The view from my window

Personal Narrative
A windfarm in Indiana.
A windfarm in Indiana.

I’m with Blue and the kids in Indiana. We’re up here for his family reunion. Lots has been going on in the past several weeks, but all of my writing about it has been private, thus far. It’s time to start blogging again and I have a few updates coming soon. Today I just wanted to peek in and wave hello.

Hello!

Thoughts on a Friday

Personal Narrative
I love this album.

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain. I had the purple 45 growing up and listened to it until it was all scratchy. And then I listened to it some more.

I was in elementary school when it came out, so it’s likely I didn’t get it right away, but who remembers? I’m pretty sure I still have the saucer-sized vinyl disc and a plastic yellow 45 adapter stuck in the center of it.

It’s somewhere buried in the stacks of albums, cassettes and 8-tracks in the basement.  But I’ve not been home to check them lately.

To the house, is probably more accurate than home. As I wrote long ago, home is where the heart feels welcome. My heart and home are with Blue. I’m in the process of moving again.

I have an essay brewing about getting back in the swing of things after a year of transition. And now more transition is on tap. I have a couple of essays brewing, actually.

Speaking of writing, I’m thinking about taking a creative writing class. I’d like some sort of structure and accountability. Writing groups have been suggested to me more than once, so I do plan to look into those as well…

Years ago I claimed I had nothing to say. Not that what I had to say was valueless – I claimed to lack for ideas. I have the ideas. Just gotta to spend more time putting them on paper.

I’m a prolific thinker, but writers write.

Dreams, obligations and learning to say no.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative, Text Talk

How many minutes per day are enough to set aside for your dreams when you have a full 25 hours of obligations?

Blue posed this question to me last week. I was between two appointments and missing Tananarive Due’s Octavia E. Butler Celebration of Arts & Activism at Spelman College. (#OctaviaButlerSpelman). I was disappointed, but thanks to social media, I caught some of the proceedings later via live stream.

Blue’s question was a good one. He offered a response: Maybe the secret is minimizing your obligation footprint.

But how?

In the past my approach has been to start with dreams instead of waiting to fit them in later. “Later” isn’t tangible. In fact, by definition, later is always some time other than the present. Starting with dreams means waking before sunrise to tackle priorities. Or it means designing the day with hard breaks for non-negotiables.

In general, obligations take up more space than they’re due. Portrayed as sprawling affairs, they cover time and consciousness they simply don’t deserve. They’re akin to shadow puppets. They play games with light, appearing bigger or smaller in response to our motivation and energy levels.

But let’s be real. Creative scheduling and clarity of purpose do not absolve us of obligations. And despite our best efforts, sometimes they pull rank, and demand healthy portions of our limited attention. But then, what happens to our dreams?

Time is a finite resource, and minimizing your obligation footprint can mean being more efficient, but it also means cutting away that which doesn’t truly move you forward.

yes-238371_640I’ve spent the past couple of days cuddled up with Pearl Cleage’s latest. I’m underlining and starring key points, and alternating between laughing (or gasping) aloud and reading aloud as audience permits.

In the first section of the book she whines, schemes and strives to create time for things that are most important. Eventually, she quits a job that makes her unhappy so she can focus on living her life instead of lamenting about it.

Last May I came across  Learning to Say No, an essay Pearl penned for Essence Magazine in 2004. In it, she said she was a recovering yes-woman:

I realized there was only one way to stop saying yes when I meant no, and that was to understand that I wasn’t just giving up an hour or two here, or a Saturday afternoon there, but the precious, irreplaceable moments of my life. And I decided to stop doing it.

She lights on a specific moment in her life and the circumstances of the essay dovetail with the journal entries detailing her resignation and new departure. She said no to obligations that didn’t serve her, so she could say yes to the priorities that would. We can learn to do that with the big issues of our lives, but it’s also good practice for vetting the energy vampires in our day-to-day. More wisdom from Pearl’s essay:

That night I came up with six questions that I hoped would help me reclaim my life. I call them The Big Six, and I offer them here for one simple reason: They work. Next time someone asks you a question that requires a yes or no answer, ask yourself the following:

    1. What am I being asked to do?
    2. Who is making the request?
    3. Who will benefit from this activity?
    4. What do I want to do?
    5. What will happen if I say no?
    6. What will happen if I say yes?

Wishing you the perfect balance of no, yes and joyful reclamation.

xoxo

Free write

30 Day Blog Challenge, 30 in 30 April

I’ve set a timer for 5 minutes and I’m just typing stream of consciousness.

I had so many plans when I woke up, and I’ve been working through them, but, well, you know how it goes sometimes. A few interruptions here, a fire to put out there, and it seems there’s been a lot of busyness, but not as much business.

That’s fine. I can still check a few items off my list and create a clear plan of action for tomorrow based on what I accomplished today. And really, that’s the best you can do on any given day. Since the fourth agreement is “always do your best,” I can close out the work day in peace and look forward to a productive day tomorrow.

Me & Blue, after my 1st run in 2013.
Me & Blue, after my 1st run in 2013.

Speaking of tomorrow, I’m excited because I think time and weather are on my side. If I’m correct, I will run my first miles of 2014! I’ve missed running. And although I need a new pair of running shoes (I never really bonded with the old ones), it’ll be so lovely to get outside and get fresh air. Running is one of my favorite forms of exercise for many reasons, and I have some new goals/approaches in store for the running season. I’ll let you know how it goes…

Time up!

The deeper business of being beautiful inside.

