Reigh’n in on Making Holidays Merry and Bright

It never fails.

Every year, I’m inundated by the same question.

There is this bruited notion that “I am in the know” pertaining to Atlanta events.

And the nothing could be further than the truth.

“So, what’s there to do around Atlanta (the ATL) for the holidays,” they will ask or text. “Any suggestions?”

Crickets.

I totally “get them.” Been there.

Some, my friends, are in a quandary because they have the funds and don’t know where to go.

Some are in panic mode because they have friends or relatives coming in and don’t have the foggiest idea what to do.

Then there are those who would like to impress their significant others but unsure how to do it in Atlanta.

But here’s the thing: Atlanta is very accommodating to families. Over the holidays, there are a plethora of things to entertain the family for days.

I always recommended places such as Stone Mountain Park where families could enjoy the lights, the train ride, Snow Mountain or the magical lights of Lake Lanier. My family and I always enjoyed skating at Centennial Park.

Now for adult entertainment, these days I’m just as perplexed as those asking for advice. Maybe it is just me, but I always found that Playhouses only offer Christmas shows, which doesn’t appeal to me—never has. And there are slim pickings for musical entertainment unless it is held at the Fox for New Years and the tickets aren’t cheap.

Next weekend, my house will be full for the holidays. We decided—if the weather permits—to visit new parks, pick new towns to explore and of course, trying new restaurants. But as I told those who inquired about holiday happenings, I’m more excited about the family/friend bonding experience. And for once, I am not pursuing holiday events.

Right now, I am trying to talk my daughter into accompanying me to an “Ugly Sweater Party.”

“Think about the fun it’ll be searching for the ugly sweater,” I say happily.

“That sound really…….fun, Mah,” she says rolling her eyes.

“Think about the laughter and besides, we’ve never been before. Let’s at least try it.”

Ok, so it’s something to do.

So, if I had to give any advice or suggestions, I tell my friends to create their own fun. My fun is or can be local and spontaneous. And I always have plenty of suggestions for “off the cuff” fun activities.  My version of fun is listening to some local music with friends and having friends over on Christmas Eve for a Christmas cook-off. That means some friends and I will be challenging each other with new (or improved–laugh) dishes.

Thankfully, my children who are in their 20s are so over anything cultural or “entertaining.” Knowing my “creative children” they will probably suggest movies and dining and I am ok with that.

Atlanta may have a lot to offer. But, there is nothing like family and friends to make the season….brighter.

And that is real talk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She’s a hard habit to break

      I’m told it takes 21 days to form a habit. Some habits come naturally; others you must cultivate until it feels natural and takes. Healthy habits can form attachments/bonds to people or things.

My habit occurred “accidentally on purpose” and it has much enhanced my life.

About two years ago, I was home and mindlessly channel surfing when I came across this new religious talked show hosted by an African-American woman, with a catchy name, much like Oprah.  Bored, I was about to turn when she announced:  “Up next, I will be talking to the dynamic founder of an inspirational and empowering Christian Blog for designed for the everyday woman.”

And she didn’t disappointment on the show. Immediately, I read her phenomenal blogs, article and her magazine and I was hooked!  Then to my surprise, I found that we shared uncanny similarities which I sure solidified my bond and habit of reading her posts daily: We are both Mothers, Journalists, Bloggers who love our families immensely and have made a conscious habit of putting them first. Her life experiences mirrored mine and I found that very comforting and delightful. I become an avid fan of her factual accounts of the Bible and how she expertly humanized many of the experiences and characters. To do this, she expertly intertwined parables, much like Jesus to tell relatable stories. Additionally, I could appreciate her personal stories about her journeys, the growth, and development of her children and her supportive husband. The thing I loved the most was receiving those habitually Facebook e-blasts that gave me that extra—and much needed inspirational oomph.

      Then something went terribly awry.

Mysteriously and without warning, her writing just ceased. No more daily blast or video blogs!!!!! It’s been two months, and her fans are concerned. Is she okay? Is her family okay? Is she sick?  Or, is she taking a much-needed break? There are thousands of messages on her page from well-wishers. The tables are now turned: we want to give her inspiration.  It is she who needs the inspiration and we—her supporters—are sending floodgates of messages of hope and prayers for her, her family and her circumstances—which we hope aren’t detrimental.

