Category Archives: The Joy in the Journey

I’ll Take “Bands Siouxsie Loves” for 1000, Alex

I am in England today. I arrived yesterday in the morning and was very busy getting my English sea legs yesterday.

I did not anticipate how much the public transportation in this country would seem like a dictionary with all the words in the wrong places. Maybe you know the Brits depend on their public transportation to get everywhere. I didn’t research it thoroughly. How hard could it be, I thought? Ha. Not hard, as much as challenging to pore over the many, many options to unfamiliar towns. Not to mention, there is a bit of a to-do with the train service as there is a strike so travel can be a little more challenging or exciting, depending on your point of view.

The shorter version of what brought me over is that my favorite band is doing a five night tour and I imagined I’d like to attend all five concerts. You will never have heard of them, but I do recommend them. I happened upon them about 7 years ago and I love the music.

Concert 1 of 5 was last night. That’s another story in itself. I’m currently on a train heading from Wolverhampton to Edinburgh. Because of the strike, I have to change trains instead of rolling straight through but Greg encouraged me to get a first class train ticket, for which I am very grateful.

Who is Frost*, Alex?

Love, Siouxsie

Making Peace with Kroger

Apropos of nothing, when I was a kid there was a very nice woman who was a cashier at a nearby Kroger. She had an actual beard. If I remember correctly, she shaved it, but I found it fascinating to see a woman with a beard.

In those days, there were only a few Kroger stores. But since all companies believe that MOAR is BETTER, they expanded and expanded and expanded and now there are at least five Krogers within 10 minutes of our home.

Remember I worked at Kroger for a minute back in 2012 and then again in 2018. My stint in 2018 started out being one of the most enjoyable jobs I had ever had. When I left in 2019 I was a little salty about Kroger corporate and their complete disconnect from what it’s like to work as an associate.

I’ve noticed over these past few years that Kroger has come up with MOAR and “BETTER” ways for one to save money. Used to be, they just had weekly specials.

Then they added the Shoppers Card which you had to have in order to get the weekly special prices.

Next they added Buy 5, Save $5. (Eventually Buy 5, Save $5 turned into Buy 5, Save 50 cents per item, cutting in half the savings).

Later came fuel points, which you get 1 to 1, except for certain special purchases when you can double or quadruple your points.

Later I started seeing special junk food deals in the aisle Buy 2 or 4 (bags of chips), save $2. (This is not to be confused with B5S5 because they are COMPLETELY different savings opportunities.)

Then Kroger started mailing coupons to me for things I already buy. (Thank you, Kroger)

Next complication opportunity was Digital Coupons. These are coupons you can download on your phone but must have downloaded to avail yourself of.

Now they have Cash Back where you can accumulate actual money when you buy certain products and then cash it out. I’m not all that familiar with this one yet.

Another whole program is called Points-Rewards-Plus Gaming. This is a cash back program on products that gamers apparently like. Looks like a lot of macaroni and cheese, snacks, pop.

So we went from some coupons in the Sunday newspaper to at least seven different ways to save money.

FINALLY this week my brain put it all together. I have to PRE-SHOP. I go to the Kroger website and look through all the coupons, and then look through all the digital coupons, and look at all the B5S50 products. Lastly, I must remember to take my paper coupons and then tackle the store. Pre-shopping is SO much easier than arriving at the store and discovering what is on sale for Buy 5, Save 50 cents, what has a digital coupon, whether Tostitos products are Buy 4, Save heckin money, and which of my staple items happen to be on sale so I can plan to stock up.

It’s like studying for a test. And this week I got an A. I saved 13% which worked out to $24.25 in savings. I promise you I wouldn’t have saved that much without the pregame.

If I were one of those newfangled youngsters, I’d make this into a tik tok and it would surely go viral. But I may be at my limit of social media apps and platforms right now. Have not delved into tik tok yet.

Oh, I almost forgot. There’s this entire subculture of pickup and delivery, for which there are special coupons and deals and subscriptions and Things to Know. I’ll shop for myself, thanks. But I am glad these other ways of shopping exist for people who either don’t have the time or energy or desire to shop for themselves.

