Opportunity In The Rough

Over the weekend, I was having a conversation with Young Gun about a mutual friend becoming a manager. He started his journey taking a job for a little over $8 per hour. He had a wife, new baby, and new bills to take care of with that measly ol’ $8, but he saw beyond the pay. He saw the opportunity.

At the risk of sounding like an old person, that is what is wrong with some of the younger gens today. What it might look like at the onset is not always what it is under the surface.  Not many are willing to get grimy, lose money or sleep to get to the underbelly of the opportunity. Go get coffee and be ignored for chump change? No office? Terrible hours? You mean I can’t do what I want and still get where I want? I can’t just snap a photo or take a video and be famous without actually working? For some of us, sure. Those are the lucky s.o.b’s. The rest of us, however, not so much.

When opportunity knocks, even if it is a grimy one, it takes a wise man (or woman) to jump on it. Taking a job is about more than just the pay. What are the benefits? Can you grow? How can you use them to make yourself better?

The hardest opportunities to grab are ones that don’t really look like opportunities at all. They look more like cluster fudges (teehee). They are diamonds in the rough. They are mired in grime and muck, they stink even—oh, but when we take them in and clean them off they open up to something more.

The part of life I love the absolute best are the hidden treasures. Sure, it sucks to have to clean toilets to become CEO, but in the end, the benefits of the journey outweigh the end goal. Naturally, our friend did not want to take an $8 an hour job, but he saw beyond the weeds. He saw with a little of this and a little of that, ‘it was still some good’. And here is the bestist part of all—with every opportunity, every single one, comes knowledge. The knowledge preps us for what is coming next. I get excited just thinking about it!

So, the next time something saunters on by that doesn’t look like much or isn’t ideal, don’t shoo it away. Take a chance. What can it hurt? If you don’t like what you see when you open the door, politely say “no wannit”, close it, turn the lock and carry on.

~SM

Energy Shift

After a long week chocked full o’ vomit and diarrhea (now dubbed Stomachbugmagedon henceforth), a much-needed breath of fresh air was warranted. YG and I snatched up the baby, slipped into a pew, heard some desperately craved Word and took a Sunday ride. Along the ride, we had a bare naked conversation about where we were individually and collectively. I did not like our energy. Neither of us had been the same for a long while. Our lives seemed to be unraveling at the corners and eventually, the whole thing would come apart. But if we could prevent that, then why not? We are everything. Everything is us. What we put out is what we get back. If he hadn’t lost that, I certainly had…it was time I got it back.

Energy is everything. I had forgotten that. I had let myself forget I am apart of this thing called life. Not the ‘life’ we are always talking about—the journeys and the a-ha’s—but life the living, breathing thing. I let the sludge get mixed in with the good and it turned sour. I forgot what I was putting into the world would return to me in the way I presented it.

The moment we walked out of the church, our energy shifted. The second we ended our naked conversation, the air shifted. Things were possible. Yes, somethings might be a little on the tougher side, but it all seemed possible. We saw an open house sign and decided to just go take a look. Buying a home right now is a long way away, but what harm would it do to just pretend for a little while? From the onset, it was perfect for us and when we walked out our lives had shifted. We could no longer afford to fumble around in the dark, walk on eggshells or defer dreams. We had to become one with that which was around us, become one with each other and most importantly, allow God to breathe life onto dusty bones.

We walked out talking excitedly as if we would go home and call our banker right away. We smiled at the thought of The Boy finally getting his own bathroom too little too late. We made plans for the unfinished rooms in the basement. When the day turned to night and everyone was snuggled under their individual covers, I slipped into the shower. I closed my eyes and for the next ten minutes, I pictured myself taking a shower in the home we had walked through…our home.  I turned the water off and smiled. Hope had returned and pretty soon our energy would be right where it should be. Thank God for the shift.

~SM

Life & Time

I stepped into a friend’s beautiful home, full of warmth and the air thick with love, lugging The Baby, bags and The Kids. I sat across from an old friend, his face a little older, middle a smidge softer, and gray streaking his beard. We talked about his job and kids. It was sort of surreal to see us in this space. My babies (save the last one) were no longer babies, neither were his. At one time, both sets could be held on a lap or in the crook of an arm, but no longer. They were too busy running by or engrossed by whatever technology held their interest. Somehow, the time had flown.

Somehow life had been lived in the space of these almost twenty years. A lot of life had been lived. Adventures had been had, ideals had been formed and then questioned. Morals had been strengthened or lost…God, Himself, had made a lasting impression. Time was a moving, living, breathing thing, and we had moved, lived and breathed right along with it.

