Motherhood

Walking and Chewing Gum by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

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You know the expression, “Walking and chewing gum at the same time,” right? Someone who walks and chews gum at the same time is able to do two or more things at once. 

Turns out I’m not very good at walking and chewing gum. By walking, I mean blogging. And by chewing gum, I mean working out. Last year I got this website up and running and was good with creating and posting content. I also didn’t have the best year of health and fitness. In 2019 I set some new goals to make my health and fitness a priority and...

On Sunday when I posted the sermon, I noticed that I had not blogged in 14 days. Fourteen days. Two weeks. I’ve stopped and started posts, but didn’t finish. I also started training for the Hot Chocolate 15k and tried a new hot yoga studio in town. If this trend continues, in December I’ll be super healthy and you’ll be wondering where I am.

I’m committed to my health and fitness. I’m committed to creating and posting content. I’m also committed to peace, which is why I’ve given up the notion of balance. Old me would have made a plan for “X” workouts, “X” posts, all while preparing sermons, running to dance, Girl Scouts, birthday parties and such. I also would have done it all and done it all well until...

image from Pexels.  

image from Pexels.  

I must be honest. I used to be a master multitasker. Master. I could do it all and more without getting tired. All the balls in the air. All the plates stacked. Whatever metaphor there is to describe magnificent multitasking, I was about that life. But now I can’t. And that’s ok. Wisdom prevails. Single tasking is where I thrive.  Research shows that it’s where most people thrive. In fact, there are amazing articles on Thrive Global (link not working, but you can search “multitasking” to read them).  

So some times I’ll walk.  

Other times I’ll chew gum. 

If I have to, I’ll do both. 

And I encourage you to do the same.  

Motherhood Monday: Remembering Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

I’m too tired to write much. Three day weekends with the girls wear me out. And as much as I am worn out, I am also full. I had the good pleasure of spending the morning with my girls, and other justice minded people, at the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts in Princeton, NJ for their annual event celebrating the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King. It was a beautiful gathering that began with breakfast and a talk from Rev. Lukata Mjumbe, Pastor of the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church in Princeton. Rev. Mjumbe was followed by Tracy K. Smith, National Poet Laureate. The larger group was dismissed for crafts for children of all ages. The girls had a blast making buttons, painting peace rocks, contributing to a mural, and making monoprints of Rosa Parks. The morning ended with a soul stirring performance from the Unity Choir from the First Baptist Church of Princeton.  

Here are some pictures from the morning, including our girls lunch and discussion about the event and Dr. King at Panera. It’s a wonder we made it. Baby Girl was convinced we were going to be blowed away by the frigid wind. 

 

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Motherhood Monday: My Favorite Thing to Do at the Park (Prompt) by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

It has been a while since I've posted a Motherhood Monday Moment. I'm still knee deep in life with a four year old and six year old, which is as exhilarating as it is exhausting. And there have been many, many motherhood moments happening--from the banal to the hilarious. The antics of children are wonderfully amazing. 

In an attempt to write more--because writers write--today instead of riffing about motherhood, this entry will follow a prompt from a book I have called, "500 Writing Prompts" that I bought some time ago. I had forgotten how beneficial writing prompts could be. My memory was jogged at the Publishing in Color Conference when both Sophfronia Scott and Jacqui Lewis had a write from prompts. In any case, here goes...

"What is your favorite thing to do in a park? How often do you go?"

We don't go often enough. As a mother, it is easy to get caught up in the routines that keep life going: wake, bathe, dress, breakfast, school/work, errands, homework, dinner, bath, preparing and packing for the next day, sleep, wake, bathe, dress, you get the picture. Every once in a while, we break the routine and head to the park. Every time we go, I say in my heart, "we need to do this more often" but then the pressures of life lead us back to the hamster wheel.

When we are there, what joy we experience! As a girl, my favorite thing to do in the park was to swing. I loved sitting, pumping my feet back and forth, gliding in the air. My effort determined my experience. For a gentle and relaxing ride, only slight leg pumps were required. I could stay all day on the swing like that. Sometimes, when I was aching for a thrill, I'd pump my legs as hard and fast as I could until it was as if I was soaring in the sky. Legs high above the jungle gym, high above the planes carrying people to exotic destinations, high above the elementary cares of life, becoming one with clouds. A lofty aspiration. I felt I could do anything. 

Image from www.pexels.com

Image from www.pexels.com

I still love the swings, but it is no longer my favorite thing to do at the park.

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FullSizeRender.jpg

Now when I go to the park, my focus is not on myself, but on our girls. I love witnessing their joy. Incessant laughter permeates the air as they run, hide, climb, swing, jump and slide. Their movement is swift, sometimes calculated and sometimes spontaneous. Big Girl's favorite thing is to climb--one foot in front of the other reaching new heights. Baby Girl prefers to stay grounded as she reimagines and repurposes the jungle gym--creating a kitchen and serving up freshly prepared wood chips for a small fee. When I see them, I see possibility. When I see them, I see creativity. When I see them, I see freedom. 

And now that they are older and no longer require that I hover over them on the jungle gym, I sit on the swings and watch as they play. This is now my favorite thing to do at the park.

