Left Thinking: Journey to a new channel

Left Thinking: Journey to a new channel | Sedruola Maruska

It was November 2016 when I was left thinking about how far from decent we’d fallen.

The days were a blur of sadness, anger, fear, confusion and hopelessness. How were we going to recover from this?

As I usually do, I decided something needed to be done. I needed to do something. We couldn’t wallow, we needed to take action. I needed to take action.

The solution came quickly and easily: I’d start a new teaching channel on YouTube to help educate people on the meaning of words.

Education is what failed us. No one understood the words that were thrown around. They didn’t understand that picking up a word, without knowing its meaning, then using it willy nilly was not acceptable. They needed the meaning first. So that’s where I came in I was going to give them the meaning of words.

Words that were hateful, biting, cutting and mean were first on my list. Those were the ones I would tackle first because those were the ones being hurled like daggers. Yes, I was taking up arms with hateful words to fight hate. . . Thankfully, I had to take a bit of time between my idea and implementation.

It’s never a good idea to make decisions in the heat of emotion (that’s just a great general rule for life) so it certainly wasn’t a good idea to start my channel in the heat of anger.

Later came Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. Through all the haze, sadness and hate I couldn’t find a good reason not to be Thankful. We gathered family and friends in our new home, created a couple of “mannequin challenge” videos, laughed and danced our woes away.

Thankfully I was also infused with more ideas for my new channel. The idea was still fresh and ready in my mind.

In December I had the privilege of attending The Massachusetts Conference for Women and the door to my soul flew open! I knew I was on the right track after listening to amazing women tell their stories and feeling their authenticity, I was almost ready!

The name “Left Thinking”  was chosen right before Christmas. I didn’t choose a release date. I still felt raw instead of rational.  Anger still bubbled up like a backed up toilet and I didn’t want that to be the foundation. It wouldn’t be sustainable.

Then I went to a 6 year old’s birthday party. Isn’t it funny how life throws people, places and situations at you once your intent is set? If you’ve ever had to endure a 6 year old’s birthday party you know there isn’t much to look forward to. But, my baby girl was excited to party with her classmates/friends so off I went.

Not long after arriving I saw a mom sitting over by the window, away from the adrenal rushed children, so I went over to sit with her. I said hello and we began to chat. Before long were were talking like old college buddies and sharing our dreams for the upcoming year.

We’d both been at the women’s conference, we both had simmering ideas and we both hadn’t wanted to engage in chit chat for the duration of the party. Turns out, we spoke the whole time then made plans to meet to chat some more.

She’s now my cheer buddy. She’s doing her new thing and I’m doing mine. We meet monthly to check-in and motivate each other forward.

I was on the right track.

On December 31st I released this blog in preparation for the YouTube channel release. I wanted a place to talk to you. A place where I could not only post the videos, but also other articles of note to challenge me and you to our best selves.

My second post was about a very real and raw conversation I had with my daughter. The response was awesome! I told my story and you responded kindly, openly and lovingly. You gave me the courage to push forward. The Facebook page came and in late January, early February I recorded my first videos.

Then we went on a family vacation.

We had an incredible time! That was the final signal to me that now was the time. We experienced time with family, but we also bonded in our own unit. We enjoyed being together and having the freedom to live our best lives. After our vacation I was again left thinking about why I wanted to create this new  channel. This was the do or “kill the project” moment.

The answer was simple.

I knew it all along.

I’m called to teach, love and support.

It’s my destiny.

So this week, I threw fear aside once again, and released the introduction video for the new channel “Left Thinking“.

 

The “Left Thinking” journey is about putting myself, who I am and what I think, out there completely and authentically. Then letting it go and moving on. It may anger, sadden or leave you confused, but ultimately I want you to be left thinking about who you are, what you think and what you put out into the world.

My superpower is teaching, supporting and loving positively. That’s what Left Thinking is all about. Won’t you join me?


Deprogramming the “Marriage” expectation

Deprogramming The Marriage Expectation | Sedruola Maruska

I lived in the East Village of NYC with my Sister and a roommate for almost two years. What an amazing gift it was. We worked, played, partied (cause we lived next door to a club that let us in for free, you know . . . noise) and loved life! It was a dream come true cause every kid growing up in the boroughs of NYC wants to live in “The City”.

