Like many other women recently my new favorite show on television is OWN’s Love Is… It is based on the love story of Salim and Mara Brock Akil producers behind hit show Girlfriends, The Game, and Black Lightning. The show covers various relationship topics such as, financial differences, children, exes, intimacy, religion, and black love just to name a few.
Watching Love Is actually inspired me to go to social media with a few questions of my own. One of the things I asked was for people to describe love in one word. I discovered that there is no one word answer for what love is. Truth is love is a complex emotion that carries with it different descriptions and meanings based on what each individual needs and requires. Most people described love in terms of acceptance, sacrifice, loyalty, and of course as just love. These descriptions reminded that as individuals our definitions of love are based independently on our own personal needs, beliefs, and requirements. So what do we do when we meet and fall in love with someone that has an entirely different belief system and carry a whole separate set of needs than what we are used to? How do we learn to love each other to that we are both receiving what we perceive as love?
So the next question I decided to ask was: Do you love how you would want to be love or do you love how your partner wants to be loved? Interesting enough most people stated that thy love their partner the way that the partner needs love. However, there were still a few that said that they love the way they need to be love as an example of how they want their partner to love them. In both love styles people are loving the best way that they know how. So the discussion continued to when is the appropriate time for us to tell someone that we are dating about our love needs. Some say this is a great discussion for the first date, some say to wait awhile until you two have been dating awhile, and some say to just wait it out and just see what happens. I’m an advocate of having this conversation sooner than later when dating someone new. Most women over 30 agree one of the worst things that we can do is to waste our time waiting quietly for someone to love us without giving them the tools that they need. Or just wasting our time with people that are just not equipped enough to love us the way we need to be even with armed with all of the proper information. A very valuable love lesson learned.
In a current society where most people like their relationships the way most like their food (fast, hot, and easy). Love is… is a refreshing reminder of what it is to find a love worth the work. It also beautiful to find a show that is able to open up exploratory conversation about what love. Hopefully, you are able to watch and also ask some of the probing questions that each episode brings to the surface.
Over the last few years one lesson that I have had the hard task in learning over and over again is the power of walking away. Though more often than not it doesn’t feel powerful at all, many times I left feeling exhausted, defeated, and for the most part powerless. I have had to walk away from friends, relationships, projects, a job and for awhile this blog.
Though none of it was fun, each time opened my eyes to new moments and opportunities that I would have never had the ability or time to discover if I wasn’t able to leave some people and things behind me. However, before I was able to come to understand some very important ideals first. The first epiphany that I had to learn was that I had to let go of somethings in order make room for new things in my life. For example, it took me a long time to realize that I had to let go of a relationship that was not growing or no longer fulfilling in order to make room for the type of man and love that I desired. Honestly, during the entire course of the relationship I knew that it didn’t have a future and I was still hoping to find my Mr. Right instead of continuing with Mr. Right-Now. So I finally let him know how I felt and eventually we went our separate ways. This was not easy for me and ending things really hurt but so is staying in something that you see no future in. I had to make room for what I really wanted so I walked away. Now I’m not going to say that this my magical man of my dreams have swept me away already but I am closer to being ready for him when he does that I have ever been before. Another example, would be leaving a job that I had for 15 years because I was exhausted, under valued and the financial benefits just were no longer worth the sacrifice. I had become tired and cranky all the time, my physical and mental health was starting to suffer. The lesson I had to realize by walking away from this job was the value of myself, my time, and my well-being. I also began to think more about what I needed and wanted out of my life other that just working for others around the clock (literally). Once I left this employer I was able to launch my accessory brand Red Buttafly Designs and release my second book Red Book Chronicles all because I now had more time to focus on things that were important to me instead of wondering around like a sleepless zombie. One other very important lesson that I learned was to let go of things and projects that I was not able to put my all into, because it’s selfish to hold on when you don’t have enough to give. So for a while I had to walk away from this blog, because I had so much going on I wasn’t able to put the time and effort into growing this blog into the resource that I truly wanted it to be. I was trying to pour into my readers when in reality my own cup was empty and I really needed to pour into myself. So what I was leaving you with was inconsistency instead of the inspiration, and in a way I way I felt like a failure by walking away from it. In time as I was making an effort to pour back into myself I had the realization that walking away doesn’t always mean forever sometimes you just have to step away from somethings until you are completely ready for the project, job, or relationship.
The reality of walking away is that there always a level of growth made by the sacrifice. Unfortunately, we don’t always feel the growth in the beginning it usually feels like a piece of us is being ripped to shreds or often like we have given up. In the end there is sense of freedom that is so comforting and undeniable and nothing and no one can take that away from you especially the situation that you walked away from.
