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. ❤
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.
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.
Lessons for a New Mother
I had a Mother’s Day Weekend, complete with getting dolled up and going out on the town with my friends Friday night. Saturday, I didn’t go to the movies like I intended to, but I did get to go to a luncheon for my chapter’s mentoring program and was so pleased with how it turned out and got to take some leftovers home so I didn’t have to cook. 🙂 And I always get giddy when petit fours are involved. Lol! Yesterday was a great, relaxing day, and I truly needed it. As busy as a beaver as I can get, it’s nice to just lie around all day (and only get up for a massage and facial and to eat!). While I was lying around, I thought a lot about my first year of motherhood, which will be complete in just a month. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about life. I appreciate my mom 1,000 times more than I ever have because now I understand first hand the magnanimity of her love for her children. And I’ve finally shed the majority of the shame I’ve felt for being a single mother. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve gained.
- As long as I am taking good care of Frederick, I will be taken care of. Help has come from unlikely places since I’ve become Frederick’s mom. I have not suffered. When various situations come up, I’ve had help from family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers. I ended up having to go to the ER a couple of weeks ago, and a stranger saw me pulled over on the side of the road and called my neighbor for me. THEN she actually rode with my neighbor back to the house and brought her back so that she could drive my car. And my neighbor stayed with me until late because she cared. They say God takes care of babies and fools, but I’d like to add to that devoted mothers. My mom used to tell me often while I was preggo and uber depressed and worried that as long as I took “good care of that baby, God will take care of you.” And she was so right. Help may not come the way I expect it, but it will come.
- I can’t compare myself with others. Every once in awhile, I feel the urge to compare what someone is doing for me compared to what they’re doing for someone else. Or compare someone else’s parenting style with mine. Or compare Frederick’s milestones with someone else’s. And the list goes on and on. It seems there’s always an opportunity to find a reason to feel slighted or inferior or less fortunate or even superior and more blessed, but it’s unnecessary and inaccurate. What people do for us is voluntary so there’s no bar that I can use to be grateful–whatever they’ve done is more than what I had. Whatever someone else chooses in their parenting styles works for them and their households and I choose what works for mine. And Frederick is just a super baby, so no need to compare his little exceptional self to anyone else. 🙂
- Opinions are like assholes–everyone has one, and I don’t have to listen to them all. This has been a toughie. I never knew how much I actually cared about what others think until my pregnancy and after I had Frederick. Now this is different from your average experienced mother sharing some tips. I welcome those and file the ones that don’t apply away till later when they might. People love to tell me what they think about the various things I do for Frederick–from breastfeeding to how many layers of clothes he had on in the transitional months to my choice of making my own baby food for the first few months and now, only organic products when I don’t make it myself to whatever else is the topic. What I’ve realized is–with the exception of just a couple of people, not only do I not have to hold on to their opinion, I don’t have to defend my choices either. When we go home at night, no one is making sure we are secure. When Frederick cries, besides his daycare provider, I’m the one who makes it better. I am the parent, period. So I listen to what they’re saying and if I don’t agree, then so what? I don’t have to let them offend me or try to convince them to co-sign me. For what? After I finally realized that “grown woman status” covers this area of my life as well, things got a little easier. It actually reminds me of a time in the 6th grade that some kid tried to make fun of me for not wearing a certain kind of jeans or tennis shoes. I didn’t find it necessary to tell him that at the time the only tennis shoe that would fit me was Keds because they were available in narrow sizes and that I walked out of all the others I tried on because I wore a 4A back then. And I didn’t need to tell him that my mom didn’t see the point in purchasing jeans that cost more than $15 back then. What I did say, though, was that until he started buying my clothes and shoes, it really didn’t matter what he thought about them. If I was smart enough to get that in the 6th grade, why did it take me a minute to grasp the concept as a 31 year old grown woman with a child? I dunno, but I’ve come to my senses. 🙂
- I’m in control of my own happiness. I can choose where to focus my focus. Sure, I could easily spend my time thinking about what the ideal situation looks like and how that’s not my reality. I did that for nearly 9 months. I beat myself up for spending my life trying to be stellar then becoming an unwed mother at 30. I punished myself for taking a chance on love despite a not-so-great track record. I battered myself for allowing myself, who has always been seen by others and by my own self as strong and above the fray, to be emotionally abused. And then with help from my mother, my pastor, and my therapist, my maternal instincts kicked in and made me snap out of it. I couldn’t be good for Frederick as long as I was waist-deep (maybe neck-deep!) in self-denigration. The world can beat you down, but I don’t think anyone can kick you while you’re down like you yourself can. When I stopped beating myself up and started choosing to focus on my blessings instead of my challenges, the sun came out again. When I started allowing myself to see the silver linings to the blackest clouds in my sky, I started becoming way more productive and hopeful and ready to accept more positivity in my life. When I stopped constantly wishing people understood my plight, my plight became a lighter load. And heck, when I started realizing that certain people are just too selfish to care about anyone but themselves, I stopped wasting my energy on them. I realized that I don’t have to answer every text message, email, or phone call. If you send me something negative, I don’t have to answer–it’s my choice to ignore it and keep it moving. For as many people have something negative to say, there are at least two who have something encouraging to say. And that’s who I choose to listen to now. It doesn’t matter who didn’t wish me a happy Mother’s Day–I was beyond ecstatic over the cards, Edible Arrangement, breakfast (and my coffee was sweet!), gifts, and super sweet text messages that I did receive. I’ve learned to fill as much space as possible focusing on the goodness in my life.
