Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Parent Enthusiastically & Enrich their minds

I’m in the midst of reading Charlemagne tha God’s book “Black Privilege”. The book is interesting for numerous reasons however my focal point will be something Charlemagne shares about his mother and her encouraging him to read books specifically book that didn’t pertain to him or his life. I initially didn’t fully appreciate the reason he shared until I was having a discussion with someone about a topic that they were surprised I could share an informed opinion about. I’ve stated in previous blog entries that I embrace opportunities to learn something new and how much I relish in the process of learning. The idea of encouraging your child to read about a variety of subjects increases their ability to think critically and assess situations from several perspectives. In an effort to keep the twins encouraged to read more I discovered that I catered to what they like, which is good however incorporating some variety could also be beneficial.

Lee and I were out this weekend, went in a few stores he indulged me by going into the Dollar Tree. I needed to obtain some gift boxes for some Mother’s Day gifts I had previously purchased. While we were in the store I walked down an aisle that was stacked with books. I was surprised and delighted because there was a great range of hard cover books and I didn’t realize were sold in this store. Similar to any true lover of books I took time out to shuffle through the three packed shelves of books. The price of the book helped in making a treasured find all the more valuable. Lee, aware of my goal to have the Twins become more engaged readers held up a book stating, “I heard about these boys and their band, this might be a good one for the twins”. I was enthralled in my search so without looking up I asked Lee to elaborate, as he read the inner cover he stopped and said “Never mind they may not be interested in this.” That was the sentence that made me pause, Charlemagne’s story about his mother making him read things that didn’t pertain to his life came to mind. I looked up and said “It’s the perfect book, do they have two?”

My goal in life as a mother is to equip my kids with the best information I have so that they are knowledgeable in multiple areas. I want them to do more than survive in life, I want them to flourish. I often tell them “I’m giving you the gift of knowledge and no one will ever be able to rob you of it!” I make it a point to learn additional techniques to improve parenting skills. I listen to the adult children about methods their mothers used while raising them (i.e. Charlemagne). Books have always been important to me from Judy Blume’s “Are you there God, it’s me Margaret” to my favorite “Coldest Winter Ever” by Sista Souljah. You tell me just how diverse the spectrum is pertaining to those two books.  

Like most mothers I consider the short and long term when it comes to parenting. The twins excel in all things electronic, math and athletics. While encouraging them to cultivate what they love doing I also want to build on what is innate in them. I pray what I teach helps them to succeed. What I do understand that if we want our children to exceed to a higher level we must sacrifice and find a balance.
I purchased “Unlocking the Truth” a book about young African American boys that started a rock band and against all odds have become successful. The twins don’t listen to rock music however the band’s story of perseverance and ambition to go after their dream is what I’m hoping translate. I’m reading along with them preparing questions for a 10-12 minute discussion after each section. The first section went better than I expected. Be sure to build a library that offers a variety of subjects and engage them in a short discussion about their thoughts on what they read. Encourage critical thinking skills early and encourage them to increase their vocabulary. Being actively involved in the enrichment of their mind and character is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give.

Live Free and Parent Enthusiastically! 

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Time to TEACH

The twins turned 13 years old back in October. Now while they are still adorably cute to me I had to accept the fact that they are viewed as a threat to society. I honestly believe this is due largely in part to the systematic dehumanization of the black male achieved by the media. A little over a year ago I decided to start conversations with them about how to conduct themselves in the predominately white school they attended. The murders of Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice sparked a fear inside of me that no mother should ever have to endure.

Our discussions were great and the decision to have them watch the Netflix documentary titled “13th” took it to another level. Please don’t worry this isn’t a spoiler if you have yet to view “13th”, so stay with me I have a point. I decided to have the Twins view the documentary so that we can discuss their thoughts, feelings and the questions I prepared. I was surprised at just how involved they were and their response. They were both quite attentive while watching and full of their own questions after the documentary ended. We discussed what the 13th amendment was, the ramifications of politicians taking advantage of the loopholes in the 13th amendment and how the media assisted in criminalizing young black men. Their questions were perceptive, earnest and somewhat naïve. It all made for a good eye-opening conversation for us.

