I’ve been struggling to write this blog post for months. Five months to be exact. At first, I thought, “well, maybe I should give up blogging. I mean, it’s not like anyone reads it anyway.” So every time I had an idea or a thought about the blog I would file it away into the “I don’t do that anymore” column and move on.
But the thing is, I could never really ever move on. Inspiration would hit me in the most random places, like in the middle of a meeting at work, or while watching tv with my son. Ideas would flow freely into my head…until one day it stopped.
At first was a welcomed reprieve. I could focus on the wedding, focus on my family, focus on healing from all the major life changes I’ve experienced in the past year. I was able to shelve the inspiration for the blog and use that energy and mental space elsewhere. I was able to help friends with their endeavors, plan our wedding, be supermom, and be a productive 9-5 employee. It was nice.
Then I noticed a little nagging feeling in my stomach, first just an annoyance, but then it quickly grew into something I could not ignore. I married the love of my life, had a 7-day honeymoon in Mexico, and have begun to “build the life I desire”. – Except I wasn’t. Something was missing.
I missed creating. I wanted to create. But I was frustrated.
I had these desires, but no direction, no ideas. Then while chatting with a friend, it hit me. My life is in transition and I am having to figure out who I am all over again. And instead of fighting it, I’ve decided to write through the process. My life is changing, my interest and beliefs are evolving, and I’m (finally) excited about it!
I am ready to share more of my ever-evolving interests, my thoughts, and all my new adventures as Mrs. Hayes.
*Disclaimer, this post has some strong language. If you are easily offended, please stop reading now. These are my rawest thoughts and I make no apologies for them.*
My mom passed away. 4:00 AM on Friday, April 28th.
My entire world has shattered. This is nothing like I had ever felt before. I thought that I had experienced the deepest loss possible when my grandmother passed. But this, this has shaken me to my core. Everything comfortable, everything I thought was true, right, the very foundation from which my entire life has been built…gone.
So, I have spent the past 162 days asking myself “what in the entire f*ck? How am I supposed to continue? F*ck you mean, it will get easier?”
Mama and I shared a bond that was both intense and indifferent. We both are Cancers and we love hard, we are nurturing and caring, but please stay on our good side. God help you if you don’t.
I am my mother’s eldest child. The one that snapped her into adulthood. Her first miracle, you see, my mother was told she wouldn’t be able to have children, yet here I was the “little red rat” (thanks, Granddaddy). In some ways, mama and I grew up together. She was young and in the military, so my Grandmother had a huge hand in helping raise me.
As I grew older and eventually had my son, our relationship began to evolve from mother/daughter to friends. We would hang out, we acted up, she fussed as I rolled my eyes, I tried to be the boss and she brushed me off. Life was good.
Then she started feeling bad, the random symptoms started. Then the diagnosis. F*cking cancer. Again.
Mama took it like a “G”. She was like “Oh, I beat it once, I’m good. They caught it early.” And to be honest, I was nervous but she was so positive, and from all accounts, she was good, so I was like “cool, we got this. It’s going to be a journey, but it’s nothing we can’t handle.”
That was December 27, 2017. 3 days after my fiance proposed. 3 days after she saw some of her prayers come to fruition. She longed for Langston to have the stability of both of his parents, for him to have the proper family that he deserved. She and Brian had planned the engagement for months, lots of texts and phone calls, right down to her buying me a new dress and shoes for the party.
She fought up until her last breath. She went through her treatments, the appointments, the hospital stays, all with a smile on her face. She made sure the nursing staff was comfortable, she wrote kudos notes, gave out Christian books, told jokes, all while going through her own battle. She took care of my sister and I from the hospital bed, giving words of encouragement, threatening to ‘come up to that job’ because ‘they don’t mess with her baby’ (my sister). She let everyone know that would listen that we were her girls and she was proud of us.
So when it was time for her to go, my sister and I were okay. She’d shown us faith and strength beyond anything we had ever seen and we wanted her to rest. She had given us all that she could and now it was time for us take all the love and knowledge she instilled in us and live our best lives.
As much as we are comforted knowing that she’s with Grandma and her twin sister we are wrecked with the aftermath of her love leaving us. That is the thing about losing someone so close to you to illness, you are so happy that they aren’t sick and suffering anymore, but you selfishly wish they were still here.
So, 168 days later, I am still processing, still putting myself back together. There are days that I feel renewed and look at things with fresh eyes, thinking about all the ways I can honor my mother’s life while I am still here. Then there are days when the grief is so overwhelming that it is a struggle to go about a “normal” day.
