Some years ago I got a call from my husband to tell me that one of my best friends had committed suicide. I had just spoken to her the previous night and could not believe the words that I was hearing. I did not want to hear the words and I did not want to believe my beautiful friend so full of life had taken hers. I was beyond angry as at that time I had been fighting for my life. I had just undergone surgery for a life threatening cancer not many survive. I was mad and I was barely able to breathe waiting for the monster to come claim me and my friend had made her own monster. Her anguish and pain I had not noticed. She hid it well. Before her death, she spoke to me of my diagnosis and how difficult it was to accept that I had appeared healthy and yet here I was possibly looking at my own demise. I had not seen her sadness. I had small glimpses of complicated matters in her world but nothing that would have alarmed me. I often felt and heard a sadness in her voice as she talked of family matters and insecurities but once again nothing to take away her usual jovial mannerism. She died in October.
The same year in December upon returning home from holiday travel I received a message that another very close friend had taken his life upon the death of his beloved partner. I once again listened to the words and wondered why I had not seen signs and what if anything I could have done. He was alone and my mind thought of how lonely and sad he must have felt. I cried. He was the one who cooked original Cuban rice and beans for me as we sat chatting about his homeland. He was the one who was so proud of his Barbie doll collection still in original packaging. He was the one I had met in a beauty supply store and admired his hair and asked him to do mine. He was my friend and I could not see his sadness.
In this world we pass by those every day filled with lost hope and sadness. They smile on the outside and say all is fine but inside is a cauldron of tears and fear. We go about our days not knowing who is hurt or why. We avoid eye contact as if a look of connection will bring harm. We see them sleeping in the streets, in doorways, on subways and even in our own homes. I wonder sometimes if a kind word, a smile, a touch would make a difference. if reaching out to offer a hand would have saved the lives of my friends. Would it make a difference if we took the time to notice, if we paid attention. Connection is a human need. We all need to be touched, held and cared for. No man or woman is an island. We all need each other. Rest in peace dear friends.
I am lying here at 430 am in a small apartment in NM. I am here on a 2 day get away to allow myself a little r and r and a get away from the crowded scene of folks being released from covid jail. They come ready for travel and release. For the past 4 years I have felt overwhelmed, sad, scared, frustrated, guilty,and just over all exhausted. The killings of so many of my fellow black Americans, mass shootings, political chaos and covid has been enough to head me down a path of ptsd. The uncertainty and the blatant hate and uncivility of fellow humans has been almost more than a body and mind can bear. Yes I feel the need to run far away, to escape the madness, the news and put my hands over my ears and say “lalalalalalalala I can’t hear you.” Am I being selfish to want to care for me? to want to take care of my sanity? To bow out of the constant human chatter and talk of the next calamity?
There appears to be some sort of addiction to chaos at least thats how it appears to me. The human need to fixate on what is to befall us next. Enter the media whose job has become to keep us all on edge. The desire to pull away from all of this is real and takes me to an image of a hamster in a cage running on a wheel or a barrel of crabs where one tries to escape and the others hold him back for dear life. Self care and stepping away from the collective need for drama can give one a feeling of being selfish or uninvolved.
Society tells us suffering is the way to go. If one is not suffering then one is not paying a high enough price. If one is enjoying too much or living too free then of course they are not fulfilling their duty to be miserable. For women the music plays louder. Society asks how dare we take time for ourselves when our families need us, the world needs us. Who will take care of everyone? Who will keep all from falling apart? How dare we live a life that does not consume us with guilt? Every day i hear the same refrain from friends who have retired. I hear them say how happy they are now that they are free from work, free from a job that consumed them and they hated for so many years. Many look forward to that day when they no longer have to work and all the plans and things that will happen when they are free. Imagine having fulfilling work that feeds one’s soul where there is enjoyment? Is this what we have become? A human cog factory keeping the machine alive? Society has a lot of requirements to keep its machine running smoothly. Society needs its workers to give their all; their time, health and sanity. The more it eats, the more it wants. So many of us are guilted thru life with societal expectations. Walk that line or else. We are looked at with a side eye when we travel too much, spend too much, rest too much, remain child free, say no, or take time for the things we enjoy. we are not working or suffering enough. Of course we will have no idea when the astroid is about to hit if we are not glued to the news and that just might be a good thing.
