Roots & Wings 

Mother’s Day weekend marked my 23rd year being a mother. It’s not always been easy but it was worth it. The early years I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I remember the first night with my oldest I thought there was a cat in the house. I kept hearing a weird noise in a high pitched voice. It was my newborn. I couldn’t put my middle son down at night or he would wail and turn red. I held him all night and no daycare could watch him because he was spoiled. Raising my youngest I needed so much help my grandmother and uncle watched her for the first 6 months. She would come home and look at me like lady who are you?

In their elementary school years, I started to get it right and kept them grounded in church and the values I was taught as a child by my mom. They learned to share, recited scripture, and I started discipline methods. The girls didn’t have to be told to often to shape up but that boy tested me…often. I stressed how important education was by telling them by own story of struggle. I showed them how important their sibling hood was and they promised to always have each other’s back.

In the last five years they have gone off to college, my oldest has graduated college and began working as a teacher; they are all in different chapters of their lives. They don’t need me to do the day to day parenting anymore. I don’t have to make sure I come to their aid with every tear. I can’t hold them throughout the night. Many times they go to each other with their questions and concerns and I don’t hear about the issue until months later. I am content in knowing that they have each other for advice and encouragement just as I taught them.

My youngest is staying in Columbus for the summer and working an internship instead of coming home. As much as I want her here to snuggle at night and make her favorite meals; she needs to start getting into her field and making moves. My son is headed to Morocco a place I don’t know much about but I’m learning. I could tell him that I don’t want him to leave the country right now and to please stay in Cincy this fall but then he couldn’t use his language skills and prepare for the next phase of his life.

My oldest daughter is in Houston and has one of the hardest jobs in the world. I was frightened when she started teaching. I was worried, but she has been teaching all of her life. She is my oldest child. She has been helping me with her siblings and she has always said she wanted to teach. So she has her own beautiful place and is thriving.

As Mothers we want to have our children right there with us forever. We often want to soften the blows of life. I think we are here for two reasons, to give them roots and wings. I have done that, now I am reaping the benefits of watching them soar.

My Girls; True Friends.

imageI spent Cinco De Mayo weekend with my daughters Brittany and Ana. My oldest daughter Brittany celebrated her 23rd birthday. The girls had not seen each other since the holidays. Whenever they are together it’s just fun watching them. We were just sitting around the house and Brit walked in like she came back from grabbing milk. “What’s up y’all?” Ana was so happy and ran up to her big sis. My heart was so warm and full of love. My girls have always been close even if it was shunning their middle brother that brought them together. I remember him driving them crazy and them telling him to get lost when they were young.

As they were growing up they had their normal ups and downs. They got on each other’s nerves just like normal siblings, but they never fought. They never cussed each other out or had any of the drama I saw from sisters on tv. As they grew up Brittany took care of Ana like a little mother. She was there for her emotionally, spiritually,and physically. Often when Ana couldn’t come to me with different issues I knew that Brit would provide sound advice.

Even though Ana is 3 years younger than Brit she also is a listening ear when she’s needed. Brittany was the more patient, kind and tolerable sister and can be taken advantage of. Ana is much more suspicious of people, stands her ground more and is introverted. The older they get, I notice they are interchangeable. Often Brit is outspoken and impatient with mess and Ana tells me how many friends she has made during different events.

During the weekend I could hear them talk for hours in their room until late in the night. Ana would bust out laughing and then Brit would laugh in her high pitched voice. I love the relationship they share, the sisterhood. I hope that one day my relationship with my sis will be just as strong.

Spring 2017

Spring has always been my favorite season. Not only were five of my favorite people born in April and May but my birthday is April 10th. I love how the air smells in spring.  I enjoy watching the trees bloom beautiful pinks and reds. I especially love telling winter deuces, goodbye, Ciao. The rain can be a bit much at times but I know that rain feeds the grass, trees, and flowers. In Texas no matter what, the sun comes out everyday. It can rain for hours but right before evening the sun will show its face.

This spring is very special to me. I will turn 40 this spring. I plan to enjoy this year like no other. I plan to fly a kite, roll down a hill, dance in the rain instead of fretting about it. I am even starting a garden this spring. I want to plant tomatoes and peppers to start with. I have a whole list of what I am going to do in 2017 but that’s a whole ‘nother blog. Today is March 20th and from today until June 19 I will embrace  this vernal equinox with happiness, joy, and compassion for the season  and for mankind. Gotta run time for a bike ride.

Moonlight

An Oscar for best picture, critical acclaim, and an all black cast. An actor I admired from House of Cards in a lead role. Janelle Monae as a supporting character; all things that made this movie a must see for me. I’ve been hearing about Moonlight for a while now. I heard it was powerful. I heard that the actors were strong and that the film contained a message. However I had trouble locating it in my theatre.

