<3 The women in my family are all goddesses. We deserve to be celebrated, protected, and loved as such. We have to learn to love ourselves immensely exactly the way we are- without the need for validation from anyone else. Be it the men in our families, colleagues, friends or the world... I was inspired when I saw the pictures from Beyoncé's mother's wedding. I am a huge Bey fan. Some are not and they're entitled to that. anyway, hear me out. When you think of pop culture or what's in the news, who are the biggest most talked about people? The royal family, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt.. All Eurocentric. Who do our girls have to look up to?? So even if you're not a fan of Beyoncé or her family, the image that they portray is critical to our girls understanding that they are EQUAL TO and as important as any other person in this world; that they are not "minorities" but a part greatness; and that they do not have to be oppressed but can create their own opportunities as well as uplift others! But I digress.. It made me think of the beautiful women in my family. The strong, intelligent, talented, driven, passionate, loving, funny, nurturing, women. What we are is amazing. What we are not is irrelevant. We are made perfectly for our purposes, we carry out those purposes perfectly, and we deserve to be appreciated and loved. Respected. I thought about everything that I could remember that the women in my family have accomplished and endured. I am amazed. It's almost unbelievable; and through it all these women have remained the rocks, the strongholds, the organizers, the entertainers, the fixers, the managers, the problem, solvers, and the rescuers. These extraordinary women I am blessed to call my family. My sisters, my daughters, my cousins, my nieces, my aunts, my grandmothers, and my Mother. I am so blessed to be a part of this amazing beautiful matriarchal family. I love y'all.
I watched some of Unsung: Mint Condition on TVOne last night. Mint Condition REALLY REALLY represents how women want to and should be treated and how men SHOULD treat women. The kind of lyrics that their songs had just don’t exist in popular music these days.
I’m a firm believer that what you allow yourself to be exposed to affects the way you think- even if it’s only entertainment!You can see it in the behaviors of young folks these days. I was speaking to a group of young men last summer who happened to be assigned to an “alternative” school about why they made the decisions that they made to get into trouble; to my surprise, they volunteered that artists such as Chief Keef made it cool (in their minds) to be conscienceless criminals who had no problem carrying guns and shooting to kill. ESPECIALLY if it had to do with their money.
What they said was sad enough… but what was worse was that they recognized the problem with that and STILL subscribed to this horrible point of view and lifestyle.
Now, to be fair, my children listen to the radio and watch youtube videos like most other kids. I recognize that even if I banned this stuff in my presence, they will have endless opportunities to watch and listen when I am not around to police. I do address the lyrics in the songs, the images in the videos, and what they mean and don’t mean. I have daughters- I teach let them know that there is no one standard of beauty and not to judge themselves by what they see in media.
Nicki Minaj and the song “Anaconda” gives me the worst case of “what the hell am I supposed to do”. lol The song is raunchy as hell and the video is soft-ish porn. But I remember that I used to LOVE “Baby Got Back” (from which Anaconda’s sample was taken) when I was a little 9 year old. Our parents HATED that kind of music and tried to shield us from it as much as possible; however I think they gave in eventually, standing on what they had taught us to stand against the negative influences.
is FAR from this.
ASIDE: I remember when the song was popular because a singular instance; my family was moving my sister into her college dorm room. We were walking up the stairs with boxes of her stuff in our arms, everyone singing Sir Mix-a-Lot’s lyrics in unison. When the “me me me so horny” line came along, everyone stopped BUT ME. I was so embarrassed but only because I was the only one who was still singing. I had no idea what “horny” meant lol- but I was feeling the high energy of the song!!
I’m always questioning that I’m not saying or doing the right things to give them the tools to become happy and whole women. I try not to let my baggage affect how I manage them. The balance gives me nightmares… Not too permissive and not too strict. Be realistic to make them strong but optimistic to keep them confident.
I listen to old school music from the 50’s up to the 90’s with them and let them see affection between Matthew and me. I want them to know -and SEE- how they should be treated as girls, young ladies, and eventually women; AND how they should carry themselves.
I teach them that while they are exposed to music and images that I wish they weren’t, they MUST think critically about what they emulate and make the choice to first and foremost be good people. Then to define themselves by how they feel is the most authentic versions of themselves… and this changes over time!
I may not be able to completely shield them from all the stupid sh*t out here- but I WILL shine a light on the fact that it is STUPID SH*T so they will know to avoid it.
I HOPE that the purveyors of popular music start peddling music worth listening to. Otherwise, we will continue to avoid listening to the radio (and other entertainment media sources).
The light inside of you (which is in us all) not only shines on those around you- but multiplies when you reflect the light of others!
