Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Am a Masterpiece. I'm Just Still a Work in Progress.

I received an e-mail asking if I would write more about my problem with self injury and my eating disorder. I was also asked about if I remember what started it and if I look back is there something I could have done to stop it or if I can use that information to help me stop now.

Well, here's my take on it...

My self injury started around fifth or six grade. One of my brothers had a soldering iron and I had had a horrific day. I remember thinking I somehow deserved the bad day and the idea of the iron popped into my mind. I, one way or another came to the conclusion that I had to use the soldering iron on myself. I guess as some type of penance. I recall being of a younger age breaking my own toys because I didn't deserve them or making myself sit in my closet (I was afraid of the dark) for reasons I no longer recollect. I just remember feeling that I deserved the punishment. I guess I'm not sure when the “I'm a horrible person and need to punish myself” feeling started. I've always been very sensitive and causing disappointment or anger to anyone was more painful than any spanking I received. Emotions hurt me deeper than anything and I found the best way to cope with emotions was by injuring myself. Physical pain was something I learned early how to cope with. It was easy to switch my brain to focus on the physical stuff. That horrible day after school I burned marks on my abdomen and went to my room to sit with the physical pain. Giving my brain a break from the tsunami of emotions crashing in my skull.

I'm not certain I would have (because communication in my household was not something that happened) talked to my mom about what I was feeling and there was no way on God's green earth I was taking this information to my father (our relationship was a complicated one) It's never easy being the weird kid but being the weird kid and the fat kid (check it out! I was an overachiever) made things more difficult.

As far as the eating disorder, that started around 7th grade. I remember shoving my fingers down my throat after lunch. I had already convinced myself that I didn't deserve lunch. Why? Not sure, had something to do with not having many friends like my brothers. Someone sat at my lonely little table. I was busy sketching in a notebook. They said “Hi” offered me a french fry. I accepted then felt enormous pangs of guilt after I started chewing. I excused myself to the restroom and the rest is history. The purging started because I failed at my limitations. It was meant to undo something I didn't deserve. The eating disorder seemed to become a part of the self injury and they would ebb and flow and sometimes replace the other as a coping mechanism.

I don't see myself doing anything to change that behavior that happened because it has already happened and not having a time machine makes that even harder. I just have to keep working on me. I'm always a work in progress so don't expect perfection. That stuff doesn't exist.

Which reminds me, as we embark on a new year we expect the invasion of new gym memberships, diets, and a plethora of other promises that will soon be broken and abandoned. The habits that we promised to leave behind were indeed released but left nearby. These things are easily picked back up (we as humans are creatures of habits) We dance around the fact that the habit has been released letting our brains fill with magical sugar plum fairies. We look but don't touch. We become those people we use to roll our eyes about. We have well planned schedules, meals, even family time is outlined in details. We have control of our lives, finally! Then February rolls around and we hit the snooze button too many times and have to skip devotions, exercise, time with our creator, etc. It's easy to fall back into the soft cushy arms of laziness. It beckons us to rest. We've done so well all last month. We deserve a break. So we do. We gather up our former patterns. We only released them after all. They are still there. Releasing is not enough. That's right. I said it! You can release anything. It may fall behind the bed or land in a corner with the dust bunnies. We tempt ourselves with this now forbidden fruit the very thought of it causes a craving, your mouth waters, you try to resist, and before you know it that decadent habit that doesn't serve us is back. Chill! You're human. Get back on track to being a better you. We all trip and fall.

The greatest glory in living
lies not in never falling,
but in rising every time we fall.” 
― Nelson Mandela

So this new year, arise!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Sweet in the Sour

This holiday season is known for spending time with family. Those moments can be joyful, dreadful or a nauseatingly sickly combination of both. For every high there is a low and with sweet comes the sour. There is an opportunity in most situations to turn the setting on its ear and find the joy in the sorrow. Hold on! Don't worry, I haven't turned into some glassy eyed Pollyanna. I'm about to get honest. I have found myself in plenty of situations where I've sat marinading in the sour. I'm human and prone to have occasions where I pout, or sit with arms folded the inside corners of my eyebrows wrinkling downward at the thought of not getting my way (and that's just yesterday). But today I'm going to share something that happened over 10 years ago.

I once worked in an office that was in the refrigerator section of a warehouse that supplied grocery stores. I worked the late evening shift and I was the only female there in the evenings. The men who worked in the warehouse pulling orders off of pallets and stacking them in big trucks for shipping would come in to get their orders from me. It was a very eclectic group of men but like most environments they would break off into groups like high school cliques and have some varied reason to argue, spew profanity, or hate each other for varied reasons. One evening it became particularly toxic. Racial were slurs flying through the air like shrapnel. This particular evening was the war between the American's and the South Americans. Visual daggers, obscene finger language, and verbal assaults were growing and I honestly thought at one point there would be actual physical altercations. On my dinner break I left the warehouse to get out of that noxious cloud of negativity. Driving around trying to clear my head was futile and the days events flooded my mind. “Okay God, what do I do?” I said as I made my way into a grocery store parking lot. At that moment I remembered something my Grammy said to me regarding an incident with family over Thanksgiving. “When things get tense, and people start to act ugly, bring out dessert. It's hard to argue with sweet deliciousness in your mouth.” I smiled then sighed realizing I hadn't the time or a kitchen to make dessert and I was certainly unprepared to spend a wad of (non-existing) cash. I dug around in the bottom of my purse looking for any change then proceeded to dig in my pockets. A crumpled up five dollar bill and some change was all I had and I seriously doubted that was enough to feed the masses. I found myself wandering around in the 24 hour grocery for several minutes when I saw a basket with discounted items. As I rummaged through at the very bottom was a bag of miniature lollipops. I pulled out the bag realizing it was residual Halloween candy. The bag was pretty big so even if it was fifty percent off I may not have enough funds. I took the bag to the register for a price check and was pleasantly surprised that I had exactly enough. Divine order. :-) 

When I arrived back at the warehouse things were not any better so I made my way back to the office with a plan. As I handed someone an order I also handed them a lollipop. Before long the whole place was quiet and I walked out into the warehouse smiling as the men were driving their pallets around loading and unloading items with little white sticks protruding from their lips. Little pacifiers of sweetness to plug up the raging sour.

