Friday, August 31, 2012

Trust Me



           It is an equal failing to trust everybody, and to trust nobody. 




      English Proverb


I have recently been building a new found friendship with one of my exes from a few years ago.  It appears that we are both in a good place and have mutually decided that a relationship is not in the cards so everything is going relatively smoothly.  Part of me wishes that we had began our relationship more as platonic friends than as romantic friends, but that is in the past now.

In one of our conversations I asked my friend if he would be willing to have discussions on my own love life and in particular his thoughts from a male perspective.  Although this was a generalized statement he interpreted my inquiry as a time to tell me what he thought my flaws were in the relationship.  To be honest, I discounted much of what he said.  I can't remember it at all.  But there was one point he mentioned that has stuck with me the past few weeks, trust.  My ex said that when we were together that I had trust issues and that until I resolved them then I will always have trouble being in a relationship.  I realized he has a point.

A few days ago while I was driving I came back to this point about my lack of trust of the people I have dated in the past.  However, I had an epiphany.  It really is not just a mistrust of men, but just of people in general.  Where did this come from?  I think it came from my childhood.   

It was just my parents and I living in a small Midwestern community.  We had no immediate family close by.  When my parents sick at the same time, I had to rely a lot on myself to get things done or to figure things out.  I have always had this mentality that the only person you can really rely on is yourself because the people around you will not always be there.  Or that people will always let you down.  It was particularly cynical way to look at the world as a teenager.

This premise is the foundation for my overachiever mentality.  I am pretty sure that my trust issues make me very hard on myself.  I set this standards and goals for myself that are very hard, if not impossible to reach.  And then I get mad at myself when I do not accomplish them.  I mean if I cannot trust myself to do things, how can I even begin to trust others?

Other things have happened in my adult life that I am not comfortable going into great detail about at this time.  But I will say I have felt that in the past the trust that I have put in others that I have looked up to has been betrayed.  I usually don't share a lot of my inner most feelings with others (which is kind of ironic that I have a blog doing just that).  But when I do share it makes me feel extremely vulnerable.  I did this with some people who I trusted, who I thought I had my best interest at hand, and I was burned, badly.  It is a feeling that I am not sure I can ever get over, but I know that I need to work on in order to become a better person.

But yes this mistrust does extend to my dating life.  Why?  I just have this general sense that most, and I said most, not all, guys are just kind of worthless.  Hold on, I know that every person is worth something, that is not what I meant.  I just feel like a lot of guys treat dating like a game.  They will lie, cheat, steal, do whatever they can to conquer and win, at any cost.  In fact, my friend who said I had trust issues also confirmed in the same conversation that 9 out of 10 guys are just playing the field and "stockpiling women".  

I know there are some good guys out there though, I think I actually am friends with a lot of them.  But they are my friends.  Where are the guys that are not my friends and are still decent human beings?  The truth is though, that at least I can spot the bad ones and not waste my time.  People are supposed to earn your trust right?  So why should I trust someone that already appears to be untrustworthy from the start?

So I guess the point is yes, I know I have trust issues.  I guess I am going to have to work on it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's Never Too Late

I am more than half way through The Purpose Driven Life.  I am enjoying reading this book more than I had imagined and I encourage you to read it for yourselves.  Today is Day 23 of the book and the subject is "How We Grow."  The author writes that we as followers of Jesus tend to never grow past our spiritual infancy.  To grow takes a conscious effort and commitment, a decision.  To do this you have to change the way that you think.  He says that it is never too late to do this.  It seems so simple, but little do we truly believe in the power of our thoughts.

Many times before I heard of the power of positive thinking.  You know this premise that if you think negatively that your outcome in turn will also be negative.  Did you know that even thinking bad thoughts is a sin?  Sometimes it only takes one seed of negativity to ruin your day.  A few posts ago I wrote about how I from time to time try to send positive greetings to my friends in the morning.  This is so my friends have a fresh positive perspective to begin their day.

I believe that many people do not believe in the consequence inviting negative thoughts and images into their mind.  A few decades ago members of Congress spoke out about how rap lyrics were causing violence in America.  Later on violent video games replaced this argument.  While I don't believe that there is a direct link between rap lyrics and violence, I do believe that one influences the other.  The constant bombardment of violent and sexual images definitely affect how we function as a society.  We are so de-sensitized at this point that nothing really shocks us anymore.  What are the limits?

A few of my friends what Love and Hip Hop Atlanta and the Basketball Wives.  These are two shows that I had to stop watching.  I actually felt like the violence on the show was starting to make me feel more aggressive.  Well it is that, but also the negative portrayal of black females, which I may write about another day.  Does their behavior please God?  Does it reflect that they are trying to grow in their spirituality?

Some people have adopted this name it and claim mentality when it comes to God, but I am not certain that this is what God wants either.  I don't think that everything that we name, we should claim.  And sometimes when we do name it and claim it, it turns out that it really wasn't what we wanted in the first place.

So how will changing our mind help is grow in our relationship with God?  God wants us to grow and become more in his image.  When you change your mindset and realize that you are here because of God and you are here to please God then it will as a result change your actions.  When you stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about others, that is how you grow in your spiritual maturity.  What can you do to start thinking God's way?


