July: Healing Humanity

Our 2020 has gut punched seemingly on a weekly basis. I’m proud of how we’ve endured and persevered. WordPress sent me a congratulatory notification two days ago stating that I have been blogging for 5 years now. Wow! I am appreciative for the courage to share my thoughts in such a creative process. Thank you to all who like, follow, share and comment. I value each of you.

This year has had me in such a weird place that writing seems foreign to me. I haven’t been neglectful in writing—there just doesn’t seem to be an easy flow of writing to where readers will be empathetic to comprehend my soul pieces. I hope that makes sense. The political disconnect (truthfully it has always been there), CoVid19 continues, Systemic Racism (woundedly, it remains), Police Murders of Black Lives (#GeorgeFloyd) was not the first and the revolutionary resurgence of Black Movement. #BlackLivesMatter

#Spiritual Wellness…I made major moves this week. I’m doing a lot more focusing on the things I want and requesting those things that I require. I expected some push back on this one request and I didn’t receive it. In a talk w/ a colleague, “Michelle I’m not sure why you expected push back. You are the most sought out therapist here. Look at your location. Every location I visit you’re the only therapist that remains booked. Yeah. No, you’re not going to get any push back.” 

I looked at her strangely. I didn’t get the big head. I became even more humbled. There are times I have no clue where I am in all this. Oftentimes, I miss me. This week was a Monday’s Monday–every day of the week: I listened to a patient apologize yet defend their idea of “All Lives Matter while Black Lives do not matter.” (Actual words: “Black Lives do not matter.”) The more they talked to their Black Female Therapist, the more racist they sounded. I wrote three individuals out of work—mental health has become an issue for the majority; I was threatened “jokingly” while in session and I reported my first case of child abuse to DSS.

 This ‘work” just doesn’t leave me yet it doesn’t become a part of me either. It all causes me to pause and reflect. I move into gratefulness. I think who I am and how I am leads me toward the moments of difficulty, gives me strength and causes me to recognize where my strength comes from. I think if  I had the ability to shake it or become numb I wouldn’t be who I am as a therapist. I believe serving as a therapist has to be one of the most difficult things I had to do…and become. We’re always becoming, evolving; trying to be better than yesterday. This role as therapist is difficult while being purposefully rewarding; so many pieces of me are required. 

In my personal reflection, I notice how we neglect ourselves to make ourselves available for other people. One previous Saturday, I woke up unsure if I was getting sick or if I was just worn out–mentally and physically. I was more apt to believe in the first option, that I was getting sick. In wearing these masks my face has begun to breakout, coupled w/ stress I think it’s natural to assume illness. I needed to rest and reset. I’m going to find my space in this. I’m committed to finding my space in this. I continue to make room everyday as well as set new boundaries. I am selfish with my peace.

I pray that in our moments —those moments that we find difficult to get up that we move towards our wholeness. As we continue to be whole there is no stopping point of movement, of increase. We gain ground. Continue to gain ground. In your grounding: you may have to Reground, Reframe, Reset, Process, Breathe…Love Anyway. 

Intimately Worded,

Michelle

Stay Strong in your Strength

Whatever your strength may be, remain strong in it. Strength isn’t how much you can hold on to without bending. Strength is the core pull that keeps you.  I know life is difficult, rocky, tumultuous, unwavering, different, exciting, unexpected and yet, wonderful. Life is full of change and it molds us into great individuals. Many times life hits us with a gargantuan why! However, we have to be cautious, observant, for remaining in a hurt does so much injustice to you, to others. Losing pieces of your soul constitutes nothing; it betters nothing.

There are so many reasons to go forward. Holding in an act of violence is a violation to all that is you. Soul wounds are God’s jurisdiction yet if you do not have strength enough to voice it, see it for what it is how He is able to heal completely? God loves intimately, without reserve. We have to take part in our own healing.

