Gifting

The world needs its misfits. It’s magic workers. It’s conjurers.

From that, we get those with the blessing of being soft places to fall. The ever-present open ears and able shoulders. The open eyes that see and never say–unless asked. The healers of this world and work.

Those of us that see suffering and pain and loneliness and strive to stop it. Seek to understand what it is, why it is, and how to avoid it–channel it into better. That’s what those of us that are healers do.

We write. We emote. We sing of passions and callings. We tell the truth about this mortal experience, even when it hurts. We tell the stories that need to be told, even when they are our own.

We gift those we love with our own tears, spun gold and as medicine to give to those in need of that wisdom. That wisdom of that weight can only be given and used when it comes from experience. When we didn’t die after that first heartbreak, we can tell you that you won’t. We didn’t panic when trouble came, ran our of money or when our parents died. We go through to give you a map.

Sometimes this is the trouble of being one of those unique open God has opened to see the world behind the world–to see the trouble of mankind and a way out of it. Sometimes you have to be the first one to bleed to teach the second to follow how to heal.

Talking Not To Talk

There are people that talk and never say anything. There are people that speak and say everything.

Sometimes, it is the job of those closest to us, as ugly as that job is, to discern which is which.

We speak a for all types of reasons and occasions, but what is it that we say? There are conversations we have when we really don’t want to talk about what really bothers us, troubles us, or keeps us awake at night.

The loneliness of man and woman is often found in the company we keep. We can know a lot of people, and a lot of people can be acquainted with us, but how many people really know you? How many people in your circle can discern speech from chatter? Can they call you on and in empty conversation?

You don’t have to answer that out loud.

We have these levels of people in our lives, these outer people and inner circle. In the case of some people, all they have are outer people:  the yes men, the yes women, the people you pay, the people that fear you, the people that never tell you no or bad news.

The inner circle people? These are the precious ones. The people whom have watched you grow up, cry, sweat and in some cases help you leap out of burning situations. This level of intimacy, this level of friendship is crafted and cultivated over years. The society in which we live doesn’t lend itself to intimacy. It pushes us to likes, and follower counts, and what can be remedied with an app.

Perhaps this is why the chatter can be indistinguishable from speech, including the cries for help. Hidden in the reflexive, reactive “I’m okay,” “Nothing’s wrong,” or “Wyd” text messages.

We’re all guilty of it. We find ourselves on these desolate, emotional islands with no one to pour out to. All matter of chaos is breaking loose in your life, and you’re surrounded by people whom have no idea how to connect with you, speak to your heart, or even understand the gravity of the weight you carry.

Reach out.

It does not make you week to ask for what you need. Those around you should be able to love you and hear you–even by what you don’t say. Don’t have filler conversations when it feels like you’re going to drown in your own pain and grief.

I’m far from saying, “Suck it up, buttercup.” What I will say is, “You won’t die in this.” The thing that helped me–what I’m doing right now–WRITING. That helped me to channel everything that I thought, and but all those storms on paper. For you it could be, a hot bath, shopping or even sitting outside and watch the sun.

But remember, filler conversations, solve nothing. Life is not a term paper–there is no word count to satisfy. Say what you mean–mean what you say–mean what it is you ask for. Even if that is as basic as needing more of you to give back to the world.

The world indeed owes you nothing, but you owe everything to yourself.

Why Mama Cry When You Can’t See Her

The first time I saw my mother cry, I was about 3. It was the worst, most helpless feeling I have ever had. I told myself that anyone that made my mother cry was bad, and I never wanted her to cry over something I said or did to her.

In this, the 36th summer of life, I haven’t kept that promise, and I, too, have cried in front of my daughters. The thing I never wanted to do, or have them see. 

Why is this? Let me off you this…

There is this myth surrounding black women. That we are hard, unyielding, and callous—bitter, sour and mean. 

Far from true.

We’ve been taught that we have to become and embody a strength reserved for God and to the envy of other people. We’re seen as these women devoid of the weight of emotion, but assigned with the burden of man.

Not. So.

I cry most when my children can’t see me because I want them to remain children. I want them to maintain their innocence the world strips from little black girls. 

I cry where they can’t see me to remind myself  I am owed myself. I’m a owed space to grieve, process and acknowledge what is happening to me. I get to be human. 

Self-care is always seen as a luxury black women, sometimes. Like we don’t “need” space to “breathe and be”.  We do. We are women like anyone else and deserve that same respect and luxury to rest and emote.

Mamas cry when you can’t see them to release. We cry when you can’t see them to regroup, to allow for grief not to overtake and make you bitter. 

Mama is our superhero selves. 

But we still suit up, every day…even when Kyptonite is present.

*First, Awakenings…

First, Awakenings…

In this daily grand unveiling

Between mirror and man,

I present as goddess, mortal, and woman.

