‘Blacklisted: 12 Men Facing Stigma & Success’ is available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes & Noble! Check it out.
Happy New Year!
‘Blacklisted: 12 Men Facing Stigma & Success’ is available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes & Noble! Check it out.
Happy New Year!
It is possible I’ve said this every year since becoming an adult, “This year went by fast!” Most times, it’s because it has. I can think back to being a teenaged me and even further back at age 4 watching my mom sweep up the fall leaves in front of our apartment. Each year that God has given me I have been taught to be grateful, and as I grew older I fully understood what it meant. I used to (and sometimes still do) despise the saying, “Life is short.” Mainly because of it’s exact context or that in some ways it rings true. But in an optimistic and less morbid fashion, I’ve always chosen to not dwell on that phrase and focus on the here and now. The here being my life, and the now being what I have.
As much as I cringe at the thought of it, this year of 2018 did in fact go by fast. Or did it really? I don’t know! Each year that I have been blessed with sometimes feels like the previous one when it comes to time. New year comes in, then it’s the slowness of winter, the same snow, the same ice. Work gets harder, you loathe the fact of going in, you complain and get up anyway. Spring rolls around and you begin your summer plans, festivities commence, concerts are attended, beaches are visited, boom summer ends. Next thing you know it’s Labor Day, Halloween, and just like last Thursday, Thanksgiving. The same holidays and the yearly usual happens, nothing short of all of the rest of the happenings of the world, some great and oftentimes, too damn sad.
When I think about time it honestly scares me. Not sure if it’s just me, but when I think about the hours in a day and all you have to make the most of it (or not), it’s just weird. Daylight comes and you have a specific amount of time to do what you have to i.e. work, school, run errands, watch TV, dine-out, etc, whatever it is. There’s like this invisible allotment of time to do things. At least to me in seems that way. So when it comes to time, occasionally I don’t manage it well, I whine when I’ve wasted time, and in my head criss-cross my arms if a day goes by too quickly. Told ya, me and time have a weird relationship. But as I grow older and hopefully the wiser, I understand time and timing more. Some days are more difficult, but I’m beginning to understand.
I recently attended a workshop about the Law of Attraction. If you’re unfamiliar, it is basically the belief that the energy you put out into the world/universe be it positive or not, it is essentially what will be “given back” to you. At first I was a little on the fence about this theory. Sometimes I feel I put out let’s say positive energy, but don’t always get the same in return. Or if I put into the universe that I want to fall in love and it doesn’t happen. The saying goes “You are what you attract,” or something like that. So it’s possible I just wasn’t attracting the right person? But that’s a different post. 🙂
Anyway, I feel that the theory of attraction holds some weight in some ways and I relate it to time. In my case when I was working on my book of poetry I wasted a lot of time to finish. I would find any excuse not to work on it and in turn I lost track of my goal. I didn’t “attract” the right energy so the book was unfinished. It wasn’t until this past June when I actually created a plan, took the TIME to work on it that I actually finished and published it this past September. I felt accomplished and proud. Fast-forward to present day and side-eyeing November being almost over, I think about, am I living my best life? I write this in the most not being ungrateful way.
This year the catch phrase, “living my best life” has been the social media hashtag holy grail. The phrase even accompanied many songs of this year. I admit Lil Duval’s song “Smile (Living My Best Life)” is a favorite. But to analyze it further, I think about if I am living my BEST life. What I mean is yes, thank God I am here. Though I’m thinking more closely to the word “best.” I guess it can mean whatever you so choose. For me I think about, “Am I accomplishing my goals? Am I going after my deepest desires? Am I living my truth?” I may not have all of the answers in this moment, but I’m thinking about it and I know I can do more.
An outsider looking in might look at me and say,
-“Girl, please. Didn’t you travel a lot this year. You went to Turks and Caicos, Paris, Mexico right?!
-Don’t teachers have the summer off?”
-Didn’t you write a book??
