Monday, March 19, 2012

be what i love. be her.

At the center of your being you have the answer;
You know who you are and you know what you want.

Last night I fell asleep praying, and had a dream of a vision board. I have never made one, but I guess it was a sign that I need to. For those that don't know a vision board is a place where you paste or collage images that represent your goals and/or vision for your life.The idea behind it is that when you surround yourself with images of who you want to become, what you want to have, where you want to live etc. your life changes to match those images and desires. 
I recently read the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen. It was a paradigm shift. There are so many gems of wisdom in it. Read it for yourself, and you will understand. One of his motto's is "easy to do, easy not to do." He puts goal development into five categories: health, finances, relationships, personal development, my life. I like that he guides you through identifying a simple task to start, and the price to pay to achieve your goals. I bring this up because I use his techniques and philosophy to approach everything now, and am incorporating it into my vision board. 
So this is what I have so far....
be a woman of my word. body, mind, soul connection and balance. exercise is as integral apart of my day as eating and breathing. lots of water. fresh homemade foods with natural ingredients. 

Partnership with a man that is driven, passionate, financially stable, family oriented, positive role-model and father to my son, dedicated to building a marriage based on communication, commitment and compromise. I want love, shared values, romance, and reciprocity.
Healthy, happy, supportive, and prosperous relationships with family and friends.

No matter what is going on Amari and I share love, hugs, kisses, laughs, inspiration and knowledge with each other. 

Love my job. Programmatic in nature. Flexible hours. My passions incorporated into the everyday. Debt free. 3 month worth of expenses in savings. College fund for my son and any future children. 25% of income donated yearly. Travel fund. 

Personal Development:
Self-confident, love me first, grow and change by choice and with joy, happy, read 10 pages a day, attend at least one class or conference a year. Go to art shows regularly. Learn a new language every two years. 

My Life:

Happy, fresh flowers, ocean breeze, traveling, awe-filled, love, sharing, endless possibilities.


Next post I will share with you the daily tasks I am doing to make my vision my reality.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Missed Connections and Other Confessions

These are my confessions...

Two nights ago I did something I haven't done since I was in graduate school. I read craigslist missed connections. Back then when I was bored in the library I would read them and make up back stories for the posts. I secretly fantasized one would be about me.Who are the people who post and why? Personally I feel like the odds are low that the person you are posting about/for: a) actually reads missed connections b) will read it the day you post c) know it is for them and d) respond to it. I was at a BBQ once, and brought the subject up and a guy there said he had posted one. I was shocked because I had imagined it was something mostly white people did, and here this seemingly "normal" black guy posted AND admitted to it. I was eager to find out the back story. So, he said he was on the train, and the most beautiful woman he ever saw boarded. They exchanged glances, but he didn't go and to talk to her. She got off the train, but the whole day he couldn't get her off his mind. So that night he posted. It was his first time. She didn't respond, and he said he didn't see himself ever posting again. Crazy to think about the effect you can have on a person.... I think I like missed connections because it is all the emotions that feelings like pride or nerves or circumstances keeps people from expressing. If you never read them before here is a sample of some posts:

Men to Women:

Title: I love you
Message: More than you'll ever know. I will always be here when you need me, no matter what. What I said was true. 

Title:Seriously, S...
Message: I do not know if it is in the cards for us... if I will ever tie you down and spank you. Somebody needs to, though. Seriously.
So there. Are you happy now? Go ahead and check one off of the bucket list. 
Now get back to work. 
image 0image 1

Title: LA Fitness
Message: Ok so you go to the LA Fitness off of Eldorado, you come to the morning spin classes a lot, you were there this morning. You're blonde, about 5'6 or 5'7 probably. You are incredibly gorgeous, just needed to say that! I think you're married so I doubt you would even look here but thats ok. I said it now I feel better! Thanks for making me work harder! 

