The more I write, the more aware and appreciative I become of my voice and the less validation I need from others. I do have some wonderful folk in my corner, but there are others whom I have never met that continue Continue reading
In the meantime,
But, of course!
My babies grow.
“He loves me…. he’s special…. ly different”
In the meantime
On a masterpiece–
“Thinking of a master plan/’cuz ain’t nuthin’ but sweat inside my hand”
Little, but Tuff lights
Glowing in a dark world
But back to
In the meantime….
Recharging– everyone needs a respite
Into my new
Physical places, and
Tying up my literary shoelaces….
Getting acquainted with
Fictional and otherwise.
Clothes that don’t fit,
Pounds that won’t sit.
Lightening the loads.
Can’t nobody walk tall weighted down!
Quiet, personal victories.
A New Season.
In the meantime
Several of which,
Though new to me,
Lived in me–
My very nerves and sinew
From the start.
My brothers too….
In the meantime
Into my own Life
Humbling…. to my own gifts
In the meantime….
I’ve been praying for–yes again,
And receiving too,
In the time-ing!
In the meantime
A Not Guilty verdict… returned sometime between my bedtime and this morning. Truth is, I am not entirely shocked by the outcome. Though I was hopeful, I had little expectation that the justice system would indeed serve justice. The brutal reality is that Trayvon Martin’s death did not have to happen, and “not guilty” appeared fixed from the start.
Regardless, we must give rise to our voice while we are still very much alive. We must speak for social justice for all murdered children and act courageously when any child is killed. Our community’s issue is bigger than Trayvon. I wept for Trayvon but I am sickened when discussing murdered children in New York, Philadelphia, Trenton, or my second city Chicago. Though we profess innocence, many of us are found guilty, even in conscience–sitting idly by, simply nodding our head in disapproval when it comes to the rampant violence that is wiping out families and communities.
Ironically, there will be more cases which call us to respond. The name will not be Zimmerman, but perhaps one more familiar. Though the names of the criminals might be known, we won’t dare tell of their deeds though our very freedoms are compromised.
We must use our grief and outrage to ante up our courage and ask of ourselves whether we are really doing all that we can to stop killing in our community by our community. This is a challenge for me and I will not assume that the next generation will handle it. Moreover, we cannot simply pass the baton to politicians, legislators and court systems, while huddling in our private circles to just pray about it.
I am a woman of faith, and I know that my God is one of justice, but a worry-free world was never promised. I will pray, then act, speak, and fight for those who cannot. I will not let George Zimmerman cause me to grow bitter, but better. The community needs better.
So this Sunday, I draw strength from my faith, and from a modern-day hymn by the ministerial Chuck D.
”Kick it, Chuck!”
This part of the bridge is most convicting, yet it provides a perfect close to the urgent question: “Now What?”.
“Feel the people
Heal the people
Need the people
So heed the people
Help the homeless
Where’s your groove?
Check your heads
I shall not be moved
I shall not be moved
Uh come on.”
Feel, heal, need, heed, help. Amen.
I am my own worst critic. This is a good part of the reason I do not blog as often. The other part, Life, requires no explanation. If I feel like I’ve missed the mark somehow, I refrain from publicly sharing what I have written. In essence, I have created a standard that has become impossible to uphold as consistently as I’d like, for whatever reason. Lately however, I am finding that waiting for perfect to act, write, move, speak, or simply make a decision is a great disservice to myself and to a lesser degree, to others.
A “perfect” example of this happened recently when Continue reading
“While the cat’s away, the mice will play”. So they say. I’d rather be the cat on some days though; having someone hot on my trail can be oh, so exhausting! On the other hand, if I were the cat, I’d get to pounce on those poor little mice, scare them half to death, bring them just to its brink, and let them off the hook…that is, until I am ready to begin the tryst all over again. Doesn’t that sound like fun?
Mice hardly seem popular among most folk, so my bet is that given a choice, we’d prefer being cats. After all, they seem to call the shots in this whole cat and mouse thing. This is why hubby thinks he’s in charge. I told him that he can make all the big decisions – every last one of them – but after nearly sixteen years, I have yet to tell him when one needs to be made. So much for being in charge.
