Life Is Not Fair

I was raised in a family culture that treated children as second class citizens.  The parents consistently used the saying, “do as I say; not as I do.”  I felt this response gave them a pass to not exhibit good behavior.  As a child, this practice taught me unfairness.

I was a very inquisitive child and had a need to know and understand.  Yet, I was not allowed to explore my needs.  I found these restrictions to be stifling and neglecting my talents.  This made me feel like a captive, which resulted in me becoming a rebel.  My revolutionary spirit, driven by my natural instinct “to be the change I wanted to see” resulted in me having a strong sense for fairness and justice.

Where I was raised in extreme left, I parented in extreme right.  

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I believed in order for a parent to exhibit fairness, they should practice what they preached.  I never wanted to be a hypocritical parent; so, I strongly believed in leading by example.  I wanted my Son to feel free and know that he was being treated fairly.  If I did not want my Son to do it, I should not do it.  If I did not want my Son to say it, I should not say it.  If I wanted my Son to eat it, I should eat it.

I allowed my Son to have and exercise a freedom of speech.  This freedom caused him to face a great deal of behavior challenges in places outside of our home.  He always had great grades, but his behavior was always questioned.  In his Junior year in high school, he made the grades to be in the National Honor Society, but he was rejected; because of his behavior (practicing his freedom of speech).

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As he faced challenges, I remained steadfast in my belief and was his advocate.  As I became tired of facing outside authorities about his behavior, I began to recognize that he lacked flexibility or as his wife says “had no filter.”  I began to explain to my Son that he needed to recognize his freedom of speech was ONLY in our home and not in other places.

Now as an empty nester and my experiences in life, I’ve learned that “life is not fair!”  Now, I know the unfairness I experienced in my childhood was teaching me just that.  It’s impossible for parents and children to be in equal status in this game of life.  There are some things that parents are allowed to do that children just can not do and bad things do happen to good people. The sooner you learn and accept it, the better you will be.  This is what I should have taught my Son.

Life Lesson:

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Because I am still a critic of hypocritical parents, I still do not believe in the saying, “do as I say and not as I do.”  I now know there is a better way to handle the unfairness; because it is not what you say, but how you say it.  By simply executing the lesson that there are some things adults are allowed to do and children are not.  Once you become an adult, you can engage in adult privileges.  So when a child asks, “Why do you get to drink that or why do you get to say that?”  The best response is, “Because I am an adult.”

An unfair life lesson is imperative.

One day my GrandDaughter Mink saw an alcoholic beverage sitting on the table and she said, “that’s for grown people.”

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My GrandDaughter Mink

I received her statement as confirmation that my Son and Daughter-In-Law were positively teaching the unfair lesson.

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My Son (Daniel, Sr.) and Daughter-In-Law (LaToya)

 

 

Learning From Distance Love

Another characteristic of my family’s culture is plagued in control; endowed in loyalty. My family strongly believe that:  encore4

This belief demands total allegiance to the family culture and requires ignoring family imperfections and reverting them into righteousness.  Any separations from these practices are threatening.

I’ve come to learn that believing things are fine, when they are not is an emotional form of denial.  I’ve come to learn there is a difference in loyalty and blind loyalty.  Loyalty is a strong feeling of support.  Blind loyalty is the deception that an action is right just because a person of authority says it’s right.  I’ve come to learn the beliefs that my family embrace, practice and promotes are blind loyalty; which I find to be oppressive.  For these reasons, my family considers me to be a “crazy traitor.”

Because of my need to abandon the habits and practices of my family’s unhealthy generations, I chose to isolate myself from some of my blood-related family members.  Driven by my natural instinct “to be the change I want to see;” Not only do I accept my family’s label of a “crazy traitor,” but I HONOR it!  It says that I have the ability to become enriched, fulfilled and loyal to my own experiences!  I choose to explore and embrace new and positive reasoning and beliefs.

