#MyBodyFirst Campaign Sounds a Rallying Cry for a Body-Positive Shopping Experience

While I could spend this post writing about how busy I've been in the past few months with moving into my dream apartment, growing my career and focusing on personal growth, I'm just going to show you what magical work we're doing here at Dia&Co! 

When I think about a retail shopping experience, I think the first thing that comes to mind is something that’s very disheartening
Unpredictable
Frustrating
Unwelcome
Undesirable
It always seems as though when I try something on and it doesn’t quite fit, that I just need to be a little bit different.
That if one part of me were smaller or another part of me was shaped differently, then I could wear the clothes.
What that feels like never really gets easier.

Going into a store and nothing is going to fit you, you really kind of feel like, okay well what’s wrong with me?

It’s hard to feel like I’m not the problem.
— www.dia.co/mybodyfirst

Key Findings from Dia&Co Shopping Satisfaction Study:

  • 22% of women reported feeling happy the last time they left a fitting room.
  • 33% of women reported that the last time they left a fitting room, they felt significantly worse than when they entered the fitting room.
  • On average, women reported that 74% of the clothing items that they try on in a fitting room do not fit them.
  • Women who wear sizes 14+ try on 24% fewer items of clothing in fitting rooms (4.97 items) than women who wear sizes 0-12 (6.53 items).
  • Of the clothing that was tried on, a larger percentage did not fit women who wear sizes 14+ (77% of items) compared to women who wear sizes 0-12 (72% of items).
We believe that style can spark self-love. Fashion can be fun. And clothing can be a powerful form of self-expression. But too often, the typical shopping experience doesn’t reflect that. It’s time for a change.
— Dia&Co

Alone with my Thoughts

Mindfulness.

A word I remember learning along with respect, kindness, understanding of others, yet not until the last few months have I really focused on what it means to me as an individual. Over a year ago, I dabbled in mindfulness in "Be here. Now!", reteaching myself the importance of finding small moments of the presence, living in them and forcing the anxiety of the future to take a chill pill, while I let my faith be the backbone of my life. 

I'll admit that one got a way from me a little, as I reread it took a churchy tone, while relevant, the general message was muddled by the end. Hey, I never said I was the best writer. But what I'm finding is that I still crave those small moments of living in the moment. Appreciating the small little things at a higher level when they are the sole focus, even just for the moment. 

While I knew channeling my wild mind, constantly reacting to sparks of firework ideas, would take quite a bit of reigning in, I didn't fully understand how rogue I had let it go until recently. As a "millennial", (certainly, not putting the blame on culture, but I know I'm not the only one dealing with over-stimulation issues), we have forced our brains to be accustom to jumping and chasing each firework that goes off, almost anticipating and searching for the boom before it even sounds, creating a chaos in our minds that refuses to sit still, focus on a thought to finality before lurching forward to the next, instead we carelessly reprioritize moment by moment, chasing the sonic boom that is social media and this want, now need, to be a part of something more than ourselves, even in times of solitude.

"I'm going to stay in and watch a movie" is changed from those acts to checking devices on an almost minute schedule with fear that we're missing something by following what our heart wants to do. The simple acts of reading a book, meeting friends for lunch or sadly, even sleeping, is met with little forced "check ins" with our phones on the world that's not right in front of us, as we habitually force our brains to dedicate thought into moments we aren't living in. 

No wonder many of us suffer from anxiety and have manic-like stress...

In January, I received a gift from a very close family friend. A 2016 calendar with witty quotes and drawings that she deemed "probably useless to you because of technology, yet worth keeping just for the quotes". (I've always been a collector of quotes). Laughing while skimming some of the pages in her presence, I knew it was the perfect gift, yet agreeably knew it probably would end up collecting dust on a shelf in my apartment. The first few days I skimmed the pages.

Sometimes, all you need is an old friend, a good chat, and a slightly expensive block of cheese.
She made a great effort to balance all the wild and wonderful things that make up life.
She has stars in her eyes, glitter in her veins and bubbles in her glass, of course.

With gems like these to enjoy along the way, I had a thought, no, a challenge for myself. I would find something, if not somethings, in each and every day to write in that space.  

I had never been one to keep a diary. In fact, most times I ever attempted one it began as follows:

Dear Diary,

Hi...

Here ends all diary entries.

