One of the drawbacks to country living, is finding fun things to do for for an entire month of school vacation. Luckily for me, in a matter of days, I’m heading to the USA. I will divide my time between Boston and New York. I am especially looking forward to reuniting with high school girl-friends. I have not seen them in more than a decade. They were an integral part of my formative years. I expect the visit be Remarkable. Wonderful. Amazing. Electrifying.
As I contemplated the experiences ahead of me, my thoughts were drawn to the remarkable women I have met along life’s path. I am in awe of their achievements. These women did not receive any educational, monetary or social accolades. These women are single parents. Friends. Caretakers. Confidants. Some of the most unassuming people you will ever meet. Quite a few are unknowingly auditioning for sainthood. One of my heroes is Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of women who are victims of war, genocide and rape. She works tirelessly to help thousands regain pride and rebuild lives.
Not all of us will be a Zainab Salbi. However, our accomplishments are nothing short of phenomenal. They may never appear in newspapers. Nor will they ever be the lead story on Headline News. To put it bluntly, most of our friends will never know just truly exceptional we are. We do not fish for compliments. Nor do we advertise our accomplishments. To the remarkable women I have met in my life, I dedicate today’s blog. Time does not permit an entry for all the women who fit this description. Their stories can fill novels. However, I hope these women get the picture. Hopefully, the next time they look in the mirror, they see a transformed woman. A courageous woman. A phenomenal woman. I hope they see light in their eyes.
To the woman who had the courage to take her kids and walk away from an abusive relationship. I salute you. I admire your strength. Your courage is commendable. The strength it took to make and act upon the decision was nothing short of heroic. The future was uncertain. You had no idea how you were going to sustain your family in the coming months. The most important thing was to leave while you still can. Finally, you did. It took another lifetime to rebuild your shattered lives. You are in a better place now. You made it. You are a hero to many. Especially your kids. A quote by Anais Nin sums this up:” There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”.
To the single mother struggling to raise her children. You make personal sacrifices your children will never know about. Your needs are always met last. You love your children more than life itself. Their life will be better than yours ever was. You have cried yourself to sleep many, many nights. The needs far outweigh the wants. Yet, somehow you find a way. You are both mom and dad.Chaffeur. Teacher. Sister. Friend. Comforter. Listener. Nurse. Provider. Disciplinarian. Add to this list. Your only wish is that your children will live up to their true potential. You are an exemplary human being. I applaud you. I like this quote by Irving Washington, it applies to you: “There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity”.
To the woman who is everything to everyone. Yep, the one auditioning for sainthood. A confidant. Friend. A “payday loan personal lender”. You say yes, when you meant to say no. The word no doesn’t exist in your vocabulary. You don’t want to be the cause of bruised feelings, so once again, you give in. You are tired of giving in to everyone one. However, your gentle, caring nature would not let you do otherwise. You give until it hurts. More often than not, it really does hurt. You listen to your girlfriend‘s never ending dating and marriage crises. You are a babysitter, with no kids of your own. You volunteer each week. Personal matters demand your attention. Your friends and family’s needs seem more pressing at the moment. You are an extraordinary woman. Your good works never cease to amaze others. Many secretly wish they could do half of what you do. You find joy in others happiness. There is no one else like you. No one can take your place in their hearts. Sarah Jessica Parker said this: As a woman, I have an inherent need to be all things to all people, to make certain everybody’s taken care of. I know I can’t sustain that level all the time, so I’m finding the proper balance and it’s made me infinitely happier.
To the woman bogged down by the deepest and most personal insecurities. No amount of words can revolutionize the opinion you have of yourself. It has to come from within. You must find the power to believe in yourself. To take charge. To believe that each day offers a new beginning. To stop allowing relationships to define you. To stop settling for less than you deserve. From friends. Men. The world. Sometimes even from family. To seek help if it’s needed. To let go of the past. Stop blaming yourself. Liberate yourself from burdens that weigh you down. To know you are beautiful. Talented. Smart. Intelligent. Amazing. To believe these words. Not just be comforted by them. Today is the day. To heed this counsel: “The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it: ~ Roseanne Barr.
To the grandmother raising another generation. Retirement is indeed for the birds. You’ve travelled this road before. The path is incredibly familiar. You have given up much. The sacrifices are innumerable. You are determined to see this through. Maybe you’ve been given a second chance. Whatever your circumstance. Your greatest reward is seeing your grandchildren succeed. The grandchildren love you. Because of you, the family is together. There was never any question or doubt. You are their angel. Their hero. You are the epitome of unselfishness. Love. Caring. Generosity. Courage. Kindness. The list is infinite. I have a high regard for you. Because of your efforts one more child will get a chance at life. This one’s for you:” Grandmothers and roses are much the same. Each are God’s masterpieces with different names” ~Author Unknown.
