This book is about the many struggles that the ordinary woman encounters. It's about relationships, health, living, poor choices, and consequences.
It's about mothers and daughters. And finally it's about understanding the power of forgiveness, the transformation that repositioning creates, being resilient and learning that restoration comes in the form of living. This book is about you and me; the women who redefine success, overcome challenges, and learn to live life on our own terms.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.18(d)|
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Triumphs of the Ordinary WomanEssays on Reposition Resilience Restoration
By Quindola Crowley
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Quindola Crowley
All right reserved.
Chapter OneOn Mothers and Daughters
No book on Triumph could be written without discussing mother/ daughter relationships. So often we are defined by our mothers. We are a fusion of who they are because of the strange symbiotic relationships that we carry into our adulthood. We are who they are or who they think we should be even as we try to move out of their shadows and create our own paths.
Sometimes the relationship can be very painful, disturbing and unhealthy. "In the deep core pit of my being I still feel the pain, the pain of a wounded spirit. Is it my pain or does it belongs to her? I don't know. Pain has so many owners, lovers, companions, friends, enemies and soul mates. Pain is like tired old slippers comfortably worn by the owners of pain."
Mothers have walls that sometimes shut you out- walls built up and doors that close shut. Mamas have bosoms that comfort, smother, and leave you drunk with scents of sweet security and nurturing. Moms are good friends. "She is the best mom a daughter could ask for ... it has been a long time since I talked to my mom. I wish I could ask her who I am. Am I all or none or one? Who am I? Hey mom I'm over here. Can you see me ... yes Mother I'm here."
It was a tremendous hurdle trying to define myself when I was raised by this mother who was parenting out of the complexities of life. It was difficult stuff that caused me to pause. It puzzles me when I grapple with how difficult and complicated it must have been for my mother to have 3 children by time she was 18, two of which were conceived out of rape and violence. How do we parent from a place of pain? How do you parent and develop a healthy nurturing relationship when you have not had that for yourself and you don't know what it looks like, feels like, or smells like? Better yet how did she parent her daughters when all she knew was wrapped up in her own mother rejecting her and not believing her?
My incredible mother was the contradiction of all that I write about. She is the contradiction that sends one into a tailspin. With all that was going on within her, she somehow created something for me that I could hold on to. Because of what she created for me, I know that love smells like the perfumed bosom of my tired and spent mom when she held me close at the end of the day. I know it smells like my great grandfather "Big Daddy's" musky scent from walking around town on errands and from working in the garden. I know that love taste like my great grandmother, "Madea's" 5 layer pineapple coconut cakes and her pecan pie.
My mother was always working or going to school. We would spend a lot of time with my great grandparents. I remember she would come home at Christmas time with lots of gifts. One Christmas she even brought Santa with her. He was a big burly guy with a sparse white beard and a tight fitting red suit. It was all costume but I had no idea. Madea and Big Daddy had this little artificial silver tree with snow around it. The small little silver sparse tree my grandparents kept up looked like a Charlie brown tree with all those gifts around it. I guess that was mother's way of showing her love.
While I was growing up my mother made some terrible choices that have affected me, impacted me, scared me, and even at one time defined me. Those were the things I had to learn to forgive. I learned that she only gave what she knew to give based on what she had in her at the time. When she knew better she did better.
Because of her choices and the crazy stuff that occurred in our house I wanted my adult life to be different. I wanted to parent differently. I wanted to be a different type of wife. I learned from my mother what to do and what not to do. Or at least I thought I did. At some point I really had to examine how I was parenting my daughters. I had to determine if I had caused them irreparable damage if so what damage I had caused and was it recoverable.
My mother was a control freak. Because of the control my mother imposed in our lives I realized that I was perfectionist. My expectations for myself and for those around me did not allow room for mistakes. Now the question was did my years of trying to be the best (that translate as controlling my world and being better than because of feeling like damaged goods) affect my daughters? Did my years of thriving for excellence affect them? Did my years of feeling less than; because of the rape, the abandonment issues, the failed marriage, did that affect the girls? Did the years when I thought I was strong but was really masking pain and shame have an impact on who they would become? I didn't know what I had done to the girls. But as I examined my relationship with my mother and how for years she had so much emotional control over me and everyone around her I realized I too have some of those traits. Worse yet I was concerned about what I had passed along to my daughters.
I realized that my mother was controlling because she did not have control over the rape, the abuse and the horrible things that had happened to her early in life so she controlled everything and everybody around her. The residual damage for me was being afraid to disappoint her. I made straight A's in school so as not to disappoint her; I graduated early from high school and was academically exceptional so as not to disappoint her. I went to college at age 16 so as not to disappoint her.
