Repost from the blogosphere: If I Could Do It All Over Again

Repost from the blogosphere: If I Could Do It All Over Again

This was so special. I can only imagine how I will feel when Frederick is graduating from high school and I’m reminiscing about the past 18 (or 16 if he’s like me) (or 14 if he’s like this notable Chicago girl) years with my darling boy. Check out these tips. They all make me smile. 😀

If I Could Do It All Over Again.

In the midst of resetting

In the midst of resetting

I’m a little less than a week behind, but my 31 Day Reset has been very positive and helpful. I’ve written letters, created a self-care plan, deleted people from social media (and I’m not done yet), written in a gratitude journal, and went a weekend with no TV. So I just wanted to stop in and share 10 of the 100 things that make me happy. Creating that list was a little difficult. I got through 50 pretty easily, and then I started struggling. I got to 88 and took a couple days off and came back to it. But it was still a nice experience to sit and mull over what makes me feel good. So here are a few of them (and they’re random, not in any order (of course–who can rank 100 things??)). I may share some more another day. 🙂 Happy Monday!

  •  Fresh flowers
  • Inspirational messages from Mike (my older brother)
  • Trying new yoga poses
  • Gchatting with friends
  • Traveling to new places
  • Hugging older people
  • Seeing comments or likes on my blog posts
  • Finding money in a pocket
  • Reading a really good book
  • Sharing milkshakes with Frederick

If you are working on infusing some goodness in your life, try creating a list of 100 things that make you happy. You’re going to smile each time you think of something.

My son could be Trayvon Martin.

My son could be Trayvon Martin.

It’s 2:15 AM and I’m still up just thinking about all the implications of the Zimmerman verdict. I watched the trial waiting for some major points to be made: Trayvon Martin had the right to be in a public place without being stalked, he had the right to stand his ground and fight back, and he had the right to get home safely.

Of course, all I can think about is how scary it is to have brought my precious son into a world where the Voting Rights Act can be gutted in the 21st century with the logic that it’s no longer needed because it has worked (never mind that it has worked THIS very year). I’ve brought him into a world where when a man shoots an unarmed teen, the murdered teen has to stand trial, not the shooter. I’ve brought him into a world where the family dynamics of the murdered teen is a key part of the story (just imagine if he was raised by a single mother like me). I’ve brought him into a world where although I don’t immediately leave a movie theater when a weird looking white person comes in for fear that he will shoot the place up, it is considered acceptable testimony to listen to a woman talk about how she was robbed by a black boy, even though that particularly black boy had nothing to do with the case. I’ve brought him into a world where wearing a hoodie in the rain is suspicious. I’ve brought him into a world where even as the unemployment rate continues to decrease, the unemployment rate of blacks continues to increase. I’ve brought him into a world where you can go to jail for firing a warning shot when someone who admits to abusing you is approaching you and threatening you, but not for murdering an unarmed boy who wanted some Skittles and tea.

I pray that I can instill in my son a strong sense of self worth. And I pray that others will respect his worth. I pray that my child will not be seen as a stereotype, but as the bearer of light he is. I don’t even know how to approach preparing him for a life in this world. Do I make sure he wear galoshes and a plastic poncho any time it’s raining? Do I drive him around the corner no matter what? Do I stock my pantry with snacks for a lifetime? Do I tell him to defend himself or to run or to just take whatever is thrown at him JUST in case he’s murdered and he needs to be clearly the victim? Of course, there is NO way for me to adequately prepare him in a place where people are justified in jumping to irrational conclusions.

So, Friday, as I was thinking about the possibilities the verdict could bring, I tweeted this:

So what are we going to do after today? Regardless of the verdict? My issue with marching is that I don’t always see forward movement after the fact.

Can we commit to joining a mentor group and giving back to our kids?

Can we agree to start writing and calling our legislators and staying vigilant about new laws that adversely affect our communities?

And I added these tonight:

Can we agree to start/continue educating ourselves about local and state politics and voting accordingly?

Can we agree to start focusing on building up our communities and knowing our neighbors so we can look out for each other? We are obviously all we got.

Can we stop making excuses for grown people who choose to not contribute to our children and start holding each other to higher standards?

Can we begin to invest in our own businesses and communities and watch where we circulate our dollars?

We can’t afford to be two day/two week warriors. We have to protect our kids through civic involvement and community engagement.

