Awakening With Spring- UYW April

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

Your words are:

Mint ~ Shamrock ~ Tulips ~ Showers ~ Flowers

They were submitted by: http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

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The ides of March have finally passed, taking with it the remaining signs of winter. No more peppermint-flavored items littering the grocery store shelves. No more gray, dreary, bitter cold days. No more early sunsets. Christmas and New Years have long since been forgotten and the lingering shamrock decor of St. Patrick’s Day fade away with the hangovers gifted to those who sipped on green ale all day long.

April has brought with it the beginning of Spring and the awakening of nature after a long Winter’s rest.

This time of year is magical for most. Myself included. Everything comes to life with a renewed sense of purpose. A new hope emerges from the wreckage left by raging snowstorms and bone-chilling, bustling winds which whipped the earth raw. It seems like everything deemed impossible in the doom and gloom of Winter all of a sudden becomes possible under the warmth of the bright sun shining once more. Our trials and tribulations don’t seem as daunting to conquer now that they can be seen clearly in the sunlight. Everywhere you look, there is action happening and movement going on, filling the air with the sounds of life once more.

Unfortunately, though, all this rebirthing and refreshing needs fueling up to sustain itself. Thus the childhood rhyme, “April showers bring May flowers“, was born. And when it rains, it pours. It’s a wonder that the early blooming tulips and croquses can survive the violent storms which wash away the damage Winter left behind.

That’s what inspires me most about this time of year- not only did these bulbs manage to stay alive in the bitter cold, frozen ground which would take out any human exposed to the same elements for more than a handful of hours, once sprouted, their delicate and tender buds can endure torrential downpours of rain to absorb the nutrients necessary for them to bloom with wonder and splendor. That takes sheer willpower and inner-strength which rivals that of any human’s and leaves me in awe of these magnifiscent little plants.

Spring is such a beautiful time of year. It forces me to stop and smell the roses. To let go of the darkness which consumes my mind while hinernating indoors all Winter long. To take the time to admire the circle of life and the glory of nature. It is my signal to come out of my self-imposed cocoon and embrace the newly awakened world around me once again.

And after the extra depressing Winter we just had, Spring couldn’t be any more welcomed this time around. I’m more than ready to get on with the show and live life fully again.

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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Spatulas on Parade 

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver 

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo 

On the Border 

Bookworm in the Kitchen 

The Bergham Chronicles 

Simply Shannon 

Southern Belle Charm 

Climaxed

Not That Sarah Michelle 

World Wide Nope, Not For Me

Your “Secret Subject” is:

What is your favorite website and why?

It was submitted by: http://Bakinginatornado.com

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Oh, sweet geezus. Is this a trick question or some shit? It’s definitely a fully loaded one. The majority of my tribe of friends these days are from the internet. And most of them have websites. A prime example of such is this challenge I am doing right now as I write this. We are a group of bloggers who have come together as friends over the course of time- developing relationships with one another in our Top-Secret Forum where we plan the shenanigans that go down every month which we hope will lead us towards world domination one day. No, but really. How am I supposed to pick a favorite amongst all the people I love? People who have very unique talents and offerings as bloggers, none of them like the other. I can’t.

No, but really. How am I supposed to pick a favorite amongst all the people I love? People who have very unique talents and offerings as bloggers, none of them like the other. I can’t. I have too much love and respect for all my fellow blogger friends to try to rank their websites just to pick a favorite.

I could just run the risk of coming across as a bit narcissistic and tell y’all that my own blog website is my favorite website. That I’m so self-centered that I believe no one out there does this writing gig as good as I do it. But that would be the biggest lie. I really have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to blogging. Or writing. I’m just winging it as I go – hence the whole being hosted on this WordPress site still, because I am absolutely clueless about technology and have not the slightest inkling of how to build, let alone manage, a self-hosted website of my own.

Which brings me to the real, honest to goodness answer for this blog challenge prompt.