Finally, to the remarkable women who have loved and lost. You know the old adage: “Men are like parking spots. All the good ones are taken, and the rest are handicapped”. I am also guilty of using this epithet. I do know that good men exist. I have seen them in action. Had conversations with them. Yes,many are already taken. However, amazing men still walk the planet. Look deeper. Longer. Harder. Ask more questions. Take things slower. Take an intimate look at his familial relationships. Avoid repeating past mistakes. Realize that he will be perfect for you. No one else. He can handle you at your worst. Resolve residual trust issues. You may have to kiss many frogs before finding your prince charming. Consider this message: “The first time you buy a house you see how pretty the paint is and buy it. The second time, you look to see if the basement has termites. It’s the same with men. ~ Lupe Velez.
To all the other remarkable women I have met. The inner-city school teachers. Special education counselors. Underpaid social workers. Everyone who belongs on this list. I am grateful for your unwavering spirits. Your examples. The lessons you have taught me. Grateful it was the Lord’s design to have our paths cross. The world is a better place because you are in it. Continue to stand out. To outclass. To show the rest of us how it’s done. To love unconditionally. Thank you.
“What is better than wisdom? Woman. And what is better than a good woman? Nothing”. ~Geoffrey Chaucer”
More than a decade ago, a dear friend introduced me to the concept of a gratitude journal. Initially, I did not see the need. Time passed before I became converted to the idea.The ensuing years saw sporadic entries. However, this year has fared better than any other. A perfect record exists. Some days it’s easier than others to express gratitude. Why a gratitude journal? Who has the time? Our days are consumed with one hustle after another. Errands are not going to run themselves. Assignment fairies do not write papers. Lecture notes do not magically compile themselves.The kids are not going to drive themselves to school. On and on and on. A million and one little excuses. I will admit a gratitude journal is not for everyone. Some might find it silly. Inconsequential. A waste of time. For me, it’s a way of recognizing immeasurable blessings. The days can be arduous. It could be the day I got an unsatisfactory grade on an assignment. A long-awaited phone call never came. I had a fight with a dear friend. A family member fell ill. The car broke down. A relationship fell apart before it got off the ground. Affection was not returned. It is difficult to express gratitude on days like this. Especially when you are alone with your thoughts.
Let me share a few reasons why I keep a gratitude journal. Life is a gift. It is wonderful. Amazing. Rewarding. It is ours for the taking. Consider these alternatives. At this very minute, an alarming number of people just took their last breath. Others were hospitalized. Many received news of a terminal illness. Families said goodbye to their loved ones being deployed for military service. It’s commonplace to be greeted with news of unimaginable tragedies. Natural disasters. Wars. Human rights abuses. Genocides. Mass rape. Honor Killings. Child miners working for long hours under inhumane conditions. Baby elephants and even pregnant mothers are being hunted and killed so one nation can feed its hunger for ivory. Stories abound of beatings, rape, and killing are connected to one of the world’s biggest diamond fields in Zimbabwe. Human trafficking. Child marriages and pregnancies. The atrocities are unthinkable. We shrug our shoulders and turn away, because it’s not in “our backyard”. The majority of us reading this will never suffer these or any other unconscionable acts of brutality. We are some of the luckiest people in the world. This post is not meant to invoke guilt nor highlight the injustices of the world. We know they exist. It is a way to help us realize that we have more than we need and we ought to be grateful.
With so much going on, it’s hard to remain optimistic about the state of the world. However, I am grateful that I am alive. I have food to eat. Clothes to wear. A roof over my head. Friends that love and care for me. A family I can call my own. My parents are still alive. I have the opportunity to get an education. I can marry whoever I please. My health is fairly stable. Eyes to see. Ears to hear. Feet to walk. A mind that works. My family is doing well. I live in a free country. I will never have to worry about my children working instead of going to school. The blessings are infinite. When I look at the injustices of the world, I realize that I am blessed to be born in a country that allows me countless liberties. It could have been a lot different. I could have been born somewhere else. Under different circumstances.
Are there days when I want to give up and throw in the towel? Days when I doubt myself? My abilities? My strengths? My problems seem insurmountable? Of course! This is the time I like to read my gratitude journal. It gives a new perspective. Clarity. Hope. We have a lot to be grateful for. Whether we believe in God. Buddha. A higher power. A statue. Maybe we have no beliefs. It has no bearing on being able to recognize when you are blessed and being grateful for it. There is no need to keep a journal like some do. Recognition will do. So next time, you are asked to give more than you have. Someone let you down. Your world is crashing down around you. All hope is lost. Remember, it could be a hundred times worse. There are people who would trade places with you in a heartbeat. They would give anything to live the life you are living. What are you grateful for today?
“If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get”. ~Frank A. Clark
I have not forgotten why I am single, however, I am grateful for the occasional reminders! Is it ever okay to call a potential date four times in the same day? I should think not! It might just send the wrong message to the right person. Let me explain. On Sunday, I was in a car with four other people, one of which is a guy who I sensed has liked me for a few months. No the feeling is not mutual. It might sound harsh,however, I do not believe in wasting my time or the other person’s if I am not interested. Let’s call this guy John (as a way of protecting the innocent). He took some time to get around to asking for my number, and immediately followed up with asking me out. He was painfully oblivious to any hint that it was a bad idea. The situation became awkward. Had it been just the two of us, the obvious answer would have been a “No”. However, I did not want to embarrass him in front of his friends, so I said :”Sure,why not?”. The silence in the car was deafening. Long. Seemed more like 20 seconds instead of the 3 it was.
