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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From the Archives: Sandcastles

From the Archives: Sandcastles

I published this on 6/6/2007.  Hope it speaks to someone today.

“All the things I had toiled for… I must leave… to the one who comes after me.” Ecclesiastes 2:18 NIV

Max Lucado writes: “A little boy is on the beach. He packs the sand with plastic shovels into a bright red bucket. Then he upends the bucket, and a sandcastle is created.

“A man is in the office. He shoves papers into stacks and delegates assignments. Numbers are juggled, contracts are signed, and a profit is made.

“Two builders–two castles. They see nothing and make something. And for both the tide will rise, and the end will come. Yet that’s where the similarities cease. For the boy sees the end while the man ignores it. Watch the boy as dusk approaches. As the waves near, the wise child begins to clap. There is no sorrow. No fear. No regret. He knew this would happen. He is not surprised. And when the great breaker finally crashes upon his castle and his masterpiece is sucked into the sea, he smiles, picks up his tools, takes his father’s hand and goes home. The grown-up, however, is not so wise. As the wave of years collapses on his castle, he is terrified. He hovers over the sandy monument he protected. He blocks the waves from the walls he has made. Salt-water soaked and shivering, he scowls at the incoming tide. ‘It’s my castle,’ he defies. The ocean need not resond. Both know to whom the sand belongs… and I don’t know much about sandcastles. But children do. Watch them and learn. Go ahead and build, but build with a child’s heart. When the sun sets and the tides take–applaud. Salute the process of life, then take your Father’s hand and go home.”

What He said to me:
1. It’s so funny how the Lord speaks to me sometimes. I would have thought he would use something like this to talk about my goals and career dreams, but for me, it was all about my dreams of having my own family one day. Crazy, huh? One thing I do when I’ve experienced pain is close myself off for long periods of time, scared to try again. But oh my, I can’t do that. I have to go ahead and build relationships with the people (men and women) the Lord puts in my path, and I have to be ready for tide. And if a tide comes, I need to appreciate all the good times and the lessons learned and let go and say bye. There’s always a war going on inside me as far as relationships go. I KNOW the Lord puts people in my path sometimes to teach me something in particular and sometimes I’m supposed to teach them something or get them through or lead them to some situation. But that doesn’t mean I like it that way. I’m such an extreme person, and I don’t know (it’s something I pray about) if that’s something I need to work on not being. When I think something–a relationship, a project, whatever–is worth it, I throw myself into it. I guess that could be a good thing if I just learned how to manage saying bye at the end.

So just like with the message last night–I need to help people achieve their dreams as I’m on the road to achieving mine. And I need to stay connected to God so that I will be able to get ready for tides. Especially with my hardheaded butt. I think half the reason I experience pain like I do is that I get so head- or heart-strong and I won’t let go when it’s time so the Lord has to eject them. But the Lord knows my dreams, especially that one, and he’ll give me what I want and need in his time, which is the perfect time.

<<::update::7/28/2010::>> So when I read the allegory this time, 3 years later, I did think about my career and where I’m headed.  I wonder about the revolution that I start in my dreams–will I ever fulfill all my dreams?  Will I actually make a substantial impact on the black community?  Lucky me, I know I will trust my instinct when I’m led to make my next moves.  I still wonder if as I get older, will I ever be like the man, holding on to something that’s out of my reach and out of my control.  And of course, I read my response from 2007, and funny how we grow over time.  I still don’t give any ole Joe Blow a chance, but I step out there and try, even knowing that if it doesn’t work out my poor lil feelings may be pummeled.  Right now, I’m in limbo, and not really trying but I’m not not trying either.  I’m just being.  And I’m cool with that.  🙂

2. I was led to share this with a bunch of people. Some I talk to regularly, some I never talk to, some I don’t want to talk to, some I probably need to talk to in order to resolve something even if I don’t know what the something is, some that an issue has recently been “resolved” but I haven’t necessarily strived to rebuild, and some who I guess maybe just needed to read this? I dunno. But as each person popped in my head, I entered their address. Who knows what kinda responses I get? I’ll definitely have to stay prayed up before I respond to anything that I get. Heck, I may not get anything. 🙂 And that would be cool too!

<<::update::7/28/2010::>> I guess this still applies because when I read this post, my first thought was to share!

And just because the name has “Sandcastle” in it and because I like this song, I’m including a lil music!


Life Lessons on MARTA

Life Lessons on MARTA

So, at lunch, I decided to take a trek on MARTA to support a friend (Black Tie BBQ – check them out for delish food!!), and as fate would have it, I’d have a lightbulb moment randomly.  Which makes sense.  I live by randomness, it seems.

