Monday, September 29, 2014

A Baby Blessing

We received the sweetest book from our Aunt Mary when Lilah Grace was born, and we read it to her often. I absolutely love the words, and the timeless images. I wanted to share these words, with credit given to Welleran Poltarnees, as the words are not mine. They are so perfectly expressed, I just want to share them with the world. I find that reading this book while holding my baby give me more peace than I've ever known. It's a wonderful prayer!

((The only change I have made is "it" to "her," as the book is gender-neutral.))

I here bless this baby, newly arrived, wishing for her all the good things I here invoke, and others beyond my imaginings. 

May the spirits of grace attend her coming, and may angels guide her flowering.

Let this child be held and warmed, made secure in this strange new world.

When this baby first opens her eyes, may the face she first looks upon be filled with love.

I pray that she be welcomed by many, loved by many, and known by a myriad of private and gentle names.

When this baby looks beyond the faces of her family, let her look upon a room where beauty reigns. Let there be shapely toys waiting to be touched into life, and a window with a view of the world outside.

I wish for this child to know early in life the hugeness of trees, the cold kiss of snowflakes, and the softness of rain.


May this small life be made rich with music. Let there be songs on waking, happy songs at play, and gentle songs at night.

Let this baby's sleep be peaceful, and may she sail back each morning filled with the memory of sweet dreams.

May play fill this young life as she blossoms, so that she may come to enjoy solitude as much as shared joy.

I hope that there are many animal companions, each teaching gentleness, playfulness, and kinship.

May this young body grow fully, move freely, breathe deeply, and see clearly.

I hope as this baby grows into childhood, that those she meets praise her freely, encouraging her fragile mystery to bloom into radiant self.

When this child grows up and has children of her own, let her never forget what it was like to be first alive and richly welcomed.

Let all those who share in this baby's growing learn from her laughter and joy.

I love you Lilah Grace. This is my prayer for you!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Security and Freedom...a spectrum.

I spread out a photo quilt that I made G years ago ((what seems like a lifetime ago, when we were just dating, long-distance...). I stretch my body out into a giant "X"...gaze up at the sky... and fill my lungs.

Inhale, Exhale.

Of course, I get distracted...the barking dogs...the needy kitty cat begging to be pet...and never mind my racing mind...each thought, I turned into an image and project that image onto a cloud...then watch it float by....
...finally, I hit the transcendental meditative state.

These moments are few and far between, but when they occur, I feel I have experienced Heaven, or Nirvana, while in this physical body. It is unexplainable, and only relatable to those who have also done it. And when I talk about it with those people, I instantly feel a deep bond, because I know we're vibrating on the same frequency.


Most of the time, when I have an "aha moment" or an epiphany, it is because I read something, or heard something that changed my way of thinking. Most recently, however, the epiphany has felt so authentic, and originated without a precursor. I believe this is a message from God//Spirit//Intuition, vocabulary doesn't matter. The message is original and Divine, and I'm hoping it resonates with other people...

There is an ever-present spectrum of security and freedom, and we choose at any given time where we want to be.

Floating in the middle, for me, is a very peaceful place.

When I was in High School, I was very active in FCA and Young Life. I was your typical Texas Christian. I believed "Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior" because that meant I was going to heaven. I had SECURITY in my religion.

But that religion came with dogma, and rules. And like any club with exclusivity, to be "included" meant somebody had to be "on the outside." Whether it's a sorority making cuts in who they select for the pledge class, or a college choosing applicants and not just accepting everybody, I realized that traditional Christianity was a club that opened the door to any willing person, but once you were in, you were aware of who as "out." There were rules that I was self-righteously abiding by, and believing in, but none the less, this mentality came with very little life freedom.

While in college, I found my own spirituality, and felt very free. I didn't believe that a hypothetical God would create the Universe, and create gay people, only to combat homosexuality. I didn't believe God would cure some people of diseases, but not others. I started to see the world through a much more Universal lens. As my beliefs of God and Heaven began to disintegrate ((or evolve, to be more positive)), I must be honest that I felt a lack of security. It was nerve-wracking thinking that the Heaven I had pictured myself going to might be a little different...if there was even such thing as Heaven, at all!

