Sunday, January 29, 2017

Mourning

My friend Courtney was
here for forty years
knew husband love for three months
knew mama love for one week

Love is everlasting
no matter its length
whether a lifetime
or a blink

***

Two weeks after
 I was born
my mother died
A blood clot took her
after they cut me out

When people look at me
Their eyes are warm
but tinged with sadness
because they knew my mother --
but I will never know her.

***

Flashback to August 2016 -- she sent me this picture:



And this was my reaction (which I sent to her):



I was so so so happy!

True story. My friend Courtney Salters Henderson lived from September 28, 1976 to January 26, 2017. Her son, Micah Warren Henderson, was born on January 12, 2017. Dingui and I went to see her and Ronnie (her husband) the next day.

When I was in the hospital room with Courtney and Ronnie, I saw such PEACE and contentment on their faces. Especially Courtney's. She wanted so much to be a wife (October 8, 2016 wedding celebration!) and mother. She got what she wanted, but then she died.

I found out via text from a mutual friend about her being admitted to the hospital with a blood clot. I wasn't afraid. She'll be going home very soon to be with Ronnie and Micah, I believed. I was so absolutely sure she would go home.

One week later, the same friend sent me the text that she died.

It took me about two minutes before the message made sense. I have NEVER BEEN CLOSE to anyone who has died, let alone died unexpectedly! I can understand after an illness or advanced age, but when I had just been with her two weeks ago? She was sitting up, talking, breathing, healthy, happy, alive?

My heart aches and I have no words.

I miss my friend.









Thursday, July 14, 2016

It's coming....

It's been ages since I last wrote! I stopped for awhile and I am not even sure why.

However, I have good news! I am self-publishing a book of poems through Amazon Create Space! It makes it very easy...

This project has been six years in the making.

I reviewed my first proof, made changes, and now I will order a second proof. I've seen a digital version of the second proof but I want to see it in print before I make it available for sale! I will have an ebook edition as well. There are some things I can't control with the ebook format, but overall it is pretty good. The ebook is ready. But I want the print and ebook available at the same time.

I am going to keep writing. I'm going to keep submitting my poems for publishing to different sites. Sylvia Plath was rejected almost 50 times before she was published! I've only sent things to be published a few times, and then I was only half-heartedly searching for outlets.

To be a published author will be a huge achievement for me. It takes time, but I want it to be my best work.

More to come!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Same Sex Rights

Eastwood Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is the first open and affirming church I have ever been in. I used to think such churches were a problem. After all, the Bible condemns homosexuality, right? You can't be a Christian and be gay.... You shall not lie with a man as with a woman it is an abomination the gays will not inherit the earth they are sinning and debased and we need to pray pray pray that gay demon out that tempts and confuses and turns them over to their debased desires........

I was very much against same sex marriage.
I was very much against gay people being gay and open about their sexuality.
Because homosexuality is not only aberrant, it is also a sin.
I have heterosexual privilege.

...

I was very ignorant about gay people. 
I had ZERO GAY FRIENDS and only "one" gay cousin.

When I was a teacher, some of my students were gay. Sometimes they tried to figure out my stance on homosexuality, but I was neutral. As a public school teacher, it is best to be neutral.

At church, before Eastwood, I would snigger alongside others and whisper - ohhhh he's gay! or OMG she is so masculine so she is a lesbian...hee hee they are really big sinners he needs to man up and STOP BEING GAY and she needs to submit to a man as a wife and stop wearing the pants...

...

Yeah.

...

When I reflect on my old way of thinking, my heart aches and I am ashamed. At Eastwood there are many, MANY types of people. There are also gay people.

When I first heard people talk about their same sex spouse so openly at church, my heart did a little jerk. I thought HUH? Did she just say she is a LESBIAN AND a minister? Is she getting up to speak from the pulpit as she introduced her same sex partner?! Is that gay couple REALLY adopting a baby and dedicating him? Are they really sitting side by side as husband and husband?

Oh that's wrong, I thought. You cannot be a minister if you are gay. You should not be a parent if you are gay. If a child has two dads, what of Mother's Day? If a child has two moms, what of Father's Day? Why would some choose to be gay? It's neither God's design nor natural. These people are not going to heaven until they repent.

