Tag Archives: development

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

Thou Shalt Not Give

The Baby laid in her crib wailing. It started as a soft “Hey, parents, I’m waking up” and graduated to a “Yo! Let’s go, let’s go!” It was about 2 or 3 a.m. I had been with her around the clock, milking myself like a cow, changing diapers, entertaining blank infant stares and nursing a body slowly coming back together. The last thing I needed (and wanted) on an early Saturday morning was another dirty diaper and a sleepy breastfeeding session. So…I let her cry.

I refused to get up. At that moment, I was being selfish and quite honestly, I did not care. Her father, snoring softly beside me, was just as capable of changing, feeding and patting to sleep like me. Not only was I in recovery, but I was also smack dab in the middle of my fall semester and dealing with a heap load of OPS (Other People’s $#!%). I lay there, pretending to sleep and listened as she wailed louder and louder until YG struggled from sleep. YG had worked all day and a part of me felt terrible, but the sensible twin ordered me to stay in position. “Be selfish,” she said.

Why when we need/want to do something for ourselves do we think it is wrong? Is sanity wrong? Is loving yourself first wrong? In all actuality, it is perfectly healthy to put you first. Children do it all of the time, which is why Big Bird and the like teach sharing is caring. And it is. Sharing is an act of kindness. It is love…but, err, are we expected to be kind all of the time? It is impossible. Even Big Bird has his days.

Giving to you is more important than doling out pieces of yourself to others. Sure, what they need may be urgent and of course, some self-sacrifice might have to happen, but no one is in constant need of your everything. It is okay to say no. It is okay to not do for others so you can do for you. You are in the right for turning that love and kindness outside in.

Don’t wake up with the baby if someone capable is within three feet. Let them gladiate. Refuse to not get in the shower first. Jump in and use all the hot water. Sorry, not sorry. Rebel against not spending that measly $15 on yourself. New planner? Why yes, you will. Stand firm and wave off the dinner inquisition with a loaf of bread and a jar of PB. They will live. Do. You. It is okay. The kitchen might be a little worse for wear or the fam might have to eat ramen noodles for breakfast, but taking a moment, your moment, will create a healthier, happier you. Because let’s face it, misery invites grays and wrinkles–and we are all better off without those.

~SM

There Is Good In Receiving

Rent is due, as of three weeks ago. The car is in the shop and there is only enough money in the bank to cover a pack of hotdogs and a pitcher of very much needed sangria. As you complain to a friend over said pitcher, she pulls out her checkbook, writes a check and slides it across the table. You immediately slide it back. You were just letting off steam, not begging. She sternly pushes the paper rectangle in your direction and you just stare. This money would help but…do you take it?

The short answer? Yes.

Accepting help is one of the hardest things we get to do in this life. Yes, I said get. Young versions of us were taught that giving is better than receiving. During Christmas, sure but what about when you are drowning? Is it better to waive help?

The short answer? No.

When people help people it is not (generally) out of obligation or return. Helping others helps them. If we think about receiving from the perspective of being helpful to the giver we would have less of an issue accepting the help. If we felt as though we were worthy, we would be able to accept the gift without the extra mental baggage, too.

Oh, yes, receiving has to do with worthiness. You are worthy of help and love. Something about you and your struggle touched the innermost part of the person extending their hand. Why insult them and yourself by refusing it?

Battling foot and knee pain recently, Young Gun and I concluded it was my shoes. For our anniversary, he took me to the mall and, against all protests, bought me a new pair. I refused to wear them. My intention was to purchase a cheaper pair and return the more expensive ones. Upon further protest, he said “Fine. Do what you want. I just won’t buy any more. I’ll give you the money and you can do what you want.” I felt two inches tall. All wind had been sucked from his sails–and I was the sucker.

The gift was not 100% about my needs–it was about his, too. He needed to be able to take his wife’s pain away. He needed to be able to provide a fix to the need.

When someone asks you for help if you can you do without hesitation. If you can fulfill a need or fix a problem, you do. There is something within your heart that swells when you are able to make shit happen. If I got it, you got it, you think. You need to be able to provide a fix. And you do. Kudos! But, uh, if the shoe (no puns intended) were on the other foot, could you also be willing to accept? Could you see their heart’s need to swell, too? Are you able to stand down and be willing to be helped?

The short answer? You’re definitely going to try (wink).

~SM

Family Mending

In just a few days, I will experience a one year wedding anniversary for the second time. To look back beyond the last 365 days, the way I saw things going is not exactly how they turned out. For instance, I never quite expected to be celebrating one year of wedded bliss yet again, with a whole new person–my person–I might add. I most definitely never saw our beautifully complicated little family coexisting in legit bliss—give or take a few bumps here and there.

