A very thankful woman at forty

j0402579 Thanksgiving week is here! Thanksgiving ushers in my favorite time of the year. The sights, smells and sounds of fall and winter bring back fond memories of growing up in the north with the falling autumn leaves turning to freshly fallen snow as the days got colder.  I remember raking mountains of leaves in the back yard with my sisters and diving into the freshly formed piles. Our lives seemed much simpler then.

Now, even in the midst of a world wide economic crisis, national healthcare debates and unspeakable crimes in the news, there’s still something about this season that gives me hope and joy.  The season ushers in a time when we increase our efforts at feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless and bringing a smile on the faces of children all over the world. When I see how millions of people, all over the world, reach deep into pockets that are emptier than they were in years past, it reminds me that at our core, we can be divinely human, and I am eternally thankful for that.

I’m also thankful that I live in a country where I’m free to openly express my faith without persecution. I’m grateful that I live in a country where as a woman I, at least on paper, have as many rights as a man. I’m grateful for a seemingly endless supply of books and knowledge that I have at my fingertips via the Internet or my local Barnes and Noble. I’m thankful that my parents made me read newspapers and do reports in the summer when I was a kid, so that I could consume information about the world around me. I’m grateful for nearly forty years of making mistakes, and being smarter and stronger for having made them.

What are you most thankful for this season? Share your thoughts in the comment section, or on our Facebook fan page. You can also catch updates on Twitter @womenatforty.

You’ve come a long way baby: Rachel sends a message to her mini me…

Rachel and Roland I shared my letter to my former self, now Rachel shares hers…

  1. Older brothers, although loud, sweaty and annoying, will protect your honor, pave the way for you with your parents and one day become the men of whom you are more proud than you can express.
  2. When your grandparents smother you with kisses and hugs and fawn all over you… When your maternal grandmother crochets sweaters, scarves and blankets for you and your paternal grandmother teaches you to bake coconut cakes and takes you shopping at Bamberger’s… When your grandpa takes you fishing on the Vineyard and your Pop introduces you to the music of Miles Davis, Benny Goodman and Dave Brubeck… When they tell you the stories of your familial history and remind you how important it is to act with integrity and the value of your reputation—CHERISH those moments! You’ll find those moments comforting for the rest of your life and you will be eternally grateful for having had the privilege of knowing such interesting and honorable people.
  3. Define yourself; don’t let others do it for you. I assure you that in 10, 15, 20 years and beyond, you won’t really care who thinks you aren’t black enough or that you talk too properly or that you must be stuck-up because you don’t want to go to the party. In your 30s, you will not remember their names—until they request to friend you on Facebook and you end up having to de-friend them or put them on privacy lock-down because they are entirely too interested in the minutia of your life.
  4. Enjoy carefree summers on Fire Island or the Vineyard while you can! Soon, between global warming, UV rays and obnoxious tourists, the summer sanctuary of your childhood will become a very, very different place. Enjoy digging for sand crabs and poking jellyfish with a stick as they will become stories of legend you will tell your children, nieces and nephews.
  5. Know the difference between friends and acquaintances. Acquaintances are people you know, you speak to regularly and you hang out with occasionally. Friends are people who know you—warts and all. You might speak to them regularly, but even if you don’t, you pick up where you left off as though no time has passed. Every truly great time in your life included or was the result of one of your true friends. Oh—VERY important: relatives can be some of your best friends ever. Continue reading You’ve come a long way baby: Rachel sends a message to her mini me…

You’ve come a long way baby: 20 things I’d tell you now

baby grace cropped 20 things you need to know – Hey you, standing over there looking tough and cute the way little girls often do, it’s me, well you – in about 36 years. Some things haven’t changed much. With the exception of the ribbon, your hair looked a lot like that this morning, and that stance, you still got that. You often have that same ‘four parts curiosity, one part ‘what the hell are you looking at”  look on your face even at this age – And the legs…well, like I said, some things haven’t changed much.

I wish I could protect you from, and prepare you for all that lies ahead, but I can’t. No one can really. But what I can do is share some things that only I’ll be able to. Some people think the past, present and future are all happening at once, so who knows. I know you won’t understand everything I’m saying, but take notes, you’ll need them.

  1. Some of the people in your life will disappoint you, lie to you, hurt you. Some of them are just stupid. Others are just evil. Forgive them all, stupid and evil alike, and move on. Remember what they did and learn from it. Don’t hold what they’ve done to you against anyone else.
  2. That thing you want to do with your hair in the eighties. Don’t. You leave dozens of grease spots up and down the east coast because of it, and Chris Rock will mock it mercilessly in a documentary he releases in 2009.
  3. Try to get that eating thing under control early – believe me, you’ll be fighting that battle for years. In the meantime, live your life and do the things you want to do, regardless of what the scale says.
  4. You’re going to have several really great ideas for businesses. Instead of talking yourself out of it, just do it. You are smarter, stronger and more resilient than you know.
  5. You know how they said it would be too difficult to be a successful, black, female journalist? Oprah’s like the richest person on the planet now. Seriously. Don’t listen to them. Continue reading You’ve come a long way baby: 20 things I’d tell you now