So I’ve made my peace with Kroger. I still believe corporate is out of touch with associates, but I think I’m finally getting how this whole savings game works. I bet you can too!

LPT: You don’t have to put u-scan items on the bagging area. I found out you can scan them and bag them right into your cart. My reusable bags always fall off the bagging area, and I’m not trying to have more inconvenience. I love being able to scan items and bag them without putting them in the bagging area. No more scanning five different packages of the same item and waiting for each weight to register in the bagging area. Now I can scan one package five times. I don’t even have to get the other four out of my cart.

Wow, this has been full of info. If you read this far, GOLD STAR. As always, remember your reusable bags. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

Radical Honesty with Kepler

Without explaining all of what radical honesty is in this post, i will link to a song that clearly describes the idea of sharing your feelings out loud. You can listen HERE.

Kepler and I love to listen to music in the car. I enjoy much of the music he listens to. He enjoys *some* of mine. When I returned from my weekend workshop, I found this brand new song and I shared it with Kepler. We belt out the chorus together, “Say it out loud, say it out clear, say what you want, and what you fear. Speak out when you’re angry, say it out loud. Show the world what you’re all about.”

I have been introducing him to the idea of noticing what he feels in his body when he is feeling an emotion. “Do you feel anything in your tummy? Do you feel anything in your chest?” Yes, he will tell me. Slowly, we are making the connection together that emotion has a physical component.

Slowly he is discovering he doesn’t have to suppress his feelings. I imagine Kepler is an easygoing soul and has learned not to express the difficult feelings he has, meaning anger or fear. He has instead chosen to “shut down,” which is to say, withdraw from the situation in all ways except physically, and even physically at school where he has the option to go to the “quiet room” to recover.

Today Greg asked Kepler and me to come outside and help pick up sticks.

The branches were about this size and shape.

Keppie put on his crocs, which didn’t work well for him, so he went back in to change shoes. Once he got back and resumed picking up the sticks, he got a scratch on his ankle and decided he wanted to go in and put on socks. But Greg said no. Kepler shut down, continued to pick up sticks, but became uncommunicative.

Afterwards, I told him all of his feelings are ok. I also said sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do. I said sometimes I feel angry when I have to do something I don’t want to do. I said “It is ok to tell dad you are mad at him for not letting you put on socks.” He looked at me for a long minute. “I need some alone time.” After awhile, I got a text from him. “Sorry mom, I’m ok.” And a little while later, “Say it out loud right mom i got it.”

Later, he was getting a snack before he and Greg went to run an errand. Greg said, “You can eat the snack!” Kepler stopped in his tracks. And I reminded him “Say it out loud! Say it out clear!”

And do you know what he said?

“Dad, I was scared when you told me i can eat my snack.”

And Greg replied, “You were scared? What I meant was there is time to eat your snack before we go to the store.” And I could see in Kepler’s face, the emotion was resolved.

I imagine I am ecstatic at his willingness to express a scary feeling out loud. I imagine I am so very proud of him for being willing to take a risk and say it out loud. Where will this Radical Honesty journey take us next?

Congratulations in Italian!

Those are extra fancy congratulations! And they are in order for me and my friend.

When I was in high school, zooming off in the morning to school in my excellent 1980 Mercury Monarch, my sisters and I were busy at school with cheerleading, basketball, volleyball, being beautiful (mostly my youngest sister on that one), getting into trouble (youngest two sisters you know who you are), softball, homework and friends. We zoomed back home late at night and kept up that pace most every day.

1980 Mercury Monarch purchased from Uncle George to get us to and from school

I barely noticed new neighbors moving in across the street. I noticed what I imagined to be cool things like motorcycles, fast cars, and people coming and going at all hours of the day and night. I could only imagine what kind of hijinks they were up to. These new neighbors weren’t like the old ones, from what I could see. I imagine my own preoccupations took up my brain space and I never once thought to go over and welcome them to the neighborhood. (A belated welcome, BCDC).

