments are precious.

What is my sage advice for everyone?  Live well, with every fiber of your being!  Take care of yourself from the inside out!  Leverage the knowledge you gain, whether with family, friends, or formidable foes because everything that happens in life is purposeful.  Finally, learn from your lessons.  They extend far beyond the realm of academia.  If you think about them conscientiously, you’ll realize their benefits with greater ease.

You owe it to yourself and those you love to maximize the opportunities you’re so often presented.  Pay attention to the gems that are awaiting your arrival.  I have my eye on quite a few treasures, and most of them can’t be held in your hand.

#preparingtocontinuepursuitofmypassion, #catchyourdreams, #betheone, #happynewyear, #staytuned, #whatswaitingforyou

Caption:  The lights that lit my fire again.

Shooting for Their Success

Shooting for Their Success

It’s not everyday that we get to work at a job where we can actually say we’re thoroughly delighted with our daily activities.  You know how sometimes, you work at a place because it helps you to make ends meet?  However, there are occasions when our place of employment is an environment where we can take those things that we love and put them into practice in a way that is not only beneficial to others, but allows us to thrive in the areas where we shine best – because we love what we do.

I’m pleased to say that when I am not speaking, writing (or eating, LOL), a part of my day is dedicated to teaching two of my favorite subjects of academia (English Language Arts/Reading and Writing) to my 8 yr. old son at the school where he is also learning Spanish and Chinese.

Sharing with him and his 3rd grade peers the art and science of communicating their most vibrant thoughts with the rest of the world tickles me for days on end.  They’re at a point where they still love learning – and sadly, so many of our children don’t.

One of my favorite days at the school is Friday – not because I know it’s going into the weekend (although that is an added plus), but because each Friday the staff focuses on emphasizing the importance of college, and the students are enamored.  Uniforms are gone and college apparel abounds.  There are speakers, special presentations, and surprise guests – all with the intent of stirring up their enthusiasm for post secondary education.

Now, I don’t knock the world of sports, but to say I’m a fan of any team in particular would be quite the leap.  Anyone who knows me realizes my fandom is reserved for all things culinary.  That being said, I was delighted that on one of those recent Fridays my son’s eyes lit up when he saw this mascot (and massively tall) basketball players from The University of St. Thomas immediately following a presentation that again shifted his view towards his future.

I spend my afternoons with high school students who have not had such success in their academic careers.    Many are over-aged, some have been to three to four different schools already, prior and consistent failures from the past are common.  Nearly a third are homeless, some have single parents – and are single parents – but what I zone in on is the one thing that I can use to help their learning experience be effective:  desire.

There exists among them students who long to be successful, despite their circumstances.  More than a few of them possess the same desire as my third graders – to learn.  I share the common enthusiasm of wanting to teach them…things that perhaps they never knew or hadn’t considered.  Whether the eyes are oooing and awing in an 8 year old body or an 18 year old body, I hope and pray that the lessons developed – both from classroom and life – will inspire them to change their future in a way that is incessantly rewarding.

I’m no athlete by sports standards, but every day – I am shooting for their success.  All of them.  We each have the ability to touch lives with our talents, but are we really scoring the way we should.  What are you shooting for?  It’s not limited to a classroom…  I’d love to know.

#pursueyourpassion, #catchyourdreams, #bethe1, #athletesarentjustonthecourts

Picture:  Christopher and the mascot from The University of St. Thomas – feeling excited about his future.

I Can’t Forget…

thankful

I never cease to be amazed at how life can seem to swallow us up when we delve into more and more projects, past times, and personal endeavors.  I feel that I’ve been swimming in them of late, so much so that I had an unanticipated hiatus from blogging (smile).  Nevertheless, exciting highs and disheartening lows have compelled me to retreat to one of my favorite havens – the blogosphere and the many readers that I heart endlessly.

So about a week ago, I had the honor and pleasure of emceeing a historical event, The First Annual Salute to the Stars of Service, spearheaded by Tessy Windle of Artistic Celebrations in Pearland, Texas.  Dedicated to those who have and continue to protect our freedoms, I was captivated by heartwarming testimonies and adorations rightfully esteemed upon our patriots and duly reminded of how many things for which I have to be personally thankful.

Despite their individual experiences of service, triumph, and tragedies, they were each connected by a love for what is wonderful about our country and appreciation for the benefit of their collective sacrifices.  Truthfully, I felt a bit guilty about how quickly we overlook how these men and women have made our home such a wonderful place to live.

