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Putting the CL on that ASS!

A Bernie's Daughter Thing

Author

berniesdaughter

Something changes every time I think I get myself figured out. So I'm not sure I can narrow it down to an exact science to tell you who I am. But, here's what I can tell you. I'm a mother. I'm a lover. I'm a writer. I'm a friend. I can be nerdy, funny, angry, happy, and a host of other emotions. And I also happen to be the only child to the late Bernie Mac. And there's even more to discover. In short, I'm just little ole' me.

Where The Heck Have You Been?

Did’ja miss me?  I wish you could hear me say it like Tommy Davidson’s character, Varnell Hill, from Martin!

Boy, oh boy is it good to be back!  Hi there.  I’ve missed you.  Let me just say I’m sorry for being absent for so long.  But I needed the time away.  I wasn’t doing so well and there’s no way I can be of service to you or anyone else if I’m not serving at (and from) my best.  2016 was a difficult one for me.  More difficult than I would have imagined it to be. It knocked me down for a while. But like the song goes, I get knocked down, but I get up again.  So here I am, up again.  Now I can’t say with certainty that I’ll never get knocked down again.  But what I can say is that I’m pretty confident that I’ll get back up yet again.

So please feel free to come back.  I’ll have more content (and content more consistently).  It’s good to be back.  Looking forward to what we do this year.

Suffering and Silence

This week seems to have developed the unintentional theme of death.  Maybe it’s the death of our family friend, coupled with the anniversary of my dad’s death.  Maybe it’s just seeing so many people in bereavement.  Whatever it is, I feel compelled to continue on this roll I have stumbled upon.  One thing I know about myself is that I know what it feels like to lose, to hurt, to be counted out.  Don’t we all?  It’s always been my desire to aid others in the process.  There have been so many times where I have felt alone and broken. And while I am so thankful to be beyond those spaces, I remember when I wasn’t.  That’s one of the reasons why I share so much of myself.  I truly believe there is healing in sharing. I don’t think silence serves anyone.  As Jane Fonda says, “We are not meant to be perfect. We’re meant to be whole.” And as my father used to say, “We all have a ghetto story.”  We all have tales of how we were broken, hurt, lost, confused, etc. My story may not be your story, but in hearing yours, it may just help me get to the next chapter of my own; and vice versa.  So that’s where I’m coming from.

I said yesterday that death brings a lot of uncomfortable feelings–and not just for the bereaved.  It’s not just uncomfortable to be the one left in pain after a loss.  It can also be uncomfortable to witness someone in pain.  People tend to be action-oriented. We are all about doing. Witnessing someone’s pain motivates us to want to find the solution for them.  However, it can be so difficult that sometimes we want to find the solution for them long distance. What do I mean by this?  I mean that sometimes, we don’t actually want to help. We just want the person to feel better so that we can cease to be uncomfortable.  When death hits (and it doesn’t have to involve a physical death. It can be the death of a relationship, death of a job, etc.), the bereaved is now changed.  They are no longer who they once were prior to this death. We are ok with the initial impact.  I mean, it’s to be expected that you are different. That’s one of the reasons everyone gathers immediately after a death.  Everyone gathers the day of and leading up to the funeral. They’re calling. Sending flowers. Bringing food. Stopping by.  They show up without prompting.  It just makes sense.  But you know what happens?  The funeral comes. There may even be a repast. But it inevitably ends and everyone scatters back home to their normal lives while the bereaved are left to deal alone.  This is when the change really hits.  And let me just say something about change.  Change tends to occur successively, meaning that your change affects me.  I will have to adjust accordingly to your change; thereby creating a change in me. A lot of us are resistant to change. So we want you to do whatever you can to get through this so you can go back to being who you were before so that I can go back to being the way I was before.  But that’s not really how life works.  And deep down we know this.  So we want to help. We say we will help. But what happens a lot of time is that we don’t actually help.  And we actually put the onus on you to get our help.  What does this look like? Thanks for asking.  Allow me to paint the picture for you.  It goes something like this. “I’m so sorry.  If you need anything, and I do mean ANYTHING, don’t hesitate to call.” Do you see? That now puts the responsibility of the bereaved for supporters to actually support.

