Resilience

My Post (2)The good thing about the COVID-19 madness going on right now is that many people, myself included, are finding ways to reconnect with long lost hobbies (or people). The long lost hobby that I have personally reconnected with, if you can’t tell from the dates of my last three posts, is writing.

Writing always makes me feel better. I have journalled since I was in first grade and in the past when I’ve been especially down, reading the thoughts of a 7 year old version of myself always put me in a better mood. It’s so lovely.

Today, I wrote the following poem about resilience. I hope that reading it makes you feel a little more strong and able to continue on while the world is affected by the coronavirus.

 

RESILIENCE

3/20/20     4:08 pm

I am wind,

Flexible and free,

Present, yet unseen,

Moving, yet sometimes still

I am an energy to be felt.

I am oak,

Strong and sure

Changing,

Growing,

Enduring,

Evolving,

Adapting.

Sometimes, I forget these things.

Sometimes, I don’t remember that I am capable,

That I am resilient.

Sometimes, the reflection in the mirror appears weakened, broken, and sad.

Sometimes, I cannot see because I cannot rest.

I am the whole universe,

Experiencing this tumult, just as everyone else, just as every other universe, just as you.

Together, we are changing, growing, enduring, evolving, and adapting.

Together, we can rest, and remember. 

3 Ways Being Hood has Prepared You for the Coronavirus

My PostI am coming to you, writing this, from the comfort of my home. I imagine many of you are reading this from your homes, too.

As I am writing this, it’s lunch time and because of the coronavirus and all its nasty impacts, I am now tasked to prepare yet another of my own meals. As of this writing, I have now prepared 100% of my own meals for the past two days. My will power is dwindling and has been stretched to its limits.

Trying to avoid having to clean YET ANOTHER pot, I have decided to eat leftovers. For what I have on hand, the fastest leftovers is the dish preferred by Baby Boomer Black moms everywhere: spaghetti.

As I prepare to heat up the spaghetti, I realize that right now, in these high stakes moments, I have turned on myself, doing to myself what I said I would never do, and that is to tell MYSELF: “Self, IT’S SOME SPAGHETTI IN THERE!” when I ask myself what’s for lunch. I have heard “It’s some spaghetti in there” from my own mother many times, but never, ever, did I think I would have to say those words to myself. I prepare myself to eat the “spaghetti that’s in there” and  long for the sweet embrace of Wendy’s chicken nuggets.

So, before I begrudgingly but somehow also thankfully, “go sit down somewhere” and eat this spaghetti that was “in there”, I wanted to share 3 other ways that “hood / poor / brown / insert your own adjective here/ ghetto” people are specially equipped to deal with the coronavirus pandemonium.

Hood Advantage #1: You Likely Have Leftovers

leftovers

Image credit: https://giphy.com/gifs/Bounce-TV-comedy-bounce-3ov9jEOwe82gUOm6D6

As I have already mentioned, you probably already “got some spaghetti in there.” You might also have:

  • Some Chinese takeout from a few days ago, before that RONA got you shook
  • Some fruit that is soft, but not quite old enough for you to be afraid to eat it
  • Some more fruit that can be thrown into a smoothie that you will drink and wish was ice cream
  • Some green vegetables that you can finally use to make that recipe from the New York Times that you definitely wouldn’t otherwise make unless you just had to (shots fired at myself)
  • Lots of sauce packets from fast food places you’d really like to go to right now

Hood Advantage #2: Your Momma Already Programmed You to be a Germaphobe

germaphobe

https://giphy.com/gifs/funny-star-trek-school-3ne4TnvHYegzm

My mom has been mostly healthy her whole life (so thankful!) and this coronavirus stuff has made me realize why my mom, and other Black moms, are seemingly super people when it comes to avoiding germs and viruses: they “don’t fool with them nasty ass people.” Having a hood momma has prepared you to avoid lots of coronavirus having ass people, places, and situations.

Your mom, like my own, probably does the following things to MAKE SURE they are not, in fact, fooling with them nasty ass people:

  • Hovering over the toilet in public bathrooms
  • Washing your hands before and after you use a public bathroombecause you had to touch that nasty ass door to get in there anyway
  • Opening all public doors with a paper towel, your sleeve, or jacket hem
  • Keeping *STOCKED UP* on cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer, 24/7, 365 days per year and not just cleaning “when this corona thang is going on”
  • Keeping community sized tissue boxes in their purses *all of the time.* My own mother has given tissues to complete strangers…and then washed her hands afterwards (because although my mom is a saint, she still ain’t “fooling with them nasty ass people”)

Hood Advantage #3: You Already Know How to “Not be Tripping”

oprah

https://giphy.com/gifs/oprah-bath-relaxing-MvZKiDJmB1XEs

Look, growing up in the hood and/or poor (rich people and scholars call this being “socioeconomically disadvantaged”) is no cake walk. Many aspects of hood life require you to be thankful, gracious, flexible, and resilient. These four qualities produce people who are not, in fact, “really tripping.”

