Where Do You Stand?

So yeah about this quarantine? I never thought in a gazillion years that the entire world would be bought to the place of being still. Yet here we are. I had just gotten into a rhythm, going to the gym, starting my brand, eating super clean, writing in my blog and boom, corona-virus was like………NAH beloved!

I remember constantly complaining about my Job and how tired I was of it. I complained about the gross entitlement of the masses that you tend to experience while working in the service industry . I complained about never having enough time to spend with my children and friends. I vented often about how hard it was to find time to connect even if only by way of phone call or face-time..because I was so busy. I hardly had time to cook the way I’d liked in time past , eating although done deliberately was done so on the fly. I never had time to do a facial,read a book,binge watch Netflix, just sit and be centered.. then corona virus was like ………You do now beloved.

This paradox called covid had left me in uncharted territory. On one hand this invisible enemy that was causing several of my friends and acquaintances to become ill to the point of death, this entity that cost me and millions of others their source of income and had rendered the world fearful and on edge had some how been the unconscionable answer to prayer ….time has now been granted…. a blessing covered in blood……a lottery wrapped in loss…. a gift in the midst of grief. How do we wrap our minds around such an occurrence? sweet serendipity? or unrelenting sorrow?

Far too often the Lord moves in ways that are simply too mysterious to fathom. He allows the universe to expand, contract and give birth to things both grotesque and glorious at the same time ..twins that come to stand at our right and left side to bring lessons and blessings.. but much like a parent when given this lot, do we have the luxury of choosing one over the other? Do we take one child home from the hospital just to abandon the other? God forbid. I remember standing at the fresh grave of one of my sons while carrying the other in my belly… this is reminiscent of that time..

We now ,in between sending condolences and care packages , have time to watch that movie with our children. while doing grocery runs for friends , family and neighbors we actually get to take time to shed our love on people ..tangibly. Loss and grief has called us …suddenly called us as a universe into a deeper more electric relationship with our creator.. because all of our answers and securities have failed. There are birthday parades, first responder celebrations ,kitchen physicians healing the sick at home, pop up food pantries, love gifts,whole families being wiped out, family dinners, not enough food for some families, instagram cooking tutorials,, tele-health for managing depression,video sip and chats, video grief support,streaming funerals,tik toks,dance parties, online church services, and zoom and cash app have never seen so much traffic. its all mingled ..its all one common shared experience..our new normal.

But I pose the question, where do you stand ? what is your perspective? its up to us to decide how we come out of the strange yet sacred time that we have been given…what kind of person will emerge after we overcome this historic time of imbalance ?.. now that you have the time…all the time in the world…think about that…

“I think left my body somewhere in Harlem 20 years ago” ( a complaint in short)

So this morning I’m standing in front of the weightlifting rack in my gym completing the third round of my super set, looking at the chocolate banana muffin stuffed muffin top that it took me 48 years to accumulate . I’m struggling to put to certain death by way of these iron weapons ,all the while wondering … what happened to the body I used to have ? The one that just stayed the same no matter what I ate or no matter what time of the month is was. The one That didn’t hurt when the weather changed and could do whatever physical activity I commanded it to do without slipping a disc. The body that defied gravity .. that’s the one I want back !

I remember being 19 years years old ,jumping into the backseat of my girlfriends car and hightailing it at 2am to Harlem from a Bergen county rollerskating rink to willie burgers . Where I scarfed down four greasy cheeseburgers with fries and a large soda , then staying out until the wee hours of the morning only to follow it up with a giant stack of pancakes and a cup of coffee , to come home take a shower and go back to work all while remaining a cute size 2. Smh…. a SIZE 2!!!! That’s definitely not a thing anymore . I can eat a piece of toast and develop huge anxiety around the dreaded fear that I’m going to try to button my jeans and unleash the button under so much pressure that it flies off with enough velocity that it concusses someone across the room!

I know we should age gracefully and beautifully. We should be very grateful to see each and every year and embrace every change that each one brings . I don’t want to sound ungrateful in this blog posts but The changes that I see occurring at an alarming rate that I have no control over are a little unsettling.

some of them are as follows…I can’t make it through six hours of sleep at night without getting up twice to go to the bathroom …I loose weigh in my face and it shows up the next day in my stomach …the beard i don’t want that is growing quicker and thicker than the hair on my head …the fact that I come from the gym weighing four pounds heavier than when I left an hour before (thanks water retention) …My back hurts constantly , the spontaneous crying , The heart palpitations that begin when I’m sitting relaxing watching TV…I can’t digest dairy or wheat … my period plays hide and seek and my eyelashes divorced me six months ago…such perks ! Wonderful perks.

