Everything Is Fixable

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First day of work begins so it’s time to start measuring and cutting wood.

I’m all over the measurements. Hand me the tape and a pencil and I gotchu.

After a few tutorials, my sis Krystle takes over the sawing. It was really exciting! She took a break for a second and someone bumped into the board that the power saw was sitting on. BOOM! It falls on the floor.

So Dan, one of the leaders of the group, comes over and takes a look at it and goes to work. And he works on it for quite some time. Sam, the other leader, bounces in happily and sees everyone seated and asks “You guys done?!”

We didn’t really have the heart to tell her we’d barely started before the saw broke. But Krystle spoke up and hilariously admitted, “I broke it.” Then she asked Dan if it could be fixed. To which he responded, “Everything is fixable.”

Throughout the week of building a house, designing a craft for the kids and making mistakes that come along with being in a different country we repeated that phrase whenever appropriate.

And it just sits with me.

Everything is fixable. It might take a while. You might feel like you’ve been waiting for a long time. It could be discouraging when someone who doesn’t know the full story bounces in and hits your sore spot, but over time with innovative efforts, everything is fixable. “Todo se arregla”

#OhCAE?

No One Gets to Make Me Be Someone I’m Not

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I have to resist the urge to stop people midsentence every time I hear them say that something “made” them react a certain way.

Example: “You made me mad when you…” “He made me yell at him cuz he yelled at me first.”

Ya’ll with me? The reality is this, no one can MAKE you do anything.

I have heard this sentiment expressed by my therapist and professors innumerable times since I’ve been on this counseling journey.

As a result, I find myself taking more responsibility for my decisions. No one makes me do or feel anything. Everything I say, do and/or feel is a direct result of a choice I have made.

And I’ll be honest and say that I’m a better person because of this new awareness. When I could blame my reactions on others, it was easier to excuse it. Now that I’ve decided to take ownership of my choices, I tend to make better ones.

It has been hard because not going with my first mind leaves me feeling like I lost, but then I realize what I actually won. I won my life. I am in total control of me. It feels good to not be anybody’s puppet.

Hope Is Painful

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…But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 

That scripture convicts me to think bigger and increase my willingness to believe in what I haven’t seen. But can we just take a second and be real about how painful it can be to have hope?

Have you ever wanted a job really badly? You feel like it’s yours so you share it with a friend? Then you don’t get it. So then you find another one and the excitement comes back, but you don’t get that one either. So next time you keep it to yourself so that your hopes aren’t up and you can take your loss quietly.

Have you ever wanted to see someone be healed from a life destroying disease? You pray for them. You pray for healing. You continue to watch them suffer. You pray harder because you have hope. Then, it gets to the point where you see that it’s not getting better. Against all logic, you press beyond the cognitive dissonance and you continue to have hope. You see them hurting and realize that they need and want rest, but you continue to believe. The hope helps your mind rest, but makes your heart ache because your heart acknowledges the reality.

Have you ever decided to open your heart to someone new only to find that they’re gonna break it too? Part of you wants to try again, but the other part just wants to admit that having hope sets you up for disappointment.

After so much hurt and disappointment, life teaches us to be pessimistic or unmoved so that the bad doesn’t damage and the good comes as a total surprise. But I just want to say that no matter how much it hurts, have hope. Believe only the best things are coming for you and your people. Somebody has to see the glass half full. If you can recall the hurt that all the above situations caused, you can also recall life going on and eventually getting better after them.

Hurt happens. So does healing. Keep hoping for the best.

OhCAE?

I’m the Beholder And All I See Is Beauty

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This morning, I stood in the mirror and wept as I digested the lyrics of this song for the trillionth time.

I cried because I am a new woman.

I cried because I kept my promise to myself to love me the way I deserve to be loved.

I cried because I’ve spent A LOT of time alone, but moments of loneliness are so few these days.

I cried because God hears.

I cried because God answers.

I cried because God restores.

I cried because I remember looking in this same mirror with a smaller body, longer hair, less acne and still hating my reflection.

I cried because the woman looking back loves me more than anybody.

I cried because I don’t have the words to adequately express the gratitude in my heart.

I cried because I’m the beholder and all I see is beauty and that’s new for me, but I love it.

This Is Us, But Mainly Kevin

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Kevin Addiction Pic

This is Us, But Mainly Kevin…

Kevin is a straight rich white man who has straight rich white man problems.

OhCAE, the end.

You still here?

Ok, There’s more to his story, but I can’t get into it really without first acknowledging that Kevin Pearson is the EPITOME of white male privilege. To be honest, of the three, this is the hardest one to write because I don’t relate to Kevin AT ALL.

He’s white. I’m Black. He’s a man. I’m a woman. He’s rich. I’m pre-rich. You see? I’m struggling, because I’m watching a man who was raised by two loving parents who worked super hard to show him and his two same aged siblings equal attention. Somehow, though, he was jealous of his adopted Black brother and overweight low self-esteem sister.

His sister grew up in his shadow and literally didn’t make her own life outside of him until he told her to when they were 36 years old. His brother grew up just wanting to be accepted by him instead of disdained and teased by Kevin and his friends.

Now… after watching how Kevin was a bully and a brat as a child, seeing him run through women and a ruin a marriage with his childhood love in his 20s, we see him having a breakdown and battle addiction as an adult. This will sound bad, but I struggle to care.

elmo shrug

He made a scene and quit his job mid-episode. He was still able to land a new acting gig despite the very public unprofessional meltdown. On the holiday, he had to ability to choose the woman he’d spend it with. After crushing one, he crushed the chosen one when he chose his ex wife over her. THEN he messed everything up with her.

