The Beauty of my Day of Birth

Every year is so much sweeter than the last. My day of birth is more than just getting older. With each new day, I become richer with every breath that I take. I celebrated with my sister earlier today over a beautiful lunch. So precious is our time with family!!

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Oh Please!!

Never has it been truer than the old adage: you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time. I’m starting to feel like ‘some of the people‘ is quickly moving into the ‘none of the people‘ category. It has become increasingly difficult to gain the approval and/or acceptance from others, for simple acts of kindness both big and small. The more you try and satisfy everyone, the further away you seem to drift from that goal altogether. To please or not to please? A most appropriate question in this instance.

So, you might conclude, why even bother? And who could blame you if you feel this way? Especially when you’re more likely than not, to be shot out of the sky. Why would you not opt to fly closer to the ground, where the crash landing is bound to be less painful? But what fun would that be and what about your satisfaction? When you’re a ‘people-appeaser’, it’s very hard to retrain yourself to be of the opposite mindset. And why should you feel like you have to change who you are? How unpleasant of an experience would that be for you, to behave in a way that goes against every grain of your character, just for the sake of what others may or may not think?

You might find, that as soon as you change your modus operandi, those very same people, who couldn’t acknowledge your good efforts in the past, will come for you, with guns a blazing, to show their…wait for it, wait for it…. displeasure in your ‘new attitude’. Which would be more disheartening for you, the seemingly never-ending hard to please people around you, or the facade you decided to wear, in a sad attempt to please those who cannot be pleased? After all, isn’t misrepresentation of yourself, the worst representation of all, since it does not reflect the real you?

What are you to do when going left wreaks havoc, and going right compounds things further to your disadvantage? Should you continue doing what makes you feel good, even at the risk of having your good intentions and gestures promptly returned to you, like a letter that unexpectedly comes back to you in the mail marked, ‘return to sender?’ In the end, you have to be pleased with yourself before you can please anyone else, right? Or are you simply reading this post while concluding, “Oh please!!”

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

The Decision is In

Well, the decision is in. It happened just like I was told it would. Being faced with the daunting decision of whether or not to remove not only one part of my anatomy, but an additional and equally important part as well. Honestly, I hadn’t been toiling over the decision as much as a person might that found themselves in this position. I mean, I thought about it on and off, but there are always so many other things happening in my life, that my focus ends up in many different places, almost simultaneously. I guess that could be a good thing, because it doesn’t allow me to dwell on any one thing. Instead, I flit around from one issue to the next, sharing little pieces of my attention respectively, much like a bee that buzzes around from flower to flower. After all, there are so many choices. I wonder how the bees decide where to begin.

On the morning of my follow up appointment with my surgeon, I woke up and I knew immediately what I was going to do. There wasn’t any fuss or muss and I saw things with a clarity that isn’t always a part of my decision-making process and for that, I am very thankful. As I lay there calmly, looking around my bedroom, the decision floated into view as vividly as the clouds in once blue skies, that signal the impending rain that is sure to follow.

Okay, so that part is done and I am content with my decision. Well, as content as anyone in this predicament could be. However, the hardest part is still to come. Yes, I have come to a decision concerning breast cancer surgery but along with this knowledge comes the fact that I will be minus two parts of my anatomy that I have lived with my entire life. My breasts have always been a special part of my body and I’ve always valued and revered their beauty, their purpose. I can’t help but wonder what a woman does when she has this mastectomy surgery that removes her entire breast(s)? How does she feel about herself when she looks in the mirror? Does she worry about how her husband/mate, family and friends will view her post-surgery? I am now that woman with all these questions.

I’ve had my share of surgeries in my life time but this one will be the most intricately personal one by far. A woman’s breasts can instill a whole lot of pride or they cause her to bear the brunt of much shame, when faced with their surgical removal. However, I will remain alive and well as a result of this decision. Beauty may be only skin-deep, but this experience will no doubt make me a more beautiful person from within. That is what matters most, right? I’d say, the decision is in!