I don’t have a favorite website. Even when we break away from the whole writing/blogging/reading theme and take the whole world wide web into consideration. I was born in the wrong era of time. If it weren’t for the fact that I can revel in the accomplishment I feel when more than a handful of my closest friends and relatives read the words I write without my constant insistence as I shove my finished pieces into their faces putting them at grave risk for taking out an eyeball with the corner of my laptop screen, I wouldn’t be online much.

Hell, I only jumped into the land of Facebook because it was an easy way to share my writing with the world. Everyone I know had already been sucked into the wormhole for years and years. But I take pride in the fact that I’m always late to the party and late I most certainly was.

Technology just irks me. While it has many benefits for continuing the evolution of human beings into a more effortless, comfortable way of life while maximizing our body and mind’s potential to eradicate the diseases and plights which threaten our population, I am content living without its presence in my daily life. I go days, sometimes even weeks, without touching my computer. I only use my phone to scroll through facebook, take photos, and play a couple of games to exercise my brain. I very rarely Google anything. If I need to know something, I’d much rather pick up and Encyclopedia Brittanica or Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus to seek answers for whatever tidbit of knowledge I am in need of at that moment.

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My internet history is so boring and dull, even my five-year-old has a better chance of making it onto Homeland Security’s watch list for potential terrorist risk. Seriously. Compare mine against my tweenager’s and my yearly activity is about the same length as his IN A WEEK. I avoid the internet and its treasure trove of websites like The Plague resides within it. To be fair, though, it kind of does. Just look at all the craziness that comes from this one-stop shop for socialization without face to face, in-person interactions.

It all goes beyond my comprehension. Put me back in the late 1980’s with stacks of notebooks, boxes of ball point pens, and a typewriter and I’ll forever be in my glory. No internet required- just the way I like it. My favorite website is no website at all.

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Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

Spatulas on Parade 

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver 

The Lieber Family Blog 

The Bergham Chronicles

Bookworm in the Kitchen 

Never Ever Give Up Hope

Simply Shannon 

Southern Belle Charm 

Not That Sarah Michelle  

A Little Piece of Peace

Climaxed

When I Grow Up 

Failing Success – UYW March

In between birth and death, every human is tasked with making choices which will directly affect their future. However, we aren’t born with the maturity or wisdom necessary to choose right and guarantee a stable, secure, and comfortable life as an adult. We are given parents to teach and guide us until we are competent on our own. But… not everyone is so fortunate to be born into a family with both parents present, let alone have them be capable of providing the nurturing and support a child needs to tame the wild oats they love so much to sow. This can make a difference in the kind of life one will come to have as an adult.

Sometimes, it’s not even about the parents. Sometimes the child is just too adventurous and independent to be tamed by anyone other than himself. Either way, not everyone has the early foundation put in place to ensure they are prosperous in what they do. Sometimes their fixations with living on the edge will lead them down dangerous or unorthodox roads. When realized sooner, rather than later, it’s much easier to jump back on track and rebuild again. Eventually, though, time catches up with us, as it always does, and the hope for an easy, comfortable life is lost on them forever.

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When one has to learn the hard way about everything, there’s undoubtedly a price to be paid. No amount of begging the universe, praying to a higher power, or wishing on a lucky star will change one’s fate – every choice, every decision, every action that is taken – leads us to where we are. People like to turn a blind eye while promising that it’s never too late, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Take my husband, for example. He was a mischievous little rebel who partied way too hard throughout his teens and twenties. This led to him spending the majority of his thirties battling various addictions, as he only managed to escape one by substituting it with another. From alcohol to prescription pills, excessive exercising/body image obsession to gambling, this man has experienced more layers of Hell in his mind then I even knew existed. He ended up with a pretty decent rap sheet on file with law enforcement, labeling him as a three-time felon, by the end of his wild oat sowing run.

There’s no taking any of it back. He would sell his soul to be able to, believe me, but he can’t. There is nothing more he can do but accept what is because of what was and make the most out of the situation he is in. Life is anything but easy or comfortable. Financial stability, not even security, is a merely a fantasy which will never come to fruition. Job options and opportunities are extremely limited for those like him, for the system was not designed to give anyone a second chance, let alone the benefit of doubt for their change of ways. Our justice system may have been founded on the premise of innocent until proven guilty, but society runs on the opposite line where people are always guilty until they prove, but, also, demonstrate and rescind their innocence for eternity to come. They call this, Democracy. I call this, bullshit.

