Death, Family, Friends, Louisiana, Louisiana Flood, Louisiana Flood 2016, murder, tragedy, triumph, Uncategorized

Flood, Murder, and Louboutins

When I told my husband goodbye in our foyer as the water was rising and we were rushing to evacuate, I felt that familiar uncertainty and fear of not knowing when I would see him again. Any time he deployed I’ve felt it. This time though I felt despair, fear, even a little hurt and anger. I was saying goodbye because he wasn’t leaving the house or pets. My stubborn husband, the one who ordered my daughter and me to leave, was staying. I didn’t have time to process every feeling I had, so we waded through the water to my brother-in-law’s truck and headed out of town. Alexis, who was visiting for the weekend, started crying in the backseat as we drove away. That did it for me and I started crying also. The water was rising so quickly we didn’t even know if we’d make it through the driveway.

Just two weeks before, I was stuck in traffic coming home from visiting my daughter in New Orleans. I could see police and firetrucks ahead and knew it was an accident. Suddenly, out of nowhere I started crying. Not the trickle I-can-recover-this-when-the-light-changes kind, Alexis Instagram2the full on screaming kind. Less than a month before, one of Alexis’ best friends was murdered in cold blood only a few blocks from her apartment after spending the day before together. A couple of months before that Alexis and I found a close family member after he’d committed suicide. So, I had spent the day with my daughter wondering if this would break her.

Now, only a couple of weeks later as we drove through the community watching it flood, I thought of my husband’s grandmother. Something important to know about Mawmaw Lock is that she tells stories that usually inspire two thoughts simultaneously: How blessed we are and how important the things we have are; and how blessed we are and how unimportant the things we have are.

A year and a half ago my in-laws moved Mawmaw Lock from her small town in which she’d lived for 55 years to be closer to all of us so we can better look after her. Mawmaw asked if I’d bring her to visit her old church. In trying to ‘prepare’ me she said “These aren’t folks like ones you are probably used to.” but I quickly interjected “As long as they don’t bite the heads off snakes, I’m good.” So, I dressed in one of my best suits; donned one of my favorite pair of shoes and off we went. I really didn’t know what to expect other than it was a church she’d been going to for years and she’d said it was small. While I was parking in the compact, grassy area I caught myself thinking that “small” was such a huge understatement.

When Mawmaw introduced me to the church members, which only consisted of around a dozen, they not only hugged me in Michelle Jester Blog 667554004earnest but knew who I was. Some asked about Larry, others about my kids. I felt like I was sitting on the front porch with family. Mawmaw held the hymnal in her lap and we sang together. Then the service, a simple and quick one, was about being yourself with God. Your true self. One of the scriptures to back up the service was about coming to God in “spirit and in truth.” Simple enough I thought, at first. I’m myself with God. God knows it all anyway, right?

But the more I pondered over that one scripture sitting in that small church in that small town with that small congregation, the more I realized I had barriers. Not intentional ones, just life ones. I always thank God for blessing me, thank Him for my kids and husband; you know all of the things I truly mean. I pray for forgiveness, for all of the people on my prayer list and over issues in my own life. I’m sure to ask God in what direction He wants me to go. Only, once all the thanks were given and all issues were prayed about what was left between me and God?

I’m reminded of a character out of a novel I read years ago. The novel was about a woman who was raised in high class wealth and propriety yet she finds her true freedom in the working class. At first I felt her pain as she watched everything she owned burned during the Chicago fires. I wondered what would possibly become of her since she was basically left with nothing. Everything she owned, every dress, every pair of shoes, jewelry, cash, her Michelle Jester Blog 667554005whole life was burned and she was left with only the clothes on her back. To add to her trouble she was kidnapped leaving her all but ruined for any decent man to want. She was truly destitute. I cried during those parts and couldn’t see a way out for her. Everything she had, including her reputation, was gone. Soon though, I began to feel her triumph when she started to build a life from nothing. She worked hard and found her place in a community she never would’ve imagined she’d belong. She finds her freedom in the fact that she doesn’t have to hold herself to all the ridiculous standards of society. I somewhat envied her freedom.

I’ve learned more recently than ever before that there is a base side of us, a vulnerable and real side that simply needs the basics. That side values people Michelle Jester Blog 667554001dand life. That side brings every human being to the same level. No matter where they work or who they are. No matter what color or sexual orientation they are. That side is the side that when someone is rushed through the doors of an emergency room the shoes they are wearing don’t make a difference. That’s the side God wants. He wants our raw, vulnerable self. That was the most difficult part for me and sitting in that quaint church I realized it was just pride.

