All Articles Tagged "life lessons"
For a little over two years, Madamenoire’s parenting editor Kweli Wright has been a wonderful source of inspiration. A few months into becoming a published and paid author, she pushed me to become a professional. When I would write from an objective point of view, she would send an email back telling me that the best way to establish a voice is to take a side and be divisive because it will pay off in the long run. With no formal journalism experience, she would send me online classes that I could take for free. Out of the clear blue sky, she once sent me a text message asking me if I had any editorial experience just to pick my brain; knowing that it would plant the seed for me to think bigger. If there was an editorial position she thought would be a good fit for me, she would send it my way, telling me “Get over your fear of improper grammar usage,” and that I’m ready. She had virtually given me carte blanche to pitch and write about whatever I wanted to, trusting my abilities all before meeting in person.
This morning, Kweli struck again when she posted a link on from Scarymommy.com on Facebook entitled 10 Things I Want My Daughter To Know When Things Get Real. As the father to a little girl, I felt compelled to read it. The whole list are all things that I would love for my daughter Cydney to know as well. But as a father, number two stood out to me the most.
Know the Difference Between Desire and Value
I am a single parent to a five year old whose mother passed away while she was an infant. Cydney looks at me and sees a superhero who even when he scolds her can do no wrong. Even if her mother were alive, I’m daddy: her first love. Even if her mother were alive and we were together, as her dad, this is a lesson that is most applicable coming primarily from me. My daughter has seen me date (she always wants to come along and will give her approval or disapproval in their face), look, and act in a manner that she sees Disney princes do on television. It is part of the foundation that instills value into her.
As a verb, desire is defined as to “strongly wish for or to want,” with synonyms being covet, yearn, want, aspire to, and so on. The verbal tense of value means “1) Estimate the monetary worth (of something. 2) Consider (someone or something) to be important or beneficial; have a high opinion of,” with alternative verbs being assess, appraise, appreciate, esteem, and respect.
To be desired is a wonderful thing. We all want to be wanted and coveted to some extent. There is nothing wrong with aspiring and position one’s self to be yearned and lusted after a little; as well as giving into our desires as well. It drives us all. I want my daughter to indulge a little. If life’s best teacher is experience, I want her to give into a little to it…because this makes for a life worth living. Life is hard; but learning along the way is most of the fun. To desire something is the root of finding value in something and someone.
Value comes in three phases: appraisal, assessment, and investment. Based on one’s desires, we see something we like, decide decide if it is something worth acquiring, and then endow it into something worth more than it was when we originally wanted it. Be it professional, social/interpersonal, and in love, I want my daughter to sought to be valued.
At five-years-old, she is raw material that I, loved ones, and her teachers are investing into her becoming the best person that she can be. Before entering kindergarten, Cydney Milner plays soccer year-round and has her own podcast, because I want to invest into her interests and things she has already displayed exemplary talent. It costs time and money to do these things; but even if she winds up doing something else with her life, at a young age she is beginning to learn her worth.
There will be boys and men. As much as I would like to take credit for my child’s good looks, she is as gorgeous as her mother was. Being pretty will only lead to her being desired. If she puts too value into her looks, she will find it difficult for someone to look beyond that. We all desire nice things; but very rarely do pretty things appreciate with time. My baby girl could be a beautiful Bentley…
Chad Milner is a New York-based writer who founded the blog Single Dadventures, where he pens his (mis)adventures with his daughter, Cydney. He regularly contributes to Madamenoire, as well as various websites, giving insight on parenting, dating, relationships and music from the perspective of a young, single Black father. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
By Nadine Graham
Back in the 1980s, New York City had a real homelessness epidemic. Whether it was a Saturday afternoon spent in downtown Brooklyn or a trip into Manhattan for school clothes, I would tear up in my grade school years, tugging at my mother’s hand. “Ma, he said he’s hungry,” I’d state, pleading with my already harried mother as we rushed by. “Maybe we could give him some change, Mommy. Do you have some?” At times, she obliged.
Sometimes though, she either didn’t have the change available or she wrinkled her slim brown face into a frown. “Nadine,” she sighed once in her Jamaican lilt. “Everyone out here in the street doesn’t want money to buy food.” I pushed on, “What then? What do they need the money for then, Ma?”
