Nov 11, 2012

The Process of Singleization - When One Becomes Too Independent For A Relationship

For me, 2012 has been a journey of self-discovery.  I began the year in a relationship that I hoped would eventually make its way to marriage and the land of "Happily Ever After".  However, that hope fizzled out halfway through the year when I found myself single once again.  Since then, I have been wavering between finding The One and accepting eternal singlehood.  It's been quite the rollercoaster ride, let me tell you.
You've probably noticed from my recent blog posts that I am somewhat pessimistic when it comes to relationships and marriage.  Far from embracing the stereotype of the "angry black woman" who can't get and keep a man because she's so bitter at the world, these posts were written by me in an attempt to understand the emotions I was experiencing.  I have always been the kind of girl who enjoyed being in relationships.  But after years of failed relationships for one reason or another, I started to wonder...what's the point of being in a relationship?  What will a relationship bring to me at this stage of my life?  Although I am not rich by any stretch of the imagination, I am able to provide the necessities and even a few luxuries for myself and my children.  I have a decent-paying job.  I have a car that is paid for and a house in my name.  I have family and great friends in my support network.  What can a man provide for me that I can't provide for myself??
And so the process of singleization begins.  If "singleization" is not already a word, I'm inventing it today.  If it is, I'm adding my own personal definition: Singleization is the process by which one becomes convinced that a committed relationship offers no benefit to either party to said relationship.  This mindset is typically fueled by the belief that one is perfectly capable of providing for oneself, therefore inviting another person into one's life brings no additional benefits and may indeed produce detrimental effects in the form of drama, heartache and pain. 
My singleization process began shortly after my last relationship ended.  My heart was hurting, my mind was a jumbled mess, my future was unclear to me. . . all because I had invited someone into my life and my heart only for the relationship to end and leave both shattered.  It felt like I would never be the same again.  But once I was able to see things "clearly", I realized that I never had to feel this pain again.  I don't have to risk my heart.  I just won't be in another relationship and I'll never feel pain again!
The process of singleization may begin in different ways from one person to the next.  However the outcome is always the same.  The singleized person believes  s/he can provide for themselves and can do bad all by themselves.  They don't need help from anyone else to do either!
Have you ever noticed that when you're not looking for a relationship, all kinds of eligible suitors come out of the woodwork?  That's pretty much what happened to me.  But instead of looking at this as an opportunity for a healthy, fulfilling relationship, I turned the offers down because I had become singleized.  Thoughts like, "He may seem sweet now but how long will that last?" and "I'm happy by myself, I don't need a man to make me happy" helped to justify in my mind my irrational choice to turn my back on the possibility of love. 
The reality is, fear was the catalyst for my singleization process.  Fear of being hurt, whether intentionally or not.  Fear of being vulnerable.  Fear of not being able to control the outcome of a relationship.  Fear of being controlled.  Fear of losing the independence I am so proud to have.  Fear of losing the essence of me as I become attached to another and lose myself in him . . . as I did in the past.
As I often like to, I shared my thoughts with some of my married friends.  They all gave me the same advice so it has to be true.  All relationships are not the same.  Everyone is different and we all approach relationships in different ways.  I don't have to have the kind of relationship I don't want to have.  Common sense, right?  But it was a total eye opener for me.
So now I am actively trying to reverse the singleization process.  I am opening myself up to the possibility of a relationship once again, trying to remember all of the good things about them rather than convincing myself I'm better off alone.  It's not easy and I'm taking it one day at a time, my sole motivation being I don't want to miss out on what God has for because I was too scared to make myself available to it.

I'll keep you all posted on my progress . . . :)

Oct 15, 2012

The One Where The Bus Driver in Cleveland Punched A Female Passenger

By now you have probably heard the story about the bus driver in Cleveland, Ohio with a mean upper cut, but if you haven't you can watch video of the incident here and the victim's reaction to it here.  Be warned, there are lots of bad words in the first video, and the uppercut delivery is pretty graphic too.

I first heard mention of this on Facebook but was hesitant to look at the video.  I was not sure I wanted to see a man punching a woman while others stood around recording it.  But a friend of mine was interested to hear my opinion on it, so I decided to take a look.

According to the police report, the incident took place on the afternoon of September 18, 2012. Shidea N. Lane, age 25 boarded the bus and either did not have or could not find the money to pay her bus fare.  The driver, 59 year old Artis Hughes drove her to the next stop, at which point Lane allegedly asked Hughes "Are you putting me off the bus?" and "Is this how you treat people in Cleveland?"  Although she eventually paid her fare, a verbal altercation ensued between Lane and Hughes as evidenced by the video.  After Lane appears to push Hughes while he is driving, Hughes stops the bus and gets up out of his seat while informing Lane "You're going to jail now!" (I actually found him saying that to be hilarious).  He walks toward her and punches her square in the jaw, knocking her backwards.  With the whole bus screaming at him, reminding him "she's a girl", he throws her off the bus and tosses her backpack after her.  An obviously shaken Lane gets back on the bus, still cursing after Hughes and trying to hit him while being held back by passengers.

To me, one of the most interesting parts of the video was Hughes' response to the passengers telling him Lane is a girl. He said "I don't care! She wanna be a man, I'm gonna treat you like a man!"

This reminds me so much of the Ev and Ocho incident I wrote about a few months ago. The only difference is we have visual proof of what actually went down. I doubt we'll ever know for sure what happened between Ev and Ocho, but that's another story. 

No one can deny Lane was loud, obnoxious, aggressive, annoying...just plain ghetto!  She was issuing threats left, right and center.  She certainly gave the impression that she could handle her own against anyone, including Hughes.  But is her behavior justification for him putting his hands on her the way he did?  Is that the way men typically resolve their issues?  By fighting it out?  And if a woman gets up in his face while arguing with him, is that a license for him to knock her out because she's "acting like a man"?

In my opinion, no!  There were so many other routes Hughes could have taken (no pun intended!) in handling this situation.  He could have pulled over, exited the bus and called the police, just as he did after punching Lane.  He could have called the bus company to let them know of the situation and ask for their advice on how to handle.  Surely the bus company has policies on how to handle belligerent passengers.  Hughes could even have refused to drive any further until Lane removed herself from the bus.  That would have gotten the other passengers riled up but may have been what Lane needed to realize what a fool she was making of herself. 

I also thought it was interesting when the passengers reminded the driver that Lane is a girl.  Why weren't they reminding Lane she was a girl when she was all up in the driver's face?  Instead they sat back and laughed, enjoying the show.  Is her behavior literally expected from Black women because more often than not, this is the way we are portrayed on TV and in the media these days?  Think Basketball Wives, Real Housewives of Atlanta, Love & Hip Hop or almost any other reality show with a Black woman as one of the stars.  Black women are shown as brash and ignorant with an "I don't give a f***" attitude.  So it's no surprise at all to me that not one of the passengers attempted to remind her of the fact that she was a girl and should perhaps act with a little more class.  In their minds, she was just acting like Black girls do.  Well let me just get something out in the open right here, even though it's not directly relevant to my post.  The Black girl writing this post knows how to act around other people and my little girl will too.  We all have to break the stereotypes stacked against us and our men one parent at a time.  We can't rely on the school teachers, football coaches or anyone else to raise our babies, it's all on us.  My kids will have manners, they will know how to speak to their elders politely and with respect and they will know how to resolve conflict without resorting to violence.  And they for sure will not be out in public acting like ignorant fools. 

But I digress...

