A List of Reminders for Judgemental People: Part 2

Why Be Judgemental?

As I proofread this post I realized that I am, in fact, passing judgement on judgemental people. Hypocrisy highlighted and duly noted, I’d like to share a few thoughts based on a conversation I had with a friend the other day. We basically agreed that judgment is uncomfortable, and it has a different connotation than constructive criticism. 

In yesterday’s post I listed four things I wanted judgemental people to know. Here are four more!

5. I Am Who I Am – A Valid Human Being

See, there were times growing up when I just didn’t know how to be. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin, and I was just plain different. I thought differently about the world, and how things should be, and I never quite understood why others didn’t see things the way I did. Honestly, without Mom there anymore to validate my thoughts and feelings, I was scared to death and refused to set them forth before anyone else for the fear of being judged or mislabeled. I like to fancy my teenage self as eccentric, but the others may call it strange, “standoffish”, or even weird.

I’m proud to say that I embrace all of my quirks and eccentricities today. The path I’ve taken has made me and molded me into the person I am, and I’m proud of that.  I even have my own emotional and temperamental configuration, solely based on the hand life has dealt me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to rely on my own survival skills until I understood that loving myself took precedence over pleasing others.

6. My Talents Reflect My Blessings

There hasn’t been a single thing that I wanted to learn to do that I haven’t taught myself. In each endeavor, the notions came rather quickly and I believe in using your talents before God takes them from you.

As it was, I woke up one morning eleven years ago and decided I wanted to become a photographer. I did my research, bought some equipment, And God saw that it was good. Years later I decided to become a blogger. I read up on it, opened a WordPress account, and started writing. And God saw that it was good. Now I’ve decided to become a podcaster. I’ve researched it, got some equipment, and guess what? God sees that it is good! 

However, there’s a thick pane of glass that seems to always stand between me and my talent, and my crafts manifesting themselves into something colossal. One day I pray that I will shatter that glass and walk into my destiny.

7. I’ve Grown Stronger Through The Years

Through it all though, I consider how many hours of my life I’ve spent wondering why my life had to take the path that it did. Was that time wasted, or time that was necessary in order to be able to cope? I can’t count the number of times in the past I’ve spoken these words through a free flow of tears: “Lord, what are you trying to prepare me for? How much suffering can I endure, and why so much?”

I recall some years ago always having to run my thoughts and decisions about a toxic situation by my friends and family. By the time I finished polling the masses, I couldn’t determine whether the voices in my head were mine or all of theirs. So when it came to decision time, I’d just fall back into a state of procrastination, unsure about what Joan wanted to do or should do in the situation. From that, I learned not to open myself up to judgement by over sharing so much. When you become reliant on other people’s opinions, you give them the green light to pass judgement.

8. I’m Blessed Beyond Measure

So I take much delight in the relationship I have with my teenage daughter. She loves me no matter what. So, I’m starting to see the cycle of mother-daughter love come back around in my life and hers, full circle. She reminds me that I’m silly (and that it’s okay…unless her friends are around). She reminds me that I can’t sing very well (but I do a great job if it’s a Michael Jackson song…AND I’m singing along with him). She makes it okay to laugh about things and lighten up.

As each day passes, I realize that as often as I can, I try to make her feel valid too. Her thoughts and emotions are purely hers, and as her mother, she deserves my listening ear and support…without judgement. Keeping her room clean, is a different blog post altogether. Yet, the hard work and dedication at school, church, ballet and in band is much appreciated!


A List of Reminders for Judgemental People: Part I

Why Be Judgemental?

As I proofread this post I realized that I am, in fact, passing judgement on judgemental people. Hypocrisy highlighted and duly noted, I’d like to share a few thoughts based on a conversation I had with a friend the other day. We basically agreed that judgment is uncomfortable, and it has a different connotation than constructive criticism. 
I did some looking around to find some common reasons people become judgemental in the first place. According to Jarl Forsman, three reasons a person may be judgemental are:

  1.  The individual wouldn’t tolerate the same behavior in themselves.
  2. Your friend display the same behavior that you do and aren’t aware of it, so they project their disowned behavior onto others and dislike it that way.
  3. They are envious and resent the feelings that come up so they find things wrong with others who have the things they want.

Sounds good, but here’s a list of things I want judgemental people to know:


1. I Am Not Judgemental

It seems to me that when judgemental people swoop down on others, it serves as a covert ego boost for the judge. I call BS on that! They are being judgemental in the very areas where they feel the weakest. I try to remain objective and helpful whenever someone asks for my advice. However, unless I am asked, I usually don’t lend any. For example, my daughter is a great kid, but I dare not sneer at anyone else’s child and imply that theirs isn’t just as great. I don’t want to ever see the day that I hear of such judgment being passed about mine. As it is also with life in general, I am going to serve you a bit of biblical platitude by reminding you that,

In Matthew 7:1-5, it reads:

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

In other words, stop talking about everyone else’s marriage, kids, job, social life, and whatever else I could possibly name here, when your own life is a wreck! Okay? You’re being petty.