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

When My Inner Voice Speaks

I usually speak to my mom each night before I go to bed. It’s funny…it’s seems that no matter how old I get, there’s still a kind of comfort that can only come from that one, all-important phone call to end my nights properly. My mom asked, as she usually does on Saturday night, if I was going to church the next morning. I said that I was pretty sure that I would not be attending. My mom accepted my answer with no fuss or muss as we both agreed that we would speak in the morning before she left home for service.

Well, I couldn’t agree with that old adage more, that says something about the best laid plans not always working out. When I woke up this morning, I became immediately convicted about my decision to stay home and not go to church. After all, there really wasn’t anything that I had to do that should get in the way of my going. But my original plan was to take a shower, get dressed, make myself some breakfast, and then sit on the side of my bed, (as I often do) and either envelop myself in the computer or a book that I am trying so diligently to complete. Now, to you, the reader, these plans may not seem like anything dire or anything that has to be done with any kind of urgency on a lovely Sunday morning, such as this one that I have again been so blessed to wake up to. Yet, it was my original quest to do each of these non-critical things.

However, once my feet hit the cold hardwood floors of my bedroom, and the warm sunlight streamed in to bid me good morning, I automatically walked over to my closet to figure out what I was going to wear to church. Yes, just like that, my best-laid plans had changed, within an instant. I didn’t have to look very long to figure out what to wear and quickly began preparing to make my way to morning service. You may be wondering, what happened? I was determined to go in one direction, but quickly found myself headed in another.

You see, I couldn’t bring myself to sit idly by, not properly paying homage to my Father; the one who makes it possible for me to open my eyes every day and take in my precious surroundings. God has been showing me some really pivotal things lately, things that I cannot ignore. I’ve been learning to put every bit of my trust in him and his promise to provide for everything my heart desires. The world has been crashing down around me lately, one thing after the other. Things that the average person would wonder how they would manage to work through. I have truly been realizing, with shocking clarity, that no matter what happens, no matter how big or small the problems are that arise, God is always there and has never and will never let me down.

Worrying is the human thing to do, but what does it really accomplish? A headache maybe, an elevation in blood pressure? And oh, yes. Let’s not forget, much unnecessary stress. Worrying certainly doesn’t make the problems disappear. If anything, it seems to exacerbate them. Who needs that, right? It’s a beautiful thing when I came to realize that putting my trust in God is the worry-free option that can move all the mountains that seem to be forming around me. I can only sit in awe and marvel at the profound blessings that God has bestowed upon me. But I had to first learn to cast all my worries and cares upon him. Admittedly, I’m not perfect and don’t always do this, as the human side randomly rears it’s fickle head from time to time.

I said all that to say this. I’m so glad that I listened to my inner voice as it is always speaking to me, ever so subtlety. It was so wonderful to fellowship and commune with others. Attending church is one of the ways I say “thank you” to God, for all that He does in my life. I can now sit on the side of my bed, envelop myself in the computer, or go back to reading that book I’m trying so diligently to complete, and do it all with a clear conscience. My new quest…to listen to my inner voice when it’s speaking. It usually has something very important to say; something I need to heed!

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

“Big Boy Pants” – One Leg at a Time

 

I thank the heavens for small favors. My one and only son has been showing some real signs of maturity lately. I’ve rubbed my eyes on several occasions to make sure I wasn’t seeing double or something but my eyes did not deceive me. Slowly but surely, he’s coming around…or so I thought.

He just purchased his first car a couple weeks ago. It’s seemed that this was a blessing in disguise. Along with the new responsibility of having a vehicle, came what appeared to be a more grown up attitude. Now some of you out there may be reading this and saying to yourself, my goodness, she sure doesn’t put her son in a very good light. I assure you, though it may sound that way, that’s not it at all. Just sharing some real life honesty with you.

