How do you spell relief…

Y’all remember that commercial!?

Well this ain’t about heartburn. But it fits.

A little bit about me before I get into it, I am pretty straight forward, no nonsense, ignorance and mess averse. I grew up in a house where you were encouraged to say what you felt with respect of course. I had a hard nosed Grandmother who said WHATEVER was on her mind and didn’t care about your feelings or if you took offense. If you had a Betty Lou, you know you learn very quickly how to not only respond to foolishness but stand up in your own imperfection and own it. I often wondered what her deal really was… I recall my Aunt, her sister, telling me once “Your Grandmother needs a psychiatrist. Never forget that or let her forget it.”

I later learned exactly what that meant. At the time I thought it was funny, but as I got older she was basically telling me that I wasn’t personally responsible for managing my Grandmother’s emotions and insecurities and nor did I have to act like they were not there or like she wasn’t in need of a long sit down in the couch of her choice. Seeking mental therapy was normalized for me in that moment. I remember hearing my mom and even my Grandfather saying things that let me know Nana was not to be allowed to infect us with her unhealed trauma… whatever trauma it was.

So I got with Nana!

I’m about to get with you!

Earlier this year my closest, dearest, and bestest friend got really ill after contracting COVID-19. She was put into an induced coma, intubated, and spent two weeks in the hospital. When she was released home, she spent a very long time inside of the house and clearly afraid to go outside. The virus and it’s affects on her had left her with an acute case of PTSD that she couldn’t seem to shake, even a few months after being home. We were talking at least once a day… and each conversation her outlook on her physical healing got more gloomy and added another day in the house at the beginning of summer. So like I do, I said to her, ” Hey you might wanna talk to someone because your body and your emotions are traumatized and neither will get better if you don’t move around and start to reestablishing your daily patterns.” I let her know I understood that she’d feel different… your body IS different! But she was still in charge of her own healing… she could talk out ways to integrate some necessary changes into her life to establish a new baseline. She said something like… yeah I know. But soon after she told me she had started therapy, and next thing I knew she was at a social distance, outside event, mask on, but healing in every way. To that I say… Bravo!!!!

Normalizing therapy is important!

Life is a series of experiences… lessons and learning opportunities. Some are like Hamilton, you get schooled while folks rap and dance in costume. Others are like Saw, you get tortured in the process, but if you make it through, you can survive anything. You don’t get to choose how you learn. I believe it depends on the severity of your lack and importance of the knowledge… the path to enlightenment is paved in karma and curses you gotta learn to hurdle over. Jackie Joyner-Kersee them jokers!

But these are not unique to you. Sure your particular set of experiences and how they manifested in your life are uniquely yours, but be clear… people get cheated on, abused both emotionally and otherwise, stolen from, tricked, played, hurt, manipulated, lied to, lied on, misunderstood, and mistreated daily. That isn’t your fault, that’s based on the mental illness of the perpetrator. But you are responsible for how you handle those experiences and whether you choose to heal from them. That is totally on you. You can’t ignore it, push it aside, joke your way through it, or put a mask on it and call it something else… because it will find it’s way back, it will deposit itself on your skin, in your pores, in your heart, in your liver. It’s that starvation, insecurity, overindulgence, inappropriate behavior, nonproductive overexertion, lack of discernment, and fake shit. It will leak out from any orifice. It will infiltrate every good thing and rot it until it stinks like that old meat Langston reminded us about. It will pool around you until you drown in it… unless you save yourself from it. It is trauma. It’s worse than the most aggressive cancer or the most vile killer. That shit there is toxic and you gotta fix it. Or it will fix you.

Trauma is like quicksand. You knew the ground had gotten softer but you didn’t walk around it, and it sucked you in. Eventually it started to fill your nose, airway, and eyes with sand.., your last vision, feeling, thought, sound stuck at that last moment your eyes witnessed. You reach out your hand, but you’ll just pull them in too. No one wants to go there who doesn’t have the tools to pull you out from stable ground. But it’s possible to save yourself. It requires you to put on your big girl panties or your big boy draws, pull em up, and DO YOUR WORK … c’mon Auntie Iyanla told y’all. And in the process you must seek help from people who know how to help you help yourself. Most of the people around you simply aren’t equipped to manage your emotions. It’s not their job or responsibility.

