We're One!

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A year ago I started Posing as Parents. I have always had a family blog with my husband, but this was meant to be something a little different. This blog was a new project...personal, yes, but also more of a space for others as well.

In the last year, I have learned some things. I wish I would have blogged more regularly. I wish I would have used social media more for Posing as Parents. And I wish I wouldn't let this be one of the first things I neglect when life gets too busy. I love it here...I love it because of you. I started this blog to help create a sense of community. 

I have said it a million times...in a world that we are literally connected 24 hours a day, there is so much disconnect. Perhaps ironic that this a blog, but I can't invite you all over to sit for a spell. But YOU can invite others to be a part of your community. 

Why would you want to do that? You are busy, you don't have time for other people...people you don't know. That sounds like the worst. Can't someone else cultivate some community?

No. 

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.
— Mr. Fred Rogers

It all starts with us. Every one of us. We are in this together. In the immortal words of Eminem, "You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime." This is it kids. This is our time here and now, make the most of it and don't you want it better than you found it? Not worse?

I talk about community and ways to create community over and over again because I truly believe it is our salvation. If you feel responsible for your neighbor you will find ways to feed them, clothe them, educate them, keep them safe, and love them. 

We have also talked about parties here on the blog. While they may not save the world, they sure can make people feel happy and valued and that is a step in the right direction. So here is a Quick Tip on how to throw a party. 

5 Tips to Throwing a Quick Party

  1. Get some flowers. Flowers (or some type of greenery) makes it feel festive and steps it up a notch. 
  2. Get out something fancy. Whether it is a cake stand, real china, a teapot, whatever...at least have one "real" dish out. Yes, paper plates can be a lifesaver with a crowd, but have at least one piece that classes up the gathering.
  3. Get your treat on. Buy a cake, make some cookies, or even something savory. Who says you can't celebrate with fried chicken or a beautiful salad. Pick something special and unique to the person/thing you are celebrating. 
  4. Get up a decoration or two. Paper Chains, Paper Tassels, or Pendants...it makes no difference what it is. Just hang something up to show that the space is different and that you are ready to celebrate.
  5. Get your stress out. The number one thing in having a party is having fun. Don't worry about it not being perfect. It totally won't be perfect and that is okay. It is about loving the ones that you are with. Enjoy the party and the time with people you like (or maybe love). 

I will leave you with another Mr. Rogers quote. Really because I love him so much.  Mr Rogers and my Nana are who I strive to be every day. But I think this encapsulates what I hope to do here at Posing as Parents and in the world. Maybe this will speak to you too.

As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has—or ever will have—something inside that is unique to all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.
— Mr. Fred Rogers

Thanks for doing our human job with me. I hope that we can do even more for this next year. Thanks for being here and I will see you soon! 

The Skunk Outside

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I was volunteering in my daughter's preschool class the other day and they had a lock down drill. I don't know if you have ever been in a lock down drill or if you know what one is. Basically a lock down drill is when you practice what you would do if there was an intruder, a shooter, or some sort of criminal act. The drill is to go to a safe room and lock all doors and shut the windows tight as you darken the room. I didn't have these drills when I was a child in the 1980's. In Arkansas we had tornado drills and I am suspect that the folder I had to put over my head really would be helpful, but I digress.

We actually had to leave my daughter's classroom, because there are too many windows. The children are targets in this room. So as I walked into the dark room with my daughter and her class and one of the teachers in the "safe" room helped explain why we were there. She quieted her voice and told us to be silent...we didn't want the skunk outside to hear us. She gently told the children that there was a stinky skunk trying to get in and we didn't want him to know where we were so we had to be still and quiet. Some kids laughed, some kids cried, but mostly they were so very quiet. 

These are preschoolers.

A couple of days later there was another school shooting. Another one.

High school students and brave teachers and coaches are gone. They are dead. They went to school on VALENTINE'S DAY and were killed. 

There are no words...just action. I am amazed by the survivors who refuse to be quiet. They are children.  The survivors who will not back down about talking about change...it is not too soon for them...it is indeed too late. These survivors are already talking about gun control. These children are doing things that adults have been too afraid to do...these children have been victims of gun violence (this week mind you) and are currently undergoing a crazy traumatic event and they are already mobilizing and taking action. God bless them. 

No one should have guns that can kill that many people so quickly. No one. Yes, we do need gun control. And yes, we do need to focus on the heroes not the people who do these things. And yes, we do need to provide mental care for people who need it. And yes, we do need to build community. 

Personally, I have connected with my local chapter of Moms Demand Action. You don't need to be a mom to join the group and they don't want to take away your guns. They want common sense gun control. Sign me up! 

And for me, one of the most important things is for me to build community where ever I go. We are connected 24/7 and yet we don't have real connections in our neighborhoods or in our communities.

Honestly, I am just doing my damnedest to be more like Mr. Rogers every day. He had it right...he showed us why we should love our neighborhoods and how we are interconnected, he taught us to love one another, and he taught us that we were valuable...that we all had something to add to our community.  

Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.
— Mr. Fred Rogers

So we have some radical love to share and some major changes in our current legislation that need to happen. Oh, and a bunch of other work. But we have to make a change. We can't send our babies to get an education and have them fear for their lives. And we have learned there is no place safe...not concerts, not malls, not churches, and not at schools. There are too many skunks getting away with too many horrible things. We have to make a change.

Love one another...you know, the really hard ones to love...them too. 

PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Oh, and I actaully love skunks...they are just serving as a metaphor today. 

Won't you be my Neighbor?

Mr. Rogers is my hero. Maybe it is because I grew up watching him (I am cool that dates me). I just love that man. He was kind and inclusive, he was gentle and strong, and most of all he built community with everyone he met...and oh so effortlessly. 

There are few things in this world that I am really sure of being true. (Honestly most of the time when I am REALLY sure about something I am totally in the wrong...it is an embarrassing trait). BUT one thing I believe in my core is that there is a crisis of community. We don't act as community. I am talking more than a political divide...I am talking about neighbors, coworkers, people you see every day...we aren't building the connections that we need as humans. Perhaps in other parts of the world this is not the case, but from my front porch I see the need for community. 

Part of it is that community looks different today. Perhaps we feel like we are really connected because we do Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat/etc. We can see what other people are eating, where they are going, and what they are doing...but does it really mean we are building our tribe? What about talking to your neighbor? Or that stranger sitting next to you? Or the parents you see every day as you pick up your child?

I grew up in a smallish town in Arkansas, I remember being more connected...or at least that is my recollection. My grandparents lived on the same street. I had extended family around and friends we had known forever. I went and played with neighborhood kids who maybe weren't my best friends, but they were kids too and we had fun. I had a church community that we were actively involved. I felt loved and connected...even during the times that were hard. I always thought I had community because I was Southern or because it was a different time. But really, I had community because that is what my family, specifically my Nana, provided for me.

Listen, I am naturally an introvert...it kills me to talk to strangers...small talk is so painful for me. But I have been telling myself that community is important so I have push myself to put myself out there. I say "yes" to neighborhood activities, "yes" to bookclubs, "yes" to being involved. It isn't only good for me, but it is a behavior I feel like I need to model to our children. I want them to have a world that they feel seen, secure, and loved. 

A daily trek to visit the neighbor.

A daily trek to visit the neighbor.

So how can YOU build community? Today let's just start in our hoods. Here are a few ideas:

  • Bring your neighbor a gift. Like your actual neighbor...the people you live near. Bring them treats or flowers or whatever you want and be sure to include a card with your name, the names of the people (and animals) in your family, and your contact information. Your neighbors are the people who are literally the closest to you and you want to get in good with them, whether you just moved in or you have been in the same residence for decades. In my neighborhood we have experienced the joys of birth, the fears of illness, and sadness of death together...over and over again and all the things in between. Being in it together makes it easier. Your neighbors don't have to be your best friend, but the more you get to know them the better your community will be. I mean, unless they are just complete a-holes or weirdos then I am sorry...try further down the block.
  • Volunteer. If you have kids in school or in any kind of care see if you can volunteer. Maybe you work so you can't physically be there, but what can you do outside of school? Can you make play dough for the classroom, prep work for the teacher, or a special project that may need just your personal touch?  If you don't have kids or don't want to volunteer that way, you can volunteer at a local library, religious institution, or a nonprofit. What are the needs in your neighborhood? You are awesome and have talents that only you possess...don't be selfish...share the love.
  • Walk. That's right, get your bootie moving. Guess what? When you are out walking you meet people. When you see someone say "hi" or wave. My husband shared this saying that he heard at some event and I loved it so hard..."Even a dog can wag it's tail." Ain't that truth? So you greet the people you meet! And speaking of dogs...that is a great way to walk and to meet people. You don't have a dog? Borrow a neighbor's dog...help out a neighbor and walk their pooch. Ask them first, clearly, we don't want you to be the weirdo. 
  • Grab a Ball. Get your mind out of the gutter...you do NOT want to meet your neighbors that way...probably. Anywho, go shoot some hoops at the local court or in your driveway, play some soccer at the school yard (when kids are not in school), or grab a trac ball set and have some fun. (Sidenote...my son got a trac ball set for his birthday from a dear friend and he was showing my husband how to use it and my husband already thought he knew how play it so he lobbed the ball right in the nose of our son...it was so horrible/totally funny.) Listen, I am not Sporty Spice, but I can go hang out at the park or maybe play a game of low impact sport. Bottom line is to play a game with someone. Chess is a game and it is portable and you don't even need to be sporty...just do something you can invite someone to join in on. 
  • Lend a Hand. Sure this sounds like volunteering, but this is just helping out your neighbors. Take in trash cans, help them move heavy items, offer to pick something up when you run to the store, if your kids go to the same school offer to carpool, etc. Whatever makes sense for you situation and for your neighbors. Read the room, you have to consider what others want. Make an effort to make a connection. 

Creating a community, finding your tribe, or connecting with your neighbors is good for you, it is good for others, and seriously it makes our world better. So put yourself out there. It costs nothing for you to be kind and the rewards will be plentiful. (I mean, unless I am wrong, because I do feel pretty sure about this.) 

The connections we make in the course of a life—maybe that’s what heaven is.
— Mr. Rogers