I pray you and your loved ones are healthy and safe. As we begin to re-engage into our pre-pandemic ways of being; I hope that each of you are continuing to be vigilante about your health as well as the health of those around you.
My plan is for this post to be brief given what I really want to share with you lives in this week’s episode of More Than Metaphors. So, let’s jump right into it:
As we move closer to the middle of April, I find myself in as space of contemplative gratitude. You see, for some, April 15th may be filled with dread. Others are excitedly preparing for their tax refund. I have a very different view of this time of year because I happen to be born on April 15th. There was a time when I would treat my birthday as if it were a national holiday. However, given the events of the last two years (and well beyond), I am viewing another year of life differently.
As I prepare to turn 48 years old (how in the hell did that happen so quickly?), it has become more important for me to think about how, or in what ways I am honoring those who I have lost with the life I have been given. Kind of a heavy question, but one that sits with me as we mourn the death of yet another artist, Earl Simmons known by his stage name, DMX.
How are celebrating birthdays, the death of DMX and an episode of this week’s podcast entitled “A Poetic Love After the Snap” connected? I look to the words of Mr. Simmons’ family for the answer “He loved his family with all of his heart, and we cherish the times we spent with him.”
Love and cherish. Because it could all change in a snap.
Who are the people, places, things and circumstances that make you feel loved and cherished and you, in kind, love and cherish them back? This was one of the questions that was answered by my first podcast guests, Kian and ReShockie Furnace: Two divorcees that decided to give love a chance and have created a union based on friendship, love, mutual respect and a deep faith in their Creator.
Are you sharing your gifts out loud in the world where our next generation leaders can build, borrow and best-up what you have created? DMX did. If you have too, hats off to you! If you have not, what are you waiting for?
And as for the gift of another year, day, or moment of life; how are you honoring those you have loved and who continue to love you beyond this world? That is the question that I am reflecting and acting out in a far more intentional way.
I hope that you are continuing to learn how to love and cherish your days a bit differently, while continuing to learn, thrive and move towards liberation.
Welcome back! I pray you and your loved ones are healthy and safe. I also hope that you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day week! Some of you read my impromptu gift I sent out to everyone on Valentine’s Day. Like Love itself, that inspiring post is still available to you whenever you need it (I have read it a few times myself to get a little additional motivation).
Speaking of love, we are sending love and resources to those in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and other states that have been hit by winter storm Uri. There are a number of mutual aid fund platforms collecting donations to support the hardest hit communities in these areas. Personally, I have donated to Feed The People DFW, led by Black & LatinX women. If you feel compelled to help out in some way, make sure you learn as much as you can before making a donation of any kind.
Now, I would like to share with you my latest learnings which involve me ending my “entanglement” with Will Smith…in my imagination.
I had a dream about Will Smith. I have to be honest, me and Will have had a love thing going on in my dreams for decades. Not consistently. He only shows up when I am utterly disenchanted with my current, or in this case, future prospects. In this dream though, something had changed. He was not the usual fun-loving, daring, and sensual character he had always been in my dreams. Will had been through some things: Enter Jada. No actual shade to Mrs. Pinkett Smith (only nocturnal disrespect), but she never showed up in my dreams with Will.
Regardless, in this dream she and I were talking about what they had lived through in recent years. At some point, Will walked in looking worn and gave me the weakest ass hug: A hug that no one wants and only the jankiest of humans deserve. You have seen it before; The hug where the person thrusts their hip forward to serve as a block to their full being (maybe I am the only one that does it)? Yes, that hug. Plus, he gave me the pat-pat…patted me lightly on my shoulders to communicate to me, “There, there, Little Mama. You will get over us eventually. You have to move on because I’m not the same anymore.”
How dare you Will Smith!
I have finally realized that Will is the surrogate for an actual person in my life. That person had essentially given me that weak send off virtually. He is both my forever and never at the same time. At some point, I have to let him go in my head. He is not available to me now. What is available and sustaining to me is my daughter’s love, our dog’s love, my family’s love and my love for myself. There is enough love around me to sustain and teach me how to love in healthy and restorative ways.