My teenage perception of new neighbor

Soon I graduated and moved away. The neighbors traded the fast cars for a minivan and the people coming and going for trips to the pool and well-baby checkups as their children came along. When I finally moved back to my hometown, I had four children under the age of 6 months (exaggeration). However old my kids were, my brain was completely preoccupied with their safety, emotional well-being, and their questions (appx 24 per hour).

Actual photo of my children. Credit: WalMart photo studios

Neighbors kids grew up, like kids go. My kids grew up. Long story short, I moved with Greg and Kepler back to the street where I grew up. Really only saw the neighbors in passing. I fancied myself a victim of multiple traumas from the past and present and was again preoccupied with my own stuff.

Then last summer my phone rang and on the other end was this neighbor. 40 years and we’re about to have our first conversation. He asked if I was available to help with some daily physical therapy tasks he needed to do to get back on his feet after a couple surgeries. I said yes.

Our phones don’t really look like this.

Weeks passed and we completed the first phase of his therapy, and moved into a new phase of really focusing on strength and mobility. Three, or four, or five times a week, we met for a hour and I “put him through his paces.”

I imagine I did a whole lot of talking in the beginning. I imagine I heard lots of (very interesting) stories about his life and experiences. I imagine I might have given TMI because I was so engrossed with the urgency of my experience with my son and his addiction, and the importance of multiple other situations in my life.

We took a break for a month over December because of health issues and Christmas. When we returned to working together, I was in the throes of grief about the very recent addiction-fueled events that had broken my trust and my heart. I imagine my friend is steady, faithful, and unflappable. I appreciate that about him.

The birth of their first grandchild was quickly approaching and then it came and I imagine I experienced an immense privilege in getting to celebrate with them. Although my friend is open with friends about his experiences I notice I want to protect his privacy so I am including no photos of him or his most adorable grandbaby.

Now, almost a year to the day of the phone call, my friend has graduated to an entirely new phase of physical activity and vibrancy, and has the privilege of going to a health facility to use and enjoy the workout equipment. We have completed our work together. I imagine I feel bittersweet about this milestone. I am so happy he is ready to move on, and I will so much miss seeing him and having that hour multiple times a week to catch up on all the little details of life.

There he goes.

Leaving New York

I stepped outside my quiet hotel into a hullabaloo of sounds and sights. My Ohio-accustomed eyes, even opened as wide as they go, aren’t quite large enough to take in the long line of cars sitting through light after light without moving, the construction barriers, and nine million of my closest friends. I notice two men pushing carts filled with what looks like the type of mini-fridge that I had in my room. My little fridge had two free cans of ”still water” which i left alone for the entire weekend. Sure enough they didn’t move. Truth in advertising.

One cart bore four fridges and the other carried eight. The men wheeled the carts to the curb. From what I can gather, people put their trash out at the curb in large trash bags or set large items out as-is. As the men placed the fridges at the curb, they were having an animated conversation about the process. Curious as to what exactly I was witnessing, i asked if the fridges were broken. ”No,” he said in a caribbean accent, ” they are getting new ones.” Turns out, the men who cart out the fine fridges make arrangements ahead of time for them to be picked up by recipients who will find them perfectly fine to use.

Two hard-hatted construction workers appeared and picked up one each then went around a construction barrier to place them in a vehicle maybe? Then they scurried back around and picked up the other two.

To my left, the first two men quickly began loading the other eight fridges into a minivan sitting in traffic that did not move the whe time i waited, about 20 minutes. They raised the back door and loaded in several then ran into a snag when it was time to open the side door to load more. The man clicked the key fob and pulled so hard the door bulged out a little. No dice. Then opened the front door and pressed the unlock button. Once again he nearly pulls the door off the van body. Still stuck. They give up and run around to the passenger side and load the other three into the van.

As they walk the cart back to the hotel the man says “would you like one, miss?” I had to decline as my carry-on would be a bit heavy and a bit bulky with a mini fridge sticking out the sides.

i smiled from beginning to end as I waited on the sidewalk for my driver to arrive. Everyone moves fast here except for the traffic and once the men transferred those fridges they quickly moved on to the next part of their day.

Right about then, my driver pulled up and parked in a wildly New York fashion at a jaunty angle and i jumped in not quite ready to leave this exhilarating place. I feel so alive. My smile comes from deep within and joyfully persists.

