“When I was a child I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:11
No matter what age we are, I believe there is an inner boy or girl living on the inside of us. Reminding us to not take things, including ourselves so seriously at times. Also reminding us to laugh, play and even cry when those emotions are what we feel at any given moment. Children are experts at simply being who they are, they typically aren’t pretentious, arrogant or prideful. They play hard, laugh hard and when they are sad, they usually cry unapologetically.
As a dad of four children (including one inherited by marriage) , I have been blessed to experience the joys and pains of raising kids. My children have lived life like any other happy kid does, fun-loving, loud, quick tempered at times, typically selfish, yet with hearts of gold.
So what happens when that inner child controls the outer adult, the way one thinks, resolves conflict and works out complicated life issues? The answer – things usually do not end well and additional problems may be incurred that one may find difficult to comprehend. No matter hard he/she searches, the answers seem to allude the inner child seeker, like having a preference for cotton candy versus broccoli.
As I reflect on my life and consider my own inner child and the moments I’ve allowed him to dominate how I resolved conflict or interacted with complicated adult affairs, I recall a man who made decisions based on fear and anger primarily. Rarely did I take adequate time to really consider another perspective. It was all about my feelings and no one could change how I felt. It was the adult version of stomping and kicking when I failed to get my way. Who does that? The boy or girl (inside) who still has yet to become a mature adult, that’s who.
So how does one begin to authentically grow up and not only take responsibility for their actions, but own their yesterday’s, tomorrow’s and the rest of their lives? For me it was a combination of a few things, but one thing in particular. And it was not simply going to a good counselor, praying to God for direction or reading good books, although I believe each one of those are essential for growth and authentic change.
My transformation began to take place when the stubborn, self-righteous and occasionally insensitive man I was (and still working on) began to die. No one in particular told me he needed to die, however my current circumstances at the time spoke volumes to need of his demise. It’s kind of like a moment when you look back on life and finally see, with your heart and your mind, the causalities of your actions lying all about you.
It’s not a moment where I said, “I need to start doing better.” It’s a moment where I realized that I needed to start over. Like reset my life on how I thought, responded and interacted with myself and those around me. My life as it was, was being dominated by the inner child who was still seeking approval, fought hard to be understood and looked forward to being coddled by others. Looks and sounds pretty much like a kid to me.
So one day I woke up not too many years ago, and began my journey of transformation. Again, not a mission to just do better with the tools I had, but to become a new person and utilize tools that I would most likely be unfamiliar with (like self-soothing) yet finally open to. As I set out on this journey of change, with pure intent, God placed some tremendous people along my path who not only introduced some of these new tools and skills, but displayed them in such a beautifully humanistic way that it became life changing to understand, and incredibly humbling to witness in action.
In no way am I perfect today, nor do I always get things right. That inner child will always live inside of me, however he will no longer control how I engage as a grown man, but he will help me to keep things simple, laugh out loud and not take myself so seriously at times. For him I am grateful.
“It’s not whats under the tree that matters, it’s who’s gathered around it.” – Unknown
Merry Christmas Everyone!!
I pray that you all will take this time to enjoy family and friends. Life is precious and we all need to not only remember the reason for the season, but take the time to reflect on what is truly important. The people we call family (blood related or not) are who give us meaning and connect us to the most important things in life.
So enjoy the day and celebrate the life that God has given us. See you next week.
“Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.” – Unknown
Lord knows I have had my share of relationships that did not end well. Whether the demise was instigated by my actions or the actions of my partner, it is something I will never wish on anyone, including my worse enemy. I say this because when our hearts become intertwined with another person, it is always painful to let go, even when it is the most healthy decision to make.
Letting go of love is like letting go a piece of our very person because usually we have invested so much of ourselves into the relationship, and ultimately a hardness had to develop in order for us to finally make the decision. When I say hardness, I do not necessarily mean one has to become cold-hearted to end a relationship, however there is an aspect of closing up that needs to occur to move on with life.
Essentially like closing a door and making the decision to not return to it. No matter how we explain it, there has to be some exposure to hardness in order to pull this off effectively, otherwise that door becomes a revolving one, which typically results in more pain and more heartache.
Now I am not here to advocate divorce or saying it is simply okay to prematurely walking away from a long-term relationship, although it does happen, and sometimes for the right reasons. What I am saying is when one decides to go down this path, it is imperative to search their soul, take lots of time, consult with wise counseling, pray daily, spend quiet time with themselves and God, and then repeat those steps all over again until it is settled in their own heart to leave or remain in it.
