YOU /yoo,y / e
HUMANITY INTERACTIONS & LIVING
TA B L E O F CONTENTS H U M A N IT Y
M AGA Z I N E
BLUE HOUSE pg. 14
about the cover: a group of women who mean a lot to a lot of people.
04 08 16 22 26
WOW MOM Heather Neisen Are you my enemy? Mele Girma I Couldn’t Until I Did Jamie Cox Lost & Found Cassidy Mueting
I am not the hero I expect myself to be Kelsey Williams
32 38 42 48
I Am The Future Tabitha Barbe
feature 03 pg. 37
The Quite One Katherine Amidon Doing Your Thang Lisa Crowe Pretending To Be Somebody Sarah Robinson
Heather Neisen, Mele Grima, Jamie Cox, Cassidy Mueting, Sarah Robinson, Kelsey Williams, Lisa Crowe, Katherine Amidon, Tabitha Barbe, Bailey Shannon, Adriana Arthur, Jadonna Robinson, Abby Hodgkinson, Jadonna Keim, Bailey Shannon, Clint Kearney, Amanda Moore, Mr. Rogers, Emily Kinney’s parents.
slow to listen quick to speak
you /yoo,y / pronoun e
“Not me.” Also used in exclamations to address one or more people, “you fools.”
As people we are often quick to speak and slow to listen. We live teleological lives and we let few things slow us down. Let us vow to be for people and their stories. To be quick to listen and slow to speak. To rejoice in expression. To look not just with our eyes and hear not just with our ears. Let us take an active role in an on going narrative of the human experience. So, here’s to you.
Iss. No. 4 is dedicated to the innocence and energy of summer nights in the midwest
The stories you will encounter as you continue reading are stories of authenticity. The women who chose to share their voices are both a reflection of you and of things you may not understand or have yet to encounter. I asked them to answer the question, “what is it like to be you?” As a purposefully open-ended question, there is potential for a million different answers, and I am pleased to share with you what they each took that question to mean. I think sometimes you have to see someone do something before you can understand it or even do it yourself. The times in which my story doesn’t work are times when I am not true to myself. Instead, I am being who I think I should be. When I see other people living as their truest selves, it helps me understand more of life. I’m thankful for the people who are willing to share both the bad and good, the hard and easy, and the dark and light. These women represent a small part of the lives we share. I want to hear and join stories of all the peoples who make up the world. There are other narratives and experiences I hope to tell on a not-so-far-off day. Maybe the story of you. “...I wonder what you’ve known and what you feel, what you’ve found and lost and hoped for. Perhaps there’s still time, time for things to turn around, time for us to be surprised. Perhaps there’s still a lot of beauty to be found here, and good people too.” - Jamie Tworkowski We will only know if that’s true (and I know it is) if you will share what it’s like to be you.
by Heather Neisen
t’s not the load that weighs you down; it’s the way you carry it.” –C.S. Lewis
The phrase “important work” rolls around in my head constantly. Up until a few years ago I assumed that important work was confined to the stuff of business suits and boardrooms. I have always been drawn to the professional aesthetic – important, successful, envied, powerful. I cut my hair, applied far too much eye makeup, and suffered five inch heels all to make my 5’0” self come across as professional and worthy of doing important work. I am a proud, full-time working mom of two lovely girls and wife to a caring and supportive husband. I thoroughly enjoy the mental challenge of working and the fact that my family is financially dependent on me. Time and time again, I have beaten myself up over thinking that I am doing things wrong. In moments of weakness (particularly when in a group of other moms who all do not go to work every day), I’ve felt HUM
loads of self-pity and craved accolades for what I’ve chosen to do. In these moments of feeling stuck, I just kept thinking how unfair it is that important work has such a limited meaning. So, I started jotting notes here and there. I hope you find some comfort in my thoughts and words.
February 2016 On February 6, 2016 I realized that “important work” was not confined to the four walls of a boardroom. Suddenly, “important work” was happening within the four walls of a hospital room. “Where are you, sweetie? Will you stay inside of me forever?” was my new internal monologue and it was drowning out my past. I winced as a blood pressure cuff squeezed my right arm again and again. Penicillin burned my left arm. My stomach growled for food. My body had no strength, but the nurses told me to prepare to push. Days merged together. I do not recall the
exact sequence, but the seconds before my daughter arrived, the doctor turned her head around inside of me and she finally emerged into this strange world without a sound at all. My husband and I wept and wept. She arrived! She was alive! Her rosy cheeks and her calm demeanor. This (had to be) the most important work. Every inch of my body was exhausted. Feeding her with milk that my body created. Aching, fatigued, hurting, and humbled. Important work, indeed.
