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Monday Memoirs :: A Bit of the Preface

daddys home (again)

 

I wanted to call it the Prologue. But that’s for fiction and although I do make stuff up as I go, it’s not technically correct. My writer friends (and Jermaine) would probably feel the need to point that out.

This is a book about the collection of months. I am who I am this September afternoon because of all the Septembers that came before.

This is also a book about deployment, even though I honestly feel like I have no earthly right to talk about such a subject. This is not a military deployment. This is a life, deployed. That is, ready for action, even if that action includes a battle. It often does.

The basic structure is this: I’m starting and end the book in the month of May, even though parts of this preface technically took place in April. I’ll riff back and forth between the gritty morning pages that span from May 2013 to May 2014 and what I hope will be some thoughtful prose musing on all the anniversaries that fall in that chapter of my life.

I’m hoping for Journey. It was a hard year. I’m still recovering, in some ways.

I moved three times in the span of 10 months, living in four different homes and two different states. I had no choice but to come to terms with my nomadic nature and the way it affected the people around me, especially my kids.

For seven of those months, it was just me and them. I battled depression, falling off all kinds of wagons, hateful messages from internal and external sources, and a past that would like to eat me alive.

I also continued wholeheartedly following my dreams. I got closer still to that illusive Glow I’m so drawn toward. I had some epic wins. And some incredible failures.

It was a difficult year, but it was, by far, not the worst. And I couldn’t have gotten through it if it hadn’t been for the really hard stuff.

So, I tip my hat to the chaos and share it with you here with the hope that it might inspire or console or, at the very least, entertain.

Because it is my right to do that.

Because I hold close to the fact that not everyone has this right.

And because that’s fucked up.

But I have this possibly irrational belief that when I share my story and when you share your story, somehow the energy involved in those processes will tip the scales and suddenly a young girl or an old man on the other side of the world will gain a remarkable permission to tell their story. And THAT’S what we need.

God, do we need their stories.

merawHi! I’m Brandy. Every Monday, I share an excerpt from my memoir. Working diligently behind the scenes to put it all together by the end of this year. My prayer is that it sets up like some kind of gorgeous word soufflé. If you’d like to receive #memoirmondays updates, and special gifts I only share with my subscribers, you can sign up here.

Ohh, also! I’m doing this crazy operation that’s tailor-made for creative healers and very specifically the early adaptors. It’s called The Shalom Experiment and if it sounds like something you’d be into, I hope you’ll check it out.

All the love, friend. Thank you for stopping by! I hope this post filled your day with a little extra awesome. Take good care.

Fall Bucket List

Fall Bucket List 2012

 

God, I love fall. I love bucket lists, too. It was sort of unofficially on my to-do list to make a bucket list for this new season, but I hadn’t gotten around to it yet. And then that photo up there popped up in my Timehop feed. And then I stumbled onto both Kendall’s List + Miss Jeni D’s List.

So it must be kismet. For some reason, it never occurred to me to post my bucket list online. But why not, right? After all, I teach people how to write what they want, so I should probably follow my own advice. Plus, I’m all about dreaming. And living a life that’s fully alive. If this doesn’t fit, then screw it. I’ll just live my half-life sipping salted caramel mochas and eating pomegranates for days.

Fall 2014, Baby

==> Go hiking with the family

==> Go to the Maryland Rennfest

==> Get a massage

==> Apply for a bunch of scholarships and to UMBC’s MSW program for 2015

==> Run my first crowdfunding campaign

==> Send cookies to a few people I love

==> Make up goodie bags to hand out to folks who are homeless

==> Go on a really fun date with Jermaine

==> Finish reading Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom

==> Write a blog post every week day (at least until the end of the year)

==> Go to Butler’s Orchard to get concord grapes, honey crisp apples, and Mexican hot cocoa

==> Finish the first draft of my memoir

==> Stick to our budget

==> Attend the Natural Living Expo

==> Teach an epic 2nd round of Rebel Diaries

==> Create something new and interesting with The Shalom Experiment

==> Make Sadie a really cool cake for her birthday

==> Find a daytime routine for Brooklyn and me that we both really love

 

My list seems kind of tame this year. Well, for me. But it’s well in line with the #yearofhealing I initiated on my birthday last month. Even though I’m in a somewhat productive place, this season I’m in right now feels like preparation for something that I can’t know yet. It feels like I’m nesting, which makes me excited for whatever birth might be coming (let’s hope it’s a book!) (no, it’s not a baby).

