Life is a series of lessons in learning to embody who we really are. And we will learn…whether we choose to learn from joy or from pain.—
Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) August 05, 2011
"It's not what you know, it's what you use that makes a difference" – Zig Ziglar—
BruceLeeEyes (@bruceleeeyes) May 15, 2011
Yes, really. I’ve been called that because I am a single mother. I know people are trying to be complimentary and I know what they mean. Thank you.
Humbly speaking, I only have one child! When I think about the women with 2+ kids, I have one thing to say, “GOD BLESS YOU GIRLFRIEND!”
I knew my limitations, that’s why I stopped at one! My cousin once asked me, “Well, don’t you think Joseph needs a playmate?”
I said, “He’ll be alright!” LOL
Yes, I CAN RAISE JOSEPH ON MY OWN….YES, I AM EMPOWERED. YES, I CAN MAKE A SEEMINGLY NEGATIVE SITUATION AND TURN IT INTO SOMETHING POSITIVE. I CAN DO ALL OF THAT—
However, I must say this. If I could snap my fingers, RIGHT NOW, and there would be a loving husband by my side and a loving “father” for Joseph helping to raise him, I would get to snappin’! Do you know why? It’s how I was raised. I remember the stability I felt of having both of my parents around. My mom would be so tired after she got off of work, so my sister and I would look forward to dad coming home because at least he would play with us! LOL
My dad was the fun one that would always play with us-mom didn’t want to be “bothered”! I can laugh at that now, because I GET IT! Sometimes, ya just want to be left alone! Then when my dad wanted a break, my mom would take us shopping and to movie matinees. Then there would be those special occasions when we would all go out together as a family! Did your mom and dad have that “talk” with you too before you went out on a public outing?
“Now listen up, ya’ll better act like you were raised with some decency and mind your manners!”
I SO GET IT NOW!
I find myself being tired a lot and my days are long. Right now, I am able to get this blog post in because Joseph is taking a nap! When Joseph was just a baby, I would look like I had ten piece luggage under my eyes because he NEVER slept through the night. Do you know what else? I had the BIGGEST WIG COLLECTION IMAGINABLE because at least I could spare the two minutes it would take to put on a wig and have a good hair day with some decency instead of looking like I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed!
When Joseph would take a nap during the day, my sister would encourage me to take a nap while he was napping and I would look at her like she was CRAZY!
Nap?! Who has time for that? I still have laundry I have to do, paperwork, I have cleaning to do, phone calls to make, etc.
My sister would say, “Okay, I’m just trying to help!” I knew she was right, so I started taking naps after awhile. I felt better for it.
I’m working on balancing being a single mother with just being Christina because I was Christina before I was Joseph’s mom. I know there are many mothers out there who want to give and give to their kids. I get it. I do too. While I am in the process of making positive changes in all areas of my life, my challenge is still finding that harmonious balance between giving to myself, Joseph and others.
Even “superwoman” needs help sometimes….
The reason why I ask, “Who is in your inner circle?” is because it can make a huge difference between EXISTING in life or really LIVING life!
From the ages of 19-27 years old, I was involved in an abusive relationship. Sometimes it was physically abusive, but MOST of the time it was emotionally and verbally abusive. During the course of the relationship, I slowly stopped listening to my inner voice. I became estranged from my family. I walked away from the person who I was becoming for myself, into the person he wanted me to become for him. I completely lost myself.
After I got out, I didn’t know who I was. I had lost all sense of empowerment. I felt victimized. I spent most of my time with people who felt the same way.
As time went on, I felt stronger mentally and emotionally, however, the people I had been spending most of my time with were still stuck in personal intimate relationships that weren’t fulfilling or had some level of abuse associated with it. As much as I loved them, I slowly started to spend less time with them, in order to continue on my path of self-growth I saw ahead of me. I knew I had to continue on my journey.
