This Is All Of Us…….

I am almost positive that everyone has either seen or at least heard about the show This Is Us that’s on NBC. Well if you haven’t, it’s definitely worth taking time to watch it. I can guarantee you will not be able to stop watching after you see the first episode. Anyway I am not here to convince you to watch the show. I am here to share how This Is Us is all of us.  The mere title of the show makes me cry. Yes, I know these people are actors, but they suck you in and make you feel like you are on the journey with them. Without going through each episode (and yes I can!), I want to share the theme of the show LOVE.

The love is so real that it’s tangible. It also shows that love is not perfect. Love can be messy and love can be hard.  The love that parents have for their children is like no other. I honestly did not understand that love until my dad told me one day that he would die and go to hell for his children. He meant every word. When daddy didn’t have anything else, he had us. Parents and children do not always get along. Kids and parents are both trying to prove they know what’s best. There is attitude, anger and ego flying all over the place. Not to mention everyone’s individual secret storms that they are going through. Neither parents or children always make the right decision. We are imperfect beings. But when everything is all said and done, your family is going to show up for you. (And if they don’t I will show up for you!)

I think what really makes me ugly cry is the fact that I finally see someone who relates to me about the love and loss of a father. A father that you knew loved you and would do anything to make sure you were okay. That does not mean he was perfect or fearless.  It meant he loved you unconditionally and would literally lay down his life to preserve yours. I am not the same person I was before my father passed away. Almost 12 years later, I still cry daily and try to put one foot in front of the other wishing I could hear him yell “LANDA! one more time”. So I hold on to my memories and my love because just in case anyone ever forgets who Mike Cobb was, I will gladly remind them. I have a beautiful granddaughter and a handsome nephew who will know who their Paw Paw Mike was and how much he was loved and admired.

You see this is all of us. None of us have the perfect family or circumstances, but somehow we will come together and be okay. We all have troubles, secrets, fights and fall outs, but at the end we all have each other. No matter what race or background you come from, we all can relate on some level. This why I think so many people watch this show and ugly cry right along with me.  Let’s cultivate and spread love as much as we can. For any fellow parents reading this, my wish for you is that your children love you as much as I love my parents. For all my fellow children, my prayer for you is that you love and appreciate your parents because they will not always be here.

Now  I am going to stop because my puppy doesn’t know why I am crying and I need to wipe the tears from my keyboard.

True Love Doesn’t Notice

Hello everyone, oh how I have missed all of my blog friends. I hope you all are doing well.  HS had me in a hostage situation and was not willing to negotiate. I was able to compromise with it  eventually. While it is still here, my pain level decreased some. Now I am able to get back to my blog and actually leave the house. I wanted to share something a close friend of mine shared with me when I first met her about 16 years ago. The reason I want to share this is because it has come up again recently in someone else’s life.

We all tend to have these imperfections when we look in the mirror that we feel would make the world of difference if we could change it. Some of want fuller lips, thinner lips, higher cheek bones, lose weight, gain weight or just throw the whole person away and get a new body. Something that I used to struggle with when I looked into the mirror was my smile. Not too many people are aware, but once upon a time I had significant issues with my teeth. I took a lot of iron growing up and coupled with other issues, my teeth were discolored. I can remember putting my hand over my mouth when I laughed or trying not to laugh at all. Looking back on my old photos, I never smiled. I was reluctant to meet new people because I thought they would stare and not talk to me. My defense mechanism became my mantra, ” I don’t like people and I don’t need new friends.”  Now mind you, no one ever said anything or asked my about my teeth, but I thought that was because they did not want to embarrass me. I met my dear friend Machelle one day after I had come from the dentist. Of course I was smiling and posing and she said nothing. I was like “WTH?” So finally after about an hour of talking to her, I finally asked her if she liked my teeth. Machelle said. ” what about them?” I was literally speechless. My reply to her was , ” I know you see they look different.” She still didn’t have a clue as to what I was talking about. It took me a minute, but I realized she was telling her truth. Machelle told me when you truly love someone, you never notice things like that because you are too busy loving the whole person. As tears rolled down my face, I couldn’t do anything but hug her.

