Jamie Mayes, AOE

Posts Tagged ‘family’

Motherhood & Gardening: For Mother’s Day

In Culture, life, motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized on May 13, 2017 at 3:35 am

 

easterA seed was planted

I nurtured it

Started off nervously

Unsure of the process

Worried about the results

Hoping I was doing everything the right way

 

Plenty of water

Plenty of sunlight

Plenty of love

Plenty of time

Plenty of faith

Plenty of patience

 

I prune you continuously

Cutting back the excess

Cultivating your roots

For full, bountiful, abundant

Stems that reach far out and up to the sky

And bask in the sunlight

 

The pure joy of seeing my seed blossom

Of seeing the fruit of my harvest

The blessing to share you with others

Who are so happy to see you grow

Who pluck not your fruit

And break not your stems

 

What a wonder you are

Bringing beauty to my life

Giving me joy once undiscovered

Good for my heart and my soul

Before my very eyes you grow

Fruitfully, wonderfully, perfectly made

 

©Copyright 2017 by Jamie Mayes

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Learning to Live an Unbothered Life

In Culture, life, media, News, reality on September 11, 2015 at 10:15 pm

I will be the first to admit that I spent most of my life concerned about others’ opinions of me. I was insecure for manywpid-20150828_191001.jpg reasons; I was a dark-skinned, pudgy, kinky-haired little girl in Creole South Louisiana with a list of visible and invisible problems. Childhood insecurities became teen insecurities which led to adult insecurities that were multiplied with each failed relationship or broken friendship. By the time I was 23, I was swimming in a pool of emotional misery, yearning to feel a true love for myself so that I could truly love everyone who loved me.

At the tender age of 29, life began to transform and at 32 I am finally on a journey to live life unbothered. Unbothered is such a funny word to me; when the popularity of the word soared I found myself laughing at the memes depicting women in bubble baths with wine or little babies with carefree faces laying on plush pillows. However, eventually, I wanted to be a true depiction of the snapshots; I wanted to truly be unbothered.

The demands of being a grown-up places an immense amount of pressure on us to play certain roles, to behave a certain way, and in my case, to try to live as close to perfection as possible- all the while, I had been killing my soul softly. Striving to make others happy and keep the peace while living in misery blocked my ability to think clearly and inhibited my ability to be “real.” For a while, I have falsely attributed the adoption of my new attitude to motherhood, but the truth is that I started to evolve before the possibility of my son was imaginable. My search to become unbothered began when I realized all the things I had missed by living inside of a mental box, and the urgency of being unbothered was escalated when I realized the pressures of single motherhood, work, entrepreneurship and trying to get closer to God.

Thoughts of the best advice ever given to me by my 8th grade Art teacher and my 11th grade English teacher bombarded my brain repeatedly, forcing me to revisit the quote “to thine own self be true.” In essence, being true and honest with me about who I am and what my feelings were was essential to becoming unbothered. Becoming unbothered meant that I had to let go of many things and cling closer to some others. Becoming unbothered meant directing my energy to causes that matter and staying away from things that are not for my well-being or for the betterment of mankind.

In essence, I had to live my life, love myself and focus on the lifestyle my son and I deserve. In realizing who and what matters most, I was able to release myself of unfair obligations and mistreatment by others. I learned to focus on things and people who focus on me. I have chosen to find the beauty in everyday by remaining unbothered.

God & Poetry Saved Me from Suicide

In Culture, life, media, modeling, News, Race, reality on May 24, 2015 at 12:51 pm

For years I have been asked what motivated me to start writing. I have only been able to give part of the truth when I told people that I used writing to help me cope with issues. The other part, the most important part of this answer, has been an uncomfortable story to tell. I have hinted at the truth, only alluding to the answer because I was afraid to give full disclosure and worried about how the answer would reflect on me. This is not an easy explanation; it is the hardest story I have ever had to tell. However, what I experienced is all too common and not talked about enough.

I have never danced around the fact that I suffered from depression most of my teen, preteen years, and some of my early adult years. Unfortunately, the illness was pervasive in my household throughout my childhood. My mother was a serious sufferer of depression and I silently fell into the same pattern, as I struggled to understand what was wrong with our family and how I could solve the problem. In our apartment in the projects, there was a broken woman in a dark room on one side of the wall, a sad little girl crying everyday on the other side of the wall, and a boy I could not understand down the hall. This scene went on for years. In addition, self-esteem problems, the absence of my father, and poverty were all issues that I understood too well too young. Though I understood the issues, I did not understand why they were a part of my life or how to escape the problems associated with them and the emotions I experienced as a result.