I am have learned to make conscious efforts not to repeat the pattern of encouraging or promoting blind loyalty.  I must allow my Son to rethink my parental ways, devise different strategies for managing his family and trust him to make good decisions.  I am learning my place as a GrandMother; in lieu of a Mother.  I have to catch myself from imposing my views on my Son and Daughter-In-Law.  I’ve had to recognize that our circumstances are different;  I raised my Son as a single parent and they are a two-parent family.  Things I did, they don’t have to do.  The best support I can give them is PRAYER.  I pray they are much better parents than I could ever comprehend.

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My Daughter-In-Law (LaToya), My Son (Daniel, Sr.) and My GrandChildren (DeYani & Daniel, Jr.)

I will be honest to admit, this is easier said than done.  I am and always will be a Mother; so it’s hard to turn it off.  Though, I’m learning to pray for them, I will still express my thoughts and feelings; knowing that they have the option to embrace them or not.  In order to deal with this challenge, coupled with the desire to remove myself from Chicago brutal winters, I felt it would be best to put distance between us and live far away.  The distance would help me to stay in my lane and execute a

Life Lesson:

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GOD is in Control

My Encore Journey is a time that I use to reflect on my life’s lesson and implement them in order to live as a better person.  Today I reflect back to 1976 – 1977 in my 9th Grade Year at Hughes-Quinn Junior High where we were required to pass the Constitution test.  It was where I was introduced to the systems of the government in order to implement the knowledge to pass the exam.  Though I did pass the exam, it wasn’t until 2008 – 2010 that I really found the knowledge to be useful.  When Barack Obama was elected as the 44th President of the United States, I became intrigued with EVERYTHING about the government!  This is when I began to remember, reflect and release all the information I had learned; it was like the textbook story came alive and I was more than interested!  I kept my TV on CNN and engaged in everything about the federal government.  My Sister, Son and I even attended the Inauguration!  I don’t even remember ever watching an Inauguration on TV, but this was one I NEEDED to attend!

I strongly felt if there ever was a person that was right to be the President, it was Barack Obama.  I believed if anyone could work a national miracle, he could!  Slowly, I watched as President Obama became shackled by the systems of the federal government.  This is where I really learned the effects of executive orders, 2/3 of the votes, vetos and filibusters.  The knowledge became real to me.  It was like watching a movie about slavery; I will, but it’s hard to do. It was so hard to watch and I stopped watching.  By the time he ran for his second term, I had lost hope in our government system.

Though, I had lost hope in our government system, I gained faith in GOD.  I have learned that everything happens for a reason.  If GOD allows it to happen, it’s because there is a blessing in the lesson.  I’m not sure exactly what GOD wanted us to learn by allowing Barack Obama to become the 1st President and not be able to implement change and hope as he had promised.  At this point, I can only speculate, because I believe the lesson is still ongoing.  Yet, I’m confident that HE NEEDS this nation to learn that no matter who is President, GOD is in control!

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We, as a people, need to stop placing all of our faith and hope in the President and the governmental system and realize that HE IS GOD!  “Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask and think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20).

This is the message that I receive.  It is with this belief, coupled with the Obama Administration experience that I chose NOT to vote in this Presidential Election.  I strongly did not have any faith in Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump.  I strongly felt they were two peas in a pod and I refused to execute my vote for the lesser of two evils.  I felt with either of the two in office, it would be tragedy.  When I was faced with my only options for the 45th President were two evils, I knew GOD was up to something.  So there was no need for me to vote; I was going to allow GOD to do HIS will!

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I now know and strongly believe:

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Today Donald Trump is being inaugurated as the United States’ 45th President and I have NO FEAR!  I STRONGLY BELIEVE GOD is not only about to show Donald Trump something, HE is about to show this nation something!

I pray that we, as a people, will learn to keep our eyes on the PRIZE; because it’s obvious that we have forgotten

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Life is About Balance

I was born into a family culture where the parents were hardworking and  took great pride in providing for their families.  They strongly believed that if a child was able to wake up on a nice, clean and warm bed, he/she was BLESSED!  If a child was able to use the bathroom in the house and the toilet flushed, he/she was BLESSED!  If a child was able to turn on the water faucet and water came out, he/she was BLESSED!  If a child was able to go to a refrigerator and obtain food, he/she was BLESSED!  If a child was able to turn on the stove and the fire started, he/she was BLESSED!  If a child was able to engage in all of these amenities without paying for them, he/she was the MOST PRIVILEGED and should be the MOST HAPPIEST person in the family!  Being the provider of all of the family’s amenities meant reaching the ultimate parent goal and provided the privilege to do and say anything they desired.  Usually this meant negative actions and speech.  Putting others down made the parent feel large and in charge.  Lastly, parents felt in order for the child to show appreciation for being the MOST PRIVILEGED and HAPPIEST person in the Family, a they should simply “do as the parent says;” no ifs, ands or buts about it.  This parental methodology was rooted in doing what was best for the parent.

