Home Again

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit my hometown of San Francisco, California for a very good reason, two of my best friends got married!  It has actually been a long time since I’ve been able to visit California. The last time I was out there my mother passed away. After returning to Florida, visiting Cali was no longer the same.  So, I decided to take a break.  Turns out, four years have passed.

When I was younger, I met my best friend Laila at a church my family attended. At the time Laila and I were around eight or nine years old. Through the years life has changed for us both but the bond between us never has.

Not long after I met Laila, I met her neighbor across the street named Ken. The three of us would run up and down the neighborhood without a care in the world. Between Laila’s house and Ken’s house we ate until our little hearts were content and played like there was no tomorrow.

When I moved to Florida, I tried to get back to California as often as I could. When I was able to visit I always stay at Laila’s house. She wouldn’t have it any other way. Laila continued to live in the house we grew up in and Ken still lived in the neighborhood too. On my visits, the three of us would always get together and hang out like old times eating way too much pizza, salami, and Cool Ranch Doritos.  In the past few years, understanding my struggle with visiting California, my two best friends decided to come visit me in Florida.

Even when we were kids I knew there was an undeniable chemistry between Laila and Ken. This weekend I got to witness that chemistry in full bloom as they said their vows and pledged a lifetime of love to each other.  It was an amazing time and I am so glad I was able to be there for them.

I am already planning my next trip to California.  I am looking forward to growing old with these two.

 

Friends for life…:)

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It’s My Birthday

Recently, I was watching James Corden interview Mr. Billy Porter. I love both of these men and watching their friendship and banter always puts a smile on my face. In the interview James wished Billy a Happy Birthday and asked how he felt about his birthday. Billy’s reply was absolutely perfect! Billy stated that he was a member of the 50’s club and that it is true what his friends had been telling him for years, ‘when you turn 50, you no longer give two flips (Billy didn’t say flips so feel free to  insert any word you think fits) about what people think or say about you.

Reflecting on my life today as I turn forty-six years old, I think Billy’s words are beginning to take root in me.  I am growing in ways I could have only dreamed of years ago.  Spiritually, mentally and physically, life is being good to me.  I am learning that people’s thoughts and opinions of me are none of my business.  It allows me to simply be myself and live my best life on my terms.  I am not hindered by someone else’s dark cloud.  That in itself is an amazing feeling.

Sometimes when you see people living life the way you’ve hoped, wished and dreamed you would, you forget that behind the scenes, they’ve worked hard too.  All we see is the end results, we don’t see all that was done leading up to them being successful.  What I’ve learned most recently is that time is the answer.  The way I see it, no one wakes up successful and living their dreams.  It takes hard work, time and diligence.  I am coming to understand that now.  Everyone’s obstacles and challenges are not the same.  We all start at different places in our lives.  The key is to not quit.  Yes, days, months and years may go by and it will seem as if nothing is happening.  But, if you keep pushing, attacking your goal a little at a time everyday, success will happen for you too.

I had a conversation with our oldest son not too long ago and he was very much feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with some challenges he was facing.  I asked him a question a wise person once asked me.  “How do you eat an elephant?”  Of course, his reply was, “huh?”  When I said, “you eat an elephant one bite at a time.”  His reply was, “oh, now that makes sense.”  At that point we were able to talk about what he needed to do and how he could organize those things into smaller, ‘bite sized pieces’.  While all of the things needed to get done, they didn’t all have to get done at the same time.

Talking to my kids is always a great reminder to me of all the wisdom I’ve come to know and understand.  I can now pass these nuggets on to them and while I am encouraging them, I am encouraging myself as well.  So, as I am celebrate my birthday today, I am thinking of all I am blessed with, all that God has blessed me to give to others and all that I still have to look forward to.

 

May God continue to bless all of you…:)

Excitement Not Contained

At this very moment, I am sitting in a dental office with our sixteen year old twins.  It is just after 9 am and I have been up since about 5:15 am getting our three-year old grandson ready for his day at school.  From here, I am heading to work where I have a full schedule for which I am grateful to have an intern to cover much of my instruction, and a meeting right after dismissal.  After that, I’m making a stop at the mall to pick up race packets for my friend and myself so that we can participate in a 5K on Saturday, picking up the grandbaby and then straight home to pack up for our son’s football game that is an hour away.

