It’s My Party……

And I cried because I NEEDED to,

You would cry too if you walked in my shoes.

Yesterday was my 31st birthday.

It was yet another year of celebrating life in the middle of this pandemic. Unlike most birthdays before last year, I wasn’t genuinely excited.

I knew that this year would be somewhat different since I now live in Texas and most of my family and friends live in North Carolina. 

It began as one of the most “un-birthday-est” birthdays ever. 

I’m used to celebrating throughout the week amongst friends, family and strangers alike. 

Karaoke.

Dinners.

Bar hops.

Vineyards.

Smoking cigars.

Kayaking.

Connecting with nature, 

Hood rat shit with my friends.

This pandemic forced me to do some serious shadow working.

I have had breakdowns galore. 

I have had some rough wild nights.

My support system is A1. 

This revolution around the sun is propelling me forward. I feel it. 

Leering go of the things that torement me. The things that kept me bound. The things that lived rent free in my head for far too long.

It was hindering all that I was trying to manifest.

And on my birthday things changed. 

There was shift. The good finally about to outweigh the bad. 

I got that message very loud and clear. 

Yesterday was an entire party just for me.

And dammit I cried!

Thank you all for allowing me to share this space with you in this lifetime. 

Time to rebrand.

CORONAVIRUS, THAT SHIT IS REAL

None of us saw it coming.

I’d just driven half way across the country to start my new journey in Texas.

Happy as hell to be working 2 jobs.

On the brink of my 30th birthday.

Finally adjusting to the hustle and bustle of Austin tolls and traffic.

Enjoying all the soldier eye candy at Walmart.

Then boom.

CORONA VIRUS! THAT SHIT IS REAL!

Just when I started feeling more inner peace again. Gotten my anxiety and depression back under control.

Just as I was preparing to show Texas just how ready I was to take it on.

A whole world epidemic. Like the whole world.

Now I find myself, the social butterfly that I am, being forced to sacrifice a bit of my “extrovertedness” for the sake of humanity.

Literally.

Luckily I’ve been keeping myself informed, entertained and calm during this “new norm.”

As always, I wanted to share some ideas on a few things that you can do (mostly things I’ve been doing). Below is my suggested list of “things to do during Da Rona.”

Clean Up Those Emails

I don’t know when, why or how my inbox got up to 3,674 emails. I don’t know that many people. I don’t even conduct that much business. Since going through said emails, I’ve realized three things. One, I need to stop giving my email to the masses. The next time a store asks for my email, I HAVE to decline. Two, I need to check my emails more often. Read then delete. That way they won’t just collect. Three, remember that there is always an “unsubscribe” button or “manage my preferences” link at the bottom of the email. Use it.

Freshen Up Your Resume

COVID-19 served as a brutal reminder for many of us, our jobs aren’t secure. So, when was the last time you looked at your resume? Do you have one? If you had to explain what you do in your role, could you? There are hella resources available online to help and/or tweak your resume. Go even further. When was the last time that you looked at how much the job market is paying for your skillset? What if you find out that you’re being underpaid and overworked? What’s next?

Start/Create A Workout Routine

Umm. We may be confined to our homes but we can still go outside. You do know that the primary source of Vitamin D is the sun right? Even if it’s only for ten minutes. Breathe some fresh air. Walk to the mailbox. Jump some rope. Smell some flowers. Put your feet in some grass. Since being in the house, I decided to start walking at least a mile everyday since I’ve been snacking. Now is a good time to remember that summer body that you promised yourself.

Your 2020 Vision Board

Where the hell is it? It’s March. What’s checked off? What can be rearranged? What’s new since COVID-19 displaced your original plans? Have you decided to start a new business? Do you need to completely ditch your old vision board? Have you been inspired to create a new one? What are some habits that have hindered you thus far? How do you plan to address them?

