A Glass of Wine and Random Thoughts

merlot2The other night I was in a very reflective mood. I began to think about a few things that randomly popped into my head as I sipped on a wonderful glass of Merlot. It seems like the more Merlot I sipped, the more reflective I became. Yes! I decided that material for my next blog piece was taking form. I was inspired, and a little bit buzzed, but that’s irrelevant. The point is, I had some random stuff that I wanted to share with whoever wants to read this. If that’s you, then keep reading and feel free to leave your own random thoughts in the comments section…with or without wine.

On Attitude: 

Someone recently very vaguely hinted to me that I needed to “improve my people skills.”  Oh, yeah, he hinted at it but never directly said it to me. I’m not surprised at this. However, I was surprised at how funny I found this innuendo to be. My internal laughter lasted for hours afterwards and I was filled with amusement the whole day.

I’m just no good at “hints, innuendoes, beating around the bush or sugar-coating” shit. This sometimes means that when other people “hint” at stuff, I don’t get it right away. I guess I expect people to be as direct as I am. Direct I get – no offense taken. Hints, I’m like, what the hell are you TRYING to say? Spit it out already! I’ll admit, this direct, no-nonsense quality has always been a part of my being and has only become more developed and uncensored as I get older. But, Oh my God, has it caused me some problems!  But here’s the thing: I used to care about the problems, now I don’t.

My children often remind me that I have a filter from brain to mouth about the depth of a quarter – I agree with them. However, the other quality that is actively working in the background is that of discernment and learning to carefully “pick my battles.”  I no longer feel the need to address or contend with every rude, ignorant, or stupid thing/statement/behavior that comes my way. I’ve discovered the beauty in prioritizing who and what gets my very valuable words, time and energy. For the majority of people, they just simply get my silence or a side eye look, or both. My emotional peace remains intact as I happily walk away.

Nope, there’s nothing wrong with my people skills. I just have no more tolerance for negativity, over inflated egos, drama, disloyalty, selfishness and confusion. And I’m not buying that crap about “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” No! I don’t want anyone in my inner vibrational orbit who doesn’t mean me any good. I’m not interested in what my “enemy” is doing or how they’re doing it and they can kick rocks and peek into someone else’s life, because if you’re not for me, you’re not with me.  Why would I intentionally give my enemy access to any part of my life? Just to watch them watch me? Nope, I don’t think so.  I’ll continue to let God and the universe take care of my enemies. I got things to do.

On Rejection:

“Rejection is God’s Protection.” Author Unknown.

It has only been in the last several years of my life that I can honestly attach myself to this quote. I think in some ways, I’ve know this to be true, but I never summed it up as well as these simple words do.

More than once in my life I have found myself wondering why many of the things that I wanted didn’t work out for me. These could be material things such as the purchase of a home or car that I wanted at the time or even a particular job. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include my disappointments in my love life and wanting and wishing that certain people/person was a part of it.  In all honesty, in the past, I have longed for things and people who, for unknown reasons at the time, remained out of my reach. I often remember how angry, deflated and even outraged I’d become.  Oh how unfair life was to me! Nothing ever worked out for me! Those were two of my most frequently used mantras.

For a long time I walked around feeling left out and slighted.  And then, one day, not sure protectionwhen, but one day it clicked for me. Sure, life is unfair and bad things happen to good people all the time – and even worse – good things happen to bad people, too. That’s just life. But what really clicked for me is when, in the past several years (probably when I turned 50), I began to see that things that I used to want so badly – or the people who I thought I wanted in my life – would have been big mistakes and would have caused me more heartache than I could have imagined.

I’m not saying that God has revealed every reason for every single thing that was ever withheld from me. No, that’s not true. However, He continues to allow me discover my own truths and through this process, my spiritual eyes are opening and I see differently with those eyes. My spiritual eyes see that everything that I thought was good for me simply wasn’t. I’ve discovered that nothing good was truly withheld from me and that I am currently living my best life – right now, right in this moment. I’ve had more than my fair share of disappointments, heartbreaks and failures – professionally and personally. I’ve had to slay some demons, face some ugly truths and put on my big girls panties often.  But guess what? I’m still here and I’m not just surviving, I’m thriving –

“Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant” – Maya Angelou.

