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

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.

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

The last couple of weeks, especially last week, have just been extremely rough, but I’ve found myself becoming more and more receptive to positive words. I may not always fully believe them, but I receive them and try to think of them and feel them. I opened an email this morning, and here’s the quote I found.
May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and  others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the  love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow  your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for  each and every one of us.
Thanks, Virgie, for sending that. I hope you readers find some inspiration/positivity/uplift in that. I’ll be back when I’m ready to share some things about last week. Stay tuned.
Be You

Be You

This song popped in my head while chatting with a friend today. It’s a song that’s actually a Stevie Wonder classic that I’ve always loved since the first time I heard it watching School Daze when I was a kid.

Butterflies begin from having been another
As a child is born from being in a mother’s womb
But how many times have you wished you were some other
Someone than who you are

Yet who’s to say that if all were uncovered
You will like what you see?
You can only be you as I can only be me

Flowers cannot bloom until it is their season
As we would not be here unless it was our destiny
But how many times have you wished to be in spaces
Time places than what you were

Yet who’s to say with unfamiliar faces
You could anymore be loving you that you’d see?
You can only be me as I can only be me

Now when I was a kid, I may have just liked it because the college queen was being crowned to it and the guy sitting on the steps was just crooning away. But now I like it because it’s something that I really strive to live by. So many of us spend so much time trying to go against the grain of whom we are instead of identifying then leveraging our talents and skills and personality traits to the fullest. We spend lots of time focused on what we (or actually, most ofthe time, others) perceive as flaws, instead of focusing on the essence of ourselves. God made us who we are on purpose. That’s not to say there aren’t things in life we don’t need to work on, but we need to just be. How do you even know what flaws you have if you really don’t know what makes you tick or understand what is really important to you and what’s not. Be who is naturally you. And let me be me.

I think there are several people out there that have issues with the fact that I. Am. Always. Me. I can’t even help it. It’s just not in my make up to even give a thought about being something I’m not. In fact, the couple of times that I’ve consciously tried, usually specifically just to make someone else feel at ease, it was a mega disaster. I know I’m quirky, I know I do based on what I feel, I know I say what’s on my mind, I know I can be hot or cold–which just so you know, is directly related to the fact that I’m either all in or pretty much completely unconcerned and I’m very passionate or nonchalant. I have dabbled in the gray, but it’s not often–usually it’s black and white. I’m okay with that. Why? Because I know it about myself, and I’ve learned (and am still learning) how to utilize the natural characteristics I have.

You know what’s really difficult for me? Dealing with people who won’t be themselves. It’s much much worse than dealing with people who are themselves and I just don’t agree with them or like particular attributes. But the genuine sincerity of just being commands my respect. We’re all different so we won’t always agree or even click, but at least we can have a real conversation. I’ve encountered this in dating because I’ve met a couple of guys who wanted me to direct them into being who I wanted them to be. Well, I can’t. I just want them to be themselves. If you being you + me being me = compatibility, then great! If not, that’s ok. It happens. But who wants to live a life of keeping up a mask to make someone else happy? Does that make you happy? If it does, well, … alrighty. But I know I wouldn’t be happy with someone imposing their ideas of whom I should be onto me, so I can’t do that to anyone else. Not on purpose anyway. Dig it?

I just really think that we really have to look within and appreciate our good qualities and recognize opportunities to drive your own life using those qualities as tools instead of always being worried to death about flaws that may or may not be flaws and letting them inhibit us from our dreams and goals.

Well that’s all I have for you today. 🙂  I’ll be back later. Until then, hopefully, I, while being me, will bump into you being you.

Feature Friday… well kinda

Feature Friday… well kinda

Today, I’m still in a sanging mood, and during an impromptu yet really solid conversation about knowing who we are and what we deserve, Sirobe reminded me of a very special song that I’m going to feature.  So I’m dedicating this one to my favorite guy (I really am singing over here, lol), especially since the artist (well, a member of the group) is living his second chance.

You knew you had me
With your sensuous charm
Yet you looked so alarmed
As I walked on by

An awesome wonder
You had to know why
I did not respond
to carry on

Chorus:
Love me in a special way
What more can I say?
Love me now
(Repeat)

Love me now
Cuz I'm special
Not the average kind
Who'll accept any line
That sounds good

So reach into your chain of thought
Try to find something new
What worked so well for you before
For me just won't do

Chorus

Love me now...