2. You Weren’t Riding Shotgun Along My Life’s Path

We all take different a specific path to navigate through life. That path is authentically manufactured by the traveler’s experiences and circumstances. The thing that I find nearly intolerable about judgemental people  is, that if you did not travel the exact same path that someone else did to get to their present rendezvous point, then you need to dial back on the judgement. I digress. We all make judgements. It’s the kind that spews hateration and personal attacks that leave the judged feeling dejected that I’m referring to here.

3. I Am Unique and That’s a Good Thing

You are not me, and I am not you. Therefore, you will fail miserably if you try to make me become you in any way. The way I think, the way I stare off into space when in deep thought, the way I walk, the way I laugh, and the way my hair curls and coils are all qualities that God gave specifically to me and me only. I like me. In fact I like myself a lot! The main thing is as long as I like myself more than you do, then nothing else matters.

4. I Couldn’t Give Two Flips

Though I believe the once gaping wounds of bereavement and divorce are healed (for the most part), I’m always keenly aware that I’ve been battle-tested. But hasn’t everybody? It’s sometimes a conscious decision I have to make in order to take the high road, and to let things roll off my back. I handle judgemental people differently now that I’m in my 40s. I couldn’t give a fat baby’s behind about what people have to say about how I am today or where I am at this point in life. As I’m sure you can relate, I have been through the ringer, to hell and back, and I probably have yet to see the worst of it.

Regardless, I’ve done fairly well for myself. I graduated from college and graduate school. I have a good job, my health is in tact, and I don’t have a criminal record. I’ve had a great coaching career, and I’m well-respected in the instructional technology arena. There’s a roof over our heads and the bills are paid, and the dog is happy!

Click for #s 5-8 in A Few Reminders for Judgemental People: Part 2!


Ruby Jean: Gone But Not Forgotten

I received a surprising yet troubling message Monday night that Ruby Jean Wiggins, my first grade teacher passed away. Deaths always take me to my own mother’s demise and the rush of emotions I still remember vividly. This event simply signified another torn page, dog-eared in my book of childhood memories.

I remember her as Ruby Jean Mitchell. Somehow more than my other teachers at Riverview Elementary School, she had an impact on my life that still affects me today. Thursday, I raced home from work early to attend the 2:00 funeral, and along the way, my heart sank. My mind raced with thoughts and emotions about what she’d meant to all of us.

Ruby JeanI wondered if she knew how much all of her students learned from her that spanned far beyond the textbook and abacus. She taught us about positivity, personality, and perseverance. The service was held at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, totally devoid of wailing solos and humming organs. Just words about her devotion to Jehovah God.

At the end of the ceremony, I got in line and made my way around the front row to extend my condolences to the family. Her son, his wife and their young-adult son were visibly weary, but seemed to be in a good place – one of acceptance. They knew that Mrs. Mitchell lived her life like a rock star!

The last person on the row, her sister stopped me just before I tried to ease on by her. Barely knowing each other, she asked,

“Now who are you?”

“I’m one of her former students, Joan Sharpe McCullough.”

Her eyes widened, then softened as she said,

“Ah yes!”

I thought maybe Mrs. Mitchell had said something about me or something.

“She really loved all of her students,” she sighed.

I smiled and countered, “And we all loved her.”

In 1981, school and home were two very different environments for me. I loved being at school and especially in Mrs. Mitchell’s class. Home, on the other hand came with stress, with a side of sore hind parts.

I remember excelling in Social Studies and Language Arts. Conversely, I also remember going to a pull-out classroom for Mathematics. Mrs. Mitchell is probably responsible for having me assessed and identified as gifted and talented in the former subjects, and learning disabled in the latter.  Still, she never made me feel any less than excellent in class. She was awesome in every way, and we all genuinely loved her effervescent aura.

I remember the very afternoon Mom was driving my grandmother and I across town to Ms. Matilda Majette’s (affectionately known as Grandma Tilly) house on East High Street. Just meters short of the black end of the street, we noticed Mrs. Mitchell walking from the corner store back to her home. I perked up and shouted the only way a six year-old can,

“Miss Mitchell! Miss Mitchell! Ma! There’s Miss Mitchell!”

She approached the car with a smile that shined brighter than the sun.

“Hey baby,” she called to me through the driver’s side window.

Of course, I had no concept of Miss versus Mrs. What I did know, is that I thought she hung the moon and I reeled with excitement as Mom pulled the car over. I thought for sure she did it solely so that I could talk with my teacher. Instead, the two of them held an extensive conversation about somebody they both knew and various other topics.

