02
Feb

Ocean Therapy

20161025_064938There’s something so soothing about the rhythmic sound of ocean waves caressing the shore. Growing up, I remember sitting on the warm sands of Virginia Beach, my knees pulled up to my chest, allowing all my worries to flow out into the expansive depth before me.  I always enjoyed going to the beach closer to dusk.  Seemed like there was a better chance of finding peace at that time. Most of the tourists had scattered by then, off entertaining themselves at a local club, restaurant, or video arcade.

At dusk, the world seemed so clear.  It was like the ocean was pulling all of the crazy from the day out into the depths of forgiveness. There I would sit, in God’s obvious presence, allowing the sound of the waves to soothe my soul. It was therapy.

Right now it’s 4 am. The sound of the ocean is breaking the silence of the night. However, this time it fails to comfort me. Truthfully, I was initially unimpressed with the sound of waves emitting from the mini speaker on the cell phone. The sound was flat and failed to capture the natural reverberation that impacted my soul with each crashing wave.  However, I grew to accept that the artificial white noise would have to do since the real thing wasn’t an immediate option.

All I needed to do was just set the scene.  I’d turn the thermostat up, pressing the button until it reached at least 75 degrees, and although it wasn’t quite the same, in a closed room it could feel a little like summer. I’d close my eyes, imagine the sun licking my skin, and envision myself sitting on the beach again.

But, not tonight.  No, tonight, the calming ocean effect has been interrupted. First,  the room is chilly, no doubt a result of my husband dropping the thermostat to a cool 70 degrees coupled with the sub-freezing cold that always seems to find its way under and through the locked windows. Secondly, I can barely hear the white noise over the sound of my husband snoring, drowning out any possibility of me drifting off into peaceful slumber.

These white noise simulators are  not like the real thing. As #45 loves to say – “Fake news!”  (lol).

I need a REAL vacation… and, although I love me some him, probably one without the snoring bear beside me. I’m just saying…

(I’m typing on the dark so forgive any typos )

25
Jan

Love Defined

I recently read a blog titled “What to Do When The Person You Want Isn’t the Person You’re With” (shout out to Isis, author of The Goddess Column www.thegoddesscolumn.com) where the idea of pursuing true love, over all things, was so idealistically expressed.

Truly a great blog, but I, uh, beg to differ on that notion. Remember back in the day when rappers used to have a diss album or a battle track? Well, this is not that…just a different perspective on the idea of love.

Call me jaded, but I just don’t think that love is the cure all.

Now, if you had asked me this in my 20s, I would have gotten all dreamy-eyed and agreed wholeheartedly while humming “…something in my heart, something in my heart has got me hooked on you” by Michel’le . Now, I’m singing a different tune as I look back at my youthful optimism and naiveté. Ain’t it funny how life and a couple of marriages have a way of opening one’s eyes?

Sure, love is definitely a must if you want to have an enduring relationship, but I challenge you to ask any woman over the age of 30 her thoughts on this matter, and she’ll likely quote Tina Turner – “What’s love got to do with it?”

The fact of the matter is that love is not all it’s cracked up to be.  It’s not the passionate,  heart pounding, can’t wait to see him/her, stay up on the phone all night until you fall asleep feeling that every tv screen or magazine page sells us.  No, it’s much deeper and dirtier than that.  It’s staying when sometimes you want to leave.  It’s knowing that some days I don’t like you, let alone love you.  It’s about commitment and partnership,  good and bad, better and worse. Sometimes much worse. That, my friend, is true love.

So while some might call this jaded,  this is how I’d define LOVE.

21
Jan

Spiritual Eyesight

There have been many times in my life when I thought I knew what the right thing was, only to find myself in a situation that was not healthy for me. Even more, there have been times when I’ve thrown caution to the wind and willfully walked into situations that I knew were unhealthy, quietly praying that it would all work out in the end. (Thank the Lord for guiding me through my foolish, but fun, 30s!)

 As I’ve seasoned in life, I’ve tried to be more deliberate in my actions. I’d like to think it’s because I am trusting God to lead me where I need to be, but I know I still get in my own way. I believe that He has great things in store for my future, but I also need to focus on my present.

