One Humbling Experience

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If you are like me, you are a proud woman, one that works hard for everything in life.  No one has ever given me anything, I’ve always been proud of that.  When I had my oldest daughter in 1996, her dad wanted me to stay home and take care of her.  I really didn’t want to do that for two reasons, we weren’t married yet and I don’t like not having or making my own money.   I know, we’ve discussed this before, it’s a control thing.  I was working nights at the time and I couldn’t find decent childcare for my baby.  I was living in Los Angeles and the only people I knew were my in-laws and the few friends I made.  After trying unsuccessfully to find childcare, I decided to stay at home and enjoy my baby and take care of her.    I resigned from my job and that meant giving up benefits.   My ex-husband didn’t have benefits, so he couldn’t add our baby to his insurance.  I didn’t like not having insurance for her, so he suggested that I go to the state and put her on medicaid.  I was 100% reluctant, and my mother would have jumped on a plane and came to California if she knew he suggested that or that I went to apply for the benefit for my baby.  I went to the state facility to apply for medicaid for my daughter.  Employees that work for the state or government and deal with the public can be some of the most hardened people because this woman talked to me like I was asking for her money.  She wanted to know if I owned a car, had any money in the bank, if my child’s father had a car or any money in the bank.  She told me if I was not telling the truth, my baby would be denied.  She asked me why I wasn’t working and did I want to apply for welfare.  Now remember, I was postpartum so I was sitting there about to cry, but I fought it with everything inside me.  I was not gonna let that woman get the best of me.     I left with a bunch of paperwork, and I never looked back, not for one second.  I started crying the minute I got to the car.  Once I got the baby settled in her carseat and put her stroller in the trunk, I sat in the car and thought, if I have to work 3 jobs, I will never ask for assistance from the state of California again or any state.  I had a new determination as I drove home.  I never told anyone in my family about this and I was told my ex that I wasn’t taking a handout from the state of California.  He thought I was being a little unreasonable but that was his opinion and since I wasn’t his wife yet, I had to think about me and my baby.   The next day I devised a plan to move back to the midwest, where I had family and could find someone to take care of my baby while I worked.  My ex-husband said he would go with us.  It took me a year to get back to the midwest, but I did it and was working with benefits within a month.  Assistance is available to those who truly need it, I can’t judge what’s right and needed for another person.  I know for me at the time, it was a humiliating experience and humbled me to the point where I broke down cried and knew I didn’t want to live that way.  I never looked back and kept my focus on making sure my children were provided for and had what they needed to survive.  It’s what we do as parents, we want to make sure our children are provided for.   We survived that dark time, I just remembered how it made me feel.  There will always be times when you are in a position that humbles you or requires you to reevaluate a situation.  How you handle it and your outlook is what makes the difference.  I love those girls to pieces.  

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Teach and Love With Truth

 

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I take my role as a mother very seriously as most of you do.  I want them to reach for the stars, try new things and live the best life.  I could handle their activities when they were younger, it was tight but I did it.  As they get older, that price doubles at times triples!  It’s hard telling them at times we can’t afford certain activities but I promised myself I would always tell them the truth.   I don’t go into detail but I explain to them the reason why we can’t do a certain activity.  Do they always understand, no but they are troopers and show me they can handle the truth.  

I was a very active teenager, I wasn’t in everything…let’s just say I did have my picture in the yearbook more than just the class section.  Yes, I went to high school several generations ago, but my parents had to tell me that I couldn’t participate in a certain activity.  The one that comes to mind and will always be the most vivid is missing prom in my senior year.  I went to prom in my sophomore year as an user, twice in my junior year, but I missed my senior year.  All my friends went our senior year, all of them.  They came by my house right before they went to prom and let me see them all dressed up and pretty.  My momma’s thinking was I went twice the year before, this last one wasn’t bad.  I was crushed, but I survived it.  Don’t feel bad, I was able to attend all the other senior activities and eventually got over missing the prom.  

When my mother was my age and going through menopause I didn’t understand a thing about what she was going through.  Momma was the kind of woman that kept personal stuff to herself.  She may have shared it with her friends, and I’m sure my daddy knew but I didn’t.  I was a young adult at the time.  My girls ask me when something isn’t right, they know when I’m out of whack.  I just explain that I’m tired and my youngest always ask me, why are you so tired?  I explained to my daughter that I’m at that age when things start to change and some days are better than others, which includes me being tired all the time.  I told her that all women will go through this at one point in their life.  I always try to keep it light but discuss life with them, it’s so important.