When I drove away, long-legged kids folded in their positions, heads bowed to the iPhone god, I thought about how I had gotten here. How had I ended up with two young adults, a new tiny one and all the attached adventure and wisdom? How had I made it past the devil’s tricks and my own stupidity? How had I found God and lost Him? How had I face planted and gotten back up? How had it all come to pass, and I was still able to tell all about it?

The how will forever be a mystery. The why, too. The awe, though, continues to take my breath away. I have lived. Man, oh man, have I lived. No, I have not been outside the country or brought down Goliath, but in my own little way, I have lived. It has been a ride, let me tell ya. Yes, there are days I would rather just sleep through it until I am ready to deal, but overall, it has been a fun ride chock full o’ nuts and laughter and joy and love. Boy…the stories I could tell (wink), but I won’t. I will keep them as my own little treasure, and when the days get long and my heart is heavy I will dig them up and take a peek. I will grab a snack, settle under the covers, Lifeflix…and chill 😉

~SM

I’m A Whole Grown Up Out Here

I stopped licking my fingers (recently I might add). It was an automatic thing, me eating/touching something which left a residue of goodness on my fingertips and I would put them in my mouth. Then, one day—not sure when—I picked up a napkin and wiped off my fingers. Just like that, I suddenly saw what I had lost sight of so many, many times. Hot damn, I am an adult.

I am a grown up. I can come and go as I please. I can tell someone to kiss my ass and care not what they say/do as I bend over to make said ass more accessible. I can make choices and decisions and let that be that (take that kids!). I can speak or naw. I can pay bills or naw. I can say ‘or naw’ and not care how played the wording is or how old it makes me sound (take that children!). I can blast Young Thug on a Thursday and Beethoven on a Friday. I can clap each word like a Maury guest, and I can correct terrible speech (mines is not a word people). I. Am. Grown.

Being grown is a little rough. There’s a balancing act taking place we were never privy to growing up: being oneself yet appearing to fit into the world. Pfftt…I’m refusing to fit. I hate fitting in anyway. Fitting in is for suckas (take that jive turkeys!). Yup, we know this shit is hard AF. The Boy and Girl think its all Forever 21 and loud music, but nope. Its bills, balancing acts, arguments, eff you’s, make ups and breakups. It is lacking the understanding of the surroundings. It is watching body parts stretch and drop…but…on the flip side…

It is being who we want to be (fist bump!). It is allowing ourselves the moments to really sit into who we are and be okay. I know who I am, honey, and I’m aiight with all of it. I get to be who I want to be. I get to hold my mule or smack his ass and let him go. I understand the power held in every fiber of my being. I can bring humans into this world and still rock on like it’s nothing (she bad). I can be self-reliant. I can change the world or….naw (tee hee).

Hey, if you don’t know, now you know, Adults. Get with it. Understand your responsibility to yourself first, family second and give all props to whatever god you serve. Stand tall and be you. Take the blows. Absorb them and learn the lesson. Now is the time to adult. When it seems the roughest is when you are at your bestest. Grind until your fingers bleed. If you lose sleep, lose it. If you don’t eat, starve. If you have to drag yourself across whatever finish line lay ahead, get to draggin’. JUST DO SOMETHING. Do everything. Do what you have to do to make it. If you don’t even try, you will have wasted your power on excuses. No one stops you BUT you…you are grown after all (wink).

~SM

Thank God for Baseball

Running through the day ahead, I stopped at the thought of the game tonight. My throat tightens, my eyes water and I wave tears away before they fall. For anyone who has children, it is safe to say they save you. There is a moment when the every day becomes too much and, as if they can read your thoughts, they come with a word, a smile or a moment. This act comes far and few between as they enter the space between being a child and putting away childish things, but it still does. And when it does, it means even more.

My children have saved me and they never knew. They have managed to take care of me just by being themselves. Seeing The Girl cross-legged in her bed in the wee hours, hair piled atop her head, laptop open, notebooks and text books strewn everywhere ignites hope. Seeing her see her possibility gives me life. Watching the baby rock back and forth on her tiny knees, raring to take off to nowhere, breathes life into my soul. And then…there is baseball.

Our lives have been lived on highways and byways, our Saturdays and Sundays swallowed whole. Our bank accounts drained for the purpose of investing in purpose. There is something to be said about the end of a long, hot ball game Saturday. Everything is dropped at the door, shoes are tossed in which ever direction they are kicked, everyone sighs with the release of home in their bones. The early 8 AM game and the late 8 PM nail biter have long since rolled off the shoulders and everyone is spent. And it will  happen all over again tomorrow. The long week of rushing from work to kids to drive-thru to practice to home to barely sleeping and repeat is also ahead of you, but you would never trade it for peace and quiet. You need this. You breathe this. You are a part of the dream and by proxy, you dream this.

