Friday, February 21, 2014

Black History Month Tribute 2014

The Big Girl Chronicles:  Black History Month 2014

In pausing to review the approach I took toward this time to collectively remember and celebrate Black History Month last year, I decided that for this year in addition to digging through black history books and meditating on quotations of noteworthy African Americans I don’t have to search much further than my grandmother’s house to get an account of black life in history.   No matter who you are, the wisdom and experience of the elderly is a wealth of knowledge for anyone wanting to peer into history and learn of the struggles, ideas and accomplishments birthed from our race in this nation.

Among the most significant of memories that my grandmother has shared about her recollection of life in the past is the social unrest that was prevalent then.  Many of the things that we now only get a glimpse of in movies were everyday, commonplace occurrences that couldn’t be “cured” or banished with a click of the remote.  She has shared exactly where she was and what she was doing upon learning of assassinations of historical black leaders such as Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.  She has described the tension that resulted from those events and the effect that trickled down to life in this small town.  The conversations that were had among her peers, the churches and others who were fearful and helpless of the plight of that struggle provide new insight into the bravery men and women of that time exhibited just to continue to get up and go to work each day.  To be able to reach out and touch living history is an indescribable privilege.

It never fails.  Each time I think about the course of events that have guaranteed my freedom today I’m in awe how others can not be committed to quality education.  Can not be committed to exercising a right to vote.  Can not be committed to those things that were fought for and paid with the precious lives of those that had a vision for our race of people to be more than secondhand servants and menial laborers, but rise to their potential to share the responsibility of moving the nation forward in quality healthcare, in justice, in technology and science and every aspect of productive life.  It seems so much has been and is being taken for granted that I can’t help but wonder how our generation would fair if faced now with the same challenges that our ancestors overcame then.  How “free” would we be today?

One thing is certain.  Learning about the past creates a renewed appreciation for my now.  In healthy communities there is ease of access to housing, businesses and institutions of learning for all citizens, regardless of color.  In healthy societies we are free to love, share and communicate with our peers regardless of those things that kept us separated during the turbulence of the civil rights movement.  There might be kinks that remain and surface from time to time.  But with a healthy outlook and compare/contrast of then and now, should there be a downfall it might result more from our own self-defeating ideals and practices rather than from anyone else.  This Black History Month be sure to include the wisdom and experiences of those matriarchs in your family among the celebration and remembrance of our historical figures.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

New You, New Love and Your First VDay!!!

The Big Girl Chronicles:  New You, New Love and Your First VDay!!!

I’ll be alone on Valentine’s Day.  Again.  Yep.  For me this will be another lovers’ holiday that I’ll plant myself in front of the television with my fave snack and binge on calories and break-up movies.  The ones without the happy endings.  But wait a moment… didn’t I just start my new year off my celebrating a renewed sense of self?  So… wouldn’t it be counterproductive to shut myself inside and defeat my resolutions by soaking up calories and heartache?  If I don’t feel that I’m worth more effort than that then why should anyone else?  How about I plan to carry over my renewed sense of self and purpose for the new year with a renewed sense of self-love and self-worth?  It couldn’t hurt what I’ve already doomed to be another lonesome holiday.  So, what’s the plan?

Redefine what “it” is to you.

Valentine’s Day has long been “the day” for lovers to “love” each other.  For those of us that sit that day out, it’s more of a cruel “rub-it-in-your-face-I-have-someone-and-you-don’t” morbid kind of holiday where there are excessive displays of wasted money floating around and being delivered in cheap vases and heart-shaped boxes of diabetes and calories.   At every turn we’re met with magazine covers of couples and their “secrets” of romance and longevity in love.  Hmmm… Instead of giving this day over to those who require large sums of money be spent on them buying gaudy jewelry and other over-priced items that have retailers celebrating Christmas early each year, I’ll decide what I want VDay to be.  And I’ll begin by loving myself and the fact that my meager little pocket book will be that much richer because there was no perceived obligation to hunt for gifts and purchase cards.  Instead, I’ll plan to do a few of my favorite things.  Like cash in my frequent buyer or customer loyalty “freebies.”  Or go to a local fast food joint and quietly poke fun at all the people who spent too much on junk to afford a more sophisticated dining experience for the evening.  (I’m kidding.)  Ooo, how about I turn this into my own personal version of April Fool’s Day and send that jerk of an ex-boyfriend a “valentine” from “Belle” that just happens to get delivered while he’s cooing over his new love-interest!  (I just felt my horns growing.) Seriously though, instead of focusing on Valentine’s Day as it is traditionally celebrated, I can begin and continue my personal fete or interpretation.  And although it sounds cliché, I can learn to love myself - or rather renew the love of self - rather than expect validation that I am loved from some significant other once a year.  Get closer to who you are by journaling.  Each year you can review what you’ve learned about yourself especially from this experience. 

Focus on L-O-V-E

Have you ever thought about what love actually is?  A “feeling?”  A “relationship?”  A promise or commitment?  If you can’t quite put a staple in what love is for you, then how can you expect to discern genuine love from another?  In fact, I think I’ve been doing it wrong.  I’ve been depending on my partner at the time to “make me feel” loved.  And although that has happened, the success rate for relationships built upon the “feel” foundation has been ZERO.  I do know how I treat others that I love.  The concern that I have for them.  The things that aren’t necessary but things I do just to give that extra something – not only on special days or occasions either, but throughout the year.  The language that I use.  So… how do I love myself?  And how good am I at doing it?  How do I make myself feel?  What value do I place on myself?  Am I committed to becoming the best person I am capable of being?  In keeping with my goals and standards, do I say to myself “you didn’t achieve all your goals from last year so you might as well save yourself the disappointment and ditch those resolutions” or “with just a little more effort you can get a few more goals from last year accomplished along with this year?”  Loving myself doesn’t always mean bailing myself out, just as I wouldn’t let a loved one off so easy.  Would you forsake your health goals if you love yourself?  Or would you want to be the healthiest you possible?  Taking into consideration how you express love toward others and applying that to how you show and give love to yourself could be key to renewing your love of self.  You could also incidentally become a better partner to someone else because you have a renewed love and value of self rather than depending upon someone else to fill your emotional deficits.  Give it a try this VDay.  Make it instead all about how you show love for yourself.   

Although some of my thoughts might come across a little “salty,” the point is that there is no one who can love you better than you. So, Congratulations!  You just spent your first VDay loving and appreciating you rather than participating in a parade of emotional co-dependents.  And though you might find yourself among the singles for this couple’s day, that doesn’t take away from your identity or self-worth.  As a matter of fact, your character is that much stronger.  And as much as I wish the best for you as we brave this VDay alone, these comments become null and void if I find a sweetheart before you to spend my couple’s day with. 

Good luck!