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Sistah Take A Seat: Surviving Christmas

Yes, I was the one up at 3am, in line by 4am waiting for the Black Friday madness to consume me. Only to realize there were only five of those items I wanted in the store and they actually wanted me to walk around and buy up stuff that I really didn’t need. I’ve since given up those antics and haven’t seen a Black Friday event in some time.  No judgment to those who still enjoy the high of that type of stuff. I can certainly understand.  This year I got myself hyped for Cyber Monday and didn’t buy a damned thing. I didn’t need anything. Besides, when you shop year round and gift year round, the holidays become less about the giving and more about the being. 

And that’s been it for me these past few years. Finding ways to create moments with people. Losing a mother kinda does that to you. All I can think about are the times I spent with her on those doctors visits. The silence that usually enveloped us when I sat in her room just being there with her. It all came down to the time I spent with her. Not the stuff I bought for her. 

So I survive Christmas by decorating my home, inviting folks over to enjoy the whole “Currier and Ives” experience of eating from real plates and not having to worry about dishes. We put on some music. We play games. We eat good food. And we enjoy the “being” of our existence in each other’s lives. 

My extrovert husband starts looking at me real strange again this time of year. He knows it gets kinda rough for me missing my mom. But then I’m turning around to let him know I’m hosting something or other at our home. The male brain can sometimes get confused by the female brain’s intensions. But that’s for another blog. He’s just happy he doesn’t have to scrape me off the bedroom floor, because as long as I’m planning something, he knows I’m in my zone and I am going to be okay. 

You may not have lost someone but you may have lost something and the holidays simply suck. You’d rather the first of January be tomorrow so you can skip all of this fete mentality. Try finding those few things that bring meaning to your life. Do those few things that have depth and leave you feeling at peace. Whether it is service to others, traveling and creating new traditions, whatever it is . . . make it intentional and a point to carry them out. 

How do you survive Christmas? What’s that one thing you do each year to overcome the holiday blues? Share in the comment section. I’d like to hear from you! 

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Give Thanks: A Time Well Spent

Someone wondered if people were pillaging the malls for Black Friday like usual. Well if social media is a truth teller, 🤨, I ‘d like to think most were out and about doing other things. I saw a lot of “we at the house” activities. Lots of games were played. Lots of food was consumed. And the drinks. Well you already know …

Are folks slowly disrobing from the materialism that tends to take hold this time of year? Are the pockets thinner so that our choices become emaciated too? Are we just savvier shoppers these days, where we can spot a fake sale like a bad case of fake news? Or are we lazy and would rather just let our fingers do the walking? I’d like to say it’s a combination of all of the above. 

I can’t tell you how many white platters I dug through to pack for our family’s dinner. That was clue number ten that I needed to call a truce between myself and the lure of all things that looked like it was white dish related. My coins are more carefully counted these days for other things I’ve got lined up in life. IRA’s, business ventures and vacations don’t just pay for themselves. Priorities. I get so called “sales” stuff in my Gmail promotions inbox on a regular enough to know that those pair of boots will be on sale come January. South Florida doesn’t  see cold but two days a year so I pack patience and wait for the discount color codes to go into effect. And if it’s not there come that time…🤷🏾‍♀️. 

Online shopping has become my fave pastime. Amazon got me clicking speed checkout on a regular. So when you ask me to drive through five communities, circle around to find parking, lose my sanity and religion fighting the traffic to return home, I’m like who? Not me!  I’m a better human being in front of the laptop.  I now choose to scroll rather than stroll for my purchases as much as possible. I can compare prices, I can ask a friend a quick question, they can send me a link and I’m done. 

I didn’t “Black Friday” this year. Hadn’t done it in earnest for some time now truth be told. I love to shop. It is no secret. I’m just better at it than I used to be. I did some Small Business shopping and popped into some boutiques and bookstores instead. I spent time walking near the marshes, in the sunshine and viewing nature from the eyes of the enslaved ancestors. I spent time holding hands with children tugging me into the “snow bubbles” and basking in the carefree moment.  I spent it rekindling my love of jig saw puzzles and realizing the eyes ain’t what they used to be. I spent it tripping over puppies and toddlers. 

If I never stand in another 4am line haggling for a TV, I’m gonna be just fine. 