An ex-christian reflects on Keith Green

The Keith I remember; photo from the Last Days Ministries website: Days Ministries

Keith has a special place in my heart. His first album came out when I was 17 and he then made six albums in the span of seven years, every one of which I bought, listened to on the 70’s version of repeat, and learned every word. I remember where I was when I heard he had been killed with two of his children and others from the ministry on July 28, 1982. Since this was before the days of the 24-hour news cycle, I didn’t actually learn about it until a few weeks later.

I decided to revisit Keith’s music today. Unlike some other christian musicians, Keith seemed to be absolutely earnest in his faith. He became a believer at age 21, and he died at age 28. His fervor was the faith of the young believer, passionate about this story of good news that changed his life so drastically.

I loved Keith and his music. I actually still do.

In some ways, nothing was different back then. People were still people; there was brokenness; there were many who professed to have “The Answer,” but *we* knew what the real answer was, didn’t we.

He knew how to write worship music that had meaning.

“Oh Lord, You’re beautiful, Your face is all I see, For when Your eyes are on this child, Your grace abounds in me. … I want to take Your Word and shine it all around But first help me just to live it, Lord, And when I’m doing well, help me to never seek a crown, For my reward is giving glory to You.” (Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful, 1980)

He inspired me to be better, to take care of people in need. But he also tapped into my shame in songs like Asleep in the Light, “How can you be so dead, when you’ve been so well fed? Jesus rose from the grave, and you! you can’t even get out of bed.” and My Eyes are Dry, “My eyes are dry, my faith is old, my heart is hard, my prayers are cold.” and How Can They Live Without Jesus, “For maybe they don’t understand it, or maybe they just haven’t heard, or maybe we’re not doin’ all we can, living up to His holy word.”

He spoke my heart in a lot of his songs, both in my natural desire to be a kind and compassionate person, and the pain in my heart which came from being in need and having Christians either hurt me because of their own brokenness, or hear me ask for something and say like Keith sang, “And you turn them away as you smile and say God bless you, be at peace and all heaven just weeps, ’cause Jesus came to your door and you’ve left Him out in the streets.”

I think the pinnacle of his music was The Prodigal Son Suite. Here are the lyrics. (I’d love it if readers took the time to listen to this beautiful song.)

There’s obviously a lot of water under the bridge between the years Keith was making music and where we are now. I’m sure there are developmental phases that I have gone through that have contributed to where I am now and I’ve retained some of what he inspired in me and have rejected some of what he spoke about me as a christian and a person.

I truly want to love people. Kindness and compassion are my jam. And I do it in the context of having struggled my entire life with believing I am enough.

Christianity told me I most certainly am not enough. See Romans 7:18, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” (ESV) Colossians 3:5 says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (ESV). I know I have a few readers who are familiar with the Bible and who will want to explain how these verses do not mean what I think they mean. The point is that the Bible is about an external standard, through and through, and humans, because they are born with a sin nature, can never measure up. That’s the whole point of Jesus; he makes it possible for us to measure up.

I no longer accept this premise. What I loved about Keith is that what he cared about was living for and like Jesus as best as he could (as far as I could tell). But he was also subject to the shame and guilt which rose from not being enough like Jesus. Guilt and shame have not been productive in my life. Christianity did not bring forth a pure heart, a renewed mind, a willingness to hate my family in the name of god, no matter how hard i prayed, submitted, read the bible, went to bible study, and applied my will. Sure, you can say that’s owing to my failings. But I say no. Humans are human, and there are other explanations for our humanity besides the Bible.

The Bible was also written a long time ago and we have learned so much about the human brain, about parenting, about developmental psychology, about socialization. Explanations for things in biblical times were appropriate for then, but they are incomplete or even incorrect for now.

One of the most important realizations I have come to is that Jesus can die for our sins all day long and twice on saturday, and unless we forgive ourselves, we forgive ourselves, we are not able to really appropriate what it means to be forgiven. Unless we can believe that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” or just magnificent by virtue of being human, we will continue to struggle with believing we are worth loving, that we are indeed good enough, just by being perfectly imperfect.

