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Archive for the tag “Letting go”

Cleaning House, Letting Go: Emotional Hoarding Is a Thing

I have a real difficulty with letting things go.

This struggle isn’t only limited to my emotional baggage, but crap I’ve collected over the years.

The times that I’ve let things go, it’s usually because I was forced to. I could literally go no further until I dropped whatever baggage, hurt feelings, ego and fear and let go.

It wouldn’t happen until I came to the realization that the things I was holding on to may have been ridiculously outdated, didn’t fit, represented or reminded me of a compulsion or obsession of the moment.

I’ve been reading the “Art of Tidying Up.” And while I’d be proud of small victories like cleaning out my closets, and donating old clothes and other items, I knew there were old boxes tucked away in closets, and loads and load of old junk mail hidden in all sorts of places in my house as I’d make a mad dash to clear it out of the way to hide from visitors.

I’d always say, I’d return, focus and get rid of it all someday, but I’d either forget about those hiding places, or ignore them altogether dreading doing the work to make good on the promise I’d made myself.

Clearing the crap out of your life is a necessary thing. It feels good once you’ve completed the task, and there’s a momentary high and a paranoia about keeping your home, workspace, clutter-free and not ever letting things get that bad ever again.

But old habits die hard.

We get tired. We collect the mail and throw it on a table and it just takes a string of dog-tired or tough days to throw us on track, and then visitors are coming. You have to hide them somewhere until they leave, and you’ll deal with it on the 48-hour Saturday, you keep telling yourself you’ll eventually have.

A therapist told me long ago, I have compartmentalized all of my issues, pains, problems in fantastic looking boxes. I also collect bags and tend to keep the “good bags” that come from nice stores to remind me that I bought something from such a place.

I had to laugh at myself while trying to clean out all of those good bags. I’m so terrible that I decided to rank the good bags and keep a few of the best ones. With the sturdy handles, that were large enough to carry gifts or clothes to take to good will.

In my mind, while these bags originally served a purpose, I’m still holding on because they appear to be in good shape and in my mind they can and will serve another purpose and when that day comes, that great shopping bag will be PERFECT! I will be right for holding on, proving everyone wrong who said it was just junk. My desire is to be right and to silence those voices real and imagined. This was worth saving. I told you.

Holding on to it via some system in my mind that I set up to put a value on it, a value that would make no sense to anyone else but me, that’s an extension of something deeper.

I was thinking about holding on, because I’m mourning having to let go of a project once again that I put my heart and soul into. The success of the project is growing and I’m very proud that I was instrumental in it. But this is the second time a project that I’ve put so much into I can’t participate in its evolution, this is where I get off. I feel like I’ve been used and discarded by my contract not being renewed after all of this excellent work.

It’s hard.

There have been seasons where I felt like I stayed in one place for a very, very long time. I kept saying I was ready to move on and yet nothing moved into place to allow me to do that. I had to stay exactly where I was.

In other posts, I said staying in the valley was a time for rest, organization, restoration and preparation. I still believe that.

But now, I feel like I’m dealing with the complete opposite.

As soon as I establish a groove, gain confidence, respect and get something going, there is an abrupt stop. I’m forced to move in a new direction when I still think there’s more work to be done and I have so much more to give.

But maybe this time, albiet short was just the amount of time I needed to be where I was and it’s not about the length. It’s easier to wrap my head around the valley period in retrospect of being at a job for 7 years, than it is for me to understand that I could have gained just what I needed working on a project for a year and a half or simply just 9 months. I also have to understand and accept that what I was able to produce and give to my clients in such short periods of time, the hard work, the level of detail and care that I gave, it has value. It means something. The people that I’ve met, I was able to form relationships and learn from them as they learned from me, and that can happen in a short season.

This is what I have to tell myself. Because as more good news and accolades come in, instead of celebrating I found myself sulking.

If the product was that great, why wasn’t my contract extended despite budget cuts why did you not see value in what I brought to allow me to stay?

But it’s not about that.

If the season is over, and the skills I’ve gained will take me to the next project, and the next challenge and I can do bigger and better things, I cannot limit myself based on the fact that I got comfortable and I got used to something.

Readjust.

It’s totally confusing, to be honest. I’ve literally changed two jobs in two years and about to change again. I wasn’t that person. I once thrived on consistency and stability until I felt like it was suffocating me. I was frustrated that I slipped into the sidelines and didn’t take risks.

The grass is always greener.

