Broken Salsa, Jumper Cables & A Pop Up Shop.

Murphy’s Law says that anything that could go wrong, will go wrong.

Well. I never met Murphy or anything but I’m a little angry with him for putting his stupid theory into the atmosphere.  A few minutes before midnight on Friday, my husband and I were up ironing skirts and placing price tags on my Ankara skirts and dresses for my very first pop up shop. As we loaded the skirts and other items into the car, we realized the battery in our truck was dead. We deiced I would wake up early and purchase jumper cables the next morning. Well, what I didn’t know, was that my son would have a rough night and would wake up from sleep every couple hours; leaving me with very little sleep. Saturday, I  woke up around 7:30 am feeling like a zombie.

I stumbled out of bed, took a shower, and got dressed (in between entertaining my daughter, who has become oddly obsessed with showers and shower caps recently). I rushed out to the store to grab jumper cables with no problem. As my husband jumped the truck, I opened the refrigerator to pour myself water and the next thing I knew, the shelf had detached and released several bottles onto the floor. One of those items included a broken salsa bottle which meant there was glass and salsa all over the floor.
“Cool,” I thought. That’s fine. I cleaned it up and left for the pop up shop. While on my way, I was informed I wouldn’t have any help setting up. This is when I took a deep breath. I was desperately fighting the desire to go into “woe is me” mode. I was fighting the enemy. I was fighting worrisome thoughts. In that moment, a good friend sent me a video encouraging me and loving me in the right way at the right time. (Thanks DawnMarie)

I pulled up to Kupcakerie, spoke to the owners and began setting up my shop. Immediately, two girls saw me setting up and began inquiring about my items. Their enthusiasm and desire for my pieces was enough to put a smile on my face and energy in my heart. The next few hours were filled with people coming in and out, some  buying, some browsing. The atmosphere was electric and beautiful as people talked, connected and inspired one another. As we ended around 2:15, I was still taking payments and directing friends who were helping me pack up my things.

When it was time to leave, I went to start my car and realized the battery was dead yet again. After several attempts to jump it, I gave up and decided to just get it towed. Four hours later, I was still sitting in Kupcakerie waiting on my tow truck. I was in tears as I reflected on the day and all that I’d accomplished in the last few months. I was overwhelmed by my change and even more overwhelmed by the support. Even with all that went right, I could feel something inside of me pushing me to focus on all that went wrong. But I didn’t. I refused.

A few things may go wrong as you grow and take steps towards new life; but all you have to do is keep your eyes on what’s going right. And as you take those steps, I promise,  God will meet you and lead you right along the path created for you.

 

Face the Mirror

A few weeks ago, I went to my good friend Aaron’s dance class at the YMCA in Dunwoody. I had been wanting to take his class for months and had finally found the right day. I went with a friend and we eased into the class 30 minutes late (because that’s what happens sometimes). We jumped in and enjoyed Aaron’s sweet spirit as it poured into the women he was leading in dance. It was poetic the way he was able to use his love of dance to inspire and instruct us to let loose while also working our bodies. At the end of the class, he lead us in a fierce walk towards the wall of mirrors in front of us. He told us to look ourselves in the mirror and stare at our beauty. That. was hard. It was so hard to simply see myself, let alone compliment myself. Aaron noticed our struggle and instructed us again. “Actually look at yourself in the mirror,” he said.

This morning, I had a similiar experience. I was avoiding quiet time because I was afraid of what my emotions may reveal. “Face the mirror” I heard God say. “You can’t be healed from your hurts if you’re avoiding them.” As hesitant as I was to delve into the world of deep emotion, I knew God was right. I knew I couldn’t be healed or happy unless I allowed myself to discover the root of my discomfort.

Facing ourselves is often difficult. However, the longer we avoid it, the worse it becomes. It’s like a physical illness that is ignored over time. It worsens until it becomes too late to treat. I believe all our emotions and insecurities are redeemable, but we won’t find them or feel better unless we face the mirror.

What are you avoiding?

Losing My Religion

There was a time I was anxious for a change in my life. I needed something different and I needed different to be everything that “current” was not. I was sad and alone, despite my friendships and active social calendar. I was looking for an answer and I found that answer in Jesus.

