Life has so many ups and downs and changes, that sometimes 50/50 seems good enough. Sometimes life’s challenges seem so overwhelming, but then I am reminded through a smile or a laugh, how unbelievable life really is. – IvySoul Robinson
IvySoul Robinson with Unbelievable
words from the director
Ms. Nadine Jordan of
Sacramento via Montreal
To”Let”means we have a responsibility in the matter. It also means that we must give permission or allow the opportunity for God to do something in our lives,or through our lives, that he desires to see happen. When God is saying “Let”He saying that there is no reluctance on his part to see something happen.but he waiting for us to respond.
I grew up a very spoiled and scary little girl. have you ever heard that saying I was kicked out of school because I couldn’t go to recess wel I wouldn’t because l was scared of all the Children. There were just too many I’d never make it past the fenced in area behind the classroom.
Once I got home my father asked me what the problem was I told him I was scared of all the Children there he just look at me and ask me what was I going to do about it only I didn’t know and that just wasn’t an option he told me I had my own platoon of siblings and that I needed to figure it out when I got tired of playing with them through the window (while closed) I began thinking and watching what everyone was doing. Everything possible it seemed like weeks had gone by because he was right there were eight boy’s and seven girl’s I’m not counting myself even though we didn’t all live together I still knew their movement in the house at first it was for survival and later it we be for blackmail I knew who was going out the window and who was coming in the window before you knew it I was back in school.
Later as I got much better at it I was on the blacktop playing four square or on the monkey bars my sister’s and I got bullied all the five in total had to walk to and from school together or should I say run until I got tired and started fighting back this particular day the fight was not for me it was for my older sister Carolyn when I got home my mom said you weren’t afraid to fight I said nope and I was hot she do you know where she live I said yes we left I got her good I am nothing without my family I would protect my sister’s at all cost I’ve never had a childhood my father put me on the fast track when I was in the 7th grade I went to summer school every year at U.C.Davis I lived in the dorms for my six week stay by the time I got to the ninth grade I started earning college credit as well as high school credits and by the time I became a.
Senior I was done with with school and ready to go into the military but my father was not having it I was his first daughter to ever graduate high school he made me complete my senior year and I’m happy he did it was by far one one of best times of my and I was able to do something for my favorite guy my father was best friend he never bought a formal gown I went to the prom both Jr and Sr he was so giddy just he and I shopped for the most part mom had the final say so oops no babies no boyfriend just my diploma
He even came with me to take my senior portraits (little shirley)
After graduation everyone was just overwhelmed with what had taken place daddy thought I was riding with my mom and my mom thought I was riding with daddy I had to trick this guy into giving me a ride home I couldn’t carry all the loot that my father paid me not to go to the military because he said that little red piece in my mouth would get get me killed I never understood what he meant by that but ok I’ll take the car if you don’t mind shortly after just a little bit over a year I think I won’t think about it I lost my first teacher my best friend my father my everything
I’ve not been the same I have heard people say that girl’s look for a man who reminds them of they’re father that can’t be true I’ve never met anyone who can burn a candle to dad I can’t even have a picture of of him in my life in fear it may take me out I didn’t know what I was going to do because I was still a baby who was going to take care of me was my biggest fear my uncle’s shirley and Joe my dad’s brother’s tried to move me in and my grandparents I couldn’t they reminded me of my father eventually I got married to my first crush we went to Reno because I didn’t want anyone to know it wasn’t long before it the love left the relationship for him and he became known as Ike Turner and I his Tina he beat and raped me for years and I never told anyone it wasn’t long after I had gotten pregnant with our third child I decided I was done with him my brother’s were going to go to prison for murder if I didn’t leave so he decided to go to the military because I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse only to have him come back home our daughter had died she was stillborn because I had went out and bought clothing cribs toys everything she needed knowing fool well she would not have safe passage through the canal if I did it but I said everyone else does it so I did too I lost my MIND her was SANJIA ROCHELLE NEWMAN I named her because we had a bond she I after they told me she passed they left her inside me for a week I became toxic and they told my family I wouldn’t make it past mid-night I’m still here my breakdown took place as tried to discharge me it lasted just over six months just as I was getting myself together my mother past away the same day one year later I went to the funeral but I saw the Hurst with the casket