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.

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

Who Do You Think You Are?

One of the most important questions you can ask yourself is who am I?  As you were reading the sentence, did you actually think about it?  Did you have an answer right away or did you defer to a memory of what someone else said about you? Things like, my friends say I am funny or my mother says I am sweet. Going back to those thoughts happens more often times than not because so many people really don’t know what or how to think about themselves.

When we don’t know what to think about ourselves, we tend to depend on other people to tell us who we are. This causes a significant problem in our lives.  Anytime you need something that comes from someone else, you are at their mercy. If they don’t give you what you need , such as an identity, you end up in a tremendous amount of confusion or pain. You will end up trying to be someone you’re not. Your actions and behaviors will be based on someone else’s opinion of you and not your own.

Knowing who you are is very important in order to make it in life. People will speak or think negative things about you for no reason at all. People form opinions about you such as you are mean, unloved, dumb and any other cruel thing they can think of because they may be feeling that way about themselves. Just because it’s said about you, does not mean you have to identify with it. What you think about yourself is what matters. If you don’t know what to think about yourself start thinking about who you want to be. I am so glad I started telling my son positive affirmations when he was just a boy. I told him he came from kings and queens. I told him he was strong and a good person. I also told him he was smart and powerful. I made sure he knew he was loved and I was proud of him. Whether or not he listened was not important, as long as I affirmed great things to him was all that mattered.  Know who you are and your self worth because if you don’t someone else will tell you. I want to share some affirmations I say to myself as often as I can to help me along the way. Feel free to use them for yourself.

  • I’m looking forward to seeing what’s coming today
  • There will be some times today when I smile.
  • I am a powerful person.
  • I’m glad that I still have time in this life to do the things I want to do.
  • I am superior to negative thoughts and low actions.
  • My efforts are being supported by God; my dreams manifest into reality before my eyes.
  • Though these times are difficult, they are only a short phase of life.
  • I am blessed with an incredible family and wonderful friends.
  • I am conquering my illness; I am defeating it steadily each day.
  • Everything that is happening now is happening for my ultimate good.

Puppy Love

I was never a dog person growing up. I thought there were only two kinds of dogs; vicious ones and  stray ones running around outside eating everything in sight. Honestly, I was afraid of both. I tried not to walk past houses with dogs in fear of being chased. If I saw a stray dog in the yard, I would stay in the house. Once I moved to Atlanta, it was as if everyone had a dog. They were in cars, purses, department stores and even on bikes with their humans. For the life of me, I could not understand what the fascination was. Then I met my wonderful friend Machelle. She had a Pomeranian named Cody and I thought he was going to eat me alive. Whenever I went to her house, he would bark and I would run from this 5lb ball of fur. Machelle insisted he was trying to get to know me. I insisted he was trying to rip my skin open to eat my insides. Yes, I was a bit dramatic but fear does that to you. During one of my visits, Machelle and I were laughing about something silly and Cody jumped in my lap and rested. I didn’t know what to do next. Do I run? Do I throw him off my lap and head for the door? Do I ask her to get him off of me?  I ended up sitting there. She told me to rub him if I liked. That was when it happened, I was converted. Cody let me rub him and I started talking to him. I felt like he understood each word I was saying to him. We became instant friends. I couldn’t believe I was ever afraid of him. He was so fluffy and friendly.

I had the “puppy bug”. I played with every puppy and dog I saw. I had full blown conversations with them not realizing I was ignoring their owners. I would leave the interaction knowing all about the dog and not even knowing the owner’s name. (I still do that!) I decided I wanted a puppy. I started doing research on the best breeds and all of the do’s and don’ts about getting a new puppy. The opportunity presented itself and I was able to get a Scottish Terrier. I named him Ali. He was the absolute best. We developed a great bond. Ali taught me so much about patience and unconditional love.  We had routine and my favorite things became his favorite things. Ali even taught my family a bit of patience and understanding. My dad, mom and second-mom were not dog lovers. When I took Ali home to visit, I thought we would not have a place to stay. When I introduced them to Ali, all they wanted to know was if he was going to bite them. All he wanted was love.  They welcomed us both with open arms . They loved Ali because I loved him. He was now a part of our family. He got gifts at Christmas like everyone else. It was wonderful.  I was blessed with Ali for 13 years. I lost him to cancer in September of 2016.  I was devastated and I vowed never to get another dog. It hurt too much when he died.  The first night I walked back into my house and he was not there to greet me was unbearable. I donated all of his belongings to an animal hospital the same night.

