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Putting the CL on that ASS!

A Bernie's Daughter Thing

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responsibility

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.

How I Learned to Mind My Own Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Who Do You Say You Are?

Happy New Year! I’ve been going back and forth between excitement and dread since the turn of this new year of our Lord. Excitement because the optimist in me believes that I am closer to the true joy that I long for. I believe doors are going to open that were once closed. Dread because the little doubter in me is afraid that it might not happen. So that what if it doesn’t pops up now and again. So what do I do? I sit back and watch the two battle ’til the death for it. Well not really. But it would make for an interesting show.

Anyway, as the sun revolved around this here earth for one more ‘gin, I was hit with an unexpected circumstance. Initially, it made me really sad. Someone who believes they know me accused me of being some things that I’m not. But as I sat with it, I began to feel better because I was reminded of how far I’ve come. I know this person was either truly mistaken or simply lying because I am not the things that I was said to be. But I remember a time when I wouldn’t have known the truth of that. I remember a time when I would have simply believed what this person said because I unknowingly would have assumed this person was in authority over my life. Thank goodness for growth and wisdom because today I know better. Today, I know who I am. And any time I’m confronted with a moment like this, I ask myself the question, “Well who do you say you are, Je’Niece?” It’s proven to be a good practice for me.

As we go forth into this 2016th year, may we all take a moment to ask ourselves the question so that we can root ourselves firmly in the knowledge of who we are. Happy New Year again!

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 #5

Well it’s day 5 and today’s gratitude is a bit deep.  It has to do with a secret that I carried around for much of my life.  I actually never even told my father before he passed away.  Yet today, I don’t feel the heaviness of it as I did in years passed. In m opinion, humble as it may be, that is a true mark of my growth.  And yet another reason to be thankful.

On this day I am grateful for my unborn child. I’ve not shared this with many, but almost 20 years ago, when I was 16, I got pregnant. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and disappointed. But most of all, I was just plain old scared. I was scared of what my father was going to do to me when he found out. He would have killed me—or come very close to it. And who could blame him? After all, I deserved to be punished. I was supposed to be a good girl and if I was pregnant, that meant I was having sex, and good girls simply did not do that. It also didn’t help that I’d begun having sex simply because my boyfriend wanted to. I wasn’t even remotely curious about sex. I just really wanted to be loved so when he showed me in a most non-discreet and obvious way where we were headed, I fell silent and complicit. I thought to myself, “Oh wow, I guess I’m going to have sex now.” And I did. I felt ashamed, but that was when and how he showed me attention and I desperately wanted his attention, so I continued to engage. I acted like I liked it. I acted as if I wanted it, but I didn’t and I died a little inside each time I succumbed to his will. I was in agony. Winding up a sobbing hot mess on the bathroom floor after reading the positive result on a pregnancy test only pushed me further into the abyss. I decided that I wouldn’t tell my parents. I’d get an abortion and never think about it again. But for the next 10 years, all I could think about was that baby and the horrible thing I’d done. The abortion only fueled the war I’d unconsciously waged against my already fragile self-esteem. I was in misery every single day.

A few days after the procedure, my mom found my medication. She’s a nurse so she knew exactly what the pills were. Too ashamed and afraid to tell her, I lied. I said they belonged to my best friend. She believed me—or at least she really wanted to. I felt so bad that I confessed to my friend. Being the wonderful friend she was/is, all she said was “Well, your parents already think I’m fast so a little less respect from them won’t hurt me.” Now it would seem that I’d been given a pass so that meant that I should’ve been ok from that point forward. But I wasn’t. I actually felt worse. In my mind, not only was I a fornicator and a murderer, but I was also a liar with no morals and a horrible friend. I deserved a fate worse than death. I deserved to be brutally punished over and over until I wished for death. And because I was so low, I didn’t even deserve to be relieved of my agony through death. For over a decade I rooted myself in this torment. I would be 27 years old, finding myself pregnant for the second time when I recognized that everything I was feeling was nothing but guilt and I had been wallowing in it. Before I gave birth to Jasmine, I thought about my unborn child every day. What would she/he look like? What would I have named him/her? What kind of mother would I have been? I didn’t believe I’d ever get the chance to become a mother. After all, I didn’t deserve it. When I found myself pregnant with Jasmine, I was happy but afraid. I was afraid every day of my pregnancy. I thought something would go wrong. I thought I deserved for something to go wrong. How dare I enjoy the beauty of motherhood after what I’d done to my first child? Once Jasmine was born, a peace wavered over me that said, “Enough. You must take care of this little girl who is here. It’s ok. You’ve punished yourself enough. Now stop this foolishness. It’s time to enjoy.”

