The Thing About Peripheral Vision…

Just like so many other things, peripheral vision is something I consider a huge blessing. It allows you to view things on either side while looking straight ahead. It’s a good thing. It helps you avoid things of all sorts, from auto accidents to people blindsiding you (physically or otherwise).

I didn’t realize just how important peripheral vision is until I lost mine for some time due to the brain hemorrhage. I didn’t necessarily lose it, I just couldn’t use it. Just the thought of using my eyes to view my surroundings without turning my head made me cringe. The pain was almost unbearable. The total effects of that hemorrhage on my body as a whole would take a few months to manifest, but they were devastating. Everything from peeing to sitting up felt like giving birth to a full-grown elephant.

I was never one to take things for granted. I was never unappreciative of the use of my limbs. The loss of my peripheral vision taught me an incredibly valuable lesson, though. Listen.

What You Can See

Peripheral vision is amazing. It’s prevented my son from getting hurt many times in football because he was able to step out of the way just in time to avoid being blindsided by other players. It’s prevented me from getting t-boned by careless drivers. It’s a wonderful tool that parents use to side-eye their kids — it’s a favorite of mine.

There are times, though, when I prefer not to use peripheral vision. I’ve encouraged my son in this manner and right now, I want to encourage you.

Develop Your Tunnel Vision

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Most people advise against tunnel vision because it limits you in almost every way. You see nothing but the thing you’re focused on. Sometimes, that’s exactly what you need to do — focus on the thing you’re after.

In my son’s case, I’ve encouraged him to train his focus on doing well in school and bettering his football career. You see, ultimately, he will have sole custody of his daughter, so the preparatory steps that he takes on now will enable him to provide for her financially in the future. He understands that while he can’t spend as much time with Mia as he’d like right now, he is wise in preparing for the future. I also encourage him to work hard, hard, hard at football because it is such an important part of his bigger dream.

I believe that if you remain focused, but handle your business, tunnel vision is perfectly fine.

Faith, Faith, Faith

IMG_4412FA0A9187-1.jpegI also believe that when you are facing trials, tribulations, and other spiritual attacks, you must keep your vision trained on God. You can’t focus on the things that are going on around you. You can’t. You literally have to believe the God you serve is bigger than the problem(s) you’re going through. Psalm 121 is everything! It’s hard, I know, but it’s necessary. God operates largely on your level of faith. When He tells you that you need only have faith the size of a mustard seed, believe that, and stay focused on him instead of your problem. I know what I’m talking about.

 

Falling and Rising

Falling

It’s impossible to be a human being with even half a pulse and not be affected, in some way, by all the atrocities the United States is experiencing as a whole. I say as a whole because I don’t care what race you are, what your sexual orientation is, what your religious affiliation is, or where you stand politically, you are included, somehow, in the ruckus. Whether you realize it or not, you’re included.

In all honesty, it’s taken me this long to fully shake loose from all that’s happened over the past week enough that I became focused on my actual day-to-day living. Yes, I was stunned enough by all the killing that I fell back into that state of numbness that I fought so hard to pull myself out of. I was floored by all the blatant hatred. Well, I didn’t fall all the way back into that place, but I had reached a point that I knew I had to start fighting to get up and out of there.

I spent many years behind that wall of safety. I don’t care what happened — as long as it didn’t hurt Will, it didn’t hurt me. It didn’t matter what was done and said to me, I showed little, if any emotion. I felt very little so I showed very little. That’s what can happen after years of abuse. You just don’t care. Your main mission is to live. You just want to live. You just want to make it one more day, but so often, you don’t know why because you lose sight of your purpose. You lose the will to do anything more than just what it will take to keep the criticism to a minimum. Once you learn that regardless of how well you do a thing, there’ll still be something wrong with it, you lose the will to even do the little you were doing.

Rising

This world is filled with chaos. It’s so easy to get caught up in the things going on around us. This past week, I got caught up in the news. I am passionate about all the positions I take on all the issues, but I also know that I have to remain focused on my goals, my child, my grandchild, and my purpose. I’ve been in my prayer closet a lot this week. I was shaken, but I’m back on track now.

These Lives of Ours

The life of every single individual on this planet matters. It doesn’t matter what color, race, creed, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, marital status or socioeconomic status a person is, that life matters.

