My mother was a fantastic cook. In fact, I thought everyone ate like we did. Homemade bread, fresh enchiladas, great soups, and Sundays feast for family and friends were always part of the menu. Pineapple cakes where half had coconut and the other half did not were also available to suit individual’s personal preferences. On the weekends, there would be mornings where my mother would ask us what we wanted for breakfast and she may get five different request. Yet, all our wishes were there when we sat down at the table. You talk about happy kids.

Homemade food, made from love. In my mind, I can still smell the bread in the oven. I am so glad that memories are forever.

“We do not remember days; we remember moments.”
– Cesare Pavese

If you have a pet, preferably a dog and someone else walks him or her, you may want to make this your exercise time.

Getting outside and walking around the neighborhood or park can be a very enjoyable time, and if you have the excuse of exercising your pet, you will have a reason to MOVE.

If you don’t have a pet, maybe you know someone who does and would love it if you offered to walk them sometimes.

It could be fun.

With a smile on my face, I watched my brother with his two children. He held “Little Reggie” in his arms while Nicole tugged at his shirt and said “daddy, put Reggie down and pick me up…it’s my turn.” I laughed as he accommodated both of his children and made them both feel cherished in that moment. Little did he know that they would recall that moment fifteen years later as a special time with dad.

The simplicity of things done in love with those we love can linger on forever.  “He Smelled So Good” an excerpt from “Sometimes He Buys Me Grapes,” is a memory of special moments I spent with my own father. Perhaps it may spark a memory of your special moment that forever lives with you.

I was probably around 6 or 7 years old when I first realized that men could smell delightful. I have never forgotten that spicy cinnamon fragrance that came out of that oddly shaped bottle of after shave my father would use after he shaved the stubble that had grown on his face overnight.

How I looked forward to catching daddy in the act of shaving. I considered it our special bonding time and I did my best to be a part of his ritual as often I as I could.

Whenever I would see him heading toward the bathroom with his shaving gear, which he kept safely out of reach of his curious children, I would dash in the bathroom and stand by his side and ask could I watch him shave. I’d promise I would be quiet and not talk a lot…which he always chuckled at, and would then say ok “baby girl.” We both knew that I was lying.

As the ritual began, I would immediately ask, if I could dip the shaving brush into the fluffy white foam in the cup. When he said yes, as he often did, I would stir the shaving cream round and round and then scoop some of the foam on my hands as I handed daddy his shaving brush. I would play with this foamy shaving cream while watching daddy’s stubbly hairy face become baby soft smooth. I often asked to feel his face before he shaved and then after he shaved, and then began chattering about the noticeable difference, and how it felt to my fingers.

This primary activity was fun to watch and I was a great “helper.” But for me, the best part was after he shaved. Daddy would reach for that oddly shaped bottle with his left hand, and twist the cap off of the bottle with his right hand. Then, he would place the cap on the side of the sink, and simultaneously transfer the bottle into his right hand and turn it slightly upside down and sprinkle some of the liquid in the bottle into his left hand. He would then put the bottle down on the sink and slightly rub his hands together. He would then open his hands up and gently pat the liquid that was on his hands onto his face.

I would be giggling with delight during this ritual, partly because daddy made it fun for me but the spicy scent that emerged from that bottle, smelled so good. I would often blurt out, “daddy, you smell so good!!!”

Little did my father know that those times would be “special moments” in my life? It evokes all the things I thought were good in a man (my dad) at that time. He was strong, kind, funny, playful, stern, dedicated and at times a strict disciplinarian. There was never any doubt that he loved his  wife and kids.

So now, whenever my senses get a whiff that is similar to that “unnamed aftershave,” I cannot help but remember sharing special moments that are now a memory of  a loving man that was my father. I also remember that he smelled so good.

As your mother, each time I look at you I see nothing but love. You have been the best gift I have ever received. I call you a gift but in reality, I was given the privilege to nurture you and protect you. I was given charge to direct you during your formative years, so that you may find your destiny and know that it is yours.