I thought, What? Mom knows Mrs. Mitchell?

I was growing impatient, yet soaking in every bit of their banter. Finally, Mom asked the million dollar question, and it was my turn to take in some of Mrs. Mitchell’s abundant energy.

“So how’s my baby doing in school?” Mom nodded her head toward my position in the passenger side backseat.

I sat up, smiled and took a deep breath as I eagerly waited for her to tell Mom and Ma-ma how well I was doing. The car was quiet and we were all ready to catch hold and hang onto her every word.

She replied, leering alternately at both of my caregivers, without taking a breath,

“Just as busy as she can be! Won’t stay in her seat, every time I look up she’s at my desk, talks a mile a minute, asks a hundred questions after I already answered the first one, playing wild on the playground…”

I let out some high-pitched noise that was barely audible in disbelief. I tried to breathe but the shock of her words had closed my trachea almost to the point of asphyxiation. Never expecting her to say that, I was totally broadsided and felt a sense of betrayal. After all, she hadn’t indicated to me that I was all those things in class. Then again, maybe I was too busy to notice.

Mom and Ma-ma both turned and looked at me with glares that said in unison, I’m gonna tear your behind to pieces!

“Uh huh, I said I was going to tell you when I saw you,” Ruby Jean continued.

I could imagine my grandmother slowly transforming into the incredible hulk, only she didn’t turn green. Red would be a better description. I’m certain she felt completely justified in the way she disciplined me herself, after hearing the bad report.

I wanted to dissolve and seep down into the seat cushion, never to return.

What Mom said next, essentially gave Mrs. Mitchell the keys to the city.

“Well I’m going to take care of it, and if she gives you another problem, you whip her! You hear?”

I mean, I thought I was getting whipped enough for the entire first grade already! Mrs. Mitchell gladly accepted my mother’s invitation to paddle me, and began to back away from the car.

“I sure will honey! Yes indeedy! Y’all take care now,” she said in her southern belle dialect as she strutted across the street.

Ma-ma immediately turned around and almost hurt herself trying to beat me from the front seat, and she didn’t stop from the time we crossed over Highway 11 until we got to Grandma Tilly’s house.

Looking back, the kind of discipline that Mrs. Mitchell would go on to give me in school was all love. Although she totally sold me out that day in town, she cared for me in class from then through the end of the school year. I don’t recall any excessive paddling either.

During our end-of-year party, she saved the day in epic fashion! Apparently, whatever I ate didn’t agree with my tummy. Before I could alert Mrs. Mitchell that I was feeling sick, I stood up, turned around, threw up in the seat of my wooden chair. Expecting swift punishment, I tapped her on her back and pointed to the chair and braced myself. She turned around, saw the slimy mess and looked as if she felt sorry for me. She remained calm and motioned for the aide, Mrs. Straddley to get something to clean up the vomit.

I guess there was so much going on, it took the aide too long to come clean the seat. Soon, I got tired of standing and I lost focus. Totally zoned out and probably dehydrated, I plopped right back down in my chair-the same one I’d just thrown up in. Realizing immediately what I had done, I jumped up and tried to look behind myself.

Great. My navy blue, polyester pants now reeked of the worst smelling regurgitation I’ve experienced to date. I tapped her once more expecting to really get it this time. Mrs. Mitchell did a double take and looked at me with a face that said Oh Lord Child! This time, the class let out a collective, “Ewwwwww!” Mom wasn’t home so I had to stay there, in those nasty pants for the rest of the day.

As if things hadn’t been horrible enough, when it was time to pack up to go home, I noticed that someone had stolen my chewing gum. I reported it to Mrs. Mitchell and she went into vigilante mode.

“Children, we will not go to the buses until Joan gets her gum back,” she warned.I was an only child, so I didn’t share, and I certainly didn’t play someone stealing from me. Mrs. Mitchell poured out the contents of the children’s book bags to my immediate left and right, respectively. To the class’ surprise, the quietest little girl in the school had stolen my gum and packed it all the way down in the bottom of her book bag. Consequently, we all gasped and clutched our little chests! My takeaway? You have to watch the quiet ones!

In the end, although I had been mischievous and made a mess of myself that day, Mrs. Mitchell cared for me when I was sick and she defended me when I was wronged. That was thirty-eight years ago, yet it’s one of the fondest memories I have from Riverview Elementary School.

Mrs. Mitchell may have been married and well off, but she didn’t judge me because I was from the west end of town, living in a single income home, nor because my clothes weren’t the latest and greatest. She made me feel that regardless of the things I didn’t have, I did have a good brain, and I could learn.

Do we make children feel that they can learn today, in spite of their shortcomings? Further, do we nurture them when they don’t know what nurturing feels like? Ruby Jean did. Rest in peace, Mrs. Mitchell.

