I See The Light In You

I see the light in you.

That simple namaste expression breathes life. It levels us all from our various roles and ties us together collectively as humankind. We all have struggles, fears, dreams, addictions, trauma, bills to pay...

The list never ends.

So much weighs us down as we plod through our days in the hopes that a mere second of it may result in unexpected kindness. We smile and wave at the stranger that passes us driving on the road. We feel a tender twinge in our stomachs when we spy the elderly couple splitting a hamburger with a plastic butter knife in the greasy diner. Our spirits are renewed when we can sit in the company of good conversation with our hands wrapped around a hot mug of coffee. We are all trying to find the light. The light in ourselves. The light in others. And if we are patient enough, the light in those that don't like us.

The thief of light hides within the shadows of that long list up above. The thief of light lets the full weight of the list pull us down into darkness. It is successful in "othering" ourselves or others that walk different lives, look different, or harbor differing ideologies than ourselves. When we are overwhelmed with the weight, we lose our ability to find empathy not only for others, but for ourselves. We grow angry and frustrated. We attempt to funnel that frustration into a worthy cause, and inadvertently end up hurting others instead. Without empathy and light, we walk blind and wounded, creating unhealthy atmospheres wherever we go, trying to prove that we are right and good. The thing is, and always was, we were light...we were good...at the start.

I often find hope in Tony Bourdain. He traveled the world with the weight of his own life and the world resting on his shoulders. You can look at a photo of him and see that life wasn't always kind, or that he didn't always see kindness in the world, but he traveled far in search of that smidgen of light and kindness, writing in the vein of human empathy whereever he found it. At one point, he adequately summed up the search when he wrote:

"Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go."

By seeing the light in the world and those that inhabit it, Tony revealed to me that to see the light is to be humbled, made low, no arrogance and self-importance, but to know there is much to learn from others. And then, in even more poignant words that are balm to my sole, he left the world behind with these words:

"As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life —and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.” 

The list is never going to go away, but instead, will likely grow longer and heavier as we age. Life is never going to be void of hurt, especially as we choose to seek out the light. I have not quite figured out how to cope and fight for my own joy while trying so hard to bring joy to others. There is a deep desire within me to ensure that the people I know realize how important they are, how capable they are, how strong I see them. I mess up a lot. I overstep and can be overtly critical in my haste to bring peace and change to a tense atmosphere. I can't force light into people's lives. That's the painful truth I have to accept. I can be light...take it with me...and some may see it, some may not.

For now, I sip my coffee and reflect on Tony's words and the hurt he knew and the light he was. I can remind myself that I have much to learn, and to be slow to respond to others in arrogant ways. My size will be small, searching for more knowledge and understanding in others. I will remember that life will not be easy, it will leave its marks, it will hurt, but it will beautiful. And I can choose to know there is light in me and choose to see the light in others.




What The Slave Ship Would Be Today

Like most Americans, I woke up this morning and learned about the terrorist attack in New Zealand before I had a chance to brush my teeth and make a pot of coffee. I read the headline with a vague sense of sadness, but with an overwhelming tide of shame for not being surprised...for not being alarmed. What kind of world is that? When even before our coffee, and even before we have searched for our socks and shoes, we can read a headline of violence and human loss and struggle to find our compassion...

Because it is not new. 

I put my phone aside and sent my children off to school. I even lay down for a little bit and fell asleep once again. I forgot about the news and the pain and the men and women heartbroken on the other side of the world. I got up and started by Humanities papers, choosing the topic with the most appalling title: Slave Ship, painted by J.M.W. Turner.

The image filled my screen and I blinked. It took me a moment to even spot the slave ship in the painting. Instead, my eyes followed a path of destruction, forcing me to see the dark hands sticking out of the waves...hands shackled and tied with rope. Seagulls were descending upon the dead and dying...and my stomach turned. The headline about the carnage in New Zealand came rushing back to my memory.

I walked away from the screen and poured a cup of the blackest coffee I could manage. I was going to need it.

"Relevance of Work in Our Modern Age"

That's what I needed to think about and write on. It might seem silly, but all of a sudden, I was imagining what Turner would paint today in-lieu of a slave ship. What path would he walk us through and force us to see today? What pain and horror at the hands of unbridled power and authority would he map out?

What has the Slave Ship become today?

In the reds and golds of a violent sky, would he paint a white terrorist in the background of his canvas? Would he take the time to walk us through the dead Muslim bodies in their house of worship, their hands no longer lifted for help, but lifeless on the tile floor? Would Turner paint church clergy in the background of his canvas, fading from view as they clutched their Holy Bibles like shields...leaving a wake of LGBQT youth dead...some by their own hands...victims of deep depression and a sense of shame that stole their identities and self-value from their hearts? Or would Turner paint the hallways of our schools, littered with wounded and dead teenagers; elementary halls with dead kindergartners in the arms of their murdered teachers? Maybe he would even be so bold to paint the president of our nation standing in the far distance at a podium, a path of hate in his wake and American values turned muddy with hate? Turner could paint ICE agents walking away, leaving broken families behind them...separation and the loss of all hope.

I didn't write any of that. I don't want to assume what Turner would paint in 2019. I don't want to pretend his sympathies for the enslaved would carry over to the oppressed and growing violence of today. But it's what I saw. It's what I would paint...

