Quicker Than a Ray of Light – Kennedy is Three!

I don’t know how this happened, but I am suddenly mom to a three year old. That beautiful baby I incubated and gave birth to seemingly yesterday has grown into a little kid – talking, walking, singing, dancing, laughing, and brightening the world of those around her. Where has the time gone?? Here are some photos of what the last 365 have been like for sweet K. Faye:

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Right after she blew out the candles on her second birthday cake, Kennedy came with me to New Orleans to visit Auntie Tiffany. She liked the French Quarter.🙂

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We dressed up as fairies for Halloween 2015

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Christmas with kiddos is always a blast.

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In January, Kennedy got to meet the cousin she shares a birthday with, just after his team’s amazing victory over the Florida State Seminoles!

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We moved into our new home in February, and Kennedy and I started soaking up the new yard almost immediately. 

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Someone also graduated to a spiffy new toddler bed for her brand new big girl room!

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Upon unpacking, she got to try on my wedding dress, finally. 

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Reppin’ the Giants like a BOSS! #GotItFromHerMama

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I wish we could’ve spent more time at the beach this year. We’ll do better next year, K. 

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More than any other year, Kennedy spent lots of time with family, such as her sister cousin Giovanna. 

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…and her beautiful Auntie Patricia🙂

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The Fourth of July was another fun backyard occasion. 

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Newly three years old. She’s a Barbie girl, she’s a princess, she’s my everything.❤

Every day of being Kennedy’s mom brings new challenges and joys to me as I strive to be all that I can be for her.

 

 

One Moment in Time…

I dreamt of my maternal grandmother last night. This is a big deal because as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, she passed away when I was very young and left a decent-sized hole in our family when she left. Because she left so long ago, it’s hard for me to keep her face in my memory, so I will often look at pictures once or twice a month just to keep hers and my grandfather’s faces fresh in my mind. Their faces, the way they both walked, the way they dressed…all were very vivid in this dream.

My mom and I got access to a time machine (quit laughing, I said it was a dream) that allowed us to go back and retrieve anyone we wanted to and bring them to the present. We resolved to jump back to 1990 – the year before she died – and bring her and my grandfather to the present. In order to not upset their psyches too much, we did what we could to make our 2016 world seem as much like 1990 as we could, like covering up flat screen TVs, hiding cell phones, etc. Ultimately, we brought my grandparents from the 90s to 2016 successfully.

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The way we were…❤️

My grandmother asked about some of her sons who have passed on, and we were able to deflect her questions by explaining that we’re in Florida now, and they’re back in California. We didn’t want to hurt her by telling her that some of her children died young. We were also pretty invested in keeping up the 1990 façade, meaning they would’ve still been alive. Aside from some of her questioning, she settled in for a comforting visit with all of us. (Come to think of it, she never once questioned how I was suddenly an adult, even though in 1990 I would’ve only been six…)

Side note: Many reading this may not realize how monumental this is to me, and that’s okay. To see images of my grandmother standing in my living room was powerful. She was playing with my daughter and gave her a kiss. Now that I think of it, she and my mom were about the same age in this dream; my mom will turn 58 in about a month, making her the same age my grandmother was when she passed away. Funny, nobody seemed to take notice at the time.

She met my husband.

She told me how proud of me she was.

I couldn’t keep things a secret from her any longer and pulled her aside to tell her what we’d done. I told her she died in 1991 and that my mom and I had searched for a way to go back to her ever since. When given the chance to bring her here, we did it. Then, as if my heart was cut open, I told her that life has been hard without her. I told her we couldn’t keep her here forever because it wouldn’t be right, so I asked her to give me any advice she could that I could hold on to.

And then, I woke up. 💔

I sobbed like a baby wishing I could just go back to sleep to finish the dream and have more time with her.

I’m only writing this here so that I don’t lose this memory. I KNOW that God sent her to me to comfort me at a time when work is tough, parenting is tough, life is tough. I have no complaints about my life, but anyone who tells you their life is roses all damn day is a liar. It’s not! And I needed something or someone to give me that push to let me know that no matter how rough circumstances might become, I’m still on the right path and doing what I’m supposed to. I took her message of telling me how proud of me she was to be this. Perhaps when I’m in need of the rest of what she had to say, I’ll dream of her again.

