Category Archives: Personal Growth

Truth Hurts: Trayvon Martin Commentary

Trayvon Martin Hoodie

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a very sensitive and passionate person.  But even without that knowledge, it should not be a surprise that my heart is deeply grieving for the outcome of the Zimmerman case.

Unlike many in our country, I wasn’t glued to my t.v. screen nor was I following various feeds online as the case was unfolding.  I don’t watch or follow the news like that…that kind of energy is just too much for me to ingest on a regular basis.  But knowing what I DO know about the situation, I am hurt beyond adequate words about what the Zimmerman verdict implies about the [lack of] sanctity of African-American life in our country.  But, sadly, I’m not shocked.

There has been much talk these days about race and just how “real” racism and/or racial disparity is and continues to persist.  And many of our Caucasian counterparts are challenged by the sudden “in-your-face-ness” of our frustration, disappointment, and even anger in response to the outcome.  And while I’m only going to say this for context (and probably piss off some in the process), I believe that the African-American community now understands the disgust that rose up when the O.J. Simpson verdict came down.  Different situation, but similar context…racial tensions at their height, very emotionally charged cases, and seemingly clear-cut would-be outcomes.  But both were turned on their ears, in shocking upsets.

And while the Zimmerman trial wasn’t as dynamic a circus as the Simpson trial, it is important to note that both outcomes were made possible by the way our justice system is set up…each defendant has a right to a trial by a jury OF HIS/HER PEERS – NOT the peers of the victim(s).  Because in both cases, had the jury consisted of the peers of the deceased, both cases would have produced quite different outcomes.

It’s also important to note that in both cases, it was disgusting and absolutely ridiculous the lengths that the defense went to in order to try to smear the name and character of the deceased in order to “fight” for their client.  And while I’d like to tread very lightly here, I’m going to throw in the possibility that the guilt of the defense attorney of the 1st case led to his ultimate undoing.  I can only imagine how the same (guilt) might carry out for the defense in the 2nd case eventually.  I don’t wish it, but karma is a mother bitch…especially when you KNOW better.  A paycheck or “job” to do doesn’t negate the power of the seed being sown.

Nevertheless, my heart goes out to the family and loved ones of Trayvon Martin, and I can only imagine how disheartened they must feel.  First, they lost their son to a senseless slaying, and THEN to pour salt into that wound OUR justice system pretty much called it a truce…AFTER dragging Trayvon’s name and character through the mud.  It really is shameful.

It’s shameful that our justice system is SO marred that this type of major public travesty can happen at least TWICE without there being SOME kind of revision to such racially tense cases.  I’m not a politician, and have no desire to be one.  Nor am I an attorney or legislator, and what I’m about to suggest may be as “kindergarten” as it comes…  But the issue of race ABSOLUTELY needs to be WRITTEN INTO the way these cases are handled.  It’s not as simple as trying one man for the murder of another…because the man who was killed, in cases such as this, wasn’t even viewed as a man – he was essentially hunted prey.  And I’m not just talking in the case where the deceased is a black man…it works the other way as well.  Once the elements of the case are introduced and the subject of race is broached, everything relating to the case needs to be dealt with through that context as it is now highly probable as a motive.  Again, maybe I’m looking at it too simply.  But all the “technicalities” have allowed MANY a guilty party to walk, and MANY MORE innocent ones to pay for the crimes of those walking free.

Personally, I’m just exhausted of it all.  I really do understand Rodney King’s infamous “can’t we all just get along?” question.  And unfortunately, there is a simple answer immediately available: NO.  As long as different cultures exist, and there are those who come from and are taught (aka “programmed”) by descendants of ignorance, this kind of madness will continue.  We’ll never all “just get along”.  That’s not being pessimistic…that’s acknowledging fact.

Do you think George Zimmerman would have given Trayvon Martin so much as a second glance had he been regularly exposed to NEUTRAL and UNBIASED experiences with African-Americans growing up?  Do you think it would have entered his mind to shoot and kill that young man had he been taught to have a healthy respect for the urban culture that dressed Trayvon…even if it wasn’t his own personal preference?  Lemme TRULY take it back to kindergarten and ask this…  Do you think he would have been following Trayvon had he learned the simple courtesy of personal space???  (Following a stranger…no, PURSUING a stranger…is a DEFINITE violation of personal space.)  He certainly wouldn’t have gotten to the point of murdering that young man had he learned about the sanctity of life and valuing others who don’t look, act, or live like him.  There’s much more to say here, but you get my point, I hope.

