New Site

Soujournaling is set to end on March 1st.

My new site, KWFreeman.com is where I’ll be posting from now on, so you can follow along there instead.

Thanks!
KWF

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in which I probably say too much

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This has been a difficult season for me. Spring-time stirs up so many emotions that I’ve found it’s been the most difficult time of year for me over the past several years. I start thinking too much. And analyzing everything. And frankly, … Continue reading

the perfect post. really.

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There was a post I worked on today, but it just didn’t jive with me, it didn’t ring true. So I scrapped it because something else has been on my mind lately and I’m guessing I’m not the only one … Continue reading

thoughts for this Lenten season

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It’s been a little rough around here this week. One of us caught a bug and it is cycling through our home… slowly. And just when it seems that we’re done it pops up again. Yesterday I could barely walk … Continue reading

being a little brave

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For far too long I’ve let perfectionism get in the way of sharing my work with others. When I know something isn’t perfect I don’t want to expose it to others for evaluation for fear if they see the flaws … Continue reading

of gifts and feeling small

LadybugShe moves slowly at the sink. It’s Monday and there’s two days worth of dishes to wash by hand. She rubs her head, but it’s not the dishes that bother her.

We spent the weekend thinking and praying about what we needed to do next. What sort of responsibility were we willing to bear for our house-helper’s son’s education? We went back and forth about how financially it didn’t make sense to do it; but in our hearts it didn’t feel right not to.

Monday came and we had made a decision. We wanted to help her son go to the same school our kids did. For the next few years we would pay tuition, books and bus fees for him. It’s what felt right, would be easy to get him in since we were already paying for three and we both agreed.

When she arrived that morning we told her the news. She seemed happy, but not overly so. I assumed it was simply a matter of personality. But later, when I had a friend over who speaks Hindi, she had some questions that needed translating. Things she wanted clarity, with no chance for miscommunication.

Her head had started aching badly. Stress. Tension, which is her typical word of choice when she’s feeling overwhelmed. She appreciated the gift, but after three years, then what? Where would her son go then?

We talked back and forth. Our thought was not to leave her completely on her own at the end of the time, but I wanted her to feel some responsibility for this as well. In my mind three years was a solid foundation and enough time to save and make a plan. Even if it wasn’t this school, that should be enough time to sort out a new one. And it’s India, anything is possible.

But she felt overwhelmed and fear had started to creep in. The next day was no better. Her head still ached and all day long she was distracted, to the point I couldn’t focus either. She had talked to other people. Formed a new plan– one that involved me helping her to find a new school, a cheaper one that still met all of her hopes and expectations, but one she could afford if we were no longer in the picture.

I wasn’t as keen on this plan for a variety of reasons, but today we decided minutes before she arrived to take her around to a few schools. Buy applications, see the schools and talk with the administration about possibilities. Honestly, she had never seen anything except a government school and her eyes were opened at the opportunities available for her son. By the third school, our kids’ school, she started to feel overwhelmed again. She became so overwhelmed her headache returned and she felt nauseated so we took her home.

To say this was not the reaction I had hoped for is an understatement, but I’m trying to put myself in her shoes. Though I know that’s impossible. Still, it feels so strange hold out a gift that I’m not sure she wants or perhaps she simply doesn’t know what to do with it.

Maybe she feels very small right now, even if she can’t express it, as she enters a world that is as foreign to her as a slum would be to me.

Anyway, we sent her home and I’ve felt drained all day. Wanting to help and knowing how to is such a challenge here. So let’s see how the next few days will work out and if we can figure out a solution that makes everyone happy.

Let’s see.

the weight of privilege

JournalsI pull all the kids’ notebooks down and begin scribbling. I won’t remember details years from now, so I write them down. Month-by-month, marking time in these journals so one day they will read them and smile or cry, and hopefully remember.

Stringing words together is something I’ve done so long I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t.

I’m writing in one of the books when our house-helper  stops me and asks what I’m doing.

In our unique brand of broken English and gestures I explain these are books I’ve kept for the kids since they were born. I write in them to remember milestones and funny stories. She thinks this is a good idea, but not possible since she doesn’t know how to read or write. I knew she couldn’t read, but I didn’t realize until earlier this week that she couldn’t write anything. Nothing in Hindi and definitely nothing in English.

She’s incredibly kind and bright and can speak 2.5 languages, but has had no formal education. For some reason I thought she had gone to school before marrying at eighteen. Apparently her parents couldn’t afford school for her and her older brother. So at seven she took over household chores for her working mother. She made meals and did laundry while most kids at seven play video games, learn how to read and write, and play outside.

We talk about her son. He’s four and she’s trying to get him into a proper school so he can learn English–everyone wants to learn English. Her husband is a tailor, she’s a maid; she wants her son to have the freedom to choose what he wants to do. Like many Indian parents she has pinned high hopes on her only son, but getting him accepted into a school is proving difficult.

Education is a business here and so the more money you make the better schools you can afford. An English medium school is what she wants for her son– like the one my kids attend. But it’s out of her price range. She applied to one school, a less expensive one, but because neither she nor her husband can read or write the school denied him admittance.

When she told me today that he had been denied, Jon and I revisited the “what if” we’d talked about last summer when she was a new employee. Back then my husband and I weren’t sure of her character, but now we know her to be a sweet spirit and perfect fit for our family and we try to help her when we can. One way is to teach her how to read and write in English. Something we’ve talked about before, but plan to start Monday.