Going back to the Ev and Ocho incident,  Ev has a reputation for behaving much like Lane did on the bus that day.  However, as I have said before, the fact that a woman is aggressive and seemingly able to handle her own is no justification for a man putting his hands on her.  Period.  Lane certainly wasn't right for putting her hands on Hughes either as she appears to have done in the video.  However, no one deserves to be assaulted the way Lane was, male or female, unless they are a trained boxer consenting to jump in the ring and go 12 rounds.

In my opinion, both parties were wrong in this incident because neither one of them should have raised their hands to the other.  However, I totally disagree with anyone who says she deserved to be punched because of the way she behaved.  As I said in the Ev and Ocho post, comments like that often cause women in abusive relationships to stay with their abuser, for fear of being held responsible by family and friends for the abuse she has endured.  Oftentimes the abuser is already telling the woman it's all her fault that he hits on her. To hear this type of reaction to a public display of abuse against a women will only solidify that belief in the abused woman's mind.  Her level of confidence, self-esteem and self-worth are so low she will not see the difference between her situation and Lane's and will decide to stay with her abuser to avoid the embarrassment and blame from society.  I can say this with a degree of confidence because I have been that woman.  Therefore I urge you to think carefully before voicing your opinion on incidents such as these.  You never know who is listening, what they are going through behind closed doors, or how your words might affect their next move.

That's my to share yours?  Leave a comment below!

Sep 22, 2012

On Becoming a Naturalista

Me at age 16
Yep, that's me.  A fresh faced 16 year old almost ready to finish high school.  For my American friends who don't know, students in England graduate high school at age 16, attend a kind of community college for 2 years and then go on to university if they choose to do so.
When this picture was taken, I was counting down the days until I was done with high school.  Sure, most kids are not big fans of school.  I actually enjoyed the school work.  It was the social aspect of high school that had me dreading getting out of bed on a week day and looking forward to the weekend.
Almost all of the Black girls in my year at school had in some way chemically altered their hair.  Whether it was a relaxer or a jheri curl, all of them had had something done.  I was the only one who did not.  You can see in the picture I have my hair gelled down to the best of my ability.  But for some reason, gel did not like my hair, so it did not make too much of a difference.  Being the only Black girl with natural hair left me open to all kinds of ridicule.  I was called "African sponge head", "dry head", and I even heard through the grapevine that a couple of the girls really thought I should "do something"  with my hair.  What they didn't know is that I begged and begged my mom to let me get a relaxer.  But she refused.  My dad thought my hair was beautiful just the way it was.  I thought he was crazy but looking back now, I realize he was completely right.  However, at that time society did not think natural hair was beautiful and so I didn't either.

It wasn't until exactly one week after I left high school that I was finally allowed to get a relaxer.  It was like a whole new world had opened up for me!  No more nappy hair!  I started to attract the attention of boys with my new silky smooth hair, and so of course I began to associate being attractive with having straight hair.  As a result, I made sure to get my hair touched up every 8 weeks without fail.  Never again would I leave myself open to the possibility of being an outcast because of my hair.
Over the years that followed, I changed my hair style regularly.  Variety is the spice of life, right?!

Whenever I was bored with my relaxed hair, I would get a weave or throw on a wig:

About a year and a half ago, I started hearing about Black women growing out their relaxers or even cutting off their relaxed hair and growing their natural hair instead.  My first thought?  Are they crazy??  Why would they ever want to part ways with their silky smooth straightened hair and go back to their kinky roots?  Are they crazy?!?!
Then I saw the movie "Good Hair" in which Chris Rock documents the lengths to which Black women will go to fit into society's standards of beautiful hair.  Of course, I could totally relate.  I have been on a quest to have good hair for as long as I could remember.  However, the scene with the relaxer vs. coke can struck a cord with me (look at the last link if you don't know what I'm talking about, but you'll get the full experience by watching the movie).  Is this what I had been subjecting my hair and scalp to all these years?  I used to joke about lying to the stylist when she asked if my scalp with burning, choosing to bear the pain to make sure the relaxer made my hair as straight as possible.  That didn't seem so funny anymore...
Then I started thinking about my daughter.  Although she's only 9, several of her female classmates of color have already had their first taste of the "creamy crack", as relaxers are often affectionately called.  I knew I definitely did not want to subject her delicate scalp and beautiful hair to the rigors of a relaxer application.  But how could I justify forbidding her to get a relaxer if I was in the salon every 8 weeks getting my edges touched up?
I initially made the decision to "transition" my hair from relaxed to natural in May 2010.  Transitioning simply means stopping relaxers and allowing your natural hair to grow.  Some women opt to undergo The Big Chop, cutting off all of their relaxed hair and starting all over with natural hair.  I chose to transition, because I didn't think I was ready for such a drastic change.  A complete transition for my length of hair could take anywhere from 18 months to 2 years.  Those who know me know I am the most impatient person I know so I wasn't sure how long I could continue on this journey.  I knew I had to try though.
During my transition, I tried very hard to conceal the two competing textures in my hair:
Braidout - I wore the scarf to hide the line of demarcation - the point where relaxed and natural hair meets

Blown out straight and pulled into a side bun you can't see in the picture
Another braidout.
Eventually, my hair became too much for me to handle and I decided it was time for The Big Chop.  I'll admit, although my mind was made up I was very nervous about making such a drastic change.  There is so much history attached to my emotions toward my hair.  The last thing I wanted to do was make a huge change and then have to endure the awkward stares and ignorant comments from those who did not like it.

Despite my worries, on September 19, 2012 I got my Big Chop.  Here I am a few hours later:

I can't begin to describe the feeling of empowerment that comes from going against society's ideal of a beautiful woman with beautiful hair, and wearing my hair as God intended for me to wear it.  For so many years, I have been spending my time and money chasing after an image I thought would fit me into the mold of beauty, meaning my hair should be straight and shiny.  I finally understand and accept that as a Black woman, I should be proud of the uniqueness of my hair.  No other ethnicity has the type of hair I have.  None!  Therefore, as I embrace my heritage and my culture; as I feel pride in the struggles my ancestors endured so that I should have the freedoms I enjoy today, so I should also feel pride in my hair - kinks, coils and curls included!
What are your thoughts on true beauty?  Are your transitioning or have you had The Big Chop?  Or are you a die-hard creamy crack addict?!  I would love to hear your thoughts and comments!

Sep 20, 2012

The Institution of Marriage

I've probably mentioned somewhere else on this blog that my parents have been married for 43 years.  Any way you slice it, that's a really long time.  They have been through thick, thin, good times and bad, sickness and health, and my dad told me they meant it when they said they will be together until death do them part.

My parents.  43 years together and still going strong.

They are best friends and do everything together.  They planned their lives together, then worked to achieve the goals they had set for themselves and their family.  They raised three strong, beautiful young women (no bias here at all!) and taught them the value of being financially and intellectually smart in order to support themselves in adulthood.  And although the paths we set for ourselves may not have always been what they envisioned for us, they never left our sides.  Sure they'd let us know they weren't happy, but they still supported us 100%.

I have often said that I would like to have a marriage as strong as my parents'.  One where we have each others backs and plan a future where we live happily ever after together.  Looking back on the first time I said my vows, I realize now that I was too young to understand their significance.  Which 21 year old knows that the person they are marrying is the one they want to spend the rest of their life with?  At 21, the rest of your life is a really long time!  At least 50 years!  I hadn't lived the best years of my life yet before I became attached to someone else and assumed the identity of wife and mother.  I didn't know who I was...I was still figuring that out.  Now I understand it was way too soon for me to make such a huge commitment.

