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Health

19 simple therapist insights that instantly transformed people's lives

One piece of advice can change everything.

therapists, therapy advice, relationships

A therapist shares some advice with her clients.

A good therapist has the magical ability to take our messiest problems and break them down in a way that makes sense. They have an incredible way of showing us our struggles from a fresh perspective and quite often, the answers were right in front of our faces the whole time. We just needed their help to nudge us in the right direction.

For some, a therapist's simple, sage wisdom can change their lives with just one poignant realization.

Recently, a Redditor named BuildingBridges23 asked people on the subforum to share the priceless bits of wisdom that changed their lives and over 5,300 people responded. The pithy but powerful observations they shared were helpful to many people and more than one called the thread “free therapy.”


Here are 19 of the best responses to the question: “What's something your therapist said that was life-changing?”

1. You can't fix sick

"You're going to put yourself in an early grave trying to make your mother happy. Your mother is sick, trying to make her happy is like trying to fill a bucket that has no bottom, its not going to happen unless she fixes the bucket. You can't fix it for her." — ModerateDude9


2. Other people's feelings

"I asked him, 'How do you process all of the negative feelings that are projected at you?' and he said "They aren't my feelings.'" — Wirestyle22


3. Coping with death

"'The way your parents died will never be the most interesting thing about you. It's not even the most interesting thing about THEM.' My parents died by suicide together and I was worried that it was going to consume me as an individual. I didnt want their deaths or my grief to become my entire identity." — Crazyofo


4. Being brave

"When I broke down because I was so fed up with being scared and anxious all the time, he said something like. 'You can’t be brave without being scared first.' It always stuck with me that fear, no matter how overwhelming, won’t last forever and I try to see it as a chance for me to prove to myself I can fight back and try to get through this." — AnxiousAxolotyl88


5. Change

"Change happens when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change." ؅— SpicyEmmaa

6. Dealing with mental illness

"Just because the mentally ill person screaming at you lives in your home instead of on the streets doesn't mean their opinion is any more true." — UnorignalUse

7. People are like colanders

"Some people are like a colander. It doesn't matter how much time, love and support you pour into them, it will never fill them up enough to make a difference." — Competitive-Watch188

8. Boundaries

"The only people in your life who will be angry because you established boundaries were the people who benefitted from you not having them in the first place." — Imagine_magic

9. Other people's anxiety

"'Be the mirror, not the sponge.' Don’t absorb other people’s stress and anxiety, show it back to them gently. Changed my life." — CariocaInLA

10. Sensitive people

"That being a 'highly sensitive person' is just how I’m built. It’s not something that’s wrong with me or something that I necessarily have to change. I just have to accept it, to learn my boundaries and needs and live accordingly." — stuttering-mime-ta2


11. For people-pleasers

"'You don’t need to please everyone all of the time. People who love you will not leave you because you disagree with them or do something they don’t like.' She nailed a lot of my behaviours back to the fact my biological dad left when I was 9 months old. I cannot cope with perceived abandonment, and will do everything in my power to keep people happy… because they might leave me." — RhiR2020

12. It's not about you

"'You aren’t that interesting.' I would have panic attacks and paranoia that people were out to get me (PTSD, etc) and would think that people were judging me in grocery stores because my toddler was crying or that my hair was messy. And honestly it boiled down to…nobody cares. We’re all trying to survive and get through the day and what someone looks like or does, we observe and move on." — jac_kayyy

13. Judgement

"We judge ourselves by our intentions, but we judge others by their actions." — Horny_Rapunzel

14. It's simple

"'The answer is simple. That doesn't mean it's easy, but it's simple.' I was doing what I always do in difficult, scary situations that I don't want to deal with head-on; I was overthinking and over-complicating what I needed to do to be happy again. The answer was actually quite simple: I needed to tell my (now ex-husband) that I wanted a divorce." — RovenshereExpress

15. Realize your unhappiness

"At the third session with our couples counselor, my wife and I had a brief ten-minute private session with our therapist. During my session, the therapist said, 'You need to accept the possibility of a divorce. You are trying to do the right thing and be supportive, but you can't do that alone. Your wife is taking advantage of you. You can't see how unhappy you are. That will change within a year after your divorce.' Yup. She was right. My wife and I agreed to divorce during the 4th session. I am finally happy, and love my life." — BlueCollarBeagle

16. Hurt

"Just because you were hurt when you were younger, doesn't mean randoms have the right to hurt you now." — Paeliens

