Truth or dare

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative

From Joshunda’s interview with Pearl Cleage:

A dual history of bias and internalized oppression has kept most black women from publishing their memoirs or journals, Cleage adds, for fear of emotional and economic reprisals. “After slavery ended, black women continued to put forward the idea that we were good, sexually responsible women, going up against the racist stereotypes that came out of the madness of slavery,” Cleage says. “But there was still the fear of being too honest around white people. I don’t feel that’s a legitimate feeling for me. I’m going to tell the truth to whoever is in the room.”

When I read truth, I feel courageous and emboldened. Powerful. Magical. Writing the truth, however, is altogether different. But when I do, that’s when folks nod. Say, I felt that. I needed that. I never knew that. Amen.

From Joshunda: Cleage says she drew her inspiration for the book from the diaries of Anaïs Nin, which she found liberating and inspirational, much like the work of Walker and Shange. 

Sounds familiar.  Truth is hard to come by in the pages of books, although I must admit I wasn’t exactly searching for it as a younger woman. Discovering it, though, was quite a revelation. Filling. There was that magic, that power I didn’t know I sought. Reading it encouraged me to write it, yet in the beginning I found it hard to lay truths on the page. They were there, but buried. Hidden in metaphor and verse. Rarely plainspoken and clear.

It’s less hard now. But this doesn’t mean easy.

It’s also slow at times, truth-telling is. Because there’s this contextualizing you have to do. Background building. Setting the stage and what have you.

And then there’s the crafting. Are you conveying what you really mean to say? Who might be hurt? Who might feel misrepresented? Are you true to you?

I did not want to be the traitor,  the teller of family secrets – and yet I wanted to be a writer. ~bell hooks

Once you’ve framed it and crafted it, then there’s the time set aside for doubting. Is it too much? Who are you to give voice to this experience? And on it goes.

Until finally you shout, or whisper, “Me, dammit! It’s my truth. I’m telling it!” And you press send or publish as the case may be, and try to move on to the next thing without agonizing so much on the last thing.

And perhaps over time it gets easier. I dunno.

I do know it’s always a digging in. A meditation. A labor of love. Truth-telling is.

It’s freeing for truth and for the one who told it.

It’s difficult. But perhaps no more difficult than any other act of love.

Midway check-in

30 Day Blog Challenge, 30 in 30 April

Blue skies swirl to pink lights. Fade to gray.

It’s dusk.

I missed the blood moon eclipse last night, but I’m enjoying the sunset tonight.

I’ve been sweeping away cobwebs, opening taps, stretching writing muscles. This is blog entry #15 in 15 days, and as usual, I’m glad I opted for the challenge. Also as usual, there are pros and cons to posting every day. But the benefits outweigh the drawbacks and I’m glad to get back into a writing rhythm.

I’ve tried different approaches, but none seem to work as well as writing everyday. Writing everyday doesn’t mean publishing my writing everyday, and that’s the balance I’ll work on once we enter May.

For now, I shall continue with my daily entries.

To strive even higher, to do even better—the creative process is a desperate struggle to go beyond what we were yesterday. It is a battle against resting on our laurels, against the fear of losing what we have. It is an adventure into unknown territory. ~Daisaku Ikeda

April Fool Freewrite

30 Day Blog Challenge, 30 in 30 April

There’s been a lot on my mind in recent weeks. Days. Hours. Even just now as I started to write this entry, I decided against any number of topics and decided to simply say hello.

Hello!

I’m being indecisive, but I’m almost sure this is my first entry in another #30in30. Once in a while I challenge myself to blog every day for a month. Here are the entries from my previous forays. Generally I decide on a whim and just go for it.

I’ve felt a little stuck with my writing lately. No shortage of ideas, but time is at a premium as of late. Maybe this will help me work around and through a few things.

Here’s to the ride. You coming along?

 

Top posts for September

30 Day Blog Challenge

Here are the top posts from last month’s 30in30 challenge:

September is my mom’s birth month. She was on my mind, and subsequently, on my blog. Early in the month, I wrote about the Barnes and Noble she never had the chance to enjoy. Later, on her birthday, I shared a co-worker’s wisdom about mothers and grief. In short, losing a mother can leave you broken-hearted, even a decade later.

