#InMyFeelingsFriday: Nina Cried Power

You watch these politicians you didn’t vote for make decisions you don’t support and you feel powerless.

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It’s not the war but what’s behind it
Lord, the fear of foul men is mere assignment
And everythin’ that we’re denied by keepin’ the divide
It’s not the wakin’, it’s the risin

Like many Americans I have woken up to news headlines that have both flabbergasted and frightened me. You watch these politicians you didn’t vote for make decisions you don’t support and you feel powerless. So when I heard “Nina Cried Power” off of Hozier’s newest album “Wasteland Baby!” I felt it captured perfectly that weariness. He sings “it’s not the wakin, its the risin”. When I hear those lines I interpret it as the heaviness that you feel when you wake to bad news. Opening my eyes was the easy part but getting up and dealing with the ways of the world now that’s a little harder.

The song is a protest song that honors other artist who were known for their protest songs. Songs like Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddamn”, Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”, and The Staples Singers’ “Freedom Highway.” These songs are as relevant as they were back in the Civil Rights Era as woman and people of color continue to be denied their rights. Staples Singer member Mavis Staples is even featured on the song providing that bridge to the past.

Art in it’s various mediums is a great way to broadcast political messages. Music is able to communicate to the world a powerful message in a three-four minute enjoyable package. Hozier isn’t American, he hails from Ireland but I appreciate his tribute to the protest singers before him in this highly contentious time in our country.


And I could cry power (power)
Power (power)
Power, Lord
Nina cried power
Billie cried power
Mavis cried power

(Photo by Shawn Hoke)

Under Pressure

Do you feel that? 

That pressure all around you? 

that’s the weight of being alive 

the heaviness of indecision

the force to be successful

the burden to take care of those who depend on you

the energy to take care of yourself

the pull to be happy

the need to be in control

the drive to keep going, when you want to give up

the hope that’s a fire within you.

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

Loving Your Life When You’re A Late Bloomer

 

Sometimes loving my life is a fight.

I am not at the place I wanted to be at this time in my life. It took some time for me to find my passion and even more time to find the courage to begin to go after that passion. I look back and I wonder what life would look like if I’d believed in myself back then. My peers are firmly planted in their careers, getting married, having children, pursuing post-grad degrees and me? I’m pursuing a bachelors degree, something I’ve been doing off and on for the past 9 almost 10 years. There’s nothing wrong with this, my rational brain knows this, we’re all on our own journey’s. But I can’t help but scroll through my Facebook feed and wish I’d done things differently. I can’t help but wonder, as I go everyday to a job I don’t love how did I get here?

I’d love to play the blame game, blame my parents for not pushing to me enough. Blame the public school system for my so-so education that didn’t prepare me at all for college. I can’t even really be upset at myself because there’s no way I could’ve known how the decisions I made when I was 18 or 19 would have affected my life today. This is where I am, I can’t go back and I am making moves to change my situation. I’ve never stopped pursuing my education and trying to better my life. That is something to be proud of. Where others might have given up, I haven’t. Because I refuse to be unhappy forever, I refuse to be stagnant. I want my life to have purpose and meaning, not mundane drudgery which it seems it’s always has been.

So how do I love my life in the meantime? How do I love the climb when it’s arduous? How do I look at myself and not see someone whose failed to launch when my peers have left me behind? How do I stay focused on the bigger picture, when the devil is the details?

 

Photo by João Ferreira on Unsplash

When A Writer Isn’t Writing

Writing is a part of me. And just like any other creative pursuit it has to come from a real place to be impactful. I can’t edit certain parts of my life to please anyone.

Me: "Dear writing gods, forgive me for I have sinned. It has been five months since I last posted on my blog."

Writing Gods: "My daughter what has caused you to leave your creativity to gather dust?"

Me: "Fear."

Ernest Hemingway once said that there is nothing to writing, you just sit down to the typewriter and bleed.

I find myself with a fear of blood.

There was a time when I bared and bled the pains and humiliations of my life on this blog, sometimes at the behest of my family. I felt no embarrassment because I believed I was giving a voice to things that others felt but never had the nerve to say out loud. But even in my transparency I was still writing through the lens of what certain people would think.

In the spirit of honesty I’ll just say who those “certain people” are, my Christian friends and acquaintances who have always been so great with reading and supporting my blog. So I made sure to stay conservative. But some things have happened in my life that felt too raw to share. Things that could possibly offend or concern my Christian community.