Love, Politics, News & Notable

Blue and I saw 12 Years a Slave as soon as it was released in Atlanta.

The film was stunning.

We dined afterward and talked for hours about the the movie and the myriad topics it inspired: slavery, racism, privilege, wealth, the power of story, literacy, critical literacy and public schooling. We discussed the stories that get told or lost. We noted, with a healthy dose of cynicism, who “history” deems worthy of remembrance.

We retold scenes to each other. Relived predictions, twists. What made us look away, hold our breath, or more tightly to the other’s hand.

The writing, directing and performances were brilliant. And yet as moved as I was during and after, it was Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey who brought me to tears:

At some point I want to truly express what Patsey meant to me, but this post is about Lupita.

I’m overjoyed she has received accolades during this awards season, including the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She is being honored for being herself. Not a shrinking violet of herself, but a lantern. A ray of sunshine in what can sometimes be the the darkness of Hollywood. She overcame a childhood of self loathing to become someone who, quite literally, puts herself on stage, on screen, on view, for all the world to see.

Lupita relates her story in a loving response to a young woman drawn to her light. Watch it below:

And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. ~Lupita Nyong’o

Welcome to cocostudio

Personal Narrative

Last night, Blue glanced over at the clock and smiled as he asked, “How do you feel in your last minute of being 39?” I laughed.

I felt great. I still do.

In my late 20s, I looked forward to turning 30. I was sad though, in those last few minutes. My mother had passed away a few months earlier, and I hadn’t considered greeting that milestone without her in my life. Despite my grief, I joyfully welcomed the new decade and all the excitement 30s held.

Blue's brown sugar bourbon bundt.
Blue’s brown sugar bourbon bundt.

It seems as though I merely blinked, yet here we are at the dawning of another decade. I’m not sure how one is “supposed” to look and feel at 40, but I truly believe another magical time is here. I have life lessons and accumulated wisdom on my side, along with the vitality and determination of youth.

I have big goals for the next 5 – 10 years. I’m not sure of action steps or how they will manifest, but I do know I’m completely invested in creating the life I want and enjoying every moment.

I still haven’t blogged about my theme for 2014 (I have one), but it, along with my 40s theme “building” involves deeper exploration of my identity. Who am I and what do I contribute to the world? In thinking about that, I wanted to reclaim cocostudio, which has been dormant for a couple of years.

I’m still working out the kinks, learning new widgets and playing with layouts and colors. You may notice a few changes in the coming weeks as I get settled in. As always, I welcome your feedback and comments, so please share your thoughts and repost your favorite entries when you’re moved to do so.

Welcome (or welcome back) to cocostudio.

Everything begins from now!
When we live in the present moment with our entire being,
our lives will shine with glory and success!
~Daisaku Ikeda

Revelations

Personal Narrative

Every Valentine’s weekend, the magnificent dancers of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater command center stage at the fabulous Fox. I’ve gone perhaps once every five years or so since I was a little girl. I don’t remember much about my first show other than I was there with my mom and one of her friends, and I was quietly awed about what I’d seen.

Since then, each time I’ve returned, the beauty, power and magic of Revelations is what I most long to see. Years I don’t go, I pacify myself with YouTube.

When I’m lucky, I find older videos, sometimes 20 years old, and watch them alongside the newer ones. The dancers’ athleticism and grace, and the pictures they create on stage are awe-inspiring.

Last year I hadn’t moved back to Atlanta by the time AAADT came and went. Still, I was disappointed I didn’t go to a show. I missed them. It’s been too long, I told Blue. I’m turning 40 next February. I have to go see Ailey next year. An early birthday gift.

Fox AileyThis year, just in time for the second great thaw of 2014, we went! I have rotating list of favorite things, and Revelations has a permanent place in the top five. I’m not alone:

More people have seen Revelations than any other modern dance work, and it has been enjoyed by over 23 million people in 71 countries across six continents.

If you have the opportunity to experience Ailey in general and Revelations in particular, don’t miss it.

Fibroids and Mojo

Personal Narrative, Women's Health

So I’m getting my mojo back!

I woke up this morning and felt high on endorphins even though I had only a few hours of sleep and no exercise. Over the past few weeks, I’ve felt more and more myself.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been seeing an acupuncturist as a first line of treatment for my fibroids. Dr. Liu is a trained medical doctor who learned Chinese medicine later. She aims to help the body achieve optimum health with the belief that it will then be able to dissolve the fibroids. She’s had a lot of success with patients, and although there are no guarantees, I can definitely say I’m feeling better than I have in months. That is a huge win.

In addition to my higher energy levels, my insides no longer feel twisty, and I can breathe normally (all month long) in everything from dresses to jeans to yoga pants. Blue says I look more “sleek,” and because I feel it, I walk it, too. #hotmama

Welcome back mojo! I missed you!

Thankful Thursday

30 Day Blog Challenge

The past several Thursdays, I’ve seen Anika tweet simple gratitudes. As I was sitting here admiring today’s gorgeous weather, I thought it might be nice to do a couple.

  • After days of clouds and rain, I’m overjoyed about the sunshine, and thankful I can enjoy it.
  • I was able to run this morning and witness the dawning of a new day. I’m thankful for my good health.
  • She’s on my mind a lot because her birthday is tomorrow…I’m thankful for my mom, RIP.
  • I’m happy for  the chance to reflect upon and learn from past choices. I’m thankful for evolution.
  • I’m thankful for friendships that endure time and space.
  • I’m thankful for vulnerability and love.

Your turn! What are you thankful for today?