Once upon a time there was a young girl who believed in fairy tales. She was raised to believe that a dashing prince would ride into her life and sweep her off of her feet. He would adore everything about her and her every wish was his command. She believed what the others had told her that she would only be happy when she had found this man, married and raised her children in the little country house with the white picket fence. Well, Beaver’s mom June Cleaver had it so what is wrong with us when we fail to achieve our storybook dream? A mind is a fragile thing and easily manipulated.
Ahh the young girl believes her dream and the day arrives when her prince does arrive. The odd thing is her prince has other ideas but of course he fails to tell her and goes along begrudgingly acting his assigned role. They walk in step along fairytale lane. The young girl gifted with her strong intuition realizes it ain’t the life of June Cleaver and wonders why her prince drags his feet and sours his face as she talks about future of their story. Has the fairy tale been a lie? Nah it can’t be she tells herself. The world would not have lied. Her mother would not have lied. All the others would not have lied. Her prince just needed more time to come to his senses. It never dawned on her that her prince never shared her dream. He had his own dream and it did not include her.
Society has a vested interest in keeping the fairytale alive. The disruption comes when our soul realizes the story is a lie. When the happiness does not materialize as we are told we wonder if the problem lies within us. If everybody else can live in the story, why can’t we? Why is it me who always has to be different? We actually believe there is something wrong with us and society wants us to believe it. The fairytale wants us all to believe. If we find ourselves on a different path or find ourselves following the soul instead of the story, we are often labeled as inconsistent, irresponsible, ungrateful, immature, and a host of other perjorative terms. The prince cannot understand why we all of a sudden changed our course and cannot understand our “selfish” ways especially after all he has done for us. One day we wake up and realize the prince never wanted to marry us. He never held the same dream. He never wanted the house with the white picket fence or the 2.5 children. It was all the fairytale we held for ourselves as well as what the others said we needed. If we are lucky our soul guides us to the place that is right for us and the fairytale remains what it always was, a delusional dream.
As the year comes to an end, many are left wondering what 2020 has meant. What lessons did we come away with if any. There is no doubt it left its mark on the majority; be it through loss, isolation, illness or just having to slow down. Many are waiting for the final bell announcing its departure in hopes of newness coming our way. In my mind when that final firecracker pops, I will be left with a mix of profound sadness and relief. I will grieve for the ones lost. I will grieve for the loss of connection. I will grieve for so much change. I will grieve for the collective anger and fear swimming amongst us. So much has been lost but alas much has also been gained. We have been given the opportunity to see anew. The scales have been removed from our eyes. We have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. Many of us have had to remove toxic friends and even family from our lives to maintain our own sanity and morality. We have been surprised by words and actions of those close to us. We have been given a mirror to look at all of our tears, cracks and breaks. The question remains can we heal?
Always after the dark comes the light. Will we find a new way to be? Are we witnessing the end of an era and the last attempt of an outdated power structure to cling to power? Is the pandemic a harbinger of change to come? In the darkness we have the time to sit with ourselves, to observe. We have the moment to see what we are really about, to test our mettle. As frightening and triggering a specific event may be it sometimes forces us to stop. It forces us to see our fears and to ask who and what we are. Are we our jobs, our houses, our bank accounts? We saw our own insecurities and many felt the need to assert their “rights” to the detriment of others. We did not work as a unit to solve a common problem and we were left wondering what went wrong. The universe sent us a lesson. Only time will tell if we learned.
Times are changing and we can allow the change or we can dig our heels in and fight with all of our might. It won’t matter as fate will always have its say and the universe and mother nature were here well before man.
