Culinary Skills & Dilemmas

When I have no solace, a lot to think over and no one to share my thoughts with I cook. I love the art and the science in preparing a meal. I love the creativity it takes to create a new recipe…the imagination of different flavors and spices. Trying to measure and enhance one product  to mesh with another. I enjoy the soothing methods slicing vegetables brings. I love the colors of bell peppers, the promise of just enough heat of habanero peppers and I love the earthiness of mushrooms. Today I am preparing a new dish, a signature recipe in every aspect: Salmon Braise, perhaps. I like that. As I am cutting, and preparing all ingredients to go into the crock pot I think, I pray. I listen for confirmation, affirmation of my thinking process. Oh how I miss the days of having someone listening to me, hearing my heart without cutting me off, nor interrupting me nor misconstruing my words. I continue cutting. This meal is supposed to be for me, the Little Ones do not care too much for mushrooms and okra. I think I have prepared enough for the neighborhood.

My dilemmas: Church & Internship and other stuff

My length of unemployment boggles my mind. It still hurts. I feel so unbalanced and insecure. I have worked since I was 15 years old. Its wonderful being available to the children, driving them to school and helping with homework. It is completely alien to me not being able to provide from my own work. I do not know how to be…but I am learning. I am learning that this phase of my life is so much bigger than not having a 9 to 5 or an office job.

Church vs my prayer life! Someone told me that the length of my unemployment might have a lot to do with my prayer life. (I have to bite my tongue a lot!) This statement pissed me off until I realized my relationship with God is intimate and no one gets to decide if I am close to Him or not based upon my employment status. (The preparation of cooking gives me time to evaluate and rid myself of others’ toxic conversation.) My spiritual growth is becoming greater but my spiritual connect with fellow believers has become stagnant. This concerns me. I believe in going to Church although I do not believe in the strictness and mandatory that religiosity pushes.

Teaching this Identity Workshop series will be a huge undertaking for me. I am in awe of how I got to this point in my life. This concept is not mine alone. If it were up to me, I would be behind the scenes somewhere. I consider myself more of a support person not a leader. I think I help leaders be better. I am a bossy supporter! 🙂

Internship! Internship! Both placements are awesome and could take my counseling career to great horizons. What is amazing to me is that internships are coming left and right but no job offers. Confuses me so; boggles my mind. You would think God’s priority would be opening doors of job opportunities first.

This Soul reveal has been on my heart for awhile: I attended several training classes this past week. My counseling journey can be quite heavy. Confidentiality is a huge piece of counseling, the heart of it. This journey is going to be more difficult than I thought and what I presumed. One class educated us on the effects of child sexual abuse, the tragedy of what happens to the victim from onset to the cycles of their adulthood. Heart wrenching. The documentary included a 60-year-old beautiful woman; she had the bluest eyes and the whitest hair. (I still see her face.)  One particular night she described how terrified she was at a young age. Her father was in her room and they both heard her mother’s footsteps approaching. Her father stopped. She held her breathe knowing that it would all stop now…then the return of exact devastation as they heard her mother’s footsteps retreat upstairs. She knew her mother would not save her. He knew that they all knew, He would not stop. She stated he abused her from the age of 2 to 17. Oh how I felt her terror. I wanted to protect her then and at present. She is 60 years old and the fear that came over her as she told her story saddens me deeply.  It is a heavy but necessary training course. The permission of hurt that mother allowed, it stops my heart. We can prevent child abuse. Although my heart ached for all their stories and my soul is tattered, I will continue to volunteer as a Guardian ad Litem. I do not see myself removing this type of servitude from my journey.

Do your best to stop taking ownership of the hurt people cause you. It is not your fault. I believe we all have good hearts and the Life stuff happens. However, taking ownership of what others intentionally do to us manifests into cancerous emotional scars. It multiplies. Yes, get to the root, do the necessary work to heal but stop blaming yourself. Getting hurt is not a responsibility, stop owning it.

What I gained this past week, the good things, the revelations are: the beauty in pushing forward, the hope in seeing tomorrow and the requirement necessary to focus on the love received. You will make it. Our humanness, that spiritual part of us promises that we will overcome. Sometimes the unintentional hurt pulls our heartstrings the worse. Allow God to work His way… you have to release it, all of it.  It is not your fault.  Tomorrows are worth the fight. {Psalms 91:1}

Me intimately worded,

A.Michelle

Pick your battles…Parenting Autumn

IMG_217943346666549    You have the ability to choose. I think often times we lose focus on the power of simplicity because if our lives are not forced focus, in crisis mode, hectic hellish or nonstop un-normal we fight to right our ways our way. Discern what matters God has placed within your life to deal with. Remember anything He gives us He also equips us. There are difficulties we must face, know that we do not face them alone. So often, we place burdens on ourselves that are His and we blame Him for the most. We carry that ice chip on our shoulders, in our words and we embed it in our hearts. God loves and He disciplines those He loves. He is not going to allow us to outdo Him. Honestly, there is no way we can.

