Gratitude

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The month of November reminds me to focus on being grateful. We have Thanksgiving, which I choose to celebrate even though history tells us that the pilgrims took the Native American traditions and stole their land. That is a fact that I push out of my mind as I enjoy family, friends and good food. In tribute of the holiday I wanted to give gratitude throughout the month. It’s been said that gratitude and depression can’t live in the same place and I tend to believe this.

I am thankful for my home which provides me with shelter and a place of peace. As I travel daily I see homeless people sleeping on sidewalks, in libraries and train stations and I know that if not for the grace of God that could be me. I’ve been blessed with a 4 bedroom home with a fireplace and a great eat in kitchen. There is natural light everywhere and on a sunny day my living room is a safe haven.

I am thankful to be back in school getting my Social Work degree. In high school I hated math and science and always loved English and writing.  I have the pleasure of taking a Sociology class and a Social Problems course which both focus on writing and content that interest me. I’m also grateful that paying for college is not a hassle.  It’s affordable and my administrators work with my income to allow monthly payments. When I think about it, I know there are women in certain countries where obtaining your education is not allowed.

Lastly I have gratitude for my family and friends. I have the best bunch of homies a girl could want.  I have peer groups who help me with mental illness and anxiety. I have family members who forgive me over and over when I make mistakes. My close friends are honest with me and don’t let me sell myself short or get away with BS. Even my social media friends are a ray of light for me. Without these people I would be lost in my own head and it’s scary in there.

There are so many things I am grateful for and I  remind myself of them not only in November but the other eleven months of the year. Oh by the way, thank you for reading this. I am grateful for you too.

 

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Marshall *spoiler alert*

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Last Thursday I went to see the movie Marshall. It’s a movie celebrating the first black Supreme Court Justice , Thurgood Marshall. I was thinking this would be a biopic detailing his life from childhood, rise to fame and the struggles he faced. Boy was I wrong!

The movie was actually about a case that Marshall (played by Chadwick Boseman) took on as part of the NAACP. There was a man named Joseph Spell( Sterling K. Brown) who was being accused of the rape and the attempted murder of a white woman. The narrative was that Spell raped her in her home multiple times while her husband was away. He then took her to a bridge and threw her into a reservoir.

The incident happened in the northern town of Greenwich, Connecticut. Marshall traveled from New York City, the headquarters of the NAACP to this little town because he believed Spell was innocent. When he made it to the small town he realized he would need some help, and that help would come from a Jewish insurance attorney.

Samuel Friedman( Josh Gad) was hired by the Bridgeport NAACP. Like most white people in the area, he thought Spell was guilty. The area was certainly not known for hospitality to black people. Friedman tried to get out of the case three different times but something in his character caused him to help Marshall and he became co-counsel. It was a good thing they were both on the case because getting past Loren Willis( Dan Stevens) an unreconstructed bigot would be close to impossible. It didn’t help that there were two attorneys; a black man and a Jew.

The other obstacle was that the victim Eleanor Strubing ( Kate Hudson) came from old money. She was the daughter of an investment banker. Her husband John Strubing Jr( Jeremy Bobb) an ambulance driver in WWI he also played for The Tigers football team. After being married for a while Strubing became a business man and he and his wife lived a charmed life. This lifestyle is how Spell came into their lives; he was their chauffeur.

Marshall and Friedman never really believed Eleanor’s story. She claimed she was raped four different times. She was kidnapped from her home, thrown off a bridge and then hit with rocks. At trial they quickly pounced on the prosecution’s case. Why would anyone rape a woman in her home when her husband could have come home at any moment? Why leave the house and drop her off of a bridge on the side where she could swim to shore? Why not drop her where the jagged rocks were located? And the story about the rocks was just ridiculous, not to mention there were no rocks on that bridge; only pebbles.

It came out at trial that her story was a complete farce. But she wasn’t the only one who lied. Spell said he never touched her but it was proven in court that the pair had consensual sex. Eleanor’s husband was always away on business and when he was home he often abused his wife. The night that Joseph came into her room to ask for money she had been drinking and invited him into her bed. They shared a night of passion but soon Mrs. Strubing became nervous.

