Support not Appropriate

Support not Appropriate
 Yesterday, I read an article about ways to support, not appropriate Native Americans. One of the ways was to support writers. I realized I have never sought out to read work by Native writers and I had no excuse not to start now. I wanted to share “Haiku Journey” by Kimberly Blaeser, a critic, poet laureate, essayist and member of the Minnesota Chippewa tribe. I hope her poem inspires you to read her work and others by Native writers.
  i. Spring
the tips of each pine
the spikes of telephone poles
hold gathering crows
may’s errant mustard
spreads wild across paved road
look both ways
roadside treble cleft
feeding gopher, paws to mouth
cheeks puffed with music
yesterday’s spring wind
ruffling the grey tips of fur
rabbit dandelion
         ii. Summer
turkey vulture feeds
mechanical as a red oil rig
head rocks down up down
stiff-legged dog rises
goes grumbling after squirrel
old ears still flap
snowy egret—curves,
lines, sculpted against pond blue;
white clouds against sky
banded headed bird
this ballerina killdeer
dance on point my heart
         iii. Fall
leaf wind cold through coat
wails over hills, through barren trees
empty garbage cans dance
damp September night
lone farmer, lighted tractor
drive memory’s worn path
sky black with migration
flocks settle on barren trees
leaf birds, travel songs
october moon cast
over corn, lighted fields
crinkled sheaves of white
         iv. Winter
ground painted in frost
thirsty morning sun drinks white
leaves rust golds return
winter bare branches
hold tattered cups of summer
empty nests trail twigs
lace edges of ice
manna against darkened sky
words turn with weather
now one to seven
deer or haiku syllables
weave through winter trees
Northern follows jig
body flashes with strike, dive:
broken line floats up.

Fighting for Gratitude

Fighting for Gratitude

I came back to the gym today.

I had been gone almost a month. It started off as I had been over exercising to the point I was limping everywhere and I needed a break.

But then I found I was giving myself a “break” from eating well, too. There are a myriad of reasons for it but mostly it’s self-sabotage and retreating back to old habits. And a couple weeks passed and I realized I was avoiding the scale, too.

Then another week and a few days later (today), I climbed out of bed and on to the scale. In last week’s post, I wrote that I was betting on myself to see my way out of the static, out of the fog.

But the truth is that it starts in one place for me: Facing the truth of how I’ve treated myself. No avoiding.

Even when it got dark during these past few weeks, I did hold onto gratitude. I thanked God for waking me up. I thanked Him for my husband, my mother who is always there for me without fail and the security I felt knowing if I reached out to a number of people, they would reach back.

And it wasn’t easy. I tend to isolate. Being alone comes quite natural to me but it can also disguise itself as hiding from others or hiding from the truth of the path I started to go back down.

While working out today, I was listening to Patrice Washington’s podcast. She spoke about fighting for gratitude. Being grateful doesn’t come so easy for everyone. Sometimes we have to get in there and fight just to feel it.

And that’s what I am doing. Looking down at the scale today, I saw a 12.6 lb weight gain. But I also saw I was going to fight to take it off, fight not to give in to the shame that it brings and fight to keep going. I found myself grateful that I didn’t gain all the weight back and I recognized some of the poor habits I had with binge exercise beforehand.

I keep writing here that I don’t know how all of this ends but the truth is I do.

I will win.

I just have to take it one “thank you” at a time.

Your turn:

Do you ever feel you have to fight to feel gratitude?

Please comment below. I would love to read your thoughts.

FACE

FACE

Who are you without your “face?”

I never thought about it until psoriasis came for a visit and never left.

I barely ever wore any kind of powder or foundation and rarely got pimples.

I basically had the luxury of rarely thinking about it.

But then psoriasis came to visit and never left.

Even though it came slowly and didn’t seem threatening at all, it did eventually ravage my body. And no steroid could fix it and I am not fond of exposing my body to biologics. In fact, I have spent most of my life scared of all medications outside of OTC and antibiotics.

So after fielding multiple questions such as “What happened to your face?” I started to delve back into plant-based healing and learning about the devastation inflammation brings (for me, psoriasis and PCOS). So even while I waited for the flares to become less frequent, I had to figure out how to cover the pink and red flaky patches on my face. Of course, it was makeup and if for some reason, I didn’t have my makeup brush and Dermablend with me, my spirits would sink. I remember on one particular day not wanting to get out of the car when I parked at church. I drove away and found somewhere to cry.