So this holiday season when your Aunt so-and-so gets a little sour. Cut her the biggest slice of cake and relish in the sweet quiet. (Unless of course she's diabetic, then there would be that awkward moment when she realizes you're trying to kill her) That's not exactly what I had in mind. ;-)

Recognize the sour and replace it with the sweet. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Guilt Trip

Have you ever been on a journey or an excursion that is always available? I'm talking plenty of seats, no blackout dates, no deadlines, or cancellations. This is an odyssey I tend to take on day by day and it is known as The Guilt Trip.

Okay, my big flashing neon sign is guilt. I think I came here with it. When I say that, I mean that one of my earliest memories is of a feeling that I didn't like. It made my head swim with a particular scenario, made my belly queasy, and I remember not knowing how to make it stop. According to my mother I was two years old and waiting for her to make lunch but the doorbell rang and she went to answer the door. I being young, hungry, and resourceful ascertained that I could make my own lunch. I climbed onto the table and proceeded to take a bite out of each piece of cheese before deciding to eat one piece completely. I apparently pulled the bread onto the floor and took a bite out of a couple of pieces. After having my fill, I found my water cup and was sitting nicely back in my chair awaiting my mothers return. When she saw what had happened an “Oh no! What have you done?” escaped her lips followed by a look of disappointment and a sigh. The look on my mother's face gave me a funny feeling that I didn't quite understand. Later, my vocabulary and comprehension expanded to a realization of the word guilt.  According to my grandmother, I was always a sensitive little soul. My mood fluctuating with my environment. I was also a sympathy crier as a baby. Guess I was like a little emotional sponge absorbing the pains of others and I felt liable if I couldn't quell it. Thus began the start of a troublesome journey for me.

 I was extremely gifted in conjuring up guilt. Many times not long after waking. It became my morning breakfast routine. Heaping mouthfuls of dry, gritty, and bitter lumps of guilt weighed like a stone in my gut. I carried this around pretty much all day feasting on a similar lunch and dinner all in reference to the days happenings. Now as I look back I find myself grimacing at the fact that much of my childhood I spent with this feeling about my person. Why? Still working on figuring that out but I find myself in similar situations where I play a sequence of events over in my head until they morph into this monster and I berate myself for letting it happen then it settles as guilt and I walk around feeling this shame and a hollowed out kind of heart. Truth is, I know now that these types of things feed my depression and self hatred. My goal is to try and stop myself before it swells to massive proportions.

Well, there it is. Anger at myself. I can dissect it more if need be but for now lets stop here. I have been told that my tendency toward self injury is anger towards myself. At first, I laughed. Not me. I don't do anger. “Then what are those words you burned on your forearm?” asked a nurse at the hospital. “'I hate you' is not something somebody says to someone who they are happy with” The blistered letters were dark and puffy and starting to scab over in certain places. “You burned 'I hate me' on your arm. That says to me I'm angry.” I scoffed and rolled my eyes. But that conversation played over in my head like a song on repeat. Truth is, I had a lot of resentment as well but felt guilty for that and in the process my brain figured out how to turn it around on itself and make me angry at me. Me...Me, I can control. Me, I can fix. Me, I can change to help others. Right?

Yep. Been there. Done that. Brought back souvenirs. The challenge here is to figure out how to keep from cashing in my frequent flier miles on this particular trip. I constantly book it when I know the outcome. I believe it also triggers my eating disorder. That chasm that must be filled, the aching emptiness, and the insatiable craving to feel comforted becomes a goal then feeling full of guilt, hopelessness, and food leads to the purging of those sins of indulgence that was so undeserved. This cycle repeats itself. Sometimes it's one after the other till I'm reduced to once again booking myself on the flight of disgrace to the land of guilt.

I thought about coming up with a mantra to say when I catch myself going there. My hope is to eventually no longer book these draining guilt trips but until then I will settle for canceling the reservation. I started laughing out loud when I visualized the strong me. For some reason I saw myself as Yosemite Sam. (Hear me out! I know it sounds ridiculous) In his bold southern voice I hear him say “I'm dismissin' your expedition!” That throws in a speed bump and halts my travel plans. I then try to redirect myself with a positive order of thought. “I breathe in all that makes me better and exhale that goodness back into the world” In time I hope to never wander back to that place of stigma. Don't forget to cancel your guilt trip and widen your horizons!


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

True Colors

True Colors

In America you are defined by many things but for me, one thing in particular has always been the subject of many insults, debates, fits of anger, and despair. That subject is my blackness. (or lack there of) So what is this talk of skin delegating whether my brown is too much or not enough? The majority of my friends being of the lighter persuasion (you know, Caucasian) and even though they are my friends still feeling the need to step lightly and not truly be myself for fear of my brown round peg self falling into the stereotypical round hole. Why? Because apparently there is supposed to be some truth in the labeling which is why it stings when you are categorized, broken down, and told to go to the back of the bus. 

What brings on this Moor monologue for the month of September? What snide ignorant remark or question broke this camel's back? An email. I received a very lengthy email from a former friend. Bear in mind this person had just started to come back into my good graces after apologizing for other offences and in an act of empathy I cracked a door that I should have left closed to her. I wont make that mistake again. I will still be civil but it will never ever be as it was before. 