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Heavy Burden


I know what it feels like to carry a lot of weight in a society that's very image-conscious. It's a thin person's world, and we try to navigate within it without being made fun of.



I grew up a heavy child.  Once a white nutritionist told me that I was big-boned.  I thought that was something that only black people called each other, but apparently it is a real thing!  You know when you are younger a chubby/chunky little girl with big pinchable cheeks is cute right?  Well chubby/chunky on an adult is fat/obese and is definitely not cute.  All through my childhood the doctors told my parents that I needed to lose weight.  I know that I was slightly heftier than the other kids.  I especially knew this when I had to be fitted for basketball uniforms or band uniforms.  In fact those were the days I dreaded.  I was always scared that I wouldn't be able to participate because they wouldn't be able to find something that could fit me.  In fact, I think that is part of the reason that I never auditioned for a play, even when I always thought it would be a fun thing to do.  Yet in high school I wasn't made fun of, which I was always surprised about.  I had always wondered why I wasn't the target of the cruel kid's humor.  I guess it is because I tried to be as funny and as personable as possible so everyone would ignore the fact that I had some front and side chub.

So my weight issues followed me into college.  Although instead of just carrying weight around I was now carrying asthma.  I was so used to wheezing and coughing that I had stopped noticing I was doing it.  Imagine walking 20 minutes across campus while coughing and wheezing.  It was tiring and it was embarrassing.  Sometimes I would stop breathing to see if was my breathing that I heard or something else in my environment.

Then it was law school.  You think being the poorest I had ever been would slow down my weight gain.  Nope.  I was in Louisiana, where the food was good and the men did most of the best cooking!  By the end of law school I was sure that I was going to die from my weight and its complications.  I begged God to get me through my last few weeks in school so I could go back home and start over.  Well, as I am writing, you can tell that I survived.  I enrolled in Weight Watchers and starting going to the gym regularly.  I lost 70 lbs!

Well that was a few years ago.  I have managed not to get back to my heaviest weight of 265, but the scales have been slowly tipping upwards.  Gaining weight is such an embarrassment, especially after having lost such a big amount.  In fact, instead of using your previous accomplishment as a motivator, it actually can just make you kind of ashamed and depressed.  But I definitely know I am not alone.  My friends have the same issues.  We go up and down together as if it were a club, Weight Gainers R Us.  Yeah, that is the worst club in the world!

The thing is, I don't want to go up and down anymore.  In the back of my mind I keep thinking that my body is a temple, yet I am treating it so poorly.  Part of me thinks that maybe if I weren't so big that I would get that job that I am looking for.  Or maybe I would be married by now.  Or perhaps I would be overall happier.

While all of that may be true, the truth is I just want to be healthy.  I want to feel better.  There is nothing like the feeling after a good workout.  For me it makes me happy and it makes me want to eat healthier.  But  the problem is starting and maintaining.  I guess when you know you have a lot to lose it can be so overwhelming and it seems almost impossible.  But I am not going to give up.  My dad is my motivation.  He died at 41 and I always wonder if maybe he hadn't been overweight his life could have been different.

So by writing all of this I will try to keep myself accountable.  Maybe you need someone to hold you accountable as well?  We can do this, together.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Who said you were the judge

I was reminded of an important lesson yesterday when I was chatting with my cousin.  She reminded me that I am not in the position of judging others.  This point was confirmed during my daily meditation this morning, so I figured it would be a good topic to share.

One day I was asking my friend whether he wanted to get a tattoo.  He told me he was considering either praying hands or a cross.  Both I thought were interesting decisions for someone who didn't regularly attend church nor I thought who read the bible.  I guess I said something to this effect, and he said that he prays regularly and the subject was dropped.  But still his hypothetical choice for a tattoo lingered in my mind, why would someone one not strong in their faith get such a tattoo?  I pondered this question with my cousin, who I often come to with questions of religion.  My cousin, thank goodness, put me in my place.  She reminded me that one's relationship with God is individual and that I don't know what the relationship is like between my friend and God.  I can't judge someone's relationship based on my own.

Really, she gave me the reminder that I needed.  I have to remember that even though I am excited about my journey and I want everyone to share and grow alongside me that that is not going to happen.  As I work on myself, I have to refrain from judging others that are not in my same situation.  I don't think that I do it out of hatred or wanting to be better than someone, I just am enjoying the ride so much that I want others to following in my joy.

However, some people judge others out of a bad place.  The recent arguments about gay marriage and even abortion invoke such negative spirit.  Many people are judging gay people or people who want abortions as if they are evil people and less than a person.  While we can disagree with the sin, we are supposed to still love the person.  But the truth is, it is not our place to judge others anyway.  Why is this?  Because we are all inherently imperfect by nature.  No matter how hard we try, no matter how many of the rules we follow, we will never be perfect.  As humans, we tend to think that some sins are worse than others.  The truth is there is no hierarchy to sinning.  You can't sin a little bit.  Gluttony is on the same level as murder.  Any sin is looked at the same no matter how much that you try to justify it to yourself.  So to me it has always been crazy to hear the stories when people kill abortion doctors.  Or others have affairs while they are married, but still have staunch views against gay marriage.  No one is above sinning, and no one but God is really the judge.

So in the future I need to check myself.  Who said I was the judge?  No one.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Importance of Friendship

Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it's all over.


