Contrary to popular belief, I believe that we are all born free birds desperately seeking a flock to belong to. Now, from the moment that we are born, we are taught that we belong to a family that is comprised of people that look like us, share common experiences, and more importantly, share the same last name. We are taught that family is all that we both have and need, and most importantly, everything that we do should be for family. To some degree, I believe that. However, parts of me do not. As I have written, I have begun to heal, forgive, and grow. In my process of healing, forgiving, and growing, I have also revised my understanding of family. As an educator, I have had the privilege of serving thousands of students throughout my career. As one often says, unfortunately, some of those students were in foster care. Sad story right? WRONG! I have personally witnessed foster families bond in a way that I’ve never seen blood relations bond. They were there for each other, they were supportive, and most importantly, they shared love. At times, witnessing this really moved me. I say all of that to say this; sometimes family is where, and with whom, you decide to make it. I have quite a few brothers and sisters, and I promise you, we are all very different. Me, I’m the emotional one. I am my mother’s son. That’s a badge of honor that I wear proudly. As a child, I was always plagued by what I couldn’t do. Even though I’m tall, I’ve never been great at basketball. Even though I’m fit, I’ve never really been good at football. I have little, to no interest in shallow ideas, things, or people. Here’s the problem, when I was growing up, it seemed that in order to be accepted, I needed to be both interested and good in the things that I wasn’t. It was tough. As I grew older, I grew open to the possibility of changing my perspectives. As I tried to change, the more I felt different. I grew tired of trying to fit in because the metaphorical boxes that didn’t fit left scars on my soul that I am still recovering from to this day. Today, I find myself emotionally incapable of settling for anything that doesn’t feel good to my soul. I won’t accept a love that feels less wonderful than my favorite pair of slippers. I won’t accept passion that doesn’t taste as sweet as my favorite donut that’s too rich to be consumed regularly. I won’t accept friendships that don’t satisfy my soul as wonderfully as chunky chicken noodle soup with far too much chicken and broth. More importantly, I will never accept living as anyone else other than me. When your mind, like Scarface said in his song, begins to play tricks on you, don’t listen; trust. Trust that your soul knows exactly what it wants. Once you’ve had what your soul seeks, it is very difficult to be fooled by a placebo. You know the difference, and so does your soul. Today, my flock is multi-faceted and quite diverse. While we don’t all share the same name, let it be known in no uncertain terms that we are family. I couldn’t imagine my life without them. For those of you that are reading this post right now, we are family. Without you, at times, I would feel as though I had no one to talk to. I want you to really ponder what I said earlier on in this post; never settle for less than what feels good to your soul. Your soul knows what it wants and needs. Even if it hurts a little bit when you’re fighting for it, I promise you, it’s worth it. Trust and Believe. Patrick
As always, this week, please do something for someone else other than yourself for no reason at all other than to make their lives better. Also, if you help someone during this holiday season because life has been challenging for them, imagine one of the worst moments in your life being documented on someone’s social media page as a means of loving themselves through your pain. If you help them, don’t take pictures. Take a chance and let hope and love in. If you make it to where you’re going, please don’t forget to leave a map for the rest of us. Always Choose Love.