I have learned to parent through trial and error. Your showing up in this world took that selfish person I was and made me selfless in many respects. It was amazing how all of a sudden, even before you were born, I started to portray this “motherly” instinct that made me want to protect you 24/7. Your future became a concern immediately, and all I can say is yes, I have made many mistakes, but I always did the best that I could at any particular time.

Today, the gift I give to you freely is validation from me of who you are, as a man. You are a good man.

Even though you are still young and finding your place in the world, I am very proud of what I see. As you go forward, I will continue to fight for your future and protect you in ways that all mothers do for their children. But of course it will look very different, because now you are a young man and not a child. I will not run to pick you up and “fix” things every time you fall. I will be standing on the sidelines cheering you on, often quietly, as you step closer toward assuming the responsibilities that come with manhood.

I smile when I think about the things you are. You are kind, you are thoughtful and you are smart. There is no one else like you. I admire how you are flexible enough to consider that you don’t know all the things you think you know. More than that, you are respectful to me, your mother and to others, and you love God.

Every child is born through a woman. You must remember that as a man. A woman presented you to the world. You will be that present to some woman one day, and she will be your cherished gift who you will honor. Who knows, one day, your woman may present you with a gift of life from your seed, because every child is born of a woman.

Before that time, I must share some things with you so that you can show up as the man she deserves.

It is easier for a woman to love a man who loves her well. My son, I want you to love her well so that she will be unable to do anything but love you back.

Remember these things:

  • Having male parts does not make you a man. It makes you male.
  • A real man understands that when he shows love to the woman from whom his seed has sprung, all will be well.
  • Providing the seed that impregnates a woman does not make you a man. A real man cultivates that seed every step of the way during the growth of the life that has come into being. You have to always show up.
  • A real man understands hearing the word daddy, is one of the greatest gifts and sweetest songs he will ever hear.
  • A real man can be vulnerable when it comes to showing his dedication and devotion for those he loves and has been given responsibility for.

A real man will come to understand that his woman needs intimacy, which is not always sex. 

  • A real man figures out how to communicate with his mate whom he sometimes has to admit he does not understand. Keep trying, the benefits will be so rewarding.
  • A real man fosters a strong sense of security with his mate and the rest of the family.
  • A real man takes responsibility for those things around him, without having to always be in control.
  • There will be times when you will not feel strong, but your woman will then be there for you and will not let anything hurt you, if she has no doubt that you love her, as your cherished woman.

With everything I have said, up to this point you must never forget that a real man is a whole human being before and during his relationship.

It is important to enjoy your hobbies, spend time with friends who only want the best for you, and enjoy plenty of good food. This you must hold on to because when you are happy, happiness will follow you were ever you go.

All of this may seem like a tall order, but it really is not. It will enhance your ability to love. 

You are a good man.

I love you, be safe, stay strong, 

Mom

When I reflect back on my high school years I cannot do so without talking about the loves in my life at that time. All the loves that I never had. I probably could have had a real love in high school but my parents ruled that out before I ever it made it to the 9th grade. They told me they wanted me to enjoy my youth and I could not have a boyfriend or be involved in a “serious” relationship until I was 18 years old. That meant I would be out of high school because I would be 17 when I graduated. As much as that “rule” dismayed me, I believed them.

That left me observing some of my girlfriends and other girls with boyfriends. I sometimes felt as if I was missing something and at other times I was grateful that I did not have to worry myself about having a boyfriend. As I studied the seemingly happy high school relationships, I noticed that most of them, often within days of starting, would turn sour and someone would be feeling blue. In my high school days, one hot topic of conversation in the hallways would be who broke up with who. I thank my parents now that I was spared from being the primary subject in conversations like that.

That of course, did not stop me from day dreaming about the guys I thought were cute. I would even imagine that when I turned 18 they would be waiting for me. (Don’t judge me, I was a romantic then as I am now.)

One of the guys I really liked off and on throughout high school was Harry P. I thought he was the cat’s meow. He played basketball, he was nice, he was taller than me, he was a year older than me and I thought he was cute. I tried my best to pass him at least once a day in the hall so we could say hi and smile at each other. Whoa…fly me to the moon!

