The Skin I'm In
This time last year I was removing the final remnants of my false lashes. I tried to hang on to them for as long as I could, however, as they began to fall off cluster by cluster, I looked like I was winking when I was actually struggling to see. Left feeling like a bald eagle, I wondered if I would look strange wearing my sunglasses everywhere because I felt absolutely hideous. It was all the norm for my lash girl to call me every 4 weeks and ask if I needed to have my lashes touched up. "Hey Lisa, do you want to come in today?" That is like asking me if I want a free Gucci bag. "Yep!"
The first time I got falsies I blinked unnecessarily and vowed I would never do it again, until I woke up the next day, looked in the mirror, and felt as if I had just slid clean off the page of a magazine. "Oh, it's like that?" Ok, well I will just wear these puppies until they fall off and that's it! Fast forward 10 years later and it had become an addiction. Without them, I felt as if I had no power. Adding and removing lashes only caused stress for my natural lashes which left them non-existent, and also gave me an excuse to proclaim I needed extra hair on my face. Determined to quarantine and stay in, I had to deal with it. I ordered false lashes online but it wasn't the same. They looked as bad as my car does when I attempt to parallel park. So, I gave up.
From the fullness of my lips, and the slant of my nose, to the countless moles on my face, I can't say that I grew up feeling the most attractive. Watching television and seeing what was portrayed, girls didn't really look like me. Not sure if that caused my shyness or if it was because of the teasing I endured in grade school. Whatever the reason, hindsight has become a familiar friend. As a woman, there are many accessories and 'extra' things I can adapt to and add whenever I choose. Somewhere between my early to mid 40s I saw myself. For who I was, without the extras. Not how the world viewed me but how I viewed me. I could finally say I was comfortable with the skin I'm in. As important as adding cheese to a burger, this ranks in the top 10. Every person has a moment of awakening, a time when what once matters simply does not, anymore.
I took this picture about 2 weeks ago, so let's rejoice in the mighty growth and comeback of my natural lashes. The moral of the story...
To discover what is beautiful, embrace my flaws, love me from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, I had to let go of what I thought perfection meant, what others think of me, and accept myself 100%. So, if that means on Wednesday I want to wear fake lashes then so be it, or if it means on Thursday I'm scheduling my next tattoo appointment, so be it! I'm me, and no one else can certainly do me better than I can.
Say His Name
With weakened nerves, and hearts beating fast, the entire world watched and listened as the words were spoken. Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!
As I heard the words, tears began to fall. For the life lost, and for the justice that was long overdue. The African American community carries the burden for our fallen brothers and sisters. We walk with fear not because we have done something bad, merely for the divine melanin within our skin. When will it end? When does the world decide to play fair? When will mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, sons, and friends stop burying their loved ones whose lives were taken because of ignorance? This victory feels monumental, however, the fight continues, and we push forward as there is much work to be done.
I made the decision not to watch the events of the trial unfold. The persecution of a man already persecuted at the hands of his fellow man who took a vow to serve and protect. It was a stark reminder I chose to avoid. Why put myself into a place of anger, bitterness, and confusion all over again is the question I continued to ask myself. The problem with this story, there was no protection, only hatred, and the tragic end of George Floyd's life. In what world is a man tried in a court of law after his death? This amazingly backwards world we all live in is where it all played out. Makes you shake your head in disbelief. If you don't see the problem then chances are you might be part of it. Facts are never easy to swallow, but in this case it is what it is!
Thinking back on the events of that day I can't help but wonder about the what ifs. What if he had stayed home that day? What if he wasn't claustrophobic? What if he had been silent the entire time? What if God could reverse those 8 minutes and 46 seconds? I only wonder these things because I wish he was still alive to be a father to his children, to mentor the youth, and to simply live his life. Why should anyone have to conform to a law that does not work in their favor?
To say his name is to remember the fight that continues, the work that is to be done, the legacy he leaves behind, the numerous black lives lost before and after him, and the movement that has been sparked because of his death. It is ok to be saddened, but let us all remember that joy will always come in the morning. George Floyd, we will ride for you, never forget you, and we will surely not allow your life to have been in vain. Rest easy brother.
Driving Down PeachTree Doing 80 in a 50 While Taking A Selfie And Calling My Bestie To Tell Her About This Guy I Met...
