When you think about the words that you’ve seen in some girls’ bathroom stalls, what do you normally think about? Words that typically come to my mind are vulgarity, nastiness, foolishness, offensive… lots of these types of adjectives come to mind. Of course, then there are all the phone numbers revealing personal data about people who had no intention of sharing that information.
Who would think that one could receive wisdom from a girls’ bathroom stall? And yet, that’s exactly what was found in a university restroom, in response to the disclosure of some tragic and terrible life experiences, written in a single stall.
That someone took the time out to thoughtfully respond is remarkable. Her words are inspiring – for anyone.
Take a look at the story, with an image of the actual note, here.
TED.com is a website that I became acquainted with through one of my teaching colleagues. According to the website:
“TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.
You can find talks about various topics, from education to religion to technology to entertainment…Lots of very intriguing speakers, some who are well-known, such as Al Gore, to less well-known people, who, in their talks, inspire us, teach us, persuade us, fascinate us…
I came across a new TED talk today that I felt I had to share. This talk was given by Tony Porter at the first TEDWomen conference held just this past month. Mr. Porter is the co-founder of A Call to Men, a non-profit organization “committed to ending violence against women.” In his presentation, he discusses the “Man Box,” and how living in the “Man Box” causes men to live in bondage to what some men think being a man is all about. He discusses how much of living in the “Man Box” leads to violence against women. Nonetheless, he concludes his talk with a profound statement of liberation that we all, men and women, must hear.
Below is the video of “Tony Porter: A Call to Men.” Play it for every man you know. But as a woman, I feel it is also a call to me – to further understand these issues so that I can understand that there are other men who are trying to break free of the “Man Box.” I need to understand these issues so that when my husband explains the “Man Box” to our daughter, that I will be able to understand right along with her.
I am the wife of a man who has long broken out of the “Man Box.” Nonetheless, let us all seek to understand the men in our lives to support them breaking out of their own “Man Box.”
My husband is a phenomenal man! He doesn’t settle for second best. He seeks to do everything with excellence. So when he told me he was updating his first book, Steppin’ Out of the Darkness, my first question is, “Why?” He replied, “I can do better.” So after many months of rewrites and revisions, my husband has now published and released his first hardcover book entitled Come Morning. You can view a description of the book on my husband’s blog, “When Least Expected.”
Come Morning is indeed a blessing to read. There is something for everyone in this book. It was easy for me to identify with different characters in the narrative. Oh, and there are surprises in the book as well. I remember reading and editing the revision for one chapter, and as I read, I suddenly laughed and said, “Wow, I wasn’t expecting that.” I won’t tell you what happened; you have to read it for yourself.
Take a look here to read what my husband has to say about the book. Then go to Amazon.com and order it! Keep a journal by your side as you read. As someone already reviewed, it “…will make you take a slow, deliberate & honest look at your mindset…” You’ll want to write the insights you make about yourself in your journal as you read.
My husband, Manchild, began writing Steppin’ Out Of The Darknessover ten years ago when he himself was experiencing what he refers to as “a series of sunny-side-down days.” He wrote this inspirational story about personal leadership for seasons such as this.
I was watching a news program this past week that told the story of a town in which working, middle class families had to resort to standing in line to get groceries. Not at Kroger or Ingles or Publix or any other neighborhood grocery story. No, standing in a food line. The story told of one woman who had to quit her job because her income did not cover the gas, child support, and essential expenses she needed in order to sustain herself and her children. As I watched, I thought to myself, “That could be us.” At one point, that was Manchild.
Foreclosures are at an all-time high. Many people took out mortgages they could not afford. Many people had good intentions, taking out risky mortgages believing that in 2, 3, or 5 years their circumstances would change for the better and they’d be able to refinance their loans. Yet, the real estate market crashed, and so did the hopes and dreams of far too many homeowners who are now experiencing the devastation of losing their homes. As I write this, even celebrities are at risk. Watching these stories almost daily, I think to myself, “That could be us.” At one point, that was Manchild.
Overall, the credit markets are in a shambles, and the constituency who is bearing the brunt of the desolation are not just American consumers, but consumers of goods throughout the world. The causes of our economic situation are many. This is not meant to be a political commentary, yet personally, I trace what appears to be a crash of the American economy on poor policies and practices instituted and condoned by our current President. Moreover, big oil companies are pocketing increasing profits as the pocket books of American consumers become more empty each day. Wall Street gets bailed out while small businesses throughout the country have to fold because the cost of doing business continues to rise. At one point, that was Manchild.
We all know that things must change. Circumstances can’t change for the better fast enough. Based on daily news reports, however, times will get worse before they get better.