The difficulty I had with talking about the systematic oppression people of color experience centered on wanting the twins to retain the innocence of their youth. I mean I didn’t want to tarnish their view of the world they lived in but unfortunately black children aren’t always afforded an extended stay in “naïveté”. It’s a sad truth and the time has come for it to be revealed, explained and discussed. Like many other mothers, want my children to succeed and rise to the level of their greatest potential. This often means making sacrifices, enduring awkward conversations, being open, honest and taking the time out to teach them what social injustice resembles. It is important to balance bringing awareness to them and ensuring that they don’t become jaded. I want them to be proud of their racial identity and respectful of others. I believe that this has to begin with them knowing the history of our people and our country.

I was awaken by the oldest of the twins at about 3am in the morning. He was worried about what he saw in the documentary and he still had questions. He told me “Momma, I can’t stop thinking about that movie and why they think we are all bad.” I assured him that not everyone believed that however there is a system that needs to be altered and was stacked against minorities. What kind of answers do you give a boy that has friends from different races and backgrounds he genuinely likes? How do you soothe the mind of a teen you know has a heart for others? When is there a good time to have these types of discussions? I encouraged him to maintain his friendships, to do his best in making decisions and remain mindful of what his reality is. The truth of the matter is his results won’t be the same as his friends. I had to accept that and in order for me to keep him safe I needed him to do the same. “You are NOT less than, John. Some people are just afraid of allowing others that look like us to be GREAT!”   

I read Dr. Beverly Tatum’s book “Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria” for a class I was taking. I didn’t realize at the time how timely the material in the book would be for me when talking to the twins. Dr. Tatum shares insight on the impact of racism, racial identity and the lack of addressing racial issues. Reading this book I realized that it’s my duty to address these issues that would affect my kids during their formative years. I also had to prepare myself for the questions they’d have and the uneasiness I was sure to feel. I must admit one of my greatest concerns was to make sure they continued to treat people fairly. I needed them to know that conversations on race are essential in order for there to be an informed understanding of the minority’s reality. Racial biases are formed early and typically are taught. Breaking the silence to talk about race and accepting differences will help to nurture an open mind. I want them to embrace people on the content of character not the color of their skin. I want them to live who they are....embracing all aspect of being Black and American!  

Friday, February 3, 2017

"Don't go in the direction of the dogs."

It is almost impossible to live a life that is unaffected by other people, their attitudes and opinions. If one isn’t diligently careful those negative aspects could shape your perspective, influence decisions and/or behavior. One skill I’ve acquired during my personal growth is the ability to identify when I need to keep my perspectives non-bias and my judgement to a minimum. Unfortunately, I still have blind spots. I'm still vulnerable to being influenced toward ungodly attitudes and negative actions. Just a couple of weeks ago I found myself reacting to negative energy created by someone else due to their foolishness. I typically steer clear of the negativity produced by people who are obviously miserable. Try as I might I’ve lost some battles. It's difficult to remain positive when you grow weary from a continuous effort of being the “bigger” person only to be taken advantage of or felling like you have. It’s like pressing forward only to be continuously pulled back to a space you know you don’t want to exist in.