Things we think are imperfect don’t matter to the right people in your life. If you find yourself being one of those people that point out other people’s imperfections, I hope you realize that you are pointing out what’s wrong with them to keep anyone from noticing what’s wrong with you. SO STOP IT!

 

 

If Or Even If? What Are Your Conditions?

Love is a powerful word. I often times wonder when some people say it, if they are aware of what it really means? When I think about love, I think about my family and  friends who mean the world to me. The older I get, the more I realize how important it is show and tell the people in your life you love them because things can change at the blink of an eye. The chance may pass never to return again. Before I had my son, I would often hear my mother, grandmothers and aunts say there is no love like a mother’s love. I didn’t know what the big deal was. My thinking was hey they are supposed to love their kids because they had them.  It was a given. Right?  The early morning when I had Christopher (on April Fool’s Day mind you!) my heart and my mind  went through a complete transformation. I actually fell in love with him the moment I laid eyes on him. I knew then I loved him more than anything in the world and I would do anything to protect him. I wanted the best for him and I would do anything to make sure he had everything he needed and some of what he wanted.

Fast forward 24 years he is now a man, but he will always be my little boy. When I talk to my son Christopher, I make sure I tell him I love him before we hang up. Sometimes I get a clear I love you and other times I get a low mumble that I assume is a hurried I love you.  When I see a sad Tide commercial or see an old baby picture, I text him to say I love you son more than you can ever know. He will say “I love you too mom” or “yes mom I know you love me.” Which makes me cry even more.  Before Christopher went to his duty station in Alaska, we spent some quality time together. We laughed and cried. We shared memories of daddy and how he has influenced our lives.

The main thing I wanted to make sure he knew then and always know is that I love him unconditionally. There is nothing in this world that can separate the love I have for him. I told him I have always loved him even when he did not always do things the way I would have. I told him at the beginning and end of the day, he will always be my son and I love him. Through all of the arguments and disagreements I still loved him. As life goes on, I am sure we will have more arguments and disagreements and at the end of it all, I will be there to love him.

There are so many people in this world who are only loved based on conditions.  There are so many people who cannot tell those they love or that love them that they are gay,  have a different religious belief or even something as simple as they don’t want to go to college because of the fear of being disowned. It is not our job to judge, it is our job to love UNCONDITIONALLY. It is important to live in your truth no matter what it is. If that means you love with conditions, then say ” I love you if…” If you love unconditionally say “I love you even if…”  You decide on the way you love and how you want to be loved.

Life Lessons Are Everywhere!

4 days into 2018 and lessons are literally appearing from the most simple things.  When I got up on the first morning of the new year, I was very excited. I found myself thanking God for allowing me to make it yet another year. I was and continue to be excited about my journey I am yet to complete. Any day above ground means He is not done with me and I still have a purpose here on this earth. I know life gets hard sometimes and the feeling of defeat may find its way into our mind, but we have to keep going.

I would like to share some lessons I have already learned this year with the help of perspective (and Gambino):

  1. Trust- Gambino was crying in his crate at night even though he did not have to go outside. I finally figured out he didn’t want to sleep in the crate. I was so scared to let him stay out all night, but I would never know how he would be outside of the crate unless I trusted him at least once.  I put one of his beds at the foot of my bed before I went to bed and when I got up the next morning, there he was curled up in a ball waiting on me to awake. I had to take the first step and trust him. Sometimes we have to step out on faith and trust everything will work out for the better.
  2. Hidden In Plain Sight- Since Gambino was out of the crate, I knew he had to use the restroom and I needed to rush him out to the grass. I was running around looking for this thin black leash and I could not find it. I looked in its usual spot and it was not there. I asked him where it was and he wouldn’t tell me so I finally had to use the back up leash. As soon as I came back in from walking him, I sat on my couch to warm up. As I pulled my black comforter over my feet, the thin black leash dropped to the floor. There it was hiding in plain sight. It was not lost, it was where I left it.  Panic should not be our go to emotion when we think something is lost.  It’s more likely than not, hiding in plain sight.
  3. It Has Always Been In Us- For those of you who know me personally, you know I don’t make new years resolutions. I stopped making those several years ago when I finally realized it was a trap. When the clock strikes 12 and the new year arrives, it is a new day. The day before was once a new day as was the day before that. A clock is just a clock, the real change has to be in your mind. When you make your mind up to begin something, it is only at that time change will take place.

