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“Periwinkle” Has To Go!

Dear Disney.. and Precious Moments. I am writing to you to protest the  Happy Birthday Train. It features Disney Princess from Snow White to Merida. Problem is someone is left out. Can you guess who..yep once gain Tiana did NOT make the cut. How and why does this keep happening?  12 opportunities for a princess spot on the train and Tiana gets sidetracked by two “fairies (Tinkerbell and Periwinkle).

I have to be honest the working princess story line was NOT my favorite; along with the fact that she ultimately ends up marrying a guy who does not look like her or share her ethnicity ( he was however brown). Once again we have to be grateful for “slim-pickins”. Earlier this year it was”leaked” Tiana was getting new skin and hair permed for her cameo in “Wreck-it Ralph 2”. The outcry was so loud that Disney went back in and made Tiana look like she did in HER film. The African American Princess we have come to know and LOVE!

I started on my mission. I promptly called Disney(and had Precious Moments on my list to call next). It may seem small and insignificant but where does our sense of self-esteem begin?  I will give you a “for-instance”I have a granddaughter and she is beautiful, brown and sports NATURAL hair.  I however wore my hair straight and chemically processed for 30+ years. Yet, I kept her hair in braids for ease as well as beauty. One occasion I requested her(now our) stylist leave part of her hair out in a puffy bun. It was gorgeous! I told her how pretty she was and how good her hair looked.

One weekend she spent with me she asked me to twist her hair up. I asked her did she like her hair. She responded “Yes but I just want it twisted.” I read much more into”yes but”. I thought of how OUR stylist over the course of 2+ years once asked if I ever though about going natural?” Without a pause I promptly answered,”No.”  Me who constantly commented on how good natural hair looked on other women, me who constantly spoke of how wonderful it was for black women NOT to be forced to wear OUR hair in a fashion that made “others comfortable or how we were no longer relegated to “other’s” standard of beauty.  As I twisted my little granddaughters hair I though of what Addison saw everyday. Her mother’s hair was in a straighten style but it was natural, her other grandmother wore her hair straight and me  her “Abuela” straight as possible with no curl.  Again where does self-esteem start, what message was this little girl reading?

3 years this year since I got off what is fondly known as “creamy-crack”. Do I miss it? NO! What do I love. I love getting out of bed and my hair is the LAST thing I have to worry about. I love rainy/drizzly weather and walking past women getting their umbrellas into position. I love driving with my windows down. What does this have to do with the Birthday Train ? Well it has to do with perceptions and self esteem. One MUST be happy with oneself for that sense of self to be positive. So Disney I love you BUT I love being brown-skinned with hair that is not necessarily straight unless I choose for it to be. There are MILLIONS of little girls who look like me and need to know they are fabulous JUST AS THEY ARE! Leave Tiana alone looks-wise, but don’t exclude her because she looks different. Hell, Ariel has a TAIL!

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Bad Things….

Every single day, I now think about the statement which begins with “Bad things”. Yes Bad things happen to good people, but that does NOT mean we accept this truth. It destroys all we have been taught, all we have been led to believe and it makes us question all we THINK we know.

Growing up we learned of consequences and rewards. We learned very early, very quickly we wanted to be on the receiving end of the good stuff. We learned if you do the “right” thing, if you follow the rules and instructions, this was the recipe for success. Who among us did NOT want to be on the receiving end of the positives in life.

However, for no apparent reason, against the odds, contrary to what you have learned observed, thought, a curve ball is thrown and there is an upset. You turn to all you know for a reasonable explanation.. and depending on how far away from what you KNOW this is, you may just look for ANY explanation. Just when you thought you had this thing called life figured out, you thought you had the formula, this happens. Your very soul is challenged and put to test. Then the questions begin to arise. What is it really about? Is it worth it at all? What motivates us to go on in spite of these things we deem as mishaps, errors, unfortunate events?

I can offer you the obvious; Life happens. Yet that is not even acceptable to me. I want something more. I want to know how and why we are expected to go on . We do not understand and we want to. We need to make sense of this thing called LIFE.

