Dear 2017: Hey boo Hey!

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The end of the year is always a time for reflection.
That trip down memory lane may take you across some good times and bad times but it’s guaranteed to remind you of what you don’t want or want more of in the new year.
As I sit here and reflect on the year, I’m faced with riffling through this mixed bag of emotions.
Don’t misinterpret these emotions as an overall bad thing.
While I didn’t become as rich as Oprah, fly as Beyoncé or acquire that Teyana Taylor body (I just don’t understand how she does it!!) I did come into my own.
I dreamed big enough to scare my damn self, and maybe a few others, in an attempt to accomplish whatever it was I wanted to do. Let me insert here that it was nothing like the glamorization that you see in the films when the main character pulls themselves up by the bootstraps and gets it done.
It was messy. There was sweat, tears, self-doubt, disappointment, anxiety, apprehension and numerous amounts of Ben and Jerry’s when the above became too much.
I quit. Started again the next day. Quit the day after that. Cussed myself for quitting. Started again the next day…. I think you get the pattern here.
I raced against the clock. I raced against myself. I just raced until I couldn’t anymore. Then I would stop for a minute and lace my sneakers back up.
As I sit here typing these words, I can honestly say that between the crying, mental breakdowns, self-doubt and 15 pounds (give or take a few pounds. Seriously, take a few pounds. Please.) I feel accomplished.
Even if I didn’t knock every goal off my list, I feel better being able to say that I knocked one or two out of the ball park and laid the groundwork on several more.
Dare I say that I may even be proud of myself. Just a little. The first step is to believe that you can achieve, right?
It’s a nice feeling.
Even better are the butterflies I feel in my stomach in anticipation for the great things I have planned in the new year. I look forward to becoming and doing so much more in 2017 as I continue to forge my own path in this crazy world.
Perhaps even 25 pounds lighter.
I’m Just Saying.

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Chronicles of a Single Mom #17 – My Child the Teacher

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Anyone who’s had the opportunity of parenthood in some way or another will tell you that it’s a learning experience.
Unlike schools and universities, however, there’s no manual and the life-long experiment that you signed up for doesn’t always go as planned. As a matter fact, 99 percent of the time it ends up the polar opposite than what you expected.
Fortunately, there are moments where little Crayola and Play-Doh covered nuggets are dropped in your path and they’re not as painful as stepping on a Lego at 1 a.m. in the morning.
I had one of those moments Saturday.
After coming back home from doing some work-related things, I’m surprised with the following scene. Picture it: There’s a beach towel in my hallway complete with an open umbrella, two twinning baby dolls and a beach bag. Throw in a 9-year-old girl with a sunhat, shades, scarf, sandals and a sundress.
Yep.
So here’s the story: Apparently she was sick of the weather created by Hurricane Matthew so she decided to go to the beach. (I didn’t’ ask which one.) Instead of dealing with the all-day rain, flash flood warnings and brief power outage she decided she’d create the situation she wanted to be in.
After giving it some thought, the lesson she was teaching hit me. Who knows if it was meant for me specifically but here’s what I took from it.
We, as adults, are often placed in situations that we don’t necessarily want to be in but how often do we actually try to change our outlook? Do we wallow in our displeasure and unhappiness or do we take what we’re given and go to the beach? I don’t mean that we have to go on a physical trip but do we set up our metaphoric Tiki Bar and enjoy things in spite of whatever’s going on?
I’m guilty of letting some circumstances overpower my positive mindset but I’m deciding to not let that happen again. I won’t be spreading any towels out in the hallway but I’ll try and imagine a brighter outcome for anything that comes my way.
Who knew that the person I was tasked with teaching about life would turn right around and do the same thing for me?
Scary, right?
I do agree with her on one thing.
There’s nothing like a sunny getaway in the midst of a storm.
Especially when it promises fruity drinks and a beautiful view.
I’m Just Saying.