What made me share this with you, is I found him on Facebook not too long ago and sent a friend request. He accepted. This long lost connection allowed me to reminisce about the carefree days of high school. School dances, pep rallies, football games, basketball games, running track and hanging out on “the hill” after school until the bus came. Good times, no sad times of me crying about whether some guy liked me or not. 

I laugh now when I remember complaining to my mother that every other girl could have a boyfriend, so why couldn’t I. She just looked at me and said “I am not responsible for every other girl; I am responsible for you. You can have friends who are boys, but you cannot have a boyfriend. That is a burden you don’t need right now.”  End of conversation.

There was only one time this rule was challenged. Jay, who really liked me, and yes, I thought he was cute, showed up at my house unannounced, when my parents were not home to tell me I was going to be his girlfriend. I was flattered.  Yes, we had smiled at each other often, and he had walked me to a few of my classes, but this was serious. I was thrilled that he was brave enough to show up at my house knowing that my dad might kill him…which was the belief in school. My father was a Sheriff and the rumor was “don’t mess with Regina because her daddy doesn’t play when it comes to his girls.” My three brothers, who also served as unpaid bodyguards, were more than happy to inform my parents that “we had a situation brewing.” When my father came home, my reality kicked in and I got scared. I could see the fire in my daddy’s eyes and the smoke coming out if his ears as he walked in the front door of the house. He stopped, he looked at us sitting on the couch in the living room, introduced himself chatted for few minutes and then left the room. Daddy was polite but he was not happy. My mother graciously introduced herself, chatted with Jay and told him as nice as he was I was not going to be his girlfriend, unless he was willing to wait until I was 18 years old. At that time, I could do and see anyone I choose.  She also told Jay that the next time he wanted to visit, he needed to call first and make sure it was convenient for all of us. Then she left us in the room. 

Once I got over my embarrassment, I knew that I had to handle this situation myself. I knew what the rules were and my parents expected me to abide by them and enforce them, whether I thought they were fair or not. They trusted me to do the right thing. 

I told Jay we could only be friends and we could consider going steady when I turned 18. He left shortly after that, and then my parents and I had a conversation about when it was appropriate to have young men who specifically came to see me in our house. They gave me new guidelines for behavior that were a tad more liberal. This allowed me to understand that they did not want me not to feel I was missing out on something, but I was able to enjoy something very precious. I loved the way mom and dad protected me while teaching me to make good decisions. 

Because I was young and naive and had no idea of what commitment really meant, I realize now why waiting was such a good idea. I, while in my teen years, fell in and out of “love” as easily as I breathe air.  To think how many guys, I might have dated is scary…there were so many guys I had crushes on. There was Harry, Ed, Eddie, Robert, Jake, Donald, Larry, Gary, Grant and Michael. Those are just the ones I remember.

What I do remember is having the time of my life. Unencumbered with much to worry about except girly things like what I wore, having friends, going to dances (I loved to dance and still do) and dreaming about a life that I could have when I grew older and moved out of my parents’ house.

I am forever thankful to my parents for laying down the law and telling me to just be patient and enjoy being young and carefree. They told me that one day I would look back and cherish the purity and simplicity of life at that time. They convinced me to trust that love would find me although it might also leave me, but when I was older I would be better equipped to handle the ups and downs of a relationship. They were so right.

For me, Juneteenth is the beginning of the celebration of Freedom for all Americans.  July 4 is the culmination of the beginnings of freedom for a nation. July 4, 1776 is the when the Declaration of Independence was adopted. In this declaration is a promise of liberty and equality that was unfilled for some until Juneteenth, the commemorative ending of slavery in the United States of America.

Many don’t understand the significance of it, and I myself did not always understand why it was and should be important to all Americans.

This great country was built on the premise and promise of liberty and equality to all. That desire and drive for freedom is what preceded the American Revolutionary War where we fought Great Britain for the Independence of our county which we treasure. No longer wanting to be oppressed by Great Britain, many were willing to fight for the promise of freedom.