The thing is I workout , I eat clean, I don’t eat the amount of sugar I used to and when I do consume it it’s natural . I try to get seven hours of sleep a night and I still live in a body that I don’t recognize . Maybe some of you can relate maybe some of you can’t . I will be 50 next year and when I look in the mirror all I see is a stranger who resembles me looking back . she’s kind of cute and I’ve resolved to love her but alas this is definitely not the body that I left in Harlem years ago… just a short soapbox rant … as you were

Sue ❤️

It was good that I had been afflicted

Boy oh boy being sick can be a wake up call! Thinking you are sick can be a wake up call….thinking ABOUT being sick …alone is a loud enough call to wake you all the way up. trust me.

So the past few months I experienced another wake up call. I began experiencing health symptoms that were extremely frightening, ones that alarmed me, ones that mimicked a disease that could have ,had it come to fruition ,claimed my life. And in the midst of these symptoms and increasing pain, all I kept thinking were two things, primarily “God help me shield my children from the possibility of coming grief” and “But I’m not finished living yet”. Its so funny, the thoughts that crop up when we are faced with a possible risk to our health. We suddenly remember all of the promises we made, all oaths we took, all declarations we made to change and do better. we remember that we were supposed to begin reaching out to those estranged friends and family members. The book we were supposed to write ,the trip we were supposed to take and those people we were supposed to forgive all of a sudden pulse with a sense of urgency. And why is that ? Why do we only decide to take ownership of these priceless thoughts when we fear that time is no longer on our side. We take so much for granted. But the biggest thing I believe we all take for granted is time itself. When we are physically well we feel a sense of invincibility . We exude a superman complex, toting a mile long laundry “slash” bucket list of fantastical and often unrealistic goals that we intend to get to, at some point… while we realistically waste time in line at a coffee house to buy an overpriced latte, only to take several pics of it covered in hashtags as its launched into social media infinity, way before we even taste it to see if it is sweet enough. How many things do we do hastily ,frivolously, without second thought before taking time to “taste” its sweetness, its bitterness, its temperature.. to even see if the cup is full at all?

So amidst my many medical test, while awaiting my results I began to think …

I am still single… I want to travel… I want to move…I want to stop dating…I want to get married again … wait …scratch that ….I want to start dating…. I want to learn more.. make new friendships. .lose weight….love deeper…eat better….laugh more…live more…cherish time…more….

I thought about what kind of mom I had been and of all the mistakes I had made on the road of parenthood. I reflected on the kind of woman I had been in my romantic relationships and where I needed to take inventory. I sought God , asking Him if He was happy with the way I had stewarded the time and the gifts that He had blessed me with so far or had I wasted it being self involved and spoiled. Was I the kind of friend I would want for myself? Was I the kind of coworker that made others happy to be at work? Was I the kind of child of God that made the prospect of even taking the slightest chance to believe in God an attractive option ? I suddenly felt oddly Older, and I was overtaken with an overwhelming sense that I had let myself down. Wasted my life, after all we only get one, right? what had I done with mine?

So while I waited I prayed. I journaled. I prayed some more. I thought about the fact that the early mortality rate from my mothers side of the family was a curse that had possible finally come to rest on me and I resolved that I would do my best to do better with whatever time I had left of this gift called life. I spent a lot of my days encouraging my daughter, my sons and various friends in fragile areas of their lives. I mustered up the resolve to put on a brave face even though when no one was looking I was petrified, frail, and distraught at the prospect of having to face an illness and my superman complex was reduced to null. Then after months of stress ,sleepless night, buckets of tears, hours upon hours of prayer,fasting and reflection. All of my tests came back negative ..positive for some health challenges, however ,negative for anything that would have cut my time short. and something amazing happened to me in that moment…….

