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.
The first toy my son held in his hand was a plastic guitar. It played “Achy breaks heart” and lit up when you touched it. My son loved that toy. He was probably around two years old when we purchased him a basketball hoop though. He would, I assume like most kids, try to fit all his toys into the circle just to see what they’d do. When he was five, we joined the ymca and thus, he became apart of the non-competitive summer league.
I watched my son change that summer. Despite the many activities I put him in such as dance, piano, soccer and art, basketball seemed to ignite a fire inside of him. His language changed. He wanted to talk about basketball all the time. Everything he held in his hand became a basketball. He wanted to watch it on tv, new and old games, professional, college and high school. Every time he blinked he was practicing his jump shot. And this passion and excitement has been consistent over the last two years.
I teach middle school. Last week, at our school-wide rally, staff and students faced off on the basketball court. Unlike many other rallies, there was Aton of interest with sign ups for students reaching over 50 people. When the teams were announced though, I noticed all of our student athletes were Black. Not only that, these boys were suited up Iike they were part of Duke’s starting five. It was clear that these came to play and win.
It occurred to me many of these boys were the same students often sent out of class, suspended, failing their classes and cutting class. It also occurred to me that if they could get serious about basketball they could be that focused about anything If they wanted to. But the question still lingered, “why basketball?
For little Black boys, competition is a necessary part of growing up. The need to show and prove is critical for boys at any age. I think also, that physical,kinetic relationship is important for developing as a young man. It gives them a sense of accomplishment that few other things can. So as teacher, I’m thinking, include more movement, games and competition in the classroom and our Black boys might be a little more successful in school. I’m not an expert or claim to be on any of this. I’m just saying….
Here’s an interesting article I found from Bleacher Report http://bleacherreport.com/articles/585049-white-fans-black-players-one-mans-view-of-race-in-college-basketball
I hate waiting. For me, the Aries, waiting is cruel and unusual punishment! I am impulsive. I want everything not now, but right now. A delayed response or action is no action at all. So I thought. But I’ve learned, recently, that patience is a lot different than waiting.
Waiting is…waiting. Or, as Dictionary.com puts it, waiting is a period of pause, interval or delay. To wait, to remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens. That’s the hard part; doing nothing until something expected happens. For most people though, this is life. Many of us make plans and stop working hoping that what we’ve planned will magically happen. As far as I know, wishful thinking has never gotten anyone very far. Waiting is often out of our control and for me, being IN control of my life and decisions is important. If you are like me, you need to be doing something and this where patience comes in.
Patience is more about your attitude and that IS something I can control. Patience is defined as quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence. This takes practice, but exercising patience is one of the most powerful things I have ever done. I have a problem of starting projects and not finishing them. I get excited about the possibilities at the beginning, but somewhere along the way, that excitement fizzles. I grow tired of waiting for things to happen. But exercising patience means that I can work diligently while I wait thus, expediting the process. Patience is working steadily towards something with the end goal in mind.
I saw this quote awhile ago that said, “Patience is not about how long you wait, but your attitude while you wait.” I like that.
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
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.
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.
Lots of people are talking about the interview Damon Dash did with the infamous Breakfast Club. Everyone has an opinion. but here are my takeaways from it. A few jewels from Dame Dash:
“Every real man wants to be the boss”
“You’re only the boss if you put up your own money.”
“No. Not in Harlem.”
“What’s best for your kids is to put your money into something that you can pass to your kids.”
“You enjoy the safety and security of a job everyday. To me, there’s no pride in that.”
“9-5’s aren’t good because you’re hustling for a weekend.”
“You sound smart to somebody dumb.”
“How do you feel as a man that you get paid to gossip for a living.”
“Why don’t we stick together.”
“In the streets violence is a means to an end. It’s a last resort.”
“It’s not easy to be honorable. Your honor gets tested everyday.”
“My block’s your block unless you’re messing with my paper.”
“There’s always some white man that’s in charge of Black culture.”
“I’m not mad at being a boss. I’m mad that you have the same job for 25 years.”
“Yes from the womb. I was Dame Dash since the day i was born.”
“How could you want the explanation and you’re talking? How can you listen and speak at the same time?”
“When you own something, you can do what you want with it.”
“How can a superhero be told what to do?”
Here is the interview in its entirety: https://youtu.be/XHX4hWurt8M
I’ve been trying to buckle down and commit to writing daily. So today, when my plans got changed, I headed over to Barnes & Noble to do just that: write. I made my obligatory purchased and spread all my gadgets on the table. I’ve found it helpful when in public to wear earphones, even if no music is playing. People will assume you are busy and they won’t bother you. I intended to work uninterrupted.
But just as I began the ritual stare at the computer screen, I noticed a beautiful young woman entered the cafe area. Searching for a seat, her shoulder length dreadlocks bounced ever so slightly and the swishing of her bag seemed to be in sync with her footsteps. Her skin was caramel. Her lips full. She sat across from me diagonally at a smaller, circular table; her posture impeccable. As she adjusted her bag on an empty chair beside her, a man approached her whispering and leaning in. She smiled.He wrapped around the low hanging banister and sat in front of her. I imagine that their eyes locked as her gaze became pointed. I couldn’t see his face.
I tried to mind my own business but my lurking was more interesting. In between keystrokes I tuned my ear to their conversation. A first date it seemed. She described her beliefs and inquired about his. Disclaimer: “I don’t have a problem with a strong man, but I do have a problem with a man that needs to constantly prove his strength”, she said evenly. And without flinching she continued, “I hope you don’t have a problem with a strong woman.” He didn’t flinch either.
The exchange moved smoothly and lasted only awhile longer. She smiled; he laughed; they listened intently to each other and then they went their separate ways.
I’m not sure what is to come of them. Or if they’ll ever see each other again. But I do know that today, I witnessed one of the most beautifully authentic conversations I ever have in my life.
Someone posted a video on instagram the other day. The brief, 15 second clip was so compelling that I reposted it. It was an excerpt from Steve Harvey on his radio show. He simply said, “focus on your gifts and not your talents.” He explained that gifts are things that come easy to you. I realized in that moment something I knew all along- my gift is writing. And so, that day, in that moment I decided, without a doubt, that I would write a book. (I had actually already started 😉 cheat!) So I got on my computer and began pouring words from my notebook into the screen. 48 poems later, I have the makings of my first book. Eek! Exciting 😉
I’ve always wanted to write a book. But I must say my trepidation in doing so came from other non-writers being successful at writing. It is the same reason I gave up my dream of being a music journalist. But just because someone else is successful doesn’t mean you will be less successful. Just because someone else shares your interest doesn’t mean you should become less interested. Right?! But it does suck knowing that you are great at something, passionate about something, and others who could care less are profiting from what makes you, YOU.
Anyways, I’ve settled on a title, If You Wanna Fly. More details to come…
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.
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.
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.
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.