Today

Today

It became a little too warm in my part of the building this afternoon. I figured if I’m going to be hot, it might as well be because of the sun beating down on this body. I took a walk around the neighborhood. I stopped in front of an art studio a couple of blocks away and admired the flowers placed out front.

It’s funny the difference a week can make. I was riddled with anxiety the week before and today, I am taking pictures of flowers.

I hope the day I had today is burned into my memory. Burned because I need to remember days like this exist when the reality I am facing is heartbreaking. Burned because I am blessed to have days like this.

Let me not forget there are those who are sick, who lack clean water, are locked in cages, imprisoned unjustly and those who are fighting for their freedom.

Not that I don’t have the right to mourn or be frustrated but I am embracing the adage that perspective is everything.

 

On the Other Side

On the Other Side

As I drove to work this morning, I listened to the first part of a sermon about patience.

And it made me wonder, after all of these years, why it is something I still struggle with.

I am in a hurry, in my current situation, for a loved one to heal.

I am in a hurry for my body to fully recover and recognize that it is going to be alright. Instead, it rebelled and robbed me of breath and sleep this past weekend.

I am in a hurry to figure out how our lives are “supposed to look” next.

I realized that being in a hurry, fraught with fear, can mean many things:

I am human.

I don’t know what is next and that is no different from other parts of my life. Sometimes failing, falling, crawling, careening into ambiguity is the only way to move forward.

It also can mean I am not completely trusting God to carry me through every moment. I believe He is not surprised by it either. God knew what He was getting when I was created. It doesn’t mean I don’t work on strengthening my trust.

It means I give myself grace.

I give myself space for the trust to develop, to heal, to write, to read, to pray, to forgo blame and the weight of trying to understand “why.”

I give myself space to rest, breathe, listen to wise counsel and pour my love into others.

On the other side of this, I hope patience finds me a bit sooner and not in a hurry.

Timing

Timing

On Saturday I was supposed to participate in a writing event, find out the status of a residency application, attend a birthday celebration and maybe go to the movies.

For a variety of reasons, none of those things happened.

But other things did:

It was confirmed for me (yet again) that I have friends (in the absence of local family) who offer to be here for me and Hubby.

It was confirmed that I have a hard time asking for or accepting certain kinds of help from people not bound by blood to me. The offers were most definitely made but there is a part of me that wants or needs to believe I can walk through harder times independently just in case the offers aren’t genuine or the moment I ask or accept the offer, I will become a burden. I would never advise anyone else to adopt this mentality which leads to the next confirmation: I am¬†a work in progress. I typed and deleted a few texts asking for a small favor but there were times in the past I did not even bother to type.

It was confirmed that I can hear about a delay (in regards to the application status) and instantly be at peace with it. When I read the email, I closed it and acknowledged it wasn’t time for me to know the status one way or another. It allowed the freedom and mental space to give all of me to the trial being faced.

There is a spiritual quality to timing.

There is a spiritual quality to timing.

There is a spiritual quality to timing.

I don’t want to reduce broken plans, unmet expectations and family emergencies to that but I also cannot deny what is being confirmed or the strength of the conviction felt.

So again:

There is a spiritual quality to timing.

There is a spiritual quality to timing.

There is a spiritual quality to timing.

 

Cleansing

Cleansing

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been daydreaming about waterfalls. Standing under one. Standing by one and staring, completely transfixed. I was watching a show about a painter who was on a retreat. She took a long bike ride, hitch hiked and eventually ended up at Menemsha Beach on Martha’s Vineyard admiring the beauty of the sunset, the tangerine and coral swallowed by the blanket of night. I almost cried as the scene faded.

I shared my waterfall fantasies with a co-worker today. Yes, I am aware that summer is upon us and that’s probably why the urge is as strong as it is now. But she suggested something I hadn’t thought of before.

Maybe I am craving a cleansing.

I know how it sounds but when she said it, something connected. The last year has been full of ups and downs and a health mystery not quite solved. Our last piece of news was as good as it could get. I know as soon as I get the chance, take the chance to genuinely breathe, hopefully underneath a life giving force such as water, there will be a cleansing.

Maybe I am elevating a vacation, some fun in the sun, splashes in the water to mythic proportions but it’s fine by me.

I am willing to believe in the story.

I am willing to believe in a cleansing.

EVIDENCE

EVIDENCE

I was preparing work for an residency application recently. To do so, I gathered up some of my journals and spent time walking myself down memory lane. I leafed through¬† pages of drafts of poems, words and phrases I couldn’t let go of, entries simply dedicated to gratitude interspersed with prayers asking God to save me in the midst of my most trying periods of anxiety and short stories created in my evening writing classes.

As I read, I realized I was going through more than whatever poured from me at the time, more than memories.

I was going through evidence.

Evidence that proved I didn’t want to keep it bottled up inside. Evidence that I have been broken, grateful, loving, miserable, joyous, creative, funny, scared, unapologetic, selfish, giving, a conduit for characters I didn’t know needed to exist, lazy, sexy, prideful, hard-working.

Evidence that proved I was a writer.

Evidence that proved I. WAS. HERE.

 

Privilege

Privilege

I felt my age in the best way this past week. At work, I was asked questions about my professional experience and my current dreams by a young twenty-something intern. I answered all questions thoughtfully without any apology or excuse for mistakes I have made.