Your strength is not a mute response. Silence is not a healing mechanism for hurt. Your strength protects you, heals you, and directs you. God is the source of my strength and yes there are times I can forget that He is. But we have to be more than a statistic, be more than what was done to us.

Refuse to drown yourself in self-doubts, negative feedback, and devastating insults. Stop living within your hurts…caused by others. It is hard to maneuver and to be motivated in broken places. We can mend, hold on and continue to try a self-fix but a broken vase still appears cracked, chipped despite the different methods used to put it back together. The damage is there. Self-fixes include silence of a soul hurt, self-hate, low self-esteem, self-abuse, victimization, and ignoring a cycle of debilitating behavior.

Stay strong in your strength. You know what your strengths are, don’t let anyone’s action strip them away. My strong strength: Faith. It is a strength no one can see nor are they capable of creating it nor do they have the ability to diminish it or take it from me.

Any thing you do, whatever keeps you from falling into an emotional abyss of less than is your fallback, your anchor. When the world does not make sense what is your strong strength? I remind myself that I am an awesome Mom, my strong strength. No matter the challenges in life, I have to be better than a hurt, greater than a disappointment. It is my responsibility, my right, a privilege to overcome.

A fragile heart is a strong strength. Keep it. Being hopeful, having expectations keeps you from settling for less than what you deserve. Do not let your thoughts descend into what ifs and why nots for they only produce negativity and intrude upon your imagination. It requires so much to outdo others and even more to be better than the best. You have all you need to be who you are…its right there inside of you. Take the time to enhance all that you have to offer the world.

A hurting stuck requires no growth; it doesn’t move the world.  Remain strong and strengthen yourself for far greater than you imagined.

Always expecting more for you,

A.Michelle!

The Roots of Thanksgiving

roots of thanksgiving
     Since my mother passed three years ago my Thanksgivings are completely different. Our Thanksgivings are so different. I’ve always cooked during this time and I enjoy it. My emotions range from being absolutely grateful yet missing her and my siblings tremendously to wondering what to do. Overwhelming. How do you start new family traditions when the Center, our Nucleus has transitioned?
     Family is everything. ​Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because I get to see all my Family—well Daddy’s side. My aunties, my cousins, my nieces and nephews, new additions to the Family. My family is huge and I love that. I travel from Charlotte to Waxhaw. My oldest lives in Virginia and his girl is from Virginia as well. In October I asked could we spend Thanksgiving with her family and the answer was yes. I wanted a change of scenery, to do something different. A week before Thanksgiving Damien calls to say, “We are coming there.” Me: “So I have to cook?” Damien, sarcastic as usual: “Well, yeah.”
       The morning of: I am up early cooking. Damien is as well. He doesn’t sleep in anymore. He comes in the kitchen, “What’s ready now? What can I eat now?” Me: “Turkey necks and rice but who eats that as breakfast, this early?” Well, Damien does. Later, I ask him to taste test my gumbo, “That’s good. Damn, that’s good.”
      Damien has to return to Virginia Friday so our time together is rushed. Seamlessly, all falls into place without me having to organize anything. We will stop in Waxhaw, two of his buddies from college will join us. Isn’t that awesome, that his college friends want to be with his side of the family? The crazy, loveable, country, ghetto, thuggin, I-love-God-but-will-cuss-and-or-cut-you, we-all-gone-eat (neighbors and strangers too), most Black family in all the world. I am so proud to be a Tillman.
      We drive the long way into Waxhaw. New developments that we haven’t seen. The town is beautiful with Autumn leaves, the colors are magnificent. The countryside, the woods bring back so many memories.  I greet my cousin “B”, who looks nothing like 61 years of age. She hugs and kisses me, “Look at you short and sexy. Keep it up.” My other cousin Sharon is just beaming with a beautiful joy and has been for the past year or so. She will not tell me her secret. She is absolutely gorgeous. Then there is my cousin Vince Edward and we argue-love as usual. He’s older than 50. He says he isn’t. I say he is. Then there is my Auntie, the matriarch, head full of gray and silver……she fusses. I smile. I listen. I tell her my baby is going to have a baby and she smiles so, she laughs as if this is the greatest thing in all the world. I tear up because I see my Daddy in her smile. I remember how important family was/is to him. No matter what went on in my life I know I was loved…am loved.
      My family….my Damien and Darius have girlfriends, long-term girlfriends. There hasn’t been any others brought around for me to meet except these two, JaNee` and Dominque.  I reflect on how their girlfriends are becoming more like daughters than friends. We have dinner at my place, Damien’s circle and my children. All is well. The laughter, the conversation and their camaraderie made my heart smile. The one from Delaware hasn’t ever had nor heard of turkey necks before and condemns us as country bumpkins before he devours them.
      My family….when Dominique bites into my collard greens, closes her eyes and sighs w/ deliciousness. She says, “This is so nasty.” We laugh. She is womb-ing my first grandchild and again my heart smiles. I remember how I would only eat my Momma’s collard greens. She would give me my very own dish to take home.  Domi has the most peculiar taste buds and I know her pregnancy has warped everything. There is still a great debate about the title of my new role. I’m not ready for the title “Grandma” because my mother was Grandma. (Doesn’t feel right, lol.)
I like Grammy— like the Grammy awards. My children roll their eyes at this idea.  Everyone else is called Nana, Mimi, Glam-Ma or Me Maw. I don’t like Glam-Ma either.  Decisions, decisions. (huge smile)
      At one point I try to exit the room to escape the heaviness of the season, missing my parents, our time together and JaNee` says: “Next year at this time you will have the pitter patter of little feet, a baby crawling reaching for you. Expect big things next year. Different, new. Big.”  I smile, realizing that she is learning me. She won’t let me wallow, I step back in the room and tell her, “You are right.” We talk some more.
My roots, my family, my children and now my children’s children.
My Thanksgiving. My Life!
Tearfully and amazingly grateful,
 A. Michelle!
 P.S. Dominique returned the next day for more collard greens.

