The Shattered Pieces of Womanhood

I always felt jaded growing up female. I would often hear mixed messages from adults that were supposed to love, encourage, and teach me about care. Love manifested itself in short phrases like, “don’t cluck, cluck like a chicken.” “You’ll follow the footsteps of ‘her’ and never amount to anything.” “You’re a failure and a disgraceful child.” I grew up female thinking; perhaps I am unworthy. Maybe I am just shattered pieces that can’t be made whole. My future means nothing because I am nothing.
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As a young girl, I learned early on how to devalue my being. A truth that penetrated and hunted me throughout my process into womanhood. Neglect was the ‘N’ word that no adult in my care circle was bold enough to confront. Instead, image took its place, and I was taught to lie without speaking words. I was taught to embrace my silence, masked in this unspoken concept of beauty. Externally I looked good, but internally my heart was devasted, shattered into a million broken pieces as if I was a million piece puzzle. As a young girl, I tried so hard to find the matching pieces but had such a hard time getting it right.

As a teenager, womanhood was known to me as a projection of harsh words. I no longer was living in silence. I became loud, obnoxious, with an extremely ‘off the cuff’ attitude. I cut people with my words. I hurt them with my eyes. I demolished them with my actions. After all, that is what hurt people do to other hurt people. I projected the ‘neglected child’ to others in hopes of healing a piece of me. This way of living, thinking, and acting taught me a lot of harsh life lessons. I used to think I was above certain situations. I would look at other young girls and say, “How did they get there? I’ll NEVER get to that point.” Never say never; that was the beginning of my ‘house fire‘ phase. My life as a teenager started with a spark, and by the time I was nineteen, I became engulfed in flames of pain. The pain of feeling like I was never enough. The rage of anger against my community at the time. The failure I felt within myself and the darkness that kept on sweeping me under; deeper into my ashes, as the house that I once thought would protect me came crashing down on top of me.

As a young adult, womanhood meant independence. I was determined to rise higher than my burnt house and my pain. I set goals for myself and worked tirelessly to achieve them. I found love and solace in dance, writing, and acting. Again, in the midst of my independence, I found myself lost in this patriotic duty to perform perfection to a society that once taught me I am nothing. My whirlwind of pain increased and the pieces of me that I did have a hold of were once again shattering before me.

As an adult, I surrendered it all to THE VINE, the creator of my soul. I just had enough of my darkness, and the inflictions I placed on others, the feeling of neglect that hunted me throughout my life; and the haunting lie that I wasn’t good enough to be made whole. I had to get to a low point before calling on MY VINE for help.

You see, womanhood has taught me two things. It showed me the importance of healing and wholeness. My surrender to THE VINE has elevated me to the woman I am today. At times, I still sometimes feel like I’m a bunch of scattered pieces. But, just today, I woke up and heard MY VINE’S voice so clearly. He whispered so softly the one phrase that birthed this story, which is my history into conception, “Scattered pieces are fragile pieces made whole.”

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As a result, of HIS ultimate love, I am made whole and set free from the bondages that tried to beset me. Today, I define my womanhood as the process of becoming whole and speaking out loud my truths. I hope my authenticity can set other lost souls free from their house fires. I desire to guide them to the SOURCE of complete surrender and wholeness, for that was how I found my peace. After all, “Scattered pieces are fragile pieces made whole.”

I’m just speaking out loud in my process of becoming.

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Signing Out,

Esther Lynn

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Achievement or Well-Being?

This morning I read a short article about how parents in the Netherlands raise their children to value education for their well being, rather than for achievement. The Netherlands has one of the top education systems in the world. Naturally, I was intrigued as to what makes it the top-ranked country in the world and what are they doing differently compared to my upbringing in the education field. One aspect that the article highlighted was students are encouraged to see themselves as they are without the pressure of performance, competing with their peers, and grades.

I grew up in a household where education was everything. You go to school to apply yourself, be the best student, and bring home only the best grades. My parent’s always reminded my siblings and me of the opportunities that were easily given to us. In Haiti, they had to pay for school, prepare their own lunch, and travel far to get to the school building. In America, the school system provided school bus transportation, free education, and depending on your home situation, free lunch. My parents would say we were privileged compared to other students across the world and they were right. Sometimes I miss those days when my only responsibility was to be a student.

