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Between the Lines


Writing a blog is kinda like inviting a bunch of strangers into my house. I'm not sure if you'll like it. My house might be smaller or bigger, messier or neater than the one you're from; I might hide all the piles of clutter really well or not. AND I've finally reached the conclusion that mine is fine. I like what I have, and that includes all the dusty blinds and so forth. You see, this is a people house. We live here, and make messes all the time. And we clean and repeat. We laugh sometimes, and cry sometimes. We say nice stuff and mean stuff. At the end of the day, this is where we belong.

Because my family moved so.many.times when I was growing up, I've lived in LOTS of houses. And this is my favorite house that I've ever lived in. Not because it's bigger or better or anything like that. Because I like me better than before. I've finally figured out how to be me and still balance all the other people; I'm 44.4 years old and finally brave enough to invite a handful of women to my house to eat cake or play scrabble or just sit and talk. I no longer care if it's perfect, because it's mine. And mine is fine.

So how does that relate to writing a blog? Well, here's the deal. These are my stories. If you like them, feel free to stay and read and hopefully we can relate to each other. If not, that's okay too. All of these "notes" are like letters or messages for my sisters, stuff I've learned that I wanted to scribble down on paper. This ceramic box was one of my childhood favorites; as you look more closely, you can see the little girl bear is writing a note and getting ready to put it in an envelope. So sweet!

But musical notes are a big deal to me too. I love the notes that I see printed on a page, a language that tells me how to make great melodies and chords and so forth. Many of my great ideas come from a song, whether it's the lyrics or the rhythm that stuck in my brain and helped teach a life lesson.

Let's say that music is about reading between the lines. When a stranger comes into my house, they see all.the.things. They see things I can't explain in words, things like color and texture and chaos and calm. When a person reads my stories, they can read between the lines. When they hear my music, it's like a melody or harmony that's playing in the background. They can hear the silence or the song, the quiet rhythm of a hymn or the angry drumbeat of a staccato. Any artist who shares something profound bares a bit of their soul. 

Because my family moved so many times, I got really good at meeting strangers and making friends. The Clifton strengths finder assessment calls this character trait "woo" or winning others over. For example, once upon a time I had a neighbor who never smiled. He had a great poker face, probably because he worked undercover for the gangs and drugs unit. Meanwhile, his wife was an open book, super chatty and friendly, and since she was my friend, I decided her husband was my friend as well. Every time I saw him outside, parking his car or in passing, I'd smile and wave. No response. Every time I saw him, poker face. No response. But I persisted. Maybe I tried even harder, thinking, "I know I can crack a smile out of this guy eventually." One day it happened. We had been neighbors for TWO YEARS. We were randomly passing as neighbors tend to do, I grinned and waved, and lo and behold, there it was: just the hint of a smile. Not an actual smile, but my delight was real. He finally decided to reciprocate. "He thinks I'm okay after all," I thought to myself. I've climbed a handful of mountains in my life, both literal and metaphorical, and this small moment felt just as satisfying. I'd won him over. The fact that I could eventually friend a guy that spent his time in a world of gangs and drugs, well, it made me realize that I can probably make friends with anybody. And because I've been lonely and friendless in the past, it's kinda my jam to look for new people or outliers or strangers, and welcome them in.

So here I am writing a bunch of stuff for my sisters and sisters-in-law and my church sisters and my neighborhood sisters. Glennon Doyle calls this "sistering" and I love this verb so much. I first read some of her magnificent ideas years ago. One of her posts that helped me so much was about a kitchen makeover and gratitude, it's called Give me Gratitude or Give me Debt.  A few years after that, I was introduced to this idea of sistering. There's a lovely video that explains it here: The Best Part of Life. Here's how she said it:

Carpenters know that the building block of a structure is the joist.

A joist is a special, strong beam that supports a greater structure.

Sometimes a joist has to carry such a heavy load that is starts to weaken.

When that happens, the carpenter connects another board to the left of the weakening board.

If that doesn’t strengthen it enough, she connects another board to the right and, with that extra support, the joist is strong enough to carry almost anything.

Guess what this this process of joist strengthening is called?  SISTERING!

You can’t build a strong, beautiful, complicated structure - whether it’s a building or a life – without SISTERING.

Women are special, strong people who hold up the world but sometimes life’s load gets too hard and heavy for them to carry alone.

I think the hard is purposeful: so that we’ll need our sisters.

If everything feels too heavy right now, it might mean that you need a sister to your left and a sister to your right to help steady you and strengthen you and hold you together.

It might be time for a sister joist.

My life is just a dance between being sistered and sistering others.

And my favorite thing about being part of a sister joist is that you don’t have to say the right thing, you just have to stand there and be strong.

SISTERING: it’s the best part of life because when I’m weak, then I’m strong.

Find your sister joists.

Be a sister joist.

One of my purposes in writing this blog is to keep and maintain connections with the women I love. Another purpose is to pass down ideas or hints that will help my younger sisters. Another purpose is purely selfish: it gives me a place to be seen and heard, especially when a mom's job is sometimes invisible or silent. Another purpose is to connect with new friends or neighbors. That's the whole point. We need each other, and one of my superpowers is meeting new people. I love to make new friends. So if you're here at my house for the first time, Welcome! If you've been here before, you already know to please look past all the clutter and debris, and just make yourself at home. If you've been lonely and feeling left out, I've felt that too. Maybe you'll find a friend while we're sitting here together. If you've run out of songs to sing or books to read, I have a bunch I'd love to share.


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