Thanks to my sister, I did. I’m 7 years older than my sister which means my crowd at that time was younger. The crowd I’d been hanging with before had all moved on to a different life.

Deprogramming The Marriage Expectation | Sedruola Maruska

So, in the late Winter / early Spring of 2001 I made two life-altering decisions.

I’ve heard that worry is a product of not making a decision. Once you make a decision, no more worry. It works, I do it all the time. . . but I digress. . . because I’m opening up and I don’t know you yet.

It’s like on a first date where you can’t tell all. . . then you drink a bit and all comes out. . . I have that story too, but not for now. . .

Anyway, the first decision was to buy my first apartment, the story of which will be in another post one day I’m sure. The second decision was to date anyone that had nerve enough to asked me out.

Let me clarify something. I’m a New Yorker for life. I’ve moved a lot in my time, but New York City is home. That means, I’ve grown up with diverse people around me all my life. But when it came to dating someone to potentially marry, in my mind he was always black.

Now, let’s go back to living in NYC with my sister and why I made my decisions.

I was tired. Tired of dating, tired of hoping and mostly tired of feeling like I was waiting for something, anything to happen so my life could start.

Ladies, PLEASE stop making your girls feel like they have to find someone to be somebody or do something.

I was 32 years old.

All. . . yes, ALL my friends were married. I was making new younger friends And in constant dialogue with myself to counter messages I’d been getting since my 20’s.

Questions:

– When are you going to get married?
– You’re not married yet?
– Why aren’t you married yet?
– Why aren’t you giving those boys a chance?

On and on and on and on. . . .

Heaven help little girls that keep getting the message that being married is an accomplishment and if it doesn’t happen something’s wrong. It’s a beautiful thing, but too many girls feel it’s the “holy grail” and when they find realities on the other side, well, 50% divorce rate right. . . ?!

Answers (to others):

– When I find the right guy
– No, I haven’t found the right person yet
– Well, I just haven’t found the right guy
– *smile politely* I do, just hasn’t been the right one yet

I was tired of making excuses for useless, inane questions that should never have been hurled at me in the first place. Why are women expected to get married and men expected to get jobs? We’re expected to work UNTIL we’re married then we stay home and raise kids.

Please don’t misunderstand I’m a wife & mother. I fought hard to stay home with my babies when they were  young. It’s a REALLY hard job I get it. I also get that it’s not for everyone. To thrust that expectation on everyone is insensitive. To make it the “holy grail” of a girls life is cruel.

Answers (to myself)

– I’m going to get married when I find a man that I’m truly excited to say I’m going to marry. . . not before.
– I’m not married yet and that’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with that or with me. I will not marry just any guy that smiles at me
– I’m not married yet because I want to marry for life, not so I can say I was married, but so I can say I AM married and that’s where I want to be
– If they can’t treat me the way I know I should be treated, they don’t deserve to be with me. Jumping through hoops for the rest of my life is not an option

I had that dialogue with myself more than I care to recall. Over and over again I had to deprogram my thinking, my feelings and counter the insensitive questions that came my way.

So I made two decisions in the early Spring/ late Winter of 2001.

The first was to buy my own place because I’m a grown woman with a job and waiting or a man to provide me with a mortgage was stupid. I started looking, found a place I fell in love with in Brooklyn and my sister and I bought it. . . not that quickly (another story) but we did that year.

The second was to date anyone that asked me out. Why did that have to be a decision? Because up till then, marriage potential men were always black in my mind.

So, out loud I said: “I’d rather be in love than alone. So, I will date, with an open mind and heart, anyone who ventures to ask me out.” An intelligent black woman is intimidating to some. I was her. So if a man asked me out, he was at least worth a drink.

I must have done a good job of deprogramming because about two weeks later I went on a pseudo-date (that’s what I called it) with a 6’3 white guy that I’d worked with for a year. We had a great time and we now have a house, two babies and a minivan.

Deprogramming is a bitch. There are so many messages we get along the way that we have to question over an over again so we can get to the person we are truly meant to be.