But there is something we can do. In seasons such as this, we can choose either to focus on what Manchild refers to in Steppin’ Out Of The Darkness as “the giants from the valley of Circumstance” or we can focus on “the Giver of Gifts” who can lift us up above them. While daily news reports may be bad – more than just figuratively – we may be embarking on a time in which God is forcing us, as Manchild says, to “…unearth the ‘forgotten dreams’ buried beneath the ‘abandoned visions’ still cluttering the ‘valley of sun-dried bones.’” In other words, what dreams and visions about your own destiny have you abandoned because Adversity struck once, twice, ten, twenty, or fifty times in your life? Might this be a time when you may need to discover “the reasons why you…fear what follows seasons of Change”? Manchild did it…why not you?
Steppin’ Out Of The Darkness is “a message of encouragement for seasons such as this.” A season in which God may be forcing you to “face your fears” and allow the dreams and visions He placed within you to finally become birthed. And as you allow those dreams and visions to become born again, expect “the ‘Giver of Gifts’ to do the unexpected when leastexpected.” The world needs you to overcome your own fears and embrace Change as we all face our own “giants from the valley of Circumstance. Will you begin your journey today?
I remember when I first started blogging back in November 2006. It was fun. It was exciting. It was draining. It allowed me to uncover a writing voice I didn’t know existed. I have been grateful for the opportunities it has given me to get to know a few people out in the blogosphere that have given so much of themselves, people I’ve learned alot from.
Nonetheless, I experienced a block, and I neglected posting for a significant period of time. I thought about whether I had anything of any significance to say, and discovered that I really didn’t at the time. So instead of trying to post something of no value, I sort of disappeared. I sputtered a little here and there, attempting to make a comeback. But it just wasn’t there for me.
Part of me was dealing with the fact that I didn’t feel I had anything to say. But a large part of what I was doing was helping my husband get his book published. And while I posted back in December “It’s Here!” to celebrate his completion of the book, we experienced some production issues that took a minute to resolve.
Well, this time, it’s here!!! The book has been published and it has been released. Below is the new cover image:
Steppin’ Out Of The Darkness, “When Good People Become Great,” is an introspective, inspirational story about “personal leadership.” The premise is that it’s not what happens to you that matters most; it’s how you choose to respond after adversity strikes when life happens and after bad things begin to happen when least expected.
Moreover, Steppin’ Out Of The Darkness is a family friendly book containing lessons lived and learned by three generations of men.Not once did the author disclose the ethnicity of the characters in the story because he wanted each reader’s life experiences to color the faces of the characters.He did this to avoid forcing the characters to fit into a mold that may not apply to each person reading this literary legacy of faith, hope, and love. The book is 272 pages. It is only available through Generation Y™ Publishing, and you can purchase it through my husband’s blog, “When Least Expected.”
Well, I now have something to say. To celebrate, I have a new look for my blog (for those who were past readers here)! And what I’ve decided to do was write some reflections around Steppin’ Out Of The Darkness. To give you a little flavor before I get started in a couple of days:
“When life happens and the invisible fist of Adversity strikes, always expect the ‘Giver of Gifts’ to do the unexpected when least expected.“
To get a little flavor of the tasty nuggets my husband has cooked up in the past, take a look at his blog. Purchase the book. And let me know how you like (or don’t like) the new look of my site!!!
As many of you know, I teach high school – grades 9 and 12.As they often share with me different aspects of their lives, I am increasingly flabbergasted at the amount of time children spend online.I am actually floored that their way of making friends and interacting with those friends is no longer face to face, but through mediums such as Facebook and MySpace.I am amazed that young people feel a sense of loss when they don’t have access to these sources of relationships.I’m looking back at those last three sentences as I describe how I feel about this online world in which our children engage – flabbergasted, floored, amazed…
(Actually, I shouldn’t be all that amazed.Email has become a vital method of communication in our offices and businesses as well as between our families and friends.)
Maybe I’m overreacting.After all, our daughter will be four years old this spring, and naturally she is increasingly interested in computers, particularly in viewing videos online (since her daddy and I spend a lot of time at the computer).I often think about how we’ll navigate that world with her as she begins elementary school in less than two years.
I was recently made aware of a PBS Frontline program that will air tonight entitled “Growing Up Online,” where “Frontline Investigates The Risks, Realities And Misconceptions Of Teen Life On The Internet.”And lest you think that the only concern is encountering sexual predators online, this program will also discuss “cyber-bullying” and achieving “instant ‘Internet fame’.”
Here are a few quotes from the program’s press release:
“Jessica Hunter was a shy and awkward girl who struggled to make friends at school. Then, at age 14, she reinvented herself online as ‘Autumn Edows,’ an alternative goth artist and model who posted provocative photos of herself on the Web, and fast developed a cult following. ‘I just became this whole different person,’ Jessica tells FRONTLINE. ‘I didn’t feel like myself, but I liked the fact that I didn’t feel like myself. I felt like someone completely different. I felt like I was famous.’”
