Putting the CL on that ASS!

A Bernie's Daughter Thing


February 2016

Feeling What You’re Feeling

I owe you an apology. Yes, you. You who are reading this. Whether you’re new to the blog, or you’ve periodically perused my musings, or you’re a loyal follower; I am woman enough to admit that I owe you an apology. You see, I’ve failed myself, and in doing so, I’ve failed you. I’m all about authenticity and integrity, yet I wasn’t actually practicing that when it came to today’s video. I’m about a month late posting a Friday video. I actually recorded this video last month. But in the spirit of honesty, I will admit to you that last month was a rough month for me. As Sofia told Miss Celie, “I’s feeling mighty bad.” Unfortunately, I fell into one of my terrible habits of retreating. Recording this video, which is all about honoring how we feel, triggered so many things for me and I retreated. I couldn’t bring myself to post this. It was too much for me. It was so much that I broke down crying after the recording. If you know me well, you can probably see it in my eyes as I’m talking. (That’s why there’s so much eye rolling. I’m trying to suppress the tears). Again, this goes totally against what I intended and what I’m about. How much more authentic would this have been if I’d simply shared it a month ago when I recorded it? How much could I have released then had I simply cried and shared? We may never know. But upon watching this video, I realized that I needed this. And if I needed this, someone else needs this. I don’t say this to be self-aggrandizing. I say this to be fully transparent and committed to the mission of sharing myself to help others. My apologies for forgetting that. My apologies for failing to honor myself while I tell you to honor yourself. I won’t let that happen again. Many thanks, and much love.


How I Learned to Mind My Own Business

Aahh . . . Love. Love of family, friends, and people in general. It’s a beautiful thing. It feels good to love on people and have them love on you. And when you love people, you care about what happens to them. You care about the things they do. It’s the benevolent thing to do. And it’s only right. Right? Well . . . yes, and no. It’s great to care about our loved ones. But far too often, we fall into the trap of thinking that overstepping our boundaries and inserting ourselves into the business affairs of our loved ones displays love and concern. And like Dwayne and Walter proclaimed on “A Campfire Story” episode of A Different World, “That’s when the fight broke out!” Inserting ourselves where we don’t belong into the lives of our loved ones is a surefire way to create division in our relationships. But we feel justified to do so. After all, we have valid opinions. We can see what they cannot. So it’s our duty to let them know exactly what we think about what they’re doing, what they need to do, and what they should do in the future. And to add insult to injury, we’re actually insulted when our benevolent advice is not met with gratitude. However well intentioned we may be, we can be quite guilty of crossing lines when we do this. Actually, our opinions are not “good” or “bad.” We may even have some sound advice. Hell, we may actually *gasp* be right. Now, I’m not speaking of when those we love are causing themselves great harm (say for example, in a case of a severely depressed person, or an addiction). But in the case of every day living, sometimes we get so busy living our loved ones lives that we forget to live our own. And it’s not as if we haven’t been warned about doing this. Jesus told us to remove the beam from our own eye before trying to remove the plank from our neighbors. New school tells us to stay in our lane. Old folks simply told us to mind our own business. Let me tell you how I learned to do just that.

I had an excellent teacher in learning this lesson. Who was my teacher, you ask? It was none other than my mother. And she honestly had no idea she even taught me. But she did. Allow me to paint the story for you. It was 2009, about eight months after my dad passed away. My mom had decided that she was ready to date. I, on the other hand, didn’t agree. Now let’s look at what I said. I didn’t agree with her choice. Just who did I think I was? Well, at the time I thought I was a supportive and loving daughter who cared about my mom and only wanted the best for her. I thought it was a bit much to expect that a woman who’d lost her husband of 30 years (the man she’d been with from 16 years of age to 50) was ready to go out and date. I thought it was even more than a bit much when considering that said woman hadn’t been on a first date since 1976. I thought it was a bit much to expect that she’d be wholly healed and done with her grief in a way that would allow her to forge a new relationship. And I thought the loving thing to do was to simply tell her so. And I didn’t think I said it an overbearing way. I thought I said it in a “Mom I love you and I only want the best for you” kind of way. But the reality was that she didn’t ask me. To be frank, no one asked me. I took it upon myself to decide that I needed to intervene on her behalf. And I thought I was right. Man, if you’d seen some of these guys! She had no business dating any of them. That’s what I told myself. And for me, it wasn’t so much that I felt that none of them could hold a candle to my dad. It was that I instinctively felt that none of them were interested in my mother as a woman. I felt that they were all just happy to say they were dating “Bernie Mac’s wife.” I knew that feeling all too well. After all, I knew how to navigate those murky waters. I knew what it felt like to have the task of making friends and date all while being “Bernie Mac’s daughter.” So I was helping my mother avoid some of the pitfalls I’d found myself in. Or so I thought.

