He Loves Me, I Love Me Not

I think at times we all have this ideological bias on what marriage is supposed to look like; what your partner is supposed to act like and how life as a unit is supposed to go. Man, throw that shit out the window because ain’t none of it right. In a few weeks, my husband and I will be married for nine years and it’s been the most challenging time of my life.

My parents were married briefly and the divorce was less than amicable in the beginning. My dad left my mom for a woman with five children. He eventually married another woman and spent almost twenty years with her. But I’m my immediate household, it was just me and my single mother. I idolized her strength and resilience in always seeming to make a way when there weren’t any. She taught me to be independent and fierce. Take no shit from no man!

As I look back though, I never really learned how to compromise or how to make concessions. I always wanted to have a partner who would ‘take care of me’ but I knew nothing about how to be submissive or less vocal with my partner. I am an Alpha Female. You’re not going to tell me what to do or how to do it. Period. Why depend on someone else when you can do it yourself. My mom did it. I came out alright, right? Wrong.

My spouse grew up in a two parent household, but it was toxic. Constant physical fights and harsh words. He learned that the husband is supposed to be a good provider, but that’s about it. He watched his father work and his mother blow money/handle the finances. So when it came time for us to become a unit, we naturally fell into the roles that we were accustomed to seeing. I’ve said this before, generational cycles are such a hard thing to break. You have to literally make a conscious effort to do something that fees so unnatural. And that is in all aspects of a relationship. We do A LOT of communicating. It ain’t all sunshine and rainbows and it definitely ain’t what I thought it would be. My husband said that he thought marriage was gonna be us hanging out and having sex everyday. HA!

In the down times, it’s hard to see the good. A friend of mine recently reminded me that no one is perfect, myself included. She said that I needed to regroup and start over. While that’s easier said than done , I will say this: YOU NEED TO ENSURE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IS IN ORDER before you commit yourself to someone else. Suffering from depression and anxiety really makes me feel like I’m an absolute failure. I have turned the smallest things into the biggest blow ups for no reason I can remember. About a year ago, I realized that the reason my marriage was the way it was, was because I didn’t listen. I didn’t listen to him, my body, or the doctors who told me why I was lashing out.

I’ll tell you what, no matter how many times I’ve told myself that I’m unlovable, he’s been right there. Not giving up. Pushing me to fight through the sadness and the uncertainty, for that, I’ll be forever grateful. Most days he’s giving it 80 and I’m coming in at a cool 20. Marriage ain’t perfect. It ain’t pretty always and there will be some obstacles. It’s all about how you handle them. Are you going to push forward? How hard will you go for your mate?

Loyalty and Betrayal

While I’ve been home with the kids during quarantine, it has really given me the opportunity to reconnect with them. I’ve missed so much time chasing ‘the bag’ that I have been missing getting to know them. I’m in awe of the little people they’re becoming and their ever-evolving quirks and personality traits that sometimes can mirror my own, both good and bad. But as I sit back and take it all in, the three beautifully amazing kids I’ve created, I often drift back to my own childhood and my own life lessons that I’d come to learn when I was their age.

My parents divorced when I was super young. Honestly, I really don’t even remember a time when both of my parents lived in the same household, or got along for that matter. Most of their secret communication were harsh words and mean or vindictive actions. But to my face, they always appeared to co-exist harmoniously, until I got older. Or maybe I stopped seeing that part of my life through such rose colored lenses. Hell, when I started high school, I stopped seeing the WORLD through rose colored lenses.

Much of my childhood is a blur, honestly. There are specific memories of things that stood out to me that made an impact, but in its entirety, there are a lot of holes. My therapist told me it’s because of the ‘trauma’ that I dealt with. Apparently, I’m living with PTSD and I’m bipolar. That last part is from webMD…but the PTSD part, no, that’s my real life. That’s absolutely real. For years, I’ve tried to self diagnose and self medicate to take away some of the pain that I’m still carrying around from back then.

