Sunday, January 22, 2017

Take me out of the game

When you think you have a grasp of your faith?  When you think you've figured out what God is trying to show you? Just at that moment of Clarity, it seems like God moves you into the wilderness with the lions, small odd sounds, and darkness.   It's as if you passed one test and they hand you another that you've never studied.

When you're running like Alice trying to get out of wonderland.  I've been moved from faith to faith without a chance to look around and give honor to the moment and give thanks to God.  I want to stand on talk of the mountain and plant my flag.  I want to reach the end of the race and receive my medal and scream to the world, "Look, I did it".  But that isn't my life.  It never has been that simple  I've never lived with long breaks from God trying to teach me lessons of longer-suffering, perseverance, and gratitude.   There's always been a lesson around the corner.  I've developed this attitude like an athlete where I'm looking at the next challenge like "Bring it" but today, I'm tired.  I'm sure athletes take a break.  They go on vacation.  They rest.

I want to tell God I need to chill out.  I need a break from the lessons.  I need some mercy all up on me.  I'm so very tired.  So very tired.   I can't think or move or do anything and yet I keep moving and doing.  I'm still just surviving life and I don't know how to live it.  There's not a lesson in this blog but just me saying, time out.  Take me out of the game for a moment so I can regroup.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Call me Dorothy: Self Care in the Tornado

I've had the intent of self-care.  I've planned. 

In the midst of crisis, its very hard to begin anything.  Its like trying to clean your house in the middle of a tornado.  It feels impossible.  I'm still a mother and a grandmother in the middle of this self care journey.  I'm still the leader of my org and a part of community orgs in the middle of this self care journey.  My spirit wants all of that to stop for a month or even a year.  I mean  I don't want anyone asks me to do anything.  Even more importantly, I don't want to feel obligated to do it.  I just don't want to do it right now. 

I know I need time for me and not in bits and pieces.  I want to be selfish without guilt.  Its the battle of many women in trying to figure this thing out.  How can I be whole in this whirlwind of life's struggles.  I'm committed to making sure that I stop and check in with me.  I committed to allowing myself my tears and screams.  I'm trying to be vulnerable and admit that I'm overwhelmed.   I've learned that I can't push through at this point.  I tried that and ended up sick, very sick.  I must stop.  Just stop.  Check myself before I wreck myself.

I've had to come to terms that even though I lead an organization about women's health and empowering women to take action in their own well-being, there are days I don't know what that means for myself.  Crisis after crisis, one episode to the next, I've survived but not lived. I believe my soul has been crying out for me to take over, fully and completely, without any excuse and without allowing the crisis and needs of my family jeopardize my well-being going forward.

Strength is an deceptive creature.  When people see that you can survive, they don't check to see if you've overcame and recovered.  This is the deceptive nature of being a strong person.  I used to be ashamed to say that I'm strong.  I think that I've always known the misconceptions behind this characteristic.  Its one of those things when people say, "Oh, she's ok" or "I know she's got this".  Meh, maybe I do.  Maybe I don't.    Its not a question of being worried about a situation.  I'm not going through "worry".   I'm faithful.  So, I'm not worried about an outcome of a situation.  God is good. (cliche, cliche....but real)

I'm in the same state as Black people living in America.  I believe I've written a blog about the trauma and healing of African Americans from racism.   Its very hard to heal in the middle of abuse.  We ask Black people to overcome in the middle of the tornado.  Some can make it and some don't but no one is without some level of trauma.  We each develop various coping skills.  We have different support.  We take part in our sanity, differently. 

 And I have to believe in me.  We have to believe in us.   When my mom was ill and died, I lost my job, etc. etc., I worked out and changed my diet.  I was able to put my focus on my health  whereas its a struggle today.    So, there's memory.  I know I have it in me.  I have to look at what is different today and believe in myself wholly.   Its the same with Black America.  We have memory of the Civil Rights movement.  We remember that we fought and gained some advances (some).  Today, the monster we fought 50 years old had changed its tactics.  We killed Jason, we murdered Freddy, so we thought, but its still here, this monster,  and we need new slick ways to continue its attack.

I believe I can.  I believe I will.  I can see there is more healing of my mental health that needs to happen to feel more confident in myself.  That's real.   I'm a client of my own org, ironically.  What advice would I give myself if I was in front of me? 

Cry when you want to cry.  Take a break without guilt.   Be kind to yourself all the time.  Say no to loved ones.  Move from survival to living.  Say yes to Rhonda. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Make Sweet Love - Sexuality

My professional life has been focused on the prevention of HIV in primarily women.  In this work, I've had the opportunity to talk about sexuality from all angles.  As we want people to be sexually responsible, we should encourage that they are sexually satisfied.  Historically, mens sexual desire has been the point of attention.  What a man wants, he gets sexually through consent, oppression, or force.   Men have been allowed to explore their sexual fulfillment in extreme ways. This, of course, is a level of oppression and its a social norm for many. 

