Do For Others

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Lately I’ve been complaining about family, and I don’t want my blog to be full of negative posts. I am a happy person and have a lot of happy moments. I promise! I recognized that I have to be more mindful to post about the happier moments instead of always posting about things that make me angry.

So many of my close friends have lost loved ones or are sick, or caring for sick loved ones. Death seems to making it’s rounds more often than not lately, and it’s taking a toll on so many.

Often times we don’t know what to say or do when someone is sick or have lost a loved one in death. I’m no different. Sometimes giving a strong hug of love and support is all that’s needed. Praying for others always helps, and is something we can all do – and it costs nothing. Bringing a dish to the caregivers, the sick one, or the family who lost a family member in death is often appreciated. Giving caregivers a break so they can rest, have a day or night to themselves is often overlooked.

I wish I could do more for others, and it always bothers me that I can’t do all that I’d like to do for those in need. This is why I keep blank note cards, so I can write personal notes to ones so they know I’m thinking of them. I try to keep cookie ingredients in stock so I can bake a quick basket for someone. Lastly, if I can’t get around to visiting people, I try to remember to call.

I don’t always get to do the things I mentioned above, but I try. People appreciate being thought of and shown kindness, especially when it’s not expected. So many are suffering, grieving, and simply need a kind gesture, hug and endless prayers. Let’s love on each other more, be kind to one another and make an effort to reach out to our friends and loved ones more. We need each other now more than ever.

Being In My 40’s

40‘S

Some people have melt downs about aging. They view each milestone as something negative. I’ve never understood it. My mother is the best example of someone who grows old gracefully. She embraces each and every gray hair she receives and has never dyed her hair. She believes in the scripture in the bible at Proverbs 16:31 “Gray hair is a crown of beauty When it is found in the way of righteousness.”  She is very meticulous about caring for her skin. She is now 66 years old and looks like she’s in her late 40’s or early 50’s. She has aged very well. Because of her I have embraced aging. I never had anxiety attacks about turning 25, 30, 35, or 40. Today I am 41 years old and I love it. I’m happy to still be alive.

Being in my 40’s I’ve found that I have more confidence in myself. I’ve accepted my body, my looks and all of my flaws. They don’t define me, they don’t stop life from going on. I no longer waste time worrying about the little things. I’m not saying all of this to toot my own horn like I’m someone special because that’s not my intent. I just wanted to share that I enjoy being in my 40’s. My body is once again changing. I’ve got some gray hairs popping up in my hair. I’m starting to see crows feet around my eyes. I definitely need to exercise more and lose some pounds, but I’m working on that.

I love being in a place in my life where I know who I am. I don’t waste time self doubting and second guessing myself the way I did in my 20’s and 30’s. It’s funny because with this confidence I feel sexier now than I did in my 20’s or 30’s. I was so self conscience and shy back then. I don’t want to say that I have a don’t care attitude, but honestly that’s what it is. I don’t sweat the small stuff. People’s opinions don’t matter or bother me anymore. I don’t seek anyone’s approval or acceptance of me other than God, my husband and my kids. My life today, right now, is exactly where it should be and where I want it to be. I’m happy.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t any room for improvement because there is plenty room for improvement. I still have a few fears that I need to get over if I’m ever going to reach my goals. Where I am today, however, is a much better place than where I was 10 – 15 years ago, and I have my 40’s to thank for that.

Conflicting Feelings

Broken Heart

 

At times I have conflicting feelings, especially when it comes to my family. Coming from a family filled with pain and drama, I reached my “enough is enough” point pretty early in life. I reached this point in my early teens, and then put my foot down completely in my early 20’s. It goes without saying that we all make mistakes, we’re all imperfect. But when you continue to go through life drowning in the same cycle of dysfunction, I cannot and will not be apart of that.

I love my family from a distance, and it’s a necessity that I do so in order to stop that cycle of dysfunction from continuing in my life. This meant distancing myself from my family in many ways and not looking back. Without divulging my families dirty laundry, I’ve found that it’s difficult to move forward with a clean slate if someone refuses to admit their wrongs and make changes in their behavior. Apologies come a dime a dozen. You have to show by your actions that you’re sorry or remorseful. I refuse to let anyone use me as a doormat by their poor treatment of me. Because of the stance I took I quickly became the black sheep of the family, a title I wear with pride to be honest.

The value I place on my own personal peace of mind is extremely high. Having peace within my own family with my husband and our four kids is also extremely important to me. Besides God, nothing else comes before my children and husband. What I regret is not having a great relationship with my family. I hate that we’re so dysfunctional still after all of these years. I hate that I’m not close to either of my parents in any shape or form. I hate that I’m not close to all of my siblings. I hate that because certain people refuse to be accountable for causing so much pain to our family, many are not able to move on with their lives in a healthy way.

