I love when I make myself cry, lol.

I love when I make myself cry, lol.

This morning I got an email with the subject teaser “I love you.” Hmm. What’s this? It was a letter from the July 2013 me. I wasn’t going to share it, but why not? It’s my 2nd mommyversary today, and I am super blessed to be able to celebrate the milestones my baby has made over the last two years AND the milestones I’ve achieved myself as the sole caretaker of a bustling, precocious, charming boy. I’m so proud of him, and I’m even prouder to be his mom. He’s an amazing soul, and though this journey hasn’t been easy, it has been beyond worth it. I look forward to being Frederick’s safe place throughout his adventures. Watching him evolve is an almost unbelievable experience. I can barely even believe that at one time he was a butterbean in my body. Now he’s over half my height! If Frederick has taught me nothing else, it’s that life keeps moving through it all. He’s a daily reminder that life is mysterious and beautiful and hope-filled and worth living to the fullest. Happy 2nd birthday to my sweet thang!

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 June 6, 2014 vs. June 6, 2013

Anyway, here’s the letter from past me to present me.

Dear FutureMe,

Congrats on your second anniversary of pushing an almost 9 pound human out of your body! Frederick is 2, and you have even more to be grateful for than ever before. I hope that as you’re reading this you are saying to yourself, hey old me, I can barely remember the heartache from that time. I hope that by now, you have fully reclaimed your confidence and your passion and your “I can do it” attitude and have been slanging it around for all the masses to see and feel. You MADE it through the roughest time of your life so far, but just like the other rough patches you’ve been through, you are better for it after it was all said and done. Can you believe you actually thought you were less of a woman because of situations out of your control?? But I am confident that today, you know and OWN the fact that you are MORE than a woman. You are a WARRIOR and an extremely loyal, dedicated, and gifted person. Do you realize that in the worst of times, you conquered your depression, your hurt, and your bad outlook on your own life to do whatever was necessary to give Frederick everything he needed and more?? That’s powerful, young lady. Even when you didn’t want to take care of yourself, you did it anyway so that Frederick could have a strong foundation and a solid connection to his mother. Even when you despised his father, you swallowed all your hurt, anger, and sadness to try to have a cordial relationship with him for the sake of Frederick. That’s not WEAK, honey, that is STRONG. Can you believe that your sweet thing was once an arm baby, then he started teetering everywhere like he would tip over at any moment. OMG I can’t wait to see what he is like at 2!!

I hope this letter finds you in a brand new, loving, positive, promising place in your life, where you wake up with happy thoughts and new ideas and a fresh outlook on the day ahead of you. Continue to leave the past in the past, and know in your heart that your future is #winning. And live today like the star you are.

I love you for all you are today, all you have been throughout your life, and the wonderfulness you will be in your future.

Love,

Your Past Self on July 3, 2013

Sharing My Journey

Sharing My Journey

In my journey so far as a single mother, I have experienced an emotional roller coaster like none I’ve ever ridden. And not just romantically–that’s actually probably the easiest part of the ride. The scariest and most difficult parts of the ride have been dealing with my self-image, managing and changing the dynamics of my friendships, and reconciling societal perspectives with my reality.

Some days, I get to a place where I want to share this experience, and other days, I don’t–mostly because I don’t want to deal with any more opinions. I also don’t like that some think I sound bitter (and in some instances, I am)–when my bitterness has waned significantly over the last two years. What’s funny is that the more I talk, the more some think I’m bitter, when in actuality, the less bitter I am, the more willing I am to talk. There was a time that the last thing I wanted to do was talk about what I was going through. And I avoided people like the plague for fear of being seen by people whose opinions I valued as a negative Nancy and bitter Betty. And then I think to myself that the bitterness that’s left should be understood–why is it even such a negative label? Emotions are what they are, so who can judge me and say and too bitter–from my perspective, it’s just as relevant to wonder if I’m bitter enough because I haven’t allowed my bitterness to permeate my decision-making as a mother. So then I began to really appreciate the people who ASKED me how I was doing and stayed around no matter what I was talking about, whether it highlighted my bitterness or not. Because they still saw me, Ranada, and still cared about me as a full person, and didn’t confine me to the box I limited my own self-image to.

There are times that I also wonder why I care what people think. And I’ve realized it’s because I’m human. Humans need to be liked, accepted, affirmed, and understood. So when I’m feeling my loneliest, it’s because I feel like the group of people who have tried to understand what my life has been like in the last two years is much smaller than the group of people I considered my friends before this ordeal began. It’s all an exercise in evaluation.

Self-evaluation, which I’ve gone above and beyond in doing for the last two years and had to realize that even though so many of the self-help articles begin and end with self-evaluation, that I was being WAY too hard on myself, and there definitely is a such thing as judging yourself too harshly.