So what about now?  I'm closing in on 32 years on God's green earth.  Now is the time a lot of my friends are thinking about getting married and having kids.  Seems like every time I log into Facebook someone is announcing their engagement and posting wedding , ultrasound or new baby pictures.  When I was with JI, those announcements hurt.  I'll admit I was jealous.  I wanted to be announcing our engagement and posting wedding pictures!  I felt like I was ready!  But now that I'm single again, I'm not so sure. 

Why, you ask?  Let me tell you!  For every image of successful love, I can think of 3 instances of love gone wrong.  For example:

Succesful love: President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.
Love gone wrong: Tiger and Elin Woods, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Shaq and Shaunie O'Neal.
Successful love: Jay-Z and Beyonce
Love gone wrong: Eddie and Nicole Murphy, Guy Ritchie and Madonna, Sandra Bullock and Jesse James.
And don't even get me started on those quickie "marriages" we've been hearing so much about lately]...think Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian, Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson and Evelyn Lozada and Britney Spears and the dude she was married to for less than 3 days...
I could go on but I think you see my point.
Maybe you think that's just typical of celebrities to marry and divorce as often as they change their underwear, and divorce is not as rampant in "real life.  Not true.  All you have to do is look at Census Bureau divorce statistics to know that.
What has happened to the institution of marriage that has caused many people in my generation to not take it as seriously as my parents' generation did?  Do women fall in love with the idea of the fairytale wedding and forget about the lifetime of reality that follows?  Are men blinded by the notion of having a woman at home to cook, clean and take care of the kids to the point he fails to plan for their future together?  Or is divorce so simple a solution that it's more of a backup plan if the marriage takes a wrong turn than a last resort?
What are your thoughts on the institution of marriage?  Do you still have faith that "happily ever after" can be a reality?


Sep 9, 2012

When Being Single Sucks

This week, I've had a world of trouble with my car, Betsy.  It all started on Tuesday morning.  After dropping my kids off at school, I took my usual back road route to avoid traffic on the major roads and hopefully make it to work on time.  It had rained the night before so the roads were still a little wet.  The road curved and as I turned my steering wheel, I felt it lock and my car began to turn more sharply than I intended.  I was headed for the grassy area and trees on the side of the road and all I could do was scream and pray.  I can honestly say it was the most scary moment of my life.  I was thankful my kids were not in the car to experience that.  I would hate for them to have that memory for the rest of their lives.

I truly believe God was in the car with me at that moment.  I could feel the car spinning 180 degrees but it was like it was happening in slow motion.  Like He was guiding the car as it was spinning.  My car ended up facing the direction I had come from, but thankfully did not hit any other cars or trees.  I had no damage to my car or my body.  But I was in an awkward position facing oncoming traffic, which had to swerve at the last moment to avoid hitting me.  I was finally able to get myself together and got my car back on the right side of the road.  I drove like a granny all the way to Discount Tire to get my tires replaced.  Cost me a fortune . . . but worth it for the safety of my children and me.

Fast forward two days.  I think I'm sitting pretty right?  I replaced my brakes and practically everything under the hood of my car in April.  I just got brand new tires.  What could go wrong, I asked myself??  There's nothing else that can be replaced!

Famous last words . . .

After my son's soccer practice on Thursday, the kids and I piled into the car ready to go home to watch Big Brother 14 (we love that show!).  I turn the key in the ignition . . . I hear a choking sound.  Not good.  Strangely enough, the lights and radio came on but the engine would not turn over.  I tried again, willing it to magically start.  Still, nothing. 

Those of you who know me know I DO NOT like to ask for help.  EVER.  Call me prideful.  Call me stubborn.  I just hate to inconvenience other people by asking them to help me to do something I can't do for myself. 

My kids, on the other hand, are completely fine with asking for help.  I'm thankful they did not inherit the "I'll do it myself even though it'll be a struggle" gene from me!  They encouraged me to ask for help from the coaches and parents and, in the spirit of teamwork, they all pulled together to get Betsy going again.  They actually cheered and clapped when it started.  It was a victorious moment for the team!

Fast forward another 2 days.  I hadn't had chance to take the car in to make sure it was the battery and nothing else giving me trouble, but Betsy was running fine so I thought maybe it was a one off.  About 30 minutes before leaving for K and J's soccer games on Saturday morning, I started the car up and it was fine.  So you can imagine my despair when we all hopped in the car, I turned the key in the ignition and Betsy started croaking again.  Are you kidding me?!?!?!?  I have to ask someone for a jump AGAIN??  And it's 9:30am on a Saturday morning!  Even more of an inconvenience!

Long story short, my neighbor across the street was nice enough to give me a jump and we went on our way.  After the games, we stopped at two auto parts stores to get the battery checked.  One said it needed replacing, the other said it was just fine and only needed charging so I should hop on the highway to charge it up.  Seriously?  I should burn gas to charge my battery??  Have you seen gas prices?!  It was probably be more cost efficient to buy a new one!

At this point, I had reached my limit.  Yeah, I'm independent.  But when it comes to car repair and maintenance beyond a routine oil change, I'm clueless.  How do I know which auto part person to believe?  How do I know I'm not being taken for a ride? 

It is at this moment, I believe, that being single sucks.  Men are generally more knowledgable when it comes to car repair than women, let's just be real.  Maybe if I had a husband, he could have taken one look at my tires and told me it was time to get them replaced, thus avoiding the whole hydroplaning incident.  Maybe if I had a husband, he could have taken the car in to get the battery replaced the first time it needed a jump.  Or even if he hadn't had time to do that, we could have taken his car and J would have made it to his soccer game on time.  Instead, he missed the first 20 minutes of his first game of the season because Betsy just couldn't get going.

I do have some great male friends and was able to get the advice I needed from them and got a new battery installed yesterday.  One of them actually called the auto shop to get advice on the type of battery I needed, just to make sure I didn't get taken advantage of when I went in.  I thought that was pretty cool.  But as great as that is, it's not the same as having a man in the house 24/7, totally invested in the safety and wellbeing of my children and me at all times. 

Don't get it twisted, I'm not backing down from my last post, where I declared myself to be happily single and not interested in seeking a relationship any time soon.  I'm just acknowledging the fact that relationships do have their benefits and being single is not where I want to be permanently. This is a temporary stopping point for me to regroup and become the best woman I came be for my future mate.  Eventually, one day I'm sure there will be a man around to help if Betsy starts acting crazy, or something needs repairing in the house.  But before that happens, I need to get Charlotte together, especially my thoughts on The Institution of Marriage, which will be the subject of my next blog post.  Look out for it coming soon!

Sep 4, 2012

Dating Detox, Upon Instruction of the Millionaire Matchmaker

Anyone that knows me knows I love to watch the Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo.  Patti Stanger and her dating rules keep me entertained from week to week.  So a couple of years ago when I saw she had written a book, I decided to pick up a copy.  Become Your Own Matchmaker: 8 Easy Steps for Attracting Your Perfect Mate is most definitely an interesting read.  Although I don't agree with everything she writes about, including her thoughts on the "universe", I found it to be almost as entertaining as the show.  I especially like the first chapter "Dating Detox" which is the reason for this blog post.

