#13ReasonsWhy and #1ReasonWhyNot

(Notice:  This may contain spoilers.)

I am such a fan of Netflix, like most people that work nights or suffer from insomnia. I came upon 1HIRTEEN R3ASONS WHY.  I needed something new to watch after exhausting my reciting and analyzing of The Twilight Zone or other random Netflix documentaries. I saw this 13 episode show, and I thought that I could kill it in like 2-3 nights. Not so.

As a writer and a mother, it was indeed HARD for me to get through this series of episodes. I found myself wrapped up in what Hannah was feeling, and even turned my head as she committed suicide–yes, the show SHOWED it. They needed to. They needed to.

I was rapt in her voice, in what she was feeling and examined my own high school experiences and the potential awareness of what my children may experience. That was disheartening. As a woman in my 30’s with bigger things that I have come through than that 14-17 year old girl. I was bullied in middle school, and after Freshman year of high school, the bulling continued. I was made fun of because I was awkward, called ugly and fashionably different. I ignored it, yeah, but I found a solace in words, attentive parents and a core group of friends. High school was awkward and I hated it. 

I hated it because I was in a new school far from all else I had known in St. Louis Public School District and now I was in Jennings School Disctict. I hated it because I was bored. I hated it because I was–depressed. No one seemed to notice that I was depressed because I went on with life, and tried not to exist. I really, really did. After my father died my Senior year of high school, I wanted to leave school even more. I hated high school because I wanted to a be ANYWHERE else but the high school I was at. Those feelings were deeper than “not being comfortable in your own skin.”

What I saw with Hannah is this consistent abandonment. It’s the kind of abandonment that you see that ends up being learned helplessness. She tries to embrace life, even the dirty parts, ugly parts, but every time she reaches for the better–some new craziness is heaped on her. From Justin liking her, then turning their innocent evening together into a vicious rumor. To her ‘best friend’, Jessica,  finding popularity aside from her and then calling her a slut after being upset that their mutual friend, Alex, beginning to date Jessica. But yet Hannah is still a friend to her–consistently. Alex then puts Hannah’s name on a sexist list for best body parts, and her body is put up for public consumption:  cat calls, ass grabbing—all under the school’s nose.

I admired Hannah standing up for herself. I admired her for not getting sucked in to the vortex that is high school. I rooted for her, felt bad for her, and all of me that was a mother  and once a wounded girl wanted to snatch her back. I wanted to tell her that even though Tyler stalked her with pictures outside her house, Courtney used her as a shield to hide her own sexual identity, I wanted to tell her to hold on. I wanted to tell her not to give up! 

When Marcus made her wait for their Valentine’s Day date,  tried to paw under her skirt because he thought she was DTF and “easy” was and she pushed him out of her booth? I cheered. I was proud of her. I was horrified when Zack didn’t come to her rescue, because he saw what people where doing to her. I was mad that Clay was afraid to go after her, and was so hung up on avenging her after she was dead. I rooted for him to not be a timid boy like 17 year old boys can be and go after her!

 I was upset at the counselor that seemed so focused on the whole forest that he could never see the trees and couldn’t reassure her that she wasn’t alone or crazy after her rape. As an adult, I understand his predicament-the icy way responsibility gives you tunnel vision in the wrong direction.

When Brian published her poem? I celebrated. I wanted her to see she had talent. But I understand and understood the need for privacy as a writer. I am familiar with the cocoons we make to create and can become horrified when those walls are breeched. On top of what she was living through, I get WHY it hurt so much. In times of pain, you really don’t want people to bust out your genius thinking they did you a favor.