Thankfully, the good days are starting to outweigh the bad, and I can finally, honestly, say that I believe the best is yet to come. And I will spend the rest of my time here on earth, honoring my mother through LIVING.
At the beginning of this year, I hosted a vision board party and at this party I chose a word that would be my “word of the year.” Now before you roll your eyes at me, hear me out. The word I chose for myself was intentional.
Intentional: inˈten(t)SH(ə)n(ə)l/ adjective, done on purpose; deliberate.
I wanted to stop letting life just happen, I wanted to be intentional with my decision making and truly design the life I desired.
One area that I have been focusing on the past few months has been my taking the time to have intentional friendships. I want to always be the friend that I wish I had and I know in order to do this then I have to make intentional decisions to make sure I am nurturing my friendships. Because I’ve noticed that the older I get and the more responsibilities I get (read: Langston’s social calendar), the harder it is to keep up with my friends. And I want to make sure that I am surrounding myself with women that are going to help me grow and enjoy life, not just women that are in close proximity to my day to day life.
Here are some of the ways that I am intentional about nurturing my friendships:
•If that person crosses my mind or I realize that I haven’t talked to them in a while, then I immediately reach out. – This can be via phone call, text, or email. I check in and let them know that they were on my mind and if they are local, I try to set up a time to see them face to face.
•I do my best to support them and/or their projects. – I have some pretty creative girlfriends so any time they are working on project I do my best to like, share, comment, DONATE and/or attend. So while I am here, it’s great to like and comment on your friends’ social media posts, but if they provide a service or product, and you were going to spend the coins anyway…GIVE THE COINS TO YOUR FRIEND!
•I invite them places. – Now this may seem a like a no brainer, but if you want to SEE someone, tell them. They can’t read your mind. You HAVE to reach out. And who cares if “you always have to call first”, if you are the extroverted friend, then guess what, you have to call first. Period.
Now, my friends will tell you, I am by no means perfect at this, I fall short, I miss things, I forget to text back (hush, Shuana!), but I make a conscious effort. Intentional friendships are the cornerstone to my adult life…I don’t know what I would do without you guys!
Here’s to more girls’ trips, living room dance parties, and brunch!
p.s. Another way that I nurture my friendships is I share all the great gems I find online. It could be an IG account that’s popping, a new blog or my newest podcast obsession like this one. Want in on the party? Join my email list and you’re in!
Since we are best friends now, I have to tell you a secret. I have an insane girl crush. Like it’s an, “I think I love her” type of crush.
My boyfriend doesn’t understand it. He just didn’t understand why I insist on seeing her again and again. He just took me to see her this past December in Charleston and I was geeked about seeing her again. The only response I could give him was “She’s Jill Scott. I have to see her.” End of story.
My best friend and I went to see her at the Township Auditorium last week and it was 3 full hours of pure, black WOMAN magic. She was introduced by a powerful spoken word artist named Georgia Me, who started the night by making us laugh, then empowering us to accept the bodies we were given and to learn to speak to the king within our black men.
Then Jill hit the stage. Jill graced us with her sultry voice, her amazing band, her witty sense of humor, her MAGIC. We went from fun girls night songs, to sexy love songs, and we hit everything in between. The concert ended with an amazing display of musical talent by her band and backup singer that ushered you right into a beautiful state of euphoria.
Once I came down from my high, I had an epiphany. Yes, I love Jill, but what I REALLY love is the way she affirms my womanhood. She tells me I can be a strong boss chick, soft and sexy for my man, that fun, goofy girlfriend and a doting mother.
Here are 4 excerpts from her music that has solidified what I know to be true as a 31-year-old WOMAN:
“Maybe you don’t recognize what you got between your eyes (well), So I’m gonna set you correct so you can get what you should get (well), Intuition’s something sweet (well), Let you know what you know, let you find before you seek (well), Spirit of discernment, pray for it every day (well), Let you know who should go and who you should let stay (well)” – Rolling Hills, The Light of the Sun
Trust your instincts. – Now I know you thinking, “Duh, Shanetra”, but I don’t know how many personal fires I’ve had to put out because I went against my gut feeling. Or how many uncomfortable situations I’ve been in this week because I decided to either go along with the group or with the societal norm. –So now, no matter the situation, if it doesn’t “sit well with me” then I’m not doing it nor am I letting it into my space.
