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And The Winner Is…

Greetings Sassy Sophisticates!

The last 2 weeks have been filled with marvelous encounters!

I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in several different activities and functions that have exposed me to some pretty spectacular ladies! And I have been overflowing with inspiration!

I was invited to be a part of the Renew & Restore Expo brought to you by Restoration From Within and even hosted my very first Sassy Sophisticate Social! At both events, all in attendance were able to enter the drawing for the Sassy Sophisticate Inspiration Sampler which is a gorgeous gift basket filled with tons of goodies designed to inspire the crap out of you!

Sassy Sophisticate Inspiration Sampler

If you have a dream, a goal, an aspiration–anything trapped inside and dying to get out–then pray your name is drawn, because the goodies in this basket were all selected with the purpose of encouraging you to explore your inner most thoughts and feelings.

Giveaways are awesome! Giveaways that inspire…Even Better!

I would like to thank you for taking the time out to enter. I am about to make one Sassy Sophisticate very happy!

So, without further ado, click on over to the video! Could the winner be you?! Find out now! And be sure to congratulate the winner in the comments!

Oh yes, and subscribe, too!

And remember…

Discover your passions! Create your own identity! And let the world hear your Voice!

Until next time…

Stay Sassy!

The Creole Magnolia

Sitting with Self, Amidst Awkwardness & Discomfort

I am one week into my journey to find Clarity, Simplicity and the Basics–my theme for my month long Ultimate Blog Challenge. Ironically, this month is National Stress Awareness Month, and I firmly believe in order to conquer stress, we must first have Clarity.

I find myself struggling to grasp and hold onto simplicity as a result of the additional work commitments that I have hoisted upon my already tired and beaten shoulders. These additional obligations–freelance writing jobs and other professional projects–devour my time and leave me feeling overburdened and uninspired. Because they cast me into a role of support for another company, organization or individual’s work-related missions and interests, they have become distractions designed to prevent me from actualizing my own dreams, passions and goals.

Over the course of the last 7 days, I have forced myself to come face-to-face with my concerns in an effort not only to find a solution, but also to prevent the same situation from recurring in the future. Consequently, I’ve noticed that my blog content has shifted from speech that was geared towards lifting and inspiring women, as well as myself, as a collective whole to now being worded in a manner that seems self serving. My message, that once used “we” and “us,” is now ladled with “I” and “me.”

This is very strange for me.

I realize that in order to do “personal work” and make effective changes “within,” I must turn inward…reflect…and, ultimately, take a long hard look at myself. Clearly, if I am sharing a specific, personal journal on a public platform, then, yes, the attention will be directed upon me.

Be selfless and give of yourself, without losing yourself.

Be selfless and give of yourself, without losing yourself.

However, I am cautious about such things. To me, there is a fine line between self-assurance and self-indulgence. A fine line between selfless and selfish.

I also realize in order to uncover what’s hidden, you must sit with the awkwardness and discomfort. You cannot grow and evolve if you are never willing to explore life beyond the boundaries of restrictive comfort zones.

In typing this, I also realize something else…could this strange discomfort I feel when focusing on “I” and “me”…could this be at the heart of my constant battle with putting the dreams of others ahead of my own? Am I too uncomfortable to focus on myself and, thus, push my aspirations aside to help someone else attain theirs? Am I sabotaging myself by piling my plate full of duties designed to  support the missions of others in order to avoid shining the light on my talents and efforts? I’ve always been self-confident, self-assured, with a positive self-image. But could I be too selfless?

Until now, I have always prided myself on my ability to motivate and encourage the collective…to teach and inspire through my own personal experiences and thoughts without making it all about me. Now that I am faced with it being “all about me,” I seem to have stumbled upon valuable information…an intuitive gem!

This definitely gives me more to consider when I explore the why’s.

Until then, I will continue Sitting with Self, Amidst Awkwardness and Discomfort.

Using this blog challenge to find Clarity, Simplicity and the Basics!

Using this blog challenge to find Clarity, Simplicity and the Basics!

 

 

 

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

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?

I am a Woman. I am Phenomenal

So many Pieces that make the Phenomenal Woman that is Me

I never really considered myself a Feminist. At least, not in the literal sense. I am ashamed to say, but there was a time when I associated Feminism with a group of bra-burning, rowdy trouble makers. Clearly, those who found discomfort in the thought of women receiving equal treatment, rights, and privileges, were able to cloud my thinking and opinions with their unintelligent, misinformed, rhetoric. I was very, very young and, in all honesty, had no real concept of what I was hearing or seeing. Seeing images on television of women with picket signs yelling, combined with hearing negative, one-sided comments that spoke against these phenomenal women and their goals, undoubtedly had an impact on me. It’s true what they say–Children do imitate their atmospheres. They are like sponges. They soak up EVERYTHING…good and bad.

