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Forest of Family

When I was younger, I used to think of my family as a forest of trees. Always standing, always strong. It didn’t matter what happened, I knew I was protected by the vast numbers of my loved ones. But as I grew older, I noticed a shift, a change in my forest. No longer did I feel protected; I felt very vulnerable. My family slowly shifted, and instead of being in the background–protected from the winds and hardships of this world–I was projected to the front lines. I was now doing the protecting. Yesterday, we laid to rest another matriarch of my family: my Great Aunt Marjorie. She lived to be well into her 80s, and had 6 children. She was the wife of a World War II veteran, and she was the last living sibling of my Grandmother. Looking at my Grandmother, I can see the sadness in her eyes. She is now the only one left. Mother, father, husband, sisters, and brothers, and even son had passed away and laid to rest; all that’s keeping her here is my mother and her grandchildren as well as great-grand child. I cannot imagine what it’s like to be the last one standing in your family, the same very protection you felt slowly crumbles away, and you are left naked and alone once again. But I can imagine it, since it will be a fate that some of us will have in our futures. You always think that you have more time to get to know someone, that what ever you need to get done can wait until tomorrow. Sometimes...

Practicing the Golden Rule

I’ve struggled with this post for the longest. I wasn’t sure how I was going to tackle this book: Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. This is a topic that I started to discuss in an earlier post. After going through this book more than once I can finally sum it all up in one word–respect. For the most part, this book focuses on one of the two major parts of behavioral psychology: operant conditioning. “Operant conditioning is a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behavior.” (operant conditioning was coined by B.F. Skinner–a behaviorist). Most, if not all, parenting books will focus on operant conditioning; how to get our children to do what we want through punishments and rewards. Behaviorist believe that a person’s behavior is 100% caused by their environment. They don’t take into account feelings, or internal thought process–free will is irrelevant. So, in the spirit of operant behaviorism, our actions can cause or shape a person to behave in a way that is pleasing to us. This is usually done through rewards and punishments. What does this have to do with us? As it turns out, most of us usually rely on these principles to have our child do what we want. We learned this from how we were raised, and practices that were applied to us (getting rewarded for good grades, punished for speaking out of turn–through school and home). In a way, we were conditioned to be conditional. For now, it seems that these behavior modifications work. The problem that Kohn and other psychologist brings up is that does not work...

Breaking Invisible Glass Barriers

  When my husband and I first met, we began doing a knowledge swap. We would each talk about our traditions and what it meant to us. This worked great with just trying to know each other, and know our families, but after we were married, we had to know more. Knowing only our traditions was not enough, we needed to understand each other’s history and background. What really made us tick. So, we began doing a history swap. This made me really excited since I was a African-American & American history major. I still find myself curling up with a good history book on my Nook. What I have noticed during our sessions is that there is so much that I never knew about my husband’s history, and he was even more surprised when I started to discuss my history with him. I always try my best not to be biased, and show him all aspects–good and bad, positive and negative–and let him make his own conclusions. I don’t want to steer him in any direction, I think that would be an abuse of knowledge. Sometimes, he asks me: “With your history, why aren’t you angry?” “What for?”–is my usual response. Despite obstacles that were put in my family’s way, or a clear glass wall that was set up to be a barrier, my family still did what was necessary to break through those invisible barriers. So why should I be angry? If anything, I am a walking testament of my parents and their parents will and determination. But this is not only for me, we are all...
Sunday Prayer: Patience

Sunday Prayer: Patience

Dear Lord, Why can’t patience be like a bank account–with no fees? I mean seriously, we can check to see how much patience we have in the bank, and our families will know how much to withdraw. When we are running low, all of our loved ones will receive a notification (other than our personal warning: “I’m losing my patience”). For women, we can have an automatic deposit during the week of–or a few days before–Shark Week, so we’ll have it when we need it the most. I think it would be a great idea Lord–of course if you want to implement it, you would. I was only trying to give a suggestion. If you decide not to go through with it, then can you grant me the strength to get through the times when my patience is running low, and the wisdom to keep some in reserve when it’s high. Aside from sanity, no one really understands how patience is really valuable–almost as valuable as me time. Thank you for listening....
Prisoners of War From the War on Drugs

Prisoners of War From the War on Drugs

A few weeks ago, my husband and I tried to watch a movie called American Violet. We knew that controversy was laced all through the movie, what we didn’t expect was how it would leave us feeling. We didn’t get further than 30 minutes in the movie when we turned it off. We vowed to come back to it when we calmed down. My husband was upset and I had that strangest feeling in the pit of my stomach that made me think: this could have been my story–anyone’s story. Because of that movie, I have been thinking about the war on drugs and what it really means for every day people such as ourselves. Are we really protected by our neighborhoods, or community standings? Does this war only affect people living in impoverished areas, or does it affect the suburbs as well? I asked myself these questions when writing this piece, and found the results disturbing. Regina Kelly In November 2000, Regina Kelly, single mother of 4, was arrested during a drug sweep based upon the word of an informant. She was at her place of work when her arrest took place. 24 at the time, and knowing she was innocent of the charges, she put her faith into the court appointed lawyer, who didn’t appear to really care about her case. Instead, her court appointed lawyer urged her to plead guilty. Her lawyer also told her that if she went to trial, she could be facing 5-99 years behind bars if found guilty. She did not plead guilty. Kelly’s bail was set for $70,000. Her parents managed...