This is where my conflicting feelings come into play. While I have these regrets, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I’ve made the right decision for ME. It doesn’t mean that I don’t still yearn for a close knit family, or for a close relationship with my parents. Those things will never happen, and I’ve accepted that fact many years ago. This is why I put all of my focus and energy into my own family, making sure that my kids have that close knit family with two parents that love them unconditionally and show it by words and actions. They have two parents that they can talk to about anything, that they can laugh and joke with and have fun with. My husband and I have gone above and beyond to provide a loving environment for our children and to be the best parents we can be to our children. This also includes me being the best wife I can be to my husband, and vice versa.

Despite it all I can’t help but to feel cheated. I feel cheated because I didn’t come from what I consider to be a normal, loving family. I know every family has their issues and suffer from some type of dysfunction, but I wouldn’t wish my families dysfunction on my worst enemy. It may sound harsh, but it’s true. It’s not something I spend a lot of time thinking about or dwelling on, but every so often certain things will remind me of what I missed out on. A commercial on television with a father and daughter or a mother and daughter sharing quality time together, or being out in public and seeing families together and happy. That’s when I feel that twinge of longing and regret. Then I look at my own family. I listen to my kids laughing and playing and how happy they are without a care in the world, and I’m reminded of how blessed I truly am. Why am I blessed? Because I broke that cycle of dysfunction. Then those conflicting feelings fade to black.

Tired of Being Tired

I had a conversation yesterday with my second oldest sister about doing more things for ourselves as wives and mothers. For me, it was making the decision to go natural (no longer putting chemical relaxers in my hair) almost a year ago. For her, it’s cutting her hair short after wearing it semi long for many years. We both wore our hair in a certain way for our husbands. My sister never cut her hair much, if at all, in 18 years of marriage to her husband because he liked long hair. I let my hair grow at my husband’s request. I HATE long hair. I wore my hair short for many, many years. I adore short hair. When I got tired of the long hair I would cut it off very short whether he wanted me to or not. For the past 3 years I expressed my desire to go natural, and my husband was very against it. Finally, last year I made the decision to do it and didn’t care what he thought or how he felt about it. It’s my hair, it’s what I wanted to do to make ME feel good about myself – so I did it.

I say all of this because for years I’ve done things to make other people happy. Today at the age of 40 I ask myself “why?” Why did I constantly put myself on the back burner for so many years? I will always make sacrifices for my children. I’ll do anything for them and that’s not something I resent or regret and never will. However, my kids are older now and much more self sufficient. Their needs no longer warrant my constant attention like it did when they were much younger.  To constantly ignore my wants and needs when there’s no reason to do so, or because of someone else’s preferences (my husband) is no longer an option.

My conversation with my sister was a good reminder for me to stay on this path.  I’m at a point in my life where I get tired easily, and by tired I mean that my patience isn’t what it used to be. My tolerance levels aren’t what they used to be. I’m more confident and sure of myself now than I have ever been in my life. Being told I can’t do things that make me happy and feel better about myself aren’t an option anymore. I’ve been a wife for 20 wonderful years (and counting) to a great man who is my best friend, and a mother for 18 glorious years (and counting) to our four beautiful children. It’s time for some ME time. It’s time for me to stop being tired and to start living. Being selfish for me – that’s the name of the game. It’s not that I don’t care about other people’s wants and needs anymore, but rather it means that I will be putting my wants and needs to the forefront more. As women, wives, and mothers we often ignore ourselves. We nurture and care for everyone to the point that we become tired, exhausted, and depleted. It’s not a good feeling and it’s not healthy – physically or mentally.

In the end I’m a simple person. Small things make me happy, and from this day forward I will indulge in the small things that make me happy, not tired. Read a good book, watch an old black and white movie, work on more crochet projects, write letters to those I love, buy myself a killer pair of shoes, try a new dessert recipe. I deserve it. I’ve earned it. More importantly, I’m tired of being tired.

If you liked what you read please “like” or comment. I always respond. Thanks! 

The Struggle

The struggle can mean different things for different people. A person’s struggle, past or present, can shape them into the person they are today. You never know a person’s struggle until you talk to them and they tell you personally. You think you know someone, you think they have a great, easy life full of happiness only to find out it is the complete opposite. I for one smile a lot. That’s just me, it’s who I am. I am generally and genuinely happy 95% of the time. I choose happiness, but that doesn’t mean my life hasn’t had it’s share of sadness and pain.

