Colorful Women: I Know You Want to Touch It

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You want to touch my hair. I get it. It's different. Tightly curled, strong, springy and spongy. Soft and scratchy. It may seem a little wild.

It shoots up in the air, connecting with the world  around it, taking in the power of the universe.

You want to touch it. Become one with it if only for a moment.  

It is exotic and beautiful. It's rawness brings you in. 

Let me tell you how it makes ME feel. 

Confident in a world that makes me question myself every day.

Real.

Uniquely beautiful.

Rooted in my skin and in my heritage.

It makes me spiritual and free.

Do you think its beautiful? Weird? Sexy? Free?

Some call my locks exotic – others call it nappy. 

You may say its beautiful – others call it un-tidy

COMB YOUR HAIR? You look crazy! 

WHY YOU WANT TO WALK AROUND WITH NAPPY HAIR?

That is UNPROFESSIONAL. You look ghetto, street, urban, HOOD. 

Why does this world question and deny me beauty and freedom?

POWER. It fears the power of my tresses and miss-understands them. 

I learn not to care and stand confident in my natural beauty. 

BUT You. I know you want to touch my hair.

and one day, I will grant you the privilege. 

The Turtle and the Rocks

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My niece bought a turtle today. She was very happy to have this pet to take care of and taking care of started pretty quickly. She needed to add a rock to the aquarium so that her baby turtle could have somewhere to sleep.  She made me rush to grandma's house to look in her year for a rock. She didn't find one. She asked her youngest sister who has collected rocks since she was two to help her find the perfect rock.  Even with her experience, she could not find anything that could work for the little turtle. Then I remembered. I have rocks all over my house. They are part of my nieces collection that got so vast that different family members had to take some to our various homes.  

I only lived seven minutes away. I told her I would go by my house and see if I have any rocks that may work. We needed a particular size and height so that the little turtle could climb out of the water of the aquarium and sleep on this rock that needed to be well above the water line. My "rock collecting niece road with me to my home.  We quickly got to my home and I let me niece pick three rocks, hoping one of them would work. Seven minutes later we were back at grandmas examining the rocks and making the decision to pick one. After washing it and placing it in the aquarium, we waited. It didn't take long for the turtle to climb up on that rock and rest. 

So many times I thought about throwing those rocks back into nature. I kept them only because my niece lovingly picked them up over the years. But today, one of those rocks was used. It had a purpose. It always had, but today, its purpose become clear. It made me think about life. There is a time an a place for everything. That rock was picked by my niece years ago sat in my home for several more years an at the right time it fulfilled its purpose.  We must be ready and prepared for when our time comes to fulfill our purpose and our visions. I know, sometimes, when we  are waiting like that rock sitting in my window the past years, we may feel like we are not living our purpose and we must do something.  But even in quiet, peace and stillness, things are happening and moving around us, putting things in place to create the perfect moment for our purpose to be revealed and to happen. Our job is to create the vision, be present to hear where we need to be and what we need to do and know that everything else is being taken care of. Right now, I have been waiting for something to occur in my life. I am growing anxious about it. Time sometimes makes believing and staying focus a little challenging to do. I know I am to stay still but some days I fight the urge to do something to try make this thing I desire happen. Acting before an act is needed is just as bad as not acting at all. My saving grace is staying present, listening and being clear on where my place is in this process.  Things are working around me and I must stay still while the universe does its work and put things in place.  Meditation helps me stay still. I learned today from the turtle and the rock.

 

A List of What I Want

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I LOVE LIST.  Every morning I take time to right down what I need to accomplish that day. Sometimes I do the list the night before.  I have been doing this for years and I believe it is a source of my efficiency and success. (The photo above is from a list in 2009/2010). Beyond my daily list, I have a 1 year, 3 year and 5 year goal list.   I think there is a power in writing down things. I believe that it helps manifest them into our reality and for me, it helps me commit. Recently I decided to use my love for list and develop a list of things that I want and desire.  At first I was gonna call it a wish list.  Maybe it is a wish list, but after a lot of meditation, reading and just living I have learned to ask for what you want and know that you are going to receive it. I've also learned that there is no such thing as a big want and a little want. They are all the same to the universe and God. We tend to put values on things making some manifestations and desires seem smaller than others. 