So many times we are in such a hurry to walk away, (me included in times past) because we just want to be done. Done with looking at our partner’s faces, their scent, quirks, pretty much everything about them annoys us. But if we allow this major decision to become driven by emotions, primarily fear or anger, we will ultimately regret not allowing ourselves the opportunity to go through the process of real closure. Of course this does not apply to abusive relationships. When safety is at stake, I will always advise one to get out and deal with the aftermath from a safe place, emotionally and physically.
It is inevitable that letting go of love will change you. Just like the love itself from the beginning changed you, (hopefully for the better) but at this stage as we begin to close our hearts and prepare for a journey we cannot fully comprehend what will be on the other side, besides our new-found freedom, one cannot help but go through a personal metamorphosis. And depending on what type of individual work you did/do during this process, including who influences you the most, will ultimately define if you become bitter, better, happy, disillusioned, an unbeliever of love, hate the opposite sex, the list goes on.
We all want to feel good as we go through a break-up, but it is important that we take heed with the steps taken to get there. An ex feeling bad should not be the barometer of the other feeling good. Sure it may bring a sense of temporary satisfaction, but let it be just that, temporary. Otherwise you will find yourself consumed with negatives thoughts and plots on how to keep them down, and inherently dismiss the health of yourself. That is simply too much energy to spend on someone you just broke up with, no matter how good it makes you feel.
Ultimately wholeness should be the personal goal. As our hearts and emotions have been literally split in two, we must regain our sense of self, even relearn who we are or possibly reinvent who we are, and desire to become. Again, another process, however a process that can provide a pathway to new and better beginnings, new hopes and dreams, a more informed perspective on life, and a holistic approach towards relationships and love.
Letting go of love does not have to relegate our lives to a future full of misery, shame and disappointment. It could possibly become the birthing of your ultimate purpose and destiny. You have the power to influence that as I did. After two divorces and a host of other broken relationships, I continue my journey to wholeness and new discovery. I am certainly not the man I was in the past. In many ways I am better, and in others not so much, however I continue to grow, remain open and trust in the power of love and it’s influences on my life.
“Don’t look for love. Quietly give it away and let it find you back.” – Unknown
Have you ever been so tired that you can’t see straight? Well that is me tonight, so I am going to make this short and sweet. It has been a short, but long weekend. Know what I mean? The theme has been “moving”. Never a fun thing, actually quite stressful whether it is for you or someone else, but nonetheless a necessary evil I suppose.
As much as I want to complain about helping others move I cannot because at the end of the day, it was done for people whom I love, and in this case, that is what love does.
Even as I am writing this post my eyes want to close, but I am committed to sharing something relevant, current and real every week, so that is what I am doing.
What have you done in the name of love lately? Like gave of yourself sacrificially for someone else, and expected no accolades in return? In many cases it is a rare event. After all, we only have so much energy, but when it is done with pure intentions, it can change a life for the better.
So the next time someone ask you to do something that causes you to stretch yourself or it disrupts your preplanned events, before you just say no or make an excuse about why you cannot do it, take a second look at what is motivating you to say no. Perhaps this is one of those moments for you to pay it forward, just because.
This was one of those moments for me, and even though I am completely exhausted and still have to rise up early for my day job, I have no regrets and honestly did it with peace in my heart (well after a little internal battle with myself first).
That said, I have no more words, but do it for love, whatever “it” is. My bed is awaiting me and I am going to sleep now. Pleasant dreams.
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist” – Oscar Wilde
Birthdays are always special. To acknowledge and celebrate the birth of someone is pretty significant. It is even more special if you are able to witness a baby take their first breath. I have been blessed to be a part of this miracle with all my children.
It is equally significant when someone leaves this earth. Experiencing the death of a loved one is never easy and it will always be an event that brings people together while simultaneously identifying the fragility of humanity.
Although the miracle of birth and the gravity of death will remain significant and monumental aspects of the overall human experience, what occurs in the middle of those two events will always matter more, because the life we actually live represents something even more special, meaningful and remarkable.
I believe that this is primarily true because when you think about someone’s legacy; the things they will be remembered by, it will always be what they did while living, no matter how significant their birth or death was.
