Saturday, December 29, 2007

"Just Fine" Mary J. Blige My Warrior Queen Theme Music

RESOLUTION 2008: THE YEAR OF LOVE AND HAPPINESS

I love making resolutions. I usually make one for the year and work like the devil to keep it up. I never make it so challenging that I fail within days. I like it simple and personal. For 2008 I am going for GRAND! I am going for THE WOW! I am going to have a list of things. My list is solely about ME. Not my kids, not the world, not my community, not my church, not my "true love"friends. Just me--centered in self. So here goes:

  1. Health is Wealth--living a fitness plan that will get me fit and healthy. Go Vegan!
  2. Write. Publish.
  3. Launch new business venture(s)--create new revenue streams/get my hustle on!
  4. Create a meditation/alter in my bedroom.
  5. Focus on personal development; expand my mind; reach for a higher consciousness, through books, lectures, blog discussions and whatever else I find interesting.
  6. Seek out artistic venues (movies, theater, spoken word) to check out and participate in.
  7. Travel.
  8. Love, fall in love, be in love, be open to love, create love, live in love.
  9. Enjoy my "right now"
  10. Give up worrying and live happily in my faith.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

IT'S ALWAYS JAZZ SUNDAY: I AM DOING ALL MY OWN COOKING

I am cooking everything myself this year for Christmas dinner. For the past 10 years I have catered my holiday dinners. I did this not because I can't cook, quite the contrary, I am a chef by trade. I am a formally trained chef. I catered holiday dinners because I hated being stuck in the kitchen while everyone else was having a good time. I catered holiday dinners because I hated being exhausted with all the preparation, planning and shopping for EVERYTHING by myself. It just made sense to pick-up items fully prepared from Restaurants that I loved to dine at. So my now-estranged husband and I would make a menu and order. I was happy, he was happy, our friends and family were happy.

Usher in sweeping change; reversal of fortunes; limited resources--ah make that no resources. I am back to prepping and planning and preparing food...and I am loving it. Let me make it clear, I do not expect to take this on every year. But this year I am. Not because I am totally broke--because I am, but mainly because there is a sense of divinity in making a meal and sharing with loved ones. My friends are amazed and anxious to see what happens. Yes, they know I have skills, but a full Christmas feast...well that is another story. I am ready. I created a budget, I have poured over countless cookbooks at my house and online. I have narrowed it down and created a menu. I shopped for the freshest ingredients and have begun the prepping. Even my kids are fascinated with my focus--they are ready to help and I am going to let them.

So here is my menu:
Roasted Turkey, stuffed with apples, garlic, thyme, oranges and onions,
Jazz Stuffing--not quite traditional, but not haute cuisine either,
Potato and Sweet Potato Torte
Potato Gallette
Sauteed Collard Greens
North African Spice Carrots
Mediterranean Herb Green Salad
Vegan Baked Macaroni and Cheez---this is made without cheese--it is delicious!
Vegan red velvet cupcakes for dessert