  • 2 GB of additional ram for my Mac
  • All of D'Angelo's music on vinyl
  • 1970 Chevrolet Chavelle in Midnight Blue
  • An amazing mattress for my bed
  • My family members to love themselves which will help us love others even more
  • End of war in the world
  • End of hate in our hearts (which will probably end war)
  • Happy nieces and nephews
  • Continued financial stability and growth (I have specifics here but keeping that between me, God and my book of list)
  • Cure for cancer (I know we have all lost folks to this disease)
  • Decrease in the importance of money in our lives
  • Political campaigns that are not to popularity contest but are about substance
  • Travel two months out of the year in the states and around the world
  • Sit on my porch and read most days
  • Paint every day
  • Meditate every day
  • End to racism and any other prejudice in the world
  • Public libraries that are beautiful, fully funded and used heavily by society
  • A partner that is smart, funny, ambitious, humble, attractive, comfortable in his own skin, open to new things (this can be a list by itself) 

There are other things I want to put on my "Things I Want List" but I think this is a good start. Some of these may seem far reaching. But I truly believe that the world is limitless and the limits we see have been placed my us. I believe all of these things will happen and I will be happy about these things now and look for these things to become part of reality. Write your list. Do not limit yourself and fully believe that your list is as real as the paper it is written (or printed) on. 

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I Already Know

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I have been waiting for you to say it aloud or to at least stop pretending. I see the signs. You can't hide them, but you keep trying. How can you not see that I already know. Maybe that is my fault. I want to make you comfortable so I pretend. I pretend that I do not see the realness. I pretend one day hoping that either I or you will get enough courage or stop being embarassed and say what is true.  Say what I already know and you do too. Just think when it is out in the open, how both of us can live more freely. 

FREELY

Right now and until then, I will continue to pretend with you. 

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Birthday Conversation #42

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Yesterday was my birthday. I didn't do anything spectacular. I had lunch with my twin and I finish this very awesome painting in my studio. I got a lot of great birthday wishes. It was great. On my birthday, I have to do a few things, update the registration on my car, make my annual doctor's appointment and do a life check up with my twin brother. 

This is the first year in three years we were in the same city to have this conversation face to face.It started out light. We talked about school, work, his kids, my art. Then it changed to heavier stuff. My brother is going through some things with depression, self-medication and just the struggles of life. I have been where he is. Depression is very much hereditary and I have learn how to cope with it and how to accept it as part of me. He is still fighting it. I share my experience. I listen to his. The oddest thing. He cannot see it now, but  he was such an integral part of me moving out of my deepest darkest space. He did not judge me, call me crazy. He did not try to avoid me or make me better like everyone else did. He was open and truthful while I was off the rail. He supported me and I am here trying to do the same. Men are different though. They think they can do it all by themselves. If I was not his twin, I do not think he would listen to half of what I say to him. If he did not see me 15 years ago, he may not tell me half of the things he share. 

I see our lives like yin/yang. There is a lot of positive things going on in my life and he, right now, is the polar opposite. We talked about that. I would openly give up some of my energy to make his life better. Maybe I can. It is hard for me to enjoy my life when my womb-mate is so miserable. I pray and meditate daily for him and my whole family. This conversation ended with him crying, me hugging and giving him encouragement. I look forward to our 43rd conversation. It must be better for him. 

 

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No Make Up

13288503_10154156845434780_152368267_o-1-617x800Editor: Miles Holder l Photographer: Zoltan Tombor @ SeenManagement

I read a couple of articles on Alicia Keys this week that inspired me and made me feel even more comfortable in my skin.  I hope more people read them. One was in Fault magazine, but the letter in  Lenny Letter Magazine moved me. It was about her decision to no longer wear makeup. Please read it here. 

Here is an excerpt from the letter:

Before I started my new album, I wrote a list of all the things that I was sick of. And one was how much women are brainwashed into feeling like we have to be skinny, or sexy, or desirable, or perfect. One of the many things I was tired of was the constant judgment of women. The constant stereotyping through every medium that makes us feel like being a normal size is not normal, and heaven forbid if you're plus-size. Or the constant message that being sexy means being naked.

I wear little make-up. Occasionally eyeliner, mascara and a light lip gloss when I go to work. Foundation on my face when I go to events where I know I will be filmed, photographed or where I am presenting.  It is a social must, but, normally, I am makeup-less. Growing up in a Pentecostal church makeup wasn't really allowed. From the perspective of the church, makeup was worn for temptation reasons and could lead to sin.  I'm older now.  The rules of church are more relaxed and anyways, I no longer attend church, but I continued to wear little to no makeup. Partly out of habit, but mostly there was a deep part of me that did not want to. Makeup made me feel like I was hiding. It is another thing that trap women, no, people, into a world that really does not exist and I did not want to be part of that world. I did not want to pretend. 

It has been difficult growing up around women who look amazing with colorful lips, highlighted eyes and rosy cheeks. It is even more challenging seeing men seemingly more attracted to the made up faces than my more natural state, but, even though I could have made my life easier and been more accepted with MAC or Maybelline cosmetics, it wasn't me. It is not me. Those colors that women adorned on their faces, lived inside of me. Maybe not as easily seen, but there none the less. We have gotten lazy and no longer take the time to look at the souls. Our focus on the outer shell makes us miss so much. 

