I lost my dear brother, Lamonte, three weeks ago to a massive heart attack at the age of 38 years old.  I am finally at a point where I have somewhat accepted it. Or either I just realized there is nothing I can do to change the fact that he is gone. The funny thing about death is that we all know that everything that is living must die, but that doesn't make the pain any easier.  I have never felt sorrow like this before and I have never hurt like this before.  It is an emotional pain that hurts physically.  I really feel at times like I am trying to breathe under water.  It’s suffocating.  I feel as though I have been changed on the inside, never to return to the carefree person I was before. I have had to find a new way of existing. Lamonte is always on my mind or not far from it.  Through this journey I have learned several things about grief that I would like to share:

1.     Everyone grieves differently.  Some get angry, others withdraw, others are expressive in their grief.  There is no cookie cutter way to handle it.  Grief handles you.

2.     Grief makes people uncomfortable.  It’s like they think that grief is contagious.  I have had friends who have totally ignored my pain and continue on as though nothing ever happened.  Which is okay because honestly this pain is not happening to them. I’m sure others just don’t want to say anything to set me off into a crying frenzy.  Truth of the matter is that it’s awkward any way you look at it. It’s awkward to me to not mention my grief as much as it’s awkward to you to mention my grief and witness my pained expression and tears. Plus, it feels good to know that you are acknowledging a significant part of who I am right now. And on top of all of that, ignoring it is pointless because I think about everything like a record stuck on replay.  I think about us growing up. The laughter and even the fights.  I think about our last conversation.  Reread our last texts.  I think about where I was when my dad called me with the news. I think about how he looked lying in the casket.  I think about how my mom looked touching him for the last time at the funeral home. I think about it all. His wife, his kids.  Everything...constantly.

3.     I often wonder if people really want the truth when they ask how I’m doing.  The truth is not pretty and it will make you uncomfortable and/or sad so don’t ask unless you really want to know. I have however, come up with a generic response for those who I know can’t handle the truth and who are just asking to be polite. At least they are kind enough to ask.

4.     I’ve become a great actress.  I can fake it like you wouldn’t believe.  If you look at me you won’t see a despondent Shanita.  Nobody likes a Debbie Downer after all. I've learned how to look the part.  I laugh at jokes, I even make jokes. I listen during meetings. I smile when appropriate.

5.     People say the darndest things to people who are grieving. I’d like to think these comments are coming from a good place. But I have wanted to roll my eyes at a few people. "You should get on some anti-depressants." "At least he died quickly." or my personal favorite "Was he on drugs?" are just a couple of the off the cuff comments I've had to endure. The only words I am able to take comfort in are scriptures.  Scriptures...not clich├ęs. "The Lord works in mysterious ways" is not a scripture. "Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4 is a scripture. One helps, the other is just annoying.
6.     The world is just a little bit scarier. Almost like I've been living in a nice little bubble free from the injustices of this life only for that bubble to pop and leave me exposed to all the not so good stuff. I want my bubble back!

I know that the pain will ease and that life must go on. People have been losing loved ones for years.  I'm not the first nor will I be the last.  But right now my heart hurts as I struggle to find my new normal. 



I woke up at 3:20 from a very disturbing dream.  I dreamt that I was walking bedside Trayvon Martin laughing and having a good time sharing a bag of skittles when we both look back and see that Zimmerman fellow with a gun running toward us.  We both take off running and then Trayvon was shot and stumbled to the ground.  I was screaming and attempting CPR and then a group of people run to us and I woke up! 

Trayvon Martin

I woke up sweating with my heart racing and a heavy feeling in my chest, and this was just a dream.  I can’t imagine what the parents of Trayvon Martin had to go through and are still going through with the trial in full swing.  It hurts my heart. It angers me. It scares me. 


