Being Mimi

When Saleem was about four or five years old I can remember, people always asking, “do you want any more kids” or “when are you having another one?”  My response was always the same, “if God wants me to have some, he better send me a man with some because I’m not having anymore!”  It was a joke to me until Saleem was about ten or eleven and I decided that I really wanted to have another child.  Around that time I’d met my love.  Although he already had five, we thought we’d try for one more or maybe two since he was a twin and twins were known to run in his family.  Either way, we would be happy with what ever God decided to bless us with.

Unfortunately, we were not prepared for the news we’d receive a few months later.  Turns out, I had uterine fibroids and my doctors doubted that I’d ever be able to have another child.  Under my doctors’ care, I decided to put off having surgery in order to try to get pregnant one more time.  After about eight months, I had not gotten pregnant but my fibroids had grown so large they were pressing on other vital organs.  My doctor was afraid my kidneys would be dangerously affected.  When tests revealed just how much damage my fibroids were doing to my body, my doctor gave me two weeks to get things in order so that he could perform my hysterectomy.

The day I left my doctor’s office was one of the saddest days.  Not only was I faced with not being able to have another child but I struggled with having to have such a major surgery at thirty-two years old.  Needless to say, the days leading up to the surgery were some of the most difficult.  I didn’t want my parents or Saleem to worry about me so I put on a brave face, said the most positive things when anyone asked how I was doing and tried not to cry.

The surgery went well.  I recovered with good friends, family and my love taking care of me.  I returned to work and life moved on.  At the time, only three of my love’s children lived in the area and we were able to see them regularly.  So between his three and Saleem, we were often pretty busy having family movie nights, vacationing in some small town in Florida none of us had ever heard of and hanging out with the kids at one of their extracurricular events.

Time seems to have flown by.  The picture above is of me and who I refer to as “The Last of the Mohicans.”  These are my love’s youngest two…the twins and the last two at home.  They were three years old when their dad and I met.  I was blessed to be Saleem’s mom and to be apart of his everyday life and upbringing.  Even though God decided that having another child was not in the cards for me, I have been truly blessed to be Mimi to my love’s kids, especially these two.  I have been blessed to share in many firsts with the twins…their first day of kindergarten, their first day of middle school, their first day learning to drive, their first “unofficial” date and today, their first day at their first job.  In a few years, we will be dropping them off at their first day of college.

Prior to gaining full custody of the twins and their older sister almost four years ago, my love and I were weekend parents along with giving as much support during the week as needed.  Granted our lives have changed quite a bit now that the kids are with us full time and I must admit, I was not at all prepared as Saleem was out on his own by then.  I was enjoying being a semi-empty nester.  I understand now that even though all those years ago I joked about God sending me a man with kids, He has actually answered my prayers.  I am so grateful to have had this time with them.

 

Be careful what you ask for…:)

Up Next

When I decided to become an educator some fifteen or sixteen years ago, I was well aware that I would not be in it to make money.  As long as I could support myself and my son, I figured I would be okay.  It’s not like I took a vow of poverty but on a teacher’s salary, I might as well have.  I make what most would say is a “livable” wage and truth be told, I do okay.  I am able to pay my bills, feed myself and put gas in my car.  Unfortunately, after all that, there is not much left over to do many of the things I truly enjoy like taking yoga classes, having my hair professionally done or visiting my grandson as often as I’d like.  Don’t get me wrong, I can do those things but not without a plan and putting a little money aside each pay period until I have enough.

This summer, while I do save for summer break, I decided to find a part time job as well to add a little extra cushion to my financial bucket to reduce some of the stress of always being close to the end of my money each month during the school year.  At the end of the summer I made the decision to keep my part time job.  The extra money is great but I must say that I am definitely tired.  Many of my friends and family argue that as a professional with a master’s degree, there is no way I should have to work two jobs.  Well, I totally agree.  My love and I definitely live below our means.  We make every effort to save more than we spend.  My love does the grocery shopping and recently he came home and said, “did you know the price of bananas has gone from forty-nine cent a pound to seventy-nine cent a pound?  Our paychecks stay the same but prices all around us are going up.”  This is so true.  While we are doing our best to simply maintain our household, we are spending more on things like gas and food.