Now, that I’m living in a contractor world, the uncertainty and the constant change and reminder that no matter how good you are at what you do, you really have no control, that high risk equals a high reward until it doesn’t, it’s leaving me wondering about recalibrating myself. The holding on the letting go. How to balance. How to have peace about the future and confidence in my abilities to make things happen, and faith that it will work out and I will land where I belong for how long I’m supposed to. I’ve had to learn how to prioritize and how to deal with conflicts and contradictions in my heart and mind, and how to examine the things I said I wanted a year or even 6 months ago, and trying to figure out how that fits in my life right now and in my future.

I think about the things I fear, and how to face them down and not be overwhelmed with anxiety.

I think about what makes me happy, brings me joy and what interests me, and sets me on fire where I can’t stop talking about it.

There is an answer in taking the time to sift through the junk in my house, in my heart and in my head.

I have to be brave enough not to just drag it out in the open, but deal with it piece-by-piece, thanking each item for what it brought to my life and simply letting it go. Not moving it to another place in my house and heart to be forgotten and eventually dealt with “someday.”

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Let It Go, Keep It Gone

When I graduated from college (gasp) 10 years ago, I basically said as a journalist, I wouldn’t need graduate school. It would be a waste of my money and frankly anyone who was doing it who didn’t want to teach journalism was down right crazy.

10 years ago, I thought I’d be a journalist forever, working into old age and migrating to the editorials, sharing my wisdom until I finally died. And the world would mourn the loss of my great voice that led them through their days, that analyzed the issues and the moments we’d hardly forget.

I would be one of the great contemporary American voices.

Eh, that didn’t happen, or it just may happen. But not in the way I thought it would.

I thought that I’d never go to graduate school or even need it. The life I planned for myself seemed to suggest that, and for that life, coming to that conclusion just made a whole lot of sense.

It amazes me how life shifts. If you’re smart, you’ll take a step back, and look at the broader picture and how what you were doing ten years ago, or six years ago was leading you to right now, whether you are in a good place in your life or a bad one.

Three years ago I was miserable. I saw nothing but darkness. I was broken, I was sleep walking through my life and my job, collecting a check and just getting out of the bed each day was a major accomplishment. I was heartbroken and angry. I felt the rug was swept from under me when my relationship ended and my engagement was suddenly over.

Once again, I had made plans for my life. I thought I knew what it was supposed to look like and that’s what I was going for. That’s what I knew to do.

Out of one of the most lengthy painful experiences in my life, I had to be broken all the way down, to be rebuilt. I had to learn about humility, and the amount of control I truly had over MY life. No one else’s. I could only be in control of me. I could only be in charge of my emotions and how I reacted to a situation.

I had to learn that there is no dishonor in failure, but in truth there is strength. In my truth, in my self-discovery and in my self-correction, there was strength.

When you are broken down and in the pit, you have no one but you to look at, because let’s face it, your loved ones love you, but they don’t want to be in the pit with you. They can’t be in the pit with you. You gotta be like Batman and figure out how to fight fear and get out on your own; you have to want freedom beyond your fear of death or injury or discomfort or inconvenience in order to be free.

So I think about where I am now and what it took to get me here.
It took everything I had at each stage. The hope is that my arsenal of everything is continuing to grow, so each time I have more to give. But up until now, I had just enough “everything” to propel me to the next stage. I’ve said this before. “Love the emotion is effortless but the execution of love requires all of the effort you’ve got.” And that same, exhaustive execution of love has to be applied to yourself, first. I had to learn that and I’m still learning that. Love yourself to exhaustion.

There’s a saying that when you know better, you do better. At least you are supposed to do better. You will not grow without pain or discomfort. You have to stretch, you have to fall, you have to take a bump or bruise. If you do not grow, if you don’t produce new cells, you atrophy and die, you are more susceptible to injury and illness. We have to live up to the responsibility that comes with the knowledge our mistakes and bad choices give us. It’s on us to self-correct. It’s an ugly, lonely, exhausting work. No one is patting you on the back or holding your hand because this kind of work is not designed that way. It’s on you. And it’s brutal. It’s God saying, you have to grow up, baby. Live up to who you are supposed to be, I’m not going to magically do it for you. As Iyanla said, “Do the work.” We gotta do it. I’m still doing it and I get grateful for every bit of insight I pick up along the way. When it clicks, even when I realized I handled something the wrong way, I’m grateful I can see it. I’m grateful I’ve tapped into something that opens me up and allows me to see MORE, to see beyond what my little feeble mind couldn’t before. I’m grateful I can acknowledge when it happens.

The other night, I was in prayer and I was crying and thanking God for the people he had to forcefully remove from my life because I wouldn’t let them go otherwise. Then I thanked him for the people who have stayed and who he allowed me to grow with and the people who showed up when they were supposed to and made their exit when the season ended. It was a release. It was a moment. It was like that saying you can’t receive with a balled up fist. You can’t get something greater holding on to something you are so scared to lose. Some stuff, some people, you got to let it go and keep it gone.

