A couple who had been trying to conceive for 17 years has just delivered sextuplets. Ajibola and Adeboye Taiwo, who are Nigerian natives but current residence has not been released for privacy reasons, welcomed the three girls and three boys on May 11th with the help of a forty person team at VCU Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia. According to the Washington Post, new mother Ajibola has been " 'very involved' in the babies' care", which is black code speak for, "let me see what ya'll doing to my kids". The cesarean delivery for the couple who had never expected, initially believed they would have quadruplets, yet delivered six actual persons; understandably had twitter abuzz: When you hit print mad times and the copies all come out at once https://t.co/hi7hgwN8ot— Pedro Rico (@Styl3z_P) May 25, 2017
In a touching statement, Ajibola said she hoped for “the smallest of my six children to grow up and say, ‘I was so small, and look at me now.’ ”Ase to that! Congratulations and well wishes to the new...
The reality of our childhood versus how we remember childhood tend to have a stark contrast, especially in adulthood. Our parents' favorite go-to lines (the overplayed sayings they were proud to harp in our ear, and the generational passed down jewels of wisdom they were never shy to share) all made no sense at the time. But as we transitioned into adulthood and began to navigate the path of our own lives, amazingly enough, we found that those damn overplayed lines were actually applicable.And almost as if our parents knew all along, as if in telling us in our youth was the right time to share the messages, they became extremely helpful and actually saved us from, well...ourselves.Here are 10 of the things my parents taught me as a child, that I found the most useful as an adult. Hopefully, you will as well.1. Everybody Aint Ya Friend! In contrast to third-grade recess and in complete opposition to the rules of homeroom, everybody is not your friend. I think this concept, at least as a child, was hard to grasp because you wanted everyone to be your friend. It is a natural desire to have. It meant more playmates, more lunch trades, more secrets to tell, more fun.But just like Tommy from the class across the hall showed you when he stole your place in line, and Demetrious, who shoved you to the ground to beat you to the slide, people are fickle. And when you went crying to your mother later on that day, this was her way of telling you that. As an adult, that's been true more than ever. Smiles, invites and well wishes are temporary. And while you may not have an issue with a co-worker, roommate or that individual you share the majority of your classes with, divulging sensitive information and giving them clearance to the intimacies of your life is not the move either. Everybody ain't ya friend, and you shouldn't have to wait to get pushed aside to realize that.2. Stay Out Of Grown Folks BusinessAs inquisitive as I am now, I was even more so as a kid. Beyond asking "why?" like a broken track record, I would snoop in on conversations and give my two cents on issues that did not pertain to me. This resulted in my mom yelling: "Stay out of grown folks business!"Grown folk, young folk, red folk, blue folk... I think the message applies across the board—mind yours. Now that I'm 25, I often say that I do not want to know anything that someone does not want me to know. There is not enough time in the day to responsibly do everything you have to do, while caring about someone else's life too. And I've found that through my own experiences, nothing good has ever come from meddling in the lives of others. Worry about yourself and deal with the drama on your own plate. Stay out of grown folks business.3. Don't Be A Tattle-TaleGrowing up, I wasn't sure why my parents belabored this point to me, but it was one that they never cracked a smile about. Don't be a snitch. Don't be a tattle-tale. Don't run to authority. At the time, my thought process was that telling was what's right—that you're supposed to report wrongdoing. But now that I'm older, it's a concept that has become much clearer. Not tattle-telling coincides with minding your business. If someone is going to get in trouble, they're going to get in trouble, and it's not up to you intervene in that process. Also, it's an issue of trust. We didn't know it, but by telling us not to tattle-tale as kids, our parents were teaching us interpersonal politics. No one wants to network, confide in, invest in or deal with you if you cannot be trusted. And it's hard to trust someone who will squeal at every perceived injustice. So don't be a snitch.4. You Gotta Pay The Cost To Be The BossOh, how I hated when my mom proclaimed this around the house. "You gotta pay the cost to be a boss," not only had a little cute rhyme, but it was almost as if it was her excuse for a double standard.If I had to wash dishes immediately after eating and she didn't, I better not bring it up to her, because she paid the cost to be the boss. If I had to go to bed early and I saw her up, I didn't even question why. Because of this saying she had on automatic for instances such as that. She says no sweets before dinner, yet somehow she inhaled some Ben and Jerry's before supper. Yeah, I get it, she paid her dues. It wasn't until renting my own apartment, paying my own bills and having my own expenses did it all click.When my roommates and I have company, I, almost