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!

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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

MLM: Life’s Challenges

MLM: Life’s Challenges

I picked this post, written 10/10/06, because it’s funny to me now, 4 years later, that I actually titled it “Life’s Challenges” (when the challenges seem like much more of blips on the radar–but maybe that’s a brain thing–maybe my current challenges are just as surmountable as they were then and as soon as I overcome them, I’ll be laughing about it). It’s also funny just how consistent I am.  In this post, I talk about someone who can dish smart aleck comments but can’t take them, I talk about my birthday plans, I talk about my social life, and I talk about being busy.  Well, guess what.  I was just dealing with someone who can dish the sarcasm but can’t take it; I just sent an email about part 1 of my birthday plans (an awesome trip to do some volunteer work in New Orleans, my fave city) and I’m still trying to figure out part 2; I was just telling a friend that I feel old now because it seems that now I hibernate in the winter with the exception of Red Tie Soiree and that I’m not the young socialite I used to be; and I am still as busy as ever (but now I have a handle on it).  I love it that even my blog shows what people tell me all the time–I’m one of the most consistent people alive.  Another thing that is consistent over time is that when I’m stressed or feeling challenged, although it’s hard sometimes, I try to focus on other, not so stressful parts of my life while overcoming the challenge (which is why only part of this post is actually about my challenges then).  Anywho, I hope you enjoy this window into the past.


I didn’t go to bed till about 5:30 this morning. And I have to leave my apt to 7:25 to ensure timely arrival to work. I left at 7:45. Yes, I was late. WHy did I stay up so late? Because my partner in one of my classes is something… He sent me his part of the paper we’re writing (mind you, I’m the one compiling our findings to make a consistent and worthwhile paper AND editing) at 12:15. YES, 12:15. And do you think he appreciates any of the extra I’ve had to give in order to make assignments even remotely okay? Nope, cuz he’s too worried about whether or not I’m kissing his ass (and I’m not). Every thing that I say results in a “Why are you so mean?” or “You shouldn’t be so sarcastic.” To which I reply, if you can’t take it, don’t dish it. He always has smart ass things to say, but he can’t handle when I simply reply. I know this is a test from above, so I’m trying to hold my peace and make it through this class without cursing him out. And the paper still isn’t done. But after his monologue about how we’re a team and if he needs to sacrifice to get it done, he will, I’m letting him. I’m sacrificing my assurance in myself to write a good paper to let him write a possibly mediocre one since I had to take off work last time we had an assignment because of his late ass. And he had the audacity to tell me how he’s juggling so much as if I’m not. UGH! Lord, help me through, PLEASE! But because I wrote most of it and gave him directions about what is needed to complete the paper, hopefully, he can’t botch it up too bad. And I’m still going to review it before we turn it in. I just hope I have enough time to edit if I need to.

Anyhow, on to more positive things to think about. I woke up because of a very plain but somehow very meaningful “Good morning.” text from someone I only see in a social setting every blue moon, and it really made me smile and get on up and tackle a new day on less than 2 hours sleep. Looks like I quite possibly got my mojo back. *hmmm* I need to find my calendar so that I can try to make time for special people.

I am throwing a birthday party the weekend before my birthday. I’m so excited about it. This weekend and next weekend we are gonna shop venues. I’m leaning toward the Royal since I’ve been there more than once and since it’s one of those low-key under-the-radar spots. But I’ll have to see if I can get the DJ to be a smidge more crunk. I usually like the laidback thing, but I have a feeling I’m gonna wanna shake my groove thang that night. But we have a copla more places on the list to check out. I would go back to Sutra (where I threw my graduation party) if they hadn’t tried to kick me out of my own party even though I wasn’t doing anything but sitting down looking inebriated. Ugh. But yeah I’m sure out of the places on this list we’ll find a good spot. I just gotta find me a super fly outfit. And I gotta do something with my hair. I don’t think I want the big fro that night. I think I’ll want a sleek sexy look. 🙂

Have I said on here how much I love being a little urbanite/socialite? I love mixing and mingling and expanding my social network. I like it that people know they can count on me to support them, whether it be a community service activity or a party or a roundtable discussion or a happy hour. I like being that girl that people love to send their evites to. I bask when people call during their event to ask where I am if I haven’t arrived yet. I didn’t really have a point for that besides that I just really enjoy the social part of my life.

