Salutations! Naw, that doesn’t sound happy enough. Hey! I’m sending all my good vibes your way because I appreciate you so much for joining me here on this space. Today is good. It’s cold in Chicago, but the sun is out. So I’m taking my silver lining. Today’s video was inspired by a conversation I was having with one of my besties. She and I are so in sync we actually activate one another. We’re like the Wonder Twins . . . Activate! So whenever I’m thinking about something, it tends to come up in our conversations and I take that as confirmation that I’m on the right track. We were talking about life and relationships and how we mere mortals have such difficulty with the endings of a relationship. We all know they have a beginning, a middle, and an end. But something about that end gets to us. We just don’t like it. But the reality is, every relationship we create in our lives won’t be one that we ride all the way to our physical death. And I’m not speaking of merely romantic relationships. What is it about the end of things that make us so uncomfortable? And we needn’t fret. No we need not. Because the end usually signifies the beginning of something else. Hmmm . . . let’s ponder that for a minute, shall we?
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.
Happy, Magical Friday! You may wonder why I am calling it magical. Well, it’s because you’re here. And I don’t say that lightly. Believe me, I struggle quite often with seeing myself and this world as magical. There are days when I’m feeling anything but magical. There are days when I just want to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed because it feels better than the alternatives. And I can honestly say that I’ve had more of those days than many people believe. And then something happens. My daughter may say something that sends a surge of love through me. Someone I love may call me and give me the exact message I needed to hear at that moment. I may even read a book that speaks to my soul. And I’m reminded of the beauty that lies within. I’m reminded that life is bigger than my feelings. I’m reminded that Honey, it’s not that life is magical. No, it’s that I’m the magic! And so are you. And then I get up and remember like L’oreal says, “I’m worth it.”
Hey there! I know I have been so inconsistent with my posts. But I’ve been in a really contemplative state. So this is the time of year when I do a lot of work–not necessarily manual labor, but more spiritual. I spend a lot of time working on myself, releasing old habits and things that no longer serve; learning new more serving ideologies, methods, etc. and incorporating them into my life.
As I look forward to releasing this here year of 2015, I was faced with the questions of “What is your truth? And how did you find it?” Well don’t you know those are some darn tootin’ good questions?! And I was really happy to have been asked them because it allowed me the space to answer. Soooo . . . Here’s what I was able to gather for myself. But what about you? What’s your truth? And how did you find it?
I’m late. I’m late. For a very important date! Well, not really. But I feel as if I shouldn’t have waited so long to post today. I really meant to do this earlier. However, this California dreaming has got me in a different state of mind. It’s been so nice to leave my cares behind–albeit temporarily. So that’s yet another reason why I’m grateful today. Interestingly enough, I’m no more thankful today because it’s Thanksgiving than I’ve been every day before. I am just in a state of gratitude. Life certainly hasn’t been a crystal stair (Oh Langston, you wordsmith you!), but it hasn’t been as bad as I’ve felt it’s been at some of my darkest moments. The great thing about it has been that when I’ve felt it wasn’t worth living, once I just kept living (kind of like Dory told us to just keep swimming), the feeling passed and there was another feeling. It’s made me understand that life isn’t about any one particular feeling, experience, or moment. No! It’s about the collective. And just think, I’m not even done. Yeah, as Tina Turner once sang, I think it’s gonna work out fine. So here’s today’s gratitude.
Today’s gratitude is interesting for me because it is just so fitting. I truly didn’t plan this–and yet isn’t that the beauty of life? Since my dad has passed, the holidays don’t mean the same to me. I don’t “celebrate” them as I once did. I’m more about appreciating the moments which add to the collective experience of my life. My dad was such a wonderful teacher, and the lessons haven’t stopped because of his passing.