My depression became even darker when I was about twelve years old. There are many things I cannot remember, but of those I can recall, I remember hating everything about myself and my life and believing that no one loved me, not even God. I believed that my dark brown skin was jet-black and ugly and that I was the sole source of problems in our home. I hated waking up in the morning; each day seemed to drag on and I could not see a reason for my existence. I began to pray for God to kill me in my sleep at night. I had convinced myself that no one would miss me if I was gone, not even my family, who was doing the best they could to help our family while trying not to upset our situation even more. I thought that if I died in my sleep it would be quick and painless. I was convinced that death would be my only peace, but a few more years would pass before I would actually get the courage to consider killing myself. Yet, when the moment arrived, I stood in the kitchen with the lights off and a knife to my wrist. I had never felt more desperate and ready. With tears running down my face, I stood ready to relieve myself of all pain. As I stood in the kitchen, I prayed one last desperate prayer, If you will give me one reason to live, just one God, I won’t do this. But I just cannot take it anymore. It was the last prayer I felt I had the energy to pray, and I had given up on God. I had wondered why I had seen my mother pray so much, but it seemed that nothing about our lives had changed. I had witnessed her praying through the crack of her door and reading her bible multiple times a day when I was child; yet, she was still so unhappy. I could not understand what prayer was supposed to do, but I knew it had to do something. I wondered why I felt the need to mimic her example, but still could not see the benefits of praying. Just as I finished my ultimate plea for a reason to save my own life, God spoke to me so clearly it was as if He was in the kitchen with me. He said three simple words, Write about it. It was such an unfamiliar experience and voice that I doubted myself when I first heard the words. He repeated, Jamie, write about it. It took me a minute to compose myself, but I dried my face, put the knife in the sink and went to my bedroom. I found my school notebook and starting writing words on paper.

I began writing paragraphs about my feelings and the anger with my life and my situation. I wrote when I was happy, angry, frustrated and depressed. Some of my writings were dark and filled with rage, but the more I wrote the more I was able to release the pain that I felt. I frequently heard God speaking to me as I wrote. Sometimes I wrote multiple times a day, and sometimes I would go days without writing. Yet, I knew that my pen was my savior and it was helping me to escape my pain. Though nothing was changing at home yet, things were changing within me. I started to feel hope and my motivation to become successful drove me to excel in everything I did. Mediocrity was never acceptable; my performance always had to be exceptional. I believed that my exceptional performance would help to change so many things about my life, and though I did not see much progress, writing continued to give me hope.

After my ninth grade year of high school Mrs. Sylvia Smith (formerly Hawkes) encouraged me to enter the public speaking contest at 4-H Short Course. Given my talkative history, she thought it would be the perfect competition for a girl in an agriculture club who could not have farm animals in the projects. I loved all famous black orators, and I secretly wanted to be like Dr. King one day, though I never thought it was truly possible. I thought the writing I had been doing for the past few years might help me write a speech for a contest. My paragraphs became poems, and my poems became my first essays. I became a competitive speaker who was more enthused by sharing a positive speech than by winning; though, I went on to win and place in most of my competitions. Speaking validated my calling to share hope with others.

The irony of my life was that most people never knew my living situation or that I lived every day for many years in depression. They had no idea that the outspoken honor student who was a member and leader in almost every school organization was smiling on the outside and praying for a reason to live inside. School gave me validation, and education gave me liberation. Seeing the success of others gave me hope on wpid-11221215_852934968112718_1626851941_o.jpgthe day that I almost gave in. I am thankful that God saved me and I am living in every single moment of this life. As I hold my son, I am reminded of why I am so blessed to see every day and I frequently think to myself that I almost missed this wonderful life. Each night when I talk to my mama, I am thankful that God created such a beautiful masterpiece out of the shattered vessels that we were. When I stand on stages and talk to audiences, I think about how I almost missed the chance to share such important moments with others. All of the pain I experienced equipped me to be as strong as I am today. All of the hurt I felt gave me the compassion that I share with others. All of the depression I experienced made me appreciate true joy. All of the brokenness in my home was to bring my family even closer together in God. My friends and family frequently make jokes about how much I cry when I get emotional, but when I think of all the years I spent crying tears of pain, I want to make up for them by crying tears of joy. I am not perfect, and neither is my life, but God’s will for my life is being perfected each day. I have been freed because God and poetry saved me from suicide.

Favor Ain’t Fair…Or is It?

In Culture, justice, life, News on March 17, 2015 at 4:51 am

It is a line that drives me absolutely crazy. So much so that sometimes, I imagine myself jumping up and down on a table in a room full of “favor ain’t fair” quotees (yes, I made that up) chanting, “Yes, it is! Favor is fair!” If I could find the first person who made this statement, I would smack them on the back of the head and say, “No! Don’t start it! It’s not even true!”

However, nearly every black church across America chants this line an average of 455 times per Sunday service or Wednesday night bible study. (Do not mock my fictional statistics.)  I have disagreed with this statement from the first day it slipped from the lips of the anointed. The implication that favor is not fair makes it seem as if God is not just in His dealings with us when the bible states the contrary.            Psalm 5: 12 states, “For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as a shield.” Psalm 84: 11 states, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” As a matter of fact, the bible provides several scriptures that tell the benefits of living according to His will with Psalm 21 reminding us that God will bless us when we seek His face and His will. He makes promises of overflows, ten folds, open doors and foot stools. Yet, we continue to insist that the favor granted by living a righteous life is not fair.