Now is the time to rediscover our own worth and wield the economic power we all know we have but don’t use.

I guess I’ll try to sleep now. But I’m sure it won’t be as restful as I need it to be. Another sad day in America. It’s becoming a norm. What’s next, people?

Day 6 – Finding Who I Am Once Again

Day 6 – Finding Who I Am Once Again

Just wanted to stop in and share my new personal mission statement. After spending a couple of days writing down my values, evaluating how much I honor those, and writing down actions I am or should be employing to live up to them, I came up with my mission statement.

Part of my quest, I know, is to re-discover and/or re-accept who I am outside of motherhood.  I’ve spent most of my energy in the last year and a half, pouring myself into being a good mother and trying to build bridges that evidently weren’t supposed to be built. I ignored myself (my emotions, my needs, my healing) a lot over this time, thinking that if I put myself last, I would be encouraging others to want to be around me and help me. But all I was doing was dishonoring myself and not allowing myself to fully reach 100%, and that’s never okay. Especially since now I know that there’s no amount of niceness and humility that will get anyone else do anything they’re not going to do anyway. I should be focusing on me and my own personal dreams instead of being upset when someone won’t help me or when I feel like I don’t have any allies besides my mom. I need to be my own ally. So I used this exercise partially to charge myself to start back believing in the powerful supergirl I’ve pretty much always pictured in my brain up until my mini mid quarter-life crisis. I’m headed back to my yellow brick road.

My purpose in life is to improve communities worldwide, starting with my own. I am a devoted mother, an intelligent community advocate, a savvy connector of resources, an honest idealist, and strong, resilient warrior who protects and provides for my family. In my life, personal and career, I value economic empowerment, education, and exposure. My goal is to maximize my influence to create change in the black community. My dream is to leave a legacy that lasts for generations through my inspirational and transformational work. I would like to give a voice to the voiceless—which requires that I tap into my confidence, boldness, and self-love. I will be true to myself and honor my feelings, instincts, and dreams. In my journey to transform and improve lives, I will not allow my own life to be rerouted to neglect myself, my health, my happiness, my moral compass, my family, my spirituality, my truth, my love for travel and adventure, my affinity for style and beauty, or my finances. I will strive not to feel guilty for making choices that align with my goals but may not align with other people’s ideas of what is right for me. I will step carefully yet confidently into my destiny as a leader and stay open to life’s wonders and miracles, striving to maintain a healthy home life and reserve time and energy for my village.

values

“It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” – Mae Jemison

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” – Les Brown

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Day 2 – Life Assessment

Day 2 – Life Assessment

Today’s task was to do a life assessment. I’ll admit that I was a little bit overwhelmed by the thought of it, but I sat down and made it happen. In this life assessment I had to answer two questions for each of 7 areas of my life: “What do I like?” and “What do I dislike?” Since part of the purpose of this reset is to shift my focus to what’s good in my life, I’ll only share the answers to the former question. Suffice it to say that it was pretty easy for me to answer the latter, BUT identifying what I do like wasn’t as hard as I expected. Progress! 🙂

Lifestyle: I like that I have a pretty impressive network. I like that I live in Atlanta and have access to many opportunities. I like that I am still connected to my hometown of Jackson since it holds a special place in my heart. I love that I get to travel and explore.

Work: I love the level of support I get from my management. They genuinely care about me as a whole person, not just as an employee. I also love that I’ve found a place where I can apply my math skills to being a do-gooder in communities across the country. I also like that I am diversifying my portfolio by not just doing research for projects but also helping with marketing and the operations side.

Education: I like that my educational background is relatively diverse. I’m also happy that I had the experience of finding out that I actually didn’t like a field I had dreamed of entering and was able to find my niche later. That was a hard time in my life because it was one of the first times I ever had to decide not to finish something I started, but I saw after the fact that it was just what I needed to steer me in a better direction. (Message!)

Finances: I appreciate the fact that even though I don’t receive help from the person I expected it from, I’ve never missed a meal and Frederick has everything he needs and more. I like that I truly have my mom’s support and that she’s been my security net.

Health: I like my weight. I like my newfound upper body strength. I like that I eat mostly fresh and organic foods now. Thanks x3, Frederick.