In my talks with women about their sexual fulfillment, I've spoken with women who have never experienced "the Big O".   Their sexual experiences were driven by whatever the man desired.  You'd think that everyone is experiencing sex in the same way - like the last porn movie with moans and repeated orgasms. We don't teach our girls they are sexual beings.  We teach them to be guarded, that their sexuality is a "gift" to be only given to someone special, and that they shouldn't be too sexually expressive.  If we remove religion from this conversation, how does this benefit our society to keep women's sexuality so controlled and policed?

Teaching sexual health and responsibility doesn't mean we should suppress sexual expression.  We need to teach that we are all sexual beings.  We have deep attractions and sexual connections with others.  We teach we must decided for ourselves what best keeps us emotionally and spiritually healthy as we decide to dive into our sexual selves. We have to stop teaching that sex is bad and stop using sexually transmitted infections as a scare tactic to keep youth from being sexually active. Being sexually healthy is being informed and being able to speak about sex in a wonderfully honest way.  Fear isn't they to create a healthy mindset to sex.

In our sexual relationships, we have to be able to talk about it.  Yes we need to talk about condoms and past partners but we also need to talk about kissing and touching and loving.  We need talk about where those kisses should land.  We need to talk about positions and fetish.  Do you like porn or not?   Talk about it.  Play with each other.  Allow yourselves to grow together not only emotionally and spiritually in your relationships but bonding sexually.  Believe me when I say that just because people are having sex, doesn't mean they are having good sex. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

My love letter to Black people

I see the black community different than some.  I see a group who survives in the best way it possibly can under decades (centuries) of mental, physical, and spiritual abuse and terrorism.  I see a people who constantly figures out how  to seek out happiness and joy under scrutiny  and judgment from the majority group and from its own. I see creative and inventive people who can make something from nothing over and over and over  Some of us make it.  Some don't.  Some develop self hate.  Our children are deemed less innocent and treated as such and then we are surprised when they grow up have a lack of respect for themselves or others. We don't receive empathy in regards to how centuries of terrorism - mental, physical, and spiritual-  impacts our health and well being. We somehow are supposed to get over it while the whip is still swinging. 

 I see people overcoming.  I see people trying.  I see people succumbing to constant and persistent messaging and imagery of inferiority.  What is interesting is that as the majority group believes we are super human and some of us believe we are as well.  We have the super human ability to overcome this terrorism and "act right".   We tell ourselves to "be good, be better".  When one person does wrong, we are still tribal in our thoughts and see that one person's crime as a blemish on the group.  It is US who rob.  It is US who kill.  It is US who rape.  Our lives aren't our own.  We are responsible for each others behavior but is that fair? Maybe its ok that we understand we are an reflection of one another. That is our connectedness. 

 I love being Black.  I was raised see the beauty in us and have an understanding of how this system of oppression can and does destroy us.  We need  a better understanding of where personal responsibility meets systemic oppression.  As I make decisions about my life, they are rarely personal.  I, Rhonda, represent Blackness everywhere I go even when I don't want to do so.  I have to think in terms of how does my behavior and choices impact black people.  So, it is difficult to say that I can move through my life and it be my own. What does personal responsibility really mean when my actions are connected to my community at all times?  This is another added pressure of being not only Black in America but being a part of any oppressed group.  We have to stop the respectability politics and understand how oppression influences behavior.  What about collective trauma?  Racism is damaging to our core. A baby in utero is impacted by the racial discrimination experienced by its mother.  Constant stress impacts heart disease.  Violence impacts asthma.  Racism isn't just a social justice issue but a health issue. 

To my Black  community, I love you.   We are over-comers.  We are a beautiful people who continues to fight through the constant abuse.  I urge us to see ourselves as a powerful people with grand fortitude.  We have been and continue to be a very forgiving people.  Its very difficult to heal as you're being abused but we must to continue to strive for some healing and relief.   The Black American is a people to be admired and respected.  I'll continue to say over and over, I Love YOU. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Social Media: Keeping it Real

Social Media is an interesting creature. ONLINE: We're all so brilliant. We're all so healthy. We all are so religious. We love our mothers. We are perfect parents. Well, I'm here to tell ya, not me. I'm flawed. I'm quirky. I don't like to go to places where there's a lot of people. Quiet is cool. Me and God fight. Me and my daughter just had a horrible two years but we're back being where we should be. I've been physically unhealthy for the past two years and it was causing some depression. I couldn't figure it out. I don't like to be  deep, every damn day. I know what I know and there's a whole lotta stuff I'm clueless about. I'm a patient friend but I can shut you out without reason. I'm working on me.