In all seriousness, I leave you with this, My favorite book is The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo and he always has the most sage advice. He once posted on Twitter, “To heal a wound you must stop scratching it.” Anyone who has healed knows exactly what you must do… change your thoughts. We focus on what is and has been wrong, keep peeking under the band aid, scratching at the scab, to just reopen the wound. Instead you have to DECIDE to do what is necessary to let it heal. For a physical wound it’s usually to leave it alone. For an emotional one it’s to bust it wide open, scoop out the bad insides, look at them, trash them, and concentrate on the present. Most times, to do that well, we need some help. Therapy comes in many forms. If couches ain’t for you, get some spiritual healing. If that ain’t your bag, try some crystals, reiki, whatever you need to do in order to learn the lessons, heed the word, and exist in a state of vainglorious.

You’ll be alright, just get yourself together and get some T-H-E-R-A-P-Y!

Roll of Thunder

Most things I write I think about and plan… not today.

There is a thunderstorm outside, and I’m sitting by the window and it’s silent in the room. No tv, no music, no people, no disturbance. I recalled last night I had a dream and I was in a boat. A rowboat. There were several other people rowing their little hearts out around me, and suddenly the man next to me fell in. Someone yelled to me to help him… and I said “No.” They remarked that I had on a vest, and I should help him, and I responded, “No.” No one else was jumping in, including the man yelling demands at me. I didn’t tell him that I couldn’t swim or even that I was sure this man was a horrible person… I was at peace with my decision to stay in my rowboat. Suddenly, the man popped up out of the water and swam to shore. At the same time, all of these items also surfaced.

“Hey that’s my wallet,” said one lady. “Oh my goodness, that’s my missing room key, ” said another lady. “That’s my watch… well it was,” said one of the guys.

As things surfaced people claimed them, and I looked at the man laying on the shore. Everyone else looked his way. He then let out a loud shrill yell and hollered for help. Once someone rowed to shore, he was just laying there, a scorpion on his face. It got dark suddenly, and this shined bright in the sky.

The Scorpio constellation.

I woke up.

We are constantly reminded about who we are, and how the traits were given to us come together to form a whole human and set of experiences. We are all teachers. We are all students. I have a certain set of gifts that I’m supposed to share and so do you. I happen to believe we often feel like someone wrote our horoscopes like they know us or are secretly watching our lives because we are connected to the whole universe. The way the moons, stars, and galaxy aligned when we were born makes us who we are just as much as our DNA.

I am a Scorpio. A textbook Scorpio. I’m super determined and ambitious. I plan out everything, set a timeline, and get to it. I am loyal, sometimes to my own detriment. I generally say exactly what I mean. I stand up for what is right and take responsibility for my shit. If you want to be around me you must do the same. I’m protective of my space, peace, and energy. I can’t stand ignorance or bullshit. I am an investigator… super sleuth level. I just need a piece of hair and a recent photo. (I’m kidding…) And I’m NEVER wrong about people… ever! If I tell you they ain’t shit… bank on finding that out for yourself later. If you are good, I see it. If you are full of shit, I smell it. I hold grudges. I don’t fight fair. I often have analysis paralysis. I’m not friendly. Injurious criticism hurts my feelings, a lot, if I feel like you should know me well enough to come at me better. I’m super sensitive about some stuff and most other things I could care less about.

When you are aware of and unapologetic about who you are, truly, other people’s opinions of you don’t matter and you are freer to be exactly who you are meant to be without concern about what people will think or say. When you are sure about yourself, you in turn are sure about the decisions you make, who you share your space and time with, and your value and worth. There is only one you… only one person who was born on the day and time of your birth, to your parents, who looks like you, acts like you, and is your special combination of traits, genes, experiences, and thoughts. Fine not because other people attest to it, but because you are. Strong and smart not because they says so, but because it is so. You are ALSO clear about your flaws… you don’t make excuses for them or your behavior, but admit to them and at least attempt to be better. People can be honest with you, and you can hear them without needing to defend yourself. It’s either helpful or to be discarded. It’s a level of respect for self that doesn’t need outside validation or condemnation …

You have to demand respect in this world, ain’t nobody just gonna hand it to you. How you carry yourself, what you stand for–that’s how you gain respect. But…ain’t nobody’s respect worth more than your own.