I talked about vulnerability and learning to be “intentionally transparent” with the one you love. Easy to want, but often hard to do. It boils down to being honest with yourself first. That level of honesty and clarity about myself and my needs is at the root of an emotional wellness strategy I learned in September.

Emotional wellness is important, but wellness extends to many domains. In honor of National Women’s Health & Fitness day, I wrote about prioritzing physical wellness in the face of a busy lifestyle.

Last month, Diana Nyad made history, and she endures as a testament to dreaming big, and never giving up. It is with that spirit that I welcome October. I’m revising and devising my goals and striving forward each day. I wish the same for you.

Last, but not least

30 Day Blog Challenge

I debated yesterday and today about what kind of entry I would write for my last 30in30 this month. I wondered if it would be a roundup of the top posts of the month. I considered featuring my favorite posts. I pondered whether or not to share my my girlfriend’s story about lupus (spoiler alert: coming soon).

Today during dinner, there were unexpected fireworks. I thought about posting that story, including the fact that several patrons ran out onto the balcony just to witness the display.  We all clapped at the finale.

But the truth is, I’m sleepy. It’s past my bedtime and I’m just happy I made it through another challenge. As always, I learned a lot about myself and my life during the past 30 days. I’m in a completely different place than I was during the last challenge this March. I’ve moved and I’m acclimating to a different way of life. The promise of new employment came and went. I’ve gotten my running mojo back. Surprising story ideas are brewing. And I’ve made small but significant strides in my professional life.

Lots going on. And in the middle of it all, I wrote one post every day for the past 30 days. For the time being, I’m planning to pull back a bit. I want to try something new…

My goal is to write one post per week. These may be more developed than my previous posts. Not sure yet. I like the discipline of a regular schedule, but every day isn’t sustainable. So this is a compromise I’m trying out.

We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, do you have any topics you’d like me to write about? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Last, but not least: Congratulations to me!

Knowing that to give up is to be defeated by oneself, continue single-mindedly to take small but significant steps in the shaping of your destiny. ~Daisaku Ikeda

Autumnal equinox

30 Day Blog Challenge, Temple Building

Today marks the first day of fall. To be honest, it’s felt like fall for most of the summer here in Georgia. I’m not looking forward to winter, which I’m betting will not be one of our characteristically mild affairs. 

But winter is a full season away, and autumn is upon us now. So what, if anything, will you do differently? I rather like the beginnings of things. It’s a great opportunity to make a new determination, refresh an old one, or purge ideas or habits that no longer serve. Even though this is typically associated with spring, any time is a great time to begin anew. New Year’s Eve. Anniversaries.  Mondays. Mornings

Anyone who has ever made a resolution discovers that the strength of that determination fades in time. The moment you feel that is when you should make a fresh determination. Tell yourself, “OK! I will start again from now!” If you fall down seven times, get up an eighth. Don’t give up when you feel discouraged—just pick yourself up and renew your determination each time. ~Daisaku Ikeda

Participants in Dr. Tiffany Griffin's veg-centric workshop at Spelman College.
Participants in Dr. Tiffany Griffin’s veg-centric workshop at Spelman College.

You can renew your determinations any time, including today! And it doesn’t have to be anything big or overwhelming. You can decide to go to bed a little earlier. Or be nicer to a loved one. Or practice gratitude. You can remind yourself to drink more water during the day. There’s really no limit to the ways you can choose to start over.

Lately, I’ve been integrating changes. Just a couple of days of mindful food choices and tuning in to what my body really needs has already yielded great results. Today I’m refreshing my determination to consume more veg-centric meals and do more of the things I enjoy doing: reading, writing, and dancing, to name a few. 

How will you mark the start of fall?