 I think Social Media is missing a dose of realness and regular. I'm down for folks working to obtain their goals and doing it out loud. I get it. I know that it can help others. I'm just concerned that we so want to put on the good face of positivity and perfection that we miss out on being human and honest with ourselves. We're so zoned in on shaping our online persona that I think we forget how to be ourselves. I appreciate my journey. I accept it all wholeheartedly. I'm never afraid to share the ups and downs of my day. Its a part of my freedom.

I've witnessed some amazing displays of emotional neediness on Facebook in particular.  I watched a woman document the death of a parent from the statuses saying, "I'm heading to the hospital" to the announcement of the parent's death.  She posted pics of she and her sister receiving news about the parent's ill faded turn. She did video clips of thanking people on Facebook for their support.  What was she getting from this? Without Facebook, how would she receive support and encouragement?  What does it mean that we are seeking approval, admiration, and encouragement mostly strangers in many cases?  Let me be honest. I will post a selfie of a new doo or new color of lipstick.  So I guess, I could ask myself the question and I can't say I know the answer.  I do recall being at a park with my grandson and I took pictures.  The first thing I wanted to do is post them but then I thought why not just having them for me.  This was our moment.  The person on FB in Florida doesn't have to share this time.  It was for us. 

There are more and more articles being written about the psychological impact of social media on the self-esteem.  We're being impacted and I don't know if we care. How are we free when we worry about what filter we need to use for a picture?  How are we free if we are afraid of our failures and we sugar coat them with bullshit positivity.  Sometimes positivity is bullshit.  We have gotten caught in memes and graphics of famous quotes that tell us that life should always be rainbows.  There's less memes about the rain and the storm.  We learn in the darkness.  We should accept and appreciate those dark times and understand that we need both the sun and the rain for all growth to occur.  

I appreciate Social Media for all of the connections I've made. I've met people who have become some of my greatest friends.  Its helped me with my nonprofit to reach women globally.  It definitely has its purpose.  With all things, moderation is key.  There's no need to color your life with falsehoods to impress people.  Have a fulfilled life offline.  Connect with people in real time.  Social media is a tool so use it carefully.   Accept and love who you are because only then will you be free. 

How Facebook Can Amplify Low Self-Esteem/Narcissism/Anxiety

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I deserve

We many times have to give ourselves permission to live life on our own terms .  Its a difficult transition to move from living for the world and then remembering that you're a part of that world and deserve care, love, fairness, and honesty just as everyone else.

In August 2014, I became ill. I had pains in my legs that were hard to articulate mixed with the flu and a shot of lupron to reduce my hormones.  I was miserable.  It was very unexpected.  August was the month to prep for a scheduled surgery in September.  I had to make sure that my home was ready, that my daughter was ready, and my organization was ready.  Nothing was ready.  I found myself struggling to enjoy my trip to New York.  I recall walking from Afropunk to the subway and wondering if I would make it.  My legs were filled with pain.  Hot flashes came and went with no summer breeze to help remedy my own private summer.  Miserable.  Something was happening.  This something had been happening for a couple of years with odd illnesses and pain here and there.  August was hell.  I was frustrated.  My plans were crushed to hell.

As I moved into having surgery, a total hysterectomy (removal of my cervix and uterus;still have my ovaries), I once again thought about how would I continue to maintain my life while on my back.   Was my org going to be ok?  Was my daughter going to be fine?  I didn't ask if I would be fine or ok.   God has a way of making you listen to her/him fully and completely with no distractions.  In my recovery time, I remembered me.  I decided that my healing mattered not because I had things to do but because I mattered and that was enough.  CWUW will also be fine and its not fine, that's ok.  People will also be disappointed and that's ok too.  Those who love and support you, will do so.  They will be there.  And still, I deserve to have moments of doing nothing.   I deserve to watch mindless tv.  I deserve to long for dark chocolate.  I deserve to experience life as I choose. 

The removal of my uterus has been liberating.  I have no pain in my legs.  I have no pain in my hips.  No more excessive bleeding.  There's been a weigh lifted in my spirit and I didn't know it needed to be lifted.  When God says to sit, just sit.  Just do it.  Be enlightened by the quiet time. Being busy is overrated.  I want to experience the beauty of this earth as I still fight against the evil and I deserve to live that life on my terms and in full appreciation to all things God manifests.  My mistake are my own and I will manage them as you should manage yours.  I deserve good things.  I deserve a good life.