You have to keep evolving to survive.
So that brings me back to grad school. Going back to school was something I thought for years I just couldn’t do, and had no desire to do.

But I had to keep living. Then I saw the necessity, then I saw the purpose. Then I saw myself on the other side, being way more than I originally imagined. On the other side, this new vision of myself, I’m really strong. I’m strong enough to be a better friend and mentor and leader, but not the kind of person who isn’t accessible. This better, faster, stronger version of me is frightening because of her transparency, her confidence and her rock solid belief in truth. The new vision of myself is scary, because it requires more from me and it may take more bumps and bruises to prepare me to ultimately be that person and be strong enough to help others. It’s growth, it’s evolution, it’s being proactive in my destiny. It’s listening to the inner voice and trusting it. It’s being shamed out of laziness and into action. It’s being shamed out of future regret. It’s knowing life is precious and we better do something with it. Studying biology and the environment in an odd way is making me even more in awe of God. You’d think it would be the other way around. How complicated the science of life is, but how perfect it is too. The systems put in place to regenerate and repair; the things always set in motion in an attempt to maintain balance– to keep things clean, to fight off negative forces.

I digress.

I’m not who I was 10 years ago. I’m certainly not who I was three years ago. I’m proud of who I was in all stages because I had to be that person to be who I am now. There were lessons those times taught me that inform my choices today, that shape my new voice that can help others to grow.

I had to go through the things I went through, I had to get mature, I had to change. Were some of my experiences drastic? Yes. My situations got more drastic when I wanted to hold on to something bad for me the most. God had to force me to let them go in painful, grueling ways until not only did I realize I had to let them go, I had to keep them gone.

When Is the Start of a Relationship?

Hey, hey folks!

I was just talking with one of my most faithful readers after working out with her yesterday. And as I was giving her some of the most banging gumbo I ever made, ever, she looked at me with an oh so serious and chiding face and said, “Um, Ima need you to write a new post.”

I explained to her I had a hard time coming up with material as of late. My lack of inspiration was really bringing me down, because I love writing this blog. And usually when I post, it’s because I’m given a thought I just can’t shake and the words just flow naturally.

I usually write about my relationship mishaps, and recently things have been going well with Renaissance. Like scary, well. We saw each other twice this week and I didn’t break out into hives, and I was happy to see him. He made me dinner one night during the week and I made him that awesome gumbo Saturday night and then we went to the movies to see “Prisoners” (Please go see it. It’s an awesomely done suspense film, which had me going nuts the entire time. The entire cast was fantastical.) I found myself snuggling with him and repeatedly hitting his arm throughout the movie and reacting to the madness unfolding.

Things are going so well, I’m feeling superstitious about writing about him and us and how things are progressing. So while I figure out how to deal with that, I was thinking this morning on my drive into work about how relationships progress. How they start and grow and where they come from and then boom, you look back and realize you’ve been with someone for a year or two.

I started to let my mind wander about where relationships come from and how grown folks decide to make it official.

I joked with a friend the other day about whether or not grown people say to one another, “Ok, we are officially together now.”

It seemed like in a lot of cases, folks don’t make that declaration, or when the declaration has been solicited, it usually comes after a discussion from the woman who wants the man to put a title on their meandering relationship so she can feel secure and remove all doubt and ambiguity. Ok, we’re together now.

We are on the path to the future. Together. You said it, no going back now, sucker.

Or, for some women, the moment happens as soon as her man actually introduces her to someone else as his lady, his woman, his girlfriend, his girl, etc. And in that moment, she has to play it cool in front of these people, because this title is just as new to her as it is to them.

Some men tend to take the tack that if they have been spending time with you multiple times in the week, talking everyday, usually ending the night with a phone call, peppering each other’s day with text messages and starting to know each other’s schedules, it’s pretty much a done deal and nothing really needs to be said.

You both are already in it hard-core. He is doing things a boyfriend would do, if he didn’t see you in that way, he wouldn’t do it .

But women, Oh, women. We want it signed, sealed and delivered. We need that confirmation.

We want the verbal contract so that now you can’t back your monkey ass out of the deal, and if and when you slip up, you can say, no, no sir. You said and agreed we were in a relationship, therefore you are held to a higher standard, therefore you clearly agree to be a responsible participant in this relationship and the nonsense men get away with and women allow because they don’t have a title, yeah, you just can’t do that anymore. And you sir, need to verbally acknowledge that and be held to that.