Friday, December 21, 2007

FAITH FORWARD FRIDAY: I KNOW NOW...FOR SURE

I have been having these great moments of clarity around the current state of affairs that is my marriage. What I am beginning to realize is that once I take off the everything-was-bliss glasses and put on my this-is what-it-is glasses, I see a much more accurate view of the total marriage. When my estranged husband moved out and left us, I was so wounded. It was as if someone kept punching and kicking me while I was on the ground. He, on the other hand, does not see it that way. He has no hard feelings about it. He said he prayed and prayed about this and his answer was clear...leave. Now I am not one to challenge any one's conversations in prayer with God/Higher Power/Deity/Witch Doctor. But I do know he has no regard for my care and concern. You see if someone loves you they do not hurt you, they do not leave you in crisis or disregard your feelings. His leaving was not about me, but more about him and what he was not capable of dealing with. I own my contribution to the demise of our marriage. I was thinking that perhaps my actions were the larger contributor to the ending of our marriage. But in reality he has some deep rooted issues that were bigger than his love for me and what we were building as a family. I always understood that all marriages have tough times and I was fully committed to riding out whatever storm came our way. I believed in my vows--they were my shield and my blanket in the most difficult of times. He, however did not feel that and I suspect the strain of all that was going on, was too much for him to handle. As my "True Love" friends say--"He just did not have the capacity to go any further" Marriage and the commitment of marriage is about love, but more importantly it is about character and truly living the vows you take and make with another person. Sex is easy, romance created, but long lasting love requires diligence and kindness all the time. This revelation has freed me and allows me to see my estranged husband not as some romantic character from a fairy tale; but as a flawed human being who is trying to figure out his place in the world. We are on different tracks. I am clear about who I am and I am clear about the kind of woman I want to be. He has personal development work to do. At some point we all have to answer the basic questions: Who am I ? and what is my purpose? I already know real abiding happiness isn't tied to salary, homes, cars, multiple partners and status. I now know my happiness lies in making the world a better place. I know what my worth is and I know what I value. I wanted my husband to be at my side, so I pushed and pulled and carried him, hoping that the real him would show up and be ready to roll with me. This is my short comings, working on his potential and ignoring who he was really and fully. I totally ignored who showed up and tried to make him into my ideal and I think for awhile he bought into it and then woke up and realized he was lost...with a broken compass. I am changing and I feel myself letting go of him and the dream of him. I have a new dream and it's rooted in authenticity, happiness and faith. I wish him all the best on his solitary journey, and I can't wait around for him. I know that now...for sure.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

TRUE LOVE TUESDAY: TRACKING PERSONAL GROWTH

I am beginning to see change in my life. Just reading past posts from this blog I see personal growth. I am not as fearful as I was when I started this blogging back in June 2007. I have jumped a few hurdles and ready for the next. I mean I am confident and excited about all the possibilities of right now. The New Year will be upon us and I am thinking with reverence about all that happened to me in 2007. It was tough, I can't even sugar-coat it. I was close to suicide, I was overwhelmed with fear and doubt and shame and grief. I couldn't breathe and I couldn't focus. But the whole time God was whispering. I barely heard God above all my mess. Each moment both joyful and painful held it's own magical lessons for me. BE STILL. BE STILL. BE STILL. Just by re-reading my blog posts I can see when I heard GOD and I began to change my perspective, my attitude and my mind. My faith grew stronger as the days went by and no matter what came at me and God knows, a lot came at me, I was able to let GO and LET GOD.
I am growing in my faith, I am growing as a woman, I am growing as a mother, I am growing as a person who loves life.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

IT'S ALWAYS JAZZ SUNDAY: SISTER-FRIEND JOY

JB is my new Sister-Friend! I actually sort of knew her from church. I mean I saw her every Sunday for a few years, we were polite to each other and often would talk briefly about raising children. Nothing earth shattering, nothing that would make us pay any attention to the other. But something divine happened, the first Sunday on my release from Danbury Federal Prison Camp, we saw each other at Church and she greeted me joyfully and somehow we got onto the subject of blogging and entreprenuerism. WELL! we had a lot in common and not just blogging. Turns out she is in the process of divorcing too. So we started having lunch on Tuesdays to sit and talk and support each other. We take turns preparing lush meals with real silverware and dishes and fancy glasses-- the works! She is amazing, well accomplished, super smart---like intellectually smart and gorgeous and funny. Now I know many of my friends do not want to appear in my blog--they do not want their business all over the Internet--My friend Ron has already smacked me around about this and he doesn't care that I have changed his name...but I digress. Anyway my Sister-friend JB has added a level of support and comfort that I did not expect or see coming. Tuesdays with her has made my marriage-is-ending moments more than bearable. She has added another voice of reason and common sense to the choir that is my network of beautiful "True Love" friends. My marriage ending is unbearably painful, I mean PAINFUL! So her sage advice always carries me until the next Tuesday and before I knew it, I have gotten through a month of Tuesdays! This is truly the season of wonder, mystery and JOY!

