Archives

Reflections, The Open Door and A New Beginning

When one walks through an Open Door, most only see it as entering a new area, a new space or a new time. However, if you free your mind and open yourself up to the entire experience, you also will see it as an exiting…an exodus of sorts. In order to move towards something new, you must leave the former; however, the experiences you just left deserve  as much attention as those you are set to begin.

Some say you should never look back, only forward. They equate it with living in the past, but there is a distinct difference between Reflection and dwelling. If you don’t reflect upon your previous situations and states of mind, then how will you ever measure your successes or the increased strength of your character? How will you be able to take note of personal growth? You wouldn’t be able to. It’s not possible to truly appreciate where you are unless you have the courage to examine where you’ve been.

I have spent the better part of the last several weeks Reflecting. I have been thinking back on my Decade of Discovery(my 30s), examining my growth and reviewing my journey. I have read through many old journal entries; examined jotted down notes and ideas; and unearthed hidden treasures in the form of scrap slips of paper, containing my deepest thoughts and dreams, stuffed in the pages of a book long forgotten.

My 10 year story of growth and discovery surrounds me. It is profound. At times is it happy and vibrant…at others, dismal and bleak. Mostly, it tells the story of young woman in search of her unique self, looking for solid ground, longing to forgive, yearning to be free–A woman with gifts so rare, others stand in awe of her talents…talents that she can’t seem to see. It tells the story of a woman with a voice as loud as thunder, power as mighty as a raging river and confidence as vast as the heavens, if she would only give herself permission to use them. Secretly, she is a caged bird without a song, who, over time, realizes that she has held the keys to her happiness, understanding and freedom all along. It is the story of a woman who learns to see beyond the circumstances and begins to recognize the lessons. It’s the story of a woman discovering the beauty in all things…even the beauty in herself.

And so, after much Reflection, I find myself standing at the threshold of The Open Door–the door that leads to my Decade of Enlightenment, My New Beginning! Today, I am no longer 30something…I am 40, and I have never felt more alive, vibrant or secure! I feel Enlightened, Encouraged and Inspired! I now truly know who I am and what I stand for. When I looked in the mirror this morning, I liked the full-grown woman I saw standing before me! I have prepared for this moment, and this moment did not disappoint!

Like the sunrise, today marks a crucial transition.

According to an old proverb, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” Figuratively speaking, I believe that to be true. Through my time of Reflection, I wondered if I would be well-prepared for this day…if I would begin to see the light…if my wings would spread and I would take flight…if I had Trusted My Journey enough. And like the first rays of light that burst through from the morning sun, a Door was Opened.

The Sunrise marks the the transition from the former things to the experiences that lie ahead. It is the doorway to all that is new and promising. And it allows us to Reflect on the day gone, learn the lessons and apply those lessons to the day before us.

The sun has risen on a new day, a new chapter in my life. I happily journey into my
Decade of Enlightenment!

The Sunrise marks a New Beginning…

It is with Confidence, that I Fearlessly walk through this Open Door into my New Beginning!

I am 40! Fabulous and Fierce! Feeling Fantastic and Free! I am far from from perfect, still flawed, and I will forever be a student of Life. But, as I stand here, looking out onto my horizon, I see an ocean of possibilities caressed by the rays of promise!

Thank you, Michelle Shanahan-Scott, for unknowingly capturing my transition from Discovery to Enlightenment!

 

Ignoring the signs, claming clarity

With less than 2 months remaining in my 30s, which I like to refer to as my Decade of Discovery, I am still learning new and profound things about myself. I realize the learning process spans the entirety of our lives; however, what I am referring to here is my personal discovery process–my attempt to truly reveal to myself who I am and what makes me tick–getting to the heart of ME. To have unearthed something so crucial at what I had hoped would be a “wrapping up” period of sorts is very eye opening.

I have been so looking forward to turning 40. I have been preparing myself to carry a wise woman with true knowledge of self, her desires, her dreams, her passions and her thoughts over the threshhold. I have been prepping to take my new and improved self, aware and fully present, from the Decade of Discovery into what I call the Decade of Enlightenment.

And then, all of a sudden, a very crucial discovery comes along…I fester! At a time when Clarity is so vital to my self discovery, I have realized that I FESTER!

Let me explain something…You cannot expect to achieve true Clarity–clearness of heart, mind and soul–if you allow yourself to fester. It’s toxic! That’s like striving to have perfectly functioning lungs, yet each day you are breathing in poisonous gases! It’s absurd! And one thing I refuse to be is an ABSURDITY!

I have always been a straight-shooter–truth in my voice, emotions on my sleeve, expressions on my face…the whole nine. In fact, in my younger years, I was so direct that I was often referred to as blunt–which is not exactly a compliment. I was very fiesty and bold. I am still fiesty and bold now…it contributes to my Sassiness. However, the difference between my fiestiness and boldness now versus then is that, back then, I wouldn’t hesitate to allow it to be fueled by temper. Tempermental, fiesty AND bold…not always a good combo.

I have since matured. Over the years, I adopted the concept of “Choose Your Battles,” and my perspective on certain things changed. Bottom line…some issues were just not worth my time or energy to even address.

But then another shift ocurred. I began to let TOO many things go. And I was letting them go in an effort to keep the peace. Well, oftentimes when you “think” you’ve let something go, you’ve actually just internalized it. You’ve absorbed something undesirable. This wretched habit of internalizing is dishonest, untrue and unfair to self and others. You cnnot sustain meaningful relationships if you are depriving those you care for of knowing and seeing ALL of you. How can your relationship transcend? How can you transcend?

