Given the events of yesterday (hostages taken at a synagogue in Texas, eruption of Hunga Tonga volcano and subsequent tsunami watch here on the West Coast, storms on the East Coast, unrest in Kazakhstan, COVID still, and so much more), I am replacing one of my poetic pieces that I wrote yesterday with this reflection. There will be time and space for that piece. Today, I want to focus on the Lessons in Love that are presenting themselves as I read bell hooks’ book All About Love: New Visions (Love Song to the Nation #1).
Don’t worry; the angry poetry will return shortly.
Healing Our Inner World & Love
Like many people, I was parentified at an early age. Like so many parents, my mama had to work multiple jobs in order for us to survive. What that meant for many of us who had to take on this role was our “job” was to take care of ourselves and possibly others, that may have been beyond our emotional capacity at the time. We did the best we could and all things considered, we did a pretty good job for little people “Livin’ in a World (They Didn’t Make).” Yet, there were some gaps in what we needed to learn and experience. What I am coming to see firsthand as I continue my inner child work at this stage in my life, is how my child is reaping the benefits of my inner reworkings. The next generations benefit from what we learn to love ourselves through.
It is never too late to change our inner world.
Please know that I am not writing this post to appeal to anyone or to convince others to feel any way in particular about me personally or professionally. What I have hoped since launching this blog back in 2019, is that I could encourage you to encourage yourself to heal whatever needs to be healed (both in yourself and in the world). It’s hard and it seems to get harder at every turn and with every news update. However, as I read a word of encouragement on Instagram several months ago, “We can do hard things.”
Love and “The Dream”
Even with everything that is going on around us now, I implore you to continue to believe that justice, liberation and love are possible. Our foremothers and forefathers dreamt of them and actualized them as best they could. We get to do the same, every moment of every day.
On this day, the day before we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all those that fought with him, re-member the relationship between justice, liberation and love (and the fact that all 3 start at home). Keep them top of mind and focus on them over and over and over again. All the while not forgetting that “…the greatest of these is love [1 Corinthians 13:13] .” I am a poet, after all. I have to believe this to be true.
Thank you for the kind responses to my last reflections on my mother’s life. I greatly appreciate each of you for being a part of this virtual transformative learning circle wherever you may be in the world. My hope is that by sharing my learnings (and unlearnings) I am supporting the reflective process of our beloved community. To quote the late author, scholar and Black Feminist bell hooks “Beloved community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world.” I am grateful for the gift of our community and look forward to what we will learn together in 2022.
In today’s reflection, I would like us to consider the Gift of Acceptance.
The Gift of Acceptance
There are certain things we learn solely for the sake of survival. Yet, we reach a point when we will have to acknowledge that we survived it. All of it. And then, we look around to ask “What’s next? What is the gift I give as I continue to live [bars]? However, before we can give anything, we must accept everything.
…see that we cannot maintain the past intact. It has been forever changed and we must readjust. We must learn to reorganize roles, re-assign them to others or take them on ourselves. Finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad ones. As we begin to live again and enjoy our life, we often feel that in doing so, we are betraying our loved one. We can never replace what has been lost, but we can make new connections, new meaningful relationships, new inter-dependencies. Instead of denying our feelings, we listen to our needs; we move, we change, we grow, we evolve. We may start to reach out to others and become involved in their lives. We invest in our friendships and in our relationship with ourselves. We begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given grief its time.
The 5 Stages of Grief – Grief.com
Personally and professionally, I have had to learn that it does not matter if other people do not understand my grief or what I am mourning. It is my job to fully acknowledge what I am feeling because only I know every nook and cranny of my experiences…from my point of view. That point of view may be skewed for a whole host of reasons, but acceptance— pure acceptance, doesn’t require accuracy.
Acceptance is simply compassionate acknowledgment. It doesn’t mean giving up or giving in. Acceptance is a part of nature. It’s breath. It’s blinking. It’s cool air brushing over our skin. It is a different kind of O.K., an Omnipresent Knowing of what is and was at the time, before envisioning something new for the future.