The parents in my Family did not see the NEED for emotions and feelings.  They did not know that a loving hug/kiss at bedtime from a parent, would make the worst sleeping arrangements most comfortable.  They did not know to take a child’s hand in a reassuring manner would strengthen a child to live in darkness.  They did not know that protectively standing in front of a child would teach them to conquer fear.  They did not know that consistently ensuring children that “they were beautiful; they were smart; they were important” would give them the belief that they could conquer the world!

As I child, I did not understand the parental mentality from which I was raised.  I felt it was harsh, cruel and heartless.  Yet today, as an adult, I understand; this mentality stems from slavery and the inner desire “to do what was done to me.”  I understand this desire has generated a generational curse that is most difficult to break.  I understand that in order for slavery to truly end, we must start in ourselves and in our own families.  I understand that it will take a selfless person to desire to do something different.

As I mentioned before, as a parent I chose to do parent differently; better.  I was going to do more!  My childhood taught me the extreme left things about parenthood and I practiced extreme right things in my parenthood.  I made my Son my TOP priority!  Everything I did, every chose I made, I did with the best interest of him.  I was functioning as a Mother and a Father; so I felt I had to do more.  Where I didn’t get love, I loved on him more.  Where I didn’t get attention, I gave him more attention.  Where I was raised in a very strict household, I provided a very lenient household.  Where I was not able to freely express myself, I allowed him to have and practice a freedom of speech.  In all my decisions, I did opposite of what my Aunt would have done.  I went even further and taught My Son to think about himself; don’t worry about me.  I just wanted to be sure that he was good.  If he was good, I was good!

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My parental methodology was doing what was best for him.

I am now an empty nester and my job as a Parent is successfully completed.  I now realize that I put too much into My Son and not enough into Myself.  I should have invested some of that time and energy into Myself.  I should have taught My Son to not think about himself, but think about US.  In every matter that I placed My Son, I should have placed US.

I did not realize that one day all of my investments would grow up, move out and live a life of their own with their own family.  My investments in him allowed him to graduate with a Bachelor degree in Business Administration from Florida A & M University (FAMU), a Master degree in School Counseling from DePaul University, secure a professional career, marry a wonderful and educated woman and have two beautiful children.  I am most proud of him and his accomplishments.  Yet, the return on my investment is not one that I receive; it’s only one I get to appreciate.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!

I should have been preparing and planning for being an empty nester just as if I was preparing for retirement.  I should have taken time to explore dreams of my own and what paths I would take.  I was so engrossed in the survival mode and ensuring that My Son had the best of a single parent life (remember, he rates his childhood a 10).  I guess I did that when my son began high school and I re-enrolled in college to finish my Bachelor degree.

Life Lesson:  

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Happy Birthday! GOD-Given Sister

My orphaned and nomad lifestyle has has provided me with Special People who are and are not blood-related.  They have been there for me, whenever I was in need of family support!  They mean more to me than my blood-related family.  These are people that didn’t have to do it, but they did!  These are people that did whatever they could to assist me in being and maintaining in a healthy state of being.  These are the people that I believe GOD sent to me; which is why I call them My GOD-Given Family; Extra Special People in My Life!

As suggested this year by Random Acts of Kindness, I want to take time to acknowledge these people with a Thank You Note.  I have decided the best time to do this for each of them is on their birthday.   I want to use this opportunity to give them their flowers for being instrumental in My Healthy Life while they live!

The first person I want to acknowledge is my blood-related and

ONLY Sister, 
Doreece Devone Lawrence.

