Tag Archives: encouragment

Notes From a Novice Feminist

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“Weren’t you scared? I would be scared!”

“You’re so brave.”

“Well aren’t you just an independent little thing!”

“You did it by yourself?! * look of approval* I’m impressed!”

“I think it’s great that today’s females are so adventurous.”

These were just a few of the remarks made to me in response to me telling people that I went on a vacation by myself… 9 hours away… And I drove. Oh… and I’m a woman… Almost forgot to tell you that. Not that it matters. Yet apparently it does.

As I’ve gotten older I have become more and more a feminist. Not by choice but kind of by the natural progression of my life. I’m a 31 year old single woman with no kids, no husband, and no prospects… Yet. I went from living by myself in a 2 bedroom apartment to choosing to move into my best friend’s basement… Just because I could. I spend most nights recluse in said basement with my heating blanket, candles and Netflix. When I’m not at home I’m throwing myself into my job, or I go on a date here or there when I find someone that seems worth the discomfort of wearing my “date bra”, or you can find me doing a variety of other activities. Sometimes if I’m feeling extra saucy I’ll actually hang out with real live people! Regardless of where I’m at or what I’m doing, I am always looking ahead to the next thing I’m going to do or the next place I’m going to travel to, and in most cases I visualize myself doing it…. Alone.

Let me circle back to “You’re so brave!”, my vacation, and why I have lived a life that has organically made a feminist out of me.

I went on a vacation by myself to Nashville. I stayed at hostels, used Air B&B,  visited with a couple friends for a couple days as well (See… I’m not a total recluse!), but mostly mingled with strangers or roamed the streets solo. I met some amazing people, ate some amazing food, and listened to some amazing music. More importantly I learned so much about how to let peace guide me, about the need to sometimes guard myself from even well meaning individuals, how obsessive planning can steal your child-like wonder, and how I can make a home wherever I am if I go with the mentality of not just “What can I take from this place?” but “What can I give to it?”

I didn’t divulge many of the details of my trip to most family and friends, except for a select few… And by few I mean probably only one. I come from a small town and with most small towns come a small town mentality that usually silently (or loudly) fears the unknown and unfamiliar. I come from a culture where woman grow up to become wives and mothers who support their families from the kitchen, from the PTA, from the church pew, and who always ALWAYS seek to be better for the betterment of your family and friends. If you go somewhere… say off to college… it is usually safe to say that you will come back as an engaged woman. If you didn’t then people would wonder what you did while you were away those 4 years!  Don’t get me wrong. The kitchen, the pew, the PTA, the family… I want that. In my heart I want it. Here’s the thing though, currently I have none of that… Not for lack of trying. So what’s a girl to do when she isn’t living her ideal life? She creates a new ideal!

I wasn’t going to wait until I had a boo to travel with or to go out to dinner with. I wasn’t going to just snag the next “nice guy” I met simply because I know he’d be nice to me and keep a roof over my head (like being treated respectfully is as magical as spotting a unicorn and as if my own money wasn’t enough to give me basic shelter). I was going to travel, eat, drink, and play by myself if it meant that I would be able to experience a life full of adventure and discovery!

Doing so definitely pushed my boundaries and comfort zones. I had to get past what I felt people may have been thinking when they saw a woman sitting in a crowded restaurant alone eating dinner, or the pangs I felt in my heart when I felt not empowered but very much alone while I sat next to a couple in a dark movie theater… while also trying to hear the movie over the sounds of their tongues slapping against one anothers (talk about feeling awkward!). I had to create a life which clearly defined the roles of loneliness vs  being alone. Taking a vacation by myself was for me the true test. Like a game of chicken between me and my independence. In the end both won the game because I found more of myself when I pushed my independence passed a new limit. Though there is more where that comes from.

The older I get the more I refuse to let my gender or race, my circumstances, general consensus, small or fearful thinking to limit the amount of fulfilment or contentment I have in my life. Regardless of if I’m traveling the world or spending another quiet night on my couch, I will be at home with both worlds within me. The adventurer and the recluse. The social introvert. The single woman with the spirit of a gypsy and the heart of a housewife. I can be it all. I am it all.

That is why as I’ve gotten older I have become more and more a feminist. The older I get the less defined I want to be. The less defined I am the more I do things that people think are brave when really if a man did them it would be seen as “being a bachelor”… When really it’s just “being”. Being in the moment. Being an active participant in your life. Being the creator of moments instead of just hoping that the moments that happen to you are ones you can survive.