I heard this a few times when my dad passed away. I also heard it a lot at the funeral I attended over the weekend.  I have even said it myself.  But what I know today is that it’s such a callous thing to say.  You’re basically telling the bereaved that you don’t have any real plans to show up for them beyond this moment.  How do I know this? Because I’ve experienced it.  I have never felt more alone in my life than I did after my dad passed away.  All the people who were committed to being around enjoying benefits when my dad was alive were nowhere to be found for me when my father passed.  I’ve said this to a few and they actually implied that it’s my fault that they didn’t offer anything because I didn’t say anything.  As far as they are concerned, I seemed fine and if I wasn’t fine, then it was up to me to say so.  In another instance, I might actually agree. After all, closed mouths don’t get fed, do they?  But I have to disagree here because death is a different game.  You see, sometimes people are hurting so much that they don’t even know what they need.  They don’t even know to speak up to say Hey, I’m hurting.  Sometimes they hurt so much that they retreat, act out, or do their best to numb the pain.  Sometimes they don’t want to burden anyone.  Their inability to speak up regarding their pain is in no way an admission that it doesn’t exist.  It simply means they just are unable to speak up.  I think it’s actually unfair for those of us who are not in pain to blame the bereaved for being in pain.  We all have had our moment with pain. And if you haven’t, just wait. Your moment will come.  Some of us may behave in way that others of us cannot understand. It’s easy to say If it were me, I’d just speak up, when you are not in pain. The truth is, you don’t know what you would do.  You don’t know how you will feel.  And sometimes, neither does the bereaved.  Grief can be such a confusing process and we don’t really give those who are bereaved the time they need to go through it.  We expect sadness at the funeral. But we also expect them to dry their eyes and return to normal and that’s so unfair.  Stop telling people in bereavement to call you if they need anything. Stop leaving them hanging once the funeral ends.  Continue to check on them.  Continue to be there for them without prompting.  You don’t have to fix it for them because the truth is you can’t.  But you can show up. You can support.

After my father died, my cousin would randomly send me bible verses via text.  I would never know when they were coming, but they came faithfully for over a year.  He actually still sends them to this day.  I would cry as I read them.  Sometimes I still do.  After a while, I began to look forward to them.  He didn’t know it at the time, (hell neither did I!), but those text messages helped me so much.  That gesture said so much to me and I appreciated it in a way that my words didn’t allow me to say, until about a year ago.  Don’t interpret the silence of one in bereavement to mean they’re ok.  Don’t be in such a rush to be comfortable that you fail to support.  We will all need it at some point in our lives.

Just Don’t Say Nothing

I don’t like funerals.  I actually can’t stand them.  My people have been notified that there is to be no funeral in my honor when I leave this realm–lest they suffer through me haunting them all the days of their lives.  And I will too.  I just never liked the feeling they evoke.  I don’t know what your beliefs are, but I just feel like death is not sad for the departed.  It’s sad for those of us who remain.  Some have gotten the bright idea to call a funeral a home going service. Yet, that hasn’t seemed to change the feeling a funeral elicits for me.  I do my best to not attend funerals because I hate them so much. But when it calls I go.  A very close friend of my family recently passed away.  She was so close to our family that she actually felt more like family than some people I’m actually related to.  Her funeral was held over this past weekend and I did attend.  I attended to support those who remained and I was left with the same feeling I always have. I just don’t like funerals.

However, I’m not really talking about funerals today.  Today I want to talk about how many of us call ourselves comforting those who are bereaved.  I’ve been on the receiving end of it and I have to say, people you aren’t very good at consoling. And you know what? It’s ok.  There really is nothing that you can possibly say or do to ease the pain that death elicits.  So don’t try. Just offer a hug, a pat on the back. Food. Food is good.  But there are just some things that we need to stop saying to those who are bereaved.  I wrote a list and here it is.

