Walking Up Life’s Stones

As I walked up Stone Mountain the other day, there was a girl in blue Nike’s walking ahead of me. We started at the same time but as I would stop to rest and write, she moved forward and remained about a 1000 feet in front of me. Every time I felt myself wanting to give up, I looked at her. I let her progress inspire mine and she became my motivation but I had to be careful not to compare myself to her.

While weathering the terrain, I saw a man walking back. He looked as if he was hurt. I wanted to ask him what happened. I wanted to ask why he was walking back down. I wanted to help him back up and tell him to walk with me but I realized in that moment that I didn’t know his struggle or his pain. I didn’t know why he was walking back down, so I left him alone. Just as I got distracted by him, I looked up and the girl in blue Nike’s was out of my sight. So I pushed myself to walk more; my heavy breathing the soundtrack for my journey.

On the stones were little messages and words that had been carved in over the years. I likened them to the things left behind for us by those that have gone before us. I looked up at one point and I could see the trail as it slid upwards. It looked scary as hell. It looked like a lot. It looked like I should turn around. But I realized I didn’t even know how far I had come. There were no signs telling me of my progress. I just had a goal to get to the top. And I held onto that goal as tightly as I could. When the sun came out, I felt like God was encouraging me to keep going. So I did.

As I walked, I noticed there were lines of yellow paint, letting me know I was going the right way. Some were faint, some were strong but they were all signs that I was still on the right track.  Halfway through my walk, I came to a place where the view was beautiful. It was clear that I had reached a significant part of the journey and I was almost convinced to stay there. I was almost satisfied with my progress and I could envision myself resting in this place. That desire to stay put almost became reality when I looked up at the next fleet of the climb. It was the most steep climb I had seen in my entire life. And I thought “I’m not doing that shit.” But I remembered my goal and I clutched it even more tightly to my chest as I stared that climb in the face. I was going to finish. The goal was to get to the top and I wasn’t stopping until I made it there.

I made it past that hard moment. And I took a moment to dance to my music and enjoy the view. I mean, I danced foreal. I danced like no one was watching because I wanted to. I took that moment to not only rejoice in my victory but to have fun and remind myself that life, and even this climb, is not that serious.

As I got tired, I was tempted to ask those who were coming down just how far I was from the top. But I discouraged myself from doing so. I wanted to enjoy the journey. I didn’t want to anticipate the end. As I approached the top, I saw the girl in blue nike’s standing at the top. It was as if she was waiting on me. She was a representation that I wasn’t far from my goal. And just as I reached the top of the mountain, a huge smile came across my face. I did it.
Life is like walking up Stone Mountain for the first time. The terrain is rough. You have to watch each step. Pacing yourself and resting when necessary but also knowing when to use the momentum you’ve built to propel you forward and up. Knowing when to take the easier side and being smarter about how to move. Most of all, in life you have to keep going as you hold your goal tightly to your chest until you make it to the top

Stop Pushing People Away When They Hurt You.

“Stop pushing people away when they hurt you.”

That statement hit me like a ton of bricks. I was thinking about a friend who I wanted to reach out to and remembered that I was low key upset with him. I was upset because he hurt me. He made me feel a certain way about myself and even after expressing myself, I was still ill about it. And then I had a moment where I wanted to talk to them. I wanted to have a conversation with him. My hurt reminded me that I wasn’t supposed to reach out to him because I was angry. Then my God spoke to me. “stop pushing people away when they hurt you.”

Well damn.

I was halted in my thoughts. I literally stopped and held my chest. Like “oh!”

You know, those moments when someone says something to you and you have to just step back a little and acknowledge that it happened? That was me. For so long, I really thought I had stopped doing that. But I found myself doing it again and I was sad. I was upset with myself for doing it and I was apologetic in my spirit about it.

This is the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever written about. For years, I’ve struggled in relationships for so many reasons. And for years, I’ve spent time and effort trying to prove that I’m worthy enough of a true authentic, close relationships. Over the years I’ve wandered to and from looking for home. And over those years, I’ve learned a few things about relationships:

  1. Let people be exactly who they are.   

                  1a. Love them anyway

  1. Be who you are. And hope that people will love you

                  2a. And if they “don’t”, love them anyway. And love yourself, still.

                            Don’t withdraw yourself because you’re hurt.

                            Think the best of people.

                            Do the next best thing.

I’m on 2a…and I’m working on it. I hope you’re doing better than me but if not, that’s OK too. After writing this, I texted my friend and opened up about how I was feeling. I told him about my moment with God and I apologized for withdrawing. He forgave me and we kept it moving. I’m grateful for friendship that will love me even when I’m busy protecting myself. People want to love you. Let them. And even when they don’t love you the way you desire, love yourself and love them anyway.

