Enclosed

IMG_0459To say the past few days have been difficult would be an understatement. It’s been an uncomfortable replay of last year. Feeling rejected, drowning in silence, tears and feeling invisible. I told a classmate of mine earlier that I could feel myself almost wishing someone would bump into me so I could just feel someone else. Be acknowledged if even by accident. I likened myself to Mr. Magorium’s Sock Monkey.

The difficult part and the part people keep telling me (I hear you, please stop) is that it will all work out. I am worthy I am enough I matter blah blah blah. Sometimes even the most well meaning mentions feel like bullshit. Because you’re not in a place where you can FEEL utopia, why the hell do I want to see a postcard?
That’s how I feel right now.

It’s so incredibly difficult, still, for me to ask for help. It is even more difficult when you can’t ask for a thing. It’s not a specific favor not an exchange of anything tangible. How do you ask someone to just love you? Love you gently because you’re feeling raw? Be tender with me. Ask me how I’m doing and be prepared for any combination of words tears and silence. Ask anyway. Hold my hand. Hug me like you mean it and don’t pull back until you’ve given me all you think I need. Rub my back. Sleep with me. Literally if you can, figuratively if you can’t. Include me in your prayers, I feel that warmth. Be my friend.

Is it that simple? I try in my own quiet way. Reaching out, but never feeling I have the right words. Peculiar problem for a writer. I gather up all the gumption I have left and ask for time. Usually, the people who know me best know what that means. But there are others. With whom I wish I were closer to…with whom I want to have deeper connections…But they don’t speak the language of my silences. So they miss the meaning in my words.

Still I reach. And on nights like tonight, human after human…the thing I remember most about depression was how isolated it made you feel. Everyone felt so far from reach, like you could see and hear everyone around you but you just couldn’t touch them. As if you were enclosed in thick glass. It was sadistic. To reach every time sharply shooting your hand outward towards an open hand only to have your knuckles cracked by the pane.

But I relied on the connections I do have. In my way, I gave my Hurt voice. I still struggle to share. Be bare. To not just name it and speak of it as separate from me but to own it as a part of me, and squared up. Because I can’t say what I need, I simply asked for time and maybe that IS exactly what I need. Intentional, quality time.

Even more truth telling

I was having a conversation with Alex this morning and we were talking about going to the gym. I’d shared with her my feelings and we talked about how no matter your size or physical ability, the gym can be an extremely vulnerable place. As we came to the mutual conclusion that people very well may judge, I shared with her that I was getting over being anything other than what I was in that moment.

So, that means if I’m terrified to step foot in the gym, I show up that day terrified. And if I tremble, I tremble. If I cry, I cry.  What I’ve learned more than anything from this blog is that people respond favorably to authenticity.  It is what all my favorite bloggers, writers, artists have in common. They have carved out some space and through some medium they have managed to communicate their truth clearly and courageously.

speak+the+truthIt has been my greatest lesson of 2014: honesty.  In the beginning of the year when I told P2AD that I couldn’t do it anymore it changed so much. I lost a very dear relationship and in some ways I lost an image of myself I’d been holding for nearly 20 years. Because of who I thought I had to be in relationship with him, I refused to own all the parts of myself, because some wouldn’t fit. There wasn’t enough room, enough air for both of us to fully breathe. And when I was honest with myself and with him I let go and I took my very first deep breath in a long time.

The tailspin of that loss caused my work to suffer. I wasn’t completing assignments on time or at all. I was giving the bare minimum but it was genuinely as much as I could do because I was so checked-out. I had to be honest with my professors. I had to tell them where I was, and I had to ask for more time. I had to or I was going to have serious repercussions for my actions and inactions.

When it came time move, I was overwhelmed by the cost of everything. Deposits, furniture, lights cable, and all of this while my teaching contract was ending and I was heading home for my sister’s graduation. I had to just be honest. Told my roommate what was going on so she could understand my frustration and my hesitation. Then I told someone who could help and I got my finances fixed.

Little did I know my finances would take a dive over the summer. Things out of my control and things I couldn’t help. I struggled and held it in and I tried to keep it together for months. Summer bled into fall and I finally reached the point where I told my friends what was happening. Not for help with the solution but because it was killing me to just be struggling, feeling hopeless and unsupported. Well, I wasn’t receiving support because no one knew I needed it!