I’ll admit – when I hit a few bumps in the road, there’s a part of me that wants to wallow about what’s not fair, what’s not right, what should be different, what I wish was better.  However, I can’t overlook my many blessings.  Of late, I’m most excited about my newest edition – we’re five months in and Baby Brown’s gender is still a surprise (just four months to go) – I’m determined to find out in the delivery room!

Nevertheless, a highlight of my event, was seeing the little girl pictured above.  I couldn’t help, but hope that my fourth (and final) Brown will come with a pony tail!  Regardless of whether boy or girl, I am thankful to have the blessing of parenthood bestowed upon me again!  It’s uniquely special to be able to provide the sacrifices that come with loving someone other than yourself.

Additionally, I am not only thankful for the sacrifices that were provided for my country, but the most important Sacrifice that was made for my life.  Through Him, I know I can endure all of the ups and downs, and more importantly, a wonderful adventure beyond anything I could imagine.

As we celebrate our service men and women, and saunter into the season of Thanksgiving, let’s remember to be thankful for what matters most – faith, family, and friends.  After being carefully reminded of who and what I love most, I know #Icantforget.

#thankyou

Picture:  Another reminder of why I’m thankful.

Taste Your Life

delicious

I did it again.  When the wheels of fall began their familiar churn, I found myself quite a bit buried in the art and science of balancing three boys-mommyhood with wifedom, faith-based priorities, and career calisthenics.  Have I been here before?  Uh-huh.  Can I be honest…it summons to memory one word:  #overwhelmed.  But, I find hovering in this hole is way too intense, so I have to find my way out in order to maintain my sanity.

Despite the rapidity of my demands (that seem to scream from everywhere), I still love taking pictures of beautiful things.  It’s…refreshing.  As I was scrolling through my camera roll, I came across this one, and remembered how good it tasted.  Now, as much as I relish opportunities to indulge my palate, I couldn’t remember for the life of me the name of the food truck that I got this from.

What I do remember is why I got it, and who I shared it with, and where I was.  I took my three boys to the Museum of Health and Science.  They were there for an amazing, informative event, complete with a scavenger hunt, prizes, lots of “ripping and running” (as my Grandma would say), plenty of dancing and pleasantly loud music, and a simulated food fight.

In between all of the excitement, they asked if we could get one of these ridiculously enormous sweet, cool treats.  And we shared it – all four of us.  Isaiah (2), Michael (10), and Christopher (8).  It tasted…wonderful.  It tasted like – an amazing and unforgettable day in my life, where my boys were so excited to be there.  I was able to give my husband a break, and I sat there and enjoyed seeing them have a great time.

Life can be so intense.  Sometimes, way more than necessary.  I’m a huge fan of the serenity prayer because it helps me keep things in perspective.  In essence, there are many things that will happen that we can’t do anything about.  Let’s accept that.  There are some things that we can change.  Let’s work that out.  Figuring out which is which?  We’ll need some wisdom on that one.  In the meantime, let’s not get so overtaken by life’s demands that we forget to taste the sweetness of what matters most.

I think I’m going to have to find out the name of that truck.  I could use a repeat.

#pursueyourpassion, #catchyourdreams, #betheone, #tasteyourlife, #itsprobablybetterthanurealized

Whether Opulence or Opportunities, What Are You Willing to Taste?

simplyluscious

I’ve known for many years that I rave over succulent shrimp, and I was naive enough to believe that I’d had them in just about every way possible.  As a lover of dishes that are Latin inspired, I’ve also had my share of fruit salsa, but when I sat in Benjy’s recently, I was incessantly intrigued by the Sauteed Local Rock Shrimp with Texas peach salsa, lime butter, and toasted brioche.

I’d not previously seen shrimp bathed in a citrus-infused butter like broth.  Nor had I seen chunks of ripened, sweet stone front, subtly accented by sweet red onions and herbs. Initially, I was reluctant.  I recall thinking that this isn’t how the salsa was supposed to look.  I couldn’t guess how the broth would taste, and I was nervous.  What if I didn’t like it?  What if the flavor wasn’t quite right?  What if I ultimately found this dish dissatisfying? 

As an open-minded foodie, I was willing to take the risk.  It was easily one of the best culinary experiences of my life!  The shrimp were so supple, lovingly lathered in that liquid with the perfect viscosity.

The peaches were luscious, tender, juicy and tastefully juxtaposed to the crisp, smoky, brioche that was a flawless vessel for soaking up the savory elixir.  As I found myself unwilling to leave a morsel or drop behind, my meal was followed up with the standard Brown epiphany.  What else was I willing to taste?

