I am funny and would love to talk about how I stopped just surviving and began to live and love my life. Just putting it out there.
I am funny and would love to talk about how I stopped just surviving and began to live and love my life. Just putting it out there.
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.
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.
There is much happening. A simple reminder from Gil. Much love to me, from me, to this collective and to the good in us all.
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:
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?
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.
The women are rising and the children are awake. There will be rough seas ahead, but all will be well. I know this. I feel it in my bones and deep within my Spirit.
With each generation, the world's children have been born brighter, more alert and with more inner knowing. They see very clearly what needs to be done and do not carry the baggage that older generations do, where compliance with the herd was required. It is no longer required, simply put and they know it. The women of the world are rising day by day. Their inner intuition activating on a primal level. More and more are recognizing their "sisters" across the rooms and standing with them, speaking for them and holding space for them. This revolution will NOT be televised. Did we forget what Gil said? Let's have another listen.
The children know. Let's try to listen to them more.
The women know. Support them as they wake. As they realize who they really are and take their rightful place in society. It may look completely crazy for a while - remember this is the reckoning. The full rising will be so glorious, special and on divine time. Do what you can each day to support each other. Hug. Smile. Love. Eat. Dance. Play. Feed.
You've got this. All of you.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
It's easy to accuse someone of showing "fake love" - affection not genuine, or rooted in real admiration, respect or .....love. Fake love gives the impression "as-if" someone is interested in the person or the subject matter. Maybe you've been accused of "showing fake love". Maybe, just maybe you HAVE been fake. You can be offended by it, take it personally and shut more of yourself off or you can say to yourself that this is your opportunity to dig deeper.
How so you say?
Well, we can deepen our understanding of love and expand it beyond the place it resides today. Love, especially unconditional love, is something foreign to us. Let's face it. We have been programmed to judge first. With our parents, we fear we will not be loved if we live our truths so we hide away parts of ourselves. We've also been programmed to believe that our judgments are KING and should not be questioned. Viewing others through the extended filter of our own personal experience, as well and we dismiss the grand majority of things we may come across in a day. "You already know that will taste bad." " You already know that she is mean." "You already know you won't like to do that" - so you don't try. "You already know you won't like her." "You already know they are not smart." You get the idea.
These judgements block us from expanding our individual experience and further those experiences of our communities because "like tends to stay with like". Remember "we already know." This, therefore blocks our growth of the only thing that matters - the growth of our soul. Our views are then limited to that which looks exactly like us, smells like us, IS us - leaving all else unknown. These unknown things tend to make us uncomfortable, bringing fear and we all know what that can do.
So what then?
We love more. We seek out an adventure everyday. Each day, we resolve to try something new - be it a new food, listening to a song in a genre you have never listened to before, trying a new activity, introducing yourself to someone you have wanted to but didn't think they were approachable - whatever it is and however small, do something every single day that is NEW. We just might find you like a lot more than you think. We might actually find a lot of new joy and if anything else, this exploration will help us get to know ourselves.
And maybe then we'll realise that the fake love was actually real love all along. It was just blocked. Let's free ourselves.
My dearest Laticia Diane,
GURL! Pat your back and hug yourself for we have made it to the coveted decade of the 40s. The time when "I'm too old for this shit" is really code for "This is NOT worth my time, no thanks", and the latter philosophy is embraced.
Continue to walk with an open heart and follow it. She is intuitively connected to more than you realize.
Continue to walk in faith. You deserve all the good and you know there is no lack in this Universe. There is enough for everyone. Celebrate yourself and others freely. Light your candle so brightly, others can light theirs too. You have come through the fire and bravely fought to heal yourself. Now, return carrying buckets of water for those who can't do it by themselves.
Remember who you really are - a fiercely loved child of the most high, capable and equipped with talent. If another person calls you out of your name or the character you know yourself to possess, that is a reflection of them and not you. Keep walking with your head up. Bless them and wish them well, for they are sick.
Look upon those who are filled with anger and contempt with compassion for they have the largest wounds. Matching their energy only takes the both of you down.