The evaluation of the people I can truly call my village, understanding that I could not have made it to this place in my life without their support and understanding that you can’t predict who will be standing there when the dust settles. And you can only trust that God sends his encouragement through the people He chooses–over the last two years, I’ve received a good word from the most unlikeliest of places, and they were salve for my soul.

The evaluation of my previous perspectives, societal ideals, and my current reality in the context of those.

The evaluation of what happiness is to me and what role hardships have in my journey.

Evaluation.

Zora Neale Hurston’s birthday was yesterday, and one of her most well known quotes is

There are years that ask questions and years that answer.

Sometimes I think 2012 and 2013 were question-asking years and I’m hoping 2014 is an answer-giving year. But time will tell, huh?

So as my bitterness continues to subside, or at least I continue becoming one with it and learning to not care if people use it as a label when I’m only speaking my truth, I am kinda looking forward to sharing the lessons and emotions and outlooks from this joyful yet painful, rewarding yet taxing, fun yet hard, loving yet lonely journey as a single mother. Happy new year!

It’s my birthday!

It’s my birthday!

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I’m spending my day doing what I seem to do best: reflecting. This is an Instagram post that is resonating with me. Everything happens for a reason, and just because your plans may not pan out, it doesn’t equal failure. Here’s to the success all around me. Happy, happy birthday to me, to me, to me! [In my Sprout/Chica Show/Sunny Side Up voice]

Finding My Way Again

Finding My Way Again

Man, I’ve neglected my blog. But I guess that’s a reasonable trade off since I’ve been focusing on not neglecting myself. This year, I’ve really had to do a lot of figuring out how to trust my instincts, how to be confident again, how not to care so much about the street committee, how to see myself as more than a single mother, how to be more patient with myself, and how to accept help. I still struggle with a lot: speaking up for myself or not dwelling on things after I’ve decided to not say anything, asking for help, figuring out what relationships I want to invest in and/or repair, moving back to a place where I dream big and take steps towards those dreams, understanding what friendship means, and lots more. Then, of course, I’m still doing what I can to prove my worth at work and I’m still always trying to be current in what’s going on in the world and doing what I can in my community. Hopefully, in 2014, I can start back blogging and really sharing my thoughts on a regular basis. Maybe in the few weeks left, I’ll get back to the place where I’m comfortable sharing and not so worried about what people think about me. Until then, here’s a little poem I came across this morning.

After a While

After a while you learn
The subtle difference between
Holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t always mean security.

And you begin to learn
That kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes ahead
With the grace of a woman
Not the grief of a child

And you learn
To build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is
Too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way
Of falling down in mid flight

After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden
And decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers

And you learn
That you really can endure
That you are really strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and you learn
With every good bye you learn.

-Veronica A. Shoffstall

Softball and Switchblades

Softball and Switchblades

I’ve had to say goodbye to a hefty number of family members in my life, but bidding farewell to my auntie (pronounced aint-tee) Rita Kaye Robinson Purvis has been almost surreal to me. I can’t really believe she’s gone. If I ever believed anyone was invincible, it was her. I still haven’t really fully accepted that she didn’t tase the heck out of cancer. She stood 4’11”, but she was one of the feistiest people I’ve ever known. She was fun to be around, but she didn’t take no mess either. She was the only girl smack dab in the middle of a bunch of boys (like me! I’m the only girl and middle child too 🙂 #youcare), and she was tough yet nurturing. She was one of those people you definitely wanted on your team. She was fiercely protective of anyone she loved.

I love these pics. Her smile tells you most of what you need to know about her.
I love these pics. Her smile tells you most of what you need to know about her.

As I was reading her obituary, I realized that even though I’ve always known she was a single mother, I never labeled her that. One line in her obituary caught my attention more than anything else: “She was proud to be a single mom to her four children.” I began to wonder why I’m so ashamed of my status when I’ve admired her all of my life. I still don’t have an answer. It never even crossed my mind that it was anything but natural for her to be my cousins’ solo parent and protector. As a matter of fact, as I’ve been navigating my way through this single motherhood thing, I didn’t even think about Rita as a role model of single motherhood. Isn’t that crazy? She’s definitely been a role model for motherhood–as are my mom, my cousins, and others. But when I think of single mothers, she just didn’t come to mind even though she’s never not been in my life–so how could I overlook that? Of course I was a child so I wasn’t privy to some things, but she never seemed upset about her “plight” or resentful or any of that. It’s kind of been a lightbulb never-ending moment since I read that line. I’ve been thinking about this almost nonstop. I think the biggest way I can honor my aunt now is to figure out how to start being completely proud of my journey as a mother. And maybe, as well, to be willing to share with my village, which includes her children, when I’m feeling overwhelmed the way she and my mom shared with each other. It’s really hard for me to show my hand and let people know when I’m feeling really down, but I know I need to start, as they reminded me this weekend. (I’m listening Shun and Chelle, I promise!)

