Bring Back Sunday Dinner

Our generation has steered away from traditional anything but one tradition that must remain is Sunday dinner.  Today we celebrated my husbands godson’s christening today and had dinner at another friend’s home.  Some of their family was present, as well as a few friends.  We spent time watching football, discussing rivalries and laughing at my child sing the Philadelphia Eagles fight song, much to my dismay.  Our friends family got on the road home and the men sat down to doze off to late afternoon football games.  Us women went outside to light the fire pit, make smores, and talk about life.

The few hours we spent talking passed by so quickly, and we got a chance to candidly discuss religion, spirituality, relationships, friendships, finances, futures, dreams, growth and found so many common threads in our success and many of our struggles.  Taking a moment away from it all to simply connect and be vulnerable was rejuvenating and empowering.  We all felt connected and less alone, despite feeling as if we were the only ones experiencing socks left on the floor or clothes randomly placed throughout the house! We affirmed that we are normal and many husbands do the same things.

I have been longing to connect with many of my friends again because so much time has passed since we just sat down to talk and laugh face to face.  Just a few years ago, we had no problem getting together just to catch up and create memories.  Now we have gotten so busy being homeowners, wives, mothers, fathers, husbands, students or just busy trying to get somewhere soon that we rarely stop to connect and recharge.  We keep saying tomorrow instead of making a plan today.  I am challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone and spend my weekends spending time with people, doing nothing but laughing and talking.

Money does not always have to spent to have a good time.  Pick up a few sandwiches, a bottle of wine and a few snacks (if the kids are coming) and enjoy each others company.  Don’t get too busy that you miss the chance to see your friends and hear about their accomplishments and be a sound board for their dreams.  The only way we can survive, is by being there for each other and extending that love that is needed to continue on.

I am so blessed to be around such amazing women and watch how God is moving in all of our lives.  I pray you pick up a tradition that reconnects you with your loved ones. Sunday Dinner.  Get togethers.  Laugh.  Cry.  Create memories.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

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If I Listened to Society, I Would Have Never Succeeded

Children like me are not supposed to graduate from high school early.  They are not supposed to go to a great college or university.  They are not supposed to finish and get their dream job.  They are not supposed to get dissatisfied with their career and go back to a great college or university for a second degree.  They are supposed to have a baby out-of-wedlock but they are not supposed to marry their child’s father.  Children like me are not supposed to own a home, complete a second degree and have opportunities to choose from.

If I listened to society’s message about being black, motherless, fatherless, poor or a mother before I planned, I would have never succeeded.  If I listened to society’s message about the value of an education at HBCUs, I would have never fought to stay at Howard every semester and would not have went back to Howard, declining scholarship opportunities at other law schools.  If I listened to society’s message about balancing a family and your dreams, I would not be investing all of my free time into making my dreams turn into a reality.

Society has a way of shaming, demeaning and humiliating women, mothers, poor people, minorities, working parents, those who are not sexual conformists or sexual purists, and anyone who attempts to advocate or speak up for these groups.  The messages that are highlighted in mainstream media, backed by “policies” and shown through biased images oppress, silence and discredit these groups. The instant and ease of access to social media, video recording and outlets that connect millions of people together have only begun to shed light on the truth of who we really are and who we can become.

YouTube videos, blogs, Instagram and Twitter hashtags have connected people from different walks of life who have endured similar experiences.  These mediums have allowed us to see that many of us are more alike than we are different, that we are powerful and we are beautifully complex and interesting. We have been exposed to amazing people with unique backgrounds, survivors of horrendous crimes and minorities who are making a difference in their communities locally, nationally and internationally.   We are beginning to accept that poor people are not the enemy and breastfeeding in public should be supported and not shamed.  We are applauding working parents, stay-at-home moms and dads and those who chose to do what makes sense for their own families at that time.  We are beginning to accept that civil rights should be equally applied to everyone despite who they love.  We are respecting the talent and value of a person despite their sexual identity.

The exposure to the possibilities of life and the truth of our existence has transpired because we have stopped listening to society.  We have taken control of our stories, the images we consume and strengthened our power by rejecting the limited scenarios that we have been offered to choose from.  Our power is to be feared.  An open and aware mind cannot be controlled.

They said I would never make it.  They said I should not go to college.  They said I would not finish college.  They assumed I would never find a job.  They thought I would become like my mother.  They wished that I would give up.  They hoped I would stop believing. Their words, thoughts and wishes did not work against me because I did not listen to them. I have succeeded because I did not allow them to define my success.

Stop listening. Succeed.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.