My Why

So…one of the things I absolutely love to do is listen to positive, uplifting messages. I heard it said by Les Brown that when you are working toward being successful and living your best life, you must know your why.  What are you working toward?  What makes you want to get up in the morning and strive for your goals? Why are you doing what your are doing?

This past week I had the great fortune of spending six blessed and exciting days in North Carolina with my son and three year old grandson.  Each day was an adventure.  We visited local parks, chased waterfalls, hiked, had lunch at Lake Lure where Dirty Dancing was filmed and spent hours exploring small towns.  For me, of course, the days went by too fast and my time spent with them was too short.  However, to say that I am grateful for my vacation is the understatement of the year.

 

My boys are amazing!  My son is still the best kid I know.  He’s always been kind and loving.  Such a tender-hearted young man.  My grandson, well he is much like his father at that age.  I don’t think I’ve seen that kid walk.  He loves to run and explore. His favorite place to go is the park because he already understands that at the park he can run himself until he can no longer feel his legs.

I don’t think there is anything I wouldn’t do to help either of those boys to succeed in life.  My hope is that I was able to give my son the best parts of me so that he is able to give that and more to my grandson.  They give me life.  They give me air.  They help me to remember what’s important in life.  They are my “why”.  Anything that I will ever accomplish in life will be because of them, the future I wish to give them and the legacy I wish to leave them.  Because of them I will never stop driving, I will never stop pushing and I will never give up.

 

Living my best life…:)

 

 

 

 

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…:)

It’s Her Birthday

Today is a very special day for me. It’s my momma’s birthday! She would have turned sixty-six on today.  I lost my momma in June of 2015.  Even now, it’s still very hard for me to believe she’s no longer with us.  Grateful that she’s no longer in pain but so sad she had to go.

The months of November and December were her favorite.  She loved cooking so Thanksgiving and Christmas gave her the opportunity to go all out.  Feeding us and making a plate for anyone who stopped by gave her so much joy.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of both my parents but I think of them most often during this time of year.

Time is not always on our side and everything can’t wait.  There is one thing I can be whole about when it comes to losing my parents and that is we had no unfinished business at the time of their deaths.  I can mourn and be sad without guilt or feeling as if I should have said something or done something prior to losing them.

Be authentic. Love your family, love your friends.  If you have something to say…say it.  If you know you were wrong…humble yourself and apologize.  If someone hurt you, tell them and clear the air.  Remember…forgiveness is for you.  You walking around in hurt and anger is only further hurting you.

Missing my momma…

 

Finding My Way

Over the past few weeks I have had many great ideas to blog about. However, so much has happened over the past few weeks that I am not quite sure where to begin. When I first began this blog it was meant to be a place where my friends and I could gather to discuss books that we had chosen to read together, an online book study of sorts.  I think we may have gotten through one book together and then, as with life, we all got busy, schedules changed and we could no longer do what we set out to do. But since I’d already started the blog I didn’t want to just shut it down and as a natural-born writer I decided to use it as a place for simply sharing my thoughts, ideas and encouraging others based on my own experiences. The goal was to post at least once week, no less than three times a month. But as my life got busy I wasn’t able to post/blog as much as I would have liked.

My experiences in the past few weeks have been good, great, not so great and some just simply the worst.  As I sit here now thinking about it all I’m drawn to how I felt about each experience during and after.  Sometimes I was angry, sometimes I was hurt, at times I was confused, at times I was scared, and sometimes I was just plain numb. It’s funny that in the middle of it all I just wanted to say, “ok, life…you win. I quit.”   Then just sit on my bed never to move or leave the house again.  Of course, I couldn’t do that because in order to have a house to live in I had to have money.  I had to eat while I was in the house which meant I had to go to the grocery store and that meant I had to drive my car and therefore I needed gas.  All of which tied into the fact that I needed to take my behind to work.  In all of this I’ve learned one thing and that is change happens but we can never, never, ever give up.

To be perfectly honest, after looking over my life and the things that I’ve been through, the experiences that I’ve had, it used to bother me something terrible when someone would say to me “don’t give up, everything will work out, just keep pushing forward.”  I know that people, especially those who have been through some things in life, really feel that those words are encouraging and maybe to some people they are but in that moment, when you are dealing with real life, that real struggle, in the thick of things, in the middle of the drama, the madness, the chaos, the busy life, the crazy schedule, the differences of opinion…giving up is exactly what you feel like doing.  Just not wanting to be a part of the rat race period. Not wanting to deal with another issue, another problem, another setback nor another week of praying that the gas you have left in the tank will hold out until Friday, nothing.