My relationship with my immediate family became strong again, especially with my sister. She had been working on her self-growth and re-connecting with the person she knew she could be too. That was when she introduced me to a very special person by the name of George Ramirez. It was 2008. She told me that George was a “V.I.P.” She went on to talk about all of his accolades, which included being published in 17 books and a featured expert in three movies. Even with an impressive resume and stature such as this, he was still very down to earth! Well of course I just had to meet him. I got my opportunity when I was invited to attend one of his personalized coaching programs called, “Present with Purpose”. My sister and I attended this class together and after that, I was never the same.
During the class we were surrounded by prosperity and individuals who already had successful profitable businesses. I had NEVER before come into contact with these types of individuals. There were only six in attendance including Angela and me, however, the balance between intimacy and professionalism was to perfection. This was one of the things that really stood out to me and made a huge impact on me as well.
One of the gentlemen who was attending class, had started a business at 12 years old and sold it for over one million dollars! It opened my eyes up and made me think more about what I was doing with my life and I wanted to live my purpose. I realized I had been playing it “small”. George asked me the question, openly in class, “What is your purpose?”. He had to ask because once he knew the answer, he could show me how to “Present MYSELF with Purpose”. I knew at that point I wanted to help women, mothers and children. I just didn’t know HOW AND IN WHAT MANNER I was going to do it. George was there to give me guidance on how to live “it”, speak “it” and tell others about “it”.
I walked away from this experience ready to live my purpose, dammit! I was on fire, I was motivated….then life got in the “way”. I am so grateful and thankful that George was there for me as my coach and mentor, while I was taking steps towards my new goals. He helped me to stay focused and led by example. He walks the “talk”! He actually lives what he teaches.
He believed, at times, more in what I was doing than I did. So much so that he donated a $1000 scholarship to my fundraiser so that I could attend his coaching event held in Northern California called “The Miracle in the Mirror” back in May 2010.
My dad used to tell me, if you WANT to learn Chinese…hang out with people who speak Chinese. Well, I am speaking “Chinese” now thanks to George! LOL
He has been my coach and mentor since 2008. I don’t know for certain if I would have had the bravery and wherewithal to pursue writing my first children’s book, “My Choice” and share it with the world if he weren’t a part of my inner circle.
You know how the saying goes…”Birds of a feather, flock together”?
Well, if you see your “plumage” turning into an eagle’s, go fly with other eagles. You’ll be glad that you did!
So, who’s in your inner circle?
While I am truly grateful that my father was present in my daily life throughout my ENTIRE childhood until the present time, my father CAN’T SAY THE SAME in regards to HIS FATHER.
My father’s father, whom I HAVE NEVER MET, left for “work” one day and never came back. My dad was 10 years old. There were “sightings” of him around the neighborhood. However, he still COMPLETELY walked away from his responsibilities to his children. My dad has painful memories about this. You should see the look in his eyes when he talks about his dad. Well, back in those times, women were generally housewives and stay-at-home mothers. So when his dad left, they fell into poverty. He has memories of his mother never quite being the same emotionally. It was like all the “life” and happiness got sucked out of her. There were times when my dad and the rest of his siblings (5 total) would go without eating. They would make ketchup sandwiches. My dad told me of one time he got so hungry he cut out a picture of food and ate it.
My mother on the other hand, grew up being raised by both of her parents. When my father would go to my mother’s house back in those days, he would look at her father as a role model and address him with the utmost of respect. When my dad asked for my mother’s hand in marriage he vowed that he would love her and always be by her side and their future children’s as well. My father SWORE he would NEVER have his kids or his wife go through what he went through. He knew it with every fiber of his being. He decided. He declared it out loud. He CHOSE IT and it was so.
Well, HE KEPT HIS PROMISE TO MY MOTHER AND TO US. We never went hungry. He was a protector and a provider. He WAS THE MAN OF THE HOUSE and he always got the BIG PIECE OF CHICKEN! LOL
My dad is still “the man” and still running things, even from his wheelchair, okay! Still looking out for his family. That’s my dad!
