Posted in People, Relationships, writing

Father’s Day Reflections

I began Father’s Day 2020 with a bike ride through my neighborhood on the bike I bought that I’d taken to the wheel repaired the day before. Considering my father introduced me to bike riding as a child, as well as all of my lifetime fitness endeavors, it seemed the ideal thing to on the annual day to celebrate dads.

Along the bike ride through cul-de-sac neighborhood, I listened to my favorite Pandora station, singing along to my favorite old school R&B jams. Again, I thought of my dad. I remember riding in the backseat of our red car. He always had, what sounded to me as an eight or nine year old girl, like old school music, and he usually sang along.

Wow! I’m so much like him, I thought.

I pushed my bike ride for thirty minutes when I was actually ready to head home after 11 minutes, according to the time on my watch. Since I’m no slacker, I kept riding until I reached a suitable time to be able to claim that I’d exercised. When I returned home, I went inside and then put my 2 dogs on their leashes. The weather was so pleasant that I decided to continue my workout in the backyard while the dogs were doing their thing.

I retrieved my hula hoop and 2 sets of hand weights and kept the music playing in my ears. I balanced the hula hoop around my waist while lifting 5lb dumbbells above my head, working my shoulders. Then I took the hula hoop and swung it from hand to hand, working the sides of my waistline. Exercising in the backyard made me think of my dad too. Remembering him jumping rope on the paved basketball quart in our backyard after he’d completed his jog around the neighborhood.

Wow! I’m so much like him, I thought again.

It was then that just a twinge of sadness. Because me and this man who is so much apart of who I am are not in the relationship that I wish we were. I don’t allow the sadness to linger because it is not mine to hold. I am not at fault for the lack of relationship with my dad. It was his decision to cut off communication with me. It was my decision to stop trying to make him change his mind.

Today, my dad and I have a distant relationship in which I don’t question his love for me and I try not to give too much thought to the “why” of our relationship. Instead, I love him from afar, sending him text messages on his birthday, Father’s Day, and Veteran’s Day. I chose those days because they don’t really require a reply, which he may not be inclined to do. But if he does respond with “thank you”, it’s all good. If he doesn’t, it’s still all good…for me, at least. I figure I can’t be wrong being on the giving end of love.

While this is not the daddy/daughter relationship that I envisioned with my dad at this point in my life, this is what it is. He raised me with the belief that family relationships were all the mattered, but in my adult life, his actions have displayed quite the opposite. Therefore, I’ve had to see him for the person he is today and deal with him accordingly.

I’ve had people question me about the efforts I have made with trying to maintain a relationship with my dad. Some think I do too much to even text him on the few occasions a year that I do. Some have said I could do more to improve our relationship.

If this topic of daddy/daughter relationships is of interest to you or someone you know, I invite you to join me and three other contributing authors to the book, in a virtual event on June 27, 2020, from 2-4 PM. We’ll be reading excerpts of our stories and having a conversion about this silent pandemic.

Hope to see you online.

Event link

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Encouragement, Inspiration, Lifestyle, People, Quarantine, writing

Weekends in Quarantine

Am I the only one who hesitates when asking friends old-fashioned questions as conversation starters?  What are plans today? Have you made it to the gym? What are you doing this weekend?

Answers used to include exciting things like, ballroom lesson on Monday, choir rehearsal on Tuesday, sorority committee meeting on Wednesday, Yoga class on Thursday, dinner and a movie on Friday, shopping on Saturday, church on Sunday.

Boy, have times changed. Now the responses to those questions are:

“Nothing.”

“Going Walmart.”

“Going to Sam’s Club/Costco.”

“Going to Kroger/Meijer.”

Not very much variety, huh.

Me…I have never been more tired of going to the store as I am in these days. That can not be the only thing that I look forward to on weekends. Therefore, I plan to do so much more in my free time:

  1. Read (and finish) the books I’ve started
  2. Spend 2-3 hours writing my 3rd novel
  3. Swap out winter wardrobe for spring/summer wardrobe
  4. Remove clothes from my closet that do not bring me joy (or I can’t fit anymore)
  5. Organize files on my computer (i.e. school work, personal essays, articles for publication, blog posts, book ideas)
  6. Bake (and share)
  7. Exercise
  8. Oh, and I should include something that involves my 16 year old son, but it’s like pulling teeth to get him out that room. He comes out for food and drink. He seems to fear I’m going to put him to work when he emerges so I try not to do that when I hear his footsteps,

I’m happy to add more things on this list. Got any ideas? Post in the comments below and enjoy your weekend.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Encouragement, Lifestyle, People, Women

Meltdowns Do Happen

Hey, it happens. Meltdowns, that is. They come at you like a bolt of a lightening of a clear, sunshine day. Recognize it for what it is. Give in to it. Let yourself feel the emotions of all that is within you, all that is overwhelming you. Cry, scream, ask the High Heavens, “Why Me? Why does it hurt so bad?”