Don’t be astonished by the things I’m doing that color outside the lines… I have much more I hope to do… and  there have been women doing much more long before I came to exist. Instead create a life that makes you astonished with yourself. That makes you say “Wow! I did that!” That makes you more and more believe that you can do anything you put your mind to because… Well… Look at everything you’ve done thus far… And many of those things you did while experiencing fear and anxiety, and yet you did it!

I’m not brave. No braver than anyone else.

I’m just refusing to stay stagnant waiting for someone or something.

I am that someone. And I’m doing something.

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Life Became Music the Moment I Started Living

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I’ve finally become the music writer that I never thought I’d be.

My passion for music goes far beyond loving one specific genre or favorite band. It goes beyond listening to “Black music” simply because I’m black. It isn’t defined by what’s popular, who’s “Hot” right now, or if it’s age appropriate. I love music because it is a soundtrack to life. Like living your own movie everyday, and having that one song come on that makes that certain scene come to life.

I’ve sang my whole life. In church, in choirs, weddings, funerals, in collaboration with other up-and-coming artists, etc. It was so frustrating to me that I could bring life to other people’s lyrics and yet I couldn’t write my own. I just couldn’t! I tried for years… and I mean YEARS. I’d sit for hours trying to come up with one verse… one chorus… one verse that sounded good with the one chorus. I’d get myself so worked up that I’d end up sobbing, feeling frustrating, defeated and lacking in talent. I’d give up for months… a year… and then I’d try it again without success. I journal constantly and was failing miserably at forming words already written into a melody. I tried to write about life, love, things I saw other people going through. I tried it all. Every effort ended in tears, a pen, paper, and maybe a couple sentences if I was lucky.

Today however is quite another story. In the last couple weeks I have written 2 songs. That’s right… 2 songs in 2 weeks! Pretty much a record breaker for me! Prior to that I’d written maybe 3 songs since the beginning of the year. Something clicked. Something changed. It had nothing to do with method, because I tried ALL the methods in previous years. It had nothing to do with not having enough material, because my life was full of material. It had nothing to do with needing to develope a way with words, because that has always come pretty easily to me. So what was it then?

There was this build-up of suspense and excitement that kept growing within me as I neared my 30th birthday last January. It was this feeling of “My 30s are going to be the best years of my life!” I had no idea what that even meant. All I knew was that I could feel a shift happening inside me. I was growing restless and it felt as if my skin no long fit the person I was becoming. I knew that if I was going to enjoy the many years ahead of me, I was going to have to expand myself. Spread my wings. More accurately, I was going to have to develop my wings.

And I did…

I am…

Feather by feather.

And that’s when I found my song. I found it not just in life, but in living. Sure, I had a life full of stuff and things but I wasn’t living. I didn’t take any risks… calculated or otherwise. I feared feeling regret and tried to avoid it at all cost, which meant I only went after things that I knew I wouldn’t fail at. I stuck to the things I was good at and didn’t try to find out if there was anything more to me… fearing that looking too deep into myself would reveal things I wouldn’t be able to fix myself and would feel too ashamed to ask help for from anyone else.

I found my song when I finally started to live.

I learned that song writing is about transparency. That’s the essence of music. People connecting to the humanity expressed in your lyrics. That’s what gives a song meaning… not just words on a page or the act of singing to an instrument. That’s why I wasn’t able to write. I was guarded. I was an actress portraying an open book. You don’t have to be an open book, but pretending to be one is worse than simply saying to the world “I don’t want to let you in because I just like to keep some of me to myself.” There’s nothing wrong with keeping a secret garden, but mine wasn’t filled with delight and intrigue. It was filled with pain, rejection, and self-sabotage. I couldn’t write because deep down I wasn’t living an authentic life. Not in secret and not in public… and your words will always expose you one way or another… and I think on some level I knew that. I think I knew that people wouldn’t hear my words through the wall they were written behind.

So then I started to develop my wings… and I started living… authentically. The good,  the bad, the ugly, and the “I don’t even know what that was”.

Funny. The “I don’t even know what that was” makes for some great songs.

Ode To Bloggers

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To write from the heart… from your life… in such transparency and honesty… without any award or reward (in most cases)… without having any motivation to do so other than believing that your words carry weight in this world… to possibly have no other experience or expertise except that which living has afforded you, and yet perfect strangers still drink in your words as if they were being served from a golden chalice. This is life of a blogger… and this is why I feel that bloggers deserve more respect and notice than most journalists the world over. They use the letter to coerce the world. We use the letter to shed light upon it… and ourselves.