The alcohol and paranoia got to her. She begged Spell to drive her away from the house. Then as they drove she asked him to pull over. He assured her that everything was fine and they wouldn’t get caught. In complete hysterics she screamed out rape. She jumped from the bridge into the Kensico Reservoir. It was revealed in court that she was a trained swimmer. She swam to shore, flagged a truck driver and started this whole tragedy with her cries of rape.

Thurgood Marshall and Friedman taking this case was like taking on the stories that black men are so scary and threatening, hell bent on raping poor white women. This made me think of how often that happens in today’s court systems. Our men are seen as brutal and menacing when in fact, there are rapists and murderers of all races.

Marshall and Friedman’s hard work was successful in gaining Spell an acquittal. The result catapulted the NAACP to start a chapter in Greenwich. Thurgood Marshall was in Oklahoma helping another client when the jury came back. He didn’t even have time to celebrate due to his full schedule.

For those of you who don’t know much about Thurgood Marshall. He was instrumental in The Brown vs The Board of Education desegregation case. He was the first black Supreme Court Justice from 1967-1991. And was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Spingarn Medal.

It was great seeing Chadwick Boseman in this role. He is fast becoming the go-to actor for biopics. A surprise was Josh Gad in the role of attorney Friedman. I am familiar with him in many comedic roles but he played this serious character and exceeded my expectations. He was excellent in this role and has me excited to see him in more dramatic pieces. Marshall is a movie I look forward to buying. I give it 4 stars.

Five Embarassing Facts About Me

I wanted to do something fun this time. No heavy blog about mental health or family and relationships. This will make you laugh and I promise these incidents are 100% true. Let’s goooooooo.
1. I don’t know how to make a traditional cup of coffee. Whenever I encounter a coffee pot I either google the brand and model, read the directions before breaking the machine or making the grittiest pot of coffee ever.* I do know how to operate the new Keurig versions.

2. I have broken 3 copiers…yeah I don’t know how to work those either. See #1 if you want to know how I deal with them. It starts real casual, ” Rhasha can you copy those demographic forms and throw them in a file folder.” I walk over to the copier. I look at it; it looks at me. I put the papers in face down. Now this is when the BS starts. The machine blinks, out of paper, out of ink or just plain out of it. One time I hit the wrong button and 97 pages attempted to print out. I ended up unplugging the whole damn thing, looking both ways and walking away.

3. I fall…a lot. Once after a first date, I was walking away from the guy’s car and fell right on my ass. He tried to be nice and asked if I was alright. I quickly ran inside and almost died from embarrassment.Another time I fell on the way into church. My church shoes flew from up under me and splat I hit the ground. So I try to walk slowly, take time when wearing heels and allow my hand to be held if possible.

4. People think I’m cool, but I’m super awkward. When I become nervous in any situation I pick up my phone and pretend to talk on it. If I’m around a group of people I do know and there is a silent moment I become nervous and start to act weird. I will bring up a random conversation about absolutely nothing.

5. I can’t bake for crap. When I was younger my stepmother and grandmother tried to teach me. In my teens I tried to bake a cake from scratch and it tasted like dry stale bread. When I got married I tried to make homemade cornbread which tasted worse than the cake. So now I stick with rolls of ready to bake cookies and boxed cake mix. Now in my 40s I’m gonna take another stab at baking…anyone want to be my test rat? After that I will make you a nice cup of coffee and run off some copies of my favorite recipes.

Home is Where the Hurt Is

Going to my hometown Indianapolis is usually freeing and peaceful. I know where everything is located. I don’t get lost. The traffic is not ridiculous like it is in Dallas where I’ve resided since 2015. I can get the foods I’ve loved since I was young; White Castle, Long’s Donuts, and Mr. Dans. I enjoy worshipping at my childhood church and the church I transitioned to as an adult. I get to hang with my cousins, best friend  and family members. But some things are not as they use to be.

