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Putting the CL on that ASS!

A Bernie's Daughter Thing

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strength

Heal That Masculine, Man!

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

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

When I Reminisce Over You

Dear 16 year-old Je’Niece,

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

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

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

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

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

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

That Old Feeling

A magical and glorious Friday to you! How many of you know that life is grand? Or at the very least that it can be. Don’t worry if you you can’t answer “yes” to that question. For a very long time, I couldn’t answer “yes” either. For a while, I was in what I like to call the valley. The valley is where we go when we’ve been rejected, abused, disappointed, frustrated, and sometimes just plain ole’ pissed off. It’s ok to go in the valley. There are definitely some valleys along the path of life. But you know what? Sometimes you can stay in the valley for too long. Sometimes you can stay so long that you forget to travel up to the peaks and you then become accustomed to the valley and all its surroundings. We weren’t meant to stay in the valley. The valley, like everything else in life, is temporary. But we can spend so much time in the valley that we get a valley mind set. And the valley mind set only keeps the very things we truly want away from us. If you’re in a valley right now, I encourage you to do what you must to not adapt a valley mind set. In other words, get on up from that valley! As a wonderful friend told me, “There is no more valley. The valley is gone. The only way you’re in the valley now is because you keep dragging the valley with you.”

I’m Not Your Superwoman! Hell, I’m Not Even My Own!

Happy Friday to you! Today is a wonderful day and would you like to know why? Well, it’s because you’re here. I become more convinced that there really are no coincidences the longer I live. So it’s no coincidence that you exist at this moment. It’s no coincidence that you happened upon my blog. Even if we can’t connect the dots as to the why’s behind it all, we can rest assured that there is a why. This past week was good for me because I was able to offer support to quite a few of the beloved women in my life. I was able to offer the support they needed because I have walked the path they now found themselves stumbling over. Let me just tell you, it’s taken me a long time to get comfortable enough with myself to share as openly as I now do. And I do it because I know what distress, pain, heartache, failure, and all the other yucky stuff of life feels like. If I can help at least one by offering support, encouragement, or just a glimpse of what it looks like to stand in the midst of it, let alone overcome, it is well with my soul. Today’s video was inspired by so many of the beautiful women I know and love and to the individuals who love them. May you all find peace, joy, and Soul! Wait, that’s the Soul Train, but hey, all aboard! Toot! Toot!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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