damage control

in tracing my pattern of self censorship and self denial, this script emerges, courtesy of my inner child:  
i want everyone to be ok. people feel bad things...things they won't tell me about. i want to ask, but i think that will upset them.  i'll figure it out on my own. i usually do, somehow. i want to be good so everyone can be ok. upsetting them isn't good.  why can't everyone be happy? 
my parents were not abusive or even obtuse; no one would have smacked me upside the head if i asked a question--even a difficult one.  but, apparently, feeling their discomfort would have been just as bad.

fortunately or unfortunately, empathy killed my curiosity like the threat of corporeal punishment did my peers'; i had the blessing-curse of being smart and sensitive enough to see things, but not brash enough to ask about them.  instead, i developed the maddening predisposition of remaining on (self-imposed) call, trying to keep the next "disaster" from striking.*  

almost 5 years ago, i wrote this to baby girl:
just because you can see it and feel it doesn't mean you have to fix it. your vision and empathy are gifts, but they aren't always going to serve you well in love--unless it's to show you which ones to steer clear of. and you can't necessarily pass on every gift you have to others, no matter how noble your intention.  
there is no time or energy to waste on folks who don't wanna be healed--whether it's because they're not ready, they're immobilized by their own pain, they feel that they don't deserve love...whatever. it doesn't matter. not even if they're facing death. you can't change their destiny or snap their ori into shape.

as far as relationships went, i did not repeat myself.  still, there's a need to remove this programming in a deeper, more indelible fashion.  as i've said before, i have a hard time forgiving myself, and this is one of those times i could chop my own head off.  stupid, stupid girl...look what you did to yourself... 

taking a deep breath, i put things in perspective:

i was a child, and i made myself the center of things, as children are wont to do. although i didn't think i was the "problem," i made everyone else's problems mine, looked out for everyone--even when i didn't know what was wrong--because i wanted everything to be all right.    

the lesson?

i incarnated with my own life to lead, and my own destiny to fulfill.  i choose to use my gifts in ways that benefit me and others, and part of benefiting myself is taking care of myself.  my parents did their job, and never asked for anything above my ability. as a little girl, i did what i thought was right, but now it's time to let go of that "responsibility," because it is a false, exhausting one.  whatever their--or anyone else's--struggles, God/dess has it under control.   

all will be well.    

* abuse notwithstanding, i now realize much of this was a result of an osmotic connection to my father's PTSD.  as i've gotten older, the blanks have slowly filled in, and i can pinpoint my anxieties as a child to various reactions my father would have (and sometimes still has) and, maybe, my mother's coping mechanisms.  my early experiences of loss probably didn't help.




the year of perfect nothingness.
the year of perfect emptiness.

this year, i choose to be nothing but my true, divinely connected Self.
this year, i empty myself of any over-active ego and open to Spirit.

i choose freedom.  i am free.
i choose joy. i am joyous.
i choose expansion. i am expansive.

i have everything i need to fulfill my destiny.


lost & found


i can't say what this song was about for her, but for me it recalls the ongoing challenge to integrate my ego... the protective part(s) of myself i've constructed around my true Self/soul.

sometimes protection becomes obstruction...


gateway women

tonight i discovered gateway women, a blog geared towards childless women.  i think i'll be a frequent visitor.

the author is in her late 40s and from the UK, but i'd recommend it for anyone well into their 30s that isn't quite sure if things are gonna "work out" in the marriage/relationship/kids department.

she's definitely spoken to many of the things i've felt and thought over the last few years, but haven't seen written anywhere else.  in my head, i've started referring to them as single people problems.

from the "founder" page: 
Right now, there’s a whole generation of women who aren’t in the right relationship and can’t afford to have a baby ‘by themselves’ (even if they could face it).  Professional, educated, intelligent, capable, loving, emotionally-intelligent hard-working women. Women who’d be fantastic mothers. But it’s not looking like it’s going to happen. Where the hell are they supposed to take their bewilderment, their grief, their rage at how things have worked out?  They’ve followed the script our culture set out: worked hard at school, gone to university, built a career, tried to build relationships with men based on mutual respect and decency.  And where has it got them?
Gateway Women supports those women in the tunnel: those women still hoping that they’ll ‘manage’ to have a family. They’re just not sure how. Or with who. Or when. Or who’s going to pay for it…
Gateway Women sets out to challenge the ideas around identity and motherhood that are often at the heart of much unhappiness when the ‘baby story’ doesn’t work out, and to help women find their nomo mojo...  It is liberating, empowering, exciting and transformational work.

in speaking with a couple of friends tonight about feeling invisible, they mentioned the possibility of me being some kind of pioneer, similar to Jody referring to us as a group of women that (statistically speaking) hasn't existed before.

i can't say it's an exciting "first", but it's good to know i'm not alone.


prayers for Palestine

last night, i went to a rally/vigil at the white house convened to draw attention to the latest developments in Gaza.  a friend told me about the IDF's twitter and tumblr pages, and i was horrified.* 

what does waging a "real-time" war solve, or prove?  how does that honor the soldiers, or the innocents that continue to suffer as "collateral damage" in these conflicts?  yes, the Palestinians have rockets.  but Israel has rockets, tanks, helicopters, fighter planes, soldiers...   

it was the typical scene: a group of pro-Palestinian folks on one side, a small, portable fence in front of them, police, then pro-Israel folks on the other side of the police line, closest to the white house.  there were chants from both sides, with the pro-Israel group incorporating singing and circle dancing. 

eventually, someone handed out candles.  an organizer said to gather in a circle and turn our backs to the pro-Israel group so as not to engage them.  that worked for awhile...then the chanting began again.

at one point they asked anyone who had a candle to move to the front, near the fence.  there were a few moments of silence to recognize those lost...then the shouts began again. 

i actually went with the intent to pray, not shout.  the whole time, i scanned both groups, trying to get a feel for what was happening beneath the surface.

reunions of friends and colleagues.
the need to be "right" overriding the reality of human suffering.
expressions of affection.
navel gazing.
tension between well-meaning whitefolks and embedded, invested folks of color.
elation when a lone drummer began punctuating the pro-Palestine chants.   

i noticed my candle and several others were particularly luminous: clearly marked halos surrounding the flames, accented by evenly spaced rays of light.  a sign of comfort, compassion, grace; the light of the Mother's presence. 

as my candle burned out, i moved back to the outskirts of the crowd.  the pro-Israel group took their leave, evoking a cheer from the pro-Palestinian folks.  when the police removed the barrier, they took over the sidewalk nearer the white house.

as i moved back, i noticed a young brother sitting on the ground, dressed mostly in khaki and wrapped in a keffiyeh.  something told me to stand next to him.  when he looked up, i asked if he was all right.

