Monday, September 28, 2009


"What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think"
~Ralph Waldo Emerson"

I haven't written in here since March. I felt like I was walking through a maze instead of living. So much had happened. After burying 5 family members in what was such quick succession, I felt as if I had lost my way.

Fast forward to today. I still feel like I am in some sort of a haze and some days I still feel as if I still can't find my way. So below you will find the ramblings of a mind on fire. It might not make much sense, but it is where "my" head is right now; self-observation, and pondering.

By taking a closer look at myself, I realized that I had gotten caught up in what many call "The American Dream". The pursuit of a better life. The pinnacle of success. This idea has been around for centuries and "created" by those that decided what "they" thought was the best way to live . They set out the roadmap, and told us what it is we should be looking for. It has led to what is like a barren land

I find it amazing that to this day, so many of are still trying to find this elusive "Nirvana". It is why so many are on anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, and abuse drugs and alcohol. It is because, so many are trying to reach the goal set so many years ago. Everyone is heading in the same direction, and many are ending up someplace that they don't really want to be. It has led many to a barren land with little sense of refreshment.

Because we allow society to dictate what is: in, right, correct, and "normal", we set ourselves up for much disappointment. We are afraid to not appear ambitious, or as workhorses. We don't want to be labeled; slackers, or lazy, or no accounts. We don't want to be "different". We are afraid to stand up for what we individually believe in.

And so we get up each morning and go our separate ways to try to either better ourselves or to eek out some sort of living so that we can "fit" in.
In order to fill the voids and to pacify ourselves against the drudgery, we "buy" things that keep us tied to the jobs that we hate and people that we'd rather not be in the company of. All in the name of "The American Dream."

So what I don't understand is why we let other people decide what is the "right" way to live life. Why does success have a definition? What has happened to "individuality"? If I want to live in a tent in the woods and catch fish, and live off the grid, why am I considered eccentric? If I want to Homeschool my children and grow our food, why am I defined as a part of a "new trend"? If I'd rather not have the latest in video games, cell phones, computers, etc. why do people say that I am living in the past? If I am not infringing on the rights of others, why can't I just be myself and live the way that "I" want to live?
So many people are burnt out and unhappy . Yet, they can't find the way to what would truly fulfill them and bring them at least some contentment. Why? What is the missing piece of the puzzle? What is going on? And it is not just the pursuit of The American Dream, but so many other things that put us and keep us in "life ruts."

What has happened to families working together for the benefit of the unit? So many fathers (and many mothers too) are just abdicating their responsibilities in favor of "personal" fulfillment. When one person decides to just do the minimal or decides their contributions will be limited, it puts undue pressure on the other spouse, partner, or loved one. If there are children, the children suffer because the overtaxed parent simply cannot do it all and something will be sacrificed. With so many pressures to just make ends meet today, if one family member decides that they aren't willing to go the extra mile, then the whole family goes nowhere. That, or the person taking the brunt of the responsibilities burns out . How can one find true contentment and "truly" live if they are encumbered and without support of their efforts?

Will we ever find a way to really "live" if we don't teach ourselves to consume less; especially when our resources are less? Are we buying and accumulating "stuff" because we really don't know what we want in life, or how to get it? Do "things" just give us that temporary sense of contentment? That false "rush" that makes us feel that things are ok just for that fleeting moment? Because as long as we accumulate "stuff" we have to pay for it. And as long as we have to pay for it we will have to go to jobs that we detest. And as long as we go to jobs that we detest, we will be unhappy and turn to medication or other vices to cope. And it is through this despair that others will reap financial gain.

So what is the answer? I don't know that there is just "one" answer for everyone. Contrary to popular belief we are NOT a "One size fits all" Nation. It is our differences that make us a unique "unit". It is our uniqueness that we have abandoned in favor of "collective mediocrity". It is because of the mindset that "more is better" and that "we" are better if we have more, that causes the divisiveness among us, and the strain upon us.

I am of the belief that any "dream"should be defined by what makes us want to bound out of bed each morning. The things that we are passionate about, the things that we find meaning in. And no one should define what those things are for anyone else. It has to be a personal endeavor. But as we go about finding what makes us "light" up,there are still some particulars that need addressing. What so many of us seem to leave up to chance.

