Counting Those Blessings

“Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given.” ~ Marelisa Fábrega

There are so many amazing things to be grateful for. I spent nearly twenty years discounting the things that I should have been grateful for because of the people, situations, and circumstances that were clouding my vision of not only my surroundings, but my view of myself. I discounted myself. I had lost so much hope in myself and humanity as a whole that I wasn’t able to see the blessings that were all around me.

I couldn’t see the fact that my life as a whole and the fact that I was even alive was a blessing. I should have died on July 21, 2009, but I was spared.

I couldn’t see the fact that I was living in a beautiful house. The fact that it was 3500 sq. ft. had no bearing on the fact that I was blessed to have shelter, but I couldn’t see it in any manner.

I couldn’t see the fact that I had plenty of food in my kitchen. It was not the always what I wanted to eat (anyone who knows me knows that I despise beans for the most part), but I had a pantry full of food.

There are so many wonderful things we should be grateful for, from the very air we breathe to the fact that we have each other.

Many blessings to you guys!

Writing and Netflix

As many of you know, I’m in graduate school and am working toward a Master of Fine Art in English and Creative Writing. I can’t believe I’ve almost finished my first quarter.

panicSo far, my grade is 99.5%. The fact that it’s not a solid 100% runs me *C*R*A*Z*Y*! I know, I know – I should be thrilled with that, and believe me when I tell you, I am, but I wanted to have a perfect score. When I first realized there had been points deducted from one of my assignments, I called my son via video chat. I knew what his reaction would be, but I wanted to see it. Just as I figured, he gave me the deepest side-eye he possibly could and told me he was going to hang up on me. Lmao! He’s a Computer Science major at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and I can’t be more proud of him. He’s doing so well. He parties hard, but he’s doing incredibly well. He is medical red-shirt this season so he’s not playing football this time around, but next season, he’ll dominate that field.

I’m not a perfectionist by any means, I just know my ability. I love writing and I want to do my best. I also want to do better than I did in my undergraduate studies. I’m determined to not only get this advanced degree but to graduate at the top of my class. My projected completion date for this degree is March 2018. I will begin work on my doctorate degree immediately upon completion of the master’s program.

Anyway, I’m off to work on my final paper. It’s not due until Sunday night at 11:59 P.M., but I’m pushing to finish and submit it by noon tomorrow. Why? Because I want to binge on Netflix all weekend. Yep, that’s how I roll.

Weary, Resting, and All That Stuff

The old saying is, “There is no rest for the weary.” My mom used to say, “You can’t get nowhere and sit down, you got to keep goin’.” Whichever way the idea is conveyed, it’s true. You have to keep it moving.

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Since I graduated college back in December 1988, I have been running. Sometimes it’s been full-throttle, sometimes I’ve been running in place. There hasn’t been a time, though, when I wasn’t moving in some manner. Well, there was that time when I was on bedrest after my aneurysm, but that really doesn’t count because that was kinda forced, but I digress. Life gets hard. It gets so hard at times that you may just want to stick your head in the sand. You might want to find the nearest cave and hide out. You can’t. Let me tell you what I mean.

Resting, but not Stopping

From the day I exchanged vows with William on October 23, 1993, to the day the gavel struck on April 5, 2013, signifying the dissolution of those 19 years of hell, I ran full speed. I don’t mean that in any sense other than the way I’m saying it — the abuse began almost immediately, but it was incredibly subtle. Since I was blessed to survive that thing, I’m able to look back and see all the red flags that were flapping in the wind like crazy. I’m sure there are people out there who still don’t know how ridiculous it is to ask, “Why didn’t you just leave?”, so I’ll go ahead and give you my blanket answer: it wasn’t time.

Anyway, there has never been a time when I wasn’t taking care of someONE or something. I never, however, took the time to take care of myself. I was tired, I was weary, and I was definitely worn.

