a post for the work-from-home parent

I wholeheartedly embrace the fact that I’m a work-from-home parent. I wear my yoga pants more often than not and I hole up in my little office, creating, dreaming, visioning. Rarely do I have an uninterrupted hour to myself because I work is home and home is work (and two little munchkins vie for my attention at all hours of the day).

It’s hard.

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world, even if it does mean that I have to be creative so the fluid boundary lines between motherhood and writing provide a wee little bit of sanity. So, as per the usual, I’ve got some thoughts for those of you who are work-from-home parents, featured last week on For Her. You can check out the first part below or click here to read the full article:

By the end of the day, I could only laugh. A snow day in Seattle and everything—and I mean everything—was canceled. Administrators canceled school. Childcare workers canceled childcare. Community centers canceled playtime. With a 2000-word article and a two-year old who decided to try and potty train himself that day, my sole response was laughter.

Because how am I supposed to get done all that needs to get done when I work from home? Is it legal for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood to babysit my children for upwards of five, six hours on snowed-in days?

I know I’m not alone. Just recently, The New Yorker produced a satire piece on the foibles of working from home, and The New York Times featured a piece on the perks of companies offering flexible work hours for women. For work-at-home mothers, the conversation is critical: How do we successfully navigate the divide between home and work, when work is home, and home is work? We yearn for boundaries, but we don’t necessarily know how to get there without running ourselves into the ground, a basket case of stress by the end of the day.

Eager to read more? With the help of a bunch of work-from-home parents, including the likes of Gretchen Rubin, Shauna Niequist and Anne Bogel, I’ve got eight sanity-saving ideas. Head over to For Her to read the rest!

Otherwise, I sure am grateful for your support of me in the writing journey, so thanks for following along as I direct you here, there and everywhere! 

Hugs and (once again), writerly kisses,

c.

How do you create boundaries as a work-from-home parent? But maybe we should back up: is it even possible to care for children AND work from home? 

are you a draining friend?

Every once in a while, writing opportunities come my way. I don’t have anything to write about THAT subject, I’ll think to myself – and then I press fingers to the keyboard, and a whole lot of words come tumbling out.

Such was the case with this article for iBelieve, where you can now find my words on a monthly basis. So, ever wonder if you might be a draining friend? Click here to read my words, or check out the first part below:

I couldn’t take her “no” for an answer.

Ours was a friendship of convenience: we met one night at a mutual friend’s party, and quickly discovered that we lived blocks away from each other. Soon, every part of our lives revolved around one another’s: we grocery shopped together and we made dinner together. We played games, late into the night, and we watched cheesy reality television together. We traveled together, in car and by plane, meeting one another’s families and entering into one another’s lives.

We were each other’s other. Then I moved six miles south. And I couldn’t understand why a friendship that had seemed so easy mere months before suddenly grew nearly impossible.

So, I hounded her.

I sent multiple texts. I called her repeatedly. I left cupcakes on her doorstep and emails in her inbox. And when she didn’t get back to me, I texted and called and left more cupcakes and emails.

Curious as to the rest of the article? I list seven signs you might be a draining friend, and I’d love to hear your thoughts in response. Click here to head over to iBelieve for the rest of my words.

Otherwise, thanks for grace as I point you here, there and everywhere this week – your support in my writing journey means the world to me!

Hugs and writerly kisses,

xo, c.

So, are you a draining friend? Could my words EVEN be true? Discuss! 

pointing you to She Loves…

One of the greatest gifts of the past couple of years in this writing journey has been getting to be a part of the She Loves community. I write for them monthly as a contributor, and have also been a part of the Red Couch Book Club, their online book club. It’s a “global community of women who love,” and if that’s your jam, join in. 

I’ve got two posts to point you toward, the first of which is a book, the second of which a monthly contributor post.

Ready to dive in?

Let’s go.

Certainly, Prophetic Lament by Soong-Chan Rah hailed as one of the best books I read last year. I featured it in an article just last week, and I got to write about it for the Red Couch Book Club. Click here to read the discussion post, or check out some of my thoughts below:

For a good portion of my life, I didn’t think that lament belonged in the church.