On Grey Hair & Aging:

Most days I look in the mirror and say, “Girl, you’re looking mighty good at 57” (mind you, I didn’t say “for” 57 – there’s a difference) And most days that is exactly how I feel!  And then there are the other days – less often, but true – when I look in the mirror and say, “Wow, you look old today.” Or “You look old AND tired today.” And there are some days where, even before I look into a mirror – just getting out of bed – I feel “old” and achy. I can go to bed feeling great at night, and wake up feeling like I’ve been in a fight during the night and I lost.

age-2My grey hairs are coming in more frequently now. Although my family has a history of being “hard to grey,” it doesn’t mean we don’t. The majority of my ancestors and living relatives grey slowly and more “salt and pepper” rather than wake-up- one -day -and -completely grey.  I used to think this was a good thing – hey, I wouldn’t have to deal with a complete head of grey hair for a long time.

My natural hair is very long, unprocessed and thick. I haven’t put a relaxer in my hair in almost 10 years and it’s very healthy. However, I do weave or crochet some hair into my natural hair on a regular basis. Not because I have to, but because I chose to. I take good care of my natural hair, but Lord help me if I had to maintain, comb and style it daily. I do not have the patience or energy for that – never been a hair person. So, I do whatever makes life easier for me.

Now the funny thing is, I wish the grey would just come on in and stop playing! The grey comes in mostly around the edges and ONLY just a little and the majority of my hair is completely dark brown. So to me, my hair doesn’t have that beautiful salt and pepper look or completely grey look that I would be proud to rock naturally. No. Instead it has that “Well I guess it is time to have some grey in your head, ole girl. So, here are a few scraggly strands to remind you that you’re not a spring chicken anymore!”  Thank you very much!

Seriously though, I laugh at it and chalk up my scraggly greys, my aches before I even get out of the bed – and sometimes while I’m laying in the bed – to a life filled with raising beautiful children to adulthood, marrying/living with their fathers and all the bullshit that entailed, being in the workforce for over 30 years and just showing up daily and being engaged in life.  I have laugh lines that are becoming deeper and are present even when I’m not laughing. That’s okay – I’ve earned them. Just as I’ve earned the right to NOT always look like I’m still in my late 30’s or 40’s (and I’ve been told this many times).  Of course it’s very flattering to hear that. What 50+ woman wouldn’t love to hear that she looks a decade, or more, younger than she really is! But the beauty about inner acceptance is that on those days when my body – for whatever reasons – is tired and the aging is more apparent when I look in the mirror,  is that it IS really okay to be okay with it and to embrace it. The pressure to always look younger, more beautiful, sexier, skinnier is just too much sometimes.

Sure, I’ve got my share of anti-aging nightly moisturizer that I ritualistically apply ALMOST every night. But some nights, I just take my wig off or wrap my weave up in a bonnet, brush my teeth, take a shower, and go to bed. Some nights, I’m okay with looking “my age” – however that may look on me. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone and to me, that’s crazy sexy cool.age-1

For more of my insights on aging/middle age/sex, love and dating over 50, please check out my previous pieces:

Middle Age: Living and Loving It

Love, Sex & Dating After 50

50 Fabulous Facts About Being In My 50’s

(Just put these titles in the search bar)

 

Special thanks for the use of their content/imagery and a shout out to my new favorite page on FB:

The Fly Hip & Ageless

I’m so happy that I found them and I’m always renewed from the positive energy, sage advice, and beautiful human examples of aging beautifully.  I always feel like a badass after I visit their page!

Please check them out on Facebook at FB@Flyhipageless and follow them on Instagram: IG@Flyageless.

 

Other Photo Credits:  Pinterest, Photo Stock

 

KEEP THE CROWN, I’M A WARRIOR

warrior womanI used to wear a crown – it was shiny and golden and most times, it was only visible to my eyes. But then some man or another, who called himself a king, would obviously see my crown and call me a queen: “My queen, you are beautiful and I want to be with you.” Or “I will treat you like the queen that you are.” Or “This king is seeking his queen.” Yes, I wore my crown with quasi-pride, even if I didn’t know how it’d gotten on top of my head…I never put it there. I’d read and been informed by other proud black women, who also wore their crowns, that my crown was an inheritance. I am, after all, a black woman who is special and significant. I am a black woman who is accomplished and smart – who may even come from royalty in the Motherland – from our ancestors before they were carried kicking and screaming, chained and shackled, across the sea.  Across the sea, there were no crowns for our Kings and Queens…all the crowns were left at the shores. I should wear my crown and remind the world who I am…A QUEEN!