When I make time to meditate and spend time with Spirit, I feel peace, and I feel myself floating in the middle of this freedom//security spectrum.  I feel God, and I feel that I am a part of God. I am free to believe and experience God in my own way, but I feel the security that there is a Force larger than me, and larger than this life.

A few weeks ago, my "aha moment" went even deeper...

I realized my dad has always given me the perfect combination of freedom and security. And then I realized, George has too. And I realized how important it is for me to parent and nurture my daughter in the middle of this spectrum.

For example,

  • My dad encouraged me to try new things in take that roadtrip I was on the fence about, and to invite my professor over for dinner. Enjoy the experiences. And I knew, just like in the song he wrote out for me, he would be my steady ground when I came back home.

  • My husband is happy for me on my days off. My "mental health days," hehe. Days like today, when I have the nanny, but have the day off, and I can take my time at the grocery store, meditate, enjoy a yoga class, blog...just have some "me time." He doesn't hold it against me that I get these days, and he is at work. He also is the least jealous person in the world. He is trusting of me, and allows me a lot of space to grow into my own identity. He also works every day, and puts this roof above my head. And we enjoy a lot of daily routines together, providing me with the sense of security I so desperately need.

  • I want to allow Lilah Grace to form her own opinions and thoughts, and become her own person. I don't want a "mini me." Of course, seeing her nose scrunch while she gives out a hearty laugh makes my heart soar, knowing this is a Lindsay-ism. But I want her to have her own favorite color ((which I think is purple these days)). I want her to have her own favorite shows, books, and political views. I want her to be free in her pursuit of self, but I also insist on building a strong foundation, grounding her, and blessing her with security that only comes from a strong family. I want her to know I will always be here for her, whether she is proud or ashamed. Whether she is ahead of the curve or behind, and whether she perceives things like I do or not...I want her to know I respect her, and I respect her right to be here. I recited to her just today, on the way to the nanny, one of my favorite life mantras from Desiderata...
"You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here."

Yesterday, our little angel threw the biggest fit I've ever seen. It was so alarming, I wondered if she was physically ill. Multiple times, I brought her in close to me, and asked her calmly what was upsetting her? And could she "use her words" to tell mama what was frustrating her? She wanted nothing to do with me. She flailed on the floor, kicked her legs, screamed, and arched her back. Her limbs looked discolored from the lack of bloodflow. It was frightening. I told her that we each needed some alone time, and placed her in the crib. She was livid. Fortunately, the fit passed. I'm not sure if I handled it "perfectly," but I think I got a bigger life lesson, which is I'm not always going to know what to do. I will always try to be patient and loving, and if I know that is wearing out, I will separate myself ((knowing she is safe, of course, from physical harm!)).

I'm kind of nervous for the "terrible twos" as she is only 16 months right now!

I digress...

...I am grateful for the Lord//God//Universe giving me ample freedom and comfortable security. I'm grateful to the leading men in my life for modeling the same way of loving, despite not articulating it until now. And, I hope to provide the same structure for my daughter. If we had no security, we would be free...and likely, anxious. If we had no freedom, we would be secure...and likely, stagnant.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Let Me Rap to You Real Quick...a Guest Post by Courtney McKinney

This was hard to write because there is so much importance I will attempt to distill into the next few paragraphs. Ultimately there is only so much I can say about hip-hop because it is so closely tied to the touchier topics of race and poverty in America, but here it goes...

I was not raised listening to rap, in fact, it was something I was actively encouraged to stay away from. The swearing, the misogyny, the violence, oh my! That was my general feeling about hip-hop (rap) music up until about 3 years ago. My family is black, but my childhood relates to most rappers about as much as your average white kid living in the suburbs. I know nothing of strip clubs or life in a gang or life as a poor person. 