It used to be that African-Americans moved from certain undesirable conditions to try to escape the typical dramas of living in such conditions – namely violent acts.  But this case demonstrates that moving to a “better” community can be just as (if not MORE) dangerous as (than) staying put because if our sons don’t look like they “belong” there and we don’t dress ’em up to “look the part” it’s pretty much okay to gun them down because some ignorant ass is playing neighborhood watch vigilante.  Shame on Trayvon’s parents for not teaching him the “dangers” of BEING a young black man.  Are you SERIOUS???

But as disgusting and frustrating as this all is, we shouldn’t let it end in disgust and frustration…because it only breeds more of the same.  And no, we’re not going to change the world, our county, or even our home overnight.  But we can start.  We can start with truly sitting with whatever we’re feeling surrounding the way things existing as they do right now.  Feeling all of what we feel…then allowing it to pass, so we can move into productive expression and forward movement.  BE pissed off.  BE hurt.  BE angry.  BUT don’t stay there.  Those things are toxic if we let them stay long enough…and they poison our OWN system.  The saying “[harboring negative emotions] is like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die” is always good to internalize and is a great reminder.

So how do we move forward?  I think it’s important to call a spade a spade, and work within the framework of whatever exists AS it exists today…WHILE working toward what truly IS possible.  And ALL things are possible.  It is TOTALLY possible for us all to live in harmony and peace with one another, in a perfect world.  But, as we all know, our world is not perfect…nor will it ever be.  Again, not being pessimistic…just stating fact.  But, just as our President mentioned in his response to the Zimmerman trial, we can absolutely work toward a “MORE” perfect world…and it starts right here within our own borders.

Working toward a more perfect world means teaching respect, encouraging dialogue, providing a safe space to get understanding, and not taking ourselves so damned seriously.  NONE of us have ALL of the answers.  And we all NEED each other.  Not to sound like an after-school special or corny “world” song, but it’s true.  And we can’t teach it to the world – not even within our borders – if we don’t first teach it at home.

Dr. King’s dream may be in a choke hold right now…but it still lives.  I would even go so far as to say it’s no longer his dream – it should be ours.  We’re still here.  We have been given the divine gift of life, just as those who transitioned before us and who once actively walked and breathed and had the power to “do” in this realm.  We can still make change happen.  We can still impact the generations with whom we’ve been entrusted.  I’ll take it a step further, and say that we shouldn’t give up on ourselves and our own generations (whatever age we are) because life itself is evidence that change is possible…we can always choose a new direction, even if our old habit has been undesirable.  When we know better, we can do better.

When we lose a loved one, we often hear “don’t let their death have been in vain”.  And while that’s a noble idea, unless their death directly and immediately causes a possible change event, those quite honestly are just words said to try to draw a silver lining around a painful situation.  The more accurate encouragement is that we not let our own LIVES be in vain.

I have one friend who was so moved that she started a community page on Facebook that JUST honors and celebrates sons. (http://www.facebook.com/pages/I-Have-a-Son) Others will begin awareness and/or empowerment campaigns within their own communities, or choose to get involved in mentoring programs that already exist.

What will YOU do to begin to be and create the change you want to see in the world…?  Because unless this IS your perfect world, “nothing” is not a viable option.

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Pain Therapy

tears10I used to feel like it was my “duty” to make a loved one feel better when they were going through tough times.  Like it was my personal responsibility to squeeze a smile out of them, or let them know that it was all “going to be okay”.  What I’ve come to realize is that while it is absolutely natural to want to ease the pain of a loved one who may be suffering in some way, sometimes the most important value comes in just (as corny as it sounds) being there.