S’okay, off you go, to make your own list. You know you want to. And after you finish, please come back and share it with us! I love this stuff.

Every Friday, I do some kind of warped + wonderful version of a link up post. Welcome to today’s iteration! If you dig my style, I would like to formally invite you to sign up for Voice Lessons, my heartfelt, passionate, nonsensical newsletter, where I inevitably share too much and it’s kind of just right.

 

Week Four :: Reconciliation

Brandy Blogs the Bible

The Paraphrase (Genesis 41-50)

Chapter 41—Two years have passed (Joseph is still in jail). The Pharaoh has a couple of dreams and they freak him out. No one can interpret them. Suddenly the Cupbearer remembers (and admits he forgot)! Joseph is cleaned up and called out. He tells Pharaoh that, according to God, the dreams mean that land will enjoy seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. He gets made 2nd-in-command to Pharaoh and it goes down the way he said it would. During that time, he marries and has two sons: Manasseh (which means “forget”) and Ephraim (meaning “twice fruitful”). Because of Joseph, Egypt is prepared for the famine. No one else is.

Chapter 42—Joseph’s brothers are forced to go to Egypt for food (except Benjamin—Jacob forbids him to go) . They don’t recognize Joseph when they get there, but as they bow down before him, he remembers them (and his dream). He doesn’t tell them that though. Instead, he weeps to himself and then accuses them of being spies. He announces that they must bring their youngest brother to prove they are honest men. He bounds Simeon and throws him in prison. The other brothers buy food for the journey home, and on the way they realize the money has been returned to their bag! They are afraid. They go home and tell their father. He does not want to let Benjamin go.

Chapter 43—They run out of food and are forced, once again, to go back. They take the extra silver and Benjamin, whom Judah promises to be personally responsible for. They go back to the man they don’t know they know. They tell his steward about the silver and he tells them to relax, that the money has been paid. Joseph invites them for dinner. They feast (note: they can’t eat with the Egyptians because it is, apparently, a detestable thing). Joseph is emotional (though he hides this from them).

Chapter 44—Joseph frames Benjamin by putting a silver cup in his traveling bag. They go on their way and Joseph tells his steward to catch up with them and accuse them of stealing. He does, and of course, they don’t think they have anything so they announce that the brother found with the cup will become Joseph’s servant. They are out of their mind with distraught once they realize they’ve just sentenced Benjamin to slavery. They all go back to Egypt and plead with Joseph—for their father’s sake, they say, Benjamin must return home!

Chapter 45—Overwhelmed with emotion, Joseph makes himself known. And we have a touching scene of forgiveness between brothers. He exclaims that it was not them that sent him there—but God—to save them! He has them go and get their father and the entire family to come and live in Egypt with him.

Chapter 46—Jacob’s entire family, 70 in all, make the journey to Egypt. There’s a moving reunion between father and beloved son. Joseph instructs them to tell the Pharaoh they are shepherds so they will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen (shepherding was detestable to Egyptians).

Chapter 47—The people of the land are starving and are forced to give all their money, livestock, and eventually land over to the Pharaoh so that they may live. They become servants of what was once there land. Joseph gives them seed and establishes a law that they must give Pharaoh a 1/5 of all they produce. Scene shift: Jacob is aging (147 years old) and makes Joseph swear an oath that he won’t be buried in Egypt.

Chapter 48—Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons as his own, putting Ephraim (the youngest) ahead of Manasseh.

Chapter 49—Jacob blesses his 12 sons. It’s intense. Once again he tells them to bury him back home in the cave where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah are.

Chapter 50—Jacob dies. He is embalmed, Egyptian style, and taken back to the cave. Afterward, Joseph’s brothers begin to fear that now that their father is dead, Joseph will seek revenge. He reassures them that will not happen. Joseph dies at 110. He asks his brothers to swear an oath to take his bones back to where his father is buried. He is embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.

And end Genesis.

WHEW. We did it! We made it through the first book of the Bible! Good job, us.

Stuff I Found Notable

Chapter 42 was simply stuffed with interesting stuff:

1. In verse 21, they are pleading with Joseph, explaining to him what they did to their brother (him): “We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen.” That’s not mentioned in chapter 37. I keep envisioning how horrible it must have been for Joseph. And how horrible it then was for his brothers—to have to remember the evil thing they did all those years ago.

