Sunday, August 11, 2019

On Time

    I was in the process of writing a post based on a prompt I read from Poets&Writers magazine. The prompt was to create a nonfiction document that covered key events over the past twelve months. Out of fear of divulging too much of my personal history with a public audience, I deviated from the topic and began an analogy between physical and personal growth. That post remained imcomplete and subsequently I deleted it to write this one. My goal is to now complete this current post in one sitting.

    One concept I have grappled with is time. Therefore I will write about it in this post. I gained my inspiration from a sermon I heard today on the very topic. Between the magazine's writing prompt, today's sermon, and the month-long blog post that got deleted, I decided that I have found an opportunity to address this issue directly in this post.

    There are two main things I have learned about time: the concept of it is relative and the reality of it can only be measured. Time as a concept is relative to one's own experiences and present reality. A person's awareness of this concept does not verify its reality. Time moves regardless of whether it is acknowledged. However, one's awareness of time shapes one's relationship with time. I believe that how one perceives time also ultimately shapes how one chooses to go about life's other decisions. This may be debatable, for there are circumstances that do not always stem fromr personal choice. However, the decision to make an act on a choice is also a by-product of one's concept of time.

    Time as a measurable concept allows one to own and make decisions. If one understands the measurement of time, one can decide for oneself what to do with allotted time. Time is measured whether or not one is aware or actively measuring. The earth revolves, the sun rises and sets, living organisms reproduce and die. Even without numerical awareness, the events take place. With numerical awareness, conscious decisions can take place.

    On a personal level, I have experienced time both as an observer and active participant. I have observed years, days, and weeks pass by. I have observed the numbers on the clocks change, children growing older, and the physiological effects of the adults in my life aging. I have passively witness death and mourned the lives of those who are dear to me. As an observer, I learned that no one is immune to the effects of time.

   I have been both a willing and unwilling active participant of the measurement time. I have documented every birthday since my 15th year outside my mother's womb. I have counted down the time on the clock, computing the amount of hours before a dreadful task ends or an anticipated event begins. I have written down goals and tracked my progress. I have created schedules of my own and followed schedules created for me by others. In my active participation I have learned that as an individual, I have the power to choose what I do with and how I measure time.

    I have heard many wonderful quotes about time as it relates to the experience of time. I also have a few favorites. I could share them all here, but it would require me to search for them and in the process of searching, this too may become another unfinished post. Since I enjoy thinking and playing words, I will complete this post with a sumation of every quote or phrase I heard, seen, read, or thought of regarding the concept and measurement of time.

     Life is a summary of every experience, from the moment of conception to the moment one's last breath is exhaled. This universe is the only permanence we know and our existence in it is fleeting. For every beginning there is an end, and for every ending there was a beginning. Time is endless, for it lives on in memories.

May your time be well spent.