Admittedly, I wish I could feel a bit more confident with his driving ability. The few times I’ve rode with him have been quite the adventure to say the least. He takes off from a standstill much too fast and his turns around corners….oh my! For some reason, he feels he needs to speed into the turn. I just don’t get it! Why do new and/or young drivers feel like they have to drive fast when they haven’t been driving very long? I would think they would feel safer going a bit slower until they are a little more experienced behind the wheel. But this isn’t the case with my son. And heaven help me if I say anything about his driving. You would think I asked him to hand over the keys! Sometimes that’s not a bad idea but anyway….I try to give constructive criticism when I see him doing something like taking off too fast or speeding into a turn and I do this amazingly without the parental panicked demeanor that I could have. Oh, and let me not forget the booming, vulgar rap music that he likes to blare from his new vehicle.

My son insisted on taking me to the store one day and as we were pulling off, he pressed a button that turned on the cd player, and the most explicit nonsense exploded through the car speakers. In this particular song, the rapper kept repeating the same obscene line….over and over again. As this racket hit my ears full force, I felt as though pure venom was being spat at me. I looked at my son like he had at least 2 heads, because I don’t know which one was in charge, but he needed to turn that darn crap off! He had the nerve to be mad that I looked upset! Seriously?! I vowed right then and there that I would rarely ride with him in the future if this is what it was going to be like! Then I had to hear about how it’s his car and this is the music that he listens to. Okay…that’s fine. I’m well aware that it’s his car. After all, I was with him when he purchased it. But where’s the maturity to realize that he could play this music any time being that it is rare that I am riding with him? I just grinned and beared it for the rest of the ride and I’m sure anyone that saw us that day, also saw the steam coming from me and pouring out through his car windows along with that horrible music!

It’s like someone lifted a veil from eyes one day and everything is crystal clear now. You see, I have been my son’s source for everything in his life…for all of his life – from day one. In the process of being there for him, I’m sure I’ve hindered him in many ways and with that comes regret. I can clearly see how dependent he still is on me.  Sometimes I am in awe about the things that he asks me or the way he views things. I am floored sometimes by his behavior when things don’t go his way. It’s like rewinding back at a high speed to when he was 4 or 5 years old. This may sound mean but it’s the simple truth. I’m down right scared for him at times because he feels he has a good handle on life but he really has no idea.

A lot of his naivete can be blamed on the fact that he still resides with me and has not experienced life on his own yet. (See recent post – Failure to Launch) I feel like the longer he lives with me, the more stifled his growth becomes. We’ve been together like two peas in a pod since the beginning of his life. He now has a hard time picturing me living all alone in a big house without him. Sometimes I want to scream, PICTURE THIS…I want my peace,quiet and solitude! Little does he know, life will go on for me, even when he moves out. I just hope and pray that he wakes up soon and puts his big boy pants on…even if it’s one leg at a time! Just put them on already!

 

What would my grandma say?

 

I often wonder what my grandma would say about so many things if she were alive today. She had such high hopes for me and my siblings. My grandma had a unique way of making each one of us feel like we had a special and individual relationship with her. It takes a special person that can make so many feel uniquely special, all at the same time.

I can’t help but feel that my grandma and I shared the most unique bond of all. I was the firstborn and my mother has often told me that my grandma fell in love with me instantly as a baby. So much so that she actually kept me for the first nine months of my life!  This still amazes me when I think about it now in my adult life. It started off that grandma was only going to keep me for a couple of weeks to give my mother a little break. A couple of weeks became a  month, two months, so on and so on until nine months quickly rolled around. My mother actually had to insist that my grandma give me back which my grandma of course did, but reluctantly.

Sometimes, I think my own bonding time with my mother suffered some as a result of the first crucial months being spent away from her. It’s almost as if there’s some kind of unspoken disconnect that exists between my mother and I, even to this day. Now, let me be very clear. My mother and I love each other to pieces, but I often feel that intangible missing link that casually floats between us.

My parents used to take my siblings and me to stay with grandma for the summers. We would cry when our parents dropped us off and we would cry when they came to pick us up. Oh the fickleness of children! My grandma would always promise that one of those old days she was going to come back home with us and stay for a couple of days! But until that time came, we just cried like babies when we had to leave grandma at the end of our summer visits.