You have to KNOW what you want before you seek it. You have to be solid in your beliefs. You can't just "romanticize" things but have to know in the deepest part of your soul what you feel you need in order to thrive.

If you know that the life that you desire is not conducive to a family and children, PLEASE don't get married and encumber someone else. If you KNOW that you aren't "family" oriented and that the responsibilities that go along with it are not in your character or make-up, be a man or a woman and do not subject others to the limitations that you set for yourself.

If you just have to be with someone, make SURE that the person that you choose is as close to your value system as possible. Don't fall for that; Love is blind, love conquers all, they'll change for me, bullshit. Because it isn't, it doesn't, and they wont!! If you don't align yourself as close as possible to someone that has similar passions and perspectives, you'll spend your life floundering. And life is just way to short to constantly have to start over in it. It would be better to just be alone than to be with someone that has no clue, enthusiasm, or respect for the things that are important to you. Because there is no perfection to be found in ourselves or other humans, it is imperative not to make foolish choices, or ones laced in emotion.

Once we figure out what we need to thrive, we need to be aware of the sacrifices that might come along with it. We have to KNOW what we are "honestly" willing to give up, and what we are not. We have to erase the picture that society has created and paint our "own" portrait. We have to be willing to take chances and to fail. We cannot succeed "collectively" as long as we lack "individually".

American Dream? For me, there isn't one. I don't know that I want what everyone else aspires to. All I know is what ignites my passion. And these are simple things. I have to stop losing my focus on this. I have to stop allowing myself to be steamrolled under the constraints of things that have little to no importance to me. I have to set and "maintain" a "Personal Dream". A dream that embraces my children and those that make up my family. I have to continue to put in the work that will bring the components of my passions into my life "now" as I work towards the rest.

I find that every time I deviate from that path, I find myself in a place that I have no desire to be. It leaves me feeling suffocated. Short of breath. And if I ever stopped would "my" dream ever come true?
Till next time...

Friday, March 27, 2009


I have not been to my blog in a while. Mostly it has been due to school and just life in general. Lately it has just been due to something that I cannot comprehend. I probably would not have come here tonight but received an alert and an inquiry as to if I was o.k. (Thank you Smallpines). At first I didnt' know if coming to my blog of all places to discuss this would somehow minimize it. But in the past, my blog has been a place that I have been able to come to to share, think out loud, and to use as a catharsis. Plus, I have always believed that when someone takes time out of their busy life to ask of your well being, it is only proper to respond.

I was asked if everything is ok and it is with deep pain and regret that I must say no. I am numb. I am devastated. Last Saturday, one of my sisters and two of her sons (10, 11)
were brutally murdered. I could have just said that they had died, but with what they endured that explanation would have just been too simplified. They didn't just die, they suffered. It is being called a case of domestic violence. They will be laid to rest this Wednesday.
Something like this is very hard to accept, process and come to grips with. Hard to believe. It was and is just so senseless. I don't really know what to say.

But, I will encourage everyone who stops by here to love yourself, love and respect those closest to you and embrace each and every day. Life is short.

I will be back when I can. Till next time....

Sunday, March 1, 2009

"Priorities and Bottom Lines"

It has been raining here for the past three days. As I look outside of the window this morning it is snowing!!!! Snow is something of a big deal around here as it doesn't do so very often. My little one immediately wanted to go out in it. I love to see the innocence of childhood.

While I did incur some minor flooding, the constant, steady rain this weekend put me into a most reflective mood. When it rains, I like to go outside in it. It is during these times that I have some of my clearest thoughts. It is in the stillness of such moments that I find a keener sense of purpose. I feel my most grateful, I am my most thankful. I can truly live in the moment and take in everything around me. I can block out the "what ifs", and the "what ares" if only for a moment. I wish that moments like this could last forever. But alas, they can't.

I haven't been around "blogville" for a while. It seems that things are speeding up more than slowing down. With school, the boys, making sure the finances, and the pantries are in order, blogging has just not been given a place of priority.

