Winning?

Winning?

I had a conversation yesterday. Let me be real. A therapy session yesterday.

I talked.

About lots of issues. Family. My own marriage. A need for me to let go of the things I cannot or should not always control. My lack of trust and faith in others. I am not sleeping full nights.

And I kept talking.

About all the “shoulding” I have done during the quarantine these last couple of months. I should have written more and read more than 4 books. Did I watch all of the revolutionary interviews and experience all of these mind-blowing Verzus battles live? Did I watch all the shows? How about getting back into perfecting burpees to return back to the shape I was in at Strongman competition time? Shouldn’t I take more than just the one writing class? What about daily walks? All of those people in this motivational FB group are going live, talking about their insecurities and constantly interviewing for podcasts… should I be in this mix? Did I donate enough? Did I contact everyone for Mother’s Day? How about starting an indoor garden? But oh wait!  I did learn to play poker and I am working with Hubby on this 1000-piece puzzle and I continue to work from home.

Then I stopped talking.

It was pointed out that I was listing goals, checking off imaginary boxes, obsessing over what the next few months may bring (financially and otherwise) and whether I am doing enough right now in order to do what?

She observed all these mental gymnastics I was performing were not just in order to keep up with family, friends, stay distracted, entertained and to make a living but I was acting as if any of these things were going to change what’s going on “out there.”

As if any of these things were going to make me “win the quarantine.”

As if I accomplish all of these things, come out on the other side with a stunning body, a thick and voluminous curly afro, a couple of manuscripts ready to pitch and new languages acquired, I will change the reality of what’s out there.

A scary pandemic, conflicting opinions, no answers as to when this will actually be over and a world where people who are Black like me and my husband are never quite safe. We never know if and when we will be confronted with the fear and hatred people have for us solely based on our race. I never know when we will be perceived as a threat: during a walk? driving? Sitting at home eating ice cream on our own couch?

My lists, my books, puzzles, card games, work, television, dancing to music, working out and social media engagement won’t change it.

It won’t make it all go away.

So what can be done?

I can write about it.

I can talk about it.

I can cry about it.

I can let myself fall into bed, let my mind find the peace it seeks and sleep.

I can sit in the sunshine on my balcony and pray.

I can build myself up enough emotionally to allow myself to engage authentically in the things I truly want to do, not what I think should be done.

I can relieve the pressure.

And let it be.

If some days look like a short walk outside before work, cooking, journaling and putting a puzzle together, I will let it be.

If somedays I need to sleep longer, eat and laugh at reruns of “The Office”, I will let it be.

Anything else doesn’t work for me.

Because it’s not about winning the distraction or achievement quarantine Olympics, it’s about finding a healthy and real way through it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through

Through

What if nothing goes right?

What if I pay for the wrong thing?

What if I fill out the wrong paperwork?

What if no one wants to buy it or display it in their stores?

These (and a few more) were some of the ugly (and natural) fears and questions that came up as I searched sites to determine what I need to buy to get this book distributed.

Then another thought came to me while in the throes of this panic.

The only way is through.

After a much needed counseling session, I accepted I will make some mistakes and maybe a few more dollars will be spent than I anticipated but that’s OK.

I won’t break because of a mistake. I was dramatizing, almost seeing a possible failure like an ancient seaside castle crumbling into the ocean.  My first real foray into self-publishing will be a success not only because I believe the people who need it will love it but because I will have gone all the way through.

I have heard several thought leaders proclaim it would be a shame if you are the same person this year that you were last year. They might be right and even if they are not, I don’t want to be exactly the same.

Which is why going through 75hard is non-negotiable as is the book as is creating solo adventures for me, myself and I.

Willing

Willing

Yesterday, I had my second session of belly dance. There was slight progress from last week. I was more open to slowing down and I felt a bit more in sync with my body as I practiced more movement. Last week, I wrote I wasn’t sure if I would ever perform. While this remains to be seen, I actually imagined it for a moment during class last night.

There is still a part of me that winces at the thought of baring arms, psoriasis plaques and all for complete strangers to see. I think the real fear lies in not just strangers seeing, it’s strangers gawking. I don’t have that problem at the pool or beach but no one is there to see me perform. We are all there to be guided by a teacher.

So what this class could provide (besides fun and connection with other women) is the opportunity to take an axe to those specific fears. I don’t know when I will be ready but I am sure I am willing.

