New year and I’m ready to release the pain
No more capturing old Polaroid type snapshots of hurt inside the tear- stained crevices in my heart.
The things you said, the regrets and the unspoken daggers thrown at all parts of my body have bruised me enough.
My heart has hardened and I’ve been trying every chemical, oil and homeopathic medicine that I could find
To massage in with fingers worn and paper-thin from
So much kneading
Because I keep needing the love to make its way in
Trying to force myself to love again
Daring them all to penetrate the walls of plaque hardened around my heart
No longer will I leave my canals open and vulnerable with sun drenched thighs
Yearning to be touched from within
Because this fight I will win.
I am worthy of a life free of fear
And I deserve to have someone I trust to pull me near
Whisper “I love you” sensual and sincerely in my ear
And not cringe from disbelief
Well, today’ it’s back to school for the kids, and getting back to the mindset of prosperity, writing and productive work for me! This year was the first year that I stayed home with the kids for their entire winter break and did not schedule them for day camp at the Y or any other place. I thought that I deserved to have just one day to myself during their ten day break, but intuition told me to just enjoy them. Sometimes when I hear that voice that whispers to me to take time out for them, I can become fearful that I’m getting a message that something may happen to them or me and that is the reason we should cherish this time. But then I realize that sometimes it may just be their subconscious speaking to mine and they just need more mommy time. So, I made sure we had groceries and that the cable bill was paid and made no plans other than to attend a local Kwanzaa celebration and enjoy our family and friends during the holidays. We had a few impromptu yet fulfilling lunch and dinner gatherings with friends, some football, board games, reading, lots of movie time on the couch, a few pajama days and even some days that they were both not feeling well, and recovering. It was the first time that I purposely chose not to try and “use” the time to cram in every library, museum or other extra curricular event that looked exciting and intriguing during the holiday break. They both get so over-worked (in my opinion) at school that I wanted them to just do nothing for a change. Yes we may have put on a pound or two and the kids may be raddled due to the relaxed sleep schedules, but their bodies are healed, they got lots of love, snuggles, family time and cultural enrichment, and most of all a break from the day to day stress of school and extra-curricular activities.
They are not over-scheduled like many suburban kids I know of these days, but I do try to balance the lack
of gross motor activities in the schools with sports and dance and other physical recreation. Aside from the recreation, they both will be taking Mandarin Chinese this semester on Saturday mornings (my son is in his sixth year, and my daughter wants to do whatever her big brother does), so we have a few commitments but not excessive. I don’t do more than one sport in a season unless it’s swimming lessons, and unless they are with their father for the weekend, or beg me to see the latest Disney movie, we spend Friday and Sunday nights at home. Even energetic and/or brilliant kids need down time too. They need time to relax and release and not worry about time and schedules and assignments. And for this reason Friday nights at our house are sacred. They are almost always reserved for what the kids refer to as “movie night”. We get early showers, get in our pajamas, pull out the fleece blankets, search for a great family movie, pop some popcorn (or grab a bag from the Wawa) and head to the couch for snuggle time. It’s the most inexpensive way to treat them to a special night and after all of these years it’s still their favorite night of the week. They love it because they get uninterrupted quality time with me and I love it because I know there will soon be a day when Friday nights will be spent with a blanket, myself and a good book because they’ll be at the mall, going to a movie or a party with their friends. So for now, for reasons I don’t necessarily share with them, it’s my favorite night of the week too!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog. I started this blog a little over three years ago and I have poured my heart and soul out here. I want to thank all who have taken the time to read, comment or both and I hope that I helped someone by being open and honest with you about my life’s journey. Please feel free to share and subscribe! Thanks again and I wish you a blessed, joyful and prosperous 2014!
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 37 trips to carry that many people.
