I am currently in the middle of a packing frenzy as I prepare to move across the states and get accustomed to new surroundings, new people, and new things. As challenging as I know it will be, I truly enjoy the hustle and bustle of it all. I have moved more times than I can count on both hands, and the reason has always been because I enjoy the feeling of re-inventing myself. Designing new space and creating something magical is quite exciting. The process of going through closets and drawers allows a moment of reminiscing, followed by sincere smiles. A picture tucked away, an article of clothing that I wore to a memorable event, or maybe even special greeting cards I received over the years. There are some things I find necessary to discard, and some that will forever have a place in my life wherever my next destination takes me.
Less is more...so they say. Who 'they' is I may never know, however, I am sure you have heard the saying before. Having never been successful at implementing the idea behind it, I incorporated a habit of going with the flow and taking it from there until I realized change is not something I need to be afraid of.
Imagine how cluttered your home would be if you held on to every single article of clothing, all the electronics you have ever purchased, or perhaps all the cars you have owned over the course of twenty years or more. Living this way can at times cause a great deal of frustration, and insurmountable stress which will create an even larger obstacle to overcome. Sometimes it warrants removing certain elements, things, and even people from your life to allow a new and enhanced way of living.
"Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions." -Barbara Hemphill
Similar to packing up your home and discarding things that no longer serve a purpose, the same rules apply when it comes to the people you choose to have in your circle. The older I grow, the more this makes perfect sense. I have many people in my life, who are amazing! I also have those who I knew could no longer take a seat at the table on my next journey. It's not personal, yet so personal. The power of peace is important for your overall well-being, and if it isn't, you should make moves to ensure it remains at the top of your list of things to achieve. It can feel like a balancing act trying to keep it all together while feeling the need to make everyone else happy, except yourself.
There is no written rule on how to begin the process of determining what and who truly matters. Learning how to declutter your home and your personal life takes time, so go at your own pace. I wish I had the perfect solution, but I do not. For myself, it was something that seemed to happen one day, although I realize it was part of my growth over the years.
Never feel bad for doing whatever it takes to make yourself happy. Harsh realities are an integral part of the plot twist in life, once you learn to accept them, peace will soon follow.
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.
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.
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.
It’s been a bitch of a day, work was insanely busy, traffic a whole entire nightmare and you just want to get home to that hunk of dark chocolate, moist and delicious, melt in your mouth cake you brought home from dinner last night. It is single-handedly the one thing that will put a smile on your face. Along with a tall glass of milk to wash it all down. Perfection has never been as flawless as this vision of loveliness you have just painted in your mind. The diet will start tomorrow, but today, there is cake and that’s all that matters!
Your husband is picking up the kids so there is a small window of opportunity to simply do you for a change. The first order of business, kick off the work shoes, pin the hair back and change into something comfortable because it’s about to go down in approximately 6 1/2 minutes. For just a second it crosses your mind that maybe you should check to make sure no one has touched your cake, but they would dare not cross enemy lines and start that type of war. Besides, they remember how painful it was to eat dads cooking for a week after your skinny pop mysteriously went missing.
There are two sides.
Side A: You believe that a new year means a brand new you, along with the opportunity to re-invent yourself, possibly make a few necessary changes that you weren't able to in the previous year. It's a fresh start, your goals are prepped and ready for full implementation. You love everyone and your new profile pic is an image of a cute furry animal!
Side B: You are the same exact person you were before the clock struck midnight and there is absolutely nothing you want to change about yourself. Simply put, it's just another day and you are ready for the weekend so you can be left alone. Your profile pic is the same as it was last year, because once again, nothing has changed!
The new year is upon is, goals have been set and are perfectly in order however there is still so much disruption and unbalance that we continue to be thrown off. Adjustments are necessary in order to set our lives back into a forward and positive motion. It's as if we were hired as extras in a movie we didn't ask to be in. How do we escape what seems to be a scene straight out of The Matrix? Watching the world unfold is heartbreaking, terrifying and absolutely discouraging.