Shall I lie to you and say, when someone wrongs me I am satisfied to allow fate or God or both to deal with this individual or at the very least feel comfort in knowing no matter what, I did the right thing and they will have to face what ever justice there is. HELL NO! I want and need to see justice served, even though that does NOT always happen. Therefore, I go out of my way to do the right thing, I avoid stepping of others toes, I keep my opinionated negative views under wraps, as much as possible. Now that last part is key; “as much as possible”, by whose standard, by whose gauge do I base my statement on? Certainly not mine, for I am flawed and sway in an unfair direction.

Then the unthinkable happens; the bad things find me and I get handed a punishment so very unfair and there is no appeal available. I am angry, I am hurt and I have NO ONE to direct my protest to. Then I step back and ask, was this a punishment or was it just LIFE, life happening.

Loss -Part One

So you are angry, but who is your anger directed at? There is this empty feeling and there is nothing that can fill that void. Are you in a dream? From one minute to the next I am on the verge of tears. My child was a source of joy, yet he was taken from me. How am I supposed to think of this any other way?

This process is terrible, it is going on an unplanned journey to a place you did NOT want to go to, not knowing what to expect.  My son had a good death” quick, pain free and with his love.  In my effort to comfort myself I tell myself this time and time again. Yet I am now painfully aware that I do NOT have a place or a person to direct this anger in me at. In saying and believing this, I have only the unknown. There is no comfort in that.

Am I running away from the pain, damn right I am. Am I trying to go through the pain to feel better, absolutely. Am I running straight to the pain, yes an affirmative response again. The problem is no matter what door I decide to go to at any given time, there is just plain old hurt behind it. I want the pain, the hurt, the anguish, the sorrow to stop. The problem is I FEAR that when these sad and awful feelings leave me, I will be walking away from one who was a source of sheer joy for me all of his days

Meggie, M’Lynn, Florida, and Me

As I did my best to navigate through yet another day feeling some-kinda-way, I thought of strong characters, I thought of women and I thought of our relationships with God. Eve did us in ladies, and the sooner we accept this the better we will be.

Enter my first character Megan “Meggie” Cleary. Meggie is a favorite character from the novel, “The Thornbirds”.  Meggie is the pretty, lone daughter in a family of strapping boys living on a well-to-do aunt’s station in Australia. Her life’s significance is summed up by her mother, Fiona,” What is a daughter but someone to make the same mistakes you already made”. Wow..But was her mother right(read the book to see the similarities). Meggie lived out her mother’s life without ever really knowing her story. Ultimately, Meggie fell in love with and seduced a Holy Man..a Cardinal. She went on to give birth to his son, unbeknownst to him, and settle into being happy with her chosen life.  Never truly having the man she loved, but having a love relationship of sorts, having their son who was proof of such an intense beautiful love, that gave her a sense of being contented.

M’Lynn Eatenton lived a bit of a charmed life. Settled into ultimate suburbia; small town life in Louisiana. Married, children, comfortable. Her only snag was her diabetic daughter, but with this strong stable mother in her life her Shelby was virtually unaffected. Until Shelby fell in love, married, and was advised NOT to have children. She of course did and while she gave M’Lynn a beautiful healthy grandson, Shelby’s health suffered.

Finally, we have Florida Evans the struggling matriarch of a 1970’s Chicago family. With a husband who is a constant victim of the economy and three children to raise in a housing project, Florida utilizes her common sense, street smarts, and faith in the Lord to keep her family together. The shows ratings keep the family on air for years but the family’s bad-luck streak seems unending. Finally, life is looking up for this hardworking do-on-their-luck but ever faithful family. Husband James gets a job “down south”. So-long Chicago.

