What if…

Trying to stay unfrozen has been a feat until this week.  Seriously, it literally snowed 3-4″ last week!  #notcool But now spring has finally come to Wisconsin…and I’ve finally come back to blogging!

Not gonna lie to y’all–my life is pretty boring so I feel like I don’t have anything to post about regularly lol.  Like, do people really care that I started buying groceries at the local Aldi?  Are folks really trying to read about the new bike I bought?  Answer:  probably not (at least that’s what I assume).  So my posts have been infrequent.

Butttttt I’d like to change that!  Maybe y’all aren’t interested in what I’m doing (which is honestly not a lot) but what I’m thinking (which is all sorts of things).  Honestly, y’all might not be interested in what I’m doing OR thinking lol.  But today I’m gonna share a bit of what’s been going on in my brain.

Lately, I’ve been playing this mental game called “What if…”  Basically, I’ve been thinking about all the ways my life could have gone wrong.  Not in a morbid, “woe is me” sort of way, but just considering all the events and circumstances (great and small) that led me to this awesome life I have today.

My mom is the most wonderful person on the planet.  If she hadn’t raised me, I’m almost certain my life would have gone poorly.  Like, I hope I’d be a good contributing member of society if I didn’t have her as a mom, buttttttt I’m skeptical.  That lady raised me RIGHT.  She taught me to be caring and diligent and showed me how to work hard even when it feels like everything and everyone is against you.  She encouraged me and motivated me and, most importantly, disciplined me when I needed it and called me on my bullshit.  Without her, who knows who I would be?

My daddy died when I was only 13.  His death could have been a trigger for my life to take a bad direction.  In ways, it did create issues–I didn’t have a role model for how a man should treat me and ended up in some terrible relationships as a result–but it could have been much worse.  On occasion I’ll watch the show Intervention and the stories that touch my heart the most are of women who lost their fathers or whose fathers were emotionally distant.  Women who, quite possibly, could have been me.

On the flip side, what if he hadn’t passed?  Would he have gotten better, fought his addiction, and been the father I needed?  Or would he have continued to drink?  Would I have ended up estranged from him?  Would I have drunk right along with him (alcoholism does run in families, after all)?  There’s no way to know.  And honestly, this version of the “What if…” game hurts the most.

My best friend in the world moved to our town when we were in the fourth grade.  She was a bookish Black girl just like me, and I needed her at nine years old in a predominately white school in a predominately white (and very southern) town.  If she hadn’t come, I don’t know who I would have relied on to support me when my daddy died.  I don’t know who I would have called when my ex-fiance was abusing me.  Who knows what friends I would have made and what paths they would have taken me down?  (One of my childhood friends ended up with a drug problem.  I could have been right there with her.)

Even outside of the key players in my life, all the small events and decisions and interactions in my life add up too.  I dated someone in college who I though was going to marry me, but ended up breaking my heart instead.  If we had married, I wouldn’t have met the man I truly love and who lets me be myself.  After college, I applied for a job at the Social Security Administration and was devastated when they didn’t hire me.  But if I had taken that job, I might never have gotten the opportunity to do something I truly love.

Just to be clear, I don’t play “What if…” to throw myself a pity party.  Playing this game makes me sad sometimes, but ultimately I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.  I’ve been through stuff that could have broken me, but I survived.  I’ve learned to appreciate the things and people who make my life special.

I urge you to consider the circumstances of your life and how you are a stronger person because of (or in spite of) them.  If you’ve got a story of triumph you’d like to share, leave it in the comments!

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Image courtesy of Maryeoriginals

 

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Rude Girl

Apparently, I’m rude.

I mean, I didn’t even curse!  No personal insults or attacks.  Not even an angry emoji or two. Just a single iMessage after multiple disappointments:

“I said before I want a friendship with someone who has time and energy to hang out with me.  I don’t think that is you. Best of luck in the future, but do not contact me again.”

In the words of Queen Bey “you must not know ’bout me” because, baby–I can show you rude if you really wanna see it. I purposefully waited a day before responding because my original response was hella rude.

He must have also conveniently forgotten that his rude behavior caused this reaction.  I mean, he was the one who:

  1. Disappeared for MONTHS after our first date–no phone call, text, telegram, smoke signal, NOTHING.
  2. Randomly popped back into my life expecting me to forget I hadn’t heard from him in literally five months.  He asked me if he could “make it up to me” which he did by…
  3. Continuously made sexual innuendos and constantly commented on my body, which made me extremely uncomfortable. (When I asked him to stop, he said he would “back off.” I didn’t ask you to back off, sir. I asked you to STOP.)
  4. Touched my hair without my permission.  Like, not just a pat–his hands were IN MY HAIR.  (To his credit, he stopped when I asked, but please don’t touch me without my permission. That is very, very rude.)
  5. Telling me he didn’t feel like making the drive to see me (after I drove to see him the last time we hung out) and making plans with me, but cancelling the day of because his “night kinda disappeared with a bunch of stuff.”  <~~~WTF does that even mean?

So, sir–if being up front about not wanting inconsistent people in my life is rude, then I don’t want to be polite.