The truth also includes making sure my girls understand how to respect and understand when someone with a certain amount of wisdom speaks to them and at times has a lesson to share.  This is the stage that we are entering now, about being a young woman, what to seek in life and how to recognize the truth in people.  My momma didn’t talk much about life with me, and I understand why.  I talk about life everyday to my girls, I tell them how much I love them and how proud I am of them.  I want them to have confidence and not lack from not understanding that life happens.  That’s the best truth I can share with them.

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Never Say Never

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Those three words can change your life and way of thinking.  I’ve said it before, many times.  It’s life.  We live, learn and hopefully gain wisdom from our mistakes and life lessons.  

Two days of labor and no epidural, I swore I wasn’t having any more children.  I remember saying that, yep sure did.  I thought, how and why do women have more than one or two children?  If I close my eyes and click three times, I can feel those pains again!  Four years later I had my second and last child.  I was 38 years old and chances were pretty good I wasn’t doing that again.  

After my last divorce  I said, I’ll never marry again.   Ok I did it again and believe me when I say we are taking it one day at a time, some days good and some not so good.  I’m 51 and I’m still learning about relationships, commitment, what love really means.  

Most of the time when we say “never again” it’s after we’ve done something that we either don’t want to do again and was a major challenge.  At times we say it after failure, and if that’s the reason we should keep on pushing until something happens.  When working towards your goals and dreams don’t allow the word “never” to stop you.   Be willing to try and do things that will help you reach your goals.  

Reach out to people that are working towards the same goals or have achieved the greatness you are working towards.   Admit you need help and network, in real life and online, an awesome tool.   Google hangouts seem to be very popular these days, one way to network online.  Attend local events that you are interested in.  I try to attend when I can, mostly blogging get togethers.  A support system, belief in yourself and perseverance will help you never say never…..again.

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Romantic At Heart

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Yes, I am…I love a good love story, song, video of a couple getting married.  You name it, I like it.  I have always been that way, since I was a girl.  One of my favorite movies about love and romance is “Mahogany”.  I was about 13 when I saw Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams in that movie.   That also started my admiration of Billy Dee Williams.  I know you all are laughing, but it’s true.  She was a fashion design student that left Chicago  to pursue her modeling/designer career.  Then the photographer had this obsession with her and the whole thing became…..ummm complicated.  

My favorite quote from the film is made by Brian (Billy Dee Williams) to Tracey (Diana Ross) “Let me tell you something…success is nothing, NOTHING without someone you love to share it with.”  Remember I was 13 and thought, I want a love like that.  My head was in the clouds after I left the movie, and my thoughts and perception of love have always been romantic and in the clouds.

I wasn’t a fan romance novels though, I just believed in love and happily ever after.   Probably should have read the romance novels, huh?  I just wanted the happy ending for anyone I knew that was in love.  I was a dreamer, boy meets girl, they fall in love, get married, buy a house with a white picket fence and have 2.5 kids.

Then reality set in and I fell in love and saw how it really works.  I wanted everything to be perfect, I wanted to be the last thing he thought about at night and the first thing he thought about in the morning.  I thought about him that way.  Didn’t work that way, he was 18, this was our first time away from home and he didn’t “act” right.  I had to do some growing up and turned to my girlfriends for advice when I went home on the weekends.  A little crying, planning a blanket party and then saying forget about him is how we did it.  Do you all know what a blanket party is??

I can see a movie or video and will watch it and smile like I know they people personally.  I love when people are in love.  I love my husband, dearly, he’s not the most romantic man, but he tries…sometimes.  Bless his heart.  Enjoy this video, it’s kind of long but the video captures his love for her.  Read their story here on Black and Married With Kids.

 

 

Life, love, children, divorce and finding love again is the reality for me.   I’m still a romantic at heart….

 

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Garden of Passion ~ Labor of Love

Passion is a decision about how we approach life before it becomes a feeling ~ Joyce Meyer

When you do something that you enjoy, makes you happy and don’t mind sharing it with others, that’s an example of a labor of love or having a passion about something.   I met a gentleman last week that has about an 1/2 acre behind his home and is growing all kinds of vegetables, greens, tomatoes, peppers, bell peppers and much more.  He’s a friend of my husband, whom he met while at work.  I was very grateful and humbled that he would send plenty of vegetables home for me to cook for my family.  I went over to his house last week to meet him, very gentle and friendly man who said he does this as a “labor of love”.  This is much more than a hobby.  When I saw his garden, I was floored, I couldn’t believe what I saw.  He had purchased the land next to him and two lots behind him and has created this massive garden.  I called it a mini farm.  