Truth be told, I don’t know if any of my ancestors were African queens or of royalty. My ancestral inheritance is unclear, but my suspicions aren’t. This crown that I sought and found – this golden crown that I have tried to convince myself to wear has never fit properly. It was constantly sliding down my head and falling to the ground. You see, as I battled the wars and attacks that came my way, my crown would never stay in place.  I was never able to sit still on that queen’s throne while I waited for some king to claim me. My crown often sat crooked upon my head, if at all – the only throne I’ve ever sat before was on my knees at God’s throne. I traded in the royal queen’s scepter for a sword instead.

No, there are far too many battle scars on and inside of me to be a mere queen. My soul is not pristine and soft – it is tough and weathered and shrouded in my warrior shield. No, I’ve never been a queen and I never will be. My soul was never cut from queen cloth – instead the spirits of my warrior ancestors collectively whisper and guide me – they empower and strengthen me. When this warrior woman inside of me becomes weary, God breathes life into this body everyday – renewing me. You see, He had bigger plans for me…a masterpiece, indeed. No, a queen would never do – He created a warrior instead. Who else could do battle but a soldier. Who else could weather the storms but a ship, not a sail boat. Who else but a warrior could keep getting up again and again, after soul crushing disappointments and heartache, life changing losses and grief, setbacks and setups, trenches and foxholes, darkness and chaos. No, a mere queen would have her “subjects” around her to protect her from those things – to cushion the blows. A warrior endures and even conquers them and becomes stronger because of them.my crown

Don’t call me a Queen.  Oh, I know it’s said with good nature, and even with reverence. But that is far from who my spirit would ever allow me to be. It will not settle for less. I’m designed for greatness and only the warrior in me will bring that forth. So I’ve packed away my golden queen’s crown – the one that never fit me anyway.  I’ve traded it in for my warrior gear – also invisible to the naked eye, but recognized by other warriors. The warrior in me salutes the warrior in you and I pass it down to my daughters. All “kings” looking for their “queens,” pass me by. You’d never be able to tame me and a warrior man would never want to. I’ll patiently wait on that warrior man – the one whose spirit and soul is as scarred as mine. The warrior man who seeks a woman who was never a delicate flower, but a spiritual force of love, power, resiliency and light. I will wait on my warrior man who would not seek to dilute me or “rescue” me, but to win me and honor my warrior strength and protect me with his. I’ll wait for the warrior man who knows that the only REAL king is not an earthly being, but is the Creator of the Universe and together we will honor and serve Him.  I will wait for my warrior man and he will find me on the battlefield, with my shield and spear in my spirit, not with a crown.

Thank you to the unknown artists of the two works in this piece.

THE LOST AND FOUND

FB_IMG_1430970218560In my attempt at living my best life, I’ve managed to lose some things along the way. Even when I wasn’t always living my best life, I still managed to lose them – maybe that was the point.  I don’t think it was intentional or even a conscious decision. These things just simply went away and I suppose they had to for one reason or another…many were out of my control. Nothing ever stays the same. Many of these losses were painful and transformational – others were a relief and a burden lifted. However, in each case of loss, in every single situation, there is always something that I find in its place.

Over the years, I’ve lost intimate relationships, marriages, cars, jobs, money, peace of mind, health and, at times, my dignity. The relationships weren’t restored (and I count my blessings for that!), the cars, jobs and money were all replaced (material things that no longer matter – I’ve downsized and am happier!) and my peace of mind, health and dignity were all restored better than ever. Despite the losses, I found that I am a warrior! I found that my powers or resiliency are a force to be reckoned with and the word survivor is an understatement! I found that courage doesn’t mean that I’m never afraid of anything , but that REAL courage means doing the thing that scares you ANYWAY.

I’ve lost two sisters and I’m the only sibling left. The pain from their losses is immeasurable and it’s a wound that will never heal. I’ve had to learn how to live my life without them in it.  In the meantime, I have found that grief and pain are not signs of loss, instead they are the expressions and manifestations of love – love that is no longer physically tangible – only in spirit Yes, my sisters are gone, but I find comfort, most times, in believing that I will see them again.  I have found that grief and pain are personal and as individual as each of us and because of their deaths, I have found a new vision and direction for my life.

I have lost the innocence of blind faith. I have begun to question almost everything that I once believed in – not because I knew these things, but because I was taught them. I have lost the ability to keep my blinders on and ignore what I see. In its place, I have found an impenetrable silence – the noise of the environments are quieted and I can finally hear in my spirit.  I have lost the fear of a God who seeks vengeance and retaliation upon those who believe differently, or even those who don’t believe at all.  I have found that my God is a tolerant, loving, merciful and kind God, a God of peace and the Creator of this universe. He is a God who has given us free will, which includes the will to look beyond and inside – to fearlessly seek my truth, as I will come to know it.