Take Care





Sometimes Dreams Do Come True

Prophetic Dreams

Last week, I wrote about dreams and how troublesome they can be. In 1985, my mother had a dream which she shared openly for the next several days that I’ll never, ever forget. Sometimes when I think about it, I feel bad inside because I was too young to understand what was happening and even still, I didn’t take her seriously. No one did, really. She knew that she was dying, all because of what she considered to be a prophetic dream.

…there are believers that dreams can indeed predict or foretell the future. Prophetic dreams are linked to major disasters, wars, assassinations, accidents, lottery numbers or even with winning horse race. Such dreams have helped solve crimes. – Dream Moods

Mom’s Dream

bjs dreams

Sharpe, 1985

I guess I blocked that painful memory out for the next two decades. That was until 2008 when I reconnected with my mother’s friends from the old Talon Zipper Factory. I was an assistant principal at Northampton High School. One of the ladies in the office happened to discover that I was Beulah Sharpe’s daughter.

This lady used to work at the plant back in those days with my mother. Thanks to a plaque that hung in my office in memorandum with my mom’s name on it, she knew exactly who I was. I thought she would cry for a moment.

Immediately, she alerted the others that “Little Joan” was around here and working with her each day. After a few weeks, I joined them for church and dinner afterwards. There were about four of them in all, and I was listening for anything that would tell me who my mom really was.

Oddly enough, during our conversation that afternoon, one lady recalled a dream that my mother had. As soon as she said just one phrase, a chill went down my spine. She said,

“Do y’all remember that dream Beulah had about Floyd Deloatch? I can just remember her saying, ‘His eyes shined like diamonds!”

My heart pounded. The sudden rush of emotion was choking me, taking me back through time. I was suddenly sitting across the room from Mom looking at her, listening to those words as they poured off her lips like a waterfall. She said it to me, to her friends on the phone, to various family members, and anyone she encountered in a span of a week.

Needless to say, I literally cried all the way home after leaving her friends that day. It was part grief, part guilt, and part longing for her. I needed her so badly in my life, and I still do today.

Mom told us all about that dream for the next week after that, but we just didn’t listen until it was too late.


Here is an excerpt from my unfinished memoir detailing this story. I have changed the names of the characters (except my own) to protect their privacy.

His Eyes Shined Like Diamonds

Betty Jean Saunders awakened from a frightening dream.  She opened her eyes and slowly realized she was at home in bed and it was over. What a relief. She glanced across the room to see if her mother and daughter were awake. The alarm clock on the nightstand read eight o’clock am.  Her daughter, Joan was sleeping soundly, but her mother had already gotten up and was making breakfast in the kitchen.  However, still shaken, Betty was in no mood to eat.  Scared to death, she got out of bed, slipped on her slippers and made her way to the telephone in the den.

“Molly,” she whispered to her friend.  “It’s me, B.  I need to talk to you mighty bad and I couldn’t get Patty on the phone.  It’s something I got to talk to you about in person.”

“Sure. Marjorie just stopped by too.  Do you mind if she hears whatever you want to talk about,” she asked.

“No, I don’t care.  I just need to get this off of my chest.  I’ll be over as soon as I get dressed,” she replied. It was raining cats and dogs along the way.  Betty’s heart thumped. 

All kinds of thoughts raced through her mind.  She wondered about Joan.  Then she wondered what she had eaten the night before to cause her to have such a crazy nightmare.  Betty Saunders was afraid for her life having recently undergone open heart surgery and pacemaker implantation.  Born with with rheumatic fever in July 1940, Betty battled heart problems for most of her life; a life that was filled with success, hardships and in this instant, terror.

She turned into Molly Boone’s driveway on almost two wheels.

“Betty?  What in the world are you all riled up this time of day? You’re usually a night owl,” Molly joked. 

Betty didn’t find that funny at all. “Molly, girl I’ve got to talk to you.  I had this dream and I am scared to death!”

Betty’s hands trembled and the rain cascaded from the roof while she waited for Molly to unlatch the storm door. “Girl, come on in here out of that rain.  What in the world is ailing you?”

Betty sat down on a couch adjacent to the television and front room window.  She rocked and rubbed her hands together.  She took off her wet toboggan and set it down on the seat beside her.  Margie joined her on the couch growing increasingly worried that something terrible was going on.

“Molly,” her husband called from the back.  “Is everything alright out there?” “Yes, hon.  It’s just Betty!  She come by to talk a while,” she called back to him.

“Betty, tell us what’s wrong.”

“Molly, it was just horrible.  Y’all know Floyd who died last year?   He came to me in a dream.  He was looking good, wearin’ this crisp white suit, a pair of white shoes and had a clean hair cut, but…”

Betty paused and shook her head rapidly. “Girl what,” Molly questioned. “His eyes…  His eyes shined like diamonds!”  Betty got quiet after that and just rocked back and forth on the edge of her seat. Molly and Margie waited patiently for Betty to gather herself.  Her eyes began to water. 