Much like a cat though, he gets to pursue me on most days, but while he’s away, Continue reading
I am so pleased to bring you this post! In it, my eldest daughter River, age 7, reviews a beautiful story called “The Girl with the Magic Hands” by Nnedi Okorafor. Nnedi rightfully earned the 2012 Black Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literature (fiction). Her novels, listed in their order of publication, include: Zahrah the Windseeker (2008 winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature); The Shadow Speaker (winner of the CBS Parallax award and Essence Magazine Literary Award finalist); Akata Witch (An Amazon.com Best Book of 2011); and, Who Fears Death (2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Fantasy Novel, 2012 Kindred Award).
I recently called the doctor’s office and was greeted by a receptionist who seemed less than enthusiastic about helping me. She rattled off her barely comprehensible, customary greeting, which ended with “How can I help you”, but hardly sounded like she wanted to help. Before I could complete my request, she abruptly interrupted me to
This past November, I completed the first draft of my first novel by writing every single day from November 1 through November 30. I am officially a NaNoWriMo 2012 winner for finishing a novel greater than 50,000 words. Yay Me! Here’s what I learned in the process.
The biggest challenge of NaNoWriMo was the obvious time commitment. I had to eliminate habits, disconnect Facebook and remove other activities that could absorb “downtime” used for writing. I had to slow my cheering for my President and unglue myself from the pre-election and post-mortem analyses of Mitt Romney’s ascension and fall from the national spotlight. My focus needed to be writing, and I needed the part of my brain responsible for literary abandon and creative thinking.
I wanted to keep myself honest, and hold myself accountable. You may not know that I failed before at this NaNoWriMo challenge, but this time I had a renewed sense of urgency and purpose to write in earnest every day. I had a story to tell and so I began. Nothing would keep me from it this time.
Writing every day was a trying, electrifying, harrowing, sleep-deprived, crazy time. Surprisingly, working this intently toward my novel gave me a personal sense of validation that I didn’t know I needed. Participating made me feel that my story was not only important, but also worth telling. In solidarity with other writers, I felt incredibly empowered to take liberties in crafting the story and gave myself permission to misbehave a bit.
Focusing on my novel in this 30-day window required discipline and a removal of filters. I could not divorce myself from the travails of my characters. As I wrote, I found my characters dealing with deep-seated emotions. Repeatedly, I questioned how their raw emotions engulfed their personas. They didn’t gloss over how they felt, who they betrayed, or even who they did or did not love. At first, I needed to cleanse them for presentation by glossing over their flaws with masks to hide their deeper, darker dimensions. This was necessary for me to present them in a way that made them digestible, but it was unclear for whom. Stripping their ghosts from their hideous pasts only made them palpable for me to digest but created a conundrum that could not be reconciled.
For example, what do you do when the wolf who violently attacks Little Red Riding Hood is your brother or father? Do you make excuses for him, love him anyhow, or blame Little Red, the victim for her shortened skirt, hijab, or flirting smile? Do you confront the wolf with disgust or continue to romanticize his lies? I found myself eager to find a redeeming quality in an otherwise dark character who I didn’t even like very much.
It became difficult to disconnect from the novel after addressing the layers, plots, and complexities of the characters. This was painful at times, convicting at others, and almost always consuming. I was physically present, but the story kept me up at night, sabotaged my sleep, and waywardly inserted itself into my daily life with a nagging unwelcomeness.
Writing and crafting the story was one of undeniable paradoxes. Could I be liberated from the bullshit and guilt of unfulfilled expectations nestled deep inside or did I need to be positively neutral in all things? Could I call a spade a spade or would I need to sterilize the characters of flaws, perceived or real? Could I be unapologetically raw and truthful in presenting my characters despite flaws and keep them whole? Could I, as a writer, not offend anyone who might identify with the characters, and why should I care?
Writing this story during NaNoWriMo forced me to ascribe a fuller humanity to characters and to delve into the dark without censor. It was in unleashing their fullness that the true story would develop. Inherently, I knew that cleansed and contrived characters could not sustain a novel. I also knew that not all stories end with “happily ever after”. Can anyone say “broken marriage after the ‘storybook’ wedding”? Not all stories fit into neatly packaged presentations.