But listen, I get it. I understand children need attention and he felt left out as a child. But I need answers as to why he still acts like that looked over kid as an adult with a successful acting career. Literally, all I can think of is he’s white and white people feel entitled to the best of everything.

That’s all I have for real.

This Is Us, But Mainly Randall

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Randall

When I say I *LOVE* Randall I am reminded of the power and limits of language because I am not fully conveying how moved I am by this character.

I read once that people who cry on movies and TV shows tend to be sensitive people, in general. I read it and totally agreed, because clearly I am a thug.

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(yes, the use of a white man’s face to illustrate “thug” is intentional.)

But let me tell you how This Is Us challenges my identity as a thug ALL the time! One character who consistently tugs on my heart is Randall. His story is so layered and I can’t help but get sucked in.

Let’s start with the fact that he’s adopted. Black kids make up nearly 40% of the foster care system despite the fact that Black people are less than 15% of the total population of America. Black babies are less likely to get adopted and the likeliness only lessens as they get older. So Randall being adopted as newborn sets the stage for the unique life he’s going to live.

randall pool

Look at little Randall. This beautiful little boy begged his parents to go to this particular pool on a super hot day. Later we find out that it’s because this pool always has lots of Black people. We also learned in this scene that he’s been breaking out because his barber doesn’t know how to cut Black hair.

Foster and adoptive parents (and those of you who might do it in the future), you can wholly love your child, but that doesn’t mean you know what they need. Most times adoptive families are able to provide their child a “better” life than their bio parents would’ve been able to. However, the best way to love them is to honor the fact that they are different from you. Honoring those differences makes everybody’s lives better.

Jack had to argue with his wife about the importance of their son having Black mentors. Randall started going to random Black people to see if they could roll their tongues in hopes that he’d find a genetic connection. Rebecca lived with the lie that her love to him was enough to fill the void, but it wasn’t.

Enter the devastation we all felt when we found out that Rebecca knew William all along. Adoption provides a new way of life, but it doesn’t replace the other life that would’ve emerged. That’s why I loved Number 3’s episode where we got to see William dream about sharing big moments with Randall and his family.

Admittedly, this is hard for most people to get though. I mean, look at how hard it was to give Deja back to her mom.

It was even harder to watch her struggle to go back. It was so impactful to hear her say that even though she wanted to go back with her mom, that didn’t mean she didn’t wanna stay with the Pearsons. It shows the struggle a lot of kids go through who are adopted or in the system. It’s part of why Randall visited Howard University.

He loved the family that chose him, but he wanted a deeper connection to the culture that created him.

OhCAE, I’m done for now.

This Is Us, But Mainly Kate

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This Is Us is the best show I’ve ever seen. I know that sounds extra, but I’m pretty sure I’m telling the truth. The show follows the lives of three adult siblings with complicated lives. 

I have a DEEP appreciation for amazing portrayal the Black character, Randall. His backstory, his current story, his family #Swoon. The whole show could just be about his family and I would still be as invested.

As much as I love all the richness that is Randall and Beth Pearson, I can’t help but admit how much Kate’s subplot speaks loudly to a fat girl in me who is constantly healing.

This Is Us - Season 1

All the people reading this who relate to this scale moment, exhale. You’re not on the scale in front of people any more. It’s ok. I totally get how seeing this pic could cause anxiety, but breathe. OhCAE… moving on.

Recently, I’ve reached a new place in my weight loss journey. Or maybe we could call it my journey to changing my relationship with my body. In a 2010s world of body positivity there are still women like me and Kate who grew up in a world that hated fat people. It’s hard to not internalize some of that hate. It’s SUPER hard to push some of it out when it’s been part of a person for so long.

Kate bikini

Look at kiddo Kate in her Care Bears bikini! Cute! She’s 8 and hasn’t learned to see herself through other’s eyes yet. I have a bikini pic from around the same age and size. (I’ll find it and update this later, maybe.) In the pic, I was having a super fun time at Wheels Inn. (RIP Wheels)

Pig Kate

So here’s Kate enjoying her life with her bikini, then her friends laugh at her and explain that they no longer want to be friends because she looks like a pig. This, of course, devastates her. But it’s not just the note. It’s a combination of the note and her mom’s constant pressure for her to lose weight. She makes her eat cantaloupe while her brothers eat sugary cereal. 

People wrap their encouragement to lose weight in fake concern for fat people’s health, but never discuss health choices with trash eating people in slim bodies. Kate couldn’t eat what she wanted, but her brothers could even though it wasn’t good for them. 

Now, lemme clarify. This isn’t my story. But I definitely know how lonely it can be to feel like you’re the only kid you ever see who has to be concerned with food intake. It’s an unfortunate and sobering moment to realize you’re a 7 year old and sitting at a fat doctor. Going to your pediatrician because you have a cold and he scoffs when your dad asks if it’s safe for you to take the prescription at 11 because “she’s 200 pounds” is an unforgettable experience.

Thinking about this stuff makes me reassess why I’m so comfortable only acknowledging Randall’s family line. Randall’s life reminds me of the current me. The one who has taken my trials and built the life I want despite the difficulties. Kate’s inability to move beyond her childhood hurts makes me face the fact that I still have work to do to heal little Cae.

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