How My Friends Taught Me to Be Flaky as F*(! … and I LOVE It!

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flaky

I opened my first email account when I was a freshman in college and didn’t start texting until nearly a decade later. I grew up in a rural town so no one used RSVPs – you just stopped by, showed up, or gave your word. I share these things because I learned much of my etiquette around corresponding via email or text messages and the value of RSVPs: 1) much later in my life; and 2) mostly in the professional arena. This timing shaped how I view email, including the form in which I send emails. It shaped what, how and with whom I send text messages. And it absolutely shaped the value I placed on giving my word, verbally or via an RSVP. However, it didn’t take long for me to learn that the same value I placed on these things was not shared by others. I’ve received numerous emails with no greeting or salutation at all – simply a question or statement. I’ve had colleagues who I have a strictly professional relationship with text me late at night or on the weekends. And I’ve more than my share of experience with folks saying they will attend an event and showing up significantly later than the start time or not showing up at all. Naturally, this used to upset me and sometimes it still does, especially when someone’s RSVP requires me spending money to reserve a spot for them. But this last year has taught me get comfortable with being flaky as f*(!.

My new lease on life is in no way an excuse for me to disregard others’ time or my commitment to complete a task. Instead, it has forced me to separate business commitments from personal commitments. No, I can’t wake up and just randomly decide to take a week off from work. But I can decide that a social event I previously committed to attending no longer fits my schedule and respectfully inform the host of the change. On a very minute, but important level this change also allows me to ignore the need to reply to every personal email, text message, or phone call I receive – which is not a practice I exercise as freely in the professional arena. I have friends who reply to text messages weeks later or not at all; family and friends who never check email, much more take a moment to respond to them. The ironic thing is many of these very same people will obsessively text and/or call me if I do not respond to a message from them within what they consider to be a reasonable timeframe. BUT I’ve opted to stick with my new leaf and do as I need, when I need to – especially as I am working earnestly to balance all that comes with finishing graduate school. *Note to all: We are ALL busy juggling multiple things so your level of busyness is not an excuse to dismiss the commitments others have as well*

So thank you to all my flaky friends 🙂 – I’ve learned a lot from you. You’ve taught me that changing my mind, disconnecting from my phone, and engaging with the social world when desired is an act of radical self-care. Thank you!

The End …

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This week is the beginning of the end. It’s the end of my much-needed and long overdue vacation. It’s the end of one of my busiest semesters yet. It’s the end of my first semester of being back in the classroom. Yes, I still have to teach one final lecture next week. Yes, I have one last night of class next Monday, but this truly is the beginning of the end.

As I reflect on the semester and the year in general, I think about how often I wondered if I was going to make it …. through an assignment, through a class, through a life challenge. I think back to the butterflies in my stomach during my first, second, third – and every day thereafter 🙂 – in Epidemiology II and Biostatistics II. I think back to making difficult decisions to leave both leisure and professional development opportunities behind, while also having an unfortunate experience with an endeavor that I was elated to see come and (eventually) ecstatic to have end.

As I can say for more years of my life than not, this year, this semester and this season have all been very eventful. I have learned a lot about myself and endured much more than I ever imagined I could: two to three days a week of commuting two hours; four classes and 35-40 hours of work plus homework; traffic; poor nutrition; failing exercise regimen; re-evaluating goals and dreams. BUT I am still standing and can see the end of the semester. Thankfully, there is a wonderful beach vacation awaiting my arrival as I say thank you 2015 for an awesome year, thank you to my students for an unimaginable semester and thank you to my new favorite university for helping to mold me into being a little brighter, resourceful, focused and purposed. Here is to beginnings and endings …

At the Same D*&! Time

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NotAllAtOnce

It’s funny how words of wisdom seem to crawl out from out secret spaces as we move through adulthood. I often find myself thinking of things my mom, aunts, close friends and other family members shared with me while growing up. Those very words of wisdom that seemed so incomprehensible … until now.

About 10 years ago a former colleague told me that “you can have it all, just not at the same time.” This view seemed so warped to me! Am I supposed to choose? Certainly, there are women who DO have it all – I know some of them! Why would she tell me this?

But now I know exactly why … because it’s true. In more certain and accurate terms, I think she was telling me – and I have come to realize – that in life we can attempt to juggle many things, but we do have to choose which things we want to do well. Yes, on the surface we can have it all, but as that all increases, we gradually begin to shift our attention from one thing to the next – never fully able to hold them all in perfect balance. We can achieve all of our dreams, travel to all the places we want to visit, become a wonderful friend/spouse/sister/mother/teacher/writer – but not all at once.