Do these things and we will be forever good.
I love you and I believe in you. Your time is NOW.
We need to talk.
First, what do I mean when I say "reactor" in this sense? For this conversation, a reactor is a person who never responds, but only reacts; thought may be given briefly before the reaction but it is full of emotion and is not easily stopped. The reactor holds onto their bottom line point and will not be swayed regardless of the content of any conversation. They speak from a place of hurt and invisibility. Sound familiar?
I know you. I was you - still am you. You care. You recently acquired new truths and may be angry. You may be wounded, and those wounds are clouding your ability to access YOUR ABILITY to respond. You fly off the handle. You aggressively patrol your social media feeds looking for the offenders to your peace (or anyone else's peace that you care about). You may feel guilty that you don't really give back or do anything of service so you become a keyboard warrior - fighting the "good fight" only through your fingers. You have something to say about every injustice BUT ONLY from your point of view or your own personal experience. You may ask of others' opinions but you really don't care. Does any of this resonate with you? It's ok if it does and I give you a super cyber hug for this moment of awareness.
Becoming a RESPONDER takes time and it begins with you.
We will be talking a lot more about this in the coming month.
For now, just ask yourself this question or notice this for yourself - are you a "reactor" or a RESPONDER? When confronted, what is your default? What does your body do in that moment? Does it feel tense? Do you breathe shallowly? Does your mind agree with your body in that moment?
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."
When I saw this video of Mother Maya (a term of endearment for this woman who I feel mothered me virtually) I wept. I wept because truth tends to resonate. Do you wear a mask too?
Do you hide yourself away in protection? Does anyone really know you? Does Paul Lawrence Dunbar's poem resonate with you?
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.
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.
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.
It has been my best friend. Sometimes my only friend. It speaks for me when I don't have the words. It allows be to move emotions that I previously may have believed un-moveable. It takes happiness and can make it into a joyful explosion that pales in happiness' comparison. It can crack open the hardest heart. It can steady the nerves of the eager competitor - making way for a performance like non other.
Music to me is life. I cannot go one day with it. In each phase of my life, there has definitely been a distinct soundtrack that defined those years. The beginning love affair that started through my parents. The school years - tumultuous and strange. The exploration that was college. The early adulting years. The divorce. Motherhood. Each period has been marked with specific music.
There are songs that spark joy. There are songs that make tears wretch from me in the most ugly of cleansing cries you can imagine. And then there are the songs that I write. I write what I feel and I have always used the pen and paper as my own personal therapy. (see one of my tunes embedded below)
Have you sat and thought of your soundtrack now? What is the theme to the music that plays you through your life? What mantras are you manifesting through your music?
My soundtrack right now in this phase of me is all about transformation. Every day, I get better and better. I am not the same person I was before I left the US. Each day I shed more layers, more skins, more baggage. Each day, there is someone else to forgive, more love to generate and more of MYSELF to meet. In short, it's a love story. A love of self story.
What are you listening to?
Recently, I was asked this question by one of my teachers, Sonia Choquette whilst going through my web assignments. I was not intimidated by it until she asked for a list of 100 reasons why I love myself. Have you ever tried to sit down and write 100 single reasons why you love anything??? It is a challenge - especially when that lens is turned to the self. I can say that I did it. It took me a while, but I did it. At first, it was very easy until around # 25. Then, it started to feel forced....like really, girl?? Are we saying we love our nail beds? Yes, why yes - we are. Around the seventies, I hit my stride again and something started to click.... I began to enjoy listing the things I acknowledged about myself in this way. It began to feel really good giving myself this attention. Then I realized, no one else can do this for me, BUT ME! As one of my spiritual mothers says, "If you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an Amen!" - Love you Mama Ru.
Could this be one of the keys that unlocks the door to the next life level?? Whatever the hell that is. Maybe. Or could it just be the key that unlocks me to me? That feels more right. I'm going with that.
So what's the greatest thing you love about yourself? Me, it's my bounce-back game.