  1. Be strong. What in the hell does this mean? What do you mean? Do you even know what you mean?  Why are you telling me this?  How exactly do you “Be strong” after a loved one dies any way?
  2. This too shall pass.  You don’t say? Isn’t that exactly why I’m sad, because my loved one passed away?
  3. Everything happens for a reason.  Is this really supposed to make me feel better?  I honestly don’t give two dead flies smashed as to what the reason is my loved one is now dead.  All I know is that they are dead and I don’t want them to be. Like Rick James with Charlie Murphy’s couch, Eff your reasons!
  4. Don’t cry.  Now this is one of the most asinine things I’ve ever heard.  I’m hurt. I’m in pain. What do you do when you’re hurting and in pain? You cry! Why are you telling me not to cry?  What do you suggest I do then?
  5. I know how you feel.  No you don’t. And it’s ok that you don’t.  You may be able to empathize with me and that is awesome.  While I’m hurting too much to grasp that right now, it is nice to know that. However, you don’t know how I feel.  You know how you felt when your loved one passed away.  That’s not the same.
  6. At least they’re not suffering anymore.  I get that this is an attempt to console and I actually understand it. But in the immediate moments after experiencing the death of a loved one, I don’t want to hear that.  At least they were STILL here to possibly get better.  Look here, death is a most rude visitor who doesn’t give two sh*ts about suffering or not. When it’s time to go, death is taking  you.  I don’t feel better right now hearing this.
  7. Think of all the good times you shared.  Yes, I have. And that’s exactly why I’m so sad right now.  There will be no more good times to share.
  8. Well think of *insert Momma, daughter, best friend, spouse,etc.*  They’re suffering more right now.  What the hell? This is by far the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.  You’re actually comparing the pain between all of us who are in bereavement?  For why?  There is no prize to be won in maxing out pain or suffering. We are all more than just the one role we fill in another’s life.  To quote R.E.M., “Everybody hurts.”
  9. They’re in a better place.  I really do understand why this would be a go-to. But at the moment, I don’t want to hear this.  All I know is that my preferred place for them would be right here and they are not here.
  10. And finally, the dreaded How are  you?    Why are you asking me this?  How in the hell do you think I am?  I’m sad, mad, stunned, numb, crazy, and a host of other emotions I can’t even put into words right now.

I don’t say any of this to be judgmental.  I do believe that people mean well when they say these things.  Death brings with it a lot of uncomfortable feelings.  And we don’t like being uncomfortable. The most logical thing to do when we feel discomfort is to find (or try to find) some way to ease the discomfort.  I get it.  But when it comes to death, there is no way around the discomfort.  You can only go through it.  Furthermore, as I’ve said earlier, there really is nothing that you can say or do to ease the pain one feels when they’re loved one has passed. They’re not looking for you to anyway.  So just offer a hug, “I’m sorry for your loss,” a prayer if they allow.  But don’t feel compelled to offer anything if you have nothing. Your presence alone is a gift.

This is just a brief list of things I remember hearing and things I witnessed being said at the funeral the other day. Can you think of anything that should be added to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Seems Like A Mighty Long Time

Today marks eight years since you left this realm. It’s difficult to put my feelings into words. That’s because at any given moment, there seems to be a simultaneous exchange of starkly opposite sensations or experiences. It feels like it was just yesterday I was at the hospital with mom when we received the worst news ever–that you were gone. Yet, it feels as if I’ve been living without you for so long–too long if you want to really know the truth. I marvel at how far I’ve come, as far as grief is concerned. And just as soon as I pat myself on the back, waves of pain will come crashing down upon me. Like I’ve said, it’s difficult to put into words. I guess it’s best for me to start at the beginning and work my way up to today.