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No wonder mental health issues are on the rise. No wonder so many people are angry, cynical, and jaded. No wonder poverty is a cycle that sucks in generation after generation after generation of families. There is no wiggle room in the equation necessary to have the stereotypical successful life we are taught to covet through constant subliminal messaging about materialism and image projection. While there’s always an example of an exception to be found, those are merely an aberration formed in the alignment of perfect circumstances which rarely develop for the majority of folks. A stroke of sheer luck, to sound cliche if you will.

As it is, society’s definition of a successful life reads like Darwin’s theory on Survival Of The Fittest and Asch’s Social Conformity experiments merged while a blind eye was turned to the history of humanity which proves, time and time again, how oppressive this structure is for all but a select few.

I will never understand how such a superior animal species became so entirely self-serving and greed-driven. So neglectful and uncompassionate towards the well-being and comfort of their fellow citizens. Why there is only one respected avenue for success for which we judge all others by? To me, it seems, humans are not worthy of the superiority label they have claimed, for our standards of living are more barbaric and inclusive than any other species I have studied during my years of education.

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Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

Your words are:

late ~ job ~ fixation ~ star ~ make a difference

They were submitted by: http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado 

Spatulas on Parade  

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver 

On the Border 

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy 

The Bergham Chronicles 

Simply Shannon   

Confessions of a part time working mom 

Southern Belle Charm 

Climaxed

Not That Sarah Michelle

 

Lost And Found Freedom Seeker

It really is no surprise that I was found. I’m not very good at hiding. In fact, I was always the first one found during endless rounds of the game we loved so much as children; playing well into the night to distract us from the blistering July heat smothering us with rancid summer boredom. Not that I was really trying hard to conceal myself, like when I was a kid. Part of me knew I would have to face the music eventually and just wanted this updated adult version of the beloved classic over with already.

When I set off on this haphazard trek in search of my freedom, I had no idea what would be in store for me along the way. I knew there were huge risks involved when it came to choosing the path less traveled, but I was too naive to see just how dangerous those risks really were. My body and mind were that of the adult I had recently discovered I had become, but my soul was still that of a child- unaware and unassuming. Wisdom was still such a long ways off for my seventeen years; seemingly more of an old wive’s tale, passed down from one generation to the next, to ease the burdening fears people have about aging past their youthful prime.

I always knew something was different about me. I wasn’t cut from the same cloth as the others were where I came from. Those people were wholly satisfied with their cookie cutter suburbia and the pretentious societal box requirements – instilled upon us the very moment we took our first breath after the cord was cut. They thrived in this realm of standardized constringency and predicated stringencies. I wasn’t. I couldn’t. No matter how hard I worked to try, or, sometimes even not to try, I could not find happiness, belonging, or purpose within the confines of this imperiously scripted life.

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So off I went, set to rebel against the system, The Man, the middle-class suburban mindset, and anything else which forced conformity while promoting monetary dependence and materialism. It was my mission not be another Suzy Homemaker who had gone to some Big Ten university to establish a respected career and, immediately following, married a man who only focuses on growing investments and expenditures which add to his precious nest egg, coupled with golf getaways and strip clubs on the sly. There would be no dreaming of minivans, book clubs, or being the perfect Soccer mom with the perfect, but boring, life. Those were nightmares to me. Exactly what I was running away and hiding from. My dreams, I believed, would always be about adventure, emotional connections, and tapping into the well of passion within my fiery soul. About discovering my purpose, my sexuality, and who I was from one day to the next. About a life governed by my desires and regulated by my experiences. Freedom. Resistance. Feeling alive.

I wanted to get married and have kids, still, but on my own terms. Without the pressure to adhere to the strictly structured plan society had created simply to define one’s worth. I didn’t want to live by the book or be conventional in any shape or form because then THEY would win.

