feel the light…

December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to you all…hoping a kind light finds you and those you love this night.

I am so very grateful for your care, joy and love for me and my family this year, your kindness changes everything…may it be returned ten fold.

 

love,

patience

 

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we are connected…

December 16, 2011

“I thought when you girls grew up you would just have happily ever after sort of lives…” my mom said on the phone one day. “I didn’t think you would have struggles, I just never thought about it I guess. Nobody tells you that…” she went on…

And then it occurred to me, I felt the same way. I never imagine my children will grow up to face hard things. It sounds almost silly to say it out loud because of course they will…but somewhere, somehow, maybe I thought I was carrying it so they wouldn’t have to. That if I tried so hard…to figure it out, to lay a path of love that they could just walk it with no harm to any part of their minds and hearts.

The ridiculous thoughts of mothers…even mothers that know there is great beauty and love in hardship, that finding our way through pain helps us really see the world and know we are alive, that kindness can find us anywhere, that each step, even the screwed up ones take us to a new place of understanding, that our joys are as great as our sorrows, that this is the human condition, that this is where we find and hold the light.

Then a few days later while putting up Christmas lights, Christmas magic descended on this mother…Lucy gave me a new perspective, something else to hold on to.

She will often randomly wish me a “Merry Christmas MOM!”, while brushing her teeth, or eating an apple or right before she shuts the car door to go to school…I wonder why we all don’t do this, like everyday of December is Christmas.

While we were stringing lights, just she and I in the dark one night, her Merry Christmas struck again.

“Merry Christmas Mom! The lights, the tree, the snow, the hot chocolate, the sledding, the love…Merry Christmas for ALL of it mom!” she proclaimed.

“Oh Luce…what a girl you are.” I replied.

“We are so connected mom.” she said very matter-of-factly while she fed me the strand of lights and I wrapped the tree.

I thought she meant the lights, my literal-teacher mind kicked in, but I threw in the deep, you know, just because that’s where I live in my head.

“We are, aren’t we? In so many ways.” I answered.

“We ARE mom, we are so connected, even in trouble, even when I have trouble! We are connected right?” she said.

“It’s true. Especially then.” I said.

And it was clear, there is no protection from life, even she knows that…but there is a love that can buoy us…and there is a shout of a Merry Christmas in the most mundane moments…

there is a place…

there is a way…

that we are all connected.

I never even asked her what her last name was. I was so lost in her story and the bright light and kindness in her eyes.

“People need to know Patience, especially black women, HIV is still out there, they need to hear our story…we need to take care of each other. Women are afraid, they are scared….especially black women, they don’t have to be afraid, this is my life. I have to keep growing, we can’t stop living because we are HIV positive…”

We sat on a cozy plaid couch in a quiet room at the Fan Free Clinic. If we had a cup of tea, it would have felt like we were in her living room but it was the testing and counseling room. I thought of all the men and women, families, mothers that had sat on that couch, alone or with hands clenched tight with a loved one, waiting to find out if HIV would now be part of their lives and future.

Darlene told me how she prayed while she sat crying on a brick wall at 3am by herself one night,  hearing the police coming, not knowing they were coming for her.

“I prayed to God, ‘Please God, please take this taste from my mouth, please, if you do, I’ll never do drugs again’. God bless those police, they took me in.”

After that night, Darlene spent 2 years in a city jail and graduated after 2 years in drug court, a program designed to helps folks struggling with addiction. It was during her drug court time that she found out she was HIV positive. Shortly after she found her way to the support and love of the Fan Free Clinic.

I was struck by her gentle strength and resolve. I asked her how she found her way through.

“This is not a death threat…I still can love you and you can still love me…I cry a lot, I pray to God, ‘It’s just you and me with this virus…I am gonna love on people’. You don’t have to be alone with this virus, just hold on – Life is gonna still be there- and you just gotta love on people…I am still here.”

HIV is still here.

Darlene is still here.

Life is still here.

And love is at the bottom of everything.

I couldn’t help but think of all the people that are still searching for what Darlene knows, all the women and men that have yet to discover what real love looks and feels like it, how it can heal your soul…and all the women that Darlene is holding in her heart, the women she hopes will hear her story,  those at risk with new and stronger strains of HIV finding it’s way back into ALL of our lives and communities, whole groups of people forgotten… it is time for us to remember.

