Random

It’s been a while since I’ve done a decent post and while I have much I’ll eventually post, I’m currently feeling like a boat adrift.  My thoughts are erratic at best and I’m finding myself less and less satisfied with things/people around me and in life as a whole. I’m not one for wallowing.  Nor am I one whose a part of a situation instead of the solution; however, right now, I think I just need to be.  I’m not falling into a temporary dark state; instead I am allowing whatever this “feeling” is to exist and then run its course.  All too often, we strive to “try to figure it out”; spend too much time trying “to get to the root of it”; and/or look for the needle in the proverbial haystack.  I believe I’m in a “let go and let God” state of being.  I prayed this morning for peace in my spirit; to keep my heart open in order to give; and to be moved in a direction that is wholesome to my overall well-being.  I refused the distraction of the radio and prayed in silence as I drove to work and allowed myself to revel in the sound of my thoughts as they occupied my mind.

I rarely think of my time as being wasted when I do nothing because just being still is often more of an accomplishment than constant motion.  We’ve been adversely conditioned into thinking we have to always do something, which, in my opinion is a jagged pill I refuse to swallow.  Why?  Because stillness is important.  Correction, it’s a necessity.  Why you might ask once again?  Because if we’re constantly doing something, when do we actually get to appreciate who we are, what we have, and whom we have it with?  I don’t mean casually; in passing because we’re interacting on a social level, I mean, actually exclude noise, distractions and just be.  Think of the last time you sat with your children, spouse/partner/significant other/friend and just chilled and enjoyed the moment; no electronic device, no thoughts of work, or any other interference and fully appreciated it?  Think of the last time you looked up from your device and said hello how are you to someone and actually meant it and it wasn’t said out of casual tone or in passing?  Think of the last time you let a chore pass without feeling guilty?  Be honest here; I sure am!  So many of us refuse to allow stillness to be a part of our being.  So many don’t really notice the change in colours, a flower that bloomed, the person at the bus stop they may pass each day while driving to work or actually strike up a conversation with a fellow commuter.  These things make me sad, but they also make me appreciate my moments like this.  I know we only have a limited time on this earth and we’re all trying to make the most of it; but again, how many consider that stillness is a part of our time?

Not checking Facebook, Instagram, Email, playing an electronic game isn’t making the most of our time; it’s often squandering it.  I bet if we calculated the time spent not interacting we’d be astonished with the results.  That same time could be spent taking advantage of the beauty around us; the people around us; being a part of something greater or even better than ourselves.  I think; no, I know that’s where I am right now.  I’m cherishing the moments where I don’t have to or want to do something because a social or even personal choice dictates.  I recognize that I’m feeling the weight of living alone as I have done for the past two years, Lil Lady is grown up now. She’s chosen to have a place of her own with her fiance and dog and that’s a good thing because it’ll be how she learns and how she’ll be able to balance her budget, her time, and her life as an adult.  Living alone is good for me because I’m territorial and I enjoy my time, my space, and my things to be where I left them without interference from another party; however, I know it’s time to change that part of my life.  Truth be told, I’m both ready and reluctant for this occurrence because, as I said, I’m territorial. I’m also rather neat and like things in order.  I want messes cleaned’ I want things put away, and I want these things done without having to prompt another party to do them.  I can handle change, but this one will truly take getting used once it occurs.  Pray for me okay! 😉

So, here I am, three months shy of my 47th year of life.  I’m beginning to think this “feeling” is a product of that last quarter phase out of my 46th year.  I’m contemplative.  I’m slightly indecisive.  I’m evaluating.  I’m restructuring.  I’m growing. I’m reflecting.  I’m planning. I’m preparing.  I’m many, many adjectives rolled into the multi facets of being Blu Jewel.  I’m okay with it all because….I know the struggle because I’ve lived through many and overcome.  I know the preciousness of life because mine has been threatened and challenged.  I wore the weight of my pain/shame and appreciate the lightness of being for having rose above it.  There are many positives to my former negatives and the best part of it all is that I have some of the greatest life lessons for it all.  I’m now a healer; a teacher; a mentor; a mother; a friend; a lover; and one day a wife (again); none of the aforementioned come in any particular order, but that is my then and now.  I’m not naive to think that this closeout period will be silver lined, sprinkled with rainbows, and full of sunshine, but what I do know for sure is that trust has been earned and loyalty has been shown, and love has been given from those I’ve needed it the most from.  Those are the ones I cherish.  Those are the ones I stop what I’m doing; or sometimes not doing for.  In those people, I include myself because I am an important part of the equation and in this tapestry of life I am woven together with love, peace, joy, and the occasional appearance of pain, tears, and discontent; however, it does not taint my picture; it merely adds a beautiful hue to which keeps me grounded.