I’ve heard it said that the soul of an unborn child simply waits until the next time to be born to their mother. So I don’t know if Jasmine was the soul waiting to be born through my unborn child at that time, or if my unborn child was another soul who has gone on to glory. But I do know, that I love that unborn child with all my might and I appreciate my unborn child. Through that brief encounter, that beautiful little soul has touched my life in a most amazing way. That soul taught me that guilt is a monster that serves no one. Guilt is a beast that robs of all joy. I wasn’t even able to get the lesson intended for me because I was stuck in my shame spiral. Through my unborn child I learned that guilt and sorrow are not the same. Sorrow says, “I messed up. I won’t do that again.” But guilt doesn’t. Guilt isn’t necessarily sorry for the act.  It simply feels bad about it because it knows the act goes against your moral compass.  Sorrow seeks to make amends.  Guilt just wants to feel better.  Guilt will continue to repeat the same thing and cry afterward having the nerve to say “Oh I feel so bad.” Yes I was sorry for my mis-steps, and I never did repeat the same mistake. However, the guilt is what allowed, even compelled me, to remain in the horrible cycle of punishing myself time and again. The guilt prohibited me from receiving and enjoying good. That unborn child also taught me compassion. Before I found myself pregnant, I judged young, unwed mothers. I looked down upon them. They were something to point at while I puffed up my chest and told myself how much better than they I was. The sweet irony of ending up just like them forced me to bake and eat my very own humble pie. While it wasn’t as sweet as I would have liked, it was very necessary and it was sustenance for my soul. I learned that we are all on our own journey and no one person is better than any other. We may cling to petty and superficial ties to make ourselves feel superior, but underneath all that bravado lays insecurity. But our insecurity is no excuse for having the audacity to think we can judge another. I’m still not convinced that I didn’t make the best decision for me at the time, but what I am convinced of is that it was all par for my course and I’m thankful for it. If my unborn child can hear me, I simply want to say that even though I didn’t birth you, I love you with all my heart and know that Mommy finally got the lesson. Thank you.

 

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.*

What Do You Do?

For as long as I can remember, I have never enjoyed conversations that are geared toward “work”. Allow me to explain what I mean.

“So what do you do?”
“Where do you work?”

Those questions have had a tendency to put me on edge. I begin to sweat the way I did 20 odd years ago when I found myself in a crowded room at Chicago State University, taking the ACT. The questions make me feel as if I have to prove myself to the person asking. And I don’t say this because I find myself on the far end of 30 still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I say it because the questions have always made me feel uncomfortable. And I once had a career. After graduating from Xavier University of New Orleans with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling, I worked for the Orleans Parish Criminal Courts in New Orleans. Once I returned to my hometown of Chicago, I began working as a Work First counselor at the South Suburban Counselor on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. So, I’ve had jobs and have been able to answer the questions. I just have never liked needing to.

Though in the past I could not quite grasp why, those “So what do you do?” “Where do you work” type questions grated on my nerves, I can say today, I have figured it out. I don’t like them because I couldn’t care less about what someone does. When I meet a person and I’m interested, I want to know about the person. I want to know about that person. I mean really KNOW. I want to know what makes that person come alive, where their passions lie. I want to know the content of their soul. And telling me what they do just doesn’t necessarily answer that for me. I mean just look at what I’ve shared thus far. Telling you about my education and work history gave you no real insight into who I am. None. It just gave you surface details about me. But it didn’t tell you what makes me tick. And for me, that’s the stuff that gets me excited when I meet a person. I want to know what makes you tick.

Now don’t get me wrong. I understand that there is nothing inherently wrong with asking such questions. They can be great ice breakers. And I also understand that we human beings need to work to earn money in order to survive in our world. And I understand that there are things people do (and need to do) to earn money and “make a living.” But I have never identified with my source of employment. I’ve never And I’ll go ahead and admit that in spite of what I’m saying, I have been excited to get the job. I’ve been grateful to be able to say that I work. But after the nostalgia wears off, I’m left with a kind of “What next?” feeling. And I now know that I feel this way because one does not make a living by earning money. If that were true, one would die the minute one found themselves without a job. In the same vein that India.Arie exclaimed that she is not her hair, I must exclaim that I am not my job. And you know what? Neither are you!

I say all of this wholeheartedly believing that most don’t ask this question with ill intentions. It’s simply small talk. It’s seen as an easy way to get to know a person. And it can be.  But sometimes it can be used in a isolating manner. It can be used to figure out what box to put another in. They can sometimes be questions that scream (even unintentionally), “Please help me disconnect from you in the most efficient way possible.” And I don’t believe most truly seek out ways to disconnect and isolate themselves from others. It’s just pure old fashioned social conditioning. Asking the questions helps one figure out what category to place another. Same as the “Are you married?” “Do you have any children?” questions. Harmless enough. Right?