I had always struggled to continue that first sentence, afraid of what I might say to myself, afraid of what truths it might hold. It always seemed silly to me to document the minute details of a day when I was, in fact, living those details out and could remember them. But this would be different...this had to be different. Somehow I knew that I needed this more than I wanted to avoid it.

Heres the process:

Moments before I settle down for bed before watching some ABCFamily, (oh I'm sorry is it "FreeForm" now? Same glorious romcom dramedy I love with no shame, no need for the name change) I split the date in half down the middle with a line. I then let my mind vomit out thoughts from the day, acknowledging them in two categories listed below, until I feel done

  • Above the line: Things/Moments that were "Good" 
  • Below the line: Things/Moments that were "Bad"

Some days, entries have more good than bad, others more bad than good, some have very few notes, others the notes run into the margins, some include drawings, others just a few small words with lots of meaning, but upon completion, (this isn't timed) I feel like whatever stress or baggage I've carried throughout the day, is gone. The "good", on most days, outweigh the bad. The "bad" are usually things I can inevitably control, while others are things that I can learn from to insure that they wont make the list again, or serve as a reminder for the future. 

Below is a photo of a jam-packed week from January. (Excuse the "Ass Towel" reference...that's for another story.)

It's not rocket science. Hell, this wont even make Oprah's socks budge and I'm sure that those used to journaling will consider this a cheap attempt, For me, it's been a game-changer. I've been able to unload some of the daily anxiety of the future, but understanding the little moments that built each day. I can fully appreciate the good moments and evaluate the bad, knowing that they are "good moments" and not "bad days", teaching myself that even the worst of days have little bits of joy in them. 

This brings me back to mindfulness. Allowing myself to reflect on the little moments that build my days, highlight what's important to me at a very acute level. I can see trends, significance behind the highs and lows, and learn more about myself as I track these moments. I now seek to replicate with intrigue the highs, exploring how to iterate the things that bring happiness to my life, while removing what experiences, foster the bad. This exploratory adventure into creating my own happiness and the path that I follow has helped me understand how to move forward and build the life I want, addressing what roadblocks will stand in my way and finding new ways to observe, challenge and continue onward. 

I've been doing a lot of reading lately, in an effort to reteach my brain to focus on one thing at a time, in a world that's ever-changing. The concept of mindfulness was brought back into my life in Kelsey Miller's incredible "Big Girl: How I Gave Up Dieting and Got a Life", a book I can't recommend enough. In her case, she found mindfulness from Intuitive Eating, and learning to enjoy food, savor the experience of eating and listening to her body to tell her what she wanted. The recognition of listening to her body helped her understand so much more about who she was as a person. I really found resonance in her discussions about the constant distractions we create for ourselves, shutting out the world and our inner thoughts with music, television binges and not addressing the issues that we struggle with. It felt as if mindfulness had become the focus for her life, and inspired me to try and live as mindful as possible.

Addressing the highs and lows of the day, living with "intent" and purpose that each action should be enjoyed fully and almost solely, has helped me develop a sense of self. It's a process, and on most days more of a struggle, to consciously leave my "world" aka phone, on the table upside down while I watch television, instead of scrolling through Instagram absentmindedly. Or remove my headphones to enjoy a chapter or two of Outlander on my commute to work, or listen, full-minded listen to a new album or podcast. Hell, even at the office, focusing in on the task at hand, not worried about who liked my recent status update on Facebook, or what email I needed to draft up, or meetings I have in the afternoon. Being mindful of each moment, each action and what my mind, body and soul need to do is a journey. Being able to fully enjoy and appreciate the journey, having log of each step on the climb, is encouraging and seeing progress, not only within what goes into the daily notes, but within myself overtime has been incredible. 

Being mindful has helped me learn more about the person I am and who I want to be. While each day hasn't lead to new revelations, being able to look back at the little bits I've learned about what makes me happy/sad throughout the last six months, I can weed out the toxic, refocus the energy spent on things that don't make me complete in search of joy and happiness. Exploring new ways to enjoy my own company and the company of others in the present and not on the alternate universe we all struggle so hard to live in. Mindfulness has taught me more about the "little things" that make up a day, how their importance falls in cadence with the grand picture that we all wish to fall into place in front of us. To enjoy the moments that life throws at us, learn from them and embark looking for more, that's real life. 