Friends, the valley of illness will teach you a lesson that the mountain top of health cannot. I learned the lessons of people as a priority, living in the moment, the value of laughter , the power of love, the weapon of forgiveness, the healing found in a child’s hand, the essential foundation of friendship, the magic of falling in love over again, the overpowering warmth found in the hug of a friend, the irony that money isn’t everything, the power of prayer, the medicinal properties in food, the detrimental effects of food, the necessity of creating memories, the tremendous need to live in the moment and the terrifying urgency to “do it even if you’re scared” all in the valley of sickness. Every interaction positive or negative means so much more to me now. I no longer allow unforgiveness and bitterness to set up camp in my soul. After all those afore mentioned words cause emotional inflammation, which in turn produces physical results. I am all the more deliberate about what I feed my body and my heart, and I decide every day to operate from a place of gratitude and love. Now bare in mind, I do have a diagnosis…however its one that I believe was given to me to keep me humble, I was given this proverbial thorn in my flesh so as not to exault myself above measure. To cause me to stop and taste every sweet drop of this expensive life latte and enjoy it in the moment sans the social media upload.my new desire is to hear God say well done with the time and the gifts that He’s given me . To see smiles on the faces of my loved ones. It caused me to regroup and live life the way it was intended to be lived..in great company …one sip at a time.

Resolution

res·o·lu·tion/ˌrezəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n/Learn to pronouncenoun

  1. 1. a firm decision to do or not to do something.

So I’m looking at the last few days of the year 2019 and I’m trying to do some introspection and self inventory . Thinking about things I’d like to change, thinking about things that I’d like to accomplish ,ways that I want to better myself as a person, as a woman ,as a mother, as a friend… and the word resolution popped into my mind.

I hate that word…

I think my hatred of the word resolution started years ago when we were always asked as children what Our New Year’s resolutions would be .what did we promise ourselves and others that we would do differently during the next 365 days. And we would feverishly write a list of all of these well intentioned commitments that would ultimately never be kept through February..In hopes that we would convince others as well as ourselves that we could somehow magically become better people by transference of writing them down. They hardly ever worked.

Now some people can write the vision ,make it plain and go for it! they can journal and say this is what I will do , then crush their goals ! they can set intentions and make things work …while others in the attempt to do the same thing, fail miserably before the ink is dry on the paper. It causes me to wonder what’s the difference between these two groups of individuals.And that word pops up again …that ugly word ..resolution.

If we look at the aforementioned meaning of the word it’s a firm decision whether we’re going to do or not to do something . it’s not found in our desires and not found in our eloquent writings on December 31 at 11:30 PM . It is found in our inner core ,in our spirit ,where we find the resolve to say that this is what I want to change and make a decision ,not the good intention ,but the actual decision to change. So I had a thought about this.. I realized that there are many things that for years I intended to change about myself. whether it had to do with my health ,my approach to health or weight loss or gain, my approach to bettering myself by taking in more culture ,surrounding myself with people that were outside of my comfort zone ,learning from those that are foreign to me , or traveling solo. I found that things that made me uncomfortable I always covered with this warm safe fuzzy blanket of “good intentions” but I decided to take a more rebellious approach this time around . So as the year comes to a close I decided instead of “resolutions “ I want to write a list of “decisions”

Decision and the word decide dictates a change of mind which would force a change in mindset which is really the issue here isn’t it? So I had an epiphany ! the difference between the two groups of people is one group never adopted a new mindset . The word of God in the Christian belief system tells us that we need to renew our mind and that would also imply that the mind can be subject to erroneous thinking. Erroneous thought patterns could also encapsulate self doubt , fear, low self esteem, stagnation, laziness , complacency , worry, self destruction ,envy , and comparison. All of which can keep us bound and unchanged .

So I urge you to get out a piece of paper and a pen …Pray , meditate ,think really deeply about every single thing that you accomplished or failed to accomplish in this past year . I want you to think of every single way that you would like to see yourself differently through fresh eyes in the coming year . I want you to write down every time you failed a friend ,family member ,a coworker and most of all yourself . I also want you to write down every time you showed up for a friend ,family member,coworker and most of all yourself . “Decide” what you want to do different and write down every decision and action plan to create and affect change in your life . Not just for the coming year but permanently . This year my friends your “resolution” is to make “decisions” that will serve you better and better every single day… forever

Happy new year 🎈

Limbo….

Hey!!!

