LIFE LAB 180º: 8 Things I Have Learned in the Past 8 Days

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 6.22.20 PMLIFE CHART #14: So, I’ve been off for the past 8 days only because of life happening. I hate when that happens, but here are 8 things I learned in the past 8 days. They should cover the past 8 missed posts and, believe me, they are just the 8 I have chosen because there are more! Here we go.

1. Keep moving no matter what. I began a doctoral program in Industrial and Organizational Psychology last week. This past week was week two and I am not even close to being motivated. Not in the least. I am interested in the material, but motivated to read it is not a word I would use. There are 11 weeks in this term that seem to be moving along like molasses. Multiple times I have thought, “I should just stop”, “Why did I do this?”, “I have to much going on right now”, and no doubt have I cried. What have I learned? To keep moving no matter what it looks like.

I started with an idea in mind of what I wanted to happen at the end. And that has to remain my focus – no matter what.

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2. Choose each day. I started a cleanse weeks ago, not quite a full water fast, but close enough. As a result I have lost about 10 pounds. My goal is not just weight lost but to see clearly in my life. I have 20 more pounds to go, but with that comes paying attention to my life. That is a daily choice. Life being my goals, my relationship with my son, the way I spend money, the people with whom I communicate (or don’t), the things I eat or do not, learning to enjoy each moment, and managing my stress level(s). That is a daily choice. So, I am choosing each day and each moment how to manage what there is to manage. And, with that I am learning to enjoy everything no matter what.

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3. Just let go. I’m going to let this one bleed into #4 and you will see what I mean. So, there are plenty of things going on in my life, not unlike that of others. We are always taking on something new no matter how “settled” or “unsettled” you might be. For those who are settled, you might want a raise, new cabinets, a different color in the hallways, or to choose a new place for your vacation this year. Those who are unsettled might be figuring out how to do whatever, when is the best time, who can help, what did I do wrong, and all other sorts of things. And, let’s not forget “what am I doing?” Right? I am learning to let go of things. There are things that I know I can change, so I interact with those. For others, I am learning to let it go. For example, my son and I have this dynamic that is not something I enjoy. I say “walk” he “runs”. To be open, his grade are far below his ability and no matter what I offer he does the opposite, no matter how terrible it looks he seems not to be concerned nor motivated, and that boggled my mind. As a parent I want the best, but I have to remember that it is not my life. So, in some sense I have to let go. WOOSAH! That has to be applied to other areas in life where I simply need to just let go. Relationships that are not nurturing – just let go. Eating habits that are not healthy – just let go. Wondering how this is going to happen – just let go. Let go, some things just need to be released. Just let go.

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4. Parenting hurts if you do it right. So, letting go when you are a parent is terrible in my world. However, I am aware that letting go is going to hurt. It is the death of feeling responsible for specific outcomes and allowing a child to experience the consequences whether they are good or not. I am learning that doing parenting right is going to hurt because you invest yourself in the life of another person. I want my son to be happy, have the things he wants, and to be a productive person, but it’s not my responsibility to make him take that on. Just the other day I told him I was releasing myself from having to be the person who is responsible for his happiness. What I got, and shared with him, is that no matter what he thinks about me or how I parent my job is truly to expose him to opportunities, help guide and prepare him, and to support him. The illustration was that I prepare him for the paths that will come up, there may be one I desperately want him to take, but I can’t make him do it. There are multiple paths he can take, and I so I said that he has been given skills, experience, and tools the path he has to choose. Seeing some of his choices is not easy and does hurt, but I surmise that I am actually parenting so it is going to hurt. I guess I’m doing it right.

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5. Uncertainty is certain. I’ll make this quick. I have always thought there are things that are certain, and there are some. What I understand is that uncertainty is one of them. I walked out to my car yesterday because we were going to see Avengers: Age of Ultron, and it did not start. I’ve never had any issue with it not starting. There are plenty of other things to complain about with it, but starting was not one of them. Usually it would make me upset, annoyed, or frustrated, I simply had to inhale and exhale. That’s all there was to do. We think things are certain when they are not. It is not a certainty that my car will start all the time. Just a reminder that nothing is certain but uncertainty. Once I can take that in and be with it, nothing that happens is a surprise or cause for an upset – it is just certain.