By the time he came in and told me he wanted the divorce, there was so little of me left. I was a shell of the woman I had been at one time. I had never stopped pushing for my son, though. I didn’t stop pushing for my mother. I didn’t care a lot about myself, but I never stopped pushing for them.

Your Push

Wherever you find yourself in your journey, just remember to take time for yourself. Take time to care for yourself, but never stop pushing. Life can be beautiful. It’s supposed to be beautiful. I encourage you to gather the strength you need, if for no one but yourself, to keep stepping toward your freedom. Living in an abusive situation is never, ever okay. You deserve better.

 

 

Dear Woman:

Dear Woman:

img_e18b770e4394-1I see you jump when you hear that key in the door. You can’t possibly know who’s going to walk through that door. It’s usually one of three people: the mad one, the happy one, or the indifferent one. Whichever one it is, you’ve been in the game long enough to know that whichever one you first encounter can become of the others so quickly, it makes your head spin.

I know you’re afraid to voice your opinion because you know in the end, you’ll feel stupid for saying anything in the first place. Even if you don’t actually feel that way at the start of the conversation, there’s always the chance that you’ll be told you are before that thing ends.

I know you’re afraid to confront the blatant infidelity because you’ve been down that road before and you know that somehow, you’ll be blamed for the indiscretion. Yeah, somehow, some way, it will be your fault that he cheated.

I know you don’t dare bring up money because somehow if it wasn’t for you, there’d be more. Even if you stay within budget and even manage to save a little extra, you will somehow mess up when it comes to money. That’s what he’ll tell you. JPEG image-74F53256E140-1My dear, dear woman, know that you are not alone. I lived the life you’re struggling through right now for 19 years. The abuse I lived through was so devastating, I suffered a brain hemorrhage. There is a 50% survival rate when it comes to aneurysms. People who do survive one of these medical horrors have a 50% chance of dying within 30 days of having one. The chances of surviving without some type of brain damage are one in four.

Mine happened on July 21, 2009. I believe, with all my heart, that God spared my life so that I can tell you my story. I have no residual damage and I believe that’s the case so that I can remember every single thing that happened to me over those years so that when you tell me that I don’t get it, I can tell you that I do and mean it. I believe that I remember all the pain of being told that the biggest mistake he ever made was marrying me because, you, my friend, think you’re the only one whose heart has been destroyed by words. Mine was, too.

I vowed to be transparent because you need to know that you deserve more. You need to know that your life is worth so much more. You need to know that you are a beautiful being who was born to be loved, not to be battered. You deserve to wake up, morning after morning, knowing that you’re loved, that you’re needed, and that you’re cherished. You deserve to know, I mean, from the bottom of your heart, that you mean the world to someone. You need to know that when he says I love you, he means it, unconditionally. You deserve that.

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I hope that if only one thing I share with you touches your spirit in a way that you act on your own behalf to move forward a safer, healthier, happier life, you will run with it. Trust me, I’ve been there. You don’t have to stay there.

Your sister in survival,

Trease

 

 

Wings

Today, we started a brand new month, full of brand new possibilities. 2016 is more than halfway over. I stopped making resolutions years ago, but I did set some goals at the beginning of the year that once accomplished, will find me in an entirely different spectrum.

Most people know that I’ve been working on a book for some time now. To be honest, I haven’t worked as hard as I should or could have been, but as of today, that changed. It will be finished and will be ready to go into submission by December 31st.

The Mission

All the things that I want to do in my effort to empower women are intertwined. I want to reach women who may feel they are trapped alone inside an abusive relationship. I want to help women use their voice through writing. I want to help women realize their dream of entrepreneurship and independence. I want to help women realize that nothing is outside of their grasp as long as they are willing to work as if their very livelihood depends on it. Indeed, it does.