Then, get over it.

You can’t allow to stay is that space for too long. You can’t focus on all that isn’t going right in your life for too long. Nothing is going to come of that. Instead, embrace this human moment and then focus on the good.  

I speak from experience. My moment came from frustration of looking for a telephone number written on a receipt that I know I had put right there. Instead, I was faced with a stack of mail, bills, and other paper work that I won’t deal with and/or don’t want to throw away! If I could have balled myself up in the corner and cried I would have. I did the next best thing…ordered a BBQ Chicken pizza and made myself a margarita. I didn’t quite cry, but tears welled up in my eyes and a feeling of complete helplessness came over me.

I had to make a couple of phone calls. Ironically, one of the people on the other end of the phone was a certified counselor and I reluctantly shared with her things I can’t say to others.

“I’m overwhelmed.”

“I’m feel so alone.”

“Everyone thinks I’m so strong, so I behave like a strong person would. It’s hard keeping up the façade.

When I got off the phone with her, I felt a weight lift. I spent the rest of the evening going through some of that mail, throwing some paperwork away. More weight lifted. Music pouring from Aliyah Radio on Pandora had positive affects on the atmosphere. I lit a scented candle. I danced. I sang with all the capacity that my lungs allowed.

The next morning, I felt better but the negativity tried to seep back in. When I got to my desk at work, I meditated and decided to write out some things that I had to be proud of:

1. Emotionally eating yesterday, I only ate 1 1/2 slices of pizza, and I burned off some of the calories with dancing. I still prepared a healthy breakfast and lunch for today, leaving the mistakes of yesterday where they were–in the past.

2. I resolved a billing discrepancy that was long overdo.

3. I spent the evening relaxing to good, soulful music.

4. I answered the call of a friend and was able to pause from own emotional hurt and empathize with hers.

5. I organized some mail and opened some envelopes that I’d been avoiding, threw some stuff in the trash. My room was cleaner this morning.

6. I did locate that phone number that ignited the meltdown in the first place. Finding it felt like a gift from God for overcoming the wrath of my buried emotions.

7. I admitted the truth to myself–I am human. I hurt. I feel alone. I’m angry. I’m sad. But I’m also surviving and thriving in the midst of it all.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Entertainment, People

Interesting Fact about L.A.

If you ever enter a women’s—unisex, family, or whatever it’s called—you won’t see me pick up one of those seat covers. Why? Because I can’t stand them. When I try to use them the damn things always fall in the toilet before I can sit on it. And while I fidgeting around with that I’m about to damn near pee on myself!

It’s usually in the workplace that I feel the most judgments. It’s usually where I’ve tried the most to use them. Just for their perceived sanitation. But what works best for me is old fashioned method of covering the seat with tissue, squatting over the seat and wiping any droppings. The way my mom taught me as a young girl.

I accomplish the same goal without the frustration . Now if anyone wants to give me a tutorial…never mind. I don’t want one . I’ll keep doing what works for me.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

P.S. Before you call me a trifling, might I say the trifling ones are those who flush the seat covers without checking to make sure it’s gone down. And the next one coming in the stall has to deal with that! That is all!

Posted in Christianity, Death&Dying, Family, Husbands, Marriage, People, Relationships, Uncategorized, widow, Wives, Women

My Grief Journey—45 Days In

What does 45 days of being a widow look like? At the same time that everything has changed, so much is the same. The very next day after my husband passed, I had to get up to take my son to school. Crazy, right? Well, it made perfect sense to me at the time. It was semester finals, only 2 hours over 3 days, and then he’d be out for the two week Christmas break. The first day and week was spent with phone calls from family, friends, expressing condolences and investigators from the fire department and insurance company asking me the same questions over and over again. That was annoying but obviously necessary. I was glad when it came to an end.