I can’t sit and cry at my laptop all day, so I’m off.

Be well!

P.S. If any of you knows how I can get my hands on some time machine technology, let me know!!🙂

Have the 1990s Caught Up with Us?

My country is in turmoil. We’ve lost our way somehow, reversing the very precedents that those before us worked tirelessly to establish, diminishing our souls by desensitizing our minds to death and our hearts to injustice. Mistrust abounds, hatred abounds, fear abounds. I didn’t picture it becoming this way back in 2006 after setting my sights on conquering the world with my newly earned bachelor’s degree. I wonder what led us here. I think back on my lifetime and search for evidence that gives way to the caricature of blacks that exists today. There’s one period of time that sticks out: the 1990s. Why? It was the only other time I could recall in my 32 years of life where this same caricature was brandished on movie screens and dealt with on daytime television shows marketed to teens.

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I enjoyed the movie Juice a lot for Shakur’s presence and the overall message. I wonder if now Juice is still shaping culture due to its themes and imagery. 

The 1990s saw black arts embrace things like ‘hood culture, violence, organized crime, and a mutual, angry mentality among blacks through music and film. I can remember films like Boyz N Tha Hood and Juice helping to fuel a stereotype that black men are notoriously more violent than males of other races. Much of the music and cinema created by or for black women showed black women doing it all – taking care of the home, the children, working, and often being left at a disadvantage at the hands of a black man who either disrespected their relationship by cheating or abusing her, or men who just wouldn’t keep their word. Independence and standing alone was the ideology that permeated black female culture in the 1990s. I can remember cranking the radio up when songs like “Ain’t Nuthin’ But a She Thing,” and “None of Your Business” by Salt-n-Pepa or “Creep,” came on the radio, and as a young black girl, celebrated that I was kind of being represented by anthems preaching about how black women are strong and powerful, women can sleep around if men can, and if you cheat on me, I will just go cheat on you and be happier because I’m sexy and irresistible.

Simultaneously, a third wave of feminism was sweeping through the United States in the 1990s, brandishing messages of sexual liberation for women, acknowledging non-white races of women, and, most significantly to me: challenging the traditional gender roles we had grown to accept in this country. You combine all these ingredients and shake them up in a bottle and the result of the 1990s on young black women, is that we came away from the decade believing we’d have to be our own rock and salvation, that black men had somehow abandoned us for our white counterparts, so we better just handle things on our own, and angst at the intangible – we couldn’t quite pinpoint why we were mad, but we were mad. Maybe it was that popular culture was scant on positive representations of us. Standards of beauty seemingly favored everything opposite of what we were. We knew we were getting paid less and being offered less and not treasured for our true value but rather for the caricature that had been drawn of us that each of us somehow had to pander to.

I wonder, though, if perhaps we’ve been deceived. Perhaps we were told we were ugly so that our pride wouldn’t get the best of us someday. Maybe we were pumped imagery of black families missing fathers so that we wouldn’t seek mates in black men, hence contributing to the stereotype black men were fighting that they don’t appreciate black women. Perhaps black women were revved up to be angry so that they – so that WE – could further socially alienate ourselves.

Regardless of the reasons behind what was 1990s black culture, one thing is apparent to me: the 1990s have caught up to us. The images we used to see in movies and in music videos have leapt out of the screen and serve as justification of our deaths in the name of self-defense. Blacks across the country are fed up – as they should be – but fed up doesn’t always look good on us. Police brutality is inexcusable, but we cannot fuel the brutality by acting in the same aggressive ways actors did on the big screen two decades ago. Black women believe black men are the enemy, but this isn’t true and black men need us right now. This isn’t a movie, or a pilot, or a hot single to drop on radio – this is real life where people are being killed for acting or being caught in ways of the 1990s.