Through social networking sites, kids with eating disorders share tips about staying thin, and depressed kids can share information about the best ways to commit suicide.”
John Halligan’s son was cyberbullied for months—first at school, then online—before he ultimately hanged himself just weeks into the start of eighth grade.”
Whether we’re parents, grandparents, teachers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, or mentors of young people, this should be of interest to all of us. What do you think? Are our children growing up too fast in this online world? What should be done about it? And do you plan to watch the program? (Note: the program will re-air several times and also appear online – according to pbs.org.)
Summer is my favorite time of the year. Being from the upper Midwest and hating the cold, I look forward to the hot weather we enjoy in the South. And while the heat remains (though not as intense), Labor Day has come and gone – which is usually the point when it’s time to think about the fall. In fact, as we were driving through our neighborhood a few days ago, I noticed leaves of color had fallen on the ground. I was a little disappointed.
Yet real disappointment is no longer (at least right now) a tool in my repetoire. This past summer was a time of renewal for me. I had to “open wide” and face myself, what I had been, what I had become. I had to come face to face with a person I didn’t particularly like all that much. And I had to face myself and say, “This is not who you are, nor is it who you want to be.”
And so, as I mentioned in a previous post, I read a book entitled When Your Past Is Hurting Your Present. That was the beginning of, and fundamental to, my change. Through my readings, I really, in my heart of hearts, realized how my reactions to circumstances was really bringing me down. I realized how not getting control over my emotions was hindering my life. I spent about a month with that book. It’s a great one. Christian-oriented, and I highly recommend it for anyone.
But what really did it for me was The Courage To Teach by Parker Palmer. Oh, such a fabulous book (and not just for teachers)! I actually purchased it when I started teaching seven years ago. I don’t recall reading it, even though I’d highlighted it almost all the way through. Yet I must not have gotten it. If I had gotten it, I wouldn’t have had the year from hell I had last year. But I read it again. Here are a few quotes that impacted me greatly:
“As I teach, I project the condition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and our way of being together…teaching holds a mirror to the soul.”
“…the most practical thing we can achieve in any kind of work is insight into what is happening inside us as we do it. The more familiar we are with our inner terrain, the more surefooted our teaching – and living – becomes.”
“…the self is not a scrap of turf to be defended but a capacity to be enlarged.”
“‘Be not afraid’ does not say that we should not have fears – and if it did, we could dismiss it as an impossible counsel of perfection. Instead, it says that we do not need to be our fears, quite a different proposition…I need not teach from a fearful place: I can teach from curiosity or hope or empathy or honesty…I can have fear, but I need not be fear – if I am willing to stand someplace else in my inner landscape.”
If I could sum what I learned from this book, in a nutshell, it is that I don’t have to be afraid of my fears. I don’t have to rid myself of my fears. I can recognize my fears, understand my fears, learn to identify when they rear their heads (notice I didn’t say ugly heads), and enter a different place within and come out through those other places within myself. And I can not only teach, but I can be, out of those other places. It was so liberating for me to know I don’t have to rid myself of my fears. Not only is the effort draining, but the claim that I am not afraid of whatever, someday, would not be the truth.
But if that weren’t enough, I finished the summer reading Let Your Life Speak, also by Parker Palmer. In it, he talks of listening to yourself to determine your vocation, your calling. He speaks of living the life you were intended to live. Here are a couple more quotes:
“Each of us arrives here with a nature, which means both limits and potentials. We can learn as much about our nature by running into our limits as by experiencing our potentials.”
“We will become better teachers not by trying to fill the potholes in our souls but by knowing them so well that we can avoid falling into them.”
If you are experiencing depression, this seems to be a great book, as Parker Palmer discusses his dark nights of the soul and how he emerged from them. I found the narrative of his journey to be real and authentic (like I’m supposed to judge – how crazy!).
On top of that, I also began and continue to read Stephen Covey’s books. All of these readings, sources of wisdom, have taken me to another place in my spiritual and emotional life. And I’m so grateful. I’m more peaceful. I’m more playful (ask my husband). I don’t react to circumstances and situations with the same lack of care I did before. I’m by no means where I ought to be. Yet, I see the incredible potential of my life, my calling, my relationships as being so great. And I’m experiencing some of that greatness now. Because I made a choice to open wide and say “ah-h-h-h.”
I’ve been absent for a bit attempting to figure out what I’m doing and where I’m going. I am understanding that I’m allowing my past to hinder my present.
