Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Come As You Are

 I want to be a come-as-you-are-friend. 

I want my friends to come as they are when we're together. Rough day? Haven't showered in a week? Going through something hard? Not feeling yourself? Perfect. Come as you are. 

I want my friends to know they don't ever have to censor themselves around me. You don't ever have to say, "I hope this doesn't sound bad, but..." Sound bad. It's okay to sound bad around me. Come as you are.

I want my friends to know that I'm a safe place for them to erupt like a volcano, laugh like a lunatic, and cry their ugliest without ever feeling judged. I love you in all the ways and I don't ever want you to quiet yourself around me. Come as you are. 

I want my friends to know I'm here for all their controversial opinions. It doesn't matter if I agree or I don't, I'm here for your thoughts. Can't post it on Facebook without a cat fight breaking out with an entire side of your family and also some strangers? PERFECT, I'm here for your unedited thoughts. Come as you are. 

I want my friends to know I'm there for the middle place. Don't have it figured out? Still in the woods? Stuck in a struggle and you're not sure you're way out yet? I'll plop myself down in that uncomfortable place with you and pour you a glass of wine. Your mess doesn't scare me. Come as you are.

I want my friends to know I'm there for their celebrations. Don't tone down your successes around me. I want to shriek and clap in the front row of all your accomplishments. I want to get a text with the video of your son taking his first steps and I want a screenshot of the email that says you got the job. Come as you are. 

I want my friends to know they can be "too much" around me.  Be loud, be funny, be obnoxious, be crazy. I love you for all your too muchness. Don't turn down the volume or edit the you out of yourself when you're with me. Come as you are.

I want my friends to know they can be "not enough" around me. Be tired, be empty, be quiet. When you run out of gas and when you need a good long nap I'm still here. Come as you are. 

I want my friends to feel completely free to be THEMSELVES around me. Be you. In all your tiredness, in all your loudness, in all your opinions (uncensored), in all your big feelings. Come as you are. Be you in your stained T-shirt and your dry shampooed hair or be you in your cute Instagram worthy outfit and recently whitened teeth. Be you. I want you to be you because that's what friendship is all about: you being you and me being me and loving each other through it all. 

Come as you are. 

Written by Wonderoak by Jess Johnston

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Sunday, July 26, 2020

This is a bit random, but ...

I love this so much I just had to share it.

This is a bit random, but ... (by Philip DeFranco) ... psst. Be nicer to yourself.

If you're anything like me that voice in your head can be pretty brutal at times. Try talking to yourself like someone you care about. Also if this is completely off base, I'm sorry, and also I hate you for having your shit completely together. 😛

Also if this feels random, it is. Sometimes that's how important words have to hit you; Seemingly out of nowhere when your guard is down.

Love yo face,

-Philip DeFranco

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

July Resolutions

I like most people write my New Year's Resolutions in January, break them within about 30 days, and after that never look back at them.

I decided to bust them out over the weekend. I read them and didn't just laugh, but laughed hysterically.

Yep, I threw them out and started over.

I know this year has been an extreme year, but the goals I wrote in January were written in a different time. (It's crazy how MUCH things have changed in six short months.) We're in a new normal now. (Good grief I hate that phrase.) It's time for a do over.

Here are my redirected goals:

1. Walk every day. Whether it is for 5 minutes or 50.

2. Network daily. Invest in your career by investing in others.

3. Encourage 1 person a day. Reach out and say, "I see you."

4. Spend 2 hours a week learning. (I read A LOT.) Foster your curiosity. 

5. Be more aware of others. Put yourself in their shoes. Think from their perspective. What could you be doing better as a leader, teammate, partner, aunt, cousin, spouse, etc. 

Sometimes you need to regroup, redirect, and try again. 


What are your plans for the second half of 2020?


Why Aren't We Confident?

I received this fantastic email today from Team EBY ... and I'd love to share it with you, in case you missed it.

Credit: Apartment Therapy

Be a lady, they said. 

...Don’t talk too loud. Don’t talk too much. Don’t take up space. Don’t sit like that. Don’t stand like that. Don’t be intimidating. Why are you so miserable? Don’t be a bitch. Don’t be so bossy. Don’t be assertive. Don’t overact. Don’t be so emotional. Don’t cry. Don’t yell. Don’t swear. Be passive. Be obedient. Endure the pain. 