Evan and his hoodie

Do I believe that Zimmerman set out to kill Trayvon?  No.  But I do believe that Trayvon was killed because of the color of his skin.  Let’s face it.  Zimmerman probably would not have been so suspicious of a Caucasian teenager walking in his neighborhood in the rain with a hoodie.  And even on the off chance that he was suspicious of a Caucasian teen, he would not have been so fearful that he would have brought out a gun and killed him.

I think about my beautiful little boys and I hate that they will more than likely have to deal with being feared, judged and disliked just because of the color of their skin.  I mean, it’s happened already.  We’ve already had to deal with the little white girl in Evan’s class who said she doesn’t play with black people.  To that my poor confused little Evan says
‘but mommy, I’m caramel…not black”.  I fear that I’m doing them a disservice by placing them in a school where both of them are the only blacks in their class in a school where black faces are few and far between.  They are just now starting to notice the difference and are actually OK with it but what do I do if this changes?  When the kids are older and meaner and they feel more and more isolated. 


Evan and his hoodie….again

I am not playing the race card because I think that racism flows both ways.  I’m stating reality.  It’s all around us.  Flat out prejudice.  Racial Profiling. It’s not just happening to other people.  It’s happening in our own backyard.  From the most rural of southern towns to most liberal of northern cities.  I won’t even mention what’s going on with Paula Deen because that’s a whole ‘nutha post entirely. 

I pray for justice for the Trayvon Martin family even though justice won’t bring their son back.  I pray for my babies sons.  I will not be overcome by fear for their lives because I know that they are covered by the blood of Christ and He will keep them protected.  He will keep them secure.


Random Acts of Kindness

Well, I am officially another year older and closer to death!  Let's face it, 36 is an uneventful age, so to celebrate my 36th birthday I decided to implement 36 Random Acts of Kindness in order to kind of spice things up a bit.  The idea was presented to me by my pal Greta who I happen to share a birthday with.  She has a way of sucking me into things encouraging me to do neat things.

I will admit that my list was pretty extensive and ambitious so I was not able to complete all 36 acts of kindness in the two week time frame that I allotted myself but I will share with you what I was able to do.

1. Give money to a homeless guy.
Well, I didn't see any homeless people during my two week mission.  And I refused to do like Greta suggested and go to where homeless people hang out.  I'm just not that dedicated.  So, instead I donated money to the Fill The Boot initiative to help our local firemen support the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

2. Bake a red velvet cake for my husband.
Ok, it is a known fact that I don't cook, so instead of baking a red velvet cake for my husband, I decided to buy one from Nothing Bundt Cakes. Same difference.  The end result is that he got to enjoy the fruits of my labor pocketbook.

3. Place money on vending machine
I work in a hospital surrounded by sick patients and worried, stressed, hungry family members.  I can't take away the stress and worry but I can fill their tummies so I placed an envelope with dollar bills on the vending machine with a note for someone to enjoy a snack on me.

4. Stop everything and listen when my children are talking to me.
I have developed a severe case of mental block when it comes to my children and their constant chattering.  I can only hear "mommy" "mommy" "mommy" so much before I shut down.  Well, I made a point to try and listen when my boys are talking.  I mean full on drop what I'm doing and make eye contact kind of listening.  I'm sure they appreciated my undivided attention and I felt like a good mom for putting them first if even for 20 seconds.

5. Have boys write a letter to a friend.
So I kind of cheated on this one.  The rules of etiquette dictate that you should send someone a thank you note when they have done something nice for you.  So I had Ian write a thank you note to his friend Gavin for inviting him to the movies.  So I killed two birds with one stone.  I'm resourceful like that.

6. Leave a large tip for my waiter.
What starving college student wouldn't appreciate a fat tip!  Now we didn't get crazy.  We just left $10 more than we normally would have left.  But every little bit counts in my book.

7. Give gift card to mail carrier.
This was easy.  I just placed a Starbucks gift card in our mail box with "For Our Mail Carrier" on it.  Viola! done!  Our mail man did ring our doorbell the next day to say thanks for the gift card.  That was a little awkward but whatever!

