A Personal Reflection on Father’s Day

Father’s day has always been a strange day for me.  I grew up in a single-parent household with a mother who was more than capable of holding down the roles of both parents.  My father did not take an active role in my life.  With the exception of visits and phone calls here and there, he was a quasi-presence, an oddity, an elusive figure (still is).  After 31 years, I must admit that it’s a shame when you still don’t know your own father (and he doesn’t know you either).

I’m at a point now where the hope of any real relationship or bonding with him is somewhat faint.  If it happens, great.  If it doesn’t that’s fine, too.  Sad, but fine.  Guess when the child grows up it becomes harder for the parent to relate after being away for so long.  Or maybe they’re apprehensive or scared to connect because they feel you may reject them.  Maybe it’s guilt.  Or the scars that linger from their own father’s absence and abandon that prevents them from doing the right thing with their own child/children.

I’ve had countless discussions over the years with my mother about why my father was rarely around.  And she always gave me her honest answers, without bashing my father in any way.  Most importantly, she did not want me blaming myself for his absence.  As a child, it was still hard not to feel this way because I didn’t yet understand all of the reasons why.  No matter what, a bit of pain, sadness, and anger remained.  As I mentioned in a previous post, my insecurities, feelings of rejections, depression, and thinking I wasn’t “good enough” stem from my father not being around.  I’ve spent an extensive amount of time working on this over the years.

The last time I spoke with my father was about three years ago.  He began telling me what he thought I wanted to hear about why he was never around, but not what I needed to here.  He said he wanted to try to have a real relationship with me, or in other words “start fresh.”  Honestly, I was taken aback.  First of all, the phone call was out of the blue (as they always are).  And second of all, the whole scenario was giving me the “here we go again” feeling.  While I was open to the possibility, I wondered if he actually meant it.  Did he truly want to reconcile?  Would he actually follow through?

The memories of my father saying he was going to do something and never actually following through with it are the ones that cut the deepest.  I remember how I felt during those times, and I knew that I did not wish to go back to feeling that way ever again.  And now three years have gone by, and we’re still right back where we were three, five, seven, ten, fifteen years prior.   

Maybe one day, things will change.  Maybe they won’t.  Maybe I’ll have to extend myself even more (than I have over the years) to try to move things along.  Sometimes people do need the extra push and encouragement to make change happen.  But one does have to ask, at what point is enough enough?  I welcome the chance to reconcile as long as my father is serious about it.  I have no intentions however, of being strung along anymore.  That’s pain I don’t need.

Whatever happens is destined for reasons that only divine knows at this point.  Realize, I hold no grudges.  I’ve forgiven my father (and myself) for it all.  I wish nothing but the best for him in all things.  And I just wanted to say, Happy Father’s Day!

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Happy Father’s Day to all fathers!  Never underestimate the role you play in your child’s life.  Never take for granted how pivotal you are in your child’s growth and development.  Your presence (physical and emotional), involvement, guidance, and support is more powerful and significant than you may think.  Be engaged.  Be committed.  Be present.  We need you.

Day 93: RIP Chris Lighty

Image courtesy of the BrooklynVegan site.
‘”I am utterly, utterly devastated…It feels unfair to us. He was our wealth. Chris was like the fruition of all that could be. He was loved.”‘ ~ Harry Allen, Hip-Hop Activist (NY Daily News, 2012)
When I first started seeing tweets on Thursday that Hip-Hop mogul Chris Lighty had passed, I couldn’t believe it.  I immediately started doing some research to see if these claims were true.  Eventually, site after site confirmed that he had in fact died.  Suddenly it seemed as if my day was at a standstill.  I couldn’t do anything.  His passing saddened me so.  Lighty was, at only 44, yet another pivotal figure gone too soon.

Lighty, CEO and co-founder of Violator Management/Brand Assets Group, was a fixture in the world of Hip-Hop since the late 80s.  It was impossible to experience anything in Hip-Hop without feeling Lighty’s impact.  He truly was one of the last great power moguls in the entertainment industry.  Lighty began his career carrying records for Kool DJ Red Alert and acting as a party enforcer for the DJ and their Violators crew (The Grio, 2012).  Also a DJ, Lighty was known as “Baby Chris.”  He went on to become a respected manager, managing the careers of several Native Tongues acts, including the groundbreaking, influential groups De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest.