As I am typing this post, I am going back and forth into the treatment area to speak with the dentist about what’s happen with my kids’ dental health.  Of course, these trips are doubled since I have twins back there!  And then there are the text messages between their Dad and me as I do my best to keep him up to date on what’s happening here.

A few nights ago, I sat talking with the twins about my upcoming book signing event.  Our son asked, “when did you have time to write a book?”  I had to laugh and the only thing I could say is, “while you guys are sleeping, I’m up working.”  For the most part this is true.  I do work a lot at night after everyone has gone to bed but I also use moments like this one, where I am forced to be sitting and waiting.  Any moment of still and quiet I can get, I try to take advantage of it.

Using my time wisely is a top priority.  Working two jobs, raising our last two kids plus now our grandson and maintaining a positive, respectful relationship with my life partner takes up much of my time.  My goal is to never short change myself, my work or my family relationships so managing time is important.

With that being said, accomplishing my goal of becoming an author has been so rewarding because it took a while to get here.  I am proud of myself for not giving up when times got hard and it looked like this goal wouldn’t happen.  Yesterday, my publisher/agent called to let me know that my books had been delivered.  I had planned to go home after work to take a short nap so that I’d have a bit more energy prior to picking up my grandson from preschool but when she called I headed straight to her office after work.

Opening that box and seeing my books, I could not contain my excitement.  Wow!  I was actually holding in my hands what I’d been carrying around in my heart and mind for over twenty years.  With the many detours, challenges and unexpected events that have happened in my life it has truly taken me by surprise that I can finally cross this item off my goal list.  The crazy thing is that while I’d always hoped this would happen, this is not the goal I had been putting most of my energy into over the past two year.  I had been working on starting my own business and somehow, in that, the opportunity to publish my book came to light.  Funny how God works.

Over the next few days, weeks and months I will be promoting my book and planning my book launch event.  I am planning to enjoy this ride!  As I sit here think again about my son’s question, I am reminded of how one eats an elephant…one bite (moment) at a time.

 

Dreaming big dreams…

 

Unexpected Change

Well, my life has not been what many people would call normal.  For much of my adult life I was raised in a two parent household.  Both my parents worked, made a good living and provided well for my siblings and I.  We didn’t want for much and we had every thing we needed.  I grew up in a quiet area just outside San Francisco.  We were surrounded by family.  I can remember sharing many birthdays, holidays and get togethers with my family.  There was always food, plenty of deserts, music, card games, domino games and wall to wall people.  My cousins and I ran in and around the house until our little hearts were content or until one of the adults yelled at us to sit our behinds down somewhere.  Yep, growing up with my family had been lots of fun.  Much of that changed when my parents decided to divorce.  My mom would still take us to visit family but It wasn’t the same.

While we were still teenagers ourselves, my sister and I moved into our own apartment.  Crazy to think about it now that we were actually able to do that and Child Protective Services didn’t come along and snatch us up.  So to say that I grew up fast after my parents’ divorce is an understatement.  Even living on our own, I still went to school everyday and graduated with my high school diploma.  I was determined to go to college even though I had no clue how to go about doing that at the time. Eventually, I enrolled at San Francisco State University and was on my way to a degree in business.

After about a year, I became pregnant with my son.  Although graduating from college was an important goal for me, raising my son was my top priority.  Throughout the years, I’ve worked many jobs, started and stopped school more times than I can count, and lived in more apartments than anyone I know.  Eventually, I made it through college, found a stable job and watched my boy graduate from high school as well.  I had done my job as a mom, achieved some of my own dreams along the way and was all set to have a pretty easy going life.  After all,  one of the upsides to having a kid so young was that I was still pretty young after he was grown and gone.

