The Lessons of Friendship August 17, 2009
I love getting older. It seems that with each passing day I realize that I have learned a new lesson or gained new appreciation for something previously neglected. Lately I’ve been thinking alot about my friends and how they have become family to me. My best friend and I have known one another for more than 20 years now and I know that whenever the chips are down I can count on her. My other closest friend has only come into my life in the last four years but I know beyond a doubt that whatever I need I can count on her as well. Her family has become my family and the love that they have for one another, I am now thankful enough to have had them share it with me.
For those of you who have traveled the road of broken friendships, you know that true friends are rare to find and when you do find them, you have to learn the keys to good friendship as well. I’m learning to rewrite the definition of family. Do any of you have friends that are more reliable than your own family? I’m thankful enough to say I do. I have friends who have traveled with me to other countries to hold my hand and friends who have stayed up with me and cried with me when they should have been sleeping. I’m thankful that my backdrop of friends come from every walk of life and every ethnic background imaginable. Not everyone can be labeled a friend but for my lovely bunch, they are more than friends-they’ve become family.
As I get older, I’m grateful that I am no longer afraid to let go of “friendships” that don’t work for either of us. I recently had to do this to a person that I realized had been sucking the life out of me for years and finally I wasn’t afraid to tell her this. I began to notice that whenever I saw her number pop up on my phone that I either rolled my eyes and sucked in my breath before answering or I wouldn’t answer if I couldn’t deal with her latest drama filled antics. The friendship may have worked for me 7 years ago but no longer did we fit. The conversation was awkard and always framed around the soap opera she calls life. After coming back from the trip to Gatlinburg I knew it was time to cut her loose and I did with a dose of honesty that we both deserved.
M doesn’t have friends, nor does he want them..this according to him. I wonder how he goes through this life without having a meaningful friendship. When I asked him about it tonight, he said ‘I’m just very choosey when it comes to the people I want as a friend.’ Apparently, no one has passed M’s rigorous test of friendship thus far. I try not to pressure him and thankfully my uncles do ask him over to watch football games sometimes during the fall.
This year I’m learning to back off from work a bit and nurture my friendships with those women and men who have really shown themselves to be meaningful. How do you nurture your friendships? I’d love to hear how you do.. until the next blog lovelies…
Standing in God’s Grace August 4, 2009
I’ve always considered myself to be a spiritual person and in the last week I’ve experienced God’s presence in major ways that I had not before. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I was going to Gatlinburg to celebrate my 35th birthday with friends and family. The plan was to zipline, go whitewater rafting and enjoy the presence of my friends. For the most part, the plan was followed but we opted not to go ziplining for several reasons, the main one being the fact that I almost drowned after being pitched out of a raft on a class IV rapid. Let me explain.
Off I trekked with two of my friend and their families along with my family to the beautiful Smokies that you see above. My family and I enjoyed a day of tubing on Friday and on Saturday we went rafting with USA rafting. I had confirmed that there was only going to be class two and three rapids because I was taking my twins and I wanted something that would be safe. So off we go on the lower Pigeon River with my friend Sibbreena. I should digress for a moment and tell you that Sibbreena only went because I wanted her to go. She kept telling me how she was only going because it was my birthday. White water rafting was never something on top of her to do list but she said she wasn’t going to go on this trip and not do something crazy with me. Throughout the safety talk she would ocassionally glance back at me and buck her eyes as if to say ‘are you all nuts?’
We finally got to our rafting spot and our guide, Travis, gave us the instructions we needed to navigate through our first few rapids. They were a piece of cake but I noticed the water began to have a lot more force behind it as we got further down the river. Sibbreena and I were at the front of the raft and were setting paddle pace. My twins were directly behind me and M was at the very back acting as motor man while Travis guided us.
