What Kenny Rogers Taught Me About When To “Say Uncle”

By: Roshanda Pratt

RoshandaRemember when you were a little kid wrestling with your brother or sister? If you were like me, you were probably the one in agony on the bottom while your sister tried out the new moves she learned from G.L.O.W. (Glorious Ladies of Wrestling). It never failed; my sister would have me a “Nelson hold” while I worked tirelessly to maneuver out. Unfortunately, being the smaller sibling, I had to wave the white flag and scream out, “Uncle.”  I hated admitting defeat. My sister, on the other hand, relished in it.

There is something about the idiom “say uncle” that makes one feel like a wimp or a quitter.  Why is it that women seem to have difficulty with surrender?  I blame Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind” with her damsel in distress drama or maybe I should blame the bra burning movement with their mantra, “I am women hear me roar.”

Surrender, as defined in the 1828 Noah Webster dictionary, means “to yield to the power of another; to give or deliver up possession upon compulsion or demand.” Let us focus for a moment on the first definition, “to yield to the power of another.” I would interpret that to mean the one who surrenders is the one receiving the greatest benefit. Let’s consider my beginning example.  My sister had me in a half nelson choke hold. I fought for as long as I could and finally decided to “surrender” my will in order to give her some “brief” power.

In my life, I have realized that “saying uncle” does not have to be such a bad thing. I learned the art of surrender as a college student embarking on the adventure of forgiveness. I learned how to surrender when it came to marrying my college love. I learned the beauty of surrender when my face was in a toilet dealing with morning sickness with my first child.

And, as I type this, I am again screaming “uncle.” Last year, I took the plunge into business ownership, starting a media consulting business.  The first year had lots of success, but there was also failure. Recently, I was brought on as a media consultant for a new business endeavor with other professionals.  The workload has increased, but I am having a great time being able to control my own schedule.  However, at the same time my schedule was becoming hectic, forming me to work late into the night trying to meet deadlines and projects.

One night, as I struggled to write a blog post, I realized I was again on that imaginary mat, pinned to the ground but refusing to surrender.  I needed to “say uncle.” That decision came recently when I submitted my “resignation” to the Every Woman Blog. I have enjoyed what I like to call my online “diary” community for the past two years. But, as the famous song goes, “Now it’s time to say goodbye to all our company…” I have enjoyed this experience, the friendships I have made with fellow bloggers, and the chance to connect with all of the readers. But, I must surrender.

As I typed my resignation letter, I disliked every bit of it, but knew it needed to be done. I had been taking a gamble for a long time and I had to look at my hand and stop “bluffing” with my life. The wonderful team at the Every Woman blog was supportive about my decision and left the door open for me to guest post. I was extremely grateful because this experience has been amazing!

Life is a series of wrestling bouts where someone has to “Say Uncle.” As women, I think we have to learn how to be okay with walking away, surrendering for something better or just to gain some priority in our lives. Doing so does not mean you are quitter, it just means you are smart enough to know when something is no longer working or you are no longer giving your best!

In the words of Kenny Rogers, “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.”

So my dear friends, what do you need to surrender or “say uncle” to? And why have you not done it yet?

I won’t say goodbye. Instead, I will say see you soon!

The WRITE Thing to Do

By: Roshanda Pratt

I’ve been told that I have good penmanship. I should, after spending hours in my elementary years crafting the spelling of a very long name – 16 letters to be exact! I am from the old school. No smart board, just chalkboards where teachers had to draw the lines. No Internet, just the Encyclopedia Britannica. And no iPads, just old-fashioned, khaki-colored paper to practice writing your name.  I come from the simpler times in education. Wow! I sound like my parents. I should probably tell you I owned Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album.  (For all my 90s babies, records are what came before CD’s.)

Cursive

In my generation, handwriting was important. It was mandatory. Recently, there is a lot of talk about eliminating cursive writing from the curriculum while still teaching children keyboard proficiency. In South Carolina, lawmakers are trying to ink a bill that would call for instruction in cursive writing. Surprisingly, people want to know why?

As a parent, I very much want my children to learn cursive handwriting. In the adult world we are told to print and sign our name. Your signature is your own, unique blueprint – your identification. Have you ever looked at how people sign their name? Some use big loopy letters, while others scribble or use chicken scratch. However you do it, it’s yours and no one can mimic it, no matter how much they may try. Printing your name is simple (although we could probably debate that by looking at how some people write) while cursive handwriting requires a skill, a discipline. It shows a certain sophistication and maturity. I believe that to eradicate this skill or tradition from our children is to deny our children that unique identification.