Thanks to all those phone calls and the pressing need to shop for all of the necessities we’d lost, the days were busy but not long enough. It was the early morning hours and late nights when my grief wouldn’t let me avoid her. It was then I had no choice but to acknowledge that Kevin was gone. Now that I’m in my temporary rental home, away from the full home of my sister and her family, thus having more time to myself, those moments are more frequent yet sporadic. I’ll been browsing the cable guide and become sad, my eyes are filling with tears as I see the programs that he enjoyed—namely MSNBC and Supernatural, and Young & the Restless. He was a All My Children guy until I decided started back watching Y&R a couple years ago. Then in true Kevin fashion, it took over. I’d just get the highlights from him. Now I watch hearing his commentary in my head.

My news junkie is gone. Now I have to force myself to watch more news since I don’t fall asleep and awake to MSNBC.

The first couple of trips to the grocery store were tear jerkers. Whether at his favorite spot, Meijer, or mine, Kroger, all I can think about is stuff I don’t have to buy or think about cooking because based on his needs and wants. Will I ever buy tuna again or Crystal Light packets?

It hasn’t been all sadness over these first 30 days. The journey of mourning the loss of a loved has also included joyful laughs and some guilt along the way. The week he passed I went bowling with my daughter, her boyfriend, and my son. I felt ashamed and guilty for having fun, though I could hear Kevin saying, “You better live Char! You know I’m just chilling up here with the Lord and my boy Job.” That same day, we ate dinner at me and Kevin’s anniversary spot, Cheesecake Factory, ironically, seared at the same table as Kevin and I did on our last visit. Rather than request to be moved, I recalled fondly our time there on our 5th anniversary last March. On the flip side, the kids and I have shared genuine laughs recalling our favorite “Kevin” moments and sayings. One of mine is, “You don’t think fat meat is greasy.” My son’s should be, “Going to see a man about a dog,” Kevin’s reply whenever Nate asked where he was going.

As I prepare for the rebuilding of our home I feel guilty for looking forward to having virtually a new home. When the word “widow” fills my mind, I feel stuck in quicksand, unable to move. Kevin thought telling me frequently about his imminent death that he could prepare me for this time.

Nope, epic fail.

It’s just one day at a time kind of thing. But each of those is filled with missing various aspects of him….us.

This is my grief journey.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

(C)2018 LaCharmine (L.A.) Jefferson

Posted in Family, Fitness, Health, Lifestyle, People

Wellness Wednesday–Move Week

I have learned first hand over the last several days that healthy eating and moving don’t mix. If you follow my blog, you know that I closed on my new house at the end of September, approximately a month after the initial closing date was schedule. Although I started packing up and cleaning out the apartment in early August, there was still much to done as the movers arrived this past weekend!

moving

After the movers dropped our belongings off at the new house, there was now work to be done at both locations. With no vacations left for the year, that leaves me to do all of this in between full-time work hours, school drop off and pick up for my son. So needless to say, there has been no time to cook.

Thank God for the bag of apples I bought on my last trip to the grocery store!

Between Pizza Hut on Sunday, KFC on Monday, and  McDonalds on Tuesday I have eaten the most consecutively unhealthy than I have in a long time. An apple a day and a serving of greens to go with the chicken and mashed potatoes (with gravy)  from KFC has been the only healthy things to grace my stomach. Hopefully carrying boxes from the apartment to my truck to the house has worked off some of those calories.

However, we’re still not done. But I am not feeling good about these high calorie food selections I’ve been making. Wish I had been stocking up on healthy grab & go foods while I was stocking up on boxes to pack our stuff in.

Not that I’ll be moving any time soon, but if you have any cost-effective, healthy food ideas to get me through the rest of this week, please share them in the comments below. My waistline will appreciate it 🙂

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Fitness, Health, Inspiration, Lifestyle, People

Wellness Wednesday: Marathon Anyone???

Who in the world would want to run a 26 mile race? Quite a few people, judging from all the participants on my FB timeline with #freepmarathon in their posts. This past weekend, my birthday weekend, was the annual Detroit Free Press Marathon event.

detroit marathon

The first time I saw this event with my own eyes was on my birthday about 5 or 6 years ago. My husband had gotten me room at the Holiday Inn to enjoy a quiet night of writing. On check out day is when I saw the crowd of people and learned what was going on.