There is no regret in acceptance. No hatred or confusion. Anxiety cannot exist in the presence of acceptance. Acceptance is not powerless, it is power-filled.
As we come to the close of 2021, I would like to humbly request that you give yourself the Gift of Acceptance: Accept all of who you are, what you have and have not done and why you did or did not do it. Accept your quirks. Accept the changes in your body. Accept your survival. Accept the unspeakable. Accept your gifts. Accept your shortcomings. Accept what was once unacceptable. Accept that you are loved and lovable. Accept the Gift of Acceptance.
I pray that you accept your purpose. Then when you are ready, accept the challenge to create something far more acceptable in your eyes (while creating it from your heart and soul).
Wishing you and your loved ones a joyous holiday season and I look forward to reconnecting with you in 2022!!!
My mother’s time on this plane is dwindling. She is seeing herself, her flesh anyway, transition. All the things that have mattered to her all of her living days–how she looked on the outside to others–no longer matters. It never did. That was not why she was brought here. However, all of the fear…ALL of the fear has been right there at the surface of her life blocking her view of who she truly is.
My mom, as is the case with each of us, did not come to this world filled with fear. Fear was force fed into her and she fought and fought as long as she could against it (sometimes even climbing trees as a child to hide away from it). However, when her purpose, joy and talents were constantly undermined; this beautiful spirit succumbed to fear and fight. She could no longer access that thing hidden deep down in her soul that others could not see and only she and the Divine cultivated.
While white supremacy, misogynoir and abusive relationships choked the very life out of her dreams, she poured what she could salvage into her children (living and nonliving). There is something to be said about a mother who does her best to defy the odds to give her kids the power to dream.
As is the case of a dream built on top, through and out of hellish experiences; nightmares are inevitable. Trying to pass on the power to dream when all you have lived is a nightmare becomes a tainted process filled with possibilities complicated by destruction. Constant contradictions of hands that attempt to pat the pain away, while choking the disobedience out of you. Words that speak scriptures to build you up, while using the words of the oppressor to tear you down.
The seeds from the tree re-cycle and develop the next generation of Fruits of Contradictions.
My mama tried to give us everything she did not have, yet it was filtered through everything that almost completely destroyed her spirit.
Shame and Fear may have double teamed this woman all of her life. However, that same Shame & Fear is slowly being peeled away from her. A person who never knew freedom via living out her full potential in this life will begin to see just how majestic she always was and will finally understand why there were so many who beat that majesty, misdirected that majesty, and lied that majesty away from her.
Although this post is deeply personal, I hope that it will resonate with you.
I understand now that the Mother Wound (or any other wound from an adult caretaker in our lives) is a generational severing from Love and our Purpose. What we may have experienced as hate, abuse, fear, confusion, and anxiety, goes well beyond generations of A Dream Deferred. The wounds were designed by the enemy of our Ancestors’ Dreams (Us) to destroy the power and purpose of each subsequent generation.
Our parents, parents, parents, parents lived the surreal so we can experience and continue to foster the power of The Marvelous, A Surrealist’s Joy, The Majesty of Purposed Moments.
So to those of us who are healing the wounds that were never ours to bare: May we redirect our steps, our minds, our spirits and our actions back to what is beyond fear, hate and anguish. May we and the generations we create and/or influence live out more Empowered Imaginations of what can and will be.
To My Mama: Thank you. I love you. I forgive you. I forgive myself. I promise I will do better. Your creativity will continue to influence dreams through the hands of your next generations. Those people lied to you, Mama: Joy, Love and Liberation were always your birthright. As you prepare for your next Divine Assignment, I pray you know all the Joy, Love and Liberation that you did not feel in this broken society. You and your contemporaries deserved so much better than what was forced upon you. I hope your spirit knows now that the God you gave us was the God who has never and will never leave you. May you and all the elders who are experiencing these times be at peace.
Love is our reality. We do not have to hustle for it in this life. No longer must we crave reciprocity from those who are unable to love themselves. Yearning for what we already hold in abundance, while allowing that abundance to be depleted. But, can anyone really “deplete” abundance? Can love ever run out?