If this title confused you, then hold onto your bootstraps, purse straps, jockstraps, and whatever type of strap you can find because it's about to be a bumpy ride! The art of dating is quite arguably one of thee most exhausting journeys I have ever been on. If I had to describe it, I would say it feels like a full-time job with no benefits or weekends off. A never-ending cycle of great beginnings that ultimately turn into broken promises, goofy behavior, silly unexplained emojis, and emotions that are left on the table. Oh boy, this is super fun, said no one ever! Grab a glass of wine, get comfy, this is about to get real interesting! Who am I kidding, just bring the bottle because you are going to need it!
The Perpetual Muse
It had been nearly five years since James lost his grandfather. The relationship and bond they shared were like no other and it still hurt to reminisce at times, so he often forced himself to block the memories. A few years after the funeral James decided a fresh start would probably be good for him, so he decided to take a job in D.C. as an assistant editor for a local paper. He wondered if he would have trouble getting acclimated to a new city and state since he had no friends there, however, he assumed most of his time would be spent working so it didn't matter.
James was always focused and determined. He wrote a column for the school bulletin when he was in college and had a degree in creative writing, so it felt all too familiar. The neighborhood he lived in was a bit eclectic and there was a local bookstore up the street that hosted an amateur writing event every other month. There were flyers everywhere which made it hard to miss. In small print, it read, "Winner receives $150 and a free book of their choice!" Although he could use the money it didn't seem worth his time, but it was still quite interesting. He hadn't written the way he used to since the funeral, and he wasn't sure he was ready.
Weekends in the city were magical. Events everywhere, live music, good food, and everything seemed to be all the buzz. James promised himself that he would eventually get into the vibe, but this weekend would be dedicated to unpacking the last few boxes. After all, it had been eight months since he moved, and it was time to get completely settled. He ordered a pizza, opened a bottle of wine, and got to work. The fun part about unpacking is you often forget what you have stowed away and it's as if you are opening a gift. There was a box marked, "just for you". That's funny James thought, it wasn't in his handwriting. Ah, his mom must have packed away a care package and didn't tell him. Made sense because she asked him every week if he had finally gotten the last of his boxes emptied. He would call her right after and thank her for whatever it was. As James opened the small box his eyes filled with tears, and he took a deep breath. Inside was a picture of him and his grandfather, the tickets to the car show they went to when he was 14, and his grandfathers' special pen.
James always had a passion for writing that allowed him to escape as needed. Growing up he never knew what made this pen so special, or why it never seemed to run out of ink. He just knew he wanted it because it belonged to someone he loved so much. Closing his eyes, he could hear his grandfather say, "It will be yours one day to create your very own special memories." As James pulled the flyer out of his pocket, his sadness was replaced with a smile, and he knew all along the perpetual muse was his grandfather and that special pen.
Our inspiration comes from many places, some known, and some forever a mystery. Life is funny in that it will show you what you seek without asking a single question. In this story of love, inspiration, and hope, James finds himself running from the past, only to find his purpose along the way.
I have met so many amazing writers and creators on my writing journey who have not only been inspiring, but enlightening and supportive within our writing community. J.C. Maine, an author from Virginia is all of that and more. Had the sincere pleasure of talking with him to learn more about his creativity, what makes him tick, and what he has in store for all of us. See for yourself!
◆ How are you doing on this amazing day?
I am doing wonderful. I am so honored to be doing this interview with you.
◆ Writers are known for having thoughts at any given time. When do you have your best ideas?
About 5 o’clock in the morning. That’s the time my mind is the clearest, and right around the time I drink my first cup of coffee. ☺
◆ If you had to give a title to the blueprint of your life, what would it be called?
Never stop believing in yourself. If you think you can accomplish something, you should pursue it despite how the current circumstances look. In my opinion, it only takes one major opportunity to become successful.
◆ Do you remember the first time you brought ink to paper?
Around 2017 when I started my first book. It was a nonfiction, and it was a learning experience for me. It's not for sale, but you can read pieces of it on my blog site, A Better Tomorrow.
"With love and communication, we can solve all of the world's problems."
AJ is a creative writer and storyteller writing from her home in Indiana.
"This is how you do it; you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it's done. It's that easy, and that hard." -Neil Gaiman