A dear friend was over and we were talking about life talk and I was telling her the other night as I was facilitating a workshop in race and reconciliation, I had a real moment of divine clarity – I was in my zone. I was doing what I was made to do. After the very first workshop that I offered on parenting through anti-racism, my friend, a spunky and successful business woman told me that I fit this calling well. And I had to agree with her. I’m a natural on discussing this highly charged issue in a nonjudgmental manner – all roads that led me here converged in this knowing.
My friend was telling me of her work in Ghana, with young girls, mentoring them either into entrepreneurship or into school degrees. She said she really felt that she was operating in her zone when she was doing that work.
I’ve felt the same way in writing my book, The Elephant in the Playground, which is now being shopped around for an agent and a publisher. After years of being nudged and pushed in the direction of a book, the book nudged and pushed me to write it. As all things in life, the process is organic and cannot be rushed into a time table or agenda. Again, I entered the zone when I wrote it because it came from within me, not outside of me.
There are so many radical ways to be in this life. I have spent half a century trying to fit into other people’s notion of work and though the work has had its moments, more often than not it has left me hungry for the possibility of more. Always I hungered to find my place to be me. Give me a place to stand, and I will move the earth – Aeschylus said this so many moons ago and yet it still remains my creed.
Armed with this flow, I won’t put any demands on 2016, instead I am lightening my load as I enter the new year to be able to stay in my zone and do the work that is being born within me. I will give birth to these projects in their own time.
Dear readers, if you were with me in Spain, in 2010, when I was shaken by the dream of the bridge and the tempest. My reaction then was to turn around and head back to safety and comfort. So you’ll recognize my growth. In five years, I’ve come to have a different perspective of that situation. Now, I’m ready to take the leap into unknown waters.
Note to self: I want to feel useful, not used.
Conversation with a friend on Wednesday: Old paradigms are falling away, the new ones haven’t been created, we are in a time of great chaos and transition. And we are spreading our fear and anxiety to our children. The only thing we can do is hold our center; enormous self-care is needed right now.
In order to be Love, we need to first Love ourselves, and then spread our Love as far as it reaches. The thing about Love is that the more you take in and the more you give, the more you have, it’s a never ending resource.
Meet people where they are at, even if where they are at is not where it’s at. [mine]
Do not attach your dreams of love and relationship to a person who is not bringing love. [friend]
The morning is smarter than the night. [from a Croatian]
When the world is overwhelming, break it down. [mine]
Think that you might be wrong. [mystery artist]
Be Love or Leave. [mine]
I wonder if I indeed have to come to the end of my self-actualization, the one that I have been documenting here for over a decade. Is it possible? These pages have seen me love, lose love, love again, lose again, and keep on loving. I became a mother in this blog. I have gained and lost friendships and family members in these pages. And just as I thought that there could be no more chapters that were worth a word, along came the next one.
Last night, a friend came over and we picked up Ethiopian food from a pop up restaurant at Pagoda Cafe. I was commenting on some areas of my life in which I had a real Come to Jesus learning experience that changed who I was. You think that some of your habits, bad or good, are set in stone of the who you are, and you realize that you are master of your own destiny and can perform your own diagnostic and fix or remove what is keeping the engine from running smoothly.
Yet, at the end of the day when I try to see how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve evolved, I still have a weakness or two. I’ve learned to live alone and enjoy it, but at times I still do fear growing old alone as my mother did. I’ve learned to let go of people and attitudes that no longer enrich my life. I’ve gained an understanding of what makes me happy and what does not.
I’ve also aged. My body cannot take the pummeling I would give it even just five years ago. I used to get up and go go go till I dropped. Now I go and then have to stop. When I was 42 I decided to run a marathon and only trained for three months. Now I have marching orders from two doctors to not run anymore at all or risk losing my right knee. Injuries come so quickly and then take so long to heal. Sleep is the most precious gift I can give myself each night.
My aged mind tends to sift through things a lot quicker than it used to – that is good and bad. I can let go of thoughts that cling and haunt, and let go of facts and data I once thought I needed. I love a good book even more now than I did when I was a hungry ingenue. I rarely have time for television because I’d rather read or sleep, but when I watch a good show I’m enthralled with the artistry of it too.
I look at the artwork in my house. I never did that before, or if I did, I didn’t notice it like I do now. I literally stare at some of the paintings on my walls as if seeing them for the first time. The moments when I dust, vacuum, and clean the house, I do pause and realize how much I enjoy my home.
Having left behind the luxury of that great big six-foot deep-ass tub at the LaLa that I hardly ever used, I find myself at least once a week in this miniature tub, soaking in that puddle of hot water and relaxing. I try to remind myself that in my mother’s old age she could not sit still, she paced a worn path in the kitchen, and I don’t want to be like her.
So have I come to the end of this blog, of this documentation of my self-actualization? I don’t know, but it feels like it. My real book is written – that is what 2015 was about – finishing The Elephant in the Playground. Now I’m shopping it around for the right agent and/or publisher. It’s been several years since I’ve had a relationship, although there have been sparks here and there, there has been no fire. Motherhood is wonderful and challenging and sometimes monotonous and at times the oddest thing to be doing in the world while being the most natural.
What is there more to say? I’m woman hear me roar, snore, bore? Maybe it is time to say goodbye to this part of it anyway.
Why I’m exhausted every day – all day – just in case you were wondering:
Tin “I’m starving! I need a snack!”
Mom “It’s too close to dinner time, we are having chicken salad and crackers.”
Tin “What!? Where’s my options?”
Mom “You can have chicken salad with crackers or you can have vegetable curry and brown rice.”