Do you ever find yourself in a moment, time and place and think to yourself “how in the world did this happen”, “how did I get here”? If you’re fortunate, it’s a good experience that leads you to ask these questions, and thankfully that was the case this phenomenal evening. Saturday evening, November 23rd at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, Pa, I found myself frozen in a moment in time, sitting directly in front of four-time grammy-winning artist India Arie; an amazing woman, singer, musician and songwriter while she joked with her band, her back up singers and her assistants during a private soundcheck. I wanted to pinch myself, I wanted to run up on stage, I wanted to cry but I couldn’t engage my brain to do any of it. I was frozen in disbelief that in a few moments I would have the opportunity to shake the hand of and have a face to face conversation with a woman who I’ve idolized, appreciated and felt a spiritual bond with ever since I first heard her music and lyrics years ago. And most of all I was trying to wrap my head around how this happened..how I manifested this opportunity to touch hands and hearts with India Arie.
I connect with most musical artists, not necessarily because of their music, but because my love for words and poetry. I fall in love with their lyrics and become an eternal fan. Teena Marie, Rachelle Ferrell, Pink, Joss Stone, Leela James, Stevie Wonder, Vivian Green, Musiq, Jill Scott, Kem and countless others who touch a place within me with their words first and music second. I think it’s natural for you to want to meet someone who shares their innermost feelings and thoughts with you and causes you to change how you think and feel about others and yourself. I wanted to meet her and I guess I manifested that want for my niece Jazmeen as well.
My father was a songwriter and he didn’t leave us much when he passed this past May, but I knew that I wanted to take some of the money and do something that I normally would not have the opportunity to do. Never did I think “hey, I’ll try to meet a famous person” but my angels knew how to direct my path, and I believe he would have wanted to meet her too. I believe I was on Twitter checking out the latest “tweets” and since I follow Ms. Arie, I saw mention of a VIP pass for her ‘SongVersation’ tour. I clicked on the link which directed me to her website and my mouth dropped. Seriously??!! Did I read this correctly?? They are giving her fans the opportunity to meet her in person? I read the paragraph over and over again, and inhaled deeply, praying that when I clicked on the VIP button that the tickets would not be sold out. I don’t even know if I looked at the price of the ticket…exhale…I was so excited that there were seats left and that they were a few rows from and directly center stage and available. I didn’t even know at the time who I would take with me, but I purchased two and did a quick inhale, exhale again. It was September and the show was two months away, so I had time to decide on a date. I thought, “who in my life did I want to share this special moment with?” A few beloved friends came to mind but it was difficult to decide between all of them. Then I thought “who in my life did I want to pass this blessing on to?”and my niece Jazmeen came to mind. I remember giving ‘Jazz as we lovingly call her, her first India Arie CD because I wanted to share the lyrics with her. I see her traveling down some of the same roads I did over 20 years ago, and wanted to share this extraordinary day with her. I gave her this gift hoping it would expose her to the unique gifts she has to share with this world. But who was really getting the gift? I told her about the concert, but saved the VIP Experience details and surprised her with the part about meeting Ms. Arie in person a few days before the concert. Of course she was excited and it warmed my heart to bring her joy even if only for one night.
We had such an amazing time! I can’t even put into words the overwhelming feeling that came over me walking, arm in arm with my niece, approaching the stage while Ms. Arie sang to a theatre filled with just us 25 or so VIP Experience guests. She waved to us and made us feel as if we were her BFFs sitting in her living room, and all I remember thinking is…how did this happen? How am I worthy? I wanted to take pictures but we were not allowed to take our own photos, which forced me to just be in the moment and I thank you for that Ms. Arie. After the sound-check we lined up for pictures with her, taken by her staff and later displayed on her website and I began to rehearse exactly what I was going to say. I was going to thank her first for being vulnerable and allowing her fans to get close and touch her in the same manner that she touched us. I was going to tell her how much I loved and appreciated her words and music and that I was such a big admirer that when I was pregnant with my daughter that one of my friends joked that I was going to give birth to a little India Arie. I was going to tell her how that baby girl now takes voice lessons, piano lesson and almost cried when I said she couldn’t come to the concert. I wanted to hug her and hand her one of my poems. I wanted to encourage her to keep being authentic. I figured it would only take five minutes and the security guard wouldn’t have to tap me on my shoulder and tell me to keep it moving. I had it all planned out.
