The bright side of Irma: nature, butterflies, and love

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Trump won and a message from my niece

I was shocked, appalled, disgusted, hurt, and downright angry when, at 4:30 this morning, I read that Trump had won the election.

After reading reactions on Facebook and watching a few minutes of a Christmas movie, I drifted back off to sleep. When I awoke around 7:30, the angst had passed, and I resisted the temptation to re-engage in the endless television coverage for the rest of the day.

Still, I am deeply saddened by the underbelly of hate and vitriol that was revealed and characteristic of Trump’s campaign. It also saddens me that America is now a laughingstock. Maybe she’s getting some comeuppance for her years of duplicity at home and her “righteous” and unwelcome interference in other countries, huh? And if anyone thought hate and racism were dead in the USA, Trump’s campaign and his subsequent victory are a reality check. CNN’s Van Jones referred to it as ‘whitelash’ against a Black president. He nailed it.

I’ll take comfort now, though, in the fact that before deep wounds can be healed, they often have to be reopened and cleaned first. That’s been my experience anyway. And while the process might be excruciatingly painful, it is undoubtedly worth the effort.

As disappointed as I am, I’m heartened that more of us are awake and are endeavoring to make a difference. My niece Ceilene penned her feelings about Trump’s victory in the following poem. She’s only 13.

Trump Wins – A Message✊❤️
by Strangefruitcc

Anxiety feels my body
I feel the fear in the air
I feel like I could be shot down right now and nobody would even care
The color of my skin is seen as a threat
So if I’m killed justice will never be met!
But brothers and sisters don’t even fret
We’ve been through worse let’s not forget
We are at war but it will not be won by fist
We need to organize and come together and I promise we can and we will get through this!

Police: Help or harm? Relief or fear?

During the ride to my sister’s house in yesterday, my niece had to pull off the freeway because her infant son appeared to be choking. Caution lights flashing, we parked on the shoulder of Maryland’s very busy I-95 freeway between the far right lane and an entrance ramp.

While my niece sat in the back seat comforting her son, flashing lights flooded the vehicle as a state police cruiser pulled in behind us.

“Oh good, someone’s here to help!!”

BUT no, our collective response was fear, not relief.

So, while the officer approached the car and my niece went into defense mode, we resolved to stay calm and explain the situation. After all, we wanted to survive the encounter.

The officer approached the front passenger door, flashlight in hand, and asked if everything were ok. My niece hurriedly explained what had happened and defended that she needed to get her son home quickly. The officer—who seemed confused as I think about it now—retreated without offering assistance, and we went on our way.

Yes, it’s sad that our first response to seeing those flashing lights was fear instead of relief.

It might sound melodramatic to some, but it’s the harsh reality for a people who’ve been brutalized and killed during minor traffic stops.

The best thing that ever happened to me

It’s 18 degrees with a 1 degree wind chill here in Maryland this morning, and I’m thinking my planned haircut will have to wait.

What I’m doing in this moment, though, aside from writing this post, is listening to Gladys Knight’s ‘Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.’ I can think of a few fellas I can say that about, but that’s a story for another day…if ever.

I thought of Gladys’ song while making coffee this morning and considered asking Siri to play the video for me. I could hear the lyrics, but I didn’t know the name of the song and figured it would be more trouble than it was worth to ask her to find it.

Fifteen or so minutes later, despite my menopause-induced forgetfulness, the song continued playing in my head. I googled and found the video. After listening to it a couple of times, I googled the lyrics because now I was hearing the song in a completely different way. Instead of remembering the fellas who’ve impacted my life, I was feeling God and the way HE’s impacted my life.

It could be said that I’ve had a pain-filled life—heck, I’ve said it more than a few times myself—not only because of menfolk but also with losing my father at fourteen, for the terror my siblings and I were subjected to those months before and after his death, and for the subsequent repressed emotions I carried all the years since.

Thankfully, after some serious prodding and after doing a few things that were totally out of character for me, I decided to release it all, and it was the best decision of my life! Why? Because it afforded me the opportunity to open doors I wouldn’t have had the courage to open otherwise and because it allowed me to free the woman I knew was trapped inside, buried beneath decades of repressed anger and grief.

How grateful I am that I came to see the bigger picture of it all: that all of my challenges equipped me to live this one life the way God intended—with the freedom, boldness, and courage to which I continue to aspire.

It was difficult, yes, but I can’t even be mad at the fella whose actions tapped into my grief and let me know it was there. I’m just glad that God graced me the courage to face and work through it. I’m glad, too, that as good as the season is that I’m in now, the best is still yet to come.

What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you? Think about it and if you’re so inclined, let me know in the comments below.

