Mike Brown, My Life and Peace

MLK-Quote.001

Like a lot of people I sat glued to my TV last night watching the news coverage in Ferguson MO waiting for the announcement and the aftermath of it. The death of Mike Brown is a tragedy, as is the death of anyone. The fact is that an 18-year-old is dead and a cop’s life changed forever over a pack of cigars. That is tragic. A mother is mourning the loss of her child. That is tragic. The racist comments, coming from both sides at this point, are tragic. The fact that it is 2014 and people still insist on labeling others as “them” is tragic. I sit here totally heartbroken about the entire situation.

There are so many things going on in my head that I really don’t even know how to process, so I am going to the one thing that helps me; writing. I’ve been praying for everyone involved in this case since I first heard about it. I do not think that Wilson shot this 18-year-old in cold blood and I don’t think that means Mike Brown’s death is somehow less sad because of that fact.

I moved to Amarillo when I was 15 and I learned a lot about racism that I had never been exposed to in my entire life. I had never thought of black people any differently than myself. I grew up in a small cow town in south Texas where we had gay people in open relationships in Jr. High and the star athlete was black and it never occurred to me that he was anything other than that coolest person alive. Everyone in my town held him up like the prince of Kenedy ,Texas. He was great at everything he did and everyone that I knew wanted to be his friend. There weren’t that many black people in my town, but I never saw race as an issue. When I began going to high school at Palo Duro in Amarillo that all changed. For the first time in my life I was scared of people who were other races than me. That included my family. I was never mesican enough for them. Even though I went through a phase of trying to fit in with Dickies and flannel shirts.

I somehow became friends with one of the star football players who saw the look of fear on my face as I hid in the phone booth refusing to go to class with all “those people” one my first day at my new school. He felt sorry for me and took it upon himself to help me navigate through this new experience. What I found was that even if my family didn’t really accept me for who I was (a book reading band nerd), the black community did. My first boyfriend (who is now my husband) had introduced me to rap music and that was the common ground for me and my new friends. I liked Eazy-E and Snoop Dogg and music was my life saver. I began to go to church with the black kids and go to Sunday dinner at their grandmother’s houses. I was still a shy nerd, but they taught me what acceptance and loyalty is. When people would mess with me at school, they had my back. I learned the G code, which is that you hold down those that you love and they will always hold you down too. If you talk shit, then they will confront you so the best thing to do is to not talk shit or to talk it to someone’s face and not talk behind their back. I learned don’t start none, won’t be none. I learned how to stand up for what I believed in, that there is injustice in this world and that everything is harder in the hood. The level of frustration over life in the hood is always high. After a shooting at my school I stood behind a mic for the first time and learned that I had a voice.  I found the awesomeness that is a Friday night on the dance floor dancing to beat under the cloud of smoke with your girls. There is no place in this world that I would rather be than on that dance floor.

I have seen how I am treated differently than my black friends. I have seen how people who know nothing about them label them as thugs or criminals. I have seen people walk into a club that has “no guns allowed” signs and start shooting. I have hidden under tables or in my car when fights break out. I have also broken up fights. I have also been in fights using bottles or whatever I can to defend myself against someone who is trying to beat me down. I’ve been arrested  many times.

Now, I live in the suburbs and there is a huge difference in my life compared to my life then. And I would still rather be there. Not to be acting up still, but to help the people who I love. I love the hood. That is where my heart lives. I know there are great people with untapped potential there who are oppressed by some invisible force that nobody can really ever understand without living there. I don’t even understand it because no matter how long I lived there, I wasn’t black living there. There is so much that the media doesn’t and won’t ever catch on camera.

I also see how people see my husband’s cowboy hat and automatically label him a racist redneck and have no clue that he is the one who introduced me to Hip Hop and more than anything the fact that he can bump some Lil Wayne in his truck while wearing a Stetson is the reason WHY I love him as much as I do.