I was horrified when she sat in the rub of water, with clothes, and razors and cut horizontally up her arm. I was a hopeless voyeur as she contemplated whether or not she wanted her heart to still beat. I wanted to stop her, I wanted to tell her that she would get through it. I wanted to grab her arm and tell her this:

Hannah, stop! You do not need to kill yourself over people that you won’t even remember after graduation. Hold on, Hannah. You don’t have to give any more of you away. I promise you that it sucks right now, it hurts right now, and I know you can’t see any light anywhere…and I know you want it to stop hurting. But in order for it to stop hurting you have to see where this ends up. There are things you can do. Think of what you’re leaving…think of the story you have left to write. Don’t quit in the middle! Don’t quit! Wait! We can make it, let me help you! Just– put the razor down, shug! If you want this life, if you want better, you are going to have to rage against the dying of the light. You gotta fight. You are gonna have to fight. Death does not revel in the reaping of the young. Get out the tub and we can talk…”

At the last few minutes at end of the series, I looked off past the screen I was watching, and thought. I was mad she was dead.

 I was mad at Clay. 
I wanted to slap Jessica and Justin until I GOT TIRED.  I wanted Marcus and Zack not to be so arrogant and smug. I wanted Courtney’s iron crisp life wrinkled!

 I wanted Jessica to realize that real friends, real friendship, is forged toughest when both people recognize they are needed. 

Then I thought of that quiet, shy, wallflower that had my name. I wanted so much to even reassure the portion of my 16-17 year old self not to give up. I wanted to remind myself that even though it was dark and horrible and my father was dying…I didn’t have to die with him. 

My dreams, my heart where not to be buried with him. I was going to be okay. In the diligence of living, I had to be able to LIVE. I had to remind myself of what my anchors were, where they were, and how to drop them and not to drop them on drifting people.

The reason why I chose to live, and remind myself to keep living is because I want to see where this life ends up. I want to see how my story ends. I want to own every part of me that is wounded, impaired and secret. I refuse to give my happiness, power and autonomy to another person. This meant that I was going to have to remember the rock that I had been given to stand on in my soul. The part of me that stands  up for herself, no matter what and who is able to withstand bullsh!t because I recognize it as bullsh!t. 

I wanted to tell Hannah that she had something to hold on to, that it’s beyond what she thought and that if she just hangs on…if she just hung on…she could have joy again, and Clay would be an awesome and doting boyfriend and Bryce will get what’s coming to him because Clay was brave enough to go in a lion’s den came out with his head. 

What you have to do in the mean time, she may ask? LIVE. You live because that is the goal of life…and that gift is yours.

Make no mistake, I am a proponent of therapy, prayer, faith communities and coping strategies; and if need be, medication.

 I believe that mental health is a real crisis, an important issue and I believe there are pains and wounds that people cannot see that are deeper than anything that will bleed. 

I believe there are people that suffer on this spectrum in silence and there are some that shout at the ends of guns, inside cars or razors in tubs. We have to take stock of those whom walk wounded around us. We can’t ignore them. We can’t ignore the Hannah’s. They need to know it’ll be better. They need to know life still belongs to them. 

The gift of voice and words is that you have to right to edit, record and honor what you feel. You can’t let all the noise stop your heart from beating. You have to be strong enough to realize this is…hard.
 This is why it’s important to have people that know when your swag is off, when your mood is changing, when your eyes no longer shine…there has to be one that is willing to through you a life preserver or even go out in your rowboat, and reach out.

I’ve decided to be a Life Preserver. I have a boat, and my lifeguard walks on water.

The Able Unshakeable (Part 1)

There are the people in your life that clearly know they belong in it, but will never come into it in any desired capacity.

There are people in your life that believe that they belong in it, but you will never let in.

Then there are those people that come in believing that have all right to be there, and you agree. Then the pursuit of all that love entails.

The hunt as it were.

The state of being together, but not really together, and them in your life makes everything sweeter, and lighter, and easier. They make loving yourself easier, because they love you.

I have one like that.

It took me years to not think of him without my heart fluttering. If you’re honest, you have one like that too. The person that no one can hold a candle to, or someone that is the archetype of what a good mate is, or the best boyfriend or girlfriend. The person your heart remembers.

I remember taking a Psych class, I remember the name of it was called the Study of Psychodynamic Substances. A fancy name of the drugs that alter your mind, as it were. There is something the class referenced to called EM.

This is short for emotional memory.