However, as I think about my son and have discussions with my husband about how we want to raise him, I can’t help but wonder, is that all there is to education– going to school, getting good grades, and being the best? How about the wholesomeness of the child and how will we make sure, as parents, that our children feel a sense of completeness within themselves, despite the pressures to conform, and perform in an educational world saturated with the need to prove self-worth by achievement and accolades from others?

I must give my parents credit because they raised me up to be a passionate, inquisitive, and curious young woman. I understand I was raised and brought up in a different time period. My parents projected upon my siblings and me, what their parents always wanted from them, or what they wished they could’ve had for themselves when they were my age. So it’s not a surprise that in elementary and junior high school, my parents expected me to apply myself. In high school, I had to remain focus to be qualified for the university level. During university, the expectation was to do well so I can get a good paying job. The problem is at these crucial stages of my educational journey; I lost my sense of purpose because I was too busy competing with my peers. I saw myself in who ‘they‘ were and not in who ‘I‘ was–I think that’s something many young people can connect with.

Competition.jpgAs a young teen, I maintained a mindset of always being the best and working hard. By the time I entered high school the value of education had become a source of achievement, rather than the awakening of my mind. At Mount Pleasant High, I was not only in competition in the classroom, (that’s if I was even interested in the content matter) image also became a defining factor of who I was and how others saw me. What I wore, the style of my hair, my friends, and overall demeanor. My intellect took a backburner, and if I was in good terms with the teacher, grades were not a problem. High school was all about graduating and getting into university.

My college years were a whirlwind of emotions. I entered a different world, with student peers that had a broader perspective on life and wasn’t afraid to share their opinions and worldview in the classroom. I felt like the invisible man occupying space. I thought college was just about doing well, earning a degree, and at the end of all your efforts, getting a good paying job. The reality of it all is college was a time in my life where I recognized my achievement gaps. It was no longer about competition or image–it was about proving myself worthy of the opportunity placed in front of me. For so many years, my mindset was all about being the best and achieving good grades to be successful. It never occurred to me, till then, the importance of communication, working collaboratively with different people that are entirely different from me and the importance of learning to appreciate and utilize my voice as well as life experiences to contribute to what should’ve been my real educational journey from the beginning.

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The beauty of different seasons and stages I have encountered throughout my academic journey is the growth and progress that it has made in my well-being. My parents were right by teaching me the value of education at a young age. Although I got lost along the way, it was the many lessons I allowed myself to learn throughout my process that has shaped me into the woman I am today.

So, as I think about my children and how I hope to raise them up, I pray my husband and I will be parents that teach them how to be confident individuals. I hope our children will welcome different opinions and have the courage to stand in their convictions in what they believe to be real and authentic, while also being receptive to what others can teach them. I have no desire to move to the Netherlands, but I sure can learn from their model and apply it to my household.

Signing Out,

~Esther Lynn~

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

A Fight to the Finish

This morning I am reminded of Apostle Paul’s famous words, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” (2 Timothy 4:7) I’m reminiscent of these words because lately, it feels like I’m fighting to finish strong during my last several days at work. As of this week, I have only 30 days left until my maternity leave starts. Remaining focused in the present moment is a challenge. My son consumes my mind and the upcoming transition back to the United States keeps me distracted and staring off into space.

The difference between Apostle Paul and me is he was actually at the end of the finish line. He lived a gruesome but fulfilling life. He endured the greatest storms and not once did he recant his trust in God. He walked into situations where the result was often unknown. It’s almost like he never had his own set of expectations as to how things would turn out. He only expected God to take over and guide his path through the dark valleys of uncertainty. He had hope that God will attend to his needs as he climbed up the troublesome mountains of this world. Paul was never sure of the end result here on earth. But he knew what awaited him in glory. For him, the fight to the finish to see the greater glory of what awaited him was worth far more in comparison to the precariousness of this passing world.