That is why rappers rap the songs they do. Because that is their life experience.It’s also a way out of it.  That is why I listen to rap music. Because a lot of those songs are like paintings using words to express what life is like when you are poor, black and live in the ghetto. Too bad that most people either listen to it to try to act hard or don’t listen to it because it “promotes violence”. Violence is part of life to some people; it doesn’t need to be “promoted” when it’s being lived.

When someone walks into a college library and shoots at “good” kids there are cries for something to be done. But when a kid in the ghetto is shot in the head outside of a club , nobody knows about it except those watching the local news. There are no cries for help. Because shootings on “that side of town” are the norm, but heaven forbid that those things happen in the suburbs where “good” people live.

I do not understand why, if I get this mother’s pain, get the anger of the black community that somehow I think all cops are killers. Or if I don’t think Wilson killed Brown in cold blood that I somehow have to think every police officer in America is a Noble Peace Prize winner. Why does everything have to be so black and white (no pun intended) and I have to choose sides? I don’t. The only side that I am on is the human side. I am Catholic, I mourn the loss of any life. Whether they are innocent or a thug makes no difference to me, or to God. He loves them the same.

I pray for the repose of the soul of Mike Brown and for his family. I hope that everyone who is making comments on this case one way or the other take time out of their day to do the same.

7 QT’s about This Crazy Week

7_quick_takes_sm1

 

1.

This has been the craziest weeks in a long time. Not in a bad way, in a very good way, but still crazy. I don’t even know how it’s Friday. I have done nothing on my to-do list. It also doesn’t help that feel like I can’t see. I think I need glasses, which makes things very difficult to do. Like write.

2.

Speaking of writing, I have done nothing on my book all month-long and I plan to have the second 1st draft done by the end of the year. Ummmm. I don’t know how that is gonna go. I may need to order some Red Bull and stronger coffee.

3.

I got two books in the mail to review for my new radio show (and this blog by extension) So reading is officially part of work for me and I there is NO WAY that I can explain how happy that makes me!! I have arrived in the promised land.

4.

Edel 15 tickets went on sale this week!!! Who’s going? Last year was so much fun. I am trying to talk my husband and my BFF into a road trip to Charleston for me to go to Edel. It will be like Tiny and Shekinah’s Weave Trip, Catholic edition. I can’t wait, it’s gonna be so much fun. Maybe we will get a reality show out of it. As I told them my exciting plans they were getting ready for bed. It was 9:30 PM!!! These are my ride or dies and that is just not acceptable. We need a little R&R to get our groove back.

5.

I asked God to cure me of my Facebook addiction and He answered me. Sho ‘nuf did. I got a call from a homeless woman with 4 kids who needed desperate help to find a place to go, I ran into a couple who hadn’t been to confession in years and didn’t speak English so they needed help to find a priest, I found a lost dog and then bought breakfast tacos for a guy with a sign that said “I’m just hungry man” on it, plus I got those two books in the mail. There are tons of other things going on, not to mention having to feed and care for my kids sooooo I haven’t been on FB that much this week arguing with people who about things that they are never going to change their views about because someone on FB brought them to the light. I’m not ever going to the light like that either.

6.

I did revamp my entire online presence so that I can keep one Facebook profile for my close friends, family and networking while everything else is for the blog/radio show/book stuff. I don’t like the Pages option for writing because I feel like it’s so one-sided. I want to know the people who take time out of their day to read this little blog. For me, the only option was to have another Facebook for that reason. I’ll see how it goes. If anything, I’m really confused and so I am not on FB all that much. HAHA!

7.

It is hard to lived a life that is centered around Jesus. It’s exhausting sometimes. Even though I know that I am not working for my salvation at all, I sure do hope that maybe somehow Jesus gives me a dance floor and disco ball in my heavenly mansion, if I make it to Glory. I can hope.

For more Quick Takes, go visit Kelly!