My Nana is getting older and starting to feel like she’s actually 88. She has always been healthy. While others were losing their grandmothers, mine was eating healthy; no diabetes or high blood pressure. Nana’s mind is 100% there and she can debate with the best of them. But her body is not lining up with her mind. Now she is having aches and pains and two doctor appointments a week.  She is sick of visiting different doctors and telling them over and over what is going on. After visiting  with her I asked her if she wants to come to Dallas so I can take care of her. 

My Aunts are also getting older. Aunts are such a blessing. They are like your mom only cooler and they let you get away with everything. My Aunt Beth is my favorite and she so much fun. She always had a nice car and she drove really fast. If anyone cut her off she would quickly yell at them. Aunt Beth loved roller coasters and Dairy Queen dates. She beats the crap outta the kids in board games and is very competitive. I was raised as a only child so when I could spend the night at Auntie’s  with my cousins it was fun times. Whenever my cousins wanted to do something they would say, ” You ask. She can’t say no to you.”   She would always keep me in suspense and then say, “yep.” 

My Aunt is not feeling the way she once did. She is often ill and struggles a lot. When I come home I try to cheer up her with songs and jokes. I always have a story about my grown ass kids. In the past Rhasha the cheerleader could change her mood and make her forget her pain; not as much now. She has been on dialysis for seventeen years and still has strong faith that one day she will be healed. The day after I celebrated her 63rd birthday with her I dreamed she was in Dallas on my back porch eating tacos on Tuesdays. 

So often times coming home hurts. I know that as long as we live we are getting older.  Even at 40 my knees crack and my grays are feisty. I look at Nana and think; her  body is 88 years old. Auntie has lived for 63 years when doctors said she wouldn’t or couldn’t.  Each of these ladies have made an impact on my life and that continues. I see them for who they were then and who they are now. 

I guess the best thing I can do is come home often. Tell them and show them that I love them. Realize that life doesn’t stay the same. Life is about transitions; memories and moments. There are still memories to be made and moments to share with Nana, Auntie and all of my family members. I look forward to coming back home for Thanksgiving to enjoy another precious moment. 

  

Image St. Joseph’s Cockeysville 

Divorce Made Me Stronger

  There are few things more disappointing then going through a divorce. It’s almost like a death.  It is a death; of a relationship, a partnership, a bond. When children are involved it’s that much harder. Where will I live? Who will move out? Who will have custody of the children.  Who gets the sleeper sofa?

I was married young; at 21. As my mom drove me to the church my stomach was in knots and I asked her if she would just take me to Cincinnati. Not sure if I wanted to go to Kings Island instead of the $10,000 wedding ceremony that my whole family helped pay for. Yeah…bad sign I know. That day in June I was to marry my high school sweetheart. The man I had three children with and who had my heart for six years.

The marriage started out wrong. On our wedding night we rushed through sex and if it was a chore and fell asleep soon after. Wait let me back up. The ring I got for him was too small and during the cake ceremony his finger swelled. The fire department had to come and cut the ring off of his finger and he sat there sweating bullets. Lots of early drama. 

We had the best intentions for our life.  We bought a house, sent our babies to school, went to church every Wednesday night and Sunday, worked, and went on date nights on Fridays. My Dad would keep the kids on weekends and my Mom watched them often. But soon loud voices in my head were telling me how doomed we were. The truth is we NEVER should have been married.

Our divorce was a culmination of my past issues, his frustration, our age and the pressure we put on ourselves to stay in a bad marriage. I was devastated and went through a 6 month depression. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and lonely. This man had been my buddy for so long. Everything I did involved him. But soon I would pick up the pieces and realize just how strong I was. Here are some tips for getting through and over a divorce and moving on in a healthy way.

1. Don’t beat yourself up. You have the right to feel however you feel, no matter what that is.

2. Practice self- care by seeking counseling, journaling and talking to a spiritual advisor.

3. Don’t jump into another relationship. Have a relationship with yourself. Take yourself to dinner, on dates, and pamper you.