Swallowing your true feelings about issues will eventually cause you such internal turmoil that you begin to fester. And festering eventually leads to a Boiling Over…an Explosion of Emotions that can damage and even destroy a relationship.

I’m not suggesting that you unload on those you love every chance you get. What I’m saying is that you should never carry excess weight or be emotionally burdened when all you had to do in the beginning was communicate. Open and honest communication of your true feelings and thoughts will give you mental clarity and free you of any unnecessary junk.

So, why do we harbor important feelings and allow ourselves to fester? We do it because we ASSUME. We ASSUME that the other person will not respond favorably to the sharing of our emotions.

We think things like:

  • “He/she might get upset if I say this.”
  • “This could just end up starting an argument.”
  • “He/she will never take this the way it’s intended.”
  • “This is probably not the right time to bring this up.”

Making assumptions about others is not fair. Anyone in a real relationship with you will value your thoughts and feelings.

When you make assumptions in your relationships, you are unfairly creating Relationship Warning Signs. You are putting up emotional “STOP,” “WARNING,” “CAUTION,” and “YIELD” signs where they do not belong.

Does this mean you should just blurt out your feelings abruptly without regard for another? Of course not. There is always a way to share your feelings without crushing those of someone else. In other words, choose the CORRECT words instead of choosing NONE at all.

I have been doing this…harboring…festering…and blowing up! But, no more. I have made the conscious decision to ignore the self-imposed Relationship Warning Signs. I have chosen to push past them and enter a place of mental clarity, peace of mind and emotional freedom!

I recently boiled over after allowing myself to fester. I went for a drive to clear my head. This warning sign stood in between me and this beautiful view. In an instant, it all became clear.

Won’t you join me?!

What toxins have you allowed to block your Clarity? Please share below.

I’d love it if you’d follow my blog!

See you in the comments!

A better understanding…

In the early morning hours on June 15th, I published a blog post about my tumultuous relationship with Time.

I listened to the ticking of the clocks in my home, and I reflected upon the profound significance of Time while this beautiful melody played in the background of my mind.

As I reflected on my feelings regarding tasks left undone, thoughts left unexplored, words and experiences unshared, I concluded that I needed to “find me a better understanding.” I needed to gain a new perspective, a reformed way of seeing things. However, in order for one to truly attain a new position and achieve a heightened level of understanding and awareness; a jolt, a push, an event, a revelation, an epiphany–some sort of catalyst–needs to occur.

24 hours later, my jolt came; my alarm sounded, and I was awakened.

On June 16th, a beautiful life paid the ultimate price of Time. Marley Lion was harshly and abruptly taken from us. At the tender age of 17, still just a baby, he was brutally murdered…gunned down.

His Time ended…yet, ours continues on.

Amazing how Time can begin, end and continuously exist…simultaneously–these complexities are what make Time so precious.

I wish my nudge toward “better understanding” could have come in a less traumatic way, but it’s too late for that now.

Marley’s death is a tragedy, but it would be even more tragic to allow his death to be in vain. It would be a tremendous disservice to self and to his memory to be blind to the lessons–and there are many–that live within this chaotic time. Even more so, those affected by this cannot allow his life to be in vain, either. We must find the message in both the way he lived AND the way he died.

A special friend shared a very basic, yet profound statement:

If Your Crop Had Constant Sun It Would Burn Up and Die. In Order To Grow, It Also Needs Rain. In Fact, Sprouting Is Escalated After A Good Downpour. Isn’t It TRUE, That While The Sun Sustained You Day By Day, It Was STORMS That Generated The Most Significant Growth (Lessons Learned) In Your Life. Those Very Storms Have You Here NOW…Still Standing, Stronger Even. ~ Hoe Mama

We have to soak up the emotions, the lessons and the insights of this “downpour.” It’s the only way we can grow…grow towards the light. I must allow my tears to water my spirit, quench my wisdom, nuture my humanity and strengthen my faith…We all have to.

Marley is gone from us, and I keep coming back to that same song, the melody, the lyrics…

“You and me are running out of time…”

It’s true. We ARE running out of Time. Are we going to allow that reality cause us to remain stagnant? To live in fear and doubt? To break us down and eat away at our faith? To destroy our hopes and steal our dreams? OR…will we use it to fuel our passions? To propel us forward? To inspire us to live a good life to the fullest? To love hopelessly? To dance endlessly? To walk on our journeys courageously?

 

The choice is ours!

These  ARE everchanging times…But if we hold on to each moment, seize every opportunity, share without reservation and love without fear, then, when we see the clock upon on the wall, it won’t bother us at all.