For a long time, I stuck to my guns and traveled anywhere that would lead me far from the life expected of me. I crashed on various people’s couches, worked jobs that would only sustain my most basic of needs, and took risks that reflected anything but the Good Girl image my childhood peers had strived to maintain. I had no rules, no boundaries, and no desire to be defined by the tenuous labels of someone else’s standards. There was no stopping me. Drugs, drinking and partying with other freedom-seeking souls trying to escape the democracy we never asked to join fueled my mission, and a fresh tattoo coupled with alternative piercings were displayed like a scarlet letter to show the world I would not live in compliance.  

I lived on the edge, defying everything that had been drilled into my existence from the moment I began to develop in utero. Anything to escape the nightmares dreams of mainstream suburbia haunted me with.

Somehow, though, they found me. Deep down I knew I couldn’t run from those phantasmal ideals forever. I came to realize through the course of my rebellion that conformity is more omnipotent than individualization and true freedom. My escape was futile and all in vain at the end of the road. It was impossible to live freely outside the constraints of the societal structure without feeling the insufferable weight of financial dependency once children and marriage became part of the equation. Society is an altruistic prison in which humans entombed themselves within, long ago. There is no liberation from it. Not when parenthood comes into play because everything changes when you realize you’ve been tasked with the responsibility of raising the next generation of freedom seekers and emulators.

I never expected my nightmares to come full circle the way they have. Never did I imagine that the one thing I spent years hiding from would become the one thing I wished I could have, but here I am. I feel like the world’s biggest hypocrite for it, too.

Yet, I also feel strangely empowered, as I have gained wisdom and understanding which most others will never be privileged enough to sample a taste of. Things I can use, not to fight against the system as ineffectively as my youthful naivety set out to do, but fight to better the system from within so my children don’t have to rebel against the miscarriages of justice which keep us all imprisoned by the labels of a cookie cutter society. And I cannot do it without dreaming of the life that I never wanted to live because I have no choice but to play the game necessary to put me in the position to change the rules once and for all.emancipate-1779132_1920

Your “Secret Subject” is: Oh no, they found you. What do you do?

It was submitted by: http://dinoheromommy.com/

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado 

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy 

Spatulas on Parade 

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver 

The Lieber Family Blog 

The Bergham Chronicles 

Never Ever Give Up Hope 

Simply Shannon  

Confessions of a part time working mom  

Southern Belle Charm 

Climaxed

 

The Dreaded Hat I Wear Today

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Over the years, I have worn many different hats in the working world. I was 12 years old when I took on my very first job as a babysitter. I moved on up through the ranks over the course of middle and high school- as a Mother’s Helper over summer vacation to part-time live-in Nanny. One year, I think I was in 8th grade at the time, I had so many clients I was balancing at once, all of whom needed my services on New Year’s Eve, that I ended up turning my living room into a temporary overnight daycare with the help of my best friend. Eight families worth of kids and the ultimate sleepover we provided them with earned us just under $400. Each!

When I turned 16 and got my license, my father and stepmother laid down the law in a manner that made sure I would continue to be a hard worker in life. They were sticklers about ensuring that I would always earn my keep because there are no free rides in life without a trust fund. And I certainly was not a trust fund baby, nor were they. In order to have unlimited access to my recently deceased grandfather’s almost decade old, teal-colored 1990 Ford Astro minivan- complete with a wheelchair lift installed in the trunk- I had to work for their in-home small business. A Security Guard service, of all things. (Makes sense, if you realize my father was also a police officer.) For the next four years, even after receiving my own first (gently used, lol.) vehicle as a graduation gift from my mother and stepfather, I dutifully fulfilled my commitment in exchange for free gas and full-coverage insurance. My job was to drive a 25-mile long circuit around a neighboring city at the ass crack of dawn and again at dusk to unlock and lock the gates for the 16 different parks they have for community use so no cars could be in the parking lot after hours. It was one of the greatest jobs I’ve ever had because it was actually a lot of fun, though it took a bit to get used to getting up before the sun every day. Oh, the stories I could tell you of my adventures, but that’s not what the subject of this piece is supposed to be about.

