“Let’s Do Brunch” from The Misadventures of Sister Girl

Really?

Joker, don’t act like you don’t know what you’re working with.

 

What time are you having me over for lunch/brunch?

Excuse me?

 

I’ll be over around 1:30 unless you have any objections.

Sure I had objections.  Your Honor, I have objections.  Hell, I had a variety of objections.  But I was unable to express any of them.  For reasons unbeknownst to me I didn’t curtail what I knew in my gut to be disastrous.  I was flirting with the devil and it excited me, ignited me, and invigorated me.  Hell, it turned me on.  That, and the little (mad bad, wrong choice of words) stunt he pulled with the picture. Why couldn’t I be honest enough to stop him from coming over?  Why wasn’t my rational mind resisting what it knew to be danger (danger Will Robinson)? 

Address please

14382 Cypress View Lane

Apartment 107

 

Hit me up if there is something you need me to pick up. 

K

 

I put down my phone and ran around my apartment like a mad woman.  My apartment looked like the aftermath of a tsunami disaster area.  A ridiculously busy week at work had left me with little time to tidy up my place.  I couldn’t let Davis see my spot looking like this.  I had three hours to cook, clean, and appear presentable.  Hold up!  Why am I worried about impressing a man that I’ve known for years?  Why am I getting bent out of shape when I know him—well, know/knew of him?  At any rate, I spent the next two hours cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, dusting furniture, mopping, and picking up a week’s worth of clothes from nearly every square inch of my apartment.  With only an hour to go I rushed to the store for fresh fruit, a couple bottles of wine (my stash was low), a bottle of champagne, and orange juice.  I needed something to calm my nerves and a date with one of my battery-operated toys wasn’t going to fit into my already tight schedule.   Nevertheless, I somehow managed to get things together just before Davis arrived—late (thank goodness). 

A strong rap on the door pulled me from the nearby kitchen.  I stood on my tippy-toes to catch a glimpse of him through the peephole.  If he was looking raggedy I could pretend not to be home and hopefully dodge a bullet.  Fat chance.  Did he look that good in high school? 

“Hello sir,” I said as I pulled the door toward me.  No, he definitely didn’t look that good in high school.  He stepped into the small foyer and enveloped me in a hug—no, an embrace.  The warmth of his body ignited a small fire down below.  He stepped back and sized me up and down.

“The years have been kind to you.  You look good.”

“Thank you.  You seem to be aging like a fine wine,” I said with the back end of my statement drawing a smile on my face.  With that, he turned around taking in the atmosphere.  Was his butt that tight back in the day?  “Please have a seat on the sofa.  Help yourself to the fruit.  Would you like a mimosa?” 

“Yes, please.  Let me guess–your goal is to get me tipsy so that you can take advantage of me.  Right?”  He asked with a laugh. 

“You got jokes.  I’m not sure how to take advantage of the willing,” I counted as I walked back into the kitchen. 

“Let’s get this straight right now,” he began. 

I looked at him sitting there.  As he opened his mouth to deposit a strawberry I noticed that the goatee on his dark-chocolate face was newly trimmed.  Time had been on his side.  He had assuredly aged, but it was a mature look that fit him well.  And the muscles I detected (from our recent embrace) under his shirt were certainly saying my name as he then lifted his wine glass from the coffee table.  Yep, he’s going to get it.  

The Power of Prayer

“Their minds had been infected with the evil [propaganda] that had spread across the country [Rwanda], but their [Hutu extremists] souls weren’t evil.  Despite the atrocities, they were children of God, and I could forgive a child, although it would not be easy . . . especially when that child was trying to kill me . . . That night I [Immaculee Ilibagiza] prayed with a clear conscience and a clean heart.  For the first time since I entered the bathroom [genocide “sanctuary”], I slept in peace.”

–from Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiz (with Steve Erwin)

I read the words and felt immediate conviction.  Perhaps my inability to sleep soundly (without waking at the slightest sound or movement) is directly related to my efforts (or lack thereof) in praying for others.  Sure enough I have a prayer life.  At times I have been more fervent than others with my prayers.  But I’m talking about praying from a deep place within.  I’m talking about praying for more than myself, the safety and well being of my friends and family; I’m talking about praying for those who have brought anguish and pain to my doorstep.

When I was younger I was often confused by the language found in my bible (King James Version), I sought to know The Word, but found myself struggling to make sense of the unfamiliar string of phrases.  As I grew older I found solace in the myriad of translations that were made available.  I still read from the King James Version, but now I find clarity in reading from the Amplified Bible as well as The Message translation.

Luke 6:27-28 (KJV) calls us to “. . . Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”

The Amplified Bible translation of the same verses reads, “But I say to you who are listening now to Me: [in order to heed, make it a practice to] love your enemies, treat well (do good to, act nobly toward) those who detest you and pursue you with hatred, Invoke blessings upon and pray for the happiness of those who curse you, implore God’s blessing (favor) upon those who abuse you [who revile, reproach, disparage, and high-handedly misuse you].”

The Message translation of Luke 6:27-30 notes, “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies.  Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.  When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person.  If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it.  If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it.  If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life.  No more tit-for-tat stuff.  Live generously.”