(Instrumental)

So reach into your chain of thought
Try to find something new
What worked so well for you before
For me just won't do

Love me in a special way
What more can I say?
Love me now
Love me in a me in a special way
Just love me now

Nooowwww
And tell me what more can I say
Just love me nooowwww
And tell me what more can I say?
Just love me now
Love me in a--and tell me what more can I say?
The Greats and Grands in Our Lives

The Greats and Grands in Our Lives

Instead of a feature today, I just want to get some things off my chest. I have a half-written post about Nacirema Society, but y’all know how I am–I have to have some inner inspired motivation to write in this here blog. Even despite my little ploy to get myself to write twice a week no matter what.

What’s on my mind today? Family. Love. Responsibility.

I dream of a day when I’ll be able to just help my loved ones when they need it. Remember when my granddaddy died and I said that I needed to step up? Well, stepping up ain’t so easy. I mean, really, who thought it’d be hard? Well, I guess I should have known. For goodness sake, I live 400 miles away. I see my mom struggling to help everyone, and I feel bad because I can’t be there to help her help everyone.  My other granddaddy has Alzheimer’s and it’s more than a notion caring for him and making sure he’s safe and as healthy as he can be.  Sometimes he thinks it’s the 80s, sometimes he can be a little sneaky, sometimes he can be a little aggressive, but all the time he needs someone to make sure his best interest is being considered.  My mom feeds him everyday and really doesn’t get much thanks.  And of course, when I got home last week I kinda felt some kinda way about it and didn’t want to visit.  But of course, my mom is who she is and made sure I walked next door, and I softened as soon as my granddaddy said “Besides your hair, you sure are looking pretty!”  (I think it’s funny–he’ll always be himself no matter what.)  I had to be thankful that he can still recognize me and is still happy when I come home to visit.  I just wish I could help distribute some of that caretaker’s burden.

I also went to see my great aunts who I usually do not make time to see, and I have no excuse for it.  My Aunt Geneva is doing GREAT for her age and my Aunt Sweet had to blink her eyes and give me her suspicious stare before giving me her award-winning smile, and I immediately felt bad that I hadn’t been inside either of their houses in way too long although I have to drive past them any time I go to or leave my mom’s house.  Houses I used to walk to just to be around them when I was a kid.  I used to love sitting in my Aunt Sweet’s kitchen and watching her bake.  I credit her for my little baking talents now.  Why does the absent thing happen?  I know I’m not the only one who has gone too long without checking on my elderly loved ones.  I think there are several reasons. It’s hard to watch your loved ones get older and less spunky, less mobile, weaker.  It also gets easier to keep focusing on the distractions–I’m sure the first time I didn’t make time to stop by, I felt awful, but as the visits passed and I still didn’t make time, the bad feelings went away.  It also gets overwhelming to hear about family drama that you can’t do anything about.

But here are some reasons we should make time for the foundations of our families.

  • They are so wise and full of information, knowledge, and inspiration. I feel rejuvenated after I spend time with my grandma.  She loves to tell stories, and she gives advice that sometimes is masked in anecdotes.  I guess, almost like Jesus and his parables, except as she’s giving me advice, she’s sharing our family history.  I love to hear about her life experiences, how they are similar to or different than mine, and how she became who she is.  You can’t beat an oral memoir.  Besides that, I enjoy looking at her features and thinking about who looks like her, kinda like her, and imagining what I will look like as I get older.
  • We should appreciate people while they’re around to feel appreciated. My grandma and I share a special crocheting relationship.  I appreciate her for teaching me how, and she appreciates me for wanting to learn from her and carry on her talent.  And now that my granddaddy is gone, she needs to know that she’s not alone.  Of course, her kids and grandkids can’t replace her baby, whom she was with for 60 years, but we can still try to fill that gap with love.  I’m so grateful that my cousins spend time with her and do for her.
  • We kinda owe it to them. They may be a little feeble compared to the old days, but think about all they did before they went through a transformation of getting older.  It has to be tough getting older, realizing that your hands don’t work the way they used to, seeing the wrinkles invade your space, having to take medicine more than ever before.  But before that, they were ripping and running.  Doing for us.  Showing us the way.  Working to provide a good life.  They took care of us, so now we need to take care of them.  Besides, we’ll miss them when they’re gone.  I should know this especially.  After all the family funerals I’ve been to, you would think I wouldn’t have to learn this lesson so often.
  • The elderly are not aliens from outer space. Some people get really uncomfortable around older people, and sometimes I wonder how uncomfortable that makes the older person.  They’re still people, just a little older.  They still need companionship and human care and concern like er’body else.