Lighty credited his time working in several executive positions under Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen at Def Jam and Rush Artist Management as being pivotal to him becoming an entrepreneur.  Under their tutelage, Lighty, in a 2011 Black Enterprise article, said,
‘”I learned you are only as strong as the people around you,” he says. “You’ve got to build a good team–from your accountant to your right-hand man to employees–the whole nine yards,” he says. “I also learned you can have a plan [for what you want your business to look like], but you need to know when to deviate from it. You have to be able to bend and sway with the moment…“‘ 
And it’s clear that the he applied (and expounded upon) what he learned from his experiences when establishing his own business, Violator Management/Brand Assets Group, with co-founder Mona Scott.  Lighty was a highly lauded and favored, achieving stellar success managing the careers of artists such as LL Cool J, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, Foxy Brown, Mariah Carey, Diddy, and 50 Cent.  Lighty was also praised for brokering multi-million dollar endorsement deals for his artists, most notably for LL Cool J and 50 Cent.

Lighty, in a 2011 Black Enterprise article, said one of the keys to success in the entertainment industry is diversification.  
‘”From my point of view you have to be a multi-tasker and know every aspect of the entertainment business,” says Lighty, whose marketing firm has inked deals with Adidas, Coca Cola, Sprite, Reebok and Motions Hair products and others. “Back in the day you could get away with focusing on one thing, like A&R. Now whether its digital, marketing, A & R, radio, whatever–you have to know how to get your artist from A to Z, even if you need help pulling it all off.”‘
Other important keys to his success, as highlighted in 2011 by Black Enterprise, were 1) thinking outside of the box, 2) consistent common courtesy, 3) always adapting to your environment, 4) believing in your business or failing in your business, and 5) using persistence to overcome resistance. 

Lighty was respected, admired, and loved by so many, within and outside of the entertainment industry.  The outpouring of love on Twitter was more than enough to signify this.  Devastating already, the news that his death was a suicide made the impact, I’m sure, even more so affecting.  You never know what a person is truly going through, especially when it appears from the outside that everything is cool.  News reports state he was having financial woes, and that he’d gotten into a spat with his estranged wife over the phone just before taking his life (NY Daily News, 2012).  We may never know or understand the full extent of what Lighty was going through, but sadly—he was troubled. 

With Lighty’s untimely death, I hope our community takes it upon itself to say enough is enough.  It perplexes me why mental health remains such a taboo subject in our community.  So many of us are suffering in silence.  There’s no need for it.  It must stop.  If we have to look beyond ourselves to get the help we need, so be it.  Prayer is not always enough.  Ignoring and suppressing our issues is not cutting it.  Self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, and other addictions—thinking it will make everything better—is no way to win the battle.  Sometimes we need an intervention from trained professionals in the form of counseling, therapy, and/or medication.  As someone who’s battled with depression, I know.  We must not be afraid to speak on our issues and get the help we need.  There’s always support available.  We have to take better care of ourselves.  Good mental and emotional health is critical to sustaining our overall well-being.  We have to prevail.

My condolences to Chris Lighty’s family and friends.  As writer Danyel Smith said in a recent NPR story,

“Chris Lighty made history. He helped make hip-hop. He was a success story. He was a sweet and brilliant man. But there will be no more knowing of him — the complexities, the simple s—-, nothing. The man in the liner notes, the kid backstage, the dude counting the show money, the father with his children. It’s beyond tragic. Everybody’s Baby Chris is gone.”

We’ll miss you Baby Chris.  Rest in peace.