Women to Men:

Title: I still miss you...
Message :I know the chances that you will read this and know it is for you are slim to none. Knowing you the way I do, I am doubtful that you even read this type of thing at all, but then, most people would never imagine me reading, much less posting here. The truth is, I blew it from the beginning with you. I know that now, and most of me knew it then. Would things have turned out differently if I had been more open and honest? I do not know because we both enjoyed the game to some extend. All I know is I still miss you, I still think of you, and my skin still burns when I remember the way you kissed me that last time we were together. Did you know that was it for us? I am not sure because I honestly did not realize it was our last night together. I was too wrapped up in how hungry you were for me and how drunk I was for you. If you read this by some chance and you still miss me and think of me, email at the address where you wished me a Happy New Year last month. 

Message: All your noble-sounding bullshit, when the truth is you're afraid. Or, you simply used and dumped me. I'm not sure if I should be pissed at myself for falling for all your pretty words or at you for being a heartless jerk. And to think I believed in you. 

Title:The Bar at Sfuzzis
Message: We were both ordering drinks at Sfuzzi at the bar. We kept looking at eachother, but never spoke. I was with my friend, so maybe you thought he was my date. Nope.

Over the years I have tried to journal, but I always quit. You know how when you go to a museum and there are pages of Malcolm X or Virginia Woolf's diary? I can't help it, but I write my diary like it is displayed in a museum case.  Even when I was a little girl I would write in this really dramatic voice playing it up for my imagined reader, and eventually I would get disgusted with myself and so I'd quit. 

I tell all my secrets to strangers. People all over the world have collected bits and pieces of everything there is to know about me. My favorite places to share are airplanes and park benches. 

In elementary school I would pretend like I couldn't hear on those beeping  hearing tests.

Even though I love being a mother sometimes I fantasize about running away from the responsibly. 

I talk a lot and am outgoing, because that is my way of masking my shyness. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

for women who have considered motherhood when looking at baby clothes isn't enuf

The other day, while waiting in line I struck up a conversation with this woman. She was telling me about how looking at baby clothes makes her want to have a baby. She is 31, and single. She said she wants to finish her MBA, open her business,and then she will become a mother. Laughing she added, "Oh yeah, and find a man." I just smiled. I remember the days of thinking that having a baby was that simple, and could neatly fit into my timetable.

I used to think a little something like this:

Babies are so cute! You name them, dress them up, feed them, teach them, and love love love on them. First college then 5 kids with the first one at 24. Well maybe not 24, but definitely 25 because babies are for the young! Marriage isn't a necessity. I'm in love. We have our problems, but love conquers all. Besides a piece of paper doesn't validate anything.  It is such an archaic tradition, and I KNOW him. We are different. Pregnancy can't be that bad. You can eat whatever you want, and people cater to you. After nine months you scream a little, the baby pops outs,and you stick the baby on your breast and they eat. Your life goes back to normal, except better because now you have baby! I hope he/she has my eyes, and his smile. We are going to be the perfect family. I am a natural with kids, so I know I will be a great mother. He is going to be a great Dad too. He is loving, dependable, and has big dreams. The trick to parenting is to make everyday an adventure and learning experience. We will be so much better than our parents. Kids are reasonable, you just have to know how to talk to them.

And then I got pregnant. I was 25 just like I wanted. I sometimes laugh to myself when I am thinking about life because I always get what I want/pray for. It is just that sometimes what I think I want isn't what I think it is, and might not even be what I really want. I am learning to put more thought into what I pray/speak/will into existence (but that is another post). Pregnancy and parenting have created a paradigm shift that cannot begin to be encapsulated in words alone. When I was pregnant I dreamt of death all the time. I am a hypochondriac and worrier so the dreams made me crazy. I came up with all types of scenarios of how I was going to die, the baby was going to die, and the world was going to end (Worse case scenario thinking is a side effect of childhood trauma, but again that is for another post). I bring all that up to say that I interpret those dreams now as my subconscious process of becoming a mother. My old self did die, and I was born. If all that I have been through is the price I had to  pay to have my son I would do it all again, and then some. I would walk through fire for him, but I believe that the experience doesn't have to be difficult. I know countless women with stories eerily similar to mine.  I don't need to go through all the details for you to know what I am talking about. I didn't learn the details of the pain and struggles of friends, family, and acquaintances until I was knee deep in my own situation. Generation upon generation we keep repeating the same interactions. Let me first acknowledge that I don't think I have the cure/answer to broken homes. These are just things I wish I had known/thought of/asked before I chose to became a mother:

Self Reflection:

  • Why do I want to have a baby? (Where does the impulse, timeline etc. come from?)
  • Think about marriage.
  • What constitutes a good parent? 
  • What is your relationship like with you parents/providers?
  • What do you need in terms of support from your partner? Describe it in detail. (Financial, emotional, spiritual etc.)
  • How do you react when you don't get enough sleep? When you are under stress?
  • Do I want to be connected to this man (and his family) FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE? 
  • How will having a baby change your current lifestyle? (I suggest making this a survey questions for your family and friends with children)
  • What are your career goals? How flexible is your job? (Can you take off, come late, leave early etc.) 
  • Your breast will change (and so will your body). Even if you don't breastfeed, your breast will change. Are you ready for that?
  • What type of support network do you have? 
  • What is your parenting philosophy?  (If you don't have one by default it becomes a variety of how you were raised)
  • What religion will you raise your child in or how will you explain life/the universe?
  • Do you believe in vaccines? What are your medical preferences? (traditional, eastern, homeopathic)
  • Will you stay home, have a nanny or send the baby to daycare? 
  • Think about education. (Traditional, Parochial, Montessori, Waldorf, Homeschooling) 
  • What will you feed the baby? (Breastfeed or formula, Organic, Vegetarian)
  • How much will it cost to have a baby and raise him/her?
  • Disposable or cloth diapers?

Conversation with Him:

  • Do you want to have a baby?
  • What are your thoughts about marriage?
  • What constitutes a good parent?
  • When do you become a parent? (At conception, a certain point in pregnancy, when the "baby gets here", when you feel like it, never) 
  • How do you react when you don't get enough sleep? When you are under stress?
  • What is your relationship like with you parents/providers?
  • What does supporting me look like to you? Describe it in detail. 
  • How can I support you?
  • Will you go to doctors appointments with me? Birthing classes? Exercise?
  • What is your decision making process when it comes to the child? (joint, defer to the mother, all yours)
  • What are your career goals? How flexible is your job? (Can you take off, come late, leave early etc.) 
  • What is your parenting philosophy? (If you don't have one by default it becomes a variety of how you were raised)
  • What religion will you raise your child in or how will you explain life/the universe?
  • Do you believe in vaccines? What are your medical preferences? (traditional, eastern, homeopathic)
  • Think about education. (Traditional, Parochial, Montessori, Waldorf, Homeschooling) 
  • What will you feed the baby? (Breastfeed or formula, Organic, Vegetarian)
  • How much will it cost to have a baby and raise him/her?
  • Disposable or cloth diapers?

General Considerations:

  • Babies don't fix problems in relationships, on the contrary they can sometimes highlight them. 
  • Women and men both go through a process when a baby is on the way. It is different for each. How can you support each other? What do you need? 
  • There is a reason the nursery rhyme says first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage. If nothing else marriage represents a commitment (and that is at minimum what you need). 
  • Once your pregnant, that baby has to come out: even though you can't control all aspects of your pregnancy and birth you should have a birth plan.
  • Natural childbirth is a possibility and wonderful experience (but it takes preparation).
  • Read up on breast feeding. The first six weeks can be the toughest, but it gets better. It helps you lose weight!
  • Your hormones will take you on an emotional roller-coaster.
  • In your last trimester rub olive oil on your vagina to help with the elasticity so that you won't tear.
  • Drink A LOT of water.
  • There are after birth girdles that help shrink your stomach. I used one because I didn't like the way the looseness felt (like my intestines and everything were just moving around). 
  • I used baby oil and coco butter and didn't get stretch marks on my stomach, but from my understanding it is hereditary. 
  • Exercise while you are pregnant because it will be easier to bounce back! I did yoga, tai-chi and walked. Do what works for you. 
  • If you end up alone. It will still be all that you want it to be (and maybe better). 
  • Your mind and body are amazing. Be surprised at what you can do. 
Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood By Leonard Pitts, Jr.
What to Expect When Your Expecting By Hiedi Murkoff
Marc Bamuthi Joseph's Word Becomes Flesh