Thank you Marley Kanoelani Lion…

Thank you for giving me A Better Understanding…

The clock upon the wall…

I see the clock upon the wall…but, right now, it still bothers me…

~~~

Time…

Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years…

It all goes by so quickly. There never seems to be enough Time. And yet, Time is the one thing that all other things depend upon.

The Clock…it’s just an instrument–an instrument used to measure Time, a transcendental concept capable of having a beginning and an ending while still existing. Quite philosophical.

How is it that something so abstract…something completely intangible…something that cannot be tasted, seen, smelled or heard…how is it so intertwined in all we do?

Time is a crucial part of our lives. It is by far the most precious and sought after resource. We spend Time; we waste Time; we kill Time; we lose it; we gain it. We run out of Time; we share Time; we have some to spare. We watch Time…we reflect on it…we fantasize about it. We need it to dream and plan and grow and live and love and dance! We need it to be still. We need it to slow down. We need it to speed up. We need it to wait for us. We need it in order to catch up.

I have been struggling with Time for quite a while. My eyes are always fixed on The clock upon the wall...  I am always measuring how much Time I have, how much I’ve spent, how much I need, or how I need it to creep so that I can soak up the moments, learn the lessons and appreciate the memories…

Being a wife, a mother of 8, a business owner and a writer requires enormous amounts of Time, especially when it is my desire to do these things well. They all require full commitment, being completely present, being in the moment–again, descriptions that reflect the significance of Time.

Some days, my Time–what precious little I have–is used wisely and efficiently. However, there are those days–and there are many–where Time is an angry, bucking bull and I’m holding on for dear life, being tossed and thrown about, not knowing whether I’m coming or going, wishing to just make it out alive.

That’s where I’ve been the last 3 weeks…at the “Time is beating the hell out of me” Rodeo!

So many things have happened…things profound, momentous and thought-provoking. So many circumstances and situations that deeply inspired me to write and share, but I didn’t have the Time.

~My baby brother got married. I didn’t write because I didn’t have the Time.

~My son Brandon graduated from high school…I didn’t have the Time.

~My son Noah graduated from elementary school…again no Time.

~I went home to Louisiana for the first time since my Parrain died…and I still had no Time.

The past 3 weeks has been a whirlwind of emotions, preparations, appointments, activities, obligations, travel, commitments, etc. One day seems to spill into the next, and the next, and the next.

And you know, I’m not really certain what the purpose of this blog post is. I have not arrived at any sort of solution for this. I’ve had no epiphany…no revelation. In fact, it has taken me so much Time to even write this.

Maybe the point here is that there is no solution…

Or maybe, just maybe, the solution lies within the problem…

Perhaps, The clock upon the wall…serves as a reminder to observe the here and now rather than focus on what is yet to be.

Maybe the only way to tackle the beast of Time is to dance with it, toe-to-toe, in-sync with the rhythm, no longer trying to race it, realizing it is impossible for us to win.

As I sit here writing this, listening to the synchronized ticking of the clock on my fireplace mantle and the one on the kitchen wall, I’m reminded of an old song entitled Everchanging Times by Siedah Garrett…the theme from the movie Baby Boom.

I’m reflecting on the lyrics…(Click here to listen)

And these, are everchanging times
Everything is going so much faster
It seems like I’m
Watching my life, and everything I do
Wondering if the dreams that I believed in
Still come true

Caught in between, it comes back to
You and me are running out of time, I gotta find me a better understanding
Every day keeps forgetting what’s mine, I gotta find me a way, less-demanding
And we’re holding on so tight, together, all of our lives

And I, I had some big idea
So much of my life, still not completed
Hopes and Fears
Watching it change, into something new
Wondering it I’m gonna find the answer, loving you

All of my life, it comes back to
You and me are running out of time, I gotta find me a better understanding
Every day keeps forgetting what’s mine, I gotta find me a way, less-demanding
And we’re holding on so tight, together, all of our lives

But, it don’t bother me at all
It’s an everchanging time
I see, that clock upon the wall, it don’t bother me at all
It’s an everchanging time

All of my life, it comes back to
You and me are running out of time, I gotta find me a better understanding
Every day keeps forgetting what’s mine, I gotta find me a way, less-demanding
And we’re holding on so tight, together
And we’re gonna be alright, together, all of our lives

I see that clock upon the wall, it don’t bother me at all
It’s an everchanging time

Maybe the answer lies within the lyrics of this song. Perhaps I need to find a “better understanding” and a “way, less demanding.” Maybe then, when I see The clock upon the wall…maybe it won’t bother me at all…eventually.

 ~~~

I’d love for you to follow my blog, leave a comment and share with a friend.

Still giving strength to my roots…

Early morning, this past Mother’s Day, May 13, 2012, my husband dragged me from my bed.

“Close your eyes, I’ll lead you,” he said. He walked me down the hall, through the family room and out the front door.

It was cool out that morning. I felt the tiny whispers of rain faintly brushing against my skin, as if they were quietly trying to escape my attention.

Aastan, my husband, uncovered my eyes, and, standing before me, all eight of my children shouted, “Happy Mother’s Day!” They all moved aside to reveal a baby Magnolia tree…in my eyes, the perfect Mother’s Day gift!

It was quite significant on many levels.

Here’s the surface level…Since Louisiana and South Carolina share a common bond with the magnolia tree, it seems only fitting that a Louisiana French Creole girl living in beautiful Charleston, SC should have one in her yard. Secondly…I have a Magnolia doorbell and a Magnolia door wreath–A Magnolia tree completes the set. Thirdly…How is it that The Creole Magnolia, who happens to be a floral designer, doesn’t have a Magnolia tree? It seems now I’ve added touch of credibility to my name. (Oh yeah, I’m legit now!)

