Happy Black History Month! I know I’m a bit late with this post, but I’ve been trying to get back on track with my writing and filming schedule (no easy feat, but I’m getting there!)
I posted a video on my YouTube channel last week, discussing the Black authors that I will be reading this month (I originally had five hardback and paperback books, but also added some digital books to the mix, just in case I finished before the end of the month). I’m focusing on reading up on a few different topics (not just self help!) and branching beyond American-centered stories, which is new for me.
Here is my book list for the month: I’m looking forward to diving into these.
It wouldn’t be my book list is I didn’t include at least one self-help/advice book. Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu promises to show me how to achieve more while doing less. Less effort, more results? Sign me up!
The next two books are about the history of Black entertainment in the US. The Power of Pride by Carole Marks and Diana Edkins spotlights the superstars of the Harlem Renaissance, including some lesser-known luminaries of note. Then, I’ll be enjoying Brown Sugar by Donald Bogle which focuses on Black actresses, singers and other entertainers from the 1920s to 1970s. I’m really excited for both of these books, since I’m in love with all things vintage.
Finally, I have one more book that made it onto my back-up list: Clay’s Ark by Octavia Butler (I previously read Wild Seed and Mind of My Mind, in this set: “Seed to Harvest: The Patternist Series“). As a huge Octavia Butler fan (I posted about her ages ago), I’ve been eager to get back into reading her books, and Clay’s Ark was next on my list. And, since March is Women’s History month, I can always continue my reading streak and carry this book and the Toni Morrison one into the next month, if I run out of time in February.
That’s my reading list for the month: I’m looking forward to each of these! Do you have any books you’re reading this month? I’d love to hear all about them in the comments below. Also, here’s my YouTube video, discussing these books a bit more:
Today, I’m doing a reblog of a post that I released 9 (!) years ago, almost to the day (originally posted August 11, 2012). I remember writing it, but I honestly couldn’t remember what I wrote! So it was fun to read through my old musings. I didn’t bother to edit it, since the typos and grammar errors I noted were minimal. So here you go: my guide to severing ties and moving on. Enjoy!
“Last July, I wrote a post about inconsiderate people, and different tactics for dealing with them. After giving people some time to correct course, you may find it necessary to cut the person loose. I don’t particularly enjoy severing ties with people, but SELF-PRESERVATION comes above all else. In my case, “self” extends to those that I love and want to protect from inconsiderate individuals. There is NO ONE that I will allow to mistreat me. Please do not misunderstand me: there are people that are supposed to love you, that can, and will, mistreat you, ignore your concerns, and regard you with little respect.
What does it take to cut someone loose? You must first decide to do it. You can’t simply talk about it: in fact, I recommend you stop talking about it. At the point where severing ties becomes necessary, you’re probably tired of talking. I don’t recommend that you talk until you are weary, but if the relationship means enough to you, you’ve probably tried to talk and mend/correct things until you are blue in the face. Save your energy, and decide to just let the person go.
Eliminate contact with the individual. No more texting, phone calls, emails, letters, or homing pigeons LOL! Don’t announce to the person that you are ceasing contact with them: simply do it. If you feel compelled to tell someone “I’m cutting you off” then you probably haven’t made a firm decision to get rid of the individual. Giving an inconsiderate person a goodbye speech only opens the door for more dialogue, delay in correcting action, and more time to HURT YOU. So close the door, do it quietly, and deadbolt it.
I know that *someone* will want to do the “cutting you off” speech. If it gives you a feeling of closure, then go for it. I personally feel that true closure comes from making a decision and sticking to it, and having the satisfaction of knowing that the other person didn’t see it coming, nor do they know all the details behind your decision. But if finale speeches are your thing, then go ahead and do you. The best way to do it is to lower the boom, while ensuring that the other person CANNOT RESPOND TO YOU. If that means blocking a few phone numbers, sending emails to the junk folder automatically, and blocking them on all forms of social media, so be it. The last thing that you want is an open door; open doors only lead to more suffering.
