My 8 year old, Aria saw my new Amazon purchase lying on my bedroom floor.
Immediately, she says, “Mom, what is this?” I say, “Would you like to earn a treat?” My daughter loves a challenge and she’s a before and after addict like I am. She emptied the drawer completely. Then she asked me to YouTube the proper way to fold undergarments. We played some Kirk Franklin on Alexa and she got to work.
I have no idea how this drawer got this crazy. Then I started buying more head scarves and undies because I couldn’t find any.
After about 40 minutes, I had peace. I have a bag packed for Goodwill. Nightgowns were hung in the closet. I’ll have to organize another drawer for the bras. If an 8 year old can do it, then it isn’t hard or time consuming. She did a great job!
Decluttering was part of last month’s goals also. I have to post the progress being made in the basement. Organization is a great way to assess what is still needed, especially right before the holidays. It’s also a way to purge items that are no longer needed. I had outdated lingerie and camisoles that couldn’t fit my left toe! It was time to let them go.
October 4th to November 4th I had a list of 6 goals. I wrote them on a poster board and taped it up on my bedroom wall. Then I printed a basic calendar from my computer and posted it next to the goals. I wanted to keep track and I wanted a visual of my progress (or lack thereof.) My plan was to blog about it when it was all over. I need to break this down piece by piece. I’ll share the accomplishments and the failures.
Goal #3 was to walk at least 10 minutes a day. Frankly this was more about mental health and self care then fitness. I take photos of flowers. I send prayers to love ones. If I cannot walk by myself because of scheduling or lack of childcare, I brought the kids. Out of the 32 days, I failed 6 times.
It was easy to take that 10 minutes. Knowing I had to pencil in my 0.59 miles or 0.67 miles. I’d use my Amazfit smartwatch. On warm days or weekends, I was able to get a few miles in. On the 13th my uncle stopped by and I ran around the block 0.20 miles in 3.25 minutes! I think it was important to keep my promise to myself, get the blood flowing and get some air.
Catching the sunrise in the morning or putting on my late father’s raincoat and walking in the rain was enjoyable. I was proud of my commitment to myself. With the visual reminder taped right in front of my doorway, I was extremely dissatisfied on the days I couldn’t uphold and satisfy that goal. It was great time to plan, pray, prepare and post. I use the voice/audio recorder to record poetry while I walk.
Tell me in the comments what your goals are for November or what walking has done for you.
I love the weekends. It gives me an opportunity to turn my work laptop off and jump full force into taking care of my home, family and friends. I usually work in a little extra time for excercise and writing. I take time on Sundays for goal setting and reading as well. It’s non negotiable.
This weekend I was super lazy. I barely wanted to make my bed or come out of my sweats. I did cereal for breakfast instead of pancakes, eggs and all the other fixings I like to pile on. I just wasn’t myself.
When that happens I have to consciously shake myself out of it. My biggest motivation is my children. I want to be an example for them. I want to be a point of reference. So I had to shake the funk off… literally.
Since I’m pretty festive (adore holidays) we decided to break out some arts and crafts so we could put out some pumpkins for Halloween. On one we did the cute face but on the other we wrote down the things we’re grateful for. That way this activity carries well into Thanksgiving. Below is the YouTube link for the gospel channel we chose today.
We play gospel music while we work. The big kids help the little ones. Today my niece Liza was visiting so she got involved too. It’s a great way to get centered and have beautiful bright things around your home to put a smile on your face.
I love the way they tackle the day. I love the way they’re down for anything and they don’t think I’m “corny” for wanting to do these things with them. We get down and play. I love that they read e.e. Cummings with me. I love that they like Van Gogh. I love them. Happiness is a choice.
By Shaun Liriano
Tell me in the comments what you like to do with your children, godchildren, grandchildren, etc. Tell me what you’re thankful for. Tell me how you get out of those “funky days.”
Maybe that was the reason there was always this feeling
That she was rushing herself
She didn’t even have the time to spend loving herself
Let alone,someone else
The River by Lyfe Jennings
I’ve always been totally in awe of love and the inexplicable effect it has on music, art, literature, cinema, and daily life. The presence of love (or lack thereof) is extremely powerful. It transcends beyond labels. Meaning, romantic love and the love between a parent and child are different but I believe they are equally as impactful. Siblings and their connection to one another have been explored in many facets. Creatives often like to play with the idea of twins and the way they are tethered even when they aren’t in close proximity with one another. We are in an age of self love and self care as an expression of it. Why can’t it be defined?
