Music Mondays: Beyoncé


Beyoncé released a new album on Friday at midnight. If you aren’t a fan or a music junkie or live under a rock, you probably missed this momentous event. People – both celebrities and normal folk alike – took to social media to express their shock and awe. The internet was all abuzz with a diversity of reactions. Most of the commentary was fun and funny to watch and read. Others were much more thought provoking a la this post over at the Crunk Feminist Collective and this video by the Queen of Nerdland, Melissa Harris Perry, where she hails this visual album as Beyoncé’s ‘Feminist Manifesto’. My favorite track is ***Flawless, which features the words of Nigerian feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from her Ted Talk entitled, “The Danger of a Single Story“. It has me bobbing my head, shaking my hips, puffing out my chest and singing at the top of my lungs, “I WOKE UP LIKE DIS!” As a womanist with feminist leanings, this song speaks to my soul.

I have been listening to the album non-stop since Friday. It was released as a visual album, meaning that she recorded a video for every song. I recommend watching the videos as you listen to the songs to get the best experience and to understand the context.

All the commentary and pop culture hoopla aside, I was particularly excited about this album because I am in the midst of the hardest season of the year. I have written about my struggles with Seasonal Affective Disorder and am valiantly trying to be positive and proactive during this time of year. It’s hard. I am facing my third Christmas a divorcée. I thought it would get easier, but its not. I travel all the time. I am a long distance away from my family. And I’m sad.

So as I woke up on Friday and reached for my phone, I couldn’t wait to download, listen to and watch this album. It’s hard for me to get out of bed. Like really hard. I jokingly posted as my Facebook status the following:

“Only Beyoncé can get me out of bed excited. Well, and God. But seriously God is using Beyoncé today. #FLAWLESS #thatisall”

I was only partially joking. I believe that music can be therapeutic and I believe that God uses various mediums to remind us of God’s never-ending love and encouragement. So in this instance, God used Beyoncé to encourage me and remind me of the power of love.

The album is all about love – love of self, love of others, love of home, love of life.

It’s all about love – eros, agape, philia and storge.

It’s all about love – confident and mature love.

It’s all about love, which I am desperately seeking…

I’ve struggled with loving myself. I feel like I am on an ongoing journey of practicing patience and grace towards myself. I really want to grow in love of myself because  I believe that I can only truly love others and experience love in relationship if I love myself. This album has me thinking more about what it means to not only love me, but to happy with me.

The last line of the opening track, Pretty Hurts, ask the question – are you happy with yourself? I feel like the rest of the album goes on to answer this question and it seems that Beyonce is happy – not fleetingly, surface level happy – but truly happy. And I want to experience that. I want to be happy too.

I’m inspired and for that I’m grateful. This album is going to get me through the next few days until I am home and can revel in the love of family and friends. It will get me through this season of being alone. It will get me through the sadness.

Thanks Beyoncé. Your music and vision give me life.



Just Be – A Reflection on Yoga and Advent

JustBeEnough-Three-Words-2013I am a person of Christian faith, which I have written about here. This time of year is my favorite time of year because, for Western Christians, it begins the church season of Advent. We follow a church calendar, also known as a liturgical calendar, that marks the seasons of our life of faith. Advent kicks off this calendar and it is marked by a season of waiting – of waiting for the revelation of all that is good, holy, just, and compassionate in the person of Jesus Christ. This time is about waiting for the embodiment of peace. This is my belief and as such, I look forward to this pre-Christmas time because it forces me to slow down, to reflect and to be watchful. The watching and waiting take on different forms each year. I was looking back over posts that I wrote this time last year, and I realized how much can change in a year.

As this Advent begins, I find myself in a place of new beginnings. I recently began the process to become a certified yoga instructor and that began with me making a commitment of how I would engage this journey over the next year. After reflecting on my thoughts, I realized how appropriate it was that I was starting this profoundly spiritual journey at the same time that my faith journey enters into a season of just being. I am sincerely grateful for Divine Power Yoga for giving me the opportunity to begin this journey and I wanted to share my commitment with you.

Be present. Be mindful. Be gracious.