2. Verse 21-23 – The brothers think they are talking amongst themselves because Joseph is using an interpreter. We are made aware of the language barrier. And that Joseph has not forgotten his native language.

3. Reuben offers to keep Benjamin safe. Jacob’s not having it. Later, when Judah offers, Jacob accepts. And we find out in chapter 49—in Reuben’s blessing, that Jacob never forgot what he did with Bilhah.

4. The Apologetics Study Bible makes note that it’s kind of a big deal for the Cupbearer to admit his shortcomings, since the Pharaoh had the power to end his life.

Judah’s transformation and change of heart throughout the story is incredible. And at the blessing, besides Joseph, he fairs the best. We will find out much later, he is the brother chosen to bear the seed of Jesus (interesting that God chose him, a man who failed greatly and changed—instead of Joseph, a man who was “good” throughout his entire life).

The selective 70 (arrived at by not counting wives and children) is (according to the Apologetics Study Bible) the “number of completeness by the Hebrews” (pg. 75).

If you are reading along, you may have noticed that when a person is asked to take an oath, he is instructed to put his hand on the other person’s thigh. Back in the OT, this was the ultimate in observing the solemness of the vow.

Jacob blesses Pharaoh at the beginning of chapter 47. I thought that was interesting. Looked it up and apparently, it was a way of carrying on God’s covenant of “blessing those who bless you.”

I was a little taken aback when I read the part about Joseph making virtually all the people of the land servants to Pharaoh. It feels like there could be a deeper theme of grassroots to institution woven into the end of Genesis. We start out humble, earnest, trying to get bigger so that we can have a greater impact. But . . . once we get there, someone else is usually calling the shots. And the shots they call aren’t generally about blessing the world.

When I read the last bit, I thought at first that his brothers did not respect their vow. But the note in the Apologetics Study Bible says that they embalmed him so they could transport his body later (pg. 82).

This week was especially kind of fun. The exegesis geek in me is rejoicing. Thank you for following along.

If you found this interesting and helpful and you’d like to continue to follow along as I go through the WHOLE BIBLE (you may want to read the intro to this project, along with week one, the detour we took into original sin, week two, and week three), subscribe here. We’ll start the book of Exodus next Thursday—Chapters 1-15. 

Why HeForShe

emma-watson-2011-short-hair-600x401

 

Everything you know about gender is socially constructed.

This bears repeating.

Everything you know about gender is socially constructed.

Our favorite colors. How we spend our time. What we feel guilty about. How often we want to have sex. What we watch on TV. What we love. What we read. How often we cry. When we fight. Who becomes the professional football player or the CEO. Who becomes the teacher or the nurse.

That doesn’t mean it’s not true. I don’t like guns or monster trucks. I do like to cook and share my feelings. These are facts. Life as I know it.

And it doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions. Some girls like blue. Some men become midwives. Some women want to be president. But it’s worth noting that if we hadn’t constructed our gender roles the way we have, these “exceptions” wouldn’t necessarily be notable at all.

Why does this matter? The social constructs are not harmful in themselves, right? I actually do like to dress up and wear tiaras sometimes.

It’s the thing behind the thing. That’s what you have to watch out for.

Sexism is not a new problem. As much as we would like not to know it, girls and women have been abused and misused and enslaved for thousands of years. And for just as long, men and boys have been taught that it’s their job as males to do it. Or that it’s “just what men do.” (That’s not to say that men and boys aren’t enslaved or abused. They are, and it is just as horrible.) It’s dehumanizing on both sides.

This world is not made up of good girls and bad boys. Or whores and players. Or ladies and gentlemen. We are human. The gendered labels that have been placed upon our foreheads do not do us any favors. A few of the parts of our bodies are different. They have different functions, yes. Absolutely. But we do not bleed pink and blue.

That’s why I’m excited about HeForShe. Emma Watson has been inspiring me for solid decade, at least. And she just continues to do more amazing stuff.

HeForShe is about inviting the guys to the party. We can’t change the world if only half of the world is willing to get involved. And, we have to come to terms with the fact that patriarchy and sexism hurt men, too.

I want to be a part of the movement that’s working to build a world that is safer for both our boys and our girls. That’s not just HeForShe, that’s feminism. That’s what we do. At our best, that’s our end game.