I posted a picture on a social media site with the statement “Um...say what??? Color me flabbergasted! Only in Texas”.  The picture was of some dolls that were titled “Color Your African” and another that said “Color Your Mexican” A friend of mine (Caucasian) stated That's offensive. I wonder who thought that was a good idea? The former friend I mentioned earlier wanted to know why it was offensive. (I was at work and wasn't aware of the conversation until I came home that evening) and was pleased when I realized my friend who said it was offensive (I agreed) answered with The phrase "color your Mexican" sounds like ownership to me. It just doesn't set well that the dolls are named by race. I have no problem with ethnic dolls. I'm all for that. These just seem like they could have been more sensitive with the packaging and just not the best idea. Once again after reading her response I was in agreement and continued to read responses. She again was still not understanding the offence (even though I thought it was well stated) and again asked why it was offensive because the dolls were originally made in Hong Kong and they probably didn't know it would be offensive.  She then decided to do research on the dolls to argue the point that it wasn't offensive because she didn't think the company meant for it to be. (Whether something is meant to be offensive or not is not the point here. My point was I was offended) Meanwhile my personal inbox was flooded by those reading this social media onversation and asking why I was friends with this "person" (the words they used weren't as nice) So once again, in my absence my friend tried to explain by being a bit cheeky (she is after all my friend) So the shop owner that sells these in Texas was probably not from the USA. They probably can't see that this sounds offensive. They probably are not racist nor are they getting a little laugh out of it.That wasn't meant to sound sarcastic. I'm just trying to think the way you do. (I admit, I giggled) I understand what you are trying to say ------. However, the company that made these dolls Craftoy and their parent company both have websites that contain proper English. I found no obvious grammatical errors either. They apparently used someone from this country to create their websites. They could have done some research on our culture and values. Having said that, the bigger problem is that a store owner in this country has no problem selling this product even though it is offensive On one more note, I also wish this world we live in as a whole was more sensitive to others feelings. Even in our country as great as it is, there is room for growth and consideration of others thoughts and feelings. I am not one of the ethnicities that this product would offend and yet I find it offensive. If I can see the problem then it would stand to reason that others would as well. So well stated that I didn't think I needed to elaborate on what she said. I was wrong. Reading this
still bothered me. I felt unheard by the person who is now my former friend I finally got tired of dismissing it as just the way she is and letting it go. We had had many discussions involving offensive terms and she ousted them as silly because she didn't understand why. So I called her out. She was always bold in speech. Apparently explaining things to her as I have before was not effective. I would usually change the subject or give up because I was asked "Why?" more than a toddler who's overdosed on candy. I was bold and matter of fact and gave examples. (That's what she did in asking why) I showed my humaness (I know that's not a word) and told her about herself. Personally I felt deeply hurt that she worked so hard to reject my feeling of violation. I may not have handled it the best way but it needed to be said.

History and the Present
I recently explained to my niece that the way physician's clinics now have a sick waiting room and a well waiting room is how it used to be in the United States of America only one side of the waiting room labeled “White Only” and another “Colored” The only look on her face was that of confusion. “Isn't that illegal?” I answered with a “Now it is.” It was called separate but equal and in all reality there was nothing equal about it. As I share slices of history with her I want her to embrace and love her little brown female self. I want her to see her beauty when the media or some bitter soul tries to tell her that her black isn't beautiful, her body is wrong, or her hair is too much.

I usually try to keep this blog under a page but this subject needed to be vented for my own sake. So let's take a look at my melting pot American hide and see what my DNA has to say. My ancestors lived in North America (The Ojibwa Nation), Africa, India, and the island of Samoa. Look at all the minorities! (that's right, I said it!) Ding, ding, ding... it's a brown out!

Here are some of my thoughts and feelings on some things racial

On skin tone
“Black coffee no sugar, no cream” is not just part of a Hip-hop lyric. It is what a man in my neighborhood used to say when he was talking about his wife. It was not said as an insult but as endearing. He loved his dark chocolate, strong, black woman and gladly shared that information with whoever would listen.

The color fight in the USA is still a struggle not just down south either. The separation of slaves into "house slaves" and "field slaves" the lighter skinned slaves (either from not being outside in the sun all day or a product of the master's lust) made you "better", closer to being white, and afforded you privileges.

As a child around the age of 8 a woman at my church asked me what happened to me because I used to be such a pretty baby but now I'm too dark. Yep, An adult light-skinned African American woman said this to a child. I learned at the age of 8 that some people (in my own racial community) saw me as ugly because I was no longer as light or lighter than a brown paper bag. (Google The Brown Paper Bag Test for your own educational knowledge.) 

In middle school, I was infatuated with a dark skinned boy named Aaron. When I was brave enough to tell him I was rejected with "Sorry baby, I don't like any cream in my coffee" 
Wait... what? So, I'm too brown and yet not brown enough?
My infatuation in high school was a Caucasian guy named Jesse. "Sorry but if I date outside my race they are light-skinned girls". Seriously???
Apparently my love for all tones of America was rejected by a big brick wall of bigotry.

On the “N” word
I am a member of the African American community and I detest that word. It doesn't matter if it's said ending in an “er” or an “a” That word does not come from my lips. The original root word ("er") is a name given to a group of people as a means to inflict oppression and inferiority. It bothers me when it comes from the mouth of my own people but I feel angry when it comes out of the mouth of a person that is not of African decent. As my friend Shawn once stated “Yes, membership does have it's privileges”. If you don't get that, it's okay. Just know that the majority of African Americans find it offensive and you may face unknown consequences for using it. Moving on...

On hair
This one still baffles me. If you haven't heard the expression "good hair" I recommend Chris Rock's documentary with the same name for your educational purposes.
Apparently "good hair" in the African American community refers to straight, wavy, or loosely curled hair (Google "The Pencil Test Apartheid"). Ask any cancer patient, or person with Alopecia and their answer would be vastly different. Having your own hair regardless of it's texture would be good.

I used to heat straighten my hair it took over 4 hours (I have a lot of hair) I got over it and wear my corkscrews proudly. I have also tried relaxers not for me but nothing wrong with that if you choose. Madam C. J. Walker (born in 1867) was the first African american female millionaire. Can't be mad at that.