Imagine if every time you realized that you had an attitude or were feeling down- you took control of your emotions and decided to smile and do something kind for a stranger. IMAGINE how that would change you! Imagine how that would change your day, your week, your year. Imagine that you inspired someone else to do the same.
I realize that I can come off as an idealist or dreamer but this is something of which I am certain:
Any positive change that I have seen in my adult life, began with ME making the decision to see my circumstances from a different perspective. One that is not clouded by the ghosts of past trauma, present pressure, or future fears. One that is steeped in experience, confidence, and excitement. ALWAYS ready to conquer the next mountain.
Because after thirty something years I have FINALLY learned that I am ultimately in control of my experience.
I choose to shine and reflect the light of those around me. I can take no credit for my light. Only honor my creator for blessing me to be me- flaws and all- by being the most authentic version of myself.
I am happy because I love and I am loved. I listen, I speak, I serve. I heal, I create, I destroy. I make mistakes, I make amends. I apologize for none of this because I am made in the image of my creator.
When you realize that it is not only okay to be you, but it is the best, absolutely most fulfilling thing you could ever, EVER do- you can’t stand the thought ever going back to wearing the mask you donned all this years before.
I’m very very agitated at the moment.
The continual disregard for the lives of Black Americans makes me physically ill.
I had a conversation with Matthew recently about how angry it makes me that ANYTIME I see police, I become nervous and I have done NOTHING wrong.
We were getting gas in McGhee, Arkansas a little while back on our way to Biloxi, Mississippi. When Matthew finished pumping the gas, he took a phone call. He was pacing around the car and speaking in an agitated tone. Next thing I see is a police car pull up behind us he sat in the car for a while, got out and fiddled with his wallet, got back in his car, and watched Matthew. Then, another police car pulls up beside the first and they sit there, both watching Matthew. I got so scared, I drove to the other side of the parking lot to get Matthew to follow and away from the police. We left and the police followed for a while (my assumption is that they were running my tags) and eventually they turned off the highway.
Why was my heart racing? Why was I so afraid for Matthew??
Because I know that because he is a Black man, he is an automatic target. All they needed was a reason to approach him and that could have been ample reason to detain, arrest, harass, assault, and possibly kill my husband.
SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE. We are human. We should not have to beg not to be shot by police whose job it is to protect and serve.
Rest in peace to Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Oscar Grant, and the countless other innocent victims of overly aggressive, ill-prepared, untrained, inhumane police officers who have no regard for human life.
So over the last few years, I’ve gained quite a bit of weight. My normal weight is 130-138. I’m 5’3.75″ (yes, that’s 3 3/4 inches- lol). My current weight is… Yeah right. Let’s just say it’s more than an upward fluctuation.
I believe there are 4 contributing factors:
1. A health issue that makes it quite difficult to lose body fat
2. I eat WAY more than I did before I got married (Matthew eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner- and is an AWESOME cook.)
3. I am not as active as I was before I got married
4. I am traveling for work 3-5 days a week so I eat at restaurants quite a bit
I used to be able to give just a little effort and see results quickly. NO MORE.
I sometimes feel sorry for myself when I look at myself in the mirror. I’ve worked out like a mad woman, taken the fat burning pills, juiced, fasted, changed my eating habits, etc. etc. etc. and none of it has made any major dent; at the most I’ve lost 5-8 pounds. Is it because of the proverbial “Curse of the 30’s” ?? [[SIDENOTE: I know I’m not young anymore.. I am so annoyed by most of the pop culture to which I thought I’d always be able to relate]]
When I living in San Francisco, I lost about 15 pounds. I attributed that to not eating (i.e. sweet pickles and applesauce for dinner) which I was fine with- I generally eat to live when it’s just me AND I walked at least 3 or 4 miles each day total (not having a car is quite common there and public transportation [BART, MUNI, Caltrain] are the mode of transportation of choice for most.)
Sometimes I forget how much weight I’ve gained but the tighter my clothes get, I can’t deny it. I feel like I am the same but when I look at my old pictures, it’s very telling… and miss that metabolism lol.. Oh well.
So looking forward this year, I’ll be proactive about getting back on my medication, managing my food intake, be excited about working out again, and updating this thing with a new post entitled: “I’m not fat anymore.”
Two days until Christmas.
For the last few years, as a family we have had some financial hardships. Ups and downs.
But it seemed that each year, around Christmas things became really difficult and we would have to scale back on our Christmas giving plans. This year since we lost our house and are chipping away at these projects it seems even more pronounced. I have been doing well, being positive and keeping Matthew positive as much as possible. Even when things seem the most grim, it’s not difficult for me to see where the positive is.
