You’re the only woman…

The risk I took at 23 is a different risk today at 47. Times have changed. I’ve changed. I see life differently and my physical abilities aren’t as good today like years ago. Okay, these are a few of my excuses for a long-time engagement with a slow crawl to the alter. Yet, I can clearly recall what she said to me about a year ago, ‘Felita, you’re probably the only woman I know who would be engaged this long without getting married [paraphrased].’

My immediate response was silence, and then I thought to myself, “She might be correct about that statement.” Yet, just the other day I reminded myself of how listening to that and giving it weight is the sentiment she carries, and not that of my own. Albeit a disagreement or an indifference, we have independent decisions to make for particular reasons. Hence, my decision to remain engaged- with a brief hiatus- is a mutual agreement in my relationship.

Truth be told! There’s a hesitancy between us with approximately 34-years of past luggage we both are still unpacking. He, formally married for 18 years and I for 16.5. Our wounds of past agony are slow to heal, and we can now finally see progress with our communication skills where, formally, we spoke at one another. Today we now talk to and are empathetic towards each other. We further understand our beginning was in haste; hence, perspectives are realized. Nonetheless, reaching this stage has been an uphill battle but neither he nor I would have it any other way.

Conversely, we are now beginning to apply helpful tips to strengthen our relationship, such as ‘working on our whole self’ and bringing that person to the table. Though remedial to a few, these relationship nuggets are useful reminders of how the slightest misunderstanding of words can potentially lead to a large ordeal that, if mishandled, can take days or months to heal. We’ve gracefully been through that also.

With that said, me and my fiancé are going on 6-years strong with no plans of turning back. So today I will say this: Yes, you’re correct about the ‘very few women‘ who will hang this long. However, my urgency to marry is different than the next (it’s not an urgency at all)! Grant it – your and my decisions are independent but our positions are the same – direction, forward. So, I wish you well at your pace that will officially occur in a few months with one simple request … I pray you will also appreciate my walk to the alter – regardless of how slow of a pace I take.

Congrats 🎉 Mrs.!

Care with Deliverance

Challenges are plentiful in a relationship, but nothing trumps Communication. I remember the beginning of many relationships, two of which I was able to salvage after I identified the complex, yet simple problem – my Communication style. Twelve years ago before I became a parent communicating my candid thoughts weren’t as important as they are today. Not because my relationships carried less significance insomuch that I had less to lose than I do now. As a submissive wife, who wholeheartedly trusted her husband, I rarely vocalized things of the heart that was largely attributed to the incapacity to process and translate thoughts to feelings, i.e. head to heart because of the fear of what would become if I did so. Hence, it was adequate for me to suppress my inner voice and starve the heart instead. The outcome? A consensual divorce.

 “In my next relationship I will do everything in my power to not repeat the same mistakes, even if it means ‘telling my story to others to save their marriage.'”

My life at 35 carried a different perspective than my current age of 47. The reference point of knowing that I have less years ahead of me than I do behind me is relevant to the Why, When, What, How and Where of my Communication process today.

  • Why (the relevancy): Why should I communicate this today, right now instead of later? Why is it important to know what I am thinking and feeling? Why is it significant? Why do my thoughts matter?
  • When (the timing): When is it appropriate to address my (our) issue, i.e. when things have calmed or at the peak of frustration? When did I become affected by what was said?
  • What (the intent | content): Will what I say break or build the relationship? Will what I say matter insomuch to improve or takeaway from the quality of our friendship? Is the What greater than the We? What is the timing of the message: do I wait until we arrive home or should I say what is on my heart here in public?
  • How (the delivery): Will How I say impact us greatly – for better or worse? Will my message be received or ignored and How so, e.g. with love or anger, respectively? How do I phrase what I intend to say so that what I do say is accurately felt, spoken and delivered with love?
  • Where (the venue | environment | internal space): Is the setting suitable to discuss our personal matters? From where (internally) am I gathering my thoughts – a place of compassion; a place of frustration or hate; a place of jealously; a place of resentment and the list continues?