So often in life, we are faced with opportunities to experience, try, or indulge in things where there’s a point of familiarity, but several new factors that are unknown – and at times, we cringe.  We become very concerned about how different it is from what we’re used to.

We question whether or not we will like it.  We rationalize the legitimacy of refraining because it’s something that doesn’t align with our cemented notions of old; but, what wonderful sensations and meaningful milestones are we casting aside when we push back from the table?  The best ones.

I’d be remiss to say that everything we try will lead to the fulfillment of our dreams.  Nevertheless, I do believe that we owe it to ourselves not to let our fears sour our future.  I had no idea of what I was getting myself into when I ordered what now seemed peculiar on my plate.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed it enough that I’ve placed my palate pleasure on repeat since then with that dish.

Here’s the takeaway.  If you find yourself faced with new opportunities that may have some “unknowns” for you, don’t always assume the worse.  I’ve embarked upon such a transition of late, and while I have some questions, I’m already tasting the flavorful realities that I’ve made the right choice.

Choose what’s best for you.  Embrace the endeavors that are laden with promise.  Trust your instincts and know that your taste is refined enough to lead you to a delectable meal.  Whether opulence or opportunities, it’s time to feast on future success. Bon Appetit!

#pursueyourpassion, #catchyourdreams, #bethe1, #tastethis

Picture:  One of my favorite culinary delights found at Benjy’s in Rice Village – Houston, Texas.

She Didn’t Know She Was Hiding Something

amazing

I never visit my husband’s hometown of Nacogdoches, Texas without some sort of pleasant surprise.  Sometimes, it’s when my mother-in-law makes me a blackberry cobbler from scratch.  Or it may be a visit to Aunt Wilburt and Aunt Irma’s to get a history lesson. She has artifacts that could debut in the finest museums, complete with her docent-like overview that leaves me fascinated.

Then there’s dinner at Aunt Norma Jean’s and Uncle RC’s, which looks more like a holiday celebration than a Sunday afternoon, but when we went this weekend it was for a special occasion.  My husband’s cousin Yolanda was getting married.  It was the first time I’d been to an evening wedding in a darkened room.  The room was illuminated by candles that extended from the chandeliers and an illustrious display at the altar.

The bridesmaids that so elegantly strolled down the aisle held candles, too in lieu of traditional floral arrangements, and the blushing bride held a bouquet of colorful lights that almost shined as brightly as she did.  The soloists sang ethereal music, rivaled only by Byron (the groom) who serenaded the guests upon his entrance and his bride prior to his departure.  Complete with the sighs and laughs you’d get from a premiere entertainment experience, it was an affair to remember… However, my biggest surprise came from Savannah.

Savannah is the young lady in the picture.  I saw her standing from afar when my sister-in-law, Trana, informed me that she had spearheaded the picturesque decorations.   Enamored with its beauty, I later asked if I could take a picture of her with her work.  I assumed she’d been hired and wanted to compliment her on a job well done.  The thing is, she wasn’t hired.  She said she just “wanted to do something nice for Yolanda” and “offered to help out.”  Really?  I pondered, bemused.

Turns out she’s a 19 yr. old college student who’s studying math – because “she’s good at it,” (which I don’t doubt).  She’s not yet decided on a career, but in my opinion did an exceptional job creating such a heavenly set-up.  Mom, who sat nearby, was equally proud.  My advice?  Consider this at least a hobby.  There’d be plenty of people who’d love to patronize you to provide such services on their behalf – even if you did it on the side.  What a hidden talent!  And she didn’t even know.

So I got the thinking.  I know many friends who are exceptionally good at things.  Naturally.  So much so that people call upon them to do it often.  It could be baking, sewing, designing, singing, playing instruments, creating, organizing, planning, etc., and some of them do it repeatedly giving little thought to the fact that it’s quite a talent.  And for free!

I believe in doing things out of love, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  However, if you do  it effortlessly, passionately, and frequently, you might want to consider doing it – professionally.  Especially if you do it well.  Take that love and share it!  Then share the returns with the ones you love the most, while enjoying a level of fulfillment that you may never have known.

Savannah did an outstanding job, although she very humbly accepted compliments.  I’d hoped to friend her on Facebook, but could only write her name down at the time because I didn’t have a connection.  Turns out there are quite a few people with her name, and I wasn’t able to distinguish which one was her.  Nevertheless, I believe her story is a wonderful one to tell.