The gray area is in our independent interpretations of what “being there” actually means.  For many of us (and I was included in this number), it means trying to go to battle for our loved one.  If we deem that they are having a temporary setback, and it has weakened their ability to maintain the person WE know them to be, we want to do whatever we can to try to make THAT person “come back”.  And on a very surface level, it’s sweet.  You know, to want to help a person keep from bottoming out and feeling and experiencing what actually usually are very real emotions, thoughts, and realizations about a situation with which they’re faced.

But if we REALLY think about it, it’s kinda selfish.  Of course, that’s not usually our intention though.  But it’s really wanting to numb or relieve their pain so WE can feel better, knowing that they’re okay…or at least pretending to be.  Why?  Because when a loved one is hurting, so are we.  When they’re in pain, it hurts us.  When they’re otherwise wounded, it pierces our hearts and makes us uncomfortable.  It reminds us of how little control we have and how much our peace of mind is tied to what’s going on with other people – especially those with whom we share strong connections.

We listen…to a point.  Then starts the “encouragement” talk.  We hear the pain…for a minute.  Then we try to find a way to turn around the conversation and make it lighter and to distract them from the hurt, the disappointment, disillusionment, or whatever is the ailment of the moment.  It is one of the greatest challenges of our humanity to share carrying another’s burden of pain.  It tests our own fortitude because it’s not even OUR issue!  But because we’ve chosen to exchange intimate energy with them, we get to experience what they go through…if they trust us enough to let us in during such a time.

Of course not all of our efforts to provide relief to our vulnerable counterparts stem from selfish motives, but the purpose of this post is to spark reflection the next time a loved one trusts you with such a tender moment of opportunity.  Because the opportunity in that moment may not be to tell them everything’s going to be okay.  Sometimes that only exacerbates matters and deepens a sense of alone-ness and misunderstanding.

The real opportunity in that moment is to be a listening ear, a loving bosom, and/or a gentle and non-judging caregiver.  Not every observation of a “crack in the armor”, if you will, is a cry for help or for us to fly in and try to save the day.  Oftentimes, we save the day just by being there to honor them in their moment of truth.  Now, don’t get me wrong, some folks need a swift kick in the ass and some tough love, or to be dragged out of a drunken stupor of self-pity.  And is there value in hearing comforting words of wisdom or concern in moments of crisis?  Aaaaabsolutely!  But many more times, we’re unable to distinguish or make an accurate assessment because we’re blinded by our own discomfort and the need for things to be “normal” so WE can be okay.

So the next time you find yourself being privy to someone’s nakedness, in whatever way it happens, challenge yourself to “do” absolutely nothing except let them feel that you have brought all of yourself (or at least as much as you can honestly offer) to the moment and that you’re willing to ride it out with them.  And truthfully, that speaks more volumes than any encouraging words you could have mustered up anyway.


“Mine…”

A friend of mine once advised me against giving all of myself away, and shared with me that some things should be “just for me”.  I was familiar with the concept…even wrote about it years before…but when I heard it at that precise moment, it “clicked” in a different way.

We’ve all, at some point, either witnessed or gone through the “Mine!” phase that all children go through.  That experience of joyfully playing with a toy, or sitting in a loved one’s lap, and another “competitor” (who usually doesn’t even realize they’re such) comes up and wants to share that experience…  All of a sudden something (or someone) that was taken for granted and the implied eternal loyalty of our now extra-beloved friend or object is “at stake” of being compromised, and there is a sudden surge of possessiveness that rises up and those infamous furrowed eyebrows and the barked “Mine!” appear out of nowhere.

What happens when that beloved object is one’s sense of self?

With the advent of reality television, I’ve noticed an increased use of video diaries and even recently watched a documentary that was formatted in this way for about half of the time.  These video diaries contained many of the most intimate parts of the documentary footage, because it wasn’t just observing the person’s life and interpreting a set of events…the video diary portion was the person’s actual thoughts, emotions, revelations, fears, and so on – a journey into the very “self” of the person.  From these diaries it was fairly easy to connect to how that person actually was outside of the persona that was projected in [or inferred by the] public.