"yes. i'm just praying."

i nodded.

after a moment, i blessed some water, poured a libation and sat a few feet to his left to continue the prayers i'd started at the fence:

  • for the mothers of the lost children.
  • for souls to reach the Light.
  • for the power to act from courage and love, not reactionary fear or anger. 
  • for the space to grieve, and for that grief to be honored. 
  • for those who could not freely shout as we did here.
  • for the understanding that true protection doesn't have to mean denying life to someone else--especially those who are not directly engaged in battle. 
  • for our love and our voices to reach those under siege, right at that moment, and in the days to come.
  • for the young Jewish man who shouted, "you are not upholding the Torah."
  • for the Palestinian / Middle Eastern women present...in hijab and unveiled, the children they brought. i knew that they, especially, held space for those who could not speak or witness for themselves. 
  • for all those fighting for freedom and self determination around the world.
  • for everyone present to reach home safely. 
  • for the energy of the Mother / Divine Feminine to cover us.  to help us see that we are all human beings, under the same sun, seeking food, warmth, and life just like everything else...and understanding the deep affront that occurs when any of us willfully denies another those basic, human needs.
after awhile, i heard the brother say, "i don't know if they're listening, but i figured i'd pray anyway."

before i could catch myself, i blurted out, "they always listen, honey."  immediately i knew that had come through me, not from me.

then, he surprised me.  "thank you for praying with me. you have a very calming energy."

i smiled.  "it's what i do."  i extended my hand, which seemed to be my surprise to him.  "take care," i said.  he shook it.  i noticed his eyes were a translucent brown...a little sad, but very kind.  and crystal clear. he was still sitting on the ground when i left.

as i walked away--suddenly aware that i was freezing--a perfect little leaf blew down from a tree and landed directly in my path.  so directly, in fact, that i stopped to pick it up.

in that moment, i remembered the Ancestors' connection to the white house and the land around it.

they always listen.  

*i'm not linking to the pages because i don't want to give them any more traffic.  they can easily be googled if you're interested.  the IDF's tone is horrifying--it's as if they're simply playing a video game where stuff gets blown up.  that staggering level of arrogance dishonors their forces in harm's way and those fighting and dying on the other side.


lunar ritual: breaking vows and welcoming abundance

this is a very effective ritual for creating change in your life. if you're holding on to doubts about change or fear "losing" people/situations that you've become attached to, you may want to gain more certainty and clarity before beginning this process.

but...if you're really ready to release and shift, this is definitely for you.

also: i have seen this reversed. some people release on the full moon and give thanks on the new.  this method worked for me, but if your intuition leads you in another direction, follow that.

on the new moon...
  • write/materialize your obstacle list.  what's in your way? what needs improvement? what's keeping you from achieving your goal(s)?  it should be made tangible so you can destroy it later. 
  • prepare for prayer.  ground & protect yourself (visualize being surrounded in pure, brilliant white light from the bottom of your feet to the crown of your head).  open your prayer as you normally would...calling in directions, protective spirits, etc.  you can say your prayer on the morning or night of the new moon, whenever your energy runs highest. 
  • say the vow break prayer. at the bottom of this entry, i've listed the vow break prayer as it appeared on the website i used (if anyone finds it in this language online, let me know). my notes are in brackets.
  • banish. safely burn your obstacle list, or tear it up.  after your prayer, gather the ashes/pieces and place them on your altar or in your bathroom overnight.  in the morning, drop the ashes/pieces into the toilet, cover them with "first urine", and flush. 

during the waxing moon...
  • reflect on what you want to create in the "new" space you've created with the obstacle removal. 
  • take note of your dreams.  visualize. plan. 
  • give thanks when you see signs of negativity and other unnecessary things leaving your life. 

on the full moon...
  • give thanks.  you can make a special time to do this, or incorporate it into your typical daily spiritual ritual.  the point is to consciously express gratitude for the obstacles that have been and will be removed through your work. 
  • write a gratitude list. start each sentence with "i am grateful for..."
  • have a party! celebrate the fullness and beauty of the moon and yourself.  



[even if you only use their list, still put it on paper.  definitely add obstacles/issues in your own words as needed and necessary. again: be confident that what goes needs to go.]

I rescind any and all vows & contracts I have taken, anyone in this body has taken, and anyone within my genetic lineage has taken pertaining to:
Going to sleep and forgetting who I am
Participating with limitation
Making limitation Real
Not following Spirit
Not trusting the movement of Spirit
Denying karmic interaction
Resisting Divinity, Infinity, and Ecstasy
Resisting communion with Spirit
Resisting full embodiment of Spirit
Parasites, fungi, bacteria, microbes, mycoplasma and/or anything else which feeds upon my bodies or beingness which are not in alignment with my highest good...
Vows to ignore a given chakra or body
Denying the mastery of myself or others
Denying the sovereignty of myself or others

[add your own language here] 

I now declare these vows & contracts null and void in this incarnation and all incarnations across space and time, all parallel realities, parallel universes, alternate realities, alternate universes, all planetary systems, all source systems, all dimensions and the Void.

Spirit, please release all structures, devices, entities, orientations or effects associated with these vows & contracts. NOW! 