More than six months had passed since his death and I was still without a faithful companion. My friends kept asking me when I was going to get another puppy. I was so reluctant to the idea. There were days I wanted another dog and there were days I didn’t.  I could never replace Ali and I didn’t want to love another animal the way I loved him.  To tell you the truth, my life was really boring without a dog. All I did was work and when I wasn’t working I was constantly trying to find something to do.  On my son’s 24th birthday April 1, 2017, I received a text message asking if I was still looking for a dog. I asked ” who is this and who sent you?” Then it happened, he sent me a picture of this 1lb Maltipoo and I fell in love all over again. My friend and I went to Greensboro and picked him up.  Please allow me to introduce you to my Gambino. He is so smart and spoiled. I wouldn’t want him any other way. He is about 7 months in this picture. He refused to go to bed that night.Gamby1

There Can Be More Than One (This Is Not Highlander!)

Even if you don’t watch Highlander, you know the famous line ” there can be only one.” While we are not the immortals fighting in an exciting episode, we sometimes feel as if we can only be or do one thing. I don’t mean we need to try to do everything that comes to mind, but we are able to be and do whatever we set our minds to. Is there an unwritten rule that says if you are a doctor, you can’t be a lawyer too?  I don’t think we have to choose between something, we just need to choose what it is we want to do. In today’s society we wear many hats without even realizing it. As I was re-writing my Twitter bio this morning, I listed some of the things I do. The list included the following:

  • LPC
  • CAMS
  • DCC
  • NCC
  • Zeta
  • Mom
  • Yaya
  • Daughter
  • Activist
  • Sister
  • Auntie
  • Friend

It seemed a little overwhelming until I realized these were all things I enjoy doing. There are even things I didn’t mention because I didn’t want my bio to be long and drawn out . I am taking a creative writing course that’s not only helping me with my blog, but also helping me with my book. I enjoy writing and I want to continuously improve my skills.  It would be so easy for me to say I can’t become a blogger or a published author because I am already a therapist. I am learning to be more fluid instead of rigid. It goes back to the control factor and trying to make everything go a certain way. There is nothing wrong with planning, but there is nothing wrong with thinking outside of the box and trying something new. Give yourself permission to do and be anything to want. Take my blog for example, I initially planned to only write about my journey with HS, but I am realizing my life consists of so much more than that. I had to give myself permission to be fluid and write about anything I choose to. I am so thankful I believed my parents when they told me I could be and do anything I set my mind to. Here is my latest poem called “Love”. I need to revise my “hat”  list and add poet.  Who knows what I may decide to do tomorrow?

Love

Love, is that you? I heard about you a long time ago. I always wondered when you would come for me. I see you with everyone else, just passing me by. I’ve tried to run you down and force you to stay, but somehow you managed to get away. I saw you today with the couple at the park. While I stood back and observed from a distance, you had an admirer who looked as if she was ready to risk it all to get a piece of you. Yeah, I’m not there yet.  Is there enough of you to go around? I’m afraid I will miss my chance with you or you will be depleted when it’s finally my turn. Should I set out to find you or let you find me?

 

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

 

Good Grief…..

I never thought there was such a thing. I only heard it said when someone was frustrated about something or when Charlie Brown just couldn’t cut it. I’ve always associated grief with crying and being sad. Just a dark cloud of loss and pain. I remember when my father died. I didn’t know which way was up. I was doing fine as long as I was in Alabama with the rest of my family. As soon as I got back to Georgia, that is when it all hit me. I had to try to live in a world where my father physically wasn’t. I felt all alone in this big bad world. Although we didn’t live in the same state, I somehow felt protected by him. I can recall not wanting to go outside and at the time, I couldn’t understand why not. I guess that’s when the grief started. Until then, I guess I was on autopilot. I would try to watch television and all I would see were fathers and daughters. When I finally got up enough strength to go out,  I was constantly being reminded that he  was gone. As I looked around and so many people  still had their fathers and mine was dead. I became so angry at everything and everyone. Why did my father have to die? Why not take a bad person that was not contributing anything to society? I did not want to see or hear anything about anyone else’s father because it was not fair. I didn’t want to go back to Alabama because he was not there. I could not explain the sadness and sorrow I was feeling. No one would understand I lost the first man I ever fell in love with. No one knew how we talked daily and most of times, it was about nothing at all. I just wanted him to know I loved him as much as he loved me. I did not want to be reminded of any good times because it hurt so bad. Nothing in my life had purpose. I didn’t want to finish graduate school or anything else I was working toward because he was gone. I stayed in this fog for a long time and had  no plans getting out of it.