I could continue to expand upon the aforementioned points, but the focus of Communication should always be on these five main points. Attempt to always ask yourself is my message Relevant; is the Timing appropriate; what is the Intent of the Content; contemplate the appropriate deliverance by asking ‘will it lead to harm or love’ and how so; is the setting appropriate from where the problem occurred and from where the sentiments are birthed.

Again, I never said Communication is easy but I will attest to its importance! Remember I spoke of the two relationships I was able to salvage?

The first one was my marriage of 16.5 years. Although my former husband and I did divorce, we are more friendlier to one another now than we could have ever been married. Why? Because (1) We both apologized for our wrongdoings in the marriage – realizing that beginning anew would not be possible without this step, (2) We realized we hindered one another as a couple, although we were accomplished financially, because our dual obligation to cherish each other’s hearts was inadvertently and sometimes purposely ignored in the marriage, and (3) in hindsight we’d have it no other way than to remain cordial because what was not offered to us as kids, who had parents that did not communicate, would be the very thing to combat. So our daughter will forever have what she deserves – to have genuine love in her life with parents who can look beyond themselves.

The second is my current relationship to my fiance – this second g’round. After a 3-year courtship and a 2-year engagement we broke off the relationship because we grew separate and distant in personal goals. Conversely, that one-year break up was the best thing that happened to us! It allowed him to commit to a sole person, while I dated on and off. Albeit we each missed each other and didn’t realize it until we decided to remain friends (a philosophy I had never condone) separate from our individual lives. However, had he and I not decided to take a leap of faith and express our dismay about the breakup to one another, while respecting our intimate space with others, we’d be living a part wishing we should have communicated what we missed most – us. So, despite our flaws, inadequacies and divorces to our former spouses, we believe one of the most complexities of relationships can be achieved if we dare to put forth a genuine effort to understand our Communication styles.

Note the words Why, When, What, How and Where are intently used because they are the beginners of open-ended conversations that stimulates a dialog between and not at one another. Applied and used correctly will allow the initiator and receiver of words to not only respond to each other, but possibly have a discussion unknowingly – thus, the objective. Open-ended questions are widely used to gather feedback in the most clever of ways.

Oh, I gotcha back!

He’s my Baby Boy (in the voice of a mother)

Make note of how a few Black mothers may find satisfaction in parenting girls differently than that of boys.  It goes a little something like this …

Make her tough so that she becomes an independent woman to build a life of her own. If he falls or fails, he will always have a place to come back to – Momma’s house.  Teach her mannerisms, e.g. how to sit like a little lady; yet, he will learn about chivalry on his own because I am unaware of the practices because I was never a recipient.  Ensure that her self-esteem is high, otherwise she may become too vulnerable and dispensable. However, he will be okay – he’s a boy, and besides, he will always have a place to come back to if things don’t work out – Momma’s house. 

Tell her about the birds and the bees so that her pocketbook remains valuable. He will learn about manhood through the experiences of other male figures because his father isn’t in his life, but if all else fails, he will always have a place to stay – Momma’s house! I suppose you get my point! Black mothers must stop pacifying our men, implying that Momma’s house is a place to return to when the school of hard-knocks becomes unbearable. A boy should be groomed to become a man, yet returning to Momma’s house to live and subsequently build a life should be a last resort (if any).

Grooming Boys to become Men

Becoming an example to other males should be the primary focus of experienced and matured patriarchs. Conversely, matriarchs can be successful when there is a great support system that promotes and encourages paternal bonding. However, there are some mothers who may do the opposite when feelings of insecurity fuels their energy, thereby shifting the true intent. With that said, this is not to insinuate single mothers are incapable of parenting successful, responsible men insomuch to say their parenting practices should include tips from male friends and respected male mentors as it relates to their sons.

Conversely, I know, as you may also, a few examples of successful men who were brought up by single mothers, i.e. former presidents, movie directors and so many more who get little to no recognition – thus, much to their credit. However, today’s challenge is greater for mothers to groom boys to become men than it is for their fathers, particularly if the mom is parenting from her past hurt and unhealthy emotions, such as a bitter divorce or tumultuous separation that results in custodial privileges.