Life is a journey, and I still have a long way to go before I’m where I want to be spiritually and emotionally, but I thank God and all the heavens that I’m not where I was a year ago. Being a mother is the toughest job I’ve ever had, but it is by far the most rewarding. I never knew I could love someone as much as I love my son. I’ve always considered myself a loyal, protective, giving person, but nothing I’ve ever done for anyone compares to what I have done and will continue to do for my little one. And as much as I give to him, I receive back. I say at least once a week that Frederick has made me Wonder Woman. I get amazed every time I learn something new about my post-baby self–physical, emotional, etc. About a month ago, I went rock climbing for the first time and was able to climb 5 courses–I used to not be able to pick up my little TV/VCR combo without feeling super strained. Now I’m Spiderman Jr. And it wasn’t a fluke–last week, I went to hot yoga for the first time since I learned I was preggo. Halfway through the second class, the instructor told us “we are about to practice handstands” and I looked at him like he had lost his mickeyfickey mind. Then he explained that it’s a process with steps and once you find which step makes you strain, you stop and that’s what you work on. So, okay cool–nowadays I’m willing to try. I got about halfway through the steps before I had to stop. Meaning I was able to prop my feet on the wall and extend my legs. I was very very surprised and proud of myself. The fact that I can put so much of my body weight onto my arms is fascinating to me. (But I guess that’s what happens when you constantly tote around a healthy, solid baby!) It also surprises me how easily I can let go of the small stuff now. I used to be a stickler for making things be how I think they should be, and now, it really has to be major to get a rise out of me. I like that about myself. Having Frederick has taught me the importance of reserving my energy for what is really important to me instead of wasting it on non-factors. Don’t get me wrong–I can still get crunk from time to time, but I’m definitely not fighting every little battle there ever was anymore.
So that’s that. I hope every mother had a wonderful, relaxing, loving Mother’s Day yesterday! We deserve it!
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.
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: The Number Game
So on Facebook this week, the number game blew up! I particularly liked it because my FB friends were very positive about the people for whom they dedicated their statuses. I only played for about 30 minutes Tuesday night, but here are a descriptions of those who sent me numbers. Some made it into that 30 minute window, and others were sent after I stopped playing. So needless to say, I’m blessed to know some great people. 🙂 Happy Friday!
3.14 I feel like you’re buttering me up. hmmmm lol. No really, you are the smart and super spunky lil sis that refuses to be placed in the nerd box. Keep on pursuing your dreams while enjoying every minute!
4 I used to love going to the barber shop when my stylist had a chair in there so that I could joke with you and get my eyebrows arched! You’re a great guy, and your family is gorgeous!
17 I’m proud of you for all that you’re trying to do with your life. I want you to spend more time focusing on the good than the bad, and I promise the world will look like a better place!
20 I love that we became fast friends. From our mutual love of soul music and natural hair to your benefit-of-the-doubt giving nature, hanging out w you is always a blast!!
227 I always felt safe with you on the bus. You were always really sweet and cool to me and wouldn’t let anyone mess with me!
0329 I think u were my 2nd friend when I got to Clinton. So many memories, esp in orchestra. Like when u left your violin at hm and “borrowed” one and it turned out to be a viola and the whole year with Massimino. Haha
601 You are one of those least judgmental, most optimistic people I have ever met. You can see the silver lining in any storm cloud. I hope you never outgrow that remarkable and uncommon trait. I love you for always being there and refocusing my perspective. You’re beautiful inside and out, and I am blessed to have you in my corner.
799 You were one of the only non-freshman guys that would risk befriending a 16-yr old the 1st semester of my freshman year. I’m happy to see that you’re thriving like I always knew you would. Oh and I have a pitch to make to u soon. lol will msg you.
808 When I met you, I noticed how great you are with the kiddies! Keep being stern yet soft with them!
1003 You and I have been through a lot, and we have such special memories. From hating each other freshman year to being attached at the hip (and forehead haha) sophomore year through our rough patches through being grown-ups together now. Keep being positive, keep being a trendsetter, and keep taking such good care of those cutie patooties!