The truth of the matter is I hid all my mistakes and bad choices from her so as not to disappoint her. I wanted her to be proud of me because somehow she put her hope in me and I knew it. I lived life finishing the things she started completing her dreams. My life mirrored hers. In many ways I was just like her even in the places within myself that I did not want be like her. I had wanted to be perfect in every way and for many reasons. In turn what I taught my girls was that nothing was ever good enough. I sent the message that what they did was not enough and had to be redone. I sent the message to them that I wanted more from them than they had to give. This was the same message my mother had sent me. It took me a long time to realize this. I think I finally changed the message I had sent my girls but it was long after the self esteem issues had surfaced, after the challenges for them had crept in.
So the question arises as to when do we step away from the shadows of our mothers and become our own person. When do we stop allowing the symbiotic relationship to overtake us? How does one find herself when she is woven into the chaos of complicated relationships? When do I learn who I am separate from who mother is or who my mother wants me to be? It finally happened for me when I looked in the mirror and saw myself and not my mother.
One day I sat and took inventory of who I was. I looked myself in the eye and did not break eye contact until I allowed myself to see the woman standing before me. I examined her from the inside out and then from the outside in. I studied her. It was during this self examination that I came to realize the truths of the being that resided in me. I acknowledged that there were aspects of who I had become that was wounded and broken. I also saw the internal strength that created the gateways for change and the journey for living well. It was during this time that my brow creased in thoughtful self reflection with a desire to understand my mother. It was then that forgiveness crept in. I began the process of forgiving. I forgave her, my mother, for being human. I forgave her for not knowing what to do and how to parent us. I forgave her for being complicated and misunderstood. I just forgave her. Forgiveness is healing.
But that's not the end of the story. The fact of the matter is my mother is the transformational "Triumphant" woman in the story. My mother is the woman who overcame the obstacles and the life challenges. She learned along the way to define life on her own terms. In that she even learned to define and create success. Her success is defined partly by the many accomplishments in her life. She was the first in her family to achieve higher education to include doctoral studies. She even had significant career highs during her career. It is from this definition of Triumph that I get the AHA moments. So today when I frame thoughts of my mother I think of her in terms of her success and her ability to overcome and no longer define her by the struggles.
This brings us back to forgiveness. Redefining and reframing really begins with the conscious choice to forgive. When I choose to forgive my mother I had to take personal inventory of myself and accept the fact that I owned some of my dysfunction. I realized how complex and complicated life gets when it is layered with shame and abuse. When I began to celebrate her success and her ability to redefine herself, to reposition her life, and her ability to create in me a zest for learning, a determination that surpasses tenacity, a will to live beyond where my small dreams could take me, and belief that I could reach more. It gave me joy, unspeakable joy, and peace. You see, I realized in her struggle she gave me the best of who she was. In her struggle she showed me that she was vulnerable and that one can only give out of what she has within her. If it is not in you at the time you cannot give that part of yourself. But with that she showed me life is like a running stream. It is constantly refreshing itself; it wears away the ruble and it's fresh and brand new every day. I've learned that love is unconditional and it last through hurts, pains, and disappointment. Love transcends time.
Letter to My Children
Dear Lovely Ones,
I am stopping by to let you hear my voice in the midst of life. Shh be still and quiet so we can have a fire side chat. I was in my mind visiting my mother and the thoughts of her led me to you. So, I wondered how you all are doing. When I was young I called my mother Hurricane El because she would sometimes sweep in so harshly and abrasively and leave us all broken and damaged by the strong winds of her words. Sometimes I wonder if you have ever compared me to a natural disaster. What I do know is that I have a spent a lot time pursuing. I have pursued dreams, education, career opportunities, and business ventures. I realized that I spent a lot of time away both physically and mentally. I realized that while in my pursuits for excellence and betterment I was not always present. Even when I was there physically I was not always there.
In all this I have learned that life does not stand still; tomorrow will come anyway; and yesterday is history. For you that simply means to live your life like it matters. Live your life with a legacy in mind.
I want to know who you are. More importantly you need to know who you are. Who are you when you think no one is looking. Are you the one that pays it forward and gives even when it isn't requested? Are you the selfless person that is still enough, confident enough, and caring enough to hear the silent cries of the ones around you that sometimes hurt? I just want to know if I instilled that compassion in you that creates a character with worth.
Are you content with being who you are even when you know you need to improve on something? Are you coachable and open to learning. I'd like to hope and believe that you are all these things and more because that is what I tried to shape in you. Your journey will reveal to you the many facets of who you are. Be fully engaged in your journey participate with purposefulness and determination. Allow the most gifted, talented, and blessed to pour into you and then give back expecting nothing in return. Then live as if you have accomplished something great today because you really don't know if tomorrow will arrive. Lastly, hug, touch and tell those closest to you that you love them every day. How much you are loved should be the last thing on your mind when you lay your head down to rest.