Octavia Butler



Growing up in Illinois my friends were like my family.  I am an only child with two parents.  The only family that I saw were in Maryland and Virginia and I only saw them once or twice a year.  As a result, I felt like I had no one I could really vent to and talk about things except my friends.  My friends growing up helped me deal with all of the sickness going on with my family.  I looked forward to all the sleepovers or even just the bike rides that stretched out far beyond the city limits.  One of my friends from those days reminded me of the impromptu back to school/birthday bashes that I held every year.  It is kind of funny how I still do that to this day.

This weekend I celebrated my 31st birthday with friends and family.  It was truly one of the best birthdays I have ever had from start to finish.  There by my side my two besties were there, as usual, walking , eating, laughing, and drinking with me.  My best friends are like my sisters.  They are as important to me as my family.  We have seen each other at our best and our worst and still live to tell the tales.  They the are people who lift me up when I am down and the inspire me to my greatness.  They guide me on my journey, but let me make my own mistakes when I need to.  I am so blessed to have them in my life.

I had a friend once who told me that his friendships are in tiers.  Meaning, that there are different levels of friendships for his friends.  The higher the tier, the closer the friendship.  At first I was annoyed because I felt as if I should have been in the top tear, but I hadn't reached that yet.  However, years later I still remember this discussion.  He was right, friendships do have different levels.  I consider myself to be a very outgoing and friendly person.  I can make new friends easily.  But my true friends are the ones that I consider to be the people who I hold to a different standard.

My friends and I sometimes have the conversation about how other people survive without friends.  I don't believe that God made us not to have friends.  I mean even Jesus, who was perfect, had his own crew.  The past few days of reading The Purpose Drive Life, have been focused on fellowship.  To me fellowship and friendship are the same thing.  Although, some may say that fellowship has a spiritual component, I don't feel that having different spiritual beliefs  is a barrier to fellowship.  In fact, when I looked up the definition for fellowship on Dictionary.com, one of the definitions is "companionship;friendship".  

Back to the book, the author explains to have a fellowship you must:  share true feelings, encourage each other, support each other, forgive each other, speak the truth in love, admit our weaknesses, respect our differences, not gossip, and make group a priority.  The author writes later that a fellowship is giving away selfishness and independence and replacing it with interdependence.  Do your fellowships look like this?  Do your friendships looks like this?  Maybe it is time for an evaluation.  Maybe you put your friends in this category but your friendship lacks some of these characteristics.  Or perhaps you realize you have friends who are like this with you, but you don't exhibit all of these qualities yourself.  

Why not look at your friendships today?  And if you realize how important your friendships/fellowships are to you then tell them so.  Your friends with thank you for it :)


Friday, August 24, 2012

Letter to Myself

Today is my birthday eve.  I usually do some sort of reflection around my birthday and at the end of the year.        This year I have decided to write a letter to 16 year old self.  Why 16?  A lot of things happened that year for me.  I got my drivers license, my dad died, and I moved to Maryland, not all at once of course.  So here goes...

Dear 16 Year Old Adia,

Hey Adia, this is me, yourself at almost 31.  I am writing you today to tell you some things that I have learned and how to better prepare you for your future.  You will be having a lot that goes on this year.  I want to encourage you to stay strong through it all, because it is going to be rough.  However, I know that you will be able to get through everything and will be able to tell other people your story.

The first thing, do not lie about hanging out at your friend's house instead of going to art club to help decorate for homecoming.  You end up not being able to see out of the back of the car and you backed up in to a ditch.  You ended up messing up the car and you were grounded.  Don't do that in the future.  It kind of sucked.

Second thing, spend as much time with Dad as possible.  You don't know this yet but dad's cancer is going to come back quickly and he is going to end up passing away in a month.  I know it seems crazy to think about right now, but it will happen.  Use this time by trying to find out as much about his family and his background as possible.  Make sure you do it now, because it will bother you not knowing this information for the rest of your life.  Also try not to act like a teenager with all that angst and anger, just be nice to him, because he really is a good guy.  And if you have the chance, go with him more to the Community Center.  Find out what he does so that you can learn, and do it in the future.

Next, forgive Mom.  I know that sometimes she wasn't the nicest person growing up.  Shoot at this point in your life, she still might not be the nicest, but she is your mom.  It turns out that she may have had some issues while you were growing up.  I didn't find out until more recently.  But try to forgive her for the way she was in the past.  Now she is totally different in many ways.  She is going to need you and she will depend on you for the rest of your life.  It will be a lot easier once you forgive her for how she acted in the past, because she won't even remember what happened.  Plus she loves you despite the lack of saying it or the hugs.  She will tell you a lot later on.

Save money!  I know you don't have a job yet.  Your first job will be working at Kmart in Maryland.  I know it seems very random but it is true.  There will be a time when you don't have a job.  So now that you have the chance, put a little bit of your money away as much as you can and don't touch it.  If you had started this when you were 17 you would be very rich right now haha.

Network!  I don't even know what this means to a 16 year old.  Your personality is going to continue to grow throughout your life.  Take advantage of this.  Get to know people, make friends, and keep in touch with people.  You may need to call some favors along the way, and you may need to help people as well.