They all serve as examples, but they happened one after the other in quick succession and from it I’ve taken the lesson that you cannot be afraid of your truth. Repeat:

YOU CANNOT BE AFRAID OF YOUR TRUTH.

Further, you cannot be afraid to ask for what you need. Asking for help has always made me feel gross, for lack of a better term. I feel irresponsible, I feel incapable, I feel like I should know better, and more than all this, I feel other people think these things of me. If they do, they never say so.

I believe it was time to begin to tell a different story.  That it is perfectly okay to need. That is perfectly okay to struggle, in fact we are all struggling with something.  That it is perfectly okay to not know. That is is perfectly acceptable to make a mistake. To fall down, to cry, to hurt, to bleed to scream, to take your time getting up and to ask for a hand to hold for a while. It is okay to ask people to give you time. It is okay to let go of the people who cannot, trust that it has little to do with you and more to do with them. Similarly, it is okay to tell someone their time is up with you. I am of the opinion that people may not like the truth, they may be frustrated by it, they may hurt as a result of it, but when the dust settles, they are deeply appreciative for it.  Because truth makes room for other truth.  It allows for all of us to show up in a more authentic way.

My truths have put me through the ringer this year. I’ve wondered if I’ll find a life partner who can accommodate and appreciate all of me. I’ve wondered how I can balance both financial stability fulfilling purpose. I’ve wondered how I can own temporary inabilities without incorporating them into permanent states of being. There will always be questions. There will always be more to unearth, but because I am always becoming.

And honestly, it is a privilege to be doing so.

Last Night a DJ Saved My Dissertation

The entire room felt like one massive, united tribe of thousands of people, and the DJ was the tribal leader of the group. People weren’t dancing to the music so much as the music seemed like it was simply moving through everyone. The steady wordless electronic beats were the unifying heartbeats that synchronized the crowd. It was as if the existence of individual consciousness had disappeared and been replaced by a single unifying group consciousness, the same way a flock of birds might seem like a single entity instead of a collection of individual birds. Everyone in the warehouse had a shared purpose. We were all contributors to the collective rave experience.
~Tony Hsieh “Delivering Happiness” 

I’d read these words sometime last year and highlighted them to remind myself to share them with my Work Wife. I knew she attended raves, and I wanted to know if this experience that Tony described was what she felt, too.  When I asked her, she confirmed and ever since then I’ve wanted to attend a rave. Last night I did.

A short remark before I continue, people are often surprised at the things that I get into.  My thought now, and for most of my life has been to just have fun and never be afraid to try new things.  Of course there are things that I do not like or that do not sound appealing to me (sky diving), but more often than not I believe in the fun of the adventure and a life free of what-ifs.

So, last night Work Wife (WW), her husband and friends and I went to see Armin Van Buuren here in San Diego.  I was dressed like a highlighter in bright neon workout clothes because she told me to dress bright and light–as in light fabrics because with so many people dancing it can get hot.  We arrived at the concert at about 8, and for the next five hours were treated to lights, smoke, acrobatics, singing, dancing, live musicians, confetti, and of course, really really good music.  I’ve told WW previously about my ability to see people’s auras and colors in music.  There was a moment last night when I sat down and just closed my eyes. She asked me if I was too hot or needed anything and I told her no I was fine but I could see better with my eyes closed. I tried to describe to her the way all the colors looked to me but nothing I said could quite paint the picture. It was amazing, and the words Tony used, or that I would use to describe the experience fall daftly short to even begin to explain.

I texted a friend of mine who has been to raves and told him that it was easily one of the best things I’ve ever experienced in my life, and asked him why he never told me about them before.  He messaged me back and simply said, “Its a total different experience, right?” It is.  When I woke up this morning I was still so curious about what I’d experienced the night before. What was that? It was beautiful, whatever it was, but what was it?  It was then that I went back to my copy of Delivering Happiness and looked for Tony’s words to see if I could find my own truth hidden in them. It was exactly it.  It’s a shame that raves get this stigma of drugs and out of control behavior, because it was so much more than that. It was, I thought, exactly what I’ve been trying to describe in my dissertation.

Connection…drafting…murmuration…movement…one purpose…deference to the collective…this was it. It was the experience of being at a rave but in a classroom.  How do we get that? How can we foster that? What do we call that so we can ask for it specifically?  My synapses were firing all over the place lighting up connections between this theory and that study. It was like a laser light show of thought.   I went straight to my computer and began typing. I didn’t stop for two hours.