That call to action can seem like a pretty tall order when you are carrying the load of hurt, pain, anguish, hatred, and/or malice in your heart.  Just recently I began reading the book Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by genocide survivor Immaculee Ilibagiza.  Ilibagiza tells the harrowing truth of how she survived the genocide that ripped through her homeland of Rwanda in 1994.  The text is not typically one I pick off the shelf; decidedly so, I have been on a science fiction high as of late.  Nevertheless, I just began a unit of study with my 8th grade students on the challenge of social justice.  While the unit of study initially called for the students to form literature circles and read about the Holocaust of European Jews, my school’s media specialist and I made the executive decision to expand the readings to explore stories of global genocide (fiction and non-fiction).  We found half-dozen-or-so titles that cover acts of genocide from across the globe and spanning the past eighty years.  Ilibagiza’s Left to Tell is one of the books on my student’s list.

By now you may be wondering where I’m going with all this.  It’s actually rather simple.  When I reached part two of the text, “In Hiding”, I was confronted with a harsh reality similar to that of Immaculee Ilibagiza—a heart that contained hurt, hatred, and unforgiveness.  At this point in the text Immaculee is hiding in a small bathroom in the house of a sympathizing Hutu pastor in her village.  One of six women in the cramped space, Immaculee comes face to face with the reality that she must forgive, and pray for the souls of the Hutu extremists hell-bent to rid Rwanda of the Tutsi tribal minority they believe are out to gain control over the government.

The conviction hit me square in my chest.  How could I continue to harbor feelings of unforgiveness (hatred and malice) and not pray for those who have despitefully used me, when this woman who suffered a far worse experience, was able to do so in the midst of her turmoil?  Right then and there I put down the book and began to pray for those individuals who I felt had wronged me over the course of my life.  I prayed for God to forgive me for the things I had said and done to hurt others.  I prayed, not because I so desperately want a night full of peaceful sleep (earnestly I do), but because I want a life of peace.  We have been given life in an effort to make the world we live in better.  Each one of us has something to say and/or do that will leave this world better off, not worse off.

Despite the fact that Immaculee Ilibagiza went through a living hell in Rwanda, she has been able to use her experience to heal a country–a world that is fractured.  I have been moved by her experience.  Though I have not yet finished the book, I am looking forward to the additional lessons–morals that it holds for me.

Every book that I read leaves me different.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a work of fiction or non-fiction; I am never the same person after the book is finished.  The same is true about the individuals who bless us with their presence.  Every friendship changes me.  Every experience of love (breath taking and heart wrenching) has changed me. I firmly believe that we should take away something positive from every person, every experience we encounter—good and bad.

I’ve been challenged to live differently, to pray differently.

What “take aways” have you gleaned from acquaintances, books, enemies, experiences, friends, family, movies, songs, etc?

Home Training

Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) reads, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

This weekend I spent thirty hours in the presence of girls ranging in age from 5-14.  While being around kids isn’t anything new to me, what was new was being around children who seemingly had no “home training.”  For the most part, many of the girls were well behaved.  However, there were instances where I wanted to literally haul off and give one of the teenagers a piece of my mind.

Yes, I said “home training”.  I am old school in certain respects (pun intended), and this is one of them.  I firmly believe that children need to stay in their place.  No, you shouldn’t blindly accept everything you hear, and no, you shouldn’t trust just anyone.  But when it comes to adults and people in positions of authority, I believe that children should show some respect.

Maybe it’s me.  But it seems that a portion of today’s youth have lost their sense of respect for their elders and for authority figures.  Take this scenario for instance.  If a rule is given that you shouldn’t bring your electronic device to camp and you not only have it out in the presence of an adult, but go so far as to use it in their presence, should you not expect to be reprimanded for breaking a rule?  Nope.  One child had the never to roll her eyes, suck her teeth and continue her phone conversation.  I was not only appalled; I was ready to give her a piece of my mind.  But I held my tongue because of two reasons.  One, I just met the child that day and had no rapport with her.  Two, I didn’t want to make a bad impression on my superiors given the fact that I am brand new to the organization.

Seriously.  What are parents teaching their children?  Are parents teaching their children?  Or are they expecting “teaching” to only take place at school?  I know I may get some negative feedback because I’m not a parent, but seriously though, is there any instruction being given at home with regards on how to speak to, and interact with adults, because some of the girls I was around this weekend seemed to think we were on the same level.  Granted, we may have been on the same height level, but don’t let my youthful look and petit frame fool you into believing you can disrespect me.

I’m curious.  What happened to the respect?  How and when did we get to a place in our lives where we stopped saying “please” and “thank you”?  When did it become acceptable to refer to your parents by their first names?  At what point did it become “normal” to openly violate rules and challenge authority in response to possible consequences?

I am in no way faultless; I was far from being a perfect child.  However, I knew to respect the elders in my family and community.  I wouldn’t dare respond to an adult’s request with “Who you think you talking to?”  But that is what I see and hear all too often these days.  If we think about the message in Proverbs 22:6, we (collectively—parents and adults who regularly interact with children) are training our children to act, behave, and react in specific ways in their adult lives based upon what we teach them (or the lack thereof) in their youth.

So here are my questions: How do we get it back?  Yes, how do we get back to the days and times when children showed respect and reverence to adults and authority figures?  What have we lost along the way?  And can we find it again and bring it back?

What say you?

