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

“Black Violin” Performing, Thursday

“Black Violin” Performing, Thursday

Support the arts!

West Jackson

Black Violin is a duo that blends classical music with hip-hop, rock, R&B and bluegrass, all on the violin. They started ten years ago and have toured across the globe. They have collaborated with Kanye West, Aretha Franklin and Aerosmith. Black Violin will be in West Jackson on Thursday, October 3rd. Come out and enjoy the creativity!

Who: Everyone
What: Black Violin performance
Where: Roes E. McCoy Building, JSU main campus
When: October 3rd
Time: 7:00 pm
Cost: $15.00 general admission, $5.00 for JSU students

Purchase tickets online at http://www.jsums.edu/artisticintensity. For questions, call 601-979-7036.

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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

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship

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

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill

I dunno if you noticed but if you scroll down and look on the right side of this page, you will see a list of black-owned businesses that I support. I add to this list from time to time based on my own experiences and from recommendations of others who have patronized these businesses and want to spread the word. So feel free to click, click, click.

And if you are in Atlanta and interested in starting or growing your business, please check out this event. The Women’s Entrepreneurship Roundtable features a panel of successful business owners who will tell us about their journey and answer questions from the audience. It’s always a very worthwhile event, so come on out!

Women's Entrepreneur Roundtable

31 Reasons I Love My Mom

31 Reasons I Love My Mom

Last month, I shared a status on Facebook that mentioned that I had received a couple of negative comments about how much I talk about my mom. I received tons and tons of support for showing my mom love, and then one friend even suggested that I share something I love about my mom daily. Well, I’ve never been one to turn down a “dare” so I took the challenge. And now that it’s September (the challenge is over!), here’s a run down of just a few of the endless reasons I love my mom.

mommyme

Day 1: I love my mom because she gave me her heavy duty umbrella this morning and took my flimsy little umbrella. And it came in handy when I drove up to daycare and the sky was falling. My little umbrella is for sprinkle storms, lol. Thanks again ma!

Day 2: I love my mom because she helps me start my day on a positive note every morning. During my commute, I always talk to her about how we’re feeling, any new family updates, and current events. It kinda reminds me of when I was a kid and she would call me at home after I got off the bus. Back then, I thought she was magic because she could tell if something was wrong just by the way I said hello. I enjoy having someone to check in with.

Day 3: I love my mom because she has believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. She reminds me of who I am when I’ve forgotten.

Day 4: I love my mom because she knew I needed a break even though I’d never ask. She came here, got Frederick, and then brought him back because she doesn’t want me on the road. Thanks again.

Day 5: I love my because she exposed me to culture and education outside of the classroom. I love to travel, and I know it’s partly because it’s second nature.
Day 6: J’adore ma maman because she always includes me in her If-I-win-the-big-lottery-wishlist.

Day 7: I love my mom because she has become the caretaker for my aunt, even though she had a million reasons not to. She’s my example of duty, love, and family responsibility. And yes, I know I skipped yesterday–I wanted to be consistent with the calendar so that I don’t have to keep looking to see what day I’m on, lol.

Day 8: I love my mom because when I was a kid, she never gave me a hard time for my preference to write her a letter when something was bothering me over talking to her. I still remember vividly putting letters on her pillow and running to my room and pretending to be sleep when I heard her walking to the back. It means a lot to me to have had someone who respects my ways of communicating.

Day 9: I love my mom because she’s a stunna. You would never guess how old she is. And she is one of those people that looks great when she’s not trying. So to you people who think I look like an undergraduate, I get it from my mama. LOL

Day 10: I love my mom because she instilled the importance of community service in me. She took us to feed the homeless on holidays, she encouraged me to tutor my peers and students in lower grades, and she never let me forget to give back to the community that supported me.

Day 11: I love my mom because I have a thousand sippy cups as a result of her quest for the “perfect” sippy cup. lol

Day 12: I love my mom because I get my niceness under pressure from her. I’ll credit my fiestiness when I’m fed up to my daddy or maybe my aunt Vernita, but I know I get my (albeit reluctant) need to try to keep my temper at bay and smooth it out if at all possible from her. She hates conflict and avoids it like the plague.

Day 13: I love my mom because she and Frederick have a secret language. When we skyped her yesterday, he started grinning and “talking” to her. I have no idea what their convo was about, but they enjoyed it.

Day 14: I love my mom because when she wanted me to divert my focus to positive things, she didn’t just say “be positive,” she gave me plenty to focus on. She’s been in my corner, she helps me physically, emotionally, and financially, and when I’m feeling like I’m missing out, I can redirect to how much help I have from her.

Day 15: I love my mom because her food is yummy. She says when she cooks for me, she cooks with love for me and my baby, and that’s why I haven’t been able to replicate a couple of her (seemingly very simple) recipes.

