Song of the Week ~ We Found Love (Cover by Boyce Avenue)

I love music and it touches me in the strangest ways and at the strangest times sometimes. The melodies evoke emotions and memories of times long since passed.  Music is the pulse of my life.  I love popular music, acoustic music, gospel music.  Honestly, I love a little bit of everything!

I am always attracted to the words of a song.  I wonder what the writer was thinking when I hear it.  I often try to avoid seeing a video to a song until I have gotten a grasp of its lyrics because I find that video treatments often don’t match the song.  I had the pleasure of hearing WE FOUND LOVE by Rihanna as an acoustic cover version of the song by Boyce Avenue and I am so glad that I did!  This stripped down version truly touched my heart.

I had forgotten all about Boyce Avenue’s version after Rihanna’s synthesizer infused original version hit the airways and the seductive drug reference filled video hit the video channels.  I watched a behind the scenes show about the making of the video where she said,  “Love is unexplainable, intoxicating and illicit just like a drug.”  She went on to talk about the good and bad sides of love and the feeling of being out of control and how sometimes we need to release the very thing that we value and love in order to love ourself.  To say that I was dumbfounded was an understatement!

Flash forward two months.  It is Sunday morning. January 29, 2012 at my Church’s Bring A Friend to Church Day.  The theme is the “Power Of Love.” The message was about finding a place of love during difficult times.  It was full of hope for the hopeless, spiritually broken, and those that needed to reconnect to the power of the cross and reconnect with GOD.  The message spoke of promises of forgiveness and new life.  Communion was served and the chords of the piano began to play and my favorite soloist began to sing:

“Yellow diamonds in the light and we’re standing side by side”

By the time she sang, “Because the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny. But I gotta let it go.”  I was in tears.  I never thought of this song in this context but it was a beautiful call to the altar to restore people’s hopes and dreams.  A call for people to release addictions or hurt and pain from their past.  I was uplifted in a way that I have never been before while listening to this song.  It took on a whole new meaning and its one that I am going to keep in my heart this week and beyond.  Like I said, music can soothe the soul, convict the heart, and release the past.

We Found Love LYRICS:

Yellow diamonds in the light
And we’re standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive
Because the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I gotta let it go

We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place

Shine a light through an open door
Love and life I will divide
Turn away cause I need you more
Feel the heartbeat in my mind
Because the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I gotta let it go

We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place

Yellow diamonds in the light
And we’re standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive
I because the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I gotta let it go

We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place

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Letter to Me ~ Just Be Enough post

Dear Sammie,

I am sure that you are doing well, but by the time you read your life will have changed so much. I just wanted to tell you how proud I am that you have worked so hard to heal yourself and to be a great role model for your children. They are grown now and the time went so fast with them. The trials and triumphs you have helped them face are your badge of courage and your ode to motherhood.

You have raised three wonderful, amazing, resilient children that have overcome disappointments, learning challenges and the loss of their grandparents. It has been through your love, successes and mistakes that these beautiful children have grown to be loyal, truthful, affectionate, intelligent adults. I point this out because they have become this way in spite of your fears that your parenting skills may not have been enough.

Well, with the children all grown now it is officially your time to do all of those things that you have wanted to do but couldn’t or didn’t because of the kids needs. I’m so proud of your recent accomplishments of finishing your novel, and releasing the third edition of your Helping Children With Trauma training guide.

It’s your time to bask in the sun and enjoy the fruits of your labor, now understanding and truly believing what you did for your family was always enough!

Love always,

Sammie

10 Ways to Support Parents After the Death of a Child

The loss of a child(ren) is life changing.  There is no greater sorrow one can experience. The loss of a child is like a sucker punch to the throat, its takes your breath away, it aches to breathe and it hurts to swallow.  It doesnt matter if the child died in the womb, during birth, in a tragic car accident or at the will of a random bullet meant for the local drug runner or gang member — it just fucking hurts!  There is no way to compare the feelings of such loss based on the circumstances of the child or children’s death.  To try and assign the weight or a degree of pain to a parent for the loss of their child is asinine. It seems unfathomable that people attempt to do this but I assure you that they do!  The love a parent has for a child who dies is unconditional, profound and lasts an eternity.   Such loss can leave family, friends and a community speechless, stunned and scrambling to find peace and understanding that may never come.

If you are looking for ways to support someone who has lost a child here are a few suggestions.  Please note that there are hundreds of things that people can do to help, but these are my simple ways and they will not be the answer to healing the depression, grief and overwhelming feelings of loss that a parent feels.  These are just ways for you to acknowledge this loss and show that you care.

