She was remembered by who came right before her
(so close they almost touched the womb together)
and then after
(knitted together just the same)
sandwiched in between
her lullabies, a crecsendo of chaos,
coming so fast
there was little time to
or remember her tiny hands
or distinguish her from the others
in the solemn return to calm
coming so fast
But for her fair skin and heart shaped face
(Alpha & Omega)
Bouncing on her father's knee,
I wonder if she smiled.
Poise and intellect exuded from her. Gwen Ifill was one of my idols. She, among others, spurred my desire to be a journalist, and even though life had another path, I appreciate her representation. Her words, her voice will be missed. Authentic and relevant. Here is a sampling of reasons I adored her as a journalist. #RIPGWENIFILL
Hostility & rage
Hostility & rage
Hostility & rage
Today, Katie threw a tantrum. Complete with loud cries and a finale of flinging herself onto the floor. Her screams could surely be heard by every neighbor within a mile radius. I'd refused to give her what she wanted--agreeing to hair extensions or a weave for Homecoming. Nope, this was not the cry of a terrible two year old, but a terrible teen (16 to be exact), and one who has obviously been given a bit too much latitude lately.
Let me rewind a bit, Katie is the middle child--textbook middle child. She claims the world has wronged her and her vengance is to disrupt and agitate the lives of everyone else. No one understands her except her daddy, sometimes, when she bats her long lashes and lays on the charm. She has no emotions and every emotion. You get the picture, right. You surely know a Katie.
"You don't understand me! You never listen to me! I wish I could talk to Nina. She understood me," Katie bellowed before slamming my door, then her own (which because I'm in parent mode is technically still my door) and face planted into her bed. Nina is what my children and my nephews and niece called my mother who passed away on June 7th. Nina could relate to Katie even if she really couldn't relate to Katie. She had a way of helping Katie see her own absurdity and revealing too much of my own teenage rebellion to make Katie feel like whatever she'd done she still had not totally fallen too far off the side of the cliff (even if in my estimation she'd done a swan dive).
Until the Katie tornado blew through with that statement, I thought I'd experienced every aspect of loss related to my mother. I missed talking to her, laughing with her, getting advice from her, sharing with her, but Katie's hell storm of fury revealed another thing I will miss about my mother--her ability to calm the storm and be a confidant and influencer of my children.
Marcus, the other teenager in the house, came in my bedroom 10 minutes after the tantrum choking out these words through his tears, "I really miss Nina,too." Katie had struck a nerve with him as well. Who could he turn to when he wanted to talk? Who would tell him he was right and wrong in the same breath?
I thought I was at a point in the grieving process where I knew what to expect and knew all I'd lost. I am not. As Katie hurled herself onto her bed, I hurled myself onto mine and threw my own tantrum. And mine was justified.
t h u m p,
t h u m p.
The heart slows
And without skipping a beat
A backstory is invented
Ice cold and hard
The blood thirsty
Roar to attack
And then silence
The low groans of pain
from hearts still beating
With similar backstories
Constructed but not real
To fit a mold
But really untold
With no sheet or blanket or love
The underserved and never protected
combine to create
A bleeding red
Lately, people have been telling me constantly to "Be Strong." It has been so constant, in fact, I started to resent the statement. Truthfully, I'd been repeating it to myself for the past few months, so as others joined the fray it just got to be too much. I thought "Be Strong" is B.S.
What is strength?
What does it mean to "be strong"?
I really don't know. What I do know is that strength is relative. I am strong enough physically to fight with the best of them--believe that! I am strong enough to carry my mother when she is weak--know that! Physically, there is no doubt but that I am strong. I can feel my physical strength and measure it.
Emotional strength, well, that is a different story altogether. I can't feel this strength and, as a result, I am struggling to define and categorize it, and to really know what people are asking of me.
I keep questioning myself trying to grasp the concept:
Is just putting one foot in front of the other strength?
Is it moving when your body is so tired and you seem to be functioning on autopilot?
Is strength pretending to understand the incomprehensible?
Is it smiling when all you want to do is go curl up in ball and retreat, scream, cry and curse?
Is sitting watching being strong? Is trying to maintain a routine being strong?
Is it silence?
Somedays these simple things take all the strength I have.
I'm just not sure any of these things are being strong. I am not sure I am adhering to the advisement of my friends, family or myself because strength is so abstract for me in this life's moment.
So for right now, be strong is B.S. because I can't even conceive it!
Walking into my son's school for a parent teacher conference, I am greeted by rows of tables stacked with overflowing blue bins filled with hats, lonely gloves, sweatshirts, pants and glasses. I wonder: How do kids leave school without their pants? How do you not know your eye glasses are missing? 'Kids are so frivolous,' I think as I work my way through the pseudo swap meet looking to reunite my son with any of his belongings. And as I sift through the dozens of neon colored Under Armour sweatshirts, I start to equate my life to a lost and found.
I am always in one of these states either I've lost my patience with one of my kids (usually the same one) or I've found I'm stronger than I think. I stopped to think about what I've lost and found recently.
