February 22, 2017 – No Man Will Truly Love You


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parentsIt amazes me how easily a child’s mind is shaped and how parental conditioning becomes in integral part of who we grow into as adults.

I’ve spent a lifetime trying to define who and what I should be, and how I should shape  myself into someone deserving of love.

I had a conversation with my dad when I was about 13 or 14 that really impacted me in so many ways. Here was his “advice” to me:

Daughter, no man will ever truly love you. You are not black and you are not white. If you marry a black man, he will abuse you and hurt you. If you marry a white man he will treat you like a trophy and control you because you are unique looking. You just need to accept whatever man will marry you and abide by his needs and rules. Stop being so strong willed and bullheaded. Be more like a woman should be.

I’ve never been quite able to discern what the hell it meant to be more like a woman.

Living in the middle of two races is difficult enough without having an influence that reinforces you have no clearly defined place to belong. I pretty much wrote off a lot of my dad’s thought processes as a generational thing, it’s just how people were raised in the 40’s and 50’s. Unfortunately, my dad was a bad man (which he often admitted), he is black (which he is not happy about), and he used himself as an example to prove his point. Pretty twisted human being, right? I grew up feeling he was just a bad man and it had NOTHING to do with his skin color, and everything to do with his jaded beliefs.

Love has no boundaries unless we put them there.

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation

February 21, 2017 – Help I Can’t Sleep and My Mind is Being Held Hostage


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SereneInsomnia. My Achilles heel. It comes and goes. It wreaks havoc on my life.

I’ve been in a bout of insomnia for about three weeks now. Generally when it happens, it’s over either a very short time span, a week, or a very long time span, a few months. The longest bout so far was a little over a year. I have analyzed on my own and with a therapist what the cause could be. Stress? Anxiety? Depression? PTSD?

Honestly, the reasons vary. This time around, I truly feel it has everything to do with my creative self going through growing pains. My mind does not rest. I am in a constant state of project ideas, words rushing through my brain like broken glass, questions about the one project I really want to work on, but am too afraid to tackle.

So, yes, there’s a creative war going on in my head. My Poet self is feeling threatened by the newly emerging want to write non-fiction self, who is battling with the want to perform on stage self, and they are all a part of who and what I am as a writer. Unfortunately, I’m having a hard time keeping all of this creative energy in check and taking things on one at at time. In light of all of this, something has to give. So, sleep it is. My mind is most active at night, when my body is at rest. I don’t have to focus on walking, talking, eating, functioning, I’m just in a quiet place, comfy, relaxed, and oh so tired. But sleep eludes me night after night as I ponder how to silence the questions, the activity, and the pressure to accomplish things.

Last night I did something different, because I’ve reached critical mass in the tired department. I turned off the lights with the exception of my reading light, turned on my wave sound machine and my salt rock lamp, settled into my reading chair, and dove into a book. It was like coming home. I got to escape my own world for a while and enter one that did not require me to engage. When I got tired, I crawled into bed, turned off the light and went to sleep. Though I woke up twice during the night, I was able to fall asleep within minutes. After eight hours of sleep (as opposed to my usual 3-4) I feel rested and invigorated.

Today, I mentally catalogue my projects and the order in which I want to tackle them. I also made a decision after a good night’s sleep that I have put the one project I hesitated to work on at the top of the list. As I’ve been told so many times by my fellow writers: If it’s in you and it wants to get out, free it. Don’t be concerned with what anyone else thinks or feels. It has a purpose. Fulfill it. 

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation

February 20, 2017 – Self Doubt is a Bitch


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feb-20There have been several times in my life where emptying myself of all that has filled me up is very necessary. Usually a catalyst happens that takes me in that direction.

Today I was watching a video on Facebook and as it ended, another one immediately started. It was Saul Williams talking about being a vegan, but then it went a step further. He stated repeatedly about the things he does not engage in, because he doesn’t want to fill up with things that are not good for him. One of the things he mentioned was television. The overall message he was relaying really hit home. Of course as is the case in my journey of transformation, I began to think about the things I fill myself up with.