Since that time, I have come to learn that there was no bra burning–they simply threw them out!

Since that time, I have come to learn that I am a complicated, complex, creative, compassionate, confident, courageous being who stands up for that which I believe; who will not settle for being less than or even being told that I am less than; who encourages females to reach for the stars because there is no limit to their achievements; and who believes that a lady should be filled with such a high level of self-worth and respect that no one would ever be able to diminish the power of her intellect and fool her into thinking that all she has to offer are her breasts, her thighs, or her hips.

Since that time, I have come to learn that I am a complicated, complex, creative, compassionate, confident, courageous being…I am a Woman. A woman with a voice. A woman who wants to be heard. A woman who dares to say what only some will think. A woman who will allow herself to be vulnerable in order to be understood. A woman who gives freely with no expectations. A woman who is capable of being hurt. A woman who is driven by emotion, not afraid to reflect, not afraid to express, not afraid to fall, not afraid to fail.

Do those things make me a feminist? Perhaps. I’m not really sure. But they do make me Phenomenal!

Last week, I saw an interview with Gloria Steinem~Author, Writer, Lecturer, Editor, and Feminist Activist~What a Phenomenal Woman!

Her achievements, past and present, inspire me. She has taught me and continues to teach me that all it takes is ONE voice to motivate MILLIONS!

I also saw an interview with Kathryn Stockett~Writer and Author of The Help~Another Phenomenal Woman!

Stockett’s first novel The Help was rejected by 60 literary agents. 60! But that did not stop her. Perseverance is the lesson there. Stockett teaches me that all it takes is ONE person to BELIEVE in you.

My take away from them both…If just ONE person takes the time to listen, then VALUE can be gained by MANY!

Who will Inspire you today? Perhaps you’ll allow it to be me.

The Men That I Come From…An essay for Pa

I must begin by apologizing for this lengthy post. There is much on my mind and in my heart and I have no other alternative than to let it all out. So hear goes…

About 4 years ago, I had what probably ranks among my top 5 worst moments…perhaps, it could have been my single worst moment.

After what was most likely a silly disagreement with my husband (because I can’t even recall what it was about), my emotions were extremely heightened, and, quite frankly, out of control. I decided to take a shower. As the water ran from the top of my head; through my hair; across my shoulders; and down my legs, an angry sensation gripped my very core. It was as if the water had stirred up memories of every negative, mean-spirited, and hateful thing every male in my life had ever done to me. I was flooded with old feelings of hurt, betrayal, and blame. I was drowning in unresolved pain.

I remembered my babysitter’s son, the young man of age 17 who robbed the 5-year-old me of her innocence. I remembered the morning that the same fragile child tried to tell Daddy what was going on. But I, that tender child, could not find the words. All I could muster up were tears and pleas to not send me back there. But in Daddy’s eyes, I was disrupting the morning routine, and my fuss and raucus was quickly met with a swat to the backside. He didn’t know. He had no idea what his baby girl was trying to tell him. I didn’t know how to tell him. But for years, I blamed him. I blamed him for not rescuing me. I blamed him for not paying closer attention to my cries. I blamed him for the rape and molestation that I was enduring.

As the water and emotions continued to wash over me, I remebered going into a fast food restaurant with my mother. I was only 10 or 12. I was still reeling from the after effects of surviving sexual abuse. I was surviving it alone. Don’t get me wrong; my mother and father did eventually discover that I was being harmed, and they came to my rescue. They even sent me to a child psychologist. She helped me. I remember all the things she would do with me. She befriended me and made me feel comfortable enough to talk. Once my sessions with her were complete, my parents never continued to talk to me. They fell victim to the notion that I would one day forget and all would be healed in my world. So, while they pretended that I had forgotten, I was left alone to cope, to heal, to understand. What I eventually gained was shame and an innate inability to trust. I became guarded.

The 10 or 12-year-old me was standing with my mother placing an order to take home for a quick Friday night dinner. A local man with Down’s Syndrome was there. Apparently, my mother had full knowledge that this man was harmless and was a regular at this particular restaurant. She also knew of his tendency to become instantly infatuated with someone of the opposite sex. Unfortuantely, I did not know this. And he had his sights set…Locked in on the unsuspecting, already damaged young girl that was me.