To this concept I mupoet4st contest. For what is the point of joining a specialty club if one does not expect to receive exclusive benefits? The benefit of serving a mighty God, honoring His commandments, getting in line with His will, and repenting of errs and sins is favor. I beg to differ- favor is fair! For who does not enjoy reaping the benefits of being a saved child of God?

I think I have targeted the problem- we think favor applies solely to material things. Visual blessings tend to qualify higher on the “favored” list than non-visual blessings. However, peace in the midst of the storm can only be achieved when one has favor. An increase in finances or special connections will not buy peace, but a solid relationship with God and obedience will make one steadfast and joyful in the worst situations. There are many non-physical blessings that are purely the result of favor due to obedience. But the obsession with materialist things has caused us to misunderstand the true blessings of favor. This is not to decrease the value of material blessings, but to clarify that they do not determine whether one is experiencing favor. Material things come and go but a spiritual connection that brings for supernatural blessings is favor that cannot be explained.

There is one aspect of God’s dealings with us that is not “fair.” That aspect is grace and mercy. This twosome is given to nearly everyone on a daily basis- saved or unsaved, Baptist, Muslim, and even Atheist. Psalm 145:9 reads, “The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.” God gives us a new chance every morning that our feet hit the floor. He gives us another opportunity to seek His face no matter how often we mess up. He loves us relentlessly, not because of favor, but because of grace and mercy.

Some preachers and teachers may disagree when they read this, but as the old gospel says, “like a tree planted by the water, I shall be moved.” There is nothing unfair about favor. The most amazing part of being saved is knowing your relationship with Christ connects you to favored blessings like no other. For committing your whole heart to Christ, He promises to never leave or forsake you and that He will supply all of your needs. The word declared that He is rich with houses and land and He holds the power of the world in His hand; so, why would he not want to give His children who are after His heart access to these amazing blessings? God’s desire is for His children to live in joy and peace that can only be found when individuals know Him. God honors His promise when we honor our commitment. Yes, it is absolutely favor, and despite what you have heard, it is fair.

American Injustice for Black Men: Part II

In Uncategorized on December 30, 2014 at 8:26 am

Lady-LibertyIt’s funny how a young white male killed 14 people and wounded 50 in a Colorado movie theater and there was more focus on his mental illness than the dead and harmed. It’s funny how a young white male killed 20 children and 6 adults at an elementary school and repeated stories about his mental illness struggles were the main headlines for many news websites and stations. However, when black male Ismaaiyl Brinsley went on a spree killing his ex-girlfriend and two NYPD police officers, it was hardly mentioned that he too had suffered from mental illness. Brinsley had a history of suicide attempts as recently as last year. Yet, he has been tattooed as a cop killer and murder, and little focus has been given to the unfortunate loss of his estranged girlfriend. Instead, media and society have used this incident to claim that the protests in New York and across the country have sparked this unfortunate situation. Brinkley’s mental illness issues and history have been used as ammunition to make it seem that black Americans are unruly and uncontrollable. Henceforth, the deaths of black men are justifiable in attempts to hurt them before they hurt others. I laugh, but not in a comical way. I laugh in a sick, demented, this-joke-is-too-dark, darker-than-my-too-black-for-America-skin way.

I have struggled for the past two years to control the anxiety and anger I feel towards America as it allows its racist face to show. It has been hard to accept that America has made no progress at all. Yes, laws were created following the death of Dr. King. However, what I have learned is that these laws were written on paper in attempts to pacify blacks, not to actually correct a problem or force American society to change. For that is a much bigger issue. One cannot unteach systematic racism or force individuals to stop making their offspring feel that they must remain separate to be superior. Therefore, the result of individuals teaching racism at home is the development of an unjust neighborhood which leads to a biased community which creates partial leaders which infiltrates an unfair country thus creating a divided society leading to a broken world.

Brinsley’s case has not justified police actions across the country; it has confirmed what I suspected. Black men who commit the same crimes as their white counterparts are presented in different manner and portrayed as beasts, thus creating an automatic sense of fear in society. Purse clutching and unwarranted deaths will be at an all-time high as America continues to paint images of Trayvon Martin dressed as a hoodlum who created fear in his own neighborhood, Mike Brown as an overly beastified pit bull who could not even fall at the shot of a bullet, Eric Garner being so large that his very voice overpowered a cop, and Tamir Rice needed no questions asked because 12 year-old black kids should not play with toy guns. Our own community leaders will continue to turn their backs on the youth who are ready and radical enough to fight by using the weak excuse that “blacks kill blacks every day” as if whites do not kill whites also. My fear has become that those who hold the real power will not work to make impactful changes.

Writing these posts has become painful to me, for it seems that this is an issue which has no beginning or ending. I struggle to find a solution for a problem that has existed for so long. I do not think America truly wants a resolution because to destroy the image of the black man is to destroy the black family. It is not a point of pride to draw this conclusion. It is disheartening to know that the struggle of a black man in America is so serious and scary to realize that I have no answer to change it. The only power I truly hold is to pray and train my son to be a fighter, because one day he will be a black man in
America.