According to Ms. Patti, when a relationship ends, you should spend some time in Dating Detox.  The length of time you should remain in Dating Detox depends on how long your last relationship lasted.  Since mine was 2 years, I should detox for at least 60 days; one month for each year.  Dating detox means taking time out for yourself.  No dates, no flirting...nothing.  Instead, the time should be spent figuring out and doing the things that make me happy rather than depending on a man to put a smile on my face.
I have never been the type of girl to be single for very long - that is just the way it has always worked out for me. But bouncing from one relationship to the next, which I have been guilty of in the past, is not healthy.  I don't want to be dependent on a man to make me happy, or to validate my worth.  I don't want to feel lonely and rejected just because I don't have a boyfriend.  I don't want to be the kind of girl that doesn't feel attractive if I'm not in a relationship.  Unfortunately, I have been that girl in the past.  But not anymore!
For once in my life I'm content with being single.  I understand and accept that being alone does not necessarily mean I have to feel lonely.  I realized that hanging out with my kids or my friends on a Saturday night is even more fun than going on a date!  This is freaking me out a little because feeling this way voluntarily without having someone tell me this is the way I should feel is brand new to me.  But it also makes me happy.  And isn't that the goal, according to Ms. Patti??
Don't get it twisted now, dating detox is not easy.  You know how it is.  As soon as you decide to take a dating break, a bunch of eligible bachelors come out of the woodwork!  And I'd be lying if I told you I haven't taken a couple of them up on the offer of a date (sorry Ms. Patti).  I have even considered the possibility of a relationship with one of them who is probably reading this post right now (you know who you are lol).  However, I am nowhere near ready for a relationship, no matter how eligible of a bachelor he may be.  Although my relationship with JI ended almost 3 months ago, the thought of beginning a relationship with someone new is actually pretty terrifying.  Not because I still have feelings for JI and am secretly hoping we'll reunite and pick up the relationship where we left off.  As great as JI is and as much fun as we had together, he and I both know it just wasn't meant to be.  I'll always have love for him and wish him the best in every aspect of his life.  He'll make someone a wonderful husband one day.  Just not me. 
So what have I been doing to keep myself happy while single?  Here are just a few examples:
  • Writing this blog.  Blogging equals therapy for me.  It's cheaper too ;-)
  • Girls' nights out with friends when my kids are with their dad. 
  • Having friends over to my house.  Several weeks ago my friends and I hosted a Conversation Party.  So much fun!
  • Reading.  When the kids are in bed and the house is silent, I'll pull out my book and read.  Sometimes I read other blogs written by single mothers.  Anything to keep my mind occupied while allowing me to wind down from a busy day at work.
Whether you are single and satisfied or happily married, I challenge you to think about the things you can do for yourself that make you happy.  Try to do at least one of those things each day, just to remind yourself of how special you are.  Love on yourself!  You deserve it :)

Aug 27, 2012

And the Award Goes To. . .Me!!

I received the Liebster Award from fellow single mom 0and super talented blogger, The Sexy Single Mommy (thanks again!)  I really appreciate you putting my blog out there for your readers to see!

When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you.  You pass the Award on to other blogs (make sure to let them know they were nominated) and ask them 11 questions.  You're not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated you!  (To get the button, right click the picture above and save the picture to your computer.  You can then upload to your blog.) 
My interesting facts:
  1. I have a thing about noses.  Some noses bother me, others I can live with.
  2. I don't like to look at feet.  Except mine.  And my kids' feet.  But no one else's.
  3. I used to love watching horror movies and was never scared.  Then I watched Paranormal Activity and I slept with the light on for 3 nights straight.  I haven't watched a scary movie since.
  4. I have a very sweet tooth.  Buy me a red velvet cupcake and I'll be your best friend for life.
  5. My biggest food craving when I was pregnant with my daughter was strawberry milkshakes.  With my son it was hot dogs and fries.  The strawberry milkshake craving continues to this day. 
  6. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because I never got to celebrate while growing up in England and it always sounded so cool.  Plus it's close to my birthday.
  7. I love my iPhone.  This is the only phone I've ever had longer than a year without yearning for a new one and trying to convince myself that the early termination fee can somehow be worked into my budget.
  8. I did not purchase an HDTV until about a year ago because I didn't see the point.  But now that I have one, I wonder why I waited so long to make the change!
  9. I love reality tv way too much. Real Housewives of whatever city is currently on Bravo, Empire Girls, Hollywood name a few.
  10. I have not gotten a relaxer in my hair since January 2012.  Embracing my curls!
  11. I'm a pretty aggressive driver.  If the driver in front of me turns without using their turn signal or drives more than 5mph under the speed limit, I lose it.

Here are the questions I am supposed to answer:
  1. If you were an instrument, what would you be and why?  I would be a flute because the sound is so beautiful, soft, smooth and feminine...just like me! lol kidding...
  2. Coke or pepsi?  Neither.  I don't drink soft drinks.  I usually drink water or some kind of wine, sangria or margarita.  From one extreme to the other right there lol.
  3. What was the last song you listened to?  "Next Lifetime" by Erykah Badu on my Jodeci Pandora station :)
  4. What purpose does blogging fulfill for you?  Blogging is my therapy.
  5. What did you want to be when you were 5? 10? 15?  5 - I think I wanted to be an astronaut or a flight attendant (I aimed "high"..haha get it, "high?!) 10 - I can't remember but probably a doctor or lawyer.  15 - I wanted to be an obstetrician.  Now? The best mom I can be to K and J!
  6. What is your favorite snack food?  guacamole and tortilla chips.
  7. What is one tradition your family had when you were growing up that you'd like to continue with your family?  Sunday dinners together.  Although I don't always cook on Sundays like my mom did, I love for us to eat dinner together.
  8. If you were a pirate searching for buried treasure, what would that treasure be?  Clothes and shoes!
  9. What is your favorite quote and why?  I don't really have one that I've chosen to be my favorite! 
  10. What is your favorite time of day?  It depends on the day.  Weekdays, 5pm when I get off work.  Weekends?  It doesn't matter.  Every hour is great because I'm off work!
  11. Do you prefer to use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram?  Instagram!
Now to the nominations!  I love to read all of these blogs and I think you will too!

Brummieknits - she also happens to be my sister :)
Beads, Braids & Beyond
Braid With Me
The Single Mom's Dating Diary
The Single Mother Diaries
Sing Your Own Song
Journey to Milfhood
I put on lipgloss for this?

Congratulations ladies!

Aug 21, 2012

The Scariest 30 Minutes of My Life

A couple of weeks ago I experienced the scariest 30 minutes of my life.  I say it was 30 minutes but it felt more like 2 years. 

It all started when I went to K & J's school to eat lunch with them, as I usually do on the weeks they spend with their dad.  One week is so long to go without seeing their smiling faces, so I usually surprise them one day and eat lunch with them.  I signed in as usual, and walked into the cafeteria to see  J's class already seated and eating.  I see J's buddies...but no J.  Strange...maybe he went to the bathroom?  "Where's J?", I asked his number 1 bro.  "He's not here today", he replied looking a little uncertain.  Like he was thinking, "you're his mom, shouldn't you know that?"  Quite frankly, he was right.

I thought maybe J was sick and had to stay home and his dad just hadn't let me know yet, so I decided to wait for K's class.  But when they arrived at the cafeteria, her teacher informed me K also had not made it to school that morning.

