Trusting Joy.

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This post isn’t really Yankee but wanted to share a tiny, brief moment of brilliance with you. 😉

In her book Daring Greatly, Dr. Brene Brown wrote something that greatly challenges me when life is good.

She writes that I won’t trust it. I won’t trust joy.

In her decade long research study on vulnerability she found that when things were going well and people were joyful,

instead of marinating in the moment, they distrusted.

They freaked out. In short, they experienced a “dread” that interferes with leaning in and celebrating the joyful event, person, or circumstance.

It’s the moments where you watch your child(ren) sleep and while your heart is overwhelmed with their (now quiet) presence in the world, the thought comes, “What if something happens to them?

It’s the car you finally have money for and as you drive off the lot think “What if I wreck it?”

It’s the new job, mended friendship, flawless day, or perfect moment where everyone did chores and the house is clean and you think, “Well, this won’t last.

It won’t last, so I can’t trust joy.

So we erase it. Minimize it. Forget that we found and did have that moment, time, circumstance of peace, joy, happiness… you name it really. We don’t trust it so we stop it.

What’s our choice? How could we stand it to lose what brought us such hope? (Because it really will NOT last and THEN what?)

Let me share what I’m learning on the other side of “then what”…

Our family bought a house three years ago on 2 acres of land. As a city girl, I signed my name on the house not because of anything but the trees that soared 150 feet. I imagined – and then faithfully did – have coffee on our back deck every morning. I went out amidst them when there was conflict in the family. Tall, mystical, and glorious, they often pointed me heavenward when my eyes were too much on my toes. In fact, no one who ever visited us looked down when they looked at these trees.

Five weeks ago a freak storm came and blew down 15 of these trees, which is to say, nearly all of the mature poplar, oak, birch and “hardwoods” we had. The next morning  I literally watched a squirrel run up a tree whose top half was ripped off only to get to the top, stop and go back down. His nest was no longer there. My trees were gone.

As anti-treehugger as I am, I did the only thing I knew to do. Sit next to one that was laying on our deck, put my hand on the top part that never felt a human and say, ‘Thank you. Every day you were here you did your work for me. I don’t understand this, but I want to be here in acceptance and say ‘okay.'”

So, what do we do to trust joy?

Lean in, very hard. Soak up everything it has to give us precisely because it won’t last – but it’s HERE NOW.

Lean in because as we do, we will change into people who believe the good does come, the blessings DO happen.

Lean in with all our heart because when we do, we soak it in, and we become joyful. We become grateful. We become celebrators of the joy. We teach others to lean in to their good, their miracles, their lives.

Most importantly, when the joy leaves, the mark of gratitude is etched in our souls.

We can hold space for the joy that was and not deny it’s brilliance. Cry over it’s loss. And open-handedly accept the present.

This is the way to teach our kids to lean in to life, by example of the fleeting, the lost, the changing, the present.

All this because we chose to trust joy.

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On August 2, this post was part of a blog tour to celebrate : The Declaration of You, published North Light Craft Books and available now, gives readers all the permission they’ve craved to step passionately into their lives, discover how they and their gifts are unique and uncover what they are meant to do! This post is part of The Declaration of You’s Blog Lovin’ Tour, which I’m thrilled to participate in alongside over 200 other creative bloggers. Learn more – and join us! – by clicking here.

Greetings (i.e. to Kiss or not to Kiss)

Banjo    We take greetings for granted, but they are very cultural.

For example, this is my ten-year-old dog, Banjo. Every single morning, this is how he greets me, after my alarm goes off (first 5 seconds of, “If I Ruled the World” by Big Time Rush. But I digress.)

He doesn’t jump on the bed (although he has tried).

He doesn’t ignore me (although I would appreciate it).

He understands that I don’t like mornings and I don’t like to be hounded. 😉

He will absolutely not go outside until I rub him for a few minutes. Physical touch is a point of connection. Then it’s on to business.

Same with Southerners. Same with Yankees. But there are rules for each.

SOUTHERNER RULES:

(Before I go on, this will seem like I’m kidding, but if you look, it’s the daggum truth. If it’s not the truth, chime in below and tell me what you see in your experience! )

Women greeting women for the first time – Smile, and nod, maybe someone will extend their hand, maybe not.

Women greeting women for the second time and on – Smile, nod, handshake.

