Monthly Archives: January 2013

Teaching Freedom

I had the opportunity to take my 8-year-old nephew to the citywide parade honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., yesterday.  And as we drove on the way to the parade, I asked him if he knew who Dr. King was, to which he of course replied yes and told me “he died”.  Mmmmkay…  So I asked him if he knew what he did BEFORE he died, and not surprisingly he did not.

Then I started thinking…many of us adults don’t really know what Dr. King did before he died.  We just enjoy the day off…IF our jobs are among the few that actually take off to honor the day set aside to do so.  But how would I explain this to my nephew?  How would I share this important part of American history with him, and share with him what it means to live and lead a life of significance?  It wasn’t quite as easy as I thought it would be.

How do I teach an 8-year-old concepts of freedom, justice, and equality that we as adults still don’t seem to really understand or follow?  We still discriminate not only against other ethnicities outside of our own, but WITHIN it…especially within the African-American community.  From skin hue to hair texture to facial structure, on up to the more widespread separators of education and financial status.

How do I drive home the idea that we are “finally free” when, at 8, he sees a police car and already has learned to be anxious about whether we might get pulled over and there be an adverse outcome affecting that freedom?  I won’t start lying by making up statistics on African-American arrest and incarceration rates, but we know it’s significantly higher than any other ethnicity in this country…multiplied a few times.  And yes, there are other factors that affect these rates, but generally speaking it’s still almost as if being born black is a sexually transmitted disease and predisposes those affected by it to certain socioeconomic conditions…even if nothing more than being forced to overcome the “basic” negative stereotypes.

Why is it such an “achievement” for a black man to go to actually graduate high school, go on to graduate college, find and work in his passion, create a family in his own time, and live his life…WITHOUT having done a stint in jail, or have 8 kids by 7 different women…whereas this is just “normal” for his white counterpart?  Why is the average rite of passage for the black male some kind of tragedy (jail, getting shot, knocking up his 8th or 9th grade piece of ass – because that’s how he’s been taught to view her, up to that point – or the death of a loved one)?

We’ve come a long way, but we still have so far to go.  So what DID Dr. King do?  Because this was NOT the dream he had in mind.  He took a stand.  He spoke out, but in a way that was so full of conviction, passion, and certainty that it inspired others to stand (or sit or march) for what they knew was right.  He wasn’t content “just getting by” with what he was told he was allowed to have during that time.  He didn’t conform to his allotted corner and just hope for the best.  He honored what was RIGHT, not just what would let him live a “safe” life.  Because truth be told, even if he HADN’T taken the stand that he did, his life still wouldn’t have been safe and certainly not comfortable.

Perhaps that’s part of the “stagnation limitation” that we’re experiencing as a nation now.  All of the tension, turmoil, turbulence, and friction that it took to get us to this point was actually what was called for in order for it to be so uncomfortable and obviously unreasonable that something HAD to happen.  Today, much of the blatant discrimination and ideologies have faded into the background and they’re much more subtle.  So subtle that it’s difficult to call it outright injustice.  And the mentalities have seeped so deep and settled into generation after generation that we almost don’t even recognize them or know any better, and we’re perpetuating our own demise.

So where do we even start?  We start by telling what we know.  We know that “once upon a time”, racial injustice wouldn’t even have allowed us the freedom of having the conversation.  Once, the little black kids and the little white kids wouldn’t have been allowed to learn, play, or eat together.  Once, multi-racial homes and neighborhoods were illegal.  Once, not only did children have a curfew but even black adults had to be in before the sun went down and the street lights came on…or they risked not only their freedom but their very lives.  These only seem “basic” to us right now because they fought so hard for them back then.

Today, we’re confronted with a far more dangerous type of injustice…because today’s injustices don’t hang a sign that say “back to the trees, boogies”.  No memo on the job application that indicates “black folks make 25% less than their white counterparts”.  There’s no demarcated neighborhood that says “these kids will grow up knowing only impoverished thinking and habits”.  No written rule that notes “black girls make the easiest targets for teenage pregnancy, promiscuity, and domestic violence”.  Nah…this is an enemy that has partnered with an internal champion.  No march on this one.  No bus to ride on this one.  This sly alliance is likely why Dr. King died the death that he did.

So what did I tell my nephew?  I told him what I knew.  That Martin Luther King was a man of vision, and that he saw some very special things.  He saw how special EVERYONE is, and that everyone should be treated fairly.  That we all deserve to be allowed to be our best…no matter how we are born, or how we look.  That it’s wrong to be mean to someone just because they are different from us.  And I told him that we all need to make sure we do what we know is right, no matter how hard it may seem at the time.  That not everyone will like us for it, but that by doing the right thing we live the life we are meant to live.

