Category Archives: Finding 40

Whatever Happens, Love That

“…you need a mantra…Whatever happens, love that…”

~Match Making for Beginners

 

For a few weeks now, the thought of settling into mediocracy has become more appealing. Even hamsters get off the wheel sometimes. The barrage of ideas, plans and what-ifs can make a person weary in their well-doing.

I have been wrestling with mediocracy. I tell myself I just simply cannot be ordinary or I must dream big, but really…do I? What if all we were ever meant to be is exactly what we are? Not everyone was built to be an Oprah or a Michelle O or a Bey. Some of us are just meant to be exactly what we are, and that is okay.

We are taught from a very young age through various channels we should go beyond where we are. If you are fat, be skinny. If you are as flat as a teenage boy, buy body parts. If you are poor, get rich. If you are uncoupled, be coupled. In the years between vanilla life acknowledgment and the colorful just out of reach, we claw our way up. But should we though? Think of all the energy wasted on trying to be something not meant for you. Was it worth it?

Last night I watched a group of young men and women sing and dance. They were all amazing. The courage to stand in a crowded room and leave their talent spent on stage was beautiful to see. Afterward, I thought about what would happen to them in the next ten to fifteen years. How many of them would ignore the present and fight to get a toe onto the promise land? How many would be still be talking about making it when really they have already made it? How many would be satisfied with church on Sundays, meatloaf on Wednesdays, and a 9 to 5? My guess…hardly any.

They have been taught to pursue dreams and strive to get from their present point A to the magnificent point B. And that is not entirely wrong. We should dream, but we shouldn’t ignore the regular. And we shouldn’t abhor staying there (some of us). Some of the finest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing lived normal lives. They paid their bills on time, punched a clock every day, loved others and were as full as a person traveling the world with millions in the bank. Who says greater is better? Shouldn’t it be more about loving what comes your way than trying to climb over it for the unknown? What if what is right in front of you is all you are ever going to have? Is it worth missing?

As I start the descent to cuarenta, I am coming to terms with vanilla. Whatever comes my way will just come. I am no longer in need to push the mountains. There is nothing wrong with setting up camp at the foot. I will sit there, outside the tent watching all those who dare to push or climb. I will gladly offer water to the thirsty and nourishment to the hungry. The homemade of flimsy canvas and dirt floor will offer rest to the weary. I will offer a smile and perhaps even a word of wisdom. I will be the cheer squad for those who need it. I am waving the white flag and surrendering to taking it down a notch. Finally, after all this time, I will accept what is present. I will not overlook it for the sake of something better. What I have right this moment is enough. And whatever happens…I am going to love that.

~SM

Running The Tree of Peaches

This is it. You are standing in a sea of people staring at the largest American flag you have ever seen. Of course, you have seen it for the past ten years, same place, same bat time, but somehow it feels different. This year, you have something to prove—to you. You started this thing as a challenge, you repeated it to prove to The Kids anything is possible, you ran this whole thing in emotional shambles, you reduced your run to a walk after injury and sadly, was benched by The Cheersquad while carrying new life. But this time…this year….it is about no one, no one but you……..

For the last ten years, I have run the Peachtree Road Race. I stand in a sea of runners at the starting line, stomach gurgling with nervous anticipation. Every year for a decade I have been a ball of nervous energy as I waited for yet another chance to make it to the end. Each time I get the “Congratulations!” notification, I am all too excited to join an area tradition that has somehow become such a huge part of my life. I have muddled around in the mud with my shoes off after it was over, drank beer in the rain at a pit stop, glided up Cardiac Hill and cried when I crossed the finish line knowing inside all would be well. This time around it should be no different….but, for some strange reason, it is. This year, when the acceptance email came, I was afraid.

Any woman will tell you after she gives birth her body just isn’t the same. I dunno about the Beyonce’s of the world who spit out a kid and bounce right back, but us regular chicks do not always bounce back—especially knocking on the door of forty. Eight months later and I can finally walk up and down the steps without feeling like my whole body is about to fall apart. My joints are back to where they should be and my Va Gina bones have finally stopped hurting. The baby blues have subsided and I think the uterus has no longer gone rogue. I am back to myself–finally. However, the thought of trying to make it 6.2 miles in the Georgia July sun with rusty head, shoulders, knees, and toes makes me a little fearful. When will I train? Hell, when will I sleep? What will I eat? Can I actually make it? Better question: What if I can’t?

This will be the first indication if I am the same because, to be honest, nothing about me feels the same. A lot of days the world is fuzzy and focusing is futile. My heart is sort of numb and everything is tasteless. My immediate responses to everything are either boiling hot or extremely cold with nothing in between. ‘I don’t care’ falls from my lips far too often and it seems ignorance really is bliss. This run will be a test of will and mental mind (as YG says). For a decade, this race has been about everything and everyone but me. It has been proof to others I am capable, proof anyone can do anything, proof I was strong enough to pull through, proof no injury could hold me back. This will be the first of many moments when no one and nothing matters except the one walking six miles in these shoes.

