Category Archives: Inspire Me!

The Butterfly Effect

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tumblr_m8kbq1SKKn1qe8tgbo1_500If anyone says life is easy they are lying. However, if anyone tells you there isn’t joy to be found they are missing a great deal in their journey. It’s been a year since I’ve finished anything I’ve started writing. It isn’t that I haven’t had time to write. I just haven’t had very uplifting thoughts to share and in all honesty, if nothing good is coming out of my mouth I am always going to try to follow the age-old adage of keeping my lips sealed. I have been walking a pretty twisty path and while marriage and children don’t represent a new concept; it seems there are no tried and true guidelines to apply in broad strokes. I can say that in the past five years I have felt extreme and overwhelming emotions that were suffocating, liberating, and humbling. The result is a 35-year-old who is, to quote Garth Brooks, “much too young to feel this damn old”. If that doesn’t sum it up J.R.R. Tolkien does,

“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

So how in the world is any of this positive or uplifting?! Well one bizarre thing I’ve learned is emotions are like enzymes in the great big stomach of life. They don’t control life. They simply help us break life into fragments we can digest. They are consumables. They have a shelf-life and are replaced by new emotions as they get digested. Over the years I’ve tried to hold tight to different emotions and freeze everything just the way it is or change everything based on those feelings instead of letting them flow through me and do their job. When I look at emotions as temporary at best I’m reminded of the life of a butterfly and how fleeting each phase of metamorphosis is. Every emotion including joy comes to us like the unconventional beauty of a butterfly. The ever illusive joy in life doesn’t always spring from well-known places nor does it tend to permanently reside in one place. Our ability to live and consume each moment for what it is, a moment, and move on to the next moment untethered by the last gives us the clarity needed to recognize the beauty of that ever illusive butterfly weaving its way through every experience throughout our lives.

To put it simply, the quickest way to unhappiness is to bind ourselves to feelings and expectations. Set beautiful goals but when they aren’t what you reach, take a deep breath and look for the beauty in where you’re at. If you can’t see it; take a deep breath anyway. You’re just around the corner from it.

 

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Goodbye Charles Norman Agustus Caesar Samuel Macallie Atkinson

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Yesterday one of my favorite people joined the angels in Heaven. I don’t know how to express my sorrow and the aching pain left by such a big loss. All I can say is the world is a little more beautiful because he was in it. I’m not a poet but these words came to me early this morning after the news that my Uncle Sammy (aka Charles Norman Agustus Caesar Samuel Macallie Atkinson!) had left us.  I’m lucky to have known such a sweet and wonderful person even a little.

I Need To Know You More

I never knew your favorite song

I never did implore

I only heard your heartstring’s hum

I need to know you more

 

I never knew your favorite color

I never asked before

I only knew your sparkling eyes

I need to know you more

 

I wish I’d asked what made you laugh

The causes you fought for

I only knew your warm embrace

I need to know you more

 

I should have asked about your dreams

The goals you had in store

I only knew your gentle smile

I need to know you more

 

I’d hoped to learn what brought you joy

What made your spirit soar?

I only knew the light you shined

I need to know you more

 

I bet God smiled when you returned

His masterpiece restored

I bet the seraphs danced with delight

To get to know you more

 

It’s clear to me, someone like you

So easy to adore

Will always leave someone like me

With the need to know you more

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I love you Uncle Sammy. You will be missed.

Suzanna

Music From Another Room

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Life is full of so many seasons. My own life feels like it could be broken into segments of slow growth followed by spurts of explosive fast burning energy. Older people always told me to enjoy it because life speeds up as you get older and before you know it 10 years have passed you by. I get it now. I just realized 10 years have passed me by. I feel pretty good about most of it but there are memories that seem to be missing. There are gaps in my story and I can’t help but think maybe I was living a little too fast when times in my life seem like a room full of partially illuminated furniture. I can almost make out the patterns but I can’t tell if I’m looking at herringbone or houndstooth.

I never wanted this to happen but some of it seemed out of my control. I remember when I proclaimed to my parents I was leaving the nest and moving into a grown up college dorm (insert eye roll) but I don’t remember the conversation that took place, I just remember the excitement of moving out and being free to do whatever I wanted without having to answer to anyone else. It was pretty scary but also pretty awesome.  However recently I’ve thought about my little sister and my parents. I left her behind without really much explanation. I probably hurt my parents more than a little. All of this could have been avoided if I had closed my blinds to the flashing broadway lights for a little while. If I had just taken the time to reflect and look at my life from all angles right at that moment. In four years I should have stopped at some point long enough to think about it. I’m not a selfish person. I usually try to be very sensitive to other’s feelings but in this case and others throughout my life thus far I have made the same mistake over and over again. Why???