Join me and look for life lessons in the most simple of things. Open your mind and change your prospective towards things. God does not always make a huge production when He teaches us, sometimes He uses the smallest things we tend to overlook.

 

There Is A Point To The Pain….

I read something funny online the other day about having everything going the way you planned. It read “each time I have all of my ducks in a row, one of them waddles off.”  I laughed and was testifying to the joke until I read one that accurately described me at the time, “I don’t have any ducks. I don’t have a row. I have squirrels and they are all drunk.”  Just when I think I have everything organized and flowing smoothly, life says “hold my beer!”

It can feel like you are sinking in quicksand when problems arise out of nowhere. Unfortunately we can’t plan for everything. We don’t know when our children are going to get sick, when our car is going to break down, when our job is downsizing, when we get sick or even when we are going to have a stressful day. It seems like when you fix one thing, another one arises. About 5 days before Christmas, I ended up having a really bad flare up. It was so bad I looked on Web MD (never do this when you are sick, you will end up feeling like you only have 24 hours to live!) and I had diagnosed myself with cellulitis or shingles.  I could not take anymore pain, so I ended up going to the doctor. Turns out I had a bad reaction to some medication I was taking for HS that caused the breakout and flare up. This could not have happened at a more inopportune time because it was only a few days before Christmas and I still needed to work. On top of being sick, I was stressed out about being sick. Finally, I had to come to terms that I had no control over what was going on. I was only able to control my response to it.

As I reflect on the days I was sick, I have been trying to find the point of it all. Sometimes, it’s hard to find the point through the pain. I believe in God and I have faith that whatever I go through, He will make sure it ends up working out for my good. The point in my pain for this flare up is about to turn into something wonderful for me and other HS sufferers.  I made flyers about 2 months ago to start a group for individuals with chronic illnesses, even though I had a venue and support lined up, I never got around to giving them to my physician to give to other HS patients as a resource. Now that I have to see my physician for additional follow-up,  this is the time to give her the flyers and start working on my HS groups. This flare up has also ignited a fire in me to provide more awareness to HS so other people can understand what it is and how it affects those of us who suffer from it.

The point in your pain can be hard to see sometimes, but it is there. Maybe God sees you are getting too comfortable in a position and makes it uncomfortable so you are forced to do something different. Just maybe the relationship did not work out with that person because he or she was not the right person and you had to free yourself for who you deserve. Maybe when you get sick, it is then you see how strong you are.  Everything happens for a reason. We are unable to control the variables, but we can control our response to it.

 Romans 8:28
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God”

 

Take Off Your Veil, So They Can See Your Cracks….

How many of us wear an invisible veil each day? So many of us are afraid to show others how fragile or vulnerable we are from day to day. We have to keep this stoic facade in fear of being judged in some way or another.  I will be the first person to raise my hand, especially with the last few days I have had with HS. Honestly, it feels like HS has had me in the a chokehold. I have always took pride in myself for being an open book, what you see is what you get. This belief took a shift when Hidradenitis Supprotiva has tried to take over my life. Of course my family, closest friends and fellow comrades who have HS understand, but what about everyone else? What about the people I meet when I am at the bookstore? What about the people I see as I am walking Gambino? What about the people I work with? What if they saw my “cracks”?

In one of my previous posts, I wrote about one of my cysts I called Bertha because she was a beast. I am glad to say, she finally burst. Just as I was about to get ready to do my happy dance, HS said “hold my beer!” She did not leave without leaving her mark on me to let me know she came, she saw and she attempted to conquer. There is a painful hole where she used to be. To keep the hole company, I am having not only new cysts, but everything is flared up. I honestly think all of this was triggered by stress. The not so funny thing is I was stressed about Bertha and not being able to walk. HS is a constant stress circle.  As I limped into my physician’s office this morning, I passed a young lady who stopped me to tell me she really liked my hair. I smiled at her and with what little energy I had said “thank you.”  I continued to limp into the office, I couldn’t help but to think what if she knew it took me 2 hours to shower and get dressed? ( I hope I remembered to put on deodorant) What if she knew each step I am trying to take is shooting severe pains all over my body?  What if she knew about all of the cysts and flares that were having their own party on and inside of my body?  What if she actually saw what HS looked like?