I accept this fact: Even those who minister/counsel get burnt out and need a respite. While strong people give so much to others, sometimes their souls need to be replenished. Whatever the case, I understand. I’ve been there.

Still, in all, I want to encourage her—and others- with these inspiring words from motivational speaker and Life Coach, Drew Canole: “A strong person is not the one who doesn’t cry. A strong person is the one who cries and shed tears for a moment then gets up and fights again.”

     In the meantime, I plan to keep up my habitual habit of checking daily on her page for personal/professional updates. I can only imagine when she returns–it will be simply awesome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

911: Hello God, it’s me, LaLinda

“911, what’s your emergency?” the operator’s robotic voice still reverberates in my head and intermittently in my dreams.

The life and near-death experience occurred that fateful Friday in February— eight months ago—that feels like yesterday. No, the emergency call wasn’t for me, but my friend who was having a stroke. Through this heartbreaking and startling experience, our lives have forever changed such as being just plain thankful for the things/people/situations/second chances we take for granted.

Emergencies happen. And yet, I always questioned my abilities to handle life-and-death crisis. Adamantly, I always stressed to family and friends, “Don’t call me if there’s an emergency. I’m really not the one,” I said making million of excuses.

Even today, I still ponder, “So, how does one ever prepare for an emergency?” And naturally, the answer always is the same: “Who’s ever prepared?”

Unbeknownst to me, God would test this fallacious notion when faced with calamity.  My mind reels back to that fateful night.

Actually, that Friday, My friend and I were in a great celebratory mood–and rightfully so!!! We were both jovial and excited by new changes/opportunities in our lives.  My friend, who is a Real Estate agent, had two closing and several other offers pending.   As for myself, I was over the moon because my prayers manifested:  I finally found an editor, who just happened to be my son’s girlfriend’s Mom.

We agreed that evening we would go to our favorite Mexican spot to rejoice.

“Click, clang,” our glasses echoed our exuberance. “To our dreams,” we said in unison.

Then, I turned my head towards the singer who was belting out 70s/80s songs. I couldn’t help but sing along while I reminisced about my younger days. “I know you remember this song, remember? I said laughing.

Only Debbie wasn’t laughing. She placed her hands to her mouth, I guess to stop the projectile vomiting that came fast and profusely.

Momentarily, I froze. “Could it be food poisoning or the wine?” I thought but quickly dismissed either possibility.  The situation was getting progressively worse by the minute.

“Where’smycreditcardit’shereIjustsawitwhat’shappeningtomeLauriandthe,” she slurred, totally discombobulated.

I remember vividly, the place was in total commotion. By God’s Grace, three men interceded to help Debbie because her legs were numb, yet wobbly.

How we got home is still a blur. But I can still hear her voice telling me “You can leave me now, I’ll be alright.” I didn’t leave her side. A perceptive neighbor to help.  Yet, it was his wife who made the “insightful, medical call.”  I’ll never forget these words “She’s having a stroke,” and then called for help.

“911, what’s your emergency?” the operator asked again.

       Fast forward to today. My friend’s recovery has been long and arduous for her and those of us who have been her caretakers. She’s had to undergo extensive therapy to regain her cognitive skills, physical therapy, and today has to see many doctors/specialist. Her vision is seriously impaired and she also dealing with neuropathy symptoms in her hands and feet. To combat this condition, her doctors advised she walk as much as possible and that is what we do.

We call our special time “walk and talk sessions.” The other day, she jarred my memory about my “misusing my words.”

“Remember, you said that you weren’t good in emergencies?” she asked.

“Well you are,” she said. “God prepared to put you in place to help other people in dire emergencies. Remember, you played an integral role in helping your mother, your son and then me. He knew you could do it, LaLinda.”

Tears welled up in  my eyes. There were a lot of mixed emotions: sadness, joy and yet, I felt relief knowing that these medical emergencies changed the trajectory of my life—and the words I  now use. I no longer doubt my abilities to step up and step in if needed.

These days, I can confidently say: “If there’s a medical situation, call me. I can handle it.”

Then, I pray for strength and confidence and  then watch how God intercedes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abusers, you have been served: Love isn’t suppose to hurt

Love hurts.

Say it aloud

Love hurts—literally and figuratively—to women who don’t leave the men who profess to love them publicly but beat them privately.