I had lunch with a dear friend over the weekend. We spoke for hours about our next steps, our relationships, families and made plans for a literary weekend getaway. Reconnecting with someone with whom I have a strong bond with, built over many years is one of my greatest joys and makes me a more whole woman.

I went to an event about mindfulness on Friday. We did an exercise where, without our phones and in complete silence, a group of us went outside for five minutes and observed nature. There was power in the silence of people, the wood logs arranged artistically at the entrance, a charcoal gray insect traversing a bright green leaf and my choice to remove my shoes and feel the earth beneath.

Feeling my age did not mean I slowed down. It meant I could speak fondly about the past without a need to sugar-coat. I can reflect, thanking the girl and woman I was who allowed me to be who I am. I did not wish to be a young girl. I like who I have become and still look forward to chances I will take when I am in my 40s.

It is a privilege to own this experience while I am living it. It is a privilege to enjoy it while I am living it.

A Word

A Word

Last Thursday I went to a book launch for “Traveling the River” a moving book of poetry by my good (and wildly talented friend) Hope Whitby.

After congratulating her and taking pictures as if I was a proud mama, I took my seat and waited for the reading portion of the evening to begin.

A word kept coming to mind as I waited and persisted as Hope told stories of what inspired certain pieces and as she read her work to us. A word kept coming to mind as I took in the beauty of the Japanese artwork around me. A word kept coming to mind as I watched her supporters fill the seats, ready to toast her with cake and champagne.

Deserving.

I have spent many evenings in writing classes with her, around a table in reserved library spaces and cafes listening to her stories and poems and sharing literary dreams. She gave me my first book about haikus and was one of the first people to buy my E-book last year. When I heard she was asked to write this book, the first book by Valley Haggard’s Life in 10 Minutes press, it came as no shock at all. It felt right. It felt as if my friend’s time has come.

When your friend or family’s time has come, you stop and celebrate. You plunk down your money and buy. You gift it.

And maybe you even write a blog post about it.

 

 

 

Survival

Survival

Working out as a means of survival.

Someone asked me if I was working out, as a means of self-care.

I immediately started to talk about a work out regimen or whether or not I was making it to the gym.

After I finished, I was told I was asked about working out not as a means to lose weight but as a means of survival.

I have never thought of it that way before. I have never thought of anything I do as a way “to survive.”

Because there has been periods in my life (especially within the last year) where stress moved in to our guest bedroom and snuggled up in the sheets, maybe I will look at moving this vessel of mine and transferring these thoughts onto the page as a means of survival.

Maybe this is my way of using a machete to hack away at the brush in the wilderness. A way to be my own hero.

A way to move from survive to thrive.

Trust

Trust

I was recently asked what I was doing to take care of myself.

I paused and realized I didn’t have a good answer. I am unable to take the writing class I want at this time. The additional work I have taken on is worth it however, I have not yet struck a balance yet. Balancing work, home life, exercise and adequate rest. So I am making time right now to write, with eyes half closed, Sixers game in the background, contemplating reworking the poem I wrote yesterday.

I may have slowed down but not to a stop. I am also not discouraged. Maybe letting go of the pressure to post so often has been the self-care I need. I think there was a part of me that would have felt forgotten and all of my hard work would have somehow washed away if I took the break that I needed.

But that is just clinging to fear which serves no one, least of all me.

I am going to trust myself. Trust the writer I know I am and the audience who will find me.

 

Reconnection

Reconnection

A co-worker told me she rented studio space recently to begin doing her art again and it reminded me that I had let several weeks go by without writing.

I have added quite a bit of new work to my schedule which (predictably) sapped any creativity from me. There was also a death in my family which despite great sadness brought us together.

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Spending time with my cousins again was such a gift.

But with this death came reconnection. Not just with my parents, cousins and aunts and uncles who I sorely missed. We had the pleasure of staying with Hubby’s cousins in Georgia on the way down to Florida. We stayed with them almost 5 years ago on an anniversary trip to Savannah. They welcomed us with such warmth and exuberance I immediately remembered why I loved staying with them so much the first time around.

After coming back from Florida to their home, they took us out, fed us well and made us feel right at home. I even shared some of my writing with them and I got to read work one of them wrote. They gave us a surprise the night before we left. To honor my Haitian heritage, they gifted us with two paintings and a wooden piece purchased in an artist square on Port-au-Prince in the 90’s. I was and am incredibly moved.

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Our amazing cousins who gave us lovely Haitian art and made us feel right at home.

On the way back home, there was another reconnection.

A completely unexpected one.

Hubby and I reconnected. Between work schedules, doctor appointments and life in general, we haven’t spent enough quality time together. I am not counting time spent catching up on TV shows.

The long drives provided uninterrupted time full of conversation, laughter, 80s and 90s music sing-alongs and random comfortable silences.

When we finally came home, he went back out to run a quick errand while I started dinner. While pasta was cooking, I sat back down and an intense feeling hit me.

I missed him. We just spent almost 8 hours in the car together and I missed him. I hadn’t felt that way after just being around him since we first got married.

Although the trip was born out of a painful experience, I recognize and honor the blessings that came from it.