CAE to CAF 6: Grief

Standard

“Dealing with death is weird because someone you’ve known all of your life is suddenly gone and you’re left to deal with the fact that they’re never coming back.” Snagged from an old blog post, Remain In Peace.

This is more of a sequel to that piece, but before I really get into the meat of this one lemme get something off my chest.

Before Tyrone and I decided to get married, I never wanted to be married. I had considered it with an ex and when that was over, I was like yea… no. Married life isn’t for me.

And it’s important that I say that here because in my moments of grief as it relates to family members who have died, I would think “if only my Grandma could’ve seen me graduate college.” Or “my Granny would be so proud to see me raising all these kids just like she did.” And “My Auntie was an amazing Auntie. That’s why I have my babies call me ‘auntie’ because it’s a way of honoring her.” I’ve always known that degrees were part of my life plan. As well as working with and pouring into children. I really wanted to be an auntie of my village. So I allowed myself time to process the fact that they’d never see those moments. But I never imagined myself married. So with just a few days to go, I’m giving myself space to grieve over the notion that none of them will be there.

Grandma won’t get to “hit the high note.” Granny won’t be there to cheer when she sees these homegrown Clay hips in my dress. Auntie Teresa won’t get to steal the show with her jokes. Uncle Wayne won’t be there to heartily tell me how proud he is of the woman I’ve become.

But as a therapist who has a therapist and who started therapy because of my response to grief, I can’t let this moment pass without telling you a person doesn’t have to die for you to grieve her/his presence.

People read my posts about doing things alone for years and they’re inspired to try life on their own as well, but no one has ever stopped to ask me “where did everybody go?” Whenever I did indulge in conversations about hypothetical married life, there are some faces that I thought would be in the space on my hypothetical wedding day. But the way that life happens and the way free will is set up, many of them won’t be present for the real thing. While I’m ok, I’d be less than the authentic self I’m trying to be if I didn’t outwardly say they have been missed during this process.

Nevertheless, the last stage of grief is acceptance.

I accept that some people pass on.

I accept that some people move on.

And I affirm that I have everything and everyone that I need with me.

CAE to CAF 4: Entrepreneurship

Standard

This series is called CAE to CAF to highlight my most obvious identity change, my name, but this season of my life has changed many of my identities.

Since I was 15, I have seen myself and identified as an educator. 15 years later, however, I know hold two advanced degrees in social science. I’m legitimately a counselor. I emphasize legitimately because many educators counsel their kids and I wouldn’t be who I am without their willingness to expand their roles as teachers.

Anywho… I’m a teacher. I’m a counselor. On weekends, I’m a waitress. I spend majority of my time finding out what people need and serving them. Servant leadership has been part of my identity since long before I knew the term. Its role increased tremendously when I took on my latest (and my prevalent) title: entrepreneur.

I co-own two businesses. Elevated Education Center, my childcare center and God Be Goddin’, my Christian apparel line.

I have years of classroom experience as an early childhood educator, but I never expected to be the boss. Yet, here I am. It has taken a new level of energy and commitment because now I serve my children, their parents, and my staff. I’m bombarded by questions, requests, and needs all day every day. All. Day. EVERY. Day.

This has been EXTREMELY difficult for me since the beginning. There is absolutely no way I could have made it through this first year without Tyrone. I needed to be able to come home to him. I needed him to be one person I can always count on to serve ME.

It is a blessing when he comes by the center when he leaves work and grabs the vacuum while I interact with my last couple kids. When he grabs the trash at the end of the school day, it translates as love to me. When he listens to my stories about the babies I feel heard. And the fact that he doesn’t pressure me into domestic roles has encouraged me to want to fill them even more. Working for people is hard and draining. I’m grateful to have someone who fills me.

CAE to CAF 1

Standard

This is long, but go with it.

During this almost married season, I’ve had to repent to God.

Changing my name has REALLY done a number on me.

I love that people cleverly comment “OhCAE” on my posts cuz they recognize it from my hashtag. It’s cool when people ask my cash tag and assume it’s $OhCAE.

It’s a reminder that I have been diligently building something for years and at least in my social media world, it has become something.

So the thought of changing my name has been paradigm shifting.

Who am I if I’m no longer CAE? And how will I develop this new woman I’m becoming?

When I shared with my close friends, a few have said I have the option of keeping it. And while I know that it’s true, it doesn’t work because the woman I’ve become since getting engaged deserves a name of her own.

For the first time in my life, I’m for real deciding to submit to someone else and let him lead me.