 

I Never Loved This Country

I rarely write about political and current event issues because it often seems pointless. But today I’m so infused with righteous anger that I couldn’t keep my mouth closed. I can’t say that I’ve ever said the words “I love this country“. I love the city of Atlanta. I love Barack Obama. I love God. But I’ve never really loved this country. The only time I’ve ever seen us united was when tragedy struck us all and we were forced to acknowledge that black or white, rich or poor; were all humans who love our families. We’re all humans who want our children and loved ones safe. Unfortunately, the foundation of this country is rooted in desire for power and selfish entitlement. We’ve seen everything from slavery to theft of land and identity. We’ve seen the marginalized struggle to breathe and the oppressors stick out their chest in an irrational attempt to prove themselves.

While I’d love to be surprised by this ridiculous mans actions, I expected nothing less. When you fail to see the motives of a leader because you’re hopeful for selfish gain, Donald Trump happens. People didn’t elect him because they knew he’d make a difference. He wasn’t elected by a people who desperately wanted to see good change happen in our nation. He wasn’t elected by Christians who believe in love and equality. He showed the people exactly who he was and the people chose him anyway.
This country is filled with people who desire a better reality for themselves and their loved ones yet time and time again we fail to adequately see representation of that fact. Somehow, someway, power, control and hate run the narrative of this countries history and its not only exhausting; it’s depressing. Overwhelming. Like a person in a really abusive relationship, I find myself looking for a plan; a way out. Then the other part of me rescinds and is hopeful for change and a new wave of saviors to attach to the movement of grace and heroine, divine intervention.
I can’t say I ever loved this country. It’s always been a little fucked up in my opinion. What I do know, is that what makes this country great, are the people who’ve come from every corner of the world, diversifying and illuminating the possibilities of new and loving culture. As a daughter of immigrant parents, I’ve seen the opportunities this country has afforded others who may not have seen possibilities of a bright future in their home countries. I’ve seen stories of love and unity. I’ve seen countless moments of triumph and record breaking genius. I’ve seen people of color rise from their beaten state to take control of their deserved spotlight. I’ve seen us embrace others when they needed prayer and affection in times of tragedy. I’ve seen love here. I’ve seen compassion. I’ve seen redemption and most recently, I’ve seen a man stand in a house for 8 years and declare change. A house designed to keep him out. A house built by his own people who weren’t even considered whole human beings. I’ve seen this country change the world with its intelligence and deliberate ability to set captives free.
That is who America is.
I just wish she knew it.

Stop.Listen. & Be.

 

Have you ever woken up from a dream wondering what it meant for your life? Was it relevant or just a dream? Should I heed its warning or just chalk it up as another figment of my imagination playing games as I sleep?  

Well, that's how life feels right now. Every moment, I'm asking myself if that little detail mattered. Should I consider today's events a coincidence or look deeper into them? Did Trump really win or are we on some game show that'll last for the next four years? Before I know it, I'm deep into a rabbit hole of my own thoughts and I've over-thought myself into the hands of stress and anxiety.

This morning, I was thinking about the phrase "When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade." We hear it all the time. Great. That sounds great. Smart. Resourceful. Lemons to Lemonade is an obvious equation.  My question for God, the universe, life...Cleopatra (basically whoever has the answer) is, what the hell do you do when life gives you brussel sprouts? Or when life begins to feel like one big crazy dream that you can't find the meaning of. What do you do when it seems as if life is handing you a completely useless experience?

In the last few weeks of feeling this way, I've spent so much time thinking. So much time wondering and asking. This morning, I thought maybe I should stop asking so many questions and thinking myself into oblivion.

Maybe, there are times in life where you aren't supposed to think. Sometimes, you're just supposed to listen.

Yesterday, I woke up with a desire to sit with God and enjoy the Heaven that comes with him. The desire was strong but my mind reminded me that I needed to get work done. With logic residing, I ignored my desire and set out to find a restaurant where I could eat and work. I needed a place with healthy food and outlets and i figured that wouldn't be so hard to find. Except, it was.

I drove around and as I got from one place to the next, I was hit with different challenges. First place, No parking. Next place, nowhere to sit. Ok. Cool. Next place, doesn't exist anymore. ALRIGHT.  This was when I decided to take a moment to look at what life was giving me; because it absolutely wasn't giving me a place to eat and work. I was being reminded of the desire I had when I woke up and I decided to follow my first mind and go somewhere to be with God. As I was driving, I started thinking again. Ok, one more place. No parking. Finally, I had had enough with myself and I ended up at some restaurant I'd never been to, sitting outside in the beautiful 70 degree weather while I ate, wrote and enjoyed God’s presence. As I took deep breaths, I realized how stressed I was feeling because I had been driving around for an hour, overthinking. I was tired and hungry and all I had to do was listen to life and pay attention to what it was showing me.

We want life to go right. We want to be successful. We don't want to fail. We don't want to waste our time. We want to understand. So we over-think in efforts to figure it out. We over-think until we're confused and misguided. We ask hella questions in order to come to the "right" conclusion and most times, we're wasting our time. Most times life, the holy spirit, and God are telling us what to do and we're just not listening.  

In the latest Blackish episode (which you absolutely need to go watch), the characters are up in arms about the latest U.S. election where Donald Trump was elected president. There is a scene towards the end where Dre gets everyone together. He submits that instead of being angry about the results of the election, maybe we should stop trying to understand why Donald Trump won or why people voted for him. Maybe, instead of thinking, arguing, and asking, we should start listening to each other. When life gives us Trump, maybe we shouldn't try to understand why.