Tin “I want a third option.”
Tin “I AM NOT GOING TO EAT CHICKEN SALAD. I had it once at someone’s house before, you know.”
Mom “Did you not like it?”
Tin “I think I liked it.”
Mom “Well then you’ll love my chicken salad.”
Tin “I WANT A HOT DOG!”
Mom sets table, puts chicken salad and crackers on table with two plates.”
Tin “What’s this? AWWW! I told you I am not EATING CHICKEN SALAD.”
Mom starts eating.
Tin “I want a satsuma.”
Mom “Get it. They are in the fridge.”
Tin eats satsuma. Then starts eating chicken salad with crackers. Eats three bowls of chicken salad and the whole box of crackers.”
Tin “Have you ever entered a cooking contest with a judge who would give you an award? Because you would win.”
Mom “Thank you.”
Tin “Can I have a peanut butter sandwich after this?”
Yesterday, we met an acquaintance and her son for a long overdue playdate in City Park. As our sons played, we chatted and it was interesting to hear her explain about the efforts at Bricolage to discuss racism amongst the parents and staff. Everything she was saying, I kept nodding and saying, “I address this in my book.”
I didn’t think about what I was saying until later in bed at that bewitching hour of 3am where I seem to be stuck these past few weeks with my insomnia – getting up and ruminating – not of necessarily bad things but of all things past and to come. I thought about a friend, Danielle, who is a massage therapist and a healer who told me at one session that she had great huge vision of me and Tin. She was effusive and glowing and said she saw me publishing my book and being in the limelight in a big way to push my cause (parenting and race) and that Tin would follow my work and grow up to be a strong leader because of the path I had laid for him.
This was lingering in my mind when this morning a Facebook message came from another acquaintance, Rose:
Glorious Good Morning. I had an epic dream about you a Tin. You won a national award for your writing and met Anthony Mackie. You introduced him to Tin. The intro changed Tin’s life. He went to Nocca. Tin went on to win an Oscar. He became the president of SAG. He went on to be an international business man and a global force for Good.
To quote Marvin Sapp – [They] saw the best in me.
Sometimes the FORCE is with you.
Over the last few days, I’ve been telling my friends that I’m not right, that I might need help, that the world, as Wordsworth said, is too much with us. What I’ve heard, seen, been told, observed, and digested over the course of this telling is that indeed, for all of us, it is this way [sometimes].
So I’ve had to find those cleats to get myself out of this rut, not Wonder Woman style, but with real honest to goodness grit and grace on the bottom of my soles to give me traction to keep moving.
And here’s what I’ve learned: Right now, there are a lot of horrible things going on in the world. My grandmother, born in Aleppo, would be rolling in her grave to know that she and her family might be among those who have left their country for the great unknown. Israel is in the midst of a horrid nightmare of a problem because they have convinced the Israelis that the enemy is the Palestinians when all along the enemy was within. Across the United States, if you are Black or Brown there is a good chance you are scared to even see a police officer standing in the same space as you because of all the tragic deaths that have filled the news reels. And if you live in New Orleans, well you have had to face the reality that gun violence is out of any person’s control right now. And if you hone in on my neighborhood, there have been home invasions, rapes, and armed robberies all within the last weeks.
That is the macro element of which I find myself contemplating if not here, where? If not now, when? And the result has been to ratchet this outreach down to a more modest undertaking. I’ve had to bring it way down. It’s been to sit on my back stoop in the sunshine and eat roasted peanuts as I watch the monarch butterflies land on the milkweed that is fecund. It’s to look at the angel’s trumpets blooming in rapid succession on the twig that I rooted and grew from my neighbor’s old place in memory of her. It’s to sit down to dinner and light a candle and speak to my son about his day and what we are grateful for.
It’s as simple as the book that I read to my son when he was very young – Goodnight Moon – a very simple story about saying goodnight to the things that inhabit our daily space and make us feel safe and certain. It’s about noticing the stars that I see through the top of my bedroom window, or the palm tree in my neighbor’s yard whose fronds let me know the wind is blowing, it’s about the routine of brushing teeth, turning down the bed linens, about crawling in with the book or books du jour and opening to the bookmark and picking up where you left off.
It’s about the dreams we have for ourselves and our loved ones, and about knowing that the ongoing desire for meaning in our work, the profound longing for love and connection, and the hope that we are getting it right is on everyone’s mind as they tuck in for the night. We are not alone.
So tonight, Goodnight Crescent Moon, Goodnight Crescent City, stay safe my dreams and desires, because tomorrow more will be revealed.
The brugmansia – angel’s trumpets – is blooming galore on the bush I planted in honor of my friend, Dina. The backyard still has milkweed and ginger growing and one fat almost orange satsuma on the tree. The grass is turning yellow and the basil is almost spent. Summer is waning into fall that will most likely be short lived as we segue into colder months.
My posts lately seem to flip between darkness and light, as if I were telling a tale of two women. Perhaps I am – there are many women who live inside of me, and each vies for the stage. I sat in my living room explaining to a woman who was offering me a project that I needed work, I needed additional income. She looked around at my living room and I turned to see my home through her eyes and suddenly I felt ridiculous. Then I turned down the project. It wasn’t going to push my agenda forward of a) a better steady income, b) publishing, or c) doing meaningful work.
A friend offered to turn me onto her life coach, she has two of them. I thought of calling Ellen. But I came to believe in the early before-dawn part of this morning is that I need an exorcist. Or I need an alchemist, someone who could blend my light and dark into one heavenly body.
Wait, it’s already been done. I am that heavenly body.