Manhood MMS

Author’s Note:  What follows is the first installment of what will be a weekly fiction piece I’ve chosen to title The Misadventures of Sister Girl.  Truth be told, I haven’t dabbled in writing fiction since my senior writing project at Denison University (’98).  But one of my current students inspired me to “pick up my pen” and write.  So here I am, returning to my first love: fiction.  I am not completely certain how Sister Girl’s story will unfold, but I am definitely having a great time developing characters, conflict(s), and dialogue.  I hope you enjoy this piece and those that follow.  If you have suggestions for plot development or anything else, please drop me a line.  And, as always, happy reading!

from The Misadventures of Sister Girl: “Manhood MMS”

You Sleep?

The next morning I awoke to the image of his manhood staring me in my face–literally.  If I’d acknowledged that as I sign, I may not be in my current predicament.  The joker who sent me a pic of his manhood doesn’t call me; he texts me and calls it “talking”.  He’s delusional.  And so am I for that matter—at least to a degree.

My apologies.  I should introduce myself.  My name is Olivia, Olivia Washington.  Most of my friends call me Liv however.  Liv—the irony.  I’m a living, breathing, walking, talking irony.  I’ll let you keep reading to determine if my irony is situational or dramatic.  Live.  I suppose you could call what I do live.  I like to think that I live to the beat of my own drum.  I’m not much concerned with how others view me—at least that hasn’t been the case as of late.  I make attempts to live my life in a way that pleases me.  And then there are those moments when I seem to just be existing—accepting the crumbs from the Master’s table instead of demanding a full plate.  And therein lies my dilemma.  My mother probably wouldn’t approve of the myriad of things I’ve seen and done, but I’m living for me and not her.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my mother.  She is the strongest woman I know.  Really.  Any woman who can stand tall after her husband of twenty years walks out on her is a lioness.  She is my SHERO!  But she is old school and I’m what you might call new school.  But enough about that.  Let’s get back to this business of texting and the manhood MMS.

Like I said, I should have acknowledged that MMS as a sign.  No, it wasn’t a sign that the stars had aligned and I had found my sexual equal.  It was a red, hot, shiny STOP sign!  But I wasn’t thinking stop when I saw it.  I was thinking . . . yes, you know damn well what I was thinking.  Any virile single woman with half a brain was thinking what I was thinking.  Yep, that’s exactly what I was thinking.  And the look on my face said it all.  It’s a good thing no one was around to see me lick my lips, bite down on my lower lip, and shake my head from side to side.  Because that is exactly what I did.  What I needed was for someone to shake the shit out of me—not literally—but figuratively shake some sense into/out of me because after I looked at that image long enough I had lost all sense of reality.  And I’m pretty sure you know exactly what transpired after I took a long (pun intended) look at his manhood—yes, that’s exactly what happened.  But before we get to that, I’ve got to tell you how this Joker, Mr. Manhood (Davis Reed), and I came to be acquainted.

Davis and I grew up orbiting each others social satellites.  It just so happens that we grew up in the same small town, but never had the pleasure of being anything other than acquaintances in our younger days.  I dated friends of his which only allowed us to come into contact for instances of small talk over the years.  But it wasn’t until we found out that we lived in the same city, over 2,000 miles from home, that our paths crossed again—nearly fifteen years later.

Despite the fact that I believe social media platforms (one in particular) are the spawn of Satan, one in particular has at times been beneficial for communicative purposes.  In the case of my reconnecting with Davis Reed, this one platform had a redemptive moment.

Davis Reed:                                                         6/16, 10:22pm

How have you been Liv?

Liv Washington:                                               6/16, 10:23pm

I could complain, but I won’t right now.

Davis Reed:                                                       6/16, 10:26pm

True dat.  So when are we gonna finally hang out?

Liv Washington:                                              6/16, 10:31pm

IDK.  Call me sometime and we’ll figure it out.  555-555-5555

Davis Reed:                                                               6/16, 10:33pm

I will.  Thanks.  BTW, here is my number 111-111-1111

I figured we would do our regular song and dance and I wouldn’t hear from him until he caught me online again.  I’m really not sure why I gave him my number anyway.  I had no intention of seeing him.  After all, he and his buddies had probably already talked “shop” about my high school misadventures, and that was reason enough for me to evade him to infinity.  But I underestimated Davis.  I had hoped he’d forget about me and my phone number.  He didn’t.

Liv, why haven’t I seen you yet?

Sorry Charlie!

I suck at keeping in touch—

among other things.  LOL

I shouldn’t have gone there.  But I’m a work in progress.  Living at an emotional low during the transmission of his text, I was in need of some attention, any attention.  I baited him, just like he would later bait me with that Manhood MMS.

I’m waiting.

How can I make it up to you Mr. Reed?

Meet me for lunch.

Okay.  Pick a day.

Now.

But it’s not lunchtime.

It’s ten at night.

It’s lunch somewhere.

LOL.  Good point.

I’m already in my pajamas though.

Perfect.

Ha!

You’re cute.

I know.

Yes.

We’ve already established that.

Seriously though.  How about tomorrow?

I suppose I can wait another day.

You’ve only blown me off for the past four years.

 

I haven’t begun to blow you off; I can show you better than I can tell you. 

Ouch!  That hurt.

You throwing jabs already?

Not fair.

My bad.  I heard you liked it rough.