When I think of Rita, I will always remember her coming down from the scorekeeper’s box to give me a hug when I arrived at the softball field to watch a game. As I noted in my blog post about my granddaddy, baseball and softball are a family tradition, and of course, she played, and when she stopped playing you could still find her at a game. Keeping score, socializing, making everyone around her feel special, and talking much smack.

Still at the ballpark
Still at the ballpark

And yes, that second part of this blog title is how I will remember her as well. My aunt never left home without a boxcutter, switchblade, taser, SOMEthing. She gave me my first taser after I started living by myself. And when my neighbor was effing with me, I’m sure Rita wished she were in Atlanta to stick up for me. I hope I made her proud when I decided to start walking my dog with my softball bat in my hand. That definitely solved my problem! I didn’t hear another threat once I showed I wasn’t taking any mess off of him! I can thank Rita Kaye for her feistiness when it came to protecting myself. She would say “I don’t care how much bigger they are, how much stronger they are, I got something for em.” And she always had a way of making you feel so much better and more optimistic about a situation after she finished with her pep talk and but-I’m serious-though jokes.

I will absolutely miss my aunt. I’m happy she’s no longer in pain. I know her mom and children and grandchildren and brothers and nieces and nephews will carry her in our hearts forever more. Rest in love and power and happiness, my firecracker aunt.

Where do they go to?

Where do they go to?

Where do they go to, the people who leave?
Are they around us, in the cool evening breeze?
Do they still hear us, and watch us each day?
I’d like you to think of them with us that way.

Where do they go to, when no longer here?
I think that they stay with us, calming our fear
Loving us always, holding our hands
Walking beside us, on grass or on sand.

Where do they go to, well it’s my belief
They watch us and help us to cope with our grief
They comfort and stay with us, through each of our days
Guiding us always through life’s mortal maze.

KevF – 21st August 2007

100 Day Reset

100 Day Reset

It’s been about 60 days since I started the 31 Day Reset. Even though I haven’t finished it, it really has helped me re-position my thinking. So as an update, I’ll share with you what I haven’t finished, and some highlights of what I did finish.

Still Left to Do

  • Take Myself Out on a Date – I find it interesting that I haven’t done this. Pre-baby, I did this often. I guess it just shows that I don’t carve out enough time for myself.
  • Get Rid of Stuff I Don’t Need – I have started, but I have a long way to go. I did pack up all of the baby stuff we don’t need anymore. I set an appointment with Salvation Army to come pick it up, and they didn’t come! So I guess I’ll be asking someone with an SUV to come help me. Earlier this year, I almost got my house completely organized, then I had a relapse of depression, and let it all go. So I guess it’s time to start over.
  • Remove Negative People from My Life – I have done a little of this, but it wasn’t on purpose. I have isolated myself from tons of people, so I guess now, I need to decide who I want to reach out to and who I want to leave on the peripheral.
  • Make a New Friend – I would say “no new friends,” but I’m open. I guess my first priority in terms of relationships, though, is to figure out which old friends I want to re-engage.
  • Let Go of the Past – I’m working on it, really.
  • Make a Bucket List – I have one stashed in my head–I just haven’t written it down yet.
  • Write My Own Eulogy – I imagine it will be very similar to my Ideal Life Narrative, so I’m not pressed to do this yet.
  • Create a Vision Board – I think my old vision board has become a barrier. I keep saying I will just update the old one, but maybe, just maybe, I should start from scratch. Hmm.

Of the other tasks, I really liked the day redesign that I did, and although it hasn’t become the norm yet, I am enjoying trying to make it happen. I do wake up a teensy weensy bit earlier, and I do make sure I eat SOMETHING in the morning, even if not as much as I’d like. I also have started getting a little exercise in, although not as much I really want.

Also, I’ve started back going to see my counselor, and she’s helping me on my quest to trust and believe in myself again. When I’m down on myself, we talk through why, and so far, I have had no valid reasons. I just take on guilt and blame, even when it doesn’t really belong to me. So I’ve been thankful to be able to spend my splurge money on seeing her.

Although I don’t write in it everyday, my gratitude journal has helped me alot with focusing on the good rather than the bad. I’ve even been able to let go of something that would have added to my bottom line each month but was stressing me out. I’ll pursue that when and if the spirit hits me. I’ve realized that the Lord will provide without me worrying about what I could be getting.

What’s really funny is: the day i was supposed to stop complaining for 24 hours, I ended up writing a complaint to Firestone about my mom’s experience, and it ended up being a huge misunderstanding for which I had to apologize to the person I inadvertently reported (I even sent her a card!) and to her managers for writing the note. And that caused me to stop complaining for more than 24 hours because I felt so bad. So talk about a lesson there!