So back to two weeks before the flooding when I was stuck in traffic, hysterically crying in my car after visiting my daughter, I lifted my head to look out of my window and saw the most breathtaking sight. It was a cemetery. One I’d passed many, many times. This time though it was so beautiful with sunbeams shining through the clouds above it that I instinctively stopped crying at the beauty of it. I grabbed my phone and took this photo.

Michelle Jester cemetery 4453b

I am prompted to recognize, more than ever, that this world is fleeting. All that truly matters is my relationship with God and how God can use me to love others through it.

I think often about that little country church, especially the last few days. In that church a pair of red bottom shoes was worthless to them and in that moment I sat there feeling they were just as worthless to me. Also, when we were leaving in such a rush to evacuate, none of those things I left behind in my house mattered, except my family.

Screenshot_2016-08-20-22-58-16aaaaThere are a couple of things that will stay with me long after this disaster is over. One is how incredible people are. Louisianians stepped up immediately, not only in rescue efforts but also to feed and provide emergency supplies to anyone in need. Once the water started to recede it seemed every few blocks there was a station set up with free food, water, clothing and toiletries. I’ve seen the best in people from across the state who packed up immediately to come down here and help.

It is astounding.

Another is how strong we are. I thought my daughter was on the brink of a true nervous breakdown just weeks before. Then I saw her rise up and gain strength through the evacuation. I saw my stubborn husband determined to stay behind. He didn’t know how bad it would get but he was unwilling to leave our animals. That is something I’ll admire always.

The other thing is that right before we evacuated My father in law thought while most of us were together we needed to pray. So he prayed: “God we love You. We ask that you protect our family wherever we are, so that we can come together again. God we praise You. We aren’t asking You to protect our homes or cars because we know so many have already lost and we are no more deserving than anyone else. We ask for Your blessing so we may handle what’s coming. In Jesus name, Amen.”

I’m impacted still with the amount of damage our areas suffered. Although it got close, our house didn’t take on water, but we knew we still had a long road ahead because most of our neighbors, community and surrounding communities did flood.  I can see it all around me that people have a new perspective on life. Through this tragedy many of us learned just how blessed we are and how important the things we have are; and how blessed we are and how unimportant the things we have are.  

And when I saw my husband again I just hugged him and cried.

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“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” -John 4:23-24

Michelle Jester blog 667554002

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Friends, laugh, love, Relationships, Uncategorized, Women

Something Simple That Most Men Don’t Know About Women

I recently went on a Girl’s Day with some of my closest friends. Most men (especially those without a sister) think of Girl’s Day and automatically picture a host of women lined up in a beauty salon getting their nails done or sitting around bashing our mates and complaining about our children. However, the truth is for most women it’s different every time (and this is not “the something simple most men don’t know about women”). We might watch movies on the couch, WEARING CLOTHING (most men DO know that, they just don’t want to admit it to themselves), go to lunch, have a drink, do whatever task needs to be done, to include yes, sometimes getting our nails done.

On a recent day together we had a purpose: shopping for a wedding venue for my best friend and sister. She is 47 (older of course) and never been married. As you can guess all of us girls are ecstatic for the happy couple! We hop in the car with coordinating clothing (not “the thing” and in this case not even on purpose). We go to the first venue. This one had such great reviews so we were all excited. However, being that women are critical about stuff like this (no, not “it”) we naturally inspected every inch of the indoor facility. It came up short on many levels to include the most important for women: atmosphere (also not “the thing”). The venue coordinator then gave us directions to the amphitheater where the ceremonies take place. There…we all fell in love. It was a beautiful sunny yet crisp Louisiana winter day. The temperature was perfect at around 70°F with a slight breeze. For women temperature and ambiance mean a lot (again…not “it”). However, if you are thinking of asking a woman to marry you, all I’m saying is choose the atmosphere wisely.

Michelle Jester Selfies January 2016 blog collageAs a professional photographer, what would I naturally do in this perfect atmosphere? Start taking selfies of course! Soon my friends were laughing because they know me well and because they also know how to keep my vanity in check. Am I super vain? If you are asking me, of course I always say no. I’m just confident and happy with myself. Could I stand to lose that last 40lbs the doctor has been on me about for the last few years? (More like 80lbs per Ideal Height and Weight Chart) Yes! Am I going to be unhappy until I make that happen? No. Although, I must say that when I look in the mirror I don’t really see an overweight person like many women do (still not “it”). Am I blind? No, just a realist…I don’t have to be skinny to be beautiful.