On Injustice
The drums of Africa still beat in my heart. They will not let me rest while there is a single Negro boy or girl without a chance to prove his worth.” 
― Mary McLeod Bethune

Do I believe racism in America still exists?  Yes and I will believe it  does until a brown child can safely walk down any street in America carrying only a snack of Skittles and an Arizona ice tea. I will believe it still exists when an unarmed brown man is shot to death after surrendering to police.

Do I believe in the use of Affirmative action? If I didn't receive long lengthy emails from people using it as an excuse for knowing what it's like to be racially discriminated against. (yes, former friend went there and I shut her down) If there wasn't a need for Affirmative action we would not be having these conversations. She just took my statement and manipulated it into being about her! 

Truth is, there is white privilege. Ignorance says it isn't so. Just because in high school you were blocked in the hallway by three black girls who wouldn't let you pass because you were white. It was during the time when segregation and "bussing" in schools was in the early stages. That doesn't mean you understand racial prejudice. I had the same thing happen to me. It was not because I was black but because it was high school and girls can be mean. I bet that experience was scary for you but try to imagine what black kids your age was going through. Try everyday being threatened, spit on, beaten, hanged, and shot for being black. 

As for me, I'm reminded almost everyday of the struggle still being real. Try everyday having  someone question your motives or try being watched closely while shopping for being brown. Try having all eyes looking at you when something goes missing because you are the only brown face present. 

I now step down from my soap box until another time.

Open your mind. learn about others, and grow.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

My Scarlet Letter

In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel (The Scarlet Letter) about a woman (Hester Prynne) in the 17th century forced to wear a scarlet “A” for her crime of adultery and sent to prison for not giving up the name of her lover (spoiler alert: it's the town minister) Truth is, the way people gossip and speak of the imperfect humans that we all tend to be. Before any holier than thou self righteous zealot pipes up let me remind you of Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There. That out of the way now I continue. The letter was pointless. She knew what she did. The town did too. Hello? Baby daughter born while husband was away for two years.

When thinking about this piece of literature I started to reflect on my life. (I'm doing a lot of that considering I'm about to complete my 40th rotation around the sun in a few days) I realize that I tend to persecute myself a lot. I force myself to don my red “A” for everything I feel ashamed for. My “A” one day for my bouts of anxiety that I just know everyone can see and it cripples me so badly that sometimes I have driven myself on Sundays all the way to church parked the car and have been unable to get out. Frozen with fear even though I know it's a loving community and a group that has always accepted me and shown me love. I fear to disappoint in some way and panic my way back to my house and hide beneath the covers to hide the self branded “A” blazing on my chest.

Some days I wear an “S” for stupidity because I don't feel smart enough so I keep quiet in hopes others wont realize my ineptitude in all things. Or the days I feel unattractive and stamp the big red “U” for ugly. There are days I can fight through it and parade myself around in my self prosecution as penance.
Truth is my history would sew such a letter on my person, not for adultery but for guilt. Before my father died I shared some information with my parents about my childhood. At the age of 4 or 5 I was taken into the woods near my house where I was beaten and raped. Just had to take a break from this blog posting to quell a panic attack. This is me naked. I promised not to leave a stone unturned in this venture of truth, self discovery, and becoming a better me. I knew this was going to be some heavy excrement when I sat down to do this today and I'm already shaking.

Like Hester I refused to name the boys involved because for the most part they were also still children and I still have a sense of pity for them. They know what they did and sad to say my dishonor happened quite frequently afterward with other neighborhood boys who received word and sans original beating I endured by staring into space and usually vomiting afterward. My self hate grew and thrived easily subsequently and it became it's own being melding itself into me. I still struggle. I purge trying to make myself empty. Another form of penance. I also have a history of self injury burning lines or words into my skin making my scarlet “A” more permanent. I will go for days without sleep. This usually, is followed by depression where all I do is sleep and refuse to execute any form of self care. Why am I writing about this? Because I need to tell my secret. It gives it less power. Maybe this encasing of darkness that coats me will start to melt away. I don't cry often. I'm quite numb sometimes but if I can learn that form of release maybe I can stop the ritualistic self harm I do. I'm not proud of it and I will probably hide out for a bit after posting this. I will return. But until then, rip off your own scarlet “A”. We are all human and beautifully imperfect. Self prosecution only stunts your growth and robs people of the gift you are.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Trouble with Angles

No. This is not a typo referencing the 1966 (by the way I wasn't born yet) Haley Mills comedy. Well, maybe the title is but that's not what this month's blog is about.

I remember as a child noticing how water warped my drinking straws. It's called refraction (Thanks, Kelly) I remember running to find other things to plunge into my drinking glass with a sadistic sort of glee rendering it undrinkable and extracting a strange glare from my mother when she saw what I was doing. “Kid Magic” is what I call prisms, shadows, fireflies, or anything that bewitches a child's mind into an enchanting world of wonder until the school system calls it Science and tells you that you will be tested and graded on it. Anyway, I noticed early on in life that your perception depends on your angle (and sadly sometimes your attitude) For example the angle at which you observe a perfectly round coaster on a table from directly above verses eye level with the table two totally different perspectives on the exact same object. If I can easily stand up and see a perfect 360 degree coaster and squat down to see it turn into an oval then I should be able to easily change my perspective on other things non physical. I find myself snorting and chuckling at that last sentence. That is definitely the trouble with angles. Motivating oneself to move or shift your aspect. One of the biggest challenges for me is my change in attitude. My history of EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified), SI (self injury), and depression does play a role in my demeanor of negativity (especially to myself). My goal next month is to try to redirect myself and change my view and once again find my “Kid Magic”

I reread my January blog entry about becoming a better me and to be honest, I have been slacking. To combat this backsliding I have given myself an assignment of doing something I enjoyed as a kid every day. Whether it's something simple like wearing miss matched socks, or just coloring a picture or something dramatic like wearing a fancy princess-like dress for no other reason than going to the grocery store. I will try to write in my journal about it every day or week and blog about it next month. I hope doing these little things will help me to change my outlook on things.