At first I felt anger.  Why weren't they at school??  And why hadn't I been told they weren't at school??  I called and texted their answer.  So I headed over to his place.  I figured if they weren't at school, they had to be sick at home with him.  My anger was slowly turning into worry though I tried not to panic.  Surely there had to be a logical explanation for what was happening.  But when I pulled up outside his house and his car wasn't there...and no one answered when I knocked at the door...I lost it.  Where were my kids????  The most helpless feeling in the world overtook me and tears began streaming down my face.  Where in the world could they be?  For some reason, the thought of them trapped inside a car when it was 90 degrees outside kept coming to mind.  Even though I know they're old enough to unlock the car and get out, for some reason I couldn't shake that feeling.

My hands were shaking as I called the police.  Seems irrational now, but at the time all I could think about was doing whatever I had to to find my kids.  I explained the situation to the dispatcher and she told me the police were on the way.  That's when I finally got the call from my ex, saying the kids were with him, they were fine and he was dropping them off at school right 12:30pm...but that's another blog post for another day...

The point I want to make is this.  I was uncertain of my children's whereabouts for 30 minutes at the most, and in that short space of time I almost lost my mind.  The feeling of not knowing where they were and not having the power to do anything about it is one I hope to never experience ever again.  I can't imagine how parents cope when their children are missing for days, weeks, months, years, decades even...and they have no idea where they are.  How do you ever get past the pain of losing a child?  How do you continue living your life, not knowing where your child is?  I hope I never have to find out.

Since that day, I take the time to tell my kids I love them more than usual, hug them a little tighter and cherish every single second I have with them.  I pay special attention to every word that comes out of their mouth to savor the sound of their sweet little voices while I can.  I praise them for even the smallest of achievements. 

I encourage you to do the same.

Top 10 Empowering/Revenge Songs for Women...In No Particular Order

On my way home from work today, the TLC song "No Scrubs" came on my Jodeci Pandora station.  While singing along, letting all other drivers within close proximity to my car know that I don't want no scrub cos a scrub is a guy that can't get no love from me, I started thinking about all of the great songs out there that empower women...or speak of revenge against the men who did them wrong.  Why not come up with a list, I thought?  And so this blog post was born...

Here are my top 10 empowering/revenge songs for women, along with my favorite lyrics from no particular order.  Let me know which ones are your favorites!

1.  Bust Your Windows - Jazmine Sullivan
"Yeah I did it/You should know it/I ain't sorry/You deserved it/After what you did to me, you deserved it/I ain't sorry, no, no, no"

2.  Irreplaceable - Beyonce
"You can pack all your things, we're finished/'Cause you made your bed now lay in it/I could have another you by tomorrow/So don't you ever for a second get to thinking you're irreplaceable"

3.  Luv Back - Jazmine Sullivan
"It's funny when I think about the past/When I was so naive to think that things would last/But now that I can see that you were never good for me/And it's over so you can give my love back"  (if only it were so easy...!)

5.  Be OK - Chrisette Michele
"Ever sentimental/And my crying's detrimental/Tell me what I'm getting into/I can't lose my mind/Think it's time for me to let go/Cos my heart can't take it no more/You were all I lived for but I leave you behind"

6.  Miss Independent - Ne-Yo (I love the remix with Jamie Foxx and Fabolous!)
"And everything she got she work for it/Good life made for it/She take pride in saying that she paid for it/Only kinda girl I want/Independent queen working for her throne, I love her cos she got her own"

7.  Independent Women - Destiny's Child (I love Part II best!)
"Try to control me boy you get dismissed/Pay my own fun, oh and I pay my own bills/Always 50/50 in relationships..."
8.  Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood (the ultimate anthem for a woman scorned - and I don't even like country music!)
"I dug my key into the side/Of his pretty little souped-up 4 wheel drive/Carved my name into his leather seat/I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights/Slashed a hole in all 4 tires/And maybe next time he'll think before he cheats"

9.  No Scrubs - TLC
Pretty much every word in this song is classic.  I can't choose my favorite line!

10.  Epihany (I'm Leaving) - Chrisette Michele
"So I think I'm just about over being your girlfriend/I'm leaving, I'm leaving/No more wondering what you've been doing, where you been sleeping (it's over)/I'm leaving, I'm leaving"

Aug 14, 2012

Case Highlight: Ev & Ocho

By now, you have probably heard about the alleged domestic altercation that took place between NFL player Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson and reality star Evelyn Lozada on Saturday, August 11, but in case you haven't, you can catch up on the story here.  The couple married in a lavish ceremony in the Caribbean on July 4.  Although the ceremony was recorded and planned to be broadcast on their spin-off reality show, "Ev & Ocho", those plans were scrapped by VH1 on Monday; 2 days after the alleged incident.

Now let's just be real.  We've all seen or heard about Evelyn's fiery temper, often graphically portrayed on the VH1 reality show "Basketball Wives".  We know she threw a bottle of champagne at Kenya, narrowly missing Shaunie's head.  And of course, there was the famous jump from the table as she launched herself at Jen.  As a result of these incidents and several others broadcast on the show, many are less than sympathetic when hearing of the alleged incident between Ev and Ocho.  Perhaps she deserved it?  Or maybe Ocho is telling the truth and Ev really did headbutt him?  Is that really hard to believe given her apparent lack of control over her temper?

Is this really the way to look at it though?  What if she had been raped in a dark alley by a psychopathic stalker?  Would we then say she deserved it because (in fellow Basketball Wife, Kenya Bell's words), she's "loose"?  Of course not!  So why is it any different now she is a victim/survivor of domestic abuse?  Does she deserve to be physically abused because she has shown abusive behavior towards others in the past?  Does that necessarily mean she headbutted or otherwise physically attacked her husband?

On the other hand, let's not forget the reason why Ev supposedly got mad at Ocho in the first place, which led to the alleged headbutting.  She found a receipt in the trunk of their car for a box of condoms.  She obviously put 2 and 2 together and figured out Ocho was most likely cheating on her.  After only 6 weeks of marriage, I'm sure this was a huge disappointment to say the least.  But am I the only person that recalls the BBW episode where they were discussing what sounded like the possibility of them having an open marriage while he was on the road?  Did she really think he'd only mess around on her while he was away??  Or maybe she was only mad because he hadn't informed her of his intent to cheat on her prior to buying the condoms, as she had advised him to do on the show?

Regardless of what happened that night, we can try this case in the court of public opinion until another celebrity news story steals the spotlight, and we'll never know for sure what really happened.  Only Ev and Ocho know the truth, and since their stories are already conflicting I'd bet money we'll never hear it. 

Still, having experienced similar incidents in my past, I cannot help but feel sympathy for Evelyn, regardless of her past behavior.  I know how it feels to be hurt by the one person you truly believe should be your best friend and the closest person to you.  After listening to the 911 call, I couldn't help but feel sorry for her.  Even though I could hardly hear her speaking in the background on the recording, I could sense the fear and uncertainty in her voice.  She wasn't the loud, brash and overbearing Ev she is on BBW.  She sounded more like a scared little girl.

And who did she run to when she needed help?  Not Tami.  Not Shaunie.  And certainly not Jen.  She ran to her neighbor...possibly a stranger...anyone that could help her save her life.  How desperate she must have felt!

The fact remains, Ocho is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law by a judge and a jury of his peers. Until then, all opinions and judgments are purely speculation.  However, after only 3 days, the effects of domestic abuse are clear to me in this situation:
  1. Damage to reputation & finances: Ocho lost his job with the Miami Dolphins and supplemental income from the proposed reality show, "Ev & Ocho";
  2. Potential loss of freedom: Ocho was arrested and charged with simple battery, domestic violence after the incident took place and now faces up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine;
  3. Breakdown of a marriage: Ev filed for divorce today, claiming the marriage was "irretrievably broken"; and
  4. Effects on the children: Ev & Ocho have 5 children between them.  I can't imagine how traumatic this whole experience has been on them.
I'll be watching closely to see how this case plays out and passing along my two cents every now and then.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this too...

