Letters to Coretta Vol. 2

DSCN0478

Auntie Coretta,

It’s been a few weeks since my last entry. Much has transpired during that time but some of the things still rest on my mind. One thing of interest I want to tell you about is the ebb and flow of gender and socialization since you left. Specifically, the edification or lack thereof Women in our nation. You can say we need to continue allowing the candle of hope to burn on this one. There have been great strides over the past years as well as setbacks. We all know that progress requires both. Without the setbacks there is no fire to light and path to blaze.

I am happy to write that there are activists of all genders and walk of life advocating for the better regard and respect of Women in many different facets.

  • There is still disparity in pay between genders in the work force but more data is being disseminated to educate EVERYONE in their role to alleviate this discrimination. Women are even being empowered to learn how to negotiate benefits and face their fears with being competitive in the work place. Now, we just have to become more consistent and congruent with our practices with accountability.
  • There are more research articles and case studies provided to help Women of all ethnicities, religions, and races better understand how to supervise and support each other in the work place. It is not enough that we have Women in Administration, Management, Supervision, etc. We have to continue sharing and learning each other’s story. I had the privilege at ACPA Conference 2013 to attend a host of presentations that focused on empowering Women in the workplace and managing differences in cultural differences. 
  • Additionally, I had the privilege last March (2014) to present at Women’s Leadership Conference in which the presenters and attendees were active in identifying how to better mentor and develop the current networks of Women as well as the young ladies that are growing into leadership.

These opportunities allow me to feel opportunistic regarding the reception of Women in any setting. However, we do have a ways to go.

  • Some may look at videos of female entertainers and advocate empowerment by owning our on sexuality. That’s a double edge sword. Owning sexuality also requires helping our young ladies and girls to know that their talent is governed by their sexuality or limited. Owning sexuality requires having pivotal truth based conversations about relationship building, coping, building identity, and making your own decisions regardless of what friends, celebrities, and albeit even parents (all parents do not render best guidance-check the news).
  • I am even finding it harder to celebrate music the way that I used to due to the hatred of Women. Our music is saturated with disdain for women but most times if you show up to a concert it will be majority women. I can’t point the finger at anyone but women on this. I’ve been a part of this problem for years. Even sometimes now I have to catch myself. We can’t keep lying to ourselves and buying the lie that bitch, ho, thot, whore, and whatever else are terms of endearment. No, those are the seeds of hurt being spewed by women and men that have deep seated pain involving women. They just haven’t gone to counseling yet Auntie. They don’t know.
  • Finally, our heterosexual men have got to be held to a standard of congruence Auntie. Stop telling little boys they throw like or worse than a woman. There are women pitchers, ball players, etc. that could lap any man on earth. Athleticism spans all genders. These same God fearing men would tell you they mean no harm but you are a part of the problem by downing or likening ‘girl’ to some derogatory thing. Stop it. This was one small example, but if we listen closer to what our men are saying—there are seeds of hatred towards women there. This is not a male bashing rant. It’s a call to listen harder to what is being said and confront it. It’s also a call for Men to do their part in ownership towards the lack of regard for Women.

As you see Auntie, things are neither all good nor all bad. We’re not in the middle either. Always will be work to do but I am happy there are more websites, groups, and all genders championing equity in the treatment of women. Some days I still feel like it hurts being a woman but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

PS-next chat Auntie Coretta-we’ll have to clue people in on advocacy/justice for the lgbtqia community. But for now, we’ll leave them with this.

“I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice,” she said. “But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’” “I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people,” she said. – Reuters, March 31, 1998. (C.S.King)

Getting REAL and creating an OPENING

2012-05-24 19.58.37

I am a believer in numbers. Often times, a message will or theme will manifest itself numerically through different formats. In my case, I’ll hear a friend mention something and a specific word will stick with me. I’ll hear that word or message in a song, a film, and even a sermon in days to come. I simply call it confirmation. It is typically something I need to affirm or acknowledge within myself or in my current circumstance.