I leave my writing and go into Jon’s office to talk out the questions. What if we pay for her son to attend the same school our kids attend? What if we do for her what we can’t do for millions of other kids who linger around our neighborhood during the day without supervision or any chance for education?  What if we start this and have to leave suddenly? Can we bear the financial weight of one more child in school at a time when we’re trying to do so many other things that right now? Is this what’s best for her in the long-run? Always so many questions.

We think back to our home church in Atlanta and the message of doing for one what you wish you could do for others. And we feel the weight of privilege on us. Privilege in that our children will probably never know what it’s like to do without education, food, clothing or shelter, while so many others go without. And living here, we see it daily. Right outside my back window, in fact.

The questions linger as we try to sort out what’s best and how to help without creating a dependency that isn’t sustainable in the long-run. So we’ll see what happens in the next few days as we meet with the school about possibilities. I have no idea what to expect, but like everything else here, we take it one day at a time and see where it leads.

Tomorrow I will be blogging over at my friend Lori’s place. She’s a deep well of encouragement so I hope you’ll pop over there and have a look around. 

a slow start

To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement… Anybody can have ideas–the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph. – Mark Twain

Thus far, it’s been a slow start to the year as far as writing goes. Perhaps it’s the fact that my kids have been out of school since December 23rd and I’m living on mere slivers of quiet time and 3 cups of tea (I usually drink one) a day.

Or perhaps it is because the house is drafty and cold and if I’m not near a heater when I’m sitting still I’d just rather go to bed and burrow under my three blankets.

Or maybe it’s the holiday blahs I get this time of year when you want to have family and old friends around to celebrate Christmas and ring in the New Year with, but living thousands of miles away makes that impossible. And skype just doesn’t cut it. Sorry, it doesn’t.

And taxi drivers. What do they have to do with writing? Nothing. But they stress me out and I need to talk about it. There, I feel better already.

Perhaps I could blame those external reasons, especially the taxi drivers, but when the truth comes out, and for me it always does, I have to admit I’ve been scared of writing.

As I sit down and stare at the screen I’ve felt overly self-conscious about words looking back at me. I question my voice– is it really me? I question my motives, my grammar, my creativity. Too many drafts started with no hope of completion. So instead I run from writing and hang out on Facebook and at Downton Abbey. The people there don’t press on me for too much and there’s nothing at stake. It’s a no-pressure relationship.

It’s also wasted time– well, maybe not Downton– the clothes, the snobbery, the beauty of Downton and the Dowager’s one-liners. Sigh.

Anyway. Here, on this little blog, I feel like I should somehow have evolved from my cross-cultural ranting to actually being helpful. And quite honestly, I’m not sure what that looks like here, but it’s the direction I want to go in.

You see, I have an idea of what my passions are and the sort of community I’d love to have in this little corner of the world, but to put them out where everyone can see and to try to build something here means I have to actually do something that I’m not quite ready for yet.

Mysterious enough for you? I know, it’s absurd.

So for now, words are scary. They just are. And I’m sorting out my purpose and passions and hoping I’ll have clarity on this sooner than later which means the blog might be quiet for a while. Or maybe not.

Aren’t you glad you stopped by?

making art

Today I’m linking up with (yes, I know, I never link so this is high tech stuff for me!) Emily P Freeman at www.chattingatthesky.com in conclusion of her series We Will Make Art that happens to coincide with the release of her lovely book A Million Little Ways.

So, what art am I creating these days? Well, I’m still editing that novel that you’ve been wondering about and I’ve been painting some as well. The painting is a hobby that helps me relieve stress because I can actually see a finished product. As a producer, I like to produce things. Finished things that I can hold in my hands. Like this. My Ode to the 80s. Not my usual, but it always makes me smile because I love the colors. And I love it that it was made with potato stamps.

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There are others, but I’m not sure about putting up a gallery online. I paint for two reasons: because I love to see what will happen on a blank canvas and practically because I’ve had a challenging time finding things I like here to hang on my walls. Calendars seem to be popular, but I’m not really into that. So I make my own decor.

And then there’s this book.

I actually can’t believe I’ve spent so long (um, years and years!) on writing one thing. It’s about to drive the Hubs insane. My very industrious and highly productive husband gets things done and I’m sure the thought of hours and hours spent working alone on something that only one other person has ever seen before makes him suspect. Perhaps I’ve been making up this book thing to have an excuse to spend so much alone at my computer. If only.

No, there’s really a book about a girl, Caroline, who has a hard time telling people no and has been in love with someone for years. That is until she meets…

Well, now, you’ll just have to read it when it comes out in 2025 won’t you? Seriously. I’m working so much lately trying to get it ready for beta readers this month. I’ve even considered doing the whole NaNoWriMo thing just to finish this baby. I need accountability and community in this writing life. I also need to finish this one thing so I can develop some other ideas that have been swirling around for, well, years. I LIVE IN NEW DELHI for Pete’s sake. I’ve got some material to work with here.

So that’s my art. Not all of it, of course. Because there are four little creations that I’m watching grow and develop and hopefully I’ve had a hand in shaping. They, of course, are the greatest works of my life. And along with some serious procrastination issues are the reason writing has to wait at times. But they are so worth it. So very worth it.

 

 

 

permission to breathe

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I look around the house at the mess everywhere. With guests staying here and a house-helper who has been out for a week now, I can’t find a corner of this apartment that isn’t a disaster. There’s more to do … Continue reading