In the Mirror

What faces me in the mirror, is a woman who has a completely different idea of life, than she did one year ago.  I did a lot of letting go, of everything.  Expectation, resentment, stress and mostly fear.  This past year, I found my voice and learned so much about who I am.  Some of it worried me, other stuff made me proud.  In many ways, I’ve finally embraced the DMV as home, and I think that was an important part of developing a sense of normalcy in my world.

I was also incredibly sad this year, for a lot of reasons.  Rather than putting on a brave front and faking it until I made it, I just let the feelings flow until I was tapped out.  I didn’t stop myself from crying.  Every single thing I’d spent YEARS suppressing, I let those emotions fly free.  I am so much better for that.  Allowing myself that space to just be has helped me cope with things that would have reduced me to inconsolable tears a  year ago.  Giving myself the freedom to feel, and confronting every feeling, has helped me not have to put on a brave face.  I actually cried more out of joy than sadness this year.  I don’t believe I’ve done anything to deserve it, of course.

As far as the matter of love, I have so damn much.  I have yet to meet my Chupacabra Hunter, but I opened myself to vulnerability, and loved the results.  When I gave up the fear of being hurt, I recognized the true capacity of love.  I’ve decided to spend the next year exploring what type of love will work for me.  I plan on taking each day, tender moment, kiss, caress and, um…etcetera, as it comes.  If it’s a feeling that lasts for five minutes, five days or five decades, I plan to savor the existing moment.  Joy should know that I’ll be grasping it with hands and feet.

And then there’s the matter of friendships.  There are people whom I let go of completely.  There are people who I had to relegate to another part of my heart.  There are also people who…we’re just on a different path right now.  Each one of these situations are interesting, but they are also a part of life.  I felt the slightest bit odd about that earlier today, but friendships, like any other relationships, go through evolutionary stages.  No amount of pouting will change that.  I spoke to a friend today and we discussed how the people who are supposed to be in your life, will be there.  I can’t worry about who won’t be along or the rid.

Another thing I plan on claiming in the next year: a good night’s sleep.  In fact, I plan on having several.  I don’t think I’ve had one since I went home last holiday season.

This past year, I REALLY let my hair down.  It was much needed and well deserved.  But now I have to write the ship and balance my life.  I know I can work hard.  I know I can party hard.  Now let’s combine the two into a well adjusted system.  So this year, I plan on recapturing each and every morsel of my me-ness.

 

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7/14/51

Today is my mother’s 60th birthday.  I can’t say “it would have been.”  It is.  I’m broken hearted about it in a million different ways.  The death of a loved one is not something you get over.  It’s something you take day by day and live through, at best.  Not everyone survives it, so I’m sitting on 6,081 personal victories.

On her birthday and the anniversary of her death, I get really sad, and understandably so.  I was in my car, and the first song that came on was “No Woman, No Cry.”  I switched to Beyonce, and “I Was Here” eventually came on.  No ma’am.  There will be other days to remember her with Gladys Knight, Carole King and James Taylor.  Today won’t be that day though.

One of my favorite memories was us sitting in bible study, and someone said something funny.  My mother was very well respected and many people saw her as an example, but she could not shake the giggles.  For the longest time, she stared at the wall, shoulders silently shaking, as she tried to compose herself.  Then, she lost it.  She erupted into this earth shattering laugh, and it gave everyone else license to do so as well.

I know that she believed firmly in people claiming their humanity, and there is no way she would not have wanted me to cry if I felt sadness.  But I was reminded today that Mama loved to laugh, so today, I honored her memory with joy and laughter.  There was a tear or two, but they didn’t overtake me. I’ll never be okay with her being gone, but today, I’m okay with being.  Here’s to 6,082.