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First, I want to tell you a little about My Sister.  As far as I know about our parents, they were opposites.  Our Mother was very quiet and an introvert.  Our Father was very talkative and an extrovert.  Ironically, my Sister adapted my Mother ways and means and I adapted my Father ways and means.  Because we were orphaned at a young age, we both learned to be assertive (like our Father).

Notice:  Her Facebook Profile Page is a picture of our Mother and My Facebook Profile Page is a picture of me and our Father.

Because we are different, most times we have different views and opinions about things.  Yet, we are able to do it in LOVE!  There has been times when she has hung up the phone on me and I would call her the next day and talk just like nothing happened.

I distinctively remember there has been several times, when we were talking on the phone and I’ve said, “Doreece, I’m going to call you back.”  And she would respond and say, “You don’t have to.”   I am like, “Dang, maybe I want to?!”  And she would say, “Well, have something to talk about!”  Like I had not been talking?!  It’s all good; I accept and LOVE her the way she is and hopefully she accepts and LOVES me the way I am!  So, to My Sisi, I want to say:

Dear Sisi,

I want you to know how grateful I am to have you in My Life.  THANK YOU for being an SENSATIONAL Sister, a Mother (when I needed one), providing me with a HOME, an AWESOME Aunt to My Son, a RHOYAL Roommate, becoming My SoRHOr in Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., a TENACIOUS Traveling Companion and a GRACIOUS GrandAunt to My GrandChildren.  You have been an inspiration for my confidence in stepping out on FAITH and living a nomad lifestyle!

I could never THANK YOU enough for opening your heart and home to provide me with the opportunity to change my scenes (from East St. Louis and Chicago, IL).  Each time I’ve been able to kick start my life into something BETTER!  I THANK GOD for You everyday!

HAPPY 52nd BIRTHAY, Sisi!

I LOVE YOU MORE THAN YOU WOULD EVER KNOW!

Everything Happens For a

It has been eight (8) months since I’ve last posted on My Blog.  On December 28, 2016 I received an encouraging message that motivated me to restart maintaining My Blog.  I am a strong believer that GOD is in control and everything happens for a reason; GOD is behind every event and has a reason for their occurrences.  I’ve learned to engage in these occurrences, especially during this time of My life; My Encore Journey.

I call this My Encore Journey, because it is rooted in me becoming an empty nester.  Before becoming an empty nester, I was a single parent raising an African-American Male and motivated by making as much money as possible.  When my Son graduated with his Master degree and secured a full-time position as a High School Counselor, I felt my job as a parent was successfully accomplished!  It was time to “DO ME!”

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My Sister, Son and I at My Son’s Master Degree Graduation

I realized this empty nest status had awarded me the opportunity to change my motivation.  Since I was now only responsible for self, I did not feel I needed as much money as I felt being a single parent.  By now, I had learned that GOD put each of us here for a purpose.  I had became intrigued with “what exactly is my purpose?!”

In my search to find my purpose, I began by reflecting on the things that had occurred in my life I could not control.  I felt these things happened for a reason and maybe they happened to lead me to my purpose in life.

Another thing I had learned in life was good things can commence from tragic.  My sister and I had lost both of our parents, when I was seven years old and she was five years old.  We were raised in an unhealthy family environment.  Though, I had no parents and lived an abusive childhood, I became obsessed with human behavior in terms of family.  I love to watch and learn how people interact in and with their families.  I craved to learn about healthy family functioning.  I knew all about how to do things wrong in a family; I wanted to learn how to do them right.

When I began this Encore Journey,” I conducted a self-examination to study my own behavior.  It was during this examination, I discovered that I had a natural instinct to “be the change I wanted to see.”  I did not want to live the same way I had lived.  I did not want to use the things I had been taught.  I did not want to do the things that had been done to me.  I wanted to be better; live better, know better and do better.  The only way I could accomplish this goal was by studying the people and things that were better.  This instinct was the root of how I had raised my son; by simply doing everything opposite of how I was raised and it worked!