Many a Christian will tell you God loves us all. Well God may love us all, but he is also pretty angry with all us girls. I am not being funny, because I do not have a lot to laugh about right now. While the three characters I mentioned are fictional , there is a degree of relate-able realism attached to each of them for me. Perhaps you can relate as well. No good deed goes unpunished was what we “jokingly” said of the Postal Service. I submit do we as the “descendants of Eve ever get a full pass for what  she did. The ultimate betrayal, the deed that DAMNED mankind and additionally cursed women, but where is the forgiveness

Here is the end game. Meggie loses her beloved son to the priesthood by his choice, and to life by divine intervention? While saving someone he drowns. Meggie defied God by taking that which was not available to her..a Holy man. Meggie said God was greedy. M’Lynn gives her precious daughter one of her kidneys to make her life better after Shelby’s give out but she falls into a diabetic coma and is eventually taken off life support. M’Lynn questioned God telling Annelle she’d rather have her daughter here on Earth with her. Florida in the midst of a farewell party receives a telegram that bluntly tells of her dear husbands death in an auto accident. In the midst of brief favor as well as it’s shadow, Florida cursed God..”DamnDamnDamn”.

I am overcome with grief. I am searching for answers.  I say in my quest, then there is me. I have always been aware of my short comings, my bad behavior, and I was willing to take the responsibility for these things. Just as the characters I spoke of, I know what I have done, I know how I feel, and now I must find a way to live with it. For I  too mistakenly thought I had served my  penance.

 

Angel

I knew he was special from the moment I laid eyes on him, but then what parent does not say that.

A free spirit, he was happy and he made people around him smile. My only complaint, the only problem he ever presented was he was too sensitive and caring. I knew I was in for battles. I, who did not have the optimism and high expectations in regards to others. How could I have two children who believed overall people are good..just like my father their grandfather.

Life happens, you grow and you change. It was no different for him. I would one day look back and realize everyone has challenges, even chosen ones. Books and movies suggest these special humans live a charmed life, I submit to you they simply live life. I bit my lip and resisted the need to interfere, besides he already had a fighter standing guard over him a “pit-bull” father.

He settled in and the storms seemed to subside, he began to be who he was intended to be. The form changed, the canvas was illuminated. He conquered and completed, worries were put on the back burner. I now settled into a comfort zone.

Silence and calm shattered at 3:25.A.M. on Sunday January 14, 2018. Time both flew by and stood still simultaneously. When the doctors told us they could NOT save him I felt my heart stop, I could not breathe, I could not scream like I wanted to, I could not comprehend. All I could do is look around at his father and his lovely lady collapsing. I had to hold them up, but how  for I was lost in a flood of emotion I still cannot decipher. All I had was hurt and pain, I was drowning in it.

24 hours later I was numb and confused, damaged beyond repair life was continuing on. I did not know how, but it continued just the same. He showed me he was still nearby in a cautious yet undeniable way, he knew I would be a skeptic. Not one act but several.  First it was a subtle “tug on the coat-tail”, followed by stronger indicators, when he had my full attention I simply allowed myself to be encompassed in his essence. It was powerful, heart-wrenching and seemed to go on for an incredibly long time. I left the space feeling there would most certainly be more contact, I had to prepare for the next time. However, when I returned it was all gone. There was no sign of anything, it felt empty as a warehouse just not as cold.

Only something supernatural could carry you from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other. My boy had been here, he lived, loved, experienced, and influenced. I witnessed it from the front row, but now I would argue he was anywhere. The electricity of his life was erased, but it did not feel bad. I realized he was existing at the next level. He wanted to let me know he was here with me, but we now had to exist apart. He knew the only way for me to let go and accept this would be for me NOT to have something to hold on to. I could not have the little or big contact. My child was making me stand on my own and that is when I realized I had been privy to an existence with angel. The time was real , it was engaging, it was powerful, it was beautiful and as all existence, finite.

I will love and miss him; my angel forever.

The Decision Was Yours

If photographs tell a story, the body language is a chapter, why is the conclusion a surprise ending.