MOON PHASES 2012 - 2013
[source - http://www.calendar-365.com/moon/moon-phases.html]

New moon - September 15, 2012
Full moon - September 29, 2012

New moon - October 15, 2012
Full moon - October 29, 2012

New moon - November 13, 2012
Full moon - November 28, 2012

New moon - December 13, 2012
Full moon- December 28, 2012

New moon - January 11, 2013
Full moon- January 26, 2013

New moon- February 10, 2013
Full moon - February 25, 2013

New moon - March 11, 2013
Full moon - March 27, 2013

New moon - April 10, 2013
Full moon - April 25, 2013

New moon - May 9, 2013
Full moon - May 24, 2013

New moon - June 8, 2013
Full moon - June 23, 2013

New moon - July 8, 2013
Full moon - July 22, 2013

New moon - August 6, 2013
Full moon - August 20, 2013

New moon - September 5, 2013
Full moon - September 19, 2013

New moon - October 4, 2013
Full moon - October 18, 2013

New moon - November 3, 2013
Full moon - November 17, 2013

New moon - December 2, 2013
Full moon - December 17, 2013


my thoughts on "Single & Yoruba"

over two years ago,  i listened to this blogtalk radio segment and wrote a sort of running commentary.  it's been sitting in my "drafts section" all this time, but since the conversation continues in ATR circles, i figured i'd post it anyway.

point of order: can we stop with the "males" and "females" thing? ugh. especially since i typically hear "men" followed by something about "females". men and women sounds so much more...civilized {no binary-o}. thanks. 

1. polygamy - this was probably the most balanced discussion on polygamy i've heard in a very long time.  i was glad the hostess and panel had personal experience with polygamy and were able to give a FULL breakdown of it.

is it for me? no. i joke a lot about how i'd much rather have two husbands (polyandry). in all seriousness, i see the question of polygamy as one better considered by sistas who have children and/or may directly benefit from a polygamous situation in some way.  if i'm making the commitment of marriage, i would only do so with the understanding that our situation would be monogamous--at least starting out.   

as a woman not necessarily committed to childbearing--and not planning on having a large family even if i do--being one of several wives holds no interest for me. i'd rather stay single and/or be the primary partner in a polyamorous situation.

2. some of the traditional ways i dig. others i don't--probably because i'm just "too far gone".  i trust and love my parents and my family, but damned if i wanna get with someone i haven't even looked in the eye good yet.  direct courting/dating works well for me.

i've heard that some elders take on a "chaperone" role with (adult) godchildren.  others will say, "leave me out of it 'til you're really serious/ready to go to the mat."

i honor the opinions and advice of my elders, but when it comes to marriage, i'm the one who'll have to live with him, not anyone else. i've been raised to hold that responsibility as an adult woman with {hopefully} good sense, guided by my heart and mind.  if that's wrong or "nontraditional", so be it.

3. no comment on the brotha with the bembe hook-up problem...

4. i wonder if, in our modern context, it's best to assist people in becoming the best they can be and go from there.  as one of the panel members said, many are "struggling with the basics"--for a multitude of reasons.  the need for healing is pervasive and real--the sooner we see that, the sooner we can heal ourselves, our families, communities, and our world.  that needs to be taken into account both personally and in the context of relationships.

even so, i think we can all agree that if you love, honor, respect, and uplift yourself, you will seek the same in a mate.

5. we have to be careful about these conversations being too heterocentric/heterosexist.  it's probably time to have some "alternative" discussions, particularly since queer folks are quite present in our traditions.  i'm sure--or would hope--that elders will deal with these matters as they come to understand their godchildren and their destinies.

6. glad to hear them asking what men can do instead of the usual, "oh...how can we improve ourselves/make ourselves more attractive" from sistas.  also glad they mentioned the importance of personal observation, intuition, and good, old fashioned common sense in choosing a mate.



so...apparently Nas' name came up in the latest ghostwriting exposé.

folks are upset.
me? not so much.

a disclaimer: i've always been more partial to R&B than hip hop, mainly because singers were more accessible.  my mom pretty much hated rap and thought it was all flin flarn filth, so i didn't start buying hip hop until, say, 8-10th grade when i had a bit more autonomy.  although i love it and see it as a part of the fabric of my generation, i accept that i don't "care" enough about this kind of stuff to be angry, or even disappointed. 

that said...

in most other music, we've come to accept that the greatest lyricists/songwriters are not always the great performers, and vice versa.  the great Black music houses employed songwriting teams whose names were often only bandied about by musicologists and die hard fans.  everyone else was focused on the performers.  

i didn't know until i was half grown that one of my favorite vocalists, Luther Vandross, built a stellar career remaking other people's hit songs.  i never heard him called a fraud.  on the contrary, even folks who remembered the originals often preferred Luther's versions.  put simply: no matter what he sang, no one sang it like he did. 

at its inception, hip hop was the next phase of Black music in America (by way of Jamaica).  the genre grew and expanded as its listeners and performers did.  it wasn't like there was an emcee program at Julliard  teaching the fine arts of cadence and metaphor.

in the main, hip hop was built on pure, raw talent--a voice of urban youth.  it did not emerge from a movement of "trained" musicians or artists. (note: there were--and are--exceptions.  and Nas' father is a musician in his own right).  to me, that suggests a naturally collaborative atmosphere: i can write the rhymes, but you flow better...and neither of us is dope with the beats, so...  

given the output expected of signed artists, how would most manage to write every rhyme, every single time, on their own, from lived experience--no matter how gritty?  genius-level output doesn't happen every day, or even every generation.  by the odds, it makes sense that occasionally someone would write a few bars for someone else. 

folks would probably argue that you "always" know who wrote a song, but ghostwriters get no credit.  well, i'm sure someone got a paycheck.  besides, have any of us figured out all of Prince's aliases yet?  there's plenty of stuff that's been done for the love, the exposure, insiders, or all of the above.        