The Huffington Post reported this fact: Every nine seconds in the United States, a woman is being beaten.  Sadly,  the morgues are filled with women who were “loved to death” by:

Their husbands

Their live-in boyfriends

Their “friend”

Their “Baby’s Daddy”

Their common-law-husbands

Their exes

Their roommates

Their jealous stalkers

Their oppressors

Oftentimes, abused women are silenced by their abusers. Women often cite they fear their abusers will retaliate by turning their abuse on their children or family members.  In other cases, women will remain silent so they won’t be blamed for provoking their abusers, who in turn will blame them for causing the abuse.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, (NCADV) website, it states:  “Domestic violence is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. It is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior that is only a fraction of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and in severe cases, even death. The devastating physical, emotional, and psychological consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.”

“Is this “Love,” “Is this Love,” “Is it Love” that I’m feeling?

An abused woman who has been emotionally “beat down” believes and will make such statements as “When he beats me, I know he loves me.”

An abuser will manipulate women into “forgiving them in the name of love or to salvage their “loving” relationship.”

During the “honeymoon period,”  the abuser convinces a woman he will change and profusely profess his love…..until the inevitable happens and the cycle starts all over again.

Police officers have stated when they arrest the abuser, the victim will beg them not to take the abuser away. And, it is not       uncommon for the woman to bail out the abuser.

And in the name of love, reconcile with them for various reasons.

Stop! Stop! Stop! In the Name of Love…..

     Stop! Demoralizing our Mothers

Stop! Muting our sisters—biological and our sisters in the struggle

Stop brutalizing  our friends

Stop this very second, tormenting women and terrorizing  children

Stop! I command these abusers  to stop, look, and listen to those who will advocate for women who are be victimized.

Love is not supposed to hurt.

Love should not have to hurt to feel “right or normal.”

Make loving you or someone you know a priorityFor anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ooo, Ooo, ooo, I have a New Attitude–I think……

    This post is about personal venting and inner angst. Pet Peeve 1001.

I deserve the right to have a well-deserved, pent-up, conniption fit. NOTHING— and I mean NOTHING—enrages me more than to work days and hours on a writing piece—then click PUBLISH and I lose the dang piece!!!!

In that moment, I seething as I stare at the blank screen thinking about the time invested in editing, writing, re-writing, condensing, finding the right word, using examples and illustrations and…….

Whoosh! My Pulitzer Prize Masterpiece is floating out in cyberspace.

“What the #XO@!!!!!.” I scream like a wild banshee. There has to be some comfort in the retrieval process. Painstakingly, I have to backtrack—if that even possible.

Wait! Didn’t I go through the process of Control C (Copy) and Control V (Paste)

Check.

I remember awhile back I selected AUTO SAVE  which AUTOMATICALLY supposedly saves my work every five minutes–or so.

It’s checked, but obviously, this feature must not have kicked in.

Step Two: Check possible folders and especially Desktop. A friend, who’s an IT expert, says “Try Clipboard.”

NOTHING.

I’ve screamed; I’ve vented; I’ve cursed, and cried. Good!

This might hard to explain to non-writers, but here goes. When I get an idea, I feel compelled to write about it. Most times, the idea is still forming before I get to the computer. The excitement is to get the computer when the idea is fresh. There’s a thousand ideas percolating and most times, I cannot type fast enough. Inwardly, there’s an unexplainable joy of taking a minuscule idea from inception to fruition. One idea hooks onto the next, and before I know it, the piece is writing itself. While it may sound passé, but writing is a calling. As a writer, I don’t mind the rewrites or editing. But replicating a piece? It doesn’t feel natural.

I thought about author J.K. Rowling, who created the wildly popular Harry Potter Books.  I read Rowland was a single mother on welfare, who composed most of her work on napkins in a coffee shop. It made me think about her love for the craft and being crafty enough to write by any means necessary. She didn’t have the option of using a computer, using the many features to Save, Copy, and Paste. Her experience made me really assess myself and my writing situation.

I catch myself: “LaLinda, you have other options!”

Now, where’s that computer option to  RELAX, REWIND,  REJUVENATE, and RELEASE?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Independence Day from a Mother to her adult children

Mom, I have good news!” my son announces while taking a seat at the kitchen table.

I cease making dinner and fold my arms. “Please enlighten me,” I tease him.