and I woke up at home and my husband give me crack cocaine I’ve never done it or saw it before I kept askingquestions about it finally I hit it one hit I was was hooked for the next eight and half years I began to prostitute my body and my nickname was 211 because everyone knows it was a Robbery in progress almost every time I got in a car with someone I used to stay high and or tipsy I wanted to die out there I felt I had nothing to live for I thought I signed over my children I already lost my dad my daughter mother grandmother and and uncle they both were asking for me I just couldn’t I wasn’t able to do it !!!but then God snatched me up out of the gutter July 14,1998 and delivered me to VICTORY OUTREACH INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S OF SPECIAL SERVICES he Knew me and I knew nothing about him sure I went to church as child with grandmother but when the music stopped I stopped I was ready to go the only time I prayed was for another trick real talk the first two months I got rebuked every day and stayed on blackout either washing dishes or cleaning toilets how many people know God speaks to you while your on punishment or why else would I suddenly start falling in love with Jesus he promised me three things he was 1.going to clean me up and send me back out there and my enemies would not know me 2.give me back my children and 3.restore the relationship between me and my siblings and I tell you Dec.98 when I got a call from my daughter asking she she and her two siblings come see me I was speechless I had just woke up from alter call I know how to pray yet so I slept Amen! the church got quiet everyone was looking at me and I turned around it was some of my siblings with all three of my children the judge didn’t know who I was when back upon completion God had a plan for my life his will his plan his way for my life Stacy Lewis said I was to become one of the greatest Evangelist I relapsed right on the spot I already knew I wouldn’t make it far the Bible talks about many small words but the word I want to talk about is”let”it means we have a responsibility in the matter ,it also means that we must give permission or allow the opportunity for God to do something in our lives,or through our lives, that he desires to see happen when God is saying “Let”He saying that there is no reluctance on his part to see something happen,but he waiting for us to respond
Today I’m no longer that scary little girl because fear is not God but we all know things happen so I had to dig deeper into the word fear it is a lack of control which made perfect sense I know I do not have power over people,places, or things at times I lack control of self sometimes God gives us the answer to the question way before ask and other times when he feels we can handle it my parents knew I was mentally ill as a child but felt the need to keep it between themselves because they wanted me to rise to my full potential and that is what I did I miss them dearly they have gone on to glory but never but never forgotten .
Flower Crittenden of Sacramento
Shares Her Story Via a Spoken Word Performance
I’m the kind of person that yearns for positive reinforcement so out with the negatives first, this way I’ll end up in a better place than when I started. I am struggling to find the right words to explain to you the sacrifices I had to make in order to maintain the peace during one of the biggest battles I have ever fought in my life. Although, I feel strongly about this subject it is the hardest for me to write about. The challenges I faced were beyond astronomical. I lugged around an array of emotions that no one could possibly understand unless in my shoes. It still brings me a lot of pain and animosity right to the surface. It took me to the darkest hole in my existence without any idea of how I was ever going to climb out of it. There was no light at the end of this tumultuous tunnel.
I truly feel that people underestimate the power and depths of what parenting is really about, let alone what a stepparent entails. Someone once told me and I quote, “How could you possibly know what a child needs when you’ve never given birth?” That means anyone with an adopted child or decided to take full responsibility for one has no clue on what he/she needs? That by far is the most asinine statement I’ve heard. Becoming a natural mother/father doesn’t automatically make you a great parent. I need to say this with the utmost respect to my husband that coming to be a stepmother to Justin was the hardest job and also the most thankless one at that. There were no easy days. It was 7 years prior to having my son Michael. The only difference is I carried and birthed Michael.
I was confronted with the whispers of she’s the other woman huh? I wasn’t but people are going to say and think whatever they want anyway. I was also consistently reminded by my husband’s mother and a few others how I was not his real/maternal mother. That cut was surely the deepest. I was always walking a fine line and very cautious about ever crossing it. I always felt like the third wheel. I was uninvited to everything, I didn’t have a say and purposely left out of many conversations because his mother didn’t want me anywhere around. I wasn’t allowed to pick him up or keep him with me unless it was at her convenience. Even though I stepped up to help raise him like my very own flesh and blood son. I wasn’t trying to replace his mother I was simply stepping in when she wasn’t there to give him what he needed along with his father.
