Thursday, November 7, 2013

If I Only Knew Then...: A Letter to Myself, Part 1

Yesterday, I received a surprise in my e-mail box, a letter that I had written to myself a year ago. The note, which was sent through FutureMe, reminded me of the importance of setting goals, but also how the best laid plans are subject to change based upon things that are out of your control, and sometimes things you can control, but don't. I will share more about that message at a later date, but it got me thinking; not only about my future, but also from whence I came.

You may or may not be familiar with the concept of writing to letters to yourself: either person that you were or the person that you hope to become. Many of us keep journals or diaries, which is cathartic in and of itself, but writing a letter to your younger self helps you to acknowledge the wisdom that you have gained over the years, and forgive yourself for the mistakes of the past. With that knowledge, you are free to move forward and speak power to your future self. I have shared my letter below, I encourage you to create your own.

Dear 12-Year-Old Marcie,

First of all, I want you to know that you are a perfect representation of who and what God created you to be. I know that there are times when you don't feel like you are all that important, especially when others tease you about being tall, wearing glasses, or being more interested in books than sports or boys. In a few years, the things that seem to haunt you now will become your best assets, if you handle them correctly.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Putting the Pieces Together

If you have been following my posts for the last few days, you will see that I take a lot of my inspiration from music. Today is no different as Ledisi's 2011 hit, "Pieces of Me," has been ringing in my ears for the last day or so.

In the song, Ledisi shares what it means to be a complex (and oftentimes complicated) woman who is doing her best to be all that she can be, both for herself and the people in her life, in her own perfectly imperfect fashion.

As I continue to evolve into the woman that I am meant to be, I am becoming more cognizant of all of the different expectations that society places on females, and even more aware of the pieces that fit and don't fit into my life.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Remembering My Grandma: Better Days

Phoebe Malvina Goodson Thomas (November 3, 1923 - January 8, 2000)

Today, I would like to pay homage to my beloved Grandma, who would have been 90 years old today. It's really hard to believe that she has been gone for almost 14 years because her presence is still felt in so many significant ways.

Born in Detroit to a preaching father and a college-educated mother, my grandmother was the first daughter in a family that ultimately included nine children (5 boys and 4 girls). My great-grandfather, John Goodson, had moved from Texas to Detroit in order to find work and establish a church. My great-grandmother, Ruby Holley, was a graduate of Prairie View A&M who couldn't get hired to teach, in spite of her degree. Together, both of my great-grandparents poured a lot into my grandmother, both spiritually and academically.

At a young age, my grandmother exhibited a talent for music, so her parents made sure that she was able to obtain music lessons. Being a preacher's kid, she played in the church and in later years, served as a choir director for several different churches in the Ohio Valley, where she had moved with her family as a young girl. At one point in time, she had a radio show with her mom called, "The Upper Room." (It has been said that my great-grandmother Ruby sounded a lot like Mahalia Jackson.)

Academically gifted, Phoebe graduated from high school with honors at the age of 16. She was prepared to attend college to become a teacher, but remained close to home to help with the family. She met Louis Thomas, Sr., my late grandfather, got married, and started a family of her own. My dad, Louis, Jr., was her first-born child. (They are pictured together on the top right corner.)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Brown Girl 'Hair Story:' I Am Not My Hair! (And Neither Are You!)

Does the way I wear my hair make me a better person?
Does the way I wear my hair make me a better friend?
Does the way I wear my hair determine my integrity?
I am expressing my creativity! 
-- India.Arie, "I Am Not My Hair"

Like many women of African heritage, I have fond memories of sitting on a pillow on the living room floor while my mother oiled my scalp and plaited/braided my hair. When she was feeling really ambitious, she would create tiny braids and put equally small beads on the end of each braid, long before Venus and Serena debuted the style on an international stage.

On special occasions, like Easter Sunday, she would turn on the stove, heat up the hot comb and sit me on a stool in the middle of the kitchen. I did my best to keep still in order to avoid getting my neck or ears burned, while the smell of burning hair and grease floated through the air and Chaka Khan sang "I'm Every Woman" on the radio. 

Once my hair was sufficiently pressed, we would get out the Dippity-Do gel, a few sponge rollers, and a box of end papers, so that the hair curling could begin. Early the next morning, she would carefully remove the curlers, comb out my style and send me on my merry way, hoping that my style would last through the day.

Fast forward to the age of 13, when I was taken to the salon to receive my first relaxer, which allowed me to start managing my own hair. I must admit that I missed the days of sitting and connecting with my mom in the kitchen, but as a young woman, I needed to learn how to do my own 'do. 

As a teenager in the early 1980s, I must admit that I was a Jheri-Curl wearing sister for a time. (There's a picture of me posing with the Michael Jackson "Thriller" album cover somewhere. Ola Ray, his leading lady in the iconic "Thriller" music video, didn't have anything on me!)

"You Gotta Be" Willing to Soar

Just last night, I was listening to music from a few sister singers from the UK and pulled up one of my favorite pick-me-up-when-I'm-down tunes from Des'ree, "You Gotta Be." The entire song is encouraging, but the chorus is the stuff that gets taped to the bathroom mirror and quoted daily:

You gotta be
You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, your gotta be wiser
You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together
All I know, all I know, love will save the day