As always, life has a funny way of changing your plans!  However, I truly can’t be upset about this unexpected change because I get to be a part of my grandson’s life in such a special way.  Now, I never pictured myself as a grandparent that would be raising a grandchild but here I am.  While my son and his son’s mother try to work and get their young lives sorted out, they asked if I could help by taking care of my grandson.  Truth be told, my first thought was to say, “absolutely not!”  But then I remembered all of the times my parents, sister and brother-in-law helped me out when I was raising my son.  It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child and my boy needed his village.

So…here I am, being the village and grateful that God has blessed me to be in a position to be able to help, and to be able to have this time with my grandson.  While, it might seem like fun, I have no idea how someone in their late thirties to mid-forties or later could have children.  This has been a major adjustment for me.  I don’t think I knew what tired was until I had a full time three-year-old in my house.  Things that used to take me five minutes to do now take an extra thirty minutes!  I had forgotten how much energy it takes to raise a child.  I am, however, grateful that I don’t have to do this as a single grandparent and that my love is here to help out as well.  As I sit here writing this at 11:46pm, my love is asleep on the couch.  I am wide awake because he took over grandparent duty this afternoon so that I could take a nap.  What was supposed to be an hour-long cat nap, became a two and a half hour sleep session because “you looked exhausted, babe”, he said.

Finding our new normal…:)

Becoming Unstuck

Reading an article today that was poised to encourage women. the writer stated that she feels that if more women weren’t crippled by fear  but had the courage and audacity to pursue their dreams or believed in themselves they could change the world.  While the writer made some great points about women being passionate and driven beings who could accomplish anything they put their minds to, that initial line about courage, audacity and fear made me pause.

I volunteer with a service organization in my community, Soroptimist International of Tampa, that focuses on improving the lives of women and girls.  During the ten or so years I have been apart of this organization I have met and spent time with many women and girls.  These women and girls have come from all walks of life and socio-economic status.  I have learned and grown so much by simply being in their presence.  I am grateful for the opportunity because it opens my eyes and my thoughts to life outside my own experiences.

I have learned and personally believe that women are fearless beings.  Women are intelligent, driven, courageous, passionate and best of all, loving.  All of these things are what makes us great thinkers, business owners, contributors to our communities, mothers, wives, partners and friends.  Women have to endure, change, grow and overcome.  We are strong and resilient.

In response to that article, I would like to respectfully disagree.  I do not believe that women give up on their dreams out of fear or lack of courage.  In my experience, and I think it happens for many women, circumstances and situations change our dreams but I don’t believe we lose or give up on them.  As life happens, many of our dreams take on a different trajectory.  Over time and through experience we find that one thing that has meaning to us.  Often that may not happen until our children are out of the house, we’ve finally completed that degree, or overcome a hardship.  We come into the plan God has for our lives at the moment we are supposed to.

We have the courage and the audacity.  Often what we lack to reach our dreams is resources, guidance or financial means.  All of those things take time.  As long as we are chipping away at it every day, asking the questions and gaining the experience, our dreams will begin to take shape and become a reality.  I want to take this opportunity to tell any woman who is fighting for her dreams, “I know it may be hard and sometimes it seems as if the challenges never stop coming but I believe in you!  You can and you will.  You were made to win!”

Just a thought…:)

 

Summer of Me Tour

Well, this summer I had nothing but time on my hands.  After about a week of resting and being lazy, I thought it best that I start on some of the many things I’d planned to get done this summer.  I cleaned out closets, scrubbed floors and shower walls, and organized my never ending pile of paperwork.  I even started on the garage.  The operative word in that sentence is ‘started’, because finishing is a completely different word!

Then the fun really started!  I had plans to, at some point in the summer, meet my new grandson and spend some time with my older one.  Somehow, this little trip turned into a mini excursion as I thought about all the friends I’d love to see and spend time with.  I have met and built so many positive friendships throughout the years.  Many continue to live in states where I’ve lived and some have moved.  I miss my friends.  I miss hanging out with them and so I thought, why not?  Since I’d decided that I would drive to North Carolina, I figured it would be just as easy to drive to Atlanta and South Carolina as well.  Mapping out my trip, I began to get excited.  Could I really do this?  Of course, I could!