I am extremely blessed in that I have friends — true friends, who are different from me. I cherish each one of them not only because they are different from me, but also because we are much the same. We are all striving to live a happy, prosperous life. We are all dedicated to our families and love on our friends fiercely. We are all eager to make a positive difference in the lives of others. We are adamant about being there when one of us needs the other. We love each other. When my phone rings, I don’t look at the caller ID and see color, I see my friend’s name.

Friends are defined by character, morals, values, not whether their skin is the same color as yours. It’s all about surrounding yourself with people who make you laugh, feel good about yourself, accepts your differences, and hold you close through the good times and especially the bad times.

Love on those folks hard.

“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.

Acceptance

One of the greatest acts any person can undertake in any situation is one of acceptance. Good or bad, your current situation is exactly what it is.The most immediate truth is that you have to accept where you are at this moment to appreciate where you ultimately want to be and moreover, how you plan to move forward to that point.

Once you’ve accepted the truth of where you are, you can then accept whether you or not you’re willing to stay there. The choice is yours. I’m going to take a chance here and say that if you find yourself in any situation that is not pleasing to you or your purpose/calling, you’re going to want to move on.

WHEN THE TRUTH HITS YOU

Back in 2013 when my divorce was nearing its final stage, I was more confused than I had ever been in my entire life. Besides the fact that I had been left with a 3500 square foot home to pack by myself (my son had already left for college), very little money, confused, anxious pets, and a true sense of abandonment, I had no clue what I was going to do with my life.

I didn’t want to accept the fact that the last 20 years of my life would soon be packed away in boxes. I didn’t want to accept the fact that I was no longer a part of a marital unit. I loved being a wife. I loved being a part of a two-parent household. I loved, and will always love, the sanctity of marriage. I believe in it and always will. It’s beautiful.

It took me a long time to accept that fact that I had to move back to Louisiana. I didn’t want to move back to the state, let alone the tiny town I grew up in. My biggest childhood dream was to escape this area and never come back here to reside. Well, here I am. The man who is my soulmate told me numerous times that God sent me home to help with my mom and after some time, I realized that was true.

Eventually, I came to accept that this is where I belong. I fought it, but I didn’t accept it willingly or with pleasure. I do now. So many things have fallen into place and being here, surrounded by my family, on our land, with every single thing that we need to live and thrive makes it even better. There came a point when I could have left. I could leave now, but I choose not to. This is what I mean when I say you can accept where you are or you move on.

When I decided that I wouldn’t accept foul treatment, being placed second in anyone’s life, being subtly mistreated, being ignored, rejected, or placed on the back-burner of a man’s life, things turned around. I accepted that sort of treatment for a lot of years, hoping against hope that he would one day love and appreciate me. We all know how that turned out. The greatest release I will ever have received was that which came through my divorce.

FINAL WORD

You’ll constantly receive the behavior and treatment you accept. What you accept is what people will expect you to always accept. If you want goodness, only accept goodness.

Hidden Unforgiveness

The other day, my son and I had another one of those deep conversations during which he asked me if I had forgiven everyone who was instrumental in all the things that landed me flat on my back, and initially, I said I had. Almost immediately, the wheels started turning in my head and I realized that I haven’t. I’ve always said that I had fully forgiven my ex and in all honesty, I have forgiven him.

After 19 years of a ridiculous level of abuse where I forgave, got mad all over again, forgave again, then got super-duper mad again, I finally reached that stage that I strive to help other women reach — the one where I finally forgave him for hurting me for real, but finally let go of the thing that continued to destroy me which was him. The day our marriage was legally over, I did not walk around angry, sad, or bitter. I watched TV, ate bad foods, and drank a little wine.

For the longest time, I thought I had forgiven the other person who had been so blatantly instrumental in the overall destruction of my marriage. Okay, let me be honest — I knew I hadn’t fully forgiven her, but I figured the level that I had reached was sufficed to constitute full forgiveness. I’m good for justifying stuff, so just as quickly as I told my son that part of the reason that I’ve held on to some of that stuff is because he was in some of those folks crosshairs, I realized that I’ve been carrying around some unresolved anger. It’s been hidden.