- Camille Rainville, “Be a Lady, They Said”

Did you know? One in three girls with a grade point average above 4.0 do not think they are smart enough for their dream career.

Read that again. That’s every third peer, sister, daughter, or friend you know. Let it dawn on you, the realization that these smart, capable women face an epidemic no matter how deserving they truly are.

Why aren’t we confident? Why can’t we seem to escape these assaults to our self-esteem? Why do we never feel smart enough? Pretty enough? Strong enough? Good enough?

It's simple. From the time we were young until now we've been told to be something other than who we are, had expectations placed on us from society's norms, and told we need validation from others to feel confident in who we are.

No longer.

We are not asking for permission to be ourselves, we are demanding that our whole selves be accepted. We are powerful just as we are but we must now figure out how to let the rest of the world in on that secret.


Power Tip 1: Take up as much space as you want

Power Tip 2: Talk as loud as you want

Power Tip 3: Yell. Swear. Cry. Emotion is powerful


Stop listening to who the world says you are 'supposed to be' and just be. Hell yeah, it feels vulnerable and scary to put yourself out there, but it's the path one must take to step fully into your most powerful and confident self. The world is waiting.

Want to read more? Check out their blog HERE.

I'm not sure if you needed to hear this today, but I sure did.


Monday, June 22, 2020

Change is Hard

(Photo: Pedro Lastra/Getty Images)

The word change normally refers to new beginnings. But transformation, the mystery we’re examining, more often happens not when something new begins, but when something old falls apart. The pain of something old falling apart—chaos—invites the soul to listen at a deeper level. It invites, and sometimes forces, the soul to go to a new place because the old place is falling apart. Most of us would never go to new places in any other way. The mystics use many words to describe this chaos: fire, dark night, death, emptiness, abandonment, trial, the Evil One. Whatever it is, it does not feel good and it does not feel like God. We will do anything to keep the old thing from falling apart. 

This is when we need patience and guidance, and the freedom to let go instead of tightening our controls and certitudes. Perhaps Jesus is describing just this phenomenon when he says, “It is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13–14). Not accidentally, he mentions this narrow road right after teaching the Golden Rule. He knows how much letting go it takes to “treat others as you would like them to treat you” (7:12). So, a change can force a transformation. Spiritual transformation always includes a usually disconcerting reorientation. It can either help people to find a new meaning or it can force people to close down and slowly turn bitter. The difference is determined precisely by the quality of our inner life, our spirituality.

—from The Wisdom Pattern: Order, Disorder, Reorder by Richard Rohr, OFM

Sunday, June 21, 2020

You are Worth More than Many Sparrows

(Image from the www.deccanherald.com)
A dear friend of mine shared this beautiful reflection her father wrote and I'd love to share it with you all on this Father's Day 2020. I hope you all have had a wonderful Sunday. And without further ado ...

“…You are Worth More than Many Sparrows.” by Brian Conroy

My father, an Englishman, would call whomever was the youngest among his brood of grandchildren “My little Sparrow.”  It was a sweet and gentle term of endearment.  To hear it coming from a strong, manly carpenter, as my dad was, made it even more endearing.  He loved his little ones and doted on them unabashedly.

Externally, his life was governed by his sense of duty, order, simplicity, and righteousness, but his heart was wild with love.  He loved his wife with a relentless devotion.  He loved his God the same way.  Each morning, as he prepared for work before the rest of the household awoke, he could be found on his knees – literally – in prayer at the beginning of the day.  A Catholic gentleman in every respect.

I was privileged to have been present at his death after his long encounter with cancer.  He died in such holy peace I was left with the most profound experience of my life.  I became witness to the arc of a life well lived.  A life  balanced between duty and love, between work and the arts.  He was very much as I imagine Saint Joseph to have been – a “righteous man, a working man.”  Tradition holds that Jesus and his mother Mary were present at Joseph’s death.  I am convinced they were there with my father too “…now, and at the hour of his death.”

Here at the Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time we are past the Glory of Easter, the Pentecost that concluded it and the beautiful Solemnities of Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi that followed.  Here we are now in Ordinary Time, living ordinary lives in extraordinary circumstances: a perplexing, frightening pandemic, intense but necessary social disruption.  It is a time when as Jeremiah says today, “I hear the whisperings of many: ‘Terror on every side.’”

