Dear Son,

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Dear Son,

The day has come and you have crossed the threshold into what many call “manhood”. It is now time for you to fly and as your mother I vow not to clip your wings, but allow you to propel forward. While it appears one door has closed, a door has actually been opened. Don’t spend time reflecting on the closed door and forget to step into the unsecured door that leads you to new paths. As you advance in your life, here are ten things we, your parents, will pray for you daily.

  1. We pray you continue to seek God, trust Him and lean not on your own understanding. Pray His will for your life and know that He stands firmly on His promises.
  2. We pray that you fully accept Christ in your life by being baptized.
  3. We pray that you become a strong black man that values your family.
  4. We pray you a lifetime of love, laughter and limitless possibilities.
  5. We pray your safety daily and we hope people see you for your gifts and talents and not the color of your skin.
  6. We pray your health and strength.
  7. We pray that you are always encouraged and when things don’t go as planned, we pray for your endurance.
  8. We pray for your sense of character. Remember character is who you are when no one is looking.
  9. We pray you resist temptation.
  10. We pray you have resources that afford you the opportunities to fulfill your wildest dreams.

And if nothing else, we pray that you know our love for you will never die. We are proud of you and will always go above and beyond to help you fulfill your destiny. As you move into your next season, remember, “You don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward. Just take the next step.”

Forever,                                                                                                                                                Your #1 Fans

 

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And We’re Out

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Today is officially the last day of the school year and my son has formally completed his public school education and is preparing for graduation. In past years, high school graduations and celebrations had become standard . What was once considered a very momentous occasion had become the norm. High school graduations were no longer considered an exceptional event. This honor and moment of achievement had been reduced to the equivalence of a kindergarten graduation, as if all students would reach this milestone. Schools no longer allowed complete families to attend this event. Restrictions were placed on the number of tickets each student received, therefore limiting support for the student. Many students would never have another opportunity to say, “I did it!” but yet only eight to ten people were allowed to share this moment.

And then 2020 happened… These students have missed so many of the events that we all looked forward to as high school seniors. They did not have prom, senior skip day or even a chance for the infamous panorama picture that took two hours to capture the livelihood of the senior class. These students are attending virtual graduations, having to participate in graduation parades or wearing masks to live graduations while sitting in discomfort. This is the year where graduations are once again gratifying. This is the year where people near and far want to acknowledge every graduate in the world. This is the year where people are wanting to dress up to honor our 2020 graduates. This is the year where graduation posts on social media have made us cry as if it were our own child. And we have gotten back to the idea of how important this occasion is, not only for our kids, but for parents and family as well. High school graduates are being commemorated near and far instead of being taunted because “it’s just high school.”

As a parent, I am glad to see how the students of 2020 have embraced the change. I am delighted to see how resilient they are as a student body. Having the opportunity to watch so many of these kids over the years as scholars and athletes, I always felt they were an exceptional group of students and not just because my son was a part of this group. For years, I said, “There will never be another group like the class of 2020.” and life has proven that statement to be true.

Today, I salute every member of the class of 2020 and every parent that attempted to make this journey pleasant and fulfilling for their seniors. As for me, I am appreciative of having this time with my senior. We’ve had countless conversations, lunch dates and made some very crucial decisions, together. This is still a time of celebration. These students have worked diligently to get to this very moment, the last day of high school. I encourage you to recognize these students for their gains. Some could use an encouraging word right now. Hats off to you, class of 2020. The vision is clear. “Hold the vision, trust the process.” – Anonymous 

CONGRATULATIONS C/O 2020!!!

 

 

 

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Breaking Generational Curses

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Generational curses are considered negative patterns from your family history that are repeated in your own life. I was first introduced to the idea of generational curses when I became a budding teenager. I was getting closer to the age of 16 which was the magic number for dating. As I slowly approached my sweet sixteen, my interest in members of the opposite sex was growing rapidly. As the phone calls started coming more frequently, panic started to creep in my mother’s head and heart. I remember her practically begging me, “Please don’t become a teenage mom like me.” She went on to explain that her mother had become a mother at 17, and she followed the pattern by becoming a mother at 17. Although I was very much interested in boys at 17, I wasn’t THAT interested. While I was able to break this generational curse by not becoming a mother at 17, there were many more negative behaviors my family displayed. Unfortunately, they didn’t recognize their actions as cynical so no one ever begged me to break other cycles or helped me avoid traps of other obstructive bearings. I, however, knew I needed to spin out of several cycles before my own conduct became fatalistic.