Aug 8, 2012

I Had A Dream

Last night I had a dream.  It was one of those dreams that left me fearful and anxious for a little while after I woke up.  I dreamed of a woman who was being physically abused by her father.  He would punch and kick her repeatedly for no apparent reason, tearing her down both physically and emotionally.  The trauma of it all forced me to open my eyes and return to reality.  But as I lay awake, I realized this woman is not confined to my dream.  She is a real, live person, struggling to maintain an outward appearance of normalcy while falling apart on the inside.  Is she you?  Or is she someone you know?  Please know that help is just have to make that move.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please seek help by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE or by visiting their website at

You have more strength than you give yourself credit for.

Aug 5, 2012

Sickness & The Single Mom

I pride myself on being a pretty independent woman.  Like super-talented songstress and fellow single mom, Jill Scott said in her song "The Fact Is (I Need You)", "I can pay my own light bill baby...put my own gas in my own car...I can buy my own shoe collection...I've been blessed thus far..." 

Regardless of how independent I may be, there comes a time when I have to admit it would be nice to have a man around the house.  Of course, I already talked about this in my earlier post where I sure could have used a big, strong man to come and kill some unidentified creature that had found its way into my bathroom.  But there are also times like this weekend, when my head feels like its stuck in the clouds, my energy level is below zero and my kids have an uncanny resemblance to the Energizer Bunny, yet all I can think about is ensuring I have a steady supply of:

How sweet would it be to have some help at a time like this?!  Someone to fulfill K's request for Sunday morning pancakes?  Someone to play Wii tennis with J?  Or someone to run to the store to pick me up some more OJ?!

I have to say, I did have a couple of sweet offers to bring me some soup, which I really appreciated (thank you again!).  But considering I look a hot, steaming mess right now (think matted hair, runny nose, glassy eyes and jacked up voice, minus the energy to make myself look half decent), I felt I had no choice but to respectfully decline.  The adult company sure would have been nice though.

My only solace is found in knowing that this too shall pass, just like everything else.  My kids, bless their hearts, are doing their best to take care of Mommy with lots of hugs, kisses and "I hope you feel better" wishes.  Within a couple of days, I should be back to my normal self.  But for right now, the couch is my new best friend...

Jul 30, 2012

"Mommy, why don't you and Daddy like each other?"

I have never been very good at hiding my emotions.  I've often had people tell me my facial expressions make it easy to figure out what's going through my mind at any given time.  So just imagine how I am for the few minutes I have to be in the same vicinity as my children's father twice a month to drop off and pick up K and J.  It's near torture to remain civil but I try my best, for the sake of my children if nothing else.
Unfortunately, there have been times when I have not been able to keep my mouth shut and my thoughts to myself.  There have been times, I'm embarrassed to say, that I have argued with my ex in front of my children and kicked myself later for my lack of self-control.  I allowed the urge for me to let him know he is no longer in control of me, my moves, my thoughts, my feelings, my LIFE...I allowed that urge to overshadow the need to keep it together for the sake of my children.  I want them to have happy memories of their childhood, even if the structure of their home is unconventional by society's standards.  Watching Mommy argue with Daddy in the parking lot of McDonald's is not the type of memory I had in mind.

After the last confrontation a few weeks ago, in which I have to say I did my best to stay calm and did not say any bad words (rude gestures out of my kids' line of vision don't count, right??), K asked me with tears in her eyes why her daddy and I don't like each other.  My heart broke for her.  Just the thought of my parents going at each other the way she has seen her father and I do on a number of occasions crushes me.  I can't imagine how a 9 and 8 year old would feel seeing that.

At that moment, I knew something had to give.  And after almost 6 years of single motherhood, I have finally come to understand the best way to avoid confrontation...ignore him.  We rarely speak to each other anyway; our preferred method of communication is text messages.  Unless a text comes through that specifically relates to the well-being of K and J, I ignore it.  It's just better that way.  Since employing this simple yet effective approach which has also been embraced by Mely over at one of my favorite blogs to follow, Sex, Lies & Bacon, I have found there is much less drama between us.  And when we have to be around each other to pick up and drop off the kids, I choose to say my hellos and goodbyes to K and J inside the car rather than outside.  That way, they should only see Mommy and Daddy smiling at them as they come and go, not saying hateful things to each other.

Who knows?  Maybe one day I'll be in a place where he and I can have a civil conversation with each other, filled with respect for each other's feelings, and the urge to show my independence will stay below the surface.  Only time will tell...

Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships...and Why They Shouldn't: #2

I Don't Want My Children To Grow Up Without Their Father

I'll be honest.  This is the reason I stuck around for as long as I did.  My parents have been married to each other for 43 years.  They're amazing.  They have always been there to provide whatever my sisters and I needed, whether it was great advice, a wake-up call or a kick up the backside!  They have always been there TOGETHER.  So when I married and started a family, I never dreamed my children would have anything less than what I had as I was growing up.  Because really, who enters a marriage with the intent to divorce and raise their children in a "broken" home?

I certainly didn't.  And to this day, it pains me that my children are growing up in a single parent home.  Although single parent homes are sadly becoming more and more commonplace these days, it still hurts me to see other kids fortunate enough to have both parents come to their soccer games, school plays, dance recitals...and sit together without being forced to!  I think most of you know that's not possible for my children's father and me.  I hate that my children will never experience that.  But it is what it is...

The reality is, staying in an abusive and unhealthy relationship takes a toll on you emotionally and in turn adversely affects your children.  If you are unhappy, your children can sense that.  I will never forget the petrified scream that came from my daughter's tiny less than 1 year old body when she saw Mommy's arm being held a little too tightly.  Or the uncertain look on my baby boy's face when he saw Mommy get slapped across the face in the car.  Neither of them knew how to process what they had seen, but they knew something was not right.  I pray that time has erased the memories of  what they saw.

 The long term effects of being raised in an abusive household can range from anger issues, anxiety, depression, bed wetting and sleep disturbances.  Many children of abusive households grow into abusers themselves and repeat the cycle in their adult life.  Clearly these effects far outweigh the desire to raise your children in the same home as their abusive father. 

Fortunately, my children were never mistreated.  However, I knew I did not want my daughter to grow up thinking an abusive household was normal.  And I certainly knew I did not want my son to turn into another woman's abuser 18 years down the line.  These thoughts are what prompted me to make my big move.  If you haven't already, read my post How I Picked Up the Pieces to learn how I made my move and began the process of rebuilding my life.  It's not easy but it's definitely not impossible.

Your children deserve to be raised in a happy and healthy home.  That does not necessarily mean both parents have to be in the same home at the same time.  Sometimes it is more beneficial for the children to be raised in a single parent, happy home than a two-parent miserable and frightening home.  I know that is definitely the case for my children and me.  I am a much more effective parent to them now than when I was carrying the stress of my situation around with me 24/7.

I pray these words have touched someone, somewhere in a situation they feel they can find no way out of.  All it takes is one call and you can begin your own, personal pursuit of happiness.  A good starting place is the National Domestic Violence Hotline - (800) 799-SAFE.   For my English friends, click here or call 0808 2000 247.  You can even contact me through my Facebook Page, on Twitter or by leaving a comment below.  You can also email me from the blog home page.  I'm happy to help in any way I can.  Just please, make a move before it's too late.

