I have some questions for you to think about and then answer….
What and who is most important in your life?
How much time are you investing in those things and people?
When you look at how your time is invested each day, how much is steered towards your professional goals and how much is nestled in living out your personal dreams?
I see that too much of my time is wading in professional water. Even my dreams somehow are tied to my professional life. What in the world! Here’s a few things that I see myself missing out on if I don’t stop the madness now…
For those of you who don’t know me intimately, I’m a foodie and I enjoy cooking. Many people who follow me on Instagram get a kick out of seeing what meals I’ve posted. I’ve been slacking on those posts, mostly out of respect to the current social and political climate plaguing the U.S. But I do intend to return to food posting soon, so you can stop asking me [*smile*].
Now let’s get back to the food….I know that I’m worn out (from work and life) when the last thing I want to do is cook. I know that the last place I need to be turning toward is a restaurant, and especially a fast food restaurant. But there are times when I just cave in and say, “oh well“.
Here’s the thing, if I have those moments now, how will it be when my companies really have growth? How will it be when I have one or more little children crawling and then running around?
I want some flexibility in my days so that I have a desire to get in the kitchen and whip up greatness. I’m no joke in the kitchen!
I want some flexibility to enjoy my workout times, and not feel rushed to cram in a quick session that shows little to no results on my body (that’s used to intense workouts). My best workouts should not surface when I’m on a retreat or mini vacation. That’s just ridiculous!
I want some flexibility to sit down with a good book and get carried away by the author’s writing. Can a sista just have a Calgon moment in the tub with her book and some beautifully-scented candles? Come on now, really?!?
I love spending time with my family. I’m a huge family person. I enjoy taking trips to the states where many of closest family members live, and spending quality time with them. I look at my family and all of those amazing feelings that I get are the same ones I want to fill my home with.
I want to be an engaged mother like my mother was. We didn’t have to be overly concerned with the performance of the schools that I attended (like many parents are now), because my mom and dad were extremely active educators of their children. They didn’t leave the job for the school teachers, they worked hand-in-hand with the school.
Please don’t take this as an attack against today’s parents. I’m just telling you how I was raised, and how my sister (roughly 15 years my junior) was also raised.
My mom taught me how to read at the age of two, she created a learning environment for me at home, at my dad’s office, and anywhere we went. My parents planted, watered, and nurtured the seeds within me. That’s the kind of parent I want to be. That’s all I’m saying. So put down your virtual daggers, you hyper-sensitive parents out there!
My Family Legacy…My Look Within To See Myself
Looking at all sides of my family (maternal and paternal), I’ve been reflecting on the past and present, and wondering about the future. I’ve always had the most thrilling time when visiting with my great-grandparents and grandparents, and now in my adult years, my grandmothers (since the greats and the grandfathers have passed).
Paternal Family Line
My paternal grandmother, Dorrisene, just passed away a few weeks ago, and her funeral was held on the anniversary day of my father’s passing. She walked this earth for 81 amazing years. She used to be an entrepreneur for over 20 years, a super sharp real estate broker, and then she shifted her career and focused on church ministry (on various levels). She was a public speaker and a published author (with her writings found in the Christian Science Journal, some of which were translated into other languages). My grandmother continued serving through the church (although modified in later years) all the way until her last day breathing in this physical realm.
At my grandmother’s funeral the other week, I was reminded (by a comment someone made) about how my family had to learn how to share her with members of the church and those in the community that she served and prayed for, as her phone would ring throughout the day and night–with callers on the other end asking for prayer and guidance.
I’m not sure how my grandmother juggled mothering 7 children, being the partner to her husband, and balancing her career. But she did it and did it remarkably well, and without complaints. She used to travel a great deal, but I know that over the past 20 years she really wanted to travel more. She loved her freedom and sense of independence. I loved taking drives along Pacific Coast Highway with her as we both oohed and aahed over the crashing waves, and how the light from the sun glistened over the water. Today I sit back and look at the water from the beach and I smile, thinking of my beloved grandmother, my “Mama”.
Today, for me, is a reflection about the life and legacy of my beloved family members, paternal and maternal. By looking at them I see myself.
My father passed from a heart attack at age 48, after working out at the gym for two hours. He was the pure definition of a workaholic. An entrepreneur that never took a vacation during his entire adult life.
Every exciting trip he took was tied to business, and I can only recall one family trip, to Las Vegas, and my mom had to pry him out of the hotel room to chaperone me at the arcade, and to go to dinner with us. He was too busy in the room, on business calls, and what else? Working! As long as he had room service and a television to watch football or basketball, my dad was good to go. He could focus on work and scream occasionally at the television like he was the team coach.
Dad promised us family trips, that never happened. The Bahamas, Walt Disney World (for my sister), trips throughout Africa and Europe. We never went as a family. In 2001, he planned a 2002 trip to Brazil for the two of us, so he could finally let loose and be free during Carnival–that trip never happened. He passed away a few months after he made this huge announcement. I’m not upset that we didn’t take the trips. I’m saddened that his dreams were cut short, right when he was getting ready to set sail.