8.  Hug someone.
Speaking of awkward...I don't like for people to invade my personal space so I avoid invading other's personal space as well.  So hugging someone that is not an immediate member of my family or a really close friend was a bit outside of my comfort zone. So I hugged Alex, one of my coworkers at work.  I did ask permission first and I did explain the reason why I wanted to give her a hug which I'm sure defeats the whole purpose but that's as good as it gets.

9. Encourage someone who is down.
Let's face it, we all have bad days and sometimes we just need someone to acknowledge our bad days and encourage us to hang in there. I was able to encourage someone who is having a rough go of it.  Mainly because I felt her pain and I truly wanted at that moment to do anything in my power to take that pain away from her, but all I had were a few kind words and hopefully it was enough for her to push on through to face another day and have hope that it will all get better soon.

10. Donate clothes to Goodwill.
This was easy.  My boys outgrow clothes like crazy.  It's a bit ridiculous.  Fortunately, there's a Goodwill clothing drop box near my house so I bagged up a sack full of our clothes and blessed others in need.

11. Donate box tops to boy's school.
Many different brands of food donate a portion of their sales to Box Tops For Education.  Our school has raised lots of money to do many wonderful things for the school with money raised from donated box tops.  It's easy to do and quite frankly very wasteful to not do.  It's like throwing away free money!

12. Clean Break Room at Work
Pretty self explanatory.  Sometimes we have to scarf down our food in 10 minutes in order to hurry back to patient care so cleaning up behind ourselves has to wait.  I have a smidge of OCD so I didn't mind tidying up at all. I just hope my fellow coworkers know not to make it a habit!

13.  Donate a song on the radio to my husband.
I had to stay on hold for an annoying two minutes but I was able to place my request in with the radio station to play Still by Tamia for my husband. I'm not sure if they ever played it because I had to get out of the car but surely they wouldn't lie to me...right?!

14. Cook every day for 7 days
Umm....yeah....I only made it to three days and I tapped out on this one. How do people do it?  Where do they find the time?  After making one meal that nobody even touched, I WAS DONE!  Back to every man for himself!

15. Go on date with husband.
My husband and I are sometimes like two ships passing in the night.  With our work schedules, church schedules and kid schedules, we rarely have a moment to ourselves.  Well, my in laws came to visit and we put them to work as soon as they made it through the door!  They pulled into the driveway and we left to enjoy a Benefit dinner called Burgers For Babies.  The food was amazing and it was for a good cause.  We got to dress up and have adult conversation and even valet park our car.  It's the little things!  It was a nice night out!
16.Let fellow driver merge in front of me on highway.
As my in-laws pointed out, Texans are aggressive drivers.  I didn't really notice this until they pointed it out.  But it is indeed true.  I decided to simmer down one day and let someone merge in front of me in the line at Braums.  You may not think this is a big deal but NOBODY GETS IN THE WAY OF ME AND MY BANANA SPLITS! This certain driver made an illegal dash for the drive through by zipping through the parking lot, but instead of speeding up to claim my rightful place in line, I allowed him to go ahead and get in front of me.  Go ahead and say it....I am one nice lady!

17. Speak to everyone that you pass in the hallway.
We all know that speaking is common courtesy.  But after speaking to about 10 people in the space of 20 yards....I was over it.  Some people spoke in return.  Some people smiled back.  And some people down right ignored me.  How rude!  It did become a little redundant after a while so I crawled back into my little shell and kept my eyes straight ahead and avoided eye contact at all costs!

18. Genuinely compliment someone
This was easy.  A lady at church has a Louis Vuitton  bag to die for.  So I drooled over it complimented her on her amazing bag and I meant it from the bottom of my jealous little heart!

19. No electronics for one day
EPIC FAILURE! Who can go a day without electronics? You feel totally isolated.  Alone with your thoughts, out of touch with the world.  It lasted about 2 hours.  Not worth the stress!