1908 You are the best front a girl could ask for. When I need to lean forward, you’re right there! You are the most fabulous diva I’ve ever known, and I’m sooooo happy that we’re more than just sorors–we’re friends. I’m proud of everything you’re doing. Keep that infinite finesse going!
[Side note: How cool is it that my front and back ended up next to each other? Smooches to both of you! And no wonder I ended up going from pseudo tomboy to super girly–how could I not stuck between two super fashionistas? lol!]
1976 I remember when I met u and I’m pretty sure we changed ur opinion of good MS stock forever lol. You even married a MS magnolia! I’m very proud of you and can’t wait to meet your lil mini you!
2408 You were the cutest young kid I knew way back in the day. I’m so happy to see how well you’re doing despite adversity! Ill always be a member of your fam, even if y’all don’t see me often, lol.
7890 You and DP showed me how huge skeephi love really was. I still remember how special I felt when yall got an ad for me for the Miss Black and Gold pageant. I enjoyed being a Step Afrika groupie after the skeephi.com stint. You’re so talented and I hope life is treating you well.
46038 Being friends w your crazy, funny butt was the highlight of freshman year. Let’s see, I stood on top of a dangerous annex, spun around in a car and laughed as ur roommate cursed us out, rode Amtrak and got hit w my first snowball all w you. I know u don’t believe me, but I’m coming to Indy asap!
111169 Jr high would have never been so memorable without you. Many many laughs and I’m glad you’re still my bro after allllllll these years! Keep it funky!
384426 I’ve seen you evolve into a mature, creative, good mommy. I wish you the best in all your current and future projects. Keep up the good livin!
Sunday night, BET aired Black Girls Rock, and it was so awesome! It’s about time we see some positive, inspirational, motivational, strong images of black women in the media. BET did this one right. Working with Beverly Bond to give more exposure to the positivity her initiative exudes, this program did wonders for grown black girls and small black girls alike. If you missed it, I encourage you to watch it, whether you’re a black girl or not. You can catch it online at the link above.
So let’s spread some love on my page today. Share with me why YOU rock!
Why do I rock? I rock because I’m a risk taker. I dream and then I go after them. I rock because I’m a M.A.D. black woman–one who’s making a difference. I’m a change maker. I rock because even though I’m a rough and tough with my afro puffs at times, I’m versatile–I’m also a softspoken, sensitive southern belle who loves alliteration and all things vintage and frilly. I rock because I know my style and I love myself for it. I rock because I want to be an influence on those around me. As Iyanla Vanzant said Sunday night, I rock because I have no other choice.
Here’s one of my fave parts of the show.
Why do you rock? Tell me!
Feature Friday: 10-10-10
I had several things in mind to feature today, but this special day was on my heart, so here goes. 🙂
I want to explain why 10-10-10 is an important day to me. Y’all may think I’m crazy, but you wouldn’t be the first, lol.
If you didn’t know by now, I love numbers. I love what they represent, I love what you can do with them, I love that they are simple yet so complex. So what does 10 mean? Biblically, it means divine perfection or completion. But just numerically, it marks the end of a cycle–our decades and centuries are built on the number 10. While it’s the end, it’s also the beginning–the first 2-digit number.
So enough of the math geek stuff, lol. Let’s talk some Bible highlights. Of course you know there are ten commandments and that tithes are 10%. But did you know:
- There are ten clauses in the Lord’s Prayer,
- Abraham endured ten trials to prove his faith,
- Israel was represented by ten virgins,
- There are ten I AM’s in the Book of John,
- There are ten parables about the Kingdom,
- There were ten righteous people found in Sodom and Gomorrah,
- There were ten plagues,
- Fire came down from heaven ten times, and
- It is after the tenth recorded Passover that Jesus is crucified, the perfect sacrifice to save us.
And that’s not even almost the extent of “ten” in the Bible. And I won’t even get into the fact that there are 3 10‘s involved. Three represents divine perfection as well. But I’m dedicating this one to 10. 🙂
After I realized I would not be getting married in a storybook tale right after graduate school (I never wanted to get married right after undergrad), I started hoping that I would get married on 10-10-10. Such a symbolic way to start a union, yanno. Clearly, that’s not happening Sunday, lol (oh yeah, and I don’t think it a coincidence that 10-10-10 landed on the Sabbath).
But y’all know me, I do plan to make myself feel special on the day. It’ll be a great time to start a new topic of personal study, and I will start back on my hot yoga regimen, which I’ve been neglecting lately. I also will go see this production, which will likely be a Feature one of these ole days.