Now, stay with me because I’m about to help you out! This type of memory is purely somatic. Meaning, your own body has a memory independent of the more sentient memory–memory and memories you store in your brain.

In this class, this type of memory is totally based on sensations and impulses–or even catalysts to or of both ideals.

That. BLEW. ME. AWAY!

To find out that my body had a (bleep) memory? That changed game forever. Why? I could then begin to put a name to what it was I was feeling.

Keep in mind, I’m happily married now. I’m a college grad, a mother, a writer, a blogger and with like 9 other things I want to do and see before I leave the world and go back to God.

But I am aware of the ‘ghosts’ in my life that have this effect on me. Those people that come into thought when I try and do something else, concentrate on happier things. Most of the time I’m successful–I keep some at bay, have exercised the others to the point they are non-existent.

But there is one that I have to remain armed at the ready over.

Even admitting it sounds like a form of defeat. It shows where the chink in the armor is. It shows where I can be hit at–a heart map, if you will.

The Unshakeable One.

The Able Unshakeable.

This is the one that makes you think ‘what if’. This is the person whom at a thought is able to cause emotional havoc in both spectrum directions depending on where you are emotionally. The one that can show you where it is you could go if they would only come in.

The one that you never envisioned having to live life without, only realizing the indignity of having to. The one that when you hear their name you have to pretend that you won’t cry or scream, blush, get horny thinking about or become incensed.

The one that knew what every inflection of voice meant, where every mood came from, the one that could soothe you with a look. The one that your heart sang such sweet sonnets for.

The one that didn’t know what they wanted, but knew they wanted you, but you would wait your life for.

But I suppose you do, don’t you?

In Julius Ceasar, the most famous line quoted is by Ceasar’s wife, Calpurnia, in Act 2, Scene 2, page 2:

“Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.”

In this quote I find solace when it relates to the Unshakable One.

I know that in accepting of what is not, and may never be, I have marked the end of what once was and is no more.

I am of no illusion of what time has given, and even, stolen from me. I accept that life before him and after him have indeed been marked.

In the marking, in this death, I do not fear.

His presence may come, but it cannot remain…at least not always. He gave me a glimpse at forever but left me with mortality, questions and the desire to know just how on Earth he had gotten such a hold on me!

I wondered often, alone, out loud and with tears, how had I loved someone with lioness ferocity, with the fidelity of a Queen…and not be with him?

It stunned me.

As a writer, I had to find the glitch in the script. I had to get to the plot twist, only to realize…*Alejandro and I were the plot twist. We were the glitch in the system.

I didn’t think what he found in me and me in him was even able to be found in  anyone anymore. What we were reaching for didn’t make sense to heartbroken people, cynical people.

We were a celestial anomaly–and I loved it! I reveled in it. I had found something akin to jasper, diamonds and topaz.  I loved him and he loved me. And I knew from the DEPTH of me that he did.

After being in a broken state after a necessary (I cannot stress how necessary it was to leave that dude alone!) breakup in the Summer of 2002 I was still hurting when I met *Alejandro that December. We exchanged numbers and when I heard his voice? I blushed.

BLUSHED. HARD.

As our affection grew, he was a heart starter, I could breathe again. He reminded me I was intelligent and gorgeous and worthy of love. Nothing could be so, would be so amazing…and I enjoyed it.

The more I got of him, the more I wanted and the more we gave to each other. The amazing thing? There was nothing like anything before or since…how could I not want it? But yet…here I am and there he is and…was.

I understand every love is different, indeed, and I am and was thrilled he reminded me that I was worthy of it.

*-Not his real name.

[images from Google and Shutterstock]

Gumbo Pots, Tomatoes and Dreams

My grandmother was the best. She is so much better than yours. Why? ‘Cause she mine. She raised 10 children on a less than high school education, and possessed the kind of rock in her blood that let me know that my nana, MY GRANDMA, was nonfuckwitable. She  taught me how to garden, love plants, and the power of silence and presence. She died almost 4 months after I married my second husband, taking every secret and joy with her into glory.