I doubt he understood most of what I said, but that is where leading by example comes in.  I can show him better than I can tell him.  And you best believe I intend to show him everything I know for as long as I’m able…and pray that he has something far more powerful grow within him.  It starts with one seed…

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Mirror, Mirror…

I’ve had the opportunity to re-read some of my blogs lately, and every now and then I see an ugly monster rear its head.  And I want to address it.  It’s not envy or jealousy, but rather is hypocrisy.   I’ve noticed that in recent years I’ve become a version of the very thing that bugs the hell outta me…judgmental, critical, and self-righteous.  I’m not proud of it, but I am owning it as true.  Otherwise, there’s no other way to begin to change it, because there’s no acknowledgement that a problem exists.  Isn’t that the first step to recovery?  Well, I’m diving in.

Being raised in differing denominations of Christianity, and attending a Christian university, I had some very fundamental religious concepts instilled into me.  Things like original sin, the necessity and grace of salvation, resurrection, hell, holiness, purity, trust in a just God, God’s sovereignty, the smallness of man, and so on.  (I’m not a theologian, and never claimed to be one…so if any of these things aren’t technically “Fundamental”, forgive me.  When I say “fundamental”, I’m referring only to the things that were basically drilled home on a regular basis…not official dogma.)

My early years were lived in a more liberal type of religious environment, but the fundamentals were the fundamentals…so they were basically the same.  But beginning with my sophomore year in high school, I changed homes and began to attend a more “charismatic” church.  Here, the fundamentals were LIFE.  Not only were they taught, but they were lived with a vehemence that I’d never experienced or encountered before – complete with tracts, door-to-door witnessing, altar calls, lock-ins, and the like.  Straight up “kingdom business”!

In my early years, I attended church regularly because it’s all I knew.  It was what my family did.  But the lifestyle wasn’t as restricted and constricting as it became when I changed homes and churches.  Funny thing is that my home wasn’t restrictive (quite the contrary…it was more freedom than I’d ever known up to that point), but there was a religious regimen in place that left no room for anything other than the teachings being presented.  It wasn’t mandatory clothing and no make-up, but the culture was that of strict compliance to the Bible – God’s holy word.  Anything to the contrary was cause for not only concern, but depending on the infraction, prayer, fasting, laying on of hands, and possible pastoral counseling.

In this environment, I went from a sometime-y churchgoer to the Lord’s cheerleader.  I learned what it looked like to actually “live” what I’d been taught in the other church environment…and I was faithful.  I felt a strong sense of obligation to the tenets that my spiritual understanding had been built upon to that point.  But I also felt a strong sense of guilt whenever I wasn’t as excited about the Lord’s work as it seemed I should have been.  It was in this environment that I learned how to judge.

I saw how well other people were treated when they were serving God and doing it “right”.  I saw how “lost and lonely” other people looked and were treated when they tried to master being faithful to God, but somehow fell short.  I learned how to do the right things, and stay on the right side of righteousness so that I would be treated well.  And I also judged myself, based on all that I saw, because I saw others being judged…and I didn’t want that stigma.

I loved the aspects of restoration, reconciliation, and grace but was horrified by the idea that the God I served could be so mean and cruel as to cause (or graciously “allow”) bad things to happen to people if they weren’t holy enough.  Mortified by the idea that not only would He allow bad things to happen to them here, but if some freak accident caused them to die while they were thinking or doing something unholy, they would burn in hell for all of the rest of eternity.  No chance of parole, and no pardons…no exceptions.

That being the case, after high school, I wanted to make sure that I stayed “in grace”…so I continued on to a Christian university.  Here, I saw and heard of all MANNER of hellbound activity!  Everything from cursing, drinking, premarital sex, listening to secular music, partying with heathens…the whole nine.  My Christ cheerleading pom-poms were almost worn out by the end of freshman year…and I can only imagine how ridiculous I looked for condemning my roommate for ROCKING to Michael Jackson (she was in LOVE with him).  It was a lost cause and I felt myself “backsliding” because I started to actually “like” Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love”, thanks to the hellion of a dorm beautician who had her music on blast mode.  Yeah, I was falling and falling fast.