Friday, May 31, 2019

On Commitment

       I believe the biggest testament to commitment is the marriage contract.  To me, upholding a marrriage contract is not simply a matter of not engaging in extramarital affairs or dodging divorce. It is about being clear of one's own intentions and keeping the agreement made between two partners. Essentially, it is like any other contract between to parties: there are terms and agreements which both parties must agree to. Therefore, I understand that a breach in this agreement may necessitate divorce. I have also learned that when two parties no longer agree to the terms of the agreement, then a new agreement may be negotiated on. All of this is okay, however, the primary objective of any agreement is to keep it.
       I have been married for over a year now and if there is any lesson that I have learned, it is one of commitment.  The most recurring theme being keeping agreements. This has been one of the toughest subjects for me because I often either renegotiate or break my agreements, may it be an agreement with myself or someone else.
       For me, my first agreement regarding my marriage was to move to the other coast of Florida. This was agreed upon before we even had a formal ceremony or marriage certificate. However,  it took me three months to follow through. There was a lot of reneogtiating with regards to the time frame, but the agreement was essentially kept.
      There have been instances where we both have broken our agreements. Not in matters of traditional fidelity, but in matters of honesty. In those cases, I have learned the important and valuable lesson of accountability. Accountability, I have learned, is about taking into ACCOUNT how one's own actions have factored into one's own situation in life. It is not about blame, but about responsibility and ownership.
      For instance, prior to getting married, I told my husband I would be done with school within two years. This was in the Spring of 2017. I knew that it was possible, but I did not follow through. Rather than blame him for lack of support or myself for lack of initiative, I got to take into account what actions led to me not following through with my word. I was aware of my financial situation and set a very high goal that did not match up with my situation in life at the time. I knew I had to pay out of pocket. However, I did not take into account the other financial responsibilities that come with marriage.
      So from an accountability standpoint, I could say I did break my word to graduate within two years of getting married. The events that led to my breaking my word included working more hours than I did when I lived at home, adapting to a different schedule than I usually do, and lack of effective time management. Other factors included lack of finances and not pursuing alternative avenues to finance my education, while still upholding my other financial responsibilities. Factors that did help me get closer to my goal included taking additional classes and having at least one backup payment option to take additional courses.
     Realizing that I was not going to reach my goal in time was disappointing, but not devastating. My end goal was to graduate and I did not lose sight of the end goal. Being accountable allowed me to receive feedback from my biggest supporter and look at ways I could still commit to my long-term goal without being entirely out of integrity. So, I took on additional classes and decided to be more honest about where I was. Now, I am on track to graduate a year later than I initially anticipated, but it will still happen before we reach our third year of marriage.
       I think accountability also helps with preparing for future commitments. Realizing my areas of weakness that led me to be out of integrity, may help me in the future. One thing that I can do to ensure I keep future commitments is being honest with myself about what I can commit to and what I am willing to do to keep that commitment. Also, being present to who I am and what support systems I have available is important as well.
      Essentially commitment is about being honest and present with oneself. In marriage, it is also about being honest with one's partner. It is about knowing what it will take to be in integrity and being present to that. One vow I can pride myself in keeping is staying by my husband's side "through sickness and ine health". I think out of all commitments I had to keep, this is the one that stuck because it was an explicit vow that was made as part of our marriage contract. Both of us have been ill during the course of our year and a half marriage and have really had to put that vow to the test. Knowing that we both are able to maintain that reassures me that we could support each other through our other personal commitments.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

On Identity

  This is probably going to be one of the hardest posts for me to write.  This post is difficult for me to write because I find comfort in concealment. I can reveal just enough of my thoughts to appease the reader, without full exposure of myself. I do not write to express myself, as I believe every writer should. Rather, I write to empty myself of that which bombards me. I write to purge myself of demons and other vile monsters that attempt to plague my mind. I write to release.

When I originally created this blog, the intent was to share my work with a wide audience. I thought of posting my unpublished poems, sketches, photographs, and any other creative project I came up with along the way. However, as time passed, I realized that I wanted to share my thoughts, my opinions. I wanted to write what was within and bring it forth. The more I wanted it however, the less motivated I became to take action.

I think the greatest inhibitor for me is fear. As is usually the case when pursuit is greater than the ultimate gain. Fear dictates when and what I should publically write. Fear conflicts and confuses. Fear paralyzes. It freezes up every creative part of my being amd shuts my voice up within. It imprisons my mind and causes my heart to hide. It deafens and blinds me. Yet fear is my crutch.

In fear, I find comfort in knowing that my secrets are safe once more. That the heart that beats within me can still beat, quietly. In fear, I find freedom to dream privately. I find that wishes do come true, just not in this reality. In fear, I can hide safely in the box that I built just for me.

However, I am experiencing growing pains. I am beginning to outgrow this box and fear is loosening its grip on me. The cry for freedom shatters my ears, causing me to hear whispers. Whispers. I can vaguely see light in the midst of my blind darkness and my throat croaks, just a little. The sounds of freedom make my fingers dance as thoughts slowly make their way out of my private mind into the public eye. My secrets threaten to spill out and will no longer be safe with me.

This post was supposed to be about identity. It took me almost a month to complete it. I began to write and as I was in the middle of a thought, I received a phone call. Back to reality. I have been trapped in reality since, but my mind kept wandering to this post. This post that was supposed to be about identity, but wound up being about fear.