March 2016 Six weeks of holding and feeding
“It’s not the load that weighs you down; it’s the way you carry it.” - C.S. Lewis and breathing in a precious human. Important work. Week 7. Back in work clothes that fit awkwardly. Working. Like nothing ever happened to me or my body. Like 4/52
a 10lb human doesn’t depend on me for her nourishment. Acting like I didn’t just leave my baby at daycare in the arms of relative strangers who clearly care about her. Will she grow up knowing I just left her at daycare all day? But I am with her all night and each morning and all weekend. Who cares, line items on paper don’t have emotions or a mortgage or a family. Now you need to cut costs. Just let some people go. Hearty laughter. 3-1 = profit. Important work. You are saving your company; you are managing the P&L. You are strong and capable and depended upon. Welcome back. Solve our challenges. You are now debt free and are leaving a legacy for your family. Important work.
4:30 a.m. awake, eating cereal. 15 months later. Toddler still sleeping. Preparing a presentation for a client. Yoga for turning another baby around. Grimacing as body parts press against nerve endings. Sharp pains in the back. Turning, turning baby so she comes out correctly. Contractions during leadership meetings. This is important work. Hold each in balance.
March 2018 Six weeks of holding and feeding and breathing in this second precious human. Important work. Week 7 again. The grind returns. Sobbing. I cannot do this again. Husband holding me. Monday night – four full work days to go. A two year old. A two month old. Pumping, nursing, working, responsible. Diﬃcult work. Discipline hourly. Never holding either baby enough.
October 2016 Landed a new job. Margins are shifting and turning and proportions and perspectives are wildly holding their breath as we see what new rhythms will be. A week of goodbye and a lifetime ahead. More time with the baby. More growth for my brain. Feast on rest. Be nourished. This is important work.
this is T a b i t h a
Making up bedtime stories and silly songs. Important work.
MAY 2018 3:30 a.m. awake. Nursing. How did I fall asleep? When did I come to bed? How is there a nursing pillow ready for me to use right now? So tired, but sheâ€™s eating. She goes limp from satisfaction and relaxation. Itâ€™s all so beautiful. Despite all the strain. My baby can survive off of my body. So lucky. Such important work.
AUGUST 2018 Four cities in t wo weeks . Airplanes. Logistics. C o m p e t e n c y. Successful project management; praise from clients. Creating successful relationships and partnerships. Watching every TSA agent handle breast milk differently. Rolling my eyes. Paying my mortgage. This is important work.
A lot of people still expect women to be stay-at-home moms. Heather is a provider and a mom. She does important work.
u o y e r a ARE YOU MY ? y m e n e y m ENEMY? by Mele Girma
or the past three summers, a caravan of pals and I made the pilgrimage from Nashville to Chicago for the Pitchfork Music Festival. It’s a tradition I excitedly anticipate each year, dancing carefree to the music of Sufjan Stevens, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Solange, Anderson Paak, Blood Orange, Noname, and more. It’s a healing time. Late one night last summer, my friends and I walked from Union Park, lazily crossing the Michigan Ave bridge to wait for our ride down by the water. Gleaming in the night sky, a chrome and overcompensating Tr*mp Tower loomed above us. Pedestrians criss-crossed directions as they passed and paused to take photos. What happened next spanned five seconds. I glanced up at the tower and in a knee-jerk rage, raised a gentle middle finger and continued walking. Hurrying towards me was an old white man — wearing white shorts, a white polo, white shoes and socks, and a white visor — who leaned in close and whispered gruﬄy, “I saw that.” Then in the rush of the crowd, he was gone. My stomach dropped. I shook, cemented to the sidewalk. I was dizzy with fear, anger, embarrassment. After a few seconds, I headed down the steps to the pier and fumbled to share the encounter with my friends. Half laughing at the absurdity of the interaction, half shaking, I began to cry. Their words were assuring but their eyes were questioning — Do you think you’re overreacting, Mele? I return to and try to parse out this memory often. Why did I react so strongly? I replay those five seconds and meditate on the ambivalence of the comment. I saw that. Was he for me or against me? My gut said against. My gut knew better. Who
barges at a girl that way not trying to intimidate? What white stranger tells a black stranger his eyes are on her, if not to police her actions? To identify himself as civilian surveillance? I tell the more forgiving corner of my mind this was not some clumsy nod of solidarity. The words weren’t innocuous. He knew the intended effect. The anonymity was the most unnerving part: how he disappeared into the crowd while the sunken feeling lingered. This interaction widens and the feeling of being watched from all angles expands, like zooming out on an online map. The morning after the 2016 election, I skipped class and took a long walk to lament and pray. Watching strangers on the street, I thought about all of the people who voted, all of the strangers who signed off on this. Who threw my Black body to the wolves? To every white stranger on the street came the passing thought — Do you hate me, too? Are you my enemy? These things I’m (still) struggling to understand are made more clear in the words of others. Where my tendency had been to self-gaslight (a toxic mental gymnastics I am condemning and unlearning), their reflections make me feel less alone, they stabilize and sacredize. My anxieties are not unfounded. Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah’s acute awareness and placement of self in her piece “A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof ” is a thing of art. Sitting in the pews of Roof ’s childhood church, she notes: This black body of mine cannot be furtive. It prevents me from blending in. I cannot observe without being observed. And Teju Cole, following the infamous Starbucks incident, on the impossibility of Black flanerie:
