This poem was written for the 4th Annual Womxn of Color Summit at the University of San Diego.
We are not a problem to be solved.
We are, and have always been the answer.
We are both sun and moon.
We are the Spirit Dancer.
All life flows through us
whether through womb, if we choose
or through the words that we use.
It is within our complexities
and the righteous indignation
that sits at the core of our connections
that allows us to be All the Things.
For we are the teacher, the test and the lesson.
We are the music, the instruments and the jam session.
We are the stand-in and the stand alone.
We are the letters, the Word and the poem.
We are the answer to the problems that others create
especially when those problems
were designed to determine our fate.
We are the timekeeper and the time stamp.
We are whatever we want to be.
We are the x that goes beyond ‘ships
we are the force that launches ships
to sail and provide refuge to the refugee.
We are the x.
We are the x between Delores Huerta and the New York Rep. A.O.C.
We are the x between Marsha P. Johnson Alicia Garza,
Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi.
We are the x between Cierra Fields and Madonna Thunder Hawk.
Maria Teresa Ruiz.
The Quintreman Sisters and the Williams Sisters.
Dame Katerina Te Heikôkô Mataira and Haunani-Kay Trask.
Malala Yousafzai and Henrietta Lacks.
We are the x between Yuri Kochiyama and Junko Tabei.
Zora Neale Hurston and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
We are the x between Cecilia Chung and Al-Jen Poo.
Velma R. Veloria and Fe Del Mundo.
We are the x between Fannie Lou Hamer and Tamika Mallory.
Anacaona and Silvia Lazarte.
Melavika Kanaan and Kalpana Chawla.
King Hatshepsut and Miriam Makeba.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Kenya’s Sitawa Wafula
Who spoke these words:
“Whatever you do, do not let what happened silence you.”
It is the Intersection that is the solution.
We are fully known.
Our existence is not only the solution
It is the only way home.
We are what was and what is next.
We are the vertex.
Womxn of Color are the apex.
We are twilight, that which intersects the night and the day.
We are the mountaintop
that reminded Martin Luther King Jr. of the justice pathway.
We are the pinnacle, absolutely nothing can hold us down.
We are the zenith and the apogee.
We are Womxn at the Intersections
of what is
and what shall always be.
We are not difficult beings.
In a world full of manufactured complexity,
Poets are the least complicated.
We vibe on a Love frequency.
We are activated by Injustice.
We are most alive in spaces where Liberation is felt.
Words intermingle with air to sustain us.
We stay hydrated
and love to look directly into the sunlight because,
well, our eyes are shielded by our rose tinted glasses.
Our words are our world.
And if you are fortunate enough,
we will share our world with you.
If you are someone who is into celebrating holidays, October 10th is the observance of the following:
World Mental Wellness Day
World Homeless [Awareness] Day
Pastor Appreciation Day
National Hug-A-Drummer Day (Who knew?)
National Handbag Day
National Cake Decorating Day
Regardless of whether you recognize any of these holidays/causes/days of appreciation, I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe today and always.
Today’s message is likely the shortest I’ve ever written to you.
Ummm, didn’t you say that about a previous newsletter? Whatever, I’ll let you slide today.
As always, my Inner Critic with the raw-uncut feedback.
Our Stories Are Powerful. Period.
I released the last interview of the first season of my podcast, “More Than Metaphors” last week. The conversation was with a college friend of mine who has gone on to do tremendous things, which includes being a father and husband. Some of what he shared was expected given what I knew/know of him. However, a few stories he told gave me pause and had me challenge some major assumptions I had about him and his work. His story also helped me challenge a few assumptions I had about myself.
Since I am regaining my inquisitive nature (Read: I have gotten my nosy back), I found I was left with more questions that I wished I asked during our chat. Then it dawned on me: Isn’t that what the cycle of discovery/self-discovery is supposed to do? Lead us to more questions and more discoveries?
That said, I would like to provide you with the questions I usually ask my guests. Feel free to have fun with them and answer them as if you were a guest on the podcast (you never know…). For those who have been a guest on the podcast previously, feel free to revisit the questions to see how, or in what ways (if at all) your responses have changed.
7-Questions: The Power of Your Story: The Interview
1) Tell us about yourself. What do you do and why you do all that you do?
2) What have been your biggest lessons? What have been some of the best and worst pieces of advice you have received?
3) Could you talk a bit about what grounds you/reconnects you to your humanity? What are some of the lessons you would like to share with our next generation leaders as they are looking to change the world?