“The moment I let go of it…”

“…was the moment I got more than I could handle.”
– c. Alanis Morissette “Thank U”

“I gotta shake this
Jail shit off me
‘He ain’t gonna never sell
He gonna fail’ shit off me!”
– c. Royce Da 5’9 “Shake This”

I’m looking at this vase, full of Jelly Belly jelly beans at the bottom, so I reach into the narrow neck and grab a handful.  I pull up the fist full of jellybeans, but my hand can no longer fit through the vase’s neck.  I can either leave my hand in the vase, with jelly beans I can’t touch, or I can let them all fall back to the bottom.

And that’s life.  Hold onto too much, and your progress is impeded.  “Life stuff” can weigh us down, or load us up, to the point that we can’t move.  To stagnate, from my vantage point, is just as bad as going backwards.  And at least in moving backwards, you’ve changed the view. 

Retreating isn’t always such a bad thing.  There are times where stepping back and reassessing a situation has served me well.  Stepping back has made me realize that maybe it just wasn’t time for that particular thing.  Other times, I’ve been shown that one “no” can make way for a bigger and better “yes.”  And truly, what is life without a few mistakes to highlight what doesn’t work?

I’ve been working toward where I want to be so long, and I feel so close, it’s easy to be discouraged.  When I went through my divorce, eer one of my notebooks, EVERY SINGLE THING I’D EVER HAND WRITTEN, was thrown away.  I lost all of my hand written work again in August, 2005.  Playing the “What could have been” game is a surefire way to rip my heart in half.  Some things I can’t change or recpature.

But fortuantely, my mother imparted this invaluable advice upon me: “If you’ve got a plan, keep getting ready.”  Basically, a million and two obstacles may arise, but it is my responsibility to prove to the universe that I am serious about my goals.  Keep. Getting. Ready.  Life has a funny way of making sure you get exactly what belongs to you if you’re willing to put in the work. 

So I will continue to get ready, with the confidence that everything which belongs to me will be mine.  All things will take place exactly in the time they should.  When you have a dream, or a heartfelt desire, there’s no room for self-doubt.  You have to rid yourself of that nay-saying spirit immediately.

The life that I want for myself is in that vase full of jellybeans.  Releasing my fist and letting them fall back to the bottom of the vase isn’t me giving up.  It’s me reassessing.  So rather than relying on my hands, I think I’m going to get a bowl.  Maybe I’ll tip that vase, and see what comes out for me.  Better make it a pretty big bowl.  I expect a lot of stuff.

Faith’s Declaration – Tumblr Hangover

I believe in sunrises

and beginnings

I believe in earth

I believe in the beauty of water

running through my fingers

I believe in air

I believe in trees and mountains

I believe that laughter fortifies

and forgives

I believe in the stars

I believe in lightening bugs

and other wing’d creatures

I believe in horizons

I believe in the bones

which support my body

I believe that for the purpose of this day

I am exactly as I should be

I believe in the strength of tears

I believe in the strength of heart

I believe that my bare skin

was meant to be touched by loving fingers

I believe that my children will properly

reflect my legacy

I believe that my children will create

their own beautiful destiny

I believe in a God who loves me

more than I could imagine

I believe that love is not only

for the select few

I believe that love is a dance

I believe in long hugs

I believe kisses are magic

I believe in giggling

I believe in late night conversation

I believe the eyes speak

I believe silence holds power

I believe in lazy days in bed

I believe in flinging my arms wide to greet the day

I believe there is a time for both

I believe in sorrow

I believe in joy

I believe in life

Aeronautics

For now he knew what Shalimar knew: If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.
– Toni Morrison Song of Solomon

If I’ve sounded frightened and apprehensive recently, it’s because I am. Currently, I’m in the process of believing in myself.  REALLY believing in myself.  Going through so much in 2010, up until the VERY end, was unbelievably difficult.  I loved, lost and had a near tragic experience with my own life.  I realized that time is not going backward, and if I am going to make something of myself, the time is NOW. I was forced to take the past two weeks to slough off my past, and I realize that flying backward is fruitless.  All of my failures and frailties shaped me into who I am presently:  an ever evolving being.