I am learning more each day to embrace that love and how best to turn it towards those who mean the most to me. So yes, I have to say goodbye to the Will in my life and that’s okay. I wish that person all the joy and laughter and sensual experiences that his dreams and real life can hold. It’s time for me to embrace what is really real. No more fantasies about what I wish and imposing those dreams on what is in order to make my actual relationships seem better than they actually are. That was one of the many dynamics that showed up in my relationship with my ex even before we were married.
No Good Will
The man in my head and the man in our home were two very different people. There was always the possibility (and expectation) for change with the person in my head. The person in our home never got the memo and because I outwardly acted like the person in our home was in fact the person in my head (or some would say the person of my dreams), then he reaped some of those benefits…along with the frustrations when reality would set in. “These actions of yours are not inline with who you are in my head!” I would think, loudly. And so, I would act accordingly. I’ll just give this sage advice: Do not ever give someone you are dating your login credentials for your email account, then ask them to check your email for you. It is a really, really, REALLY bad idea (what were you thinking, 2Ex?).
It became very clear that I was in an unhealthy relationship, I finally had the courage to move on in the summer of 2008. I literally called Tyrone and moved all my stuff into my dearest little brother/friend’s home and lived with him in New Jersey as I worked on my plans. I began to plan how I would move back to California, acknowledging that I gave my long-distance relationship a shot, but it did not work out. Just as I was preparing to move back home, my ex-boyfriend/now ex-husband’s father died.
My ex’s father was very dear to me: A gruff working class older man of Irish ancestry, who valued hard work and hard working people more than anything in the world. Contrary to popular belief, I was closer to him than I was his son! He was the one that told 2Ex (my new name for my ex-husband) that “if you don’t marry her, you’re an idiot.” Yes, that was what fatherly advice from his generation sounded like. whenever 2Ex would upset me and I would question my better judgment, I would call and chat with his father to regain a glimmer of hope.
That glimmer of hope died in September of 2008.
This man became like a father figure to me and having lost my own father at the age of 7 to stomach cancer, 2Ex’s father’s untimely passing was hard to take in. Even though 2Ex and I were in the process of going our separate ways, we had this weird dynamic (still do) of if the other person was in need, the other would always be there to help in some way, while still filled with all of the anger, disgust, distrust and jealousy of any normal high functioning toxic relationship.
He told me he needed me, so I went back.
We got married in 2009. We worked on getting a whole house built from 2008-2012, gave birth to a whole amazing child in 2010, made sure we got his mother in her dream home by 2012, the place where she died in January 2019. Earned a doctorate in 2012, built two businesses in 2013…all of it on the shoulders of two brokenhearted people who kept it all together when they should have been apart. And, we did it all with a smile on our faces and moments of laughter to conceal what we felt every waking morning. I am telling this story now because this is the hidden truth, not my having an emotional relationship with someone as my marriage was ending. No, I am telling this story because many people are having to create entire lives built on a foundation of pain, destructive tendencies, emotional abuse, self-deception, and self-abandonment, especially if kids or dependent others are involved.
What happens when death reminds you that tomorrow is not promised?
Who have you shared your love with and why? Was it love or was it a love imposter: Toxic bond, obligation, dependency, fear of being alone, etc.?
What unresolved resentments choke out any goodwill in your relationships faster than Deebo in the movie Friday (R.I.P. Thomas Duane “Tiny” Lister)? Name them.
What self-crafted lies are you committed to upholding in order to save face in front of people who seem more invested in your unhappiness than your wellbeing?
What impact, if any, does historical trauma play in your sustaining oppressive structures and ways of engaging in your relationships?
If you were able to love fully (and we are all capable of doing so), how would that love be demonstrated to yourself and others around you?
Who do you need to let go of in your mind and heart in order to make room for a healthy relationship with yourself and others?
Even during these times of distress, uncertainty, trauma, pain and loss, we can still uphold love in our lives.
Sis, those incense fumes and all that lemon ginger tea has you all the way messed up! We are losing our minds out here*!?@#!
Whether personal or professional, whether long-distance via Zoom, in our physical living spaces, or even during disasters–Love fuels Liberation. And those two together can help fuel our possibilities.
And to my very dear Fresh Prince I say: It is well. Go in good health, Will Smith.