I sat at work, waving away the tears thinking of him standing on the mound—smile slipping from under the game face and the arrogant walk off before blue even marks his last k with a barked “strike!” Today, he would save me. He would take away thoughts how’s, what’s and why’s. He would temporarily lift the weight. He wouldn’t know it as he leans forward, feet planted in the dusty red of the infield. He would never realize as he stands in the box trying like hell to hit his mark. Nothing about his glance to the bleachers and his wink would tell he knows, but I do. I know. For a few hours, I get to breathe. Baseball and all that comes with it has saved me…

~SM

The Possible Underneath

We are struggling pretty hard these days. We get paid on Friday morning and by Friday morning we are broke (yea, you read that right). I am barely keeping the car company off my ass, and most nights I spend the wee hours of the morning hoping the loud pickup trucks ambling by are not tow trucks. Rent is paid late, but seriously who has $1500 on the first, ever?  I slowly pass by the almond butters, the salmons and the exotic fruits and veggies for the staples: peanut butter, fish sticks and iceberg lettuce (or frozen brocc). We are in the sweet spot of making too much on paper but making too little in the real world. It can be hard to dream under these circumstances, yes? Ah…but I manage.

Don’t get me wrong, we have joyous moments. We play board games with the kids (when we tie them down) or throw caution to the wind and rent an odd movie or two (The Oath is so random). We forget about bills, empty bank accounts and pickup trucks rolling by for stretches at a time. A slobbery smile from Cookie or an out of place dance move from The Girl or an absurd comment from The Boy peek under the blanket of stress, for a moment. And in the quiet moments, when the house is quiet and the only sound is stillness, I dream.

Possibility is a constant. It never fades. It is always there to be rummaged through. It is why I lose myself in the stillness and dream. I dream of writing. I dream of creating a space all my own. I dream of vacations. I dream of being better than Sir King. I dream of my children rolling their eyes at the mention of my books from a stranger/classmate/teacher. I dream of big oaks and a conversation with Madam O. I dream about me, the little green sprout, pushing through the cold, uncomfortable blanket of snow.

It is not impossible. Nothing is impossible. It feels like it. My God does it feel like it, but underneath all of this heavy, there is something…possible. No, this isn’t comfy. It affects the sight and the mind. It makes things appear so much different than it is making it hard to navigate. It is easy to get lost when everything is covered. But the minuscule, lush green beacon of light poking through the blinding white is a reminder that everything is possible….I just have to hang on and dig a little deeper. I have to rummage through the possible and grab something, anything, and try it on for size. There is nothing to lose but opportunities not seized.

~SM

Humble Much?

Each of my children is special. Yes, most parents believe that and they should, but it is clear to see from an early age that each of my littles has a serious purpose. One was born with a spirit of observation and understanding. Another the spirit of pure, easy joy. And, another with the spirit of accomplishment. Only one, however, was born with the hardest of heads and the softest of…

The Boy was forced into this world (after deciding in utero that being in there was way better than being out here). Shortly after he was rolled out onto the scene (literally), his brain was trying to make the body do the impossible. Crawl? Please. I would rather walk. Walk? No thank you. I would rather run. And, eventually, when his body and mind began to work in tandem he did just that.

The Ex and I endured years of him running, jumping and dare deviling. On any given day, strangers stop him to shake his hand or wave hello. “How do you know them?” I ask. As a youngin I would get a direct answer like “Oh, he’s Coach so and so” or “I played against him in [insert sport here]”, but today I get a cocky smile, a wink, and a “Cmon Mommy. I’m [The Boy].” Humble much?

As he grew into a young man and life started getting a smidge difficult, I would remind him to attempt humbleness. To him, everything is easy because…well…he’s [The Boy]. Until it isn’t. And when it isn’t we are subjected to fits of silence and the banana face.

There is something peaceful about being humble. The action of stripping off the ego and admitting you are not [insert egotistical thought here] feels freeing. Breath comes easier, shoulders lower, muscles relax. We are no longer fighting against what we truly don’t know. We are no longer swimming upstream.

Last night, his room washed in darkness, his long body sprawled across the bed, and his head covered I wanted to tell him to be humble. His most recent nemesis (the driving test) had him pouting and struggling to understand why he could not pass. He was [The Boy], after all. “Yes,” I wanted to say, “you are amazing. Yes, you are special. Yes, God blessed you to be a master in your gift, but not everything in your path will be easy. Sometimes, son, you have to step down, tamp down the confidence. Humility is most important because in the humble is where the learning happens.” Instead, I just stood in the doorway and watched him ignore me. After a moment, I shut his door and walked away without a word. This time he would have to find it out on his own. Hard heads make for soft behinds. Pretty soon, he will get tired of having a sore ass.

~SM