I felt like a monster without my “face.”

The pain of an itchy scalp, raw thighs and a scarred face sometimes felt like too much of a strain on my mind, let alone my body. I often smiled through a lot of it but I felt like I was wilting on the inside.

As we all know, we can’t escape our own mind or body.

It took a long time to start to see some improvement and I don’t have flares as often as I used to but damage was done.

People who meet me now will never know what I used to look like and it seems like a small thing but it was a real adjustment. I believe my smiles are more genuine now. It’s funny that I am actively pursuing a profession that puts me front and center when I can remember feeling like that’s the last place I really want to be or should be.

I think it took blogging and writing classes and prayer and fruits and vegetables and talking it out over and over again with my husband, family and friends for healing to start taking place. I know I have a long road ahead of me but I think I found a formula that works.

I think I know who I am without my “face.”

 

 

 

 

 

Open

Open

I have found the more I move towards what I’m supposed to be doing–writing and focusing on achieving my wellness goals through plant-based eating, the more help I receive. I know there are some who advise to keep your dreams a secret but reaching out to others has been life-saving for me. I would never say not to be careful about naysayers or people who claim to “support” in word but never in action.

Although I have definitely run across people like that in my life, I have seen that it has been more worthwhile to keep opening myself up to people. In general, I think it makes people feel good to support you by buying your books, coming to your events and sharing ideas contributing to your growth. For the people who don’t, I think it’s best to wish them well and let those people fall away in their own time.

I keep finding with those who truly supported me, it revealed their character to me. It seems when you reach milestones in life, people either rise up and  support you or find a way to fade into the background. I have experienced some sadness but overall, when I started blogging  and then wrote my E-book journal, I experienced so much growth that it was worth a small amount of pain.

So I vow to remain open. Open to people. Open to help. Open to contributing to others’ successes.

When it comes to this, I believe there is no such thing as going it alone.

 

 

Keep Calm and Write On

Keep Calm and Write On

I wanted to say a few words about support. Last week, I was under the weather at my writing group meeting at one of our member’s homes. She was such a gracious host, providing us with snacks and each one of us was gifted a journal. She said she thought of me because of my travel coffee mug my sister gave to me for Christmas that says “Keep Calm and Blog On.”

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My new writing journal given to me by my friend and writing group member, inspired by my sister’s Christmas gift!

This past weekend, I went to Charlotte to visit family and was greeted with two gift bags on the bed. One was for me with a gift and card from my mother and father, congratulating me on the publication of my E-book, “What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows.” The other was a cute mug and a card for my husband for being an amazingly supportive husband.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the smaller things when you are trying to live up to your full potential. Who is really supporting me? Am I promoting it the right way or enough? Has my book helped people with writing their love letters, proposal and vows? There are about a hundred other things I could worry  or stress about.

But when I read her card, I knew all of those other things really don’t matter.

Like my new journal says, all I have to do is Keep Calm and Write On.

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My new E-book “What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows” is now available for purchase on the home page of my website. Thanks for your support!

Sisterly Advice

Sisterly Advice

Yesterday, I received two kinds of news. We’ll start with the “negative.” I submitted two pieces to a literary magazine. Both were rejected. However, my reaction was a sigh and guess what? I’ll have something else to add to my collection.

Let me explain. Last year, I got my first official rejection from an agent I sent requested pages to after the James River Writers’ Conference 2016. The email was kind and encouraging but she just didn’t connect with the work.  I called my sister (younger but so wise and confident–I believe she was secretly reading HR Manuals and Personal Development books while the rest of us were struggling with our ABCs).

After telling her what happened, she practically congratulated me! “You got your first rejection. You should print it out and hang it on your wall!” I was a little puzzled but it quickly became clear: It means I tried! It means I put myself out there! It means I actually had pages to send the agent! It means that this is the first of many so I better keep going!

I never forgot that conversation. I have saved every rejection and kept every pitch I sent out no matter the result. They are my treasures, too. I look forward to perusing them when I’ve “made it.”

On to the second kind of news. I have been asked to be a guest on a podcast! I will follow-up soon with more details. Also, the post I wrote about the 2017 Pop-Up Conference with Sharvette Mitchell was featured on her website: www.mitchell-productions.com.  For me, the point I want to drive home is to keep going. Look forward to the failures. It means you put yourself in the arena and choose not to sit on the sidelines.