***So here’s why I repent.***

I’m allowing someone to change my identity. Give me a new name. Allowing myself to be identified by his name first. I’m be possessed by someone. (Mrs. is short for Mister’s as in belonging to him.)

While pondering this, I realized this is the same process I went through when I gave my life to Christ except I never fully gave in to it. I’ve been trying to belong to myself and to God. And changing my last name has put into perspective how lightly I have taken being called a Christian.

I know the rhetoric we use in Christian related things. “He wants it all.” “You’re a new creation in Christ.”

We talk about all the literal name changes of people in the Bible, but because I’ve been able to continue to be Claricha, what I’ve been saying all along really didn’t hit me until I started preparing to become Claricha Foster.

I have given more time and space to changing my last name for the sake of my man than I ever gave to the Lord for changing my heart.

This process has made scripture come alive for me. I’m a new creature. I’m learning to submit to someone like I have the Lord and because of this, I’m learning to submit to the Lord for real.

This Is Us, But Mainly Randall

Standard

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.

straight face

(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.

You Can Actually Do It All

Standard

Who are you? Why are you? What do you do? Why do you do what you do?

Answer those. 

What’d you say for “What do you do?” More than likely you answered with your job. Our culture teaches us to place our value and find our identity in our occupation. 

Think about it. As a kid you probably answered this question innumerable times. “What do you wanna be when you grow up?” Then you had to do a project to research that thing. Then you were told to go to college so you could be that thing. And perhaps you’ve become that thing. 

I’m sincerely proud of you! But I have a question. What else do you wanna be? What other titles do you wish you carried? What are some hobbies you wish you could invest more time and energy into? 

Why haven’t you done those things? Is it because you believe you have to choose?

Well… you don’t. 

Take this guy. Clearly he’s a speaker of some kind. And clearly a musician. He plays jazz and has a single on the charts that rivals pop artists like Bruno Mars and Rihanna. Listen Here!

He’s clearly a family man. 
And he’s lettered and has dope friends who are doing great things. 💁🏿‍♂️👨🏾‍🎓He travels and mentors. 

And through 14 years of sermons and teachings he has pastored me and numerous others. 

My pastor has been the embodiment of exercising EVERY gift God has given you. His leadership and example inspire me to tap into all of my talents and not alllow anyone to pigeonhole me into one arena. But people seriously struggle with the idea that anybody, especially a pastor, can truly be multi-faceted. It’s so bad that he had to release this statement on Facebook in February because his music has been gaining more attention. 

“Hey FB Family! I have been fighting a vicious rumor for about 8 months and it has now hit a new level. It has been reported that I am leaving Lansing and resigning as the Sr. Pastor of the Epicenter of Worship. This rumor is an absolute LIE!! I am not leaving Lansing and last Sunday WAS NOT my last Sunday. In fact, Epicenter is expanding its footprint in the region. We currently have 3 churches in Lansing (two sister churches and HQ). With the help of about 50 people in Detroit we have opened Epicenter of Worship Detroit and it is doing well. IN 2017 ALONE, WE HAVE ORDAINED OVER 12 MINISTERS FOR GOSPEL MINISTRY IN THE REGION.   

Yes, I am a jazz SAXOPHONIST- musician but that doesn’t take away from my pastorate. Why can’t I do multiple things and still LEAD HEALTHY CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES? I am asking EVERY EOW MEMBER TO MEET ME ON SUNDAY AT 10AM!! HELP ME PUT THIS LIE TO REST!!!! NOW YOU HEARD IT STRAIGHT FROM ME!!! THE LION IS OFFICIALLY AWAKENED! LANSING GET READY FOR EXPANSION.”

What I’ve learned is this… My job is what I do. It’s not who I am. Who I am is a child of a supreme being who created the universe with His words, who split apart a sea, who set a water soaked altar ablaze, who showed prophets visions of things thousands of years before they happened, who impregnated a virgin, who became a human, who died, who came back and who gives His Spirit to those who receive Him. If that’s my Father why would I relegate myself to one way of expressing myself? 

Who are you? Why are you? What do you do? Why do you do what you do?

Who’s stopping you from doing and being more?

Thank you, Dr. Sean Holland for living your life as an example for others. 

You can purchase your copy of Steps of a Good Man here👇🏾

Intersectionality 

Standard

My Black Facebook friends are raging
My White Facebook friends are silent

I’m constantly torn between feeling like a sell out 

Or possibly appearing violent. 

Being a young college-educated Christian Black girl 

Has to be one of the most complex identities in the world