Love in Context

love & beauty, Uncategorized

Excuse me as I sort some shit out in my mind…

If love is a gift, I am not done unwrapping it. Everyday I am learning something new about love: how to give it, accept it, share it, cherish it, create it. But what I know about love is not always what I choose to show about love. And it’s confusing as hell when everyone has a different definition of love. So here’s mine:

I sort of give people the impression that I’m an asshole. But I have a BIG heart. I care for people in a way that;s uncomfortable at times; for them and me. I’m over protective. I’m kind. I’m helpful. I’m optimistic. I’m honest. And that’s love to me. Everyone deserves that kind of love, tier 1. Then there’s tier 2 that commits to something a bit deeper. These bonds are based on trust that is proven through experience. The relationship you have with your siblings and other relatives, the platonic friendships you’ve developed. This loves says I trust you, I got you. Some people may call it unconditional love although there are some conditions; we want that love, need that love reciprocated.  Any measure of disrespect or disloyalty can break it and this happens often. A lot of people only get to experience a tier 2 type of love. But love is so much deeper than that. The next level I’ll call true love. Its greater than cordial interactions and while built on trust is a much more vulnerable position to be in. True love is not unconditional, it is conditioning; it nourishes the part of us that is seldom seen. True love comes from the soul and is the best representation of who we are. In fact, it authenticates who we are making us more real to ourselves and others. True love doesn’t have to be experiences in a romantic relationship. Some people are blessed to have friends  that share this with. I think even above that though is self-love. And this was confusing to me because people will tell you “you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else”. But to me, its so much easier to love others, its hard to confront the reality of your being, the good, the bad and the ugly and be pleased with the sum of it. Self-love is like nirvana. It’s the high five after a winning game when you’re shot beat the buzzer. Self-love is the closest we can get to God here on earth because after all, we were made in his image right?!

All love requires vulnerability. We have to put ourselves out there and hope we gain a return on our investment. No matter how big or small the investment. I didn’t really think about any of this until I was asked the question, “Did you love me or were you in love with me?” And I thought damn, that’s a loaded question. What does it even mean?  And how do I answer without sounding crazy?  I gave an answer that I thought was accurate, but albeit incomplete. I think deeply about everything, often times overthinking, so when a person asks you a question you don’t want to be long winded. But there’s always more to the story.

When I was 18 I was engaged to someone who I really thought I loved and whom I thought loved me. But as I explained in Tier 2, the trust that I thought we built was broken. Even years after our breakup, he continued to say he loved him and I always brushed it off. But in hindsight I can say he did, he loved me based on his experience of what love was. In relationships we rarely understand from the other person’s perspective. Someone can be giving you the best that they’ve got and you tell me its not good enough. That’s damaging to a person’s character. It decreased our willingness to be vulnerable.It changes the way we feel towards people especially when we only see love as a feeling. We’ll say, “well if you love me you would…” not recognizing that person may be loving you as best as they could. See we spend a lot of time talking about love and neglect compatibility. Compatibility is how well you connect with someone, what you share in common, how you relate to someone. Compatibility isn’t love.

With that said I think I’m always in love because I am always pursuing love. I’m more inclined nowadays to view love from multiple perspectives and accept the love that people have to offer, even if its not the same love that I expect. I’m working on perfecting love in its early stages so I can experience self-love in its purest form. I want to love more freely so I can ultimately love more fully.

I could be wrong about all of this, but its how I’m feeling and thinking at the moment.

I Am Not a Poet

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It’s inevitable, I believe, that just as you are approaching greatness you doubt yourself. You wonder if you’re good enough; if you have  what it takes; if you’re doing the right thing. These things have crossed my mind over the past couple of weeks.

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was six years old. Over the years I’ve written everything from resumes to newsletter, blogs and poetry. While I’ve always considered myself a writer, it’s been a little difficult for me to don the title of poet.

I mean, I’m not like the poets you may think of. My style is too loose to be compared to the greats like Shakespeare and Keats. Those guys created structures that the rest of the world would follow for years. I’m also not one of the new age spoken word artists. I don’t speak with my hands when I talk; there’s no background music or incense burning. I’m not even a motivational tweeter. I don’t write for likes or wish for my words to become memes. So if you were categorizing me based on those standards, I am not a poet.