When I was in my twenties and working to finish my first degree, I dreamed of owning a home.  I kind of pushed that dream to the back of my mind once I became a teacher.  Being a teacher didn’t really allow me to save the kind of money I’d need to purchase a house.  All I wanted to do was make sure my child was fed, that he had a roof over his head and that the power stayed on.  About five years ago when I decided that I wanted to bring that dream to light, I asked questions, did research and found that I could actually make my dream a reality.  I became a home owner in June of 2016.

Last year, while out of town visiting my love’s family for the Christmas holidays I had the opportunity to chat with my father-in-law at one of his stores.  I joked that he should open a store in my area so that I could quit teaching and come work for him as I was certain to make more money.  We laughed and then he said, “why don’t you open your own business? What is it you like to do?”  My response, “Teach! That’s what I know and that’s what I’m good at.”  Besides owning a home, I also dreamed of owning my own business.  Again, that idea was pushed to the back of my mind as I thought there is no way I could do that on a teacher’s salary.  I went through all the reason’s I couldn’t do it.  I shared my conversation with my father-in-law with one of my best friend’s who happens to be a very successful event planner.  She started her business from scratch and as she patiently listened to me list all of the reasons why there was no way I could start my own business she simply said to me, “why not?”

I have spent the better part of the last ten months doing the very thing I did when I decided to buy a home, I asked questions, researched all I could and found that I might actually be able to turn this dream into a reality.  In my research I came across the Women’s Business Centre of Tampa Bay.  The women there were more than happy to answer any and all of my questions.  They helped me to make connections with the women at the non-profit, Enterprising Latins.  The bridge to owing my own business is being build with each and every connection I make.  Along the way, my love and my best friends have been encouraging me with each step.  While conducting research, I came across a business conference being held in Dallas, TX.  From the website information and reviews, it looked like a great opportunity for business owners and I said to myself, “if I get my business up and running, this would be a great way for me to learn more.”  Once again, sharing what I’d found with my friend, she asked, “why not go and get all of the information now so that you are a little bit ahead of the game.”  When I told her the cost and that there was no way I’d be able to afford it, her response was, “see of they have a payment plan.”  Of course, she was right…they had a payment plan.

As I am writing this post I am sitting at the Dallas Love Field airport on my way home from the conference.  I arrived here on Wednesday to attend the Thursday through Saturday sessions.  This was probably the best thing I could have let her talk me into doing.  I was able to network and hear from some of the best in the business.  When I shared my business idea with attendees and told them that I hadn’t yet opened the doors on my business, they jumped at the opportunity to share all that they knew, things I needed to do, the order I needed to do them in and what to look out for. They were so encouraging and positive that I want to go home, apply for a business loan Monday morning and open doors on Tuesday.  Although I am very aware that there are still a few steps left to complete in my plan, I think this conference gave me even more courage to step out of my comfort zone one more time to make this dream happen.  If God did it before, I am most certain He can do it again.  I am the one who has to let go of the fear and simply rely on the faith I keep saying I have.

Never let go of your dreams…:>

 

Forty-Five

Recently, I had a birthday and I turned forty-five.  Seems kind of crazy that that much time has passed in my life.  This years’ birthday was a little hard for me.  Not because of my age since I knew it was coming, but for some reason I haven’t figured out yet, I spent A LOT of time reflecting.  I thought about all that I have accomplished in these forty-five years.  I spent time thinking about the decisions and choices I’ve made that have not produced the fruit I’d hoped for.  My parents came to mind a lot.  I miss them everyday.  Even though I know they were proud of me and that we were solid when they left this earth, there is still so much I’ve done since their passing that I wish they could have been able to witness and be a part of.