Magnified Levels of Greatness for 2015

In Uncategorized on December 29, 2014 at 9:22 am

IMG_2356Wow…how do I begin to talk about 2014? The first image that comes to mind is a roller coaster. No, not one of the kiddie ones you see at a local fair. I’m talking about a Texas-size Six Flags, blow-your-mind, scare-you-to-death, hold-on-tightly-for-the-ride-of-your-life roller coaster. I was up and down. Some moments passed fast and others seemed to drag on forever. Now, I find myself at the end of the roller coaster, glancing back at 2014.

I started the year with a prediction of chasing book sales across the country and speaking any and everywhere. I was putting the wheels into motion for my dream and making plans to finally be free. My first stage play had been produced. My name was moving across the state faster than my Altima could travel, and my hands were itching for a new writing project. A return to school was calling my name and financial stability was finally within my grasp. But 2014 would take a turn I could have never, ever…everevereverever predicted. My plans were paused when I learned that I was soon to be a mother. I won’t repeat a story that has been shared at least twice on my blog site. Yes, it was unexpected. Yes, it was a long and strange nine months. However, it was a nine month period that forever changed my life. It could not have happened at a better time or in a better situation. It was a necessary transition to a part of life, that had it been according to my planning or timing, may have never happened.

As I look back at 2014, I had nearly forgotten the life that existed before my son arrived. All of my accomplishments seemed so far gone; the possibility of returning to the same state of success seemed impossible. And to a certain extent, it is. 2014 has been the most serious year of transformation that will probably ever occur in my life. This year forced me into a zone that I was blessed to experience but afraid to embrace. This year pushed me to live life differently and to take control of situations that the old Jamie would have simply ignored. My life is no longer about me; it is about whom I want my son to see and who I want him to become.  I have realized that my role can no longer be taken casually. My responsibility is to live in the image of the person I would like for him to be. With this in consideration, 2014 has given me five things I will aim to engrain in my son:

  • Be true to yourself. I first heard this phrase from my junior high school art teacher and then again from my eleventh grade English teacher. Never did the clarity of such a phrase matter until this year. I had spent years aiming to please and impress others, whether it was friends, family, my boss or even strangers in an audience. What I did, thought, and spoke was often manipulated in aims to not offend or dishearten others. The struggle with aiming to please others was that I was usually displeased with self. Failing to be true to myself made me feel like a fraud. I would frequently hide my true emotions and perpetrate an image of perfection when I felt like a train wreck on the inside. I often denied myself the right to be angry and sad, telling myself that I had to keep my head up, remain focused and always be the person with the level head. My true emotions were reserved for the privacy of my bedroom at late hours of the night or when I was alone. I was living an unfair life that was unreal. When I learned that I was pregnant, the fear of hoarding stress and miscarrying loomed over my head like a storm cloud. I knew I could no longer live falsely by lying to myself in order to maintain an image of happiness and perfection for others. There were times when I deserved to be sad. It was understandable when I was angry. I had to keep it real with myself. I learned a lesson that was years late; being true to myself meant I felt less stress and others (whether they were close friends or not) respected my opinion more. Though this has been a gradual lesson in progress for several years, the changes of 2014 forced me to learn more quickly.
  • Establish boundaries. Stick to your boundaries. As an entrepreneur, I struggled for years to be solid in my demands. I would often make sacrifices that cost me more than those I was servicing. Time taught me to be more consistent in boundary setting, but motherhood taught me to be abrupt with establishing boundaries. I have always valued my word and, thus, expected others to value theirs. My expectation for others to value commitments often caused me to be lenient, thinking that leniency demonstrated my loyalty. This mistake often left me depleted of energy and full of disappointment. I quickly learned that my energy had to be reserved for the one who deserved it, my son. Establishing boundaries and sticking to them helped me focus my energy where it was needed most.
  • Fall in love with yourself. I have always believed that love and hearts are to be treated gently and handled in a serious manner. Unsuccessful attempts at relationships left me prone to avoid relationships and dating as I struggled to understand love and men. My post-pregnancy self-esteem struggled to find my pre-pregnancy attitude- which loved my age, my body and my life. Recitation of a few of my favorite pieces from my book Pennies In My Pocket helped me remember what had put me in such a state of elation at the beginning of 2014 when I was head over heels in love with…me. Falling in love with me had allowed me to be vulnerably open to loving someone else, which led to…well, you know. I learned that when I was not in love with me I felt insecure and scared of the feeling of love. Undoubtedly, I felt nervous when I finally opened myself up, but I also felt ready. The most important thing an individual can do is focus on being a better self for self; everything else will fall into place at the right time.  Falling in love with me helped me embrace my imperfections as part of my authenticity that is to be treasured by Mr. Right.
  • Live in the moment.  If I could count the number of times I tried and failed to predict my future I’d be a millionaire. After spending years trying to always have the perfect plan and perfect execution, I finally learned that there is no perfect way for either. I let years pass by trying to plan for the future while failing to enjoy the moment, but when my son was born it seemed as if the world briefly came to a stop. Moments passed that I would never get back and fresh out of my womb was something my son would never be again- a newborn. I had let so many other things pass me by, but the moments with him were ones I never wanted to miss. My worries about superficial things became secondary, and my primary concern was to make sure I never missed a special moment of his life. The moments of our life together are priceless treasures that can be remembered through pictures but can never be relived.
  • Remember God is in control.  The ultimate lesson of 2014 that I hope my son will carry for a lifetime is to remember that God is in control. Never have I relied more heavily on God than this past year. I have witnessed my faith growing over the past few years, but never in the manner that it grew this year. As I struggled with medical issues early in my pregnancy, financial woes in the end, and family life, I reached a place where I finally came to peace with the idea that there is only one option: trust God.  I was a believer in Christ, regular worshipper, and dedicated woman of prayer, but as I have stated in times past, my faith in God was often tested and I came dangerously close to failing. Though it is an uncomfortable statement to make, it is a true one. However, pregnancy was a day-to-day journey where both my life and that of my unborn child were at risk. I nearly worried myself to death during the first four months of pregnancy as I agonized about eating the right foods, getting enough rest, taking care of my body and avoiding stress…I was actually stressing about avoiding stress. At last, I prayed earnestly to God and remembered the timeless biblical quote from Sister Bradford, “God is in control.” He was not just in control of my pregnancy, but He was in control of everything that seemed to out of control in my life. When I truly embraced that God was in control and that He would never leave nor forsake me, my blessings started overflow and my cup was running over. At times I still worry, but when I notice my overwhelming feelings, I breathe deeply and remind myself that God is in control.