While our days are difficult and many a reckoning is at hand, each and every human being, as daughter or son of God, is assured that he or she should “Fear no one.” The Father knows us, knows our needs; every sparrow falling is held in the gaze and love of God.  “Are you not worth more than many sparrows?” Jesus asks.  And we hear Saint Paul today assuring us of this truth, that Jesus Christ, the love of God made visible, is the gracious gift of God that “overflows” for us. 

The image of falling sparrows in today’s reading reminded me of my own dad and the witness to love and mercy he gave me.  What does that image say about the Heavenly Father we encounter in the Gospel today – God as a severe judge, or God as loving and merciful Father, wild with love for his children?  – If that is the case, how can we in turn treat those around us any other way?  How can we fail to love our fellow human beings the way God loves them; the way the Father knows and loves us?  “Even all the hairs of your head are counted.”

We who are fathers ourselves model for our children who and what God is.  We teach them by who and what we are and what we do; it’s quite a responsibility to live up to.  For me to model the love of God the way my own dad did - this takes grace and mercy itself.

In my mind’s eye, I can still see my father with a little one on his lap and hear him say in his South-of- England accent, “How’s Grandpa’s little sparrow then?”

Friday, April 3, 2020

Help Animals Effected By Pandemic

As I've mentioned before, my husband and I own a zoo in Branson, Missouri, in the heart of the Ozarks. We have lived here full time for almost two years now, and absolutely love our Ozark life, but we need a little help keeping the animals fed while our zoo is closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If don't need any more information and you'd like to make a monetary donation now, you can do it one of two ways:

GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/wild-world-animal-care-fund

PayPal: PayPal.me/BransonsWildWorld

If you'd like a little more information, here's what's going on ...

Humans are not the only species to be greatly effected by the outbreak of COVID-19. Zoo animals across the United States are also at risk. No, these animals in a large part cannot contract the disease, but they do need daily care, bedding, heat and electricity, medicines, and most importantly food to survive. With most of the country on quarantine, this has now become a serious issue for many smaller, privately owned zoos.

Branson's Wild World is a small zoo and aquarium in the tourist town of Branson, MO. This attraction has been especially hit hard by this pandemic, due to the nature of the town itself. The winter is especially slow for Branson, and most businesses use most or all of their savings to get through the months of January and February. Then in March, spring break helps everyone climb out of debt and function normally. This is true for the zoo, too. However, with the upswing of COVID-19 cases, Branson was mandatorily closed for the month of spring break, and possibly will be for many more months to come. Many businesses can close and conserve money, but not an aquarium and zoo like Branson's Wild World. The tropical animals need heat. Electricity runs filters and pumps for fish and UV bulbs for reptiles. They need water to drink and food to eat. It takes about five full time staff to cover all the vital tasks. Being closed for any amount of time can be devastating.

Due to this outbreak and our desperate need for funds, we are asking for animal lovers to donate whatever you can to help our animal friends. All proceeds of this GoFundMe will go directly to the care of the 400+ species of animals we have in our care. We have applied for SBA disaster relief funding, but everyone says it could take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks to receive anything. Our goal is to raise money to get thru this waiting process. Our goal is $15,000.

Thank you for considering to help us. Our website is www.bransonswildworld.com if you would like to see pictures of our wolves, sharks, dingoes, and many other animals your donation will be providing for.

If you'd like to make a monetary donation, you can do it one of two ways. 

One, we have a GoFundMe set up here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/wild-world-animal-care-fund

Two, you can donate via PayPal: PayPal.me/BransonsWildWorld 

If you'd like to make a food donation, here is the list of food items we feed our animals each week:

Romaine 20 heads
Carrots 10lbs
Cucumber 8lbs
Squash 8lbs
Zucchini 8lbs
Bell peppers 5lbs
Sweet potato 10lbs
Celery 4lbs
Mixed greens 5 lbs
Broccoli 5lbs
Cauliflower 4lbs
Apples 10lbs
Strawberries 4 lbs
Bananas 15lbs
Oranges 10lbs
Blueberry 2 lbs
Grapes 10 lbs
Mangos 7
Kiwi 2 lbs
Pears 5 lbs
Cantaloupe 2
Watermelon 2
Chicken 460lbs
Beef 100 lbs
Fish 50 lbs

Thank you so much, in advance, for your help.