Molly reached for a box of tissues on the side table and handed it to her friend. Tears streamed down Betty’s chocolate face.  She was worn and weary.  She worked hard; perhaps too hard.  She looked like she hadn’t rested well in weeks. The girls had never seen Betty this way.  She was usually strong and confident. 

bjs prophetic dreamsShe was the leader of the pack.  On this day however, she was visibly shaken.
“I have so much to live for.  I’ve got my baby to raise.  Y’all know I only want the best for her.  There are some questions that I’m going to have to answer and I mean soon. 

She’s already asking about her period.  I’ve to be here for that!  I definitely don’t want momma raising her by herself, and I want to at least make it to see her through school.  I want to be a grandmother.  I’ve started this non profit that’s getting ready to take off.  I have a plan for us.  I’ve got to put us in a better situation.  I don’t understand for the life of me why he would come to me in a dream like this!”

Molly pressed, “B!  Now come on.  Stop talking that foolishness.  Why you lettin’ this thing bother you so bad.  It’s just a dream.”

“No, I’ve had dreams before.  This was real and  I believe him.  I have never experienced anything like this in my life,” Betty explained. Margie asked, “Well did he say anything?  What else happened?” Betty stopped rocking.  She took a deep breath and mustered,

“He said to me, ‘Girl, you better get your house in order, because you’re going to see the Lord!”

My mother died at Norfolk General Hospital two weeks later from pneumonia. That’s why I always share my strange dreams with someone I’m close to. You just never know sometimes.

If you have a story to tell about a prophetic dream you or someone you know has had, lets talk about it.

What’s Wrong With Women? Mailbag Vol. 1

Welcome to this week’s Mailbag! One reader wants to know, Whats wrong with women today? Lots of times, people don’t feel comfortable posing questions publicly, neither in the blog comments nor on Facebook. They will however hit me in the inbox from time to time.

The Problem With Women and the Point of Getting Married

Women and marriage

The following question was a loaded one, so this time, I’m going to limit the mailbag to just one.

From Nightmares After Divorce:

P. G. from Gainesville Florida writes,

From a single man’s perspective I too had the same dreams. Although I would ease my mind; keeping myself busy so I wouldn’t have to think about it, I would still have dreams in which I would wake up in cold sweats wondering what is going on. In my opinion, I feel as though I really can’t trust women like I used to.

To me, it’s like women want the finer things in life, they want to be nurtured, cared for, loved, etc. but don’t know how to work towards getting it or just expect it to happen because they are the female. It causes a lot of disconnect. Joan, I want to get married one day. I do! But, if you can answer this… How can one get married to someone if the woman doesn’t have the mindset of a woman? In this generation, every female wants to have a mindset of a male, but they aren’t us. If GAMES are going to be played, why not just stay single?

P (May I call you P?), I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. It truly is amazing how the subconscious mind keeps thinking, long after we think we’ve turned it off.
First let me say, I’m that female you’re talking about. I don’t set out to be this way for a specific purpose. I just AM. Now, women like me don’t necessarily have the mindset of males; it’s a mindset of survival that mirrors that of the traditional male. Two generations ago, men were the bread winners. Thus, they were almost solely accountable for the financial stability of the family.

There’s Truth in Numbers

My personal opinion is just like everyone else’s anal orifice. However, in order to give you a fact-based answer, I pulled some data for you from the Population Reference Bureau. Lets compare the number of family households in 1940 with the numbers today.

Percent Distribution of U.S. Households by Type, 1940-2010

Household Type 1940 1960 1980 2000 2010
Family Households 90.0 85.1 73.7 68.1 66.4
   Married couples with children 42.9 44.3 30.7 23.5 20.2
   Married couples without children 33.4 30.5 30.2 28.1 28.2
   Single parents with children 4.3 4.1 7.2 9.2 9.6
   Other family 9.4 6.2 5.6 7.1 8.5
Nonfamily Households 10.0 15.1 26.4 31.9 33.6
   One person 7.8 13.4 22.6 25.8 26.7
   Other nonfamily 2.2 1.7 3.8 6.1 6.8
In 1940, there were 132,200 people in the US. That number has nearly tripled since! In 2010, the US Census reported that there were 308,700 million Americans. However, if you refer to the chart, although the numbers have multiplied EXPONENTIALLY, the percentages of family households have plummeted from 90% to a paltry 66.4%. Conversely, the number of nonfamily households has also tripled from 10% to 33.6%.