 

“Is a wink like a poke?” Mis-Adventures in Online Dating

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 12.55.02 PMI hesitate to even write this post because I am sure it will garner much more attention than I typically desire. But admittedly, I need some affirmation that I am not, in fact, crazy and irrational. And because I am somewhat a millennial I look for validation in my cohort of online stranger besties, i.e. you–the reader.

For the past month or so I’ve been giving online dating a sincere effort.  What does that mean? It means I made a profile with actual pictures and actual words that actually describe me and well…here’s what happened:

Guy #1–> one “drink thing” (insert GIF and Carrie and Charlotte trying to decipher whether or not drinks count as a date–according to me, they do not). He suggests an actual dinner date for friday (date night, woo!) then does not call to confirm by wednesday.  Then on the night of the date he is nowhere to be found.  Long story short, he refers to himself as my boyfriend (WTF!?) and suggests that dating other men is cheating.  Result: Blocked on dating site and iPhone.

Guy #2–> Obsessed with himself, thought Dave and Busters was a “nice restaurant”. No dinner, just drinks of which I paid for my own because he was late.  Horrible kisser. Nuff said. Result: Blocked on dating site and iPhone.

Guy #3–> Guy3 was actually really nice. He was just older. I mean I knew he was older when we “met” online but I didn’t know he would feel older. He mentioned buying a second home on a whim, I told him I’d done the same thing at Target earlier with a pair of strappy flat sandals.  He smiled, I cringed.  Result: Thoughtful email explaining my feelings, and we peacefully parted ways the way God and Al Gore intended when he invented the internet.

Guys 4-8–> all pretended to want to date but when we actually talked, it was all about… well not dating. I am all for people being sexually liberated and free, and there is nothing wrong with soliciting a partner who is interested in the same things. HOWEVER, do not try to convince me I want a sexual relationship when I really want sushi and sake.  Say what you mean and mean what you say. Result: Inappropriate photos forwarded to friends for laughter, blocked on dating site and iPhone.

Then I thought, maybe it’s because I’m using a free site. Perhaps, if I choose a paid site with a good reputation and commercials with love songs in them, I will have better luck. Wrong. First of all, most of the people on the paid site are on the free site and fall into Guys 4-8 category.  Next, because it’s a paid site I feel the need to step my profile game up and write more words that describe me well.  Then there’s the issue of how honest to be…

Dear Sirs,

I have an aversion to chain smoking, and chain restaurants.  I think coffee dates are weird, and hiking is something you do with people you already know. My preference would be to not be on a lonely mountain trail, tired and dirty with a complete stranger.  I haven’t read that book you keep saying changed your life because I’m a doctoral student and pleasure reading is foreign to me. I don’t like to surf, ski, or anything in the Pacific ocean because it is cold and not so pacific. You laughingly joke with me about how [insert inferior football conference] is better than the SEC and I assure you when I do not laugh, I am looking for an eject button. I am not a good sport, but at least I am self aware.  I believe it is weird to text someone you don’t know. If we’re not having dinner it is not a date, and if you expect me to pay, we’re friends. I talk to my best friend everyday, I hate voicemails, I always have about 17 pens in my purse, and I’d rather go do a meal than make it. Oh and I probably drink too often, but never too much. Wine is practically necessary at this stage in my life.

Sincerely,
Jess

Like is that appropriate? Because that’s me…
I am certainly interested to see what happens moving forward. If nothing ever happens, then I guess I can say I at least got a blog post out of it.

Love and the woman I am

I knew I was different when I asked you to share the sky with me.

I had a thought the the other night, one I’ll reserve from saying outright because despite my own belief that this is my personal private journal, I know many people read it. Anyway I had a thought which fundamentally changed the way that I look at myself. In a great way.

I think it began last week at yoga. I was on my mat struggling though poses, and willing myself to just stay with it. I hate downward dog. For many reasons but mostly because it’s supposed to be a resting position and it instead feels like my body is going to implode from all the work I’m doing.

I was shaking and went to my knees and into child’s pose. But every time downward dog came up, I would try again. Even if I only held it for a few seconds. And I made an important decision: that a few seconds was enough. I also, at the end of class right before corpse pose, told myself I loved myself. And I meant it. I love and appreciate who I am and I know and respect who I am not. I felt a great peace in both speaking and receiving that message.