I look forward to checking in with you again in 2 weeks! In the meantime, keep learning, keep thriving and keep moving towards liberation!
Peace & Blessings,
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Coming in hot to you out of today’s journal entry!
May we reclaim this day set aside to celebrate romantic love, as a day to celebrate how much we have overcome in the face of everything that has attempted to destroy our ability to love. All of the hate, delusion, cowardice, complacency, nihilation, corruption, psychosis, neurosis, hypocrisy, rejection, micro and macro aggressions, and plain old unkindness and disrespect. You are still here! Despite and in spite of decisions that could have destroyed you or even the selection of partners that were (or are) undeserving of the exceptional love you / we have to give, you are still here and you are still loved. Regardless of who has tried to use you in the past or who may be plotting to use you in the future, you are still loved.
Now is the time to own your love. All that “in spite of” love. That enduring love. That “I-waited-20-years-for-you-because-you-are-that” kind of love. Own your “I-have-been-through-the-gauntlet-of-attacks-and-got-my-mind-back” kind of love. Show out because you’re standing up to injustice with every fiber of your being with that love. You…up here representing those that others have tried to kill mentally, physically and spiritually; yet you are up here still standing like an Elton John remix. Look at you, you and your magnificence! Your power! Your resilience exists even when you don’t feel resilient at all! You are the most amazing being we h ave ever encountered and we love everything about you!
You have so much ahead of you. Don’t get sidetracked by the naysayers or those who wish you and themselves the worst. See yourself fully even on those days when you wish you were never born. Yes, we all have those days; I know I have had them as an adult. Then, at that precise moment when I’m questioning the reason for my existence, the Lover and Creator of my life reminds me of my purpose by sending me you: My loved ones, my students, my clients, my neighbors, my Ministry.
And so, on this Valentine’s Day in the year after a year like no other, I wish you the love that you deserve. I wish you the love that you conjure in your mind and spirit that you dare not speak aloud. I wish you the love that continues to endure time, circumstance and space. May the love that brings you joy in the secret recesses of your mind and that reminds you that you are so much more than your titles, degrees, or other accolades could ever detail, continue to abide and give you strength. You are blessedly you… and that has always been enough!
May you continue learning, thriving and moving towards liberation!
It has been a long time since we’ve connected. We wanted to share what has been put on our hearts about you as you prepare for an amazing new year.
Stop being afraid. If you had any idea of how many people beyond this life had your back, you would walk through this world differently. With that said, hide these truths in your heart:
You are loved.
Success is not a bad thing and failure won’t keep you safe.
Your purpose is bigger than your pain.
See and work beyond your current circumstances.
We can tell you that you are worthy, but only you can live out your worthiness.
One more time…only you can live out your worthiness.
What would you do if you knew everything was going to work out in your favor?
What would your state of health and wellbeing be like?
What would your surroundings look like (people, places and things)?
How hard would you pray?
Yes, how hard would you pray? You know prayer changes everything around you. Why won’t you pray? Because you know it works. And anything that works scares you. Someone loving you back, scares you. Someone investing in you and your dreams, scares you. We have watched you villainize those around you because they love you. You run from those who love you because they see your worth. What about you? Do you love you? If not, what are you waiting for?
You have to decide that this year and every year you exist, is your year. Yes, you have lived through traumatic situations, but look at you! You are still here and stronger than ever, even when you do not feel like you are stronger. Tap into the resources around you to help you move past the trauma so that you can continue to serve, while living a life of joy and purpose. You’ve got this, Dearheart! Even when you feel like your “this” is a sham or totally out of reach, remember your THIS (Tenacious Heart, Irrefutable Spirit) are not to be taken lightly.
Please make healing a priority. Block out the noise. Get prepared and stay prepared. Most important, fall madly in love with yourself and the possibilities that surround you.
We are waiting for you to renew your mind and re-connect to your purpose. We have faith in you and cannot wait to see what you do next!
Your Past, Your Present and Your Future
*I originally wrote this letter to myself as one of my personal healing projects. I hope it inspires you to work towards your goals today! Remember: You’ve got THIS!
What’s better than giving your Little Ones the gift of love, empowerment, and hope for the holidays? Celebrate a story of love and ancestral wisdom with the children in your life. Order your copies of The Love of 10,000 today!