 It is a beautiful and amazing time in life. I delivered my son at 7 pounds 8 ounces with no drugs. I labored for 10 hours (mostly at home in the tub). I breast fed until he was about 13/14 months (and it was a STRUGGLE for me at first). I gained over 50 pounds while pregnant (and lost it all). I craved pineapple and grapefruit. Now that I am in toddler land it is hard to remember all the little details, but  I am happy to answer any questions about my experiences if you have them!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Life Scripts

We all have them. They are the scripts that get us through life. The stories we tell that paint us as the hero, the victim, the survivor etc. I have been thinking about mine lately, and how I choose to tell my story. I recognize that I have focused on the negative as an excuse to not grow. I allow myself to be the victim, so that when I don't live up to my potential I can pull a tragedy I have overcome out of the past and make myself feel better. I tell myself things like, "I have been through so much, and am still successful. So what if I (fill in the blank)." This is a limiting practice,and at the root of it is fear. Fear is a little-death everyday. A great example of how this works in my life is how I talk about my pregnancy (and my break-up): 

Script One:
I remember crying, I mean boo-hooing when I was pregnant because I didn't want to be a single mother. I was pregnant, alone, and I got fired from a job I had taken to get health insurance. It was a true low point in my life. I didn't know you could go to sleep crying and wake-up still crying. I was consumed by anger, sadness and fear. I didn't know how I was going to make it from one month to the next.Where was the man I had been in love with, wanted to spend my life with, whose child was growing in me? He abandoned me. He cheated on me. He lied to me. He took away my fairy-tale, my love ever-after with mama, daddy and baby. I was broken. 

Script Two:
Pregnancy was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. I felt connected to the whole spectrum of life. My relationship with myself, my mother and friends blossomed. I lost my job, but was able to collect unemployment which afforded me the time and money to take up yoga and tai-chi. I had the time to read for pleasure and watch the sunset over White Rock Lake everyday. People were so kind to me: the yoga teacher allowed me to attend Hypno-birthing Classes for free, and introduced me to a Doula (who massaged me throughout ten hour of labor), my Ob-Gyn continued seeing me, and delivered my son for free, and my son's father freed me from a toxic relationship (something I didn't have the courage to do at the time). 

Both stories are true. However, I have found that the I let the first script be my dominant story. It is my crutch, my excuse for continuing the same bad habits (after all, I am damaged). That script allows me to "take a break" from personal responsibility and owning my choices in the present moment. I could easily coast through life using scripts like that, but what does it really get me in the end? Just an excuse for not living the life I want/ am destined to live, and that isn't worth it for me (anymore). Life keeps moving, you can't take a break from it. We all have histories that have sadness and trauma as part of the story, and we also have the choice to actively address and resolve the feelings that come with those things. When we are honest with ourselves we often discover that scripts 2, 3, 4 and 5 exist and are equally true. Is your life script working for you?

Monday, January 30, 2012

This I believe...

Kahlil Gibran on Children

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Here I Go...

It has taken me nearly three years to answer Bernestine Singley's call to write about my adventures in motherhood. This will not be a linear project, it will be a space to collect my musings on the complexities of being a woman/daughter/sister/mother/lover/friend. One of my favorites, Zora Neale Hurston once said, "There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you." So here it is, the story of my becoming. I have come so far/I have so far to go...