This one particular summer visit had quickly come to an end. I knew there was a chance that grandma might come back with us this time, but I also knew that she probably wouldn’t. To our surprise,  grandma announced at the very last minute that she would indeed be traveling back home with us for a visit! We were beside ourselves with joy! We didn’t have to be sad about leaving grandma behind  because she was coming with us this time! We couldn’t have been happier!

I had recently learned to “french braid” my hair and had been promptly given the job of braiding all three of my sisters hair as well. Can’t say that I was happy about that but practice makes perfect, right?  Even though my grandma preferred wearing a wig, she was so excited about my new braiding skill, that she wanted me to try it on her as well. I happily braided her hair that weekend. I don’t know who was happier – me or grandma. Grandma only stayed for a few days as she was preparing to move the next weekend into a new house closer to town. She was so excited about us visiting her there in the future summers. That next weekend, my dad went to pick her up for the move. He could see my grandma sitting in her chair by the window as she had often done while watching and waiting for us to arrive in the summers. My dad knocked and knocked but she did not come to the door. My dad went and got someone to help break open the door. Sadly my grandmother had  passed away in her chair with her coat on waiting to go to her new surroundings, but she never made it. I still remember the day my father came home and broke the news to the rest of the family! I learned later that she had passed away with the french braids that I had done still in her hair! My grandma was indeed a special woman and I still feel a bond with her, all these years later. I hear her quiet encouragement when I am hesitant about a new project or adventure. I wonder what she would think of what I’ve accomplished thus far. Would she be pleased with the adult woman I’ve become? I would love to know what she would make of the world and all of the changes that have taken place since she passed away all those years ago. What would she think about all the things I’ve gone through in my life so far? I may never know the answers to these questions but I do know that grandma is somewhere smiling and marveling at everything. She may not be here in the flesh but she is always here in spirit! I will always love you grandma!

Desperate Decisions….Desperate Measures

 

It seems everyday we are bombarded with stories from the media that put us in the prime position to pass judgement. Even without all the facts. This hardly seems fair, right? Maybe, maybe not. But to err is human and evidently, so is passing judgement. It’s probably one of the single-most common things many of us can agree that we do on a daily basis, even though it may not be intentional.

So, this news story splashes across the t.v. this morning as I’m rushing around trying to make my quick morning exit to begin my day. This story was about a mother who made a crucial and what could be a life-changing decision that will her affect not only her own life, but her two children as well for years to come.

In lieu of a job interview, this woman left her 6 month old and 2 year old children in her car with the windows barely cracked open while she was inside of a building being interviewed for a job! Fortunately the children were discovered in time before anything seriously happened to them but both children appeared to be under distress and were sweating profusely. According to authorities, the inside of the car had reached a temperature of over 100 degrees!

Now, when I first heard this, I immediately felt for the safety of the children of course. Then as the story sunk in further, I started to ponder the decision of the mother. Only someone who was at her desperate wit’s end would make a decision such as this! What would drive a mother to put her children at risk? The compassionate mother side of me couldn’t help but think that this woman had to think she didn’t have any other choice. Her decision came out of a need to provide for herself and her children. Maybe she felt that the interview would not take long and that the children would be totally safe within the confines of her car. The thought of the hot temperatures may never have occurred to her. You can rest assured that it occurs to her now.

Surprisingly, people have really come to her defense and have even started a monetary fund for her that has already reached well over $110,000.00! I must say that human nature never ceases to amaze me! As quick as some people were to judge and desire this woman’s head on a chopping block, there were those that were there to tip the scales, and overwhelmingly so!

Sadly, this mother may be facing jail time as a result of her desperate decision(s) and even more, her desperate measures. Out of all this and for what it’s worth, you can’t help but wonder…..after risking virtually everything…..minus all the media attention…. would she have gotten the job?

August 2017
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