On a less spiritual note, I have lost a little of the youthful spring in my step and girlish roses in my cheeks. Oh yes! My youthful steps have been slowed down by regular visits from Mr. Arthritis (no, not a new boyfriend)  Although he’s a persistent suitor and pays me regular visits, I’m able to fend him off with regular exercise and Zumba and Belly Dancing classes. The “roses” in my cheeks have been replaced by a set of laugh lines that remain even when I’m not laughing. The very fine lines beginning to etch their way around my eyes seem to magically appear overnight. My once tight skin is beginning to show signs of age and, while the wrinkles have mercifully stayed away so far, the subtle sagging hasn’t. Did I mention that moisturizers are my new best friends?  And when exactly did I become a “Ma’am” to everyone? I look in the mirror now, and there is more than a vague trace of the young woman I see in pictures from my 20’s and 30’s. Except now, the face is “set” – it is matured and seasoned – it is a face that has lost its trusting youthfulness, but has found a more enduring beauty. It is a face of a life of gratitude, endless mercies, unmerited favor, forgiveness, resilience, and wisdom.

I’ve lost the exhaustive pretense of unimportant small talk with people whom I couldn’t care less about. The “love everyone” mantra has escaped me and I’m not sending out a search party for it. I’ve decided that altruistic thinking, believing and behaving is no longer healthy for me. I’ve misplaced the need to please, cajole and accommodate people. If it works out, then fine. If not, that’s fine, too…at least for me it is. I’ve dispelled the urge to say yes when I mean no, and no when I mean yes. What has emerged is a woman who doesn’t waste time on meaningless relationships or causes that aren’t important to me – life is short. What I’ve found is the need to remove myself from negativity, confusion and bilious spirits. What I have also found is the need for peace in my life – peace is more important than pay, perks and prosperity, but I’ll take them all if I can get them!

So, I take my daily coffee with the sun and my more-than-occasional glass of Merlot with the stars and I’ll drink to my lost and found and a life well lived.

Artist: Andrew Nichols

http://www.andrewnicholsart.com/

WHAT ARE YOU SAYING ABOUT YOURSELF?

mirrorLong before I ever had my first article published in the Florida Times-Union years ago, I said that I was a writer. I spoke it, I believed it and I claimed it. I knew that writing is what I was born to do and the truth is, I’d been writing since I was a very young girl in school.

As a writer, it is a wonderful thing to see your written words in print for others to read. However, my only audience long ago were my sisters and my parents who patiently listened as I read the words I’d written from my imagination. Much later, when asked what kind of work I did, before I even realized it, the words “I’m a writer” flowed from my lips without hesitation or forethought. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was actually speaking my destiny into creation. I was telling the universe who I was and I was embracing it with passion, wonder, excitement and a bit of fear. Yes, to actually become who you say you are is a bit scary…at first. The universe actually opened up and agreed with me and a writer took form, just as the characters in my childhood stories had. God and his incredible universe had nodded in my direction and given me the green light. And so my journey began.

The power of words should never be underestimated. The bible tells us in Proverbs 18:21 that “There is life or death in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit.”  In Matthew 12:13 Jesus says, “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”  What this means to me is that it is important to watch the words that we speak from our mouths. We can either choose to speak life into our lives, or speak failure and disappointment. Whichever we chose to speak, we’re going to be correct.

When you look at yourself in the mirror, who do you see? Do you see someone who is successful, happy, loving and living your truth? How do you speak about yourself to yourself? If you’re saying things like, “I’m a failure or an idiot,” or “I’ll never have the things that I want or be the person who I want to be,” then, once again, you’re correct. The universe has ears and it’s listening to everything that you say. I said I was a writer and that is exactly who I’ve become. It was never about “finding” myself, it has always been about “creating” myself. There’s a difference.

Self talk should be honest, forgiving, gentle and empowering. No doubt that there are days when this is easier said than done! I can testify to that. But what matters is what you really believe about yourself and your potential. Be clear on what your definition of success is.  For me, it was never about having a lot of money, although I wouldn’t be opposed to that idea at all. It isn’t about being the best writer on the planet, because I’m not. But I’m thankful that I’m living my own truth as much as possible – I am doing the thing that makes me the happiest – writing. For me, this is success.

Speak life, love, peace, good health and your definition of success into your life. Speak your truth into the universe and then be prepared to see it manifest. When given the chance, always speak life!