 

Humility, a lesson by Bru

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I purchased a footstool when my older sons left home. I am exactly 5 feet tall—plenty opportunities for my children to joke me. Oh how Damien and Darius loved to purposely place the salt and pepper shakers or any cooking ingredients on the second shelf out of my reach. Of course, they would laugh and chuckle while I fussed.

My footstool has become a point of argument for Brutus and I. He believes it is his toy, the family “what-not”. I get frustrated because when I need it I can never find it. Our first argument, I told him how it would be and his sarcastic retort was, “Its for everybody.” So I hid it in my closet out of view.

Thursday morning, after everyone is at school, I decide to try a protein smoothie. I am blending blueberries, bananas, walnuts and I want to use just a little bit of honey. I think I see the honey way back in the back of the cabinet. I can’t reach it. I’ll just go get my footstool. It’s not in my closet, nor in the pantry. I search every room in the house and I can’t find it. So now I am mad. No longer do I really want the smoothie. Every time I try to be healthy, do something for me these little people move what is required or  it magically disappears. I’m a routine person. I know where I put my stuff. If I don’t move it, it should be right where I left it. I’m so mad I have already played out the conversation I am going to have with Brutus when he returns home.

He is home. We talk about school. He had a great day. Me: “Bru where is my footstool? I looked for it everywhere.” He runs happily into my bedroom. Bru: “You didn’t look on my side of your bed, did you?” He hands me the footstool. (I’m still mad but hiding it.) Me: “Its my footstool. I couldn’t reach something earlier today and I needed it.” Bru: “The footstool is for everybody. Its not just yours. I keep telling you that.” Me: “It is mine. It is not a toy. Again, it is mine. If you are going to use it just put it back where I can find it.” Bru, big sigh “Momma it is the pattern of life for me to want what you have.” He pauses: “This conversation is over because I don’t know what I am saying right now. I don’t know where it came from.” He has this strange look on his face and jumps off the footstool and begins his homework. I am dumbfounded. He’s eight years old. I remain in the kitchen.