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How To Be A “Type A” Living In A “Type B” World

My husband makes it his life’s mission to remind me that my brain doesn’t function as others. That very few plan their birthday trips 18 months in advance. That it is a rare species who labels their shoes, office supplies and anything else an Avery label can be slapped on. That ‘OCD speak’ is a dying language. That Pinterest Boards for everything in life is not normal. I’m convinced he’s telling me the truth and taking jabs simultaneously. 

The Business Dictionary defines a Type A Personality as:

“A temperament characterized by excessive ambition, aggression, competitiveness, drive, impatience, need for control, focus on quantity over quality and unrealistic sense of urgency. It is commonly associated with risk of coronary disease and other stress-related ailments.” *Strike that last part.*

Type B Personality:

“A temperament characterized by moderate ambition and drive, accommodating attitude, cooperativeness, focus on quality over quantity and, in general, an easy going approach to life. See also type A personality.” *No ailment inserted?* 

Basically stated, the former will die a painful death while the latter gets to skip through fields of lilies with nary a worry. 

And this is why us Type A’s (my name is Delphine and I am…) should really get it together and compete to maintain our sanity. While it is easier said than done, it can certainly be done. You may be surrounded by the others who could give a rat’s behind about keeping to rigid schedules, dissecting data, or going way above and beyond, but it doesn’t have to be the death of you. Here are some tips to keep your sanity while remaining true to thineself. 

Build In Extra Time

You’re planning an event and the reservez s’il vou plaits are trickling in like Flint, MI water? Give yourself an additional two weeks to factor in time to make some individual calls. People get busy with life and while you are the person who logs everything in your electronic and paper calendar right away, not everyone does that. Build in some extra time for follow up. Whether it’s a work related project or major event, people are people. Life happens and you have to anticipate as much as you can. 

Plan 75% Trust 25%

Type A’s have some serious trust issues. Our inclination to compete can be at the cost of others’ feelings. Unless you’re willing to lose some friendships/partnerships along the way you might just want to avoid railroading people’s feelings. Working on a project for a community event? Allow for input and feedback. Give others the space and opportunity to assert themselves. While you may think people could care less and that you may as well do it all by yourself–some do care. They care enough to see you do well but may frankly get put off by your intensity to get things done. Because it is your pet project or your name riding on the line it’s okay to plan most of it but give the benefit of the doubt for others to help along side you. You need people who can check your blind spots and make sure you’re on the right track. 

Let It Go

Yes. Sing the song. Hum the song. Yell the song. Pray the song. Make it your mantra. If you elect to omit any of these suggestions, don’t let this be the one. Type As are notorious grudge holders. We don’t, I mean they don’t forget a thing. We are the absolute worst when it comes to just throwing it to the wind and walking away. Yet, there will be more times than we care to admit where it’s really not worth the fight. You already know who is who and what is what. You shouldn’t expect more or less based on that. So they come late to your party. Greet them and keep the festivities going. So they have ignored every deadline known to man. Remember the 75/25. Make it 100 and keep it going. 

Your locus of control is yourself–not on anyone or anything else. Understand what is within the realm of your influence and what is not. The world is a much well managed place with us in it. We just want to be sure it is also a well loved one too. 

Curious about where you lie on be personality spectrum? Disclaimer: there is no “type” written in stone. Check the link below. https://psychcentral.com/quizzes/personality/start.php

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Every Day Livin’: Only In America

Uber Opportunities

Only in America would both my Uber drivers today be non-English speaking immigrants.  The second one only eight months in from Cuba.  He’s learned “left, right, stop, yes and no” and was thankful that I knew some Spanish to get us there.  When he dropped me off to collect my car at the mechanic,  he even waited around long enough to make sure that I was talking to a mechanic and not just standing there alone.  He gets five stars for that.

International Women’s Day

Today I celebrate every real life XX Chromosome carrying chick.  It has been one of those unifying posts across my Instagram feed.  Men honoring their mothers, sisters, nieces, grandmothers.  Women honoring each other and enjoying the brilliance and beauty that is our true essence.  I remember my mom and her bestie (Madame Babier), both of whom now serve among the cloud of witnesses in heaven.  They had a great work and home life together.  We lived with Mme. Babier and her family for the first two years when we moved to Miami.  I never got the sense that there was ever any competition between them.  My mom was quiet.  She was outspoken.  They made sense together.  They worked together for years in a sweat box factory, always complaining about the management but never giving in.  I miss them both on this day.