After a lengthy round of selfies I asked one of the girls to take a few shots of me. This place was great and I really needed a new social media profile photo. Five minutes later, she busted out laughing at something behind me. I turned to find the other girls poking fun at me by striking enthusiastic poses. Penance for my taking so many photos.

Michelle Jester Blog 2232209234_7783202 BLOG1My sister referenced my love of the camera, mirror, water or anything that gave off a reflection. Ok, so girlfriends know how to keep us in check on it all: vanity, anger, negativity…anything really. (Nope, not “it” but stay with me because “it’s” close.) It was fun and real! It didn’t take long for my friends to join in the merriment of the selfie with me (aka group selfie or usie).Michelle Jester and the Ladies jan2016 5a3This sparked a special memory for me with another best friend, Yvette. Years earlier, many years, she and I dressed up in ridiculous make-up and mismatched clothes and went in hunt of traffic jams. Michelle Jester and Yvette clowning around 1989 3aWe found quite a few and had enormous amounts of fun. We giggled and sang and rode with the windows down all day. I’m surprised we didn’t cause an accident or two but when you’re 19 you aren’t thinking of things like that. She and I have had many fun times through the years but this one I actually have a picture to prove it.

Now to get to “it”, truly “the thing”, I’m going to flash back again a few decades. I was at another best friend’s house. A younger boy showed up to visit with my friend’s younger brother. Tanya and I had been acting silly, playing music and dancing when he showed up. Luckily it didn’t stop the fun. We giggled until we cried as we normally did when we were together. Soon, I found myself in the kitchen in desperate need of a glass of water when he stopped me by saying, “My image of you is totally blown.” I heard Tanya, my friend, in the hallway laughing. “Why is your image blown?” she asked. I tried to hide my smile as he went on to tell me what I’d heard Michelle Jester, Delisa and Tanya clowning around 1990 1aso many times before; that he and his friends always saw me at school and thought I was so mature. My reply was “And?” He just stood there with a blank expression on his face which made Tanya and I start laughing again. Finally, he expressed his shock at seeing me act so silly. He said had he known I was so ‘normal’ he would’ve talked to me years earlier. Tanya explained through tears and laughter that  all women are silly but we just don’t share that with everybody like men do (yes!). Soon he was laughing with us and we all had a great day together.

Over the years I’ve been blessed to have many wonderful girlfriends. Several are best friends I’ll have for the rest of my life. The ones I don’t talk with often are no less close to my heart than they are when we do. All of those women have one important thing in common, it’s “the thing”. We are all silly and childish. We remind each other that life is not about all the problems. While the problems might be what help us grow and become wiser. The problems are also what can easily make us serious, foreboding and often bitter. When we are together it’s not about how important we are to the community or how successful in our careers we are or how famous either of us are or are not. It’s not about how serious we want to be taken or how many walls we’ve built to keep out pain or disappointment. It’s the opposite of those things. It’s simple. It’s being silly and frivolous. It’s reminding each other that we can be just ourselves and we are accepted for just that.

For the married man who thinks his wife is getting a little fussy? Send her off with her friends for a Girl’s Day!

For the single guy who really just wants to talk to that beautiful single girl…picture her making a funny fishy face with her friends; giggling and being silly.

This girl…

Alexis Jester 20022010_22342001

 

Is also this girl…

Alexis Jester 20022010_22342002

She is the every woman.

We are all silly. Most of us don’t show “it” to everybody. But find that part of the woman and love “it”. That’s the special part.

Michelle Jester Screenshot of Instagram Post for BLOG

 

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Rejoice always, -1 Thessalonians 5:16

And I commend joy, for man has no good thing under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun. -Ecclesiastes 8:15

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; -Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. -1 Corinthians 5:8

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:11

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. -1 Peter 4:8

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! -Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

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Uncategorized

Who Cares Where It Goes?

Aunt Gail and me at my wedding

Rummaging through some old pictures I came across this one of My Aunt Gail and me at my wedding nearly 22 years ago. She was an award winning Home Economics teacher and Mardi Gras costume maker. My Aunt Gail taught me many aspects about etiquette and basic principles of household; from the simple to the elaborate. She made sure I knew how to hold an intimate brunch or host a 12 course dinner party.

Today, I will share one of those tidbits that I truly didn’t think I cared about when I was younger. After all, who cares where everything goes? Thankfully she was an engaging teacher.

When she first told me that once I heard this, a basis necessity, I’d never forget it – I automatically thought, “I’m going to forget it.” However, I never have and now you never will.

It’s something I see people struggle with frequently; how to always remember a simple place setting.

LEFT has four (4) letters in it, so does FORK; so your fork goes on the left side of the plate.