any art form carries a standard of authenticity, and some are going to take that standard more seriously than others.  it's the constant battle between the sell-outs and the real heads.  fortunately or unfortunately, that's led to the obfuscation of certain information in hip hop circles.

bottom line: can many emcees flow like Nas? no.

plus, it isn't as if he never proved his capability.  if he let someone else do some heavy lifting for a bit, so be it.  according to author of the article, the ghostwritten items never worked as well as his own stuff, so maybe this will push Nas to some new, better work.  

but all this lamenting around "keeping it real"?

stop it, b.


the singlehood chronicles #11: a progressive retrospective

this summer's venus retrograde sparked a few revelations...and thanks to a rare astrological event destined to hit pisceans especially hard, my saturn return has lasted well into my 30s.

about 3 or 3.5 years ago, someone pushed the reset button on my life.  i left my spiritual family, my relationship finally, fully died...much of what i'd been working towards for the better part of a decade slipped away.

i don't regret any of it; it all had to happen. but it was still a lot to deal with.  i spent the first year sleepwalking, getting by as best i could between the pain and the anger.

in the last 18 months or so, things finally started to bear fruit.  i achieved my dream of becoming a Reiki master, and my spiritual life blossomed in wonderfully unexpected ways.  i am grateful for my new spiritual family, and honored that i'm still welcomed by the one i left.

perhaps most improbable: i can speak to my ex again. that one snuck up on me.

so i should be ecstatic, right?

well, part of me is. 

there's more, though.

i need to create space to breathe, live, love, laugh. i need to feel, deeply.  revel in corporeal joy...eating well, spending time in nature...

and, often, i need it to happen in a way that is not driven only by me.

i know i needed to learn how to do it "alone", but i never thought it would go on this long.  gradually, people i knew got busier, kids were born, marriages and relationships happened and un-happened...and i've just been plugging away at...me.

if i needed to talk something out, it was difficult to express "single people problems" in a way that didn't seem selfish, navel-gazing, or unimportant compared with the concerns of folk who are married and/or partnered, particularly with children.  

soon i realized the comparison was the problem. why give myself problems i don't have?  of course my challenges are different--i'm simply in a different situation.  

i suppose some would see a kind of paradox in declaring i desire a partnership without making the pursuit of one my alpha and omega.  frankly, i'd rather devote my energy to creating the life i long for.

you know that whole thing about shooting for the moon, so that even if you miss, you're still among the stars?  well, if i take the best care of myself now, my love will be a welcome complement and support to a content, whole, confident and blissed-out woman.

and if "the one" doesn't show, that's still a damn good space to be in.



back in february, there was the letter...now the Oprah interview

i'm going to try to keep this under 10-page-term-paper length.

first, i think many folks are forgetting how young these two were and still are.  i'm about 10 years older than Rihanna, which means she's younger than my baby brother.

i also wonder how many folks are looking at the situation far removed from the dubious relationships of their 20s.  'cause you know what they say about hindsight.  and many of those lessons--horrifically painful or just a little heartbreaking--are necessary for us to grow into our full selves at 30something and beyond.   i want to save them from that as much as anyone. but the reality is that sometimes you just can't.

secondly, i'll repeat what i always say when we hear about the latest celebrity divorce, infidelity scandal or whatever: no one knows what's gone on behind closed doors.  intimate relationships are complex, nuanced, messy things. in love, we forgive what we'd kill someone else for thinking.  we don't know what conversations they've had, who went to what therapist, what late night conversations were had--on the phone or otherwise.

we also don't know--with the exception of Chris' admission to growing up seeing the "too much" too many black boys do--what they come from. who their examples were.

yes, kids always look up to the "cool".  i loved my teen idols as much as anyone else.  but you know who kept me from imitating every move, hairstyle, and wardrobe choice?  my parents.

i'm aware of and sensitive to the fact that not everyone has the same guidance.  but that doesn't make Rihanna an automatic role model any more than Madonna was in her day, or Etta James in hers.  we could debate the pros and cons of that...but i think too many folks forget to ask why familial and community-based relationships are so lacking.

kids who have to create fantasies to escape their realities are indicative of much bigger fish that need frying.  girls who don't have someone to protect them from dating an around-the-way-Chris are not going to stop dating men who beat them because Rihanna takes a stand.  they'll continue to blame her (and other victims), ask what she did to provoke it, and keep trying to be perfect to avoid their own assault...until they heal.  Rihanna talks about this sort of revelation in her time with Oprah.

on the flip side, every girl with a daddy worth the name knows that if they come home with a face looking like Rih-Rih's did, somebody's gonna die. full stop.    

we also seem to forget that because we have more access to celebrities than ever before, we're seeing more unfiltered versions of their lives.  the machines that surrounded many of our old school artists now only work for the biggest of the big (see: Beyonce).

and even then: we know what happened when Marvin met Janis. Ray Charles' heroin issues were all over the news.  and the Beatles damn near shot themselves out of the sky for being arrogant enough to proclaim themselves bigger than Jesus.

celebrity is celebrity.

life is life.

before judging someone in Rihanna's shoes, we'd do well to remember that. 


love, lust, and the in-between: thoughts on street harassment

{trigger warning: discussion of street harassment, sexual coercion}

in the spirit of some of my other musings (see: the slutty posts and the "what's natural" piece), i'd like to share something that's been on my mind, even though it might get me yelled at.

well...maybe not.  every time i've thought that was going to happen, it hasn't.  instead i get yelled at for things i think are pretty straightforward.  go figure.

each year as spring and summer take their sweet time getting here approach, sistas in my internet circles start speaking out about what's commonly known as street harassment.

i understand the concerns, particularly when there is actual physical intrusion involved.  and, as always, age, class, sexuality and certain physical characteristics can serve as buffers and offer privilege.  

i know the game has changed.  case in point: my ex was stabbed 'cause a woman wouldn't give a dude her number, and he intervened when the dude got outta hand. 