this is M e l e
On the face of it, it’s inconsequential.…It happened on an
ordinary day in an ordinary place. But that’s also the reason it stings: precisely because of that ordinariness. … We are not safe even in the most banal place. We are not equal even in the most common circumstances. We are always five minutes away from having our lives upended. Racism is not about actively doing stuff to you all the time — it’s also about passively keeping you on tenterhooks. For blacks in white terrain, all spaces are charged. … We wander alert, and pay a heavy psychic toll for that vigilance. Can’t relax, black. I’m still learning the ways of peace, embodiment, and selfcare beneath the weight of wandering alert. When I am able, I deliberately choose to enter spaces where I feel seen, not watched, dancing carefree on the grounds of a public park, being healed. And — “Do you belong? I do, I do.”
Mele feels the most herself when she has the opportunity to serve others.
by Bailey Shannon
ithout much backstory, in June 2016 I moved to Indianapolis. Through a series of events and connections, my friends and I founded a community house - the Blue House - in a very tight-knit and active community called Englewood on the Near Eastside of Indianapolis. Most of the people who attend Englewood Christian Church intentionally live in the neighborhood and work together. The people of Englewood welcomed us into their congregation and neighborhood. I immediately started working as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at a local non profit and as HUM
a barista at the neighborhood coffee shop. I volunteered with a local community-based art initiative, just a few blocks from my house. I could walk or bike to both work and church and I knew all my neighbors. Our house practiced radical hospitality and intentional community. My five housemates were thoughtful, funny, loving people who I adored and looked up to. We had a big garden and a chicken coop and a peach tree and a clothes line. We had an indoor and outdoor cat, Casimir and Djohariah, plus a lot of strays who wandered our neighborhood. 14/52
OUR HOUSE P R ACT I C E D
C O M M U N I T Y.
I had never really felt like I had a “home” until I landed at the Blue House. Motivated by the radical love and generosity of the the Way of Jesus, united by our mission to live purposefully in our neighborhood and love our neighbors, and connected to the larger church and community, the Blue House was and is deeply rooted.
We had a number of guests stay with us for a short periods of time, each person working through their unique hard stuff that life threw at them. Whether it was simply needing a safe place to sleep for a little while to recovering from substance abuse, or a traveling musician taking a break from tour to a summer intern working in the neighborhood, all of our guests added to the vibrant and full life that existed inside the Blue House.
I lived in the Blue House for two years. And in August 2018, I knew the time had come for me to move on. I had been prompted, nudged, and gathered up. In January, I met an incredible person who I quickly fell in love with and by the end of the summer we had the opportunity to move into another community house in a different part of town. While it was extremely difficult to leave the Blue House and the Near Eastside, I knew that it was the Next Best Thing and I had to follow the current of the Great Spirit.
Neighbors were constantly in and out of the house, sharing stories and food, leaning into one another’s lives in a way that could seem invasive and unconventional. It was definitely an uncommon way to live -- we never locked our doors, we shared food and contributed monthly to the grocery fund, and anyone could join us for dinner even at a minute’s notice.
So, here I am, the last day of September, assessing where I am at in life. I am living in another community, called the Flying Squirrel. This time I am with my partner, sharing life together in an intimate and significant way. We still don’t lock our doors and anyone and everyone shows up at any given time to share stories and food. It’s familiar. And for now, it’s home.
R A D I CA L H O S P I TA L I T Y AND INTENTIONAL
5 TH I NGS I LEARNED FROM LIVI NG I N COM M U N ITY
don’t take things so stinking personally. no matter how much you prepare, something will go wrong. you can be introverted and live in community. you’ll realize that you are just as annoying as everyone else. you have the opportunity to know someone well enough to love and support them in little and meaningful ways, like packing their lunch in the morning.
by Jamie Cox
I I shaved my head.
n February 2018, I left my oﬃce for lunch and came back a different person. I didn’t have some dramatic social interaction or a near-death experience.