What does he know?  What has he heard from his buddies?

 

Really?

I don’t know where your “intelligence” is coming from,

but that is only partially true.

LOL

LMAO.

You ain’t changed a bit.

What the hell is that supposed to mean?

The texting back and forth persisted well into the night.  Not once did he take the initiative to call, but I didn’t press the issue either.  I kept right on texting . . . until I fell asleep.

You sleep?

The next morning . . .

Does President Obama know about your WMD?

LOL

LMAO.  Umm . . . no.

Just saying.

That’s a nice piece of equipment you’re working with.

The Art of Revision: Life’s Metaphor

This school year I have tried very hard to help enlighten my 8th grade students to the fact that understand revision is an integral part of the writing as a process in their writing.  For a number of them revision has meant means to rewritinge  what was alreadypreviously written.  Yet and still And still yet, for other students revision is about erasing what they considered to be “mistakes”.  For the remaining faction, they acknowledge that revision is about neither of the previous ideas—it is an organic transformation on the page.  Over the years I have personally and professionally connoted revision with: adding, removing (as in strikethrough), rearranging, rewording, and/or replacing words on the page.  However, getting the bulk of my students to this place of writing enlightenment has been nothing short of a chore—a challenging chore. 

Today, February 25th my students must complete a state-mandated writing assessment—FCAT Writes.  They will have sixty minutes to write a drafted response to an arbitrary persuasive or expository writing prompt (situation).  For instance, the following is an example of the “tasteless” writing scenarios to which an 8th grader might be subjected.

  • Eating healthy foods is important.
  • Think about why it is important to eat healthy foods.
  • Now explain why you should eat healthy foods.  

With prompts like this it’s a wonder that students haven’t already revolted and formed a coup to overtake the state and federal government demanding educational reform.  But that’s a different post and you don’t want me to get started on education reform.   

 

In preparation for the assessment I had an epiphany: give every student a brain eraser as a symbol of their power prowess as writers.  Here is what the brain eraser symbolizes.  First, it is a literal symbol of the student’s greatest tool on this assessment.  Their brains house everything the students need to be articulate written communicators.  Second, the eraser is symbolic because I literally don’t want my students to erase anything off the page.  Because students have no resources from which to source how they will support their writing, their one and only resource during this assessment is their brain.  Thus, my rationale for So I purchasinged brain erasers for my students. 

Yesterday, I gave each student a “gift” to encourage them to do their best.  It was a simple token: a note with a reminder about revision and an inspirational quote from one of my favorite researchers—Carol Dweck.  

Image

I gave my students a “pep” talk after passing out the note and brain eraser, their gift.  I told them that if they erase (instead of strikethrough) they might take away something the reader would benefit from.  I also mentioned to them that everything they need to be successful is inside their brains—no, not the little erasers, but the brains housed in their heads.  Finally, I encouraged them to bring back both their brains for the assessment.  I want them to place the eraser on their desk throughout the test to remind them that they don’t have to erase, just add, remove, rearrange, reword, and/or replace.  Honestly, I really want them to be reminded of the fact that they should revise: anything they write on their allotted two pagesbefore time is called.  I’m not sure if my “kind gesture” and “words of encouragement” will be enough to spur them to higher heights, but I figured it was worth a try. 

—hence why the eraser is glued to the note.I don’t want them to erase anything.  To erase something from the page is to permanently remove its existence.  And here is where the art of revising becomes a metaphor for life. 

If I erase the fact that I filed for bankruptcy at age thirty-two, and a few months later went through a home foreclosure, I haveam eraseding (from the pages of life) the lessons I’ve learned about money management and my “needs versus my “wants.  Furthermore, if I erase the two abortions I have had, I will have also erased the lessons learned about humanity and the value of human life from my life’s pages.  If I erase from my memory my parents divorce, I erase a personal struggle that has strengthened my resolve in life.  I erase the pain and deny myself the opportunity to get grittier.  I could literally go on and on about the myriad of personal experiences that I would eagerly love to permanently remove from the pages of my life, but if I do thato,  so I do so as a detriment to my personal evolution.  To permanently erase people, things, places, experiences—both good and bad—from the pages of our lives, would alter who’ve become as a result of those same very people, things, places, and experiences.

Life is meant to be revised—added to, rearranged, reworded, and replaced.  We should constantly add love and good people to our lives.  We must sometimes rearrange our plans to make way for better opportunities.  We sometimes reword who we are after we’ve evolved.  And there are also times when we replace the painful memories of the past with the present blissful moments.  Revision is an art that we develop over the course of a lifetime.  The best writers know how to craft a masterpiece because they know how to revise.  

Disillusioned? Disenchanted? Or Both?

This is not the life I envisioned for myself.  This is not where I thought I would be at thirty-seven.  This is not who I imagined I would be.

When I was a kid I would spend an exuberant amount of time daydreaming about my adult life (young and dumb).  I dreamed up: kids, a husband, a house . . . an entire life (silly musing).  But what’s strange and eerily unfair is that none of those dreams have become my present reality—not even remotely (hard slap in the face).  There are no kids (blessing and a curse).  There is no husband—not even a committed boyfriend (perhaps the result of my sharp tongue).  The house was foreclosed on in 2008 (bad money management).  Some of you are probably tired of hearing about my still being single after all these years (it’s okay to be honest).  Heck.  I’m tired of talking about it (really, I am).  I’d much rather write about something else, but for some strange and demented reason I am stuck on stupid—in more ways than one (pray for me).  This is my reality and it is far from the dreams of my youth.