Like most kids, I lived with my mother after the divorce, but father was not absent. He legit was at everything and no matter what, he made sure that the punishment at mom’s house, carried over to his. Boy, did I idealize that man as a child. As an adult, not so much. Most of the things my mother had yelled out in frustration, were true. But this piece ain’t about him and his shortcomings as a man. I haven’t explored those feelings in therapy yet. No one wants to hear the ramblings of a mad woman.

If you ask my mother where we went wrong…what would she say? I’m not even sure. For me, our relationship jumped off the deep end around end of junior/beginning of senior year. An old friend had fallen on hard times and needed a place to stay. Even after the ex-friend and I had fallen off, for whatever reason, her and my mom became best friends. And my mother invited her to come live with us while I was at school one day. Imagine the person you couldn’t stand the most at the time sitting down at your dinner table EVERY NIGHT. In the moment, I couldn’t understand why my mother would do this to me. Such selfish, REAL feelings. For years, this girl stayed in our home and played my mother against me. Manipulating her. My mother even told me that she wishes she was her daughter and that she liked to ‘spend time’ with her. What teenage girl who is boy crazy wants to spend time with their mother? Well not me. That, was the absolute truth.

I had always felt that level of betrayal that I felt in that moment has always shaped our relationship. I left home very shortly after starting college at her request. But my ex friend, she stayed, for a long time after I left. My mother and I didn’t speak for years afterwards.

I mean honestly, what else was there to discuss? She had made her choice and I made mine. In my world, from my perspective, there wasn’t anything else and I was perfectly fine with not speaking to her. To this day, I’m fine without speaking to her. Because she is my mother I will move heaven and Earth for her, but that relationship is badly bruised. Of course we speak. I’m in the south because of her. My obligation as an only child to ensure the welfare of thy mother. Her health is fading and where else am I supposed to be?

My lack in trusting people comes from that part of my life. She always tells me that I’m so quick to cut people off after the smallest infraction. While that infraction may be small or minute to some, it’s enormous to me. Loyalty is something that means everything to me. What I’ve learned throughout my journey is that my feelings are valid and I have every right to feel the way that I feel. No one can take that from me. But I’m trying my best not to dwell on my past. I don’t want to live in that space anymore. So I’m working through it, and it’s been really, really hard. Betrayal is a hard one. It’s tricky too, especially when it comes to a parent.

I realize that at some point she and I will need to hash this one out. Although we have both spoken on how the other one feels about the situation, neither of us had a clear mind during the conversation. Both sides wanted to have the last word and were listening to respond but not to comprehend. Reread that part again if you missed it. ‘…listening to respond but not to comprehend.’ A lot of great arguments started right there. Put a pin in that. We will come back to that.

Now listen, I can’t say that when we talk about it, it’s going to get better. I’m working on myself and this is a VERY SENSITIVE subject for me. The growth comes when you see her STILL communicating with your mother and you haven’t completely lost your shit. I’m calling that a WIN! But forgiveness isn’t for either of them, it’s truly for me.

So Anxious, But Not Like Ginuwine

Anxiety overload! I’ve worked in corporate America for 15 years+ in various retail banking roles. Pretty much, when you walk in your local branch and see someone who works there, that has been me at some point or another. I’ve been a teller all the way up to a Branch Manager, my current position. This position has by far, been the most challenging of my career.

I am NOT a job hopper. I remember hearing from my father that companies want loyalty and when you find a good paying job, you keep it, no matter what. So that’s me. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last almost ten years I’ve been with the company. I’ve seen mergers and acquisitions, sales goals and the elimination of sales goals. Scandals and lawsuits that I could write a book about, seriously. The scandals honey…..would make your grandmother blush. Needless to say, I take extreme pride in my work and my work ethic. I’m going to give it my all….until I don’t.

A couple years back I moved South and had the amazing opportunity to be able to transfer my job. I actually got a promotion to go along with it. It seemed like I was all set. So what changed? The environment I came into became toxic. It is absolutely true what they say. When you transfer to a different region or market, although within the same company, the interpretation of policies and accountability definitely shift. I am still the same person, doing the same things, attempting to get the same results, but why isn’t this working out for me?