New Years Day 2015 and 2016

As I entered 2016, I was wrestling with a situation that was causing me considerable stress. I had prayed for clarity but until New Years morning, I was still very much embroiled in the emotion of it. I’d asked God a few days prior to help me trust His will with regard to the situation, but I was still wrestling. This morning, however, I resolved to trust God with it and remove myself from that roller coaster of emotions. God’s peace then showed up a little while later as I perused Facebook. Following is what I posted after reviewing events of New Years Day last year:

This was my situation on New Years Day last year—spending the morning on Tybee Island after bringing in the new year in Savannah with my sister Lyn and her family. I also got to spend wonderful time with cousins I hadn’t seen since the early 80s when they were in elementary school. Last night I brought in the new year in Maryland with my other sister Sheila, her family, my nieces Jennifer and Kariesha, and their families.

My journey since June 2010, when I resolved to learn to trust God completely, has been an amazing one, and I’m grateful every day for the adventure that is my life. I’ve released things I never thought I could live without and in return I’ve gained much that I can’t imagine living without. Letting go can be hard, yes, but I’ve discovered that trying to hold on to what we need to let go is much harder. It took me a few “minutes” to get that but the moment I accepted that “God’s got me”, the skies opened up, and I began to soar!

I may not know what tomorrow brings, but I know who brings tomorrow. What I know, too, is that God loves me and as His daughter, I’m destined for His absolute best; all I need do is allow Him. My new year wish for everyone is that you let go of the fear, trust God, and let Him do what He does: equip us to live our best lives and take us places we’ve never imagined!! Happy New Year, everyone, and more of God’s peace and His many blessings!!

After writing that, I came across the following on the wall of life coach Cassandra Nkem-Nwosu:

“Whenever you find yourself doubting how for you can go, just remember how far you’ve come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won, all the fears you have overcome.” –Unknown

Then there was the Marianne Williamson’s quote I posted on my wall last New Years Day:

“Think of one person you are tempted, for any reason, to withhold love from, and pray for their happiness. In that moment, your pain will stop.”

I closed my eyes, prayed for happiness, and was enveloped in peace.

Journal entry: “Powerful! Amazing! God!”

What an amazing year!

My Cross-Country Road Trip & Beyond

Reflecting on 2012, I can still feel the excitement I felt the day that I finally knew without a doubt that I could do whatever I wanted with absolutely nothing to fear! I didn’t know at the time that a cross-country road trip was in my future, but I was ready for whatever the Universe was sending my way.

Michael Jackson, Gary, INI started entertaining the idea of relocating and decided that a road trip would be an excellent way to explore possibilities. I decided eventually that a cross-country road trip would not only be an incredible experience but a great photo opportunity as well. Little did I imagine, however, the impact it would have on me as I drove out of my sister’s driveway that January afternoon. I was anticipating the experience of a lifetime without a clue as to what lay ahead, and that was perfectly fine.

I made new friends…

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December 14, 2013: Feeling the blessings

I came across this email this morning written almost two years ago and was reminded that there’s value in every experience and that by learning to see and embrace it, we can walk away without bitterness and fear of being hurt again.

I’m sitting here feeling the blessings and being thankful for the big picture, God’s plan for me, and all He’s doing to prepare me for it.

I’m also reflecting on all the things for which I’m thankful; all the challenges that moved me out of my comfort zone to create the new and improved me; all the people I’ve met along the way who’ve made a difference.

I’m remembering the hours we spent in the park, the laughter and fun we had. I remembered the ugliness, too, but I’m thankful I was equipped to deal with it without allowing it to embitter or become a part of me. So yes, I’m thankful for the experience of you.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m excited about it!! My life right now may not be the one I planned and while I have moments of doubt, fear and uncertainty, I’m seeing and embracing the value in where I am…the challenge of discovering me and abandoning all the stuff that no longer serves me; the difficult conversations I’ve had that I would’ve avoided in the past; for the truths about myself that I’ve had to face; and for meaningful interaction with family and friends that opened me to new and deeper relationships.

Thanks for being a part of my journey, and it’s my hope that I added something to yours.

For nearly forty years, I repressed emotions. As I write this today, I’m free of the grief and sadness I carried, but I discovered Sunday that I’m still carrying a residual of that behavior: the need to hide my tender and affectionate side from my family.

It all began, I think, as a way to protect my younger siblings from the fear that tormented me those weeks (or months) we lived home alone while Daddy lay dying in that Savannah hospital, needing Mama by his side. As my therapist pointed out several years ago, once you begin repressing certain emotions, you end up repressing them all.

But as I think about it now, I was always shy and self-conscious, the root of which is a subject for another day, running to hide when folks came to visit and dreading being called to answer questions in class.

For now, I’ll just accept this latest revelation as an opportunity to release this thing that no longer serves me, the thing that’s standing in the way of my being my whole self.

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