That initial moment after your passing stays with me. Hearing mom ask the doctor as she looked sadly upon us, “He’s gone, isn’t he?” and watching her face as the realization that you were indeed gone settled was heart wrenching. I remember screaming “No! No! No!” over and over again, thinking if I said it loud enough that I could reverse it and you wouldn’t be gone. I spent the next days of my life in a haze. One minute I could be seemingly fine, and broken down beyond repair the next. I settled into a grief-riddled depression after that. The pain was too intense. There was just no way I could go on without you. There was no way I could live another day without hearing you shout “What’s gwoings?” or “Hey Daughter!” It hurt too much to know that The Fizzle wouldn’t get to grow up with you. I didn’t want to go on. At least that’s what I thought back then. Today I know I just didn’t want to FEEL. The feelings were too intense. I wanted to die. Yes. That was the answer. That was the only way to stop this disrespectful attack of grief. So I wrestled with the idea of taking my own life. I concocted a few plans, but I could never seem to go through with any of them. Was that you stopping me? I’m not sure, but I’m glad that I didn’t go through with any of my plans.

So that left me with soldiering on. I just had to get up every day and keep living. I didn’t like it. Not one bit. But I did it anyway. I didn’t feel like I had any reason to keep going, save for The Fizzle. She became my reason for living. Gradually, I was able to find another reason to keep going–to be a living demonstration of your legacy. After all, I’m your only child. I’m all that’s left of you. It was up to me to keep your name going. I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to keep your legacy going. I think I put more pressure on me than you did during my childhood. Who would think that’s possible? I stressed myself out. I heard your voice criticizing me every time I felt like I was failing. Then one day you came to me in a dream and told me to “Chillax.” You told me that I didn’t need to put this pressure on myself because you did your work and now it was up to me to do my own work. More than that, you let me know that your legacy isn’t your comedy, or your movies, or anything related to your fame. You told me that I’m your legacy. You told me that The Fizzle is your legacy and out of everything you’ve done, you were most proud to be my dad.

And that allowed me to let go. I had to let go of you. I didn’t want to because I thought letting go of you was me saying that I was forgetting about you. I thought it was disrespectful. But I realized that it wasn’t about letting go in a sense that I’m saying you are not an integral part of me. It was about letting go of the attachment that I had to the past. I couldn’t let go of the desire to hang on to what was. I wouldn’t be able to embrace anything new if I kept holding on to the past. I had to detach. After all, you had. You had transformed. You were no longer saddled with the baggage of the human costume. You were beyond it. I knew you were right. You did your work. And now it was time for me to do my own work. And I could do my work. I could do my work while walking upon the foundation that you so lovingly laid down for me. How blessed am I?

Daddy, I have been through so much since you left. There have been so many tears, so many doubts, so many regrets. But there have also been so much more. So many smiles, so many laughs, and so much love. And you have been a part of it all. It’s because of you I am. It’s because of you The Fizzle is. We talk about you at least once a day–not in an effort to not let go, but more so to make sure that we recognize that your death doesn’t negate your life. Thank you so much for all you did while you were here. And thank you so much for what you do from beyond.

I used to dread August 9th. I used to go through severe insomnia leading up to the day. I would become depressed. In an effort to combat it, I would try to do all kind of things that were in stark contrast to depression. I’ve gone skydiving. I’ve released balloons in your honor. I’ve danced. I don’t feel like I have to do that anymore. Now I feel like all of that was in a way celebrating your death. I had unknowingly created a shrine to the day. Your physical death took up so much space in my mental memory. Today, I acknowledge the day, but I don’t need to celebrate it. And therein lies the beauty of the birth, death, rebirth cycle. While it can seem like you are losing so much in death, you actually gain so much as well. Again, all I can say is thank you. Now I can’t lie. I miss you. I miss you a lot. But I can honestly admit that I love you more. As you used to say, my love for you is non-transferable and I love you from the top and the bottom of my heart.

