My millennial struck again.
She called filled with concern, that she was growing apart from a friend who she had previously shared common interests and time with, and wanted to know what to do.
She had to ask… so here goes!
Friendships, can be full of exhilaration and life! You spend hours on the phone talking about all kinds of things, you see eye to eye about mutual interests and concerns, and you pledge to have each others backs, no matter what. Weeks turns to months which turns to years, and it seems this will be someone who will be around for a lifetime. And it may very well be.
But what if it isn’t? The reality is this- MOST friendships do not last forever because interests shift, growth happens and your friend or you, aren’t always able to adapt or grow at the same pace which creates a chasm of discomfort no matter how hard we try to do otherwise.
When our mommas said that we are blessed to have one, maybe Two good friends, she was not lying. Rare is the person, that can withstand the ebb and flow of life with you into a ripe old age.
The added pressure of knowing what your purpose is and going full steam ahead while your friend is content to float along the river of life, makes for an interesting conversation down the road too.
So here are my two cents worth of advice-
- Stay honest first with yourself and then with your friend. When you feel distance happening, have the conversation, not from a place of accusations or guilt. It will be uncomfortable but it must happen.
- Don’t fester and make assumptions with forced small talk. A true friend will not want to anchor you with a rope of guilt so they can feel better about sitting sedentary while you have goals.
- Cry. Sometimes when the separation comes, it fills you with hurt and a sense of loss. Let the tears flow and keep walking in love.
- It could get ugly, because some folks do not know how to use their adult words to express that they are hurt and will instead lash out to make a clean break. That is messy in a way, neither party may soon recover from so see #1 again.
- Know that your journey in life will not always have someone by your side and be okay with that too. The wildernesswalk is effective in allowing us to become more in touch with ourselves without the well intentioned distractions of opinions.
- What you put into the world, will come back to you, so as you grow and change, others will be sent along the path, to meet you where you are in that period
- Our job is to never carry the burdens of others who refuse to carry their own. We must rid ourselves of the notion that it is okay to push, pull and tug in an effort to not “leave” folks behind. They have feet. They can either walk with you or stand back.
I hope this helps because Lord knows, it is a journey we must all take, one way or another. How you both handle it, determines if have a friend, foe or frenemy.
Walk in the light-
Deuces and mad love,
Listen…. I have NEVER been shy about taking risks or exploring new things and so when some friends took me to dinner to celebrate my birthday a month ago and the conversation shifted to doing something fun in the middle of winter, we played around with a few locations and struck gold when I blurted that I had never visited New Orleans..
We picked dates that worked for us all and discovered we would be there during Mardi Gras which none of us had experienced! So, right there at the dinner table, my friend Kelly called a friend she knew Jerry, who attended every year for the last 24 years and he proceeded to give us a list of great places to stay and told us to call when we arrived so he could gives us details on great places to eat etc.
He said nothing but a word.
The four of us booked flights and chose the Windsor hotel where we stayed in a suite for 4 blissful days..
I wasn’t ready. At all.
We got out those planes, got in cabs and the first clue we had that we walked into something huge? We were not able to be dropped at our hotel because everything was blocked off. So with luggage behind us, we walked several blocks to our final destination..
The first stop was food and boy did we ever eat. There were so many great restaurants to choose from like Oceana, the Ruby Slippers and August to name a few that I knew we would keel over from being so stuffed!! I didn’t have one bad meal there.. We donned our masks and off we went.. Lord have mercy..
All the bloody Mary’s had string beans and bacon in them 😳
I could NOT believe the amount of people we ran into!! Floats were on darn near every street and folks were just happy!!
On day two and the Monday before Fat Tuesday, it got really interesting. We started the day by exploring the beautiful city filled with such culture and endeded up walking 17 thousand steps as public transportation came to a grinding halt amidst the crush of humans everywhere.
We visited the famous French market too..