As I got older, I learned for myself. I was able to differentiate between someone that was hungry from someone whose high was wearing down. I learned quickly as there were times when I would keep my mother’s pace, rushing along 34th Street, never breaking our stride, even as we were cursed for not dropping a few coins into the hands of someone sitting in the crevice of the adjoining buildings.
I started taking the train to school in the ninth grade. It was a long trip from East New York, buried deep in Brooklyn almost to the Brooklyn-Queens line and transferring trains all the way to Coney Island in South Brooklyn. I left the house at 6:30 am daily and ran into quite a few homeless people before making it to first period. Some were drunk and asleep in their urine soaked clothes, others were loud and intimidating, even to my teenage self — who believed I was tough enough to ‘handle whatever.’ I had been told by a number of adults by that point — the Vietnam War had stolen the lives of many folks on the street, although they were still breathing and moving around. Others had a rough life, demons to deal with, addictions… “Show compassion,” they said. “But be careful.”
I had flashes of my youth in my mind. I was the same little girl whose eyes pooled whenever me and my ma walked by someone on the street or in the train station, alone and destitute. Two weeks ago, I saw it again in my oldest daughter, all the way in her hometown, miles and miles away from my own. And felt my heart melt.
Atlanta is like NYC in the 1980s with homelessness. Same exact situation — if not worse. As an early Valentine’s Day gift I decided to treat my girls to an evening of fun and junk food at the circus. We gorged ourselves on popcorn and cotton candy for three hours. We laughed, danced and took selfies. On the way to the car, parked a block away, I told them both to put their hoods on. It was below 30 degrees that night. An older man, wrapped in a blanket, crossed our path. “I’m sorry ladies,” he started. “But would you happen to have any food left over? Anything? I’m hungry out here.” I quickly responded, “I’m so sorry. We don’t have any food at all.” “Aw,” he said. “That’s alright. Y’all have a good night.”
Within moments, I was warming up the car and scolding the older one for being absentminded and dropping her wallet while we were at the circus. “I don’t understand why you have to stuff that little purse full of stuff you don’t need every time we leave the house,” I shook my head. “What if that man that found your wallet wasn’t as honest as was? Hmm?” I looked at her for a response. She wasn’t facing me and I heard a sniffle.
Then I was worried. “What’s the matter?” The younger one looked completely bemused.
“That man…,” she turned, only partially though. I could see her face wet with tears.
“What? The homeless guy?”
“Yes,” she dragged it out, near sobs now. “He was hungry Mommy. And it’s cold outside.”
“I know baby,” I said, voice softening. “We didn’t have any food though.”
“I had this little bit of popcorn left though,” she lamented, full-on crying now. “I could’ve given this to him.”
“That’s not food though honey. That wouldn’t have done much, if he was hungry.”
I couldn’t believe it. Already, my kid — my first baby — is at that point of recognizing that everyone doesn’t have the blessings we may view as being simple in life. A full stomach, a warm bed when we’re sleepy. She’s compassionate, willing and somewhat able to feel for someone else’s misfortune. She cried for about 10 or 15 minutes, face straightening, then crumpling up all over again at the thought of the homeless man, I presume.
“It’s important to do what you can for those less fortunate, when you can babe,” I offered. “I think you’re old enough to volunteer now though, on the weekends. Lend a helping hand. What do you think?”
It was the only thing I could’ve said to get her to stop crying. “I think that’s good idea Mommy.” Then she drifted off for the rest of the ride home, still wearing a worrisome frown in her sleep.
When you settle in to watch a Lifetime biopic, you’re taking a risk. Especially if it’s about the life of a beloved Black woman. But when the family or the person whose story is being told has a hand in the telling of that story, there’s a good chance that things will go over well. See the VH1 TLC biopic and now the Lifetime’s Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart.
You would think that we already knew all there was to know about Toni Braxton. But the biopic revealed a couple of nuggets of good information like Toni not being able to talk about the fact that not only did she sue LaFace and Arista; but she couldn’t talk about the outcome of the case, (She won.), for ten years. We learned the severity of her health struggles, saw the shift in her family dynamic when her father’s infidelity was revealed. And we gained a bit more insight into the reason her marriage to Keri Lewis didn’t work out. But more than just tea, there were also some pretty great lessons we can learn from Toni’s trials and triumphs.
