Taking a Leap, Big or Not

I am hoping that this will be the start of me stepping out on faith or on my own confidence or whatever it is that may or may not be driving me. I am trying to redefine what I do and what I want for my life. This is outside of being a wife and a mother, and even outside of my relationship with others.

I want to be better and do better for my career and for my own happiness. It’s been a long time since I really thought about what brings me joy, 11 years to be exact. Becoming a mother consumed me and while I love the role and excel at it, I, like many other mothers, allowed that role to define me.

I was a guest on a podcast a while ago and my opinion was sought to talk about distance learning from a parental perspective. But when I was introduced, one of the hosts made it a point to say “she’s more than a mother.”

I appreciated that and didn’t realize how much I needed someone else to affirm that. Like it gives me permission to finally step from behind my babies and claim a piece of this world for myself.

I am in a season of discovering my worth and not being afraid to reject those things that are comfortable for me. Prime example, in my regular 9-5 I was an editor and have been for the past 13 years. Since getting laid off last month, I started my regular search of editor positions. This is the third time I’ve been laid off in my life and I am finally realizing the limits I have placed on myself.

Just like I am more than a mother, I am more than an editor as well. I train writers and researchers. I excel at public speaking. I am organized and a planner. I also dabble in social media and marketing. I can do and be more than I’ve ever allowed myself to be.

I am also writing a new book, something nonfiction that I am passionate about. The first book of fiction will always be my baby and I have not given up on the idea of it being a successful and innovate series. I self published the first book and never even considered the idea of looking for an agent and signing with a publisher.

My old fears of not being good enough were ever present even though I didn’t realize it at the time. This time around, I’m shooting my shot. What’s the worst that could happen? If I really believe in this project and really believe that God placed it in my spirit, there’s no way I will fail. The people will have access to my words one way or another.

I sound like I am rambling I’m sure. Just know this, I am placing myself in a position to soar.

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Accountability Equals Success

Every year, before school starts, I talk to my son about my expectations for him as a student. These discussions started when he was in kindergarten and normally included “listen to your teacher,” “keep your hands to yourself,” and “try your best.”

While those sentiments are still part of our yearly conversation about academics, other expectations have been added. But this year, his first as a middle schooler, I have taken a slightly different approach.

The older he gets, the more I want to make sure he understands what it means to be accountable. What I really try to drill into his mind is the concept of academic success. His success as a student is dependent on the actions of himself, his teachers, and his parents.

He is expected to find a way to stay organized now that he has seven teachers as opposed to one. He needs to come up with a system that will prohibit him from missing any assignments. He needs to make sure he isn’t distracted when the teachers are talking and he needs to not be afraid to ask questions when he doesn’t understand something.

I expect his teachers to be patient with my son and with the other students. I expect them to intervene if they see a promising student getting overwhelmed. I expect them to stay in contact with my son and with his parents if they see opportunities that could help him be even more successful.

As a mommy, my job is to support my son. I am supposed to ensure he has all of the materials he needs and I need to create an environment for him that allows him to be at peak performance. It is my job to make sure he is comfortable talking to me or his daddy if he is not feeling his best. Above all, it is imperative that he knows I am his advocate and will meet with every single teacher, and the principal if need be, to make sure we are all on the same page when it comes to his education.

In this year’s conversation on expectations, I gave my son full permission to hold me accountable himself. I realized that I can’t hold him to these high standards and not allow him to do the same to me. I told him, “If at any time you feel ignored or like mommy is not as involved as you want me to be, then tell me. Remind me of the promises I made to you. Do not let me fail you as your mommy.”

Giving him that kind of power will hopefully make him feel empowered as a young man and will lead to him making good decisions in the future.

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September 3, 2020 · 5:11 pm

This is Personal

I have always wanted several children, no more than four and no less than three. My babies right now are 11 and 6 and with COVID-19 keeping us home, including me working from home full-time, I felt like this was a perfect time to have another baby.

The husband doesn’t agree.

In fact, we have circled around the subject of adding to our families for a year now. He always knew where I stood while his opinion on the matter was never, truly finite. However, he has since made up his mind: he doesn’t want any more children.

I am sad. Especially when I hear of people getting pregnant or when I see old photos and videos of my babies, it breaks me a little inside.

If he relented and gave me one more baby, I fear he would grow to resent me for doing something he didn’t want to do. On the flip side, I fear that until I am physically unable to have more children, I may grow to resent him.

In addition to this conversation, I had a mini-mental breakdown a couple of weeks ago.

I woke up with a heaviness on my spirit that I just couldn’t explain. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about what I was feeling because I honestly couldn’t put it into words. I cried most of the day and was overcome with feeling overwhelmed and sad.

The next day, I felt fine.