RIGHT has five (5) letters in it, so do KNIFE and SPOON; they go on the right side of the plate.

In alphabetical order = fork, knife, spoon.

The sharp side of the knife faces the plate, so that when one reaches for their spoon they won’t risk cutting themselves.

Glasses go to the top right of the plate as most people are right handed.

It’s that SIMPLE!!place setting ad simple

Now, some of you are surely thinking, “Wow, she posted on how to set a table?” and I might have even annoyed some of you with this bit of advice.  …Oh, but one day, whether you are setting your table for an intimate gathering of friends or an important business dinner, you will remember my Aunt Gail and me.  😉

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Uncategorized

Remember the Good Stuff…

duckie braclet

Most people who know me know I love Rubber Duckies.  I don’t collect them; I don’t want 100 Rubber Duckies dressed in different clothing showing up in my mailbox. However, Rubber Duckies do make me feel happier. It seems silly really, I know, but anything that makes us happier in this life is well worth a little silliness. Maybe the silliness is part of it. I wear a charm bracelet every day with only a Rubber Duckie on it. It prompts me to think on things that are good; innocence, relationships, fun, whimsy, spontaneity, and fond memories. When people notice it, they usually smile. I often get the statement “I would never have expected you to wear a Rubber Duckie bracelet.” – And that always makes me smile.  I hope everyone has something that encourages them to remember the good stuff…
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Children, Family, God, Life

We are Enablers

Who do our kids get there silliness from? Both of us. Oh, don’t get me wrong they cultivate it themselves, but yes, we are the original trainers of the silliness. I remember the first time Alexis and Jaymes-Irish joined forces and turned the tables on me in the busy grocery store. I was on a strict deadline, stressed and not in a good mood at all…then out of nowhere my kids turned into chickens. Yes, chickens. They started clucking and walking…the full walk of a chicken; one leg after another being extended behind their bodies. It was pay back really for all the years I did it to them. AND. I. LOVED. IT!

I’ve heard over the years it being said that one cannot be their child’s friend, i_Michelle Jester 3402t makes a parent an enabler. They say a parent has to keep order and discipline. No child has respect for parent that they are friends with. I’ve also seen the many post on various social media outlets over the years (the ones that get so much attention) that say “You are their mother not their friend.” However, a wise woman, my mother-in-law of course, told me when my son was young that while I should be his friend, I simply cannot only be his friend and I certainly cannot often be it first. I knew immediately in my heart that was the right answer.

I frequently wonder what all of these other parents consider a friend. Am I ever looking to hang out at the mall with my daughter and a group of her “friends”? Definitely not. Did I feel compelled to go sit in my children’s room when their “friends” were over? Certainly not. However, that isn’t the deepest part of friendship. Those moments may be fun, but friendship is deeper. It goes far beyond being there during the fun times. Friendship is, by definition, a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection and respect. It is a person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade. One with whom another likes and trusts. One who is regarded with affection and loyalty. One who stands firm in support of another in affection and forgiveness. (thefreedictionary.com, dictionary.com and google.com).  We are that friend to our kids. Also, I know the term “enabler” in Psychotherapy can be positive or negative; unfortunately, many people who aren’t familiar with Psychology only know the negative connotation from simply hearing about it. An enabler, in the positive, is someone who provides another with the means or opportunity; to empower; to allow individuals to develop and grow. We are also their enablers. I have no doubt that God gave me these incredible human beings to love and nurture; to befriend and help. To guide when they are young and advise when they are older. To enable them to develop and grow. We enable them to face their own behavior and consequences.

_Michelle Jester 3407I once heard a parent tell their small child that his nose would grow if he lied. This baffled me. Hmm… You lie to them to get them to tell the truth so they can learn that lying is the way to get something you want? Let’s see how that works out for you in the future of your parenting. When one of my children have lied I handled it as my dad once did with me; I tried to help them understand why they were lying. Then, I helped them work out the fact that I won’t always be happy with the truth, however, I hope they learn to trust me with the truth anyway. Then we’d soon move on to doing the right thing so you don’t have to lie in the first place.

I’ve also watched as mothers and fathers paint innocent pictures of their own childhood to their children. Wait, (I’ve caught myself thinking a time or two) I knew you when you were a teenager and I remember you weren’t so innocent. It baffles me that parents don’t share their own truths with their kids. I want them to know that we all make mistakes. I also want my kids to know what made me who I am. I want them to know of the “grey” areas; The decisions you make that aren’t against the law or rules but may not be the best one for you. Sometimes, the “grey” decisions were some of the best! Sometimes they weren’t. I want them to know why I make some of the decisions I do now and especially some of the ones I did then. I also want them to know why I feel God’s Grace when I look at them.