The first man to die for this freedom which led to the American Revolutionary War was Crispus Attucks, a free black man during the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770. Amazingly, when I was in grade school in Texas I never heard of him. Nor had I heard the name Peter Salem or Salem Poor. Free black men who chose to fight for the freedom of all with the hopes that liberty and equality that was lacking while being under the rule of the British would be a given to all who claimed America as their home. These two men played significant roles in securing our freedom, yet I never heard mention of them until I was in college. They and many others are a part of our American history.

In July of 1852, seventy-five years after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist, orator and writer, reminded many of the truth of our freedom. Many blacks were still suffering under the oppression of slavery. They were in bondage and they had no liberty nor the equality that was promised in the Declaration of Independence. The celebration of Independence which was fought for was not a reality to all who claimed America as their home, even though both black and white men often fought side by side for the promise of this freedom.

On January 1st, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln declared the Emancipation Proclamation (it was issued on September 22, 1862.) The Emancipation Proclamation was an order to free slaves in all of the United States that was not under control of the union. This in itself changed the focus of the Civil war from being a war to preserve the union, but one that also freed the slaves.

Juneteenth, or June 19th, 1865 was when the announcement was made in Texas that all remaining slaves were free.

I remember the day I asked my mother about Juneteenth because I did not understand why we were celebrating. Although I always love a celebration, I wanted to know what was behind the festivities and happiness I witnessed in my elders. My mother said this was the beginning of the time where all American’s could hope to realize the freedoms and promises for which the United States is built on.  

Change is often slow. It’s uncomfortable and sometimes inconvenient until we, the people become accustomed to the new ways to incorporate the change into our lives. We have to remember why the American Revolutionary War was so important…the people wanted to be relieved of oppressions that denied freedom in this country. Freedom is never free, but it is worth it to all Americans.

June 19, which happened to fall on Father’s Day this year, should be the beginning of a time when we all take some time to celebrate the glorious strength and gift of our Independence as united nation. It leads up to the culmination of our celebration of the red, white and blue on OUR national holiday July 4th.

Happy 4th of July to you.

Everybody wants a girlfriend. Men want one and women absolutely, positively have to have at least one. It is something that women need. They must make it a priority. The benefits of having a girlfriend are plentiful.

I believe that women share a special bond with the all the women in their lives. It may be your mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, cousin, neighbor or that best friend that is referred to as your girlfriend. This is a woman who knows you like no other.

There is much truth to the following quote:

“A girlfriend is probably the only person in this world, who understands exactly what you are saying even though you may not really be talking.” – Anonymous

I have friendships that intuitively can pick up where I am and hone into what I am going through, just by the sound of my voice over the phone. Because they are female, they are able to do that magical thing that women can do that make us empathetic and available to those we care about, at any time without any warning.

Of the many things I cherish in life, one that is high on the list is my relationships with my girlfriends. Nothing compares to the closeness of being who I am with people who accept me all the time as I am. That is not to say that my girlfriend (or girlfriends) will not give me a piece of her mind when warranted, because she does…they all do even when it hurts. I also must share that we do have disagreements, some major, but it does not have any negative impact on our relationship.

I find that our differences and the ability to discuss them without reservation helps us grow as individuals. There is something quite empowering about being able to question myself and what I believe and why I believe it without ridicule due to the respect we have for each other.

All I know is that I am happier because I have girlfriends.

It is a proven fact that the relationships you have with your girlfriends are as important to an individual’s mental health as exercise is for one’s physical health.

A landmark study from UCLA led by Dr. Shelly Taylor found that women tend to garner relief through caregiving and connecting with friends when they are stressed. The emotional soothing one gets when they are with a girlfriend reduces stress and enhances relaxation.

The study also states that women who have strong social connections with their girlfriends enjoy better health and live a longer life. Everyone needs a girlfriend; it’s a scientific fact.