He walked over to us and repeatedly began to say, “I lub ‘er. I lub ‘er.” As he professed his love for me, over and over again, his hands were all over me…hugging me, touching me, grabbing me, trying to kiss me. I fought to get away. I called for my mom. Somehow, I was expected to understand that he meant no harm, that he was different. But I was too young, and too wounded to comprehend such matters. Again, I was left to fend off a male attacker on my own. I hated him, and eventually found myself feeling uncomfortable around other males with Down’s Syndrome. This posed a problem as I had a male cousin with Down’s. I loved my cousin, but after this incident, I felt conflicted. Which resulted in more feelings of shame–ashamed of my body and myself, because I felt I was attracting these invaders, and ashamed of myself for casting blame and a shadow of doubt upon other males with Down’s.

The water continued to fall and I remebered the cool spring night…too warm for the heat, yet too cool for the a/c. I was in my apartment alone with my oldest son. I raised the bedroom window just enough to feel a bit of the fresh breeze. I positioned two window locks on either side of the window so that it could not be raised up by someone on the outside. I had fallen asleep, with my son alongside me, and woke up to the flashing lights of the television. It was 5am. I got up, went to the bathroom, got cozy under the covers again, and watched images of Dr. Huxtable and Rudy as an old episode of The Cosby Show played with the volume turned down. And then I heard it. Movement outside of my window. Slow and steady. Almost cat-like. My focus immediately shifted the window I left opened. I watched and waited. And when I saw the top of a man’s head slowly creeping into view I let out a yell like no other…”HEY!” The slow movement quickly changed into scrambling and then running. I had scared him off.

Still standing there in the shower, both motionless and wet, my mind continued to replay. And this time, I remembered the night my husband and I went to the movies. We purchased our tickets and headed towards the theater. I needed to use the restroom prior to the start of the show. And like a gentleman, my husband waited outside of the bathroom for me. I walk through a winding corridor that finally opened up to the large public restroom. I went into the stall next to someone else. While using the facilities, I noticed the white sneakers and blue jeans of the person next door. I couldn’t help but think of what a tomboy she must be because the shoes and jeans were so masculine. I heard the toilet flush and the shoes were gone, but the stall door never opened. I immediately looked up! And to my horror, there was a man about to come over the top of my stall. I jumped up, pulled up my pants and before he could get out of the bathroom, I cornered him. I was furious and beyond ready to fight! He claimed he didn’t know he was in the ladies room. My guess is that he was trying to steal my purse. I was so agressive with him in my speech and demeanor that he ran, and I ran after him. I ran smack dab into my husband and together we notified the officer on duty. Unfortunately, he got away. And I was left with the thought that I, again, had to defend myself against a would-be attacker…alone.

And yet, the water continued. I remebered the “so-called” men in my young adulthood who had wronged me. And not the normal let-downs, but the wrongs that can never be made right. The wrongs that, if not dealt with properly, can stick with you for life. I won’t mention the details right now. Those are stories for another day.

I thought of all the women and girls in the news who had been sexually assualted, kidnapped, murdered. I thought of female friends who had sustained abuse from a man. I thought of women who were enslaved and beaten by their husbands. I thought of all the wars that were started by men.

And as the last drop of water fell upon my cheek, a new me was born. A hateful, angry, bitter, unforgiving me. Ready to fight, ready to hurt, ready to take on any man who thought for one moment they could hurt me. I was Brash and Harsh. My 5 foot 5 inch frame stepped from the shower as if a giant…undefeatable, ready to crush and devour.

I called my husband into the room, and, with tears of rage, proceeded to proclaim my newfound revelation…”Everything that is wrong with the world is the result of a man!” I continued with no regard for his feelings. My words may as well have been daggers because they cut him…they cut him deeply. And what’s worse, is that, at the time, I didn’t even care.

I lashed out. Snapped. Crumbled.

And then, a very short while later, my senses returned. The mother of boys in me called out. I heard the real me saying, “How can you say these things about men, and then claim to love your male children? How can you raise them up right, if you detest the very thing they will become?” I listened to her. I listened to me. I realized at that moment that my wounds ran deeper than what even I knew. And the only way to heal them was through forgiveness. FORGIVENESS…a huge word. I still work on this daily.

I began to really explore what that meant…to truly forgive someone. I realized that what I was struggling with was not forgiving, but forgiving when the offender is not a part of the forgiveness process. I learned that I was needing my offenders to ask for absolution. I thought it should be as simple as apologies amongst children. You say, “Sorry,” and I say, “Okay.” I was naive.

After a little time, and a lot of thought, I grew. I let go of that hurt. I let go of the bitterness. And I let men off of the hook. I apologized to my husband and begged him to understand that my crazy, mixed-up thoughts must have been an unfortunate part of my healing process. I didn’t want to excuse my behavior; I wanted to understand it. I learned that sometimes you have to hit rock-bottom before you can begin to crawl back up.