And my personal mission statement has really helped me when I need a distraction or motivation to throw some negative thought out of my head. It’s kind of amazing that I can give myself a little pep. I’m glad that when I do feel powerful, I have had reasons (like this reset) to write it down so that I can look at my true-to-life words when I’m feeling down and weak.

Finally, I had to write myself a love letter, so I’ll share it with you, even though part of me doesn’t want to. But I keep realizing that I never know who I’m helping when I allow myself to be vulnerable and transparent. So here goes. Happy Sunday!

Subject: I love you.

Dear FutureMe,

Congrats on all the progress you’ve made so far! Now you have even more to be grateful for. It’s time to forge ahead. It’s time to reclaim your confidence and your passion and your “I can do it” attitude. Yes, you’ve gone through the worst part of your life, but just like the other rough patches you’ve been through, you will be better for it when it is all said and done. I know sometimes you think you are less of a woman because of your romantic failures, but please believe and know and OWN the fact that you are MORE than a woman. You are a WARRIOR and an extremely loyal, dedicated, and gifted person. Do you realize that in the worst of times, you conquered your depression, your hurt, and your bad outlook on your own life to do whatever was necessary to give Frederick everything he needed and more?? That’s powerful, young lady. Even when you didn’t want to take care of yourself, you did it anyway so that Frederick could have a strong foundation and a solid connection to his mother. Even when you despised his father, you swallowed all your hurt, anger, and sadness to try to have a cordial relationship with him for the sake of Frederick. That’s not WEAK, honey, that is STRONG.

Now, what you HAVE to do is stop owning what is NOT yours. Yes, you chose to love someone who didn’t give you that love back. But you, my darling, can’t force anyone to do anything. The horrible words that were slung at you while you were pregnant, the unwillingness to cooperate financially and physically as a co-parent, the lies, all of that—it’s not yours, and as you know after a year of trying, there’s no amount of niceness that can make a man be what he’s not. You are not responsible for his character. Got that? You’re not. And unfortunately, it took this situation for you to see his character in its fullness. And that’s ok. Because you do not regret having a beautiful, gifted, friendly, super happy child. And he’s happy! Why? Because he has you as a mother. You, who has been able to give him your all, even when you didn’t feel like the person you thought you were. You, who are still able to pour into him love and concern for his development. You, who will do any and everything it takes to see him grow into a self-sufficient, responsible young (charming–you know it!) man. YOU are the bomb.com, ma chere, even when you feel like crumbs. And that’s amazing.

So guess what. Because I love you (did you realize by now that this is a love letter??), I want to tell you this. LET IT GO. Let go of all the self-doubt, self-loathing, and self-ridicule. It’s time to move forward and follow the yellow brick road. The last road you were on was school bus yellow–you had to travel that road to get to your destiny. None of it was a mistake, dear heart. All of it happened for you to morph into an even better version of yourself. You thought you were something before?? Well guess what, now you’ve added to your testimony. You thought you were helping people before? Look how many more people you will be able to help when you show them how you bounce back and excel even after adversity. All the love and care you give to Frederick, give it to you too. I swear you deserve it. You are not less than–you are more than. You can still have everything you have always dreamed of. You can still make magic. You probably have even more magic now. You are not the sum of the bad times. You are the sum of the accomplishments you have already achieved and will continue to achieve, the family that has had your back throughout your journey, the friends who have hung in there with you, the triumphs you have experienced on the other side of every hump.

You move mountains. Keep fighting through whatever mountains will come your way. With God, anything is possible. And you know that because you have seen it over and over again in your life. Never believe that anything you have done trumps what God put in your heart. You have always been a dreamer of big dreams who wakes up and puts feet to every one of them. You can do this. You deserve this. You were made for this.

Never let anyone make you feel like you’re not worthy of honoring yourself. You have a right to your feelings. You have a right to put yourself first. You do not have to play nice with everyone no matter what. Capisce? Do what makes YOU feel good about yourself and your future and your child’s future. If it stresses you out, let it go. If it keeps you up at night, let it go. If you’re crying and it’s not worth one tear, let it go. And give all that crap to God, and don’t wonder if He’s gonna do you justice. You already know He is, so stop worrying about things you can’t control!

I hope this letter finds you in a brand new, loving, positive, promising place in your life, where you wake up with happy thoughts and new ideas and a fresh outlook on the day ahead of you. Leave the past in the past, and know in your heart that your future is #winning. And live today like the star you are.

I love you for all you are today, all you have been throughout your life, and the wonderfulness you will be in your future.

Love,
Your Past Self on July 3, 2013