Here is my problem—here is why I am stuck on stupid.  I have always been one of those girls who would rather be in a committed relationship, but most of my life I’ve found myself settling for the “table scraps” extended to me from any man who showed me a modicum of attention (daddy issues).  I think it’s time that I stopped believing in fairy tales (my name is not Snow White, Cinderella, or Belle).  There is no such thing as a prince charming—at least not for this girl (do they even make those in the African-American variety?).  I think it’s time that I realized that my life isn’t going to turn out the way I dreamed it up as a child.  Perhaps I am destined to be one of those women who never gets married and never has children (I will not turn into an old cat lady).  Maybe God and the universe have been sending me smoke signals all these years and I’ve been too dense to see them and to accept the reality of my present, my future (I’m thick headed).

When love has evaded you and disappointed you as much as it has for me, your hope begins to diminish and your light begins to fade (if you had any to start out with).  I’m getting to a point in my life where I have accepted that this is as good as it gets (damn!).  I have accepted that I am the perpetual cheerleader for my married friends and family members (I think I still have an old uniform from high school).  It will be my responsibility to remind them to cherish the love and their companions.  As for me, I’m going to have to continue to do for myself because it doesn’t look like any knight in shinning, or dull armor, is coming to rescue me from the castle tower (damn to being independent).  This is my life:  intelligent, attractive, educated, gainfully employed, funny, hard working, sarcastic, dedicated . . . and single.  You may have thought that those first eight adjectives would give a sista a chance—but nope, not this girl (somebody has to end up with the short stick—and I’m short so that seems to make sense).

Disillusioned.  Adjective.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary denotes the following about the word disillusioned (it sounds so dramatic).  Having lost faith or trust in something; disappointed that something is not as good, valuable, true, etc., as it had seemed.  Love has been a series of disappointing moments (my bad—years).  I have discovered that it— a relationship, a commitment, love—is less good than I believed it to be in my childhood.  A man finds me attractive, he pursues me for a time, he loses interest in me, and then he finds another muse or object of attraction (no lie, it’s happened several times over).  The process is repeated and the disillusionment persists and grows.

DisenchantedAdjective.  No longer happy or satisfied with something (according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary).  I am no longer satisfied with my present reality—hoping for a blissful future.  Being repeatedly dismissed no longer makes me happy (it makes me slightly bitter, but dark chocolate is slightly bitter and I love it!  Does that make me a metaphoric piece of dark chocolate?).

I suppose (actually I guarantee) that I am disillusioned and disenchanted.  Disillusioned with love and disenchanted with my reality.  My solution to moving beyond the disillusionment and disenchantment is to live without expectations—for a blissful future filled with the never-ending love of one man (unrelated to me) and kids (besides the ones I teach).  I know it’s a dismal way to live, but it’s safe and hurts less.  At this point in my life I need as little collateral damage as possible (my tender heart has been through hell—literally and figuratively).  No more making plans, no more hoping for a future that will never be (daydreams are for little girls and I haven’t been one of those in a few decades).

This is about living in the moment of each day.  This is about finding satisfaction in being—just as I am.  This is my life!

Alone—All one

There is nothing like a Rom-Com to bring clarity to your life.  Just today I had the pleasure of watching Baggage Claim starring Paula Patton and host of handsome male co-stars.  Much like Patton’s character Montana Moore, I proudly proclaim the title: romantic.  Despite the fact that I have yet to light upon the man who takes my breathe away while also encouraging me to be the best version of me that I can be, I haven’t given up complete hope that he exists and will someday find his way to my heart.  I may be delusional to think that mutual love and commitment can coexist in a “happily ever after” scenario, but I’m okay with that.  I’m okay with it because I refuse to settle for just any man.  I want the man who will fight for me—not literally, but figuratively speaking—fight for my heart, my attention, my affection.  I want the man whose face lights up when he sees me, the man who smiles at the thought of something funny I said and/or did.  I want the man who will love me when I look and feel my worst.  I want the man who isn’t afraid of my strength, the man who will see it as an asset and not a deficit.  I am holding out for the man who is a gentleman—holding upon doors and pulling out my chair.  I am willing to wait for the man who recognizes that I am perfectly imperfect and that is perfectly fine with him.  If such a man exists in human form, I will wait—hope-filled, not hopeless–for him to materialize.  And the following are quotes from the movie that moved me.

“It’s the 21st century; you don’t need a man to define you.” 