Travis told us we were about to approach a class four rapid named the “Lost Guide” Supposedly the rapid got its name because guides would sometimes fall out. We all laughed and told him we were not going to lose him. I then asked about the class four rapid and mentioned how we were told there were only class two and three. Travis said it was the only four and we would be fine. When we got to the rapid all I saw was what looked like a waterfall with the water flowing upside down. That’s the last thing I remember after seeing Sibbreena pop out of the raft like Jiffy Pop next to me until my faculties came back to me as I realized that I was choking on a mouthful of salty briney river water. The force of the water had pitched me out of the raft too. I looked up to see Sibbreena to the left of me and I began to scream for her to grab my hand. Another current then drug me back under and when I came back up I was completely panicked. A thousand thoughts ran through my head, including the fact that I had lost a shoe, and to flip on my back the way they said to do in the safety instruction. When I flipped on my back I saw two things that made me completely freak out 1) I saw one of my children being plucked from the river. 2) I realized my raft was exremely far away and that the nearest raft to the left of us was quite far off. When I realized this, another current pulled me back under and it was then that the thought occurred to me that I was going to die on my birthday with my children watching.
Another thing they taught us in the safety class was to hold our paddle up in the air and shout paddle so that if a raft was near they could pull us in by the t-bar. I realized while underwater for the third time that I still had my paddle in my hand. I popped up out of the water and yelled paddle only to realize the rafts seemed to get farther away than closer. I’ve never felt so defeated before. I began to cry and scream for someone to please help me. The current originally seemed to be taking us toward the banks of the river and I kept thinking that if we got close enough that we would be able to grab onto a branch. As soon as I thought this was my way out, the current changed and began to shift us back to the center of the river. I finally heard one of the raft guides yell out “Swimmer!” But I saw no one jump in..(I figured out later we were the “swimmers” only we weren’t swimming at all.. we were being drug by the currents), he then yelled out “Rope!” They had told us in safety training that As soon as I saw the rope being thrown at Sibbreena who was to the left of me, I realized it was going to fall short. Thank God Sibbreena had the thought to take her oar and grab the rope with it. That’s how they were finally able to fish us in. Needless to say when the rescue raft pulled us in I was in tears and shaking like a leaf on a tree on a windy day. I thanked God for having protected me and my family.
About the time we began to settle our nerves we were transferred back to our own raft where Travis told us we had to resume our positions. I wish you could have seen the looks on me and Sibbreena’s faces. I turned to Travis and said “You want us to do what?! You’ve got to be kidding me” But he wasn’t. Sibbreena and I silently resumed our positions and the next rapid we hit was a class III. It was harrowing and I prayed aloud the whole time. Sibbreena told me later she hadn’t heard anyone praying so hard and loudly before. What she didn’t realize until much later was how the experience had shaken me in a way that words can’t explain. Later when we talked about what happened, she told me it was life changing for her as well but that she didn’t regret doing it.
Two more weird things about the experience.. when we got in the raft, Travis handed me both of my shoes that had been in the river..my first thought was “what the hell?! you found time to fish my shoes out of the river but not me?!” The second weird thing is that the sunglasses I had on my face were STILL on there even after having been drug undercurrent three times. I think it was the straps on the helmet that kept them on. Either way I was surprised.
Since having that rafting experience I’ve not slept without being back in the water. It disturbed me so much that I’m constantly reliving the moments several times a day. It’s not healthy and I realize that despite how crazy others may think I am, my goal is to conquer that rafting route without falling out. It won’t be soon but it will happen one day. I know that if I don’t do it, I’ll have always let that moment define me in negative ways. I am thankful that my family and friend are safe. Prayer does change things.
Three days after the rafting trip, I had surgery. I had already told the doctor’s I have had my near death experience for my life so they needed to be on point. I was in recovery and had been awakened and M had been brought around when I began to have severe chest pains and problems breathing. I was immediately whisked to the urgent care area where they tore my gown off, hooked me up to some electrodes and began to pump medication in me. I don’t remember a whole lot other than My surgeon suddenly appeared he began to use a fist to rub around in my chest. Another doctor (the anesthesiologist I think) was yelling out medication orders. I soon got physically sick and began to throw up. Well as you know there was nothing to throw up digestive juices which the doctors and nurses said was full of air bubbles. They seem to think the problem was from air being trapped in my chest wall. Before long I began to feel better but they kept me longer as a precaution. Again, I feel I was standing in God’s grace.