I have no desire to make this a political post but I imagine some will take it as such. These past 4 years have caused me as well as others a lot of angst. In my opinion it had nothing to do with who voted for whom. To be honest I like to consider myself an independant and usually hold no allegiance to any political party. Having voted for the candidate instead of the party I have gone all over the board.
My heart has hurt these past 4 years and I am probably having a small amount of ptsd. Many of my friends have spoken of insomnia and to be honest I have had my bouts waking up wondering what would happen next. I want to be fair but i truly have had a hard time watching America become a land with a multitude of unemployed losing their livelihoods as a virus sweeps the globe. It has caused me great sadness to see so many dying alone in intensive care units unable to be comforted by families. It made me angry to see many refusing to wear masks or keep gatherings small all for the sake of their safety and others. I fretted and worried for my elderly parents doing all in my effort to keep them away from the ravages of this new and unknown virus. I have plain been afraid and now I am just exhausted. I miss the touch and the hugs of my family and friends. I wonder how this will all play out. I watch as Americans have been pitted against one another. How we have allowed hate to be a part of American discourse.
Not only the pandemic, my heart breaks for the immigrants waiting in long lines for a chance for legal immigration that is far from being granted. I cry for the children that were kept in detention separated from parents. I wonder what the statue of liberty would say. did she not say “give me your tired and your poor?’
For 4 years breaking news had me wondering what was next. What in God’s name could be happening now? Now here I sit with elected politicians questioning the vote. For me it is disheartening. So many of us died for the right to vote. Many felt the pride as they cast that first vote paving the way for me and others. It sickens me to have that right questioned and it should sicken every American who considers themselves a patriot. No my post is not meant to be political but it should stir one to conciousness as how close we could come to a dictatorship; how our constitution could be dismantled by those hellbent on doing so. It saddens me that grown men and women put in power to protect rights and the work of founding fathers can so easily attempt to overthrow the will of the people. We the people should be that, We the people.
This morning I awake and I am thinking about love. There seems to be so little of it in the world any more. I wonder about love and how do we know we are ready to give or receive in a way that is conducive to the wholeness of our hearts.
We say love is unconditional but is that possible for the human heart? Is it possible to love another completely accepting all of their foibles? love has been written about, sang about and talked about. Many have killed for it, died for it yet its definition remains elusive. We speak of the love for our beloved as lasting forever, till the end of time. We stand at altars professing our love until death we do part. Yet it fades and we are left to wonder if we stopped loving or did we ever truly love.
To truly love is to first love ourselves for to give to another that greatest gift we must first possess it to give. The initial attraction we see love in the eyes of our desired. We look upon him or her as the one heaven is built upon but alas one day the scales are lifted from our eyes. We see the faults. We see the one as they truly are and for some it comes as a rude awakening. We begin to take the one we cherished and valued for granted. The voice that used to soothe our ears has now become akin to the sound of chalk on a board. We have lost our way and our connection.
Love is heartfelt. It is giving and being emotionally vulnerable. It is the tearing down of walls that block communication. It is exposing our weaknesses and openess to another claiming our vulnerability. We may risk ridicule or hurt but in love we are accepted. Our shadow selves, our dark days and our faults are seen. With seeing our own dark we also can see the other in a reciprocal manner and work towards mending and healing our history of wounds. Without doing our own work and coming to our own place of healing and wholeness we are not capable of being whole for another.
Love is not only for the romantic it is for all of us who inhabit this planet with one another. It is our shared humanity and aids us in our collective healing and growth.
I awake this morning with a sense of dread. I wonder what the day will bring. Of course I lie in this quiet space and give my thanks for this moment of peace. It seems every day brings an event, a happening. We are at the point many of us no longer know what to expect. We no longer know what we thought we used to know. It all looks different.
