Broken Home: When Mom and Dad Were There

I was raised in a household with both parents present. Just like any other family, there were struggles such as economic hardships, the usual bickering between parent-child, sibling-sibling and parent-parent. Although I was raised in an urban community, the household was dominated by two Ghanaian-born immigrants.

From as early as elementary school to as late as undergraduate school, I was surrounded with my peers who lived in one-parent households. All of their circumstances were different, of course. Many of them had absent fathers, either having transitioned to the next life, or leaving them at a very  young age. I’ve noticed it was generally the father who was not present in their lives. Others had no biological parents present and lived under foster care, some other relative or a family friend. Some, however, lived in households where their parents were divorced and had to go back and forth between houses. I remember saying to myself “I’m lucky my parents live together”, because I couldn’t imagine living in two homes. It was already a hassle to travel from school to my very far residence.

And still, with absent parents, from old friends to new, they were head of their classes, the most involved in student activities and the most prepared for jobs and careers, while I struggled to pretend to enjoy being part of after-school clubs and other indoctrination programs.

My parents, being semi-traditional Ghanaian, were also semi-strict. I was raised in a residential area in between two train stations and multiple bus stops. In between the residential area, was of course commercial areas, which were frequently visited by the pigs/police because of gun-related incidents. Being one of two daughters, my parents feared us being a victim of crime, which could be considered common in New York City. Because of that, we had limited opportunities to hang out as the rest of my friends were so freely able to do. I was jealous of my friends who had minimum restrictions on where they can go and what time they can go.

Looking back now, my parents only wanted to protect us from the things they were the inevitable. Mugging, sexual harassment/abuse, police brutality, seeing crime against others and the possible stalking, are all things that they tried their very hardest to protect me from, but once outside of their field of vision, was unable to stop the actions of others.

I did not enjoy living there. It was far from everybody and even within the house, we were distant.

When I was lucky, I visited the households of friends. The dynamics from the outside looking in was poor, but still looked enjoyable as a teenager in NYC. I remember being asked “You have both your parents, why are you so miserable?” I wondered the same.

There is a misconception that the only kind of broken homes, are homes that are single-parent, no-parent. This, however, is untrue. I have both my parents and still felt as if I was missing something. A pet? No. We had 2 parakeets, 50 fish, 3 hermit crabs and 2 albino frogs. If that wasn’t enough, my sister and frequently volunteered at the pet shelter and made friends with the abandoned cats and dogs.   Friends? I had a few, though wasn’t able to visit them as much as I wanted. What was I missing, in a house filled with pets and family?

I am still carrying this burden of incompleteness. Wherever I go, I yearn for something and can never pin-point what it is. Was it a hug and a kiss from mommy or daddy? Or maybe even a hair/nail session with my sister. Still, I am not sure what I am missing. Though many will say I am blessed to have a “complete” family.

Family is more than just having siblings and parents in the home. It is about consistent communication, unconditional love and commitment and loyalty. It is more than just having a bed to sleep on and a table to eat on. It is to be able to speak to your family without fearing negative feedback or even worse, no feedback at all.

That reminds me, I should call my mom.

Tell the people who you love, that you love them. Tell the people who you appreciate, that you do. Sometimes, that is the glue to hold a broken family together. And if it is not, it is certainly a start that does more good than harm.

Starting Your Own Website

Interesting In Starting A Website?

I remember when I was 12 years old, I created my first “blog” at the then “Freewebs.com” now webs.com. I was excited to learn how to code HTML, CSS and design my website. However, I found the hosted website was a little too restrictive for my creativity  and then went on to join a friend, with a sub-domain. It was a lovely experience, as I learned more about websites and upkeep. I gained organizational and management skills, just by doing things on my on. I took a long break, a very long break, from blogging, and now I am back today, with my first domain.

It is a liberating experience to have a website you can call your own, promoting your creativity and thoughts. Blogging is a great way to even start a small business or organization.