I added the picture below this paragraph to assist with forming a mental picture of what I want to help me illustrate my point.  I will use the guy in the black to represent my life. Essentially it’s me working my hardest to change and alter surroundings, attitude etc as I press forward. The guy in the white represents negativity trying to pull me back, notice he has one foot firmly anchored in the “past”. {Side bar; the sad reality is if you don’t remain diligent in positivity no matter how many steps you may take forward negativity will cause you to lose more ground than you’ve gained.} The green resistance bands represents “things/mistakes” used to hold me. Now how many times have you personally agonized over past mistakes, poor choices or bad decisions? What good has it done? So why do we continue to allow it to be used in holding us back or slowing us down? The guy in the pink represents the “prize”. What’s the prize? I’m not sure what the prize is for you but for me it represents a place of truly balanced contentment. It’s where anyone can express what they think, how they feel and it does not penetrate my positive atmosphere. I know my “prize” is waiting for me. I can sense that I’m closer already. I’ve noticed how I can allow things to happen without owning or taking it personally. I can not control how people think, feel or what they do. However I must share with you what I have done to continue to ascend.    

Stay focus and maintain my drive to press forward. “It's difficult to see the forest for the trees” don't be so consumed by the details of a problem/conflict you lose sight of the situation as a whole. No one can take from you the joy in your life, the focus you have on healthy living nor the positive direction you are walking. Be attentive to what you entertain if you are not mindful you could give away the peace and positive atmosphere you created. I had to make a conscious decision to cut out negativity through the people I allowed to have a seat at my table, the conversations I participated in and the places I spent time going. There had to be some cutting away in order for there to be an increase. There wasn’t a moment of vacant spaces because God filled every space with positive energy and new opportunities. I shared a dream I had about a stampede of some vicious pitbulls running with a trusted confidant and she offered this advice “Nay, don’t go in the direction of the dogs!” There will be times when you feel like reacting, retaliating or handing out repercussions but none of it will be worth giving up your peace to run with dogs.
  “When they go low we go high!” ~Michelle Obama.

Be Strong.....Live Free

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Release the Prisoner: Free yourself

The danger of feeding into negativity and the resulting factors have been well documented on a psychological and spiritual level. The only true way to release yourself from the burden of a life of bitterness and dwelling in misery is to actively implement the life changing information readily available. Why do we opt out of using it? Is it easier to hold on to bitterness while denying that it so obviously exist in your life? Bitterness drives so many of us yet we swiftly dispel that notion instead of giving it proper consideration. I mean hell who wants to be labeled as being "bitter", right? I'm going to challenge you to take some time to think about it, no one is around it's just you and your thoughts. If you begin by excluding the time spent on what/who caused the hurt/pain allowing you to only to concentrate on what your reality is, at this present moment. So what happen, happened! It sucks! Refusing to acknowledge acceptance of what has transpired and your present day reality is the seed of bitterness. We can get into what fuels it a little later. What does accepting look like because it’s not just saying “I accept what’s happened to me!” Acceptance resembles release, learning the lesson and growth. If you find that your struggling is covered in negative speech, destructive acting out and constant blame then you are bitter. Acceptance is not your reality. There are other variables that feed into the end result however when you deal with the core of anything your chances of resolving the complete issue becomes inevitable.

The more we hold onto past hurts the more we become drunk on our pain and the experience can rob us of the joy we can find in anything. Again no one likes to admit that they are bitter or harboring resentment especially if you use so much of your energy trying to convince others that you are not. Unfortunately what typically happens is you began believing what you’ve said over and over as truth. The facade then  becomes disastrous because you will spend months or years in a private hell due to self deceit. Long lonely tearful nights, many moments of emptiness and feeling unfulfilled daily. I once nurtured bitterness and was well on my way to being consumed. I remember making a choice about 4 years ago to work towards being honest with myself about my feelings and intent. This was for my personal growth not for anyone else. Once I accepted my reality I knew I also had to figure out how I would then LIVE in it and alter it. I realized that the negativity that surrounded me had a lot to do with my choice of allowing it to breath. There would be no relief if I didn’t first suffocate it and replace it with positive energy and people.  