It was never intentional, the family we created. We (the adults) never saw any of this coming. I often tell YG when people make decisions it never affects only them. There is a ripple effect and it disrupts even the most secured. What we do today, no matter how minuscule, can have a profound effect on tomorrow. All of our decisions set the course for this moment, right here, to unfold exactly as it has. It is a little funny to see/hear people’s reactions when they find out who our cast of characters in this odd play is.

The bomb we dropped as adults produced a huge shockwave rippling the earth, reaching the farthest corners of our friends and family. There are always options when shockwaves happen. That which has fallen and been destroyed can be repaired or it can be left for dead. The displaced can turn away in search of something new, better, stronger. Not everything is worth repair. Not all foundations are meant to be examined and restructured. Not all relationships are capable of being better. All it takes is a little assessment. When the damage is assessed, what is left…is it important enough to be fixed? When the rumbling ceases and the ground no longer threatens to split wide open, when the structure has fallen, when the foundation is leveled, who is left? Are they important enough to rebuild? Are they important enough to roll up sleeves and dig in with bare hands? Or is it more beneficial to just turn away in search of newer, better, stronger?

Our foundation, as feeble as it was, needed repair. It needed to be given fresh eyes. Nothing we have done thus far has been for us. No dinners, no parties, no cordial conversations were ever for us. We never intentionally sought out this weird, yet functional family. We sought one thing: stability. That was the entire reason to rebuild what was lost. If the foundation was stable (this time), then all who entered, all who were meant to be sheltered from the cold, wind and rain could rest in comfort and love.

We began with forgiveness, added growth,  sprinkled in the release, and covered it with love. We made it big enough to withstand us all and then some. It took time for it to be completed and it certainly was not easy, but for those who enter it is safe, warm and full of love. Time heals wounds, yes. But love erases the ugly scars.

None of this has gone to plan, but that is okay. Seeing the beautiful outcome of what could have been a disaster, everything abandoned—nothing repaired, is more than enough for me. We all learned a valuable lesson about movement. Nothing can ever be if we don’t first move. The optimal direction is forward, but not all are capable. I am just so grateful to the past and the present we were able to step forward for the future. Alright, Alright.

~SM

Next Level [Insert Poop Emoji]

I work in an office with a casual dress code. Perhaps not as casual as I tend to take it, but three-piece suits are not required. Recently, I noticed a co-worker dressing to impress. At any moment, should there be a meeting, she is ready. Me on the other hand? Not so much. And that is a problem.

Years ago, a friend of mine was in a bit of a professional rut. She was applying for jobs all over and no one was taking the bait. Day in and day out she assessed the problem and she came up with none. Qualified? Check. Capable? Check? Hard worker? Check. Educated? Check, check. After a frustrating conversation with herself, she realized to get to the next level she had to act like she was already there. She began moving differently and dressing differently. Nothing she did was out of the realm of herself, it was just in the vein of her best self.

The Universe gives us back what we put out. It does not matter if you are the most qualified, educated or dedicated person in the room. Do you look the part? Do you act the part? Do you live the part? I often wonder how con artists get away with obtaining jobs they are less than qualified. How are they operating medical offices and accounting practices with little more than a high school diploma? They somehow trick people who have been in the business for years and often get validated by said individuals. The package they present is what makes the difference. From the expensive paper their resumes and fake letters of recommendations are printed on to the way they speak, they are living the life they stole, and it makes a difference.

I dress my life. Take one look at me and you can see that (a) sleep evades daily, (b) clean eating means it didn’t stain my shirt too bad, (c) money is non-existent and (d) energy that should be going to me just simply isn’t. I mean, sure, I enjoy some mediocrity like the next guy but I cannot set up camp there. That is not good enough for me.  I need more. I want more. How do I get it, you ask? More is as more does, Forrest.

I must do more. Not in the traditional sense of running around like a headless chicken, but more so in the sense of creating an environment that is conducive to the more I expect for myself.  I must lift myself up to the level of what I deem success to be. I will never in a million years be a flashy expensive clothes/car/house type of person. I will forever be a tee shirt, jeans, ball cap type of gal. My afro will most likely always be big and unruly. But just because at my core casual is who I am, it does not give me permission to be lazy.

The next level which is meant for me, is for me. It does not require me to be anything other than who I am right now. It does, however, require me to be a less lackadaisical version of myself. I cannot be less than my personal best, which by the way, does not include chin hair and hamper shirts. As much as the gung-ho twin wants to hop on all of this at once, the forty-year-old sit-yourself-down twin knows better. One small bite at a time. Much like the woman with the issue of blood who only needed to touch Jesus’ hem, if I can just touch the handle of a razor my healing will begin (joking, not joking).

~SM