Mother parenting boys‘What an admirable responsibility to be given sole or joint custody,’ is a likely reaction a mother with a son may receive. However, the challenges of teaching a boy manhood principles is overwhelming if at it alone. Iyanla Vanzant, who is an “American inspirational speaker, lawyer, New Thought spiritual teacher, author, life coach and television personality among many titles,” alludes to the mother’s inability to effectively parent boys when the practice is delivered from a negative stance of constant reminders of avoidance, fear and refrain that may eventually pique an interest of curiosity instead of employing teachable moments of ‘why.’

Take, for instance, a situation where the mother is overly concerned about her son’s propensities that mimics his father, which in turn, leads to a recall of her former spouse’s conduct that negatively impacted her. Therefore, instead of an embrace of her son’s innate traits, the outcome leads to anguish and apprehension between the mother and her child that stems from place of unhealed hurt and a possible lack of closure among parents who are now divided.

The message! Be mindful that parents may divorce, but the same should not be expected in a parent-child relationship when their parents are no longer together. Further, also reserve the thought that a mother could possibly be replacing a void of her male spouse with that of her son because of her inability to trust males again.

Once Told. Believed. L-O-V-E

Once told you will never meet another, then I met him. Once told that you will never be another, and then I defied odds. Once told that you may have a challenge loving again with your whole heart because you guard it like someone has robbed you of your most private possessions, yet he still stayed. My point! Let no one, and I mean no one, put limitations on what you will or will not become, particularly as it relates to listening with your whole heart and trusting with complete vulnerability.

Is it a wonder why one guards their heart in fear of letting go because intuitively they sense and subconsciously know something does not feel correct (rhetorical). I am a part of a prayer network site where persons will post their most intimate of stories for all to not only see, but more importantly to pray about. Today I read a post from a women who was in a relationship for one year, yet recently found out that her male partner announced he was becoming a father with someone else and this announcer wanted to know what actions she should take about how she felt. Of course, I contributed my thoughts along with others.

Over and over again there are stories similar or somewhat different than the one described above. Conversely, each time an article is posted, a Facebook post is shared, a conversation occurs or an exchange of thoughts are delivered, the denominator called L-O-V-E is in the equation. This word is so powerful, yet overly used where it has and continues to lose its connotation. Instead of it meaning compassion, nurturing, maintaining, reciprocating, giving, receiving, exchanging, offering and the list continues, the acronym to mean Lusting Over Various Events (L-O-V-E) is put in its place.

Casting judgment you ask, no. Analyzing one’s actions, no. Wishing ill-intent on another, absolutely not. Perceiving myself as better, not I, who has and continues to write about my flaws and transgressions. However, I am speaking from a ‘been there done that’ perspective where finding L-O-V-E has become a regular-everyday practice such as getting up to report to a job or posting a resume in pursuit of the ideal career, rather than patiently working together toward a unified goal of becoming one, where both partners bring their whole self (100 percent respectively) to the relationship with a single purpose.

Writing from a ‘single woman’s’ perspective is not an easy task because I too desire that ideal male companion who instead will say and usher support of  the “possible” instead of the “impossible” when I am unsure of how to unwrap my whole heart for him to hold and be trusted with. He, wherever and whoever he is, will have the discernment to be patient, understanding that relationships are building blocks versus stepping stones. So, to you my prayer peer who requested advise I write, “if an open relationship existed, the outcome of you and he was to be expected. I am sorry! What should you do? Embrace your heart, cry when and if you feel the need to do so, pray and give it to God, nurture You (the whole you: good, bad and indifferent) and the hardest part – wish him well, praying he finds true love with her. Work on you so that when your [future partner] arrives you can give your whole, complete self to him. I know this is hard, yet I also know it’s possible with God at the front and center of your focus. And besides, you deserved better and this is evidence of your true worth.”