Go to church.  Remember when you were younger?  You said that once you got your license how you wanted to try out different religions and go to different churches until you found the right one?  You never did that.  You really only started regularly going to church in college.  Start developing your relationship with God now.  Otherwise, you're going to feel behind.  It might seem overwhelming at first, but eventually you will feel like your relationship with God is the one thing you were missing all along.

Don't worry about boys.  I mean I don't think you are really concerned about them.  I know you change crushes as you change pants and that's fine.  You are going to be a late bloomer.  It's ok.  There is no need to rush.  And in your time about not worrying about dating, you are probably not seeing some of the guys who are interested in you.  They are out there I promise.  So make sure to open your eyes a little bit.  Dress up sometimes and don't be afraid of makeup.  Just to warn you, you will get your heart broken more than once and you feel like you will never be able to trust or love again, but you will.  It will just take some time.  Just trust your gut.  If you feel like a guy isn't for you let him go sooner rather in later, it will be a hard lesson for you to learn in the future.

Finally,  I just want to say self, I love you.  You are a beautiful and amazing young lady.  You are thoughtful, caring, and compassionate.  You are going to grow up to make a difference in people's lives.  It is not going to be an easy path and you are going to struggle, but you will make it.  You have a good foundation that will prepare you for your future.  I know that you are an overachiever, but stop always being so hard on yourself.  I also know that you feel like you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.  I don't know if that will ever change.  But don't forget to lean in to your friends and family.  You have an excellent support system! They love you and they are there for you.   And also remember to have fun!  Don't take life so seriously that you miss out on the fun of life.

Love ya,

Adia



Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Power of Fear

Remember when you were little how one look from your mother could insight fear in you.  It was like you could already feel the wrath of her belt on your bottom before the first blow was delivered.  I have been told that my face turns bright red when I'm angry and makes the strongest people weak lol.  Ok I am exaggerating, but my face does turn red when I am mad and I did hear it was kind of scary.

The point is that people use the power of fear as a measure of control.  My mom's look could stop me from doing whatever I was doing wrong.  This has long been an issue that I have been concerned about. Throughout history fear has been used to control people.  Wars, slavery, judicial systems, have been built around fear.  Today, I was reminded about it after reading an article on CNN.  http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/23/us/texas-judge-warning/index.html.  In the article, a Judge in Texas suggested that there will be a civil war if  President Obama is re-elected.  I was saddened by not shocked by this rhetoric.  With the the election of our newest President there have been more and more efforts to resort to measures of fear.  The thing that bothers me the most is not that there are people who believe that this is true, but more that people who do not believe things to be true, but say it anyway to strike fear in others.

I believe that a lot of shock jocks and tv networks do this very thing.  Rush Limbaugh, Hannity and Combs, Fox News, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, they all make these outrageous statements that you just have to wonder about their motives.  My opinion:  they don't actually believe what they say, but they believe in making money.  Therefore, they say things that are outrageous to excite their base and therefore, make money.  I know that it is a cynical stance, however it is the only justification I have.

What also makes such statements worrisome is that they teeter on the racial tensions that been present in this country for years.  By its own nature prejudice is a product of fear.  Dictionary.com defines prejudice as "an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason."  People become racist when they hate others based on their prejudice.  It is a fear of the unknown about other races.

Since Mr. Obama began his presidential run years ago it appears that racial insensitivity has risen, despite many of the pundits thinking that this would be a means to a racial utopia.  Jokes, phrase, pictures continue to pop up that are bigoted, prejudiced, and just plain ignorant.  President Obama was even booed when he was giving a State of the Union Address by a Congressmen.  One has to wonder if President Obama was not black if all of this would be going on?  And now a judge says there is going to be a civil war, as if a civil war in the United States is not one of the main icons of slavery and racial oppression of our country.  People continue to use scare tactics as a means of gaining electoral votes.  Not only the racism but even just taking advantage of a time in our lives where there is economic and personal financial instability.

My old pastor used to say never unquestioningly trust people in the pulpit, the same is true here.  Don't trust someone just because the have a title or they are an elected official because they may not have your best interests at hand.  Do your own research and don't act out of fear because then you have all of the power.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Confessions of a Light Skinned Black Woman

I am a light skinned black woman.  I am a light skinned black woman with naturally curly hair.  I grew up in Illinois.  Not not Chicago, I am talking about the country (shout out to Galesburg).  While Galesburg is not without a black population, overall there weren't too many black people.  In my neighborhood, I was one of maybe a handful.  Needless to say, in my classes I was sometimes maybe the only black kid in my class.

Back then I didn't think about that too much.  Wait, let me take that back, occasionally I would think about it.  People would ask me if I was mixed, I would say no, and they would question me again.  It almost made me doubt myself.  My parents are both black.  Of course my mother is extremely light, my dad was just a brown skin man.  Now obviously, my mother and maybe my father's family was mixed with something down the road.  I tried to do a family tree at some point in my life but I have never been able to get too far with the information.  So I have kind of felt like a mutt of sorts because I have never really known exactly why I look the way I do.  Don't get me wrong I love the way I look, but I feel like other people have a problem with it, especially my fellow black brothers and sisters.

When I went to college some of the black kids questioned my "blackness."  But why?  Because of the way I talked?  Or maybe it is because I had white friends?  By the time I went to law school, one friend told me I was the blackest black person she knew.  Meaning, that I definitely wore my "blackness."  My classmates thought I was some urban city girl who probably had never seen white people before.  Little did they know that I was a country girl at heart.