In all honesty, my wings are not fully developed. I have been flying on my own for quite some time now, but not without running into turbulence, storms that cut into my flight time, and sometimes even running headlong into the side of mountains. All of those things have served as lessons. We all want uneventful flights, but the best ones are the ones that we survive after a little chaos. I long for the day when my wings are fully spread and I’m soaring above all the things that I was told would keep me down.

Keep flying with me, they’ll be spread as wide as an eagle’s soon.

Reversal of Fortune

My best friend and I have been wrapped around each other since the fall 1987 fall semester at Grambling State University.

We’ve seen each other through marriage, childbirth, divorce, amazing victories, and excruciating heartbreak. One of the most amazing things she did for me was talking to me for nearly two hours straight on that last trip home after I packed the previous 19 years of my life into box upon box following my divorce.

Oh, we had spent far more hours giggling and acting like high school girls before that night, but during those two hours, she didn’t do much more than listen to me cry. She didn’t tell me not to cry. She didn’t bash my ex-husband. She just listened. All I needed that night was a shoulder, and just as had always been the case, hers was there.

The Now

As with many close friends, my BFF and I tend to text a lot. Last night, we were going back and forth, texting away, when things turned serious. I won’t go into full detail, but we both stated how dissatisfied we are with the current state of our lives. Don’t get me wrong, neither of us is ungrateful for anything we blessed to have, but we know where we want to be in life.

We both suffered HUGE setbacks after our divorces. We both endured severe financial. We were both scarred mentally and emotionally.

Ultimately, we both decided that we wouldn’t let our current situations determine our future lots in life. We’re been deflated to the point that there was literally no wind left in our sail.

Guess who got back up and continues to climb the wall to success? Yep, Bree and Tre.

“He’s Gon’ Treat You Right”

This morning, before daybreak, I was awake. That’s nothing unusual. For the last 20 or more years, I’ve awakened between 4:00 and 4:30 AM almost every morning. In the beginning, I would just lie there and let all my worries, well…worry me, but eventually, I started being much more productive and used that quiet time to write. That works out great unless I have Mia. When she’s here, I move around like a ghost so I don’t wake her up.

No Troubles, No Worries

Anyway, this morning, I woke up super early, but instead of writing, I was filled with worry. My faith tells me not to worry because it is a sin against God. As Christians, we are taught to hand all our troubles over to him, but as a woman made of flesh and blood, sometimes, I’m overcome with my burdens. As I normally do when I start to worry, I began to pray. When I was finished, I spoke into the air, “You cannot trust him and worry at the same time”. Those words escaped my mouth before I even realized they were in my head. I’ve always known that you can’t pray then get up and commence worrying about the things you just prayed about. That is the greatest contradiction imaginable. One of them has to go. I choose to pray and trust Him. I choose to believe that, just as his word says, he will never leave or forsake me. I’ve cast my cares on Him.

The Encounter

I had to take my car in for an oil change this morning and I took it to the same place my parents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends, take theirs. I knew there would be a little wait time so I sat out front on the little oily bench. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have wanted to, but it wasn’t too hot out and it was so peaceful. I’ve known most of the mechanics who work there my whole life and while I was chatting away with one of them, an older gentleman came out and sat next to me. He had told the mechanic that he was going home because he didn’t feel well, but that he needed to rest for a minute. I had never spoken to that man before, but me being me, I looked at him and said, “So you’re not feeling good, huh? Is it the heat?” He told me that he had thought maybe it was his medicine. The conversation took off from there.

Somehow, I told him that I had been divorced for three years and after he told me his story of divorce, he looked at me and said, “You’re a good woman. You won’t be by yourself long. The next man is gon’ treat you like a queen. He’s gon’ treat you right, just watch and see.” I told him that I wasn’t really interested in anything like that right now because I have so much to do for myself, my son, and my granddaughter. He then said, “It don’t matter if you’re ready or not, when the right man sees you, he’s coming for you. Ain’t no good man gon’ be stupid enough to let you get away.” That made me chuckle. We’ll see.