The week was a rough one. Gotta learn to discipline myself to create consistent and effective boundaries. Detach. Disconnect. Unplug, and reboot the bad mamma jamma within. Otherwise, I push so hard the weekend becomes about being comatose, not enjoying my family, my city, or my friends. I spend time and intention adding fly, flattering outfits to my wardrobe. But my ass goes so hard I rarely get to wear them. So dumb and infuriating.
I’ll get it right one day, right?
I am banging my head against a wall in the name of livable wages with decent benefits. However, the dream I have been hiding offers me none of those things. At least not as I pay my dues. So, I wait. And then I step out to another first kiss of chance. It’s sweet and a homecoming, and it feeds every bit of my soul. I’m proud and fulfilled and I’m the kind of fly I want to be. Because it’s the real me. Then, I go home. And the shit storm begins. Obligation and possibility collide. I’m a hot mama on a hamster wheel, people. Finding time and new ways to make words a successful career is an infuriating addiction. I know better than to stop, though. Squandering my gift is both self-destructive and a sin.
This is not about going hard, or hustle, or focus. We often tell ourselves we need to push harder, be stronger, work more diligently. This is about faith. In what I know I’m supposed to do and what I know I am responsible for (kids, bills, job). I half-ass believe the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but half-ass don’t cut it when it comes to risk. No one arrived at a tipping point being coy. I know I cloud my path more than any life decision ever could. The mind is a mean muthafuckah. I got a great heart, and I so wish I would listen to it more.
What do you do to push past your fears and follow your heart? Throw Betty a bone before I end up lookin’ like Oprah in Women of Brewster Place.
Glory to God, I’m headed to Palm Springs! I’ve scraped, I’ve consigned, I’ve submitted Aflac claims, and set aside my tax return to be able to get away.
As any mom knows, there’s always the additional steps of arranging child are, pet care, mail pick up, bill paying, and house cleaning that make the actual departure seem like a far away dream. Oh but, I will not be moved! What makes this trip special is that it is actually to honor and celebrate my mother’s 60th birthday. She hasn’t been on a plane in decades, and she is way overdue for time away. So, alas, my mother, my sister and I are waiting to board the plane.
As I prepare to leave, I am pushing myself to start this journey off right. The element of expectation, especially an all female, family getaway, is of the utmost importance. I refuse to entertain the uncertainties that could annoy or derail the fun, who might say what or do what, sticking to the plans, or what i will look like in my bathing suit. Nope. Not this time playa.
Did I finish all of the work I wanted to complete before I left?
Is every dish out the sink?
Hell to the no.
Who’s gonna put the trash out?
I don’t give a damn.
I wanna look like this when I come back:
I’m detaching. Looking forward to a new place, baking in the sun, and getting my mom drunk. Here’s some strategies I’m using to disconnect:
Packing with my mood in mind. I’ve never been a fan of my legs…they’re thick to say the least. Sturdy and reliable yes, but I’m never quick to showcase them. With that in mind, I packed sundresses, maxi skirts, and capris. No shorts. They wreck my confidence, and they put me on the on ramp to negative thinking. Trying to shop for shorts or even bothering to pack them is a fool’s errand. This may seem small or ludicrous to you, but I’m giving you real deal. I only packed what I feel cute in…to hell with the other stuff. I’m lifting up me for me, as I am, devoid of comparisons to the status quo.
Reflect and committ. I wrote down how I want to feel when I come home in comparison to how I feel now, and committed to doing 3 things to reach my desired state of mind: journal, listen, laugh. My spirit, as well as my writing, need attention. I believe They will truly bwritings being in the moment. What’s there to laugh at, you ask? Well, you’ve never met my mothers or sister. Crazy. As. Hell. I will resist stressing the differences between us, and just sit back and appreciate them for the women that they are.
Take pics. By capturing the visuals of the trip, I will remain in a place of anticipation and awareness, looking for the best in my surroundings and cultivating positive memories, stories, and reflections.
This is a stretch, for real. As a matter of fact, I’m just hearing an announcement that my flight has yet again be delayed and I will miss my connection. I’m being tested. Nothing a rum and coke can’t fix though. Hollllaaaaaaaa!
In our culture of categorization, there’s no shortage of diagnoses offered to a myriad of situations. We’ve read about Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, Battered Women’s Syndrome, and even Munchausen and Stockholm Syndromes. I’m here to drop science on a new one: Inadequate Women’s Syndrome, or IWS for short. This bullshit has tried to claim me as a victim. I work. I mother. I drop off. I pick up. I purchase. I mail. I arrange. I tidy. I sort. I write. I laugh. I lie. I sign. I meet. I groom. I read. I report. I nurse. I fry, sear, simmer, scramble, stir, and strain. This all, generally before 6 p.m. I then move on to the demands of the evening: homework, laundry, the few friendships I’ve been able to maintain. And the events, causes, campaigns, and headlines that keep me connected to the world around me. This pool will never drain, people. Nor should it. There will always be more work, needs, tasks, terrors, surprises, and sales than one superwoman can handle. And our pasts, as well as our present, feed us the lie that we must complete the list, cook the dinner, host the party, aspire to the promotion, attend the mixer, read the story, master the smoky eye, and of course, either snag, keep, and/or please your partner.