When one considers the longevity issue that we all face, we can see how important our relationships with girlfriends can be. It has been proven that married men live longer than single men, yet women who marry have the same life expectancy as those who don’t. However, women with strong female social ties (girlfriends) live longer than those without them.

Amazing isn’t it? Many women feel better about themselves because of their relationship with female friends. Who else are you “really” going to trust to tell you how you look in that outfit? Sometimes you wished you had not even asked her, because she was more than happy to tell you what she thought…and it was not the answer you wanted to hear. No validation on the outfit. Oh well.

Studies have also shown that time spent with girlfriends helps emit the “feel good” hormone oxytocin, which help reduce everyday stress. Our social ties to women make us healthier individuals, physically and mentally.

Due to the busy lives that we live in this fast paced world, friendships are waning. This is not good. We must take time to develop and nurture the relationship with our girlfriends.

There are things we can do to stay connected, even when we are busy. Send a card, an e-mail, skype. If distance is not an issue make it a point to see her just to give her a hug, if nothing else. It will fill a void that both of you have.

Just recently, I sent a friend a picture we took over 30 years ago. We had fun looking at the picture and discussing how we have changed over the years…gracefully I might add. It gave us a good laugh and rekindled some fond memories from “back in the day.” I am blessed to know that we still consider ourselves girlfriends after all these years.

When was the last time you hung out with your girlfriend? I bet she will be thrilled to hear from you.

Yes, a girlfriend can provide heartfelt love and acceptance like no one else. That is why everybody wants girlfriend.

My introduction to computer technology was on a PC where Windows was the operating system. I have been devoted to the Windows operating system for over 25 years, but my love was challenged with Windows 8. I hated it. It almost caused me to jump ship to you know who. To understand the turmoil I felt when Windows 8 caused the “rift” between me and Microsoft, I must share some of my computer history as consumer with you.

Purchasing my first computer was a big deal. After pondering for weeks over how powerful my computer needed to be, I decided to go with the top of line, which was the IBM System 20. It was the best of the best. This powerful machine came with an unbelievable amount of memory at that time, 20 megabytes. I thought with that much memory, I would never have to buy another computer in my lifetime. Much to my surprise before the year was out, they had bigger and better computers with as much as 30 megabytes of memory.

Before the transaction was completed for the purchase of my new computer, I was informed that software was needed to make the computer work. I found that shocking. I thought all I had to do was plug it in and flip a switch, and I would be in business. I explained to the sales rep that all wanted to do was use the word processor I had heard about. I was sure the computer should be able to do that considering the cost. I then found out that I needed to purchase software to load on the computer that was preloaded with the operating system. It was confusing, but that moment marked the beginning of my lifelong love affair with the Microsoft operating system. Without it, you do not have a functioning computer. Just a frame with no brain.

Microsoft DOS was my first love. Patiently, I learned the essential duties I would need to perform to enhance our relationship, such as how to turn the computer on and off. I even took a class to learn a few more advanced basic functions to cement our relationship. I would get excited when I would flip the switch, hear the hum, then this black screen would appear with a flashing white dot. Then, the flashing white dot would turn into a line that read MS-DOS. I would then know that the system was ready for use. I could write my papers. After all, that was the only need I had for a computer at that time. Never being great at typing, it was a savings grace for the necessary papers I had to churn out in college and for my job. I happily said good-bye to my type writer and the endless bottles of white out I was heavily invested in.

Eventually, I upgraded to Windows 3 operating system so I could play games like “Solitaire” and “Minesweeper.” Then some of my computer savvy friends began talking about this “web thing” called the “internet.” They said you could use your computer to search for all kinds of data. All you had to do was type in the right information in the “search engine.” I had no idea what they were talking about but I wanted to be part of this experience. In order to do this, I had to upgrade to the newest operating system, Microsoft 95. I thought had died and gone to heaven when I began to understand how my original need for a better way to type papers had delivered me to information galore at my finger tips. Thank-you Microsoft. Over the years I upgraded again, and again, and again. I was always happy with the experience, especially Windows 7…I loved it.

