Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fathers...We Need You!

If I had a penny for every time someone discussed how "strong" I was, I would be a billionnaire, as would a great majority of the women with whom I have had the privilege of meeting in this life.  Sisters, wives, mothers, friends, we are the ribcage that protects the heart of our community.  The bones therein are fortified and some of the most resilient in the body...but let one break.  Even something as simple as breathing can become increasingly difficult when the bones that we as women are encounter fracture or cracking.
Try as we might, we can only be who we are.  Anatomically, we do not have the equipment to enact the duties of the backbone.  It takes some testicular fortitude to create the very movement--walking, running, dancing, jumping--that carries a family from point A to point be the visionary of destination.  If one of these bones breaks, the result is just as detrimental as a break within the ribcage, only instead of breathing being affected, the very purpose and future of a community can become paralyzed.
Either way, we need each other. 
I rarely hear men speak of not needing or wanting women.  The motivations behind their need may not always be upstanding, but let someone say something bad about a mama.  Even the most mature man would have fisticuffs be his knee jerk reaction.  However, the more I ruminate about the fact that I'm a single mother now, the more I find myself wanting to play both the ribcage and backbone to my son, as if there is no need for a father in his life.  Nothing could be further from the truth.
I can do many things for my child, but there are BACKBONE skills that I don't have the ability to teach him.  No matter how much I flip grown men in my martial arts class, how much bacon I bring home and cook, how many prayers I render and skills I impart for my children (present and future) to develop emotional intelligence, like Jill Scott said, some things don't change. 
I may not be with the "man" I created this beautiful son with, but the fact is, I need men on many levels.  I need my brother, whose presence is felt in my son's life even from a long distance away.  I need my martial arts instructor and his assistants who respect me implicitly, and thus have singlehandedly reversed the negative influence of one man who taught my son to disrespect me through his harsh treatment of me.  I need my buddies who my son sees me interact with on a strictly platonic level to teach him humor and healthy man/woman relationships. 
Bottom line to fathers and father figures out there.  I cannot speak for everyone, but as for my son and I, WE NEED YOU.  If we don't have you, we can function because of our Heavenly Father, who covers the most vulnerable of society (the fatherless), but it is much easier to move towards purpose with you in our lives. 
So although I appreciate some of the messages I received telling me "Happy Father's Day" as a single mother, I cannot accept them in good conscience.  I am a woman...a rib bone that does not have the capability to create the kind of movement that a FATHER affords to us.  As stated, anatomically it is not my role.  If I try to fill that role, the major organs that protect the respiration of my family will become asthmatic.
My respect and love goes out to all the fathers--whether in figure or fact--who have helped my community move from difficulty to destiny.  THANK YOU for accepting your role so I can work mine effectively.  We are both strong, and like it or not, we need each other.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Announcement: I Ain't Halle Berry

As seen on this website.

Disclaimer:  This note is for mature audiences only.  I have to be 100% real about an issue I'm dealing with, and I'd love for you to pray with me (if you pray) and hold me accountable if you're so moved throughout this leg of my journey.
I guess you all are thinking, "Wow...she's really got a knack for stating the obvious."
  • Halle = Hollywood.  Harriet = Ain't in front of anybody's camera.
  • Halle = Stunningly beautiful.  Harriet = Possessor of that can't-quite-put-my-finger-on-it-but-her-looks-grow-on-me type of beauty.  LOL 
  • Halle = Short and thin.  Harriet = Tall with thick athletic build.
  • Halle = "I'm never getting married again."  Harriet = "I'm in no rush, but I know part of God's plan for me is to be a wife."
And herein lies my dilemma.  Halle said she'll never marry again, but at least she's getting some on a regular basis, yanno? I had the ooo wee on demand when I was married, but prior to that, I was celibate for five years, waiting on Prince Charming (but arguably married a frog).

And it just hit me hard this week, y'all:   I'm hormonal.  Lawd, sweet Jesus help Your child.  You can take a guess about what I mean about that.  Yeah...the first thought that came to your mind, that's what I am.  Hot and bothered.  Yet I made a decision that I would once again practice abstinence until I decide to get married again. being like Halle Berry is kinda out of the question.  I'm glad I don't allow my hormones to govern my decisions, otherwise I would have hit up Vegas and got married over the weekend.  But I'm cool with prayer, cold showers and averted eyes.  I can handle it.
Yeah, right.  I'm lying...God is going to have to keep me just like He kept me before my first marriage. Because I can tell this is a vulnerability that has the potential to derail my deliverance with one foul swoop...and I ain't trying to have that.
My mom was telling me over breakfast how she thought I was the consummate "package."  Funny, smart, compassionate, talented, good cook, not to mention beautiful.  Gool ol' Mama...and trust me, she's not the biased type that would just say something like that without meaning it.
I can add to the equation that I really, really, REALLY love the Lord.  And I really, really, REALLY need Him to hide and keep me until His timing is right.  When will that be?  Only He knows.  But I'm content and confident that He has the Master Plan that will be perfect once He unveils the transformed Harriet for both the world and heaven to see.