It wasn’t that day that I considered participating. That day came when I came across women in my personal circle, people at or near my fitness level making the decision to do it and training for the big day. A few of them accomplished their goal this year!

My father participated in a marathon once.  He trained hard for it. As a little girl watching him jump rope in our backyard and complete his Saturday morning with an impressive backward jog down our street, I didn’t know that’s what he was preparing for. Matter of fact, I don’t even know when he actually did it. He wasn’t the kind of dad that shared stuff like that with his kids. What I do remember him telling me years later was that one time was all he needed. Just to say he did it.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to train that hard to do something only one time. Then again, I could never fathom running 26 miles. Interestingly,  I have since learned that the event consists of more than 26 mile race. There are events for everyone at all fitness levels: full marathon, marathon relay (a team of 2-4 complete designated sections of the race), 1/2 marathon, 5K, and a Family Fun Run. There’s even a race for people with disabilities.

Now that’s something I can put on my bucket-list. What about you? Do you want to run a marathon (or some other race event)? What’s your plan to make it happen?

You know…you must have a plan, right?

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Family, People, Relationships, Religion, Spirtituality

Letting Go

I celebrated my birthday on yesterday, October 15th.  My Facebook notifications began chiming as early as 12 a.m. Text messages a few hours later. Birthday wishes from my husband, son, daughter, other family, and closest friends.  A beautiful brunch of fine dining with my husband at a historic mansion in our city of Detroit. A gorgeous bouquet of fall flowers and a scrumptious cupcake from my daughter added to the festivities. It was a wonderful day. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Why, then, on the morning after such a wonderful day was my heart saddened that my own father didn’t call or text, at the very least, to wish me a happy birthday? Though I’m not surprised, my feelings are still hurt. Hurt that my father willfully didn’t acknowledge my birthday. Who does that to their daughter who has only shown him love, kindness, forgiveness, and respect?

I wouldn’t be surprised if he was waiting for me to call him for a personal invitation to tell me happy birthday. Honestly, I considered it, then decided not to. I’m in the midst of raising a 13-year old soon-to-be young man, caring for and dealing with the often bad attitude of a chronically ill spouse. There is no time in my schedule to hold the hand of the man who should be the strong shoulder for me to lean on.

daughterdad

According to him, he lost me and my two siblings in his divorce from my mother 5 years ago. Five years ago, meaning all of us are good and grown. He didn’t lose anyone. Instead, he cast us away in the guilt that he feels for intentionally losing our family home to foreclosure so that mother wouldn’t get it; the guilt he feels for turning his back on the daughter he had with another woman at the onset of his marriage to my mother; guilt and shame that he can no longer declare himself  to be one of the last good men around as we know much of his dirty deeds.

Rather than admit that he can’t handle being around us in his unveiled, flawed state, he projects onto us, claiming we have deserted him. In the case of my brother and sister, they haven’t deserted him, but stopped chasing behind someone who will keep running away and blaming them for the distance.

The sympathizer amongst us, I hadn’t gotten to that point…yet. I loved my dad so much and I know that the messages that he hears in head are from the pit of hell, designed to keep him alone, angry, bitter, and filled with resentment and un-forgiveness. I had made it my mission to be there for him no matter what.

“I’ll never let you push me away Dad,” I declared to him a few years ago.

Fast forward to the present, that declaration is slipping from my heart like a freshly peeled mango slipping from my hands. Worrying about whether or not my father will accept my love and my willingness to have a relationship with him is as emotionally taxing as trying to get my husband to stop saying, “This could be my last Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday, etc.”

Last week I purchased a book: Letting Go: Rugged Love for Wayward Souls. Interestingly, I bought it for spiritual guidance for loving but letting go of some of my husband’s wayward ways. Hadn’t considered that I’d need it for letting go of my father’s waywardness, too.

By the completion of the book and steadfast prayer, I hope to have the following questions answered:

Am I wrong if I don’t call my father again?

Am I acting out of hurt and frustration?

Am I contributing to the problem by letting go?

Will my father ever understand the effects of his behavior on his love ones?

Do I continue to pray for him while keeping my physical distance? Or is it time to trust God to answer the prayers I’ve already prayed?