Boy, bye. 

That Was Her Way

One year ago today, my great-aunt Aloma passed away.  Known to me as Granny Loma, she played a recurring role in my childhood.  In summers she hosted far-flung relatives and Independence Day barbecues.  The other seasons felt her presence too; Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas parties, Easter Egg hunts in the field behind her house.  You could stop by whenever to talk to her, and she always had something to say–and no qualms about saying it either.

On my trips back home after moving to Madison, she was the one I made a point to visit.  She made sure I left with a wise word and a joke (and frequently a strawberry shortcake, my favorite of her desserts).  She called me when my mother and I argued to make sure I understood my mother’s perspective and hers too–protect your children, guard your family.  Let them learn but never leave them lonely.  Tell them the truth but understand their lives are their own.

She was the type of woman that spoke her mind without hesitation–there was never a question of how she felt or what she thought.  She had five kids of her own and helped raised everyone else’s too.  When she told you to do something, you did it (and heaven forbid if she had to tell you twice).  She lived in big t-shirts and white tennis shoes.  Her hair was always flawless.  She sang beautifully and loved the Lord with all her heart.  She was the matriarch of our family, our center of gravity.

I told myself I should ask more questions while she was here, but the opportunities passed; the moments slipped by.  Of course now more than ever I want to know her yellow cake recipe, how to can vegetables, what it felt like to to be a wife at 14.  The things I took for granted as a college student, juggling classes with work and extracurriculars, interest me most in my new day of home and career.  The answers I look everywhere to find were five minutes away on Tanner Rd. all this time.

Somewhere–in the warmest, friendliest corner of Heaven, Granny Loma is preparing a feast to welcome us when we join her.  To give of all of us–her husband, children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, and anyone who needs it–a warm smile, a big hug, and words of truth spoken with heartfelt sincerity.  That was her way.

Sept. 13, 1942-April 2, 2013

Sept. 13, 1942 – April 2, 2013

Never Give All the Heart

Things were going well…until I got that email.

“That” email was from a trainee in some classes I taught in early October. “That” email said said I was “completely inadequate” and “taught my class nothing.” “That” email took me completely by surprise.

Since I’ve moved into my new role (corporate trainer) my life has been great. The stress of traveling, customer issues, and implementation overall wasn’t for me–I was extremely unhappy and didn’t feel like I was my best self in that role. As a trainer, I actually look forward to going to work–coming in on weekends even–and feel like I’m using my talents to make my company better.

After I got “that” email, I didn’t feel that way anymore. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, less than enough. Which, admittedly, isn’t a foreign feeling to me. Growing up I never felt skinny enough or pretty enough, never black enough or white enough to fit in. In college speech I didn’t feel dedicated enough; in my sorority I didn’t feel cool enough. In relationships–don’t even get me started. That’s another blog post entirely.

One of my favorite shows Smash (about a musical based on Marilyn Monroe) featured a song called Never Give All the Heart. In it, Marilyn sang about her past loves and how she always gave everything she had only to receive nothing in return; she wished she hadn’t given her whole heart to have it returned in pieces. It’s easier that way, holding back. If you don’t leap, you won’t fall and possibly get hurt. But it isn’t the way to live. God gives us tests to make us better and teach us lessons that will make us the people He needs us to be.

So “that” email isn’t worrying this girl anymore. I’ve got some work to do absolutely, but I’m not inadequate by any means. I’m giving all I have in this job because I know I have what it takes–no one is going to make me feel like “that” anymore.

How have you dealt with feelings of inadequacy? What advice would you give to someone in that situation?


Never Give All the Heart

A Work of Purpose

I think I love my job.

You wouldn’t have heard me saying that earlier this year. In fact, you would have seen my frustration and stress in every glance and halfhearted wave in passing. I looked for new jobs on my lunch break and cried myself to sleep in hotel rooms on business trips.

And then, just when I was at my lowest, God blessed me with an opportunity to switch roles at my company. It would mean a salary cut of over $30,000 but it would also mean little travel and constant use of my greatest skill (public speaking).

And now, after just a few months in this new position, I think I love my job. I look forward to going into the office on the weekends to get things done. I volunteer for new tasks and feel purposeful every single day. And that’s something I never saw coming.

What is your dream career? What are you doing now to reach that goal?

This Winding Road

My story begins in the hills of Kentucky.  As a child, walked barefoot on curving paths through towering trees.  As a teenager–newly acquired licence in hand–I panicked at the thought of navigating the hairpin turns and narrow streets in my new (to me) car.  As a college student, I made the hour drive back home so much I could drive it in my sleep.  And at the age of 22, I drove from Kentucky to Wisconsin to start a new job and, though I didn’t realize it at the time, a new life.

Today, I’m still navigating this winding road.  Now instead of peaceful wooden paths and twisting country roads, I’m handling the turns that come with a career, relationship, and all those other adult responsibilities*.  Though there might be deep curves ahead, the experiences of life make the trip worthwhile.

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The hills of my old Kentucky home

*Seriously–nobody told me adulthood costs so much.  Never did I expect to be excited about paying $500 for tires for my car.