That way of living seems so far removed from me today, as I chill my sweet moscato, listen to the soothing “secular” jazz sounds of George Benson, enjoy a schedule that’s not dictated by spiritual emphasis weeks, visit different bars and do karaoke without feeling “convicted” or compelled to tell them about Jesus, and acquaint myself with the sound of my own voice rather than waiting to hear if what I want to do is “normal” and okay with the churchgoing public.

But these days I find myself plagued by a different version of the same judgmental virus.  Only it’s directed at those who now live the life that I once knew and followed oh-so-intimately.  It’s almost like a lashing out and poking fun at them…how small of me!

Here’s what I know…  Although I do not subscribe to the same ways of conducting my life, it’s not my place to judge them for how they conduct theirs.  HOWEVER, with my emancipation has come a yet untrained tongue and face (it seems to have lost its ability to bullshit anymore) which can be quite sharp in asking a “soldier for Christ” to back up off me should they push me to that point…I’m working on reclaiming my grace.  Nevertheless, I’m saying that I realize that there is a way to be free of what is no longer authentic for me without antagonizing those with which I once closely identified.

Because the truth of the matter is that judgment is judgment…regardless of where it’s aimed.  And I neither desire nor have the right to be anyone’s judge.  It’s just that I sometimes feel the need to “set the record straight” and go out of my way to prove that something is a certain way…when it’s absolutely unnecessary.  It is what it is.  I am who I am.  No need to prove anything, or set anything or anyone straight.

It’s pretty much a fight or flight type of response to what I perceive to be a potential threat.  But threat to what, is the question.  Threat to my personhood?  Threat to my liberty?  Threat to my future?  Threat to my own definition of who I am?  None of these things can be stripped of me…I’d have to surrender them.  So where does the fear come from?  What am I really afraid of?

Marianne Williamson’s “Return to Love” suggests that maybe I’m afraid of myself.  My own brilliant, incredible, amazing, resilient self.  And you know what?  I’m inclined to agree.  Because I’ve compared myself to so many others over the course of my life and journey, and felt as though I didn’t shine like them in some way or another.  But what I’ve come to realize is THAT’S THE POINT!!!  Living in other people’s shadows and under their umbrellas of what’s possible or acceptable is overwhelmingly exhausting!  And it is IMPOSSIBLE to ever grow into fullness and pure and genuine fulfillment coloring myself by someone ELSE’s numbers.

Judgment isn’t me.  That was someone else.  So while I know I’ll continue to speak about my various experiences and how I believe many of them made me shrink into a way-too-small version of myself, my goal is to learn to do so without venom and without contempt.  Beauty, grace, dignity, authenticity, humility, and truth is who I am…and how I want to deliver.  So when I look in to mirror today, I won’t see yet another “version” of me…but simply Dionne.

Does this mean that everything will be diplomatic, “safe”, and virtually pain-free?  Not at all.  There’s no way to satisfy or protect everyone.  But the point is my AIM should not be anyone or any group of people.  When I share, I want all of me to be free and have a place wherever I am.  But in this space of genuineness, I no longer have to fear that I won’t fit and therefore force myself into yet another space that doesn’t honor my truth.

Learning how to balance all of this is such an interesting journey, but one that I’m so glad to finally be on.


Sexual musings – MATURE CONTENT

Fucking.  If you can’t make it past this word, then this article might not be for you.  Because what I’m pondering here is something that goes beyond a mere profane word, and might go a little deeper or be a little more graphic or “other” than what some will feel comfortable with.  So “fucking”, is essentially like being tossed into a chilly swimming pool to shock the system, rather than being given the opportunity to ease into it slowly.  So if you’re still reading, you might be shaking a little, but I’m assuming your mind is open and you might not get lost before the end.  If not, adequate warning has now been given.  Alright, here goes…

What is sex?  When most of us think of it, we’re thinking of the physical contact between genitalia.  And by definition, that’s technically what sexual contact is…the joining, stimulation, or manipulation of sexual organs.  And for the purposes of keeping this from becoming a full dissertation, I won’t delve into what constitutes a sexual organ (but anyone who’s successfully survived puberty should know that sexual stimulation goes far beyond the penis, breasts, and clitoris/vagina…more on that at another time).

One thing I’ve wondered is why is sex such a triggered response to so many emotions and scenarios?  It’s almost like eating…and in some cases, it IS eating (and this is usually quite welcomed).  Sad?  Have sex; it’s a great picker-upper (MUCH better than any paper towel, for sure…and hopefully not so “quick”).  Happy?  Celebrate it with sex (nothing says “I love you” like a great session of head/face, hair-pulling, back-scratching, and ass smacking…sounds more violent than it really is).  Pensive?  Sex can help clear the mind and release those endorphins, so the thoughts come more clearly (no pun intended; eh…okay, maybe a little).