gleefully, demand their shoes to come off. When it's my television or my game console, I have complete jurisdiction over what is played or watched—all because I paid the cost.When you put in the work, you make the rules. It wasn't until I labored myself when that concept connected.5. Closed Mouths Don't Get FedThe whole time my parents said this to me, I thought they were referring to food. If I asked my mom why she didn't pick me up anything from the store, she'd reply, "Closed mouths don't get fed." In high school, if I would pout about needing extra credit, or even at my first job when I needed more hours, my mom would say the same thing: "Closed mouths don't get fed."Now that I'm balancing this adult life, I find myself using the concept more and more every day. It's not about eating as much as it is about speaking up for yourself and demanding what you believe you deserve. That's something that all of us can use. 6. You Can't Say Yes To EverybodyI remember being in my middle to high school years dealing with this the most, and hearing it from my dad all the time. He used to say that everyone does not deserve a "yes," and that an individual's disappointment is far worst than compromising self.You see, in these years of adolescence, we try to impress others the most. We wanted their acceptance, we wanted them to think we're worthy of their time, of their crew and as a result, we ended up doing things that were counter to what we knew and believed.As an adult, this practice of saying no has paid off. If the squad is going out and I have work in the morning, I, unphased with the straightest of faces, will tell them "no." Whether it's drugs, the type of people I don't like or even food I don't care to try, "no" has become such a comfort word for me. I got to thank my dad for that.7. Don't Overstay Your WelcomeAgain, this was a proverb my dad preached that I never quite understood. Whenever I would spend the night at someone's house, visit someone that's out of town or even go and visit someone with my family, my dad always made it a point to be aware of how long you've been there and, even when it's not insisted, to leave at an appropriate time.What I learned was that this sends a message of respect. When you're someone's guest, they are providing for you, even when you aren't asking for anything. Spending quality time, and still having the presence of mind to leave without being told or hinted, shows that you are someone who can be invited again, and that goes a long way with people and relationships. 8. Don't Go To Someone Else's House HungryI don't know if it's the same for any other household, but my parents were really strict about me not going over anyone's house hungry. Whether alone or with them, they always made sure that we had something to eat at all times. I never got an official explanation, but as I transitioned into adulthood, I began to understand the concept: you never want to expect anything from anyone. While most hosts will offer, in wherein you'd be free to accept, expecting that someone is going to provide for you is foolish.I've carried this concept with me throughout my life. I don't expect anything from anyone, and I always make sure I do for myself before I expect anyone to do for me.9. A Hard Head Makes A Soft BehindMy grandfather used to say it to my mom, and my mom loved saying it to me—right before she beat the breaks off me. "A hard head makes a soft behind." At the time when I received butt whippings, was taunting to me. My head is a skull, so it will always be hard and my butt is muscle layered in fat...like, it will always be soft. I didn't understand why she was even playing with my emotions like that.What I came to find out as I got older was that she wasn't speaking about my physical attributes, but rather she was speaking metaphorically—you either learn the easy way (listening) or the hard way (getting a spanking).This theory of learning from others' experiences and not your own is still one that I'm mastering. For some reason, others' cautionary tales aren't enough, and it's not until the open flame leaves a burn that we understand that the pretty blue magical thing means "hot."As an adult, I try to surround myself with mentors and people who are accessible and willing to give me advice. While I am always tempted to try things out my own way, my butt has taken too many beatings to not get the importance of trusting the people who lived more than you.10. A Penny Saved Is A Penny EarnedA penny saved is a penny earned! The time, my pops used to spew it at me the most is when I had my first job. I thought it was something he learned from a dad seminar out in the burbs of "Dadville." It just sounded corny, and besides, you can't take it with you when you die, right?Oh, man, did the reality of adulthood shake me, though. Now, I don't spend until I've saved first. Material things have no value in my life. I know that with every purchase, the money first put away is more expensive than the purchase itself. Schools don't teach savings or financially responsibility, so as corny as my dad was, I'm grateful for his teachings.Parenting is cool because I'm almost positive they knew we weren't understanding half of the advice they were giving us. They didn't even offer explanations half the time. But somehow, they all came full circle. As I go throughout life, I'm sure I'll develop my own adages that I'll make sure to vaguely, and repetitively, preach to my future...