My daughter’s middle name is Amore. The first Valentine’s day after she was born, my husband (then boyfriend) bought me an extraordinary gift. It was a book called, “Love, A Celebration in Art and Literature.” It’s starting to weather. After all, it’s 8 years old but when I flip through it I am still breathless. It’s beautiful, like walking through your own personal museum.
When I am on the cold and lonely writer’s block, I refer to this book. I look at the artwork and read the excerpts of great writers. I imagine my work being respected one day the way theirs is. I imagine my work being studied in classrooms or viewed on posters in dormitory walls. As a writer I love words and the way they make others feel. I also respect words and I try to be responsible with the use of them.
This will endure. Not like a wilting, dry scentless flower. This love will be timeless. A reference point for those trying to scientifically emulate it with chocolate and treadmills and aromatherapy. This will be the tattered letter clenched in the bloody fist of a dying soldier. The words he clung to. Her smile, the last thing he fixated on in his memory. This will not be #goals or any posted fanciful facade. This is arguments, couches with human sized lumps, long text messages, Toni Braxton songs, and tear filled prayers asking God for signs. This is act 3, scene 6 and the audience is at the edge of their seats. The playhouse is makeshift and the actors are inexperienced and not professionally trained but there ain’t a dry eye in the place! This is a pleasant surprise. This isn’t fire, flicker then smoke. This commitment is still burning and all consuming. The colors and the scent are hypnotizing. This will endure.
I’ve decided to post the things I’m grateful for this Fall…
The colors of crimson, cocoa, evergreen, sand, and rust surround me in open fields. They close me in like a child shutting their lunchbox lid before the bossy kid comes to trade. I’m safe in here. I’m hidden. I’m protected.
The temperature is always just right. The rain is never too heavy. The sun is never too hot. The wind is never too fierce. I can meet with nature at any time of day and be greeted with an all welcoming environment.
They remind me of my childhood. Red light green light…1 2 3. “Helicopter helicopter” they shout and they Jump as high as they can. Jump rope, manhunt, tag, Simon says, all they need is each other. They make musical notes with their mouths and bend their bodies backwards under a broomstick and play limbo. They need no cords. They need no buttons. One blows bubbles and the other one pops them. One belts a song out like a 90’s R&B one hit wonder. The other dances. They draw dreams in driveways and ask me not to wash it away. I let God and the rain decide when the ground will be black again.
Pumpkin spice latte’s and apple cinnamon candles bring a little luxury to my day to day. Jack-o’-lanterns dress my doorstep. Autumn leaves wind down my railing. Chrysanthemums await on the patio.
This moment that I share with a ceiling fan, a flickering light, lavender scented pillows, and the moonlight coming through my open blinds. I am thankful for this moment. I can hear my youngest daughter snoring in her toddler bed. I feel accomplished with the execution of today’s activities. I’ve managed in the best way I could and I know my best is enough. My lower back may be sore, my feet are sick and tired of me but my HEART is full. I can express to decompress when so many people wish they knew how to expel the feelings that overwhelm them. I bleed voluntarily and breathe intentionally and for that I am grateful.
In my youth this was the place to pull my god brother’s afro and kick him in the testicles. We would end up in a full out brawl on the living room floor. The TV blaring. In my house it was called “rough housing” but here my uncle would cheer me on. “Get him Shawwwneee!”
Then there was college. I’d come here with my canary yellow drawstring laundry bag. I could go home but here I was treated as a guest and a resident simultaneously. I’d walk into my godmother’s home and breathe in the smell of Chinese food. Everything was clean but also lived in. Here it was warm. I could go down to the basement and get a drink out the spare freezer. You’d smell tobacco and my uncle Will would be stationary watching some show that seemed ancient to me on his 13″ television. His man cave was humble. It was a laundry room and storage but it was his. I’d always announce my presence first. “Heyyyy I’m coming down. Aunt Jo said I could do a little laundry.” He’d scoff and then in a raspy laugh say, “If you don’t bring your ass on!” In the summer months everyone was here. My friends, my godbrothers and their friends. Their cousin moved in and he was the perfect addition to the family. My aunts would come over and make stuffed turkey burgers. The cheese would ooze out of them when you bit into them. The oil would drip down your chin. I don’t know how they could afford this revolving door of hospitality.