Now that the door is closed and a particular person is cut off, what do you do? MOVE AHEAD. Don’t dwell on your decision: when you find yourself regretting your actions, take time to remember all of the things that preceded your decision. Hopefully, you did not cut someone off hastily. More than likely, however, you have given the person adequate time and warning to correct course, yet they insist on staying the same. When you start regretting the decision to move on, you must not doubt yourself! If your life and routine feel weird after removing certain people, it’s probably because you’ve become accustomed to the dysfunctional relationship. You probably aren’t missing that person, you are just feeling awkward because you are readjusting to normal living.
Removing inconsiderate people from your life is a lot like having sea legs. After spending some time on a boat, you may feel weird when you start walking on dry land again. But the problem isn’t the ground that you stand on: it’s the abnormal condition (walking on a sea vessel) to which your body got adjusted. You’ve had to learn to keep your balance in a naturally unbalanced environment; likewise, dealing with inconsiderate people can cause you to adapt to their off-kilter ways. But, just like sea legs, you will adjust to normal living again- in time. The key is to keep moving on dry land, or, in the case of someone post-cutoff, immerse yourself in normal living.
Immersion into a normal lifestyle is the key to moving on after severing ties. But how is this done? For a time, avoid the places, people, and activities that remind you of that individual. Did you two enjoy a particular restaurant, entertainment venue or activity? Now is the time to stop going, at least until you can go without reminiscing over the relationship. Did you two have mutual friends? You may even want to avoid them for a spell. Of course, you may want to stay in touch with any of your mutual friends that are mature enough to neither take sides nor do anything that will distract you from your goal of eliminating the toxic person.
Get involved in any activity that will keep you from thinking too much about the person that you cut off. This *could* mean throwing yourself into your work, if you find that you are just as or more productive than before. But don’t get absorbed in work if you find it draining or depressing. Now is the time to meet new people, do new things, and get caught up in a whirlwind of enjoyable activity. Make plans to do all the things that you couldn’t enjoy with the inconsiderate person, or that you didn’t have time to do, because Mr. or Ms. Inconsiderate tied up your time, zapped your energy, criticized your dream, etc.,. Have you always wanted to travel out of the country? Start setting aside money for your trip (preferably in a bank account that you find it difficult to access.) Want to finish school? Sign up for a class and move heaven and earth to attend it regularly. Always been interested in painting? Buy some watercolors and a canvas and have at it.
One of my favorite recommendations for satisfying distraction is retail therapy (also known as shop ’til you drop LOL!) Retail therapy can be great and very satisfying (as well as distracting!) But if you indulge, keep all of your receipts and make sure that you know the store’s return policies. Last thing that you want to do is buy something far too expensive, something that you’ll NEVER enjoy, or a ‘spite” gift (i.e., buying red lipstick because the inconsiderate person hated it and thought that red lipstick looks cheap) just because you needed a pretty distraction. Buyer’s remorse is bad enough, but being able to undo the madness is golden. Done responsibly, retail therapy can be effective at helping you move ahead.
That’s just a few of my tips for severing ties and moving on. I hope you all enjoyed it. Please look out for more posts soon: my maternity leave will be over in a few weeks, so I got to get as much writing done as possible, before I’m thrown back into the working world LOL! Until next time …”
There’s nothing quite like reflecting and seeing how much you’ve grown over time. The older I get, the more I recognize the changes that have occurred in me, and how those changes have impacted my overall quality of life. I feel inspired to share some of those lessons that have come to me when I sit in silence and allow the highs – and lows – to show me what I need to master. Here are three of the hardest lessons that I’ve had to learn, and how I’ve approached and incorporated each of these lessons in my life.
The hardest lesson I’ve had to learn is the art of being gentle with myself. I often behave as if I have inexhaustible energy (despite having fibromyalgia for the past several years), so when I fall short of the goals that I’ve set for myself, I tend to beat myself up over it. My fibromyalgia diagnosis was a turning point for me, since I found myself physically unable to complete activities that I once enjoyed. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt over the fact that I had to rest more and stop feeling bad for it. For me, resting and being gentle with myself felt like laziness.
,This is something that I still struggle with, though mindfully practicing gentleness every day (slowing down and grounding myself daily, yoga, and gratitude practices help) has made it a little easier to accept that this is the path I have to walk, and there is no shame in it. I continue to indulge these practices, as well as listen to YouTube videos of people advocating for gentleness with ourselves, like Alina Alive, Sarah Armide and Ella Ringrose.
