Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Is This My Life?

I have a child who is experiencing a whirlwind year - she started off in Denmark, and for the past three months has been in the Mid-west on an internship. She'll get one week off and then she returns to the South to complete her final year of college. In this past year, she's had ups and downs. The "ups" gave her an appreciation for new experiences, but the downs forced her to reflect and dig deep.

In the digging deep, she may have wondered, "Is this my life?" Have you ever felt like the things you're going through can't possibly be happening to you, like someone swapped your life?

When I go to the farmer's market, I get distracted and sometimes walk away from my cart. There was a time in my distraction I picked up a bunch of spinach and placed it in what I thought was my cart. Imagine my surprise when I got to the checkout and I took out the spinach - which were mine, but the coffee and oranges weren't.  I realized that I had put my items in the wrong cart and had continued pushing the cart as if it was mine.  I only realized it when I went to check out. Now the fun began - I had to find the original owner and my cart. So I walked back to the spinach and I saw a lady wandering aimlessly around. "Is this your cart?" She said "yes;" we made small talk and laughed about this debacle for a second.  I returned her cart to her and proceeded to my cart, which was exactly where I'd left it.

We live our lives as a tale that is told. There's a brevity to our lives, even though it seems so long and intense when we're going through. However, it is your life and it serves a purpose. Remember, God isn't distracted when it comes to you - He's not placing items meant for others in your life; what's in your life is meant for you - warts and all.

........we spend our years as a tale that is told. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalms 90:9,12

Are you seeing how God has placed certain items in your cart? Ever felt like switching experiences with someone else? Ever felt as if your life was the Twilight Zone? Do you see how God has a purpose for you and your circumstances? 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

New Muscles

My life is very interesting in a non-interesting sort of way. When I was 20, I never imagined that I would live the life I now live. For example, I had no idea I'd be on the west coast, that I'd be trying to realize a dream of being a writer, and that I could dig deeper in to God's Word.  Digging deeper in to God's word is a result of knowing that it's good for me, but also because life throws curve balls.  A curve ball represents a significant deviation from a prescribed path. The only way I know how to handle curve balls with any degree of success is with God and His Word.

I've started running on a more consistent basis this year and noticed that I've developed some new muscles - I like this and will continue to run.  In a similar vein, I've attempted to spend more time reading and meditating on God's Word and I've noticed that new muscles are being developed:

  • Pray - It becomes easier to pray when you spend time with God.
  • Trust - I've learned to worry less, believe it or not. This leads to having a calmer demeanor, because so many things are out of my control.
  • Grace - Since I'm a recipient of Gods grace, in my daily life I try to extend this grace to those I come in contact with.
  • Mercy - We all need mercy, especially when it's least expected.
  • Empathy - I understand many things intellectually, but having not walked in someone's shoes does not mean I can't empathize with their circumstances. With God's help this becomes easier over time.
  • Self Control - This one is hard for me; but God usually brings a verse or thought to my mind that stops me from saying or doing what I want. Yet some things have to be said - but I have not mastered the art of tact yet - a muscle waiting to be developed.
  • Acceptance - Of myself, my talents, my features. God did not make any mistakes when He made me.
  • Contentment - This one is tricky; we're all striving to be at the next level. To be content is to be satisfied with what you have right now;  to stop striving (temporarily) and instead to be grateful.
These are just some of the muscles that I've noticed, and I'm sure there's more. The thing about muscles is that they are part of our bodies but if we don't use them they are not developed. In a similar vein, we all have the capacity to exhibit new muscles but they will only show if we take the time to develop them.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans 15:4

What new muscles are you developing? Are you stagnant, saturated or growing?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hair Stories

In our house, we LOVE hair; we may be a tad bit obsessed. In the bathroom, we have a variety of products for all hair types. We have so many hair accoutrements we could open a beauty shop. Anyone  who walks through our door, male and female, benefits from our hair obsession.  We share the wonders of aloe vera and how honey is a great conditioner and lightener. I share the wonders of henna and ayuverdic powders. One daughter experiments with various foods as conditioner, the other one is an oil and water girl. We've learn to enhance any conditioner by adding honey and oil to it. Spray bottles are now a necessity since we've all gone natural. Going natural is what started this hair obsession.

Prior to moving to the West Coast, we permed because it was easy, cost effective and it allowed us to have a degree of healthy long hair.  In NY, a touch-up was $45.00 (including the conditioner and style) and a wash and set was $10.00 dollars on Wednesdays.  With these prices I never washed my hair or my daughters'. In our neighborhood there was a proliferation of Dominican and Haitian shops; I tried all of them and eventually settled on the Dominicans. I went through a phase of hair breakage when I was growing up and I never wanted this for my daughters, so going to the hair dresser became a regular ritual.

Imagine our shock when we moved to the West Coast; initially it was a crisis - WE HAD TO GET OUR HAIR DONE. We were able to find someone in the San Fernando Valley (SFV); the price was $65.00 all inclusive, but she did not know how to style. I've paid every price point when it comes to hair, but I just couldn't bring myself to commit approximately $100.00 * 3 every 6-8 weeks. Eventually we travelled in to Inglewood to get our hair done and for a while were satisfied, but I couldn't take the smell of burning hair on the way home.

My oldest daughter went off to college - an HBCU, around the same time I became aware of the natural hair movement. I suggested she stop perming, she embraced it and hasn't looked back since. Once she embraced being natural, the 2nd daughter, the one with the thickest hair where perms were always an ordeal said. "O, you can do that?" and she too wholeheartedly embraced being natural.