 

More invulnerable than I would like

The woman is choked out,

Voice stolen in the awakening of

Constant responsibility,

And the duty of the service to others.

 

In this moment, both bare and naked,

I embrace the most excellent now.

I see me as I wished I could

When girldom and life we before me.

I seize and reclaim all that is me and you

In the legacy of all whom are female

And woman to follow,

To be resilent  and thankful.

 

From my crown, I see hair of

Radiance

Free and authentic as lion’s wool.

Indicative of the she-warriors before me,

And to be descended from me.

 

Eyes as clear as summer blues

And regal and brown as earth,

Housing passion, hot and molten

As moved by the whims of God Himself

To Gaia in love  and justice.

 

Skin as luminous as clear moons,

To the luxe shades of ebony alabaster.

Because you see, I too am

And am made by sacred fire.

 

I stretch hands, open and warm

Towards sunshine, surrendering to

All the day will wield and hold.

I remember the strengths of

Them that bore and shaped me.

Proud of my blood—beyond family.

Sharing wisdom beyond years

And years lost.

 

Those forces both male and female

Whom have poured into my

Mortal divine,

Have given ear to unapologetic secrets

That make girl-women invincible

In times proven to try our souls.

 

I house, we house courage limitless

When none are left,

But we who see and defend

Them, too, whom bare the

Weight which is accustomed

To the bold-believing to effect change.

 

I am she.

               She are we.

 

In this light, in this place

Before one but my Creator,

Whether in locker rooms, offices,

Beaches or quiet nights,

I can at last admire His complete

Handiwork.

 

The deft of the skill of

A sovereign power, that

I be made oracle, over this life

Given, without hesitation,

Chose to live.

 

I am a vessel divinely written

And breathed that exudes

Joy  and hope unspeakable.

The creative power of the

Almighty is infused in every

Sway of hip, slight of hand,

Full use of tongues and dialect

I seek and speak.

 

The worthy harmony of my voice,

Our voices, together remind the world

Of the tenacious beauty harnessed

In the presence of the impossible.

These things hidden in my, our, souls.

 

I am more than breasts,

And curve of hip, plump with oh’s and ah’s.

I am more than the hunted and unconquerable pussy.

 

I will not be stifled by boxes

Meant for those without truth.

I am human, I am present

And I will not fade away.

My voice, my sound, as echo

Is joined with heavenly choruses

From my belly that sing in

Ancient tongues, fit and fluent.

 

Ancestral wisdom I greet

In my reflection, reminding me

Of all that is priceless to those

That listen to the whispers of

The aged:

IMANI (faith)

KUJICHAGULIA (self-determination)

 

I embrace the non-smootheness,

Thickness of my thighs,

How they gape, tough or rub,

As they end and become calves,

That attach to feet,

Fearless as thunder.

 

I am aware  of curses sent by

Conjurers of this world,

Conspiring to weave a shroud

Around the path of whom I will

be, in favor of the steady seducing of

Whom it is easier to become.

 

I embrace that sentient

Autonomy that has made me

Unstoppable as water.

I own all that has been owed to me,

To be able to transcend this

Shell that the soul inhabits

And let go of all weight and waiting.

 

Such vulnerable, soft dignity

To live life embracing scars from

Wars future and past—capable, compassionate.

Yet, I smile, still beautiful, with

Healing presence offered to those

Found weary along street corners,

Bar stools, and the Jericho road

Fallen among thieves.

 

It takes a survivor, to know a survivor.

 

After I have imbibed perseverance,

               After earnestly suffering awhile,

I can breathe deep and easy, as naturalists do.

When the new, fresh journey is set before them.

The world outside is home,
Carpe diem its theme.

 

Now, peace  for the life after,

For now, always now,

I can awake, and look at whom

I always was, to whom I will become

And know I matter.

Know I am special.

Know I am engraced and equipped to journey.

I know to this world, I belong.

 

(c)-JBHarris, 4/1/17

*-This work was performed in February 2017 at the unveiling of The Awakenings Project (now known as A1), and is my own work and copywritten. All words from this project were used in this work. I was asked to create a piece for the unveiling, and the artist included the entire poem in the first volume of The Awakenings Project. For ordering information, please go to http://www.southardsartstudio.com or follow The Awakenings Project here on WordPress, Facebook or Instagram.

 

It’s Not About The Dishes…

My mother’s pet peeve was her house being dirty, especially dishes dishes in her sink. Oh, she HATED that! I didn’t understand why she hated it until I became a mother…

It was never about the dishes. It’s never about the dishes. It’s about respect, time and energy. The plenty of it and the desire for more of it.

My mother was married, worked, went to school and had three children. She was constantly being pulled and poured out into everyone that needed her.

It wasn’t that the place where we lived was constantly in squalor, she needed something she didn’t have to control. Something else she wasn’t expected to handle.