What I learned is that I am not dealing with this quarantine as well as I thought I was. I am struggling in more ways than one and it is high time I find a counselor to help me come to grips with life.

I would apologize for being so vulnerable and honest, but isn’t that what a blog is for?

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Why We (Still) March

The world is still upside down. COVID-19 is still running rampant. And protests are still taking place all over the world.

Some have asked, why do we still have to march/protest for equal rights when the generation before us already went through this? Most, if not all, of us have seen the black and white footage of Black and White people protesting in the street during the Montgomery Bus Boycott or outside of department stores where Black people were not allowed to enter. We remember the signs and the chants and the answering water hoses, police batons, and attack dogs.

None of it was pretty, but we remember.

So why, in 2020, are we still required to march?

The answer to this question came from one of the many documentaries I have binge-watched in the past few weeks called African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. I was on the episode that highlighted Brown V Board of Education and more specifically Ruby Bridges. For those that don’t know, she was a six-year-old girl that desegregated an elementary school in Louisiana in 1954. While she walked up the steps, flanked by federal marshals, a crowd of angry White parents yelled at her waving their fists and holding up signs of protest.

As soon as she entered the school, White mothers stormed inside to remove their children, so insistent were they that their child would not learn in the same building as a Negro girl (though they of course called her much worse).

I got two things from that clip:

  1. My little lady is six and I can’t honestly say I would put her in that same position. You have to really be able to see the bigger picture to volunteer your child to be subjected to such violent behavior.
  2. The documentary zoomed in on these parents’ faces as they yelled and screamed at this innocent little girl. The anger and hatred on their faces astounded me and made me think: if they hold so much hatred that they can spew such nasty things at a little girl, then most likely they are teaching their children to hate as well.

Their children are now in their 60s and 70s. Presumably, some of them carried their hatred as adults and then taught it to their own children and grandchildren. Their offspring could have joined the Klan, become a racist police officer, or are holding a sign right now that says All Lives Matter.

This type of racism and hatred is learned and sometimes it’s overt like the people screaming at Ruby and other times it’s subtle but no less hurtful. Generations of racists require generations of freedom fighters who will not be silenced.

 

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Untitled (Because there are no words)

How do I explain to my son, my Black American son, how vicious and terrible and ignorant some people are in the world? How do I explain to him that sometimes the people who take an oath to protect you are the same ones who are looking to kill you? What do I say to get him to understand that white privilege is a real thing and a lot of white people freely and purposely use it to their advantage?

Really. What am I supposed to say?

I always go back and forth on what to tell him and what to shield him from. I want to preserve his innocence and not have him be scared to walk outside. But finding that fine line between being scared and being aware has become increasingly difficult.

With cases of Black men, and women, being killed by the police rising and now the surge of White people calling said police on people of color because they’re bothered by their existence, I feel like I’m being forced to have this conversation earlier than I’d like to.

He’s already tall for his age and is the sweetest and most curious boy. But I know that when he walks out the door, no one will see that.

Tough love is not my forte usually but in this case, I’d rather my son be armed with knowledge than to go blindly into the world thinking that nothing bad will happen to him.

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Surviving the Pandemic

The title may be a little misleading as there is no surefire way to survive what’s going on in this world. So instead of acting like I know and understand exactly what to do in this situation, I will instead just list some things I’ve done to keep my mind occupied and to keep myself from totally losing it.

Working from Home

  • While my physical office is shut down, I am still responsible for working from home. Set up a place to do your work. I don’t have an office but I try to set up my laptop in places that have the most light and the least noise.
  • I change my working space throughout the day, normally starting in the living room and moving to the bedroom. This helps me to not get too stagnant.
  • I break up my workday. There is no more working 8-4pm when I’m home, especially with my Baby Hawks to look after. I will put in a few hours in the morning, more in the afternoon, and a couple hours in the evening if necessary.
  • To-do lists have always been my friend and I still rely on them to have a visual representation of what I need to do. When it comes to getting the house clean and in order, that to-do list is taped to my dining room wall so family members can also see what needs to be done.
  • The TV stays off in my house now, at least until after lunch for my littles. But I typically don’t have it on during my “work hours.” My phone is normally on silent as well.