I grew up in Gary, Indiana at one time known to be the murder capital of the nation. If you calculate the number of residents against the number of killings the statistics might frighten you. It was and still is the place I call home. Hearing the news of another killing was just another day in the life of a girl from the hood. Moving away from my hometown in my early 20s I truly had no idea of the differences between two sides, the race wars that were brewing and the fight for justice and humanity that will forever be an ongoing battle. I was young, I had not a care in the world. I grew up, I started listening and my views changed which is the natural progression of most. So we hope!
The events of the past year were heavy which made it understandable that the world was ready for a fresh start, a new beginning and hope for a better outcome. Re-building as a nation is long overdue and it starts with the men and women who were deemed worthy enough to lead this great place of The United States of America. The stakes are high, the people are watching, the people are nervous and in high anticipation of a day when we can exhale and get ready for a much-needed woosah!
We all know what's going on in the world, there is no need to call out names and put folks on blast, they did a pretty amazing job of doing that all on their own. With all things there is a little rain even on a bright and sunny day. I'm highly optimistic however I would be telling a tale if I wasn't wondering where the silver lining was in all of this. The dawn of a new day brings about hope for change. Hope that the great people in this world can come together and join forces instead of continuing to widen the gap with confusion and anger. I choose to smile through it because frowning causes lines I am not ready for. And I pray because I believe in the power it brings.
Be good to one another, learn from the mistakes of yesterday and let's pick up the pieces and push forward. ☀️
I've spent the better part of this year trying to simply figure out the agenda behind it all. What direction will I travel in, what do I do now and what exactly do I say. While those are clearly questions, they are also the boldest statements and facts of 2020. It firmly goes without saying this is the year we all want to forget, and for many reasons. The year of unknowns, heartache, new revelations, fear and dismay. A barrier is defined as a fence or other obstacle that prevents movement or access. I think you catch my drift by now.
One of things people hate more than anything is being told what to do, how to do it and when they should do the things they have grown to love each and every day of their lives. Some of us conformed and some fought back with the stubbornness of a toddler who was just forfeited play time. You can turn it upside down, sideways, look at it through rose colored glasses, the picture remains the same. This isn't the time when you get to change the narrative without adjusting the plot twist just a bit.
It was a Saturday afternoon and when I initially woke my plans were to find something amazing on Netflix to binge and simply relax. As I started cleaning I realized I had never hung a picture behind my headboard. If you knew how OCD I could be at times you would know that every single morning it bothered me that there was this empty space looking all naked and lonely. Trust that it wasn't from lack of searching, but the problem was I had never found the perfect picture to hang, so I decided to wait until I saw what I was looking for. Well, no time like the present to skip on over to my favorite accessory store and just take a peek. After all it's free to look and I probably won't find anything anyway. This is my internal way of attempting to convince myself that I did not need to go shopping, but who needs that type of negativity in their life??? Off I go!
Twenty minutes later, 4 candles, a box of tea, and one amazing picture in my shopping cart, I was smiling from ear to ear because I knew that I had found the perfect picture after all of this time. It's the little things right? So they say. I have stepped into the chapter of my life where things have to be balanced with purpose. Where is that gonna go? Don't I already own 5 of those? Will it fit in my car is truly the only question that requires an answer, because I will find a way to make it work even if I am doing a tiny bit of hoarding in the process.
There are so many topics we would rather not discuss, and death is most certainly one of them but it's part of a necessary agenda that we all must face. Can we block those uncomfortable discussions and feelings and replace them with thoughts that only bring joy? Sure, but that doesn't change the inevitable doom lingering in the background. Faced with despair, loss of direction on what to do next and the feeling that there is no hope, you find yourself stuck in a spiral of doubt that often times gets much worse before it gets better. If we could erase thoughts like a bad dream it would be an easy task but unfortunately that's not reality.
The one truism in life that I have learned to accept as I grow older is that we are all born into this world, and we will all surely die. What that day is we will never know and quite honestly I don't think it would bring on an amazing sense of comfort if we did. Take a movie for example. Part of the excitement is trying to figure out what is going to happen and preparing yourself for the ending. Would you still watch that movie if you knew the ending in advance? The answer is likely no as it would take away the mystery and excitement and give you nothing to look forward to. And for some the answer quite possibly might be yes, either way we have to learn to accept that everyone has their own way of dealing with the inevitable fate that is death.
AJ writes & blogs from her home in Indiana. You can also find her work as a contributing writer at www.groovmagazine.com
"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