Category Archives: The Prelude

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

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

Getting Naked

I, sir/madam, am f@#% awesome. I live with millions of ideas in my head and I am not afraid to dream. Yup, I can be a tad bit selfish and self-absorbed and, yes, those are flaws o’mine (aside from a few others we’ll work on later). I am a mess (you should see my sink and my brain) and I am an aspiring neat freak who can’t quite seem to get the neat part right. I am a tumbleweed on this path called Lost and I am in a sea of many. I am up. I am down. And all of that, each little nuance, is a-effing-mazing. But…who gets to see it?

No one. God, I suppose. He sees all but mainly because He’s all up in through there regardless of what I want. I only allow people to see who I think is appropriate. Common sense tells us our parents shouldn’t see the person we are with our friends. Common sense tells us our bosses shouldn’t see the person we are under the covers with our boo. But outside of common sense…who’s naked? Like all the time—naked?

Me. Today at least. I am naked. I am stripping off the proverbial clothes and dancing in the streets (butt) crack out. If anyone does not like what they see, they have eyelids…they can close em. Today is the day I awaken from this terrible slumber—I pull back the fog of dreariness and the black hole of to-do’s and uncover.

I am a beautiful, twisted mess. I eat too much, am kind too little and drive too fast. I bust knee caps in daydreams, save babies in love and hoard paper in greed. I crave naps, swim in coffee and aspire to tri. I am a bad friend, so-so daughter, and weirdo. Where there is darkness, there is also light. They say there can’t be both but I am living proof there is. I am living proof that there really are two sides to every individual narrative. I live in proof there is a fine line to be walked and a good fight to be won.

I am f@#% awesome. Period.

~SM

Pride & Surprise

What moments and milestones make you most proud? How did God surprise you? (Grit & Virtue)

Every morning, I drag myself into the daycare with Cookie in tow. Eyes still filled with sleep and a silent begging to the lottery gods, I open the door and plant the baby on the floor. I hand over bottles and baby food and ready myself for the next leg of my morning journey. On these mornings, body still aching for the bed, Mrs. J greets us with a smile and asks the rudimentary questions any caregiver should ask. Unsure of how this one morning turned, we got on the topic of my job which then turned into a conversation about me being a writer which steered into the direction of her being a writer too. She wanted to write a book, but was unsure of where to start. A children’s book, go figure. If anyone could, she most definitely should. You have to be sent from God to deal with a room full of slobbering, snotting, crying, peeing/pooping little humans day in and day out. “Hm, I have something for you,” I said. The next morning, I handed her the last (hard) copy of my book. She beamed and said she would read it over the Christmas break and return it when we came back. I waved her off and told her to keep it. It was just collecting dust in a drawer anyway.

There are many moments when I am proud. I am proud of The Boy and all of his accomplishments on the field and his heart off it. I am proud of The Girl and her resourcefulness and her ability to sincerely care for others. I am proud of Young Gun fighting through grief and sadness and still look to the brighter side. I am proud of my parents for still grinding and still giving. I am proud of everyone in my life who does. The only person I am ever, hardly proud of…is me. But this morning, a break in the clouds came and a little warmth buzzed in my belly. This morning, I was proud.

Today was unlike any other. I shuffled into the room, Cookie in hand, ready to just crawl back into bed. “Today I have a purpose!” Mrs. J exclaimed through a broad, gap-toothed smile. For the last few weeks, she has been throwing quotes my way. They are mine. My words. She uses the book/journal as her daily devotional. This morning’s message was to go back to the point in your life when you were doing something that made you happy, really, really happy. She did. She found it was writing. She proceeded to tell me in a rush of words that Today I AM was a blessing. It has helped her so much thus far and she loved it. I sheepishly nodded and smiled. “Great! That was the point. If it helped just one person…” I said with a smile. I kissed Cookie and waved good-bye, smiling to myself just a bit. How ‘bout that.

To actually hold the book in my hands was amazing enough. I had done it. I had taken everything I had gone through over the course of these last four years and managed to make a work of art. I left it on the shelf (literally and figuratively) for the better part of the year due to extenuating circumstances, but in the 11th hour, she appeared again. God surprised me, alright. He not only allowed me to accomplish a major goal, but He made the broken pieces more meaningful than I could have ever imagined. And, yet, He didn’t stop there. He used it all to help someone else become a better them. I shouldn’t be surprised by what He does. But I am.

