Today.  

I am amazed at how much difference a day makes.  I feel renewed. I feel like there is possibility.  I feel like there is so much available to me. I feel like there is a shift whereas I am making/co-creating my life instead of life just happening to me.

And then I called KLM and want to burn down this capitalist system of oppression.  

It comes and goes.  Be kind to yourselves.

Potato, Patato.

 

To The Black Woman

I am an American woman.  Of African descent.  Of the diaspora.  I am proud of my melanin.  I am proud of where I came from and proud of who I am.  It took a long time to be able to say that.  A. Long. Time. 

It took a long time to understand who I am and I did it in spite of what I was given.  A lot of opportunities, I found on my own through hustling through research and being willing to talk.  My path has not been given to me and quite a bit of the encouragement has been my own.  I have been my own cheerleader.  I have been my own friend.  I have been my own lover.  I have had to do a lot alone and I am comfortable in that space now.  It has become my default space to be in because there was nothing else.  I understand that it was necessary for my path to experience life in that way to help others in the highest way possible.

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However, I know that my experience is not unique.

As black women, we have done a lot for ourselves but the pain is so great.  And healing can look crazy sometimes, especially to people who "have it all together" (this is in quotes because there is no such person).  When you are not afforded the grace to move through your pain, it tends to (will) compile it.  It gets bigger and bigger until you can't hide it anymore.  Your triggers are more easily reached.  Your pain is worn on your sleeve.  You begin to not care for yourself in basic ways because your are IN trauma.  Actively.  IN TRAUMA.  There is no time to get to PTSD because it doesn't stop.  It is all re-occuring.  Whether you are on the front lines of it or reading the story of the trauma experienced by a fellow black woman - you feel it.  At least I do.  

And the latest story of Chikesia Clemons.  My heart aches. Literally.  It aches. That could have been me and my best friend at age 25, at the Waffle House. Throat chakra open.  

Her only weapon was her mouth and that got her thrown on the floor and sexually assaulted.  My weapon is my gift of oration.  How am I different than Chikesia?  I'm not.  Would my fancy degree have saved me? No. Would my job title? No. Anything? No. 

The fact that the actions of the officer were deemed justified was the green mucus that came after the proverbial spit in the face. 

With that said, #1 - FUCK YOUR WAFFLE.  

#2 - Sister, make the care of yourself, your priority. This is a "put your own oxygen mask on first" time. We need you healthy and strong for this is a marathon and not a sprint. We have our children's children to think of. This shit ends now, the ripples take time to reach every vibration.

And #3 - Forgive your sisterhood. Is whatever you are beefing about really that deep? If so, carry on. If not, squash it and move on. You don't need your energy taken by stupid shit. Focus it. We have each other to lean on when the chips are down. Create a sisterhood circle and commit to helping each other. Be your sister and not your sister's keeper. Heal first. I love you.

 

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The Ceiling

Today is International Women's Day.  I was sent this article and had seen it in my social media feeds.

After reading it, which I highly recommend:

http://fortune.com/2017/09/27/black-female-ceos-fortune-500-companies/

I have to admit the closeness to my front door of this article.

I see it in the eyes. Each time. There is an assumption of who I am, how I will speak, how I will be - and I am approached with that assumption.

Then when there is genuine interaction - there is a dawning in the eyes. Sometimes subtle, sometimes overt. It's a realization that they didn't have all the facts. "Wait, she's different. But I don't know how to deal with different, so I won't deal with her at all. Or, hmmmm, I can use her. 
She knows a lot more than I thought. She speaks well."

In my current service, I am the only black female in leadership, on the leadership team and a part of managing the operations of the institution. It has been a masterclass for me in managing my emotions, maintaining my self worth without validation or approval and without seeking those things in a way that would further damage who I am and know myself to be. I have learned a great deal in these 20 years of employment. And ultimately, I am grateful. It has helped me make more sense of my life, of people and of the game we are all playing together - whether we like it, know it or not. 

What's your experience? Can you relate?  

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Karen Clark - I love you.

Growing up in the Jehovah's Witnesses, gospel music was not allowed. Highly frowned upon. Any secular music really. Depending on the congregation you came from, some were more strict than others. Of course, I listened in secret when I got older. Music speaks to me. I see colors in the notes. I feel the underscore. I hear entire arrangements when I close my eyes to go to sleep to this day. I felt powerful singing along to Karen Clark especially, who I only learned of from a friend I went to college with. (Sorry I stole your CD T!)

When I sing along to Holy, Thou Art Holy - I weep every single time.  Every single time. I cannot explain what happens to me.  It hits a chord DEEEEEP within me.  So thank you Karen. I love you. 