I never got the credit I deserved for raising or taking care of him when he was sick, getting shots for school and buying clothes. It’s not easy accepting someone else’s child but I can guarantee no one loves him the way that I did and still deeply do. Regardless of what I was doing from my heart I was highly criticized. I took plenty of jabs for assumptions that were made and led by misconceptions on top of ignorance. A good mother doesn’t come up with extravagant lies or happenings to keep someone out of her child’s life and she did that as much as humanly possible. She was good at rumors. The minute she heard we were getting married, she had my 3-year-old stepson ask if I was going to have a baby. WOW! I guess some individuals didn’t realize that I too, had feelings.
My love was selfless, rarely noticed and unappreciated. It didn’t matter what she did or didn’t do or if she hurt him because she’ll always be his mother and nothing will every change that. He’ll always love her “unconditionally” no matter what. On the other hand for me, it will. I haven’t received any stepmother of the year awards nor was I remembered on all of my birthdays, holidays or Mother’s day. I am the forgotten parent and not by my husband.
A person doesn’t just marry their spouse but the entire situation. I knew he and his son were a package deal. The demand happily obliged. I felt brave not obligated to give love a chance. I’m the woman who knew it would be complicated and difficult but was willing to give it a good try. I was born with an instinct to love my child and also had one for another who needed mine so I gave a piece freely without conditions. In my book, biology doesn’t make someone a mother. Our family was created by the way we treat each other not because of similar fucking DNA. I discovered finding the balance between supporting and defending without overstepping visible and invisible boundaries that were already set in place. It was lot of work trying to tie all of those pieces together but I did it. It was worth every single fight, tear, argument, quiet drive, hotel room stay and make-up session there ever was.
In fact, being a mother is about engaging strengths not knowing you had and dealing with fears you never knew even existed. He never said the words, “you’re not my mom” or “I hate you.” I felt his affections through hugs and kisses. He gave me flowers almost daily, a heart shaped rock, drew pictures and made me trinkets that I have on fond display. He’s not my child by blood and doesn’t call me “mom” but he does own a piece of my heart, my support, and never ending love. Our skin doesn’t match, nor do we have the same blood type. He doesn’t have my eyes, nose or shaped face. He doesn’t have any of my traits either. I’ve only looked at him as extension of my husband. I dedicated myself because they were already given up on once and I wasn’t going to let that happen again.
As I look back while moving forward as a woman, not only was this challenge one of the most emotional I have encountered on my journey, it was one that made me not only a better mother, but a wiser woman.
Been staring at my laptop for over an hour. My mind is in a million places and at the same time, it is here.
I am saddled with responsibilities. I don’t even know I am saddled with them and how they came here, I can’t remember.
I’m lost again in thoughts that I do not own.
My phone rings.
I swear I was just thinking about the caller.
I smile. Could it be mere coincidence or have the stars decided to align in my favor?.
I have no idea where I will begin. Forgive me. This is rather tasking than I imagined.
It’s September already. Who would have thought? How time flies right?
Pardon me still, I know I probably am not making sense I am trying to gather my thoughts.
I am a young Woman -I am young.
A number of people do know my age and I know a million people that would be shocked when they find out my real age. Often times I wonder if I am too much for my person.
To some people, I am old. After all, I am a graduate, I have gone for my NYSC and I currently work. I have the life.
To some I am still a small girl. I will not even explain this.
To be honest, I am in between. I look at myself and I say I am old. I haven’t done as much as I ought to. I haven’t done enough of what I think I should do. Ridiculous right? I know the stares I get from people when we discuss and I begin to tell them the ambitions I have and how so badly I want to achieve them. ‘Will you not marry?’
‘Do you have time for a relationship?’
‘Will you cope?’
Will you find a man at this rate?’
‘What about family?’
‘You work too hard’.
The questions or rather the opinions and suggestions as regards my life are endless. What can I say? I just smile through it all. I humor those I should humor. I shock the ones that bug me too much with my responses. It could get tiring-If I let it but I know some people mean well and well, I don’t know much about the others. I just take it as it comes.