I was what some would call a late bloomer.  A few incidences beyond my control detoured my path.  While many of my friends were in college, I was a working single mom taking classes when I could.  When they finished four years later I was still plugging along, one class at a time and raising my son. There are times when I feel that I should be further along in my life than I am currently then I remember that my plans aren’t always God’s plan for me.  For the most part, I’ve had a good life.  But you don’t get to be this age without a few regrets.  If I could go back, there are a few things I would do differently.  At some of those forks in the road, I  definitely would have chosen a different path.  However, hindsight is always twenty-twenty.  At my age now, I only have one choice to make:  I can dwell on the past and my coulda, shoulda, woulda’s or focus all of my attention and effort on making the second half of my life my best one.  I think I will go with the latter.

My friends think I am much too busy.  For me, there is still so much I want to do and goals I plan to achieve.  I love living my life and I want to get in as many adventures as I possible can.  I know obstacles will come and I have learned that while they slow us down they aren’t stop signs.  Life will sometimes be uncomfortable, frustrating, complicated and often confusing but that’s what makes it worth living.

I am working to change the things about my life that I am not happy with.  Change can be difficult and for me its extremely hard because I don’t like hurting people.  I have this very strange habit of wanting to see the best in others even when they are not so kind to me.  Overall, this has been a very good year and I’m looking forward to the next chapter.

Seeing what the future holds…:)

 

 

 

 

 

Just Me

I was born a fighter.  I’m sure God must have known what I’d endure over my lifetime and He just decided to build me to last.  I can remember the exact day life as I’d known it had changed.  I was in seventh grade and I just knew.  That morning, I woke up a confused, withdrawn, sad and very angry child.  That was all I could think to be at that time.  I had lots of questions but no one I trusted to answer them so I learned to be silent.  I let my attitude and anger speak for me.  I often heard people say, “what’s wrong with her”, yet no one asked me directly.

Adults are funny that way.  Instead of facing issues directly, they make excuses for why children behave a certain way or they choose to ignore it altogether.  Getting to the heart of the matter may shine light on their own insecurities so they teach children to be quiet and what children learn to do is suffer in silence. What we all end up with are generational curses that span decades.  Children who learn to be silent become adults who often suffer through abusive relationships, allow anger to fuel promiscuity, develop mental heath issues or other toxic, unhealthy problems.  The cycle continues until one brave soul decides to break the curse.

 

Very few people know my story.  For me, there has to be a need to share it.  I have to know that the person who hears it will benefit from it in some way.  Other than that, they are mere words spoken with no direction or path.  As I’ve gotten older and have had the opportunity to share my story, I usually hear one of two things, “how have you not lost your mind” and “you should write a book.”  I always laugh because there was a time when I thought I had “lost my mind.”  In order to cope with all that I had endured up to that point in my life, I simply became someone else.  Due to the fact that I’d lost my identity at such a young age, through my anger and frustration, I learned to be the person everyone expected me to be.  Yet, I never felt quite right.  I didn’t have balance.

I lived my life in this crazy limbo until I was twenty-eight years old.  I had the privilege to meet this great lady, whom I affectionately refer to as Shug, at a point when my anger and false persona was causing more grief than help.  She literally spoke life into me.  Over the course of about a year, she changed my life and opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that I’m still riding today.  She gave me direction which is something I hadn’t had since I was about twelve years old.  She asked the hard questions, expected truthful answers, pressed and pushed until I was ready cut her out of my life forever.  I am thankful and grateful that she never quit.  Prior to Shug, I thought my anger made me a fighter.  She helped me to see that my true resilience, perseverance and innate ability to believe that there is more to me and my life than what people see or may perceive is what makes me a fighter.