I can’t remember a time in my family where I was simply comforted. Not once.Not from my maternal side, not from my paternal side and definitely not from extended family. Never allowed time to grieve or process. It has always been “pull yourself together,” “remember God loves you/corrects you/carries you,” and “you'll be okay”.In the bible, if a great loss was experienced people mourned, tore their clothes, and removed earthly things so they could engage in their grief. I don't ever remember being allowed to engage in my grief until I met my husband. I've heard "in God's timing," “Pray about it,” "God loves you, you will be alright," "you're blessed," "you can't just pray for what you want and not embrace what you've been given" and my all-time favorite "you can have another one" in the face great loss and emotional bankruptcy.When is it okay for me to know this and yet grieve? Is it okay for me to accept I'm blessed, be grateful for all I have (not materialism), and yet be broken? It doesn’t mean I will stay there. Is it ever okay to be human in the space of Christianity? When is it okay for me to be human in the presence of family? How can you heal from the brokenness of grief without the process?As I unpack these emotions I think about the fact that this is true for many families, especially African-American. It is true our emotions are not always truth and as sentient beings we should be able to look at situations logically. But this is not true in the face of grief, loss, and brokenness. We should feel every emotion. Every pain needs to be processed, every fear expressed, every anger released, and every tear shed. Not to our detriment but to shed those emotions and to release that frustration.We tend to want to push people past their grief and emotions because we want them to feel better, but also because it makes us uncomfortable. We don't want to have to sit in that grief with them; we don't want to provide that emotional covering. I believe that we do this because it will force us to face emotions and grief that we have locked away. This is in no way advocating becoming a dumping ground for other people's emotions, we have to protect ourselves. But on the onset or occasional experiences of grief that those we love feel, we should offer comfort.The other part of this is to avoid rushing people through their process. We are all individually geared, what works for one doesn't work for all, and although we want to give advice it's not always well-timed. Begin the process of asking people how you can be there for them when they are grieving. Remember that grieving is not only assigned to when someone dies. Grieving happens during loss of relationships, shifts in life seasons, and unexpected change.The correction from my family is invaluable and I adhere to it when needed, but I realized in order to become a balanced individual I can't see my emotions as weaknesses. They are expressions of what is internally happening and boxing them away is detrimental. Moreover, I am learning I can't correct the ones I love past their grief. Letting folks be and offering them comfort is the only thing needed. Offer love. Correction should be offered when it is necessary to keep the ones you love from causing intentional harm or there are deficits in their ability to reason or process. Allow people space to be them in the season they are in; don’t try to fix it. Offer people refuge from judgment, peaceful presence, and loving arms. Then ask them if they want your insight. Give them room to choose what they need from...
Social media often debates on a woman's ability to cook. This topic is an old one. Social media has sprung food blogs, IG posts and deemed some of y'all's dishes as "struggle plates." As a woman, there will eventually be a time when you're questioned on your cooking abilities. As a black woman, providing a five-star meal is expected of me. Black women are known to be the very best cooks. The average woman has grown up watching her female family members spend a majority of their time near the stove or in the grocery store. Our mothers are known for their signature dishes. My mother cooks with more than seasonings; she cooks with her heart and soul. Cooking is part of our culture, which is why I feel that I have to learn how to cook as good as my momma.My family gatherings are centered around food. Get togethers, holidays and birthdays are only as good as the food prepped for the events. We show love with our provisions. When a family member is ill, the women in my family go to that person's home to make sure that our loved one is provided meals that give back their strength. If I go over to my peoples' home, I know my mom, aunt or cousin is gonna cook up a delicious plate. My family believes taking care of each other includes substance. I remember the women in my church serving the food they cooked for everyone before and after service. An impressive meal takes time, skill and love.Though my family is typically surprised that I can cook, I'm not a bad cook. I also don't believe that a woman's worth comes from the kitchen. However, in my family (and probably yours too) there is a certain status a woman receives when she knows how to throw down. Everybody looks forward to going to the home of the lady who can cook. Being a good cook means even her leftovers are desired. The best cooks in my family are certainly seasoned. Whether we are in spring, summer, autumn, winter—she offers what you would need on any given day. I'm the one that brings paper plates, and I have never been ashamed of my role. Though as someone that loves her family and good food, I have plenty to learn.When I cook for myself, I listen to music, music reviews or podcasts. Sometimes I'll sip on something as I cook. I love sharpening my skills as much as I love to eat. Some of my motivation in learning how to cook comes from outside of my family. My workplace usually has potlucks. Currently, I am the woman that gives five dollars instead of cooking. Partly from laziness, partly from fear of criticism of my skills. As a server, I worked for various types of restaurants, and know chefs are a proud bunch.To them, and to me, nothing is worse than somebody telling you that they don't like your cooking.I remember my friend, who is of mixed race, telling my cousin she didn't like my grandma's food. I was shocked because that was the first and only complaint I heard about my grandma's cooking ever. My cousin, who was eating with us, almost hopped across the table. My cousin roasted her and left my friend feeling salty. My grandmother, and the chefs I've met, have earned their stripes and respect.I am working hard to create the food from my culture, and to explore other dishes. The man I marry and children I'll carry will have quality home cooked meals like I had. I also desire to cook more for my friends. I made mac and cheese last Sunday and felt like the BADDEST! For me, a sign of love is baking a dessert. I desire the skills to cook up a tasty cheesecake, a scrumptious pineapple upside cake, a banging sweet potato pie—you name it!Sidebar: R.I.P. to Auntie Fee who reached fame from her YouTube food tutorials and saucy attitude. My condolences to her family. May she rest in...