Christians, I believed, were happy-clappy, smiling-all-the-time, “I’ve got the river of life flowing out of me!” type of people. As I’ve written for SheLoves before, the unfortunate result of this misconception was that I didn’t cry for almost seven years.

But then, dam of all dams, I broke. I wailed. I pounded my fists and cried big tears and I began to admit that brokenness existed within me and outside of me, and that this brokenness was not necessarily a bad thing. This brokenness meant that I was letting myself feel the beauty and the pain all around me.

Interested in reading and learning more about the book? Head on over to She Loves and join in the discussion!

But wait – that’s not all! Every month, She Loves features words by a crew of monthly and guest contributors. February’s theme was RISE. Care to read what thoughts came to mind when I heard that phrase? Click here to read my post featured last week, or read an excerpt of the introduction below: .

Michelle Obama said it this past summer: When they go low, we go high. Heads nodded and hands clapped and tears rolled down the cheeks of many, as we stood in solidarity.

“Lena,” one of the moms on ABC’s The Fosters, said it this way: Sometimes the best way to fight back, is to rise above. Her foster daughter took her words to heart—ignoring the taunts and jeers and general mean-spiritedness of her peers, and walked to the front of the stage.

And Isaiah breathed this truth to the country of Judah: You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Because when the peace of the Holy descends in heart and mind and soul, a general rising-up occurs.

Curious as to the rest of the post? Head on over to She Loves Magazine if you haven’t already!

Otherwise, I’m grateful for your support of my words. Over the next couple of days, I’ll be pointing you here and there around the inter webs, as quite a bit has been published lately. But I promise, I’ll be back with original posts soon!

Hugs and writerly kisses,

xo, c.

So, Prophetic Lament: have you read it? Otherwise, what comes to mind when you hear or read the word RISE? 

let’s talk about death, baby.

I never thought I’d find myself writing about death, at least not in such a public space. But, as entering into conversations of death has become somewhat of a weekly norm in our house, I’ve found myself in a new place.

So, today, I’m excited to have my first piece up at CT Women, which also happens to be a piece that points to talking to my kids about death. I know it’s a week of pointing you here, there and everywhere around the inter webs, but that’s sometimes how it goes when various articles all seem to run at once.

Click here to read the article in its entirety, or check out the first two paragraphs below:

Conversations about death have become the weekly norm in our house.

This hasn’t always been the case, of course. It started last March when our family of four flew on a small regional jet from Jackson, Mississippi, to Atlanta, Georgia. Upon landing, my husband, James, did what any normal person would do on his or her birthday: He powered on his iPhone and opened up Facebook, expecting comments and well wishes of another year lived to the fullest. But none of us—not him, not me, not our sons, and certainly not the 40 other passengers on the plane—expected his tears.

Curious as to what happened next? Click here to read the rest.

(Also, this article was, of course, published with permission from the HBH (Hot Black Husband), and we appreciate your support as we make public the things that are sometimes hard to digest).

Happy reading!

xo, c.

So, how do YOU talk to your kids about death? No matter their ages, how do you broach the subject? 

when justice is delayed.

Oftentimes, I feel like I’m catching up on all the history I neglected to put to memory in Mr. Backlund’s 11th grade history class. 

It was my privilege not to know, not to have to remember, not to think that the events of our past have anything to do with the events of today. But, just like you, I’m learning and growing and changing – and the article I want to point you to today proves just that.

Head over to For Every Mom and read about how it took 39 years for justice to come for the four little girls killed in the Birmingham church bombing. Otherwise, you can read a little bit here:

Cynthia Wesley. Carole Robertson. Addie Mae Collins. Denise McNair.

Chances are, you’ve never heard their names. But we should all KNOW them, and make them known. They are American martyrs, children killed by adults filled with hate.

***

On the morning of September 15, 1963, less than a month after Martin Luther King Jr. led more than 250,000 people in a march on Washington, DC, the phone rang off the hook at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The southern town had seen its share of violence during the Civil Rights Movement – after all, in this hotbed of segregation, the Ku Klux Klan, a morally corrupt government, and the voices of whites with deeply rooted Confederate ties called the shots. But the church secretary and her junior assistant, Carolyn, couldn’t figure out why callers kept hanging up, menacing voices threatening to bomb the church.