Sure, you are likely taking the necessary health precautions, but if you have been able to somehow still maintain your mental health levels so far, your hood upbringing may be to thank.

Growing up in the hood requires you to learn to sometimes just accept things as they are. Learning to accept things as they are while simultaneously not being discouraged by them, is not only a Zen Master level type skill; it’s also the entire curriculum required to pass Hood 101.

Here are a few hood examples of things that are not easily or quickly change, but despite how much these things suck, hood people continue to live, laugh, love, thrive, and “keep it moving”…

For example:

  • The police might “always be around when nobody even called they ass.”
  • They got money “for all that other shit but won’t fix these raggedy ass streets.”also, “if these raggedy ass streets was over there by where them rich folks live at, they woulda BEEN fixed.”
  • Your next door neighbors may suffer from unwarranted feelings of superiority to you aka “Susie Q nem think she better than us because ole boy she fooling with done went and bought her that old raggedy ass Cadillac.”

You get the idea.

These are all things that just have to be accepted as they are for the time being. And, thanks to your hood conditioning and magma cum laude status as a fine graduate of the hood, you’re especially capable of getting through this coronavirus shit! For real, you ain’t even trippin’ off this coronavirus shit. You’ve got your ginger ale, saltines, and your momma’s prayers…what is there to be tripping about?

Now, if you or someone you know is not from the hood, disinfect your phone and call them. Tell them that you love them. Tell them that right now, it is what it is. Tell them to don’t fool with no nasty ass people. And most importantly, tell them that there is, hidden away, in the recesses of the fridge, already SOME SPAGHETTI IN THERE!

Proof that in my house, there really was some spaghetti in there:

IMG_5895

Spotting Meaning

If you’re an average American worker like me, chances are pretty good that you feel your work is pretty meaningless.

I, too, feel the pain and confusion of a meaningless existence most days.

But, there’s one thing that I do that I take very seriously and provides meaning to my life sometimes: teaching.

I’ve taught different people from different places in the world all different things. It’s rewarding so I keep falling back into it.

I think I’m well suited for teaching because I leave my ego outside the classroom.

My ego is substantial, so I have to leave it in the attic just to have enough space for it, but wherever it is, I don’t let it go with me into the classroom.

It’s kind of a relief and leaves me with enough mental space to care about the students and how well they’re learning. I take that part very seriously.

What do you take seriously? Does anything give your life a spark of meaning?

Until tomorrow my friends…

4:04 AM

Day 2 of the 5 day Get Outta Bed Challenge was actually a CHALLENGE.

This morning, I woke up at 4:04 AM. Yes, you read that right. That’s not a typo.

Based on the previous rule that I set for myself, I tried to go back to sleep, since it was before 5:30 am. I was unsuccessful.

So, at about 5:40 am, I got out of bed and went downstairs. I was miserable. When I am tired, I yawn a lot (newsflash!) but I also  feel like a weird amount of heat in my body and head, like I have a fever. It’s very strange, but I feel it every time I am tired. I guess it’s my brain working overtime to wake up, wake up.

I drank a mason jar full of cold water and sat on the couch. I didn’t really know what else to do. It was SO EARLY and I desperately wanted to go back to sleep.

I sat there until I decided to turn on the computer. I watched a few mindless Buzzfeed videos until my brain was a little more awake. I then poured myself a bowl of those healthy, but bland, Whole Foods brand cheerios. I had it with almond milk and pecans; a possibly vegan breakfast for a definitely half dead zombie person.

Eventually, I sat down at my desk, about an hour later. I began to work. I have ZERO IDEAS that early in the morning, unless the ideas are about going back to sleep. I was committed to staying awake, however. I eventually drank a cup of Lady Grey tea.

I plowed through work until about 9:30 am when sleep came back around the corner. I was like a large brick that someone threw from a building; I crashed and thudded against the ground with a quick and certain weight. My eyes wouldn’t stay open; I fell back asleep for 90 minutes, sprawled across the bed, still wearing my robe, feet mostly dangling from the bed.

After the before noon power nap, I worked more, then made a salad with salmon. I knew I couldn’t eat much carbs or sugar, or else I’d end up back asleep.

The rest of the afternoon was uneventful and my body adjusted. It was nice. But now, tomorrow I will have to catch up a bit on some work and hopefully my body will be more aware of all the work I have to do and my deadlines.

But, to be honest, my body just usually does what it does, and I am at its whims and wishes.

Here’s to hopes that I sleep past 4:04 am tonight!

Until tomorrow, my friends…

 

Oh, P.S. here are two photos that I took, one looking out the window before the sun came up and the other shortly after the sun rose. This was a nice part of being up so early.

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Weird Dreams #1

My waking brain may not be full of writing inspiration today, but thankfully, my sleeping brain is coming in with the hail Mary, throwing an incredible pass, with me here, sitting at my keyboard, waiting to catch it and share it with you.

Today’s post reveals a little known fact about me: I have WEIRD ASS DREAMS.