Her house stands empty now, grass uncut, sewing machines and dishes as ornament to the mausoleum that has become her house. The last time I went into it, her bed was still made. There were things in her living room, and dining room, and basement. The house had a smell that dictated it hadn’t been cleaned. The house was full of–her.  I wanted to weep and scream, but I was way too busy to feel anything. I was looking for bedrails for the beds I was getting, I couldn’t be consumed or taken in by the lack of my anchor, my grandmother.

One of the things my family would do, especially before she got sick again, was cook. She made the most excellent homemade barbecue sauce (Like me, it was sweet and hot!). She could make cakes from scratch, and my ambrosia was her greens and hot water cornbread. It was so good I would eat it cold. I would be barefoot in her house, and eat and soak up all that it was to do that day, every sight, every sound, every everything. This made losing her, that much harder.

All I have of my grandmother, and the intertwined 32 years together, is a red wallet, a handful of pots, some linen and 2 beds. The one thing I wanted, was her cast iron pots.  These pots of magick that she would conjure candied yams, gumbo, rice and chicken and any other dish her imagination and groceries would offer up. From pots and spoons, she soothed, she softened and she loved–every last one of us. From that love, I could do anything.

In the summer, as her garden gave us its wealth, my favorite were the tomatoes. She would snap them off the vines and stems, sometimes have us wash them, and gave them to us to eat with salt. It was the best thing for summer heat. Sometimes, I would watch her as she gardened. Her big straw hat, and old clothes, and so deft and agile between rows of flowers or vegetables. Indeed, my grandmother had black girl magic. I think she would have called it, ‘just doin ‘bess I can.’

From that love, and the space she gave to us, I was able to dream. I was able to start writing silly stories and reading them to my aunt. I was able to enjoy girl hood, and know that in her house, this same house, it was my castle. It was my fortress, it was my kingdom with a magic drawbridge that shut out all of the outside world. Her passing made me vulnerable, and tenacious. It made me seasoned, steady, as everything else seemed to be swirling round about me.

I understand that death has a long grasp, and cool, cruel grip, but it was merciful to me. It took my grandmother, after seeing almost all her children and her great-grandchildren before leaving the world. She left us the reminders of all she tried to do, had done all she had yet to do, and all she tried to give all of us:  herself. I supposed all those well-lived warriors leave evidence of their travels through this life. It is up to us to sometimes sift through what remains in order to see what else can be saved, and passed on. You see, even memories fade.

Craving The Black Girl Space

I’m going into my 36th year of this Black Girl/Black Woman space and life, and I could not BE more thrilled. I appreciate everything that I am, will become and learning to love the woman I am becoming. The woman that my mother saw that I would be when I was running amok between 14-22.  With that, I have thought of my childhood, and things that made it special. In those recent moments of reflection, I find one theme apparent–black women made space.

From getting my hair washed for the first time in my grandmother’s kitchen sink, to my my aunt teaching me how to do it myself, to my first time getting my hair pressed, even my first library card facilitated by my mother, black women made space for me. They made space, sometimes at the risk of their own peace and bodies, for me. The memories of teaching me to jump rope, how to cook, even how to shop, flood my mind as I begin the legacy of space-making for my own daughters.  The space-making that tells them over and over again, “you matter” and “you matter to me.”

I value that space. I create such space in the midst of abject and object daily crazy. I FaceTime my best friends, I cackle loudly with the black girls at work, and go out of my way to make sure these same women are okay. I become space. I miss that space when I don’t have access to it–I rage against the tiredness that would tell me that I don’t need it, that the diversity of friends I have is sufficient. My heart knows that it isn’t, won’t ever be, true.

Of course it is fabulous to have friends of mine that are along the social spectrum:  different nationalities, religions, jobs or even economic backgrounds. I enjoy that I am invited into their spaces, their lives and even into the lives of their children–a psuedo aunt  in some cases. I could not be more thrilled. I welcome the wise to teach,  just Jill Scott says;  I don’t shy away from new experiences, thoughts or teachings–no matter the teacher. I teach my children the same thing. However, as I age, as I go through this life, I am excited about the black women that I know, that I love to know more about and the space we create:   the access we as black girls, ultimately black women, we grant and make for  one another.