I am not the first to point to this theory of the lasting effects of 90s culture on various races. However, my thoughts were directed in this manner after watching footage of Korryn Gaines’ traffic stop and subsequent standoff with the police at her home. You can watch for yourself: https://youtu.be/llnoIsAk66g

Her demeanor reminded me of a main character from Set it Off – short fuse, angry – but did she have a reason to be? If you choose to drive a vehicle without a plate, don’t you make yourself a target for being pulled over? Like I said, black people are fed up, but this isn’t the way to exercise that frustration. I do not find her heroic. I do not praise her decision to endanger her children over a power struggle with the police. I do not understand what led her to act this way. Her son has consumed this ideology with his mom and has now been damaged by having to witness his mother’s killing in his home (after a standoff with the police), suffering a wounded arm (he was shot, but not killed), and having to straighten out in his own mind at some point just exactly who the police are and what his place is in society.

But this is my country as of late. Police act on fear and brutalize people of color, no convictions are reported, and blacks across the nation from every class NOT JUST “THOSE IN THE GHETTOS” are slowly losing their minds on how to cope. Meanwhile, black people are fearful of the police and acting out because of it, our children are receiving mixed messages on what it means to be free in the land of the free, and mainstream media mixes and remixes headlines, commercials, and television show plotlines to keep the confusion going.

Dr. King would surely grimace at seeing us this way. And I don’t know what else to do besides write about it, comment on it, try to lend my voice to the productive, and do my best to live the values I speak on, but even that isn’t enough.

 

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Episode 217

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It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

We’re all really big fans of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood at my house, and all for different reasons. My husband’s love for the show probably sprouted first of the three of us because DTN was one of the only shows that would grab Kennedy’s attention long enough for us to keep her occupied while we showered or took phone calls. Kennedy loves it because of the relatable characters and musical element weaved into every episode. Me, of course, I love it because A) it’s an extension of a childhood favorite of mine, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and B) in addition to teaching kids about the basics like using the potty, washing hands, and trying new foods, it maintains (true to Fred Rogers’ legacy) a climate of acceptance, empathy, and love among children across the sexes, abilities, and ethnic lines. The families on DTN are also made up of diverse combinations: King Friday and Queen Saturday are the oldest parents of the bunch, but alas, young Prince Wednesday is the same age as the other children, Katerina Kittycat is raised by her mother alone, and Uncle X looks after O the Owl on his own.

One episode in particular stood out to me recently because I hadn’t seen it before.

[Side note: We’re back to “we can afford to splurge on cable” status at our house, so there are a lot of shows I’m catching reruns of that didn’t hit Netflix]

All of the episodes of DTN contain some lesson for child audiences to learn, and episode 217 doesn’t fall short in content or title, “Daniel Thinks of Others.” In this episode, Daniel colors a picture of his family at school and decides to add some glitter to it. He ends up using all of the glitter on his picture, which later disappoints Ms. Elaina (my favorite of the bunch) who wants to use some glitter for a sign she is making. Teacher Harriett speaks to Daniel about how it’s a good idea to think about what other people may need rather than only considering oneself. Daniel resolves to be a little more thoughtful of his friends and family in the future.

It’s a warm and fuzzy lesson for him to learn, but it also left me with questions:

At what point in our lives do we decide stop following the lessons taught to us in childhood? Couldn’t our world benefit immensely from all of us upholding the lessons we’re teaching our kids? Why are we insisting our children receive quality programming that teaches them positive messages when as adults we aren’t doing the same?

I’ve started to break my social network silence a bit about recent events of police brutality, racial divide in the United States, acts of terrorism abroad, and mass shootings on American soil. I don’t really care which side of the issue you come down on, whether you’re #BlueLivesMatter, #BlackLivesMatter, #AllLivesMatter, Confederate, Union, whatever…

None of the problems plaguing us right now can be solved if fear and its byproducts rule our actions. Love has to replace fear, and from love can come understanding. This is not a police problem or a black problem – it is a human problem.