M doesn’t understand how these experiences have shaped my thought process about things and how scared I felt and still feel. He said our raft guide was very concerned about us hitting some of the many rocks in the river but that he felt assured we would be rescued with no problem because we had on our life jackets and there were many rafts in the area. He said they immediately got my son out of the water as soon as he hit it. But what disturbs me is that I don’t recall M even asking if I was okay. Of course he said he did but I don’t remember that.
M’s sister told me the other day that he has always been an internalizer-even as a kid he would never talk to anyone and would brush things off. I understand his nature but times like this it doesn’t work for me. I need him to understand the seriousness of all of this and how it has really screwed with my head. I’m a bit too close to death these days and I don’t like it.
Everyone keep me in my prayers. I’m sure I’ll be okay but it’s only been a week so I still have some things to sort out. Enjoy the pics from the trip.. Until the next blog my lovelies…
Smooth Times on a Rocky Road June 24, 2009
I begrudingly admit that I was one of the over 10 million viewers who watched the Jon and Kate Plus 8 fiasco last night. It made me think about how many people I know who are going through relationship issues. Even M and I are coming off a week long rocky patch where everything he did annoyed me and everything I did or said annoyed him. It’s the path that every marriage takes. How you walk that path defines you as a couple. I’m thankful that we choose to walk slowly ..together recognizing that every day won’t be a picnic.
Before I got married, my great aunt who has been married for more than half a century gave me a bit of advice. She told me that marriage wasn’t always going to be easy and that there were going to be days where I wanted to unscrew his head off and vice versa but for us always to remember what connected us. That would be our bonding thread through everything. So we take one day at a time. Some days we love harder than on other days but we never stop working on our unity. We recognize that as parents we have an obligation to show the children healthy and well balanced relationships. M is an excellent dad and a good husband. He’s working hard at continuing to adjust to the cultural differences. It’s hard to believe that he’s now been here in the US for two years. My how time flies!
Speaking of fatherhood..We celebrated Father’s Day by watching movies (Defiance, Passenger, Grand Torino and the Wire). I prepared some of M’s favorite foods including Shrimp curry south Indian style. He was in heaven. I was raised to believe that you feed a person’s soul by cooking with love. I wholeheartedly believe that food can be more than just a stomach feeder.
Suprisingly enough, my mother who was so adamantly against my marrying M called him and wished him a happy Father’s Day and to say thank you for being a good father to her grandchildren. Shocked is not the word. We’re still surpised that she called.
I do hope all is well with you readers. Begin gathering your favorite Indian or soul food recipes for me..or any great recipe. Next blog is about cooking for a home full of different taste buds. Until the next blog…
A Much Needed Mini Vacation June 8, 2009
I’m finally back to reality after combining a business trip with a much needed getaway. We just got back from Atlanta…took the kids to the zoo and to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. I love Atl but driving there is nervewrecking, not just because of the other driver, but because of how confusing it can get. With the exception if two places, we got lost everywhere we went. LOL.
M seemed to be at ease because everywhere we went, we saw other Indians. Where we live it’s a rare sighting. He was shocked at how many other Indians he saw. What was so great is how many other interracial couples we saw. It seemed that everyday we saw at least three or four other IR couples. It’s a great sign about the direction of things. Until the next blog!
Long Time No See June 1, 2009
I can’t believe it has been so long since I’ve had the opportunity to write on the blog. I appreciate all of the comments and the outreach from people who like the blog.
This past Memorial day, M and the kids and I went camping with several other members of my family. Overall, the weekend was okay except for one major glitch. My youngest aunt called M, Osama as he was walking out of the RV thinking it would be a cute joke. Thankfully, M said he never heard her. However, other family members did and laughed. I immediately put her in check and told her the remark was extremely tacky. I also asked her how she would feel if someone from his family called her a derogatory name. She didn’t say anything but I got my point across very very clearly to her and the family members who laughed. I am thankful that M has such a cool personality. He takes everything in stride and never holds a grudge. I did notice that M and my mother had more camaraderie. Thankfully, despite the sporadic ignorance on the part of my family, he said he had a good time.
