Last fall a friend of mine sent me a link about a place to go for a mini getaway. We text each other a lot, so when I received the link, I looked at it, told her thank you, the place looked amazing, I would look into it and let her know what I thought. Time passed, one day and I was on social media browsing a travel group that I am in. This is something that I do periodically due to COVID-19 restrictions. I browse the page to live through others. I was presently surprised to see that someone had written their review about the same place my friend send me a link to. I immediately went back through our text messages and it was the same link. I was overjoyed…I decided it was time for me to take a trip. Of course with the COVID measures in place. As much as I love my family and our time together the last nine months, Neek needed some time to herself. So I booked the trip.
I know, you are probably thinking, where did she go? I booked a cabin through the Getaway House in a little town called Wimberley, TX. It is on the other side of Austin, TX. The booking feature was simple. From the time I booked, I received periodic countdown emails with information about my stay, what to bring with things, and places to explore. Each time I got an email, I got more excited about the trip. I forgot to mention booking this trip was also apart of a new year’s tradition I started last year. I book a staycation for myself to bring in the new year with some self-care and self-reflection beginning of the year. This year was different though, I would be celebrating my 40th birthday.
After waiting for 3 weeks, it was finally time to pack up my car and get on the road, and head to my mini-retreat. I let my husband know I was leaving, hopped in my car, and onto the interstate. On my way there I listened to music, thought about how I would spend the next 3 days and 2 nights, and also chatted with a friend until my cell phone service faded.
Finally, I arrived at my cabin. The weather was cold and rainy so I made sure to back my car into the designated parking space. You know just in case I had to make a quick getaway. Did I mention this little cabin was in the woods, it was pitch black outside and I did not have a strong cell phone signal? Once I was in the cabin, I was amazed to see that it looked just like the pictures on their social media account. I mean exactly like it and it was the perfect fit for me and what I had planned.
After unpacking and putting away my grocery and wine, I took a shower, hopped in the bed to read the book I brought with me until I fell asleep. If your wondering, yes! I did let my family know that I made it there safely.
My first night there the sleep was amazing and to be honest every night’s sleep was amazing, for those that know me, I don’t get restful sleep. To wake refreshed was something new for me. My morning routines were the same, lay in bed until I was ready to get moving for the day then try to knock off the things on my list. Day one was successful, I was able to reflect, draft my thoughts for an upcoming podcast and then I took a nap, I woke up to read, fixed dinner, and then drove to the local store for water and a slice of birthday cake…yeah, random I know. I also took the time to download a few shows to watch on my iPad. Day two, was a little different. I had every intention of getting up to write for my blog, start on my next book, and just write about the emotions I felt on this journey of year 39 and the transition to year 40. Yall, after I showered and ate breakfast, I decided to day drink (wine) and ended up in bed all day!
I read my book, watched Hulu and Netflix. Did I mention it was still cold and rainy? My plans had plans and it was A-M-AZ-I-N-G!!! This was also the day I enjoyed that slice of birthday cake with a glass of sweet red wine. I didn’t even eat dinner that night (don’t judge me). The sky cleared and I was able to enjoy my last night sleeping under a beautiful view of the stars.
The last day of my trip ended a little differently. The next morning, I woke up to a beautiful sunrise and decided to welcome the morning with a cup of delicious apple tea. During this time, I stopped to reflect on how amazing the past few days were. I know most people go to places like this to completely unplug from the world. No cell phone, no electronics, etc. However, I needed to be in a space by myself where I could think clearly and enjoy being in a new environment. I needed to be in a space where I could hear my thoughts. I needed to be in a space where I could write and record without interruption. I needed to be in a space where I could recenter and become one with myself again. After the events of 2020 and the beginning of this year, my time alone in a cabin in the woods was necessary. After a couple more hours of enjoying the sun and taking in the scenery, it was time for me to pack up SUV and get on the road. I sent a text to my spouse to let him know I was headed home. The drive back was just as serene as it was on the way there, the sun was beaming and I decided to open the sunroof to let the rays warm my skin. I turned up the music and sang the entire trip but somehow I ended up at the pancake haus at a table for one enjoying my book, brunch, and a mimosa.
If this how I am welcoming in year 40, I can’t wait to see what 2021 has in store. Let the countdown begin…
Over the past few weeks I have been asked what have I been doing in regard to my weight loss and “glow”.
You know I don’t mind sharing my journey. To be honest Sis, I let go of things that were not good for me and in some cases the things that I did not know were not good for me left. To include negative self talk. We all know how powerful words are.