i know there are intersections with domestic violence, rape, coercion and other forms of sexual violence. i stand with women who feel uncomfortable being approached in an overt and/or crude manner--for whatever reason(s)--and i defend their right to defend themselves, if necessary. 

i also agree that some men are too quick to presume all women are comfortable with the same level(s) of approach, touch, and closeness.  i am not better, more special, nicer or "easier" than my friend because i'll let you hug me or rub my shoulders after knowing you for an hour (if you're cute.  maybe. ask me tomorrow.) and she won't.

we are not all the same woman in different skin.  stop that.

no, we should not be called outta our names.
no, a stranger should never fondle his genitals at the sight of you.
no, men shouldn't hiss, click, whistle or snap when they can otherwise speak.

our anger at those things is justified, a righteous, powerful tool that propels us towards gaining our just due.

yes, men should know better.
yes, male egos shouldn't be so fragile.

but...i also see complexity in this. 

as a daddy's girl and a woman who deeply loves men, i sometimes regret the ways we have this conversation.  it's a shame we've come to a reality where a woman has to consider all this when receiving an appreciative--albeit lusty--glance* or a good-intentioned request for a smile.**

i wonder what's been lost because many women have difficult, non existent, or deeply damaged relationships with their fathers and other men in their lives.  how does it hurt us when we've never lived with a man who was genuinely invested in our unique gifts and general awesomeness?

what would happen if we could hear a brotha say, "wow...you're beautiful" and genuinely reply, "thank you"--whether we wanted to exchange information or not?

i ask because i have a tendency to dig until i get to the root.  and in this situation, the root doesn't always feel like sexism or street harassment. it feels like broken hearts and shattered trusts.

as we fight against patriarchy, kyriarchy, and an encyclopedia's worth of -isms, it's important to understand the layers of interpersonal healing woven into these structures.

intellectualizing and analysis is very necessary, but we must avoid using it as a heart-shield.  remember to fight the real enemies, heal the real wounds, mourn the real losses. 

it is essential that we find time to love, to enjoy one another, fall into bliss.

i believe there are moments when we can afford that.

let's not lose that in the struggle.

*which they ALL do. even the sweet, artsy, wonderfully enlightened ones. hell, especially them. often, it's what they do AFTER the glance that matters.

**which might actually be genuine, if corny or ill-timed.  


the singlehood chronicles #10: 2 years later

i fit "the demographic": never married, over-30 Black woman.

the kicker: no kids.

trust me, i am not about to delve into the sickening, desperate/despondent, wedded-to-an-endangered-species trope which, in my opinion, is a distorted, hastily drawn conclusion about a complex issue.

still, my reality puts me in a distinct position even in my closest circles. i am slowly becoming The Only One, especially when it comes to motherhood. 

for now, i don't have the cold hard cash to ball my way through my blues.  the velvet glove on that iron fist would be much thicker if i did.  and although i'm still rather ambivalent about mothering and do not long for a child, several dynamics shift when the worlds of others revolve around babies and yours still revolves around...well, you.  

what's frightening is that love and loving has never felt as difficult or elusive as it does now.  i cannot remember a time when i've been this deeply, absolutely single.  for most of my life i've been involved in some kind of love relationship--not because someone told me i "had" to, or even because i sought them out.  they felt right for their time and were easy to find.  i took breaks at will, and it was easy to pick it back up.     

true, i've been focused on several other things over the last 3-4 years, and  i definitely consider myself blessed.  i'm enormously proud of what i've achieved, and i love my friends and the people in my life.  i'm grateful to have the support of my birth and chosen families.

but the clouds creep in more often now, and they're a little more articulate than usual.

i'm human.
i'm a woman.
a woman who has loved and been loved deeply and well.

i can't unlearn that love, or forget it.  no matter how many days i "wish" i could, i know i wouldn't trade those experiences for the world.

but for now, it makes sense to commit to living for myself, and living well.  my hope is to create a life that will allow me to care for myself and realize my dreams--whether there's someone to share it with or not.

i remain open to love, family and the rest, but i've gotten beyond mourning the lack of it.

clearly i'm meant for something outside the "usual" configuration.

time to go out and discover what that something is.

{for the other "singlehood" posts, click here.}


light and dark

a few nights ago, someone posted Alexyss Tylor's latest on tumblr and i went ahead and watched.  after that, i happened to find a Vice magazine piece where she told a bit more of her story.

now, i have a couple of issues with her--similar to the ones i have with Kola Boof, minus the twitter experience--but i also have a new-found respect.  she's a survivor.  i don't always dig the way she gets the word out, but i understand that she speaks to realities i have not lived and pains i do not know. 

i've noticed that many women labeled "crazy" or "wild" carry an abundance of Dark Goddess energy.  Her names are many: Kali, Nana Buluku, Pomba Gira, Pele, Maman Brigitte, Iyaami, Ezili Je Rouge, Sekhmet.  all-seeing eye havin, fire-spittin, ass kickin and name takin Divinity.  the Mama that brought you in and will take you out.

in this incarnation, my path stresses peace, light and balance, but i am aware that many sistas choose differently.  i can hardly blame them; the help and privilege i've been afforded don't come to all of us.   

when tragedy strikes or for those born into or out of pain, despair, and struggle, the light doesn't always make it through.  sometimes the darkness comes first, and it comes strongest. 

using the dark to heal is dangerous; it is the underworld journey, lonely and fierce.  the light is safer, calmer, sweeter.  but no matter the road, deep healing always carries the risk of no return.  you can get lost in the dark, struggling against your own demons. you can go too far into the light, becoming neglectful and drifting into the next world before your time.

only those who remain on the surface forget the sanctity of balance.

so to Kola, Alexyss and others i say: there but for the grace of God/dess go i. 

it's not an endorsement, or full agreement. i have my reasons for sticking to my way, as they do. still, i know that my way is only a way, not the way, and i'm not gonna reach everyone with it. 

this is a recognition.  an understanding. 