On this day I am grateful for my dad. But today I want to say that I’m grateful for not just his life, but also his death. Of course I’m not happy that he’s no longer here. But after 5 years of mourning, I can see the beauty in the midst of the pain. It’s that beauty that I’m grateful for today. I’ve said before that my dad was my soul mate, and I really believe he was. I’m convinced we’ve shared many lifetimes together. I was and still am in awe of him. He was unlike any other person I have ever known–beside myself. When I look back now, it’s amazing to me how much we mirrored one another. From our sharp wit to our sensitivity (Yes believe it or not, The Mac Man was extremely sensitive), we were carbon copies. Now that I get that, I can totally understand why and how my father could work my last nerves better than anyone’s business. In his absence, that’s what I miss most. He was my button puncher, and I his. I’ll admit that I didn’t always understand him. He spoke in ways that seemed so far above my pay grade. He would speak in codes and riddles. He would tell me “You don’t understand what I’m saying to you right now, but one day you will.” I, being like any normal daughter, would mumble under my breath “No I won’t” and I truly thought that I meant it. But he, being the wise sage that he was, was absolutely correct. I didn’t understand much of what he said until he passed away. A veil of fear, uncertainty, and insecurity shrouded my vision of my life. It wasn’t until my dad passed that the veil began to lift. I can’t accurately describe it, but all of a sudden, I could see everything so clearly. And everything he’d ever talked about made sense or came to fruition.
When my dad was alive, I learned to play the supporting cast member. I stayed quietly (and happily) in the background. And I had no complaints. After all, he was the one who always wanted to be famous. It was just his personality. And as much as we were alike, I bought into the notion that we were different in that respect. I didn’t want fame. I didn’t want to be the center of attention. It’s amazing to me how unaware I was of my own self. After my dad’s death, I felt like I was catapulted into the spotlight. Suddenly there were cameras in my face. People were recognizing me. It was so uncomfortable and I resisted. In my resistance, I tried to make everything about him. I started working with his foundation, convinced that it was my duty because his legacy needed to continue and who else but his only child could take it on? What I didn’t realize is that was just my way of carrying out my same pattern of hiding. If I could make everything about my dad, I wouldn’t have to deal with myself. I would talk to my dad everyday. One day I was at home talking to him about how unhappy I was with the foundation. It just wasn’t what I wanted to do. I asked for his guidance. I pleaded for him to help me. That night he came to me in a dream. He told me how proud he was of me. He told me how much he loved me. And he told me that it was time for me to live for me. He said, “Boops, you’ve spent your whole life doing what you think everyone else wants you to do. Now it’s time for you to do what you want to do. This is your life. Don’t’ worry about me. I’m fine. I did what I needed to do. Now what did I tell you about letting folks steal your mojo? ” I realized then that my father’s legacy was/is in tact because of the work he did here on earth. His job is done. And above all else, his legacy will continue because of me. I am his legacy. Jasmine is his legacy. There’s nothing I need to do for him. I need to create my legacy. The next morning, I told my mother I was leaving the foundation. Once I did, doors started opening that I’d never expected. I received a call from some producers of a new TV show, which would be called Windy City Live. They asked me to audition, and I did. I was scared out of my mind, but I did it. After my audition, one of the producers pulled me aside and said, “You know, for someone without any experience, you’re a natural in front of the camera.” And while I didn’t get the job, they still continue to call me for appearances. More than that, they helped me to see how capable I am. A producer by the name of Robert Small wanted to do a documentary about my dad. While working on it, he called because he wanted me to conduct some of the interviews. And I did. While we were working together he told me “Je’Niece you are really talented. You have a real career in this industry if you want it.” I’ve traveled across the country speaking in front of audiences. I’ve been on radio. I started a blog. I’m not sure I would have been able to do any of this if my dad were still alive. It’s this very thing that I’m grateful for. As much as I miss my dad, I recognize that the transformation that I’ve undergone is a direct result of his passing. When my dad died, I was devastated. I felt like I lost so much. But now that I’m on this side of my grief, I can see the picture in a broader view. Sometimes things in our life are torn down in a most ugly and painful way in order to create anew something beautiful. That’s what happened to me when my dad died. Yes I did lose some things when he died, but now I know that I also found some things. I found my voice. I found my truth. I found myself. I’m not at all sure of what lies ahead of me, but I know that it is something(s) I would have never imagined possible. Beyond that, I’m no longer scared of the possibilities. Daddy, you know how much I love you. I am so thankful for the 30 years that we were able to spend together. You were the most amazing person I’ve ever known (besides Jasmine) and it was and still is an honor to say that I’m your daughter. I thank you for everything that you’ve given me–in life, and even in your death. I am because of you and that means more than I could ever say.