I might look back and say, “Yes, and?” In the nicest way (cause that’s just me 🙂 ). But traveling and having summers off doesn’t mean life is complete or there isn’t more to see and do. Because it’s just that for me, and mentally I have had to face some things. But I have a pocket-full of ideas and dreams just waiting on yours truly to be taken out and shared. What’s stopping me? Nothing really. Timing? Money? Perhaps. Trust me, it is something that gnaws at me almost daily.
I know I’ve accomplished a lot this year and it ain’t over yet! So while I have yet to decipher “living my best life,” I know what I am doing, and that’s living. Just like Snoop said in the Lil Duval song, “You got a lot to be smiling for.”
*Long post* (Be a champ and read to the end, haha)
It’s interesting, as a writer you might think words coming to mind would come easily. To the contrary when it involves unleashing my deepest thoughts, it is the hardest. But like most occurrences in life nothing is ever easy. I feel that I use to be the type where I welcome challenges because I have such a chill demeanor, and I know I’ll overcome it. But even the most stubborn and no nonsense Taurus like me gets emotional, and as of late anxious. The challenges I have faced not only this summer but during the month of September made me feel on some days, powerless. Coming from the writer that expresses people’s stories that I feel exude power, and here I felt powerless. But what I failed to realize I never lost my power.
Day by day in September, my brain screeched with my own thoughts and cringed when something I wanted didn’t turn out to be mine. Yeah, I’m speaking a little bit cryptically because there are some things I do not yet want to share. But what I will express is that self-care is not only important, but for some like me, it is necessary. So not to make what I have felt a cry for help, allow me to describe some thoughts.
I am convinced that I have some form of anxiety. A feeling that I don’t quite know how to define, but I know what it means for me. Anxiety is something I hadn’t really faced growing up or even early on in my young adult years. From what I can remember, I began to experience anxiety when I was “laid-off” from my first job out of college at 25. I had been there close to 3 years. Though it was made known to me 4 months prior by a so-called supervisor that it probably would happen after a merger, nothing could prepare me for that June 12th day when it actually did. After that devastating day, I almost immediately fell into a slump. I began having what I thought was heartburn but realized much later it was some form of anxiety. Some nights, I would wake-up and alert my mom I was having heart palpitations and couldn’t sleep. I even had her climb in bed with me to help ease my sleepless nights. Let me just say, that twin bed made it pretty tight for us both, but my mom is the realest and was always down. 🙂
My parents honestly thought what I was feeling was heartburn. So much so that I saw a gastroenterologist, had a procedure done to see what was going on inside, down to taking medicine for my supposed heartburn! I even at one point during that time saw a cardiologist because the palpitations sent me to the E.R. on more than one occasion. My primary doctor thought it was best to see a cardiologist to be on the safe side. I had a stress test done, check-ups, but with no major findings from E.R. and specialist doctors. I was lost and stumped on what it could be. I can remember now that each time I felt these heart palpitations it was either when my mind was racing with so many thoughts, or when I attempted to go to sleep and my mind REALLY began to wander. After the cardiologist did what she could to get to the bottom of what I was experiencing, she recommended I see a behavior therapist.
During that time in seeing the therapist helped to address my feelings, and confront some of them. It worked for a time up until what I recall turning 26, and essentially kicked off of my dad’s insurance and then had none of my own. So I felt I was left with my own coping skills, which at that time was just keeping things inside. Which duh, isn’t a good way to cope, but it was my way. A way of just leaving whatever feelings I had alone and just move on, or so I thought. You see, I know now, fast forward x amount of years since then, it doesn’t work to keep everything in. Speaking for myself, keeping in my emotions didn’t and currently doesn’t help. Weirdly and strangely enough September taught me that. A month, a word, a placement on our yearly calendar taught me that I have to speak up. A month that even though had a highlight of my book’s release (proud moment), should’ve been also filled with more journaling, more self-expression, and more power.
