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**The Road To 27** Post 5 of 7 – Health

I know health is an awkward thing to reflect on the week of your birthday, but hey, it’s something that’s important to me!

From the second I was conceived, I battled and fought to have a healthy life. When my mom was in her last trimester, doctors could see that something “wasn’t right” with me. In the eighties, technology wasn’t as advanced as it is now, so basically all they could do was speculate.

On the day of my birth, it was discovered that I had a massive brain tumor that prevented a large portion of my skull from forming. To make things even more perplexing, I was the first case in US history to have a brain tumor connected to ANOTHER arachnoid cyst, which rested in my throat. Doctors were flown in from overseas and it was predicted that IF I survived the first day or so, I would be nothing more than a common vegetable. After not being able to even HOLD me after I was birthed, those doctors sat there and told my parents (as I lie in the UNC Chapel Hill Hospital NICU) that I would never walk, I would never learn to speak, and that I would never to be able to do anything more than stare up as they faced a lifetime of changing, feeding, and cleaning me. Can you IMAGINE how that felt?!

Needless to say, I’m here typing this blog, so OBVIOUSLY God had much better plans for me! I am so thankful for praying parents and family!

As I grew, I was in and out of the hospital for check ups, maintenance, and a few other minor things (given the enormity of my first diagnosis) — but other than a few tussles with asthma, I was as good as gold!

One thing always rested heavily on my mind though….would I be healthy enough to ever have my OWN children?

DAY 5

If you have met me over the past 10 years, you would probably think of me as a head strong, determined, career oriented, “I can do bad all by myself” type person. The truth is, that’s not at all who I am. My number one goal/desire in life (and always have been) was to be a wife and mother (emphasis on the mother part). I am still striving daily to advance in life and excel in a career that makes me happy, but it doesn’t take the place of family. To be honest, I am totally find with being a housewife and working from home if it means I can spend more time with my future kids. One issue with that according to my neonatal surgeons…. is that the shunt doctors wired throughout my body runs through the entire length of my torso — thus on paper, make it risky to carry a baby.

Let me stop right here and say that though I’ve battled suppressing these negative thoughts throughout life, I have learned to lean on God in faith through Jesus Christ my Savior who made it possible for me to even come to God’s majestic throne and ASK for a miracle. So whatever God’s will for my life is, I believe wholeheartedly, that it will include me being a mother SOME WAY, some how. Ok…now back to the reflection…

Toxic thoughts began to knock at the doors of my mind at an early age saying “Who is going to marry someone who needs so much medical care?” and “What man will want a woman who can’t bare children?” and “If you want someone, you’ll have to settle.”, and “You might as well just cope with being single forever, because it isn’t medically possible or safe for you to have your own children.” — the lies continued on and on.

Up until my first year out of college, I was able to keep thinking positive as I rose above those negative thoughts and denied them access into my psyche. But after a brief bout will illness in 2011, these thoughts exploded back onto the scene with a vengeance. I would literally sit in my room and cry….just cry. All those terrible “doctor’s predictions” came knocking louder as anger tried to rest in my heart as I witnessed these hoodrat chicks (just being real here folks) and TODDLERS pop out babies they didn’t take care of or didn’t even really want. I even found myself getting upset at some of my friends who’d had babies out of wedlock — because here they were venting to me about the struggles of having a child, when I would GLADLY take on that struggle if it meant being a wife and a mother. (those feelings are now gone by the way)

It’s taken some years, but now — here upon year 27 — I’m on the path to continued healthy living! Emotionally and physically. I am trying to keep my weight down…I’m adopting new exercise plans…and I’m focusing on healthy eating. I have now resolved those emotional issues that once plagued me (and work at it daily), I haven’t had any serious health problems (and I don’t plan to) and most importantly, I realize that whatever man I marry will have to accept me for my past, where I am in my present, and be willing to create a future together with me — however and whenever we are blessed with our children.  ❤

#NawlinsJoc

Photo shot and edited by Rich Griffis (www.richgriffis.com)

[photo by Rich Griffis ]

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**The Road To 27** Post 4 of 7 – Family

Family —

….can’t live with em, can’t live without ’em!

I hear this statement used so often — but it’s really SO true to life!

I’d have to say that my family is an integral part in how I was able to turn out so good thus far (no glory, just truth). If I didn’t have the support of so many family members over the years, I’d probably be in a psych ward locked up in chains somewhere. Serious stuff!

Even though there are probably millions of cousins and distant relatives I have no clue exist, I can still feel their love.

Though I may be awkward at expressing it sometimes, and don’t call for long talks about everything, what I want my family to know is that I don’t love them any less. Growing up, I always depended on my parents to drive me to family gatherings and take me to visit relatives. I also depended on my parents to do all the calling and deciding on whether they were going to “let me speak during the phone call for a few hot seconds” — so as I grew older, I never developed that “call” bug. I am the only one on BOTH sides of my family who grew up in Wilson — so I never had cousins to really play with like the rest of my family. AND on top of that, I didn’t have any brothers or sisters younger than me (my sister is much older than me) so I didn’t have anyone my age in my family that I could really exercise those habits with.

DAY 4

Now that I’m older, I tend to shy away from phone calls and revel in face-to-face interaction. The problem with that now is that we all live so far away and our schedules collide! I literally have like 5 days off for vacation, and I have to pick and choose who to visit. It’s not ideal, but I’m figuring things out!

With me being a single, black woman, I’m very aware of the dangers that could present themselves while traveling alone; so that’s another thing that I have been figuring out. But nevertheless….I feel the warmth and love from my family and I want them to know that I love them and am inspired by EACH of their stories every day! Whether good or bad — I learn something from it.

I first realized how much of a treasure family is when my first few grandparents passed away. It hit me, that all of the time I was waiting on my parents to take me to see them or call them — I passed up on precious memories that we could’ve been creating. Now that I’m on the brink of experiencing year 27, I am going to continue to focus on nurturing my relationships with my sister and her family, my grandma, aunts and uncles, cousins, and godfamily too! Near and far, I’m striving daily to be a better ** insert the ____________**

#NawlinsJoc

Photo shot and edited by Rich Griffis (www.richgriffis.com)

[photo by Rich Griffis ]

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