And the tragic part is we believe it. We believe it, we chase it, and we literally get sick over it. Every day replaces the last as the stuff you didn’t get to. Each project is completed only to begin planning the next. You are dumping your energy in a bottomless well. The goal is never fulfilled. There’s an ache, albeit dull and quite possibly tolerable, but something ain’t right. These are the symptoms of IWS. Feelings of inadequacy robbing you of the ability to treasure, celebrate, and more importantly, sit your gorgeous ass down and soak up your swag.
In the words of MC Lyte: Naw, I’m not havin’ it.
Here’s a little diddy that is the double-edged sword of empowerment vs. self-imposed neuroses:
Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Chaka. This is a classic female anthem. But we take it too damn far. I am SO not every woman. And it most definitely is NOT all in me.
To chip away at the stinky, smelly, stubborn, veil of inadequacy, I’m devoting the next month to strategies to overcome IWS. We will look to cause, character and community to fight back and re-claim the joy of our everyday lives. I solicit your engagement and your input. I don’t claim expertise, but I do commit to passion and persistence.
My lovelies, as I alluded in Healing: Part 2, our best is the mutha f@c$in’ bomb. However, our definition of best is where we get caught up in the game. The fault lines in our hearts become filled with the doubt and self-destructive goo that fuel the fire of inadequacy. I know so many women who are unconvinced of their successes. They almost chronically refuse to celebrate themselves.
Brown Betty ain’t havin’ it.
We are flippin’ that shit. Finna do it on ‘em.
Here are some teasers on inadequacy (and the havoc it wreaks) that run the gamut from funny to spiritual. Chew on ‘em for a spell, and join me for a ride I hope will help you destroy IWS forever.
In our collective pursuit of inner peace, my intent is to share those things that have acted as healing balms in my life. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it does vary in medium, scope, and source. If life has taught me anything, it’s that blessings often disguise themselves as fears, and angels often look like the biggest pain in the ass. Here’s are some of the bricks that have helped me rebuild my heart:
Silence and Solitude
Being still used to be something I couldn’t do if you paid me. I spun around non-stop like Sister Tsunami, working 12 hour days, being on call for every friend I had, sporting my little war torn Superwoman cape. After allowing some authentic women to truly speak into my life, I realized that all I was doing was ducking and dodging the issue at hand; the one thing that would build my bridge to healing: ME. I set aside time to be alone, and I do it without guilt. Reflection is so core to personal peace. You cannot take care of yourself if you don’t know yourself. Can you answer the question, “what do I need to find more happiness?” If not, discipline yourself to journal, reflect, and discern until you can come up with at least one response. Be it closure, divorce, restful sleep, coming out, or a career change, reflection provides you to focus the blurr puzzle pieces and empowers you to make informed decisions to seek peace.
Well, where do I begin? Her ability to put a generation of pain, lust, love, prayer, indescribable joy in a 4-minute track? The miraculous slope of her hips, the unapologetic prowess in her smile? The seed she has planted in the heart of virtual strangers? You decide. I never tire of her work; I anxiously await more; when I saw her live, I acted like a damn fool. This was my anthem as I braved the process of divorce and creating a new normal:
Watching the sunset has always provided a sense of God’s presence for me. It reminds me that this day, with all it’s misdirection, mistakes, and missed opportunities, is over. Tomorrow, new mercies await.
The 2 C’s: Cocktails and Comedy
There is nothing like laughing. There’s nothing like laughing with your homegirls. Better still, laughing with your favorite people while stylishly caressing a snifter or lowball of your favorite libation has nursed the cracks in my soul’s foundation on MANY occasions. Living Single is my favorite portrayal of Black women on TV. Smart, authentic, and devoid of the caricatures that rob us of our depth and dignity.
I am so thrilled Oxygen started playing old episodes in the morning. They make facing the morning a little easier. Other pools of comedic healing:
Now let’s get to libations. When you need a bang for your buck, go with the Long Island Iced Tea. All the clear liquor dancing around in one glass with the refreshing kick of iced tea and lemon. I can taste it right now. Me likey.
Want a to rock a more sophisticated vibe? Martini all the way, baby. I’m a vodka girl, and will sing the praises of Belvedere and Hangar One (don’t sleep on this one) until my dying day.
Be it the Bible, poetry, nonfiction, magazines or novels, the written word feeds my soul in a way that can be defined as nothing short of holy. To me, words are living, breathing extensions of the human spirit. To read them, allows me the opportunity to submerge myself into the landscape of another, feed off of their energy and use it to color my otherwise dim day. And to write words? Oh boy, to write, is my heart’s joy! It allows me that discernment, creativity, and non-violent (yeah, I said it) outlet I need to process my pain and nurture my soul.
So there you have it, Brown Betty’s healing balms. I return to them again and again, to chip away at the wall I have created around my heart, and promote my own healing, from the inside out.
What are your healing balms? What are doing to ensure you give yourself the space to reflect and grow healthy? Seize your peace without apology, without baby steps or a passive voice. Pursue it vigilantly. Unlike so many other material things, you do NEED this.