It has been a few weeks since I’ve blogged because I was having my own personal pity party. I would visit my blog and even jot down notes but I couldn’t put my thoughts in order. As time went on, I also became upset with myself for not being able to formulate a sentence let alone a paragraph and so I avoided the blog altogether! It wasn’t until I was on Twitter and saw a tweet that requested that we reach out to a fellow blogger who had been contemplating suicide, that I found my own voice again.
As I left a comment on her site giving my two cents and trying to help her see the value in her life, I had no choice but to listen to my own words. At the end of my post I told her that it was time to pull up her boot straps and remember who she was before the stresses of marriage, kids and life took over. Funny how I could so clearly see how to “Fix” her but was in the midst of my own pity party where I had forgotten who I was and wanted to be before those very similar stresses had me running from myself.
It was so easy for me to tell someone else they were valuable and yet so easy for me to forget how valuable I was. For so long whether it was right or wrong, my “Worth” was attached to my work. I was a banker. I worked for a well known Community Bank and when I was announced anywhere, it was always as “Kirsten Upshaw, Manager of XYZ Bank.” So when I lost my job, I went through an identity crisis. All of a sudden, I was no longer who I had become known as and suddenly I felt lost. I was also embarrassed at myself because I had drunk the Kool-Aid and began to define myself through the eyes of my employer and once I lost my job, I, for a minute, looked at myself through their eyes and I felt like a failure.
Never mind that my “Failure” was brought about by decisions that were out of my control by people who never believed in me in the first place so you have to wonder why I or anyone would put much stock into an opinion that’s sole purpose was to do exactly what it did which was destroy. It took me a few weeks to come to grips with my new title of “Kirsten Upshaw” and a lot of soul searching because suddenly I had to figure out who I was without a corporate title. And just like when I lost my title of “Wife” after my divorce, I realized that being me makes me happy and anytime I have tried to please anyone and stepped outside of myself, I have ended up unhappy and trying to figure out how I got there.
So many times we follow and act how others tell us we should act knowing full well that it is a decision that will lead us directly where we ended up…starting over. Recognizing your worth and demanding that others do as well, is very important to your overall happiness. Just remember, giving yourself wholly to anything or anyone other than God, will never make a situation better so arm yourself with that knowledge and happily live your life the way you want to…not how they think you should. You are allowed to have your pity party but like my momma used to say–“You can’t wallow in self-pity forever.” At some point you have to get over it, pull yourself up and do what the Lord put you on this earth to do.
We have a family friend who I’ve dubbed “The Marrying Kind”. He’s that guy that pulls the trigger very quickly on life changing decisions and I always felt he was a bit delusional about how relationships work. When he married his ex-wife it was because she was cool and they didn’t argue. This, of course, was because they were dating, not living together and having great sex…of course they weren’t arguing…they hadn’t gone through any real life situations! He wanted a mother figure and she wanted a child and that is exactly what they both got so in the beginning, everything was perfect.
Despite his friends voicing their concerns about his reasons for asking his wife to marry him, he went ahead and asked her. They had a large wedding and went on to live happily ever…I’m not even going to bother finishing that statement! As happens with many young couples, they quickly got pregnant and as anyone who has been married and had a child knows, things changed.
Her priorities shifted and he lost his position at the top and instead of focusing as a family on the baby, he did what many men do when they lose top billing, he started becoming less involved in the relationship and as a consequence it suffered. Having experienced similar issues in my first marriage, I tried to convince my significant other to talk to him and let him know that the problems they were having were normal for first time parents and that what they were going through was not truly “divorce worthy” and could be worked out.
I wasn’t privy to the exact cause of the demise of his marriage but I do know that the root of the problem really wasn’t a problem. His new wife had just had their first child and she was going through the natural changes a woman goes through after having given birth. In time, things would have settled down and they would have been able to reconnect on a husband and wife level…he just needed to be patient.
He didn’t want to listen and ultimately the marriage ended in divorce and not long after that, he began perimid-life crisis (Yeah…I made that up!) and began exclusively dating women in the 20-25 year old demographic. Now I don’t have an issue with him dating younger women but his rationale behind why he was now only dating them sent up all kind of red flags and suddenly instead of just saying he was dating a younger woman because he liked her, he blamed it on something else…in this case it was age.
He convinced himself that the reason his marriage failed was because his wife was older (same age as him) and therefore needy. She was needy because she wanted him to be around and she expected him to be involved in the home and their newly expanded family and he wanted to continue to be free without any responsibilities which of course wasn’t possible with a new wife, a mortgage and a baby.