Trust me, I ain’t complaining. But plainly saying, months ago I should’ve given myself more room to cry. I should’ve given myself the space to talk out my emotions. Yeah, I experienced some great moments this year, and I am grateful. However, you don’t wait until (excuse my language) shit hits the fan and then eagerly and crazily try to clean it up. True, shit should NEVER be on a fan when thinking about it literally haha, but I get the meaning. I am also not blaming myself as I’ve done too much of that this summer. But I am owning up to the fact that when I felt powerless, defeated, overwhelmed, exhausted, sad, doubt, I should have addressed it. Because allowing those emotions (too many) to boil over at one time did not help me.
I do want to clarify that I am not on the brink of a major breakdown. Though what I will say is, if I allow those array of emotions to pile on me too much longer, a breakdown is NOT what I want to happen. Period. I have too much talent, too much sass, too much growth, too much love, too much of many things to have those type of emotions bring me to that point. I’ve come too far and a sleepless night because of anxiety will not crush me, it just can’t. Again, I’ve come too far and there’s so much more to see and accomplish.
So as September officially ends in a few hours I want to acknowledge my mental health. My anxiety isn’t completely gone but I am serious about getting it controlled. I have begun some “me time” ways to help in the meantime such as reading more books, meditating, starting my mornings (more than usual) with a thoughtful prayer, and this right here writing for me.
Let’s keep the mental health conversation going, and advocating for ourselves and those whose voices are muted. The time for speaking up, whatever that means for you, couldn’t happen at a better time, no matter the month. It’s an everyday growth.
From my heart to yours,
First things first, hello world! Let me just virtually sigh, ready? *sighs*
I have to sigh because I feel like a hypocrite! My whole reason for creating this blog x amount of years ago was to have an outlet for expression, no matter if many people read it or not. Here we are almost one full year later since my last blog post and my efforts in blogging and personal projects I put to a halt. Was it fear? Uncertainty? Tiredness? Knowing myself it was all of those things and more. You see, I stay inside of my head A LOT. I have ideas and ways I want to change things about myself for DAYS. Yes, DAYS. I could go on and on about what they are or were but why revisit the past that caused me a lot of hurt?
My sister used to say to me a few years ago, “I’m not going to RSVP to your pity party.” Well thanks, sis. 🙂 When she would say that to me I’d be so mad and just wanted her to listen, which she did. But it wasn’t until I got out of the funk I was in that I fully realized what she was saying. Yeah, she’d listen but I had to realize that it wasn’t any good for me whining and complaining about what wasn’t working. Heck, I didn’t want to go to my own pity party! However, I attended every chance I could to be sad or stressed about something. It was the easiest thing to do, be sad. But I was making things harder on myself. Fast forward to the start of 2018 I can write a list of things I started but didn’t finish. Or, how I spent so much time being silent instead of speaking my truths. But again, why revisit the past? I’ll revisit briefly to say I was depressed and I need to own that and confront it. For the first few months of 2018 I was mentally drained.
As a teacher this past school year, I experienced a lot of changes that for me was a lot to handle. I didn’t seek help, I didn’t even write it down! Me, the writer, I was so stressed and in a strange, dark place, I didn’t even write. Wow. For me that’s a big wow because writing for me has always been my medicine when I’m down, the happy space even when I felt sad. But I didn’t even give myself the room, space, mindset, clear mind to even jot a single word. Wow. I think about it now about how much time I wasted, how could I! Beating myself up inwardly won’t help ANYTHING. But here and now today, I’m putting purpose to my words. Purpose. I ask God almost everyday, “What is my purpose?” “Lord, what should I do?” Sometimes I think I hear him and other times I can’t be sure.
But it is my faith that God knows me and like my mom says to me, “God knows our hearts.” I am a believer of that. I know I’ve wasted time but I am far from being finished. See, I even gave myself the space and time to write something now. There was a Law & Order: SVU marathon on today, and while I did catch a few episodes I said, “Self? Turn OFF the TV!” So I did. I’ve seen basically all of the episodes anyway so, ha! But when it comes to the episodes of my own journey, the reruns of self-doubt aren’t healthy and I know I have to get out of that frame of mind. Some days I feel really confident, and others? Yeah, working on it.
