The Harsh Reality For One Teen

 

IMG_2084An upright small black suitcase on wheels stands on the curb. Next to it are two large and nearly filled plastic bags with orange shoe boxes inside.  Easily identifiable is the Nike brand logo. A tethered book bag and a few other loose items perched on the blacktop.

Young, athletic looking, lean, and flawless nearly onyx colored skin, Jay moves from the rays of Georgia’s blazing summer’s heat and into the shade under a large crape myrtle.

He’s been sitting curbside for a few hours. Jokingly my daughter says, invite him in to stay over, but that’s not an option.  Seriously my cup runneth over with a house of five multi-generational people, but still, my heart is never full.

I saw Jay at the end of my five-mile morning walk.  After showering, polishing my toenails, moisturizing my locs, and snacking, he still lingered in the parking lot in front of the community clubhouse.

Now my heart softens for him. Without even talking to Jay, I figured out what most likely happened.  He had “the look.”

The look of a bewildered teen who thought he knew but begins to realize he isn’t nearly as smart as he thought.

The look of a dejected youth attempting to pilot unknown territory.

The look of a juvenile who is facing the harsh reality of his consequences.

The look of an astonished adolescent who can’t believe his parents put him out.

The look of fear and not knowing what to do next.

Since the temperature was well over 90 degrees outside, I decided to offer him a bottle of cold water.  Hubby walked over with me. I told Jay that I noticed he’d been sitting in front of the clubhouse for a few hours and asked if he wanted the water.

Graciously he thanked me and accepted the water. After a few minutes, hubby left us, and we talked. He was comfortable talking to me. I asked, “So, what’s the story? Why are you out here?”

The day before was Jay’s 19th birthday. To protect his privacy, I call him Jay. He decided to stay out all night. It seems, Jay’s decision was the final straw for his parents. This morning, when he arrived home, as expected, all hell broke loose.

“He wants to see me fail,” is what, Jay said. The 19-year-old lives at home with his mom, dad, and younger sibling. He says his dad could have waited until Thursday to kick him out, but he did it today. Thursday is payday. Thursday would have been more convenient. Jay is learning that bad things typically occur at the most inconvenient time. I also sensed the tension was between Jay and his father.  All of Jay’s comments were preferenced by “he.”  No comments referenced his mother.

There are no perfect words but having been on both sides of the fence, I understood.  I listened to Jay’s story and gave him my perspective.

I told him that without ever meeting or talking to his parents, I suspected the situation was a culmination of events. He shrugged his head in agreement, smiled just enough to show his pretty white teeth, and began to tell me more.

I tried to encourage him, as well as, give him realistic advice and without a preachy tone.  I told him my story of being kicked out of my mom’s house many years ago. To provide him with hope, I explained that my mother now lives with me.  The look on his face was priceless!  I also wanted him to know that his situation is temporary and that it is possible for him to improve his relationship with his parents.

I suggested that when he speaks to his parents, that he show up humble. Apologize with sincerity.  Avoid making excuses. Own his choices and mistakes. Only listen and don’t talk back. His body language and the slight shake of head told me that he wasn’t ready for that type of conversation. I hope he gets there…sooner than later.

He planned to stay the night at a hotel and would figure things out later. I hope that 24 hours later, his perspective changes. I told Jay I would pray for him and his family; he gave me a fist pump and thanked me.

Jay’s story isn’t unique. His situation is a reminder of the ongoing impediments we face raising children. But also the challenges and pressures teens face.  No two stories are the same, but every family faces some challenges.

Reflecting on Jay’s situation, my thoughts are:

  • Kindness is free and so is caring, we must practice as often as possible.
  • When we become so immersed in our own lives, we often fail to notice the people, places, and objects around us. We miss seeing the sad colleague, the depressed child, the ill parent, or someone else who is down and out.
  • We must consciously see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. When we fully engage all five senses, we are cognizant of our surroundings and are more inclined to notice unusual circumstances.
  • To judge others is often instinctive.  However, when we see a situation that is seemingly odd, instead of judging the person or thinking of oneself, offer a listening ear, a kind gesture, or at least acknowledge the persons struggle.  I am not naive and understand the concern for safety. I remember a story from my amazing and generous bestie.  While driving alone on the busy Garden State Parkway, she noticed a car with a woman, whom she did not know, in distress on the shoulder of the road. Many cars passed the lady, but my friend empathized with the stranger and stopped to help her. 🙂

A few days have passed since I met Jay. I haven’t seen him and hope and pray that his situation has improved.

