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Djibouti Jones Published Essays, 2016

I published more than 50 essays in 2016.

am writing

When I write that I feel shocked. What?! 50?! That’s a lot of words, some of them were longform, some super short, and that’s not counting blog posts but it does explain why the blog has slowed down. If only writing paid more than pennies by the hour. *sigh*

Here are some of the highlights:

Published in 2016

Runners World

Running the World, Djibouti


Outpost Magazine

Christmas in the Devil’s Lair


Brain Child

I Know I Should Boast about Battle Scars

Traveler, Writer, or Mother?

Can Kids Make Us Happy?

How to Wake Up a Teenager in 16 Easy Steps

Things No One Told Me About Grief



Beirut Has a Trash Problem

Who Was Hawa Tako?

Around the World in Toilets

Letter from Bankoulé

Dreams of Djiboutian Glory

Tea Time at the TB Clinic


A Life Overseas

How Much Awesomeness Can We Really Handle?

Why Is It Always About Money?

White Savior Barbie Nails It

8 Ways for Expats Who Stay to Stay Well



Being an American Mom, Raising Kids in Djibouti

To the Mom Who Just Had Twins: You Can Do This

People Say We Fight A Lot

22 Ways Teenagers are Basically Super-Sized Toddlers


Playing Like a Girl

Quick link: What I told my daughter when she was shamed for ‘playing like a girl.’

My daughter and her two friends emerged from their first night of soccer practice tired, sweaty, and content. They played hard. They had fun. They giggled and ran and kicked the ball. Or, for some of them, they tried to kick the ball.

These three are the only girls on the team — and that team is the only one available to kids at their school, or the entire country, for that matter. (We live in Djibouti, a small country situated in the Horn of Africa, where organized sports for school kids are less common.) When I signed them all up, the coach was excited to see three girls. After all, last year there had only been one: my daughter. Even the school director was happy to see them — he remembered my daughter by name and told stories of how impressed he’d been by her presence among the boys last year.

“The boys think we play like girls,” my daughter said in the car on the drive home.

Click here to read the rest: What I told my daughter when she was shamed for ‘playing like a girl.’



Talking About Race with Teens

Quick link: Lessons about Tolerance from the only white kid on this high school step team

I had the enormous privilege of interviewing my nephew via Skype a few months ago to talk about his step competition team, race, and privilege. I had a lot to learn and this teen spoke articulately and humbly about the issues he and his generation face and what they can and are doing about it. Of course I’m slightly biased, but I think he’s a great kid and I absolutely love the vision and community of his HYPE team and leader, William Joyner.

My sister’s family has been folded into this community in real, authentic, and racially-reconciling ways and the story of these kids doing what they love, together, is so important and ever more relevant.

While I wouldn’t have chosen the word “Tolerance” to be in this title, I’m really happy with how this piece has been received by the HYPE community. Tolerance would imply that these young men sort of reluctantly put up with each other. That is not the case at all, these guys love each other and support each other. Some of them have walked through fire together and with their families and their relationships move far deeper than mere tolerance. But…such goes editing. Look beyond that and enjoy a piece of good news from the generation that will change our nation for the better.

Check out the HYPE Facebook page to read what they are saying about the interview and to see some photos and some videos of these talented kids.

White Chocolate and RaceAt a high school assembly in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, the HYPE step crew prepares to perform. They’ve performed for packed crowds before — on America’s Got Talent, at Walt Disney World, and in dozens of competitions. But today’s performance is especially nerve-wracking for one member.

The student body settles in to watch. They are 96% non-white and all eyes seem to be glued to the only white team member. Performing is always a rush, but today, in front of his peers, my nephew Emmaus doesn’t want to miss a single beat.

The dance begins. The boys stomp and clap and tumble and flip through the air in an intense and relentless rhythm. Within seconds, the students are on their feet, cheering. They focus on Emmaus and at the end of the performance — when the team points him out and calls him their nickname, “White Chocolate” — the students go nuts shouting and clapping for their classmate…


Click here to read the rest: Lessons about Tolerance from the only white kid on this high school step team


Raising Kids in Djibouti

Quick link: What It’s Like to Be An American Mom Raising Kids in Djibouti, Africa

This one is up at Babble.

I almost didn’t share this. I actually didn’t, for about a week. I’m not a fan of certain things in the piece that were edited. But. My name is still on it, I guess it is good to get readers’ eyes on a piece. So, I’ll share it.


(I can’t be the only writer who feels this way after a piece comes out…any thoughts? Maybe a topic for a future blog post, clearly I need some fresh ideas!)

I have been a parent now for 15 years. But for 13 of those years, I have lived thousands of miles away from my hometown in the American Midwest, in what’s known as the Horn of Africa (Somalia and Djibouti). As a result, most of my actual parenting experiences come from raising kids here in Africa, which has broadened my cultural awareness, to say the least. But I do still have loads of American friends, and go back frequently to visit myself, so it’s safe to say I’m still very much clued in to what U.S. parents are experiencing.

Is parenting the same on both sides of the world? Sure, when it comes to the foundations of love, security, and provision. But as for the day-to-day stuff? Nope.

Here are just a few of the major differences I’ve learned while raising my kids Djibouti…

Click here to read the rest of What It’s Like to Be An American Mom Raising Kids in Djibouti, Africa

Mom-Envy, Comparison, and Dresses and Underwear

Quick link: What I learned about Myself When I Saw Another Mother With her Dress Tucked Into Her Underwear

Hint: It wasn’t about endlessly long essay titles. This title was not mine but oh well. If you made it through all 17 words, you just might make it through the short essay. Its about envy and me being all high-schooly petty and ridiculous and trying to be better than that.

When THAT mom has her dress tucked into her underwear

I have a nemesis. She doesn’t know this about our relationship (mainly because we don’t have a relationship), but nevertheless, there it is.

We recognize each other and say, “Hi,” if we pass each other in the grocery store or while out walking. Our kids are at school together and have been for years.

Another reason she doesn’t know she is my nemesis is that I’m pretty sure the feeling is completely one-sided, all stemming from me and my terrible jealousy.

To read the rest, go here: What I learned about Myself When I Saw Another Mother With her Dress Tucked Into Her Underwear

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