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Navigating the Middle

through adolescents, menopause, aging parents & other flying debris

Month

May 2014

Day 24: Silent Saturday

In silence and in self defense – I figured things out in my own little way. – Actress Loretta Young

Ever heard of “Silent Saturday?” It’s a nation-wide movement that started with soccer leagues to get parents to shut up and let the kids play the game. (Okay, that’s probably not the “official” mission statement, but you know what I’m talking about.)

Today, was our little leagues’ turn to participate, and there were two simple requests:

1.  Non-players were instructed to remain silent. Only light clapping was allowed.
2.  Spectators were asked to wear green – the color of growth, harmony, and balance.

That was it. Coaches, parents, and on-lookers sat virtually closemouthed while the players figured out how to play the game without input from the sidelines. The kids quickly began imitating their coaches; the head coach’s kid assumed the role of his father. They made decisions like when to steal bases, keep running, or how to play the infield, all without assistance from coaches or parents.

After the game, I asked my son how he enjoyed it. He said today’s game did seem more fun, but he wasn’t sure he’d want to play that way all the time.

The parents around our diamond seemed to embrace the rules, as well. Observers on both teams adhered to the mute status during play. An adjacent diamond wasn’t quite as impressed with Silent Saturday. They could be heard “cheering” from across the field. But who can blame them? It’s hard not to get excited when your kid is playing well…or not so well.

I’m not sure whether the kids benefited from participating in Silent Saturday. But they manged to win a baseball game and appeared to have fun. They usually have fun.

Maybe the lesson was for the parents: Give your kid a chance. He probably already knows what to do (and will do it)…without you YELLING at him.

 

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Day 25: Graduation Day

Today is graduation day at our local high school and thousands of students throughout Maryland. Speeches will delivered; diplomas will be handed out; and Instagram, Twitter and Facebook will explode with pictures.

In honor of all graduates, I am sharing the 2014 keynote address from my Alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin. In this inspiring video, U.S. Naval Admiral William H. McRaven shares lessons learned during basic SEAL training and how these lessons can be used to change the world.

And even if you are like me, and you graduated many years ago, it’s still worth the 20 minutes.

If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment. – Admiral McRaven

 

Day 26: The Rainbow Connection

We just returned from an elementary school spring choral concert. Up until about a month ago, we had no idea that our 10 year-old was even interested in music. But tonight, there he was, along with several other fourth graders performing songs like “Don’t Worry Be Happy” and “My Favorite Things.”

After his performance, the fifth graders took the stage. I have to admit. They sounded much better than their younger cohorts. As their set neared its conclusion, they began to sing, “The Rainbow Connection.”

For those of us who were children when “The Muppet Movie” premiered, but weren’t really paying attention because we were busy being teenagers, the song is what I most remember.

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
All of us under its spell.
We know that it’s probably magic.
Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?
I’ve heard them calling my name.

Funny how in one moment: you’re a middle-aged woman at a kids’ concert. A moment later: you’ve become the 11 year-old, the dreamer. Another moment slips by: and you’re back, tearing up as you witness a beauty of which the others are completely unaware.

I wanted to freeze the moments for them. I wanted to tell them not to rush through life and not to look past the present. I wanted the song to last forever because in that moment, in their voices, I was young again.

Then the song was over; the connection was lost.

Day 27: Phenomenal Woman, phenomenal life

What can I say about this “treasure,” this woman of substance and insight. She was and will always be phenomenally,  “Phenomenal Woman.”

Listen to Dr. Maya Angelou’s May 2013 appearance on Super Soul Sunday (OWN)as she shares her words.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

by Maya Angelou, April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014

Day 28: #YesAllWomen

Born from Friday night’s tragic shootings and brutal murders in Isla Vista, California, a greater conversation has emerged on social media. The hashtag Yes All Women is an outpouring in response to killer, Elliott Roger’s 137-page manifesto, in which he rails against women and humanity.

Instead of making the conversation about him, a broader dialogue has opened up about sexism, misogyny, and violence against women. As of this morning, #yesallwomen had been Tweeted more than one million times. Here are 12 that really caught my attention. What caught yours?