He began making comments like–“Young girls have a cool attitude and young girls don’t trip and need you to be there for them all the time.” These were, of course, the thoughts of a simple minded person and honestly, I refuse to try and compare a 22 year old woman to a 35+ year old woman. They are very different and for good reason, one has seen more than the other and already lived what the other is soon to live so there is no sense in even attempting to try.
So now we hear that after having dated less than a year, he has gotten engaged to his new “Perfect woman” and moved in with her. All of the qualities and qualifications that made his first wife marriage material are possessed by this new young lady and though I know it is wrong, I am mentally betting on how long this relationship will last because what he fails to realize is his first marriage and his potential new marriage will both end in the same disastrous way because they both have the same common denominator…him!
He is the baby of his family and his actions are that of the baby so until he acts his mature age of 37 and leaves his 19 year old thought process behind, he will continue to end up with the same result and forever be on the hunt for the “Perfect Wife”. He is a walking PSA for women everywhere to beware of the guy who is the marrying kind because the marrying kind do just that…they marry but they don’t stay married!
If anyone is familiar with Donnie Mcclurkin‘s song Shake the Devil Off, this week has been that kind of a week and I am feeling the need to do a little shimmy! We all have times in our lives where the weight of everything is suddenly palpable and no matter which way you look, there doesn’t seem to be an easy way out…that’s the kind of week I’m talking about!
When I am faced with adversity, I always try to find the meaning in why I am going through my “hard time” and finding that meaning leads to me having a lot of heart to heart talks with God. The hardest thing to do when you are in a rut, of any kind, is staying positive and when I find myself in a situation that is just too much, my initial response is to solve the problem. I am the first born and a natural problem solver (especially for everyone else) so I am always thinking of a way to find a solution to whatever the issue of the day may be but finding a way to stay positive while searching for the solution is sometimes the hardest thing to do.
There is always a way out of a problem and sometimes the way out is sitting back and letting go. The saying “Let go and let God” is easy to say but not so easy to do and it has taken me years to learn how to give control over to God. Even now, when I am faced with a stressful situation, I tend to immediately launch into “Fix-It” mode and I have to remind myself that this fight isn’t mine and instead of trying to fix-it, what I need to do is just sit down and watch how things play out.
It wasn’t until I lost my job that I fully understood what it meant to “Let go” and once I adopted a laid back attitude about my situation, I noticed how nervous it made other people. When you are put in a situation that would normally send you into a “worry frenzy” and those close to you see you respond in a calm manner, there is obvious confusion and I confused the mess out of my friends and family!
What they were witnessing was trust and faith at work. I trust in the Lord and his ability to see me through and I have faith that being in this situation is for a reason. I’ve been through too much to for me to believe that he is going to leave me and in those moments when I momentarily forget that God is in control, inevitably, doubt and fear creep back in and I begin the stressing process and it isn’t until I’m about half way through that I remember myself.
I am in the position I’m in so that I can get to the position where I’m supposed to be and for that reason alone, I will continue to to work on myself and when necessary, do a little shimmy and shake the devil off!
Starting over is hard to do but it could be the beginning to a whole new you! I know…it sounds corny, but why don’t we embrace starting over? I guess it’s because starting over represents change and change is sometimes scary but what if change meant you were about to embark on finding a better you? We all talk a good game about wanting to “Find ourselves” but when the time comes for the hard work to begin, we balk and sometimes run from the very thing we claimed we wanted.
I am no longer running. For years, I have talked about wanting to write and I always managed to talk myself out of it by using my favorite excuse of–“I’m too tired because I’m always working”. This was a true statement, I was ALWAYS working but really, I was ALWAYS procrastinating! In a previous post, I talked about my propensity to procrastinate and how it has affected me my entire life but what wasn’t discussed was why I was procrastinating. If I did what I claimed I wanted to do, which was write, I would have to first believe in myself and more than anything, that is what I was lacking.
I knew I had the talent to write but because I didn’t believe in myself, I blocked my own blessing and it took the Lord to step in and save me from me. It’s crazy that I had to get fired in order for me to realize what I was supposed to be doing and it’s even more crazy that even after I got fired, I still procrastinated by saying that I had to have A, B and C in place for it to be right. A, B and C never fell into place.
What did fall into place was my being faced with running out of money. Now I know that starting a blog wasn’t going to lead to immediate riches but in order for me to become the writer I wanted to be, I knew that blogging was the medium I was supposed to use to begin my career as a writer, so it is funny that even knowing this, I still put it off. I didn’t fully believe in me.