Life is a journey, and I want to be present for it. I’m learning. The present is what we have. Now. This moment. That’s it. This is the moment I want to focus on. And so right now I take the plunge and press publish, even if this piece is only at best perfectly imperfect, just like I am.

Be Like Kepler

Last summer, we decided to hire a personal trainer for Kepler. He had 30-minute sessions for several months, and graduated to hour sessions in February. His trainer, Pete, is creative, caring, professional, and a perfect fit for Kepler. One of their favorite activities is light saber battles, which usually happen near the end of the session. The pièce de résistance of the session, if you will.

Please note I am unable to post videos on my blog anymore, but this is a safe link to see an actual light saber battle (40 seconds long) between Pete and Kepler.

Somehow there have been no injuries in all these months, even through all the thrusting and parrying. Finally, on Wednesday, Kepler accidentally poked Pete in the eye with his light saber. Kepler was devastated. He was very quiet in the car. Finally he said, “Mom, I’m not going to do light saber battle anymore.” I just said ok. No need to try to talk him out of his feelings. Here is the text exchange between them Wednesday evening.

I’ve noticed that Kepler has learned the skill of actually processing emotions and moving through them. He calls it “changing my heart.” So it’s been a couple days since the eye poke, and he was ready to respond to Pete.

After feelings those feelings, they began to dissipate and he was ready to accept that accidents happen and it wasn’t the end of the world. Having had many experiences of my own where the hurt feelings or shame or embarrassment got stuck right down in my bone marrow, I find Kepler’s emotional intelligence to be inspiring.

Be like Kepler!


Hello kids!

It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? I do love the illustration of my last post which was written way back in November 2020. Not to diss My Many Readers, but I daresay everyone has enough to read and ponder already, so probably no one has missed ye olde blog. Be that as it may, I did have a dream this morning where I was just trying to get home, but the dang street and the equally dang street signs went round and round in circles. It was like a Bollywood film set in a city in India, with people teeming, buildings looming, and my home and street eluding me. Finally woke myself up out of that to discover that my credit union played an April fools joke on me by deducting a $4000 check out of my account twice! Except it wasn’t a joke and they really did it.

In the meantime, Mr. ClearingSpace4Joy was off at the dentist getting his front tooth extracted. Yes, his front tooth. Seems that having a crown on a tooth for 50 years can sometimes make the tooth weaken and last evening he knew it was coming out. I let the Tooth Fairy know to be on the lookout, but I think he left the tooth at the dentist’s office. Came home with stitches in his mouth, an upper lip that doesn’t work right, a temporary bridge, and lots of pain. I reminded him that snitches get stitches but he didn’t think that was funny.

So I’ve been thinking about what I want to be when I grow up. But nothing comes to mind. I’ve tried a few things and didn’t like them, but even though I am a few years north of 29, I still think it’s possible to come up with some ideas. However, my Pesky Depression continually tells me that I’ll never amount to anything. Thank you, Pesky Depression. One thing I do think I’d like to be is a writer. Whether or not I have anything to say that more than a dozen people would want to read remains to be seen. And “a dozen” might be a little <optimistic> (wrong word but I’m waiting for the right word to enter stage right).

Today’s blog post is just my way of letting Pesky Depression know that it’s not winning today. It tried, bless its heart. I’ve committed to writing 750 words on every day in the month of April. I love the first of the month, like I love Monday, and a new year, and any time there is the possibility of starting anew. This year started off pretty rough with a sad and traumatic event happening out of the blue, and this month also started off a bit rough (thanks, credit union!) but that doesn’t mean it has to continue that way. All I have is the present moment, and in this present moment, I choose to be a writer. Thanks for reading.

Them’s Fightin’ Words

Minding my own business on Twitter, as I do, I came across an article that I could have written.

Although I rarely post anything on Facebook beyond the occasional Sandra Boynton drawing, I decided to post a link to the article. A few minutes later I deleted it. For me to post something as potentially divisive as this went way against the grain of what I normally post, which is to say, nothing. It would be the equivalent of disagreeing with your husband one night whether to get pizza or wings and the next morning greeting him with I want a divorce. In other words, while it could be true, this is called going nuclear.