#yesallwomen 

  1. Eliza Divine @MsElizaDivine: Because I’m not here for your enjoyment or entertainment. I have my own life’s purpose and it likely has nothing to do with you.
  2. Sheeby Clerk @sheblyclerk: Because we’ve been taught to fear completely harmless situations “just in case”.
  3. Missy Moo @beetrootlover41: Because magazines ‘for women’ focus solely on gossip, fashion, cooking, and articles on how to get or please a man.
  4. @toreyischill: Because talking about domestic abuse and rape is uncomfortable and awkward, but making crude jokes about it isn’t.
  5. Bethany Jayne @bethanyFae: Because women get guilt tripped by an entire community when they feel uncomfortable & “won’t give that guy a chance”.
  6. Megan Rose @DarthMeg: Because when I was 10 years old, my grandma told me to lose weight or I’d never be able to find a husband.
  7. Tara D @anateboteo: Because when my boyfriends mother comes over and sees him doing dishes she says “but you have two women in the house habibi!”
  8. Jess @jessicarudnicki: Because you are not going to take feminism away from me and call me bossy/hostile/aggressive and make this about yourself.
  9. Shawnelle Martineaux @nellemartineaux: Because when we express ourselves we’re automatically assumed to be on our period.
  10. Cassy @cassyhough: For every single time a guy put me down for being smart/funny/loud and called me “intimidating” instead of “awesome.”
  11. Paige Marie @peeg13: Because when girls go to college they’re buying pepper spray and rape whistles while guys are buying condoms.
  12. Macyn @MaciKorfhage: I feel the need to say “I have a boyfriend” instead of “No” because guys respect other men more than they respect me.

And my own @realmofoya:
#yesallwomen Because if I don’t know you, don’t put your hands on me.

 

Day 29: My 9/11 Flag

This is the flag that hangs outside my home, mostly on patriotic holidays. It  was purchased on September 12, 2001. Since then, it has flown in Hawaii, Texas, and now has its home in Maryland.

We are a military family.

My father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all military men. Thankfully, none of them died while on active duty. But the flag still reminds me of their sacrifice, theirs and so many others who have died in service to our country.

But the reason I initially wanted a flag was not unlike many Americans who bought a flag on September 12th: the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It saw a lot of action when my husband deployed to Iraq for 14 months. He returned home, but nearly 4,500 service members did not.  In Afghanistan, where our troops have been fighting since 2001, two thousand, two hundred and twenty-nine have perished.

The way I see it, that flag is an enduring symbol of freedom, sacrifice, and selflessness.

A little more than a week ago, Army Specialist Adrian M. Perkins paid the ultimate price. He was only 19 and was probably in kindergarten when the towers fell.

Memorial Day is a day for remembrance of those who have died in service to our country, including 1,312,612 souls since the American Revolutionary War in 1775. Makes it kind of hard to say “Happy Memorial Day,” doesn’t it?

Day 30: MBF Seeking White Boyfriend…Jeans

After watching a recent episode of Katie, it was official. I HAD TO HAVE a pair of white boyfriend jeans, despite the warning that “every woman that puts on a pair of white jeans is afraid it’s going to show cellulite.” (confirmed)

Initially crestfallen, I was encouraged when Kelly Sparks, Joyus Style Expert, announced that you could avoid the dreadful “c” if you kept three things to keep in mind when selecting a pair of white jeans: look for less stretch (to avoid them from sticking to you and looking “gummy);” denser, thicker fabric; and buy one size up.

I imagined myself, looking like the model in the segment. Never mind that she was a staff intern, half my age, or that she was probably a size 2 or 4, I was going to get those jeans!

First stop: Lord & Taylor, my retail “go-to.” Now I’m not sure what the problem was, but there wasn’t a single pair throughout the store. I compensated by purchasing a skinny metallic belt and Kate Spade tote, rationalizing that both would look great with the jeans …once I found them.

Afterwards, I was off to Macy’s, where there is so much crap, I usually find what I’m looking for. Macy’s approach to the white jean, was to offer every imaginable style a woman could ever want (or never wear): jeggings, ultimate skinny – I can’t begin to imagine what those would look like on; straight; curvy skinny ankle (low rise); skinny (low rise); natural fit (tapered leg); tummy control (slim leg); and the curvy skinny ex-boyfriend jeans – I thought for sure that one would be a winner. It wasn’t.

photo 2 (9)          photo 3 (10)

Determined, not deterred, I ducked in and out of stores before landing in White House Black Market where their boyfriend jeans are actually called “girlfriend” jeans. (Wouldn’t that just be a “regular” jean?)