My Kinda Funny

I’ve been on this Golden Girls series binge for the past few weeks.  I watch it when I get ready to leave for my day and at least one episode before I fall asleep.  I know why I’m watching it.  It reminds me of my mom.  It reminds me of afternoons spent hanging out with her in her room when my dad wasn’t around.  The wisecracks and sarcasm are epic funny.  “I haven’t been a virgin since The Louisiana Purchase was in escrow!” barks Estelle Getty’s character.  I died a thousand death on that one.  My husband doesn’t understand the binge but whenever he’s around long enough to pay attention, I hear him laughing at some odd situational comedic scene and I know he gets it.  He even humors me and sits through an episode-or two.  Not sure if it’s because he knows why I’m watching it or cause he finds it funny too.  Just glad that he gets it.

Social Worker Month

I never need an excuse or reason to celebrate my profession.  I figure if I don’t do it, who else will?  I’ve been working on some projects to exponentially move forward the field of mental health personally and professionally.  What I’ve discovered is that unlike five years ago when people would bow their head and pass the collection plate in pity when they heard what I did for a living, folks are now paying more attention-really pay attention.  In this climate where people are looking for answers, looking for direction, looking for anything; I’m humbled to be a part of what it is going to take to bring about hope and perspective to those who are searching.  I never take it lightly when a total stranger decides to entrust him or herself into the hands of another total stranger with their story.  There is no definitive role that a social worker plays.  He or she can be a political figure one day of the week, a play therapist another day, life coach, therapist, case manager, consultant–you name it.  The sky is the limit.  So pardonnez-moi as I scream from the rooftops that “I LOVE MY PROFESSION!” It’s more than a job, it’s a calling.

Un-Fastening My Potential

I’m two days into my 40 Day Fast.  I get the sense that people are becoming less traditional in their walk with Christ and more “progressive”.  Christ was the most progressive human being who ever walked this earth, so I know he’s provided me with enough tools to maintain a level of constant renewal in my spiritual life.  No need to reinvent the wheel in that department.  Some days it’s like automatic.  I can read my Bible, pray and remain centered.  Other days it’s like searching for a light switch in a pitch-black room.  Both types of days require my trusting in God for the answers regardless of whether they come easy or hard.  

Abstaining from certain foods and activities is part of that.  I have never been disappointed.  Tested, yes.  Annoyed, yes.  Bothered, yes.  Disappointed, no.  It doesn’t mean that I become some hermit and go in a cave until the day before Easter.  The Bible actually warns against those who would have themselves look like they’re in misery during a fast.  Nothing changed but my choices.  Limiting my social media and news intake to Pulse and Instagram.  I figure I still gotta consume news to remain updated and I still want to learn from others who I don’t even know in areas that matter to me.  Those two outlets meet those needs.  I’ve always grown personally during these fasting periods.  It’s not something I can place my fingers on during some years.  In some years, I can see the hand of God just moving in ways only He could take credit for.  In other years, it’s been quiet shifts in my paradigm.  Just one degree of change still means change.
I’m having major caffeine withdrawals and it’s not pretty.  Just thought I’d throw that out there.  Prayers needed.
Solo Field Trip

This weekend I get to go to the much talked about Game of Thrones Concert Experience.  The nerd girl in me is super psyched to be in this space.  The introvert in me is extra psyched that I don’t have to share this experience with anyone else.  Going it alone. Solo dinner and solo concert experience. Can’t wait to tell ya all about it.

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Sistah Take A Seat: All About Priorities

I spent way too many hours in this finite life stressing over what others thought of me, why they thought what they thought, or why did they even think at all! Only to find out that I really didn’t have the answers. Nor was it my right to even care.  You find yourself passionate about something and realize that some will nod their heads, give the thumps up and the high fives. And those smiles. You know the ones that never quite reach their eyes. Between the clapping and the 🙌🏾emojis you would swear you had their full support. Then reality hits. It was all just words. 
I would boil faster than my mama’s pressure cooker boiling beans on a Saturday afternoon. Why weren’t they sensing the urgency like I did? What about this issue that didn’t get them moving? Why wasn’t it important to them as it was to me? Then one day the Holy Spirit whispered that if they could celebrate a lone rider on a donkey one day and drive nails in his hand the next, who was I to expect any different? But it really doesn’t stop there. 