Talk about burnt out! I realized some months back that the management style that my manager had wasn’t working well for me. I am NOT a person you can talk at and then expect me to do what you said. You gotta SHOW me, like hands on SHOW ME. Once I’ve got it, I got it. My manager just doesn’t seem to understand me and we clash, often. I ask questions and speak up in meetings. I’ve got to understand what’s going on. How else can O effectively communicate it to my team? How else can I effectively coach it if I don’t get it. Didn’t matter. This style is something that was puzzling to me. I realized that I began looking forward to vacation days a lot more and being away from ‘that place.’

Quarantine has allowed me a lot of time to self assess what’s truly important. Although I absolutely LOVE the company I work for and the people I’ve met, the unfortunate ‘face of the market’, my manager, doesn’t give me the warm feeling that I am appreciated. And it sucks, because I’ve worked my ass off and absolutely deserved this opportunity. It’s unfortunate that these last few years have truly changed my opinion and have even made me look elsewhere.

My time at home is winding down and I’m dreading going back. I am typically tied to my work and career advancement has always been something important to me, but now, I’m seeing things differently. My peace of mind and sanity are way more important than killing myself for a job. I know that if I leave they will fill my position before I’m even in the ground. And that’s just the reality of it. They’re not going to check in on my family nor will they say ‘Here Here! Let’s retire this position in honor of Keli.’ I’m not that stupid (and you better not be either). My anxiety has me worrying about all of the drama and crap that I’ve missed since being home.

I’m definitely not looking forward to seeing my manager whenever they decide to pop in because I know not-so-secretly they’re mad I’m home in the first place. But the peace that I’ve found and the coping techniques that I’ve acquired since being home are the tools that I’m going to take with me when I return. Thank goodness I can write from my phone! Without the cathartic goodness that is writing, I’d be lost. Everyday is about putting one foot in front of the other and not giving up. Because I know my anxiety is on high alert, I’m doing everything in my power to stay above it.

I know what’s at stake: Me. And I’m totally worth it, just saying.

Like Nike, Just Do It, When You’re Ready

You ever wonder why you can’t seem to get motivated about something? You’ve planned out the idea, mapped out exactly what you need and by the time it’s actually ready to start, you’ve lost all desire? No? Well, that’s the life of someone living with anxiety. For the longest time I’ve followed so many fitness pages. Researched Keto until I my eyes were strained. I talked about it all the time and my best girlfriend had such success, but when it came time to get down, my depression spoke to me and told me that I couldn’t. So, I didn’t.

I heard someone say that it takes 21 days of consistently doing something before it truly becomes a habit. I think I’m on day ten…maybe 12. But I truly had to get my depression in check. Like check and fucking mate. For as far back as I can remember, my weight has been a direct reflection of whether or not I felt beautiful and if I could garner male attention. I’ve had boobs since third grade so I’ve ALWAYS *insert the longest sigh* gotten male attention. Albeit for the wrong reasons but hey, I was a teenager when this started. Talk about hormones. Sheesh. More times than I’d rather remember I liked the ‘cute guy’ or the ‘most popular kid in school’ and he only wanted to cop a feel but I was all in.

Everyday I make a conscious effort to get up and try. It’s not going to be easy and no I don’t want to do it. At all. Not yet. I’ve heard that at some point you begin to crave working out. Less than two weeks in and I know that I’m definitely not there, but it’s getting easier. I had to let go of what I perceived as being beautiful. I had to let go of the trauma that I experienced from constant rejection and being told that I was ‘cute for a big girl.’ At 34, I didn’t realize that I was still carrying that around in such a way that was still extremely hurtful. I have so many Facebook ‘friends’ that are coaches and trainers and whatever that have asked me did I need help. Both men and women.

But all I can remember is these are the same people who made fun of my weight in high school. Yeah no. You can kiss this fat ass.

One foot in front of the other. That’s it. That’s all I can do. Anything more ain’t it. It isn’t going to happen. I know that I will mess up and won’t do the exercises perfect, but I’m going to try, really hard. Effort. That’s it.