I really don’t know what that plan looks like at the moment. Does it mean I don’t date? I don’t know. Does it mean every time a man with something going for him asks me out (and it’s happened a few times in the past few weeks), I tell him respectfully that although I appreciate the offer, I’m not bringing to the table the wholeness needed to pursue anything of substance with him? That line seems to be my go to explanation…and it’s the truth!

Do I date and “play the field?” I don’t even know what that means! I’m a product of a bunch of monogamous relationships! Maybe I’ll go out just to enjoy some adult, masculine company. Blockbuster nights in the dark on a couch are out of the question, but dinner, a concert, a sporting event or something like that shouldn’t do any harm, should it? *shrug*
I'm sure God will tell me when I'm ready.  In the meantime, I appreciate the fact that my hormones aren't the governing factor in my decision making process.  It won't kill me if my appetite for aphrodesiac isn't fulfilled.
What WILL hurt is making another lapse in judgement that will make it difficult for me to ever get married again (disease, getting pregnant, getting my heart broken and being bitter...the list goes on and on).

I ain't Halle Berry.  But I have sense enough to know that what I'll be able to bring to the table in the future is a package that any man with sense would desire.
Here's to the second time around!

Teach Me...

A wise writer once penned, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside."

Your girl was childish.  I'm sure there's no one out there who could say they've never been that way, but when I think about how unteachable and stubborn I was, it makes me cringe. I've said recently that I've entered the dragon of my own foolishness, and it's a fight to the death for me to let go of the negative aspects of who I was and fulfill my potential as a woman.

So when I was in the barber shop while my high school friend Glenn was cutting my son's hair, I didn't think it strange that a flyer on their bulletin board jumped out at me.  "Fudo Shin Jujitsu and Combat Arts classes."  Against my fear of embarassment because of the extra weight I was carrying around, I signed up.

First class:  flashback to friggin basic training.  Low crawls, push ups, running...Lord, have mercy.  Between labored breaths and wiping sweat out of my eyes, I learned just how out of shape my physical and emotional body was.  It was important for me to stick with it so they could get back in I could mature and  teach myself to never again allow limits to infiltrate my mind the way they did.

My friend Cynthia told me, "Harriet, most of us are teaching ourselves; learning from others' mistakes and life's lessons which are very hard and sometimes unforgiving.  When we learn, we are responsible for teaching.  We teach whether we do it intentionally or not."  As I learned back falls and proper technique for choke holds, I realized I was teaching myself exactly how to learn again, and choking the life out of the little girl who acted like everything had to go her way, or there would be hell to pay.

I hit another class and learned about front rolls with and without hands.  It was...dizzying.  I thought I was gonna throw up.  I landed on my head and neck a few times and thought I was gonna die!  LOL  But Sabrina, one of the assistant instructors told me that it was important to LOOK UP when the dizziness threatened me.  Life has thrown me some dizzying blows, but true to form, what Sabrina taught me was right!  Looking up to God definitely eases the nauseous feeling over time.

Last week, I learned front kicks and how to break bones with simple movements.  Gerrod kicked THROUGH the pad I was holding, and it landed so hard that the whole Denzel-in-Glory-one-tear-while-getting-whipped came to my eye.  But I didn't let it fall.  ROFL  At that point, something my friend Sharon told me came to mind.  She said, "Processing pain correctly determines where you go from here. If approached right, it inspires you to return to become more of who you are."

The childish me doesn't like to go beyond the corruption of my comfort zone.  I'd rather play it safe and stay the same.  But Lance taught me through torture (rubber band runs, medicine ball sit ups, kettle ball throws and tire flips) that "Victory comes only to those who are willing to pay the price for it."   And boy, what a price I've been paying.  I'm learning how to keep my mouth shut (unless I have a question) and catch the nuggets of wisdom I'm learning from those who have paid the price and successfully navigated the road I'm now traveling.

When learning how to escape and disengage, Jusef taught me that it's not necessary to exert strength when a simple pivoted movement will do.  He demonstrated that by literally bringing me to my knees while teaching me the wrist lock.  Although I suspect he enjoyed inflicting that kind of pain (j/k, Jusef), it was valuable to know that surviving and thriving the mean twists and turns of my current circumstances requires more GRACE than strength.

At 33 years old, your girl is finally growing up.  I'm realizing that control over circumstances is overrated.  Sabrina said, "It's natural to tense up, but when gravity comes for you, you gotta think light so when you meet the ground, you can get back up easy."

The woman I was is slowly dying, and the lady I was created to be is blossoming right before my eyes.  I'm getting up much easier because I realize it's necessary...I can't afford to remain a child when I'm faced with raising a manchild and creating opportunities for him to learn how to construct his own promised land.

So when you hear me talking about my mixed martial arts class, please don't trip. I typically don't go on and on about something unless it has stoked a passion within me to continue learning and killing my limits.  To all the folks who are teaching me in class, whether I mentioned you or not, please accept my heartfelt gratitude.