Six years ago

30 Day Blog Challenge

Once upon a time, I drafted some ideas for a story. I wrote a few pieces as the characters began introducing themselves to me. I’ve never edited nor even really revisited those pieces in all these years. I simply wrote them and went on with life – which was graduate school at the time. That’s my disclaimer. This is one ’em. *shivers*
=========================

Laysha stands on the damp grass, watching, waiting, eyes trained on Casey. Though the fans gathered are talking and laughing, she hears nothing. She barely feels Yogi’s chin against her shoulder. Yogi’s voice, miles away, registers “Four hundred. Your girl’s up.” ‘Laysha nods, distractedly. “Umm-hmm” she breathes. She thinks to herself, This should be good. See what she’s really made of. Hmmm. They put her in the right place. Slow poke lane way on the outside.

The shot rings out interrupting ‘Laysha from her thoughts. Arms crossed, her eyes follow Casey who quickly gets up to full speed. Casey rounds the first curve looking pretty even with the other girls. Her slight forward lean and wide, quick stride are almost regal. She’s running on her toes the way many sprinters do. It’s obvious she has some skills, but this isn’t your ordinary sprint.

She’s startin’ off kinda fast. Too fast really. I know she can’t keep that pace.

Into the first stretch, Casey is still striding, but losing pace with the faster, more experienced runners.

“Dang,” says Yogi, under her breath. ‘Laysha gently shakes away. Yogi, fully engaged, does not mind the brush off.

Dang is right. The 400 is no joke. She’s trying, gotta give her credit for that.

Casey is still at it, but all grace is gone. Three quarters around the track, she is demolished. Her feet pound the cushioned track as though each slap will somehow keep her going. Her chin in her chest, her eyes in her forehead, her face clouded with determination and pain. Entering the back curve she’s been left behind. Yanking her arms forward and back, her face is a grimace. She desperately gasps for breath, and silently prays for energy. She’s where no runner wants to be, but where every runner ends up sooner or later – nearing the end of the race with the bear on her back.

Engrossed, ‘Laysha thinks she hears Yogi, “Don’t give up Case!” She steals a glance to see Yogi clapping, waving her arms like she’s flagging the last bus of the night.

No longer able to feign disinterest, ‘Laysha leans forward shaking her head, “The bear really sucks,” she whispers. She realizes her heart is racing. She nibbles on her thumb then snatches it away. She might be a trooper Laysha concedes. She sucks in a deep breath, relaxing her shoulders while nibbling again on her thumb. She strolls toward the finish, apparently not caring how the race turns out. The other girls are staring at Casey, cheering her on like good teammates should. ‘Laysha keeps walking, peeking over her shoulder to see the grueling end. Just finish, she thinks. Just finish, her thumbnail starting to splinter under her teeth.

The race is over. Casey, last, out of breath, red from exertion and running in slow motion, finally passes everyone. She leans over the finish, almost toppling forward. She comes to an abrupt halt, clutching the stitch in her side and burying her face in her knees. “No, keep going!” Someone yells. “Jog it out Casey, don’t just stop!” She musters the strength to stand up straight and start moving again. Exhausted yet embarrassed, she is grateful for a reason to move a few feet away.

‘Laysha finds herself in step with Casey, whose arms are now skyward, beckoning air to once again fill her burning lungs. Body cooling from the ordeal, a few drops of sweat start to slide down her temples. Casey suddenly notices ‘Laysha on her left. Too winded to care, she whips her face back forward. Breathing is the only thing that matters right now. Breathing and mourning. Warm tears begin to slide down her damp face.

“It wasn’t as bad as you think.” No hint of the usual sarcasm. No snide remark. “Everyone knows that’s the hardest race. You held your ground. Keep your head up.”

Just as quickly as she appeared, ‘Laysha left Casey’s side, leaving the still breathless runner to consider the race, the team, and most of all the enigma ‘Laysha had just shown herself to be.

Getting back to great

30 Day Blog Challenge, Temple Building

Some runs are just good runs. This morning’s run definitely goes in the books as a good one.  Why?

I found a new route that works well.
Because I’m in a new area, I’m mapping and remapping routes as I run. This morning I found a couple of good stretches without too many turns to memorize. Moreover, today’s route  didn’t take me over too many ginormous hills nor past too many dilapidated houses.