[I know from experience it can run cold. Blood Ice in our veins can make us do destructive thangs.]
But what happens when the warmth of a new day, a new joy, a new will emerges?
Emerges and re-minds and re-members and re-calls us back to love? Re-news our minds and re-minds us that we are loved? Puts us back together by re-visiting the love we were before and the love we are now? What happens when love makes that long distance call to the core of our being? We become re-aligned to the reality and the possibilities of us. And that Love, the Highest Love, is our reality.
Hoping today’s thoughts are reaching you on a day where you and your loved ones are in good health and safe.
Speaking of the importance of safety, my message to you today comes from a place of examining safety and liberation. Let’s jump right into it…
You no doubt saw the title of this post and thought to yourself, “Kecia, are you one of those people out there screaming at the Costco (or Dollar Tree) employees talking about you’re ‘not going to wear no stinking mask?’ Because if so, Sis, your messages are now being B-L-O-C-K-E-D!”
Hold on! I’m not going there, I promise! Just let me share a quick story with you:
The Greatness of “Mother Maya”
Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being part of a panel focused on the writings of Black womxn. Each of us chose Black womxn authors that spoke to our respective personal development journeys. It was a powerful experience to say the least. I chose to focus my reflections on my self-appointed patron saint, Dr. Maya Angelou, or as I lovingly call her within my spirit conversations, “Mother Maya.”
Maya Angelou’s words found me when I was 15-years-old and have traveled life with me for more than three decades. I have long admired her brilliance with words. However, it was the way she was able to write herself back into her personhood (while living a very colorful and well textured life) that made me love her all the more.
All that to say, I think Maya Angelou was and is the dopeness!
One of the 500 writing projects I am working on is an experience I am calling “Mother Maya and Me.” It will be a compilation of her pieces and those I have written that were inspired by her work. The two pieces I was planning to offer to the attendees of the event were two love poems: Mother Maya’s “In and Out of Time” and my poem “The Poem I Will Never Write.” I often talk about for a Poet, Love is a bonafide job requirement. However, there was a little something that happened on the way to being all lovey-dovey…
Masked @ Birth
Prior to the event, I read in our campus communication that some of my colleagues had decided that they were no longer going to observe the COVID-19 mask mandate. I thought this was a curious stance for educators (Read: My Pandemic Pisstivity was activated). And then it fully settled into my spirit: So many of us have had to wear masks from the time we were born just to survive. How convenient it is that some people are inconvenienced by a simple piece of fabric.
Dr. Maya Angelou’s powerful piece, in her own voice.
All of this leads me right back to the original question I posed to you: Are you tired of wearing a mask? And to be ABUNDANTLY clear, I am referring to the mask that hides your authenticity, your character, your brilliance, your full self so that others around you will not feel threatened by your presence?
During my keynote address at a Womxn of Color Summit, I shared 7-Questions for the community to consider as they think about solidarity and liberation. I have tailored the questions for you/us here:
7-Questions: Unraveling the Other Mask
How do you name and claim your accomplishments?
Are you able to give another Person of Color their flowers or has the training of “Competition is Good” eroded your ability to partner and praise others?
How (if at all) are you mentoring the next generation of Changemakers to own their accomplishments while still supporting others, as a way to deteriorate the foundations of Impostor Syndrome?
How or in what ways does caring for yourself while supporting other Leaders of Color to do the same, show up in your leadership practice?
What does setting boundaries, bossing up and sitting down mean for you as a leader?
What does it mean to you to be a “Good Ancestor” (originally coined by Dr. Keisha McIntosh Allen and quoted by my friend and Sister-Scholar Dr. Yolanda Sealey Ruiz)?
How will you continue to interrupt and dismantle “The Oppressor Within” in order to be culturally humble enough to keep learning, even when it is hard, inconvenient and/or is time consuming?
I hope that these questions and your honest, compassionate and courageous responses will help you lift the mask of oppression, shame and fear. You deserve to breathe freely and we are grateful for your every breath!
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.
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.
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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