I think life is trying to teach me that sometimes my expectations and desires just will not happen. I didn't design life, therefore, I don't know exactly what's going to happen and when. I can plan and schedule my day all I want but if I'm not open to changes, I'll suffer. I'll drive around for an hour trying to make my plan work when my plan just doesn't fit.

Join me... take a second to evaluate what life is teaching you. Are you fighting against life's will right now? Is life/God trying to tell you one thing and you're forcibly trying to manifest something completely opposite?

Stop. Listen. And then be. 

2016.

2016 was a bitch.

Yes. A real bitch. Like, the kind you can’t stand but need, all at the same time. It was crazy. It was fun. It was sad. and it was really hard.

But it was so beautiful.

Sounds of the end of the year are clashing on my eardrums as I’m trying desperately to find my balance. I want to be firm and sure going into the new year. I want to be understood. I want to be strategic and aware. I want to be strong. With all of these expectations of what I want, I’m finding myself more and more unbalanced as the clocks strikes January 1st.

I’m panicking because I realize the days don’t have enough hours and daylight just doesn’t stick around long enough for me to be as productive as I’d like to be. No matter how many breaths I’ve taken to try and resuscitate normality, I find myself trailing behind my to-do list.

This morning, I took a moment to stand on the dock of my parents home (which is heaven) and stare out into the lake. I felt myself trying to rush my moment with God and myself and silence and the trees.I felt myself wondering what was going on inside and if i needed to hurry up to get back to my kids and I felt God’s words like the breeze on my neck. They were so real.

Don’t rush the moment. Don’t rush life. Be present.

And that’s what 2016 has been trying to teach me all year.

Don’t rush the moment. This year gave me pain and love, and self awareness, and self confidence and a lot of other really dope stuff. I lost my sense of normalcy this year. I gained the self confidence to be completely myself, in any arena, no matter the consequences. I loved really, really hard and I also lost some really amazing friendships. I took some things off of my bucket list and I read books. A lot of them.

I fought with my husband, a lot, and I also grew to love him deeper. I had my baby boy and I started a business. I took a huge leap of faith and I didn’t let fear keep me. I kept going when I was really tired and I learned to say yes to my dreams. I wrote resentment a farewell letter, sent that shit and actually stuck to it. I had the best Thanksgiving ever and I learned to lean on my creativity as opposed to stifling it.

I came to terms with the reality that I’m right where I need to be and I always have been. Wherever I am should be embraced, not hated and I should never ever rush the moment.

Life seems short but it isn’t. It’s beautiful one day at a time and for some reason, we get it in our minds that we need to see the end of it. Or 10 years from now. Or tomorrow. Then we look back and realize, 27 years has felt like 5 minutes. Don’t rush life. Let life be what it wants to be so that you can be what you want to be. Let life love you and discipline you and teach you what you need to know. Let life take its time and be itself in every moment.

And be present.

My biggest struggle as I approach the end of the year is to find the balance between being in the now and being in the future. enjoying each moment yet planning for my next. Wanting to be prepared but also wanting to be led by my spirit. It’s a hard balance and one I’ll probably spend the rest of my life perfecting. But what I do know is that the moment I decided to be as present as possible, I found joy. I found joy in looking for God. I found joy in basking in the beauty of each moment. I found joy in embracing the lesson that life was teaching me. As soon as I learned to be present, I discovered the key to removing myself from the revolving door I had been visiting day in and day out.

2016 was a bitch. A real one. Like, the kind you hate but the kind you need. I never thought I would get to the end of this year and be joyful about its existence. I feel like I struggled my way through and somehow found my way out. Like when you drive yourself home really tired and pull up to your house trying to remember how you even made it there. That’s how I’ve felt all year.

As I reflect, my frontal feeling is that of gratitude. I’m grateful for every moment that made me who I am.

2016 was crazy af…but I loved it.

 

Stepping Out Of The Shadows

“Babe, I don’t want to leave you behind & I’m afraid that I will”

Words from my husband’s mouth back in the days when we were just dating. Before we considered forever, we were friends who decided to give love a try. My husband was (and still is) known as the man who was always busy. He had a full schedule filled with seminary classes, speaking engagements, church position responsibilities and more. He was very desired and I, well, I wasn’t. At the time, I was working a job I hated, doing spoken word poetry every now and then, while having a very deep desire for something more. Something better.

Years later, married with children, our life together looks much different than it did the day he spoke those words. My husband is still busy. He is still desired. And he is now employed doing what he loves most. He is fulfilled in almost every area of his life and I was very resentful. After leaving my job in 2015, I began a journey to freedom and fulfillment. I wanted what my husband had. I wanted a career that would fulfill me and pay me to be fulfilled. I wanted people to call on me and recognize me for my gifts.

Earlier this year, I wrote about my discontentment with life in my birthday post. Having given birth to my second child in two years, I had been feeling exhausted and as if none of my efforts to acquire a fruitful career were producing any results. I was feeling like my husband was leaving me behind.

