The Work of Christmas is for Me, Too.

As this new year begins, this is me. Full disclosure: total bathroom selfie. No glasses, no makeup, hair undone, no filters. Just me.

As 2019 begins, I am considering the work of Christmas, that work that began on Christmas Day and continues on from there. The work of love. One of the things that I am going to be working on is loving myself. I know very well what I have been struggling with, one of the chief things being building more rest into my everyday life. Not just waiting for spring, summer, or Christmas breaks to actually try to rest in that admittedly limited space but acknowledging my need for it as I go along throughout my normal days and weeks.

The work of Christmas needs to begin with me, as much as it needs to involve others. As a dear friend reminded me, I need to love myself and give myself as much grace and permission as I give others.

So here I am, just me, and I am going to work on loving myself better.

Gently Returning to the World (Gen Con 2017 sum-up)

“Let me explain! No, is too much. Let me sum up!” — Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

It’s Monday evening and I just finished one of my favorite weekends of the year: Gen Con! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend all four days of the convention because school and teaching have already begun, but the hubby and I made the most we could out of Saturday and Sunday.

Friday evening and night, I ate, indulged, enjoyed, and laughed. We had dinner with a friend at one of my favorite restaurants, shared delicious dishes, desserts, and wine. It was lovely. And then we Netflixed and chilled. No, seriously. Pjs, snacks, a laptop plugged into the hotel room’s television, and “Criminal Minds”. The next morning came with a long, hot, uninterrupted shower. (Sidenote: Why is hotel water so gorgeously silky?)

Saturday was a gloriously active day. I cosplayed. I belly danced. I walked. I reunited. I laughed. I hugged. I honestly had a really good day. I got to meet a favorite author, Mercedes Lackey, and she made my story-loving heart very full. A little child recognized my cosplay as his favorite superhero (“Mommy! Mommy! She’s Iron Man!”). I got to enjoy being raucously joyous at the dance with all the other geeks and new friends. I got to be bold, fierce, daring, loving, and unabashedly me.

By Sunday, my body ached but I was determined to show up in all my geeky glory. I got up early and ate a little breakfast at the hotel while I contemplated all that I had done so far over the weekend. Once we reached the convention, we found some very fun stuff (yay for TeeTurtle grab bags and The Baby Bestiary) and saw a few more people. By the end of the day, my feet, back, and ribs ached horribly and I was glad to sit down at Steak and Shake with Ben for a late lunch.

Next year, there are some things I will do differently. There are some more intricate cosplays that I want to do (Hogwarts, Trill science officer) and I will take more time in the preparation of them. I will also get myself some super comfy shoes for every occasion. There were some people with whom I had dearly and deeply hoped to spend time but it just didn’t work out. Not their fault. Next year, I will plan better to spend time with dear ones. On the whole, however, it was a good weekend. A really good weekend. Perhaps that is what makes the next part so difficult.

I don’t know if it is solely the weariness or not but the let-down feels heavier this year, more brutal. I know part of it is energy expulsion and the weariness that comes from it. I have to admit that another part of it is likely disappointment over what I didn’t do and people that I didn’t see. Perhaps I built up hopes/expectations that didn’t pan out; it happens, no one is at fault. I’ll plan more carefully and earlier next year so I can be sure to see those dear ones. Nevertheless, the out-whoosh of joy and enjoying-energy and freedom is proving very hard. I love this time with my hubby and with my delightfully geeky friends. Why can’t the joy last longer?

I miss my people. It always boils down to this. I deeply miss my people. Today, I have left dear ones to rest rather than poking them about their weekend experiences and all else, because I know they are tired and in need to rest and recovery of their own. They need a gentle return, too. I love them. I can wait.

All that said, Gen Con is in the books and I’m always glad for the experience. 

Foxy Nerd out!

GenCon 2017


Reflections on Thirty-Three

Author’s Note: Today, I turn 33 years old. It has definitely been an interesting three and a half years since my daughter was born and life changed in a big way. I think that I have learned more about myself in these few short years than in many others combined throughout my lifetime. I see myself differently, am taking better care of myself, am learning to love others better, and live my faith and purpose more honestly and, I hope, effectively. I do more than like myself at 33. I truly believe that I have finally learned to love myself.

= = = =

My form is a thing of beauty.

Take all your definitions of allure

And weigh them in your hands,

As I make mine my own.

