Listen, and then if you’re up for it, tell me in the comments what your wisdom to your younger self would be.
Listen, and then if you’re up for it, tell me in the comments what your wisdom to your younger self would be.
My last post was an update on why I suddenly stopped writing. Then I stopped writing again. Since May 14, I have not written. Not because of emotional stress, but because I had a summer writing course that involved reading eight novels in eight weeks, posting with classmates each week, and writing. Although I honestly don’t remember what we had to write. A portion of an original novel? An essay? My life seems to be moving along at warp speed so that I simply do not remember the details of any given day. My spring semester ended with my mother’s third cancer diagnosis and one week after my summer semester ended, my three children were down and out with “mild” cases of pneumonia. That would not be the case one week later when my husband was also diagnosed with pneumonia. Six days after that, he would be admitted to the hospital via ER and spend almost three days on oxygen because pneumonia does not care how fit you are – if it can take you down, it will. He returned home to recover and it was late that night, as I finally exhaled the entire previous three weeks, that I wondered if my completely forgotten Fall semester was about to start? Yep, four days after my husband returned home, I started the Fall semester and it has been the most challenging semester yet. Which is no easy feat considering the grey cloud that’s been hanging over me!
For twenty-five years, she mumbles quietly to herself.
Yes, you read that right. Twenty-five years. Has there really been a grey cloud hanging over me this entire time? It certainly feels that way. But in fact, No. It is more about how easily (or not), I have been able to recover from setbacks. One setback in particular, I am guessing. *Jack Canfield writes that E + R = O (Events + Responses = Outcome) [jack]. My husband shared that formula with me last night and I immediately thought back to the moment in time where my path changed. Where my spirit got knocked sideways and where a quarter of a century later, I would still be working to finish an unfinished task. There is a reason I am attending college at the age of forty-five with three cutie-patootie boys to raise and a husband who really loves it when I cook nice, balanced dinners, but who is also so understanding when I chaotically throw hot dogs on the table, exclaim that I have fed the family, and rush back to my desk to continue the grind of completing homework in my forties.
I have always known that I would write this story, but try as I might, the right words have failed to appear on paper. I am not convinced that I have the right words now, but I do feel that now is the time to write; to share whatever it is that clamors to get out. Like most experiences in life, The Cancer Experience is not a single experience, and maybe that has been the problem with the narrative. Do I write my story? That seems incredibly selfish. Do I write her story? How can I do that without my story? Do I write our story? What about Dad’s story?! It occurred to me today that I cannot tell the story without telling everyone’s story, so that is what I will try to do. I will not, however, tell my brother’s story. I haven’t asked for his permission and regardless, I do not feel that his story is mine to tell.
*Canfield has a specific requirement for referencing the article I took his formula from, so here it is:
Jack Canfield, America’s #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul®and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you’re ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com
I have a huge problem with the way the term “cultural appropriation” is flung around, and the declaration in this video is why. This woman who has an intelligent voice is tearing down an artist—who is also a successful “minority” person—rather than addressing the real problem which is that “black music” hasn’t been getting the awards through the years that it deserves.
First, I cannot say for sure, but I have never heard that Bruno Mars perms his hair to look black. I am pretty sure that is his natural ‘fro, so his look is just his look. Second, rhythm and poetry and music and how it moves the soul is an individual conversation. I refuse to allow somebody to tell me that I cannot enjoy a sound or make sounds that feel good to me because they’re hung up on some sort of cultural identity crisis. My goal is to celebrate and appreciate diversity in this country and to teach my kids that a person’s value is not tied to their color, but to who they are in this life. Kindness and consideration is the key to humanity.
“Cultural appropriation” in my mind is taking the experiences of another culture and behaving as though they are your own. Example: a white person can hear the horrors and heartache of black slavery in America; but we cannot begin to understand the depth of that pain. A white person can feel compassion for a black person in America who pulls up short in front of a Confederate monument, but we cannot hear the history that is being recalled in their mind or the images that might be passing through them while they stand there.
