The Gift Of Gratitude

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it
is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

-William Arthur Ward

My life is wonderful!!  It is NOT perfect either, but I am truly grateful for everything.  While I live in a beautiful home and have a few nice possessions; they are replaceable tangibles.  I am more appreciative and grateful for my loving husband, my cool and quirky children, my hard working and hilarious brother, my adventurous sister, my sharp-tongued mother, my loyal friends, my health and more!  I don’t take any of the loves in my life for granted, and as often as I can, I try to consistently communicate and share the gratefulness.

I’ve lived to enjoy age 50 and it’s nothing that I ever imagined.  I’m not old!  I’m wiser, more carefree, forgiving, fit and celebrating life.  I intend to make this next decade and new chapter even more colorful than the last.

My 2015 summer vacation has ended and I have experienced one of the best summers ever!!  So much fun that I slacked on my blogging. Lol!  It’s all good tho because I try to keep up a reasonable perspective on life. During the fall and winter, my schedule is less flexible, so in the summer, I unwind and indulge more into my wants.

Celebrating my 50th Birthday was the highlight of my summer.  I had good intentions of writing a post immediately after my birthday, but umm… as you can see, that didn’t happen.  :0)

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At the end of my birthday weekend, my face should have broken and cracked to itty bitty pieces from grinning and laughing so hard.

August 2014, I proclaimed that I wanted to celebrate my 50th birthday in a big way. “A big way” meant partying hard on a tropical island with an intimate group of family and friends. Hahaha! :0)

Little did I know that, for two years, hubby decided that he would surprise me with a 50th birthday bash. OMG!!

My three-day weekend of birthday festivities began with my bestie from high school driving up from Virginia to sweep me away to DC.

Since 1979, we’ve been friends. #loyalfriends

She hates driving bridges and, to get to me, she had to drive over several bridges. Thanks Diane!!

When I arrived at the hotel; her daughter; my God-daughter and flower girl in my wedding (27 years ago) was waiting for me in the hotel room.

hotel room

The room was decorated with balloons, ribbons, along with a delicious box of chocolates. I was surprised and I felt very special. :o)

Before heading out to dinner, I was surprised again but this time with Champagne & chocolate covered strawberries!!   We laughed, toasted to the evening, enjoyed the strawberries and left for dinner.

pure luxurytruffles in box

champ and strawberries

OYADC

We dined, “Where the Birthday Magic happens,” OYA Washington, DC.  Oh my goodness!  The atmosphere and decor, the food and service and the overall vibe was so me.  Lol!

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27 years ago, I never imagined that I'd be celebrating my 50th birthday with my beautiful flower girl. Who knew!!

27 years ago, I never imagined that I’d be celebrating my 50th birthday with my beautiful flower girl. She is wise beyond her years on earth. I love her as much as I love my daughter.  She rocks!

After cocktails and dinner, the waitress served me a mini banana bread cake that was to die for. You can see in the picture a lovely birthday greeting spelled out in dark chocolate. Yummy!
desert plateB'day cake

Hailing a cab in DC on a Friday night was interesting.  I am so used to the convenience of jumping in my car and driving to wherever I need to go, but the cab scene is a different world.  I learned real quick..don’t be afraid to step off the curb and into the street to snag a cab!  Lol!!

Next stop…

madams

Cool place, great vibe!

This eclectic three-story bar/lounge doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the venue kept us entertained throughout the night with a live Blue’s band and several DJ’s… the perfect setting to dance the night away.

The lead singer of the band, a 49-year-old loc wearing woman from Brooklyn, NY was cooler than cool!  What better way than to celebrate my 50th with a cool ass 49-year-old diva from New York! Her raspy soulful voice made my night.  I could have listened to her sing all night long.  Heeeey!!

Lead singer

Revised Rockstar

The music and dancing worked up our appetites.  My friend insisted that I have a chili dog at DC’s famous Ben’s Chili Bowl.  Well past midnight, the line to order snaked through the restaurant like it was a lunch-time crowd.  I think I was the only one phased by the AM rush. Lol!!  I wolfed down a chili turkey dog and french fries.

Saturday’s Festivities

I was serenaded and embarrassed beyond words during breakfast at Chic & Ruth’s Delly in Annapolis Maryland!

Chick and Ruths

Me and the owner of Chick & Ruth's

Me and the owner of Chick & Ruth’s

Before we ate, employees, including the owner came to “see” me because they didn’t believe that I was 50! The owner also performed a cool magic trick for us. Lol!  “Black don’t crack” felt like the theme of the hour.  The owner told the entire restaurant over the PA system that it was my 50th Birthday and they sang happy birthday to “the girl with the nice tan!”  Hahaha!