Do you?

This has been an affliction (or should I say gift?) for as long as I remember. I still remember one of the weirdest dreams that I ever had–one where I was hanging out with Patrick Stewart and the rest of the Star Trek Next Generation crew at an off-world theme park. Turns out, even in my dreams and even on a different planet, I still vomit if I ride the roller coaster. Go figure; just my luck. I remember having that dream when I was maybe in middle school.

Last night, I had a super weird dream, too.

In my dream last night, I was shopping at a local grocery chain named “Fiesta.” My friends who know me will know that this dream is already super weird because I absolutely loathe going into any of the Fiesta stores. They’re great stores, with seemingly mountains and mountains of produce, but they’re just so damn big that I feel lost before I even make it out of the parking lot.

Back to the dream…

So, I was walking around a Fiesta store, minding my own business, when out of nowhere, up walks a plainly dressed Denzel Washington.

YES, Denzel Washington. No, I have not thought about him or even seen one of his  movies since that one called “Fences”, which I think came out in 2016. I barely watch any television and the last movie I saw was “The Greatest Showman” and Hugh Jackman looks nothing like Denzel Washington. And, no, I have no idea what the f*ck, to be honest.

Let’s continue, now that you’re as confused, but hopefully amused, as me…

Mr. Washington is dressed in a rather drab, long brown trench coat. I don’t remember the rest of his garb, but I remember this hideous and unstylish coat, which makes him look like a sloppy old dude, instead of a dapper Hollywood movie star.

“Do you want to know a secret?” he asks.

I looked at him, in confusion and horror, still trying to figure out why on Earth his coat is so got damn ugly, and I shake my head.

“Uhh, no, no I don’t,” I rejected him. He looks confused and walks away. I remain confused, standing still.

He walks farther and farther away, and I stand still, in the dream, for what felt like at least five minutes. I watch him walk around the produce section, with the mountainous piles of oranges and avocados concealing his lower body. I watch him wind up and down the aisles, casually shopping for yellow rice and candies. He seemed so damn, hmm, REGULAR.

Eventually, I snap out of it, and decide that I’m being a huge creep, and I go about my own shopping. Later still, I think, Wait, who wouldn’t want to know a secret that Denzel Washington has?

As I am in a checkout line, I decide to apologize and ask him to tell me the secret. I get out of line, and frantically walk along the registers, looking for him. I spot him. I go over and get behind him in his line.

“Mr. Washington, umm, about before, well, umm, yeah, I’m sorry, and, umm, can I get in on that secret now?” I stumble.

He smiles and says, “Sure, but you’ll have to wait until we get to the parking lot now.”

We checked out, paid for our stuff, and he waits for me by the exit door. When we exit the door, the parking lot is expansive. There are hundreds of rows of cars, with seemingly every single parking spot full. There are people everywhere; it’s like a car show, but with groceries.

I am suddenly hit with a wave of anxiety.

“I don’t know where I parked my car,” I tell him, shaking with fear, feeling overwhelmed, the stimuli from the music from the cars and the movement from all of the people milling about feeling like a giant hand that is shaking me and throwing me around in my own mind.

“Follow me,” he instructs, and begins to walk.

We walk, and walk, turning our buggies this way and that way, meandering through the cars, somehow no one recognizing that Oscar winner and prolific actor, Denzel Washington, is cooly walking amongst them, in a parking lot at the Fiesta grocery store, leading a lost woman to her car, or somewhere, where she may hear a secret.

We dodge all kinds of obstacles–flung open doors, ruffigans giving us dirty looks, beggars asking for change. It is an absolute zoo.

And then, I wake up.

I never find out what Denzel’s secret was.

I never find my car.

I never get my groceries home.

I never find out why in the bloody hell I’d ever be caught at a Fiesta grocery store.

And I never find out why Denzel’s coat was so got damn ugly.

 

What do you think?

Until tomorrow, my friends…

Understanding I Know Nothing 

Today isn’t a cheat day, but I will admit that I am somewhat hurriedly writing this from the tub, where I desperately need to soak.

Ongoing stress is continuing to wreck my body, but I’m doing my best to get the almost constant aches under control through massage, meditation, and warm soaks. Oh, and at least two Advil a day. Please, no one tell my liver.

I know that the tension and pain I am feeling is due to stress. I know that it is temporary.  I’m trying to remember that when I feel the discomfort. 

Everything is temporary.  I can’t be uncomfortable forever because I can’t BE HERE forever.  That’s morbid, but thinking that way does put the stressors and the stress in perspective. 

I am thankful because man, I am learning a lot. Every day, I learn something new it seems, and I am reminded of how little I know about anything at all, including myself.

To help me along on this journey of self discovery, the Universe sent me an angel, in the form of a friend, who gave me a copy of Eckhart Tolle ‘s book, “A New Earth: Awakening Your Life’s Purpose.”

What are you reading? Has anything you read recently really changed your life?

Stay hopeful…

Until tomorrow, my friends…