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These pictures only gives you a glimpse of the garden, it’s huge.

 

Mr. Hollins uses no chemicals, so the vegetables are of regular size, the colors of the vegetables are rich and vibrant.  It took me all day between working, picking and cleaning Turnip greens, cleaning tomatoes and green peppers.  I put the greens in the freezer to cook this fall, probably for Thanksgiving and use the bell peppers and tomatoes now.  

I went back to take pictures of his garden because I wanted to write about his dedication and passion for his labor of love.  This garden is beautiful and I can imagine the neighborhood loves the aroma that comes from it.   I was invited to come back anytime I wanted some vegetables.  I will have to keep that invitation open because I will be going back.  

During my question to find my passion, I hope that I’m as dedicated and have my heart into my passion as Mr. Hollins does.  You can truly see his labor of love.  

 

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This is my new friend Lucky, I think he felt left out or is the neighborhood watch dog.  Anyway, he was so cute.

 

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Finding My Happy

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I let my happy leave me for a while, I was miserable without it.  I was walking around existing but wasn’t happy.  It’s been a long year for me.  I’m happy to say I’m turning the corner off that lost street I was traveling down.  I’m making my health and happiness a priority for me.  If I don’t take care of myself, how can I truly take care of my family like I should?

There’s a commercial for Ford where a customer is asked a question, do you take better care of yourself or your car?  Of course all of the answers were their vehicle.  I though about that for a few minutes and how we sometimes take care of everyone and everything better than ourselves.  I was very guilty of this and that’s where my breakthrough came in.  I love my family, but when I spend all my spare time taking care of everyone else, I’m too tired or caught up to take time for my own well being.  

This past year has been a challenge, but the last few months have been extremely challenging for me.  My stress level was at an all time high, I didn’t have any ambition or desire to do anything but stress.  We have a lot of things going on and  I was worrying full-time, 24-7.  It was almost like I was on auto function, I was here in the flesh, but I was truly not there.   Here I was, a woman of faith who has a relationship with God, but I wasn’t allowing him to be a presence and truly handle situations that I wasn’t capable of handling.  I was at the point that I was starting to question everything, my marriage, my decision to work from home, my relationships that I had with others.  The only thing I was attempting to do my best was being a mother, but it wasn’t enough.  I was starting to lose it.  

Somewhere in the dust and the mess, I allowed my stress and issues to overwhelm me.  I’ve cleared my head, including the way I see myself.  Holding on to a my former self has been holding me back emotionally for almost three years.  I’ve realized that earlier this year and have been trying to leave that in my past.  It was who I was at the time, single mom, gainfully employed, home owner and a God fearing woman that was very active in church activities.  I’ve been holding on to that woman because I was proud of her.  It has been a struggle with the role I have now, but I wanted this, a husband, someone else to make decisions with, grow old with like my parents did.  I wanted my husband to be the head of the house, and I still want that.  I had to finally let go of my past and look forward to my future, the girls becoming young women and pursuing their dreams, spending time with my husband, writing, making jewelry and some traveling.  

I’m still a work in progress, remember I’m smack in the middle of menopause.  I’m all over the place, but letting go of a lot of stress has helped immensely.  I’m back and have a lot of things I want to write about…my life.  I’ve already shared my struggle with my weight, and it’s a daily commitment I must make to myself.  I miss you guys and thanks for hanging in there with me and keeping me in your prayers.

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Young Love ~ First Date

I enjoy my children and watching them go from babies to the young ladies they are today.   My oldest is loving, quiet and loves music.  My youngest is inquisitive, athletic, loving and very opinionated.  This is their personalities and who God intended for them to be.  I knew the phase of boys, love and everything associated with it would happen.  Here’s my daughter’s story and her “first date”. 