For many years, discussing and admitting mental illness was a taboo, mired in shame. In our community, we denied the existence of mental illness and the necessity for treatment. We distrusted psychologists and their medicines. We attributed our troubles to an ancient supernatural nemesis, and threw ourselves on altars and in the hands of our preachers and church congregations. We thought we could pray away any issues, or merely keep marching until our bodies collapsed and our minds were shattered. In the worst of cases, a person whose issues were too severe found themselves shuffled away into the shadows by their family members, hidden from society.It is, therefore, beautiful that we have entered an era where we have removed the stigma attached to mental illness and seeking treatment. Those of us with mental illnesses have learned to embrace them as a condition of our humanity, and not as a curse or shameful condemnation. Our family members and friends have learned that they must be present to surround us with love; to build and become powerful support systems.Yet, despite that great charge, many of our loved ones don’t know precisely what being a support looks like; where it begins and what it entails. As a person who was diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety disorder, I have learned what the supports I need are. I've also found that many of those supports are shared by those with other of the most common high-functioning mental illnesses. To those of you who wish to be a support system for your family and friends, I offer these ideas:1. If you’re not ready to sacrifice and work with your loved one, and to walk through the dark night with them, then make it immediately clear that you are not prepared for the task.This may sound like I am telling you to abandon the person you love. Yet, it is the best thing to do if you are not prepared for the work that comes with being a support. Half-hearted or undependable support can be dangerous. It is incredibly important not to romanticize mental illness, even as we embrace it. Your friend who suffers from depression may call you one day, sobbing uncontrollably, refusing to tell you where he is, expressing that he is fully prepared to commit suicide, and begging you to give him reasons why his life is worth the pain. Your family member who suffers from an anxiety disorder may be having a debilitating panic attack while at work, on the highway, or at a meeting in a town an hour away; she may be literally unable to move, and may need you to drop everything to come get her. Your fiancé with schizophrenia may walk into the bedroom one day yelling to you that the clouds outside have been sent to kill him, that the food in the kitchen has been poisoned by an unknown agent, that the picture on the wall is watching him, and that the news anchor on the television has been insulting him personally for the past half hour. You may get a call from the local police telling you that your friend with bipolar disorder, or any number of mood disorders, has been arrested for getting into a violent fight with her coworkers or her classmates; or for crashing her car into the yard of a neighbor who smart-mouthed her. Even with the strongest medications, many of the most common mental illnesses are only lessened in their intensity, but not erased. You may not discover how taxing and difficult being a support for your loved one is until you’ve had to do it the first few times. However, the moment you realize that it’s too much for you; that your heart isn’t in it; that you can’t do it, tell them. This will allow them to build a support system that is prepared to weather the many violent storms that come before the sun shines.2. It’s not you, it’s them.Cliché as this sounds, it’s true and it often needs to be said as a reminder. Last year, my anxiety disorder got so bad that I developed agoraphobia- the fear of going places that trigger my anxiety attacks. I began having debilitating attacks from just leaving the house, so I didn’t go anywhere for two entire months. I used to hang out with my friends multiple times during the week, but they quickly noticed that I was unable to see them for weeks at a time. Some of my friends thought I was avoiding them, or had an issue with them. I had to explain that it was not personal; it was uncontrollable. Your husband or wife with depression may become antisocial, and stop showing signs of affection; they may hide out in the bedroom or in the dark living room for weeks at a time wanting no contact. Your partner with a mood disorder may become physically violent toward you. Your friend with schizophrenia may think you're in on the evil plot that she is hallucinating. In the midst of this, it is important to remember that their behaviors are a condition of their illness, not an indictment against you. If this becomes too much, see number 1.3. Familiarize yourself with their mental illness.It is absolutely imperative to study the mental illness your loved one has. It’s important to know the behavioral effects of their illness, the side-effects of their medication, their triggers (the external things that exacerbate their condition), and the warning signs of an episode. It’s also important not to minimize their mental illness and to understand the full scope of it. Depression is not just sadness; it’s a completely inescapable and smothering sense of hopelessness and pain that strips a person of their desire to love, to be loved, and to live. Anxiety disorders are not just a feeling of anxiousness; they cause an irrational fear of everyday situations that trigger debilitating panic attacks marked by hyperventilation, fainting, loss of feeling in the extremities, a sense of imminent doom, a loss of physical control, agoraphobia, elevated heart rate, sweating, nausea, vomiting, and more. Also, there are different types of anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder; similar symptoms, but different triggers. Schizophrenia completely disconnects a person from reality and rational thoughts, causes visual and aural hallucinations, triggers self-deprecating projections, creates a breakdown in rational thought, and causes episodes of intense delusions. Although people use the word “bipolar” like an insult, true bipolar disorder is an uncontrollable mood disorder that wildly pitches people between manic happiness, violent anger, uncontrollable sadness, and a full range of radical emotional extremes. You must know the details to help. If this is challenging, see number 1.4. Support is multi-layered, and cannot be shallow or topical.Being a support system for your loved one with a mental illness is more than just sending texts, calling over the phone, or chatting on social media. It requires you to be physically present. You’re going to need to hug, hold, and reassure them. You may need to drive across town to help, or randomly accept a facetime call during their panic attack, depressive episode, or hallucination. You will need to visit them at home when you haven’t seen them for a few days because something may be wrong. You need to be extra sensitive and empathetic to their behavior, to look out for their triggers. You may literally need to hold their hand at times during an episode, practicing breathing exercises, or waiting for the uncontrollable tears to stop. You may need to reassure them that there is no one watching them, that the food isn’t poison, that they aren’t worthless, and that no one is coming to get them. You may need to talk them down or physically restrain them during a rage or manic episode. You’ll need to guarantee that they are taking their medication, even when they feel it’s worthless. You'll need to remind them life is worth living, and that they are loved. Again, if this is too much, see number 1.These four tips should help you support those you love. Remember: a) being a support is hard. If you can’t do it, make it clear. B) Don’t catch feelings. It’s not you, it’s us. C) Don’t romanticize mental illness. It’s real out here, and most of the time it’s terrifying. Be prepared to help us through the storm by knowing what to expect before the clouds arrive. D) Hold our hands, rub our heads, be the shoulder we can cry on, hide the weapons, and talk us through it.Above all, surround us with love because it is the most powerful, healing, and transformative force of...