I share this story to emphasize what conscious living looks like but also to encourage you to stay present.  It takes work.

There was a time in my life when I would not have noticed Jay.  Even worse I am ashamed to say; there was a period in my life when I would have seen Jay and jumped to all kinds of false and unfavorable conclusions about him. Lack of exposure, fear, and an idiosyncratic attitude can hold you hostage to impaired thinking.

The current climate in this country of divisiveness, name calling, hatred, and lack of acceptance of people who are different or have opposing views, is disturbing. That’s why it is critical that we live moment-to-moment (mindfully) and engage in kindness and compassionate toward one another.  We cannot achieve complete wellness without consideration for others.

Love and kindness are never wasted.
They always make a difference.
They bless the one who receives them,
and they bless you, the giver.

-Barbara De Angelis

Thanks for visiting! 🙂

 

 

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Breaking Thanksgiving Tradition

Thanksgiving 2013 was probably the first in umpteen years that I didn’t start my day with a 10 mile run or an intense workout.

Finally the moment arrived when I had to decide which was most important– finishing dinner for our small gathering of 10 or heading to the gym for about an hour a half to work out. LOL!

Honestly, the gym is what I wanted to do more than anything else. But I realized that I’d be more stressed after the gym trying to complete dinner.

Our holiday dinner yesterday was different from any other. Why? The sudden death of my aunt took a lot of my family to Tennessee. My mother is one of nine sisters. Aunt Gatha was the baby. Auntie was hilarious and made my childhood years so colorful.

Traditionally our Thanksgiving and holiday dinners serve 30+ family, friends, and anyone in need of a meal or just a warm loving environment.

So this year we celebrated Thanksgiving dinner with absence of the family matriarchs with a small intimate group of cousins. This was the FIRST time in my 40+ years that we’ve done this.

For different reasons, we’re all consciously watching our waistline. We decided to break Thanksgiving tradition and skip the turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce and a few other staple items.

Instead we created out own little seafood fest! Why? Just because and to create new memories. Also, we love seafood. Life is short… Live it well!

The eve of Thanksgiving was so relaxing.  Unaware of my actions, I captured B’Dazzle enjoying some quiet time.

Both ovens are full and the stove top is in full gear.  Just waiting...

Both ovens are full and the stove top is in full gear. Just waiting…

Usually this table is set for the family elders.  My cousins and I got to  eat at the big table this year.

Usually this table is set for the family elders. My cousins and I got to eat at the big table this year.

While dinner was smaller than usual, I still enjoyed the time with my family.  We chatted and laughed about old times and gave thanks for our blessings.

Me and my favorite little cousin Dom. Love her!

Me and my favorite little cousin Dom. Love her!

I am especially grateful for my wonderful, lifelong, and endless blessings.  Being able to open my home to my family, loved ones, and with others who are in need make the holidays all the more special to me.  No Thanksgiving shopping for me!

Be blessed and enjoy the weekend!


Operation Destruction!

Flying red beetles with bright yellow polka dots and bug-eyed orange and black spiders probably does not come to mind when you think of a soon-to-be 11 year-old bedroom.   Eight years ago the theme was suited for our son’s bedroom.  The theme has run its course and I am amazed at how quickly that years have passed.  It is time to give Tailor’s room an overhaul.

My procrastination delayed this project by two months, but since school starts for both of us in a few weeks, it’s time to tackle his room.  Last week, every day after CrossFit, I began to remove the wall paper.  Notice I said, “after CrossFit.”    Although hubby would have been cool with skipping CF, that was NOT an option for me.  He’s hurting, but will thank me later.

Operation destruction has begun.

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Here’s what the little bug eyed critters looked like.

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The tool table now serves as a junk magnet.

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The wall paper came off with little resistance.

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Hubby showed me how to remove the chair railing and I am thrilled that I got it off. All they do is attract dust.

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Dust magnets… be gone!!

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Some of my tools. The DIF worked well on the wallpaper, but did nothing for the borders.

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the boards DID NOT want come off the wall! OMG!

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Am not sure what I was thinking when I put all this up! LOL!

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This steamer did the job. Was a little messy, but the boarders were finally removed with the help of the steamer.

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Yay! Blank walls!


Acceptance or change?

“…A Psychologist told me that to change; I have to want to change.  Well I don’t want to change, and I’m going to stay just the way I am!”

Were the adamant words recently spoken by my mom. For seven years, I’ve lived with this mindset of hers and, although we’ve come to somewhat of an understanding, every now and then we have our moments.