I became resentful.

And there were levels to it.

Every day I watched my husband leave home and go to a job he loves while I stayed home with our baby. I was taking care of a household while also hustling to make my dreams a reality. It all felt hopeless. I felt as if his life and his responsibilities were more important than mine. Never wanting to appear unsupportive, I’d say yes to my husband’s needs and obligations until I realized that I had put myself in a position of unhappiness. I seldom said yes to myself. For many months I would get upset when he had an engagement. I yielded to his responsibilities for his job or ministry because well, he is the man and he makes majority of the money. I love him and he should get what he wants.

One day, one of my good friends helped me realize that I had to stop looking at him and look at myself. I had to ask myself why I was unhappy and I had to remind myself that I have control. I could simply say what I wanted instead of being upset that my husband was good at advocating for himself. With a little help from my counselor, I began to learn to advocate for myself. Instead of suppressing my desires, both small and large, I began to express them to my husband, communicating my need for compromise.

“Through compromise, came freedom.

Sitting in my husband’s shadow crippled me. I felt as if I was powerless. The more I said yes to myself, the more free I felt. The more empowered I became. The more I took risks and stepped outside of my comfort zone.

But there were levels to it.

While I was experiencing freedom through compromise and saying yes, there was still anger concerning my desire for a substantial career. A few weeks ago, while watching my husband preach at Oasis Church in Lithonia, I heard the Lord ask me, “What if you’re supposed to be supporting your husband right now?”

I knew exactly what He was saying to me. Right now, instead of being resentful that my “career” hadn’t taken off, or that my husband was receiving all these requests and benefits, I needed to acknowledge and embrace this season of my life. Right now, I’m supposed to be supporting him by taking care of the house, taking care of our kids when he’s away, while also hustling and doing my freelance entrepreneur thing on the side.

I’ve always been the type of woman who prides herself on her intellect and abilities. For the last year or two, I’ve neglected to acknowledge that all that I do requires just that, skill and intellect. I’ve neglected to appreciate the beauty of where I am.

God is showing me that for right now, this is where I belong. This is where I belong and I’m good at it. And I realized that I would love where I was if only I would embrace it.

I finally understand the beauty of timing.

We could probably all agree that timing plays a role in almost everything we do. I’ve always viewed first as best. I thought that because my husband’s career was taking off first, he was better. He was more important. I’ve wanted things to come in MY timing. Most of us do. We want what we want, when we want it. Except, we don’t know enough about the way things work to properly dictate timing in a way that would actually satisfy us.

For example, if it had been up to me, I probably would have never intentionally tried to have children. I knew that children change your life. I knew that pregnancy and childbirth weren’t the most enjoyable experiences on earth and I was willing to push those things off for as long as I could. However, God’s timing was that I have two kids, back to back, by age 27. I have no idea why this timing was best. But I’m confident that in a few years, I’ll have a much better understanding and I’ll be so grateful that things worked out the way they did. When you’re following God’s will for your life, His timing is just perfect. No matter how much we fuss and fight, it just is.

I finally understand the truth about greatness.

My perception of greatness meant career, money and nice things. Well. What my husband helped me realize is that greatness does not only apply to career. Greatness is a word that covers a broad spectrum of things. He and our great friend, Kerrione, reminded me that I’m a great wife and mother. I beast when it comes to taking care of my household. I’ve maintained a blog for over four years. I’m a poet who gets requested to speak. I have an organization called Life on Top and so on and so forth. I’m great.

“The timing of someone’s greatness does not determine their level of greatness.”

We will all meet our desired places when it’s time. The details of our lives all fit together like a great puzzle and if we could just acknowledge our piece in it, instead of trying to fit ourselves in a space not designed for us, life would be better.

From this day forward, I no longer feel as if I’m standing in the shadow of my spouse. I’m standing next to him. As his help. He’s standing next to me as mine. We work together to make life better and I’m finally able to recognize the greatness in myself and the beauty of my own life. I’ve stepped out of the shadow of my husband by simply realizing that he was never the problem. I’ve realized embracing where I am and recognizing who I am has killed my resentment and strengthened my love for life. And I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

The HealthCare Bullies


It was about 6:45pm when I held my baby to my chest to feed him. His body felt much warmer than normal, which prompted me to take his temperature. After three different readings, the temp 101.4 triggered my mommy instincts. I needed to take him to the hospital. I asked my husband to pack his diaper bag while I calmed my worried thoughts. At only 5 weeks old, my baby was experiencing discomfort and it was breaking my heart. We pulled into the children’s hospital around 7:25 pm and sat in the waiting room.

As he rested quietly, I opened my phone to begin writing about my feelings. The life of a wife and mother of two was taxing. It was beginning to wear on me emotionally, physically — pretty much every -ally possible. I was beyond tired and fatigued due to little sleep the night before but I was hopeful. I was looking forward to getting a break on Friday. My mother in law had promised to take off work in order to watch the baby for me. I had been planning that day for at least a week.

Eight o’clock rolled around and I heard our number called.

