Living and Lessons Learned

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Shante Yong

"Father and Daughter" by Shante Young

I heard that the eyes are the way to the soul. If that’s true, then I love watching  from my children’s perspective the way that their father loves them. Through their dark brown pools are reflections of love, patience and understanding. With my daughter, I see how he has empowered her. She’s a confident toddler; she lives fearlessly constantly looking for new challenges. With my sons, I see guidance and the makings of great men. He doesn’t see me, but I watch them interact regularly; I’m in awe of his ability to inspire them just by being himself.

I didn’t grow up with a father in my home and I’m not envious of my children for having this normalcy in their lives. I’m overwhelmed with parental joy that they get to experience something I never did. And I’m grateful that my better half and I have created a lasting family love that will be passed on to our children for generations to come.

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Here’s an excerpt from my ever-evolving memor….still untitled.

“He really needs to talk with you. I think he’s sick. Please call him.” A telephone number appeared on the screen.  I read the email several times, each time mouthing the words silently. I recently received a message on Facebook from my cousin, she said that my biological father wanted to speak with me – he was interested in my well-being.

Why on Earth does this man want to talk with me? I know nothing about him. There were a few short interactions when I was about 2 or 3 years old. And I distinctively remember spending the night with him when I was about 4 – I can still see him shaving in the bathroom. But his presence wasn’t consistent, my complete experience could be described as transitory at best. He sort of just “showed up” in sporadic moments in my life, each time making promises to me that he never kept. And each time I believed him.

What could he possibly know about me? What could he possibly want with me? Then, as if I were possessed, my fingers deliberately tapped my keyboard and the words “Okay, I’ll call him” appeared on the screen.

I took a few days to mull over the potential of our conversation. I sat in “betweeness” for a while, not quite ready to make the move but knowing that I needed to do something.

“Just let him do all the talking,” Quinton said. “He’s probably thinking the same thing you are.”

I starred at my husband. I was a lucky woman, I found a good one.

“But why now?” I started to feel nausea and slightly irritated. “What does he want?”

“Who says that he wants something? The man just might want a relationship with you. Maybe he’s ready to be in your life.”

“But what if I’m not ready? I don’t know what it means to have a father.”

“It’s too late for him to father you, he may just want to be your friend,” Quinton concluded. “Call. See where it leads but stop analzying this – just call.”

Analyzing was right, my mind raced. I thought about the promises he made to me over the years. How each time, I felt so hopeful that maybe that time would be the time he kept his word. And when he didn’t, I felt rejected and that dismissal wreaked havoc on my self-esteem as a young girl.

I thought about my childhood friends that had fathers in their homes – there were many. Their interaction with their fathers seemed natural. On all accounts, my friends had devoted, caring, nurturing fathers. These men were personally and professionally successful. I wasn’t jealous. I was confused. I just didn’t understand it entirely. And the resentment I began feeling for my own father turned into shame and guilt.

Wasn’t I good enough?

And then at some point, I began to wear it proudly like badge: “no, my father doesn’t live with us.”

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More to follow…

*name changed

Tree of Life

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He who walks with the wise becomes wise. Choose your friends wisely so that you can rise higher and walk in the destiny God has for you. (Proverbs 12: 30; Joel Osteen)

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Have you ever watched, “Inside the Actors Studio”?  The host, James Lipton, has an amazingly cunning way of getting the actors on stage to disclose personal things about themselves. Often with a slight nudge from Lipton, who apparently conducts meticulous research before hand, the response he always receives from his guests is: “How do you know that?” or “Where did you get that?”

I love it.

I thought about me being on stage with Lipton and wonder what meaningful nugget of information would he find about me. What would he ask? And then I thought about who in my life has the ability to recall the obscure nuggets about my journey. It’s not a matter of being vulnerable with someone or being with someone that can recall random facts about your life. It’s about connecting with someone who knows you and can serve as a beacon of truth to remind you of whom you are and where you are in life.

I have a handful of such people that I affectionately refer to as my “root” friends. These are the people that have connected with me beyond the superficiality of a casual friendship. They’ve dug deep with me and are entrenched in my life – forever. I refer to the metaphor of a tree because to me a tree represents life.  I’ve learned that the word “friend” really has lost its meaning over time. There are people that come into your life and at the first sign of trouble they bend or break out – these are your “branch friends” – they’re a dime a dozen now-a-days. Then there are those that will have your back and be your support system, but if there’s discordance between you two then they too break (usually snapping in half); these are your trunk friends. And then there are root friends – no matter what storms are raging in life, they are the ones that provide true support. They hold you up when you can’t hold yourself up. They know the little meaningful nuggets of information about you that causes you to pause and ask: “How do you know that?”

I love it.

Paying It Forward

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What a lovely what to kick off June. My cyber-sister, Dawn, gave me “The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award.”  I consider Dawn my cyber-sister because (a) I’ve never actually met her, I only know her through her blog, she’s an amazing writer; and (b) She’s seems to love cream in her Earl Grey as much as I do.

So in light of receiving this honor, it would seem that there are a few things I need to do:

  1. Tell you seven random things that you likely don’t know or wouldn’t guess about me,
  2. Pass the award on to between five and fifteen of my own favorite bloggers, and
  3. Tell the nominated bloggers that they are nominated…

So without further ado…7 random things …(in no particular order):

  • I love science fiction. Star Wars, Star Trek (all the series), Star Gate, you name it – I love it.
  • When I was younger I thought I’d replace Dan Rather as anchor of the CBS news (don’t laugh…yes I’m dating myself here…it was the 90s for pete’s sake)
  • I probably know all the words to every television theme song from 80s and 90s. I was a latch key kid, what can I say.
  • I’m tremendously proud of my Gullah heritage – I wasn’t at first (and I’m quite embarrassed to admit that) but as a kid I appreciated and loved my grandparents dearly, I just didn’t understand them.
  • The biggest joy of my life is watching my children sleep. Not because they’re quiet (*rim shot*) but because they smile while they sleep, and it makes me feel like I have healthy, happy children.
  • In addition to Earl Grey with cream, my favorite breakfast would also include hot buttered croissants with strawberry jam. My second favorite would be a traditional low-country breakfast of fried shrimp with buttery grits.  
  • I’m learning to speak in the affirmative in all areas of my life. I use to say “I want to be a writer” now I say with authority, “I’m writing” – because I’ve learned that “being” a writer is actually a process.

Now to pay it forward by introducing you to some of the blogs I read regularly.

Recovering Dawn -  I love reading how Dawn navigates life, she’s clever.  My favorite entry by Dawn is called, “Denial” –  a true wake-up call.

Lupus In Color -  Raquel is a lupus survivor, her blog is raw and honest and describes her life as she has lived with lupus. I think she’s strong and smart. I admire this woman.

Always Order Desert  – Alejandra makes cooking seem effortless and the takes the most incredible pictures of the food she prepares.

The Engledow Chronicles – Jenni is awesome, her personality shines through with every post. I love how she loves her family.  

Totsymae - a newcomer but I got the feeling she’s an old soul. She’s kind and her posts are refreshingly honest. I’m excited to see where she takes her blog.

While the Dervish Dances – Cathy is an incredible writer, she’s creative and I find myself reading her posts more than once.

My Fabulous Boobies - Nicole is a breast cancer survivor and I just love reading her musing at her blog. She’s real, enough said.

Phillis Remastered  – Because Honorée is going to tell you EXACTLY what she thinks….straight up, no chaser.

There are others that I read, many others. I’m so grateful that I discovered this “world” of blogging. The support that I receive on my blog is wonderful. The connections that I have made online have enriched my life.