My first memories as a child were living in a little country home in rural Leoma, TN. I recall loving a particular pair of denim overalls and one day I hopped off the tailgate of my dad's Chevy truck, and caught my favorite overalls on the corner, ripping them beyond repair. I cried. It was a deep cry from my gut, as though I had lost something so close to me that I would never come out of my grief. It's hard to explain to my older and younger roots, that something that seems like such a big deal today may not be tomorrow when in the moment, we feel so ruined. How do you tell them with such confidence that they will get over it when in truth, you just don't know. Such knowledge we bestow upon our little roots, and with such conviction. That day I distinctly recall my mom picking me up and dusting me off while giving me all the wisdom she could muster about how it was only clothing and could be replaced. I was such a tomboy, it was bound to happen sometime. The home I grew up in was always very tidy, to say the least. I think most everyone who has ever been to visit my parent's home or for an overnight stay would agree that it's almost hard to breathe properly for fear of messing things up. My mom still to this day is an immaculate housekeeper and she passed that gene down to me as well. Over the years I have gone from being that same immaculate housekeeper to letting go a bit and learning that beds don't always have to be made and toys can be picked up when the children figure out that they are losing things and I'm not necessarily the maid 24/7. Is letting go hard? You're goddamn right it is. It's miserable at times. Is this post just about my endeavor to become a terrible housekeeper? Of course not. What it is about is the fact that as children we look at our immediate influences and we are molded by these people and places. It shapes who we are and bends our path left or right, up or drastically down. We carry on in our teens and twenties and we seem to be plugging along like good little roots, but what happens when you realize that all of the people that you held in such high regard are merely human? Your mother, the one you thought was perfection with a terrible attitude 5-7 days out of the month, is human. The father that you looked at and literally thought he was the most handsome, strong, and sophisticated man on the planet was broken inside and just waiting to fall apart, is a damaged human. The teachers you loved so much and put on that wonderful face of strength and power were struggling to make ends meet on a far too minimal a wage, are strong but merely human. The youth pastor at church that was teaching you the meaning of some of the worlds most deplorable words like "wetback" and "nigger" which until then you had never heard before, was a despicable racist human hiding in "the house of the Lord". Over time I have come to realize that our opinions as children are so altered by the sometimes feeble attempt to shelter us from the real world. As we become adults, those shelters fall away, and like a chisel to ice, it chips away at what we once thought was reality and leaves us feeling empty and confused. For me, finding my way to my true self has been an up hill battle. There have always been little pieces of me that shine through, but just below the surface are the pieces of me that I know are there that until now, I have left dormant. The ability to let go and start to actually live in the moment, free of concern for judgment or persecution is liberating. I spoke to an old friend of mine a couple of months ago and we were talking about my hair and dreadlocks. She said, "you have always loved dreadlocks". She was right! I had always been fascinated by the natural appearance and the journey of patience that it takes to cultivate a head full of locks, but I always felt as though others were in charge of my decisions. Would employers frown on me at interviews? What about my children? Would I embarrass them with my hair, my language, my writing, my clothing, my complete inability and lack of desire to conform? I think for me, what is important is to show them that what they see right now is truth. When they grow up and look back on their childhood, they will see that they feel the exact same way about me now as they did then because there are absolutely no surprises. I am sometimes a mess. I am human, a truly free thinking freely feeling human being. I laugh, cry, get pissed, calm myself, I drink beer sometimes, I talk to my oldest root about controversial topics and share with her my life stories, like the time I dropped a joint in the yard in the middle of the night and giggled uncontrollably while I searched for it. I teach them to be responsible with money but not lean on it like it's all that matters in life, travel and see things, have an open mind and accept others with kindness unless they hurt you, and then phone a friend for backup. Hug people often, and it doesn't matter if you know them well enough. They will feel your energy and they will be changed by your heart. Work your ass off at something you are passionate about. Am I a hard worker? Hell yes! For years I have always thought that I had a terrible work ethic, but now I see that it isn't that at all. I never knew my true passions in life until adulthood, and I discourage people from staying in a position that they feel unhappy with. Life is meant to be lived, not survived. I try every day to let go of my childhood and teenage preconceived notions about what is true and what is fiction and to exist in my own personal truth, teaching my roots that they will thrive much better in their truth as well, and they will sooner find their tribe in life if they put their whole truth first. For now and for always I'm going to let my freak flag fly, wear my favorite t-shirts, forget about the crap, remember all of the beautiful shining moments from both my childhood and the moments to come, and above all else, live, love, learn and grow roots.