The smiles that she brought to the room were indelible and I’m sure the happy couple will look back on their photographs and video and beam often, in part because of her hard work.  Who knows, maybe a friend of hers will share this post and she’ll revel in the treasure that she didn’t know she had.  I hope so.  Because her gift is certainly meant to be seen.

#disoveryourhiddentreasure, #catchyourdreams, #pursueyourpassion, #bethe1

Picture:  A mathematician in Nac with a knack for multiplying smiles.

“I Speak Human” – I. J. Brown

icopportunities

As I woke up to news of yet another shooting tragedy, I let out a long and pained sigh.  I pride myself in writing about chipper things and look for pleasant sources of inspiration – but, today, I saw media saturated with sadness, anguish, confusion, despair.  Can’t say that’s what I wanted for breakfast.

Nevertheless, you know we do have to talk about those elephants every so often.  I’m still a pretty positive chick, so I first decided to scroll through my pics.  Interestingly, I’d forgotten about this one from last week.  And then, even amidst feeling distraught, I felt a smile ebbing across my face…but not without a few sobering conclusions.

So I took my three boys to the public library, 8, 10, and 2.  The 10 yr. old, my avid reader, gobbles up books in the 600 pgs. realm.  My 8 yr old has discovered the joy of chapter books.  The last time I took my 2 yr. old to the library, he was a bit smaller and had no idea where he was.  But on this day, he was fueled, fast, and furious!

He’s been in school.  So he knows what books are.  He is reading – according to us.  Pictures, which counts.  I’m sure…I’m a teacher (smile).  But he made me nervous.  When he zoomed to the kid’s section, he first ran to a stranger.  He’s so quick, I didn’t catch him in time.

My thinking, adversely impacted by all of the swirling things I’ve heard about race combined with my own experiences made me tense up a bit.  I thought, “Oh God, he’s bothering them.  I hope they don’t get the wrong idea.  I hope he doesn’t do anything to that little girl, he’s so rough.  They’re white.  I hope she’s not offended.

Can I be honest?  I was afraid.  Like so many, I’ve had my share of bad experiences.  Some, I’d really like to forget.  But I’ve had some good experiences, too.  And this was one of them.  Isaiah figured out, that this lady (whose name I don’t remember) was reading.  He ran over to a shelf, deeming himself a helpful assistant, and brought another book for her to share.  Her daughter, who I learned was 1, was receptive to the kindness of this stranger.  I realized…it was because he spoke human.

I’d be remiss to say every experience is like this, but I do wish it was.  Bereft of the strife-filled recollections that I’ve encountered over the years, he didn’t see color; he didn’t see gender; he didn’t see age; he saw – people.  People who were reading.  People who were doing something that he’d like to do.  He saw – an opportunity – to share; befriend; to smile.  Don’t you wish we saw things like this…all the time?

Now I know the concept of children being color blind is not a new thing.  Actually, that’s not my focal point.  It’s something else that I noticed about kids, which many of us are aware of, but perhaps don’t talk about enough.  Whether our kids think like this really depends on what they’re taught…wait for it…by the adults.  These angry grown ups – of all colors – that stir up a visceral hatred – didn’t morph overnight into intolerant men and women.  These ideas were taught, bred, ingrained, seared.

My question for you is, what are you growing in the children you’re impacting every day?  Whether parent or non-?  Because they hear what you say, but they see who you are.  I must say, I was relieved by Isaiah’s act of generosity.  When I saw that the stranger wasn’t taken aback, but laughed, I felt o.k. approaching her.

I apologized for his interruption, which she found quite welcoming.  She was new to the city and happy for some company.  They later crashed the bean-bag section, her 1 and my 3, and I still cringed a little bit – because my boys are rough.  Turns out, she had a pretty tough kid herself!  They all had a blast.

Food for Thought:  So often, we bring our hang-ups into neutral situations, assuming the worst.  On countless occasions, we should leave our biases out the door.  Reality says, not every experience will be a positive one, because far too many have deepened hatred.  However, as we pride ourselves in our cultural differences, let’s not forget to celebrate our oneness.  I think we all still bleed the same blood.  Let’s not speak hate.  Let’s speak human…and teach the language to mastery…

#ispeakhuman, #kidscwhatwedont, #pursueyourpassion, #catchthedreamsofequality, #bethe1whomakesadifference, #thanksisaiah

Picture:  Isaiah sharing one of the greatest gifts discovered by moms and teachers everywhere….a book.