Consumed With Thoughts

I have a feeling that next week is going to be a very busy week for me. There are so many issues I want to talk about, that I know it’s going to take me some time to get it all sorted. It’s so hard not to write about things that are consuming you. For example, if you experienced a tragic event, you can’t write about sunshine and roses. All you can think about is that event. But to answer your question–nope, I didn’t go through a tragic event, but my mind has been opened to so many social things at the moment. My inspiration cup is full to the brim, and I need to get some posts out before I’m consumed. So, here are just some ideas of what you can expect from me in very near future (in no particular order): • Continuation of Awakening My Parental Consciences A while ago, I mentioned that I was reading a book, called Unconditional Parenting. I have so many opinions about this book, and honestly how this book was received when I first mentioned it a few weeks ago (You can read it here). It has taken some time, but I have gone through this book more than once, and made my notes (feels like college again), and I’m ready to share it with you. • Prisoners of War from the War on Drugs This is a long-standing war that was launched by Nixon at the end of the Vietnam War. While it sounds like a legit war, in all honesty, there is corruption and destroyed lives that are left...
Sunday Prayer: Happy Thoughts

Sunday Prayer: Happy Thoughts

Dear Lord, I’ll start with something positive this week. Thank you for naps. The fact that I get to collect my thoughts in the middle of the day is awesome, but do you really have to take them away soon? Speaking of naps, Lord, why am I tempted with my bed for me to nap? When I give in to the urge, I only get to rest 10 minutes at a time. Why 10 minutes? Well someone apparently can’t part from me longer than ten minutes. Even now as I write this, my daughter is yelling my name in out apartment–it’s been 6 minutes so far. Most people cannot nap under those conditions (me being one of them). Okay Lord, something positive again–I’m trying. Ooh I know! Thank you for allowing me to finish the laundry for the week. The hamper is no longer empty, but it was empty for a day, that’s a change. Usually Lord, I’m behind and washing multiple loads until I get it done. Of course it would be quicker if we had a dryer, but that is something that we don’t need at this time. Thank you for opening my eyes, and having me see the things that I do have, versus the things that I want. When it all comes down to it, if I can live without it, I don’t need it. Last, but not least, thank you for the weekends. It may really last one day (since everyone knows the weekend is over Saturday evenings), but weekends are days where we get to spend time in each other’s company (while each...
Sunday Prayer: Growing Pains

Sunday Prayer: Growing Pains

Dear Lord, Why do I feel my joints now and not when I was younger? I won’t ask to feel like new because I did break this body in, but after a walking a long time I should be feeling great, not my hips. Okay, I’ll concede Lord, you didn’t tell me to walk with her for several miles in my arms, nor did you tell me to leave the stroller at home. I just figured that I’ll be carrying the stroller AND my daughter so why not just pick one to complain about. Since we’re on the subject, it would be nice to bounce back quickly like I did when I was younger. It would make it easier to catch up to my daughter. Okay, so I won’t complain too much. We did have fun before I was in pain, and my daughter did go to sleep at 6pm because she enjoyed herself. That did allow me to have 4 hours to myself before I went to sleep. Thank you for not letting me go stir crazy. Also, thanks for allowing me to pass out when my head finally hit the pillow. I also want to thank you for common sense. I decided to make sure my family ate an early dinner before heading home (so no guilt here). Despite the pain, I’m looking forward to do it again. I’ll ask my trainer to step up her game so next time I’ll be ready....
Sunday Prayer: Remember

Sunday Prayer: Remember

Dear Lord, It has been ten years to the date, and as a nation we have not healed. Let us reflect on these events and not take the lives that were lost in vain. Please give us strength to be strong to stand up and speak out when someone is being wronged. Instead of us being divided because of nationality or creed, let us try to put all those differences aside and mourn together. But lord, let us not forget to celebrate. We can morn the loss of life, but let us not forget the life that was lived. As this somber Sunday comes to a close, let us all not forget what truly matters....
Sunday Prayer: Protection

Sunday Prayer: Protection

  Dear Lord, Please protect my family during this hurricane. Not only that, but please protect all families during this storm. There have been some that we’ve seen who do not take this storm seriously, please touch them with your grace. If they have not gotten to safety, please protect them. For those who can’t get to safety, please protect them. With you love, protect those who have already lost a loved one....
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