I sat across from you and our conversation was practically non existent.  We barely made eye contact, you who I prepare to share one of the most intimate experiences in daily life(eating), yet we have nothing to talk about??? What does this mean? How did it get to this? To me it sounds like the beginning of the end, but what about that surprise ending?

Logic in these situations is non-existent..  Now you want to make nice, now you want to sing “Kumbaya”, now it is different. We should be supportive and respectful, we should let bygones be bygones, get over it. All I can say/ do/ think is when the role was reverse..what did YOU do. Stop telling me I need to be the bigger person, stop telling me about moving forward,  stop telling me about God. YOU clearly have NO knowledge and NO right to even let a word that involves fairness or being right, come out of your mouth. YOU need to hear YOU are wrong and foul, YOU need to KNOW that whatever YOU get it is deserved. YOU made the bed now lie in it. .

I want YOU to understand that when you do someone wrong, when you disrespect someone, IT IS NOT YOUR JOB OR CHOICE OR PLACE OR RIGHT to tell them to forgive, forget, or be benevolent towards you because..well YOU are sorry. More like you are sorry YOU got caught. YOU have done the deed and YOU should get what you deserve..if it is mercy it will come from the higher power, for man is flawed as YOU well know. This did not happen by accident. Are you ready for the consequences?

Lost

It has almost been 4 months since my beloved mother passed. I have not really been able to do anything except go through the motions of life. Seasons are changing yet I am not affected. At any given moment I find tears rolling down my cheeks and a lump in my throat. There is a explosive political climate that I am disgusted with and I have moved it to a back burner, because I am lost.

Upon my awakening this morning, the thought of voting came to me. I felt a sense of understanding regarding people who chose not to, or ones who say,”Why should I,it doesn’t count.” That disturbed me immensely. I began reading critiques of a speech read by “45” and I thought, ” Really? Are people so easily swayed that one well read or improved reading of a speech prompted a feeling of, Well now that’s more like it in opposed to Hum what’s he up to now? This IS the same person and aside from a life changing event or experience, people (“45″ included)are all exactly  who and what we demonstrate we are.

We are being attacked on all sides, our only hope for survival is to continue to fight until this corrupt man and his administration is demolished. Their strategy is to exhaust us and when we are down, when we are taking a breather, then they will really do some damage.While I know I have reason to be lost and taking it easy, I have reason to push forward, light a fire under myself and say, ” The fight/resistance must continue and even as a wounded soldier YOU are still valuable.”

Therefore I am here; here to remind you broken, damaged, and weak I am  STILL here to fight along side of you until….

Eating Brussel Sprouts

Okay I am not a fan, I have eaten them before and feel pretty confident if I never have them again I would be fine with this. What I am attempting to do is present a metaphor that helps explain views and vantage points.

So here is my little story.  I wake up knowing I will be having brussel sprouts. I don’t know when or how but I know I will have to somehow eat something I don’t like, something that has sickened me, and may eventually bring about my demise because I have had an allergic reaction to it. You may ask ,”why do I eat the brussel sprouts?” When I tell you I live with the someone who knows all this about me and brussel sprouts but refuses to believe me, take my feelings and concerns to heart, and out and out disregards me. This someone justifies this treatment because they have convinced themselves that I will build up a resistance to my reaction to brussel sprouts, or it may eventually cause a more long terms negative affect. In either case, comfortable or not, I serve their purpose. I imagine that your response is well you need to get away from that someone?

Leave; It is not that simple. Moving alone is both complex and difficult. Change hard to digest.  I can tell you this the place where I dwell, is as much mine as it is theirs. At first I was both dependent and beholding to this someone. In spite of the fact I was treated badly from the beginning of our relationship, I did what I had to do to survive. Times have changed, expectations are different, but attitudes are holding steadfast. The only thing I really need from this someone is a FAIR chance or at least the appearance of FAIR. That is a battle I am well aware of and able to fight, but no longer am I accepting of the blatant. My someone now seems HELL BENT  on  being blatant. “Put me in my place”, if you will. This tells me there is no care or concern. You now leave me no options but to look out for myself, protect myself, fight a “no hold barred” match.  Are you ready?