This is all I can ask of myself.

Your turn: How do you deal with rejection? Has your perspective changed as you have gotten older?

 

All or Nothing

All or Nothing

You ever get to the end of the day and feel like you made a lot of good decisions? Decisions that were just right for you?

Today was that day for me. I talked more openly about my writing with people. I spent an hour outside, just walking and talking. Even though there was a chill in the air, I cherished every moment I had outside and not cooped up indoors.

Now I am here, writing this post and preparing to work more on the first draft of my book and another writing project. I am thanking God I asked one of my writing group members to check on me this Saturday to see where I am with my pages.

Which is leading me to another thought: Please don’t underestimate the power of accountability. I sorely need it! One of my goals during #bloglikecrazy in November was to finish my first draft. I know why I set two lofty goals but I also know they were not completely grounded in reality. When I set unrealistic goals, I set a trap for myself. And I fall for it every. single. time.

The “All or Nothing” mentality has never served me well and it only guarantees that something on the list will not get done. In November, it was my first draft. I looked at it but that was about as far as it got. I did not anticipate the everyday stressors, activities, work, and of course I couldn’t have known to factor in hubby’s short hospital stay. However, there is something about me that wants to keep reaching. I think there is a little devil on my shoulder that whispers “This time it will be different. This time you can push yourself to do it all.”

I can at least promise not listen to the lies and do what I know I can do and if sometimes I surprise myself with more, then I will welcome it. For right now, I am happy to dedicate the rest of 2017 to staying consistent with my blogging schedule, working out a few times a week and continuing to work on my first draft with the support of my accountability partners.

I can’t think of a better way to start to say good-bye to 2017 and hello to 2018.

The List

The List

When I was single, I heard many women talk about writing a list of the things they wanted in a husband. Two or three times on New Years Day, I wrote my own list. I  saw it as writing down a prayer for what I wanted and clearly defining who I thought I needed him to be.

I did not spend much time on physical characteristics. I was attracted to many kinds of men in the past so I just wanted to feel an attraction to him. Even though the physical part of his description wasn’t outlandish, other characteristics probably could have used an injection of reality.

For example, I knew my ultimate partner would be Haitian-American like me, well-traveled and well-read with a love for books that I would strive to match. He would also care about lifting up the community and volunteer as often as he could, probably with his church. He would also be an amazing dancer and get along famously with both his and my family. He would love multiple genres of music and be able to express his feelings without me having to prod too much.  He didn’t have to command attention as soon as he walked in the room but he should be able to if the situation called for it. He also had to have an appreciation for the arts.

So what kind of person did I end up marrying? In many ways, I could easily check off the wishes from my list like healthy familial relationships, kindness, faith, varied taste in music and when I asked for patience, the cup overflows. I am in awe of his patience. It showed me where I needed to grow.  However, he has a quiet nature, his family is American and from Virginia, he can’t dance,  and doesn’t love to read as much as I do. He also hasn’t traveled the world yet. If my memory serves me correctly, I forgot to write down one of the best qualities a partner can have: willingness.

One of the things that continually surprises me and keeps me happy is his willingness to try new foods, go to more cultural events, travel and support me while I was determining I wanted to commit to writing for the rest of my life.

I didn’t anticipate the joy that came with exploring it all together, at the same time. Sometimes, we are meant to learn and experience an event, trip or restaurant for the first time with our partners. In my single days, I had an expectation of my partner taking on the role of teacher. It isn’t that I didn’t expect us to teach one another but I subconsciously set up an expectation for a potential partner he did not ask to live up to.

But then there are times he stepped up to the plate that I never saw coming. At the height of my psoriasis which came over 2 years into our marriage, it had covered almost every part of my body and it was torture to wear clothes. I often wanted to tear them off and scratch. Many nights before settling into bed, he would lovingly paint my body with steroid cream and tell me he wished he could take the pain and scars from me.

I often think back to those nights and say to myself: I may not have gotten every little thing I wanted on the list but I got everything I didn’t even know I needed.

 

 

Social Media Machine

Social Media Machine

As some of you may know, I only joined Facebook last September to engage in the private Facebook group for the School of Greatness Academy 8.0 class.  I also had no Instagram or Twitter at the time. I only had a long abandoned LinkedIn page.

I prided myself on not being part of a social media machine. I was satisfied to read, write, watch TV, go outside to experience the world without documenting it and catch up with friends and family via phone calls, text messages and emails.