“I’m looking for new places to live,” he says.

“You did say places?” I question him for clarity and my own hearing purposes.

He rolls his eyes in exasperation.

I get him.

I’m being “extra.”

I struggle to curb my enthusiasm—for the both of us—as tears well up in my eyes.

“I’ve been looking at apartments, Condos, townhouses, and possibly lease purchases,” he explains.

Does the song “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang adequately express my exhilaration? I have only dreamed of this moment since he returned home from college three years ago.  In two months, he’ll be 24; he has a good job and he’s ready for this next stage: paying his own rent/mortgage.

Empty nesting is a welcomed transition. My older son left for college and never returned home. My second son will be leaving soon and my daughter, who’s in college, will be leaving home this time next year.

Knowing my children can and will fly–and so will I–I’m actually looking forward to being HOME ALONE.

Truthfully, I’m looking forward to BEING HOME ALONE!  I so look forward to:

  • Sitting, lying, lounging, napping or sleeping in the nude.
  • The chance to be “irresponsible” after being responsible for 27-plus years.
  • Making decisions for one—me, myself, and I.
  • Downsize, super size, sell, rent, close up my house—because I can
  • Lower bills/expenses
  • And “Stella Getting her Groove Back” (on, whatever works) without having adult children to consider or around.

Since my son’s announcement, I think my adult children’s leaving will change the dynamics of what we—as a family—use to do; how we get together, shorter visits and them returning to their own homes. I love the sound/feel of that already.

The Circle of Life–We’re now Seniors!

Ding-dong! AARP calling!

If you’re unfamiliar with the acronym—I was also oblivious– AARP stands for American Association for Retired Persons

Without fail, on a monthly basis, AARP sends me an envelope with an enclosed red and white card, ready for activation. My name is embossed on the card making it feel/seem official.

The only thing official in my mind of course, is that by law and age, I am now a Senior Citizen.   I short, I have arrived.

Officially, this new “identification” has put me in serious denial.

Ok, so here are the realities checks.

Graying hair

Physical limitations

The “Senior Moments”

Worldly experience

And my own built in bias—I don’t want join anything pertaining to seniors.

Yes, I have it bad.

But I’m so in denial that I most times, I miss the actual benes—as in benefits/discounts—even when they’re offered at restaurants, car washes, movies etc—chalk it up to ignorance or um, arrogance.

The other day, I attended an informational seminar and the speaker just happened to mention the advantages of becoming a member of this reputable organization. Later that day, I did a little research and found out the benefits aren’t that shabby.  According to AARP website, benefits include access to health care products, discounts on auto and home owners’ insurance, not to mention a plethora of other services. And here’s the added bonus: discounts on travel, dining, travel and much more.

In other words, membership has its privileges.

The yearly membership is $16 and the bonus is if you join, you can add your spouse or partner for free.

Additionally, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that AARP advocates for its members on a local, state and national level on such pertinent issues as affordable medical costs, medical care, housing among other causes that inevitably will affect us all—and our families/caretakers.

I had to seriously re-evaluate my own “pride and prejudices” of feeling and self-categorizing myself because the reality is—all day long—is that it is what it is.

The other day a friend made me laugh until I cried.  “Girl! These days, I would consider it a compliment if they asked me to produce a card or my driver’s license! You know you got it good, when they just start applying the senior discount. Please!”

Now that the idea is settling with me, it’s time to get with the program—literally and figuratively speaking…..as in AARP.

For more information go to http://www.AARP.org.

 

 

 

 

Never Can Say Good-bye

Adiós

Aloha

Arrivederci

Ciao.

 Bon voyage

 Sayonara

Bye Felicia!

Good-bye.

Wah!!!!!!!!

No matter how many ways I say it, saying good-bye is never easy. In fact, it’s down right uncomfortable no matter how it’s said or received.  Good-bye is usually affiliated with pain and finality.  Good-bye can also be closure or it can be temporary–as in for now.

By the time we reach adulthood, we learn that some good-byes are simply inevitable. Our lives changes and so does our circumstances. Nobody can foresee death, but  when it happens, we know good-byes are in order.   On Wednesday, August 10, 2016, I’ll will say good-bye to my dear friend Vicki because she and her husband are moving to Pennsylvania.