Then I moved back to Maryland.  Not a week went by when someone wouldn't point out I am light skinned, and usually it came from other black people.  Now all of a sudden because of my skin color I had certain assumed personality traits.  You know the stereotypes, I am uppity, I think I am better than everyone, I am a snob...  All of this because of the way I look?  Anyone who really knows me,  knows that I am far from those things.

Dating now has raised red flags.  I was talking to a friend about this the other day.  Now I wonder if someone wants to date me solely based on my skin color and my curly hair.  In the back of my mind I wonder if some guys think that I am the next best thing to having their taboo white woman.  If maybe I have that exotic look that they have always wanted because no one can really tell what I am.  I don't want to be the second runner up to someone's would be jungle fantasy!

I just want to be me, light skinned, curly hair and all.  I want to eat fried chicken (with hot sauce) and watermelon at work and not worry about the implications.  I want to listen to classical musical in the car and not be judged.  Sometimes I feel like saying ain't,  and sometimes I feel like saying like.  I want to date someone who likes me for who I am inside and out, and not because I have "good hair."  I want to be able to just worry about myself and not how my character has to be an example to all other races of how all black people will not rob them by gunpoint.  I just want to be who I am and not worry that you are judging me and trying to assess my blackness because I can do that for myself.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Feeling Lonely But Never Alone

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. --- Hebrews 13:5


The past few days I have been feeling lonely.  I had been working these strange hours at my part-time job and I felt cut off from my friends and family.  Well you know what happens in times of loneliness?  For me, it causes me to over think and put value in things that normally would not bother me.

I was talking to an old friend this weekend.  I don't know quite what I was hoping to accomplish via this email conversation.  Turns out the only thing that I achieved was feeling angry, upset and sad with myself, and even more alone.  I was looking for this person to fill some sort of void.  But the truth is that even though he once was the source for my not feeling alone, it was misplaced.  And not only that, but he is no longer that misplaced resource anymore.  I had forgotten that even in my times of feeling like I am alone, I am never truly alone because God's presence is always there.  Instead of emailing my ex, I should have been cuddled up with Jesus on the couch (a paraphrased stolen line from church).

Today in The Purpose Driven Life, the author writes about feelings as if God has abandoned you.  I am sure we have have all felt that.  I have felt it too, especially during the past few months.  You feel as if you have done the praying and the going to church thing, yet nothing is changing.  You hear no voice from God, you have no direction as to how your life is supposed to be.  But the truth is, God is always there.  Sometimes, it is the separation that we need to test our faith.

Feeling alone can cause people to react in different ways.  Most of the time people do not utilize positive reinforcements during this feeling which may cause the effect of turning away from God.  However, I realized as I was reading that when I feel alone that is when I need to lean into God the most.  I need to remember that God loves me even when I feel like no one else does.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Honesty


How desperately difficult it is to be honest with oneself. It is much easier to be honest with other people. 



                    -Edward Frederic Benson  (courtesy of quoteland.com)




I am on Day 12 of my reading of The Purpose Driven Life.  One of the sub-points of today's reading is about being honest with God.  The writer instructs us that in order to have a closer relationship with God that we must be honest with him.  This is because our relationship with God is supposed to be like a friendship where we can freely talk to one another.  But how easy is it to be honest to God when we are not always honest with ourselves?

Honesty is supposed to be the best policy and all but how often are we really honest with ourselves?  We know that when we are honest with others that sometimes it may be hurtful.  That is why the "little white lie" was created.  Because if it is only a "little white lie" to spare someone's feelings from being hurt than it is ok right?  But maybe we are telling ourselves little white lies to protect us from getting hurt.  In turn this may prevent us from accomplishing our goals and and prevent us from being honest with God. 

The truth is, that when we are honest with ourselves it allows us to grow.  Back when I was in law school I felt like I was going to die.  My blood pressure was dangerously high, I was overweight, and my body just felt like I was falling a part.  I had to finally be honest with myself that I needed to change my life.  I made a plea with God to let me get through the rest of law school and then I would do better.  And that's what I did.  Eventually I lost 70 lbs through exercising and by joining Weight Watchers.  My blood pressure is now controlled to the point that even my doctor is amazed at the difference.  The truth is, if I had kept lying about the state that I was in I could have died.  By me being honest with myself I was honest to God.  And I need to be honest with myself that I need to get back on that path, but that is for a future post.

I am sure that we all have issues that we push to the side, ignore, and are in denial about.  Why wait any longer?  The time is now to start being honest with ourselves so that we can be honest with God.  


Friday, August 17, 2012

Honor Thy Mother

Ever since I remember I have been taught to honor "thy mother and thy father."  Now that I think about it, it is kind of funny that that particular point sticks out in most people's heads but not some other ones like lust, greed, or gluttony, but that is for another day.