Day 16: I love my mom because she’s always been a real person, not a fantasy. When I go through various life experiences, she doesn’t judge me, but she shares with me similar experiences she’s been through. She’s never pretended to be perfect, and I appreciate that because she’s a true example of “how I got over”.

Day 17: I love my mom because she tells me stories about my relatives who have gone on. She lets me know that they were my guardian angels on earth too. And I wouldn’t really know that I am anything like my Aunt Vernita if my mom didn’t tell me. Happy birthday, Vernita.

Day 18: I love my mom because she raised me in church, and I still have a family at Zion Travelers to whom she gives regular updates (and they actually care!). I love my mom because she has Frederick in church when he’s in MS.

Day 19: I love my mom because she plays Wordfeud with me and gives me commentary on her other games and background life info about the randoms she plays lol!

Day 20: I love my mom because she loves ratchet TV. As intellectual as she is, you’d never guess that she enjoys watching Jerry Springer, Steve Wilkos, and the who’s the daddy show (can’t think of the name). And then, because she’s so intellectual, she analyzes the personalities she sees and connects them to real life to explain why folks act so crazy. Gotta love it! (Sorry if that was a secret, Mary Robinson!!)
Day #21: I love my mom because she really took care of my hair and skin when I was growing up. She never let me sleep with stress on my hair, which meant she combed and brushed my hair every single morning. And she lathered me up with cocoa butter, aloe vera, and whatever else to make sure I didn’t have scars and such. I finally appreciate this now that Frederick is starting to come home with various scars. I also love her because she STILL takes care of my hair when she can. She will sit down and twist all this hair I have if I ask.

Day #22: I love my mom because she encouraged me to start taking advantage of kids eating free at Piccadilly so on nights like tonight when I don’t feel like cooking, I can still make sure Frederick gets his veggies. Yum. Reminds me of going to Morrison’s after church some Sundays!

Day #23: I love my mom because she has always given me space to choose my path. When faced with a fork in the road, sometimes she won’t even give me her opinion if she thinks I will just go with that instead of figuring out what I want. Case in point: when Tougaloo sent me a letter before I went back to school for 11th grade saying if I maintained my GPA I could bypass my senior year and go there on a full ride, she let me choose without pushing me in any direction. She said she didn’t want me to ever look back on life and regret a decision because I didn’t make it. I’m the master of my fate.

Day #24: I love my mom because she sticks up for me. Sometimes I get bogged down in wishing someone would speak up for me/defend me/have my back in tough situations, not knowing that my mom already has. She just may not tell me for months or years, lol.

Day #25: I love my mom because I can’t for the life of me figure out how she did laundry and ironed clothes for our family when I was growing up. It’s only two of us now, and I never feel like I’m caught up on laundry, and I definitely don’t have time to be ironing LOADS of clothes at a time. Seems like her days were made up of >24 hours, but of course they weren’t. Guess she hides the superwoman get up under her clothes, lol!

Day 26: I love my mom because she loves animals. For as long as I can remember, she’s always had love for the 4-legged companions. Even though they creep me out, her fave is long-haired cats, but she loves her grandpups tons. From Delilah (cat) to Jeremiah (dog) to Diamond (cat) to Rex (dog) to Jade (dog), there’s always been an animal around her house to soak up the extra love and compassion. Hope I didn’t miss any pets. LOL (And yes, she loves her some Smokie, and he loves her too.)

Day #27: I love my mom because even though math is my forte, I have effective writing skills because of her. She is a retired English instructor, which means when I was growing up I couldn’t finish a sentence using incorrect grammar without her interrupting me and making me correct myself. I was constantly looking in the dictionary for the correct spelling of words because she wouldn’t just tell me. I never received the kind of help i wanted when writing papers because she believed the only way to learn was to completely write the paper before she marked it up with red ink. All of that has resulted in writing skills that people seem to enjoy reading (www.nadajo.com) and that I am able to use in proofreading. Thanks, smarty pants lady.

Day #28: I love my mom because she is one of the main reasons I wanted to attend an HBCU. She took me to probably every JSU home game and several of the away games if there was bus headed there, and she made sure I was on somebody’s campus every summer.

Day #29: I love my mom because she prepared me for my future. I wasn’t afraid to stay on campus (even at 16!) and I wasn’t afraid to move to another city after college because neither was new frontier. She let me try different things and figure out things while I was growing up so that she could catch me if I fell. I still remember her telling my dad that they needed to let me go out on dates while I was still at home so that I wouldn’t get to college and lose my mind. I can still see the frown etched in his face when my first date got to the house to introduce himself a couple of days before the actual date (for which my dad didn’t even answer the door–he went and sat on the porch. LOL!).

Day #30: I love my mom because she was always the “cool mama”–every one of my friends who has been around her any time loves her. I remember being jealous of Jamie B. when she got my mom as her big sister in Christ. Lordy, I was like she’s all mine!!! LOL

Day #31: I love my mom simply because she’s my mom and she’s stuck with me for life. LOL! Thanks for bearing with me all month! Bye August!

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