Be Unapologetic

Be Unapologetic

I went to a movie earlier this afternoon. Two elderly ladies in the mostly empty theater decided to sit right next to me. Normally, I would be a bit annoyed because I love my personal space. However, they seemed sweet so I quickly got over myself and settled in for the show.

And I was glad I did. The woman who sat next to me practically catcalled when an actor she found attractive graced the screen. About halfway through, she belted out a few lines from  “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate as it played in the film.

I had to pull myself together to keep from laughing. After I got home, she stayed on my mind. She reminded me of the little girl I watched throw her whole body and spirit in the middle of the studio floor at the end of Afro-Caribbean dance class a few months ago.

A girl of no more than 5 years old and a woman at least 60 years young with something to learn from and something in common. Their ability to let go and unapologetically be themselves.

I can’t say I am able to do that enough. I think too much. I pour over decisions and ask too many questions to too many people at times. Sometimes, I feel like I am “too much” or ” not enough”–whatever that means.

When I revisit my novel, my brain generally goes through all of those thoughts, those insecurities that seem to want to make a home in my mind. I want to invite those feelings to leave and embody more of what I felt today sitting next to that spirited woman.

I want to invite myself to let it go. Be unapologetic when I sit down to develop my characters and finish telling the story I believe I was always meant to write.

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.

Relatability

Relatability

I recently read “We’re Going to Need More Wine” by Gabrielle Union and I am well on my way to finishing Chrissy Metz’s new autobiography “This is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today.” I enjoyed reading both books and one of the most powerful reasons for my enjoyment is the following: Relatability.

I know our society talks a lot about “authenticity” and “keeping it real” or “keeping it 100” but a lot of that conversation gets confused with oversharing or saying so much we end up not saying nothing at all.

Both of these books struck a chord with me. Yes, there were personal stories and moments where I felt like I was in the room with them as they were recounting their stories but I also felt like there was other stories that the reader will never be privy to and that is more than OK with me.

When Gabrielle spoke about the PTSD she still has regarding her rape or when Chrissy spoke about forgiving her stepfather for his physical and verbal abuse, I saw women who had done the work to push past the fear of sharing their stories because they knew the healing that could come from its release.

I found myself nodding as I read along. I could relate to some version of their lives: the rejection, things not always going according to plan (whether it turned out to be for the best or not), the insecurities, not fitting in, past relationship woes, standing up and standing out.

I believe readers can see themselves in the triumph and the perceived failures of Chrissy and Gabrielle. I know I did.

There were many takeaways intended for the reader but as a writer I took away a few key things:

  1. Your story is not over. As a writer/blogger, I have found that while I keep posting, submitting work, networking and taking classes, it’s easy to get impatient. When will I catch a break? Both Chrissy and Gabrielle weren’t born into show business. Both of them had to put in consistent work with no guarantee that their star would ever rise. As writers, I believe that is something we should never forget. Stay consistent. It’s not over until you say it is. And you say it is or it isn’t by your actions. You’re writing or you’re not. It may not be easy but it is simple.

2. Believe in yourself. Even when it feels like no one is reading, no one is watching or no one else even cares. If you don’t, who else will? People are attracted to confidence even if you have to fake it a little through the struggle. Sometimes, I am clinging so hard to this it feels is as my knuckles will burst through my skin. If God planted this affinity, this love, this all-consuming need to write within me, there has to be a reason, even if I don’t know what it is yet.

3. Do not be afraid to share yourself with the        world. After I read both works, I applauded      the gutsy nature of both of these         powerhouse ladies. I admired their humor and willingness to quiet the chatter of what other people say and let their voices be heard. As writers, as hard as it can be, there is undeniable value in telling the truth. It may manifest as ugly, scarred and heartbreaking but it deserves to be read in our novels, blogs, essays, poetry and short stories. We only have one voice.

Why silence it?

 

 

 

A Helping Hand

A Helping Hand

Last night, I had my first in-person coaching session with entrepreneur/coach, Sharvette Mitchell. I attended her female entrepreneurship conference last month and knew I had to schedule one-on-one time with her. Since the only kind of personal coaching I have ever received was from a personal trainer, I didn’t know what to expect but I was completely open to the experience. Let’s just say, I got the direction I needed, especially with my writing goals.

And that got me to thinking. Why did I wait so long to seek the kind of help I needed? I don’t ask it to beat myself up but for the sake of examination. During the session, it occurred to me there are two reasons people don’t ask for help: People believe they don’t need it or they are afraid to ask. I think the fear shows up in many ways. They are afraid they will look (or feel) stupid or weak for needing assistance or they constantly convince themselves they are not “ready” to get the help that they need. I believe most people fall into the fear category.