Home Schooling

  • Use your older children to help teach their younger siblings. Every day, I have my 11-year-old take my 5-year-old and help her practice writing her letters, numbers, etc. This gives me at least a half-hour of solitude.
  • Give yourself a break. Not every day is going to be filled with scholastic work and well-structured lesson planning. There will be days when you just don’t have the energy. Embrace those days and vow to do better the next day.
  • Look for ways to tackle multiple lessons with one assignment. If you’re reading to a younger child, review colors and shapes; identify characters and setting; ask your child questions about what’s happening in the book, their predictions for the end of the book, etc.
  • Print out worksheets for free here. The worksheets are split by subject and grade and it’s a great substitute if your child’s teacher didn’t send home a packet of work.
  • In school, they have recess and leave the classroom for PE, music, art, etc. Keep that consistency at home. For music, teach them a new song or have them write their own. For art, look at places like Pinterest or Michaels for suggestions for art projects.
  • Virtual field trips, while not as fun, can still be a great way to escape from the traditional work. Many zoos, aquariums, and museums have provided live footage or virtual tours on their websites, for free. Check out this link for a list of virtual field trips.
  • Not all teaching comes from books. If you are able to stay home with your babies, this is a great opportunity to teach them life lessons that you might not normally have time to teach them like washing dishes, cooking small meals, ironing, etc.

Self-Care

  • Eating is important. I find myself not having the energy to make myself something to eat until dinnertime and I know that is not healthy. Whether you are hungry or not, when you feed your children, make a small plate for yourself as well.
  • Physical activity, in all forms, is key. There is sure to be a spike in obesity during this pandemic as some people will find it all too easy to sit around and eat. Self-quarantining, or mandatory isolation, is not an excuse to not move around. Make it a family affair and incorporate a family walk outside, or yoga session indoors. Sex is also great exercise so do it, and do it often!
  • Take care of your hair, skin, and nails. I know our salons are closed but try your best to wash and style your hair, keep your nails clean and trimmed, and maintain your skincare routine. If you don’t have one, adopt one.
  • Family and spouse time. Being sequestered in a house together doesn’t automatically equal quality. Set aside time after the housework, conference calls, and studying to play a game with your babies or snuggle for movie night with your significant other.
  • Read a book. I am an avid reader, especially of fiction. It’s a fantastic way to escape from reality for a while. If you have a tablet or computer, download apps like Overdrive or Cloud Library that directly link to your county’s library system. You can borrow books for 7, 14, or 21 days. Poll your friends for book and author recommendations.
  • Utilize virtual meetings. Most offices use virtual platforms like GoToMeeting and Zoom to communicate with staff. They can also be used to communicate with friends. Some of these platforms have free 14-day trials so sign up, grab a bottle and have a virtual happy hour, book club, game night, or whatever.

Hope these helped!! Drop your suggestions in the comments.

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God Got My Attention

Baby, when I tell you that God slaps you upside your head when he wants to get your attention!! He pulls no punches.

For a little background, this week has been tough for me physically. I’ve always been prone to headaches, as an adult, but I have only had two migraines in my life. One of them occurred this week and it threw me off my game. My head was pounding, the pain had traveled to my neck, I experienced nausea, and I had bright spots in front of my eyes. It was bad.

I normally don’t take medicine because I never want to be in a position where I pop pills several times a week due to the frequency of my headaches. I tend to just power through and wait for the headaches to pass. But with a migraine, I don’t take such chances.

One of my big brothers, whom I love very much and who is almost always right (which is annoying to no end), had tuned in to an Instagram Live video I was doing. I was updating people on my daughter’s health and I mentioned my own issues with headaches as well.

My big brother sent me some tough love and he unknowingly posted the first scripture I ever memorized. Loosely translated, Philippians 4:6 says not to worry about things and to present all your needs to God.

His words made me think of a time when my mother was having issues with her foot. I told her then that maybe God was trying to tell her to stop running around and sit down. If you know my mother, then you know you she is always on the move and doesn’t spend nearly enough time just being still.

God was shaking me.

In the middle of the Instagram Live video, God revealed to me that He caused this pain in my head to remind me of that scripture. I have and continue to worry about a lot of things in my life. Things that I push so far back in my head that I didn’t even realize I was still harboring these feelings of fear and anxiety.

What God wants me to do, and what I have to remember to do, is to lay my cares at His feet. He is way more equipped than I am to handle all the crap that’s swirling in my head. So why am I walking around stressed and anxious like I don’t serve a mighty God??

I have got to let Him do His job.

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Stop the Presses, Kobe died?

I had an entirely different blog post in mind that I will still write at a later date. As I write this, it has been 24 hours since the death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash. I found out from my cousin while I was sitting in my car working. I tapped into the wifi of a nearby building to verify the news and was stunned.

I sat in my car with tears rolling down my face and I couldn’t understand why. I even sent a text to my high school boyfriend, who was obsessed with Kobe for years, and he expressed his own sadness and disbelief. The last time I cried over a celebrity death was when I found out Prince died and I heard Purple Rain playing on the radio. Again, no idea why these deaths hit as hard as they did.

Let me be clear. I was not a fan of Kobe’s. I actually didn’t have an opinion of him one way or another. I didn’t and still don’t watch basketball and I have no affiliations with L.A. And yet I found myself crying off and on for the rest of the day. Why?

