Things I Found in a Hotel Room

It’s been raining all week. The cold has stuck to glass windows as the wind paired the rain to every object in sight. Some love the rain, many despise it. The ones who love the rain see the cleansing. The ones who hate it see their plans deferred or adjustments to schedules they initially didn’t have in mind. Either way, it’s life.

Today is Sunday and the sun came back like a dog you can give a treat. The sun beamed in the sky with promise that today would be bright. And so it was…

I went to a hotel room to see my beloved friends who are in town for the weekend.

I crossed my legs on the pull out couch as my sister set next to me, across sat my two friends with slight grins as we caught each other up on life’s many happenings. Our time was short but our words were long. And so we dive in to what can’t wait until our next meet up.

I love to see my friends especially growing, glowing, flowing and learning. That’s the thing with real friends, more like family, you want to see them at their best and celebrate their success with them.

I was reminded of how far we’ve come individually and collectively. It gave me a greater sense of hope that all is working together. Here’s what I learned the most:

  1. God makes personal, unexplainable visits.

2. Experiences toughen your skin in ways advice doesn’t.

3. Family teaches you how deep your love can go.

4. Respect is a choice that you have control over.

5. Babies are precious.

6. Love is worth fighting for with the right person who wants the same thing as you do.

7. No matter how many seasons come and go, you can always stabilize your beliefs.

It’s going to be a great year. I hope you’re surrounded by people who see the best in you and only wants the best for you.

Much love,

B

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A Time to Love

*Nature’s alarm clock wakes me up* at 7:00AM and it’s my birthday. There’s a sense of anxiousness entangled with excitement as I welcome this new chapter. Page 1 or should I say Page 7? Either way, I’m ready.

Four days before, I gathered my faithful family in a dimmed lit, high end restaurant to commence this new year. Everyone was dressed in their best with high energy despite the raindrops streaming down the windows behind us.

We greeted each other with smiles and hugs as we scanned the menu for our choices for the evening. With entrees and drinks ordered, we begin to talk about what we value about family.

Blessed to have intellectualism in our DNA, we shared our ideas on current events, relationships and how to balance personal life with work.

My amazing cousin, Shrena, posed the question to my fraternal twin and I “What have you learned this year and what are you looking forward to learning in the new year?

We paused for a moment as we scooped our lessons from our belly leaving resistance on the floor. I shared a quote by Maya Angelou:

I am human so nothing human is alien to me.

as a chief aim for this year.

This quote sparked more Maya Angelou quotes from my father and brother. Poppa Bear quoted with confidence:

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.

As we finished our dishes, our sparkly birthday treats made it to the table. The cheesecake was to die for. My niece had a slice before I did. She grinned with excitement and yelled “Yummy!”

Finally, it was time to say our goodbyes and continue our night. With gratitude in our hearts, we were even fuller. Maya Angelou couldn’t of said it any better:

I sustain myself with the love of my family.

Fear is 100% Mental

It’s Summertime! It’s time to grab your bikini(or trunks) you bought the year before. The sun is beaming and the beach is calling your name. I haven’t made it to the beach yet, but June 23rd I joined the fun at Blue Bayou and Dixie Landin’ Theme Park. I was so excited when my aunt mentioned going a few weeks ago. I hadn’t been years, so I have vague memories of past experiences.

We loaded up the car, and we were on our way! Of course, we had a few unplanned stops but hey who cares it’s summertime. After completing my daily readings, I told my aunt I recently started listening to Blues more. She found that hysterical. She happened to have a Blues CD in her disc player that she turned up. It was hilarious to hear all of us singing along! I tend to sing over every song, but they all know how I do by now.

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So we are here. Let’s go! It’s time to get on the rides. My natural instincts drew me to the small attractions like the Lazy River and the Wave Pool. As we caught the waves, we felt comfortable. We were in the pool for about 15 minutes, and we knew we had to get more excitement and quickly. 

After about a 20 minute meeting, my friend, Danielle, and I persuaded my twin sister to ride the Voodoo, The World’s Largest Dark Behemothbowl Slide. Of course, we did not tell her that part. As we waited in line slowing moving one step at a time, fear became the topic of discussion. We talked about how fear can stifle what you do, how you do it, and limit your perspective. Danielle, one of the bravest souls I know, said confidently “Fear is 100% mental.” I couldn’t agree with her more. We were so high in the air, yet our spirits were so calm. Why? Because we did not allow fear of heights, fear of the potential unsteadiness of the steps, or fear of the ride stop us from enjoying ourselves. The same principles can be applied to everyday life. We fear what others may think about us, what they may know about us, their opinions, and the list goes on. If you really think about it, none of it means anything IF you know who you are. 

So we are in our tube and coming down like The Price is Right!!!! We taught the Voodoo ride a thing or two. Here it is:
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We challenged ourselves to scare ourselves. We wanted to push the envelope. We wanted to taste fear, so we could conquer it. Check out the other rides we took for a spin:

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The Mad Moccassin. This baby was fierce at the end!