i'm in my lane, they're in theirs, but we're all on the highway to the same destination: the empowerment of our sistas and the reemergence of Goddesshood.  


shock value & solutions

{trigger warning: video contains mention/images of domestic violence, injury}


i understand and appreciate the sentiment.  and i sincerely agree that black folks--perhaps sistas in particular--will have to pool our resources in order to uplift and empower ourselves.  {something we used to do in big ways, in case you didn't know}.

one of my personal dreams is to have a home large enough to help sistas and babies in just this way.

but i have some serious concerns about the presentation of the solution.   

for one, "blackistan" is horrifically insensitive.  "-stan" is a suffix meaning "land" in many languages (eastern euro/ slavic/ asian), and has positive connotations.  many, many folks have died to be able to rename their ancestral lands on their terms--just as we have.   

where does "-stan" have negative connotations? the western eurocentric/american media.  which i'm sure the makers of this video do not mean to align themselves with. 

the above sentence is the last time you'll see me use that word.  i pray it doesn't catch on.  

the second thing that smacked me was the deep tone of internalized oppression.  who thinks anyone is living like that because they want to?  but more on the economic justice angle later.

even within some of our worst communities, there have been places that were respected and protected: safe houses, homes of community elders, etc.--sometimes by the very "thugs" we demonize.  having the Fruit of Islam provide security within housing projects and at community events worked well for decades.

as i move through baltimore, dc and other urban areas, i still see this kind of oasis around community centers, certain homes and offices.  the key? seeing and serving the community from a base of respect and mutual cooperation.  trust and believe: there have been mechanisms of protection and respect within the 'hood, and there can be again.* 

we also have to be careful of tossing around the "ex-con" label.  these men didn't do what they did because they'd been in jail. they did what they did because they were/are sociopaths.  not all sociopaths are currently or have been imprisoned, and being imprisoned doesn't turn everyone into one.    
which leads me to my next point: we all have healing to do.  the mental health issues that form the backdrop of these individual cases and the state of our people as a whole will not magically disappear.

i rejoiced over the Kenyan women's village when it first came to light.  but i also understood that their cultural and spiritual base allowed for that kind of cohesion and community in a way that ours might not--at least not without a lot of work.  sistas who would be open to this kind of arrangement have probably already done a fair bit of reprogramming to get to that stage.

how do we overcome the pervasiveness of the idea that you can't trust another woman, or that two women can't live amicably in the same home?

how soon would these arrangements fall apart if or when someone accuses the sistas of being queer or lesbian? 

remember i mentioned economic justice?  how many sistas facing these living conditions receive benefits from the state?  how does that restrict their income and general mobility?

i noticed one of the comments mentioned that women should start the process with family members, which many folks do--either by choice or circumstance.  the catch: that still doesn't make it easier (financially) to get outta the 'hood.** 

i'm not saying the folks who made this video are not prepared to face these questions--they may very well be.

but, as i always say: go deeper.  don't stop with the soundbites and the quick, feel-good fixes.  

* i'm aware that this has changed greatly with the emergence of a younger generation that often has no understanding or respect of the "rules"--that's a problem.  you also don't see sistas being offered much protection unless they're the "right" kind of sista.  another problem.  

** remember: statistics lie, and you can't always judge a book by its cover. a woman who's single (on paper) doesn't necessarily lack a loving partner and/or co-parent.  folks are workin it out. eff what ya heard.  it's also important to note that marriage is a problem if you need assistance, and it's been that way for years.


learning to forgive...myself

as i've lived this thing called life, i've learned that i can readily forgive others.  there is very little--especially these days--i take personally.  holding grudges has never been my thing. 

but i am very rough on myself. 

one of my gifts is that i'm able to see many, many angles at any given time.  i enjoy weaving all sorts of tangents into meaningful tapestries

the darker side?  for every mistake i make, for every relationship that doesn't work, any time life goes "wrong", i see those angles, too.

my hindsight is merciless.  it has often reduced me to a mess of tears and (internal) anguish.

rationally, i'm completely aware that although i can see down many roads, i cannot control the actions of another.  no matter what i "see" or "know", i'm not always going to be able to protect myself from someone else's outwardly manifested dysfunction, pain, or heartache.

i also know that acting out of love, concern, friendship, or plain kindness is never wrong in and of itself.  it's how we all should strive to be.

i understand that it's unfair to hurt myself because those actions were either used against me, taken for granted, or ignored.  

on the whole, i make good choices.  i weigh consequences.  i learn well from my mistakes.  i do not repeat myself if i can help it.  i know how to move on and stay gone--and if i reopen the door, it's on my terms.     
even with all that, i can still come to a place where i {unconsciously} think, "damn. i messed up. [doesn't matter what "they" did. i probably forgave them already anyway.] i have to punish myself by depriving myself of [some good thing] until i can do it perfectly and without injury."

after awhile, i'm hurting because i miss the good thing, but can't figure out how to reclaim it.

it's a painful, vicious cycle.

the silver lining? i also hold the gifts of self-awareness and a determination to heal.  no way over but through has become a sort of motto.        

since i've been able to name this, i've realized that this behavior is one of those ego-based patterns that keeps me the worst kind of "safe"--the kind that keeps you from living broadly and deeply.

so...there's work to do.

  • forgiving yourself is just as important as forgiving others, if not more so.* 
  • i refuse to carry what is not mine. 
  • i will not give myself problems i do not have.
  • there are no coincidences. everything happens for a reason.
  • i incarnated to learn lessons.  i cannot always predict how they'll manifest. i am grateful that, with time, i almost always understand the reason and learn the lesson.
  • God/dess controls whatever i cannot. let Divinity work.