After years of debate and months of walking to the same barber, sitting down in the salon chair, and suddenly having a change of heart - “Just a trim!” I’d say when the stylist asked, “What are we doing today?” I finally committed. 50% motivated by curiosity (what does my head look like?), 40% motivated by New Year’s resolutions (“I’m not going to spend time on things I don’t care about”), and 10% motivated by pure adrenaline, I strolled into the barber shop, plopped into a chair, and proclaimed, “Shave it!” I grew up in a rural community in Indiana and I’m one of three daughters of a farmer and a librarian. I’ve always been an outgoing, confident person, but my confidence was born from my ability to blend in and make friends whenever I needed to. As cliche as it sounds, my hair was a security blanket that I could always rely on. If I needed to fit in with my high school volleyball team, french braids were my go-to. Going to a concert? Temporary hair dye was my solution. Invited to a party at that one frat in college? Long waves it was. Now, with my short blonde stubble and dark eyebrows, there isn’t any hiding. This is who I am every day of the week.
When I sat down in that barbershop chair, I saw it as temporary. I thought “I’ll see what my head looks like, and then it will grow back.” By the way - it’s worth mentioning I have a Mariana Trench style dip on the top of my head. But when I got the first question about my haircut - “What will your husband think?” I knew that this was long-term - maybe even permanent. Because this hair (or lack thereof ) is mine. I made this decision. And when asked, my husband says “It’s her head, she does what she wants” (isn’t he dreamy?). The imminent fear of shaving my head - “what would so-andso think?” - translated to every part of my life and I didn’t realize it until I was on the other side of the clippers. “No, I could never start a business” and “Oh, rock climbing - no way! I’m too scared” were becoming some of my catch phrases. I was left paralyzed between decisions. Fast-forward to August 2018 and I just wrapped up a 2-hour bouldering session where I conquered a V1 - I’m still learning, okay?! I own a business - The Ruby Cookie - and I am slinging sugar to anyone who will eat it. When people look at me and say, “You really rock that haircut, I never could!” I respond, “I didn’t know I could until I did.” Maybe confidence just comes with growing up. Maybe it came with shaving my head. All I really know is that I’m my own Jamie now - the outspoken, opinionated, and not afraid of heights - okay maybe a little - Jamie that I’ve always wanted to be.
this is J a m i e
If Jamie could live in another time period, it would be 1930s-1950s. She would fight for people without a voice.
Take a call wherever you are. *Data plan sold separately
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...thought I was being offered
High sc hool was my worst nightmare. I was in one unhealthy relationship after another where I endured physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse. “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light,” 1 Corinthians 11:14. My high school self thought I was being offered reassurance, attention, and security. I craved to be wanted. But soon I found myself stuck in a white truck almost every night pleading for a way out. I didn’t want to engage in the acts I was being convinced to. I didn’t want to do the things my body was being physically forced to do. I tried to get out. I tried to fight. “This is what you wanted, remember?” Satan reminded me. Shame drove me. This IS what I asked for wasn’t it? It took time the efforts of many to help me escape the grip of this individual. For years after, my value felt depleted and all hope for a healthy relationship, sex life, and friendships felt lost. I was convinced no one would see value in me. I felt that everyone expected me to be perfect and have zero mistakes on my life record.
this is C a s s i d y
The next chapter of my life began when I left for college. God helped me transform my thoughts and surrounded me with people to help me out of this mindset. I started on a journey of renewing my faith and entrusting my life to God’s hands. I met my now husband, Nathan, that year. I was scared to let him in worried that was another shiny disguise that I was so prone to fall for. In my confusion, I heard God’s whisper and I found the strength to release my fear. Nate showed me grace and pushed me closer and closer toward Jesus. It felt as though he was helping me loosen my grasp on the abundant weight I carried so that Jesus could finally take it from me. He made me feel the grace of Jesus deep in my soul. We are now married and what a beautiful thing. God restored the brokenness and showed me how beautiful relationships and marriage can be. Things are still hard—I still struggle with insecurities and relationships, my husband and I go to counseling weekly, and sometimes I have terrifying dreams of reliving my past. Regardless, because God has carried me through my past, I know that I will be held into and through my future. I know that God is not finished with me.