After spending all day in severe pain, I have had time to think about my cracks. I really did not have a choice because it hurts to sit and it hurts to stand. I was forced to lift my veil and be honest about how I really felt. Most of the time I am happy go lucky, but not everyday. I hurt. I cry. I have pity parties. I get scared. I need help.  We don’t take off our veil because we don’t want others to see our truths.  If something happens and our truths are seen by others, they sometimes blame us for being so stoic and not saying anything about it. Some may even blame you for being truthful because it causes them to reflect on their lives and their truths.  We all know, life is short. Spend the rest of your days walking in your truth.  If your veil just so happens to blow off  or if you decide to take it off,  hold your head up high and make no apologies for being human.

“There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”
― Leonard Cohen

Celebrate The Small Things

As the year is about to close, I am hearing more and more  people making New Year’s resolutions. I have never really been good at making or keeping those promises. I remember one year I resolved to stop saying bad words. I made the resolution at midnight and I did well until I got out of  bed. Then there was the year I resolved to cook everyday and not eat out. I honestly tried, but I ended up wasting so much food because I have not yet mastered how to cook for one person. I don’t like leftovers and I don’t like messing up my kitchen.

After those failed attempts I decided to take the pressure off  of myself and resolve not to make anymore resolutions. Instead, I decided I would do my best each day and try new things even if I have to do it afraid. I look back on the year and it has definitely been full of mountains and valleys,  but in the midst of it all some small things that I accomplished are turning into wonderful beginnings of much larger things. So many of us overlook the small things because they are not often flashy or big public displays, but they matter too.

Here are some of the things I celebrated this year by dancing when no one was watching or by jumping up and down on my bed:

  • Learned how to use an IPad even though I am a dedicated android user
  • Went an entire week with a pain level of 5 instead of 10
  • Upgraded my car on a rainy day
  • Started writing my story for my book
  • Danced with my granddaughter
  • Told someone no and did not feel the need to explain
  • Started saying yes more than no
  • Started my LLC
  • Investing in marketing my business
  • Wore a tank top with the bandages under my arm

Celebrate getting dinner on the table before 10 o’clock. Celebrate not being stuck in traffic. Give yourself a pat on the back for choosing a salad over a cheeseburger or for choosing a cheeseburger over a salad.  There is no such thing as something being too small to celebrate. We have to celebrate even the smallest of things while we are on our journey through life.  It’s about the journey and not the destination.

 

“From small beginnings come great things.”

 

All Things Considered…..

Life is messy, people are irrational and nothing is perfect. All things considered, I am still here. Turning 41 today has been great and has been a time of reflection. When I turned 40, I had a sudden sense of dread because my “list” was not done. I had a list of “should have dones” I felt were mandatory to have completed before my birthday. Needless to say I didn’t finish it. What was I going to do? I wanted to have these things checked off and done. I felt like this list equated success and since it was incomplete I was somehow unsuccessful.  After sitting in the feeling of dread for a while, I finally decided what I was going to do. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! I decided to live instead. Don’t misunderstand me, I am an organized person who likes to plan but I no longer wanted to equate success or happiness with things or a list. I gave myself permission to not be so rigid, but instead take life as it comes. By the grace of God, hard work and a great support system, I have overcome many obstacles in life. I have and will continue to help people along the way because I feel like that is the reason we are here. That is success.

I leave you with this short poem I wrote in honor of turning 41 today. I am excited about what the next year has to bring. I know there will be wrong turns, detours, delays and maybe even some stop signs. Life is a journey and I am constantly learning and growing. I will survive it and be a better person for it.

