Believing I Am Beautiful

I remember being teased a lot for many different reasons.  I was teased for being a church girl, not having a perm, my hair being short, being dark, being chubby, not wearing the flyest clothes or having a boyfriend all the time.  Do not feel bad for me.  I did my fair share of teasing and it was not just in defense of myself, but as a way to mark my territory.  I was very good at hitting you where it hurt and laughing about it loudly in your face.  Despite being teased all through primary school, I think the words that always hurt the most were those that came from my father.

My father would say things like, “I hope you don’t think you are cute, because you are not?” or “You are so fat.” or “No one will ever want you.  You are going to turn out just like your crackhead mother.”  or  harsher words that cut much deeper and left internal scars that took years to heal.  Looking back at my pictures, I was actually pretty thin.  I was in ROTC and the marching band, which forced me to workout a lot and we never had a lot of food to eat, so it wasn’t like I over ate.  He said those things to hurt me and to control my perception of myself.  His words always stuck with me.  When I looked in the mirror I saw someone who was ugly, fat, and never good enough.

I was the late bloomer.  I was shaped like Taylor Swift my freshman year of high school but the following summer the Lord saw fit to allow me to blossom.  As I started to become more shapely, my father’s words became harsher and cut deeper.  By this time, my stepmother had moved back to Connecticut and I only had my girlfriends to help me get through these fragile years.  Thankfully, many of them had older sisters and their words of wisdom helped me to appreciate the young woman I was becoming ,but that only helped on a superficial level.  I understood that I was physically changing for the better but my self-esteem remained the same.  Low.  The foundation of your self-esteem is built at home and my home was filled with destructive words instead of words of love and power.

I never realized how hard I was on myself until my sophomore year of college.  I cannot pinpoint the moment or the exact set of events that led up to my epiphany, but I remember being in the car with my friend and she turned to me and said, “You look different.  You look very pretty.  I don’t know what it is but you look good.”  I remember that moment so vividly and I looked in the mirror and there wasn’t anything different about me except the fact that I had decided to just be happy.  I made the conscious decision to stop being so critical of myself and pointing out all of my flaws because I wasn’t going to change.  I learned to accept myself and find the beauty in my being.

My journey towards a happier me was slow and riddled with pitfalls, mistakes and setbacks.  I reached a pinnacle of happiness the year I prepared for my friend’s wedding.  I set a weight loss goal and focused on cleaner eating.  I worked hard at my job but I was also having the time of my life.  That year was amazing from start to finish and I vowed to only go higher from there.

When I look in the mirror I still notice my flaws but I don’t use them to deconstruct myself down to the studs.  I see an issue with my skin, I go and find a treatment regimen that will clear it up.  I don’t like how I look in my clothes, I prepare a workout regimen or set a running goal and stick with it.  If I am ever unhappy, I try to get to the root of the problem and deal with it accordingly.  This is the new me.  The me that arrived in 2005 and believed that I was beautiful because I am.

Our words changes lives.  Our words empowers.  Our words destroys.  Use your words wisely.  Build up yourself and those around you.  Be proud of who you are and work hard to be better each day.  Believe that you are beautiful.

Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

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Positive Parenting: The Road to Transforming an Overthinking Control Freak

All parents should know that he who knows patience knows peace. Chinese Proverb

 

My friend’s mother gave my husband and I a book, “The Power of Positive Parenting,” a collection of bible verses, quotes and humorous statements about parenting.  When I first received the book, I read a few of the quotes and I immediately started to chuckle on the inside.  The quotes and statements reminded me that I am not the first parent to be driven crazy by a child who wouldn’t listen or the first to be so sleepy and delirious that my child ended up in the bed with me many more nights than not.  Parenting is a journey that will take you on a roller coaster higher and lower than any you can ever dream of. One of the lessons that I am learning as a fairly new parent is that this journey is not about just raising my son but transforming myself.

I am a very detail oriented, very meticulous, over thinking control freak.  I want things done a certain way, every time and I know that my way is best because I have thought or tried the alternatives and it has failed or looks like it will fail.  So when children come into your life and you are used to being hung up on the details, your entire method of daily living is derailed, in a good way. In the early days I have been dressed and ready to walk out the door and either my son would pee or release a poop that would seep out of his clothes and all the way up his back.  As he got older, I had to get him ready and then put him in a place that he wouldn’t move so that I could get ready.  That was the downside of him crawling, walking and then learning how to run!  And now we are at the point where we are tip toeing down the potty training road, so bathroom visits, extra pull ups and underwear are now our primary focus.  He understands now that when its time to go to get his shoes and backpack which helps but not having everything by the door causes me to run in and out and back in until finally I am exhausted and running too late to care about grabbing anything else.

Living in a city full of traffic, you have to be prepared at all times with snacks and planned places to stop to grab food if you are unable to get home before dinner time.  You have to leave early just in case there is an accident or a detour.  You have to know where to find the cheapest gas and when is the safest times to go.  You go from worrying about your own safety to protecting your child and their innocence at all times. For those without children, it may seem like I am being dramatic or over exaggerating, but in reality you cannot even put into words what it is to be a parent to a child, let alone more than one.  You get to watch this little being grow, learn and transform before your very eyes, but you also start to look in the mirror and see yourself changing into someone you weren’t a year or two ago.  You see yourself leaving baskets of laundry around the house because you don’t have the time to fold them perfectly and unmet edges are not going to cut it.  You see yourself scrapping tv time for outside play time and walks down the street to see your neighbors so your son can wave and make them smile.  You find yourself beating yourself up for raising your voice or getting upset, because now that you have calmed down you realized your child wasn’t being disobedient but just curious, as they should be.

