Trigger Warning: There is some discussion of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and depression in this article. The views expressed here are my own.
Recently, I watched some videos on YouTube about the DeBarge family. Several of the family members had some success as the musical group DeBarge in the 1980s. I have seen other documentaries and read articles about the history of this family, but this telling of the DeBarges’ story sat with me different. The YouTuber I watched is a good storyteller, but even if she had been terrible, the Debarge story is sensational enough to have had the same effect. In short, the children suffered unthinkable abuse at the hands of their father. Most of them grew up to become addicts, marry abusive partners, and even abuse each other.
Like many people, I used to hold the belief that you could only blame so much of your present on your past. To a certain extent, I still believe that is true. But, with all that I have learned about human behavior, psychology, and the human body so far, I now know better.
A few weeks ago my daughter and I were at the grocery store and saw that they had several plants outside that were on sale for 50% off. We purchased a succulent and a strawberry plant.
Since the peace lily I inherited from my late Uncle is still alive and well and I find that taking care of that plant to be therapeutic, I decided, why not? Let’s see how this goes.
It hasn’t been quite a month yet, but I figured it’s past time for me to re-pot the strawberry, at least. It was looking like it needed some new life.
I need all the prayer and good vibes I can get. I’m hoping that my green thumb will grow along with this strawberry plant.
I live in an apartment, which is another factor in how well this plant will grow. Maybe I’ll get a UV light. I’m not sure. This is yet another project on my ever-growing list of projects.
Another stop at the Family Dollar gave me the bright idea to add two more plants to the collection. It would be different if I at least had a balcony to set the plants on, but I don’t. I guess I’m just determined to have a garden somehow. Good plant vibes, please!
I think most people can agree that 2020 has been interesting, to say the least. In my case, I had my fair share of highs and actually prospered where many people struggled in the midst of all the mess, but I have also suffered great loss.
Just before the pandemic I lost my mother to heart failure. A few months after she passed away I lost an uncle, her baby brother, suddenly. As of this writing, just a little over a month ago I lost another Uncle, the last of my mother’s living siblings on her maternal side and one whom I cared about dearly, to cancer.
Through all of that, if you’ve skimmed one of my more recent posts on the blog or Instagram, you’ll know that I spent some time as an over the road expediter. During those long drives cross-country I was able to catch up on some reading via audiobooks. One author in particular I had started reading was Mitch Albom. I had heard of him quite some time ago and had started reading his most well-known book, Tuesdays With Morrie, but never finished it until I listened to it while I was on the road. That led me to listening to another book of his called The First Phone Call From Heaven.
As I sit here now contemplative and curious of all things spiritual, I have another book of his called The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I’m not new to spirituality. My mother would’ve told anyone that I was gifted, chosen, or blessed with some gift. I’ve taken the route of candles and tarot cards but I’m very familiar with the Baptist church and non-denominational Christianity. I try to let god tell me who it really is rather than people. Still, I certainly believe there is an afterlife and now I have several angels I can call by name.
The books by Albom that I have read so far all deal with living, dying, grief, and love in some way. I started Tuesdays with Morrie long before my mother passed send only recently finished it. There were many lessons in that book about love and loving while you have the opportunity. I’m interested to see how many more ways Albom can express that sentiment. I haven’t written a book review in quite some time, but I’m looking forward to writing this one. I’m feeling like writing something, anything, is what needs to happen for me right now.
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I am understanding more and more why many people treat plants like children. This Peace Lily that I inherited from my uncle who recently passed away has been receiving almost as much attention as my actual child.
There’s something very satisfying and therapeutic about nurturing a plant and watching it grow. I just got back home after being away for a few days and came to find that it was very sad and wilted. With some water and a little extra sunlight it has perked right back up and I’m happy. ☺️ Maybe I’ll get another live plant eventually.
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Where have I been? Where am I now? Those are very good, potentially philosophical, questions.I have been away from my blogs for quite some time, but I have still been writing. As of the writing of this little personal essay, I was touring Paisley Park yesterday and I am leaving my hair behind in a hotel trash can outside of Minneapolis after I decided on a spur of the moment big chop.
My job as an expediter literally takes me across the lower 48 states of the USA and most mornings when I awake I have no clue where I will be by the end of the day. It is a fairly decent-paying job that has allowed me the opportunity to see many landmarks and beautiful scenery, but it comes with its fair share of stress and I lose the ability to be the hands-on mother that I was before I started driving. However, my daughter is part of my reason for working this position.