For years I have been trying to honor my mother, but it hasn't been without its bumps along the way.  Growing up my mom was not the easiest person to get along with.  She often yelled and screamed and even acted kind of crazy and jealous at times.  Sometimes she said mean things to me and I felt like I was alone with no one to vent to.  A few years ago I asked my Aunt (my mom's sister) if anyone ever thought that something was wrong with my mom.  She didn't hesitate to say yes.  Apparently the whole family thought that when she became sick as a child that it changed her personality into that of a she-devil.  Looking back I felt that my mother may have had depression or maybe have been bipolar.  So my dad was definitely the parent who I identified with more.  I remember thinking one time on the way to visit my dad in the hospital that my greatest fear would be if my dad were to die and I would have to take care of my mom alone.  Well my greatest fear became realized not too shortly later.

The relationship between my mom and I has definitely taken an interesting path.  Since developing Multiple Sclerosis my mom's personality did a complete change.  Now she is very mild mannered and sweet, most of the time.  This was all caused by the plaques on her brain and spin.  Yes, they have effected how she walks.  She walks at a very slow pace with a wide stance.  She has balance issues and is constantly scared of falling to the point that I often have to hold her hand while we are walking and I have to help her step down off of a curb.  There are some other residual affects as well, but I will spare you the details.  Sometimes I get mad at her because I feel like she doesn't try.  She isn't into compromising.  I feel like her body is deteriorating all because she is too scared to face her fears.  I look at other MS patients who are in wheelchairs and have canes I look at my mom who has the capacity to do more but doesn't.

But the worst part of it all is her memory.  Her neurologist says that is MS induced dementia.  My mom has about a zero short term memory.  When I give her instructions they have to be very basic or she forgets.  She often cannot remember what she had for breakfast.  She has trouble with knowing which clothes are appropriate for which season.  The saddest part of all is that she has no long term memory either.  She says she can remember some things, but I doubt that as well.  She doesn't remember which high school she graduated from, her friends growing up, and at one point she even forgot which year she became married to my dad.  The most hurtful of it all is that she can't remember my childhood.  It makes me feel as if I have to hold on to my memory for each thought.  And what is more scary is I feel like I am starting to forget parts of my past as well.  Who can I go to to confirm?

I'm exhausted.  It is hard to constant have to think for someone else.  I am constantly trying to be three steps ahead of her and it is difficult.  It makes me sad to think that this mother who raised me is no longer there.  Our roles have reversed.  For many years I have felt like a single mother, however without having used poor judgment.  I feel guilty because I love my mom but sometimes I wish I didn't have to take care of her.  I know a lot of people my age wouldn't if faced with the same circumstances.  I true to do the right thing many times sacrificing what life I have.  Sometimes I feel resentful, like she has lived her life and now she is ruining any chance I have to pursue my dreams and have my own family.  I know she loves me.  She tells me more now than I can remember growing up.  She tries to take care of me when I am sick (with little success).  And at times I get mad at her because I feel like she is trying to be a mother to me now when she wasn't much of a mother to me earlier.  I can't share my inner most feelings and thoughts and have a normal mother-daughter relationship.  I have felt like a long time I have been lacking that parental figure that I have so craved because  I have had to grow up so fast and do so much on my own.

But on the other side I never feel good enough.  I keep thinking that she gave me life and raised me and how can I ever compare to that?  I never feel like I have done enough and it makes me sad that she has to struggle with me.  And some days I can't even afford to do a nice thing for her like take her to the movies because I don't have any money.  I feel like I went to school to make a better life for myself, and for her and we are worse off than before.

My friend did remind me of something.  Despite the feeling of  loneliness that I feel I am not totally alone.  I have the support of friends and family that really do help a lot.  Heck, I live with my Aunt and Uncle.  Without them my mom and I would be living on the streets.  And don't get me wrong, I am thankful, even though I know I don't show it as much as I should to both friends and family.  However, I still feel overwhelmed and I still feel like in the end my mom is my responsibility.

But I try to honor my mother as much as I can.  The truth is, now I can't even imagine if my life were another way.  Deep down inside I know that taking care of my mom is part of my charge.  They say God never gives us more than we can handle, but many times I feel like I am teetering on that edge of sanity. So as I am going on my purpose driven life I am trying to figure out how my mother and the responsibilities that I have for her will fit in.  Surely, God would not give me a dream to pursue unless it fit in with making sure she is cared for right?


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Be a Blessing to Others

God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty.
                           ----  Peter Marshall  (Courtesy of brainyquote.com)


Going through problems can put you in a lonely space.  You can be so down and frustrated that you become consumed with your own thoughts.  Yet I find that sometimes in those same moments that I can actually be a blessing for someone else.  I want you all to consider how you too can be a blessing to others, despite whatever you may be going through.

It doesn't take a grandiose gesture to be a blessing.  Sometimes it comes in a small delivery.  Last night I sent an email to a minister who I have never met but really inspired my recent journey and even this blog.  And it turns out my email was a blessing to him!  Little ole me blessing a minister?  Yes.  Just last week I decided that I was going to wish my friends a great second half of their day.  It turns out that a few of them really needed it :)  It is a small thing to do that took me maybe one minute to do.  

With all this free time I have being unemployed I like to volunteer at a soup kitchen in Baltimore.  I usually bring my mom and she actually helps with little instruction. And she doesn't complain too much which is a blessing enough to me!  I actually feel my happiness when I am volunteering, even when most of the time I am just washing the dishes.  This is kind of ironic actually as I HATE washing the the dishes lol.  But being able to serve those who are less fortunate than me is such a blessing.