...

Last Sunday, Chanhee spoke about how we should listen to others' truths, even if it makes us uncomfortable.

As a black American, I want people to listen to me when I talk about race in America. I want people to hear Black Lives Matter and understand that our world should be anti-racism and pro-reconciliation.

...

Since being at Eastwood, I have had the chance to meet with and talk to and learn from and get to know and love gay people! I have met gay people who have been married for like over 20 years. I have met gay people who are single. I have met gay people who share the kind of love and comfort with their spouse that I want with mine. I have met gay people that are normal and NOT the sassy wild partier flamboyant or mean-looking man-hating unfashionable stereotypes the media shows.

...

I understand that gay people have been silenced. 

Their truths are important to hear. 

When people are so quick to quote scripture and say homosexuality is a sin, I ask them: do you know anyone who is gay? Do you have any gay friends?

Listen. Observe. Talk. 

That's what I've done. And now my attitude has changed.

...

If God says that homosexuality is damnable and negates Christianity, then so be it. I don't care if I burn in hell for going to the "wrong" type of church and loving the "wrong" type of people or having the "wrong" theology.

But I refuse to live in a society where people's stories and voices are silenced and dismissed, regardless of their sexuality.

At Eastwood, our focus for the year is anti-racism, pro-reconciliation. My church practices what it preaches and has taught me to do the same. 


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

On insecurities

http://youtu.be/ZHrV51GOPkE

The above link is one to Mystikal's music video featuring ... Nivea? The song is "Danger."

I remember watching this video in high school. Maybe 1999 or 2000? I can't remember when it came out. But I do remember how it made me feel. 

It definitely made me feel NOT attractive. I was not like those women and never would be. My hair was not long and straight and I definitely did not have breasts like that. 

Even some 15 years later, I am still effected negatively by that! 

As a teen, maybe 14, I remembered seeing the star pasties chick and thinking WOW SHE HAS BREASTS and I do not!

And even now I remember that star pasties chick and I think the same thing!

What does it matter that she has breasts like that? Why does a tiny part of me still feel inadequate because I don't have breasts like that?

I see a billboard for Marvel Cosmetic Surgery here in Nashville: breast augmentation starting at only $3500. 

I want to change my breasts, but it is better that I don't. I want to love me for me and ignore negative images. I don't want to indulge in negative self-talk. I have come too far for that. 

Still, I refuse to pretend like the negative thoughts are not there. 


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

On Feelings

This makes me feel bad. 
I do not like how I feel when I am here. 
I feel crushed and defeated. 
I do not like the way this makes me feel. 

I used to believe that feelings were evil and could not be trusted. 

I used to believe that you need to trust "God" blindly even when your feelings were telling you something else. 

Don't fall in "love" or into sex! I was taught. Those "feelings" are evil ....

...

To give a concrete example:

I used to be a school teacher. I taught at a public high school in Nashville. I taught reading to freshmen. 

I thought I would LOVE being a teacher since I loved being a student and a tutor. I love to build relationships, too. 

When I was in the classroom for those two and a half years, I hated it. I didn't know what I was doing. I was in an environment where I was constantly sinking. 

Toward the end, I cried every day. I was sick. I was depressed. I felt crushed and defeated. 

I am not a good teacher. 
I spent thousands of dollars for a Masters Degree and to move to this city. 
I am not a good person. 
Something is wrong with me because I am not able to do this job even though I have been trained to do it and others are doing "just fine."

These bad thoughts, among many others, raced through my mind when I was a teacher. 

One side of me thought: oh! These feelings I have are making me uncomfortable. They are "not of God" since they are hurtful. God "called" me to be a teacher. Everyone says so. So I must do it even though I cry every single moment and I hate this environment. 

...

No. 

Not anymore!

FEELINGS ARE A FLAG THAT SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE!

Because I was miserable as a teacher, I chose to resign at the END of the year...even though I wanted to bail about 4 weeks into the start of the school year. 

My choice to resign has led me to my CURRENT JOB which I absolutely love!!!

I would work my job for free if I didn't have bills. 