I’m looking towards more entrepreneurial endeavors in the near future. This post is the first I’ve been able to bring myself to write in months. I haven’t been able to commit myself to pulling out my laptop and putting in the work of updating my blogs. There was just no room in my head. Today there is. I don’t know if it is courtesy of the wellness planner I bought for myself, the budget planner, the new vehicle I just purchased for myself, the tour of Prince’s house or the fact that I took a pair of scissors to my hair, but I feel good. I have been writing a few poems and thoughts in both my digital and physical notebooks, but I think I’m finally in the mood and mindset to begin posting them again. I think that’s where I am. I’m in a place that feels good. The good place.
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Today I stood still for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. It was a long 8 minutes and 46 seconds. I committed to the 8 minutes and 46 seconds in honor of a man that I did not know. I did it in honor of many men and women whom I did not know, but who have perished in similar ways. During those 8 minutes and 46 seconds I thought about how terrifying it must be to spend at least half of that time pleading for the most basic necessity and seemingly human right, the ability to breathe.
A few days ago, I couldn’t breathe. It wasn’t because someone had a knee on my neck, but it was because I was in a group discussion about someone else having a knee on their neck, which led to the discussion of several men and women, specifically black men and women, black like me, who have died at the hands of the very people who are supposed to protect. It has been happening for years.
Many of us thought that 2020 would be much better than it has been so far. Coronavirus, murder hornets, threats of war had us all rethinking that. Now the blatant reminders of the undying racism in this country are here to further rub salt in the wounds that the other traumas have left. It has got to get better.
We can pretend to be blind to the fact that in 2020 racism still exists, but I’d only be lying to myself if I did that because I have experienced it firsthand on numerous occasions. It has got to get better.
Police brutality, even if one were to factor out race, is a huge problem that needs to be fixed. A lot of people have died at the hands of police when death wasn’t necessary. The 8 minutes and 46 seconds that an officer had his knee on the neck of a man lying face down on the ground with his hands handcuffed behind his back was more than excessive. It has got to get better. There are too many names to name, however I will name one of the men who have been the topic of many conversations recently, Mr. George Floyd. My heart aches for you and your family.
The past several months have been very trying. I’m very close to my mother and now the doctors have lost all faith that she has longer than a few weeks left to live. I’m holding on, reaching, grasping for anything that might prove them wrong. My mother is a fighter. In the meantime, my sister and I have to fight for her until she is well enough to fight for herself. Unfortunately, my already shaky finances have suffered even more because it is difficult to physically care for someone who can’t care for themselves and go to work at the same time. To add insult to injury, I woke up this morning to see that my car had been repossessed in the middle of the night. It’s rough.
Back in August, I wrote a post about staying motivated during hard times. I need my own words now more than ever. To all the caregivers out there, just know that you’ll make it. I know how hard it is.
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Update: On January 9, 2020 just before dawn, my mother took her last breath. It is still hard for me to breathe sometimes knowing that she is gone. I will carry on.
UPDATE 02/20/2020: On January 9, 2020, my mother took her last breath. It is hard to move forward without her. I will, though.
UPDATE 12/17/2019: Since initially writing this post some things have changed. Doctors have lost faith that my mother will fully recover, however, my family and I are still trying to keep hope alive. As of writing this, my car was repossessed due to non-payment because of days I missed from work to care for my mother. If you feel it in your heart at all, or if you would just like to support this blog, please donate to my PayPal or CashApp using the links below. Thank you.
This is something that I’d normally post on my health blog fit2bemyself.blogspot.com. However, I figured this is a message that could apply here, too.
Life gets tough sometimes. And it is in those tough times that it is most important to take care of yourself. Speaking from experience, one of the most stressful and emotionally draining things that a person can experience in their life is watching their loved one decline and face the possibility of them dying due to health problems, some of which could have been prevented with a little more self-care.
For the past several weeks, I’ve eaten more than my share of hospital vending machine food, as if I needed any additional inconveniences to make eating healthier difficult. Watching a life deteriorate while trying to maintain my own life and bring up a child’s life is hard. Add to that financial troubles that make going to my favorite fitness classes nearly impossible. My haircare has also fallen by the wayside. How do you stay committed through all that?
Well, the good news is that things have turned around for my mother and her health has improved. My overall diet has not, but I have made a commitment to staying active, even when I can’t go to my pole dancing class or I’m not in the mood to go to spin. I hit my step goals on a more regular basis now. I try to hit my water goals every day. I take my multivitamin and probiotics every day.