Anyhow, my dad could’ve repeated the same pattern that his father modeled for him as a child, but he CHOSE OTHERWISE. THERE’S ALWAYS A CHOICE. Awareness of this power and utilization of this power is so awesome! Once you become aware, you must take RESPONSIBILITY for the choices YOU make. So there’s no blame, however, a question will remain: Did the CHOICE YOU MAKE serve you well?
You know what’s interesting?
My son’s father was raised by a single mother and I was raised by both my parents. Do you see the parallel? According to my son’s father, he believes his mother never got over the separation with his dad. When we got together he told me that he didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes as his father and he wanted to be a better father than his father. My father would counsel him on how to stand up and be a better father, a better man. Just like my grandpa did with my dad years ago.
I thought it was a pretty interesting observation myself.
You don’t need me to tell you what happens next because you know how the story ends….
If “he” only knew….THERE’S ALWAYS A CHOICE.
Fatherhood is special when that father CHOOSES to allow and embrace it. When I write these words, I speak from personal experience…through the eyes of my father.
My dad loves my mother so much. They love each other! Now that we are grown, he tells us, his children, about how he knew mom was “THE ONE”. They grew up in the projects together in Alameda. During that time, everyone knew each other and the children in the neighborhood played together. The look he gets in his eye when he talks about the time when mom was in her pre-teens and she came to his house with a fresh baked pie for his family…priceless. He KNEW she was special! I love those stories. Well the rest is history cause me, my sister and brother are now on the scene, so you know what happened! My parents have been married for close to 40 years.
When we were growing up our dad was very nurturing. He played with us and he was always SO PROUD OF US and he would let everyone know! He would take me and my sister for walks and put flowers in our hair and tell us we were special. Dad even got us a dog against mom’s wishes. He was brave for that one! What fun that was!
Back in September 2009, my dad was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Our family came together to support him in his healing and it is making us closer than ever. My dad is so strong even though he has lost so much weight and he can’t talk or move without assistance. Do you know that he uses this special communication board to tell us about his wants and desires? He surprised me with a gift for mother’s day! Of course, my sister got it for me, but the point is that’s my dad, still showing me love.
I had experienced some financial challenges for a time and even though my dad is convalescing, he is STILL offering money to help buy Joseph (my 5-year old son) clothes and food.
Since my father has always done special things for me and still does, I decided to do something special for him too. I commissioned an artist, from the Bay Area, named “Tucky” to paint a one-of-a-kind painting of my parents together in perfect health in the Napa Valley. I wanted to encourage my dad during his healing process and my mom as well.
The artist, Tucky, wanted to blog about his experience of when I first contacted him, check it out:
The picture to the left is the final sketch!
If you’ve read my previous posts then you know that because I knew what it was like to grow up with my father as a constant, loving presence in my life, I had NO reference point of what growing up WITHOUT a father would be like. It was just BEYOND my understanding and comprehension that a father wouldn’t want to be a part of their child’s life. Simply inconceivable!
Well, that’s why I’ve started this journey of healing and self-growth because there are fathers out “there” like that and Joseph’s father is one of those people. This is why I felt a strong sense of purpose as I was writing “My Choice”. There are fathers that CHOOSE to not be a part of their child’s life, for whatever reasons. I’m sure there are many and they BELIEVE that their reasons are justified, valid and therefore—THEIR REALITY. How do you explain an absentee father to your child? How do you deal with the feelings you are having inside of yourself as a mother? It’s time to open the door and talk about it. It’s time to heal.
There’s no point in making “them” WRONG. I don’t have to do that. Everyone has a harvest that they will reap. They will reap the harvest of the CHOICES they make.
Just as it is MY CHOICE to do this:
I CHOOSE TO FEEL CALM AND COMPLETE, MAKING THE BEST OF EACH MOMENT AS IT IS.
I CHOOSE TO LOVE MYSELF NOW, WITHOUT WAITING FOR ANY OTHER PERSON, THING OR CIRCUMSTANCE.