Several stores and many “butt” selfies later, I found what I was looking for, hanging in an Ann Taylor store. Since they didn’t have my size, I tried sizing-up, as recommended. Not a good look. Next, I tried sizing down: a little snug, and nothing like the boyfriend-fit I was expecting. They had my size in the back, which fit perfectly. Three hours later – MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

My advice for purchasing white jeans:

  1. Be prepared to try on several different styles and sizes. Start with your true size, then decide whether to size up or down. Whatever happens: size right.
  2. That whole – denser, thicker fabric is no joke. The right fabric will hide a multitude of sins.
  3. A little stretch goes a long way.  The pants I bought are only 2% spandex, but 1% is fine too. The key is to avoiding clingy fabric that gives you that “stuffed sausage look.”
  4. Florescent lights are not your friend, so use your cell phone for good and not for evil. Click as many shots as necessary to ensure you white boyfriend jeans (or any other clothing) looks good and fits well.

Day 31: The End of the Cleanse

My “semi” 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse has ended. I thought I’d be happier about it.

Beyond day 10, I hadn’t considered what to do next. I thought maybe I’d return to eating healthy about 70% of the time. Or maybe I’d have an epiphany and become a vegan, drink wheat grass, and take a battery of vitamins and supplements. Now, both options are off the table. (pun intended)

When I began the cleanse, I acknowledged (at least to myself) that I needed to shed a few pounds. The stress of Stephanie’s latest illness had made working-out feel like punishment, eating and drinking a comfort. So when a couple of friends started talking about the green smoothie cleanse, I didn’t really have to think about it.

It took me a few days to get started. Even when I did, I admit I never fully committed to the program. I had trouble with the idea of a “cleanse.” I believed that the body would cleanse itself, given time. I was also skeptical about starving myself, only to have the weight reappear as soon as the fasting ended. After deciding that my family (and I) would be much happier if I was eating, I began a modified cleanse: green smoothies for breakfast and lunch, and a well-balanced dinner at night; little to no processed foods, sugar, salt  or alcohol; and coffee – the one thing I refused to give up. I approached the cleanse in a way that I thought would best work for me.

Several days into the cleanse I noticed that not only was I enjoying this new way of eating, but I was no longer swallowing my feelings. I cried about my sister and returned to the gym the next day.

For me, the cleanse wasn’t about being perfect. It was about getting rid of the negative influences that were blocking my life. (How’s that for a metaphor?) The 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse was empowering and now that I’ve started, I need to find a way to keep going.

Day 33: You Shouldn’t Have to Explain…

My friend Kelly has a graduating senior this year. Like many proud moms, Kelly took to Facebook to celebrate her son Jordan’s acceptance into college. Although not his “original” choice, Jordan ultimately selected Howard University in D.C., over several other institutions vying for his enrollment. Kelly had insisted that he apply to at least one Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). 

I wasn’t surprised by Jordan’s decision; I know the sound reputation that the university enjoys. But I wanted to share their story, because I believe it speaks volumes to people’s preconceived notions, and even ignorance, as to why someone would turn down acceptance to a predominately White-serving Institutions (PWIs) to attend an HBCU. 

But I’ll let her tell you, in her own words…

It’s been interesting to note the reactions of some people when they learn that Jordan has decided to go to Howard University. He and I talked about this just yesterday. You can see it in their expression, “why would someone supposedly so smart go there?” It is clear that to some he will be earning an unrespected degree from an inferior institution with no job prospects as a result. I know they are wrong. I am thrilled that he is going to an HBCU, it has been my hope for all three of my children since they were born. I am confident that as long as he does his work, Jordan will receive a stellar education.

The article linked below, written by a current HBCU student, addresses the concerns of any parent or student grappling with the issue “HBCU or no”. Just wanted to share.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marcus-lee/from-morehouse-to-black-students_b_5365583.html#es_share_ended

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