Aunt Lula Mae is at the grocery store picking up ingredients for the egg custard that no one has the heart to tell her is trash. And, Grandma Geraldine is at the house practicing how she's going to walk down the aisle Sunday morning in her mammoth sized hat, ready to stunt on the other missionaries. Your weeks-long gameplan to secure all the eggs over your big cousins.Behold. Resurrection Sunday is upon us.Photo: GiphyHere's a play-by-play of the events on and before Easter Sunday that you'll never forget as a child.1. The Easter Suits and Dresses Photo: PollyCreased pants. Itchy crinoline. White lace gloves. Toe pinching shoes. Multicolored bow ties. You were dressed for all of the pageantries that come with Easter Sunday. The more pastels the better. This is the freshest day of the year and is truly a fashion show. The moment you walk in the door, it's runway time. All eyes are on how well you're dressed. 2. Getting Your Hair Laid the Night BeforePhoto: GiphyThe boys spent Saturday afternoon in line at the crowded barbershop and the girls awaited their fate at the salon. For the moms who took great pleasure in styling their girls' hair, the kitchen became a beauty oasis. Big bows and rollers galore. When she turned on the stove top, you know what's up. Her weapon of choice came from hiding. The hot comb had the entire house (and your head) smelled like charcoal and blue magic grease. 3. Waking up early AF for Sunrise servicePhoto: GiphyYou stayed up all night doing the prep work for Easter. Forget comfort because the rollers were painful between your head and the pillow. And, the anticipation of wondering what kind of basket awaits you in the living room kept you awake. You quietly wept as the 5:00 a.m. alarm went off. Sunrise Service at churches can begin as early as 6:30 a.m. 4. The LIT Sunrise breakfastPhoto: Key and PeeleHe will give you beauty for ashes. Because you had to get up at the same time as He rose, the church provided the best breakfast immediately following the early morning service. Because the food is so good, you aren't as upset that you're dressed like an Easter basket. But the gag is..if your parents were really into the word, you'd likely stay for the regular service which could mean another two to three hours of church.5. The overflowPhoto: GiphyEaster, Mother's Day, and Christmas Eve are peak times for church attendance. These sacred occasions are reserved for the members you forgot were members. Lowkey everyone is watching everyone wondering where folk have been the last 49 Sundays. Your head pops up every few minutes to see the new and old faces. Pastor notices too because somehow the irregular attendee becomes a part of the sermon. That being said, you better arrive at least 15 minutes prior to service as overcrowding is imminent and the parking attendants will make you park so far away from the church that you'll be sweating by the time you get inside.6. The Easter SpeechPhoto: AnnieYour time to shine. The moment you've been preparing for. Your Sunday School teacher let you draw, at random, which speech would be yours. You prayed to select one that wasn't too long or short enough for the little kids. You've gone over the words, line by line, and sure that you know the speech by heart. When they call your name, you walk to the mic nervous or even overconfident AF. In the back of your mind lingers the terror of missing a word which meant your memorization of the next line was shot to hell. Then again, you're in competition with your peers to see who would best perform. And at your horror, your mom was staring a hole in you, silently mouthing the words to you from the third pew. Even if your nerves get the best of you, it doesn't matter because the congregation thinks you're cute and will clap with the appropriate "aww" and "bless your heart." When it's over, you take the great exhale of your life. It's over..until next year.7. The picturesPhoto: Paid in FullHere's the drill: a solo pic, a pic with you and the basket, a pic with your brothers and sisters, another pic with your cousins, then the family photo. You better hold the same smile in them all or else it would prolong the additional festivities. Better stay clean or else. Your parents spent good money to ensure your impeccable fashion. No time for spills or smudges, bih. The whites of whites better remain pristine for the family photos. You can't rock all white if your white looking dingy. That's law. 8. The FeastPhoto: New GirlThe ham went in the night before. All of the cakes are iced. The biscuits are baked to perfection. Grams threw down even more than the year before. Easter is exhausting AF and you're ready to throw deal. Honestly, truly, you're replenishing your body for the main event.9. The HuntPhoto: MartinIt's on. The night before, you helped your parents decorate the eggs in funky colors. Now it's time to find them. While the adults are outside doing the hiding, you peek out the window making notes for your strategy. If egg dying wasn't your thing, you could count on the plastic eggs with candy or dollar bills stuffed inside. This is not a game. You're bobbing and weaving between all of your siblings and cousins hoping to collect the most eggs in your basket. Nothing will stand in your way. Back in the house, you're peeling the eggs as careful as possible, hoping not to leave behind any shell. Your day is practically ruined when you bite into it and feel a crunch. Once you become a teenager your Easter baskets turn into gift cards. You're just there for the money and the food.When it's all said and done, you're eating candy and eggs until the sun goes down. Photo: The Nutty ProfessorYou're tired as hell from the festivities, but it's another year of sweet goodness in your childhood memory bank. To this day, you probably find yourself keeping to the same traditions in your...