One day those thoughts and feelings changed. I was talking to my son Christopher and he said ” Momma I miss paw paw Mike so much. I don’t know what to do.” As a mother, you don’t ever want to see your child, no matter what age , in pain. As the tears rolled down my face, I said to him ” you continue to allow your paw paw to live through you. You talk to him and you remember all the wonderful time you two spent together.”  Where the hell did that come from? Was that momma bear Yolanda or therapist Yolanda?  Whomever it was seemingly gave me permission to go on with my life and still have my father with me during each and every step. I finally understood that grief manifests itself in many ways and it does not always mean crying and anger. Of course I know the 5 stages of grief:  1. Denial & Isolation 2. Anger 3. Bargaining 4. Depression & 5. Acceptance. The realization I had was that it does not always happen in order and there is no time limit. I have my good days when I can watch the Twilight Zone and think about how that was our favorite show and just smile. Then there are the bad days when I want to call him to tell him how sick I feel and then I am reminded he will not answer the phone because he is not physically here. The only difference between now and then is I am not paralyzed by grief, but I use my “good grief” to celebrate my father’s life and to stay connected with all those I love.  I will talk about him to anyone who is willing to listen and I cry when I need to.

Today was a mixture of both. Before I saw the doctor to get my CT scan results, I was so nervous. All I could think about was how I wish my father was here so he could make me feel better. He knew how to keep me from worrying and make me laugh about something silly.  I wanted to be able to call him while I was speaking with the doctor. After everything was said and done today, I was able to talk to him about it anyway. My father is always here with me. He is watching over all of us. I even reminded him about a previous conversation about neither one of us being worth a squirrel fart due to our illnesses. I was able to laugh and keep calm during rush hour Atlanta traffic thanks to him.

“Fathers and daughters have a special bond.
She is always daddy’s little girl.”
― Richard L. Ratliff

One Foot In Front Of The Other, With Blinders On……….

There is no perfect time to write. If I waited until I felt 100% then I would never have started this blog. Today has been a most trying day. Now I know thinking I am in control of anything is an illusion, but I really thought I had a handle on my HS for today. I was so prepared. I went to bed early last night  at a normal time, got up early and I even made breakfast. Yes, I was going to make this day submit.  As soon as I started my errands this overwhelming feeling of lethargy came over me. The yawning began and the thoughts of my king size bed began to dance around in my mind. All of a sudden, it seemed as if the abundant amount of Atlanta traffic had tripled. Everyone driving was on their cell phone, not paying attention to the lights. Motorists were blowing at other cars and pedestrians. That’s it! I was determined to go back home. I could not figure out for the life of me, why I was so sleepy. Then I realized chronic fatigue is just one of the many, many symptoms of having Hidradenitis. There are days I can try to forget HS, but it is always there to remind me. If not with painful cysts and boils, with lethargy, headaches, nausea and sadness. I was determined to get at least one thing done off my list. First on the list was to get gas. I found the nearest gas station and completed the task. After that, I made a B line back to the house.

It felt like I was all dressed up with nowhere to go, except I couldn’t go anywhere. I did not have the energy or the strength.  Might I add, I was looking very cute. I actually got dressed and put on my nice clothes. When I am in my Hello Kitty pajamas and a bonnet, it seems like I have the strength of a thousand men and I see each and every one of them when I walk my dog Gambino. Honestly, I don’t have an in between style. I am either really cute or I look like I just woke up. (definitely not like Beyoncé) Now my mind was riddled with anxiety about not getting my list done and other things I thought I had put completely out of my mind. Things like waiting on the results of my CT scan and if I should start this whole meal prep thing. Wondering if I should watch the health movie on Netflix that everyone is talking about because they insist on telling me about how everything including the sun is bad. How am I going to meal prep when everything is bad?  Forget meal prep, how and where am I going to go to get whatever it is I am going to buy? That’s when I decided to take a nap and hit the reset button. When I finally awoke, hours had gone by. Still no groceries and nothing else checked off of my list. I looked around and all I saw was my puppy Gambino, who also had just woke from a long nap. He was so happy I was home with him. I looked at the list and then I looked at him, back to the list and then him. I decided I would take Gambino for a walk and discuss everything with him. We walked and even stopped and smelled some flowers. Then I realized I would finish my list the way I was walking Gambino, one step at a time. I would not allow anything else to get in the way to cause anxiety or the feeling of defeat. If that meant I had to imagine myself with horse blinders on then that’s what I would do. I was able to check a couple more things off my list and decided to try again tomorrow.