Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Accidental Activists- Part 3

Thank you for following along so far on Part 1 and Part 2 of this journey. Brian and I continue to be touched by your words of encouragement and support. We are so very grateful. 

Tuesday July 12, 2016
Early Tuesday, Brian was interviewed by Gayle King from CBS This Morning. (Click here to see a 56 second clip of this interview.) 

He kept his promise to me and told Ms. King I was the biggest fan of her BFF, Oprah. He then said, "Y'all are welcome at the house anytime for dinner." Ha! She laughed (but I'm serious!) Ms. King did ask for his digits though- and crazier things have happened in this past month- so who knows. As I wrote in Part 2, I'm a renewed believer in miracles. 

Brian had several more interviews that morning and attended the Dallas Police Department Memorial Service that afternoon. Below is a photo he texted me from his seat. 

Brian has received hundreds (and I do mean hundreds) of emails, calls, texts, and letters from people who were moved by his message. Here is one we received that Tuesday from a neighbor. This one touched us both.

Wednesday July 13, 2016
Wednesday morning we headed to DFW airport. CNN was flying us to New York City for Black, White, and Blue, a town hall on race moderated by Don Lemon. Brian was recognized and stopped five times on the way to the restroom near our gate. (Strangers still approach him to thank him for speaking out about his experiences with racism. They offer their prayers and tell them him how his words have impacted them personally.) It was an odd feeling for me (and I'm certain for him) to know that when out in public, people may be looking at us and know who we were. I've always appreciated the anonymity factor that came along with living in a big city. Right before our plane took off, I sent this message to my friends on Facebook:

Brian's phone exploded with texts and emails as soon as we landed in NYC. ABC wanted him to go to Washington, DC the next day for a town hall on race moderated by David Muir. Beni and I were also invited. Since President Obama was going to be present, we needed to let them know asap and provide them with information (including our social security numbers) so the Secret Service could start on our clearance. Say what!?!?! Life was getting more and more surreal by the moment! 

Stay tuned for more.....

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Accidental Activists- Part 2

On Tuesday, I posted Accidental Activists- Part 1. Thank you, dear Readers, for your blog comments, Facebook comments and shares, and private messages. Most of all, thank you for your support for Brian and me on this roller coaster journey. 

Before I get to part 2, I want you all to know that I have B's permission to share all of this. In fact, he is one of my proofreaders. We both believe God has a hand in all of this and we (B and I) are just the instruments. (To show you how much all this affected him, I'll tell you a secret. He could not verbally articulate a belief in God or a greater power prior to all of this happening.) We feel B's role in these events is bigger than us and our "small" problems. Without seeking it, he was given an incredible platform and a chance to give a voice to the voiceless. 

Now, here we go with part 2: 

Monday, July 11th, 2016
9:47 am- I received two texts from Brian (he was at work): 
Can you please call me? And then a minute or so later,
I am reaching out. I need help.

I was just leaving the grocery store but called him back immediately. We talked about how he was feeling and what he was thinking. He mentioned a press conference was scheduled for that afternoon at 1:00pm CST. He was asked to attend. We discussed the possibility of him not doing it because he was feeling very emotional. I told him I thought he had a unique perspective on the Dallas police ambush that no one else in the world had, but that I was also afraid he might "lose it." I wasn't used to him being emotional or him asking me for help. This was all new territory for us. At the end of our call, I encouraged him to try to rest at work, if possible, and to meditate and focus on his breaths.

Here is an abbreviated exchange of the texts we sent to each other after our phone conversation.

B: I will speak from the heart. I will not lose it.
Me: Even if you do lose it and the world comes crumbling down, I will stand by you.
B: Thank you. I'm heading over now. [to the press conference]
Me: Let me know how it goes. Remember, God put you there [at the hospital on the night of the shooting] for a reason. 
B: [Walking into the press conference.] CNN is here.

