One task

Personal Narrative, Zaimu Challenge

Today I am thinking of fear. Feeling it. Working through it. Understanding it. Appreciating it as a teacher.

Fear, in certain degrees, can feel like a happy excitement. Stomach tingling, breath quickening. I felt that fear today. It comes when I have doubts about something I want to do, and I can see the beginning of paralysis. Self-sabotage. I haven’t given into Resistance yet, but I have the sudden urge to talk myself out of… progress.

But for now it’s just a tingle. It’s commentary about the relative location of me and my comfort zone.

A New Year’s Eve declaration.

Any time fear is my muse, I ponder the word fearless. I explored this a few years ago, and I have come to understand THAT being fearless is not really being without fear, but about lessening fear’s influence.

If giving into fear means remaining silent or standing still, then being fearless means speaking up or moving, despite the fear. The fear is still present, but it does not defeat you.

Fearlessness is about the steps you take when it feels safer, more comfortable, to stay put.

I’m working on a small project. For many reasons, it inspires fear. Will it be good enough? Will it come out as I expect? Will it have the impact I desire?

Will it…?

Will it…?

Will it…?

If fear wins, I’ll soon make up reasons to work on something else entirely.

If I am fearless, tomorrow I will complete one more task; bring it one step closer to completion.

Old Snippets

Personal Narrative

I’m organizing.

This is one of the first steps in my creative process. It’s resistance, or maybe it’s preparation for creation. All I know is, I can always tell how serious I am about writing by how much I suddenly have to clear off desks and organize files. Ha.

Today’s resistance-preparation is clearing out some of the random notes I’ve written in my computer’s Stickies app. Some of these are a few years old and most of them are interesting.

The one I’ve pasted below was written on Christmas Day 2012. At first I had no idea what was on my mind, but on second thought, I was pretty sure it was about love.

It was stream of consciousness so this is unedited. Maybe I’ll expand it, revise it, or something. Maybe not.

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Coming out of a cave is at once liberating and fear-inducing. Eventually, you see, one comes to love the cave without so much as a second thought. It is home. It is cozy. One is protected from the elements. And there again, in many ways, from life itself.

And there I was, comfortable in cave-as-home. Caged. And here I am, out. Free. And it is joyful. Yet painful. Elements assault underused senses. The prickly sensation of blood flowing through sleeping organs. It’s uncomfortable.

Laughter as sunshine. Tears for rain. Breath – sometimes quick and shallow, other times relaxed, deep – so much wind.

 

The Very Best Thing

Personal Narrative

Writer/director dream hampton asked this question on Twitter and shared a steady stream of responses. People taught their children to read, nurtured loved ones in times of sorrow or ill-health, quit jobs they hated, and traveled or moved overseas.

Some took classes and learned things that allowed them to radically transform their ways of being. Others wrote books, got married, took a chance on love, or learned to love themselves.

It’s a beautiful question, and one that requires no external metric. I’ve been thinking about it, and while there are lots of things I’m glad I accomplished or tried or read, I think the best thing I did was push beyond my comfort zone. There were several times this year where things felt risky or scary or I was unsure how they’d turn out, and I decided those were great reasons to try them anyway.

Comfort with discomfort is pushing me toward new goals for 2014, and I’m intrigued and excited about how they will manifest.

But enough about me. What was the best thing YOU did this year?

Abiding Love

Love, Personal Narrative

Some years are made for themes. They begin with declarations, resolutions, bucket lists, big bangs, and the like. Two years ago I opened 2011 fierce, bold, courageous.

As if 3.5 years of grad school weren’t enough, in 2011 I found myself desirous of more profound and personal challenges. I wanted to face things that scared me. Push myself beyond self-imposed limitations.

Despite the steps I took to face seeming fears out there, I soon discovered the real fears were within. Towering at times. Moments of clarity and honesty produced tools for dismantling and dissolving. I chiseled and chipped and melted fears after hours of prayers, reflection, and tearful storytelling. Truth-telling to the one I lied most often: me.

2012 did not open with a declaration. And throughout the year I sought the theme retroactively. Eventually I figured out that I never really concluded the learning, pushing and fear facing of 2011. And so not one, but two years were about fear and overcoming it.

Now a new year has dawned, and to fear and fearlessness I say, “thank you.” Fear and the efforts to win over it, are great teachers. The most important lesson, the most beautiful gift, was love.

I am no longer interested in the framing, facing or challenging of fear. Instead I seek, welcome, embrace and share love.

2013 is the Year of Abiding Love. 

And so it is.

A Request

Feminist Thought, Personal Narrative

You are not an impostor and you are not alone. This, despite any feelings or supposed evidence you may have to the contrary.

I wish someone had shared this with me before I started graduate school. I wish it had been the hook of a song I was required to sing each morning upon waking. I wish I had repeated it, hand over heart, at the beginning of each class period; a pledge and a reminder.

As it was, I didn’t figure these things out until quite near the end of it all, after many days (years) of wondering what the hell I was doing there. Really.

A former student of mine solicited advice on finishing up away from peers and profs. It’s a good question. There’s enough isolation during the process when you’re surrounded by support; never mind away, with a new job to boot. Vulnerability is not easy among strangers, especially in a professional setting. And there’s something to be said about the implied distance within virtual spaces.

I’ve developed a response, but I’m going to let it marinate overnight.