Mildred Taylor, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry

If you pay attention, the universe and everything in it will come together to remind you and assure you that when you are being unapologetically you, the world around you cooperates. Nature will match your energy. People who are good for you will venture near, and everyone else will fall off. The things you need and want will be appear in your hands like magic. Likewise when you attempt to conform to what you think people want you to be… more disharmony will follow. People don’t respond to the disingenuous, they either retreat from it or attack it. Good won’t come to you because you won’t be receptive to it… you can’t even see the good in yourself. You have to decide to fix whatever it is that leads you towards that disrespect of self… or make excuses for it and blame others until you find yourself alone. Not just minus company but minus the magic. What makes you… you!

Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive…who is you-er than you! Shout loud, “I am lucky to be what I am! Thank goodness I’m not just a clam or a ham or a dusty old jar of sour gooseberry jam! I am what I am!

-Dr Seuss

The thunder has stopped. It’s still quiet. I think I’ll break the silence by listening to ratchet ass trap music while I clean up the house and drink this horrible detoxing tea. It’s Sunday, y’all probably listen to Fred Hammond on Sunday. Doesn’t Two Chainz wear a Jesus Piece? Anyway, you be you, imma be me!

(Artwork by Lauryn Blanks, student at Cranbrook Girls Middle School and amazing daughter to one of my amazing friends.)

Ever Too Much?

Lutha (Vandross… you know of him) said “a thousand kisses from you was never too much” perhaps depending on who is doing the kissing and the frequency… we talking one after another constantly or over time, wet or dry, tongue or no tongue or a combination?

Cuz yes, a thousand kisses even from that guy could be too much. There can be too much talking, too much silence, too much work, too much chillin, too much taking… but can there be too much giving!?!?

Too much of anything makes you an addict.” -Nice & Smooth “Sometimes I Rhyme Slow”

I’m a big believer in balance. Anytime you get too out of balance there is an effect on health… be it physical, emotional, relational, or otherwise. Choosing to be out of balance is usually tied to some toxic need. Working out eight hours a day, might be linked to a need for control or perfection. Similarly, sleeping all day might be linked to a need to suppress emotions or experiences. Working beyond necessity because you are afraid to fail. Playing and partying to the hilt because you are afraid to win. Over giving to feel worthy of love or to get accolades and over taking due to feelings of grandiosity or narcissism.

Those unbalanced actions and feelings need to be dealt with and healed, otherwise you will either miss your blessing, spoil your opportunity, or push people away. Let’s focus on the give and take, more on the give than the take.

Women have been groomed to be givers. Since the beginning of time, women in the home have been the givers of care, love, and nurture to their spouses, children, and parents when they reach an age of need. Women in the past didn’t work and were not taught and raised to have dreams of their own, other than to be wives and mothers. Social titles that all required being responsible for other people before themselves. Even as women joined the workforce and are matching men in terms of employment hours, responsibilities, titles, and pay, we were still deemed responsible for management of the home. Cooking, cleaning, mothering…

Then add to that being a Black woman. The image that comes to mind is the wet nurse, feeding the white baby at her full breast and her own hungry Black child at the other. No self or bodily autonomy, simply a vehicle for the needs of others. Cook, house maid, hand maid, concubine, incubator, and personal refrigerator. Forced during slavery, and expected even today. Be a public lady, a professional, a private whore, and Wonder Woman all in one. Cooking, cleAning, mothering, all while looking 16 at 36. Too murch.

I’m the only one putting shots up, and like a potluck you need to come wit it.” -Drake “Too Much”

So it’s no surprise that women tend to give of themselves in excess. However, most of that is out of responsibility for the roles we have taken on by choice- wife, mother, care giver…professional or otherwise. What about those of us who put ourselves out there as givers… who want to be seen as givers?

Giving that comes from generosity that expects nothing in return is healthy and normal. But over giving to fulfill a need often comes at a cost to both the giver and the receiver. The over giver often forces or attempts to force their help, opinions, generosity into others, so the person on the receiving end isn’t really a taker by choice. That not only puts a strain on the givers ability to tend to their own personal needs but on the receivers boundaries as well. The receiver may not want or need it.