Maybe some people might say I’m egotistical but I tend to think I’m just careless. I live in the moment and when you live in the moment sometimes you fly right past the important things. Sometimes you fly right past the most important permanent details in your life-like relationships and being there for someone. I  don’t plan on trading in my tendency to live in the moment. For all its’ faults I think it’s a gift that not everyone is capable of experiencing. At least that is what I’ve been told. I love being moved by a moment. So I’ve decided to try something. You can call it what you want. I want to be present in my life. It’s great to open up to emotional responses so many things in life evoke but I want to be more accountable. I don’t want to miss the quieter moment. I don’t want to miss the music coming from another room. These, my friends, are my thoughts this fine Friday.

Have a lovely weekend!

– Byrd

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Listen To Your Mother

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Our friend Angie Mizell lead the artistic production of Listen To Your Mother Charleston Chapter. When I first heard the buzz about this show I was intrigued. What exactly was this about? I thought to myself, “This might be applicable in my life… I listen to my mother…I’m a mother”. I decided to bring my sister Sarah. She is an amazing mother of four beautiful children. I thought, she’s a mom and this is about moms, right?!  I was pretty excited about going to this event even though I have to admit I hadn’t done a lot of homework on it. Another dear friend, Becca, was in it so between her and Angie I felt a connection with it and was looking forward to showing my support.

Little did I know how big a gift I was going to receive from this experience! This show consisted of a lineup of some very brave and intelligent woman who were willing to share themselves with an audience of strangers. In doing so they lifted up the blessed name Mother while displaying  the vulnerability and strength found in the heart of human nature! Becca blew me away with her live reading in Listen To Your Mother. She stated she was childless but described many situation in which she has been an  irreplaceable mother to so many people in her lifetime. She has given me plenty of sage advice many, many times! She has hugged me and let me cry on her shoulder. She has listened to me when I needed to be heard. The term mother covers A LOT of ground! What is a mother? The noun is defined as a woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth. However the verb is what is noteworthy!

 To mother is to bring up with care and affection.  

Wow… let that sink in. How many people in your life have brought you up? How many times has a friend or loved one or even a stranger lifted you up and shown you they cared? I know a lot of mothers of all shapes and sizes! They are young and old. They have homes full of children and no kids at all! They are female and male. They give unselfishly of themselves! Of all these mothers the greatest mother in my life is Bette Lynn Barrineau Atkinson. My mother brought me up with care and affection. She taught me to love myself and explore who I am. She continues to love me through all my “seasons”! So who is my mom… this is tough to type without crying. She is so much more than my mom!

She is a beautiful and talented woman who put a lot of her “seasons” on hold to help me through mine.

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One of the few pictures someone managed to snap of her!

 There aren’t many pictures of my mother. So here is a snapshot of how I see her.

She is an escape artist. My mom is always dodging pictures or holding something in front of her face.

My mother is the best pal, chum, playmate! She rides horses, plays sports, plants gardens, dances and laughs a lot!

She is a musician! She fills her home with lovely music. She plays the piano. She plays hymns. She plays classical music. She plays for church. She plays for her children. She truly makes a joyful noise unto the Lord!

She is a humanitarian. She gives and she feeds. You can’t leave my mom’s house empty EVER! You might walk out with a box of coffee or an extra bag of dinner rolls and you will never leave with an empty stomach.

She is a magistrate. She does what is right. She has never had a ticket in her life (unlike yours truly)! Sometimes I say things and she responds, “but Suzanna, that’s not right”… And she’s right.

She is a songstress. She has a beautiful alto voice and she sways in rhythm to her tune.

She is a doctor and an herbalist. She always knows exactly what to do when something troubles you or your health.

She is a teacher and philosopher. Many a conversation with her has led to more questions and more exploration into what is true. Many a foundation were laid in my youth by my mom without me even knowing it!

So I have to say when walking into the theater, Listen To Your Mother meant literally hearing the voice of mothers. However walking out of that theater Listen To Your Mother means recognizing and truly distinguishing your mother/s! Who is that person behind the endearing title? Our lives are blessed with mothers. I think I owe a lot of people thanks. I think I owe Bette Lynn Barrineau Atkinson a lifetime achievement award.