…….The buzz of the crowd swirls around like bees. The announcer has the crowd count down and suddenly, the swell moves. Your feet cross the red and blue line and you realize there is no going back. You have been counted. Your time has been started, and no matter how long it takes, even if you are last, quitting is not an option. And you know what? You don’t want to quit. You want to prove to yourself that you are you, this is you and no matter how far you get from home you will always come back.

~SM

Settling Into Oldish

Whenever I would tease Mommy about getting older, she would smile and say she was happier to be getting older. At twenty years her junior, I could not understand. Older meant things were falling apart and wrinkles. Older meant menopause and drooping everything. Old age meant walkers and medicines. Why be happy about that? Seventy-four days away from the big four-oh, I think I get it.

As you age, you settle more into yourself. The tightly wound ball of confusion that once was you at twenty is now settled and relaxed at fifty. She was excited about the relaxing part. The settling. I get it.

Now that it is my turn for ribbing from youngins, I find myself thinking about Mommy. She hasn’t quite embraced the housecoat (with the snap buttons, ‘member those?) but she has settled in. She isn’t wearing weaves and lashes, but upon suggestion (from The Boy) she will listen to a little Chief Keef. She often proclaims her ‘too old for [insert foolishness here]’ motto and leaves it where they land, but she can entertain an in house Nerf gun fight foolishness, too. She is where she is and that is okay. As I slide into another year, another grey I find myself working toward okay as well.

I’m is what I’m is, all greys and droopy whatever. It takes a minute to remember things and I can’t handle too much nonsense (my patience is -5). I own a housecoat with snap buttons and side pockets. I listen to Young Thug religiously and I live to binge watch Riverdale. Yes, I know what Bitcoin is but I also remember when pay phones were a thing and they took actual coins. I groan when walking up/down stairs, and I swear when it rains my bones hurt. But as I come ’round the mountain, I am quite all right with all of it. With every year I am blessed enough to see, more wisdom and more comfort are settling in. Thank God.

~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

Ms. Don’t Wanna Be Right

I am not right 100% of the time. I wish like hell I was, but I’m not. If I was right I would be pretty close to perfect. I chuckle at the sight of my know-it-all eighteen-year-old self believing that all was right because I knew it. I was it. Having matured just a tad, I realize it takes more courage to be wrong than it does to stand in rightness. Take that, younger me.

In my first marriage, I made mistakes—one of which was always being right. Or, appearing to be. For any given question, I always gave The Ex and The Kids three options. No matter what they chose, it would be my version of correct. I took what I knew about life and made it make sense, and me being correct about everything made sense (duh).

Don’t get me wrong (pun completely intended), more often than not I was actually right, but I never wavered in the moments when I was unsure. I never once said I didn’t know what to do. The words “I told you so” were hovering over every mistake or misjudgment everyone else made, never spoken but always to be implied.

Fast forward twenty years, divorce papers and some growth later and I find myself saying less. Oh, really? I say. Hmmm, I hum thoughtfully. Well, if that’s what you think you should do, I shrug. I am not sure when it happened, but I found out I wasn’t always right. My way was not the way. I also realized the need to be correct was just my fear of not being enough. If I knew what I knew and it was right, I was right. I was perfect.

Nowadays, I don’t bother being much of anything. I just sit back and watch the chips fall where they may. Ask me a question, I will certainly give up the answer—popular or not—but I won’t worry if it is right. There are no “I told you so’s” hovering above.

So, hey, I am not always right. Yup. It is true. I am riddled with wrongness, and I stand in it proudly. My way is, indeed, not always the right way. And that’s okay. I am okay.

~SM

Freeeeeeeee!

There comes a moment, most often a small one, when we realize our freedom. There is this notion we are free 100% of the time, but in all actuality, we aren’t. We are held by our own chains. We chain ourselves to people, places and things without knowing. It could be because the constant fight for independence courses through our veins–the high coming from the spillage onto battlefields of wars never meant for us. Perhaps we have been captive for so long we continue to hold ourselves prisoner. It could even be that we don’t feel worthy. We all have them, these chains. Yet…we all believe we are free. That is until the day we realize we never really were.

Talking to YG about a discussion he is dreading, I recalled the day my invisible jail cell door swung open. Nothing major happened–no Amistad “give us free” moment occurred. The thought just sparked something in my spirit. I was free. I was free to come, go, say, do as I pleased. I was a grown-up. I didn’t have to eat what I didn’t want. I didn’t have to go where I didn’t want. I didn’t have to speak to whomever I chose not to. The small thought passed through me leaving behind a sonic boom cracking the walls of the self-imposed prison and open the door. I was free.

I smiled across the bed at YG, Cookie’s diaper in hand. I stood in my freedom and was comfortable in it. Up to that moment, I had moments of complete imperfection, lack of discipline, and a shitload of selfishness. Up to that moment I had been free to do it all and not regret too much of it. “There’s going to come a time,” I said looking down at Cookie–speaking more to her than her dad, “when you realize you are grown and don’t have to answer to anybody. You won’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.”

The only chains holding us are our own and our notion of freedom isn’t really real until…it is. The day I decided to be free free was the day I got to decide everything for myself. I fastened up Cookie, kissed her fat slobbery cheek and glanced at my husband. I saw he hadn’t noticed his cell door was open, but he would. We always do. We just have to be willing to walk through it.

~SM