I craved to be wanted.
hat is it like to be me? To be me is to know the goodness of God, to have deeply experienced grace, and to hope for the renewal of all things. My story includes abuse and brokenness in too many chapters. My parents experienced a messy divorce when I was just five years old so I grew up in a broken home, trying to find God in the mess of it all.
reassurance, attention, and security.
by Cassidy Mueting
I would never wish my past on anyone, but now I can see that it has made me strong. I feel brave and loved and empowered. He has made my ugly past into a beautiful future. God taught me it is not possible to ruin the plans and purpose for our lives. I learned that no one can take value away from me or the things of God. I learned that no matter how far away you feel, God is always right there to catch you—every dang time. 23/52
Cassidy dreams of one day having a white picket fence and kids running around to occupy her sweet pup, Finnley.
I AM NOT THE HERO I EXPECT MYSELF TO BE by Kelsey Williams
hat do you want to be when you grow up?” Well, the first answer to that was, “Interior designer,” which likely came from my love of the computer game, The Sims. However, when I realized I had no real talent for art or design, my answer quickly switched to, “I don’t know exactly, but I want to help people.” That answer looks the same at 25 as it did at 10.
paralyzing. From the coworker having a tough day in the oﬃce, to the homeless man on the side of the road, to the abused teen mother in Ecuador, to everyone in between, I ache to lessen their hurt and bring light to their darkness. Yet, I am only one person. The realization that I cannot fix it all, that the world will remain fractured despite my best efforts, is one that consistently gnaws at my soul. I am not the hero I expect myself to be.
This thread of helping has been woven into the tapestry of my life for as long as I can remember. In elementary school, the line leader for the day would get to choose one person to sit with them in the first two seats at the lunchroom table. This was a BIG DEAL at Highland Park Elementary in Austin, TX. I had a large group of friends, but would often make an intentional point to choose someone in our class who did not – someone who was rarely, if ever, asked to sit in the special seat. Even at six, it broke my heart for anyone to feel like they were on the outside. It didn’t stop there. The proceeds of every lemonade stand I ever held while growing up (and there were a lot of them) went to disaster relief or a non-profit. I was, and still am, a supporter, nurturer, giver, helper, and includer.
A college professor spoke truth into my world several years ago that has allowed me to focus my helping energy and let go of some of this weight. “You can’t change everything,” she said, “But what can you change? Where can you start?” That brought increased direction and clarity to my tapestry, leading the thread to my current career path in the non-profit world. I am still overwhelmed by all of the hurt in the world, but I have tried to start by making a difference in my own backyard. While I am unsure where God will lead me in this beautiful and broken life, I will continually strive to make the world just a little bit brighter.
This is my greatest strength, but also my Achilles heel. I feel the emotions of others – those I know and those I do not – so deeply that I have this sense of responsibility to remedy their pain. While unrealistic, I believe that I should be able to alleviate the diﬃcult circumstances in which people find themselves. I truly feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, and it can be
‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.’ (Serenity Prayer).
this is K e l s e y
Kelsey is a a supporter, nurturer, giver, helper, and includer. She is the most compassionate of superheros, she is our wonder woman.
THE ART OF STORY TELLING
The art of storytelling and the deep rhythms of narrative connect the mind with the heart. We all know that it’s a far distance between the two. But as we descend from the mind to the heart, reconciliation happens. We make whole the broken and disconnected parts of us- bringing together our story. Each time we tell our story or speak into existence a new narrative about ourselves and others, we mend the gap and dissonance in our own being. The stories we tell give language for our experience and raises our narratives to travel from our hearts out the door of our mouths. And what glory and satisfaction it is for us to finally have language for what we experience. Healing takes place in the acquiring of precise language. It’s not all about the receiver being able to understand the story you tell. However, the marriage that takes place between language and experience because of precision of language is a manifestation of
faithfulness between your words and your emotions. This marriage between language and experience bears fruit in the lives of others specifically in the fact that our stories can be tables of reflection for others. Storytelling is a cause for introspection in both the giver and the receiver. Stories call for our attention and engage all of our senses. As we hear a story, we envision with all of our senses— sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Our brain activates as our
senses are awakened. Through this great awakening, communion is experienced between both the giver of the story and the receiver of the story. Grander intimacy is experienced as we lend our stories to others to experience and see their lives in the context of another. Our lives are being braided together when we engage and listen to others’ stories. Through listening, we can begin to acquire language for our life which gratifies the soul, and this happens in the context of relationships.