1. Acknowledge The Parents Loss

Lift them up in prayer. Send them your positive energy. Send them a card, flowers or a monetary donation if there is a burial or scholarship fund set up in memory of the child/children.

2. Listen To Them
Listen to the parents as they talk about their loss or memories child/children. Allow them to share their feelings with you.  Offer hugs and a pair of ears to help ease their pain.

3. Cook A Meal For Them
After such loss it is easy for parents to be overwhelmed.  Offering and preparing a simple meal can help them with self-care and will provide them with the nutrition they will need to deal with their loss.

4. Invite Them Out To An Activity
Invitations to get out of the house will probably be declined but keep asking!  The goal is to get them out to participate in an activity, preferably an adult activity without children present.  Invite them to your home for cards or a board game. Ask to meet them at a coffee shop, or ask them to take a walk with you at a park.  Keep asking them, don’t barrage them but ask them at least once a week.

5. Plant a Tree in Memory of the Child
Call the Arbor Society or visit http://www.arborday.org and pay to plant a tree in honor of the child.

6. Make a Donation
Donate to a local school that they attended, a charity that helps children, or the Pediatrics Department at the local hospital in honor of the child/children. In these tight budget times, donations are needed and what better way to honor the family than to remember their child by helping another child.

7. Ask them, “How Can I Help You?”
Ask them if they need you to do anything specific for them. Tell them that you want to help them.

8. Speak Out For Children!
Become an advocate for children.  Speak out against community violence, talk about children’s diseases or become an advocate for change to protect and enhance the lives of children.

9. Offer Resources To Help the Parents, Family and Community to Heal.
Attend a grief support meeting with your friend.  Ask a grief counselor to meet with the family or community if necessary so that people can begin to process their feelings.  This is really helpful when children die after long illnesses or under violent circumstances. Children touch a community and sometimes it’s the community that needs to heal.

10. Just be there for them.
Finally, I say it’s just so important to just be there for the parents.  Let them know that they are not alone. Let them know that they are lived and cared for.  Let them know that YOU are there and you share their loss.

If you know someone who has lost a child or children please be present for them and comfort them as best you can. You may feel there is nothing you can do for them, but being there for them can and often does mean the world to them and it can truly help them begin to heal.

New children after the loss of a child /children, is a blessing but it is never a replacement of those who are gone. This article was written because I am feeling the need to give a special thanks to those who’ve helped and a wonderful Congratulations to my friend Lani and her hubby and the impending birth of their child after losing their child.  I know Silas is watching over his sibling from heaven.

Song of the Week — YES by Musiq Soulchild

Music has the power transcend you from your current mood and transport you to a magical place or carry you away to a great memory from your past.  Music’s influence and power are so profound in my life that I am truly honored to pay homage to the songs that have influenced me, carry me through difficult time or plain just make me forget my age and make me shake my tail-feather!

Enjoy as I begin to take you on an eclectic musical journey.

Love,

Sammie

I just saw this video this morning and I was absolutely floored! I always loved the song but seeing this video through the eyes of a woman who has lived with cancer — it is just mind-blowing.

The intimate relationship between partners dramatically shifts once cancer enters the picture. It is not just a journey for the woman with breast cancer, it affects everyone surrounding her — but most especially her partner who usually silently struggles with her while battling their own fears, insecurities, feelings of loss and uncertainty. Some relationships don’t survive cancer but for those that do, it is truly a blessing to know “The answer is yes, I’ll still think you’re beautiful…”

“Yes” Lyrics by Musiq Soulchild

Let me get this out the way
so there ain’t no complications
later on for us, no
Look, I know things don’t stay the same
People grow and seasons change, but
when it comes to love
don’t you feel like
you ever gotta worry about
my feelings changing for you all the time
’cause when I say I’m here
girl, I mean it.

So when the world and the odds are against us
you won’t have to question,
The answer is yes.

When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes.
I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess,
The answer is yes.

‘Cause I love you
All I care about is your happiness,
so the answer is yes.

People just don’t stick around (no)
build you up and let you down, but
I’m not one of those, no (girl)
I understand that you’ve been burned (before)
Honesty is what you deserve (so much more) yea
and so that’s what I’m giving you, girl.

So when the world and the odds are against us
you won’t have to question,
The answer is yes
When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes.

I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess,
The answer is yes.