So I haven’t blogged in a while mostly because I’ve been kind of stuck., I’ve been stuck in a space where I have so much to say yet nothing to say at all. My 48th birthday came and went. It began so beautifully and left so violently that it spun me around to the point where I think I’m still trying to get my footing. I spent the first part of September dining with friends making plans to celebrate bringing this 48th year of my life in with joy ,expectations and love. Who knew that I would close out my birthday week burying a friend of who fell victim to domestic violence and suffered her death due to a gunshot wound to the head at the hand of her lover, who then in turn killed himself….”instant limbo”….

Life is so funny …earlier I spent a large portion of this year praying and journaling and trying to heal myself of certain things in order to position myself in such a way that I would be ready to receive a relationship if the wind blew the chance my way. And after the loss, the tragedy that September bought, so violent and so final , it gave me pause. Made me think about my choices and my desires …Made me wonder if they were legitimate and if they needed to be realized at all. And if I was not indeed better off alone. Now I know that God did not create us to be alone, but after surviving a very tumultuous relationship myself, after being a survivor of domestic violence at a very young age at the hands of a boyfriend and a father ,as a woman approaching 50, single and divorced ….I’m in limbo. I’m stuck!!! How do we know when red flags are present when they are cleverly disguised as good intentions and cloaked as mistakes. Mistakes…..”oh He didn’t really mean it….” (this school of thought can in time prove fatal)…My God… how do we see past the mask of a smiling face that hides the grimace of rage underneath??? In this age and at this stage in life ,dating is not for the faint of heart . Each participant carries so much baggage, so many experiences, so much resentment, unfulfilled hopes and lost dreams, and heartbreak, and repeat ,and stir ,and add water, and repeat, and shake and dust off, and repeat!!!!!! SMH. And you try to find a happy medium..a sweet spot, some commonality that will link you .But far too often what links two people together is recognized brokenness and shared pain. And because that’s a southern fried recipe for disaster. So I’ll wait… in limbo.

I have become quite comfortable in my routine. Going to work coming home, making food ,having a “cuppa” tea , journaling, working on my brand ,then drifting off to sleep while watching Golden girls. don’t laugh! what’s better than Golden girls ? I’m sorry that’s absolutely the best show ever made!!! But I digress… This routine was not healthy. Because even though I felt I was being productive , I was Blogging, working on my boutique ,or pushing my brand , even communicating with friends online… I was really becoming a glorified hermit. I was hiding myself from the world, deeply desiring connection but being too afraid of allowing the heart that took so long to put back together, to be broken again. So it’s safer in here, in my hobbit hole ,with Blanche and rose and my pecan pralines. But does safety equal happiness? Does safety always equal health? Does safety always equal peace? We were created to be creatures of relational habits. We were not created to live in solitude and I know that deep down in my “sha-na-na” . Listen,I desire a relationship and there are those that desire a relationship with me, but because of fear I quickly find every reason that a relationship shall fail, cut it off at the pass and retreat back to safety. And this is the “game” of limbo. When I started writing this piece I thought about limbo being a space where you hang in the balance between two decisions ,two occurrences, two places. But it’s so funny because I can also reference the actual party game to describe where I am. In the party game of limbo you bend over backwards ,Completely uncomfortable and unnaturally in order to fit under a small space that is dictated by a bar that’s held by other people. And I feel like sometimes that’s exactly what we do. We have stretched and bended and twisted ourselves to fit into this unnatural space because of a bar that was set emotionally by other dysfunctional people. And it’s not what we were created to do which is why so many of us are unhappy in our safe space ,because its unnatural. So as I continue to heal and pray and journal and forgive, and pray and venture out into participating in more social things that will bring me out of this” limbo” I urge you to do the same. And if anything that I’ve written today strikes a cord with you, resonates with you, (even the domestic violence portion) come out from under the bar with me!!! Stop hanging twisted and mangled between two opinions , in an uncomfortable space…wearing lip-gloss but stuck, smiling and stuck, cute outfit but stuck, dating constantly but actually stuck, anti-social and stuck, declining every invitation and stuck, drinking yourself to sleep and stuck….STUCK IN LIMBO! And let’s learn to live again, trust again, commune again…. the way our Creator intended us to…to live relationally and fearlessly with the divine expectation of love in its most healthiest form. ..But I’m still watching golden girls…every night.. boyfriend or not! There are just certain things that are not up for negotiation….. Rest in power Naire McCormick. Your love is cyclical!