Friday, August 10, 2018

On Marriage

     Tomorrow I will be celebrating one year of marriage. It has been quite an interesting journey: two people from two completely different backgrounds living communally and learning how to love one another. During the course of our one year journey we have experienced our highs and lows. Yet, here we are almost a year later.
This might not appear as much of a feat, given that many people I know have had dating relationships for years before they break up.  For me, though, one year is a great accomplishment. Prior to this, my longest nonplatonic "committed" relationship barely lasted  4 months.
     I have learned that marriage is more than making compromises. It is also learning how to play team and being completely committed to having the TEAM win. It is loving the beautiful and not so beautiful parts of myself and allowing another person to do the same. It is being unashamedly authentic, honest, and messy. The last part was the hardest for me and still is.
    Being unashamed requires letting go. It is a different kind of freedom, one that I  seldom experience and have learned to embrace in my marriage. Authenticity is an art form. It comes only once one has accepted one's self wholly and completely. Honesty is a form of authenticity. There is no deception, no story. Being honest requires the willingness to to look within and also be outward focused. It is not about self-preservation, but rather about self-awareness and awareness of others. Being messy is a beautiful thing. To be messy, truly messy, requires a dose of shamelessness. To be unashamedly authentic, honest, and messy is an ongoing process. It is not something that one just DOES or IS, it is an every day learning process. For me, that is what it has been.
    My greatest lesson thus far is that I am human and not only do I make mistakes, but my partner is just as human as I am. We both have expectations, we both have ideas, we both have desires. We each have something to contribute in this process. We can continue to grow with and learn with each other, even when we believe we learned everything. What was once a scary big leap has now become a fun adventure.
       At one year, my husband and I are still new at this. We have the commitment and drive to make it work, yet I know that there will be moments of doubt. There will be moments of jubilation and triumph. Moments of despair and exasperation. Moments of peace and contentment. We are just embarking this journey of discovery. The best is yet to come and as my husband always reminds me: "It'll all work out".

Friday, October 27, 2017

Home

       Home. A term used to describe a place that one dwells in. The place of comfort, the place of familiarity. It can be a country, a building, a city, or any location with which one is familiar.
When I see the word home, I think of a drawing which contains a triangle on the top portion of a square, and other smaller geometric shapes inside the square. The picture usually contains a yellow triangle a few inches away from the triangle and square image. Every time I see the word, that is the image that pops into my head.
When I hear the word home or a reference to such place using different terms in various tongues(kay, casa, lakay, dwelling), I get different visuals. The visuals vary depending on the language and term used as well as who is using it. It also varies depending on context.
      When I say home, I speak of a dwelling place. The place which I currently inhabit. When I think of home, however, my mind drifts off to a different time and place which only now exists in there. I think back to a younger me, a part of myself that now exists in memories. I think of dim lighting and one room apartments that share one bathroom. I think of a time when I was free to roam the alley on my own because everyone knew each other. I think of buildings made of plywood and aluminum all built close together with no clear street in between. I heard that the buildings are all demolished now due to the late Hurricane Irma. I have not been there since I left 15 years ago, so I probably would not have recognized it much anyway.
        When I think of home, I think of a pink house located in a suburban neighborhood. I was not allowed to play outside, which confused me because I knew where I lived before, playing outside was never an issue. I think of the big window in the living room and the awe I felt when experiencing the vast indoor space. I think of the family members whom I only knew by name before. I think of various relatives who would come and stay for days, weeks, months, years, and then disappear to other far away towns. I think of Thanksgiving meals and parties. I think of church services that took place in the pink building. Services where people came, gathered, sang, and prayed. I think of long trips to other church services where the same people gathered, sang, and prayed in a much larger rented space and a pulpit for the preacher. I think of meeting my aunt for the first time, not knowing that she would be a central figure of my life growing up.
      When I think of home, I think of the various streets I roam seeking solitude and freedom from the confines of walled space. I think of long bus rides to anywhere. I think of every person who has requested my free services. I think of phone calls and long conversations that never seem to end. Even when they do. I think of nights leaning against trees and experiencing the comfort of the trunk against my back. I think of nights sitting on the back of a black sedan, leaning my back against the glass, listening to the wind, watching the moon and the stars.
        When I think of home, I think of the man I married. I think of the unconventional nature of our relationship and the tenacity to make it work anyway. I think of long trips and daily adventures. I think of pain and struggle and the comfort of knowing that there is someone I can call. I think of the mystery and thrill that comes from loving and being with someone who lives miles apart. I think of apartment searches and hoping maybe this is the one. I think of anticipation and faith, fuels that spark the fire of hope. I think of the comfort that fills me each time I hear the words:"It'll all work out".
      See, home is many things. It is everything. It is where I go when the experience of living overwhelms me. It is the comfort I gain from knowing that my issues are far smaller than the universe. It is not one place, but many. As it is often said, and as I often hear: home is where the heart is.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Perspective