In more happy news, we booked our family vacation to Walt Disney later in the year. It’s going to be a busy year of travel because we just recently signed for some commercial property for our business and we have to take a trip to China and we’re thinking of combining it with the one to India. I think the kids are more excited about Disney than anything else. Here’s a tip for all of you who have been thinking about going to Disney some day.. Now is the time! Disney has some unbelievable package deals right now.
I don’t know if I mentioned this before but M is by trade a mechanical engineer with a concentration in automobiles. He was working as a process engineer when he was laid off a few months ago. Thank God we were preparing for something of this nature. It’s been months now and M complains daily about how nothing is panning out for him because of this economy. Thankfully, we were preparing for something of this nature. We’re hoping the opening of a brick and mortar wholesale business will be successful. In the meantime, I try to keep M’s spirits up. Not having a job is emasculating for him and I try to make sure he knows that I understand and I don’t hold anything against him. As far as me and my kids are concerned, he is still the head of this household. That being said, M now feels that because he’s not working he cannot take part of major money decisions. We have to go back and forth three or four times before he will finally make a decision on an issue related to money. It’s frustrating. I want him to remember that no matter what happens, he’s still the husband and father. That doesn’t change because of job status.
We live in an area that isn’t as open to racial diversity as it claims to be. I think being Indian is making M’s job search a little more difficult. The way I see it, is that those people who won’t hire him because of how he sounds or because he’s from a different culture are the ones missing out and if someone doesn’t want you for asinine reasons, it’s not the place for you anyway. I’d much rather work in an environment where people respect differences.
Sorry it took so long to post a new blog… more to come so until the next blog…
Finally!! A guest post from Hubby May 17, 2009
After threats to withhold his favorite wings and fries, a few emotional blackmail attempts and a few stares, I finally got hubby to write a guest post. What follows is what my act of convincing produced. It’s his random thought process about interracial marriages:
Why is there a big talk about inter-racial marriage and Indians?Does anyone really know what type of racial divide we have in India? It’s not the color of your skin. It’s the religion and the caste.Now you might think it is only in hindu community that caste and religion matter so much but .it is not. It is wide in the Christian and the muslim community too.
You can be dark skinned and still be from the higher caste. You can be fair and be from the lower community. End of the day, it is your religion and caste and you are expected to stand by it. Now in India you’d even face problems when you generally date or marry for the same religion but a different caste.
Marriage in the Indian community is essentially between families not just the two people. Marriages are generally arranged. Even when it is a love marriage within the same religion its still mostly arranged. Family elders meet and get to know of one another and then proceed. Now normally anyone would say it is a love marriage but unfortunately it is still arranged.
Now about dowry. Does anyone know really what that means.It is life time maintenance money to the husband to look after their daughter.
Fortunately I was born into a progressive thinking family who did think marriage is between 2 people not the family. Basically I never had problems with my decision. I belong to a higher caste and I am proud of it. But i was never taught in my home that there are two types of segregation in human society. I had friends from all strata of the society. I am a Hindu who eats beef,–but that does not mean my family eats it. I was schooled in a catholic convent. I am happy with whom I am married to.
I dont think marrying from another culture like me would be a norm with all the Indians you all come across.Every area in India has their own do’s and dont’s. If you know what to look for then maybe you can find someone to treasure. It’s actually a complicated situation.
As far as someone who wants to go ahead with this sort of releationship, let me tell you that there are some areas and communities that are more tolerant and understanding than some others. Best of luck for all who’s still searching.
After threats to withhold his favorite wings and fries, a few emotional blackmail attempts and a few stares, I finally got hubby to write a guest post. What follows is what my act of convincing produced. It’s his random thought process about interracial marriages:
Breaking the Ice with Mom in law May 13, 2009
Sorry I’ve been delayed with the latest blog post. I spent the weekend working in the backyard and preparing our first mini garden. The kids are excited about the possibilities of the fruits of their labor.
M and the kids treated me to a really nice mother’s day. I got breakfast in bed with orange cranberry muffins, bacon and fruit. I also got cards, flowers and the opportunity to sleep in, which if you are a parent, you know is an absolutely priceless gift. I didn’t get a chance to see my own mother even though we live less than two miles away from one another. She was out doing her own thing. We did take her gift to her on Saturday. We’re up to a record number of words between she and M. I think they passed around 15 words instead of their usual five.