My daughter reconnected with a friend of hers when we were in Kansas City last year.  She met him in elementary school and he is autistic, just like she is.  They have been planning this meeting/trip for at least a month.  My daughter was so excited, talked about it every day this week, I mean every day.  I took her to buy a friendship card for him and she picked an appropriate card with my help.  The young man, his mom and baby sister (8 months old) arrived around 11:00.  We were outside waiting because they took a wrong turn.  He introduced himself to me, gave me a firm handshake and hugged my daughter for what seemed like 2 minutes.  It was so long, his mother had to tell him they better get going.   He was quite the gentleman, opening the door to the minivan for my daughter.  The mom gave me their agenda, the Gateway Arch, Museum, lunch and then the zoo.  They were gone all day, I wondered how she was doing but I didn’t call.  I did send her a text that she didn’t answer.    I didn’t freak out, I just figured she was having fun and her phone was in her purse.  

I talked to my daughter and explained to her that if she felt uncomfortable at all to call me and I would come and get her.  I also made sure she had money to pay for her own food.  The plan was for the friend to treat her to lunch but I also told her that she could buy her own lunch and spend her money if there was a problem.  I remember my momma having this same talk with me when I started dating.  She was prepared and ready for her day with her friend.

They showed up and we were standing outside waiting because they took a wrong turn.  He jumped out and hugged her and his mom and I talked for a few minutes…you know getting info on where they were going from the mother, just to make sure everyone was on the same page.  They had plenty of water and drinks because they were gonna be outside all day.  My daughter’s friend was quite the gentleman, opening the door and helping her in the minivan.  They took off and I was happy for my daughter because she doesn’t have many friends and socializing is a challenge for her.   

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Around 5:00 they showed up and everyone looked worn out, even the poor baby.  She had been crying, she was just probably sleepy.  I watched as her friend got out of the minivan, ran and opened the door for my daughter.  It was so sweet, it really was.  She was still smiling, exhausted but happy.  The whole crew was tired.  Mom ran the day down and how my daughter did, sometimes people with Autism will have melt downs.  Seems like she got through the day but she did complain about the baby crying, she’s not used to being around babies.  I asked her to apologize, she did and felt bad.  

She took some great pictures and we talked about the day and what I asked her how she felt about the young man.  She told me they were friends and wouldn’t be able to be girlfriend/boyfriend until after she turned 18.  I’m so glad she had a good time and I can live with not having a boyfriend until after she turns 18.

 

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A Challenge of Love and Marriage

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Hey everyone, happy Monday.  Today I’m gonna share with everyone that you don’t always need to spend a lot of money to have fun.  This past Friday was my 1st wedding anniversary.  My husband took the day off so we could hang out and spend the day together.  The finances were very low because the week before it was Mother’s Day and we just didn’t have it.  We decided to take advantage of some good old fashion sight seeing.  I was excited, because I still haven’t seen everything here in St Louis and I’ve been here almost 3 years.  

I mentioned Friday at The Cafe about how we went down to Laclede’s Landing and the Gateway Arch, didn’t cost us a thing other than parking which was $1.00.  This location is downtown and we were on the Mississippi River, so we walked and enjoyed the scenery.  It was the first time in a long time there were no expectations, stress or disagreements about anything.  No distractions such as bills, jobs or other people and their problems.  I had also mentioned that we went to lunch afterward, so let me be more specific about where we ate.  It may have sounded like we went to a restaurant, when actually we went to White Castle.  I don’t eat there much and he LOVES that place.  We drove through the city, picked up our food and went home to watch a movie.  Sleep hit us both before we actually put the movie in and the girls were home from school then.

We spent a total of $14 for lunch and parking.  We laughed, talked and I remembered why I married him.  I asked a lady if she would take our picture and that’s the memory we made.  I made a promise that when things get rough to remember why we are together, and not to give up.  Money comes and goes, situations causes finances to change, but we are in this together.  

I started this 30 Day Marriage Challenge just to see if I could do everything on the list.  Actually, it’s not anything on the list that isn’t hard, but certain things that I have neglected as a wife.  I’m joining Joi at Rx Fitness Lady on her 7 day blog challenge, I may not do all 7 days, but I will participate as much as I can.  The button is on my sidebar on the right, please join us and have some fun.  Today is about solving a problem.  My problem solving topics is how to have fun on a limited budget and my 30 day marriage challenge.  Sometimes in life, it’s all about simplicity, we make things so hard.   Have fun, enjoy one another and respect your marriage and/or relationships.  Have a good day everyone!

 

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My Family and Cancer ~ A Sponsored Video

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the American Cancer Society.  All thoughts and opinions are my own but I am honored to share my story as part of the American Cancer Society’s 100th Birthday Celebration.

