For years, I enjoyed Mother’s Day. It was a perfect time to tell my mom, grandma and aunts exactly what they meant to me. However, in 2001, that all changed. My mother who was my best friend and confidante, died. Life was so different. There was a void that no one and nothing could fill. In time, the pain became a dull ache. But, I don’t believe you ever get over your mother’s death, I believe God gives you grace to get through it.
When I turned 30, I felt like my life was just beginning. I was so excited about 30 being the new 20. I was looking forward to meeting my husband, getting married and having my 2.5 kids. I was excited about my share of the “Good Life”. I didn’t want anyone’s share, just my portion. So I waited patiently for Prince Charming. When I turned 39, I was quickly running out of my 30’s and 40’s looked good professionally, but personally, I was still waiting on Prince Charming, my babies and my piece of the “Good Life”. That year, I realized that Mother’s Day had a different meaning. Mother’s Day became one of those holidays that made me cringe. I didn’t have my mother any longer to celebrate and I hadn’t had any kids so Mother’s Day was quickly becoming a Holiday that I could skip. I would think, I can just stay in the house on this day and sleep or watch movies or just veg out.
To be motherless and childless on Mother’s Day was an albatross around my neck. What was I really celebrating? It was difficult to deal with the grief of missing your mom and the realization that perhaps you will never be a mom.
So what do the single women with no kids and no moms do on Mother’s Day? This year I made up my mind to be and do better. This year I decided to:
We have all heard the phrase… Life Happens. It has been poured over us like warm honey on a cold day. Our mothers, sisters, sister-girls, cousins, best friends, boyfriends, teachers, preachers and even our postman have used it to describe the theory of life! It happens. It (Life) happens in various ways to different people. Sometimes it comes in the form of a tiny new baby that stays woke all night long crying. To others it comes in the form of a new job, or a new house, or a new spouse! Others find that "it" happens at the gravesite when they must wave their final goodbye to a loved one. Some have sensed "it" happening at the end of a hospital bed when the doctor gives heartbreaking news or a terminal diagnosis.
Often after the announcement, the initial feeling of loss or grief, there is a long tunnel in your soul that you are trying to escape. You’re trying to learn to navigate it and get out. Some people start running, figuratively and realistically to get out of the tunnel. But there is no escape. This is the new normal. Life will never be the same after this event, situation, and circumstance. It’s never going to be business as usual. Your normal has changed. It has a new attitude, disposition and focus and it’s NEW.
I remember vividly the day my mother passed away and my normal was made new. I kept saying as I called lawyers to get custody of my sister, “If mom was here”. In my new normal, my mom was not here and I had to learn to navigate the waters alone. I went into survival mode. You know survival mode is known as FIGHT, FLIGHT, or FREEZE.
Fight – You come out of the old normal swinging like your life depends on it, and it does. You come out in full battle gear. Nothing and no one can stop you. You have a singular focus! That focus is to survive. To push with all your might past the tears, the hurt, the depression, the anger, the sadness, the pain and fight like you’ve never fought before. It’s a battle every day and you have determined that you will be the victor. The last woman standing. You Fight!
Flight – You run faster than Forrest Gump! You run like your life depends on it and it does! Some run in the natural realm. They run marathons, they run every morning at the break of day; they run 5Ks every weekend. Some run figuratively as they search for the solution to the new normal at the bottom of a liquor bottle, or the back room of a strip club or at the slot machines at the casino. Some search for it in the refrigerator or their favorite restaurant. Others search for it at the shopping malls, in the latest name brands, at the counter of the phone company. Some believe they have found it, when they get 100 likes on social media. They run, too afraid to stand still and face reality.
Freeze – You stand still. Real still. Almost like if you don’t think about the event, the circumstance, you don’t have to deal with it. You win at the mannequin challenge. You stand in the same spot for years, as life passes in front of you. Your smile is one of yesterday, your memories too. You’re too afraid to move forward. It’s too painful to look back, so you stay glued to the same spot for years. Presidents have changed, Fads have changed, but you my dear friend have remained the same. Stagnated by your new normal.
So what do you do when life happens? What do you do when your normal is new?