Human beings are fickle creatures by nature. Bell bottoms one day. Boot legs the next. Straight legs the day after next. And skinny jeans two days hence. Our likes and dislikes change with the rising and the setting of the sun. Why would we not expect this to be the same with things that matter to us? Facebook’s greatest invention is the “On This Day” feature. It’s been the perfect reminder that who I was in 2008 and who I am now is inherently the same. But something is very different. My priorities. 
I have grieved the loss of birthing children. I have lost my mother to breast cancer. I turned and walked away from a stable, well paying job. Those three major life events alone (not to mention the others that litter my life’s trail) set me back and propelled me forward simultaneously. All in all, my patience, my tenacity, and ultimately my faith took on a new meaning. My priorities–well they just changed. So I imagine it is the same for others. 

We can never understand what journey our neighbor is taking even when they share it with us. For the couple who prefer to make their children their priority during the formative years. For the single woman who is saving for her first home. Man or no man, she’s getting that house. For the friends who have made a pact to see the many wonders of the world. For that college student whose trying to get that degree and make it happen. These are all PRIORITIES.  

These priorities will mean that attention is being diverted. Energy is being spent elsewhere. Motivation is being shared in other areas. Just not in you. Just not with you. And that’s okay. It is going to have to be okay. It is not everyone that is out to hurt you. It is not everyone with a voodoo doll made in your image sticking it every week after Sunday service. Yes, those people exist. They are real and they are out for your blood. But truly, it’s not and should never be that serious. Greater is He who is in you… Remember that. So the next time you feel down in the dumps about the “lack of support” from friends or become frustrated with lack of response or some perceived apathy, just remember. It’s all about priorities. Keep that perspective and it will earn you more years and less stress. 

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Nancy Patricia

Today I shared in the homegoing of a beloved classmate and church member. These words will never capture her essence. A poor attempt to speak about someone loved by many. In honor of Nancy Patricia Payoute. 

Will the graduates of MESH please stand. Will the class of 93 remain standing. Class of 93, You may be seated. 
Will the past and current members/attendees of Community Christian Church please stand. You may also be seated. 

I was charged by the family to speak as a classmate and a church member. I asked my classmates to help me come up with one word that came to mind when you thought of Nancy. 

Some shared words like:
Unassuming 

Gentle spirit 

Kind 

Inner Strength 

Loving 

Unique 

Loyal 

Humble 

Sweet spirited 

Serious 

Well Respected 

Courageous 

Intelligent 

Committed 

Great sense of humor 

Quiet storm 

Integrity 

Sweet soul 

Banana Bread Baker

These words come attached to some poignant memory of a friend who only we can speak of because of our personal connection to her. 
You who walked the halls of Edison Senior High may have known her as a flagette, fellow honors and AP student, lunch buddy, class president, math club historian, or HOSA club member,or senior Superlative winner for “Most Dependable.”  Our yearbook lists the the special someone’s in her life to be God, her parents, Henry Payoute. The photos we have of her speak of an active student who never missed a spirit week activity and was always engaged in being that renaissance student. While some of us chose to be either or, Nancy choose to do it all. 

But records and memberships only speak the half of who we knew then as Nancy Pierre. Most of us go through like catching beef with people, knowing full well that if we were truly honest with ourselves, we know we were partially at fault. 
But If YOU didn’t like Nancy, everyone knew that YOU were the one with the Problem. She got along well with everyone and even if she didn’t see eye to eye with you, she certainly didn’t have time to dwell on it. After all, Nancy knew it took two to fight and life was just too short to dwell on inconsequential drama. 

Anyone who has ever been a senior in high school knows to run and win class president is no small feat. It meant that for the most part, your classmates had observed you for four years and some since middle school. They knew you were a person of your word and whether they knew you or not, liked you or not–they understood and were confident you would represent them well. Nancy was that person. She truly represented us well. 
When it came time to host our tenth reunion, TyPical Nancy didn’t want to be in the limelight. And thanks to her, I assumed the role of class reunion president. “I’ll help you plan it but I don’t want to lead it,” she said. She was true to her word. She didn’t let me down. I knew once people realized that Nancy was still in the picture, everything was going to be okay. 
Imagine my surprise when I walked into Community Christian Church the spring of 1986 to see my sixth grade classmate in the same church! By this time she was really tall for our age group and I marveled cause she got to hang with all the cool kids. Her older siblings, Avener and Aliette had paved the way and she held her own even back then. When many moved away, left for college, or moved on, Nancy remained committed. Her commitment paid off in bringing not one but both of her parents to our church. It was a big deal to see two Haitian parents sitting in an English speaking Sunday service. Nancy did that. And when her father went on to be with the Lord, she kept bringing her mom, our now deaconess, Ms. Pierre. 
I realized the other day that as I look around the church, she is a part of the few female members who I can honestly say can remember the Community Christian Church of the 1980s. She kept the faith, rode the tides of change and remained steadfast. 
Nancy was that member who people would think was serious. And for once in my life I got to use the words others have had to sometime use on my behalf. “she’s really not mean, she just looks mean, you just have to get to know her.” 
That’s the beauty of church ministry. The beauty of knowing Christ. Nancy knew That getting to know our brothers and sisters would never happen warming a church bench and leaving right after the benediction. She made it her priority to be involved in God’s work. Whether it was doing manicures at a nursing shelter, planning a breast cancer awareness luncheon, supporting the prison ministry in any way she could, Nancy did what was needed and she would quietly recede back into the background. “whatever you need, just let me know,” she would say. 
My last real memory of Nancy was being at the Circle of women’s spa weekend this past spring. We had been on hiatus for two years and when it came to plan for it, I thought well not many will want to come. I’m glad we planned it. Nancy was one of the first to sign up. She had signed up every year since we started this because she knew self care was the best care. 