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My mother and sister both died of lung cancer.  My sister was went through this terrible disease first and mostly by herself.  She came to live with me in 1996 to get away from things.  I believed she knew something but didn’t share it at the time.  She told me when she asked if she could live with me that she wanted us to be closer.  We are 15 years apart, she is older.  To think that she had to endure that illness without family still haunts me to this day.  She moved out and spent the last months of her life with a man as his wife.  We found out she was extremely ill about one week before she died.  I will never forget that call at 3:00 in the morning, my momma calling me crying that I couldn’t understand what she was saying.  I knew it wasn’t good, my daddy took the phone from her and told me the news, my sister was dying.  We put a plan in action and got my parents, and her sons to California to see her and spend time with her.  The cancer had metastasized to her brain and they told my family she had days left.  She was on a respirator and wasn’t able to speak.  We couldn’t get many answers but only that she probably had the disease for about 9 months to a year.  She held on until my nephew left and she passed away when the plane took off.  She was 49, three months shy of her 50th birthday.

Momma’s battle was about the same except we were able to go through this fight with her.  Something just wasn’t right about her, she wasn’t paying bills, forgetting things she would never forget.  Then one day she fell down the basement stairs at their home and my dad called me.  We rushed her to the emergency room and the emergency room doctor came out and asked my daddy if he knew momma had lung cancer.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, my daddy and I was hit hard with that awful news.  We took her home and to the doctor and found out what our fears were, it was lung cancer and the cancer was at stage 4.  It was heart breaking, watching your mother go through the diagnosis, various treatments including chemotherapy and radiation, while watching her try to be strong.  The treatments made her so weak, I knew momma was scared.  She asked me if I thought God was gonna get her through this.  I told her of course but I was scared too.  The treatments made her weak, her hair fall out and she lost a lot of weight.  I remember having the conversation with her oncologist that it was nothing else they could do and we scheduled the meeting with hospice for momma.  My brother moved back to Kansas City to help and we learned how to take care of our mother.  Momma was diagnosed in July 2003 and died December 26, 2003.

One of the reasons I wanted to do this post was to share what my family learned from our experience.  Early detection is a key and that means going in for regular checkups, taking better care of ourselves and early detection.  The American Cancer Society will be 100 years old this year and with that milestone more lives are being saved because of their dedication and research.  They have played a role in most of the cancer research breakthrough in recent history, which means a decline in cancer deaths in our country.

I want to support the American Cancer Society reach their goals by ensuring that their research gets the funding it needs, making sure people get the help they need, access to health care, preventive screenings and improve our quality of life.

Please look at the video from Mary J Blige and share with me how cancer has affected your life.  Have a great day everyone.

This post is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

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A Mother’s Love

I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters.  It’s been an experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.  I didn’t have my first child until I was 33 years old, everyone in the family had given up on the thought of me having any children.  Up until then, I was an aunt and had been very comfortable with that position since I was 4 years old.  I was a good auntie too, especially when I got older and was able to buy good gifts and help out on an occasion.  

In 1996 I had a beautiful daughter, slanted eyes and straight black hair.  I just held her and looked at her and would whisper to her, momma’s gonna do everything she can to take care of you.  It was bittersweet, because my family wasn’t there for her birth.  A few hours after she was born they told me she had jaundice.  All I heard was jaundice and brain damage.  I lost my mind, I didn’t want to leave my baby at the hospital but I knew she needed the treatment.  I was at the hospital with her until they let me bring her home.   

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Three years later, I discover that I’m gonna have another baby.   Surprise, surprise!  I was not expecting this because we used birth control, but you know nothing is 100% unless it’s abstinence.  My mother was elated, she had told me on several occasions that she didn’t believe in having an only child.  I was 37 and felt I was a bit old to be having another child.  I had a difficult pregnancy with her, flu, pregnancy high blood pressure.  I had to have an amniocentesis and go to the doctor every 3 weeks.  It was a struggle but she looked just like her big sister when she was born in 2000, except she was my little chocolate drop.  

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Now I was a mother of two girls.  The house was full of life, toys everywhere and all the duties that come with babies and toddlers.   It’s been wonderful being their mother.  I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to love, mold and show them how to be young ladies.  We are entering the phase of teenage years for my youngest and adulthood for my oldest.  It’s gonna be hard releasing them into this world, but I know I must do it.  

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My Mother’s Day gift is to have them here with me beautiful, healthy and very much loved.  They want to buy something for me and I’m good with whatever they get.  My parents would be so proud of them, I know they are watching over their grand babies.

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