It’s just in me to keep pushing.  I don’t quit.  When I look back over my life and reflect on all that I have lived through, the fires I’ve walked through and all those who told me I’d never amount to anything I think, “wow, look at that! If that didn’t stop me…nothing will.”  And I don’t quit!  Everyday is not my best day and I’m not always as positive as I should be.  I have my moments.  I cry, scream and if you catch me on a good day, I might even throw something.  However, I’ve learned not to stay in that place of anger because no one can get a level head when they are fueled with anger.  When my anger begins to subside, I pray, listen and plan.  (I’m learning to pray in my anger.  Not all the way there yet.)  I encourage myself and remind this girl that she is a fighter.

Through it all, I’ve always come out better than I went in.  Tension, challenges and struggles will produce growth if you don’t quit.

Planted but not buried…😊

 

The Lives of Boys

If you know me, then you know I love to read. The more I read, the more I learn and the more I grow. Learning and growing are two of my favorite things to do. I think it is just a waste to be on this earth, living this life and never growing.  There is so much freedom in this life especially, in this country.  We shouldn’t waste it.

Somehow, in a recent morning quiet time I began reading the book of Revelation.  Not sure how that came to be but I learned quite a bit.  Growing up, my grandmother would always tell us how life simply repeated itself because people don’t learn from their mistakes or from the situations of those who came before them.  As I began reading Chapter 12 in Revelation, I was reminded of my grandmothers’ words.  Reading this chapter taught me about the strength of women and the struggle that will forever haunt young boys who, without proper guidance, will become men under attack.

From reading this particular chapter in the bible, I thought about my own life and the lives of the boys I raised.  When my love and I met, he had three boys and I had one.  So, I had the pleasure of raising four boys.  Saleem is now 25, DJ is 24, Jaylen is 21 and James is 15.  Our two oldest are out on their own, Jaylen is doing well in college and the baby, James, is still at home giving us a run for our money.  All of our boys are the sweetest, kindest human-beings I know.  After reading Revelation, I think there is one area where we may have failed them.  While we made every attempt to raise them to be respectful, thankful, grateful and to treat others as they wanted to be treated, I think we failed to teach them the undeniable power that they held within.

Yes, we took them to church, prayed with them and talked to them about developing a relationship with God, however, we didn’t tell them the story about how they’d be attacked on every side through no fault of their own.  We didn’t know to tell that that the attacks they’d face were due to the power and strength they possessed to stand as the kings they were born to be.  Our boys were born to be fighters, to stand up for what is right and to be examples of God on earth.  When we know better, we do better.  It’s never too late to turn and that is just what I intend to do.  I will work to remind my boys that they are true kings of God and within them, God has placed all they need to fight against any darkness that is meant to take them down.

 

Standing strong…:)

Summer Closing 2018

Seems like this summer has flown by!  As an educator I am often asked this question nearly all summer long, “are you ready to go back?”  I really don’t like that question.  Even when I’m not at school, I’m working.  Even though I decided to take a summer job at a department store and tutor the grandson of a friend of mine, I have also been meeting and planning with my team so that we are prepared when school actually goes back into session.  For most educators, not working all summer long is not an option.  We squeeze in some fun time with the family and maybe a vacation but a lot of us are planning, in trainings and preparing for the upcoming year.

I didn’t get an actually vacation this year but I did have some fun with my family, enjoyed my son and grandson for two weeks, and I even got to sleep in some days.  The best part of my summer was having lunch or dinner with friends I don’t often get to catch up with during the school year.

In an effort to get some cleaning and organizing done around the house, I finally got a chance to start working on the garage.  I got about half done when I came across a box that my aunt sent me over a year ago.  She’d been holding on to it since my mother passed away a few years ago.  I attempted to go through it when I first got it but didn’t get very far.  Although it was still very hard, I’m glad I was able to do it now.  After my mother passed away, I wasn’t able to have anything that belonged to her and that made me really sad.  However, while going through her box, I came across an old driver license and her last pastport.  It was awesome!  It may not sound like much but for me, to be able to have just those two things of hers meant the world to me.  To go from growing up in a house that reflected our family history to having it all lost after my mother’s death was very devastating for me.  Not only did I lose her but I lost many things that meant a lot to me and my parents.