I’m reading a few books now, including Women Who Run With the Wolves. One that I picked up again (and vow that I will complete next month) is entitled When Your Past Is Hurting Your Present. In it, Sue Augustine begins her first chapter with a quote from an unknown author stating,
“It is not the experience of today that drives us mad; it is the remorse or bitterness for something which happened yesterday.”
I’ve been dealing with much remorse and bitterness for probably half my life, angry for being used and abused, rejected and abandoned. Interestingly, though, it’s amazing that I could go on for so many years being ignorant of the fact that I was bitter and angry. Yet, until my husband strongly suggested to me I was angry, I didn’t begin to have a clue.
Nonetheless, it’s been a long journey. I get bits and pieces of revelation as I go along. And I recently realized that I’d lost hope. I wasn’t very optimistic about the future. I didn’t really have grand expectations. I wasn’t joyfully anticipating good things to come. In fact, I was really just plodding along. And this type of living, I’ve decided, is not for me.
American author and playwright Jean Kerr once said,
“Hope is the feeling you have that the feeling you have isn’t permanent.“
Oh, how this resonated with me! So for those who might be experiencing feelings of hopelessness, know that it’s not over! There’s more on the other side. In fact…
‘Tis better to hope, though clouds hang low,
And keep the eyes uplifted;
For the sweet blue sky will soon peep through,
When the ominous clouds are lifted.
There never was a night without a day
Or an evening without a morning,
And the darkest hour, as the proverb goes,
Is the hour before the dawning.
To all the fathers out there, today’s your day! It is a day where your children cook you breakfast in bed, for a change. It is a day where your children reflect how wonderful and beautiful an influence you have been in their lives. It is a day when we all think about the sacrifices our fathers have made for us.
Yet, I know Father’s Day is not always a joyful time for some. For some, it is a time to try to forget, because daddy was abusive to you. It is a time to forget because daddy didn’t pay attention to you. It is a time to forget because daddy didn’t teach you how you should be treated by men. It is a time to forget because daddy abandoned you. It is a time to forget because daddy just let it all happen to you.
If this is you, I understand, at least a little bit. My father didn’t teach me the things fathers should teach their little girls. My father didn’t teach me what I should look for in boys. He didn’t teach me that I shouldn’t allow myself to be treated a certain way. When it came to relationships, I was on my own. More than that, he looked the other way.
Yet, I can’t blame him. What I know is he did the best he could with what he had. He didn’t know his primary job was to teach his children how to become responsible adults. He didn’t know he was supposed to teach me that men are supposed to honor me. He didn’t teach his son how to be a man.
I did the best I could to fend for myself. But emotionally, I became a basketcase.
Nevertheless, I love my father. He’s not perfect, but he’s my daddy. He’s always been my daddy, and he will always be my daddy. No matter what. And I sent him a card letting him know just that. That I appreciate all he did, and still does, for me. I can’t blame him for what happened to me emotionally – I myself made some bad choices. And while I don’t blame him, I forgive him.
I’m thankful for my husband, Manchild, who is the most thoughtful daddy I’ve ever seen (not that there aren’t others out there; I just know about this one quite well). He is intent on teaching our daughter right from wrong. He is intent on teaching our daughter how valuable she is. He is intent on teaching our daughter how men should treat her by how he treats her. In fact, her daddy is a wonderful model of what she will hopefully look for in a man as she grows up and matures.
Fathers are so incredibly important to the healthy development of their children. In my mind, they can make or break their emotional and spiritual growth. So to all the fathers out there, understand the role you play in your children’s lives. Listen to their cries – audible or not. Listen to their shouts of victory. Listen to their moments of defeat. Be there in their moments of fear. Reach out and establish boundaries for them. Be ever present in their lives. You have a power and influence mothers were not designed to have. Because…
Fathers are Wonderful People
Fathers are wonderful people
Too little understood,
And we do not sing their praises
As often as we should…
For, somehow, Father seems to be
The man who pays the bills,
While Mother binds up little hurts
And nurses all our ills…
And Father struggles daily
To live up to “HIS IMAGE”
As protector and provider
And “hero or the scrimmage”…
And perhaps that is the reason
We sometimes get the notion,
That Fathers are not subject
To the thing we call emotion,
But if you look inside Dad’s heart,
Where no one else can see
You’ll find he’s sentimental
And as “soft” as he can be…
But he’s so busy every day
In the grueling race of life,
He leaves the sentimental stuff
To his partner and his wife…
But Fathers are just WONDERFUL
In a million different ways,
And they merit loving compliments
And accolade of praise,
For the only reason Dad aspires
To fortune and success
Is to make the family proud of him
And to bring them happiness…
And like OUR HEAVENLY FATHER,
He’s a guardian and a guide,
Someone that we can count on
To be ALWAYS ON OUR SIDE. Helen Steiner Rice