I love when I make myself cry, lol.

I love when I make myself cry, lol.

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

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 June 6, 2014 vs. June 6, 2013

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

Dear FutureMe,

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

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

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

Love,

Your Past Self on July 3, 2013

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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!

Mommy’s Night Out

Mommy’s Night Out

Last night, I had the good fortune and great timing to go to the concert of one of my favorite artists. Frederick was well-taken care of by Tee Rashida, and Mommy threw on a vintage sweater outlined in pearls, some red lipstick, and some thigh high boots with silver buttons running up the fronts.

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So, in music loving fashion, here are a few comments:

1. Rahbi is a trip. Wasn’t feeling his attire, but I loved his mashup of Loveeee and When Doves Cry.

2. Rahbi’s background singers outsang him, yikes. Those girls sounded wonderful! Let me add, though, that his voice reminds me of Stokely’s from Mint Condition. So his voice is nice, don’t get me wrong. But those girls behind him did their thing!

3. Roman GianArthur is a nice singer, but I walked away thinking about how that brother played that guitar. Great opening act! I’m going to have to check him out more than the brief research I did before the concert.

4. JANELLE MONAE has incredible energy. I feel like she blessed the start of my new year. She sang and danced and hopped all over that stage and never seemed to get tired. I left at midnight and she was still singing, lol (though I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss anything because she introduced the band before I left).

5. The first song she sang that’s not on Electric Lady is the song that made me a real fan (I was a fan before Metropolis, but this song sealed the deal). It’s def one of my top 3 fave JM songs. But her singing “Sincerely, Jane” at that moment was just like her singing Happy Birthday to me.

“Are we really living or just walking dead now? … Daydreamers, please wake up; we can’t sleep no more.”

6. She sang almost all of the songs I really wanted to hear live. Yes, “Mushrooms and Roses” from The ArchAndroid too. Love love love.

7. I loved that her encore was a whole new production, lol. We got our money’s worth fo sho.

8. One of my favorite things about Janelle Monae is that the music behind her vocals is ALWAYS on point. There’s a song where she yells out “Kellindo!” and you hear a ripping guitar solo. Well, I got to see Kellindo in action and that thang knows he plays that daggum guitar. And I would be wrong if I didn’t talk about his hair. I don’t watch the “My hair is laid like” videos, but I kept thinking he would be the perfect subject–his hair was part of the show!! She also has an 4-piece orchestra within her band. I kept wondering if Frederick’s future teacher would disapprove of me buying him the acrylic outline violin or cello if he decides he wants to play a stringed instrument like mommy. Probably so, but those instruments had me in awe!

9. I’m thankful for Alisha who came with me. We were co-workers at my job before my current one, which was over 5 years ago, and she’s still been in my corner ever since. Smooches!

10. I love connecting with new people too. I’ve been in an email group of people who are all friends with one person for years, and I’ve only gone to one or two group outings. But when one of the members (Tonda) emailed if anyone was going to the concert, I told her I was so we met for the first time, and she’s great! Definitely plan to keep in touch.

11. This was one of the best bday gifts I’ve given myself in awhile. Happy birthday to me!

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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. ❤

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.

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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!

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!

Open Letter to My Son

Open Letter to My Son

Dear Frederick Daniel,

When you were still in my belly, I used to read a poem to you almost every day.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)

This poem only begins to attempt to put into words what I feel for you. The depth of my love for you is more than I ever knew was even possible. You are my inspiration, my motivation, and my raison d’être. When I didn’t know how I would go on, you were my gentle push. I am an infinitely better person because of you. Every morning, when I look at your face when you pop up grinning after waking up, and every night, after you finally doze off after a long day of adventure, I thank God for the privilege of being your mother. I will always put your needs first (even if you don’t like it as you get older!), and I will always do what I can to expose you to the tangible and intangible things that will help you grow into a strong, productive, respectful man. Taking care of you makes me want to take care of myself. Loving you makes me know that I’m not only capable of giving love, but receiving it. You are truly the best thing I never knew I needed, and I’m so grateful for everything you’ve brought and will bring to my life.

I love you more than meager words can express.

Love, Mommy

February of my 2013 custom calendar :)
February of my 2013 custom calendar 🙂