But I think about the artists and entrepreneurs I respect and none of them are like the rest. When i first started listening to E-40, I had no idea what he was talking about (and this is sad because I’m from the Bay). But when an E-40 track was played, it was always undeniable E-40. His voice, his language and his style stood out. When Allen Iverson stepped onto the basketball court, he not only looked different from everyone else with cornrows and tattoos, but he played different. he didn’t alter his style to be like everyone else. He played just as rough and on point as he did in his neighborhood.

So when I think of my writing I put it in the category of other. I realize I do not have to be THAT kind of poet to be respected for my poetry. I just have to speak from the heart and share the stories that only I can tell.

Stay or Go

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I love to travel. There’s something about going somewhere new and navigating the scene that excites me! I enjoy getting lost and finding different places to eat. I love people watching and scoping out others’ do things. And even if you’ve been to a place before, you can discover new things.

I find it hard to awaken this same sense of excitement and discovery on a daily basis. Always eager to learn though, I was listening to a podcast and the question was asked: should I stay at my job of 16 years or move on to something else? I thought this question was interesting for a few reasons: 1) Why was this caller asking a complete stranger for THIS type of advice?,  2) Why do some people stay in place while others leave? 3) Should I be asking myself this question?

I always find it weird when adults ask certain questions. Some things I assume people should just KNOW, but that is not always the case. The woman who posed the question didn’t mention what type of work she did or even where she was located which to me, made it kind of hard to answer her question. BUT, either she loved her job so much that she committed to it long-term OR she found herself stuck; committed without consent. The host of this responded rather confidently and said, “I wouldn’t stay anywhere 16 years!”

I thought for a moment how easy it is for people to go from place to place without ever having a sense of belonging. Many, many years ago people would get hired at a company and remain until retirement or death. Gone are those days, I imagine. People used to buy homes that their children and grandchildren would hopefully live in. But now, the terms “starter-home”, “dream home” and “vacation home” eliminate any sense of identity or familial ties. These notions trickle down into relationships. People commit to each other but are willing to leave at the slightest inkling of a problem. I’m fully aware that most people do things because they can. But even more people do most things because they can’t (or feel that they can’t) do others.

This lead me to wonder if I should be asking myself the same question, should I stay or should I go? When I was about 17 years old and started seriously looking at colleges, I vowed to only apply to schools outside of the state of California.

I wanted to GO as far away as I could and hopefully never return. When you’re young, the whole world is an option; you believe everything will work itself out and anything you want you can have. Part of me still believes that. But in my junior year of college when I became pregnant with my son, home in California is where I ended up. Seven years later, here I am. While it is a blessing to raise my son in the same place I once grew up, there’s an uneasy feeling of complacency and lack of accomplishment that haunts me. Am I limiting my potential by staying in my hometown? Is there something out THERE that I should be doing? Am I playing it too safe?

These are just questions I have not answered for myself yet. And I think that’s healthy. I also think, change is good and one may be due for me soon. Whether it is career, lifestyle or location, I do know that I do not want to be the podcast caller relying on a complete stranger to make that decision for me. I also don’t want to spend 16 years figuring out if I’m happy where I am or if I need something more. The struggle… of growing up, I guess.

28…. And counting

love & beauty, Uncategorized

a birthday poem (April 2, 2015)

I am in awe of new beginnings

Bringing forth a calmness that exists only at the start

An anxiety too that refreshes you

A new deck of cards handed you

I promised myself I wouldn’t be the same or like anyone I knew

I don’t want to be like the women I see on reality tv

They are beautifully broken

Ignorant

Confused

I’m not gonna be one of those women still trying to find herself at 40

I knew who I was at 12

And it’s been hell trying to convince you that I love me, as me because of He

So this year I’ve vowed to let that go

Because there’s no way you could know what I know and still be sane

It’s a gift, a blessing, magic even

To be tortured, tempted, ridiculed and still remain the same

I’m usually quite humble

And I’ll let the rumble of an empty stomach become a roar before I’d allow the media to brainwash me into being a whore

I want MORE for myself

I want more for you

But I realize sharing the same hue doesn’t always mean we share the same view

I’m not chasing fame or chasing wealth

I’m chasing the God that believes I am better than myself

I value the God in me enough to see the Devil in the things I used to do

I don’t hit the clubs anymore and it’s only water bottles I’m poppin

To be inebriated means to be out of control

You can’t play the role of Queen with an empty soul

I am that,

Queen is she

I could have been a lot of things, but none greater than me.