Then the phone rang one last time.

Curious as to the rest of the story? Head over to For Every Mom to read more about Cynthia, Carole, Addie Mae and Denise.

Because, y’all: it’s an honor to learn. 

xo, c.

What stories of America’s past are you still learning today? How does hearing the first name of those young girls killed change YOU?

Reading for Change: The Death of Race (week 2)

 There are some books that get me right where I need to get gotten. 

Brian Bantum’s The Death of Race is one such book. What does it mean to explore Christianity and faith and theology not in a world divided by issues of race, but in a racialized world? How do we then still see and appreciate and value the differences alive within one another, and begin to embody a new story altogether?

I’d quote the entire book to you if I could, but I won’t. Instead, I’ve got three nuggets for you to chew on – words that changed me, and that I hope encourage you to pick up and read through the book on your own.

“Retracing our beginnings is a kind of resistance” (26). For Bantum, embracing his black heritage was key to his growth as an individual and as a Christian. It’s easy to live unexamined from our cultural backgrounds, but to truly embrace the stories that make us us, means that we are fully participating in resistance (and many of us, I dare say, find ourselves in places of holy resistance now). We’re going against the status quo. We’re challenging assumed narratives. We’re moving forward in a new light, as new people.

“We are formed by a society’s assumptions, by the neighborhoods we grow up in, by the ways people see us, and the way we see them” (53). I’m going to go all teacher on you, but break the sentence up: what assumptions has society made on you? How did the neighborhood you grew up in form you? And how did the way people see you and the way you see others form you? None of us are individuals on an island, but part and parcel, we are formed by the world around us.

“Whether in the bodies and lives of women subjected to the terror of male power or to a nation that gives itself over to idols, Israel’s God redeems through the curious body, the foreign woman, the prostitute, the prophet, the foreign kind, a teenage girl in a poor colonized town. God redeems by coming near” (77). Do you not want to sit in Bantum’s class and learn from him? Can you imagine the passion with which he teaches his students about God Come Near? As his book continues, our stories further weaves with God’s story, and with his love of all, no matter the color of their skin.

Courtesy of @brianbantum on Twitter.

If you’re a theology nerd in need of a book that deals with issues of faith and race, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.

Otherwise, whether you’re a blogger or a reader, leave a comment (with link to your review) in the section below. I can’t wait to read your thoughts! Up next week: Beloved by Toni Morrison. It’s been on my list to read forever, because, it’s about time. 

Happy reading!

So, what’d you think? The Death of Race: like it, love it, want some more of it? 

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honoring the stories of others.

Photo of Josh McPaul & Riana Robinson, by Danielle Lane.

One of the greatest gifts of writing is getting to tell and honor the stories of other people. And, generally speaking, the people I write about also happen to be my friends, so it’s a win-win to listen to the narrative of their lives and show them off through an article here or there.

We miss Oakland something fierce, but getting to see the faces of Josh and Riana (as pictured above), reminds me that we landed there for a specific reason, purpose and time. I’m grateful for their influence in our lives, and today, I’m especially grateful for how my friendship with Riana made me a better person.

Head over to Christianity Today for the full story, or read the first few paragraphs right here:

Sometimes God makes himself most known in the in-between moments of our lives—in times of uncertainty, tension, or waiting. This has certainly been true for Riana Shaw Robinson, a mother, wife, pastor, and seminary student from the San Francisco Bay Area. And my guess is that you’ve experienced this, too.

Born in Richmond, California, Robinson grew up in the church, but met God for the first time as a pregnant 15-year-old. Although she experienced intense feelings of fear, guilt, shame, and isolation, she felt God telling her to trust him. And it was there, in the depths and darkness of the in-between, that Riana was restored by the love, acceptance, and care of her family and community.

“Each year on my daughter’s birthday,” Robinson told me, “I am overcome with emotion as I remember all of the ways that I have [experienced] and continue to experience God’s grace, mercy, love, and provision.” Not only did the Spirit provide her with unexplainable peace during that uncertain time, he also changed the trajectory of her life by giving her a heart for coming alongside people who feel disconnected and unworthy.