You who have had home field advantage, you who have change the rules in the middle of the game, you who have had time to prepare unaffected and uninterrupted by the realities of survival in a hostel environment. You are a gambler, but you have always gambled with the deck stacked. I have NOTHING to lose, are you sure you want to play roulette with me now? Check that pantry out, there really is something else in there besides those brussel sprouts.

Albert and Lorene’s Children

Just like it was yesterday, I remember the snow glistening early Christmas morning. It was before 7 A.M. and since we had already opened up our presents at home it was time to cross the street and see what Grandma Cates, Uncle Bill, and Aunt Elinor had for us too. I lied to mom and said I saw lights and movement. Who did I think I was fooling? I was willing to take a chance; for as long as I could remember you really didn’t get in trouble during Christmas break, unless you did something really bad.   In a few hours we’d all be at 1240 Nebraska Avenue with our big fabulous family. Relatives would travel from all over to spend a few days with the Cates Matriarch. I did not realize how amazing it was to be in the same house with so many people who were so closely connected. I did know it was fun.

In the years that followed we would give up the snow and cold for short sleeves and sunshine of California. We spent years with my mother’s mom now. Her family was equally large, but the connection was different they were not as close. My dad still loved Christmas; from the horrible sugary sweets he loved to purchase at Sears in downtown Inglewood to  the outdoor lights he could never decide on which color he preferred. Mom always looked at the clean-up. As their offspring we gravitated toward dad’s preference. The older we got the less compelled mom was to decorate. Somehow we always managed to convince her we’d help clean up “this time”.

We lost dad almost 29 years ago, mom left us this past October. Like the song says,” Christmas Won’t Be The Same This Year”. We are left with our memories and our hearts are filled with sadness because we miss our Mom and Dad. As an adult you don’t think of being orphaned, but it happens just the same. In our adult bodies, our child minds look for the two people who could advise and guide us through this trauma, but they are nowhere to be found. People tell you reassuring comforting things, but you are NOT reassured nor are you comforted.  We are children sitting on the sofa in age order waiting for Mom and Dad to walk through that door and make everything alright again.

The Only Thing Slowing Down is YOU

On the road to get healthy and back into my size 10 I sped past a couple who I see daily. She wears a visor and he holds her hand tightly. Most of us are out here at this time of day to accomplish the same type of goal. No one has the time to take a leisurely stroll, and why is that. Less than 100 shopping days before Christmas, 2016 is rapidly moving towards its end. One minute there aren’t enough hours in the day, the next we are wishing for the weekend to hurry and arrive.  We cannot have it both ways you know, in spite of what we may think we want.

I realize I am NOT the best “blogger” (by virtue of the sheer definition of “blogger”) around. I actually have turned this into a part time personal journal of sorts but I feel like I am a decent writer and I have some worthy thoughts to convey to my contemporaries and anyone who may want to take a listen. Therefore, I say I write around writing. This piece was originally started in September and I am just getting back to it. My mother passed away which was and is devastating, there has been a presidential election, and the holidays ARE UPON US! When I say The only thing slowing down is you, it is from a personal place. Of the three events I mentioned of the two that have taken place, I was NOT prepared for either. Of the one remaining I still reside in that place of being ill-prepared.

Life keeps happening and I keep being surprised by it. Why, is it because it happens so quickly? No, life is happening at it’s original pace. I, on the other hand, am beginning to see and realize the true problem in this equation is ME. Maybe you can see it in yourself as well.. do I have a solution? No, I am like the commercial for “LifeLock Credit Protection ; I monitor things make you aware but when it comes to fixing things, I am not the one. I think and hope through drawing attention to and possibly the creation of conversations about, one day WE collectively will find solutions. For now I just open a window and let the light shine through.

Now next time something sneaks up on you, next time you forget something was happening, chock it up to speed and time..your speed is to slow and time is waiting for no one. Get on board or get left behind.

 

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