Women Have Changed

It seems that the days of growing up, getting married, buying a house, birthing two kids and a dog are phasing out. More and more, it’s becoming this: get your education, find a good career, buy a house, and THEN think about getting married. Sad, but true.
Therefore, (post women’s liberation) competition in school, competition in the workplace, and competition for socioeconomic status have all but forced us to compete amongst men, amongst society, and mostly, amongst ourselves.
Additionally, the inability to allow men to lead us may also come from factors such as:
  • trauma and painful experiences in our lives
  • absent fathers
  • growing up watching our parents totally misrepresent what good relationships look like
  • not knowing how to love ourselves
So we still very much long for love, nurturing and protection! P.G., we don’t mean any harm, but unfortunately…
That’s the Way of the World…
 Best of luck, P. G.!
If you’d like to be featured in the Mailbag, maybe your comment or question will be among the chosen ones in the feature.

Nightmares After Divorce

Divorce Can Be a Real Nightmare

I never truly realized how much healing I still have to do from my eleven years of matrimony. Unsettling nightmares after divorce, are tell-tale signs that there’s still much work to do. Usually, it becomes apparent to me when I interact with friends dealing with the same issues. Other times, something triggers a reaction within me that takes me back in time. Moreover, I am a pillar of strength for those around me, but when I get back in my quiet place, I am painfully aware that I am not there yet.

I know I’m still dealing with it when things arise that should result in communication between the two of us but it just doesn’t happen. I suppose the wounds we’ve inflicted on each other are still GUSHING with blood like a severed artery. By this time though, I had hoped that we could have at least found some kind of resolve. However, after a train-wreck marriage, a violent separation, messy custody battle, and a difficult equitable distribution hearing later, it seems that it will never happen.

Are Nightmares a Part of Divorce Healing?

nightmares divorceWhat’s most troubling for me right now is that I have very disturbing nightmares still, and in those dreams, I always fear for my life. They always go the same way: We’re somewhere talking, we start to argue, and I say something wrong, and like a switch has been flipped, he never says another word for the remainder of the dream. Now, he’s chasing me.

The anxiety is choking me while I sleep, and I feel that I can barely breathe. I toss and I turn while I’m running in these dreams. He never catches me, but I feel hunted like wild game. If you’ve ever read the short story, The Most Dangerous Game, that’s what it’s like.

In the story, Richard Connell tells the story of a big game hunter named Rainsford, who falls overboard from his ship and swims to a nearby island (after realizing that he cannot make it back to the ship). He has two choices upon meeting the antagonist: play the game or die. He must tango with General Zaroft, or be whipped to death by his deaf-mute servant, Ivan. He spends most of the story running for survival, narrowly escaping the traps Zaroft has set for him around the island.

These nightmares always make me think of Connell’s story. I wake up each time feeling extremely bothered and uneasy, and unfortunately, drenched with sweat. Far too often, I’ll change my night-clothes, eventually go back to sleep, and the dreams pick right back up from where I left off. Are you kidding me right now?

Finding Strength in Friendships

//giphy.com/embed/VACthXBRyw0YUThanks for being my friends! 

While searching for answers, I finally decided to share what has been happening with a group of friends. One of them wrote back to me,

Joan I believe PTSD, trauma and the way it affects us shows up in fear. You may not be walking around day-to-day scared but inside the fear you felt in your home was real. Fear of how he may react, what he may say or do when under the influence of […….] kept you ready for a fight..that fear is still there and your subconscious is letting you know. That’s the control that it still has. Maybe you should start writing down when these dreams come and what you were thinking about or dealing with that day…I’m sure you will start to see an association or some type of trigger that made these feelings come up.. I think you have done an awesome job getting over that relationship but its only been 3 years and you were in that cycle of abuse much longer.. So it may take more time to purge all those remnants out of your spirit/soul..the same way those spirits of depression tried to get you last week. Don’t think the devil stops working just because we’re sleeping. But the thing about it is, God has not given us a spirit of fear. So this too, shall and will pass..in faith you bind up that spirit of fear in the name of Jesus before you go to sleep…doesn’t mean you will never have another, but telling God you recognize it for what it is and even in your sleep, you are availing yourself to him. So if it does happen you can wake up in peace love and a sound mind.

To Avoid Divorce, Do Not Overlook the Red Flags

I will note I do not fear for my life consciously. I do think my friend summed up the root of my subconscious feelings perfectly. I’ve learned that the aftereffects of divorce is nothing like ending a friendship or a romantic relationship.

Reflecting Upon My Divorce 

I have been abundantly blessed since we split. However, there’s a gaping hole in my life’s journey that spans from my late 20’s and most of my 30’s. A deep hole that we both share because we ignored the red flags. We were disobedient to God:
  • We weren’t equally yoked, neither in our expectations, our life’s goals, our experiences in life, nor in our upbringings.
  • We didn’t cleave to each other.
  • We didn’t fight fair, and we underestimated the vicious power of the tongue.
  • We fought each other harder than we fought for US.
  • We involved too many outsiders into our problems instead of working through them together, by faith.