Anywho, on to the lesson.  Currently, I’m reading Blackgammon, which is the story of two black American women who are searching for love (or maybe running from it) and freedom in Europe. The book has been right on time, so naturally, I was really into it when it was time for me to change trains at Five Points.  As I stood on the platform waiting for a westbound train, enthralled by my book, I heard the whir of a train pass me.  I looked up and saw the lights of the train leaving me.  Oh no! I thought…  I have to wait 6 whole minutes for the next train.  Sheesh!  Me and this dangblasted book.  How in the world did I completely not hear the train when it arrived?  (Another reason is because it was a short train–the Bankhead train, which is about half the size of a normal MARTA train and I was too far down on the platform.)

So I moved closer to the center of the platform and took a seat and began reading again, careful to glance up every minute or so at the sign announcing the wait time for the next train.  The next train came. Something felt very wrong about it as I stood there missing another train.  Then it dawned on me!  I wasn’t supposed to catch that train–it’s going in the wrong direction!  I was supposed to be waiting on the eastbound train!!  Too hot (and lazy) to run, I took my time and went around the station to get to the eastbound platform.  And sure enough, when I got to the platform, a train came.  Right on time.

<MESSAGE!>

In life, sometimes things seem to be going right and then suddenly, something happens to derail all of it and you’re left wondering “How in the world did that happen?”  Or sometimes although things are great, you come to a unexpected juncture, and you think you’re going the right way, but then you realize that way has a barbed wire fence blocking it.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s there for a reason. Maybe that missed out opportunity wasn’t what you were supposed to be doing anyway.  Maybe it would have taken you in the wrong direction, on to the wrong path.  Maybe once you realize that and go to where you need to be, what you need will be there, waiting on you–always right on time.

Disappointments come.  They’re a part of life.  But the perspective surrounding those disappointments can be positive if you remember that everything happens for a reason and the way they’re supposed to.  You just need to be aware and open for some clarity and enlightenment.

There’s a reason for everything that comes and goes…

Mushy Musings, Part Deux

Mushy Musings, Part Deux

Yesterday, I posted 5 songs, all performed by the ladies, so today, I’ll post 5 from the guys on my Mushy Moments playlist.  Yep, it’s Friday, and the stresses of the week are sliding off my back.  Still daydreaming I am.

I could really do this whole post and a couple more with Musiq and Raheem.  But I’ll try to restrain myself.  I’m posting the songs as I go/as they come to mind, so we’ll see what happens.

All we had were letters till we formed the words/Started from the lyrics till we found the verses that can bridge us through/Baby we could be the greatest love song…

I dream of singing this with Mr. Man while gazing into his eyes and swaying to the music.  I really love this song.  How can anyone not want to be smitten after listening to this?

I’ll be something like the rebirth of love with a twist/it started with a simple kiss/what could be more precious then the rebirth of love?

This song puts into words why I’m open-minded and is a fave on my playlist. Raheem really is one of my favorite male singers ever.  I’ve been a fan since he was in Crossrhodes.  Yes, I have the mixtapes and the albums.  I’ve been to all but one concert that he’s done in Atlanta.  I’m a borderline Stan.  If you haven’t picked up the latest album, go get it.  Especially you conscious minded folks out there. 🙂

Don’t want you to escape cuz I know true love is hard to find–so I keep her heart in mine…

Brandon Hines is a slept on artist.  I found out about him in 07 (I think), and I’ve been a fan since.  Check him out at his website and on youtube.

I would gladly walk you home, but you’re already here…

Cee-Lo Green is another artist I follow.  His creativity is like none other.  Here’s one of my faves from Cee-Lo Green…Is the Soul Machine.

Your love, your love is amazing. One touch takes me a thousand places…

Van Hunt makes me smile.  I thought of a couple of other songs from his first album, but they have a slight depressing undertone.  But this one finishes off this post perfectly.

Happy Friday, folks!  I hope you have a positive, relaxing, and satisfying weekend!

Much Ado with a Jumbled Mind

Much Ado with a Jumbled Mind

Ever so often, I’m bogged down with a bunch o’ thoughts swirling around nonstop in my head.  Last night despite aromatherapy, I just could not go to sleep.  What to do??  After lying awake for an hour or more with no promise of drowsiness, I got up, grabbed my journal, which has been heavily neglected lately, and wrote. And wrote. And wrote. And got all those haphazard thoughts out.  Then I meditated.  And I followed my heart.

Then I put my head on my pillow and got some rest.

Women and Love

Women and Love

I usually don’t watch the Monique Show, but I had to watch to see one of my favorite artists of all time, Erykah Badu.

Here’s a quote that really touched me:

Drummers need a camp where they can learn how to drum better. Teachers need a camp where they can learn to teach better. Women need a camp where we can learn how to love better, especially ourselves.

Check out the show.