Who am I kidding? I pretty much enjoy all parts of my life. Staying busy with the stuff at the top of my priority list keeps me happy. Yeah, I get stressed out every now and then, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have my hands in a bunch of worthwhile activities/projects at one time. I enjoy seeing projects from start to finish. I enjoy seeing stuff executed properly and successfully. I enjoy working with those people with whom I work very well. Oh yeah, and I enjoy making A-‘s on my first midterm! *yay me* I still want to push to do better on the second midterm and final, but I’m so happy that so far I have a solid A in that class. I’ll need it since I’m not so certain about making an A in the other class. And since my stream of consciousness has guided me full circle, I guess it’s time for me to sign off. Until next time, folks!

And I’m still talking about my hair and what to do when I’m not wearing a big fro.  lol. I have an event in a couple of weeks, and I need another “sleek” style.  We’ll see what happens.

Here’s a song to get you through life’s challenges.

Happy Monday, folks!

Be true to you.

Be true to you.

I got an extremely random set of text messages today, and it got me thinking. I want to share with you my conclusion from the exchange.

Lesson of the Day:  Be true to yourself. Consider advice from others, but make your own decisions. Follow your own heart and conscience.  At the end of the day, no one will live with ur regrets but you. So why be bound by other people’s opinions?

I was blessed to have parents who believed in letting me be me.  When I was faced with the decision of whether or not to skip my senior year of high school and start college at 16, my mom said, “This one is on you.  I’m not going to make this decision for you and have you resenting me one day if you don’t do what you really want.”  I will always remember those words.

I truly believe everything happens as they are supposed to–but how we feel about all of everything depends on several factors.  Attitude and perspective (during and after the fact) are part of it, but our regrets play a major role as well.

Listen up.  You only have one life.  Live it the way you’re led to live it.  Don’t depend on anyone else to bestow upon you the dreams they have.  Accept the ones God puts inside of you, and pursue those.  Don’t wait for anyone’s permission.  DO YOU.

I want it all!

I want it all!

From the time I thought that boys were no longer icky and were worthy of interest, endless thoughts, and daydreams, I’ve always had a “type”.  Of course, physical characteristics were always important–my mom always told me “you have to wake up to him in the morning” and “you need to think of your kids.” But if we took a look at all the guys I’ve ever crushed on or dated, I think one thing they mostly all had in common was that they were strong personalities dipped in lots of charm.  I don’t know what it is, but I’ve always liked that guy who loves (or at least is comfortable in) the spotlight, knows everybody there is to know, and spends his time mapping out and taking action toward his passions.  And many times I’ve blamed this insatiable desire for my dating woes.  The guys I actually liked back were the guys with girls chasing them down the block (no, really–one ex had a girl chase him down State St, 220, and Northside Drive in Jackson in a car, but that’s another story) and doing whatever they can to divert his attention; the guys whose dreams were so big that they didn’t know how or didn’t want to juggle, and I never knew if I’d ever be a sizable priority in their lives.

Yet, I have not been willing to (or maybe even able to) take this characteristic off my “list”.  There’s just something about a guy who has mastered his social skills and oozes a certain self-confidence and who is all about doing something major while he’s on earth that makes me fan myself. And I’m fine with that.  Why? Because I think as we get older, I’m more likely to find the sharp, charismatic guy who is that able to provide me with the balance that has been missing for so long (and yes this is an ambiguous statement–I need help with my own balance and he needs to have some level of balance on his own).  We’re all growing into ourselves, right? So once we know what we want, including our partner–don’t we do want we have to do to manage all things important?

So I said all that to introduce an interesting Twitter convo that made me say hmmm.

JHJeffers: RT @DGJ_1977: RT @RHYMEFEST: So ladies be careful what you ask for, because loving ambitious, charismatic & powerful men comes with a cost.

Me: Which is? RT @JHJeffers: RT @RHYMEFEST: So ladies be careful what u ask for bc loving ambitious, charismatic & powerful men comes w a cost.

