The End of A Season

Hello. I have been quiet for quite sometime, and for good reason. I am approaching my 40th year and I promised myself that I would shed toxic people from my life before I reached that milestone. I finally left a toxic relationship I had been in for more than 10 years. Tomorrow will be 1 year since I left to make a new and peaceful life for my children and I. It hasn’t been easy because there is always the obstacle of standing firm in my belief when the other party tries to re-assert control over me. I am more acutely aware of the behavior patterns during this month because I left during this month and because it is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

I have to fight for my safety and that of my children because I don’t know who may be watching that need encouragement. Many people unfamiliar with the terror of being in an abusive relationship believe that you can just walk away – it’s not that simple. Especially when children are involved. The officers of the family court system are not trained properly to effectively handle domestic violence situations leaving many victims (men are abused also – but because of social stigmas they are less likely to report being abused) and children in serious danger. This has been my season and it is coming to an end.

I have a long healing road to travel but I am grateful that I am alive to travel that road as so many women did not have the fortune to. I have reconnected with friends and interest in activities I had stopped doing. I have begun writing, knitting and crocheting again. I have even knit a pencil skirt free hand! Although that last season was painful, it was necessary for me to grow and re-connect with myself. I accomplished several of my long-term goals I didn’t think were possible for me and that felt amazing!

This is the first time I have been single in 13 years and it feels good. When I go to sleep at night it is peaceful. I laugh more. I smile more. I hug my children more. I am slowly learning about who I am at this point in my life. The old me is introducing me to the new me that is emerging from these challenges and I love her. She is spunky and funny (I don’t tell jokes I just state the reality of some stuff) and excited to experience the goodness that life has to offer.

 

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Income Protection

I missed a Friday or two. Sometimes life shows up because she never stops. I am learning and growing as I am teaching. The best way to solidify what you are learning is to teach it to someone else. Have you ever heard of income protection? Did you know you can calculate your income protection number? Do you know what your income Protection number is?

Income protection is the amount of life insurance or assets an individual needs to cover any potential loss of income due to the unexpected death of the primary (or sole) income earner so the survivors can be financially sound until the youngest dependent is at least twenty years old.

You can have your income protection number (IPN) calculated by a financial coach or advisor. If you do not have one or do not know where to find one, comment below. Don’t forget September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. “Friends don’t let friends go without life insurance.” – unknown.

Financial Fridays – Life Insurance

Many people are suspicious when they hear life insurance. Images of sheisty salesmen similar to the car salesman that will sell you junk at a high price comes to mind more often than not. Before I dispel some of that information I want to share that it’s Life Insurance Awareness Month. I just found out it’s a thing yesterday.

I’m glad it is a thing because we need the facts on life insurance so we can make educated decisions when (not if) we purchase life insurance. Note to the hecklers, life insurance is least expensive when you’re young and healthy.

Many people mistakenly purchase life insurance believing they only need enough for burial. When the idea of life insurance came about there was no such thing as funeral expenses. Life insurance was created as an income replacement in the event the husband died unexpectedly. The widow left behind doesn’t have to work and can still manage the household and child(ren) without becoming destitute.

How many of you have insurance on your electronic devices? Why do you insure objects? For those of you with some life insurance: are you fully covered or covered enough to get buried? Would you underinsure your home? Would you underinsure your car? Why would you feel ok with underinsuring your life with too little or no life insurance?

To find out more or to schedule a free consultation comment with your email address.

Life’s Gifts

I am a volunteer tax preparer for a non profit organization during tax season. This is my second season doing this. I absolutely love it. I help people, I learn new things and I experience a part of Philadelphia that I would not have ever experienced otherwise. Suburban Station. Milkhouse Grilled Cheese & Milkshakes. A Lebron James look alike. A Mike Epps look alike. Despair, hope, grief, sadness, joy and excitement.

I recognize it’s the small things in life that give the greatest joy. Today a woman confided in me that she has stage 4 colon cancer. Her hair was up in an opened top head wrap and the style was beautiful. When she handed me her driver’s license as I began to prepare her income tax return she said with sadness in her voice, “That’s when I had beautiful, long hair.”

I looked at her and said, “You’re still beautiful and don’t you let anyone tell you different.” Her eyes watered as she told me how she no longer feels beautiful. I understood her feelings completely. A few months ago I had three wisdom teeth and two molars extracted. No big whoop except two of the molars were on the same side as one of the wisdom teeth leaving a gap in the back of my mouth. For two weeks I cried everytime I looked in the mirror. I felt ugly without all of my teeth. I didn’t want to smile. I didn’t want to look at myself. I saw the same feelings in this woman’s eyes. So I shared my experience with her and reminded her that she is still beautiful.

She was very grateful for the encouragement. Once her tax return was completed she gave my colleague and I the biggest hugs and it felt good to help her smile.