There are things that could have been done differently, they weren’t, and I will never be able to change that.  For those I hurt in the process of my growth, I am sorry.  Unfortunately, life is not so cut and dry where I can promise that I would have done things differently, and things would have ended up for the better.  There are things I did as an immature person that I would never imagine doing now.  I can only start from here.

And where is “here?” Here is where I don’t owe any human being a damn thing.  I have given every bit of time, every explanation and every apology I plan on issuing out for past mistakes.  Every i has been dotted, t crossed and chapter closed.  I refuse to back pedal into the realm of dead issues because someone else is uncomfortable, uptight or angry about things that can not be changed.  I don’t remember ever feeling so light.

I’m surrendering to the air.

Let’s fly.

Fruition

fru·i·tion

/fruˈɪʃən/  Show Spelled[froo-ish-uhn]  Show IPA

–noun
1. attainment of anything desired; realization; accomplishment: After years of hard work she finally brought her idea to full fruition.
2. enjoyment, as of something attained or realized.
3. state of bearing fruit.

If I were forced to provide a favorite word, “fruition” would be that word.  Even before you get to the meaning, it just sounds divine.  The entire notion of realizing one’s dream, destiny or potential is one of the most appealing prospects to me.  I am a woman who enjoys the journey, but I also appreciate that moment that says “this is why you did all of that.”  Fruition is what fuels award ceremonies, recitals, graduations and even good parenting.  We work hard to see some sort of benefit for our hard work.  The reason so many people quit school, jobs and even relationships, is because they feel unfulfilled.  Who wants to rise each day with their own personal universe devoid of progress and passion? A life without inspiration is no life at all.

I’m cool with that.  But what if you’re lacking passion?  What if you see yourself on a path that will not bear fruit?  Do you just resign yourself that this is the way it’s going to be?  Do you give up and scrap the whole plan?  I’ve built from ground zero more than a few times in my life, and I see a certain benefit in that.  However, sometimes, the plan isn’t the problem.  I think we need to be more willing to salvage the functional parts and scrap what doesn’t work.

This is coming from my realization that there have been certain facets of my east coast plan that haven’t quite worked out as I would have liked.  Part of me has thought, “Well, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone. You’ve made it five years in a foreign land.  Let’s pack it in and bring it back to the 504.  Maybe having your family around will make going back to school easier.  Maybe you’ll get the breathing room to finish your book.”  Yet, I think that would be a grave mistake.  Just because it’s not perfect, it doesn’t mean that great things have not happened to me here.  I’ve made great friends who are family to me now. And the easy way isn’t always the right way.  We all need support, but I can’t expect my hand to be held all the way through to greatness.  It’s time for the big girl drawz.

So I’m coming to terms with never regressing, and not starting completely over.  I just have to reconfigure my path and make sure bananas are at the other end.

Keeping it Real

Okay, I’m pretty sure that Her Royal Flyyness Madame Dr. Tha L covered this topic in her blog,* but I don’t think it can be restated enough. *deep breath* How does one define a “real woman?”

Before your mind starts wrapping itself around existentialism, gender politics, and femininity, let me clarify that I am referring to size. Girth, junk in the trunk, thickness and obesity have long been conversation topics in this fast food world we live in.  Add on top of that, the fact that even our meat and vegetables are pumped so full of growth hormones, or spliced with God knows what, healthy eating has almost become a unicorn: oft spoken of, rarely seen.  Obesity is increasing at an alarming rate, and is directly linked to heart disease and Type II diabetes.  Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States.

Therefore, imagine my dismay when iVillage, an e-zine that specializes in women’s health and interests, sent me an email titled “Are Real Women Really the New Sexy?” The email implored me to “[r]ead one woman’s plea for magazines to stop putting these women on a pedestal as an example of ‘real’ women, and tell us what you think.”  So, I read before I came to any conclusions.  The writer bemoans the fact that the representation of women with curves are the likes of Christina Hendricks (who is a smoking hot chick, by the way), Beyonce and Scarlett Johansson, yet according to the Center for Disease Control the average woman is 5’3 and 164 pounds.  The writer went on to say that actresses are not real women, a statement which may well be another blog post in and of itself.