I glean on Paul’s perseverance. I read his words and allow them to uplift me; as I take hold of what my present moment has to offer me. An old Haitian proverb seeps its way through my pores and penetrates my heart, “Deye mon gen mon.” (Translated in English, “Beyond the mountains, there are more mountains.”) An idiom most Americans could relate to is, “The grass isn’t greener on the other side.” As I go through this waiting period towards the finish, I must remember to keep my head focused in all situations and live in the present because that’s what dictates the outcome of my future. Endure hardships by not easily being distracted by fears of what’s to come or what currently is–I must remember to trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, and love extravagantly.

I believe what Apostle Paul was trying to convey to Timothy is a persistent pace forward is needed when running a race that feels everlasting. Emotions are misleading if one allows them to take over. His words serve as a reminder, a forecast of what can happen if one allows the anxieties of tomorrow to cloud their judgment about today. Therefore, I must keep my head above the torrent of negative thoughts and strive to finish strong. I must fight the good fight, finish the race, and remain faithful till the very end.

We are all in the process of becoming. I just live to speak mine out loud.

Signing Out,

~Esther Lynn~

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

Latest Update In the Land of the Morning Calm

This past month I’ve had a lot of cool cultural experiences. Last week, the school of the blind came to my school to give free massages to the teachers. Of course being pregnant, made me jump at the opportunity. It was a fascinating experience. As soon as I walked in the room, the chaperone for the blind students said, “This is the 원어민” (The Native English Teacher). The students gasped in excitement. One of my colleagues informed them I was pregnant and that made them even more amazed with me. I watched as the students talked back and forth about who should give a massage to the pregnant foreign teacher. I just sat back and enjoyed the scene taking place in front of me. What made the whole scenario interesting is their way of identifying who I was, and certain characteristics about me, through the art of touch and the sound of my voice.

The Best Cultural Experience Ever

It was my first real encounter with blind people. It was astounding to hear and see how they interacted with each other and with me. It’s as if I was a part of a reality show, but instead I was watching through a television screen, rather than a present part of the whole encounter. I loved every moment of it. All the other teachers had only their upper back massaged. But, for me, they gave me an arm, shoulder, upper back, and scalp massage. My hair blew them away. I heard them talking amongst themselves about it. Soon, I had three blind students crowded in front of me. “Waaw,” they exclaimed with their mouths open, as they touched, felt, and massaged my scalp. It was SO relaxing! Did I mention it was free! My co-teacher was finished in ten minutes. Before she left the room, she stopped by my chair and said, “Willynn, you must have been the special guest everyone was waiting for.” When I finally went back to the English office, I exclaimed to my colleagues, “Now that was the best cultural experience I ever had!”

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Students Behavior: End of Semester

Other than that great moment in time last week. Around this time of year, students get very antsy and obnoxious. It’s humid, sticky, and rainy. The first semester is slowly coming to an end and summer vacation is on the horizon. They talk more than listen and are always ready to be competitive during game time. Despite it all, they are still endearing and caring towards me and Baby T. Every morning, when they see me walking to school, they run to me and with their high pitched piercing voices they say, “Good morning, Willynn Teacher! Hello, baby!” I can’t help but have a smile when interacting with these little people I have grown to appreciate and admire.

 

My Stalkerish First Graders

The English office is on the second floor, which is the same floor as the first-grade classes. My first graders get really excited when they see me. In Korea, there is no such thing as staff bathrooms. Everyone shares the same bathroom, which can be overwhelming at times. A prime example of this is when I go use the bathroom; the first-grade girls become borderline stalker-ish. They stand guard in front of the bathroom stall, whispering to each other, “Willynn Teacher and baby is in there.” (As if I physically have a baby in my hand.) I appreciate my students, but, my goodness, they get taxing at times. The joys and woes of being an elementary school teacher.

The Speed of Time

The days and months go by quickly here. One day it’s Monday, and next I know, it’s already Friday. The weekends are like quick daydreams and the week starts over again. Just yesterday it was March and it’s already July. The speed of time just makes me more aware of every moment. My heart has changed tremendously for these little people. I can now value their roles in adult lives. They are the best teachers with amazingly creative minds. They have this way of transforming any adult and making them in tune with their suppressed inner child. The wonderful thing about it all is when that inner child is finally released from its confines, the world opens up to you, and you begin to see the beauty in all things.

Oh Yeah, Pregnancy Update!