Of course, since I was only being compensated by my parents for the gas and what not, I needed cash in my pocket to live off of. At this point, I was getting too old for watching other kids at the same times during the weekend that my friends were out partying, so I found a real job which would give me a real paycheck. At the local Bingo Hall. I ran the concession stand, providing hundreds of ornery and intolerant old ladies with coffee, popcorn, hot dogs, and candy. Again, I could tell you some hilarious stories about working there. It was another of the greatest jobs I ever had. I was heartbroken when the building was bought out by the neighboring car dealership and closed down for good.

After that was my job as a cashier at an upscale Fruit Market and Deli. Most teens and young adults in my community have worked there at some time or another and have many horror stories about how awful it was for them. I guess I’m lucky, because I loved it there, even though it wasn’t nearly as exciting as the other jobs I had had. It didn’t last more than a year before my college schedule of classes became a conflict with my scheduled shifts and the bosses wouldn’t budge an inch to work it out with me. Onto the beloved local deli-based diner as a hostess and carry-out girl. The owner was a dick, but alas, I loved that job, too. Eventually, I became pregnant with my oldest and couldn’t keep up the pace and found a position with my friend’s home daycare where I could bring my baby to work with me and focus on finishing my schooling.

It was right after the birth of my second son, one year and a day after his big brother’s arrival, that I finally got my certificate and passed the exam to become a Health Unit Coordinator. I was hired into one of the 3 major hospital corporations in our area, working the Labor and Delivery/Post-Partum/NICU/Pediatrics circuit. A Health Unit Coordinator is just an extra fancy term for the person who is in charge of the Nurse’s Stations and does all of the behind the scenes work with decoding patient charts and the doctor’s orders within, procedure scheduling, and admission/discharge paperwork. They are the backbone which keeps the nurses and physicians from having nervous breakdowns. Again, this was an amazing job full of excitement and good memories made. Unfortunately, I was hired in on a contingency basis, so after 2 years without being offered a permanent position with benefits, I had to make the choice to leave for another of the 3 hospital chains who would give me the job security I needed for my growing family. I loved that job, too. After finding out I was pregnant with my fourth child, though, my husband and I decided it was more practical for me to become a stay-at-home mom. So I did.

Almost 6 years later, I’ve yet to return to the working world again. So, if I have enjoyed all the jobs I’ve held over the years as much as I have, what could possibly be the worst job I’ve ever had?

The one I’m doing now… as a SAHM.

It sucks for me. I’m not a Pinterest kinda mom, not in the least. Nor am I well-organized, patient, or calm. I’m a blubbering hot mess of a woman and dedicating every waking breath I take to four tiny humans who push my every button, test my resolve constantly, and fire demands at me faster than my brain can process the whine, is just not fun for me. I’m eagerly counting down the days until the littlest of all begins kindergarten this coming fall so I can go back to work without exorbitant daycare costs rendering my income useless. Don’t get me wrong, I love and adore my tribe of mini-me’s more than anything, but I don’t have what it takes to spend my entire day chasing, hovering, teaching, and disciplining without any adult interactions to stimulate my crazy brain and relieve the boredom of endless monotony. I need to be more than just a Mom.

 

I have 197 days to go as of today…

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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 14 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My subject was “ What’s the worst job you’ve ever had. Why?”.  It was submitted by http://www.southernbellecharm.com.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy  

Spatulas on Parade 

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver 

The Lieber Family Blog 

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo 

Simply Shannon  

The Bergham Chronicles

Confessions of a part time working mom

Not That Sarah Michelle 

Southern Belle Charm  

When I Grow Up 

Climaxed

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing The Gray In A Black & White World

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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 13 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts. 