My Autumn is 13 years old, an awesome daughter. She is my only daughter. #motherhood As her mother, I think I mess up a lot. I think I have to watch her more so because I fear for her. I think she could have had a mother that has more expertise in all things. I think she could have had a better mother—a mother who knows how to raise daughters. (I have three sons.) I do not allow her any social media time, her friends are few and she starts high school next year. Oh, and her figure, her shape is coming in already (just like mine at her age) and she is a beauty and so smart. Therefore, I am frightened in so many different areas of her life because I am her mother. Am I too stifling? Do I suffocate her? Am I making her feel she is loved and loving? How is her self-esteem? What are boys saying to her in that school? What are men saying to her? Then again, what are girls saying to her? Do we talk enough? Am I doing right by her? Has my singleness all these years braced her or harmed her for her future relationships? Big sigh.

When I get this way, which is not often but often enough. I immediately go into a tailspin of fear after hearing about the 12-year-old girl who committed suicide on FB. This cuts my heart up in so many ways. My soul is silenced when my friend tells me. My heart aches. She sends me the link of the little girls’ suicide. I refuse to open it up.

At times when I worry and Autumn is home, I run in her room and jump in her bed with her. I snuggle up with her while she reads her book. I make her take out her ear buds and we talk. Earlier this week, she complains but is laughing, “Momma, why?! It is hot. Stop.” She says. I smile and kiss her cheek and say, “Well, I’m not. My feet are cold. Warm me up” Her: “Your feet are always cold.” Me: “Let me search your phone to see what I can see. What’s your code?” She tells me and goes back to reading her book. While perusing through her phone, I find this text: Her and her friend are discussing their hair issues:

India (is a great friend to her and has long straight hair): “Use the ECO gel on your hair.” Autumn: “I did and my hair came out so short. I did not like it. My Mom used it and her hair looked great! But she used oil on hers and I did not. I am going to use oil and the ECO gel tonight.” My eyes water, I turn to her and smile, “You don’t ever tell me my hair looks great. You just say good or act like I am getting on your nerves. You love me!” Autumn, laughs so.

She has an awesome laugh too. Her natural hairstyle, her choice since she was 9 years old. Our hair textures are different but she has embraced her hair with such creativity and uniqueness it baffles me. Her self-strength is so powerful. What an amazing mirror I have. {An excerpt from one of my original poems: “I see Autumn leaves in the coldest of winter.”~M.} She is rooted well. I am so humbled by God’s love for me.

Therefore, I am going to push aside the “what if” and “if I just had” and also the “but God” and pick my battles, the winnable ones— the God has equipped me battles. I love being her mother more than the fear. Parenting costs so much yet the rewards are priceless and non-refundable. It is impossible to do everything right, I know that but the easiest part is when we do our best for them. We do not argue about social media. It is just an “is” in my home. We have discussed the possibility of Snap chat when she turns 14. So, I am on a journey to learn all I can about that before her next birthday in order to give the right answer to her, yes or no with an explanation of my choice.

I grieve for our children. I love our children; it truly takes a village. Suicide is preventable. Autumn and I discuss the neglected and abused children, teens, her peer group. I smile because her anger, her fight is just as strong as mine. Children, Adolescents have my heart they always will. We all are accountable to all we are connected. Please see the hope in that statement, there is no condemnation nor judgment. None, zilch. We must find ways that show our children they are loved without sacrificing our moral upbringing, without them suffering the residuals of this mean, mean world.

I think if we take a firm and mindful stance to focus on the winnable– our aspirations, hopes and dreams we have no recourse but to line up with what God has purposed for our lives. #TrustHim In all we do there has to be a peace that remains. I am learning this scripture holds so much direction and guiding, Philippians 4:6-8:”Do not be anxious about anything but in everything…”

Discern and pick your battles in every aspect of your life. God has planned for you to win the war. Growing up I did not like kids, did not want to be a mother. If I married, I wanted one child that was it. I remember telling my father I was never going to marry. He laughed along with giving awesome advice. (I will share that conversation later.)  God laughed too! I have four children, married once and divorced. I have been single longer than I was married. I am a grandmother! I am a child advocate, graduate student of Counseling and I teach Sunday School. Oh, God laughed big!! Remain focused on where He has you. Be God-confident!

My heart is all over the place… I hope this read makes sense. It all circles back.

My heart–Intimately worded,

A. Michelle!

 

 

Geeked!!

What God wants…

Happy 2017! I have committed to living a better life…no resolutions. Great things happening this morning, Wednesday, January 4 has led to a shift in perspective. Although I am able to encourage others (not just shoot off cliches) I find myself in the “dumps” quite often.