4. Seek help for your children if needed. Seek counseling, a spiritual advisor, and allow them to get their feelings out with no judgment.

5. Spend time with those you love. Friends, family and pets are the best to be around.

6. Stay busy. Find a cool hobby, attend festivals, take a class, work out.

7. Gain clarity about what you did right and wrong in the marriage so it won’t happen again. This will help in future relationships when you are ready.

8. LOVE YOURSELF. Take long baths, give yourself actual hugs, and treat yourself with patience and kindness. Watch the things you tell yourself. Lowered feelings and thought can lead to depression.

For me divorce started as a negative and hurtful situation but ended in me learning so much about myself. I learned what I did and didn’t want in future relationships. Five years later I married the man of my dreams. He became a father to my children and a true testament that there is truly someone out there for me who will love me for the crazy, quirky woman that I am.

When I think about divorce the song Stronger by Tank stands out in my head. The song is about the ending of a relationship. The hook or chorus is “Now, look at me  I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. Where I am is no longer where I’ve been. I’m stronger and it’s all because of you.” The bridge begins, ” I’m still missing pieces after everything. But I’m stronger! Can’t believe it’s cause she said she’d never leave. But I’m stronger! But if she never left, I would have never seen that I’m stronger.” 

What divorce taught me was, I can stand on my own. I can be a great mother. My children went to therapy  and so did I. I also learned that what you want at 21 is not what you want at 30, or even 40.  Divorce helped me find my identity. I use my voice to encourage other women;  on my blog, on radio I even used it at the Texas legislature this year. I went back to school after my divorce, I reconnected with caring friends. And of course I found love after divorce. 

What could have completely broken me made me stronger.  

Day at a Time

IMG_0469I have been out of the hospital for six weeks. I am feeling more like Rha again. I am back to yoga regularly and biking. Eating three meals a day again and enjoying every minute of that. Getting back on track with my groups, volunteering and working.  There are many exciting things on the horizon. I started getting back to my habits by practicing a little one day at a time.

School starts October 23rd and I’m taking two Sociology classes. I really want to help women who are going through what I have been through. I not only want the testimony; I want the credentials to get paid for doing it. It’s fall and that is a time of transition. The trees change colors and the leaves begin to fall. The weather in Dallas is gorgeous this time of year; not too hot nor too cold. I plan to go to White Rock Lake and see the fall colors. I am slowly starting to enjoy life again and taking each day as it comes. Putting one foot in front of the other. Day by day by day.

I am learning that everything that I need I have been equipped with. I know how to mediate and use a mindfulness app to stop for five minutes daily. I know my triggers for depression and even though I can’t stop the onset, I can minimize the duration and intensity and have done so lately. Self care is so important because life is all about caring for ourselves, and caring for others. I am starting with me and then my husband & children. I am going to visit my family soon and care for them and my friends… I KNOW I CAN DO IT…ONE DAY AT A TIME.

Radical Self Acceptance, love yourself

Radical Other Acceptance, love others

Radical Life Acceptance, love Life.

OPEN LETTER TO KEKE WYATT

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Since we were teens I have always admired you. We grew up in the same hometown, Indianapolis. We were around each other in different girl groups in the city. We have lots of mutual friends and you even tried out for a group I was in called Baby Girl. You may not remember this but I remember the biracial girl with high cheek bones and a wide smile wearing 90’s overall swag and a voice I had never heard before and haven’t heard since. She walked into a dance studio in the Glendale area and sang Amazing Grace and His Eye is on the Sparrow.  We did some basic dance moves and the next time I saw you were on my TV screen singing with Avant.

First let me say this; Your voice is one of the best period. In a world where qualities like looks and sex appeal are more important than talent you stand above with raw talent and skill. And yes you are a beautiful woman. Don’t ever let anyone tell you any different. As your life progressed I always followed what you were doing. I always told people, “That’s Keke Wyatt. She’s from Nap. Her whole family can sing. I even know her momma from Allison Transmission. Her name is Miss Lorna.”