The over giver usually has a self esteem issue that seeks value and worth outside of themselves. They people please to get compliments and attention to feed their ego because they cannot find that internal boost. It is often seen in people seeking desperately to be liked or to fit into certain spaces. It’s like a square peg attempting to fit into a round hole, and never settling into the open square. When people tire of giving that incessant attention, the over giver will move to another source. But there will never be enough on the outside to quell a lack on the inside. What a tiring and stressful existence.

Too much just ain’t enough to keep her satisfied.” -Green Day “Too Much Too Soon”

The truth is, that despite what history has told us, we will be loved, liked, paid attention to, forgiven for our past transgressions, seen for who we have become not just who we were, if we are good people who value humanity and give of ourselves for the sake of sharing our blessings. It isn’t necessary to try to be known or seen as a giver. It isn’t necessary to give beyond our own financial or personal means. In fact, that’s not genuine and not from a place of kindness but from a place of need. When we give for need, we aren’t really giving but taking away from ourselves and the receiver. Taking from our own reserve and giving the receiver an inauthentic message that we want to help them when really we just want to help ourselves. Heal that shit. It’s unhealthy and will likely lead to the opposite of what you are seeking.

Drinking water is necessary for living, too little and you be dehydrated, but too much water can lead to a sort of internal drowning. Seek balance… anything else is too much!

All worlds a birthday cake, do take a piece but not too much.” -The Beatles “It’s all Too Much”

Pulling Numbers and Letters

So I’ve been told I must got the GCP. What’s the GCP you ask… well in the words of Jay Z and in the spirit of Don Magic Juan’s pimp challis, “my cup runneth over”

I hear it all the time…”who are you dating NOW!?!?” like I’ve got a wheel I spin to see who’s on my hit list this month. Or the ubiquitous, “You always got a (insert term for man: dude, boyfriend, whatever)” comment, that is so interesting to me. “Got” would imply in my vocabulary, something that one has on lock… yeah nope. I might be able to pull, as my one friend termed it “letters and numbers” (I’ll leave that for you to decipher), but dating is the pits. I personally despise it. Plus at this point, post 40 with kids as the custodial parent, there is no dating. Any outings or conversations, texts, or emoji sends are basically one long ass interview on how much you make me laugh, how long I can stand to be around you in one sitting, and whether you match at least three of my five must haves, that better quickly materialize into a relationship if you meet the requirements, or I gotta go.

Most of my first dates have morphed into relationships that last years. Instead of “dating”, I participate in the pull and catch; it really is self explanatory. There is a subtle art to the pull and the catch… and while I’m not interested in doing much more than expressing interest and then letting him find his good thing… cuz I’m a mf lady, I am involved in the process. Not that I’m an expert… but I pull a lot of As and Bs, and 9s to 7s. You can keep that 10 though, leave him for the chicks with time on their hands. He’s too pretty for how my life is set up.

The Art of the Pull

1. There is nothing sexier, in a man or a woman, than confidence. Period. When you know you are fine, he’ll know it and she’ll know it. Confidence is the art of aesthetic persuasion. Notice I didn’t speak of beauty, that’s too subjective a thing to use on humans. You need something foolproof.

Confidence is the reason she wore THAT dress, the one you hate and think she’s too whatever for, but that him, him, and her are staring at. Confidence is the reason she cut her hair the way she likes it, with no worries about what he thinks, or why he wears that combination of shirt, pants, and shoes that confuse you but your woman says “his outfit is NIIIICE!” Confidence is not bound by beauty, body type, color, or any subjective boundary… it’s an undeniable acceptance of how wonderfully made you are, despite whether you do or don’t fit into society’s ideals. And it’s 100% ownership in that acceptance. Get you sum.

2. If you are playing Bid Whist and you pass on your bid, and you knew you had 7 Uptown and the clowns next to you bid 6 Uptown -cue Aretha “Ain’t No Way”- how pissed will you be that you didn’t bet on yourself. You knew what you had and what you wanted, but you got scared of the win. Well, in dating, the win is the guy or girl you dream of, the one you know or don’t yet know who will check all your boxes. You have to bet on yourself when the opportunity presents itself, and speak on your wants. Now you don’t have to be full on direct, but if you are like me, you give an in. You leave the door ajar. You flirt, come hither, a little Happy Birthday Mr President… and then you go sit your cute ass down somewhere. If he’s in for the win, he’ll bet on himself, and complete the deal. If he’s not, he missed out. Cue the death of Pac-Man…

But always bet on you, know what you want, set a boundary, and then touch your boundary by going for the win. Shit, at least smile.