My birth was not a right

Free-erthan a bird set for flight

My thoughts come alive at night

When I am quiet and close my eyes I have the best sight

A clearer vision

I am able and enabled by my creator

I am creative

I am humbled by God’s power and his endowment

These things I’m no longer searching for

I’ve found it.

Drifting on a memory….

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My first night at college I couldn’t sleep. I needed police sirens to lull me to sleep.I was uncomfortable being in a room full of girls having shared a bed with brothers for many years of my life. I didn’t know these people; this environment. Richmond to me is like a village where everyone is related to somebody and no one is really a stranger. We are a familial people: sisters, brothers, cousins, aunties, uncles, grandmamas and mamas and daddies, baby daddies and baby mamas. It was reassuring to get a text in the middle of the day or night that simply said “so and so got hit.” We’d gather in the street and watch; shed tears and reminiscence. We’d stay in the street long after police arrived. We’d wait until the ambulance left or the coroner arrived. We bonded through our grief. At least we thought we were grieving. Violence and its residuals were a part of life; a part of us.

But college is different. There is no shared history; only individuals. And while I prided myself on being an individual, I wasn’t sure if THIS individuality was for me. Did anyone other than me know the difference between a gun shot and a firecracker? I couldn’t sleep.

It wasn’t until years later when I returned to Richmond that I made the connection between what I now know as trauma and my childhood. The re-entry was difficult. Every block a painful memory. Every person carrying with them a sad story. It’s overwhelming to say the least but this is home.

I now attempt to be nostalgic about the past and remember the “good ole” days. I tell myself now is different but it really isn’t. The street been unsafe; Kids have always been wildin’ out; people die everyday b. I want to see the youth as our saving grace, but they are just as naive and all-knowing as we were. Unintentionally ignorant.

I wonder, if I am of any use to them. Like me, they are dreamy believing all good is accompanied by bad. They are simultaneously fearless and fearful. But I want better for them. This is why I’m here. This is home. I’m trying to sleep.

Keeping My Head in the Clouds

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About six months ago I drove down to Southern California and couldn’t keep my eyes on the road. I travel “down South” fairly often and find the drive down I-5 boring. But hitting the road before sunrise, this time, offered a more magical experience than ever before.

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It was as if the clouds were creating pictures in the sky just for me. An entire play, scene by scene was unfolding before. As much as possible, I watched (within reason because OF COURSE I am an excellent driver who is completely focused on safety first!). I listened. I didn’t over think; I took it all in.

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On the trip back, I found myself looking up. And from time to time, I’d pull out my phone and capture the moment. This has turned into an obsession of sorts (I have 100 pictures of sky in my phone, judge me). But therapy in its own way. My looking at the clouds reminds me to be still. It is a reminder that the universe is bigger than me. It reminds me that some things are out of my control. I mediate by watching the clouds.

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After 6 months of cloud capturing, I am proud to say I’ll be keeping my head in the clouds and you should too. Dream big. Look up. Take it all in. Breathe it all out.

photo

Fucked

love & beauty, Uncategorized

The scent lingers,
Not of love but of you
The sweet smell of your herbal remedy collides with the air connecting deeper than we do,
I smell smoke but I breathe you.
Did you notice?
Hmmm.
You didn’t say.
You didn’t stay.
Am I the picturesque image of indignity
Or just a girl who thought she was filled but approaching empty?
I exude the lack of confidence that is within me,
looking exactly like what was did to me.
No wonder I feel Fucked.

“Happy”

love & beauty, Uncategorized

For weeks I’ve seen several of my friends hashtag #100HappyDays. That, coupled with the fact that I want to scream every time I hear Pharrell’s “Happy” made me believe I could use a little more happy in my own life. I embarked upon the #100HappyDays journey; two hours in I quit. Let me tell you why.

I’m not against being happy. I love being happy. But in terms of my life happiness is not the ultimate goal. Girl, what are you crazy?!?!?! No. For me, the best part of life is the experiences I go through. For better or worse, our experiences challenge us and then they change us. I want to experience all that life has to offer and happiness is just a small part of that. Some of my best writing has come through late, tear-filled nights. I’ve learned more by being embarrassed, falling flat on my ass and having to humble myself and get back in the game. There’s nothing wrong with being happy, but there’s so much more to experience. To brainwash yourself into being happy for 100 days straight would not be reality. There is something positive to find in just about everything. But only looking at the positive negates the other emotions. I’m emotional. I want to live a FULL life; full of happiness, sadness, confusion, challenges, heartbreak and loneliness. I want it all and then some.