I also woke up one morning and decided it was time for a change in some areas of my life and instead of taking time to plan it out and make my plan known to my family, tribe and village, I just made the changes and told them about it later.
Why? I knew if I waited until I had a plan, I would procrastinate. 🤦🏾♀️
Moving quick is scary but in some cases necessary for true change and commitment to happen.
After everything that has been going on this year since Jan, I needed to declutter my spirit.
These are some of the ways I started. I am still a work in progress and I am still on this journey but I am at peace because I am not where I was six months ago.
If you are ready for something different, your change can start today!
I woke up screaming loudly only to realize my screams were silent. Once again, I went to bed crying and woke up angry because I still feel like my voice has been silenced. Although in reality, it hasn’t been. I can still write, I can still speak but unfortunately, I, like my words don’t have any sound.
I felt this way a few months ago, when the pandemic started. My world was change within a moment’s notice. The words I wanted to speak would come out but they had no sound. Fast forward a couple of months to the murder of George Floyd and they became even more silenced. Fast forward again and they would form but they would not leave my mouth.
Do you know how painful it is to have so much to say but the words just won’t come out right and when they do, no one is really listening? It is not the best feeling but the key to your survival is to keep talking and to keep letting them form. Write them down, record them, do whatever it is that you think will be the most impactful and one day, the volume will come.
Being silenced is one of the most uncomfortable feelings. I have been silenced on many occasions recently here are some examples:
I am in an organization that has been challenged to do the right thing and make sure that all of the employees are treated equally and fairly. However, this has been lost in translation due to the motive and objectives of others, oh and don’t forget timelines. Somehow once again, the timelines have taken priority over the needs of the people and what needs to be done. I can tell you; the concern and compassion has not been genuine. It has all been textbook responses in nature. The appearance of compassion and concern has been there, but it is quickly followed up by,” oh and I need this by the 25th of this can’t be affecting you because there is work to do.” The other way my voice has been silenced, no one has decided to truly look at the problem of racism head on. Everything but racism has been addressed, we have been speaking about this for years. The fact that racism is the key factor, the things that people have done to us and continue to do to us is conscious…they know exactly that they are doing. They have just found a way for it to look like it is being done systematically, you know it is racism covered by a policy or procedure. Then there is the blatant racism that is just there, but it is so overt that people won’t believe you if you told them. We are expected to “push through” and “be resilient.” How so, when the very organization that I have served for over 20 years never really addressed the situation, they just glossed over it, created buzz words and kept it moving? If you look at the structure in the present day, strategically, it has all been done right. However, we have still only scratched the surface. There are people still crying out for true change. We are over the buzz words; we are over the unasked-for policy changes. We are over the appearance of change. We are tired of the band-aid fixes. We NEED, LONG FOR and DEMAND real change. Our voices are silenced even though it looks like they are listening.
Silenced voices are the loudest in the mental health arena. During this time, I have asked for help and advocate for others to reach out to mental health professionals. In some cases, I have been successful and in some cases, I have not. Reaching out is important. It is important for us to get help in a time when watching and reliving trauma daily has become the norm. How can we normalize watching people die or get shot every day by the hand of people who are supposed to protect us? We have even normalized the encounters of those who hate us. This IS NOT normal. However, we have learned to deal with it as a part of our survival. All while trying to survive a pandemic where thousands of people are dying daily. We are having to deal with all of this while raising our children in this “new normal” or what I like to call unnecessary exposure. How do we make sure they are okay from a mental health standpoint? How do I explain to them that their life truly matters, even when they can see otherwise? I will continue to pray for them daily, but I do know, there will be 2nd, 3rd and 4th order affects after all of this is “over”. We can never go back to normal. The normal as we know it will never return again. Keep speaking your words will eventually regain their volume.
Over the past eight months, the only constant thing has been change. So it was no surprise when a beloved actor and person, Chadwick Boseman passed away unexpectedly. This was something that took the world by surprise. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of great people have left us this year and we are or have mourned their death. However, this one is fresh due to his age and his medical condition that none of us knew about. Not that it is our business as fans but it was unexpected. I know for me this hit extremely hard based on the impact he had on the world and the appearance of him being healthy. This also hit hard for me because my father died from cancer and lived for two years after his diagnosis. This hit hard for me as most things like this do because it showed us once again, time waits for no one. We think we have time to say, “I Love You” or “Thank You” or “You mean the world to me” and in some cases we don’t. We are not promised tomorrow and neither are the people in our lives. This situation is a reminder to live your live everyday as if you are not promised tomorrow, because we aren’t.
