Make Your Bed

The Twin Tornadoes

Currently, I have three children in my home.  My twins who are sixteen and my grandson who is four.  Since my twins are older and soon to be out of the house, what I try to instill in them most right now is self-discipline.  As I listen to them talk about their goals and dreams for the future, I think about all of the challenges they will face simply making an attempt to reach those goals and dreams.  When those challenges come, without self-discipline, they may quit before they even get started good.

During one of our conversations about their future, I again brought up developing self-discipline.  As I was explaining that self-discipline was going to be an important aspect of being successful later on in life, my son, the funny one, said, “I’m good.  I know how to control myself.”  My boy, he’s got ears but they do not listen.

So I challenged him and his sister with a simple task…make your bed every day, without fail, for thirty days.  My son pipes up again, “that’s easy.  I can do that!”  “Great!” I replied and went on to explain that self-discipline is the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses and, most importantly for me, the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.

Making their beds is the one thing I have to constantly get on to them about.  Growing up, my mom would always say, “if you can’t do something as simple as make your bed everyday, how can you expect to be successful at the larger things in life?”  Of course, I had no idea what that meant at the time.  Like my kids, I thought it was just a trick to get me to clean my room.  Here I am some thirty years later, still making my bed every morning.  For me, my day isn’t going to go well if I don’t make my bed.  If I could discipline myself to do something as simple as make my bed every day, then I could meet and overcome other challenges I faced, those that I cared deeply about and those I could careless about.  However, no matter the challenge, a little self-discipline would help me along the way.

How did the challenge go, you ask?  Well, I posed the challenge to them about three months ago and my daughter was able to hang in there a bit longer than my son.  Upon coming home from school everyday, she said she liked coming into a clean room.  It made her feel better after a long day.  She still puts forth an effort to keep her space cleaner and make her bed daily.  There are days when she is running late and doesn’t do it but overall it is much better than it was before the challenge.  Now, my son on the other hand, well he got frustrated with the whole thing about a week in.  He said he really didn’t understand how making his bed would help him be successful later on in life.  He went on to explain that he was going to play in the NFL and rich people had people to make their beds for them.

My boy had a point.  Maybe people with money had people to make their beds for them.  My advice to him was something else my mother used to say, “don’t let nobody else do for you what you can do for yourself.  Train yourself and receive your own rewards.”  I explained to him what I have always gathered from this little statement is that I should be building myself up in all areas of my life and not waiting on some else to do it for me.

As always, my hope is that my words and actions will lead and guide my kids.  As grandma used to say, “you can lead a horse to the water but you can’t make him drink.”

One more for the road…

 Psalm 19:14 ~ May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. 🙂

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…:)

My Why

So…one of the things I absolutely love to do is listen to positive, uplifting messages. I heard it said by Les Brown that when you are working toward being successful and living your best life, you must know your why.  What are you working toward?  What makes you want to get up in the morning and strive for your goals? Why are you doing what your are doing?

This past week I had the great fortune of spending six blessed and exciting days in North Carolina with my son and three year old grandson.  Each day was an adventure.  We visited local parks, chased waterfalls, hiked, had lunch at Lake Lure where Dirty Dancing was filmed and spent hours exploring small towns.  For me, of course, the days went by too fast and my time spent with them was too short.  However, to say that I am grateful for my vacation is the understatement of the year.

 

My boys are amazing!  My son is still the best kid I know.  He’s always been kind and loving.  Such a tender-hearted young man.  My grandson, well he is much like his father at that age.  I don’t think I’ve seen that kid walk.  He loves to run and explore. His favorite place to go is the park because he already understands that at the park he can run himself until he can no longer feel his legs.

I don’t think there is anything I wouldn’t do to help either of those boys to succeed in life.  My hope is that I was able to give my son the best parts of me so that he is able to give that and more to my grandson.  They give me life.  They give me air.  They help me to remember what’s important in life.  They are my “why”.  Anything that I will ever accomplish in life will be because of them, the future I wish to give them and the legacy I wish to leave them.  Because of them I will never stop driving, I will never stop pushing and I will never give up.

 

Living my best life…:)

 

 

 

 

Being Mimi

When Saleem was about four or five years old I can remember, people always asking, “do you want any more kids” or “when are you having another one?”  My response was always the same, “if God wants me to have some, he better send me a man with some because I’m not having anymore!”  It was a joke to me until Saleem was about ten or eleven and I decided that I really wanted to have another child.  Around that time I’d met my love.  Although he already had five, we thought we’d try for one more or maybe two since he was a twin and twins were known to run in his family.  Either way, we would be happy with what ever God decided to bless us with.

