Happy Birthday! GOD-Given Valentine!

As suggested by Random Acts of Kindness to acknowledge people who I am most grateful for having in my life (I call them My GOD-Given Family), I am posting Thank You Notes to them on their Birthdays.

Today I want to acknowledge my first GrandChild and my ONLY GrandDaughter
DeYani Danielle Lawrence
(affectionately called Mink)
on her 5th Birthday!

The way I see it, because I am able to demonstrate the veracity of my faith in GOD by maintaining a Single Self-Loving Life, GOD BLESSED me with the
SWEETEST Valentine’s Gift Ever –
My First GrandChild born on Valentine’s Day!

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Every year on her birthday, I am MOST GRATEFUL My Valentine for her!

I was fortunate to be able to attend her first three (3) birthday celebrations.

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1st Birthday

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2nd Birthday

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3rd Birthday

I’ve been living away from her since October, 2015; so I wasn’t able to attend her 4th Birthday and I won’t be able to attend her 5th Birthday.

Since I’ve been living away, our family has found ways to consistently communicate.  We use a Family GroupMe to text all the adult members of our family.   My Son, also, introduced us to the Marco Polo App, which allows us to communicate via video messages.  My GrandDaughter has her own iPad; that she’s had since she was about a year old.  My Son and Daughter-In-Law loaded FaceTime on her iPad and she has learned to independently FaceTime me.

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2 years old with her iPad

 I can not remember the exact source, but I read about a Valentine celebration tradition suggestion on the internet; to make Valentine hearts for your children, write positive affirmations about them and post one a day on their bedroom door.  It’s called an Affirmation Door.  I thought, “Oh, this will be a great idea for my GrandDaughter Mink; since her birthday is on Valentine’s Day!”

I went out and bought all of the necessary supplies to make Valentine Hearts to mail to her daily.  I began mailing them to her in order for her to receive the first one on February 01.  Each time she received one my Daughter-In-Law would make a Marco Polo video of her response.  The first one she received, she was excitedly jumping around with the envelope in her hand saying, “Hey Magogo, I have my letter sent from you!  I LOVE IT!”  After she had received about four, she FaceTimed me and said, “I have something to show you!”  She showed the hearts on her bedroom door.  She was loving it!

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This is not her door; this is an example from Mama Drama

I was doing good until we (in Sacramento) had a very rainy week and it literally rained really hard for a week!  When it came time for me to walk to the mailbox, I was like, “I am not about to walk in that rain!”  So, I didn’t go for a few days.

The first day Mink did not receive a heart in the mail, she immediately FaceTimed me.  As soon as I connected with her she said, “Magogo, where is my heart?!”  Now, I did not tell her I was sending her a heart every day, but apparently she came to that conclusion after receiving one everyday.

After evaluating my efforts and her responses, I have decided to implement this Valentine’s Day Tradition for her every year!  Even though, I fell off on my consistency for this year, I plan to get better and better each year!

Today I want to THANK My Valentine… 

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…for BLESSING me with the SWEETEST Valentine’s Gift Ever!

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The Gift that Keeps on Giving!

The Best LOVE

One of my greatest gifts is SELF LOVE!  I don’t know how I obtained it, but when I look back I realize I’ve always had it.  I’m thinking it came from me losing my parents at a young age and not feeling loved.  I’m guessing I knew I was my only choice for love and I deserved to be happy; whether I was in a relationship or not.  I’ve come to learn that the foundation of any relationship is SELF LOVE!

Most of my life I’ve had a long time relationship with myself and my single status does not determine my self-worth.  It has allowed me to develop a healthy romance for life.

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I’ve imagined what type of person I would want to be in a relationship with and I function as that person to myself.  As a matter of fact, I’ve grown to LOVE my own company and am very good to myself!  I am able to go to the movies alone.  I am able to eat out at a restaurant alone.  I am able to attend events alone.  Not only am I able to do these things alone, I’ve come to LOVE it!

Functioning alone makes life easy like Sunday Morning!  To many times people place the needs of others before their own and view themselves through the eyes and opinions of others.  The personal growth of appreciating self is imperative in order to learn to appreciate others.  I make a conscious effort on a consistent base to care about ME!  It’s called Self-Care.

Life Lesson:  

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If you have not discovered SELF LOVE,
you are not fit to enter a relationship with anyone else!

Take out time to CARE and LOVE YOURSELF!

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 In light of Valentine’s Day, I THANK GOD that I maintain the ability to LOVE ME!
Everyday is Valentines Day for ME!

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Happy Birthday! GOD-Given Niece

As suggested by Random Acts of Kindness to acknowledge people who I am most grateful for having in my life (I call them My GOD-Given Family), I am posting Thank You Notes to them on their Birthdays.

Today I want to acknowledge someone who is not blood-related to me, but has grown and lived in my life as a Niece; Jasmine Nicole Nauls (affectionately called Jazz)
on her 28th Birthday!

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With Her Dog, Laila

Jasmine is the Daughter of My Long-time and Good, Good GirlFriend, Ellen Hartley-Nauls.  We have been friends with since 7th Grade at Hughes-Quinn Junior High School; which makes her my GOD-Given Sister and Jazz, my GOD-Given Niece!

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at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas

We are Sisters in the Greek World;
Jazz is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
I am a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.;
which displays our individual uniqueness and does not disturb our love.

 

Jazz,  On your birthday I want to tell you how grateful I am to have you in my life.  Thank you for being who you are!