*to be clear, there is a difference between accountability (i.e. being aware of what you bring to a situation/space, taking responsibility for actions that may hurt or offend others, etc.) and self-forgiveness.  triflin is triflin--or, ratchet is ratchet as the kids say.  some of the "forgive yourself!" rhetoric out here sounds more like excusing bad behavior than anything else.


cake & Kola

Kola Boof is...complicated. to put it mildly. i followed her on twitter for awhile; she could drip honey or spit fire, and you never quite knew what words would invoke either. still, she was nothing if not true to herself, and i sincerely respect folks that unabashedly speak their minds.  at least you know who you're rollin with.  

that said, i felt the points she made here about the Swedish cake controversy, particularly when she says that the voices of infibulated women have often been silenced.

i do not support "savior complex" solutions that roll all over cultural realities to make their points or save the "poor, defenseless womenfolk" of a particular place.  ideally, it's better to have women and girls come to those realizations, and implement their visions and plans with support from others, if necessary.

even then, we should not assume that any community is a monolith.  there will be a range of opinions and stories, and not everyone will see a "problem" to be solved.

it is, and is always, complicated.

would i want this to ever happen to any girl, anywhere? no. however, i do understand that not undergoing such procedures can have drastic effects--consequences i as an individual am not, at this stage in my life, able to mitigate in any real way, and that many organizations do not plan for.

often, the reality is: no husband means no food and no shelter.  period.  

should it be that way? no.

be wary of issue silos that neglect a holistic picture. given the artist's lack of vision and the lack of sensitivity from the folks consuming it, i'd say they fell victim to exactly that mentality.*

*there is a video of the "performance", but i found it a bit too unnerving to link to. you can easily find it via google. 


a note on clarity

an almost-brief statement about walking the road to clarity, with some assists from the mineral realm.



MLK vigil - DC, 4.4.2012

last night, i attended a vigil at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial, marking the 44th year since his assassination on April 4, 1968.

it was a beautiful evening for it: warm with a lovely sunset, soft breezes tossing around the last of the cherry blossom petals.

there was some old school baptist singing from a men's choir. A Phi A was out in force. Dick Gregory walked right by me on his way to the VIP area {he looks great!}. the grandchildren of Gandhiji and Cesar Chavez spoke. everyone focused on renewing calls for peace, holistic nonviolence, and justice. 

i expected folks of all colors and variations to be there, and i wasn't disappointed.  plenty of black folks, too--from bourgie buppies to loc'd elders. i was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few children.  a troop of girl scouts handed out electric candles.

all in all, it was a lovely event.

the only thing missing was heart.

everything moved along in a nice, neatly packaged way.  the choir sang with little input from the crowd.  one speaker got the crowd's energy going, but the momentum didn't seem to last long.

there were jackbooted cops everywhere.  the woman reverend that prayed as the wreath was laid didn't have a mic, so those who were not close to the foot of the statue couldn't hear her.  there was no real closure at the conclusion of the vigil, but there was a lovely tone of softness and congeniality.

i'm not saying i expected full on ch'uch to break out--after all, it was a vigil.  but even at crunchier events, i've gotten used to spontaneous chanting, singing...a more participatory vibe. 

so what's my point?

we all know MLK's fire has been dampened by those who would prefer to forget that he called attention to the systems and powers that kept folks oppressed in this country; that he did not speak of simply turning the other cheek and meekly inheriting the world.

we also know that the civil rights movement began as a people's movement.  national attention came slowly, and even at its height, the majority of america was interested in maintaining the status quo and/or plain ol' survival.

i got here too late to know the 60s and 70s firsthand; i was born nearly a decade after MLK's passing.  i barely remember the 80s.

but i can remember a pre-9/11 world.

it seems that over-organization and police presence override the spirit of just about any gathering outside un-policed cultural events or the occasional drum circle.  these days, anything official feels sanitized and thinned out in the interest of keeping us--or someone--"safe".

even the electric candles--although i understand the implications of using traditional ones in such a maintained space--seemed like cheating. 

i don't have any hopes that that will end soon.  

still, i'll have to start keeping an eye and ear out for "people's gatherings" outside the confines of bureaucratic propriety.

whether solemn or celebratory, that's where the true spirit lies. 

update: text article from the washington post here


where to find me (mostly)

i'm finding that i'm using the tumblr site far more these days, especially for spiritual musings.

i'll still keep posting videos here, and i'll take some time to "backtrack" and link to the tumblr posts.  that way, folks who are used to visiting this site can see what's going on there.

one of these days i'll get all this stuff integrated into one place...that's the dream.

be well.


his name was trayvon martin.

just a few thoughts on the trayvon martin case...

if you haven't heard the news, google will get you all the information you need.


choosing battles: privileged neglect vs. hate

once, someone shared a wise sentiment with me: they're not always out to get you, sometimes they just don't care.

of course, the result might be similar or the same, but that perspective cuts through a lot of paranoia and fear.  in a world full of ever-present boogeypeople, you can scare yourself right into apathy or inaction if you aren't careful.

however, if YOU care, that's power. 'cause you might get someone else on the bandwagon.

the folks who are supposed to hate us so much continue living life--their perceived evils and imbalances notwithstanding--while too many of us have stopped living to shoot at shadows.

if they were that obsessed with coming for us, they'd get little else done.  but much still gets done. has been getting done.

to be certain, much of it is not in our favor, to our advantage, or for our health because they don't care

but that's not the same as hate.

that's not the same as a genocidal master plan.

and it does not (always) equate to sitting down each day to decide how to specifically kill, maim or destroy [insert just about anyone not male / western-euro descended / hetero here].

am i saying no one is out to get "us"? no. quite the contrary. there are a few who've made it their life's work, for reasons that would take another blog or three to lay out.

but i don't think that's the majority.

i think the majority are riding a wave of conquest and privilege they don't understand the root of.  they don't care because they don't have to; their circumstances allow them to reap the benefits, and that has the potential to make all but the most aware rather indolent.

i don't choose to lie awake thinking about folks who don't care about me, nor do i see the point in viewing my life as a never-ending battlefield.

i do choose to care more than they do.  i need to see and relate to the people they don't.  i am committed to learning, listening, doing my part in my little corner of the planet.   

it might not be much, but it's what keeps me sane.


the list {estab. 2008}

it's been four years since i wrote the list.

despite all the changes i've undergone--and there have been some major ones--it still works really well as a framework for my ideal mental, emotional, and spiritual state of being.

do you have a list, or something like it? how has it shaped your life, your perceptions? has it changed?