I commit to taking a journey wholeheartedly. I will be vulnerable. I will take risks. I will be patient with myself. I will honor the Divine within me and nurture her continuously.

I commit to growing in knowledge of yoga. I commit to seeking out information and reflecting on is meaning for my life so that I may help others do the same. I intend to be fully present in this learning process – approaching each step with curiosity rather than judgement. I commit to study.

I commit to attending to the matters of my spirit through the daily practice of meditation, prayer and journaling. I commit to make space for my thoughts and feelings and to situate myself in a posture of reception – being mindful, not clinging to thoughts and feelings that are life taking, but fully accepting the good, the positive and the life-giving.

I commit to reclaiming my body as a holy dwelling place, paying attention to the messages it sends me. I commit to takin in food that nourishes and provides energy. I commit to ongoing exercise and practice that strengthens my body and connects me to the fullness that God created. I commit to be gracious to myself as I embark on this journey, keeping in mind that it’s not about perfection and progress, but it is about practice and process.

It’s not about perfection and progress, but it is about practice and process.

This is true for my faith walk as well. 

How are you being called to just be?

Be present. Be mindful. Be gracious.


Yoga Making Space

I am starting a new journey this weekend. Over the next 10 months, I am a student training to become a certified yoga teacher. This wasn’t a part of my plan. It’s funny how things happen like that. One moment I am sure of one path and the next, something and someone I couldn’t imagine or didn’t know grace my path and things begin to coalesce.

I am a dancer and have lamented my disconnection from dance as physical, emotional and spiritual therapy. Since my move and the various transitions of my life, I have not been in touch with my physical form. And I’ve suffered because of it. Sure things have been pretty good as of late, but I have felt like a piece of me has been missing.

I haven’t been grounded.

I haven’t been in touch with my body.

I haven’t spent time moving and stretching and breathing life into tired joints and stiff muscles.

I haven’t engaged in something that causes my mind to stop and allows me to hear – to hear my own inner thoughts and to hear that small, still voice of God that reaches out to me when I am engaging in that which I love.


Enter Yoga. A colleague of mine is a yoga instructor and owns her own studio. I became close with her and the Spirit showed up. There’s more to this story that I will share later but the short version is that through this connection I am beginning this journey.

All of this is happening at the same time that I am experiencing some breakthroughs in therapy. I am beginning to peel back layers of myself and it has become clear that now is the time for me to confront some fears, some insecurities and some maladaptive ways of being. I can’t run from certain things anymore. It’s time that I make space…

Yoga is a way of life. The word yoga actually means to unite; to unite one’s mind, body and spirit on a journey of peace and acceptance. I realized tonight that I am on a journey of making space to knit pieces of myself back together as I seek healing and wholeness.

The part that’s been missing, the part that I’ve been longing for, is an integrated sense of self. I got this through dance. I was able to fully embody who I was created to be and the practice of dance taught me much about myself and ways of being in the world. After our first practice and class tonight, I was overwhelmed by the feelings that emerged simply because I made space.

Making space allowed me to feel some emotions that I’ve been avoiding.

Making space allowed me to hear from my body.

Making space allowed me to confront the negative voices that spew lies about who I am that my depressed mind has a tendency to believe.

There’s so much more to share and this is only the beginning.



Grief Space Part 2

Grief Space – the place one finds themselves after a series of losses after some time has passed; the moment when one has to confront their emotions; a place of acceptance


I’ve been trying to pinpoint what’s going on with me. I wrote about feeling untethered and the unfortunate state of being that I am inhabiting that currently includes daily tears and sadness. After a series of conversations, I finally realized that I am in what I am calling Grief Space.

I have not grieved the numerous losses that I have experienced since the summer of 2011. At the time that these losses were happening, I was in the midst of a depression so deep that it would take time off from work, an emergency intervention and a course of medication to get me to a place where I could finally put one foot in front of the other. So needless to say, I was not in a position to actively grieve.