Another difficult lesson I am still working on is setting boundaries based on love, not anger. I think it’s normal to react to a hurtful or angering incident with the immediate establishment of a boundary. But I’ve been playing around with proactively setting boundaries based on loving myself and having love for others. This sounds a little contradictory, because in American culture, we’re taught that love is supposed to be without boundaries, all-absorbing and unconditional. However, I’ve found that the most loving that that we can do is have boundaries that maintain our dignity and sense of self.
Again, I struggle with this because I was previously more reactionary as a default. But, with time, I realized I feel more relieved by setting boundaries before offenses happen, as well as standing resolutely with my boundaries when others – even well-intended loved ones – attempt to encroach them. I have to practice this daily as part of my self care, since I have a few of my family members living with me. Some powerful tools that I’ve utilized on my journey have been the book Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, as well as YouTube videos published by Dr. Ramani Durvasula, Dr. Tracey Marks, and Irene Lyon.
The third hardest lesson for me to learn was learning to play, particularly, how to do so without guilt. Going back to the art of being gentle with myself, I had to learn ways to care for myself that would help me to heal my body and mind. For me, that involved recreating periods of joy in my life, and that meant I had to reflect back on the times when I was unabashedly, overwhelmingly happy. I found most of those times occurred during my childhood, so I had to start indulging myself and doing the things that made me happy again, which, for me, was playing games and creative expression.
The same guilt behind being gentle with myself crops up when I’m indulging in play. I have to continually remind myself that playing *is* productive, and more play = more creativity, which I can channel into other, more “adult” tasks. It has become easier for me to participate in play, because I have several younger children in my circle of family and friends, but I also have to indulge in play by myself, usually in the form of painting, making jewelry, working on a puzzle, or playing in makeup. I also find it helpful to connect with personalities that are light and playful, which is why I often go to YouTube for inspiration. I really enjoy play and fun from various perspectives, so I love videos by Mintfaery, Darling Desi and The Unexpected Gypsy.
Are there any difficult lessons that you’ve had to learn? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Also, if there’s any way that I can support you all, please feel free to leave a comment or send me a message. This journey through life isn’t an easy one: the most important thing we can do is share resources with each other, so that we can make our journeys a little smoother.
That, of course, is not the optimal plan for most authors. So I took some time to consider what I used to do when I needed inspiration. I went back to when I wrote my first book (which still hasn’t been fully edited!) and what I did to bust through those blocks that came up while writing. At that time, that was the only manuscript I was working on, so all of my energy and focus was directed onto it.
I recall going outside, taking a walk near my office, visiting museums, or sitting in parks, to help summon a muse or two. During a pandemic, some of these are not consistently available (museums may not be the most accessible places currently). Also, in the Northern Hemisphere, winter makes outdoor walks or times in public parks quite uncomfortable. So none of my usual options are optimal.
That being considered, what should a writer do when trying to summon the muses during the winter season during a pandemic?
Actually, I recommend everything that I have used to distract myself when I should be editing. Clean up your house, watch YouTube videos that have nothing to do with what you’re writing (I have a YouTube channel if you want to check it out), phone your friends, scroll through social media: basically, do anything you can to give your brain a break. Give yourself a firm time frame for indulging in non-writing activities, then relax a bit.
If self control is difficult for you, then go ahead outside and take a quick walk, even if that means trudging through the snow. It’s better to be temporarily chilled than perpetually distracted.
In all seriousness, the muses/inspiration you need is probably just waiting for you to take a break from feeling the pressure to be “inspired”. You ever notice how inspiration always strikes at the most random times? Yeah, it’s a thing. And it only happens when you aren’t “searching” for it.
If nothing else works, take a shower. Something about the water always makes me feel a little more brilliant (Dr. Henriette Anne Klauser discusses this in her book [and one of my favorites!] Write It Down, Make It Happen). The Archimedes Principle, a physical law that has proven consistent over time, legendarily happened when Archimedes was taking a public bath. Now, if he can get strokes of genius while being naked in front of his countrymen, imagine what you could do in the privacy of your own shower!