My God-daughter raved about their crab dip– I know why… that dip will make you slap somebody!!!   Lord Geez…..   They bake bread fresh on the premises and we sopped up the crab dip with the hot bread like we hadn’t eaten in days!!!  When my ginormous crab omelet was served, I couldn’t finish it.  None of us finished our meal…   Great restaurant… loads of fun.  Another eatery where folks line up and eagerly wait to eat.

After lunch/brunch we got on the road to drive to my home, where I found a crowd walking down that driveway singing, “Happy Birthday” to the tune of  Steve Wonder’s Birthday song blasting from the DJ’s station in the backyard.

crowd

...just getting out of my car...

…just getting out of my car…

Lol!  The moment was priceless and I will never forget it.  It’s the first and only party I’ve ever had!

Too see who was out in the crowd, I climbed atop my car!  Yes, climbed atop my car and danced to the singing and the DJ’s music Lol!!

Turnin' it up!! Lol!

Turnin’ it up!! Lol!

This (me dancing on my car) is what authentic living is all about.  Being true to who you are and not caring what others think.  🙂

viewing the crowd

The bartender walked down the driveway and handed me a cocktail…. sitting atop the carI sat and sipped in amazement.

My God-daughter took this shot of me standing on the sunroof from inside my car.

My God-daughter took this shot of me standing on the sunroof from inside my car.

my homies

These two are also besties for life! They saw and talked with me daily but kept the secret well. Who has three genuine ride or die chicks in their life? Me and for that I am blessed. Love them all!

Leftover crumbs were the only proof that I had a cake!

Leftover crumbs were the only proof that I had a cake!

This is what 50 looks and feels like! Absolutely fabulous!

This is what 50 looks and feels like! Absolutely fabulous!

My AWESOME husband!! I love this man so much!! He loves me unconditionally and has taught me how to do the same. :)

My AWESOME husband!! I love this man so much!! He loves me unconditionally and has taught me how to do the same. 🙂

Since I never had a birthday party and emphatically said that I did not want a party, Big Daddy Cain, was determined to make the party happen anyway.  And boy did he do it right…. just the way I would have planned it for myself.  No stuffy formal party, just a good old time with good music, delightful food and lots of fun.

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Some of the catered grill food. Amazing!

A friend a some kids are shooting me with water guns.

A friend and some kids are shooting me with water guns.

My 81-year old mom.

My 81-year old mom.

My God-mother and 70+ year old aunt. Another one of the nine sisters. :)

My God-mother and 70+ year old aunt. Another one of the nine sisters. 🙂

My 70+ year old aunt came out to celebrate. Lover her! One of my mom's nine sisters.

My 70+ year old aunt came out to celebrate. Lover her! One of my mom’s nine sisters.

My wonderful brother and I. I am so proud of Lou.

My wonderful brother!  I am so proud of Lou.

Ms. Doris Hopkins and her staff at Miss Dee's Cookie Bar did an outstanding job on the food.

Ms. Doris Hopkins and her staff at Miss Dee’s Cookie Bar did an outstanding job on the food.

50 Even after the official partied ended, a few of us continued to celebrate.

The next day, (Sunday) the party continued with a few of the same friends. Lol!

The next morning/afternoon, we're still toasting to my birthday and to friendship. Lol!

The next morning/afternoon, we’re still toasting to my birthday and to friendship. Lol!

A once in a lifetime shot of me doing shots of tequila with my mother.

A once in a lifetime moment of me doing shots of tequila with my mother and a few friends.

Nothing beats having good people in your life who accepts you for who you are. The  number of friends that you have is not important, it is the quality and authenticity of the relationships that matters most.  I cherish my family and closely knit circle of friends.  You guys are the best and thank you again for a lifetime of memories.

🙂


25 Years Going Strong!

Twenty-five years ago, June 4, 1988, 3:10 p.m. I walked down the aisle of Second Baptist Church In Atlantic City, New Jersey to exchange wedding vows with hubby.

Not one clue did I have about the amount of patience, love, sacrifice, commitment, and dedication needed to sustain 25 years of marriage and 30 years of friendship.

The one thing I knew for sure was that I deeply loved him and wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. How that would occur was a mystery that I would later sort through.

My father-in-law performed the ceremony, which made the day even more special. Although Reverend Cain died in 2003, the blessings he bestowed upon our marriage is still present today.