The outer turmoil in the air has me edgy. I allow my mind to travel back 13 years ago when a monster tried to eat me. The monster had formed a mass in my belly that my hand located on a cold winter morning and it was set on claiming my life. That day my world shifted in a second. All that I had previously given importance now took a back seat. Arguments, disagreements, beliefs all would morph and live in a separate space. Now my focus was on survival. I come back to the present moment. I am here and I am alive. I no longer experience my life as a numb existence. I watch as so many of us become our arguments. We find ourselves arguing on social media with complete strangers feeling in some way we can make them see the errors of their ways. We stand by our opinions convinced we are the ones who hold the answers. We watch our world collapsing and today’s atrocity will be taken over by the next one tomorrow. I wonder why deviciveness is now being encouraged instead of the unity we all need to head towards healing. I feel a deep sadness for this country and its inhabitants. I hear the heavens ask “when will they learn?” What wakeup call will we need?
Wake up calls are just that. They grab us and shake us into the light of day. They bring a newness and hopefully we are forever changed. They have the power to send us into a hole so dark and deep, we think we will never crawl out. This is where many of us meet our monsters. We are the lucky ones as the monsters give us a chance to come back into the living. They can shake off the chains of conditioning and help us to see anew. Monsters come in all sizes, shapes and colors. When they appear we can try to run and hide but they will always find us. I saw my monster and was able to stare it in the eye. I refused to let it eat me. I refused to cower with fear. That is what we all need to do, stand our ground and refuse to be eaten with whatever monster shows its fangs. Have compassion with your monster for it brings a gift. Allow it to work its magic. Yes they often bring fear but let it open you. Feel the compassion. This is a test for us all.Take care of each other.
I wake up this morn and I am tired. I wonder why as I retired the night before at a decent hour. I am not only tired I am irritable. I am usually an early riser but this morn I roll back over pulling covers over my head. I feel the irritability and I feel my clenched jaw and aching neck. I stumble down for coffee my morning saving grace. I have been grouchy and I have been feeling less than energetic. I am also giving myself 100 lashes this morn in my mind for my moody behavior. I along with many others are feeling an all time high of tension. I have allowed this and I have allowed myself to be a sponge for any negative emotion or arrow slung my way. Now I have to regroup.
Times they are a changing and with any change usually comes upheaval in some form or another. The trick to maintaining some sense of saneness is to know when we are being overloaded. We have to be aware of us and how we are handling our stressors and it is a time of tremendous stress. Often we are not aware of the things adding to our stress load in times of calm. We often think of stress as negative or “bad.” We forget what we consider the “good” can also cause stress. We live in a society where we are expected to be strong to be doers, to get things done. We are told early on to “act like a man, be a big girl or dont’ cry.” To ask for help or support is often seen as a sign of weakness. We all feel it. We feel the sweaty palms, the racing heart, the dry mouth, the headaches, yet we keep on keeping on.
With recent events,as a woman of color I am experiencing moments of apprehension and I am taken back to memories of my ancestral past. I hear my fathers voice advising me to be careful. I hear his instructions telling me how to be in the outer world and I hear him telling me that I have to work twice as hard as my white counterparts. I hear his stories of life during Jim Crow and I slide back under my covers wondering if this is where we are heading once again. I have lost friendships that I thought would see me thru the seasons of my life as we no longer have a shared vision. I have heard the words, taunts and seen actions of hate that would make a compassionate person feel great pain. Yes it is a time of stress that has me contemplating purchasing a firearm at the advice of a well meaning friend. The thought of a cold metal object in my hand capable of taking a life that has already taken lives of so many also fills me with dread. However I am aware that what we are feeling is normal for what we are experiencing. It is a time of uncertainty and collective angst. We feel it and in its juices we are marinating. We wonder why we are so tired and lackluster. We wonder about this deep grief we feel and why we are always on the verge of tears. This is the time if ever to be good to ourselves; to allow our feelings of grief and all else to come to the service. If we are called to lie in bed all day watching trash movies, we grant ourselves that permission without judgement. It is about being kind to ourselves and to others all the while holding tight to our boundaries. This is the time to eat the cake, drink the wine and know this too shall pass and we will come out on the other side.
