Monday, December 28, 2015

This Little Light

“Don’t forget your lights!”

This is something my father would routinely say whenever we would leave the house in the evening. It was his way of keeping the electric bill low and the bulb’s life, saved.

I remember the first time I was old enough to change a light bulb. It was a tableside lamp, the kind that had many times kept us company during hours of late night study. The bulb seemed to me so fragile that I feared to take it out of its socket.

“What if I get electrocuted?” I’d question.
“But how else will you be able to see in the dark if you don’t change it?”

In 2016, may we all fearlessly change our bulbs and burn more brightly.  May we clearly embrace the shining new year and all its goodness.  With each and every day you embark upon: don't forget your light.  Father I pray that you help us to take a deep look at the shadows of our lives and exchange it for your eternal light. Never burn out. Never camp in darkness.  Never lose hope.

Change your bulb.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Introversion & Privacy

There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m introverted.

I fear we have been mislead by societal notions that a person who chooses not to engage fully in group settings is ill. This is not to be confused by someone who is actually suffering in silence. Introverts, like myself, simply need reserved amounts of “Alone Time” in order to better function in an extroverted world. Without it, one may find themselves burnt-out and unable to find pleasure in public settings.

There is no safer solace than the quiet of solitude for the loud of mind.  I often find my thinking overpowered by crowded work environments, cellular interruptions, or jovial dinner tables. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the relationships that I have built with the people around me, but rather that I appreciate my quiet time a little bit more. Recently I had neglected to steal away such precious moments in a schedule which left me restless, subdued, and overwhelmed.

“Are you okay?” my friends would ask.
“You look tired,” another would add.
"Do you miss your Love?"
“Is it because you're lonely or depressed?

Yet, the fatigued countenance they perceived was entirely my fault. I was exhausted of people. I wanted to be alone.

By allowing for privacy, I am gifting myself with the ability to recharge to the full capacity of my being which is: vibrant, happy, and inspired. Although I believe all persons should take sufficient time away from others, not everyone is considered an introvert. True introverts receive their vital life-energy by being left alone. We introverts do not solve our problems by elaborating on them in conversation; we do so by stepping away from anything unrelated to the issue and address the problem slowly and intently. We refuse to shout to be heard in long meetings or over meals because we know that a well-timed statement said with simplicity is just as effective (and won’t get us into trouble later). We often find our truth in the singular sense before acting in the forthright.
 Introverts are the loved ones to whom you can trust your secrets. They’re the friends that you invite into your home, but may not always show up to a party or big social gathering. They’re the prankster whose one-liners will have you laughing for weeks. For there is something quite powerful about the introvert who knows his or her place in the out-loud world. In the words of my favorite writer Lorraine Hansberry, one should “never be afraid to sit a while and think.” There is nothing wrong with the introvert. Perhaps we are the braver of mankind, who dare to be with only oneself and truly enjoy our own company.

"When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Wait for hope to appear. [Lamentations 3:27-28]

Monday, June 8, 2015

Sit Like an Effing Lady

I wouldn’t exactly call myself a tomboy. Granted, I could probably tell you the starting line up for last night’s NBA playoff game or quote every line of the movie Talladega Nights: the Ballad of Ricky Bobby. At the same hand, I’d still feel just as myself dancing ballet or crying through every song from The Way We Were. On an average day, I would say I am confident in my own curious expression of femininity. I love everything that comes with being female right down to the uniquely designed ways in which I was made to love, to be, and to feel. But in my progressiveness, I have never felt the slightest compulsion to wear a dress like this.

As a kid I was studious, compassionate, and mischievous. Yet anytime my mother would force me into a frilly pink frock, all of my endearing qualities were washed away in utter disgust.  What I, and many of my gender associates, endured was the early molding of society. “This is who you are. This is who you’ll be.” Flawed as it may seem, how you dress does shape the impression you first make upon the seeing world. For me, a frilly pink dress never translated into the kind of impression I wanted to make. Until today, I’ve dressed with chicness, toughness, and a stylish sense of that complex little girl I fight diligently to honor. Until today, I made sure my first impression was nothing like this dress.