I like the word “allied” in one of the definitions of the word “friend” _Michelle Jester 3404(a person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause.) We knew we could be our kid’s BEST ally. To be an ally is to unite or connect in a personal relationship in a mutually beneficial way.  It is a helpful association with another. One who associates or cooperates with another; a supporter (thefreedictionary.com, dictionary.com and google.com). Being firm in our parenthood is being a good ally to our kids.

People have often asked us if we were afraid our kids would lose respect for us since we are “friends”. I can tell you what we believe about respect: showing ‘respect’ isn’t the same as having respect. When you HAVE respect for someone it isn’t based in fear; it is based in having a deep admiration for someone or their abilities, qualities, or achievements. If you only want someone to SHOW respect then intimidate them, however it is empty and unrewarding. On the other hand if you EARN a person’s respect by having their admiration it is fulfilling. When someone GIVES you their respect, they do so freely because you are deserving, not self-serving.  So, no we didn’t feel like we would lose our kids respect by being one of their closest supporters in this world. Or by sharing our pasts with them.

It’s incredible when we can share a similar story after one of our kids feel remorse over a mistake or something they did wrong. Not only does that forge an even deeper relationship with them but it also shows them that we are all alike in life in the fact that we all do things wrong sometimes. It’s learning to not repeat the same mistakes that make the difference.

I can imagine the teeth grinding happening now since the words “parents”, “enabler”, “friends”, and “children_Michelle Jester 3405don’t mix well for many people. In my years of counseling, those words were often the ones I’ve had to help people overcome the most. Now, some of you are confused since you only know me as the Advertising, Public Relations, and Photography professional, however counseling was my first love. Through the years it was those four words that were the most negative for people – especially when you mix them together.

To be clear, we have strict rules. We also have open minds. When our kids come to us with a request to change a rule or relax one, we will truly consider it. They respect that. They also know they cannot manipulate us so they come to us in honesty. We respect them in return for that. We know correction doesn’t have to be humiliating. You may feel humbled by it, but to humiliate your child on purpose is negative and unproductive.

Parenting is tough but I’ve always believed being a kid is tougher. When people tell my children “Being a child is easy, enjoy it while you can.” (Yes, people actually still say that!) I always follow it up with some variation to “Being a child is tough! You aren’t in control of much, you can’t typically make most of your own decisions, you are always expected to follow other people’s direction and you can neither make much money nor decide how to spend it. Being an adult is much better. You can work and buy stuff, have your own house with your own rules, and make decisions for yourself. You can have a spouse to share your burdens and successes with and children of your own to understand one day. You can decide to mow the grass yourself or hire someone to do it. Life will still be tough; however you will just have more control over the way you get through the tough times.” I always add that life is tough for all age groups; either way it can also be silly and fun.

That’s my point, life is tough. If our children don’t have us as a friend and ally in this world, who will they have? If we are simply the strict disciplinary and teach them to only follow the rules without question or reason, who will they follow after they become an adult and our control over them is gone? Moreover, I don’t want to have to wonder if they will thoroughly rebel against all rules and laws because they were never given the capacity to understand why we have them. Finally, and most important for us all, when will they recognize a truly unfair and uncivil rule or law and work to change it?

The day will come that I will leave this earth. We all have a time to die. I don’t want my legacy_Michelle Jester 3403 to be that I was honest or that I didn’t return wrong for wrong, or I, for the majority, didn’t go around cursing at people, although it has happened (see previous post). I want my legacy to be that I loved deeply and tried to understand those I loved. That I forgave as I was forgiven. That I often simply put away all the seriousness of life and enjoyed it. And I knew, without a doubt, that every hurdle in life can become a rewarding lesson if you see it through.

Sometimes, in between the tough parts of life, you just need to be silly together with your kids. Ride around and dance in the car. Get a fit of the giggle’s over something stupid. Make funny faces and take pictures of those memories as much as you can. Or cluck like a chicken with your kids in the middle of the grocery store.

However, sometimes, and these are the most important times, you have to be that strong ally in a struggle. You have to give them the authority that allows them to develop and grow. You have to be their truest friend and their biggest enabler.

A VIDEO FOR MY KIDS

The Sun Is Rising – Britt Nicole

© 2012 Capitol Music Group / Sparrow Records

Photos: © 2014 Michelle Jester and © 2014 Delisa Sibley

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God, Life, Society

There is a Curse Word Lurking Somewhere Inside Me

I am constantly reminded of just how imperfect I am. One thing I do believe about myself is that I love people. I try to be understanding to their issues and hope I can get the same in return. I also try to accept people where they are in life because God accepts me where I am. Now, that being said I also know I fail miserably at this often enough.

