One Word 2017: Inspire

One Word 2017: Inspire

 

For most of my life, the word “inspire” was almost a dirty word. Maybe not so much dirty as much as an often condescending word used to describe a person with a disability simply because they function in most ways like a “normal” person.

The truth is, the idea behind “inspire” is beautiful. Here is the dictionary definition:

 

Take a look at those synonyms! They could be both positive or negative; it’s all in how you approach it.  Read More

A different take on the idea of harvest

womenblogger-main_400x400I recently had the honor of guest posting on the Arkansas Women Bloggers site. Each month, we have a different theme and for October, the theme is “harvest.” I chose to talk about harvesting leaders and community.

 

Here is an excerpt:

“Let’s look at this idea of “harvest” from a different angle. We grow more than fruit, vegetables and grains, right? Let’s talk about how we grow and “harvest” both leaders and a community. In my opinion and experience, harvesting leaders and community go hand-in-hand and hold similar ideas.

The key to developing both community and leaders is the idea of investing in people. Sometimes this investment means money, but money is a means to an end. Investing also means believing in, focusing on, and developing individuals.

First, I will share my own story of investing in people then challenge all of us to find what this idea of harvesting leaders and community means for each of us.”

Read more at the Arkansas Women Bloggers blog.

Let’s listen to each other

Let’s listen to each other

listening

 

A friend of mine recently started a discussion on her Facebook page that asked what the solutions are to what feels like a growing number of unarmed black men being killed in interactions with law enforcement. She asked if hiring more black police officers would help. The discussion was interesting and for the most part, civil. She’s great at fostering those types of discussions!

It is a question that I’ve pondered for more than a year. What will solve the problem? The thing is, I don’t think a problem this multi-faceted can be solved with a simple answer. I tried to write a few paragraphs in response but it turned into well, what you are reading now. I decided something this long was too much to load on someone’s Facebook page so I’m taking my thoughts to Jamie’s Thots.

The first several versions of this blog were more than 1,000 words. I ranted and raged about preconceived notions clouding our judgement of each other. I lamented how wrong and sad all this is. But you know what? I scrapped most of it.

The thing is, I think many people logically know that not all cops are prejudiced and not all black people are somehow dangerous. We know that in our heads, but fear and preconceived notions are rarely, if ever, logical. We react based on our perceptions and personal realities. It’s easy to say that we just have to remember all this in the heat of the moment. I think the work needs to happen well before then.

I’d be interested to learn from communities that, overall, are doing things right. What actions have the black community and the police community done to better understand each other? And, let me be blunt, what has the white community in those cities done to help foster this discussion and understanding?

White friends and family members, it’s people from our part of society and who look like us who started the prejudice and who created systems that would benefit white people. I agree that not all things labeled as racist actually deserve that label. But to deny that our systems were not originally set up to benefit white people is simply foolish and contradicts all that we know about history.  It’s up to us to figure out what those issues are and change them.

I’m also going to be equally blunt about known issues in some segments of the black community, which are the statistics so many white people like to bring up that show the high level of black-on-black crime. We must all believe and act on the belief that black lives matter. That means valuing yourselves within your own community. I know that as a white person, I can’t really do a whole lot about that. It’s not my place to tell you what to do. My responsibility is to focus on what I can do, which is to speak for justice, equality and change. I’m not going to wait to love people until the circumstances are perfect.

Back to the idea of how we can do actual work to make things better. We need to talk to each other. Forget the hashtags. Forget the narratives we’re told to believe by various sources. Let’s listen to individuals. We each have a voice in this. We can each make a difference. We won’t solve anything soon, but it’s a start.

That means we have to seek out people who are different from ourselves. We need to hear their truth, their perceptions, and their realities. Without trying to find ways to discredit what we hear with statistics and pseudo-empathy. We’re going to make each other mad. We’re going to push buttons. We’re going to feel negative things.

Let’s listen anyways.

 

Celebrating National Women’s Friendship Day with #NWARKCares

Celebrating National Women’s Friendship Day with #NWARKCares

Two lonely-eyed boys in a pick-up truck
And they’re drivin’ through the rain and the heat
And their skin’s so sweaty they both get stuck
To the old black vinyl seats
And it’s Abbott and Costello meet Paul and Silas
It’s the two of us together and we’re puttin’ on the mileage

And we both feel lost
But I remember what Susan said
How love is found in the things we’ve given up
More than in the things that we have kept
And ain’t it funny what people say
And ain’t it funny what people write
And ain’t it funny how it hits you so hard
In the middle of the night
And if your home is just another place where you’re a stranger
And far away is just somewhere you’ve never been
I hope that you’ll remember, I was your friend.

Those lyrics may seem like a strange way to start out a blog celebrating National Women’s Friendship Day but to me, they’re appropriate. These lyrics are from the song What Susan Said by Rich Mullins. I don’t talk about this much, but Rich was a family friend when I was growing up. While the lyrics are talking about Rich and his closest friend, it’s something I always think of when I think of true friendship.
It represents being loyal through the best and worst parts of life. It represents being that safe place even when the rest of the world around you (or in you) is in turmoil.

So, what is friendship? I know some people who won’t use the word friend unless it’s a close relationship. I know others who will call anyone friend just because they’ve met them. I choose to be in the middle of those two positions. I call many people friends, and even some I call close friend. But there are a select few who earn the title “true friend.” A true friend is someone who celebrates who you are, shares your values, and is someone who lovingly kicks your butt when it needs kicking. A true friend is someone you can tell pretty much anything to and know it will never leave that conversation.

I have many friends. I have a good number of close friends but can only think of only a few true friends throughout my life. At times, I’ve found this truth painfully lonely. Deeply lonely. But I choose now to call it a blessing because I cherish those few true friends so much more.

In recent years, I’ve come to appreciate the meaning of the word “tribe” and its modern usage. Finding one’s tribe means finding people who “get” you. People from whom you draw strength. People to whom you provide strength. I have what I call my tribes and my inner tribes. Kind of like close friend and true friend. This isn’t cliquish, this is called boundaries.

It’s partially through these tribes that I’ve found my life calling, which is to help people, especially women, discover who they truly are and what that can mean for their life. Read More