Today, I woke up feeling super positive. I only slept a few hours but I felt really good when I woke up. I said- “Something great is happening today”. I can feel it.
But after I got out the shower and into the car- Matthew told me we had $240 to get Christmas gifts for all the kids. (That’s 5) I immediately began to feel defeated. I thought I was frustrated, but it was more of a deflated feeling.
As we drove, I decided that I needed to go back to Shammy’s house and get my computer so I could do some work and earn some more cash. We got to Starbucks and Matthew asked me what we should do to help lift my spirit. I said nothing. I knew in my head, and my mind was saying “Please pray for me!” but there was something more powerful controlling what was coming out of my mouth.
We sat at the table and he was trying so hard to help me, but I realized that it wasn’t just frustration or the blues. I had a demon on me. It was the spirit of failure, inadequacy, and giving up. He was controlling my mouth- not my thoughts. He wouldn’t allow me to say that I needed Matthew to pray for me.
What I did say is that I wanted to drink- a LOT. I wanted to get drunk and be dark. Go to sleep and wake up and drink more. Of course, Matthew rejected that idea.. I got enough strength to tell him that I was trapped inside my mind and that this demon was controlling my mouth. Tricking me into believing that I was powerless to stop him. Matthew asked me again what should we do.
I excused myself to the bathroom. When I got there, I looked in the mirror; I saw my face but I didn’t recognize myself. There was this look of- “ha. I’m in control and you can’t do anything about it.” It was him and it was down right scary. I had to cover my eyes.
I remembered that recurring dream that I have had since I was a kid (about my home -usually in Grady- being possessed by demons) and found the strength to do what I needed to do!!
I looked at myself in the mirror and rebuked the demon and the devil himself in the name of Jesus who died for my sins and Jehovah the Most High God! I repeated myself and immediately felt that demon depart from me.
THIS IS STUFF YOU SEE IN MOVIES AND I SWEAR THAT I’M NOT EXAGGERATING!!
I have to look into this and figure out what to do. I’ve always had a very REAL awareness and connection to this spiritual world but I wasn’t sure what it was or what it meant. I’m beginning to see now.
Saturday morning I woke up with a purpose.
Since Friday I failed at my plan to go out into the world and work remotely, I decided to get up early and GET GONE.
Carolina emailed me and asked if I wanted to meet at 1pm in Oakland. PERFECT. So I get moving. I used a public transit app (that shall remain nameless) that did okay but really left me guessing quite a bit. First, I walked to the wrong place, missed the first bus, and then it left me hanging after getting to Embarcadero. The description had touted that it would navigate me through MUNI as well as BART. Well, it lied. I was still able to get where I was going though.
Because of all the confusion and delays, it took me so long that it was closer to 2pm by the time I got to Oakland. Carolina would have to leave at 3 but I was determined. When I arrived at the Merritt Lake BART station I called Carolina, she gave me directions to get to Merritt Lake Park- which turns out is the same place we were at the night before at the party.
She wanted to meet me at least to make sure I went to the right place (and avoided the wrong ones lol). We met at the lake and walked to a cute little coffee shop (Merritt Station Cafe) right across the street. I had the dirty iced chai tea and it was beyond delicious.
We ended up talking until a quarter to five. Her insight as a former investor and founder herself was gold. She also suggested that I use the HOPSTOP app to navigate back. We wrapped up and I began my trek back to the BART station. I strolled leisurely around Merritt Lake, enjoying the beautiful weather, when I heard someone say, “Maria!”
Wait. What? I’m in OAKLAND. Okay… maybe they are talking to someone else. “MARIA!” I looked up and saw Morgan- the lady we rode up on the elevator with the night before. She was slacklining and invited me to give it a shot. It was addictive, though I had to hold her hand the entire time I was up. She offered to give me a walking / driving tour of Oakland. OF COURSE, I accepted. So for about an hour and a half, she drove me around- top dropped on the car- showing me all the non-touristy things she could think of. I was in heaven!
She asked me detailed questions about what I do and my views on certain issues that others in similar fields faced. The conversation was great. She took me to the BART station and offered her phone number to keep in touch. Cool!
As I waited on the train back to SF I noticed a poster for a Filipino festival. It was the one I saw at Yerba Buena Gardens one of the times I got confused by that horrible first app! It was for Saturday and Sunday only, but I had to get on back before dark so I made a mental note to get back there before it ended. Cool.
My ride back to the apartment was easy- since I went back pretty much the same way I came. All was well and I was most definitely glad that I made the trip.
My chance meeting became the second dot that will become a line!