New Year’s Eve

It’s here. The last day of 2013. Can you believe it?

I awoke to find an email from WordPress, detailing the milestones and stats for the year. My top posts included a brief remembrance of my mother, Marla’s narrative on living with lupus, and the introduction of the Joy Jar – a beautiful idea I may revisit in the coming year.

I also began writing about sexual violence and I spent a good deal of time pondering a theory of love, something I plan to do a great deal more of in 2014. My thinking and writing are always evolving and it’s enlightening to see what resonates from month to month and year to year. I hope you’ll continue to join me on the journey.

Wherever you are in space and time, I hope you are winding down the year with an abundance of peace and joy. I pray the dawning year is full of beauty, love, and good cheer. And if you should wish it, a standing ovation…

wonder“Bravo!” I heard Dad yelling through his hands.

“Why is everyone getting up?” I said.

“It’s a standing ovation,” said Mom, getting up.

So I got up and clapped and clapped. I clapped until my hands hurt. For a second, I imagined how cool it would be to be Via and Justin right then, having all these people standing up and cheering for them.

I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.

Top posts for September

Here are the top posts from last month’s 30in30 challenge:

September is my mom’s birth month. She was on my mind, and subsequently, on my blog. Early in the month, I wrote about the Barnes and Noble she never had the chance to enjoy. Later, on her birthday, I shared a co-worker’s wisdom about mothers and grief. In short, losing a mother can leave you broken-hearted, even a decade later.

I talked about vulnerability and learning to be “intentionally transparent” with the one you love. Easy to want, but often hard to do. It boils down to being honest with yourself first. That level of honesty and clarity about myself and my needs is at the root of an emotional wellness strategy I learned in September.

Emotional wellness is important, but wellness extends to many domains. In honor of National Women’s Health & Fitness day, I wrote about prioritzing physical wellness in the face of a busy lifestyle.

Last month, Diana Nyad made history, and she endures as a testament to dreaming big, and never giving up. It is with that spirit that I welcome October. I’m revising and devising my goals and striving forward each day. I wish the same for you.

You are the sunshine of my life…

The blogosphere can be a cheerful place, and one of the things I like best about it is how fellow bloggers cheer each other on. We do this by commenting on posts and amplifying favorite posts across social media. We also give kudos and encouragement by nominating each other for awards. In her entry yesterday, Alexis nominated me for a Sunshine Award. The requirement for this award? Another blogger simply enjoying my blog! It’s a sweet sentiment and a nice reminder that although people aren’t always visible or vocal, they’re still reading.

Sunshine Award recipients have duties:

  • Include the Sunshine Award logo (above) in your blog post.
  • Link to the person who nominated you.
  • Answer these 10 questions about yourself (below).
  • Nominate 10 bloggers and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

I don’t read 10 blogs regularly, so I won’t nominate that many. I will say that two of my favorite blogs are Joshunda’s Tumblr which is always inspirational and interesting, and Intelligentsia Brown’s Get Chose Movement which is probably best described as scholarly ratchetry. She hasn’t written  much as of late, but neither have I. I’m hoping for a resurgence soon. There are a few others I enjoy from time to time, and I reserve the right to add to this list throughout the month. :-).

So about those questions…

1. If you couldn’t blog anymore, what would your “outlet” be?

I love Twitter, and I definitely use that as a way to fellowship and communicate and develop ideas. I have a decent following there and I learn a lot through engaging my tweeps.

2. If you could go to a spa and get any treatment they provided, what would you get?

I go to spas at least annually (on my birthday), but I strive for more often than that. I always get a massage and a pedicure, but lately I’ve also added facials. The best treatment I’ve had was a combo wrap, scrub, massage, reflexology deal in Mexico a few years ago. So what would I get? All of the above, please.