17. See-saw relationship

"A relationship is like a see-saw. If the other person doesn't want to participate, you can keep going, but you'll get really tired." — SendInYourSkeleton

18. Panic

"Not my therapist, but a friend told me hers said this: 'You do not have enough information to panic about that yet.' Whenever I catch myself spiraling about the unknown, I try to remember that." — Bananaphone1549

19. Heart attacks

"It wasn’t my therapist, it was my doctor, but it was life-changing. I had been 300+ pounds all of my adult life and I was in for a physical and he said to me: 'You know, the first symptom of a heart attack is a heart attack.' It was what caused me to change my life at age 54 and lose 110 pounds in 16 months and I became a runner. I have run a race in all 50 states, 26 Halifax marathons and 2 full marathons, Chicago and Boston. That one thing he said to me kicked off my decision for better health! That was 15 years ago." — BlueJasper27

Ileah Parker (left) and Alexis Vandecoevering (right)

True

At 16, Alexis Vandecoevering already knew she wanted to work in the fire department. Having started out as a Junior Firefighter and spending her time on calls as a volunteer with the rest of her family, she’s set herself up for a successful career as either a firefighter or EMT from a young age.

Ileah Parker also leaned into her career interests at an early age. By 16, she had completed an internship with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, learning about Information Technology, Physical Therapy, Engineering, and Human Resources in healthcare, which allowed her to explore potential future pathways. She’s also a member of Eryn PiNK, an empowerment and mentoring program for black girls and young women.

While these commitments might sound like a lot for a teenager, it all comes down to school/life balance. This wouldn’t be possible for Alexis or Ileah without attending Pearson’s Connections Academy, a tuition-free online public school available in 31 states across the U.S., that not only helps students get ready for college but dive straight into college coursework and get a head start on career training as well.

“Connections Academy allowed me extensive flexibility, encouraged growth in all aspects of my life, whether academic, interpersonal, or financial, and let me explore options for my future career, schooling, and extracurricular endeavors,” said Ileah.

A recent survey by Connections Academy of over 1,000 students in grades 8-12 and over 1,000 parents or guardians across the U.S., highlights the importance of school/life balance when it comes to leading a fulfilling and successful life. The results show that students’ perception of their school/life balance has a significant impact on their time to consider career paths, with 76% of those with excellent or good school/life balance indicating they know what career path they are most interested in pursuing versus only 62% of those who have a fair to very poor school/life balance.

Additionally, students who report having a good or excellent school/life balance are more likely than their peers to report having a grade point average in the A-range (57% vs 35% of students with fair to very poor balance).

At Connections Academy, teens get guidance navigating post-secondary pathways, putting them in the best possible position for college and their careers. Connections Academy’s College and Career Readiness offering for middle and high school students connects them with employers, internships and clubs in Healthcare, IT, and Business.


“At Connections Academy, we are big proponents of encouraging students to think outside of the curriculum” added Dr. Lorna Bryant, Senior Director of Career Solutions in Pearson’s Virtual Learning division. “While academics are still very important, bringing in more career and college exposure opportunities to students during middle and high school can absolutely contribute to a more well-rounded school/life balance and help jumpstart that career search process.”

High school students can lean into career readiness curriculum by taking courses that meet their required high school credits, while also working toward micro-credentials through Coursera, and getting college credit applicable toward 150 bachelor’s degree programs in the U.S.

Alexis Vandecoevering in her firefighter uniform

Alexis, a Class of 2024 graduate, and Ileah, set to start her senior year with Connections Academy, are on track to land careers they’re passionate about, which is a key driver behind career decisions amongst students today.

Of the students surveyed who know what career field they want to pursue, passion and genuine interest is the most commonly given reasoning for both male and female students (54% and 66%, respectively).

Parents can support their kids with proper school/life balance by sharing helpful resources relating to their career interests. According to the survey, 48% of students want their parents to help them find jobs and 43% want their parents to share resources like reading materials relating to their chosen field.

While teens today have more challenges than ever to navigate, including an ever-changing job market, maintaining school/life balance and being given opportunities to explore career paths at an early age are sure to help them succeed.

Learn more about Connections Academy’s expanded College and Career Readiness offering here.

Science

A juice company dumped orange peels in a national park. Here's what it looks like now.

12,000 tons of food waste and 21 years later, this forest looks totally different.


In 1997, ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs approached an orange juice company in Costa Rica with an off-the-wall idea.