What started out as a random post has now formed into something purposed and meaningful of which I couldn’t be more proud.  I, without initially fully recognizing it, turned nothing into something and proven that even when we think we not doing something; we’re always doing something. I’m thankful and grateful for this moment of “nothingness” 🙂

Enjoy your lives my friends!

 

Yea, I said it!

 

RIP to a Phenomenal Woman – Maya Angelou

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Today, I am deeply saddened by the loss of Maya Angelou.  Aside from the amazing strides she made in and for society, black women primarily, but all women and the literary contributions, she made a huge impact on my life.  Mother Maya, as I’d always fondly referred to her as, touched my life greatly.  I possess many of her works, which served to inspire, encourage and uplift me into the woman I am today.  She rose above her so-called lacks, overcame much adversity, was a victor,  and a woman of high regard when many thought less of her.  She refused to settle for less and was inspired and encouraged to succeed against the odds…She did!

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Mother Maya was world renowned, which for a black woman is an amazing feat to accomplish.  Mother Maya taught us to be phenomenal, to be great, to be all that we could be and still strive for me.  Her presence, her voice, her will was awe worthy and commanding, yet dispensed with grace and dignity.

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I tend not to jump on the band wagon of those of celebrity who’ve passed, but in this instance, I’d be remiss if I didn’t.  Again, Mother Maya was and will continue to be a woman I honoured and felt greatly touched and influenced my life.  I’ve used her as a source of reference when mentoring young woman.  I’ve gifted her books to young woman so they, too, could be encouraged, inspired, and know their worth.

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The black community, the literary world, and many lives were blessed by her activism; her poise; her teachings and her passing is a great loss to them all. It is my hope that those who were touched, influenced, and affected by Mother Maya will continue her legacy in some form so that all she gave us will not be for naught.

STILL I RISE - MAYA ANGELOU

RIP Mother Maya, you’ll be greatly and sorely missed.

 

 

Yea, I said it!

Blog Challenge: Day 6 — Something you hope you never have to do…

This one makes me extremely sad to even entertain, but it would be to never have to bury my child.  I think every parent shares this sentiment and it’s one that touches us to the very core.  A small part of my heart breaks whenever I hear or read stories about children dying and I can’t begin to comprehend the pain that parent has to go through in order to make arrangement for their child.  There is no greater sorrow than that and one I truly hope and pray I never have to go through.  I only have one child, so while the loss of any child is awful, I think the loss of an only child carries an even greater burden.

Damn! I’m emotional now!

 

Yea, I said it!

30-Day Blog Challenge…Day 1

The purpose of this challenge it to take inventory of yourself and your life; well, that’s what I’m taking from it anyway. For those participating, it’ll offer each of us to learn more about each other.

Today’s challenge is to reveal…

SOMETHING YOU HATE ABOUT YOURSELF:

Given that I think “hate” is such a harsh word, I’d like to rephrase “hate” with “heavily dislike”.  That being said, I heavily dislike how harshly I berate myself for things I’ve done that I think I shouldn’t have or should have done differently.  My mind goes through an endless rotation of how I could or should have done a situation and/or thing differently.  For example, last week, I mapped out directions from my friend’s house to a location just outside of NYC.  I weighed each of the proposed route and took the one that seemed most expedient.  While I knew when I left, I had more an ample time to reach my destination, I was still thrown and angered when I ended up on the second of the two proposed routes.  I fussed incessantly with myself and couldn’t stop the internal war I was raging, in truth, for no good reason.  As I said, I had ample time to get to my destination.  The irony of the situation was that the route I ended up on ended up being the faster route as it reduced the amount of time I sat in traffic to my intended exit.