Chronicles of a Single Mom #16 – My Political Princess

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At some point the spirit of past feminists and political activists have taken over my 9-year-old’s body. She’s always felt some type of way about politics (blame her reporter mommy) but it seems to have come out even more so this presidential election.
Admittedly, my 9-year-old probably knows more about this upcoming presidential election, or the election process itself, than most adults my age. She’s often watched election outcomes, goes to the polling booth with me and has even watched her fair share of inaugurations.
However, this year something is different.
She seems to have channeled the spirits of Shirley Chisholm, Fannie Lou Hamer, Yuri Kochiyama and Septima Clark, using the experience and knowledge of all four to educate herself and others on the political candidates and their platforms with a little help from Zendaya and the Future President’s project.
I mean the girl is serious!!!
She even asked to go to kidsvoteforpresident.com so she could research the presidential candidates. She knows everything down to their grandchildren’s names and will gladly share this information with you. She pays attention to the Super PAC commercials that run every few minutes, knowing of course that they’re paid advertisements, but she also knows to look up the information to distinguish if it is indeed factual.
It’s nothing to catch her watching a debate, town hall or cable news network to try and catch up with someone on the campaign trail.
Of course she has determined who’d she like to see as the next president but I’ve also shared with her that it’s essentially every American citizen’s right to vote for whom they believe would do the best job running the country.
She’s cool with the whole process except for one thing.
As she was telling me who she’d vote for during KidsVote, I let her know that right now her vote would not be counted in the presidential election so stumping for a particular candidate in her group of friends would not benefit either party.
Why did I do that?!?!
Her immediate response was “What do you mean my vote doesn’t count?” The face she made was what you’d get if you’d told her that Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny (Yes! They’re still real at my house!) was not real all at one time and in that order. For a minute I thought she’d cry or have the fleeting thought of slapping me for merely uttering those words.
After getting over her initial disgust, she politely informed me that things change and while she would vote for the candidate that she’d decided to go with, however, at some point someone needs to look at the voting laws that are in place.
“Why is that?” I asked her. Her response, which scared me a little, was that it was unfair for “politicians to make decisions for children without asking for their input. Yes, some people will come up with silly things like ice cream for lunch and unicorns on the playground but in order to have a successful world for us you have to ask us what makes us successful.”
As I’m picking my jaw off the floor, she crawls off my bed and heads out of my bedroom door. Before walking out, she throws back “that’s why when I’m President we’ll have a kid’s roundtable” and heads back to whatever episode that’s on Disney.
I don’t know whether to be extremely proud or extremely troubled for my fellow American citizens.
Just know that I did try early on to veto the ice-cream-for-any-meal-bill that may be introduced into law in 2041 from your Princess President.
Did I mention she’s heading to the state capitol on a field trip in November? I’m debating whether or not she needs to go with her very own special chaperone.
I’d hate for her to interrupt a session asking common sense questions. After all, she is my child.
I’m Just Saying.

Chronicles of a Single Mom #15 – Dear New Teacher

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A letter to my kid’s new teacher:

Dear New Teacher,

Welcome back to a school year that is destined to be filled with fun, appreciation and an overall awesome time.

Okay. Maybe I’m just describing the first day back to school for me after I dropped my fourth-grader off. I’m not sure.

What I am sure of is that my fourth-grader will talk at times she isn’t supposed to, that the social lives of fourth-graders may derail your lessons plans and that it may get even harder for you to motivate yourself to get to school in the mornings than it is for me to get her there.

With all that in mind, know early on that I appreciate you taking on the not-so-quiet storm that is my child for a few hours.

I appreciate you not taking it out on the kids that you don’t get paid for the many roles you may play during the school year, including mediator, secret keeper, counselor, superhero and, at times, the villain.

I hope that you’re just as invested in my child’s future as I am. I’ve got to tell you; the price is pretty high after all this time. I do hear the future payouts are worth it, though.

It is my goal to help you as much as I can. While I may not be able (or want) to commit to every field trip, I’m sure we can work something out when it comes to snacks, Kleenex and class parties. Maybe a couple dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts in exchange for skipping my name on the chaperone list a time or two. Or a nice Christmas gift for booking the free field trip instead of the $24 option.

Just something to think about.

For what it’s worth, I look forward to picking my kid up in the future and hearing about the awesome day she had and the many new things she learned. I look forward to hanging new art work around the house, posting academic achievement awards and covering up the calorie chart on the refrigerator with exemplary grades from tests and class assignments.

Most of all, I look forward to getting work done without being called every five minutes. Being able to accomplish more than half of my to-do list both effectively and efficiently.

I even look forward to taking some much-needed down time.

Or maybe even a nap.

Either way, I already appreciate all that you’ll do.

Thanks.

I’m Just Saying.

Finding myself… again

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Every few months I get this feeling of restlessness.
I feel as if I’ve fallen down on the job. The never-ending job of mom, journalist, sister, friend, daughter, professional, citizen and woman.
What qualification chart or performance review am I holding to feel that way? None, yet the feeling remains.
Whatever that reason is, it causes me to stop and take stock in all aspects of my life at that moment. Sometimes that’s a good thing (and a morale booster) and at times it causes me to face some ugly truths.
I’m sure that I’m not the only person who’s found themselves feeling this way. There are too many people getting paid off of self-help books for me to be the lone wolf in that forest.
As I get older, I’ve come to appreciate that period of time. I don’t feel worthless. I don’t feel as if I’m not useful.
Oddly, this time motivates me. It’s a challenge to be a better me. Or to at least try to be the best at whatever I happen to tackle that day.
That could be taking on two stories for publication and posting a blog or deciding to wrestle three loads of laundry, while making sure dinner’s cooked before the 6 p.m. PTA meeting.
It’s a push to pour my heart, soul and sometimes anger into whatever I’m doing.
Ultimately, it’s a sign of growth.
It shows me that I’m no longer content with being content. It shows the need for evolution. It shows the need to challenge myself mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally on a quarterly basis.
It shows that I still have the urge to learn, teach, explore and care about others.
Finally, it shows that this is not the end for me. Far from it, if I say so myself. I still have somewhere to go, something important to do, and someone important to say it to – whether they want to hear it or not.
My only problem is which challenge I’ll tackle first.
It wouldn’t be right to expend all of this awesomeness all at one time.
It just wouldn’t.
I have to learn to space the greatness out.
I’m Just Saying.

