Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Black Does Crack

I’m a month shy of another birthday and I still get the “well you don’t look it” comments followed by a quick side eye. Not sure if it’s my stature, face or choice in clothes that lead people to say what they say, but I take it with a grain of salt. Flattery gets you nowhere with me. A young client said she looked me up on Psychology Today and her friend asked “Well how old is she?” My client’s response was “You know Black women. Their black don’t crack. She can be anywhere between twenty and eighty years old for all I know!” That made me laugh. Close enough. I’ll be forty-three and proud of it.

But it got me to thinking. For the most part, they’re right. Black does not crack. Women of other cultures (albeit reluctantly) agree that there’s something about our skin that belies our age. Our energy speaks to that of younger years. We’ve got that “go getter” aura about us. No wilting flowers here! What we project to others lead many to think we will one day be just like Elijah, where God will simply pluck us up from the earth in a blaze and carry us to glory.

But our black does crack. There are cracks in our collective spirits as women of color that go unseen. Our husbands and children are oblivious to it. Our parents have no clue. Our closest friends would be shocked to see the leakage taking place in our lives.

Yes our black does crack. Each time you have to over advocate at the doctor’s office for a mammogram a few years earlier than your insurance requires, a crack is created. You fill each cancer question with a yes and they still want to deny you the biopsy because “you’re not old enough”. You come in with twenty questions about your health and damned if only two get answered! The minute you start “WebMD-ing” your health care provider, their eyes glaze over and you stop because your mama raised you to be polite and not cuss.

Yes our black does crack. Each time we have to overcompensate in leadership positions. There’s that impatience from others when we speak. We are too intense, too serious, too angry. What do we know? We’ve only been educated and qualified to do our jobs. The suppressed looks of surprise when we talk through doors for the first time and our voices don’t match the locs/hair weaves/or mountains of curls on our head. Bill collectors voice meets Black skin and the world screeches to a sudden halt.

Yes our black does crack. Each time we have to teach our children how to protect themselves from the evils of this world; to know the difference between overt and subliminal attempts to demean them. Each time our Black husbands come home with yet another story of how he was passed over for something or other and you can’t help but wonder why. Where you have to be his number one cheerleader each and every day because the media and society (as the slave masters before them believed) say he should be good for nothing but breeding and breaking his back in the fields.

Yes our black does crack. When we’ve committed to living in our communities but the health food store is way out yonder. You drive and see everything that can be fried is just a few dollars within reach and everything that’s broiled or baked is not. Knowing that just one generation before, your ancestors plucked what they needed from the earth and needed no modern medicine to heal them. Fast forward to now and everything’s suddenly become “holistic” and suddenly out of reach. Them same leaves grandma used to mash up in the bowl before she boiled and gave to you now cost a pretty penny sitting in pretty bottles–in the store.

As our faces continue to age backwards, our body, mind and soul continues to come under attack. There is nothing easy about being a Sistah in a world that loves you via appropriation of your natural beauty. Your hair looked like Medusa when you were growing out your baby locs; it now looks like something cute and fashionable on someone else. Nostrils and lips that were once parodies in cartoons are now the number one requests at the plastic surgeon’s office. The derrières of our mothers which were (honestly) earned from heavy lifting and hard work are now what sends many in droves to the gym! All poor and lackluster attempts at seeking the eternal youth they believe we possess.

Where are the cracks in your life? Is your soul barren? Is your health compromised? Is your spirit suffering from the silence that’s threatening to snuff it out? Don’t spend your lifetime perpetuating a lie.

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Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Declutter Your Life 

I spent an entire day doing laundry, trashing old CDs and just getting into all sorts of fits each time I saw a corner of my house that had clutter piling up. Piles of books. Piles of junk mail. Piles of shoes. Ugh…

We usually assign Spring as the time to place back all the winter gear, go through our checklist of what to update around the house and tidy up our living spaces. We take inventory of what we have and promise we the retail gods they will never see us in a mall or on Amazon ever again! Yeah right. 

How many of us actually take the time to do the same with our lives? I mean if I’m going to try and get my house in order, may as well take some time to inventory my life and see what’s worth keeping or getting rid of. Right?

 *inserts sense of discomfort*

Take An Emotional Inventory                            

I’m entering a personally emotional season in my life. And I know every Spring my feelings are a bit raw this time of year.  Two weeks from Mothers Day means a loss of my mother. Since I know it’s coming up, I get myself mentally prepared for it. It’s usually a time when I will be around a lot of folks (weddings, graduations, etc.) so I know that I have to spend some time beforehand taking care of me. Journaling. Lunch with friends who have been down this road. Whatever it will take to make me be okay. That’s what you have to do. Take an emotional temperature of where you are with things. Marriage. Dating. Grief and loss. Children. Life. It happens. What should also happen is you making sure you’re okay. If that means therapy-go. If that means calling a mentor on one of your long commutes to work-call. If it means visiting a house of worship where nobody knows your name-visit. If it means praying without ceasing-pray. If it means camping with some friends-do it. Go. Do. Be. Take care of yourself. 