My subject is “Tell us a story from your childhood”.  It was submitted by http://Bakinginatornado.  Here goes:

Like many others, my childhood was the foundation for the person I grew to be today. My mind swirls as clips of memories dance around, each highlighting a frozen piece of time before my innocence was lost and the harshness of the cruel world became a frightening reality. There were good times and bad times aplenty- some seemingly storybook perfect and some so ugly, they’re best left buried within the hidden passages of lost time. Still, they are mine. The index which precedes the multitude of chapters my adult life has written.

A police officer’s daughter, I was kept sheltered from the evils that lurk around every corner, hiding not only in the shadows but plain sight, as well. We lived in a predominantly white, upper-middle class suburbia on the outskirts of Detroit, where it was easy for my parents to pull the wool over my eyes about the ways of the world. I believed that everyone, everywhere, worth a damn, lived the same way we did or better. I thought to graduate high school, attend a good college, establish a career which would provide financial security, get married in a church and begin a family was the circle of life which only the good people of the world followed. That anyone who didn’t adhere to this plan were the bad people I was warned about, time and time again.

I was the epitome of privileged children across the nation.

Then the house next door to ours was put up for sale one day when I was 8. It was bought by a pretentious, ornery, fur-coat-wearing old lady who’s rouge could be spotted coming towards you long before her actual face was distinguishable. Only, she never moved in. A family with four young children did. The oldest being a girl who was going into the fourth grade that school year, just the same as me. I was swimming in my humongous, above ground pool the first time we met. Her mother had just talked to my step-mother and she was promptly sent to introduce herself to me. Like any kid, I immediately invited her to go grab her suit and come in with me. It struck me as odd when she turned down my proposal and sadly went back home. What kid wouldn’t want to jump in and cool off on a blistering late-August afternoon? Strange, indeed.

As the days rambled on, she continued to make excuses for not wanting to go swimming. We played tag, hide-n-go-seek, red rover, and dungeon master with her three siblings and my brother without a hitch. She came inside to play Barbies and house with me in my bedroom, but I had yet to go over to hers. They were still unpacking, she would say. Her mom wasn’t ready for a houseful of kids, yet. All the while, still refusing to go into my pool with me. I didn’t care, though. I was beyond thrilled to have a new friend. And a girl, at that. All the kids my age within a few blocks were boys. She was right next door to me, nonetheless, and that was just the coolest thing ever in my youthful naivety. We quickly became inseparable. Besties.

When school started, the icing on the friendship cake came when we discovered we had been placed in the same teacher’s class. Life couldn’t have been more perfect at that moment. At least, for me, that is. I had no idea of the truth was hidden behind her closed front door.

You see, the difference between kids and adults is the fact that children live directly in the moment, unaffected by either the past or the future. They don’t care where you’ve been or where you come from. They could care less about what hasn’t happened yet or what’s predicted to happen at a later date. Their only concern is the here and now unless it involves the anticipation of Christmas and the presents Santa will bring. It was months into our relationship before I ever wondered where my BFF next door had lived before moving in next to me. It had never really interested me enough since it wasn’t like she had come from someplace exotic in the mind of a newly turned 9yo- like another state.

Her revelation began the unveiling of the wool my parents had so carefully placed over my eyes.

My new best friend had come from Detroit. Whereas most major cities across the nation are flourishing to some extent, with only the inner-city areas reflecting the underprivileged, long forgotten about, outcasted members of society, Detroit is different. It is all one giant inner-city except a small protected area in the middle of downtown, where corporate businesses and entertainment arenas are sheltered away from the slums (especially at this point in time). No one with financial stability resided within its borders; a fact that even the most privileged and well-off rich kids knew about, regardless of how thick the wool was layered on fresh outta the womb. I actually thought this girl might have been lying to sound cool in an era where hip-hop and gangsta rap began flourishing across the airwaves with hits from NWA, Tupac, and Biggie Smalls. (Ahhhh….the early nineties. Good times, eh?)