To you the reader, do not be negatively overcome with the label ‘single woman’ that I once classified as a stigma, particularly when you are at my age of 47 this year. Of course, the perspective is different when you are put in a situation that you once viewed. So let my admission be the lesson of what not to do! Hence, I am not new to the scenes of the ‘single’s life,’ yet I am exercising different principles, ridding myself of what did not work the two times prior. And I am observing my flaws, working on my voids, praying often, engaging in dialogues, welcoming advice, socializing with others, listening to my heart more and less with my head (A Libra trait to a fault) and praying to be prepared to give of myself completely to whom is equally prepared to go with me in God’s path. Hopeful thinking? Perhaps too soon, yet whose to say there is a time frame for quality companionship. *Photo credit: Inspired Whole-Self Therapy (Purple Sage Healing)

Mastering Your Lane

Until recently I did not really understand the essence of this statement. I heard someone say, as I now echo the importance of Learning your role and Mastering your lane. What does it all mean? The interpretation may vary, depending on who you ask, when, why and how. The asking of this question from women will differ in response from that of men. The ‘when’ of asking may invoke an unwelcoming response or unexpected behavior whereas the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of asking may not sit well either. So let’s talk about this for a minute.

Let’s take for instance your new position as Office Assistant. The staff welcomes you with open arms. You are introduced to your work responsibilities that of which include assisting others on how to best and seamlessly alleviate their stress, i.e. answering telephones, interacting with clients and the list continues. In this capacity you are later expected to adhere to subsequent duties because you have mastered your primary function with such tact, diplomacy and professionalism. Consequently, you are an essential fiber to the office whereas if absent, stress and chaos are apparent. With that said, now envision the staff without you!

If we, as employees are consciously able to give of our best selves to an employer, why is it that we lack the same practice in our personal space? The answer is complicated, but chiefly found in the protocols and guidelines that regulate our behaviors in the workplace which are less governed in our personal lives. The aforementioned vignette displays a sense of loyalty from the Office Assistant to the employer because there are capital interests attached, e.g. job promotion, employee recognition or peer notoriety that could possibly lead to professional openings. Whereas, in our personal lives the comparison may be abstract.

Staying in our lane and mastering our respective responsibilities are paramount in both aspects of our life – professional and business. Hence, I will be the first to admit, I have failed in this department, which is probably how I know so much about it. So let’s talk about how this can be introduced and better achieved so that both components of our lives are met. As one who is competent, proficient and effective in business development, I have worked in various capacities of sales: door-to-door, inside, outside, tangible, intangible, face-to-face, consumer-to-business, business-to-consumer and telemarketing to name a few. However, those who know me well may say my forte is that of an effective speaker of large audiences. Conversely, there is self admission to the enjoyment and comfort of a speaker role that I attribute to four years as a health instructor who still occasionally teaches life-saving techniques to persons who desire to learn and master the practices of CPR, AED and first aid.

Conversely, I am further confident in other fields of profession, particularly ones that are autonomous. Nonetheless, I am aware of what areas of business I am my best self although discerning this in my personal life is a recent pursuit. I function best when I visually see progress. However, I also realize and you will regularly hear me say that ‘Progress is defined as steps forward toward a goal, objective, project or mission, no matter the pace,’ which speaks to how we should all learn from our past to no longer be stuck there, yet grow from that stagnant position.

Is it ever a wonder how the personal bothers in our life have a spill-over detriment into our professional positions and vice versa. For instance, did the argument with your significant other leave you unprepared to finish that urgent- deadline-group project the next day? Or did your personal counseling session last night ultimately lead to the inaccurate figures you sent to the client, costing your department $16,000 in overhead costs? How about that awestruck comment from the VP who sent out a company email about how you caught a miscalculation in the business proposal that may have resulted in an over-staffing of volunteers on the company’s humanitarian assignment?

