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Putting the CL on that ASS!

A Bernie's Daughter Thing

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happiness

I saw a video today of a young lady who I truly believe had great intentions. The topic was things a woman needs to do to keep her man. I actually began to check out at the moment I heard “how to keep your man.” However, I’m working on practicing the art of non-judgment as well as being open to opinions and thoughts that differ from mine. So I watched. I was not impressed. There were some things she said that I could sort of, kind of, maybe, quite possibly agree with. However, there were more than a few things that I could not. One of those things involved fixing your man’s plate because, as she said, a man should never ever have to fix his own plate. The other thing that rubbed me the wrong was the mention that a woman should be so in tune with her man that she anticipates his needs so that he doesn’t even need to ask for what he wants. She’ll already know. Because she knows, she will do get whatever he needs.

Now, I could say I didn’t like what she said and I disagree because of sexism. I could say that I have grown tired of the trite “Wam-Bam, Get Your Man!” “Don’t Go To Sleep, If It’s Your Man You Want To Keep!” messaging geared toward women which speaks on how they need to get and keep a man. I can say it’s ridiculous to believe that one should be able to–and consequently can–read another’s mind. As if one is not responsible for speaking up for their needs and wants. I could say how illogical it is to think that it is actually possible to “keep” another person, since realistically speaking, one cannot do such a thing. People remain in relationships; and faithful or unfaithful to their beloved; by their own volition. However, those are not my issues with the video I saw today, or the many others out there like it.

No, none of those are truly my issue. I dislike and disagree with the message because I do not like the generalized nature of the message. Human beings are far too complex to simplify their behavior. While I understand that a 7 minute video, which I myself share from time to time ; ), requires one to get to the point quickly and succinctly, I cannot get with a step-by-step instructional on how to maintain a relationship. There are far too many complexities to even attempt to surmise that there is a certain number of steps that will guarantee your partner will want to remain in relationship with you. Let’s say you do all of these so-called steps, yet you and your partner part ways for reasons unrelated to those steps. Would one be able to surmise that you failed?

There is also the fact that relationships end for a multitude of reasons. Relationships are simply our very own intimate class, where we are provided opportunities for growth, death, rebirth, and more growth. Once the growth has stopped, the relationship ends. You reach a point where it is made evident that you can go no further together because you have gone as far as you can. For some, the end happens with a physical death of the body. For others, it happens when there is a death of love, trust, or respect. And yet for others, the relationship can simply change course.

The other reason I disagree is because I really dislike the transactional view of relationships. I cannot get with the idea of I’ll-scratch-your-back-if-and only if-you-scratch-mine in a relationship. I say that with the full understanding that in practical terms, there is a bit of transactional play in relationships. However, I don’t think it’s the least bit healthy to enter into relationships with the mindset of I’ll only do my part if you do yours. I think that mindset is what has cost many relationships. I’m not quite sure what it is about romantic love that makes us mere mortals lose our grip. We place a tremendous amount of pressure on our lovers and on our relationships. I think it’s far better and simpler to figure out what you desire, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what you are willing/unwilling to do within the relationship. Once you’ve done those things, then you can seek to find someone who will not only accept all of those things in you, but also take you and stretch you to your limits. Only then can you know and experience real love. And that, my friends has nothing to do with any steps or instructions. That is all an unspoken language that only the heart can speak and comprehend.

So that’s just my two little cents. I don’t say any of this to disparage the messenger or anyone who agrees. I like to chew on and digest what speaks to me and leave the rest. That’s exactly what I did today. And I wholeheartedly believe that she had the best of intentions. And there were many people who, based on their comments, agreed with her. It was touted as conventional wisdom. But as a wise man I’ve heard once said, “Conventional wisdom is usually neither conventional or wise.” And again, that’s just me.

Stripped Away Truth

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?

Gratitude Day #6

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..*

Gratitude Day #4

While I didn’t get to post my gratitudes for the past 2 days, I must say I’m still feeling quite grateful.  My daughter and I have gone to visit my best friend who moved away in August.  I’ve known her since we were 4 years old.  She’s been an integral part of my life throughout its duration.  I was quite happy when she received the amazing job opportunity in August–which is what prompted her move.  I was so excited for her and her son (who is also my amazing god son).  But, I can’t lie.  I was sad for me.  I was sad that my best friend was gone and I would no longer have the opportunity to just run by and sit on her couch while we talk about everything and nothing.  I was so excited to see them when they pulled up at the airport that I burst into tears.  It’s been great spending time with them.  And my Fizzle is so happy to see her “brother.” We’re reunited and it feels oh so good.  So this feel good feeling that we’re all feeling is only inspiring me to continue on with the gratitudes. So here we go.