I’ve always been good at giving folks an excuse or reason for everything I d0. Whether the deed is right or wrong, I will give you something. I would never try to justify any wrong-doing because wrong is wrong, but I will definitely tell you why I did the thing. That’s what made me an exceptional paralegal. Just as quickly as I told my son that part of the reason that I’ve held on to some of that stuff is because he was in that woman’s line of fire and had been her intended target merely because he is my son, I felt conviction.

I’m always preaching that regardless of the infraction, it is your duty to forgive immediately. We desire and expect God to forgive us just as soon as we finish our sins, so we have to do the same thing. I found that I’ve been carrying this low-key anger around not just the past three years, but actually nearly the entire time I was married to that man. There was always interference on her part. I would later learn that this person highly recommended that my husband divorce me and in fact set him up with another woman before our divorce was final. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware of the fact that he is a grown man (kinda) so the decision to mistreat me and to ultimately seek divorce was on him. The point is, though, that the level of meddling was unbelievable and unacceptable.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. I realized that I hadn’t forgiven that woman. I have been praying to God to give me strength to release that old girl fully. I have even been fasting about that thing because she’s caused enough havoc in my life. I won’t stop until I have fully released her because until I do, she holds a little control over my emotions. I don’t think of her every day, every week, or even every month, but when she does cross my mind, I become angry. That can’t happen. I won’t stop until I do my duty and that duty is to fully forgive her.

Forgiveness, as you know, is not necessarily for the other person. It’s for you. Let it go.

Your Mother’s Day Gift to Me

 

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Whether I was in Denver, calling you with well-wishes for this special day, or blessed to actually be in your presence to say those words to you face-to-face, Mother’s Day has always been extremely special to me because I knew that I had one of the most amazing women on this planet for a mother. This year I am speaking to you in the spirit, but I feel you with me.

A few years back, I wondered just how I would handle Mother’s Day when you were no longer with me in the flesh. I wondered if I would be as strong as I know you would be. I wondered if I would find myself so consumed with grief that I would want to stay in bed all day. The sorrow I feel weighs on me like a 50-ton anvil. I’m struggling to push it off my chest. The past two weeks or so, I’ve been weepy, sad, and hurt.

My Provider

You were always my role model. Even when I was too young to understand just how much you had gone through in your life to make certain there was a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothes on our backs, I knew that I had been blessed beyond measure to have you.

I remember getting so angry because I couldn’t get all the new clothes my classmates got. What I understood later was that when you took the time to sew those clothes for me, you were giving me everything that you could from the heart.

When my shoes had to come from the dollar store, I was embarrassed. What I understood later was that you hadn’t had new shoes of your own in many, many years.

I cut up and clowned because I didn’t want to eat any more squash or greens; I wanted fast food. What I understood later was that you had toiled in that garden planting and harvesting vegetables so that we wouldn’t go hungry.

I know that I was blessed with something many people didn’t have — a mother who very present in my life.

The Days that Followed

On October 24, 2015, you were relieved of the excruciating pain from rheumatoid arthritis and the ravaging effects of dementia. My birthday was a couple of weeks later and while I wasn’t sad, I would have given anything to hear you sing the happy birthday song to me. Thanksgiving was hard for us, but we managed to make it through the day.

December 16th was harder for me than October 24th. You would have turned 86. Christmas found us drowned in sorrow, but we were here for each other just like you would have wanted us to be.

About two weeks ago, I found myself being consumed by an underlying sorrow that I can’t seem to shake. There haven’t been too many days that I haven’t been to the cemetery to visit you. Some days I don’t get out of the car. I just need to be near you.

Your Gifts to Me

Over the years, I bought you plenty of jewelry. I made sure you got plenty of flowers. After you were gone, we found lots of stuff that you have not even opened. Flash and flamboyance weren’t you. You were a simple woman. You were a fascinating woman.

You left me with so many gifts. Thank you for living the life of a strong, unbreakable woman in front of me so that I never had to wonder what it looked like. Thank you for raising me to understand that things aren’t always what they seem to be. You taught me that I have to keep pushing regardless of what’s going on around me. You taught me that no one can do any more to me than I allow them to. You taught me that it’s never about being knocked down or even flat on my back, it’s about gathering the strength to get up and get back in the game. You taught me that I am never, ever, ever to give up on anything I want in this life. You taught me that I am only 2nd best in anything only if I perceive myself as 2nd best.

Thank you for being as unique as your name, Cleal. Thank you for being my mom.