My day begins with checking my phone for mails and messages while I wait on my prayer partner’s call so we can start the day.
I check my messages, reply the mails I can and start some of the tasks.
In between tasks, I’d receive tasks from my boss for the day. Sometimes I skip breakfasts, sometimes I don’t. It all depends. By 11am I’m at work to continue with my deliverables. I get off work by 9pm if there isn’t extra work to be done.
You see, this lifestyle has earned me less friends and more acquaintances? I do not want to say enemies. I do not know if I have them. LoL.
Is it the way I envisioned it? Maybe, maybe not but at some point in my life, I made a decision to accept my being different and chose to travel the road less taken.
I wanted to be a lawyer at some point in my life. A fraction of me thinks I should still go ahead with it. But, I don’t know, it is still a thought. I have wanted to be many things. I still do but somehow writing has always been it for me. It has somehow managed to take centre stage of my life. I mean, I got my second job through writing; after I had sold myself though. I was asked to write a piece and boy did I write! I was offered the job (an entirely different job from what I went in for).
It became clear to me that somehow, I would eventually write for a living (this is me telling y’all that at some point you will buy my books and your kids will probably have my collection of poems on their list of books for their studies).
This is Nigeria, one cannot simply say ‘I will be a writer and blow like that’. You will work. Let’s keep that aside.
You see I have come to realize (you must know that this has come to be one of my favorite phrases by now). I have come to realize that life changes. As we progress, the need for a thing changes. One minute you need to pass common entrance and next thing it’s WAEC. Then again, you are struggling to pass jamb and next thing you are struggling to do your clearance so you can serve and then, all of a sudden your B.A isn’t enough anymore.
The reason you almost took your life. The reason friends laughed at you. the reason your mother sold vegetables. All of a sudden it isn’t enough. You have to do something. You have to take it a notch higher to get to a certain level.
And then in the process of it all, you are reminded; YOU ARE A WOMAN you need to slow down. And for a moment everything comes to a halt. Everything stops. You look around you and you see a continues cycle and you ask yourself, ‘is this what I’ll end up like?’. ‘Is this what it will be?’
I just stopped to dance. Somehow steam has to go.
I really want to make a difference. I don’t have to be popular but just make a difference. You know. All the late nights. All the early mornings. All the no-sleep nights, I somehow want to know that all of these are not in vain. Right?
How am I supposed to do it all? Live a dream, live a life and be what society wants me to be.
Let’s be honest, to an extent we are restricted by some of society’s demand. One can’t really exist without consciousness of these restrictions. These rules. These systems.
I journey through this path called life and although I see what I want somewhere faraway, I often doubt my abilities and my fuel instead my fears. I am allowed to be afraid but at the same time I can’t be.
‘you are a woman, Be strong!’
I feel pain.
Sometimes, I want to scream.
Sometimes I want to quit.
Sometimes I want the world to just for a moment, stop in time while I take it all in.
This headache has refused to leave. My eye bags have refused to deflate. My back has refused to stop to ache but in all of it, in all of the pain, the tears, the pressure, the blood, the sweat, the laughter, the fears, the frustrations, the expectations and the limitations, I’d look back and see how far I have come. You too would look at me with pride. Exactly how I want it or maybe more because if there is one thing I know I sometimes surprise myself. This time, with time, I’d surprise myself too.
Every challenge makes me a better me. I am always work in progress.
The other day, I was with my friends; Bisi, Omote and Tolu. I had seen Grace previously; a couple of days back actually. As we all conversed, I could feel it. I could feel the same uncertainty I always feel. The same fear I know and at the same time, the same promise we all have promised ourselves at various points in our different life journeys.
It’s easy to identify with them, maybe because I know them and then again, because I see me in each of them.
To every woman with a challenge on the road to greatness, know that you are not alone. Void of societal restrictions, we will surpass every expectation. Our names will be remembered. Our stories will be told and even when we leave, we will live because these challenges will make us.
Heck, we are in the making!
I have a report to write and I have to go home too.
A special thank you to The WOMAN everywhere. It is our hope,
that even through the challenges, you are loved. – thepublicblogger
Some Days by IvySoul Robinson written by Kendall F. PersTon
Only in The Neighborhood @ thepublicblogger.com