So what’s the lesson in all of this? Writing is full of epiphanies and surprises. You feel liberated when you get the story right – when you feel that you have done justice to the characters, but it is downright daunting when you have nothing to write at all. So what do you do then? You write anyway! You may stop, but start again until you reach The End…wherever that may be.
My Musical Inspiration - Feel free to rock out at any time. :)
I went to pick up my four-year old daughter today from her preschool located inside a community church. I had a relatively good day trying to be reflective and more available and open to Spirit, and less distracted by the noise of social media or the news. So you can imagine my reaction when I learned of today’s horrific news that a 24-year old gunman opened fire at an elementary school claiming lives too many to count without streaming tears of helplessness. I must be dreaming.
It seemed surreal as I stood there zipping my baby girl’s jacket, adjusting her barrette which I apparently clipped too tight this morning. I could hear the chilling words from the chief reporting parent, as well as the words of the other mothers chiming in to confirm what they had also heard, but I was hearing all of this for the first time. None of it made sense.
I am sure that finding meaning in all of this was on the minds of all the parents and grandparents gathered to retrieve their children, but it was too early to contemplate. What will parents tell their children about their murdered friends, classmates, neighbors, or even siblings?
I stand away from Connecticut, but still know that tragedies like these seem to be hitting closer to “home”. Violence is quickly becoming a growing trend, and our most vulnerable are often the victims. In this case, it was children and courageous teachers who seem to be working in hostile times instead of developmental classrooms. Please someone, tell me I am hearing wrong.
I loaded my girl into her safety seat and then my heart sank. I looked back at her more often than usual, to make sure that she was still there, safely buckled and intact where I left her. I needed her fully awake and present. I needed to see her eyes. I looked for comfort and assurance beyond their glimmer. I needed to hear some more incessant pleading, and annoying requests. I don’t mind them, nor do I complain today. I needed to hear her.
My heart grows heavy with the knowledge that there are parents, not too far from here, who will not have the same privilege this evening. Instead, grief and an overwhelming sense of incomprehensibility await them. Though we who stand outside of their community empathize, we’ll mostly go on about our business, while their realities will be forever altered. I pray that one day these families will find the strength that they need to carry on, but in the meantime, as they search to find meaning, I hope that a comforting touch, a deeply pressed hug, and the openness and sincerity of community will tend to their hearts and homes during a very difficult time. This is my hope.
We may never find the words to describe this condition which seems to plague folk determined to carry out violence for whatever selfish, angry reasons they have, but I pray that our response will be one that will help these families find meaning in this. But I am not sure anyone can. I trust that in time we learn to trust, hope, and just breathe again.
I’m thankful to be in this country. There are many freedoms and opportunities here that can’t be enjoyed in many places around the world. I’m especially thankful for the principles of democracy and freedom of speech. Most of all, I am profoundly thankful for friends who challenge me in love, spirit, and truth. Whether we share the same party or political ideas, religious/ faith beliefs, ethnicity, class, or sexuality, they know that our common interests are greater than our ideological differences.
We fundamentally want the same things, but may have a different vision for getting there. Ultimately, my true friends know that my heart is good. They hold me to a higher standard, yet still respect my freedom of thought as an important tenet of being an individual, and being an American.”
I shared the above post with “friends” on my personal Facebook account today, and upon receiving initial feedback, I felt led to share it here. I am cautious about my use of the word “friends” because I know that this descriptor doesn’t always capture the magnitude of my relationships on Facebook; nonetheless, many of us connect in this way as a result of several, separate connections and networks that ultimately bring us together. This fact alone should present an opportunity to further open up and get to know each other better.
Without a doubt, there is incredible energy, both positive and negative, about Barack Obama’s reelection to office. I will be the first to admit that in all of my excitement and running comments during the debates and then again while the results trickled in, I never once thought that any of what I said could be interpreted as anything other than excitement for my candidate of choice. I would be naïve, however, to ignore the fact that this nation is divided, though by all accounts, Obama’s win was a decisive one. Still, I am hopeful about our country’s ability to galvanize behind our common experiences and heart convictions.
I also hope that, if nothing more, this opener sparks a conversation that gets us to a more communal space where diversity of thought and experience is encouraged, valued, and respected.
Welcome to the table!
**Also, you can still check out PBS’ “Race 2012: A Conversation of Race & Politics in America” online.**