I think I have Spiritual Farsightedness. My symptoms are:  missing out on daily blessings; can’t see God up close; and tripping over trials and tribulations.

Yep, sounds like my eyesight is off and needs to be tuned up. I need to get my vision adjusted to add some spiritual nearsighted so I can appreciate God in the moment, in addition to praising him in advance.

Curious, how’s your spiritual eyesight?

07
Aug

To Pee or Not to Pee?

Toilet phobiaI know I’m not alone when I say this, but I truly hate public restrooms. I’m not sure when I began to feel this way or why, but suffice it to say that my aversion to public restrooms is borderline phobic. I am convinced that each visit puts me at high risk of contracting some type of itchy-scratchy disease that lurks within those urine-stained disease chambers. For the most part, I’ve been able to strategically plan how I deal with Mother Nature’s call, but having kids – who insist on holding it until we are away from home – has forced me to get downright religious with how I handle this phobia. Most days, my mind goes a little something like this:

Flowchart graphic

So, now that you’ve got a visual on how I really feel about public restrooms, imagine my horror when just the other day after psyching myself up to visiting my office’s bathroom, cautiously selecting the least nastiest stall, and carefully mummifying a public toilet, the auto flush feature on the toilet kicked in shooting water from the back of the toilet, hitting the stall walls, the floor, and anything within reach! I screamed bloody murder, kicked the stall door open, and ran out of there as if a crime was being committed!

Knowing that I narrowly escaped death by way of tidy bowl baptism, I felt an overwhelming need to leave early and go home for a glass of wine and a long soak in a bath of rubbing alcohol mixed with hand sanitizer.

14
May

The Next Chapter

So, it’s been a while…a long while, but I’m back. Back to doing what I love. Back to nurturing this gift that God has blessed me with. Back to writing.  Please just pray for me as I brush the dust off.

23
Dec

In Too Deep

Adrion poolYesterday I visited a podiatrist to address pain that I’d been experiencing in my foot since the summer. After 5 months of pain, I’d finally decided that I needed a professional opinion to confirm what I already knew. My foot was broken.

This all happened during a summer trip to my aunt’s backyard pool. My five-year old daughter had decided to test out her newfound swimming skills by playing swim instructor, and I was volun-told that I’d be the student. Obediently I watched as she first demonstrated each skill before commanding me to follow suit, one drill after another.

Plunging below the water’s surface, she popped up sputtering, Mommy, put your face in the water!

Her arms and legs splashing furiously, she ordered, Mommy, kick your legs!

Now, cannonball!

In she went. Splash!

Dutifully I lined up, happily poised in her fast-drying footprints.

Wait…what?!…Cannonball???

I glanced at the markings along the pool’s edge – No Diving  3’8”.

My not-so-common sense was loudly whispering – You know this might not be a good idea, right? Uh…maybe not. Yet, I closed my eyes and jumped anyway.

So many times in life, we make decisions in spite of the warning signs right before our eyes. If we’re lucky, we’re able to walk away from those choices with just a few emotional bumps and bruises, but sometimes we find ourselves hobbling away – broken – having to live with the pain of our decision.

If you’re anything like me, it might take you a while to even admit that there is a problem. You’ll ignore, hide, deny, and even make excuses for the pain. You’ll convince yourself that it doesn’t hurt that bad or you can live with it, trying to ignore that constant voice whispering inside. But, there’s a lesson even in our pain.

We all have made, are making, or will make mistakes in our lives. We’ll ignore the warning signs, jump, and sometimes come up broken. But, the healing begins when we admit that no one pushed us into the deep end or, in my case, the shallow end. It is a choice. I guess the lesson I learned in all of this was that I need to heed the signs that warn of dangers ahead as it could save me from a moment or a lifetime of pain and to listen to that voice inside when it cautions me to pause…slow down…don’t jump. Well, of course, that and to be smarter than a 5-year old.

 

09
Dec

The Missing Link

parkourLike many their age, my boys are completely amazed by the parkour action videos on YouTube. As defined by Wikipedia, parkour “is a holistic training discipline” in which a person runs, jumps, swings, or catapults their body using whatever obstacle within their reach to get from point A to B.

Sounds holistic, right?