Last week was one of those times. I, Michelle Jester, called a stranger a Michelle Jester 33209891bad name to her face in a public place with witnesses.  Lots of witnesses and a horribly bad name. Many of you will laugh about this because you know me but some of you will not find the humor. And I totally understand. After talking to my husband and kids, best friend, sister and mother-in-law about it and having them all laugh apologetically (and with a bit of sympathy) I decided to share.

Before I divulge my glory moment I’d like to flashback to a previous one. Larry and I were playing cards with friends at their house one evening. Soon the stress was on and it was getting quite competitive. I was cool under the pressure yet the moment someone beat me in a play,Michelle Jester 33209892 from some mysterious place that I hadn’t tapped into for a while, I screamed a curse word.  We all sat in silence for a few moments and then started laughing. Well, they were all laughing, I was mortified. Soon though I began to laugh along with them.

My best excuse is that I live with a man who curses. He doesn’t hide or deny it. Granted he can control it so as to not offend his mother, but she knows he curses. He’s honest like that. Living with him is my best excuse, even to myself, because it makes it difficult to fight off the impulse.

In any case that situation with friends was different in that I wasn’t responding directly to a person.

The day that happened last week was overall a good one. I worked a little that morning and had lunch with my husband after he picked me up from dropping my car to be serviced. Then he brought me to retrieve my car. Nothing major there. Made another appointment and, smiling, I left the dealership. I had two stops to make on the way home for an early Friday off; Hancock Fabrics and CVS. Hancock Fabrics went smoothly and that’s where my real story begins…in the CVS parking lot. Why did I go into such detail about my day? It was happily simple up to that point.

I am backing out of my parking space when I hear a horn blowing. I immediately look behind me and see another vehicle. I wave, apologize for the near accident and turn around to go on my way. Only the car wouldn’t move from behind me. I turned around again to see the older woman fussing at me. While I know she heard my apology through our open windows and I know I heard her ranting, I also do understand nonverbal communication and the anger that stems from the fear of near accidents. So it was pretty bad. I waved again and apologized. She laid on her horn a second time. Michelle Jester 33209892.5Side note: I don’t use my horn much; only for extremes. It’s just rude and confrontational. Finally she finished talking/fussing/screaming and just sat there behind my car making sure I couldn’t move, with a smirk on her face. Ok, so now I’m getting ticked a bit off. After what seemed a few more minutes (was truly probably only a few more seconds) I find myself angry. Side note #2: I don’t like to be cornered and I immensely don’t like it when you are amused by it. I open my door to get out to confront her when she finally drives forward and I back out. I am now behind her and angry, however, when she slammed on her brakes it propelled me into the furious category. There was no chance of me hitting her because I wasn’t close enough to do so. Which meant she did it just to be a… well, I’ll save that for a moment… So, she seemed truly shocked when I pulled in behind her at the pharmacy window and got out.  Since her window was conveniently down and she was talking to the pharmacy (which was packed with people) I proceeded to angrily inquired as to why, when I had apologized and waved over a near ACCIDENT she would be a… (hold your breath)… **insert really bad word here** about it (a tad bit anti-climactic without the actual word).

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Of course it didn’t end there. She yelled that she thought I’d flipped her off instead of apologizing. Where I truly thought to myself if I were going to flip someone off it WOULD probably be her. In any case she then added something like “And you got out of your car and approached me for that lady?”. I spouted another really bad word as I was walking away when she screamed “I’ll be praying for you!” To which I turned around and hatefully responded with something like “Oh paah-leeease… YOU pray for me. Really? You?” If the look on her face were any indication she was immensely affronted by that last jab.

It’s easy to blame it on the fact that maybe she was justMichelle Jester 33209894.6 a bitter old woman. But truth is maybe she really did think I flipped her off. Not so wise to push your luck with a woman who you think just flipped you off, but some people feel protected by their cars enough to do stuff like that. I’m the person who feels comfortable getting out of my car to confront those people. I know it’s irrational.

Side note #3: I hate the “I’m going to use God to tell you how bad you are and what a Christian I am thing” that people do. It doesn’t make you look more like a Christian to use God against people. In all fairness I guess I could’ve left off the mocking comment I threw in there at the end. However, as a very weak defense, it was instinctive. In honesty, I wish it would not have been.