“I’m taking my freedom, Pulling it off the shelf, Putting it on my chain, Wear it around my neck, I’m taking my freedom, Putting it in my car, Wherever I choose to go, It will take me far…” – Golden, Beautifully Human: Words And Sounds Vol.
2. My life. My rules. – Now, I would be lying to you if I told you that I have completely mastered this concept. I realize that this is a part of my journey and I am more conscious about questioning myself about everything. Daily I am gaining more clarification about who I am, and I am designing my life around those truths, no one else’s.
“If I can find in all this, A dozen roses, Which I would give to you, You’d still be miserable, In reality, I’m gon be who I be, And I don’t feel no faults” – Hate on Me, Beautifully Human: Words And Sounds Vol. 3
3. It’s okay to outgrow things. And other people. – To know me is to know that I LOVE people. I am that person you probably don’t want to sit next to on the plane. Because unless I am sleeping myself, I am talking to you. I love genuine connections and learning more about people’s story. So I tend to make a friend wherever I go. However, in recent years, I haven’t been able to maintain some relationships. And though it breaks my heart, I have had to understand that it’s okay. It doesn’t mean that there is any love lost, it just means you and the other person were growing in different directions.
“This is the last take for the night, Understand it’s kinda late, And I gotta get home to my son, ‘Cause he’s so special to me, I mean I gotta see him, I need to breathe him, That’s my baby, don’t call me crazy, I love the studio but I love him more” – Blessed, The Light of the Sun
4. Being a mother is truly my life’s joy. And I now realize, I can’t allow motherhood to become another self-imposed limitation to the rest of my life. –I adore being my son’s mother. I would not trade a single moment of this journey for any amount of money in the world. But the older he gets and the further I get on my personal journey, the more I realize that I’ve allowed “being someone’s mother” stunt my growth in other areas. Now if you ask any of your mommy friends she will tell you that “mommy guilt” is a paralyzing condition, one that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. But the message that is constantly being stressed to me is to make sure that I “put my mask on first.” I can’t be a great mother to Langston if I am unfulfilled, or tired, or empty. I can’t boast that I am raising my son in a “happy, two-parent home” if I don’t take the time to be his father’s girlfriend, not co-parent. I will have to miss things, Grandma and Gigi may have to fill in for me, and that’s okay. I have to make sure that I am not trying to pour from an empty cup. He deserves it. I deserve it.
At the end of the concert, she emphasized the importance of appreciating real music. She said the instrument itself is an inanimateobject without the soul of the person behind it. Music connects us, it sparks something in our souls.
I could go on and on about soulful music that speaks to me, but it’s your turn. Who is your favorite artist? Why?
Share some links below!
P.s. I also have a new obsession with Indie artists…who else should I be listening to?
So let’s get right to it, I know you are thinking, weren’t you just doing something called Breakfast Board? What happened to that? What you got going on, girl?
Let’s start from the beginning, I jumped into the blogsphere head first with my blog Breakfast Board, and my intention with Breakfast Board was to “create a place where you and I can get together and talk about life’s journey and leave the conversation a little better than when we started.” And though, that is still a focus of Shanetra D, it isn’t the only focus.I realized (the hard way) that I was forcing myself into a yet another self-limiting box.
Yes, I absolutely love relationship building and seeing the spark in someone’s eye when they start to talk about their “thing.” And I love getting together with my girlfriends to talk and hang out. But the truth is, I don’t see them as much as I would like to, and as much as I like to have meaningful conversations, I equally love foolery and shenanigans. So when I was brainstorming ideas for Breakfast Board, I realized that I needed to expand my brand to encompass all of the different aspects of me.
The other day, my friend and I were having a conversation and she stated that she had had an epiphany, she realized “she was multidimensional” and she accepted that it was okay. She went on to explain what she meant by that, and the more she talked the more clarity I got about Shanetra D.
I am multidimensional! So WHY wouldn’t my blog be? Why did I think that I could squeeze myself into any box?
I love deep, thought-provoking conversations AND quoting rap songs as I deem appropriate.
I buy organic food for my family BUT sometimes I crave a country breakfast from Lizard’s Thicket.
I have a playlist with Jill Scott, Kevin Gates, Travis Greene, John Coltrane, Beyonce, Joss Stone AND Hillsong United.
And. That’s. Okay.
All of these things make me who I am. And the more I live and learn about Shanetra D, the more I love her.
So I am inviting you along on this journey. We may have to grab our shovels and dig deep but I promise it won’t all be that way. We will have fun. Lots of it.