It is not only my son that I thank God for, but the growing experience that has come through the birth of my son. As I continue to grow, I eagerly anticipate the life lessons I shall share with him. It is my hope that the path before will lead him to have the morals of an upstanding man and the dignity of one that fears and respects Christ. May I be a constant work in progress with the ambition of evolving into greatness before the eyes of my offspring. I am thankful for the changes that have begun in 2014, and I look forward to magnified levels of greatness in 2015.

 

Check out why my 2014 year was so amazing! Click the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSv1gJuCgE4

What I Will Tell My Black Son

In Uncategorized on December 4, 2014 at 2:13 am

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I will tell him of all the things he must do
To maintain in a society that insists he is not civilized
He has to keep his pants up and his temper down
Keep his grade average high but the volume of his voice low
Not because he needs to be quiet
But because a man who can hear your plan will also try
To guess the power you hold in your hand.

I will teach him about the lineage of strong black men
Who brought this country to be
And that in this America there are two versions of history.
There is the one that crooks wrote in textbooks
But one that involves him but can only be found
In the back corners of libraries and on the lips of ancestors-
Some here, some gone, some unknown.

I will tell him that society will always feel threatened by him
Because he is a black man who has the strength of ten thousand
And the courage of ten million
He must know when, where, and how to fight
And don’t ever let anybody make him believe he must back down.

I will tell him that true love has no color
But no woman will love and respect him like
The sister who is cut from his rib, has walked his struggle
And holds the world on her shoulders every day.
For it is only her who can understand the call of a black man
To be something great in a world that often denies his value.

I will teach him that he is guilty until proven innocent in America
That if he gets stopped by the cops, no matter how he feels
He must handle the situation like he is wrong to stay alive.
My son must understand that arriving in my arms at the front door
Is much more important than trying to stand his ground
Because that works in all states but only for certain people.

Most importantly, I will teach him that I am his mother
The giver of his life who will love him despite his flaws
I will wipe his tears and kiss his boo-boos
I will give him everything that was never given to me
And will spoil him but try my best not to ruin him
So he understands the value of fine things
But respects the hard work that comes from them

I will teach him that no matter how tough life gets
He must remember the strength he was given
And the courage he already possesses
But be wise in his actions
Slow with his tongue
And quick with this thoughts
Because he is a black son
His journey will be different
But different makes him unique
And uniqueness makes him chosen
To overcome difficulties
To share his lessons with others
And to change the world around him
Yes, yes, that is what I will tell my black son.

