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.

The Next 30 Days

The Next 30 Days

I recently decided that I will spend from September 3rd-October 3rd eating raw foods and journaling everyday. On the 4th of October, I leave for the Digital Storytelling Workshop in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. By that time, I want to feel mentally, spiritually and physically prepared as possible for the experience ahead of me.

Today, I was listening to a man who has been water fasting for over 40 days now speak about how he feels that we take on the characteristics of the things we eat. His statement was reminiscent of the age old saying “You are what you eat.” What struck me was the calmness in his tone as he recounted how he was reacting (or not reacting) to others in typically stressful situations. He feels like water–going with the flow without rising to anger or panic.

Even though I was raw throughout the month of July, I didn’t document how I was feeling each day. I want the next 30 days to stand out in my memory and the best way for me has always been to write it down.

I also want it as a record for all I have to be grateful for…the physical and the mental results.

 

What I’m Grateful for Today

What I’m Grateful for Today

Today, we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. It somehow didn’t feel right to post about whatever plant-based treats hubby and I are eating here in Carlsbad, CA on vacation. I am going to keep this brief but  something occurred to me repeatedly while we were walking the streets in Carlsbad and Encinitas. There was a time we couldn’t have walked into any of the restaurants we’ve eaten at and be served or maybe seated in a “Coloreds Only” section in the back. For the most part, we are the only African-Americans anywhere we’ve been these last couple of days and the realization of how unsafe we would have been brought me some discomfort.

However, the gratitude never fails.

I am grateful for men and women of the Civil Rights Movement.

I am grateful for those still fighting for a seat at the table today.

Back at it Again

Back at it Again

One of my writing goals for 2018 was to take writing classes again, whether it be a one-day workshop or a 6-week course. I almost didn’t start the year with a class but decided at the last minute that it should be a priority right at the beginning of the year. What makes it even more special is that it is Life in 10 Minutes again. I took a couple of sessions last year. It was my first writing class outside of school. I remember feeling so shy and unsure of myself. At the time, I was also in the throes of deciding whether or not I wanted to continue with graduate school (currently thanking God I made the right choice not to do so).  This class did two things for me: It made me take a hard look at what I really wanted for my future AND it confused me.

Why the confusion one may ask?

After cracking my shell open and reading words aloud I wouldn’t have dared just a few months before, I thought it was time to decide what kind of writer I wanted to be. It seems silly now. But I thought I was this woman trying to finish a novel and anything else was superfluous. I had to confront all of the many colors, shades and textures of who I am as a writer.

I have just come back from the first session tonight. Even with all of the new faces and voices, the feeling is the same. We read our confessions, our musings, our wishes, our regrets, our stories, our characters out loud in communion with one another. We share our art. We share our lives.

It was like I never left.

 

Grateful

Grateful

I woke up today.

I have a husband I wake up next to everyday who is my partner and the love of my life. When a couple of people told me not to get married, tried to get me to doubt if I could feel alive and married at the same time, I ignored it and know now they were dead wrong. Not that marriage is always easy but we work hard to grow together. We invest in each other’s interests, hobbies and dreams.

I am grateful for my family. We don’t always see eye to eye but we love each other. We hug, kiss and say I love you. My parents raised me to have a world view, to read, to have an appreciation for classic movies, museums, to value travel, education and to have pride in my racial and cultural identities (Black, Haitian-American) without being plagued with insecurities because of my brown skin. My mother gifted me with the introduction to my Christian faith. We laugh and tease, check in on one another and speak our minds, in anger, joy, frustration or love. There is no perfection but it is genuine. They never made me feel like I couldn’t make it out in the world on my own and when I think of all the grown men and women I have known in the past that were terrified or not motivated to forge a future outside of their parents’ home, I say a thousand silent thank yous.

I love my friends, past and present. I am grateful for the people who were in my life. They provided me with life lessons. They taught me what it is to outgrow people and that no matter how much time and effort you may invest in them, they may never do the same for you (and that it doesn’t matter anymore). I also learned you teach people how to treat you through these friendships and my past romantic relationships. They also gave me refuge, laughter, hugs, silly adventures, conversations I never wanted to end and a sense of brother and sisterhood I needed in some of my most uncertain moments. I don’t take those moments for granted and they hold a special place in my memory.  I experienced a growth with the past that has allowed me to treasure the people I hold dear to me now.