On Thanksgiving Day, mom stepped, what I refer to as, out of her lane.  Mom didn’t like the way her niece (my cousin) had styled her 12-year old daughter’s hair and felt compelled to tell her niece so.  She delivered an awfully harsh and cruel opinion that was unsolicited and inappropriate.

I politely reminded mom that if she didn’t have anything nice to say, to say nothing at all.  Mom feels as though if she sees something that’s “not right” it is her duty to comment.  As tough as my response may sound, I have continually asked her, who deemed her judge and jury?   She dislikes my response, but cannot understand how her comments adversely affect others.

She has an abrasive and strong personality that can strike you in the jaw like a stiff upper cut.  I know how to weave and bob and respond to her blows, but not everyone can say that.

Mom knows most of my friends, and for the most part, is pretty cool with them.  Thankfully, they’ve come to know and love “Grand-mom Dynamite,” as she is affectionately called.

The recent passing of my mother-in-law and hubby’s wonderful relationship with his mom got me to thinking about me and mine.  When are we going to click? Will we ever mesh?  It’s not like I’m not trying.  Lol!!   We disagree on everything and I mean everything.

Although there’s no animosity, our daily conversations are limited to the pleasantries of “Good Morning,” “Good Afternoon,” “Good Night,” “How was your day?” “Dinner is ready,” and a few other light exchanges. I would like more from our relationship, but perhaps this is as good as it gets.

She already said that she’s not changing, so I guess the ball’s in my court.  To be fair and to bridge the gap, I’ve looked within myself to figure out where I can make change.  I have and continue to work on my patience. Her childhood was difficult and I try to be mindful of that.  I’ve forgiven her for past actions and for whatever the future holds.

I think I am at peace with what we have, but a small piece of me still wishes it could be better. Who knows, maybe our relationship will change…maybe it will stay the same… maybe it will get better.

Our present relationship is certainly an improvement over our past relationship, so I’m trying to preserve what we have.  The deficiencies in my relationship with my mom is certainly compensated in my relationship with my children and for that I am thankful.


Liquidate For A Better Life

STOP!

Slowly inhale through your nose… hold it… now slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat two or three times. I am instructing you to do so because so many of you- I mean “us” are or at some point, have been caught up in the race of living. We begin our day by getting out of bed feeling fatigued. Immediately, our minds begin to race with all the “to do’s” of the day and before we’ve even brushed our teeth, we’re sighing with trepidation. This is ridiculous! We cannot be everything to everyone in our household. Understand that the world will not stop revolving if every item does not get checked off on your “to do” list is important.

My children are 13 years apart; the lapse of 13 years has taught me well and I’d like to pass on a few words of wisdom on to you. I will admit that I was once guilty of the cardinal sin of putting everybody before me. Notice that I said, “was,” but no more! When my daughter was little, I thought that EVERYTHING HAD TO BE PERFECT. Her clothes, including her undershirts, were perfectly starched and ironed.  Every one of her gazillion hair barrets matched her extensive wardrobe. When she began eating regular food, I wouldn’t dare feed her pre-packed baby food. No! My baby had to have freshly steamed vegetables, puréed in the food processor.

I had to look put together all the time and never left the house without makeup, ironed clothes, etc… I went well above and beyond to grocery shop, cook a well balanced meal for my family, clean the house, take care of ALL my hubby’s needs, maintain a decent GPA, while attending school, blah…blah…blah…blah… and the list goes on! I KNOW that you get what I’m saying.  Like I said, it’s ridiculous! If you’re doing this STOP IT RIGHT NOW! If you’re not, good for you, you’ve got more sense than I had.

My point here is simply that we must establish and maintain balance in our lives. We cannot steadily juggle multiple items 365 days a year and not expect things to come crashing down. In just the past two months, I’ve had several serious conversations with a few women and so many women are stressed out and cannot see an end to the rat race. I am not saying that we should not take our responsibilities as moms, wives, and so forth seriously; I am simply saying that we should seek balance and not loose ourselves in the process. With all that you do, figure out what is really important, as well as, what you do for yourself, and start liquidating. Ha! Ha! That’s what I like to call it liquidating. So what if the kids eat a decent cereal for dinner; if it’s good enough to start their day with, then it’s good enough to end their day. Stop saying yes to things that you don’t have time for; and stop accommodating people that you don’t like. Eject the baggage from your life and you will feel better. Trust me, I’ve done it and it feels good.