Healing Will Happen Over Time

No one from the National Divorce Council is going to drop by my house with a plaque that reads:

THE SISTA GIRL AWARD is Presented to

Joan Sharpe McCullough for her excellence in

Divorcing Like A BOSS!

You’d better know it too. God will, however heal us both when he is ready. I’ll trust in Him and wait patiently for complete resolution. Meanwhile, the nightmares must be byproducts of the healing process. It’s a good thing I’m in tip-top shape in my dreams!

I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below if you want to share!

God Puts Certain People in Your Life For a Reason

I made a Facebook post Saturday, stating that I was weary from the recent changes in my life. Instead of withdrawing from all social interaction, I added that I had decided to surround myself with positive people: my family and friends.

Friends Till the End

I’ve learned that the enemy wants me to stay inside and “get myself together.” Well, God gave me some of the most amazing friends a woman could ask for. The laughs were right on time. Helping THEM work through some of their dilemmas actually made me forget about mine.

I realize that post – divorce, I have surrounded myself by positive, successful people who make deposits into my spirit, not withdrawals. I cannot stress enough, how important that is.

Worship With My Family

Today was Women’s Day at my Auntie’s church, St. John’s 2nd Baptist (Pastor Roy Sharpe), and she headed the committee this year. The people there are the epitome of positive! They always make you feel like they’re so glad you came.

All of her daughters (myself included) had assignments. My older sisters, Joanne and Ginger took their places on the program before mine. I only hoped I could do as good a job as they did.

I had the honor of introducing Rev. Senator Erica Smith-Ingram, whom I met when she was a school board member in Northampton County. I’ve heard her bring the word a few times before, and I knew Saturday night, that after hearing her message I’d feel revitalized and ready to tackle the week month! You know I was absolutely right!

I was initially planning to just read her bio to the congregation like so many others have done before me. However I thought I would do her a disservice by failing to put a personal spin on it. As I scribbled what I was going to say instead, I remembered how her messages are always just what I need to hear; on time, and on point.

positive people

From L to R: Brianna, Joan, Smith Ingram, Iris, Joanne, Ginger, Camaryn

My Awakening

After reading over my little blurb about the senator and how she has impacted my life, I approached the podium and God spoke through me.  Who she is today reminds me that little black girls from Northeastern North Carolina CAN grow up to be strong black women.

I glanced at my daughter from time to time to make sure I was doing ok. Her facial expressions would surely guide me back on course if I’d gotten off track. Seeing that Brianna approved and hearing my own words, I sat down remembering, knowing, and believing, that I too, am a strong black woman.

Admittedly, I’ve gone back and forth in my mind about whether I have truly thought through my decision to leave Bertie County, my students, my colleagues, and my especially my basketball team. Let me tell you about confirmation and actually hearing God’s voice.

After the service, I greeted Erica to thank her for stirring my soul once again. During our exchange, she congratulated me on my new job and told me,

“Joan, you are going to make an impact wherever you go. You made an impact in Northampton County, you made an impact in Bertie. You have no idea how many young women and teenage girls look up to you.”

I didn’t even think she really knew about what was going on with me, really. I just thought to myself, you have no idea regarding the same, ma’am.

My Blessing

After church all of us (eight in total) went out for lunch. There were several people there from our service, as well as a host of other services that had turned out.

On my second trip to the buffet (do not judge me), I walked past a table of young people. I was totally delighted to see on of my former students, who arguably wore my nerves down to the core in two of my science classes at Bertie High School. EVERYDAY.

I was so excited to see him, because he’s one of the young men that I talked to about life and making a good living for himself one day. Each time I see one of my former black male students in the paper for criminal activity or worse, death, I honestly think in the back of my mind, thank God it’s not N******* E******.

We were about to wrap up when he got up and walked back to our table. He gave me a big hug and said,

“Mrs. McCullough, it’s really great to see you and thanks for everything you’ve done for me.”

Before I could reply, he dropped some money on the table and continued,

“And your meal is on me today…and I ain’t taking it back, so you might as well just spend it on your food.”

My God.

My Thankfulness for Positive People in My Life

If I learned anything this weekend, it’s that doubt, indecisiveness, and worry are tools of the enemy. If I didn’t receive confirmation within the last 48 hours in every way, I don’t know what else it takes.

I love my friends and family, and I love all of my former students and colleagues. I know my patience can be as thin as a plant cell sometimes, but please always know that I care. I only hope that I’ve made as much of a positive impact on your lives as you all have made on mine.

Now Brianna and I are going to get ready for the “Stop the Violence” march in Ahoskie at 7:07. Caring about my “sons” like N********, is the reason why. Hope to see you there!

Blessings to each of you!