My childhood was challenging and full of unhappy times. For years the unhappiness outweighed the good times. I know for a certainty that the only way I got through those times was with the help of God and surrogate fathers who took an interest in me and took me under their wings. Later on in life I had to deal with a lot of loss and tragedies. Not a lot of people knew what I was going through, and I kept smiling despite it all. It wasn’t something I talked about at first because it was so painful and fresh. Later on I did start to share with others and it turned out to be the best thing I did. I found out that I wasn’t the only one and I found a support group of friends, young and old, that I could lean on.

It is so important to get to know people before you pass judgement. You don’t know their story, you don’t know their struggle. You’d be amazed at what you learn about a person over a cup of coffee, taking a walk, having lunch or dinner with them, or just simply sitting and shooting the breeze. I’ve done this recently with someone I always considered to be a friend, someone I’ve known for years, but I didn’t know her story or her struggle until she shared it with me. We both shared our stories and struggles with each other and we were amazed. At times I got choked up because I truly didn’t know where she found the strength to endure the things she endured. I left with such a deep respect for my friend. She inspired me, she encouraged me, and she gave me hope. She was a reminder of how I need to rely on God even more, how I need to throw ALL of my burdens upon Him, and not just when things are going bad. Our long conversation was faith strengthening and beautiful because it wasn’t all sadness and tragedy. We shared with each other how we overcame, how we triumphed and became stronger women and stronger human beings as a result. We became better mothers, providers, mates, and friends because of our struggles.

These are the moments I live for. I love people, I love getting to know people. I don’t expect anyone to share their life story with me, I don’t talk to you to be nosy and find out gossip. I talk to people because I am genuinely interested in them. Whatever people share with me it’s because they want to share, not because I’m badgering them or fishing for information. You can learn something from everyone you encounter, and that’s what I strive to do on a daily basis. Strive to take an active interest in people. You’d be surprised at their story, and their struggle.

Please feel free to share your thoughts below. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!

The Anger I Feel

Injustice of any kind angers me. Man’s imperfection coupled with extreme greed and lack of love or compassion for their fellow man is why injustice exists at an all time high today. But what angers me more is the ignorance that drives the injustice. The racism and the intolerance – and for what? Fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of something different than the little bubble they’ve been so used to living in.

If you really look at the history of mankind things have only gotten worse. It’s 2014 and it means nothing when it comes to intolerance and injustice. Racism is alive and well and there is still a lot of crooked, wicked people making decisions and making it hard on the poor and less fortunate ones. It’s been the way of the world since the beginning of time. Sure strides have been made over the years, but has anything really changed? Think about it. What’s changed in my opinion, is the racism isn’t as in your face as it was years ago. It’s behind your back. It’s you not getting certain jobs or promotions that you’re just as qualified, if not more qualified to receive. It’s the loans you don’t get from the bank, it’s the house you can’t buy in certain neighborhoods. It’s in the company and school handbooks that specifically point out that afros, puffs, braids, or locs as being unacceptable, unprofessional, and distracting. Your natural hair in it’s natural kinky state, be it braided or in an afro, neatly styled – is a distraction? That’s a subject for another post.

The anger I feel…..if you bottled it up it would have the power of several nuclear bombs. Every so often my patience and willpower get tested, be it at work, home, or anywhere out in public. There are times when I encounter sheer ignorance and racism that makes me pause and say “Really? You’re THAT ignorant and racist?” The anger builds and boils in me like hot lava boiling in a volcano that is ready to erupt at any moment. My chest constricts, my blood is pumping and my head is pounding. I have to let off this steam. I must vent my anger to someone and soon before I blow. That someone is usually my husband. He can calm me down quicker than anyone. If I’m at work and I feel this way I pray. Then I write. Then I call my husband. Not necessarily in that order either. After all of that has been done I try my best to let it go. I resolve to leave things in God’s hands because I know it’s out of my power.

The anger I feel makes me human. I care, I feel, I empathize. It’s how I deal with that anger that needs to improve. I don’t want to develop high blood pressure. I don’t want to have a heart attack or stroke. I have 4 kids that I want to see grow up and have families of their own. I want grandbabies! However, I’ve always been one who internalized her feelings until I started to put those feelings on paper. I write down how I feel and I hold nothing back. Then I begin the process of letting go and focusing on something else. Only then does the tension leave my chest, shoulders, neck and back. I begin to relax. It’s for this very reason that I don’t watch a lot of world news and can barely tolerate local news. It’s depressing, it’s sickening, and it makes me angry. I hate feeling that way.

One day soon the anger I feel will be a thing of the past, and it will be a glorious day indeed. I pray for this day.