I love the slang we use, the laughter that kicks up, and the colloquialisms we use:  from hot combs, to edge control, to the black girl dance we do to get into the jeans we love, and how when we were little we were told not to “sweat our hair out.” The laughs that are released are healing , they are affirming, they let me know that I am not alone.

In the black girl space I am pretty, I am known, I am lovely and oh-so smart. I am a survivor, I am a warrior and a secret sister-keeper. I get to see our corporate mortal-goddess nature splayed and bandaged. I get to be a part of the social ancestry that I saw in my grandmother’s kitchen while she picked greens, my mother’s living room when her sisters visited or did road trips and on back porches that grown folk put those same nosy girls on to talk open or participate in ‘grown folk conversations.’ I am now an access point, a healing vessel and a beginning of the keeper the these traditions of not just occupying space but showing my daughters how necessary that it is.  I get to show them how necessary the building up of the women that look like you is. I get to show them the support of the women that look like you is indeed invaluable. I get to show them how you can make family and have it mean more than blood kin or how it can replace it.  I get to show them how to own all that makes them black and woman and how wondrous that is.

In these spaces, created because of necessity, duty and in out right spite of the world around us, we get to be US. We get to be free.  We get to take off the armor for a moment, and breath deep. We get to pour out the day or absorb it. Nappy edges, ashy knees, and heads wrapped up, we get to be free. I love that. I get to show them that making space in this world is indeed an anchor and they are not above needing that reassurance from women who walk a similar path. That space hewn for them, made for us, shown to them, allows them to remember how valuable they are. From that valuing, they can know they can become anything, conquer anything.

 

I look forward to those times where I can breathe and be. I look forward to the coffee talks, the late dinners, and the impromptu laugh fest at best friends houses. I look forward to time where I can add my love, my light and my strength to the roux that makes this space exceptional. Every woman needs the space where she can be both girl and Wonder Woman. We are no exception.

#BlackWomaning

There seems to be a thread in my family regarding service and caretaking. My grandmother wanted to be a nurse, but spent her working career as a nurses’ aide. Sprinklings of cousins are nurses. My godmother is. My mother, whom is one of the strongest women I know, was a nurse for forty years. I, myself, have chosen that path of service in the form of nursing and social work. In the almost year I have worked at a local hospital, I have encountered prejudices, sorrow, faith and the elemental need for the appreciation of the human condition. This week, I saw evidence of something else:  resilience.

This week, there is a older woman on my floor 2 years younger than my grandmother would be if she were living. I have watched her fight to survive for the last 2-3 days. From moving to breathing to medicine. Tonight, while she was breathing heavy, labored and restless, I helped her to the bathroom. After that, I helped her back in bed, bore her up as she stood to clean her up. As I helped her back in bed, she sat on the side of it–winded. When she let me help her into bed again, oxygen in her nose, heart leads on her chest, and fluids running, she as able to lie down. As she looked to get comfortable, and finally was, I almost wept and hugged her.

Why?

Here’s why.

This nation, in all its sovereignty,   has never allowed us the luxury of black women to rest. Demure is not the nature of soldiers in times of battle. We have never have the luxury to not have  and develop the stamina to survive, fight and be resourceful. Our peace is because of war:  the world outside, inner turmoil, protection and girding of family. There’s a reason why there is this toughness to black women, this inner-tapped strength. We were hewn from rock so our anchors hold. We are shown to hone and use every slight, every broken place and piece for our good, and betterment. We have used these slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and  used, armed, weaponized them to turn what was meant to kill into salvation. We know what it’s like to not have and need and make up as you go along. It is the fire that made us, because it dared consume us.

These invisible lessons gleaned and seen teach us that life is not fair but if you fight, there is justice. And in order for there to be justice, there must be one willing to see it and fight for it. If not for them, but those that will come after. The path must be laid for them, through their own pressing it is made straight. Beaten and worn because they were shown where to go, and how to get there by one wise enough, strong enough to endure…when it would be easier to give up.