...not that you have to answer me out loud or anything. just a few thought questions.

the year's still relatively new, and spring's fast approaching.

get a little piece of that change.


a soul ajar

i am opening.
and being opened.

this terrifies me.

i realize that, outwardly, i am not what anyone would call "closed". i am quick to smile, laugh, connect with people.

this, however, is an opening to the whole of myself, to seeing and manifesting all that i have within to make my life what i need and want it to be, finally.

exciting as that sounds, the closures have been a lifetime in the making--catalyzed by fear of being misunderstood, the pain of ridicule and separation, the desire to be "like everyone else".

it's true that i no longer fear myself, but this next step almost feels more daunting than releasing that anxiety.

i realized that releasing the fear would make me more comfortable.  i don't know what this opening is going to look like.  i do know it's going to require a lot of trust and faith. 

it's also one more thing i have to face "alone", which is enough to make me want to hide under the covers until it goes away.*

in the end, though, the process will be the same: eventually my ego takes over and refuses to let this--or any other bump in my emotional road--"beat" me, and i commit to making myself feel better.

so i suppose i should just get started.    

*lately i've been almost hyperaware of what's lacking in my intimate life. whooooole other blog. which i probably won't write here.


the fabulous margaret cho

i cannot express how deeply i identify with this:
I fly my flag of self-esteem for all those who have been told they were ugly and fat and hurt and shamed and violated and abused for the way they look and told time and time again that they were "different" and therefore unlovable. Come to me and I will tell you and show you how beautiful and loved you are and you will see it and feel it and know it and then look in the mirror and truly believe it. If you are offended by my anger and my might at defending my borders and my people you do not deserve entry into my beloved and magnificent country.
i've had relationships that were about this. my goddess...

but...her message is much bigger than this quote. read on.


accepting your blessing

the universe conspires to give us what we want!*

*assuming: pure intention, a light heart, and alignment with our lifework and highest selves.  warning: in the absence of those qualities, the lessons that pave the way to blessing will continue.

if your lessons tend to dishearten or discourage you, look deeper.  consider what the frustrations and disappointments are teaching you.  the Yoruba say that unless your ori--the part of your consciousness connecting you to the Divine within--is open and willing, God Itself cannot bless you.

again: unless you have prepared yourself to accept and internalize blessing, it can and will roll off you like water off a duck.

if you feel you're in or approaching this space, it's a good time to breathe and be still.  write/pray it out. seek counsel, if necessary.

you deserve to have your dreams come true, and be blessed beyond measure.  knowing that, the least you can do is put out a welcome mat for all the good things waiting to show up at your door.

more ways to welcome the energy of blessing:
  • stand in gratitude for what you have.
  • observe. {this requires a certain stillness.}
  • clear your space--mental, physical, emotional, spiritual--as needed and necessary.
  • listen. listen. listen. make time for meditation, not just prayer.
  • be aware, but don't worry.
  • be prudent, but not fearful.

may all that stands in the way of your success be removed. may you be filled with the knowing that Divine Love and Support exist for you. may you rush in the direction of that which will bless you. asé.


energetic self care

one of the things i've learned over the years is that once you're involved in spiritual community--any community, really--you wind up praying for folks quite a bit.  there's always a situation or three brewing that require a little extra oomph to push them along.

in the midst of this, it can be easy to forget to pray for yourself--in the same ways that being overworked or over-committed in the wider world can cause you to forget to eat.

yes, moving energy for the benefit of others holds innumerable rewards.  i firmly believe that all the blessings you send come right back to you. still, it's vitally important for all of us who carry the asé of healers, priests, spiritual vessels, etc, to maintain rituals of self care so we can continue to work effectively for others. 

many of us can relate to stories of elders and mentors who have literally given until it hurt. there can be a fine line between selfless devotion and full-on burnout, and several of us walk it.

while i was in massage school, we were frequently told about bodyworkers who only worked for five years or so because poor body mechanics can lead to carpal tunnel, broken bones, or worse.

both bodywork and psychology taught me about the issues surrounding transference, outlining the need to balance deep compassion and healing with the realities of power dynamics and human emotion.

for me, the message was clear: if you're devoted to assisting others in some way, you must also become intimately familiar with your own level of and issues around self care.

the depletion can be very subtle at first, and is often missed.  sometimes it's a twinge of fatigue, or a sense that things are slipping through your hands instead of gathering to you. you might become forgetful, unfocused, clumsy.

if you can't pin down a specific reason for these changes, find a moment to stop and be still. take a few deep breaths. 

as you're breathing, what do you feel?  is the fatigue or sense of being "dull" concentrated anywhere in your body?  if you're an energy worker, scan your physical and energetic bodies. what energy centers need attention? 

once you've identified the "holes", use your intuition to "plug" them. there are many ways to do this; choose the method(s) that speak to you:
  • anoint yourself with a protective or cleansing oil/perfume. a frankincense & myrrh blend is good for just about anything.
  • carry protective gemstones - either as jewelry or loose stones (e.g., tiger's eye, hematite, tibetan quartz, rose quartz).
  • cleanse, re-empower or bless consecrated jewelry/talismans and wear them. 
  • pray.  many scriptures speak of protection and the Divine's role as a shield. 
    you could also say something like: i ask that any personal energy that is NOT being used to fulfill my highest destiny or serve my greatest good be purified and returned to me, so i may use it to... [state your goals/intent or the healing you need. close your prayer in your usual fashion.]
  • meditate. focus on the places that feel compromised.  affirm and strengthen those centers with the appropriate sounds, colors, or mantras/chants.

may you be well and stay well...and may the care you give to others always be an extension of the love you offer yourself. asé.