"You can't depend on someone with a broken compass to chart your course" JB.
Amen.

Friday, December 14, 2007

FAITH FORWARD FRIDAY: FAITH, FRIENDSHIP AND A SNOW STORM

It is the small gestures of kindness that fosters my belief in God. It is the unexpected gifts of friendship, and caring that God uses to light my path. God as the director and producer of my life has given me a starring role and has given me a cast of supporting characters to make this journey a success.

Yesterday could have been a mess. There was a snow storm and I had no groceries and I needed to get to the store, and school was cancelled . I called my estranged husband the night before to see if he could give me the weekly money, of course he wasn't home--as far as I can tell he did not spend the night at home. So of course I was wounded by that. I spoke with him once he got to work to see if he could meet me--of course he had a bit of an attitude and said maybe he could meet met at 10:30 am. The storm was slated for midday I wanted to get ahead of it. But I needed the money. So earlier that morning about 7:30am, my newest Sister-friend JB called me and said I was on her mind. She offered me some money and offered to come watch the kids while I run to the grocery store. At first I was no, no, no then I conceded. Now shortly after I hung up from her, my Soror dropped off her beautiful children and gave me money so that if my estranged husband didn't come through, I could at least get a few things to tie me over. My sister-friend JB arrived with her beautiful child in tow, handed me money, took over the breakfast detail and shoos me out the door. I get to the grocery store and I get all that I need. My estranged husband calls me on the cellphone and says he can meet me. I meet him with my groceries in the car. I did not need him. I got home just before the storm started.

For me yesterday was a big deal and represents a turning point in my life. I had faith that everything was going to work out. I lived my faith yesterday in a way that I have never done before. I did not panic and I did not cry or feel helpless. I accepted God's help without Resistance. My Soror and my Sister-friend came to my aid without question. I accepted their help graciously and without shame. I am all the better for it. This is what love is all about. This is how we are all connected on the continuum of time and space; each of us in fellowship, working for the divinity.

I have all that I need to move me forward. I know in my heart and mind that I am destined for a happy, abundant and full life. All is as it should be.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

NIL

Lately friends have been gently hinting that I ought to test the dating waters. See what is out there. (Sigh) I have not given this any real thought. Oh yes I have fantasized about mind-blowing sex or some chance encounter with a dream lover. But to actually think about dating someone and going out and having light conversation with someone with the possibility of a love connection...NO! I mean I am a good looking woman, winning smile, charming personality and a great sense of humor. I am sort of smart and sort of well-read and sort of intelligent. I believe I am a gem. However, in addition, I am a newly minted felon who is on home confinement until March 31, 2008 and then probation for 3 years. This is not an attractive attribute. I mean come on, I am not so sure I would date me. Now I am NOT posting this because I am in need of a confidence booster...OK maybe a little. But I do know that this is going to be a huge obstacle for someone to deal with. I have a lot of shit I am dealing with and who would want to get in bed with all that. (SIGH)

Yesterday I was over at Sojourner g who's poem Nil moved me to a place of longing. The poem is haunting and drags me to a place that I was not prepared to think about. So here I am thinking about life after marriage. Sex after marriage. And dreaming that I will be the object of someones desire that is so beautifully expressed in the poem Nil. (SIGH)
I know all is as it should be and "True Love" will find me...when it is time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