I am like this with many things and I am working to reduce and eventually eliminate my negative habit.  Like all things learned, it’ll take time to unlearn, but it’s something I really want to overcome.  At the end of the day, I’m human and I’m going to make mistakes, bad decisions, or choices regardless of how well thought out; or not, my actions were or could have been.

Well, that one was actually easier than I thought. Phew!  I’m sure they won’t all be this easy, but it’s always the first step that’s the hardest, so I will continue on.

 

 

Yea, I said that!

Lies the Fairy Tales told…

Even as a child, I was never inclined to believe in Fairy Tales. I always found the characters rather unbelievable and the so-called heroines a bit pathetic. I do like some of the newer ‘Fairy Tales’, such as Brave and The Secret Life of Arriety, where the heroines actually believe in something other than a handsome prince to come to their rescue. These characters believed in their own strengths and weaknesses, fought for what they thought was right for them, and stood up against implied feminine protocols.

As a child, I was not dissimilar to those characters. I fortunately wasn’t raised to be a ‘princess’; though there was an implied expectation of what was the stereotyped decorum. Regardless of that expectation, I ran with the best of the boys in the neighbourhood; got dirty, climbed walls and fences, got into fights; typically with boys, and wore my scrapes and scratched as a badge of honour when I wasn’t hiding them from my father. These kinds of antics for a girl were typically frowned upon and we were dubbed ‘Tom Boys’, which I think is wrong. Why couldn’t we simply be accepted for our diverse interest in things that weren’t stereotypical or gender-specific?! Conversely to my running with the boys, I tidied up well and quite enjoyed wearing skirts and dresses.

As the mother of a daughter, I did not impose colour or gender-specific things upon her, nor did I treat her like a princess. Yes, she was her mother and fathers pride and joy and her grandmother dubbed her Princess, but she wasn’t treated with kid gloves, kept ultra clean and graced with pink, sparkles, and lace. Yes, we read her some of the Fairy Tales, but they were never allowed to be imbedded as her mode of living and life expectation. We allowed her the freedom to pick and choose her activities, toys, and other childhood ventures.

Cultural and social exposure played a very active role in Lil Lady’s development. She was taken to various types of places and raised with an awareness of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ so she could appreciate what she herself had. She took her first road trip at five days old, her first in-country flight at five months old, and her first international flight at 20 months. Throughout each other these ventures, I was met with a mixed bag of praise and criticism. Some thought it was good that I was exposing her early to life; while others thought I should “wait until she’s older” or “she’s a little princess and shouldn’t be this or that”. Yea, whatever! She was my daughter and I’d do as I pleased as long as neither of us was put in harms way.

Like the constant emphasis in fairy Tales, I’d often hear how beautiful my daughter was as if that’s all she was. I acknowledged that they knew nothing else about her and as soon as she was in school and proved her academic prowess, I was sure to let people know that in addition to her looks, she was an Honour Roll student. I never wanted her to be seen or known solely for her looks. I always taught her that Pretty Smart was leagues better than Pretty Dumb as she’d much more than her looks to get her through life. Granted, looks can and will get you a step up, but without content of character, common sense, and a good skill set, what would she have to fall back on? This is the premise in which so many girls are raised and it needs to be changed. Girls can very much be Princesses; however, they need to taught and learn there is more to them and for them than looks and the handsome Prince coming to their rescue.

This teaching can lead to emotionally weak women who live life through rose coloured glasses where their romantic outlook on relationships and life puts them in a deficit because they think life conforms to the lie they’ve bought into. Fairy tales have led to divorce, emotional, physical and mental abuse, and in some ways, created a breed of women who will either blame everyone else but themselves for the demise of relationships of their lack of love; or they raise daughters with inflated senses of self, entitlement, or the same voice as their mothers because the mother has not fixed what was broken in herself before raising her daughter. Cycles of dysfunction only break when one gets to the root of their issue and stops believing the fantasy sold to them.

I’m pleased that there are some societal changes are occurring to better empower our daughters and I pray that the influences I have on my future stepdaughter and my goddaughter will broaden their life outlook and allow them to be more than “pretty in pink”. I also hope they’ll be more like Merida from Brave and Arriety and not allow society and their peers to dictate what they should do because “they’re girls”.