Men and women greeting for the first time – Men wait to see if the woman reaches her hand out first and then he will. Men under the age of 35 might reach out first. There would never ever be under any circumstances a hug or physical contact.

Men and women greeting after the first time – Smile, nod, possible handshake. Normally, there is no hug. I have male friends for over 10 years and we will hug hello and goodbye but it’s not a hug, hug. It’s a meet at an angle, shoulder hug, no boobs involved point of contact.

Family greeting close friends or family – hug, no kiss, no boobs.

YANKEE RULES

Women greeting women for the first time – total handshake for sure. Not really a kiss unless they moved down here in the past two years and are glad to know I’m “in their camp.”

Women greeting women past the first time – handshake and possible kiss on one cheek.

Men greeting women for the first time – Men will reach out first, but often the women are also reaching out. Eye contact is a MUST. Solid handshake a MUST. As in, you could lose respect, business, or a new friend if you give a fishy shake. Growing up, I was told it was sign of a weak character. Needless to say, I refrain from breaking fingers, but I have heard knuckles crack.

Men greeting women after the first time – Handshake, with either party initiating and a kiss on the cheek.

FAUX PAS TO AVOID- I have had Southern men who had some knowledge of Yankee land or  knew I was from the Northeast, reach out to shake my hand, pull me in, kiss my cheek and leave a wet mark of whisky or worse, moonshine.

Um. No. Ew.

Let me say. This is a very mutual, meeting in the middle, no one pulling anyone in, kiss nearly in the air. There is a finesse. It deserves to be practiced. Because there is nothing better than being in the south and getting or giving an authentic Yankee greeting.

No, I’m not giving lessons. Banjo, however, might oblige.

Thoughts? Am I close?

My Newspaper Man

My Paper Man

My son hasn’t taken the school bus to get to school. Ever. There’s a wide variety of reasons for that, most legitimate, some not. At some point, I got addicted to the gifts  in driving 180 days every year for the past 10 years. 1800 days (rounded to the nearest hundred). There have been more positives than I could imagine. Here’s one of them.

In August Jordan began high school. I had to master a new 30 minute commute  to a new high school. (yes, I rock.)  After surviving downtown traffic, the road opened up to 8 lanes – and a paper man balanced himself and his stack of morning papers in the middle esplanade.

Earphones in, he swayed to music and rhythmically pointed to every single passing car. He looked at every driver. It wasn’t a mindless dance. It was intentional. He’s blessing every car. I thought. I have NEVER had a paper man before. Ever. I was halfway between stunned that one will now be a part of my mornings and stunned that I couldn’t figure out how to get to him. I just started pointing back to him.

It took me about a week to figure out how to navigate all the traffic, lights, and lanes. Finally, I pretended I was in 8am,  I-95 traffic in downtown New Haven, CT and within a day, I bought a paper. I do this every Friday.

Every Friday we have the same interchange.

“Good Morning Miss!”

“One paper please” and I smile because he has no idea how glad I am he’s there.

I give him the money and he says every time, “You keep that pretty smile and have a blessed day!”

“You too sir!”

And I drive off- unless there’s a red light. Then he tells me the highlights, “Coupons in this one.” Or “Information on the circus on page 4”. One day he told me his name is Gregory and allowed me to take a photo of him.

 Gregory

                   Since August, I have been blessed not because he points at my car. Not because I point back  (although some days, it’s good to remember someone had my back for unselfish good in the beginning of the day).

I’m blessed because he’s there.

His presence remains a monument to stability, community and spirit.

From my second post until now, you know that the one thing I absolutely never take for granted is paper men. Especially when there is one every morning on my route.

Snow Prep – North vs. South

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This first photo is a nod to all my Yankee friends who are prepping for “Nemo” the huge blizzard hitting the Northeast today.

This photo  is how I prepped for a Southern “snowstorm” 3 weeks ago that left us with .5 inches.

What’s pathetic is not that I hit the donut aisle in the gas station (that’s where the DD’s are here, not their own fancy buildings except for one -30 min. away). What’s pathetic is at the end of January, they still have Xmas boxes because they didn’t sell enough donuts to change the box.

Okay. I’ll be honest. What’s really pathetic is that I filled the box with a double layer. I endured the stares of people trying to pay for gas and get cigarettes, the smirky laughter of the man behind the register as if he’s never sold 24 DD donuts before.

Forget them all. All they have is bread and milk. For what?  Peanut butter and jelly or french toast? Not us. We go all the way, baby!

