Tag Archive: family

Things Given

Things Given‘Tis the season, and I’m thinking about gifts. Not just about presents wrapped with bows and ribbons, but about things given, and a recent conversation.

A friend and colleague told me that, in the world of therapy, you never take anything away without giving first. I’ll mess up his clinical wording, so I’ll give you my own writerly example of what he said:

Say you have a client with an imaginary friend, a major imaginary friend who holds a lot of power and sway over your client’s world. Now, you can’t just blurt out that imaginary friends don’t exist. That would be devastating, and would cause more harm than good.

At this point, I thought about key moments in my own life where the carpet seemed yanked out from under me. Many, many key moments flashed before my eyes and I was heartily amused to think that my own personal cheerleaders in life are brilliant for blurting things out before I’m ready. I think they delight in my hard landings.

The thing of it all has been though: I got good at landing properly–similar to the way they teach you to fall in martial arts classes. And I got good at licking my wounds and good at bouncing back up. It’s become a way of life for me, and not a bad one. I’ve been taught great lessons, and I’ve even managed to teach myself some doozies as well. Resilience, self-encouragement, finding the ray of sunlight in an otherwise dark mess, these are things I know from repeated trial and error.

Now at this point, my writer brain was awakened and starting to line up the words to describe this conversation, and that’s when this happened:

“Never take before you give,” my friend declared. “If you do, you leave a void.”

The writer brain did a flip, but this wasn’t the end of the story. My friend quickly mentioned different techniques for helping the client, and concluded that, rather than working to remove what was imaginary, a person should instead work on building the client’s ability to see all the reality in his or her life, all the flesh-and-blood family, teachers, mentors, coaches, and friends that populate the life of this particular client. He said you fill the client up before you ever suggest letting go of the imaginary friend.

“You give before you take,” he said, and then, “Never in the reverse order.”

These moments in life happen for a reason. Here I sit, in the midst of the holiday giving season, turning this over in my mind. Imagine it: Of all things given this season, our presence fills each other’s lives the best.

Hold on to each other, friends. I wish you all wonder-filled holidays, and an adventurous New Year!

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a blogger, poet, and traveler.


Gypsy Thanksgiving

Gypsy ThanksgivingThis is the first time in a long time that I am home for Thanksgiving. My home, the home I grew up in, with my blood relatives all around (making a lot of racket at the moment). I’ve missed this. And I’m grateful for it.

But I would be remiss to overlook my Thanksgivings past. There was the South Carolina Thanksgiving where my cousin and I woke up to Kahlua cake. This was the prototype for a wedding cake that his mother was making, and in our favor, this first cake didn’t turn out. We sat on the floor and feasted on cake that had been tossed into a cardboard box. The second cake turned out and we were not allowed to touch it.

And in all my years of working in restaurants, in five different states no less, only one, Söntés in Minnesota, offered itself as a gathering place for Thanksgiving for its far-from-home staff and for any regular guests who wanted to enjoy a gourmet potluck. It was not a work day; the doors remained locked. But a wave at the window got everyone in to warmth, food, and laughter.

In the last few years, I have been privy to dinner at the house of some very good friends. Four generations, including in-law relatives and those of us not related, would gather around the table and enjoy traditional (local and foreign) foods and camaraderie as one, big, crazy family. After dinner, we all did the dishes together, which to me, is the mark of true family inclusion. Guests get waited on, and are treated to the spotless areas of the house. Family tells stories in the messy kitchen and snacks on leftovers straight from the pan.

I have so much gratitude, not just today, but every day for my home and family, and for all of my second families who’ve welcomed me in over these wandering, writing, gypsy years. May I pay this love forward, with my every step.

Happy Thanksgiving, to you and all of “yours”!

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. To learn more about her current writing projects, or for ways to donate toward their completion, see JodyBrown.com/writing.

The Eleventh Hour

The Eleventh HourHistorically, Veterans Day began in America as Armistice Day, when, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the Allied Nations and Germany declared a cessation of hostilities of WWI. But in 1954, after WWII, it was changed to Veterans Day to include all U.S. veterans. It was temporarily moved to a Monday in the early 1970s, before solidly moving to November 11 regardless of what day of the week the 11th fell upon, in 1975.

Today, 11-11, we honor all those who, in patriotism and courage, offer their very lives to fight for our way of life. While politics and agendas can make our country like one big family that doesn’t always get along, we are, at the end of the day, a family, one that enjoys life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is a very good life.

Tremendous Thanks and Gratitude to:

My Father

My Grandfathers




and all of our Veterans

for their service and protection of our way of life

Jody Brown’s first book, of Upside Down Kingdom, is on Amazon.

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