I didn’t get to finish the other half of the garage but with about six more days of summer break left, my goal is to rest, rest, rest!  Goodness knows I’m going to need it!  I am looking forward to another successful school year.  I will have a new team this year which will be absolutely no problem for me because I am a serious social butterfly!  Meeting and getting to know new people is one of my favorite things to do.  I’m looking forward to seeing my students, coworkers and getting back to my routine.  This is going to be a great school year!

 

Give, live and enjoy…🙂

 

 

Part Two of To Sleep or Not to Sleep

An extra long title for a not so long post 🙂

After a discussion with my chiropractor about how long I’d had my mattress and its connection to my recent back, leg and arm pains and restlessness, I started my journey for a new mattress.

As with anything I plan to purchase, I set out to do a little research first.  Who knew buying a new bed would take three months of research and testing of mattresses?  It was awful!  Every time I thought I’d narrowed it down, I’d read about some other mattress that was sure to help with chronic lower back issues or help to promote a better night’s sleep.  Well, when my allergist threw in her two cents about how certain mattresses could help with my allergies and sinus troubles, I was fit to be tied.

What I knew for certain was that I was going to be spending A LOT of money and I had to get this mattress thing just right.  It is amazing how little I knew about how a lack of good sleep, joint pain and blood circulation can make the difference between a successful, productive day and a bad day.  I learned that its not just about getting eight hours of sleep.  We can all probably get eight hours on a good night but are you comfortable and peacefully sleeping for those eight hours or tossing, turning and getting up every couple of hours?

My research included visiting various mattress stores and laying on more mattresses than I ever thought possible!  Here are a few things I am convinced of…

1. There is no way you can buy a mattress that is best for you without being able to try it out first.

2. Buying a bed in a box is risky.  If you can’t find a store nearby that has one of those bed in a box mattresses available to try, cross it off your list.

3. You have to be certain about your mattress expectations and be sure it will fit your specific needs and desires.

4. Stay away from weird sales people. I had a salesperson ask me if I liked to sleep on my side or in the casket position.  Of course, that grabbed my attention but it also creeped me out.  No way was I going to let her sell me a mattress no matter what the sales price was.  Here I was concerned about my health and with the money I was planning to spend, this was not the time for her jokes.

5. If you want to go with an organic mattress, like with organic food certifications, know exactly what it means for a mattress to be certified organic and if you agree with those standards.

6. It really is a good idea to change your mattress every eight to ten years.  Trust me, it makes a difference so start your search early.

When the smoke cleared, we decided on a TempurPedic.  Just like the last time I bought a car, this was THE most pleasant buying experience!  First, our salesperson, Yahiara, was amazing!  Even though I know it’s her job to sell products, she didn’t make us feel as it we had to purchase a mattress right then.  She answered all of our questions, talked about the benefits of each mattress in the store that was within our budget and never tried to talk us into something more pricey.

Second, we purchased our mattress from an actual TempurPedic store and not from a third party mattress store for several reasons.  The pricing was about the same at all the other stores we’d been to but the medical discounts, free pillows, and mattress protectors we got at the TempurPedic store made the difference.

Third, the moment I laid down on my mattress, I knew it was the one for me.  Early on in my search I knew I wanted an adjustable base so my mattress on an adjustable base was simply the best.  My fifteen year old daughter was with me that day, when we laid down on the bed, she and I both said at the same time, “this it the one!”  I truly wanted to carry that mattress out of the store with me because by that point, all I wanted was a restful, peaceful good night’s sleep.

As of today, my Love and I have been in our new bed for about two weeks.  I have slept in Zero Gravity almost every night and best of all, I have slept through the night.  I wake up feeling as if I’d actually slept and rested!  My arms, legs and joints are starting to feel better and not so restless.  With just a little elevation on his side, my Love, still using his C-Pap machine, is breathing much better through the night.  One big bonus…if either one of us happens to turn or move in the night, the other person doesn’t feel it so their sleep isn’t disturbed.

 

Looking forward to restful sleep… 🙂