Happy New Year!!! I know it’s been a long time since I have been able to chat but things have literally been spinning out of control and my focus has been on everything except for writing. There just seems to be so much going on at one time that for awhile I didn’t even seem like myself. It was almost as if I was beginning to morph into this other individual that I did not recognize, I did not know, and quite frankly nor did I care for her very much.
I was finally beginning to see the result of my overactive lifestyle and the product of my busyness. Now don’t get me wrong during the last 6 months I have learned a lot about myself and all about how creative of an artist I really am and have grown a great deal in that area. I took some time to explore my other creative talents such as beading, crocheting and learned how to make jewelry. I even opened up my Etsy store RBD Designs this morning, but I haven’t been doing is writing. I have not written one word in well over a month. I work and I craft and then I go back to work. I try to sleep a little in between once in awhile but I’m still not very successful at that. Oh and then, of course, there is family and other personal obligations, plan making, self-discovering, the I’m getting too damn close to 40 to be single woes, and the list goes on and on. Then recently I looked in the mirror and saw a very tired, worn, reflection staring back at me.
That’s when I realized that this new image that I was seeing of myself was not me, but a shell of me of who I used to be. I know longer go out, shop for shoes, get dressed up just because, get my nails done and very rarely wear my full face of Friday night make up on Tuesday afternoon just feel perky. My busyness had finally taken control of me I was always drained and unhappy to where I didn’t even have a desire to write. Somewhere in the midst of my busyness and normal life hiccups I have given up. I had given up on my likes, my wants, and my desires. I had given up on me! And for a brief moment giving up almost looked like growing up, but it isn’t. It’s a deterrent, it’s a distraction. When the busyness and other life factors seem to completely take over and run your life, it’s often a sign that we are running from life. Things will come up, life will change, schedules will change and we will change. However, we can’t lose ourselves in the process or run from it. We will grow and we will learn, but is an essence of ourselves that is so deeply part of our making trying to change that part will only make us unrecognizable. Now please don’t get me wrong I enjoy the new skill set that I have developed and you will be seeing a lot more of my new creative ideas very soon but it is not a trade in for the other parts of me. I’m not ready to trade in my sexy for a skein of yarn just yet or my writing for beads. These things are part of my essence, my core and I am here to embrace them fully. I can no longer run into the busyness.
Last month I did a post “Relax, Relate, Refresh” discussing the busyness of life and how we get so easily overwhelmed with all of the things in life we attempt to juggle. But what about when we become too busy to even be sick or even too tired to know we are sick. I know I am a huge culprit of saying every time I get a sore throat that I am too busy to get sick, and in the midst of it all ignore the signs that my body is giving me to let me know that I need to rest, recharge, or even see a doctor. We constantly set other priorities in our lives on other things such as school, work, family, relationship, etc., that we totally forget about ourselves.
Last week a woman very close to me had a severe health crisis, she was so tired from her long days with work and school that she didn’t even realize that something was wrong. Then while being hospitalized she was more preoccupied with missed work and deadlines than she was getting well. Which means she still was not taking the time for herself that was necessary in a proper recovery.
Even with more and more information now available about how we should take care of our health and wellbeing, we still seem to be trapped in a society where the superwoman is no longer super but expected. We watch on television these extraordinary women that go through cancer treatment while never missing a day from work, have major surgeries or babies and return to work right away without their doctor’s permission. Their was a time in history when this is what black women were forced to do and that’s when we were slaves and housemaids, now we do it because that’s what we are used to. Because we must work harder than anyone else either because of our own goals and dreams or because have others that depend on us to keep moving and providing. And most of us feel like we can’t afford to stop or slowdown even for a moment. But we still seem to be missing a major question, “What happens when there is no us?”. The point is we cannot allow ourselves to be worn out to the point that we are no longer available to help ourselves or anyone else. Taking care of our health and well-being is a major contribution to this world because it allows us to be around a lot longer to do what we do.
Believe it or not this is a wonderful time to be a Black Woman. Now there are times when it won’t feel like it and honestly it should always be a wonderful time to be yourself, but there has been some beauty in the horizons. Starting with the Emmys Viola Davis’ amazing speech last week made it very clear that we are doing some amazing things in areas Black Women were never taken seriously. We may not be doing everything that we wish we were or have climbed to the top of the game as we would like to but we definitely are making some major moves and have started to be recognized for our achievements. This demonstrates one very important thing- Our voice is starting to be noticed.