August 2014, I stepped down from my full time position with a great department at a wonderful institution. I knew when I arrived at this decision that the Lord was going to take his time with me and helped me hear again. My physical or hearing in the natural is fine. My spiritual ears were in need of a massive tune up. The past 6 weeks have been tremendous. It’s been a roller coaster ride that have revealed 3 key things missing in my bowl of ingredients:

  1. Openness
  2. Vitality
  3. Connectivity

In a small span of time, God has shown me in the lives of others and within myself that it takes open heart and mind to receive. Great things happen when there is an open space for opportunity to be cultivated. I am quick to fall into a rat race of errands and routine that I forget to leave my day open for just cause. I have realigned and shifted my mindset. When I rise in the morning, I leave my day to God. I still pre plan and acknowledge tasks deserving of my attention-but i’m open to the shifts that life bring. By doing so, I have fallen back in love with the small things like crisp fall air in the morning, dew on the grass, and birds chirping before sunrise. I have also born witness to the great opportunities and blessings that will find their way to your doorsteps when there’s room enough for them to dwell.

Vitality in my mind goes back to living. Living isn’t just taking one breath after another. When you have vitality, the people that mean the most in your life can see the color in your eyes and hear the song in your heart. People light up when you enter a space and your smile waves at perfect strangers before you fully exit your car. Rosiness enters your cheeks and nothing short of the creator could stop the glow illuminating from your eyes. Whether walking and beholding my time with the Lord or making time for meaningful andd even tough conversations with loved ones-life has found its way back to my doorsteps.

Connectivity is at the core of our being. It is crucial for us to have real connections with other human beings. Ultimately, no relationship can exist in the absence of a legitimate relationship with your own self. No other human can be to you, what you cannot be for yourself. This six week period has allowed me to look in the mirror and listen closely to what my mind has sold me. My mind sold me short because it was cloudy from a heart burdened by years of hurt. Only now, when I can allow my heart to open up and begin to heal that I can see the barriers I placed in my own way. This comes from the broken records I played in my own mental parties. We all do it. It just takes slowing down and getting connected for us to realize all the prayers, love, and aspirations cannot move us ahead until we discover what limits we place on our dreams through destructive thinking, self-loathing, perfectionism, insecurity, and self-criticism. Yes, it was important for me to realize fully shortcomings that cannot preceed with me to my next level of thriving.

I share my experience on getting real with myself so that I can open up for one reason. Life. We all can improve our quality of life if we are honest with our testimonies and life lessons. I long to discover my faithful future companion, my future long term vision, and travels across the globe. But these opportunities are not possible if I am not willing to release the illusion of ‘control’ and open my hand to be led by the master architect who knows what destinations lie ahead.

“Here I Am,” An Ode to Ambition.

Wrapped up another Virgo celebration this weekend and made it home to hop in the recliner, gearing up for my Sunday television line up. As I surfed the channels, my heart jumped with glee as I noticed that both 27 Dresses and The Devil Wears Prada were both playing simultaneously tonight. My gut decision led me to enjoy yet another helping of The Devil Wears Prada. I absolutely love this film. Every facet of the life I wanted to lead as an 8 year old girl that declared her desired occupation would be “CEO” is covered in this acclaimed film.

My inner 8 year old and current self adore the role that Miranda Priestly plays in this movie. A no nonsense go getter that has created a lane for her expertise and who continually sets the bar for excellence into the stratosphere. I also appreciate the role and character of Andrea in the movie. Fresh out of college and out to work her way up through the ranks for the profession she loves, writing. Miranda’s toughness forces Andrea to make decisions that open doors for greatness at a costly expense.

This is where a moment of overstanding entered today. This morning before getting busy, I knew there would be a possiblity of catching up with an old friend. I ran through my thoughts stages of growth and how things change between people. One of the things that came to my mind is ownership. When I take responsibility for thoughts, actions, etc. I usually accept reality at surface level. At some point, I dig deeper.  Finally, I’ll arrive at a point where I tap the root of thing and begin to ‘overstand.’

That is precisely how I felt watching the film tonight. The movie had not changed but I did. In times past, I smirked when characters accused Andrea of selling out on relationships over ambition.

How many 20 somethings do not find themselves running the rat race to make a difference in the world they strive?