By nightfall, we were eagerly anticipating the floats that were yet to come through the French quarters and we were not disappointed although the temperature had dropped significantly and we were freezing. All of that was soon forgotten when we saw Clidesdale horses in all their majesty, men walking with flames, the most beautiful floats, marching bands and the air was rife with expectation. Beads flew from the passing floats and folks rushed to retrieve or catch them mid-air
When we stepped out into the street, we were not prepared by what we saw but enjoyed every minute!! There is Jerry in the Blue costume and he worked hard to show us every possible site and ” must see” events. An amazing host that made this journey one to remember and we cannot thank him enough!!
BOURBON STREET??? see for yourself
We even ended up on earth Cam!!
As we trekked back to our hotel at the end of a long day and evening, what we saw in the streets was a strong reminder of what happened that day
It was all gone as if by magic in the morning.. The city returned to normal, we packed our bags and some of those beads and took flights home after taking time to thank each other for a wonderful trip that we will not soon forget.
If you have never experienced Mardi Gras, please add it to your list of things to see and do!!
Dear Black girl-
I have been watching your growth and contentment in the last few years and wanted to share with you, just how far you have come and the obstacles you leapt, with such faith in your almost five decades on earth. You see, you were born in a time and place where girls were not encouraged to be seen or heard and from your earliest memories, you bucked that trend to the detriment of your behind. You remained respectful but steadfast in a culture that expected you to grow up, learn all the social graces like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ so that you could get a decent job and marry a good man.
You instinctively knew that while you desired a good mate and wanted to be a mother, your desire to activate change for others was an ever present feeling you carried. And so, you did just that- spoke up, helped where you could and declared to your father at the age of nine, that you would do great things with your life.
If only you knew the journey it would take for you to get there and I still believe, you would not have changed a thing.
Do you remember the time when a boy told you that you were too opinionated and that you needed to have a man who would beat you and keep you barefoot and pregnant? Do you remember your sassy response to him? Today, he looks at you in awe as he got what he desired; the woman who would do whatever he said, even to her own detriment. You knew you deserved better by someone who would love you wholly, just as you were.
And so as a young adult, after confounding everyone around you, you struck out on a journey of self discovery and learned the hard way, that even the ones who said they loved you, had no idea what to do with all the energy you brought to the table. so you married and divorced. You had two beautiful babies and instinctively knew, raising them well, would be the best thing you could do for them and society at large.
You were told a thousand times what you could NOT and should not do; each time, you followed your gut instincts and moved ahead in prayer. the end results have been nothing but astounding. You understood that ‘belly- aching’ about a problem solved nothing and you also learned that everything happens for a reason and extracted the lessons you learned from each mishap in your life.
You learned beautifully, that building authentic relationships with others is the doorway to getting things done. You learned that doing things on your own was counterproductive. You learned the language and code words people used when they were scared of your presence and energy that floated into a room behind you.
You learned not to be naïve. You learned to have a vision and then work towards it. Vision boards are your friend.
That is you below after learning how to pit a race car and in the cockpit of an F-16 fighter jet about to take the ride of your dreams!! Who would have ever thought that? You have taught others not to ever limit themselves.
You learned to say NO when others said yes andYES, when most said no. You learned that the path less travelled, while much more difficult to traverse, lead to greater rewards. Doors have been opened for you on a national scale and you have been in the presence of those who have made huge strides for human kind. You have mentored and have been a mentee. You learned you do NOT have a poker face and it is okay.
You understood the value of having siblings who while they love you, would hold you accountable and honest in your actions and you knew they were blessings..
You embraced your health and well being by exercising regularly and because you love good food, that is a good thing. In that process, it became clear that you are not just mentally strong but physically and that too confounded many. You can flip 300 lb. tires, lift barns, push half a ton and the list goes on. you embraced climbing trees and haven’t found one that was too much of a challenge. You even climbed in flip flops!!
You understood the value in the wisdom of our elders and embrace them lovingly..You even got into serious trouble as a child, climbing trees to pick coconuts and using a machete to open it, all for the elderly man who had a heart condition. You gave YOUR own father a heart condition once he learned about THAT!