Of course, they chose to make these diaries public, but I find a lot of value in just the act of creating them to begin with.  Video or audio diaries have a different depth than the traditional written diary, and here’s why: we can audibly verbalize much quicker than we can write.  And for a person whose mind is full of ideas, heart is full of emotions, and who receives understanding and makes certain connections as the thoughts come sometimes those moments can be lost in trying to put ink to paper.  Seems weird and might not make sense, but the temptation is to “edit” what’s written, whereas a video or audio diary just “is what it is” typically.  Conversely, a written diary seems to encourage a decision about which thoughts to actually pen, so reviewing it tends to read with the fascination of a novel.

Nevertheless, keeping a diary of ANY form has value because most of us have far too many thoughts and ideas to stay “squoze” (yes, squoze…keep it movin’) up inside.  And taking just a brief moment to get them out in SOME kind of way is much healthier than keeping them bottled up and trying to “sort through” them…that’d be kinda like dressing a baby before it’s born – good luck with that.

Another benefit of keeping a diary is having a “friend” to talk to, without bitching about the same shit and eventually realizing they’re not really paying you much attention anyway…you have become white noise.  With a diary, there’s no misinterpretation of intent or meaning and therefore no temptation to offer advice where there was none requested, and no hurt feelings when that advice is ignored or when the action taken seems to be completely opposite what was “advised”.  With a diary, you can be as silly, zany, discombobulated, confused, concerned, opinionated, angry, frustrated, inventive, deep, upset, emotional, revealing, perverted, experimental, curious, steadfast, strong…(you get the point)…as you wanna be, and no one is judging you except you.

Of course, thinking about it, hopefully we all have at least one person who comes to mind as our living/breathing diary…and we cherish that person to no end.  Maybe that person is even our chosen life partner.  But for illustration purposes, that person is excluded right now, because even with that person, as implied in the beginning of this entry, some things should be “just yours”.  And this is not to discount the value of that relationship…it’s actually to preserve it.  We know how WE need a break from our thoughts at times, so if another person is receiving them all the time how do they have time or space for their own?

So getting back to the concept of “mine”…  I’m the first of many siblings (I have 6 of them, to be exact), so I had to share all the time.  It wasn’t an option to keep anything for just myself.  I had a brief period in my teenage years where I was alone, but as a very involved teenager I still didn’t learn how to tend to “just me”, or that I SHOULD actually learn how to “be”, independent of outside feedback.  It was just habit to seek counsel and advice from everyone and everywhere except my own core.  Is there value in having another perspective besides our own?  That goes without saying.  But if external feedback is the primary sustenance for our personal growth, therein lies a serious problem.

Allow me, for just a brief moment to make an important and controversial observation.  Raised as a Christian, I was taught by well-intended Bible believers that we should “trust in the Lord with all [our] heart, and lean NOT to [our] own understanding.”  So how or why would I ever learn to trust myself to make good decisions without first seeking my warped concept of God?  What I thought or felt didn’t matter, unless it aligned with what my concept of God said was the right thing.  And how did I access that concept?  By comparing notes with other “believers” to ensure a right interpretation of what I thought I should do.  In retrospect, to call this dysfunctional and crippling would be an understatement.

I held onto this way of existence for a very long time, relatively speaking.  [I’m only 38, so it hasn’t been “that” long.]  And it wasn’t until fairly recently that my understanding of “God” evolved into fully accepting that I actually AM God.  How did I come to this heretical stance?  It is impossible to take anything from infinity.  And if God is all there is and my being here is just another expression of the infinity of that very God-energy, then I am still that same energy…just manifesting in another form.  Therefore, being cloaked in this human shell that I wear, my experiences and upbringing merely taught my human form how to be and perform in this world.  This means that “seeking God”, “praying”, and other terms for connecting to our understanding of what or who God is means actually pausing our humanity and stilling our minds to allow ourselves to more clearly express the divinity that we are…where we “know the Truth, and the Truth makes us free”.  Only when we marry ourselves to the idea that what we need is outside of ourselves or somehow away from us or NOT us, do we find ourselves fumbling, stumbling, and otherwise just plain ol’ fuckin’ up. (My humanity came back.)