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The Azuka, the World’s Largest Tornado Slide. Yikes! It was scary, but it’s not like you can turn around on your way down. ANDDDD last but not least, Lafitte’s Plunge.

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A sister almost drowned on this, but Hey! Danielle pumped by head up and said the only way the day would be a success is if I got on this. Of course, I fell into peer pressure. I am so glad I did ,because I have no fear of dropping 90′ feet from the air again!

So our day was made!!! We laughed, we talked about our careers and aspirations, we demolished greasy hamburgers and french fries, and drank the best lemonade we had ever had. The main memory we have and will always remember is: NEVER LET FEAR LIMIT YOUR THINKING AND MORE IMPORTANTLY YOUR ACTIONS! Live and Conquer! 

**View Fear is 100% Mental Part 2 to see the Azuka and Lafitte’s Plunge videos.

We are FAMILY

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Often times we take family for granted. We don’t truly value the relationships. We get so caught up into work and other worries of life that we neglect spending quality time together. Today, I witnessed a well-needed revelation.

My cousin, Jasmine, created a group on Facebook about two weeks ago for cousins our age to communicate. She started the group so we could plan an event for everyone to catch up. And so we did. Today, we celebrated my paw paw’s 84th birthday. We decided to barbecue and dance to old school music. Our family is legendary in the community for our natural dance moves, and I must say my 55 year old aunt still has it!

We laughed, we danced, and we vowed to spend time together at the minimum quarterly. I met cousins I did not know and reestablished relationships with those I hadn’t seen in years. My paw paw was overwhelmed by all the love and elated to have most of his grandchildren in one place. We were reminded family is all we have. We need to know our family tree and express our love while we still have the chance to. I can hardly wait for all of us to go to the movies to see Think Like a Man Too in two weeks! I am so thankful for family.

Where the drive within me originates

I remember writing hero papers in elementary school. One hero paper I wrote about my mother was published in a book. I was thrilled to have everyone read how amazing my mother is. My mother is who she is today because her mother taught her how to love, as well as the value of hard work. My childhood hero is my maternal grandmother, Mary Alice Hooks.

My grandmother was born August 24, 1933. She is the only child, and her upbringing was drastically different than mine. I love to hear her compare her childhood to ours. She possesses so much gratitude for everything she has. My grandmother is so grateful for the simple things in life that I sometimes take for granted. She is tough as nails, but she had no choice if she wanted to survive. 

She can cook anything asked of her. I always have to make sure it is chicken or other meats I like, because she enjoys rabbits and other animals. My grandmother is the mother of six children, and she raised them all by herself. The children’s fathers were not in their lives. Grandmother only had help from her mother. 

Ultimately, Grandmother had to provide food and shelter for them. She picked cotton and cleaned houses. Grandmother was a babysitter to other children when she did not have her own. She did not have a car, so she never learned how to drive. My grandmother washed clothes outside and had to use the restroom in an outhouse. 

She had a rough life, but she persevered. Grandmother did not let others opinions of her stop her from pressing forward. She believes in helping others with the little she has. There are no words to describe how much I love my grandmother. I have included a picture of her to provide a visual. Everyone says we look alike. Do you agree? I think so, too.

My grandmother is also a very compassionate person. It is hard to tell her tragic news because she takes everything to heart.

 I know God is not done with her yet because she has had at least four heart attacks, two strokes, and ovarian cancer. She takes about 17 pills a day and two injections to manage her sicknesses. Grandmother is “Ford tough” and very active despite her setbacks. She loves her yard and gardening and will yell at you if you drive through the grass or step on a flower. 

Since Grandmother cannot push a lawn mower, and is very stubborn at times, she trims her grass with scissors. Yes, scissors. She loves to do things at her own pace. My father cuts her grass and always tells her she should not be doing that. It is nearly impossible to convince her there is a better way.

My grandmother is a second mother to me. When she had surgery to get her pacemaker, my sister and I moved in with her. Grandmother needed us to be there to cook for her and help her move around. It was very hard to watch my grandmother in so much pain. She is a warrior, so she persevered. My grandmother has never given me any bad advice. Although she did not attend college, she encourages me to achieve the pinnacle of education.

She has instilled the value of hard work and perseverance within me. Grandmother always encourages abstinence because she feels a baby would hinder me. She never liked the guys I dated, and in retrospect, I see exactly why. Even when I went against Grandmother’s advice, she was always there with her arms open wide. She told me everything would be fine and it was. 

I am forever grateful for Mary Alice Hooks. Her wish was to see all of her grandchildren graduate. God willing, my grandmother will see me walk across the stage at Humphrey Coliseum, May 17th, 2014, at 10:00AM. I pray she lives to see me become successful, marry, and start a family. It is my sincere hope that I have made my grandmother proud, because she was my childhood hero and still is my hero today.

grandmother and me

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