Pep In My Step

Yesterday, a childhood friend made a comment regarding my #selfcare journey. For my own accountability, I post pictures daily after my walks and healthier foods that I’ve found that don’t taste like ass or tree bark. Oc said to me that I need to keep going because I never know who I could be inspiring. Definitely not doing this for inspiration for anyone else. I’ve been overweight for as far back as I can remember so this is truly about me. But God showed me that nothing is ever truly mine and I will use you in whatever capacity I want soooooo…….

I am a person that wants to work out ALONE. Me, my music and my watch. I purposely get up super early, and by early I mean 730, to ensure that I’m out there alone when I walk. I turn on ‘twerk radio’ (judge your mom) and make it happen. Sporadically I see people and I’ll do the courteous wave or the always appropriate head nod but I always keep it pushing. This morning was no different for me until I saw these two ladies already walking. They weren’t going to stop my show so I put my headphones on, set my watch to record my workout, and off I went. The first pass was a mutual head nod, but by the second time I passed them, they wanted to chat. Seriously ladies….you want to talk, NOW???? They asked me how many laps I do, I answered, they said thanks and kept going. They were geared up with their waist trainers and super cute workout gear.

As I finished my second lap heading into my third (FEEL THE BURN) they stopped me again. Both introduced themselves and stated that everyday for a week they’ve seen me out there walking. Every. Day. One told me that she was proud of me for keeping up the consistency while the other praised the arm band I was wearing that held my phone (that stupid arm band is KILLING MY FAT ARMS and was a Five Below purchase). They proceeded to tell me that they started walking today because they had seen me out there. ME?!!!!! ME?????!!!!!!! We said our goodbyes and I continued to finish my workout, with a little added pep in my step if I don’t say.

My friend was right. She usually is though. I had no idea that someone, or people, were watching what I’m doing and gain inspiration from it. It’s actually a pretty humbling and motivating experience. My only goal is so that I don’t look like ‘Mrs. Puff’ from Spongebob when I stand sideways anymore. Oh, and the icing on the cake this morning, as you know I’m home on quarantine due to having a high risk child at home. I haven’t been to work in about a month. And this morning as I’m in mid stride, I look up and see my boss at the red light watching me walk! No, I did not stop nor turn my music down to see if he wanted to have a conversation. See you in October buddy, maybe!

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Generational cycles are really a thing. No matter your race or ethnic background, every person who has had some aspects of their childhood that they’d rather forget, has at least said, “When I have kids I’m going to do it this way!” So seriously, how’s that working out for you? I was raised by my mother, but I wouldn’t go as far as to call her a ‘single mother.’ Let her tell it, she did it all by herself, but my dad was VERY involved, like he never missed a thing, involved. So although my parents weren’t together, I never felt slighted or that I was missing out. He was there.

My mother suffered a lot when I was a kid. Our relationship has taken a toll because of it. She doesn’t think so, but I swear she lives in a fantasy land. As an adult, I can look back and see the role that I played in some of the things that went down. I snuck out, a lot. My mother was struggling with her mental health really bad when I was in high school so she used to take sleeping medication. As soon as she was out, so was I. I wanted to spend as much time with my friends and whatever boy I was trying to hump at that time. But this ain’t about my promiscuity. I’ll tackle that later *wink*. For the majority of my childhood, my mother used to never leave her bed. She spent morning, noon and night there. As a kid, you don’t really understand why your parent doesn’t want to interact with you. I remember she’d tell me to go play by myself and she’d just sleep. FOREVER.

As I got older and started struggling with my own mental health, I realized that I had begun to parent the same way, from the bed. I never wanted to go anywhere or do anything. It just wasn’t natural for me. My mother wasn’t the arts and crafts type. We didn’t have company and playdates always consisted of me going to someone else’s house. The curtains were always closed and the answer was always ‘NO’ if I wanted to have people over. With my kids, I realized that’s exactly how I was. I was envious of my friends that had parents that liked to do stuff or always had people over. My friend’s parents were always smiling and just seemed so nice. I always wondered why that wasn’t my mom. Don’t get me wrong, she had moments. I guess moments of happiness when she would take me to a restaurant or buy me stuff, but the quality time, it lacked.