I remember the first promotion I received which wasn’t expected. I had been working hard but only because I was a hard worker and while my ultimate goal was always advancement, I wasn’t, by any means, looking to advance having been in the job as an assistant manager for two years. There had been some rumblings that there was going to be movement in the office and all indicators pointed to me being moved to an office that was further away. When the news was delivered that I was not the employee who would be moving and that I was also being given the manager position, I was shocked to say the least. When I got in my car and processed what I had just been told, I said out loud–“Well…I didn’t see that coming!” When God decides you are ready to transition to your next calling whether you see it coming or not, it is going to happen and if God believes in you why don’t you believe in you?
I am finally ready to believe in me. No matter what is thrown in my direction to deter me from my calling I am going to stay focused and apply the same skills that earned me my surprise promotion. While it is scary to be starting over, I am excited about what starting over means and I look forward to the new challenges I am about to face because I know that where I am today is in God’s plan and there is no arguing with that!
When I was pregnant with my son, his father asked me if I was nervous about anything? I think he questioned me because he was nervous (this was his first child and my second) but what I hadn’t verbalized to anyone, until then, was how scared I was to take on the responsibility of raising a black boy. Not because I was nervous about having a son, again, this was my second child, but because I had a duty to see him through his childhood…alive! Knowing what “our little boys” face at every stage of life (think Trayvon Martin) and having seen how my mother and father had to fight for my brother, I knew what I was up against and add to that the stress of just being pregnant…inwardly, I was a mess.
I remember, very vividly, how my brother was treated by adults who were supposed to be in charge of helping mold him into a responsible young man and instead tried to tear him down. There were teachers, church members, family friends, and neighbors who all had a hand in operation “Try to ruin a little black boy”. Thankfully, my brother didn’t listen to what adults were saying or care how they felt about him. God gave him the unique ability to tune out nay sayers (this is the nice way of saying, “He didn’t give a BLEEP!) and gave him a set of parents who were supportive, willing and able to fight for him at every turn. It worked and he went on to be very successful.
So for me, having seen how these adults systematically tried to break his spirits, the reality that the torch was being passed to me and I was now the one in charge of training and fighting the known and unknown forces that await every little black boy, was somewhat daunting. As my son grew, any fears I had (which were mostly due to my being pregnant) disappeared and it was time to get into mommy mode but in the back of my mind, the thought of what he was soon to face was always there.
My son was watched by my mother from birth and the best thing that came from her watching him, aside from the obvious, was that she was a retired Principal and when he turned two years old, they started to go to “Granny School” for fun. Soon, he was learning to read words and his numbers…it was brilliant! She made learning a game as opposed to something he had to do so when he wanted to stop, they stopped and when he wanted to learn, they learned. This went on until he turned four and then it was time for him to move on to a more difficult, structured program.
My daughter had been going to Kumon for math support and since they were there waiting for her, my mother looked into enrolling him into their reading program. He was excited to be receiving a “blue bag and homework like sissy” so he dived right in and really began to learn how to read. By the time he was five and ready for Kindergarten, I began to realize that if I put him in the public school system near us, we may run into the problem of them telling us they were “unable to teach him” because he was advanced and already reading and writing at a 1st grade level. Instead of teaching the other children to the level of the most advanced child, they will hold the most advanced child back so that the others can catch up. This is a trick reserved for “children of color” and one that was tried on me when I was in 3rd grade. Not mine!
So now the task of finding a school with a program that would push my son as opposed to hold him back began and after talking to some customers that worked at a private school near my job, I found one that did everything I wanted and expected from a school. They continued where my mother left off and they complemented what he was already doing in Kumon. Success!
As we revise the blueprint created by my parents and take control of his education, we’ve ensured that any adult who attempts to interfere with his learning process is unsuccessful and we’ve eliminated one major obstacle my son was sure to face… giving ourselves a little breathing room to prepare for the next obstacle, which is inevitably coming his way.
My momma has always said, “God can take care of (insert wrong doer) better than I can…and when he does…I feel sorry for ’em.” When I was young, I used to look at her and think, “UGH” and role my eyes (when she wasn’t looking). This was always said when I wanted to go off on someone who I felt had wronged me. I used to be that person who would let you have it and tell you exactly how I felt, especially when I was in my early 20’s. That is how I became known as the “Militant One” in my family.
I really felt (and still do) that any injustice should be stopped and if someone didn’t say something, I automatically felt it should be me. Obviously, this got me in a lot of trouble and my mother had to do a lot of talking to get me to understand that every battle didn’t need to be fought by me. Some battles are bigger than me and should be left to God and that was a hard lesson to learn but as I got older, I realized you can’t fight all the time or you will be fighting all the time and so I began to let go and I started let God. Once I let go, I started to realize that in due time, the wrong doer had their house of cards fall apart and it was done in a way that I never could have fathomed.