So to charge us all going forward, think of things that make you happy. Write them down, or find ways to do them, 100% do them with intent to get the most happiness from them. Take note on the things that would categorize as "bad", how does your role play into them? Can you prevent them from happening again or was it a situation out of your control. Acknowledge it and then put it in the past. Try to resist the tiny distractions, hell, schedule time to enjoy social media, with intent! Browse with want, not with need to distract yourself from doing something menial. Put all of yourself into the relationships that matter, your phone wont blow up over brunch. Evaluate the relationships that end up being an energy suck more than an add, even if those are the ones you crave. Find time to be alone with your thoughts. What do you think about yourself? What can you keep the same? What might need to change and how can you do it positively? How can you make the most out of each day?

Seems like quite the To-Do list, huh? Well, it doesn't have to be so hard. Start with the simple, like I did, or even just mindfully acknowledging how you live each day. What started out as a "thing" I thought I'd find tedious and quick to drop, ended up being something I look forward to every day. What I've also learned to love is the quiet moments, just after I've finished my daily lists, in which I reflect on the day. What used to be "sleep to avoid the day" is now "sleep to prepare for the day", setting myself up for the positive, but accepting that negative will come and I'm well equipped to handle it. Whether this be something you try once and hate, or something you end up enjoying, find time for yourself. Time that's just yours, to be alone with your thoughts. You'll never know how brilliantly wonderful you are if you don't look!

 

with joy,

M

WARNING: Woman uses the word "Feminism" and no one dies!

I'd like to first take a minute to thank the sponsors who facilitated the major thoughts behind this post. Without Spotify's "Discover Weekly" playlist which featured Beyoncé's "***Flawless" remix, I wouldn't have found this incredibly inspiring woman, Chimamanda Adichie and her TEDxEuston talk entitled "We should all be feminists". Thank you Spotify, for always knowing what I need to center myself for the week, (even if Hillary Duff's "Tattoo" sneaks in). Secondly, I'd like to thank Uber for always providing me with a collection of strangers who, in the late hours of evening coming home from work, early hours of morning slightly inebriated or even on my Sunday rides to church, entertain my conversations. While the conversation I had on Friday evening with my Uber driver wasn't what I expected when I requested the car to take me home after a 15 hr day at the office, it lit a fire inside of me that I had to explore.

FEMINISM! 

If you haven't stopped reading yet, that F word above will definitely get you to X out. This post has less feminism in it than an episode of HBO's GIRLS, but definitely enough of a message that is important to share! 

Last Monday, on a packed Path train into Lower Manhattan on my way to our new fancy offices downtown, I began to prep my week. Part of my Monday morning commute involves me making a list of To-Do's while listening to the fresh picks Spotify chooses in my "Discover Weekly" playlist, creatively chosen based on music that I listen to. Obviously, it is no surprise that Queen Bey was part of the playlist (I haven't listened to Lemonade, or watched it, do you watch it? I'm not that cool with the cool kids, but also, who is this Becky?) As the beat dropped (well, I know cool lingo) I recognized this to be her flawless "Flawless" but yet it seemed a bit different.... intertwined into the song was this powerful speech. The words echoing of strength and empowerment, landing on "Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes" fiercely followed up with "I woke up with this....FLAWLESS!" YASS QUEEN! What was this incredible truth bomb that Spotify and the Queen threw at me first thing on a Monday?

As soon as I got into my office, I googled the difference between a song that I thought I knew and this new "***Flawless" learning that the added lyrics were from this incredible Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Adichie and the TEDTalk she presented back in 2013. (I've attached the Youtube link above and highly suggest it) Below are the words used in the song:

"We teach girls to shrink themselves to make themselves smaller. We say to girls 'You can have ambition but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man.'

Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. 

Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don't teach boys the same? We raise girls to each other as competitors. Not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. 

Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes."

Chimamanda Adichie 2013

Can I get a "YAAASSS KWEEN"??? 

Men, are you still with me? I know moments that aren't focused around you are slightly scary, but I promise you'll survive! The extra 30 cents per dollar you get against a woman's salary should help. 

What really resonated with me was the second paragraph, "because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mine that marriage is the most important." 

This brings the Uber ride into the circle. While my driver meant nothing by it, and foolish of me to play into it, because I've had slightly aggressive cabbies suggest more than a car ride, if ya know what I mean, I spoke before I thought. 