If I outlive my parents, I will become an orphan. I wake this morning thinking about death. Not so much mine or that of my parents but death in general. I wonder if it still scares me like it did before.
Growing up I never really thought about it much even though it became my companion early on. When my grandma died I was 6 and I remember asking my mom if grandma would get a new brain in heaven. She had suffered for years with dementia and I just could not comprehend what made her do the things she did. Once she had used my favorite pajamas as toilet paper and I cried to my mom the horrible thing she had done. It was then that my mama had to explain to me about the sickness in Grandma’s brain. The day she died a pigeon fell dead on her window sill as I was standing at the window. I knew at that moment that grandma would soon follow. I wondered what it must feel like to die and if you automatically got wings.
Today as an adult I feel death coming closer. I feel its breath on my neck reminding me that I had better get moving as time is not guaranteed to any of us no matter the age. Death came knocking the day my brother died at 17 years of age. It had never dawned on me that my brother would leave so early. It was other people’s family members but not mine. I wondered what he must have felt as his soul left his physical body. I wondered if he knew he was dying or if he tried to hold onto life. These are the things my mind contemplate in the wee hours of the morning when insomnia has me in its grasp.
Once upon a time I was a hospice nurse. I have sat with people as they have made that final transition and I still have questions that will probably never be answered. I have heard their death bed confessions and have rafted with them through every human emotion as they tried to make sense of the life they had led. I always left with a sense of sadness but with one of peace. I have watched death sneak around in the night stealing breath and life and I have also seen it come in the bright of day.
Several years ago death danced near me. I had been diagnosed with a rare and usually fatal cancer that always claimed most lives. I wondered about death then. I wondered how death would tap me on the shoulder. Would it be the thief in the night or would it show itself in the light of the day. The universe said no and death had to wait for another day. I had seen it sitting near but it knew that it would have a formidable foe. I watched as it put on its coat and headed for the door with the knowledge that one day it would be back.
Death comes to us all and there is no place to hide. It will find us and hopefully when it does we will have made peace.
In these recent weeks I have had my moments of despair and great grief. At times it just washed over me out of the blue. I feel the anger welling up in me and try to find constructive ways to put it to use. The ongoing killings of black humans at the hands of those sworn to protect us is more than I can digest. I keep thinking this will be the last one but it never is. I hear disparaging words come from places that surprise me. I have had to let those I considered friends go on their way as I have come to a place of a better understanding of what it means to be cared for.
Today is Juneteenth when freedom finally rang for slavery in America. It is a day to celebrate yet there are those that find ill ways to continue to spread division and hate. I try to understand why is it so wrong to want equality. What makes some feel others do not deserve equality. I awake this morning with thoughts of my ancestors as they made their way chained in the hull of a filthy stench filled slave ship. I closed my eyes and said a prayer as I imagined that voyage and the fear that must have been with all of them. I cannot begin to imagine lying for days in your own excrement chained to another human. I cannot imagine the horrors of having your loved one ripped from you and sent to a watery grave. They often call for me in dreams and I spend time wondering what they ask of me. How can I carry on their legacy. It gives me great sadness at times but it also gives me enormous pride to know that blood courses through my veins. I honor them and pay homage not only today but every day of my life.
People often tell us to “get over it” when it comes to slavery. How does one get over something that is a part of your soul and genetic makeup? Once a few years ago I awoke to extreme physical pain. To my shock I was covered with red angry lashes akin to being whipped. Numerous consultations with medical, psychological and spiritual professionals left me confused with very little clarity. After a while I came to understand that this was a message from the ancestors. Once again they were calling out. They were reaching from far away lands to ask me to never forget. So today on Juneteenth I am letting them know I have not forgotten. I am here because they were there and for that I owe them dearly.