Everyone called her Mother. It didn’t particularly matter how you were affiliated. She was my great-grandmother on my father’s side. Tall and slender, and aptly named Maud (although I didn’t learn that until years after her passing).

She had a nickname for everyone. Mine was Sittin’ Hen. Even as a child I resented it because I understood that she could do what most people couldn’t, she could see past who you pretended to be and pinpoint exactly who you were, in that moment. She saw past my ego and even past my ambition and got to the root: I was overwhelmingly and completely lazy.

She passed away sometime between late middle school and high school and, sadly, I remember very little about her. I can tell a few stories. I can describe her, but I can’t see into her. Even when she was with us, I couldn’t look into her the way she did me. I couldn’t give her a name.

maggie and milly and molly and may 
went down to the beach (to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles, and 

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were; 

and molly was chased by a horrible thing 
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles: and 

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone. 

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me) 
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea 
— e.e. cummings

No one has called me Sittin’ Hen before or since, but when things get difficult, or when I can’t seem to put the pieces together, I wonder if it’s me who’s part of the problem.

What are you willing to give up? 

The conversation was brief, but inconvenient. I’d been doing my best to say that this wasn’t a good time for a meeting, especially not one with a motivational pitch. We had metrics, targets, unrealistic deadlines.

He scheduled the meeting to discuss her new book. She was a real estate broker turned nonprofit executive, turned motivational speaker, turned teacher.

She’d started volunteering with young women who were gravely in need of their high school credentials. Women who’d dropped out long ago and were now saddled with the schedules and responsibilities of working wives and mothers. She wanted to encourage them to push forward and continue, but wanted them to understand that the road would be tough.

What are you willing to give up? 

Rose

  • I started Chapter 1 of 17. I’m two paragraphs in and on my third rewrite already.
  • We bought new journals at the art store, and I got more for my birthday. I found one that’s the perfect size and color.
  • I labeled and tabbed all the chapters (although the pages are still blank). Baby steps!
  • I am inspired! I don’t know when or how it happened. I think I might finally do it this time.
  • He updated his Patreon account and added more work and new prints. Check it out!
  • Some newer pieces were accepted into the Citywide Art Show at TSU’s Museum of African-American Art.

Vern.PNG

Bud

  • My mom let me steal her sewing machine. I’m going to reteach myself how to sew!
  • My writing strategies are getting more consistent, although the routine changes regularly. It’s difficult for me to sit and write from start to finish on one piece if I don’t already have an idea in my mind. What works best is if I do the following:
    1. List/create blog titles while I’m fighting sleep or fighting traffic.
    2. During meetings at work, jot down any questions that need answers or important points I can’t leave out.
    3. During lunch, create the first 1-3 paragraphs only (because that’s usually all I can think of).
    4. After work, develop the story/issues further.
    5. Edit, rinse, repeat.

Thorn

  • I’m impatient for progress and change.
  • I was ugly this week– sullen and bitter. I took it out on everyone. The struggle!

What are you willing to give up? 

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