If there is one thing “Kid Magic” has taught me, it is that things are not always what they seem. Refract some items in your life and look at it anew. Some things aren't as stale and dull as you may have once thought. Take some time to see the many facets of life. The rainy day may bring dark clouds but the mud pies are fantastic! Take the time to shift, reflect, and grow.

Monday, June 30, 2014

This little thing called FEAR

When I was a little girl I used to have nightmares about hammocks. Stop laughing. It's called hammockaphobia, according to the internet (do what you will with that piece of info). I would have horrible night terrors about falling out of one and breaking my nose. Not the “Marsha Brady football to the nose” kind of problem but the several surgeries to once again appear normal kind of problem. I would have these horrible nocturnal hallucinations that would cause me to wake up sweating, heart racing, and even trembling at times. I did grow out of those types of dreams but the fear of hammocks still lingered. As a matter of fact I can't ever remember actually getting on one even as an adult.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that
something else is more important than fear.” 
― Ambrose Redmoon

Yep! My face may not be supermodel material but it's the only one I have and I'd like to keep it as healthy as I can. My nose being the prominent object on my face (sticks out farther than anything else) makes it more susceptible to accidental modification.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” 
― Nelson Mandela

Okay Nelson Mandela, I get what you're saying. I am committed to becoming a better person. That means conquering my fear of hammocks. Sounds a little silly which is why I never really shared that tidbit of information until recently. Truth is, I'm a bit embarrassed that this is a phobia of mine. That is why I decided I would challenge myself.

This past week I happened to be petsitting for two households, both of which had a hammock. One house had a thick ropey thing hanging sinisterly over a cement slab of a back porch. No way was that going to be my choice! The other a bit less apocalyptic with its carpet like rug underneath. I sat in a nice comfortable stationary chair wondering what on earth would possess anyone to choose resting in an unpredictable nomadic contraption.

Do one thing every day that scares you.” 
― Eleanor Roosevelt

As I mentally planned my descent into the cradle of condemnation, I also made sure I was prepared in case of emergency and had my phone tucked into my back pocket as well as the land line phone on the floor under the hammock in case I couldn't dig it out of my pocket or I land on it and break it. I started out small by touching it and giving it a little push. I stood watching it as it slowed. I turned around and grasped the side of the hammock with both hands and lowered myself into it. After the hyperventilating stopped, I leaned back and allowed myself to be cradled, my feet dangling off the side ready to grip the ground if needed. I did it Eleanor Roosevelt! I sat for a while contemplating the safest way to get out now that I had vanquished that little thing called fear. I then realized that I wasn't actually in the hammock correctly. I was sitting in it like a chair not lounging about like the confident hammock ace I had so recently become. I took a deep breath and grasped the side above my head with one hand and the other side by my legs with the other. One leg at a time I inched myself lengthwise on the hammock and exhaled. I did it!

Laughter is poison to fear.” 
― George R.R. MartinA Game of Thrones

I laughed! I laughed so hard I almost started crying. I like this thing called hammock! I was laughing so hard one of the dogs came up to me panting and pawing. I reached down to pet her and calm her and in the process my weight shifted and off I rolled into the floor. I froze like a statue from shock then the pain materialized and I exhaled a small cry. Penny, the dog was licking my arm and whining. After realizing I landed on my back and not my face I sat up and sighed. I may not wish to lay in a hammock any more but I certainly do not fear that cradle of pain any more. I suppose facing ones fear isn't always pretty or successful but it is empowering. What are you going to do to empower yourself?  

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Lesson in the Lunch

Okay so, I wanted to keep this month light.  I have received many e-mails asking to expand upon last month's blog entry and I have also been asked a lot of questions. I will expand and answer those questions at a later time. For those of you who are impatient my answers to your questions are: Yes, Only when tired, sometimes, no, not really but I might have to try it, and mostly on Sunday's. ;-)  Look for part 2 later this year.  I usually post TBT (Throwback Thursday) pics on my FB page and this Thursday I thought about trolling some of my earlier writings for a little gem to share with you.  I found one that I wrote in high school that is fictitious but based on something that really did happen. So for your entertainment I give you a short little essay called The Luncheon.


I sat in total confusion at the raised eyebrows.  Why were they all staring at me?  Was there food on my face?  Did I suddenly break out in hives? Was there some sort of disgusting substance hanging from my nostrils? Just as I was about to reach for my napkin I cold sickly feeling crept up my spine. My eyes widened like the china saucers before me as I realized my folly. I had just drank from the finger bowl! How could I have let this happen?  I spent many dreadful evenings with Auntie Amala setting the table, naming plates and utensils, learning how to fold a proper napkin, and the lady-like way to eat soup sans slurp and dribble--all in vain. I wished at that moment to slip into the cracks of the floor to explore the world there. I know it seems silly but I clicked my heels together in hopes my patent leather shoes would have the same gift that Dorothy had in Oz. No such luck.

Early that morning I was forced into the tub, scrubbed from head to toe, and to my dismay dried with a stiff white towel.  I was lotioned down and powdered while being quizzed on proper etiquette.  I had to sit quietly while listening to how Auntie Amala's friends will be so impressed at how she turned that rough, tomboy of a niece into the vision of daintiness that was emerging from her tutelage. 

Auntie Amala squealed with delight as she stood back to visually take me in. Now for your hair she said as she guided me to her vanity mirror. I stood in shock at my reflection. I looked ridiculous in that frilly pink dress and now she was going to top it off with some sort of manipulated configuration of hair that will make look even more absurd.  "You're going to look perfect!" she exclaimed unfurling a lacy pink hair ribbon. I closed my eyes not wanting to see the crime that was about to be committed with my curls. I slowly opened one eye to peek at the damage as Auntie clapped her hands together "Perfect!  Just wait till they see you!" I forced a smile on my face as I surveyed the perfectly primped poodle shaped mass on my head. 