I am not condemning makeup or things that enhance our beauty. I've seen master pieces that makeup artists have created on faces. It is not different than me painting a canvas, expressing myself. But most of us do not use makeup to enhance or express or create. We use it to hide physical features that society have deemed imperfect or not beautiful.  

We are asked to wear so many mask in this world. As a black woman the masks are many and are heavy. I believe Alicia Keys knows this more than many of us and I am proud of her for removing one more. Even if it is for one year or one day. I am proud of her. I think the biggest thing to know is this. Makeup does not make you. Even when you wear it, know, that it is not making you beautiful. You already are that. Know that you do not need it to leave your home and be presentable. You do not need it to catch a mate. You do not need it to take your selfie. You need nothing but to be you. Once you know that fully, where what you like, when you like and how you like.  Or don't. Either way, stand in your truth. 

 

Receive

 

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Ask, believe and you shall receive. We've all heard this saying right? Then there is the other one. "You have to give to receive." Great sayings and in many instances, true. I have experienced giving and asking and believing.   It's the receiving part I am not as comfortable with.  I do not receive as much as I give. Clearly, I have not been sitting with a pen counting what I gave and waiting for the exact number of things to return to me. I know the balance of life processes is not always quantitative. But I know that there is something within me that does not allow me to receive easily. I need to know why. 

Let me go back to the reasons that I give. First thing, my mother is a giving person and I learned it from her. Secondly, I enjoy it, but the biggest reason I give is I do not want people to suffer. I do not like seeing people having a difficult time or struggling and if I can change it by giving up time, money, talent or support, I will. I will take what I have and hopefully make that person's life just a little easier.  I am sure that my giving has brought a lot positive energy into my life. I am blessed everyday and I see miraculous things in my life everyday that I am grateful for. Spirit, God, the source of all that is, gives to me every day. But, what I miss is a more human experience. I want to experience the joy of being given to from another human being. This is lacking in my life.  Maybe my giving is not giving at all. Maybe it is my way of fixing a wrong or controlling a situation and therefore not considered giving. This may be why I am not receiving from others.  

Just the other day, my neighbors were nice enough to mow my lawn and the first thing I thought is "should I pay them?" I was sad that I had that thought, but that is my experience.  In my head, people do not give to me unless they are getting something out of it. In conversations, my mind always wonders to, "What do they want from me?" Maybe that is the source of this. My own thoughts. My own beliefs.  Maybe, just maybe, I do not think I deserve to be given anything. I have to work for it and then I will get what I need.  Where are those persons that look at me and see that I am a person worth giving to?

I have to go back to my statement about giving. Do I enjoy giving or did I say I enjoyed it because that is what is expected of me to say. If I looked deep down, there are some peopel and expereinces I truly enjoy giving to; children, my mom. Yet most other people, there isn't enjoyment. It's hope that by sharing what I have, things will be better. Hope is good but I think joy is the source of energy I want to feel as I give. 

Some days I daydream for someone to swoop into my life and where I have challenges, they release me from it with words, actions or support. I know that people look at me and make the assessment that I do not need. But, I am human and all humans have moments of need. 

I am ending this with my meditation and prayer. Today, I asked for an open spirit to receive and to believe that what I receive, I deserve it and more. I asked that I truly enjoy giving and not to do it just to rid the world of hurt or struggle or to fix something. I want to give to bring the world joy.  That is my prayer and my hope is that it will bring more joy to my life. 

I am an International African

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I haven't told anyone this, but I will share it today. In the 90s while I was in college, my brother and I were financially struggling. Our phone and light bills were kind of hard to keep up with. We picked eating over paying the phone bill. No matter how much we worked, it seems that we could never keep up with it all. A lot of our college friends were going through the same and we band together through the hardships, but there were times you kind of stew in the reality of the struggle. I do remember one night, sitting in our apartment and just feeling like absolute nothing.  I sat in front of the TV watching God knows what and a commercial came on. It was one of those commercials where you see a poor African suffering and starving.  Let me pause and say, most of Africa is not filled with people starving and dying.  This is a horrblie narrtive creatied by white Westerners.  Though the narrative is false, I know the suffering that I was seeing was still real and that child was suffering more than I was. I made a promise that when my finances became stable I would donate to this fund. 

It was 1998 or 1999 that I was able to fulfill this promise. Why did I need to do this? It was a reminder that there is always someone suffering more than myself and that there is always room to give and help. It was a way for me to connect with my own roots and strengthen them. It was a connection to the Motherland and my soul needed that connection. It was a way to make another promise; to go to the mother land and maybe even meet the families that I support and have changed my life.  Until this day, I still give to children in Ghana and I will until my dying days. 