–Gail (played by Jill Scott)

Montana’s co-star and on-screen gal-pal Gail, played by Jill Scott, expressed these words in a scene where the two ladies reflect over the thirty-day plan to find Montana a husband (or at least a date to her sister’s wedding).  While Gail’s words are true, many a good woman, myself included, have yet to completely escape the scrutiny of being unmarried and single well into her thirties.  It is as if the unmarried after thirty have been stamped, or worse yet, branded “defective” in the eyes of society.  I will be the first to admit that I have been trying everything humanly possible—just shy of crazy–to keep from remaining single.  But in the last week or so something inside me shifted.  I’m not sure what, why or how it happened, but I started looking at my current circumstance: single, unmarried, and childless from an entirely different set of eyes.  I’ve reached a peace-filled place emotionally and mentally.  Before, I seemed to be on a mission to rid myself of the label: single, unmarried woman.  Now however, I have come to see it as a new start.  Think about it.  How many people can say that they’ve had countless opportunities to start over—again and again?  Starting over used to carry with it a heavy negative stigma, but lately I have come to appreciate the ability to start back at one once more.  This fresh start has given me a chance to reinvent myself, to appreciate me just as I am.  No, I refuse to be defined by having, or in my case, not having a man.  I am my own person.  I am a quirky, fun-loving, animated, passionate, devoted woman.  Yes, I would love to find a mate with which to share my life and love.  But if it never happens I am at peace with being alone—all one—that is, complete and lacking nothing.

“The magic isn’t in getting married; it’s in staying married.”

–William Wright (played by Derek Luke)

Derek Luke who plays William Wright, Montana’s on-screen long-term best friend, and eventual fiancé, shared these words of wisdom with Montana (Patton) on the way to the airport in her first of many failed attempts at reigniting fires with previous love interests.  What I love most about Wright’s words is the staying power that he connotes with the institution of marriage.  Being the romantic individual that I am, I strongly believe in lasting love.  If there is one thing that my failed attempts at love have taught me, it is that I am gritty—I don’t give up easily.  I have fought tooth and nail for the men I have loved.  I have never walked away easily.  It seems that many people get married because of timing: they think it’s the right time or they think their time is running out.  I’ve contemplated both scenarios over the last decade.  In my mid-to-late twenties I thought it was time to get married.  After all, nearly everyone around me was doing it—getting married that is.  And as my early-to-mid thirties came and went, I thought time was running out.  And when one relationship after another failed to develop into marriage I began to feel a sense of desperation take over me.  But life has a way of bringing clarity to you.  I do not take marriage lightly.  To me it is sacred and should be cherished.  If I should marry, and truly I do hope that I do.  It is my hope and prayer that it happens only once and that it lasts a lifetime.  I take my commitments very seriously and marriage is about commitment—a life-long commitment.

“You give me hope that there’s still some good men out there.”

–Montana Moore (played by Paula Patton)

There was a time in my life when I thought the available pool of “good men” had dried up.  Only recently have I changed my thinking.  While I have known a few good men, I do hope that there are at least a few more out there.  No, I’m not greedy.  I just want one for myself and a few for some really great women whom I happen to be friends with.  I know I’m not the last of the thirty-something single, unmarried, and childless clan.  There are many of us out there.  Many of us, despite being intelligent, independent, and attractive, have yet to happen upon the right man, for us that is.  We’ve kissed many a frog over the years, but we haven’t lost hope.  Like Montana’s character, we still believe that our day will come.  We hope against our previous and current circumstances that there is at least one man willing to appreciate us just as we are.  We may not have a thirty-day turn around like the character Montana Moore, but that hasn’t kept us from hoping he will eventually arrive on his noble steed.

“Marriage doesn’t make you a lady anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car.”

–Montana Moore

Even though this is an odd analogy to make, you cannot deny the truth of Montana’s words.  We—the lot of unmarried women—are no less a lady than the rest of the female population because we happen not to have a husband, a fiancé, a committed boyfriend, or even a prospect or two.  Does it take being married to make one a lady?  Does motherhood require giving birth?  I say no to both.  I may not be married, and I may not have birthed any children, but each day that I wake I present myself as a lady and I oftentimes find myself taking on the role of mother at work.

“I did meet somebody that I’ve really been needing to meet, me.”

–Montana Moore

Starting over allows us the privilege of getting to know ourselves again.  When there isn’t anyone else vying for our time, attention, and affection we have the opportunity to love ourselves without condition.  The time alone that we give ourselves is rejuvenating.  When we finally learn to appreciate us, we make way for a refreshing wave of freedom.  When we meet ourselves just as we are, we can appreciate our strengths and limitations.  Etymologically speaking, the word alone is Old English for “al one” or all one—wholly.  Being alone–all one–whole–frees us from buying into the lie that we are less than.  The truth remains that we are complete, whole and lacking nothing.

“I want a lifetime.”

–Montana Moore

Call it greedy; call it whatever you like.  I want a lifetime and I won’t settle for anything less.  I believe that a love can last a lifetime if both individuals maintain the same level of commitment.  All too often however, it seems that one or both individuals opts out—physically and/or emotionally when the going gets tough.  I am not a quitter.  I am a fighter and a lover.  The hope-filled romantic in me won’t settle for anything less than a lifetime.  Truth be told, it may take a lifetime to get what I earnestly desire, and if that’s the case, then I am okay with that.  The bottom line is that we should never settle for less than what our hearts truly desire.   And when we choose not to settle, one day we may have the pleasure of hearing our significant other say . . .

“You could stay awake the rest of your life and you’d still be beautiful to me.”

—Damon Diesel played by Trey Songz

How’s that for romantic?

If you haven’t seen Baggage Claim, you should.  And then we can banter about the quotes that moved you.

Never settle!

A Heart Worth Holding

My heart:

fractured, bruised, and heavy—

longs to be held safely in your hands.

 

“What would you do if I gave you my heart?”

 

Would you toss it aside as a frivolous gift?