Just becuase it happens-doesn’t make it a healthy undertaking. I along with many others have done that very thing. The rat race towards the top-wherever that is for whomever. I ran that race with pride in Corporate days until I had to undergo several trips to the ER room for swollen wrists and hands (Carpal Tunnel) and the realization that my short term memory was beginning to deteriorate (prolonged exposure to chronic stress). My aha moment from the film tonight does not even stop with the rat race. It stops at the feet of lying to yourself. See for the first time, I saw with my spiritual eye, the lie that Andrea and others tell ourselves when the things we want manifest in less than opportune moments (usually conflict of integrity or prioritization of relationships). Never once, I had allowed the scene about the divorce for Miranda and what it meant for her children sink in. Never once, had I really swallowed the role complications Miranda faced with being at her Apex and the needs of her personal life. I even noticed tonight when another character mentioned that personal life falling apart was a sign of an impeneding promotion.

That was the confirmation I awaited. About three months ago, I commented on a facebook post to a question posed to me on whether or not women could have it all (career, spouse, kids, and any extracurricular desired). I said yes. I was asked by a mentee to illustrate that delicate balance. I tapped my old business phrase of ‘trade offs.’ Everything is relative. Andrea finally learns that towards the end of the movie. Miranda made peace with her burden to be on the painful end of sacrifice. The character that was snubbed a promotion quipped about Miranda making good in the future in a veiled attempt to live with the lie that the trade off of career over personal was the desired outcome.

When I replied to the question with the antedote of trade offs, I was simply inferring that there are limitations on the amount of hours the sun shines down for us to make great use of daylight. There are many who make demands of our time. Yet, it is up to us to know our truth. Who deserves our time and why. The only person that needs to own the ‘why’ is self. No one imposes decisions onto others. Avoidance and fear may be the culprits of coercion but ultimately each day we write our story and decide who and what gets the spotlight. So, with that-I have a new appreciation for ambition and the pursuit.

As a female, I understand the difficulty in wanting certain things in a society that does not always offer equittable support. As a female in my 30s, I still long for my ambitious pursuits and will always adore the Miranda Priestly’s of the world and applaud the Andreas. For in my 30s, I have arrived at a glorious fork in the road. I will have my cake (with cream cheese icing) and gelato to chase it. I want my entreprenueral exploits as well as my civic inspired ambitions. I will meet my future spouse. I’m out to market on having children but if it happens all will be fine. What I have given up is the need to dictate when these glorious moments will take place. I will do my part. I will play my role. But, I will enjoy my life with leaps and bounds because I only have one shot. No career is worth me growing older without companionship. No ambition is worth having no one to cultivate it for. Yes, in my 30s-I simply choose to be open by choosing me.

—below is one of the songs i adore from this movie, enjoy-Retta

The Journey to Unlocking My Voice

2012-04-30 19.03.15

The Journey to Unlocking My Voice. This has been a long and arduous road. Natural born extrovert who processes a great deal aloud but still struggles from time to time to find the words or strength to speak for myself. Those that know me wouldn’t believe that this is a problem for me. On the other hand, those in my inner circle,  are quite aware of this monstrosity and the amount of patience it takes to support the journey to finding my words. I imagine there are others somewhere who wrestle with the same monster. For that reason, I decided to talk briefly about my journey. 

In my early youth, I was highly inquisitive and boisterous. There were no trees I couldn’t climb (literally and figuritively). My voice was my instrument and it help me transition into the woman I am today, for the most part. It was during my pre teen years that oppressive behavior from adults would begin to tear at my voicebox and silence me. For it was no longer, cute to speak your mind. There were appropriate and inappropriate times to communicate your thoughts and it would be best to fall in line. In everyday journey, we call this respect and timeliness when used with sincerity. This too can be maniuplated by intent. For those who required my silence didn’t always do so out of the sanctity of my benefit or healthiness. Sometimes my voice was silenced because it held a mirror to behavior and outbursts that were and are unacceptable. 