Auntie Amala's sewing circle met three times a month and today was luncheon day. Every month some unlucky lass had the pleasure of being introduced to the wonderful world of social graces.  There was Bela and Esha the gossips, Hazel and Lila the cheek pinchers who caused me to believe my face was paralyzed when they were done with me, and Ann. I didn't know much about Ann. She never spoke. According to Bela and Esha, if she did speak I would have thought I was in an alcohol distillery. Just thinking about being paraded in front of those circling old hens made me cringe.

When time for the luncheon came everything when pretty well but before I could stop myself the finger bowl was in my hand and up to my mouth.  I properly dabbed the corners of my mouth with my napkin as we had rehearsed and placed it neatly back on my lap. I didn't realize my stupidity until I looked up and there in front of me was a brood of old hens with raised eyebrows. I dropped my head to stare at the floor. I didn't speak. I just sat. I hated Auntie Amala for making me do this but I was also ashamed for disappointing her.  

"You can't turn a rag doll into one of fine porcelain! Do you realize I had to make her another dress after I caught her in a tree?  It was ripped and torn all over!" I listened by the vent as Aunt Amala verbalized her frustration. I really was a rag doll. What could she expect from a girl with five brothers and a neighborhood full of boys? I could out run, out spit, and out climb half of them.  Why wasn't that impressive? 

That night as I readied myself for bed I couldn't shake the look of discouragement I saw on Auntie Amala's face. I pondered the situation till bedtime until an idea surfaced. I prayed that this would break the uncomfortable air between us. We moved awkwardly around each other that evening and the lump in my throat caused a gagging reflex several times at dinner. This couldn't go on. I was visiting for a month. I gently knocked on Auntie Amala's bedroom door and entered with a tea service cart. When she looked up I smiled and pulled a finger bowl from underneath the service. 

"One lump or two?" I asked pouring tea into the finger bowl. She chuckled as she shook her head and accepted my offering. 

Sometimes in embarrassing situations you just have to laugh at yourself.  What was your proverbial finger bowl?  Did you take yourself too seriously?  Don't bother. Laugh on.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

This Hunger Game Is Not a Work of Fiction

I mentioned in my first blog about some of the things I live and struggle with, and on any given day I may be waltzing around with more than one issue. Sadly for me there is one that has haunted me for what seems like an eternity, my struggle with EDNOS (Eating disorder not otherwise specified). I know that I'm not alone in this struggle of self hate and punishment but mine is not as simple as trying to be one stomach flu away from a size 0. It was never like that for me. I was never trying to look like a model. I was always feeling guilty about something and like many young girls and women I began to use food as a voice. (the absence of it and the over abundance kept me in a hellish love/hate triangle)

My bulimia started as a way to (pardon my pun) purge away the guilt. I remember as early as 6 feeling guilty for enjoying things. I would break my own toys and I remember punishing myself by sitting inside my bedroom closet terrified of the darkness inside but somehow feeling it was what I deserved. The actual purging didn't start till I was 13. I also had a brief relationship with pica as well. The pica was the ultimate in punishment for me. I felt like such a horrible human being and that I didn't deserve food. I allowed myself little bits of paper and in some cases little pieces of chalk. These things didn't taste good or didn't qualify as food so it was guiltless. I would shake the toaster upside down because I didn't deserve a whole piece of bread or toast but I could have the crumbs nobody wanted. My college years I would troll the 24 hour grocery stores late at night for food porn. (A feast of the eyes only) I would roam down the aisles picking things up and putting them back while the most pitiful pear that had obviously been dropped and maybe even partially rotted sat like a baby in the front of my cart. It rode around sometimes rolling and falling over creating more skin blemishes than a puberty ridden middle schooler. By then maybe I could have it. No one in their right mind (I obviously wasn't) would want it so maybe I could convince myself that I could have it. The person working the register always gave me a strange look as I purchased my sub-par piece of fruit.

The problem for me in this is that I am overweight. The truth is, the majority of people with an eating disorder are overweight or of average weight. The sad part is because of that many don't get the help they need. I was one of those people. After confessing to a doctor about my purging and my binge/starve cycle he chuckled slightly and said I don't look like I have anything to worry about and will probably tire of this behavior eventually when I don't get the attention I'm expecting. At the time I was 15. I started purging about 5 times a day after that. After all, the doctor said I had nothing to worry about. (Ruptured esophagus = death, weakening of the heart which leads to heart attacks = death, kidney failure = death, stroke = possible death etc.) He wasn't the only one in the medical community who made me feel like an attention seeking brat. I realized very quickly that unless I was emaciated (which can be too late to receive help) I would never be taken seriously. I was actually fine with that-- well, the part of me that believed I was a horrible human being and didn't deserve anything. That part of me began to take over after I stopped trying to get help. It reminded me that I didn't deserve to stop. I began to believe it and I fell into a very dangerous cycle of self injury, binge/purge, and starve behaviors. I was almost high with the sadistic rituals I put myself through. Later as an adult things got out of hand again. A stressful moment can start the madness and I'm 70lbs down in two months, my hair is coming out in clumps, I have dizzy spells, anemia, and big dry patches all over my body. I was once told by a woman who I suppose was trying to help that I was going to hell for treating (my body) the temple of the Lord with such disregard. (She was referring to my constant purging and negative words I had singed into my skin) I looked at her and responded “This is hell!” I even had a minister try to give me diet advice that was safer than what I was doing. Um...really?? WTH??? Look I know sometimes people just don't know what to say and in those instances I wish they would just keep their pie hole shut! Everyday and every bite I take there is always that thought “you don't deserve it!” “Spit it out!” It's terribly exhausting to hate yourself so much but then again isn't that the point. To exhaust myself to the point where I can no longer be. Where I'm just a hollow shell curled into a cupboard trying not to take up room because there are other people, wonderful people that deserve to be. At my lowest I wrote this poem.


Erase me. I'm just a smudge.
This sketch would be much cleaner
If you'd cut me off or blot me out
Or whittle me much leaner.
Erase me. It's not a loss
My shadow soon unknown
Those that are left may walk in light
And not my hellmouth roam.