After a quick chat about the wildness of the neighborhood and how I was coming home from working quite late, he asked "oh, well at least he will be awake when you get home."

Prior to this, no mention of a "he" existed. "He" meant that it was assumed that I was in a relationship, and "he" would be waiting up for me when I returned home. (THERE IS NO HE! "He" is a she and she is my roommate/Ben&Jerry's ride or die buddy) In a moment of WTF, I responded, "no he's probably asleep" because this felt slightly more accurate. Technically "he" is somewhere, knowing my taste in men, probably asleep because I'm secretly/not so secretly an old lady tucked inside my body and any man I "relationship" with will probably enjoy passing out early on a Friday night after too much Chinese food and a shitty movie. 

If this hadn't been an awkward-enough moment, let's go one step further. I remained quiet, not wanting to grow a nose like Pinocchio or, quite honestly, giving out any more information than possible. I didn't feel completely uncomfortable, I'm in my late 20's, it's not a wild assumption that I am married or in a relationship. It's not uncommon for women to pretend to be married to defend themselves against other men, I've known many who do it to earn some respect from others. I've never needed respect that badly. In this moment though, I felt my defenses go up and even if we were just blocks away from my apartment, I needed to have a security blanket...even if it was a real blanket instead of a man. 

*Warning! Mom & Dad...it's all your fault!

Being raised by a couple, each who are strong and independent separately, yet a become a powerhouse together, helped me understand my worth, value and drive for independence. I can remember from our Sunday drives my last few years of high school, my mother sharing her wisdom on being a strong, independent woman (much like the song "Survivor" by Destiny's Child). Raising me to think freely, never to doubt that I wasn't anything less than a boy or man, but inspiring me to want, need and build the life I wanted for myself. My parents constantly supported my growth and never pressured me to settle into relationships for the sake of fitting in, or following the crowd. Instead, the led by example. Both, working together to support one another's wants, needs and the life they wanted together. If I "aspire to marriage" it is for that kind of marriage, a partnership, friendship and nothing less.

But of course, once in a while, among the fears that one day, "The Mindy Project" will be cancelled, or children wont know who Justin Timberlake is, I fear of being that "old maid", locked in an apartment surrounded by cats, cans of fish, copies of "Bridget Jone's Diary" and afghans. Hell, I'll be that crazy old lady whether I marry or not, the only difference is by I'll be yelling at a framed picture of a cute young man because I'll outlive him (it's genetic fact... over 100 for sure). Until those days, I'll keep pinning my dreams of a wedding pub crawl with confetti and mini bottles of Grey Goose hidden in my bouquet on Pinterest, I'll make a playlist of first dance songs, and continue my list of demands...I mean "vows" under #DearFutureHusband posts on Facebook. Forcing myself to change the woman I'm learning how to be just because the world we live in expects me to want that, just isn't something I'll do.

Certainly, if you've found your "person", the one who makes you laugh when you're mad, inspires you to live every moment of every day in love, holds you hard when you need their strength, by all means party on. It's relationships that I see around me, full of love and friendship, that inspire me to keep looking, to not settle and to continue on this journey of discovering who I am, knowing that along the way, the right one will be there. That one day, I'll be in the back of an Uber, hell it'll probably be a space car by then, with a man I'm proud to call mine. Together, as equal halves, with "joy and love and mutual support" we will conquer our world!

 

with joy,

M

Livin' The Dream!

Hi, my name is Margaret, well, Marge, and I'm....BUSY! 

First, let me apologize yet again, for getting you all hype about "the new and improved IW"(that's a thing now right?) and then disappearing off the face of the earth for nearly five months. If I'm being quite honest though, I'm not actually that sorry. Of course, I've missed writing and sharing with you, but I've spent these days fully living in the life I have, surrounded by friends, family and a job, all that truly inspire me to live a full life, rather then held up in a tower, surrounded by lights dreaming... Obviously, I could have given up binge watching How I Met Your Mother for the second time, getting aggressively addicted to Empire, or most recently, catching up with my high-school friends on The O.C. (thanks HULU). While I spend most of my working days surrounded and/or communicating with people all day, I fully support the need of a good marathon....tv marathon, that is. Not that much has changed with me! 

So let me take a bit to catch everyone up. If you were looking for some crazy life advice right now or maybe motivation to stick to your New Year's Reso"loooose"tions, I'm not making any promises. 