Neither of us had ANY clue that the press conference was going to be televised live nationally on CNN, MSNBC, or FOX News. And by the time he sent that last text, I was on my way to the gym (and had not set the DVR.) I was on the elliptical machine but hopped off when I saw him on the TV. I held up my phone Say Anything-style, and recorded his close captioned statements. I tapped the guy next to me who was working out on another elliptical machine. He had to pull out an earphone to hear me. "Hey! That's my husband!" Then I proceeded to wave to all the other people in the cardio room and point at the TV screens with one hand (while still holding up my phone and recording with the other hand). "That's my husband!" I'll bet no one heard my excited yell given they all were wearing earphones, so I'm sure that made me appear somewhat unstable. But I was (and still am) such a proud wife. I'm proud that he courageously spoke his truth and expressed his complex feelings regarding this tragic situation. I know him better than anyone else on this earth, so I know just how difficult it was for him to speak out. I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen him get choked up. B very rarely talks about racial issues with others, he is private (people have said he's an enigma) and he does NOT desire to be in the limelight. He didn't know what he was going to say that day, but he told me he felt his mouth open and the words just came spilling out. This was so out of his comfort zone, I'm telling you all now- this was nothing short of a miracle that we all witnessed televised live on national TV.

My sister texted me that she was watching with her kids and they were "glued to the TV." Apparently, they were as excited to see Uncle Brian on TV as I was. My sister's 6-year-old said it was cool that Uncle Brian was now famous but that it was still very sad. Meanwhile, I was trying to read the closed captioning from two different stations- FOX news was playing on a wall-mounted TV and MSNBC was playing on the elliptical machine I was now only standing on. Sadly, I missed the shout out when he said I was helping him get through this tragedy. But, I'm still grateful he said it!  

Brian's text to me after the press conference said it all:
Made my decision out of love, not fear.

After that press conference, he received numerous print, radio, and TV interview requests. Everyone wanted to talk to him. People came out of the woodwork (in a good way!) and were texting and calling and emailing and Facebook posting that they saw B on TV. I continued with normalcy- picking up our daughter from summer camp and taking her to gymnastics class- but things started to feel surreal. While still at gymnastics, Brian texted that Don Lemon wanted B on his CNN show that night. I got a last minute babysitter (thanks Jennifer!) so I could be there to support him, and we headed to a studio downtown.  

Getting ready for the live interview via satellite
Brian got emotional for the second time (in one day!) on national television.

Click below to see segments of the CNN Don Lemon interview.
Dallas Trauma Surgeon: This has to stop 
Surgeon describes treating Dallas officer Part 1
Surgeon describes treating Dallas officer Part 2

When we got home Brian casually mentioned he had more media interviews scheduled early the next morning and one was with Gayle King from CBS. Gayle King, Oprah's BFF! As you all know, to say I am a fan of Oprah is a ginormous understatement. I (not so casually) asked him to please tell Gayle that I am Oprah's biggest supporter. Then we collapsed into bed, wondering just where this roller coaster was headed. 


Stay posted for more of our extraordinary journey including: NYC and the CNN Town Hall, DC and my conversation with the POTUS, and also- are Gayle and Oprah coming for dinner?  

Did Brian's emotional statements impact you in a positive way? Do you feel "the miracle" involved in all of this now that you have some insight from "behind the scenes?" Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.   

Monday, July 18, 2016

Accidental Activists- Part 1

Hello my dear, dear Readers! I've been meaning to get back to blogging for sometime now, but apparently it has taken my husband trending on Twitter and me meeting the POTUS for that to happen. Surreal, I know. My private, introverted husband is all over the interwebs! And for several days last week, he was on television screens all over the world as well.  

Brian and I are both in shock and in awe at the events, the schedule, the serendipity, the context, the impact, the travel, and the significance of the past 10 or so days. On Thursday July 7th, I was just a (somewhat) normal stay-at-home mama. By the following Thursday, I was holding the hand of the President (of the United f-ing States!) and having a conversation with him.

So much has happened that I've put off writing about it out of sheer overwhelm. In order to push past my procrastination and get this posted in a timely manner, I've decided to write about my experiences in stages. Here we go...