Again, I had benevolent intentions. The execution though? Not so much. I wasn’t actually being benevolent. I was actually being quite dismissive of my mother and her right to choose. She had a right to live her life the way she felt. She had every right to grieve in the way she needed. She had a right to go out with anyone she wanted. She was 50 years old for goodness’ sake! She wasn’t a child who needed me to hold her hand. All she needed was support. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that support was enough action. I didn’t realize that support didn’t require me to insert myself in her life. Now, I’d love to tell you that I made these realizations shortly after I said something, but I cannot. No, I rode the short bus on this lesson. It took me quite a while to get to the memo. What pushed me to finally get it, you ask? It took me feeling as if my life had completely fallen apart and dissecting everything about it to realize that everything I was upset over had NOTHING to do with me! It was several months later at this point. I’d deteriorated mentally, physically, and emotionally. My entire body was broken out in a horrid rash. I thought it was simply a bad case of my eczema until I went to the dermatologist and learned that it was another skin condition caused by stress. I couldn’t sleep. I was averaging about 2-3 hours of sleep, and I wasn’t eating. I couldn’t. I couldn’t keep anything down. I went to my counselor and told her what was going on and she asked me a very important question. She simply asked, “What does any of this have to do with you?” *Gasp* How could she dare ask me that? Couldn’t she see that it had everything to do with me? “She’s my mother!” I answered incredulously. She looked at me and said, “Yes, we know that. And she’s your mother whether she’s married to your dad, dating a new guy, or perpetually single. This is her life. So what does her dating have to do with you?” I opened my mouth to answer, but I had nothing. So I closed my mouth and just sat there. She was correct.  The truth was that it didn’t have anything to do with me. But I think I made it about me because that was safer and easier than dealing with my own life. The truth was that I wasn’t doing so well with my dad’s passing. I was devastated and I didn’t know I was devastated. I knew I was out of it. But I didn’t have a name for it. I just knew that I felt low and wanted to feel better. To top it off, my divorce was finalized three months after my dad passed. And while I felt I did the right thing by divorcing my ex husband, I still felt a sense of sadness. I still needed to grieve. I needed to grieve not so much what was, but the release of all the unfulfilled hope of what could have been. As if that wasn’t enough, my relationship with my mom had changed. A distance grew between us–one that wasn’t related to my insertion in her business. I honestly think maybe I inserted myself as a means to bridge the gap. Whatever my reasons, it didn’t change the fact that I was so busy minding my mother’s business that I was failing myself miserably.

So then judgment kicked in. I was upset with myself because I should have known better. After all, how many fights had I participated in with my father because he didn’t allow me the freedom to choose–even when I was grown and out of the house. I would often tell him that while I understood his intentions; he still needed to back off. Of course, he wouldn’t. Now years later, he was gone and I was finding myself committing his cardinal sins! But that was judgment. And judgment kept me stuck. I couldn’t get past it. After all, this was different and I was nothing like him because I was right and he wasn’t. But it didn’t matter how I tried to spin it because the more I spun, the more I realized that I was acting and sounding just like my dad. AAaaaaahhhh!

And so, upon realizing that I was acting like my father and that I was running away from my own trouble–also the fact that I was extremely dry and itchy and the steroid cream the dermatologist prescribed was NOT cutting it–prompted me to get out of my mother’s lap in her driver’s seat, in her car, in her lane, on her highway, on her route, in her city, on the way to her destination. Instead, I opened the driver’s side door of my own car, sat behind the wheel, and drove off at a very cautiously slow 5 mph.  Whew! I was scared out of my mind, but I kept driving.  Slowly but surely, my scenery changed because I was on my own route–one that had nothing to do with my mom’s.  And that’s how I learned to mind my own business.

While I will offer my opinion to my loved ones when asked, I won’t insert myself in their lives. I only speak when prompted. Furthermore, I’m done once I’ve said my peace. I don’t entangle myself in their affairs. Yay for healthy boundaries! It took some practice, but now it’s almost effortless, and I think my relationships are the better for it.


Special Announcement

Hey! Hey! Hey! I know it’s not Friday, but I wanted to make a short video to make a special announcement. This is something exciting for me and I’m so happy to share it here.

If you’re interested (and I hope you are) here are my social media platforms that I hope you’ll follow.


Thanks for all your support and please keep it coming!

Much Love!

I Am Woman, Dammit! The Super Woman’s Credo

I don’t watch the news, so I’m usually late when it comes to events. You can imagine my surprise yesterday upon seeing a picture on my Facebook timeline highlighting an event from November 2015.  A young woman in Georgia took her college exam while she was in labor.  She has since  been lauded as strong, determined, having her priorities in order, and amazing for doing so.  This is not the first time a woman has done this.  Back in 2011, an Illinois woman took her bar exam while in active labor.  This woman was also lauded with compliments for her extraordinary heroism as she barreled through her exam.

I understand that we are in a culture which supports and idolizes action. We are all about doing and achieving. And when you’re done with that, do and achieve more.  That picture and those who commented on how wonderful it was only reinforced that notion.  And while I believe these women–and women in particular, for that matter-are extraordinary, I can’t help but to feel a bit sad about how much that mentality has affected us. Most  women who have given birth can tell you what an exhaustive process labor can be.  And in the midst of this, these women felt that they really had no choice but to “woman up” and take an exam instead of focusing on the task at hand–a mighty large task if you ask me.

