She’s Here!

She’s Here!

I asked God to make me like water. It’s a sentence I have written down several times over the past few weeks as I have been preparing for the release of my new book of prose and poetry “She Lives Here” with L10 Press (Issue 2 of Unzipped, their new literary magazine subscription service).

I am proud of this book and am in love with the cover art created by Alexandra Antoine.

I have been writing about God making me like water because while I know overall this process is a joyful one, there will be moments of overwhelm and frustration. Since perfection doesn’t live here (or anywhere else), I will make a mistake while being interviewed, find a typo or someone I expect to support me decides not to. Even though my nature is to try to control these outcomes, the truth is that these things are inevitable. I want to ride this wave of gratitude for everything that has gone right.

When I was 11, I wrote about what kind of writer I wanted to be. I dreamed of being a novelist and writing for TV. Although the description doesn’t quite match the reality at this time, there is a part of me that wants to reach back 29 years and tell that little girl, “We did it!” A friend of mine asked me how it feels to know you wrote it down as a child and didn’t let the dream go. I didn’t have the words. It means I didn’t forget about her. I didn’t let alternate career choices, other people’s expectations, my own fear, anxiety, perceived ideas of “what should happen” stop me from trying.

I also want to let things flow like water, be water, is because I cannot control any reaction to my work either. As I wrote, I tried to embody the Nikki Giovanni quote: “You must be unintimidated by your own thoughts because if you write with someone looking over your shoulder, you’ll never write.” It took a couple drafts to get there but I trusted in the value of not holding back. I am thinking back to how I placed some of my more raw pieces in the middle of an earlier draft as if my publisher and editor wouldn’t be able to find it. I had to trust in the healing my relationships went through so I could open up about traumas and disappointments experienced in a real way. I know what has been worked through so I could write without deep fear of being disrespectful.

I ultimately wrote with freedom and love.

While writing, I gained clarity on why I made certain rules for myself, how, what and who I love, my capacity for forgiveness and the value of accountability. Writing “She Lives Here” has created space for me to be more of who I am—a Black woman who chooses to dream, live, and write with joy.

With joy, I would like to invite you to the virtual launch party of “She Lives Here” on Life in 10 Minutes’ Facebook page on March 19th at 5pm EST!

If you would like to pre-order before the official release on March 15th:

https://www.lifein10minutes.com/unzipped-issues/unzipped-issue-2-she-lives-here

I hope you all enjoy “She Lives Here” and find pieces that inspire or speak to you.

In the Moment

In the Moment

This weekend, Hubby and I attended the Heart Festival at a local meditation center. Earlier that week, I saw two lectures that seemed interesting: The Science of Meditation and Meditation as Medication.

Due to driving and walking a bit further than anticipated, we were a little late but came in on the tail end of the first portion before the introduction of the meditation. I wished I could have heard what she had to say. However, we did get a chance to participate in the meditation which lasted much longer than I expected–at least a half hour.

The chairs were comfy, the room darkened and my feet were bare– a seemingly perfect recipe for a successful meditation. However, my mind and heart raced. I wondered why I didn’t hear more about the science, how long would it actually last and then hoped I would eventually drift off to sleep to tame the pace of my thoughts.

I never did but it got me thinking about being in the moment. During the second presentation, Dr. Dilip Sarkar addressed our short attention spans, the benefits of yoga therapy and shared concrete evidence of improved health of his students and patients. I could have stayed another hour. One thing that stuck with me is his emphasis on achieving a meditative state all of the time. It reminded me of 1 Thessalonians 5:17: Pray without ceasing.

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I understand the spirit of the verse and Dr. Sarkar were asking for the same thing: peace and contentment without the oppression of anxiety and the illusion of control.

After the Heart Festival, we went to a local bookstore for a poetry reading to support my friend Hope’s book “Traveling the River.” It was followed by an open mic where I was encouraged to read a couple of pieces. Normally, if I were to read I would have chosen to wear something different, pieces would have been printed out and read aloud to myself a couple of times.

But I let all of those ideas go.

I chose to be in the moment.

 

Control

Control

Sometimes I tell my husband I am letting go of the idea I need to be in control, he takes a big step back and says he is getting out of the way (because he doesn’t want lightning to strike him).

I try but clearly I am not as successful as I think I am. But there is one thing I am working on letting go of:

The story I told myself about who I am. I have been letting go of it for the past 3 years.

I was telling myself (and others) that I liked to write but I wasn’t a writer.

That I was more of a simple person who wasn’t into changing her hair.

I wasn’t a teacher.

I was completely burnt out by Human Services and couldn’t see myself returning to it in any meaningful way.

But here I am: Looking slightly different, helping men and women start over at a dynamic nonprofit, blogging, publishing articles, writing an E-book journal, speaking, attending inspirational conferences and writing classes and will soon be learning how to fuse my passion for writing and healing others together.

A part of me needed to tell those old stories to lie about how much control I had over everything. But holding on that tight to an old, over told story doesn’t leave room for one thing.

Growth.

Your turn:

What story have you been telling about yourself in order to stay in control?

 

 

Summer so far…

Summer so far…

Outside of Toni Morrison’s glorious new documentary, I took time for a few weeks to process multiple things that were going on.

I went to an event about harnessing fear.

I went to a comedy show and laughed until it hurt.

I started journaling again (not everyday but I began picking up the pen).

I became much more comfortable with not reaching out to people who don’t reach out to me. It didn’t feel petty. It felt right. I want to cultivate relationships with people who show they care. They deserve all the love and kindness I have to give and I truly wish others well but they no longer take up real estate in my mind.