Part One

On the night of July 7, 2016, several Dallas police officers were gunned down in the street following a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. My husband, Brian, was the trauma surgeon on call at Parkland Memorial Hospital that night. He cared for seven of the officers and had to tell the families of the loved ones he was unable to save. While this incident was horrific, I was still somewhat surprised by Brian's level of distress. I knew the recent police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile had been weighing on his mind for several days prior to the police shootings. And I knew he'd had several negative experiences himself with the police. (And of course, I knew he was black.) But we've been together for 15 years, and during that time he's seen a lot of horrendous things in the emergency and operating rooms. Trauma is in his job title. He'd never cried before about his job (heck, he'd never cried the first 14 years I knew him!). I didn't put all the pieces together. And neither did he.

The evening following the police ambush (Friday), we attended a kids disco dance party that we hosted along with another family. The only unusual event was that Lester Holt was going to interview Brian on the NBC Nightly news but B ended up being bumped by Hilary Clinton. On Saturday we went to see The Secret Life of Pets with another family. On Sunday we attended church. The reverend said something along the lines of: Don't be afraid of breaking into pieces. Just choose broken open instead of broken apart. Brian cried. He and I spoke about the irony that he was working that night. He wasn't supposed to be but switched to accommodate a coworker's request. Despite the tragic events that rocked Dallas and our country and Brian's important role in them, our lives were still somewhat normal. 

Then Monday happened...

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Woman to Admire: Kristen Roedner

Dear Reader, I'm so excited for you to meet Kristen Roedner. Can't you just feel the sunshine she radiates from her being?

Kristen is one of the most LIVE OUT LOUD women I know. We met in Boston, circa 2002ish, through our sorority alumnae group. Delta Delta Delta, y'all!
Kristen hosts "Spread Sparkle" meetings at her home. It kills me that I live too far away to attend. She's been on me to start my own chapter.  I'll keep you posted if I do.

As I mentioned in a previous post, she drives a freakin' pink flying pig.

And there's a rainbow painted on the hood. Of course.

For the past two years, Beni and I spent the last week of summer break with her and her incredible daughter, Rosa Jane. The notes Kristen taped around her house for RJ made my heart melt. And made me excited to do the same once Beni can read.

Kristen's home is filled with art, art supplies, and inspiration.  I took the below photos last August. Two glittering reindeers and a flying pig Christmas tree are on display year round. Because they make her happy.

(Side note: I've never met anyone with more colored pencils than me. Her stash blew mine out of the water. I'm pretty sure I'd take her on ribbon and glitter though.)

But why all the pink flying pigs, you ask? She wrote an incredible blog post to explain her obsession. After you read it, you will know why I love her so much.

Kristen oozes sparkle and inspiration. And you want to know the craziest thing? She says I inspire her.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Mid-Life Reboot

Whoa! Today I'm 40!

Today is the first of the month and the very first day of the next year (and decade!) of my life.   While I'm grateful that I've made it this far (many are not as lucky), I also have some less than positive feelings about entering this next decade. There's no denying that I'm really middle aged now. And it's bizarre to think that tomorrow I will be closer to 50 than I am to 30. And closer to 60 than I am to 20! It's hard to wrap my head around that one.

As I lived the last month in my 30's, I started evaluating my life. For the past few weeks I've asked myself:
  • Am I creating the life I desire? (A life that sparkles!)
    • Do my daily activities reflect my values?
    • Am I living with intention? With mindfulness?
    • What life goals am I neglecting?
  • Am I nourishing myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally?
  • Am I nourishing my important relationships?
    • Am I the mother/ wife/ sister/ friend/ daughter that I want to be?
    • Would I be happy with how my close friends and family decribe me?
By sitting with these questions for several weeks, I've identified areas that need attention. While I'm not in a mid-life crisis, I'm definitely in need of a mid-life reboot. 

So for the next 365 days, I'm a woman on a mission. I've set nine goals for myself (symbolic because my birthday is in September). These goals are realisitic but will be challenging as they will require almost daily attention and/or action.