 

Within five minutes, my concern deepened. My sons temperature was 104. I remained calm and hopeful that he would be fine. We were taken to a room and waited for our nurse. Vitals were taken and he was given a Tylenol suppository for his fever.

Moments later (or maybe an hour, time has become a blur) the doctor came in. A middle aged black woman with a cute curly fro. She explained they would like to draw blood and do a catheter to test his urine for infection. I was familiar with the process because my daughter needed the same treatment when she was 6 months old.

The doctor also briefly mentioned something about needing to do a spinal tap if something something something. I don’t remember. I might have tuned out a little.img_0545

When they came to do the catheter and draw blood, I had to step out of the room to talk to my husband. I can handle the crying on a regular day, but after taking care of a crying baby all day, I absolutely couldn’t take seeing him go through so much probing.

It was over within 15 minutes and for the next hour, I held my baby in my arms as I sat on the bed and watched Queen Sugar. The resident Dr, who was completing her residency, came back and said his urine returned abnormal and he may have an infection. Because of this, they needed to do a spinal tap to test the fluid in his back.

This is where the night got interesting.

I expressed that I wasn’t comfortable with a spinal tap. Her reaction was that of surprise and expressed she would go and get the other doctor. At this point we had been at the hospital for about 3 hours. After a conversation with my mom and more waiting, I told the nurse to bring me our discharge papers and I would take him to his doctor in the morning. She informed me I’d have to sign papers indicating I’m refusing the recommended care. I acknowledged and told her I was ready to go.

Within what seemed like seconds, the two doctors came rushing into the room almost in a panic.Curly Fro doctor had a concerned look on her face.

“Hey, I thought we talked about this?” She said it while holding her arms open like we were lovers about to quarrel about her going out on a Friday night.

“We did. I’m not comfortable with it.”

“Well, let’s keep talking about it”

I listened as she explained this was the best thing for my child and the best method going forward. I listened as she explained how the spinal tap works as she simultaneously drew a diagram on the fitted bed sheet in front of me. I listened as she told me that this could literally be the difference between life and death.

Then I started responding. “I’m not comfortable with the spinal tap. Is there another option?”

She responded, informing me (for about the 7th time) that in babies as young as 5 months old, a 104 fever moves doctors to test every fluid in their body to rule out meningitis. Having had a friend experience meningitis, I knew first hand that it wasn’t anything to mess with. Even still, I wanted to explore any other possible methods of treating my baby before we went straight to sticking a needle in his tiny back.

That is when she traveled to the dirtier art of convincing — manipulation:

There’s definitely bacteria in his urine. His body is fighting an infection”

“So you’re just ok with fluid and bacteria swimming around your baby’s head?”

“What am I not explaining to you? What don’t you understand?”

“Why wouldn’t you want to make the best decision for your child?”

I realized I had a few choices. I could have begun cursing at her. Telling her to leave me alone and give me my damn discharge papers so I could take my son to the Doctor in the morning and get a second opinion (which I did say, without the rude tone and curse words). I reasoned that instead of meeting her with belligerence, I would use intelligence. I’d speak with a firm yet educated tone. Cuz ain’t nobody bout to be telling me what decisions I need to make for  my own child.

I responded.

“I’m pretty sure there isn’t fluid and bacteria swimming around my baby’s head”

“I understand everything you’re saying. I just don’t agree with your opinion.”

“You being a doctor doesn’t mean you get to decide whether or not my decisions are best for MY child. He’s mine.”

Over the course of forty five minutes, Curly Fro Doctor left and came back several times to see if I’d changed my mind. In between her absences, I had conversations with my husband and mother. They both agreed that we should come home. One of the times she returned, she presented me with two options.

Option A: Get the spinal tap and stay for two days while the baby received antibiotics via an IV.

or

Option B: Not get the spinal tap and stay for 10 days while he received antibiotics via an IV because at that point they’d have to treat him as if he had meningitis.

I told her, I choose Option C: Going home.

She said, “No, you’re not going home.”

We went back and forth once again. Me telling her I’d sign paperwork agreeing that I refused care and her saying she couldn’t let me do that because it would endanger her license. She then educated me on the Terrell Peterson Act, which states  “that a physician may retain temporary protective custody of a child without a court order and without parental consent if the child’s life or health is in imminent danger…”

Basically, she told me she would be taking custody of my child if I continued to refuse her recommended care.

I asked questions.

“Is there another way to give him the antibiotics aside from an IV?”

“This is the best way” was her answer

“Is there any other way?”

“This is the best treatment.”

“You aren’t answering my question.”

“What’s your question?”

What? What’s my question? Ok. Now you playin’

Yet and still, I repeated myself.

“Is this the only way for my child to get antibiotics”

“He needs to get the antibiotics via an IV. It’s the best way.” This was her final answer obviously.

“Ok. So your answer is yes? IV is the only way?”

She hesitated, then replied “yes.”

You’re lying, I thought, But OK.