And if you need a serious kick in the pants, read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (I wrote about the book here). This book always makes me realize how much of Octavia Butler’s thoughts were true, as regards inspiration. She famously said, “First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.” Pressfield concurs with Butler, and while I always feel a little ashamed after thinking what I could have done differently as regards my writing, I always feel a little comforted when reading Pressfield’s work, as it reveals that, as far as authors go, I’m not the only slacker.
Do you all have any recommendations for getting inspired? I’d love to hear all about it!
Recently, the great actress and model Cicely Tyson passed at the age of 96. She lived a long, incredible life, and she got to see many amazing changes happen on the world scene. We mourn her passing but we celebrate her life and legacy!
Here are a few beautiful quotes from Ms. Tyson. May she continue to rest in peace!
Even though I adore ClubHouse and all sorts of webinars that are designed to be instructional, I am always looking for podcasts that offer something different and enlightening to me. In my recent search, I found something truly special.
My latest obsession right now is Archewell Audio, hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan Markle. I didn’t know how this would go, since I was unfamiliar with the couple outside of what has been presented by the media. The media in the US has been pretty kind to the couple, especially during 2020. Here are my thoughts on this first episode of the show.
Simple. Tasteful. Focused on others. HUMAN and HUMANE. I loved it. This initial podcast offers a platform to a variety of people that offered their reflections on 2020 and the pain, joy, and resilience they felt during the year. I love that the Sussexes served as kindhearted moderators, gently steering the conversation without “overtalking” the individuals interviewed. I love how the couple interjected extra praise for the more modest guests, taking every opportunity to elevate the individuals interviewed.
This podcast is, simply put, beautiful. I cannot wait until the next episode, so I can listen to it while taking a walk on my treadmill. This is wonderful and so well done. Great job, Harry and Meghan!
I wonder if the world’s population has ever been as ready for a year’s ending as we are right now. 2020 has been a momentous year: devastating at times, solemn at other times, and tremendously unpredictable throughout. There seems to be a collective desire to close this chapter and move cheerfully into the next.
While I am as eager as everyone else to end the year and turn the page, I am cautious to give this year end the graceful closure it deserves. If there is nothing else that can be said about 2020, it should be noted that this year has been highly instructive. I want to share some of the lessons that I learned in 2020.
Patience – I had to learn to be patient when it comes to my travel desires, as well as being patient as everyone around me adjusts to a “new normal”. Funny enough, I have always found it easier to be patient with other people than with myself. So when I occasionally get frustrated with myself (I’ve set multiple deadlines that I ended up having to adjust later), I try to remember to show myself a little bit of the patience that I usually reserve for others.
Love – I had high hopes for meeting a life partner this year. And while I did meet some interesting suitors, I didn’t find the romantic love that I desired. I did, however, experience an abundance of love in my life, in the form of family and friends that have been incredibly supportive and caring this year. I learned to look for authentic love in all its forms, and I wasn’t disappointed with what I found. I did not lack for love in 2020, and that was such a blessing.
Gratitude – As I expressed earlier this week, I am thankful for the fact that most of my family and friends were all healthy and happy this year. I am thankful for platforms like Zoom that made it possible for us to stay in contact while staying safe. I am thankful for having a beautiful home to quarantine in, within a safe and welcoming neighborhood. I honestly have so much to be grateful for, and I try my best to stay in the energy of gratitude.
Slow down – One of my key traits in years prior was to stay in constant motion. I loved to always have a project, or trip, or activity, to keep me occupied. This year has forced me to slow down in unexpected ways. I couldn’t just run to my favorite hangout spots: I actually had to stay home and learn to entertain myself in different ways. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m an introvert, so staying home wasn’t hard. But I was forced to really examine my life, resulting in the decision to slow down and really enjoy the small things.
Rest – I previously had the motto, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. I’m fortunate to have matured from this point of view, and now I value my sleep. What my body has needed this year has been intense self care, with sleep being a centerpiece of my care routine. So much of my health improvements has depended heavily upon my commitment to rest and restoration.
In conclusion, this is my way of blessing 2020 as I move forward to 2021. Thank you, 2020, for the lessons. I’ll never forget them.
As you all recall, Toni Morrison was the subject of a Words of Wisdom post from July 2018. In that post, I shared some of my favorite quotes from her, and I commented on how her words sweep me up every time I open one of her novels. Her encouragement, to write the book that we want to read, is one of my biggest inspirations behind my own writing practice.