I used to revel in the task of organizing my thoughts on paper and getting them out of my head, however there is finality in writing. Once I write something down then it’s real, and I can no longer deny that this is how I feel or what I’ve decided. Blogging is a public forum and there is potential for negative commentary from others.
Despite these facts I’m still driven by this need to comfort those who might be experiencing the same thing and find vindication for myself.

Writing is a part of me. And just like any other creative pursuit it has to come from a real place to be impactful. I can’t edit certain parts of my life to please anyone. It’s my experience and no one can take that away from me.
So I guess this is me apologizing to the writing gods, this blog, my readers, and most importantly myself for not using my gift. I will do better, promise. ♥

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.

 

 

 

 

I Am My Own #Goals

Life has literally taken a bat to everything I held dear, so while I am rebuilding, all of my goals are under construction. 

When my friend Terasha thought up this blog challenge “I am my own #goals” I inwardly groaned. The phrase brings to mind someone who is out there getting things done personally and professionally and doesn’t need to look to social media for their goals in life. Personally and professionally I’m flailing and I have been guilty of coveting the lives of people on social media who seem to have it “together”. Life has literally taken a bat to everything I held dear, so while I am rebuilding, all of my goals are under construction.

I’m trying to be okay with being on this undefined road. They say there is something to be learned from every season of your life and I want to give myself the chance to learn from this experience. What I’m learning is that just like seasons change, goals change too. You could be moments from the finish line and realize this wasn’t the right race for you. And that’s completely okay, there is no definite map.

I’m discovering that comparing yourself with others is pointless. We scroll through our feeds seeing our peers sailing through life, living out their dreams or so it seems. Social media only shows a slice of that person’s life, not the whole pie. That person may have fought, cried, and bled to get to where they are. They could be terribly unhappy while still smiling in their Instagram post. I can’t compare my entire life to a slice of someone else’s. I have to figure out what is right for me, and what I want to accomplish and I won’t find that on social media, I am my own #goals.

Photo by Nolan Issac on Unsplash

New Year, Better Me: Pursuing Peace in 2017

It seems that some people have been put on this earth just to try my patience. But it can be done, I’m not saying I’ll never be offended. I’m only saying that I can control how I respond to the offense.

 

 

 “For the one who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good—whether apparent or not]. Must keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from speaking guile (treachery, deceit) He must turn away from wickedness and do what is right.

He must search for peace [with God, with self, with others] and pursue it eagerly [actively—not merely desiring it].”

1 Peter 3:10-11  AMP

 

I am on the pursuit for peace. Peace with God, peace with myself, but mostly peace with others.
Since I’ve been at my current job I have struggled with some difficult personalities, that’s nothing new in itself but when coworkers offended me I would hold on to that offense. I’d let it fester, replaying what they said in my mind over and over. Eventually it would turn into resentment, negative thoughts towards that person, and ultimately unforgiveness. I’d eventually move on but it would take some time, a lot of prayer, and a lot of scripture.

But what if I didn’t have to do all that?  What if I could save myself the time and stress and not let it bother me at all?

Easier said than done I know. It seems that some people have been put on this earth just to try my patience. But it can be done, I’m not saying I’ll never be offended. I’m only saying that I can control how I respond to the offense. I can choose to not to let it take up valuable real estate in my mind. So instead of reacting negatively and harboring resentment and unforgiveness, which is sin, instead I can rise above the anger not letting it disturb my peace.

“Good sense and discretion make a man slow to anger,
And it is his honor and glory to overlook a transgression or an offense [without seeking revenge and harboring resentment]. “

Proverbs 19:11 AMP

I love that verse. It’s my honor and glory to overlook an offense. Nothing is gained from harboring resentment, but by letting it go God can be glorified. How you ask? Well we live in a world that LOVES confrontation. Just watch any reality TV show or scroll through your Facebook feed. There is plenty of videos of fights and vague venting. The world feeds on strife and discord. So when an employee comes for me, they are expecting clapback but I’m not going to give it to them. Instead of reacting with attitude I can peaceably communicate my concerns, rejecting worldly behavior and embracing Godly behavior.
If the conversation does not go as planned, or I don’t think a consensus was reached. I must not take that anger home with me because it will lead to sin.

“In your anger do not sin.” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Ephesians 4:26-27

On a less spiritual note, letting someone disturb my peace gives that person power over me and that is just unacceptable. I won’t let trivial work stuff control my mood or my day anymore.

One thing I have done to help with my pursuit of peace is write down Proverbs 19:11 on a sticky note and tape it to my desk. Whenever I start to feel irritated or frustrated I read it. I’ve also added asking for peace to my daily prayers.

I’m interested if others have struggled with offense and peace. What helps you get through it?