I recently had a very stimulating and provocative conversation with a friend, and at the end of that conversation I was primed and ready for some pretty intense sexual activity…and the conversation was as NON-SEXUAL as it could get.  This shocked the hell outta me.  Because I was wondering why the hell that conversation had me so “open”.  I had been stimulated in every way EXCEPT sexually, and felt so “full” and vibrant, yet grounded and at peace, that I literally wanted to be filled with more of that.  Not that friend, but that which matched me.  In that moment, my reality was missing nothing, I felt whole and awake, and my senses were alert.  A “booty call” wouldn’t have done the job.  It was as if the infinity of my soul had opened and I wanted to drink in (figuratively and literally) and connect with more of my own infinity…and no, masturbating wasn’t the answer either.  Nah…right then, I wanted to connect with my own infinite match.  It wasn’t a “longing” so much as it was a readiness to receive, and a desire to pour out more of myself…so I’m writing.

And this experience brings me to the topic of casual sex.  I was raised to believe that it was wrong…period.  No explanation given, other than it went against God, defiled my body and created “soul ties” – whatever that meant.  My comprehension of those concepts was far below what was needed to make sense of any of it.  But now I get it.  And my understanding is expanded…probably to the point of heresy of the original context, but that’s not my concern or problem.  So let me break down my understanding for you…

  • Going against God means going against myself…because I AM God.  Aw shit…did I lose you?  I’m not the “concept” of God that is prayed to, worshipped, or glorified…I AM the same energy that whatever God-concept you subscribe to is.  Think about it…if that energy is infinite, how can I (or you) be anything other than the same?  Infinity cannot be separated. Just sit with that for a bit…you won’t go to hell for it.  Casual sex does not honor that which I am, because by the very general understanding of casual sex (non-committal and non-obligatory sexual relations) it cannot.  It’s like going to the bathroom…you don’t have to have a relationship with the toilet in order to release into it; just “handle business” and be done with it.
  • Having casual sex doesn’t defile my body any more than the other shit we do that doesn’t encourage optimal health, such as drinking alcohol, eating fatty foods, being around people with toxic attitudes, or speeding.  But I’m not going around rebuking a bag of chips nor feeling the need for an altar call after driving 9 miles over the speed limit (they ticket at 10+ mph over…ain’t nobody got time for that).  But since all that I “am” is currently utilizing this body, these are things that could jeopardize how long I get to experience this side of eternity if practiced frivolously.
  • Lastly, sex is not the only activity that creates ties to people we don’t necessarily want or need to be connected to.  So banning sex on the principle of being “unequally yoked” is like denying a road trip, or forbidding the lending or borrowing of money…which probably SHOULD be forbidden, but I digress…  Sex in a casual sense can create an illusion of oneness and implies obligation to the other person (I mean really…it’s not a simple handshake).  So it stands to reason that I would be prudent about who I invite into my intimate space and bind myself to.  Because even if I KNOW that things are supposed to be casual, if that person gets sick in their body you can bet your last dollar that I’m going to be(come) concerned and want to know what’s going on…because they were once a part of me, literally.

All that being said, I’m not a fan of casual sex, but it’s not because of a religious directive against it…although there was nothing inherently wrong with the directive.  Except that once I grew into an understanding of my own, I felt like what I was told before was manipulative and fear-inciting.  But hey…whatever gets the job done, right?  Problem is, I still had casual sex and know countless other religious folks who got that same message and still “got it in” on a regular basis…so the “job”?  Yeah…not done.

I don’t care for it because, for ME (others may feel differently), of the lack of perception involved.  I need understanding.  I want to understand and be understood.  To see and be seen.  If there is a significant lack of essential understanding between myself and the other person, I find it difficult to become or remain sexually attracted to them…no matter how physically attractive, smart, charming, etc. a person may be.  If we don’t “get” each other, we probably won’t GET each other…what’s the point?