  1. Physical Abuse – I witnessed so many of the ladies in my life allow men to physically abuse them. Some were abused by brothers, some by boyfriends and many by their husbands. Clearly abuse was misinterpreted as an act of endearment because the scars were worn as a badge of honor. It was almost as if the women were proud they survived the battering. This was the first cycle I knew I would break. I walked through life silently daring a man to put his hands on me. In my mind, it was bound to happen, I just needed to be prepared to respond so it would never happen again. The first time a guy raised his hand to me, I didn’t even flinch. In a very even tone I said to him, “Before you hit me, please call your mom and tell her to get her black dress ready.” There was a long pause and I was asked to leave the area. His activity let me know men are capable of processing their thoughts long enough to allow you to walk away before they abuse you. I refused to believe men could get so angry they couldn’t allow you to walk away or vice versa. That was the first and last experience I had as it relates to physical abuse or the notion of it.
  2. Children should fear you. – Wrong! Children should respect you. I never wanted my son to fear me, I wanted him to be a respectful young man. As kids we were lashed when we did wrong or even when we did something right but we did it the wrong way. I thought it was the way to get someone’s attention. If your child didn’t respond the way you expected them to, tap them a couple of times. When my son was in his primary grades, I would watch him climb into the backseat of the car and practically disappear. His answers to my questions were minimal and he would try to reduce the conversation to avoid saying something I wouldn’t approve of. Watching his trepidation saddened me. As a result, I started to correct some of my habits as it related to discipline. During my son’s seventh grade year of middle school, I decided I was going to whip him for below par grades. Whipping him was exhausting and the impact was far more emotional than it was physical. We both ended up taking a nap at the conclusion of the whipping. I realized that while I received whippings through the 12th grade, that would not work in my household. I had to learn my son was old enough to understand and it was easier to talk to him.
  3. It’s okay to not be okay – Unfortunately, I didn’t learn this lesson until recently. People made it seem like I always needed to have it together. And if I didn’t have it together, for the sake of people on the outside looking in, put on a facade and make it seem like I had it together. Wellllllllll, I don’t! Some days I have it together and some days I don’t know my right from left. Other days I allow myself to have a complete meltdown and it’s okay. I was recently ridiculed for attending therapy. I didn’t see the humor in the statement. It was almost as if I should have been ashamed of myself for needing help of any kind. Sorry my friends, I will not die inside for the sake of looking good on the outside.
  4. Speaking the truth – Why are we considered rude when we speak the truth? I’m not talking about the candor in simply saying, “Your hair is ugly.” I’m talking about the sincerity in saying, “Your behavior is unacceptable and inappropriate. It offends me.” Why are we not allowed to call people on their behaviors if it is having adverse effects on us? Everybody in my family moves quietly around the elephants in the room. They will talk about you behind closed doors, but they dare not cause confusion by saying things directly to you. I figure it’s better to address the issue because my feelings matter.

I’m sure at this time there are more negative behaviors within my family that need to be imploded without me feeling demoralized but you have to start somewhere. I will continue to break cycles that are hindering my ability to have the best relationship with God and my family and keep me from functioning at my highest capacity in every endeavor I set out to conquer.

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

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I am completely over it! All of it!

As many of you know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month and there is no time like the present to really focus on our health and wellness. As mentioned in a previous post, I started seeing a psychologist in October after losing my father. At that time it was the best decision I could have made for my emotional stability. I constantly think every difficult decision we are forced to make is preparing us for a task that is to come at a later date. So when Covid 19 hit close to him I was grateful I already had an outlet in place.

I was a little skeptical about continuing to see my therapist as Covid 19 started to hit closer to home. But I’m glad I decided to keep my weekly appointments. I am starting to understand what people mean when they say, “I am about to lose my mind.” Working from home has started to cause a lot of tension for me. Working from home while completing my master’s degree online and parenting a high school senior has started to take its toll. My biggest concern has been attempting to bring as much normalcy to my son’s new routine as I possibly can. I have also attempted to try to make this experience as pleasant as it would have been had he been participating in senior activities.

Many people have given ideas as to how to maintain your mental health but physical safety has become a bigger priority than our mental well-fare. I go walking every evening and while being outside is refreshing, I get exhausted trying to avoid coming in close contact with other people that are out exercising. I’ve tried watching comedy shows or Law and Order but everything is interrupted with news of Covid 19 and its devastating impact. I’ve read a variety of books, journaled, played card games and had movie nights with the family. At the end of the day, I’m over it. And this is where my therapist serves as an invaluable resource during this trying time.