Always,

Your Boops

Defensive Living

Happy Friday!  Well, Saturday now. My apologies for this late post, but I had some severe technological issues yesterday that prevented me from posting this yesterday. But what is a delay, save for a chance to try again? So here we go. Remember when you were learning to drive?  Remember hearing this term, defensive driving?  I do. I was taught that it meant that I needed to drive under the expectation that other drivers could possibly cause harm to my vehicle–either through illegal turns, running red lights, lane changes, etc.  I needed to be alert and aware that danger lurked behind the wheel of every vehicle and driving was a dangerous task.  As I ponder that idea, it has occurred to me that I was taught the same thing about life.  I wasn’t taught that life is full of joy and love.  On the contrary, I was taught that life is hard and full of struggle and danger.  I was taught that I needed to live defensively–being aware that any and almost every body in my life meant me harm and I needed to protect myself from said hard.  It has permeated every facet of my life, save for Motherhood.  I grew up expecting the worst from others–even in the most benign of situations.  It’s strange to think about now because I wonder how much more could I have enjoyed life (and my father as well) if I’d recognized this sooner? Just think about it. Defensive driving makes sense, but defensive living? I’m not so sure. I’m not saying that there isn’t danger in the world.  I recognize that it exists. However, I know for me, life hasn’t been nearly as bad as I’ve anticipated it to be.  And I’m not so sure that living defensively (not to be mistaken for living on the edge), has served me as well as I intended.

 

 

 

 

*About a month ago, I spoke about how we can actually become addicted to the negative experiences in our lives and this is one of the ways it can begin.

Heal That Masculine, Man!

Happy Friday!  What a wonderful time it is.  It’s Father’s Day weekend and I feel like that’s a wonderful time to celebrate men.  I love men.  I can admit that I haven’t always been able to say that. However, I’m so grateful that I can say that now.  I think Father’s Day is a wonderful time for us to examine and begin to take the steps to heal our relationship with the masculine because for many of us, the wounds we have in our relationship with the masculine are rooted with our relationship with our fathers.  That’s why I’m not speaking today of the absent dads–the ones who couldn’t (for whatever reason) be the men we needed.  The story is told so much.  I think it’s time for a new narrative. Although, I will sidebar right now and wish love and joy to all of those whose dad was absent.  I’m sorry he wasn’t there.  I’m sorry he wasn’t what you needed.  I hope you are at peace now, and if not, I hope you are on your way to finding peace.

So , as I was saying, dad’s (and men in general) have gotten a bad rep over the years, and it’s time to release those old ideas that no longer serve.  Men are great.  Men are vital.  After all, women may make the world go round, but men are the axis upon which it spins.  Happy Father’s Day to all the dads!

My Bad Date

I went on a date two weeks ago.  That might not seem news worthy to you, but those who know me are aware of what a big deal this was.  I haven’t been on a date in . . . let’s just say awhile.  Not because I’m not interested in dating, but the opportunity just hasn’t presented itself.  You see, I don’t get approached very often by men.  When I am approached, I’m usually approached by older gentlemen.  And by older, I mean they’ve been proud card carrying members of AARP for at least 15 years–and that’s not usually the median.  Hey, I’m not knocking that.  My daddy was an AARP member before he passed. But that’s just the thing.  I don’t have the Daddy issues that would allow me to feel comfortable going out with one of these Sugar Daddies. Well I hope they would intend to be a Sugar Daddy coming at me with that. But anyway! I’m getting off topic. Back to the date.   So I was minding my own business at the gas station when a nice looking gentlemen drove up and complimented my leggings.  I didn’t think anything of it.  I smiled and said, “Thank you.” He continued to compliment me and then asked for my number.  I was caught completely off guard, but I acquiesced and gave my number.  He called just a few hours later and asked me out that night.  I didn’t know whether to be flattered or concerned.  (I told you it’s been a while).  But I agreed.  Again, those that know me are aware of what a huge deal this is.  As a matter of fact, my god sis and a couple of my friends were quite amazed at my revelation.  Now I wasn’t quite like Prince Akeem proclaiming to the young girls on the stoop that I have a date with Lisa, but I was excited by the idea of a man being nice to me, taking me out, and showing me a good time.