Day 92: The Kitchen, My Other Home

One of my favorite things to bake – Cream Cheese Pound Cake
Aside from the stage, studio, and classroom, the kitchen is my home.  I’ve been in the kitchen since I was about 7 or 8 years old.  Learned so many things from my mother and grandmother in the kitchen (still learning).  I’m so glad I received this gift.  I come from a long line of gifted cooks/bakers, especially on my mother’s side of the family.  Good food (and drink) has been just as much a centerpiece of family gatherings as the communion and the entertainment (mostly us acting crazy and talking cash shit—doing what we do best, in other words…lol).  There’s nothing wrong with loving good food, especially if you’re blessed enough to make it, share it, and enjoy it!  
One of the things I’ve learned over the years with cooking/baking is that food truly tastes good when you’ve put your heart and soul into it.  The love emanates through the food and touches the spirit.  This is why people enjoy it so much, and why we find some eating with their eyes closed (totally enraptured with the taste, how it makes them feel, and memories it conjures up).  The best advice:  if you’re not feeling it—step away from the stove!  Put the utensils down and the pots and pans away!  Get out of the kitchen and call for takeout/delivery!  Because the food will tell the story.  I apply this to many of my creative gifts and talents.  I have to feel it.  I have to be able to get into to it.  I can’t do it just for the sake of doing it.  If I’m not feeling it, I can’t do it.  It’s that simple.  
So let me get back on schedule.  I have a Honey Cornbread, Orange Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Baked Yams, Buddah’s Teriyaki Pork Chops with Apples, Onions, & Peppers, and Spinach to make. Happy cooking, baking, and eating! Enjoy!

Day 64: The Good Ole Days

The chatter never ceases when being flooded by joyful memories of a bygone era.
You’re in a trance when nostalgia captures you:
Wide smile, happy, sparkling eyes—
A lift in the tone of your voice,
so evident in the jubilant recap of your experiences.

There’s nothing wrong with reminiscing about the past.
The chapters in the book of the past made way for the books of the present and the

     forthcoming books of the future.
It’s important that we look to our past because it’s our personal history.
When we’ve learned from our history, there are slim chances of blocking the blessings of 

     the future.
We just have to remember not to dwell too long in the past.

Can’t bring back what we had then.
But we can reexamine our lives now,
and figure out what it will take to create the good ole days of today—
To make them just as memorable, just as impactful as they were then. 

© BuddahDesmond

Day 61: We Need You

To us–you are our everything.
We depend upon you for our way of life.
We need you to nurture us, guide us, and protect us.

Even though we sometimes go about our days as fearless as can be,
We need you,
Sometimes more than you know.
That’s why it hurts us so when you don’t hear us,
When you don’t see us,
When you aren’t listening or paying attention to how we feel or what we’re trying to say.
And we internalize it, thinking it’s something that we did to make you act this way,
not knowing–or always aware—that what happens or has happened to you

or what affects your mood and how you treat us often has nothing to do with us.
But how can we know when you don’t know how or are scared to talk to us openly and freely?
We may not be grown but it doesn’t mean we won’t understand.

And if we don’t, we can at least try.

What we often don’t understand is why we get hurt so
when we don’t get what we need from you,
Or when we get taken advantage of.
It’s a whirlwind that can leave us lost;
Some of us sadly never find our way back home.
But those of us that do successfully breakthrough.

You may not fully comprehend how much we need you or how much you need us,
But one without the other simply isn’t right.
If you would only think about the great impact you have on us–so much would change in this world.
Just imagine, this world could become the world we’ve always dreamed of.
And what a world that could be. 
 

© BuddahDesmond

Day 28: Getting Beyond Blame

We have the power to make great changes in our lives. Our power, in this vein, can manifest in both good and bad ways. At times, we can be our best champions or our worst detractors. And when we detract from ourselves—time to recover and recoup can be lengthy. After a certain phase in our lives, it matters not whether others or we were to blame for our misfortunes. That’s because the responsibility for the outcome and our personal resolution(s) remains with us. This responsibility cannot be placed elsewhere. No scapegoating or excuses, because our power and our choices will be at play. It’s imperative that we use our power and make choices wisely.  We must get beyond the blame.

Day 27: Other People & Their Problems

When it comes to other people and other people’s problems – there’s only little we can do.  It’s up to them to make the changes and transitions necessary for improvements in life. You can advise, counsel, support, and love them all you want.  But if they don’t want things to be better for themselves – you might as well proceed like it’s business (your business) as usual.