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison”. ~Nelson Mandela
I always appreciate a quote rich in substance and reality, much can be said for practical advice not just philosophical words. It also helps when the quote assist in proving a valid point. Mr. Mandela understood that if he planned to live out the remaining years of his life happy and effectively that there would be no room for bitterness nor hatred. One of the many lessons he learned while in prison was that a mental and emotional prison is just as restricting as a physical prison. Your pain may be valid but a bitter attitude will only increase YOUR misery. It will drive away potential sources of true support and love. Bitterness will always chase away love in your heart and your life. What’s most unfortunate is the obvious denial of what has taken root and is being nurtured. I’m sorry but it’s not that well hidden. If you are honest with yourself then you’ll see some of these descriptors as being familiar: sad/depressed, angry, hostile, ranting about wrongs, refusing to see self, resentful, dwelling on past wrongs, stubborn, wounded, moody, lashing out at others, carrying emotional baggage, blaming others, stereotyping, scapegoating, agitated, negative and critical, defensive, cultivating grudges, raging, maliciousness. This is what bitterness looks like. How could anyone possibly succeed with moving forward fostering any of these emotions and actions mentioned? One of the first successful steps to healing is identifying the wound. If we take a moment and think about it that would apply to any physical/emotional wound or problem as well.

When we are hurt, we have a tendency to replay the painful events over and over in our head or tell anyone who will listen about our pain–even over and over again. Now I personally think it’s great to discuss your inner most feelings with someone or a support group. However that someone should be about helping to heal the hurt, facilitate reconciliation if so desired or just encourage the rebuilding of your life. These are all my personal reflections as I’ve had to fight the battle of bitterness to save my own life from decaying. The few things I’ve noticed in hindsight are the denial (non-acceptance), how it kept me tormented and those that were so willing to eagerly watch me suffer. There is only one word of advice I will offer about the latter and that’s beware of those who vouch for you to continually have a seat in despair among bitterness. These individuals do so by making it comfortable and inviting for you to remain tormented disguising their help as “being supportive”. Again I speak from personal life experience not solely on research. I learned that the pain and heartache I experienced wasn’t going away until I dealt with and accepted what happened. I let go of the idea of “payback” or proving someone wrong. I shifted my focus inward, so I could see me because I had abandoned me like many others. L

Carl Jung stated “the person who looks outward dreams, the person who looks inward awakens.” It wasn’t until I realized that the only true control I had was over myself, I was then able to begin and allow the work needed to fix my heart and mind. I opened my eyes to what I refused to see was causing the ongoing heartache. I know it’s difficult to admit but I want to share with you in love what those around you may have tried and you wouldn’t listen. Or maybe you know but decided to subconsciously suppress. Your life will never get better, that piercing sting will only become more agonizing and you will always be a prisoner if you persist on the path of bitterness.

Break loose and FREE yourself! 

Monday, December 26, 2016

One Word Theme

Embrace the choices, changes and challenges in 2017. It’s that time of year again for me to reflect on what I accomplished and what needs to be improved upon going forward. It’s been three years now that I’ve incorporated the “one word” theme in my New Year short term goals. I can honestly say it’s something I’ve been able to maintain its fostered positive personal growth. I can attribute my ability to adjust to the proactive methods I’ve learned, and making sure to implement them as life happens. My desire is to continue using this mindset as I aspire to press forward, moving around the negativity as best I can and embrace what’s ahead. Monday, December 19th the word “embrace” hit me as I prepared for work. I decided to share what came as a result of me taking some time to meditate on what my one word theme will mean in my life and how to translate embrace as I move forward in 2017.  