And speaking of priorities, such things have been foremost in my mind these days. For me, that is akin to a stocked pantry, freezer, bills being paid and making sure that we have our "needs".

We are living in a very uneasy climate right now. Many people are losing their jobs, their homes, a few are even losing their minds. Save for the grace of God, go I. Some are finger pointing, blaming, and forgetting. Unbelievably, many aren't making any changes in the way they have been living even in our economic decline. Many are forgetting that the conditions that caused this recession, or depression or whatever label one wants to add to it, didn't happen overnight, nor will it disappear overnight. And allowing fear and anger to be our reactions to it won't make it disappear any faster. In fact, I am of the opinion that such reactions only serve to rob of us of the energy that we will need to put into place our own individual means of survival.

I think we would all do well to be at least thinking about a way to put into affect "habits" that will make our going less stressful in "uncertain times" as many are now calling them.

Because let's face it, without some monies, and the support of one another, our going will be a lot tougher.

Things like bartering, and canning, and gardening, and maybe even sharing residences with our families, and even some friends might become our "new" normal. Are we ready for those possibilities? Personally, I want to brush up on my baking skills. I'd like to figure out the best way if I have to eventually make my own dog food, or other things that I depend on others to supply. But,the most important thing at least for me is to make sure that there is always a roof. For the other stuff, there are alternatives. Those that came before us found ways around the electrical, even the plumbing. But having that roof, just makes dealing with the alternatives that much better.

The time has come upon those of us that garden to get our plans into action. Last year's garden has taught me what I need to be aware of this year. Not to overplant, and not to underplant either. My Spring Break will be coming up in a few weeks and I hope to take that time to get things into the works. Lots of clean-up in store for the preparations, but it has to be done. Lots of indoor re-stocking and de-cluttering needs to be done as well. Preparation is the key.

It all comes down to priorities and bottom lines. The bottom line is that we need to have some things as priorities. Because when it is all said and done, the only "hand" that we will be able to truly depend on dangles out of the bottom of our shirtsleeves."We" are the answer to the problems that we face. We will have to call upon our strengths, our energies, our wiles, and our knowledge, to put into affect a "Lifeplan" that will serve our own individual needs and those of our families.

So no matter what economic or other situations that surrounds us, if you are warm, and, fed, and among your family this first day of March, be grateful. If you still have a roof and a good chance of keeping it, be thankful. If you have enough money to buy gas to fill your tank this week, or insurance for medicines that you need to keep going, rejoice. If you still have a job, or savings, be humbled.Work hard now to set up a contingency plan that you might need later. None of us knows what tomorrow will bring to our doorsteps. Continue to find ways to take care of yourself, and even in times of scarcity, don't be too afraid to care for others. Best to all, Till next time...

Friday, January 30, 2009

"Happy Birthday To Me"

Yep, it's the big "48" for me today. Nothing much going on just happy to have made it to another year. Yep, whoever made the cake in the picture sure had the right idea. A great weekend to all and "Go Steelers!!!!!" Hope everyone is well,

Till next time...

Friday, January 9, 2009

"On The Mend"

School started on Wednesday for me and the routine begins. The past few weeks have been somewhat hectic, and quite emotionally draining.

My sister was finally laid to rest last month, the holidays ended(Thank God) and I had to really push myself to get back to where I needed to be. I didn't want to go back to school. I didn't think that I could handle it. I just wanted to go somewhere and rest and lick my wounds and not have to deal with much of anything. Unfortunately, my life does not allow for such luxuries so I sucked it up and got past the hardest door to exit; my own.

I decided to scale back on classes rather than not continue, to concentrate on what gives me the most difficulty and to take things from there. I had to set some limits for myself lest I become undone.

I went back and forth with the decision but made a decision based on what is right for me for a change. Not what others might feel is right for me. I have been riding on that train for too long now. It is time to get on another track. "My" track. That means that while I will always continue to be open for suggestions,when it comes to the final decision, I am going to listen to my own voice for a change. I will listen to my own body and learn not to doubt myself or to think that anyone else knows what is best for me. I plan to no longer be so easily moved or swayed to believe that a path that might work for someone else is the one that I should also follow. It will mean not always being so nice and non-combative. I have taught people how to treat me and now I will have to re-teach them. They will be told when they do or say something to me that I don't feel is acceptable. I feel that if I can respect them and their choices I should be given the same respect. Those that don't like those terms can find their way out of my life. I won't miss them.

