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.
A friend told me to look up what Louise Hay says about my injury to my right side, hip/knee/calf, to see what it says about my emotional health:
Your right side: Your right side organizes and moves you forward into the future. When you are experiencing problems on your right side, you may feel stuck or hampered in moving forward. Or you may be experiencing unwanted change that is causing fear or trepidation.
Hips, legs and calves are how you move forward in life. Your legs, calves and feet store much of your trauma, resentment, jealousy, and emotional pain, both past and present, especially in regard to your family. Problems in this area show a block in the root chakra, which makes you feel fearful of moving forward or making changes. You may be experiencing issues about your self identity. You may not feel any support in your life–as though you are the one supporting everyone else, or as though you cannot support yourself.
I’ve been thinking about this because it would be easy to chalk this all off to woo woo spirituality but honestly, there isn’t a word of what Hay says that does not fit my situation. I am stuck. I’m caught in this endless spiral that seems to spin backwards instead of forwards and keeps me in this state of Ground Hog’s day that I can’t seem to spring free from.
Three years of trying to organize a new career path for myself around the core of race and parenting has left me where I began. Yes, I have a book to show for it, but yet to have a publisher or agent to show up for it.
My volunteer work is in a perpetual state of neediness from the getgo. There’s no end to what Tin’s school, my book, blog, my community work need.
My trying to surmount the lack of energy that has become a way of life for me has resulted in two major injuries this year – both involving my right hip and leg, which means that I have gone forward and taken five reeling steps backwards. This has kept my weight exactly at the same point no matter how far I travel from setpoint, I bounce right back to it with the very hint of a setback.
Financially, I’ve got the ball and chain of debt I took on to start my own business when my job ended in 2011 and the only work paying me is legacy consultancy work that often feels as if it is the root cause of all of what ails me.
Let’s not even get started on my love life where I am approached almost weekly by married men even on my very own block. I don’t think I have met a single man in years except for Sty.
Even trying to get resolution to a situation that happened earlier has met with futile resistance.
I’m stuck. Stuck here in an eternal and infernal spin where I keep coming back to the same setpoint and even my age old desire to get in my truck and run off to Mexico is thwarted by my equal lack of desire to do much of anything at all.
It’s 2:34 in the morning and I’m writing about this because I truly do not have the answer. I’ve done most of my self work operating on faith and a belief that I can disengage from desire. No attachment means bliss, for some reason I’m resisting that notion with my entire being right now.
Floating up here in this bubble where the only incoming messages are trite expressions like “walk away or try harder” has made my bubble start to feel like a lead balloon.
I had lunch with a friend today and she told me something that was going on in her life that brought me to tears. I told her something that had been going on in my life that brought her to tears.
We just looked at each other across the table, both of us crying, both of us with our hand over our heart.
She and I have been meeting up, seeing each other here and there, talking this and that, while our kids have been playing together, and neither one of us knew that inside we had come face to face with the worst that could happen.
I don’t know how people hold themselves together in the face of adversity, but life has sure been teaching me how for a while now – how to hold myself together when the world is falling apart.
Could I get my A+ and diploma now, and finally graduate from this helluva school of Hard Knocks? The lesson plan for this decade has been Resilience. That is Resilience 101, 102 and 202, 302, and upwards to 1002. I have become an expert in how to pick up the pieces and go on.
When I was in San Miguel de Allende I went to see The Treasures of the Sierra Madre – at the end, Walter Huston laughs at their bad luck and Tim Holt looks at him in disbelief and says:
You know, the worst ain’t so bad when it finally happens. Not half as bad as you figure it will be before it’s happened. I’m no worse off than I was . . . .
Remember that we are all living quiet lives of desperation as Hemingway said many years ago. So let’s all try to practice random acts of kindness to lift up all these weary souls and walking wounded who are around us.