4) What have been some of your “Aha!” “Oh-Yes” and/or “Wait-What?” Moments you have experienced as you support others?
5) The BIG Question - As you know, the purpose of this podcast is to explore how, or in what ways has poetry/the power of words helped people find the courage to live their “poetry” out loud (poetry in all of its many forms). With that said, what piece of writing/words of encouragement/lyric would you like to share? or Do you have a particular poem, quote or a song that motivates you or gets you in “The Zone?”
6) Given everything you have experienced, what words of encouragement would you give to your younger self as you grappled with all of the feelings, experiences, concerns, expectations you may have been balancing at the time?
7) What do you think that same young person would say to the person you are now about everything you have accomplished and are looking to accomplish?
Do you have any idea of how much power your story holds? Your story may be just what someone needs to hear to get through a trying time, go to the next level, or allow themselves to dream again.
And maybe that person is you.
Sending you thoughts of love, justice and liberation!
I am becoming more and more clear on who I am becoming.
This means I have to be patient with others
as they shift their understanding of who I am.
This time is not a journey back to me anymore.
It is me being introduced to my new self.
The Me of Now.
The Me of Now is comfortable with the way
she wears her brand of womxnhood.
The Me of Now gets excited when she respects her own boundaries
and demonstrates to others how to respect them as well.
The Me of Now gets downright giddy each time we say “No”
in all of the splendiferous ways we are learning to say it.
The Me of Now takes responsibility for the hurt she has caused
while simultaneously holding others accountable for their actions
(versus self-blaming or shaming others).
The Me of Now finally understands that while
“Hurt people, hurt people,” that
“Healing people are hurt people working towards a do-over,”
so compassion for self and others is crucial.
The Me of Now is still a bit clunky and shaky,
like the legs of a baby colt.
However, the Me of Now is becoming more steady.
More available to Loving Guidance
during the next part of this journey.
I see you, Me of Now.
On this day 20-years ago, I remember watching the news in disbelief as I begrudgingly ironed my clothes for work. At that time, I was a student affairs administrator. It had only been a short time since I earned my master’s degree from USD and now I was an employee.
I can’t stand ironing. I see it as a fruitless chore connected to respectability politics. I’m sure Jesus wasn’t worried about wrinkles while out there healing the sick and loving on those the “Well-ironed crowd” shunned. I mean, really. All this to say, I was engaged in a process that didn’t matter on a day when my urgency to show up mattered way more than how polished I looked.
I recall rushing out of my apartment and during my drive to campus, I felt it all. Rather, I could taste it: Fear, sadness, confusion, helplessness, hyper-awareness, calm, out of my body/mind moments. Driving on the freeway in California was an eerie experience as well. There was this collective sense of unknowing/uncertainty, tied to disbelief and helplessness that was a thread connecting every driver on the highway that day. I did not know then to call it Collective Trauma, but I know it now. That moment, combined with the historical trauma that already lived in me from my African and Muscogee ancestors were active that day. I had to get to work and be a part of a community that had to support our students. What I did not know on my drive to campus was what that support was going to entail.
That level of trauma was one like I had yet to experience (until 5 months later). It did not occur to me until I got to campus just how many of our students and employees had ties to the East Coast. Students were either from the area or had family members who travelled to NY, DC and or PA for business. Community members who had loved ones who worked in the Twin Towers. Colleagues that had friends who worked in the Pentagon.
When I got to my office, I put my purse away, found my supervisor to be directed to the students that needed support the most and went to work: Comforting students while my colleagues and I got on our cell phones dialing the phone numbers of loved ones to confirm what we could confirm. To this day, when I hear the words “We got through” or “We got one,” there is a momentary sense of relief that comes over me. You see, those phrases were yelled each time a member of our team was able to get hold of someone who was feared to be in the line of tragedy.
Moving between screaming, sobbing students while “numbing out” in order to stay radically present, became my attire for the rest of that day and night. I am sure the wrinkles in my tear-stained clothes did not matter at all that day.
Reflecting on that day as I enter my second semester back at the institution I left in February 2002 (five months after living through a family tragedy); I think about the importance of just showing up just as we are. Not perfect. Not knowing what the hell to do at times. The simple act of showing up with our imperfect selves and having enough courage to love another person in pain.
I have a faint memory of “Stolen Moments” when my colleagues and I would take a break to shed our own tears, breathe, hug each other, then go back to supporting our students. On that day, we felt like we were all we had. And, what we had to offer was more than enough.
Oh, how the times have changed.