©Copyright 2014 by Motivational Inspirations

Embracing the Blessing

In Uncategorized on May 20, 2014 at 4:26 am

ImageI have not shared this story with too many people, but it’s a testimony that changed my relationship with God and the rest of my life. I cannot deny that I am a private person who finds it important to be relatable to others, and just as important to maintain privacy. Yet, I have reached a point where I feel that my failure to share my miraculous experience is a flaw in my walk as a true believer in God. The initial content of this article may make some men (even a few women) cringe, but if you are praying for a miracle, I advise you to read on.
For many years I was a sufferer of severe menstrual pain. From the time I was about eleven years old until I was fifteen, I suffered horrible abdominal pains, sweating, fevers, the chills, nausea, vomiting, headaches, severely heavy menstrual flows, the inability to move, and cycles that lasted anywhere from two weeks to over a month. I was due to miss at least two to three days of school each month; my mother would wait on the phone call, walk to pick me up from school, and then I would suffer miserably on the walk home. (Unless I had a relative who happened to be off from work that day.) I suffered pain so severe that I am sure that on some occasions, what I thought was a nap, was actually black out spells. We tried everything from heating pads to hot baths and pain pills, still nothing would help my pain. By the time I was fourteen, I was already convinced that I would probably never have children. There was no way possible I could, it seemed.
Finally, at the age of fifteen my mother told the doctor something had to be done about my situation. We explained my problem to him in detail and he gave us a basic solution that was given to most people in my situation- birth control. He said my issues were normal and that plenty of females faced the same issues that I had, but he was sure everything was okay. The doctor did not suggest any additional tests or a more extensive exam. I cringed at the thought of birth control, because for a fifteen year old girl, birth control was usually a sign of sexually active teen and I did not want my mother to think that I was having sex. It did not seem to cross her mind though; she was looking for a solution for a daughter who could not even get her first pap smear that day because her cycle had been on for two months. My doctor scheduled a follow up appointment for two weeks later, and I received my first birth control prescription. At last, I had relief. My cycles were regular and my pain had been drastically reduced. I had not felt better in years.
For the next six years, I appeared for my regular doctor’s appointment and received a renewed prescription of Desogen with the understanding that I could not miss any days of my meds. Missing a day meant another month long cycle experience would occur no matter how many pills I took to try to catch up. While I no longer suffered with menstrual issues, other problems seemed to arise. I was gaining weight and finding it increasingly difficult to lose. After intense “healthy” eating and working out, I would lose around ten pounds, but could not seem to lose the last fifteen. Though I was the healthiest eater in my house and seemingly out of all of my friends, I was still the biggest. Battles with my weight caused me deep feelings of depression. My uterus also felt heavy and my body always felt as if it was weighed down by something. I had no doubt that the birth control was the cause; still, I felt I had no options.
During my third year of college, I talked to the campus gynecologist about my issues and being conformed to birth control to regulate my cycle. However, since my pap smears always came back normal, the doctor would not order any additional tests. The following year, I decided to visit an off campus doctor who said, like the others, that my experiences affected many women. My pap was normal. No additional tests were ordered.
In spring of 2006, I decided I would have to make some changes. My weight had ballooned. The birth control pills seemed to help the cramps less and less, even though they were still keeping my cycle regular. Still, my body was miserable from what I felt was hormone overload. Shortly before leaving college, I decided to quit taking birth control. For the first three months everything seemed fine. My cycles were regular, I had re-established a work out regimen, and my body felt lighter. My victory would be short lived. After the third month, the heavy, overwhelming cycles I had avoided for six years returned. This time, they were more extreme. While the pain was not as serious, I lived with a non-stop menstrual cycle for four months. I was going through a bag of maxi pads and a box of tampons in about three days. I was miserable. I was sick. I honestly thought I might die.
I refused to return to the doctor. I had been disappointed by them over and over again, and I knew they would give me the same useless solution- birth control. I hated the pill, what it had done to my body, and how it made me feel. I had not figured out what to do, but I knew that time was ticking. I could barely perform my job as an assistant manager in a clothing store; I was dizzy and sick every day, and I was losing weight at a rapid speed. I knew I was running out of time and options, but as I look back, I think that even my ability to function correctly and make sound decisions had been affected by my loss of blood. I was delirious. No one knew what I was going through because I had chosen not to tell them.
One day, I was sent to a three day training session at a store in La Place. The hour long trip took me hours as I struggled to focus on the drive there. Upon arrival, I met three women who worked in the store and a lady who seemed to be somewhat out of place in this store. Though I spent time talking to her, even rode in the car to lunch with her one day, I have not been able to recall her name since our final moment of contact. She reminded me of my mother and my stepmother; she was a strong Christian who was a little quiet, and she had worked in the Wal-Mart photo center before she came to her new job.
On my second day at my training site, I was having a rougher day than usual. I was even more light headed and nauseous than I had been before. I struggled to keep up with the demand of hanging clothes, re-arranging shelves, and breaking down boxes. I was moving in slow motion and the room was spinning out of control. I felt the room falling and I heard the shelves falling down, too. When I opened my eyes, two women were standing over me shouting that they thought I had the flu. They told me I needed to go home immediately. I had no strength to argue. After managing to drag myself from the floor, I went to the back of the store where I sat down at a desk in the corner. With my head in my arms, I prayed to God for strength to make the drive back to Baton Rouge. As tears slid down my face, I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was the Christian woman. I could hardly look at her, but I heard her words so clearly. “You have been sick for a long time, but today you will be healed,” she said. Unfamiliar with her religious practices or what exactly she might say, I was hesitant. Yet, I was so tired and sick and desperate, I needed anything anybody could offer to help me.
She told me to stand up. She lifted my hands and placed one hand on my stomach and the other on my lower back. I automatically closed my eyes. As she began praying, tears rolled down my faced. I cannot remember what she said; I can only remember feeling a sensation going throughout my body and the rise of energy that I had not felt in months. By the time she finished praying, I knew something was different already. She told me to go to the drink machine to buy a bottle of water. I was to drink it; water is a cleansing agent. It restores and renews. I obeyed. As I drank the water, I felt each swallow as it flowed through my veins; and only moments later, I had to go to the restroom. By the time I went to the restroom, my four month long menstrual cycle had already started to dry up. By the time I made it to Baton Rouge, my cycle had completely gone away. I was in disbelief. I spent the next week trying to call and thank the woman for the miracle she had performed. I could never reach her.
This life changing experience was eight years ago. And while I never had a problem with my monthly visitor again, I still was unsure of whether I could have children. I had no idea when I would start a family, but I always hoped that the chance to have a few little ones around would be in my future. I was even willing to adopt children. However, my doubts and worries were laid to rest in February of this year when a home pregnancy test revealed that I could, in fact, conceive a child. A mixture of emotions ran through my mind as I considered the circumstances of my situation; I am not married. I was not planning to start a family. I was not sure how my companion felt about a baby. I was completely unprepared. Yet, I could not deny an even stronger emotion…I could not believe that I could have a baby.
After finally getting over shock, disappointment, and fear, I have embraced the blessing that is a baby growing inside of my belly. Each morning I anticipate feeling the balled up knot stretching out in my stomach. I try to keep busy so that the next months will not seem so long, because I cannot wait to meet my baby. I try to follow all doctors’ instructions and I pray each day for the health of both of us. I cannot deny it, I am actually excited. When I find myself feeling overwhelmed and worried I think back to years ago when it seemed hardly possible that I could ever have a child. I remember that I am favored, I am forgiven, I am blessed.

