Grief And Loss, Uncategorized

New Year Musings: Lessons From A Year

It was around this time last year that my mom’s health began a steady decline. She kept it from me for a minute but in the first week of January she landed in the hospital and again in February. And so began the snowball effect that led to the ultimate avalanche–that of losing my mother. That this year has not been pretty has been an understatement. I was transferred to a new position where no one knew my business. And I had to quickly bring folks up to speed so that I could make those mid-morning trips to the local cancer center to be with my mom. Then comes a new job. Start the first day of May and mom dies on the 30th May.

I bawl like a baby every time I think of the circumstances of her passing. Mamma being the one who never liked to burden anyone with her issues (she lived with this cancer as her own secret for four years before we found out), I could see her deciding to make the conscious choice to ease on out of this life so that I can continue to live mine. She was always putting me and my brother before her needs. Having me to care for her was not what she wanted or expected. She was that kinda woman. I walked away with some of the greatest lessons learned this year all thanks to her.

1. Death is inevitable. It comes for the rich, the poor, the sinner, and the saint. It has no respect for your station in life or whatever else you think should matter.

2. Grieving is not for the faint of heart. It snatches you by the hair and drags you down a dark tunnel that seemingly has no end.

3. Friends never let friends fall. I knew who my inner circle was before this and their faces have not changed. Loss tends to fade out a few faces along the way. It’s okay, it happens.

4. Living under a rock keeps the drama away. When I decided to hide under the rock that is “higher than I”, I essentially threw up the proverbial middle finger to a whole lotta stuff. Some things just don’t register in my world anymore.

5. My tongue doesn’t hurt as much anymore cause I say what I mean and I mean what I say. Life is too damn short to be holding on the mess in your heart!

6. Make time for who and what matters. Life is all about making memories. Memories are all I have left of my mom. So what I want left of me begins with the making of those memories with those I love.

7. The world doesn’t need another super hero. Being a listening ear is usually all that’s needed. Being a “fixer” for everyone leaves you needing to be fixed. Take the S off your chest.

8. It’s okay to laugh. After all, life is pretty darn funny. Finding a reason to laugh eases the pain by loads.

9. Love deeply with no regrets. This is a finite world we live in. There is a beginning and end to everything. I held her hand, I kissed her brow. I’m thankful that I could.

10. Trust the process. It has its ebbs and flows. There are good days and bad. But it’s part of the process. Welcome it with open arms.

It’s a travesty to think all I learned could be whittled down into ten thoughts. When actually it can’t. But these speak volumes to where I started and where I am now.

Family

New Year Musings: Couples Setting Goals Together

Ahhh…the luxury of being single! You make your schedule and owe no man any explanations. Get hitched and you now have another human being whose tagged along for the matrimonial ride. Gone are the days of scheduling last minute trips to Vegas with your friends. Don’t go into the new year without thinking some things through as a unit.

1. Set aside some time to review your marriage statement. Remember the one you should have created earlier in your marriage? It’s the philosophy and/core values that guides the decision-making in your home. Buying a home, having children, starting a business may be cause to tweak it some. Revamp it if need be.

2. Be sure your budget aligns with your values. Your taking trips on a monthly basis may not make sense if you have set goals to purchase a home or set aside money for the children’s college fund. It has to make sense on paper and in reality.

3. Set aside time during the year for enrichment opportunities. Having a healthy marriage means regular tune ups. Attending counseling sessions “just because” or registering for marriage conferences is a great way to keep things fresh.

4. Spend time in prayer and meditation together. Your spiritual lifestyle can’t afford to suffer. Nothing like a house of cards collapsing to put things into perspective.

Be proactive as a couple in heading off any issues before they arise. Going into a new year with old issues is a recipe for disaster. Your marriage deserves a fresh start for the upcoming new year. So make it happen.

Current Events, Random Thoughts

New Year Musings: Cleaning Out Your Closet

No better time than the present to take on mini projects. Bringing in the new year with a lighter closet certainly can’t hurt. When you have enough white shirts to start working as a waiter, you know it’s time to purge. Here are some ways to make this process as painless as possible.

1. Have two people in mind when you are pulling clothes off the hangers. This means that you have a face to go with the donation. Could be a person starting a new job, freshman in college, or someone whose lost or gained some weight. You are best able to donate with a purpose in mind.

2. Think in terms of your current lifestyle. I worked at a local high school as a mid-level employee. There were plenty of times when I could get away with wearing jeans and a vintage tee in the middle of the week. My current role allows for jeans once a week. I knew of a high school student that would definitely make use of my Smurfette tee.