I don’t think M and my mother will ever have the kind of relationship that she and my ex had and still have. I understand they are two totally different men but the chemistry is definitely far more different than I feel it should be.
M is always on edge around my mother. I think that comes from his knowledge of her previous disapproval of our relationship. Their conversation never goes beyond Hello how are you. This bothers me because there is no extension on either of their parts to get to know the other better. I know that she no longer dislikes M. She knows that he is a good dad and that he’s good to me.
I do think my mother is more interested than she pretends to be. I’ve heard her mention a few things that indicated she’s been doing research on the culture. Initially she thought M was going make me wear an abaya and bow to him and all of his requests. LOL.. Brahahahaha she doesn’t know her daughter very well.
I’ve invited my mother to come to India with us in December but she is basically refusing. It is my dream that my family and M’s can one day break bread together. Right now the dream seems so far off.
On other brief updates. I’ve finally decided what I’m doing for my 35th. I’m having a friends and family weekend in Gatlinburg. Laughter, fun, games, river rafting, shopping and bbqing are all on tap. Given some things going on right now I felt the need to be surrounded by those I love the most. I’m looking forward to a new year.
Until the next blog….
Surviving an Interracial Relationship May 6, 2009
The other day I was thinking about what it takes to keep a relationship going strong-especially when it’s intercultural or interracial.
The following are my own opinions and based on both personal experience and observations. They are merely suggestions on what can be done to help make not just an interracial relationship better but a relationship period. Feel free to add your own advice as well if you’d like.
Leave the bags at the airport– In other words, if you’ve got old relationship baggage, don’t bring it into your current relationship. You’ll have enough to overcome without adding extra fuel to the fire. It’s not fair to either of you if the other is constantly reliving the mistakes of another person. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t remember the experiences because they may have very likely shaped you into who you are now. However, instead constantly carrying around the weight of a previously broken relationship, use it to make you a better and wiser person the next time around.
Don’t chase your tail. – Sometimes the situation will arise where one person in the relationship may decide they are not ready to fight for the relationship against family or society the way they thought they were. I’ve heard absolute horror stories from people whose families are badgering and threatening them day in and day out if they don’t make the decision that is alignment with what the family wants. If you’ve talked to your SO and they are not willing to choose the relationship over the family, then accept that and move on with your dignity intact. You want someone who is going to stand strong for the relationship, so don’t beg, don’t plead and don’t cry (in front of them). State your case once (maybe twice if they didn’t get it the first time) but don’t keep putting yourself in the position for continuous heartbreak or false hope.
Be Sympathetic– If your SO is catching hell because of their relationship with you, try to place yourself in their shoes. They are likely trying to please everyone under the sun. Remember that their family values may be very different from your own. For example in India, they are raised that the family (mom, dad, elders etc) makes the major decisions and you are not to go against family. Can you imagine how heart wrenching that is to go against the very thing ingrained in you? Now, that being said, to avoid this situation, if they know their family is going to give them hell about their relationships then perhaps they shouldn’t start relationships if they know they will never go against family wishes.
Be Honest Even It Hurts Like Hell. – I have this thing about liars. I can’t stand them. It’s so frustrating to find that someone has been lying. For, me it feels so insulting-as though the person didn’t trust me with the truth or thinks that I’m naive enough to believe anything. Lying is disrespectful not only to you, the recipients of the false information but the person lying is disrespecting themselves. The way I see it, is that we are all adults. If we can’t communicate with one another in an honest fashion, why even deal with one another? I know that people are sometimes less than honest because they want to avoid hurting the person they are lying to. However, nine times out of ten, the person is going to feel even worst when they find out they’ve been lied to. At the end of the day it’s really not worth it.