She wasn’t, though. It wasn’t long after this that I was finally invited inside of her house. Fall was changing quickly to winter and the weather was getting too nasty for us kids to play outside. Walking in her front door for the first time presented a huge shock for my culturally-impaired, suburban brat self. Her home was nothing like my own – and my own was on the lowly end of what other classmates homes looked like on the inside, to begin with. Being shielded from the ugliness of the world on the wrong side of the tracks, I had never come face to face with anyone who was truly living in poverty, until I saw inside my best friend’s home. Worn out couches and crooked-legged end tables filled her living room. Outdated curtains hung limply across the windows. Shabby rugs, beaten out more times than they could withstand, lay scattered across the floors as if they had died in vain.

I instantly felt ashamed for every time I had ever wished my family was more well-to-do, for every tantrum I ever threw for wanting more than I could have, for every complaint I ever made because what I had wasn’t good enough.

My best friend never came swimming in my pool because not only could she not swim, she had never even owned a bathing suit before. My best friend “borrowed” all my Barbies and the piles of extra Barbie clothes I had for them because she had never owned more than one, with only the outfit it came dressed in. My best friend begged to eat dinner with us every night because there wasn’t enough food to go around at home. The most humbling moment came at the beginning of spring when her mother shamefully asked my father to pull our garden hose over the fence and into their kitchen window. They couldn’t afford to pay their water bill and their service had been shut off. They only lived in this pretentious suburbia of white privilege because their great-grandmother had taken pity on the kids being raised in the ghetto and bought the house for them.

The more I learned about her family, the quicker my eyes began to see the world as it really is- a cruel, heartless place where people only care about what directly affects them. Where people would rather have the best of everything and squander in greed than lend a helping hand to those who were dealt a shitty hand. Her mother had grown up poor, as well, and was forced to drop out of school to support her own family. She married young because of this, trying to escape the life of poverty. Her husband, however, was an abusive drunk. She had no choice but to leave with her four children after her youngest twins were born, to save her life. No matter how hard she worked, life was continuously hard on her. There was no privilege to fall back on. 

Opportunity had never come knocking at her door. 

My best friend and her family wiped the privileged attitude right out of me. I vowed never to turn my back on those with less than me. To always do what I could to support the underdogs in life for as long as I lived.

Now, as this country is at odds again with race, equality, and political and religious beliefs, with discontent and unrest rippling from coast to coast, I couldn’t be more grateful for the girl who moved in next door from my childhood. She changed my life in ways I could never have comprehended as a young child. Without her, the wool would have remained firmly in place until I, too, became another Sheeple who was blindly led to chase the pretty things falsely valued in this world. Without her, I wouldn’t be able to see beauty on the side of life deemed ugly by those of privilege.

My childhood best friend freed me so I could see the many shades of gray hidden beneath a black and white world.

Writing this as the world is today, I can’t thank her enough because I can’t think of anything worse than living in the lies of the privileged. Even living in poverty like she had, as I, myself, experienced first hand not that very long ago.

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Having Girls, Becoming A Boy Mom

All I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a mother.

That is exactly what I told my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Lacy – I was going to grow up to be the mom of six kids; three of my own and three adopted.

So when the time came and I became pregnant with my first child, I didn’t care what the sex of my baby turned out to be. I was happy just to be having a baby.

He turned out to be a son.

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PICTURE PERFECT FAMILY

Not even six months later, I got pregnant again. Since I had already bore a son, I thought it HAD to be a girl this time. Nothing else was a conceivable notion to be toyed with, even momentarily. A girl would make my little family picture perfect complete.

The first twenty weeks seemed to take forever to pass by, as I grew more and more excited by the day.

When the day of my ultrasound finally came, I was certain that everything in my future would be pink and purple, paisley and floral-patterned. Princesses, ballerinas, ribbons, and tulle would rule my world.

Having a little girl was all I could focus on; my heart was set on having a daughter.

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Overgrown Insecurities

Never did I imagine as a young teen that I would still be dealing with my insecurities well into my thirties still. Bright-eyed about the future with all my youthful naivety, adulthood seemed like a magical place where all my issues would disappear with instant maturity.  