After I left the session, I was not only happy that I was armed with new goals to achieve on a realistic timetable but proud–proud that I not only acknowledged my need but I acted on the acknowledgement. It has been so easy to recognize the problem, recognize my confusion and lack of direction and stew over what I should do.

I am grateful it wasn’t that hard to reach out and see what could be on the other side.

 

Not Waiting Until…

Not Waiting Until…

Today, we came back from visiting family. After breakfast and gift opening yesterday morning, my parents set off for Texas. Neither of them have ever spent any real time there so they decided to try something new. Hubby and I are the same way. I realize I get that quality from them. Since they have been empty-nesters, I’ve observed them enjoying their life together by taking trips, running races and going to festivals and conferences.

Partly because of their example, it will always sadden me when I hear someone say.. “I’m too old for this.. or I should have done (fill in the blank) when I was younger and now it’s too late.” As long as you have breath in your body, it’s not over. I’m not saying anyone I know lives up to this perfectly but I have been inspired to live this way, even when I have moments when I am full of doubt and fear.

And when those moments come, these questions must be considered: What if the experience presented to you was just for you right at this time? What if you never have the opportunity again?

As we are all aware, tomorrow is promised to no one. So why not now? Book that trip, start that business or blog, write that book or try that new restaurant. Sometimes (and I have been guilty of this as well), it feels like we are just waiting until the next time we choose to put it off. It’s as if we are waiting just to kick the can down the road again so to speak.

I am excited for 2018. Not because I can’t wait to see what happens but I want to see how I make it happen. And that starts now–no waiting for an arbitrary date, no cans to kick down the road.

Ask and Then Let Go

Ask and Then Let Go

In the last week I’ve thought more about letting go than I have in years. By letting go, I mean letting go of control. A few days ago, I had the courage to tell someone what I needed. I may have done it through tears, but I did it. I bring this up because although I asked for what I needed, I am keenly aware that I may never get it.

And I have no control over whether or not I will ever get it.

I believe you can never be at peace if there are needs in your life you have the awareness to ask for but let fear keep you silent. From there, even if you do work up the courage to ask, the peace you seek may not be attained if you don’t accept you cannot control the outcome.

I am learning through shaky voice and tears to walk through the fear of speaking up and letting go once the words are out. Once they are out there, I can’t take them back, reverse time and watch the words slip back down my throat.

If the words need to be said, why would I?

 

Transitions

Transitions

During the spring semester of my senior year in college, I took a class that explored the relationship between literature and psychology. I don’t remember much about the class except that the size was small, the name of my professor and I found the content compelling. At the end of class, she conducted individual meetings. It was to discuss what she observed about each one of us during the course of the semester. The observations were purely based on what we shared during class.

During our meeting, she said I spoke frequently about fear. I remember being taken aback but it wasn’t a criticism. I seemed to identify it in the stories/pieces we read or clearly articulate it as part of a struggle the protagonist was going through and brought it up as part of class discussion.

When I went back to my dorm that afternoon, I took time to reflect on why I would have brought it up so often. Looking back, I wonder if it had to do with the transition I was getting ready to make.

At the time, graduation was near and I had been accepted to two different graduate programs in two states. I was proud of my accomplishments but a bundle of nerves at the same time. Since then, like most adults I’ve gone through several transitions: career, marriage and home ownership just to name a few.

I am grateful that even when fear threatened to paralyze me in some situations, I walked through it and made decisions anyway. I have also learned from the times, especially when it comes to my health, where I let fear stop me or have me return to my old habits. The truth is, if we’re really willing to admit it, aren’t we always at a crossroads? It doesn’t have to be at college graduation or deciding whether or not to take a job or marry someone you love. We are always standing in the middle somewhere, deciding to freeze in the moment, stretching it out and waiting for life to happen or moving forward with a bold new idea, health plan, way to raise our children, faith commitment, community activism or travel adventure?

Writing makes me feel like that girl again, straightening her cap and gown, leaving that version of the classroom behind and walking into her future. My love for the in-between, the murky, the gray only grows as I get older. I love knowing that each active decision I make drives me down a path I cannot completely see but undoubtedly holds experiences and knowledge I could not fill my life with otherwise.

In this moment, I am thanking God for transitions.