My paternal family is made up of work horses—driven, competitive, and more career-focused than play-focused. They work hard but I don’t see them taking much-needed breaks to play or even to just unwind.
My paternal grandfather, Robert (aka “Jim” by his kids, for some strange reason), passed away around the age of 51. My grandfather passed the day after saying he was going to “slow down and relax more”. He was in the hospital due to a heart attack and had plans to relax and enjoy the simple things in life, but never made it out of the hospital. He too was an entrepreneur who just couldn’t seem to slow down and enjoy the beauty within this world. After serving more than 20 years in the Air Force, you think he would have slowed down some, but nope.
Two of my dad’s six siblings also passed at young ages, and the surviving four are left behind to live life as fully as they allow themselves to live. My aunt Cheryl, a lawyer, passed away in her thirties after working out at the gym. She passed before having children (unless you count she and her husband’s dogs, “Ash” and “Obadiah”) and before really getting her feet wet in life.
My uncle Ricardo (we call him “Ricky”), was a tech genius that helped keep IT running strong at the college where he worked. He was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia (that he had overlooked because he was working too hard to slow down and go to the doctor), and upon release the hospital didn’t tell him he wasn’t capable of walking (because of the medicine they gave him), so while unsupervised he fell and this fall caused a domino effect that landed him in the ICU with a stroke (and mini heart attacks), and years later (and at least two long-term care facilities after) my uncle, with limited verbal and physical capacity–who just wanted to leave the hospital and go home—passed away. This is the same uncle who was engaged to be married, was planning elaborate trips with his fiancé, and enjoyed the getaways that they shared several times per year. But he passed, not fully living as he had dreamed.
Maternal Family Line
I look at my maternal family line, and my grandfather, Elisberry (his grandchildren called him “Poppa” and everyone else called him “E.L.”) passed from an asthma attack he waited too long to treat (after doing someone a favor by doing work at their property). He worked over 40 years for Ford through Fred Jones Ford, before retiring, and rewiring to a new, daily routine.
My maternal grandmother, Maxine, also in her 80s (and the senior of the two grandmothers) is fighting with Alzheimer’s disease while dealing with a medical issue that has her in a care facility while she heals. My Mamacine (as her grandchildren and great-grandchildren call her) was an entrepreneur for over 40 years and retired too soon in my opinion, and from what I heard, in her opinion too!
She retired with the hope of traveling more. She traveled quite a bit before retirement (mostly for church, family reunions, and NAACP events), but she wanted to go to Hawaii and other exotic places for leisure. She never made those trips. I won’t say it’s impossible now, but it’s probably not wise for us to make that attempt at this stage in her Alzheimer’s battle. So for her most recent birthday we decided to throw her a luau-themed birthday since she always wanted to visit Hawaii. She looked at all of us like we were silly for celebrating her birthday after it had already passed (that was the Alzheimer’s talking) but I can tell that she enjoyed herself.
My mom is reading the memo of life and finally getting it. She’s a hard worker who is finally making the time, little by little, to enjoy the simpler things in life. She’s returned to her birth state to help take care of my grandmother, and with that sacrifice she’s come to the conclusion that she now knows how she wants to live her life, not just exist in this world. She’s not waiting on other people to accompany her on excursions and to attend events, she’s jumping in her car and riding solo. I’m praying that her brother and sister also begin reading that memo.
Stop The Madness…Or At Least Slow It Down
I shared all of this to say…
We have to break this work-work-work cycle and blend in more spiritual time, play time, family time, breathing time, and “just being present” time. We need to take breaks from the technological portals that keep us tied in like the Borg on Star Trek. Take a leisure walk. Read a book, a paper one, so you can feel those rough pages on your finger tips. Go to your nearby public library and explore the thousands of books waiting for you. Pack a lunch and relax at the park. Go to the beach and see how big of a sand castle you can build. During the winter, plop in a pile of snow and make snow angels (that of course is only possible if you live in or travel to a snow area).
When was the last time you swung on a swing?
If you were a child, then it’s been way too long. Go find a swing and laugh like a kid again. Put down the umbrella and splash in the rain. Watch dinner by candlelight and don’t even look in the direction of the television, video games, laptop, or your mobile devices.
The richness of your legacy is made up of the magical stories told about your life and the lives you positively touched, hundreds of years later.
Those family members of mine who have passed away and transitioned to a much better life than here, they all made a positive impact on lives within our family, their community, places of business, and beyond. The more generations who tell their story, the longer their legacy.
I’m just reflecting on my life and wondering if I will be able to live out my dreams with the complex variables that I’ve created for myself. I’m a few years older than my paternal aunt when she passed, and several years younger than my dad when he passed away 16 years ago. I’ve gotta a lot of living that I want to do, so I’m praying that this train ride doesn’t stop sooner than my dreams.
I want to work hard, play hard, and enjoy every millisecond that I have on this planet—so I’m going to do something about that now, rather than later!