I’ve been practicing guided meditation lately as a means for quieting my mind before bed, and one meditation I came across is by Ram Dass, titled, “Just Like Me.” It’s a reflective exercise that requires the participant to practice empathy, even with people they don’t necessarily care for.

Just Like Me

This person has a body and a mind, just like me.


This person has feelings, emotions and thoughts, just like me.


This person has in his or her life, experienced physical and emotional pain and suffering, just like me.

This person has at some point been sad, disappointed, angry, or hurt, just like me. This person has felt unworthy or inadequate, just like me.

This person worries and is frightened sometimes, just like me.

This person has longed for friendship, just like me.

This person is learning about life, just like me.

This person wants to be caring and kind to others, just like me.

This person wants to be content with what life has given, just like me.

This person wishes to be free from pain and suffering, just like me.


This person wishes to be safe and healthy, just like me.


This person wishes to be happy, just like me.

This person wishes to be loved, just like me.

I wish that this person have the strength, resources, and social support to navigate the difficulties in life with ease.

I wish that this person be free from pain and suffering.


I wish that this person be peaceful and happy.

I wish that this person be loved.

Because this person is a fellow human being, just like me.

 

I wonder how many other people know about this meditation and have used it before. I wonder if it’d be used more if I placed it on cars or wrote it onto a mural or dropped off copies of it at the police station.

Imagination is wild. My daughter is calling me in the next room.

Be well!

Summer in Full Swing

It’s been an interesting summer down here, and the season isn’t entirely over yet. One thing I must say I’ve enjoyed most about this summer is that we’ve had a steady influx of family come to see us since the end of May. I highlight this because in the past, it hasn’t always been this way. It’s usually our family traveling to see others. Needless to say, it’s a warm feeling to have folks want to come to where you’re from.

Here are some photos:

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My aunt and uncle came to visit. Having them in my home was surreal, as well as beautiful!


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My dad and his brother. These two had a lot of fun together and it made my heart happy to see them reunited after a long time.


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Kennedy was born on my cousin’s birthday three years ago, and that makes them buddies. I enjoyed getting to watch him with her. 


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Since fireworks are legal here in Florida, we got to host our own show for the 4th of July this year! Definitely beats the traffic of trying to get to other firework shows…

 

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Once she got over the loud sounds, she enjoyed the sparkly display of the 4th, homestyle. 


We took Kennedy to see Finding Dory as her first movie this summer!

Friendship

I just got done catching up with an old friend on the phone, which is fueling my inspiration to write this blog post tonight. A few updates: my Facebookless life is going well so far – I am accomplishing more at home and at work (which are the same place HA!) I am happier in my marriage and other relationships, and my ability to focus has improved. I still have anxiety, but I had that well before Facebook so we won’t blame that social media monster for it. I’ve also got a better handle on how I want to run my coaching business moving forward.

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Truth be told, you could put these two on ANY meme, and I would laugh. #StepBrothers

On to the topic at hand: Friendship, and all the business surrounding it. I appropriately named this blog after the period of time I am progressing through on my personal timeline, and I’m really glad I had the foresight to do so. My thirties have been a contrast to my twenties; I’m sure most adults in their thirties and beyond would say the same. When you’re just starting out, you make mistakes because you don’t know any better. After you’re experienced, you have a better idea on how to side-step a lot. One area among many that I’ve seen a metamorphosis in is my concept of friendship.

I think that my current idea of friendship has been heavily influenced by two things: the fact that I am a female in western society, and the fact that I am a black, not-hood-whatsoever female in Western society. Whether I wanted to or not, I fell into a certain place socially because of these traits. Men may look women up and down, but ultimately, women go hard on judgment of other women. It’s just a fact. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is just oblivious. Though men can have social pressures and expectations placed on them, the more rigid sex is definitely female when it comes to appearance, attitude, endorsement, and affiliation. Women are socialized, bred, and trained to have expectations of each other, which are most often ridiculous:

*If you are my friend, then you cannot be friends with people who I view as “enemies” (usually established by catty circumstances such as a slam book or someone starting a rumor or someone dating someone else’s boyfriend freshman year of high school).