This was confirmed to me one day when my Son and I were watching Family Feud.  The family was playing Fast Money and one of the questions was “How would you rate your childhood?”  As always when we were watching, we answer the questions and I said, “3” and he yelled, “10!”  Abruptly, he looked at me and said, “Ma, really; a 3?!  I think you are being a bit extreme.”  He tends to think that I can be extra some times.  So, I called my sister and asked her the same question while I had her on the speaker phone.  She replied, “2.”  He was shocked with the realization of truth.  He replied, “That makes me want to cry.”  Immediately, I responded and told him not to fret because his “10” answer to the question made me feel most PROUD!  Proud that my childhood went from a “3” and I was instrumental in his childhood being a “10!”  I was honored to feel this as a confirmation of “being the change I wanted to see!”

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In my empty nest status, I began wonder how can I share these Parental Powers with others?!  How can I inspire and encourage other Parents to desire to parent more effectively and evolve from being Parents that say, feel and believe, “My parents did it.”

I believe we need more Parent Changers in our society.  Parent Changers are the Parents that take time to re-evaluate the ways and means for which they were raised and want to do things BETTER; not the same.

Are you or do you desire to be a Parent Changer?!

I decided to start my efforts in empowering other Parents by creating a non-profit organization for this effort; Parent Changers.  I named it “Through It All, Inc.;” from the gospel song.

In case you are not familiar, here are the lyrics…

I’ve had many tears and sorrows,
I’ve had questions for tomorrow,
There’ve been times I didn’t know right from wrong:
But in every situation God gave blessed consolation
That my trials come to only make me strong.

Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God;
Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

I’ve been to lots of places,
And I’ve seen a lot of faces,
There’ve been times I felt so all alone;
But in my lonely hours,
Yes, those precious lonely hours,
Jesus let me know that I was His own.

Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God;
Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

I thank God for the mountains,
And I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms
He brought me through;
For if I’d never had a problem
I wouldn’t know that He could solve them,
I’d never know what faith in God could do.

Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God;
Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

Join our efforts in engaging Parent Changers!

www.throughitall.org

Join our Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/throughitallincnfp

Mother’s Day – A Mother’s Love

Today is the day that we take time to remember our Mothers and show them love in some shape, form or fashion.  Today is my 46th Mother’s Day without my biological Mother.  For me it has just been a day to remind me of what I don’t have.  As I’ve gotten older and especially since I’m taking myself on an Encore journey (to be the change I want to see), I’m working effortlessly to change my thoughts on this day; to think of what I do have.  Instead of reflecting on the fact that I don’t have a Mother, I’m working to concentrate on the Substitute Mothers that GOD has BLESSED me with!

To me, being a Mother is a gift of caring that never ends and a love that never dies.  Today I want to take time to acknowledge the women that have come into my life and given me this unending love and care.  These are my Substitute Mothers.

First I must reflect on a Substitute Mother that I lost on October 10, 2015, while I was studying abroad in South Africa.  Rosetta Gilmore, who everyone calls Whul, was a Dear Substitute Mother to me.

My Sister and I were raised by my Maternal Aunt, Dorothy Mae Lawrence-Hubert-Thurman (who we call Aunt Bia).  We started living with her in the Orr-Weathers (Housing Projects) in the E-4 building.

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Sisi, Aunt Bia and I in Country Club Hills, Illinois

We met Whul and her daughters (Deborah, Pat, Diane and Yvette), when we move on the 7th Floor.  Years later we moved to the row houses and coincidentally moved where our back yards were across from each other.  They became the family that provided me with unspoken love (through their actions), when I felt I needed to feel family love.  I would spend most of my free time at home at their place and they never made me feel like, “I wish she would go home.”

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Whul with her Daughters (Pat, Diane, Yvette, Whul and Deborah)

Even when I moved out of Illinois, I always made it my business to visit Whul; like I would a Mother, during my return visits home.  I remember taking my young Son to visit her and when we left he said, “Ma, I have never thought about having a GrandMother before, because I’ve never had one; but Whul make me feel like I wish I had one.”  This was a confirmation for me that Whul was truly a Substitute Mother.

Today I must acknowledge my Sister, Doreece DeVone Lawrence.  She’s not old enough to be my Mother, but we have had to play the role of Mother for each other.  She’s been like Hallmark – the next best thing!  We have had to depend on each other for survival.  She has been my ROCK and I THANK GOD for her!