We built a nice fire, had a great dinner with friends, and left the box open the rest of the evening… made it through breakfast and just like the snow that fell, nothing left by 10am.

Remembering Sandy Hook, CT in NC

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Around 9:45, I watched a friend’s Facebook status update read, “Elementary school is in lockdown, what’s going on?”

Then the trickle of comments, “Just got a text, our school is in lockdown too.”

Then the words “shooting” that no one believed until 11:00am.

And everything unraveled.

Parent’s lives permanently blasted through with holes as unforgiving as gunshots.

Communities altered forever. Evil won.

To me, the holiday no longer mattered on some level. Who even cared anymore?

Although I didn’t know anyone personally who was affected, many of my friends live in the surrounding community and supported each other online.

From the news, to the Facebook posts, to the arguments on gun control, Christmas at our house could have been  easily overshadowed this year.

I was already unusually late getting the tree and decorations up.

By Sunday, the 16th, I decided, I needed Christmas back.

So I went to the local Methodist church. A deeply Southern, gothic cathedral where the 15 foot stained glass windows recalled names of founding Southern fathers and mothers from the 1800’s. Some attendees still have people over for roast at night, and live on the land their great- great grandaddy farmed. Their celebration of Christmas had no rival on tradition. I knew the choir would sing from Handel’s Messiah, greens and candles lavished around the pews, and the Moravian star would be hanging. That was going to be my respite from the news.

But I was wrong.

The pastor began with modifications in the program, “In light of the Sandy Hook tragedy in Connecticut, we will not be singing ‘Angels We Have Heard On High’ and instead sing Hymn 214, “Savior of the Nations Come.” The music ached with pungent dissonance and conflicting tones.

When we came to the “Prayers for the People ” section, the pastor prayed for the Sandy Hook victims, families, relatives, community. For healing. For love.

We skipped the planned “Word in Song” from Handel’s Messiah where the words begin “For Behold, Darkness shall cover the earth” to be replaced by “The Light.”

The sermon addressed evil, and light, and God entering into the world while not yet eradicating evil, leaving a mark and glow that we couldn’t yet see in Connecticut, but promised we would. There are no satisfying sermons, but he squarely connected tragedy and Christmas. And that we would be living with both this year.

It ended with a Prayer of Dedication that we “go as God’s people into the world”.  First and second grade girls led the massive choir down the long gothic aisle, and as every year, the choir encircled the church and sang “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”

And I looked again at the photo on the bulletin and realized the angels were singing… because they had 26 more voices added to them and here they were on the bulletin, chosen earlier in a week that held tragedy.

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Summer Road Trip Momento

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During our summer jaunt to help my grandmother reconnect with her hometown, we made several pit stops. It was our serendipitous fortune to find the Whetstone Station Restaurant and Brewery in Brattleboro, VT. The locally  inspired cuisine was only rivaled by the Yankee spirit offered by this sign in the bathrooms of this culinary establishment. It still remains refreshment to my little Yankee heart living in Dixie.

The Lottery and The South

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I bought lottery tickets. It’s not something most talk about down South. It’s not something people own up to. It’s seen in the Bible belt as “gambling.” I once heard a pastor say that it’s not Godly to play the lottery, but it is to pray for your friends or family to win….

Apparently,  I grew up in a “gambling” family. Grandpa would walk down to the corner store, buy a lottery ticket and lose. Sometimes he’d win and cover his losses.  To my ten year old senses, it just something like a game at a carnival where you give money and hope to win something – isn’t that gambling?

Today, I was in line at the local gas station holding my Powerball sheet.  A white haired woman in her late 60’s notices and asks, “How do you do that? I mean, how do you play that? I’ve always wondered.”

Realizing, this is going to go one way or another, I answer her… forgetting my half Yankee accent. I finish off, “…or you can let the computer choose it for you.”

“Oh, I just couldn’t do it,” she shakes her head and I brace for a lecture. “No one from the South ever wins.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Well then it’s high time, isn’t it?” and I smile. Because I feel I have even better odds. My status of “Southern” is always up for debate.

Besides, as I walked away, it didn’t make sense to me. This is the Bible belt after all. Can’t God let SOMEONE from the South win?

And then I realize something even more obvious. We have our own NC lottery and someone from the south always wins.

Either way, the only thing worse than 1 in a bajillion chances is zero.

Grandpa would be proud….

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