Fortune, indeed, favors the brave.

Black women, too, are brave.

The New Slut Shaming

Primogenature-

noun. 1. the state or fact of being the firstborn of children of the same parents. 2. Law. the system of inheritance or succession by the firstborn, specifically the eldest son.

One of my favorite Shakespearean plays is Hamlet. I enjoy the imagery, the drama, and the conflict he has. I always have. As I pushed towards the meat of my English major and its culmination of the degree, I was graced to have University of Missouri-St. Louis Professor Kurt Schreyer  in a ENG 4670 class-Shakespeare:  Tragedies and Comedies. Incredible class, and revelation in that class, I loved it. He started it full speed with Othello, and we eased into Hamlet.
And to that…I learned the dirty secrets of Shakespeare’s prophetic nature.
The premise of the story is this:
Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark whose father is murdered by his brother after a fight with a foreign King. His brother married, usurped his throne, wealth and kingdom–and his wife. The Prince of Denmark, in the pursuit of revenge hoisted onto him by his father, plays ‘mad’ in order to pursue the inevitable murder of his Uncle, Step-Father, and King.
However, there is another element to this:  Hamlet’s mother, Queen Gertrude.
Now, understand, Shakespeare wrote this in Elizabethan time and language. Elizabeth I ruled the English Kingdom, with no King. But despite that, this play is relevant for this purpose:  she married a man, after having a child, determined to live her life in the face of other people. Hamlet told her not to have another child with Claudius–because that child would then move in front of him in the line of succession to the throne of Denmark.
What am I saying?
Whenever women decide to move on with their lives in the face of the thoughts and actions of others, there will be and are those that will be arrows towards your past-especially if it involves children and a man. There will be those (most recently in the case of Ciara and Russell Wilson) that will say her moving on with another man is “wrong” and “what about her son with Future?” and my favorite:   “She shouldn’t have no other man around her son!” The identity of mother is not the encompassing title and responsibility of woman. In short order:  That’s just one component of whom we are as people, especially women.
Because a woman moves on with her life, after a bad relationship, failed marriage, or even widowhood, does not mean her desire for companionship, love or even sex diminishes. She should not be treated as less than because she has desired something greater for her life–namely more from it.
I get so tired of people whom have allowed themselves to die in the area of sex and relationships to dictate what other people should do in theirs. Immediately, even in my own life after my divorce, there were women in my life that told me that I should be single until my children were grown, so they could be protected from any molesters or other nefarious childhood craziness. They told me that to deny myself was the only way to truly be engaged with them, and that denial of self would be the best thing for them.
Now, I agree that there is a definite wisdom to what was told to me and other women in similar situations. However, life isn’t so clean that way. Sometimes, the soul mates comes in a football jersey, on a mail truck, or even at the aisle of a grocery store. My chance to be in love again, treated well, shouldn’t be discounted  because ‘people gon have somethin to say.’ Of course, you should be mindful of whom your children are around, and be knowledgeable of their needs, fears and wants. Neither should you make habit to allowing your children to think it’s okay to jump from relationship to relationship with people because you don’t want your own company. Your children shouldn’t think that its normal to have people walk away from them because things are hard. They are owed stability and the normalcy of that stability.
And so are the women that invite men into their hearts. We are owed the chance to start over, to heal, to remember what it was like to be special and cared for. Just because you’re dating and have children does not mean you are only seeking escapades and rendezvous to make up for lost time. And even if a woman or mother decides to do that, the onus of that decision falls on her–and it would behoove her to be selective in whom she allows herself to be in sexual contact with, because she is worthy of respect.
Shame me if because I had a baby.
Shame me because I had a baby by a man I wasn’t married to.
Shame me because I had the nerve to take my body back and be with someone else.
Shame me because…now I’m  happy.
The wonderful thing is, there is no room in the space for your happiness for other folk to have weight and stake in it. They’ll call you all matter of sluts anyway, because there is no pleasing people, and you will never find your peace in the hands of other people. Live your life, regardless of who is watching.  Plus, if they watch, give them something to see. I guarantee they’ll be looking.