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Sisi and I in Montego Bay, Jamaica

My current Substitute Mother is Gloria Palmer-Bailey.  She is my Sorority Sister’s (The Late Andrea Antoinette Bailey-Williams) Mother.  I met Antoinette and her family, when we moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1996.

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Me and SoRHOr Andrea Antoinette Bailey-Williams in Chicago, Illinois

To help me to settle and get to know people, my hometown Sorority Sister, Warletta Johnson, took me to meet Antoinette for a party at Antoinette’s home.

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Me with SoRHOr Warletta in Tinley Park, Illinois

 

From that day, Antoinette’s family took me and my son in as family.  They invited and included us in all of their family functions and events.  The amazing part about Antoinette and her family was my son and I were not the only people they accepted as family.  They accepted most of Antoinette’s friends as family.

Gloria is the Mother I wished I had; she keeps it REAL.  I remember her telling me, “I tell my kids all of the time, don’t raise your children the way I raised you guys; because I really did not know what I was doing.”  Though she may doubt her efforts, I think she did an AWESOME job!

My admiration grew to the highest level, when I learned how she maintained being a consistent student pursuing her Associate, Bachelor and Master degrees, while she functioned as a single parent to three (3) children and using public transportation!  I thought it was hard for me; doing it as a single parent with one child and a car.  I am honored to be able to call her a Substitute Mother.

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Me and Gloria in Chicago, Illinois

Unfortunately, Antoinette lost her battle with breast cancer on February 07, 2006.  Yet, my connection with her Mother Gloria continues.  She needs a Daughter and I need a Mother.

As it appear, death seems to follow me and continue to take people who are near and dear to me.  As I venture into my efforts of staying positive and moving forth, I’m working to learn…

Life Lesson – “Don’t grieve.  Anything you lose comes around in another form” (Rumi).

 

 

 

Transition – Constant Learning Path

The memories that I have of my parents are few and very vague.  The older I got the more I wanted to know about them.  Still to this date that desire never diminishes.  But I’m at a disadvantage, because when I inquire and research information about them, I am mostly faced with dead ends; like “I don’t remember.”  I find it to be very frustrating, especially now as I venture on this encore journey in my life.  I’ve learned that “those who are unaware of history are destined to repeat it” (George Santayana).

One thing I do vividly remember is the day (September 01, 1968) my Father died.  He was outside of our home working underneath one of his cars.  The jack slipped and the car fell on him.  Because it was early in the morning and no one else outside, he was left in that position for some time.  We were inside the home and my Mother was cooking breakfast.  She asked my Aunt Shirley to go outside to let him know that breakfast was ready.  I can still hear her scream; it was heart wrenching.  I vividly remember when the ambulance finally arrived and they pulled him from underneath the car.  By the way his face was dark and dirty, I knew it was bad.

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Me and My Father (Daniel Gibson, Jr.)

What I didn’t remember, but it was told to me later on in my life, that on this same day, my Mother was taking my Sister and I to relocate to Suitland, Maryland to live with her Cousin Micky.  Apparently, she felt she needed a change and was taking a step to move out of East St. Louis, Illinois.  Of course because of my Father’s death, her plan was delayed; but we did move to Suitland, Maryland.  Now, what is unbeknownst to me to this date is why she returned and 1 ½ years later her life ended (March 04, 1970) in East St. Louis, Illinois.

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My Mother, Delores Lawrence

 

Fast forward to my senior year in high school (Lincoln Senior High) I remember writing as my plan for the future in my Senior Memory Book was to move out of East St. Louis and never return to make it my home.  The Fall (1980) after graduating from high school, I left East St. Louis to go to college (Eastern Illinois University).  I now understand that my goal for going to college was not to pursue a degree.  My goal was solely to move out of East St. Louis and going to college would provide me with that opportunity.  Though I accomplished my goal to move away, three (3) years later (Summer, 1983) I felt forced to return, when I found myself unwed, unloved and pregnant with my Son.

