Everyday Inspiration, Day Nine: Writing and Not Writing

What do you do when you’re not writing? How do you reset and return to the dashboard, refreshed?

-WordPress, Blogging University
Two words and two words only answer that question. Live music.

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What do you do when you’re not writing? How do you reset and return to the dashboard, refreshed?

-WordPress, Blogging University

Two words and two words only answer that question. Live music.

Next to Jesus and writing, music is one of my great loves. There’s nothing like an amazing piece of music to stir you up. Music can transport you back in time, make you wonder, make you dream. Music is the musicians heart, live music is that heart on display.  The artist will tell you why he or she wrote that song, what inspired it, and the music will take on new meaning. Maybe it was deep deep love, or ugly heartbreak, or the miracle of new life.
I live for that, I live for the story of how the music came to be, because it inspires me to take the stories of my life and create something with it.

Isn’t that what all art is? Taking the human condition and creating with it.

 

*Original Photos

Everyday Inspiration, Day Five: Hook ’Em With a Quote

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I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all.
Zora Neale Hurston

A Reconciliation To Blackness


When I was a little girl I preferred white dolls to black ones. I remember a home video of my 5th birthday at Chuck-E-Cheese where I complained at the sight of a black baby doll. “I wanted a white one.” I complained. This frustrated my parents who could not understand this preference of mine so they continued to buy me black dolls. I’ve always wondered why I was like this. I hadn’t experienced racism yet. I had no self-hatred or shame towards my race. I can only guess it was because I had no representations of black women in the books and TV shows I watched. There was no black Disney princesses at this time, no black kids starring in the shows or movies I enjoyed. All the characters I loved were white.
I loved Barbie as most girls did, but it was white Barbies that mostly graced store shelves. And the what did I have in common with the black Barbie? Other than her skin tone? And really not even that, she came only in a dark brown shade and I was not that. Her hair wasn’t like mine, and neither were her features. She was a darker version and that’s it. A second-rate copy, no more similar to me than white Barbie.

As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t experience racism in my early childhood. Although I was among one of the few black students in my classes surrounded by Latinos and Asians, the other kids never made me feel any different. Maybe because we were all growing up in a culturally diverse area and we were used to it. It wasn’t until I left the tolerant west and came to the not as tolerant south that all that changed.
It was made very clear to me early on that here in the south my “blackness” mattered to everyone. First of all the school I intended had been segregated in the 60’s. This shook me because in California, America’s checkered past wasn’t so easily seen. The buildings were newer, historic areas weren’t common. But even though the school wasn’t segregated anymore the students acted as if it was. The white kids hung out with the white kids, the black kids with the black kids, latinos with latinos. Furthermore certain races were expected to walk and talk a certain way. If you didn’t act “black” then you were acting white and therefore trying to be something that you’re not. This was made known to me the moment I opened my mouth to speak, I got some very confused looks followed by a “Where you from?”
I had no twang and used no slang, and was soft spoken. None of this was “typical” of black girls and therefore I was talking like a white girl. Up until to this moment no one had ever commented on the way I spoke. Not only did I not talk like them, I didn’t enjoy the same music or activities. I was shunned and branded a “Barbie.” Go figure.

So there I was in a social no man’s land. Not black enough for the black kids, but still too black for the whites and latinos. So I fell in with rest of the rejects, the gays, the pothead’s, and other troubled teens. They didn’t seem to care what I looked like, or how I spoke.
This unofficial segregation wasn’t only in the schools, it rippled through the rest of the small city of Amarillo, TX. There was a clear-cut area which was the black side of town, which in itself isn’t that uncommon. What perplexed me is that the blacks rarely even ventured out of their side of town as if there was an invisible wall around the east side of Amarillo. So when me and my family would go to restaurants and stores anywhere else in town we were usually the only black people. I can remember vividly one night when my family and I went to a Mexican restaurant, it wasn’t upscale in any way just your average family restaurant. As we entered the entire restaurant stopped what they were doing and looked at us. You’d think we were aliens dressed in purple the way we got everyone’s attention. They served us and the waiter was polite but no one expected us to be eating there. 2007 and a black family in a restaurant was unexpected!
Over time I came to expect uneasy stares because that’s usually where it ended. But one day as I was strolling through the “white” Wal-mart, that wasn’t where it ended. I was walking through the aisle and as I walked by this elderly white woman she pulled her purse closer to her.
“I don’t want your purse you old hag!” I wanted to yell.
She didn’t know but she had offended me deeply.
I hated that my “blackness” carried automatic suspicion. I hated that my “blackness” was the first thing people saw. Most of all I hated that this was accepted by everyone.

I was so glad when I left the accepted racism of small town America for the big city. I’ve heard Altanta called the “Black capital of America.” Not sure if that’s true or not but I know I found it very rereshing to able to walk through Target without drawing one iota of attention. In Amarillo it was rare that you saw a black face in Target, it was too “bougie.” But here I was in Atlanta in a Target where everyone was black!  Everywhere you looked there was black people, in nearly every part of the city! There were affluent areas filled with black families! It was hard to find a well off black family in Amarillo, let alone a whole neighborhood filled with them. Maybe Atlanta is the “black capital of America”, it defnitely is the black capital of the south. Are things perfect here? Of course not, racism in America is a chasm that runs very deep. It is an anomaly though  because the moment you leave the Metro-Atlanta area things start to look like more like the traditional south.

