I took Hazel on a walk in the early morning last week. Usually, we go midday when people are out and things are busy so there's no option of letting her loose. But my running partner (mama) is out of town, so on a lonely gym day I decided to give Hazel a walk before the day got too hot. She loved it and so did I. Especially when we go to the hill by our house and it seemed the perfect time to let her off her leash.
She's a great walker always pinned to my left side, so I was excited to see her go, let her run a bit. I unclipped her pink lead and told her to go wild. She stood, stared, still. You're free, I encouraged. Go find something girl. Three steps and she was back at my side, tight against my thigh. She didn't understand how free she could go and be.
It made me think of us. How we're free -free to be career women, to be moms, to be brave, to do wild things- and yet, we're stunned, still, scared to break out of the six foot circle we've come to call habit. I imagine God like me, You're free. So damn free. And we stare.
This is a public service reminder: YOU ARE FREE.
Free from ifs, ands, buts, ors. Free from labels and boxes and all the other things. Free to be you, to be a doctor or teacher or the country's next president. Free to sit or to move, to eat or to feed.
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Before I graduated from high school my parents extended my curfew to midnight. I loved the extra taste of freedom, but my favorite part was coming home in the dark and seeing a soft blue glow from my bedroom. I knew I'd park my car, let myself in, and walk upstairs to a room with the bed turned down under my custom neon light.
For my sixteenth birthday my parents gifted me a neon light -a la a restaurant's OPEN sign. It said Just Ducky in soft yellow letters and was framed in a halo of blue. A light that reminded me of the baby we'd lost before my brother was placed, a light that said blessed despite the mess, a light that gave my room a heavenly soft glow welcomed me on those late nights.
That small act performed with unwavering consistency is my childhood. The kindness and care wrapped in a night time routine that included me -despite my absence- always sang a lullaby of love over me. I'd change into my pajamas, wash off my make-up, and curl into bed under the light of that Just Ducky sign.
This is a public service reminder: Small acts make big impressions.
Nevermind that we're hanging that same sign in the nursery. What an honor it will be to feed a baby under the same blessed blue lights.
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Flipping on the news is scary. Scrolling through Facebook news is heart-breaking. Open any search page and the heaviness that's there is pain-making. Being alive is hard work. Being alive and watching people die is enough to break our spirits. Being alive and knowing injustice is unfolding all over the world can bring us to a hopeless standstill. And yet, there's no stopping in our future.
Current events are scary. July was an ugly month for news. It was a month that split open, shattered, and covered us in weariness. Suddenly, we were all tired, afraid, and laying in the shadows beside our fellow man. I found myself walking into stores, movie theaters, restaurants and thinking of the possibility of tragedy. I checked out the exits, wondered how it'd unfold, and on. But then someone would smile. They'd hold the bathroom door and smile in a warm kind of way.
And I'd remember: not everyone is bad. In fact, most people are good.
This is a public service reminder: You are the difference in the days of others.
You don't need me to remind you, but people are carrying hard, heavy things. Let's lighten the load with simple moments of real kindness.