April 1, 1993

Today is a special day for me. Yes, I know it’s April Fool’s Day, but it is also my son’s birthday. For some reason Chris turning 26 today has made me feel proud, happy and thankful. Whenever I tell the faithful story of giving birth to him at the tender age of 16, I always start with telling people I had Chris before it was acceptable to be a teen mom. Not only did I or anyone else know I was pregnant (I was skinny and continued to have my period), but I gave birth at home. I’ll save the reaction stories for another time. What I can tell you is that I was a child that had given birth to a child and I was terrified! Chris was so tiny and premature that I was not even able to take pictures of him until 27 days after he was born. Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama was his home for the next several months.

As I sit here and think back about his life up until this point, I smile and I thank God. Even for the times that he was not making the best decisions or doing the right thing. All of that was part of his journey that makes him the man I see before me today.  He is handsome, strong, smart, kind and has a heart of gold. Best of all, he knows that he is loved.  When I think about how I wish my daddy was here to witness Chris on his journey, I have to remind myself that his spirit is with us and continues to live on through us.  I know he is just as proud as I am.

Words cannot express how much I love my son. He has been my motivation for 26 years. We have not always agreed on everything, but one thing I always hold on to, nothing will ever separate me from the love I have for him. I want to end this mom brag post with one of my favorite verses in Adele’s Sweetest Devotion song. The song she wrote about her son.

I wasn’t ready then, I’m ready now
I’m heading straight for you
You will only be eternally
The one that I belong to

 

Going Through It, To Get Over It!

Hello to all of my favorite readers out there. Thank you for stopping by. I am so happy you are here! I hope you are feeling good today. Guess what? I am!  No, doctors have not found a cure for HS this month. I know like everything else, this is temporary, but I am going to ride this good feeling out until the motor drops on the ground and the wheels fall off.

I have been having really vivid dreams lately about my daddy and all of my grandmothers’. I didn’t think anything of it until it started to happen each and every night. As some of you know, they are all deceased. The dreams had to mean something. I began to write down what I remembered immediately after I woke up. I discovered each and every night, Mudea, Momma Dosie, Daddy, Momma Mae and Momma Ola were all rooting for me. In each dream, each interaction they were telling me to keep going. I hear it now so clearly, “Landa don’t stop, don’t give up, I am here.” I woke up with tears in my eyes and smile on my face. I know they all are here watching over me. You see, I never told anyone about my last pain cycle with my HS but my mom. Only she knew how bad I felt and how down I was. My mom said those same words to me. It was at that moment, I told my mom I had to go and I would call her back the next day. I started to focus on my family and friends that are always rooting for me. I said okay and little by little, step by step, I began to feel stronger than I was before.

I had literally already talked myself out of going to see Iyanla Vanzant at the Fox Theatre. Maybe someone else will buy my ticket, I thought. Besides, it was a fabulous seat. The thought of having to change out of my pajamas and getting dressed up was too much for me to think about. Then there was traffic. I would have to leave at 5:30 and who in their right mind would get into traffic at that time? Not to mention, I would be exhausted from working all day. It was just too damn much! Just as I was about to post my ticket for sale online, I sat down and was still. I sat still, took a breath and began to laugh. Who said I had to get dressed up? I can go as myself. Iyanla said she focused on healing and not image. So I removed that self placed pressure I created and decided whatever I put on I would be fabulous. You know why? Because I am fabulous. Why was I worried about traffic? I had not been in my car all day and I am sure it was nothing me and Ludacris could not handle with a little “Move B***** Get Out Tha Way!” Step by step, little by little, I got dressed and out the door I went.

The Fox is a beautiful theatre and there were so many beautiful people there. The funny thing is I met so many people that were there alone, but we ended up leaving together as sisters. When Iyanla hit the stage, the crowd went wild.  Okay, full disclosure, I wanted to run up on stage and steal a hug. I decided against that because I did not want to go to jail and end up on YouTube. The show was so powerful you could feel the energy, connections and people getting stronger. You had to be there to experience it.  Some things she touched on that really spoke to me were:

  • Sometimes we have to ask God to soften our heart. Forgiveness is rough!
  • When we use the word fear, it’s not that at all. It’s not being in control of the outcome.
  • Never underestimate the ruthlessness of the ego.
  • Be mindful of the things you think about and what you place your focus on.
  • Be careful what you tell yourself about yourself.
  • All thoughts are neutral. They have no value or meaning until we assign it.
  • We focus on negative emotions more than the positive ones because of the emotional pulse attached to it.

Her book “Get Over It” is a must read. It is not what it sounds like. She is not saying get over it in a flippant manner, but in a way that teaches you how to leave the negative behind so it no longer holds you hostage.

I plan to keep this good feeling going for as long as I can. HS, anxiety, depression, anger nor excuses will stop me!  I want all of us to shoot for the good feeling. If you are unable to show up for yourself, it’s okay, I WILL SHOW UP FOR YOU! We are all in this together. We don’t have to do it alone.

I love you all to life!

Landa

 

It Happened On A Thursday Night….

I really enjoy binge watching old television shows. I get excited about viewing things from the adult perspective. Watching the shows as a child, I was focusing more on the fashion and the celebrities.  Now I get a chance to see the things I missed and learn a few lessons in the process.  The latest show I have been watching is “The Cosby Show”.  Just seeing the title of the show made me laugh. It automatically took me back to my childhood. I couldn’t wait to get home from school on Thursday. There was no time to play around. Homework, dinner and a bath had to be done so there would be no interruptions.  The house was quiet when the show came on. There was a strict no talking rule. I can even remember a time when not being able to watch the show was part of my punishment for getting in trouble at school. I thought my life was over. Since everyone I knew watched the show, it was the first thing we talked about at school on Friday morning. If I didn’t watch it, what was I going to do while everyone else was talking about it?