See, so many people are stuck on the island of ME that they don’t acknowledge others until they need something and that’s the real tragedy of life. Because they miss out on experiencing the joy of being genuine to someone else, of being genuine for themselves. I had nothing to gain by sharing my story. Empathy costs us nothing but gives much.

I hope I see her fully recovered this time next year so I can give her another hug because by encouraging her, I encouraged myself. Thank you.

Depression is Real…

I just found out the singer, Chester Bennington, from the group Linkin Park committed suicide. If you are not familiar with the group this may not bother you, but for me this hurts. I discovered Linkin Park in 2000 through my then-boyfriend. He didn’t know it at the time but when he popped Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory CD on, the tracks spoke to me. I was depressed. I was also in denial. I knew something didn’t feel right with me but I kept it to myself because I didn’t want to appear weak or whiny. I pushed on and pushed through and through the music I was able to hide my feelings with a smile.

Earlier this year a good friend of mine, Chris Collins, committed suicide. Right after the New Year started. He spent the last twenty years of his life fighting for equality in the LGTBQ community here in Philadelphia. Fighting for those who felt they had no voice to be heard and yet he felt no one heard his voice. Losing him hurt, especially like that. He was one of the first friends I made in high school as an awkward teenager and his friendship helped me through a lot of dark days over that initial four years. He didn’t realize how much he meant to those around him that he had touched over the years.

See, depression does that. It creeps into your mind and takes root into all of your memories, old and new, and tries to twist them this way and that. Depression loves to feast on the negative memories. Those memories are like protein shakes, making the depression stronger and harder to shake. Constantly whispering how bad you suck at life and reasons why bad things happen in your life. Depression is the voice of evil whether you want to believe in it or not.

But even with all of the infomercials and poster boards describing the symptoms of depression, many people ignore the obvious because once you acknowledge something you become responsible for how you react to it. Imagine if everyone actually paid attention to how their loved ones were feeling. The slightest deviation from their normal behavior would be an initial clue that something isn’t right. As a friend or loved one it only makes sense to inquire if everything is okay. Because I know what depression feels like and I had to wrestle with that beast head on to reclaim myself, I can spot subtle changes in those around me (even my co-workers). So naturally, I’ll ask if everything is alright. I let the individual know that if they need anything to let me know and then I quietly observe them without being obvious.

Why do I do this? Because I do for others what I wish had been done for me. I have survived the darkest part of my depression, I haven’t completely conquered it but I have learned how to manage it so I understand wholly what it feels like. Some people will twist their faces and proclaim that you’ll be institutionalized if depression or the hint of it is mentioned, but that is due to misinformation and fear. Once we stop reacting on the basis of fear and find out the facts, then we as a collective can help prevent someone we know from succumbing to their depression.

Black Without Apology

Too many times I have encountered individuals who behave as though only they have a right to exist on this planet. As big as this rock is… really? I can’t say I’m surprised with 45 fueling the flames. But I was inspired by the words I’ve been reading on here tonight. I wrote this poem, Black Without Apology, as an in your face call out to those who are closed-minded about anyone who is different:

Does my skin offend you?

Has my DNA mocked you?

Has my resilience taunted your very existence, pushing you to hate me?

Does my intelligence frighten

the very idea of your

subsistence on the degradation of my genetic make-up?

I guess nightmares and dreamscapes of terror

encourage you to intake artificial courage

to defile the image of my being

solely because you can’t bear

your child-mind of feeling inferior,

that gestating seed of uncertainty

that gnaws at your immorality

while you justify your (lack of) humanity

to your brotherhood of nonsensical brethren…

But I digress…

Your inability to come to terms with your ideas of the world

belong to YOU.

I am my melanated self because I am

and always will be

Black without apology.

– Why Yet 4/3/17

It’s National Poetry Month 2017!

Poetry month has returned again. I always find myself enthralled reading other’s words and feeling surprise at someone being enthralled by my own.

Don’t misunderstand me. I LOVE my works. My poetry is my therapy – therefore it is very personal and raw for me. Which makes me shy and proud to share it.

The first poem I remember having to memorize was Langston Hughes’ A Dream Deferred. I didn’t understand that poem at the age of ten but it stirred something in me. That quiet stirring continued until I read Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman

Maya Angelou’s passion ignited the stirring in me and I began to slowly release my words onto paper. Not ever did I think, “I’m going to publish these poems and sell books.” But here I am, poetry collection published, writing more for another collection and pondering what to do next.

But every April for thirty solid days I am reminded, by myself and other poetry friends acquired over the years, that all poetry has beauty in it and speaks to someone somewhere.

Poetry is appreciation of life in the raw. Simple. Elegant. Rough. Raw. Love. Hurt. Deppressed. Happy. Excited. Sad. Mournful. Erotic. You get where I’m going with this.

Should you be a poet or know poets, show them some love this month. Read, share and/or review some of their work. Let them know their words mean something to you. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing and expressing my emotional transitions for all who choose to enjoy them!