I am most inspired by your ability to not only find your passion, but to follow it!  Your patience and determination gives me the impression that you have accepted the never-ending cycle of self-discovery and self-creation.  Knowing that I was 33 years old before I realized the importance of this journey, 46 years old before I obtained the courage to embrace this journey and to see you jump right into it at a young age is both mind-blowing and inspirational to me.

As I watch the way you care for Laila, I know you will be an even GREATER Mother to your children one day!  It was confirmation that you had the “midas touch,” when you were one of the few people my GrandDaughter Mink would come to; even though it was her first time meeting you.

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Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

 

Your Mother and I made you and my Son, GODSiblings and it touches my heart to see your relationship grow into a real kinship.  I do not take it personal, whenever I tell Magic anything about the Nauls, what we have planned with the Nauls or what to know about the Nauls and he ALWAYS call you for confirmation.  I smile to myself, when he follows up with me saying, “Well, I talked to Jazz and she said…”

Because Magic is an only child, I have always worried about him maintaining a healthy support system.  I am grateful to know that when I am no longer around, he has a Sister in you!  I am most proud for my GrandChildren; especially my GrandDaughter to have you in their village as another promising woman!

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THANK YOU for being in Our GOD-Given Family!

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Life is a Boomerang

In the family culture I was raised in, children were treated as property, taught to value power and control and respect was demanded.  Though I’ve learned children are not in equal status in this game of life, they are equal in being worthy of honor and respect.  I believe being raised in this type of a family culture limited my human rights.  My self worth was damaged, my critical thinking was obstructed and I lost true respect for the adults in my family.

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So when by my Uncle found himself saying to me (as an adult), “I am just as old of you today as I was the day you were born;” should have been a clear indication to him that our relationship was in trouble.  It is my opinion that his statement meant that though I may have been an adult, he still considered me to be a child and I should respect him as one.  He felt I should stand down to him; simply because he was older than me.  I found his statement to be very disrespectful.

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I was taught it was a right for an adult to disrespect a child.  I’ve come to learn that giving respect to others require self control and respect is a two-way street.  I believe the most powerful tool in teaching children respect, is being respectful in how you treat others; especially them.  As an adult, guided by my natural instinct “to be the change I wanted to see,” it was imperative for me to show respect to not only my Son, but all other children.

Because of my belief and practice “to treat people the way I want to be treated,”  I’ve always been that person who children felt comfortable being around, was worthy enough to trust and trusting enough to.

I’ve come to learn a key element to a healthy family is mutual respect; being able to treat another person in the manner that you want that person to treat you.  If you want respect from a person, you must give respect to that person.  I believe the respect I have for children; especially my Son was instrumental in them feeling understood, valued, powerful and loved.

A sign of breaking an unhealthy family cycle is seeing my Son exhibiting,
encouraging and reinforcing mutual respect with his children.

 

Life Lesson:

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Happy Birthday! GOD-Given Uncle

Remember this year, as suggested by Random Acts of Kindness, I will be acknowledging people who I am most grateful for having in my life (I call them My GOD-Given Family) by posting Thank You Note to them on their Birthdays.

Today I want to acknowledge another blood-related Maternal First Cousin, 1x removed, George Cary Jackson, Jr.
on his 85th Birthday!

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in Chicago, IL

Though he was born into my life as a Cousin, he has lived in my life as an Uncle; which is why I consider him to be My GOD-Given Uncle!

 Uncle George,  On your birthday I want to tell you how grateful I am to have you in my life.  Thank you for being who you are!

I am most inspired by your determination to go to college and pursue your Bachelor degree in your later years.  You were one of my inspirations to do the same!  I really connected with you, when you shared your mistake in pursing your degree with a focus “to make money” instead of “following your passion.”  You now know that you should have been a Counselor.  I can tell you today, you were a Counselor for me and want to THANK YOU for being so!  I will always treasure all of the conversations we’ve shared and your honesty earned the utmost respect for you!

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I was honored to watch My GrandDaughter Mink get to know you and build a foundation of who you are in our Family.  It touched my heart to see her go from being shy and scared, when you spoke to her to her going into your room to talk to you.  The times when she did not see you and ask, “Where is Uncle George?!”

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Uncle George and GrandDaughter Mink

From you to her is four (4) generations

THANK YOU for being Our GOD-Given Uncle!

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Happy Birthday! GOD-Given Niece

Today I want to acknowledge my blood-related Maternal First Cousin, 1x removed, Elizabeth Kayla Williams
on her 31st Birthday!

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Kayla, Her Mother Felicia and I

Kayla has grown in my life like a Niece; which makes her My GOD-Given Niece.  As a child, she appeared to be quiet and shy.  Today she is a confident and driven woman!

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Kayla,  On your birthday I want to tell you how grateful I am to have you in my life.  Thank you for being who you are!

I am mostly inspired by your resourcefulness to get things done!

When you believe it, you achieve it!

I’ll never forget how you came to my rescue when I had purchased Six Flags Season tickets in the wrong location.  You had that problem resolved in a snap!!

 

You’ve touched my heart when I’ve witnessed you display your ability to

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You are a classic example of the South African saying,

“Wathint Abafazi, Wathint Imbokodo;” which means

 

I’ll always remember all of our family gatherings, where we’ve analyzed the past, discussed the present and prepared for the future!  Though we are currently living 11 hours apart, you’re ALWAYS in my heart!  I want you to know that

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in Phoenix, Arizona

 

 

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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