Jul 9, 2012

Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships...and Why They Shouldn't: #1

It's so easy to look at a woman in an abusive relationship and think "why doesn't she just leave?".  Which one of us females has not thought that if a man was crazy enough to raise his hand to  hit me, I'd leave him before he had the chance to make contact?  Well, it's easy to say what we would do when we're on the outside looking in.  But when you're actually in the situation, it's not so clear cut.  Here is one of the more common reasons women stay in abusive relationships and why they shouldn't:

"He'll Change"

Trust me, he won't.  And even if his behavior does seem to be less aggressive, it will be a temporary change.  It's just a part of the Cycle of Abuse:

During Stage 1, tensions begin to build and the abused becomes fearful of the next abusive episode.  She may feel like she's walking on eggshells, trying not to upset the abuser in order to avoid pushing him too far.  Next is Stage 2, the abusive Incident itself.  Abuse can take many forms, whether physical, emotional, verbal or sexual.  Each is just as damaging to the victim as the other.

Stage 3 is Reconciliation, where the abuser appears to regret his actions and does whatever he can to regain your forgiveness and trust.  He may buy you flowers, chocolates and other gifts, while apologizing profusely for what he did.  He might make suggestions of ways to prevent it from happening again, which usually requires a change in your behavior, rather than his.  For example, he might say something like, "If you would just make sure dinner is on time when I get home/the house is clean/the kids behave themselves, then I wouldn't lose my temper and hit you".  Some abusers even attempt to downplay the severity of the Incident, or pretend like it never happened, causing confusion in the mind of the abused.  She starts to think she may be overreacting to what happened...once the bruises start to fade and the cuts begin to heal, maybe what he did wasn't so bad after all.

However, despite his outward showing of remorse, often during the Reconciliation stage the abuser is fantasizing about the next "Incident".  And so the cycle continues...

If this pattern of behavior sounds like your relationship or the relationship of someone you know, you (or they) are in a dangerous position and need to get out NOW.  If you're not sure of how to make that happen, a quick google search can help you find resources in your area that can help you make an escape plan, as well as assist you in taking the first steps toward rebuilding your life once you make that move.  A good starting place is the National Domestic Violence Hotline - (800) 799-SAFE.  For my English friends, click here or call 0808 2000 247.


Next post coming soon: Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships...and Why They Shouldn't: #2 - "I Don't Want My Children to Grow Up Without Their Father".

Note: To make it easier on myself, I have referred to the abused in this post as a female and to the abuser as a male.  However, there are many instances where the female is the abuser, as well as abuse that takes place in same sex relationships.  That being said, everything I have written applies to all abusive relationships, regardless of the dynamics.

Jul 6, 2012

The Moment When I NEED, Rather than Want, a Man in My Life...

Tonight I had an uninvited guest in my bathroom as I got ready for bed. I swear this thing is gonna haunt me in my dreams. Although it would have been great to have a man kill and dispose of it, I grabbed my handy dandy broom, pounded it from a distance and flushed it down the toilet.

I am Woman. Hear me roar!

Jul 1, 2012

How Charlotte Got Her Groove Back

OK, don't let the title of this post fool you.  Yes,  I was in Jamaica a few weeks ago but I did not "get my groove back" Angela Bassett/Taye Diggs style.  No, instead I am taking the advice of the Millionaire Matchmaker herself, Patti Stanger and spending some time in "Dating Detox".  In her book, Become Your Own Matchmaker: 8 Easy Steps for Attracting Your Perfect Mate, Ms. Patti stresses the importance of taking time to do the things that make you happy rather than looking for a man to fill the void following a breakup.  Since my children are spending a lot of time with their father this summer, I figured now is the perfect time for me to detox a little and have some "me time"! 

And what better way to put a smile on my face than to pamper myself a little?  On Friday, I went to one of the best hair stylists in the Nashville area, Patience Barton, and let's just say I did not leave disappointed:

I know, cute right??  For those that don't know, I'm 5 months into transitioning my relaxed hair to natural.  A difficult task at any time of year, but in this ridiculous 100+ degree heat it's enough to break a sista down and make me run to the salon for a hefty dose of "creamy crack".  But thanks to Patience's amazing talent with a blow dryer and round brush, I do believe I can last another month at least.  Thanks again, Patience!

Second step to getting my groove back was a girl's night out with a couple of my great friends.  It's impossible not to be in good spirits when the conversation and sangria is flowing ;-)  Here's a picture of me ready to head out for the evening:

Third, what kind of female would I be if I did not indulge in a little retail therapy to get me over the hump?  Of course, being a single mom I always have to stay within budget.  No point using the mortgage payment to have the cutest dress in the store, right?  Here's one of the purchases I made during my most recent session:

Very productive, wouldn't you agree?  Every time I wear it, I feel like a new woman!  OK, maybe not really but it's pretty darn cute.

The bottom line is I'm doing the things that make me happy.  I have been guilty of relying on others (usually the men in my life) to make me happy and that's just not healthy.  Right now feels like a good time to love on myself for a while and not worry about being in a relationship.  I mentioned in my earlier post, That Ever-Elusive Thing Called Love that my married friends have been telling me to enjoy my single life and to wait for true love to find me ever since my divorce more than 4 years ago.  But I never really understood what that meant until this weekend.  Spending time doing the things I love showed me I can have just as much fun alone and with my friends as I can in a relationship.  I want to spend time re-developing my relationship with God, which I have slacked off on a little recently.  I want to develop new friendships and continue building on my existing ones.  Today I spent 5 hours in Panera catching up with a friend I haven't seen in months and learned things about her that I never knew before.  That's what I'm talking about!  Then maybe when the time is right, I'll consider the possibility of a new relationship but for right now I'm just happy being me :)

Jun 26, 2012

Open Letter to my son, J

To my only son and number one guy in my life, J.  I look at you, your smile, your big brown eyes and your perfect little nose and I am in awe that you are my child.  I doubt you will ever fully understand the depth and power of my love for you and your sister.  I am so grateful to you for your ability to always put a smile on my face even on the darkest of days.  Just a smile from you reminds me that things aren't so bad after all.

As you continue to grown into a smart and handsome young man, remember you are a man of God.  Remember the values I have taught you so far.  Pay attention in school.  Don't be afraid to be your own person instead of following the crowd.  Stand up for what is right when you see others doing wrong.  Always have your sister's back - you guys are a team!  And last but certainly not least, always be a gentleman and treat a lady with the respect she deserves. 

I always wanted you and your sister to have the best of everything I can possibly give you.  I hope that one day when you are older, perhaps with a family of your own, you will look back on these years with fond memories of the times we all shared together.  And now matter how old you are, how many college degrees, and how many kids you have, you will always be my baby boy :)

I love you Jayster!
Mommy xx

Jun 24, 2012

That Ever-Elusive Thing Called Love...

Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.” - Bob Marley.

I don't know about you but that sounds like a dream to me.  To have someone in my life with whom I have the most special, most intimate relationship to the point they become a part of me.  I have experienced this feeling in relatively short bursts, only for some aspect of the union to go awry and I find myself single once again.  But to have that feeling consistently, permanently, genuinely, willingly...for a lifetime?  Seems like a dream to me.