Life does happen! No matter how much you loved a relationship or a friendship, it’s bound to change. Sometimes the change is growth and sometimes the change is total loss. When my mom died, I was in fight mode. It was the survival of the fittest. Determined to survive, I stayed in that mode for 15 years. But did you know that you’re supposed to be in FIGHT, FLIGHT, or FREEZE mode for only 1 – 2 hours? 15 years! Embrace your new normal. Accept that facts, whatever they are. My mother is gone. My 10 – year old sister needs me to feed her daily. Those were the facts.
LOOK FOR THE BEAUTY IN THE BAD!
Whew! I rested each day on Romans 8:28. All Things work together for the good of those who love the Lord, who are the called according to His purpose. I realized two things: 1) ALL things worked… So this thing (my mother’s death) was included in all things. 2) I had purpose. Sometimes I still struggle with this one. What I think my purpose is and what God knows my purpose is. But one thing that I did, was constantly look for the good. My mom left a beautiful legacy. She could out sing every bird in the sky. Every morning she woke up with a song. I still do that. I sing in spurts. Answer your phone when I call, I can normally be found singing a song as the phone rings. #TrueStory. My mom loved people. Hence, her profession as a nurse. As a result of her death, I saw so many people that she’d touched, so many lives. I was proud of her. She touched my sister and me and in turn, a wonderful organization was created to honor her memory and we continue her legacy of love, light, and lifting… San’s Child (www.sanschild.org). There is beauty in the bad!
TALK IT OUT!
There is an ugly stigma that keeps us bound in our communities. We hide behind strength. Strength is great. But everyone needs an outlet. I am a proponent of therapy. But if you are not, find a sister friend, a stranger at the library and talk. Yep, I have shared some things with strangers in passing that I haven’t shared with the people closest to me.
This is the new normal. Learn to live with it. Once a life-changing moment occurs in our lives, we are rarely ever the same. #Embraceit, #Lookforthebeautyinthebad, and #Talkitout! Welcome the newness of the #NEWNORMAL. Sometimes our greatest blessings are often born from our brokenness.
Dear Leading Ladies:
In 2016, I learned so much! I pride myself on being a student of life, but I really think it was all a myth in my mind. It sounded good to say it... "Student of Life". I am a Student of Life. Say it with me, I am a Student of Life. Well... what does it really mean to be a student of life? To study life forms, like in biology? Ummm no! To study other people and pick and choose the traits that you like and don't like and then create yourself from the findings? Or does it mean that you study the trends and analyze the years, the days, etc. Heck, I don't know and I said it religiously to myself and anyone else that I thought would listen.
Shakesphere wrote in his play, Hamlet, "To Thine Ownself Be True". If I were to be transparent for just a moment, I would tell you that as I studied my life in 2016, I have learned that I have not been true to myself. Whew! That was a difficult statement to let flow through the keys of my laptop and even more difficult to allow my brain to accept. You see for many years, I have done what was "right", acceptable, the status quo, and basically what others thought I should do.
Now don't get me wrong, there is no dishonor in doing the right thing. But sometimes the right thing is the easy thing. It's the go along to get along thing to do. But you really want to say no thank you! I just want to sit in my house coat all day and have me time by singing Jill Scott and India Arie songs in my mirror. But in my world, doing the right thing was really doing what everyone else thought I should do and not necessarily what I wanted to do.
So about midway through this year, I was asked an important question that I still haven't truly answered. What do you want to do? It doesn't sound like a tricky or profound question at all, however it has been quite difficult to answer. Why? Because I spend a great deal of time focusing on just meeting my needs that when I was asked about wants, I was floored. I want peace on earth of course, but what else?
So as I reflect over the year 2016, I really realize that it has been a study of myself. I have started studying myself by doing just a few things and I would like to share them with you as you enter 2017. Perhaps you will have an easier time answering the question, What do you want? than I did. However, I want to share with you the process I am following.