Early morning I receive a text requesting that I speak at a Book Club event. I smiled and agreed. My friend, requested and suggested the topic to speak on: the “work” needed in the “Sisterhood” era. Earlier this week I tweeted my thoughts on Self-care:

Click on link: https://www.instagram.com/p/BOvSoQCjiE0/?taken-by=nit_one

I smile at her suggestion, our communication and reflect. During my graduate interview in 2014, I was asked by the panel, “What population do you think you will have trouble serving?” Me, “To be honest, its not a matter of trouble. Its a fear. I fear working with Black Women and that makes me feel guilty. They are a population I feel I cannot reach. There is so much hurt there. I can’t understand it and it bothers me so.” Dr. S, “Than there is where you are most needed. Your greatest fear is entry point to your greatest triumph.”  I side-eyed her, she is African-American. I thought to myself, pssh if I am accepted I am not dealing with anyone I do not have to. My plan was to maintain a B average and avoid the difficult. God has other plans. Accepted in, A average and I did not avoid any difficulties…I worked. I studied. I cried. I counseled.

As my day progresses, I review assignments for my next class: Substance Abuse Counseling. I am excited that we have the previous professor we had in our Crisis Counseling course. She is awesome! My final course, Gender Counseling is taught by another professor I adore so my nervousness in achieving all A’s is swept away. I am able to do the work. I have learned as a grad student that apprehension about a course has a lot to do with learning the professor and the way they teach. Once the final two courses are completed, I begin my practicum and internship in May. Finding and researching the correct placement for my counseling career is exciting, slightly overwhelming. I emailed two more resumes and requested contact information for spots in Domestic Violence and Sex Trafficking of minors. I will be a practicing student counselor. Oh my!

One of the assignments in the Substance Abuse course is to abstain from one certain thing and journal our progress for the next 8 weeks. I have chosen to abstain from sugar. I have practiced the Daniel’s fast several times and although it takes great discipline, I enjoy it. The healthy results gained were fast, effective and practical. I am intrigued with how I will progress in abstaining from sugar as a project assignment. Especially, after I was a dessert pig over the Holidays.

I am looking forward to traveling and attending counseling workshops with my cohort. We get to meet one classmate’s mother when she visits. We have been pressing through together for three years; meeting mothers are a treasure. (I love the Elders)

The Little Ones return to their regular schedule of school and homework. They were not excited this morning yet this made me smile too. Their ways, their reactions I am learning to devour every chance I get. Time is so swift. Brutus’, “two more minutes” are the most endearing because he mumbles it and pulls me in for a hug. Autumn’s, morning “mm-hmm” and conversations on the drive to school remind me so much of myself. She said, “I already know they are going to be asking me for my pencils. I am going to say no. These pencils are my fav, the eraser just does not stick straight up you know. They twist up. You know I bought three packs. (Big sigh, smiling). It makes me feel better knowing I have them and I will not run out. Its 9:05, not late and not too early. Bye, Mother.”  My teen, she is a stickler for wanting things a certain way. (We cannot just write with any kind of pencil. She buys pencils!!! Lol) #motherhoodbliss

The career hunt is still a career hunt. I am maintaining a consistent belief that God is my provider. After this stint of unemployment, something wonderful will come. #bigHope #BigGod

Just a quick blog message, I am going to enjoy 2017 moment by moment. You do the same! Nothing is greater than walking the path God leads us on, for there; there He has equipped us for it all. Dig deep. Go further. Faithfully pray and do good works. #necessary work

God’s grace,

Michelle, Counseling Graduate

An Anchors’ Way…

anchor

Two of my favorite men have passed this year, in January and May. We move about life so fast; we keep so busy, reflection is good for the soul.  I saw them weekly at Church, and each time I was always greeted with the most generous smile and great hugs. Old Men, my Elders….67 years old and 90 years old. Musician. Deacon. Wonderful lives. Great men of character. Always laughing, always encouraging. Loved life and phenomenally dealt with whatever came their way. Men of Standard. I think of my daddy, miss him.

I miss them too. Sunday mornings are definitely different. Despite how difficult transitioning may be for us, the point of living is to live loving. Cherish each other. Family is much more than blood, it involves an understanding of how deep our connections can flow. On this Sunday, I am more caring rather than despondent. I purposely seek out the faces of their wives, their children and make sure I speak and hug them. I send text messages whenever they cross my mind. Funny, I really cannot imagine spending a lifetime with a person. I believe it to be a rarity not an impossible. They made it look easy.

This world is so different from what I know and it is challenging to see so much difference when my childhood, my growing up, my foundation is completely different. They were my anchors. They consistently reminded me to, “Hold it in the road,” “pray,” “have faith,” or “its ugly out there keep God in here” (pointing to my heart.) So yes, I will miss my Sunday laughs, my Sunday Family, my extension of home. Without the storms, there would be no need to anchor. Let others love on you.

Be ever expectant,

Michelle