To be clear, I love dresses. I own many dresses and from time to time enjoy the freedom of a good skirt. But this particular experiment was a jolt outside of my comfort zone and a leap in the trenches of overt femininity. When I showed my best friend a photo of the dress she laughed—hard. I was preparing myself for the viscous complements about how “cute” or “pretty” I looked. Call me beautiful, gorgeous, sexy, a hot stack of pancakes… anything but those words. In my mind, the only successful time pretty was used conjunctively with the word woman was in 1990 when Julia Roberts played a prostitute. The implied cuteness robs me of every scraped knee and thousands of read books. Wearing this dress, I feared, would take away all of my competencies and intellectual gains.

I made sure most of my friends or acquaintances knew that they would be seeing me in a new light come Monday. That my transformation would be strictly temporary and that they were in know way to get used to this “sweet” little teacup. But the night before my girlish debut, I couldn’t sleep. Usually confident in anything, I doubted my ability to pull it off. What if people think I’m a joke? Where do I put my keys? What if it flies up in the subway platform? What if I throw like a girl? What if I’m stuck in a sand trap at the bottom of the 9th with no timeouts on the 10-yard line? What if I like it? Does that make me a liar?

Then morning comes.
I put on the dress.
I take a deep breath.
I face the mirror.

Well, I’m not dead. It feels more like a costume at first. The more I look myself up and down the more acclimated I start to sink to its pinkness.

“I exude confidence and courage in all aspects of my life…” I say several times to myself as mantra to keep from profuse swearing.

If I have learned anything from partaking in my friend Amy’s Confidence Club, it is that brave is who we are in the face of adversity. Courage, however, is intentionally stepping out of our comfort zone. Today I was intentionally ridding myself of everything I had built up against wearing something like this. Upon arriving to work

In Proverbs there is an entire chapter devoted to a Woman of Good Character. It outlines a competent and skilled woman who is attractive not by mention of looks but by mention of her very being. As I sat reading in my frilly pink frock, I found a peaceful chuckle in this verse that I would carry with me for the rest of the day:

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” Proverbs 31:25

No matter what I was to be addressed in, I have already been clothed in a character that exudes strength and dignity. These are the sorts of robes I hope to never take off.

Upon arriving to work I noticed I had become invisible to women. Men, however, were eager to help me with every door, bottle cap, and elevator. People did laugh because of the silly nature of my experiment, but not because they no longer took me seriously. In some twisted pastel way I felt like a volcano of my actual self. Somewhere underneath the pink mountain was a vibrant and fiery pit of intellect and competency. In my twenty-something years I had convinced myself that allowing myself to be pretty was the antithesis of authenticity.  Was I slightly nauseous all day? Yes. Did I forget to cross my legs? No. Did it matter what people thought of me? Yes. But being stuck outside of my comfort zone for a whole 24hrs has given me the reassurance that my dignity is still perfectly in tact no matter what I’m wearing as long as I sit like an effing lady.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Unrest: A Poem for the Divide

Nicole Lockhart 

We are looking for our trigger

It's just a matter of time before the

For our skin is wearing so thin,
you can see the spirit chained within.
Thinner than its pigment and whipped scars.
Thinner than the bloodshed and prison bars.
And to the republic for which it no longer stands,
darkened like the back of my hand?
An uncivil America shows its residual flaws
etched deep in unwritten laws;
is a freedom for some 
and not freedom for all.

Are there no ethics for the ethnic
in a world divisible by melanin?
If an unarmed black boy walks to the store to by some candy,
should his parents make sure he has a weapon handy?
See, It's set up like a joke
But the punchline is sad
that the imaginary threat you think I am...
is Tired and Mad.

Are all officers endowed with a Reasonable Doubt?
Always getting the benefit of the doubt,
Protected without reason to shout.
Help me, my God, I can't figure it out!
"One dead two dead three dead four
Kill me a n**** kill me some mo!
Five dead six dead seven dead too
Black boy run, they're a gunnin' for you!
Hands up blackie I think they gonna shoot!
Say a prayer for yo mama and yo country too."

The righteous rightly riot
The war they wage is true
But what happens to the community?
What happens to the loot?
Action meets traction in a furious collide
Let love erode the ivory walls of Washington
Where a black president resides.

I love my police, but can't stop my soul from crying
My brothers, fathers, sons are dying
This silence feels like lying
so I speak up for lack of trying, I must
because I must,
because I must...
Our father which art in heaven,
Forgive U.S our trespasses 
as we forgive those
Who trespass against U.S.