SignatureI remember the day my teacher commended me for finally connecting my letters in my cursive handwriting. You would have thought I just signed the Declaration of Independence. But in my young mind it felt like independence. I was finally leaving the kiddie world (at least in my mind of handwriting) and joining the ranks of the “professional” adults of the world.  I often think about that teacher when signing my name. Although I receive compliments on my handwriting, my former teacher’s “rules” for writing script (as we called it) still ring in my mind decades later.

Now, will cursive writing make your child a better person overall? No, that is not my argument. But I do, think it will make them more disciplined in their work, and will possibly even give them a greater respect of their own name. Often times we rid society of traditions just because the times are changing. Traditions still have a place in our progressive society, in the proper perspective. No one can seem to give me a good reason on why we should cross off cursive writing from the classroom dynamics. I say teach it and leave it up to the child to continue in its tradition once he or she gets older.

That’s what I think. I want to hear from you? Cursive or print – which do you prefer? And do you think schools should do away with teaching cursive?

Silent, No More (Part 2): What Parents Can Do

By: Roshanda Pratt

April is Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Prevention Month. Last month, I shared with you why we cannot remain silent about this issue any longer.  Did you know that according to experts, ONLY 1 out of 10 sexually abused children will come forward and tell someone about it? This means that even your well-meaning child whom you already had a discussion with about safe and unsafe touch, might not speak to you if they become a victim of sexual assault.

As a mother of three young children, I am always rehearsing and talking with them about stranger danger, as well as the danger that could happen with the very people they know.  A scary thought, I know, but we cannot live in fear; we MUST be proactive.  Rosalyn Moses, Executive Director of the Family Resource Center trains and equips teachers, counselors, parents and children on this topic. She says we must first begin by talking to our children about sexuality and sexual abuse in age-appropriate terms. Ms. Moses says by doing so, it teaches children that it is okay to talk to you when they have questions.

Here is how the conversation should go:

  • Credit: Michal Marcol

    Credit: Michal Marcol

    Teach children the names of their body parts, not nick names, so they have the language to ask questions and express concerns about those body parts.

  • Teach children that some parts of their bodies are private.
  • Let them know people should not be touching or looking at their private parts unless they need to touch them to provide care.
  • If someone does need to touch them in those private areas, a parent or trusted caregiver should be there too.
  • Tell children that if someone tried to touch those private areas or wants to look at them, or if someone tries to show the child their own private parts, they should tell a trusted adult as soon as possible.
  • ALL children should be told that it’s okay to say “no” to touches that make them uncomfortable or if someone is touching them in ways that make them uncomfortable that they should tell a trusted adult as soon as possible.
  • Don’t try to put all this information into one big “talk” about sex.
  • Be interested in your child’s activities by asking questions about their day.
  • Talk about the media, especially if your child watches a lot of television or plays video games. Use these opportunities to start up conversations about sexuality and sexual abuse.
  • Know the other adults that your child may talk to.
  • Be available, spend time with your child and let them know they can come to you if they have questions or if someone is talking to them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Ms. Moses also adds, “When you empower your child to say ‘NO’ to unwanted touch and teach them that they can come to you with questions and concerns, you take critical steps to preventing child sexual abuse.”

As parents, the best we can ever do for our children is prepare them.  While I would hope that no child would ever have to deal with the trauma of sexual violence, it is still a dark reality. However, if we take the time to shed light on it now, we can eventually eradicate this epidemic from our community.

Want to know more? All of the statewide Child Advocacy Centers are available for training. You can locate a local CAC by visiting www.scmcac.org.  If you are a victim or need to find a rape crisis center, you can find one your area by going to www.sccadvasa.org.

Silent, No More

By: Roshanda Pratt

Before we welcome April, I want to briefly recognize International Women’s Month, which was celebrated in March.  So here is a cyber high five to all the women out there making their world more fabulous!  I also wanted to talk about a cause which overwhelmingly effects, but is not limited to, women.  According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network), every 2 minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. This means that the woman or man in front of you at the grocery store, in your office or next to you at church may have been a victim of sexual assault. The problem of sexual assault is an epidemic in our country, our state, and more specifically, our community. We have all read the headlines of a young child assaulted by a family member or friend.

According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), in 2011 more than 5-thousand victims of sexual assault in South Carolina received services from the 16 sexual assault centers across the state.  According to experts, 85% of victims know their perpetrator. And according to the SC DHEC, predators are not just the stereotypical males; female perpetrators are on the rise, victimizing both male and female children.