We are watching that play out with Evelyn Lozada. For the last 2 years, viewers of VH1’s Basketball Wives have watched as she bullied many of her castmates and even her former best friend. She has hopped over tables, thrown wine bottles and confessed to sleeping with fellow cast member, Tami Roman’s, ex-husband (while they were still married) and then had the audacity to tell Tami that she was a “non-muthafuckin’ factor”…who does that? Evelyn disrespected everyone including herself and would dare you to say something so when she began dating Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, we all thought, “this is a match made in Heaven”…and it was.
In Chad, Evelyn met her match. She couldn’t bully him (she tried) and since she couldn’t bully him she chose to join him. She allowed everything she was against (I know…amazing that she stood for something) to go on in her relationship all in the name of “love” and now she wants to press charges. An injustice has happened to her and someone should pay! Wait…an injustice has occurred and she wants someone to pay? Did we all hear that right? Yes we did.
Oh the irony! I don’t think one person could have imagined that this relationship would unravel the way it did, in front of the world and God. Don’t get me wrong, we knew it was going to unravel but I don’t know one person who thought it would play out the way it did and in such grand fashion. For those us who saw any of her show, the first question was always, ” why isn’t anybody stopping her?” Well, she has been stopped now.
I don’t think we are going to be seeing the villainous Evelyn Lozada for sometime. I think her days of beating up women (it was cute when she did it) and putting raw dolphin bait in another persons room (because she didn’t like them) are over. So for all of you who sat there in awe of her antics like I did and wondered how she was going to be stopped, we just witnessed what my momma always said and I do feel a little sorry for her.
…So what is your 5 year plan? I hate that question! It is a trick question if I’ve ever heard one and the answer given is usually bogus. Now let’s pause for a minute because I know that there are people who do truly plan out there lives and for the most part, their plans have come to fruition…I have always envied those people. I’ve dabbled in planning parts of my life; I have planned my vacations and I’ve planned where I would send my kids to school but I have never been one to plan where I would be professionally, 5 years in advance.
Maybe it is because my momma always said, “If you wanna make God laugh…tell him your plans.” I’ve found that anytime I planned what was going to happen with my life, God’s plan superseded mine and took me in an entirely different direction.
Here are a some of my plans gone awry; I planned to stay married…that didn’t happen, I planned to send my daughter to our church’s private school from K-12 and learned that if I didn’t mainstream her she would graduate without having learned anything except the ability to pray and most recently, I planned to have a long successful career with my last employer…I ended up fired, so for the last year and a half, I stopped planning and decided it was finally time to give in and just go with the flow. I felt good about my decision but as soon as I started looking for a job, I began to hear that dreaded question again and again I was unprepared to give an “appropriate” answer, so I started telling the truth.
The truth, as we all know, scares people, so when I gave my answer the look I started to get when I told them, “I’ve never planned out my career path” made me nervous. I started to question myself. “Am I wrong for not having a set plan to say I’m going to be doing XYZ in 5 years? Why is it a problem that I understand that the best laid plans sometimes go awry so instead of a having a plan, I choose to have a goal in mind and what does it mean that even now, I am unable to formulate a solid plan for where I see myself in 5 years?”
The thought of coming up with a plan that will dictate my decision for the next few years seems very final and if there is anything that I have learned about myself it’s that having to maintain that kind of control makes me nervous and takes away from the way I want to live my life. So maybe my real issue is the control that having a plan in place will impose on me. With all of the twists and turns that life is going to bring my way, worrying about what is going to happen in 5 years seems pointless.
Plans are made to be changed and in my opinion, it would be fruitless for me to even attempt to try and figure out all of the what ifs that will change the direction of the plan so the next time I am asked, “What is your 5 year plan?”, my answer will be, “to handle what I am given and to adjust accordingly.”
But it doesn’t say anything about stepparents. I bring this up because of a recent conversation my significant other had with his father about his wife. They have been married for 5 years and the jury is still out on her where the family is concerned. She is a woman who means well, but is someone who does not think before she speaks or acts and when you are around people who have only known you for a short period of time, loose lips can sink possible relationships with new family members.