Word Up Wednesday: Dandelions by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

As promised, I am continuing Word Up Wednesday by featuring reflections written during my Clinical Pastoral Education Internship. The following was written in April 2016. Again, Scripture was added and minor edits made to be shared here on www.reverendmotherrunner.com

 

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
— Psalm 16:11

One of the things that I love about Spring is how beautifully pleasing this season is to our eyes. With the clear blue sky as a backdrop, in the Spring we see lush green grass. In the Spring we see beautiful blooms of purple and blue hydrangeas, yellow and red tulips, and pink and orange daisies. In the Spring there is beauty all around us.

In the Spring, as life blooms all around us, we also see yellow dandelions. I mention the dandelions, because I can recall, growing up in an urban environment very different from the suburbs of Edison, that dandelions were my absolute favorite flower. I remember being a child, walking home from Lincoln Elementary School, being enamored by these bright yellow flowers that sprung forth, not only in the grass, but in the cracks between the concrete of the sidewalks. I would pick them, and put them in my hair. I would pick them, and offer them as a gift to my mother after a long day of work. And the best part about the dandelions is that, when the yellow flower died, the white remains provided great fun for blowing. My friends and I could be occupied for long amounts of time, picking dandelions, blowing the seeds, and laughing hysterically as we did so.

It wasn’t until I was older, working at a prestigious school with lawns that were always perfectly manicured, that I learned that dandelions were not flowers to be coveted, but weeds that were a nuisance. One day, as I was walking across campus, I saw the head of school furiously and fervently picking dandelions from the grass. Dandelions that were a source of joy for me, were taking away from the school’s neat and perfect appearance. Dandelions that I once offered out of gratitude to my mother, were being plucked and tossed into the trash. Although dandelions have positive properties, most notably in the United States they are considered a noxious weed. They are an annoyance in residential areas and recreational fields. When there is an infestation of dandelions, they can cause significant damage to crops, which also has an economic effect.

But still, dandelions are a source of joy and fun for me. For a time, I had once abandoned the joy I had for dandelions, seeing them—through the eyes of others—as a noxious weed. But two years ago, when my first daughter was about one year old, as she was getting steady on her feet, we were out walking in the grass in our neighborhood. The exuberance she had from seeing, picking, and playing with the dandelions was refreshing. I was tempted to stop her. Dandelions are weeds, after all. But as she shakily made her way from dandelion to dandelion she smiled and giggled as if she had discovered a most precious gift. Some months later, we reveled in blowing the seeds of the dandelions into the wind. As she discovered the joy in dandelions, she helped me to rediscover my own joy. 

Image from www.pexels.com

Image from www.pexels.com

I was reminded of this today, because as I walked from my car to the hospital entrance doors, I noticed some dandelions on the grass. The dandelions, for me, are a reminder to remain true to my sources of joy. The dandelions, for me, are an invitation to see things through my own eyes, without letting the perception of others, influence my joy. What brings you joy? What makes your heart smile? What stirs up delight in your soul? Today, I invite us to revel in the things that bring us great pleasure, without letting the opinions and influences of others strip us of our joy. 


May I share a prayer with you?
Wonderful God, you are the Ultimate source of our joy.  Open our eyes to see joyous sights. Open our ears to hear joyous sounds. Open our hearts to receive joy. When the responsibilities of life seek to erode our joy, let us be ever mindful not to abandon the people, places, and things that bring us joy in our lives. Use us, we pray, to bring joy to the lives of others. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Word Up Wednesday: Light by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

As promised, I am continuing Word Up Wednesday by featuring reflections written during my Clinical Pastoral Education Internship. The following was written in December 2015. Again, Scripture was added and minor edits made to be shared here on www.reverendmotherrunner.com.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?
— (Psalm 27:1 NIV)

About two months or so ago, as the days began to shorten, when I picked my 2.5 year old daughter up from daycare she would say, “Mommy, no dark. Mommy, no dark.” Mommy, no dark was her way of expressing the disappointment with the shorter days. In her world, the darkness took away her opportunity to play out-side after a long day at school. Each and every day, up until about a week ago, she would say, “Mommy, no dark” as if I had the power to make the sun shine again.

But then something changed. On our drive home from school one day last week, she noticed a house decorated with lights. “Mommy, look” she exclaimed! Lights! A week has passed, and she no longer laments the darkness. Our drive home has taken on a new dialogue:

“More lights?” she asks. 

“Yes, honey,” Mommy will show you more lights.

Wow! She screams out, as we pass a house with flashing white lights. “More lights.”

“Yes, honey,” Mommy will show you more lights.

“Ooooh. Boo-tee-ful. More lights.”

This goes on as we make a circle around the neighborhood viewing about six more houses.”

“One more and then we have to go home. Mommy has to make dinner and get you and your sister ready for night-night.

“Okay,” she says.

Image taken from www.pexels.com

Image taken from www.pexels.com

If you think about it, the darkness has not changed. But my daughters wonder at the beauty in the midst of the darkness has changed her lamenting into joy. In this life, we will experience situations and circumstances that are full of despair and disappointment. As trained as we are in this room, in our humanity we still feel the pain and sadness of death. In our lives outside of work, we also bear burdens and heaviness and great responsibilities that can overwhelm. Surely, lamenting is an appropriate response. But I wonder if in the midst of our lamenting, as we sit in spaces of disappointment and despair, that we might begin to see that there is indeed beauty and wonder all around us. The darkness does not change, but in the midst of it, light is always present.

Let us pray...

Gracious God, we are grateful thankful that you are our Light in the midst of darkness. Shine in us, around us, and through us as we move about our daily lives. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.