And this is where a diary is helpful.  Because no matter how many times I forget who or what I am, I can go back and process my own madness to once again arrive at a place of not only functioning but maximizing my life experience with a renewed sense of self.  I can walk away from those pages, that recorder, or that camera and know that I was able to work my way through some of the clutter without burdening another soul…and what’s left is all “MINE”.


“Give Me Free”

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There’s something magical about releasing oneself from the predictable, “safe”, and usual into the ambiguity, excitement, and risk of freedom.  I only know this because I’m exposing myself to this freedom more and more every day.  For us who have rarely, if ever, launched out into freedom’s waters it’s like riding a rollercoaster…we “oooo” and “aaaaahh” and wonder what it will feel like to take the riveting twists and turns because it looks so exciting from the “safe place”.  We might even convince ourselves to wait in the line and step onto the ride.  Get excited about the slow and steady ascent into “God only knows”…ooooonly to find ourselves wondering what the HEYULL we were thinking, once our neck snaps back at the first unanticipated turn of events on this new adventure.  Others, who are accustomed to and prepared for the sneaky twists, laugh at us and shake their heads because they’ve learned that freedom really means piloting their own course, while understanding that there will still be turbulence but they are fully confident that they will also reach their intended destination safely.

Nevertheless, ask any right-minded prisoner which they would choose, and s/he will tell you that freedom is the obvious choice all day long.  Yeah, “knowing” that 3 meals a day will be served, living indoors and being protected from the elements, with a regimented schedule has its own comforts because no thought or planning is required and the end of each day is pretty much known.  But the freedom to create a new outcome every single day, with myriad possibilities of life and living is a luxury worth the premium price of a little anxiety and a few “unknowns” which are bound to come.

So how does one create this freedom (because we CAN “create” freedom, from wherever we are)?  I guess it’s different for each person, but for me the first step is to release myself from the box of people’s perceptions of who I am and/or should be…even my own.  And, don’t get me wrong, this is much easier said than done…or so it feels.  It’s easy to flippantly say “I don’t give a f*ck about what people think”…but quite another to actually face a person or situation in this new space who “knew me when” that wasn’t the case.

Owning my freedom is about more than having a new mantra or slogan, but about actually owning ME.  This includes all that I am, as well as all that I am not…for better or for worse.  It is literally entering into covenant with myself to love, honor, and trust…MYSELF.  And not turning my back on myself and what is true for me and wherever I am on my journey, because someone that I esteem(ed) in a certain way viewed me in a different light and so I attempt to keep up that image rather than bear the nakedness of my truth.

Because my life started in such a tumultuous manner, and I experienced so many tragedies I learned to actually seek out hope.  I can find possibility and “dawn” in even the darkest of dark nights.  I became adept at this because it just didn’t make sense to be consumed by the darkness…although I almost gave in a couple of times.  But picking up this trait in this manner also came with the handicap of not being able to (or probably just not wanting to) face reality for what it is.  It comes at the cost of having the tendency to sweep major and glaring issues under the bed and just put a nice quilt over it, and hope that nothing that was swept under there was still living (and growing and festering, just waiting to slither its way back out).  This meant living in fear or being “found out” or uncovered, unraveled, and undone.

But there is freedom in truth…no matter how “ugly” it may be.  There is liberty in being honest about my fears and insecurities.  Understanding is no longer held hostage once the facade is released and the true reality is revealed for what it is.  Is it convenient?  Never.  Does it sometimes stink?  Depends on how long it’s been smoldering.  When things have been kept wrapped up for decades, they tend to be pretty fucked up when they’re uncovered…but that’s the only way healing can come.  Keeping things covered up only lends itself to infection and death, because no treatment can reach it.  The fresh air of new perspective can only come and hit it once the bandages of despondency and shame are ripped off.  Yes, it hurts but it’s only temporary.  And I’m DAILY talking myself out of covering it back up and slipping back into a cozy emotional coma.  Because although it doesn’t “have” to take forever, I’m learning that healing from trauma is a maintenance program rather than one-time purchase and one that requires patience and damn near supernatural grace.

