A Word on Falling in Love

Below is a picture of me in Cape Town, South Africa last week. You may not know it, but the smile that’s on my face is for the person behind the camera, for the man that has infiltrated my heart.

img_1841

I’m falling in love and it sucks. How can something simultaneously be so beautiful and so brutal? Glennon Doyle Melton coined the perfect phrase for this reality – brutiful.

I’ve been divorced for six years. I’ve engaged a few different men over the course of this time but if I’m honest (which I’m learning is non-negotiable), I haven’t been in love with any of them. I’ve loved some of them but I’ve not been IN love. I’m glad that over the course of my 35 years I’ve learned the difference. I love everyone. I truly do. I love anyone who shares a piece of themselves with me; with anyone who is vulnerable, raw and authentic. It’s the way that I’m wired. I can’t help it. Continue reading

Advertisements

#DearBlackMen: A Word of Love

I love black men. When I heard about the #DearBlackMen effort to share love letters following recent happenings, I knew that I had to participate. As the year closes I wanted to take a moment to send some love to the men in my life, most of whom happen to be black.

To my father and father figures…

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/bf0/42109128/files/2014/12/img_0104.jpg

I think about the men that have raised me, from my biological father Walter, to my step father and to my godfather. Each of them came from hard lives, lives that were rife with trauma and despair. Yet, they all seemed to persevere, to rise from ashes and truly become roses that have grown from concrete. They have taught me the importance of hope – of believing in the impossible, in the unseen. They have created lives for themselves and their families that many within our society believe is not possible for the Black man.

To my brother and those who have allowed me to be their sister…

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/bf0/42109128/files/2014/12/img_0101.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/bf0/42109128/files/2014/12/img_0103.jpg

My brother Cole is my best friend. He is the Yin to my Yang and he has introduced me to a collective of young men whom I have grown to love as brothers. I count my cousin Nathan in this group as we are more like brother and sister than cousins. Even though these men are younger than me, they embody unconditional love and respect. They constantly teach me the importance of loyalty and bring abounding joy to my life.

To my uncles and those who have nurtured me from afar…

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/bf0/42109128/files/2014/12/img_0102.jpg

I think about my uncle Karl and my uncles from the “rooms” – the men of AA and NA who became family and watched me grow. Their wisdom has been invaluable and I am often reminded of how they loved me as one of their own. I thank God regularly for the love that they lavished upon me and as some have gone on to eternal rest, I carry each of them in my heart.

To my friends…

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/bf0/42109128/files/2014/12/img_0106.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/bf0/42109128/files/2014/12/img_0107.jpg

I have a couple of male friends who have spoken hope into my life during the darkest moments. Brady and Ulysses are men of honor. They are men who care for the women in their lives without limits. They are respectful and giving and kind. They show me what it means to be a man today and continue to hold me accountable to becoming the person I have said I want to be and the person they know that God has called me to be.

To my lovers, who shall rename nameless…
I have a deep and abiding appreciation for black men that I have had the honor of being in romantic relationships with. I love their skin and their smell and their pride. I love the way they protect me. I love how they love me – mind, body and spirit. I love them.

To all the black men I have encountered and I have yet to meet:
Remember that you are made in the Imago Dei, in the image of God. That the Creator and the Creator alone defines your worth and identity.

Remember that you come from a line of ancestors who survived the Middle Passage and that this reality makes you stronger and more powerful than you could ever imagine.

Remember that your passion, compassion and creativity have inspired generations upon generations and that you have changed the course of history.

But most importantly, remember us, your dear black sisters, who have held you down, had your back, supported you, nurtured you and will continue to lift you up, regardless of what happens. And you know why? Because we love you. Forever and always and there is nothing you can do about it. Period. End of Story.

Love,

Me

A Word on Lessons

lessons-learned-e1324389749537

This post is actually about my most recent break-up, which has taught me some lessons. I’m pretty sure the reflection will continue, but so far, there are a few things that stand out. I am no longer a child. When I was a child, I acted like a child. As I have grown older, I have put away childish ways of being. For me, maturing and becoming an adult means that I understand the ability that I have to make choices. I understand that my choices have consequences; that there is a cause and effect relationship between what I do and what happens. I’m choosing to learn from my choices. That being said, I made a choice to enter into a relationship, even though my gut was telling me something different. And there were consequences. Lesson number 1: Always follow your gut.

Continue reading

Music Mondays: Beyoncé

beyonce-22

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.