You learned that great friendships are like a balm to the soul and that laughter keeps you young at heart. You embraced being almost 6 ft. tall with zero apologies
You learned to accept people where they are and move on in love which meant holding no grudges. You are tenacious in ways that has been liberating because you understood that failure did not mean the end and kept going. You learned that without a strong knowledge of your culture and ethnicity, you were bound to accept other peoples definition of you and so you are not only steeped in your own, you are a voracious reader of others and embrace the differences we bring to the table.
when you got tired of fighting with hair, you made a declaration,cut that sucker off and remain blissfully natural, all the happier for it. You are no longer a slave to spending ten hours in a hair salon. Being black is no joke out here. And after all of that, the love you so needed, shows up and did everything in his power to convince you that marrying him would be an awesome thing. Took him several years but here you are and honey, you are glowing! The failed relationships taught you what you didn’t want, what you needed and that you had to always be your own work in progress so that you could take ownership of your own flaws.
I could go on and on but it all comes simply down to this- I am so proud of you and want to acknowledge your journey thus far.
rock on #blackgirl- rock on.
One of the things my mother would say to me consistently as a teen and more vociferously when I became an adult was this; I PRAY that you are ‘blessed’ with a child who behaves JUST LIKE you!
I used to grin and say to myself ” how bad can it be? I was pretty awesome as a kid.” I was soon to find out just what my mother meant and no matter how many times I apologized to her and God, it seems I had no choice but to re-live my childhood through this second child of mine.
It all began when he was about 81/2 months old… He started learning how to walk after being born premature at 32 weeks and 3lbs. He should have been behind his peers right? Wrong. He would make his way to the refrigerator, open the door, open the egg carton, squeeze the eggs until they crushed in his fingers, close the carton and close the door.
His brother who was 4 years old, got in so much trouble because never could we have imagined it was the baby! Until one day when I turned the corner to the kitchen and caught him in the act..
I called my mother horrified and she cackled, thanked God for small mercies and hung up on me..
It only got better.. He would swing fearlessly from all kinds of things and people would marvel at his tenacity and strength. He would stubbornly tackle the toughest projects even when warned not to, so as a direct result, he and I would constantly butt heads at home.
We live in a community where our ethnicity makes up less than 25% of the population but my kid was not deterred and made friends with everyone. Many of his current friends are of Jewish descent and their parents love him dearly. He has been to more Bat mitzvahs than a few and I consistently hear how delightful and well behaved he is.
So a few years ago when he was around thirteen, he was on punishment at home and instead of allowing him to place the dishes in the dishwasher, I made him hand wash, dry and put them away.
As the tears were quietly rolling down his cheeks and I’m moving around him, he lost his composure and blurted ” I wish I was born Jewish! Those parents are so much nicer than black ones!”
I turned, looked at him and said ” well guess what buddy, you were assigned to be black and more specifically, to be MY child. Suck it up and finish those dishes!”
I went to my bedroom, closed the door and laughed until I cried…all I could think was ” help him lord and me while you are at it so he can grow up unscathed.”
He will be 18 in a few short weeks and heading off to college. We are both still in one piece but I’m going to give him the gift my mama gave me all those years ago; I wish for him, a child JUST like him when the time comes and that I am alive and well
To enjoy what I know for SURE will be his phone calls of apologies..
Aaaargh!!!! ” I need to graduate soon!”
This delightful statement came from the mouth of my 21 year old son who is slated to graduate from College in May 2014. I poked my head in his room against my better judgement and said coyly, “not soon enough for me buddy! Hurry up already so you can get out and stay out for good this time!!” He looked at me, smiled and shook his head all while he fully understood where I going with that statement..
Hang tight for a minute as I take you through the journey of getting a child in AND through college. It was not a painless process and I am not talking about money either although we all know what it costs to keep a child in higher Education. There is a myriad of reasons so many children start but never finish college that has nothing to do with finances..
Four short years ago, we watched with joy as this first child of mine applied for his top schools, got into his favourite institution and had such “senioritis” at the end of his high school journey, I thought I would have to tie him down somewhere before he imploded with impatience. All I could see was one down- one to go before my nest was empty and I began getting him prepared to leave my house, hopefully never to return except for holidays.