So here goes! By September 1, 2015, I will... 
  • go on 40 health adventures (I'm thinking of activities along the lines of hiking, rollerskating, and pole dancing classes) 
  • prepare 40 home-cooked, healthy, whole food, family meals
  • do 40 meditation sessions (each at least 5 minutes long*)
  • fill 40 or more pages in my gratitude journal
  • post 40 blog entries
  • participate in 40 Spanish learning sessions (at least 10 minutes each*)
  • work on my book 40 times (at least 10 minutes each*)
  • go on 40 dates with my hubby (not an easy task with a husband who works insane hours)
  • snail mail 40 letters to my friends and loved ones

* I will probably go longer than 5-10 minutes. But just knowing I only HAVE to do a few minutes, means it's more likely that I'll get started. It's a goal-setting Jedi mind-trick I'm playing on myself.

As I look over this list and think about everything else that is going on in my life, I realize this is an ambitious list of goals. But hey, what better time than now?

Wish me luck, Dear Readers. I'll be posting about my progress and counting on you to help keep me accountable. I also welcome fellow goal setters on this journey. Is there something you would like to work on?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I've Been Busy

It's been a long while since my last post. I'm still working on balancing time between the demands of motherhood, quality time with my husband, traveling to see family and friends, and my wellness, creative, and personal pursuits (of which blogging is one.) My blog ends up on the bottom of the list. And for some crazy reason, I even feel a bit guilty about my lack of blog posts. But why, I ask myself? No one is paying me to post. And while many people have commented that they enjoy reading my blog, I don't think anyone is anxiously awaiting the next NCB update. 
(But if you are, please let me know!) 

Since I haven't been blogging as much, I'll fill you in on some of my activities for the past few months. I've been focusing on some important things in my daughter's life. Things that are here today, but gone tomorrow. And I've been quite busy….

clearing traffic jams,

 attempting potty training,

pimping my child's ride,

mastering architecture and castle construction,

(and I'm actually quite proud of these),

building a sled MacGyver-style from a diaper box, packing tape, and belt, 

(and then letting go of the reign),

encouraging self-expression,

exploring our city,

giving Elmo dreadlocks and then supervising his haircut,

and driving a rocketship-sized cart throughout Whole Foods 
while navigating wild animals and an "I want this!" meltdown. 
(In full disclosure, this might have been the first time I didn't run into an aisle. 
These carts are huge. And tricky, my friend.)

Thanks for your patience between my posts. And thank you for following Nourish. Create. Bloom, 
my Dear Readers.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Glittering Thanks

A Very Happy Thanksgiving 2013

Here's how we give glitter thanks at our house.
Turkey Craft Number 1: Glam Gobbler
Clockwise from top left:
1. We found the inspiration for our turkey on a window at Beni's preschool.
2. I'm teaching her early- you can NEVER add too much sparkle.
3. Turkey in progress…

And here is our Glam Gobbler making his internet debut:

We were both so happy with how he turned out. He's a keeper for sure.
Turkey Craft Number 2: Sending Gratitude
Clockwise from top left:
1. and 2. Making handprint turkeys with paint and glitter.
3. The finished product says: We are thankful for you.
4. Sending our love to Godparents, grandparents, and beloved aunts and uncles.

Celebrating Thanksgiving at Preschool
Clockwise from top left: 

1. Beni-Bird modeling her Native American headband.
2. The Williams family feather: what we are thankful for.
3. Side view of previously mentioned fashionable headdress.
4. A huge turkey of thanks at Beni's school (one feather contributed by each family.)

Thanksgiving Day Traditions

Clockwise from top left:

1. and 3. Watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
2. Our vegetarian meal.
4. One dessert for each of us. 

A Night of Thanks

Clockwise from top left:
1. Gratitude-themed books.
2. Sitting by the fire for story time.
3. My art journal entry for 11-28-2013.
4. I've been recording blessings in my gratitude journal since 2002.

And one more thing I'm so grateful for…..
 you, Dear Reader.

PS: Please forgive the funky formatting and the extra spaces. I swear, it doesn't look like this on my end. I spent over an hour trying to fix it and then decided to publish "as is" before I lose my good feelings of gratitude. What a relief it is to let go of "perfection"!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Oh My, Lucky Star!

Last March my spirited friend, Kristen Roedner (who's been rumored to poop rainbows), told me about a whole living art camp I just *had* to attend. Since I have the utmost confidence in her creative recommendations, I immediately signed up.