In the wise words of The Anchorman, I am a glass case of emotion. Just under the surface, there is pride, gratitude, and praise. I am proud of my abilities. I am grateful He chose to use me. I am dancing on the inside thanking Him for loving me enough to put so much greatness in such an unworthy package. Won’t He do?

~Today I HAVE purpose…SM

Expecting The Unexpected

Which unexpected roadblocks [has] hindered your progress and productivity [last] year and how can you overcome them? (Grit & Virtue)

Roadblocks. They suck. A younger me had been partying with friends and a couple of us decided to go out for a drink run.  On our way to the grocery store, we saw the road washed in blue light. It was a roadblock. A huge mobile holding cell was on one side of the street and cops were crawling all over. I freaked out. They would know I had been drinking (at 20)  and I swore up and down they would drag me out of the car and throw me in the mobile cell and cart me away. My friend told me to calm down and shut up. Obviously, we made it through with no problems. The police officer barely looked in my direction. Had I continued to spazz out and look shifty, I am pretty sure he would have. That stupid roadblock suddenly killed any buzz–ever.

The little buzz of newlywed-dom and pregnancy was squashed on multiple occasions by way of roadblocks last year. For some of them, I had to tell myself to calm down and shut up. For others, I had to just power through. I am pretty sure I did not handle every hinderance correctly (actually, one, in particular, I am pretty sure I didn’t, but that is neither here nor there).

The important thing is that it was handled. The roadblocks themselves (at this point) are really not as important. The important take away here is that I/we overcame them…some way some how. Courage and strength prevailed, buzz killed or naw.

Unexpected stuff happens. It is indeed a thing. I think for a while things were going so well I had forgotten the unexpected was lurking like a creeper. I just flew by the seat of my pants and allowed my feet to be off the ground with a new relationship, job, financial security, and blah blah without giving a second thought to what might be standing in the way. Lesson learned…bigly.

While I couldn’t quite get my initial glow back from the informal hangout and Coronas, I was able to reset and still enjoy the rest of the evening. The same can be said for the glow of the good moments experienced recently. I am able, now, to reset and still enjoy what is left. Roadblocks and mobile jail cells will pop up every now and then. It won’t surprise me when it does. I will just stop, breathe, shut up and roll with it.

~SM

Development

“How have you developed emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically over the last 12 months?” [Grit & Virtue]

One rainy Saturday, Young Gun made me sit down and watch Batman (animation) movies all afternoon. Dishes were in the sink, clothes needed washing, the floor needed vacuuming and we still had to move, but he put his size 13 down and I obliged.

One of my most favorite comic book characters is the Joker. Something about his sarcasm, wit and overall cookooyness (made up word…you’re welcome) resonates and the moments of humanity that peek through (barely) always had me curious about who he was really. And then, on said rainy forced-to-relax-Saturday, I got to see the man behind the (not so funny) jokes.

The Joker used to be a pretty decent guy, according to the story told in the Killing Joke. If memory serves me right, he had a fiance, he was a struggling magician and trying to live life on the up and up. Then he fell into an unfortunate circumstance which led to crime, Batman, and vats of something sinister. The rest is history.

When I think about the question of my development over the last year, I recall the evolution of Mr. J. Everything evolves. It is a large part of existence. Change is bound to happen when the circumstances change. The environment dictates the growth. The environment around us helps to develop who we become.

To think about how I have developed or evolved over the past year is dizzying. Mostly because I really do not know the answer, and searching for it is giving me a headache. What I can say, is that I know I have evolved–it is inevitable. I also know my evolution is not quite as, uh, ruthless as Puddin’, but I do suppose it will be fully revealed over time. When it is revealed, it will be a perfect fit for who I am today.

When the Killing Joke ended it all made sense. Who Mr. J was at the moment was not who he had always been. His development (no matter how twisted) was shaped by his past wins, losses, and run-ins. He was still himself, just a little…different. I do not doubt my development is the same, albeit not as twisted.

~SM