Well, all of the YouFoolers around the world have turned this holistic training into something akin to stepping off rooftops and vaulting across moving cars. As such, my teenage sons are completely enthralled with parkour and thoroughly entertained by the inevitable broken limbs, missing teeth, and crushed family jewels that seem par for the course.

So, one day as they sat captivated in front of the computer monitor clicking from one disaster to the next – oohing and aahing, gasping and laughing – they stopped to ask me, “Mom, why do they do this stuff?” Without missing a beat, I grabbed a piece of paper and drew two large Xs on it.

20141209_161546

I asked, “Do you know what this is?”

As only boys would, they responded, “uhm…Xs.”

As if talking to my kindergartner, I slowly nodded. (Didn’t want to risk losing them on this one.)

“These XXs represent the female chromosome.”

Next, I scribbled across one of the Xs so that now there was what appeared to be an XY.

20141209_161632

“Now, what do you see?”

Blank stares.

I continued, “These are the XY chromosomes, representing the male species.”

Blank stares.

I then circled the spot where I’d scribbled on the X.

20141209_16165620141209_161736

“This is where intelligence is located. The missing link. This explains why men will step in front of a speeding vehicle – on purpose – for laughs.”

Hence, the male mind. Science made simple.

Next class, please.

02
Dec

Not Always the Best Policy

belly upFrom the day we arrive on the planet

And blinking, step into the sun

There’s more to be seen than can ever be seen

More to do than can ever be done

In the circle, the circle of life

Every time I watch the scene from the animated film The Lion King when Mufasa proudly holds his young cub Simba high in the air, I well up with tears. Something about the message being shared between a father and his son, coupled with the rhythmic beating of the drums, gets me in my get up every time.

I started thinking about this yesterday when chatting with a good friend about how to break the news to her 4-year old daughter that her beloved fish had died. My friend was debating on the honest approach – tell her the truth and take her to the pet store to buy another fish. A green one.

I, too, have always opted for the truth with my kids – with the occasional indulgence into fantasy (Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Santa Claus) – so, I understood exactly where she was coming from. However, I learned a long time ago that the truth may not always be the best thing with young kids. At least that’s the lesson I learned years ago when trying to explain the circle of life to my then 5-year old son when his pet fish Oscar died.

Let me take you back to that tragic day.

Returning home from school one day, my son walked past me to greet his aqua buddy – only to find an empty fishbowl. You see, earlier that morn after taking my son to school, I returned home to find his pet fish Oscar – belly up. Sleeping with the fishes. For a moment, I panicked. I didn’t know how I would break the news to my son that his fish was dead.

Did he even really understand what “dead” meant?

He was after all only 5-years old, and it wasn’t like we’d ever sat down with him to explain birth or death. To be honest, the closest we’d probably ever gotten to talking about any of this was when trying to explain why mommy always started crying when Mufasa was pushed from the cliff and died. (Seriously, doesn’t that scene make your eyeballs tingle?) Anyway, suffice it to say that I was a bit nervous about how my son would react.

Well, at some point during the day, I began to irrationally rationalize that my son probably wouldn’t even be upset because most days he barely even paid attention to the fish and if he did get upset, then I could always refer back to a movie we’d seen at least a million times – The Lion King to explain a simple truth. Life begins and ends. Simple, right?

Wrong.

The kid had a straight up meltdown!

Once he’d scanned the fishbowl from every angle and realized there was no fish, he turned to me and said, “Mommy, where’s Oscar?”

I gently replied, “Oscar died, baby. He went to see Jesus.”

Wrong answer.

The boy dropped to his knees and sobbed “Osssssssssssssscaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar!”

O-M-G!

In an effort to console him, I immediately began babbling about how all pets go to heaven (at least dogs do) and how everything lives and dies. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The more I talked, the more he cried, and somewhere along the way I started verbally moonwalking. I began rambling on about how Jesus can perform miracles and miraculously Oscar was alive and at the pet hospital (a.k.a. the pet store). We just had to go pick him up.

He stopped crying. So, off we went to the pet store to retrieve “Oscar 2.0”

The moral of this story is: honesty will only get you but so far with a 5-year old.

I can’t wait to hear how my girlfriend says it went with her daughter.