And when I forego a sexual encounter, it doesn’t mean I’m judging the person…I’m simply acknowledging a dissonance in our understandings.  It’s not that I’m any better than that person, but I’m wanting a certain type of connection.  One that strokes not only my “lady parts”, but perceives the vast fullness of my being.  Along those lines, I’ve had encounters where no sexual gratification was involved, but because of the perception experienced I felt compelled to unite all of myself (genitalia included) to that person.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had and enjoyed meaningless sex a number of times.  But these days, not so much.  I can stimulate myself – I’m very good at it, I know what I like, and there’s no performance anxiety.  And yes, there are times when my physical orifices are all but screaming out to be fed in every sense of the word.  But the idea that I would invite someone into my space that I don’t truly perceive and who has no idea of “who” or what I am pretty much keeps me from pursuing it.  [But as “enlightened” as I am, I’m still human…if he finds “that” spot before my coochie shield is securely in place, it’s a wrap.]

And dammit…I STILL went in directions I hadn’t planned on taking in this writing.  But apparently, it wanted out.  There you have it.  Stay tuned; there’s more still to come…


Clearing the Static

I recently was helping my nephew find his “quiet music” station on his radio, which we use for him to help quiet his mind to go to sleep.  We found the station, but for some reason this time it had a lot of static.  You know, like it was between stations are something.  We could hear what “would” have been nice, ambient jazz sounds…but it was clouded by some other frequency ambiguity.  This made me think about my life and the voices I’ve heard over the years (not “those” voices…never had the excitement of experiencing that).  Some voices matched what I felt to be right…many did not.  But my own voice was always clouded by the voices of every other person I chose to “tune in” to instead of my own.

Now I believe in the value of wise counsel and getting other perspectives.  But when those counselors are elevated to dictators, and those perspectives become directions that’s a problem.  Within the last year and a half or so, I have had the privilege of becoming re-acquainted with the sound of my own voice.  Not my physical voice, but the sound of my soul and spirit…my inner voice.  You may call it God, or the Holy Spirit, or whatever your spiritual language is…if you choose to have one.  But that inner part of me that speaks and I know the Truth of the matter, is what I’m referring to.

Some texts refer to this voice as still and small.  I believe the reason it is so still and so small is because there are so many other “competing” frequencies that tend to drown it out.  Whether it’s the news, a boss, a spouse, a pastor/priest/rabbi/etc, our children, our daily activities, friends…just LIFE.  For me, I’ve found that it’s paramount that my day start with some kind of quiet – even if it’s just for a few minutes.  Otherwise, the rest of the day is frenzied and I feel “off” and afloat…and not in a good way.  Taking just a few tender moments to listen to the Truth that resides on the inside means that I am better able to handle the day’s responsibilities and challenges as they come.  Am I always successful in doing this?  No, and there is a distinct difference when it does and doesn’t happen.

This quiet may be silence, or it may be listening intently and harmonizing with the songs of the birds outside my window.  Don’t look at me in that tone of voice…I know this may sound hokey or corny, but there’s something to it.  I’m not an expert on anything except my own experience, so I won’t “tell” you how to find and listen to the Truth within you.  All I can do is remind you that it IS there (in ALL of us), and encourage you to tune in so that your own life is as accurate and ambient as it can be…uninterrupted, clear, and certain.


The Power of Letting Go

“There comes a time in a every person’s life when…”  These words can spark any number of thoughts and conversations.  And I’ve been having these conversations a lot lately.  And I’m realizing that the older I get those “times” are happening more frequently.

There’s something about the wisdom that tends to come with age.  And I don’t think it has anything to do with getting older in and of itself.  I believe that it’s just that when we bump our head enough times, we start to realize…  “Well, damn!  Maybe I need to stay the hell away from that corner.”  And the more times we go around a slightly different corner, but run into the same or similar snags we start to realize how certain “corners” tend to be connected.  And we learn how to better navigate our desired path.

I’ve had some recent experiences that have led me to some realizations.  Realizations that might seem “late” to some, but yet another realization that I’ve had is that we are all on our own time.  What may seem late to me may be long before someone else got the same understanding for themselves.  And yet another realization that I’ve had is that comparing one journey to someone else’s is completely futile, usually counterproductive and retards our own growth.

One realization is that as cruel as it sounds, there are certain people who are absolutely unworthy of you.  Have you ever spent time with someone and when you left them, you felt like you actually lost life?  That’s a BIG clue!  If spending time with them leaves you feeling like you just wasted actual LIFE on them, you might want to reconsider that association.

I’m not talking about the occasional trying time that a loved one goes through that leaves you unsure of yourself or your effectiveness in the situation (because anyone who’s ever loved long and deep enough will go through that at least once…either as a single incident or a season).  I’m talking about the person who always is a drain, sap, or mooch of some sort.  In this situation, rarely are you the focus or is your emotional temperature even taken.  If what’s going on with you doesn’t directly affect or impact them in that moment, they couldn’t care less.  Every time they come around, they always tend to assume the beneficiary role while they themselves offer very little, if any, support.