Hold your loved ones closer. Communicate how much they mean to you and if nothing else, live each day as if tomorrow will never come. It is time to break the silence in this area. We can’t wait to say things tomorrow. We can’t put off for tomorrow the things that we can do today. We must SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT AND SPEAK LOUDLY. If for no other reason than to make sure our loved ones hear us. This is one area where our screams cannot be silenced.
Over the past few months, we can all say that life has been different that what we are used to. I know for me when this initially started, I had to ask myself what was I going to learn from this and how was I going to grow? Of course, I ran my self crazy trying to make sure that I was still functioning the way I was prior to the pandemic. Then I realized, I was burning myself out at both ends. The first three weeks were a mess. My go to outfit was sweatpants and some random t-shirt and a high bun. My mood changed ALOT and I felt like I was just surviving. Then on top of it all, my family and I were trying to figure out how to adjust to everyone being home at the same time while being in each other’s company 24/7. Sis…and to top it off, I am an extrovert in a house full of introverts and half an introvert. lol. Man! It was rough. Some days I would just go and is outside so I could feel like I was going somewhere. I am pretty sure it is safe to say I was also depressed. This went on for a while. To be honest, I am still depressed, but I am finding way to work through it. Even through the chaos, I have been able to find the beauty in and enjoy the little things.
Since we have been home due to COVID-19, I have been able to do things that I would have only hoped for because of my somewhat hectic life.
I was able to spend more time with my children and truly enjoy watching them grow into their own personalities despite the current circumstances.
We have been able to spend more time together under one roof. I consider this a blessing based on the time over the years we were not together under one roof. One year, we were in three different countries in three different time zones.
There were less distractions. My spouse and I were able to learn more about each other and learned to communicate better. Something that sometimes gets lost when life keeps you busy.
I accomplished some goals. There were some goals that I was able to accomplish while I had to sit still. Accomplishing these goals let me know what I was capable of doing what I put my mind to when I had time to focus.
I met me. Again…When you are forced to be still, it is amazing the things you will learn about yourself all over again. It is also amazing the things you will learn about yourself that you didn’t know. Whatever the case it can be a beautiful adventure or a nightmare but in the end you walk away with a clear picture of who you are and in some cases who you want to be.
I have learned to enjoy the little moments in life. Why? Because sometimes it is the little things that keep us going. It”s the little things that help us overcome some of the biggest challenges in our lives.
If you have learned anything during this time, I hope it is that sometimes, slowing down is not a bad thing. Sometimes slowing down helps us heal, it helps us grow and in some cases it just helps.
Today is the day that we celebrate fathers. I remember the excitement of picking out a card and a gift for my dad every year. Unfortunately, in 2009, my dad passed way from prostate cancer. To this day, I want to pick up the phone and call him, then I remember he is not here. When I pass the Father’s Day cards in the store, the memories of picking out a card for him come back. For me the pain didn’t go away, but it did get easier for me to embrace the day.
Here are a few ways to celebrate Father’s Day if your father is no longer here.
Take a trip down memory lane. Take some time to reflect on the good times that you had with your father when he was here.
Celebrate Him. This can be done by taking a walk or participating in a run in his honor, sharing stories about him, pictures of him, and telling your children how he was a key part of your family’s heritage.
Say Thank You. Take time out to thank the men in your life that have filled in the gap as a father, friend, mentor, etc. They may never take his place, but it is an honor to have someone there to call on when you need advice or someone to talk to.
Remember it is okay to feel the way that you do. For a long time I was upset because I felt my father was taken away from us too soon. However, as time went on and I celebrated him for who he was, it got a little easier. There are still days that I want to pick up the phone to call him. There are still days that I get sad that he is not here to see his grandchildren or my accomplishments, but I know that he is looking down from heaven with a BIG smile on his face. Knowing that keeps me going.