When I started this #selfcare journey at the beginning of quarantine, I decided to try and tackle this issue head on. I’m consciously making a decision to get out of bed and interact with my kids. Of course, I think they know that I love them and would die for them, but they need to SEE it. They need to see me be the very best ‘ME’ that I can be. This is hard. Like really hard. I’m hoping that by being more active and spending more time with them that I’m able to break this cycle, curse, what ever you want to label it. Motherhood is the greatest gift that I’ve ever been blessed with and they deserve the world. I’m determined to give it to them.

Mental health is no joke, man. Seriously. I struggle every single day with anxiety and how to just feel BETTER. My weight has always been something that has played on my mental health. I was always the ‘big girl with the cute face and freckles.’ Please, don’t say that to anyone else ever. It doesn’t sound as good as you meant and it only aggravates me even more. There are very few people who know that I suffer from debilitating anxiety. I was first diagnosed in high school when I suddenly started skipping school, daily, and flunked ninth grade math. I was a pretty great student and took pride in my schoolwork. I had to be the best, but when high school and all of those teenage pressures….it was over after that. As an adult, I’m more aware of my moods and how I can negatively project onto others. But I’ve also developed this IDGAF attitude towards any and everyone that doesn’t bring me peace. People that were in my wedding I don’t even speak to. The drama of everyone else had to be the first thing to go.

I’d Rather Be Fat…Okay, Not Really

I took a little break from writing to focus on another project I’m starting while quarantining: my weight. Ugh. That ‘oh so touchy’ subject that no one wants to talk about but EVERYONE has an opinion about. From as far back as I can remember, I’ve been overweight. Genetics, poor eating habits, environment and my depression have really played a role in me being my absolute heaviest. I weigh almost 350lbs. Like what in the entire fuck is going on with me right now. I saw myself sideways in a mirror recently and was like, “Oh My God! I look terrible.” I’m 34 years old and have a shit ton of health problems and back pains that rival those of labor pains. If you’ve ever given birth, you know exactly how painful this is.

I’ve started and stopped diets more times than I can count. But honestly, my heart has never been in it. For my own weird reasoning, I always talked myself out of it. And the thought of sweating is absolutely disgusting. But during this quarantine, I’ve come to realize that life is way too short and I want to make the most of whatever is left for me. I’ve completely shifted my focus on just making better choices. And don’t even show me a scale. I’ve decided that I want to do this my way. I’m looking for non scale victories. I hit my first one the other day. I was able to touch my toes. For me, I’ve been so stiff for years and not as limber and agile as I once was as my weight began to creep up. But being able to touch my toes after days of stretching and trying. Man, that was the best feeling.

So now, the next goal is to be able to wear those cute ass wait beads that I be seeing all over social media. My confidence and body has got to match. For the longest time my confidence and how I looked at myself was based on other people’s opinions about how I looked and my depression. Some days were better than others…let’s just say that people are not always kind. You’d be surprised, or maybe you wouldn’t, at the amount of shit people talk about you when you’re overweight. Everyone has something to say about how you got to be so large and ‘you should just stop eating and work out more.’ Yes Suzie, thanks for that. I definitely couldn’t have figured that out without your insight. *insert eye roll*

Generally, most people mean well. Since I’ve started walking, I’ve found the biggest support from perfect strangers. As I’m out there doing my laps, strangers have been cheering me on and offering their words of encouragement. That part has been super refreshing and unexpected. My son has also started encouraging me and telling me how proud he is of me. That’s a high that I don’t think I’ll ever come down from. He is a football player and is also overweight. When I thanked him for encouraging me his response blew me away. He said, “Mom, when I started football two years ago you and daddy were always telling do it and to keep going. So now it’s my turn. You can do it mom. Keep going.” This kid sure knows how to apply pressure, but in a good way.