It seems these days, that when the male publicly acknowledges the relationship, that it is in fact a relationship and he is officially all in.

Some people mark the moment when the other person says I love you as the official start date of the relationship.

Some people believe getting to meet the family is the point where things are really starting to get real.

I’m not sure where I fall in this. I know that when know I love someone, there are times I fight to hold the words in my mouth until I can’t anymore. And I blurt it out and take cover. Especially when I know if the other person may not be the one to say it first. I’m actually the one who doesn’t say it first.

But when I’m ready to say it, it’s almost like when a kid looses a tooth. There are times where that tooth is just hanging and hanging and either you let it fall out, or it’s going to come right out eating a peanut butter jelly sandwich, or even though you are scared as hell, an anxious family member, knowing that tooth is ready and aching to just come right out is going to help you tie a string, tie it to a door, tell you to look the other way and yank that sucker out.

There is a word that Renaissance keeps saying in regard to relationships and it is helping his case a lot in terms of winning me over. That word is responsibility.

He said as a man, in a relationship he has to realize he is responsible for someone else, and their feelings, besides himself and be honest with himself about whether or not he has the ability to do that. Renaissance believes ALL women want a relationship from age 14 on, whether they say it, deny it or whatever, they want and hope that their situations with whomever they are dating, will turn into a relationship. I’ve argued that that is not always the case. He still disagrees and says at the core, all women want and prefer having the relationship. He believes women want to be in relationships and won’t ever turn it down if the right situation presents itself. He said the trouble with men is “there are a lot of men who really love sex, but don’t really like women.” Meaning, men at certain points in their life don’t want to take the time to get to know a woman and really like her, they love the act of sex way more and women end up getting hurt.

Well damn sir. Interesting thought.

We talked about a lot of things this weekend. There was a moment I had a thought cross my mind and he sensed it. We were hugged up and relaxing at my house. I didn’t want to say it. And he looked at me with a serious look and said, “Tell me.”

And I grunted and groaned and heavily sighed.

And he said, “Be vulnerable.” First of all, that was brilliant. Those words shot through me. Here is this big, strong, giant of a man, holding me in his arms (physically creating a safe space) creating a safe space for me to speak my mind, encouraging me to enter.

Now that’s some new shit. And it’s scary. Who does that?

And I looked up at him, and after a long 40 seconds of me fighting myself and trying to decide to say nothing or tell the truth, I chose the latter and said. “I don’t want to be played with.”

“I know you don’t. And I won’t. I really like you.”

And softly, I said. “Ok.”

Tweet “Proceed”

Question (s) of the day: for people in relationships did you have a definitive starting point? Or did it just happen and you both basically knew you transitioned into relationshipdom? Do you have to speak it for it to be real and for everyone to be on the same page?

Whatever It Is You Want…

A co-worker of mine told me this morning that she prays that I get whatever it is I want.

I’m pretty sure she’s particularly alluding to a new job/career that will make me insanely happy and feel fulfilled. That is something I want.

I’m still waiting on my fate on that end…

I replied that I appreciated that prayer, and that my prayer for myself is if I get what I want, I’ll still want it when I’ve got it.

As we all know, sometimes what we think we want is not at all what we thought it would be once we’ve gotten it and then we think we are stuck with it.

I’m still figuring out what I want and what I don’t want. I think that’s a good thing.

We should all be revising this list all of the time, because that means we are growing and we should be continuously growing and we should be able to look back and see our growth.

I have been thinking a lot about 2012. I’m sure you all have been too, or if you haven’t, you’ll be thinking about it more.

It’s been an interesting year. I decided to go natural and shocked myself by actually liking it. And I finally really for real let go of my ex-fiance, and I shocked myself by not feeling guilty about it because of all of his problems and his dependence on me.

I opened myself up to online dating, had some serious disasters, but ended up meeting someone refreshing, smart, considerate and kind who may mess around and have a major role in my 2013.

I talked to God a lot more in 2012. And in a real, honest way. Like, I started being a lot less formal, and really talked to him like he was a close friend.

What do I want?

I want to be happy, I want to continue to be grateful for my life and the family and friends in it. I want to feel like I’m contributing to others in a positive way. I want to be bigger than me. Meaning, less selfish, more giving. I want the love in my life in all it’s manifestations between me and the people in my life to be real, to be lasting. I want good health and a sound mind for myself and my loved ones. And I’ve included this in my prayers recently, “God, there is someone who I may not know at all who is crying out to you, who really needs you, who really wants you to do something major in their life, who is about to give up. They might pray every day, or this is their first prayer ever. If nothing else, please let that person know you are listening. Will them to not give up.”