Would you cup it in your hands?

Would you throw it back at me?

Would you place it inside a satin-tufted box?

 

Just what would you do if I gave you my heart?

 

I want to trust you with my most precious asset,

I long to share with you every fiber of its contents,

I want to give you my heart because there is something about you that makes me smile.

 

Truth is . . .

 

You entertain my special.

You appreciate my uniqueness.

You ignite my femininity.

You share with me a silliness that makes me beam on the inside and out.

 

I can no longer deny that I want to give you my heart.

 

I want you to take it in your hands and nurture it.

I want you to kiss it and speak gently to it.

I want you to ravage my heart with unconditional love.

 

I need to know that my heart is worth holding.

I have to know that my heart is priceless.

I yearn to know that this heart of mine has value.

 

I am entrusting you with this heart of mine.

I have faith in your holding on tight to my heart.

 

This heart, my heart, I want to give to you.

Will you, could you . . .

Never let go of my heart.

When God Kisses You

“What were the things that romanced your heart as a girl?”

For me it was:

  •  A good book
  • Pretty flowers
  • My father’s undivided attention
  • Finding a bargain (while out shopping)
  • An encouraging word from my mother

For the past week or so I have been reading Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge.  Today however, I began the chapter titled “Romanced”.  After the section where the co-authors shared anecdotal accounts of how they had been “romanced” by God, I began thinking about recent instances when God had been romancing me.  When we talk about being “romanced” by God, it equates to those moments when God “woos” us—times when his love and pursuit of our hearts is revealed through earthly majesty.

John and Stasi Eldredge further noted that, “Every song you love, every memory you cherish, every moment that has moved you to holy tears has been given to you from the One who has been pursuing you from your first breath in order to win your heart.  God’s version of flowers and candlelight dinners comes in the form of sunsets and falling stars, moonlight on lakes and cricket symphonies; warm wind, swaying trees, lush gardens, and fierce devotion.  This romancing is immensely personal.  It will be as if it has been scripted for your heart.  He knows what takes your breath away, knows what makes your heart beat faster.”

God just kissed me on Friday, January 31st when one of my 3rd period students turned in an extra credit assignment.  First off, I rarely provide students with “extra credit” opportunities.  I firmly believe that if he or she gives enough time and attention to the assigned work, there would be no need for extra credit.  However, I’ve been doing some educational research on motivation and thought that providing random extra credit assignments may motivate some students to take advantage of their education.  At any rate, the objective was for the students to transform a letter they had recently written in a previous assignment.  The letter the students wrote was a persuasive letter to their parents in which they attempted to get their parents to change their mind about a decision, rule, restriction or ideology through the inclusion of the three persuasive appeals: logos, ethos, and pathos.  For the extra credit assignment students had to change their role/perspective as a writer, alter their intended audience, and change the format/writing mode.  With all that said, the 3rd period student’s letter had been transformed to an invitation.  It wasn’t some Microsoft Publisher crafted document; it was hand made with an embossed wax label.  When he handed it to me my face lit up.  After class ended I picked up the invitation once again and marveled at the detail and precision with which the student had crafted his assignment.  As an educator I strive to impress upon my students that taking the initiative is an impressive trait.  I also want them to understand that the quality of their work speaks volumes to their personal character and is a reflection of who they are inherently.  When this young man not only turned in a thoughtfully prepared product, but had also done so before the due date; I was moved to tears.  This was one of those instances that had brought me into the teaching profession.  Without realizing it (at that moment in time), I had been kissed by God.  A student had taken the initiative and gone above and beyond the general expectations—God had kissed me, romanced my heart.

While the euphoria of God’s kiss has swelled my heart, I have come to realize why the ending of my last romantic relationship was so emotionally crippling for me.  For fourteen months I had been courted—I was taken care of financially, I was treated like a lady, I had satisfying conversations with my mate, I and my mate shared of our spirituality, I had been romanced, and for a time–I had been the singular object of one man’s affection and attention.  It was God’s kiss, God’s way of romancing me through another earthly vessel.  And then it abruptly ended.  To this day I long to be courted once more.  For during those fourteen months I was ablaze and alive.  Nevertheless, I understand why the man I loved chose another woman—but that’ll have to wait for another entry—“The Unveiling of a Woman’s Beauty”.  Until then, here are some additional profound statements from John and Stasi Eldredge’s book.  Ladies, if you haven’t read the book Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge, please do.  It will open your eyes of understanding.

Notable “Nuggets” from John and Stasi Eldredge:

  • “You are meant to fill a place in the heart of God no one and nothing else can fill.”
  • “ . . . he [God] wants your obedience, but only when it flows out of a heart filled with love for him.”
  • “God delights in revealing himself to those who will seek him with all their hearts.”
  • “We have missed many of his notes simply because we shut our hearts down in order to endure the pain of life.”
  • “God has been wooing you ever since you were a little girl.”
  • “A woman becomes beautiful when she knows she’s loved.”
  • “As women we long to be loved in a certain way, a way unique to our femininity.”
  • “ . . . he [God] will thwart our efforts to find life apart from him . . .”
  • “He [God] often takes us aside from every other source of comfort so that he alone can have our heart’s attention.”
  • “Our hearts yearn to be loved intimately, personally, and yes, romantically . . . to be the object of desire and affection of one who is totally and completely in love with us.”
  • “Worship is what we give our hearts away to in return for a promise of Life.”
  • “No, to be spiritual is to be in a Romance with God.”
  • “The desire to be romanced lies deep in the heart of every woman.  It is for such that you were made.  And you are romanced, and ever will be.”