Not many people can say that. 

I will use my feelings to help me make decisions. 
I will claim my feelings and take responsibility for the actions that result from them. 
I will accept that I can think and feel at the same time. 
I believe there are no "bad feelings" and there is an important purpose for each of them. 

Those are excerpts from Breaking Free of the Codependency Trap by Weinhold and Weinhold. 


Monday, November 30, 2015

PMS

I love being a woman. I really do. But, I do not like having PMS. That is what is wrong with me today.

I wanted to stay at home because it is cold and gray. I was feeling a bit stressed since I am scheduled to work at Macy's this evening and I have a lot of balls in the air.

I have been ridiculously drowsy too, despite sleeping easily and soundly through the night.

I was late to work and irritated because of it. I didn't even get in my office before people wanted to talk to me.

It is PMS. I feel irritated and pissed off just because people exist. I do not want to talk to anyone.

My cycle will start next week: I am on birth control now, even though my cycle is like clockwork without birth control.

...

There were a zillion nattering people in the break room. Thankfully, they went back to work.

There are two microwaves in the break room. I used one of them and stood by it.
A woman: (gesturing to another microwave) Are you using both microwaves?
Me: I'm using this one. 
Her: Is someone using this one?
Me: I don't know. You can open it and see.

My face and voice is flat and I am feeling neither friendly nor social.

...

I think about my boyfriend. Would he like me this way? Probably not. I don't like me this way! But it isn't forever....in a few days I will be back to normal. I will definitely keep taking birth control. I absolutely do NOT want to be pregnant right now. No way!!!

I ate my lunch and I have more snacks. I am currently eating a peppermint stick which is relaxing me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Delighted

Lately, I have been DELIGHTED. That adjective is not one I would usually use in the winter ... I remember being so thoroughly depressed and miserable and unhappy before. But now, I am not.

Why?

I think it's a combination of things -- new choices, new relationship, new things, and medication. I am afraid to come off my antidepressant right now because I don't want to have another meltdown like I did in the spring. But at the same time, I don't want to be on medication forever.

I no longer feel like a "bad Christian." I used to feel like a bad Christian because I had major doubts about what my old church was teaching -- and I felt like I was constantly at odds "with the devil." Now, I don't think about the devil like that anymore. I'm not always worried about him or sinning. Instead, I'm able to rest in God's love for me and enjoying my life -- doing things that I want to do and no longer letting fear and anxiety hold me back.

I still feel anxious and afraid -- most of the time, needlessly so -- but the emotion is still there. The difference between now and before is that now I don't let it control me. I don't pretend like it's not there...I acknowledge it...but I still go ahead and press through the fear. I breathe through anxiety.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Choices

Today, a patron shared with me that he has made some regrettable choices. These choices have led to some difficult consequences AND baggage.

I provided a listening ear without judgment.

I believe the difference between happy, successful people and unhappy, unsuccessful people is their attitude toward their situations. Everyone makes mistakes and has regrettable choices, but I think happy people acknowledge those choices and move on from them.

For years I felt bad for not being a virgin. My old church taught that you HAVE to be a virgin for your husband, and if you "fornicate" then you are a very bad sinner who is going to HELL.

I thought no man would ever love me or want to be with me as a wife because I wasn't a virgin. And to make matters worse, I chose to have sex with someone who ultimately cared very little for me. So that didn't help. And it was painful...emotionally painful, but physically uncomfortable. Oh yeah -- and then the whole hell bit...I was freaked out about that.

Anyway, for so many years, I cried and cried and lamented.  I played that movie over and over again in my head -- replaying the rejection and thinking about hell.

I could just keep doing that. I could just keep feeling like a used-up slut and never date again. I could resign myself to hell since I am not a virgin.

...

I have had a major life change as of late. The biggest one is leaving my old church. I am in a welcoming, open, and affirming church full of thinkers. I am in a church where it is okay to think differently and everyone is encouraged to form their OWN opinion.

No one talks about how anyone is going to hell if they have sex outside of marriage. No one talks about how wrong everyone who is not-a-Christian-like-"we"- are is.