In exchange for donating a portion of unspoiled, forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste — a nature preserve in the country's northwest — the park would allow the company to dump its discarded orange peels and pulp, free of charge, in a heavily grazed, largely deforested area nearby.

One year later, one thousand trucks poured into the national park, offloading over 12,000 metric tons of sticky, mealy, orange compost onto the worn-out plot.



The site was left untouched and largely unexamined for over a decade. A sign was placed to ensure future researchers could locate and study it.

16 years later, Janzen dispatched graduate student Timothy Treuer to look for the site where the food waste was dumped.

Treuer initially set out to locate the large placard that marked the plot — and failed.

The first deposit of orange peels in 1996.

Photo by Dan Janzen.

"It's a huge sign, bright yellow lettering. We should have been able to see it," Treuer says. After wandering around for half an hour with no luck, he consulted Janzen, who gave him more detailed instructions on how to find the plot.

When he returned a week later and confirmed he was in the right place, Treuer was floored. Compared to the adjacent barren former pastureland, the site of the food waste deposit was "like night and day."

The site of the orange peel deposit (L) and adjacent pastureland (R).

Photo by Leland Werden.

"It was just hard to believe that the only difference between the two areas was a bunch of orange peels. They look like completely different ecosystems," he explains.

The area was so thick with vegetation he still could not find the sign.

Treuer and a team of researchers from Princeton University studied the site over the course of the following three years.

The results, published in the journal "Restoration Ecology," highlight just how completely the discarded fruit parts assisted the area's turnaround.

The ecologists measured various qualities of the site against an area of former pastureland immediately across the access road used to dump the orange peels two decades prior. Compared to the adjacent plot, which was dominated by a single species of tree, the site of the orange peel deposit featured two dozen species of vegetation, most thriving.

Lab technician Erik Schilling explores the newly overgrown orange peel plot.

Photo by Tim Treuer.

In addition to greater biodiversity, richer soil, and a better-developed canopy, researchers discovered a tayra (a dog-sized weasel) and a giant fig tree three feet in diameter, on the plot.

"You could have had 20 people climbing in that tree at once and it would have supported the weight no problem," says Jon Choi, co-author of the paper, who conducted much of the soil analysis. "That thing was massive."

Recent evidence suggests that secondary tropical forests — those that grow after the original inhabitants are torn down — are essential to helping slow climate change.

In a 2016 study published in Nature, researchers found that such forests absorb and store atmospheric carbon at roughly 11 times the rate of old-growth forests.

Treuer believes better management of discarded produce — like orange peels — could be key to helping these forests regrow.

In many parts of the world, rates of deforestation are increasing dramatically, sapping local soil of much-needed nutrients and, with them, the ability of ecosystems to restore themselves.

Meanwhile, much of the world is awash in nutrient-rich food waste. In the United States, up to half of all produce in the United States is discarded. Most currently ends up in landfills.

The site after a deposit of orange peels in 1998.

Photo by Dan Janzen.

"We don't want companies to go out there will-nilly just dumping their waste all over the place, but if it's scientifically driven and restorationists are involved in addition to companies, this is something I think has really high potential," Treuer says.

The next step, he believes, is to examine whether other ecosystems — dry forests, cloud forests, tropical savannas — react the same way to similar deposits.

Two years after his initial survey, Treuer returned to once again try to locate the sign marking the site.

Since his first scouting mission in 2013, Treuer had visited the plot more than 15 times. Choi had visited more than 50. Neither had spotted the original sign.

In 2015, when Treuer, with the help of the paper's senior author, David Wilcove, and Princeton Professor Rob Pringle, finally found it under a thicket of vines, the scope of the area's transformation became truly clear.

The sign after clearing away the vines.

Photo by Tim Treuer.

"It's a big honking sign," Choi emphasizes.

19 years of waiting with crossed fingers had buried it, thanks to two scientists, a flash of inspiration, and the rind of an unassuming fruit.


This article originally appeared on 08.23.17

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Internet

Video shows the ridiculousness of the English language validating people everywhere

"Why does know, knit, knight, knife, all have Ks when we can't pronounce the K" What's it doing in there?"

Amusing video shows ridiculousness of the English language

English is hard. It's so hard that even native English speakers have no idea why some of the rules exist which makes it even harder to explain to people learning English as a second language. Words that come to mind as confusing yet accepted as a rule are there, their, and they're. They all sound the same but are spelled differently with completely different meanings.