Then Saturday night I asked myself if this person I believed so ardently was me, was really me? I was telling myself a story about having to have a certain type of life and certain type if career and really income. And I looked at it in a totally new way. And I asked myself why not THIS? Swirling the decision around in my mind like red wine in a glass. I breathed it in and felt the rich full bodied flavor of the consideration. It was sound. It felt good.

20140310-072623.jpgImmediately after liking the thought I said, “Wow! You have NEVER thought that before.” It felt impossible. It felt improbable. It felt like someone other than me. But in coming to terms with myself, I realize that it is a part of me. A part. As is independence, ambition, competence, humility, and love. Love is a big part. And I want to be a woman who loves.

That was the theme from the women’s retreat I got to attend. “Let us be women who love.” And why not? I want to live a life that maximizes the amount of love in the world. Not just for me but for others as well. So if that means entertaining new thoughts; being a new and improved (honored and accepted) version of you, then that’s what it means.

If we’re being (way too) honest…

A conversation between one of my very best friends and I. I often get told as a writer I write my heart here on this blog…but the truth is I do not want to only write it here. I want to live it always and this is a perfect example of being the type of person in real life that I am on the pages.  I have a-ha moments. I admit my mistakes. I fall down and get up again and sometimes it takes me a while.  I need help from those around me but I keep a good team. This is evidence. 

KSO: how goes it?

Jessica Williams: today? Great. Yesterday was not so great. It was just one of those days….I was feeling sad and rejected and hurt and all the things. I just wanted to NOT feel all that stuff. But am very proud of myself, I didn’t drink, smoke, have sex, spend money or any other numbing behaviors. I just sat on my couch watching RomComs and crying.

KSO: oh man! :( ese no bueno

Jessica Williams: Eh…it goes in waves. slooooowly getting over the whole [P2AD] thing.

KSO: yeah it definitely is not going to be a one day or a few day thing when you all had such a long history.  Patience sucks but they do say its a virtue, its a building process.  You are being wonderfully crafted and sculpted by God. I think its amazingly fantastic :) that is when you know something good is in store for you, when you are at that stage and you can see, hear, sense, and almost taste the signs of God’s wonder.  It’s a difficult state but a good state to be in all at the same time to have that moment of continual clarity…to me, it is a rush like none other

Jessica Williams: I feel like…IDK I woke up yesterday with absolute clarity that those things didn’t work out because they were not supposed to. That wasn’t the plan for me and I’m like okay but….what is?!?!

KSO: the wait!

Jessica Williams: I could have been more okay with waiting if I hadn’t just got slapped with cold ice water a month ago.  And I know THAT was about me listening and trusting AND putting myself out there. Because I typically do not do that. I have total faith that what happened should have. Like on one hand I’m at peace, but it does not change the emotional backlash. Well really…just a really hurt ego.

KSO: it does not, but soon you will have whole peace instead of just one hand of it :)

Jessica Williams: I patiently await it…I was thinking about it yesterday talking [a] group of girlfriends…when you love someone friend, BF/GF/ etc. its because they see in you what you see in yourself. They love the you, you feel you are. So…then in the situation of [P2AD] I thought he loved that me and when everything happened I was left questioning who I was in some respect. It was immediately dismissed or at least combated internally because I am pretty self aware. But never the less it introduced doubt into a stable system.

KSO: well you already know you just have to move past it and we cannot say whether he does not love you or not, that would be speculation. for all we know, he is going through his own wall of hurt, pain, shame, guilt and he is having a hard time expressing it to even the people that he does love that does not reflect on you that is an issue he would have to deal with

Jessica Williams: yes, but you know….original sin was trying to assuage curiosity. I had to understand it to move through it. I can forgive his actions but I won’t forget the effect that the consequences of his actions had on me. And I don’t choose to ever call myself into question again.

KSO: undoubtedly i do not think that is something to forgive i mean forget, forgiving is another story, but i do not think his actions or inactions can be forgettable.  I dont want you to harbor unforgiveness and let it eat away at you because of his (in)actions or response. That hurts you, not him

Jessica Williams: No, and that’s what makes this hard. And tricky to navigate. As bad of a day yesterday was, I needed yesterday to get me to that point of clarity.