Eager for the rest of Riana’s story? It’s pretty inspiring, to say the least. Head on over there, and give her some encouragement!

Otherwise, might your ears be attune to the narratives of your friend’s lives, as you enter in and listen for threads of inspiration.

xo, c.

Know Riana? Encourage her by sharing today’s article! Otherwise, how does her story inspire you? Also, if you know any women leaders in the church I should interview, shoot me a message! 

 

Reading for Change: Locomotion (week 1)

Gush, gush. 

My inner poet screams when I read the words of Jacqueline Woodson. It screamed last year with Brown Girl Dreamingand it screamed last week with Locomotionand it screamed two days later when I read the follow-up to the first, Peace, Locomotion

Now, hear me out: but for her newest read, Woodson is a children’s writer. Should you choose to read them as intended – aloud, as a piece of poetry – they might take you a couple of hours to get through; but if you just read them, it only takes the average reader a little over an hour to devour (or so says the reading tracker on Kindle).

Regardless, this time around, Woodson weaves the story of a young boy, Locomotion (short for Lonnie Collins Motion), who lost his parents in a fire, and finds himself in the New York state foster system. He misses his sister, who’s with another family, but as he begins to lean into life with his new mama and older brothers, he comes to life through poetry. 

Writers, after all, write about what they know – and Jacqueline Woodson knows poetry. I can see this being the perfect fit for a poetry unit in a middle grade classroom, but it’s also a cozy winter read.

Whatever it is for you, I’ve got three favorite lines of poetry for you:

Writing makes me remember.
It’s like my whole family comes back again
when I write. All of them right
here like somebody pushed the Rewind button

Was it a big sacrifice to give up your life
if you knew you was gonna rise back up?
I mean, isn’t that like just taking a nap?

This day is already putting all kinds of words
in your head
and breaking them up into lines
and making the lines into pictures in your mind
And in the pictures the people are
laughing and frowning and
eating and reading and
playing ball and skipping along and…

spinning themselves into poetry.

Like I said, gush, gush. Just as we all need to slow down with a little bit of poetry in our lives, we all need a little bit of Jacqueline Woodson’s storytelling ways in our lives.

Pick up Locomotion if you haven’t already. Give it a quick read-aloud and see if the kid in you comes alive once again.

Otherwise, whether you’re a blogger or a reader, leave a comment (with link to your review) in the section below. I can’t wait to read your thoughts! Up next week: The Death of RaceAnd people, it’s phenomenal.

Happy reading!

So, what’d you think? Locomotion: like it, love it, want some more of it? 

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a story of a 7 on the Enneagram

If you’ve studied behavior or personality tests, you may nod your head when it comes to today’s story. I’m a seven on the Enneagram, which means that I love life! I love exclamation points! When I’m in a healthy spot, joy abounds and beauty is found all around me.

But getting there is not the easiest thing for me, because I’m prone to overextending myself, to a scattered disposition, to flying by the seat of my pants.

So, I’m learning, as always, and I’ve got some words up at The Mudroom for you today all about it:

I want it all.

I want to do it all, I want to have it all, I want to be it all.

The problem, of course, exists in the fact that not only is this way of thinking absolutely impossible, but it’s also wholly unrealistic and unhealthy. So, I’m learning, as a late thirty-something year old woman, to set boundaries. I’m learning to say no once again and I’m learning that in order for me to see and relish and believe in the Beauty existent all around me, I have to listen to my insides.

And I have to stop and do some navel gazing of my own.

Perhaps you’re a little bit like me: a Seven on the Enneagram, an ENFP on the Myers-Briggs chart. I relish in a full schedule, in appointments and meetings and assignments – but as much as I love the look of business, of the aforementioned “all,” when I neglect to leave room in my life for quiet, for rest, for slow, stress and anger rear their ugly heads.

Have no fear – the rest of the story can be found HERE Thanks for your support of my writing journey!

Otherwise, what number are you on the Enneagram? What personality type do you call yourself from the Myers-Briggs assessment? And WHAT, say you, have you learned about yourself along the way? 

What’s saving YOUR life right now?

Answer me nowwwwwwww.