But not the actual savior. I found my answer in the perception of “the good christian.”
I promised God I would never smoke weed ever again. I stopped having sex. I stopped cursing. I started going to church every Sunday. Praying. Reading my bible. I was committed to being a Christian. I was committed to different because that old life just wasn’t working for me anymore.

I figured that If I let go of my heathen ways, I’d find happiness. And I did. I formed amazing friendships through the small group in my church. Women who became sisters who became bridesmaids and aunts to my babies. I learned how to have fun without weed and partying. I distanced myself from my past by deleting wild pictures from Facebook. I learned how to discipline my body and my mind. I was perfect.

I got into a relationship with a man who loved all of that perfection. He loved the good Christian girl and I loved him because of it. We became inseparable and I became obsessed with who we were as a couple. I wanted to be around him all the time and I wanted to embrace his world. I started going to his ministry meetings and events. I started hanging out with him and his friends. I started to immerse myself in his world because I wanted to be everything we represented: A young, black, Christian couple in love.

Then I began to feel it, the indication of outward expression without inward change. The “old me” that I pushed away began to resurface just months after our wedding and I had no idea how to tame it. So I hid it. I started smoking again but I did so only when my husband was away. I cursed when no one was around. I started to do the things I used to do and instead of exploring who I was and why it was happening; I just tried to suppress it all.

After months of hiding it, I began to feel ridiculous. “I’m a grown ass woman,” I thought. “Why am I sneaking around to do anything?”

One day, I couldn’t hide it anymore. I told my husband. I felt ashamed. I rebuked myself and treated the resurfacing of my habits as a phase. Just a moment I was having. I didn’t think to look inward in order to decipher my feelings and actions.

In 2014 the war began. The war between my spirit and my flesh. My spirit — the inundated reminder of how I was created and my flesh — the carnal desire to be perfect, liked, and respected; my desire to be “right”.

It took two years of suffering, fighting, self discovery, reflection, depression and more to discover the truth about myself. Back in 2009, I thought my actions were the problem. I thought that changing what I did would change how I felt but that only lasted for a season. Like a temporary tattoo or false eyelashes, that shit faded over time.

In 2015, I started a journey towards authentic transformation. One day, I was writing in my notebook and I began a conversation with God.

“I changed for you. I did all the “right” things and I’m still right back where I was before.”

I was met with a very striking response:

I never asked you to change.”

It wasn’t God who asked me to change my actions. I realized God never cared about my cursing, or smoking, God didn’t even care about my sex life. God cared about my wholeness. God cared that my spirit was in tune and healthy. God cared about my inward change, not my outward appearance. God even revealed to me that while I promised to never smoke again, that was based on my own understanding of why I was miserable. I thought I was miserable because of WHAT I was doing; I didn’t realize it was because of WHO I was pretending to be. I was insecure. I desired to be accepted and because my only reference point was church, that’s where I sought validation. I sought refuge in my religion.

It’s almost 2017 and I’ve finally figured out who I am.

I’ve finally changed the right things. I’ve changed my desire for pity and turned it into an acknowledgement of power.

I’ve begun to say yes to myself. I’ve stopped fighting life and instead, I’ve begun to go with the flow. I no longer seek validation from the high saints and super Christians of the world; I’m seeking life in God and following the leading of my spirit. I’ve changed my standards. I’ve changed how I handle conflict. The overall source of my happiness, is putting action to faith while learning to stay true to who I am at my core.

I’m crazy. I curse. I dance. I say ratchet shit. I love myself. I love people. and I really, really don’t care about what anyone has to say about who I am. I don’t need to be validated by anyone and I’m also not afraid to be wrong. I make decisions everyday the best I know how and sometimes, I get it wrong.

I’m OK with that. I’m OK with being human. I’m open to constructive, loving criticism. I’m open to growing in areas where I’m weak or wrong. I won’t apologize if I don’t change my actions immediately but I will promise to work on myself so that my actions are a reflection of true transformation and not a desire to please others.

The issue so many of us have is that we change our actions without actually experiencing a heart change. Changing your actions without actually changing the source of them will leave you in an annoying, repetitious cycle. We have to not only take the time to look inward but allow ourselves the grace and time it takes to experience change naturally and authentically.

Not everyone likes who I am. I’ve faced a lot of opposition from others around me but I’m happy.

I’m. Happy.

I didn’t love myself until I found God. I didn’t truly find God, until I lost my religion.
and i’m not going back.

 

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.