As you would imagine, when a soon to be adult picks up on the social cues (healthy and unhealthy) of learning to be silent, habits emerge. It became habit for me shift my communciation in extremes. I would either tell you everything I thought you needed to know (telling you off) or I would tell you nothing at all. No middle ground. That wasn’t role modeled or required of me. Ahh, welcome the land of passive agressive communication. Spew out or shut down. This was my way of presenting thoughts to others becuase it had been successfully reinforced. Unfortunately, I struggled to put my finger on why I never received the results I desired during this age span.

Finally, enter my late 20s. Still roaring around with passive agressive communication but starting to hear more about assertive language. This is the time that being avoidant or accommodating began to suffocate me.

1 Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

I had no idea why in arguments I could not find my words. So, I would shut down. I stopped “cutting people off” because my mom told me soon it would only be me and Jesus at this rate. I was fine with that too but I overstood the point even though I couldn’t find my words. I did begin to notice that long after an argument was over, my thoughts would clear and I could process. Once I processed, I was able to pinpoint themes and even identify behavioral/verbal triggers. 

But the work of dreams would come in my counseling days. My Counseling supervisor inquired one day what I felt when in the midst of a session. I found myself truly perplexed. I had no idea what she was talking about because I didn’t feel anything. Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding-bells, whistles, and foolery sound off. We have a Bingo winner. I began to learn that all these years, I had been stuffing, numbing, and freezing my feelings. It was easier not to feel. Not feeling allowed me not to talk out of place, not to get out of line, and not to speak at the wrong time. Just as I was socially taught in my pre teens and young adult years. 

So, how did I learn how to thaw out? Life and reading. Terrible life encounters would leave me bruised until I began to ask questions and dig deeper to search for my voice. I found myself frustrated with not being  heard, understood, or even valued. Reading allowed me to absorb healthy content and strategies for finding my words. An author penned that when we freeze, we keep both the good and bad out. That would explain why it took me until 32 years old to believe in love. That’s another blog for another day :) The more I kept digging, the more unraveling I would behold. Not only did I struggle with my voice in my personal life but it affected my work life too. People that exhibited poor communication would trigger me. I wouldn’t be able to find my words and I would either shut down, cut off, or build walls. 

That brings us to now. I’m still on my journey to finding my words. However, I’m a little faster in acknowledging when I’m on my way to shutting down. I can even sometimes talk through my frustration without speaking harshly. It still sometimes takes a while for me to find the right words-but i speak that in advance. I am at a point where I realize I can enact boundaries to keep a network of healthy people around me. I can enact boundaries to have those hard conversations that forbid abusive or negligent speech. I can also choose when to walk away but learn to revisit a thing once heads are more cooled. Far from perfect, but I am happily moving towards my voice and using it consistently.

Whether you have your voice intact or know someone struggling with this, Be patient, be an encourager, and have faith. Everyone has a right to their voice. Everyone deserves to be heard. Everyone’s voice in some respect must be honored. 

A Letter to Coretta (vol. 1)

DSCN0482

I woke up with a lot on my mind. Typically, when I wake up, I direct my thoughts to God and we begin our morning conversation. Today’s morning came with a twist. My mind drifted towards Coretta Scott King. 

See I was originally supposed to be named Demetrius by my mother Sherry. She sent my Father, Willie to handle the birth certificate details. Daddy used his first and last naming privileges to name me completely after Coretta-except my middle name is passed on from my mom. Of course, being from Georgia, everywhere I travel-I am frequently asked if I’m related to Martin. I reply, “sure, that’s my Uncle.” I am not related by blood/dna but I do believe Coretta and Martin to be kin in the spirit of the Lord. 

With that being said. The grief and heaviness on my heart warranted a letter to Coretta. Coretta Scott King has been gone from us for a while now, but it’s hard to believe. Yet, her legacy for equity is still rich with me and is the foundation in which I strive daily to bestow with the current generation at hand. But, if Auntie Coretta were near-here’s what I’d like to tell her.

Auntie Retta (this is what my niece and nephew reference me as), times are tough on this side. The list of Black children and young adults-shot dead in the streets is rising. Hearts are low and people are hanging on by threads. The law says no more 3/5ths human, but the newspaper and media reports advise otherwise. 