One story I will never forget happened in high school.  I decided that for Valentine's Day that I was going to give out Valentine's to everyone I saw until I ran out.  They weren't really particularly special, just the same ones that kids give out to each other.  It was something that I had forgotten about until a few years ago when I re-joined Facebook.  I received a message from one of my friends.  She was always picked on in school and I always felt bad for her.  She told me how she never had forgotten about that Valentine's Day card that she received and that it had really made her day.  Who knew that I was passing out blessings back in the day?

I guess I am writing all of this to remind myself, and you, that you can still be a blessing to others despite your own personal circumstances.  And maybe, just maybe, that if you allow yourself to think about someone else then it will take away some of your own burdens as well.  What blessings have you brought others when you least expected it?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thinking About my Dad

This post was actually going to be in my journal.  I go back and forth between my journal and posting on here.  I don't want to tire you all out with my thoughts :)  Before I began writing in my journal I had thoughts about how exciting it is to work on finding my purpose.  Everyday, I look forward to reading my books and everyday I feel closer to figuring it all out.  It provides with a bit of peace of mind in a day full of jumbled thoughts and emotions.  My journal has been addressed to God for the past few years.  I kind of call it my prayer journal.  So today I went to write the date and I realized that my Dad would have turned 56 today.

I briefly wrote about my Dad in one of the first few posts.  I don't really talk about him that much either, not because it brings me a lot of pain, but I just don't.  My Dad died of cancer when I was in high school.  Although it happened quickly in the end he had had cancer on and off for the past few years of his life.   Thinking back I was probably closer to my Dad than I was to my Mom.  My Dad was kind of quiet and funny and had a dry sense of humor that I picked up.  He was smart and caring and forced me to become this independent person I am today.

I find that sometimes I crave my Dad more than when I was younger.  I wish I had the insight of a parent.  I wish I could ask him questions about his childhood, about my childhood.  I wish that he could take away some of the burdens that I have.  Shoot, sometimes I wish I could just sit down and watch a movie with him or that he would let me drive the cart as he was golfing.

My Dad also did a lot for the community.  I didn't realize how much of an impact he had until he had died.  It wasn't until I had an epiphany a few years later that my Dad planted a seed in me to continue his work in the community.  That is the source of my foundation, and maybe the source of my frustration.  Because if I am supposed to hold the torch for my father's legacy I feel that at this moment I am letting him down.  Everyone says that my Dad is looking down on me and his proud of my accomplishments.  And sometimes I have dreams about him that make me feel that his presence is never too far away.  And maybe this will provide me comfort in thinking that maybe he did witness my graduations from high school, college, and law school.  And maybe he was there for my first heartbreak.  And perhaps he sees me struggling now to take care of my mom and he thinks that I am doing a good job.  And maybe just maybe he already knows what my mission is and that whatever it is that I am going to excel.  Because of any of these things are true maybe my journey with all of its pleasure and pain is worth it.

I love you Dad!

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Dream Giver

A few posts ago I mentioned that I am reading The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson.  I am not done reading it yet, but I thought I would share some insight.  The book starts with a parable about a person named Ordinary.  Ordinary one day has a Big Dream and decides to accomplish it, but there are many attempted blockages in his path.  As simple as this parable is it is a spot on interpretation of the what happens when one tries to pursue their own dreams.  You are faced with doubt, the unwillingness to leave your own comfort zone, and you find that even the people closest to you can try to stop you from your dreams, or as one friend said "people will try to punch holes in your happiness."

When I think about the things that I have wanted to do in life or maybe dreams I have had before it makes me wonder how often someone has tried to block my own dreams.  It is also makes me nervous.  Have I been the person to block other people's dreams?  I started thinking about this journey that I have decided to take to figure out  my purpose.  What if it is big, hard, unusual?  Will people then start to block my dreams?  Maybe some people wonder why I am even trying to figure out my purpose now.  I am sure people question my relationship with God and my beliefs.  Some people might think that I am a bible thumper, and other people might think that I am a sad excuse for a Christian.  I guess it is scary to think that when I figure out what it is that I am supposed to be doing if I will have the strength and the courage to not just be a Somebody and to leave the Land of Familiar and step out on faith?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dating Part 1

I really almost called this part two because it is a continuation from the last post, but I will just call it part 1 for now.  I am sure that there will be many parts to come lol.

So a few days ago (Wednesday), I get a really nice text message from an unknown number.  It said something to the effect of, "I was just thinking about you.  I hope your day is as beautiful as you."  My reply, "Thanks, who is this?".

So a little back story...I am a number deleter.  I will delete numbers quickly and frequently.  In my mind it is an out of sight out of mind thing.  Meaning, that if I don't have that person's number in my phone then I don't think about them and I won't contact them.  I am the kind of person that will contact just about anyone to pass the time.  As I get older, I have realized that not everyone is entitled to my attention.

Back to the story... He told me his name.  I had kind of guessed it was him.  He then proceeds to ask me when we could hang out so said Saturday.  He ended the text conversation by saying that he would call me later that evening about our plans.  So the time is 4:38 pm on Saturday.  Of course this fool never called me nor have I heard from him since Wednesday.  And I had the feeling he was going to be sketchy anyway, hence why I had deleted his number in the first place.  But why am annoyed?  I had met this guy once and he was ok.  I can't say that I was particularly attracted to him, but he seemed like a nice enough guy.  My friend had a really good point when she said that I shouldn't bother with people I am not interested in just because I am bored.