It wasn’t playing anywhere in my city. I mean nowhere! I live in The DFW area; the FW portion. The movie was not showing in Fort Worth; not in my town of Keller. There was one theatre in the Pearl Arts District where it was showing. I planned to go with my good friend and therapist. I enjoy the artsy area and the many places to dine. But then the Oscars came on and the movie won the highest honor. Actor Mahershala Ali won best supporting actor, and the writer won best writing in an adapted screenplay. Naomi Harris was nominated for best supporting actress but lost to Viola Davis.

All of the sudden Moonlight is playing all over The Metroplex. It’s playing more shows in the arts district and in my little suburb of Keller. So it was perfect, my mother- in- love and daughter were here visiting and we were excited to see the film. The attendant asked if this was our first time seeing it. I heard online that many theaters were taking a survey. The theatre was scarce, three groups of people for a total of ten viewers.

Without giving the entire movie away in this blog, the plot was about a boy who comes into his own as he struggles with his sexuality. He also has a few home life issues; dysfunctional parents and living in the tough Liberty City area of Miami, FL. He meets a man who takes him under his wing but that man is not without his own flaws and struggles. The movie uses great cinematography and transitions. Ali draws you in and makes you fall in love with Juan. You also want to protect Chiron played by Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes.

This movie left me feeling conflicted. I wanted it to be great. I wanted to feel wonderful and be blown away with Ali’s acting. Ali’s character Juan was only in the movie for 45 minutes. I was expecting so much more from this great cast. This year I have seen excellent films; Hidden Figures and Fences to name a few. The conclusion left me with so many questions.

I lied, spoilers are coming.

Will Chiron live in his own truth and learn to be honest about his sexuality? I feel like at the end of the movie he could have said, “ I am a gay African American man.” Will he continue to live a lie and also have an existence without love? Being gay is accepted now more than ever before, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy for him. He has been bullied most of life because of it. Will Kevin( Andre’ Holland) want to be with him and start a life as a bisexual male raising a son? There are thousands of men who enjoy sex with woman and men. They are sometimes accused of wanting to “ have their cake and eat it too.” Did Barry Jenkins want us to leave the theatre with these questions?

My overall thought on the movie is it was pretty good. I was told and also gathered from the trailers that the meat of the movie would be about the relationship between Chiron and Juan. I was excited to see a father dealing with his son coming out as gay in the hood. That is really not what the movie was about. Juan was not Chiron’s father and the movie was more about Chiron’s life transition. Again I am conflicted, was the movie just okay or just not what I expected? Do I want to love the movie because the entire cast looks like me? Now I’m asking all of the questions.

Although the movie was not what I expected, it was a proud moment seeing an all black cast walk up on that stage and receive the award. There were three wonderful African American stories told this Oscar season. Moonlight was not my favorite but it was a story that needed to be told.

North Carolina Come On and Raise Up!

North Carolina Come On and Raise Up!

imageI had the pleasure of spending my anniversary in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was my first time there but it won’t be my last. I wanted to go to New Orleans since the drive is not far from Dallas where I live; but my husband had a work trip scheduled and invited me to tag along and we could celebrate on the weekend. So we packed and set out for North Carolina. The flight was two hours long and I used the time to anticipate the visit. The people there will all have accents, they will be very friendly, the city won’t be much.

The weather was nice; although it was February it felt like Spring. Our hotel was downtown in an area full of restaurants and bars. The hotel was okay and the guest service reps were nice. We dropped our bags off in the room and headed out for dinner. As soon as we turned the corner there it was, the place we went on our first date in Indiana, The Rock Bottom Brewery. I knew they were in the Midwest but never knew they were anywhere else. That was the first night and dinner was nice. What a great start.

Over the next few days we explored downtown. There was so much within walking distance. We walked and talked with the friendly folks none of who had accents; many were from up north. We met up with some friends at a very nice restaurant and learned a lot about the North side and the South Park mall area. After dinner we visited the mall and spent a lot of time walking. Again the people were personable and diverse.

The last few days we went to the downtown bar crawl and danced and walked back to our hotel buzzed. We didn’t make any plans we just went with the flow. We talked, laughed and cracked jokes and ended up in each other’s arms.. It was much like the old days when we first met. It was fun exploring the malls we were told about and some of the often talked about Charlotte spots.

We went by Duchess from Black Ink Crew’s tattoo shop and I still couldn’t convince Mike to get any ink. He says he’ll never get a tatoo. I just have one. We walked over to Peter from the Housewives of Atlanta’s bar and there was no place to park. We also sampled both Mert’s and The Midnight Café which were both pretty good.