I write all of this to express, no more back burner blessings. The only thing that happens it’s just forgotten in the back. So much so that not even a flame on to spark and heat up those blessings. I, us, WE, let’s bring our blessings forward, turn on that flame and watch the recipe of our dreams heat up.
From my heart to yours,
5 Things I’ve learned since living in New York City!
It’s very hard to believe that one year ago today on July 16th I moved from my hometown of Philly to New York City! I could go on and on about the journey to get myself here, or about all of the crazy things I’ve seen since I’ve moved here. I’ll save that for another blog post. 🙂 For the most part things are chill. But what I will say is this place isn’t called “The city that never sleeps” for nothin’! I can only be grateful for the blessings and stay as positive as I can. I started a new job, I live in a cool Brooklyn neighborhood, I’ve met new people, reconnected with friends, partied, turned 30! So much greatness has happened and I’m excited for more.
This isn’t to say I haven’t faced any challenges, because I have, MANY in fact. As a new teacher in NYC I had to adjust to lots, and of course outside of work. Being an independent woman can be rough, but mostly it’s just apart of me growing up.
Here are 5 things I have learned thus far. Trust me, this list could’ve been a lot longer. I mean how could I limit myself, this IS New York City. There’s always plenty to learn and discover. But for me, this is what I have figured out!
1. Wallet? Check. MetroCard? Check? Headphones? Check.
Living on the 4th floor of my apartment building isn’t the easiest task. Specifically when climbing UP the stairs with laundry, or groceries, or just dragging my tired self up the stairs after a long day at work. It ain’t easy! So, a key takeaway before I leave out of the door for any period of time I make sure I have what I need before I leave out the door. I live in Brooklyn and most times I’m going into the city of Manhattan so I definitely like to make sure I have what I need. I admit there were some days during the last year of living here that I forgot SOMETHING.
One day after leaving for work at 5am I got all the way to the train platform to realize I didn’t have my bank card OR my ID! I remembered in the moment that I had taken the cards out of my wallet the day before and clearly forgot to put them back. After taking the 6 minute walk to the station, in my head I’m like, “Damn!” I didn’t even go back home. The thought of going back and climbing those stairs made me cringe. Just yesterday once again going to the train station, I realized I had forgotten my headphones, which is a like a train rider’s nightmare! Especially for me, they come in handy to tune out the New York noise. Word of advice for the NEW New Yorker, before leaving out the door make sure you have yo’ stuff!
2. Buy in bulk, for real.
It’s no surprise that New York is a very expensive city. So I have learned to buy in bulk when it comes to buying things I need like toiletries, sometimes food (depends), and hair supplies. Also, hand soaps, paper towels. I sometimes buy two of those items or buy it in a pack if it comes that way. More so I do this with my toiletries so instead of one toothpaste or body wash I’ll buy two, or a food item that I know I use a lot. This keeps me from always having to go to the store and it helps to have a back up of something you use frequently.
Also, I must add that utilizing small spaces is essential. Most New York apartments are small and you have to learn to adjust to smaller rooms, closets, kitchens, etc. I fortunately have a nice sized apartment but my room isn’t exactly huge. However, I have done my best to utilize and work with what I got! A year later I would like to change some thing’s around, possibly get some shelves on the wall, I have lots of wall space.
Here’s a photo of when I first moved in and decorated. The last photo was taken a few days ago this July of 2017.
3. “Sit down, be humble.”
I have done my best thus far to stay true to myself since moving here and be humble. For someone like me who has dreamt of living here since I was a kid, and worked so hard to get here, I don’t take it for granted. I am very thankful to have the opportunity to have a great job, and have a home to live in. Nothing in this experience should warrant me the attitude to feel I am above anybody. I am proud, but not arrogant. I think you have to stay true to yourself but also don’t get too caught up in the bright lights and fast paced atmosphere of NYC. If you moved to a new city recently or began a new journey, being humble I think is the best way to be. I get up, go to work, mind my business, have fun, and learn. So be grateful for what you have and like Kendrick Lamar said, “Sit down, be humble.”