My greatest foes in this life are procrastination and self-doubt. These two things create a vicious circle that is my reality. I procrastinate because I doubt myself and I doubt myself so I procrastinate. Hence, I fill myself up with things that are not only time consuming, but also very negative and often harmful to my physical and mental well-being.

I have dreams, goals, aspirations. I admire those that have them and reach them. I beat myself up for not being stronger and believing I have what it takes. I try to figure out what the impetus for such self-deprecating behavior is. I’m sure I could dig deep enough to find an answer in my childhood or traumatic life experiences, but in the end, none of those things provide the validity for putting so many roadblocks in my way, so many hurdles to jump over or crawl under, and so many reasons to keep failing at trying to move forward.

I emptied my vessel at the beginning of this year, 2017, and promised myself I would only put in the things I needed to live a happier, more productive life. For the most part, I have done that. I have made some major changes and I feel better about myself overall. I know there will be days of doubt, days I will fall off of my transformation wagon, but I also know I’ve never been unable to pick myself up, brush myself off, and try again, and again, and again. That will never change.

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation

February 19, 2017 – Mean Times


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TreeI feel Americans, are living in some very mean and combative times.

Our evolution has brought us to this place of technology playing a very integral part in  our everyday lives. Not much happens anymore that is not influenced by the media machine. It is difficult to discern truth and lies from fact and fiction. Everyone has an opinion, which is not a new thing, however, if you disagree with someone’s opinion, they are inclined to be abusive. If you have an opinion and state it, some people feel they can negate, berate, and judge that opinion.

I’ve stayed away from posting anything political on my page, not because I don’t have opinions, but because I don’t have the time or energy to argue with people. It is difficult to be adult about some of these ridiculous interactions and they tend to make anger rise up in me. I’m fighting that living in anger thing, so…I avoid it. I would rather have a conversation face to face than post arguments on a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter. I mean if you really think about it, isn’t it a ridiculous concept to argue with people through such mediums? Will it change someone’s opinion? No. Will it open a respectful line of discourse? No. Will it solve anything? No. So, why bother?

What happened to integrity? What happened to respect? What happened to trying to be civil? I know, we’ve not always had these things in place, however, I feel the level of anger, hatred, bigotry and just plain mean spirited behavior has escalated in light of the political division we are facing. Is it new? Of course not. We had eight years of this with our last President.

Want to know what I feel is different? People that have hated in silence now feel validated in bringing their hatred out into the open because of our current government’s actions. It’s sad really. What will it take to turn this around? Are we capable of redeeming our humanity ever a fraction?

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation

February 18, 2017 – Snippets/You People


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mo-copyThe term, “you people” has haunted me since 1979.

I grew up in Germany. On an Army base. With Army Brats. We did not judge each other based on skin color. I was never defined as, You People, until I came to the U.S.

I was married to an American G.I. A white man. I’m sure you ask, why the hell does that matter? It does. So, we’d been stateside for a short time, living in Connecticut, when we decided to hit a local bar. I still had my military ID which at that time showed race and religion. Children of service members were assigned the religion of the father. In my case: Black. So, we go to this bar and were asked for ID to see if we were old enough to drink. I wasn’t sure what that was about since Germany did not have a drinking age. I showed my ID and the guy at the door says, “we don’t want Your Kind in here. I’m thinking, military dependents? I get all hackled up and tell the guy if it wasn’t for our military men and women he would not have the freedoms he has. He looks at me like I have three heads. I inquire, “what do you mean by, Your Kind? His response was quite matter of fact, “Blacks.” I thought my then husband was going to blow a gasket. He literally turned seven shades of red and I could have sworn steam was coming out of his ears. I convinced him that we should just leave.

My first encounter with being defines as Your Kind was solidly in place. I can’t even count how many times I have heard that phrase over the years. Here is is 2017, 38 years later and I heard those very words just a month ago in Naples, Florida. “We don’t want your kind here.” It’s been a hard fought battle to not get angry or hurt every time that trash is thrown at me. I keep telling myself, ignorance is as ignorance does. I am not a Kind. I am merely a human being lviing through a lifetime with as much grace and dignity as possible to keep me in a place of self-love.