What’s In Your Closet

When was the last time you took an inventory of your “drip?” What still has tags on it? I forced myself to toss everything that I haven’t worn within the last three months into a Plato’s Closet “sell” pile. The same goes for shoes. Purses. Hats. Scarves. Old bridesmaid dresses. All of it. I had to ask myself……do I really need all of these clothes? The answer is always no. Now everything is organized. Business in the front. Party in the back.

Learn A New Skill

Everything that you could possibly want to know is somewhere on Al Gore’s internet. There are plenty of free and paid resources online and of course my favorite go-to- YouTube University. Anything that you can imagine is likely readily accessible to you. Photography. Makeup. Basketweaving. I’m currently learning Scrum and Agile concepts to make myself more marketable. Can’t find what you’re looking for online? Ask an expert. Someone somewhere knows what you are wanting to learn. But don’t be showed if they require a fee. Be mindful that this can be considered a consultation. It’s business. Not personal.

Reflect

Ask yourself, am I living the life that I want? Am I simply living and not existing? How and when did shit go left? Sometimes we get accustomed to the hustle and bustle of everyday life and now we are forced to sit still and self-reflect. This process isn’t easy even for folks that do it intentionally. Be gentle with yourself and remember that at any moment, you can change the narrative.

Phone A Friend

Using this time to catch up with friends has proved to be super therapeutic. If you’re anything life me, you prefer video calls over phone calls and texts. Apps and services such as FaceTime, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are clutch when you want to connect with loved ones. I love seeing faces. I’ve taken advantage of this time to catch up without having to wear pants or leave home.

Hi….My Name Is….

Are your friends considered “essential?” Are they stuck at work and you aren’t? What better time than now to meet new people…virtually and in passing of course. Keep those 6 feet. There are plenty of people online to strike up conversations with. It’s simply a matter of being strategic about how and when to initiate the conversation. And don’t be a creep. I mean, look at how many of us showed up for “Club Rona” online!

Take A Look, It’s In A Book

Remember when you said that you wanted to read more this year? Well. What book did you choose? There’s still time. All pun intended. If you prefer to read as part of a collective, there are a ton of online communities to be actively engaged in. Now, more than ever, I’m seriously considering revamping Pretty Dope Reads Book Club to be an online platform. Oh, and don’t forget Audible. Reading is fundamental but comprehension is the goal. Can’t find a book you want to read? Write one.

Again. These are only suggestions. It is also okay to rest. To relax. To do absolutely nothing. We have always lived in uncertain times but this shit here takes the cake. My prayer is that you stay safe but most importantly sane. For those of us with anxiety and depression, this is a very vulnerable time. Try to find the silver lining in everyday. This too shall pass.

And Don’t Forget!

We’ve finally reached the most controversial holiday season of the year. Tis the season of cheer, fellowship, joy, love and traditions. Tis also the season of ungratefulness, greed, loneliness and feelings of inadequacy. Now I’m not saying that it isn’t okay to be joyous. I’m simply asking you to be mindful.

Here are a few reasons why.

Working in retail during the holidays turned me off from Christmas a long time ago. I’ve never been a materialistic person and retail simply reassured me of how unnecessary it is to “buy gifts.” This glorious year reminded me that “going against the norm” is completely okay. Nothing happens if you don’t buy anything. Most people only buy gifts because people make them feel bad if they don’t. Priorities get all fucked up for Christmas. I personally know people that forgo rent payments and car notes for the sake of buying gifts. RENT!!!!!!!!!!!! There are also people pulling 80 hour work weeks for “Christmas money.”

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That’s when it takes the unhealthy turn. So with that being said, check on your friends that are acting frantic and physically draining themselves during this holiday season.

I have students that will be experiencing their first Christmas without a parent. Other students being forced to decide which parent that they are spending Christmas with.

There is someone that will wake up to nothing and alone on Christmas Day.

There is someone that YOU know that is forbidden to celebrate with their families because they came out of the closet earlier this year.

The scenarios are endless.