Instead I decided to write this article that has been noodling around in my brain since Sunday.

In their book, Getting the Love you Want, Harville Hendrix and his wife Helen LaKelly Hunt do a MASTERFUL job of explaining how in marriage we make choices when choosing a mate that are directly related to trying to fix a childhood wound.

After the honeymoon period, couples enter into a power struggle because we each continue to try to get that childhood need met and resolved. Because we are aiming for different results, we sustain the power struggle. Do you have one or a few arguments that simply cannot be resolved? That’s the power struggle because each partner has their most logical position and is deeply committed to that position.

Greg and I practiced our power struggle so long and so vociferously, we just about perfected it before we finally heard of the book and more importantly, the imago dialogue. While the concept is simple, the results are phenomenal. Instead of partner one saying the Same Old Thing and partner two responding the Same Old Way, in the dialogue, partner two simply listens and mirrors what partner one says. Gone are the earnest machinations to change partner one’s mind. In place is partner two being willing to listen to what’s in partner one’s mind and inner world.

Sounds simple, right? There’s a little more to it, namely some empathy and some validation but until you actually use the dialogue yourself your conversation slash argument will go the very same unsatisfying way it always does.

We hadn’t gone as far as talking about divorce but we were both beside ourselves with frustration and wondering if we would ever find a way to be on the same page about our power struggle topics. With the imago dialogue we have found a way to truly listen and hear each other. We don’t try to correct the other person’s thinking. We don’t try to defend ourselves. We don’t try to explain why the speaker is wrong. We listen. We mirror. We empathize. We validate.

So it occurred to me that in our current political landscape we are locked to the death in a power struggle. I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t try to change anyone’s mind who is on the other side of the aisle because I believe they are as entrenched in their position as I am in mine. And there is no good to come of simply engaging in the power struggle once again.

I might be the most compassionate champion of the underdogs in our society (well, no, I’m probably way down on the list) but for people who believe that underdogs just need to do a better job of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps, that if the underdogs would simply take personal responsibility for their lives, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish, being compassionate is mystifying or at the very least, beside the point. So when I ask the Individual Responsibility people to have compassion they hear me saying that people don’t need to take individual responsibility, that a victim mentality can’t be overcome

You can see that this conversation will go nowhere and will never find common ground because each side is starting from an irreconcilable position and is locked in a power struggle which boils down to “I’m right,” and also, “No, I’M right.” It’s a power struggle with no resolution.

So if I post an article wherein the outgoing president is called demonic, not only is that term going to trigger people who believe he is somehow appointed by god, there will be a deeper and wider chasm as the power struggle intensifies.

Just imagine if you will though if a democrat listened and mirrored what a republican said, or vice versa. Or call it a conservative and a liberal.

I got the idea for this application by listening to an 18-minute you tube video posted by one of my Facebook friends with whom I differ completely politically. It’s pretty good but the bottom line I got from it is that conservatives think America is good and liberals think America is bad, and the core issue is slavery. This speaker praises Donald Trump because he feels no guilt for the past events in our country. The speaker tells us that to be liberal means you must believe our country is bad but to be conservative means you freely believe our country is good.

That’s the power struggle right there. There are multiple ways in which liberals and conservatives disagree but I can’t think of anything more timely than whether or not we have a problem with systemic racism in our country. If you think we don’t that means you have a certain understanding of demonstrations where protesters have had enough of the treatment black people have received at the hand of the police. “The black person shouldn’t have done x, y, or z and there wouldn’t have been a problem,” we want to believe. And of course, people who are sympathetic to the demonstrators see innumerable situations when driving while black or walking while black or shopping while black end up with completely different outcomes than driving while white.

I certainly never worry about getting pulled over or followed in a store or questioned because I’m standing with a group of friends. I know that if I ever get stopped, my papers are in order and I look like anything but a criminal no matter who is looking at me and I never worry. But for African-Americans, it may very well be a different experience, where suspicion is present simply because of skin color.

But can you imagine if instead of the conversation going like this:

Black person: I hate being followed in a store like they suspect I’m about to steal something.