However, what we don’t realize is that really the only way to give up or quit is to simply stop trying, to stop wanting better, to stop hoping, to stop praying, to stop wishing, to simply stop moving. And I think that as long as we get up each and every day, put one foot forward, move toward that front door, get in that car we know is ready to break down and head to that job we don’t like, by just moving we are essentially not giving up. Even though we don’t feel it and we may sometimes not think it, by simply moving along in our lives we are actually holding out hope that things will get better.  So instead of trying to find some cliche or some philosophical saying, I will just leave you with this…

Jeremiah 29:11 🙂

 

Moments in Life

I’ve lived in Florida for nearly twenty years now and I still find it funny when people “tease” me about my free thinking spirit or strange thinking as I’ve heard it called.  What most people don’t know or understand about me is that I am very aware that my thinking is different from the norm.  I love being me, I love being different and I absolutely love my free thinking spirit.

I was born in San Francisco in the 1970’s.  Growing up there, what I remember most is family get togethers and lots and lots of people.  There were people who looked like me and people who didn’t.  I had friends of all shades, shapes and sizes.

And then it happened…I moved to my mother’s home state of Alabama to live with my grandmother.  I lived there for a couple of years during middle and high school.  The years I lived there were probably some of the darkest and worst times of my life.  Unless a person was born there, one, especially a free thinking, spirited kid from California, could never understand what pure hatred, negativity and ugliness looked like.

I loved being with my grandmother.  She taught me things I would have never learned or appreciated in California.  I learned how to wash clothes without a wash machine, pick fresh fruit and veggies, sew without a sewing machine, cook without processed foods, share without thinking what I’d get in return, to respect others, to do right because it’s the right thing to do and to act like somebody with some sense.  However, what I remember most was not only how blacks were treated in the south by white Americans but how we treated each other.  Living in Alabama was the first time and the only time I experienced bullying by my own peers.  Prior to moving there, I had no idea that my skin was “too dark” or that my hair was “too nappy” or that my last name rhymed with so many other negative things.  Living in California I grew up understanding that we are all different in some way but that people were just people.

When we finally moved back to California, I was lost, confused and scared of everything and everybody. Life for me had changed drastically.  I had the privilege of spending my last two years of high school at an all girls Catholic school.  Being there helped me to recover some of what I’d lost in Alabama.  I was no longer that “black girl with the nappy hair and funny last name.”  I was just me. Again, I was able to have friends that didn’t all look like me or talk like me. I found the girls and administrators at my school to be some of the most encouraging, loving, funny, and beautiful people I knew.  I know for certain it had nothing to do with the religious aspect of the school but simply people who wanted to be their best and helping others to be their best as well.

We live our lives never knowing which situations will break us or those that will make us stronger.  What I am most grateful for is that I had the experience of growing up in a place that allows people to be different.  I’m grateful that my experiences in Alabama didn’t strip away the heart of who and what I truly am.  I love that I don’t have a keep my head down mentality.  I’m not afraid of growing or changing. I’m not afraid to seek or ask for help from any person of any race. I’m glad that I see the bigger picture.  I don’t care what others think or say about me.  I’m grateful to be a free and reasonable thinker.  The only thing that defines who I am is me and personally, I think more people would benefit from being more open to the differences of others then taking the time to learn from them.

Learning from others…:)

The Brighter Side

The Brighter  Side

 

I was speaking with a friend of mine recently.  She and I talked at length about some personal things she has been going through.  For the most part, I simply sat and listened.  As she talked, thoughts ran through my mind about a few ways she could probably fix a situation or two she had mentioned.  What kept me from chiming in is a promise I made to myself a long time ago to not interrupt someone who was in the middle of sharing with me what they felt were trying or difficult situations.

I had a few challenges as I was growing up.  One of the things that bothered me most was when I tried to talk to someone, a friend or family member about my challenges they didn’t actually listen to what I was saying.  A number of things happened that made me never want to talk to them again.  I was either interrupted while I talked, given some off-handed solution to the situation, told that as time passed it would work itself out or to simply not worry about it.  Nine times out of ten, none of those things worked.  Common sayings or general statements like that don’t help anybody.  As I have grown, I have come to realize that when my friends come to me with problems or frustrations, what they really want is for someone to listen.  They don’t want solutions, feedback or extra conversation.  They just want to be heard.  So, I do my best to keep the promise I made to myself to not interrupt or give unsolicited advice.