Check on your friends that have to be strong during this holiday season.

It can also be stressful for us twenty somethings that are going against other societal norms – the single passion-driven kidless kind.

Those that actually choose (because you’re grown now and you do have a choice) to spend time with family during the holidays. Shoutout out to those with healthy family dynamics but this for the folks being summoned by their dysfunctional and/or toxic family members.

It happens every year. You actually look forward to going home to spend time (this time). You’ve mentally prepared. You prepared a dish. Arrived on time. Greeted everyone. Plates have been prepared. As folks are finishing up, folks are starting to chatter and somehow the focus of the conversation has shifted to you.

So what do you do now?

I had a friend that did that, and they didn’t make any money.

Passions don’t pay the bills.

So where’s your man at?

You’re still not thinking about kids? You’re almost 30.

So whats’s the five year plan?

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Check on your folks that are actually spending time with their families (*especially folks down South that have been brainwashed into believing that respect is only reserved for the elderly by way of “minding your manners and respecting or not sassing your elders” even when they’re wrong).

How about everybody check on everybody?

Museum of Thought: Poetic Perspectives from Adolescence Volume 1

I remember being 13 and experiencing my first thoughts of suicide. I remember bouncing back and between thoughts of hanging myself or overdosing on prescription painkillers. It would be safe, clean and painless. Self-inflicted pain was never my “thing.”

 

Museum of Thought: Poetic Perspectives in Adolescence is a poetic time capsule of my depression. My words sometimes served as a therapeutic release. It was my outlet, but oftentimes I felt that it wasn’t enough. I cried a lot in silence. When I wasn’t crying, I was writing. When I wasn’t crying or writing, I was reading. All the while, nobody in my immediate family knew. I had a few friends that knew how I felt but could only offer the type of support that kids could offer, friendships. I harbored more than my share of negative feelings and emotions.

 

If I allow others to tell my story, they’d assure you that I was happy. I was always smiling and being silly. I was always the “pretty and smart girl that’s going to do well in life.” That’s always been and unfortunately continues to be the narrative that people tell about me. I grew to hate it. It was the image of a person that others created for me, with good intentions I’ll assume.

 

Pretty and smart girls don’t fuck up. Oops, I said fuck. Taboo. Pretty and smart girls do well in school, decline peer pressure, drugs and alcohol (ALWAYS), go to church religiously, don’t have sex casually and marry the guys of their dreams. That’s a whole lot of pressure to be under. A pressure that I never asked for.

 

Oh yeah. And pretty and smart girls damn sure don’t deal with depression.

 

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I’ve never been one to complain and I’m still not extremely comfortable with sharing things that bother me. When you’ve voiced things that bothered you and nothing changed or you’ve been punished for your voice, it forces you to go dormant sometimes. When you’ve voiced things that bothered you and you’ve been judged, it forces you to keep them to yourself and figure it out on your own. That was me for 18 years. For the past 10 years, I’ve been trying to determine exactly how and when to use that voice. 10 years.

 

I’ve held onto some of these poems for well over 15 years. I’m sure that there are more that have been lost or destroyed out of fear that someone would find them, read them and I’d be punished for my thoughts.

 

To be honest, it wasn’t until 2015 that I began to take a look at how all of these factors played into my current mental health. In November 2015, upon suggestion by a psychologist, I voluntarily committed myself to a behavioral health observation unit for 24 hours. Here I was with a whole degree in Psychology sitting there trying to “figure some things out.” Within these 24 hours I learned a lot. I learned that what I had been dealing with was in fact depression along with anxiety. I also learned that if I didn’t deal with it properly, I’d either end up back in the observational unit or worse. It was a chance that I wasn’t willing to take.

 

Deep diving into depression isn’t an easy task. Everything has a root and most of the issues that we face go back to childhood. Reflection forces you to not only hold yourself accountable but it requires you to confront those that contributed to your depression. They don’t get a pass. I forgave myself and them as well. I understood that I could no longer use this as an excuse. I had to move on. Everything needed to be unpacked.