Me: “Bru do you think you are different?”  Bru: “Yes, but only because I tell you I love you every day and all the time. I don’t think other kids do that. Why?” Me: “Just wondering.”

What do you do with that? “….it is the pattern of life for me to want what you have.”  I didn’t take his statement as an envy or jealous emotion.  I am pointing out my selfish wants for the footstool. He is  pointing out the value in having the footstool. “It’s for everybody.” I am the Psych grad; the graduate student. I’m Momma.

My children have this astonishing strength of faith, they always have. I don’t mess with it; I let it be but man they scare the heck outta me. At times I wonder why God has me as their protector, their mother, in this role. I tell Autumn what Bru says, she laughs. I ask Autumn: “How am I suppose to take care of you two, alone?” Autumn, shrugs her shoulders: “You’re doing it. You have been doing it.” She continues her homework. Brutus plays with his legos.  Well, I just send up a silent prayer for strength, wisdom and continue reading my book.

The smoothie wasn’t nasty without honey. I drank it….go me! No sugar. At this moment the footstool is in the pantry. Grateful, I am learning from two of the four greatest gifts God has ever blessed me with.

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Let go of the distractions. At times the lessons are right in front of you.

their Mom,

~A. Michelle

Autumn and Brutus: Summer Vacation 2015

My Two
More than I expected. Summer 2015

This is our first Summer vacation alone, no big brothers or friends to join us. Of course we head to the Beach. They love the water and they swim like fish. While planning, I am little apprehensive…. can I be the “fun” Mom on vacation and still protect them with only me watching. My older ones are off in the world, living and they are happy. How much relaxing will I be able to do and will the retreat I need from “the world” be enough for Self? I have a few things coming up in the next few weeks I need to prepare for mentally.
 
So I make the reservations and the Little Ones’ excitement doesn’t hit until the day we leave. Now there are all these rules….Brutus: “No electrics Momma. No homework. You can’t be busy, it is our time.” Autumn:  “I just want to have fun. I can take my stuff to create, right? What is our itinerary? Do I need to make a list?”
 
Our last few days without “electrics,” just being with them is what life is all about….getting back to the basics, remembering why you do what you do, counting my blessings as I see them jumping the waves….Brutus laughing, screaming and running from Autumn in glee because he tagged her….they are simply beautiful. Their happiness is genuine, unique, theirs. How amazing they are. As a mother, a single mother there are so many times and things you believe you do wrong. Yet,  as I sit here listening to the Ocean with tears running down my face….I love their love. Their resiliency, their capability to forgive and move forward, their ability to stand. So we are good, we are better than ok…..I’ll remain in the journey not just on it. 
 My phone rung a few times, each time Brutus, very protective: “Who is that? Don’t answer it. Our time.” Of course, their Auntie Keyna called. She is my little sister and still treats me like I am the youngest. I gave up Facebook and Instagram. I actually tuned away from the world, the white noise. I am not the type of person that becomes engrossed in Social Media that it becomes my emotional dumpster. I don’t use it as a vehicle to hurt anyone nor as a pedestal to attack or voice my opinion on matters of the heart.…we have to encourage one another. It wasn’t just their laughs I enjoyed. I observed others; other families, children, extended families, couples that were happy, enjoying the present. 
 
Of all the stresses we endure to protect, raise and educate our children…its worth it. I will continue trusting in God . I have to continue being the best in their world because I value who I am and what I am to my Autumn and my Brutus.
 
As a parent, a father, a mother, be coupled or single…if we continue to do what is required of us God will do the rest. God works diligently behind the scenes. Remain in the fight, it is so worth it. 
You are amazing by choice.
~A. Michelle