I’m not one of those who get swept up in the rapture of imagination.  One date did not a love match make for me.  So I’m saying my expectations were in check. Let’s just go out and see how it goes.  Talking with him on the phone held promise, so I figured odds were good that I would have a good time. After all, positive thoughts usually yield positive results, right?  Well, let me just say, positively thinking for the best did not  a successful date make. It was a disaster! I felt like a piece of meat on the chop block for the most carnivorous of  carnivores.  He kept referring to how sexy I am.  Now, don’t get me wrong. A compliment can be very nice. And I’ll admit that as a woman, yes I want to be seen as attractive by the opposite sex. But there is a point where one can go too far and the compliment doesn’t seem that . . . well, complimenting.  The guy went past that point.  It went downhill when after dinner he proclaimed, “Well since we didn’t order dessert, that means you’ll have to be dessert.”  Bruh! No. Just no.  We went to a movie after dinner and he basically assaulted my mouth the entire time. Think Charlotte from the “No Ifs, Ands or Butts” episode of Sex and the City when she dated the bad kisser and proclaimed, “He raped my chin!”  While he didn’t rape my chin, he did ram his tongue down my throat, and kept ramming said tongue down my throat.  I think he thought it was sexy.  It wasn’t though.  I kept pulling away, but that only seemed to make him think it was meant for him to go harder.  Again, it was horrible.  Other horrible mentions for the night included him proclaiming to me that he was keeping me for the night.  For the record, he wasn’t nor did he.  He also asked me what he was going to do when he introduced me to his mama’nem.  Yeah again, No. Just no.  He also looked down at my feet and called telling me “Looks like I”m going to be sucking on some toes tonight” a compliment.  Again, I just have to say that it was bad.  Now, I’m not knocking anyone who thinks any of this was good. But for me, this was not good.  None of it was good.  I couldn’t wait to get in my car and drive away.

Of course, my girlfriends all got a wonderful hearty laugh at my expense.  My god sis actually just stopped bringing it up.  Aside from that, this little story here isn’t really about the guy or the bad date.  I’m someone who approaches everything in life from a “What’s in this for me?” stand point.  I believe there’s always a lesson that can be learned if we pay enough attention.  While I wholeheartedly believe the date was horrible,  I have to say I did get a lesson.  I learned that it’s time for me to stop playing small when it comes to the opposite sex.  I’ve been so focused on being Mommy and getting my ducks in a row for myself that I have been closed off from men. My god sis is always telling me that men look at me but I never seem to notice.  I’ve been unintentionally sending off invisible smoke signals that indicate to men to keep on walking.

The other thing I learned is that I’m uncomfortable with being seen by men.  Before it became pervy, I was taken aback by the compliments guy was giving me because it just doesn’t occur to me that I’m seen as attractive.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have low self esteem where I’m looking like Little Quacker from Tom & Jerry, with a bag over my head proclaiming, “I’m so ugly.” But I do struggle with the idea that people see me as attractive–especially men.  It’s a bit unnerving when people compliment me on my looks.  I don’t know why, but it is.  When I see an attractive man, I don’t even bother to show interest because my first thought is, “He’s probably not interested in me anyway.”  So this experience taught me that it’s time for me to get comfortable receiving.  I need to get comfortable receiving time, attention, compliments, and genuine interest.  I’m so accustomed to giving. I will give beyond what I am able because giving just feels natural to me.  I will give until it doesn’t feel good to give anymore. And what do I do then?  I give some more. My scales of balance are off.  It’s time to get them back in balance.  So I guess I can’t say the date was all bad.  Well, yeah I can, but at least I can also say something good came out of it for me.

 

 

When I Reminisce Over You

Dear 16 year-old Je’Niece,

I look at you today with eyes that have seen so much more than you. That’s not to say that you haven’t seen your fair share of life. But these eyes of mine have seen more than the visions of sugar plums that are currently dancing around in your head. These eyes of mine have seen you achieve your highest highs and your lowest lows. And I have to say to you, based on the road traveled, this 38 year-old woman owes you a sincere apology.

I have blamed you for so much. I blamed you for not speaking up when necessary in this life. I have blamed you for all my failures and disappointments. I have blamed you for not being perfect. I stopped seeing the beauty and wonder that existed within you, and instead only saw how you failed to measure up to this ideal that I thought should have existed. In short, and I’m almost ashamed to admit this now, I hated you. I hated you, 16 year-old Je’Niece. It has taken me all this time to see and admit this.