Overall, this entire ordeal has made me look at life from a different perspective. My current job situation has made me more appreciative of what I’ve had before and more humble about what I currently have. I’m just glad to be alive. Today I am going to work a little harder on the hair care aspect of my self-care because both my hair and my psyche definitely deserve it. However, despite the obstacles I face attending fitness classes, I have no excuse not to move, especially since I am physically able to do so.
Ways to help maintain/achieve good health:
Stay hydrated – Drink at least 64oz of water daily but aim for half of your body weight in ounces. It makes sense because our bodies are 40-60% water.
Get plenty of sleep – Aim for 8 uninterrupted hours every night, if you can.
Eat more vegetables, less fried foods, and fewer desserts
Take a multivitamin
Walk as much as you can, if you can – If you are able to move, do so. Several of my relatives on my mother’s side have been diagnosed and/or have passed away from heart failure. However, it is possible to live a fulfilling, healthful life for many years with this condition with healthy eating habits, regular exercise, and appropriate prescription medications taken consistently.
I’ve eliminated the excuse of not being able to exercise at home because I bought my weights and yoga mat a long time ago. I also have consistent access to YouTube to find workouts when I don’t feel like making up my own. I realize that not everyone has that privilege. But if you have the luxury of the internet, use it for your health.
I know all of that is pretty basic information that many people have heard from numerous sources, but the most basic common sense information is what some of us need to hear every now and then as a reminder to do better. I’m not a doctor, but I am a certified fitness trainer and I work to educate myself through reading, listening to podcasts, and watching educational videos. I know enough about how the average human body works to know that those basic things will help keep it healthy. Every body is not the same because some people are born with health concerns or disabilities. But most of us would do well to stick to the basics without getting caught up in specific diets, fads, and methodologies.
From a personal perspective, I can speak about heart disease, diabetes, and sugar addiction. Congestive heart failure is what inspired this post today. Heart disease is not always preventable, but if you have the opportunity to avoid it, I suggest taking it. Watching my mother go through the ups and downs that she has over the past five years since being diagnosed hasn’t been fun. I’m sure if she could press the reset button on her heart and have it be strong and healthy with no worries of arrhythmias, blockages, or outright failure, she would. However, without putting too much of her business out there, some of her troubles might have been avoided had she taken better care of herself, followed doctor’s orders a little more closely, and simply loved herself more.
Take care of your hair and skin. Move your body. Stay hydrated. Take care of yourself and stay committed to keeping yourself fit and healthy.
I came across this quote today as I browsed my social media today and it was truly appropriate and on time for the thoughts that had been going through my mind today. One of my greatest fears, before I began to seriously put effort into this blog and before I published my novella Reflection in the Music, was that no one would understand what I was trying to say in my poetry and my stories and/or that people would hate it. Eventually, I had to have a little talk with myself, a talk that I have to have with myself every so often, about what I want to achieve, what it’ll take to achieve it, how to not sweat the small stuff, and how to take negativity in stride.
This year has been full of trial and error. I set some goals. I achieved some of them. Regardless of the type of feedback I receive from here on, I feel a thousand times better about myself than I did before I pressed the submit/publish button and put my heart and soul out there for the world to scrutinize in the form of my blog and my book.
I still have yet to publish Sunlight, Coffee and Roses, but it is coming soon. The agenda for January & February 2017:
Design book covers for the ideas that I have in my head for future projects.
Publish Sunlight, Coffee and Roses
Continue spreading the word about Reflection in the Music
As emotionally draining as this year has been, I’m glad to have experienced. It has been a time of growth. Indeed, it has been a time for taking steps forward into success and freedom. It has been a time for defining who I am and what I represent.–what represents me. Thankful for both the trials and the errors, I take every word I receive in constructive criticism and make improvements in how I present what I represent. I’m proud of the work I did on my books.
The original book cover
Though I neither wrote nor published this poem this year, the feelings I expressed when I wrote it still ring true today. Thank you for reading, commenting, liking and sharing my work. I look forward to sharing even more with you from now until forever.
Sometimes I feel like crying
Sometimes I feel like dying
At times it feels like the whole world is lying
Deceiving me, saying my dreams can come true
Work hard and pay what’s due
I work til there’s little else to do
Yet still I feel so blue
Awake day and night
With times so tough
Sometimes my work just isn’t enough
Don’t work, don’t eat
Work all the time
Defeating poverty is a feat
Low wage at old age
Times still so rough
All that I do, yet still
Love-life so lonely
Gave away my all when all was my only
Feelings that I cannot shake
My heart and mind so full of stuff that nothing
Nothing ever seems to be enough
Conquer it all
I will not stall
I will reach out and touch
Something that’s new
Someone not so blue
I will conquer
I will touch
My work, my passion is never too much