TRUE LOVE TUESDAY: WE ARE NOT OUR WORST MOMENTS: MY THOUGHTS ON MICHAEL VICK

I am not nearly as well versed in all things football as my SisterLo, she has that locked-down. She and my two brothers are dyed-in-the-wool football fans! I know enough to talk intelligently, however, I do know a great deal about the federal sentencing process and publicity, public opinion and drama and yeah, going to federal prison. I am in no way condoning cruelty to animals, that is not my deal. I believe we are all worthy of grace. We are all worthy of love and redemption. Mr. Vick will serve his time and what he does with his life now, during and after his release is up to him. Everyone has an opinion, and some believe they have some sort of moral obligation to weigh in and tear down. I know how it feels to be the object of scorn, ridicule and humiliation. The press can be brutal and will fan the flames of public outrage. At the end of the day the lessons Mr.Vick learns are his and his alone. Yes, this is a cautionary tale for us all about so-called friends and unholy alliances. But in the quiet moments it is his ultimate lesson to learn. There is grace and redemption for him as it was and is for me and you. It is my hope that he uses this time to become more of who he is meant to be and who God intended him to become. To fully recognize that no matter what is said about him that he does not have to accept it. As my attorney said "We are not our worst moments"

Monday, December 10, 2007

FEELING GOOD;GOOD FEELINGS ABOUND

I am in a good mood right now. I have a few projects looming on the horizon. I am excited about them because they are authentically mine. They are projects that will hopefully give me some financial freedom. As it stands now I am beyond financially challenged. I mean I am broke! And all the wolves (read bills) are held at bay for the time being. As I said earlier I am laying these burdens down. That doesn't mean I sit twiddling my thumbs, it simple means I have done all that I can do and I must let God direct my steps. I have faith that I will come through these difficult times...hell I am coming through right now. I am still standing. None of this mess has killed me. None of this mess has broken me. I believe being a mother of 4 and having "true love" friends has saved my life. I can not just wallow in my own ego driven mess, I have others to think about. I have children who depend on me for their care and concern. I cannot just walk out or leave or not be mentally present. Realizing this is comforting and pushes me forward. My children have to see that I can take care of them. I do not and will not give up. It isn't in my nature to accept my life as it is. There is more ahead and I just have to keep moving forward. So today I am feeling good and good feelings abound.

Friday, December 7, 2007

FAITH FORWARD FRIDAY: UNEXPECTED GIFTS

A few years before my Mother died, she gave me her china set. I have loved this china set since I was knee high. So when she turned it over to me I was ecstatic. I couldn't wait to show the china set off and use it. Well, I must say, I can count on one hand the times I have actually used it. My reasoning was always, I have no place to store it. So when I got married and moved into our first house, I put up funky shelving and up went my china. Fast forward 12 years and into a new house for the last 6 years the china never saw the light of day. It sat boxed in my dining room. I would, of course out of reverence and remembrance of my mother take out 1 or 2 pieces during the holidays. So one day this week my neighbors were cleaning out their basement, they had a complete dinning room set that they wanted to give away. They knocked on my door to see if I had any use for a dining room set. I said yes! It came with a huge 2-piece hutch, dining table with leaf, and 6 chairs. I lovingly cleaned the hutch and happily unpacked my china and placed it in the hutch. Now I have no idea where I am going to be living in the new year. But right now I am here and this is still my house and I am treating it as such. Seeing my china in its own place makes me happier than I have been in a long time. The dinning room set was such an unexpected gift I never saw coming. Tis the Season!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RON!

Today is my bestest friend Ron's Birthday. He is a few years older than me! But he swears he looks younger...no he doesn't...close though!

I am dedicating today's post to him and our friendship. He has been my big brother, the father I never had, the strong shoulder to cry on, the strong voice of reason when I was losing my mind, the one who stayed on the phone with me all night --the night before I had to self surrender to prison, the one who remembers my birthday and thinks I am just the craziest person ever, is always just a phone call away day or night. He has been a good person to argue with--nothing is ever personal with him. He is the one who always had a kind word, the biggest cheerleader and the staunchest supporter---second only to my Sister Lo. My friend Ron is the most honorable person I know...and I know a lot of people. He is funny and irreverent and smart, and witty and nice. I am always trying to "hook" him up with girlfriends and soros and he is always telling me to mind my own business-- "I can get my own dates-Thank you". He can, he does, I am just a meddler and he doesn't seem to mind. We have been friends for well over 18 years and the time has flown by. I can't imagine what my life would be like with out him. He is so dear to me. My world is a whole lot richer because of him. Happy Birthday! to my bestest friend Ron. I am raising my glass in CHEERS TO YOU!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