-Sue❤️

(**cue “thank you for being a friend”)

Believe

So I woke up this morning bright and early coffee in hand pen and paper in the other ready to check my Boutique orders and get my day rolling to a great start! I opened my laptop ready to live the life of a entrepreneur and the what is it I expected unexpectedly we’re not there!…OK OK all is not lost I said to myself I said self let me go onto social media and check to see how many people liked my new blog posts !!! so I looked at my stats and although my reach and my interaction numbers are skyrocketing the number of people that actually commented or liked my content is almost a4th of that…..drats!OK so I get my little prince ready for vacation Bible school grab what was left of my coffee and head out the door . I figured I’ll just try a different approach. something must be wrong. There has to be something I’m not doing right and with in the 10 minutes it took for me to walk to the church I started to hear that small voice in the back of my head, that nagging voice that started looping …tell me once again “so yeahhhhh Sue…I don’t think this is going to work.”

But I shook it off !!! I did my time volunteering at vacation Bible school. I sang this songs ,I clapped my hands ,I did the science experiment ,I put a smile on ,but all the while I was telling myself that I was going to tackle this my way ! so as I walked home with my son on his scooter beside me , I envisioned myself …(skinny jeans ,converse on…in my head on a boom box a deep voice is reciting the Invictus poem …and kid Capri is cross fading and scratching a record in the background ) For those of you that don’t know that’s a serious old-school hip-hop reference! Power music and determination! Boom! I’ve got this !!!! But as I put the key in the door the voice over rode my whole soundtrack …because I knew as soon as I opened that laptop the orders or lack there of would still be there and the social media interaction would still be the same and I all the sudden allowed the presence of those facts to override the vision that was placed in my belly along time ago for the brand that I wanted to create. And all of this and I started to doubt everything!

“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.”

-William Shakespeare

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Pause!!! I want a redo!

I remember waking up .. no scratch that !! JUMPING up out of my sleep that morning ! Heart racing .. pounding a million miles per second .. In my throat , my ears , my chest .. shoot I felt it in my eyelashes ! I was late ! Super late !!! Anxious !!! And angry !! I was sweating ! I wanted to cry ! I had trouble breathing .. the beating increased .. pounding away in my chest .. I was horror stricken and disoriented .. fumbling around my dimly lit hobbit hole for my phone ! ( you know the device that saves your life ) I suppressed a few tears and a few choice words long enough to open my screen to see what time it was … to see just how late I was .. for what ? I wasn’t sure .. to my horror I saw that it was 8 am … on a Saturday…. and I was in fact late for nothing .. nothing at all! Then it dawned on me….. Dammit MENOPAUSE!!!!!!!!

I had in fact been jolted out of a sweet dream I might add by the horrible occurrence of hormone induced heart palpitations…. ok… here we go…..

Let’s add THIS to the growing list of flipping pleasantries ….

Anxiousness

Anger

Insomnia

Weight gain

Anger

Dizziness

Excessive forgetfulness

Anger

Mood swings

Adult acne

Irregular periods

Hair thinning

Anger

Breast swelling

Breast shrinking

A mustache

More anger

A beard ….

And now morning heart palpitations!!!!????

This is not even sexy ! I’m so sorry as a younger woman I couldn’t wait to get rid of my period ! To be rid of all the cramps , the pain , the mess …oh I was counting the years . However no one warned me that it would come in exchange for my sanity and every shred of dignity owned . I had just come to terms with the fact that I had to leave post it’s around my home for myself to remind “me” to do basic stuff ( pay a bill, you need toilet paper , your keys are on the shelf , shave your legs and pluck your beard…etc ) you know the usual ….

But this wasn’t just annoying ,this scared me to death . I didn’t like the feeling of being so helpless so out of control and unaware… damn you HORMONES! are these the same things responsible for my fits of rage ? My uncontrollable crying ? My 4am cupcake binges? Me sitting up in my bed in the dark thinking about plotting my revenge on a rude customer from last month ? The fact that most of the days of the month I spend in elastic waist pants ? Yikes ! hormones are a hell of a drug !