I watched you get married and have children and I saw you struggle. As you were struggling I was too. I felt connected. From being abused by the father of my children, to fighting back and looking like the bad guy. I vibed to your first album Soul Sista . My favorite song was always your version of If Only You Knew & Don’t Take Your Love Away.

In 2001 my daughter was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor kidney cancer and went through a year of chemo and radiation. During that time my husband completely pulled away from me. I was in fear of losing my daughter and my marriage. In the end she pulled through and is now a healthy 24-year-old 4th grade teacher. My marriage ended and I went into a dark depression which almost took my life. My ex then took my children away from me for 6 months and ignored my calls. I didn’t even get to celebrate my daughters Make A Wish trip to Disney. Another person stood in as me.

I still paid attention to your moves in Kentucky and sent you messages of encouragement on Myspace. I would come to your intimate shows where you would start singing R&B, go into Gospel and even throw some opera in there. People have always said things about your quirky ways. From one misfit to another  I would say, girl they don’t know your life! They have no clue what you have been through. One thing they can’t deny is you put your heart and soul into your music.

In my opinion no one bares their soul no one has your range and you rival some of the best voices of our time.  I made sure I even bought a physical copy or had a fresh download of every album from Who Knew, to Unbelievable, Rated Love, and Keke. Your hits have gotten me through some of my darkest days and made me smile and laugh while slowing dancing in front of my couch with my current husband.

I don’t know a lot about your childhood upbringing other than the church but I do know what happens when you are in a hostile relationship that includes cheating and abuse. It leaves remnants of PTSD that can stay with you for years to come.  I lived that life. Before I could heal properly I was swept off my feet by my own Prince Charming. Much like Michael Jamar he is a great father who not only cares greatly for his children but has taken good care of mine and loves all children.

My husband saw me as a wounded and hurt woman who didn’t trust anyone. Instead of telling him what I had been through earlier in life, I tried to hide the pain that haunted me daily. Eventually it showed itself and he saw all of my wounds. He tried his best to heal them while working and being a father.

You were away from the spotlight for a while but I was happy to see you on R&B Divas along with several of my favorites. I was excited to see the babies and the beautiful family you had created. But there was a sadness in your eyes…so I prayed.

It was great to see you building friendships with women knowing how hard it is for you to trust. Folks would come after you and call you crazy. I always responded on social media, “She isn’t crazy she’s Keke and what she has been through is crazy.”

Watching the interaction with you and your  hubby was very familiar. Your Michael reminded me so much of my Mikel. Strong, problem solver, father, patient and kind. Due to his support I began to get my life together. I started intensive therapy and mental health classes. Becoming closer to Christ and making sure to rid myself of toxic thoughts was another milestone in my progress.

I began to take steps to heal my hurt and be the whole healed woman my husband needed. I am still in therapy and I still go to classes from time to time. Volunteering and daily prayer are also a part of my regimen. All of these things are helpful in healing from past struggles.

The next time I saw you was on the Marriage Boot camp show. The struggles between you and Michael were magnified for the world. It was hard to watch. The show ended and things were quiet for a while.  Now you’re back in the media; not for the perfect voice, not for the amazing range of that voice, but for a possible divorce.

Keke I pray that God’s will be done. I pray that if God wants your marriage to work that it will work. One day you will be healed and whole and have true peace. You will one day know and see the beautiful woman who is behind that big ole smile. Even if you don’t see it, there are many  think about you and want the best for you.

I want to share with you lyrics from your song. I know this was written as a love song but I like think of it with God as the focus.  He will give you his love, peace, time, joy, and everything else you need.

I’ll give you my love. I’ll give you my peace . I’ll give you my time. I’ll give you everything you need.  I’ll give you my love.  I’ll give you my joy. I’ll give you my life. 

You will always be that pretty girl I saw belt out His Eye is on the Sparrow as if the song was written only for you. If God looks out for the little bitty sparrow you know he is watching you. I hope this helps you in some way and I hope that all women can one day heal from abuse and that the men who love us can also get the support that they need.

Rhasha Hoosier