KSO: i know we on the same page here lol. but in case, you missed some small facet or you just do not mind hearing your thoughts outwardly from someone else, i will happily say them to you

Jessica Williams: haha, no its a good thing. I’m probably about to blog this conversation…because its just that good.

KSO: lol blog away. your blog helps so many others to receive that same clarity
Jessica Williams: I’ve realized that. Also, in terms of that and just thinking future I’ve been quietly praying for more exposure. Something that used to terrify me previously.

 KSO: good. God is working. You are healing.  I am blessed to be a part of the process and be with you as you go through it.

And while it came to no resolution, it never does because that is life. 

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Woman as only I mean it

I was sifting through tumblr wasting time until sleep caught me when I ran across the following quote: “Life is too short for shitty sex and bad relationships. So go find someone who fucks you right and treats you how you deserve to be treated.” I immediately reblogged it grateful that my Tumblr which is largely unfollowed by anyone I actually know is still a space where I feel free to express all parts of myself. As I contemplated tweeting the quote I was hit with the notion of, “well who follows me?” Professionally, personally I want to be cognizant of how I say things and what I say. And in the same moment of consideration I thought how stifling. And so I tweeted it. And here I am writing about it in a blog post that will later be published to facebook.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Beyoncé Grammy performance and the backlash she received over being so openly sexual. Since when is it anti-feminist to be a sexual being? Isn’t that the exact point of the feminist movement? So that women get to make their own definitions of self? I’m aware of the arguments that say well women fought so hard for us to be so much more than sexual beings for the pleasure of men. Well, and does that mean I can NEVER be a sexual being for MY man without derailing years of sorority? I don’t find myself in defense of Beyoncé but certainly of her right to be whatever the hell she wants to be as an artist and as a woman. I want the same for myself.

I think so many people are uncomfortable with their own sexual selves that the projection of sexual images upsets them to no end. We can’t stand to look at the parts of ourselves in others we openly intrapersonally ignore. So how does that become my problem?

I have to do constant work around this. I recently had someone tell me after reading my blog and then meeting me in person their experience of me did not match my online presence. And I apologized that her experience of me was different than she expected. But the more it sat with me the more I wondered, why am I apologizing? How much is me and how much was their own projections into the situation? And even if it were me, even if on that day in that moment I was the biggest bitch of the west, is that cause to apologize? That was me in that moment. I am allowed to be sad. Mad. Angry. Cold. Dismissive. Stoic. Introspective. Allusive. Or whatever else, right? And it’s not about right or wrong it’s about understanding that however you treat people has a consequence. I genuinely didn’t mean to treat them poorly (if in fact I did which I did not recall). But it’s about that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. But maybe I’m okay with that and whatever it might mean. It’s really no ones call but my own.

I just find myself really calling into question so many of the rules and pictures I used to hold so sacred. I lived and died by precedence and tradition, Shoulds and supposed-tos. And now it’s just not that cut and dry. I write “woman” in my own handwriting and it means exactly what I mean it to. Nothing more or less. I define it myself and others opinion of me is of little concern to me, in that regard. I care immensely about those closest to me and how my actions affect them and how my actions affect my greater global community. But I simply cannot live in fear of disappointing, or in hopes of being affirmed. I’m learning to affirm myself.

20140202-030314.jpgThere’s a line in Perks of Being a Wallflower, “I would die for you, but I won’t live for you.” It’s kind of like that. So for me it means talking about sex. And emotions. And love. And sometimes not talking at all. My womanness is swollen with pride she stores in her hips and thighs. I don’t need to apologize for that. I don’t need to feel ashamed of a need or want to be touched, cared for, adorned, or taken care of be it sexually spiritually emotionally all of the above or otherwise. I read this article yesterday titled, “All I really need is a good f*ck and someone to pick me up at the airport.” It was satirical yet honest and I wanted to share it but felt the shame pour over me as I considered what other people would think about me reading such things. I shared it with a few friends but felt disappointed in my inability to shake the Shoulds. Who is this person I’m supposed to be? What ideals am I living up to? Who am I really disappointing by silencing myself? This is who I am. Let me be her. All of here. Let me carry her where ever I should go.