Yesterday I went to see my therapist and for the first ten minutes all I said was, “I’m over it.” I would mention something that happened and then go back to, “I’m over it.” The longer I sat there, the more I felt myself falling into a sunken place. And it was at that point my therapist began to steer me to talking about all kinds of randomness which eventually led me to a place of joy. I walked into the office haggard and exhausted and was able to leave feeling anchored. How are you coping with feelings of anxiousness? How are you dealing with the stipulations placed on your life due to Covid 19? Are you really focused on your mental health? Encourage someone today, we are all in need of some inspiration.

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There’s hope!

 

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You Can’t Miss What You Never Had

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This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and I was more than surprised to walk out of my house to a yard sign acknowledging my efforts as a teacher. While Teacher Appreciation Week serves as a culmination of the entire school year, I am fortunate enough to work with a staff that shows appreciation for each other all year.

In the beginning of my teaching career, I opted to go back “home” and teach in the very neighborhood in which I grew up. Realizing money would be a limited resource for me as an educator, I opted to give back my time. My students, athletes and parents always showed an appreciation for me, not with gifts, but with their actions.While outside stakeholders showered me with love, I was at a  school with administrators that pretended as if Teacher Appreciation Week didn’t exist. We never did ANYTHING! As a result, the declining morale continue to plummet and we begin to have a large turnaround at the end of every year. I never understood why it was such a big deal. In my mind, I came to work for the kids, not a gift. For 15 years I stayed on the campus with little to no acknowledgement for my talents and efforts as a teacher. And it never bothered me until I crossed the street.

During my second stint, I worked virtually. We were unable to gather during the time of “Teacher Appreciation” because many of us stayed in different cities. However, it was then I realized it doesn’t take much to show someone you care. Our administrators cancelled all meetings throughout the week and gave us the gift of time time. Everyday they found a restaurant where teachers could eat free or were provided a very good discount and would send us the information. At this point I started to realize how good it felt to be appreciated by the people that considered you to be an asset to their team. Parents are assigned to us by default. Administrators, in most cases, get to pick us. I started to realize  I didn’t care about being acknowledged in my first teaching position because it was something that wasn’t afforded to me. I slowly started to understand the phrase, “You can’t miss something you’ve never had.” Having this experience allowed me to realize how much the actions of the administrators at my first school killed the teaching spirit for so many of my fellow educators.

I’ve been in education 24 years and am currently at my third campus. I’ve been there four years and I can’t explain how thoughtful and considerate the administrators are of the staff members. While Teachers Appreciation Week is a great time to show your teachers how much you care, this is something they do often and it honestly feels much better to work in this space. Our administrators allow us to have some kind of activity every month with a theme and it’s usually accompanied by a free jeans pass. Yay for the jean passes!!! In addition to that, we have treats, lunch, breakfast and we do a Teacher of the Week every single week. While we had to spend Teachers Appreciation Week quarantined this year, they still found a way to make us smile. In addition to the yard sign, we had a drive thru faculty meeting. As we pulled through the bus ramp we were presented with lunch, dessert, a gift card and a token that I’m sure varied based on your gender. In addition to that, all meetings were cancelled this week, giving us the gift of time. While our administrators didn’t think this was enough, I know their hearts and they have the best intentions for those that support them daily. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to have experienced my employers showing appreciation, with their words and their actions. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all my fellow educators! And if no one has told you today, please remember, “You are awesome and you make a difference in the lives of our most precious gifts. YOU ARE ESSENTIAL!”

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Traveling? Maybe, Maybe Not?

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.”― Anaïs Nin

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Traveling has become a part of my self care. Sometimes it’s necessary to remove myself from family, friends, and even the voices in my head reminding me of all the things that need to be done. Last year, for the first time in my life, I took a staycation. I spent an entire weekend in a hotel, practically around the corner from my house, doing nothing. I had an opportunity to rid myself of any obligations for 72 hours. No phone calls, no school work, no responsibilities related to children, no career related events…72 hours to totally relax and bask in the calm.