Communicate Even When it’s Tough.- One of the biggest problems that I’ve noticed in intercultural relationships that don’t work out is that there are usually lots of unanswered questions. For some reason people are afraid to ask the hard questions associated with other cultures. They don’t want to talk about the uncomfortable issue of race, the role of family and the expectations each have for the other. One of my first serious intercultural relationships taught me this lesson. I asked very few questions about the person’s culture and the few I did ask, he lied about. Had things not wound up the way that they did, I could very well be married to another man, living in Saudi, having to dress in an abaya everyday in 1000 degree heat with no way to come home to the US if my husband didn’t give me permission. … which leads me to my next tip.
Do Your Own Research- Embracing your SO’s culture can be a beautiful thing. It will help you understand more about what makes them tick. I know that I was blessed to be able to live in India and to be able to go back and forth as much as I did. Not everyone has these resources, however, if you have the opportunity to experience your SO’s homeland, do so. I promise it will be a real eye opener. If you aren’t able to travel to their native surroundings scour the internet and library for information on their culture. If you area has some activities related to their background..go..learn.. and have a good time. For example, if your SO is Jewish, visit a synagogue or a Jewish cultural event.
Offer Support– Rocky times in a relationship are inevitable. Like a tide they will ebb and flow. It’s part of the growing process. How well you and your SO deal with your problems says a lot about how well the blossoms of your relationship will bloom. You’ve chosen one another because there was something about the other person that attracted or intrigued you. Always remember what those first moments together were like and why you chose one another. If your SO is having a rough day, be the ear they need or the shoulder they need to cry or lean on.
Stop trying to breathe life into a dead corpse-Know when the finish line is in sight- If we all looked back on our failed relationships, if we’re honest with ourselves the writing was probably on the wall long before we let it go. If the handwriting is on the wall for your relationship and you see that things are not working out and you’ve tried without success to repair things.. it’s time to let go. Often we get settled into a comfort zone that is hard to break free of even if it doesn’t feel so good. We’re afraid of the unknown and what it may bring so we stay in relationships we know are no good for us. If you know you deserve better and you’ve asked for it and haven’t got it…let it go.. If you know you are no good for your SO and you are holding them back or causing them a tremendous amount of pain.. let it go.
My blog readers, I’m not a guru, nor do I claim to know it all. The advice I offered above is all gleaned from my own personal and sometimes very painful experiences. If just ONE person walks away from reading this with a new and improved perspective on how to make their relationship better, I’ve done my job and the two days it took me to write this post was worth it. Until the next blog..
Copyright © 2009
A Fresh Blog Post. Hot Off the Presses. May 3, 2009
I’m finally back with a fresh blog post. The week has been very very busy and I had not found the time to write. Hubby has been promising to guest write for me but so far that hasn’t happened. Every time I ask him about it, he says he’s still thinking about what he is going to write about. Let’s all collectively roll eyes on that.
After three years of trying to get M realize that not everyone in any one race is the same, twice this week when I was telling him about a negative situation that happened (one involving a check from a customer for our business), he automatically asked “was it a black person?” His question gave me pause and made me ask him why he automatically assumed it was a black person that was involved in something negative. He didn’t have an answer for me, other than to say “I was just curious.”
Now mind you, M and I have had many discussions about why crime rates may be higher in some areas than others or why there are so many black on black murders etc. We’ve talked about the socioeconomic connections and educational factors that contribute to downtrodden. But somehow, I don’t think he’s grasped it all. Even now after all of this time being here in the states, he hasn’t connected with many other blacks apart from my family (or Indians either for that matter…come to think about it.. he hasn’t connected with anyone). He needs to be able to experience people of all races from all walks of life so that he can see that there’s not just one type of person in any ethnic group. I really want him to get to a point where he recognizes that crime has no face and no racial group is immune from being the victim of a crime or committing one.
Shifting the topic to one more positive, on Friday the kids had their Spring Fling. I was so excited because I saw more mixed couples there than I had seen in the entire city we live in. Other than M and myself, there were at least four other couples I saw that night and they were all openly engaged with one another and small amounts of PDA. It shows the grand old south where we live is changing its guard a bit. I like that.
Okay guys, I’m going to keep this one short. I’m a bit under the weather and my bed is calling me for a nap. Until the next blog. …
Oh by the way.. some comments I haven’t yet gotten a chance to respond to yet but I will later this evening.