Michelle Jester 33209895.3By the time I was driving away I didn’t feel that glorious feeling that ‘honest’ people like my husband must feel all the time. I didn’t feel like I’d just been ‘myself’ or said what ‘needed to be said’. I felt horrible. Then it hit me harder that she really did look bedraggled (see how I threw that in for fun. Yeah, I’m pathetic.). Then another hit: she was in the pharmacy line. Then deep remorse. While losing my temper doesn’t happen often, it happens…and it’s not a pretty sight. You can bet that the ‘event’ is always guaranteed to be a lifelong tale that my family and friends dredge up at every holiday.

While I prayed for myself yet again in hopesMichelle Jester 33209896.5 of one day overruling the array of seriously bad curse words that are lurking inside me, I truly prayed for her too. Not mockingly of course.

Hopefully, the next person that decides to corner me in a parking lot won’t open my hidden thesaurus. Unfortunately, they might.

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“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” — Ecclesiastes 7:20

“A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.” — Proverbs 21:2

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” — Psalm 141:3

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” —1 John 1:8-9

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” — Ephesians 4:29

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Some Of You Will Never Talk To Me Again

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When my daughter’s high school theatre production ended a few weeks ago the director gathered all of the students in the theater afterwards to talk a bit before she dismissed them. And I was shocked by what many of them said, including my own daughter. During the practices and performances it was clear that the cast and crew got along well together. I’ve been around theatre for as long as I can remember and immediately noticed the main cast seemed to have a chemistry with one another that is rare. Even an acquaintance of mine that works at a large theatre organization commented on the chemistry she observed. However, that last night, after the final performance I felt like I was having flashbacks of the Breakfast Club and I realized, with shock, that personal social barriers in high school truly still do exist.

Right now you are probably saying something like, “Of course they still exist.” Or “How could you think they didn’t still exist.” But I’m not talking about cliques, defined by Social Sciences as normal human behavior where people tend to gravitate to one another and more intensely than other people in that same social setting. If I were talking about that then theatre group and parts of it would be considered cliques. While you can certainly stereotype a group which causes you to put up a social barrier, that’s not quite what I’m talking about either. Stereotyping which is defined in Social Sciences as a set belief which overgeneralizes a particular group or class of people. It never fails that when I see a nondescript van with no windows or a small window with a security screen in it, I whisper “serial killer” to whomever is around. And I admit freely that the driver of said vehicle couldn’t get my help under any circumstances. That’s a social barrier I’ve placed on myself through stereotyping. No helping serial killers or serial killer look alikes: that’s my motto. My daughter picks on me endlessly about that. Still stereotyping to form a social barrier isn’t what I’m talking about either.

There are different types of barriers: Ones people place on us, ones our circumstances place on us and ones we place on ourselves. I’m talking about only the personal one on one barriers that we place on ourselves.

My sister and I were best friends and I think looking back that maybe it kept me from seeing any type of barriers, if they existed, in high school. I knew our family name was ‘important’ but aside from that we were just the new people in a small town. Footloose was the movie of the summer. Go figure, right. This small town had a $1 movie theatre and it played Footloose all summer long. My sister and I must’ve seen that movie fifty times. Wendy and I were determined to be nice to everyone in this new school unless they gave us a reason not to be. It’s ironic that through the years some people say they never ‘talked’ to me because they were afraid I wouldn’t be nice to them.  Yet others, even as recent as this play, say they will never forget me saying hello to them in the hallway.

I’ve learned intentions are good but perception is everything. I also believe our own perceptions of ourselves are more destructive than other people’s perceptions of us. It’s the limits we place on ourselves that cause us more harm than the ones we let other people put on us. When we fear what our peers will think. When we over concern ourselves with what our parents will think. I’ve written about this before, we all care what someone thinks on some level. In one of my blog post titled “Cheating on my Husband” I say “It’s healthy to care on some levels. It’s also healthy to not care on some levels.”,  but I also say “The problem with caring what others think comes in if you are being dishonest to make them believe something about you that isn’t true.”  If you want to be friends with a certain person but chose not to be because of what others will think, then you are being dishonest with yourself. That’s the worst type of dishonesty and the most destructive. If you are drawn to try theatre but choose not to explore that because of what your friends will think or any other predetermined perception, you are cheating only yourself. If you live in fear of something through perception, yours or anyone else’s, and choose not to explore that something, then you may be missing out on one of the most important events in your life. That is what I call our personal social barriers.