Now, fast forward to early this October when Kristen picked me up at the San Antonio airport in her pink flying pig. 

The two of us headed off on the backroads of the Texas Hill Country with the sun shining, top down, hats on, and me feeling like Thelma. Or Louise. Our destination: Lucky Start Art Camp. 

Lucky Star was a Texas-sized experience. I could write several blog posts about it, but since I've been a bit lax on the blogging lately, I'm going to cram it all into this one. I hope the magical essence of the experience shines through my words and photos. 

Look at this place! Lucky Star Art Camp was held at Waldemar, an all-girl's camp in continuous operation since 1926. 

I'm pretty sure my Waldemar cabin was built (and possibly decorated) in 1926. How I wish I had taken photos to show you! There was a kitschy Western cowboy mural on the wall over the fireplace. And kitschy Western cowboy comforters on the bunks. And kitschy Western cowboy curtains over the windows. I loved it all! Everyday as I stepped into my cowboy boots, this East Coast girl felt like a real Texan. (For the the first time, even though we moved to Dallas three years ago.)

While there were a variety of lodging options, I went for the full-camp experience and bunked with Kristen and four strangers, who I came to adore.  My cabinmates were an incredible mix of women: the famous novelist, the intuitive healer, the hilarious Jersey girl who once kissed Bradley Cooper, the super sweet and quiet Houston stay-at-home mama, Kristen, and me. Six of us in a small rustic cabin with one bathroom and four bunk beds. It could have been a disaster, but it was magic. We laughed, we cried, we stayed up late to talk. I felt like I was back in my sorority house. My cabinmates and the other women I met at camp were remarkable, creative, generous spirits who made my experience sparkle.

A wide array of classes were offered at camp: quilting, jewelry making, sewing, canning and preserving, cheese-making, photography, apothocary, intuitive healing, painting, creative writing, and more. It was hard to narrow down my choices, but I finally selected:

1. Happy Painting with Juliette Crane (held on the banks of the Guadalupe River!)

2. Dreambook by Shawn Stratmann, and 

3. How to Write a Children's Story by Katherine Center.
(BTW, I just finished her latest novel, The Lost Husband, and I highly recommend it.)

Besides our classes, we could hike and explore, paddleboard or canoe, swim, do yoga, or horseback riding. And the food! Fresh and local and healthy. But most of all, yummy.  We had incredible evening programs about slow family living, eating well for the planet, and dream setting. After evening program, we sat around the campfire and listened to Mandy Rowden sing and play her guitar. All that was missing was a round of kumbaya.

I really shouldn't complain about anything. Except that I'm a nature lover who would prefer to never see creepy crawlies. And two cabins down a tarantula was found outside. And scorpions frequent this part of Texas. And a frog got into our cabin one night. I am big-time bug phobic and would also prefer frogs stayed outside. Good thing I didn't see any of them, so I was still able to sleep. Braving the wild creatures of Texas was worth it, and I'm already signed up for Lucky Star next year.


And don't worry, Dear Reader, I know you want to hear more about my friend, Kristen, so a whole post on her is coming soon.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My Mom and Alzheimer's- Forever Grateful for Just ONE Moment

Me and my mama, Jacqueline Joslin Sellers.
In this photo, my mom is 39, the age I am now.

I had a "normal" mother for the first 30 years of my life. But by my wedding date, she was no longer the mom I knew.

My mother has Alzheimer's Disease.

When I finally became a mother at the age of 36, the "loss" of my own mother became more apparent. Strands of this deep loss are woven into my extreme joy. I see how my friends' mothers interact with their grandchildren and I feel sad. Sad that my daughter, my mother, and I were all robbed of generational experiences that I now long for. 

My mother will never know my daughter. My daughter will know of her maternal grandmother, but she will never know her. Not on this Earth, or in this lifetime anyway. I am comforted by a vivid dream my sister, Marilee, recently shared with me. In it, my mother told Marilee that when she wasn't here (mentally present), she was with God and it was beautiful. Marilee said my mother radiated peace and that Mom was the happiest and most beautiful she'd ever seen her.