If I’m making my own rules, my own path, my own way then let it start with that. No apologies. I’m tired of being sorry for shit I’m not sorry for. I’ve been telling the truth, my truth, more than ever lately. As I grow my evolution has been such a shedding. I don’t feel the same pull to protect myself. I feel more secure in who I am and strong enough to handle the consequences of my actions. And more than that, I want people around me who understand that, who understand that I love them but I love me, too. And who, in some way, are doing the same things: Working. Living. And throwing Emily Post out the damn window. Looking for joy in small cracks, dancing when the mood strikes, and having sex when the itch needs to be scratched.

And doing so without apology.

Timing and Acknowledgement

Did you know when you started out on your [journey] what your [story] would soon become? Someone asked Liz Gilbert this question of her famous adventure-in-soul-searching book, Eat Pray Love, to which she said, “what sane person could have ever imagined such a thing?!”

It got me to thinking about beginnings. When was it, exactly, that I started on my journey? Was it when I left Nashville? Arguably the decision to move home instead of drink myself into an oblivion was definitely a turning point and a new start. Or was it when I moved to San Diego? Life has been a roller-coaster ride of surprises since I’ve been here. I’ve grown–both upwards into the light and also down into the earth. But perhaps neither of these is the beginning and my great work has yet to begin.

Of course, that’s simply not true. Even EPL began before it began. In a sense, we are always living our stories. Sometimes the past is the only way we can contextually make sense of the present…which as we make meaning of it, is passed.

Sometimes when a moment is happening, you get a sense that it means something much larger than the right now. I felt that way the first time I met E, or RKB. Or even the minor players and some friends. Standing in the “now” it feels as if past present and future have all aligned and these people fit into your life in a way that seems space was carved for them; and it was.

I feel as though when I make sincere requests to God, my prayers are answered. Often tenfold. Lately, I’ve found myself praying for presence. For the ability to, when faced with an inconvenient truth, not bolt and dive head-first into numbing activities. Give me the ability to stay and endure. Meredith said last night, “the only way out is through.” How absolutely astute, and sure I’ve heard it before but something about hearing it at that moment on that day made it a little more true than previously.

Ash once told me the greatest advice she ever got was, ” Right guy, wrong time; wrong guy.” It a greater scope I take it to mean that, the universe–in all of its infinity and wonder–does not nor will it ever do “almost”. Natures timing is perfect. Things bloom when they are supposed to, die when it’s time, and are nourished all the days of their life, all things considered. Why should we be different?

Are we?

imageThat’s the thing about timing, though. We sometimes get on our ownand forget that we are not separate from nature, but very much a part of it. We bloom when we are supposed to, die when it’s time and are nourished all the days of our life, all things considered. Right now, when I asked myself where I was in that I quickly heard myself say, you are opening. If I close my eyes I can see it, myself. A little bud still green at the base but whose petals are ready to bask in warm sunshine and be wet with falling rain.

And who knows whether my great story will be about the beginning, the middle, or the end? I certainly do not. I know that it will arrive when it’s time. And I will not ignore it, I will sit down and give it proper attention. I will write until the ending arrives. But for now, I suppose, I am just living the prologue.

Midnight in Paris, she goes.

At night my mind always wanders. Sometimes to home, sometimes backwards, lately its been to Paris.image

I was thinking about a quote I saw on Pinterest, it took me to springtime in Paris. I could feel the green beneath my legs as I sit stretched out on the earth, legs crossed at the ankle in cute flats purchased specifically for the occasion. I held my head back and closed my eyes as I faced the sun remembering back to the night when this was dream. I thanked God for the moment and inhaled deeply filling myself with the sweet Parisian air.

I never wanted to visit Paris before the movie. But something about the idea of Hemingway, the Artists hill, music, poetry, and afternoon strolls in pouring rain sold me on the idea. The allure falling in love with ones self is tempting; can a city really teach you to love yourself? I believe that Jamaica showed me all of myself. I now want to spend time becoming intimate with the parts recently unearthed, beginning with confronting a lot of lies.

I told myself all kinds of untruths, some blatant and some implied. Actually most were implied, which made it that much harder to really come to terms with them. The things that I used to believe about myself kept me stuck in a mold of myself that I have already outgrown. I understand that who I am is not what I look like, who I love, or who I call a friend. I know it, and still everyday it is work to erase those old ways of operating, forgiving myself for any scars left behind.