Once things got turned right side up so to speak, I did what any strong black woman would do – I kept it moving. I actively worked on my healing. I threw myself into my work. I began making plans. I got a new job. I moved. I threw myself into my new work. I went through the motions of self-care. In the midst of all this doing however, I never stopped just to be. I never stopped to grieve.

It hit me this week that I am now finally in a place where the grief will no longer be denied. It wants to be recognized. I no longer have a choice. A friend of mine pointed out that I am now in the place where I need to pay attention to my grief. I need to look back over the past couple of years and just stop.

I need to deal with the fact that I left my seminary community.

I need to deal with the fact that I got married, separated and divorced.

I need to deal with the fact that I am no longer a step mother and am facing immense guilt over this reality.

I need to deal with the fact that my grandmother is dead.

I need to deal with the fact that my father is sick.

I need to deal with the fact that I left my beloved community in Atlanta that literally saved my life.

I need to deal with the fact that I am lonely.

I need to deal.

And it terrifies me. I often think that the worst place to be is healthy when it comes to mental illness because you know what sick looks like and you don’t ever want to be there again. My fear all of this time has been that if I let myself feel, if I let myself grieve, I may never emerge from the darkness.

During our conversation my friend pointed something out. She reminded me that I am not where I was. I am aware. I am proactive. I am supported. I am loved. And it is time for me to grieve. It is time for me to inhabit this grief space because until I do, as long as I keep stuffing it down and pretending like it’s not there or it didn’t’ happen, I will never fully embrace my shadow. It’s time for me to lean into the grief space, to go through it, to emerge on the other side. I’m asking for your prayers and your support. Maybe we can do it together.



Grief Space Part 1

griefSunday was a day – you know one of those days when the emotions bubble up and over.

I’ve been feeling untethered recently. There’s no way else to describe the disconnect and chaos that I feel. I have been struggling to identify where these feelings come from.

Life is pretty good. I’m enjoying my work.

I’ve been proactive about my mental health, seeing my therapist weekly and staying on top of my medications.

My visions have returned. In my major depressed states, I don’t have the capacity to hear from God and my gift of visioning is hindered. That hasn’t been the case recently. My visions have returned, almost to the point of being overwhelming. The creative energy is flowing and ideas are racing through my mind faster than I can account for them.

I’m nervous about the winter. Seasonal Affective Disorder is something that I deal with and being in a new city where cold, long winters are a norm scares me, but I’ve been proactive about dealing with this reality.

But there is still this feeling…this persistent, nagging emotion that something’s off.

I have been having a few days like today in succession recently and that scares me. I don’t like days like this because they remind me that the darkness is ever present. But something else happened today. I chose to reveal myself instead of hide. I reached out instead of staying in. I opened up instead of shutting down.

It began with church this morning. I’ve been feeling so guilty for not going to church. I am a leader in God’s church and I don’t belong to a regular worshipping community. I worship with many different communities as I travel, but I don’t have one community that I call home. Many have told me that I need to cut myself some slack because of the demands that my work in this season of my life make of me. But that doesn’t help ease the guilt. It doesn’t change the fact that I am disconnected from community. So today, on a rare occasion that I was in town and that I wasn’t exhausted, I went to church.

I cried most of the way there and I can’t  even tell you why. The tears just flowed. I got to worship late but I still went. This is a BIG DEAL. The anxiety of walking into places late is often times debilitating, but I decided to push through it and enter into a space that I knew God was calling me to be. It’s funny because I had these great expectations of worship this morning and they didn’t come to pass. But I realized as I left the service that me attending and getting out of my house was the first step.

From there I met with a dear friend who happens to be a pastor. I warned him before lunch that I was a complete mess and sure enough, over the course of our meal, the tears flowed. I still couldn’t explain exactly why I was so emotional but he let me babble on incoherently as I tried to make sense of the the emotions that I couldn’t seem to name. Our time together ended up being cathartic and I realized that if I hadn’t gone to church this morning, I wouldn’t have had lunch with him. I left our conversation extremely grateful for our time together.