Delving a little deeper…I was touched by the fact that my husband thought of such a moving gift, filled with sentiment and symbolism. It is my passion to inspire others to reach for and attain personal growth. For the past 18 years, I have been charged with, not 1 or 2 lives, but EIGHT, precious lives to nurture and grow. I have also invested and continue to invest much time, thought, prayer and energy toward growing, transforming and developing into the woman I know I am destined to become. Being a source of inspirational nourishment for my children and others, as well as for myself, has been at the forefront of my mind. It has been carefully crafted and intertwined within everything that I do. One can only hope that a fraction of their efforts is recognized and appreciated. By giving me this tree, for me, my husband was recognizing my skills as a nurturer. For me, he was saying, “Here you go, baby. Here’s one more thing for you to nourish and grow. You can do it. I trust you.”

On Sunday, May 20, 2012, exactly one week later, my husband and I planted that tree…together. It was as important for him as it was for me. It was one more memory brought to life, one more layer added, one more moment cherished. It was another creation together–a creation in which he is fully vested, yet confident enough to allow me the freedom to cultivate and sustan it. And again, I heard him say, “Take it from here, honey. Do what only you do. You got this!”

When we dug up the earth and prepared the spot that would become my tree’s permanent home, the layers of meaning, again, settled deeper.

10 months ago, my Parrain (godfather) lost his battle against cancer. He played a large role in helping me grow into the woman I am today and in guiding me toward the woman I hope to become in the future. He is one of The Men That I Come From…

Through his love and encouragement, he gave strength to my roots. He watched me grow, and he watched me share my growth with my children so that they, too, could fluorish.

I miss him, but the memories we shared remain…the love we shared remains…the lessons he taught remain…the wisdom he imparted remains…And, although he is gone, I am able to share all of those priceless treasures with my own children. I am able to reflect on those gifts and replenish the strength of my own roots.

When Aastan placed the tree in the ground, I reached for the red velvet, heart-shaped box, with the brown bow on top. I carefully opened it. Inside…a newspaper obituary clipping and a bag of ashes. I sprinkled the gray dust all around my tree, praying that the remains of this man, who had contributed so greatly to my growth, would continue his legacy…

the legacy of Giving Strength to My Roots

A Love Affair

A Love Affair

~

Our link has been tumultuous filled with turbulence and passion

Dangerously you’ve escorted me from misery to satisfaction

You have cut me and left me wounded, dying, lost in tears

Then comforted me in your warm embrace and delivered me from my fears

 ~

You’ve been absent from my memory, forgotten, obsolete

Only to return again, at my lips we meet

You make your presence known when I am naive and unassuming

Sometimes you’re softly spoken, at others loudly booming

You are there when I am naked, standing all alone

Quickly transforming from tender to harsh depending on my tone

You are there when I am laughing, with others all around

Whispering secrets into my ear, without even making a sound

In ecstasy, you scream my name, much to my delight

I’m wrapped up in your essence, your nuances surround me tight

Through adaptations you reinvent yourself and my mind is captivated

When your new meanings suit my purposes, I am selfishly elated

At times you mean the world to me, at others, nothing at all

I find much needed escape in you when my back’s against the wall

I cannot get you off my mind no matter how I try

You are my voice, you are my truth, you are my carefully crafted lie

I love you, I hate you, you are everything and nothing

You are my best friend when I’m happy, my worst enemy when I’m cussing

I’d be lost without you, you’ve become my sweet addiction

I’m dependent upon you for expression, my necessary affliction

I see you when I can’t see myself, I hear your voice and I get weak

I feel you deep inside of me, you caress my mouth and I speak

You touch me and I’m whole again, inspired beyond measure

You cause me to question and investigate, on a search for buried treasure

 ~

You stroke my ego and fill me up, shaping me into a confident woman

You show ignorance and chauvinistic ways, thinking I’ll jump when you summon

You call attention to my sex appeal, complimenting my hips and thighs

Then laugh and scoff at all my flaws, really it’s no surprise

Inseparable since I was a baby, we’ve never been apart for a day

But when I’m old, worn and silver-haired, you could begin to fade away

By my side whether I’ve needed you or not, not giving me any peace

You’ve fueled my voice and I’ve been heard, finally finding release

You come to me through melodies, providing much needed escape

With an open jacket, you envelope me, and I see your story take shape

At times your expressions are simple, a gesture or nod of the head

At others, they are more complex, angry and filled with dread

We’re back and forth, we’re in and out, emotions all over the place

Something undeniable sustains our love, though I’ve never even seen your face

For some this relationship may not work, for some it seems absurd

But no man’s thoughts will ever change my Love Affair with words…

~

~A private peek into my personal Love Affair~

~

Tell me, what is your secret Love Affair?

~April is National Poetry Month~

Learning to Trust My Journey

From the time I was a very young girl, I have always been drawn to seashells.

My first real collection of shells began when my mother purchased a beautiful seashell-filled, glass lamp with a soft pink lampshade for my bedroom. That lamp grew with me. It shined light upon my dark nights for many years to come. In fact, it remained with me through young adulthood. I’m not certain if the lamp broke or if I just decided to open it, but, what I do know is that I eventually took all of the seashells out. And today, I still have them.

Seashells are huge part of my life. I craft with them. I decorate with them. They’re in my bedroom…my bathroom…my family room. I see and admire them daily. And if you give me a starfish or a sand dollar, then I am over-the-moon!

Seashells are beautiful–that’s no secret. Everyone loves them. So, I couldn’t help but wonder why they are so significant to me.