PS: Chyla, thank you for recommending this book.  I love you girl!

Where Is The Path to Forgiveness?

Co-authors Stasi and John Eldredge noted in the text Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul that, “Until you forgive, you remain their prisoner.”  I have been harboring ill feelings (unforgiveness) towards another human being for the past seven months.  Why?  You ask.  Because he was one more man on the growing list of many who have discarded my heart, love, and affections.  Recovering from the rejection and loss hasn’t been easy.  It’s never easy to bounce back from disappointment.  But it is true that time heals all wounds.  What I have learned is that some wounds take longer to heal.  To this day I am unable to watch one specific commercial because it reminds me too much of the last man who walked away from me.  Because I turn the channel or divert my attention each and every time that commercial comes on, simply proves that I haven’t completely forgiven this man.  I have backed myself into a corner and the only way I can get out is to forgive him.  But the truth is, I don’t know how to get onto the path of forgiveness.

The last man’s rejection left me feeling like the fourteen-year-old version of me.  Once again I was that girl searching for guidance from a father that wasn’t available—physically or emotionally.  Each time a man has chosen to leave, the pain of that initial rejection from my father resurfaces, and I once again question my self worth.  When my father divorced my mother he divorced himself from me too because our relationship hasn’t been the same ever since.  While we have made some headway over the years, the little girl that lives inside me wants her dad(dy) to be there to shield, rescue and comfort her from the harsh realities of life.

I remember vividly the moment when I knew my father wasn’t returning—not just from the trip he’d gone on—but to his family.  My family had recently returned from a three-week cross-country vacation in our motor home.  My older brother had just graduated from high school, and I was fourteen years old.  My father had left for Michigan (not sure if it was business or pleasure that time) and when he didn’t come back when he was expected, I knew that my nuclear family would be forever changed.  One night I awoke to odd sounds downstairs.  Slowly, I crept down the stairs to find my mother on the floor in the living room shredding—quite literally–my father’s hunting rifles.  Without making a sound I sat there on the steps for a few moments.  My mother must have been in a trance because she never noticed me, never heard me, never turned around, and never stopped hacking.  As she hacked away at the guns, I knew with all certainty that their marriage was in serious trouble.  When my father finally returned home a week or two later, he merely came to retrieve some personal items.  Just like that I had become a statistic.  I was one of those kids whose parents divorced.  I was one of those kids growing up without a father in the home.  Sure, he lived in the same city, just a few miles a way in fact, but from that moment forward our relationship was strained.  I was a girl without her father’s guidance.  I was a teenage girl who was clueless about navigating the interests of the male species.

I think I’ve spent the past twenty-something years running from the pain of being the statistic—the 50% of North American children whose parent’s divorce.  Along with that, I presume that I’ve subconsciously, and to some degree, consciously feared that every man who walks into my life will do the same thing my father did—unexpectedly leave.  It’s the classic case of the self-fulfilling prophecy.  Psychologists define this phenomenon as the process in which an individual’s expectations about another individual eventually lead the other individual to behave in the way that confirms their expectations.  This is to say that I expected every man who entered my life to also one day exit my life because they were men, just like my father, not capable and/or interested in maintaining their commitment.

I don’t want to be a closed flower or a caged bird.  I don’t want to be hard and calloused.  I don’t want to stop feeling.  But I do want to know love, security, protection, passion, and commitment.  I want the freedom to love without the fear of being rejected.  I want the freedom of being quirky.  I want the freedom to express myself without being misunderstood.  I simply desire to be free from other’s judgments.  I seek to live a life without regrets or condemnation.  I admit to making my fair share of mistakes.  I am far from perfect, and I’m okay with that.  I want to also be okay with life’s disappointments without them decimating me emotionally and psychologically.

I’ve come to realize that I’m that little girl who’s craving for her father’s attention.  I’m the same little girl who followed her father out into the garage or out into the yard.  I’m that same girl—only now a woman—seeking her father’s validation and love.  If my father had let me, I probably would have followed him everywhere.  It didn’t matter if he was tinkering with one of his motorcycles or playing with a turkey call, I wanted to be right there stealing away some of his love, time and attention.  Perhaps I’ve been doing the same thing all these years later.  Though every man has been different, the desire has remained the same—maintain the commitment and give me the attention and love I didn’t get from my father.

Today I’m asking God to heal my heart once and for all.  I’m asking God to give me all the love and attention that I lacked from my earthly father.  I undoubtedly love my earthly father, but have come to understand that we cannot go back in time to reclaim what has been lost.  I forgive him for his humanity and hope that he can do the same for me.  If there is one thing I have gleaned over the years, it is that we are all doing the best we can with the information we have obtained.

As I close, there are questions that I need God, The Father, to answer.  What is it that makes me special?  What do you see in me?  What makes me captivating?  When the answers to these questions are revealed, I am confident that the constant yearning in my heart will dissipate and a peace I’ve never known will fill me to overflowing.  And so I ask you dear reader, what question(s) do you need The Father to answer?