Choices~ Embrace MY choices. I learned the hard way that not everyone will understand nor approve of my life choices. The desire to have that approval is actually what use to keep me in a sad dark place for so many years. The fear of what people would say or do if I didn’t make their choice for my life. I am thankful for the day I removed that unnecessary weight off of me and began to make choices based on what makes me happy. A few years ago I read about an Australian nurse by the name of Bronnie Ware, she spent several years working with those who were dying and recorded their dying regrets. This is the number one regret she recorded: "This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it." What other people think of you doesn’t define Latrice, so I set myself free from their judgment. Stop being afraid of choosing to make YOU happy. I know that it’s difficult to choose you, especially if you habitually put others before you. I recall how I felt “selfish” and would subsequently back out of choosing what made me happy. I’ve since figured out it’s not selfish to actually live your life for you. Hell, I’m still trying to figure out why I allowed others who were not really a contributing factor to my well-being be a FACTOR in my life choices. In 2012 I resolved that I only owe consideration to my kids(to a degree) and myself. I haven’t regretted one decision I’ve made since choosing ME! In 2017 there are a few major choices on the horizon and I must persist in embracing the choices that advance me closer to my dreams.    
Changes~ Embracing change can be quite unsettling especially since there is a level of fear attached to the unknown. Let’s face it being drawn out of a space you've been in for many years is going to cause some uneasiness. I’m almost sure this is why they call it a "comfort zone". I know that changes will occur as a result of the choices we make or through not making a choice which in itself is actually a choice. It’s imperative to acknowledge and accept that in changes are challenges but in the midst of your challenges you always have a choice. I’ve discovered that change isn’t always uncomfortable and can be refreshing. “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy; not on fighting the old but building the new.” ~Socrates
Challenges~ There is truly only one path to become better at anything and it’s through experience and practice (mastering levels, stages or degrees). Positive and negative experiences alike. I’m not actively seeking out heartbreak, failure, illness, loneliness and loss. However when negative experiences surface unexpectedly I feel the need to learn from it and use it to my advantage the way I use the positive experiences for enrichment. In this period of my life improving the person I am is my central focus. I want to raise my children to understand that living a life that makes them happy without hurting others is the root of successful living. Their challenge won’t be in obtaining information but applying it. The application is the true work, right? I swear the minute you state what you will do and won’t do, a test prepared by fate will be administered by life to see if you are truly ready for the choices you make, the changes and challenges to come.

I’m going to embrace happiness because I realize that this is my choice, a choice I don’t plan to leave in the hands of others.   

"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again." ~ Bronnie Ware
Live Free

Friday, November 18, 2016

My Sappy Perspective on Love....

I feel like writing about love today because he makes every inch of me smile with excitement and I swear it’s the scariest feeling ever. I’ve taken some time to assess why and all I can come up with is I don’t want it to end it’s just to richly sweet, exciting and fun. It feels like the feeling you get when you are in a room with your favorite people sharing a good laugh and everyone is truly enjoying the fun moment. It feels like that exciting rush you got when you were a kid and it was time to go to bed on Christmas eve that anticipation for what the morning would bring. {Of course this is before you were told Santa wasn’t real.} It feels like the warmth you get in your heart when a baby smiles at you and they don’t even know you but it’s still sweet and it makes your heart melts. I mean who doesn’t smile back at a smiling baby?  
In the beginning I found myself thinking about the difference in how I feel about him than I have in my past two relationships. The major difference being how EASY it is to honestly communicate my feelings and listening to him without prejudgment of his feelings. I noticed how I will swiftly apologize if needed and accepting of constructive criticism. I want what we share to last but more importantly I want it to continue to grow stronger. II Corinthians 13:4-8 talks about what love is and I remember using it in a paper I wrote for an English class many years ago but it’s funny because now I really understand what love means, how it should translate into positive behavior not just feelings. For instances there is a part where it states “it keeps no record of wrongs” the few times an apology was needed in my current relationship are not reoccurring incidents. There is no desire to actively maintain a mental record of what happen only enthusiastically reaching forward for what’s to come and leaving yesterday’s issue where it belongs. We acknowledge that we are imperfect and we don't hold it against each other.