And then my chance arrived. I walked up to the backdrop, India Arie smiled, said hello (I think, I was still dazed) put her arm around me, smiled and laughed at my niece and I being silly and all I could say to her was “thank you for doing this…thank you”. She said “no, thank you for being here because without you, there would be no me” – or something close to that; I was still star-struck and then my mind went blank. I said something to the photographer about making sure she was getting my good side and Ms. Arie laughed out loud and took my vain comment and ran with it. She truly wanted to make sure they got a good picture for me and we laughed about it until it was time for the next set of fans to come. As I shook her hand again I turned to her and said “bless you” and she said “thank you” and I grabbed my ‘India Arie’ tote bag and my autographed poster and floated away.
The succeeding concert was amazing, spiritual, moving, vulnerable, uplifting, tearful, humorous and most importantly an unforgettable bonding experience for my niece and me. November 23, 2013 was day filled with incredibly affirming and cohesive moments that neither of us will ever, ever, ever forget.
How did this happen? Many reasons. I am working on returning to my authentic self, I am ready for a breakthrough and need to “break the shell”, I am pursuing my passion, I am asking the Creator for what I want, I am a compassionate and giving person, I have some powerful ancestors who love me, I followed the voice inside me that said “check your Twitter page” and… I believed that I am worthy of it.
It’s been several months since I’ve written anything on my blog and I apologize to my loyal followers for the long absence. It was just recently that I realized that I haven’t been able to write a thing since after my father passed. I tried to think about what other than the depth of grief you feel over the loss of someone who gave you life would keep me from picking up a pen. I’ve been to numerous open mic events, recited some of my poems and my creativity has been fueled by the multitude of talented and gifted artists that I’ve heard over the past few months. I celebrated my birthday this entire month even though my born date was on the 20th, and I haven’t isolated from friends or family, so why is it I don’t feel inspired to write?
And what I believe the answer is has something to do with control. Normally when I write, I know what I’m going to say, I know what picture I will use and usually how it will end all before I sit down at my laptop. I am in full control for the most part. Yet grief does not lend itself to such consistency. Grief is less predictable than an ocean wave, and just as powerful when it hits. I can almost assure you that it will rear it’s ugly head a week or so before any major holiday and the birthdays of my parents who were born two days apart. And then sometimes it is equally as unpredictable. Sometimes I feel passionate about something (or someone) and I feel the urge to write and a piece of mail comes through my doorway with his name on it, or I need to take care of his last cable bill, and I lose the urge to create. As the administrator of my father’s will, I have numerous duties to perform which alone can be exhausting. My daughter struggles with closure after his sudden death and I sink deep into grief for a while as I empathize and help her to understand and honor his transition. And it think it hurts a little deeper when I look around and see that not only are both my parents gone, but both sets of grandparents as well, and grief tells me that I’m all alone. Ebbs and flows..ups and downs..highs and lows..around and around. When will it end? I don’t know but I have begun to pray for the willingness to let go of my high expectations for myself. I pray for the strength to bounce back from this sudden and profound loss; that I don’t have to do it perfectly or feel happy to write, and that it’s okay to feel what I feel for however long I need to feel it. And I can take the time to heal from it all and I’m worth it.
I am writing now from a beautiful beach home that I’m sharing with some family and friends, listening to the waves crash as I summon my dad’s spirit to guide me and encourage me. I wasn’t sure at first about sharing a house with a dozen people, but somehow the combination of the calm and the chaos awakened my spirit. And the love and laughter abound as a warm healing balm for my soul.
So I don’t have anything fabulously witty or poetic to write just yet, but I am thankful that once again I am writing, and that is a huge step in the right direction for me. Just for today, I am moving forward remembering that it’s progress, not perfection.
