Road Trip to Philly

My girlfriend Christine and her family invited me and munch to Philly last month. I was so ecstatic (probably too much) that I agreed because I wasn’t driving. I was riding. Now, the disclaimer. My girlfriend has two 5-year-old twins and a 1-year-old. So, three kids of her own and munch, her husband and me. Yippee!

We mapped out our plan of things we would do:

  • We would see the Rocky Statue at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • See the Liberty Bell
  • Visit Independence Hall
  • Get cheesesteaks
  • And anything else we had time for

Everything was scheduled and my girlfriend sends me a text to say that she would be at my house by 8:30 am on Saturday. Okay, cool. I got up at 6 am to get myself together. I started cleaning, doing laundry and fixing munch breakfast. I wake him up at 7 am because it takes him 45 minutes to an hour to eat breakfast and I don’t want them to wait on us. Munch complains and says that he’s not hungry because he knows it is Saturday and I don’t usually wake him. I tell him about our trip and he gets excited and says, “I get to see the twins.” “Yep” I replied. He eats.

I get him dressed and it’s 8 am. I tell him he can go into his room and play until they arrive and begin to vacuum and fold clothes. It’s about 9:30 and I’m getting tired. I decided to shower and get dressed so that I can be ready to walk outside when they pull up. My girlfriend was texting her apologies and I told her no worries because as I told munch, “It’s 3 of them and 1 one of you. It takes a lot less time.”

She pulls up and munch and I are waiting outside. It’s now a little after 10:00 am. We hop in their beautiful mini-van and head to Philly. Philly is normally a 2 hour trip from my house. However, we made a couple of stops and didn’t get there until after 2 pm. Traffic sucked major butt. A four-hour trip for something that normally takes two hours was not a good thing.

But, the kids were good. Actively playing and my munch was working my last nerves. Her kids were awesome. Why? Because munch isn’t used to being around other children and he feels the need to tattle when he doesn’t get his way. It was a lot of tattling! Sigh.

Due to the delayed time, our first stop was to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the Rocky statue which was awesome, but the parking situation wasn’t. We parked behind the museum and paid $36.00. We didn’t know. We were truly tourists. It was so hot so we took a couple of pictures and let the kids play in the fountain across from the museum. It’s now after 3 pm and we’re all getting hungry. Christine’s friends (who live outside of Philadelphia) suggested that we go to the Reading Market Terminal for lunch. Lots of choices and good food.

We agreed and headed over there. We found a great parking lot in Chinatown for $7.00 and went to eat. By this time it was almost 4 pm and I told Christine that the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall may close at 5 pm. We were disappointed, but being parents we knew the kids had to eat first. We went in and loved it. If you’ve never been, you should definitely check it out. Lots of good food and restaurant choices plus independent shops selling everything including books, chocolate, cookies, etc. There’s even a farmer’s market inside.

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Credit Jared Kofsky/PlaceNJ.com

 

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We all ate and then decided we were exhausted. It was after 6 pm and the kids were getting antsy. So, we headed back to the car to get back down the road. But, not before we decided to head over and get our cheesesteaks from Campo’s and Sonny’s because they are a couple of stores away from each other on Market Street. I prefer Sonny’s, but suggested that they try one from each and decide which they prefer. They preferred Campo’s.

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We head back south and the kids fall asleep which brings a few minutes of peace and quiet. I love road trips and I love hanging with my girl and her family. Even though I threatened to slit my writs with a rusty nail file, I can’t imagine munch and I not having them around. Our next trip will hopefully be a camping one to Jellystone National Reserve. Before you get it twisted…it will be a log cabin with wi-fi and a waterpark for the kids. Not a tent on the ground. LOL!
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Ah the joys of parenting!

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Competing Women

I’m like that old cartoon Pinky and the Brain where every time the show ended, Pinky would ask the Brain, “Brain, what do you want to do tonight?” The Brain would always smile and say “The same thing we do every night Pinky. Try to take over the world.”

I grew up in the late 80’s and early 90’s where sisterhood seemed to go together like pop rocks and soda pop. My girls were the ones that I would whisper my secrets too, share my clothes and my dreams with. Girlfriends were essential to my development. But, something changed. Girls became competitive and we stopped wanting each other to win. We became catty women and clique-ish. What happened to this sisterhood? Was it just a part of “getting older”?

Early on, I learned to realize the true meaning of a friend. It was at the precious age of 13, when I commented to my girlfriend that I was jealous of another girl in our class. She was prettier, thinner and all the boys seemed to like her. My girl replied (in her 13 year old logic), “There is never reason to be jealous of another person. No one has something you can’t get on your own.” I loved that. True, simple and to the point. That has been one of my guiding principles. Making sure to never be jealous of anyone else, much less my girlfriends who provide a circle of love around me.