*Reading this today actually brought tears to my eyes. Two years have passed since I wrote this and I must admit I’ve forgotten some of these things at times. But I find my way back to the truth–or either my dad keeps bringing it my way. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it’s the latter..*
I’m still in the Gratitude spirit. What I realized yesterday after I posted is that I’m not in this space because Thanksgiving is almost upon us. I actually keep forgetting that Thanksgiving is next week. When my dad passed, I really lost my connection to the pagan holidays that once meant so much to me. I decided that I didn’t want to give any one day so much more meaning than my other days. Now don’t get me wrong. I look forward to the “excuse” to gather with loved ones, eat good food, and just chillax. But I don’t need a holiday to do that. I’m actually in the spirit of Gratitude because it just feels good. It feels good to change my perspective from one of complaining and longing for what I don’t have into one of appreciation and excitement over what I do. Lending that gratitude spirit to the seemingly “bad” things that have happened in my life only magnifies the gooey goodness I feel. So onward to my gratitude for this second day.
On this day, I am grateful to my ex husband and our really not so great marriage. 5 years ago, I made a very difficult decision to end my marriage. I was married for 6 years (we were together for 9 years) and while that seems like a lifetime ago, I still remember many, many things about that relationship. I refer to that time in my life as the Dark Ages. Most people hear me say that and think I am saying it as an affront to my ex husband. But I am not. They were the Dark Ages because I was in the dark. I was so unaware of my identity. I had no idea who I was, what I wanted, or where I was going. During that time, I needed others to validate me and tell me like L’Oreal, that “I’m worth it”. When you operate from such a low vibration, you tend to attract people who do the opposite of what you wish. And so, my ex husband was no exception. I don’t think he truly appreciated or respected me. Yet that was not solely his fault. I was the one who told him that he didn’t have to. Oh of course my mouth said otherwise. However, everything else about me said that it was ok to disrespect, disregard, and undervalue me. My time with my ex husband was some of the most miserable time in my life. And I say that not because of him, but because of me. I settled because I didn’t think I deserved to be loved and appreciated. I became the master at smiling on the outside while slowly dying on the inside. I was so full of guilt, shame, and self-loathing that I unconsciously decided that I needed to be punished. I only wanted men who would treat me as poorly as I so erroneously believed I deserved. It may sound crazy to some, but today, I am so thankful for my ex husband and our dysfunctional marriage because my time with him showed me what an injustice I was creating against myself. I remember in my vows, I said to him that he was an excellent teacher because with him I had learned what it truly meant to love. I still stand by that for he really did teach me how to truly love myself. Through my marriage, I learned that it was ok to say no. I learned that there is nothing honorable in martyring myself. The true honor is in recognizing and standing lovingly in my own power. And so, because of my ex husband, I am a better woman for myself, for our daughter, and for the man who is truly meant for me. I’m also thankful to my ex husband because I know what it feels like to have my father walk me down the aisle and give me away. Had I not married when I did, I may not have ever had that experience. Because of my ex husband, I have the most precious child I could ever know. He helped me create the most beautiful person I’ve ever known and I will forever be thankful for that. Also, in part to my ex husband, my father was able to experience the pure joy of being a grandfather. He enjoyed 18 months of sheer bliss with his grand baby, and he may not have ever had that without my ex husband. Regardless of any of my personal feelings about him and how he treated me, he served as a wonderful mirror and teacher to me. My time may not have been the best with him, but my life is certainly better because of him. I count it all joy because of the woman I have become. There was a time when all I could think of was the “wasted time” I spent with him. But today, I know better. Today, I am thankful for all the preparation that I experienced during my time with my ex husband. Instead of looking back at it thinking Why did I? What was I thinking? Why did it take me so long? I look back and say Thank you for all the lessons, all the ups and downs because now I know better. And because I know bettter, I do better and am better. So thanks be to him.
*As I mentioned yesterday, I wrote this 2 years ago. So now it’s been 7 years since my divorce and I still feel this way.*
If you know me, you know that my daughter. The Fizzle, as I affectionately call her, is the love of my life. I love her in a space where there are no words. But, as much as I love her, that love is not enough to sustain me. If I did nothing else but love her and be her Mom, I would die unfulfilled. Now, before you write me off as a selfish Mommy, hear me out.
I said that I love her. She is the love of my life. However, my love for her cannot shade my divine soul purpose. I know that I was put here on this Earth to do something beyond motherhood. That’s not a mark against motherhood though. I think that being The Fizzle’s mom is one of the most rewarding roles I will ever fill. What I’m saying is that it’s not my only role.