So what is in the middle for you? What are you becoming, have become and what are you doing right now with your life? What kind of legacy will you leave? Will others want to follow you or learn that they should not, or discover what choices not to make? I have come to learn that it is never too late to grow, impact others in a positive way or become the best you. It really is a matter of personal choice once we decide to remove ourselves from the excuses that hinder us.
Life can render us many unexpected circumstances, ones that can test us at our core, or equally strengthen us to endure more. It all depends on how we choose to look at it and take action. The perspective can either be our demise or victory waiting in the wings.
When I consider my middle, I cannot help but acknowledge my three marriages. I use to say, “this was not supposed to be my story”, but later I learned to embrace it and look on the brighter side of things. One, I never gave up on love, two, I never gave up on myself and three, I never allowed myself to become bitter. And thankfully I have no animosity towards anyone from my past relationships. I have genuinely moved on and accept the failure that occurred, without pointing blame towards them or myself any longer.
The decision to not give up on love, myself or become bitter is not a given, accomplishing one is a feat, even for the strong at heart. I never would have imagined my life would have went this direction, but then again no one does right? It was up to me to decide what to do with the rest of my life, regarding relationships, my dignity and how I share my failure with my children and family.
For me that matters, not that I need to explain myself to anyone to feel justified or affirmed (well once upon I did), but the lessons I have learned are invaluable, and if I can share something that I have learned during the hard work to help someone else overcome their personal trials it will be all worth the struggle.
Life will always be measured by what we did. No matter where we were born or how we died, what will be remembered is what we did in the middle (the dash in between the start and finish dates). That said, live your life with purpose no matter the circumstances and hardships you have faced. Someone is watching what you do next, so never quit where you are. Keep living with expectancy until the end. Fight the good fight and never give up hope.
What truly matters is what you do. Keep living, keep learning and keep giving your best. Even when you fail to understand the “whys”, do the work to discover who you are and what you have to offer. It’s in the middle where life is to be led and experienced. Your best is still yet to come. Just keep living, like the older generation use to tell us.
“We don’t remember days, we remember moments” – Cesare Pavese
So here I am sitting on my bed in New Orleans, Louisiana better known as Nawlings to the locals, writing my weekly post. It has been a long day or at least an early one of travel. We (Niala and I) were out the door at 4:50am this morning heading to the airport for a 6:30am flight out of Oakland, CA., with Xavier University in our focus. We have about one week to make a decision about college and I think this is the one, but of course Niala must be in agreement. So once we arrived around 2:30pm CDT, we checked in and immediately hit the streets to eat and check out the scene. This is my second trip here, but this one will be a different kind of special I’m almost certain.
As our children get older the moments we have together become less frequent and more special, so I intend to make the most of this day and a half with my young adult. Our first meal, we enjoyed some fresh oysters, gumbo, red beans and rice, just for starters. We’ll finish it off with Beignets at the famous Cafe Dumond later this evening, but right after our meal we took a stroll down Bourbon Street and saw, well if you know Bourbon Street you know what we saw. It was a bit of everything in all shades and colors. A fun time for sure. 🙂
Tomorrow we our scheduled to tour the college campus at 10:00am and see what it has to offer and of course to see how it fits with Nia’s personality and collegiate goals to become a pediatrician. I am very excited for her and being a part of this stage of her life. These are the types of moments that make any parent reflect on life and think of the many stages that our children go through. I’m proud and overjoyed that Nia has worked to afford herself the acceptance of several colleges. It is truly why we push our children so diligently to remain focused, keep the educational process in the forefront of their minds and to tirelessly work hard towards attaining their goals.
This is an amazing stage to be a part of. I cannot fathom not being a part of her life or any of the stages of my children’s lives for that matter. I see it as an honor, privilege and duty as a father. Those that miss out truly miss a moment in history that can never be recaptured, recreated or experienced again. Once it ‘s gone, it is gone forever. Therefore enjoy every stage and every moment as a blessing. The lives of our children unfolding is like watching a plant grow and eventually bloom. If we are not there to see it for ourselves, we miss something special, we miss something life altering, we miss the flower blooming at the greatest of moments.
As I sit here on the bed writing, I’m watching Nia work on homework for school. This is what she does and this is why she is where she is. If I sound like a proud father, you are correct. I am that guy and will say it loud!
Please do not miss your moments, for each one will carve out a type of tapestry in your history and theirs and when they complete the mission, you will be remembered for simply being there during the stage.