Proverbs 31 Fail, or Maybe Not

So yesterday at Mass the first reading was out of Proverbs 31 which for me is the “How you suck as a wife” proverb. Mostly because I have had a low self-esteem most of my life, but also because I’m not like other “normal” women. Or my idea of normal anyway. I have always thought of normal as clean and organized. My mother is the cleanest person to ever live. The woman takes down her curtains once a month, washes and irons them and then puts them back up. My curtains have a half-inch of dust on them.

I am also not crafty at all. I was looking over my Timehop today and I found a post from a few years ago where I tried to do a craft with my kids and ended up losing a battle with tissue paper. I hate crafts. I don’t sew, I don’t like cleaning at all; as in, I would rather slit my wrists than mop a floor. I like to cook, but I hate getting off the couch to do it. I can’t plant anything and the idea of raising my own chickens makes me laugh so hard that my ribs hurt.

For most of my life, I have compared myself to my mother, my aunts and my grandmother. My grandma was nuts, but she cooked and took care of her family. It’s how all the women in my family roll. Growing up I saw my aunts sweep, mop and vacuum their house every day. Whhhuuuut?! I do it on Mondays and that is only so I can sit on the couch and read and write for the rest of the week feeling like I did something instead of feeling like a Proverbs 31 woman fail.

Yesterday at Mass I was rolling my eyes and having this conversation in my head about how hard it is to be a wife and mother in 2014 vs when the Proverbs 31 wife lived. Sure we have washers, dryers, grocery stores, stoves and dishwashers these days, but there is still so much that is hard. Like getting your husband to entrust his heart to you when everywhere he turns he is told that to do that will cost him way too much so he needs protect himself because all women are angry bitches. Oh, and I kind of am an angry bitch after being with so many men in my life who took advantage of my longing to love and be loved just so they could get in my pants. This is what was going through my head during Mass yesterday. How much life, love and marriage cost me every single day. For a minute I thought that maybe my problem is that I don’t know where the city gates are in the first place so how the hell am I supposed to claim my prize? And who even knew there was a prize?!

In the middle of my complain filled rant I heard God say to me that maybe the reason that everything is so hard is because I make it hard. I try so hard to do all the things that I think I have to do to be a good wife, mother, Catholic and daughter and the truth is that there is nothing that I can do to be any of those things on my own. There isn’t a list long enough of things that I could do on my own without Grace that would make sure that all the people entrusted to me will do what I think they should. My place is not to control any of them, but to let them make their own choices in life while loving them. Will they make mistakes? Yes. So did I and those mistakes all have helped me be who I am today. God loves them more than I do so what makes me think that it is all up to me to make sure they are ok? It isn’t. It’s all up to Him. What I am called to do is to show them the love that He has for them by loving them as they are, giving advice when asked for it and guiding them the best that I can while letting them know what I’ve learned from my mistakes. But I can never make their choices for them.

It’s also important to make sure and not lose myself in trying to do all the things perfectly. A beautiful woman is a woman who can joyfully love, serve and pray for her family while putting God first in her life but who also doesn’t lose who she is by doing that. Loving God, my husband or my kid doesn’t mean that I need to forget who I am, my likes, my hobbies and what makes me joyful.  I am not Betty Crocker. There isn’t anything wrong with loving to cook, crafts, garden or any of that, but those just aren’t gifts that God has given me. Maybe He hasn’t given me 5 talents, maybe He just gave me two, but either way none of them are gifts like crafting, scrapbooking, sewing or any of those things. My gifts are daydreaming, talking, writing, reading, and an unfailing faith in and love for Jesus Christ. I am so much a Mary and not a Martha. If I clean my house it is out of pure love for Christ and my family, not because it makes my life.