I am so honored that I will get to stand next to Darlene and so many others on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2011. I would like to invite you to join me for this amazing act of kindness on us all.

From http://www.RVARemembers.com:

 On December 1, 2011, something truly breathtaking in its simplicity and power is going to happen in Richmond, Virginia. At precisely 12 o’clock, 400 red umbrellas will pop open on an island in the James River to symbolize a recommitment to education and prevention and hope. At that exact moment Richmond will lead the Commonwealth and the nation in saying, “30 years is simply too long.” We will remind our neighbors near and far that the fight is not yet won and that complacency and indifference are taking precious lives. At precisely 12:00 o’clock, we will unite, reinvigorated, in the battle against HIV/AIDS.

If you would like to know more about purchasing an umbrella, volunteering or even just standing with us, visit RVARemembers or follow all the latest on the Facebook and Twitter pages.

a turkey love bomb

I looked at the archives… “Do you know I’ve been ‘tired and overwhelmed’ in the November posts for like 6 YEARS?!!”  I told him. “I’m sorry, THAT must have been exhausting for you.”

But can we help it really? The season is beginning, it is equal parts overwhelming and wonderful. I have dear memories of cooking many a Thanksgiving turkey with my sisters and mom (we always named the bird) and at the same time being so very fried, me, not the turkey. We have so many expectations around the holidays and lots of family goodness and dysfunction, and a helluva lot of work. We want it to be special and meaningful (dare I say, magical?) and I can’t even imagine how the retail folk feel at the end…I wondered if there was a mission in the middle of all that somewhere…for everyone.

So Lyra and I went into our local grocery store and post-it/kindness bombed it…with all the things I could imagine that mothers, friends, stock boys/girls, the last minute Melvins may need to hear…or know. We thought you may like to join us.

It’s pretty simple, here goes:

1. Grab a pad of post-its.

2. Write encouraging messages to harried mothers, tired checkout girls and strung out foodies…any kind message will do.

I am grateful for all you do.

You can skip something, the holiday will still be sweet.

Your mashed potatoes are the best I’ve ever had, thanks for making them every year.

All the little things you do matter.

It’s only one meal with your crazy family, you can do it.

Your turkey will be FANTASTIC! ( and not dry at all)

3. Take the pad to your local grocery store and stealthily leave them all over the store- extra points for iphone pics. Or just tell us what city and store has been kindness bombed and we’ll mark it off the list.

4. You have from now until Thanksgiving day and send pics to patience@kindnessgirl.com or post them on our Guerrilla Goodness Facebook page.

I can’t wait to see your holiday kindness in the midst of love and craziness and a mean green bean supreme!

Please share this link on Facebook and let’s see how many stores we can hit!

kindness changes everything…

November 10, 2011

Feeling so fragile these days…that usually happens when something is changing in me, or I see something I haven’t really noticed before…about myself, about the world.

So now, more than ever I see…

how much I still struggle wanting to be something I am not…

how all this is so much more than a project or missions…(even though those things are really, really good)

how I have a hard time defining or explaining any of it, because it is so deep…I usually just start to cry.

how at every turn I realize how deeply kindness has me which can be equally parts torturing and amazing…

some times I wish it was just something small, something simple, made for mass appeal, but it’s just not, I am not…

how this call is everything…

how i know on every level that kindness changes everything, but I didn’t realize all along, kindness is changing me.

 

…and all of that is really good, but feels a little hard today

your kind thoughts would be appreciated…

from the water she came…

November 7, 2011

The family love was thick that night…no one wanting to miss one single moment. I was touched by her grace, his great love, the delight of her sisters, her powerful entrance into the world from the water…it was beautiful. Thank you Monique and family for allowing me to capture it…

you can see the rest of this sweet, sweet birth here…thanks so much to Monique for being willing to share.

this week…

November 6, 2011

well, last week, but you know…

spoken words of truth, dancing, kind notes, long days waiting for a very loved papa, saying goodbye…

Can you do something for me this week? If you are doing or have done some kind of kindness as a result of something on KindnessGirl, can you tell me what city you are in (in the comment section)? You don’t even have to tell me what, just the city is fine (but we love a good story if you have the time! :)) I’m trying to figure out how far and wide we are spreading this work…and kindness. Have a wonderful week!