Molding Our Little Gifts

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2013 at 9:05 pm

When I was in about the sixth grade, my mother came to parent night to pick up my report card. There was a list of complimentary remarks for each class period, but in addition to that there were at least three teachers who also wrote “student is quite talkative in class.” I cringed at the sight of these words for I knew it meant big trouble for me. I watched my mother’s facial expression change when she saw the comments, and I knew she was not happy with the remarks. Yet, she made no comment about them.

As we went from class to class, I noticed that my mother’s temperament did not seemed the same as I had seen it on other occasions when my teachers complained about my little chatterbox habits. I tried to drift to a different area of the classroom while my mother talked to my teachers, but eventually I decided to hang around and listen to the conversation between my mother and my teacher. Each teacher started off with a list of positive things (as good teachers do), and then one would usually say, “We only have one small problem-she can be a bit talkative in class.” My mother sighed (she was probably praying for the Lord to help her deal with a motor mouth), apologized to my teacher and then asked a few questions: Was I disrespectful? Was I failing to complete work? Was I misbehaving? To these questions my teachers would respond that I was never disrespectful, I finished my work on time and I didn’t misbehave; for several of them I was actually one of  their favorite students. I just talked…about anything, including the lesson and my class work. (Yes, I am a nerd.) With the most important questions out of the way, my mother apologized and explained to my teachers that she had a little talk-a-holic on her hands. She had spent years trying to gain control of my talking habit; I had been threatened and punished, but it just didn’t seem to work. I just loved to talk, as a matter of a fact; I even talked in my sleep on a regular basis. The admission of my problem made me feel a little embarrassed; I had never seen my mother render herself powerless over any situation. I was fearful, for to see my mother avoid a threat on my life and apologize to my teachers on my behalf only increased my worry of what repercussions were to come.

I nervously anticipated the ride home as I tried to figure out why she was so calm. I was surprised though, when my mother handled my issue in a very basic way. She told me she realized that I was talkative and that none of her methods had worked; she wasn’t going that route this time. She was proud of my grades and my teachers had good things to say about me, and that mattered most. Whew, I thought I was off the hook. She concluded the discussion by reminding me that it was okay to like to talk but it was not okay to talk during class, especially when teacher asked me not to do it. My mother agreed to let me have a “freebie,” but if I had the same problem during the next six weeks I would be in bi g trouble, and honey, I knew she meant it! Between the guilt and fear I felt and a lot of hard work and struggle, I managed to learn how to save my talking for outside of the classroom.

This situation returned to mind as I held a conversation with a few parents about schoolwork over the weekend.  So many parents today are much different than what parents were like even fifteen years ago. While it is true that children should be allowed to be creative and free-spirited, it’s also true that they must be molded and taught the importance of responsibility and obedience. Just because they don’t enjoy certain things and quite often, neither do the parents, does not mean that children should not be held accountable for responsibilities and rules. While my mother knew talking was a sort of hobby for me and I hated that I had to be quiet, I had to learn how to become an orderly and obedient student so that I could become a functional member of a society that does not issue sympathy based on background experiences and or my mama taught me.

My passion for talking never left, as a matter of a fact; it became a basis for my passion as a writer and speaker. However, I had to learn that my gift had to be molded and used appropriately so that I could be the best person I could be and my gift would lead to long term success. In addition, learning how to put my gift to proper use helped me establish my own guidelines to perfect my passion. While I enjoy talking and speaking, there are some things that I highly oblige as a professional:

  1. I don’t like for people to talk while one is taking or presenting.
  2. I don’t like enjoy gossip or talking about matters that will not help or correct a situation.
  3. I listen closely for the quality of a presentation and substance of any type of public presentation.
  4. I think effective communication is essential regardless of one’s profession.

