Tuesday, July 12, 2016

1.2 Miles Away (My 225 Experience)

As you well know, Alton Sterling was shot and killed by a police officer at the Triple S Food Mart on North Foster in my home city.   I watched the video a few times to see if I could decipher what occurred. Then the next day,  I watched the video of Philando Castile's girlfriend and him bleeding out and dying before my eyes.  I had to detach a bit knowing this was not a movie, this was real.  I don't watch the news anymore because I have learned that it does not serve me well.  It is mostly negative, and I have the tendency to stay in fear and foreboding and scarcity.  I don't want to live in scarcity anymore.

I don't want to discuss what I think of the shootings, because it's just so much more complex than a simple "black and white answer."  It is not cut and dry.  I just know from listening that living in black skin can be a lot more difficult than for most people living in white skin.  I know that racism exists and our community is hurting.

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

While reading one of my friend's Facebook posts about going to a prayer vigil in a north Baton Rouge church last Thursday night, she described secondhand how much pain the black community was in and there was discussion of whether the white community cared.  This broke my heart.

How do I show I care? What can I do to step out of my South Baton Rouge comfort zone?

This is where I am going to be really honest. Although, there is a desire to show up at a prayer vigil or some sort of protest to say, let's come together, I support you!  I don't think I can.

I have fear.

Growing up and in a very small town, the mentality I developed was if you drive to New Orleans and get out the car, you were going to get shot.  This goes for pretty much any large city.  That is the impression I had and have lived with for most of my life.  Don't drive in the bad parts of town.  For that matter,  when I'm walking the dogs at night in my own neighborhood, I get alarmed when a car drives by and I'm watching closely for something bad to happen.

As I have begun determining what I believe authentically, miraculously at the same time an ease has materialized in my day to day living.  I realize how much anxiety and fear on a daily basis that I lived with.  My mind was constantly afraid of every small action that I needed to take even when I knew what I needed to do, I didn't.  I was afraid to speak up... anywhere.   I was frozen in my tracks for as long as I can remember.  This type of fear has to be taken down bit by bit over time.  Exposure by exposure and by practicing, a lot of practicing.

Sunday morning, I went to my book study at church and one of the suggestions was to do your part where you are, with who was in front of you each day.  And to examine your own beliefs, and where you may be contributing to the problem.

That morning, I learned that the three out of state groups that were scheduled to come and work our church's Revive 225 program this week had cancelled.  Our church was looking for volunteers to do the house repairs of homes that are within a 5 mile radius of our downtown church.  When I met up with my oldest daughter in the church gym, I looked at her without any prior planning and blurted out, "Do you want to work?" intuitively knowing that she would.  Now, in my class the hour before,  I had said out loud to the group, it's over 100 degrees outside, I can't do that, are they crazy?  But what was really going on were the other fears in my mind.  The north Baton Rouge fears... (and the heat too!)

But we signed up anyway.

We signed up on the youth page.  Mallory was enrolled in a morning camp so we could work the morning shift.  Baby steps.  Later on that night, I watched the news just to see what was going on with the protests.  There was a large confrontation between police and protestors with fifty arrests just a few blocks from our church...

But I knew I still wanted to go.

I told myself the protesters who were from mostly out of town, would be leaving.  I was slightly anxious, but the kind that I've worked through before when I step out of my comfort zone.  I awoke early, and worried about driving my car around north Baton Rouge.

But I knew I still wanted to go.

I knew in my gut, all would be well.  We showed up at the first house and worked to remove debris that had been taken down previously.  Our youth director mentioned that we were not that far away from the Triple S.  (Alrighty then.) We went to a second house not far away and picked up more materials. At this point, Riley went with the rest of the youth group to work longer and I stayed behind in order to pick Mal up from her camp.  I went in to the house to see if they needed help. Several church members were removing old ceiling tile and repairing it.  I went to ask the homeowner for a broom.  As I knocked to announce my presence in the room she was in, she got up with the warmest smile and presence and walked across the room with open arms and we hugged.

Those who go with the intention to "help others", end up receiving the blessing.

I didn't know I needed a hug that day, and the homeowner in north Baton Rouge gave it to me.

I didn't stay long, because there wasn't much for me to do, and I went to say bye to the homeowner.  Of course, I forgot her name as I forget everything that I don't type in to Notes these days.  But she remembered mine.

"Bye Miss Carol"

We mutually hugged again.

I feel less scared to go back another time.  Baby steps.