JHJeffers: @NadaJo: Powerful men often have a strong desire to control and have egos that are out of this world

Me: A few r humble but I can c it RT @JHJeffers @NadaJo: Powerful men often have a strong desire to control&have egos that are out of this world

JHJeffers: @NadaJo ‎​Charismatic men are super flirtatious and sometimes cross the line

Me: I see RT @JHJeffers: @NadaJo ‎​Charismatic men are super flirtatious and sometimes cross the line

JHJeffers: @NadaJo Ambitious men spend long hours working, Sometimes @ the expense of marriage

Me: Mm hmm RT @JHJeffers: @NadaJo Ambitious men spend long hours working, Sometimes @ the expense of marriage

Me: @JHJeffers so basically we ladies who like pwrful, charismatic, ambitious men need to also pray that he has humility, self-ctrl, and balance

Me: #icandothat

JHJeffers: @NadaJo: Yeeeaaaahhhhh, but I would just shoot for 2 out of 3 #imjustsaying

HarlemFaith: (Well said) RT @NadaJo so we ladies who like pwrful, charismatic, ambitious men need to pray he has humility, self-ctrl, and balance

HarlemFaith: @NadaJo I don’t know if I agree with everything @jhjeffers is saying.. but it’s interesting.

Me (knowing this will turn into a blog post, maybe even a series cuz this is getting good! heehee): What do u think? RT @HarlemFaith: @NadaJo I don’t know if I agree with everything @jhjeffers is saying.. but it’s interesting.

HarlemFaith: @NadaJo @jhjeffers I don’t like the fact that the argument seemed so segmented and over generalized. Yes, those characteristics make ppl

HarlemFaith: @nadajo @jhjeffers successful but powerful men(and women) in lasting relationships know when to turn them on and off.

HarlemFaith: @nadajo @jhjeffers too much of anything is bad…. and there’s a time and place for everything.

HarlemFaith: @nadajo @jhjeffers… I want my man to be just as ambitious as I am.. (and he is) when we are together that energy is directed towards me.

HarlemFaith: For a while, me and many of my counterparts were told that our ambitious, agressive personalities were the reason we didn’t have a man

HarlemFaith: I disagree.. I think there is a time and place for anything. and the key to a successful relationship without losing who you are is figuring out how to channel that intense energy.. and use it for good. lol. Use those same skills to please your man.

HarlemFaith: I’m a big proponent of playing my “position”. I can be your woman (opinionated and all) but still allow you to be the man.

Me: YES! RT @HarlemFaith I’m a big proponent of playing my “position”. I can be ur woman (opinionated & all) but still allow you to be the man.

The convo is still going on.  But I’ll do a poll.  Can we (I) have it all?  Is it possible to have what we want plus the balance needed to make the relationship last and thrive?  Do we have to choose between the power, charisma, and ambition and the devotion and dedication?  Chime in!

Mothers and their Daughters

Mothers and their Daughters

Find this picture and more at http://www.orkinphoto.com/children.php.
Mother and Daughter at Penn Station, New York City, 1947 - For this and more pictures, visit http://www.orkinphoto.com/children.php.

Today seems like one of those days that I’m supposed to pick up on a common theme.  Well, a few seconds ago, I figured it out when my bestie emailed me the inspirational start  of a story that’s destined for a happy ending.  She and her mother are on a journey together to build up her mom’s spirit.  And their closeness and today’s triumph reminded me immediately of an interchange my mom and I had this morning.

Somewhat randomly during a convo this morning, my mom said this:

You are such a joy to me.  I just want you to know you live up to the renewal of hope your name invokes. Love you.

That made me tear up this morning, and it’s making me tear up now. (And on top of the teariness LYH’s email just invoked, I need to chill out before I’m on the extreme side of things I just mentioned!) The relationship between mother and daughter is an amazing one.  I’ve spent my life loving my mom and trying to make her proud, and she spent hers trying to make my life exponentially better than hers.  At some point, we transitioned from just a parent-child relationship to a parent-child-friends relationship.  And now that I’m an adult, I understand the sacrifices she has made, and I worry about her probably just as much as she worries about me.  Now, add to the loving and the making proud other things such as checking up on, praying for, trying to prevent worry and stress, defending and threatening on behalf of–all the stuff I owe her for being there for me since even before I was born.

Here’s to all the mothers and daughters out there who are ride or die with each other!  We could not be where we are without the exceptional love of them, and we’re trying our best to return the favor now.  Love you, mama!