I love the smallest things he does for me the best and appreciate everything we do to maintain a healthy friendship in the midst of loving one another. It’s imperative to ensure a good balance of quality time together, time shared with friends and loved ones as well as time alone. I like that we encourage each other to reach our goals and remain open to suggestions. The sight of him warms my body and every embrace we share is valuable in supporting our solid infrastructure. “When I see your face there’s not a thing that I would change cause you’re amazing, just the way you are…” Sorry ya’ll I had a teenage moment, but you’ll have to give me a few more seconds to tell him;

Thank you Love, for being an impeccable man, sharing your heart, thoughts, feelings, perspectives, being honest, saying “I’m sorry” and meaning it, protecting me, wiping my tears away, kissing my forehead, supporting me, telling me I can, not causing me heartache, driving across town to put money in the meter so my car won’t get ticketed, holding my hand, opening the door, asking for my input, listening to my aspirations, loving me and offering me your last name….

Love is about cherishing every single moment you have with the person you say you love even in difficult moments. There isn’t a need to “force it” because its natural….Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Live Free and LOVE!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Make a Conscious Effort!

I had a conversation with my kid the other day, and by kid I mean 23 years old, one of the things I’m loving about our relationship is how it’s evolving. I know that the dynamics of our relationship have changed due to us both understanding that we had to let go of our former responsibilities as mother and daughter to embrace our new responsibilities. I would really love to get into my thoughts on the transitions necessary for parents to make so that their children can become successful as an adult. Perhaps I will write about that in the next blog, I pray it doesn’t take months for me to do. Unfortunately my life has been pretty hectic leaving no down time for me to release.
Back to the conversation I had with my kid yesterday about maturing, processing past pain and discovering your place in life. I sensed she was harboring some negative energy in the form of blame toward an individual. I shared with her that if she allowed herself to be consumed by blaming someone else for where she presently is in her life she will always be where she is at this moment. My exact statement was “Instead of recycling that negative energy channel that energy into accepting where you are. Identify what about your life that you don’t like, recognize what changes need to be made and focus on implementing them.” I believe that it is essential that she understands that if she does nothing she will always be stagnant.
I realize how absolutely easy it is to blame someone else for what has happen in your life, if they are truly at fault. I also understand complex it can be to move on when you feel like you’ve been mistreated. I personally know how much initial effort and readjusting one has to incorporate into their day-to-day to establish a new attitude or fresh perspective on life. I mean I completely “get it”! {Ya’ll did read the name I titled my blog page right? I didn’t come up with it because it’s catchy. Ok maybe that was part of it, however my point is I’m sharing the advice I am living.} The feelings of despair, isolation and being uncertain are not strangers to me. I refer to really difficult life experience as “climbing out of a pit”, think about just how damn difficult it would be to climb out of a pit. I mean no rope to make it easier, it’s dark and scary. The only way you will survive to embrace sunshine is to put in the necessary work to get out. It can be overwhelming just thinking about it but I challenge you, like I do her to disconnect from that comfort you’ve found in your pain.  

I have this saying I use, mostly when I’m in wonderfully stimulating conversation with my Guy, “Don’t Feed the Monster!” When discussing why a person can’t progress think about what they nurture. What we pay attention to grows, so instead of “feeding” what we don’t want in our lives, starve it by focusing on what you do want! How will you get it? Figure out the logistics, write down a strategy be active in where you want to go. This is what I meant about channeling your energy into being productive for you. Become consumed with being in a better place for you! We know that life is full of choices and we can dwell on what has already happened or we can learn from it. Treating harsh experiences like an old book, by placing it back on the shelf and moving on to life’s next adventure.
You have to be your strongest advocate of pressing through adversities and creating a positive happy center for self. Learning to let things and people go so that you can grow won't be easy but it will be worth it. I can testify to that! My 23 year old kid has always had a beautiful caring spirit so its tough observing her learn the lessons only life can teach her. I trust that GOD will continue to do an excellent job of keeping her covered with His grace and mercy. I will give her all that I have but she knows that she must also put in work! I can only take her so far she has to go the rest of the way with Him. She’s becoming more of a beautiful woman inside and out with every discussion and experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better kid than this brown eyed Beauty. Be Strong and Live FREE my darling Pooh!