The last time we spoke was the first day of my 27th year, and again, if I'm being completely honest #safespace, I was semi-tipsy during the beginning portion of writing that, not that being tipsy disqualifies any of what I said. "A drunk mind speaks a truthful heart,"....or something like that. I was on the train home to my parent's house for the Thanksgiving holiday and had spent my birthday evening celebrating Thanksgiving with my new cohorts at Dia&Co. There were games, wonderful dinner, fabulous conversations, dancing and maybe a bit of libations....it was a glamorous entrance into this next chapter into my life. That being said, the message in my post about living life and enjoying the little moments of laughter and joy have obviously been a part of my past and will continue to be prevalent into my future. 

For those who weren't aware of my mission to change the world, for serious now, I started at Dia&Co in November after an incredible journey at Main Street Hub. I wrote about Dia back in June with  "Almost Famous: What's the Buzz" , and I can't even begin to describe what a dream it's been since I've joined their team. While I'm sure most of you saw this video when it was released by mic.com back in February, this is the perfect intro into "Marge 2016"...

 

Are you crying? Are you laughing at me crying? I'm not going to lie, I've seen this video probably over 100 times, and I still cry each time. 

I think what's really magical about this video, and why I'm emotional is that it brings a side of me out that not many get to see. It shows that we are all on this journey to strength, truth, wisdom, confidence, hope and love, and that we are not our past, we are not yet in the future, we just have these moments. The raw emotion of my past is something that I struggle to face every day, things we all struggle to face everyday. Coming to terms with those moments of darkness, realizing how close to the surface they are and knowing that each step forward is a step in the right direction is hard. I cry watching this for the girl I was, those moments when I believed the darkness and hate I'd heard was truth. I cry watching this for the woman I am now, fueled by the fire that I had to start to keep me alive with hope that I could be who ever I wanted to be. I know that sharing these moments of vulnerability and honesty can help me overcome and rally, inspire others to share their story, build their confidence and be proud of who they are and want to be.  

***

Recently, on another trip back home with my parents, my mother and I walked around my childhood neighborhood chatting. For years I struggled with the "future" questions, I watched friends accomplish goals, education, relationships and wondering what path I was on. Here I was, after years of questioning and soul-searching, side by side with mom, talking about how lucky I was to have this clear path in front of me. All along the answers were right inside of who I was. Through the pain, struggle, laughter, joy, journey and adventure, I've found my place at a company that is so true to my core, empowers not only me on a daily basis, but the women we work with to be unapologetically themselves, and constantly INSPIRES me to continue forward. 

I've realized that while we all spend so much time planning for the future, we miss out on the moments along our journey. I'll do my best to log these magical moments, share them, so that when I'm blessed with a future, I can remember the past and what built the person I am. 

Until next time.....

with joy,

M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Thanksgiving Miracle

This post was written in the last hours of my 27th birthday, November 24, 2015.

While my twenty-seventh birthday dwindles to an end, and the train ride back to my parent’s house in the valley drifts swiftly away from the city life I leave behind for a few days, I’d like to take a few moments to share my favorite story...and honestly, while it’s technically my story, I share it closely with two others.

If we could all put our Back to the Future time-traveling pants on and venture back to 1988.

A lovely couple, after celebrating their recent fifteenth wedding anniversary, was swept up in the chaos of a new project…the restoration of a 18th century historical home in central Connecticut. While the restoration project was huge and the property in general needed plenty of TLC, the couple was determined to remodel, upgrade and renovate this house into a home for it’s next owners, as they would move on to another project when it was finished. This was their passion...this and being killer party hosts and the best Aunt Jane and Uncle Richard their friends and family members knew. Without children of their own, they became the “cool adults” all of the family children wanted to spend time with, and for good reason. Saturday nights consisted of sneak SNL sessions and their Halloween parties were legend-wait for it-dary, putting any Barney Stinson night to shame! While they certainly knew how to celebrate the parties and good times, their dreams of being parents of their own just didn’t seem to fall into place. After heartbreaking losses, they transitioned their love to their godchildren and radiated love with just about everything they did.

With each project checked off the very detailed list, a new one was added. Wood floors that were destroyed by a previous owner’s dog companion, leaking roof slates that welcomed water with each passing cloud, kitchen tiles that could have been brown originally but the verdict is still out. The last thing they needed was something to push their very tight itinerary off track, (a trait I understand fully twenty-seven years later,) and the wife’s newly acquired flu was definitely not on the checklist. (I know, I know, shameless use of foreshadowing!)

