To Sasha Obama

Dear Sasha Obama,

We missed you last night, but I know how it is. You had an exam this morning. You can’t be howling at the moon, whooping it up with all the Obama llamas. While the rest of us were standing in abject denial that this was really #ObamaFarewell, nobody gave you a farewell from the books. I put some respek on that, as the kids say.

In case you missed it, your dad waxed poetic about virtues and values but mostly he just made time stand still and we all sighed and cried and hoped that you were somewhere duct-taped to the front gates of the White House gates barring exit.

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Your dad is the 44th president but first in our hearts. I can only imagine what it’s like to know that your pops is the same man who inspires millions of people every day, people who have found his strength of character and level-headed leadership style so refreshing. I also wonder what it’s like to be disciplined by a man who constantly speaks with pregnant pauses, while peering into your soul. How does that even work? “Sasha…you will never…ever…have to resolve… with intrepid hope…such as you will today…to turn the key…INTO the ignition.” End: fantasy of President Obama teaching me to drive.

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P080509PS-0410Before you dip out, please let me commend you for the grace you have shown as a First Kid. I found 4th grade to be an absolute battlefield and 7th grade was a hot mess. That was without the Secret Service monitoring my playdates and Suri’s Burn Book running her mouth about my fetch fashions. Props to you, Sasha. I hope you and Malia will call upon your years playing hide and seek in the Lincoln Bedroom as a fond time. I also hope you’ll totally rock it wherever you land, whether it’s Chicago with your folks or Boston with Malia or elsewhere. I also hope Bo lives forever and that you never have to humor your old man’s jokes about pardoning turkeys ever again.

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Most presently, though, I hope you crushed that exam, girl.

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Blessings,
Kendra

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2016 recap

I like the rhythm of asking myself the same questions over and over again, so here’s the survey I usually do at EOY.

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
The two biggest newnesses were:
a.) Starting a new job in marketing at a private school.
b.) Spending Thanksgiving at Tybee.

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Also memorable this past year were:
Surprising my old man upon his reception of the Bellarmine Award.
Watching Loverpants get sworn in as an American citizen
Watching my brother-in-law get remarried in a beautiful garden wedding.
Taking a couple of weeks to see my parents this summer, just the kids and I.
Reconnecting with my cousin Carrie and sharing in the joy of her pregnancy.

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2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I tried so hard to focus on nutrition and staying injury free. I fully embraced cold-pressed juice as part of my lifestyle and I did pretty well to stay injury free. I ran 2 5ks (one in TN, one in GA). I am still overweight but I can’t let myself get too sad about it.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Congrazzles to Carrie on welcoming Murphy Sloane! #birfmurph
Totally enamored of little Nika Joy, too, the daughter of my friend Kessia Reyne.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
I’m extra grateful to answer no this year.

5. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Time to write, write, write for pleasure.

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Opening my Etsy shop. It has connected me meaningfully to a craft that I enjoy and to a community that uplifts me + other makers.

7. What was your biggest failure?
My book deal fell apart after a year of working and waiting. I see it as a failure of a small publisher that bit off more than it could chew. I suppose I failed to pursue other avenues but I can’t change what I didn’t know.

8. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Earlier in the year, I spent a lot of time at the acupuncturist for a foot injury. Good times.

9. What was the best thing you bought?
I purchased a student membership to the Modern Calligraphy Summit. Game changer.

10. What did you get really excited about?
I thought the DNC was a remarkable showcase of the Democratic party’s strength. Loved speeches by my future BFF Michelle Obama, former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm.
Also was surprised by “Stranger Things” on Netflix.

11. What was the best book you read this year?

Fiction: Peace Like a River, Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice
Non-Fiction: Loitering: New and Collected Essays, Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted

12. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? I have a lot to be happy about
– thinner or fatter? Fatter
– richer or poorer? Paid down some debt, so…woop!

13. What was your favorite TV program?
This is Us
Stranger Things

14. What was your favorite music from this year?
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The Hamilton Mixtape (Edited)
CAN’T STOP THE FEELING! (Original Song From DreamWorks Animation’s ”Trolls”)

15. What were your favorite films of the year?
Really wasn’t able to catch as many films as we would have liked. I know we saw “Race” in the theater.
I think “13th” on Netflix should be required viewing for every American.
Zootopia was important.

16. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
On my 36th birthday, I had a great weekend. My hubby got me some wonderful books and took the kids and me to a new favorite for brunch.

17. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
The depths to which people are capable of furthering evil are staggering, but not as great as they are able to achieve reconciliation. And that’s beautiful to me.

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Halloween 2016

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Exhaling with a sigh

My old man, who ran for judge as a Republican once in one of the most Democratic counties, kept sighing. He and my stepmom took turns. One would sit down in a reading chair in our rented beach cottage over Thanksgiving and sigh. The other would nod and shrug. Then the other would read something or remember the impending doom and exhale with another sigh.

It was comical but then the shtick became something of a default, a modus operandi.

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We are still exhaling with a sigh in this house as we consider January’s inauguration, and the requisite exit of beloved leadership. It is with a sigh we concede that the electoral process has wrought what it has wrought. We sigh because our resignation feels like all we can offer to the universe, for if we allow the anger and the feelings of betrayal to rise too forcefully to the surface, they may consume us.

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Yet here we are in the season of Advent, lighting the candles of expectation. Here we wait in this lobby, not just paging through a tattered back issue of Good Housekeeping, but sitting reverently as we ponder what it must have been to wait for the Christ child’s arrival. We think about the thousands of years when creation ached for a Savior who would set all things right. “And the government will rest on his shoulders.” All the earth groaned with expectation.

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I consider that sighing is not the motion of the expectant, the hopeful, the conquerors. Sighing is the reflex of the resigned.

Christ offers us so much more than a lobby for the lukewarm to wait out a president. He bids us come and rest awhile, but also to serve, to go into all the world and make his name known.

Am I mixing my politics with my priestly priorities? I hope not. I believe in rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to the Lord what is his in kind. But I also believe that one can apply a particular philosophy to a number of life’s endeavors. So I endeavor for my citizenship to be one that, like love, believes in all things, hopes in all things, and, in the way of love, never fails.

May our resignation turn to resolution as the new year offers so much hope.

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