Check out five take aways from the tv movie.
Take Your Shot
In the very beginning of the movie, Toni and her sisters sing for LA Reid and Babyface. Unfortunately, the duo had already signed a girl group and they were only looking for a solo artist. And they wanted Toni. Yikes. It was a tough situation to put a young girl in, especially the eldest sister. But it was Toni’s father and brother who encouraged her to go for it. Her father, Michael, reminded her mother Evelyn that she too was offered an opportunity to sing professionally. Like her daughter, she was in a group as well. And out of loyalty, she turned the opportunity down. And her husband asked And how many shots did you get after that? Silence. Opportunity doesn’t always knock twice. And while Toni vowed to help her sisters, which she most certainly honored, she stepped out there on her own. Imagine what would have happened if she hadn’t.
When Toni first signed her record deal, Pebbles and LA kept talking about her artist budget. Everything was taken out of her artist budget. The clothes, the shoes etc. And while Toni had initial questions, after a while, LA Reid, told her that they could talk about all of that later. They certainly would talk about it later but not until the damage had already been done. Much of it was unavoidable but had Toni asked more questions, she might have had a better understanding of what could possibly happen.
Speak Up For Yourself
What I most admired about Toni, throughout the biopic, was that she stood up for herself. When she didn’t like what the musicians were doing to a song, when she wasn’t cool with the direction they were pushing her, whether she was ultimately right or wrong, she spoke up. And most memorably, when she learned that her finances had taken a hit, instead of cowering away, defeated, she sued the record company to (she thought) clear her name and and when she and Babyface reunited, she told him she wasn’t there to just do what he said anymore.
Listen to Your Body
Though she was diagnosed with Lupus until much later, Toni had been exhibiting symptoms of the disease for years, almost from the time she began her career. But she kept ignoring it, pretending like it wasn’t a big deal. Unfortunately, things had to go from bad to worse before she finally started listening.
Keep Fighting for Your Dream
Just when Toni became disenchanted with the music industry for the last time, she announced that she was retiring. But with the encouragement from some huge names in music and a push from her friend Babyface, she went back to it. And after the release of her comeback album, she and Babyface won a Grammy.
By definition, gratitude is an emotional state cultivated by the act of consciously saying “thank you” for the good in your life. Being grateful for what you currently have puts you in a better feeling state. This makes it more likely that more positive experiences will come your way to be grateful for. And you’ll be in the headspace (or heart-space) to receive it and say thank you for it.
Most parents begin teaching their children manners early on, encouraging them to say thank you when appropriate. This is a great start. We can go even further to encourage gratitude as a part of our children’s daily lives and ultimately their mindset and way of viewing the world.
Here are four ways to get started today:
Say Thank You To Them
Modeling is key for teaching children. “Do as I say, not as I do” does not apply. Their young, impressionable eyes are always watching. Therefore we must show gratitude to instill it as a value in them. This ranges from saying verbal thank yous to each other, and to those who provide you a service. To writing thank you notes, and ensuring your children write thank you notes or give “thank you” phone calls when they receive gifts.
In our house we don’t practice a specific religion. So when we sit down to dinner, in lieu of grace, we go around the table saying what we are grateful for at the moment. This is a practice you can start with children as soon as they can talk. We make it age appropriate for our one-and-a-half-year-old asking her “What are you happy about?” or “What makes you happy?” and her responses range from people, to a certain toy or an animal. We’re starting the mindset of gratitude early. Many families add this on as a practice before or after grace at each meal.
Gratitude journaling is the daily practice of logging what you are grateful for. Social media expert, and mom of 3, Daphne Leblanc suggests you “write down one thing you are grateful for in your day, as it not only reminds you of all the things you have, but seriously changes your perspective and mindset. It forces you to think positively.” There are many ways to begin gratitude journaling, whether it be writing one item on a post-it each morning, or a full list in a diary before bed. The key is to make it a daily act, so it becomes a habit.
There’s An App For That
When dealing with older children and teens, gratitude journaling may seem like too much “work.” Luckily there are many free apps that you and your children can use to record what you’re grateful for during the day. Some apps will even remind you to enter what you’re grateful for in timed intervals.