 

Posted in Caregivers, Caregiving, Encouragement, Family, Health, Inspiration, Lifestyle, People, Relationships, Travel, Women

No Time Like the Present

My longtime girlfriend has been living in Dallas, TX for at least 7 years. She relocated there after accepting a promotion with the company she’d been working for in our hometown.  Once down there, she met her current husband and they’ve since started a family. Dallas is clearly her home now. As most of her family is here in Michigan, she comes to visit once or twice a year. However, her time is usually consumed with family so I never get to spend much time with her.

I don’t know why it never occurred to me to go visit her. Actually…I do.

Before I started visiting my husband on weekends he was out of town for work or attending a conference for my sorority, I was not really into traveling. The only trips that I took my children on was 5 hrs away to Chicago and across the bridge to Canada to enjoy an indoor waterpark. Traveling was not something I fit into my vacation or financial planning.

This past summer a friend invited my son to go on a trip to Disney World with her family. I didn’t want him to miss out on the opportunity but I was hesitant. First, he’d never been on a plane before. Second, he expressed fear about getting on a plane. So I decided that his first flight needed to be with me. Around this same time, I was on the brink of caregiver burnout and didn’t see a way to give myself a real break.

Lo and behold, the company I work for hosts an annual conference in Dallas that I always say that I’d like to attend. Why hadn’t? There was no good reason. So this year I took the opportunity to kill three birds with one stone: attend the conference, visit my friend, and take my son on his first flight.

Everything was awesome. That Dallas September heat was no joke but it was so good to be away from home. To be a guest in my friend’s home. To wake up on Saturday morning and not have to think about what I was going to cook for breakfast for myself or anyone else! My friend and her husband took good care of us.

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My son in the co-pilot seat

 

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A round of miniature golf in the hot Dallas son with my friend’s family

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Go-Kart racing

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Partial group family pic…my friend’s husband was MIA

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Taking a break from the conf. Enjoying a book in the pool

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My son getting his swim on

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Mom & Son chilling at the pool

The question that repeated through my head was, “Why’d it take you so long to do this?”

I have another girlfriend who’s been living in Atlanta for the last 7 yrs. Besides going down for her wedding five years ago, I haven’t been there for a real visit. After I visit family in Tennessee next year, Atlanta will be my next stop.

It’s funny how, in theory, we know that tomorrow is not promised. Still, we tend to live our lives like we have all the time in the world. My husband’s diagnosis with a life-threatening illness changed my perspective. Although  supporting him through this illness doesn’t allow me to a lot of time to do as much as I’d like, I still make a point to do as much as I can.

Is there anything you’re putting off for tomorrow that you need to be doing today? Share in the comments  below.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

 

Posted in Family, Inspiration, People

LA’s Summer Recap

Wow! Where has the summer gone? Mine, at least. Most of you have a few weeks left. Since my son started school a few days ago, I consider mine as good as over. What was supposed to be an easy, relatively stress free summer has been anything but.  I decided against a summer-long day program for my son. Not only is he 13 years old but the summer would have felt the same as the school year with dropping him off and arranging for someone else to pick him up thanks to the working -parent unfriendly hours.  The only one lucky enough to go on a vacation for a week–Boy Scout camp–was my son. I was so jealous.

My summer was supposed to be a break from writing–as if?–and taking a 10 week Project Management certification prep course, study on the days I didn’t have class, and enjoy some days on our local beach with my husband. I bought a new swimsuit and everything!

As it happened, I was busy with so much more than class and didn’t make it to a beach–not one time.  Searching for a house, doctor appointments with my husband, and unexpectedly, yet gladly, making some necessary moves for my writing business. Namely, doing a photoshoot (preview on my FB page) investing in having my website professionally designed, and a couple of girls’ night out events.

Before I knew it the whole month of July had passed and it was time to get my son ready for school. If I didn’t make a move quick, I was going to lose the short window I had left to enjoy some summer sun. So I combined a few vacation days with the weekend for the most consecutive days I’ve had off all summer. It was only then that I finally got to wear my new swimsuit and sit under the sun. Not at the beach but at the waterpark that I promised my  son to take him to before he went back to school. I made it with a few days to spare! Don’t want to be that parent that breaks promises. Kids remember those things.

Vacation or no vacation. Stress or stress-less. This has turned into a great summer. Not only did I successfully complete the PMP prep course, find a house (closing at the end of the month), I’m all set to officially release my new novel on schedule! Can’t ask for much more than that.

How was your summer? Did you do all you set out to do or more? Tell me all about.