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Photo by Artem Kniaz on Unsplash

It’s that time of year again — the time when memories of loved ones past make their way to the present. A special time we love and embrace those who are “near and dear” to us. It is also the time that most of us move at breakneck speed and invite stress into our already hectic lifestyles. Emotions, the good and the not so good, are everywhere. It’s Christmastime.

Feelings or emotions are the universal language and are to be honored. They are the authentic expression of who you are at your deepest place. ~Judith Wright

This year, my emotions are especially raw. I feel them deeply and have found myself driving down the road, crying as I listen to songs on the radio. I’m sure COVID has a lot to do with the sadness I’m feeling. There has been so much loss and division during a time when people should run to each other — not away. In addition to the struggle that is COVID, I lost my brother and his daughter — only 17 — in a tragic car accident. We were not allowed to gather as a family or take time to grieve together over our mutual loss. …

for teaching persuasion

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I recently watched the Netflix special by Dave Chapell called Unforgiven. Normally, I would skip over something like that because I’m not really all that into stand-up comedy. However, my oldest son sent me the clip and asked me at least three times if I had watched it yet. I kept promising, it just didn’t happen. And then it did.

I couldn’t believe I hadn’t watched it sooner.

His writing is a brilliant work of persuasion. Artful. Breathtaking. Genius. I would love to teach it as part of my persuasive writing and speaking curriculum. This is why.

It is relevant.

The beginning of healing, peace, and hope

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Thanksgiving has always had a special place in my heart. My grandmother always made a big Southern to-do out of it, and when November rolls around, I can still feel the childish excitement building up inside just like it did way back then. This year, it doesn’t feel as exciting, but I think the tradition still offers healing, peace, and hope for our futures.

What is so special about Thanksgiving?

As a young elementary school student, I learned that the Mayflower Pilgrims left England for religious freedom and eventually headed for the Jamestown settlement in Virginia. …

There is a connection.

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After working in a church setting side-by-side with my ex-baptist-preacher-husband (EBPH), raising and homeschooling four children, plus all the stuff that normal people do, I was exhausted.

Let me preface that this wasn’t an “I need a nap” type of tired, or “I didn’t sleep well” tired, or even “I worked hard today” tired. This was the type of tired that seeps into your bones and weigh so heavily on your soul that you don’t have the strength to carry your body around. The tired that Oprah refers to as a “weariness of spirit”.

Probably not.

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I didn’t realize I said it. It was compulsive, excessive, and becoming a mantra. Then I met my neighbor.

She was a beautiful young mom of two equally beautiful boys. We were both wives of seminarians, who we hoped, would someday be gainfully employed. I learned quickly that we had a lot in common: a past involving very strict, religious fundamental parents, overbearing husbands, and an innate desire to please.

The first time I heard her say it, I was standing on the sidewalk in front of our apartments. …

And how to reroute when you do.

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Recently, I had the pleasure of talking with a non-native English speaker who didn’t understand the phrase, I lost myself. I briefly explained that it meant to be disconnected from who you really are. We chuckled about the cleverness of it, but later, I couldn’t shake the thought that the phrase described a condition much more serious than it might sound.

In my heart, I knew the thoughts were lingering because I had lost myself for a very long time in a toxic marriage. When I finally woke up, I didn’t realize the phrase applied to me. …

An exercise in self-discovery.

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An academic exercise known to help with creativity and getting students comfortable with writing is called a free-write. The students are instructed to write about anything for a set period of time without worrying about any conventional writing or grammar rules. Over time, it becomes an exercise in self-discovery.

While I’ve used this activity in the classroom, I’ve never tried it for myself. Perhaps, I can learn something, too?

Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. ~Louis L’Amour

On a whim, I set the timer for five minutes and begin to…

The taste of a life well-lived.

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Sometimes nostalgia hits me right in the gut.

It covers me with waves of memories so potent that I can barely catch my breath. It could be the sight of an old tractor sitting in a field, the smell of biscuits baking, or the soft call of a whip-poor-will.

When I was a child, a memory was a happy thing. Last summer’s vacation, a sleepover, what I got for my birthday. Now, memories tend to be more bittersweet.

People say that bad memories cause the most pain, but actually, it’s the good ones that drive you insane. …

Sometimes the best therapist has four paws and a big wet nose

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Ellen Moody Yacovelli #finerthings

Last night, I watched the movie Must Love Dogs.

It didn’t really have much to do with loving dogs. There wasn’t even an undercurrent theme about loving dogs. Interestingly enough, it was about learning to love again after a betrayal. Dogs are good at that.

A dog has one aim in life… to bestow his heart. ~ J.R. Ackerley

We learn quickly that the star of our show, Sarah, is a divorcé — her husband did the leaving — and her sister is working hard to get her dating again. …

Lessons in humanity from a robot

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When I first heard about the invention of the Roomba, I couldn’t believe my ears. What sorcery is this?

They say for about $400, give or take, my floors can be clean all day, every day. This is a dream come true for the barefoot, OCD type, especially those like me with tile floors and pets that shed. No more grains of sand between my toes, animal hair piling up in the corners, or miscellaneous debris dragged in by dogs.

I felt my hopes rising each time I heard the word — Roomba.


Brenda Karl

Writer, editor, and teacher. Creating a life I love.

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