Well, now I answer those questions quite differently. I get weird looks sometimes–and it has even ended a conversation (before the conversation actually began) here and there. But like the old cartoon characters who professed, “If I do this, I get a whipping . . . I do it!” right before they do something they know will rattle another, I do it anyway. Now when people ask me what I do, my answer is simply, “I live and love.”

“We must not be defined by what we do, but we must be what and who we are, then only happen to do what we do!”
― C. JoyBell C.

Stop Doing Sh*t You Hate

Hey, hey, hey!  Happy Friday! Here’s hoping you have a great weekend and all the goodness the world has to offer to you! I’ve been riding a creative high this week and I’m feeling really good.  A wonderful friend of mine made a simple post that inspired today’s post.   I was going to write it, but then I decided to just do a video.  We mere mortals are creatures of habit.  It’s very easy for us to live ourselves into perpetual ruts, staying stuck in the people, places, and things that don’t serve us.  So watch it and tell me what you think.  And don’t forget to do exactly what this thing here says.

 

*I realized after the fact that I credited my wonderful friend, Sie Van Dunk incorrectly in the video.  Her website is http://www.demurelyfe.com and you can find her on Facebook at Curly Demure.  https://www.facebook.com/Curly-Demure-303119106383594/timeline/*

 

 

Who Do You Think You Are?

When I was a kid, I had this image in my head of who I would be when I reached my 30s.  I thought I’d have it all together.  Now, don’t ask me what it all was; and don’t ask me how I was going to have or put it together.  That’s besides the point.  The point is that I was going to do the damn thing.  So you can imagine my shock and dare I say, embarrassment, to find myself in my mid 30s, divorced, raising my child alone, unemployed (with degrees), and having the nerve to still find myself figuring out what I want to be when I grow up.

I called shenanigans on this here Life thing.  I mean I felt seriously bamboozled.  I graduated high school with a 4.1 GPA.  And yeah, ok while I graduated from undergrad Thank You Lawdy, my GPA in my major was a 3.7 (so there!).  I even graduated grad school with a 3.66 GPA.  So didn’t that mean I was entitled to some type of reward?  And I’m not talking about that piece of paper they give you on the stage.  So where was my damn award? Dammit! *Cue Florida from Good Times*

I was pissed.  I felt led astray. Run amuck.  I didn’t land on Plymouth Rock! Plymouth Rock landed on me!  Oh wait, that was Denzel as Malcolm X, but I think you get my point.  My point is that I was angry. And I was angry for a good reason. This isn’t what my life was supposed to be!  After all, I’m me!  And that’s when it hit me.  So what.  Just who in the hell did I think I was?

My dad would say quite often to me, “It’s not what the world owes you.  The world don’t owe you nothing.  It’s what you owe the world.”  I lost track of that somewhere along the way.  I got full of myself and started living on auto pilot, expecting the world to give me things.  Don’t get me wrong, I was willing to work hard.  I was willing to be kind and compassionate. But I was still expecting a reward for being and doing those things.  So a little piece of me would run and build a piece of a wall whenever I would experience disappointment.  I worked hard but didn’t get the A?  Lay a brick down.  I was loving and got rejected?  Slather that cement and add another brick.  The job, that person didn’t turn out to be what I wanted?  We’re going to need some more bags of bricks and cement over here guys!  I built that wall until one day I realized there was no one on the side of it with me.  And I had no one to blame but myself.  Initially, that depressed the hell out of me.  I was downtrodden.  I felt hopeless and full of despair. Then I realized what a treasure that is!  First, I realized that no one abandoned or rejected me.  I abandoned and rejected myself.  The people in our lives are only mirrors reflecting us back to ourselves.  So there was that.  Then I got excited because I figured if I’m the one responsible for this all, then I have the power to change it.

Wow, How simple!  And you know what?  I’ve been doing just that. And you know something else?  It’s been difficult.  It is certainly not easy to take the reigns of my life and steer them in the direction I wish to head.  Simplicity and ease are not synonymous.  While it may not be easy, it is quite doable.  And the rewards that I have been desperately seeking for most of my life are now mine.  Rewards like peace, confidence, self-love (and after all, self love is the best love).  I gave them to myself the minute I stopped looking for them to come from an external source.  Now that I’ve chosen to look within, I can get on with the business of giving something back to the world.  I can now contribute the things that only I can contribute in the way that only I can contribute them so that when I leave this place, I can leave knowing that I did what I could and what I wanted.  And that is the task before each of us–to give the world what only we can give without needing and wanting the world to give us something in return.

So ok, my life doesn’t look like what I wanted it to look like. But come on, why would it?  I was holding on to a vision I crafted when I was 8.  I mean, who does that?  It had to change.  And that’s okay.  Right now, I can say that while it still doesn’t quite look as I would like, I have and I am taking the steps to get it where I want it .  After all, I don’t need the world.  I just need to be me in it.  

So what about you?  Who do you think you are?  And just what are you going/and willing to do about it?

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