This is me starting small. I’m not in a rush and want to do this at my own pace and my own way. I rather enjoy working out alone. Is that weird? Maybe because I’m not absolutely loving working out yet. So I really don’t want anyone to talk to me. Let me do my thing so I can get this sweat off of me. No one ever told me that the after workout shower would be love. It’s better than sex. Okay, that’s a lie, but you get the picture. It actually feels good. My entire life my mother suffered from some undiagnosed depression that caused her to ‘parent from bed.’ That meant that she was constantly in bed, in her room, isolated from me and that often meant that I was left to fend for myself. The realization that my own depression had gotten that bad was the beginning of the turning point for me. I didn’t ever want my kids to feel slighted and that they didn’t have the very best version of me.

I’m also exploring intermittent fasting. I’ve read a bunch on it and decided that it was something that I could feasibly do in my everyday life. I’m starting with 16:8. That’s where I fast for 16 hours and eat 2 smaller meals and a snack in my 8 hour eating window. I’m not like starving, because most of those 16 hours I’m asleep. Womp Womp. Hey, whatever works. During that 8 hour time I am consciously making an effort to eat a better quality of foods. Definitely a lot more color on my plate and no soda. Pepsi, I will miss you. But I’ve replaced you with water. Lots and Lots and Lots and Lots and Lots of water. Jugs and bottle and cups galore. I bought some cucumbers and lemon to try and spice it up a bit.

I feel like mental health and fitness go hand in hand. I mean fitness of the mind and fitness of the body as essential to living a well rounded life, in my opinion. Although I haven’t quite gotten back on my mental health regiment, I do acknowledge that in order for this to be a lasting lifestyle change, my mind has got to be as clear and demon free as possible. So I guess I need to call my therapist. The sayings are absolutely true though, you’ve got to WANT to do this. When the time is right, you’ll know. You’ll figure it out. This shit ain’t easy. I’ve seen my friends lose mad weight and it just looked so effortless for them. It’s just so damn hard. But I’m not giving up. I’m not giving up on me. And hey, that’s the best start to have.

Acts of Love

Protect your children at all costs, right? How many people are willing to truly make that sacrifice for their children? Mothers? Everyday. Fathers? Depends on who you ask. I’ll just leave that thought there. There is nothing that I wouldn’t do for my kids. Three years ago, my husband and I made were faced with some challenges when it came to our kids that needed to be addressed head on. Our oldest was just about to turn ten and we were not financially, emotionally, spiritually and whatever else you can think of, in a good place. The older he became the more we realized that where we were living was not the best place for him. As he was growing up, the world was changing and becoming more and more less kind to little Black boys like him.

Where I’m from, gunshots and noise were just, constant. When my husband and I married we decided to stay close to his family and the area he was familiar. I grew up an only child and in the suburbs. There was always something going on around his way. As time passed and we began to grow our little family, it became less safe for the kids to be outside. On any given afternoon in the summer, shots were ringing out all day long. Truly, we have been blessed to be able to dodge bullets directly outside our front doors. Kids riding bikes up and down the street are now hiding behind and underneath parked cars. Parents are screaming for the children through open doors and windows. Bullets have no name. Often times, the person who has been struck wasn’t even the intended target. So with all this going on, how was I supposed to allow my son to remain a child and keep him safe? Move, right? Well that’s not always an easy task.

It took a long time to get to a place where we were comfortable with moving. It wasn’t because we enjoyed the chaos. I swear, if one more person sent me a link to another shooting near my house or complained about the violence in the city I was going to scream. That part was super annoying. I always wanted to have people over and play that good host, but what does that conversation sound like? “Hey, I know that you saw on the news that someone died over here earlier in the week, BUT, want to come over?” Yeah, that’s it. My mother’s health began to decline and we took that opportunity to get out. And like a ‘thief in the night,’ we were gone.