Unfortunately, we were not prepared for the news we’d receive a few months later.  Turns out, I had uterine fibroids and my doctors doubted that I’d ever be able to have another child.  Under my doctors’ care, I decided to put off having surgery in order to try to get pregnant one more time.  After about eight months, I had not gotten pregnant but my fibroids had grown so large they were pressing on other vital organs.  My doctor was afraid my kidneys would be dangerously affected.  When tests revealed just how much damage my fibroids were doing to my body, my doctor gave me two weeks to get things in order so that he could perform my hysterectomy.

The day I left my doctor’s office was one of the saddest days.  Not only was I faced with not being able to have another child but I struggled with having to have such a major surgery at thirty-two years old.  Needless to say, the days leading up to the surgery were some of the most difficult.  I didn’t want my parents or Saleem to worry about me so I put on a brave face, said the most positive things when anyone asked how I was doing and tried not to cry.

The surgery went well.  I recovered with good friends, family and my love taking care of me.  I returned to work and life moved on.  At the time, only three of my love’s children lived in the area and we were able to see them regularly.  So between his three and Saleem, we were often pretty busy having family movie nights, vacationing in some small town in Florida none of us had ever heard of and hanging out with the kids at one of their extracurricular events.

Time seems to have flown by.  The picture above is of me and who I refer to as “The Last of the Mohicans.”  These are my love’s youngest two…the twins and the last two at home.  They were three years old when their dad and I met.  I was blessed to be Saleem’s mom and to be apart of his everyday life and upbringing.  Even though God decided that having another child was not in the cards for me, I have been truly blessed to be Mimi to my love’s kids, especially these two.  I have been blessed to share in many firsts with the twins…their first day of kindergarten, their first day of middle school, their first day learning to drive, their first “unofficial” date and today, their first day at their first job.  In a few years, we will be dropping them off at their first day of college.

Prior to gaining full custody of the twins and their older sister almost four years ago, my love and I were weekend parents along with giving as much support during the week as needed.  Granted our lives have changed quite a bit now that the kids are with us full time and I must admit, I was not at all prepared as Saleem was out on his own by then.  I was enjoying being a semi-empty nester.  I understand now that even though all those years ago I joked about God sending me a man with kids, He has actually answered my prayers.  I am so grateful to have had this time with them.

 

Be careful what you ask for…:)

The Lives of Boys

If you know me, then you know I love to read. The more I read, the more I learn and the more I grow. Learning and growing are two of my favorite things to do. I think it is just a waste to be on this earth, living this life and never growing.  There is so much freedom in this life especially, in this country.  We shouldn’t waste it.

Somehow, in a recent morning quiet time I began reading the book of Revelation.  Not sure how that came to be but I learned quite a bit.  Growing up, my grandmother would always tell us how life simply repeated itself because people don’t learn from their mistakes or from the situations of those who came before them.  As I began reading Chapter 12 in Revelation, I was reminded of my grandmothers’ words.  Reading this chapter taught me about the strength of women and the struggle that will forever haunt young boys who, without proper guidance, will become men under attack.

From reading this particular chapter in the bible, I thought about my own life and the lives of the boys I raised.  When my love and I met, he had three boys and I had one.  So, I had the pleasure of raising four boys.  Saleem is now 25, DJ is 24, Jaylen is 21 and James is 15.  Our two oldest are out on their own, Jaylen is doing well in college and the baby, James, is still at home giving us a run for our money.  All of our boys are the sweetest, kindest human-beings I know.  After reading Revelation, I think there is one area where we may have failed them.  While we made every attempt to raise them to be respectful, thankful, grateful and to treat others as they wanted to be treated, I think we failed to teach them the undeniable power that they held within.

Yes, we took them to church, prayed with them and talked to them about developing a relationship with God, however, we didn’t tell them the story about how they’d be attacked on every side through no fault of their own.  We didn’t know to tell that that the attacks they’d face were due to the power and strength they possessed to stand as the kings they were born to be.  Our boys were born to be fighters, to stand up for what is right and to be examples of God on earth.  When we know better, we do better.  It’s never too late to turn and that is just what I intend to do.  I will work to remind my boys that they are true kings of God and within them, God has placed all they need to fight against any darkness that is meant to take them down.

 

Standing strong…:)