Take A Physical Inventory                       

That darn right ankle of mine really set me back some with my working out. But I had to reflect on how much of it was my ankle and how much of it was me just not making the time to workout. Yeah, work had exponentially picked up but I’m sure if I dug through all the hours I found to binge on some random TV series, I would certainly find the time to make it to the 24 hour gym that was five minutes away from my house. Guilty.  I read somewhere that physical beauty is a given in youth but not in the aging. It takes work to keep some thangs wrapped up tighter in your 40s! And I’m not talking about buying one of those body armor things that leave you breathless and about to faint either. Werk! If you can take the time to slay your face, your hair, your nails. Take the time to slay the very thing that houses it all. 

Take A Soul Inventory                                

French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin surmised it best, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” I believe my soul is eternal and that what happens here is just the beginning of my eternal existence. I believe God’s plan for my life didn’t start on the day I was born but well before the two human beings who procreated me even had a clue. I believe that my actions on earth have a ripple effect for eternity. So in that belief I’m ever humbled by the sacrifice made by Christ on my behalf. He died so that I may live. Live eternally with Him that is. It makes me take stock of my life not in the way of checking to see how much money is in the bank or how many likes I get on an Instagram post. But rather what kind of impact is going to earn me the “Well done, good and faithful servant.” When I get frustrated with humanity, I have to believe I MUST believe there is more to life than this. 

As much as I want to grab huge garbage bags and just dump everything in there and haul it out my house and start fresh, even I know that won’t solve the issue of clutter and disorganization.  It’s not the stuff that’s the issue, it’s the whys and the hows behind the stuff that I need to sit and deliberate over.  Just like our lives. It’s the sitting with it, the embracing it, the digging deeper that will yield a “spring cleaned” mind, body and soul. 

Life Coach, Random Thoughts

Sistah Take A Seat: When You’re Not Being  “Present”

Gabby Douglas has been on my heart something serious this Olympic season. I know she’s all the way in Rio and I’m nothing but a mere observer–but her spirit speaks to me like it would if she was my girlfriend two miles away, a church member in my congregation–like she was even me. I watched her four years ago shine and sparkle and give us all that #blackgirlmagic we so craved. Sprinkle. Sprinkle.  I watched the media and Black women at large try to dissect every strand of her course hair. White folks could care less about our hair as much as we care about our own hair. Gabby fought back and brought home the golds. 

This time around, Gabby stepped onto the stage and her shine and sparkle, well, her #blackgirlmajic, hmmm…something ain’t right. Minimal eye contact. Detached. Performance for the cameras and back to “normal”. Apathetic. Flat affect. Smiles that don’t reach the eyes. Mood incongruent with the setting. That fake smile. Simply put, this girl is not happy. Why? I don’t know. I can’t begin to know why this beautiful young trailblazer has missed a step. That she simply is not present.  By present I mean not being in the moment. Not connecting with others. Not being your true self and relating to the experiences about you. 

But I feel Gabby. How many times have I checked out when I couldn’t deal with the emotional threats made against me (real or perceived)? How many times have I withdrawn to that quiet space in my head and just mentally floated away? How many times have I taken off my glasses and allowed the blurry world to just be that–blurry? 

Gabby is one among millions of women who may find it hard to cope with life’s challenges in one form or another.  It’s not the challenges I’m concerned about yet rather how we cope that separates the wheat from the chaff. I spent half my lifetime trying to pretend that I liked everyone I met. I pretended that people excited me when in reality they drained me. I pretended that I was happy with my body when I really was not. I pretended I wanted to be “cool” and relatable when in reality I wanted to be in my nerd space with the do not disturb sign on the door. To me there was something wrong with being smart, organized, opinionated and introverted. After all, “everyone else” was wearing the long weaves, the high heels, and the big purses. That being in roles of wife/pastor wife, daughter, sibling, friend meant I had to kill my true self to become someone else. The pressure. Oh the pressure of living a lie. 

Today, I still carry all those roles and then some. But it’s how I cope that has made me more spiritually and emotionally centered. My faith in Christ keeps me grounded. No, I’m not in seminary school reading the Bible cover to cover for the 100th time, but I’m connected to Him. 

Do people still drain me? Yep. I just know how to better manage my responses and time spent with others and make time to be alone. Balance. Do I still find it hard to manage my hips and thighs? Yep. Fitbit helps. Wearing clothes that flatter me helps too. Acceptance. Am I still a nerd? Yep. Til the day I die! Truth
Gabby is young. I pray it doesn’t take half her life time to strengthen her village, acknowledge who she is at the core, forgive herself and others and use this test to be her testimony. I want her to hurry up and feel better, do better, be better! But as with everything, I know it’s going to be more hard hills to climb before the road smooths itself out. Being present is no small feat. Come through Gabby. Come through.