Seashells are carried throughout the vastness of the ocean by that which lives in them. In return, they offer protection and security ensuring the vitality and longevity of the life force within. At times, they are abandoned, no longer to be used as a dwelling place, cast aside for another that can more accommodate their needs. At other times, that which lives and breathes in them is preyed upon, picked away and devoured, leaving the shell empty and lifeless.

This brings me back to my original question. Why are seashells so significant to me? 

The answer? Because they are me.

I am carried through this abundant space called Life by the desires, goals and inspirations that live within me…They drive me! I am a vehicle of protection for my hopes and dreams, nurturing them…feeding them…sustaining their lives…providing for their existence. During difficult times and moments when I am redefining myself, I question my ability to live up to their expectations. I become filled with doubt. I become uninspired. It is during those times they abandon me, perhaps to take up residence within someone else…someone else who may be better suited to deliver them to their collective purpose. At other times, they are taken from me, picked away by the evil pressures that exist only to defeat me, leaving me vacant and without resolve.

Maybe that’s why I have seashells around…to remind myself to always be a Vessel of Vitality, a Vehicle for Vibrancy. Perhaps, I have them around as a reminder to always fill myself up with dreams and aspirations and to always be that place where they can live and grow. Perhaps, they’re around to provide comfort when I feel abandoned, defeated and confused. This, sometimes, occurs more often than I care to admit.

I recently came across a wonderful photograph by the talented Jeffrey Scott Villafane. It’s simplistic beauty is ladled with symbolic tones. And again, I saw myself.

Another thought provoking image by the visually gifted Jeffrey Scott Villafane. See more of his work at www.jeffreyscottphotography.com

I wondered what this shell had been through. What life force did it once house? What conditions had it endured?

Imagine, if you will, being carried from place-to-place within the ocean…braving rough waves and seas…being tossed about until finally you’ve reach land.

Quite a tumultuous journey, to say the least.

And notice, this shell is not cracked. It is not chipped. It is not shattered into pieces of its former self.

It is whole…unblemished…patiently awaiting what life has in store.

Look closely and you will see that it is surrounded by the broken bits of shells that came before it…the ones who weren’t strong enough…the ones who gave up on their purposes…the ones who not only felt fragmented, but also became fragmented (Yes, there is a difference.).

As I gaze at this photo, I feel an absence of direction. I don’t know whether this shell is coming or going…winning or losing…failing or succeeding. I suspect it may feel the same, only somehow, I don’t think it minds.

Similarly, in this very moment, as I gaze inward, I feel confusion, uncertainty and no sense of direction. The difference is I am impatient, and I have minded.

Seeing this photo of this shell, which has managed to navigate Life’s choppy waters and emerge unscathed, gives me hope.

This shell patiently sits, surrounded by ridges of challenges–the ridges behind it are those difficulties that have been overcome–the ridges ahead are those challenges yet to be conquered. Although it sits in the wet, hard sand that will inevitably become immersed in salty foam, it knows the dry, warm sand awaits. It knows all it needs to do is trust, persevere and never give up.

Again, a shell is reminding me of what I need to do…

When the waves of distraction, confusion, self-doubt, failure and defeat swell to sizes larger than life, I need to ride them out. There will undoubtedly be moments when I am completely underwater, near drowning with no lifeline in sight. It is during those moments that must fight the hardest, hold my breath the longest, trusting that I will not only reach the surface, but also be delivered unto dry land, whole, unblemished and unscathed.

The shell has taught me to be still, to be patient, to be persistent and, above all else…

Trust My Journey!

I am…EVERY woman!

~

I am Strong

I am weak

I am Resilient

I am fragile

~

I am Intelligent

I am clueless

I am Brilliant

I am foolish

~

I am Fiercely Protective

I am in need of shelter

I am ENERGIZED in the Sun

I am weary through stormy weather

~

I AM A FIGHTER

I AM A LOVER

I AM A DAUGHTER

I AM A MOTHER

~

I am a Best Friend, a trusted confidante

I am your Worst Enemy if you try to fill me with daunt

~

I am Accurate and Precise like a sleek Stealth Bomber

I am Carefree and Wind-Carried like a sailing air glider

~

I am Powerful and Deliberate, more than any locomotive

I am flimsy and undecided, complete with trainwreck moments

~

I am Sassy, Saucy, Spicy and Silly

I am Sophisticated, Subtle, Self-Secure and Serious

~

i am humble

I AM BOLD

I am Warm

I am cold

~

I am Fun, Zany, Fantastic and Wild

~

…i am dull…

~

I AM INSPIRING!

I AM A BREATH OF FRESH AIR!

~

I am Creative, Artisitic, Motivated and Driven

I am tired and worn out and wonder the purpose of living

~

I am Hardworking

I am lazy

I am Sane

I am crazy

~

I am OUT LOUD AND IN YO’ FACE!

~

i am reserved

~

I am an OxYmOrOn

I am Perfectly Flawed

~

I am Multi-Dimensional

I am Multi-Faceted

~

I am EVERYTHING and nothing

~

I am EVERY woman…

~

I'm Every Woman

Ladies…What kind of a woman are YOU?!

Discover and Embrace…today and EVERYDAY!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

75 days of me…for YOU!

75 days ago, on November 17, 2011, I had the esteemed pleasure of talking with and interviewing Ms. Phylicia Rashad.