Athletics and philanthropy aside, I mourned the family aspect of things. No matter if you liked him or hated him, my tears were less for him and more for the wife, children, and loved ones he left behind. I cried for that seven-month-old baby who will never know her daddy. For his 17-year-old who won’t see her father at her volleyball games anymore. For the three-year-old who may not understand what’s going on but will still miss her daddy picking her up and smothering her with kisses. And for that wife who has to bury her child.

If you’ve ever seen Steel Magnolias, when Sally Field is forced to bury her daughter she says “I was supposed to go first. I was always supposed to go first.” No parent should ever feel the pain of losing a child. And for Vanessa Bryant to also lose her husband is an entirely different layer of grief.

If you’ve followed me long enough, you know that I love my babies but I also LOVE my husband. The plan is always to grow old together and when that dream is taken from you, you don’t know what to do. You feel cheated and unsure how you will live this new life without your best friend, your partner by your side.

And for the other people who were killed in the accident, they have to now face life without their father, mother, sister, teammate, etc. No one was prepared for this, and I think that’s another reason why it hit me as hard as it did.

I am sad and I feel for everyone who had that connection with Kobe, whether real or imagined, and like everyone else, I will seize every opportunity to hug my hubby and babies tight to me.

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Growing and Evolving

This is an actual conversation I had with my husband:

HIM: Hey babe, just letting you know I’m going out tomorrow night to see my cousin. He thinks I’m ducking him because I haven’t seen him in a while.

ME: Have you been ducking him?

HIM: Honestly, yeah, a little bit.

ME: Why? He hasn’t changed.

HIM: I know but sometimes I’m just not in the mood for the drama.

ME: I get it. Sounds like you’ve grown and he hasn’t.

HIM: Exactly!

Our conversation, in addition to this new decade, reminded me of the growth and change that takes place in our lives year to year, and circumstance to circumstance. Though we are growing and evolving and reaching new heights in our career, business, family, etc., there is no guarantee that the people around you will appreciate or support where you are now.

In my husband’s case, he can choose to not be around his cousin. I am the queen of cutting people off and letting them go when the relationship is not as fulfilling as it once was. But what happens when the person who refuses to accept your growth and change is your spouse?

A spouse should want to support their significant other in their journey; on the flip side, a spouse should be patient as their significant other makes the adjustment.

If my growth results in me speaking up more when before I was quiet, that will be invigorating for me but a brand new me that my husband may not be ready for. Accepting change is never easy and is often uncomfortable for you and for the people impacted by the “new you.”

My suggestion, talk to your spouse about the changes you plan to make in your life as they will be directly and/or indirectly impacted. Give them a grace period to adjust and adapt to your new way of doing things and don’t expect them to grow in the same way. Your growth/change is about you and no one else so don’t be that person trying to get everyone to become vegan or join a church or write the great American novel with you.

The positive outcome of your own development will often lead your spouse to want to make a similar change in their own life. (Now, if they refuse to accept the new version of you it might be time to question if the change is what’s right for you and your family, or if your spouse is still what’s best for you.)

 

 

 

 

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Obligatory New Year Blog

It’s 2020. A new year, a new decade, and another opportunity to make promises to ourselves that we may or may not keep throughout the year. I have never been a big fan of resolutions, though I don’t knock anyone who makes them.

I asked my husband, shortly after the ball dropped, what goals he saw for our family this year. He replied that he preferred to take things one day at a time and not look too far into the future. He and I are total opposites as I tend to look TOO far into the future. Time to find a happy medium.

Instead of creating a long list of things I want to see or accomplish, I think I’d rather just start DOING some things in the hopes that they will be habit forming. I could say every year that I want to lose weight or be more active but words are the easy part. Actually getting out of bed, putting on some leggings and walking out the door is the hard part, and most people don’t make it past the first month of a new year.

One of the things I am planning for my family, and for myself, is more travel. And I want to continue on my personal journey of taking better care of my skin. It’s been fun to experiment with serums and creams and develop a routine that makes me feel good and more responsible.

I didn’t take any real time to reflect on 2019 but I do know that last year was my first time feeling completely confident in my body and my abilities; even my walk is different! Only took me 38 years, but I am finally loving the skin I’m in and that is one thing I sincerely hope will stick around in 2020.

This time last year, I was in the hospital with my daughter. She was admitted on New Year’s Eve and stayed in the hospital for about eight days. At the time, they hadn’t figured out what kind of medicine would work best for her condition. One year later, I brought in the new year with my husband, in our home, while both of our babies were sleeping soundly in their own beds.

No matter what happens this year, I will eternally be grateful that I got to bring in 2020 with the people I love the most.

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