“Success isn’t just what you accomplish in your life, it’s about what you inspire others to do.” – Unknown
Having children will always be one of my most exciting, fulfilling and monumental moments that I will ever experience. It still feels like yesterday that I was having my firstborn (Niala). Well, okay her mother was having her and I was on the sidelines cheering her on, or at least trying to be a good coach. I can recall the very moment she poked her head into the world. I saw all the hair on her head first and there she was alive, healthy, kicking and screaming. It seems the screaming part lasted longer than I imagined, but I digress.
For some reason after she was born I had to make a quick dash to our vehicle to get something, not sure what it was anymore, but upon my return her mom (my wife at the time) was rushed into emergency surgery. Our newborn had caused her to tear during the birthing process and she was bleeding internally. It was a scary time for us both and it took many years for her to fully recover from the blood loss, which caused congestive heart failure. So point being, Niala almost killed her mother during birth, literally. I promise there is a point to this story 🙂
When Niala was just four months inside her mother still, I had a dream about what gender she was. I was convinced that she was a girl because I believed that God had given me her name during a dream. It was as clear as day, but I was concerned her mother would not like the name, so I kept it to myself for a while. Then I begin to look at names and their meanings in a book. When I found her name I realized it indeed was a real name and actually had a profound meaning. It was kind of two-fold, because her full name means “destined for success”, and her short name (Nia), means “strong warrior”. It was confirmed after that, and she has certainly lived up to both names and then some. From day one she came out fighting, (hence the mom story at birth) and has never let up. And interestingly enough her mom always believed that Niala was a boy, even up into birth.
The first-born is always special and because I actually wanted a girl first, it made the entire experience of being a parent that more special. The first child inherently gets the best of your time as you are learning to adapt to the new lifestyle changes, which include learning when she wanted to eat, what cry means what, and the new appreciation for what a fifteen minute nap can do. I don’t think I have ever slept the same since I had children. You gotta love them. Anyway, back to my story…
As I have watched Nia grow and mature as our eldest and the older sibling of the group, something begin to take shape early on. I wondered what type of legacy she would leave on the earth and how I would impact that. Science says that children learn the most between birth and six years old. I was blessed that her mom was able to stay home for a significant part of her early years and instill values and skills that are important for healthy development and life preparation.
As Nia grew it became evident that she was very intelligent, friendly and a kind-hearted person. At her core she has not changed, at now eighteen years old. She tends to be the glue between her now childhood friends. It has been amazing to watch it all unfold.
As a parent there are so many things that I wish could have been different for her, but I realize there is a plan for her life and I am happy and content on who she is now as a young adult. We have both given her a foundation to pivot the rest of her life off of and we both expect to see great things in her future. As she approaches the last few months of high school with an average 3.90 GPA and several collegiate options, I am obviously a proud father, but it is more than the grades that I am proud of. It is her tenacious spirit to keep focused in the midst of her parents’ separation and ultimate divorce. It is the going between two homes and maintaining a positive attitude during the process. I know what it feels like, because I was there myself as a child, but I am proud that her mom and I have committed our lives to being the best divorced co-parents that ever existed. It certainly has made a tremendous difference in all of their lives.
One day more than eighteen years ago, my first child was born. Who knew what she would become? Who knew what she would face in life? Who knows the ultimate plan for her life? I can only trust God that it all has occurred for a reason greater than I can understand, and as time progresses He will use every story and experience for her good. But today in this season of my fatherhood, I realize that my roles must change as she embarks on now what will become the rest of her life, the beginning of her career and the legacy that she will ultimately pass down to her own children one day.
What legacy do you have in the making? Are you nurturing and cultivating it like a delicate flower? Are you taking care of it like it needs you, even when it begins to talk back? One thing I told Nia when she first transitioned into womanhood, was that as her father I will be the only man in her life that would be willing to give her the world, and expect nothing in return. That’s just a fact of life, so in other words the message was for her to know that I will always have her best interest in mind when I make decisions regarding her, even when she did not fully understand or necessarily agree with them.
It is often said that we typically give our flowers to our loved ones once they have passed away. Well as my eldest child begins to take larger steps into her future, I want her and the world to know how proud I am of her accomplishments, hard work and dedication towards her education, her commitment to excellence and most importantly for being a sweet human being that I am proud to call my daughter. Keep living up to your namesake. I love you always.