When I thought about what it would be like to be a mother back then, I imagined myself being a responsible and level-headed, calm and collected photocopy of any late eighties and early nineties family sitcom mom. Never did I consider the possibility that emotional growth wouldn’t just happen the same way my body grew and changed overnight with puberty.

Here I am, over fifteen years later, and I am still struggling to get a grip, fed up with the insecurities consuming my mind.

Growing up, I had the stereotypical child of an alcoholic thing going on. My father was a police officer and my stepmother his wannabe Barbie doll barely over the legal age. Both were seasoned drinkers with no time for raising children. It’s easy to conclude that my self-esteem never quite developed and my ideas, views, and values were a little skewed after growing up in their care. There was no one available for nurturing or guidance, after all. I was left to raise my brother and keep the house the best I could for a young girl because when my parents weren’t working they were at the bar and when the bar closed they brought the party home until it was time to go to work again.

Approaching the only mother figure I had when puberty began turned out to be the biggest mistake for my already fragile core. My stepmother fits the mold of womanly perfection, as her trophy wife status disclaimed. She was everything I wanted to look and be like. Naturally curvy, carrying an extra five or ten pounds around my middle, it was obvious to me early on that my body type was never going to be like hers. I still can’t say for sure, all this time later, if anything she said to me about accepting my differences was genuinely sincere or a calculated manipulation to keep me from coming under my father’s spotlight. She never took the time to show me how to care for myself or do any of the womanly things a girl learns from her mother. Never showed me how to feel pretty or how to love myself.

All I walked away with was more self-doubt and shame than I had ever felt before.

Uncomfortable in my own skin doesn’t even begin to explain how I felt. From that point on, I lived in constant fear of my flaws, seeking fault in everything I could find to validate the growing insecurities I gathered like friends- my looks, my personality, my intelligence, my worth. Nothing was free from scrutiny. My confidence and self-respect had been blown to smithereens.

Deep down, I really believed my daydreams of feeling whole and valuable would become a reality once I left home as an adult. That I would be able to fix all the broken pieces of myself just because I wanted to. I hadn’t the wisdom to know any better, yet. I lived in a bubble of fairytale hopes and aspirations too unrealistic to ever become a reality until the truth hit me in the face. The damage had grown rooted in the core of my being, becoming part of who I thought I was. It would be necessary to unthread parts of my identity in order to begin the re-stitching process needed to mend the insecurities which plagued my soul.

I fought against the truth for far too long, hoping, wishing, and praying I would wake up and be well. The idea of trying to find my true self under the false beliefs and self-loathing was daunting and overwhelming. Enough to make me contemplate suicide to end my miserable existence at one point along the way. Underneath my negative self-imagery, though, I was a fighter and always up for a challenge. Living was not going to beat me at living. No way, no how.

Here I am, a decade and a half later, finally ready to take action. No more ugly business. No more picking and poking at every little glitch on my skin. No more resentment and jealousy over the traits I do not have. No more comparing myself to The Mold I became so obsessed with – and for what? To live in fear of being disliked… rejected… tormented… because I didn’t fit within it? Fuck that.

Excuse my language, but I have had enough of some ridiculous stereotype defining my sense of worth and leaving me trapped in a void by my overpowering insecurities.

Looking back, I can now see what I never could see clearly when I was younger- those I knew who fit The Mold, had very little else to offer this world. Certainly not compassion. Something I know without a doubt I excel at. I may not be the prettiest, the skinniest, or the most breath-taking of female specimens to grace the planet with their presence, however, I am the most kind-hearted, caring, and selfless giver of them all. For me, those are much more valuable traits to possess and be known for than all the beauty in humanity.

Those positive traits are the key to unraveling the roots wrapped around my core, squeezing the ability to love myself right out of me. Focusing on what I have to offer instead of what I lack, I can find myself all over again. I can learn to live with who I am.

With enough hard work and dedication, I will lay these overgrown insecurities to rest once and for all. The challenge has finally been accepted, as terrified of taking on myself that I am, and I will not let life win this time, either. I can’t. It’s already taken away too many years of my life making me hate myself. I will not let another fifteen years go by living in fear of loving myself.

 

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