In the spa outing, I knew I was going to get to watch people shocked to see that other side of Nancy. The one that had you laughing nonstop. The one that had your marveling at how such a serious looking person could really be so down to earth. I loved hearing her stories about her family. Those famous Payoute family trips. Najah the extrovert who wanted to do and go and be everything–related to two low key parents and a low key big brother. JR getting ready for prom and graduation and off to college. Henry being Henry. You two were created for each other. She loved you all very much. 

For the past 12 years Nancy and I had this countdown to summer thing. As much as we loved our jobs, even we knew it was time to go home. Three more weeks Nancy! Yes Girl! I can’t wait. And we would talk about our plans. “Two more weeks Nancy! Girl I started packing up my class. Girl it’s five more days! …”
And then we would start the back to school countdown. Those countdowns, However, were usually done with reluctance. 
This was my first year no longer working in education and I remember telling Nancy, “Girl you on your own with the back school countdowns. No more of that for me.” We had a good laugh and moved on. Little did I know this was truly be the year of no more countdowns. 

Be at rest now my classmate. Be at rest my sister in Christ. 

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Sistah Take A Seat: Don’t Pay For Bae

As women, we spend a great deal of our lifetime being something to someone else. We are first daughters to parents. Sisters to siblings. Gal pals to friends. Significant others to men. Mothers to children. Aunt. Goddy. Sister in law. Grandmother. And on and on. 

Our roles bleed into each other. There’s no beginning and definitely no end to our super powers. We can make a meal with $10 or less. We can have 20 tabs open on our laptop and get it done all the while jostling a sick child on our hip or feeding jello to an ill parent in hospice. There is no end to our inner strength. It is both a blessing and a bane to our existence. Yet, there are times we extend too much, share too much, do too much…way too much. 

Bae is that boo thang whose caught your eye. He’s saying the right words. He’s hard core or he’s super sweet. Whatever your preference, he’s laying his mojo and making you feel all ooey-gooey on the inside. One day he’s driving your car cause his is in the shop. Before you know it, he’s driving your car around town while you wait on public transportation. One day he’s asking you for a couple of dollars to make rent. Before you know it, he’s got his Jordan’s in your closet and buying a pair every other week. 

So I’ve painted some very extreme cases of instances where the relationship balance is skewed–or maybe I haven’t. I’ve heard the horror stories of women who ended up being nothing more than a bank account, therapist, and chef for men who showed their natural (insert your preferred word here) when they felt it safe to do so. I’ve seen co-dependent relationships breed all sorts of tragic outcomes. She was paying his bills while he was paying someone else’s. She was looking out for his kids while he was busy making another for her to take care of–with someone else. She was hiding his drugs at her place while he was laid up somewhere else where police raids wouldn’t find a tic tac to charge him for. And it goes on and on. 

Fall back sister-friend. Pause. Stop. Take off those rose colored glasses and see your life for what is really happening. You’ve paid and paid and paid for Bae with no return on your investment. You’ve paid with your finances. Your energy. Your time. Your body. Was it really worth it? There are married women who don’t do what you do. Women whose names are on life insurance policies and mortgages and bank statements.  It says something about them but it definitely says more about you. 

You are doing THE ultimate MOST! No, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But it certainly was destroyed in one. Bae needs a wake up call, not you. He needs a life altering change in his life, not you. Bae needs a reality check, not you.