In the past I have searched thoroughly for a hosting company that will not overcharge, yet still be reputable and reliable. Below are the steps in starting your website.

The steps are very easy to creating your own website:
  1. Establish a Platform, Domain + Hosting
  2. Be Crafty + Design Your Blog
  3. Selecting the Best Plugins For Your Site
  4. Define Your Success
  5. Create Compelling Content
  6. Be Consistent With Your Site
  7. Connect with the World
  8. Grow With Your Blog

Establish the Platform, Domain + Hosting

First things first, find your host and domain. The host holds the server to your website, where you will be purchasing hosting for your website and its information and the domain is the web address (www.example.com/.org/.net/.us). I went to SiteGround and registered my domain there. Luckily, SiteGround allows you to transfer an old hosted WordPress blog to your new self-hosted website and if you’re starting fresh, SiteGround will install WordPress for you. WordPress is a great platform for bloggers. I highly recommend it as it is very simple to use and extremely customizable.

You can also receive a 60% discount and a free domain, at $3.95/month if you use this link here, with the Basic Plan. If needed, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. The great thing about SiteGround, there is a pre-purchase, during, and after, free 24/7 “live chat” as well as toll-free calls. The customer service is super helpful. In my experience as a first time buyer, I was extremely satisfied with how patient they were. I’m not what you will say, tech savvy.

Craft! Time to Design

WordPress has so many themes to offer. Free, premium and you can even create your own theme. A good theme will draw your visitors in and best thing is, you can craft it exactly how you want it. If you don’t wish to code, that is fine, as earlier stated WordPress provides Free + Premium easy to install themes. SiteGround is also great with providing easily to install themes, all for free.

The Essentials: Selecting the Best Plugins

Plugins allow your site to become as flexible as you want it to be. From creating membership forms, commerce widgets, share to social media plugins, WordPress has a wide collection of widgets + other plugins. Some plugins I’ve used and enjoyed with WordPress are the following:

  • Akismet. Protects your blog from comment spam. Very useful if you have custom forms.
  • Jetpack. A WordPress plugin that shows the stats of your website.
  • WP Super Cache. Clears your cache, helps your content load faster.

Define Goals + Success

9 What are the reasons you are starting a website? Some want to start a small online business, others wish to teach, share and learn from the world. Blogging can become a career. Lifehacker has an article speaking on making a living from blogging. Whatever your goals are, write them down and stick to it. You define your own success. What is your purpose? I researched for months before launching my website, because I wanted to be clear with myself about my goals and purpose. Sometimes a guide can help you along the way, but it is up to you to decide what it is you wish to accomplish.

Create Compelling Content

Start with a homepage that will draw the reader in. Add some pages such as an About, Contact, Archives, Shop, whatever kind of page related to the content of your site. Make your content easy to read with Headers, Bullet Points + Images. Find your niche and stay related to your blog. Whether your website will be about cooking, dancing, writing, or sleeping, let it be about you and be relatable to your preferred audience.

Be Consistent

You do not have to write everyday, though it is completely up to you. However, it is important to be consistent with your updates. Try posting something at least once a week, but do not force content. Be yourself when writing, because readers will know when you’re searching for content to write about.

Connect with the World.

So now you want the World to see your blog, but you first have to visit the World. Visit other websites, and genuinely communicate with other bloggers and writers. You can even guest-post on some blogs and better, allow some people to guest-post on your blog. This can increase the traffic on your website. Leave honest comments on the amazing posts you will read along the way. Social media is also a good way to connect. Use your resources.

Grow With Your Blog

As you grow, your blog will grow. Avoid being stagnant with content. Things change, websites change. You might find new tools and strategies for writing, you might want to add a newsletter to your website or even a membership.

There are other hosts and platforms, but I can only speak on what I’ve used. Be sure to do your own research before purchasing. Happy blogging and kindest regards!