Now, if you ask
will I go (no)
when you need me most (no)
the answer is no
I’m dedicated to what we have
but will I be here
the way that I promise
I’ll say with no fear
The answer is yes.

When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes, and
I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess,
The answer is yes.

When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes
I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess
The answer is yes.

As featured in MomMagazine.ca

After forty-two years I am finally comfortable enough with my life’s experiences to embrace all of my scars. Scars that hurt me to the core of my being to remind me of what has happened or what could have been.

There are two types of scars. Those that are visible and those intangible scars that live within me but are hidden from public view. It is these type of scars that could have mentally crippled me for my lifetime or help me to form who I have become.

My life has been tragic to some or triumphant to those who know my story. It has not been easy but no one ever said it would be! I battle with my feelings and emotions everyday but at the end of each day I know that my scars are my testimony that I am a cancer and rape survivor.

At the age of forty-one, my left breast waged war against me. The same breast that nurtured and nourished my three children planned a coup d’etat to overtake me. An irregular mammogram required me to take a second mammogram, which revealed a calcification and a suspicious mass that required me to have a surgical biopsy. Upon selecting my surgeon and meeting with him, I informed him that I wanted any and all suspected masses removed from my body. On the date of my surgical biopsy, I awoke to discover that a lumpectomy had been performed. I was relieved to have the surgery completed but I truly was not mentally prepared for what that actually meant. I had gone into surgery prepared to have a small circular scar from a needle aspiration and awoke with swelling and a four-inch scar across my breast. Three days later when my test results came in my surgeon called my home at 9 PM to inform me that all of my Stage One cancer had been completely removed. “Whew” I thought, “I’m glad that’s over.” But as I removed my bandages the following morning I realized that healing from this scar had not yet begun.

The visible scar on my breast was unsettling to me, and I couldn’t even imagine if I were to have lost one or both of my breasts. While I was thankful that I was okay, I cried each morning as I put on my bra. I had always loved my rack. It had been my favorite body part and my most treasured asset and now it was scarred. I became self-conscious about my clothing. I avoided all of the v-neck t-shirts and blouses I had with low plunging necklines. My husband being the amazing man that he is, looked at me no differently and loved me even more than before but I became sad and withdrawn as I suffered silently becoming angrier and angrier at my scar.

Around this time my intangible post-rape scars began to resurface. The thing about being raped is all though you learn to cope with the trauma certain things can trigger an emotional response and within seconds the mind can take you right back to that terrible experience. All of the insecurities from my past, my distorted body image, emotional eating, Post-Traumatic Stress, sexual expression and sexual repression resurfaced with a vengeance. I silently grieved my scars and suddenly I mourned for the nineteen year-old girl that I’d lost when I was raped. I mourned for my lost innocence, for my lost security and for my uninhibited desire to truly love someone with my entire being. I’d never known or felt that I lost so much until I stared at the scar on my breast, so I did what I had always been good at — I pressed on.

Faking it until I was making it.

I looked so put together. My work life was successful. My family life was doing well, but inside my scars had reopened into gigantic craters that engulfed me, and the sense of happiness and pride that I had established with therapy over 15 years ago was completely gone. I never looked in the mirror. I pulled back from hugs. Compliments all felt insincere. I couldn’t sleep. I was completely broken by my deep-seeded scars. I became mechanical. Going through the motions functioning on 2 to 3 hours of sleep and the rest of the day I ran on autopilot.

Determined to snap out of my Post Traumatic Stress funk, I pulled my copies of The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis and One Day My Soul Just Opened Up by Iyanla Vanzant back off of my bookcase and re-read them. I started journaling about my feelings, writing out my dreams, and creating short stories, blogged about my walking journey to better health and then one night when I was writing I wrote an erotic story that inspired me to reclaim my sexual power. A dear friend read it and said, “This is good.” He submitted the story to a website and within an hour, it was accepted and published as an online story. Talk about being shocked! I went to the site and set up a profile and joined a writer’s community within that site. I met an amazing group of friends. I read stories that were posted and I decided it was time to heal.

How my online life helped me heal

Accepting my scars began with a conversation with a new online friend. There’s something about the anonymity of speaking to someone online that allowed me to voice my deepest fears without self-imposed judgments. He asked me, “What do you like?” Sadly enough, I couldn’t answer! I’d become so disconnected from my own thoughts and desires.