When I talk to my kids I don’t put expectations on them of what they’ll do in life. I simply expect them to be great humans. Message delivery is so important when shaping young minds. . . so love your girls, allow them to be exactly who they are going to be without the expectation that they need to have a man to be anything.

What’s your deprogramming story? I’m here to listen. . . comment below. 🙂


My worst mother daughter conversation to date

My daughter is five. She’s a bright, inquisitive and observant child, which sometimes leaves my husband and me at a loss for words.

Which is why this mother daughter conversation was a bitch.

It was the afternoon of November 9, 2016 and I was picking my kids up from my mom’s house after a long day at work. They were ready to go home and I was ready to be home, but I stopped in to say hello to my parents and thank them for their help.

My Worst Mother Daughter Conversation To Date | Sedruola Maruska

When I went to greet my mother, we went through the regular niceties then she told me about a conversation she had with my daughter. Now, my mom is extremely proud of my baby girl. She recognizes her “genius” and always tells me stories from the home front. This time was different.

The TV was on and of course the news was streaming that a new person had been elected President. My children were familiar with  and emotional about what was happening.

Now, before you shut down or leave because you think you know where this is going, give me a moment, it’s not going where you may think…

My mom said that she asked my daughter if she knew what was happening. My daughter answered yes.

Grandma: Do you know we have a new president?
Granddaughter: Yes.
Grandma: Do you know who it is?
Granddaughter: Yes, Donald Trump.
Grandma: What do you think about that?
Granddaughter: I don’t like him.
Grandma: Why not?
Granddaughter: He’s not nice, he says mean things, he’s black.
Grandma: Oh, you don’t like black?
Granddaughter: No.
Grandma: You know that your mom is black. I’m black & Papa is black?
Granddaughter: No you’re not, you’re like me.

Pause…sigh

Click here to come over and follow me on Instagram

My mom, needless to say, was concerned over this exchange. This is a smart girl and she doesn’t know that her mom and family members are black? She doesn’t know that the newly elected President is not black? Say it ain’t so…

After getting that information on what had already been a trying day, I didn’t have the presence of mind to give a good response to my mom. I also didn’t have the thoughts or words to bring this forth with my daughter. But, it was there, in the background like a song that you really wish you’d never heard, nagging at me.

Forward a few weeks and my daughter and I are in the bathroom styling her hair for school. This was my chance. I was going to explain to my five year old that we’re black and that she should know this for future reference. She needed to know this information because, so many people that made up her genetic code were black. It was my job as her mother and as a black woman to make sure she knew she was black.

So in I went.

Mom: Baby, you know that mommy is black?
Daughter: Really?
Mom: Yes, and Grandma and Papa too?
Daughter: Am I black?
Mom: Yes, you’re my daughter so you’re black.
Pause
Daughter: Mommy, what is black?

Pause…sigh

At that moment I had no answers. At that moment I realized there was something bigger here. At that moment I realized that my daughter was right, in her understanding and programming of what black is, about Donald Trump. He is black.

In her mind black wasn’t about race, it was about character. In her five year old mind, she doesn’t look at, shy away from or love people because of race but because of character. So when my mom had that conversation with her, they were speaking two different languages.

When I had my conversation with her, we were speaking two different languages. Somehow, in her five years, the subliminal societal messages had gotten through that “black” = “bad”. It would be up to her, and those of us who love her, to then counter those messages with “black is beautiful”.

But here’s my question…what is black? When did we decide we were black? Did we decide we were black or was the “label” thrust upon us?

Was the label black placed on us because the world had already started using “black” for “bad” things and since our brown skin was closer to black, and we were “different = bad” we were called black?

It’s one of those random questions that comes up when talking to a five year old and not having the faintest idea of what the answer is. There are a few things I did learn with this conversation: 1) The messages that are getting through are not “favorable” toward black; 2) We spend a lot of our black lives countering the messages that get through early on.

The conversation with my daughter (and son) is beginning, am I ready? Am I ready to not explain the “black race” but to work on fostering the “black pride” the “black strength” that I’ve learned to embrace over the years?

If I’m not, I’ll make myself ready because my five year old thinks a person of flawed character is “black”. When it’s time to reconcile in her mind that she’s black, I’m hoping her 5 year old ideas of black will have been completely overshadowed by the truth.