It shouldn’t take a national tragedy to bring out the best in us. Now, we’re in a time in this country where tragedy ushers a full-on assault from us on to each other. No, this is not an argument to go back to some fantasized or glorified, “Good Ole Days” because let’s face it, dehumanization through oppression makes for pretty awful millennia. What I will say comes in the form of my 7-Questions:
What are some ways you have allowed yourself to 1) acknowledge collective trauma 2) release the collective trauma out of your body? [An excellent resource for Mind-Body-Soul work is the book “My Grandmother’s Hands” and the process of Somatic Abolitionism a practice championed by Resmaa Manakem]
What, if any, are some rehearsed stories in your mind-body about a time of collective trauma that you may need to interrupt (i.e. question their validity and utility) in order to reveal a path towards healing?
Who (if anyone) do you want to express gratitude to for helping you through the collective trauma (Divine Power(s), loved ones, strangers, ancestors, yourself, others)?
Who (if anyone) would you like to extend forgiveness towards as you continue to process any of the collective traumas you have experienced (Again, Divine Power(s), loved ones, strangers, ancestors, yourself, others)?
What questions, if any, do you wish you could have answered to help break up any mental blocks that may have you recycling/replaying the collective trauma?
Depending on your age when the collective trauma occurred (if you were even alive when it happened), what expressions of love would you have wanted to receive in order to help you regulate/reconnect you to your humanity?
Given the uncertain times and collective trauma we are experiencing right now, how or in what ways have you “loved on” those who matter most to you?
On this day of somber reflection, during a time when fear and hatred are threatening our ability to critically self-reflect; take a moment with me to re-member. As I have said in prior posts, you are still here serving as a Blessed Ambassador of those who we have lost. Please know, we are so glad you made it.
And to my USD colleagues who lived the experience of 9/11 twenty years ago with me: I see you. We got through. We got us.
In closing, please know that I will “Say A Little Prayer” for each of you as we all work towards love, justice and liberation.
I hope you and those you love are healthy and safe as we prepare to part ways with August and welcome the month of September.
Before I get into today’s message, I would like to send prayers of love and protection to everyone impacted by the events in Afghanistan. Whether you are a member of the U.S. military or an Afghan citizen wanting to find refuge for you and your loved ones, may “…the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7)” fall upon you as you seek safety.
With everything going on right now, including the focus on returning to “business as usual” during these highly unusual times, I am focusing my email today on creating a different kind of safety, a spiritual and emotional place of respite that we all have the power to create. So let’s get into it…
Love and Change
This past week, I was blessed to talk to four very different groups that are gearing up to lead in their respective areas of influence. In all four discussions, I talked about Love and/or Spirituality as strategy for navigating all of the destruction that surrounds us. What I was saying wasn’t new or groundbreaking. My memory immediately pulls up files of the Civil Rights Movement and images of strategy sessions. Loving fellowship was always at the core of those meetings. No, not a group of “perfect people” trying to one-up each other. Regular people who wanted to see love in the form of justice lived out in the world. But, before they could love on the world, they had to love on each other and that required sharing love and space.
What is a”Love Space?”
A Love Space is an emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual, space of rejuvenation. In this space, one’s personhood is welcomed and continuously validated. It is a place to restore one’s sense of purpose, gain perspective, and revive courage in order for the person(s) to move forward with the work of countering hegemonic, demonic, and pathologic forms of social dis-ease.
I developed this definition while designing a program for adult learners in Boston back in 2013. The term “Love Space” was being used to describe what the learning environment should “feel like.” Creating this nurturing environment was in addition to providing content to support the community members in being successful as classroom teaching assistants. There was no formal definition or description provided, but what was said about a Love Space was simply “You know it when you feel it.”
What does this definition have to do with dealing with the experiment of going back into the office, sending young children back to school, and leading life in a time where everything that is anything is a boiling hot mess?
Do You Have A “Love Space?”
Oppressive systems must be dismantled. Periodt (For those who may be unfamiliar with that hard ass “t” added to the word “Period” is to denote an added layer of emphasis per Tyler Perry’s beloved “Madea”). And our righteous indignation (which is fueled by love) has us look at oppression with an expression that says “Is that the best you’ve got?!?”
When we embody and are surrounded by Love, we create solutions that seem unfathomable. When we are overtaken by the Spirit of Love, we never give up on the idea that change is possible. When we know that Love is the only answer, we don’t get tripped up by the world’s questions. When you are in a Love Space, you know it and you feel it, because it fuels you.