1) Journal Daily - Journaling is the most cathartic practice in my life. Sometimes I journal, which is just writing your thoughts, for an hour or for 10 minutes. It is a powerful tool that allows you to look back on your life days, weeks, months and years later to see growth and progress. Our thoughts change with each circumstance, with each hardship or piece of happiness that we encounter. Looking back over your notes to see where you were and what you were thinking is the most valuable way to discover YOU! How you reacted to certain situations, how happy certain events, places, people or things made you and how you spent your time can play a part in how you move forward during a new test.
2) Ask yourself daily what do you want? - Ask in terms of personal wants, professional wants, spiritual wants, physical wants, mental and emotional wants. Remember this is not what you need. I always go back to my needs. Think about this question as if resources didn't matter because they are unlimited and you have a continuous supply. Write down all that you WANT and then start making action lists that get you to where you want to go.
3) Find Time for Self-Care - I have heard the term self-care more than a dozen times in the last two weeks. But what does it mean? It means to take care of you. I have a friend who is a care-giver for her younger brother who is suffering from a terminal illness. I asked her one day, what she was doing to take care of herself. Like I thought, she said, "nothing, all my energy goes to my brother". I asked her how could she take care of him and not take care of herself? We have to find time for self-care. That means doing what we need to do to continue our journey. Maybe take yourself to a movie. I like to people watch. I will sit outside of a restaurant or a business and watch people go in an out. Strange, but that's self-care to me. I like to read. I like to write. I like to watch movies and talk to intellectual people. These are all ways that I take care of me. But you may enjoy a workout, a massage, or a trip to the ice cream parlor. Find time for yourself!
Be be true to you in 2017!!! #JustforToday #SweetTee
In ALL things GIVE THANKS. This is the will of the Father Concerning you!
Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday! Why? Because EVERY one of us can find at least one reason to be THANKFUL! I can find numerous reasons. Unlike any other Holiday, the theme of this holiday is just THANKFULNESS! A day to celebrate one another by saying... THANK YOU! A day to remember all of your blessings - great and small.
Thanksgiving is a time to love extra hard on family and friends without pretense. It is a holiday of love. It is the purest form of love ... a basic THANK YOU!
So today and every other day, count your blessings. Remember all the things that you have to be thankful for. This year has been rough for me, but I am THANKFUL for so many things...
1 - A reasonable portion of HEALTH and STRENGTH - Back pains, neck pains and high blood pressure run rampant through my body, but I can still walk around, stand up, sit up, cut a two step and enjoy life. I may move a little slower, but you better believe ... I'M MOVING!
2 - Family - There is truly nothing like family. Sometimes they can make you want to pull out your hair, but there is not a single one of them that I would trade for the world. I have been blessed with a large family. There is never a dull moment with my family. But it makes great WRITING material! Family First!
3- Friends - If you have been blessed to have 2 good friends, you are wealthy. I have 3, so I believe I have far more riches than I deserve. True friendship is rare. In an age of social media followers, and Facebook friends, finding true friendship is becoming increasingly difficult. As a girl scout, I learned that true friends are worth silver and gold, but I have found that true friends are simply PRICELESS!
4 - Employment/Career - Not everyone who wants a job has one. For gainful employment, I am thankful! I may not have my dream job, but I can continue to work on it until I reach that point.
5- Passion/Purpose - There is nothing in the world like having a purpose that burns a hole in your bed and wakes you up each morning. I tell people all the time, passion is that thing that you love so much, you would do it for free! It drives you and when you have put in the work, it satisfies you!
6- JESUS CHRIST - Though I write this one last, it is the highlight of my life. Without CHRIST, I am nothing. Without the anointing, there is no purpose in my life. It is a pleasure to serve a living God, who knows all about us and yet still loves us. If for no other reason, you must be Thankful that you are saved, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. If you know him, stick closer. If you don't know him, I dare you to surrender your life to him. Just ask him to come in where you are, how you are and make you a brand new creature! He can do it! He loves you! He is crazy about you and He is waiting with open arms. There is nothing so horrible that you have done, that you can't be forgiven! Come unto Jesus... Just knowing Jesus sure has paid off in my life. Come to Jesus, while you have time.
The time is ALWAYS right to give THANKS! Happy Thanksgiving my Leading Ladies!