I was still successful with my moving away plans.  I moved away from East St. Louis in April, 1987 and relocated to Oakland, California to live with my Sister; who has lived a nomadic lifestyle all of her adult life.  She had been living there for one year and I guess was sick of hearing about my challenges of finding employment; she continued to highly encourage me to make a change and join her in California.  I felt like I was unable to progress in East St. Louis; so out of desperation, I purchased one-way tickets for me and my son and we relocated to Oakland, California.

My Son and I were there for 1 ½ years and my sister decided to move back to East St. Louis!  Well, I had been successful in securing a job with the federal government and moving back was not a desire or an option for me.  So we stayed and lived there for 9 years.  Through observational learning from my Sister, who in 9 years had lived in many other places, I was inspired to explore the nomad lifestyle, when I was informed that my federal position was being reassigned to Chicago, Illinois.  So, I requested to relocate along with it and was granted the opportunity (March, 1996).

Even though we lived in Chicago for almost 20 years, I feel it was not a good move for me.  It required me to tap into all of my survival skills.  My professional experience was in a career destructive environment where I had to enhance my abilities and learn tactical techniques to avoid fatal interactions with leadership abuse on a daily base.  This professional challenge did motivate me to re-enter in college to finish (Summer, 2006) the Bachelor degree that I failed to achieve during my first tenure.

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After 15 years of utilizing my strength, energy and fighting the will to keep hope; along with my completion of raising my son as a single parent, I found myself needing a change.  Again, I decided the best way out would be to go to college and pursue a Master degree (Fall, 2011).  This time my ultimate goal was to not only pursue a Master degree, but to maximize on every opportunity that I could explore that would take me to levels that I never imagined!

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Me on Table Mountain in the city of Cape Town in South Africa

I studied abroad (Fall, 2013) to South Africa for my final semester of graduate school.  I returned to Chicago, Illinois and almost 2 years later I felt the need for a change; especially for warmer climate.  Again fortunately, my Sister was in the position to be my rescue!  She had been living in the Washington, DC area and working at the Pentagon for six (6) years and accepted a position at the Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.  Now that I had adapted the nomad lifestyle, I informed her of my desire to join her in Louisiana.  This time I was flying solo as an empty-nester and again she accepted me (October, 2015)!

For whatever reasons, my Sister and I both have chosen the path of constant change; nomad lifestyles.  We understand that everything is temporary and nothing is yours.  The greatest benefit of it all on this path has increased our adaptability and generated great learning experiences.  We have been exposed to many lifestyles, cultures and situations.

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Me and Sisi in Chattanooga, Tennessee (visiting Aunt Shirley and her Family) for Thanksgiving 2015

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Aunt Shirley with Her Sons, Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren

I wish I had the opportunity to talk with my Mother to understand her thoughts, feelings and lessons, when she decided to seek a change and leave East St. Louis; ultimately, her decision to return.  I believe this information would have been helpful to both me and my Sister and possibly improved our path of the constant learning process.

Life Lesson – I’ve come to learn that “It takes a wise man to learn from his mistakes, but an even wiser man to learn from others” (Zen Proverb).

About Me – Making Memories for Others

Becoming a Substitute Teacher in January, 2014 (highly recommended by my Son) was the first job I could secure after my return from South Africa in November, 2013 and graduating with my Master degree in Family Studies in December, 2013.  This meant that now my Son, my Daughter-In-Law and I were all working in the school system.  For the first time, this year, we were all going to have Spring Break at the same time.

For this reason and coupled with the fact my Daughter-In-Law was pregnant with my GrandSon (due in July), she got in the traveling spirit and came up with the brilliant idea for us to take a family trip to visit GrandDaughter Mink’s GODFather, Eric and his girl, Rachel; who had recently purchased a home in the Atlanta area and we were excited to visit!

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We went to Georgia with tourist mentality.  We wanted engage in the Atlanta area as tourist; to make it educational for Mink; it was Spring Break.  We were especially interested in touring the King Center; an educational and social change institution.

When my Sister heard about us housewarming trip to Eric’s place, coupled with her traveling spirit and remember, her vow to be more physically present with her niece and nephew, she decided to join us in Atlanta!