At home that afternoon, I had the addresses in my GPS and I looked up where the Triple S Food Mart was from where we were.  It was 1.2 miles away.

She lived 1.2 miles away from the deadly shooting and I am the one who received the hug.  In actuality, I give myself credit that I immediately put my arms up when I saw her reaction.

Bit by bit, the fear and feelings of scarcity will cease and be overtaken by love.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Thankful for Power Outages?!

Late yesterday afternoon around 6:22 p.m. to be exact, the power went out in our house in broad sunny daylight.  George sprang, and I mean sprang into action.  Within five minutes, he had the portable generator sitting on the back patio and was carrying the A/C window unit into our bedroom.  I assisted where I could, finding the proper extension cords, tools, etc.

And I thank him.

It is brutally hot in south Louisiana.

I tried to find a working flashlight and discovered most of them had dead batteries or no batteries at all.  Then I cursed myself for the times I found Mallory with a powered on flashlight not using it.  Allowing the sun in for light, meant you were allowing the sun in with HEAT.  And it's been in the 90's, feeling like at least one hundred degrees with humidity.

It was a good test for hurricane season.
I have started my list of things we need.
The window unit & Ralph Macchio on the computer screen.

I also felt justified for every time I have kept my devices charged to the max.  My family makes fun of me.  My phone was 33% charged.  My computer at 26%.  How will I get communication from Entergy or neighbors to stay in the know?

This is a nightmare.

Ok, it's not a nightmare at all but my first instincts says it is.  My mind and emotions go back to past episodes of tropical storms and/or hurricanes.  I will never forgot the time the power was out for a long while after Gustav in 2008 and my mother in law and my much younger daughters and I drove to the nearby Walmart plaza and it was crazy.  I was looking for ice.  We had no generator at that time and the parking lot was packed, hard to navigate and reeked of desperation.  I felt very alone and unsure of how to handle what was going on.  George was working and living at the hospital.   We were told the power would be out for a couple of weeks and after the Walmart experience, we fled to Atlanta to my sister in laws.  I had never driven that far by myself without another driver.   I have a bit of post traumatic stress (really bad memories of being completely unnerved by the situation) and other past experiences (being nine months pregnant when Hurricane Katrina and it's aftermath roared through for another)

I cringed a little on the inside with my uncharged devices and said out loud that I will never let the family make fun of me for charging again (in my best Scarlett O'Hara voice)  Being without power is an inconvenience and hot but it brings our family (and from what I hear the neighborhood) together.  This is what my new mindful brain tells me.  This is not what I did eight years ago.  Anxiety was my middle name.  I lived in discomfort the entire ordeal.

Thank you for the practice of mindfulness.

After we got the most important things connected to the generator:  my phone(!), A/C, a fan, the refrigerator, and freezer,  we settled down after George grilled hamburgers.  Mallory was away at a birthday party.  George, Riley and I piled in the king sized bed in the cooled bedroom with closed shutters, drapes and doors.  The two dogs and one of the cats was with us and we began watching "The Outsiders" on DVD on our old laptop with added special effect water speakers.  Portable air conditioners and fans make a lot of noise.  The teenager was forced to be with us, but secretly I think she liked it.

It was cozy and comfortable and familially unifying.  After a total of two hours, and a fourth of the way into our movie,  I was a little sad when the power came on.

Well, maybe for a nanosecond.

I love air conditioning.

Forced family togetherness on vacation and in power outages can be a hot beautiful thing.  


Life or Death Decision (A hijacked blog)

Since George and I met twenty-three years ago, we have had a favorite child, non favorite child, two dogs, three cats, many fish and an assortment of other caged animals. I have grown into an animal person. I have also become a nap needed person I nap ALOT. I feel asleep while watching anything literally anything. I Carolyn am an introvert. I call myself a social introvert but my children do not think so. I also do not like to cook, clean up or any activity that involves moving. If I could I would sit in by bed all day. I am that kind of lazy person. I also do not have a good since of timing. My least favorite child thinks when you say a time you have to stick to the time. (Which is correct!!). I also text and drive which put myself, those also in the car with me and other around me in danger. Many Americans text and drive  but that needs to stop, myself included. While driving put your phone up, it CAN wait. So on conclusion on the short blog, I tell ALL my readers to not text and drive, AKA don't do anything on your cellular device when driving a car.

Please keep American and all Americans Save
Carolyn Ann Roddy Golightly, a texter and driver trying to quit.

I still text and drive.

Is this a guest blog or did I write this myself? The world may never know.