Travel Untangled: Memphis, Tennessee

A few months ago, I had some vacation days to burn and some summer to enjoy. I asked my family to join me on a road trip to Memphis. 

We could spend time with my Uncle Sonny, a retired military vet who spent many years working in the Department of Corrections. He likes structure and routine but loves when family come to visit and disrupt all that. We had a great time. We could also…

.. See one of my fave former college professors and let her meet the cuteness that is my nephew. Then we could for sure…

 

…enjoy some sights and scenes of Tennessee. On our trip, we even took a few minutes to marvel at the mighty Mississippi River which we crossed at several points. We will definitely be back though, we didn’t make it to Beale street and some of the music tours we wanted because of several crazy, stormy weather days. 

One of the places we visited that I always wanted to check out was The Lorraine Motel. This is the location where civil rights activist and leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was shot. 

In addition to a memorial for Dr. King, there is also a Civil Rights Museum taking visitors through the history and journey of blacks arriving enslaved, enduring slavery and the on-going civil rights movement, to present-day, of African-Americans in America. A powerful mixture of triumphs and setbacks, the memories cascade even today since many of us or our parents and theirs are alive and saw the up and down times throughout history. We don’t have to look far however since America still isn’t very far on the spectrum of, “all men are created equal.”

Each room in the museum takes on a different piece of history. It’s always emotional for me, but I held myself together. That is, until I walked into a room with a song playing over the loud speaker and a video with lyrics on a giant screen. They were singing, “We Shall Overcome”….and I lost it. A ball of tears. I guess the outpouring of feeling overwhelmed me. Each word as powerful and relevant TODAY as decades prior.

It was quite an experience and I would recommend you take a visit to the Lorraine Motel someday. 

No matter who you are, where you are from, how you were raised or whatever else, we can teach ourselves (our kids, spouses, friends, neighbors, politicians, families, coworkers, etc) to be/do better because we know better, to really love people – all people, to show kindness and humility in our humanity. We can absolutely change the world. 

“I may not get there with you but I want you to know that we as a people will get to the promised land” -Dr. King

Final Civil Rights Museum room has quotes from many world leaders, including President Barack Obama

Hope you enjoyed the recap of my trip to Memphis! That place is full of history, music, great food, good fun and I can’t wait to be back.

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Moms

The older I get, the more I appreciate my mom and what I have learned from her. She has had her set of triumphs and challenges in this life. In my eyes her triumphs are plentiful and outweigh anything else. She has taught me the love of learning and how to show compassion. I admire mom’s strength. It encourages me to live in my own strength. 
I am grateful for my mom and many other women in my life who have given motherly advice, been positive examples of wives, mothers, sisters and daughters I am proud to know and be like. 

You didn’t have to love me like you did but you did and I thank you. 

Happy Mother’s Day! 

Baby Fullard Has Arrived!

Today is such a special day. We welcomed my nephew into the world and he is simply perfection.

It has been a bit of a hellish experience for my sister who was in the hospital 40 hours before the baby arrived. We are exhausted and will be recovering for a couple more days. Birth plans changed and there was a lot of pain involved but we are ultimately thankful for a healthy delivery for mom and baby. 

The new parents are adjusting to a new face in the family after many months of anticipation. We are all just SO delighted!

Wake Up and Live

It is a great week to give thanks. I am especially thankful for the holiday to spend with my loved ones. We decided to take a vacation for the holiday this year. More on that next week.

This year has been full of fun, adventure, challenge and change. I have taken on a lot of mottos this year. I have lots of resolutions. I have set and accomplished many goals. I have set and failed at others. All lessons learned with grace and an open mind.

Wake Up and Live is an important one. It is so valuable to be a person of action.  It is much better and far more rewarding to actively live this life we have instead of passively waiting for life to happen for us.

Monday evening signals the beginning of my vacation. I get to take a break from the regular rhythms of everyday life. It will be a mental and physical vacay. It is so timely and welcomed.

To enjoy life, we have to get out of our own way sometimes. We have to chill on the status updates and work emails. We have to give ourselves a chance to live the fulfilling life we actually desire.

I plan to re-energize, relax and recoup this week. Each morning is a new day to wake up and live. What will you do with it?

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Adventures in Babysitting

I am delighted to report I survived a week in Iowa house-sitting, cat-sitting and playing interim guardian for my teenage niece while my sister was away on a work trip this week.

It was busy, busy, busy. She had school and Driver’s Ed and Softball so there was lots of running around and maintaining the household for me. I also worked all week so this was the closest I have ever seen motherhood. It seems exhausting.