If asked, at a moments notice, I know that I could probably think of all the things I felt went wrong in my life or situations I thought were much too difficult for me to handle.  There are definitely some things, if given the chance, I would go back and change.  Well, since that is not an option, I focus on what I can do differently now that I am older and hopefully wiser.  When given the opportunity, by request, to share my thoughts with friends who are experiencing a difficult time, here are some things I often share:

  1.  The thing you feed the longest is the thing that is the strongest.  Be aware of the activity going on inside your mind.  Basically, when we constantly turn over in our minds the problem or situation we are going through, the longer it takes to see a solution or a way out. The more we think about it, the more it takes root in our minds and in our spirit; therefore, the longer it will take to get rid of.  So, be aware of how much you feed the problem.
  2.   Pray and pray often.  Make prayer apart of your daily routine.  I like to have my quiet moment, meditation and prayer time first thing in the morning.  For me, this helps to start my day with a positive purpose.  Often I read a scripture or reflect on something that stays with me and helps me to stay focused and purpose driven all day.  When the tough times come, my mind and spirit are prepared to deal with the issues in a more relaxed and positive way.
  3.   If prayer is not your thing, try positive affirmations and gratitude.  Use index cards, sticky notes or whatever writing material you are comfortable with to write down quotes, positive thoughts or things that you are grateful for.  Put these where you can see them throughout your day to remind you of the things that are going right in your life and you will be less likely to focus on the things that aren’t going so great.
  4.  Shift your mental thoughts.  When your mind starts to wander to those things and situations that are overwhelming you or causing you frustration, force your thoughts to something positive.  Deliberately, shift your mental thoughts to something you enjoy or a goal you’ve set for yourself.

While, I know that there is no quick fix to any problem or situation, the goal is to know and understand that there will be situations and issues that will cause us to struggle.  But, what we want to do is be so prepared that when they do come they do not cause damage to our mental health with depression or stress.  Nor to our physical health with weight gain or joint pain.  Find those things in life that you enjoy and that make you happy.  Do those things and do them often. Build up your positives so that your negatives don’t overtake you.

Finding the brighter side…😊

 

Be Open

I love my blog!  I don’t get to post to it as often as I like but I still love it!  Like everyone else in the world I work and have a family to take care of.  Finding a good, quiet thirty minutes to spend on my blog can be challenging, however, I have this crazy love and passion for writing.  I may not post to my blog everyday but I definitely write everyday.  I have to.  Writing is like breathing for me.  I have journals that date back to high school and it is really crazy to read and see just how much I have grown and changed as a woman.  One thing I think helps me to continue growing is my openness and willingness to try new things.  My dad had a saying, “Try it at least once.  If you don’t like it, don’t do it again but how will you ever know if you like or don’t like something if you don’t at least try it once?” My sister and I have lived by that for practically all of our lives.

Earlier this week, my life partner and I were having a discussion about how God uses even the simplest of things to speak to us.  He, my life partner, is not always as open as I am to trying new things.  He will sometimes but he doesn’t like being too far outside his comfort zone.  On Sunday, he happened to be flipping through the channels and came across the Joel Osteen program.  He had never watched the program before but something Mr. Osteen said just before he flipped the channel made him stop and listen.  He watched the entire program.  At the end, he and I talked at length about the message and how it resonated with him.  He talked about how he was glad he’d watched it because it gave him some clarity about somethings he’d been dealing with.  He also made a statement which I absolutely love, he said,  “even though I’m southern and enjoy a good hooping word every now and again it was nice to hear a good practical message that I can clearly understand and apply to my life.  It’s amazing how God can use different people to minster to you.”

I would definitely have to agree with that statement.  We never know when God will speak to us or who He will use to do it.  Yes, we have to be careful what we listen to and sometimes careful of the person delivering the message but I believe that this is one reason why it is so important to know God’s word for ourselves, so that we are able to discern God’s true word for our lives rather than simply someones loaded opinion of what we should or should not be doing.  From my dad, be open to trying new things at least once and from my love, be open to stepping out of your comfort zone… just a little.

Enjoy your day and thank you to all of the men and women who have served and are still serving in our armed forces.  Happy Veteran’s Day! 🙂