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Additionally and ironically, our Cousin/Sister Regina and her newly wed husband, Leon (married March 28, 2015) were in Atlanta during the same time.

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We made plans to meet them at the King Center for a Family Day Adventure!  (Rachel had to work)

Our goal for the experience was to not only engage in the experience for ourselves, but especially to bring awareness and educate Mink.  But a wrench was threw in our game and she saw this before we could enter the center.

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Though Dad and Mom insisted that she continue on our quest,

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she became disengaged and disruptive to where she kept loudly repeating, “I want to go to the park!”  So Dad and GODFather Eric took her to the playground, while we continue to engage inside the center.

When Regina, Leon and Doreece decided to proceed to the Freedom Walk, I chose to go to the park to capture pictures of GrandDaughter Mink on the Playground; because she LOVES playgrounds!

While there we began talking to a nice guy, sitting at the playground, as well.  He gave us insight on how he felt it was to live in Atlanta, places to visit in Atlanta and things to do.  He told us he was at the King Center with his Son; who was playing on the playground as well.  He explained to us that his Son lived with his Mother in a different city and they had met at a midpoint from their homes in order for him to get the Son and spend the weekend with him.  “AAWW, that’s so nice,” I responded.  I was so impressed and touched to hear that they were two parents that had rose to the occasion of functioning in the best interest of the child and I told him such.  He responded by saying, “It wasn’t always like this.  We had to grow to get to this point.”  I was even more impressed and touched; their presence exemplified “parental growth.”

Of course, my response was, “Take lots of pictures; this time is PRICELESS!”  He responded, “Yeah, but my phone has died.”

OPPORTUNITY for Change; because I LOVE making memories for others!  I wanted to capture this moment for them.

I said, “Do you want me to take you guys picture?!”
He said, “Absolutely!  But how would I get it?!”
Me:  “Do you have Facebook (the quickest and easiest way to share pictures today)?!”
He:  “Yes”

He gave me his Facebook information, I sent him a friend request for him to accept, when he regained access to his phone.  We are still Facebook friends today.

Hats off to the Parents that are doing whatever it takes to parent in the best interest of the children!

Salute to Marcus Campbell and His Son’s Mother!!

About Me – My Hobby

Photography is my hobby (what I do regularly for pleasure) and has been all of my life.  Most people that know me from all walks of my life, know and remember me taking pictures. I’ve always had a passion for pictures and my camera is my American Express; “I don’t leave home without it.”  It was my greatest asset during my travel to study abroad. (Photos taken by Frances L. Murphy, PhD.)

Because I lost my parents at an early age, pictures of them were the next best thing to them existing to me.  When I would see pictures of them, I used to study them; thinking I could get to know them, if I really concentrated.  So I view pictures as opportunities to capture memories.

In most of the pictures I saw of my parents, they were standing so far back, I really could not see their faces.  It seemed to be some type of trend, (back in the black and white picture days) because it seemed as if a lot of pictures were taken that way.  Because of my challenges in seeing pictures of my parents, I prefer up close and personal; portrait photography.

The most enjoyable part of my hobby is that I do it for pleasure; so I can have my own preferences.  One of my preferences is taking family portraits, because family pathology is my passion.  Of course, my own family is my Number One target.  To let you know how they feel about it, they call me “Paparazzi!”  Anytime I walk in the door to a family event, they will say, “Oh, Paparazzi is here!”

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My ultimate focus of this Encore journey is to create and build my legacy (the value that I hand down).  I understand that it will take time and it will grow and change as I grow and change.  In my opinion, family portraits captures legacies.  The family portrait I am most honored to capture are generational pictures; 3rd Generation, 4th Generation and 5th Generation; with 3rd Generation being the most common and 5th Generation being the most challenging.

I was most THANKFUL to be able to capture a 4 Generation for My GrandDaughter Mink on her Maternal side!  Her Great GrandMother Edna King (second from the left) is currently 93 years old; she was 92 years old when this picture was taken.  I pray I am able to capture another one, now that she has grown.

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King – 4 Generation

Continuing to use my camera to capture my Encore journey, memories and building a legacy…

So when you see me, be ready to capture a memory and be a part of my legacy!!

Until next time…