I get it now. I give to people constantly. My job. My husband. My children. My immediate family.

Even y’all…

I constantly am expected to gift and give and not think I need more than the joy of having spent myself for the greater of other people.

And I come home to laundry, vacuuming to do…and dishes. I fuss because it’s another thing I have to handle…and I don’t always want to be the one to handle and do and save the day.

I deserve to have my thoughts heard and ask for help. It’s not always up to me and I am more than a work ethic and suppression. I deserve help and safety too. I’m learning that slamming my way through chores helps nothing. What does is when I set expectations for myself and the people around me.

From that, I create accountability and consequences. I don’t put my power in the hands of other people. When you do that, other people the. Control how you respond, and its intensity.

It’s never about the dishes, even when it’s the dishes…

Superheroing

We try and do everything…for everyone, us women-folk do. We create time, to create time for everything and everyone else…at the cost of ourselves. At the cost of ourselves. The dirty secret no one tells you about adulthood is that there is and never will be ‘enough time’. This concept of making time is a fraud. I hate to tell you. The more time you make, the more time you think you need to make, and the more time you truly don’t have.

Let me explain it this way.

There are seven days in a week. Twelve months in a year. Fifty-two weeks in any given year. This standard of time does not change. It will not change. How much time is allotted, is all that will be allotted. You can never ‘create’ time. What we do is become better facilitators of that time, better stewards of it.

That reminder get lost in the pacing of this life, doesn’t it? All the weight we pick up, put down and lie about the weight of. We do it because…we have to, and ‘no one else does or will.’

In my day job, I see the wear of that pacing. In the hands of women that are my mother’s age and past. I see it in their eyes, their feet and smaller diagnosed parts of their bodies. Hearts. Eyes. Lungs.

I get to see what the result of the pursuit of creating time, making time, and racing it becomes. I get a window into what happens when that battery pack runs out. I get to see what happens when I say I’m okay when I’m not. I get to see what happens when that recharge is given to everyone else. When that strength, skill and resolve are given to everyone else. When the value I pour into everyone else is never put back into me.

I found out what happens when Wonder Woman can no longer be a wonder to herself.

I find out on a daily basis what the giving of self at the cost of self gives.

It is admirable what we as women do, and must do, and God has gifted us to do. It is remarkable. However, in the caring, and doing, and saving of others, we tell ourselves that we will ‘rest when I’m dead’ or ‘I’ll be off in the next few days’  or my favorite, “Just let me get through this shift and I’ll rest this weekend.”

Creating time. Making time. Not having time.

I’m learning that sometimes I have to be my own hero. I’m learning that I can’t to do it all, save everyone and be all things to everyone. I can’t, It’s not normal. I’m allowed to say what hurts, why it hurts and why I don’t want it to hurt anymore.

Supergirl is allowed to be a Kent– every now and then…

 

 

*The Awakenings Project (Thank You, Marissa…)

I consider myself a word alchemist. I love the written word, and the power that it brings. So when I was told about The Awakenings Project, I thought it was the dopest thing that I could participate in. I was humbled to even be asked. I thought the premise was genius and in the cultural tempest that we are in, I thought it was needed. I had to add my magic to it.

My word:  ORACLE.

To me, this word carried so much power. So much history, and so much weight. I adore words, so I had to look up what it is the modern Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an ‘oracle’ as  I found there were 7 definitions.  The ones that I thought were most applicable to me are:

  1. a person who delivers authoritative, wise, or highly regarded and influential pronouncements.
  2. divine communication or revelation.
  1. any person or thing serving as an agency of divine communication.

 

Oracles in folklore are secret keepers, storytellers and always are presented with this degree of mystery and mystique.

 They are these mystical, metaphysical creatures that touch natural and divine and there is something about them that is indescribable. 

That ‘certain something’…that aire, or charm.

Being a writer, I believe that this word encompasses everything that I felt growing up and daydreaming; being able to ‘pull’ these imaginary, real people into paper and ink, conjure what is not to what is. 

Being able to tie together nows and thens into the could be’s and futures yet. I think that word wraps up all that I am as an artist.

Since participating in the project, I have been more active in exercising my gifts and talents in my pursuit of being a writer. I have become more confident in my talent and gifts, and sharing that with people and venturing out in different arenas that those of my kind are found.

 I have embraced that portion of myself, and honor it.

The Awakenings Project has helped me accept that of myself which I was unsure about, and was not confident in. 

I’m an Oracle. And that is badass.

Subject:  Jennifer Harris

Date of Session: 12/2016

*The Awakenings Project is the brainchild of a dear friend of mine, Marissa Southards. She asked me to be a part of this project (now known as Awakenings I or A1) in 2016 and I agreed. With the launch of her blog of the same name (The Awakenings Project), she asked those subjects to write a reflection of the involvement in that process.  Any questions about the project can be answered there.