By the time that I laid my head down to go to sleep last night I realized that the best way for me to be a Proverbs 31 wife is to not bury my gifts and talents that God has giving me trying to do things that I’m not good at just to prove to myself or anyone else that I am good enough. I already am good enough. I am thankful for the gifts that God has given me: first my husband and then my kids and grand baby. I was feeling like such a fail yesterday but when I look at my family I see seven human beings who God gave me to love and I’m so proud of them. God would never have put those people in my care if I was any kind of fail.

Proverbs 31-2

7 Quick Takes on Kim Kardashion and Pro-life Catholics doing it wrong

7_quick_takes_sm1

1.

I’m gonna be honest, this is what I have looked like all week-long as I look over my Newsfeed on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

these-people-are-too-damn-crazy

No offense to crazy people.

2.

I came out of the closet when it comes to my love of Kim Kardashian a long time ago, because the truth is that we have plenty of petty drama in the Catholic Church, so to act as if we are “too good” for reality TV is stupid. Exhibit A: all the exploding heads over Pope Francis, the Synod and how the sky is falling. The fact is that I watch a lot of reality TV, there is one lady who is judging me hard for it because it’s a waste of time, umm, no shit. It’s not really a waste of time for me. I could list all the things that I have learned from watching the Kardashians alone. Like that money doesn’t change the fact that everyone in this world, both rich and dirt poor, wants to be loved and to love. Where we all disagree is on how to do those two things. Even the most pious rosary praying Catholic misses that mark, that is what sin IS.

3.

I think Kimmy K is gorgeous. I think she is smarter than a lot of people, including her family and her husband, give her credit for. She has a heart of gold. She has great taste in fashion when she isn’t trying impress anyone and her love of selfies is kind of like my love of books. Sure, I can pretend that I love books because they make me smart, but the truth is that I just love getting books in the mail. I like smelling them more than I take time to read them. I’m just being real about it, I am obsessed with books because books, not because I am smarter than Kim.

4.

If you are Catholic and/or pro-life and you are calling Kim Kardashian a whore, slut, dumb bitch, waste of air, or anything else like that then you are doing Catholic/pro-life wrong. I don’t care if you stand outside of an abortion clinic for 17 days in 40 inches of snow, you are still doing it wrong. Being Catholic and/or pro-life is about the dignity of the human person. If you do not get that everyone has that dignity but are against abortion then 1. you are anti-abortion not pro-life and 2. you are part of the problem.

5.

Kimmy K… girl. You are worth more than your ass.  Your husband should value you more than that. You should value your child more than that, and if none of that hits you then, you should value my child. My son has battled an issue with looking at porn for the last 2 years of his life. Unlike most grown men, he admits his problem and does whatever it takes to make sure that he respects himself and women by not looking at naked pictures of women on the internet. Because of your pictures, he was not able to do his homework because it was online and your boobs and ass were plastered everywhere. Maybe that isn’t a big deal to you yet since your child is still little, but when you were attacked on a plane by a crazy person yelling that your baby was black, you knew that your job was to protect your child from that and you wrote a letter on your blog about it. Well, I am a mother protecting my child, and I am asking you to please consider what your actions did to my child. Mother to mother, it isn’t cool that my kid had to give me his iPod because he was talking to a friend on Instagram and the picture of your ass popped up. He didn’t go looking for that, it came to him. That is not cool. If you wanna be naked for the world, please do it in a way that my child, who is fighting against his addiction like a champ, isn’t exposed to it.

6.

Please read this post on New Wave Feminists and do all women a favor and stop helping push the idea that we are only worth something if we meet some far-fetched goal of beauty. Not all of us have your time or money. If I did, I promise that I would be hotter than you, but I don’t so I am 60 pounds heavier than I’ve ever been in my life and I hate myself when I look in the mirror. Why? Because I have lived in a culture that tells me if I’m not a size 3 waist with size 36 C boobs that I am ugly. I know you know what that feels like because of everything said about you while you were pregnant. Posing naked for some no name magazine isn’t going to make you feel better about yourself, but it will make the rest of us who can’t get work done or spend 10 hours in the gym feel worse about ourselves.

