In Memoriam to the Deceased Members of the Class of 1988

By Liane E. Stone, ‘88

We were a garden of blossoming, fragrant flowers

Planted in colorful clusters across the hills and valleys of Northfield Mount Hermon.

Bursting with adolescent angst and pubescent passion,

We began this journey…together.

Endless days filled with breathtaking views of picturesque mountains draped in blankets of gold, orange, red, and green hues.

Together, we took that first step toward global citizenship,

All while coming from every nook and cranny of this vastly diverse landscape called earth.

Though armed with different toolboxes gleaned from myriad upbringings, experiences, and ideas

We were open to learning about the true essence of each individual life we encountered upon these hallowed hills of Northfield Mount Hermon.

Together, we sadly dined on barely tolerable cuisine that left us running to the snack bar in search of more palatable sustenance,

Together, we cheered on fellow hogger athletes who sometimes won, and sometimes not,

But that never caused anyone to question our loyalty nor did it weaken our enthusiasm.

Together, we suffered through weekly all school meetings meant to unite and inform us,

Yet sometimes strangely felt like corralling us into sheep-like submission.

Together, we pulled all-nighters, gulping down Jolt sodas and popping No-Doze like caffeinated skittles,

Writing papers on Brothers typewriters because desktop word processors were just becoming an accessible thing during our day.

We walked the paths of Northfield and Mount Hermon, together.

Late nights lying in the cool green grass counting stars, making plans, and crafting dreams that felt so real we could touch them.

Campus-wide snowball fights, races for school-baked pies, and “dressing up” to attend formal occasions, the NMH-way.

Together we gathered in prayer as we readied ourselves to walk across that makeshift stage built on the football field,

While swallowing the melancholy tears of goodbye to this journey, and hello to the next.

We lived so much, laughed so much, fussed so much, planned so much, and played so much together that we never imagined a time when we would no longer be we, us, as a whole.

But one day, our Creator looked lovingly across this garden of blossoming, fragrant flowers planted in colorful clusters,

And knew that despite the array of incomprehensible beauty that we possessed,

Some were weakening, some were suffering, their life forces slowly ebbing away.

It was then that He lovingly reached His hand down to our garden,

Plucked nine of our most beautiful flowers,

And took them to His greenhouse filled with love, joy, peace, and healing for their souls and their spirits.

It was there, in His greenhouse, that they were separated from those crumbling shells and placed in the master’s garden

Where they will no longer suffer, wilt, nor weaken from the harsh elements in this world.

Though our garden is smaller, and our clusters are missing blossoms,

And the link that connected us as we’ve gone on this journey together is forever broken,

We have assurance in knowing that there will always be a part of those nine blossoms in our hearts,

In the air, in the soil, in the head, heart, and hand, and in the soul of Northfield Mount Hermon.

Don’t Take My “No” Personally

We are living in a time when it is virtually impossible to disconnect from anything. With the advent of high-powered, high-tech handheld devices, we are all LITERALLY a swipe or thumbprint away from anyone and everyone else who’s “connected”. It’s virtually impossible to eat, sleep, or have private time (a.k.a. bathroom) without feeling accosted by the endless array of beeps, tweets, fweeps, honks, and the incredibly obnoxious, “You have a text message!” notifications. We feel so obligated to remain connected (kind of like being in “the matrix”) that when we realize we’ve missed “a call, a tweet, a text, or a notification” of any kind, that somehow we’ve failed as modern day human beings. We also cannot forget the flood of invitations that come our way via email, social media, and text messages requesting our attendance or financial support towards a celebration, a cause, or a human need. These constant bombardments and demands for our time and attention are exhausting and can create high levels of anxiety for even the most stoic of individuals. And for people like me, who suffer from anxiety disorders, it can almost become debilitating.

Because I am sensitive and a creative soul, I’ve often become overwhelmed by these constant demands. And yes, yes it’s very easy to say, “well just put the phone down”, or “shut it off”, or my personal favorite, “aren’t you being a little dramatic?” Well, that’s easier said than done in a world where you almost need to be available for opportunities, emergencies, and frankly, just to be informed whether your life or the lives of people you love are in danger. It’s almost as if we are doomed to an existence of over-access all the time.

But recently, I’ve reached an impasse. I’ve realized I don’t want to be accessible all the time anymore. I don’t want to always be “connected” or “available”. I’m learning to say no to over-access and no to constant demands. Social media almost demands a “yes” to everything that comes our way, but I say”no”. “No” to immediately answering every call, text message, tweet, comment, message, or post. I say “no” to feeling obligated to every invitation, request for financial support, and/or saving everyone needs saving. I can’t save the world. That was a difficult conclusion to come to and accept. I can’t fix everyone. Hell, most times it’s a monumental effort to attempt to “fix” me. But saying “no” doesn’t make me a bad person. Saying “no”, in an effort to preserve my peace, my sanity, and my functionality, is not only fine, but a necessary step towards self-care giving me room to grow and flourish.

