Clear Your Mind

We are consumed daily with so much noise that we can’t take the time to think. Think about our goals, plans and dreams for our futures. We are inundated with so much that’s nothing but noise. I call noise anything that doesn’t allow you to focus on what you should be focusing.

We have to carve out time for ourselves to just think. My best thinking and ideas happen while I’m walking. I love walking. By my job there’s a forest preserve trail that I walk to clear my mind. As I’m walking, I look at nature and I’m just in awe of what God has created. I’m able to hear. Hear from God, hear my thoughts and plans. I have a peace that I can’t explain while walking. Walking centers me.

I notice things that I wouldn’t normally notice because I’m moving too fast or focusing on the wrong things. On one of my afternoon walks I met my friend below.

I couldn’t even remember the last time I saw a turtle. A turtle! He was just moving along as if he didn’t have a care in this world. I thought to myself I need to have the attitude of a turtle – moving at my own pace and not caring about what others are doing. Focusing on myself and making sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.

Below are some other picture I’ve taken on my walks:

Let’s talk. What works best for you to clear your mind?

Marriage Is A Triathlon – Not A Sprint!

Recently, I was watching a video about training for a triathlon. A triathlon is a race that is split into three different activities: swimming, biking and running. Let me provide my disclaimer that I’m not ready for a triathlon. First, I have to learn how to swim. Learning how to swim is on my 2019 bucket list.

Back to triathlon training. I was curious about the preparation for a triathlon. After watching the video, I realized that preparing for a triathlon is similar to preparing for a lasting marriage. Let me explain.

You can’t just wake up one morning and go complete a triathlon! There’s some preparation involved. That preparation requires commitment. You have to decide to train so many times a week in preparation for the triathlon. Marriage takes commitment. You have to take your vows seriously and be committed to demonstrating your vows by your actions.

A triathlon requires dedication. There will be some days you don’t feel like training. There will be some days you would rather be spending your time doing something else. There will be days you won’t like training. However, you have to train anyway and remain dedicated to being prepared for the triathlon.

Marriage requires dedication. There will be some days that you don’t want to be married. There will be some days you don’t like your spouse. There will be some days you would rather be doing something else. When those days come and trust me they will, you have to remain dedicated to your marriage.

A triathlon requires some essential gear: a bike, helmet, shoes, swimming cap, goggles and a trisuit to name a few. Without the essential gear, you hinder your chances of doing your best. You want to do your best.

There’s some essential marriage gear: love, good communication, good sex, honesty, God and prayer to name a few. If you don’t have the essential marriage gear, it will be difficult to have a lasting marriage. Essential marriage gear is necessary and beneficial to a good marriage.

A good marriage deserves a good foundation. A good foundation begins with commitment, dedication and the essential gear. Are you ready for your triathlon?

If You’re the Toxic Friend and You Know It, Clap Your Hands!

Recently, one of my friends asked this question on Instagram: “How do you know who is toxic?” My short response was you bring their toxic ways to their attention and they don’t try to change their ways. You find yourself in a constant struggle of not talking to them for awhile versus talking to them on a regular basis. It seems they act better after a hiatus, but alas their old toxic self shows up!

I used to believe toxic people didn’t know they were toxic. However, as I’ve matured I recognize they know their toxic and they don’t care. You know why they don’t care? They don’t care because they have the number one characteristic of a toxic person – they are selfish!

Their selfish ways show up constantly. Every activity has to revolve around them. Every conversation has to revolve around them, or they make the conversation about them.

You call the toxic person to vent about something you’re going through and this is how the conversation goes: First, they compare what you’re going through with something they have went or are going through. Then, somehow the conversation turns to be all about them! After you finish the conversation, you feel worse than you felt before you called them.

Another characteristic of toxic people is they are always the victim. Someone is always doing them wrong. They don’t do anything to anyone. They mind their business 🙄🙄. You know these are all lies because you know this person! They never take responsibility for their actions.

Then, toxic people like to monopolize your time. They want to be your ONLY friend. They don’t get along with any of your other friends. As a result, you can’t invite them to group outings. The toxic person not getting along with your other friends is their way to monopolize your time.