But don't let my glad expressionGive you the wrong impressionReally I'm sad, oh I'm sadder than sadYou're gone and I'm hurting so bad—Smokey RobinsonWithin my social circles, I personally know two other millennial women who have dealt with the loss of a romantic partner. I feel alienated because a large majority of my peers have no idea what I'm going through. Grief makes people so uncomfortable that sometimes I hide it to accommodate others. It's like living a double life. It's exhausting.The formal way to express sympathy is to say, "Please accept my condolences.” That statement gives a person the choice to accept or deny, but folks want to take it to the next level. I have come to realize that there is skill in speaking to those who grieve. Without empathetic skill, advice or suggestions that begin as well intentioned, become insensitive. If you don’t know what to say, simply say, "I don't know what to say." Not knowing what to say is better than telling me to be strong. Being strong isn’t the equivalent of feeling normal. What is normal anymore? Just because I have a decent day or post a nice photo doesn't mean that everything is alright. It’s not. Smiles do not equate to strength. Not knowing what to say is better than telling me how he wants me to feel. “He wants you happy.” “He wants you smiling.” “He wasn’t a sad guy.” To many, he was the vibrant life of the party; the human form of positive energy. And undeniably so. He was always dancing, singing and encouraging others to be great. His smile and laughter were contagious, but to me, he was even more. He represents a huge part of me that's now missing. He challenged me to think freely and he encouraged me to love myself. He also danced with me while making me laugh. He was my truest friend, greatest love and best critic all in one beautiful package. He is the only person who could successfully talk me through the journey of grief. I know because I've heard him speak to people in mourning with his gentle and reassuring disposition. He never rushed through a process. He was patient.How can I consistently remain strong or happy when a mere four months have gone by since I lost the love of my life? Four months.On more than one occasion, I've found myself perplexed or even hurt by words intended as comfort. The first came from a family member who said, "I don't know what you're going through, but you're young and you will get over it. Life has just begun for you." Get over it? Please do not diminish the severity of my pain based on my age. My life began almost 30 years ago, not last night. He is the love of my life. We met when I was 23. A deathless era. We had all the time in the world to have a family, a Christmas card and a picket fence. Time is now up. Building a foundation of that magnitude is not something that can be simply be recreated, especially when the person I planned to do it with is irreplaceable.In February, I bumped into an acquaintance who asked me how things were going. I told her things were going okay. She replied, "Just okay? I heard about your partner, but you will be fine. At least you didn't have kids that would have been REALLY sad." It's really sad now! With or without children, it's a tragic loss. She went on to make an obscure comparison. "I felt like I was mourning when I broke up with my boyfriend." Do not try to compare your situation to mine. I realize that breakups can be traumatizing depending on the circumstances, but trust me, it's nothing like burying the man you love. Your man might come back, mine isn't. We were in it for the long haul. If he returned to life tomorrow and said, "Girl, it's over," I would still exhale because he would be alive. He loved life.Another popular suggestion from the masses is that I uproot my life to go somewhere else. I am not referring to travel. Travel is therapeutic. They mean leaving my home and starting fresh in a brand new place. Where's the new gig? What’s the plan? Are you sponsoring me? Stop suggesting that I do something drastic when my life is already turned upside down. Familiarity is one of the most surefire treatments for grief. I am not ready to start anew. As I said earlier, it’s only been four months.Out of all the exchanges, perhaps the most tormenting are those that are self-serving. Individuals who haven’t been around for years going on and on about how sad they feel. Did you sleep last night? Did you eat today? More often than not, the answer for me is no. I will not discount others' grief because I have respect, but try thinking outside of yourself. It's kind of like sharing a friend's newborn photos before they get a chance to share them first. There is no way you are more