Excerpt from the book:
Just find your calm and be still
and you’re 10,000 will speak to you.
You will hear them say:
You are mighty.
You are loved.
You are brilliant.
Children’s Book-The Love of 10,000
Inspired by Dr. Maya Angelou’s poem “Our Grandmothers,” The Love of 10,000 is a love letter from a mother to her daughter. This visual poem reminds us all that as we navigate life, we are surrounded by those who love and guide us every day.
Please email us directly at email@example.com to order copies in Spanish, French, or Portuguese.
This will be the first year in a long while where I get to do the holiday season differently. There was a bit of trepidation and self-judgement while I was typing those words, because it includes the holidays where it was just my smaller family unit. My waking up before daylight while still preparing days before and over concern with whether the food was going to turn out right and if everyone was alright with how the day went (run-on sentence intentional to give you the experience of running out of breath), created stress for me, yet calm and rest for others.
It’s called tradition.
Some traditions are healthy and culture-sustaining. I am referring to those that are emotionally draining and spirit crushing. Check out the 1998 Psychology Today article “Surviving Holiday Hell” if you are not sure what I am talking about.
I already know there will be those who will argue that I have no right to be critical of the ways of being that keep families together. These are the people I am addressing this post to today. The ones who sustain dysfunction because it is the norm.
I’ve thrown out at few terms. Let me define them right quick. Tradition is defined as–well, it has several definitions. The one that is relevant for this post is “the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc. from generation to generation,
This is Neil. He is brilliant.
especially by word of mouth or practice.” Along those same lines, Norms are defined as “a standard, model or pattern.” There is also a mathematical definition that only Neil deGrasse Tyson would understand. That is not the one I am referring to here. Let’s focus on “the standard, model or pattern,” meaning of the word for now.
There are some patterns–routines if you will, that we engage in that are health inducing: general hygiene, moderate exercise, semi-conscious food intake–in order to sustain a more healthy way of being. It is those unhealthy patterns that have been normalized in our families and other areas of our lives that we may want to pay attention to and eventually change. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:
What impact does engaging in this pattern have on your health and sense of wellbeing (i.e. is it raising your blood pressure to unhealthy levels, are you in physical pain in this situation, or are you in full on psychological distress)?
Is nurturing a culture of silence part of the tradition, allowing others to be compromised physically, spiritually, emotionally, etc.?
Who actually benefits from upholding the traditions? Do you even know who benefits or is there an assumed “we all benefit from this experience?”
How would you view the traditions and patterns of being if you observed them anywhere other than in your surroundings?
Something that I learned in the wonderful world of therapy (Yes, Black women do therapy too.) is just because it is the norm, doesn’t make it “normal” or healthy. Patterns of dysfunction are real. Sayings that come to mind here are “that’s just the way it is” or “it has always been this way” or my favorite “it is just a part of the fabric of…” are intentional culture sustaining messages to keep unhealthy systems in place (“Mmmm, may I have extra gravy on my oppression please? Thanks!”). Just because these patterns are real and are also a part of our daily routines (alongside the healthier behaviors), does not mean they have to go unchallenged and unchanged.
Hold on there, Sister! Are you calling my family/organization/relationship OPPRESSIVE!?!
It is not about whether I would call any area of your life oppressive. That is not my call to make. The question is: If you were silent, still and willing to tell yourself some hard truths (not the easy ones that support unhealthy behaviors), would you call those areas in your life oppressive? For those who get thrown off by the O-word, how about I use some vernacular that was appropriate during last month’s holiday: Halloween.
Would you say that certain traditions in your family/organization/relationship are blood curdling, soul sucking, fear inducing, brain numbing experiences that if you weren’t so terrified you would run from them?
Please note, I am not referring to a little discomfort, which helps us grow and expand as lifelong learners.
You may know what it feels like, but are too afraid to voice it because…wait for it…it will hurt someone else’s feelings, ostracize you and create imbalance/inconvenience/incontinence for others (Incontinence, Kecia? Really?).