In The Beginning

“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning…”  -Book Of Proverbs

It is always ugly to start something. It is uncomfortable and dirty and complicated. It’s hard to begin something that only you and see or understand. It’s hard to be ‘the one to go first.’ It is the fear of the start that hinders us. The fear that we won’t be able indeed complete what we want to, what we have set out to do. 

The beginning is supposed to be rough and rough looking. New things, world changing things, often take on the wobbly nature of learning to ride a bike:  eager, off-balance, mistake laden. However, it requires one thing–mentoring. Having some one to show you how to ride these ebbing and flowing waves of the commencement of something new is monumental. Being able to share fears and triumphs with one that has been to a similar summit, or near it, allows the journey onwards and towards what is set before you less scary. It makes the journey less leery and the one on that road less skiddish.

Mentors are invaluable in the launching into the new things and for deepening waters. As they wipe tears, dust off knees, they compel us to listen, despite then pain and pushing of discomfort. They implore us to remember the path, what is at stake, and to keep going. In the pursuit of the making the beginning a reality in the end, we must not lose heart. Mentorship in it’s power equips you to go forward, it’s your rocket fuel to scale mountains of doubt or to burrow under walls of fear that have been erected to push you away from what you have determined you want.

Never lose your ability to dream, or be afraid to call off your bike. If you do, I promise you will find someone, or someone will find you, to help you up again. Brilliance can only go as far as help and opportunity will take it.

Of In Love

Love is risk. You have to invest wisely and have tenacity enough that if it goes left, it’s not irrepairable.

Love is a curious weapon as well as it can kill in it’s absence, its presence heals. It shouldn’t be played with, mocked bc if it’s power. With that power, fueled by the people that hold it for each other, we decide to invest that vulnerable self in someone else—in turn gives that vulnerable self to us.

That it remain an instrument of healing, asylum and joy. The thing we fear most is that investment with no return or surplus.  Again, it is, indeed better to hold it for him, them or she, that is chosen that to pour all that is quiet yet alive in you, a portion of the divine, than form someone to misuse it.

For to regain that portion of you that is able to perform such romantic heroism takes time to repair after such a blow…in order to search and do it again for one worthy.

Revolutionary Is Self-Care

“Women are powerful and dangerous.”  -Audre Lourde

The most crucial thing I have been able to notice and admit, is my own mortality and need for self. The need to do things that make–no demand–my soul to stretch. Even the bravest warriors sleep and smile.

In the age of everything instant, I have learned to make myself priority, and my voice strength and not an echo. But in order to do that, I have to acknowledge my mortality and my need for rest. I acknowledge my need for light, compassion and companionship. I acknowledge my need of…me.

I realize that I can’t give anything to anyone if I am depleted (not just empty)! I have determined that acknowledging my mortality keeps me in touch with my humanity. 

I do things that make my soul smile, things that make me think, things and people that pour back into me. I have made me a resource, a priority and a love.

In the circles I travel, I am and have become a bastion, an anchor and a help to others–often at the cost of self. Too often at the cost of time:  the most irrecoupable thing I have. 

In redeeming time, I learn to breathe. I learn I can’t always fight. I can’t always be on red alert. There cannot be, will not be time to slay every dragon if only because I am but one person.

In this realization, in this self honoring truth, I tell myself this:

The light you fight for everyone else to see, you must, too, look up to see it. You are entitled to its warmth and heat and healing. Breathe, and look up.

And so should you.

No Permission Asked…

Beyonce Giselle Knowles Carter is having her twins with her husband. She is the happily married wife and mother of three children. Ciara Wilson is having her baby with her husband, whom has taken on the responsibility of helping her to raise the son she had from a previous relationship. Let me explain why this bothers people.

Mary J. Bilge said in an interview before the 2007 Grammys, that there was, or there where too many people ‘selling pain’, and that people don’t sell joy at all or at the same rate. At this time, I was married to my first husband and pregnant with my first child. I was happily married. I had some intense romantic relationships, but I had not been so tethered to a past relationship or the canard that can come with it…until I got divorced.