With my new outlook on life, I acknowledge my past and the mistakes and the things I did yesterday (I'm not going to deny them or pretend they never happened).

I'm not "stuck" there. I don't let what I've done and the choices I've made inhibit me from living a full, rich, and happy life.

Yes, I am an unmarried, child-free, non-virgin who doesn't believe she is going to hell (despite what other "Christians" may purport to believe). I have found a faith that works for ME and my life is so much better.

Happy, successful people like me don't let their circumstances define them. I understand where I want to be and what I want from my life:

I want to buy a house - so I will.
I wanted to NOT be a school teacher anymore - so I'm not.
I wanted to change churches - so I did.
I wanted to sing with my church choir - so I do.
I wanted to learn  to play the guitar - so I am taking lessons.
I want to get a part-time job - so I applied (and got hired!) to work at Macy's seasonally!

...

First I decide what I want to do. Then I make a plan to DO it.

It's nothing special or "secret" to my recently-discovered/newly-found happiness.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Breathe through Anxiety

This morning, I did something new. Whenever I do new things, I ALWAYS get anxiety. I went to the gym BEFORE work.


I don't have to be at work until 9:30 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays -- I also drive my car so I don't have to worry about leaving early to catch the bus. I used to sleep in/stay at home on those late-start days. Since my evenings are full of activity (woot!) I miss getting my workout in!


I was up this morning by 6 AM. I left for the gym about 20 minutes later. I felt anxious on my way to the gym -- needlessly so! I have no "reason" to feel anxiety. I have been to the gym before. I have a membership there. I know how to get there.


I chose to breathe through my anxiety. I reminded myself that nothing bad was going to happen, and if it did happen -- if I threw up or crashed or ran out of gas -- I would take care of it. Nothing bad happened. The gym this morning was quite uneventful. ... I did see some hotties, but no hotties talked to me.


I'm proud of myself for getting up early and going to the gym. I feel energized and my body is happy.


...


I'm reading about Ayurveda and how it can cure depression. I think a lot of its principles I already do: meditation (just started that with this Breathe app), eating right (vegetarian and I am cutting BACK on sugar), exercise... but exercise NOT TO GET exhausted and sore and worn out, but exercise to work my body and strengthen it and get it to maintain a shape that I want.


I never got into those people who exercise and push themselves really, REALLY hard and get super sweaty and sore. I don't like that kind of exercise. I want to be worked, but I don't want to be winded. I don't hit the treadmill trying to sprint or even run! But I am in shape. I stretch and have gained so much more flexibility that I've ever had before. I keep my core tight and I honestly love the way that my body looks.


...


I've decided to take a "break" from social media for awhile. I spend so much time checking Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I fill up any idle time with those sites. Nothing is wrong with those sites, but I don't want to keep getting lost in them.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Delightful Things


At the Southern Festival of Books, I bought a little blank notebook. On its pages, I have decided to record Delightful Things. 

This time of year is very hard for me with Seasonal Affective Disorder. I am aware of when I start slipping into depression and I have some strategies to keep me OUT of depression and prevent another meltdown. 

I still take my medication, but I hope to one day be off it permanently. I am reading a book about "Ayurveda" and how its principles can combat depression. 

I agree with Ayurveda that "happiness and vitality" are our birth rights as human beings. And I want to always be happy and full of life, not just when it is summer. 

...

I was analyzing my depression and I think it started around the eighth grade. I had my period like everyone else (finally!) but I didn't have a boyfriend or big breasts and I wasn't kissing anyone even though I wanted to...and then I also felt "bad" for wanting to kiss and have a boyfriend. 

Comparing myself to others and labeling myself as an aberration because I am not in line with others is the root/origin of my depression. 

I've learned now that it is best to do things because you want to do them, not because "everyone else" is. 

What is best for me now? Well, continuing to meet new people and try new things: tomorrow evening I am going to paint some pottery (never done that before!), guitar lessons Tuesday, choir practice Wednesday, small group (aka Theology on Tap) Thursday, and a LIKELY FIRST DATE Friday!

My life used to not be so exciting because I was afraid. 

Sometimes I am still afraid, but I don't let fear trap me in the familiar.