Blogging is simply an online journal that is shaped into something more presentable that any journal I have completed in my lifetime. When I look through all of the journals I have kept over the years, they are filled with all the ugliest and most beautiful thoughts, moments, and feelings I’ve had. They are also barely legible! You would have thought I had a doctor write all of my pages for me! I don’t judge myself for it though. As I read line by line I begin to feel the buildup of emotions I felt while writing every word… every page. My writing wasn’t being led by the need for proper grammar, spelling, or any kind of etiquette. I would write something and then I’d scratch it out and write the HONEST version of it. I had many scratched out sentences in my journals… even as early as last year… because even then I was struggling to trust that even words on a page would not betray me. Yet a year later here I am… blogging online… for an unimaginable amount of strangers who may be holding my words with razor gloves.

I pour myself into other people’s online journals. The wealth of wisdom, insight, and inspiration is enough to last you a lifetime. Most are not experts. Most haven’t written a single book. They miss an “And” or “The” here and there. They are living their words. Every word is a verb no matter what it is and that is wonderous to me. They are living their life just as I am. They are the journalists for the People. By the People.

Support bloggers with the same fervor you would while supporting local farmers or local businesses. Investing in them… in us… is investing in You.

 

The Woman. The Source.

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As woman, we go through multiple various changes and shifts within our lifetime. The momentum of these changes only seem to pick up speed as we get older. We can end up wearing many different hats. One woman can be a mother, a wife, a daughter, a grandmother, a grand-daughter, a friend,  a girlfriend, an employee, head of the PTA, President of the HOA, sunday school teacher, bill payer, prayer partner, grocery shopper, boo boo kisser, task master, cook, lover, book club host, and seamstress [Insert hair pulling here]. Most often we don’t have the luxury of wearing these hats one at a time, but instead we end up stacking one on top of the other until our minds start to feel like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Our hearts are in the right place, but we are after all only 1 person. It is a constant balancing act. Yet enmeshed in all of these different identities lies The Woman. You remember her, right? She’s that part of you that was there long before life placed all these other demands on you. She was there long before those beautiful little energy drainers… and that one big 6 foot-bearded energy drainer too!  Have you forgotten what she looks like?

I am a mother to no one, and I am no longer a wife to anyone either. I don’t have to be to understand the constant divide that we as woman feel on a daily basis. We give, and give, and give some more until there’s just a little left of us. We silently do a little happy dance, feeling like we’ve won a small victory by having a sliver of us left over at the end of the day. That is, until something is needed of us… which happens more often than not… and we look at that sliver, shrug, and think “Well it was nice while it lasted” as we give it away to whomever needs it. This is the cycle we get caught up in day in and day out. Living from sliver to sliver.

Now, I want you to lean in real close because I want to let you in on a little secret. Listen closely and pay attention because I don’t want you to miss this…. Living from sliver to sliver is not sustainable. Let me say that one more time, just to make sure ya’ll heard me… LIVING FROM SLIVER TO SLIVER IS NOT SUSTAINABLE. It’s similar to trying to sustain on barely any food! You may be able to live like that for a while, but your body needs nourishment. Without nourishment it will die. Your person… The Woman… needs nourishment. She cannot survive on sliver to sliver. She will die without the nourishment that only you can giver her. If you don’t know where I’m coming from, you will eventually. Every women will at some point be face to face with The Woman that she either loved or neglected. Maybe that moment will come when your kids become grown, and are out of the house, and no longer need you to parent them as you once did. Maybe that moment will come when you are faced with divorce, and you no longer know who you are if you aren’t a wife. Maybe that moment will sneak up on you when you least except it… when you love your life… that is, until you don’t. You look around at a life that looks seemingly rich, and yet you feel so empty inside. You begin to think “There’s got to be more than this”.

There is something I often say to women I come in contact with that are struggling to keep all their hats balanced, and it’s “We as women have to stay interested in ourselves. We give so much away. We have to be purposeful in replenishing the well that we draw from”. It’s true. I know it’s true because along my journey to personal bliss, it was something that I had to actively teach myself. I had to teach myself to purposefully nurture and love The Woman… because it’s from her that all those other identities spring from. It’s our femininity that makes us qualified to be able to be all those other things! When I say “Femininity” I’m not talking about the 60s stay-at-home mom types, that were all “Yes dear. No dear”. I’m speaking to our hearts. The way we love. The way we can heal someone’s brokenness with our touch. Those things that just come naturally to us. God bless the men in our lives, but being able to split our nature up into different categories and yet have all of them working for us almost simultaneously, is truly a gift that I feel has been given especially to women. It’s our talent and our gift to the world around us.

In all the giving, be careful not to smother out the source of all that magic… The Woman. She needs you too.