*Desire to work for someone else
*Desire to please people/ Need to prove myself to others
*Caring what people think about me
*Patience with most entitled and uneducated Americans
*Respect for Christian Conservatives who judge people under the guise of Christ
*Judgement of others without true introspection
*Need to shield myself from some pain
*Family IS the most important thing
*Acceptance/Peace with myself
*It's okay to be selfish sometimes
*New passions and goals
*A new depth of love, compassion and understanding
*Nothing in this realm lasts forever
*Failure is relative
It is so important in life to lose somethings and find others. It's a process of true growth.
I never found any of my son's belongings at the school swap meet, but all hope is not lost that half his wardrobe will resurface in time.
I love Langston Hughes.
Lately, as life has thrown me a FOUL ball, the words of his Mother to Son poem keep invading my thoughts.
Well, son (daughter), I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
Yep, sometimes life ain't no crystal stair. Hell, sometimes there aren't any stairs at all to climb out of your despair. There are just barren places filled with nothing --- no carbon, no dioxide, no oxygen --just times that you don't know how you will even take your next breath because life's blow hit you so hard all the air seems to have escaped you. I'm in one of the those stairless places. Not knowing how I will climb out and sometimes not wanting to. Ready to freeze this frame and not think about "it" or anything. If only I could erase the questions spiraling out of control during my waking and dreaming hours, then I could breathe and continue on. What is beyond the void?
Mother to Daughter
Then I think of Langston's last lines, and I think of what she wants of me and I grasp for the little air I have left. And I trudge forward into the dark where there ain't no light. 'Cause while she's still climbin', so must I.
And when she can't climb anymore, I know, I must carry her on.
I don't do the resolutions thing anymore. After years of disappointment, I decided to ditch them. They'd become sore reminders of my failure, so to the moon, Alice they went! Last year, I wrote affirmations, instead, which I really liked. In my mind's eye, they were the exact opposite of resolutions: positive and never demanding unreasonable things of me--who can lose 50 pounds or go the gym EVERYDAY or read the Bible every night WITHOUT falling asleep after the first few lines--IMPOSSIBLE! My affirmations really changed my view of myself and my world. This year I am trying Ali Edwards' One Little Word approach in addition to my affirmations.
Directions: Pick one word that will be your driving force for 2016. Hear it, say it, meditate on it. Let the word become a part of your lexicon and lifeicon.
Drum roll please ... My one little word is not little at all--it's big; it's huge really. It's LOVE.
Why? I could use more. I'm sure you could use more. Don't we all need some more love? I want to transform. What is more transformative than love?
Reflecting on 2015, it was abundantly clear that love could have made my crooked places straight and mend the wrongs around our world. It is the easiest and hardest thing to give and receive, and yet I want to challenge myself to do just that!
In the words of one of my favorite music groups, a little bit of love is all it takes! Rock on with me as you listen to the music below and spread a little love yourself.
No build up just straight to the point: being comfortable is dangerous--PERIOD.
Comfort - feeling of relief; ease
Like you can finally exhale after a long day or the joy of knowing you have pedaled uphill and can coast on the way down, those moments are comforting but more importantly they are fleeting. Try to hold onto them and you’ll see what I mean. They will quickly slide through your fingers and dissolve.
Real life comfort I’ve learned means, for me, that I am unaware and lax. Hear me out before you beat the keys in the comment section. Lately, I have been inundated with people who I thought had comfortable lives and marriages--not in the social media fake lives constructed and edited sort of way, but face to face in my living room or across the table at a restaurant or at a party and I thought you had your shit together sort of way. Then boom--they drop the news of divorce or we're losing our home or business. WTH? Didn’t we just talk about how comfortable they were in their marriage of umpteen years or how well their business was doing?
OR your kids are getting bigger and you are finally comfortable in your role as a parent. Comfort in parenting is truly a ticking time bomb. You are always a ten second countdown away from a major explosion no matter how awesome your darlings are! Trust me as soon as you think you have them figured out; they grow and change.
OR in the workplace. Is there ever comfort in the workplace? As soon as you are comfortable, you’re toast either you lose that loving feeling for the job you once dreamed about or your employer moves in a different direction (and that seems to happen every other month). Comfort on the job means devaluation.
OR with yourself and your personal growth. You can stop exercising as much because you are just relieved that you’re not where you were. Maybe, it’s as simple as you are comfortable existing on an island or existing in a mob. You are comfortable living without a savings or without giving. You are comfortable in unfulfilling relationships.
All of these statements/situations require almost daily examination that comfort often times negates. Why am I only comfortable when there are throngs of people around? Why have I lost that loving feeling for my job? What is making this marriage tick? Why don’t I give abundantly when I have more than enough?
Don’t mistake me. I am not advocating a constant mental or physical grind. I wholeheartedly believe in rest which is very different than comfort. Rest means to refresh and recover strength and to provide support for something. Rest is fruitful. I know it will propel me while comfort has no end game. It often time keeps you stagnant.
It’s dangerous to ease off the throttle of life. I am not saying be in constant acceleration mode because that too presents its problems, but rev the engine often and zoom out of your comfort zone!
Documenting my evolution by filling in space and matter one word at a time.