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is easy. Consistency is key. Try the tactics above and you’ll notice all the good around you, and be mindful of when more experiences pop up for you give thanks for.
Danielle Faust is the founder of FitNoire.com, a wellness site by and for Black women. She is also the voice behind the parenting/lifestyle blog OKDani.com. The mom of two is a certified life and wellness coach based in south Florida.
Beauty is, quite literally, pain as I discovered growing up as a Black female with natural 4B/4C hair. I’ve suffered the pain of sitting in salon chairs for countless hours getting my hair braided. I’ve gritted my teeth as I’ve gingerly laid my head of fresh micros onto my pillow, and anxiously awaited the painkillers to kick in. I’ve had super tight cornrows that pulled my face up so much that the mere act of blinking would shoot pain up my temples. I even once had an allergic reaction to the hair dye in my weave which incited an angry red rash and unrelenting itch all over my scalp.
Enough was enough! I finally took mercy on myself and shaved off my hair – all of it. But apparently, even a shaved head was too high maintenance for me. You see, I’m so lazy that a trip to the beauty shop every two weeks to get a trim was a far too burdensome task. So, in search of a long-term solution for low cost and low maintenance hair, I decided to lock my hair in August 2012. What I thought then was just another hairstyle I was trying out, turned out to be an amazing (and sometimes trying) journey full of unexpected life lessons. It’s only fair that I share some of these lessons with you.
Lesson #1: Patience is a Practice
Admittedly, I jumped into locking my hair without doing much research beforehand. I naively thought that I’d have mature locks after four months and that my hair would grow at an exponential rate. I hadn’t even heard about the budding stage which is arguably the worst stage of the journey because the buds are not particularly visually appealing. During this stage it wasn’t uncommon for non-dread-heads, especially, to give me unsolicited advice on how often I should re-twist my hair to “get rid of the bumps.” “No, the bumps are good!” I’d try to explain with no success. Those months were rough. Fortunately, my ignorance kept me on course because I was convinced that I was just a month or two away from mature locs.
By month six, my locs at the front still hadn’t completely locked and it was around that time that I resigned to the fact that there was no amount of salt water spray that was going to give me the quick result I’d been hoping for. I just had to wait. The act of surrendering myself to the process and patiently observing my hair transform over the subsequent months brought me to a new level of awareness in my everyday life. I became progressively in tune with my internal patience levels and how to check them.
I used to think that people were either innately patient or impatient, but I’ve since come to realize that patience is a skill that we practice over time. The front of my hair finally locked after a year and today I continue to practice patience as I wait for my hair to pass shoulder length.
Lesson #2: Embrace Change
Over the three years that I’ve had my locs, the texture of my hair has changed, the size of my locs has changed, the length of my locs has the change, the color of my locs has changed… The loc journey is a constant evolution. Each month my hair looks different and I discover new things that I can do with it. On the flipside, change also means that I lose the ability to do certain things with my hair that I used to do.
My loc journey serves as a reminder that nothing in life is permanent. Over the last three years I’ve become more optimistic in challenging times because I know that change is inevitable. My loc journey also inspires me to maximize my enjoyment of the present and to be more appreciative of what I currently have because who knows what next month will bring.
Lesson #3: Freedom
Initially when I locked my hair I was obsessed with ensuring that my parts were perfectly spaced boxes, but what I found was that the more I tried to manipulate my hair, the more I weakened my roots. I remember being up late one night researching how to fix weak locs when I honestly asked myself why I was fighting with my hair. If my hair wants to tangle, let it tangle! And so it was then that I started to semi-freeform and haven’t looked back since. My hair is at its healthiest, edges are on fleek, and finally I am free from being a slave to my hair! I no longer live in fear of pool parties and unanticipated thunderstorms, and I blissfully swim in the ocean unencumbered.
My locs are my outward expression of my desire to live a free and authentic life. When I look in the mirror, my locs challenge me to uphold my integrity in my intentions, decisions and actions. I love my locs.
by Barbara Verneus
This year my daughter Glorious-Zoelle Shaddai turned one on June 17, and I threw us a celebration—that’s right, us!