They Will Find You

Personal Narrative

be still and let them find you/they will come when they are ready ~ruth foreman

So says Ruth in a poem featured in Flat-Footed Truths: Writing Black Women’s Lives. She is talking about your words, your stories. They come to you and through you at the anointed, appointed time. I am finding this to be true in my own life. It has been quite an evolution really – moving from wanting to write my life to becoming ready to actually do it.

The more I read from women who are unabashedly unafraid to narrate their lives, the more I feel the urge to do the same. This has gone through various manifestations over the past two decades:

  • I want to be a writer!
  • I should write, but I have nothing to say. (This one for 10 years).
  • I have things to say, but to whom?
  • I should write, just because…who cares who reads it?
  • I’m afraid to write.
  • I need to write to explore, inquire, and grow. (But I’m still afraid to write…).

This last place is my present positioning. I am beginning to view writing as a tool of understanding and simultaneously as a tool of empowerment. As we write, we have the opportunity to reflect, but also the chance to rewrite our trajectories. As we write the past and the present, we have the opportunity to also write our futures.

We have a say. Writing gives voice to thoughts and makes them visible. In their visibility they become tangible: A memory becomes a guiding light. An amorphous thought becomes a pathway, a next step. It becomes something I can touch and do. Through writing, thoughts can become action.

I found myself reading Audre Lorde, Anaïs Nin, and literally breathing in their words. They refresh me; quench a thirst I wasn’t sure existed. Why? Because they are me, only they are brave. They write about the complexities of their lives, being honest and open about things others of us would rather keep secret. They hold uncomfortable memories up to the light, turn them round and round and draw the truth out, painful (or joyful) though it may be.

When I read their words I always have to journal or jot down the memories I’ve pushed away. The secrets I’ve kept hidden. The lessons I’ve left unlearned or unchallenged. Reading their bravery pushes me closer to my own.

In 2011, I am fearless. And so it goes, one word, one page at a time.

be still and let them find you/they will come when they are ready ~ruth foreman

On Being a Vessel

Personal Narrative, Spirituality, Temple Building

I was sleeping. I normally don’t dream or at least don’t usually have memories of dreams. This night was no different. It was maybe a year or so after my mother died. In any event, I was sleeping. Soundly. Suddenly, I woke up with this idea. It wasn’t an idea I wanted to have. It wasn’t an idea I had been mulling or chewing on. It was an idea that showed up, fully formed, in my consciousness. It demanded I wake up and write it down.

Efforts to ignore it and go back to sleep were wholly ineffective. It came with its own adrenaline rush and there was no pushing it off for the sake of shut eye. So there I was, in my office, trying to capture this idea that didn’t come from me, but was certainly coming through me. I remember feeling desperate to get it all down. And when it was all typed out, I felt as if I had just given birth. Having never actually birthed a human, I can’t be sure, but that’s about the closest I can get to describing it.

I knew at that moment I did not have the resources to make this idea a reality (yet). I thought then that it was at least 5 or 10 years in the making. I went on with life, not giving much thought to the idea.

This was around 2004 or 2005.

Since then, every two or three years, the idea gently resurfaces, as if to remind me it still exists. But earlier this year when it resurfaced, it was LOUD and demanding! Some aspects of it had changed, and it wanted me to know. I’m talking about it as though it has a life of its own. It does.

I felt scared because it seemed as if the time was getting closer to bring it from the world of the formlessness into the world of form, but I’m. Not. Ready. At least so I feel. Felt. Feel? I don’t know. It felt urgent. Like hurry up! Interestingly, there are still many pieces I don’t possess. But recently I realized that’s okay. Since I need help, I’ve now asked for it. I’m praying to meet a mentor who can help me. And I know that if I am truly a vessel for this, as it seems I may be, the path will be illuminated if I will just start walking.

Saying No to Say Yes

Personal Narrative, Spirituality, Temple Building

I don’t know what the future holds.

This is an amazing realization for someone who prides herself on being a planner. I remember being in my room, the summer before my freshman year in high school, with the brochure of graduation requirements. As a “rising” 9th grader, I plotted out all the courses I would take and when (including summer school to possibly get done early). I stuck pretty closely to that plan and graduated in the top 5 of 360 people.

Still mad about that C in Clothing, but what can you do?

Without going into my whole academic career and life events since then, let’s just say I like to know what’s next. Which brings us to where we are now, in this amazing and scary place.

I was offered a job this week. One that would have me working at the ground level while an internationally respected organization builds a new organization in my current city of residence. I would be one of the first to work in this new division. I would have lots of responsibility working with teachers across multiple sites. I would continue working with a team of smart people, as a member of a partnership of well respected scholars. I would have mad cred.

But I don’t want the job. Or rather, this is not the job for me.

Right after the meeting to discuss it, I walked to my car feeling sad. Spirit communicates through my feelings and this sadness is as clear as it gets. Don’t get me wrong…Ego is excited, yelling Don’t! Skip! This! Opportunity!

Spirit is sad and whispers, just say no.

The problem? There’s nothing waiting on me. There’s no “other option on the table.” And in fact, I wasn’t job hunting at all. I still have a few months to go before I am ready for that. It’s easy to be excited and jump at every opportunity that falls into my lap. But something tells me if I have the courage to follow my heart rather than my ego, I will discover the divine perfect place for me.

This ain’t it.

It’s scary, moving forward with no plan, no clear next step. But I honestly feel as if this isn’t really a no. It’s a yes to my ultimate Truth.