What a tough transition this has been though. Imagine leaving everything and everyone behind to go to a place that you know NO ONE. Oh, and did I mention that where we were going didn’t have Wifi…or the capability of Wifi? Both of the older kids looked at us like we were crazy when we told them we moving with my grandmother, to the land where technology goes to die. Even with my husband not having a job and a 2 hour commute each way, everyday, it was absolutely worth it. So to give you a little perspective, where my grandmother lives, the older kids, who went to two different schools, rode the same bus. It was surreal, my 1st grader and my fourth grader went to different schools but rode the same bus. They had to be up and out the door by 610 to await for the ONE bus to pick them up. The bus driver drove my uncle to high school. He’s 47-ish. Uh huh. Talk about that small town feel.

The hardest part for me was watching my kids cry because of the people they missed. Because of how quickly things escalated, we had to move them in the middle of the school year (definitely don’t recommend that nor will I do that again for sanity’s sake) and they had a very short time to say goodbye to friends and family. Aside from the nuances that came with moving, it was relatively seamless. I was scared out of my mind. How would I know that I was making the right decision? Especially after the older kids were bullied so bad when we first arrived. These were such impressionable years and I never wanted the kids to resent us for uprooting them, but there was a bigger goal in mind, their safety. Kids should be able to ride bikes and scooters outside carefree. Imagine the weight of the world a kid has to bear on their shoulders when they become accustomed to sound of gunshots and the sight of drug paraphernalia littering the sidewalk they’re playing on. That shit is heartbreaking, seriously. I’ve witnessed children running for their life because bullets were flying. The age of recruitment of drug dealers in appalling. If you don’t think there’s a problem with guns and the easy accessibility, don’t even come talk to me because clearly you have been living under a rock for all your days. Just read the paper, the victims of gun violence and drug addiction are getting younger and younger. Like everything else, there are pros and cons to moving South. The kids are thriving, all of them. I’ve got my hands on all of them. There are so many activities that they have the opportunity to get into for little to no cost. My son started his football journey here. He found his confidence on the field amongst great men who want nothing more than to see him succeed in life, and not just because he can ‘play real good.’ But there are other people here that really want to sow into him the importance of believing in himself and can be whatever, not just an athlete. My oldest daughter, man, that girl has really blossomed. She is gifted. No seriously, like tested and is a ‘genius.’ I know right! Never saw that coming because HONEYYYYYYY….let’s just say that God is always in control and knows what he’s doing. She was tested and accepted into the gifted program at school and so many more doors and opportunities opened for her. The array of friends she has and the different experiences that she now has access is something I’ll forever be grateful. Our youngest has some pre-existing medical conditions and has access to some of the best doctors and has been making the most extraordinary progress. Truly. I’m not going to be that naïve person who thinks that none of this could have happened back home because it could have, eventually. But at what cost? Would all of my kids have the opportunity to be prosperous?

Just DO IT! Take that leap of faith. Walk in your truth and look fear right in the eyes and let it know that you’re one bad ass person and you will not be crippled by your own fears. There truly is no time like the present. Take back your life. That’s what I’m doing. I’m just trying to make decisions and live my life as if you only get one and there aren’t any do-overs. Simply not to try and impress anyone, but to let my kids know that their mother would move heaven and Earth for their successes, nurture their failures and the availability and space to allow them to be their authentic selves without fear of repercussion.

Black Lives Matter

It’s so hard to concentrate as of late. It’s like every time I want to sit down and spend time writing, I’m pulled in a million directions. I wear way too many damn hats. And it’s my fault really. Whatever. We are here now. While I was working I’d fallen into this routine of turning on the news each morning and watching the God awful thing someone has done to a POC (person of color). It’s truly becoming toxic and draining. Since being home on this ‘hiatus,’ I haven’t felt compelled to turn the news on at all. If it’s not breaking news on CNN, I couldn’t tell you about it.

There is so much pain in the news right now if you’re Black. George Floyd. It’s like everyone has seen this video. The easy access to information and social media made its availability as simple as a swipe. This man was murdered, in cold blood, for the world to see and some people still don’t understand why we (POC) are upset. Or that we should only be a degree of mad. As if there’s an appropriate level of madness for murder with the world watching. Rayshard Brooks. Breonna Taylor. Elijah McClain. At what point is it enough that we are seen of some value or some worth? To be hunted down like a dog in the street and detained and murdered by some over zealous neighborhood watch is disgusting.