So off he went. We got to the school, unloaded the cars and helped him to set up his dorm. I could see his brother getting quieter as each moment went by that took us closer to leaving his sibling on campus and away from him for the first time ever. I could hardly help him because my eyes got fuzzy and this lump grew in my throat that no amount of swallowing could fix. I held it together, we kissed him goodbye and as we traversed down that highway for the long drive home, his brother silently cried. I consoled him by saying his brother would call or text often yada, yada, yada..
I walked in the house, curled up in my bed and cried for three solid days. No amount of words could console me and even as I write this piece, I feel the tears returning at the memory. My ex-husband made me laugh a tiny bit when he said ” stop the crying, he is fine. If he flunks out, we will both be crying at the thought of all that money down the drain!” Men…. By ” family and friends day” on Campus, we were all a little better and by Thanksgiving, when he got home, I was so ready for him to leave because he had adapted to living on his own and drove me nuts.
He ran into a couple of snags dealing with campus cultural insensitivity but aside from that, he kept those grades up and developed a social life which included joining the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. Year one and two were pretty easy. We barely saw him and that worked just fine. The issue we did not foresee, was how much his leaving would affect his younger brother who spiralled in a way that affected his grades. It was hellish on this end, trying to understand what was going on because he ( younger son) never alluded to what was bothering him until I had just had enough and grounded him for a really bad grade. That ended well once we had clarity and I would put him on a train to go and visit his older brother once in a while, which made him so happy.
Then, it happened. In October of year three, something Took place we had no clue about except when he came home for Thanksgiving, he was withdrawn and miserable. No amount of asking resulted in an answer except this; ” I am so over being there. Can I just transfer to another campus?” When I dug a little deeper, still no definitive answers, so we sent him back to school after the break with the solution that he would see his advisor and discuss his options for transferring. By the second week in December, his father and I received a call that stopped our hearts and without another thought, we both went flying up that highway to find him. What we were told was gut wrenching to say the least and we made the decision on the spot, that he was to be transferred immediately after some discussion with him. The school was very helpful in part, because they were very aware of what happened and did not contact us. Their reason? These kids were over 18 and since nothing happened physically to our child, it was assumed all was well.
In short order, he was transferred to a campus near home and it was decided he would not get an apartment but stay with us until he was ready. He started classes on time, took all his tests, took courses over the summer and got a coveted job working for a company he always admired. He has saved all his money while eating all my food, using all my electricity and amenities and found his way to the place where he is graduating on time before his 22nd birthday.
Some lessons we learned along the way that many parents could do well to heed:
- Don’t cling as your child leaves for college but DO pay attention to what they may need
- Give them room to explore and find new avenues of growth
- Pay attention to simple signs that something may be wrong when they are not behaving in the manner you are accustomed to
- Do not try to solve all their problems. Let them find their way with Advisors etc. We allowed our son to make those decisions and it empowered him to be his own advocate when he needed support.
- See how the siblings left behind are faring. Chances are, this truly affects them too.
- Pray and do not stop praying when they are out of your sight. Things happen in Colleges that parents are not often aware of until it is too late.
- Keep your child grounded with solid expectations. It works.
The time is now upon us where my youngest child is getting ready to head off to College and this time, armed with what I do know, I can’t wait to get rid of him too.. Hallelujah for the empty nest!!
Recently, a well known radio Disc Jockey called and asked this question of me; “Do you think children are being socially promoted by schools even when it is clear they are not ready to move forward and just how prevalent did I think this behaviour was in School Districts across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania?’ What ensued was a discussion rich with data and comparisons from one State to next, which then led to the public school system, what was being expected of the children within it and these new mandates every few “seconds.” The family that understands how to navigate their way through, will have successful children no matter what the income level and Education of the parent/guardians. It boils down to simply this; if you are visible, it makes a huge difference for your child.
Our discussion then led to the often perceived “low expectations” of children of color, especially if they enter a new school from an urban setting. Time and again, we see children who were tested as gifted, being questioned about the authenticity of said title and made to go through that process all over again which is not only demoralizing, it is often wrong. We discussed how parents get discouraged an opt to leave their bright child in a regular setting instead of forcing the issue.
And then we went there.
The subject of well educated parents of color who moved into the suburban settings, bought the big home, had their children in a great school district but are never visible. Unless of course, it was football, basketball or any sporting event where they are found in large numbers, cheering on their athletes. If one tries to locate those same parents for many other activities, they are often difficult to find.