Furthermore, toxic people are users. Most of the time you interact with them, they need something. If you analyze your relationship, you will notice the toxic person always wants something from you. The relationship seems to always be you giving and the toxic person always taking.

Finally, another classic toxic person characteristic is they are never happy for you. If you tell them about your new job, they have to mention they wanted to work for that company and they didn’t get the job. They say you must know someone that works at the job. When you tell them about your financial increase, they have to mention how they need the increase more than you need the increase.

Toxic people leave you feeling drained surrounded with negativity. Their words and actions make you question your self-esteem and worth. The reality is the relationship is built on a foundation of jealousy. You may be wondering can any good come out of this relationship?! Yes, it can!

Here’s the good: As you grow and mature, you recognize toxic relationships have no place in your circle. You recognize there is nothing wrong with severing toxic ties and moving on with your life. You will more quickly identify toxic people before you have invested your time and energy in them.

If you read this post and recognize yourself, you are the toxic friend so clap, clap! Now that you see yourself, what are you going to do about it?

For those that have or have had toxic friends, how did you determine your friend was toxic? What did you do about it? Let’s talk about it.

Broken Humans

Broken as defined in the dictionary, “having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order.” Brokenness means “Forcibly separated into two or more pieces; fractured.” As you read those two definitions, you might have thought about a time that you were broken or in a state of brokenness. You may still be broken or in a state of brokenness. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to remain broken or continue to be in a state of brokenness.

When we are broken, it’s difficult to continue on our life’s journey. Being in a constant state of brokenness hinders our ability to move on. As a result, the relationships we form doing our times of brokenness have a tendency to be broken.

These relationships are built on brokenness and once we choose to move from our place of brokenness the relationships cannot withstand our path to being whole. For this reason, we should not begin a new relationship while broken. We need to be working on being made whole.

Whole is being “in an unbroken or undamaged state; in one piece.” Being whole seems impossible but we can be once again be whole. What does it take to be made whole?

First, we have to be honest with ourselves and recognize we are operating from a place of brokenness. We sometimes wonder why we are so angry or almost anything can have us crying. We are broken.

Second, we have to want to be whole. If you don’t want to be whole, it doesn’t make sense to lie to ourselves and others that we want to be whole. It’s better to wait until you’re ready. I have needed to lose weight for years, but until I was ready I wasted my time along with the time of others. Now, I’m focused on being healthy and making continuous progress. You have to do whatever you decide to do for you!

Third, seek help. Do not be ashamed to admit you need help. There’s nothing wrong with going to counseling, finding a support group for your brokenness and even reading self-help books. I encourage you to see a professional therapist.

Once we are beyond our broken state, we will be able to see the scars from the healed wounds and help someone else. We can have healthy relationships built on trust and respect. We can be happy and free! We can be whole:

My Spirit Animal is A Sloth

 

Recently, one of my coworkers went to an event to see a sloth.  She was able to meet and interact with a sloth.  I looked at the pictures she posted of the sloth and realized I have some similarities to sloths and there is a sloth characteristic that I want to embrace.

First, sloths are nocturnal.  Sloths are their most active at night.  That’s me!  I perform my best at night.  I think more clearly and have some of my best ideas at night.  I am most active at night.  I seem to have a burst of energy at night.  When most people are probably sleeping, I have found something to occupy my time, as if I don’t have to go to work in the morning.  

Second, sloths move the least during the day.  I am not a morning person.  I fake it until 10am. On the days I am off from work, I am content to lie in my bed all day.  If I have no plans for the day, I will lay in my PJ all day and, I’m not ashamed to say, will not brush my teeth or bathe.  I’m content to limit my movement!  Oh to be a sloth and be able to have my least movement during the day!

Have you seen the movie Zootopia?  One of my favorite scenes is when Nick Wilde and Judy Hopper go to the DMV.  They are trying to get the name of a car owner using the license plate information.  They are in a hurry and want to receive the information and go.  The sloth in this scene is hilarious!  He acts like he doesn’t have a care in this world and is in no hurry.  He has a nonchalant attitude: https://youtu.be/0woPde7OE1k

This picture taken by my friend reminds me of the sloth in Zootopia. 