A Love Space situates you right back into your divine essence over and over and over again.
Look, I’m not totally naive here. Sharing in a Love Space with other people is not going to be perfect. Sometimes it is clunky as hell and can be downright hard to watch. Oh, but the benefits are soooooooooooooo worth it!
As you go about your week, please make time to be nurtured by those in your Love Space. If you do not have a Love Space just yet, give yourself permission to develop one made up of those you love (and who love you back) and who will provide sound counsel. Consider adding the spiritual guidance of the Ancestors to your Love Space as well! Some of their written and spoken words are just a Google search away!
I hope you have a wonderful week! Sending you love from afar and wishing you continued health and safety as you work towards love, justice and liberation!
Can you believe that July is almost over! Before you know it, it will be 2022 (hopefully it won’t take any notes from 2020 & 2021)!
So before there are any more surprises, let me jump into my reflections for this week:
I have been thinking about what I learned from my three-part conversation with educator, entrepreneur, and “space curator,” Alisa France. During her interview, Alisa reflected not only on the professional decision made by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones; she also talked about a workplace trauma that showed up in how she engaged and performed in future roles (career trauma) and how she has made peace with it.
It has been a few weeks since we recorded Episode 19 and I am still reflecting on what Alisa’s story has inspired in me on a personal level. Something that immediately comes to mind is that we can (and often do) continue to make great strides while still making sense of painful situations that happened in our past.
As functioning adults with families and other responsibilities, we don’t always get the opportunity to sit, reflect, process, gain support, question our thoughts and destructive patterns, etc. We just keep on going like the Energizer Bunny (even that rabbit ran out of energy at some point).
Processing past traumas takes time. Whether we are talking about personal trauma, professional trauma or both. Here is a personal example of how better understanding our experiences can provide an opportunity for us to become better advocates for ourselves (and others).
I recently had a great session with a therapist that afforded me an opportunity to pause as I move forward in this next phase of my personal development journey. The therapist asked me about my earliest recollection of a particular trauma I want to dismantle in my family (and for the generations to come). I could not recall the origin of the trauma at that moment, so I interrogated myself as I drove home from my session. Not only did thinking back to the first time I experienced that specific trauma help me see the patterns created from that experience; it also helped me uncover an aversion and consequently, my reaction when people have something difficult to tell me (or even an otherwise pleasant surprise) and are working out how to say it to me while I am in front of them (I am sure most people feel weirded out in those moments, but I digress). To this day, I cannot stand when someone has something difficult to share with me and they do that awful pregnant pause as they gather their words.
“Oh dear God! Spit it out, will you? Rip the damn bandage off already!”
I realized that my reaction stems from my childhood and the day I was told my father had died. Understandably, my mother was searching for the right words to explain to a seven-year-old child that her father had died. However, while she searched her head and her heart for the right words to say, I was just standing there for what felt like hours. Finally, my mother’s best friend broke the news to me.
Had I not been asked about and had the willingness to think back to my earliest memory, I would not have 1) learned the source of an area of emotional discomfort that shows up for me now and how I respond to others; thus 2) allowing me to communicate with others what I need in order to respond best to them in similar situations (self-advocacy).
I share this story as an example of challenging our taken for granted assumptions and ways of engaging in order to have you think about an area of your life (personal, professional or both) where you may hold additional angst or anxiety (be reminded of what Anthony Parham explained during our episode about anxiety triggers being a part of society long before we were born). Here is a selfwork exercise that I often use with my clients that may be a useful tool for you:
Think back to a time when a personal or professional trauma took place and the stories that you created about the experience.
Write down the various meanings/stories created from the experience and their impact (if any) on you now.
After reviewing the list of stories you have created to keep yourself safe (physically, psychologically, spiritually, etc.), consider any healthy/helpful lessons that can be derived from the incident (even if it is simply learning how to spot red flags).
Last, write a letter of gratitude to your past self (the one that experienced the traumatic incident) from the space of where you are now (who you became post-incident), then switch and have your past self write a letter of gratitude to who you are now.
Disclaimer: For some people, reviewing these origin stories may cause additional distress or trauma. I strongly encourage you to seek out a licensed counselor / therapist who can support you in this process.
I hope this exercise is useful and helps you as you continue to move towards love, justice and liberation in your life.
Thank you for taking the time to read this entry. I look forward to hearing from you regarding any Aha’s that come to you after watching/listening to this 3-part episode with Alisa France entitled: The Nikole Hannah-Jones Effect: The Black Woman’s Artistry in Flipping Scripts and Tables. Feel free to listen on your favorite podcasting platform or watch all three parts on YouTube.