The tricky thing about it all is…when you’ve spent a really (really) long time believing yourself to be unworthy of life’s greatest joys, when its sitting right in front of you ready for the taking, all you can hear in your head is, “Who do you think you are?” It stifles your audacity immediately. But I know something different now. I know that God did not create me for mediocrity. I know that my life is not about almosts and if onlys. I know that the power in my voice is no coincidence, and that–in fact– coincidence is something doubt cooked up to combat blind faith. I used to FEEL bigger than my body, destined for a spectacular life but unsure about the how or why or when. Now, I KNOW my expanse is infinite and realize the value of being open and staying true to Self. I’ve had such an urge to reach out. To write more, be ever more all in, spread my site and share it more openly. I’ve wanted to start working on incorporating my story into that which will be my dissertation. I’ve been “in the lab” so to speak, and wanting to indulge in things that nourish me: meditation, wiring, vision boards, positive programming, books, blogs, and messages that uplift. It is like a high…

There are still things I want. People I want. Places and feelings and events I long to be part of. I think about Aang, when he debated between detaching from Katara or risk being disconnected from the spiritual world. It is really really (really) hard to make that decision. Another lie I’ve had to surrender is that its either/or. For Aang when he made the choice and he chose spirit, love came…after he realized his own potential. I think that’s a good lesson for me right now. First things always first, and that to everything there is a season, and a time and a purpose.

And so Paris…it will be the love letter I write to myself. The one I used to think would come when I was driving that black on black SUV with my hair done in the cute, tailored outfit and strappy stilettos. No, I deserve it now. To me from me. There is all the time in the world for “us” but right now…I choose another kind of love.

Red Nails

When I was little my aunts and grandmothers told me that red nails were not for little girls, they were for grown women. I suppose I took red make-up in general to then be synonymous of womanhood. Like once a girl was ready to embrace being a W-O-M-A-N than then she could wear the color red. Maybe its why on days, like today, when I feel whole and womanly I reach for lipstick in the reddest red.

I’ve always thought the sexiest outfits a woman can wear are one of two things: a fitted white tee-shirt and blue jeans, or a knee-length little black dress. Simple. Classic. And in many ways, are not about the outfits themselves at all. On my sassy days, I’d pair the outfit with red lips, as I did today, and feel complete. It wasn’t until today that I realized some of the meaning that might be held in my favorite things.

I’ve made it no secret, my desire for love. I was watching Iyanla, Fix My Life and she was speaking about weight. She said we put it on when we are protecting ourselves from something. Nothing new. But something repetitive as I’d read the sentiment in an instagram post a friend made about women holding weight in our midsections to protect our most precious treasures; our reproductive parts. When I heard Iyanla speak I remembered this and it dawned on me that as I’d just eaten McDonald’s for the 2nd time this week that there was something I needed to hear. Then she said, you are using other people to make you feel good about you…you can’t do that!

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I do that. In a lot of ways, in the past it’d been far more destructive more…needy. I can see it now…here. For as much as I don’t write for comments in the comments section or likes on facebook…posting “selfies” and smiling when my number of “double taps” exceeds 30…I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel good. Damn good. And I think that makes me nervous. Because the taste of it is intoxicating and I can see myself reaching for it as I used to reach for….well many things that weren’t good for me or to me.

I went to a coaching session today and was asked, “And what if you are abandoned? Do you believe in you enough?” I answered that I better. But that word, abandoned. It felt like opening the door on a freezing cold morning. My breath escaped me completely. And in my heart of hearts, really in the core of me…which rests in that midsection I’ve protected so well (haha) I knew I did. Because even when I let go of people, I do so holding on to something else far greater than myself. I may get left, and I may feel lonely…but I am never alone. And I recalled that in the moments when I’m trusting, I never even feel alone. I feel full. And whole. And like a woman. Like a mother.

I can’t wait to have a daughter. To share with her all the power she holds as a woman. The power I, for many years, believed existed solely in my physical being. Red nails, red lips, slim waist and a voluptuous body…my womanhood is not limited to those things. And I have arrived at the place where I can say I love women. I love the company of women, I love being a woman, I believe us to be beautiful, magical, strong, and courageous beings. The things that make us us…well I was, honestly, being dated and chauvanistic. Physical beauty or the elements thereof is not where my womanhood begins and it certainly is not where it ends. It is about creation. Innovation. Listening to intuition and trusting yourself. It is about dancing and movement and connection. It is about sensuality and sexuality braided together with an unshakable knowledge of self. That’s red. That’s womanhood. Or at least what I know of it to date.