Chronicles of a Single Mom #14: Shhh! She’ll hear us eating!

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I CAN’T EAT!!
Seriously.
I’m sure that I can afford to miss a meal or two but first I have to actually have access to said meals. In order for that to happen my 9-year-old has to stop eating up all of the food.
She has become the human Hoover when it comes to my kitchen. I can go looking for something and it’s already gone.
The other day she ate two plates of breakfast. I mean toast, bacon, and grits. (She’s allergic to eggs.)
Count them. Two.
Did I mention that she doesn’t even weigh 60 pounds? Not at all.
However, she eats like she’s twice that size and it goes nowhere.
Truth moment: I would be jealous but the strain it’s putting on my purse is ridiculous.
She’s so bad that the sound and smell of food being cooked brings her into the kitchen to investigate. I don’t care if she’s sleep, playing with her dolls or watching television.
I literally poured myself a bowl of cereal in the laundry room the other morning in an attempt for her not to hear me.
Only to open the door and find her standing in the kitchen, in her pajamas, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
Yep.
It’s that serious.
So I’ve calculated that in 18 days she will be back at school where she can eat breakfast and lunch there. Which gives my purse and my stove a break from overuse.
If not, she’ll be looking for job applications to feed her growing appetite. Or she’ll be eating me out of house and home. I’m hoping it doesn’t come to the latter.
I’m Just Saying.

Now what?

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There’s been a lot of prayer lately.
Prayer for officers. Prayer for the victims that were killed by officers. Prayer for the families that have lost loved ones, both officers and black and brown men.
We’ve marched. We’ve had community forums. We’ve blocked highways, called for blackouts and held town halls that have held the ears and eyes of thousands.
People black, white and blue have begged for some type of reform but yet nothing has been done.
So do we give up?
Do we decide that our opinion doesn’t matter?
Do we say that we can’t change the perceptions and narratives that beget fear on both sides of the fence?
Do we go home and give up or do we continue the mission even after we’ve picked up and bagged all of the bullets?
Throughout all of this did we come up with solutions? That’s what we need. Let’s look past the police interactions gone wrong. Let’s not ambush police in retaliation killings. Let’s use our power.
Let’s do what’s necessary to make sure that things like this no longer happens. That starts at the root of the problem, whether it’s systematic and institutionalized racism or sheer lack of knowledge. Call your senators and representatives and let them know what you want. Call your local leaders and ask them what they plan to do to combat the inequalities and injustices that are carried out on a daily basis on in education, employment, housing and government politics.

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I had a conversation about a march that was held in High Point on Sunday. Someone observed the lack of city council members in the crowd. As in zero. Don’t like it? Call members of High Point City Council and ask them why they felt that it was unnecessary to stand in solidarity with the African-American community.

Editors Note:  I’m told that Chris Williams walked with the marchers. Jeff Golden came through on his way to work.

The bottom line is that there are people who can change some of the more legal issues we face on a daily basis. There are laws that can examined, policies that should be reformed and initiatives that could be taken seriously. Our paid representatives are supposed to act on our behalf. If they’re not doing what you feel should be done let them know. They work for you. Not businesses, corporations or the wealthy only. Especially when they accept a stipend from ALL of our tax-payer dollars.

If they can’t do that then perhaps you should look at voting them out so they can focus on doing what that small percent wants them to do. Without taxpayer’s dollars.

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Source: Facebook

Let’s be 100 percent transparent – There will still be people who will hate you because of the color of your skin. There will still be people who fear you because of the color of your skin. You can’t change that. You can make it so that if they act on that hate they will have to face the consequences.  You can show them that no matter how much they hate, it doesn’t run your life and decisions. You can show them that their hate doesn’t drown out your voice.

So again I ask, what will you lend your power to?

It’s easy to call the plays when you’re not in the game.

It’s easy to explain what you would’ve done if you weren’t in the situation?

It’s just as easy to place the responsibility on someone else when you don’t feel like it’s your job.

Want to see change? Be the agent of change. Because standing around twiddling your thumbs does nothing to make sure things these shootings don’t continue to become the norm.

So again I ask you, what will you lend your power to?

I’m Just Saying.