As I drove home from lunch I kept playing the rest of my day over in my head. All I wanted to do was go home and bury myself under my covers. But I kept thinking that I needed to be out of my house. I needed to be around other people, even if I wasn’t directly engaging them. I needed to get outside of my head. And quite frankly, the thought of going home and being in my space by myself scared me. So I headed to a local coffee shop and began reading a book that I’ve been meaning to get to.

I sat there for an hour or so and still felt unsettled. At this point, I was getting tired of myself. I have no patience with myself and often wonder why things seem to be so difficult for me. I get tired of the tears. I get tired of the anxiety. I get tired of the sadness. I just get tired. In these moments I can’t imagine why anyone would want anything to do with me. I don’t want anything to do with me.

As I was having these thoughts I decided to reach out to a friend of mine who has profoundly shaped how I understand myself, my gifts and my call. It just so happened that she was available to talk. What happened over the next hour helped me understand what I was feeling and what I needed. Our conversation led me to realize that I am inhabiting what I am calling grief space. And it’s time to deal with it…

Part 2 to be published on Friday.

From Darkness to Light

A year ago today I launched Embracing My Shadow. This blog was born out of pain and despair. It came to life when I was dying. It taught me that even in the darkest moments, light can emerge…

I started writing about my depression a year after my last major depressive episode. It took a year to get to a place where I was feeling like myself – the self that I had never fully embraced. This blog started as a cathartic exercise; as a way to cope with a darkness that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

Things are not always easy but this blog, this community of Shadow Lovers who have accompanied me on this journey, has been life-saving. I am so grateful for the support, for the people who share their stories with me and for the grace that I am constantly shown when I reveal dark, painful truths about myself.

Thank you for walking with me.

Thank you for sharing your story with me.

Thank you embracing your shadow even as I continue to embrace mine.

Thank you, dear Shadow Lovers, for joining me on this journey, as we go from darkness to light.




Butterfly Confessions meets Embracing My Shadow

Have you ever had a moment or series of moments that led you to recognize that something great was happening? That something or someone was making all the dots connect? That your journey – the pain, the suffering, the triumph, the joy, the confusion – may have prepared you for the life you are now living?
Things have been clicking recently. Even in difficult times, those times when I am reminded of my depression and anxiety; those times when I doubt the goodness within; those times when fear threatens to overtake me, I am hyper aware of the fact that something is stirring…
“Thank you God for divine relationships, connections that are firmer than what passing out business cards can do…”
I met A’driane through Twitter. Yes, I know how that sounds. You met someone through twitter? Yup, sure did. When I emerged from the darkness that was my last depressive episode, I began doing some internet searching. I was looking for resources, people, stories, videos – anything – that would make me feel a little less alone. Anything that would help me make sense of my newly embraced reality. Enter A’Driane.
You see, A’Driane is a woman who has been blogging about her experiences with PPD, Bipolar 2 disorder and anxiety  for a long time. Not only did her writing endear me to her, but the fact that she was a younger african american woman made me begin to imagine a friendship with her. That sounds a bit stalkerish but truth be told, her writing was so profoundly honest, authentic and comical at times that I felt like she was
a long-lost sister. So I did what anyone who is involved in social media would do. I started following her on Twitter and keeping up with her blog. And lo and behold, she followed back!
What’s amazing is that our connection wasn’t just a chance meeting. I soon found out that my best friend in real life, who is also a PPD blogger, knew A’Driane long before I’d meet her. Little did I know that something was stirring…
Our social media relationship continued. We soon exchanged phone numbers and began texting. We even set up a time for a Skype date. By this point, I knew that A’Driane was someone whom God placed in my life at a very particular time for a very particular reason. At first, I thought it was all about me – meeting a woman who was sort of like a mental health mentor. Her story and her willingness to forge a relationship helped me personally. But as time progressed, I realized that our coming together was not just about me or her alone. God was doing a new thing and had brought us to each other for such a time as this…
Over the next couple of days I’ll be releasing videos of a conversation that A’Driane and I are having about black women and mental health. The case of Miriam Carey spurred both of us into action with the goal of helping to destigmatize mental illness in the black community and encourage women to stand up and speak out. I hope you join us on this journey, for it isn’t until we confront the darkness that we can see the light.
Me & Addy
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