Birthdays

I have celebrated two birthdays here now…….They seemed to come around fast too. I could easily say that’s because as we age, time goes faster. But I withhold that, because I know if we have something fearful to face or an upcoming anxious moment…waiting can be a real monster. Time goes at its own pace, it is not dictated by anything we do, want, or desire. Time is our master- that’s what my mom would say.

I didn’t celebrate ……..I am not ceremonial………when you grow up without getting birthday gifts or parties, your birthday has a different meaning. It doesn’t mean you dont acknowledge it, it just means you dont make a fuss about it. I try to do something special or important whenever I feel like it……whatever tickles my fancy at a particular moment. I love the freedom of choice. I especially appreciate the wisdom that the Giver of choice has. I however, always encourage all my peeps to enjoy their day- whichever way they choose…….days off, spas, parties and expensive gifts, make a fuss about it if you like. Differences are to be appreciated, not just tolerated.

I was never one to set mean goals and create big dreams. However, I always seem to know what I want- good and bad. I have started watching the Netflix series House of Cards…….yes I know I am a late bloomer. I prefer tried, tested and proven…..’Francis’ said something which hits me hard and it is that “The cost of stubbornness is greater than the cost of obedience” I know this is true because I have lived that. How many times have I relentlessly held out, only to renege later with greater sacrifice. Penny wise and pound foolish my grandmother used to say; whether it is about spending an extra buck for proper pyjamas, food, vehicles……… to listening to your parents, speaking the truth first, being humble in the first instance, practicing courage now, and sometimes even taking the first option (now this requires some skill-I believe). So as I age, my advice is to have dreams and set goals but be flexible- Proverbs 16 v 9 and yes, Francis too is right…..its cheaper to be obedient.

These days I find myself being way more patient, kind and tolerant………I listen better, get clarification, and give others space to breathe. I attribute this success to my avid bible studies. Yes the Bible is supposed to convict and transform…….I see that happening to me so much more often. I am working on this one ….Ecclesiastes 3 v 11, as I write.

I reflect and wonder where the years went…….it feels like yesterday I was writing Common Entrance Exams, frolicking at University of the West Indies, teaching at the Bethlehem Moravian College. It occurred to be too that my mom is over 70 years old, wow!!!! I wonder if she feels it flew by fast too? Does she have regrets? Is she living her best life yet? I feel blessed to have friends years older than me, they reassure me when I get scared that it will be okay- they remind me too to be kind to myself. Truth is, there are so many things I don’t have that I want; but I am consciously focusing on that which I do have, the glorious experiences and opportunities I have had and the beautiful and not so beautiful people I have met……….and you know what, I can honestly say its a lot to be grateful for.

Now as it regards my age, I am 38…….I dont know if this is what you feel at this age but I feel I am on the cusp of a whole lot of things. Lets see. I dont know if I look my age, I know I may sound my age, but I certainly dont feel like my age. That said, it doesn’t mean I dont have anxiety over lines and circles and crow’s feet. Again, I see how little control I have and know that change is inevitable. My responsibility thus is to keep regret to a minimum.

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Taboo Subjects 

Grief

It is a given. We will suffer some loss in this life and it will hurt. Loss of a tooth, loss of a toy or pet, ending of a relationship, death of a loved one, loss of our jobs, pyramid scheme or scamming ……………who among us has lived without loss?

So the issue thus, is not if we lose or will lose but what to do when we lose…..for me the answer is simple. We have to grieve. But how do we grieve?  Some people will cry, some refuse to eat, some hurt others, others don’t take baths, some resort to alcohol and drugs, others withdraw and recoil……..these are some of the many reactions to grief- a few ‘good’ and others really bad.  Grief requires we own it, we name it, we speak about it and we then we just feel it- raw and excruciating as it is. For if we don’t grieve properly we won’t heal properly. And yes we can heal………and healing is not necessarily forgetting.

One very effective antidote to grief- is our shared humanity and community. No man is an island, no man stands alone.

Prejudice

Yes black people felt the brunt of racism, but it’s not only about black people. Prejudice is universal……there is also misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, discrimination…..

Is it a lot of perception? …….Hell Yes and Hell No

Is it for real……….Hell yes

Will it ever go way? ……..Yes and No

One effective antidote………develop a thick hide. If you show people who you are they will believe you- so be brave and be authentic. Don’t ignore it but don’t let it define you either. Never let your true nature be defined by another’s nature………..

Financial Compatibility 

One of my girlfriends said to me the other day that she isn’t quite sure she understands why when we choose mates, we tend not to factor this in. Or maybe we do but we just don’t talk about it.

It can be a real struggle in relationships- even platonic ones. Are you the saver and your mate the spendrift? Who should be the money manager? What about when you borrow from each other, should the borrower repay? Do you hide purchases from the other? Should you give equally to relatives? Should the bills be split in half? Do you get to have separate bank accounts and credit cards?

Oh boy……. sounds like a recipe for disaster to me if not handled properly- antidote is usually to talk about it from the get go.

Sex and choice 

As a child we were to be ‘seen and not heard’. I cannot imagine the Millenials or Gen Z living like that. Sex was taught the same way…..no one spoke about it, at least to you. We were told children came via airplanes…….So as far as you know sex was not to be enjoyed or enjoyable, as after all fun things were spoken about.  I doubt the boys felt that way, or were taught about it that way- those that were lucky .  It meant thus, you didn’t understand how to consent to it, how to set boundaries around sharing your body or how to engage in it wholeheartedly. Some things were trial and much error.

Further to that, you were to marry and provide grand kids by a certain age, anything else would be tantamount to failure. Which usually meant you were ‘barren’ or worse than that not pretty enough, slim enough, docile enough, domesticated enough, desirable enough- to be solicited. So in a sense there are many who are vindicated by the Millenial culture- yes in this post-modern world………the conversation has definitely changed.

Belief 

This varies and shifts ….yet we all want to be certain. Somehow certainty has become the mantra. Theologian Richard Rohr says ” we love closure, resolution and clarity…while thinking we are a people of faith. How strange that the very word faith has come to mean its exact opposite!”

The other thing is we are not open to even hearing another’s perspective, difference means wrong. Interestingly I came across a book recently  entitled ‘I am right, and you are an idiot’. How ironic. The tolerance barometer is very low all round- it seems. We devalue our belief when we behave morally superior, and are hypocrites underneath.

It scared me totally, when I heard a lady say the other day that when she attends secular functions and they pray, she doesn’t say “Amen”. I thought, what could they be saying that’s so upsetting or so incriminating, or so out of place. I mean don’t get me wrong, I know there are some things I do not subscribe to……….of course, but it couldn’t be that every time and every where that they get it wrong! Whew!!!!!Cut me some slack!!!

I firmly believe (yes I am using the word) that if we just talk about our differences we would see that we are all walking the same path and living the same struggle. Silence has a way of empowering darkness………….the less we talk about it, the more we have it. After all unity does not necessarily mean uniformity, and unity and humility are siblings. We can all learn something from each other.

Look to the Creator- he made diversity and yet there is unity.