I hope you all really want what you want, and will be satisfied and happy when you get it, for the remainder of this year and going into the next.

Monique and Me

Alter egos are the coolest thing in the world and they aren’t reserved only for the likes of superheroes or BeyoncĂ© (Sasha Fierce).

A long time ago, one of my besties dubbed mine, Monique.

She doesn’t take anyone’s shit. She’s bold, she’s sexy, she’s loud. She’s going to charm the hell out of you, and she is the best wing woman any gal could have. If anyone gets out of line, she’s going to check them. She demands respect, she demands attention. She’s on the dance floor, she’s having a ball. She’s going to send a hot guy a drink and give him a nod.

She’ll put on a wig and run up and down Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras without a care. She may even let one nip slip… Which reminds me, I need a new wig…

The real me: I let a lot of shit go. I sit back in the cut. I’m stylish, but conservative.

Monique is going to seal the deal; she’s going to get the numbers, her girls are going to get the numbers and the follow-up dinners too.

The real me: I’m more likely to make eye contact in hopes of luring a guy I’m interested in. I’ll be your homegirl.

Monique says, “I know I look good.”

I say, “I look ok, right?”

Monique isn’t concerned with the future, she’s about having a great time right now because she knows she will get put on the shelf soon enough. Trouble? Consequences? They don’t exist in her world.

The real me: Totally preoccupied with what’s next. What does this mean? When does the other shoe drop? Will I be prepared? Questions. More questions, more reasons the answer is no instead of yes.

Her heels are high, her lipstick is fire-red.

I like kitten heels or boots and comfy flats. My lips stay in more natural colors, and I wear very little make up.

As I get older, does this mean Monique has to completely leave the building? Or does she have to put aside/modify some of her wild ways too, so the real me doesn’t get in any serious trouble? If she didn’t show up every now and then, I’d be hella boring.

We’ll totally have to part ways once I become a mother, but I have a feeling my future husband may be interested in letting her visit from time to time. 🙂

“Not Myself Tonight” Pretty much sums up an evening with Monique. Thanks Xtina!

Breakthrough: I’m Relieved I’m Not Married Right Now

Ok, so this is huge.

Because if things had gone to plan, I would be living in Chicago right now and um, married. Not sure how happy I would be, but I would have certainly been married and living even further away from my family and friends.

I had a moment the other night.

I was sitting on my couch, eating a yummy meal I cooked.

Save for the television blathering on in the background, it was quiet. I was wearing old sweats sitting on my couch.

I had what psychiatric professionals would call a “breakthrough”.

Without any provocation, this thought just entered my head: “I’m happy I don’t have to take care of a man, protect him, stroke his ego and turn over and give him sex when I don’t feel like it.”

After I said it, it hit me like a ton of bricks that healing has been taking place. It felt good. I had to smile.Then I broke out in laughter.

I lost who I thought was the love of my life (maybe he is), but I gained a few things between the tears and private nervous breakdowns.

I was listening to God more.

I was more creative than I had been in years. I started this blog and I’m attempting to start a business that makes me feel so good. I’ve been taking classes and plan to take more. I’ve taken more action in my professional life.

I began to be more interested in me and what I wanted and what was important to me and what made me happy. I won’t lie. I got wrapped up and I immersed myself in the preparation for being a top-notch wife. Being a wife and moving was a cop out for something else that was changing my personality and increasing my stress, probably making me seem like a completely different woman who in the beginning of the relationship was very vibrant, engaged and satisfied professionally.

I was changing. Because I was so active in my relationship, I put other things on hold for “once I got settled in Chicago.”

It’s a year later, but I can thank God now for what I went through. I can be thankful for the quiet moments in my own home, where I do what I want when I want.

It’s not to say I don’t want a great man to share my life with down the line, but I want him to fit in seamlessly. I don’t want to have to force him in with a hammer, or drastically change my life to fit into his.

I want my future husband to find me eventually, but I want him to find me happy, healthy, at my best and at a stage of my life where there is growth and abundance and all he has to do is jump in and add to it. I don’t want to offend my future husband by saying this, but I want him to know he is highly valued in my life, but not my life completely.

In church Sunday, the pastor talked about trusting God. He also said we need to stop asking God for the details about how He’s going to do what you want Him to do. Reason being, if we knew all the hardships we will have to endure to get there, we’d just change our minds and say forget it.

I haven’t been this hopeful in a long time.

It feels miraculous. It feels Golden.

Friday Fun Music: Janelle Monae “Lettin Go”

I’ve had some real heavy blogs lately. I stumbled onto this early Janelle Monae song and I just love it. Makes you want to dance and throw the duces to your worries!

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