 

Luckily for me, many of these poems were of great help. They were reflections of where I was mentally. I hadn’t looked at these poems in 12 years and here I was digging them out of a bin in search of understanding. I found a binder and began organizing them.

 

 

I debated on how and when I wanted to share my thoughts with the world. I reasoned that if I could help myself, just imagine how many others could possibly be inspired to tell their stories.

 

Over the past 3 years, I’ve been slowly leaking a ton of these poems on my social media and at open mics. It amazed me how much people could relate. There were others who had been journaling and battling with depression for years as well. Some even had the same fears that I had.

 

The universe has a funny way of letting you know it’s time for a shift. I’ve had the ISBN number for Museum of Thought since August but didn’t start typing until I had a private mental breakdown and quit my job. I knew then that the time had come. It was time to release my collection and to be transparent.

 

As you read Museum of Thought, I ask that you reflect back to being 13 years old. Where were you mentally? What mattered? What shouldn’t have mattered? At 16, what was pressuring you? At 18, what decisions were you making? At 21, who mattered and who didn’t? What was the vision that you had for your life?

 

Museum of Thought is a deep dive into what depression felt like as I transitioned from 13-21. It’s an example of what depression looks like for some of us- the strong friend, the happy go lucky person, the go getter. The nerd. The bookworm. The social butterfly.

 

Museum of Thought is a message to my younger self that I never needed to be perfect. I needed to be me. Beautiful things can truly come from broken places. Regardless of what happens, these things remain constant:

 

I am deserving of good things

I am my own light in dark spaces

I am not a victim of circumstance

The universe is aligning things in my favor

This journey is my own and I choose what to accept

 

What does your Museum of Thought say about you?

Giants

Spoiler alert. If you haven’t watched Giants, please stop here. If you claim to be a supporter of Issa Rae and haven’t seen it, I’m disappointed in you but still, stop here, go watch and donate.

Giants is a YouTube series created by James Bland, that follows a group of friends that are dealing with life’s pressures. The show is set in Los Angeles, California. The characters include Malachi, Journee and Ade. Malachi is a 29 year old black male struggling to pursue passions while trying to avoid a divine calling on his life that he hasn’t quite figured out yet. In Season 1, he finds himself becoming a male escort, getting evicted, moving in with his friend Ade and having the purpose of his dreams about running, drowning and being kidnapped revealed to him by a random stranger at the bus stop.

Journee is a 29 year old black female suffering from manic depression which has taken complete control of her life. The depression has caused her to lose her job and even spend days in bed crying and vomiting. She and Malachi were sharing living spaces prior to the eviction. She then moves in with her sister but the depression forces her sister to put her out, sending her to crash with Malachi and Ade. Journee meets a guy on Tinder but the relationship doesn’t last long as he and his ex patch things up, sending her into a deeper depression. Season 1 ends with Journee attempting suicide.

Ade is the friend of both Malachi and Journee. Currently a dance teacher, Ade struggles with accepting his own sexuality and the strained relationship that he has with his father because of it and his career choices. Ade allows Malachi and Journee to move in after they are evicted but quickly learns that there are boundaries that need to be established. Ade also has issues at work after showing interest in one of his female colleagues but accidentally invites her to a gay party.

Crazy right! But now that you are up to speed, let’s talk about Season 2.

Malachi expands his escort business with new employees and the employee gets arrested.

Journee gets a new job and robs the guy that robs Malachi.

Turns out Journee’s “Tinder bae” and his girlfriend live in her building.

Ade meets a guy- Kwasi but has to face the facts that he has feelings for Malachi.

Malachi does coke and puts everything he values on the line at his surprise birthday party.

The guy that Journee robbed to avenge Malachi kidnaps Journee.

And that ain’t even the half. But hey. Don’t just take my word for it. Click the link below to watch Seasons 1 and 2.