The discussion was about the concerns the adult children had with certain encounters they’ve had with her and what got me thinking was their fathers response. He wondered if everyone felt this way, to which the response was, “yes”, and then he said, “Man, so if I’m not here anymore, there won’t be a relationship.” Wait…what? Were we supposed to add her to our list of parents we may have to take care of in their golden years? Now maybe I interpreted his statement incorrectly. He could have simply meant a relationship as in remaining in contact with each other but it got me to thinking and I immediately began to feel a little guilt. You know, the kind of guilt only a parent can make you feel?
Not having even thought about the stepparent dynamic because I don’t come from a divorced family, I looked around on the internet to see what the etiquette for caring for a stepparent was and I came upon an article called, Uncertain Obligations by Jo Cavallo (http://www.curetoday.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/article.PrintArticle/article_id/1311) where “non-traditional” family relationships were looked at with regards to an ailing parent or stepparent. While there wasn’t any one way discussed, what I took from the article was that there was a direct correlation between how blended the family was in respect to the decision to care for the stepparent. So while the obligation was still uncertain, there may be an obligation.
I was raised to respect my elders and I’ve always known that I would assume responsibility for my parents should they need me and I would expect the same from my significant other, however, we lost his mother 6 years ago so his father is the surviving parent. I think the guilt bothered me because my daughter comes from a divorced family that now includes the stepparent dynamic and while the relationships are more established than the relationship between my significant other and his stepmother, taking care or looking after one of her stepparents may be in her future and I have an obligation to give her the tools to make an informed decision.
The relationship between my significant other and his stepmother is still fairly new and it is still uncertain how their relationship will progress, however, the dialogue has been established and one can only hope that it will lead to a more open and blended stepparent/stepchild dynamic.
We’ve all had that moment when we realize that our life has plateaued. That moment when you start to notice that no matter what you do, nothing happens. Whether it is career, financial, love or a physical transformation, your life just seems to be at a complete standstill…I am having that moment. My standstill is career related which has lead to being financially stifled and feeling extremely discouraged.
After being unceremoniously fired from a company where I had worked for 10 years, I decided to take some time to figure out what I wanted to do next. The summer of 2011 was the best I’d had since I was a kid. The family was able to take a well deserved trip to Puerto Rico and we were able to really spend quality time with each other. As time wore on, I seriously began to look for a job but I noticed that despite my qualifications, nothing I tried was working and I felt more and more like an undesirable candidate…for EVERYTHING!
I had always told myself that I wouldn’t go back into banking, which was the field I’d been working in for 13 years, but as I applied for positions outside of banking that made as much as $20,000.00 less than what I’d been making, I was getting nowhere. This went on for sometime. I finally buckled down and tried to get back into the field of banking, (I guess that is why they say never say never!) but it didn’t matter that I had given in and was trying to go back to something I said I’d never go back to…they didn’t want me! O.k…now what?
I should tell you that the entire time that I was trying to figure out what my new career should be, I was constantly hearing in my head that I needed to write. I had been saying for over 5 years that that is what I wanted to do but I always managed to have too much going on to concentrate on writing…at least that is what I told myself. Then, of course, I lost my job and had all the time in the world and again I told myself, “I didn’t have enough money to create my website the way I wanted.” So I kept looking for jobs that had nothing to do with the career where I claimed I wanted to work.
Finally, I found a job working in the insurance field. I had to jump through several hoops to show this employer that I was “worthy” of being “conditionally hired” by them and I did everything they wanted me to do. At first I was excited because I was FINALLY going to be working but as I started taking classes to learn how to sell their brand, the realization set in that I wouldn’t be able to give my all to yet another company. I had spent the last 10 years giving everything to a company that had no problem dropping me by the wayside and I no longer had the wherewithal to play the corporate slave game. “Now really…what the hell was I going to do?” This is the question I began to ask myself.
I made my daughter start writing a blog this summer so that she could improve her writing skills. I had told myself that that wouldn’t work for what I wanted to do (again with the procrastination) and I discouraged myself from what I said I wanted to be doing. My best friend, who was one of a few people who knew that I wanted to write, told me how to create my site the way I wanted for free…THANK GOD! No longer able to procrastinate, I set up my site and immediately started writing and something happened…the words just flowed…I was finally doing what I said I’d wanted to do!
It has taken me 5 years to overcome my issues with procrastination and self-doubt. The Lord knew I had to lose my job and be forced into the possibility of being unhappy working for another 10 years in order to make me realize my real calling. I am working to get past feeling stifled in my career and I now know that by following through with the plan I set up in my head 5 years ago, the financial rut I am in will also pass. It feels good to know that I am at a point in my life where I realize I can no longer just go with the flow…I sure wish I’d gotten to that point sooner but at least I finally did!