This is the second of the two blog posts I promised I would write. The first was about writer's block and, on a greater level, about self-sabotage. This post is mainly a reflection on how I choose the perspectives in view points that I do. Not only how I choose them, but also how I choose to respond to and share these perspectives. I actually started with an earlier draft, but amidst the business and distractions of my day, the post remained frozen and untouchable on my app. I cannot access it through the main site. Really, the post is a phantom and in some ways reflective of myself.
        Like my phantom post, I tend to remain in an unedited and unpublished state when it comes to self-expression. The thoughts are there, at times they even escape my mouth. But only when no one is looking. Once the expectation of an audience is present, my thoughts return to the safety of my mind, and my actions resume their automatic programmed status. The automation of my actions are wired to the expectations of my environment. In the event thay I am either unsure or unaware of what is expected, I simply numb and quiet myself. Silently hoping that I am both seen and unnoticed.
       I have dubbed myself a walking paradox. This label I gave myself at some point in high school. I accepted  this label upon learning the definitions of "oxymoron" and "paradox". I knew even in my immature teenage years that my actions and my thoughts were often juxtapositioned. The words I say to myself and those I express out loud would be on either sides of the debate. I never was a stand for what I truly believed. Only for what I thought others believed of me.
        I also labeled myself a myriad of obscenities as my age became more advanced. I was two-faced, fake, dishonest, disloyal, unworthy, untrustworthy, and a plethora of others that I either chose not to remember or am to ashamed to write on this public platform. This is probably the most intimate anyone will get.That last statement was a lie.
      As far as perspectives go, I was either perceived to be a "good girl" by other adults or something else by my parents. I suppose I wanted my parents to approve me the same way outsiders did. That desire for approval was my driving force for the past 23 years of my life. As I grew older and less appealing, the stronger the desire to please grew. I lost myself in it. The more I wanted it, the less I received it. The easier it became to find reasons to foster a paradoxical relationship with them.
       It appears that I may have strayed from the central point about my perspectives. The central point is I became a willing robot. An eager to please one. Whatever a person wanted me to be, I would pretend and be just that. My opinions were few(though in fact they were many) and my compliance was easy. As I advanced in my development however, this became an issue. This desire to please and be seen and liked and gain approval. It tore me apart in my friendships and romantic endeavors. It did nothing to repair or augment my relationship with my parents. If anything, acting on my growing desire to be the star jester only created room for hostility and resentment. Hence, the prior post on self-sabotage. Hence, why I find every excuse for failure(though I really cannot stand to fail).
        With this unreciprocated desire to please everyone(including myself) without any clear commitment to actually forming solid relationships with anyone, I was bound to go mad. Really. Fortunately, I did find one safe space to pour out my most honest and raw perspectives on life. This was through my writing. I still have trouble actually vocalizing my opinions. It really baffles me. The thoughts are there, the words are there, and in front of an invisible audience, even the voice and projection are there. But when I am placed in front of live humans with advanced cognition, humans with opinions of their own, humans who are bold with their expressions and clear about their perspectives----when I am placed in front of such an audience, my brain goes back to the automatic. It becomes harder for me to say what I want, instead I merely become an echo. When I do say what it is that I think I want to say, it feels wrong somehow. The words used become the model of poor vocabulary. I suddenly realize that my volume has only one setting:low. My mouth cannot open wide enough to let the words out. I am almost mute.
        Even as I write, when my writing is public, I find ways to bury myself in my words. My perspectives become my own illusions. Though I like to say that perspective shapes reality. It does. The perspective I hold of being inadequate unless an authority figure tells me that I am good enough has shaped the reality of my constant need for acknowledgement and approval. My perspective that my opinions sound way better in my mind have shaped the frustrating reality of my voice not being heard. The perspective that I must be punished for events that I experienced as a child(a sure sign that part of my psychological development is incomplete) has created the reality of a cycle of self-sabotage.
        I know I am not the only person or creature on this planet who experiences bouts of inadequacy. I know I am not the only one who chooses to use self-talk as a mechanism to keep silent. I know I am not the only one who is aware of all this and still chooses the same unsupportive and backward behavior. I am probably not even the first to write about it from a personal perspective.
       But these are my words. My thoughts. For once, I can safely publically expose myself for all to see. To that, I can almost say  I am courageous. Almost, because I use written jargon to conceal my emotions. For me, the truest act of courage would be for me to share my songs, for they would require me to physically use my voice. For me, the truest act of courage would be for me to glimpse back at my past and rewrite my story so that it no longer haunts me. For me, the truest act of courage would be for me to not only admit that I am a scared little girl (everyone who knows me can see that it is my favorite act), but to allow myself to grow into the warrior goddess that is also me.
        This is only a step in my journey. I will not overlook the layers I have peeled in my private to at least come here on a public platform and lay out the insecurities that I experience. I will not ignore the fact that although I put on a show and then try to hide, there are multiple teams of people who fight by my side until I show the real me. I will express gratitude for my amazing friends. The ones who have seen me at my worst and stuck around anyway. The ones who call me out whenever I put on one of my charades. The ones from whom I can never hide no matter how far I go or how hard I try.
         My perspectives are not all destructive. I hold the view that every individual has the capacity to connect with their higher self. I hold the perspective that each individual has the power to create their reality and also shape the reality and perspectives others. I hold the perspective that underneath the identity labels and groups we create, we are all beautifully unique creatures with our own gifts to offer. It all sounds naive, but I am also a realist. I understand that as individuals, we at times need the collective identity to survive. I understand that although everyone has the CAPACITY to tap into their higher selves, not everyone will have the desire or motivation to do so. I understand that rules and laws keep societies strong. I also understand that attachment to these same rules and laws can lead to chaos and societal decay. This is especially true when adherence and enforcement comes without understanding.
     I once read a passage in which the writer stated "Know thyself". To me, this is one of the greatest truths that continually shape and reshape my overall perception on life and the story of my existence.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