I heard dramatic stories of social media drama and addiction. It seemed as if people were moving through the world with their heads cast downwards or upwards in a flattering angle.

I was never one for constantly wanting to be included in pictures. I took my fair share in the days before smartphones but it felt different–somehow more natural. Years ago, I was at a dinner with some friends and it seemed like we could barely enjoy the meal without constant picture taking. I respected everyone’s right to live and document their lives as they pleased so I was never overtly vocal about my discomfort. It was evident that I didn’t love it but I never wanted to ruin anyone’s fun. As I was driving home while they continued their impromptu photo shoot after dinner, I felt a sense of disconnect. Why was I so different?  Why did I even care?

The feelings passed as did the years. When I came to a crossroads last fall trying to decide if I was going to continue my graduate school education or get serious about my dedication to writing, I joined School of Greatness to learn more about goal-setting and pulled myself into a new world. It was apparent that I had been doing a little hiding, weirdly harboring a fear of judgment. I found, like with a lot of other things, you can strike a healthy balance. I slipped into the habit of  catching up with family and friends via scrolling, liking and commenting. It brought both a new sense of connection and disconnection. I experienced great joy seeing how members of both sides of my family and old friends had grown but it gave me a false sense of belief that I’ve really caught up. Unless I’ve had a conversation or seen you in the flesh, you may still seem two-dimensional to me. I have to take responsibility for my part in moving from the two into the three.

Although the realization of false connection rings true sometimes, I welcomed the wealth of opportunity and education that came with sharing my work, travel and the awe-inspiring events I’ve been able to attend. Before I started sharing myself and my work online, one of my greatest concerns was privacy. It still is because I have drawn a line about how much I want to share with the public, particularly with my marriage. I am a firm believer that some aspects of my life should be just for me (and my husband).

I have always been sensitive to the types of people I allow in my life. If someone is known for things like flirting with other people’s partners, lying, speaking to others in a patronizing manner or constantly talking about others for silly things like the kind of clothes they wear, I shut down immediately. Call it instinct, survival of the fittest, The Holy Spirit, intuition. It has served me well. I know they are people (just like me) who are carrying pain and insecurity within them and this is how they choose to relate to the world to avoid the healing work they have to do (Yes, I have watched more than my fair share of Iyanla: Fix My Life). I wish them well but from afar. I do not need to possibly sacrifice my mental health, my relationship and time to keep someone in my life for “their good moments.” I have learned that lesson.

On a positive note, opening myself up to all of those mediums of social media confirmed we are not alone more than ever for me. I see the struggle, the beauty, the triumph, the failures, the uplifting, the laughter, the teaching, the open gushing wounds of the hearts of millions of people. There is hiding and deception but the option not to do so is clear. There are connections and movements.  Even though I have wasted some time in the last year or so, there have been so many gains.. Maybe it’s because I knew the world before it, knew the world with it while I chose not to jump in or maybe it’s because I brought the wisdom of a grown woman to it.

There are no regrets. I have moved past fear to build this site and apply for a fellowship, share my work on these platforms and cheerlead for others on this journey along with me–the writers, the bloggers, the vegans, the wellness seekers, the psoriasis and PCOS warriors, small business owners, my fellow Greats who stepped out on faith to go after scary goals and other Black women who are often misrepresented as a monolith.

I will continue to embrace the mess of the world and carve out my own corner in it with all that is available to me. I will close with a haiku I wrote and posted a few months ago:

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What Support Looks Like

What Support Looks Like

Last night, I was going through some files and found a book synopsis I wrote earlier this year. It was 8 pages long and a joy to read. I had such a clear vision of where I wanted my book to go. It provided a short burst of inspiration to keep going and finish this first draft. Next week, I have the entire time off to put in serious hours towards completing it.  Even though there will be hours when I want to throw my laptop across the room or crawl under the covers to avoid it, it doesn’t matter. What matters is being the writer, more importantly the woman, I thought I’d be. The woman who doesn’t waste time talking about it, she does it (she writes about it, too).

I just got back from writing group where I am always reminded of the support I have to become the woman I want to be. I would encourage anyone to look around and take an account of all of the support that is already present in your life. I would bet there is more than you realize, even if it’s just one person praying for you daily living 5 states away or a reader who sends positive vibes your way directly after reading one of your posts.

Or it could be more obvious like the love of your life baking you a vegan apple pie while you were away at your writing group.