Honestly,  I’m feeling a certain kind of way. Somehow, the words continue to get caught in my throat– I am in denial. Sure, I attended her going away party last week, but it doesn’t mean I’m emotionally good. While I am happy for her, I cannot help feeling sadness but not sorry for myself.  In fact, I consider myself lucky that Vicki and I became friends. These days, I am very cautious who I call friend, but in this case, I feel so honored she’s part of my life.

Writing about our friendship—even now—is bittersweet.  I thought I could detach and just write from the heart, but it’s not working too well emotionally. Even as the tears fall, I continue to write this tribute to Vicky. So, here goes. Our friendship took flight in 2005/2006, when we worked together as teachers assistants. Nobody told us how strong we would have to be in this daily, challenging environment.  Luckily, Vicki is the epitome of being cool, calm and collected.  You’ll rarely ever see her sweat. One of her many attributes is that Vicki is positive which I immediately gravitated to despite my best intentions to stay aloof. I remember us laughing until our sides hurt when I told her what I was really thinking about her:

Who’s this happy chick?

 Who shows up with this can-do-attitude?

 Who always has a scripture or common sense example off the cuff?

And who, pray tell, even recognizes their co-worker whose a bit stand offish and won’t even return a smile.

Vicki.

“Hey Love,” she’d say giving me a big hug the first thing Monday morning. Really?

“Hey yourself,” I say after the embrace while looking at her sideways.

“I’ve already observed you have mad creative skills. Great! You and I are going to get along fine. Did I mention I told some of the teachers you’re also  writer too?”

“Girl please,” I said rolling my eyes in disdain.

Yet, Vicki never gave up on me.  Somehow, she has this uncanny ability to love deep from the heart and to love unconditionally—flaws in all. She’s always say “Girl, just be your authentic self and that’ s good enough. This time last year, I tried to “gloss over” a major event in my life.

“I’m fine,” I said obviously overly exaggerating “fine.”

“Girl, I’m on my way,” she said.

Now, I realize that she was on loan to me from God for He must have known that I needed a true friend.

Good-bye for now, my friend. There, I said it.

Knowing this good-bye is only temporarily, I quickly change the trajectory my thinking by saying “See ya soon.”

In parting, I dedicate this quote to our friendship: “We shared our happiness and we’ve shared our fears. We shared so many things throughout the years. And when the times were hard we were by each other’s side. You were there to make me laugh when I cried.” Missy Ulbrich.

I love you Vicki.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll take accountability, Alex.

You need an accountability partner,” my friend suggests.

“What’s the incentive?” I ask trying to keep a straight face.

“We can do this TOGETHER. It’s a win-win situation!!!” my friend says passionately. 

 Friendship! Friendship! Good old fashioned friendship!

For the past month, we’ve been on this mission to change our lives, one goal at a time. And we’re trying to accomplish this goal by reading and implementing the exercises in Brian Tracy’s book “No Excuses.”

An accountability partner role is to help you stay on track and set attainable goals.   Luckily, we’re realist. We know this venture isn’t going to be easy for either of us.

We’re going to be emotional and at times confrontational.

Baby steps.

Our pact involves three things: watching trigger words about the past or future, watching our language and watching and calling out any signs of procrastination.

Day one: Check in, follow through.

“Have you completed the exercises?” the text reads.

“Of course,” I respond confidently.

“Learn anything you’d like to share?”

“How much time do you have?” I laugh—cracking myself up (I do that a lot!)

My cell phone rings.

The work has begun. I have a goal.

And an action plan.

How’s that for ready?

Brian Tracy’s book main focus is mastering self-disciple principles and implementing the lessons learned into your personal/professional life, with emphasis on being prepared to do the “real work.”

The first thing I pondered:  “Am I ready to evaluarte my excuses–real or imagined?  

Check.

Two: Can I accept being “checked” by my accountability partner?

Check—I think.

Am I willing to go—even by myself—to the unknown and invest in myself?

Check, check.

According to Tracy, highly successful people has made being self-disciplined a priority. The adage goes:  “Nothing succeeds like success itself.”

He says: “Success is not the money you make but rather the excellent person you become in the process of striving toward success and exerting selfdiscipline every time it is required.”

“Ready LaLinda?” my friend questions.

“I’m ready, willing, and able,” I say.

No Excuses!