Day 16: Round Midnight: A Tribute to Great-Grandpa

On the afternoon of March 14th, my great-grandfather died.  He was 95 years old.  He’d been sick for the last several months.  He was semi-comatose during the last several weeks of his life.  But up until that time – he was still hanging, still going strong.  He lived a long happy life.  Not many people live that long.  And it’s truly a remarkable thing.  He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather.  He was a supporter, inspiration, mentor, and role model.  He was a military veteran who took pride in serving his country and worked in the federal government for 33 years.  He was also a self-taught jazz musician who didn’t read music.  He had several instrumental and vocal bands that toured the East coast.  Music was his passion.  Though he didn’t get to completely follow his passion due to his love and commitment to his family, his passion for music and his talent never ceased.  He is one of the reasons why my love for music (jazz in particular) and singing is so strong.  He gave me a deeper appreciation for jazz and musicianship.  So this one’s for Jazzman Gus, one of many names he was affectionately called.  Here’s a classic jazz tune, “Round Midnight” written by the phenomenal pianist/composer Thelonious Monk and performed by Sassy/The Divine One, Sarah Vaughan.

Time Waits (for No One)

I’ll live like forever is now
Because time waits for no one
And tomorrow just may not come ’round
Because time waits for no one
When we’re gone
Only love goes on
~ Gloria Estefan, “Time Waits” from Unwrapped (2003)

Hello to all out in blog land! Hope all is fab in your world. It’s been so long! I’m good though. Guess you can say I’ve been on a blog sabbatical. Life has been moving so fast lately and I find myself increasingly busy. At this point, I’m just trying take some time and enjoy breathing. Today was one of those days where I didn’t feel like doing anything and that was my mission. Sit back, relax, and reflect….

I have to say that the last 8 or so months have been the happiest I’ve been in quite some time. My professional life is going well. My work has received quite a bit of praise and I was recently awarded with a merit raise. I was very happy about that. I hope to continue to improve and advance in my current position and whatever opportunities that stem from it.

Personally, my love life has never been better. My boyfriend and I have been together for about 8 months. And it just seems to keep getting better. We can’t get enough of each other. We are so very much in love with each other. Life would be so much different without him in it. And I can’t see my life without him in it. He’s the one! And I am so thankful, so grateful to have the love that I’ve longed for and searched so hard to find.

I’ve fallen in love with my friends all over again. They continue to amaze me, push me, inspire me, uplift me, support me, love me… And every chance I get I pay them back in kind. Since so many of my friends are several miles away, we don’t get to see each other (sometimes don’t get to talk to each other) that often. So the moments we do have whether they be in person, over the phone, text, IM, or email – are cherished. We’ve all been thru so much. And we’ve been there for each other thru it all. I couldn’t ask for better friends. I thank god for putting them in my life.

And I love my family. As crazy and dysfunctional as it can be, they’re my foundation. I can’t help but root for them. Even during the bad times. It’s unfortunate that we’re not as close as we used to be. I continue to pray for the day when the petty b.s. is no more and we all can get back to where things should be. I will always be indebted to them for their love, care, and support – my mother and my grandmother especially. They’ve been my rocks….

I guess I say all this to say that the events of the last few months have left me in a reflective, introspective mood. These are trying times for everyone. One of my best friend’s at work lost her dad on February 13th. My boyfriend lost his grandfather and an uncle on March 13th and an aunt less than a week later. My mother was diagnosed with another form of cancer and had to go into surgery on March 20th. Luckily, she made it through without any complications. Due to her medical history, we still have to keep an eye on everything. And hope and pray that after this go round the cancer doesn’t return. All we can do is hope and pray for the best. Play your part and then give it up to God.

Though I realized this before, as I get older it sticks more so now….Life is too short not enjoy it and live it to it’s fullest. It can all be gone in a flash. So you’ve got to give it your all. Love hard. Play hard. Dream big. Go after everything you want. Don’t let anything stop you from doing what you’ve been put on this earth to do. Own it. Own everything (as RuPaul would say….lol!). And I’m going to own everything! As Gloria Estefan sang, time waits for no one. This is our time. We’ve got to make the best of it…. And on that note, I wish you all well. Enjoy your weekend. Catch up with you later….

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Now playing: Gloria Estefan – Time Waits
via FoxyTunes