6. Community matters. Since my last blog, I have started a FB page for my PhD classmates and endeavored to get out more to meet people. I went hiking with two friends and found that to be a great experience, it may seem small, but for the past 4 years I have been in school and haven’t spent much time with people just enjoying their company. Community, to me, is coming together in unity for a common purpose. That purpose could be eating good food, laughing, discussing issues being faced, a night of jazz (coming soon), or hiking. Today, The Community helped check out my car, gave me a referral for it to be repaired, and yesterday it came together to allow me to use another persons vehicle to take my son to the movies. Community matters, so I’m building mine. Community Strong.

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7. Know thyself. Not that I didn’t know myself, but all I can say it that myself grows and learns. When I know what I know about my life and self, then I know myself. Being ignorant of who I am or am not, what I am facing, or who I desire to be is not acceptable. I know I was reared by a single mother, am African-American with some Native American (Cherokee & Sioux) in there, am approximately 6′ tall, have one man-child, live in Texas, am a member of Soka Gakkai International, love to cook, and am open to growth and experiences daily. Most of all the essence of who I am is what I know – I am audacious, loving, adventurous, innovative, and sometimes apprehensive at the same time. As a grown I am learning more about me. I find it less necessary to always understand others and of greater use to know myself.

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8. My Black is Beautiful. After the past few days about Rachel Dolezal and her fraudulent life a Black woman because she “consider myself to be ‘Black'” messiness, I had to remember me. Me. She claims to have grown up Black, experienced being a Black child and woman, and has given speeches about such when that is not her reality. I am reminded of the first time I knew I was unwanted by a White person was in a small town in Kentucky called Corinth. During a course in graduate school we were asked to write about the first time we fell “other than” and mine had to so with something I had no control over – my skin color. Here is an excerpt of that paper and the incident”

In 1982, our family held the family reunion in Atlanta, Georgia. My sister, brother, one cousin, aunt, and uncle took the trip from Cleveland, Ohio to Atlanta, Georgia in a motor home. At the time, I was seven not yet eight. Just outside of Lexington, Kentucky an axle broke on the motor home which caused us to find a place that could fix the motor home. The closest town with a repair shop was Corinth, Kentucky. I do not remember driving into the town or being at the repair shop; apparently, I was asleep. What I remember clearly is walking into the convenient store there. My aunt, uncle, my sister, and I walked across a small street in what seemed to be downtown Corinth, stepped up on a porch reminiscent of a building in the old West with a porch, and went in to the store. My sister and I walked through the aisles looking for a snack to take with us on the ride. At some point, someone said something that ended with “niggers”, I remember hearing it, but not assuming that it was directed at me I kept looking around for my snacks. My uncle, in a deep voice with a Southern accent, said loudly, “It’s time to go, let’s go.” At that moment I remember being upset that I did not get snack and had to leave. Upon walking out, I looked around the store and then, around at the people who were outside and realized that we were the only people of color around. What occurred to me was that what someone said in the store must have been about us.

I grew up involved with the Department of Pan-African Studies at Kent State University where we were taught Black/African history, surrounded my men and women who fought for us to be allowed to express ourselves and learn our history, people who did what they could to come up against anything that would be a barrier to me being a strong Black woman, and also simply hugged and loved me as I am. They knew I would come up against things they could not protect me from, but the focus what not on always avoiding those things. The focus was also on being strong enough, knowing self enough, having the knowledge, and being Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 6.18.12 PMable to stand when those things will inevitably come. And, yes, things have come. People have not always loved my braids, my dashiki-wearing-elementary-school age self, my natural hair, my skin color has not always been light or dark enough, and I have been accused of not being Black enough or wanting to be White because of how I speak. What I have never done was deny my Blackness – not that I could. What I have come to see is that everyone has beauty about them, if they look for it. Denying your ethnicity, culture, and heritage is to deny yourself, your beauty. What I have come to embrace is that MY BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL. I PLAN TO SHOW IT OFF! WATCH ME. And, all while doing the same for others what was done for me by such people as Dr . Edward Crosby, Fran Dorsey, Dr. Halim El-Dabh, Doria Daniels, Kofi Khemet, and many more around the Kent community.

WHOEVER YOU ARE EMBRACE THAT.
SHOW IT OFF.

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BE WATER.

*On to the next 19 days!

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2 thoughts on “LIFE LAB 180º: 8 Things I Have Learned in the Past 8 Days

  1. Christy McClintock Osborne

    Sidney…you are such a beautiful person…your soul shine bright from within! When I read your posts and blog, I feel proud to know you and excited about where you’re headed. And you will indeed succeed! Or, I should say continue to succeed. You’ve accomplished much, already! Please know you are a motivator to all who read your insights: to live /love life, to push yourself and have goals, and to be good to others!

    Like

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