Black Lives Matter, Right?

Do Black Lives Matter in America, Really?

If black lives matter, why did policemen kill Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile at point-blank range this week? If black lives matter, why were both men said to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Is that justification? If black lives matter, why didn’t either cop think to use his taser before his gun? Is that not an option anymore?

1467924423-alton-sterling-philando-castile black lives matter

Alton Sterling (L) and Philandro Caliste (R) were both gunned down by police this week. #Black Lives Matter

If black lives matter, what gave Micah Xavier Johnson the right to retaliate  and take the lives of 5 officers in Dallas. Now, five families are cemented in grief because he was “mad about black lives matter.” This senseless act resulted in the loss of HIS life too – Death by robot. An entire nation watched several people get murdered right on their mobile devices. Is this enough to make America realize that simply saying black lives matter and all lives matter won’t cut it?

Black Leaders Emerge

First of all, I’m going to say this and I don’t care if it makes you mad. In fact, get mad. We cannot continue to ignore what we do to one another either. Even more, if black lives matter, why have blacks been killing other blacks at a staggering rate within the last 35 years!? Let’s march about that! Let’s create a movement and a hashtag called #BlacksLoveBlacks!

I don’t have any sons, but I hurt about the what’s happening to black men and women in this country. Once again, I am totally in shock and I’m completely horrified about the events that took place this week in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas. I still wonder about Sandra Bland and Michael Brown. Therefore, the only thing that can take this aching in my chest away right now is the emergence of a modern-day Moses, Malcolm X, or Martin Luther King Jr. To them, black lives mattered, and they did something about it!

We are marching in the streets and speaking before thousands around the nation, but what are we really doing about it? Worse, we’re constantly pitted against another sect. Blacks against whites. Blacks against the cops. Blacks against blacks, even.

It’s Time for Gun Control

There is no reason any human being in this country should need a semi-automatic rifle. For that matter, no one should, for any reason, lawfully walk into a gun shop and purchase one! Gun control has to become a verb in this country TODAY.

Gunfire killed Alton Sterling, Philandro Castile, in addition to the 5 officers slain in Dallas. Castile died because he told the officer that he had a weapon but had a permit to carry. He was abiding by the law! So, a busted tail light and the truth, cost this man is life, and his girlfriend and her daughter will never be the same again.

As for Sterling, I saw what the rest of America saw –  a black man pinned down on the ground and unable to move. They promptly executed him. Gunshots to the chest (multiple times) at point blank range.

An American Conspiracy?

I still cannot wrap my mind around all of this. I am trying to find some rhyme or reason our country has come to this. As I watched Wolf Blitzer on CNN Thursday and took in the commentary among Don Lemon and Corey Jackson, I had a startling thought. I wondered if the Democrats had concocted and executed some plot this week to swing more voters from the black community and anti gun rights folks, by sacrificing the lives of two innocent black men. It’s election year, and stranger things have happened.

You see, Lyndon B. Johnson Johnson reportedly said,

“These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference… I’ll have them niggers voting Democratic for the next two hundred years”.”

He then signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ending the Jim Crow era. Jackpot.

The second big jump is the one that you likely thought of first: The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Its passage in July of that year was the culmination of a long political struggle that played out on Capitol Hill. When he signed the bill, President Lyndon Johnson reportedly said that Democrats would, as a result, lose the South for a generation. It’s been longer than that. – The Washington Post

Then, I watched the developments of the police ambush in Dallas, nearly in a state of paralysis. I thought, Hmmm. The Republicans have responded.

This video is up close and personal!

A Call to Action

My conspiracy theories aside, it’s beyond time to take action! We talk about it, but It’s not enough, and the problem is much larger than life in America – the land of the free. Who is going to stand up today? What ended the Jim Crow era in America was leadership and organization. Right now, Black America is a nation within a nation and we’re lost. I am begging someone to please stand up and take the lead and spearhead a campaign to end police brutality, hate crimes, and the lack of adequate gun control RIGHT NOW.

My Nephews Are Not Safe

Here is yet another profound statement from southernmomjd. I was gonna write about this… But she dropped the mic… and it broke. Enjoy!



Today, I am so thankful that I am not raising sons.  My heart goes out to all of those mother’s that are raising Black boys.  It has become all too common for us to hear about another senseless murder of a Black man at the hand of those given the responsibility of PROTECTING and SERVING.

While I breathe a sigh of relief about not having boys,  my brain immediately zooms in on my nephews.  One a rising sophomore in college, and the other an outspoken three year old.   As an auntie that strongly believes in social justice and civil rights, how do I teach my nephews to “speak up and speak out” while ensuring they will not be gunned down simply because they had the audacity to have a voice.  The answer I immediately come up with, NOTHING!  So then I think, what can I teach my nephews, that will…

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