TRUE LOVE TUESDAY: "TRUE LOVE" FRIENDS

So much emphasis is placed on romantic love and the sexual expression of that romantic love. But really, it is good friends who stay with you through thick or thin, good times and bad times, for better or worse. The marriage vows ought to be said to good friends, rather than to someone we think we are so in love with. No, I am not angry or jaded or even disillusioned. I am very clear about this. My marriage has ended but my friendships have stood the test of time. The folks that are my "True Love" friends know me, understand me and still love me as I am. Isn't this the love we all want. I know I do. My love for my "True Love" friends is satisfying and deep and sacred. It is this love that comforts, and heals; sending me into the world stronger, wiser and braver. I am lucky, blessed and humbled by the love of my "True Love" friends for all the days of my life forever and ever.
Amen.

Monday, December 3, 2007

HERE'S THE PLAN: MY LAST YEAR FAT!

There is something to be said about starting a wellness/fitness/weight loss plan on a Monday. It gives you a starting point. For me this key. I didn't binge or overeat on the weekend. I just started planning this new attempt at losing weight. This is MY LAST YEAR FAT! I am putting forth a grand effort. So here's my deal: Get back to tracking my progress on my SparkPeople site--look to the right. I will talk about my weight loss goals and feelings there. I will get 60 minutes of exercise everyday. I am swearing off all alcohol and drinking only water until May 08. I am serious. My goal is to be down 50 lbs by May 08 and another 58 lbs by October 08. I want to go into 2009 108 lbs lost! This is not ambitious and I am not doing any fads or fasting or quick fixes. Just old fashioned common sense: Eat Less, Move More! Off to the scale I go for a beginning weight check and then every other week. I will go to the gym--since I have membership to Planet Fitness which I need to use since it is paid for. This is my moment and I am taking it.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

IT'S ALWAYS JAZZ SUNDAY: I AM MY OWN BEST SUPPORT

My son Gregory got up this morning sick. I mean throwing up sick...YUCK! Today is Sunday, they sing in their church choir and it's "Stone Soup" Sunday. We aren't going. I called their father to see if he could come over and sit with Gregory while I took the other 3 to Church. He says OK but can I be back by 12 noon--he has something to do. Stone Soup doesn't start until 11:30 am. I am annoyed. He knew today was special, but of course what he has going on ALWAYS trumps what is best for OUR children. So my brother--who is always there for me and the kids said he would come at 11:00 am to relieve their father. My Brother has no problem dropping whatever he has going to take on my kids--each and every time I have been in need of childcare he has raced to the plate and stepped up. Then I just decided , forget it. I will stay home, we all will stay home. I am tired of bending to their Father's shit. He lives 15 minutes away and can't seem to come see them on a regular basis. He has a cellphone and can't seem to call them. Last week I told him this was last week I would hunt him down to talk to his kids. I am done trying to hold it down for him. Trying to explain his behaviour. I am done trying to make this work for him rather than for the kids. Sure he loves them, but talk is CHEAP! Maybe it's unfair to ask him to drop his plans for the sake of his child. But I do it EVERY TIME! And being late is different than not doing something at all.

I am taking a breath. I am refocusing my energy and redirecting my thoughts.

I am not giving this anymore energy. I am letting this go and I am not allowing this negative chatter to take residence in my heart and mind. In this moment I realize that it's not about being right or being the better parent. I am kicking my ego to the curb. I will do what needs to be done, joyfully and happily. My focus is my love for my children and my new found independence. I know I am on the right track because this morning was the first snow. I was dreading snow, but seeing it this morning warmed my heart and put a smile on my face. God is working for me. So my holiday music is playing in the background, Gregory is tucked into bed with a bucket nearby, Margeaux and Khalil are watching TV and Briana is reading in her newly cleaned room. Talk about a good day. It doesn't get any better than this. This is joy.