Being seen is a deep ache that humans have. Being listened to is an interdependent desire. Storytelling is the grounds on which that ache, and desire are seeded and flourish. Storytelling mirrors that of gardening. As storytellers we plant seeds of hope, healing, and desire through the telling of our stories, but we also must go back to those seeds and tend to what has come of what we have planted. When we don’t share our stories or attempt to, if we don’t reflect, if we don’t water—we stunt the growth we can receive from our experiences. “O U R L I V E S A R E When we tell stories, we can B E I N G B RAI D E D develop our sense of self and see TOG E T H E R ” more clearly what it is like to be you and experience the warmth and cold of the world. We can tell our stories from different perspectives and plant new seeds in others’ livesseeds that become plants of deliverance, healing, and love. We develop our sense of self through social interactions. Stories motivate us to respond and interact. In the same vein storytelling gives us space for expression and validation. Trauma occurs when we hear “children are to be seen and not heard.” But storytelling is the table where new narratives are written that tell the truth about how we experience each season of our lives. In the context of others’ stories, we can find deliverance of who we are and communion with one another because truth prevails when language is given. We find I am because we are in truth. So, in truth, let us live. Reconciled and whole again.
by Adriana Arthur www.justthesalt.com
T H E
F U T U R E
by Tabitha Barbe
xcuse me, can I ask you a question?” I hesitated, considered who was talking to me, and held back the sass I was tempted to spit. The ask is always the same. And when it’s this one, it’s always two questions. I can easily recognize that first confused look. “What are you?” I’ve often felt a need to explain who I am. Why my skin is so light, while my hair is so curly. Why I fight the need to talk out my reasoning. It’s a natural result of being questioned all the time. Sometimes I answer before that second question is even out of their mouths.
When I met the man who would become my husband, it was never a question he presumed to ask me. It set him apart. Once he realized I wasn’t white, he obviously wasn’t upset by my revelation. Considering what my parents went through as an interracial couple, any challenges James and I race are minuscule. The truth is, we haven’t dealt with much. It could be that as a biracial woman with light skin, many presume me to be white. But older people of my Mama’s race always knew. And when they saw me with James, they would stare. It reminded me how those old men (of my Daddy’s race) used to stare at me and my parents in that 31W barbershop next to WishyWashy Laundromat. My parents used to get so mad... I answered that day. The young man who asked what I was asked because he was also a “light-skinned” mixed person. I guess we seem few and far between in the South. Maybe I was born to be a diplomat. If true, I’m definitely in the wrong profession. Still, I often find myself understanding the communication problems on either side that lead to racial tension in our country. I always wish I could run back and forth across the line and diffuse the tension: “no wait, what we actually mean is ___.” I read a National Geographic article pretty much prophesying (with help from the U.S. census) about what America’s racial makeup will be in 2050. So much genetic mixing will surely mean that racial and ethnic barriers will be less important. If I’m still alive then, I won’t have to explain anything. I’ll have the look of an American. Multiracial— not “African” American or “European American.” A true American from the melting pot. A prototype for peace. I am the future. And unlike my family’s past, our future will need no explanation.
this is T a b i t h a
Tabitha is the future. 2050 could not come fast enough! We need more beauty and strength that she so empoweringly empbodies.
sometimes you need to laugh at yourself, because humans do werid things. HERE IS A JOKE FOR EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK:
I told my girlfriend she drew her eyebrows too high. She seemed surprised.
My friend says to me: “What rhymes with orange” I said: “No it doesn’t.”
My wife accused me of being immature. I told her to get out of my fort.
How do crazy people go through the forest? They take the psycho path.
And the Lord said unto John, “Come forth and you will receive eternal life.” John came fifth and won a toaster.
JOKE OF THE YEAR:
“Today at the bank, an old lady asked me to help check her balance. So I pushed her over.” FUNNY PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW
Yesterday I saw a guy spill all his Scrabble letters on the road. I asked him, “What’s the word on the street?” A man tells his doctor, “Doc, help me. I’m addicted to Twitter!” The doctor replies, “Sorry, I don’t follow you …”
John Crist has made a name for himself in comedy and fashion with his satirical take on Christian living and serious dedication to crocs and white belts.