We can and should feel compassion and empathy, but we cannot, nor should we claim to understand the depth of what exists. To be a white person and to espouse the pains of the African and African-American community as though we personally experienced them: that to me is “cultural appropriation.” A white girl with braids in her hair? It might be awkward, but please, that’s a complement. Groovin’ to Motown sounds? That’s also a complement and in my opinion, we should celebrate, as Charlie Wilson did in his Tweet, the fact that Bruno Mars has brought back the sounds that make me dance out loud. Our nation cannot be unified or become the beautiful, diverse nation that we claim to want without embracing cultural differences. THAT is what will make America great again. I call B.S. on this woman’s divisive view.
I don’t have time to cite properly – my apologies! But below is the link to a CNN article that includes the video and the tweet from Mr. Wilson.
Signed, Ponytail Mama, mother of three who’s trying to put out good in this universe.
This is my first podcast of many to come. Please forgive all of the “ums,” but I didn’t want to edit because it’s imperfect, just like me. I’ll work on the “ums” as I progress! I hope you take a few minutes to listen and equally importantly, I hope you comment because my ultimate goal is connection and conversation. Cheers!
I was bouncing along on a wagon of writing, but I fell off! Happily, I have fixed the wheels, replaced the ink in my pen, and returned to the rutted road. Hello and Happy Friday to you!
Have you heard of the Sandwich Generation? Neither had I, but that’s what my mother-in-law refers to my ‘40s-something-parenting-generation. It is an existence where we have young children that we need to care for along with older parents that need assistance. We are “sandwiched” between the two. I shake my head at all of the time I wiled away in my unfocused youth. Remember when my biggest issue was how many margaritas I was going to consume while dancing the night away after a full week of work? Not that there weren’t other issues (like mom on the edge of death!). Between me, my kids, and my parents: my homework, their homework, fever, flus, strokes, and cancer. And also, the time I make to be my husband’s friend and lover. I sometimes feel ashamed of all the time I wasted, but I truly believe that I have as much time ahead of me as I have behind me and with this truth, I work towards my personal greatness. In-between the kids throwing up, of course. And my parents calling me to change lightbulbs. And my husband calling me to…
I should probably comb my hair.
via Daily Prompt: Dim
I believe that life should not be a dim existence; it should not be an existence where I am walking around with my eyes half-closed and my joy intermittent. As a free spirit, new motherhood for me was not always the beautifully written verse that I had anticipated it would be. Oh no, for me, the lights were dim in a way that I could never have imagined. I know that the physical changes that occur once a baby is born contributed to my personal darkness, but it was more than that. It took some time, but I eventually realized that for me, and I have to believe for so many other new mothers, part of that darkness was the loss of myself. Not only was my body behaving differently, but so, too, was my mind. Who was this new person? Where I once wandered freely, I now worried about the safety of this human being I’d only just met. I worried for him more than I had ever worried about myself, and I found it emotionally exhausting. My personal light was dim, and it affected everyone around me.
Very long story short, I recognized the absence of ME, and so I went in search of finding a way to incorporate my old self with my new self. I don’t make the opportunity to drink nearly as many margaritas as I used to (and I am okay with that!), but I do occasionally drink margaritas! I also jump into lakes in my underwear and I’ve stopped trying to be a morning person. WOW! For a while, I felt like a failure for not operating the way that typical American structure dictates, but then I took ownership of myself and said no more. After innumerable rough mornings, I finally told my kids that I am not a morning person so I will not be walking them to school. Eek. Does that make me a horrible mother? No! And in fact, it fills me with tremendous joy to say that out loud. So now, instead of beating myself up for not fitting into a round hole, I give my children something else that is unique to me: my free spirit; my silliness; my laughter; and yes, my once-again bright light. That too is affecting everyone around me, which is all I’ve ever really wanted to give to this world: Happiness. Kindness. Positivity. Love.