We have the opportunity to redefine words like lust and moral. To teach and learn that what is expected from men and women does not have anything to do with their respective body parts. To raise our daughters as well as our sons to lead nations, share meals, build friendships, and even, if they must, drive monster trucks.

But this isn’t going to be an easy road. Because some people are jerks. 

After her speech, in retaliation, hackers threatened to leak “compromising” photos of Emma. And it’s kind of ACTUALLY CRAZY when you think about it. Because this is exactly why she’s doing this!

This is (one of the reasons) why feminism needs more men. Because we live in a world where it really doesn’t matter what you say. If you’re a women, a portion of the population is not going to take you seriously. Especially the moment you start talking about equality.

I hope you’ll watch this speech. And I hope you’ll consider the social constructs you find yourself in. And then, most of all, I hope you’ll use your voice to change the world. Maybe you don’t have the platform Emma has (or maybe you do!), but every voice counts. I believe that. Let’s make it true.

I got the photo at the top of this page here.

Sunday 9/28 is the last day to sign up for The Rebel Diaries! Find your process. Embrace your rhythm. Write what you want.

Seven Questions to Overcome Overwhelm and Find Your Next Right Step

piclab-3

 

“Today is wild and it is yours.”

It’s 5pm. You’ve done 1000 things today but it’s not enough. Well, it IS, you keep insisting to your inner jerk, but she’s not listening. And you’re tired. You want this day to be over. But you’d like to end it feeling like to made a little magic and it just doesn’t seem like you did.

So. You take a deep breath. But not the calming kind. It’s the other sort—the one that makes you feel like you’re trying to suck all the air out of the room. Because you are. Because you need it. You need something. Maybe you’ll take a break. Maybe you’ll get a snack! No, you’ve had too much today already. And, besides there’s still so much to do!

I feel you.

I created this exercise for you. You can come back to it whenever you need to. Mama said there’d be days like this, but she didn’t say you have to feel like crap forever. I’m such a believer in turning days around. Sometimes we have to be in the suck. Sometimes that’s exactly what we’re called to do. Those moments, it’s okay. And it’s good.

But there are other times when our job is to step up and kick overwhelm right in the bum! This is for those days. You’ve got this. Hells yeah.

You can journal this out—in audio or paper form, whichever suits you. Or, if you don’t have the bandwidth for that, you can just take a few moments to breathe and answer each question silently, in your head.

Seven Questions to Overcome Overwhelm and Find Your Next Right Step

1. First, check in with yourself. Take the refreshing kind of deep breath. What are you feeling? Where in your body are you feeling it? Why do you think that is?

2. What do you want most right now? What do you want most in the long run? If those are two very different things, which would be the kindest and most loving? How will you feel when you get the thing you want? How do you want to feel?

3. What would REALLY help? What do you need in this moment?

4. What secret messages has life been sending lately? What themes or patterns or words keep popping up? What might they be trying to tell you?

5. In light of those messages, what intuitively feels like your next right step?

6. If you are completely stumped by any or all of these questions, what’s behind that? How do you feel when you think about trusting yourself? Is there peace? Is there fear? If there’s fear: see it, feel it, trust that it won’t overtake you. And then, let it go. What would it look like to trust yourself today?

7. What are you going to do right now to make this day yours? GO for it!

And now, fun news!

I originally created this exercise to replace The Co-Conniver’s Guide as a gift for the creative healers that join this community by subscribing to my blog. But, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote this blessing that kind of blew up. My best friend said it was her favorite thing I’d ever written. Several people printed it out to post on their wall. And a crapload of people shared it and wrote to tell me how much it meant to them.

Which is amazing! And makes me feel all chocolate chip cookie-y inside.

SO. I had an idea. I asked my amazing graphic designer/husband to make it into a beautiful PDF that you could print out and hang wherever you wanted! He’s working on that now, and as soon as he finishes, I will send it to all of the people who are already subscribed! It’ll go to everyone in the community—those who’ve already signed up and anyone who does in the future.

And I’ll share The Co-Conniver’s Guide here on the blog for every who stops by, with the other free books.

So, yay! I’m really excited about this. He’s a gifted artist. I’m stoked to see what he’s going to do.

Ohh, also! I’m doing this crazy operation that’s tailor-made for creative healers and very specifically the early adaptors. It’s called The Shalom Experiment and I hope you’ll check it out!

All the love, friend. I hope this helped with overwhelm and other things. Take good care!

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