4. Be vigilant
This piece of advice may be a no-brainer but as a commuter on the MTA, you really need to be vigiliant. Too often I see people whether they are native New Yorkers are not, they are too “unbothered.” I can be on the train and notice things and people are either on their phones or not giving a damn what’s happening around them. I am not saying I’m all stealth and commando on the trains or walking the streets, BUT I really try to be aware of my surroundings. One morning on the train platform a guy clearly on drugs tried to steal from another man and they began to fight. In this moment I was looking at my phone! Once I realized what was happening I put my phone away, and steered clear from the altercation. I mean you can’t see it all, but what I know for certain in living here, pay attention.
5. Take it all in
As quickly as I moved in last July of 2016 I quickly started work after 2 weeks. With that being said a lot of my everyday life as a teacher was spent inside a classroom, and the days were long. I would say exploring the city is something I have learned to do since moving here. Now that I am on my summer break from work it’s an even better time to see the city! From theater shows, bar hopping, going to museums, or simply taking a stroll in Central Park. It has been imperative that I branch out and see this great city in all of it’s dirt, craziness, history, and never a dull moment that it offers. I don’t have a checklist of “things to see,” I just go with the flow most times and explore. Some days I have to remind myself, “You live here now.” 🙂 So I realize that I don’t always have to rush and see things all at once. I mean how can you? New York City has so many gems and things to discover, and that’s what’s so great about this city, at least for me. Every new day is just that, something new.
Here’s to many more memories, and new beginnings in the craziest, sometimes loudest, weirdest, never sleeping, most awesome city that I know! Cheers.
From my heart to yours,
New blog post in the “Love” section is now live! Check it out here.
Wow, so it was two months ago that I made my journey to New York City official! Between ending two jobs in late June to performing in FOUR shows of ‘For Colored Girls’ as the “Lady in Orange” at local theaters in Philadelphia, the past few months were just busy for me. But all of these things were truly blessings after how my year of 2015 ended. (Read here if you’re interested).
Moving to New York City has turned into a reality and no longer a dream. A dream I should mention came about when I was in the 7th grade and a college recruiter came to my school to talk about the importance of higher education. I remember the man showing us a bunch of brochures, one of them being for NYU and I read one word: Journalism. I remember feeling like, “Ah, ha! This is where I want to be!” It just felt right. Of course when it came time to apply for colleges and hear back from them, NYU told me a flat out NO. I was devastated, my poor 17 year old self had this dream since middle school but God had other plans for me. My college experience at Arcadia University was more than I could ask for, filled with trips abroad and I was involved on my campus, it was just right for me at the time. But back to New York.
The past two months has piled on more busy work and me feeling unbalanced, exhausted, and confused about my own to do list! As a new kindergarten teacher I am paired with an experienced teacher who has embraced me fully. The trouble is organizing my plans as my role requires more than just teaching, there are lots of other items on “the list.” I try VERY hard to not complain because moving to New York is what I’ve prayed for the last 3 years since being laid off from my first job out of college. I’ve worked jobs I didn’t want to work following that, I went without much money and health insurance, I sacrificed a lot.
So the past 3 years of praying for a new beginning, a good paying job WITH benefits, and in New York City? He answered my prayers because I trust in God that it is the right time. I just want to tap further into my purpose and really utilize and share my talents.
I’m back in action with this blog and my plan is to post at least twice a week. Coming tomorrow check out the ‘Labels’ section for a poll on the reemergence of the “Dashiki.” Plus on Thursday, head over to the ‘Love’ section on my experience of finding love in New York. For today, explore the ‘Living‘ page as I share my opinion on women receiving some “PTO” when it’s that “time of the month.” Y’all know what I mean! Hey, a girl can dream, right? 🙂
Glad to be back. From my heart to yours.
Brothers, my brothers love I got for you. To the ones “locked down” and bars blocking your freedom, despite your decision or gavel declaring you guilty, your head you must k…
Source: Open Season
Sometimes I just write the first thing that comes to mind. Well, here it is.
Check it out ——-> here!