It broke my heart to hear that she became an ancestor on August 5, 2019. As much as it hurt to know that I’d never be able to tell her, face to face, how much I love her writings, I believe that she had done her work, and deserves her rest. So may she continue to rest, and may her words continue to inspire us to be better versions of our selves.
If you aren’t already familiar, now would be a fantastic time to acquaint yourself with some of Ms. Morrison’s work. My favorite is probably Sula, but The Bluest Eye and Beloved are also fantastic reads. Her last novel, God Help the Child, has gotten great reviews (I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list).
“Where there is woman, there is magic.” – Ntozake Shange
The tragic recent passing of playwright and poet Ntozake Shange inspired me to write this post. Shange’s death in October 2018 both surprised and saddened me. I had no idea that she had been ill for over a decade, after experiencing a series of strokes. I take comfort in knowing that her words are immortal and will continue to touch hearts and minds for time immemorial.
I became familiar with Shange’s work nearly ten years ago, after seeing the live-action movie “ For Colored Girls”, directed by Tyler Perry. While I wasn’t particularly impressed with the movie (the original work was a stage play and I feel is best experienced through life theater), I fell in love with the words and stories being told by Shange.
The most inspirational part of Shange’s legacy is the insistence upon creating her own identity. From changing her legal name to aiming to craft what she described as a “special aesthetic” for black women, she continued to form her own identity in a world that’s operates upon putting minorities into fixed boxes. Even for her most famous work, for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf, Shange had to craft new language to describe what she created. She titled her work a choreopoem, which merged music, poetry, prose, dance, and song in an innovating and inspiring way.
I don’t want to belabor this post with overanalyzing Shange’s incredible literary career and legacy. I’d much prefer that you all learn more about her for yourselves. I’m going to add a couple of links from YouTube for your enjoyment. And, in her memory, take some time today to create something new. Your soul will thank you for it.
I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!
(photos courtesy of QuoteParrot, AZQuotes and TheQuotesIn)
It’s a new dawn/ It’s a new day/ It’s a new life/ For me/ And I’m feeling good – Nina Simone
Happy Friday friends! I hope that you all have had a stress-free and enjoyable week. I’m looking forward to this weekend, despite a forecast indicating snow showers to strike in the Mid-Atlantic region. I’m no fan of the cold, but it’ll be nice to stay in and watch the snowfall.
The Words of Wisdom today will be coming from none other than Eunice Kathleen Waymon, better known as the incomparable Nina Simone. Her music, that she described as black classical music, is full of passion, wisdom, pain, and love.
I first became acquainted with Simone’s music in 2010. I was encouraged to listen to her after an acquaintance noted that I dressed (at that time) similarly to Simone. With my naturally curly-kinky hair, brown skin, and penchant for African inspired fashions, I probably looked a lot more like Simone than I do currently. I purchased the digital version of The Lady has the Blues to acquaint myself with her work. I found myself drawn into Simone’s incredible piano playing ability, but I stayed for her soulful lyrics.
The album that started my love of Ms. Simone
I researched Simone’s history to learn more about the woman behind these poignant songs. What I learned about her was heartbreaking. Simone was denied admission to the musical program that she dreamed of attending. She had unhappy romantic relationships, which were likely complicated by her own mental health issues (she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder). While critically-acclaimed and publicly loved, she suffered indescribable pain behind closed doors. This pain is what we bear witness to when listening to her music.
But, despite the painful lyrics, there is a lot of beauty in Simone’s work. More importantly, she left a legacy of activism through her art. She actively sought to achieve her own personal peace while on Earth (which is more than most people can say). Relocating abroad, away from a country that had scarred her with its racism and bigotry, was critical for her self care. She passed while living in France at the age of 70. May she continue to rest in peace. And may we all enjoy her impressive ouevre and learn from her life. The world didn’t deserve Nina Simone, but I’m glad that she lived her life unapologetically and left such an amazing example for us today.
That’s all for this week loves. I hope that you all have a cozy and comfortable weekend and I will talk to you all on Monday. Take care!
(Photos courtesy of AZ Quotes, For Harriet, Women’s Tea Time, and Pinterest)