excited than the new parents. Similarly, when it comes to this loss, there is no way you are sadder than me. I was the constant companion of the departed, day in and day out. There is no way you are sadder than our family and close friends. My grief is especially poignant. And if one more person says I will find love again... What if I don’t?"Find love" insinuates that I have to look for it. I don't have time for that. The first time around, I didn't go searching for love, love found us. Perhaps God gave me my one true love? If that’s the case, I can die happy knowing I am adored by someone with a tender spirit. Plus, "you will find love again," reminds me of the slogan, "Make America Great Again," and that's annoying. At this point, I am only interested in finding my(new)self. I have the love I had. Stop rushing me! Grief is like a virus. Once you get it, it never leaves. Allegedly it gets better, but honestly, I cannot imagine the day when I won’t feel hollow. Without him, I won't get out of the sunken place. Where is Rod when I need him?Think before you speak to those who grieve. Think about what you are suggesting. Think about your position. Consider your words. Take the time to imagine the pain, even if it is something you have never experienced. It’s easy to be a well-wisher or to offer condolences sprinkled with a tone of pity. "I can't imagine." If you wish to comfort someone in grief, it is essential to use your imagination, otherwise you can't practice empathy. Empathy is a...
Remember the Halloween episode of black-ish when Dre's (Anthony Anderson) unrefined cousin June Bug (Michael Strahan) came to visit? His stay was met with a mixed bag of emotions for Dre as he recalled their tumultuous past and the completely different paths the two had taken into adulthood.
Like with most cousins, the relationship is either extremely strong or rather complicated. Your family ties become most apparent during the holidays and family reunions.
When you see your cousins, you both greet each other as so.
Because ya'll love cutting up together at family gatherings.
But any other time of the year..
While you're excited to see your cousins, who are like your extended brothers and sisters, you know they come with a whole heap of mess and remember why you keep your interactions at a minimum. Below is a list of definitive characteristics for every cousin that can be found in any family.
1. The cousin who used to slang (probably still does), but has a good heart and always gives you great life advice.
2. The cousin who you can't leave your purse around.
3. The cousin fresh off line who just crossed and came decked out in their letters.
4. The cousin who is always opening up a business or planning to start a new venture.
5. The cousin who brings a new significant other to the table every year so you gotta be careful you don't call this year's flame, last year's name.
6. The cousin who thinks they’re the next patriarch/matriarch of the family so they always try to do jobs that are reserved for elders. (Say grace, carve the turkey, etc.)
7. The cousin that always makes the best church punch so you rejoice when she pulls ginger ale and Kool-Aid packets out her purse.
8. The cousin always making a million to-go plates and didn't chip in one cent on the meal.
9. The little one that stays in grown folk business.
10. The cousin who is a professional student and is always acting brand new.
11. The cousin whose ball dreams were deflated so he talks over the game the entire time providing unnecessary commentary.
12. The cousin who thinks they're too good to learn how to play spades (half-sister to cousin #8).
13. The cousin whose kids run all over the house spilling stuff so you understand why your grandma had plastic on her couch back in the day.
14. The cousin always begging for vegan options and counting calories the entire meal (doesn't get along with cousin #13).
15. The cousin who normally doesn't mess with this side of the family during the year but only came over because ya'll have cable and he needs to catch the Bayou Classic.
16. The cousin you can't trust to not burn the rolls so y'all put her on "watch duty" to make sure she keeps an eye on the kids so they don't come in the kitchen.
17. The Hotep cousin who tells you you're glorifying "the white man's holiday."
18. The cousin who erased everybody off Facebook and is trying their best to deflect attention from questions about what they're trying to hide online.
19. The cousin who made your grandma's cake fall in '92 and is still the black sheep of the family because of it.
20. The cousin who never had kids but is always telling everyone else how to raise theirs.
How your aunt lurks in the corner every year trying to keep busy and stay way from the sharp objects.
You watching all of the mess unfold, waiting on someone to tell you that you're adopted.
Sike! It doesn't matter. You love them and wouldn't trade your family for the world.
Be ye not deceived. You are one of these folks to somebody. Cousining is an equal opportunity relationship for dysfunction.
How your cousins probably look at you every year.
Which cousin(s) on this list belong on your family tree? Tell us in the comments!
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Ah, Thanksgiving ...
