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!

Image

 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

Advertisements
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!

Video

God made my bambino beautiful.

I love the lyrics of Beyonce’s new song. I look at Frederick every day and am still amazed that I shared my body with him for 40 weeks exactly. And I will always be grateful for the joy he’s brought to my life. This Thursday, my #1 blessing is Frederick Daniel. ❤

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.

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!

A letter to me from my past self

A letter to me from my past self

I started a ranting post about how depressed I have become, hoping it would help me like Kelly Rowland says her song Dirty Laundry helped her. And then my friend popped on my screen and reminded me without knowing that I never read the letter I wrote to myself in August 2012 set to deliver to me on my baby’s first birthday. (For anyone who wants to write a letter to your future self, visit futureme.org). I totally blessed myself. I take things one day at a time, but I’m glad I could reinforce what my mom tells me daily and remind myself of where I should force myself to focus my energy. Here it goes.

Dear Ranada,

One year ago, you joined the superwoman club and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy after hours of painful labor that you can no longer remember. You didn’t have support from his father despite the love you thought you shared with him–but guess what–you’ve made it an entire year. With the love and support from your mom, the rest of your family (even Clint!), your friends in Atlanta, and your friends all over the country, you and Frederick are doing well and that’s no surprise. You’re the bomb, and Frederick is going to be an amazing young man because he has you for his mom.

Keep up the good work. Enjoy life. Appreciate the blessings of motherhood. Don’t focus on what’s hard–keep your eyes on what’s great. Remember that mantra from 2010?PERSPECTIVE. Things are as they should be. You are loved. Your baby is loved.

With self-love,
Ranada

When the Fighter Is Tired

When the Fighter Is Tired

A couple of nights ago, my mom told me that my aunt Rita wasn’t doing so well. I knew she was starting to prepare me for the worst, but somewhere in my brain I couldn’t believe that my aunt, who has always been the epitome of a fighter, whether for her kids, for her grandchildren, for her nieces and nephews, for her brothers, for her parents, out on the softball field, or for her life—this isn’t her first battle with cancer, would start giving up. Even though signs were pointing to her possibly being too tired to keep pushing through this one, no not my Rita Kaye, who carries tasers and pocket knives on her at all times. So although it’s been weighing on my mind, I couldn’t allow myself to get really upset about the possibility of losing yet another special family member so soon.

Earlier that day, my pastor had sent this text:

Eph 2:8 for by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Then yesterday morning, I got this Bible verse of the day.

Psalm 46:1-3

46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah…

Verse 2 really hit a nerve for me!

Then this morning, I got this one.

Isaiah 61:1

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound…

Then, when I had my daily commute convo with my mom this morning, she told me that my aunt is willing to try another route of treatment, which says to us that she is definitely not giving up. This fight is just a little more daunting than the other times. I didn’t cry when my ma told me she was worried about her, but I did cry this morning because I just want to keep being able to see her when I visit, and I want Frederick to see why I love her so much. And I want Frederick to show her his baseball skills too–add to the family tradition, you know. 🙂 So I am keeping faith that she’ll win again against the ugliness of cancer.

My family seems to be ground zero for cancer. I’ve lost several family members to different variations of the disease, and I have a couple of survivors that I keep in my brain any time I even think I may want to start worrying about whether or not I will fight it myself. And yes, it’s always a slight possibility in my brain–I have had a serious headache for over a week, and I kept steering myself from being afraid that it was more serious than maybe stress. (And, no, I am NOT a hypochondriac!) Turns out it’s a sinus infection. 🙂 But this just speaks to how much family (BOTH sides) has dealt with cancer. And even still, I usually don’t participate in Relay for Life, but how can I not this year with my dad’s only sister fighting for her life as we speak? So I am participating, and I hope you will either join my team, if you are in Atlanta, or support my fundraising efforts. Just remember–someone you know, maybe even you or me, may need the cure in the future.

relayforlife