I am also grateful for the ability to pen and type words. It is my source of creativity and this past year has taught me it is a well I can draw from that has always been here, even when I chose not to acknowledge it or cultivate it.

I am grateful for self-awareness. It helps me to see who I really am and how I can grow to be better as a wife, friend, sister, daughter, granddaughter, cousin, Auntie, group member and a servant to God and others. There is room for improvement in all of these roles and I am glad not to be living this life blissfully unaware that there is work to be done.

There is much more but I will close with I am grateful for this challenge. It’s Day 5 and it’s forcing me to write even when I didn’t feel like it today, even when I am saddened and fatigued the news of the loss of life yet again.

What are you feeling grateful for today?

 

Days Like These

Days Like These

I couldn’t sleep for awhile last night so I migrated back downstairs to see if I could lie down there, in the cold. I can’t sleep with heat while my husband can happily slumber with a heating pad, sweats on and burrowed underneath the comforter. I fell asleep for a few minutes here and there but woke up, rattled by noises I heard. I wasn’t sure if it was a dream but it sounded like I heard faint arguing or whimpering. And since I have neighbors coming from multiple directions, who knows what is was?

I raced up the steps in a stupor and when I settled next to my husband, my heart was racing. I woke him to tell him about what I heard. In the light of day, I am not sure why it mattered. In that moment, I needed to get the words out.

I was finally able to shut my eyes for a couple of hours but when I went to face the day, it felt like a weight was on me. I stayed in bed, read, scrolled the phone, talked to God a little bit, shut my eyes again and then gave up the fight and came downstairs.

The fatigue is physical and maybe a little emotional. I am doing #bloglikecrazy, working on finishing the first draft of my book, thinking about working on finishing the first draft of my book to be truthful, going through a work transition and taking care of regular life and wife stuff.

Even though the day has been pretty unspectacular, I am still grateful for days like these..a chance to recover after a sleepless night, close my eyes, pray and be grateful for tomorrows.

Day 2 of #bloglikecrazy is in the books!

Reflections on SOG 2017

Reflections on SOG 2017

It’s been one week since I completed the Water-Workout-Write 21-Day Challenge. I made new commitments, too: working out 5 days a week, drinking 100 oz. of water each day, writing two essays and sending one pitch to a publication weekly and blogging two days a week. For now, I picked Tuesdays and Thursdays. My intention was to start on Monday. I knew I would be back from attending The Summit of Greatness in Columbus, Ohio and well-rested. I did workout yesterday but my old habit of not drinking enough water reared its ugly head. I am back on it today and will most likely finish my intake in a couple of hours. I may work out later but if I don’t, I will complete my other four Wednesday-Saturday.

Today was unexpected. My brother called and asked me to lunch before he headed back out of town. Seeing as I didn’t know he arrived yesterday, it was a pleasant surprise. And not the first. I was so happy to see him. Not just because he’s my brother but because he is a friend and a good sounding board. After last week at Summit, there was much to reflect on and discuss.

One of which was the decision to go this year. I went last year and the experience was life-changing. There were hundreds of us, cheerleading each other, not knowing what was to come and having these instantaneous deep conversations with people who just happened to be standing next to you in line. The connections forged made me want to come back. I was excited but there were goals I knew I had set for myself that I did not reach, like finishing the book I was working on at the time. But of course, that is no reason not to recognize the strides I did make like taking Life in 10 Minutes with Valley Haggard, Pens Up Fears Down with Sadeqa Johnson, pitching my book at the James River Writer’s Conference, applying for my first fellowship, starting this site, expanding my social media presence, gaining a wonderful group of friends who also write (my tribe!) and finally getting around to printing up my business cards.

 

So, there was no real reason not to go. And I am so grateful that I did. This time my husband came with me. And that was one of the best gifts. Getting to see it through his eyes. Even though the magic of experiencing it for the first time was no longer there for me, watching him crane his neck around at the Southern Theater and hesitantly open up to a fellow attendee about his business goals made me realize how much time away from your “everyday” is needed. The Summit of Greatness is a jolt to the system, a soul-stirring reminder of what we could be if we are only willing to let go of what we thought we are or supposed to be.

