I Will Remain A Soldier Until The War Is Won.

Being black in the world is difficult, no matter if you were raised rich, poor, or somewhere in between. At some point, the fact that you are black will become a thing. I admit that in the past I have wished that I wasn’t black, because of the racism I experienced. I wished that people could see me, not just my skin color. Leaving North Texas for Atlanta, I got to see black people thriving in a way I’d never seen before and it has given me a sense of pride in who I am.

For the entire month of February, Black History Month, I challenged myself to post a picture and a few lines on Instagram every day about a great person in black history. I’m 16 days in and it’s been an amazing experience. It’s easy to think about Black history month in those first few days because it’s everywhere in the media. But as time rolls by I find myself just going to back to business as usual. I am my ancestors wildest dream so taking a moment to reflect on their sacrifices is the least I can do.

So many times throughout history black people could’ve given up accepted their lot, but they never did. When the arms of the oppressor had them in a choke hold they kept fighting for what they knew was right. There’s this incredible strength ingrained in African people that won’t let us stay down. That’s not to say that the war is won. Injustice is still rampant in America and beyond but I know that we won’t stop striving for equality. Through racist politicians, tiki torching white supremacy, police brutality, or whatever else this insane world throws at us we will still be here.

And for your viewing pleasure I give you The Roots performing Civil Rights freedom song “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around”

 

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Here’s To My Girls This Valentine’s Day!

As a long time single person, I could choose to be bitter about Valentine’s Day. I could roll my eyes saying: It’s a cheesy commercial holiday created to line the pockets of greeting card companies and drugstores.
While that may be true, I am looking forward to Valentine’s day because I’m spending it with good friends and good tequila.

These ladies have been the keepers of my secrets and the voice of reason in my madness. Though new jobs and new places have moved us around a bit we’ve managed to hold onto each other. We’ve all known a heartbreak or two, loving the wrong person for too long. We drink tequila not in mourning for those relationships but in celebration that they no longer have control over us.

The love I have for them isn’t romantic but it is passionate, it is steadfast, and it is forever. It deserves to be celebrated just as much as the lovers out there.

So here’s to the platonic loves of my life! May we always tell each other the truth, encourage each other, celebrate each other, laugh together, cry together, drink together, and be there for each other.

xoxo,

Tawni ❤

 

Photo by Levi Guzman on Unsplash

I’ll Be There For You…

I confess that I’ve been writing this post for months. I’ve stopped and started several times. I was afraid of sounding like a pathetic loser and maybe I do sound like one. However, I know that there are other people who feel or have felt the same way I do

Out of all the areas in my life where I haven’t felt completely fulfilled, my social life is in the top 3. I have never had what I wanted when it came to my friendships. I’ve always skirted the edges of social circles but was never really in them.
I’ve wondered over the years if maybe I had unrealistic expectations of others because of my ability to make and keep close friendships is lacking. I know my social anxiety and shyness have played a part, but I think I’ve overcome that mostly. I have a good amount of acquaintances and casual friendships but those truly meaningful ones elude me. Even in the few close friendships I do have it feels I am the one whose more invested. I’m the one making plans and wanting to hang out. It seems if I stopped texting them they wouldn’t text me either.

All I want to do is spend time with the people I care about and share new experiences with them but I find myself spending a lot of time alone. When will I be a priority in any of these relationships? A side of me just wants to quit, quit trying and just accept my lone wolf status as a part of life. But another side of me won’t quit. It keeps searching for Meetups with people who share my interests. I want to find someone who enjoys indie pop rock as much as I do and wants to go to concerts. I want to find a book club who shares my reading interests. I want to find people who share my love of spending their nights in. I want to find people who value my companionship.

The older people in my life want to see me “living it up” while I’m still young. Still, it’s hard to live it up on your own and it’s even harder (at least for me) to find people to live it up with. It’s not that I am unable to enjoy being alone. I am a tried and true introvert, I love being alone. But when you’re alone too much it weighs on you.

I confess that I’ve been writing this post for months. I’ve stopped and started several times. I was afraid of sounding like a pathetic loser and maybe I do sound like one. However, I know that there are other people who feel or have felt the same way I do and that’s who I want to hear from. Anyone else feel they’ve missed the boat on social connection? And if so what did you about it?

Love, Liberty, & Little Tragedies

I’ve had this blog for 3 years now, though it feels like much longer. This blog has been a best friend to me, giving me space to share what’s in my heart. 3 years ago I named my blog “Free Indeed” after a favored Bible verse, but I have changed so much since then and I think it’s time my blog reflects that.

Love, Liberty, & Little Tragedies

It was important to me that the new name represent what my blog means to me.
Love: I share all the things that make my heart flutter here. My favorite books, music, and whatever else is my current obsession. I love being able to share what brings me joy with others.
Liberty: Creative expression is my life’s blood. And even though we live in a world where internet trolls are plentiful, I love that on my little slice of the internet I am able to freely express myself in the best way I know how.
Little Tragedies: This comes from a piece I posted on Instagram a few weeks ago. I have dealt with anxiety, depression, and this constant feeling of being an outsider in this world my entire life, which I’ve shared here. In speaking to other women who deal with these same things I’ve found often times they can attribute their mental health issues to one event, one experience, or one person in their life. But I could never do that. I had no big tragic event, only little tragedies, little heartbreaks that happened repeatedly over my life. And that’s what I post here, the little tragedies that mark my path.