The sloth is chilling with his panda bear as if he has no worries.  He is living his best sloth life!  That’s the attitude I want to have in life.  I want to live my best life and not allow anything to hinder me from living my best life.  I want to march to the beat of my own drum.  I want to be different and not care that others may have a problem with me being different.  I want to move through life at my own pace and not allow myself to be up in arms about anything.  What about you?  Which animal is your spirit animal?

Most Of What I Learned About Black History, I Taught Myself

Today is the last “official” day of Black History Month. I celebrate every day and continue to share knowledge on a regular basis.

There’s so much Black History that I didn’t learn in school. When I was 15 years old, I went to the library and borrowed Mary McLeod Bethune’s autobiography. My need to learn more led to me studying African Kings and Queens. I found this book. If you haven’t read it, it’s an empowering read:

Next, I discovered the various inventions that wouldn’t exist were it not for a Black man or woman. Here is a partial lists:

Then, I read Malcolm X’s autobiography and he woke up the militant spirit in me: “We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.” I became proud of my people and recognized we have persevered and succeeded against all the odds and obstacles that have been placed in our paths.

Finally, Fannie Lou Hamer made me even more proud to be a Black woman and honor her and others like her who secured my right to vote. Fannie Lou Hamer said, “Actually, the world and America is upset and the only way to bring about a change is to upset it more.”

In studying Black History, I found my voice. My voice to speak out about injustice and demand to be treated right. Studying Black History made me recognize I have a legacy of determination, intelligence and ingenuity pumping in my veins. I have no other choice but to be the best at whatever I set my mind to do. It’s in my DNA!

What Black History knowledge didn’t you learn in school?

The Price of Silence

I didn’t watch the R Kelly documentary last night, and don’t plan to watch. I have read some of the posts that have came across my newsfeed. So, teenage girls are fast and were given what they wanted 😳😑😑. Men have been doing it forever, so it’s ok?!! Nothing was said about Elvis Presley and other white men?!! I almost can’t place into words my reaction to these statements!

Are y’all serious?! So, this is how we make it okay to victimize young people?!!! I wonder if it was your child would you still have those feelings? We have sexualized Black children and held them accountable like they are adults, and this is wrong! These are children! There are grown women and men that have been bamboozled by abusers and we expect children to recognize an abuser and say no?!

I am a victim of sexual abuse by a family member and an authority figure. I was just a child and didn’t know what to do. I told on the authority figure and he publicly shamed me while I wasn’t present. He said I was lying on him, and people believed him. I never looked at him the same again. I forgave him for my growth, but I told my mom if he doesn’t ask God for forgiveness in hell will he lift up his eyes.

I’ve never said anything to the family member. Since I’ve been grown, I finally told my mom. I forgave the family member too, but a conversation needs to take place for that person to know the affect of their actions. The sad part is the person probably doesn’t even remember because I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

Quit blaming victims. If you still choose to listen to R Kelly’s music that’s your choice, but don’t blame victims to make you feel better about your choice!

Reflections

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” – Maya Angelou

2018 hasn’t been my best year. Learning to live on without my mom has not been easy. I’ve had good days and I’ve had days where I stayed in the bed with the covers pulled over my head. I’ve learned to go with the flow and live in the moment. If I feel like crying, I go ahead and cry. I’ve learned to embrace and acknowledge my feelings, so I can move forward.

2018 has been the year for dealing with my emotions. I used to bury my emotions. Burying emotions is not good, and only leads to an explosion. An explosion affects everyone that has any contact with me. I no longer wanted to be that explosion.

Choosing not to be that explosion led to me having to deal with some things in each area of my life. I chose to deal with every area of my life and in the process learn to handle the outcome.

I’m stronger physically, mentally and spiritually. 2018 has been about being better: a better me, better wife, better mother and better friend.

Every valley and mountain has molded me into the woman I am today. I’m looking with expectation to 2019. Yet striving to BE BETTER!