We went back and forth. She kept using scare tactics and talking her shit. I told her I wasn’t doing it.She told me, she had to get her social worker and social services involved.It was now 2 am.I was exhausted. And pissed.The social worker came and asked how she could help. I told her I didn’t know.She basically repeated what Curly Fro Doctor said. A few times.She added in a story about how her son had to get a spinal tap.Thanks for sharing. Still not comfortable.

By this time X was on the phone listening. After threats to involve DFCS and take custody, X and I decided to just let them do the spinal tap. It was now 3:00 am and I was delirious and overwhelmed.

Social Worker left and I began expressing my anger to X. Then I realized, he isn’t the one who needed to hear it so I called Social Worker back in. I told her I felt bullied into making a decision. Because I did. I felt as if I was treated as if I don’t have the capacity to know what’s best for my child.I asked her what would happen if I put my son in his car seat and walked out.

“We wouldn’t let you.”

“What you mean you wouldn’t let me? You’d stand in front of me to stop me?”

“We wouldn’t let you leave.”

The conversation wasn’t going anywhere so I dismissed her, respectfully. I was still upset, but we had made a decision to go forward with it.

They did the stuff. All of it. At this point I was extremely exhausted and emotional. I needed a break, and I didn’t see one in sight. I was alone. My baby had been crying from being poked and injected. I was weary. I was coming to terms with the reality that the next two days would be spent in a hospital. All of this + hearing my baby cry continuously, evoked tears. I cried. Hard. Then I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. I had now been awake for almost 24 hours. Drained. My crying became uncontrollable. And no one cared. No one came to my aid. Not even Social Worker.

It was then that I cursed this system. The one that forces you to do what they feel is best. Using manipulation and scare tactics. Making me feel as if I’m too uneducated to make rational decisions for my child. Threatening me with DFCS (Department of Family and Children Services). As if somehow my disagreement with them made me an unfit mother.

Another resident Doctor came in and stared at me as I gasped for air and tried to gain control of myself. A short, white, bald young dude.

He finally spoke “Whats wrong?”

“I’m just tired” is all I could get out.

“Well. Your kid’s gonna be fine.”

My kid’s gonna be fine. Thanks. Thanks for your compassion. Thanks for your comfort, Short Bald Resident.

“Get out of my face” is what I wanted to say but like I mentioned, I could barely breathe let alone talk.

Finally (because he needed me to answer questions) he coached me through taking deep breaths. I took about 10 deep, intentional breaths before I was able to gain control and return to a calm state.

By 4:30 am, we had been admitted into a room and X was packing things to bring to me. He had called our kids’ amazing god parents to stay at the house with our daughter so that he could come keep me company. At this point, I needed someone. I needed a hug, or just a familiar, loving face. He was exactly that for me when he showed up at 5:30am. We both laid together on the small twin couch thing in the room and drifted off to sleep for an hour.

So this is what I’ll say. Through this experience and the experience of having two kids, I’ve learned that healthcare is a tricky business. In some places, they’ll convince you that you need a procedure or even medication simply because they think so. Or because it’s standard practice. They’ll give you Pitocin (Pitocin is used to produce contractions during the third stage of labor, and control bleeding after childbirth.) during childbirth even though you don’t need it. They’ll ignore your requests because well, you don’t know anything. They’re medically trained and you aren’t. This experience with Curly Fro Doctor frustrated me to say the least. To be told over and over that my decision for my own child was inadequate. To experience manipulation and scare tactics for the purpose of control. To be threatened with the taking of my child. It’s enough to make me reconsider coming into a hospital ever again.

So here’s the update. Curly fro doctor lied to me when she said my baby definitely had an infection in his urine. My son apparently never  had a UTI or any bacteria in his urine. The test for bacteria that causes meningitis came back negative as well. Most likely, he had a viral infection…a cold. Just as I suspected. So the irony here, is that I actually did know what was best for my child. I actually was making the right decision for him. Now, he has diarrhea from the antibiotics and several band-aids from where he was given shots and the spinal tap.

While this experience has been quite traumatic and stressful, I’ve learned to do my research. To express myself even when it means it causes conflict. To ask for my options and not just accept what I’m being told. To stand on what I truly believe in. And to have someone with me if for no other reason than to comfort me when I’m crying hysterically in triage because I’m overwhelmed by Curly Fro Doctor and the health care bullies.

6 Weeks In

 

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Sitting in the waiting room of a children’s hospital, the vibrant colors of the walls kept me alert. I realized this is going to be my life for the next 18 years. Waiting rooms and appointments. Sleepless nights and a constant state of concern for the well being of my children.  Babies are beautiful. Then they’re cute. Then, you’re struggling not to pop them in the mouth when they’ve defied your orders with a profound and high pitched “no”.

It took me a month to realize I hadn’t written about the experience of being a mom of two. Late nights and early mornings fuel my days of feedings, pumping and 2 minute showers. Before I’m aware, it’s time to cook dinner, give baths and start all over again. Determined to keep myself afloat, I’ve committed to exercise three times a week, worship & meditation, writing, hair appointments and an occasional pedicure. Time alone with my husband comes in waves and many times I’m forced to hold my eyes open in order to finish watching a show with him. I’m unsure at what level my body is actually functioning as there are days I forget to eat.

malik-brandon-81But it’s not all bad. While trying to maintain a semblance of positive body image and navigating hormones, I’m kept alive by my determination to stay above water. I can’t drown in pity because God needs me to be a shepherd to a home of kings and a sassy queen. My purpose is still alive within me and joy is steadily calling my name.