We’ve just returned from watching Black Panther with our pre-teen son. Partway through it, he exclaimed that he loved it; then at the end he exclaimed again that he loved it, and I exclaimed, “Me, too!” As the credits rolled, he unremarkably whispered to me that he thought it might have been more of a “black movie.” Please read on:
When I jumped in to begin this blog, it was because I felt that I needed to add my voice to a society that is cracked in multiple places and breaking further apart daily. Some people are shouters – and they are effective when the gentler voices are not affecting change. I am somewhere in the middle. So after my son made his observation, I took a slow breath, nodded quietly, and then I said something along the lines of “First, you might be experiencing history right now as 1. I think this is the first superhero movie with an almost entirely black cast, and 2. Blacks have historically been portrayed in American and some other cultures as overly aggressive, angry and violent. This movie didn’t do any of that.” Then I said to him, “let me ask you this: would you consider all of the movies you’ve ever watched with mostly white people “white movies” – pause – “or are they maybe just human movies? In which case, I would challenge you to ask yourself if maybe this isn’t a black movie, but rather, a human movie. Because we are all humans, and different cultures are awesome, and different rituals can be cool, but in the end, we are all human beings.” He nodded and smiled, and said “ok, yeah. Cool.” Because he’s a kid and he wasn’t born with hate and anger in him, so my husband and I are voices to give him a perspective to weigh against whatever malice he might be hearing out in the world. I am not a socialist or a conservative or a democrat or a republican; I am simply a human being who happens to also be American and all I want, really, is to not fear for my children’s lives on a daily basis and to not have my appreciation of being alive shattered every time I look down from looking up at the beautiful sky and warm sun. It is not just love that wins the day; it is also kindness and compassion; patience and understanding; common sense and a not-too-thin skin; and that comes from being human.
I am just going to get to it. I have been procrastinating beginning this blog for multiple reasons.
So instead of paralyzing my progress with all of my ‘but I have to…” and “what if’s…,” I have decided to just wave joyfully into the air to my family and friends while I jump right off of the dock into the icy, cold water. Not ideal, but really more my style.
My intention is to share my thoughts and feelings on this bat-shit crazy world and jacked-up country that we are currently living in. I don’t generally cuss (and if I do, it’s usually under the most entertaining of circumstances!), but that’s the phrase that keeps coming into my mind: everybody’s gone batshit crazy. Hyphen left out of that one intentionally, because I’m complicated. I am a mother to three young sons; I am a full-time student; I am a failed perfectionist; and I frequently try to make time to be a friend to my husband — whom I really liked before I married, and whom I like even more today. It hasn’t been all love and sunshine, but during our darkest times, we remembered that we had liked each other once, and we both put in the effort to make our ways back to one another. Marriage aside for the moment, parenting, more than anything else, has taught me that not only is perfection unattainable, but it is the messiness of daily life that makes living such a joy.
What I am offering to you is a place where you can come to read, and eventually hear, a potential voice like your own. I am offering this because it is what I need. For a few years now, I have been yelling out loud in the safety of my own home that I cannot be the only person who feels this way! I just can’t be. That doesn’t make any sense to me. So, I do not have a specific topic that I will be an expert blogger on. What I am presenting — as a mother with not-a lot-of-time to do my hair — are my thoughts on life today. Life as a parent; life as a spouse; life as a member of society who is concerned with what is happening in America: our institutions, our people, and most importantly, our beautiful, innocent children. I do not have solutions, and I do not know where to begin to find solutions, so I need to talk; and I am hoping that other people want to hear me and join me in mature and healthy conversation.
Disclaimer I: Topics will be whatever is on my mind at the time I sit down to write. Some days it will be politics, some days it will be religion, and some days it will be me wondering what the heck I’m going to make for dinner. People, please keep your expectations reasonable. I am a ponytail mama and that means my “routine” is dependent upon the wellness of everyone else in this family.
Disclaimer II: I am the moderator of my life. If anyone is disgustingly inappropriate, I will block you, delete you, cross you off with an X, or whatever it is that WordPress offers as a removal tool. Just sayin’.