In closing, to anyone who needs to have a difficult conversation with me OR if you have a surprise you want to share with me, please do so expeditiously. I’d greatly appreciate it! 🙂
Sending you all love and blessings.
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I am more than my feelings.
I am more than resentment and bitterness.
My timeless smile and unreserved laughter reminds me of that fact.
I am every “No” my Mother Ancestors were robbed of uttering.
I am an electric spirit.
I am love and courage.
I am passion and joy.
I am the force behind the waves of the deepest oceans.
I am contradictions and compliments.
I am impenetrable and porous.
I am the creator of Daughters of the Moon
and Sons of the Sun.
I am distantly present and
present in my aloofness.
I am the bittersweetness that lies
at the very moment of impact
between Agony and Ecstasy.
I am the quintessence of creating more with less.
I am sharing the YouTube video of my interview with Dr. Santira Streeter Corbitt with you here.
This conversation was centered on the premise of looking back on our experiences in order to inform and direct our future experiences. Moving towards the future requires just that, movement. Not staying comfortable and certainly, not staying stuck. And sometimes, not even moving in the same direction all of the time. An example of that came up for me as I reflected on the interview again the other day.
While watching this interview, I heard something that I have yet to say out loud. As Dr. Satira talked about the 4 Horsemen: The communication pitfalls that doom relationships, and I chimed in about “Fred, the 5th Horsemen of Resentment,” it dawned on me that my resentment has not been solely focused on my ex-husband. No, the resentment I hold most strongly is towards myself.
Emotional abuse notwithstanding, I have realized that my self-abandonment, dishonoring of my “No,” and over commitment to people pleasing set me and the marriage up for failure. Now, I am focused on learning healthy ways to show up unapologetically for myself first in order to show up for those I love. I am developing diverse ways to say “No” to people and situations that are not healthy for me. And yes, people pleasing is slowly but surely becoming a thing of the past.
As I continue this journey of accountability and critical self-reflection, I would love to hear from you about your healing journey. Feel free to email me directly at email@example.com and share your story. I am also looking forward to bringing you more conversations to usher in greater introspection for us all.
Saying “We’re in this together” is one thing. Actually holding each other accountable and cheering each other on for those every day wins AND setbacks is something else. Please know I am cheering for you no matter where you are in your journey!
Let’s keep on healing, thriving and working towards liberation!
It has been a while since I have conducted an interview for the podcast. I have been busy processing and working on my next book Emancipation Papers: A Truthtelling Journey Towards Awakening, Healing and Transformation. That said, I have now resumed my interviews and cannot WAIT to share episode 17 with you.
Here is a description of the episode:
In this episode, Dr. Kecia speaks with Licensed Psychologist, Dr. Satira Streeter Corbitt (“Dr. Satira”). Dr. Satira talks about her journey to supporting the love, genius and wellbeing of families through her practice, Ascensions Psychological Services, Inc. She also shares parenting tips and advice for couples, as well as shares excerpts from her first children’s book “Black Genius: A Journal of History and Affirmation.” Feel free to reach out to Dr. Satira at www.drsatira.com/ to learn more about ways she can support you and your family.
Take a listen and let me know any Ahas! Oh-oh’s! or Oh Wait’s! you had as you think about your relationships with your partner, family members and any children in your circle.
One Aha! Moment I had from this episode was when she talked about “The 4 Horsemen: Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling. Dr. Satira called them “…the four things that they [couples] do in relationships that are the four biggest indicators of divorce.” It is these ways of communicating (or not communicating) our feelings to our partners AND the children in our lives that are highly detrimental to those relationships. As we talked, I began to realize that these forms of communicating live in our assumptions and expectations of others. Further, there is a connection to what Dr. Mohamed referenced in episode 12 as “…the story we tell ourselves about ourselves,” and the stories we tell ourselves about the other people in our lives, our expectations of them and their intentions towards us.
Big time Aha! Moment!
Speaking of relationships and expectations, Jay Sheatty has an interesting episode of his podcast On Purpose where he talks about 8 Unrealistic Expectations We Have in Relationships & 8 Ways to Replace Them for Success in Love. Jay and I had an argument about these expectations (albeit the argument was in my head…no matter). I will share those musings with you in a future post. in the meantime, take a listen to episode 17 of More Than Metaphors and leave me any comments or questions that come up for you!
Looking forward to continuing this journey towards love, justice and liberation with you!