This year we didn’t even start the planning for our annual vacation. Between the anticipation of senior activities, graduation and college decisions, a trip was the last thing on our minds. Now, with limited senior activities, postponed graduation dates and colleges unsure about campus openings in the fall, we’ve had an opportunity to discuss where we wanted to go and if we could possibly make it happen. Well of course we had a destination in mind, just no real plans. My trips for the year were to consist of…

  1. San Antonio, TX. – I don’t know what it is about San Antonio but I love it there! I do the same things over and over and over. I wanted to go to San Antonio and attend the state basketball tournament, go to a Spurs game and hang out on The Riverwalk. And of course, I would want to stop by the outlet in San Marcos. The day before we were scheduled to leave for this trip, the state tournament was cancelled and the NBA suspended the season.
  2. Las Vegas, NV. – This was a supposed to be a “Girl’s Gone Wild” Weekend. This trip was to include a group of seven cousins that included two sets of sisters. We have never traveled as a group of seven but we are always together having the best moments at family functions. So, we decided we would join together and let everybody pick an activity and really get to know what others enjoys doing. With this group we could definitely make the next “Girls Gone Wild” video. This trip was scheduled for September but we’ve halted all plans.
  3. Norfolk, VA. – While my son was not scheduled to run summer track this year, this is the home of AAU Nationals for 2020. As one of the coaches of a summer track program, I was going to travel with the team this year, on the hot, muggy bus. Fun, fun! However, my husband was going to fly in later in the week so we could enjoy a few activities together in Virginia. The AAU committee will release more information regarding activities and events this weekend so this one might happen.
  4. Mykonos, GR. – This is one of my bucket list trips. I have been anticipating taking this trip for quite some time. I’m always looking forward to seeing different beaches and experiencing the night life in other countries. Of course, I am interested in sightseeing and visiting the museums and monuments. Oh, and did I say relax?
  5. Turks and Caicos – This is actually my husband’s choice. Whenever he makes a suggestion, I just say, “Yes, I’ll go!” He has yet to disappoint so where he leads, I’ll follow.

Do you have any travel plans for the year? Where are you planning to go or are you going to play it safe this year and stay home?

 

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The Things We Take for Granted

“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” – Thomas Fuller

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I was recently sitting in a Zoom meeting and a teacher sent me a private message stating, “Hey, how are you? I really miss our talks in the afternoon.” I replied to her question followed by the statement, “The things we take for granted…”
While I have enjoyed the privilege of not getting up early and preparing myself to head into a brick and mortar setting, I don’t like the idea of having my work at home. For the most part, I have always kept work separate from home. Except for the five years I worked from home…needless to say I resigned for a reason. While walking into a school building every morning, I took for granted the smiling faces associated with a pleasant “Good morning!”. I miss the students asking me the same question 25 times only to interrupt me and tell me “I got it now!” during the 26th explanation. And I definitely miss the camaraderie in the afternoon when the final bell would sound.
I took for granted going to church on Sunday and stopping by the park in the afternoon. While I can still walk in the park, I can no longer sit on any equipment or park benches. I took for granted the busyness and laughter of kids running and playing. All is  quiet now because as soon as you approach an area, people start to scatter.
I took for granted the freedom of walking into the grocery store at my own discretion. Now I have to wait for a certain number of people to leave before I can enter. And they have a restricted number of people that can walk down each aisle. Nevermind the fact that some stuff I  determine I’ll do without because certain areas are too crowded to step into and deal with the hustle and bustle of people trying to move about as quickly as possible, particularly the fruits and veggie section.
I took for granted mingling with parents, coaches and other athletes at track meets and basketball games. Sitting in crowds so large  you’re constantly saying, “excuse me” for stepping on someone’s foot or accidentally kicking someone in the back. But in those times, all was forgiven because in that moment we were a family.
More importantly, I took for granted how busy I had become with life. I was busy living it and not enjoying it. Busy being busy. These last few weeks my mind and body have revealed to me it was time for a break. Just the idea of slowing down has my mind spinning as if I absolutely need something to consume me from sun up to sun down.
In these moments, I’ve realized how I’ve taken for granted how pleasant my very own neighbors are. Instead of looking forward to parents at the track meets, I look forward to seeing their smiling faces walking in the evening, playing basketball in the front yard or the pleasantries exchanged walking to and from the mailbox. What I really took for granted was family time. We were so engrossed with all of our “extracurricular” often times we failed to assemble at the dinner table. I took for granted how important Game Night or Movie Night is to our family.
While I miss life as we have known it for quite some time, I will not take for granted this very moment. Instead of reminiscing on what used to be, I will focus on what it is right now.
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No Sports??!?

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I keep a very busy schedule in the spring and summer and much of that is attributed to being the mom of an athlete. With the spread of Covid-19 and the cancellation of sports, life has taken a drastic turn for us. While we’ve tried to remain hopeful, it seems the idea of finishing our final season has come to an end. I’ve noticed that many people become annoyed hearing parents talk about their kids “being in the middle of a season” during this time. And many people find us selfish in wanting our kids to finish the season. But the reality of it is, this is bigger than sports.