No more are Blacks water hosed, shackled, and lynched. Still shot, looked over, and oppressed. Epitheths of Black Power receive hateful rebuttals of white supremacy. All either side needs is an open mind and a conversation. A conversation in which, opposites do not have to agree but honor and respect. Opposites that need to see each other as human and not a generalization of a few bad instances. Opposites that have forgotten how to extend the same grace and mercy we all need to get by on this side of eternity. 

Auntie Retta there’s so much complacency. Every day that I put a toe on the ground is another that I reach for forgivness of :

  • The officers in Georgia that have racially profiled me.
  • The caucasian friend at 5 years old that called me n***** in Ft. Stewart in front of his mother and mine.
  • The half cocked-caucasian women that gawk and have assumed since I was 12 years old that all of my 3 sisters in tow were mine (I have no children).
  • The bold and ignorant caucasians that walk up and bestow me as a credit to my race to which I respectfully decline and correct.

But yet I leave vengeance to the Lord. I do not hold those instances against millions of individuals. Yet, the same cannot be said in return for the treatment of my race. I know there are millions of all races that turn the other cheek Auntie Retta as I have done time and time again. Yet, there are millions that do not and they spew the fiery hate that divides our country and kills our children and young adults in the street with no justice or due cause. 

Auntie Retta there is still hope. Just yesterday, a blogger wrote about her ‘privilege as a white mother.’ When I read her post, I knew that there was hope. I knew that there are people who are not willing to be spectators. This is a time to be human, vocal, and open. Her letter spoke volumes and is the much needed conversation that can help us stop the repeat work of ferguson, chicago, and more. Auntie Retta simply put, Blacks and African Americans want the power of respect. 

When you respect someone, you assume the best. When you respect someone, you operate in love. When you respect someone, you can slow down and hear what they have to say. When you respect someone, you see their humanity. You never lose sight of the fact that everyone deserves to be regarded as human. 

Follow the Light that Shines

One of my mission truths for the year is to become congruent with the woman I long to be. Simply put, living a life of congruence. Sometimes incongruence sneaks up on us especially when we are not ready for the truth to step into the light. Case and point. This past weekend, I had a moment in which I was supposed to meet up with a friend while visiting in South Atlanta. The friend I was visiting hopped aboard the journey at the last minute. My vibe kept changing that night and indecisiveness set in. I went from plan a to z three times. Understandably, I probably frustrated everyone involved but communication is key. 

The person I was supposed to connect with never showed or followed back up. I shrugged it off because the person has a habit of being flaky when convenient. Let’s back up to what I just said. If that’s my perspective then why would I bother with plans? Living without congruence. I had another run in later that night with someone I esteemed. This person has a habit of talk sideways without thinking. Let’s back it up. If it’s a habit then what were my expectations? Why am I entertaining this?

See I’m not writing these examples to throw shade. I’m writing these examples because they show I do not live in congruence. See I have others that are in my life that probably have not known me as long but they show me light. They provide consistent light. Yet, I gravitate to what’s familiar but not what I truly want. That means two things are at play. 

1) I’m not consistent in what I show others either. I cannot gravitate to substandard if I’m not putting substandard out as well. I can’t put my finger on it and it will be a journey to behold—but i’ve allowed people to remain in my life for long periods out of titles when there are people who don’t have titles in my life but supply the love, support, and consistency conducive for me to have healthy relationships.

2) I have to live out my priorities. If I long for healthy relationships, then I must open my eyes to behold where the illumination is coming from. A friend of mine name Chantal always talks about people’s spirits and being positive. I have come to realize in the past ten years that sometimes we give the small people who our associates, colleagues, or marginals in our life our spare time/energy. Meanwhile, we devote and drool over the relationships in our life that we have given ‘prize’ status but don’t always yield the healthiness or light we need or deserve. 

Overall, I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’m not always a good judge of character or light. But, I’m also realizing I have met some incredible people who focus on the positive, who are empowering, who have spontaneity, who love living, and who deserve a bigger spot in my life. For the rest of 2014, I’m going to try to get better at absorbing the light from where it flows versus chasing the familiar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MDLCbjbJdA

Living life out loud on purpose

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 233 other followers