It's the one day of the year where we proudly push those detox teas to the back of the pantry and slide into the comfiest (and simultaneously fire) 'fits to celebrate family with gratitude. It's also a coveted time when we go crazy with all the sights, smells, and tastes that Thanksgiving offers. We anxiously wait for prayer to come to a close so we can pack our plates with traditional faves, welcoming the itis with every decadent forkful.
This is truly what Andy Williams meant when he said, "It's the most wonderful time of the year."
In anticipation of Thursday, we compiled a list of the quintessential menu options at the family table, ranking them according to flavor, cook time, and overall likability amongst your kinfolk. Scroll down to take a gander!
Warning: drooling may ensue.
Why we love it: Casserole a hodge-podge of flavor, unconventionally dripping with character and super clutch in the 11th hour.
Who's bringing it: Your uncle's new girlfriend who's aiming to impress the fam.
Recipe: Click here
Why we love it: Rich Creole goodness in every bite, straight from the Gulf. A fresh take on the traditional Southern Thanksgiving experience and a pescatarian's dream.
Who's bringing it: Your fave cousins from the bayou, baby.
Recipe: Click here
13. Red Velvet Cake
Why we love it: Excellence, opulence, decadence — deliciously layered for your liking. Easy to make, easy to consume.
Who's bringing it: Your fly auntie, dipped in her finest Michael Kors pieces and asymmetrical haircut.
Recipe: Click here
12. Pecan Pie
This salted caramel pecan tart recipe is in my cookbook. Use "HappyHolidays" at checkout for 40% Off. Link is DariusCooks.MyShopify.com! A photo posted by Darius Williams (@dariuscooks) on Nov 9, 2016 at 1:29pm PST
Why we love it: One of the most underrated desserts. Creamy and crunchy at the same damn time.
Who's bringing it: Your quizzical godparents who ask you about your academic and romantic life every year without hesitation.
Recipe: Click here
Why we love it: Crockpot-friendly game-day essential; an effortless side that still goes over well with the folks due to its fail-safe popularity.
Who's bringing it: Your brother-in-law who would much rather watch the Dallas game than to spend time in the kitchen "catching up".
Recipe: Click here
10. Candied Yams
Why we love it: The right amount of sweet and savory. Major key alert with the toasted marshmallows, crunchy pecans, and buttery brown sugar.
Who's bringing it: The matriarch of the family, in her best Sunday wig and her subtle shade levels on 10,000.
Recipe: Click here
9. Mashed Potatoes
Why we love it: Starch sapidity in every fluffy forkful; might look light but is heavy, though.
Who's Bringing It: You. Mashed potatoes are the only task the elders trust you with in the kitchen. You're banned from the family if you bring the instant kind.
Recipe: Click here
8. Honey-Glazed Ham
Why we love it: Sugary swine crafted to perfection.
Who's bringing it: Your significant other. Showing up empty-handed and empty/bellied will result in nothing but side-eye.
Recipe: Click here
7. Sock-It-To-Me Cake
Why we love it: Where a sweet tooth and the turn up combine. Essential after-dinner nibble. The name says it all.
Who's bringing it: Your auntie who isn't really your aunt but she's your mother's soror so blood couldn't make you any closer.
Recipe: Click here
6. Biscuits, Rolls and Cornbread
Why we love it: The holy trinity of yeast for your Turkey Day feast.
Who's bringing it: C'mon now ... we all know Grandma's biscuits are the GOAT.
Recipe: Click here
Why we love it: Poultry that brings new meaning to "get you somebody that can do both". Traditional, jerk, fried ... the possibilities are endless.
Who's bringing it: Your cool ass granddaddy who swears up and down he was the sixth member of the original Temptations.
Recipe: Click here
4. Cornbread Stuffing with Italian Sausage
Why we love it: Not your yogi's "dressing". Packed with just the right amount of mouthwatering flavors, this dish brings home the gold every year in the "Itis Olympics".
Who's bringing it: The in-laws and we thank the high heavens for it
Recipe: Click here
3. Collard Greens
Why we love it: Going green never smelled or tasted so good with just the right amount of health appeal to even out your gorging. If it's not on your plate directly, it should be in a bowl on the side — no exceptions.
Who's bringing it?: Your older cousin who moved to the "Big City" but is still countrified.
Recipe: Click here
2. Sweet Potato Pie
Why we love it: Generations upon generations of good eating; the reigning champion of holding the desert table down
Who's bringing it: That aunt that left your uncle but is still considered family.
Recipe: Click here
1. Macaroni and Cheese
Why we love it: Baked for the gods (and it HAS to be baked); various cheese types melding together for a luscious love session in your mouth; an amalgamation of flavor and aromas unmatched
Who's bringing it: Grandma should chef up the Mac and Cheese. Don't argue with me. We love it so much, we've damn near built a religion around it.
Recipe: Click here
What dishes are a mainstay on your table every Thanksgiving? Share with us below!
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