I do not consider myself a religious person. Religion corrupts the hearts of good people under the guise of making them believe they are better, smarter, more favored than others and do so by mechanisms of control that kill a person's Spirit. The very thing they are meant to protect. I do consider myself a person who leads with love, is not afraid to look at her own shadow and believes in the greatness of our collective good together.

 

Book of the Month - The Girl Who Drank the Moon

I LOVE BOOKS. Always have, always will.  

I also love a great narrator - so audiobooks are my jam too.  It can not replace the smell of paper and the action of turning pages but a great narrator can take a story to the next level. See previous post mentioning the audio performance of Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

 The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill was a fantastic read.  A beautifully woven story with quite a bit of depth.  Christina Moore's narration was lovely as well. I quite appreciated the overall experience of this production.  It's ultimately a story of magic, motherhood, letting go and suffering.

Thank you Audible.com for making audiobooks so accessible.  My library was slippin' selection wise. 

What are you reading this month?

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The Art of Discernment

I am learning this very fine art.  Discernment. Knowing what deserves my time, energy and effort and what does not.  Previously, I had no idea idea how I was spending it all and was constantly exhausted and overwhelmed.  

With this realization, I have been setting clearer and cleaner boundaries and am much happier because I haven't been frazzled. This, however at times has lead to conflicts, where some have a problem with this newfound esteem of sorts.  Pietersite helps with this for me with increased will and energy.  The enabler has left the building. 

The more I connect with myself, the more I understand myself.  The more I understand myself the clearer I am with where I would like to be.  And ultimately, what does not serve that end, had to and must go. 

Are you discerning?  What do you spend your time on?  Are clear with your boundaries?

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A Five Year Old Empath

Riding my bike down the sidewalk on Marsh St. near my aunt Ruth's house, behind my Granny's house. A woman who lived on the street was preparing to leave her home. I was happy to be riding my bike on the smooth cement and not really paying much attention to anything but the clouds and the sun. I was 5 years old.  She was in her car and backing out of her driveway.  

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She collided with me and I felt her fear.  I didn't feel anything else but her fear and I didn't want to get her into trouble, so I comforted her quickly ("It's alright. I'm fine. Don't cry. I'm ok) and went home pretending nothing was wrong.  I told no one anything. My bike was ok; just a little ding.  My leg hurt a bit but overall I was fine.  I also knew my people would not react well and I didn't want a scene that could possibly take the sidewalk away from me forever. 

I had seen my mother get angry before and I wanted no parts of that. I also knew she was the "cut off queen" capable of making people and things disappear.  So, I thought it best to stay quiet and keep enjoying my smooth solo rides.  God forbid I REALLY got blamed and they took my bike away.....NO THANK YOU.....quiet is where it's at!  Best to control the conversation by completely omitting its existence. 

Little did I know - the woman would feel so guilty that she would CALLLLLLLL my grandmother to check up on me and apologize.  I heard the phone ring.  I heard them say, "WHAT ACCIDENT????"

(Lord Jesus, you don't listen to anything I said. That was supposed to stay between us!)

Inevitably, the conversation on the phone ended and eyes were on me.  They asked me if I had been in an accident and if the woman had really  hit me.  I played it down.  I mean I won an honorary Oscar that day.  "The woman was mistaken."  "She ran over a twig." "I was no where near her bumper." "Of course, I'm careful." "Nope, she never touched me." "I'm positive she mis-remembered." Then I left the room. 

I lied not to protect myself.  I lied to protect her.  At 5 years old. 

I ended up avoiding that part of the sidewalk anyway after that day.  I didn't want to run into the lady again and make her feel bad for hitting me with her car. 

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A Message to my Brothers & Sisters of the World

You are a miracle.

You are a gift. You are a jewel in the face of outstanding odds. 

You may not see it fully yet, but you will.

The simple act of your presence should pause you into a moment of personal praise. 

You need no one else's interpretation of you. You need no one else to approve of you.  You have given love even in the face of the deepest darkness. 

So, love yourself to healing. Love yourself enough to heal your trauma.  Love yourself enough to give yourself a chance. Love yourself enough to create your own brilliance and celebrate it. 

Love yourself so much that you see that self love reflected in the eyes of those around you. Love yourself enough to know you are enough. Just as you are in that quiet place of your heart. 

We are the ones we have been waiting for. We can make this better. We can. We've done it before. We can do it again. 

Heal yourself then throw the lifelines. Imagine if we all did that together. 