And just where did this hatred begin? I don’t think there is one exact moment that serves as the definitive one. No. Instead, I think it was a gradual process. An unfortunate seed that was planted, fertilized and watered over the course of one year. The seed germinated until it infected every area of your life. Let’s see, at the age of 16, you lost your virginity. You didn’t really want to. But you didn’t know how to say that. You wanted to be liked, and so you acquiesced. Your religious foundation left you feeling damaged and unworthy after engaging in such a sinful act. You felt guilty beyond repair. It didn’t help that you would vacillate from saying you would never have sex again to dismissing that declaration without much thought. And then it happened. The one thing you never thought would happen to you. You became pregnant. Prior to your pregnancy, you looked your nose down at the young pregnant girls you saw walking around. And then you became one of them. This discovery left you devastated. After all, this wasn’t supposed to happen to you. This was the sort of thing that happened to “fast” girls, but it wasn’t supposed to happen to you because you were supposed to be a “good” girl–a “smart” girl. You should have known better. And there was no way you could have ever told your father. No way! So that left you with only one choice. Abortion. Yep, you had an abortion. This one choice sent you further into the abyss of despair, guilt and shame. This choice followed you and the shame permeated your every choice after that. You didn’t believe you deserved anything good. You told yourself you deserved to be punished. And you unconsciously set out to make sure that you were.

So you accepted ill-treatment from others because you didn’t believe you deserved to be treated better. You lived in fear instead of love because you didn’t think you deserved the fruits of love and joy. You didn’t seek out your dreams because again, you didn’t deserve to have your dreams come true. In short, you resigned yourself to a life of just enough. Just enough to get by. Just enough to wear a half-hearted smile to cover your true shame. Just enough to create the illusion that you were ok. Just enough to continue to buy the bs you were selling to every one else. You walked in fear that you would be found out. I mean, if people only knew the truth, they’d know what a sham you were. Right?

No. Wrong, My Dear.   And I’m sorry I didn’t know any of this back then. I blamed you for so much. I bullied you. I treated you so badly. So these eyes of mine tear a little when they look at you now, because these eyes have seen so much and they see so much more clearly than your young ones. These eyes of mine see so much beauty and strength and grace. My goodness, young woman, you are powerful beyond measure! You carried all of that on your shoulders–alone–and still managed to graduate a year early from high school with honors, go on to college and grad school, get married, raise a baby, and have love in your heart for others! You never allowed the light within to truly dim. You need to know that all of that is a sign of strength.

So yes, I have to say sorry. I used to look at you and hate what I saw. I used to think you were pathetic and weak and could have been so much more. I’m so sorry because I now know I couldn’t have been more wrong. Looking at you now leaves me with so much gratitude. It’s because of you that I stand here today. Your strength brought me this far.  So yes, thank you, 16 year-old Je’Niece! If I could, I’d give you the biggest, warmest, heartiest hug you have ever had. But since I can’t, allow me to say something I wish I’d said a long time ago. I love you.

In The Game of Life, Someone Must Win and Someone Must Lose . . . Or Really?

Happy Friday! It’s a beautiful day to be alive! I didn’t always feel that way, and truth be told, sometimes I still have to give myself that reminder. But it’s the truth. If you’re here, you have to know and trust that you’re here for a reason–and not just cause your Momma and Daddy got busy. They were all part of the design to get you here. Do you realize how special and amazing that is? It’s ok if you don’t right now. Just promise me that you will get around to recognizing that sooner rather than later, ok?

Today’s video is inspired by My Fizzle. She loves to play the board game, Life. Problem is, I don’t love playing with her. She is ultra competitive and she cheats! She really does! She’s also a hater. She hates on you the entire time we’re playing. She doesn’t want anyone to make more money than she does, get married before her, have babies before her. None of it! But watching her play reminded me so much of how a lot of us walk around playing this actual game of life. We fell into the trap of thinking there are limited resources that only a select few of us can have access to. We hate on others for having and being more than we perceive ourselves to have and be. But what if just like Morpheus told Neo, I told you that the reality you’re choosing to believe is false? What if none of that were true and there was enough for everyone? How, then, would you view yourself and others? Hmm . . . something to really ponder, isn’t it? You keep pondering that and let me know what you come up with. Love ya!

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