Mama – I Wouldn’t Be Me Without You

“She was there when I took my first breath, and I was there when she took her last.”

I don’t know who is responsible for this quote, but I lived this quote.  On November 21, 2017 at 5:50 am my mom took her last breath and I was with her.

I was determined to stay the night with my mom, and I did.  Even though I knew she would not be alone because God would be there, I wanted to be there with my mom as she made her transition.  If anyone had told me I would have had to make difficult decisions that involved my mom, I would not have believed them.

My mom always said if anything happens to me, you fight for me to live.  I took that literally.  I struggled with saying yes to hospice because to me that meant I was giving up on her.  I prayed and realized I wasn’t giving up on her.  When I was able to truly look at my mom as she lay in the hospital bed, I could see that she was suffering.  She was in so much pain, and not allowing the respirator tube to be removed was delaying the inevitable

In the circle of life children are supposed to bury their parents, but who wants their parents to die?!  We want them to live forever.  I wanted my mom to be here to see my granddaughter grow up and graduate from college.  I wanted my mom to see my daughter have children of her own.  I wanted my mom to be here to make me laugh.  She kept me laughing with the things she said and her views on life.  It seemed like a lot of my family members talked to my mom and she would have the good family tea!  She knew all the family gossip and shared it with me.  

We shared a lot of good times.  We didn’t always agree and during her sickness she was frequently upset with me because she said, “I thought I was the boss of her – LOL.”  I had to be firm and take over medical decisions and other things, which she didn’t like.  Everything I did was for her good.

My advice to anyone whose parents are still alive:  cherish the moments.  Please don’t get caught up in not speaking to them or having petty arguments.  Once your parents are gone, none of that stuff matters.  Instead of creating heartache, make memories with your parents.  The last thing you want to have is regrets or feelings of guilt because you didn’t treat them right.

I don’t have any regrets.  I treated my mother with the respect she was due.  You couldn’t have thin skin around my mom.  She equipped me to be a word master.  I know how to fight with words.  I learned to laugh at words that were meant to hurt me.  She taught me how to accept myself – flaws and all.  Being called fat was funny because I am.  She taught me that.

She taught me to love God.  She taught me how to be saved.  She taught me how to love my family.  She taught me that.  She taught me how to bake a cake.  She taught me how to clean a kitchen.  She taught me how to mop the floor.  She taught me how to wash clothes.  She taught me all of that.

This past year has been a lot of firsts for me:  first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, first New Year’s Day, first Mother’s Day, and first birthday without my mom.  I am an extension of her.  I look like her.  This curly hair came from her.  I find myself saying some of the same things she used to say.

I know my life will never be the same because she’s gone. I miss you so much Ma!  My life is better because you chose to give birth to me.  This first year without you hasn’t been easy and my heart will never be the same.  I’m strong though and I will continue to thrive because you’re my mom.

Chapter 49

Some people believe I do the most for Leo season and my birthday. Well, I do! I turned it up a notch this year because I’m grateful to be in the land of the living. This past year has not been an easy year for me.

I learned more about myself and the sacrifices I would make for someone I love. I discovered that I had more strength than I realized. I learned that even in the midst of the pain and grief that I yet feel, I can make it. I learned that Chapter 48 prepared me for Chapter 49.

It’s my first birthday without my mom. For 48 years I had her in my life. This new normal has not been easy. This year required me to be extra. If I didn’t, I would’ve focused on how much I miss my mom and the birthday greetings she faithfully posted every year.

I would’ve focused on how much I miss the cake she made special just for me – German chocolate cake with milk chocolate frosting because I don’t like German chocolate frosting. I would’ve spent today being sad instead of glad.

Through all I have been through I have learned the importance of carpe diem – seize the day! I’m determined to live a life of no regrets. I want to make the most of every moment I have remaining on this earth. I’m determined to have meaningful relationships, and appreciate when someone cuts me out of their lives because they are doing me a favor. They are helping me to invest in those that want to have meaningful relationships with me. I’ve learned that life is short and I should experience everything I want to experience.