On this day I am grateful to my mother. When I was growing up, my security relied on my parents. In my mind, we were a Love Triangle–our own Holy Trinity if you will–with my dad at the top, and me and my mom at the bottom. I didn’t want much if we weren’t all together. As the years went on, my mom and I developed an incredibly close relationship. I would tell people she was my best friend. I would nurture her and look out for her. I never told her, but I’d even get scared in the middle of the night that something might happen, so I’d get up and check her breathing. Mother-Daughter relationships are extremely complicated and can be incredibly volatile. Yet somehow, my mother and I were able to navigate through the explosive Mother/Daughter realm with ease. We were the amazing dynamic duo. We were the envy of mothers and daughters everywhere. I had several friends chastise their moms with cries of “Why can’t we be more like Je’Niece and her mom!” Of course our relationship would irritate the hell out of my dad and he’d say things like “Your mother is going to hurt your feelings one day.” I thought that was incredibly odd and quite rude to say, and I couldn’t understand why he’d say that—until he passed away

An incredible shift took place in our relationship. A distance I’d never known grew between us. It felt quite hostile. All that mushy gooey-ness we shared seemed to dissipate before my very eyes. It was incredibly hard for me. As an only child, I’d built my identity on my parental units. Now my father was dead and it seemed that my mother was (in a way) dying to me as well. I would ask if I’d done anything, did I remind her too much of my dad, and of course she would say no. But she wouldn’t offer me any thing else. We went from talking for hours every day to not talking—sometimes for weeks at a time. She had her story she was into about me and I had my story that I was into about her. It was so bad that when she got engaged, I may have been the last person to find out. She told people at the spa we both went to before she told me! I was crushed. I don’t do well when my feelings are hurt. I retreat. To others, it appears that I’m angry, but I am not. I am simply hurt and unable to move forward. It’s a simple defense mechanism, but this time I made an exception. I chased my mother. I mean I ran after her until there were holes in my proverbial emotional shoes. I couldn’t sleep or eat and it seemed like the harder I chased, the faster and the farther she ran away. Until this day we have never come to a true conclusion as to what prompted the shift. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. All I know is that I am so thankful that it occurred, because it forced me to recognize some heavy truths. While I love my mother with one of the purest loves I’ve ever felt, we had an extremely co-dependent, slightly dysfunctional relationship. My father was the center of our universe and much of our bond centered on an Us vs. Him set up. We weren’t very honest with one another either. I think we both believed my father to be a brutally honest person who would not dare hesitate to hurt your feelings in the name of “Truth” so we wouldn’t give that honesty to one another. We’d give the sweet, syrup, sugar coated version of what we thought the other “needed” to hear. I think we both also bought into the notion that the only “important” person in the family was my dad. Even before he became famous, he had this electric energy that just commanded attention. We both knew we were important, but just not as important as he. So we settled into this coddling type of relationship with one another. Neither one of us living to our true potential, but telling each other that we were. When my dad passed away, we didn’t need that anymore. We needed to move into something that would better serve us. But I didn’t get that. Hell, I didn’t want that! I felt like: Dammit there has been enough change in my life (with my dad’s death and my divorce) and if I couldn’t have at least this one relationship the way it’s always been what the hell was left for me?! But I realize now that was one of the best things that ever happened to me. And it had to happen as it did because I wouldn’t have gotten the memo any other way. Had she not stepped away from me, I probably would have moved in with her and become a spinster. I would have played safe, put all my focus on her. I would have asked permission to make any type of move in my life and only done so if she wanted me to. I remember her coming to me after my dad died. She said, ‘I had a dream that you moved to California with Jasmine and I was so hurt. I just couldn’t believe that you would do that to me.” I really did want to move to California, but I took what she said as a warning and decided, “OK well I won’t do that.” That shift in our relationship showed me that having boundaries in our relationships is one of the healthiest, loving things we can do for the ones we love. That shift in our relationship healed the mother/daughter bond and allowed me to be a better mother to my daughter. Otherwise, I probably would have repeated the very same pattern with Jasmine. Regardless of my initial reaction, that shift was the best thing that ever happened to us. We both have gone on to the paths we were meant. I now know that better days are ahead of me and that I am the only person required to give permission in my life. And while our present relationship is not what it was, I don’t love or appreciate my mother any less than I did then. I may actually appreciate her more because she helped me find my strength. So in some ways, once again, my dad was right because my mom did in fact hurt my feelings. But whether she meant to or not, she made me a better person, Woman and Mother. So thanks Mom. You were and still are a great teacher.

Gratitude Day #2

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.*

Tales From The Mommy Side

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*

If Then, What . . . ?

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!

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