God is using this class to help me...BE.

Love: The Street Fighter

They say there is a thin line between love and hate.  It's an understandable sentiment, but terribly inaccurate in my opinion.  I say love personifies a street fighter.

True love is so much more than just a feeling.  It's more than just a sentiment written in the annals of our memory banks for us to catalog and reference when the time calls for it.

No, LOVE is the greatest weapon for good in the universe.  LOVE is a street fighter who is ready at all times to go toe to toe with any opponent foolish enough to believe they will put an end to its undefeated record.  LOVE does not give up, shut up, or put up with anything in its way that would cause it to fail.  LOVE does not know the agony of defeat, only the thrill of victory.
For example, as a novice in jujitsu, I had trouble with the training at first.  Inherently, I'm the type of person that always wants to help...never to harm. There was a function in me that hated to see someone tap because of pain I was inflicting.  The crazy thing was that it didn't matter if it was being done to me.  I had a mental block when it came time for me to do it to others. 
I was taught the necessity of adopting a warrior ethos, whether in training or on the street.  We train hard because negative folks won't show mercy on the streets.  We learn pressure points and choke holds, not because we want to abuse our authority, but in case the situation arises, we will have the ability to combat the danger by doing as little damage as possible.
And if the challenge persists, we know how to kill it if need be.

LOVE is that kind of street fighter...who knows how to kill, but uses it as a last resort. 

I'm realizing that the essence of love is change.  It never leaves me the same.  It never causes me to regress to the vortex of negativity.  It always stretches me and leaves me better than I was before.  No matter what pain I encounter while training with it, I realize it is all for the greater good.

I'm learning that love in its most pure, concentrated form has nothing to do with emotion.  This street fighter is all about action, not feeling.  When I reduce it to a mere feeling, it has no choice but to be fleeting.  When I make love an emotion, it's easy to hate it when I encounter pain, because the emotion I'm dealing with is actually presenting itself as a counterfeit deception to the reality of true love.
True love has very little to do with fairy tales and warm fuzzies.  It has everything to do with unadulterated truth that refuses to be diluted by disrespect and delusion.
And LOVE is what I desire to motivate every action I take and every word I speak...when the thin line between love and hate is shattered, I want to be that street fighter who overcomes hatred, fear and negativity with the greatest weapon for good in the world.

Daddy's Little Girl

My pops used to call me his neat, sweet treat.  Funny.  Growing up I had always been just the opposite.  A terror is more like it. Although I eventually began to embody his nickname, there were times when my circumstances were a bloody mess.  But up until the day he died, Pops always encouraged me to do two things:  stick to the facts and let my life be a display of God's goodness.

Sounds like something my heavenly Father also told me during the course of this ordeal with my pending divorce, becoming a single mother and being unemployed with no benefits.  It's like He stepped into the void that my father's passing left and helped my mom and brother get my back to get me back on my feet.And since I made the choice to embrace my inherent value, since I made the choice not to go back into abuse, He has literally proven that He will give good success to everything I put my hands to.    

At first it was with things that are typically unnoticeable to those without an eye for His goodness:  a mixed martial arts class that simultaneously beat me down while building me back up; a decent tax return; being able to pay some bills...the stuff we all take for granted.    

I don't know if it was because I was grateful, or if it was because God is just that good (more than likely it's the latter), but slowly and surely, He began to show me that what may be difficult--even impossible--for humanity is nothing to Him.  He has more strength in a fingernail than anything on this earth.    

     -  Cost free medical care for me
     -  A long overdue surgery for my son at no cost to me
     -  An interview, then a second interview, then getting hired for a job

It's like He literally opened the windows of heaven and poured out blessings for my NOW because I presented my past and all its pain and agony to Him to take care of.  And just a few moments ago, He presented to me the news that my future is blessed as well!I was told I was eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  What the heck does that mean?  For me, it means 100% payment of tuition and fees, a housing allowance plus $1000 a year for books.  I can get my Master's degree at NO COST to me!

But there's more:  should I choose not to go back to school, I can actually pass this on as an inheritance to my son.  In 13 years when he graduates from high school, HE could be the one going to school with all those benefits.  He'll never have to worry about paying back school loans or struggling to find a place to stay while in school.

My Pops was a good man, and He served the same mighty God I now embrace as my own.  I wonder if he's up there in Jesus' ear, asking Him to finally pour out blessing after blessing because his little girl is finally focused in the right direction.  I don't know. What I do know is I'm grateful.

This Daddy's Little Girl finally knows what it means to trust in God 100%.

Although His blessing for you may be totally different, the fact of the matter is if He can pour it out on the likes of me--at times stubborn, rebellious, ungrateful and selfish--then He can do the same and even more for anyone else!  Your biological pops may not have put you up on a pedestal like mine did.  But our heavenly Father does that and more for anyone willing to embrace Him as their own.

I would love to hear about how God has blessed you in your current journey!