I’m also finding that this ownership comes in waves, stages, rounds, and levels.  I kinda liken it to receiving an inheritance.  It would be easy to “blow it”, by not knowing what to do with it coming all at once…especially without already being accustomed to the freedom.  But mine seems to be on a time-released schedule.  As I’m digesting and processing more of who I am, more understanding comes and I’m better able to make decisions regarding who and how I choose to be.  I believe that the core of me is untouchable, and my raw and essential self flavors and colors all that I’m creating.  I’ve sensed this from a very young age.  But my palate hasn’t quite matured  or acquainted itself enough to handle all of my own true divinity.  But I’m getting there…


Hard Decisions

These are the ones we usually put off the longest and deliberate the most.  We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or piss anyone off.  We don’t want to rock the boat or cause angst or friction.  In the short run, it seems much simpler to just allow things to continue as they have been and hope that whatever is causing US the inner angst or friction will just somehow miraculously subside or blow over.  But the familiar question then is… “How’s that working for you?”

 
Many times, we’re put in uncomfortable positions which merit some type of deliberate or thoughtful action because such action is needed to keep from perpetually finding ourselves from being put in those positions. Yeah, I know that sounded like one big circle but that’s because that’s exactly what it is.    The cycle continues to make its turns around irritation, frustration, discontent, anger–all of which are “bad” emotions and we’re told to “walk it off” and let ourselves cool down before saying or doing anything that we’ll later regret…only to later TRULY realize that the we’ve already done the thing that  we regret most: nothing.  We’ve put our heads in the sand once again, to let ourselves “cool off”…and when we finally figure out how to articulate in a less passionate manner, it feels inappropriate to bring up such an old matter that doesn’t even seem relevant anymore.  Until it happens again…and it ALWAYS does.  Only this time, it may be in a different scenario with different parties involved so we’re starting all over again.
 
For the most part, our western society has been programmed to believe that being polite and gentle is better than authentically expressing disapproval or disagreement.  It paints those who dare to speak to or about an injustice or wrongdoing as troublemakers and confrontational or even combative and inappropriate.  This applies to relationships across the board–on the job, in our communities, and at home.  And then we wonder why there are so many misunderstandings or continued infractions against one another.  When it all points to one of two “most likely” culprits: 1) the inability or refusal to shut up and really listen without assumption, or 2) not actually voicing or expressing a concern in the first place.
 
Now I’m not suggesting that everybody just “go off” and say anything and everything that comes to mind.  But I am suggesting that it’s important that we are honest in our own assessments of situations and learn to go to the appropriate person and call a spade a spade.  [Keep in mind the word “assessment” and that it’s not the same as “assumption”.  AND the element of going to the appropriate person. (Bitching about something to someone who has NOTHING to do with your concern is just that…bitching.  Nothing gets resolved, and it’s easy to cower there under the illusion of having “gotten it out”.)]  But when we can reasonably draw a conclusion, that’s the best time to act on what we know.  Because the longer we deliberate after that conclusion has been drawn, the more OUR motives and intentions are subject to being questioned.
 
Is it easy to do this?  Depends on how much practice we’ve had.  If you’re a person who rarely holds your tongue, people have probably grown immune to your yapping and don’t really hear you.  If you’re a person who takes a mousy approach, YOU don’t even appear to believe you so why would anyone else listen?  Balance–no, ACCURACY is key.  Yapping about what “might” have happened, or “should” have happened, or “needs to” happen with no evidence of imminent harm is just as ineffective as taking the “it’s okay, but maybe…” approach.  Can you imagine if “those unruly slaves” such as Harriet Tubman had just done what they were told and kept their head down and kept quiet?  It was said that she packed heat and threatened other slaves who wanted to change their minds and turn around and go back.  Kinda reminds me of the airplane scene in Jerry Maguire when Cuba Gooding, Jr’s character declared to the movie’s name sake that even if he had to “ride [his] ass like Zoro”, he was gonna “show [him] the money”.  In other words, there was no turning back.
 
Oftentimes these moments of truth present themselves to us, giving us an opportunity to step up or get beat back into the submission of a status quo which has persisted for far too long.  And no it doesn’t have to have gone on for years or generations…  How long do we have to have an infection before we go to the doctor to get it treated?  As soon as we’re aware of the symptoms, right?  Similarly, when we can identify the cause of unrest or frustration, THEN is the time to address it.  The symptoms show up to help us identify that a larger or more pressing matter exists, much like the siren on an emergency vehicle sounds to let us know that it’s approaching and we need to respond appropriately.
 
