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!