Over the past few months we have embraced what is known as a pandemic called COVID19 or coronavirus. We were told to stay at home as a way to “flatten the curve”. We were told to wear masks to help stop the spread of the virus. This was guidance that was given to us by the medical experts. However, I started to see a trend amongst those that looked like me. There were articles and comments made about how wearing a masks to cover up our faces to protect our health and assist in making sure others were healthy was a death threat for black men. Why? They are already being targeted based on their appearance, add a mask and the fear rises. So now not only do they have to worry about being a threat while doing normal every day things now they have to worry about being a threat doing normal every day things while trying to stay safe and healthy. Oh did I mention that they also have to worry about staying safe while literally trying to stay safe? A black man by the name of Mr. Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down while jogging because he “fit the description of someone who “looked like” a burgurlary suspect. Then we have Miss Breonna Taylor who was murdered, sleeping while black because police believed that the person they were looking for lived there. However, he was already in custody. Then we have the case of Mr. George Floyd who was handcuffed and died when an officer placed his knee in his neck as he stated he couldn’t breath and minutes later he died. Oh and let’s not forget the case of Mr. Christian Cooper, the black man who was simply birdwatching in central park when Amy Cooper felt threatened because he was “in the bushes” with his phone. She delibertly called 911 so he would get arrested. If you watch the video she used the right buzz words to intensify the situation. He was not murdered but if things did not go right, and what I mean by right is if he did not personally record his incident as proof he may have been another victim of fear and racism. See these are all situations that could have been avoided had the individuals been treated like human beings from the start. Instead they were treated as threats due to fear. What type of fear? I am not sure because I don’t know what they were thinking at the time but only fear makes you act and think later. Racism makes you act without thinking or caring about human life period. With these four incidents alone, social media has been on fire. Over the past few weeks, emotions, opinions, and outcries have been at an all time high. Including mine. I have been overly protective while my husband goes for his morning walk, calling him every thirty minutes to make sure he is okay or walking with him so he is not alone. I have even gone as far as to facetime him while he goes to the store to pick up essentials to make sure no one has approached him as he is shopping while black. My anxiety is on 1,000 these days.
While on social media, talking to or video chatting with friends, what I have seen is ALOT of PAIN. Words spoken by people that look like me are out of pain. I hear their pain. The words written by people that look like me are out of pain. The tears that keep falling are due to the souls that are crying that no one hears. The tears keep falling due to the words being spoken and written that have no sound. The pain and tears are falling and felt because people that look like me feel they have no voice. They are or have been silenced. Do you know who some of those people are? The people in the military that look like me that are silenced by #AllLivesMatter#Idontseecolor#Weareoneracethehumanrace. The people that look like me that are told we are all brothers and sisters in arms but the only ones that are standing with them or up for them are their brothers and sisters that look like them. Don’t get me wrong there are some allies within the ranks that are standing right there with us and in some cases using their voice to speak on our behalf or echo what we are saying but what about the ones who continue to silence us out of fear or racism or both? Don’t #Allvoicesmatter? If so, then why is it when we try to bring you our pain so that you understand, you plug your ears or put tape over our mouths by pointing out how far we have come…#44 or #18 is always the example. If we are all in this together then why is my pain treated with a trial medical treatment, while your pain is treated with the best experts and medications within the field? If we are in this together why are your forums good for all of the other issues the world faces except the combination of fear and racism? I am tired. Tired of reading about the double standards that people like me face. I am tired of reading about another black man whose life was taken away based on someone’s fear. I am tired of reading about another black women who was killed based on a mistake. I am tired of hearing about freedom of speech when my words will never be free. I am tired of seeing your tears when mine will no longer fall. I am tired of being in spaces that appear to accept me but accept everyone except me. I am tired of looking for a safe space because these spaces are not safe but you want to call me out for making my own safe space for people like me to stay safe and say it shouldn’t be about race. Well you are right. It shouldn’t be but it IS and until we can openly talk about it and agree on how to fix it. It will always be a different America for you and me.
Call to Action: I ask that you figure out where you fit into this and adjust accordingly. If you are in pain…find a way to release that pain. People don’t get to tell you how to grieve and they definitely don’t get to tell you how to heal.Use YOUR voice: Speak up for those that can’t find or at this moment can’t use their voice. Some pain cannot be displayed in words and to be honest, some of us really don’t have anything left to say. *You don’t get to tell others how to use their voice or display their pain.*Don’t silence others: Be a safe space or a listening ear. Know when to use your voice. Stop apologizing: We are numb to those words…I’m Sorry is only effective when there is action behind the words that are being spoken.Do your research and get active: Ask questions, read, ask more questions, read some more, then get active and be a true ally and help where you can even if it makes you uncomfortable. Then look for ways to help (Ex. use your platform(s), support organizations, echo our concerns, etc.).It is not too late, you can start today.