But most of all, even though I may not be becoming one with anyone right now, that’s ok because I am celebrating the fact that I am living happily ever after anyway. I’m about to embark on the first volunteer trip I’ve ever organized myself, and there are so many other things I have my hands in. I can make myself feel special–and sometimes I forget that. I want to take the day to remind myself that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)–I’m perfectly imperfect, and everything will work together for good as long as I’m walking my purpose. Because that’s how God designed it. Just like He designed the number system and its involvement in all the symbolism and nature patterns and so much other stuff we don’t even always notice.
What, if anything, are you doing Sunday? 🙂 Happy Friday, lovelies!
What is love?
So last night I posted a Miki Howard video just because that’s what I was listening to, but overnight it grew into a full-fledged blog post. Saturday, I saw this and it struck something inside me.
Of course, it wasn’t new to me. But reading it at that moment just sparked something that I guess finally came to a head when I listened to Miki crooning last night.
I’m definitely not a relationship expert, but I have learned some things over my few lil years in this world. Love, of all types, is one of those topics that covers so much that it’s hard to talk about. I mean, really… what is love?
My fave thing to say about love, though, is that it’s not just a noun–it’s a verb. To have love for people is to show love for people. If it’s love for the community, you need to be doing something for the community. If it’s love for your family, you need to be contributing something to their health and well-being. (And currently, I’m thinking of my mother and her love for my grandfather, which is a whole other post about the highs and lows of caring for the elderly.) If it’s a romantic love, it’s not enough to be woo-woo’ing in someone’s ear about how much you heart them–those are sweet little nothings until some actions are aligned.
One thing I’ve had to learn is that I have to be choosy (had to do that one for Aaliyah, R.I.P.) about who I dedicate my energy, my time, my patience, my love to. All that is so simply yet eloquently written in 1 Corinthians goes both ways. My love needs to be all those things, but I also have to remember that I deserve all those things. And if I’m not receiving that, I should love myself more and walk away. I mean really, we spend so much of our lives pouring ourselves into other people, not always taking the time to really evaluate if we’re giving out the right type of love to right people. And then we wonder why we’re so drained and bitter. What we’re pouring out, we should be getting back some kinda way. Love isn’t a finite thing with a usage limit. There’s plenty to go around and it multiplies when it’s shared. You don’t have to be a martyr for love. Give some, and make sure you’re getting some.
So when someone comes around, whether a new friend or a new romantic interest, and is really positive and invested and caring, you have to be appreciative to the One above for placing that source of energy into your life. You can be thankful for the chance to give some of that patient, unselfish, hopeful love AND for the chance to recognize and receive it. So, sang it, Miki.
Experience is a good teacher
It takes someone like me to know
All the little games people tend to play
Some call it love: It never has a chance to grow
The closed sign on my door, I had to tear it down
A new world of happiness turned me completely around
Happily Ever After
Last night a friend of mine posed the question:
What happens after happily ever after?
I replied that there is no after after the after. Got that?
“Happily ever after” is the rest of time. After the story ends, no matter what else happens during “happily ever after,” the main characters will be okay. They will overcome obstacles, and life will continue to be worth living.
So why have I been searching for “happily ever after”? I’m already in it! My life is definitely worth living, and I already know through the blood of Christ, that I’ve already overcome all of my obstacles. Every minute of every day won’t be “happy,” but I know that through my pain, I find greater appreciation for joy. Because of all the goodness in my life, I can find joy in my life despite hardships and disappointments.
You have to find “ever after” with the Most High. It really is all about perspective. What do we choose to focus on? Would you rather worry or meditate? Both require focus–the only difference is the object of that focus. For instance, I have had some romantic failures. I am lonely. Long term companionship seems to evade me. BUT should I focus on that? Or should I focus on my family, my friends, all my wonderful accomplishments and triumphs, all the projects I have going, all the dreams that I know will one day come to fruition… Umm, my life is kinda awesome. No really… It is.
As a dear friend told me during a crying spell, if the only thing wrong is my loneliness and I have everything else pretty much going well, why am I spending my energy on the loneliness? As I continue to move forward in life, I have to trust that “one day my prince will come” (and stay). And positivity comes from focusing on all the great stuff. It’s like the serenity prayer says:
Romance is not the only piece to that “happily ever after” thing. But having a relationship with Christ is.
It’ll take a whole other post to discuss it, but once we as human beings submit to Christ and reflect his light, we are then able to submit to one another. I look forward to the day I will reflect the light of some great man who will cherish and adore me. But until then, I’ll be patient. I am okay with rolling solo, being who I was made to be.
Erykah Badu, as y’all know, is one of my favorite artists. And she captured what’s in my heart very well in this song. Enjoy.
I’m an orange moon, reflecting the light of the Son (sun)…
I’m an orange moon, and I shine so bright cuz I reflect the light of my Sun
I praise the day He turned my way and smiled at me
He gets to smile and I get to be orange