I ran 4 miles. Again.
Although I used to run 4 miles 3-4 times a week, it was all on relatively flat land. I’m building the stamina to run 4 miles on hilly terrain. Although I’ve hit the magic number a couple of times this summer, it’s my first time this year running 4 miles twice in one week. Progress!

I ran hard.
Today’s run was not for punks. I’m no speed demon, but based on my current level of fitness, I really pushed it. I opened up my stride and maintained a nice pace for decent stretches. It felt good to work hard without feeling tired or run down. It’s refreshing to remember what athleticism feels like: VICTORY (that’s my name, by the way).

I welcomed the sun goddess.
Today, during a short breather, I said good morning to the sun (yes, out loud). One of my favorite things about running is the opportunity to be outside and connect with nature. This is especially awesome when I run from first light to sunrise and can see the sky warming as we welcome the morning.  Since I’ve moved away from the Sunshine State, I’ve had to work a little harder to catch the sun’s beauty, but two of my new routes allow just that.

All in all, this morning’s run was fabulous. I’ve been eating more mindfully and resting as much as possible the past couple of days. I’m starting to feel more like myself.  I’m feeling good and getting back to great. Coincidence?

No such thing. o/

Halfway…

30 Day Blog Challenge

Today marks the halfway point of my 30 in 30 challenge for September. More importantly, it marks the completion point for one trip around the sun with my love, Blue.

Yeah, we’re those people. Holding hands in the grocery store. Sending cards just because. And why not? Time flies. You’re the pilot.

…but how do you want to feel?

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative, Productivity, Temple Building, Women's Health

I’m home, after a day of inspiration. And like I’ve been for the past few months, I’m tired. I’m not bone tired or weary, but I’ve just noticed that I’m not as energized as I used to be. There are many very specific reasons for that, but they all boil down to one: change.

One day after work, I did handstands and cartwheels in this grass.
One day after work, I did handstands and cartwheels in this grass.

Over the past several months, I’ve changed a lot and so has my environment. From my zip code to my job responsibilities, to aspects of romantic and platonic relationships.

Personal goals and professional goals have shifted. Exercise habits have changed. Food. The amount of time I spend in the sun or the ways I engage nature. The amount and type of sleep I get. It’s all been one massive ball of change.

Some changes have been on purpose, and others were the result of circumstances. But it still amounts to the same thing: a whole lot is different right now.

It reminds me of the time I was a classroom teacher. At the beginning of every year, I started routines and rituals. I got to know my students, and in some cases new curriculum, new materials, new administrators, and/or new colleagues. All I could do was work my heart out each day and come home and sleep. And sleep.

Sometimes, at the start of school, I’d be asleep well before sunset (not kidding) and I wouldn’t move until daybreak. And that would go on maybe two or three weeks.  Suddenly, I’d get in the swing of things. I’d be on it. Everything would run smoothly at work, and I’d have plenty of energy to plan ahead, or dance, or date, or take classes, or whatever.

But it always took time. And even though it happened every year like clockwork, I had to be gentle with myself, and do what I needed to do to reach a state of equilibrium with my surroundings.

Except for exercise choices, which are primarily seasonal, my recent changes have not been cyclical. They’ve been positive, yet progressive and persistent. One month after another, there’s been a new spin on things. And I haven’t been very good at stopping to reflect. To do the inner work to harmonize fully with all aspects of my life.

Today’s keynote speaker, Akilah Richards, asked us to consider,

…but how do you want to feel?

And I took the time to sit with that this morning. I journaled about it. I sat in the sunshine. I mulled. I want to feel energized and accomplished. Cheerful. Not superficially, or for a few hours in the morning, but I want these feelings to pervade my day and influence my environment.

At the core I want to BE energy and BE productivity and BE good cheer. I’ve felt that way before. I’ve been those things before. I know how to be that person.  I’ll learn how to be those things again, in my new place and under my new conditions.

Clarity is a critical first step.

Mindful action will be the second.

Stay tuned.