The list of words that sound similar that have different spellings or meanings could stretch a metaphorical mile. It's such a point of contention for English speakers that it's not uncommon for them to rage post about it on social media. A man that goes by the name King Tut on Instagram compiles some of these frustrated posts and reads them leading to not only his own confusion but the confusion of others.

People just want English to make sense but the video he shared proves that no matter how much we complain, English will always be a little weird.


The creator opens the video reading the question, "why is naked pronounced naked but baked is not pronounced baked?" And if you speak English as your first language, you read that correctly without even trying and are likely confused on why it makes sense. Welcome to the club. It makes complete sense while simultaneously making no sense at all.

Yacht is a word filled with letters that don't make the sounds we are taught that they make, which the man highlights by continually pronouncing the word the way it looks "ya-ca-tah" instead of "yawt." People in the comments were quick to jump in with their own confessions and confusion.



"I’ve been confused but this confirms that it’s not my fault," someone writes.

"English is that person that does whatever the hell it wants to do," another says.

"Cause why is Meme pronounced Meme and not Me Me," a commenter asks.

"Why does Know, Knit, Knight, Knife, all have Ks when we can’t pronounce the K? What it doing in there," one person wants to know.

"I got points off my assignment for grammar because i said minute as in amount and my teacher read minute as in time," someone else shares.

Whoever invented English, there are some people on the internet who would like to have a conversation with you. They have questions. A lot of questions.

Family

Mom explains the common Boomer parenting style that still affects many adults today

Many are relieved to finally have a term for this experience.

“What they want is dishonest harmony rather than honest conflict.”

There are certainly many things the Boomer parents generally did right when raising their kids. Teaching them the importance of manners and respect. That actions do, in fact, have consequences. That a little manners go a long way…all of these things are truly good values to instill in kids.

But—and we are speaking in broad strokes here—being able to openly discuss difficult feelings was not one of the skills passed down by this generation. And many Gen X and millennial kids can sadly attest to this.

This is why the term “dishonest harmony” is giving many folks of this age group some relief. They finally have a term to describe the lack of emotional validation they needed throughout childhood for the sake of saving face.


In a video posted to TikTok, a woman named Angela Baker begins by saying, “Fellow Gen X and millennials, let's talk about our parents and their need for dishonest harmony.”

Barker, who thankfully did not experience this phenomenon growing up, but says her husband “certainly” did, shared that when she’s tried to discuss this topic, the typical response she’d get from Boomers would be to “Stop talking about it. We don't need to hear about it. Move on. Be quiet.”

And it’s this attitude that’s at the core of dishonest harmony.

“What that’s showing is their lack of ability to handle the distress that they feel when we talk openly about uncomfortable things,” she says. “What they want is dishonest harmony rather than honest conflict.”



“Keep quiet about these hard issues. Suppress your pain, suppress your trauma. Definitely don't talk openly about it so that you can learn to heal and break the cycle,” she continues. “What matters most is that we have the appearance of harmony, even if there's nothing harmonious under the surface.”

Barker concludes by theorizing that it was this need to promote a certain facade that created most of the toxic parenting choices of that time period.

“The desire of boomer parents to have this perception that everything was sweet and hunky dory, rather than prioritizing the needs of their kids, is what drove a lot of the toxic parenting we experienced.”

Barker’s video made others feel so seen, as clearly indicated by the comments.

“How did I not hear about dishonest harmony until now? This describes my family dynamic to a T. And if you disrespect that illusion, you are automatically labeled as the problem. It’s frustrating,” one person wrote.

“THANK YOU SO MUCH! I'm a 49 yo biker sitting in my bedroom crying right now. You just put a name to my darkness!” added another

Many shared how they were refusing to repeat the cycle.

One wrote, “This is EXACTLY my family dynamic. I’m the problem because I won’t remain quiet. Not anymore. Not again.”

“I love when my kids tell me what I did wrong. It gives me a chance to acknowledge and apologize. Everyone wants to be heard,” said another.

Of course, no parenting style is perfect. And all parents are working with the current ideals of the time, their own inner programming and their inherent need to course correct child raising problems of the previous generation. Gen Alpha parents will probably cringe at certain parenting styles currently considered in vogue. It’s all part of the process.

But hopefully one thing we have learned as a collective is that true change happens when we summon the courage to have difficult conversations.

@kellyvellly/TikTok

Talk about a win-win-win for everyone involved.