Mother’s Day is coming up. I hope you take the time to recognize the mothers in your life!

Thanks for reading, thank you mom for  bringing me up with care and affection and a special thanks to the Listen To Your Mother crew! What a thought-provoking and inspiring production!

– The byrd

Yes

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yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

e.e. cummings

I began this blog with zero expectations. I felt drawn to it and unlike so many other times in my life I said yes to its calling.  I found a place to express myself without the confines of my preexisting social setting. I wanted to write my own words without the pressure of wondering what people thought of me. So I set out to speak honestly and share openly. I was scared but still I said yes! I put no limits on my words or thoughts. I did not question what might come from it. I simply wrote. I wrote for myself. I listened to my words. I questioned myself to test my own honesty.
I try to remain true to myself with every letter key I tap on my keyboard. Every day I search for my voice and my feelings as untethered by anyone else’s feelings or opinions as possible. I’m growing every day with every new entry I share. It’s important to me to be honest and real. That’s my voice. That’s the me I hope to share with you!

This blog has brought a great gift my life. I have the chance to inspire and be honest! I have the opportunity to reach out to a great big world and contribute something! If one person takes what I write and does something positive in their lives or someone else’s life I consider myself more successful than you can imagine! Even though I began this blog with zero expectations my life is richer because of it, because of you my readers, because of honesty, because I said yes!

Thank you for inspiring me! I hope to somehow return the favor! Say yes! It may be the adventure of a life time!

 

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Just Do It

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Nike came out with the slogan Just Do It when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I had no idea what it meant but it was everywhere. The entire goal of the campaign was to make Nike shoes a fashion statement or a lifestyle rather than athletic wear. They wanted to make it personal. 25 years later it reached me on a personal level.

The other night I was reminiscing with my dad about some of the things we did together when I was younger. I told him the hardest I have ever worked was helping him on one of his jobs years ago. We were putting insulation in a building he had been contracted to work on. He let me help him to earn some extra money. There were new requirements we had to follow so dad would cut chunks of insulation and wrap it around big metal duct work and tape it. I would follow behind him and push metal covers over nails so the insulation was held tightly to the duct work. This was tough but on top of the actual work there was snow on the ground, we were up in the rafter of a building and it was late at night. By the time we finished every fingertip was worn off of my gloves from hitting nails by accident.  I remember working for hours right by my dad and asking myself the same question over and over again.

How does he work this hard every day???

This morning I thought about the Nike slogan Just Do It, partially because I’m pretty sure I have undiagnosed A.D.D. but also because it was the answer to my question. Dad works hard every day because it has to be done. He just does it.  He doesn’t complain or throw himself a pity party. He doesn’t talk or dwell on whether it’s fair or not. He does it with a smile! Both of my parents do! I laughed when I thought about how Nike had finally succeeded in making their slogan personal to me though I give my dad the credit.

Suddenly Just Do It rings true! Life may not be full of everything I think I deserve but it doesn’t mean I can’t be positive and push through what needs to be done. Good things come in their own time if we are open to them. They may not be what we had planned but if we are focusing on what needs to be done instead of complaining it’s way easier to see the nice surprises along the way. So I think I am going to start applying the Nike slogan to my own life!

I can’t write a blog. Noone will ever read it!: Just Do It!

I don’t want to get up at 5am: Just Do It!

I can’t raise a child and work: Just Do It!

I can’t change one more diaper: Just Do It!

There is no praise or gratification in this: Just Do It!

The Great Indoors

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We aren’t used to this kind of cold weather in Charleston. Between the new baby and the winter blahs we have been spending a lot of time indoors. I’ve started trying to invent new ways to pass the time so I don’t start climbing the walls! We just have a few more months before we start seeing flowers pop up and birds mirgrating back home! Come on warm weather! Hurry up and get here! Here are a few new discoveries to spice up your week!

Paperback + Snack attack + Muzack = Bye bye winter blues

1. The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom. I got Tuesdays With Morrie as a stocking stuffer years ago and continue to read everything he has published. Love him!

2. Good Earth – Sweet and Spicey Black Tea. My mom introduced this to me! It is so so good and will seriously make you instantly smile.

3. This Is The Town – A Tribute to Nilsson Volume 1 is going to be one of your new favorite compilation albums! It has such a great mix of artists and sounds!!

Stay warm. Stay cozy my friends!