These relationships tend to be among our longest lasting relationships…because they usually develop long before we grow into ourselves and come to realize the true toxicity of the nature of the relationship.  And we finally wake up to a relationship that is there because there is a burdensome sense of obligation to the length of its history.  And we don’t want to appear that we’ve forgotten “where we come from”, or don’t want them to feel “left behind”.  But uh…this ain’t public school, and somebody’s ass NEEDS to be left behind!  What the hell WERE they doing while you were going through whatever your history involves?  Really think about it.  Could you have made it through that season without them being there?  Was what they offered in that season really worth what TODAY looks and feels like?

Hear me.  I’m not talking about a quid pro quo type of relationship necessarily, because in any relationship there are seasons of giving and receiving.  But just as a fowl sheds its shell, a snake sheds its skin, a butterfly sheds its chrysalis, and a baby sheds its womb…so must we learn to shed that which keeps us from growing into the fullness of who we are meant to be.  And of course this is harder than it sounds, but ooooohhh is it worth it!

I’m still having some separation anxiety in some cases, because the relationships are familiar and there IS history.  But the more I realize that the relationships served who I WAS and not who I AM and am becoming, the more I’m able to release the guilt of letting go and allow things to develop (or fall away) as they should.  And for someone like me (loyal to a fault, and prone to hold on beyond reason), this is a big deal.

It’s making me intentional about the relationships that I do feed.  I want to water those relationships that I value in my current awareness.  I want them to know how much I appreciate them.  I reach out (even if only seasonally) just to let them know I’m glad they’re a part of my life and where I am, and honored that they allow me to be a part of theirs.  My life is enriched because they’re in it.  And it’s not a constant barrage of love notes (although I can tend to be randomly sappy), nor do I necessarily share time in regular intervals.  But when that time does come, I enjoy them for not only what they do for me and/or my spirit but simply for who they are and choose to be.

The “other” relationships?  Well, they tend to show themselves.  And there’s usually not much we have to do to let them go, besides release our own guilt about not “feeding the cat”…and it will go away on its own.  But let me be perfectly clear…  I am not suggesting “testing” relationships, becoming lazy, or ditching out in a season that is designed to teach us how to endure stormy weather and/or learn how to better relate in times of frustration or disappointment.  This is not intended to be the coward’s out.  But not so deep inside (because it’s not rocket science, and not that dramatic) you know which relationships need to be released.

And in some cases, maybe it’s not a person.  Perhaps it’s a habit, or way of coping that we’ve outgrown.  Maybe it’s a way of thinking or doing things.  Maybe it’s a tradition or belief system.  Could be anything that we feel obligated to because it’s been a part of who we are for as long as we can remember, but somehow we feel like a liar or poser any time we participate in it.  I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I know I’m not alone in this.

So in this season of resolutions and in the spirit of new beginnings, I’m being honest about my relationships…all of them.  I encourage you to do the same.  And in some cases, if we were to be honest with ourselves, maybe that means that people are preparing to let US go.  In those cases, we have to let them make the choice that’s right for them while still honoring their chosen path…even if that path doesn’t include us.  Again, much easier said than done, but true nonetheless.  This is not about ego, feeling “liked” or accepted, or hanging our emotional hat on who chooses to share time and life with us…it’s about being whole, being genuine, and being true.

I’ve heard it said that love sometimes means loving enough to let go.  Love yourself enough to let go…in every sense.


Celebrating Love

It’s actually one of the most talked about, written about, sung about, danced about, “whatever” ABOUT topics in the world… And here I go, adding more fuel to the “love” fire. :o) But hey…what do you expect? It’s a universal common denominator…it unites us all, in one way or another. We can all relate to it. And whether we give ourselves permission to admit or not, we all want it…and it wants us.

I’ve been blessed to hear some phenomenal teachings and presentations regarding the subject. And with the multi-dimensional nature of Love, I and any of us could write about this – in MANY aspects and from myriad perspectives – for eternity. But the excitement of Valentine’s Day has me pondering the romantic aspect for a moment…or three. :o)

Although I’ve gone through a number of life scenarios, challenges and situations, I’ve never really been in a “relationship”. *Gasp!* LOL Not “for real”, anyway. I’ve had a number of “crushes”, a few “trists”, and even felt like I was “in looooove” before…but I’ve never been in a committed relationship with anyone. I don’t know if it was fear of commitment, or fear of failure, or the awkwardness of letting someone into “me”, or what. It seemed as though the closer I let someone get to me, the more vulnerable I became, and the more afraid I became of ultimately “losing”.