As many can figure out, that flu was me….#sorrynotsorry! You can all take a moment to either wipe your tears or roll your eyes, maybe a mix of both.

I was born, oddly enough, on Thanksgiving morning, a few days before I was expected, close to that lovely house on the ridge and that house became a home before we knew it! Aunt Jane and Uncle Richard became Mom and Dad, shocking their family, friends but probably themselves the most. The coincidence of being born, especially in these circumstances, on Thanksgiving is one that’s not lost on us. Call it fate, karma, God, a miracle, good timing, or crazy, it’s probably a combination of everything. Without going into details, because as we’ve read previously, my “how babies are made” stories are slightly confusing and detrimental to my future sex life, the likelihood of my parents having me were as similar to the hopes and dreams of a Gilmore Girls reunion after the final shot was filmed...which now, years later is actually in the works. I’m sure they’ll LOVE that correlation to my life story! But seriously, I have no explanation behind why I’m here, why I was blessed with fabulous parents or why things happen for a reason.

The one truth that I carry with me from our story is this, and most who know me, know I live by this, we can’t wait around hoping and wishing that something will happen that will change our lives...we also can’t always go out, grab it and take it for ourselves either. We can, however, live each day with the hope that we have to move forward. We have to continue living moment by moment, loving, laughing, sharing, growing, trying and surround ourselves with people who support that. If we sit on our asses waiting for the life we want, it wont come, that I’m sure of, time will pass and we'll miss the living part. But if we find things that inspire us, that challenge us, and encourage us to live with a full heart and a life we’re proud to live, then sometimes a brief moment of fate, karma, God or miracle, step in and end up changing our lives for the better.

With the holiday season closely approaching, I'd like to leave you with a challenge...Are you ready?

Try to find the little miracles, gifts, moments of sheer life and laughter, steps toward your dreams or little wins. Spend time with those close to you, say "thank you" and mean it! Laugh and laugh even more. Have passion for something you're doing today. Give a compliment or lend a hand. Remember these moments, snap a photo, write them down, share with others. We have the power to make the world a happier future, what can you do to be a part of it?

with love, thanks and joy, Happy Thanksgiving! 

 

 

A Little Bit of Light

This is the beginning of a new adventure for Inspired Wit. With dreams to make the world a better place by sharing, caring, encouraging, motivating, inspiring and learning from the people around us, I bring to you INSPIRED WIT. I had originally planned on releasing this as a full finished, shiny project that will awe and amaze myself that I finished something I dreamed up, however with the recent news of devastation and war in Paris, I thought there was no better time than the present to take a moment of reflection and offer what I can to my community. I appreciate the words of encouragement and I hope this brings all who read it a bit of peace, solace, hope, inspiration and, maybe even a smile or two. Thank you and God Bless.

Notre Père, qui es aux cieux,
que ton nom soit sanctifié,
que ton règne vienne,
que ta volonté soit faite sur la terre comme au ciel.
Donne-nous aujourd’hui notre pain de ce jour.
Pardonne-nous nos offences
comme nous pardonnons aussi à ceux qui nous ont offensés.
Et ne nous soumets pas à la tentation,
mais délivre-nous du mal,
car c’est à toi qu’appartiennent le règne,
la puissance et la gloire, aux siècles des siècles.
Amen.
— The Lord's Prayer

I recently had a conversation with a close friend about my thoughts on starting a family, something a year ago, hell six months ago, would have completely terrified me and sent me immediately in search for a bottle of wine, and while I've always thought that one day I'd want to "settle down", I've always seemed to see myself as this young girl playing a role of an adult. Obviously, I pay my own bills, dictate when I have to wake up on time for work and make most of my own decisions on how I spend my time, but the idea of starting a family seemed somewhere far off into the distance. I looked around me at friends who've gotten married, started families and silently thought to myself "I'm definitely not old enough for that yet, right?" Yet now here I am, days away from my 27th birthday, and for the first time I feel like I am finally "growing up" and excited to see what the future has in store.