It is most trite to hear people say “no one goes into any relationship, planning it to fail.” This adage is not just the beaten dead mule, it is the graveyard full of dead mules whom have been beaten, shot at, thrown from roofs and planes and hit by cars. They are exhausted…and exhausting. To this I offer only one retort:  “I did as best as I could, until I had to do better.” There is no mule required. No mule available.

I left my husband because the situation demanded that I had to. There was no other recourse, because I had other people to consider…another life to consider. There is the dirty work of these types of breakups. People prop up, profit and press for, and pay for the pain you suffer. That abomination of sorrow and voyeurism:  people want to see how you are to see how you are. They buy the magazines, the music and the stories to see how you are to see how you are. In that, you indeed see whom is more like you and in favor of the joy that is due you.

Beyonce is an successful, driven beautiful undeniably black woman. The world automatically thinks she is not due the happiness she found in the life that she made. Especially, to be black and ‘do that.’  It is easier, more tangible and palpable, for the world to see, and continue to define black women as these stoic, unpolished, bearers of pain, and heartsickness. 

To see a happy black woman is an offense to the packaging spirit of whiteness, ‘polite society’ and the affront to the demand for complete personhood of black women aside from exotic fantasy and dark sexuality. She is owed happiness because she has demanded it, crafted it, and has made room for it–and asked no one for it. She never needed to.

Ciara is a woman whom I have been, and whom I have known. She has been a friend, co-worker, and my own reflection. I have been with a man that had no idea how to value me, love me, or speak to what divine I had no idea I housed or he could see. I have been with a man that told me he hated that I did anything that I was going to college, that my ‘education made me better’ than him. I have been the one that tried to fight for a situation that did not value me, add to me, and was an anchor to my heart. I have been the one to try and cover up, salvage…and lie.  I have been her.

  I have been disrespected, lied on and been told I was whore by the man whom helped me make the child he swore he loved. When I heard the gossip that rang like broken glass that ‘she had the baby to make Future mad’, I couldn’t laugh loud enough or roll my eyes hard enough. The missing component to this chaos is this:  the sentient nature of love and the personhood of black women.

Ciara was disrespected, hurt and placed in the gutter with a man that wanted to see her continue to wilt and never fly.  I cannot speak to the type of man he is as I do not know him (personally) but I have met and dated his representatives and clones. These type of people (not just men) fear being out of control or being left out. They love to acquire but have no idea how to maintain. They gather chaos, but embrace nothing of you. You find yourself contorting into a person unrecognizable for the sake or peace and sustaining of a relationship you are lost in. In that process of recovery, reconciling of removing yourself from all that was weighted toxic–you are found wholly beautiful again by someone that can see the divine you house. 

I can only imagine the wrestling Ciara went through as to whether or not to accept the advances of another man–to allow another person into her world with the potential of devastating it. She had so decide if he was or would be worth the chatter she would hear when her name came up in public conversation or in private cursing with her ex. The world is not accustom to the power or grace and poise held by black women–when, sometimes, that is all we have.

Ciara had to decide to believe Russell…and there is where the story is retold.

She had to unlearn Future and all he meant to her.

She had to destroy the taped history he left in her head. She had to be bold enough to embrace Russell and what he promised her than hide behind what Future would never deliver and make Russell pay for it. 

The world is enthralled with the strength of black women:  our wit, our stares, even the steel we place in our backs. What is foreign is when we become more thunder than lightning. When that heat is melded and we are refined and redefined by what was mean to kill us. She chose to believe Russell and chose to be happy because as a woman whom had been hurt, she, too, deserved to be happy…no matter what people thought.

There will always be those whom determine the worth of women by their pain, their suffering and how silent they scream. What is not celebrated, is how they are forged to become better without apology. We whom survive and endure owe the world nothing but the benefit of knowing the storm did not drown, neither did its waters overtake. We survive because dying is meant to do only once–not at the behest of those whom never wanted you to live in the first place.