IMG_4721As you can imagine, I’m getting bigger by the day. The women teachers are captivated by my baby bump. They say, they have never seen my sort of belly shape before. (Um, okay. Whatever that means. I never knew there was such a thing.) Just today one of my co-teachers said, “Willynn, your belly! It grew over the weekend! It’s more forward than wide. Wow! I never saw a belly like that before.” My only response is my baby has an appetite just like his father. “But you’re not fat,” is her response. Um, thanks. (LOL, what else can I say.) A few weeks ago we found out that Baby T is a BOY!!! That is what we prayed for and that’s what God has granted us. Micah and I are ecstatic for our baby boy.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how God brings us through certain journeys and experiences. I compare pregnancy to the process of preparing for a wedding. If not careful, the soon to be newlyweds can get caught up with only the wedding aspect and not the actual marriage. Because at the end of the day that’s what matters. Just like pregnancy, soon-to-be parents, get caught up with the pregnancy, the material possessions, the praise, baby registry, baby shower, and labor. But, forsake to look forward.

Pregnancy is only momentary, just like a wedding. After all the glitz and glamor, another life begins, and an old self-image ends. It’s something Micah and I try to constantly be aware of and keep at the forefront as we transition into parenthood. It’s not always easy, but our baby boy deserves to enter the world with parents that are prepared mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to receive him. Even an innocent child deserves wholesomeness in their environment.

We are all in our own process of becoming. I just live to speak mine out loud.

Signing Out,

Esther Lynn

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

 

Inklub

My husband, Micah and I started a new YouTube channel called, the Inklub. Below is a description of what the Inklub is all about. I hope all my readers will check out our new channel and subscribe.

Inklub is a channel where we will share our writings to inspire, encourage, and sometimes even challenge our viewers to think differently. Most of our videos will be spoken word pieces, but we also plan to share songs, stories, and various other creative presentations.

Our writings are inspired by the world around us; whether it be our experiences or others. As we observe, we listen, we write and then speak out our perspectives.

We believe there is something undeniably therapeutic about words–the right words. That is why we are so adamant about sharing what we’ve written. We hope you enjoy this channel. Feel free to subscribe and connect with us.

Till Next time Friends,

Esther Lynn

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

1 Year Anniversary

I can hardly believe it today is my one-year anniversary in Korea! Wow, time really flew by! I must say this has been the most exhilarating, life changing, and challenging adventure I’ve ever been on. However, I’ll forever be grateful for this opportunity abroad because it has shaped me in ways I never would have imagined.

Prior to moving to Korea, if you did not know me well, I assume people would have perceived me as someone that was relatively quiet, snobbish, and self-absorbed. In retrospect, I would say people assumptions about me were correct. I was very much to myself and life revolved mainly around me and mine. I would say my biggest identity flaw was the “I” syndrome. Often my siblings and cousins would get mad at me for always thinking about myself and what was convenient for me. (Yeah, I drove a lot of people crazy.) Over time, I realized what caused me to be so consumed with me was the lack of not knowing who I really was–so, instead of investing time on what and who really mattered I focused on trivial things such as, image, apparel, and status.

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Untold stories, untold truths, hidden deep within a soul… a voice whispers, awaken the treasures. Reach down into the deepest abyss and capture your truth.

After getting married, I realized I did not need things and praise from others to make me feel complete as a human being. My beloved husband, Micah, has taught me the art of simplicity. I learned how to be content with what I already had and to appreciate the people in my life that I hold dear to my heart. Micah not only taught me the art of simplicity he taught me the beauty of communication. He had this way of pushing me out of my head and helping me put words to my thoughts. He is my Sankofa bird, constantly reminding me to look back from time to time to see what my past has taught me in the wake of my present stage in life.

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He speaks truths that awakens my soul. Forever my Sankofa Bird, my Micah Josiah.
For the past year, I’ve been living abroad in a foreign land. As I already mentioned, it has been the most exhilarating, life changing, and challenging adventure I’ve ever been on. Mainly because, as a foreigner, I constantly have to speak out loud. Whatever I say or do is a cultural exchange for my colleagues, students, and friends. Community is what makes this experience abroad so enriching. The necessity to be honest about who you are, who you allow to surround you and what you want in life, rings like a clanging alarm. If not careful or aware of these things, I can slowly become self-absorbed again. Therefore, my community keeps me upright and authentic in all that I say or do. The realization that no matter what, you are a leader worth paying attention to, and what makes the attention either good or bad is completely up to you.