Countless studies report that stress can have irreversible affects on our body. So, if you don’t take time to nurture your own physical, mental, and spiritual well being, you will be of no use to anyone in your family. Below are several websites that I encourage you to check out. The “Strike It Healthy” website and program was developed by a former colleague and friend. Dr. Therese Pasqualoni, she provides excellent advice and resources, supported by facts that can help you physically get back on track.

The second website was highly recommended by a dear family member who takes great pride in educating herself about her nutrition and her overall health. The last website is More magazine. I’ve been reading this wonderful magazine for several years now. I call it the magazine for real women that touch on the issues and challenges that we face in life. The magazine also has incredible inspiring stories that will inspire to pursue your dreams.

Commit to yourself to make overall healthier choices about your life. You will find that you will become happier, more productive, and will overall improve the quality of your life. Include yourself on your “to do” list. Lastly, please share any ideas or tips that you have which helps you to maintain a healthier lifestyle; I’m always looking for new ideas. “Think forward!”

Websites

http://www.strikeithealthy.com/index.htm

http://www2.healthyimmunity.com/

http://www.more.com

 


Mother May I…

>Have you considered inviting your mother to live with you? It’s been nearly six years since my husband and I moved my 76 year old mother in with us. With idealistic intentions and unrealistic expectations, we welcomed her into our home. I’m not quite sure where to begin, but I will start by saying, think long and carefully before you take this step. We are at a juncture now, where we think we made a mistake.
At the time of  Mother’s move in- Yes, I’ve been teased by family and friends, because I call her “mother” not “mom”, but both my brother and I have always called her that. Anyway, when she moved in, our household consisted of my husband and I, our 15 year old daughter, 2 ½ year old son, and 3 ½ year foster child, whom we were trying to adopt. Oh yeah, our cup ran over! From the very beginning, she tried to take the lead role. She believed that we invited her to move in because we needed a matriarch of sort to run our home. She wasn’t even close to the mark and perhaps we didn’t make ourselves clear enough as to why the invitation was extended. We were concerned about her living alone. She’s self sufficient and still drives her relatively new car; however, she has (unspoken) tendencies that would require someone to periodically check on her.

Just as there are layers to ones personality, there are deep layers to this process and each time I think I’ve got a phase or layer down pat, another springs on me like a teenager drifting through puberty. It just never stops. Sigh… Then there are the feelings of guilt. I often think, okay, I know I gave my mother hell as a teenager, she made sacrifices for me growing up, I gave her a run for her money, and so what’s up Tanya, stop whining, bite the bullet, shut up, and do what you’re suppose to do… “Honor thy mother…” “.. and thy days may be longer…” No disrespect, but the days seem longer and longer. Ha! It sounds good, but none of that stuff is working for me.

The dynamics of a home changes when anyone moves in, but especially so, when it’s a mother. You take for granted those discrete conversations between husband and wife that occurred openly in your home. Those conversations must now move behind the closed doors of the closed doors. Spontaneous intimate moments tend to be more spontaneously planned moments. You might be subjected to frequent reminders of your inability to raise children and run a household. Your quick fixes for dinner on hectic days may be viewed as neglect. Your lack of desire to physically punish your child may be taken as “sparing the rod & spoiling the child.” There’s a constant reminder that you’re not doing things the way she does them, which really means, that you’re not handling your business the right way. You might be thinking that these moments are no different than when you have children, but there are differences; you can control the movements of your children, you cannot control the movements of an adult.

I’ve already told our daughter, who is now a junior in college, to value her education, to be passionate about her career, and if a time comes, where she has to move us in, make sure she has an in-law’s quarters at her home. We’ll need our own tiny kitchen, a bathroom, and a bedroom. I want to give her and her family their space. I have a strong personality and, with the exception of a few things, am very capable of following in my mothers footsteps. I don’t even want to go there!

The tone of this post may not sound like it, but those around me will tell you that I am an upbeat, positive, optimistic person who loves to laugh.  Perhaps for some people, as they age, they see the darker side of life; while others are thankful that they are alive and well and enjoy every waking minute.  Mother, unfortunately, is not the later.  I’m not sure why.  Yes, I’ve asked and only receive bitterness and anger that she cannot get past.

I try to look at the brighter side of life. The glass is always half full. My mother is alive, where my father died when I was age 17. Mother is healthy and can do for herself. Mother has healthy siblings nearby that she can hang out with and talk to on the telephone. My mother has 76 years of wisdom to share. Mother is happy? No. Yes, my glass is half full right now; however, the inner core of self is and has been feeling unfathomable turmoil and I cannot shake it. The home climate has changed from warm to cool. Mother, I love you dearly! Mother, may I help you find a place that is more comfortable for both of us?