Breasts, waist, hips, legs,

Arms, stomach, shoulders, back.

All I work to make strong.

This I do for myself,

For the good of my body as well as my soul.

To be strong enough in body to hold the skies on my shoulders

But soft enough in soul to hold joy in the sway of my hips

And grace in the reach of my hands.

My mind is a work of art.

Growing and challenged still,

Deeply considering and intense.

My intelligence has not been silenced by time,

But continues to grow and refine with new challenges.

My art is a meeting of thought and feeling,

Pulled together, chiseled, and shaped.

I share my art with a desire for hope,

Encouragement, uplifting, and joy.

I write to challenge to love, to kindness, to compassion.

I write to create refuge, worlds in which to escape,

To send out words that my own voice might find difficult to speak.

I sing to birth joy. I dance to proclaim free. I dress to cry beauty.

I write and post and mail to connect and pull threads together.

In life. In community. In love. In friendship. In chosen family.

I am a being made unqiue and becoming uniquer still.

The older I get, the finer I am becoming.

You should rejoice. I’d love for you to rejoice.

If you don’t, though, that’s your choice.

But, most of all, I just want you to smile with me.

A Season of Getting Out of the Way

Today is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of this year’s Lenten season, the 47 days (yes, I am including Sundays) between what is commonly called Shrove Tuesday, “Fat Tuesday”, and/or Mardi Gras and Easter Sunday.

I am a Christian and yet I have never really celebrated Ash Wednesday or Lent for that matter, not since I left Cayman and the required chapel Wednesday services behind with grade school. Honestly, Ash Wednesday and Lent were never really explained to me, not in a way that I recall or, if they were, remember understanding. This year, however, I have felt a heart leading to concentrate on the Lenten season and, more so, to participate in it. I am giving something up for Lent this year but I am keeping it to myself for the most part. The only person who  knows is my husband and I am at peace with keeping it that way.

I am also following along and reading through She Reads Truth’s Lent study through their website, starting, naturally, with Day 1: Ash Wednesday.

Several points jumped out at me as I read through today’s lesson:

  • Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance.
  • The ashen cross on the forehead is an outward sign of both repentance and hope.
  • On Ash Wednesday, we admit our limits and acknowledge the brevity of this life.

Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance. It is a day when our mortality is to be foremost in our minds. That is a hard thing to consider: mortality. The fact that, some day, our lives will be over and the world will spin without us. “Remember, mortal, one day you will die.” Those would be hard words to hear, even whispered from a soul I love, respect, and trust. As a Christian, they are a reminder to me that, even though my bones will be dust someday, I have hope in a life beyond death. “Still, even for those in Christ, these words are a sober reminder that only Jesus’ death and resurrection could pay the wage of our sin and reconcile us to our Maker (She Reads Truth).”  To remember ourselves as mortal is not an easy thing but it remembering that we are only on this earth for a short time makes what we do with that time all the more important.

The ashen cross on the forehead is an outward sign of both repentance and hope. I have never had the ashen cross drawn on my forehead, and I definitely didn’t know that, traditionally, the ashes are made from burning the palm fronds from last year’s Palm Sunday. I vividly remember Palm Sunday as a child. I remember walking into church with my friends, waving the palm fronds and leaves as we marked the celebration of Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem just before Passover and His trial and crucifixion. To see the ashen cross on the forehead as a sign of both repentance, a desire to draw closer to God, and hope, the hope we have in the love and sacrifice Jesus made for us, is remarkably poignant and heart-striking to me. It’s like candlelight in a dark room, enough light to see to take the next step. And then the next after that.

On Ash Wednesday, we admit our limits and acknowledge the brevity of this life. Acknowledging my limitations can be very hard for me. Admitting that there are things that I cannot do, outcomes I cannot affect can often leave me feeling helpless and useless. But that is not the truth. The truth is that I need to lean on and let God be God in those moments and situations. My job is simply to obey and do all that I am called or led to do; God handles the rest, that is His job. Human life may be brief but I have seen God bring about amazing things through people who dare to admit their limits, give their work and what they have into His hands, and see what wonders He will work with it.

“Bring Jesus what you have and get out of the way. Getting out of the way provides an opportunity to discover the awe and wonder of God’s amazing hand and experience God’s abundance.” (Albert Tate)

So, as I go through this Lenten season, my goal is to strengthen my connection with God. To be more intentional about spending time in the quiet, listening to and for Him. To see what I am giving up as a step to a better path, to look for grace in the situations that arise (the giving and receiving of it). To acknowledge my limits, give the Lord what I have, and get out of the way.