On Obstruction

    I made a promise to myself and a select group of people that I would have two blog posts by the end of September. The moment I made that commitment, however, I experienced great resistance. My first thought: what are you trying to prove? The moment I thought that, I knew my commitment was going to be a challenge.
   Any time I explicitly commit to an endeavor, I experience some form of obstruction. However, I have learned that the key to removing an obstruction is recognizing its presence and its source. I consider myself quite masterful at the art of self-sabotage. Not a feat to worth bragging about, but one I pride myself in nontheless. Recognizing the creative energy that is involved in this form of obstruction has taught me so much about myself. It has also taught me how to become more aware of the foundational roots of my self-imposed obstruction. 
         To be masterful at self-sabotage requires some level of self-awareness and a measure of self-loathing. It also requires effort. Oftentimes it is subconscious---but the greater the level of obstruction, the more effort is required. This is true both literally and figuratively. I have come to realize that the more aware I am of myself, the more resistant I become to any sign of progress. This resistance in time evolves into obstruction, leaving me at a standstill in which I can not move forward nor move back. I simply become stuck. Often when I get stuck, I choose to ignore the blockage. When I ignore the blockage, I also fail to recognize the source of my obstruction. When I fail to recognize the source of my obstruction, I become complacent. When I become complacent, I allow myself to sink into depression. When I sink into depression, I become consumed in self-resentment. When I am consumed in self-resentment, I justify the obstruction that I created. Then, at some point, something shifts. I realize that I can continue in the cycle and wallow in self-pity or I can actually acknowledge the justified obstruction for what it is. 
        When I choose to acknowledge the obstruction, I also allow myself to seek the possibility of freedom. This possibility of freedom brings to my awareness the element of choice. I have a choice. Just as I can unconsciously choose to remain in a state of obstructive complacency, I can choose to be complacent and unobstructed. I can also choose to be completely free of obstruction. This awareness of choice also comes with great responsibility. It comes with the responsibility to choose awareness every time. It comes with the responsibility to be conscious of my thoughts and actions. It comes with the responsibility to choose freedom so that I may progress and allow myself to be who I am. Honestly and truly. It also comes with the responsibility of being aware of each time that I do consciously or unconsciously choose obstruction.