For some of us this means “mastering” 1 – 2 things at a time and then adding to the list. For others it’s means that as we get one thing in balance, another falls out of whack. And for yet another subset of folks, this quote means something completely different.

For me, it means choice – I CAN do it all, but not all at the same time. As I prepare for the fall semester and yet another shift in my school, work and home life I know that I have to – yet again – let some things go. Initially, I was nervous about this – even a little frightened. But now I simply see this decision as a shift in balance and a FIRM grasp on my sanity :-). I am excited about what my new life-season has to offer and willingly embrace the chapters that will close. I am choosing to have it all – in balance, in due time, during the appointed season.

One Month In

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PhD

It has been a full month since I started my doctorate program. There are some lessons have learning for the first time, while others are simply re-visitations of things I have been made aware of time and time again. Here are some of my reflections from Month One:

  • This journey is definitely meant to be shared. From my classmates to family and friends to former professors, I see more and more just how much it truly “takes a village” to produce a successful  – and sane – doctorate graduate. There is no way that I can do this in isolation, so I continue to use all the resources at my discretion.
  • With so many competing options, I must prioritize … daily. There are SOOO many things I want to do: sessions and conferences to attend, speakers to hear, socials to partake in BUT I can’t do it all. I am making a concerted effort to conduct my life in this exact order: my spiritual, emotional and physical health and wellbeing are first, my family (including friends) next, school third, followed by work. All else – side hustles, extracurricular activities etc. – comes
  • What about your friends? Just as was the case with my last graduate program, I am constantly reminded of not only the value of true friends, but remembering exactly what a true friend means to me during this phase of my life. My friends know that my schedule is absolutely insane and appreciate the moments – however short – that we have. They don’t shut me out, while remembering that I can’t accommodate every invitation or request. They value my work, even if they don’t understand it.
  • My faith walk is vital. If nothing else – if I don’t get any of the aforementioned lessons – this journey reminds me of how important my spiritual care is. Rituals like prayer, journaling and meditation have served as enormous sources of calm and reassurance during tough moments, even in these first few weeks. I am reminded of what it means to me to have faith that things will come together, even when I can’t see all the workings behind the scenes. I am reminded that this journey has a greater purpose and that I am not in complete control. And perhaps, most importantly, I am reminded to breathe – there is an orchestra of guardian angels, ancestors and a Divine Being working this thing out for me. I continue to recite to myself “I believe. I believe. I believe.

Sunday Musings Part II: Distracted Focus

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Distractions1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I think I am the ONLY one who gets so far off track and so distracted by life’s minute pleasantries. What is it about my personality and choices that often leads to grand detours from where I know I should be? A faulty choice of friendship, a longing desire to belong to the common crowd or a seemingly minor choice in how I want to spend my Friday nights seems to take me down a road of ostensibly no return.

But this morning I dedicated myself to re-finding my center. I woke up in peaceful meditation and devotion. I committed some additional prayer time to a few friends and family members. I went to church!!! I commit to re-finding my focus, getting back on track, reducing the distractions. Have you ever experienced this – those moments when you look up and ask who am I and how did I get here? Do you ever think how did I get so far away from where I knew I should be going? Have you ever questioned why this distraction at this time? Do you have these moments or am I alone on this one?

Alla My Stuff

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I read this poem by Ntozake Shange last week in class. Each time I reread it, it brings forth a different reality for me … a different part of my life … a different time when I’ve let someone run off with my stuff. My dreams, my drive, my heart … Unlike some of my peers, I was introduced to “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuff” as an adult – before the Tyler Perry movie – but still beyond my childhood. As I learn more about me and more about my heritage, I must also remember to actively reclaim my stuff.

somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff
not my poems or a dance i gave up in the street
but somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff
like a kleptomaniac workin hard & forgettin while stealin
this is mine!
this aint yr stuff
now why don’t you put me back 
& let me hang out in my own 
self
somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff!
& didn’t care enuf to send a note home sayin
i was late for my solo conversation
or two sizes too small for my own tacky shirts
what can anybody do wid somethin of no value on
a open market?
did you getta dime for my things?
hey man 
where are you goin wid alla my stuff?!
this is a woman’s trip & i need my stuff
to ohh & ahh abt
daddy I gotta mainline number
from my own shit
now wontchu put me back& let me play this duet
wit this silver ring in my nose
honest to god!
somebody almost run off wid alla my stuff!
& i didnt bring anythin but the kick & sway of it
the perfect ass for my man & none of it is theirs
this is mine
Ntozake things
that’s my name
now give me my stuff
i see ya hidin my laugh
& how I sit wif my legs open sometimes
to give my crotch some sunlight
& there goes my love my toes my chewed up finger nails
niggah
wif the curls in yr hair
mr. louisiana hot link
i want my stuff back
my rhytums & my voice
open my mouth
& let me talk ya outta
throwin my shit in the sewar
this is some delicate leg & whimsical kiss
i gotta have to give to my choice
without you runnin off wit alla my shit
now you cant have me less i give me away
& i waz doin all that
til ya run off on a good thing
who is this you left me wit?
some simple bitch
widda bad attitude!
i wants my things
i want my arm wit the birth mark
& my leg wit the bike burns
i want my calloused feet & quik language back in my mouth
fried plantains
pineapple pear juice
sun-ra & joseph & jules
i want my own things
how i lived them
& give me my memories
how i waz when i waz there
you cant have them or do nothin wit them
stealin my shit from me
dont make it yrs
makes it STO…LEN
somebody almost run off wid alla my stuff!!
& i waz standin there
lookin at myself
the whole time & it waznt a spirit took my stuff
waz a man whose ego walked round like Rodan’s shadow
waz a man faster than my innocence
waz a lover
i made too much room for
almost run off wit alla my stuff
& i didnt know i’d give it up so quik
& the one runnin wit it
don’t know he got it
& i’m shoutin this is mine
& he dont know he got it/ 
my stuff is the anonymous ripped off treasure of the year
did you know somebody almost got away wit me?
me in a plastic bag under their arm
me
danglin on a string of personal carelessness
i’m spattered wit mud & city rain
& no i didnt get a chance to take a douche
hey man!
this is not your prerogative
i gotta have me in my pocket
to get round like a good woman shd
& make the poem in the pot or the chicken in the dance
what i got to do
i gotta get my stuff to do it too
why dont ya find yr own things
& leave this package of me for my destiny
what ya got to get from me?
i’ll give it to ya
yeh i’ll give it to ya
round 5:00 in the winter
when the sky is blue-red
& Dew City is gettin pressed
if it’s really my stuff
ya gotta give it to me
if ya really want it
i’m the only one
can HANDLE it

 

(Untitled)

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View of Robbin Island from Table Mountain ~ Photo Taken During 2010 Visit to South Africa 

Today during my study break I went to see Mandela and it was just as emotionally charged as I thought it would be. As is usually the case with movies of this sort, my mind began to visit and revisit my own life. As I watched the film chronicle Mr. Mandela’s life, I thought about what would happen if I lived every day in my very own purpose? What things would I do differently? What activities would remain the same? Who would fall away from my circle? Who would I remain connected to?

As the film continued, I also recalled a conversation I had with a very good friend last week. During our visit, we chatted about a number of things, including marriage. It was during that time that she shared with me that a friend of hers recently expressed that her marriage is her ministry – that she believes she was created for that very purpose.

I’d never heard anyone state it as such, but as I listened I realized that I have several friends who I believe would say the same. Likewise, I have friends who I believe were created and gifted with the ministry of parenting in mind – this is what they do wholeheartedly and they are completely satisfied operating in this gift.

The movie continued and so did my thoughts. There have been times when I have looked to and spoken with the aforementioned friends and asked – or wondered – if they wanted more. Didn’t they have other dreams? Desires? Goals? Sometimes the answer was yes, often it was “no.” It wasn’t until tonight that I realized that this is perfectly okay. The world needs more people who operate in their gift(s), i.e. remain in their lane and find complete satisfaction doing so.

And all the same, the world needs those who are gifted with alternative, nontraditional gifts and life purposes to do just the same. At this season of my life and actually for quite some time, I have been unable to be satisfied with status quo – I have felt a longing and burning desire for something different. I have felt gifted to do something other than … This does not make my path better – or worse – than those who I mentioned, but it does make it my path: to be embraced, nurtured, pursued and sometimes endured.

It has taken me almost eighteen years to figure out why I feel different. Why I seem to always chase dreams. Why I can’t just be happy with a “normal life.” Tonight I embrace my gifts, I embrace my calling. Today I commit to operating in the fullness of my gifts and embracing others as they do the same.

 

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