Not too much of a rant here, just thought I’d share.

-Brandy was here

I Love Being Single Until I See A Happy Couple Then I Think I’m Missing Out

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My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude. 

Warsan Shire

I’ve been single for a while now. Nearly 5 years after giving birth to my first child and the dissolution of the tumultuous relationship with his father, I am ready for love. Though there hasn’t been a Black Friday line of suitors, there has been interest. Yet, as single mother, dating is different. You no longer jump into situations; every move has to be calculated. You, more than ever, envision your future with this person and how your potentially blended family would function. You think marriage immediately, for better or worse. And honestly, those thoughts shouldn’t be wasted on just anyone.

I used to laugh at women who committed their dating search to lists of qualities, checking them off like items on a grocery list. I used to think it was silly. How could someone ever find a mate with everything on a list? Impossible.

But, as an independent business owner I’ve discovered the power of vision casting. Writing down goals is important as well as visualizing what you want in life. So, after much consideration. I am making a list of everything I want in a husband. This may amount to nothing, but it will give me a clear vision of what I am looking for even if I never find “Mr. Right.” Truth is, I don’t have a problem being single, but maybe, just maybe I should start dating again.

I initially made a list of around 50 things, But I narrowed it down to 9.

Humor: Marilyn Monroe once said “If a man can make you laugh, he can make you do anything” I would agree. Plus, relationships should generally be fun. Nothing is better than a man who can ease the pain of dreadful news or create a joyful environment.

Smarts: For most of my dating life I’ve dated down. I am always careful not to sound too smart or discuss my many accomplishments for fear that I may intimidate my partner. “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” I want to speak and use all the big words I know and hold an intelligent conversation with someone. If I’m smart he should be as smart or smarter. I’m talking college graduate, someone cultured with an open and ever-expanding mind.

Faith: My spiritual walk is what has shaped me the most as a person. It’s important for me to be able to worship with the person I love. I’m a Christian. I take that seriously. But, I’m not a traditional Christian. I have liberal views and see faith as more of a relationship with God and a universal consciousness than I do a set of commandments. Ideally, I’d like someone who has faith in God and can back that up with moral principles and a sense of integrity in the way they live their lives.

Work Ethic: So I changed this one from ambition to work ethic because while I believe having goals  and audacity in making decisions is important, a man has GOT to have a job. And, unlike my favorite TV star Regine from Living Single he does not have to necessarily be a doctor, lawyer or have a six figure income. But as a man, you should be able to provide for your needs through employment albeit legal or illegal. And, in pursuing a long-term, monogamous relationship, be anticipating providing for a family. While love grows in the heart, money does not grow on trees. The Bible says, a man who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat. (It’s in Proverbs, look it up)

Handsome: It should go without saying that you are attracted to whomever you choose to date. And no, this is not because I’m vain or superficial. But because you want to get excited to see the person you are with. I want that fire. I want my man to look across the room and see me and be like “damn girl!”. So I should look at you and see the same.

Social: I can be very shy and somewhat closed off. But, I always challenge myself to be friendly and social when I’m out and about. The nature of my work involves me meeting and mingling with a lot of people. A partner of mine has to social enough to attend events with me and not just stand next to me like a prisoner. I want to do double dates and family days, etc. So if you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends. And I don’t mean “get with” in a you got a secret you wanna tell me on Maury kind of way. 

Family Oriented: My family is very important to me. My immediate family being myself and my son as well as my extended family which includes my mother, brothers, sis-in-law, nephews and nieces, cousins, etc. I’m looking for a man that likes to be around family and is intent on creating a life that can be modeled in the home and taught to growing generations.

Adventureous: I’m an Aries. I’m impulsive. I like trying new things. Are you down? You should be. My favorite and most fun moments are those I didn’t plan. It is often those things I never thought I would do, was afraid to do or did accidentally. I want to share those moments with a man who is willing.

Tech Savvy: This may not seem very important but it is. I’m 27 but wouldn’t mind dating older. BUT, you have to know how to use a computer (Mac or PC), check e-mail, update on Facebook, text, send pictures, etc. I’m of THAT generation where I’m “connected” so if you want to experience me in all my glory, ride that technology wave with me.

These nine are non-negotiable. In the words of Da Brat, “That’s what I’m looking for!”