People should try to understand, (though many won’t), that my “no” isn’t personal…at least not towards you. Please try to understand (although I’ll be just fine if you don’t because that’s your burden to bear, not mine) that my “no” might mean that I’m tired (mentally, emotionally and/or physically), that I already have too much on my plate and realistically cannot fit ANYMORE.  Or that perhaps what you’re demands are are not necessarily of interest to me or related to what I believe my purpose is on this earth (sorry to be so deep but it’s real and it’s relevant to me). I promise. So please, don’t take my “no” personally, because personally, I’m just trying to take care of me.

Peace and blessings to you!

I Don’t Do Petty (Updated)

I see a lot of folks who try to “get back” at the people who’ve hurt them by using social media. They put folks “on blast”, reveal all of their secrets (which is super dirty if you’ve been close friends and shared things you’ve never, ever, EVER shared with anyone else on the planet), and basically “trash” them as far and as wide as possible. Social Media reaches so many people that those types of posts go viral before you know it and that can ruin and sometimes end lives. So, here’s my stance on this behavior…

“I don’t “do” petty. I don’t “do” revenge. I don’t “do” putting folks on blast. I don’t “do” telling all the secrets you’ve shared with me, even though in valley of my hurt, I’ve considered it. Seriously considered it. But I’ve learned that one betrayal shouldn’t be followed by another. I’ve learned that the callous, insensitive, and sometimes cruel actions of people who’ve claimed to love me and broke me down so low I became physically ill once it was revealed to me, does not define me or my destiny. So, what I will do is pray for you. I will wish you well. I will make sure that I don’t play a role in your downfall or demise. Life will take care of that. However I will cut you out of my life and never look back no matter much you’ve meant to me. I love too purely to waste it on anyone who uses, manipulates, and/or mistreats me. And once you’ve been put in that box, you’ll never get back into my heart.” @liane_elizabeth

What Love Does

Love affirms. Love uplifts. Love corrects gently so as not to crush the heart and spirit. Love won’t cause you to question your worth. Love won’t make you feel invisible or constantly overlooked. Love sees you, really sees you and celebrates the uniqueness of YOU. Love protects. Love watches out for. Love won’t judge and condemn you. Love won’t deny you. Love gives hope. Love increases your joy and peace. Love bears burdens. Love upholds. Love sees the best even when you’re shown the absolute worst. Love changes you, and will cause you to want to change for the better. Love forgives, but also knows when to let go. Love tells the truth despite the pain rather than lie to keep up a charade. Love, real love, was demonstrated on the Cross by Jesus for us. That is the love that resides in His heart for us every single moment of every single day and is demonstrated in all that He’s done and does for us. Do you hold that kind of love in YOUR heart?

‪Stop Existing and Start LIVING! ‬

So much wasted time on pointless things. Time lost with loved ones for “the grind”? To prove something to the world? To feel worthy? Worthy of what? Spreading ourselves so thin, we have nothing left to give to those we’ve pledged to give our all to? Or worse, staying in bad or toxic situations (jobs, relationships, organizations) just to be able to say we “stuck it out”. Day in and day out, doing what we’re told to do or feel obligated to do, even if it’s to our detriment. Then in a flash, people are gone. Gone from this life. Gone with purpose unfulfilled and dreams unrealized. Gone with passion and inspiration snuffed our, never to be shared. Enough! Stop existing and start LIVING! If it hurts you all the time, it’s not for you! If you’re dying in it, it’s not for you! If you’re scared, that’s okay! Courage isn’t the absence of fear! It’s the ability to push through in spite of that fear. You are more than your failures and shortcomings! You are more than what people have told you you are! You are better than broken! You are the uniquely gifted masterpiece God has created you to be! Don’t let the limited thoughts, views, and existences of others limit you! Soar like the eagle that you are!

Poetry Reading – “Fare Thee Well” by Liane Elizabeth

Greetings beloveds!

As I struggle to emerge from my cocoon and become ALL that God has created and destined me to become, I’m grateful for the stops along the way. This journey to becoming myself is, at times frustrating, yet all the while intriguing and exhilarating!

Today, I found the recording of my first public poetry reading since my college days. I wrote this piece during my first experience with the State Theater of New Jersey’s Poetry Collective under the incomparable poet/artist/teacher, Glenis Redmond. The recording highlights all of the poets who shared so if you have about 90 minutes available, I encourage you to listen and take that magic carpet ride to Poetry heaven! My reading occurs from 35:35 – 43:30. I am exceptionally proud of this piece because it honors the love/relationship I had with my Uncle Bill, but even more so because it marks the beginning of my emergence as the poet I’ve always wanted to be! Enjoy and thank you for sharing with me!

www.youtube.com/watch