Erase me. I beg of you.
Don't make the torture longer.
White me out, scrape me off,
Just make sure I'm a goner.

Erase me. Don't recreate
For I'm not worth the space.
Don't watch me fade, evaporate,
Just let me be erased.

Erase me. I'm just a flaw.
Don't ruin your masterpiece.
Just peel me off, and carve me out
And make this being cease.

Erase me.

Now that I look back on this and sad to say many other poems and essays I wrote I can see how far I've come. Maybe not as far as I want (I tend to be impatient with myself) but the fact that I don't feel like this on a regular day to day basis is amazing. I was dying inside, hollowed out, and severely depressed. I may not always be rainbows and sunshine but I no longer wake up disappointed that I didn't die in my sleep. Truth is I don't go a day without condemning myself whenever anything crosses my lips (even raw vegetables) There is always that nagging feeling of not being deserving of that salad or piece of cheese. The sour bitter remembrance of bile on my tongue and how easy it would be to just rid my stomach of any culinary sin. I know that slippery slope all too well. Awakening the beast inside and knowing I won't be able to stop. It scares me. Today, I survived this hunger game. Every baby step is a victory. So no matter your gait, just keep moving forward.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Square Wheels on a Train

In reference to the stop motion animated movie Rudolph (the red nosed reindeer) & the Island of Misfit Toys; I always saw myself as the train with the square wheels. I believe if there was such an island I would be stuck on it. In the movie, Rudolph and his friends find themselves on the Island of Misfit Toys. Each toy on the island was a reject. I, like the train with square wheels, was all wrong. I grew up with two older brothers and a neighborhood full of boys that taught me how to belch the alphabet, climb a tree while holding a jar of bugs (don't ask why. I was a kid and have no idea of why that was a useful skill), how to catch fireflies, newts, salamanders, and caterpillars. I was also shown the correct way to spit long distances and make fart noises with my armpit. I joyfully did all of these things to the dismay of my mother who wanted a dainty little princess. I also received frowns of disapproval from my peers. “You chose to play the trumpet? But you're a girl”. I acquired objection for wanting to play peewee football with my brothers. “No. Girls don't play rough games like that. Here's a cheerleader uniform. That's what girls do”.

The whispers I remember overhearing throughout my childhood and adolescence started to make me very self-conscious. The way women would squint their eyes and tilt their heads to the side in order to take me in or figure me out. They'd suck their teeth telling my mother how round I was or odd I was. My hair was too big, and so was my body. My knees and legs were usually covered with dirt, bandages, or scratches. Their poison hiss in my mother's ear ”She was such a pretty baby. What happened?” “Better do something about it now before it's too late”. Me feeling overwhelmed by the feeling of bursting at the seams and leaking out contaminating all that was pure, beautiful, and girl-like. I was apparently too much. How could this be? All of this time I thought I wasn't enough. Not smart enough, not thin enough, not tall enough, not pretty enough, The list goes on but in reality I had this realization of my muchness. How can I be not enough and too much all at the same time? (Hmm...does that make me an overachiever?) I began to hide and shrink myself. My hair long and thick would be pulled in front of my face to protect others from this hideous creature who takes up too much space and is too much to have to deal with. Along the way I developed unhealthy coping systems that resulted in self injury and an eating disorder among other things. (that's another blog for another time)

The critical, cryptic language of girls and women began to constantly ring throughout my head and made me a bit neurotic. Have two X chromosomes? Then you know that conversation all too well. I feel ugly. I feel fat. These statements constantly roll around in your brain. If you are alone they pierce the silence with icy sharpness numbing any semblance of truth. If you are in a public place they buzz wildly over the din crushing any crumb of self worth into dust. If you are simply standing in front of a mirror applying makeup, brushing your hair, or any other grooming ritual they shoot daggers and shatter your already thinning confidence. Good heavens! What are we doing to ourselves?? The
truth is “ugly” and “fat” aren't feelings. We as women use these words incorrectly but why? It starts early, this veiled language of sabotage. I remember in 8th grade watching some of my classmates stand in the mirror in the girls restroom during a school dance. “Oh my lord, I feel so fat!” (I actually being a fat girl secretly rolled my eyes at the twig like being commiserating with her ilk). The other young females join in some anthropological tug of war on who feels fatter or uglier. The truth peeks out a bit later before they leave the loo. Apparently one girl is nervous because the boy she likes hasn't asked her to dance yet. Therefore she feels nervous (not fat) that the boy doesn't like her. Her friends in turn, instead of saying “Fat isn't a feeling. What's really bothering you?” (Like that would ever happen with a gaggle of pimple clad middle school girls). Instead they chide themselves with “I feel __insert incorrect negative word “ in a rite of adolescent communication. What's that smell? It's not teen spirit. It's the distinct smell of bullshit and it's sadly passed on from girl to girl and woman to woman. Let's take some inventory of our true feelings. Fat and ugly are not feelings. They are physical descriptions used in most situations as opinions (everybody has one). “I feel fat” and “I feel ugly” become a wet blanket statement for any unfavorable thoughts we have about ourselves. When I refer to these statements as wet blankets I see them as a cover to extinguish the flames of true emotion under the surface. As women we are mature enough to fully express ourselves. We need to teach and be an example to the next generation of girls that we can communicate our needs in order to have them met or to be understood. To help set this in motion I submit words that are real feelings. I've taken some of these words from the Feelings Inventory list by Center for Nonviolent Communication for full list please visit their website at Email: Phone: +1.505.244.4041.

Feelings when your needs are not satisfied:

Now to follow through with this example I will share a true feeling with you that I have been struggling with. I am nervous because I am job hunting and I need encouragement so I will stop throwing wet blanket statements at myself. My confidence is broken. *Deep breath*

It's almost Spring so open up those emotional closets and do some cleaning! Blessings!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The shift hit the fan.