Tell us what is saving your life right now. 

Author Barbara Brown Taylor writes about this directive in her memoir, Leaving Churchwhen she was invited to speak on that very topic.

I mean, it’s something I’d love to speak on the next time I stand in front of a group of people, but for now, you, my dear readers, are sufficient enough.

Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy poses this question to her readers annually, and today’s the day we get to answer it. So, tell me, what is it for you? What’s saving your life right now?

I’ve got ten things that are saving mine…

1. Free childcare at the grocery store. Some people say that you should do all of your grocery shopping in one big trip, once a week, but let me ask you: why not do your grocery shopping three or four or five times a week when the store offers free childcare? The childcare workers love my boys. My boys love the childcare workers. I love ninety minutes of solo writing and shopping time. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

2. A sugar-free diet. I know. What’s happening to me? First gluten, now sugar – but friends, the results have been off-the-charts phenomenal; the inflammation in my back went away overnight. I’m still experimenting to see what I can and can’t have, but for the most part, cutting refined sugar out of my diet has been my body’s ticket to success.

You will call me Professor Meredith!

3. Being back in the classroom. As most of you know, I picked up a class teaching research paper writing to international students last month. This much is true: I love teaching. Standing in front of a classroom, getting to know a group of sixteen individuals, talkin’ writing and reading – love, love, love. (The grading, the grade book system and the traffic, I do not love, for your information).

4. No alcohol. I KNOW. I know, I know, I know. I’ve had one glass of wine in the last month, because along with cutting out refined sugar, I decided to see if cutting out alcohol – which naturally has a whole lot of sugar in it – did the trick. And, somehow, it seems to be helping. Say it ain’t so! 

5. Reading The Skimm every morning. One of my goals in the new year was to be “up” on the news even more; especially when it comes to writing and publishing in the online world, you have to know what’s going on in the world. That’s what people want to read. That’s what editors want you to connect the dots with. So, every morning, between my Jesus book and my cup of coffee, I get my unbiased read on, and I read The Skimm (which I’m loving and highly recommend).

Yup, totally my new hipster jam.

6. Mason jar salads. Is every other item going to be food-related? Yes, apparently. It’s the year of health, mostly to get All Things Back figured out so I can live without pain – so one of the things I’ve been incorporating into my diet, along with no alcohol, sugar and gluten, is lots and lots of greens. Every Sunday, I put together a batch of five Mason jar salads. Not only am I so very hipster, but I’m loving having salads ready and waiting for consumption.

7. Yoga. I have dreams of being Super Bendy Girl, but according to my physical therapist that will not be happening any time soon if I continue the current trajectory of stiff muscles and joints. So, I’m listening to my body and doing yoga every night; for the record, I am really, really good at Child’s Pose and really, really bad at most everything else.

8. Sitting on the floor with my boys for 15 minutes every night. I featured the article here last week, but it’s true: choosing to tune in to our children for what ultimately amounts to 15 minutes every night (before they get bored and move on to playing with each other), is saving my relationship with my boys. And you guys, I’ve found that I’m actually kind of fun to play with. Who knew?

9. Team Shalom. Y’all, along with the brain child of the Shalom in the City operation, Osheta Moore, there is a fantastic group of women who’ve come together to make Hopeful Resistance a reality. I can’t wait for the new season of the podcast to air (which starts in less than a month), and love where and how we’re moving forward in the new year. Stay tuned! 

Has Help Everyday Cara = Happy Cara

10. Making sure I have help, everyday. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but I’m a better mom when I get time away from my children. On average, I only have about 15 hours of childcare a week – but those 15 hours are gold to me. Additionally, in this season of travel for the HBH’s (Hot Black Husband’s) work, I’m learning that I have to line up some form of help, be it a babysitter/nanny, childcare at the grocery store, a friend coming over for dinner, so that I’m not depleted at the end of the day – or by the end of his time away. It takes a village!

So, that’s it. That’s a short list of what’s saving my life right now – and you know I can’t wait to hear yours. Also, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s site to read how other bloggers are answering this question, too.

xo, c.

What is it for you? What’s saving your life right now? What of the above just tickles your fancy? Engage, engage, engage! 

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