Having no kids myself, I certainly learned a lot about why I’m okay with that at this stage in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I love my niece and kids are great. But I also salute all parents because my small glimpses in your world are enough for me to believe parenthood deserves it’s own award show, Golden Globes style.

Number 1 rule to parenting a teenager:  There are no rules.

At times, it felt like the hunger games. There was room for sharp instincts, strategy, taking leadership, negotiations, winning and occasionally surrender.

I texted my sister a couple times at the beginning of the week, mere hours after her departure and said, I don’t know how you do it but bless you.

My sister is an outstanding mom and my niece is certainly not a terror. She is incredibly intelligent but outside the terrible two’s, the second toughest age range for dependents is from pre-teen to 21ish. I wish that were a joke. My niece like many other adolescents around the world just entered high school and mentally exist in a world I no longer relate to.

I used to be there though. I can only remember short clips from my teenage years but I’m sure my mom can recall exactly what I was like — the good, the bad and the ugly.

Today is different though than when I (or my sisters and probably you too) were growing up. We like to try holding kids to the same standards of living we have but it is tough because they live in a world we never had. There are some pieces that seem familiar and other’s we just don’t know how to begin because we don’t know where to start.

Today’s teenagers are living in the influence of home like we did but also with a sphere of entertainment/the internet like never before: social media, completely adult sexualized network tv, mixed messages at every turn, music with great beats but often poor messages and the list goes on.

When we see some of those influences play out despite how we teach coach, train at home, we might find ourselves asking, WHERE do they learn this stuff?

Sure it’s easy to say to teenagers, “Be strong and mature enough to rise above the influence.” I wish it were so easy. Even adults can’t do it.

Some adults spend a lot of time trying to keep up with basically “grown teenagers” like people keep up with the Kardashians. They want the stunning house, gorgeous car, the kind of life people aren’t embarrassed to spotlight on social media feeds.

I am pressured all the time to get married even by people who struggle in their own marriages. There is a sense of looking beside ourselves to the next person to compare or compete instead of looking ahead at our own journey.

Maybe our worlds are not so different, my niece and I. But that’s no excuse to forsake the basic foundational values we share. In our family we do not get so caught up in the gears of the world that we lose our character. We do not govern our home by how Stacey (or whomever) does things in their house.

The first 24 hours of being home with my niece was an adjustment period for us both. Then I set expectations, explained them and proudly watched her rise to meet them for the rest of the week.

She does listen. It is always a pleasant surprise.

For example, one morning she decided to snooze the alarm a few too many times. She had not fixed her lunch the night before like I asked. She stayed up much of the night on the phone with breaks for homework I think. She rushed to get ready. She was frazzled so I made her lunch. I was not going to take her all the way to school and the bus would come in 5 minutes so I compromised. I drove her to the stop but said no more. I was not sure if she heard.

I gave a gentle reminder later,  accompanied by her eyerolls but i wasn’t going to repeat myself over and over. And I meant it. I believe in kids needing to learn a lesson the hard way sometimes (within reason of course).

So maybe you lose out on something you want because you did not do what was asked of you or you miss the bus because you did not make your lunch. You have been warned that sometimes actions have consequences.

I see it as important because it is an opportunity to learn a lesson. Kids usually want to be grown until they have to be responsible then they either get it together or fall apart when the expectation is made clear by an adult.

Every day for the rest of the week, she made her lunch the night before, got dressed and out the door in time for the bus.

Another evening she was asked to clean the cat litter box before leaving for school the next day. She waited until the last minute and was asked if she had finished. She had not and was not happy about it. But even though she was dressed all cute for school, makeup done, not in the mood, she did it. Literally shocking. And it was not in exchange for something she wanted either even though she did have something in mind that she wanted originally.

My mom taught us a very important lesson growing up — you can’t always get what you want. I think kids today need to learn that too. We should not all get trophys whether we win or lose but we also can’t stop playing because we may not win all the time.

Both Growing up and Parenting in today’s world is challenging for a lot of reasons. Sometimes we have to step up and do things we don’t want to so we can gain the freedom to do the stuff we do want to.

There are lessons for all of us to learn. We can learn from kids. They can learn from us. They do learn from us.

Kudos to my sister for giving her all to raise her daughter. Another special thanks to my family who are also instrumental in helping my niece continue growing into a wonderful young lady.

A standing ovation to all the single parent households and all the couples/families out there figuring it out, making it work and doing the best you can. Keep going forward.

May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

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