This is the first time in my life that I am unable to pick up the phone and wish my dad a Happy Father’s Day. As much as I know and feel his spiritual presence and understand that he is at peace, it still breaks my heart and makes me feel sad and cheated. It is life on life’s terms. It’s grief and loss and there’s no way to get beyond it but to go through it. Some days it feels like a dream, other days like a nightmare. Some days I just want to be held and some days I wish I were on a beach all by myself. Grief comes in waves and it’s unpredictable, and I am so blessed to have people in my life who may not know exactly how I feel but accept and love me at whatever point I am on the grief roller-coaster.
I expected father’s day to be tough but I really thought yesterday would be more emotional than today. Almost ten years ago my youngest brother Joel, founded Daddy University a support organization for fathers, which has also produced a popular Daddy Daughter Dance for the past five years. I’ve volunteered every year but almost backed out this year because I thought seeing all of those little girls and grown women arm and arm with their fathers would be too emotional for my tattered heart to manage and I didn’t want to have to touch up my concealer all night. But I didn’t know anyone I could count on at the last minute to fill my shoes. I am also intimately aware of the impact the bond fused by this elegant and rare occasion has on the growth and in some cases healing, of relationships between father and daughter, and I wanted to contribute.
I was so stressed during the day that my head hurt all over and I could feel the tension in my shoulders so intensely that I could hardly turn my neck most of the afternoon. It’s amazing how stress can sneak up and almost paralyze you, forcing you to take notice and counteract. I wanted everything to be perfect for my daughter’s first time going to the dance with her dad, yet my body was screaming “what about me???!”. So I slowed down a bit, stopped stressing about the time and her anxiousness and took a lot of deep breaths. When I checked into the hotel near the Convention Center where the dance was held, I started to relax. Just the beauty of the foyer of the Downtown Philadelphia Marriott Hotel caused you to inhale the energy, beauty and life around you. We both dressed for the occasion and she looked just like an angel! Adding the details of the pearls and glitter lip gloss, I almost felt as if I were helping her get dressed for her wedding. I was so thrilled for her and it kept me from getting sad or thinking about the fact that I would never have the opportunity to attend a daddy daughter dance with my Dad. As the evening went on, I helped out and watched the event unfold. One by one, the caring men, gorgeous gowns and dresses and whispers of “daddy can I have…” danced by me and the air was so full of love and excitement that I was swept up into the energy of it all and not once felt sorry for myself. I had expected to have a full-blown pity party, but the opportunity never presented itself. Several times I looked into the dance to make sure my daughter was enjoying herself. She found her way to me a few times and I encouraged her to go back in, enjoy this time with her Dad and dance the night away. I knew that she, like me, felt the fervor and spent most of the night taking it all in.
People say that the best way to take your mind off of your own troubles is to give of yourself and do something for others and that wisdom really rang true last night. As the only girl, my father and I had a special bond. He spoiled me, called me “pretty girl” and tried to give me anything that I asked for. He loved me and tried his best to show it all of the time. He was proud of the woman I had become and even more proud I think of the Mother that I had come to be. He loved to call me his “one and only” and not once, unless he was in the hospital, did he miss sending me a card for my Birthday, Valentines day, Christmas and even my wedding anniversary. And oh yeah, daddy also LOVED to dance.
To a daughter, a father is the first love in their life, responsible for teaching her how she should be cared for and treated by what will hopefully be the last love in her life.
I feel sorry for the last love in my life because he has a hard act to follow.
Happy Father’s Day daddy! I miss you and hope you are still smiling…and dancing! Love, Neet
I know there’s been so much that’s already been said about the senseless killings of the Sandy Hook Elementary School children and staff, and so many early judgements about the killer, his family and why it happened. But I feel like I need to share the fear that came up for me and maybe for someone else who is reading this. It scares me that it could have just as easily happened at the elementary school across the street from my home where my daughter attends school, but what scared me even more was the profile of the shooter. This young male was described by his classmates as nice, quiet, didn’t talk much, didn’t say anything bad about anyone…obviously brilliant…parents had recently divorced and he lived with his mother in a quiet town and no one would have thought in a million years that he was capable of such a thing. They were describing my first born word for word. Quiet, brilliant, keeps to himself and maybe quietly stuffing emotions that a “tween” experiences as a result of separation or divorce. It removed all judgement from my heart when I realized that but for the Grace of God and awareness on my part, this could have been my own son.