One of the lines in a popular song says “…why does it seem like those who give in [to love], they only wind up losing a friend?” In my case, I was afraid of not only losing a friend to the awkwardness of transitioning into “new territory”, but I was also apprehensive about losing in the “love game”. I mean, what if we get over there and realize that we’re not compatible? What if my past is too much for him to accept, once it’s all on the table? What if we get on each others’ nerves and wind up not liking each other anymore? What if one of us is too opinionated or critical and the other person winds up feeling alienated and ultimately walks away? What if family members start “dippin'” in our business without request and we wind up feuding? Or what if being naked with the lights on is a bad move, the sex is bad and we don’t want each other anymore? (Hey, we’re adults…can we be “real”?) Granted, true love is none of these things, but they play a role in the relationship and add dimensions to the “big picture”. It’s almost like learning how to drive a car in the beginning, and trying to figure out how all the gears and features are supposed to work, without crashing and/or causing irreparable damage…to you or anyone else.

Because of these hang-ups (and, as the lighthearted song conclusion goes, “and maaaany moooooooore!!!” LOL), I found myself almost cursing the idea of loving anyone romantically…or letting anyone love me. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I had STUDIED “singleness” as a dysfunction all my life. [Maybe I’ll share what I mean by that later, in another venue.] And because of my observations in that arena, from the outside looking in, I said to myself “Nah…I’m good on that!”

But somewhere along the way…something changed. What I thought I “knew” about love wasn’t what I thought it was. My understanding got dismantled and knew seeds were planted. The harvest of old seeds that were planted started getting choked out by the more powerful seedlings that somehow got planted along the way. It’s like even in the midst of my poorly constructed wall of “NO!!!”, Love listened to the “real” desire of my heart and allowed my attention to gradually shift (’cause you you know get what you focus on, right?), thereby planting new seeds of what I really wanted after all.

NO, it’s not because a man came along and swept me off my feet and I’m swooning…give me SOME credit, please! LOL It’s just that negative energy is HEAVY…no matter how “justified” it may seem. And I guess I just got tired of carrying it around. And I learned some years ago that you can never have what you can’t celebrate. In other words, if you see a couple holding hands, or embracing, or smiling/laughing together, etc. and you find yourself sucking your teeth, rolling your eyes, or inwardly making some snide comment, there’s a good chance that you’re repelling those experiences from your own reality. Conversely, when you authentically celebrate those moments and learn to feel genuinely happy, you catalyze and subconsciously welcome the same experience(s) for yourself. [Because I had PERFECTED the former and practiced a hearty “Get a room!!” (LOL!) every time I saw it, and even justified my cynicism with judgments about the possible “story BEHIND the story” with the couple, it took a WHILE to even be open to moving from critical cynic to hopeless romantic. And honestly, I’m still learning and growing, but I’m more conscious about my “side and inner talk”.]

Love is a miracle. Love is a decision. And love, like success, is a journey…not a destination. There are many twists and turns. Some highways, side roads, and even dark alleys at times. We don’t always know who or what we’re going to run into along the way. But it’s definitely a worthwhile adventure. We’ve heard it said “it’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all”. The point is not to focus on the prospect of losing, but rather on the idea of taking the calculated risk of letting go and experiencing something sweeter than you’ve ever experienced before. And although taking such a risk holds no guarantees of long-term bliss and happiness, and you “could” experience (or cause) hurt in the process, at least you know what it tastes like. But just like that car, you can learn from the experience, pay more attention next time and be just fine getting back on the road.

So while I have no personal “invitations” or “announcements” to send out other than “I LET GO”, I’m grateful for Love’s miracle. Happy [belated] Valentine’s Day, all!


Woman Unplugged

As a single woman who is beyond “youthful exploration” when it comes to dating and relationships, I find my pool of options looking more and more like that tiny tank at the bottom of the circus dive.  The skill and mastery required in order to “make it in” and not seriously mangle myself in the process is definitely in the “not a game” category.  What follows is a peek into the journey my mind goes on when considering a potential suitor.  Pack a lunch…it’s a nice li’l tour.