3. If you could go back in time, would you have followed a different career path than you did? What would it be?

I have a journalism degree, and I’d still like to dust it off and put it to good use. If I could have a do over I may have pursued magazine journalism or creative writing – both things I was angling toward when I veered toward teaching instead. In any event, I’m happy I became an educator, and I plan to begin my second career as a writer sometime around my 40th birthday.

4. You can plan any type of vacation you want. Would you want relaxing or adventurous?

I’m all about relaxation. Sure, we can add a little bit of adventure to the mix, but mostly I long for time and space to recuperate and recharge. Give me a couple of days on Caribbean island and I’m set.

5. What food do you hide from your kids and sneak after they go to bed?

I don’t have kids. If I have any later, or become a stepmom at some point, I’m not quite sure what I’d hide from them. I don’t eat anything that I don’t recommend children eat.

6. What TV show (that is currently on) are you addicted to?

I stopped watching live TV over a year ago, and I haven’t plugged my television up since I moved in April. Because so many people have talked about Orange is the New Black, I have started watching Season 1 on Netflix. I enjoy it, but I’m not addicted. I generally spend free time reading, tweeting, or spending time with my SO.

7. What was the best book you’ve ever read?

Hmm. This is a hard one. There are lots of best books. In fact, I’m gonna just refuse to name one. Some of my favorites include:

  • most of the Harry Potter books,
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God,
  • Silver Sparrow,
  • 32 Candles,
  • The Narrative of Frederick Douglass,
  • The Bluest Eye,
  • several of the early Alex Cross novels,
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham,
  • most Judy Blume books,
  • Philip Hall Likes Me, I Reckon, Maybe,
  • I Wish I Had a Red Dress, and
  • Interviewing as Qualitative Research.

As you can see, I find pleasure in all sorts of books.

8. Do you play a musical instrument? If not, what would you play if you could?

I’m a flautist. Or was. I’d love to learn piano. I took lessons for two weeks one summer and it was great.

9. What was the first and last concert you’ve been to?

Tricky. Growing up, I went to a few concerts with my parents. One stands out in particular: The Tempting Temptations and the Fabulous Four Tops at Chastain Park in Atlanta. I haven’t really been to concerts much since then. The only other one that stands out was 2 Live Crew at FAMU my freshman year. Ratchet, yes indeed.

10. What is your favorite holiday?

Growing up it was Christmas. Mainly because I loved Christmas lights and singing Christmas songs around the house. I remember shunning the commercial aspect of Christmas as early as elementary school, and I never really celebrated for religious purposes. For both of those reasons, I’m not really into holidays at all now, but I do enjoy celebrating days of personal importance. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Days like that are special, or holy to me. I have an anniversary coming up, actually. September 15th. Blue and I will celebrate one year together. That’s not significant to anyone else, but it’s important to us.

And speaking of sunshine…

Hello, July.

If you’ve been around these parts for a bit, you know I tend to blog in spurts. I’ll go for a few weeks of daily posting and then go off the grid allegedly to work on other things.

Generally speaking, I have good reasons for taking breaks. Eventually, those good reasons fade away into habitual neglect and I find myself wondering when I’m going to start back up again.

Dormancy/ recuperation is one thing. Neglect/ atrophy is something else entirely. The past couple of weeks in particular, my refusal to blog or write offline has felt more like the latter than the former.

I enjoy blogging when I’m actually blogging, so it seems today is the day to get back to it. I’ve been mulling quite a few topics in recent weeks. I’m not sure which, if any, will make it to the blog. I suppose we’ll find out together.

I’ve missed this space. It’s nice to be back.

Today at lunch…

I mentioned my plans to transition out of K-12 and into reading/writing/teaching about women’s issues. I highlighted rape culture and sexual violence and fibroids by name, although my net is cast a bit wider than these. The woman who inquired about my goals made the raised eyebrow/pulled down lips/impressed face and nodded. “Wow. Good for you. What got you moving in that direction?”

Who knows?