I had so many mixed emotions about becoming a mother, but I celebrated making it through my first year. I celebrated that I did not lose my mind. I celebrated that I was blessed with an amazing being of a daughter. I celebrated being blessed enough to be surrounded by a community of people who love and support my daughter and I. And most of all, I celebrated how the Lord was with us every step of the way.
In 2013, when I first learned I was pregnant, I became extremely depressed, lost my job, and had an ugly dispute with her father, who was not present for the entire pregnancy and who wanted nothing to do with us. I was totally miserable and saw nothing to be optimistic about in my situation; I went from being a lively, carefree spirit to a confused and suicidal shell of that person. As my due date approached, I wondered if I should keep her or give her up for adoption.
But once I saw her, my life and perspective were turned upside down. It felt surreal: I was a mother to this tiny person with such a giant spirit. I couldn’t believe it. I was still overwhelmed with emotions and feelings of inadequacy, but I was a mom. Glorious-Zoelle has balanced me in ways I never thought she would, and she’s taught me so many life lessons in the last year:
My daughter exposed the reality of my mortality. I now know that life is nothing but a snap of the finger, and because of that I choose to live a fulfilling life by any means necessary.
I’ve learned that every action I take affects the future of my daughter. I’m working on finishing my masters in counseling to become a licensed professional counselor. I want to provide a financial foundation for my daughter’s future and so I can spend more time with her at home. I’m creating an environment where she never has to question her identity, her dreams, her visions, wants or future.
After becoming a mom, my shortcomings have come to the surface—and I have no other choice but to deal with them head on. Glorious is always watching me and her pure heart and innocence demands it from me.
Glorious-Zoelle has redefined my ideas of revolution. We live in a world filled with hate, inequality, racism, misogyny, and so many other indecencies and sufferings. It’s a world that wants to corrupt her innocence and power. If I can help her realize that she is powerful, then she will not let anyone or anything limit her. And as I fight to do this for her, I will also fight for those very souls I come across through the various work I do.
My daughter has taught me you can still have joy and happiness in your season of grief and hardship. She has encouraged me to realize the magnitude of my strength and she has taught me that I am more powerful than I think.
She has helped me let go of what I can’t control and helped me assess what is important enough to keep in my life. I’ve learned to let go of what is not worth our time because time is one of the most valuable assets we have.
My daughter has given me a focus that makes the possibilities for us endless. I am confident and assured in the things I am now pursuing; there is not one bone of self-doubt in my body. If I fail, I just learn from it, reassess, and readjust because success is inevitable.
She has revised my view of my own beauty. She is my reflection and I AM BEAUTIFUL.
She has taught me how to be patient, kind, and understanding in ways I wasn’t before. I am learning to forgive more, including myself.
I am able to cherish my time and my space. When I’m with my daughter, I’m able to stop and enjoy that very moment with her because every moment with her is precious.
She has renewed my relationship with my first love: Christ, who is also teaching me to trust and hope in love again, guided by wisdom and discernment.
And because of all that she has taught me, I will fight to protect her, teach her, and love her as long as I am allowed to. She is my sunshine.
Barbara Verneus is a doula, family health advocate, and mother of one based in Philadelphia. She’s in the process of completing her masters in counseling with a concentration in marriage and family.
When you become a mom, everything is new. You have the pressure of “getting it right” (whatever that may mean), and it can all be very stressful and overwhelming.
In the beginning, I was consumed with how-to books and gabbing it up with my mama friends to get insight and outlooks. I’ve since let some of that go. I’ve found that it’s easy to get wrapped in the hustle and bustle of mommyhood – going through the motions. I keep reminding myself that my toddler will be a teen before I know it and I have to cherish all that comes with him and his energetic personality right now, at this very moment. And let’s not negate the fact that having a toddler is really like having a teen anyways, from the growth spurts to the random outbursts and moodiness. It starts to all look and feel the same.
We’ve all heard the warning that motherhood changes you, and indeed, it does. Those little people were purposely planted in our lives to teach us and mold us into who we’re destined to become, as we are to them. My son, Harlem, has not only taught me so much about myself but also how to see the world differently. Most importantly, so far, has taught me some life-changing things. Here are nine lessons learned from my toddler.
Take life as it comes. Don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow. Be here. Now. Right now.