Tonight I went to an event to hear a woman who, at one time, was part of the Black Panther party and she now lives in Tanzania. with her husband whoe was exiled from the United States.  She was beautifully dressed in the bright colors, beautiful jewlery from head to toe, but it was her spirit that shined so bright. I felt her connection with her root and for the two hours I was in her presence, I felt the Motherland through her. It was amazing. Talking about her compound and life in Africa woke me up from a very miniscule place that my mind had been living in.  My world is changing. I am moving back to Detroit, leaving a job and "stablity" and I am getting caught up in the choas instead of being calm in it. We all are human and I was having a human moment and freaking out. with so much "going on" Tonight though, hearing the stories about her life, hearing how drumming connects us to ourselves and ourn ancestors for support made be again realize, that the world is bigger than emails, jobs, money. It is bigger than me. 

She read this poem that she called International African and it hit me. I am categorizes as a minority so much. I am a woman, I am black and so on and so on. But, from a world view, I am not a minority. I am part of a large marjority throughout this world. I am international and I am human. There are no limits or smallness about me or anyone else. I had been thinking of my problems and my life in a small way. Her drums and voice woke me up. I am African, I am international, I am limitless. 

These Shoes: Houston

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These are my Chucks; my Converse. They are in bad shape because I really wear and use the hell out of them. I purchased them in January 2014.  I moved back to Houston after three years of being away.  All of my boxes of clothes and most of my other belongings that I sent a week before my move were lost in transit.  I was really distrubed by this. Who wouldn't be. The only thing I had left was a pair of Mary Janes, black booties and maybe five outfits.  I needed some shoes that were comfortable. My car had not made it to Houston yet, so a friend took me to Target. 

This was the last pair of Converse and they were on sale. I tried them on and got right in line to pay for them. They were very comfortable. These shoes were the purchase they made me realize that everything I lost could be replaced. I was safe, I had a roof over my head and I had friends who cared enough for me to take me to Target. 

Thankfully my clothes were found a week later, but these shoes became a symbol of two weeks of transition from Michigan to Texas that didn't go that smoothly. These became my go to shoes, like Linus and his blanket. I wore them on my walks in the park and to work. They were my "take out the grabage at night" slip ons. After work, when no one else was around and I had to work late, I would change out of the Mary Janes into these. 

These shoes saw a lot. They took me to different parts of Houston and made me feel at home. Each spec of dirt, each hole and rip embodies the last two years of my life in Houston. It has been wonderful. In a few days, I am moving back to Michigan. I am excited to move back home, but sad to leave my other home. I will always come back to Houston yearly, but while I am away, I can always look at my Chucks and remember. 

Shots Fired – Family Dollar

logo-familydollar1-480x164This right here is some non-sense and that is the only reason I am sharing this story.  My family tries it best to support neighborhood stores. It was a Friday and I asked my mom to go to Family Dollar with me. Family Dollar is a discount store and it looks like it. Sometimes they are not the most organized of places, but I needed some simple trays and bowls for an event that was going to happen that evening.  It was a simple run in, run out and move to the next task of the day.

She and I parked, go in and we are greeted with the loud-speaker message from security basically letting us know that security is watching. That should have made us turn around, but we were in the hood and things like that are part of hood living. No problem.

We go in find the trays and something for the grandkids and as me and mom were walking toward the front of the store we here something. My mom hears the security guy over the speaker ask if everything is okay. I heard that too, but I also heard some commotion. It sound like people talking loud and aggressive.  My mom did not hear that.

She and I got in line and I saw that everyone was looking to the back of the store. That is where I heard the loud talking from. No one seemed to be leaving the store, but you can see everyone was on alert.  From the back came these two guys. You can tell they were trouble. I started praying inside but on the outside you stay stone-faced.  Everyone did.

The guys asked the cashier a question and then they kind of got in the face of a young customer. Of course, the youngster acted like he was big and bad. The two guys left. We all knew that was not the end. 

Everyone started talking. I was hoping that the staff would lock the door, but they continued to work as though nothing happens. I see the two guys get in the car and sit. They sat for three or four minutes before the put the car and reverse to take off. It was a slow reverse and the next thing I know I see a gun come out of the window and shot into the air. They then took off.  Most of us stood there probably with the same thought. You can’t even go to the corner store without ignorant acts happening.  This isn’t just a hood problem it is an American disease to feel empowered to take life with guns. To feel its your right to carry danger on your hip. To resort to violence when things do not go our way.  We have told these young people in the way we treat them and limit opportunity is that the only way you will be empowered is through violence and terrorizing.  It’s on the news and in our entertainment. That has to stop.

From a city perspective, that nonsense is why people are scared of Detroit and its people.  It made me mad and sad at the same time.  It is a shame that anyone in the world live in danger like that. It is maddening that the staff at this location is use to such danger. It has become “normal.”  It’s nothing normal about it.