It's what has become true in our "Modern Age"....


The Master of Time...and Coffee

On the TV, Jack Hartman is singing and grooving as he sings the alphabet. If you aren't familiar with this insanity, then you don't have a pre-k or Kindergartner in your life. Mine is currently dancing like mad in her underwear...hair a tangled mess.

Beside me on the table is an empty plate and fork with what crumbs remain from a slice of cake. If I were to be completely honest with you, I would admit that there's a second plate because my daughter didn't finish her own slice and gave it to me. But I'm admitting nothing.

This is the afternoon in the Cooper home. There's a half-crocheted afghan, dishes in the sink, dirty clothes piling in the wash room, and more than a few places on the floor that are screaming for the attention of a broom. Yet, I don't have time for any of that right now. Right now, I'm sipping coffee and digesting one *or two* slices of cake and celebrating.







And 36 years old. 

A mom of three.

A wife of one. 

Big deal. I have this handled. It doesn't matter that to arrive at this moment, I had to complete a three hour orientation that required essay questions of complete honesty *unlike the cake*. It forced me to set realistic goals and fill out an in-depth time management chart. It asked me how often I did laundry and how many hours I spent on laundry. It wanted to know how many days a week I care of my children and how many hours I spend caring for my children. How often do I cook meals a week and how many hours for I spend doing that? How often do I read? How many hours do I dedicate to sitting in a car and waiting at stoplights?All of these questions were answered with questions like how often I will study, how many hours I will spend on exams, how long I think I will dedicate to reading materials?

When it was complete, a red banner flashed across the screen letting me know that there were not enough hours in a week for what I needed to complete. I guess the red banner was supposed to alert me to some great terror or mistake....cause a tremble of fear to go through me and second guess going to school. But, bruh, that red banner was there BEFORE I enrolled in school.

I laughed out loud.

I'm a mother. A woman. The master of time manipulation and queen of doing many, many, many things at once.

I can do this. I got this. I'm a freaking witch!

Clearly the person who designed this time management chart was a man. And to him, I send my sincerest apologies that dishes, laundry, parenting, working, and being a full time student requires a red banner of alarm.

PS: My apologies for the feelings of any man reading this who feel personally attacked and undervalued. Here. Have a slice of cake. 

~Master Time Manipulator

A New Voice That Only A Few Hear...'Cause Alexa Does Not

It’s been a long time since I used my voice on the internet. There’s the debilitating fear that I possess now. I work in a school. I’m going to school to be a teacher (of some sort). And I am wildly unpopular. Why risk it all by being loud mouthed anymore?

But it’s more than that...

I deconstructed. I shed my religion and slowly replaced it with authentic faith.

I’m going to hold you up right there and very seriously look you in the eyes and tell you how dog-gone hard that transition is and was. Imagine standing on what you think is the threshold of hell. Someone tells you that whatever you do next will either push you into the eternal flames of torment…or bring you freedom.

It ain’t easy.

I sobbed all the way through it.

But once I had those shackles cut off my soul, I started screaming. Oh, so loud. A screamed like a Banshee (which is amazing and not at all the thing of nightmares). I mourned. I laid the wounds all the way open. Some folks, with the best of intentions, came by with bags of salt and poured it in. But in either case, I had a voice. A really, freaking loud voice. I rarely let it be silent, as it had been silent and “acceptable” for far too long.

Whoops. And there went my friends. But don't feel bad. I now have this group that I call the "Breakfast Club." We all did the same thing. We changed. We fell out. We got left standing on the line and the captains of dodge ball really didn't want us on their teams. So...we...became awesome instead (or something like it).

However, it’s been a few years now. I am tired of shouting. I am worn out from fighting the “bad guys” that are simply stuck in a dark place that I was in. I didn’t lose my voice. I just learned that I need to find a better way of using it. Facebook and Twitter posts is not cutting it anymore.


Here I am.

Back here.

Slitting my wrist and letting the life’s blood of my soul pour out the thoughts, the secrets, the fears and thoughts of a 36 year old woman, lover, mother, and human that’s stronger, but still shaking in her boots.

But I’m going to be honest….

I am feeling my age.

For the last ten minutes, I have been demanding Alexus to play specific songs for me, but SHE WILL NOT. I understood the refusal at first, because I was calling her “Siri.” And then it was “Alexa”…(WAIT. No. That is actually the correct name). Obviously, you can see the problem here. I don’t know her name…I speak to her like I do when I am calling for my youngest child: I go through every name in the house before I growl out the correct name, cursing my brain and tongue. But the point is…

I want to blog.

I have so much to say.

I have words that are softer now.

Wiser, maybe?

Less angry, for sure (If Alexa would play my darn songs correctly!).

But I am also scared.

I want to talk about why I don’t say the Pledge of Allegiance anymore. About parenting…but not in that invasive way that exploits my children and their privacy. My childhood pain? That’s not very interesting, actually. Deconstruction? Living my faith without a church community? Being the black sheep in a red, Christian town?

I’m not actually a black sheep. I smile too much. I like to please people too much? Maybe I should talk about that flaw?

Just give me a while to get Alexa/Alexus to start listening to me…and then the motivation will being to flow.


So stay tuned for my slightly softer voice.

I'm working on it.