Motherhood has challenged me to put a new face to freedom. Encouraged me not to label my situation as life ending but instead inspiring. On days when I feel like “this is bullshit” I’m inspired to find the beauty. And the days where I think “this is beautiful” I’m inspired to bask in the moment. Life is busy. Some days unbearable. But I make it through just like most people — reminding myself that to everything there is a season.

Now more than ever, I’m charged to obey my hearts desires and follow the leading of my spirit. While I adore my husband and children, I’m in love with my dreams and my fulfillment. I used to think that having kids would stop me from finding joy and independence but I realize now that I control my own destiny. I control my decisions and my thoughts. I control my actions. I decide what life will look like; my circumstances don’t dictate my future.

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In her book Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes wrote about the way mothers are described and celebrated. She says

” I don’t think it ever occurred to me before how much and how often women are praised for displaying traits that basically render them invisible.When I really think about it, I realize the culprit is the language generally used to praise women. Especially mothers.

She sacrificed everything for her children…she never thought about herself… she gave up everything for us…she worked tirelessly to make sure we had what we needed. She stood in the shadows, she was the wind beneath our wings.”

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Brooklyn, 15 Months, Not Sure When She Got So Big

It wasn’t until I had a child that I realized how easy it is to be so engrossed in maintaining the lives of others that you lose control of your own. I’m extremely committed to valuing myself as much as I value those around me. My children and husband are a priority but they do not come before self love and my inner health. That may sound crazy to some people. I’m fine with that. I’ve learned in my short 15 months of motherhood that no one around me is safe or loved when I myself do not feel safe or loved. I’m emotionally unstable when I haven’t gotten any sleep or a break away from my home life.

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Hubby & Baby Malik

Being a mother of two has shown me my strength. It’s also shown me what does and does not really matter. Laundry matters…but when I have to choose between doing laundry and eating; I’m choosing nourishment (most times). As much as I love a clean home, the living room may not get cleaned. Brooklyn’s toys may be scattered around the room for a few days simply because I need to conserve my energy for other things; like writing or dancing in the mirror for thirty minutes. Because that matters too.

The most beautiful part of all of this has to be the smile on my daughter’s face when I go to pick her up from daycare. Or watching both of my babies grow and develop literally from one day to the next. Trying to interpret Brooklyn’s  new words as I also navigate learning  Malik’s preferences. Getting to know a person is one of the most beautiful processes I’ve experienced. I think it’s why we love relationships so much. And just as I did with my husband, I’m learning these little people that God has literally put into my life. Learning them and nurturing them is hard and very tiring but so rewarding. It literally brings me joy to be a part of their existence.

Lastly, I’ve come to appreciate the value of family and support. Without my mother’s, grandmother, sister in law and so many friends, my husband and I would not be able to function. I am a strong believer in “It takes a village”; so much so that when we’re able, I plan to hire a nanny and cook and laundry person and whoever else I need to help make this whole parenting thing a little easier. Judge me if you like, I don’t care. I’ll be over here living the good life with my village; dancing in the mirror, writing and kicking my feet up.

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In Marriage, How Free is Too Free?

Today, My husband wrote a song about one of his ex crushes. A girl whose name he’s mentioned about fifty times since we’ve met. A girl that he often dreams about and thinks about when he has those “what if” moments. After writing the song, he called me and asked how I felt about it. He wanted to make sure I didn’t feel disrespected or hurt. I didn’t. I celebrated his ability to be authentic and real and I was excited that he was so transparent in his artistry.

I’ve asked myself, “How free is too free?” when it comes to honesty in marriage and relationships.  Depending on who you ask, you may be told not to tell your spouse or significant other everything. You may be told that some things are better left unsaid. I won’t debate one way or the other, but I will say that complete and total freedom in my marriage has been such a beautiful thing.

When a girl walks by with a big butt and he comments, I look and we laugh together. When I find a man attractive, I tell him immediately and we have a conversation about it. If I feel hurt or neglected, I tell him. If he has a moment where he feels himself attracted to another woman, he tells me. Why? Because this creates intimacy in our marriage and eliminates the opportunity for distance to be created between us.

By knowing what’s going on, we can address the issues head on before anything crazy happens and move forward stronger and better. We recognize and allow the humanity in each other and when able, we give grace. Sometimes, it takes me days to share how I’m feeling. Some days, he’s afraid to tell me things because of how I might react. However, we’ve found a way to love each other honestly and freely in a way that gives us a new sense of friendship and closeness.

It hasn’t always been this way and it isn’t always easy. I don’t always like what he has to say and vice versa. The monique-says-her-open-marriage-is-about-honestybeauty is that we are able to share our hearts with each other and know that afterwards, we’ll love each other just as much if not more than before.

