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?

 

 

Engaged

Engaged

Last week Hubby and I went to Charleston, SC for vacation. We walked around the French Quarter including the City Market and talked to vendors. We lounged lazily in our beach chairs and splashed in the warm waves at Isle of Palms beach, visited a delightful farmer’s market in Mt. Pleasant and ate at a couple of delicious plant-based restaurants.

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When we came back to our room in the evenings, we made no apologies for simply wanting to power all the way down, connect with each other and fall asleep guessing who won Chopped. We slept late, let our skin drink in the sun and didn’t think of work.

On the way back, I knew I was going to miss being away on vacation but there was something else I was going to miss: how engaged I felt. 

While I was walking along the beach, I listened to nothing but the water, the conversation and laughter of passerbys. At one point, Hubby and I were standing in the ocean and it started to thunder. I waded out as far and as fast as I could to have one last moment before having to leave. That moment almost seems nondescript but there was a desperate quality to my run. Even as I sit here now, I can feel the weight of the water on my legs.

We talked and sang (badly) the entire way home. As much as I enjoyed Charleston, it was clear to me it could have been almost anywhere because I allowed myself to get lost in my time there. I allowed myself not to seek constant distraction.

I now know that anything less is cheating myself.

I won’t be doing that again.

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?

Go See This Film

Go See This Film

On Saturday, a friend of mine asked me to go to the movies to see Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am. My friend and I had tears in our eyes by the end. I scooted to the edge of my seat several times as if I was at a thriller. It has taken me a few days to process what I was feeling. Inspired? Challenged? Convicted?

I don’t have all of the right words that won’t be a regurgitation of scenes from the film.

So I will just say all of this:

It made me feel like I could write anything or work on one dream while lifting up the dreams of others or raise children or write from a place that doesn’t take the white male gaze into account or be unapologetic about wanting to be celebrated and unapologetic about my Blackness or my faith or turn down the volume of doubt in my own head or from others or be fiercely private or lay it all out there for the world to see and hear. Embrace the sunrise as I put pen to paper. It made me want to… everything.

 

 

 

 

Better

Better

Have you ever been grateful when something you hoped for didn’t work out?

I am not completely sure if I am just doing a deep dive for a lesson but when I got an email rejection for a residency recently (wasn’t even a finalist) I was more at peace with it than I expected. It is not as if I wouldn’t have done the work and been proud if I had but I was accepting that maybe it just wasn’t my time. All I wanted to know was how I could strengthen my application for next year and I sent that email asking for an answer.

I realized I want to be better. Better will come with classes, reading, continuing this blog, journaling, and writing fiction and poetry. Better will come when I choose to show up at workshops and conferences.

Yes, I was sad and I let myself have a whole evening to feel it.

But I know one rejection doesn’t mean everything and it means there’s room for other projects to take root and bloom.

And maybe it’s time for me to create these opportunities for myself.

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.