Now I know there are some who will say “But what’s wrong with what they did?” To you I will say, there’s nothing wrong.  I’m not speaking from a place of judgment.  I do applaud these women for doing what they felt they needed.  I think women are incredibly resilient. And while extreme, these two ladies, and any other ladies who’ve done similar things, illustrate this point. But reading their stories and all the comments of those who applauded them raised some questions for me. Tyler Collins, the 21 year-old Georgia mom who took her psychology exam while in labor said, “I just didn’t want to make an excuse for not taking it, but I also wanted to keep my GPA up.” I’m amazed by her strength. But I’m also amazed that she would have considered giving birth an “excuse” as to why she couldn’t take her exam. We’re not talking about a slight sniffle of the nose here. No, we’re talking about birthing a child!  How is that an excuse? I just wonder how long we woman shall rumble and roar just to say we did? Furthermore, I wonder why we even feel the need to?

Again, there is no judgment. I couldn’t judge if I wanted to since I still struggle to retire the invisible, yet still seen S on my chest and cape that flows from my neck.  I just am saddened that we as women still fall into the trap of thinking we have to do, get, labor (figuratively and literally), and toil in order to be worthy and strong. We still don’t quite understand that strength is a quiet trait.  It doesn’t make a grand entrance. It merely shows up when needed, does what needs to be done, and exits stage left when it’s done.  And sometimes strength realizes that rest or seeming inactivity is the thing that is needed. We forget that sometimes, the seemingly “weak” thing is the strongest thing to do.  We are after all, feminine beings. And feminine strength doesn’t look like masculine strength; nor does it need to.  What’s more, Collins scored a 76 on her exam and admitted she wasn’t pleased with the score, prompting her to email her professor to see if she could retake the exam. Thankfully, her picture and story went viral, so it prompted her teacher to give her extra credit, which bumped her grade from a C to a B.  But I couldn’t help but wonder, if she’d simply focused on her labor–you know prioritize–and taken the test at a later time, would she have received a score more to her liking. But that’s the mentality that we live with.  We must do it and we must do it NOW! There is no later.  If you wait, you won’t get another opportunity. And often times we don’t see how we cause our own suffering with that mentality.

I will repeat, these women were in labor! I understand the gravity of that can be forgotten in today’s world; since women have been doing it since the dawn of time. I get that how in the midst of all the medical, technological, and societal strides the human race has made, childbirth can seem so rudimentary.  Yet, it isn’t at all.  It’s heavy stuff, Man!  I also get that when we look at some of the things our ancestors faced, we feel like we’re chumps in the face of their adversity. And why shouldn’t we?  When you compare what they’ve gone through to our stuff one can’t help but arise at the conclusion that we have it made.  I’ve heard the stories of how our ancestors birthed babies in the middle of the cotton field, wrapped the baby and strapped them to their back, and then proceeded to continue picking cotton.  Yep, I’ve heard the stories. I was saddened by them then, just as I’m saddened now. And it’s because in spite of the advances, we still haven’t realized some things.

There has been and still is this idea that in order for a woman to succeed, she must do so with masculine energy. She must act.  If she isn’t acting, she’s not achieving.  Now admittedly, women have made great strides in their careers. Yet those strides have begged the question, at what cost?  The notion that women need to be like men in order to be strong is erroneous.  We were created different for a reason.  A woman can be strong in her feminine without embodying the masculine.  We can prioritize, possesses determination, and be amazing all without putting ourselves last.  It’s not a badge of honor to deplete ourselves in our quest to get things done.  Yet, that’s the model so many of us have chosen to emulate.  My wish is that every woman knows how splendid, beautiful, and yes, strong, she is.  But we can’t realize that trying to reach it with a masculine model in mind.

I just wonder that with all that women do,  why we feel it’s not enough? I wonder how long we will have to be the Strong (and often times Black) woman giving and doing with our might before we whittle away at everything we’ve got. Why is it that we feel like carrying, laboring, birthing, and raising our children is nothing? Why do you we feel like we haven’t done enough?  Why do we feel like we have to be “on” constantly, giving of ourselves until we’re depleted, to prove how we good we are?  Why are we constantly applauding women for these acts of self-neglect?  Yes, I said self-neglect, because that’s what it is. We give and give up so much from our cups that many of us have been holding empty cups for years–scraping the residue from the bottom to give even more.  I understand that there are times when we must toil because there is no other choice.  But there are other times (probably more than we care to admit) when we choose to do it.  I know I’m asking a lot of questions.  But what I’m trying to say is deeper than the questions.  There is grace in rest. There is no weakness in recognizing that what one needs is to have a seat or two, or several more.  We need to bestow grace upon ourselves.  As far as we’ve come, we need to understand that we don’t need to fight to prove our strength.  There is no battle to wage on our life.  And again, I’m not judging.  I do believe they are strong. I believe women are strong. I just wonder how much steam that strength of ours will have to run on if we continue this way.  That’s all.


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