As black women our voices have been smothered, silenced, and even beaten out of us. Remember when Celie decided to leave Albert in Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple”- ” Who you think you is? You can curse nobody. Look at you. Your black, you’re poor, you’re ugly, you’re a woman, you’re nothing at all!” As I’ve gotten older I realized how much emphasis he put in that statement and that her being a woman was the worst on that list and her blackness was the first of her nothingness. How many times have any of us experienced this type of labeling just because we are black women? We see it in the media, in the workplace, even in our families and intimate relationships. We have even seen it amongst other women. But the beauty in this scene in the movie was no matter what Albert said to Celie he couldn’t undo her realization that she too was a magical woman she no longer stayed stuck in the box that others had put her in her entire life. Like Celie many of us get boxed in we are just little girls.
This weekend I had the pleasure of seeing Black Girl: Linguistic Play by Camille A. Brown and Dancers at the Joyce Theater in New York City that focused on just that us being girls. The show celebrated the magical power of being a being a black girl from the games we play, the bonds we make, through our discovery of self with the rhythms and gestures of childhood. It was a wonderful demonstration how we grow, play, and evolve into something bold and unstoppable with our voices only growing louder and more powerful where we can longer be ignored.
Recently I have thinking about how many of us me included have or have had a really hard time during our lives trying to differentiate who we are compared to who we are suppose to be. It’s one of the those internal struggles that one can often get lost in and even defeated by. When I was younger I really struggled with: Who was I suppose to be? What was suppose to do? How am I suppose to act? Even, How am I suppose to look? Really, who decides these things? We do!
I have to realize after I got older that it was not anyone else’s opinion about who I suppose to be or even who I was it was mine. In getting to the who we are suppose to be we first must examine who we are and understand that it in order to get to who we are “meant to be” is a growth process. Understanding who we are as individuals is how we develop into our destined selves. Truth is the entire concept of “who are you suppose to be” is nothing more that a distraction.
Most of the time if we are trying to do what we think or what someone else told us we were suppose to do we are just on a mission to please someone else family, partners, teachers, spiritual leaders, or even God. I got to the point where I believed that I was suppose to be what other’s wanted me to be and my own innate skills and interest were wrong. Once I got older and started to embark on a journey where I worked and developed my skills, interest, and gifts I realized that I wasn’t meant to be what other’s wanted me to be. I was meant to be what God had created me to be (why do you think he gave us those gifts). But what was really important, I realized that it was truly all about the journey.
During that journey of chasing all of the wrong outlets, people, and careers was how I realized that I was already “who” I was suppose to be and “where” I suppose to be. So though I may not always enjoy the journey I understand it has allowed embrace that who I was “meant” to be was always in me the entire time.
Enjoy the journey,
For the last month I have been working nonstop. Last month I did a pretty big book signing (though it never really feels like work I had to put in quite a few hours in planning) and I been putting in a ton of overtime at my 9-5 so it has been an exhausting few months for me. However, since I have been working on a part 2 to Passion & Turmoil (available on Amazon, Kindle, and redbutterflypublishing.com) I really need and artistic boost of energy. I have been doing so much that I don’t feel like my brain ever stops for a nap, so since its so awake and active I need to rejuvenate it with some art, love, and sensuality and my go to place was what I really expected.
So I took a day trip to the City of Brotherly Love (Philadelphia), where is my go to when I just have a few hours to escape. I started my day early enough to spend some time in the park, take a stroll around Center City and do a little people watching. I even made a few pit stops on Chestnut St. to do a little shopping. Though a few new items play with always thrill me, it still was not helping my case. Off to the park I went, first I went to Love Park to see if I could glimpse a few couples strolling through or see any artist outside playing and their was the usual tourist taking pictures, skateboarders, and a few locals just hanging around. No groups mixing each one separated into their own corner. It was kind of sad there such a dryness in many of the individuals especially the locals and it was heartbreaking. Even the fountain was turned off and drained. There was such an obvious difference between the two groups while the tourists where happy to take pictures the love statue the locals seemed to be barely existing. The atmosphere was very thick and heavy, which is a huge example to so many things that are going on and so many changes that needs to be made, then my mind started spinning, working, and wondering. Then I remembered what this trip was for, though it gave me so much to write about it just not what I was look for today.
So went across the street and outside of The Sip with a Love Park Lemonade and watched two toddler boys play in the shooting water, laughing, splashing, and running. And there it was, innocence! Carefree innocence, the stuff your not allowed to have as an adult, that’s why its such a precious gift for a child something the must have an opportunity to have. For some reason, at that thought I relaxed then and calmed for a bit and allowed myself time to just be in the moment. Which is sometimes hard for me. I am glad that I took the time to take a break from everyone and everything. However, though I didn’t come back home with a new spring in my step or a super amazing love poem I did see a lot to write about.
See you Soon,
photo by: Yolanda Hargrove