Stay in Your LaneThese are all examples of how we can either manage or mismanage our emotions. Further, these are also patterns that exude mixed emotions when our minds are at peace or, worse, disrupted. Conversely, we, as employees are often in tune with self that when there is an inkling of discomfort in our professional space we can usually discern the end result, i.e. conversation with the boss and the like. We are likewise able to decipher the same sentiments in our personal space, but the difference is often in our incapacity to exercise these practices. Simply put, we have policies and procedures in the work place that guides our actions, emotions, behaviors and the list continues – these actions inadvertently keep us in line with appropriate and inappropriate conduct or else our job is at stake. Unfortunately, this is viewed differently with our loved ones.

Grant it, there are a few who have mastered the skill of ‘staying in their lane,’ yet I am sure personal guidelines are at the core of their persistence and its consistency because we are all flawed. Therefore, learning, staying and mastering your lane is simply put as one’s understanding of the role s/he has in another’s life. Albeit a mother who accepts her role as mother and endorses the concept with complete onus. That mother will nurture, console, consult, guide and instruct her offspring in the different paths they must go; however, the mother will also know when to set aside personal time for her young to develop and grow individually, thereby appearing to be emotionally distant only long enough until she needs to hold her daughter’s heart or grab her son’s hand to deliver that maternal grace of leading each child by example. This same mother possesses a particular discernment whereas she will intuitively listen to her heart, asking it and God to guide her along the trails of wisdom and streams of maturity so that her respect remains in tact.

This mother who holds wifely responsibilities is further confident in her role as the spouse. She is considered an equal and respected partner because she brings her whole self to the relationship. Her heart is healed of past hurt and although she may speak of the past, her words are delivered with empathy and without contrite. She further ushers her husband in his masculinity, encouraging him and endorsing his dreams as the sole cheerleader and exclusive partner that he desires and deserves. His pains are her pains. His hurt is her hurt. His past is her past because it’s been shared as luggage lifted along the way towards a healthy relationship for the two to enjoy and reflect upon as lessons learned. She is his buddy and he likewise. They are cognizant of one another’s space because they realize that space and silence allows oneself to gather thoughts so that hasty words and reactive steps aren’t introduced. Both are attentive to the other’s needs, respecting the body, mind and spirit they each share in the place they call home – please read my post about how a home differs from that of a house.

Mr. Husband, who may have been hurt before is transparent about his wounds, yet possesses an astuteness for personal counsel to help him heal beyond the hurt. Because he has a partner in his wife, he is conscious of her wants, desires, needs and the essential ‘me’ times needed. Instead of interrogating her, he solicits responses with selective-word choosing. The traditional ‘telling his wife what to do’ does not sit well with him because he knows that will quickly result in her ‘feeling some kinda way,’ so he instead engages in substantial conversations that includes words like ‘we, us and our’ because they both know that the ‘I’s, me’s and you’s’ of conversations can drive each in separate directions. Mr. Head of Home will ask for his wife’s input in decision making because he realizes that exclusivity may lead to toxic situations that could have been prevented and avoided.

These respective roles are challenging to perfect. Mastering one’s lane simply implies that whatever role you are given in another’s life, you are expected to be that and more. Study your role description, become efficient in it, excel in it, promote it, guard it, nurture it, praise it and usher others who are misguided on how to become a like-minded peer of that great spouse, awesome co-worker, loving husband, unforgettable partner and appreciative boss. Venture out, daringly asking others how you may help them feel better about themselves so that others can feel the spill-over benefit. Don’t shun the opportunity to become the awesome mother to your child because your own lacked the ability to do so. And most importantly, embrace your role as wife, mother, significant other or partner, viewing it as a title that you wear proudly, adopt fully and apply proficiently. You are not a label because there can never be a monetary value attached.

When God gives us the title parents, we are actually chaperones of his children. If we each veer from our assigned and respective lanes, we thereby engage in areas of neglect. As with that opening position where you were hired to create that seamless atmosphere at your workplace, you are thereby accountable to ensure the role at home is properly filled so that spill-over detriments and loss of emotional stability are proactively handled to create a happy home instead of an unstructured house.

Be kind to others. There is enough to g’round!

Cheers –