Giving of Your Grace

Everyone has a grace. Everyone has a talent, a means of making an impact. Everyone is blessed with a grace.

I sat for almost a full minute, looking at my hand as it land upon the clean lined pages of my notebook, grasping a pen. I sort of marveled at the sight. here is my grace, my talent. I have a few, yes, but this is what I have considered and cultivated specifically as a talent: my writing. (I really should have someone sketch my hand holding a pen someday.)

Everyone has a grace. A grace that allows us to fill a specific place in our community of life. Whether that grace is teaching, cooking, speaking the truth, listening, organizing, or driving others around, it is something that helps others, something that someone may need. You don’t know who or where or when but your grace is important. It is needed; it is vital. Some may not see your grace, or they may not understand it even if they do see it, but that will only affect your grace if you allow it to, if you let it. I’m not saying that it will be easy all the time, that it won’t be frustrating or saddening. But it will only stifle your grace if you allow it to stifle your heart.

Grace is not only a fluidity of motion, it is not only composure and aplomb under pressure. Grace is the giving of love and kindness and honesty and help to others no matter how they may react, how they may treat you or others.  Grace is how you react and respond to others, not how they react or respond to you. I’m not writing this to preach at anyone. It’s on my mind and spilling out my fingers. Writing is my grace. I am endeavoring to write honestly and lovingly and, moreover, boldly about my life. Not everyone will agree or be happy with what I write but, at the same time, I may be fortunate enough to encourage someone else or give their soul some refreshing. I don’t flatter myself in that I might change lives, but I hope that I can be at least the smallest bit of help to someone somewhere.

Your grace can be the simplest of things, such as offering an upset friend a hot beverage to calm them. It may not mean much to you, but it could just mean everything to them. Your grace is important to life; it is vital.

Daily Writing – September 23, 2011 – I Love My Legs

I love my legs. I really do. My thighs, not so much. But my legs. Oh, honey! Who would have thought that a woman who is only 5’1 without heels on could have such long legs? I distinctly remember the first time I ever wore a knee-length skirt. I just sort of marveled at the way my own legs looked stretching beneath the skirt to my high-heeled sandals. I said, surprised, “I have nice legs.”

To which, my mother replied, “Of course you do. Just no one ever sees them.”

Well, I’ve changed that trend over the past 14 years. I’ve learned the value of a shorter skirt, the freedom of shorts, and the seduction of a knee-length pencil skirt. I have come to love my legs, to know the power of a well-shod foot and, as they would say, well-turned calf. I’ve learned just the right shoes to give even more length and shape to my legs. I will forever have the thighs of Ebanks women but a long enough skirt or dress can hide that and still show off a great pair of gams.

When I was lying down on the floor on my side once, a friend pointed to me, running their finger through the air over the line of my legs and just sort of sighed, “Look at that.” I think I blushed at that moment but it felt good. Just like it does when Ben runs his hands over my legs, or scratches gently at my thigh, or kisses my ankle.

Yeah. I think I love my legs.

Daily Writing – June 15, 2011

This morning is dark and rumbly and rainy. The perfect morning to sleep in late. I’ve had nine hours of sleep. I’m good. I like listening to the rain outside; it reminds of the days we would pray for in Cayman. Cool mornings full of clouds and fat raindrops that, if they poured heavily and quickly enough, could cancel school. Then, if I was lucky, I could sit at home and watch tv, listen to music, or read my books all day long. Yes, days you lived for in the Cayman Islands.

Now I’m here in Farmland, Indiana, listening to the thunder rumble over the house I share with my husband of almost five years. Those facts alone serve to amaze me. I’m living in Indiana. I have my own house. I’ve been married to Ben for almost five years. It’s all still somewhat surreal, all the dreams that have come true for me in the past 11 years since I left home for college.

I’m 28 years old. I have a Bachelors of Science in English Education and a Masters of Art in Literature. I have been teaching full-time for five years and now I’m trying to think of what I could possibly enjoy doing other than teaching. I have said it before: I am an English major who teaches. The subject matter is my first love. Don’t get me wrong, I truly do enjoy teaching the nuances and allegories and everything of higher level literature. Perhaps I shall try to teach college classes someday, or private tutoring.