Now, I’m 36. I’m married with 4 children. I work full time as a claims examiner. We’re still “in the middle of a pandemic” but it’s like an eternal middle. I barely remember when it began and I don’t know when it’s going to end. I keep spare masks in the car and my pocket book. Antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer in every room. I spray Lysol when the kids get out of the car. I vacuum the car once a week. There’s Clorox wipes for their bookbags and lunch boxes. We always take our shoes off at the door. I’m still working from home and caring for my toddler full time. Everything is always this mosaic. My life is like her artwork. It’s colorful but many of the lines connect and overlap. There aren’t many clear definitive lines. All I know for sure is there are no days off.
Yet, when I go to Aunt Jo’s the reception is still the same. My youngest god brother is still there and he’s a gifted cook. I walk in and listen to the vegetable oil crackle in the frying pan. He’s slicing cucumbers and seasoning them with salt and pepper. My godmother is on the floor with a flashlight and a Swiffer mop trying to find my son’s matchbox car. The girls are in my niece’s bedroom choreographing some new dance that they want to perform for us, quite the unworthy and exhausted audience. Nonetheless, they are sweating and we can hear the music and feel the ground rumble. My godmother just smiles. She doesn’t tell them to shut the hell up or stop before they break something. Their voices seem to bring her joy.
The kitchen is different. There’s some renovations being made. My bare feet do a little shuffle across the brand new ebony floor. I like new things. I call out to my brother in the bathroom, “are these floors marble?” He tells me they’re porcelain. I look down and examine the sparkle of the light. My feet seem to get lost beneath me. I’m sinking but I don’t mind.
The pork chops are done. There’s no rice. Rice is overrated. My godmother takes my plate and as I’m rounding up my kids and hugging everyone she tells me she’s looking forward to seeing us again. We were here two weeks ago.
I feel wanted. I can’t even find the words to say. A speechless writer. A mute poet. All I can do is wave and say “thank you.” I haven’t been in the basement since my uncle transitioned. Still feels sacred. Even more so now. I think I’d still announce myself. A sanctuary is a safe space and I’ll forever be grateful for mine.
You thought my love was for sale. I had an abundance of it. You saw bright lights.You saw attractive colors. Yes, I was open to becoming your favorite find. I enjoyed the time you spent discovering different departments of my mind. You paid with passion. I should have printed “no returns” on your receipt. We only existed in my place of regret. Slowly your face started to look like a replica of those who thought they could afford my affection. I discounted my own destiny until I could no longer stand the sight of my own reflection. You just couldn’t resist a great deal! Clearly, there was no room for me. No storage space for sentiment. No lenten time of repentance No cleaning and purging to cherish your special someone No! You just like all bright, new, and shiny things. You only care about yourself. It never occurs to you that some things should just be left on the shelf.
I can go out for drinks. Great distraction. I can get a workout in. Keeps me busy. I can play with my kids. Necessary escape.
Writing is my way of unpacking. It’s my way of healing and dealing with things. If I wrote about my father’s death, it would be real. I wasn’t ready for that. This thing that came quick and took away someone with such a huge presence…it would be real.
A friend said he was looking forward to seeing what I could creatively birth from this pain. I’ve played with novel ideas and posted some poems on Instagram. I just truly feel like I’m in someone else’s body most times. My Daddy was diagnosed with lung cancer and he was gone two months later. Some days I still almost text him, then I realize he’s gone. It was surreal for everyone. We don’t even talk about it amongst ourselves. My paternal side faithfully does zoom calls and I can’t even sign in because I know his face won’t be one of the boxes on the screen. My skin hurts. I’ve learned to just walk around with a part of me hurting. To say I miss him would be a gross understatement. I even miss our arguments.
Today I rose before the sun. Prayed FIRST. I kissed all my kids and got going! I did two loads of laundry including blankets.
I took my two year old for a walk. I’ve been productive at work. I made it to my meeting on Teams on time. I ate my turkey egg and cheese on whole wheat. My bed is made. I cleared voicemails and paid some bills. I filled in my brows and put lip gloss on just to take my kids to school. I’m tackling potty training with my toddler again. I listened to a podcast on minimalism. I’m trying.
If I’m not giving up…then whether this was great writing or not, it still had to be posted. I have to write just to live. Just to get through this. I have to start somewhere. I’m going to miss my dad’s comments on my posts. He even printed a few and kept them in a folder near his desk. I’m going to miss that feeling of making him proud. Sleep. Xoxo