We started off by registering last Wednesday the 13th and then attending a dinner which was mostly a casual reunion of last year’s attendees and enjoying the treat of meeting some new faces. And that is when I knew we were off to a good start. My heart was so warm and full at the sight of these people who I hadn’t even seen in nearly a year, except for online of course. It’s weird seeing people leap off of a screen and into your arms for a big old bear hug but it’s a good weird!

The next day was official Day 1. A highlight for me was poet Najwa Zebian and her loving embrace of her sensitivity and vulnerability. She exuded a quiet power. Tears were rolling down my cheeks during the Q&A portion of her time. Esther Perel was whip smart and funny! Her observations of the evolution of relationships like how we are looking to one person to fulfill all our needs compared to the past when it was a whole village was a major Aha moment for me.

Chris Lee’s emphasis on the power of giving moved me. When you’re depressed, give! When you’re happy, give! When you are lonely, give! His visualization exercise asking us what and where we want to be in 10 years was particularly memorable for me because he asked us to start it by saying that age out loud which was jarring for me. Then the tears came again.

Day 2 was quite a finale. My parents also came to Summit and the four of us sat on the first floor as compared to the balcony on Day 1 and the impact was powerful. The close proximity of the thumping drums and the cries of excitement made me want to jump to my feet immediately. As for speakers, Chris Guillebeau made another case about the power of the introvert. His energy was quieter but not boring in any way. He was promoting his new book “Side Hustle” and showed tangible evidence of people who started a side hustle, not a part-time job and grew it into a real business. He was practical and his approach made me want to listen deeply. I cannot wait to read his book! Mel Robbins came and brought the house down with her quick wit and insights and presented her 5-Second Rule. She delved into the science behind counting down…5, 4, 3, 2, 1..Go! When you wait too long to take action, we tend to stay still. She showed us how 5 seconds can change everything. Another read on my mile-high list from this weekend.

Tim Storey simply took us to church. There was a lot of call and response which made him entertaining but there was a message in his rhyme and swagger. He spoke about impartation, incubation and maturation phases in your life and shared about his work with people in addiction recovery. Brendon Burchard, the number one online marketer, was the closing keynote speaker. His emphasis was on the habits of high performers. I loved how he talked about bringing the joy every day. He took a moment to ask us all to think of three words that exemplify who we want to be, set and name an alarm with those three words for 10:00 am. We even had a dance break moment and I found myself admiring the interactive nature of his speech.

To cap off the conference, there was a dance party at Express Live with DJ Irie. The crowd was live and the music had us dancing for hours on end. Lewis, his Mom, Tim Storey, and even DJ Irie himself crowd surfed. The dancers that were teaching as a part of morning workouts last year came back and danced their collective faces off on stage.

As if this hasn’t been long enough, there is so much I am missing including the performers that danced and sang so beautifully for us, Lewis giving away his book as a surprise, Nick Onken’s art piece connecting all of us from all over this country and 20 others and hugs at every turn.

I am thankful. I am grateful.

Day 5

Day 5

This has been the hardest by far. If I had a word for today, it would be resistance. I am not sure it is worth trying to figure out why. My husband and I went to a late movie last night and didn’t wind down until almost 2:00am. I had a great time and I don’t regret it. However, I am sure in the deep recesses of my mind, I am sure I told myself the lie that I would get up before church and walk. I slept until the very last minute and then some.

My husband and I stopped by a juice bar which was refreshing but I knew I needed to drink some water. I got home and still didn’t do it. I ate and ended up passing out on the couch without a drop to drink. When I woke up, I was determined to make up for my laziness earlier. I felt achy and tired and my mind was screaming for this to be the day that I blog about the one day I failed and I would just wake up tomorrow and try again. But that is something I am used to telling myself.

I went out and walked twice as long and have finished about half of my water intake. And I will workout with my 5lb weights in a couple of hours. I just don’t want to slip up unless there is an absolute real emergency. And as I write this, I am reminded of how much I have been given. I have breath, arms and legs, presence of mind and I am safe.

There are so many others who cannot say the same. I am thinking of those trying to escape flooding in Texas, those who struggle with debilitating physical and mental health issues, those children who live in food insecurity and so much more. I am taking all that I have and making it into something good. Something worthwhile. I owe it to myself. I cannot even give more of myself, to my husband, family, writing and the community in which I live until I do that, live up to all that has been given to me.

I am releasing this spirit of resistance. It certainly does not serve me well.

Stay tuned for Day 6!

Comment below on how you combat resistant thoughts.