I couldn’t answer that simple question. It wasn’t just about my hobbies; it dawned on me that wasn’t even in touch with what I wanted from my own husband in bed. I had never thought about what I WANTED! I know this sounds strange but most of my sexual “firsts” occurred during my rape. The involuntary nature and violation of it all left me in a less than adventurous state of being. There were and are things that I still do not enjoy, things that still freak me out completely and things that I have learned to love. I had discovered yet another area of my life that needed to heal and I began writing erotica to explore my desires and I began to finally connect with myself sexually.

My husbands love and support helped me to put my desires into physical actions and we made a pledge to make love everyday for ninety days. It might sound crazy but the intimacy and connections that we shared during that time is something that I will always cherish! The unconditional love that I’ve received from my husband and online friends during this difficult reawakening process has been phenomenal and so much more than I could have ever expected! My sexual re-awakening has been both a blessing in my relationship with my husband and at times a curse that required us to look long and hard at our relationship and our expectations of each other. But with the encouragement of close friends and my family, I returned to therapy to help me process some of my unspoken needs and to help mend some of my reopened wounds.

There was only one thing left for me to deal with and that was my scarred breast. So I took a shower and took a long look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t just look at my face as I had done for the last fourteen months. I looked at all of me! I sat in my bathroom and looked at my scar and reminded myself, that I am scarred but not dead and right then and there I embraced my scar! Not just that one, I decided to embrace them all! I cried and celebrated my scars as I looked at the mark on my breast.

Later that week I called my dear friend Chloe Jackman, a professional photographer (www.chloejackman.com) and I decided to reclaim my feminine power, embrace my scars, and celebrate my life by having a professional naughty girl set of portraits done for my husband. The highlight of that shoot was the photo in this article where I am embracing my scar.

I am not healed from my past but I am embarking on a new path towards a happier future, embracing my scars and enjoying who I am right now. Tomorrow is not promised and I have been given the chance to start over again! I acknowledge that everyone does not survive all that I have been through. But whether you have or have not experienced my life circumstances, I ask you to embrace your scars because they are what make you uniquely you. Reach out for help if you feel like you are sinking. You might be surprised at who is ready to help you heal.

For more exciting news about Mom’s check out MOMmagazine (www.MOMmagazine.ca)

Be brave and be well,

Sammie Love


Mending Fences — A Modern Father’s Day Tale

@2011 By Sammie Love. All Rights Reserved.

Twenty years ago as we anxiously anticipated the birth of our first-born son, we welcomed Fathers Day full of smiles. All of our hopes for the future, dreams of who our son would become and the profound love that the two of us shared were safely and warmly wrapped up in my belly. We counted the days until he would arrive. As I look back at that Father’s Day I could have never predicted the three of us would never spend a Father’s Day together. Even more unsettling than that is the fact that my son’s Dad had not spoken to us in fifteen years until very recently.

So as I sit here on this Father’s Day morn, and I find it ironic that after not speaking to the child that was loved so much from the moment of his conception, cherished from the second he was born and abandoned by the time he was two. That we (my son, his father and me) are ALL mending fences, yet this will be the first year I am calling my son’s Dad to say Happy Father’s Day. Most surprising to me I’m not just me saying the words, it’s me saying them and truly meaning them!

I have been my sons, Mother, Father, disciplinarian, and loudest cheerleader. I have worked hard and provided great male role models for him like his Papa (Grandfather), his Uncle, his Step-Father, and other male friends for him throughout his life, but at the end of the day and in spite of all my hard work I knew that my son was missing his Dad!

My son needed to connect with who he was and why he did certain things that he did. He needed to know about the other side of his family, his siblings. He needed to ask those questions that children who’d been estranged from a parent need to know and ask. He needed to know that he was wanted and loved by his Dad and his Dad was the only person that could provide those answers.

Well GOD moves in such mysterious ways and his grace and miracles never cease. He is a mover of walls, the healer of pride and the maker of humbleness. So when my now twenty year-old son informed me that HE wanted to make contact with his Dad, humbleness swept over me, my years of anger subsided, my pride dissipated and grace allowed me to write a simple email to an email address that I wasn’t even sure was still valid. The response was so quick it was mind-boggling!

It’s been a week of letters, phone calls and text messages. A week of trying to piece back together lives and trying to understand where things fell apart. Its been a week of acknowledging those people in our village that helped raise this man/child. It’s been a week of self-examination, reflection and remembering love! I’m not sure where we will all be next Father’s Day, but I hope it will be celebrated with hugs and kisses in person by these two men that are continuing to mend fences.