I am taking a long break from the scale. Not as an excuse to eat but as a way to love myself.

I started drinking a gallon of water a day.

I decided not to eat my boredom and emotions after dinner.

I went to therapy, a helpful and potentially life-changing workshop on breast health and received a vigorous and soothing armpit massage (who knew about the armpits?)  and received therapeutic massage.

I cut down my cable (a lot).

I donated books and old DVDs.

I fell a little more in love with one of my jobs.

I met someone who confirmed a next step for me with my writing.

I showed my arms more than I usually would because it’s hot and psoriasis cannot be hidden all the time nor should it be.

I went to a festival and danced with some friends.

I put some time in at church and listening to podcasts that made me think (and take action) about what I want for the next 10-15 years.

I did experience anxiety but I breathed through it.

I let go and let myself live.

Your turn:

How have you let go and let yourself live this summer?

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.

 

Put Up or Shut Up

Put Up or Shut Up

I don’t think I want to write about anything health related these days. My posts seem to read on repeat when it comes to health. I am not the kind of blogger that wants to share everything so I find myself constantly editing my thoughts when I write here.

When I know I am taking consistent action on my health, I will post about it here again. Until then, I will post on Thursdays and the focus will be on writing. I will start sharing pieces I have written, too. I already miss using prompts to write fiction and non-fiction work in class. Why not continue it here?

Making this change is the most self-aware choice I have made in awhile (aside from therapy). I know when I am doing my best, when I am just talking about wanting to do my best and when I have nothing left to say at all concerning it.

This is my season to put up or shut up.

So I am putting the pen down and picking it back up again when there is something real to share.

 

 

Punches

Punches

I went to the movies today to see Creed II. As I enjoy movies about underdogs with exercise montages, I loved it. It made me think about how many punches can be taken before any one of us throws in the towel.

As I have mentioned before, Hubby and I are dealing with a serious health issue and therefore, we have been extra careful of anything that remotely resembles a cough or sneeze, etc. He came down with something Wednesday night so we were sidelined from travel. He is feeling much better now and for the most part, I am used to illness changing our plans.

But there is a part of me (I have shared with him already) that feels like a punching bag. Part of me is angry at lupus. Part of me is angry at immune systems and fallible body parts.

What I am really saying is I am angry about not being in control.

But none of us really are. We can only do the best with what we know and have and the rest is up to God.

So I will own those feelings now and acknowledge that even when I feel like a punching bag, more often than not I am the one throwing punches at the problems that spring up in my life.

3 Questions

3 Questions

Do you think you’re exciting?

Do you think you’re interesting?

Do you think you’re original?

Those are the three questions Hubby and I asked each other this morning. I don’t know why we started to ask the questions but that’s the turn the conversation took.

I wouldn’t be married to someone that I didn’t find interesting or exciting at least some of the time. And let’s face it. None of us are a thrill ride every hour or day of our lives.

However, the one thing I believe we all are is original. No one has ever been like us or will ever be exactly like us again in this world. I think the mistake is some of us believe to be an original, you must seem dynamic, enigmatic or possess genius the world has yet to witness.

The truth is all we ever had to be was conceived.

We just had to be.

The rest–the life lead afterwards just broadens the definition of your own originality.

The question we must ask ourselves is how do we broaden the definition? The broadening determines our interest or excitement factor to those we encounter, live our lives with and love.

Your turn:

Have you ever asked your friends/family/partner these questions?

 

 

 

Rationalizing

Rationalizing

Last weekend, my sister invited us to workout with her trainer. I am ashamed to admit it had been a good two months since I worked out strenuously. Her trainer didn’t beat us up (although walking was a challenge for 2 days afterwards) but it was obvious to me it was about time someone did or at least come close to it consistently.

Between travel, doctor’s visits and hospital stays, I hadn’t realized I gave up on working out. Days really do turn into weeks and weeks into months. I am determined not to finish that last sentence with “and months into years.”

I can rationalize reasons to let the sentence head in that direction but I heard something else from Patrice Washington’s podcast yesterday. She calls rationalizing “rationing out lies.”

I could lie and say there’s not enough time or I’m too tired but why tell those lies? They are not fooling anyone, including myself. As for all of the other reasons that took my focus away from my healing these last couple months, I forgive myself and will move on. I have a tendency to stress about “where I would have been if only I had done this” but that never gets me anywhere.

The point is to start over right where I am. No waiting for the New Year or even my birthday in a couple of weeks. I am hoping the adage “when you know better, you do better” applies to me this time around.

So for anyone else starting over especially in the midst of a trial, I wish you luck, pray for blessings and send every ounce of positivity I can your way.

Static

Static

The last few weeks I have been absent from my workouts. It started off because of intense pain in my ankles and I slowed down because I knew continuing to push would only make things worse down the road. I was limping around the house and that’s never good.

But I have been feeling better and there has been no visits to the gym, dance class, videos or walks outside.

I am not sure why after being active for so many months that it has come to a stop. I feel static. I can almost hear myself make an excuse as to why I won’t workout tomorrow.

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Tonight I was at writing group. We discussed if we fear what would happen if we make it in the literary world. I have to ask myself the same question in regards to my wellness journey.

Is there anything I fear about being on the other side of this struggle? Will writing about it now help me cross back over to where I was only 3 weeks ago?

I’m betting it will. If things are really going to be different this time, then I have to call myself out and pull myself out of the hole I sunk myself into that makes me feel stuck and scared.

I am hoping to look back on these past few weeks as a minor setback a year from now.

I can’t let it determine who I will be a year fron now.