And you want to know what I think?

Well iVillage, I think you’re irresponsible, and I think your writer bitter, and quite likely a little pudgy.  Had she chosen to the path of due diligence, she would have found the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Adult Body Mass Index Calculator.  According to the calculator, a 5’3 woman that is 164 pounds has a BMI of 29.  The BMI of an obese person?  Thirty.  The average woman is overweight.  The average woman is 5.5 pounds away from obesity.  Two hot wings and a slice of pizza, and your DONE son!  The article upset me, because there are two issues at work.

The first being this:  there should be no awards for us, as a culture, eating ourselves into oblivion.  Obese moms make for obese kids.  It is heartbreaking to witness a child under the age of 8, barely able to catch their breath due to minimal exertion.  It’s criminal, it’s obscene, it’s lazy and it is not loving. You are not only stigmatizing your child socially, but also setting your child up for a world of health issues.  Before you criticize these “un-real” women, be honest and ask yourself if you are TRULY healthy and happy with your weight.  The actress Mo’Nique painted herself into a corner on her “skinny women are evil” platform, then suffered backlash from her sistren in backfat when she chose to put down the pie and pick up a carrot.  “But I’m HEALTHY,” she cried.  So, what were you then?  I distinctly remember you in the movie “Phat Girlz” (don’t you dare judge me *kisses*), railing against the evils of Spring Mix.  Oh, but now it’s okay, because you no longer feel like an outsider?  I understand it’s a coping mechanism, but help other women and admit that.

Second, criticizing women who are not overweight is hypocritical, because you are still projecting a negative body image.  If a woman is starving herself, yes, that is unhealthy and awful, but I feel pretty confident in the assertion that a Salma Hayek is NOT skipping meals (neither are her magical, life sustaining chichis).  Why is she not “real?”  Why is the plus sized supermodel (who is a size 12) not real?  Ashley Stewart, a purveyor of plus sized finery, starts at size 12 if memory serves.  And let’s go smaller.  My mother had four children and was a size four.  She also sewed for all four of us, cooked homemade meals every night, and made a conscious decision to abstain from excessive snacking.  Good luck escaping with your teeth if you attempt to tell me that she was not a real woman.  Some women have smaller frames than others.  Some have metabolisms that function at a higher rate.  None should be penalized for nature.  And there is also nothing wrong with a healthy work out plan.  The concept is simple:  If you take in x, you must burn y.  If you do not burn y, x will get all up in that ass…and thighs…and heart.

The refusal to lose weight (and I say this as an obese woman) is either due to depression, laziness, or in some cases, outright stubbornness (though rarely have I encountered a stubborn “Imma be fat” woman that was not combating her own personal demons).  Stop trying to prove a point.  What baffles me, is how some (not all) of these women who supposedly reject society’s notion of beauty, will spend extraordinary amounts of time and money on every other notion that doesn’t involve weight.  Shoes, cosmetics, hair, nails, clothing are quite often done to excess.  Don’t tell me you don’t care about society’s view on how you look; you wouldn’t spend an hour and a half getting dressed if you didn’t. Let’s get to the core of the matter.

Don’t let stubbornness or discouragement keep us from the road to health and well being.  I know it’s hard.  Weight loss is one of the hardest things I have ever attempted, and I’m a single parent.  I can keep my kids in line; keeping myself in line is a horse of another color.  I am an obese woman who considers myself to be beautiful.  But that beauty has NOTHING to do with how fat or slim I can be.  It is due to my heart, that I desperately want to keep beating for as long as I can.  So I plan to get busy.  I’ve only got one question, and it can best be summed up best by my favorite stoner Brian:

WHO’S COMIN’ WITH ME?

*For the life of me, I can not remember the name or estimated date of the post, please forgive.