Y’all should hop over to her blog and follow her awesome.

Shoot Your Shot, B.

I have always had a smattering of really good girl friends, and more guy friends than anything. It was odd. Probably because growing up I had more male cousins to play with than anything, and while I knew how to jump rope, I knew how to catch, too.

The thing that I keep noticing among a lot of the guys in my world is…regret.

I mean this palpable regret. This social moping of the ‘loss’ of their loves of their lives, or girls that they really liked but never went for, and this resolve that they are going to be that old dude in the club chasing skirts.

To them, I say this: Shoot your shot, B.

Meaning, go after what you want, or who you want. I’m not saying stalk her or be clingy and inappropriate, but I am saying take initiative. Now, I can’t speak for everyone, but I can tell you this. Confidence is always attractive.

Yes, it is.

 

It’s a beautiful thing when I man tells you that you’re on his radar.

When I was dating the hubs, our very first phone conversation, he said something slick to me, and I checked him–like, knee jerk check!–and he was like, “Baby, baby…” I said, “Hold on, I’m your woman!”

You know what he told me?

“Yet.”

See there.

But there is something to be said for being bold, though! So, let’s use the hubs pursuit of me to help you a little bit:

1.) KNOW WHAT YOU WANT.

The worst thing other wasted money and talent? Wasted time. If you don’t want a girlfriend/woman/wife the don’t entertain the woman who’s looking to be a someone’s girlfriend/woman/wife.

 

2.) STUDY HER.

Find out what she likes and doesn’t like. Hold random conversations. Pick her brain. It let’s her know she’s important. Always a good thing, fellas.

 

3.) PURSUE HER.

This is where you get nervous, right?

Will she? 🙂

Won’t she?😒

Does she?🙃

This is where you gotta commit, love. No way around it. If she’s who you want? It’s easier to get a quick “No,” than deal with a 15 year “I should have.”

If she’s into you, you’ll know. It won’t be forced. Now,  hard to get is an age old thing, and I did that with the hubs. How did he overcome it?

4.) PERSISTENCE.

He legit told me I was who he wanted, and no matter what I did to shake him? Nope.

Stop lamenting and being mad the one you want is living her life. Go get her!

Tell her she’s pretty one morning!

Make her laugh!

Listen to her.

Find her favorite flower and give them to her…just because.

Discover the minutiae about her. I promise you, for every beautiful woman, there’s a portion of her that needs to be spoken to and recognized…beyond the pretty.

Pursue her beyond the pretty.

PURSUE HER BEYOND THE PRETTY.

Once you do that, you can stop lamenting about the “one that got away,” because you’ll have her.

And if she doesn’t see what you offer?

Keep it pushing.

 

She’ll realize what she loss sooner than you think.

Especially, when she realizes you were really the one she wanted…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 I Filled My Xanax

*The pharmacy called to let me know my medicine was ready.

I didn’t recognized the number so, I let it go to voicemail.

I knew what medicine, and I knew that it was indeed my medicine. Mine.

I picked it up Tuesday morning, this little ugly orange pill bottle with this medicine in it with the power to help me not think the world will end if I don’t keep kick-starting it. I was grateful. I remembered the words of my physician, a black woman old enough to be my older sister. I told her my trepidation about taking anything.

She had already fussed at me about not going to my cardiology appointment (I went, did the stress test, and all is well), and told me that I could half the dose of it I needed it. The medicine was only when I needed it. I looked at her, and smiled.

She, a woman of my experience, told me it was okay for me not to be okay. I was okay to have asked for help, and help be expected to come. She gave me license to begin the arduous task most black women don’t do well or often: take care of ourselves.

I told her my plan for self-care, stress management, and she listened and took notes. I got to tell her that I was trying to be okay, I really was, but I knew that I wasn’t. I was doing everything, because everything had to be done. I am a wife, mother, writer, preacher, friend, daughter, godmother, sister and entrepreneur. With everything in the air, something was liable to break…like me.

The medicine is in my cabinet, much like a lighthouse among rocks. It’s there to provide light and assistance to keep from crashing among the rocks. And I’m grateful it is there.

*Too often, those of us whom service everyone else forget to refill ourselves. We let the cares of this life overtake us, and we reach for light and help too late. It is not that my faith in God is at a point where I don’t believe He can’t do all that He says. Quite the contrary! I consider myself part of the lepers whom Christ healed whom where told to go and show themselves to the priests…they were healed as they went. The healing is in the going. I understand there are some that will read this and think whatever they will. That’s fine. It is my belief that medicine and therapy are tools of healing. There are some whose healing/duration of dealing with mental health issues are instantaneous. But there are some that are healed as they go. The key is, we keep going. The first step? Knowing you cannot do it all alone.