You see yourself transforming from good to better.  I am a better person because I am a parent.  I am learning what is important in life and what is not worth the worry and the stress.  There is no perfect parent.  Successful children come from homes of varying socio-economic statuses, neighborhoods and parental make-ups.  Some parents are more hands on than others, some are great providers, while many others invest all of their time, attention and money into their child while putting their own dreams on hold.  Every parent can look back and think about things that they would have done differently, better or more.  In parenting, there is no beginning and there is no end.  There is a continuum of life and love that moves like the waves in the sea.  High tides and low tides.  Great moments and not so great moments.  But many lessons to be learned and shared with those around you, especially fairly new parents like me.

For me, my biggest challenge is to learn patience.  Over the years, God has tried to teach me in various ways, but I still reverted back to my impatient ways.  So one day he blessed me with a permanent lesson of patience.  I have failed many times at being that patient loving mom that I want to be, but I keep trying.  Every moment is a new test.  Every failure is a new lesson.  Positive parenting is not a task for me to use on my son, but for me to use on myself. Positive parenting is a journey to transform my mindset, myself, and my spirit.  God is working on me and he has already given me the reward for my future transformation.  My son is so sweet, smart and kind.  He is a loving child who is like most boys, busy and rambunctious.

My time away from him has given me time to review my parenting style and to cherish my job as a mother.  It is one of the most important and the one that pays the most. I always appreciate the wisdom of mothers who have been where I am.  Their words are affirming and encouraging.  I am placing my book on top of my dresser as a reminder and an outlet to look at when I am struggling with my patience.  We all have work to do.  Some work takes longer but I know this transformation won’t take a lifetime.  Soon I will be a more patient parent, detail oriented, very meticulous, over thinking control freak.  Because that is who I am.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

No More Obligations

 

NeeNee and Papa

Married for 49 years and 10 months

When you finally feel like you have life under control, something comes and knocks you right off of your feet to remind you of how unpredictable life can be.  My heart had already sensed that a tragedy was going to strike, but I knew that I could not change it so I tried to brace for it.  You cannot brace for death, no matter how many times you tell your self that death can be easier than life because your family member does not have to suffer anymore.

Last Wednesday morning was a complete whirlwind.  I received a call from my aunt that my grandfather had suddenly become ill.  Although they had not pronounced him dead, I knew in my heart that his battle on this side was finally over.  I began to cry and try to figure out how I was going to get home on such short notice and then the second call came, informing me that my grandfather had a massive stroke and that he was not going to recover from this one.

In those last few minutes of his life, my family rushed to get everyone together to say their last goodbyes.  I sat at my desk and tried to be apart of that moment through the phone as my family gathered at his hospital bed.  I got a short glimpse at him and said goodbye and I love you through blinding tears.  Within minutes he released his last breath and his soul was set free to the other side.

Then the tears began to flow even more.  The wails of grief rang through my silent house.  I began to contact my other family to inform them of my grandfather’s sudden departure.  And the stages of grief immediately set in.   DENIAL.

This could not be real.  This could not be happening.  This could not be happening right now.  Not during my bar prep.  Not when I didn’t have a plan to get home.    Not while our family was already dealing with so much else.  Not right now.  Not today.

As the hours passed and I decided that I could wait no more, I jumped in my car, prayed and set forth on my journey home.  I arrived into a whirlwind of emotions.  Everyone was dealing with this sudden lost of our patriarch in their own way.  The next few days was a roller coaster of moments.  Some preparing for my Papa’s farewell, while others were full of tension and distress.

I remained emotionally stable for the most part but all my built up strength crumbled onto the notes of Safe in His Arms in the service that paid homage to his life.  The reality set in that my grandfather was gone forever.  I could no longer call him and ask for advice about my car, talk about current events or update him on Baby Adam’s new achievement. I never got a chance to repay him for his many sacrifices and self-less acts that made me the woman I am today.  He always believed in me and my dreams.  He never wavered in his love for any of us.  He had a heart full of unconditional love spread evenly across each child, grandchild and great-grandchild.  He did everything he wanted to do, which was to simply care for us and give us better opportunities.

As I stroll through the last four stages of grief, staggering back and forth between depression and acceptance, I am comforted by the words No More Obligations.  These words were shared a few months ago at a memorial service for a professor who had passed away.  His friend shared these words of comfort with us and they never left my soul.  So I embrace the fact that my grandfather has No More Obligations.  No more appointments, no more medications, no more leg braces and wheel chairs.  No more dependence, no more restrictions, no more stress or strains.

As I deal with this loss and the minor set back in my study schedule, I am comforted in knowing that God has placed another guardian angel in my corner to guide me along the way.  Grandparents are special people.  Grandparents are even more special when they step into the shoes of your parents.  And for that, I am grateful.

Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Papa Thinking

Never Complained. Just loved and lived.