When the Fizzle was first born, I was overwhelmed. I had this image in my head of what being a mother was supposed to entail. I was so fixated upon this image that I overwhelmed myself. I felt bad if I let her cry for too long. I felt bad when she cried even after I’d crossed off all the important items on the baby comfort checklist: fed and burped her, changed her diaper, had her at appropriate temperature. I simply felt like a failure. I can’t even say that I put myself last because I didn’t even put myself on the list. I fell into the trap of thinking that a good Mommy is one who martyrs herself for the sake of her child. And as a result, I was tired and miserable. I remember one particular day when I was just spent. I had nothing left. The Fizzle was only maybe 3-4 months old. She was crying and so was I. I had done everything I could think to soothe her, and was unsuccessful. So I put her in her crib and closed the door. I decided I would go downstairs just to collect myself. I couldn’t even make it down the stairs. I fell on one of the steps and simply cried. I remember saying, “I know I wanted to be a mother. This is what I wanted. But I didn’t think it would look like this.” Well the problem was that in my vision of motherhood, I was showing up every day. But in the reality of it, I was not. I was failing to show up for myself. I demoted myself in this world as just a Mom. And in doing so, I signed myself up to feel inadequate and to not take up my rightful place in this world.
I thought about my daughter and all that I wanted for her. I wanted so much for her. I wanted her to be and have everything that she wanted. And I believed that she could do it. So how is it that I could have all this faith in her, yet none for myself? And how exactly did I expect her to do whatever she wanted if I didn’t model that for her? How unfair I was being to the both of us. I was being unfair to myself by failing to show up for myself in every way. I was being unfair to my daughter by placing an unrealistic burden on her to be my everything. While it makes for catchy song lyrics, she was not, in fact, all I needed to get by. No one person can ever truly fulfill another—not even a child. To ask one to do so is selfish in my opinion, so I won’t. That is far too great a task to ask of my precious child. And I love her (and me) too much to do that.
No, I couldn’t ask that of my baby. Mommy needed to get on with the business of living for both of us. And that meant that I needed to engage my innate gifts and talents. That meant that I needed to admit that I had dreams that needed fulfilling. And if I didn’t go on to fulfill them, what was I doing with my life? And just like that, I gave up the ghost of martyrdom. I stopped telling myself that being a good mother was all I needed to do with my life. I stopped pretending that there weren’t dreams inside of me. I made the conscious choice to dedicate myself to myself and live my truth.
I’m so grateful to my daughter for helping me to learn this lesson. She showed her Mommy the way—and she didn’t even know it (or maybe she did and I just didn’t know). And that is why I can boldly and lovingly say that which I said at the start. While I love my daughter, motherhood alone will not leave me fulfilled. My father would say to me that the world owes me nothing. It is I who owed the world. I owe it to not only myself, but also this world to put forth my best self and use the talents that I possess to leave my imprint upon this world. And that’s exactly what I’m doing.
*photo by YourMemories Photography*
Happy Magical Friday to you! I’m recuperating from my busy weekend at Key Lime Cove, celebrating my Fizzle. She had a wonderful time and that’s all that matters. But her Momma? Her Momma was, and still is, very tired. But this here show of life must go on, so onward we go. I had a conversation with my Fizzle’s teacher this week and I must say, I walked away with a lot on my mind. It brought up some issues for me–issues surrounding acceptance and being free to be oneself. Take a looksy at the video and tell me what you think. All my love to you!
Happy and Joyful Friday! I am sending you all kinds of ooey gooey love from the very depth of my heart. Not that I’m trying to inspire a living for the weekend mindset, I just think Friday can be a great day to recharge. People seem to cast their cares away on Friday, and I think it’s a great time to drop a little nugget that you can carry with you through the weekend (and Infinity and Beyond!). But that’s only should you choose to. And quite frankly, I do hope that you choose to.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance this week to tape a new Happy Friday video. However, I have a video that I recorded a few months back that I think will still be great. I ask myself a the question of what would my life look like if . . . ” While I make a point of being cautious of the if/then mentality. I think this was a great question to ask myself. I hope you’ve asked yourself the same. And even more, I hope that you’ve answered. If you haven’t yet, maybe you will after seeing this. I think it’s great to ask ourselves questions. And asking ourselves questions are great because it gives us the opportunity to actually answer ourselves. So that’s why I chose to ask myself this question. I think I even ask you at some point as well.
My only wish for you is that you live life with joy and power (the good kind, not the ego-driven stuff, cause that’s not really power anyway). And if this little blog of mine (and I’m gonna let it shine) can do inspire you to do so, then all is well with me. Have a fabulous weekend . . . And Life! Until next time! Muah!