Family: I love being Frederick’s mother. I like seeing my son develop and flourish everyday. I love hearing him laugh and seeing him discover new things. I love his hugs and kisses. I love watching (and hearing) him sleep. I love the way he looks like he is going to tip over when he is walking full speed ahead. I love to hear him say new words. I love reading and singing to him. Also, I love my mom and my daddy and my brothers. I love my aunts and uncles and my cousins. I love that I still have a living grandmother. I love that all these people love me. I love that even though I live 6 hours away, I still have a church family that loves me and my son. I like that Frederick and I have a village.

Relationships: I like that I have friends who speak life into me when they notice I’m low on fuel. I like that I have friends who believe in me. I like that most people who have made even a brief connection with me like to keep in touch with me, which I think means they see value in knowing me.

So 2 days down, 29 to go!

FYI – if you read my pregnancy posts, I used the same password on yesterday’s post. I’ll make it public sooner or later, but until then, hope you remember the old password!

31 Day Reset

31 Day Reset

Today is the first day of the second half of 2013. I spent the first half of it pretending I was okay in public by grasping at whatever I could find to be a bright spot of my dim days. Most of the time, that bright spot has been something about my son. Although I don’t really know how I will turn my life into a happy place, I do know I don’t want to spend much more time in the life I’m currently living. Wearing the shame and regret as a badge on my chest every day and finding by accident but maybe on purpose a new way I’ve screwed up my trajectory and becoming someone I never pictured myself being. Being angry every time someone cosigns (whether they knew they were cosigning or not–I blame myself, and the world blames me too, ain’t that a bitch) the fact that I made poor decisions and makes excuses for the sorry, worthless asshole of a boy I chose as my son’s “father”. Feeling like I wear the scarlet letter even though I know he’s out living life like it’s golden all while lying on me, further reinforcing the tarnish I already smeared on the reputation and persona I spent 30 years cultivating.

But I’m ready to figure out how to spray some tarnish remover on there and rub it off, even if it’s just for me and my view of myself. I’m tired of caring what people think about me, ESPECIALLY a bunch of people who don’t contribute to the wellbeing of me or my son anyway. WHY do I let them take up any space in my already overbooked brain?

Saturday, I ended up having a good hard cry (which I almost never do, even now, in front of anyone) as a friend of mine poured into me some affirmations and positivity that I still don’t quite feel I deserve but clutch because I know I need it. She told me that I’m still who I’ve always been and that the same care I give to Frederick, it’s time to give to Ranada. She said that she wants me to stop beating myself up and to start back believing in myself and all my talents and my dreams. And as she was borderline lecturing me (which isn’t a bad thing–remember that I have 4 degrees so listening when class is in session is one of my fortes), I was thinking that there are no coincidences and that this was confirmation that I most certainly needed to participate in this 31 Day Reset that another friend invited me to do with her this month.

So I said all that to say: It’s Day 1. July 1. The first day of the second half of the year. I will not spend the next 6 months beating myself up. The task for today was to pick a personal mantra and to choose a theme song.

My personal mantra, which I have written in my new reset notebook (and I chose it because it has on the front: “It is up to you to illuminate the world.” -Phillippe Venier), is

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come. – Joseph Campbell

I chose it because when I find myself really kicking myself in the ribs, it’s when I’m comparing myself to what I had planned in my head. I’m a planner by nature, and I had the next couple/few years lined up in my head, making the steps (I thought) daily to make my plans come to life. So now, any time something happens that is completely different from those plans, I start one more time, in case I forgot, pointing out to myself how I ruined my life. So I’m ready to keep reminding myself that the life I PLANNED may be ruined, but what God has for me is for me, including my beautiful son, who wasn’t in that short-term plan but is the best thing I’ve ever received. I have to let go of what I had in my mind, and open myself up to creating a new and prayerfully even better reality.

My theme song is a song I sing to myself whenever I’m searching and searching for a silver lining. It’s The Conversation by Greg O’Quin and Joyful Noyze. I’m almost certain I’ve blogged the lyrics before. Here are some of them again.

If I never had a rainy day, I’d never know You could brighten my day.

If I never felt some loneliness, I’d never know of Your friendliness.

If I never fell to the ground, I’d never know You could help me rebound.

If I never had a broken heart, I’d never know You could mend the parts.

If I never reached out for your hand, I’d never know You could help me stand.

If I never had to shed a tear, I’d never know You were always near.

I’d never, ever know You this way.

So there. What a first day. I’m so ready to feel happiness as a default instead of as a fleeting moment. It’s a process, but I can do it. One day at a time.