I could talk more about abuses that I’ve read in the paper and online.  But y’all know how dirty people can be and how some people target the elderly.  All I will say is, please don’t be one of those awful people who take advantage of people.  If you haven’t visited an older member of your family in awhile, I encourage you to do so soon.  Maybe at Christmas or something.  And if you don’t have a “Great” or a “Grand” in your life, consider going by a nursing home or assisted living facility and meet one.  They’re treasures, and we should treat them as such.

Feature Friday: Afrika Book Café

Feature Friday: Afrika Book Café

I hope all of you had a blessed Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, I visited the Afrika Book Café, located at 404 Mitchell Street in my hometown Jackson, MS.  This much needed black-owned book store is in the Fondren area and has books, African inspired jewelry, African clothing, music, incense, and oils at great prices.  I had the fortunate opportunity to talk at length with one of the store owners Dr. Sizewe Chapman, who is originally from Jackson and wants to see and help the city of Jackson grow and prosper.  After discussing economic development in Jackson, he recommended I read Black Labor, White Wealth by Claud Anderson.

Another book, The Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke, caught my eye, so I purchased those two and look forward to reading them.

Now I wish I were flying back to Atlanta so I could get started!

After browsing through all Afrika Book Café has to offer, I sat on the porch with the store owners (a beautiful married couple!) and Skipp Coon and his wife (another beautiful married couple! Black love lives!).  One of the things I miss most about home is the simplicity but profundity of sitting on a porch learning from each other and talking about the world and what we can do and are doing to make it better.  Skipp, Sizewe, and I talked strategy, history, our reality, and dreams.  Sizewe, a former African history professor at Jackson State University, really inspired me to keep reading and finding historical significance and lessons as I move forward in trying to affect positive change in the black community.  Skipp, who is a rapper who speaks the truth (and someone whom you should support!), and I finished a conversation we had awhile back about colonies, and we shared stories about our experiences as blacks traveling in Europe.

Lemme tell you, my visit to Afrika Book Café is one of the highlights of my trip home.  If you’re in or near Jackson, I encourage you to check this treasure out.  It’s still a new business, so let’s make sure it stays open, serving our community by providing educational and mind-expanding resources and a space for community interaction.  Go support this small business! And while you’re at it, support Skipp Coon!

MLM: Stagecoach Prayer

MLM: Stagecoach Prayer

Happy Monday, lovelies!  I had a spectacular weekend, and I’m ready to rumble this week.  Yesterday, I felt the urge to watch a friend’s church online, and just like the old days, the Word was just for me.  The sermon was based on Exodus 13:17-18, and it was about how God wouldn’t lead the Israelites through the shortest path because they wouldn’t have been ready for war with the Palestinians and how God may take us a longer route, but long isn’t wrong.  The sermon conjured up all types of thoughts not only about my life and the path I’m on but also about the black community (but I need to organize those).  Anywho, this Our Daily Bread that I shared on 4/4/07 kinda extends my thought process about the sermon.  About how my path is mine–I need to stay in my lane and work on what I’m meant to work on and what’s meant for me will be mine.  If I swerve into other folks’ lanes, I may shortchange myself. Hope you have a productive week!

Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. —John 14:13

Five-year-old Randy wanted a toy stagecoach for Christmas. While shopping with Mom, he found just the one he wanted. It was about 6″ long and had cool wheels and dark brown plastic horses pulling it. “Mommy, I want this one. Pleeeease!” he begged. As young children sometimes do, he threw a tantrum, insisting that he get that stagecoach for Christmas. Mom said, “We’ll see,” and took him home.

Randy was sure he’d get what he asked for. Christmas morning came, and he opened the package confidently. Sure enough, it was the stagecoach he had begged for. He was so pleased. But then his older brother said, “You really did a dumb thing to insist on gettingthat coach. Mom bought you a much bigger one, but when you begged for that little one, she exchanged it!” Suddenly the small stagecoach didn’t seem so appealing.

Sometimes we’re like that with God. We pray about a specific need and tell Him how He ought to answer. We beg and plead—and God may even give us exactly what we ask for. But He may have had something better in mind.

Phillips Brooks once said, “Pray the largest prayers. You cannot think a prayer so large that God, in answering it, will not wish you had made it larger.” — Anne Cetas

Do not presume to know what’s best
When you begin to pray;
But say to God, “Your will be done,”
Then trust His perfect way. —Sper

Large asking results in large receiving.