During that conversation, I quickly realized that she was just as I had envisioned…A strong, phenomenal woman secure within herself…A force that pulled you in with loving authority for the purpose of imparting wisdom…A woman, whom through her journey of self-discovery, had evolved into a wise, regal beauty…A humble spirit, accepting of her flaws, desiring continued knowledge and growth. And thus, I quickly realized that she not only embodies much of what I hope to attain but also paves the road which I have chosen to travel.

I was interviewing Ms. Rashad for a magazine article that will appear in the February edition of Living Roots Magazine. So, our conversation began quite professionally, as most freelance jobs do. Before long, we were sharing personal stories and memories of life growing up in Louisiana. After discovering that our families are from neighboring towns, I felt a more personal connection. ~Yeah, she was my homegirl, now!~ (insert chuckle here)

As we exchanged stories about life as a woman with a husband, children and a career, she gave me a very timeless, precious and priceless piece of advice. With a tone ladled in experience, she affectionately said the following:

You have to carve out some time for you. You’re a creative person…a little bit more time and a little bit more thought, goodness only knows what you’ll think to write. You have to have time for yourself. Just see it, and don’t wait!

Though you may be thinking, “Well, this is no different from what women are told to do all of the time,” it was different for me. It wasn’t different all at once. It has taken time. 75 days of time. Time to sink in…Time of feeling burnt out…Time of feeling flustered and frustrated…Time of hearing her words again, from memory as well as the live recording…Time of reflecting on those words and seeing, over and over, the results of NOT following her advice.

It has even taken me looking back on my last blog post [And then it hits you], and thinking, “Recognizing the need to build a network of supportive ladies is all well and good; however, ACTING on that need…Now that’s the key!”

And then, I took it a step further. In the last 75 days…75 days since I received the gift of friendly advice…what have I done for others, and what have I done for myself?

In the past 75 days I have:

  • Prepared 3 meals per day for 9 people (my husband and 8 kids)…That is a total of 225 meals during the last 75 days, which equals 2,025 individual servings!
  • Prepared 2 snacks per day for 9 people…That is a total of 150 snacks, which equals 1,350 individual servings!
  • At the very least, I wash 2-3 loads of laundry per day. That’s at least 188 loads of laundry!
  • I have provided chauffeur services to and from countless basketball practices, games and dance classes.
  • Checked and helped with a multitude of homework assignments.
  • Broken up thousands of fights and arguments! THOUSANDS, I’m sure of it!!
  • Heard “MOM!”…”I’m Telling!”… “SHUT UP!” … and “QUIT” so many times that I have literally said “SHHHH” (very loudly) when no one was even saying a word!!! Yep!  I was the one who looked like the crazy fool!

This list goes on!

In the last 75 days, here’s what I’ve done for myself:

  • Had my gray roots colored TWICE
  • Went to the nail salon ONCE (1st time in almost 2 years)
  • Went on ONE date with my husband

This list unfortunately, does not go on. However, one thing that must not go on is this constant placing of ourselves on the back burner. Ladies, how many times have you felt guilty for entertaining the thought of spending time with a girlfriend? How many times have you planned to do something only to put it off to accommodate someone else?

I fall into the guilt trap all of the time. I still have a gift card in my purse for my favorite clothing store that I received from my husband for Christmas. Why? Why do I constantly view time for myself as some type of extravagant luxury, when, in fact, it is a necessity. I must begin to view myself as a priority.

I have been working on my February calendar, and I intend to treat myself as a just that…a priority. I will follow Ms. Rashad’s advice and “carve out some time” for me.  And, if you’re anything like me, you should do the same.

“You have to have time for yourself.”

It’s time to include personal time in our regular routines. That way, we’re being proactive. We’re recharging our batteries before they become too depleted.

Doing so will enable us to always deliver our best selves to those around us. I want my family to have a woman in their lives whom they would describe as being Bright and Blissful, not Bitter and Broken. I want to always be that woman who is Sassy, Spunky, Shining, Social, Sweet, Sincere and Sophisticated, not Scornful and Scarred.

Women have always passed on recipes to loved ones. Recipes for savory dishes and succulent desserts. They’ve carefully perfected and passed down the exact measurements and fool-proof methods to create satisfying dishes. What about the recipe for life? More specifically, the recipe for a happy life? And even more specific than that, the recipe for a happy life as a Woman?

We are creating life recipes and handing them down…just as our mothers did, and their mothers before them did…we just don’t realize it. And many times, we don’t realize what type of recipe we are creating until it is too late. Our children, as well as all those we influence, learn our life recipes through our actions, our demeanor, our levels of happiness. I want to pass on fantastic recipes like Living Life Out Loud, Struttin’ Through the Stress and Finding Love and Laughter Even In The Most Unexpected Places.

I don’t want my loved ones learning the recipes for resentment, sadness and despair.

The only way we can perfect these recipes is by spending time in our “test kitchens,” discovering and revealing all that is good within ourselves, and concocting a perfect medley of our personal flavors!  A concoction that we would feel proud to pass on to others. I actually talk about this in my first blog post Secrets in the roux!  Funny how you come full circle.

Interesting…if you take a moment to look at it…when you take the time to do for yourself, you are, in essence, still doing for others! Undoubtedly, that’s a win-win! No guilt in that!

For the next 75 days, I will be spending some much-needed time in my test kitchen. Each day, I will “carve out some time” for me.

I’m going to give unto myself so that I may, in turn, give to you!

And then it hits you…

Disclaimer: Today’s post is throwing all fear out of the window…I’m about to be real, so brace yourselves!…..