20. Call parents to say I Love You!
This was a bit weird because my family is not big on displays of affection whether physical or spoken and  I didn't want to just call and say "I Love You" and hang up so I tried to segue into it which stressed me out because the whole time I was like.... do I say it now?  how bout now? wait, what about now?  I just ended up getting off of the phone and quickly threw in an "I love you guys" and hung up.  Yes, I totally realize that I am a bit weird and emotionally stunted.  The first step is admitting that you have a problem right?!

21. Donate money to a worthy cause
I love Groupon.  If you don't know about Groupon I suggest you familiarize yourself with it ASAP.  Well, Groupon had an option to donate to the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation.  This foundation provides opportunities for children of terminally ill cancer patients to experience family memories to last them a lifetime. What a way to give back and all it took was two clicks.

22. Teacher Gift
I really wanted to do something nice for the boy's teachers.  Let's face it...they deserve it!  They instill knowledge into my children's sometimes scattered little brains and they have to put up with them 5 days a week for 7 hours a day!! Well, we wrote a little note and attached a Panera Bread menu telling them to go crazy and circle anything they wanted on the menu and it would be delivered to them for lunch.  I mean...who doesn't like food!

Acts of kindness List & Excuses in Red

  • Buy someone's food behind me in the drive-thru *kept forgetting
  • Come into work early for someone *husband never made it home early enough
  • Babysit for a stressed mom *couldn't find time in schedule
  • Send flowers to a friend *couldn't decide which friend and I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings if they didn't get picked
  • Facebook post thanking my friends for being my friend *too cheesy
  • Take boys to bus stop *kept hitting snooze button
  • Take a friend to dinner *I tried but they ended up paying for my dinner for my birthday
  • Massage husbands feet *I hate other peoples feet
  • Iron husband clothes *I hate ironing
  • Put away husbands laundry *I hate laundry
  • Say only positive things today *I tried but failed
  • Donate old cell phones *couldn't find them
  • Donate blood *donation center was too far away
  • Send someone a small gift anonymous *too much trouble to decide what gift and who I'd send it to
  • Register as a disaster relief volunteer *way too involved and really...if a disaster happened I want to be with my family
  • Bring cookies to work *kept forgetting
  • Take boys to Chuck E Cheese *schedules were too busy for Terrance and I and I refuse to take them all by myself
So overall, this random acts of kindness adventure made me realize that maybe I'm not all that kind.  Some of the acts where easy but if I really had to go outside my comfort zone then they didn't get done.  I will admit that the acts I did get done made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Maybe I will try again next year and give myself a little more time to complete the mission or maybe I'll get the whole family involved.  Something to look forward to about turning 37!


Laundry Love

I was preparing to do laundry while talking on the phone  the other day blissfully unaware of my surroundings.  I had just removed an armful of laundry from the washer when I opened the dryer door to this:



After I stopped screaming….and picked up the pile of wet clothes that I dropped….and slowed my pulse down to somewhat normal, I realized that this little fella is pretty cute, huh?!


A Boy & His Best Friend

Ian is very reserved, a bit of an introvert.  It takes a while for him to open up to people. It took me a while to accept this fact.   I had to work hard for Ian’s affection when he was smaller and I’ll be honest…I thought the kid just didn’t like me.  I wasn’t used to convincing people that I am worthy of their affection.  I’m Shanita for goodness sake!  My firstborn was the total opposite. Freely giving his time and attention and endearments to any Joe Blow within a 12 inch radius. But with Ian, there are very few individuals worthy of his affection.  The good news is that once you’re in…you’re in.  Here’s a picture of Ian and his brotha from anutha motha, Gavin.  Ian loves this kid.  He wishes that he was his brother (his words not mine). Here they are holding hands on the way to a friendly game of kickball. A boy and his best friend.  Enjoy!


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