Whomp.Whomp. We both acknowledged that not all parents are this way obviously but is incredibly noticeable.
I could not disagree. I tried to, but history says otherwise. Which begged the question; why is that? Are we still in the ” I paid good money to live here and the schools better educate my child?” Or is it ” I am really not feeling comfortable with asking certain things or knowing where to go, so let me not show up at all?” It could even be just total apathy on many levels. One thing is for certain; Many parents are not as visible for PTA or many school held meetings on any topic that may benefit the children but the numbers are worse for parents of color.
My youngest son has a role in the school play and when parents were asked to volunteer a few hours on a Saturday for set building etcetera, I bounced in only to see I was one of one. It stayed that way for the entire time I was there too. Oh by the way? He is in the 12th grade. Parent involvement should not cease at Elementary school.
For well over a decade now, we have been beating the consistent drum on parental engagement and have been known to hold schools accountable when history have shown them to discourage family participation, and families where there has been apathy that leads to, in my humble opinion, unnecessary suffering of their children. If research has clearly shown that all you need to do as a parent is be visible 30 minutes a month in word or deed, what stops us from doing so? Can we then totally blame the schools for what is ailing our children who we clearly know, follow more of what we do and less of what we say?
Can we then totally blame an institution for our children and their lack of progress? The old adage ” The squeaky wheel gets oiled” is still very true; we need more of you to be visible through emails, phone calls, volunteering from home or in school and just any simple task that leads to the educators knowing who you are.
So while we are in the middle of holding schools accountable, take a little time to hold our own feet to the fire as well.
Happy New Year and all that jazz.
Life around here has been fun, energetic, nail biting and just so much happening , I have not blogged in a couple of weeks.. Children sat on me for no reason other than it’s the comforting thing to do, We ran around the house laughing about one thing or another and planned the annual Holiday party. Once the holidays are over, the next big thing is my birthday. National holiday I know, but we ran into a serious snag. The Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC Championship and the game against the Saints was slated for, you guessed it, the evening of the national holiday aka my day of birth. So, in true diva fashion, I took to Facebook with a quasi serious experiment; Should I let Mister off the hook for dinner that evening, or should he skip the game all together and take his diva out to dinner?
Keep in mind here, that I had already decided to graciously leave him alone because I do not know another person on earth who is a more die-hard Philly fan than he is. Like, to the extreme. No, really.
Anyhow, the responses to my query bordered on hysterical. Here are a few;
“Take one for the team! He will make it up to you!”
“What? are you nuts? who knows when the Eagles will make the play-offs again? At least your birthday comes every year”
” Give him the day and then let him celebrate you all month”
You get the point. It was a “free Mister” rant for a few days and I laughed at how interesting it all became. When I told them giving him the day was the least I could do since he is awesome 365 days to us, Someone in boxed me privately and said how they wished they had such a love like this, that it was difficult to find a good mate etcetera. I did not disagree and in hindsight, maybe I should have.
There are good, kind decent people all around us and if we do not do the work on ourselves, we may never see them. I took a look at myself many years ago and figured out that I was the common denominator in relationships that went south. It was me who chose to accept things I knew were wrong and once I figured that out among a few other things, not two months later, here comes Mister.
He found me, I was not looking for him. He knew we would be great friends if nothing else and when we became a couple, it was like finding the right piece for a jigsaw puzzle. We shared the same values and took the time to really communicate through the challenging times because lets’ face it good people, they do come. We understood it was really important to like each other before we used the “L” word carelessly.
One of the things I figured out about myself, is that I needed a mate who exemplified who my father was for me as a child, in word and deed. A man who was not afraid to put his family first, protect us and do everything in his power to keep us safe and happy. Mister is such a man. What unleashed in me, was a woman who went above and beyond to put smiles on their faces through my own words and deeds.
The end result has been nothing short of hilarious around here.