What I relate to is humanity. What I relate to is art in its true form -- a vehicle for people to express their realities in a way that other people can digest, and hopefully address. 
It's hard to convey the emotion behind marginalization, but for a lot of black people in America living on the margins is the lived reality. Young black men are taught different sets of rules on how to stay alive when interacting with police, and a disproportionate number of black people grow up in neighborhoods where the only tangible examples of financial success are illegal or extreme (i.e. fame via professional athletics or entertainment), but they still live in a country where money is king. I never considered the reality of American poverty before I became a hip-hop listener. 

Rap is a language that has become much more mainstream since it first began in New York City. It started at block parties where DJs would fuse 70s funk and soul music with percussive beats, and people began rapping over their creations. Eventually hip-hop became a language for discontent because it came from communities where those issues were a part of everyday life ("The Message" by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five is a good early example). As rap became more popular big labels got a hold of young rappers with the promise of unheard of financial success, and mainstream rap music changed dramatically (which eventually led to a push-back and a rise in artist-run labels). 

The price of popularity is that the music must have mass appeal. The rap we hear on the radio is the music we are given because the labels know it is what consumers want to hear. Listening to people rap about easy sex or drinking to blackout is easier than listening to people discuss the hopelessness of growing up in the projects, or the logical reasoning behind selling drugs, or acknowledging the dysfunction certain citizens encounter within our justice system. It is easier to hear the lyrics about bitches and hoes so that is what a lot of people hone in on, but if you are open to it deeper content is there -- often on the same album. 

That is why "hip-hop heads" will always tell you to listen to a whole album. Radio singles act like disguises, sometimes they show the real person, but other times they camouflage something else. Most people don't realize that a lot of hip-hop artists were the smart kids growing up (for example 2 Chainz went to medical school before embarking on his rap career). 

Rap lyrics can be deeply descriptive, thoughtful, and introspective. The rap game is one way to use intelligence to get out of strife. Rapping is a way to express emotion, fear, and anger -- just like any other art. Rappers also give voice to their communities, which is vitally important. Lupe Fiasco tells young kids the world is theirs no matter where they grow up in "The Show Goes On." Tupac told young black women to keep their heads up in the midst of poverty and poor treatment in "Keep Ya Head Up." Rappers consistently give hope to young people in communities where it often seems that there is none. 

Hip-hop albums have the ability to function like the Trojan army, and the mainstream singles are their Trojan horses. There's a message for all of America in rap that tells us what is going on for some of the people in this country, and unlike the video vixens their reality isn't always pretty. Everyone has an idea of what "the hood" looks like and what the people are like who live there, but if you're patient enough to dig a little deeper than the showy consumer-oriented veneer you will find a more robust portrait within hip-hop culture. You will find humanity, and you will find the invisible Americans who live in a world most of us can't comprehend. 

If you want to know more about anything I've discussed, please read these pieces that deal with the topics very well:

On self-segregation and how it creates misunderstanding
A little more on self-segregation
On the tendency to link a person's behavior with their art

Suggested listening list (These are full albums that should be listened to without shuffle):

Kendrick Lamar: "Good Kidd, m.A.A.d City," "Section 8.0"
NAS - "Illmatic"
A Tribe Called Quest -- "The Low End Theory"
Tupac - "Greatest Hits"
Black Star - "Mos Def and Kweli are Black Star"
J Cole - "Cole World: The Sideline Story" & "Born Sinner"
Outkast -- "SouthernPlayalisticCadillacMusik"
The Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie) - "Life After Death" & "Ready to Die"

Courtney is the product of an early West Coast existence, a Texan upbringing, and an East Coast coming of age. She is a graduate of Lewisville High School (Go Farmers!) and Yale University (Go Bulldogs!), and she currently lives in New York City where she will soon begin work for the Brennan Center for Justice through NYU Law. She previously dabbled in film, television journalism, and education. She’s generally interested in almost everything, which informs her writing. 

Check out more of Courtney's Musings:

Friday, August 8, 2014

Why I Love My Sister

"A sister a little bit of childhood that can never be lost." 
It's hard to say if I truly remember when my sister was born, or if I remember the photos of her birth. Regardless, the memory is there. August 9, 1990. 