And as liberating as this may sound, it’s important to recognize that liberty comes at a cost.  Remember, as a society that generally rebukes complaining, not everyone will support such expression.  In fact, many will be offended or become personally defensive…especially if the matter involves them.  But I maintain that the more accurate the confrontation, the more readily it will be received.  [Also note that “confrontation” does NOT have to be combative, accusatory, or offensive.  Accuracy and truth in delivery is most vital, rather than dramatic inflation of facts, or language which doesn’t leave room for the other person to actually dialogue.]  When going for effectiveness, the ego (which pretty much insists that the other person know just HOW wrong they are/were) needs to be checked…but not your backbone.  It is entirely possible for a hard message to be delivered without belittling or berating the person being confronted; however, depending on how hard that truth is, they may still be offended…and that is not your issue.  When such a message is delivered from a pure place of genuineness and authenticity, there is no need to “feel bad” about how they choose to receive the message.  
 
Nevertheless, the opportunities will be presented to make a decision.  And there are no guaranteed outcomes, but the one thing that is guaranteed is that we will face that challenge again if we don’t adequately manage it the first time.  Are you ready to step up, or will you risk being shot in the back as you run from it…?

The Miracle of Love

I feel like I need to preface this post with a warning:  I am highly wired and have lots of rogue and non-funneled thoughts competing for expression right now.  So I’ll write as coherently as I can right now, but I make no guarantees of fluidity OR that where this post ends up will have ANYTHING to do with where it starts.  Just go with me as far as you can, and if I lose you just meet me back at Walmart (you know they have everything there) and we can compare notes.

February is one of the most inspirational months for me…and confusing.  Single or “boo’d up” you don’t know whether to create expectations and be hopeful, or to err on the side of caution and pretend not to care whether you are or become the center of a private affection festival.  [Personally, I prefer to treat every day as something special, because this way, whatever happens or doesn’t happen on the national day to recognize loved ones is neither here nor there and only complements what’s already a normal and natural occurrence. BUT I digress…]  All the external presentations are okay, but what is most inspiring about this month is similar to what is contagiously inspiring in December.  It’s a reiteration of the idea that anything is possible.  The possibility that at least one significant dream “just might” come true…or that I’ll at least be able to get a whiff or glimpse of it, even if it’s in the distance.  I can hold onto the notion that “something” magical is in the air and that good things will come.  And no matter what, I hold onto this notion in Love.

Although, there is one subnotion (Oh yeah…I make up words.  Don’t judge me; think of it as a riddle that you get to figure out) that has recently caused me angst…and it is that of marriage and choosing (and being chosen as) a lifelong partner.  Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am in love with Love and all the incredible things that I believe it fortifies one to be able to do.  Aside from the frustration, disappointment, anxiety, and occasional discomfort of loving another fallible human being, I honestly believe that those who wisely choose partners who match and/or expand their own realizations of life and the Universe have an advantage in life that cannot be bought or taught.  Something about having another kindred soul to connect and partner with gives us a certain protective shield and/or a cozy place to land when trials come.  There is an invincibility that we acquire when we know beyond all shadow of doubt that our kindred partner is covering us with their encouragement, support, laughter, compassion, accountability, understanding, and forgiveness.  It is a superpower, and available in abundance, but with relationship statistics being what they are it would appear that only a relatively few people “get it right”…which leads me to my angst.

As much as I TRULY believe in the core of my being that lasting and genuine Love is possible, I wonder and fantasize about the choosing part.  I don’t know that I subscribe to the idea of “the one”, because I believe that we are all the same energy…but depending on our experiences, environmental programming, what has taken hold and affixed itself to our Truth that may be obscuring the view or understanding of that Truth, we are experiencing ourselves as we TRULY are in varying degrees of accuracy.  As such, we tend to find ourselves attracted to partners who match our own understanding and perception of who we are as energy.  Whether that energy expresses itself the same way that we have chosen is something completely different; and actually many times we are more fascinated by expressions that are different than we are because it adds variety and intrigue to our experience.  [I promise I’m not smokin’ herb…stay with me.]  Nevertheless, amid a world so full of illusion, there is something mysterious and magical about the process of choosing a mate.  It seems to be as miraculous as creating human life.