We were young and naïve but very committed to respecting and loving the other. I the extrovert; a crazy out going and out spoken hot-head. The contrast was my laid back introverted husband who internalized and mulled over everything before speaking. Talk about a contrast! I have wondered, “How on earth did it work?” Maturity, time, prayer, maturity, time, and more prayer helped immensely. I learned to speak less; he learned to speak more. Somehow we found a solid balance.

While I cannot speak for hubby, the past 25 years has been an enlightening journey for me. A personal journey that included bumps , bruises, detours, and exciting discoveries. Childhood relationships with my parents and between my mom and dad affected my relationship with my husband with great surprise. I saw glimpses of characteristics that I liked and that I disliked. The realization that I, and only I was empowered to make changes about myself that needed to be made was a relief. Cycles… some are meant to be broken.  The fact is that we don’t have to repeat what has been done before us. Some family traditions should end.

Sadly, I closely witnessed the shattering of too many marriages. I have never judged other marriages or thought that my marriage was better than another. I did, however, extract the lessons that I could from the failed marriages around me. So often spouses point the finger of blame, but don’t ask what did they bring to the table. In turn, my reality check is to stare in the mirror and ask, how am I doing? Do I need to make adjustments? Have I fallen off course?

Sometimes there are issues that exist within me, which require me to adjust and make changes. Other times, the pulse of our marriage needs adjusting– I think of it (the pulse) as a heart rate– Neither too fast or too slow is not good. I strongly believe that at least one person in every relationship, should have their finger on the pulse of the relationship at all times. The pulse being, the pace and mode of the relationship. Is it steady? Is it regular? How’s the vibe? Is it positive? Do things feel out of sync? They are just questions that have worked for me.

My point is that marriage is not easy. Point blank, it is hard work and by no means do I claim to be an expert. We’ve been blessed for 25 years and I hope and pray that we are blessed we a good 25 more years. While reflecting on the years, I came up with many lessons that I have personally learned. While this list could be longer, I dedicated one lesson for each year of our happy marriage.

Lessons I learned from 25 years of marriage:

  1. I learned that speaking my raw opinion, without considering hubby’s feelings was inconsiderate and to think before I speak.
  2. I learned that no matter how “I preferred” he do things, hubby is entitled and will do things the way he chooses to.
  3. I learned that I can only change and improve myself and that’s what I ought to work on.
  4. I learned that when you marry your spouse, you also marry your in-laws.
  5. I learned that just because you create babies together, doesn’t mean you will share beliefs on how to raise them. Your ideas on child rearing will differ. Compromise.
  6. I learned that your spouse will do things behind your back and you will do things behind his back.
  7. I learned that, if you allow it, children can take the sex right out a marriage.
  8. I learned that one of the two will always appreciate romance more than the other.
  9. I learned that saying, “I told you so” is unnecessary.
  10. I learned that somebody ought to know how to cook a decent meal.
  11. I learned that you will like some of your spouses friends and you will despise some of your spouses friends. You opinion won’t change his relationship with his friends.
  12. I learned that married family and friends will divorce. Try to stay neutral. Your harsh words may return and bite you in the butt.
  13. I learned not to compare my marriage to another marriage. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors and you cannot predict the future (of yours).
  14. I learned that solid marriages are built on friendships. Maintain a friendship with your spouse.
  15. I learned to establish and maintain my identity and independence.
  16. I learned to become educated, even if you wish to be a stay-at-home.
  17. I learned to expect the unexpected.
  18. I learned to plan for the future, but live everyday in the present.
  19. I learned why older couples like my parents slept in separate beds. Thankfully, we haven’t gotten to that point.
  20. I learned that the affirmation, “A women’s work is never done” is true.
  21. I learned that husbands and wives should have separate clothing closets and bathroom sinks.
  22. I learned that spirituality is important to a marriage.
  23. I learned that spouses who work hard as a team can accomplish amazing feats and can overcome incredible obstacles.
  24. I learned that spouses who hang out together are genuinely happier couples.
  25. I learned that your spouse is not a mind reader.  Don’t assume that your spouse knows what you want.  Tell your spouse what you want.

Hubby and I have shared 25 solid good years. Were the years always perfect? No, but we’ve always managed to work through our differences in the most respectful ways and treat the other the way we wish to be treated. I am thankful for the 25 shares we’ve shared and pray for 25 more.

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June 4, 1988

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Exchanging wedding bands

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Spontaneous trip for our anniversary to Cancun, Mexico (2002 or 2003)

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Hubby forgot to tell me that we had an appointment for a family portrait immediately after leaving spending the day at an outdoor park. OMG! Look at those heads! LOL!

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NYE late 1990’s (I wasn’t natural then… I wish I were)

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NYE, Washington, DC – Late 1990’s – The Beehive look.