Many of us have kids that are seniors and have missed the last opportunity to fellowship with teammates. Some will never get a chance to say their final “farewell” and “thank you” to many of the coaches that have helped us nurture our kids and support them on their high school journey. Some of these athletes serve as mentors and provide guidance to their teammates as it relates to the recruiting process. And some will miss the opportunity to seek financial assistance to obtain higher education by way of athletic scholarships.

While many people don’t understand the world of sports, the reality is the combination of an academically and athletically sound student is a recipe for college acceptance and financial awards. Many of the parents I know are willing to pay for their students to attend college, but these student-athletes feel fulfilled, gratified and proud of their accomplishments which have resulted in scholarship opportunities. While our top priority is the safety of our kids and our families, we just wanted a chance to take one more picture, smile one more time at their success and have the chance to support them in seeing this journey to the end. We wanted a last chance to say, “You’ve carried out this journey to the end. You gave your best. You have closed this chapter. Job, well done!”

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Oranjestad, Aruba

20191221_164040I’m sure many of us are sitting in the house taking this time to reflect, relax, and regroup. Some of us are spending more time exercising, reading, learning new crafts and enjoying family. Many of us that spend a lot of time on social media have probably used this time to look through our 7,982 selfies and all the pictures that show our delight when we were able to socialize and hang with our friends.

One of the last trips I took before this pandemic was a trip to Aruba. I wanted to travel somewhere quiet and calm but near the water. Aruba was the perfect place to go to experience this tranquility and stillness. Oranjestad was busy and magnificently quiet at the same time. I spent everyday on the beach and while there were thousands of people hanging out, it was almost as if I was in seclusion. The indescribable joy I experienced gazing out at the clear blue water, listening to the sultry sounds of nature and watching families relish in some of the most blissful moments made the trip even more incredible.

While it’s not a secret that I love the beach, few people know I love butterflies just as much. I knew there was a Butterfly Farm and I almost opted to skip the chance to visit because of the holiday schedule. It was closed most of the days I was there but on the last day, it opened. I had an internal battle with myself as to whether or not I should go and I’m glad I chose to stop by. It was a glorious sight to be surrounded by the beauty that is the butterfly.

Typically when I travel, I scratch the place off the list and look towards the next adventure. However, Aruba is definitely worth doing again sooner rather than later. As I sit back reminiscing, looking at the pictures, and watching videos of the crashing waves, I can’t help but remain at peace and appreciate the opportunities to experience and explore.

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Self-Care 2020

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Working out before we had to practice social-distancing.

2020 has definitely forced us to reassess and take time to reevaluate what’s important. Self-care was a top priority for me in 2020 and being quarantined has given me time to self-reflect and focus on getting organized and smashing some goals.

My number one priority was to focus on healing. Learning to forgive others and forgive myself for the times I underestimated who I am capable of becoming has been one of my greatest joys. Therapy has provided me a sense of peace and a happiness that had been lost long ago. Even during this time I can attend therapy live or virtually so that idea was very  promising on this journey.

My favorite hobbies are reading and journaling. These are two things that bring me solace. I allowed myself to become so overwhelmed with my responsibilities that I forgot to take time out to enjoy simple pleasures. My goal for the year was to continue reading for enjoyment. I was reading for academia purposes and for training purposes at work, but there is nothing more enjoyable than just reading for sheer pleasure. I’ve had the opportunity to read two books every month in 2020 and my reading selections have brought me so much entertainment. I was also gifted a journal for Christmas and whew! The journal has given me a chance to revisit my past and it also allows me to seek answers from others as to how I am perceived. The great thing about this activity is the questions warrant positive responses but when people are brutally honest, yeah…lol

Working out is also relaxing for me. A couple of summers ago I worked out every day and it was challenging to push myself daily. I worked out twice a day and while I found myself exhausted many days, I endured it all for the sake of my health. (Petite does not equate to healthy and getting people to understand that is very difficult.) This year,  I wanted to start working out at least three times a week just for the sake of getting fresh air and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Lately, I’ve been able to work out at least five days a week and I can spend as long as I want just enjoying the outdoors.

How are you managing during this time? Are you learning new crafts or mastering old ones? Are you exercising or waiting to fill out your application for My 600-lb Life? Are you knocking out goals or still trying to figure out what you want to accomplish? Whatever it is you’re doing, stay safe and take care of you and your loved ones.

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