Michael Dyer is known for things like Facebook live videos of him eating cereal and creating a GoFundMe for snacks. There is a strong food theme in his work. 36/52
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by Katherine Amidon
abels come in many forms and shape our stories in ways we don’t always realize. Sometimes they are about appearance, or culture, or lifestyle. For me, the labels have always been about my personality. I’ve always been “the happy one” or “the smart one” or “the quiet one” or “the stable one.” I feel that these expectations, whether implied or overt, have shaped who I am. On one hand, others’ emphasis on these attributes has encouraged me to pursue certain goals and often I am thankful for that extra push. Conversely, these expectations can feel impossible to live up to. I have always felt a strong sense of duty and responsibility. I think part of that stems from being the oldest child, some of it is just my inherent personality. I sometimes feel like I would be letting people down if I don’t embody these characteristics 24/7. There are many days when I truly feel happy and stable, ready to
solve any problem thrown at me. But there are also plenty of times when I feel completely incapable - exhausted with a headache and unsure how I could possibly do anything useful. In those moments, I find myself trapped by selfcomparison. If I was able to accomplish a challenging task in the past, I start thinking there must be something terribly wrong with me if I can’t push myself to do it again. I forget that I can’t run at 200% effort everyday. No one can. Nor should we. I am learning to trust that the world won’t fall apart if I rest and I am learning to rely on God for strength. My favorite label is “the quiet one.” I continue to defy expectations on this one, and it’s often quite funny. To be fair, I am very reserved when I believe a situation calls for being serious… which is most of the time. I have also struggled with health issues, and it’s hard to be bubbly and outgoing when I don’t feel well. I’m finally at a point in my life where I feel healthy on a pretty consistent
basis. But I still find it hilarious how shocked people become when they find out that I love loud concerts, EDM, and dancing. I can’t even count how many times “I never would have expected that from you,” gets said to me whenever I am remotely outgoing. I had become so used to doing life and work while feeling lousy, that when I feel good I just want to do everything! I am working on learning balance and moderation now. It’s ok for “the happy one” to be sad; for “the stable one” to not have it together; for “the smart one” to do dumb things. I still have my old labels, and I don’t mind them, but I also know they don’t define me. I am trying to be more aware of labels I have inadvertently given to others. We are all multi-faceted people and there is always more to someone’s story than what is initially apparent. Quite frankly, understanding the complexity of another person requires abandonment of the self-centeredness that is such an easy default for all of us.
“U N D E R S TA ND IN G T HE C O M PL E XIT Y OF A NOTH E R P E R S O N R E QU IR E S AB AN D O N M E N T O F [ T H E] S E L F -C E N T E R E D N E SS. . . “
this is K a t h e r i n e
Katherine wanted to be a rockstar when she was young. Which is amazing because even then she was defying expectations.
by Lisa Crowe
y daughter has a new job. She is working for an organization that she calls her “reading group” because they get together to discuss articles about society and politics. They also own and rent housing and maintain a farm that doubles as a wedding venue. Her new job is to help with the rental properties and the wedding venue. Confused? So was I. So I asked her for a one-liner so that when my friends ask what she is up to, I can tell them.
day getting my M.F.A., and publishing my writing in a literary journal. When my brother says I captured the essence of our childhood experience and shows my writing to his kids so they can understand what our lives were like, I am delighted. At a summer writing workshop when several workshop participants commented that my essays were “creepy as hell,” I felt like I’d achieved what I’d set out to do – to communicate my experience to someone else. A former class member told me she still thought about an essay I wrote about my grandmother’s house, and said I was good at capturing scene and place.
a ventilation grate painted over with purple, yellow, and gray wax hangs in my husband’s oﬃce. I got a lay counseling certificate because the part I always liked the most about medicine was the way patients trusted me with their life stories. I learned how to identify themes in stories people told, how to love them where they were and to see the glory and potential in their lives.
For the first time in as long as I can remember, I have time to develop deep Recently she asked me the same question. friendships with women. There are a What does she handful of women tell her friends if about my age they ask what her who get together “There are moments that I think mom does? “She’s weekly to pray for retired,” doesn’t and support each I’m not doing anything...” really explain other. Someone what I do. When in the group I think about someone who is retired, I That feels good. remembers that I started the group. I think of a person who has worked hard don’t really remember. It just seems like their whole life and now is relaxing at Two summers ago, I took a two-week it just evolved from a couple of women a vacation home, reading books, and class in encaustic painting at Penland needing each other, then reaching out to playing tennis or golf – in other words School of Crafts in North Carolina. I do one more and one more after that. I love enjoying a well-earned rest. All of that film photography and wanted to learn my friendships with younger women is good – very good. But that’s not what how to add a layers of clear and tinted too, some of whom I meet with on a I am doing. wax to my photographs. My best projects regular basis. were the Polaroid image transfers made I’m writing now. Mostly literary non- from color slide pictures taken in Haiti I’ve participated in several events around fiction about my past. I take writing in 1986 that looked dreamy and far away racial reconciliation. classes locally. I attended a summer with the wax overlay. An image I made workshop in Indiana. I dream about one on wood block of a dead goldfinch on
this is L i s a
I started an intentionally diverse dinner event series to bring different types of people around a table to eat and share ideas. I am a wife to a hard-working research scientist. I am a mom to two amazing adult children. There are moments that I think I’m not doing anything, just wasting my time while my husband does world class research, and my friends have brilliant careers while raising children. Thankfully, I always come back to the realization that I am being me and doing what I was meant to do. So a one-liner for my daughter to tell her friends when they ask what her mom “does” – I was stumped. Her boyfriend, though came up with a great line. He said “Just tell ‘em you’re doin’ your thang.” Yes, that’s it; that’s exactly what I’m doing - my thang.