My 20’s so far have been a roller coaster of great heights and deep valley’s and most likely will continue to be. I felt that the former feel of the blog just didn’t reflect the woman I am now. So if I am going to continue to write here that must change. I hope that you dear readers enjoy the new look and feel!

Love Always,

Tawni

P.S.
Check out new About Me page here!

Photo by Ethan Hover via Unsplash

Hey 2017, Thanks for Nothing

2017 was a year that the entire world couldn’t wait to begin after a tragic 2016. But little did we know that while we sipped champagne and sang Auld Lang Syne, or if you’re like me nursed a cold and binge-watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer to bring in the new year, that 2017 was not going to be that much better. 2017 brought more mass shootings, more hate crimes, more disasters, a truckload of sexual misconduct allegations, and let’s not forget that Cheeto puff who leads this country showed us just how awful he is.

This worsening of the things in the world was mirrored in my personal life. Everything that cracked in 2016 crumbled in 2017 and I find myself headed into 2018 with very little hope. This is unusual for me, I may not get into Christmas or Thanksgiving but I actually really like New Years. All that hope and excitement of a new beginning usually warms my heart. But this year a cold wind passes through me where my heart used to be.

Honestly, I’m scared of 2018. I’m scared that the Trump administration will continue to step on the necks of the marginalized. I’m scared that another disturbed person will take a gun to a crowded concert, or mow down pedestrians on the street. I’m scared that white supremacists will find new and terrifying ways to spread their message of hate. I’m scared that wildfires will continue to ravage southern California. I’m afraid that more people will die in the Middle East. I’m afraid that I won’t find hope again. I’m afraid that my depression will worsen. I’m afraid that 2018 will be just as heartbreaking as 2017.

So how do you respond when the world is a garbage can rolling downhill?

Some of us will run to our faith and hold on for dear life. Some of us will throw ourselves into some kind of human service. Some of us will turn to drugs and alcohol. Some of us will take our own lives.

How will I respond? Not sure yet.

So here’s to you 2017. Thanks for showing us that things can definitely get worse. And 2018 for God’s sake please have mercy.

Photo by Kristopher Roller via unsplash

My Top Five Favorite Albums of 2017

A lot of amazing music came out this year and narrowing it down to just 5 albums was very hard but I did it! I listed albums that I not only listened to but devoured. Every song, every lyric, affected me in different ways. I am very diverse in my listening tastes so there’s a couple of different genres on my list. So here it goes!

5. Big Mess by Grouplove
I’ve been fan of Grouplove for awhile because their music is fun. It makes you want to jump up and down and scream the lyrics as loud as you can. And this album delivered that same carefree vibe. I often played it while driving in the miserable Atlanta traffic. I recommend this lighthearted listen to fans of indie rock who just want to feel good.
Fave tracks: Do you love someone, Traumatized, Good Morning

4. The Thrill of it All by Sam Smith
Sam Smith is the male Adele, he specializes in ballads about heartbreak. And I love it. Give me heavy piano and lyrics about a man who done you wrong and I am there. His unique voice is raw, honest, and it pulls at your heartstrings. You’ll be staring longingly into the horizon recalling all your relationships. Top 40 radio will play his singles 5 times an hour, but don’t let that lead you away from the album, it’s most definitely worth a listen.
Face tracks: No peace, Nothing left for you, Say it first

3. The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone by Lee Ann Womack
After listening to this album my first question was: Who hurt you Lee Ann?? These 14 tracks are all heavy, gritty, blues. Lee Ann is one of my favorite voices in country music but I don’t think I’ve ever heard her quite like this. I like dark Lee Ann, she seen some things, been through some things and she knows how to convey those experiences into a cohesive album. The first track All the trouble pretty much sets the tone. It’s an anthem for times when life is throwing everything at you at once. I recommend this album for those days when you are pissed off at the world, mama Lee Ann will let you know that you are not alone.
Fave tracks: All the trouble, Wicked, Someone else’s heartache

2. DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
I would’ve been crazy to not add Kendrick’s newest on this list. He’s killing it right now. Rap music isn’t my favorite genre I’ll admit, but there’s no denying how good Lamar’s music is. It’s innovative, relevant, and unafraid. The album is an intimate journey into his personal struggles. Some of the tracks are hard, songs that you’ll turn the bass all the way up for, while others are subdued songs that will make you sway. I applaud Lamar for his willingness to be transparent, that’s what make his art so amazing. He puts his blood, sweat, and tears into it and comes out as this beautiful piece of rap history.
Fave Tracks: ELEMENT, DNA, PRIDE