Then the bomb fell. In 2012 got a new laptop computer and it came preloaded with Windows 8. I had always been loyal to Microsoft products, but Windows 8 put my loyalty to the test. In my opinion Windows 8 really sucked. I’m “old school” and I like using my keyboard and my built in mouse to do everything I need to do on my computer. My screen was not a touch screen, and Windows 8 was not developed for the “old school” use that I possess.

Unless you have a touch screen, it is not user friendly. Trying to place the cursor in the right spot just to open a program was a pain. I never figured out how to close all the reader pages. I would also get super annoyed to find that strange sites would just pop up on their own without my consent. It truly hampered my productivity. Many times my attempts to use Windows 8 pushed me way past the point of tears. I was so angry. I wondered why the powers that be would even put this operating system on a computer that did not have a touch screen. I wrote Lenovo, the maker of my computer an email to tell them that they were doing their customers a disservice by having Windows 8 as the only alternative operating service for those who were “old school” like me. Give me back Windows 7.

Yes, I ranted and raved. I wanted Windows 7, or even Windows XP back. During this regretful time, I was forced to learn to use a “Mac.” Never had I considered doing so until then. Transition is never easy and adjusting to a new operating system caused me to consider other alternatives that would fit for me. I, like many many other people have come to depend on my computer for daily tasks, and this means it needs to be easy and functional to work on. After all, we, the computer and I, spend so much time together.

I said it earlier and I will say it again. I hate Windows 8. I am not alone in my dislike for Windows 8. I have yet to hear anyone say they liked Windows 8. But that is not a problem for me anymore. Microsoft got the message. A few months ago I upgraded to Windows 10 and I am happy with them again. The love affair with Microsoft is back on track.

No woman is truly prepared for how great her life will be when she turns 50. No matter what her life is like, there are some undeniable changes that happen within the life and soul of every woman. During this period, women tend to have the confidence to accept themselves for who they are. This is the time she begins to announce, “This is who I am…deal with it. No apologies and no excuses.”

As Audrey Hepburn said, “The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode, but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.”

It is evident that some of the finest things in life take time to reach their peak. This includes diamonds, Cognac and most of all–you.

Women were born with the ability to serve as a vessel and bring life into the world. Women impact and influence the men in their life. Women care for children and nurture the people that they love. Women inspire men to reach their potential, which gives them the drive to lead. A woman’s smile makes the house warm and inviting. In fact, a woman’s touch makes love live on forever.

It can be said that a seasoned, aged woman also has wisdom. This can only be realized with time and experience. Now that her children are venturing off to discover their own greatness, she has time to explore different possibilities. In fact, she has her own “free time” now. She is no longer a mere ornament, but a luminous bulb that gives life to everyone around her.

As a woman of 50 you have just begun to hit your stride and your peak. You will remain special and memorable to all who really know you, but you will continue to feed the world with more intention, as only a woman 50 and beyond does.

Confucius said, “Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it.”

That is okay. Not everybody gets it. At 50 we understand that not everyone will. Therefore, keep moving because women of 50 and beyond have things to do.

The worries about the wrinkles, the fat, and the gray hair are all small stuff. Let’s keep it in perspective. As women, we get caught up in “that stuff’ sometimes. We must understand that we have earned every curve that we have now. When you see a woman who is 50, she has become a masterpiece because there is a story that goes with what you see. Sometimes the story will bring tears to your eyes and laughter to your heart, but this woman continues to live. She continues to be divine and special no matter what her station is in life. Women who are 50 and beyond will continue to show the world how to go about living life and loving right. Again, she makes no apologies or excuses for it.

There is no way around it, but there will be aches and pains. However, there will also be the chance to improve the quality of your life and the ability to make wiser choices. After all, who does not want a boost in the happiness sector of their life? Love will be better. Sex will be better. You will be better, because it is time for women who are 50 and beyond to listen to the music that is playing in their head and begin to sing that song that no one else knows. If they do not hear it, don’t worry, it is their loss. What is important is that you hear it and sing until your heart is content.

We will never again be who we were, but we can always be who we want to be.