Think about it.  In order for a baby to be born, there are a number of small miracles (an oxymoron indeed) that have to take place; from the millions of sperm that have to fight to the literal death in order for “the one” to plow its way through the ovum’s membrane just to BEGIN to work on multiplying itself, remembering to grow all body parts, while keeping other traits embedded that will develop at the proper time.  This includes traits that will allow the baby to endure its violent and traumatic delivery (no matter how serene the environment, there is still blood shed) and squeeze through that narrow ass gateway into this period of eternity, to do what exactly…?  Trust that who s/he is being born to will be as trusting and humble as they are in learning how to create the best environment to sustain and optimize the unique presentation of energy that they are.  Thus the term “miracle of life”.  And I maintain that the same holds true for choosing a life partner.

Removing the element of eras (and the couple billion years that life has existed on earth), just consider the billions of people that currently live on the earth. Then dwiddle that down to the various continents, countries, cities, counties, neighborhoods, ethnicities, social and demographic cliques/groups, religious faiths, and personal preferences that exist within ALL of those.  Factor in jobs, social gatherings, volunteer opportunities, grocery store visits, and other opportunities for people to interact.  Then figure in schedules, finding/making the time to get to know another person, emotional intelligence to recognize a potential connection, introduce families and friends, fend off mal-intended observers and other relationship viruses, while building a fort strong enough to make it through tough times, misunderstandings, and hormonal changes…PHEW!  There’s far more behind the scenes than just catching eyes across a crowded room…how did you both end up in that room at THAT precise time and present yourselves in such a way that would signal to the other that you finally found each other in the first place?  A series of intricate miracles.

I like to think that I have a relatively vivid imagination, but I don’t know if I can accurately imagine what that moment of choosing will be like.  As a woman, I have my own whimsical ideas of romance and what it might be like to be swept off my feet by someone who just “gets” me.  I’ve evolved through the stage of believing he’s supposed to be able to read my mind…buuuuttt I do anticipate that in all of those “miracles” of connecting that he would have learned those things that make me light up and have the most significance.  Conversely, I imagine that I’ll learn how to anticipate him and be confident in my own understanding of who we are and be able to pour back into our union what is needed and desired to maintain a healthy flow of who and what we are.

But specifically, I’m referring to making the conscious decision to focus on maintaining a garden of Love that nurtures and affirms our unique partnership.  Because, while there could have been (or even still be) the possibility of meeting other attractive aspects of ourselves in someone besides each other, that we would purposely close the door on any alternate reality (thereby no longer accepting it as an alternative) and intentionally choose to create a home and life with each other alone just baffles, bewilders, and overwhelms me in the best possible way.  But honestly, I think a part of me would panic.  The perfectionist myth that is a part of me would wonder if I’m “really” making the right decision.  And what if either one of us is missing some key information or understanding about the other?  What if as we continue to evolve we wind up at different places?  What if we are attracted to the “idea” of one another as we envision the other’s “potential” self to be, rather than the reality of who we really are AS we are…and that potential never materializes as we thought?

Call me a fool, but I think I’d rather take the risk.  Because I’m imagining under what circumstances I would actually consider taking such a conversation seriously and under just those circumstances alone, I would “know”.  At that point, it would be much less a mental processing and analysis and more a stripping down to the bare bones and skinny dipping in the natural flow of things…nothing to taint or color the decision.  Nothing to slow me down from saying “Yes!” emphatically and from a place of raw Truth and knowing.  And being prepared to live in such a way that confirms what I knew to be true in the first place…honoring myself in my partner, proud to know that where I am is exactly what I intended to create with him, and continuing to avail myself to the infinite possibilities that exist within our Universe together.

Pretty cool fantasy, huh?  I’m looking forward to finding out how it actually manifests.  Probably not this month.  Maybe not even this year.  But when it does, I’m sure it’ll blow my mind how it all came together.


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.