As I sit and watch each episode, I become so overwhelmed with so many positive emotions. (My dad was alive when this show was on and I am really missing him right now)  When I was growing up, all I wanted to be was one of the Cosby kids. Now I realize, I was one. Well, I was a Cobb kid and that was better than a Cosby kid.  I had everything they had,  except the fame. I couldn’t see it then, but it is so clear now.  I actually scribbled a list in my journal.

  • They had nice clothes. I had nice clothes.
  • Their parents had good jobs. My parents had good jobs.
  • Their parents loved them. My parents loved me.
  • They had a nice house. I had a nice house.
  • They had a two parent home. I had 3 parents and a multitude of aunts & uncles. My grandmothers and great grandmothers were alive when I was young too.
  • They had friends. I had friends, but even better I had a gang of cousins. My cousins were my friends that I got to be around all the time.
  • Their parents were very involved with their school life. Not only were my parents involved, but so were my grandparents, aunts and uncles.

The one thing that had such a profound influence on my life from “The Cosby Show” is this show was the reason I knew wanted to go to college one day. It was amazing to see all of those smart and beautiful black people together. I was introduced to sororities and fraternities and I wanted to be a part of it all. Of course my parents had told me I should grow up and go to college, but they didn’t make it seem as fun as the show did.  They talked about getting a good job and providing for a family. That sounded too much like hard work, so I wasn’t keen on the idea until I saw the show. My life was changed forever. I wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, professor and a professional student.  My major did not matter as long as I attended Hillman University. My dreams took a slight detour when I discovered Hillman was a fictional institution. I was hurt, but I got over it because I still wanted to go to college. Fiction or not, I think Hillman served its purpose for me and many black children growing up at the time.

I consider myself fortunate to have grown up with the immeasurable amount of support I had.  I have come across so many people who not only didn’t have support, but they didn’t have a family. When I tell stories about the mischief I would get into with my cousins, some people look as me as if I was speaking a foreign language. I would not trade those memories for anything. I know we got on each others nerves, got into arguments and fights, but in the end we still came back together.  We may not have been the Huxtables, but we were family. Our lives may not have been “picture perfect”, but as J. Cole says “It was worth the picture still.”

 

“I sustain myself with the love of family.”
― Maya Angelou

 

Do We Know How To Receive?

I remember when I was in my 20’s and people were constantly asking me if I were going to have more children. I heard things like ” When are you going to make Chris a big brother?” to ” You need to have more babies so you can have someone to take care of you when you are older.”  I was so bothered by it. I remember discussing it with my dad.  “Why does everyone want me to have babies? Why won’t they leave me alone?” , were some of the things I told him people were saying to me. In this voice that sounded as frustrated as I was he said  “tell those people I said to leave you alone. You can have a room full of children and there is no guarantee they are going to take care of you when you get old!”  I gave my dad a big hug and a kiss and told him I would always take care of him.  He looked at me and told me I didn’t ever have to worry about that, just take care of myself. Honestly, I ignored the statement, gave him a peck and went about my day. When my father became ill, one of the most devastating things that happened to him was he was unable to work. He took pride in working and taking care of his family. The thought of someone else having to do something for him was something he could not deal with. Even something as small as me fixing his pillow while he was in the hospital. “No I got it baby, you sit down”, he would say. I was so frustrated because he would not allow me, or anyone else for that matter, to do anything for him. It was my pleasure and you always want to help those you love.  My father had been so used to doing things for others, receiving was not something he was accustomed to. I insisted on helping so I just did what I wanted to and helped without offering. He fussed and I ignored him. For the life of me, I could not understand why he was so stubborn.

It is so easy for us to say things like we don’t have any friends or anyone to take care of us because we are so used to being strong on our own. This is a box I have put myself into many times and it takes a friend or family member to get me out of it. When you’re single and your only child is an adult, it is easy to look around and think you are alone. I recently had to schedule an outpatient procedure and I was determined to do everything on my own. I thought I had everything in order until the doctor told me I could not use Uber to and from the procedure. Are you kidding me? What are single people supposed to do? What about people who don’t have anyone in their life?  I was so mad, I even tried to get the doctor to make an exception to the rule. The answer was a big fat NO! Now mind you, I had friends asking me if I needed anything and offering to take me, but I declined. I did not want to be a bother and I did not want to feel like I was taking someone away from something important. It is my procedure and my responsibility to handle it. The closer it the date approached, the more and more anxious I was getting. I could not figure out a way to make it come together. One day as I was venting on the phone with a good friend of mine, she finally told me she was going to take me. I thanked her and declined. She then said without hesitation, ” Landa, that is what friends are for. You are not alone and I want to help you.” I finally agreed to the help, but not without offering to pay her for her time and gas. She got upset and told me ” I would not have offered if I could not do it. You don’t have to pay me. You need to learn how to let someone be a friend to you because you are a good friend to me and so many other people.”  I thought about my dad and how he didn’t know how to receive. Neither did I.  I was forced to think about all of the loving people I have in my life and how I am willing to do anything for them if asked. I need to open myself up to receiving help when I need it.

We are proud to say we can do it all and we have not had to have any help at all. Along with pride, we often feel as if we are burdening others by asking or allowing them to help us.  As much as I tell people they are not alone and we are all one, I struggle with it just like everyone else. In some strange way, I thought asking for help was a sign of weakness. It’s actually the opposite. It’s a sign of strength.  We show just how strong we are when we are able to  receive.

“Until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”   ― Brené Brown