And if I didn’t pay attention to his emotions, if I didn’t keep the communication between us open, if I didn’t try and keep positive role models (especially male) in his life, encourage him to stay involved in sports, show care and concern about what concerns him- even if I think it’s senseless – and hug and kiss him every chance I get even when it embarrasses him, there but for the Grace of God would he be.
I don’t assume to know the family dynamics, but it did confirm for me that I was doing the right thing just hours before the news broke.
Because my Ex is dealing with his own childhood trauma (or rather, not dealing with it), he has begun to distance himself from our children’s lives. This type of abandonment can be devastating to young children, and has shaken up our lives a bit. The ironic thing is that just an hour or two before I heard the news I was on the phone with my son’s former and my daughter’s current Guidance Counselor. Fear and shame keep a lot of people, especially in our culture, from seeking outside help for family and emotional trauma. And there are some who have told me that just loving them is enough, but sometimes it isn’t. I have always been open-minded and willing to choose support over suffering, even if I had to fight through the shame. It takes a lot of courage to expose your most sensitive and private thoughts to a stranger; but if it meant that it would save my son from suffocating in quiet pain and anger and my daughter from seeking unhealthy sources of love and comfort in their tween/teens, then I was ready and willing. Sometimes as a parent you have to be proactive.
After the uncomfortable phone call I felt a little more encouraged, supported and equipped with the knowledge and resources I could utilize to support my kids. They say “things happen for a reason”. I pray these lives were not lost in vain. I pray comfort for all of those heartbroken. I pray this country will make a serious effort to keep our kids and communities safe. I pray that it will bring a global awareness that will save our country and all of our children from suffering in silence. I know that just one parent will be doing a little more than just hugging her children a little tighter at night. It’s time for Action – for all of our children. What are you willing to do?
It’s just a part of my reality now. I’ve accepted the heartache that wells up inside my soul when the Mother’s Day commercials start to pour in. Even though I am a mother, and I get my props this time of year from the media (and boy how that makes me feel valued!), I still feel the abandonment. It’s been over a decade but I still want to be able to buy a card, deliver it, and get a big warm hug. So each year about a week before the holiday, I fall into a slight emotional and physical slump. It’s usually unsuspected because each year I think it’s going to be the last, but you never get over your first love.
It used to hit me like a ton of bricks, but now I’m so used to it and have accepted it that I plan the party. My pity party that is. Poor me. I lost mom at such a young age, I have no living grandparents and my heart aches for my kids who did not get to experience her here on this plane. I feel overwhelmed. I feel alone. I feel sad. And I feel like crawling up under my covers and not coming out until someone else arrives. I put on my terry cloth robe, some warm socks, get a good glass of red wine and some chocolate (preferably with ice cream too) and find a few tear-jerker movies to watch on television. My preference is Beaches, Terms of Endearment and Steel Magnolias – always sure to envoke a good, deep soul-wrenching cry. Of course I never invite anyone to my pity party, or it wouldn’t be as meaningful. It’s usually ended with not much sleep and I feel the emotional hangover the next day or so until I decide the party is over or someone needs their tutu or baseball pants cleaned right away. And somewhere between the tears or the chocolate, I ask my Creator to help me embrace joy again and I ask Mom to show up somehow during the week to let me know I am not alone. The alarm rings, the kids have to get to school, and I have to get back to work. Back to reality.
And as inevitable as the pity party, so is the after party. And my angels always tend to show up and deliver ten-fold!
The new year always bring with it the opportunity to sit and look back on the past year and of course to think of resolutions or goals that you have for your future. We all have the excitement on our tongues as fresh as the taste of the first snow flake and we sit waiting for the clock to count down so we can charge forward into the next 365 days of opportunity. This was probably the first year that I didn’t wish the previous year away, nor make resolutions for the new year. I wasn’t happy to see one end or the other begin. But I did look gently over the challenges and victories of the past year and I said a prayer to help me face the new year with the same courage. I was just content with being in the current moment and almost forgot it was New Year’s Eve. I was home with the kids and we had our usual toast with sparkling apple cider and our midnight hugs before bedtime, but I didn’t feel anxious nor cautious about the new year; just grateful that I made it through to enjoy seeing another day.
I almost surprised myself because I am usually the first one to run to the nearest party or firework display with urgency and fear that New Year’s Eve would not be the same without it. I always had to have the traditional black-eyed peas and collard greens on the stove so that I could have it to eat for luck before the ball dropped, and if I hadn’t hit the store for some champagne, the night would be a disaster. None of those things were at the forefront of my mind and although I thought occasionally about them, I wasn’t in a state of remorse for not having all of the superstitions on deck and in place. Maybe I was so exhausted from all of the holiday preparations, or exhausted from taking care of my sick four-year old, but it didn’t really hit me until after the kids went to bed and I sat down on the couch to watch the Twilight Zone marathon.
My dad Jabez is a lover of science fiction so I grew up watching the Twilight Zone and reading Stephen King, and I look forward to the New Year’s Eve marathon each year to get caught up on the episodes that I missed years ago. One particular episode really hit home with me, especially during this time of contemplation and personal inventory. I don’t recall the name but it was about a thirty-something man who had travelled back in time to give a message to his younger self, who appeared to be about 7 or 8 years old. When he found him at a carnival, he said (or something similar) “I just wanted to tell you to enjoy this time in your life to the fullest because these are the best days of your life.”
These words really hit home for me because aside from me taking my own personal inventory, I often wonder what others see when they look at the past year of my life. What do my ancestors think of me? What compliments or constructive criticism would they offer? Do they even see what’s going on, and if so what’s their perspective? With all of their wisdom, what advice would they give me for the coming year? What would my seventy-five year old self say to me now? And when the questions stopped flowing, the answers came rushing in. They would tell me how proud they were of the strength, the courage, faith and compassion that I’ve embraced over the past year. They’d say what a great mother, writer, sister and friend I am and that they know how difficult it is sometimes to love unconditionally, but that I strive for that anyway. They would say that I am blessed to have such beauty surrounding me, and such love from my children and that I need to remember to celebrate them and our special bond every day. They would say that I take life too seriously and that this is the season to let fall the cloak I have woven of grief, fear and of loneliness and to embrace the unspeakable joy that awaits me. They’d tell me to write more, to take more chances, to have fun, travel and make an extra effort to spend quality time with and surround myself with true friends. To remove anyone or anything that speaks doubt or negativity into my world, and to be a good steward of my finances so that the blessings will manifest ten-fold. And I know they would say that this is the best time of my life. Right here, right now, so make a conscious effort to enjoy it to the fullest.
And if I doubted that any of the thoughts that came into my head were truth, my Aunt Daisy, my mother’s sister, echoed almost the exact same words after our Kwanzaa feast on New Year’s Day. She has such wisdom and a huge spirit! Throughout the night she complimented me on how well I was raising my children, and empathised with how stressful it can be to run a household and raise children independent of their father. And right before she walked out the door, she stopped, turned to me and said the most profound and confirming words. She told me to keep speaking wisdom to my children, keep the lines of communication open, and do the best I can to point them towards their destiny. She said that I can’t force my expectations on them, because their purpose on this earth has been predestined and is out of my hands. All I can do each day is my best to love and nurture them for just those 24 hours. And when the day is done, lay my head down and rest because I am going to need the energy for the next day!
We laughed and hugged and she said to me “until we meet again!” and walked off like an angel in the night. I soaked it all in – the words she said and the meaningful tone that she used as well as the humor. I cleaned up the house and went straight to bed with a knowing that all I need to concern myself with is the task before me for this day and trust that with all the wisdom passed down to me, that I will do exactly what I need to do. No resolutions to list.No pain carried from yesterday. No worries of tomorrow. Just taking on what’s in front of me today and laying my head down to make sure I get enough rest for tomorrow.
How will you celebrate these 24 hours – the best time of your life?