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The greatest lesson that life abroad has taught me is the intensity to love.
Over the past 12 months, my heart has swelled for young children that are completely foreign but so welcoming and appreciative towards me. Of course, I had students that were the complete opposite. But the love that pressed my heart made me work harder to somehow reach them and build some type of rapport with them. There have also been people that found me, and I found them from all different parts of the world. Together we all had to bypass the barriers of language, culture, and customs to reach the truest sense of ourselves. These exploits in community have never been easy. The love and security we have found in each other have kept us pressing forward in the direction of change to dissipate our frailties that have kept us lost in our past rather than intentional about our present and future.

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The intensity to love, the art of simplicity, the beauty in communication and the enriching experience of community. All of these lessons have shaped me by making me better as a woman, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and teacher. I’m grateful for this opportunity; life is more vibrant and real because of it. What else can I say but thank you Korea and all of you that read this blog and spend time uplifting my spirit.

Signing Out,

Friday, February 17, 2017

~Esther Lynn~

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defining Freedom

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” -Harriet Tubman-

Next week marks my fifth month in Korea. This past weekend, I reflected on my life in the United States and my present season in the land of the morning calm. I can’t help but have a heart of gratitude. As a little girl, I use to always dream about my life as an adult. I always knew I wanted a husband that would love me unconditionally. God has blessed me with a man that reflects his imprint, internally and externally. I always desired an impactful life, God is currently taking me on a journey that will lead to  an amazing, powerful story.

As a young girl, I was always inspired by Harriet Tubman. It was in the third grade when I learned about her for the first time. I was captivated by her courage, perseverance and serving spirit. She was an ordinary woman that left her mark on MY HISTORY. I always thought of her as influential. History defines her as a woman who was never afraid of her process and the journey it took to take back what was rightfully hers from the beginning, her freedom.

At a young age, I was intrigued by this woman of faith. You see, Harriet Tubman never defined freedom as self gratification, ignorance or emotional rage. Her actions in conducting the Underground Railroad were never selfish. If it was she never would’ve freed thousands upon thousands of people-a nation. AND my ancestors stories would never have reached me in this age, day and season.

As an adult, freedom is being redefined by media outlets by numbing our senses. News coverage metastasizes racism where it is now a thing rather than a problem that needs to be confronted. We, including myself, are quick to play the blaming game. As grieving families are dealing with their loss, the media further assassinates the character of the one that’s being mourned. Wow!-If Harriet Tubman was a live, what would she say to this broken generation, this unjust system?

Perhaps she would say, “find freedom, child. Speak the truths that are rooted, embedded deep within you. Fall away from the deadly spirit of “I” and rise higher than the circumstances that somehow tries to shape you.” You see, the issue of black and white is NOT the only factor fueling the race wars happening in America, it’s deeper than that. Black and white are labels, categories, stereotypes used to define a people lost in their own coded language. Black versus white; immigrant versus native, gay versus straight- disproportionate messages that are bathed in too general and ignorant statements. I choose to rise higher and define freedom as one people under God, serving together to make our world better.

There will come a day when I, too, become an ancestor. I often wonder, what will my descendants say about me? They will look back in history in search of my words, actions and deeds. I have to ask myself, honestly  will I be proud of what history writes about my life? An old friend from long ago said to me, people are like tea bags, you want to see how strong they are, watch how their character develops when dipped in hot water.” In other words, the path to freedom can either build a person up or destroy them completely. It’s a process filled with trials that requires diligence, understanding and great endurance. It’s the molding of a remarkable leader, a Moses to a community of people. A sound voice in the midst of chaos. I define freedom by my dreams, aspirations, challenges and setbacks. It’s my joys, successes  and conquering moments. We all have the ability to define our own freedom I just pray we all take the necessary time to define it wisely.

I’m just Speaking Out Loud in my process of becoming…

Signing Out,

Monday, July 11th, 2016

Esther Lynn