Due to the recent weather predictions of 3 degrees with a wind chill of -17, I had the bright idea of making a pot of soup that would last, at least in my head, the entire week. The pot was huge. Like enough to feed a small army huge. I chopped veggies, threw the raw chicken in the pot and got to work. an hour later, the scent of this soup had the entire kitchen humming and I went about the business of finding large containers to store it. Just in case I was off base ( because they can eat like grazing elephants) I also made a double batch of baked Ziti.
Pleased with myself, I left the kitchen and went about my business. When I checked the refrigerator this morning, two thirds of the ziti was gone and one half of that large pot of soup.
I started ranting like a mad woman that this was ridiculous, they had no sympathy that I stood for hours cooking and if they THOUGHT I was going near that kitchen the rest of this week, they had a another thing coming to them. Mister walked into the kitchen somewhere in the middle of this tirade, watched me pointing the long spoon and said ” Dear, I love you but you have more issues than Congress this morning.”
I stopped mid-rant, looked at him like he had ten heads and then doubled over in laughter.
Just like that, crisis averted. He knew just what to do and it worked. I am still not cooking anymore this week. I mean it.
Please bear with me. Just for a few moments.
Early this morning, in an effort to make myself sleepy, I began watching the Real Housewives of Atlanta. I know, poor choice but I figured since they were visiting Savannah Georgia and all its rich historical content, it could not be too bad.
Oh. My. Goodness.
So there I was, listening to a tour guide tell the ladies about the Underground railroad beneath the oldest African American Church in the country and pointed to the tiny holes in the floor where the slaves would put their faces for a little fresh air on their journey. I am sitting there imagining what that must have been like back then, when one of the women, whose name is Porscha, said this; ” How did they fit a train down there?”
I literally fell OUT my bed in horror!!! What?
As the women were patiently explaining to her that what she thought was this
is actually this,
she stood there looking at THEM as if they had no sense but in my head I was thinking ” Any moment now, this will all register to her.”
No such luck. She kept saying things like ” How did they build railroad tracks under the church?” and “How did the trains go through without making too much noise?” My favourite? ” Who was the conductor?” Seriously?
I closed my eyes firmly and could actually see Harriett Tubman’s bones come fully to life as she sat up in her grave and said ” What the fragglenackle? Who is this chile, why is she so ignorant in this day and age and did I really go through all of this and die to have my ears offended after all these years at the end of my struggle?” The visual I caught of Harriet was this and rightly so….Pissed.
I could see her ( Tubman) taking some raggedy, dusty cloths soaked in muddy water and slapping some much need sense into Porscha’s empty head. Pretty and coiffed but empty.
How in the WORLD did this woman ( Portscha) go through all those years of school, had a grandfather who knew all about the Civil rights movement and made a name for himself in the work and she knew zip, zilch, zero, NADA about the underground railroad??? What else did she NOT know? But this is the same woman that said there were 366 days in a year so….This just takes “ratchet” to whole new level…
Porscha can tell you about the latest fashions, how to look beautiful etcetera but has yet to hold a conversation intelligent enough that does not leave heads spinning in horror. I can’t even blame public education because her family should have been certain to impart this most important information to her. I am almost positive they did, so where was her head all those years when the stories were being shared?
That level of ignorance is beyond inexcusable and a lesson in what we all must know about History in order to be clearly present and accountable.. Not just the history of our own culture but to soak in others as well because it all weaves intricately into the fabric of present day.
As I kept watching in suicidal fascination to my poor brain cells, it all began to make sense why Porscha was so dense and had no clue about so many things that should be elementary to the average person. Someone told her, she didn’t have to be anything but beautiful, find a rich husband and be the perfect wife. They did her a huge disservice and the fall- out from that is playing itself out among millions each week.
All I can say is this; do not let Porscha become you. Intelligent conversation is a must. We all want to be examples to others. Just not like this. Never like this.
A child with out an Education, is like a football player without a helmet. Porscha left her helmet at home and this is the end result.
In a candid discourse, he tells me this is long overdue and says his concern is they may not have enough Doctors to cover the amount of people who will come into the system for preventative care. He scoffed at the suggestion that it would be drain on the system to have this law and said what is draining it( system ) now, are the people who can’t afford preventative care that end up in the E.R .which creates a much larger bill that has to be absorbed by those who can pay.