However, what if you changing your course of action sets generations after you on a healthier course of interacting with one another? What if:
by not forcing the children (especially girls) to hug relatives, we teach them they have full control of how they chose to interact with others and have them create ways of greeting that feel comfortable for them (how would your life be different if you had been given that choice)?
instead of all the foods that keep Type II Diabetes running through our families like a track meet, we opt for life sustaining foods (that are still well seasoned, of course)? This one is all me!
instead of accepting invitations for the annual event where packing Rolaids is required for numerous reasons, you choose to give your time interacting with those who may actually appreciate your presence–not just once or twice a year? They are closer than you think.
we changed our standards and modeled new healthier ways of being with ourselves, nature and the people around us?
I would love to hear how you are living out a more Healthy Holiday season. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To your wellbeing!
P.s. For anyone dealing with a higher than usual level of stress or depression, please do not suffer in silence! Immediately go to your local hospital if you have serious thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.
Below are a few additional resources that may be useful:
UPDATE AS OF 11-11-19: The Love of 10,000 is available in Portuguese, and Spanish!
Well, it has been a minute since I sat down to write a post for my blog.
It has been a special kind of busy — meetings with military personnel, therapists and hospital administrators discussing orders for the book for the children they serve (and subsequently their own families).
As I am writing this post, I am keenly aware of the lives of peaceful protesters that were taken in senseless acts of violence in the Sudan. In addition, Layleen Cubilette-Polanco, a trans sister died in jail on Rikers Island. Thinking of the pain that is felt around the world every day, it feels even more critical to equip our next generation leaders with messages that counter the current micro and macro messages about humanity, while doing so in as many languages as possible.
That said, we are THRILLED to announced that the first translation of the book is complete and we will be releasing the Spanish version of the book “El Amor de los 10,000” this Friday. Our team will be discussing the next group of translations in the weeks to come and we would love to hear from you! Feel free to DM me on Facebook or Instagram at kecia.writes letting me know your recommendations.
To give you a taste of what the book has to offer, watch this short video created by my “Sister in Creativity,” Shawndra Cox-Diaz Owner and Lead Designer of Out of Proportion Studios:
Well, here it goes! My first post for my 1st children’s book! I have been thrilled and horrified at the same time about publishing it. The side of me that is thrilled looks forward to releasing this gift so that kids all over the world have a reminder of how much they are loved. Not only do I want to send the message that our kids are loved, but also no matter what they may be going through, they will be all right AND they are surrounded by love they may not be able to see. A love that is rooting them on past their challenges. A love that whispers words of encouragement and power in a world that screams out messages of self-hate, shame, and fear. The decision to publish this counter-narrative is part of why I am a bit nervous (yes, I wrote horrified earlier…you will learn I am a bit dramatic).
My original intent was to write a book solely for my daughter and my nephew whose father was killed in August 2018. As I began sharing the poem with friends and colleagues, I noticed how many were moved to tears as they talked about their own experiences with the themes in the book. Once people saw the illustrations that went along with the poem, the floodgates opened up. Soon, I was hearing about stories of bullying, abuse, addiction, mental illness…you know, the stuff that we humans do when we are broken. Dealing with my own issues as a recovering “People Pleaser” and “Fixer,” my automatic reaction is to go into fix-it mode. When I cannot fix a situation (or person…that will be a whole different post), I come down really hard on myself. This feeling of guilt comes from my shame in not being able to help my sister shake her addictions which led to her death in 2002.
As an educator, I have worked with hundreds of women and seen them work their way to healthier ways of being. However, there will always be that one…the main one, who will live on in my heart as the one I let down. Now, fast forward to hearing stories from other people who have lived through unimaginable experiences, and I already feel like I am going to pass out!
As I work on developing greater self-compassion, I am realizing that if I breathe for a second (or four) and listen carefully, what I am actually hearing are not “problems to be fixed” but stories of resilience, power and love. The fact that these folks are alive to tell their stories their way, is a testimony to their strength and should be celebrated.
So, here I go. I will look forward to hearing your stories, now. Just know that I may have a few “Oh, Sweet Black and Brown Jesus!!!” moments privately. No worries, my 10,000 will set me straight!
Peace & Blessings
R.I.P. to my sister, Jacqueline Renee’ Polk (The “Love of 10,000” was written on her birthday July 15, 2018)