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Book of the Month

When I finished it, I just stared and thought to myself, "What in the hell did I just read?" And then I re-read parts of it.  It is profound.  LIfe changing. Shifting. Magical, shamanic brilliance.  Not for the faint of spiritual heart but so worth the journey. 

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This Was from My First Share...

In a closed Facebook Group, I felt courageous enough or maybe desperate enough to share some of my story.  2018 is about authenticity.  

Here's what I said: 

"I'm a pretty quiet person. I don't really put my head above the hedge much, so to speak, but in an effort to save my life, I need to speak up. 
I grew up in a cult-like religion where we didn't really socialize with anyone outside the organization. We were only allowed to be friends with those in the congregation and the school age kids my age who went there with me were mainly home schooled. I was enrolled in public school. In Kindergarten, I was placed in the "gifted" track and from that point until the 8th grade, I was in class with the same kids and the only student of color. The school district was very self-segregated - still is. My father would go to the school each year to speak with my teachers to let them know I was "different" and not to allow me to participate in any parties, pledge of allegiance or anything holiday related. I was to be sent to the library to read quietly. 
We went to what I like to call "programming" meetings at the cult 5 times per week and were made to congregate together, whether you liked it or not. I was molested in that space. I was molested in my home. I told my brother but he didn't believe me, so I tried to make myself as small as I possibly could. I thought - the smaller you are, the more invisible, the more safe.

At home, I was not taught how to care for myself or about important things. We were only taught that the world was in the active process of ending "the last days" and who needs dreams (edit) if the world is ending??? Who needs education? Who needs public service??? 
I learned only how to survive and only survive. If I didn't know something, I pretended I did. It was safer.

When I learned of Hollins, (had never heard of it until my senior year in high school) had I not qualified for a financial aid package, I don't think I would have left home. I don't think I would have ever gone to college. No one around me did - so why me? But somehow, someway, a girl in one of my HS classes told me about it and asked me if I'd be interested in a prospective weekend. I didn't know what that was and I didn't care. I said yes. I left, put my nose down, tried to absorb as much as I could and have been surviving ever since; making bad decisions all along the way because well, you know, I HAVE NO CLUE! I made it to Europe as an expat and without all the "noise" from the past - I am now able to unpack all that I have been through thus far and my GOD, I am cracking. 
Holding it together has gotten increasingly harder and working in anti-terrorism (not my brightest idea...but my heart is in the right place and being the only PERSON of color in leadership and the micro-aggressions that come with that), fighting for custody of my daughter (and realizing the person I thought that had my back actually didn't and never did), mourning 5 miscarried children but never really grieving them, understanding that the people I have surrounded myself with are not my tribe and just feeling desperately alone. My family back home only calls when they need something mainly. I don't blame them. They are doing and did the best that they could with what THEY had. 
Recently, I took a chance and went to a Writer's Workshop, as I feel like I need to write. Like write for my life. So, when I saw the name of the group, I just thought type out what you need to, get it off your heart and keep it moving. I'm not looking for a solver. I just needed a safe space to vent. Thank you for this group."

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My Love Affair with Books

My earliest memories of joy, have to do with books.  

My aunt would read to me every night from this wonderful book called The People Could Fly. 

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I loved that time and those stories transported me to places that I wished I could hang out in more often.  My auntie opened the door to a deep love of literature in my heart.  When we would go to the mall, you would find me in the back reading nook of the Waldenbooks.  I had a collection of bookmarks because - yeah, BOOKMARKS!  Christopher Pike's novels were Young Adult gold back then. Judy Blume helped me be ok with growing up.  The African American section helped me figure out who I was. The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah - COMPLETE GAME CHANGER for my teenage self of what it meant to tell a story.  Then there were the Pizza Hut Reading rewards and the book fairs and the monthly book ordering form - need I say more. 

Barnes and Noble in my adult years became the place I went.  The destination.  I am forever a seeker.  A seeker of knowledge.  (sup Harry)

Books allowed me to escape, something I would get very good at.  (Thank you coping mechanism) And they allowed me to learn of other people and how they lived and learned and messed up. And more importantly, how they got back up again. 

Today, one of my most prized possessions is my Kindle and my Audible app comes in a close second. (audiobook love is deep too - especially the performed ones **see Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides performed by Kristoffer Tabori.  It's SOOOOOOOOO good.)  I have consistently had a significant commute time to work and audiobooks were my life line to sanity in the car. 

 

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Non-fiction, fiction, memoirs, sci-fi, fantasy.....I love all genres EXCEPT horror.  I just can't.  I see no point in raising my cortisol levels for that in these troubling times that raise it up enough. 

Do you have a love affair with books?  Tell us about it.