I need to heal, and rebuild, and renew, and grow and move forward. I have spent a lot of years of my life both caring for and worrying about both my mother and my sister. They are both gone now and no longer need looking after. I can work my way towards relinquishing the guilt of wondering if I was doing enough or if I could have done more. I need to know turn that level of concern to myself so that I can be a better mother for my children and a better friend to those that I hold dear.

So yeah, I am on the mend. It is a slow process and I plan to take as much time as I need to make sure that I heal properly.

It is always the simple things that seem to help my soul to soar. So I plan to stick as close to them as humanly possible.

For instance, today started off very cold in the morning but now the sun is out and the air is warm. I decided to take advantage of it and to hang out my laundry instead of using the dryer. Just getting out there and doing something as mundane as that reminded me that I am on the right track. Most people would scoff at that, but I find it invigorating. I am of the variety that doesn't need diamonds or pearls to make them happy. Ok, maybe not diamonds, because I do have some Pearls that I simply love, but I digress. The point is, sometimes the smaller and the simpler the better. And usually these simpler things are always gems in and of themselves.Those are the things that I want my life surrounded by.

So as the weekend approaches there are things to do that will get done, but I'm not going to beat myself up over them if they don't. One day at a time. 24 hour compartments. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Till next time...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"Catching Up"

It has been a while since I have posted so I figured I would at least stop by and do some catching up. The Holidays are just about over and it seems that so much has happened in between.

On December 9th, I received a phone call that I pretty much knew would come eventually. It was a call letting me know that my sister had died. It was a pretty surreal experience and sometimes it still plays in my head. They never said that she died, only that she had "expired". Expired? What, like a carton of milk expired? Like a coupon expired? Expired? I don't know why that word seemed to bother me so much but it did. But I pushed past that to take care of what had to be taken care of and now she has been laid to rest.

The Holidays for me will forever be a reminder of loss. Around Thanksgiving will always remind me of the loss of my mom and now Christmas will be the marker for the loss of my sister. Holidays are sometimes emotional enough without being tied to these kinds of reminders. But alas, it will be what I make of it.

All in all there wasn't much joy for me this Holiday season although I went through the motions for my children. Still I am thankful each day that I am still here and had the chance to participate even if mentally distanced.

As tomorrow looms and marks the end of another year, I find myself in a reflective mood. I won't make resolutions but I will set goals and plan to use them to make my life more manageable. Next week school starts up again for both myself and the children. I am in no way ready to go back to that stress, but know that resisting it will only add to the stress.

January will also make me another year older and will herald one child's "Sixteenth" birthday. With that will come the desire to drive and a continuing of all the other teenage angst filled situations. Oh joy....

I am looking forward to beginning the Spring garden though. I am already receiving my seed catalogs and am contemplating how to go about this years crops. I am looking forward to that more than anything.

Overall, when I think of 2008 it has been a mixed bag for me. There have been ups, there have been LOTS of downs, but hey, it wouldn't be life if it was anything different right? But the best part is that I found a way to make it through both extremes. And as we face a new year, a new governmental administration, and a continuing declining economy, I think that making it through counts for a lot. To everyone I wish a safe and Happy New Year!! Till next time...

Monday, December 8, 2008


As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.

~ Henry David Thoreau~

This morning in my mailbox was an e-mail from a friend talking about Nostalgia. Many of the things enclosed in the e-mail made me smile. Made me remember. And while those times were not necessarily "The Best of Times" across the board, there were and still are a lot of fond memories connected to them.

Sadly, I don't have many fond childhood memories, after a certain period of my life, but the ones that I do have I have always treasured and protected. Most of them took place during the six years that I lived with my grandmother and the respective summers thereafter.

My family originally resided in South Carolina. It was where I was born as well. I left South Carolina a few weeks before my sixth birthday and would go on to grow up in Chicago Illinois. I remember most of the happiness and safety that I felt disappearing shortly following this move.But that's another story....

