I would like to preface this post with an apology. As someone who is committed to offering a different perspective in order to aid others in development and growth, sometimes I struggle with actually opening up to my community about my own journey and experiences. The majority of this blog has been more of a call-to-action rather than a personal, inner-reflective styled form of prose, and as someone who lives to make connections, I am setting an intention to connect even more with my community by allowing you to get a deeper sense of my background, daily experiences, and even my own struggles as a human being.
The majority of my family resides in the Midwest, so in May, I was able to travel back to Columbus, Ohio to visit my mother where I was also reunited with other relatives who traveled up to celebrate my niece’s 7th birthday. This goes without mentioning, but it is absolutely amazing to be with my family considering the fact that I’m rather distantly estranged being 3,000 miles away from my loved ones.
This was a week of total, pure, unbridled nostalgia, down to eating at my favorite pizza joint, to watching my favorite SNL skits with my family. Dance parties in the basement, and singing at the top of my lungs to Frozen’s epic theme song “Let It Go” with my niece Kaylyn (yes, I know all the words to this song, no shame).
I was able to walk down my favorite street in Downtown Columbus; visit my favorite ice-cream parlor (okay, this happened daily but who’s counting); double-date with my sister and her partner, who I dragged to one of my favorite little tavern bar from my college days; and since I traveled with my dog Parker, I even witnessed him chase two kids around the neighborhood and as I type this, I’m LITERALLY laughing out loud (no children were harmed, just terrified and probably scarred for life).
My partner Vince was also able to travel with me so this trip was even more meaningful to me in the sense that I was able to share with him a glimpse of some of the most important years of my life, my 4 years studying at The Ohio State University. Walking around campus reminiscing where I used to live, locating the bench where I sat crying my eyes out over some lame boy whose name I can’t even recall, passing by academic halls where I felt most inspired and even just simply admiring the extraordinary architecture of my beautiful campus. These were all moments relived, experienced in a new light and appreciated even more. The photo above is actually me in the midst of deep thought and reflection, or at least that’s what I want you to believe, while walking around campus with Vince.
Although this synopsis sounds like a trailer to an up and coming dramedy with daisies and rainbows, there were more elements to my time in Columbus that presented their own challenges.
When I arrived in Columbus, My mother picked me up from the airport and while we were catching up, she mentioned that her company had announced a series of major layoffs were to soon be occurring, with the first being that Thursday–literally two days away from the announcement she received that day. Listening to my mother, I could hear the anxiety and distress in her voice and she openly expressed that in her heart, she felt that this was her time and that Thursday would be her time to go. (I must also add that my mother’s company had been notoriously laying people off for a good 5 years, so it wasn’t a terribly shocking announcement, but nonetheless, still a major event to process, especially just 2 days prior to their first series of cuts).
Being the person I am, of course I kept telling her to be positive, to attract a positive outcome, and all of that super inspirational, motivational way of thinking that I generally empower others to apply to their lives. Behind forced positivity and my facade of a smile, in the back of mind, I was overridden with anxiety and fear for the sake of my mother, and behind every positive statement, I would reflect, “but, what if she does lose her job?”
Thursday morning arrives, as does resolution, and at 8:53AM, my mother received notice that she would no longer be employed. This is a situation that I empathized with on so many levels, since two years ago, I was also let go from a job and that experience, although in hindsight has shaped me to new heights, in the moment, was one of the most difficult experiences I’ve encountered to date.
Of all times to be with my mother, I am so thankful that my travel aligned with the plans of the Universe and although I can’t really explain why my mother’s job loss invoked such a visceral reaction for me, I will say that even after all the festivities and shared experiences with my loved ones, after returning home to San Diego I was still haunted by this and grieving for my mother. Just as parent’s attempt to do everything in their power to ensure that their child is protected, I have the same intuitive instinct to safeguard my mother of harm, stress, and pain. We are all impacted by our parents, and yes, we all believe that we have the best mother in the world, so I realize I’m not the exception here, but, I will state that my mother is rather remarkable, and even just witnessing how she responded to this situation was inspiring.
Imagine a tiny, little Ms. Robinson who was born in a small town in Alabama, who was born in 1959 and experienced the heat of the Civil Rights Movement, witnessed the Freedom Riders, and had to overcome the hurdle of discrimination and racism. Fast forward to my mother going off to college where she graduated from University of Alabama (ROLL TIDE!) and was the only woman–African-American at that–to graduate in her class with a degree in Engineering. Now, envision this fierce, strong, educated woman who was able to prove the stereotype wrong, make something of herself, score a job with one of the largest telecommunication companies, continually grow, become promoted, and maintain a career with the same company for 34 years.
I had the pleasure of coaching my mother in the beginning of the year and when I asked her about what her mission statement or mantra is if you will, she said to me, “all is well.” And even in the midst of losing her job, being shaken with such an unanticipated major event, she still had a smile on her face and claimed just that by proclaiming, all is well. Instead of allowing this situation to break her, or throw the woe is me campaign, she thoughtfully reflected on her accomplishments and all that she achieved by essentially being a single-parent mom, raising two insane daughters, instilling us both with values of independence and authenticity and seeing us blossom into strong and powerful women, with a striking resemblance of her own strength and honor.
She’s provided for us in bountiful ways, paved roads for us long before we could ever conceive needing to use them, planned for our future when all we saw was our present, saved us when we’ve faltered, mended us where we’ve been broken, and has always been our voice of reasoning when our own voices were mute.
She’s taught us to forgive when our hearts were heavy, to be compassionate when our hearts were wounded, and to surrender when our hearts were weary. We’ve been fortunate enough to travel all over the world, dive into other cultures, see life through another perspective without ever forgetting where we come from, relocate together and start all over again, and not only commune and celebrate together, but celebrate each other, intrinsically.
When I asked my mother if I could share this experience, she agreed but with the terms of ensuring that I would shed light on her legacy and celebrations, and I hope that I delivered. My mother has always, always said to me in times of sorrow to let go and let God, and because throughout my entire life I’ve seen her let go and trust in our higher power to guide her, I know just how powerful letting go is. And often times, when we do, our biggest blessings arrive regardless of the disorder and suffering prior.
Darryn K. Robinson, CWC
be + LIFTED Wellness Coaching
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