Somehow women are duped into believing that feelings or expressions of discontent, frustration, irritation, sadness or dissatisfaction all convey unappreciation, unthankfulness, complaining and downright b*!$%iness (you know what I mean). We are convinced that no one else can possibly understand, and, if we share what troubles us, then we will be subject to ridicule and judgment. As a result, we hold in our true feelings in fear that others will misunderstand our intentions. We fear being ousted. So we go through the motions as if everything is just dandy–living our cookie-cutter lives–thinking we need to smile all of the time because Suzy Q. Homemaker is doing it.

Is it so wrong to be real? To be honest? To share with other women the feelings that we all have experienced at one time or another? We should be able to do that without fear of being “The only one.” And usually, we only intend to vent or communicate how we are feeling at the moment. Our “in this moment” feelings do not mean that we feel these things all of the time. And it certainly doesn’t mean that we are incapable of seeing the blessings in our lives.

We are made to feel like we need to Grin and bear it, Suck it up, Take one for the team, or simply just Get over it.

NEWSFLASH! We are entitled to say it like it is, to share our woes and to express ourselves without the worry..without the fear. In fact, if more of us came together and shared honestly, then we would find comfort in knowing that we are not alone and there is an entire sisterhood in our corners.

How many times has a friend asked you how things are going and you lied and said everything was great? How many times were you ready to spill your guts and let it all hang out, but, instead, you held it in with a smile?

When you bottle it up, it finds a release. When you sweep it under the rug, you, eventually, trip over the hump.

You’re going along. You think you’re fine…You’re maintaining.

And then it hits you…

WAM!

That is a…Woman Amnesia Moment!

You look around and wonder, “Where am I? How did I get here?”

You look in the mirror and you don’t recognize who’s staring back at you. And you say, “Who are you? What is your purpose?”

You look at the person next to you and think, “Who the hell are you? Where did you come from? Why the hell are you here?”

You look at the once precious babies that the doctor gently placed in your arms and think, “Who are you defiant creatures? Where are those sweet babies?”

You look around again and wonder, “What is all this chaos? And why are you people draining me dry?”

Even after doing what I feel is much work on myself and my purpose…even after exploring all that is me and working towards discovering my path, I still feel these things from time-to-time.

Sometimes, I feel tired. I feel drained. I feel overused. I feel helpless. I feel trapped. I feel uninspired. I feel alone. I feel saddened.

And that is okay. I do not have to make apologies for feeling out-of-place…disconnected…falling without a net. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care. It doesn’t mean that I don’t cherish. It doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate. It doesn’t mean that I don’t feel blessed, thankful, or gratitude.

It just means that I am human. It just means that I need a sympathic ear. It just means that I need a shoulder…a friend…good advice.

What’s the cure for a case of Woman Amnesia Moment? I don’t know. Maybe just the things I mentioned above…understanding, compassion, comradery…

The challenge is letting go of the fear and being honest with one another when we share our feelings and needs. Women can only be there for one another if there is honesty with no shame.

If we surround ourselves with a NETWORK of like-minded, supportive, good-spirited sisters, then we will surely have less WAM! episodes.

And, in case you were wondering, I am currently experiencing WAM!

And, so it just it hit me…

I need to build my network.

Realizing I need to expand my network of support gives me hope...like the rays of the sun.

Looking for that which I cannot see

Affectionately christened my Decade of Discovery, my 30s have been spent uncovering, learning, revealing, and exploring all that is ME!

Now, at age 39, my last year of discovery, not only do I find myself continuing to develop, but also becoming a bit perplexed…

Now that I have this treasure trove of information, knowledge, wisdom, and advice, what am I supposed to do with it all? I have all of these pieces strewn about in front of me, but no idea how to put them together. I have been on and am coming upon the completion of this Journey of Great Transformation, but have no clue of what lies in my very near future. Where will I end up? What will I become? What’s next for me?

After many days and much thought, an important truth–and what most assuredly was yet another of this Decade’s lessons–occurred to me. People are always looking for Clarity. And that’s what I was doing…Looking for that which I cannot see.

You see, sometimes we must dwell in darkness in order to appreciate the light! Are you feeling me?

Sometimes We Must Dwell In Darkness In Order To Appreciate The Light!!

By darkness, I do not mean despair or gloom. What I mean is the unknown, the uncertain, the unchartered, the absence.

Finding Clarity is not like finding a lost hairbrush or your favorite lip gloss. You don’t just happen upon it.

Clarity is a presence, a knowledge, a breath of fresh air that is Attained! It is not tangible. And it is immeasurable!

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Scott Photography

When the caterpillar is born, it nourishes itself until it is a full-grown, adult caterpillar. It then wraps itself in its chrysalis, its dark place, where a beautiful metamorphosis transpires. When its transformation is complete, it emerges as a gorgeous Butterfly, ready to spread its wings and FLY!

While in its Chrysalis, the caterpillar does not question what it shall do or where it shall go once its development is complete. The caterpillar does not wonder, “Once I become a butterfly, then what?”

It just becomes…as I must Just Become.

I must not waste another moment wondering what will become of me once I have transformed. Like the Butterfly, I must be ready to spread my wings, and fly to wherever the universe takes me. I must become comfortable in my dark place knowing that the Clarity will, undoubtedly, come!

I am My Sister’s Keeper, and That’s All I Need to Know

"She...reaches out her hands to the needy...and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." Proverbs 31:20, 26

October 1st was my birthday, and I saw it as a beginning for many things.