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation

February 17, 2017 – Snippets/The Best $300 I Ever Spent


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feb-17I bought my babies freedom for $300.00.

I can’t say leaving my home saddened me. It was the home I shared with my husband and two children. It was also the home that held a dark secret. It was far from a happy place. I lived with an abusive alcoholic.

I can remember the last fight we had like it was yesterday. It is imprinted in my memory. It’s also a memory deeply ingrained in my daughter’s mind. That is the story for another snippet.

After the blowout, I called my dad and told him I needed to leave Wisconsin. I also told him my husband tried to throw me backwards down a flight of stairs after choking me. It’s unlikely I would have survived it. Surprisingly, he said he would send me $600 for gas and hotel since I was driving to New Jersey. He also said he wanted to talk to my husband. I left the house to go to Western Union and pick up the money, while my children’s dad watched them. Apparently my dad called and contacted my husband and to this day I have no idea what the content of that conversation was, I just know my dad told him he was sending me the money to move.

When I got home, I was greeted by a much calmer version of the person that had just tried to kill me. He said my dad informed him he was sending $600 for my trip to New Jersey and that if I thought of leaving, he would call the cops and tell them I was kidnapping “his” children. I was terrified as I’d been through this before with my first marriage and had lost my child in the process; I was NOT going to let it happen again. I asked what he wanted and he said half of the money. I agreed as long as he wrote a note saying I could leave with the kids. I gave him $300 and he wrote the note. The next morning I was on the road and within hours I had arrived at the state line. I inched over that imaginary line, pulled my car to the side of the road, got out, knelt on the ground and kissed the dirt through a torrent of tears.

I was free. I had my kids. My life was forever changed. I made the remaining $300 get me home (ironically it was a foreshadowing of sacrifices I would have to make for my kids in the not too distant future), by putting gas in the car, finding a flea bag motel, and foregoing meals so the kids could eat. None of that mattered. What did, was that I was free of my abuser and on my way to a safe place.

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation

February 16, 2017 – The Mind in Menopause


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premenopauseMenopause is a time of transition and for some a time of mourning.

I’m post menopausal. I started at about 42 and pretty much came to and end with it about five years ago. I went through it fairly young and pretty quickly. My mom struggled with menopause for well over 15 years and took Hormone Replacement Therapy to get through it. She battled and beat cancer twice in her 70’s. I swore I would work through the change of life without HRT’s. I did. The most uncomfortable part was the hot flashes, but other than that it wasn’t too bad.

I’ve spoken to women that have gone through this change and found myself intrigued with how the journey affected them. Many of them stated they became depressed once they realized the time of reproducing had come to an end. Other’s stated they hated what happened to their bodies, primarily weight gain. Still others were stressed out by the significant mood swings. It’s always been a bone in my throat that not only do we menstruate for about 40 years, bear children (which is a huge strain on the body), fight to keep up with societal standards of what attractive looks like, and aging, but we have to suffer through an actual change of life. And patriarchal society calls us the weaker sex. Ha.

I feel the pressure women are under exacerbates menopause greatly. There are many things out of our control when it comes to this “change” and we struggle with the notion that our value decreases as we age. It’s sad actually.

Personally, the only thing that really changed for me was my weight, but I feel a significant part of that was giving up cigarettes at the age of 39. That in itself can wreak havoc on a body.

Honestly, I don’t define myself by what my exterior represents. I do try to eat well and exercise just for the sake of being healthy, but I refuse to feel like my value as a woman, as a human being has been diminished because I no longer serve reproductive purposes. My 40’s and 50’s have been the best years of my life. I value them. I treasure them. I’m damn glad I’ve gotten this far. But I will admit, hot flashes are a bitch.

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation

February 15, 2017 – Feeling Hurt Is Not a Sign Of Weakness


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MoCrying was not an option.

As a child, I was not allowed to cry. From my father’s perspective, it was a sign of weakness. There was swift and vigilant punishment if I cried. My dad was quite heavy handed and his solution to my perceived wrong-doings was to swing an army utility belt across my legs and back, or a swift smack upside the head. I learned early on not to cry while being hit, though I do believe he became more angered and not being able to break me.