May the CHOICES YOU MAKE serve you well.
PASS IT ON….
Has this ever happened to you? When you were a kid, you may have started complaining about what other kids had and the fact that you needed to have it too. Then your mother said, “Be grateful for what you do have. There are lots of kids out there that would love to have what you have!”
I used to hear that soooo many times when I was a kid. However, as an adult, I TRULY GET IT now! I am so grateful for all that I am and all that I have. Having a grateful attitude can really help you retain a positive outlook in all situations in life. For instance, when it comes to my my son’s father being absent in his life, I CAN find gratitude in that situation. You may wonder, “How is that possible?!” I will tell you.
Had it not been for his absenteeism, I wouldn’t have this wonderful, empowering story to share with others in a situation like mine. The way and manner in which he walked out of his son’s life opened the door of OPPORTUNITY to healing.
AGAIN, IT’S ALL IN HOW YOU LOOK AT IT. PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING.
In the beginning, it felt ugly, disheartening, confusing, angering—all of those things. I was so enraged by “his” behavior because I was raised by BOTH of my parents. What kind of person would just walk out on their kid, I wondered. My parents are STILL HAPPILY MARRIED. So, I grew up seeing what a loving, faithful relationship was like between a man and a woman. I wanted that for my son too.
As I stated, earlier, our relationship was built on a shaky foundation, so it was bound to fail. I didn’t see it then, but I CAN SEE that NOW, looking back. Part of the healing process for me HAD TO INCLUDE FORGIVING MYSELF. Forgive myself for what, you say?
So since he ended up being an absentee father that walked out on his responsibilities and his son, that makes me wrong for picking him, right? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Joseph was planned. I called “him” one fateful day in June 2004 and said, “Do you want to come over and make a baby?” He said, “I’ll be right over!” So, you see? I CHOSE HIM. It was a CONSCIOUS DECISION. I KNEW what type of person he was when I met him and what his life was like. Well, then what type of person does that make me?
A GOOD ONE! I WAS THEN AND I AM NOW!
There are no victims here. We were both consenting adults. If I blame him for anything negative that has happened because of his absenteeism, such as financial difficulties and childcare difficulties, then I give my OWN power away. That makes him responsible for my happiness and my well being. I AM a perfectly capable adult that can handle any situation that arises during the day…WHEN I CHOSE EMPOWERMENT OVER VICTIMHOOD.
For crying out loud, I gave birth, naturally, to an 8 pound 2 ounce boy, what can’t I do? (What an adventure that was! I’ll save that tale for another time-)
So with lots of gratitude, I give thanks to Joseph’s father for all of the seemingly negative experiences that lead up to this moment. If it weren’t for those experiences, I wouldn’t have a testimony. Had it not been for those experiences, I wouldn’t KNOW MY OWN POWER. Had it not been for those experiences, maybe I wouldn’t have a story to share with the world. Had it not been for those experiences, I wouldn’t know I could be so resilient. Had it not been for those experiences, maybe there wouldn’t have been self-growth and healing. Had it not been for him…I wouldn’t have been blessed with my son JOSEPH!
Joseph’s mother empowers him by telling him about the "power of choice" he possesses. With this new information, he realizes that he can still love his father, speak good things about him and still be happy, despite the fact that he doesn’t like, understand or agree with his father’s choices. Everyone possesses the "power of choice", but it’s up to them to utilize it. The story is written from Joseph’s perspective to help other children grappling with the same emotions.
This book is very near and dear to my heart because "Joseph" is my son.
I had heard about the harmful repercussions of speaking disparaging words about a child’s father in front of the child. So I NEVER did that. However, if my son was in the room and somebody said something nice about his father, I would remain silent, because I couldn’t think of anything nice to say. Or, if somebody said Joseph looked just like his dad, I would say, “No he doesn’t. He looks like me.”