I had planned for this year to be a blossoming time of wisdom. I hoped for a time where I would grow and gracefully unfurl a tender new leaf of growth, control, and maturity. I wanted to take each life lesson with a deep breath and release what stunts my growth, be in the moment to learn what I needed, and move along as the enlightened adult I am. But to be honest, January ended and February started with a bit of an emo vibe. Dealing with myself lately is kind of like dealing with a teenager. Do you smell that? That's me reeking of insecurity, angst and pimple cream. Why? Because not only am I dealing with this awkward faze of proverbial lanky limbs (verbally stumbling whenever I open my mouth) but apparently my skin has decided to join the blatant attack on my self esteem and grace me with acne. Hey life, while you're chucking those lemons can you at least help a sister out and toss in a few strawberries? Okay, so I'm whining a little. I was all set to post this wonderful blog entry on loss that I felt was touching and helpful. I had completed it early accept for the ending. I just figured I would tie it all together in about 15-30 minutes tops then post a polished piece of perfection that I would be proud of. Instead I couldn't do it because that big writers block of cement wouldn't get out of my way. So in this day and age of technology I just decided I would put an end to this. I would nip it in the bud. I wanted a smooth conclusion. I wanted it now and the internet was the way to find it. I know I'm not the only one who has ever had this problem. I'll find a snippet about this issue and be done with it. I took a deep breath and said “Okay God, I release the hold of negativity I have allowed in my life. My devotions this morning was about acceptance and I accept this new shift as it moves the block that does not serve me”. Then it popped in my head. Quotes about writers block would be fast and easy I could find one that would be the answer. A drive thru window for my McProblem. I type “quotes for writers block” in my search engine and behold a plethora of answers at my fingertips! Another deep breath “lead me divinely” I whispered then clicked.

The problem is acceptance, which is something we're taught not to do. We're taught to improve uncomfortable situations, to change things, alleviate unpleasant feelings. But if you accept the reality that you have been given- that you are not in a productive creative period- you free yourself to begin filling up again.” 
― Anne LamottBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Seriously??? Click back arrow. Okay, apparently I didn't make myself clear. I NEED to complete this almost already finished piece. Please open a divine door. Scroll next page and click.

Writer's block is caused by forcing your will on the Divine.” 
― Chriscinthia Blount

I groan then throw a mini tantrum. I get up and leave the house pouting. I really wanted to post about my father and loss and it wasn't going the way I wanted. I decided if I couldn't write my way I wasn't going to write at all. I made my way to a bookstore in hopes for inspiration but I was still in pouting mode so I wandered to the magazine section for brain candy. I scan the magazines. News Weekly, too serious. Maxim, as if. Sports Illustrated, not if it was the only one left on the planet. Fashion mags are not usually my thing but why not? I grab one and flip through the pages casually scanning then open on a page that was an advertisement for something called Plan B. I started laughing. I really started laughing out loud. I put the magazine back on the shelf because I was unable to stop laughing and the stares from strangers began making me self conscious but I couldn't stop giggling. I made my way home and sat at my computer still giggling and started my plan B. I know that ad wasn't meant to sell me on shifting my direction in the writing experience but I suppose a shift in my attitude was highly in order. The blog on loss is obviously for another time. My writing muse shook her head smirking welcoming me home as I cranked out this far from graceful human reality. Be gentle with yourself. If you are to grow strong and healthy you have to endure some rain and deal with some manure along the way. Just shift your face toward the sun and become. Sprout on!  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

It's a new years revolution!!!!

Okay, so now that 2014 is here I am back. I had some family stuff with my mom being ill and in hospital then my father following suit but then passing away from colon cancer.

I always planned to come back to this place of writing and posting at least once a month so here is January's edition of my blog. I guess this is my introduction of what is to come. I would love to say new and improved but that wouldn't be entirely true and to be honest I don't know if that is possible. I mean, we all are growing, learning and, changing. I guess some measure of improvements would be relative. I hope to improve as a person and be a better me but mostly I wish to be able to flow a bit easier this year. 2013 was not exactly kind and saying goodbye to those that didn't ring in the new year with me has brought a great deal of grief and moving through loss (in some cases still doing so). It makes me wonder if my words will transform and melt into a giant mass damming the labyrinth in my skull. Maybe I'll be at a loss for words when I write of my grief, struggles, and triumphs. That is not the writer I am!!!! Is it? I shall see.

This year I plan to stand proverbially nude and let my scars show (physical and mental). My goal is not to be afraid of my humanness. I want to open up and let those soft tender parts of me that I fear will be manipulated and cursed, or scrutinized and magnified for the sake of shaming me and slashing at my integrity be revealed. My goal is to be that woman who is loud, bawdy, and fearless to speak my truth. My aim is to be genuinely pleased to flaunt every flaw that I wear on my person and in my soul. This is the year where I not only find myself but bring ME out of hiding even when I'm dark, and ugly, or cold, and angry. I will have a conversation with the self that needs comforting and guidance. Because for every negative word I fling at myself in whispers and thoughts to break my own heart before I give anyone else that satisfaction. I will come up with a counter move in love that will stop that cycle of self sabotage and hate. I had become my own worst enemy and imprisoned myself and that is not acceptable. I'm not promising a rose colored glasses experience here. I promise not to tell you to sparkle and shine for I'm not a Stepford wife and I don't expect to constantly float in the river of denial and say all is candy and flowers. If that's what you're looking for you've stumbled on the wrong blogging stone. Leave now or you may end up thinking for yourself. :-)

I'm not making this a resolution because I generally hate it when people talk of the perfection they are going to achieve with their “new year resolutions”. They usually come with good intentions but flounder and that is not my goal I call this an internal uprising and a “new me revolution” a war on the negative monster that keeps me from the divine purpose. I hope to inspire you but also myself because that makes our world better.

So in conclusion I ask you to be gentle with yourself as you greet yourself anew on every sunrise and lull yourself gently with every sunset.

Be bold, and more importantly, be you.