Leaving my home on June 24th, I stopped in Atlanta, Georgia.  My friend, Lissahn lives there.  She and met about twenty years ago when both of our boys were in Kindergarten.  She is an amazing, fun, and loving person.  I truly enjoy her friendship.  Also while in Atlanta, I had lunch and dinner with my friends Renee and JD.  While we do stay in touch, I honestly can’t remember the last time I’d seen them so it was a great opportunity for us to catch up.

From Atlanta, I headed over to North Carolina.  I knew this stop was going to be a challenge for me.  I miss having my son close to home.  I am definitely grateful that he is not more than five hundred miles away but it would sure be nice to have him and my grandsons here in the Tampa area.  The bulk of my trip was spent with them.  I spent eleven days watching my three year old grandson run through parks, chase butterflies and explore waterfalls.  He is definitely a child that requires outdoor play everyday.  Meeting my one month old grandson for the first time was a true blessing.  I had to tell myself often to lay him down.  Leaving North Carolina was very hard.  I would have loved to have packed them all in the car and brought them home with me.

In North Carolina, I had also planned to see my niece and my friends, Katie and Simone.  Unfortunately, scheduling didn’t permit.  Katie and Simone are friends I met in Atlanta.  Shortly after I moved to Florida, they moved to North Carolina.  The three of us spent a lot of time together and we ate a lot of pizza, which is Simone’s favorite.  My hope and prayer is that I can plan a weekend trip soon just to see them.

My next and final stop was in Beaufort, South Carolina to see my friend and mentor, Denise.  This lady, I met here in Tampa.  After a few moves with her job, she retired and settled back in her hometown.  She and I keep in touch quite often.  Once roommates, we learned that we are similar in so many ways which makes hanging out and finding things to do that interest us both very easy.  In South Carolina, we fed my soul with history tours about West African slaves and their journey to freedom in the Beaufort and Hilton Head areas.  Hours upon hours of conversation brought me back to myself and gave me the clarity I needed to focus on my goals and dreams.

As of today, I have been back home for four days.  I missed my family but I also realize how important it is for me to take time for myself, to do things I enjoy and to be pushed out of my comfort zone.  It is true what they say, you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first.

Grateful for my journey…:)

Lazy Days

The month of May for an educator is one of the longest months of the school year.  Students are antsy for summer and teachers are longing for a break.  I’m not sure about my colleagues but I make a lot of plans for my summer break.  There are so many things I don’t have time for during the school year like doctor’s appointments, reading, spending time with family and friends or simply relaxing.  The one major thing I wanted to tackle this summer is the garage.  Somehow or another things in there just keep growing.  I organize and I organize but somehow…

To be perfectly honest, in my first four days off, I have done absolutely nothing.  I tried, I really tried to motivate myself to make it happen, to be productive however, outside of a couple of morning walks and reading a few pages, nothing!  I have spent more time on the couch and in my bed than is natural.  On about the second or third day I really started feeling guilty.  It’s not in me to simply sit, at least not this much. I felt as if I should be ashamed for being so lazy.

While I was wallowing on the forth day, trying to convince myself that 10:30 am was most certainly a good consideration for “sleeping in”, my love so gently laid down next to me and reminded me of how hard I work during the school year.  For twenty minutes or so, he told me stories of times I stayed late at school, worked on the weekends, volunteered with my non-profit and taxied our own children from here to Kingdom Come.  I deserved the break, rest as long as you like, he said.

And just like that, I was feeling better about my unproductive, non-active self because you know what, I do deserve it.  Teaching is not easy.  It is a thankless, sacrificial, hard profession.  I love my students as if they were my own.  There is no way I can step into my classroom each day and not give 100% to those kids.  I care about them, their education and helping to instill in them principles that will lead them to their vision of success.  So yeah, the past five days have pretty much been a bust, however, I still have 56 days to go on my break and a lot can happen, including finally getting around to the garage!

Summer Break 2019…:)