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I was determined to raise my kids to try to accept everyone, unless they give you a personal reason not to, because every single person has deficiencies. Either parents who don’t spend time with them. Or too much time with them. Breasts that are too small or large. Not smart enough. Not athletic enough. Introverted. Extroverted.  Too ugly. Too pretty. (Yes, being pretty is seen by many ‘pretty’ people as a deficiency in ways). Too cautious. Too carefree. Most people feel that whatever they are is whatever they see as deficient. I don’t have that mentality. I truly think I have a reverse. Either that or I’ve accepted myself for who/what I am way too well. However, that can also be a negative. Some think I’m overconfident. Some think I am arrogant. I’ve heard it all. However, to me it’s just me. I don’t see myself as too overweight, while in reality I could stand to lose a small person. I just don’t see myself that way. In the mirror I see a beautiful woman. Yes, of course over the years I didn’t apply my confidence in the best ways, mostly in my upper teen and young adult years. In retrospect I can’t believe some of the things I have done; as with anything though I had to find temperance.

That night, the night the production ended, I watched more in puzzlement than anything else, as several students got up to discuss their preconceived notions about one another or theatre before they got into the production together. And at how wrong many of them were. Just a few weeks prior to that night I took a portfolio for a young lady who is on the dance team at her college. Beautiful. A bit shy. Very thin and short. Many girls would think she seems perfect. But her view on it is the opposite. While taking her pictures she stated that she would do much better in life if she had the “right stuff”. “You know” she went on to explain “blonde, more muscular, had curves, outgoing, assertive, looks older… like Alexis”.

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Then I heard my daughter’s words that night to the other kids she’s been involved with throughout this play, she said “Some of you will never talk to me again and I’m going to miss you.”

Wait, I thought to myself, did Alexis just say that? My Alexis? The girl who many in high school and everyone I know out of high school admires. She has friends of all ages all over the state, country and world. She never meets a stranger. She has amazing talent but doesn’t boast about it. She is beautiful but doesn’t see her full beauty. She’s abrasive at times but honest and true. She has the biggest, most amazing heart. She loves people! Truly loves people! I’ve never known my daughter, or my son for that matter, to have those barriers. They are friends with people who cross all social, ethnic, sexual, religious, and gender orientation, as well as social class. They don’t stop to take a socio-economic study on someone before they choose to talk to them.

And my eyes were truly opened to the personal social barriers we all place on our own lives.

I’m married to the most amazing man. He has been a great husband, father to our children, and friend through the years. If either of us had put a personal social barrier between us in high school we wouldn’t be here nearly 30 years later. I was pressured to not go out withMichelle Jester 2244324 him. Was told it would never last, we were too different. He had friends upset with him for dating me and vice versa. We were both told by many that we were in different ‘cliques’ whether we wanted to believe it or not and it just wouldn’t work.

It wasn’t just our peers either. A memory we’ve recalled through the years was soon after my uncle retired as principal and we got a new principal and assistant principal at our school. The assistant principal called me into the office one day. While there he got my mother on the phone and proceeded to voice his concerns over who I was dating and why it was dangerous for me to be associated with him. I laugh every time I think of that memory. My parents LOVED Larry. So When I heard my mother talking rather loudly through the phone at him and his face pale, I laughed. I couldn’t help it. Soon my mother was there and after that session he had with her in his office behind closed doors, that everybody heard anyway, he never voiced that particular concern again.

I had assumed Alexis meant it would be the way it has always been when a play production ends; you think you are all going to stay close forever…but everyone tends to drift back into their ‘normal’ lives. And while you’ll have learned a little more about pre-judging people and activities’ and you may gain a few really good friends through the experience. But “No”, she refuted, “I meant we weren’t friends before and we probably won’t be friends after. It’s just the way it is. And it’s sad.”

Personal Social Barriers. They are our own choice. I don’t have many; however, I still have some. We all do. I just really thank God that I didn’t have the particular social barrier so many years ago that would’ve prevented me from marrying the most amazing man from a ‘different clique’. The man that many of my friends said our relationship would never last. That man and I have one of the best marriages I’ve ever known!

I know some of the friendships my daughter made will fade away. That’s natural and it’s ok. People go separate ways in life. I’m just glad to see that so far, several weeks later, Alexis and many of the others are still either talking, texting, Snapchatting, or hanging out. I look forward to seeing how this one plays out. I look forward to seeing if some of these kids, including my own, can overcome the barriers they place on themselves. Ironically, their play was Grease; a play about overcoming fears of rejection, breaking personal social barriers and following your heart.

I look forward to seeing if the way they perceive life would change at all. Because, while there will always be, there truly shouldn’t be any personal barriers that prevent us from following our hearts.

 

 

 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” -1 John 4:18

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