I look all around and see people who are apparently living this dream.  Of course, one never knows what the story is behind closed doors, but at least on the outside they seem to have this love thing down.  And when I'm single, they always seem to have the same advice for me: "Enjoy the single life for as long as you can!", or  "Mr. Right will come along when you least expect him", and my personal favorite, "Don't look for love, let love find you!"  Those of you that know me know that I am the most impulsive and impatient person I know so that last little pearl of wisdom seems near impossible to me!

Last night after my kids and I returned from our wonderful vacation, I faced the harsh reality of singlehood.  My awesome bff picked us up at the airport and brought us home (thanks again boo xx).  I stood in my living room, overflowing with vacation stories and pictures, not to mention the dreaded task of unpacking and the never-ending cycle of laundry, and no one to share them with.  Of course I could have invited friends over or called someone to let them know I was back.  But you know what I's just not the same as having a special someone who wants to be there to hear and share in that experience with me.  Someone who really missed me and couldn't wait for me to get back so we could continue to develop our lives together.

Excuse me while I host my own pity party over here.  But as they say, time is a great healer.  I just haven't had enough time yet.  To top it off my kids leave to spend some time with their dad today.  4 weeks to be exact.  On the bright side, that leaves me with extra time to heal and to find things I enjoy doing just for me; more words of wisdom from a married friend.  Maybe I'll do some work around my house and finally put my mark on it.  I've been wanting to buy some bar stools for months.  I can finish painting J and my rooms that I started on a whim before leaving for vacation (my impulsive side showing once again).  I might even try my hand at some yard work...ok let's not get too carried away...

Seriously though, I should have more girls nights out with my friends.  Work on my blog some more since writing is even more therapeutic for me than I realized, and I can see this thing now going in a whole other direction than I initially planned.  I'm kind of excited about that.  Shoot, maybe I'll take up some classes or something.  Get out there and do something!  Who knows, maybe my married friends are right and love will find me when I least expect it...

Jamaica, the Beautiful...America, the Privileged

As many of you know, my parents’ native country is Jamaica. After raising myself and my sisters in England, they moved back “home” about 6 years ago. This summer my kids and I were blessed enough to spend 10 days with them and loved every minute of it!

Usually when people I know visit Jamaica, they stay at the usual tourist hotspots…Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios. They are warned to stay within the walls of the resort for their own safety. As beautiful as the resorts are, I feel that they do not allow tourists to see the Real Jamaica. Yeah, you’ll see the clear blue sea and sandy beaches. You’ll see Jamaican citizens working in the resort and hear their sing-song patois as they call out to you to buy t-shirts, wristbands or other souvenirs.

But what don’t you see? You won’t see where they live, where they shop and how they get there. You won’t see the bumpy roads they travel to get to where they need to be. You won’t see school children in their brown and blue uniforms walking to and from school. You’ll never know that children go to school in shifts rather than all day like our children do. You won’t see grown men and women standing on street corners begging for money to buy ice cream to cool down from the intense Jamaican sun. And you’ll never see cows and goats crossing the street, and the cars that slow down to let them pass just like any other pedestrian.

During my trip I was able to see the Real Jamaica. I’m not going to lie, some of it was a little scary.  Seeing people step into the street in front of my dad's car without looking both ways made me a little nervous for their safety and ours!   Being asked repeatedly to allow my son to ride a donkey on the beach was a little unnerving. (Those dudes just don't take no for an answer!)

It was also eye-opening.  While watching the children wait for a taxi to take them home after school, I noticed the differences between them and my children.  It's way deeper than the way they talk.  It's in their whole approach to life.  My children have most likely already had way more opportunities than their Jamaican counterparts and my kids have completely taken what they have for granted.  I'm not saying their ungrateful by any means.  It's just a given to them that they're able to do the things they do, whereas the children in Jamaica know they will have to work harder for what they want.  As J sat in my dad’s car listening to his mp3 player and playing his PSP, I watched the school boys staring at him curiously as they walked by. It hurt my heart that there was no connection between them, which is silly really because their eyes locked only for a fleeting moment through the barrier of the car window.  Not like they could strike up a friendship right there and then, right??

This post isn't really in line with the overall theme of my blog but it was on my mind so I decided to post it anyway.  We take so many things for granted here...water, electricity, smooth roads to drive along, access to quality (though expensive) health care...those things aren't necessarily a guarantee in other parts of the world.  I'm determined to thank God everyday for what my children and I have and to not sweat the small stuff.  I encourage you to do the same.

Jun 12, 2012

Abused - A Poem by Imani Rhema

Yesterday I received a very moving poem from a great friend of mine.  She is a super talented spoken word artist, and her skills are always well-received at poetry events in the Nashville area.  Check her out on Facebook (Imani Rhema) or follow her on twitter (@imanirhema) to find out where she will be performing next!

She was kind enough to agree to me posting her work on my blog for all to see.  It really captures the maddening "cycle of abuse" and gives the reader a sense of the various emotions experienced by the abused.  Thank you, Imani for sharing your gift with us.  You are one of the strongest "SiStars" I know :)


Reluctantly she

Goes to the mirror to gingerly

Wipe the bloodstained tears

That have dried on her face

Standing up straight to regain her composure

Though her nose is tender and swollen

And there’s holes in her hose, her

Heart is heavy she holds her

Chin up

Tries to conjure a fake grin up

But her jaw is too tight for it to last long

She covers her bruises with make up

And tells herself to stand strong

She has to keep up the appearances

For her new employer

And as a youngster she observed her mother

Make it through the pain for years

And Junior?

He fears that he may hug his mama too tight

Because even his toddler embraces cause her discomfort and pain

He watched her new lover grapple with mommy

Like he was in a welterweight championship ring

Because when he arrived home late from work

Dinner wasn’t quite ready

Her stance wasn’t quite steady

Because the dizzy spells set in when the kitchen is warm

And she is torn

Between staying in the unsafe haven that he provides

And escaping to a battered woman’s shelter

Her pride makes her decision to stay seem helter skelter

Because someone on the outside, in their right mind would surely find

That a temporary living situation must be better than a permanent hell

No one can tell her to leave because her self-esteem seems to have left with her dreams

She didn’t complete her degree and her wages are minimum

He allows her to charge the credit card to the maximum

To make up for his guilt and his shame

Shopping only momentarily dulls her pain

Standing in the fitting room mirror in her designer threads

Looking as elegant as a supermodel on a runway

Pretending she has run away to a faraway place

With no bruises on her face

With no welp marks on her waist

No contusions no confusion…

But it’s just a delusion

Because she is afraid to muster up the courage to leave

The illusion of materialism and greed

Deceives her into believing

That there is no way out

She couldn’t possibly afford a car note, daycare

And a payment on a house


Waiting on the next time for her man to snap

For something minimal

Him becoming a domestic terrorist was subliminal

He grew up watching his dad abuse his mom daily

And he himself wants to stop but his lady

Just lets him get away with it

He used to love her but now the respect is out the window

He blames her for his temper

That kicks in when the wind blows

He never thought he’d have the nerve to

Put a woman’s head through the bedroom window

And he’s trapped between

Becoming a real man and getting control of his emotions

And using his money to get the power he thinks he needs to control her

The cycle must stop

She has got

To know her value understand her worth

She was created with great purpose and destiny from birth

She doesn’t need letters behind her name to be worthy

A child out of wedlock does not make her dirty

A fresh start, a new heart is what she needed

Want your degree? Just go complete it

Want to lose weight? Just watch your eating and move

You can do whatever you want to do

You can be whatever you want to be

Open your eyes and realize dreams can become reality

Perseverance, faith and fortitude can rebuild your esteem

You may know this woman. It was me.