Credit: Michal Marcol

Credit: Michal Marcol

Sexual abuse is not just a cultural or socioeconomic problem.  It transcends all economic, geographic, race and class barriers.  Cases of abuse can be found in large and small families, in cities and in rural communities, and in homes, schools, churches and even businesses. Sexual abuse is not just something that is played out on NBC’s Law & Order. It is not just something you read about. It is happening to the people we love and we cannot afford to remain silent any longer.

There is a battle going on to protect children from sexual violence. Allies are working hard across our state to make sure the issue remains in the public eye.  One of those allies is The Family Resource Center of Kershaw and Lee Counties.  The mission of the Family Resource Center for Abuse Prevention and Counseling is two-fold:

The agency is committed to social change by raising awareness of the causes and consequences of abuse and violence in our community.  As a victim-centered organization, the Family Resource Center provides quality counseling and support services to child and adult survivors of emotional, physical and sexual trauma along with their family members.

I became a board member of The Family Resource Center last year and I have seen the importance of this agency in our community.  The Family Resource Center provides FREE services such as counseling and forensic interviews which are later used in cases to prosecute the offenders. The Center provides educational services to churches and schools on how to report and prevent abuse, rape crisis and teen prevention. Volunteers  rally for more statewide support, partner with community agencies, and leave their warm beds in the middle of the night to sit with victims at the hospital, all while dealing with an increasingly shrinking budget mostly comprised of grants.  Rosalyn Moses, the Executive Director for The Family Resource Center is a gem in the crown of protecting children.  Her passion, commitment and hard work cannot be compared. She is a champion for this cause and South Carolina is blessed to have her on its team.  Rosalyn does not just sit behind a desk. No, she is putting her feet to the ground, speaking with victims, law enforcement and anyone who has an ear about the importance of this issue.

Let’s face the reality here. This issue is not going away for a myriad of reasons which include, but are not limited to, our over-sexed society, the lack of respect for human life and the cycle of abuse that continues without people receiving the healing they so desperately need.

The Family Resource Center is important to victims as it serves as a place of refuge.  We need places like The FRC in our community. So, how can you get involved? I am so glad you asked.

  • Volunteer at a local child advocacy center.
  • Make a financial donation; either a 1 time donation, regularly, or via United Way.
  • Request for training and other education programs for your place of worship, school or agency.
  • Speak out! Tell your friends, family, and co-workers that violence against children is not tolerated. Become a champion for the cause.

I believe as a community of women it is our responsibility to be our sisters’ and yes, even our brothers’ (young boys are victims of abuse too) keepers.  We cannot remain silent. In this case silence is not golden; it is deadly. The louder the more of us speak, people will eventually have to listen.

April is Child Abuse & Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In a few weeks, I will share with parents what you need to know to prevent sexual abuse.

Confessions Of A Weepy Mom

By: Roshanda Pratt

When was the last time you cried?  I mean really shed some tears.  You know, what us gals call the “ugly cry,” the one with mascara rolling down your face, and your heart aching, the almost beating out of your chest kind of crying. The kind of crying that gives you a headache, causes your eyeballs to hurt, and is so exhausting you want to take a nap afterwards. A cry like this can be therapeutic, especially at times when there are no words to communicate the depth of your heart.  I have cried like this, not recently, but I had cause to do so.  Within the last two weeks (as if I did not already know), I have come to terms with the fact that building a business is work. As the owner, I see everything: the bills that need to be paid, the clients who are needed to pay those bills, their gripes (I have not had any real problems here) and the day-to-day workings of running a business.  I am the employee, CEO, CFO and janitor all in one.

I recently received a dose of reality that it is not for the faint at heart. About two weeks ago, I think it all came to collision.  I could feel the tears welling in my eyes and the heaviness in my heart.  First of all, I am a mom to three blessings and a wife.  Honestly, there are days I feel like the people who motivate me to build my business are on the losing end.  There are many demands between business, community service, church and just life.  I am not complaining.  My cousin once told me, “Girl, you are blessed to be busy.” And I would not have it any other way.  I knew early on I would never be that traditional June Cleaver (Matter of fact, is anyone?). However, I still want to make sure my husband and children are getting the best of me and not leftovers.  How many of you know that sometimes leftovers can leave a bad taste on the stomach?

So there I was, head on my laptop, thinking “woe is me,” as the tears began to form.  I could sense this was going to be a WHOOPER! The feeling of being overwhelmed settled in.  Feelings of wanting to quit, throwing in the towel, thinking this is just a pipe dream and lastly, “What am I doing to my family?”  Then, it happened. The first tear fell and then the second. I could feel the floodgates starting to open.  But before I could go there I had this thought:  This is just temporary.  Don’t let this moment or fleeting feeling determine the rest of your day or the rest of your life.  