Lastly, I’d like to add that I co-authored a monologue for a student I was mentoring with the same title as this post where she used it to speak of her lack of relationship with her father. It served as a great healing tool for her. 🙂 Let’s be careful of the seeds we plant for our children; especially our daughters to grow upon.

Yea, I said it!

Earned; not given…

As a mentor, I listen to students talk about their lives and how they want this or that and I think to how easy/good many of them have it. Many have never worked a day in their lives and have had everything given to them without the benefit of always having earned it and the few that have worked, still had their wants and needs supplemented by their parents instead of having to save up to get what they wanted. It’s a sad state of affairs when a generation has expectations of being entitled to luxuries in life simply ‘because’. I’ve heard students talk about their $300 weaves, expensive purses and shoes, and designer clothes meanwhile they’re unemployed or can’t and don’t purchase their text books in favour of these luxuries. This attitude confirms their lack of priority and appreciation for what should truly be valuable.

I raised an only child who’s been afforded many luxuries in life; however, she earned them with good grades, a good attitude, helping around the house, and volunteering at the hospital her father worked at. She was raised to understand and appreciate that her parents worked hard for a living and that getting isn’t simply acquired with an “I want…”. Her father and I differed on what things were age appropriate on occasion, but for the most part, while she was indulged; she wasn’t over indulged. He bought the high-end things like iPods, Coach bags, and things of that nature and I took her on vacations in and out of the country, museums/galleries, and other social and cultural activities. We found balance in our co-parenting.

Sadly, I see the converse of what Lil Lady’s upbringing was. I’ve seen many of her peers and those coming up behind her getting the things she earned being “gimme’s” for no other reason than, “why not?” and “just because”. These children aren’t being taught values and that things are to be earned, which is manifested in their neglect of appreciation and the more they get is the more they won’t; further exacerbating their selfish and narcissistic attitudes.

Parents hire landscapers instead of having their children cut the grass, pull weeds, or other minor landscaping tasks. They hire house cleaners instead of having their children clean up, do dishes (read: unload dishwashers), or do laundry. These are all life skills that should and need to be taught to these spoiled and over-indulged children in order for them to grow up knowing how to take care of themselves and the spaces in which they live or will live. These skills should be not gender-specific as each gender needs to know how to perform basic tasks.

In my Jamaican culture, both men and women are equally taught and are responsible for keeping a home. Boys and girls learn how to cook, clean, do laundry, iron, and perform other chores in and out of the home. These life skills carry them far in life as they do not have to rely on someone else to perform their basic needs or requirements. Sadly, I do not see this taught often in American households. Everything seems to be gender assigned and performed accordingly, which continues to breed lazy and incapable children and that lack gets carried into adulthood where money is wasted on take our or pre-packaged foods, service companies, and other entities to perform things that which they could do themselves had they been taught.

It saddens me to see idle children. I think of entrepreneurial opportunities wasted with them being inside playing video games, engrossed in social media, or texting. In every neighbourhood is a family that could use a reliable babysitter, groundskeeper, dog walker when they’re going to be home late or away, or someone to simply share the workload if they’re overwhelmed with many other things. Teens taking the initiative to take on any of the aforementioned could give them tax-free money of which can be saved or used to purchase things they’re earned instead of being given. Knowing and understanding sweat equity could broaden their knowledge of how hard their parents work to pay household expenses and still provide for things outside of the scope of basic requirements a parent has to provide.

Lil Lady has been out of the house for a year and now has a greater understanding and appreciation of what it takes to live on her own. I’ve helped out where necessary, but overall, she’s take care of herself and her needs. She’s always seen me work hard, struggle, sometimes go without in order for needs to be met, which I think is a valuable learning tool in and of itself. Too many parents over shield their children from the harsh realities of life and end up teaching them bad life lessons in the process.
Children have to be taught that a parent’s responsibility is to provide a roof over their heads, food on the table, clothes on their backs and support them in their growth process and that’s it. Everything else they get should be earned and a privilege and NOT an entitlement.

The following should be posted in homes and schools to teach children how to be valuable and productive in their homes, communities and in life.

Word to teenagers

 

Live the life you love; love the life you live!