Love,

Me

After He Leaves

After he leaves I feel like a part of me is missing. How is it that this man has the ability to make me feel like I am on top of the world and simultaneously make me feel like it’s never enough? I don’t get tired of him. I love listening to him. I love sharing space with him. Truth be told, it’s not even anything he’s doing per say… it’s just how he is. When he’s with me I feel like I’m not alone…

I’ve come a long way. When I was younger, so much of what I thought about myself was wrapped in others’ opinions of me, particularly men. Now I am pretty confident about who I am and what I can do sans their opinions… yet, his smile, his eyes, his touch, make me want more.

More of what? I am coming to terms with being single. It’s not all bad. Quite frankly, because of the type of woman I am, I enjoy the freedom that comes with singledom. What I miss more than anything is knowing that there is someone who has my back. I miss knowing that on those days when the loneliness is too much to bear, there is someone committed to walk the road with me. He makes me long for that connection, for a partnership that is characterized by trust, compassion, honesty, laughter and the pursuit of excellence. And let’s not forget about the passion… I think what’s hardest about this is that I can picture our life together. I can see us supporting one another and loving one another. We are just enough alike and just enough different to be a pretty powerful team. And I think that’s what I long for most of all, to be a part of a team.

So much of my life is lived solo. I know it’s because of what God has called me to. I am someone that will live a public life and that mean there are many places and spaces that I must travel alone. I think I am coming to terms with that but I do long to be in relationship. And he makes me want it all the more.

I keep reminding myself that for everything there is a season. This is my season to develop professionally, to hone my skills, to travel and to nurture friendships. It’s also a time to grow in love and knowledge of myself, which I haven’t spent a lot of time doing. Knowing all of this doesn’t make me feel better but it does keep things in perspective. The sadness that I encounter will not overtake me. The love that I desire will come to pass. And when it does, I’ll be ready.

On a Day Like This

One of my favorite camp songs is “On a Day Like This”. I love this song because it has fun motions and removes lines from each verse as the community sings it together. By the end, you only see actions that have replaced the verses but the beginning and ending of the song remain…”On a day like this, I need the Lord to help me.”

This song has been playing on repeat in my mind. Recently I had a very difficult day. A couple of things happened at work that brought many emotions to the surface. I went home and lay on my couch with a glass of wine and caught up on my television shows. I went to bed early thinking that after a good night’s sleep I would be up and ready to roll the following morning. But I wasn’t. I was dragging and could feel the tears just beneath the surface that were threatening to spill over. What is that about?

I am a student of awareness. I believe wholeheartedly that paying particular attention to one’s thoughts, feelings and actions provides invaluable insight. That being said, I spent some time sitting with my thoughts to figure out what’s going on…

Work was stressful, but not in a bad way. I commented to one of my colleagues that I appreciate times of crisis because there’s no time to think. There is only time to do and to be. In times like that, I realize not only how gifted I am but more importantly, that God is ever-present and the Spirit goes before me. There were a few situations that tested these theories and I felt confident that the care I provided was not only appropriate but appreciated.

I know that I haven’t fully been present as I continue to reflect upon a recently ended relationship. I keep playing things over in my mind trying to figure out a couple of things: do I really even want this man? What is the attraction? Am I settling? Should I fight for it? Why do I feel this connection to someone who is so different from me? All of these questions provide some insight into how I’m trying to process how relationships begin and end and the patterns that are present in my own behavior.

I also thought about a conversation I had with my father after he read a couple of my blog posts that were able to communicate things that I have never been able to share with him face-to-face. For some reason, my fear was that he would be upset with me, which he wasn’t. He was very compassionate and expressed feelings of sadness and disappointment as he tried to wrap his mind around new knowledge about my childhood and my personal struggles. There were some things he wanted more information about but I couldn’t go there last night. I am a bit relieved though. I feel like I’ve been hiding things from my father my whole life and I was finally able to share pieces of myself that allow him to have a better understanding of who I am.

I think I am also overwhelmed by things that I have been putting off and by doing so, I continue to procrastinate and feel like I am held hostage by my own inertia. The reality of my changing finances, the daunting task of preparing for future opportunities, the risk associated with starting my own business and the ever present fear of failing and not being enough are rearing their ugly heads. But I am aware of these things and valiantly putting one foot in front of the other.

I feel sad. I feel lonely. I feel tired. I feel overwhelmed. I feel nervous. I feel confused.

I don’t feel hopeless though. I know that it’s just for today. And for that, I am grateful.

Love,

Me