I realize now, as a 27 year old new mother, that my then 27 year old mom was a complete warrior. Her mother had passed away unexpectedly 2 weeks before my sister's arrival. I can't imagine the loss, but I can completely understand how the bond between the two of them is deeper than just mother-daughter. Without a doubt, I believe a part of my grandmother's spirit made it's way into my sister's heart and back to this earth. She was a source of joy and comfort for my mom that nobody else could be. She was their little angel baby. She'll always be the baby of our family. 

As for me, I was 3. As far as I was concerned, Laura Rose ((which turned into "Rosebud," which got shortened to "Bud")) had brought a Prince Eric doll from wherever she came from, as a gift to me. She was in. I liked her.

Not only am I grateful to my sister for being such an amazing sibling, friend, and person...I am also so grateful to my parents for giving me Bud. 

Anybody who has a sibling can relate. My sister is my confidante. She's my partner in crime! We laugh at the same stupid stuff (like a dog's collar...why is that funny?!), and feel similarly on so many issues, it's eerie. When something is going on in the family, she's my preferred person to talk to, because she's on EXACTLY the same page. She's the only other person on the planet who grew up in the same house, with the same parents. Every holiday was spent together. Every birthday, ever. I held her as a baby and will stand beside her in October as her matron of honor. "Grateful" doesn't begin to explain my feelings toward her.

We started out really close, and played together constantly. Most of the time, she would kindly watch me play Barbies by myself. Haha. We also had a game, creatively titled, "The Game," where we would claim various pieces of furniture, homes, pets, you name it! in our make believe life. She was "Kristy" and I was "Kelly". Eventually, I got tired of playing The Game with my little sister, and dramatically acted out Kelly's death. I'm pretty sure she was devastated. We played N64 together in inflatable chairs, never learned how to dive together, and even played Christmas carols on the flute together. We rode bikes together, had pretend interviews on the old camcorder, and made up children's TV programs where we were the stars. When I hear Elvis Costello, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Natalie Merchant, and Gin Blossoms, I think of our long summer days back in the 'ville. Any memory I have of my childhood involves Bud.

When I was going into high school, and Bud was 10-11, we spent less time hanging out as friends. I don't remember having a falling out or anything, it just seemed like in hindsight I was in a tryin-to-act-cool phase...fortunately, it was short lived. I remember in college, coming home and realizing how authentically cool my sister was, and being grateful for our relationship. 

At Joe T. Garcia's with our baby cousin, Allie Jean!

My gift to Bud for her 21st birthday

Now, we are closer than ever. I'm also more proud of her than ever. She graduated with her Bachelor's from Tech Summa Cum Laude in 2012. She immediately pursued her Master's, and is now a Speech Pathologist, with a job lined up to begin next week. Luckily for us, she was at home ((Flower Mound)) for most of the summer, but she moves to Houston next week to start her professional life...and I have to say, I am so sad.

She is so much help. She picks up LG from the nanny...she makes dinner all the time...she runs errands, cleans up, drops everything to help me out. She's so helpful. I also lean on her emotionally. I call her more now than ever. Or text, at least. I go to her when I'm down, and I feel no judgment, just total love, and understanding...true understanding. She's very empathetic. 

I used to think of myself as "the smart one" and she was "the pretty one." That sounds so dumb, but it's truthful. Now I realize she's both. She's so beautiful inside and out. She's so smart. She has practical knowledge and a very intuitive sense that's refined. She's open to Life, and doesn't claim to know all the answers. She is a seeker. She has a lot more going on in her mind than she blurts out ((I tend to blurt)).  She has become more "herself" which has been fun to watch and support. 

At the end of the day, I probably love most the ability to cry with my sister, and laugh until I cry with my sister, in any situation. While I love the small things, like swinging on the porch swing sipping a cocktail, watching The View ((and eye-rolling at Sherri Shepherd)) or jumping in the community pool in our clothes after a hot summer walk...I am most grateful for the big picture...which is that she is a part of me, and I'm a part of her. 

Happy birthday, Bud! I'm so glad you were born. And HAPPY BRIDAL SHOWER DAY! I hope you have the best birthday//bridal shower ever. I love you, forever and ever.


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