Immediately, the tears dried up.  I then began to remind myself of what’s true.  Oftentimes we cry because we are replaying the negative thoughts or words in our head like a black and white film.  I had to replace what was false and remind myself what was true.  I then prayed. I mean, I was totally transparent with God about my thoughts and my feelings. Then I got up, started to clean the office and put together a plan of action.

That mini meltdown taught me something about honor. It is not the most popular word we hear in 21st Century culture. But just because it is not widely known, does not take away from its significance.  I had to get real with myself. I had not been honoring my time, my family, my spiritual commitments or my physical health.  Honor. In life, I have discovered when we are neglectful in one area, it has a tendency to run over in other areas.  I had to get back to Honor. So, I became intent on spending time with my family. I took the kids to the park and left the iPhone in the car.  I played games with the kids more often and cuddled with my husband on the couch while the phone rang. Meanwhile, I implemented a plan to also honor my business by setting a schedule and sticking to it.  Although my best intentions sometimes fall flat, I am still putting together a plan of action and that is a start!  As I continue to grow in my endeavors I am reminded of one of my favorite Bible verses:

Verse

Psalm 126:5-6 reads,Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. Though one goes along weeping, carrying bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves.”

Since my days as a student at Winthrop University, this scripture has been a balm of healing.  This scripture taught me my crying is just for a little while because in the near future, I will be shouting for joy and not rejoicing, but also carrying a harvest. Too often we become so consumed by what’s in front of us that we forget that everything is subject to change, just like the seasons.  The cold, harsh winter is saying goodbye and the newness of spring is coming. So shed some tears if you have to just for a little while, water your good seeds with your tears, and watch a harvest awaits you!

Be Encouraged.

Ro

Rose Ceremony

By: Roshanda Pratt

Rose CeremonyIf you have ever watched ABC’s The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, you are familiar with the rose ceremony. It is often filled with drama, tears, and one of the cast-offs saying something along the lines of, “He/she does not really know the people in the house. I had their best interest. I really loved them.” I have never been a fan of the show. I am really not sure how you can “love” someone you barely know. Or even tolerate spending time with someone who was with another person the night before. Just call me old fashioned, I guess. I never did like to share my crayons when I was a child.  Do you understand where I am coming from?

Today, I want to talk about one of Mama’s Losin’ It writing prompts. Here it goes:

Welcome to the most shocking rose ceremony.  Please award roses to the ten people or items in your life that you’d like to continue a relationship with?

My first rose goes to Christ, the rose of Sharon.  Today, I give Him a rose because Christ is constantly showering me with gifts. His bouquet has added a sweet spot to many of my cloudy days.  His bouquet has never died or wearied, but with each passing tear with Christ the more it blooms.

My second rose would be handed to my husband, JacobeeSeriously, this guy has patience. I am not an easy woman to live with. I have many imperfections, yet he loves me as if none of them matter.  Now, he’s not perfect either (I had to put that in there haha!). But we are perfecting imperfect together. Thank God for grace.

My third rose is handed to my three blessings, my children who keep me honest and make sure I have a daily dose of laughter.

My fourth rose goes to my parents & in-lawsAn African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and there is no truer saying as it concerns my parents and in-laws. They have been a huge support system to my husband and me. They have rearranged their own schedules so my husband and I have time to reconnect. I am eternally grateful for them.

My fifth rose is for my Pastors who are great examples of leadership, faithful stewards in their family.  They have encouraged me and my family to be 300% in all facets of life.

My sixth rose is for my extremely worn and extremely tattered sneakers.  I recently took up running and have found that these are oldies but goodies. They have proven to be more supportive than the “newbies,”  which showed me sometimes older is better. (smile)

My seventh rose is handed to old friends. You know the friends who have seen you at your worst and at your best and choose to love you anyway?

My eighth rose is awarded to Veggie Tales, a quality message communicated in a humorous way. Much of our sweet family time together has been shared singing to “Lyle the kindly Viking.” Matter of fact, even when the children are not in the car, my husband and I can be caught jamming out. Don’t tell the kids!

My ninth rose goes to my laptop, the late night companion who has helped me through many proposals, research, and yes, even social media.

My last and final rose goes to all of you who are making a difference in the world.  If no one told you today, I say thank you for making the world a beautiful garden in full bloom.

My rose ceremony ended with minimal tears. How would your rose ceremony go? Who would you give a rose to?

Roshanda