Our final day in The Queen City we found a beautiful park to sit in and watch the sunset. Overall it was a nice town. Kind of reminds me of Atlanta without the traffic, half the population, and lots of culture. The museums were closed on Monday not sure why but that gives us a reason to return. Also I would love to go again and visit the historic areas. This anniversary was very special, not only because of the man I married but because of the place.

What’s My Name?

Rasha, Tasha, Ratasha, Russian, Soviet Union, these are all of the names that I have been called over the years. As a child I absolutely hated my name. I would often ask my mom why the heck she named me that and her response was always the same.”Your dad named you, I wanted to name you Ayanna.” I am glad she didn’t because my childhood bully was named Ayanna and that may have made it worse. Anywho that’s another blog for another day.

I was made fun of just as most kids were. I made it easy by walking around as Rhasha Halliburton. So I was Russian Hamburger and in my adult years I was ‘oh like the Texas rich money Halliburtons? ‘No like my daddy and momma are in social work and live in Indiana. As I left high school and started at a local community college kids started to tell me how cool my name was. There was a family friend who said the “S” like a “J” and made it sound really exotic and when I met my friend Mikel ( now husband) he told me how much he loved my name. He said he wanted to name his youngest daughter Rhasha but her mom didn’t like it.

My marriage and travels led me to Columbus, OH where everyone loved my name and always complimented me on it. Then I started getting the question about where my Dad found this name and what did it mean. I started to realize my name was dope as hell! Matter of fact I started realizing my name is just like me, different, uncommon, and my husband’s word exotic. I don’t think like most people. I am kind of weird and strange. My name fits me.

Whenever someone tells me that they love my name I text my dad and tell him thanks. It took me thirty years to appreciate the precious name he gave me as a baby. Now at almost forty my name has been said on the radio; once on a national show. My name is on a published book, and my last daughter was praised on a news show for her name, Ana Hoosier. Just like my dad I think her name fits her. I gave it to her because my Great Grandmothers name was Anabelle and she was so sweet and her skin was beautiful. Ana is not sweet at all but she is proud that her name means something.

It’s funny I always wanted to be named April, or Amber. I am sure there are MANY of those in the world, but so far I have only found two Rhasha’s with the same spelling as mine and I hope they are as proud of their name as I am, thanks Daddy.

Fly

It’s often said that as parents we raise our children and after raising them we are to let them fly. They don’t tell you that’s easier said than done. For some it’s losing control over their children. For others it’s the need to keep their children close to them. For me it’s very simple-fear. The fear of my daughter being hurt by those who don’t love her. The horror of some evil person trying to extinguish the great light that is inside of her. I even worried about her choosing her first post college apartment. And Oh Lord how will she pay for a house full of furniture? And what about her fifth roomate? Here we go again…

This weekend God showed me that as much as I love my sweet Brittany, he loves her more. I was able to spend the weekend with her. Brittany is living out not only his plan for her life, but her plan. She has said she would be a teacher since I can remember. So last week she began her journey as a 2nd grade teacher in her new city Houston, TX. She decorated her classroom and had her lesson plans all together. She found a very nice luxury apartment in a sprawling neighborhood with trails and beautiful trees. She has a couch, a dining room table, dishes, and all of her needs. We were so happy to purchase her a bed and a lamp to complete her list. Brit has her stuff together and I quickly learned this is no longer my college student. 

She has a reliable vehicle that she looks so cute driving. Her backseat is full of items for her classroom and a couple of Brittany spills. I guess driving while eating breakfast is harder than she thought. Brit is not a kid to miss any meals. She lives close to work and church. She is excited about joining a small group within her church community. I was able to visit her church on Sunday and enjoyed myself. 

My baby even has her own group of friends. Some of them are friends from Ball State where she attended school. Some are teachers who mentored her when she was student teaching. They have been like a small family. They have helped her along her path, helped her with home furnishings and showed her the ropes about what areas of town to stay away from. 

My little premature baby girl who weighed 4 pounds 9 ounces and had to live in an incubator for weeks is now a 22 year old teacher. The kids call her Ms. Hoosier. This is my Britsy who had a rare cancer at age 6 and went through almost a year of chemo and radiation. She is now a working tax paying real job having adult. I respect her vision. I have always supported her goals. I have her back the same way my mom always has mine. So after the 4 hour drive from Houston to Dallas I rested and slept like a baby. God has her in his arms. I am gonna stand back for a second…until I find her a husband and have some grandbabies. But for now I am going to let this beautiful bird fly.