And maybe, just maybe, God really does want me to be single. I mean every guy that is a potential prospect is being pushed out of my life one way or the other.  I guess it is time to listen...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Single is as single does

I'm single.  I mean completely, no potential suitors single.  Am I ok with this?  Kind of?  What do I mean?  To think about it I have been single most of my life.  In the past few years I only really started dating.  Yes, I am a late bloomer, but I don't think that that makes me any better or worse of a person.  I just got out of a two year on and off relationship a few months ago.  Each day gets a little bit better, but it is a a lot harder to deal with than I expected.  I miss that sense of companionship I miss the laughs that we used to share.  Fortunately, anytime I start getting sentimental I become angry.  I am angry at him for not appreciating me, for not fighting for me when times were difficult, for taking the easy out when times were hard.  I am mad at myself for overlooking so many red flags and trying to make him "the one" when he wasn't.

So now I am single and my perspective on love and dating has changed significantly from two years ago.  Now I realize some things that are deal breakers.  Now I pretty much know if someone is for me or not when I first meet them.  I know what I want and don't want and I am ok waiting for it.

But dating is so frustrating!  I keep having the same conversations with my friends about men.  Mainly, that women have put up for with less than they deserve for quite sometime.  We require very little from men just so that we have someone that we can call "ours".  We substitute "hanging out" for a proper date.  In the name of feminism we open our own doors and walk on the side of the street where we could be pushed into oncoming traffic.  What happened to us?  And how do we get back to old-fashioned courting?  That's what I want.  Do you know I have never gotten flowers on a date?  I would love a guy to plan a date that required some listening to my preferences as opposed to him saying "what do you want to do".

Back to me being ok with being single.  I am.  I have faith that the right person is out there for me.  The past few days I have been free from several distractions which has made me do a lot of reflecting.  My reflection time allowed me to really starting pursing my purpose driven life.  So right now that is my focus.  I feel that I need to deal with me and the the aspects of my life before I can even get a relationship.  This is where I stand... at least for now :)

Oh and check this out:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igCj3jsbcqs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

The Purpose Driven Life

The past week in church the sermon really made an impact on me.  The main message was talking about trying to figure out what your purpose is.  Let me first go back before we move on.

I was/am in a precarious state.  I lost my job about a year and half ago.  I live with my family.  I try to support and take care of my mom who has Multiple Sclerosis.  I don't say all this for sympathy or for a gold medal in sympathy.  I mention it because it really encompasses what I have been going through the past few years.  I am not going to lie it has been rough.  There are days when I just want to give up.  There have been days when I don't want to get out of bed.  Sometimes I wish that was invisible and that I could disappear.  To put it simply, there are a lot of challenges that I am having and I am not always in the best of spirits despite my attempts.

So back to the sermon.... I realized that maybe part of my despair comes from not knowing my own purpose.  When my dad died I was sure that my purpose was to help people.  My dad did a lot of work in the community and I truly thought that it was my purpose to carry on his work.  I majored in Government and Politics, went to law school, thought I was going to be the first female black president of the United States all for the sake of helping people on a grand scale.  I thought that by being a child advocate for children in the child welfare system that I was making a small impact, but then I lost my job.

But being unemployed really makes you doubt everything you thought about yourself.  I never was one of those people who tied my self-worth into a job title.  However, when you don't have a title you realize how much of an importance we place on it.  Suddenly I felt that I was useless, a waste of space, and unimportant.  It even became linked to my love life.  I felt like I was unlovable. I mean who wants to to be in love with someone who can barely even support themselves right?  I felt that God didn't love me.  I felt that I was disappointing him because I wasn't carrying out my purpose.  I didn't feel like I was helping anyone when while I didn't have a job.

So this sermon made me realize I need to do a couple of things.  First, I need to really work on my relationship with God.  I have been saying this for days, months, years.  I am going to go to church more, check.  I am going to read the bible and pray more and go to bible study...*crickets*.  So the day after church, I actually opened my bible and started reading and I wrote in my journal and reflected.  The next day I started reading the Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.  I find myself everyday excited to read the next chapter.  Ready to get my life in order.  Today I checked out The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson.  I truly feel as if I am on the road to figuring out the point of it all.


**I go to Bridgeway Community Church.  To see the message that I am referring to go here:  http://www.bcctv.org/player  Select 8/5/12***

In the beginning...

I have been meaning to start a blog for awhile, but I have been hesitant.  I feel like the explosion of the Internet and social media makes everyone think that their opinions matter.  I think that everyone has developed a narcissistic look at the world.  It makes people hide behind their screens and fake names.  Maybe it is more dangerous than before.

But still I am writing.  Why?  I feel that there is a lot on my mind that I need to get out.  Maybe it is therapeutic more than anything.  I type faster than I write.  I hope that someone can relate to some of the things that I am going through and maybe they can find comfort in knowing that they are not alone.

I have had some blogs in the past.  One focused on dating, another focused on my weight loss journey.  Well this is going to be a catch-all, all encompassing blog to document everything that I am going through.  I am trying to figure out the point of it all and how I can grow to become a better me inside and out. Please join me...and enjoy :)