It’s okay to cry. And cry hard. Cry it out for a couple of minutes but don’t dwell on it. And if feelings are still hurt, eat something sweet and forget all about it.
Walking slow is ok. Get distracted by the sway of the blades of grass or fallen sticks on the ground. Get lost in your surroundings. Take every bit of it in. You’ll get to your destination eventually.
When the beat drops, dance.
If you don’t like something, be vocal. Let somebody know. Don’t let it slide. Your feelings are important.
Tight, nail-clawing hugs and wet, sloppy kisses never hurt anybody. Be vulnerable. Be expressive regardless of how it may look to anyone else.
Smiling makes everything better no matter how many teeth you have. When you’re in the mood, and even when you’re not, smile.
Who needs roses when you have leaves? Take some time to jumping in a pile of fallen leaves. Go all out and jump all in.
Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. Laugh a loud, shoulder-bopping, tear-rolling, stomach-cramping laugh.
Harlem, keeps me grounded. He keeps me in check, forcing me to stop, appreciate and enjoy the little things. He reminds me that life is special. Sometimes as moms we lose sight of the fun of motherhood. It was intended to be simpler than we make it.
Life is a journey filled with twists, turns, triumphs and trials, but nonetheless, it’s a course we all must travel. While we experience many things on this road, whether we want to our not, they all happen for distinct reasons. Those reasons are for us to learn, grow and help someone else who may have gone through or happen to be going through the same things. On my trip through life, I’ve learned so many lessons from people directly and indirectly involved in it. But I must say that the greatest lessons have come about by observing other women, and taking their advice about life, love, career, and faith to heart. I believe these gems will be valuable to some of you.
They say that life begins at the end of your comfort zone, and this is even more true when you graduate from high school. Whether you go to college, join the armed forces, or get a full time job, there are things that life will teach you that you didn’t have to know in high school.
Here’s a list of these things and if you feel like you have any other information to add, let’s share this wealth of knowledge with the younger generation in the comment section.
When I was a little girl, I was so enamored with anything that had to do with Batman. I watched any and all shows and movies about him, read the comic books and ate the Batman cereal like it held the answers to all of my questions.
Even now, as I’m in the twilight of my twenties, I’m still very much a fan of anything Bruce Wayne (or Terry McGinnis, for all of my “Batman Beyond” brothers and sisters). But after a friend and I had a conversation about why he appealed to me more than Superman, I realized how much the DC detective shaped how I see modern life.
Now, I don’t have anything against Jor-El‘s son, but… Batman is just better! From the villains, setting, and the mythology, Batman was just superior to me.
But it was more than just those things. There was a tangible trait to Batman that always made him stand out for me. I couldn’t relate to someone who was impervious to all of the normal world’s ills, but only having one major weakness, some piece of crap mineral that very few people had access to.
Batman, on the other hand, was human. There was an inherent danger to his life, from his parents being murdered right in front of him and him using that pain to create an alter ego that would try its best to prevent other people from feeling that pain. The possibility for him to be murdered was real each time he put on his costume, and on top of that, he wasn’t doing it for the fame. Bruce Wayne was the one indulging in glitz and glamour, whereas Batman hid in the shadows, helping the Gotham police, and this is what this article all boils down to…
In today’s world there seems to be more excuses and less culpability, more fame, and less talent, more over sharing and less privacy, and frankly, I’m annoyed by it. Looking back on it, I feel like that’s the basis of my Batman fascination and why it has persisted throughout the years.
Through the filters and screens, there seems to be a population of people who are trying to prove that they are impervious to the struggles of being just regular human beings. People are elevating themselves to a position where they are above us mere mortals, and our sad existences, while we struggle in our daily tasks. In actuality, I feel like those are the things that make us easy to relate to, timeless and gives us strength.
Flaws shouldn’t be things that are ignored or filtered through. Tragedy shouldn’t be something that is an excuse for poor behavior. Though those things can feel like they have destroyed our foundation, they should be used as building blocks to become stronger, wiser, and rise above our circumstances.
There is honor in learning from mistakes, instead of constantly perpetuating them, and that’s what always stuck with me about Batman.
Plus, I bet all of the “crusading”/property damage that Superman did was probably raising the taxes of Metropolis anyway.