Although to young at the time, Lisa thinks that she would have been an activist in some way during the 60â€™s - interested in hearing from and joining with people different than her.
because of you wow, youre really great. did you know that?
Because of you, I don’t apologize for who I am.
Because of you, I know how to whistle.
Because of you, I am learning how to be less selfish. Because of you, I know that mercy is an appropriate response to both suffering and celebration.
Because of you, I know how to cook.
Unlike Kelly Clarkson’s experience, people can impact us in positive ways that leave a lasting impressions. Because they showed up or took the extra time or went out of their way, we have become better people. Think of someone in your life like this, dont forget to tell them. These are a few dedications to those people.
Because of you, I love marigolds.
Because of you, autumn is a nostalgic and heavy season.
Because you took the time to get to know me, you made me feel worthwhile even when I thought l had nothing to offer.
Kelly Clarkson has a no. 1 song called “Because of You,” if you didn’t know.
Because of you, my well of jokes has become exponentially deeper.
P R E T E N D I N G T O
s S o O
m M e E b B
o O d D y Y
by Sarah Robinson anna be white bitch.”
Most of my life people have tried to tell me who I
I was walking through
vocalized to me since I was in the fourth grade
JFK airport with one of
my high school students and a co-worker when
a random woman said those words to me. To this
day, I am not quite sure what possessed her to
say those things to a complete stranger in the middle of an airport. Perhaps something about my presence, my clothes, or my hair screamed
abandonment of my African-American heritage. Throughout my life, I had heard all kinds of ignorant and insensitive comments, directed towards me or people who look like me. But
there’s something about this particular encounter that has stuck with me and left me baﬄed.
See, the issue here is that I am white…and black. I am not one or the other, I am both. The juxtaposition of the two is enough to make your head spin, but it’s how the Lord in His divine intervention intended for me to be. My mother, a sweet but sassy white woman from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and my father a strong but sensitive black man from Charleston, South Carolina. The two of them have walked a much harder road than I have but their story has acted as a foreshadowing of the path I have had to walk.
am supposed to be. These expectations have been particularly in regards to my hair, “Why doesn’t she straighten her hair?” “Why is your hair so
frizzy?” “Do you have a weave?” What might’ve been innocent questions of curiosity have stayed
with me and driven how I view myself even now in my twenties. I grew up in a predominantly white
community where you could count on your hands how many people of color there were. What’s odd about that is that I wouldn’t have counted
myself in that number. After all, according to the
people around me, I didn’t “act black” or whatever the heck that means. It was my responsibility not to be too loud or racially sensitive or too
opinionated because what I believed was that if I blended in enough then maybe, just maybe
the people around me wouldn’t think I was too different.
The problem with this plan was that I have spent
years pretending to be somebody who I am not. I’ve talked with people about issues that I was
deeply passionate about, but kept quiet because
I was afraid of how they’d view my opinions. After all, I’m the token “black” friend who seems
to fit well in white, conservative, Republican circles because I won’t get
“I am not one or the other, I am both.” People don’t like what they can’t understand, and we all like to put people in categories and boxes so that we know where they fit. The problem there lies in the fact that I cannot be placed in a box and that seems to be a source of tension for people.
this is S a r a h
upset when people make
inappropriate and offensive remarks. If I suddenly pushed
back, well then who would I
be? The answer, I’d be myself. Unafraid of drawing attention
to myself, unashamed of my beliefs and my heart for justice, and unmoved by the potential rejection
of others. For too long I’ve made the mistake of
letting others be my voice and decide who I am, but let me just say, I have found my voice and I refuse to ever make that mistake again.
Sarah has a contagious smile and is a fierce and loving goddess warrior. She also said she would feel most herself in a wedding dress.
by Adriana Arthur
nothing changes if nothing changes.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE COUNCIL FOR A MORE MEANINGFUL LIFEÂ®
YOU /yoo,y / pronoun “Not me.” Also used in exclamations to address one or more people, “you fools.” These women represent a small part...