25
Nov

Parenting Black

parenting blackFrom the time that they were babies, I taught my children to be respectful of everyone, to hold their heads high, and to fear no one.

I was wrong.

Raising young black men, I haven’t had the parental luxury of painting a world that would open doors for them – if only they worked hard and treated everyone with respect. I’ve always known that I would need to prepare my boys for a world that would judge them often before even meeting them. However, I guess I always naively hoped that one day their world would be different from the one that I grew up in. I hoped that they would be judged on their merits alone, with no consideration to the color of their skin.

I was wrong.

To be honest, I’ve known that race would play a part in my parenting since before they were born. I had to reflect on race when naming them. Aware of studies reported in journals such as The American Economic Review and The Journal of Labor Economics that have shown racial disparity in hiring based on the names of candidates – not just the colleges they attended or their experience – I carefully crafted my children’s names, hoping to knock down at least one hurdle they’d have to face in life.

I taught them to be respectful of everything and everyone – parents, elders, peers, teachers, authority figures, property, animals.  Everything. When growing up in a country that places a higher value on an animal and or a piece of property over that of a child (namely one that looks like mine), we can’t afford to miss the tiny details.

I taught them to hold their heads high and to look someone in the eye when being addressed. Not just because it will show confidence, intelligence, and engagement but serves to dispel any misguided perception that they are insecure, stupid, or lazy.

I taught them to fear no-one and no-thing because God didn’t create a sense of fear in us. But, mama didn’t raise no fools. I explained that should they ever find themselves in a dangerous situation, their best bet would be to run.

I was wrong.

My children were born into a world in which a target was placed on their backs upon birth, and no matter what I teach them or how I parent, that clearly will not change. The only thing I can do is to pray for coverage over them and continue to reinforce that they should continue to…

Be respectful BUT understand that not everyone else will respect you.

Hold your head high BUT not too high should someone perceive that as being threatening.

Fear no one BUT be sure to keep your hands visible at all times.  

After all, you are a young Black man.

21
Nov

Carrot Parenting

carrotMost times I feel I’ve done a relatively good job parenting, but then comes those moments of self-doubt when I question where I could have gone wrong and what I could have done differently. I mean, my children are always polite, well-mannered, respectful…and if I dangle the right carrot, they can add honor roll student to their credentials. But, it’s that last point that continues to nag me. If I dangle the right carrot.

Why should I have to dangle anything to get you to strive towards excellence? What ever happened to having a little bit of self-motivation and initiative?

Listen, I get that they are children, but I don’t recall my mother having to incentivize me or my siblings to take a bath, clean our rooms, or get good grades in school. (Now, don’t get me wrong, we all understood that failing to do so could possibly result in a beat down, but that is beside the point. That’s just how it was back in the day.) There were EXPECTATIONS, and whether those expectations were communicated out-loud or burned into our psyche from our mother’s occasional glare, we understood what our role was and what we needed to do. And, there were no damn carrots!

So, why do I find myself having to dangle some sort of reward in front of my children to get them to do the most basic things for themselves?

If you shower before noon then…

If you do your homework then…

If you clean your room then…

Behind each of those pleas (because it is truly a plea for my sanity), I find myself offering either a simple attaboy or something more tangible just to get them to do. And, it is driving me insane.

I feel like I’m a broken record that can’t skip past the scratch on the CD (or the LP for you old heads), and I’m saying the same thing over, and over, and over again. And, quite frankly, I’m tired of listening to myself.

Like many parents, I find myself stuck in this groove where I can’t move forward because I think that deep down, I’m afraid that if I stop, I will discover that my children might actually be okay with body odor, dirty rooms, and average or below-average grades. However, if I’m being honest, I’ll admit that I believe that my children’s failures are a direct reflection of my parenting (with the occasional exception). So, I continue to dangle a carrot, a dollar bill, a threat of punishment, anything to get them to do whatever it is that needs to be done.

Yet for the sake of my own sanity, I feel like I need to cut the umbilical cord on this foolishness and pray that they’ll find a nugget of self-initiative to do what they need to do for themselves. But, in case that doesn’t happen, I might need to look into booking an extended stay at the local psychiatric hospital.