When you add it all up

Every morning I listen to music. Well, before that, I wake up and I immediately begin saying my “Thank You”s to God. At this point it is as organic as wiping my eyes or sitting up in bed. I do that until it feels right to do something else. Once I am ready to begin my morning, I do so with music. I like to move. I like to dance. And sing. I dance while I brush my teeth, I dance while I put on make-up, I sing in the shower and while I curl my hair. Every morning, there is a performance.

I am perpetually running behind in the mornings because of my performances. It is rarely because of outfit changes, but more like, I just needed to finish belting out this song before I could possibly even dream of leaving the house.

When I hear music I see colors. I always have, and I feel emotions like I am sitting in a room filled with the lyrics. When I was in high school, my mom told me I could repaint our downstairs basement. I wanted to paint it gold and write song lyrics on the walls with different walls highlighting different songs. It felt like what goes on in my head would finally be on the outside.

When I am connected to people I see colors. Sometimes with strangers too, but only if they are willing to be seen. I have chalked up the colors to be auras and while I do not always know what to “do” with the information, I have always had access to it. I will never forget meeting a client for the first time and immediately getting a sense for who they were based on what I got from them. One “scary” client felt black at first, which made me nervous but as soon as the door was closed she turned purple, and she cried for the next hour.  I learned then that sometimes people hold their breath, only they do it for their whole lives.

People listen to me. It is a curious thing that adds responsibility. I am young, and still figuring things out but two things I can say about myself that I really really like are that I am okay with making mistakes, and publicly, and I am wise enough to know that my gift has little to do with me. I found this quote last night in O magazine from Maya Angelou, she said:

I think it’s amazing what I have done. And I know it’s not my doing so I don’t have to be modest about it. Modesty is a learned affectation. It’s no good.

It made me smile. It made me want to shine brighter.

I had a friend tell me that I should start a newsletter. Send it out once a week with a thought, a reflection, something like that for people to be able to hear me. I digress, it is not about hearing me, but if I can write something that allows people to sit still and hear themselves, then I am game. I did not immediately dismiss her idea (as I would have maybe even as soon as a year ago) I knew from the discomfort growing in my belly that it was something I had to do.

Another friend sent me a link to Tracee Ellis Ross’ website. I clicked the link and ended up watching a video in which Tracee says she has learned the following three things:

  1. Your shit is your gift;
  2. The list is not the thing;
  3. Move freely.

I read it and smiled. I believe in those things. My shit…my outspoken-ness, my bigger than life personality, my ability to listen very deeply, my intuition, my curiosity, my optimism…and even the physical, my body. These things allow me to be who I am. They are the things that have become so…me. I was fretting with a dress yesterday because I had on tights and it made me nervous not to be able to tell whether my dress was down or not. I saw a classmate and she said, “Did you have a special meeting or something?” No, I told her. Just another day. “Ugh,” she continued, “Jessica you inspire me. One day I am going to do my hair and have an outfit…you always look so polished.” The moment was not lost on me. Here I was feeling like a hot mess and in the exact same moment someone saw me as polished. It goes to show that people are never as critical of you as you are of yourself. So, I told myself, you look fine, go enjoy yourself.

The list…I am a listmaker. It is so bad that I even got my college roommate to become a list maker with me. I infected her with my listing. Tracee said, “Somethings on the list are just not meant to get checked off.” Well. My mind went to running. I write about it often and I am so pulled by it but not in a big enough way to actually do it. I asked myself, “Would you be okay if you never ever became ‘a runner’?” I would be. I am sure there are other things on the list. For example, I thought in college I would be an AKA because that’s what the women in my family are and that’s what my good friends were too…then after college I worked with Deltas and I thought oooh well maybe THIS…and neither have worked out. Well, the pursuit was not the same, but either way, neither worked out. And funnily enough, I got an invitation for Delta while I was in South America in January. I remember saying to myself, maybe it’s not meant to happen. You literally could not be further away from it than the end of the earth and  yet…here we are.  And I refused, vehmently refused, to regret being where I was in favor of being somewhere else. No. I was so happy to be where I was in that moment, and I owned and cherished that. Maybe it was the “thing” maybe it was the timing. I don’t know and don’t care. The list, the things to do…they’re second ALWAYS to the experience. So the list…the list I made for myself…it’s negotiable.

Lastly, moving. We’re back to the beginning. How often do we move though? I happen to be one of those people who listens to the ears beneath my neck. I pay attention to what my body is telling me, and even if I cannot make any sense of it, I take note of it. This has been work. My current desire is to be able to speak to it with confidence. Years of learning that the head is smarter than the heart, and I’ve been actively trying to derail this myth within myself. And I want to be confident when I speak from a place of intuitive somatic knowing. I told my advisor that I wanted to make a movie about my dissertation and the process. She kinda just looked at me. But I see the end, right now. I get these ideas…these wildly creative ideas that appeal to the senses and make you emote and nothing about a dissertation matches those things. But it will. Watch. I mean I am an academic…but I am also an artist, a writer, a creative being and in this body of work that I am sure to produce, birth, and it has to resemble me. Simple as that.

So I guess the sum of it all is that. Right now, the me that I am today is pretty damn cool. The sheer amount of self-work I have put into my twenties is phenomenal and the shedding I have done of societal story telling…I asked myself why we are kept so dull? The only resolve I came to was that people didn’t know how to shine without persecution (from the masses, and from the ego.) You don’t deserve it, who do you think you are…those shine-stealing story tellers. I can recognize them for what they are now and send them grace but not devote an ounce of energy into considering their validity.

Who we are, who I am…is a work in progress. A divine being who needs sunshine, laughter, dance, song, and love. Kelly Canter said, “Don’t be afraid to fall in love, It’s the only thing that matters in life. Fall in love with as many things as possible.” I couldn’t agree more. I have fallen for words. For art. For helping people find their way to happy. And maybe one day, if I’m lucky, for a partner and for my children. It’s just as simple as that, of course in love there is great openness…great vulnerability and great risk. That’s okay though, see #1.

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