These preferences are largely a result of learning to understand the boundaries of my own gift and the etiquette of proper behavior. Had my mother not emphasized the importance of self-disciple and respect regardless of my personal preferences, my gift would be loud, unethical, non-impactful, and useless.

I find myself worried about the current generation for we live in the era of parents as friends and the mentality that we should only do what we want to do. If the child disagrees, the parent disagrees. If the child is upset, the parent is upset. While it is important to have a good relationship with one’s children, it is most important to remember that children must be trained to be self-sufficient and functional when parents are gone. There is a saying which I heard for many years as a child, “You can do what you want to when you are grown.” However, I beg to differ. As a matter of a fact, adulthood is when we follow more rules and guidelines than ever. One’s ability to function in society and follow the rules is contingent upon how one is reared during the most important time of life- childhood. Failure to teach children to do give their best, even when it’s something they prefer not to do, can only set them up for failure and mediocrity or something less.

One of the women of my conversation told me that when I have children I will change. I pray that such is not that the case. I was taught that I had to push outside of my comfort zone in order to attain excellence, I hope that is the same timeless lesson that I teach my children; for they deserve the best I can give them, too. Sometimes the best one can give is filled with smiles and hugs and happy faces, it’s filled with pushing, pulling, and molding your child so they can make the most of their gift.

Cooking- It’s So Much More Than That!

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm

It has become a bragging right for many women to proclaim that they do not cook—not for their families or themselves. They can deliver the number of every local restaurant by heart and the names of employees can be recited like the United States Pledge of Allegiance. Cooking is often declared an archaic practice that ties the modern woman to the historic role of domesticator. In many cases, there lies the proclamation that the “independent” woman lacks time to stand over a hot stove slaving for hours with little appreciation from her family. The appreciation of her family is not enough to satisfy the needs of this woman.  Her preference, instead, is to labor over professional documents subject to be scrutinized by those who issue a severance package of mild satisfaction in comparison to the level of dedication put forth. Society, as a result, has attempted to accommodate the rise of the transition by modifying the modern companion’s and family’s need from their significant other. However, in the end, lack of time being spent together is one of the biggest reasons marriages collapse today. Yet, individuals, both male and female, have failed to see the importance of such a simple yet historic task-cooking.! There has become a generalized assumption that meal preparation by women is not important, however, one’s willingness to cook or learn to prepare a meal is a reflection of servitude and humility- two of the most important traits for a functional relationship. Thus, it is not the art of cooking or the even the quality of a home cooked meal that is important, but the components associated with the act that demonstrate very important character traits of a woman.

While it is most important that the goals and achievements of women be respected, individuals, particularly women, must not lose sight of our responsibilities to care for those who we love the most. Meal preparation is not a sign that we are insubordinate or subservient. However, it is a demonstration that we understand the value of personal and intimate time with family and companion. It demonstrates our willingness to put the needs of our families before our own. Since biblical days women have always been the care taker for the family, providing emotionally stability and caring for the needs of the family. While many women often had other jobs (yes, even in the bible), they still saw of the importance of unifying the family by dining together.  

 Cooking is not a task made to effeminate or dominate the modern woman; it is a practice that exemplifies humility and kindness. Unfortunately, these two character traits have become rare. There is a strong belief that each man much feign for himself-including within the household. Quite often children are subject to fast food or creating their own masterpieces when they are old enough to see above the countertop. Male companions are often given the same requirement. As a result, lack of humility and kindness has caused society to become desensitized to the needs of others; the beginning of such traits often occurs at home. In addition, lack of family time during moments such as this has created turbulent relationships with children and spouses. 

The attempt of women has been to defy the role set aside for them by going against every societal norm. However, the true demonstration of the role evolution of women is one where women respect the roles of each other and maintain their loyalty to their families despite the demands of a career. While it may seem like a heavy load, there are many ways that women can modify their lifestyles to accommodate their careers and fit the needs of their family. Sharing the cooking task with the husband and children lightens the load. Perhaps, certain nights of the week can be set aside as mandatory family dinner nights. For the woman who is simply not an expert in the area of cooking, she can still practice meal preparation. (I have cousin who is a genius a preparing rotel, tacos, and homemade pizzas! This is a big accomplishment for a woman who couldn’t boil an egg at one time.) Even the preparation of hamburger helper with a side of green salad and whole wheat rolls is refreshing to children and a husband after a long day.

It is great that women have transcended from the roles of cooks and house cleaners to CEOs and doctors; yet, it cannot be denied that strong women are still the glue which holds families together. It is unfortunate that many women have become so haughty that the unwillingness to submit oneself to preparing a meal for those who love them has become a badge of honor. As a matter of a fact, this lack of submission has become common coffee talk between sisters.  This stigma should not be a bragging right, but rather, a point of concern and an area of growth for relationships between women and their companions and children. A commercialized society has convinced everyone that self-concern is part of a functional world; however, women can re-establish the balance of society by remembering the importance of one simple task that will generate important conversation and show most important people that they are loved- cooking!

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