3. Color coordinate your closet. This helps in your knowing what you can afford to give away and what you can’t. I pared down my white shirt collection by half.

4. If you wouldn’t accept it, then don’t give it away. No one wants to own something that’s dinghy or has bleach marks. Trash what needs to be trashed. It’s the polite thing to do. Be sure everything is laundered and ready to go.

5. Do not lie to yourself. You know your thighs are a little on the “juicy” side these days. Unless you plan to lose 20 pounds in one month, give up the ghost and the pair of pants.

Paying it forward with your personal belongings is a mutually rewarding experience. I have been the recipient of some “pre-loved” items and enjoy knowing that my belongings will also find a loving home. What a great way to start the year by thinking of others while clearing out your closet.

Life Coach

New Year Musings: I Takes The Stairs

Creeping up on another year is cause for all types of anxiety. Social media outlets have people thinking that you’re a snail in a Speedy Gonzalez world. If you’re not traveling to the ends of the earth, reading the latest book, or making your butt stand at attention, there certainly must be something wrong with you. Well don’t believe the hype!

When was the last time someone posted that they had every intentions of getting up to run, but fell right back in bed? Or that they didn’t have the funds to go to the swanky steak house and ended up at the local two for the price of one eatery? After all, no one is posting pictures of chicken tenders and fries. Lol! Or that they stay in the consignment stores and bypass the department stores? Setting goals and keeping it real with self and others is a dying art in these here streets.

I recently teased a rather successful friend of mine about making the “got it all together” life look easy. Got folks ’round here thinking her stuff don’t “stank.” Her response to my sarcastic jibe: “I don’t take the elevator where I’m going. I’m taking the stairs.” A reminder that for every goal that’s set comes with objectives that will take more than a microwave minute to see through. Getting a doctorates means sleepless nights. Raising a family means dreams deferred for a season. Starting a business means not getting paid for months.

Don’t go into the new year already bogged down with self-doubt and trepidation. Breathe. Relax. Take the stairs one at a time.

Faith

Retreat

Matthew 2:13-21

“Take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt.”

It wasn’t all about shepherds watching and angels singing at the time of Christ’s birth. With a King threatened by our Savior’s very existence, Joseph took Mary and young Jesus and left behind all they knew for the safety of Egypt. Historians place Jesus’ time in exile anywhere between one and seven years. Suffice to say, that time away from all they loved and knew could not have been easy. Living in a foreign land while news of babies dying by the hands of a jealous king because he’s seeking out your child, was terrifying to say the least.

There will be seasons in our lives where God will ask us to leave behind all that we know. To our earthly eyes, it may seem as a punishment. Yet that hindsight reflection of 20/20 will prove that it was to be the decision that saved your very life. The young woman whose been out on her own now only led to return back home to her parents now forced to regress. The professional whose lost it all in some bad investment and forced to sell it all now lives beneath their means. The divorcee whose world is suddenly upside down with uncertainty now forced to start over again.

Fleeing to “Egypt” isn’t the cowardly out. If the Son of God Himself was called to run for his very life, what more is expected of His children for our very survival? What does your Egypt look like? Is it time spent in prayer and fasting? Is it a move to a new city? A move out of the home you created great memories in? Whatever that time sent away to a “dry desert land” looks like–embrace it. Learn from it. Trust God through it. It’s but for a season, but for a moment. To grow you, protect you, and keep you safe.

“19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

Faith

Dodging The Holidays

This holiday season came and went like a flash in a hot pan. I’ve avoided the maniacs at the mall and the lunatics on the streets. I have become a professional dodger. Dodging my neighbor’s “no decorations this year?” or a family member’s “why no gifts this year?” I have even dodged the holiday wear tradition of heels and sweater vests for puffer vests and biker boots. I have not dodged “being cute” in my fashion gear though. I’m not that far gone, lol! Just a subconscious decision to live a more conscious life.

After all, there is nothing glamorous or glitzy about Christmas. Nothing sexy about a man whose thinking twice about leaving his teenaged wife after she comes up preggers. There is no need for Maury Povich in the face of this evident truth–he is NOT the daddy! While he’s drawing up papers to end this present madness, a supernatural being tells him he may wanna think twice about that choice. So he does. He walks beside her as both her belly and the rumors extend.

They find them selves mere witnesses to the greatest gift ever given to mankind. God the Son, dons flesh to walk this earth. His lineage is of adulterous men and women of ill repute. His future fair weather friends would be flung into the four winds at the sign of a major challenge. What a waste of thirty-three years of one’s life some may say. What a gain for a wretch like me!

I will keep dodging the holiday season and continue to embrace the CHRISTmas one.