Default parents need a break. Back-up parents need opportunities to bond with kids. Kids need fun weekend activities. Meeting all these separate needs might seem impossible, but one mom has shared how she and her husband make it happen.

In a video posted to her TikTok, Kelly Irene explains how implementing “Dadurdays” (cute name, right?) were a game changer. In fact, they’ve “slowly become one of the most anticipated days of the week.”

Here’s what a typical Dadurday looks like:


“Basically every Saturday ... we do this where my husband will take our toddler, and they will just go off on these little adventures together. I am not invited. This is just daddy and daughter’s special time, and they go and they have the time of their lives. They might go to the beach. or they might go to a waterfall or go on a hike. Or they might just go swimming in town, like whatever. They do whatever they want. I don't even ask. None of my business. They are going off and having the time of their lives,” Kelly says.

She goes on to say that both her husband and daughter “live for it,” since it makes up for lost time during the work week.

“When Saturday rolls around, it's his time to shine.”



And when Dadurday is complete, their daughter is thoroughly wiped and ready for a long nap, making for a very peaceful Saturday night.

“It's just a great experience for everyone. All around. Couldn't recommend it enough. And I do recognize we only have one child. So I'm sure as our family expands, Dadurday is probably going to look a little different. It's going to evolve!” Kelly concludes.

Kelly’s family is apparently not the only one to implement this type of strategy. Soon other parents shared their own spins on Dadurdays.

“We call it Public Transportation Day because both my son and husband love the bus,” one person wrote. “They go wherever they can go on the bus or the subway and come back with stories of adventure.”

“We call it Saturdaddy,” added another.

Several dads chimed in to share how much the value getting to have Dadurdays.

“Saturdays are the day my wife sleeps in, I get up with the baby and we go to the hardware store, run errands and get doughnuts! Come home mid-morning when mom’s rested!” one commented.

Another said: “Girl dad here.. I’m totally doing this. Love it.”

And of course, just because the fun name is new, the concept has been around for a minute.

“When I was a toddler my dad took me to zoo, McDonald’s, and target for a my little pony every Friday. I’m 22 now and this was my favorite thing that I did with my dad to this day!” recalled one viewer.

As for what Kelly does during Dadurdays, she said in a follow-up video that it always changes.


@kellyvellly Replying to @Sandy how im spending #dadurday ♬ original sound - Kelly Irene


“Some days I just rot, and I don't do anything productive. I just lay around. If that's what I need — to be a potato for a day — I'll do that. But other days like today ... I'm just doing a bunch of laundry and getting packed because we leave for California in a couple days. My very best friend is getting married, so I'm just getting ready for that. It's a lot easier to do that when I'm all by myself.”

But one thing remains the same: “Dadurday is just as much for me as it is for dad.”

Identity

Formerly enslaved man's response to his 'master' wanting him back is a literary masterpiece

"I would rather stay here and starve — and die, if it come to that — than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters."

A photo of Jordan Anderson.

In 1825, at the approximate age of 8, Jordan Anderson (sometimes spelled "Jordon") was sold into slavery and would live as a servant of the Anderson family for 39 years. In 1864, the Union Army camped out on the Anderson plantation and he and his wife, Amanda, were liberated. The couple eventually made it safely to Dayton, Ohio, where, in July 1865, Jordan received a letter from his former owner, Colonel P.H. Anderson. The letter kindly asked Jordan to return to work on the plantation because it had fallen into disarray during the war.

On Aug. 7, 1865, Jordan dictated his response through his new boss, Valentine Winters, and it was published in the Cincinnati Commercial. The letter, entitled "Letter from a Freedman to His Old Master," was not only hilarious, but it showed compassion, defiance, and dignity. That year, the letter would be republished in theNew York Daily Tribune and Lydia Marie Child's "The Freedman's Book."

The letter mentions a "Miss Mary" (Col. Anderson's Wife), "Martha" (Col. Anderson's daughter), Henry (most likely Col. Anderson's son), and George Carter (a local carpenter).

Dayton, Ohio,
August 7, 1865
To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee



Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jordon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin's to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.

I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy, — the folks call her Mrs. Anderson, — and the children — Milly, Jane, and Grundy — go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, "Them colored people were slaves" down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.

As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor's visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams's Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.

In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve — and die, if it come to that — than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.

Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.

From your old servant,
Jordon Anderson

Learn more about Jordan Anderson here.


This article originally appeared on 11.03.17.