I was still perming, and at this point I thought if they can do it, why not I? So I visited my hair dresser one last time in Inglewood and told her what I was thinking. She said, "It's easy - just stop perming."  She also suggested I visit her every 2 weeks so she could press my roots and again I thought that's not cost effective, so I decided to just let it grow out. One Saturday I cut off about 6 ins of permed ends. From that point on, I've been experimenting with my hair and for the most part loving it.

The Little One has never had a perm and more than likely will never get one. She said, "I used to want a perm but I didn't know what it was; now I don't want one."  Made me think - I wonder if little girls want perms because of the outcome while not realizing what the chemicals do to the hair.

The  Natural Young Ladies in My Life
That's our hair story - the condensed version. Had we not moved we more than likely would not all be natural today. We're all happy we did it. I do not miss going to the salon on a regular basis for my hair. I've found styles that work for me - but I've realized it's not about the style. You were always you before you changed your hair. So if you're confident, it's not difficult going natural at all. No additional self love is required, you should have that already.

What's your hair story?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Come Apart

When I lived in NY, it was relatively easy to send my children down to Jamaica for the summer. We started doing this when the oldest was around 8 and the youngest 5 (at that time there was no #4). My mother in law came up with this brilliant idea, and we looked at each other and said, "Why not?" Sometimes they travelled unattended, or they went down with a family friend. That first summer, I rested and worked. I did not go gallivanting or painting the town red - I didn't have the energy to do so. It felt so good to come home, take my shoes off, remove my bra and just sit down and do absolutely nothing. Since it was just me and my husband, we didn't make a big deal about dinner.  I really got tired of everyone looking at me as if I had two heads when I said the children were away for the summer. Invariably the next question was, "Don't you miss them?" Of course I missed them but that didn't mean I didn't need a breather. That first summer, I was so exhausted I honestly didn't miss the children until a week before they were scheduled to come home. Looking back, I'm glad we did this as they got exposure to another culture (in addition to everything else) and my husband and I got a chance to reconnect.

My In-laws are divorced, so every year there was a struggle or a dance as to how Granddaddy would get to see the grand kids. Until I was involved in this, I never knew this existed. It was awkward for my husband but he wanted to ensure that the children knew both grand parents and they did.

Now that I live in CA, its not so easy to send the little one down (#4), so this year I went with her. She's like an only child, so she spends alot of time around older people.  Her Step-grandfather drills her everyday on geography and spelling and she enjoys it. Grandmother dotes on her.

This is the first time that I've come to Jamaica by myself. My husband will do the 50th year independence celebration and come down and pick her up. Typically, he's my tour guide but this time, I'm hanging with my mother in law.

At Goblin Hill,, Port Antonio Jamaica
The older children are growing up and trying to find their way; I'm in Jamaica on vacation, but still working and plotting what I will do with the rest of my life. I have time to relax and reflect in a beautiful place. I find that if I don't come apart and rest awhile then I will come apart!

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them,“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

Are you resting? Do you feel the need to take a break from everything around you including your offspring? When was the last time you took a break? Do you deal with grandparent divorce wars?

PS - I'm having all sorts of weird problems with networkblogs and disqus, but please continue to read and follow.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Any time I'm flying and we run in to turbulence, my instinctive reaction is to close my eyes and grab the hand of the person sitting next to me.

Turbulence is unexpected, unsettling, unnerving, unrest.

In flying lingo its "violent or unsteady movement of air or water or some other liquid; instability in the atmosphere."

We go through turbulence in life don't we?

  • When you're job hunting but there's no job in sight
  • When you have more bills than cash at the end of the month
  • Dealing with a sudden death of a loved one
  • Sickness
  • A difficult relationship
  • A tenuous time in your marriage when you seem disconnected
  • When your children are disrespectful 
  • When it seems like everyone is against you

The next time you're going through turbulence, don't go it alone.  Close your eyes and reach out to Someone who can guide you through.

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. 
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? 
The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. Psalms 118: 5-8

Are turbulent times getting the best of you?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


I have a daughter who has entered the working world this summer.  She's away from home, works long days and at the end of the day she's exhausted.

She called me totally in awe of me and surprised:
"How do you do it?  How did you do it?  You worked 8-5 and then you came home and cooked real meals. You didn't do this once a week, you did it for years.  I'm in awe of you, seriously.  After work, I'm so tired.  You know what I'm having for dinner a Lean Pocket.  I said,  "Well I couldn't have given you lean pockets for dinner."  She continued, "I'll never say you do nothing again.  You are Superwoman." I was practically left speechless.

I never set out to be Superwoman - I don't even claim the title willingly.  I do know that once I had children, something clicked in me and I decided I would do what I had to do.  Anything that seemed impossible, became doable. Of course we are products of our environments, so I did what I saw my mother do with eight children. She planned meals for days in advance - I modified this to something that would work for my lifestyle.  She eventually stayed home, I never did.  She baked and cooked; cooking was enough, I didn't have time for baking. Laundry never ended and while I applaud minimalist thinking I've found with 4 children it's better to have more underwear than less as it reduces the frequency with which I have to do laundry.

I determined that I would never complain, no matter how tired I felt. I would not become a frumpy mother either - I would always look like I took time with my appearance.   I never bought sodas, and we did not eat fast food on a regular basis.  Many days at work, that focused look during a meeting was me figuring out the quickest way to get dinner on the table and also remembering that I had to make a stop at Walmart before going home. Honestly, when I look back, I don't know how I did it.

I appreciated the sentiment of my child calling me blessed!

Hang in there parents; do what you need to do.  Do the best you can with what you are given; stay open to trying new things, talk to other mothers and parents who have the same values as you and relax.  I didn't know this when I was raising them, but I know this now.

Are many of you at the stage where your children rise up and call you blessed?