Since then, I have come to realize that men have played an enormously positive role in creating the woman that I am today. Despite my fragile moment, I am a strong, independent, fearless woman, who is not afraid to love, willing to open her heart, and gives freely. I am a daughter who cherishes her father; a sister who has always been protective of her not-so baby brother; and a niece and a goddaughter to a man who taught me so much about love, commitment, hard work, and dependability.

Today, that man, my Parrain (Creole for godfather) died. He lost his battle against cancer, but he never gave up the fight. He never lost his will to live. He never lost his ability to give. He never lost the strength to love. He never lost the Faith to Trust.

My Daddy, my brother, and my Pa were the males in my life who helped to shape me into a wife who adores and supports her husband and a mother who sees God in her sons (and daughters, too, but this isn’t about them right now).

My Daddy taught me loyalty and the importance of family; my brother was my first baby and, in a sense, showed me how to care for a young boy by allowing me to nurture and protect him; and My Pa, my dear Pa…he taught me many things, but most of all he taught me the importance of a strong relationship with God. From when I was a very small child, he was the one who taught me The Lord’s Prayer, The Hail Mary, and The Glory Be (We were Creole Catholics). And even as his faith in God changed and grew, he continued to teach me how to pray to our Almighty Father. He taught me to stand up for what you believe in and to never leave from God. He was a blessing; He was mine; And I was his.

I was able to spend a few days with him at the end of June. I knew when I went there that those would be the last days I would ever spend with him. I knew the day I left that that would be the last time our eyes would meet. He told me he loved me in a way that meant so much. My response, “Oh, I know you do, Pa. That’s the one thing you have always made sure I knew.” And when it was time for me to go, I kissed him, and I kissed him again, and said, “Well, I’ll be seeing ya.” I backed out of the room, our eyes locked in on each other. And I know he was thinking what I was thinking…this is the end.

And today, Thursday July 14th, he’s gone, but he will never be far from my heart. I have spent the better part of the day crying, but I have also called to mind times well spent, memories shared, and special moments created. And that’s when my mind went on that terrible day…the day that I thought all men were the bad guys. I couldn’t help but reflect on that moment because the opposite is what holds true. I have actually been and continue to be surrounded by men who love me, spoil me, care for me, and support me. Thank you Pa for being one of The Men That I Come From.

I love you Pa! You will be deeply missed...

The Secret’s in the Roux

Donloyn's Homemade Gumbo!

All good gumbo begins with a great roux!

For those of you who may not know, a roux is a mixture of flour and fat (oil or butter) that serves as a thickener and base for gumbo.

A great roux takes time. Equal parts of flour and fat are blended together over heat, stirring constantly, until the roux is the perfect color, silky smooth, and bursting with a nutty smell.

Once you have created a strong base, which serves as the foundation for your gumbo, you can begin adding ingredient after ingredient, layer upon layer, until you arrive at the finished product…a Perfect pot of gumbo!

But Gumbo is deeper than just a savory dish. It signifies the coming together of all the best elements that several different cultures have to offer.

And yet, the magnitude of this meal does not end there.

In fact, the process of turning simple flour and oil into a rich pot of complex flavors and aromas is much like the process of transitioning from a young, naive girl into a strong, confident, and self-assured woman. It takes time, thought, and careful consideration.

And sometimes, women may find that after years of work in their “test kitchens,” their “gumbo” still falls a bit bland and flat. No worries…sometimes personal recipes need a little tweaking along the way.

What’s my recipe, you ask?

Blend equal parts of Love and Tenderness. Add a cup of Knowledge, a heaping tablespoon of Strength and Confidence, a 1/2 cup of Compassion and Trust, 2 teaspoons of Independence, 2 cups of Prayer, a dash of Purpose, a dollop of Determination, a sprinkle of Inspiration, and Voila! You’ve created a Bold, Beautiful, Sassy Sophisticate!

Are you satisfied with the woman you are today? If not, I have only one thing to say…

The secrets in the roux! What’s in your Gumbo pot?

Welcome

Welcome to Creole Magnolia Creations’ Motivational Café where it is my goal to Purify and Inspire the hearts, minds, and souls of today’s Sassy Sophisticates!
Through engaging essays, articles, and stories, I aim to inform, uplift, and enlighten.

Through genuine and compassionate words of advice and encouragement, I seek to provide answers, healing and comfort.

Be empowered! Allow the light to shine on your Strong, Stylish, Sassy Self!

Purification. Inspiration. Sophistication.

Creole Magnolia Creations!