*If you don’t act the way society says you should, you cannot be my friend.

*If you refuse to devote time to me when I ask for it, i.e. phone conversations, attendance at a birthday party, staying in with me because I have nowhere to go even though you might, then you are a bad friend.

*If your life doesn’t accommodate mine across circumstantial lines, then you’re an unsupportive friend. For example: Why can’t you come on this booze cruise even though you’re married??? Or, not understanding why you’d feel awkward at my baby shower as the only single girl among married ones.

Because most girls grow up wanting to be desirable, lovable, and admired, we do things that we think will earn us these traits by trying hard to fit in, sticking with cliques, adopting certain fashions or trends just because they’re fashions or trends, and, at times, even being something we really are not because we think it will boost us somehow. My experiences in dance as a child, in high school as a teen, in a sorority in college, and as a young adult in my early twenties all brought me to this conclusion. Some women will step completely outside themselves socially for the sake of trying to appease a crowd. There were many “kickbacks” and other social events I went to throughout high school and college that I felt I needed to in order to remain “cool” with everyone else. A portion of this can probably be attributed to my belief in people-pleasing that I had as I matured from a teen to young adult to now thirtysomething, but the social pressure was there, and I believe that being a female was a large culprit. Boys don’t have as much to think about in that regard. Their social game has fewer rules.

When it comes to my own way of thinking in the present, at just over 32 years of age, I see my favorite and most cherished friendships as the ones that ask absolutely nothing of me. They’re the ones where the other person gives me permission to be exactly who I am without judgment or need of explanation. I am not lazy in friendship, so when I mention that I appreciate relationships that ask nothing of me, that isn’t so that I can sit back and reap special benefits from anything. The friendships I’ve had, I have given a deep part of myself to. I think that’s why it hurts so much to reflect on the ones that have crashed and burned – I’ve had to come to a place of acceptance sans harsh criticism and guilt over what was, and learned to be grateful for what they’ve taught me. But as I move forward through my life, and develop new friendships with the people I bump into during each experience I have, I’ve learned to side-step the arrangements where expectations that I’m not comfortable with are placed on me. This is tough in some situations; people I used to bend over backwards to try to impress or stay in contact with might be wondering if I’m even alive anymore now. In every circumstance where there is a gain on one side, you can always count on there being a deficit on some opposite end. In my case, I’m gaining better control on my emotional, time, and personal investments, and those are more valuable to me than making everybody happy…which is an impossible feat anyway. My favorite friendships were and still are the ones where I can just be accepted for who I am –  a woman with flaws who is still trying to figure herself out while also balancing her changing roles as a woman. Sometimes, I might forget to call. I may not always want to talk about what’s bothering me. My “next move” may not make sense in your eyes, but it’s what I’ve decided on and so I’m going for it.

I should point out that my shift in how I regard friendship has definitely also exposed to me the relationships where I made unfair expectations of other people which consequently didn’t serve me or the other person involved in any way. I think that our world could benefit from more people loving each other as they are rather than drawing up lines and opposition over everything we aren’t to one another. My place in anyone’s life isn’t to criticize or give endorsement where it’s not needed. My place is to accept the people who are in my life for all their imperfections as well as strengths and be here to listen silently when they need me. That hasn’t been an easy lesson to grasp, but one that I am surely thankful for.

One mantra that I’ve come to adapt through this life reset journey I’m on is that if something no longer serves me, I have to let it go. People-pleasing (though I haven’t been a chronic people-pleaser in about five years now) definitely wasn’t serving me, and it’s one thing I’ve been able to shake off since stepping into 2016. But when it comes to friendship and any relationship really, if you feel like you’re asked to act in ways you normally wouldn’t, to endorse things you don’t believe in, or to participate in something you don’t really want any part of, I challenge you to speak the word, “No,” in defense of who you are. I believe all of our future selves will thank us for it. Also, if something isn’t serving you but still occupying space in your life, find a way to let it go. Our time here is limited and therefore precious and shouldn’t be wasted.