White person: I’m sure you’re imagining things.

Black person: no I’m not. I see the glances and the casual movements of the clerk standing near me, watching me without seeming to watch me.

White person: well maybe you’re doing something suspicious.

The conversation goes like this:

Black person (BP): I hate being followed in a store like they think I’m about to steal something.

White person (WP): You hate being followed as if they expect you to steal. Is there more?

BP: Yes. When I’m just shopping like everyone else in the store, it feels awful to think that the clerk is paying extra attention to me for no reason other than that I am black.

WP: So when you’re shopping it’s really uncomfortable and feels awful to think you’re being extra scrutinized because you’re black.

BP: Yes. I’m not a thief or a shoplifter and I’d like to be able to shop without the extra scrutiny. When I get questioned about potential theft that makes it a hundred times worse.

WP: You don’t like the extra scrutiny and you certainly don’t like being questioned about potential theft as that makes the experience so much worse.

BP: It reminds me of my cousins and uncles and friends who have all experienced something similar without any justification. What conclusion is there to draw other than than people see us as a threat simply because of the color of our skin?

WP: So it’s not only you who has experienced this but your relatives and your friends and the only consistency is that this happens to black people so it seems like the most logical reason why you are under suspicion.

BP: Yes you are hearing me.

WP: So you have had the experience of being followed in a store for seemingly no reason that you can discern, as have your friends and relatives. It feels crummy to be a person of suspicion when you are simply shopping, browsing, picking up things to try on, normal shopping behavior. I can see where that would get old and feel bad and I understand why you might conclude it is an issue of your skin color since it happens to your friends and relatives. Did I get you?

BP: Yes you heard what I said.

WP: So I would guess you maybe feel unfairly singled out? Ashamed? Angry? Discriminated against?

BP: Yep all those things. Also despairing and depressed. And sick to death of being treated differently.

WP: So yeah I can definitely see how it would get old to be watched really closely when you are just going about your business as though because you have black skin it means there’s a high chance you’re a criminal. I can only imagine how painful that must be.

BP: I feel like you got what I’m saying. Thank you.

WP: Thanks for telling me what it’s like for you. I understand more of where you’re coming from and I can see how painful it is to be looked at differently because of the color of your skin.

Nowhere in this conversation did the WP try to justify the behavior of the clerk; or try to convince the speaker they’re imagining things, or worst of all, explaining that “more black people shoplift so the clerk is justified.” What kind of connection do you think is made in the second conversation compared to the first one?

What would happen if we started listening to people without trying to change their mind or correct them or convince them? If the experience Greg and I have had in our relationship is any indication, there could be some major healing in our country. But it takes willing to truly immerse oneself into the experience as expressed by another person. Listening, mirroring, empathizing, validating. Maybe then we would come away from a conversation having learning something rather than simply restated our portion of the power struggle again and again. I for one would be excited to experiment. How about you? We might end up with something more like the squirrels below instead of the one at the top of the page.

The Lady With the Kohl’s Cash

Do you know what Kohl’s cash is? It’s one of Kohl’s clever ways to get you to come back and spend more money. When they are doling it out, spend $50, get $10 in Kohl’s cash to spend later.

Your more disorganized types set the Kohl’s cash on the desk where it then gets buried and ultimately unearthed two days after it expired. So it’s literal money on the table that goes unused.

Your more organized shopper manages to keep the Kohl’s cash WITH the relevant receipt WITH the 25% off coupon for dropping off an Amazon return. Your more organized shopper (MOS) manages to put the packet in the car *and* make a stop at Kohl’s to utilize the 25% coupon *and* the second bit of Kohl’s cash *and* come home with the measuring cups and spoons the MOS has been eyeing. All for nearly free.

Your MOS has a calculator app on her phone and is busily running different scenarios while striding purposefully forth through the store and has the brain space to figure out the best combination of savings.

in case you didn’t guess, yes, I was the more organized shopper yesterday. It feels good to use coupons before they expire. Coupons and vegetables in my crisper often have a similar fate, and it was nice to have a different, more satisfying outcome yesterday. That’s what I get for getting more organized!