"Yesterday was so light so airy past the shadows in the wind. Hard to grab hold and recapture. Tomorrow within reach but colorless scentless shapeless. Today is a wonder yet a wonder. Grey and soft blue rainy and sunshine bright .I spoke to my mother today she was tired yet uncomplicated pleasant. I heard smiles in the creases of her word. Just for a moment it felt very gentle just for a moment I felt like I was having a conversation with my mom. "
"I'd feel a lot braver if I were not so scared" Hawkeye Pierce
Hey little girl I see you
Young lady ... woman ... standing tall ... proud
green eyes sparkling with life
shy gentle reserved
loud aggressive defensive.
defensive ... don't let your guard down,
down is where you will be
keep your head up.
Box em up motions ... you know the drills
watch the court and play your game ...
of life ... life is what you make it
take it and run ... drive to the basket and shoot.
Don't be afraid to shoot - in life take all the shots
some you make and some you won't
but won't be your best if you don't try
Drive baby drive
I'm so proud to see that you are living life overcoming
and driving ... drive ... drive ... drive..
Don't lose yourself my lady the world is a big place
Searching for a dream
Where is Waldo? I don't know. Who's on first?
Don't get caught up in the do up, be up, act up, wrap it up,
It's your thang do what you want to do
Be black Opal ... Punky is a way of life Brewster ...
Like diamonds can be raw that's ok
For Us Sisters
Sisters so close
we share the same blood
yet different as night and day.
Both know that together we stand
Am I my sister's keeper?
Her eyes mirror my soul -both wanting, both needing,
both feeling, both searching, both missing the nurturing,
both standing alone in the crowded space
... and still alone we both feel.
yet different as night and day.
Am I my sister's keeper?
Is she her sister's keeper?
Are you your sister's keeper?
Last night I cried
Last night I cried for you for your innocence lost
I cried for my little girl
I cried for the young woman standing before me
My tears, my salty tears drip the dreams
of my mother her sisters, my grandmother and my great grandmother.
My tears scented with the sweet memory of a precious little girl
The memory of a head nested in the bosom of love
sweetened by the smell of mommas toiled work day.
My tears didn't just drip quietly they raged and
poured like a storm out of control
Last night I cried. I cried for you
I cried for your innocence lost
Last night I cried
I cried for me too
Journal Notes __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
On Health Challenges
I was most inspired by the strength of a woman I did not know but simply had a brief encounter with. This woman clearly took charge of her health and decided she would not allow the health issue to define her. I don't know the process or the journey for Suzette but in our brief encounter I was taken by her amazing will to survive. Suzette and I shared a commercial ride to the airport. As I sat next to her I could feel her and the intensity of her energy. It was gentle yet bold and unwavering and still yet warm. Suzette shared with me that she was traveling to Mexico to undergo alternative treatment for a medical condition. It was a condition she would not name. I suspect that she refused to call it anything because that would somehow validate it. She had a confidence about her that defied the fear and concern that seemed to rest in her belly. It was that confidence and security that gave her Triumph over the illness. It was in that brief encounter that I gained so much from her strength. She had a quiet that bellowed throughout the van in such a powerful, yet gentle, yet confident way. She showed strength to overcome. She had strength and a will to live for herself, a will to live for her grand children. It is short encounters like these that keep me grounded in being present with myself, my family, and my friends. I have vowed to hear as to be heard to seek to understand so as to be understood. Triumph.
Sometimes my body hurts and I don't know how to explain why my arm hurts knowing I am not having a heart attack. It is crazy because I go in and no one seems to really understand why I wake up tired or why the bottom of my feet hurt. I hurt in places that don't make sense. All I did was sleep through the night (well not really). I don't sleep well because of the pain.
When you live with chronic fatigue and chronic pain, it is sometimes difficult to focus and to process information. For me it started in my joints. All of my joints hurt. It began in my hip then it went to my knees, then my elbows hurt when I did pushups and now my fingers hurt.
According to the American College of Rheumatology one in 50 Americans have fibromyalgia and between 80 and 90% of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women. I was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I have lived with these symptoms for years and could not understand why some days I simply did could not get out of bed and why on some days I awakened as if I have already worked a full day and my back ached. I ached all the way down to the soles of my feet.
I learned to mask the pain. I learned that people are so caught up in their own thing that unless you have some illness that is clearly visible or unless it has a vicious label on it like lupus or cancer no one cares. Chronic health issues are chronic for the person who lives with the experience. For those that interact in your life at some point the problem no longer exits and becomes the norm of how they interact with you. Sometimes this is good and sometimes it means they don't understand how to relate to you. It's funny how people only see what you show them. Or do they only see what they want to see.
Excerpted from Triumphs of the Ordinary Woman by Quindola Crowley Copyright © 2011 by Quindola Crowley. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsOn Mothers and Daughters....................1
Letter to My Children....................6
For Us Sisters....................12
On Health Challenges....................17
On Finding Your Way Back....................25
On Life's Milestones....................31
Read Reflect Respond Rest....................53