It brings to mind a similar question asked of Angela Davis. In a lecture recorded as The Prison Industrial Complex, she discussed her activist beginnings: “What made you decide to become an activist? What was that pivotal event in your life? And for years and years I thought about it.” She went on to mention the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that killed four little girls in Birmingham, Alabama, and how she initially believed that to be the catalyst. Upon further reflection, she realized that wasn’t it:

Finally, after struggling with this for years, I decided that there really was no particular moment when I decided to become an activist. As a matter of fact, I grew up with the idea that in order to live in segregated circumstances… my parents basically taught us that we had to be critical of the way things were. Otherwise, we could not affirm our own humanity. And that we had to dedicate our lives to the kind of transformation that would make this a better world to live in for all of us. And so I’ve learned that wherever I am, whatever I happen to be doing at the moment, I have to fulfill that commitment that has informed my life.

Now, I don’t have years invested in feminist activism and advocacy, so it’s not like I have a long history to consider. Despite my brief affiliation, I’m hard pressed to supply a satisfying answer. In fact, today was my first encounter with the question; I’ve simply never thought about why. So I sputtered. In fact, I’m writing now, more as a think-aloud, than to offer a definitive answer.

I think it’s a series of dots that are just now being connected. For instance, I’ve practiced Nichiren Buddhism for 13 years now. Studying and practicing a life philosophy grounded in human potential and equality leans one ever toward more progressive and compassionate ways of knowing and being. Encountering Paulo Freire and critical pedagogy in graduate school 5 years ago is another dot. A huge one really. Unlike the constant flow of the water of Buddhism, reading Freire and studying critical inquiry pedagogy caused a fiery, seismic shift.

Then there was the class that wasn’t. The University of Georgia offered a course on Black women’s narratives. I attended the first day, but enrollment was low, and the class didn’t make. The professor showed Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk on the Danger of the Single Story – which became seed as much as dot – and I eventually ordered all the books on her syllabus. I started my own class really, and began reading (and writing) when I could. Dot.

A series of shares in the Red Clay Writing Project’s Summer Institute led me to brainstorm a study on teenage rape narratives, and I wrote and studied my own as a pilot. Dot. An article here or there would move me to anger, tears, or elation. Dot. And suddenly, here we are. At the beginning, still. And like any other journey, each day is an opportunity for another step.

Onward.

Love, violence and transformations: A recap.

March was a great month of endings, beginnings, and transformations in general. I updated this space every day while in the midst of a whirlwind. The high energy and nonstop pace is in full swing for another couple of days, but I wanted to take a breath to share the top posts from last month.

So I just moved. And I don’t know about you, but for me moving is a special process full of resistance, excitement, and everything in between. I was slow to get started, but eventually, I did start packing. I’ve only spent one night in my new place, so no, I’m not settled yet.

I’m always fascinated by narratives and the power of story, and maybe some of you are too? This blog about knowing your family’s narrative, got a lot of attention.

Early in the month I wrote about the importance of telling your own story – if not to others, then at the very least, to yourself. I didn’t know that post and subsequent events in the real world would set the stage for me to share my own story of sexual violence. I’ve been investigating my rape narrative for nearly two years now, and I felt moved to share my side of things with the ex who violated me. Readers and friends asked me what I hoped to gain by all of this. I wrote this in response. I found myself writing so much about sexual violence in March, I added a new category. I’ve been quiet on the topic as of late, but I expect to be writing more about it in the coming months.

Violence of any kind takes place when there is an absence of love. I don’t believe individuals and subsequently, society, can truly be whole without a serious infusion of love

Here’s to healing.

Good vibrations.

I’ve reached that point in the packing process where the acoustics in my apartment have started to change. And really, the energy has been shifting all along in concert with my mood. Anticipation. Excitement. Stress. Sadness. Joy. It’s making the packing go slowly. Which is fine. Packing, moving, like anything else in life, is a process.

And on it goes.

2 days. #countdown