I had a ritual. I was a closet cryer. Literally. I would bring a bowl of water with ice cubes in it and a washcloth into my room. After whatever punishment my dad doled out, I went into my closet, closed the door, cried and screamed into a pillow, then applied the washcloth to my eyes to remove and post-cry swelling and redness. I had it down to a science.

Throughout my entire adult life, I have fought against shedding tears and even more so fought against letting someone hurt my feelings. Not only is that ridiculous, it’s impossible. I am actually quite easily hurt. I am actually very sensitive. Most people see me as a very strong woman that has overcome many things and can handle anything thrown her way. True on both counts, however, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel hurt along the way.

I recently discovered while working with my therapist, that the anger/rage reactions I have to stressful situations or crisis is a way for the child in me that was not allowed to cry to rely on a tried and true set of emotions for survival. If I dig deeper, beyond the anger, the truth emerges. My feelings were hurt and the only way I could work through it was to define my strength through anything but my true emotions. It ‘s quite liberating to understand the things that make me tick. It’s also liberating to realize I can cry and feel sad without feeling weak or incapable of managing situations. Crying actually feels good. It’s a healthy release. It certainly feels better than being angry.

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation

February 14, 2017 – Another Life Year


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CakeI’ve always had mixed feelings about my birthday.

I can remember when it was just the coolest thing having a birthday on Valentine’s Day. People would say, “wow, you were born on lover’s day!” I felt like my born day was one everybody celebrated with loved ones.

In this time of dissension, anger, fear, and overall negativity, I’ve seen so many posts on social media making Valentine’s Day something to loathe. Is it because of the idea that it is yet another day of the year we feed the money machine? Is it the frustration of trying to find a significant other? Is it just that there are less and less things to feel joyous or happy about? I know I have my blahs about some holidays because I feel they have become capitalistic ventures that cause people stress. I’ve also felt that way about Valentine’s Day at times.

I woke up this morning filled with gratitude that I am another year older, and wiser to some degree. I woke up this morning feeling love. I woke up this morning and embraced the positive things in my life. I woke up this morning with a smile on my face.

I woke up this morning.

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation

February 13, 2017 – Positive Thoughts Bring Positive Moments


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New CarMy day started off pretty rough.

I battled for well over half an hour with a representative from healthcare.gov. I provided a change of address and miraculously my monthly amount due increased by $2.00. I fought a valiant battle to try and understand how that was remotely possible. In the end as is the case with battling anything red tape related in this country I surrendered to the inevitable. Once off of the phone, I was so angry I couldn’t stop the flow of tears. I was ranting and raving when I suddenly stopped pacing and took a deep breath. I’d just written about releasing anger and moving forward in life without the drain of rage. I let it go.

Before work, I decided to run to Petsmart to pick up a bag of food for Luna. I grabbed my bag, went to the register only to end up behind a lady that was doing a lot of talking and pausing between each item she placed on the counter. My inner dialogue began and I grew frustrated. I kept looking over at the other register to see if it was moving faster and was just about to walk over there, when the woman struck up a conversation with me. She mentioned that she had a really hard time picking up that large bag of food because of her COPD and that an employee of the store just stood and watched her struggle with the bag. I felt awful for her and empathized with her. She still took her time putting the smaller bag of food and 10 or so cans on the counter, but we continued our conversation. When she was rung up she asked the cashier of there was a 15% off coupon on the receipt. The cashier assured her there was. She took the receipt and placed it on top of my bag, instructing the cashier to apply it to my purchase. I was shocked. I thanked her and we walked out together. She was parked next to me. I lifted the heavy bag out of her cart and placed it in her car. She smiled, thanked me, and told me I would receive good karma for the day. As far as I was concerned, I already had.

At the end of the day as i was gathering my documents to register my car tomorrow, I noticed that my car was already registered through February of 2018. I realized also that Carmax took care of me in getting me into this car. I was ecstatic because that saves me the $60.00 I thought I’d have to pay out. There’s that good karma!

My main lesson again, was to release anger and realize that what we need comes to us when we need it if we stay positive and trust in good things.

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation