She was once a girl

​​​​​coveting a rose,

a tight bud, barely open, verdant leaves hiding what lies beneath.

Just one, please –

she doesn’t have enough for the dozen.

A dozen years.

Her father calls to her

from the kitchen,

He’s here, he says.

She grabs the rose,

a boutonniere,

(She wonders if they even

make boutonnieres


​​​​​to place upon her date

for the dance

(She wonders if they even

have dances


​​​​​He has one for her too,

​​​​​a garish corsage,

​​​​​it’s itchy and too tight

​​​​​on her thin wrist.

She hates it

and she loves it.

You know those hypotheticals you run by little kids, in order to make sure they know how to stay safe?

“If you were walking down the street, and a stranger in a car pulled up and asked you a question, what would you do?”

“If you were home alone and something caught fire, who would you call?”

And then you listen to their response and decide if you’ve done your job as a guardian in their life, based on how satisfied you are with their emergency plan.

Yesterday, I walked out of my house to get some fresh air. I…

I haven’t always considered myself a racist.

I thought it was enough to sit back and congratulate myself for being raised in an all-Black neighborhood in New Orleans, for having Black friends, not seeing color, voting for a Black President. I adamantly (but silently) denounced racism, shook my head (silently) when I saw a KKK demonstration, objected (silently) to racist comments made in my presence. Good thing I wasn’t like them, those racists.

Then I started reading about implicit bias, the concept that “we have attitudes towards people or associate stereotypes with them without our conscious knowledge” (Perception Institute). Ohhhhh…

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros for Unsplash

Default thinking is keeping you stuck.

Your life experience has ingrained in your brain a particular set of opinions, attitudes, beliefs, and “truths” that you return to over and over again. Evolutionarily speaking, these defaults are useful. It’s efficient to know intrinsically and immediately which way to turn when you leave your driveway and whether or not you like blue cheese. It would be laborious to run through life having to relearn, reprocess, and decide anew at every juncture.

But creatively, psychologically, and emotionally, the consequences of default thinking can be stifling. When we accept our default thoughts as truth…

Photo by Andrea Ferrario on Unsplash

I started this decade as a 34-year old corporate professional, a wife of a Navy doctor, and a mother of a 15-month old sweet little boy who could curl up inside my heart with one look. In this decade, I moved into two new homes in two new cities. I became the mother of a feisty little girl, who is the sun itself in all its warmth and brightness and flaring fire. I weathered a 9-month deployment with two kids under 5. I got divorced and laid off. I got rehired and remarried. I started two new businesses. I left…

Photo by Amy Strong

My daughter just started doing perfect cartwheels. She couldn’t do them at all a few months ago. I certainly didn’t teach her how to do them, as I have the athletic ability of a toad. She’s not in gymnastics class, cheerleading camp, or dance. She simply made up her mind to do them, and spent HOURS practicing in the yard and at the beach and during recess and on the living room floor. Cartwheel, bent knees and fell on the landing. Cartwheel, straight legs, fell on the landing. Cartwheel, bent knees, stuck the landing. Over and over and over again.

Photo by Amy Strong

It started in April, the spring that my backyard turned into something out of a NatGeo special. First, it was the mourning dove nest in the guest room window. We would quietly creep into the room on all fours, so as not to surprise the dove parents as they made their nest, laid two grey eggs, hatched their eggs, then fed their nestlings until they all flew off, leaving a perfectly spun nest behind.

Then my daughter noticed a pair of robins doing the same thing outside of her window. So we watched again, opening the door slowly and quietly…

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

One. In this world, we are lost in a dark, dark wood. We stumble into one another and into trees and brush, with our hands out, groping a hidden path in the darkness. We cannot see. We do not know the way. We walk in circles of error, grasping at prickly vines, brushing against papery bark, wailing that we cannot get it right, are not good enough to get through. We fall and sob in a pile of dry leaves, certain that we will never find our way. That we are stuck without a path in this forest of mistakes…

Amy Strong

Life strategist, spacemaker, professional problem solver, owner of The Solver Space.

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