When I learned of the attacks in Paris on Friday evening, besides grief, anger, mourning and sheer sadness, I caught myself questioning why I would, or anyone for that matter, would want to bring children up into a world full of such hate, anger, terror and evil? I've come to peace in my own faith and spirituality that questioning is a normal part of the thought process. While I've grown away from my once, "Why God?" questioning, I will continue to question the hearts and lives of those who carry such anger and hate in their hearts for others, mostly complete strangers. I'll never understand the rationality that death is a form of payment, as if as the death toll rises, somehow, something is gained. Lives of hundreds, thousands, millions are taken for reasons that could be solved with words if only we took the time to listen before we speak. We teach young children that violence and anger isn't the answer, that we talk through our problems and "use our words" and yet, here we are. How do we teach them about hatred, greed, anger and evil? In between moments on the swing, or after you've finished reading Dr. Seuss? 

The added security throughout the city is seemingly ominous and yet comforting at the same time and while I'm grateful knowing that they're there, the events of this weekend has seemed to give the city an added edge. This afternoon in my usual trek from church to the bar where I watch the Packers (yes, you read that right, I am a trailblazer!), I stepped into a subway car that was relatively crowded (I've been in worse where you hold on with a pinky and a prayer). Of course, while it's busy, and almost everyone has headphones in and couldn't care to make more space, it made finding a spot to stand a challenge. Like the puzzle-solver I am, I found a spot with only two obstacles in my way, one being a young gentleman with headphones in, and another man who was sitting with his legs stretched across the aisle and his eyes closed. I said "Excuse me" twice before lightly tapping the standing gentleman's shoulder who realized what I was doing and moved. Unfortunately, in my graceful movement, I must have tapped the seated fellow's leg with my boot, honestly it couldn't have been more than a big toe. Again, I said "Excuse me, I'm sorry", to get a glorious "F*CK YOU!"

Well, there! 

"I'm sorry, I did say 'excuse me' but you didn't hear me. I'm sorry."

"F*CK YOU! It's 'cus you're white, bitch! It's 'cus you're white! F*CK YOU!"

At this point, several gentlemen around heard him, sat up straighter and seemed to give him a look that I can only describe as "BROOOOO, chill!" 

I got settled in my spot, clearly shocked, surprised and mostly saddened that this man took a simple accident and blew it into such a commotion for no reason. Another gentleman who was seated across from me looked up, smiled and nodded at me as if a sign that I wasn't alone. For a while, I spent the train ride thinking about what I could have said or done to make the situation right, probably nothing and then the bigger picture of race in our country and overall hatred around the world. I was lost in my own thoughts when I heard a little voice from behind me peep up. 

"No, you're doing it wrong! It's 'Watch me WHIP WHIP, watch me nae nae' Watch, I'll show you!"

A darling little girl, on the lap of a loved one, was demonstrating to her family the appropriate dance moves to go along with the music she loved. She caught the train car by surprise, broke the tension of anger and evil, and brought a smile to our faces. It was in that moment that I found hope. A smile came across my face and the face of others and the breath we'd been holding seemed to release. This little girl and her glorious singing/dancing combo, watch out Broadway, had given us a gift of light in a moment of tension.

I exited the train at my stop, angry man stayed in the car, (don't worry Momma!), and I made my way above ground. At the crosswalk, a family stood waiting for the light to change, mother and father, each with a hand on the stroller that held a little girl with pig tails and a pink balloon. The father was tapping the balloon so it would move and the girl would squeal with excitement, giggling infectiously. 

While those shimmers of light in the darkness aren't promised, I've been following reports of those who were saved and sheltered during Friday evening's massacre. Strangers opening their homes, businesses, providing shelter to those who needed it, clothes, food, company, and strength in a time of sheer evil and hatred. Whenever there seems to be a crisis, there are rays of hope that are quick to follow, first responders who risk their lives for others, organizers to rally aid and general support, and most importantly, unconditional love, in moments when there seems to be only hate. We get caught up so quickly in our little battles that we forget how pure life really is. We all come into the world as babies, children who grow and learn from the world around them, who only know what we teach them and only know how to love, laugh, and be in the moment. Let us create a world full of laughing babies, let us inspire them to think, dream, love, share and find the light themselves. That is a world I look forward to, enjoying in the laughter of my future and spending my days loving so deeply I have no room for hate. My wish for the world is to find those moments of life and keep them when the sun doesn't seem to shine. 

If you need a laughing buddy....