The national conversation about race in America has sparked some very interesting views from people that I didn’t expect. When news first broke about George Floyd, a good friend’s sister was actually the first to reach out. She is white and just wanted to know that she had no words but that she wanted me to know that this was no indication of how she felt and that my family was loved. After her, it was like the flood gates opened and every white person in my life was calling or texting their support for Black Lives Matter. Honestly, I was completely surprised. Speechless, that might be the better word. No, I didn’t think that I had surrounded myself with racist people, but it’s refreshing just to see how far someone will ride for the cause of something that they could potentially ignore and stay silent. I’m not gonna lie though, I was nervous. My freedom, my family, my kids, I’m willing to end lifelong relationships and friends over this. But just when I thought I was living in my own bubble of supporters, good ole social media shall humble thou and show people’s true colors.

An old boss of mine is a friend on social media. I’ve been to their home. They’ve celebrated my children together and been invited to countless family functions. When the rioting started they started sending out messages against the rioting and retaliation against police. A repost of a meme or some colorful commentary would be their words of choice. It continued to escalate to the point where they were outright supporting ‘All Lives Matter’ and that ‘if Black people would do as they’re told there wouldn’t be any problems.’ My jawed dropped. I had to pick myself up off the floor. I reached out to a former co-worker to get their thoughts. We are both Black and worked for them. Their response, ‘Not surprised.’ I started to think back on all the events, gatherings and conversations that we have shared and felt like such an idiot for even allowing this person in my space. It made me feel dirty and disgusted.

I often think about the young black man that my husband and I are raising. He’s almost a teenager and when he walks out this house, I hold my breath. I am that over-zealous mom that requires a check in. There are code words for situations that require parental assistance. We want to be clear with him on how to conduct himself when he leaves this house. Don’t ever touch something that doesn’t belong to you. Regardless of where you are but especially when you’re in a store. When purchasing something, get a receipt and a bag, even if it’s a pack of gum. Carry your wallet with ID and when confronted by a law enforcement officer, always be respectful. If you find yourself in an unfamiliar situation with law enforcement, stop talking, ask for a lawyer and us. Listen, we all saw ‘When They See Us” on Netflix. That completely changed how I had conversations with him. How I wanted him to truly understand the world that’s out there and how to carry yourself in different situations. The conversation is never ending though. We will continue to have these conversations as long as there is a target on his back.

What I wouldn’t give to go back to the days of his ignorance to the ugly side of the world. I’d love to continue to allow him to live in the bubble we took pride in building, but he will know the truth, in all of it’s glory. The good, the bad, and the racist.

The Beginning…I guess.

You know. You sit at a keyboard waiting for the words to just jump out to you. But as I sit here listening to 90’s R&B, I’m just wondering, ‘What exactly do I want to talk about?” Everything. Like all of it. Well, most of it. Some things are better left off the internet. But as raw and uncut as it could possibly be. My love for writing came as an adolescent. I’ve always just had a way with words. I had always said that I wanted to be a writer one day. Well, I actually wanted to be a marine biologist….oh, and an English Teacher. 12th grade. I wanted that kid to know that I hold the future of your graduation in my hands, so you better do the work! Yeah….too much too soon? Let’s move on.

This journey begins because I had been told that I needed to find a hobby or a passion of some sorts. I felt like I had lost my identity once I got married in 2011. It was always putting the kids or his needs before mine. It has been a LONG time since I’ve thought about what really makes me happy. When I think about it, I honestly don’t really know what or how to feel. For me, this was just what I considered to be my reality. So that left me trying to figure out what I’m passionate about. Writing. Expression. The power of the tongue in physical form. So here I am, rambling. Trying to figure this out as I go. Have you ever been overwhelmed by thoughts that you can’t decide which idea to focus on first? That’s me right now.