I “get” the whole self-esteem thing.  My value of myself should not be wrapped up in how a man sees me…and it’s not.  But the issue *I* have is being in love with “me” (a relationship that has taken a LIFETIME to build…but that’s the subject of an entirely different conversation), and I don’t feel like you recognize the gift that stands before you.  And NO, it’s not me being “stuck-up”, “siddity”, “bitchy”, or a snob.  It’s simply that I now recognize my inherent value and I’m now at peace with my Divine design, and love the “me” I see looking back at me…faults and all.  So, NO, I don’t “need” you to make me feel beautiful, intelligent, fabulous, sexy, or incredible…my relationship with myself already establishes this.  I’d just like to know that you recognize the masterpiece that is being presented to you.  Conversely, my inclination is to do the same.

I know the temptation is for both of us to not want to “feed ego” when we give one another props.  But the truth of the matter is we both deserve to be celebrated and honored for the absolutely phenomenal people that we are – individually, and as the power couple that we can be.  I have no problem AT ALL scooping a healthy helping of the love I have from inside me and smearing it all over you, allowing you to glide through your days with that extra “edge” of a woman willing to share and combine “very best”s with you.

Now let’s imagine this scenario…

When I tell you that I think you’re amazing and I recognize you for the gift that you are, I know it’s not because you don’t already know this (because you also have invested time and energy into developing into the man who obviously caught my eye and heart).  It’s because I want to take the time to honor an honorable man.  I choose to celebrate you because I treasure you and God IN you, and I appreciate the value you add to the quality of my life and being.  I love the reflection I see of myself when I’m with you and it is my distinct honor and pleasure to speak life into you and infuse you with value in the same spirit in which you infuse me.  I don’t take you for granted, and every day I count you as not one but myriad blessings in my life because I can’t single out the one thing that you bring/give/add to me…my entire life is transformed because I am now a part of you, and we are an empire and a world unto ourselves.

When you use your incredibly beautiful mouth to tell me how beautiful I am, you strengthen the bond I have with myself.  And since you are a man of wisdom, you understand that I can only love you as much as I love myself, and when you choose to speak life into me and strengthen and confirm my love for myself, you in turn strengthen our love and sow seed into your own future.  Your building me up does not jeopardize your place in my world…it solidifies it.  Your kind words, your tender touch, your passionate expression, your deliberate actions, and your genuine presence are the concrete that the foundation of our life together is built upon.  The pillars, the beams, the shingles, the fixtures, and the decorations of accolades, careers, adventures, our children, and life decisions are incidental in comparison.  The high winds of challenges, conflict, and outright confrontation can come at us at 1,000 miles an hour, but with a foundation as purposely strong as ours, it will pass just as quickly as it came…and like the phoenix, we rise from the rubble.

I choose to love you and let you love me.  I enjoy being the first to celebrate and applaud you…because you sowed those same seeds into me long ago, and continue to water them often.  My face is the first to light up when I hear of the kindhearted things you do for others…because what they receive is simply an overflow of who and what you are at home all the time.  It is my joyful pleasure to take my time fulfilling your needs, because I never have to worry if my needs will be taken care of; you anticipate me and eagerly tend to needs I didn’t even know I had…and with every seed you sow into my garden, I enjoy making sure your harvest is bountiful.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when we want to strangle each other.  But for every one of those times, there are a thousand more of beautifully violent back scratching and hair pulling.  And no, it’s not all physical…that’s merely an inevitable byproduct of the mental, spiritual, and emotional connection that we’ve worked diligently at maintaining.  We communicate often – sometimes with words, but mostly in attitude and actions.  Either way, there is a symphony of congruence between what we say and what we do.  And simply put…I love you loving me.  Not because I “need” you to love me and make me feel good.  But because your love reflects the truth that I’ve finally grown into…and I am free to “be” more of my true self as your love bathes me, washes the undesirable off, and keeps me “pure”.  Not in a manipulative or obsessive/possessive kind of way…but rather in a way that causes us to be almost ridiculously trusting of one another.  We sow so much into each other – out of the comfort and security of our love for ourselves – that we are perfectly clear on where our harvest is.  Our soil is tilled, the haters offer so much fertilizing bullshit, and the quality of the seed we sow into each other is so high that it doesn’t make sense to cultivate or farm elsewhere.  And if one of us ever happens to feel “lost” in the shuffle, our consistency provides a compass back HOME…where peace, love, and trust abides.

What the Divine joins together, let no one separate.  

So if you’re ready for THIS…I’m all in.  If not, I’m respectfully declining the offer and staying on the train.