7.

Women, we can do better than constantly comparing ourselves to one another. At the end of the day, each one of us is trying to be the best woman that we can be. Nobody gets that more than other women. Instead of attacking one another or comparing ourselves to the other, how about if we just help, pray and support each other. We are all fighting a battle with ourselves, why add to that by fighting other women? Jesus, give us Your peace.

For more Quick Takes go see Kelly who is hosting 7 Quick Takes this week! 

I can Only Change Myself

For 5 years I have heard that joy is what is underneath the water surface. That everything on the surface can be in turmoil but below that is calm water. I have rolled my eyes every time that is said to me, which is often. The last two weeks have taught me that lesson hard-core. I’ve also learned a few others: the key to joy is minding my business, loving instead of fixing and paying attention to my own responsibilities and doing them. I’ve also learned when you have radical trust in God, people who don’t have that will throw major shade. I haven’t learned how to deal with that in a charitable way, so I will talk it out with my therapist tomorrow.

The thing about codependency that I didn’t really understand is that it’s all about controlling other people to do what I want them to do to make me happy. Not that I would know ANYONE (::ahem:: me) who tries to manipulate others like that or anything, but yes, that is what it is.

When I first converted I became a Judgy McJudge Face. Once I was done wrestling with all things Catholic morality, I found a good list of do’s and don’ts that made it very easy for me to measure other people up. I already have the gift of sizing people up. Being abused time and time again plus being in the hood for as long as I was, combined into making me one of these people who can tell right off the bat what kind of person you are. Even if I am smiling and waving, do not be fooled, I know if you are sketchy. If I bring you around my dog, he will confirm that sketchiness in a heartbeat. I confused that with being able to judge people to hell. That never turns out well.

I didn’t really understand where that came from because really, I hate rules. HATE.THEM. Anyone who has known me most of my life will tell you that. I rebel against everything anyone says is how something should be. I got pregnant at 16, I worked at Hooters (because my ex-husband told me that I couldn’t), I married my first husband after only knowing him for two weeks and I had four kids when everyone told me how many kids that was. I do not listen to anyone ever. Yet when I became Catholic (after a lot of not listening and having to learn for myself which is where not listening to anyone comes in handy, I’m not a brainwashed idiot) I fell in love with all the rules for some reason and then expected everyone to just follow them when they came to me with a problem.

Have a problem in your marriage? Read the Catechism. Have an issue with your children? Well, if you were Catholic then maybe that wouldn’t be a problem. Baby having nightmares? Well you should pray a novena and give your life to Jesus. I had a Catholic answer for every single problem that any friend came to me with. Yes, Jesus is the answer to everything but He never said to beat other people over the head with Him, He said to LOVE THEM. You can’t love someone who you are trying to fix. You can love someone and hold their hand while they work with Jesus to fix themselves, but that is it. You can’t try to make anyone in your own image because they are already made in the image of God.

All my codependency was triggered in the rules, logic and arguments of Catholic Teaching and I found a great tool to use to prove how right I was and I had a ruler to measure everyone up against and then a list of things people had to do to be “good enough”, including myself.

Thank God for my angel who told me what a bitch I was being to everyone in my life. Not to mention the most humbling year of my life that really made me realize that the key to life is to mind my own business. God allows freedom for a reason, He isn’t an abuser, He doesn’t impose Himself on anyone, so who did I think I was to do so? Yes, love requires truth, but we can’t use that truth to try to get anyone to be anything that they do not freely choose to be. It’s that simply and yet so hard. When I really look at my own faults though, I can see that my motives are not pure, they are all about controlling others and getting my way. They are about wanting people to be who I need them to be for my comfort and there is nothing about God’s will or willing the good of the other in that at all. It is really all about me.

RUDE

Since my rude angel got all up in my face about this, I have worked hard on breaking my codependency and on loving others instead of trying to change them. I know that they only person that I can change is me.