That day marked the beginning of a new month; the first real glimpse of fall; the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month; the start of National Domestic Violence Month; a new chapter in my husband’s career as the previous day was his last with his former employer; and the first day of the last year of my 30’s, which I like to call The Decade of Discovery.

I had a wonderful day with my husband and children and was showered with love, affection, gifts, cards, phone calls, and special birthday messages.

That night, my husband took me out to one of our favorite restaurants. After being seated, we were greeted by our server for the evening, Tiffany.

Into the meal, we noticed that we had seen many polite and friendly faces, but had not seen Tiffany since she initially brought our waters and took our order. Human nature, which is laced in imperfection, reared it’s ugly head, and we found ourselves questioning her absence with a judgemental and negative undertone, despite our lovely dining experience.

As our meal, conversation, and laughter continued, Tiffany resurfaced, approached our table and offered a sincere apology for her “brief hiatus.”

Though she attempted to seem lighthearted, she was visibly shaken. The mascara stains, that only another woman would notice, under her beautifully exotic, almond-shaped eyes were proof positive that she had been crying.

My heart immediately went out to her.

It no longer mattered that we had been taken care of by others. In fact, it should have never mattered. To have even brought up the fact that she had vanished, despite the fact that our meal was wonderful, was selfish and pretentious. Was it a huge deal to us? No, it was not. But we discussed it in conversation with an air of entitlement. And albeit brief, it was still inconsiderate and presumptious.

I asked her what was wrong, and as gracefully as she could, she tried to explain. It was unclear what had rattled her so deeply. But what was clear, was that she needed to know that someone was on her side. So, I did what any caring woman would have done…I kicked my husband out of his seat, pulled her down next to me, and through a hug and a kiss on the cheek, shared with her all the love that I had received that day.

She opened up a bit more and, with a broken spirit and tear-stained cheeks, revealed that she had been upset by someone in the workplace. She felt the need to assure me that she doesn’t normally get so emotional over work-related matters and that this time it just really got to her. But my feeling is that if she has been placed in this situation on more than one occasion, then is she not entitled to feel? Is she not allowed a moment to lick her wounds? She is a living, breathing being, not a machine.

Some might say that she may have been in the wrong where her job was concerned…that she brought it on herself…maybe that she is a terrible employee. For me, those details were insignificant.

All that mattered was the shattered, insecure, distressed young lady before me. She needed to be nurtured. She needed a safe place…a place of protection. Protection from what was not my concern. And though our paths may never cross again and I will never know what happened to cause her such sadness, my only concern was to be the keeper for whom she longed.

My point here is this…We don’t know what may be going on in someone else’s world and how that situation may spill over into other areas of their lives. We don’t know their pain, their loss, their sorrow, or their fears.

And the truth is, we don’t need to know these things: we just need to know that they exist.

If we practice patience, empathy, understanding, and kindness; then we will be able to hold our heads high, look into the mirror and say…

I am My Sister’s Keeper, and That’s All I Need to Know!

 

I am a Superwoman! And So are YOU!

“Wow, you’re a Superwoman!” “How do you do it? You’re a Superwoman!” “Do you have an ‘S’ on chest? You must be Superwoman!”

The above statements are only some of the comments that I have received from others when they learn that I am a Wife; a Mother of 8; a Freelance Writer, Columnist, Blogger and aspiring Author; and a Floral Designer.

Each time I have received these beautiful comments, I have both bashfully and uncomfortably expressed my gratitude and quickly changed the subject. I have even on occasion replied by saying, “Oh, no no no. I’m not Superwoman.”

Since last Saturday alone, I cannot count the number of times I have heard this exact phrase. And quite honestly, I am thankful to have been, for lack of a better word,  bombarded with it, because it held me down in that uncomfortable place long enough to force me to stop squirming and start wondering. I wondered why these compliments conjured up such discomfort within me. I wondered why I felt so undeserving. I wondered why I felt as if a cement block had been chained to my ankle and I was shoved overboard…to drown.

Yes, that uncomfortable!

Initially, my answer was that Superwoman does things perfectly. And, although, I would love to think that I am faster than a mischievous 2-year-old and can leap tall mountains of laundry in a single bound, the truth is that I am not even close to perfection.

But then, I quickly realized that really wasn’t it. That was not the reason behind the uneasy feeling in the pit of my gut.

The real reason is that I am uncomfortable with the possible notion that I am somehow the standard by which women are to be measured. Do these comments suggest that a woman must have 8 kids, a husband, and be career-oriented in order to be considered Super? If so, then I am uncomfortable with that.

What makes me Super is different than what makes the next woman Super, and so on.  We are ALL Super in our own right.

I have spent years working on the wonder that is me. And I have only scratched the surface.  And as I begin the last year of my 30’s, I feel powerful, strengthened, excited, and inspired.  But most of all, I feel thankful. Thankful for all of my successes and all of my failures. Thankful for all of my highs and all of my lows. Thankful for all of my “high-heeled” struts AND all of my embarassing face-plants!

I have spent many years “searching for the better part of me”…discovering that which makes ME Super. And I have spent much time observing what makes other women Super, as well.

Am I a Superwoman? Yes I am! And to all my women I say…So Are YOU!

Explore, Discover, Highlight, and Showcase ALL that makes you Super!

Remember, we are women, and that, alone, makes us Super!

Tell me…What makes you feel Super?