I was so happy that at 47 in full swing of being peri menopausal, that I had not fallen victim to the dreaded personal summers. The embarrassment of profuse sweating and the need to shred every inch of clothing off of your body . I mean one night I though someone had broken in my house , doused me with kerosene and set my chest alight .. but hey that was a one off freakish episode … for the most part … . I had dogged that bullet !

But what am I to do ? What are we to do with this metamorphosis? most days my biggest goal is not to turn into a short bald black man !!! This transformation? It’s not bad ass and sexy like a real transformer, a gobot, Voltron, or being an X-men … like this sucks!

So I decided to romantically embrace it! Ladies .. what else a can we do ? If it were my decision I would get off this ride but the alternative to aging is death . I’ve lost so so many female family members and friends who never got to experience the PRIVILEGE of growing a beard. Or watching their estrogen pack up and rapidly divorce their body …daily.

So…. if I have to wake up like a lunatic once in a while .. rip off my beard … slap on some acne medication .. hoist up my breast and restock my post It’s I’ll do it with a smile !

Being over 40 is a gift ! A privilege!

So no pause for me !…I’m going to rock out until the wheels fall off!

Besos

-Sue

Never say you’re too old for stickers..

So today I was schooled by a seven year old….

This particular little person was accompanied by his mom and younger sister in the store where I work.As his mom was leaving I offered his tiny sister a long strip of children’s stickers. She squealed as I handed them to her..her face lit up with delight and the squeal was followed by a barrage of words that I choose to believe were “thank you’s” ( I needed an interpreter)..

Then I looked over at him ( the big brother) and my mommy memory kicked in. As a mother of four you KNOW that you cannot leave anyone out . The playing field has to be leveled at all times to keep the peace! So against my better judgement I asked him..”hey buddy , I know you might feel that you are too old for these ..but would you like some”

You see I wanted him to feel included but I also wanted to be very careful not to forget to acknowledge the obvious age difference…after all seven is a big deal..you gotta respect it! Then came the answer that flipped the script!

Little Boy: ” Umm no thanks ..but as a rule I generally don’t like to think of myself as too old to do anything..it limits me! ( then he left me standing there ..staring…)

Me: “well alrighty then…”

40 something lady behind him in line as he and his family walked off: ” Hell yeah little man I’m with you!”

“Children ..with their pure joy,bravery and practical speech can be, if we let them..our greatest teachers.”
-S.Sanders

Did this little person just teach me one of the greatest lessons I needed in this season? Have I been thinking of my self as too old to do things? To try things? To learn things? Was I limiting myself? Was I allowing others to dictate that I might be too old to do things, by taking in their “labeling” of me as them just being sweet or attempting to be relative? Was I subconsciously counting myself out by internally replaying my birth-day instead of relying on what I could birth To-day? Dang little -non wanting a sticker-master splinter-little-so and -so…Thank you sensei! My gosh he was right..I had to go to the breakroom with a coffee and ruminate on this tiny one’s revelation. After I got myself together I decided ..Today that I am no longer too old for stickers! Yes I am Far..far FARRRR from 21! Hell I’m 21 twice then throw some Mo’ ova top-a that! lol! But so what!? I have to know..correction WE have to know that we have so much more to offer those around us. And so much more to learn in order to best serve the world we live in.The bible says where there is life there is hope ! HOPE!

Sing with me ” strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow..blessings all mine and ten thousand beside!” (sorry I had a moment) TEN THOUSAND BESIDE??? I want them..and they come in many forms. and yet we ,quite ceremoniously I might add, count ourselves out because of age??

In the words of the prophet (rap artist ) Future ” I WANT ALL THAT SMOKE!” I want everything that this life has to offer. I have had major set backs that have caused me to question my worth, beauty, talent, value, validity, identity, and position. But I know better now..and I want you to know better as well. There is nothing at this age that you can’t do! NOTHING! Do you want to_____? Fill in the blank and do it!It’s never too late! I am on a new wave of self acceptance and self love and its glorious.

So you see my beauties… I want YOU To feel included.. But I purposely want to be very careful TO acknowledge the obvious age differences..because no matter what they are ,they’re DOPE!…after all if you’ve made it to 30,40,50 and beyond it is a BIG DEAL..and you have to embrace it and respect it…and decide now to live your very best life!

Get your stickers girl!

BESOS,

S,Sanders