That guiding principle never sheltered me from the fact that there were and will always be “mean girls”, but when did the mean girls become the norm? Has the evolution of social media allowed the “nice girls” an opportunity to come out of their shell and display their true characteristics? Over the years women have gained an independent and competitive nature when it comes to dealing with each other. That nature is seemingly disintegrating the bonds of sisterhood. We are no longer concerned about making it collectively, but rather individually. How many times have you looked in on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or read the latest social media posting about women and their catty comments? There are all kinds of memes dedicated to disrespecting women, like this one here:

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Women have become back bitters and cunning in our desire to destroy each other. Oftentimes it is over a male. Think back to your high school years when girls would use passive/aggressive techniques to try to win the eye of a particular boy. What about the fights that broke out at school over boys? What about the “slut shaming” women do to each other now? How many times have women created rumors to try and demean and demoralize other women? The advancement of social technology has allowed the anonymity of girls who just want to be mean. But why the competition?

In a New York Times article, John Tierney said “intrasexual competition” is the most important factor explaining the pressures that young women feel to meet standards of sexual conduct and physical appearance.

So, women are pressured and that allows us to react as such? Isn’t pressure just a part of life? Why do we continue to drive a wedge between each other in hopes of getting noticed? I don’t buy it. Are we really that desperate that we don’t realize the fundamental truth that we are only in competition with ourselves? Why are you trying to compete with other women? Compete against yourself to be the best you that you can be. Learn like I did, “No one has something you can’t get on your own.” Hard work, dedication, determination and drive are words that should be placed in your own mental vocabulary and applied to your own quest for world domination.

Last year, my niece was a victim of the “mean girl” mentality when she was three way called and said something about another girl. My sister told her that it was her fault and that she was wrong because she shouldn’t have said anything about anyone on the telephone that you wouldn’t have said in person. My niece was hurt and my sister said, “You can’t trust females”. I was mortified. I told my sister that you can’t tell her that. You can’t tell her not to trust women. Women are the backbone of this society and your girlfriends are your biggest supporters. I simply told my niece that you have to be selective in the women that you allow in your circle, but friendships take time to develop. Observe and evaluate a person’s true motive and understand that EVERYONE has an agenda. Your charge is to find out if it is FOR YOU or AGAINST YOU.

But, I questioned whether or not I was hurting or helping her with my advice? I have been the recipient of friendship from some incredible women. We laugh, cry, drink and share. It’s a bond that has evolved over time. We are there for each other and they encourage and listen to me. There is no jealousy, envy or hate towards our success. There is no competition. Just acceptance. Whether it be “My marriage is ending, I need some advice? to “OMG, Infertility treatments worked! I’m pregnant!” They have been the rock in which I’ve leaned and relied on. Good times and bad they are the reason that I’m not in a mental institution now. Love. They love me and I love them. So, truth: We need each other. We need our girlfriends. Stop competing and start developing sound friendships.

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Understanding and Accepting Yourself

“Don’t let anything stand in the way of you claiming and manifesting the life that you choose rather than the life you have by default.” – Joy Page

I came across this quote while doing research on a speech for Toastmasters. I thought that it was deep and insightful. I started thinking about myself and my friends. I started thinking about our relationships with each other and our relationships with ourselves and I wondered: How many times have I watched someone I love going down the wrong path and felt helpless to do something? How many times have I seen people blame the product of their environment or their generational curses on their situation instead of claiming their destiny?

One of the things that I have learned on my Christian journey is that the God I serve is an all encompassing, loving and enlightening God. He wants me to be the best me I can be and He will always be there. My situations and/or circumstances don’t define me. I am just going through my storms. I have suffered and seen many horrific things in my 36 years on this Earth, but I know who I am and I claim my destiny. I am a survivor. That is what I want each of you to do. Claim your destiny. Find out who you are so that you can claim the life you want instead of living the life you are by default. So what if your car gets repossessed because you lost your job! So what if your house gets foreclosed on because you got a bad mortgage loan and you have medical expenses you can’t pay! So what?

Understand this…The God you serve is an Almighty God! He will not forsake you. The same God that got you that house, will get you another one. The same God that got you that car will get you another one. I had a friend tell me a long time ago that her husband had lost his job and they couldn’t pay their car note. They were barely able to keep food on the table and the roof over their head. She said that the Repo men came late one night to get the car. She said she opened the door and said, “Here are the keys.” She said I didn’t hide the car at my friends or family’s house. She said, “I knew I couldn’t pay the bill so, I let it go.” She said she knew her faith was strong and that God will provide. He did.

She let that car go. The car was material. How many of us are holding on to the materialistic things in our lives trying to project an image when our insides are “tore up from the floor up”?But what are you going to do? Are you going to put on a mask for the world including those that love you? Are you going to deny that you are not hurting when everything around you seems to be falling apart? Don’t you know that I care? It’s like that song “Lean on me” by Bill Withers:

Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you don’t let show

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Part of being friends is to let your friends know if you need help. If you don’t feel comfortable telling me your business, answer this are we truly friends? Maybe we’re just associates. I can’t help you if you won’t let me in. I can’t be the friend you need if you put up a wall and act like your world is perfect. Trust that by understanding and accepting yourself for who you are and what you want you become a survivor and no longer a victim.