In South Carolina there were cousins and aunts and uncles and grandmothers and great-grandmothers providing direction, love, and needed discipline. There were gardens and red clay dirt, and memories that were formed in the kitchen and many meals that came out of those kitchens. Neighbors still looked out for you and were considered "Extended families". You knew that even if your own grandmother didn't see you doing something she would know by the time that you got home because the "Surrogate grandmothers" made sure she got the information. It was double for me because my grandfather's sisters lived right up the lane from us, so there was no hiding for me.

There wasn't a lot of money in the beginning and I remember times when my grandmother would drink coffee so that I could have whatever there was for breakfast. I remember having a bottle fashioned out of a coca-cola bottle and a nipple, filled with coffee. I remember taking baths in the tin tubs now used for feed. There were kerosene lamps and for a while an outhouse. Those were lean times, but I still never, ever, remember feeling like I did without. I only remember being happy.

I remember my great-aunt having my cousins and I pick beans and okra and tomatoes and greens from her garden to have for dinner. I remember the chickens that ran around the yard, the big black cauldron that was used to boil water for washing clothes. I remember feeling sad when great-grandma caught a chicken and either rang his neck or chopped his neck off with her small hatchet. I remeber a pot of boiling water,and feathers all over the kitchen. I forgot my sadness when said chicken filled my stomach at dinnertime.

The sheer quality of the fresh, homemade food was a delight in and of itself. To this day I can still remember the aromas, the tastes, and the absolute love that went into the preparation of those meals.

My grandmother and her mother were maids by trade. Over time, other family members became Educators, Principals, there was a Lawyer, some worked for factories, Coca-Cola, and other trades. Most of those relatives migrated North. My grandfather was one of the first Entrepreneurs in that little town that I grew up in. Eventually, he owned a laundromat, construction company,and was part owner of a funeral home. Unfortunately, he and my grandmother did not make it as a couple and she did not share in his eventual good fortune. Still, he always made sure that if we needed anything, we received it.

As I got older, I never understood why my grandmother and great-grandmother never got upset because they had to work as maids and clean and cook for others. As I matured, I understood that they did what was required of them to take care of us. Pride had its place, but family, family was priority!!! Still, I cannot remember one time when I heard either of them complain. They were a STRONG bunch of women in those days and I always admired that.

My great-grandfather had passed on before my birth, and my great-aunt moved back to South Carolina to live and helped my great-grandmother pay for the two tract houses and the parcel of land that they sat on. This aunt was a FIERCE saver and planner. She always extoled to us the need to save and prepare ahead. She and my great-grandmother took the back house and the front house was given to my grandmother and their brother, who was paralyzed. My aunt, a cousin and myself, were the other occupants. Everyone worked together to make sure that we had a decent life. We would converge to the back house for meals and afterwards, my great-grandmother would sit in her rocking chair and smoke her pipe. My grandmother was a quilter, and my great-aunt would regale us with stories of her life in the "Big City". God, how safe I felt in those days!!! This instilled in me an INTENSE love for family and a misguided expectation that EVERYONE else would have this same love for family as well. I would learn this wasn't so.

I remember Monday morning clothes washing which has ingrained in me a love of hanging my clothes outside to dry. I remember the time that my grandmother and her mother would put into cooking which has developed in me my own love of cooking. I remember being in the kitchen with them and taking in the sights and the smells and watching how they did what they did. Just thinking about it makes me well up. It is that part of my life that shapes the "authentic" person that I am. I know that I cannot duplicate the past, nor do I want to. But I do want to take those memories and use them as the diagram for my life now. They are memories that I cherish and have always loved.

I want to take the values and the wealth of information from those times and imbed them as a part of my life today. I won't do it the same way they did, because times have changed, and we have to move on, progress. Still, those things will be my foundation and will be a huge factor in the choices that I make in my present life.

It's good to be Nostalgic from time to time, but we still have to live in the present. I know that. We have to be realistic, we have to remember ALL that was involved, not just the good things. I know that too. But deep, deep, within me lies the base of my love for the unadorned, the natural, the simple things of life. This is who I am.

For me, those things aren't just a bit of nostalgia, they are home. Till next time...