Weeks ago, the comedian Monique and her husband  were on the show ‘Preachers’ and there was quite an uproar about her and her husbands decision to have an open marriage. They’ve both agreed to allow each other to have sexual encounters with other people. After I watched the episode, I had a smirk on my face. I admired their ability to be open and honest with each other in the way that satisfies their relationship. I’ve come to the place where I believe that marriage should be done in the way that satisfies and benefits the two people within it.

Many reference the Bible, tradition, God and their own convictions when dictating how marriage should be but I’m not convinced that there is only ONE way to do marriage right. I believe there are principles, tools, and different ideals that can help many marriages survive. For the Brandon’s, honesty and transparency have been the key to helping us love our marriage and feel free to be ourselves.

It may not work for everyone. Complete and total honesty may not be what you desire for your marriage or relationship. But I remember a time in our marriage where we were living with so many lies between us that it almost destroyed us. We’re better now. So much better. More in love, more attracted, happier, and closer.. Our hearts consider one another. I see him as my partner and not my enemy even when he hurts me. I share my desires with him even when he disagrees or decides he can’t cooperate. At least he knows them. At least we know each other. It removes the stringent case that marriage is often packaged in and allows our relationship the ability to be fun and exciting. Honest. Loving. Free.

And I mean free free. Free to the point of discomfort and vulnerability. The inner workings of your inner thoughts, type free. Allowing someone to see the ugly parts of you, type free. The parts that you desire to hide. Because can someone truly love you if you only give them what they desire to hear and see of you?

But here’s the thing. Both parties must participate. Both parties must be willing to commit to honesty and transparency. And both parties must be willing to be reasonable and understanding even when hearing something they may not want to hear. It’s imperative that as much as I am honest, I am just as accepting. I must be willing to bear the hard news when my husband has a need to be honest with me. I must be his support and his unconditional love when he needs a heart to accept him. It may not be easy to begin this journey, but I promise it’s worth a try. I have never felt so free in a relationship as I do in my marriage.

If nothing else, I find comfort in knowing that just as I am, my husband is human. I love knowing that I’m not alone in my thoughts. I’m not alone in my ratchet humanity. I am not alone. My husband and I are in this together.

My Husband Was My Enemy

My husband was my enemy. Every word he said was laced with hatred with the intent to hurt me. I saw him as a competitor that I needed to beat. Someone that I needed to win against. Every time he moved in a way that I didn’t understand, I questioned his loyalty.

I was convinced that I needed to confide in someone else so that I wasn’t alone. I needed someone who could see things from my perspective and make me feel good about myself and my actions.For months, resentment, anger, and feelings of discontent slowly grew into a full out war. We began to forget that we were in a covenant partnership and instead, we embodied the mindset that we were somehow against each other. Our actions began to reflect that of two people who were being forced to live together.

As I began to grow and change, he was losing a grasp on understanding who I was. As my thoughts and beliefs about life changed, so did his recognition of his wife. He didn’t know me anymore. And I didn’t feel accepted. I felt alone. Thus, I felt like I had to protect myself from his oppression. No matter what he said to me, I would twist his words to be malicious. NO matter what he did, if i didn’t agree, I assumed he was purposely trying to hurt me or anger me. I fought him in several ways while silently confiding in others, some who were true allies and others who were there for the drama. The outside world now had an inside look into my crazy marriage and I had yet to take responsibility for any of it.

Now, many months later, I look back on those days and I’m appalled that I could have ever thought my husband and I were on opposing teams. I took everything that he said, and I analyzed it. I found hatred in his well meaning constructive criticism. I was so hurt by the state of our marriage that I took misunderstanding to mean opposition. Instead of self evaluating, I took the role of the victim and sought pity from others as if I was a slave in the dungeon of an evil master.

I look back and realize, my husband always loved me. We may have had times of misunderstanding but he was never my enemy. He was never “the problem” to be handled; he was simply another player in this crazy marriage game and we had to learn how to work together through this season of our lives. I thought he had turned his back on me. I thought that his inability to relate meant that he was no longer on my side and that was not the truth. He was simply trying to navigate our marriage, just as I was. I had to take responsibility for the way I was making him feel whether or not I had intended to hurt him.

In most cases, your spouse is not your enemy. I believe if you’re arguing, upset, and not connecting there is a reason; and that reason involves BOTH of you. It doesn’t matter if one is in the “wrong” because at the end of the day, there are two of you in a relationship. You both have to be willing to assess your actions and beliefs if for no other reason than to ensure that you are doing all that you can to make it work. I commend my husband everyday. Because when I was irrational, he still loved me. He had his moments, but he was always willing to actively love me through our mess and show me that he was my partner, my lover and my friend.

His love was able to break the mindset that he was ever  my enemy. His true love (and my willingness to accept it) permeated through both of our hearts to create a new standard and aroma in our marriage. I am truly appalled that I ever saw him as an enemy. He is my perfect partner and we’re so much better when we see each other as two people on the same team, trying to figure out the game of marriage. It’s not easy. It’s not for the faint of heart and it’s not to be given up on even in its worst moments. It’s to be navigated, fought through, and recognized as a journey to tread through together.