9: Home

Yesterday was the first day of school for my 3 granddaughters. The oldest is in the 3rd grade. The next, in 2nd. The baby girl is in kindergarten. Oddly enough, they’re all about the same height and build. The only thing that physically distinguishes the baby from the oldest is her baby teeth. They have me wrapped completely around their collective finger.  These girls are my heart.  No doubt.

First Day of School 2017-2018

This annual milestone has always been hard for me. Since they’re in OK (with the rest of my family) and I’m in NJ, the event has largely been one that I watch from a distance – via photos, video chats, etc. Every year, I send them “back to school” cards via postal mail, just so they know I’m thinking of them. It’s our tradition. And, while this year was just as difficult as any other, there’s such a sweet relief in knowing that I’ll be with them – permanently – in just a matter of months. Next August and each August thereafter, I’ll be there for the first day of school. I can experience their excitement (or dread) in real time. And nothing will make me happier.

I’m relocating to OK at the end of January/early February. That’s only 5 months away! Moving home is something I never thought I’d do. In fact, my standard response when anyone asked if I’d ever move back was, “Not willingly!” And I meant it!  But, after being in NJ for nearly 20 years, it’s time. I’ve missed far too much by being so far from home. I miss my sisters, my brother, my nieces and nephews. I miss my son and my 5 grandbabies. I miss my parents, who are both now retired.  I miss my aunts and uncles. And I miss my many, many cousins, 2 in particular who are like sisters to me.  When I tell you all of my family is in Oklahoma, that’s exactly what I mean. ALL of them. As I’ve gotten older, family has taken on a new kind of importance to me.  I am deeply rooted in them and they, in me.  I need to be with them like I need air to breathe.

Oh, how I yearn for home.


8: We’ve Been Here Before

Black People:
We are beautiful and strong and resilient.
Remember: We’ve been here before.
Survival is in our DNA, in our marrow.
Oh, how our ancestors bear witness!
This will not break us.
(We gon’ be alright.)
Care for yourselves.
Care for each other.
Cry and lament and rest and sleep
when you need to.
Tune out
when you need to.
Go off grid
when you need to.
You don’t need permission.
Just know:
We are loved by the One who created us.
We are the very image of the Divine!
We are beautiful
and strong
and resilient.
And we’ve been here before.

6: ASSIGNMENT – My Calling

My friend, Hugh, posted this blog entry almost 2 week ago.  In it, he outlines a seemingly simple way of figuring out one’s calling based on one’s belief system. Hugh writes:

Buy a cheap notebook and pen. Carry it everywhere with you for 90 days. Every day, you have to write in it at least once, answering the question, ‘What do I believe today?” Your answer can be bullet points or paragraphs, but you have to answer the question every day. If things come to you multiple times in a day, you can have multiple entries for each day.

This is what you believe about any and everything. It can run the gamut on any given day from spirituality to parenting to Marvel vs. DC comics. The entries “I believe Batman is really about a spoiled rich guy who is stroking his own ego” and ‘I believe Pema Chodron is a brilliant writer” are both equally valid as entries.

If you are at the end of the day and feeling uninspired, writing, “I believe this is a stupid assignment” is totally valid. But it’s important you do it every day, and it’s important you do it over a period of at least 90 days. You want to capture you in different situations, different moods, different seasons, even.

At the end of the 90 days, grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit in a quiet place and read the pages. Look for trends. Everyone I have done this with, the answers immediately popped out at them.

I still do this periodically. Here is a sample of various entries I made in an early notebook that pointed me to where I am now. None of this should surprise anyone who knows me, or my vocation.

[…] The exercise is agnostic – it doesn’t care what you believe, but I guarantee you believe something, and that your vocation is found in that belief system.

After reading the then-newly-published post, I had intended to start the assignment immediately. What do they say about good intentions?

So, yeah… today’s the day.  Got my notebook!  Got my pen!  I’m set!

From today through mid-November, I’ll write down my beliefs.  And I’ll probably share some of them here. I’m looking forward to what I discover, or rediscover, about myself.  ❤

4: A Mild Case

I was recently diagnosed with mild sleep apnea. And every time my PCP, pulmonologist, or respiratory therapist discusses it with me, the emphasis is on “mild.”

“Oh, it’s a mild case.”
“I’ve seen much worse.”
“Well, it’s just mild sleep apnea.”

It may be a mild case but, dammit, it’s my case! It’s enough to warrant the expense of all the testing, the equipment and the follow-up appointments. It’s enough to warrant the effort I have to put forth to care for my machine DAILY and “suit up” NIGHTLY for CPAP therapy.  And it’s enough to demand the skincare regimen I now have to employ to keep my mouth and nose area healthy and chafe-free.  It may be a mild case, by clinical standards, but please don’t downplay it. </rant>

Having gotten that out of my system, I’m glad to finally be taking control of this part of my physical health. I didn’t have a (known) problem with sleep until I started seminary. That holy adventure knocked me off my square in many ways. Think: incessant all-nighters, intravenous coffee with 5 Hour Energy chasers, and Wawa as a food group. The damage done to my circadian rhythm was merely collateral. And, while I finished my classes waaaay back in December of 2012, I’m still trying to recover in equally as many ways. Taking control in this way is long overdue and very empowering.

Initially, I was on the fence about whether or not to take this step at all. All that “mild case” talk made me wonder if it was really necessary. But how could I knowingly and willfully not undergo therapy? I have a partner who depends on me, now more than ever.  I have a son whom I absolutely adore. And, God willing, I plan to see each of my 5 grandchildren grow up and live their best lives.  Also, and perhaps this was what tipped the scales, a dear friend lost her father just a couple of weeks ago to a heart condition exacerbated by undiagnosed sleep apnea. She made me promise to start CPAP therapy.

So, I promised. And I started. And I’m glad I did. (Thank you, J.)

Night 3 is in the books and I can honestly say that I feel better. In fact, yesterday I had so much energy that I accomplished more before noon than I previously would have in an entire weekend! (WHAT?!) And.  It. Was. Glorious.  I just pray it continues to get better from here on out.

The potential trickle down benefit of this therapy cannot be overestimated. There are so many things I need or want to do but can’t because I just don’t have the energy. Things as mundane as cleaning, putting away the laundry, and finally getting around to reading all of the books I’ve been meaning to read; to preparing healthier meals and being more physically active because my body craves both.  It all builds on itself and, until now, I’ve been drowning.

This high maintenance CPAP escapade is worth it.  Of that, I have no doubt.  Trust me when I say: THIS GIRL is in it to win it, and I look forward to the changes that will happen as a result.