3. NO ONE LIKES REJECTION! Not women OR men. Just because men get rejected more, does not mean they enjoy it. C’mon, that’s ludicrous. So just like the thought makes you want to hide under a rock, it makes him want to hide in a cardboard fort. So, it is very important that you make sure he can see your open door… fellas too, women are shooting their shots out here these days. Its also important you clearly communicate with kindness your closed door. If you are involved, say so. If you aren’t interested for one reason or another, say so. If you simply are casing the joint and don’t yet know what you want, say that too. But whatever you message, make it clear. If one doesn’t have to guess what you want, but it’s clear, the more likely you’d get what you want! It’s a pull not a push.

The Art of the Catch

1. “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar”

Okay so one wants flies, but if you want anything, you get much closer to your goal by being positive, with smiles, with kindness, and with, well, honey. There’s a reason Pooh ate it by the jar full… shit was good and sweet! Likewise, being a bitch will get you nowhere. Only assholes, real assholes like bitches, they enjoy that game. But people tryna boss up and get this money …

… have no time for that game, cuz tryna figure out your bad attitude takes up time away from the grind. Once you have pulled, you have to be kind and open to the catch. And while we’ll eat cod, every one prefers fresh water fish over salt water fish. Be not salty or stank.

2. Ella Mai said it best :

“I put my feelings on safety
So I don’t go shootin’ where your heart be

All that extra special crazy, it took you five minutes to text me back, trippin for nothing, checking his phone, acting a damn fool is for the birds. Yes, KeKe Wyatt might have that bomb snapper, but again, that’s your typical saltwater variety. It’s sure to run your pressure up and increase your light bill. Let’s look at the quality of her choosers. The last dude was a preacher who left her while she was pregnant with their third child, after she raised two of his children, right… okay enough said. We want to be a quality catch just like we want quality fishermen. And you simply are not exhibiting quality behaviors when you are acting a fool. You have to remember what pulled dude… your confidence, self-love, high esteem, win-win-win-win attitude, and your kindness. Keep those factors at play the entire time. Put your weapons down and rely on your personal stock of personality and class to end up, hooked up with a quality dude. But you gotta be quality first.

3. So since I’ve earned my degree in letters and numbers… I think it’s safe to tell you, that the final test, the piece de resistance, the grand finale of the catch is the most important. Webbie had I-N-D-E-P-E-D-E-N-T what you know about me… and I’ve got C-O-N-S-I-S-T-E-N-C-Y, that shit’s so fly! So they say women date & marry men hoping they will change, and men date & marry women hoping they’ll stay the same. Now I’m all for growth, but I don’t think you have to change who you are fundamentally to grow, you just get better. I’m with the fellas. We should be FIRST, ensuring we are dating people who we like and accept AS IS! At 40… they might not ever be anyone different than the person you see in front of you. Furthermore, we could stop sending our representative and just be who tf we are. Then be consistently that in word and deed. If I tell you I’m going to cook you dinner on Thursday, only an emergency out of my control would change that. If I say I’m going to be respectful of you, that’s what it is. I’ll even respect you and me enough, in the presence of your disrespect, not to stick around and bust your head to the white meat. In order for human beings to feel safe enough to be emotionally vulnerable and mentally free they must be in space that’s consistent, which is synonymous with peace. You won’t get chose if you bring chaos.

So you see, it’s that simple. And if you are doing all those things and he doesn’t respond, he’s not the one. Move on with grace and bitter-free. You put your feelings on safety so you wouldn’t black out on these dudes, and simultaneously dodged a bullet. See how the universe is always working with you. Now put on your sundress or those gray sweatpants and that beater, check yourself in the mirror, do the Blade Icewood dance, and go out here, boss up and pull letters and numbers, and soon you’ll be saying …”my phone won’t stop ringing!”

“It’s Mr. Lee Iacocoa
And I’m the mayor of the mitten
Ya’ll niggaz ain’t bossin up y’all bullshittin!” -Blade Icewood and G-Rock “Boy Would You”