1. Ctrl by SZA 
This album spoke to me the most this year. Ctrl is basically the experience of being 20 something wrapped up in 14 tracks with a bow on top. Self-doubt, lack of direction, crappy decisions and all that other madness that comes with not being a girl, but not yet a woman. As a 20 something myself I heard a lot of my own thoughts in her lyrics. There’s a pendulum in my mind, some days I feel confident, sexy, and ready to break some hearts. And other days I feel like I am going nowhere, and don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Both of these attitudes are represented in the album. In the song The Weekend, she asserts her sexy in being the confident side chick. But in the song Drew Barrymore she presents a less assured SZA who struggles with loneliness and self-worth.  So thank you Ms. SZA for providing a voice to the 20 something gals out here trying to live their best life.
Fave Tracks: Drew Barrymore, The Weekend, 20 Something

 

So that’s it! What were your favorite album releases this year??

My Top 5 Favorite Books of the Year

This year has been a great year in books. As I get older I am finding that I am choosing more books not only entertain but make me a better and more aware person. I love reading about strong women overcoming great odds. I hope by reading books like this a little of their strength will pass on to me.

5. Final Girls by Riley Sager
Quinn Carpenter survived a horrible mass murder right out of a horror movie. She belongs to a trio of women called the “Final Girls” since they all were the last ones standing after horrible crimes. But one of the Final Girls has died under mysterious circumstances, and the other Final Girl has shown up on Quinn’s doorstep. What does it all mean!!
I was actually surprised by how much I liked this book. I half expected it to start out slow like most mysteries and build but it had me at the first page. Once you start it, you won’t be able to not finish it.

4. The Unkillable Kitty O’Kane by Colin Falconer
Only one word describes Kitty O’Kane, survivor. Born in the slums of Ireland and raised by an abusive father, she goes on to be one of the few survivors of the Titanic, and the sinking of the RMS Lithuania in WWI. Just how much tragedy can one life handle? If you’re Kitty O’Kane a lot. Despite every set back, she finds a way to keep moving forward.
Though some of the historical facts in this book might be off, it’s still a testament to the human spirit. Kitty suffered through abuse, wars, famine, bad relationships and somehow found the will to keep going. If it had been me, I don’t think I would’ve made it. She was dogged in her pursuit of happiness, vowing she would never return to the slums of her childhood, or be under the thumb of a man. I love a story about a strong woman making her own path by whatever means necessary. I also loved that she wasn’t perfect, she made some very clear mistakes which came back to bite her but she learned from them. I want to get this one in hardcover so I can treasure it forever.

3. One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays by Scaachi Koul
Koul, a writer for BuzzFeed, through hilarious essays gives us a peek into the life of a millennial Indian-American woman. She touches on topics like interracial dating, growing up as the only person of color in her school, body hair and other joys of womanhood.
I love when a book literally makes me laugh out loud. And though I am not Indian, and don’t come from immigrant parents, I still found Koul’s essays relatable on the level of being a millennial women of color in today’s world. I love the how she shared about the prejudices within the Indian community which I knew about but didn’t know all the facts. At the end of every chapter she shared email conversations between her and her father which were so funny. For me, Koul is one of those writers that I look up to. I only hope to be as sharp and as hilarious as she is one day.

2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Starr is high school girl who witnesses the shooting death of her childhood friend, a young black man who was unarmed, by a police officer. The drama that follows is life defining, not only for Starr but for her family and friends.
This book is right on time considering all of the deaths of unarmed black men by police in recent news. In this book you get a front row seat to the lives of those directly effected by these deaths. I cried with Starr, I laughed with her, I got angry with her. I wondered how would’ve handled witnessing something like that. How I would’ve handled news outlets and even friends disrespecting my dead friend. I love when a novel makes you self reflect, but still is an enjoyable read. I recommend this book to everyone no matter their age or race. It definitely gives some very good perspective on what it’s like being black in America. They’re currently making a movie based on this book and I hope they do it justice.

1. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid 
In a country that’s never named somewhere in the middle east war has broken out. It’s terrible timing for Nadia and Saeed because they have just fallen in love. In a very short time they entire lives have turned completely upside down and they are forced to flee their home or die. There are rumors of doors that have popped up around the city that lead to different countries. Are these doors real? Real or not Nadia and Saeed have got to try.
This book is so relevant because at this very moment in places like Syria and Yemen conditions are abysmal and the people are desperate to flee. I love how Hamid presented a somewhat magical solution to the problem, because honestly it seems that fixing these countries is an impossible feat that no man can handle. Saeed and Nadia’s relationship is so interesting in this book because they’d only just began their relationship when all hell breaks loose. Now they are going through this crazy traumatic event together. Will they still be together when it’s all said and done? You’ll have to read and find out.
This book gives light to the immigrant experience and all the hardships that come with that. I definitely finished the book with a better understanding and more empathy for my immigrant brothers and sisters. In a country where they are regarded with contempt and hatred by the people in power, books like this are absolutely needed to wake the sleeping.