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Wednesday Wind Down: Matri

Happy Wednesday, Family!

Mother’s Day is near and I’ve been reflecting lately on lessons I’ve learned from the matriarchs in my family. Before I dive into that pool of goodness, I must acknowledge the mamas in this virtual living room and those mourning their mamas. I love you all and I see you. I appreciate you and I’m hugging all of you right now.

April is a reflective month for me because two of my late grandmothers’ birthdays are in that month. When May comes, the flutter of mother’s day rests on my heart in the same sentimental space. It’s a peaceful area. I feel the spirits of my matriarchs everywhere and their wisdom wraps me up and steadies my seas. Below are four lessons that steer my life to this day.

Photo by Timothy Paule II on Pexels.com
  1. Keep your mind sharp.
    When my great-grandparents drove down from Ohio to visit us in Alabama, it felt like Christmas morning. Not because they had a bag of presents, but because Great-Grandma Coffee was my mental playmate. I was nerdy elementary kid and she reveled in it. A few books of word search puzzles was always in her bag and my eyes lit up every time she held it in her hands. When she calmly pulled out a pen from her purse and rested her knees in that rocking chair, I knew what time it was. The challenge was on to see who could finish a page first. We could go through 50 puzzles in a matter of days. She had a head full of trivia. If I beat her, it was a miracle. Our word search battles were the stuff of gladiators. Her daughter, my grandmother, was the same way… always stretching her mind. Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy were constantly playing on the television and I loved it all. Thank God for matriarchs that weren’t afraid to show their wit.
  2. We are stewards of the Earth.
    My paternal grandmother taught me early that God gave us a divine charge to take care of this planet. Recycling was non-negotiable and eating fresh foods was normal. She read every label and screened every meal to ensure it was nutritionally balanced. Aloe plants thrived in her apartment It’s because of her that I only purchase 100% juice and that I can tell you which vegetables contain certain vitamins. She’s why I eat broccoli like candy and monitor my fried food intake. Her mantra was that we were made from the Earth, so She had everything we needed to survive. I loved that about my grandmother and I appreciate her wisdom in marrying our faith to Mother Nature.
  3. Do it well or don’t do it at all.
    One thing about my grandmothers and my mother, they were/are notorious perfectionists. My aunts are the same. What you could not do was do something halfway and they find out about it. No way. Make that a hell no with stadium lights around it.. My grandmothers could dress to the nines and could organize an event better than any professional planner. They stressed that the only thing you truly own is your name and is imperative to keep it intact. Whether it was re-applying the crooked stamps on the envelopes or making sure my choir robe was pressed, everything has the stamp of your name on it, so care about everything that leaves your hands.
  4. Serve from the heart.
    I watched my matriarchs serve people from all walks of life when they needed Love most. Their hands were extensions of God. I saw grace with my own eyes from elementary school onward and it germinated grace in me. My mother called the parents of her Sunday School students every Saturday to ensure they were coming the next day and to offer a ride if they needed. The little brown Chevette carried a caravan, you hear me? Every week, she picked up youth choir members and anyone who wanted to go to church. That single mother on a shoestring budget made several trips if necessary. My mother. Every week. Rain or shine. My aunt wakes up asking God to show her who to help today, then… she actually does it. No matter what it is. When you serve others, you do it from the heart of God, or don’t do it at all. Period.
Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

None of my grandparents are living, but they live within me. Their wisdom stands around me when life gets rough. I appreciate everything they instilled in me and all that my mother still pours into my soul. It’s a priceless gift.

I pray that you are surrounded by maternal wisdom from surprising places if you’re not able to retrieve it from your family. Matriarchs are all over the place – in your community, your church, your neighborhood senior living center or retirement community… anywhere. Reach out for it and be amazed at the richness you’ll find.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Family. I love you and stay well out there!

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #16

Dear Aunts & Uncles,

This may sound elementary, but I mean it — I think you’re cool!

I know I wrote about you before, but I just had to say it again. You’re so diverse and wise. I soak up your spirit when you’re around.

Thank you for never telling me I can’t do something. Whether it was nailing shingles on the roof or planting seeds, you always said “Go ‘head. You can do it.”

Uncles, you always made me feel safe — safe in your wisdom and your presence alone. No matter where we were, I knew I was good hands. I knew that you would fight for me as fiercely as my mother would if anything happened. I trusted that you had my back. You had a way of treating me like a strong soul instead of a fragile princess. Thank you for that. It made my feminism formidable.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Aunts, you always taught me something. Both of you are so creatively crafty. You can literally take something ordinary and make something beautiful. It’s amazing to watch your mind work fast and your hands work even faster. And let’s not forget our talks… they were and still are epic. If I felt misunderstood, you listened and spoke my language. Lastly, you’ve lived through so much that it seeps from your pores. I am so appreciative that you share yourself with me.

I reflect on my childhood often and see flickers of your sweetness everywhere. I am so grateful for you. My mother had a tribe to help her raise me. She had a support system that cared so deeply. The fruit of your love sprinkles to those around me, especially to my village kids. My prayer is that I can show them at least half of the awesomeness that you showed me… that they feel empowered and enchanted. Thank you so much for being in my tribe. I forever love you.

Sincerely,

CJW

Wednesday Wind Down: The Trickle-Down Effect

Hi, Sweethearts.

This post is dedicated to my aunts and uncles. How many of you can attribute something you do to a family member, better yet, a family member older than you? I can. The older I get, the more I realize how much of my behavioral traits can be directly traced to my family and I’m proud of that truth.

Aunt Janice – She’s so creative and resourceful. I have fond memories of helping her create flower arrangements and searching for just the right item to make it perfect.

Uncle Buck – Supa fly. Had style and swag like no other. Military veteran, strong confidence, and a breezy disposition. We could talk about anything.

Uncle Mack – Passionate and resilient. It is what it is. When I broke my arm as a child, he was limping but carried me down about 15 steps. When I rode in his car, we always listened to R&B classics, and I fell in love with them.

Uncle Bo – Any question you have, he has a wise answer. Practical, a well of knowledge, and can get along with just about anybody. Taught me how to change my brake pads too.

Uncle Greg – The life of the party, daring, and devout in his faith. Always smiling and laughing. When I was a kid, I remember wanting to be fearless like him.

Aunt Lisa – Full of joy, intuitive, and a garden goddess. Pure horticulture athlete. I get my playful side from her. She always looks at the bright side and helps people along the way.

Uncle Ed – The debater. The intellectual. The Bible scholar. His drawer full of cassettes compelled me to dive in and listen to everything, then try to put all of them back before he came home.

Uncle Ced – Courageous. My first superhero besides my mother. Military veteran and family man. My fondest memory was him returning from deployment and me acting like he had just come from the moon.

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My uncle’s tapes. *sigh* All the feels.

My musical love affair comes from my family. My fierce ride-and-live (I don’t say ride-or-die) loyal spirit comes from my family. My insatiable appetite for learning, desire to enjoy life and relentless drive comes from my family. My grandfather and grandmother empowered their children with life-long skills that have reached throughout generational branches. I am so blessed to be part of this family tree and I encourage you to dive into yours and explore yourself. You may be surprised by what you find. More importantly, I encourage you to pour into the fruit around you. Don’t leave a person in your home in the dark about something that you’ve learned from your elders. That water needs to be pulled through the roots in order to drip from the leaves. It’s valuable. It’s what make you rich. It’s what makes you live forever.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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