The next day, John called me in the evening at 8:27,9:27 (I answered this one, however, being unable to talk, I asked him to call me back later), he did call back at 10:15,and then at 10:54. Ladies, this is not a good sign. Men, it reeks of desperation. It’s a turn off. It does not help that I am pursuing a psychology degree either, because now I check future interests rather closely. Nevertheless,calling someone four times in the same day is not copacetic. Some might debate this point. I treasure my space.I hate to feel crowded. Yes, I love the attention like any other woman. However, this early in the game is enough to send me galloping towards the closest relationship exit. If you are wondering whether I will go out with him,the answer is yes. Simply because I said I would, and I hate to break my word. One date does not equal marriage.
You ever had a friendship with a guy in whose presence you are so comfortable,it’s like you’ve known each other since childhood?. Yep, got me one of those! Being in his company is effortless. There is no pretense. No watching what I say or do. No need to worry if my hair is just right. There is always laughter,banter and free-flowing, easy conversations. We get along remarkably well.The list goes on. However, I am sensible enough to know it could never go anywhere. Too many variables exists.Besides, I tried it in the past. In the end, I lived for a few months rent free at “Heartbreak Hotel” located right on the edge of Dreamland Estates.Population: me.
Yet another reminder of why I love the single life, is grown men acting like kids whose recess candy was taken away. Case in point, the recent political debacle in the house of Parliament on my island! I am referring to both sides of the issue. Having a degree made no difference in their behaviors.SMH
I have had my fair share of relationships. I have done my fair share of chasing, and experienced life on the other end. Friends tell me I am too picky. I am getting old.Time is running out. I cannot help it, but I always break out in uncontrollable laughter.While they might have a half-baked, smidgen of a point, and feel totally justified in voicing their opinions as “looking out for my interest”, I beg to differ. I am at a point in my life, where the older I get, the more fussy I become about the men I allow in my life. As a teenager, hot bodies,smooth talkers and baby faces got me swooning. Yesteryear has come and gone.
I am in a good place in my life. Truth be told, I want to be loved just like the rest of them. I want to have kids. I want to be loved like I have never been loved before. I want it all. When the time is right. God will send the right one he has prepared for me. All in good time. Hopefully, he will be towing my brand new red 2012 (or later) Aston Martin V8 Vantage S, right behind his. Yeah Right. Dreams are free, last time I checked. Right now, my focus is on other things. Completing my Master’s degree. Publishing my first novel this year.Helping my mom immigrate to the USA.Travel around Europe as much as I can.The list is endless. While I am out making these things happen, if he comes along,and can handle me at my worse, then he deserves me at my best. I will make time for him. Like if I meet a Bradley Cooper look-a-like, at the single adult All Ireland conference I am attending in June for instance!
If you are married,engaged or seeing someone,don’t assume your single friends are unhappy,simply because they don’t have someone in their life. Some might be. However, this girl is happy in her skin. I can honestly say that for the first time. I don’t need subtle suggestions,gentle nudges, or bold matchmaking attempts. Been there.Done that.Got my sticker to prove it. I am single and a guy would need to be pretty amazing to change that!
“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same“. ~Flavia Weedn
After many years away from the blogging world, I decided the time was right to make a second attempt at it. I am not one to update on every daily, minute aspect of my life. Some things are better left unsaid, besides my family and close friends know most of what is happening in my life, so there is no need to broadcast it here. However, I realize that I have many,many friends, some of whom I do not get to talk to very often. It is my hope that this blog will lessen the divide which exists between us.
So why another attempt? First of all, I am not good at keeping up with daily diary/journal entries, as a matter-of-fact, I totally suck at it!. A blog is a good way to keep a record,albeit a partial one, of life’s events and moments. I figure that between this blog and my feeble attempt at keeping a journal, I should have something to share with my kids and grand kids when they do come along. A few entries per week should suffice.
Secondly, I like to write. I still remember the first time I discovered this interest. Many moons ago, I was sitting in a fifth form English class at Marriaqua Secondary School (it has been renamed to St.Joseph’s Convent Marriaqua), and my English teacher chose my story among others, to read to the class. Needless to say it was a proud moment and monster was created! During the adolescent-young adult years, I dabbled in writing off and on, but sadly,because my family moved around so much, my original writings got lost. A few years ago I began to write again, and this time things are different.
Last,but not least, I am having one of the most interesting and best years of my life, and I want to keep track of it all! It certainly took a long time, but it came none too soon. The past few months have been filled with one adventure after another. I know there is more to come. Dreams have been fulfilled, the blessings have been many. Doors have been opened that no one else but God can close. More to come.
I look forward to hearing from my followers, reading your candid comments, but more importantly continuing my friendships with you, regardless of it’s nature, from here into the eternities. I truly hope that my words will help you in a small way. Enjoy life. Live. Love. Laugh. Be Happy. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. In the words of Martin H. Fischer:”Life is a ticket to the greatest show on earth”
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