I’m grateful to Atlanta for patching up my racial wounds. I’m now surrounded by black people who are not “tragically colored” but are educated, empowered and independent. I am proud to be counted as one of them.

 

 

*Photo by John W. Mosley

 

 

Everyday Inspiration, Day Four: A Story in a Single Image

We’re all so busy aren’t we? We keep our calendars filled from sun up till sun down with activities whether work or social. We rush from place to place always in a hurry, gritting our teeth in never-ending traffic.

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Images — including photographs and works of art — can as starting points for stories, essays, poems, and personal musings.

WordPress: Blogging University

 

We’re all so busy aren’t we? We keep our calendars filled from sun up till sun down with activities whether work or social. We rush from place to place always in a hurry, gritting our teeth in never-ending traffic.
Then at the end of the day we complain that there is still not enough time and not enough money to do everything we want to do.
Our minds are programmed that they must always be busy doing something. Even in our down time we entertain our minds with Facebook and Instagram or any other app that can keep our attention. We want nothing to do with having nothing to do, so we keep going and going until our stress levels are so high that we are forced to stop.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Why do we place our rest and state of mind in last place?

I find myself these days yearning for something else. A change a pace or scenery because I’m so tired of the grind. Traffic in the morning and the afternoon and the evening. Traffic all the time. All the emails, texts, chats, because someone is always talking. Someone always wants something, needs something, or demands something of you.
I feel as if I am holding the entire world together with just glue and string because I am barely holding on. For once I’d like to wake up not feeling burdened by obligation. Not feeling like I’m only surviving but not thriving.

How does a girl escape her own world?

 

 

*Photo by Nicolai Bernsten

 

 

Ain’t It Fun?

For me my 20’s have been this crazy difficult maze, full of painful wrong turns, and a few happy right ones. It’s difficult because on the one hand your an adult in the eyes of the world. You can vote, drink, rent a car, get a grown up job. But on the other hand you’re trying your darndest to grow up as quickly as possible so you can handle it all. There’s so much to figure out and you’ve got to navigate it while also trying to shake off those childhood insecurities.

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When I was in my twenties, it felt like I was riding wild horses, and I was hoping I didn’t go over a cliff.
-Chaka Khan

Truer words have never been spoken, thank you Ms. Khan for such an accurate description. This is exactly how I feel now, like I have no control over my life I’m at the whim of this crazy world and at any moment it’s going to hurl me off a cliff to which there is no coming back.
Your 20’s are the prime of your life, vital or so that’s what they say. Well I suppose it’s true I guess. For me my 20’s have been this crazy difficult maze, full of painful wrong turns, and a few happy right ones. It’s difficult because on the one hand your an adult in the eyes of the world. You can vote, drink, rent a car, get a grown up job. But on the other hand you’re trying your darndest to grow up as quickly as possible so you can handle it all. There’s so much to figure out and you’ve got to navigate it while also trying to shake off those childhood insecurities.
Sometimes you hardly know whether you’re coming or going. You don’t know when you should stand up and endure or throw in the towel and go put “This Woman’s Work” on repeat and crawl in bed with a box or tissues. Sometimes you want to do both at the same time! You’re trying figure out what you need and what you want in life. And if it’s okay to have some things in your life just because you want them and don’t need them. That elusive “career” your supposed to have is looming over your head like a big dark rain cloud. And the even more elusive relationship you would like to have is showing its ugly face too.
You love your life one day then hate it the next and the day after that you’re indifferent. You want to have a more mature spiritual life but pop culture is bombarding you with everything that goes against it. You want to have fun and have crazy adventures but your bank account is telling you it isn’t possible. Not to mention the debt that you’re trying to ignore is holding a knife to your back.
Sometimes you want to go off the grid and live off the land for awhile. But then you remember how attached you are to things like Wi-Fi and your favorite pair of boots that just aren’t made for the wilderness.
Every single decision you make you wonder if you’re going to regret it when your 30.
You wish someone would just understand but it seems no one does. You look to your elders for advice but they seem to have forgotten what it’s like. They’re either at a loss for words or they give you some generic advice that you could easily find in a crappy self help book.
You’re an adult and it’s all up to you- oh happy day.
All this and you’re supposed to be a functioning human being!

I wish I had some great advice for my fellow 20 something’s out there but I don’t. I wish I could tell you the secret to handling it all but I can’t. I’m clawing my way through it just like you. All I can tell you is to take it one day at a time. If you need to cry take a moment and do it. If you feel like breaking something, don’t. Go take a kickboxing class or something, and get that frustration out. Don’t let anyone undermine what you’re going through. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you don’t have problems. Tell them to take a seat and keep it moving, they aren’t living your life. Try to have fun when you can, try some new things, and lastly just know that you are going to make it, somehow.

*photo credit

Charleston

In our daily lives we come into contact with numerous people. We smile and greet them, we hold the door open for them, we give them directions, all without a second thought. But little do we know that one of those people is brimming with hate, he is entertaining violent fantasies, he is a bomb ready for mass destruction. Little do we know everytime we come into contact with him we are risking our lives. This man means us harm, he loathes our peace. He has set out to steal our joy. He has set out to spread the grief and pain he feels within himself.