There was a picture of Joseph’s father that I had hanging on the wall and I took it down! Then my sister told me, children can pick up nonverbal cues about what you’re feeling. He’s observing what you’re NOT saying about his father. That is so true because one day, I found
the picture I had taken down, tacked back up on the wall. Joseph had put it there!
This was eye opening for me, I realized that I was too consumed by anger. I knew that I wanted to deal with this situation in a positive way however, I was still so mad, I couldn’t think of anything positive to say about Joseph’s father. I just couldn’t find the words. But I couldn’t allow this whole thing to take me out. My child was watching me. I HAD TO find the words to talk to my son about his father not being around. I searched for children’s books about absentee fathers on the internet. However, I couldn’t find anything that fit our particular situation. There was a book about a child dealing with divorce. There was one where the parents weren’t living together anymore but those two situations didn’t address what happened in Joseph’s case.
So I just started reading everything I could get my hands on. For starters, “The Complete Single Mother” by Dr. Leah Klungness & Andrea Engber. Since, by all appearances, I had to start thinking like a single parent, I needed to hear from other single mothers that raised their kids “successfully” on their own. I could not look to my own mother because she had my father and my mother’s mother had her husband to help raise my mother. This book allowed me to look at being a M.O.M (Mother Outside of Marriage) as a beautiful thing. It also allowed me to accept the situation I was in. It didn’t have to be this shameful thing that society tends to label single motherhood as being. There was even a “partnership with self” contract in the book that you could write out for yourself to encourage yourself as a single parent. You don’t have to be the mother and father, but the best PARENT you can be. This was the first positive step for me towards the direction of healing. Before this book, I had never heard of single motherhood spoken of in this manner before.
Next, I read "Dreams from My Father" by Barack Obama. Politics aside, I’d say the President did pretty well for himself, even though his father wasn’t present for virtually his whole life. I wanted to know how his mother handled that situation. What did she say to Barack when he asked about his father? One of the things that I walked away with after reading the book was the fact that his mother ALWAYS spoke good things about his father. ALWAYS. So I knew that’s what I needed to do too.
The next book I read was by Lisa Nichols called, "No Matter What". She was a single mother of one son too. She talked about how she handled the issues of her son’s father being absent in his life and how she had to find positive ways of explaining to her son about some of the choices his father was making that landed him in legal trouble. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone. She showed such dignity and grace. Additionally, she still pursued her dreams in life. That’s a wonderful action to model for your child.
Another book, I read was by Louise Hay, "I Can Do It – How to use affirmations to change your life". She talks about how everyone always has the freedom to choose how they want to respond in any given situation. For instance, nobody can “push” your buttons unless you allow them to do it. They weren’t the ones who created those "buttons". When it comes to forgiveness, it isn’t about the other person. It’s about you. It allows you to heal yourself so that you can move on. It doesn’t matter what the other person did. Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself.
With all of this new knowledge, awareness and healing, I was inspired to write a children’s book that would give mothers just like me a voice. I wanted to give them positive encouraging words to help empower their children in a situation where their father is absent in their lives. That’s when "My Choice" came to life.
I believe "My Choice" will highlight the fact that an absentee father DOES NOT have to be a negative or a crutch that the child leans on all through life. I’ve seen it happen so many times before when the child’s mother can’t get past what the father has done. Believe me, I GET IT. However justified you may be, we’ve got to be the leaders for our children and show them how to get past it.
My passion is to see this book get published and make sure it is available to as many inner city kids and libraries all over the country as possible. Learning this new information opened my eyes and raised my level of awareness. I feel so much better and empowered. Joseph does too. He is such a happy child. I want to pass on what I’ve learned in a positive way.
It is my opinion that if this information is given to children at an early age and it is reinforced, it will empower each child to learn how to “drive” their lives, and not let the circumstances of their lives, drive them.
I launched an online fundraiser to help raise funds to get the book published and distributed around the country-check it out at:
**A word and thought, albeit a lengthy one, from the desk of your favorite authoress…