 Okay

 I didn’t get the promotion, but I still have JOBS, I am okay.

I didn’t get the house I thought I wanted at the time, but I have a fabulous place and a roof over my head, I am okay.

I didn’t get the date I thought I was not going to be able to survive without, I am okay.

I have defeated some Goliath’s this year that I never thought I could face, I am okay.

Thank you God for not giving me what I thought I wanted, but what I needed instead. I am more than okay…. I am truly blessed.

 

 

 

 

Life Beyond The Snapshots….

I remember when I was in college and I was asked to write a paper in my Philosophy class on a picture or painting that was important to us.  I chose the oil painting of my father. He was in his colorful dashiki while he was in the Navy. My father looked invincible in that painting. He looked so strong, confident and fearless in that exact moment. The painting is hanging in my home office and I have the pleasure of looking at it on a daily basis. I find myself smiling with an overwhelming sense of pride for my father.  On the days I can manage to look at it without crying, I can’t help but wonder what was really going on in his life at that time. He was young, handsome and in the Navy. What could he possibly have to worry about right? Wrong! He was away from home, he missed his family and the Navy was not all glitz and glamour. He was human and he never claimed to have the perfect life. I often times wish I would have discussed this painting with him before he passed away. Unfortunately I did not know it existed until after he was gone.

I really get enjoyment out of looking at photos. I stare at them and wonder what the person was going through at that time in their life or what they were thinking at the exact moment the photo was taken. As I reflect on some of the  pictures I have taken throughout the years, I laugh because although I may have looked as if I had it all together, it was a completely different story before and after it was taken.  I am looking at a picture my friends and I took while we were in graduate school. We were at Pappadeux’s laughing and smiling as if we did not have a care in the world. Quite the contrary, life was coming at me from all directions. There were days I did not know how I was going to finish all the tasks I had to get done.  During this time in my life, I had a lot going on. I was working full time while attending graduate school full time. It was hard to balance home, work and graduate school. I was feeling home sick because my father was alive during that time and I missed him so much. I called home daily just to hear his voice.  I was even dealing with HS, but I did not have a diagnosis at that time. I had these cysts that would appear out of nowhere.  I was in pain daily. I was not able to share it with anyone because I did not think they would understand.  You could not tell any of these things just by looking at my snapshot.

With the popularity of social media, it is easy for people to get caught up in envy when it comes to other people. When you look at Facebook , Instagram or any other media  platform, you see people always on vacation, going out with friends or shopping. I have heard people say how it makes their lives look boring and they find themselves depressed after being on social media. The pictures we see are but a snapshot of their lives. Rarely do we get to see the crying children, overdue bills, break-ups or the other imperfect moments we have daily.  Life was going on before the snapshot and will continue after it as well. All we do is capture moments in time.  Each and every one of us have a different journey. It is important we follow our own journey and not envy or compare our lives to someone else’s snapshot.

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I Know…..

I know are two simple words that can take various tones when used. When parents ask their kids to remember to clean their room or finish their homework, kids typically say “I know!” As adults when we hear something we think we already know, we tend to interrupt the speaker by abruptly shouting   “I know!”  I know can also be used as a positive confirmation.  I was talking to my nephew Jay yesterday and I told him I loved him. Jay said “TT I know.” I could not stop smiling. My heart was filled with joy and I responded with a “thank you sweetheart.” It actually made me stop and think about how many people actually know they are loved.

For someone to know that you love them is so important. There are people that use the word very loosely and sometimes it’s hard to take them seriously. It is important to stop and think about who you tell and how you show people you love them. Do you only say the word without action or do you show the person the best way you know how. Not only do I tell my nephew whenever I speak to him I love him, but I also call him to check on him. We text each other just to say hi. I let him know he can come and talk to me about anything free of judgement.  When I go back home to visit, I make sure I spend as much time with him as I possibly can.  Here are some other ways you can put your love into action for your family and friends so they know you care.

  • Encourage their dreams
  • Be physically and mentally there as much as possible
  • Really listen to them
  • Write a letter or send a text
  • Set clear boundaries
  • Celebrate a recent success
  • Share and make good memories together