I'm embarrassed and saddened to admit I never truly appreciated my mother until I became a mother myself. Until then, I focused on her flaws and her parenting faults. But now I want to ask her how she did it. How did she manage birthing and caring for my four brothers all by the age of 26? How and why did she manage to have six children when I find one overwhelming? How did she sacrifice so much to raise us all? How did she not seem to be tired, stressed, or depleted? These are questions that will go unanswered.

At the end of September, my little girl (I call her Beni-Bird) and I flew from Texas to the east coast to visit my family. We made an overnight trip to my hometown and got a chance to see my mom. 

My brother, Paul, and Marilee tried to prepare me as I hadn't seen her for two years. Mom is now in a wheelchair, they said, and sometimes she is unresponsive. Paul said he stayed only three minutes last time because it was just too painful to see her in that state. 

As fate would have it, when I saw Mom it was a "good day" for her. She was awake, and alert, and in a pleasant mood. I knew Mom wouldn't know who we were. But still I was unprepared when my brother, Mark, introduced my sister and I and she asked, "But where are the real ones?" 

My active two and 1/2-year-old seemed to sense the seriousness of the moment. She was very still as I introduced her. "Beni, this is my mama, your grandmother."

At the end of our visit, we all wheeled Mom back into the dining room of the Alzheimer's unit. We put her at the table amid the other unit residents, some who needed to be fed by an aide because they had forgotten how to feed themselves. Mom asked us not to leave her because then, "Who will I talk to?" 

I put Beni in front of her and once again told Mom this was my daughter, her granddaughter. Mom just kept repeating, "she's so beautiful, she's so beautiful" and even got teary as she said it. This was my ONE moment. My mother acknowledged my daughter on an emotional (and dare I say spiritual) level. 

Then, with tears streaming down my face, I knelt down by my mother's side and told her she was a good mother. I told her I loved her very much and I gave her a hug. And then I got a second gift- she told me she loved me. 

There is a lot my family lost to Alzheimer's disease. But on that visit, I was given one precious moment of my mother, myself, and my daughter all together; and my mom was as aware as she could possibly be. She was moved to tears by my child, and it was a beautiful ONE moment. That moment is all I will likely ever have. So I will hold onto it. And repeat it often to my daughter. And forever be grateful. Forever grateful for ONE moment.


Dear Reader, please take note:

November is the month to celebrate gratitude. It also happens to be my mom's birthday month and National Alzheimer's Awareness Month. For all of these reasons, I dedicate this post to my loving mother, Jacqueline Joslin Sellers.

Several years ago I wrote a post about my mom's Alzheimer's called Reflections from the Old Folk's Home. This was before her mental state deteriorated so much that she needed to be moved away from my father's care and into full-time care in the Alzheimer's unit.

A version of this current post first appeared on Voices from the 'Ville.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mama's Back-to-School Routine

Back-to-school prep means getting your little one(s) ready for a new academic year; buying backbacks, notebooks, and number two pencils. It's a time of excitement, new beginnings, and brand-new shoes. 

Take advantage of this fresh start! Reassess your personal or family goals and then plan action steps. You can do it! 

For example, here are my goals for the upcoming semester:

1. Continue to exercise 2-5x a week.

2. Carve out designated writing times 2 or more times a week.

And here's my action plan:

1. Check out the yoga and Zumba schedule at my gym and add classes into my Google calendar each week. 

2. Schedule at least two weekly sessions of writing time. 

3. Invite girlfriends for gym, walking, or writing/work dates. 

4. Track my weekly progress in my goal notebook.

My big plan is to head to the gym right after preschool drop off (before I get side-tracked with other to-dos), work out, and then meet a girlfriend in the cafe for a "work" date. By putting these appointments on my calendar, I'm honoring my stated priorities. But I took a second step as well- writing down my goals and putting them on my bathroom mirror. I figured a motivational quote and some glitter couldn't hurt either. Now I have a gentle (and sparkly) reminder of my intentions that I'll see several times a day.

So, Dear Reader, what are your personal or family goals for the next semester? Take a moment to write them down and plan action steps. Put them in your calender, make a sign for extra motivation, and then look ahead for the rewards.


Take Note: A version of this post was previously published on Voices from the Ville.